Saturday, December 10, 2005

Monster Lab Game

Monster Lab Game
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
This photo was sent to me by Kirk Demaris who runs the wonderful kitsch and nostalgia Web site It's linked in my blogroll so check it out. I'm copying some correspondence I had with Kirk into the comments below, so if you are curious about the how the Monster Lab Game came to be my most current post, follow the thread.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Absolute Beginner

Rick at Wildcat 3
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
Last Saturday I stepped waaay outside my comfort zone to produce a story we needed for New Hampshire Magazine. The idea was to have a middle-aged person who had never before set foot in a ski boot, go to the slopes and try to learn to ski in a single day. I happen to be a middle-age person (if 53 still fits in that category) and I've never skied so I assigned myself the article. The experience was grueling, but rewarding. I did learn, but I'd hesitate to say that I can really ski. I got to that point where I knew I could go back and have a less grueling time. Anyway, here's me and my instructor, just before I went back up on the lift for my second run. At this point I was actually thinking about declaring myself unfit and going home. It turned out that I was glad I stayed. I'll link this post to the whole story when it's online at the magazine Web site.

Friday, November 04, 2005

That Real 70s Show

Originally uploaded by skinnergy.
My good old friend Billy Garrett, who was probably in kneepants when this photo was taken, sent me a link to a collection of photos from the Ft. Walton Beach nightclub scene, circa 1970s.

(You can see it here.)

I liked this one, mostly because of the highly evolved facial hair. I don't remember this band (Chissom) but it got me thinking about the names of other bands from that era. I remember Big Al Zipper and The Phaetons and The Little Juice Band (TLJB are pictured in this collection) but I'm shocked at how few of them I can conjure up from my misty brain cells. Nightclub names were pretty transient back then. I remember the Mind's Eye (some friends and I did the design for their psychedelic wall painting and logo). I remember the adult establishments like Cash's Faux Pas.

I'd love to archive more of this kind of Miracle Strip trivia for a possible book on the era. And if anyone has photos from the 70s of such night spots or even downtown hangouts like Jimmy's Newsstand or the Palm Theater (not actually downtown, but I think the downtown Tringas Theater was condemned due to health code issues), I'd love to start collecting them here.

Drop me a line if you know of some resources for such material. There must have been people taking pictures back then. And there must be a few folks who didn't totally blow out their memory centers with recreational drugs. Mustn't there?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Dragon Meets his Saint

The Dragon Meets his Saint
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
One of the many reasons that I've not been updating my blog (the main one being the distraction of having to hold up my end of a religious debate on the blog Detente. (click here to visit it.)) is that I agreed to build a "life-size" dragon puppet/costume for the production of The Reluctant Dragon by the Children's Theatre Project here in Concord. My family has been a part of this group for 10 years, so a contribution of this magnitude was called for, I guess. The dragon turned out pretty good. He performs very well on stage, thanks to some talented kids doing the voice and puppeteering. Here's a look at him in action. For any PETA or animal rights folks out there, fear not. St. George is only pretending to spear him. And he's, of course, only a pretend dragon. And, of course, a dragon is only a pretend animal.

Here's a link to a great album of photos from The Reluctant Dragon.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ode to (or for) Mom

Here's something that's been rattling around in the back of my mind for a long time. I've been feeling closer to my folks lately, even though I do a lousy job of keeping in touch with Dad and Mom passed on years ago. But somehow it seems right to try to carry on or complete some work that belongs to one's parents. I've been following in my father's footsteps in puppetry, and thinking about cooking and bread making to honor Mom. The following, I hope, explains itself. It's still a work in progress.

The Ballad of the Built-in Fingernail

While my mother always believed she could write
Her poetic musings took over at night.
With family in bed and the house still chaotic
She'd spin the mundane into something exotic.

But glasses of Coke mixed with old Heaven Hill
Doused the fire of her muse and gave it a chill,
And bright seeds of poetic inspiration
Bloomed into dark flowers of accusation.

