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!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Right now

One year ago, it was clear and golden and dazzling, and I was holding the hand of my friend as she died. And then I was watching them disconnect her, de-intubating her, taking her finger out of the monitor, settling her arms and head and sheets. It was quiet, the beeping done with.

I came to work today. There seemed no point in not coming. I don't know why I did.

That day, I went home, after being with her husband, her friends, her family. Witnessing one brother's pain, because he missed her last moments. I sat on my couch, insensible to the Poobahs, and I knew they smelled her on me, smelled the hospital, smelled death. They were subdued, and I was inert to even their gentlest, inquiring, sweet attentions. The next night, my mom came over with food, and we ate, and we gave out candy to the neighborhood kids. I am grateful.

Jesus, babe. I miss you. My girl.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Morning walk

The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. instead of 5:40, and I rolled over out of habit, then found I actually felt like getting up. Pum came to the bedside in the dark, her ritual morning greeting, and I felt the strong, tight curl of her tail on my wrist as she padded away again, back to her bed.

Dressed and hair wrestled down, the kit and pup kibbled, I pulled on a sweater coat and light gloves, and we were off.

Penelope is a good girl on walks, and today was so quiet I had time to notice the tall oak to the southeast was not lit from below, as it usually is on autumn and winter mornings. Against the fathomless teal just outside the bare halo of sunrise, its bent branch and filigree were achingly lovely. I had time to muse - is that quiet sound, of minimal sand on damp asphalt under my soft shoe, is that a crunch, or something gentler? I had the time to muse, but did not find the word.

Just last night, talking with mom about her puppy and my now older baby girl, I'd said how funny it is: dogs' communication is most chancy not in the dark, but at twilight and dawn - when light is there, but they can't quite see the cues dogs signal each other with. This morning, we passed a shepherd going our way briefly, but across the street, and though she clearly saw the other dog, Penelope had no response at all. No pulling, "Mom, I want to go see the other dog - and thereby make friends with its person."

Dark, still, when we got home, Pum had her sniffs and her business done, and I had all my shoulder and back muscles intact. Seven years old now, she's powerful and big enough, this still is important.


One week from today, it will be the first anniversary of my best friend's - my sister's - death. Someone who loved her hard has gone to a place the rest of us who love her can't join him, and it is heartbreaking. Two of us - two of the three who made up our little Musketeers - cling to each other, and count ourselves blessed we ever had her. We are angry still, and yet able to laugh at the ways she haunts us.

Mostly by sending Def Leppard songs at incongruous - or entirely TOO congruous - moments. She remains an inveterate smartass. And she remains with us.

I will mark her passing in a couple of ways, across the miles with our third sister, and alone - and in figuring out exactly how to dress for Hallowe'en. She always LOVED Hallowe'en, and if dressing up is memorial to her now, it is a joyous celebration.


The dark season has begun, and that means not just winter's advent. It means not just cooling and sweatering and cozying and contemplating. It means BOO, it's Hallowe'n. It means grappling and reckoning with her loss. Trips to the cemetery, and always, always down memory lane.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


But our stories are about resistance, resurgence and badass MMA fighting congresswomen, reconnecting with our grandparents, fighting for future generations, building pathways for our fish, our children and our more-than-human relatives to thrive. It's time to represent our stories, our voices, our insights, our languages and our words for ourselves. In most of our Indigenous languages, our terms for ourselves translate to "the people." "Who are you?" someone asks. "What is the name of your tribe?" Our word usually translates to "We are the people. We are people, human beings." It's how we have represented ourselves since time began. It's about time for the media to catch up.

Once again, I'm confronted with a scientific expression of that system/spirit intuition I've been working within for the past two years at least. This article is a beautifully put ... sense of self, if you will.  "‘you’ are more than the contents of your chromosomes. The human body contains at least as many non-human cells (mostly bacteria, archaea and fungi) as human ones. Tens of thousands of microbial species crowd and jostle over and through the body, with profound effects on digestion, complexion, disease resistance, vision and mood. Without them, you don’t feel like you; in fact, you aren’t really you. The biological self has been reframed as a cluster of communities, all in communication with each other." This is worth the click for the writing, too, which is wonderful.

Banana. Plastic. Cool.

Edited to go beyond the bananas.

We all need hope, and I am willing to be persuaded it's worthwhile. So - yes, the environment as it existed before human intervention is in TROUBLE ... but the rate at which we're recognizing and seeking to rectify our errors is increasing every day. That is a good thing.

We're figuring out strategies to capture CO2. We're insatiably curious, even as we're scared, and that means we're fighting the consequences of our own blunders. Because homo sapiens are innovators.

Yes, there will be more unforseen consequences. Yes, there will always be greedy bastards who don't believe and don't care what has been manifest for decades - and is exponentially dangerous with every year that passes. Yes, it's sad we all look to (my niece, whom I shall not name here), Autumn Peltier, and Greta Thunberg - and feel stupid and scared and ineffectually guilty. The stupids *are* real.

Those who contemplate the groceries and trash we use are often paralyzed by the solutions that make their way into our attention - out of reach financially and/or geographically. When even the solutions aren't solutions, some, overwhelmed, just throw out plastic when nobody's looking - the new "throw up our hands and give up."

But there is HOPE. We are more than the contents of our chromosomes. And we're more than the consequences of our hubris.

And we're smart. And we're fascinated. And we're thinking about this. There's never been more focus on the problems stemming from and leading to climate, ecological, specie-al change.

Hope. Hope. HOPE. And learn.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Collection of Happy-making-ness

I just subscribed to Nature's daily briefing. Best idea I've had in ages; it's already brought me joy, and that's worth dusting off this old blog, even though I know it's not exactly The Bullhorn of Teh Intarwebs 'round here ...

