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 →

Sentence Diagramming: Stuff of Stars

I love picture books. Not all of them. I lean away from super silly and toward the ones with really cool language. Picture books let writers play with theme and plot without worrying too much if something makes sense to adults. They follow kid logic. They can also get away with prose that would never... Continue Reading →

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 →

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 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 →

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