Mom wasn’t content with how her life turned out.
She drank to find peace and her faith turned to doubt.
But still she had dreams and a few great ideas
Of how to make hay in the poetry biz.

She’d write an homage to Erma Bombeck:
An author best known for describing the wreck
That comes when a maid turns into wife and mom,
She turned foibles to fables with pen and aplomb.

While now we bow down to our domestic divas
Bombeck’s works were odes to a domestic Shiva.
Her observations were both funny and frank.
(And grass still grows greener o're the septic tank.)

My mother and thousands of others found hope
To know that it really was common to cope
With clutter and chaos and lackluster kids
And husbands accustomed to life on the skids.

Now our house would get cleaned for special occasions
And all would be ordered to our battle stations
When Grandmother came to survey the domain.
We’d shuffle the clutter and cover the stains.

And during one flurry of hectic housekeeping
Came the inspiration that Mom had been seeking.
“I wonder,” thought Mom, “why no mop, sponge or broom
Can finish the cleaning required of a room?

“Why no soap solution can lessen the toil
Of cleaning the final small, dark clumps of soil.
A vacuum can suck up the bulk of debris,
Dead bugs and dust bunnies that long to run free.

“But to whack that last lonely sticky detail
The weapon of choice is a good fingernail.”
“Aha,” said my Mom, “Here’s a message to share.
With housewives and cleaning girls everywhere.

“You’ve heard the commercials that tell you what’s new
To make your house perfect. Well tell them, ‘Scrub you.’
"You’re more than the sum of your cleaning supplies
And the greatest tool lies right before your eyes.

Someday an inventor will set us all free,
We’ll never more grovel upon bended knee
The greatest companion to woman and pail
Will be the Mop with the Built-in Fingernail!"

As epiphanies go, this wasn’t as hot
As a bathtub “Eureka,” or Einstein’s big thought
But Mom warmed her muse and she sat down to write
And writing continued late into the night.

I never did see the poem that resulted
But friends that she showed and the family consulted
Agreed that the poem was a quite worthy text
That rivaled the writings of Erma Bombeck.

“Submit it’” they’d urge. “It deserves to be seen
in Reader’s Digest or Redbook Magazine.”
But it's one thing to open your heart to your peers,
Another to welcome professional jeers.

As far as I know now the poem is still bound
In some yellow pad, nowhere to be found.
But in garret or attic it bears her initial
And glows like a light, hidden under a bushel.

Now Mom has passed on and left so much unspoken
That I collect each of her words as a token.
I cherish the wisdom she freely imparted
Much more near the finish than when I first started.

For life takes a turn when you get near the end,
And looking both ways as you head ‘round the bend.
Beginning and end shine with bright clarity
Revealing how simple life’s answers can be.

How time washes off all the grime of the past
Exposing the memories destined to last.
How things that seemed small in the daily debris
Can glow like the stars in God's eternity

So now it is my chance to say what I see
To my son and daughters who come behind me.
And something as handy as Mom’s cleaning tip
Is precious, indeed, to provide for the trip.

So here is Mom's motto for my kids to keep
Even when their dreams wind up in a heap:
Sure life is a mess, but don’t sweat the details.
As long as you’ve got your built-in fingernail.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Symbol Status

So much has been happening that I haven't been posting very regularly. I know, this statement reveals that I am not a "true blogger" or the opposite would be the case. Anyway I thought I'd post my Editor's Note, written for the October issue of NH Magazine, since it's probably more timely now than it will be when the magazine finally is shipped at the end of the month.

I posted this same thing to my "official" editor site, That's how lazy I am.

Here's the post:

My wife and I just dropped our son, our first-born, off at college. The ancient trees of his small campus in Maryland were throbbing with the shrill orchestra of cicadas that had recently emerged in droves from their 17 years of larval life underground. I plucked a few of their amber husks and showed them to my son and his roommates. I thought the cicadas were a particularly apt symbol for college freshmen. After all, their fine young minds were just emerging after a similar number of years in the cocoon of homes and public schools, but they were a bit too excited about the opportunities before them to dwell upon symbols of the past.

