The Cancer Diaries, Part 12

Well, that was easy. Relatively, so. Last Monday I got to remove my catheter all by myself. Not the sort of thing one looks forward to — doing the removing, that is — but I was looking forward to having it gone and able to go back to some normality in my daily life. While I have grown somewhat adept at wearing, caring for, … (more)

The Long Read Lost

“What we read, how we read, and why we read change how we think, changes that are continuing now at a faster pace,” wrote Maryanne Wolf, a neuroscientist, in her book, Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in the Digital World (Harper Paperbacks, 2019). It’s the sequel to her previous book on reading and neuroscience, Proust and the Squid (Harper, 2007). In that latter … (more)

Back to Montaigne

When I find myself in times of trouble, I go back to read Montaigne. Seeking words of wisdom, Read some more… (to the tune of Let It Be, with apologies to the Beatles) I was up late these last few nights reading Michel de Montaigne into the wee, dark hours. Although I used to read him rather frequently and found him an inspiration for … (more)

The Cancer Diaries, Part 11

Anaesthetic must be one of the most remarkable inventions of the 20th century. While various forms of anaesthesia have been used since the ancient Egyptians (with varying degrees of effectiveness), it really wasn’t perfected  until the last century. It’s difficult to imagine the horrors of surgery before it became commonly used and as effective as it is today. Here I was, lying on a … (more)

Bring Back the Salons

Today if someone mentions a “salon” you probably think about a haircut or manicure. But in the 18th century, prior to the French Revolution, salons were the focus of civil debate, intellectual curiosity, and culture. They were  centres of discussion on everything from manners to literature to philosophy to science. And they were run by women. Salons were the bright stars of the Enlightenment; … (more)

The Imperialist Economics of Blueberries

There was a cooler right at the front of the fruit and vegetable section of the local Walmart store packed with clear plastic containers of blueberries. Plump, dark, fresh-looking berries. And value-priced at $2.87 a container. I love blueberries on my morning cereal; these looked inviting, and so inexpensive! Who can resist such a bargain? I put a container in my shopping cart. Only … (more)

The Cancer Diaries, Part 10

My father died of esophageal cancer several years ago. It was a horrible, lingering death, and I watched him shrivel and die, in constant pain towards the end. On one of my last visits to his bedside, he asked me whether I thought it was better to die with the full knowledge of what was happening to you, or to be unaware. It was … (more)

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