Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nippy Blair

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cups of cooked shredded chicken (I used skinless chicken breasts but skin-on thighs would be wonderful and juicy).
1 cup freshly grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese (½ cheddar, ½ mozzarella)
¼ cup Tabasco Hot sauce (or less if you prefer less heat or more)
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup Greek Yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup chopped green onion, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced basil
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 teaspoon minced oregano
Optional: ranch or blue cheese dressing for drizzling
extra cheese for topping

for the spaghetti squash:
Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. (If the skin is too tough you can place it in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it a little).
Place the two halves on a rimmed baking dish lined with a silicone sheet or foil, Rub a small amount of olive oil on the cut sides and place face down on the baking sheet.
Roast for 40-45 minutes at 350, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork.

While the squash is cooking, cook the chicken. (you can use your favorite method: roasting, baked, poached, rotisserie, Crockpot). I used the following method:
Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Melt 2 T butter in a frying pan. Mince 1 clove garlic (I used 3 because we like garlic) and saute in the melted butter for 1 minute then add the basil, oregano and rosemary and saute for another minute or two. Add the chicken and cook until juices come out clear and chicken is tender. Set chicken aside to cool slightly before shredding. Melt one T butter in the remaining juices from the frying pan.

In a separate bowl combine the cheese, Tabasco, Greek yogurt, green onion, and the remainder of the melted butter from the chicken. Add the shredded chicken.

With a fork, scrape the spaghetti squash bowls to release the strands of squash and mix with the cheesy buffalo chicken mixture. Stir to combine completely. Place in a baking dish. (If you wanted to impress company then use the squash bowls instead of the baking dish).

Note: You may top the squash mixture with a little of the extra cheese (I sometimes grate Parmesan cheese)

Cover with foil (tent it so the cheese doesn't stick).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly. For extra golden bubbly cheese, remove the foil and place under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes.
Garnish with green onions. Serve with a veggie salad and/or green beans or veggie of your choice.
Drizzle with the ranch or blue cheese dressing if desired.

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


1708 Shirland Avenue
I'd just moved into a vacant house my dad owned. It had never been rented before and had been vacant for seven years, neglected except for some storage. I was single, just out of the army and Vietnam. I had come back to finish my college degree, so moving there just seemed like another adventure, and I was up to the challenge since the only other option was to move home.
Pieces of the 1930's wallpaper hung stubbornly to the walls and ceiling, but the majority was on the floor. I stripped all the paper off the walls in the front room and placed a 200 year old loom I had bought, while stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in the center. Strings from the old cheesecloth backing gave visions of a haunted house.This room would be my studio.
The Loom.  After moving to our current house.
In the corner of the bedroom, I placed a single mattress on top of a set of springs, found in the dump, balanced on bricks I found in the back yard.  On restless nights I would toss enough to knock the mattress off the bricks tumbling me to the floor.   The wallpaper on this ceiling seemed to breathe as if alive when the wind pumped life into it. I would lie in bed, mesmerized watching the ceiling catch its breath. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Breathe in, breathe out. “I am alive. Help me please,” it seemed to sigh. It was better than counting sheep.

I had one borrowed couch and no TV in my living room.  The floors were so uneven that I could drop a marble at the front door and it would roll to the opposite wall faster than I could take two steps. 

The dining room had holes in the floorboards in the corner, large enough to see the ground underneath. I put bricks over the holes, placing tons of artificial fern and a nude statue.  I called the corner “Mary Hattie in the bushes”.   On boring nights, I would remove the bricks to see how many marbles would roll into the holes before I knocked them away with another one. It became a game of skill similar to quail hunting for they rolled so fast. In the center of the room I placed my parents first piece of furniture, their dining room table that mama had shortened for a coffee table. It had belonged to every one of my siblings before coming to rest with me. I painted it turquoise and yellow. I even painted stripes on the wallpaper with flowers between stripes so it wouldn't look so drab.

