baked and wired

Yesterday my sister came over to my mom’s house to pick up some things, and on the way over bought herself and my boyfriend and me some cupcakes from Georgetown’s Baked and Wired. This morning we got around to having them for breakfast. My boyfriend, who usually eats everything in sight, surprised me by stopping at just half a cupcake.

“The days are gone when I could have a sugar bomb for breakfast,” he said. “I used to go into work”–he’s a computer programmer, and he used to work long, hard hours–“and get a couple of pop tarts from the vending machine. I’d have them with a huge mug of coffee with lots of cream and sugar. Then I’d start to work on a big bottle, I’m talking two liters, of Coke. I’d have one or two of those before lunch.”

“It’s incredible that you don’t have diabetes!” I said.

“I know, right? Sometime in my early 30s, I decided that 2-4 liters of sugar soda a day was too much. I switched to Diet Coke. I dropped ten pounds immediately.”

(Starting blogging again.  For now, some shorter posts  with less context to just get something down.)

Daisy and Zingo Closeup

Zingo, left, and Daisy, sensing some snacks headed their way

(Continued from Part 1.  When last we met, my ex-boyfriend had just decided to breed his pair of Salers-Limousin cross cows.)

From the start of the plan to breed Daisy and Zingo, everything that had gone so perfectly—so stereotypically—so far got turned on its head.  Now everything that had been easy was nearly impossible.  Cow intercourse turned out to be beyond the calves.  When Charlie the bull showed up and trundled off his trailer, Zingo, apparently feeling threatened again, charged him and then tried to mount him.  Charlie hung around for a few days with his unwelcoming pasture-mates, and then, evidently sensing that nothing fun was in the offing on John’s place, deciding one evening to go walkabout.  He literally walked through chest-high pagewire fencing, onto the next property, and off into the sunset. Continue Reading »

Daisy on the left and Zingo on the right, looking protective

Daisy on the left; Zingo on the right, looking protective

Much of why I became so interested in the environment—maybe more than half of the reason—was the six years I spent dating a Canadian who had five acres and a yen for homesteading.  John had read an enormous amount about permaculture, peak oil, going back-to-the-land, country living, and on and on.  More than that, he was raised in a rural part of Canada in the 50s, and he grew up with a rake in one hand and a shovel in the other.  He was a natural and skilled gardener, and he had a great touch with animals.  He deserves his own blog post, at the very least, and I hope to tell a little more about what I learned from spending weeks and weeks outside of Kingston, Ontario, in his fine company. Continue Reading »

Panda Twins

My latest internet time-waster is the Atlanta Zoo’s Panda Cam and the accompanying blog posts.  These new twin panda babies, born on July 15, are almost as cute as kittens.  I’m especially enjoying reading the intelligent entries on the panda maternal instincts.  The zoo lets the mother, Lun Lun, care for one twin at a time.  Apparently pandas don’t have the bandwidth to care for two; until recently, one of the twins born in captivity always died.  But the Chengdu (China) zoo pioneered the cub-swapping technique, and Lun Lun seems to not even notice she’s got two different cubs.  The voice-over on a recent video of the two babies added that, “When the cubs are switched, they will spend a short time in the incubator together.  This gives Lun Lun some time to finish her sugar cane and possibly drink some water.”  I’m sure she’d really appreciate a few minutes to take a shower or have a nap, too.


Last year my students and I read one text that we returned to again and again in conversation: William Cronon’s fabulous essay on “The Trouble With Wilderness”.  I’ve written about the essay before and I’m sure I will again.  Its ideas and themes have transformed my work and that of my students.  The essay argues against the  environmental movement’s focus on wilderness areas, because it divides the natural world into small sanctuaries worth saving on the one hand, and everything else, which we feel free to pollute or demolish, on the other. Continue Reading »

Snails congregating on a garden path in Menlo Park, June 2013

Snails congregating on a garden path in Menlo Park, June 2013

Things have been quiet here because I was in away in California for a week visiting my best friend from college.  I’m still recovering from the trip, somehow—it’s been hard to write or really to do much of anything since I got back.  Maybe it’s because of the constant rain in Washington—rain always makes me slow and sleepy—or maybe the time difference threw me off.  I’ve been dragging, which is too bad, because there are a lot of things I want to write about, including the things I saw on my trip. Continue Reading »


A friend of mine uploaded this photo he took of a luna moth to Facebook and gave me permission to use it, along with his original caption, which read

“Dear Mr. Moth: your fantastic leaf-like camouflage works much better if you actually sit on a tree.”

Actias luna

Image credit: Paul Erickson.