Monday, November 30, 2015


Hello.  What am I doing, of all people, sitting on a park bench while two young pit bulls play nicely right under my seat?  I feel the hair on my neck as I lift up my feet and smile at the owner.  "I've been bitten by a bull mix.  Didn't break the skin but it was a weird feeling to look up and see the dog salivating, but your dogs sure are cute."  Bless his heart.  Playing nicely.

I'm the five year old jumping up and down in the back seat of the yellow Ford Galaxy, screaming.  My first puppy has crawled out of the cardboard box and onto the floorboard.  We are both rather excited.  So is my mother who careens the car to the shoulder, stops the car and opens the door, flipping back the front seat, proceeding to corral the little puppy.  I don't think we had seat belts.  Otherwise, I'm sure I would have been strapped in for life.  I was petrified of any dog.  While the little Pekingese beagle mix was the pride, joy and love of our lives, the relationship didn't endear me to other dogs.

Cate picked out her first puppy.  Penny for a girl.  Pepper for a boy.  She always named any object with two eyes -  from stuffed animals, dolls to hand puppets and Goldfish.  Very clever.  We picked the second smallest puppy at the Humane Society and ended up with seventy-two pounds of love and muscle.  And my first experience with a big dog.  He was a fine dog.

Because of Pepper, I became more comfortable with other dogs, even stranger dogs.  But I'm still not a person to instantly gush over any dog.  I'm discerning.

As discerning as I am, here I sit in the middle of Washington D.C. on a beautiful morning as the noon bells ring from the nearby National Cathedral, which is a beautiful place to worship when one is in this part of town but obviously not today.  The well-fenced dog park is on the edge of a larger park which is circled by blocks and blocks of pink, red, and buff colored apartment buildings of varied ages and heights - very different than the world I know.  Truly a big city.

I imagine all these dogs being cooped up in tiny apartments finally being set free into this gravel covered expanse after passing through a sallyport to ensure no free range dogs.  The smallest is a Chihuahua wearing a turquoise designer hoodie.  He is standing to the side, not wanting to smudge his stylin' self.  But he is the only one not in movement.

At the pinnacle of my experience, thirteen to fifteen dogs are engaged in various pursuits.  At the second gate, new dogs are greeted with friendly noses.  The dogs run back and forth and around the park.  Old dogs just lay down and watch.  Every owner has a little plastic bag in their hand just in case.  There are a lot of cases.  Watson, Sherman and Boston roll over and over each other.  Maddie doesn't participate because she has had knee surgery.  Lili and Beignet are young dogs not yet experienced in knowing where their feet should be.  Their ears are as immature as their frames.  Every loud growl is meant to be in play or should be.  One owner throws the ball and five dogs fight for possession.

Collie.  Corgi.  Mutts.  Golden Doodle.  Beagle.  Chocolate Lab.  Hound Dog.  Bird Dog.  Three pit bulls, two of which are still under my bench.  And then the reason I am here, Zeke, a mini Aussie.

Now I am saying it again for the record.  He is not my grand-dog.  But if I were so inclined to have a grand-dog he would be a fine one.  He is zippy and smart as a whip.  Curling up in my lap also gives him credit.  It is not polite to discuss Zeke in front of my house dog, Oreo, who is older and wiser.  The elder statesman might discern a pitch in my voice revealing my true feelings about this soon- to-be interloper.  In a few weeks. we will all be one happy family.  The two gents will assume their accustomed positions with very few comments.  Life is better when played nicely.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Always expect the unexpected.  Because you should at ATL.  96 million passengers would agree. You can arrive at Gate 3, almost the tail end of Concourse T and walk a very long way, ride down the steepest escalator in known existence and catch the speedy train to the B Concourse.  Ride up another very steep escalator.  Merge into the human traffic jam.

Pause and refresh.  Watch someone flat iron their hair and repack a bag while sitting on the floor of the facility. Wash hands without touching any faucet.  Start down B concourse which is the same length of T concourse, about 5 football fields or so it seems.

