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!

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.