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.