Inhale the tobacco as you walk past the hermetically sealed Smoking Lounge because the book says passengers can no longer spit, chew or vape on an airplane.  Buy a $9 sandwich and a Cherry Coke.   Arrive at Gate B26, almost the last possible gate available in that region of the state.  Enjoy splitting the sandwich with your traveling companion.  A very fresh sandwich it is.  Pause to breathe.  And then, a crackled announcement ruins the moment.  Flight 456 will depart from Gate T3.  You have got to be kidding me??  Another journey back through the maze.

But the maze is not all bad.  There are people everywhere going everywhere.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should ever wear white knit shorts in November in Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta while winter clad people haul suitcases full of cashmere sweaters, fleece sweats, black leather boots, hand knit scarfs and flannel shirts.  Even if your suitcase holds a bikini, a terrycloth leisure set, another pair of white knit shorts, a halter top and a designer towel.  Put on some clothes for goodness sake.

I would not feel comfortable walking through this maze even in my good shorts.  All of these people hurrying from Gate B26 to T3 creating a circuitous route through the long concourses.  The beep beep beep of the Runaway Mine Train moving walking-challenged people in an efficient manner.  These folks are not wearing white shorts.

I know I don't have the legs for it even on a sunny day in my own backyard hundreds of miles to the west.  This person was ill advised at some point in her preparation.

This population is not dressed for go to meeting but they are not slobs.  New York City, Washington D.C. and Montana and France and England and maybe Tucson, Amsterdam and Mexico, Columbus, Ohio and Minnesota and Maine.

Only one person is walking around in white knit shorts.  Other travellers have the good sense to walk around in camo, ballcaps, leggings tucked into boots, military uniforms.  One man is wearing a fancy leather NY Yankees baseball jacket.  Another man is carrying his wife's pink and black sequined carry-on bag.  And what is the deal with carry-on?  It should be called "sets of luggage disguised as carry on."

A chic, older woman is surveying life behind large black sunglasses, wearing a tidy black beret over her soft, simple hairstyle, a black two piece suit cinched stylishly, pale hosiery with a sharp pair of black suede pumps.  A gold brooch finishes off her panache.  She will arrive in classic fashion.  Obviously, Ms. CC has not eyed Ms. WS.

A toddler with duck yellow boots is being packed along kangaroo style by his father.  Fringe is hanging off of purses, sweaters, hats and boot tops.  Every other person is sporting the controversial red Starbucks Coffee Cup or a cool pair of ear buds nonchalantly hanging from their neck.

There are so many people it makes you wish you had the patent on the rolling bag.  So many people you think you would see someone you know.  But you don't.  Only your life's partner.  You still recognize him.

The automatic trash bin is annoying but obviously not enough to wake the people sleeping on the floor of the airport - in their tropical attire.  I definitely would never sleep on the floor of the busiest airport in the world even if I was arriving or departing and everything got mixed up.  Maybe sleep in a chair - very uncomfortable to sleep with your mouth open in front of complete strangers.

Arriving and departing.    For a funeral, a wedding, a class reunion, a family member having surgery, the uncertainty of a new love, a job interview.  Leaving a new grandbaby, a film festival, a prayer meeting, a cross-stitch convention, a pineapple farm.

A harried mother with one stroller.   A little pony-tailed cutie is trying to keep up with her mother who is weaving through people, around chairs to the automatic trash bin and back to the stroller.  A baby is squirming in the mother's arms.  The little girl leans over the stroller while the baby is being buckled in.  "I'm going with you."  A little reassurance is all we need sometimes.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

W.D.C. Blue Sky November Day

2:25 p.m.

Five minutes waiting, scanning the parking lot.  A 28 year old woman emerges from the hotel, walking across the cross walk.  Stops, looks back and up to the 8th floor.  She waves.  Smiles.  I wave back.  I press my black cardigan to the window to show my spot.  Thumbs up.  She sees me and walks into the garage.

