Blog

I’m jammin’!

Last summer, we had just moved to our village along the Avon River in England. It was the season of fetes and festivals and we were determined to go to every one! I learned to throw a mean wellie boot, played the human fruit machine, and put my money down on what was surely the winning yellow rubber duckie as it floated down the river and disappeared over the weir. After munching on a hot dog (which by the way is not a hot dog, but a rather thick sausage - a nice one, mind, not-too-greasy with just the right amount of seasoning) we tried our luck at the Tombola booth. 5 tickets for a £1 - you win if the number...

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Imagery

I have always marveled at how the word imagination takes its origin from the word image. We are visual creatures with, unfortunately, limited eyes. But that hasn’t stopped us from challenging the bounds of human sight with clever and imaginative ways to extend our vision through imagery. Our best discoveries were made when we could actually “see” something in more detail - the joy of your baby’s first sonogram, a seemingly infinite number of galaxies in the universe, menacing microbes, the structure and subsequent understanding of how DNA replicates, the awful pain of war, stress cracks...

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Discovery of Oxygen

I am fortunate to live in the West Country of England – surrounded by places of history and great discoveries! Not far, in a town called Calne, is a house where the element Oxygen was first isolated. Any scientist will tell you, research takes money – lots of it! So it seems to study the discovery of oxygen, one must begin by following the money trail. That starts with the son of a clothier, William Petty. Petty’s resume is quite remarkable for a lad of such humble beginnings. Vast fortunes were made during the 17th century and Sir William Petty, who lived from 1623-1687, found...

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Decisions During War

In the previous post, I presented four true situations faced by everyday people caught up in extraordinary times. In this post, I would would like to include more information about those situations. #1 Lasting from 1939 until 1945, the fight for the North Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of World War II. It was a 'tonnage war' involving blockades and counter blockades. Being an island nation, Great Britain needed more than a million tons of supplies per week to stay alive and to keep fighting. Convoys from North America were lifelines to the European allies. Cut that lifeline...

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What would you have done?

  It was different when I heard those old World War II stories while living in the United States. When I wondered what I would have done if faced with similar choices, distance and ignorance kept me from forming a thoughtful and empathetic anwser. But now, I live in the U.K. and have had the privilege of hearing first-hand accounts from characters who lived through those challenging years. Sadly, some have already passed on. The remaining few seem anxious to tell their tales. I thank them for trusting me with their stories and hope, one day, I will honor them by sharing their incredible...

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See the U.S.A. !!!!

I never know how to answer the inevitable question, "Where are you from?" If I have uttered a single word before that inquiry, the country of my origin must surely be evident. I guess I could be Canadian, but let's assume the inquirer knows I'm American by the accent I cannot and don't wish to disguise. So then, what exactly are they asking me? I left my home state of Pennsylvania for wild and wonderful West Virginia before heading to Kentucky, back to Pennsylvania, onto Africa, to England, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia again, Massachusetts, and finally back to Virginia before...

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Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right!

My husband and I went shopping for a larger kitchen table. We found one that seemed to fit our needs - an extension table made from certified sustainable white oak from America that was shipped to Malaysia to be turned into a table that was for sale in an English shop for 600 Pounds. There was something terribly wrong with that. Like the characters in TAKEN ABACK, British men and women sacrificed, struggled, and died to maintain an empire that stretched across the globe so that they might relieve the occupied lands of their finest and most coveted resources - spices and gems, lumber and dyes,...

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Whatever happened to . . .

In Taken Aback, Dr. Hans Sloane is a novice physician in his mid-twenties. Just four years after completing his degree at the University of Orange, he became a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1687 and in that same year accepted the position of personal physician to the Duke of Albemarle, the new governor of Jamaica. The adventure was not only a considerable step-up in his career; it also offered a completely new world from which to collect specimens. An avid amasser of flora, fauna, and oddities of all sorts since childhood, Sloane was in his element. But his adventure in Jamaica lasted...

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The Importance of Preserving Our Past

Towering over the English village of Tysoe are the remains of a windmill. A public footpath alongside a hedgerow trimmed with cow parsley takes me on a cardio-hike to the peak of Windmill Hill to enjoy stunning panoramic views. Just over the crest and tucked neatly into a secluded valley is the grand estate of the Marquess of Northampton, Compton Wynyates, to whom the mill belongs. An Internet search reveals little about the history of the tower mill. An old tapestry shows a windmill once existed on that same site; however, the first recorded note of the surviving structure was 1725. Struck...

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Talk to me, tree! Gypsy Moths in the Shenandoah Valley

Chasing gypsy moths in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is still at the top of my list of fun jobs! The moth is an invasive species whose ravenous larval form marched across the state in a destructive swath of defoliated forests. The caterpillars threatened to destroy valuable veneer-quality trees of the Appalachia Mountains and disrupt the delicate ecology of the headwaters of the Shenandoah River. The State of Virginia and the United States Forest Service hired me and other biologists and foresters to survey the population of the moth, manage affected areas, and share with the community operative...

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