Restorative Lamb Chops For Romantic Poets

So when bloggers who heretofore had been relentlessly consistent -- some might even say unhealthily obsessive -- about posting every week suddenly fall eerily silent for a distinct period of time, it usually means one of three things.

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August 18, 2012 | 5 Comments

Run for your life

Today is the feast day of St. Clare of Assisi. Don't ask me how I know these things. I read a lot of blogs. The internet will teach you all things, if you will let it.

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August 11, 2012 | 2 Comments

If this isn't nice I don't know what is

Been doing an awful lot of gardening lately, followed by an awful lot of twilight wanders through the cool evening air. It's been a banner year for fireflies, and the sight of them flashing and darting amid the undergrowth never fails to make me clap my hands with delight.

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July 1, 2012 | 2 Comments

Happy Tenth, Little House By The Sea

Patience has never really been one of my virtues. I hate waiting. And I especially hate waiting for a gradual thing to come to pass.

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June 10, 2012 | 2 Comments

The Consolation of Wildflowers

It is hard to want to stay indoors and write when outside in my yard it is looking like this...

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May 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

Thomas Say, Noted 19th Century Hottie

I've gone and written another one of my madcap historical essays over on Wonders & Marvels, this time ostensibly on the early American natural scientist Thomas Say and his trip down the Ohio River on the famous "Boatload of Knowledge" to found a utopian settlement with the best scientists of his generation.

Apparently, Say is most well-remembered these days for having a particularly handsome portrait in the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

And while I'm certainly the last person to dispute anyone's right to come at history with an eye toward its more aesthetically pleasing representatives, I'd actually suggest that Thomas Say's story has a fair bit more to recommend it than just a fine pair of eyes.

While Thomas Say's latter-day designation as a 19th century hottie may be what catches the eye, the man's actual career is fascinating enough in its own right. Already a successful and highly respected natural scientist by the age of 25, Say was a founding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He formed lasting friendships with many of the most respected and prolific scientists of the day, each of whom it seems can lay claim to being the "Father of American" this or that. Auspicious company, indeed.

And it was in some of this auspicious company that Say travelled to Indiana in 1826 on the delightfully named "Boatload of Knowledge," a gang of top scientists headed for the utopian community of New Harmony that was then in its heyday of attracting the best minds of the young republic.

The heyday didn't last long, as is so often the way with utopian societies. But Thomas met his future wife, Lucy Sistare, on the Boatload of Knowledge. Lucy was herself a gifted illustrator of the natural sciences, and would in fact go on to be the first woman elected to the Academy of Natural Sciences. Her own thoughts on her husband's relative attractiveness have not been recorded, though perhaps they can be reliably inferred.

The Boatload of Knowledge was actually a fascinating episode in history. I think it has all of the makings of a swashbuckling tale of adventure and romance. These wayfaring scientists were trapped in ice, threatened by attack, locked in endless nights of heated debate, and, in at least one instance, scared out of their daylights by the violence of a midwestern thunderstorm. In between adventures, they played whist.

Also, I've included a picture of Paul Tillich, jumping. Trust me, there's a connection.

Read A Boatload of Knowledge on Wonders & Marvels.


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May 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Brainy is the New Sexy

The second season of Sherlock started airing on PBS tonight, which means that I can expect all of the friends I've been mercilessly hounding to watch that show to start calling me and telling me I was right, it's wonderful, and they should always, always, always listen to what I say.

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May 6, 2012 | 2 Comments

Real Snow, Our Snow

There's a passage in The Great Gatsby that I want to talk to you about.

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April 22, 2012 | 2 Comments


I saw Gatz in New York on Friday. A friend of mine had a spare ticket and she offered it to me, if I would just take the day off from work and get myself from Boston to New York in time for the 3:00 pm curtain.

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April 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Remains of the Day

My monthly column is up at the history blog Wonders and Marvels. This time I'm nattering on in my usual way about Eleanor of Aquitaine and her thickheaded husband Louis. Excerpt below.

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April 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Beth Dunn is the Editor-in-Chief on the HubSpot Product team. Subscribe to get updates by email.

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