A celebration of the little girls who shook up hundreds of years of card game history.

Photo by Rachel Coyne on Unsplash

When my daughter went to summer camp for the first time, an older kid taught her how to tie her shoes. The next week she learned to whistle. Over her first summer, she also learned how to change into her bathing suit in a port-a-potty, and how to eat a peanut butter sandwich at the beach without getting a mouthful of sand.

As a teacher, I am used to a world of order and structure, so to me, summer camp seems like a madhouse free-for-all. The teenagers are in charge, and the whole scene is powered by sunscreen and popsicles…


Why, yes, I do have a stray placenta in my freezer. Don’t you?

Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

Placenta One

The first time I saw a placenta, I was about three years old. It was on the ground in a field and a cow was eating it. It was a red, gelatinous mass and the cow was lapping at it like a kid licks frosting off a birthday cake.

When you grow up on a farm, you experience the big life events, like birth, sex, and death differently than other people. I used to go to the slaughterhouse with my mom and color on the butcher paper with crayons while she wrapped our steaks and roasts. …


Hypothetically speaking…sort of.

Photo by Flavius Les on Unsplash

Sometimes, choosing who you’re going to have sex with can be tricky. But at least today, in 2021, we’re pretty much limited to having sex with other people — other Homo sapiens.

Today I was talking — over Zoom — to my high school biology students about evolution and our early human ancestors. Teaching remotely can be pretty dry, so I’m always looking for ways to engage them.

After we watched a youtube video about how many humans today, especially those of European and Asian descent have Neanderthal DNA, one student piped up and told me that…


Even the toughest helmet can’t protect you from everything.

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

If cities are made of blocks, suburbs are made of loops. The house I live in with my husband and our kids is at the end of a cul-de-sac that connects to a half-mile loop of pavement. In the decade we’ve lived here, we’ve covered the loop thousands of times.

At first, it was just with our dog for daily walks. Then our daughter was born we graduated to a stroller and then a red Radio Flyer wagon. …


This Is Us

Social distance means we can no longer create shared memories by smelling the world — and each other

Photo: WIN-Initiative/Neleman/Getty Images

What’s the worst smell you can think of? Skunk? Brussels sprouts? Sour milk?

For me, it was a mixture of Coca-Cola, coffee, Gatorade, and rotting bones. The smell was so pungent it clung to my hair and clothes for hours after the air had cleared. I was a student teacher in a regional high school in Vermont, and I had asked my students to do an experiment on bone density. They each chose a liquid to soak a chicken bone in for a week.

I knew the acidic liquids would leach the calcium out of the bones and make them…


Because I wish someone had warned me.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

If you ever need hand surgery, you should try to get it done in Japan.

At least that’s what the hand surgeon at Mass General Hospital told us right before he spent 10 hours trying to reattach my husband’s severed left index finger.

The surgeon’s tone was cheerful and matter-of-fact as he talked with us. We were sitting on a cot in the emergency room on a Friday night. Jared had been working on a project at our house when his hand got sucked into the blade of a table saw by a…


Sometimes you just need some hot, soapy water.

Photo by Edwin Rucci on Unsplash

This was the job: Find a field of sleeping cows. Duck under the electric fence. Tiptoe towards the cows. Whoop and holler to startle them. More often than not, startled cows poop. Choose a cow, sidle up to her behind and catch the poop in a bucket before it hit the ground.

Repeat.

You might be wondering if I was any good at it. The answer is yes. I was great at it.

More likely though, you’re wondering this: why?!?

The short answer is simple. I was a college student and I…


Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash

By the time I was born, my grandparents were already old. They still lived on a big farm, where my grandfather milked cows and my grandmother baked pies. I always knew they were once young, but to me, their identity was firmly planted in my mind as lovely, kind old people.

They’re both dead now, but it’s still easy for me to conjure up a picture of my grandmother pulling up her knee-high stockings and applying dusky rose-colored lipstick and my grandfather wearing green Dickies pants and a white Hanes t-shirt.

Last Memorial Day, I finally took a trip with…


No, it’s not that they can both smell up the house for days…

Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

You probably know that a Golden Retriever, like a Chihuahua or a Shitzu, is a breed of dog. All dogs are the same species, Canis familiaris, which means they can all reproduce with each other.

The fantastic array of dog breeds we enjoy today are all the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding. A poodle has sex with a Labrador and boom: Labradoodle. …


Guess how many towels, gummy snacks, and beach chairs she brought?

Photo by Josh Duke on Unsplash

Going to the beach is amazing. But it’s also really strange.

On one hand, it’s cool water, beautiful scenery, and a refreshing breeze. It’s beautiful summer days, long-legged shorebirds, and endless opportunities for day drinking.

On the other hand, going to the beach is weird. First, you take almost all your clothes off in front of strangers, exposing rarely seen areas of flesh to bright, burning sunlight. Then you slather and spray yourself with sunscreen, which should actually just be called what it is — sand adhesive. All for what? …

Emily Kingsley

I like big words and I cannot lie. Small words are ok too.

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