Back at home, one week later, Hurricane Katrina hit the shoreline of my past. When I was growing up in Florida, my family took an annual summer drive through Biloxi and over Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain Bridge on our way to visit my Cajun grandparents in Lafayette.

The contrast between the secure seaside village where my son was now soaking up great books, and the demolished seaplains of my ancestral homeland made me feel a bit like a survivor of some great tragedy, like a Jew who had traveled out of Warsaw before the Swastika cast its black shadow across Poland. (Can you tell we took a side trip while in Maryland, to visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C.?)

Since then I’ve heard many people trying to convert the devastation of the Gulf Coast into some kind of dark symbol: Environmental Revenge or God’s Wrath poured out because of Abortion, The War in Iraq, Mardi Gras Debauchery or Fill-in-the-Blank.

I’m a great lover of symbols. Like Orthodox icons, I see them as windows into heaven, links to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. But here’s a lesson I just learned from my son. Symbols pale beside opportunities.

The catastrophe on the Gulf Coast is big enough that everyone in America needs to lend a hand. It’s so big that other countries, so often the beneficiaries of American aid, have an opportunity to return the favors. The purpose of a powerful symbol is not to fixate upon the past, but to guide us toward the future. The great struggles of our history, from the Revolution to the Depression to Vietnam, have become guideposts for our culture. More recent ones, like 9-11, are still being processed. When the challenges are finally faced and overcome, each momentous event can become a symbol of hope and inspiration.

I hope that when Hurricane Katrina is finally boiled down to a historic icon, it stands not as a symbol of judgment or disaster, but one of unity and self sacrifice. In a country (and a world) that is so often divided against itself, that’s the kind of symbol I can get behind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rick with Puppet Friends

Rick with Puppet Friends
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
We just got back from a long drive to explore the neighboring state of Vermont and to visit good friends Ernesto, Kristen, David and Sophia. A highlight of the trip was a visit to the Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, north of St. Johnsbury. We arrived there as it was growing dark, just in time to visit the museum for a minute before the Friday night "dance" performance. The evening was cool and damp and there was a feeling of destiny in the air. Young creative people hovered about and older creative people mingled easily among them. Odd wooden buildings, old vehicles, a painted bus and a myriad of unfinished projects seemed to sprout from the soil and weeds. At one point, Jemi mentioned that the Bread and Puppet farm must remind me a bit of our old farm in DeFuniak Springs, and I replied, "It's like the Farm fully realized." And it was uncannily like the farm might have been if my friends had focused their creative energies and allied with those of my mom and dad. Puppetry and bread baking were always key expressions of art (and love) in my family. I'm still making puppets (so is my dad). After this trip, I'm planning to try my hand at baking bread. Peter Schumann, the genius behind the theater, uses an outdoor clay oven to bake the bread that they hand out at their pageants. I've begun to investigate the materials and specs to put such an oven in the backyard here at 233 South St.

I guess artistic hunger is contagious.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Frank Thompson Joins the Foreign Legion

Had a nice e-mail back-and-forth with one of my best old friends and learned that he has a Web site. It's very cool, so I'm linking to it below. Frank Thompson encouraged me to submit the very first article I ever had published in a "real" magazine. He also introduced me to the pleasures of silent films -- D.W. Griffith to Georges Milies -- and to old black and white classics like "Scarface" and "Beau Geste." In fact, the page I've linked to on his site has an essay on the French Foreign Legion, one of Frank's many eternal boyhood obsessions, but every page in his site is as packed with treats as a new bag of marbles and evokes the past like a whiff of smoke from the barrel of a cap gun.


