Do, re, MI! (random musings)

July 12, 2007 at 3:17 AM (Inedible pleasures, random musings)

This would be what happens when a batch of candy totally doesn’t work out, (it was made of left-over syrup from another project anyway), and I decide to get vainly creative:


Speaking of left-overs, of late I’ve been trying to diminish my stock of frozen, already-made food from the freezer. Since I usually cook only for myself, it’s very easy to make too much of something; therefore I freeze what I don’t consume. And then, one day, I’ll happen upon a container of food, the taste of which I’ve totally forgotten; curiosity then prods me to thaw it.

It sounds like a winning system, but I’ve run out of space to add anything. And especially now is not a good time, as I like to freeze a few summer vegetables for use in winter….so, that means it’s time to relax and reflect back on things I’ve made over the past year. (Apparantly this means a lot of sambar and rasam! So, I had to make dosas….idlis for tomorrow)

Very thankfully, Bee of Jugalbandi has tagged me for random musings. 7 things….Here goes…


I am a total organization freak! I have always been this way. As a child, my parents never had to tell me to straighten my room because I had very particular spots for everything I owned; and if something was moved while I was away, I would immediately know when I returned.

I relaxed a little bit when I lived with my former lover of seven years in Kewaunee. He was a total slob! For awhile, I tried to “help” him, but seriously it takes constant vigilance to maintain a system: setting one in place is only half the battle. I gave up when my attitude became too frustrating for both of us- trying to “follow his trail” plus maintain my own things got to be way too much to handle. Reaching that point was a great relief, because then I could return to dealing with my own things, plus letting go of “getting on his back” allowed him to deal with the consequences of his habits (ie: having to spend a whole day putting things away before his parents came to visit).

I guess I just like to know where everything is. For me, it is utter bliss to be able to locate anything I own within 5 minutes.



This is a place I used to work at. A very memorable 2 years that ended on a full moon night.


I love rain. I love watching it rain from a sheltered place, or being right in it getting all wet. I love the cozy feeling of the sky covered by stratus clouds, a gentle rain just drizzling through the day. I love violent storms when the thunder crashes all around and lightening makes my hair stand on end. And the wind, oh how I love the wind…

The best storm I ever saw was on a trip through South Dakota- “pancake land” as I called it; you could see the horizon 360 degrees all around. The rain was so torrential that we had to pull over to the side of the road for awhile. We just watched. At any given time there was lightening to be seen somewhere in the sky. Absolutely magnificent!


I miss my grandmother very much. My father’s mother. She was not known for her cooking really, but when I was young she was very much a “second mother” to me, as my own was always too busy and too agitated for much one-on-one interaction. She taught me many things, least among them how to play card-games like rummy, blackjack, and unusual poker-games. Grandma had a nice, neat house with a huge collection of National Geographic magazines that I loved to read. 

Those and other things in her house were amazingly always in the same place for the many years that I knew her. Maybe I’m a little bit like her in that way. Above the console TV in her living-room hung a jewelry tree (these are traditionally made of broken pieces of costume jewelry) on green velvet that she had made many years before I was born. Despite its Christmas overtones (most examples are non-evergreen in form and mounted on black velvet), it stayed on the wall, in the same spot, all year long, year after year. When she died, I asked for it: 



I will always recall my first experience with chiles of any kind: I was 3-4 years old (until I was 4, my parents lived on the bottom floor of a divided house before buying one of their own, so this change of environment forms a good line of demarcation in the memory from my extreme youth) and had somehow managed to procure, from a kitchen-cabinet, several boxes of spices that I was fascinated to investigate… I ended up inhaling red-chile flakes into my nose! That was the beginning of the love affair…

The first thing I ever made for myself was a horse-radish-mustard sandwich….again when I was about 4. I am starting to consider that my folks might have been amused by this young food-preference for spicy things… 🙂


I dread unwelcome change- especially death. I’ve lost too many friends and family-members in the last few years to not be a bit saddened. And often death gives no warning at all, but there is no choice but to go on living, to cherish those memories of them…after all, it was all we really ever had of them. (this photo is of my friend Chuck, who died two years ago- at age 38- of meningitis)


I used to dread the approach of winter- it can really limit one’s enjoyment of the outside! But, these last few years it hasn’t been too bad- (less snow, more rain) I really think global warming is definitely taking place: our winters in Wisconsin seem to be getting milder, the growing season seems a bit longer; plants that were “iffy” for us to grow, to survive the winter, are doing fine. Selfishly I think it’s nice. Looking at the big picture worries me. I dread what may come to pass.


