Seven Fires for cooking

1) a parilla grill with a mother fire supplying it with charcoal.  2) a chapa griddle.  3) horno de barro, a wood oven. 4) caldero cauldron. 5) rescoldo, cooking in ashes. 6) infiernillo, cooking between two fires.  7) asador, cooking things standing over a fire on an iron cross.


Chef Magnus Nilsson.  Sweden’s Fäviken restaurant.  Mind of a Chef. Season 3. Episodes 9-16.  He ponders: 1) the sources of influence, 2) the crunchiness of electricity leaving the body of a trout, and 3) the ways that limits provoke creativity. I also love the Norse origin myth where a cow, standing at the yawning gap of nowhere, licks a block of ice until Ymir falls out of it.


The word, disaster, comes from combining a latin word for stars (astrum) with a prefix (dis) which means a “lack of” or “distance from.”  Disasters, then, indicate our distance from our stars, sources, heat, primary orbit.

Sweet pickle justice

This giant in my life (father-in-law) just made North Carolina law with a unanimous Supreme Court decision. The justices said that the State Bar had no jurisdiction trying to discipline his client who is a sitting judge. This protects all judges in NC from politically motivated attacks. We are celebrating with homemade mustard slaw, fresh tuna salad, and sweet pickles jarred by his sister using their mother’s (Annie Belle Hall Shearin) secret recipe.


Smithfield BBQ Restaurant

A large ceramic sink with a generous mirror and stack of paper towels.

  • next to the order counter
  • next to the front door
  • next to the tables and booths.

Presumably there are moments

  • when eating vinegar/mustard slaw, eastern Carolina pulled-pork, and baked beans
  • when table napkins are not enough,
  • when a trip to the restroom is extreme
  • when a diner has to roll up his sleeves, plunge hands into a basin of soapy water and clean up before, during, or after a big meal.

Blue bathing suit

My wife and daughter swim every day. People who swim every day have several bathing suits. Many bathing suits, even expensive ones, fall apart like kleenex if you swim in them all of the time. If you wash your bathing suits, they fall apart even faster. And if you dry them in a machine you don’t do yourself any favors. So if your wife and daughter swim every day, the entryway to your house might have a lot of bathing suits dangling from chairs or tossed over UPS boxes. And you might be familiar with special routines like welcoming your family home, carrying in the school backpacks, putting away the new groceries, and then deconstructing the swimming bag.  Bathing suits don’t easily reveal their defects. You don’t know that the blue Lands End bathing suit is falling apart until you are in the pool’s locker room. Barefoot on the tile floor. Looking over the sink into those big mirrors reflecting the gray walls, the yellow lockers, your wet hair, your pale skin. And then you notice some fabric bunching, some elastic stretching, some small obscenity that you worry may be noticed. But by whom? You pad out to the pool deck on the balls of your feet. Your community is here. A husband is connected to his wife by long earbud wires. They conclude their workout dancing to swing music in the shallow end. The daily inspirational quote on the whiteboard has three misspelled words. Who is counting? Who is clapping? A coach encourages the seasnakes into the water. Some of the five year olds are already submerged with kicking splashes.  My wife swims slow laps. My daughter is submerging and surfacing. They kick across the university pool. The sun fires the surface. The winds are pounding at the windows. Wet clumps of snow slide down the sunroof. The lifeguard has blown the whistle and called everyone out of the water because of the threat of a thunderstorm that is miles away. Miles from the thirty-odd swimmers called out of the blue that they know like no one else.

Praise: Nobel Prize for Literature

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, I got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on an uneventful morn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm