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!

Lent contemplation

When I woke up Wednesday morning I read:

“On this Ash Wednesday, I give thanks for this holy season—a time of deep, prayerful contemplation. With faith, I commit to deepening my spiritual understanding and more fully expressing my divinity. I solemnly ask which habits or thought patterns are keeping me from being the person I want to be. I take time in the Silence to sit with this question, open to whatever wisdom comes to me.

“As I consider what to give up, I also think of what I am giving to. I release old thoughts and patterns of behavior and welcome a new way of living. I release negative thinking to give myself the gift of positivity.

“I make a sacred commitment to the process of allowing the pure expression of my Christ nature to shine brightly through and as me.”

I love this. Deepening commitment. Silence. A new way of living. Positivity. Wisdom. Light.

I believe I have been given a gift from God to express my divinity by seeing and sharing beauty, by being of service to others, by being my true self and finding ways to bring light to truth.

My mission is to connect with people, inspire people, and build community.

With connecting with people and sharing with people in mind, I look forward to the day when Susan and I can continue our volunteer work in town with 3rd and 4th graders, which has been on hold for one year because of Covid-19.

Later during the day on Wednesday, I went food shopping and saw this in the grocery store:

I couldn’t help but wonder what chocolate candy, chocolate bunnies (I do see a chocolate cross!) and peeps have to do with Easter. I’ll have to look into this.

Meanwhile, it is lightly snowing now and time for me to read a few pages in some new books:

Dry January

The final days of January 2021 are upon us.

The final days of Dry January 2021 are upon us.

Pictured here a “Virgin Bloody Mary.” It tastes pretty much like a Bloody Mary, less the vodka, of course.

I bought the Bloody Mary mix (Agalima Organic, The Authentic Bloody Mary Mix) back in October thinking we might have one or two on Thanksgiving and on Christmas. In years past, family traditions included a large pitcher of Bloody Mary mix next to a bottle of vodka on a counter.

Because of Covid there were no family get-togethers and no Bloody Mary mix on a counter next to bottle of vodka.

We never did have a Bloody Mary or two but come Dry January, I enjoyed a Virgin Bloody Mary or two.

The month, Dry January, is really about wellness and it feels fine and healthy to enjoy the month without wine at dinner—or a Bloody Mary! I think we will keep it up. Within reason.

Of course, Dry January is all about living an alcohol free month—not dessert-free.

And we have enjoyed a few spectacular desserts.

Susan made this delicious Berry Cake!

Susan also made Fika, a Swedish chocolate treat!

I made a Banana, Blueberry, Chocolate, Coconut, Walnut Bread which was so good!

And a few days ago, Susan made an outstanding Orange and Chocolate cake!

I haven’t lost much weight but once it warms up outside (It was 2 degrees this morning with a wind-chill of -12!) and I start walking again I am sure the weight will start to disappear and I will get back to my college wrestling weight class.

Cheers!

Susan’s Birthday

Yesterday, Friday, January 8th, was Susan’s birthday. When I woke up on the day before, the 7th, I thought the 7th was the 8th.

Before she woke (on the 7th), I scrambled to wrap her present and make her card. (See Freddy above sniffing at her card and present.) Soon she came out of the bedroom and I said “Happy Birthday!” She said, “Today’s not my birthday. It’s the 8th.” I said, “Today is the 8th. Come. Let’s look at the calendar.” Sure enough it was the 7th. This confusion a sign of the times. To misquote a song by Chicago, “Does anybody really know what day it is?”

I know tomorrow is Sunday because the Sunday New York Times is delivered. And Wednesday is garbage day because I see that our street is lined with barrels filled with garbage. And Friday is Brooks and Shields (Now Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart since Shields recently retired). But other than that I am never sure of the day or date. Or time! This a sign of the pandemic and being in quarantine. I need a calendar!

Susan opened her card first upon waking on the 8th, a picture of our kitchen table which I think says much about who we are, our interests, our love of books and beauty. And it reminds me of a painting by French Impressionists. I enjoy still lifes of our home.

