Why Does Poison Ivy Itch?

You’re in the woods, building a fort or exploring, and having a great time. A few hours later, you get a horrible, itchy rash. Argh, poison ivy! Despite the name, poison ivy does not make poison. Instead, every part of the poison ivy plant – leaves, stem, vine, berries, roots – makes an oil called … Continue reading Why Does Poison Ivy Itch?

Sentence Diagramming: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This one is obviously for Mom, who loved to read us Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst when we were little. Or maybe we just asked for it a lot. This is the gem that starts the book, and I ask you, how could anyone write a sentence … Continue reading Sentence Diagramming: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Sentence Diagramming: Michael Perry Favorites

Michael Perry has one of my favorite writerly voices. He writes approachable but still aching beautiful prose, prose that makes an English major like me grab for a pencil to underline and annotate and star as I read. And since he narrates his own audiobooks (and I've seen him in person a few times), I … Continue reading Sentence Diagramming: Michael Perry Favorites

Portrait of a Woman as a Young Mother

Appeared in August 2019, The Cabinet of Heed In the framed photo, a woman in profile—eyes smudged with dark circles, shoulder adorned with an epaulette of spit-up—hugs a newborn tight and high on her chest, resting her cheek on his head. The baby’s eyelids look like closed pistachios. His ears match the monkey’s on his … Continue reading Portrait of a Woman as a Young Mother

Waste Not, Want Not?: a deep dive into the wonderful, wacky world of organic waste disposal

My husband paused halfway between the trashcan and kitchen sink, clutching an apple core. “Tell me again what I do with this?” “Compost.” I pointed to the green compost bin, courtesy of our new trash haulers, Earthbound Environmental Solutions. He paused. “Why is that better than the garbage disposal?” “Climate change.” He paused. He pauses … Continue reading Waste Not, Want Not?: a deep dive into the wonderful, wacky world of organic waste disposal

Sentence Diagramming: Where the Wild Things Are

In these sporadic sentence diagramming posts, I diagram sentences to deepen their meaning, to become a better writer, or for my own amusement. One of the pieces of advice I received when I wrote a book about planets for my son was to match the number of words in a sentence to the age of the … Continue reading Sentence Diagramming: Where the Wild Things Are

Sentence Diagramming: Jane Eyre Part 3

In these sporadic sentence diagramming posts, I diagram sentences to deepen their meaning, to improve my writing, or for my own amusement. The shortest sentences can have the greatest impact. Think of the famous first line from Moby Dick, “Call me Ishmael.” Scholars have written tomes on that sentence. Me, I prefer Jane Eyre.   One of the … Continue reading Sentence Diagramming: Jane Eyre Part 3

Sentence Diagramming: Jane Eyre Part 2

In these sporadic sentence diagramming posts, I diagram sentences to deepen their meaning, to become a better writer, or for my own amusement. Patterns are clues. They tell us what to expect next. They feel mathematical and safe and empowering. Even preschoolers know red always precedes orange, which always precedes yellow. Is there any more pleasing … Continue reading Sentence Diagramming: Jane Eyre Part 2