The kitchen floor was so rough that I bought a huge roll of red, white and blue plastic cloth and tacked it to the floor so I could at least mop.  I painted an image of Mickey Mouse in the center. For meals,  I had a hot plate to heat food, a refrigerator, a pot to cook in and utensils pilfered from my mother.  I would “cook” hamburger helper once a week and heat it up daily for my meals, then eat on a table I bought for $10.00 at a flea market. I still own that table.  Across the street was the Lighthouse Root Beer Stand.  On days I didn't want to cook I would order there, walk home and then be informed by speakers when my meal was ready.  I became so regular, that as I drove into the driveway, they would ask over the speaker if I wanted the usual. Receiving my nod they would fix my order. This was my life in the early 70's.

After the first month living there, I found my neighbor, an old woman, in my yard, her hair in rollers with a scarf over them. She was peering into whatever window she could – sometimes on a chair or stepladder to see better. 

My friends began to visit, and so did she, sorta. No matter how many friends arrived I could count on Ms. Jeansonne to show up five minutes later with a tray of coffee and the right amount of cups with saucers for my guests. It was eerie. She never was wrong. She'd knock on the door, thrust the coffee into my surprised hands, then disappear, shaking her head and muttering in French. As soon as the last guest left, she would return, no matter how late, to retrieve her belongings, never speaking, just shaking her head at me.

  One day I came home with groceries, a bag of Community coffee visible at the top. She was on my porch looking through the window.  Upon seeing me, and my groceries, she marched, in a huff,  toward me, grabbed the coffee and began to lecture me in French, all the while shaking her finger at me. Then she opened the coffee and emptied the contents into the street and spat upon it.

“Hey, you crazy old lady, what did you do that for?” I yelled as I attempted to retrieve my coffee. She continued angrily fussing in French as she rifled my groceries, shaking her head and finger at me, spitting on the ground whenever she found something she did not like. Her daughter stepped outside. “Mama,” she shouted, first in English and then in French, “It's OK if he wants to buy his own coffee and groceries. He doesn't understand you, he can't speak French.” Without missing a beat, Ms. Jeansonne jerked what was left of the bag of coffee from my hands and carried it to her house, continuously lecturing me in French. At the door she swiftly turned, grabbed a broom and, shaking it in the air, yelled in English, “Learn!”. The daughter returned my groceries and explained that I had offended her mother by buying my own coffee. She said the old lady felt I couldn't take care of myself and felt obligated to mother me.   Gradually I began to tolerate her snooping around my windows and bringing me coffee when guests arrived.   

Eventually I married and brought Frances home to this hovel.  I had warned her about the neighbor and her coffee runs.   The first time friends came over to visit, I warned Frances to not make coffee since Ms. Jeansonne would supply our drinks.  She didn't. In fact, she never brought coffee over again and we never saw her snooping around the house.  I had been abandoned by this crusty old French woman.   I asked her daughter if her mother was ill. "No," she explained, "mama feels you don't need to be taken care of anymore. You have a wife now." 

 Eventually Ms. Jeansonne had to be placed in a nursing home because she began wandering the streets, confused. Bless her heart.

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

chapter 5
Old Struck
(The Final Chapter)

