Best Shrimp Creole

Recently, I watched on TV a food truck chef make Bread Pudding in her truck. It looked delicious and I remembered I often made Bread Pudding based upon a recipe from the following book:

I lost the book and mentioned this to Susan. And guess what? She bought me a copy.

It’s a great cookbook, a history book filled with vintage photos and “…great Creole and Cajun recipes from the city’s grand restaurants and modest cafes, from mansions and country kitchens, superbly clear directions, local cooking secrets.”

Here’s the recipe (Note: I added asparagus and I used cocktail shrimp which I added to the wok for the last few minutes:

Enjoy!

What Would Jesus Do?

That’s what Sister Helen asked.

Susan and I were watching a documentary called “Sister.”

SISTER is a one-hour documentary highlighting the work of death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean. The film examines the life and influences of Sister Helen and delves into the evolving role of Catholic nuns in America. This poignant piece follows Sister Helen (best selling author of Dead Man Walking) as she counsels and fights for the stay of execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Sister Helen Prejean grew up in the Jim Crow South, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph at the age of 17, and emerged to become the leading voice against the death penalty in the USA.

Sister Helen’s awareness of social justice came even later, when she attended a talk by an activist nun who noted that Jesus’ message about the poor is that they be poor no longer. That their fate was not God’s will, and that just praying for people was not enough. Social justice, the nun said, meant being involved in political processes, because doing nothing was tacit support for the status quo.

What stung the most, Sister Helen said, “was the realization of how passive I had been.” A year later, she moved into Hope House, a Catholic service ministry in a New Orleans housing project. She was 42 years old. And a year after that, she would begin writing to a death row inmate.

“There’s this thing of how you discern God’s will in your life,” Sister Helen said.

Sister Helen’s latest memoir “River Of Fire” came out in paperback in 2019.

When you accompany someone to the execution, as I have done three times as a spiritual advisor, everything becomes very crystallized, distilled, and stripped to the essentials. You are in this building in the middle of the night, and all these people are organized to kill this man. And the gospel comes to you as it never has before: Are you for compassion, or are you for violence? Are you for mercy, or are you for vengeance? Are you for love, or are you for hate? Are you for life, or are you for death?

All of this got me thinking about purpose–my life’s purpose.

I do believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.

But after watching this documentary I wondered what else am I doing to be more like Jesus?

There is my volunteer work with 3rd and 4th graders. Unfortunately this came to and end with the beginning of the quarantine one year ago. Note the date on the above school photo. March 4. One year ago today. You can read about the impact Susan and I had on these children here: https://brucebarone.com/2017/09/26/what-a-wonderful-world/

We pray we can continue with this work again someday soon.

Beauty. Children. Community. Working to make the world a better place.

welcome to march

Listen To The Lion.

Are you familiar with this song?

Listen:

Reading from Wikipedia:

“Listen to the Lion” has been said to rank amongst Morrison’s greatest work. “During the 11-minute voyage, he sings, shouts, improvises lines, delays and omits them, until he symbolically re-creates the sound of an unleashed lion within himself. It remains a considerable achievement.” (Johnny Rogan)[5]

“Listen to the Lion” was one of the 1001 Songs written about in the 2006 book by critic Toby Creswell who says in part: “Listen to the Lion has almost no words, just the phrase ‘Listen to the Lion inside of me’…He sings the phrases like an incantation, sometimes desperate and longing for love and at other times boasting of the power of his passion; and then at other times he sings in despair that these emotions have brought him nothing but ruin. He doesn’t need to speak, there’s nothing more to be said…”[6]

A sequel to this 1972 song was included on Morrison’s 2005 album, Magic Time that was entitled, “The Lion This Time”.[7]

During the November 2008 concert performances at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, Morrison used this song as an encore after the live Astral Weeks song performances. It has been listed under a new extended title of “Listen to the Lion – The Lion Speaks” on the track listing of the live album Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl. In a January 2009 interview, Morrison said: “I wanted to end the Astral Weeks set with ‘Madame George’. I wanted to tell people at the end these songs are a ‘train of thought’ and leave it at that. I think ‘Lion’ is a song that is all me, as well, so I ended with that…It’s a song I guess about me—probably the only one about me.”[8] Also showing the magnitude of this work to the composer is the announcement that Morrison’s new record label will be entitled Listen to the Lion Records.[9

Andy Whitman, a Paste reviewer called this song, “the quintessential Van Morrison moment, the most thrilling and thrillingly strange soul music—in all senses of the term—ever recorded. It’s the sound of a man casting off all earthly bounds and battering down the gates of heaven.”[10]