Frank Thompson--Foreign Legion

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Graduation Day

Graduation Day
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
I suppose the past couple of posts are good illustrations of how quickly the milestones pile up when your kids are teens. Day before yesterday prom, yesterday graduation, today sleeping late and avoiding work, tomorrow a bright collegiate future. We hope. At least we have this photo of a pretty special day.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Prom Mom

Prom Dan and Mom
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
As a maturing parent, facing "phase three," i.e. the prospect of adult children, I've come to realize that kids owe their parents a few things. They owe some modicum of respect amidst the sheer emotional and physical chaos of growing up. They must provide at least one real moment of eye contact and mind meld each year, so that the parents can know that, deep inside, the kids are all right. And the kids must eventually leave home and not come back without grandkids. Jemi expects a bit more than this. When Daniel and his girlfriend, Lauren, split up in the waning months of senior year, she felt personally robbed of one of her expectations: prom photos. Turns out Daniel and a number of other eligible seniors were going solo. In Jemi's day, many suffered though less-than-ideal dates to the prom or even experienced the ignominy of getting "fixed up" for propriety's sake, so this concept took a while to soak in. He made things worse by implying he might attend the prom in one of his band disguises (he has a group called "Mystery Flavor" that plays funky music in hot pants, for instance) but Jemi tripped him into at least getting a tux. Soon Daniel's love of wardrobe kicked in and he found one he liked. Prom day arrived and we went to a friend's house where the backyard was in bloom and the kids could pair off in the sun and be admired by all the parents. They indulged us. We embarrassed them. And although we didn't get a picture of Daniel with a beautiful girl on his arm to post on the eternal refrigerator, I did get this shot of him with the woman he loves.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bright and Beautiful

Prom Pix 1
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
Dan and his friends pose on Prom Day, June 2005. You know, they probably don't have a clue just how beautiful they really are. I never made it to my senior year in H.S. so I never had to deal with the prom thing at all (I'd have probably sat it out), but the prom ritual became clearer to me having witnessed it through my son. It's really phase one of a two-part coming of age drama. The prom is where the kids stay out late (or all night, in our case) doing God knows what, so the white-knuckled parents pretty much have to say, "I've done all the moralizing I can do for them. They are now morally independent units." The next phase is graduation where the parents have to say, "I've done all the homework and schooling I can do for them. They are now intellectually independent units." Of course, deep down, you never let go, but these rituals take a little bit of the pressure off. I suppose the final phase is graduation from college when the parents say, "I've spent enough on the little ingrates. They are now economically independent units." I can dream, right?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Broussards at MacDowell

Broussards at MacDowell
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
Today is both Mother's Day and the birthday of my wonderful wife -- a woman who has told me repeatedly that blogging is essentially a self-centered practice for which she has little time or patience. In her honor (and to prove her slightly wrong), I'm posting this photo of a few of my favorite people who are not me. Happy Mother's Day/Birthday dear Jemi.

I love you more than ever.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Timely Invitation

Today is the date of the Time Traveler Convention taking place place at MIT. It's a rainy day in the Northeast, so this may discourage any future folks planning their weekend visits to the early 21st century. Still, the convention planners say that if time travelers don't show up in force there are only a few possible explanations. Either (A.) time travel is impossible, or (B.) Earthlings never figured it out, or (C.) the announcement of a Time Traveler Convention at MIT just didn't generate enough buzz and support in the present. It would take a lot of noise to make an impression that could last until such a time that time travel is possible and the invitation just might never reach its intended audience. (Planners actually recommend that supporters of the concept slip acid-free paper announcements into obscure technical books in libraries to help publicize it.) I guess a fourth possibility is that the future got the message and just had better things to do with the technology.