Me and Beau didn't see each other for a while after that 'cause our mamas said they needed a break from the shenanigans we had caused. When I did see him again, Beau was wearing his brand new, store bought overalls. His paw had sold some good deer pelts for less than what they were worth so Beau could have some britches. His Maw gave him the what fer over all the trouble he had caused and warned him that them overalls had better last all his born days until he became an adult and maybe a long time after that.
It felt good bein' friends again, full of fun. One day we decided to head over to the clearin' by “old struck” and just hang about. Paw said it was good for us cause we could learn to be better swampers. “If'n you'd just go somewheres in the swamp and stand still for a while, you might get to know them critters and their habits. It'll help you trap better,” he said. “They gonna' stay hidden long as you boys keep makin' all that racket.” Beau said he already knew them critters and he weren't 'bout to go stand still in that old swamp waitin' for them critters to show their face, 'cause the skeeters and chiggers would eat us alive. “ Besides,” said Beau, “some old bobcat might sneak up on us and have us for dinner.” I said we should climb up on old struck to watch for the critters, but Beau said he would get sleepy and fall off the limb and the old buzzards would come and invite all their friends to a buzzard party over our dead bodies. Said they'd eat his first since he was sweeter. I said, “Wait a cotton pickin' minute,” and hit him up-side the head. We wrestled for a while before sittin' on the ground, back to back. “Ain't nothin' sneakin' up on us today 'ceptin' them skeeters,” Beau laughed.
Weren't long before we heard some rustlin' about in the leaves. Beau whispered it must be a bear sneakin' up but it weren't really nothin' but some old birds searchin' for somethin' to eat. Just as I was about to fall asleep myself and cause the buzzard party, Beau heard a “plink” in the water. A squirrel had dropped some of its pine cone dinner into the water. Then we saw a snake swim over to investigate before catchin' some small frogs instead.
'Bout the time we was learnin' somethin' 'bout the swamp we realized things got mighty quiet. I think it sorta crept up on us. First the wind started to blow and it felt so cool and refreshin' after all that hot sun that we didn't pay it no mind a'tall. Then everythin' got real still and the birds stopped their singin'. It sure was quiet. Kinda spooky and in these parts of the swamp things can get really spooky, if'n one set his mind to it. Beau looked at me and I looked at him and then, “BOOM”, that first bit of lightnin' struck. Beau's feet never touched the ground as he knocked me down while I was fixin' to run for home. Then the rain came poundin' down hard on us. So hard we couldn't see straight. I ran one way and Beau ran the other, chasin' each other round and round cause we couldn't see nothin'. Everythin' looked the same. Weren't long before we ran smack dab back into “old struck”. Sure felt good to find somethin' familiar even if it was “old struck”. Beau said we oughta stay there a while till the rain let up some, but I weren't too happy 'bout stayin' under this tree 'cause that lightnin' and thunder was strikin' faster'n a cornered rattlesnake. I just knew today would be the day that “old struck” got struck again. But Beau just crossed his arms and sat down right at the foot of that tree and said he weren't gonna budge till it was over. I reckon we stayed there all night, that rain never lettin' up enough for us to see ten feet. We was shiverin' so hard we almost lost our you-know-whats.
The next mornin' we began to shoutin' and hollerin' but no one ever heard us. We were too wet and cold to really care, anyway. And that rain was still poundin' and the lightnin' still flashin' like old Noah was gonna show up with his boat any minute. I said I bet old Noah was glad it was rainin' so he could wash them animals. Beau said he didn't know how Mrs. Noah could stand being on that boat with all them stinkin' animals roamin' about. He said he bet she was runnin' round like a chicken with its head cut off, what with cleanin' up after all of 'em. “If'n I was Mrs. Noah,” he said, “I wouldn't a put up with all that mess. I'da made him make two boats, one for the family and one for all them critters with a long rope connectin' them two and if Mr. Noah wanted to have a hissy-fit he could join the other boat.”
“Beau,” I shouted, “we gonna drown down here under “old struck. This rain's a real frogwash. Them gators gonna have their own party bout us goin' away. I ain't ready to die.” Bout that time, before Beau could answer his sassy self, “BOOM!” That lightnin' hit so close that the whole swamp shook. We took off like hound dog s chasin' coons. That next bolt hit “old struck” so hard that it split in two, right where Beau had been sittin'. Then a fire started up. “We better head for the barn, Beau,” I shouted, “we better start runnin'. Beau!” Beau didn't move. I shouted more. Still no movin'. Beau had been hit by a limb and was bleedin' and I was too scared to have noticed. His leg sure looked funny. By now, that fire was creepin' up on us faster-n a hot knife through butter. I had to throw Beau over my shoulders, midst all his hollerin' and groanin', in order to not burn. Possums and coons and deer were runnin' all around us trying to escape the fire. “My leg, my leg!” Beau shouted. “I can't move.” I said, “Beau, we're in a heap of trouble if'n we don't high tail it.”
The fire was all around us, ceptin' a spot out in the water so I jerked Beau up again and headed out. Water was up to our chests and gators and snakes were all around us but they didn't never mind, 'cause they was escapin' that fire too. So there we sat with the fire and gators and snakes sayin' their howdy-do as they passed on by. We were still in that water when our paws found us. Said we had been gone for two days and that fire finally hushed itself up over by the landin'. Beau's leg was mighty swollen now and his Paw said he reckon it were broke so we made a splint with that charred wood and hauled us out'a that swamp. Paw said he reckoned “old struck” had finally bit the dust.
Our maws started cryin' and huggin' and kissin' us when we got to the clearin' but when Beau's maw took one look at his overalls, she said she was gonna jerk a knot in his tail for messin' up them brand new store bought britches. Said she weren't gonna fix 'em any more and he'd just have-ta be buried in them.
Beau didn't get us into any more trouble after that what with his broke leg and such that we just lazed around the house helpin' our paws skin the animals they trapped. Winter was comin' soon and our paws had killed enough beaver, deer, coon, and nutria pelts to get through the winter. Yes sir, we was just good ole' boys livin' down in the swamp.


