Category Archives: History

The Comfrey Mocks Me

ImageThis morning I went out to the garden, coffee in hand, and was reminded for the umpteenth time that we really need to hack back the comfrey and throw it in the compost before it smothers the strawberry patch. It’s even turned up in the front yard and along the driveway fence; whether seed blew over or it tunneled underneath isn’t clear. Incredulous as it sounds, the latter wouldn’t surprise me. But instead of grabbing the shears, I went back inside…again. Don’t get me wrong, comfrey is a wonderfully important plant if you’re trying to recycle nutrients in your garden, but calling it an ambitious is putting it mildly. Only the raspberries and the mint are comparable opportunists.


The comfrey somewhere it shouldn’t be.

So it seems fitting that later this morning I stumbled across an article on prickly comfrey in an 1875 issue of Canada Farmer, chiding me for my laziness. We have the regular comfrey, rather than the prickly sort they describe (thank goodness), but their wisdom still holds:

“The advantages which are claimed for it over other plants are these:–It affords a cutting earlier, and lasts longer than almost any other. If cultivated upon a good deep soil, it will yield a heavier crop than any other plant; and, when once planted, it will last for ever.

It sure does.

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Filed under Dans Ontario, History, On Agriculture & the Environment

Shit Dead White Dudes Say…about Dairy

A few folks have mentioned that my occasional Facebook dissertation updates are amusing, though I suspect the amusement is partially at my own expense.  Nevertheless, I thought it fitting to start a series of short posts about stuff I come across.  Enjoy. Continue reading

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November 18, 2013 · 6:17 pm

Shame on the Anti-feminists

White Ribbon

Lately I’ve noticed numerous anecdotal signs of an anti-feminist groundswell: friends announcing on Facebook that they’re ‘over’ feminism (post-feminists, some would say), and a proliferation of signs on Hamilton telephone poles decrying the supposedly feminist-led assault on men’s rights.  (I’m working up the energy to eventually tackle a post on the men’s rights movement, but today is not that day.) Continue reading

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Filed under History, On Human Connections, Politicking

Brief Thoughts on Five Days in Boston

DSC_0125For a historian, a trip to Boston is pretty cool.*  I did a little bit of work while I was there, followed by a lot of walking, a lot of eating, a lot of drinking local beer, a lot of reading small plaques on old buildings that celebrate (mostly) rich white dudes who did stuff (and usually not in the best interests of other non-rich, non-white, non-male people), and admiring those buildings even though it made me feel a little guilty.  We–my boyfriend and I–did a lot of chatting, too, which reached the level of slightly inebriated, semi-philosophical debate about History at McGreevy’s Bar in Back Bay.
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Doing Away with Double Blind

Warning: academic rant.

Having taken a solid month six weeks seven weeks off after comps to ‘unwind’ (i.e. do everything I put off for 8 months), I’ve returned to my academic work.  One of my fall projects is to revise and submit for publication two papers I’ve been working on for a while.

Once submitted to academic journals, both of these papers will undergo a process known as peer review, which means that they will be judged by a couple of readers (experts in one’s field) who suggest to the journal whether or not they think the article should ultimately be published. In general this process is  double-blind, meaning I will not know who reviewed it, nor will the readers know whose work they are reviewing. Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, History, On Human Connections, Politicking

The history of science, eureka! moments, and the apple that (maybe) fell on Newton’s head

Photo Credit: beautifulcataya via Flickr

Really this time, I mean it: I will post more often.  I’m running out of excuses, since my comps exams ended two weeks ago.  Since then I’ve been busy with welcome week events at the university, but I’m also in a bit of a haze.  What does one do with themselves after comps?

One teaches!   Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, Food and Cooking, History, On Agriculture & the Environment

A ‘Stampede’ of Cows and Thoughts that Tumble, Stumble

I don’t know if I can express to you just how apropos it was to see this video pop up as the latest post on City Farmer News, which is currently set as my browser homepage.  I was procrastinating checking my email, you see, between paragraphs of the paper I’m writing as part of my comprehensive exam requirements.  It’s meant to be an exhaustive rigorous literature search on a particular topic that is relevant to one’s currently-ephemeral dissertation.  I’m writing on animals.   Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, History, On Agriculture & the Environment, On Human Connections

Running Thoughts: the Sourdough Edition

Photo courtesy of Francis Storr via

I would call this post ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,’ but Haruki Murakami already wrote that book and if you’ve read anything by him at all you’ll know mere mortals hardly compare.  Yet I do think about things while running, thank goodness, because otherwise laziness would surely prevail.  The meditative place some runners can reach eludes me.  Continue reading


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True to my word, I’ve had little to no time to write since I got back.  That a month’s transpired so quickly seems like a sneaky temporal trick on somebody’s part.

I feel like I could get on my lovely little motorbike (although the term causes some consternation here) and take all the right turns until I find myself somewhere near Hoàng Hoa Thám, or Đội Cấn, or following the edge of West Lake.  But I’ll just end up where I started.  Continue reading

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Filed under Academia, Dans Ontario, History

Phnom Penh

August 5th – 8th

I spent three nights in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, a city of marvelous architecture and lovely food and the haunting memories of the Khmer Rouge.  I stayed with a young woman named Liz, a teacher and radical environmentalist from Ohio.  I slept on the hard wooden couch in her bedroom, the only other room in the apartment being the kitchen.  The generosity of couchsurfers never ceases to amaze me. Continue reading

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Filed under History, On Human Connections, Travel