Astonished Barb Blog

Back Then, We Had Stubbed Toes

Letter to my boyfriend after my junior year of college. I had just returned to California for the summer from Pennsylvania by Greyhound bus, May 29, 1977. My kids don’t know what a stubbed toe, a stubbed heel, or a scraped knee is, really. They understand the concept, but they aren’t even sure how you’d... Continue Reading →

The Perfect Throw

I’m in position. I’ve rocked forward, left leg in front, body planted on the right. Now I’m rocking back. My left knee rises, my right should cocks back, my elbow, and then my right hand follows. Now I explode like a spring, hurling every joule of available energy—from my leg, torso, shoulder, biceps, forearm, wrist,... Continue Reading →

How I Handled Working with Poison Oak

When I chose to study the ecology of western poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, also known as Rhus diversiloba), I knew I would have to learn how to minimize the risk of “getting poison oak” and of causing other people to get it (11, 12, 13, 14). Here I describe the nature and seriousness of the... Continue Reading →

Let’s Hear it for Being Ludic

ludic (adjective): (Of play) spontaneous and without purpose; (of behavior) undirected and spontaneously playful. I need the occasional ludic break to get through the day. Ludic is running through the park with a young son. Ludic is playing tug-of-war with the dog. Ludic is arranging blueberries on the rim of my plate; it’s humming or... Continue Reading →

Spring Breaks Through

Great glory, wonderful day! I’m astonished how good it feels when the sun finally shines, when grasses show as mounds in unmown lawns, and cherry petals start to grace the ground, reminding me to look up. Dogs walk faster, squirrels linger with more derring-do, college kids talk louder as their masses move up sidewalks.  At... Continue Reading →

But Vacation Means Missing My Dog

We’ve been on vacation in Hawai’i for two weeks, and in spite of wondrous experiences, I miss my dog. Birds and flowers are impossibly red. Fish, which slosh back and forth in my mind even when I close my eyes, look to be designed by children with fabric scraps and no instruction on practicality. With... Continue Reading →

Seven Great Things about NORGs

1. NORGs are well-meaning. Nice Old Retired Guys gave me lots of advice. I was NORGed for all of the nineteen years when I was the only female faculty member in my department, which shows that NORGs don’t actually target young faculty, just faculty who were younger than them. If I closed my door so... Continue Reading →

Pests, Poison, and the Potato Patch

We got a hollow potato from the garden this afternoon.  We’re pretty continuously reminded that we’re the guests out at our cabin.  Bushy-tailed woodrats defy our live traps, but skitter in parts of the roof that shouldn’t exist (if we understand the construction).  Mice leave droppings like the frost fairies left ice trails in Fantasia--and... Continue Reading →

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