Monday, June 1, 2020

WFH Window

The day is impossibly beautiful and breezy. Dazzling.

Nekkid baby has returned to my strip of the sidewalk, on a tiny bicycle. Riding it like a scooter. One foot on a pedal, one accelerating heedlessly.

An hour ago, with his mommy, he had walked by wearing nothing but a pull-up diaper, holding a sippy cup, absorbed utterly by anything under his nekkid little feet. Leading with his lil' boy belly. Dappled in sunshine.

But now, on his bike, daddy along for the ride literally, he is dressed and helmeted and speeding. I hear no wailing; he must be good at not falling.

He fades down the road.

The passel o' boys across the street from me are outside playing some game, squealing with joy between yelling like angry badgers, all modulated by occasional, calm dad-voice.

It. Is. OSUM.

Oh man - another bloodcurdling scream! Kids at play so often sound so terrifying!!! It sounds exactly like my own neighborhood, circa 1978.

Between this, tweeting birds, and inviting breezes, I am hard put to finish part 2 of the month's reporting. Gah.

There is this very specific inflection to kids playing - an elastic up-and-down wave, nothing like so tidy as a sine - in which the sound of injustice resonates with purity. BUT WHYYYYY ... can't I go over here ... does he get to run to the next base ... am I not wiii-ii-iiiiiii-in-in-innniiiinnng?

The breeze in the maple outside the window, playing with the grass, scintillating in the treetops across the way. The beagle a couple houses away, Expressing Opinions.

It is ... beautiful.


Just a few miles away, filthy Confederate monuments I want to see for myself, updated for our age by people angry, and sad, and bereft for the several-millionth time in 400 years. The police chief here has been on the side of citizens. Just south of us, another chief stood with his people. It is not loaves and fishes The Beatitudes, and it IS optics and choices and amplification calculated - but it is good to see choices for those these polices forces are here to protect and serve.

One of my dearest friends, my best neighbor at work, a woman I love so much - I have heard the sirens, but she heard those and the sound of "no justice/no peace" and "I can't breathe" all this weekend. She is a living blessing.

The Daughters of the Confederacy could have done as others have - served history instead of themselves, as an institution. Why anyone would care to be institutionalized with a group of worshippers of the Lost Cause - people lionizing rebels, who broke away from and tried to destroy the United States - is beyond comprehension. Their existence is shameful, and their mission indefensible. They should relinquish their revolting relics to actual historians, donate their facilities, repent and make reparations. They are shameful. They burned - for a little while - this weekend. This is not looting, it is reprimand, and long past due.

Lee's tired horse, on an exalted platform of ridiculous loftiness - tail down and tired, while the old General still rides, ramrod straight and UNASHAMED, bronze and burnished, but shat on daily by local pigeons with more rectitude - is bedaubed with graffiti. Stuart's plinth, a little shorter, surrounded by a wrought iron bridge it could *not* have been easy to bring down - but brought down it has been, by living bodies who matter more than these rebels do.

Leave them desecrated, the echo of the desecration these insurgents brought to the United States, in dividing them. Remember them for the failures they were. Let the bronze and granite decay, the rot take them over. Leave them to rot, or take them away altogether.

Leave Kehinde Wiley's living horseman in their place - no traitor, but an AMERICAN man - pristine and strong and proud and standing for something. Let him tower over the others as they fall down.


It would take only minutes to see what has been done, and what has been undone, in my city. I will probably drive out - before the newly enacted curfew - to see what I need to know. To be a part of it.

To see the dazzling sun, perhaps, set ... on these newly-faced (hardly DEfaced - how do you "ruin" idolatrous monuments to traitors?) images.

To breathe the good air, and commit to using my privilege ... so that little nekkid kiddo can stay untouched a while longer.

Thursday, May 28, 2020



Say just one variable had been different, and I'd been 1/4 mile east, walking with my neighbors. Say the "KKK leader" who revved his engine and ploughed into the crowd had hit me and killed me. I'm DEAD.

You're going to feel good about that?

Say you found out tomorrow that I am dead today. You'd regret nothing?

You'd never wish I were still alive ... wish you could still turn to me ..

Great Zot, yes, boy. This is a cry for help.

Monday, January 27, 2020


Genealogies gleaned from ancient human DNA are set to transform archaeology.

For an historical fiction author (well ... I used to be), this one represents a tantalizing plot bunny. Who were the unrelated women on these prosperous farmsteads? Why are there no offspring present with their DNA? Graves and grave goods gave me a huge amount of the research information I used when I wrote The Ax and the Vase, and still featured significantly in my work on the second novel. This sort of thing seems to energize my creative juices. Maybe, juuuuust maybe ... someday I can talk about work on that second novel in the present tense again. *Sigh*

Mmmm, ancient brains. Jokes aside, either one of these stories that could be a plot bunny, or maybe they're interesting in their own right. Right now, I am not chasing bunnies, but I have found myself peeping out of my own burrow from time to time to sniff the air and *think* about them.

