Renaissance Hombre

It is nearly ten years since I first posted on my blog. What started as a – where will this go – endeavor, is now a twice a week offering (Wednesday and Saturday). There have been nearly a thousand posts (lately some repeats).  Usually 200 to 300 words.  I try to stay away from political posts though I occasionally dip my toes (in my opinion – gently) into those frigid waters. . . . .

About two years ago, I thought about developing a compendium of posts.  And 15 months ago, I started.  For the last few months, I’ve worked with an editor on the final tweezer-choosing of text.  And last week, the edits were done, galleys approved and it was off for publication.  Renaissance Hombre runs 248 pages and has 17 chapters (Growing Up; Scouting Days; Further Adventures; Family Matters; Legal Briefs; Good to Learn; What’s Cooking; To Your Health; Funny Pages; Seeing the World; Notes on Culture; On Faith; Historical Perspectives; Read, Watch and Listen; Sports Roundup; This and That; and For Inspiration).   

This last weekend, the hard cover and trade paperback editions became available on Amazon (see Paperback and Hardcover ).  I am told there will be book reviews and a website (complete with Renaissance music).  Who knows where this will go.  It’s been a trip.  

Chef Popi

Some years ago, I led a book discussion on Dearie – the Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz.  In preparation, I got myself a full chef’s outfit – with the jacket and toque stitched with the words “Scott” and “Renaissance Hombre.”  Today – I occasionally wear that outfit when making Swedish pancakes or dinner for my granddaughters . . . .   Oh – and Swedish pancakes?  

SHHHH!  You are sworn to secrecy!  A cup and a quarter of Bisquick, two eggs, a generous portion of honey (no sugar), a pinch or two of salt, a cup+ of milk and a third of a stick of melted butter.  In the blender for a minute or two.  Then portion three inch dollops of batter in a fry pan – medium heat – on a dusting of melted butter.  The first batch always looks burned.  After that, things settle down and the pancakes (thin, small and medium brown) usually end up perfect.  Make sure you have some lingonberries and real maple syrup.  You don’t need the chef’s outfit.  Though it may help . . . . .

“Your best yet”

I made dinner on Sunday. And I scored a perfect “10” . . . . and got the gold medal. 

You know that I enjoy cooking — and experimenting. Last Sunday’s dinner was up in the air.  So I volunteered.  And Donna quickly agreed. I went to Fresh Market and got the fixings for a Mexican fiesta — la cena.  I marinated and baked two chicken breasts.  I chopped and sautéed a large yellow onion and some shiitake mushrooms in olive oil over low heat  in a covered pan for about 45 minutes [shiitakes are healthier and have less toxicity than other mushroom varieties].   Then there were the Garden of Eatin organic blue taco shells (heat 5 minutes at 350).  I sliced the chicken and placed strips within each shell.  Then a slice of garlic cheddar cheese.  On top, I spooned some of the shiitake and onion combo (after I had drained the olive oil and browned slightly).  And I warmed the shells in the oven for another 5 minutes.

I made my usual guacamole recipe (smooshed avocado, cilantro and lime juice – that’s it) and I prepared some fresh quinoa on which I spooned some organic black beans (I confess – from a can).  I provided green tomatillo sauce for the tacos.  We had a great Joel Gott cabernet and some San Pellegrino to wash things down.  Lauren and Trent joined us for the experience.  The sauteed shiitake and onion combo was a 10 point triple Lutz.  The unique combination of quinoa and black beans – with fresh guac on the side – was a graceful double Axel that landed perfectly.  The wine was a magical double toe loop.  The entire meal was a flawless triple Salchow nailed by The Renaissance Hombre.      

Donna and Lauren both looked up from their plates and said seriously “This is your best yet.”  Awww shucks. . . . .  

The Chicago Literary Club

The Chicago Literary Club is one of the oldest literary groups in the United States.  It was founded in Chicago in 1874 as an all male bastion of those who loved literature.   The Club opened in the year after Chicago’s Fortnightly Club opened for women with literary interest.  Members would regale their fellows with discussions of politics, the labor movement and reminiscence of the Civil War.   Today, the Club is coed and meets every Monday from October to May.  Dinner is usually served and a paper presented at 7:30.  Papers will run from 25 to 60 minutes.  The papers are published online at the Club’s website – www.chilit.org

On January 7th, I delivered my sixth paper to The Chicago Literary Club.  The title of the paper was “The Renaissance Hombre.”  I’ll bet you can guess the topic.   You can check out my paper online at http://www.chilit.org/Papers%20by%20author/Petersen%20–%20Renaissance%20Hombre.htm   R.H.  

Haiku

A haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry characterized by three qualities: 

1.  There are three stanzas of 5, 7 and 5 syllables;

2.  In this highly abbreviated poem, there are two well-defined images (with a kireji or “cutting word” between them); and

3.  The subject is usually drawn from the natural world (often seasonal).

The most famous composer of haiku poetry was Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).   He was the grand poet of the Edo period and his poetry has achieved international renown.  His works frequently appear on Japanese monuments and at traditional Japanese sites.  Basho’s most famous (and probably the best known example of) haiku was “The Old Pond.”

Fu-ru-i-ke ya

Ka-wa zu to-bi-ko-mu

Mi-zu no 0-to

The translation?

Old pond

A frog leaps in

Splash

I tend to think that haiku can be a poignant teaching tool for students since it requires structure, thought, concentration and result.  Face it — if the three elements of haiku are present, how can the haiku be bad? 

Winter Squirrel by Renaissance Hombre

A squirrel sits still

His tail begins to move

And away he goes

Move over Mister Basho. . . . .

“The New Grandfather”

“The New Grandfather”

A play in one act 

(Scott  is talking with a friend.  Scott has just become a grandfather.   He looks bewildered but he has a big smile on his face)

Friend:  Sooooo, Scott, what do you think about being a grandfather?

Scott:  Oh man.  It is awesome!   Lemme show you some pictures (pulls out a thick stack of pictures and begins flipping through them)

Friend:  (Looking at the pictures)  Very nice.  She’s beautiful. . . . . What’s her name again? 

Scott:  (Ignores the question and continues thumbing through pictures)  Here’s her face.  Here she’s looking up.  Here, she’s looking down.  And here’s one of her right foot.  No wait.  That’s her left foot.   (Mumbles)  Big toe right, left foot.  Big toe left, right foot.  Yeah, left foot. . . . . 

Friend:  (Laughing)  That’s a good-looking foot.  

Scott:  (Eyes are glazed.  He continues thumbing through pictures)  Oooh!  Lookit this one!   What a cutie pie. . . .

Friend:  (Rolls his eyes)  Hooookayyyy . . . . Scott, I have got to be on my way.  I am very happy for you (starts to walk away).  

Scott:  (Grabs the friend’s arm)  No wait!  Lemme show you this.  Sweet . . . this is her pinky toe on her left foot. . . .or (looking with brow furrowed) that’s her (brightly) right foot! 

Friend:  Yeah Scott. . . .you’ll do just fine as a grandfather. . . . . (walks away)

Scott:  Come back!  (Waving pictures)  I want to show you her left ear!!

Curtain