I’ll tell you what I have handy for reading on a small book-shelf in my study. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve opened the book- some I’ve read entirely, some I’ve pecked at like a bird tasting a bowl of seeds, some just have nice covers so far:

Wealth 101, Roger and McWilliams

an issue of Parabola magazine

Hoyle Official Rules of Card Games

A Treasury of American Superstitions, De Lys

Digital Photography for Dummies, King

The Three Pillars of Zen, Roshi Philip Kapleau

501 French Verbs, Kendris

501 Spanish Verbs, Kendris

Mixed Bag, Hutchinson

The Trial, Franz Kafka

The Annotated Alice, Gardner

Period, Dennis Cooper

The Brown Fairy Book, Lang

The Olive Fairy Book, Lang

The Arabian Nights, Burton

Literature of the Eastern World, Miller, O’Neal, McDonnell

A La Carte…, Berger

The Electronic Revolution, Burroughs

The Better Homes and Gardens Story Book

Bhagavad-Gita, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada




Thanks Bee….that was challenging, and cathartic as well…. I can see my audience meter plummetting as I speak! 😉

I’d like to tag:

Shilpa of Aayi’s Recipes

Manjula of Daalitoy

Musical and her Kitchen– oops! Tagged already I see..

Vee of Past, Present and Me

Trupti of The Spice Who Loved Me

Sharmi of Neivedyam

Cynthia of Tastes Like Home– tagged already

Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook– tagged already

Indira of Mahanandi

If they would like…


  1. sra said,

    Enjoyed reading this, esp the part about the rain and the jewelry tree – that’s new to me!

    Thanks! I’ve seen only two other jewelry-trees, and they were both made by women who were born around 1910 as well…a forgotten craft it seems, but such an excellent use of no-longer-wearable fashion accessories!

  2. Asha said,

    Great MeMe,well done!
    # 1 sounds like me.I am a perfectionist too and well organized!:))
    Ate a Horse radish and mustard sandwich when you were 4!! Whoa!

    I couldn’t get enough of them!

    It saves a lot of time to be organized don’t you think? 🙂

  3. bee said,

    hey, thanks, pel. it’s gave us a better glimpse into you. i love kafka’s ‘Trial.
    your grandma’s jewellery art is fabulous. it must have a lot of texture and i love the look of aged metal.

    so sorry to hear about the demise of your friends and some family members.

    cynthia and susan have already been tagged and have posted their MeMes as well.

    They have!? Most delicious reading while sipping coffee or tea I must say- thanks for tagging me. It’s been too many funerals these past few years; I feel fortunate to have known my grandparents so long, but Chuck passing away is a hard one to swallow- I still think of him quite often. Thanks for your kind words.

    Jewelry-trees are always one of a kind- if you attend antique auctions, keep an eye out for one! But even I have been thinking of making my own!

    I have yet to read The Trial, but I’ve read The Metamorphosis and his collected short writings: a unique writer!

  4. musical said,

    Hey Pel,

    That was a nice one 🙂 i enjoy rains too, and i keep my things in designated spaces as well!! The jewellery tree is so pretty…..and i understand what you mean in point 6…..the best we can do is to cherish good memories……

    thanks Pel, for sharing these lovely tid-bits…..i posted mine too 🙂

    I’m heading right over to the kitchen to see the juicy stuff after this! 😉

    It’s unfortunate that death is part of being alive, but it sure makes one appreciate life a bit more: the rain, beautiful things, good food, good friends.

  5. Anita said,

    You were serious when you said candied Pel!!

    As far as ‘organization’ is concerned – I think you are over the line, into the ‘obsessive’ realm 😀

    I absolutely love rain and thunderstorms! When I was in Kansas (I really was) people used to tell me I was crazy to say that! They have tornadoes…I was sorry that there was never a warning while I was there (I would be mostly away during that season – back home in Delhi)…

    And I cleaned out my freezer too…had to make room for them mangoes and lime juice 😀 Frozen fish got compacted into stock…sambar got consumed…there is still fried pyaaz there from the last boorani…and the blue cheese from stone-age 😀

    I’m doing the same to the larder – no new dals or beans till the whole stock is depleted. This is the season when everything seems to have creepy-crawlies climbing out (not in the US – you have too much pesticide in the air) – only tuvar daal was bought this month ’cause Baba needs his daily amti (and I am such a dutyful daughter-in-law… 😀 )

    Shouldn’t this count as my ‘7 random things’ too? (sorry for totally hogging your space – though I could say I am only returning the favour 😆 )

    Hehehehe…yes you are! I’m doing the same with my legume collection: no restocking until I’ve used up what I have…I’m out of toor/toovar dhal though…and that is KILLING me!

    We get creepy-crawlies here Anita….I’m used to it in the rice- they and the egg-infested grains float, so…but not as lively as sub-tropical climates, no….I can do without the centipedes though! (I freaked last week when one was crawling on my arm- I was laying on the floor, though…so I was asking for it)

    Blue cheese eh? Great on potatoes…

    We get tornados here too Anita! Mostly in spring… not as often as nearer “tornado alley”, but it’s still a feature of living in the midwest and the plains….the closest I’ve come is a mile away: the whole family was staying in our cottage; my father knew something was “odd” that night. In the morning we saw where the path had crossed the road our cottage was on- barns were collapsed, their roofs torn off. Not pretty! Nowadays, in the countrydside, there are huge sirens attached to high poles every few miles, connected to the weather bureau, that sound when doppler radar has detected a rotation- I’ll get a pic of one to show you- a siren that is!