My family moved not long after that so that my sisters could have a right schoolin'. I didn't see much of Beau after that but I do know that Beau had been savin' some pelts he had trapped and when he had gotten enough went to Mr. Higgins' store and sold them. He had enough to buy his mama a new dress for her birthday since she had put up with enough of his shenanigans to last a life time.
Bless his heart.

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


chapter 4
Ghost Stories

Yep, Beau and I had to sleep outside for three days. It weren't much fun 'cause of all the baths we had to take, but that's what we had to do after meetin' ole' mama skunk. We had to sleep outside with nothin' but our underwear. Beau said we would freeze off our “you-know-whats” but his mama said, “I don't give a diddly-squat.” She weren't givin' no more clothes or blankets to be torn up or stunk up.
Soon as he could, Beau got rid of his underwear. Said he weren't gonna let any stinkin' underwear let him keep from sleepin'. My sisters said he sure looked dumb in his ole' birthday suit. They laughed and said God musta taken Beau out of the oven too soon 'cause he looked half baked. Said his skinny ole' tan legs and arms sure looked strange next to that bony ole' white body. Beau said that didn't bother him none and he just climbed out on a limb and hung upside down scratchin' his chest for fleas. Faster than a rabbit chased by hounds, Beaus mama found him some more underwear. “I don't care if'n there ain't neighbors around,” she said, “but my boy ain't gonna run around buck naked like a wild animal.”
Beau's mama made us take two baths every day. I thought the water felt good but Beau said only girls or sissies took more than one bath a week. Said his brother, Leon, sometimes went 3 weeks without one. Maybe that's why my sisters didn't like him. Beau's mama said that when Leon got home from trappin' she was gonna make him take one too. Beau said he didn't want to be buck naked in no tub with Leon 'cause he was a pervert, whatever that means. “I'm gonna wash your mouth out with lye soap Beau Bordeleon,” said his maw, “unless you quit all that nasty talk.” Beau thought it was bad enough havin' to use that lye soap on his body and he weren't about to put none in his mouth so he just shut up. After Beau's mama left he said he didn't know which stunk most, having to take 2 baths a day or that ole' stinkin' mama. I sure hope he was talkin' 'bout that black and white critter what got us in this mess and not his own mama.
I said we could pretend we were in the jungle and cannibals were gonna make a good soup out of us but Beau said he didn't want to play. Said his mama was gonna be sad she made him take so many baths. Said that water was too hot and it was gonna make his skin crinkle up and fall right off his bones to the bottom of the wash tub. “Maw sure is gonna feel sorry for having a skeleton in the family,” he said. I said his mama would probably hang him in the smokehouse and have lots of bones to make soup with. Beau poked me in the stomach and made me spit up all over him. So he spit back and I got mad and we started to fight.
We started rollin' and jumpin' all over the yard buck naked with mud and stuff all over us. We fought so much that we knocked the wash tub over and spilled lots of water all over my sisters. They began screamin' for our mama and said they wished we'd never been hatched 'cause we'd been nothin' but misery all our born days. Betsy said, “I wish that ole' water would boil your hides so we could stretch it out to dry and sell it
with the other animal skins.” That's when Beau knocked the wash tub over again and it hit me in the head makin' me see stars.
Beau's mama boiled some more water and made us take another bath with lye soap while she stood near with a switch in her hand. She said Beau was lower than a snake in a wagon rut.
