The temperature this morning, as of about 5, was 21°F. Today’s high is expected to reach 46°F. But the air temperature will remain at or below freezing until around 9 this morning. These facts matter to me because the slush remaining on the roads, particularly roads that had little or no traffic yesterday, certainly has frozen solid overnight. Black ice and re-frozen snow melt make for treacherous driving conditions. Even though my car is an all-wheel-drive vehicle, I hesitate to drive it on hilly terrain covered with ice—especially steep, hilly terrain. I want to drive to our new house today. I started to drive over yesterday, but when I reached a steep area that was shaded by pine trees, I decided the risk of sliding off the road and down a steep embankment was too great…so I returned home. I wonder how different it will be today? Maybe I’ll stay in, as much as it probably will drive me approximately crazy.


Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.

~ Words from an Irish headstone ~


I read this morning about California-born figure skater Zhu Yi’s falls in the Olympic competition in Beijing. Though an American, she was chosen to represent China in the event. Her unfortunate falls apparently gave rise to voluminous vitriolic comments on Chinese social media, though the mostly Chinese crowd in the stadium at the event applauded her as she bowed. I have grown to despise the concept that Olympic athletes “represent” their (or “a”) country. That idea foments rabid nationalism which, to my way of thinking, is anathema to the very concept of Olympic competitions. In my mind Olympic events are about individual and team performance. They are not meant to demonstrate one nation’s superiority over another; rather they are meant to celebrate individuals’ and teams’ extraordinary capabilities. The fact that Chinese social media attacked Zhu Yi simply demonstrates that China is just as susceptible to the imbecilic capacity for rabid nationalism as any other country. The shame about which the online attackers complain is not about Zhu Yi; it should be about posters’ own behavior. While I’m ranting about the Olympics, I’ll go on record as saying I think eligibility to compete should be limited to amateur athletes; athletes who are paid for their athletic performance should be ineligible to participate. Growl.


I made sardines with grits for breakfast yesterday, just as I suggested I might. My breakfast had long-since been finished and the dishes washed and put away before my morning solitude ended a couple of hours later. During that morning solitude, the origin of sardines with grits never entered my mind. But when asked if the meal’s concept was “mine,” I responded that I doubted it, but I did not know its origin. This morning, before I began writing this post, I explored a bit, which jogged my memory. It seems sardines with grits is a fairly common dish in the Caribbean. Yet they are most common, from what I gather, in the Bahamas, which are neither in the Caribbean nor on its border. Notwithstanding their geographic distance from (or perhaps because of their proximity to) the Caribbean, the island nation is a full member state of the Caribbean Community. But that fact has nothing to do with sardines and grits, does it? No, so I’ll move on. So, based on today’s cursory research (and the resurrection of memories), sardines with grits is a Caribbean dish. I must have found mention of it long ago; I remember making it when I lived in Dallas, so it has been at least several years since I first tried it. My memory tells me I must first have encountered mention of the dish when conducting research for my “breakfast around the world” book, which I’ve never finished. I’ve never been to the Caribbean, so I did not come across it there. I remember another Caribbean (Jamaican) dish, one I’ve tried more recently, is saltfish and ackee. When I say “recently,” I mean since I moved to Hot Springs Village. I wrote about that dish on a blog post in November 2015.

The pause for research that led me to find the saltfish and ackee post also led me back to a March 2013 post I entitled “A Renaissance of Sardines,” in which I posted a recipe for sardines and grits. That recipe was slightly more involved than yesterday’s dish (which consisted of canned sardines packed in water, grits, and a few splashes of habanero sauce). The original recipe called for sardines packed in olive oil, grits, chopped black olives, and diced tomatoes.

While pondering those old recipes and the research I used to conduct in pursuit of my unfinished book, it occurred to me that my research tapered off when my late wife started exhibiting symptoms that her congestive heart failure was getting worse. Though she was not nearly as much of an aficionado as I, she enjoyed trying the occasional unusual (for us) international breakfast. When her interest began to decline, I no longer had a willing partner with whom to explore international breakfast traditions. I’ve never known of anyone else willing to explore gustatory adventures, at least not with regard to breakfast. That may not be true. I may have known others who are/were willing, but not in such an easily casual manner. Neither she nor I ever claimed to have the taste of a gourmet, nor to be fiercely and passionately committed to culinary matters. We both just enjoyed trying new foods and new flavors.

The oddest things can trigger precious memories which, in turn, can awaken grief from its slumber.


I awoke this morning at around 3:30. I had an odd feeling that someone was standing nearby; there was no one standing nearby. I got up for a minute, but decided it was just too early to get up for the day, so I went back to bed. Just after 4, I admitted defeat and got up for good. Although I knew there was no one standing nearby, that feeling kept coming back, then fading, then coming back again. Finally, I decided I must have been thinking about writing a piece of fiction in which two people communicate with one another through their dreams. That must be it. But, still…


I fell in love with this image I encountered yesterday. Actually, I fell in love with a number of images yesterday. Much of my day was spent at the computer, looking at art of various kinds. In my mind’s eye, I see images I would like to create on canvas or on the side of buildings, but I do not have the technical skills nor the mental capacity to transfer what I see in my head to the physical world. I admire artists whose hands and brains can work together in such extraordinary fashion that they produce magnificent works of art that I consider almost magical in their ability to spellbind viewers or participants. The image here should be relatively easy to replicate, with the right stones and the right beach. But that’s a bit like saying I should be able to create paintings just like the brilliantly colorful works of Leonid Afremov; all I need are the right paints, the right brushes and/or palette knives, and the right canvas. The successful merger of visions, skills, and materials requires at least a few dashes of magic.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.