“Dirt Always Wins” — A Story, Part Two

'30s girl injecting insulin

Sterile Technique There’s a curiously moving photo in a 1930s medical handbook put out by Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, who started a clinic in Boston that still specializes in treating diabetics. It shows a sweet Shirley Temple clone, almost 3 years old, the caption says, sitting on a wooden table and injecting her doll-like thigh with a needle and syringe that contains a dose of insulin. (A darling voice muffles an “ouch!”) She’s just a baby, yet she’s her own life-saving nurse. I became diabetic at 7 and almost died because the family doctor … [Read more...]

“Dirt Always Wins” — A Story in Six Parts

Stain wheel

One: Stains     Have you ever seen a stain wheel? It’s a practical novelty, die-cut layers of glossy printed cardboard that you’d have found in an old five-and-dime. Is something you love spotted or blotched? Merely turn the wheel to your problem: egg, gum, alcoholic beverages, axle grease, urine, mustard, glue, mildew, flowers, and the step-by-step stain solution, as it were, appears in a window. Similar wheels were made long ago for bashful young men who needed help in coordinating the colors of their suits, shirts and ties -- before they … [Read more...]

Pasta Vazool: The Conclusion

IMG_1296-500x500

    A Note to My Readers -- Part 3 In learning to cook, I find that I am learning to think, in recipe form. That's different from cooking per se, because a recipe is communication, a medium that's supposed to outlive a Tweet, or a chef. It's also not supposed to hurt you: Place the unopened cans — yes, unopened — in a pot of boiling water, perhaps on top of a washcloth so that they don’t rattle. Cover the pot and simmer for two and a half or three hours, taking care to replenish the water as needed to keep the cans submerged: … [Read more...]

Vazool

Brooklyn '50s street scene

A Note to My Readers — Part 2 His name was Harry. Don't think English king; instead, it's from the Yiddish "Herschel," although his three brothers, three sisters and many friends called him "Hashel." When I stared at my freckled, rusty-skinned dad as he watched Gunsmoke or smoked Chesterfields while having his cup of Chock full o'Nuts, I often thought of the Irish name Dinty Moore, the hash that came in a can. I'm watching him now as he drives the Buick Special -- bottom of the line, only three portholes -- on his weekend rounds through … [Read more...]

What Cooking and Writing Have in Common

Writing blocks

A Note to My Readers -- Part 1 When I was a youngster, I thought writing blocks were cubes with different letters that I could arrange into words. I'd do it horizontally, left to right, just as I had learned to print letters in penmanship class, or I'd do it by piling the blocks into towers and read the result from top to bottom. In that case, I'd have to lift the whole pile each time I added a letter, and if the word were too long it would topple. To prevent that, I tried to fashion my words from the bottom up, but I'd be stumped. What's … [Read more...]