At night Beau and I slept in the tree house and told ghost stories. But mostly Beau. Said he had one that would scare my dumb ole' sisters the rest of their born days. “Them sissy girls will have gray hair before they're old enough to marry,” said Beau. “Won't nobody want them when they see how old and ugly they become. Not even brother Leon,” he laughed. Said he couldn't wait to tell them his story since they made fun of his birthday suit. Beau stood up and began to act like a wild animal swingin' his arms about as he told about the “Sniger”. Said the Sniger was striped like a tiger and was purple and white. It stood 10 feet tall and had eyes and tails all over its body. It would stalk the swamp lookin' for children to eat. I smiled and pretended I weren't scared 'cause I couldn't let Beau know that I might have gray hair too, even before my sisters. Beau's story made me shiver so much I thought my underwear would drop off and my you-know-what would too. Beau said if'n I didn't stop that shiverin', I was gonna knock the tree house down and the Sniger might get me. I shook harder as I moved to the middle of the tree house, holdin' tight to my underwear. I said I was just cold and missin' my blanket. Said I was movin' to the middle to get warmer. Beau laughed so hard, he fell on his bottom, sayin' I was just scared 'cause the tree house was only 8 feet off the ground and the Sniger was 10 feet tall. I hit Beau so hard he fell out of that tree house. I told him he was crazier than any ole bugger and I weren't scared. “Besides, I told him, “any ole' bear could sneak up on that ole Sniger and make Sniger stew if'n he wanted to.” Beau said nothin' could sneak up on the Sniger. “Beau, you're crazy,” I said, “'cause somethin' could sneak up on it when it was sleepin'.” Beau said it never completely slept 'cause it always made one eye on each side of is body stay awake to be on watch. When it found something near it, it would take one of its 12 tails that were attached under each eye, even on its head and wrap it around the critter like a snake. Beau said it would squeeze the critter until it went limp, then eat it. Beau then proceeded to jump on me and started squeezin' me around my middle with his legs. I said I had to go to the bathroom. Beau laughed louder sayin' he scared the pee out of me and was gonna tell my sisters, but I let him know I was just waitin' for a good time to go 'cause I didn't want to upset his story. Beau kept on laughin' and then curled up in the middle of the tree house using his underwear for a pillow and went to sleep. I couldn't sleep 'cause I was wonderin' which one of those eyes that ole' Sniger had lookin' at me or if'n he wanted two ole' stinkin' boys for his supper. After sittin' awhile I decided to have some fun of my own to keep me awake and started to wrap some ole' rope around Beau's legs making him think that ole' Sniger had wrapped it's tail about him and was squeezin' him limp. Beau suddenly stood up and started walkin' about with his arms flailin' everywhere. “Beau,” I shouted, But Beau kept going in a circle and bumpin' into
everythin'. Beau was either asleep or that mean ole' Sniger had done flung a spell on him. My maw had told me that if'n I ever saw someone walkin' in their sleep that I'd better not ever try waking them 'cause they might be dangerous. She said they usually had a spell cast on them for being so bad and could even kill a person if disturbed. Maw said no one was supposed to wake up somebody like this or they might be crazy in their minds the rest of their born days and would have to be locked up for protection. Beau sure looked funny with his arms flailin' about walkin' in circles with nothin' on but his birthday suit. But I weren't gonna wake him. No sir'ree. Not me boy! Lands, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't stay in the tree house 'cause Beau was all over it and I could be killed and I couldn't go leavin' it 'cause that ole' Sniger might be waitin' for me to climb down and I might be killed. I knew one thing for sure, I weren't 'bout to wake Beau up 'cause I didn't want him to be crazier than he already was. So I just kept walkin' about the tree house keepin' out of Beau's way the rest of the night. I was so dizzy walkin' in circles that I was about to pass out when Beau headed for a limb and climbed on it, stretchin' out like an ole' mama couger with his legs and arms danglin' down and started to snore. I stayed up all night waitin' and watchin' but that Sniger never came and Beau kept on sleepin'.