Happy birthday to Trillian & company.

“Zachary Taylor was there. George W. Bush was there. Jimmy Carter was there,” Jacoby said, and then paused to think. “Oh, uh, Hillary Clinton was there! I believe Chelsea Clinton was there. I think Alexander Hamilton was there, too.”

Not merely non-horiffic news about something happening in the environment, but teeming, JOYFUL news. With dolphins (failing to say so long and thanks for all the fish, which is a good thing).

Okay, moving on from the links I got from Nature - but not stopping with links to provide hope and the-happy ...

Coral farming. It's slow, but even just seeing that humans *try* to bring back this habitat and life and beauty is hopeful.

Repatriation stories always make ME happy, how about you?

One last link, again from The History Blog ... would you like to actually DO something to preserve America's unique history? Welp, because I have been remiss in checking the HB, we're too late to donate to this particular cause ... HOWEVER ... the saving has been DONE (see comments section - one of the few comments fora on the internet where it's always safe to keep reading)! One of the last Hopewell sites in Ohio has NOT been sold for McMansion development. A win for all of us, and one I am so glad to see.

And, if it were not obvious: The Archaeological Conservancy did not go *poof* with the gavel bang above. There are other opportunities to participate in saving material cultural heritage, and for some things it may become "too late" at any time. Consider donating, becoming a member, or learning more. I'm definitely adding this to my special lists of give-to organizations.

Monday, September 30, 2019

White Gentrifier Guilt

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been tooling around Teh Intarwebs and the real world, getting a feel for real estate. Watching my mom, aged 80, continuing to grapple with the question of whether to leave the home she shared with my stepfather (answer: almost certainly not) has me thinking about what I'd like my own old age to look like, and it's possible it might not look best in the house I've got.

When I purchased my home in July, 2001, I never imagined being in it 18 years. It was meant to be starter equity, to be traded in when I found some hapless victim man - really very nice, but nothing I meant to become permanently attached to.

Well, my equity is now old enough to vote, or to die in a foreign war (but not drink!), and I find myself wondering whether it might be best traded on at some point. The house is two steep storeys, AND has a full basement: and the laundry is located all the way down there. Being of a moronic and stubborn nature, this means I regularly huck hundred-pound loads of clothes up and down stairs in varying states of safe clearance. Oh, in my fantasies, some engineer appears magically and offers to build a motorized dumbwaiter in a convenient spot. But then, in my fantasies I also have a slate-floor screened porch, a brick car port with electricity, and the house is suddenly not located in a super-white neighborhood either.

Yeah, I am 51 years old, and have realized that MOST of my life has been lived in a White Flight bubble. The schools I went to were named for old white politicians, proponents of Massive Resistance (we could have been Edgar Allen Poe high, but ohhh no - must be a politician!). The suburbs I spent most of my time in were without diversity.

So I don't really want to live my entire life in the economic, cultural, and personal bubble that is White Fragility Comfort. If I do sell, I'd love to see my place go to people who don't look exactly like me. When I bought, I was still a little afraid to buy in neighborhoods with bars on the windows.

Now, I'm more afraid to buy in those neighborhoods because, inevitably, those of us who grew up like I did are seeing how nice the houses were, that our parents or grandparents left behind in heading for the suburbs ... and they're coming back, displacing historically Black neighborhoods, denuding beautiful homes of vintage architectural details (white shaker cabinets that do not reach the ceiling and theoretically high end finishes that clash with and poorly cover older homes' interiors - what I call "stick on" kitchens), falling for ugly and disrespectful flips. Gentrification is killing family businesses and families, pricing people out of places they have lived maybe for generations.

I don't want to be that person. The notation "yoga studios and coffee shops are popping up everywhere!" in a listing, translated, means "don't be scared, lil' white folks, you can come back to the city because we're papering over what it used to be as fast as we can destroy lives!" It also means ramping up economic inequality - and, cringe-ironically, sending those who'll no longer be able to stay to cheap apartments ... or maybe the midcentury ramp crappy flips we're leaving behind now that they're no longer fashionable.

In just a few weeks' looking at my own future and driving around trying to suss out the worst of the gentification, I haven't figured out how to puncture the white economic bubble I've spent an awful lot of my life in, versus avoiding landing like a lummox on an even more delicate neighborhood ecosystem without damage.

One thing I know: whatever comes, I'll have zero use for boo-teeks, coffee shops, or yoga studios, so at least I don't have to feed THAT aspect of economic flux.

But I don't really know if there is an answer. It's entirely possible the answer is, "Sit down and shut up" - and, the fact is, I'm entirely willing to take that answer. Eighteen years in, I let my eye rove, and what I find when I come literally home is, home is a really nice place. Maybe I ought to hope my own environs might diversify with time, and save money for that dumbwaiter, that porch, that car port. A person could do far worse.

For now, I'm educating myself, and it's already working. I'm getting a feel for what the real priorities would be, what it would take to take me away from the house where I have loved my Sweet Siddy La and Pen and Goss, where I endured my father's and my stepfather's and my best friend/sister's deaths. Where I felt Mr. X's hands across my back as he held me, the day dad died, the first time he ever visited here. It wouldn't be easy to strip my home and leave these walls, these bricks, these good bones.

Maybe at some point I'll figure out the balance. Maybe (it's remotely possible) Mr. X and I might even find a home together someday.

Eh, maybe I'll be hit by a bus tomorrow. It's unlikely. But in the meantime, I gotta live.

And my place isn't a bad one for doing that...