Laughing at History

Yesterday the website The Mary Sue published a post of mine, a short, lighthearted little thing about the malady known as green sickness. After it was published, I committed the cardinal internet sin of reading the comments. Normally I don’t do that, but The Mary Sue’s readers are savvy and smart, and I was curiousContinue reading “Laughing at History”

Scratching “The Itch Infalable” at The Recipes Project

I wrote this blog post for The Recipes Project: Food, Magic, Art, Science, and Medicine about a 17th-century anti-itching recipe: Scratching “The Itch Infalable”: Johanna St. John’s Anti-Itch Cure On the downside, you may get psychosomatic itching after reading it, much like in 5th grade when you watched all those educational movies about lice. OnContinue reading “Scratching “The Itch Infalable” at The Recipes Project”

Feeling crabby

Happy birth-month to me! My birthday was last week, and, as per usual, I was out of sorts. I’ve never really enjoyed my birthday, to be honest. It’s not that I mind getting older. Heck, I have Gratiano’s line from The Merchant of Venice–“with mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come”–etched onto a mirror inContinue reading “Feeling crabby”

The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Day: The Renaissance Anatomy “Pop-Up Book”

My eldest daughter—burgeoning animal-rights activist and wannabe vegan (alas, she likes bacon and cheese too much to commit)—is supposed to do her first dissection soon in biology class.  She is not happy about it, and after some thought, I realized I wasn’t really either: with all of the virtual tools at our disposal, do weContinue reading “The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Day: The Renaissance Anatomy “Pop-Up Book””

For Valentine’s Day: The 17th-Century Method for Knowing When Your Heart is Broken

I’ve been happily married for almost 18 years, but my kids listen to enough Taylor Swift (Lord help me) for me to know what a broken heart means in 21st-century America:  It means “breaking down and coming undone,” feeling that “I’m only me when I’m with you” (don’t get me started on how messed upContinue reading “For Valentine’s Day: The 17th-Century Method for Knowing When Your Heart is Broken”

Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead of the Month–September

  While doing research, I often come across fascinating tidbits or though-provoking morsels I want to share.  For example, did you know midwives would sometimes place chunks of nutmeg or cloves on a laboring woman’s thigh, reasoning that the baby would be attracted to the delicious scent and want to make its way into the world?Continue reading “Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead of the Month–September”