I engaged in a similar bit of silliness myself awhile ago when I was asked to send a message to the people of Portsmouth in the year 2100. They buried a time capsule at the John Paul Jones House as part of some kind of centennial ceremony and I was among the dignitaries who got to toss my two cents into the next century. I was going to say something very serious and official sounding, but then I realized that one-way communication with the future was pretty unsatisfying. I decided to ask the future recipient to attempt to get a message back to me. I explained that, while physical travel through time might never be possible, what about digital communication, or something like telepathy? I even speculated further. What about prayer? Since the afterlife and eternity are concepts that transcend time, the only true time travel may indeed come when we "slip the mortal coil," so to speak. What is prayer but an eternal act performed by a temporal being?

I noted all this to the future person and wrote something like, "Way back in the late 20th century, many people believed that a man named Jesus Christ was the only real time traveler. He was around before the foundations of the earth and will be around after the universe has run its course. If this is true, then the best way to get a message to me would be to connect with him."

Wouldn't it be cool to arrive at that great time traveler convention called Heaven and to find out that the message got through?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Time Travel via Offspring

A middle-aged man finds himself catapulted into the past. Standing there before him is his 30-year-younger self, lean and inquisitive, cocky, unaware of the pitfalls, the heartbreak, the struggles just ahead on the path of time. Even as the middle-aged man recognizes his younger self, the time portal begins to recede and he knows he has only a short while, a magical opportunity in which to speak, to warn and to offer encouragement. Words pour out: advice, prophecy, reassurance, admonition, secrets of life. The younger man ponders the wild apparition with a grin but without a glint of recognition. The first distraction calls him away from the scene. The portal closes. The middle-aged man, along with his prophecies, fades back into the future, mostly forgotten.

This is the experience of having a teenage son.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Amarcord or not

Trying to get the memory ball rolling for others by posting my own comment to my last post turned out to be a bust. The only response I got was a note from my dad, disputing some of my recollections. He remembers the little boy who found the gun in his father's truck, but says he shot his sister, not his brother, and Dad says he didn't ever bring him to the farm. But he did remember the story about the little boy in the witches cradle. When I asked him who that little boy was, he couldn't remember, and finally conceded that my recollection might be right. I'll concede that the boy shot his sister, not his brother. But the whole thing is a reminder of just how slippery a creature a memory can be.

I'm struggling lately with memory issues. And I'm becoming aware of how much of human behavior revolves around this kind of struggle. I know that I often don't speak to people in casual social situations because I really should know their names but I can't remember them. It just stands to reason that what I imagine to be rude or snobbish behavior from middle aged acquaintances of mine might often be simply their inability to place me.

For day-to-day business, my mind often works like RAM that clears when the power goes off, or one of those old slates that you write on with a stylus and then peel up the plastic sheet to erase the words. I'll keep some important fact in my head just long enough to pass it on to other people who need to know. Then, days later, those people will act as though they were never told and I have to dredge through the vaults for clues -- did I forget to tell them or did they forget that I told them? People become very defensive about this sort of thing, so I've taken to writing such communications down.

I suppose that my memory isn't really bad. I can still shine sometimes in my ability to pull details out of the air and facts from the past, but my memory is glitchy. And it's worse on some weeks than others, like a mnemonic biorhythm. But just as failing vision affects the ability to navigate a crowded room, glitchy memory makes conversation or social interaction more difficult. You have to adapt new tools and techniques, and become more forgiving of others.

It's not exactly reassuring, but it puts it in perspective to realize that I've always had a struggle with memory, particularly remembering names. Even in my youth, close acquaintances have become blanks to me when I've been called upon to handle introductions. And yet I can still recite nonsense poetry that I learned from Mad Magazine when I was 12.

Grundig Blaupunkt
Luger Frug
Watusi Snarf Wazoo.

Nixon Dirksen
Rebozo Boogaloo.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Head 'em Off at the Past

As I continue to blog, I've come to realize something about the form. It's really all about weaving information, memories and connections, into a unique pattern that reflects the life or interests of the blogger. Ultimately, new strands must be drawn in, and this search for strands, for me, has become a recall of memories of the past. After all, memory is like a song in search of a refrain. Or so I thought.

