My father, James Edisto Mitchell, painted the sea. His most compelling canvases were the abstract ones, nothing but water and light, capturing in oils an offshore vortex that only blue ocean mariners witness. He served in the merchant marine during WWII, insisted his five children tie a proper bowline, and, in his later years, intimidated younger competitors who lacked the same sharp eye for wind shifts during sailboat races in Narragansett Bay. Dad was also what I call a performance cook, usurping my mother in the kitchen when hungry shipmates or fellow artists showed up, preparing certain closely guarded recipes (onion soup, spaghetti sauce, and shrimp stew among them) with a No. 12 cast-iron skillet, stockpot, and knives no one else was permitted to touch.