Tea: An Appreciation

1991 or so: An overnight field trip to Wallops Island, Virginia. The tap water is hot. I convince myself it’s hot enough to make tea, and make tea in my Nalgene. Why did I even have teabags with me? I think I wanted to be the kind of person who is prepared to make tea […]

Redux: The Wonderful World of Oz…and Science

Adventure! Newfangled flying machines! This book has it all! This post originally appeared here on December 3, 2013.   Lately I’ve been reading my way through the series of Oz books. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is only the first in a series of 14 books, and it’s not remotely the best. It’s fascinating to reread books […]

A Book About Whales

A little before Christmas I saw a stage production of Moby Dick. It was a wonderful production, by the Lookingglass Theater Company from Chicago, so creative in how it showed the depicted life at sea and on land. Actors climbed around in the rigging and dangled by their ankles. While the ship’s crew was thoroughly […]

Cicada On My Window

I’ve written before about how much I like seeing a bug on a window. Usually I see those bugs on the outside. This is a story about a bug that I saw on the inside. It was a chilly morning in November. I was in a hotel in Tatopani, a Nepali town along the Kali […]

Drawing For My Nerves

I have a tendency to worry. When I’m stressed, I can worry pretty much any time of day, but my brain’s favorite time to worry is in the middle of the night. At 3 a.m., there is no problem that can’t be mulled over, chewed on, and puffed up until it seems like the biggest […]

Redux: The Other Signs of Fall

The other day I saw the fall crocuses and remembered that time last year when I learned that fall crocuses exist. Read on for my other signs of fall. What are yours?  The equinox is past. At last, fall has come to the northern hemisphere. Some of the ways the new season shows up are […]

Bug On My Airplane Window

I love seeing bugs on windows, for reasons I’ve never fully worked out. I’ve even written about it before on this blog. Normally those bugs are on the outside of the window and I’m on the inside. That’s how I prefer it. I think the bugs prefer it that way, too. They are out in the world, taking […]

A Letter to Myself: Summer is Survivable

A letter to myself, to be read in spring of 2017, when it starts getting hot again. Dear Helen: I know. The weather report is scary. It’s going to be in the 80s this week. Could be 85 by Friday. It means the worst: Summer. Is. Coming. Yeah, I know. Summer is the worst. Washington, […]