I've been sending out notes to old friends. "Check out my blog," I write, hopefully, then ask: "What do you remember of those strange days when we always had something to say, when we were too fascinated with life to have anything to do with boring people? Recall some of the routine magic we conjured up, the fatal errors we survived, the intentional deaths we took in stride."

So far, no one has taken me up on the offer.

A couple of old friends are too caught up in present day realities to dwell upon the past. A note from one of the pivotal figures of the "olden days" wrote me the following:

"What we did in the 60s and 70s..... I don't remember.  The parts I do remember would probably sound more like a confession...the other areas would not be believed.  I have a hard time believing them, sometimes...."

I guess it is a lot to ask, for people to distill the most sensation-drenched period of their lives into an anecdote or two, but I'm puzzled by the reluctance of some to revisit the past. So this entry is simply another invitation. What was a defining experience for you when you were still young enough to be defined by experiences?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

An Idea I Intend to Steal

What follows is a list from a blog belonging to Steven Riddle that I stumbled upon. I love the concept and may try to turn it into a magazine article. It reminds me of a story that local historian Fritz Wetherbee tells about how he once peed on Betty Davis (he was a baby at the time). My dad, famously, once ate meat from a prehistoric animal (mastodon? giant sloth?). Anyway, I need to ponder my own list (which will not be nearly so impressive as Mr. Riddle's), but I eagerly solicit submissions from my readership (all five of you) of your own lists of things you've done that most others probably have not.

Flos Carmeli: March 06, 2005 - March 12, 2005 Archives: "10 Things

Okay, I've resisted temptation up until now, but like Oscar, 'I can resist anything but temptation.' So my list of ten things most others might not have done:

1. Won first prize in an annual James Joyce writing competition for a poem composed in a composite language modeled on Finnegan's Wake

2. Named a species of fossil after my wife. (It was a compliment not any implication about the spouse.)

3. Had dinner and a knock-down drag-out fight with Stephen Jay Gould over the theory of contingency and whether it properly understood was science or not. (Okay, I admit it, that's an exaggeration. Let us say an animated and lengthy discussion complete with table napkin drawings and other paraphenalia.)

4. Went to a poetry reading (and read) in a State Penitentiary

5. Demonstrated origami for International Children's Days on the National Mall.

6. Assisted in digs on Mount Vernon Grounds and Williamsburg.

7. Helped excavate a mammoth, a dog-faced bear, and a peccary the size of a horse.

8. Went on a field trip to San Salvador, Bahamas to study modern carbonate depositional environments and joined the islanders in an iguana and conch feast.

9. Sat on Sophia Loren's lap in a helicopter shuttle for Kennedy Airport to La Guardia.

10. Presented a paper in a National Geological Convention on the periodicity of Mass extinctions and was congratulated and assisted by no less than David Raup and Jack Sepkoski themselves.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What's in a Name?

I got the following note from my father the other day. I've been meaning to answer it, so I figure I might as well post my response here.

Dad wrote:
   A thought which I had early (about 4 or so AM) this morning, was the changing of one's name--even in a small manner, in the course of life. I'm sure someone has written about this. Percy [Gilmore - friend of dad's since his youth] changing his to Ken. My given Irvin to Bruce, and yours, slightly, to Rick. There are certainly reasons we do this, and, maybe consequences which might be interesting to explore. I know mainly that--I "ve gone through a few existential doorways during the early part of my life and for some now mainly forgotten reason--Irvin did not seem to fit. But the consequences, though not serious, sometimes create confusion in the ordinary commerce of daily life. "OH, I thought your name was Bruce!" And I got to thinking, could this give you a new and different persona, personality---maybe not.