Jay Cocks commented on the song: “You can hear Morrison courting this muse in the Pentecostal growls and incantations of Listen to the Lion on his 1972 album Saint Dominic’s Preview…”[11]

In his article on Morrison in the 1976 edition of the Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll, critic Greil Marcus wrote, “Across 11 minutes, he [Morrison] sings, chants, moans, cries, pleads, shouts, hollers, whispers, until finally he breaks away from language and speaks in Irish tongues, breaking away from ordinary meaning until he has loosed the lion inside himself. He begins to roar: he has that sound, that yarrrrragh, as he has never had it before. He is not singing it, it is singing him.” [12]

Robert Christgau‘s review of Saint Dominic’s Preview uses this song to point out that vocals are sometimes more important than words: “Listen to the lion,” he [Morrison] advises later, referring to that lovely frightening beast inside each of us, and midway through the eleven-minute cut he lets the lion out, moaning and roaring and growling and stuttering in a scat extension that would do Leon Thomas proud.”[13

It’s a classic. A favorite.

Welcome to March.

As they say, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”

Go create. Love. Build community.

adventurers and explorers

Susan and I were watching Rick Steves “France’s Loire: Valley of a Thousand Chateaux.”

It was a fascinating show illustrating both the beauty and opulence of the castles. Some of the castles facts are staggering:

  • The biggest château in the region, Chambord, is huge — six times the size of your average Loire palace, more like a city than a château. It’s surrounded by Europe’s largest enclosed forest park, a lush game preserve teeming with wild deer and boar. It began as a simple hunting lodge for bored blue bloods. But starting in 1518, François I — with the help of 1,800 workmen over 15 years — made a few modest additions to create his “weekend retreat.”
  • Only 80 of Chambord’s 440 high-ceilinged rooms are open to the public — and that’s plenty. To see what happens when you put 365 fireplaces in your house, climb up to the rooftop and wander through a forest of chimney spires.
  • When the Revolution hit, in 1789, many palaces were trashed — some were even burned to the ground. But many survived. Some were lucky. Some had fast-talking owners with friends in high places. And others, like Cheverny, had a reputation for being good to their workers. And back then, a big part of château life included hunting — and still does. The marquis hunts twice a week in season. Feeding time for his hounds is 5:00 daily. The hounds — half English foxhound and half French Poitou — get worked up knowing red meat is on the way. The master moves them out, and spreads out the feast. The excitement is palpable. The trainer, who knows each of the 70 dogs by name, opens the gate and maintains discipline as the dogs gather at the concrete table. It’s an exercise in canine control. Finally, he gives the signal…and its chow time.

Susan asked me if I ever thought of living during another time as we watched the show. And I answered “I don’t think I have ever dreamed about living during another time. I am happy here and now.”

“But what about doing something in another time, Bruce?”

“Oh,” I said. “I think I would have enjoyed being an explorer, an adventurer. Margo Polo. Magellan. Francis Drake. Daniel Boone. Lewis and Clarke. Howard Carter. Jacque Cousteau. And if I was a woman: Isabella Bird, Sacagawea, Amelia Earhart, Nellie Bly, Beryl Markham. To name just a few, Susan.”

As I thought about adventure and exploration, I came to the conclusion:

“I am an explorer. I am an adventurer.”

On every hike I am always on an adventure. Here at Mt, Evans outside of Denver, Colorado:

When I work in my garden, I am always an explorer. Here, look at the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly I found in my garden:

If you listen you can hear the hummingbird’s wings as it hovers over a zinnia in my garden:

Look at the spider web I found in the park down the street from where we live:

Helen Keller said: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

I choose adventure!

Good Advice for The New Year

Begin here. Begin now. Be here now.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Happy New Year

Gene Palma

Wishing you a Happy New Year.
Can I get a drum roll please?
And how about a prayer dears
For Susan and me; we cough and sneeze
All day long this first day of the year.
She sleeps. I sleep. We take turns.
I had to put the brisket in the crock pot.
Will not eat tonight as we have no appetite
But I yearn for a slice on the bread I made
And a side of cole slaw and mashed potatoes.

Belonging

On Wednesday
I went
To the park
Down the street
From where we live
Mittineague Park
I went to photograph
The field
But there was a woman
Walking slowly
Across the field
And I waited
And I waited
I said my Mantra
And I waited
For her to move
Off the field
The leaves are gone
It is November
I am
Waiting no longer
Click Click Click
She is in the photograph
And when I arrive
Home I see
She belongs
There
Here
In this field
In this photograph