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


We were clearin' the boards, laughin' 'bout how funny we musta looked fallin' down o them sheep, when Beau noticed a tunnel runnin' up under the side of the sheep shed. After pokin' a stick up it a couple of times, Beau decided one of the dogs or cats musta made it to get cool and it needed investigatin' Beau just seemed to be scared of nothin' and started climbin' in that tunnel. Got half way in before he got stuck. Said I should pull some of the boards off him so he could get out, but I just thought this was another plan of Beau's to make me do all the work. So I just pushed him up further makin' him look like my maw had planted her flower garden there in the shed 'cause all that was left of Beau was his overalls. Beau started shoutin' at me that he could hear somethin' in front of him and I better get him out, quick, but I couldn't. No matter how hard I pulled, Beau stayed stuck. Beau shouted that I should get my sisters to help me pull. My sisters said he could rot up in those ole' boards for all they cared and besides it served him right. Anyway they were fixin' supper and tryin' on some of Maws toilet water while she was gone to help Beau's maw help set up the quiltin' frame over at Beau's house.
Near supper my sisters came out smellin' like they fell in that ole' bottle of toilet water. But it wasn't just them! That stinkin' was comin' from Beau! “I told you he would rot,” they shouted. The girls just screamed and left sayin' I could pull that ole' stinky boy out myself or just leave him there. I tugged at Beau's feet and shouted that he should push from his end to help me, but he didn't hear me 'cause he had passed out. I finally got him out of that tunnel and thought he had died and gone to heaven again when our paws came home. My Paw said he had forgotten to tell us he had seen an ole' mama skunk and her young-uns among them boards and that we should be careful not to rile her. “Just put them boards back over the hole,” they laughed, standin' their distance.
Before I could, that ole' mama skunk and all her young-uns came prancin' out flingin' their tails even higher at all of us. 

 I never seen so much runnin' and shoutin' in all my born days. Sisters were screamin' 'bout supper being ruined while they ran about in total confusion. Paws, sisters, dogs, cats, sheep, skunks and me were runnin' in every direction while Beau just lay there passed out deader'n a door knob. Every time I got near anyone they would shout and run faster screamin' at me to stay away. As I ran around the corner of the shed, I looked back to see if Beau was movin' but he just kept lying there. Them baby skunks decided they musta liked ole Beau 'cause they marched right up to him and proceeded to climb on his back and play among the flowers while their ole' mama kept her guard. Darin' us to mess with her young-uns or their new flower garden. That's when I discovered that ole' mama and her young-uns weren't the only skunks stinkin'. I was stinkin' too. Paw said it was my God given duty to run them skunks away from my best friend since I was smellin' just as ripe as them skunks and Beau. Before I could get me a stick to chase 'em, Beau woke up a screamin' and flingin' skunks in every direction. This didn't set too well with that ole' mama skunk and she proceeded to fling more of that perfume of hers at us again.
We did some burnin' that afternoon all right. Not only did we burn them boards, but we had to burn every stitch of clothes we had on and had to spend the next few days and nights camped outside in our underwear and taking baths with lye soap until we quit smellin' so ripe and our maws had time to make us some new overalls. Beau's maw made his out of her ole' stripped black and white dress which made Beau happy 'cause he was gonna look like one of them convicts or that ole' skunk critter. My sisters said his maw was just getting' him used to what he would have to wear some day in the jail house over in Marksville.
Poor Beau's mama didn't get the material for her dresses she wanted 'cause she had to spend the money on material for new overalls for Beau. Said she was gonna make him a dozen different pair. Said she wasn't gonna let him run around all day lookin' like that ole' mama skunk in his black and white stripped overalls.

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.