I reply:
It's alway amuses me when I'm around my dad or one of my old friends and get called "Ricky." When I was 6, I actually "changed" the spelling of my own name to "Rickey." I don't know that any deep reason was behind my adding an "e" to distinguish myself. I remember I was at Lakeshore Drugs in Baton Rouge and looking through one of those racks of personalized badges, you know, "Aaron to Xavier," and the only one with my name on it had that peculiar spelling, so right then I adopted it. I was Rickey until I became Rick, I think in junior high. For a year or two, my son Daniel (his friends call him Dan) took to signing all his class papers "Dan!" -- no last name, just an exclamation point -- to the bemusement of his teachers. I do think that changing or modifying one's name is a rite of passage. Of course there are plenty of Biblical references to this rite: Jehovah changing Abram to Abraham, Jesus changing Simon to Peter, the passage from Revelation: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it]." I think it's safe to say that our relationship to our names has something to do with our relationship to eternity, or to God. After all, a name is an artifact, something added to you by an authority outside yourself, but it's also the only thing about a person that doesn't constantly change. Everything else is either superficial, like belongings, or temporary, like body cells and fluids, or evolving, like thoughts and affections. Your name is the one part of you that doesn't change unless you change it, or at least allow it to change. And it's the part of you that most genuinely survives death in the mortal world. A name is the icon by which someone is remembered, revered or maligned. So, maybe there is some real insight to be gained from how a person manipulates this icon in life. But, as Dad said, surely someone has written on this.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Milkweed Hill: Not Just for Ladies

Milkweed Hill: "I had a SAHM first this week, and surprising that it should have taken so long for this 'first' to come about. David, Sofia and I embarked on our first playgroup session. As a mom of a 2 and 1/2 year old and nearly 10 month old, you'd think I would have made it to at least one of these by now, but nope. Not formally, anyway. We've gotten together with other small groups of moms and their kids, but nothing quite so organized as this. I found myself looking forward to it and then immediately thought, 'oh how sad that this is exciting for me.'"

The above is the lead for a nice entry to the blog of my friend Kristen. Her site is ostensibly dedicated to "attachment parenting," a child-rearing concept that I would have viewed skeptically back when I thought I knew something about parenting (i.e. before my kids began talking back). Now, with my own brood eyeing college, I ascribe to the "whatever gets you through the night" school of parenting. Anyway, Kristen's blog doesn't really advocate for anything so much as it presents a keen eye on the circumstances and details in the life of a talented, dedicated stay-at-home mom. It's as warm and invigorating as a perfect cup of tea.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Broussard's Black Rice

Everyone should discover a tribute Web page like this (link below) somewhere, posted by an old friend. This one, dedicated to my family, has been up for a long time, thanks I guess to the stability of the Geocities community. It looks like the site hasn't been updated in a couple of years. The author of the page, Nancy Garrett Brown, was one of my best friends, growing up. She was pretty, funny, smart, talented and kind -- all in equal measures. Not to turn this into a mutual admirational society, but Nancy's own family (at least her brothers and her kids) always resonated with a spunky grace and a recognizable vibe. They were (probably are) all musical and brilliant and so inherently curious about people and things that in their presence you felt like your soul was drawn in, admired and tickled.

The recipe that Nancy uses to lead the page is one of three or four meals that defined the Broussard household at the farm. Two of the others were a savory lemon chicken and an incredibly rich beef stoganoff variation that my mom made. My sister still knows the secrets (though she's become a vegetarian) and my brother was the chef heir apparent after my mom died, but I'm getting more interested in cooking lately. I may have to attempt to recreate a few of these great meals from the past.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

My daughter the world-famous poet

About six years ago I was saying goodnight to my daughter, Eleanor, and we were talking about poetry. She said she didn't think she could write a poem so I challenged her to try. I told her to make the poem up and I'd write it down. At the time she was in the grips of a totemic affection for frogs and amphibians so the topic of her poem was no surprise, but the rhymes and the plot twist of what she dictated were so amusing that I not only wrote it down, I must have submitted it somewhere for publication. I say I "must have" because I don't recall doing so, but I don't know how else it could have wound up posted online. The truth is, I'd forgotten about the poem entirely but today at lunch Eleanor mentioned she had "discovered" it while Googling something. Sure enough, her poem "Frogs and Dogs" can be found on the Web site of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program and on a site for the Australian Joey Scouts. As far as I'm concerned, this makes my daughter a world-famous poet. Her poem, beloved on two continents, can be read below (including a typo that I don't recall making, but which appears in both versions).