    But I’d really like to see one as well! Haven’t yet, but I have seen dust-devils…

    Mild OCD…..yes! Comes in handy….. 😀

  6. sharmi said,

    o’ oh, I am tagged again! I am on my way to post my MEME and saw that I am tagged by you. I loved reading about you.

    Thanks! See, now you HAVE to post yours! 🙂

  7. Do, re, MI! (random musings) said,

    […] article at elaichietcetera delivered by […]

  8. Cynthia said,

    Pel, you and I are meant to be friends. Your MEME had me smiling and at sometimes saying, oh my gosh, there is another me out there?! 😀 Well, in some parts I am not the same. Here goes: total organization freak – oh yeah!

    I love rain. I love watching it rain from a sheltered place, or being right in it getting all wet. I love the cozy feeling of the sky covered by stratus clouds, a gentle rain just drizzling through the day. – this is as far as I go, no violent storms for me.

    I’ll tell you what I have handy for reading on a small book-shelf in my study. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve opened the book – I keep meaning to get to them but can’t seem to find the time.

    Now about the candy that went wrong. Was it really necessary to put it all over your face?! (lol) you are too much.

  9. santhi said,

    Pel…what a lovely read…i really enjoyed getting to know these ‘little things’ about you 🙂

    I feel so naked… I’ll need more candy! 🙂

  10. Anita said,

    Oh, I didn’t tell you – I spring-cleaned out the pickle cabinet as well!!

    Gave most of it away to my house helps…they were very happy. And I had clean empty jars to fill again. But I scaled it down this time – only 2.5kg of mango achars (two kinds), and 2 kilos of lime pickles (two kinds!)…

    I also plead guilty to buying some Andhra pickles a couple of months back…it was too much to pass on chilli pickle (the paste-like kind), the sweetened ginger pickle (that I had been looking for for the last 2 decades, and a tiny bit of tomato pickle) – after all, I don’t have recipes for any of these…and Andhra pickles are the best kind – red hot!

    I have a store-bought sweet ginger pickle- has raisins/sultanas in it…’s okay now and then. I also have an Andhra tomato pickle- quite good! I’m not making any more pickles for awhile until what I now have- which is too much- is used (yeah, right!). That was kind of you to give away your pickles…I’ve managed to find a few recipients of my home-made ones as well- a win/win situation! 😉

  11. Jyothsna said,

    Nice one Pel! I loved your grandma’s jewellery tree! Beautiful!

    Thanks! Amazing what can be done with bits and pieces of things that are often headed to a landfill eh?

  12. Susan said,

    Thanks, Pel, for tagging me, but as Bee mentioned, I’ve done this meme very recently (The “IT” Girl). I’ve been tagged for this by someone else as well, so I will play along, but w/ a twist of 7 Random Cookbooks, an idea I picked up from Lucy at Nourish-Me. Will post it sometime soon.

    Loved reading your meme. I can’t come to terms with death, either. It’s impossible for me to accept. Social scientists say we go through 7 stages of grief, sometimes in random order, except the last one, the acceptance. As if. Yes, we go on living and try to adjust, but it can be a real struggle. I’m sorry you have suffered such losses. I feel your pain, literally.

    I think slowly we come to a point where we are able to say to ourselves, “Gosh, I’m fortunate to have had the pleasure of knowing this person while they were with us…” -and less and less we think of the final moments and recall more of the entire time-line equally. It’s hard though…I find myself thinking ‘what if’ things…about little events that occurred all adding up to the demise, and which ones could have been interfered with. Unfortunately we can’t go back.

  13. Anita said,

    Did you pick up the rhubarb? I forget – you must have your nose buried in the HPATDH!!! Don’t say anything!

    No..I would never want to spoil it for others- good book though! It picks right up from where HP and the Half-Blood Prince left off and rolls right into some serious action. Which book are you on now?

    Yep…retrieved the rhubarb; I’m dehydrating as much as possible to send to friends in faraway places- even, I am finding out beforehand fresh to dry equivalent and will attempt to re-work a cake recipe around the dry product.

  14. Anita said,

    You are the sweetest -for not revealing though the Indian papers and TV media have been proclaiming “HP lives on forever!”

    …and for drying rhubarb for friends in faraway places 😀

    I have the last few (10?) pages to go thru in the Half-Blood Prince – that is what I did all Sunday!

    I read “…the Deathly Hallows” in 3 days- just finished it; I couldn’t put it down!

    The rhubarb dries nicely…the stalks contain quite a bit of water, as 3 C fresh = 1/2 C dried! Now, I’ll make another cake using the dried- soaked in liquid first. Hope it works, otherwise it could be ground into powder and used like amchoor or anardana.

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