*The bride and her groom, turning back to wave before getting in the limo, heading for their new life.

A 20 year old, beloved BMW, now residing in D.C., leaves the garage, headed for the toll booth.  The chipped, teal paint is camouflaged by distance and a former owner's loving vision.  The shadow of the garage cannot hide her peek under the visor and her quick waves up to me.

*The college coed, walking just to airport security, turning to look back and wave, before heading to Italy in June.

She pays for parking and drives into the bright sun flooding the front seat.

*Red, silk chiffon.  Black and white tux.  Waving as the car backs out of the driveway heading to the prom.  Four years later unsuspecting husband and wife.

She stops at a T in the road.  No traffic.  Just underneath my window.  We exchange several big waves.

*3 years old preschool.  Walking down the stairs together.  Who's my favorite girl?  ME.  Me?  NOT YOU!  ME!  She lets go of my hand and heads into her classroom.

Another few waves.  I press my palm to the window.  She smiles and turns right and away, up the street.  2 hearts.  2 hands.

The yellow leaves of 37 trees cannot compare to her shining spirit, her golden hair.

I go to grab my journal and the peppermint Chapstick falls to the floor.  I've been looking for it the entire trip.  I got it on my last minute pre-trip run to Walgreens.  I thought I lost it on the plane when I rolled up my jacket for a pillow.

Letting go is never easy.

Randomonium Post #100

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Meatloaf Nirvana

The kitchen sink.  I do not like my meatloaf with a little of this and that thrown in.  I do love bell peppers and big chunks of onions and oatmeal but not in my meatloaf.  I was raised on the falling apart meatloaf.  My mother is a delicious cook but I do not prefer her meatloaf.

Grandmama's spatula 
And then I discovered my favorite meatloaf.  I was a grown woman with a toddler in tow visiting my Grandmama when I realized it.  I had been eating her meatloaf for years.  Ding, ding.  I like this meatloaf.  Infact, I love this meatloaf.  It doesn't fall apart.  What is the magic ingredient?  Good old Lipton Onion Soup Mix.  I know this cheapens me in certain culinary circles but I don't care.  I have served my awesome meatloaf to folks who don't even like meatloaf and they love my rendition!

Therefore, and because I can't hold back any longer and I haven't put a recipe on line in over a month, I'm offering up this humble but delicious, extra-special loaf of meat.  Any complaints can be directed to me but I don't expect any grumbling.  Just be happy I am sharing my secrets to being a good cook.  And it all started with watching Grandmama pick apart her bread to start the process.

When I swooned over her meatloaf, Grandmama got up and copied it down for me on this yellow piece of paper.  I love having special recipes in folk's handwriting.  However, this recipe is only my jumping off point.  It has been tweaked for my liking.  But it was the catalyst.  Don't try to read the fine print.  Just follow my recipe below.  Bliss!

2 lbs. ground round
1 lb. country sausage
1 1/2 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup Heinz ketchup (in the mix, more to be added later)
3/4 cup milk
2 pieces of whole grain bread, picked in small bits
3/4 cup of Progresso Bread Crumbs

5 slices of bacon, each cut in half

You will want to put your ingredients on the counter for about thirty minutes before mixing. Otherwise your hands will freeze off during mixing.  I have always mixed with my bare hands.  This time I tried to use gloves but they kept coming off.  I believe in good soap and hot water before and after. Mix well.  You may add a small bit of milk if the mixture is too stiff.

I use a 9 X 13 stainless pan for cooking.  It came with a nice rack and I put the meatloaf on top of the rack.  This keeps the meat from cooking in the fat and becoming a soggy, greasy mess.  Pat the meat out as pictured.  This is also a good size for meatloaf sandwiches.  You could also use two loaf pans.

Take the halved pieces of bacon and arrange across the top of the loaf.  Finish with a nice covering of ketchup per picture.

Cook at 350 for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until done.  I also put my meatloaf under a low broil for ten minutes to brown the top nicely.