Sunday, December 23, 2007

Squash Delight

squash delight recipe, originally uploaded by Broussardish.

Ernesto commented on my post in which I mentioned an old family recipe that we finally revived on Thanksgiving this year. I think the formula should be visible in this photo of a cross stitching that Jemi did decades ago. It's a pretty simple recipe, but it was my mother's and grandmother's favorite way to eat squash. It's probably a Southern-style recipe, but it went over pretty well with the N.H. family when I recreated it. I substituted yogurt for the mayo, since mayonnaise has never appealed to me. (This aversion is due to some kind of childhood event. It's not clear but one of my earliest memories is of tasting a sandwich and coming to the conclusion that mayonnaise has a disgusting flavor. That opinion had grown less emphatic over the years, but I still avoid it.) The classic squash delight has water chestnuts in it, but I may try pecans when I make it for Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Farewell Dan Fogelberg

It's a bit late for a eulogy, but it's not often I read the morning paper, notice some famous person has died, and actually feel a personal loss. When I learned that Dan Fogelberg had died of prostate cancer at age 56 on Dec. 16, I actually let out a groan of sympathy. My daughter overheard and asked what was wrong. I told her and, naturally, she didn't know who he was.

He hasn't been much of a presence in recent years, and he was never a superstar, though he had a handful of "soft rock" hits like "Leader of the Band" and "The Power of Gold." I haven't really thought much about him and I had no idea he was sick. I also didn't realize that he was barely a year older than I. Coincidentally, just a few weeks ago, I was goofing with my old record player and I put on Fogelberg's "Netherlands" album. It's one of those albums that constituted a soundtrack to a period of my life. We used to keep it on rotation on The Farm stereo when that rural enclave was a social nexus to our strange extended family and to an orbiting collection of friends. The album has held up well as a heartbreakingly beautiful and passionate rock symphony. Dan was a musician who could play highly melodic and sentimental music and retain an artistic credibility. Even my old friend Stuart Murphy, a music industry insider who had a pretty critical ear, always liked him.

After The Farm began to disintegrate and my family split up, I found myself living in Baton Rouge with my dad. I'd been doing odd jobs, mostly printing, and I had even tried working in the Gulf as a galley hand on a drilling rig, but it's safe to say I was floundering. I'd settled on a job at a Kroger grocery store, stocking shelves at night, just when Fogelberg's New Years Eve opus "Same Old Lang Syne" was getting some airplay.

The lyrics tell the story of a chance encounter between the musician and an old flame in a supermarket. He's become famous. She's married with kids. They share a beer in the parking lot. She leaves. He stands there alone in the snow with only his thoughts.

During those long winter nights the song would play on the store's sound system in the wee hours and always took me to some place lonely and sad, but I could never resist the trip. I'd find myself looking forward to it each night. The haunting coda, "and the snow turned into rain" was my reminder that you can connect with the past, briefly, but you can't go back. That was pretty poignant for me in those "cusp" years between The Farm and the Sideshow Pizzeria and old long-time girlfriend Pam on the one hand and the totally alien future on the other.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Reunion

Weird to think we're already having an event that qualifies as an immediate family reunion, but when Daniel and Eleanor came home from their respective colleges for Thanksgiving, that's what it was. We had a great meal and, as we tend to do, we also celebrated Daniel's and Grandpa's birthdays (21! and 75!) since they both actually fall in the next week. In a fit of inspiration, I decided to make an old family recipe for something called Squash Delight. It was Grandmother's favorite vegetable recipe, and since she was practically a vegetarian, that was saying a lot. Mom used to make it as well, and it was one of the few dishes I'd ever eat that has mayo in it. In my version I substituted plain low fat yogurt. It was a hit with just about everyone who tried it (Jemi has a problem with green peppers, but she was polite). If anyone reads this and would like the recipe, leave a reply and I'll post it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rick Makes a Splash

Rick Makes a Splash, originally uploaded by Broussardish.