Urban ecologists who ignore the geography of race and income in a city do so at the peril of their science

Time to tell that one middle manager to lose the "survival of the fittest" poster. It is INSPIRING and very, very cool to take a closer look not only at the influence of community and cooperation in biology, but to once again review the very idea of individuality, as regards any body ... and anybody. This, for me, begins to look like a bunny I'd like to chase.

Bacteria, for instance, may make as much as 95 percent of the serotonin in our bloodstreams, meaning you have a diverse symbiont community to thank for your pleasant mood. ... (A)nimals, humans included, are really multispecies events, composite byproducts of collaboration.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Rumors of War

"I'm working on something, and you're going to love it, and it belongs in Richmond, Virginia."

Honestly, I'm not so sure about the point that Rumors of War actually "outflanks" discussion of removing monuments bought and paid for toward a racist political and social agenda. I hope that the idea of removing such so-called monuments (to insurrectionists who rebelled against the United States and lost) isn't just *over*. But I do appreciate the strategy, and not least because this is the most breathtaking kind of  art.

Side note ... given how lazy/racist it is to use chocolate and coffee imagery in describing characters of color in fiction, how do we feel about the "silky, dark patina" comment from a white journalist? Hmm.

Monday, December 2, 2019


Here is a plot bunny giant enough and strong enough for me to want to saddle it up and gall-hop away: on "crones" in sci fi. YES, PLEASE.

(N)o person inherently deserves to have a larger psychological piece of the universe than another person

I would add: or physical piece. Walk like a man, talk like a man - get crashed into by men, my friend! This phenomenon is the WORST in grocery stores, and it's always white men.

the brittle tedium of being yourself in a foreign place

This is an exhibit I might have to visit, Hopper and hotels. (Initially, I used the term "go see" in that first sentence, but changed it to "visit" ... both because my brain insists upon certain rhythms - but also because it seems, in the dingy gradation of color words have for me, a better choice for the picture.) What Sebastian Smee reviews as problems are part of what I see as the strengths in Hopper. The unfinished stories these pieces evoke. The "clunkiness" of his female figures strike me as, in fact, similarly honest to the rest of his images; celebrating bodies which are not artistically or aesthetically perfect. The strands of hair, the skin tones and shadow are impeccable. I can see muscles and bones where Smee apparently cannot.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

"... Dad?"

Look, I know the answer is NO.

But today I have been distracted from the American impeachment inquiry testimony today ...

Seriously, is Sting David Holmes's father? Uncle? Older brother?

Image: NBC News

Image: Huffpost


I have been in this room, but we were with Cicero, not Spock. An elegiac, good read. "The logic of mercy" ... yes ...

It's not news to me that the fashion industry produces a massive amount of the garbage we create, but ten percent is still an eye opening figure. Also, just a bit more for my TBR pile; thanks, Nature!

Speaking of fashion ... it's been some time since I linked an American Duchess piece, but how about - oh, sixteen pieces? Looking at the capsule wardrobe. Love the "just one black frock" image!

History which, not only did they fail to teach this in my schools, I literally have never even heard of these HUNDREDS of takeovers, or the IAT, before now. It seems like that's burial. It seems like that is colonial power and prejudice, still alive and well.

(T)rans joy is real

What a beautiful essay. Go click and be blessed

Monday, November 4, 2019


Synesthesia, misphonia, repetitive motion, ASMR - all threads in the skein of my family, and each one fascinating. For the record, 7 and L (lower case as well) are yellow and sometimes paler. Never bright. 4 is more a buff. And at least one person in my family has misphonia badly and copes with it, and another one has it intermittently and just doesn't. (None of us into ASMR that I know of: we are a deaf lot!)

Adventures in Teh Intarwebs, People Have Time On Their Hands edition: someone took the trouble for this. *SMH* Honestly, it's just bewildering.

Happy birthday to Nature, turning 150 this week! A few great links from the past couple of daily emails from them - one, on an astonishingly promising therapy for cystic fibrosis, a disease very closely related to the pulmonary fibrosis which had a hand in the deaths of four people I have loved very much. Another, pointing to the immune damage measles can cause, exposing victims to risk from diseases to which they were formerly immune. Thanks again, anti-vaxxers.

When I was a kid, it may have been anywhere from when I was eight to twelve or so, my aunts and maybe even my grandma were visiting. Mom had a bushel, perhaps even more, of tomatoes to can, and she was manning the pot on the stove. My memory is that I was at the back side of the table next to my aunt V, and mom gave me the bright chrome knife. A small knife, it's a heavy one, gleaming, and that day it was freshly sharp, and my job was to slit and skin the cooked tomato bodies, crushing them with my hand and pulling off the skin, and take out any part of the flesh not good for preserving. The tomatoes were terribly hot, and the acid would burn if you had a cut on your finger. But my only memory is the cacophany, the steam, the sitting around a brown formica table with my family, mom running the show.

Why tell the story above? Because this makes so much sense to me. (Though, to be fair: I have a *peninsula* in my kitchen, and it is spiff.) 

As we come to the season of holidays, treats, great meals and small ... what are your kitchen table memories?

Edited to fret: I fear there is a new addiction in the offing. Science Daily has an article about dingoes, AND an article about Ötzi. Hooray for twin obsessions!