Frogs, frogs, they live in bogs,
And very moist they feel,
Dogs, dogs, the enemy of frogs,
They might make them a meal.

The frog runs away from the dog,
How very scared he feel,
The dog catches the frog,
And makes him do a deal.

The deal, says the dog, is to clean my house
And I won't make you a meal.
Now the dog and the frog are happy,
Cause they did that deal for real.

by Eleanor Broussard, Age 9

(By the way, the literary promise exhibited by this first effort has developed into a remarkable proficiency. Eleanor now writes with lush complexity and surprising maturity, though her affection for frogs seems, sadly, to have diminished.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

This post is the result of me playing around with the functions of the Blogger system. I visited a site of a good friend to see what happens when you hit the "blog this" command. Now I know, the link simply appears in the Post section. Well, is a great blog, so I'll just let this stand. What I was trying to do was to figure out how to create a list of links on the side of the page. I notice that other blogs in the system have them, so I know it can be done, but I've poked around in the menus and can't figure out how. That's the computer world for you: always looking for needles hidden in plain sight -- in haystacks.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Arlo & Us

Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
This photo was taken a while ago, but I wanted to post it so the world would know that I stood so close to Arlo Guthrie. I was going to describe Arlo as a hero of my younger days, but he never seemed so much like a heroic figure. He always seemed like someone it would be easy to hang around with. In fact he always reminded me of some kind of a composite of a few of my real life friends. I tried to tell him this when we met. I think he appreciated the remark, but our "meeting" actually consisted of a few seconds as he left the stage at a benefit performace at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, NH. I knew one of the organizers and she arranged for me to shake his hand. It turned into that kind of awkward collision that results when a celebrity encounters a fan's projection of familiarity. Actually, Arlo was very kind and patient with us.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I Like Awards Shows

Most people profess a dislike or admit to only a casual interest in awards shows like the Academy Awards and Emmys. I really like them. I find myself looking forward to the chance to vegetate in front of a TV and watch a bunch of nicely dressed people walk up to the microphone and thank people. I'm not nearly as interested in sports, except the big games, like the World Series and Superbowl, but I suspect it's a similar feeling to the one that sports fans have. When a football fan loooks forward to a Sunday afternoon with snacks in front of the TV watching two teams push a ball up and down a field, it's actually as irrelevant to them as the honor that is bestowed upon some actor or singer at an awards night is to me.

I wonder if there are some personality classifications that can be determined by the kinds of victories in which we find vicarious pleasure.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Our Fair City

Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
I live in the charming capital city of New Hampshire, which was recently named the top "micropolitan" community in the country. Here's a glimpse of the Concord skyline with our lovely capitol dome in view.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

South Street North

I've been resisting this whole blog thing too long. Now it seems a bit pathetic, trying to write something that people will care to read in such an overpopulated universe. It's sort of like standing on a street corner at rush hour in the city, hoping that someone will notice you and invite you home for dinner. But, stranger things have happened. In fact, I was once standing on a street corner (actually at a train terminal) in a strange (to me) city (actually, Beverly Mass.) and someone noticed me and put me up for the night. The next morning, he and his girlfriend made me hash and eggs and sent me on my way. I had never had hash and eggs before and they were delicious. This was my very first day in New England. I was on my way to visit a friend in Cambridge, I had hitched a ride on a private plane and, frankly, had no clear plan on how to get to where I was going. I've never forgotten that bit of kindness. I even remember the guy's name: Kip.

Hi, Kip, whereever you are.

I guess I'll dedicate this blog to you.

It seems less pathetic already.