I was invited to make one of the first splashes on a Pollock-esque painting, a community participation art project at Holman Stadium in Nashua. This is the first of 17 coats of splatter that will go on the 8 by 48-foot "canvas." It was fun. Artist Ken Gidge, who oversaw the process, said I had a knack for the format.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Open Secrets

The title of this post is half of the title of an amazing book by one of the tutors at my son's school: St. John's College. I've been dipping into it more and more often lately. The complete title is Open Secrets/Inward Prospects and the author is a sweet-faced, gray-haired woman named Eva Brann. I picked up a copy on the advice of someone while visiting the school. It's not a linear book, more like a book of quotes all by the same person. You can dip in anywhere and find something fascinating. Since she is relatively old and teaches the young, a lot of the book deals with issues of age, generational disparities, what has been gained or lost over time for individuals and for the world. Her language is embued with the style and richness of the classical literature that is the DNA of St. John's.

Here's one quote, picked randomly:

"What are the young deprived of; nearby green groves with a hidden observant Pan, open churches with their heirarchy of pomp, stifling cities and their heavy neighborhood-auras, brooding pasts with beautiful archetypes, stern courts with dangerous power, the elegant malevolences of smart strong teachers. What they get is prosperous freedom. Does it have a savor?"


"Surely flagellating the imagination with hallucinogenics is a huge admission of its failure."


"The bully conservatives know as little about conservation as the officous liberals know about liberty or the ranting radicals know about roots."

None of these by itself does the book justice. The effect of reading it, the gestalt, if that word applies here, is that of being submerged in a vast mind with an excellent librarian who stands ready to show you the spine of every great book you've always wanted to read -- and not the paperback editions: the original printings with etched plates, stiff bindings and pages uncut, awaiting your investigation.

I understand she was recently named a national treasure by someone in the Bush administration.

I still remember seeing her at St. John's, surrounded by students and their parents. To say she had a saintlike glow might be extreme and a projection, but she was serene. I went to get the book from elsewhere to have her sign it and she had disappeared.

Now that I'm familiar with the book, I realize how redundant it would be to have her adorn it with her autograph.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Award-winning Art

I actually won a prize for the creation pictured here. It's hard to appreciate the inspired design and fantastic detail from this ancient slide that I recently had scanned. In case it isn't obvious, that's the Mummy about to clobber the Wolfman with a large bone. Both are standing in a swampy graveyard beneath a tree full of bats next to a pit of quicksand. Oh yes, barely protruding from the quicksand is the face and hands of a terrified man -- the only witness to the battle of monsters taking place as he slides to his ghastly doom. I made the tableau out of paper mache, found objects and Aurora models. It was my entry in the Master Monster Maker contest, sponsored by the model company and a local hobby shop. I won first place and got a cheesy plastic plaque made to look like a green Frankenstein monster face. Wish I still had it. I could add it to my tiny case of awards earned over the years.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Oh, yeah, that's the foot of our dalmatian, Chicory, appearing at the top of the frame. This photo was taken in the gazebo of our house on Poquito Bayou Road in Shalimar, probably around 1964.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My wound

My wound
Originally uploaded by Broussardish.
On New Year's Day I was following my routine for lunch and making a can of soup. I had the soup can in my right hand and with my left I reached over to stove for a Corningware pot. When it slipped from my grasp, my left hand automatically descended to try to grab it before it hit the countertop. My hand arrived a split second too late and was impaled on a shard of Corningware. I knew it was bad (lots of redness and gapingness) and I made some groaning sounds which my youngest daughter heard from the adjoining room. She found me rinsing my gushing wound over the sink. She remained calm and drove me to the emergency room where I had to sit and bleed on the carpet for a while. We managed to reach my wife and other daughter before they returned to the house to find us missing with blood everywhere. I finally got 7 stitches along my "head" line on my left palm. I also cut or nicked a nerve which supplies sensation to the middle and ring fingers of that hand. More on that later.