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”

In the Image of Dog He Created Them…

We’ve all heard the theory that people look like their pets (or is it vice versa?), and we’ve all seen the uncanny photos, like these featured in the popular listicle website, Buzzfeed (oh dear, number 23…) (As an aside: I joke that it’s because of this resemblance theory that I adopted a greyhound—it was a weight-lossContinue reading “In the Image of Dog He Created Them…”

Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General and Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead of the Month

Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with early modern witchcraft. Perhaps it’s because of the poppet in my hedge. Or perhaps it’s because I took the BBC’s online quiz “Would You Have Been Accused of Witchcraft” (short answer: yes). Probably it’s a combination of the two: a realization that, had I lived in 17th-century England,Continue reading “Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General and Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead of the Month”

The Poppet in the Hedge

Last week, my neighbor cut back our shared hedge considerably—about three feet.  We didn’t think much about it until our family walk, when we were startled to discover this: It’s a fuzzy picture, but if you enlarge it you can see it’s a baby doll head impaled on a stick–caked in mud, with one eyeContinue reading “The Poppet in the Hedge”

What Would Newton Do? Rep. Paul Broun’s Scientific Asynchrony

The other day my 10-year-old daughter came home incensed: a friend had told her of a congressman’s assertion that evolution and the Big Bang Theory were lies sent by Satan to deceive Americans.  She and her friend were spittin’ mad and spent their lunch hour talking about his stupidity (yeah, my daughter has some coolContinue reading “What Would Newton Do? Rep. Paul Broun’s Scientific Asynchrony”

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””

The Perils of Wisdom: Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead of the Month, March

Have you ever met one of those peckerheads who’s almost too pathetic for so robust an insult?  The kind of guy who doesn’t want to do bad things, but would be okay with it if bad things happened to people he didn’t like?* Our Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead for March** is that guy. His name wasContinue reading “The Perils of Wisdom: Vile-Hearted Renaissance Peckerhead of the Month, March”

Ex libris

I believe that most people (or at least the people I want to know) have a special “library place” in their hearts. It’s what causes the smile that breaks when entering a new library; the shiver on catching the familiar whiff of old books; the frisson of anticipation after realizing that stacks and stacks of books can beContinue reading “Ex libris”

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”