Years ago, I wrote:

This is
A Place
A Table
Round, of grace
A flowered tablecloth
A bowl of lemons and limes
Apples and oranges
We hold hands
Thank You God
For these gifts
We are about to receive
From your bounty
Through Christ our Lord
Amen.
A table of grace.
We then enjoyed a cup of coffee and soon I made us bacon and blueberry pancakes.
I spent much time organizing my photos of Times Square @ 1980s for my book, “Famous People Famous Places“. I am happy that I have made great progress on the project since reading about myself in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review section a few weeks ago (See previous post).
This is how the organization comes along. First I printed contact sheets of all the photos, cut them into “negs” and placed them on a large paper board.
Then I spent many hours looking at the images, determining an order, a sequence that made sense to me.
I then took these negatives and taped them into my journal so that I can reference them as I upload to Blurb.
During lunch, Susan suggested we order out for dinner. We often do order out for pizza on Friday nights. But after I walked Freddy in the afternoon, I returned home cold and thought there’s no way I want to go out later for a pizza. So while Susan napped in the late afternoon, I made a birthday dinner for her (It was her birthday!): Roasted Chicken Thighs with Pears and Dried Cranberries; Wild Rice; Carrots.
The recipe is based on one from Taste of Home:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each) (I used 2 skinless boneless chicken thighs)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (I used 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (I didn’t use.)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (I didn’t use)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar (I didn’t use)
  • 2 medium unpeeled pears, each cut into 8 wedges (I used 6 canned and drained pear halves)
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until a thermometer reads 165°, 8-10 minutes. Remove. (I roasted the chicken thighs in oven at 375 for 45 minutes)
  • Meanwhile, stir together next 5 ingredients until blended. Pour into skillet; add pears and dried cherries. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are tender, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; simmer, uncovered, until heated through, 3-5 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional minced rosemary (I warmed pears, stock, vinegar, cranberries on stove top)
After dinner, we watched Brooks and Capehart and then a fascinating documentary of James Beard. I had forgotten he had a great gift for writing. I once had two Beard books (He wrote 18.): “Beard on Bread” and “The James Beard Cookbook.” I lost them in one of my moves. I will have to see if I can find a few in a used book store.
The show brought home to me the fact that I need, I am called, to again write. To write about food. To write about art. To write about life.
To tell stories. Which reminds me; did I ever tell you the story about the times I had lunch at the Four Seasons bar?

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Pancetta, Olives and Crisp Parmesan over Fettucine

This might be the best pasta recipe I have ever made. It’s based on one from Melissa Clark. I made a few changes which I note below.

Melissa writes: “Studded with salty olives, pancetta and Parmesan that gets golden and crisp at the edges, this is roasted cauliflower at its brightest and most full-flavored. You can serve the caramelized florets either as a vegetable-based main dish or a hearty side to roasted meats or fish, or big bowls of pasta. The recipe calls for using a package of finely diced pancetta that practically melts into the sauce. But if you prefer a chunkier texture, you can dice it yourself into 1/2-inch cubes, and add them with the cauliflower. Or, to make this vegetarian, just leave the pancetta out.”

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 8 cups)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • cup olives, crushed, pitted and chopped (I used Castelvetrano olives.)
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely grated or minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin or caraway seeds (I used cumin seeds.)
  • ½ cup shredded (not ground) Parmesan
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or mint leaves and tender stems, for serving (I didn’t have so I used fresh chives.)

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet (I used a cast iron pan) and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well coated. Roast for 15 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olives, garlic, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking well.
  3. After the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, add pancetta and cumin seeds to pan and gently mix to combine. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender, the pancetta rendered, and cheese is golden brown and crunchy. (I added #4 to the cast iron pan for a few minutes.)
  4. Spoon olive dressing all over roasted cauliflower while still hot and toss to combine. Taste, and add more salt, red-pepper flakes or lemon juice, if needed. Scatter parsley over the top before serving. (I used fresh chivies.)