Our Time

COVID was declared a pandemic on 3-11-20. Photos and quotes capture the moment

(March 11, 2020) “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock, and we are deeply concerned by alarming levels of severity and inaction. We have made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

— J.R.R. Tolkien

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Photo by Werner Sevenster on Unsplash

Today is Harriet Tubman Day. Who was she and why do we celebrate her?  

Harriet Tubman: Facts, Underground Railroad & Legacy

Harriet Tubman was an escaped enslaved woman who became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, leading enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War, all while carrying a bounty on her head. But she was also a nurse, a Union spy and a women’s suffrage supporter.

When I was young we lived across the street from a mansion. A massive Victorian from the 1870s, it had a wrap-around porch and beautifully kept grounds. Flowers bloomed behind wrought iron fences and mulberries spilled over onto the sidewalk. One Halloween, the woman who owned the house took at look at my ghost and my brother’s Batman and invited us inside. (Don’t worry, this isn’t a scary story.) 

We were greeted by a wide foyer, elegant wooden paneling, high ceilings and chandeliers. Our neighbor gave us a brief tour and then, perhaps looking through our costumes to the skin underneath, said, “Once upon a time, this house was part of the Underground Railroad.”

Based on the age and location of the house I don’t think that’s likely to be true, but I didn’t know that at the time. The story helped bring to life the books I’d read about runaways, slave catchers and the transformation of a young girl with a disability into a savior of her people.

How to Experience the Lasting Legacy of Harriet Tubman

Pressing my hands against the bricks of the home Harriet Tubman built, I closed my eyes and listened to the wind rustling between the leaves of the trees surrounding this place where she lived and worked as a free woman, awaiting a message from the Underground Railroad conductor and Union spy.

She continues to be an inspiration and so to her, to my ancestors and all those who braved so much during that harsh and terrible time: thank you.

“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you… Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

— Harriet Tubman

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Photo of the Harriet Tubman Mural by Kirt Morris on Unsplash

With apologies to turtles. And tortoises. And science.

Today, allow me to refer you to a story from Nature’s Futures, about a put-upon pair of frontline workers and the genetically-modified reptile who captured their hearts.

Clean-up on Planet 9 by Carol Scheina

A giant sea turtle swimming in a building-sized aquarium. Fields of toothy purple flowers. Goddamn dollhouse-sized pine forests. Quite a bit wasn’t the size or shape it was supposed to be.

While I appreciate the author’s discussion of her inspiration for the story, I can’t help but think that it could also be (at least distantly) related to the mysterious origins of the dimension-hopping tortoise* in my own story, “The T-4200.”

Sadly, “The T-4200” is not currently available online, but this story inspired me to send it off to a reprint market. Fingers crossed!

* I know, while a turtle and a tortoise are both members of the Testudine family of reptiles, they are not the same. Still (and with apologies to all right-thinking scientists out there), the story already adds animal-based faster-than-light travel, so I’m just going to go with it.

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Photo by Josh Miller on Unsplash

“The chief obstacle to a woman’s success is that she can never have a wife.”

— Anna Lea Merritt (19th Century Artist), Lipincott’s Magazine (thankfully, this is no longer true everywhere)

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The path to success has always been difficult for many artists, and much more so for women. Given that it is International Women’s Day and I am from Pennsylvania, I thought I’d share the story of one group of women who looked at the crappy hand they’d been dealt and said, “Thanks, but we’ll find a better way.”

This is the story of the talented Victorian girl gang known as The Red Rose Girls.

Clubhouse Goals with the Red Rose Girls

While renting out the Red Rose Inn in Philadelphia, they lived on their own terms exploring the benefits [of] a communal all-female household. And at a time when women were barely even permitted to attend art school, they enriched each others careers and thrived together as self-sufficient artists.

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Photo by Heidi Kaden on Unsplash

Looking Ahead

It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.

— Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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Photo by Frederick Marschall on Unsplash

Fueled and Ready

Whoever came up with the idea to limit my daily cookie intake was sorely mistaken.*


* Ok fine, it was me.

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Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

Short on time but still want to explore the wonders of the universe? Check out Dust, an outlet for short sci-fi videos:

The YouTube Channel Sci-Fi Fans Need To Watch – CNET

…Dust’s absolutely balling YouTube channel, which functions as a receptacle for hundreds upon hundreds of sci-fi shorts with surprisingly high production values. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and you have around 15 minutes to kill, I 100% recommend hopping onto Dust and hitting play on pretty much anything. … As a spot for aspiring filmmakers to show off their talents, Dust’s videos mostly feature high-concept sci-fi – sort of like a post-modern Twilight Zone for zoomers. Almost all have surprisingly good special effects, decent acting performances and – above all – come bursting with grand ideas.

Have fun out there!

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Photo by Alex Shuper on Unsplash


It’s Saturday and we woke to a world of deep, quiet snow. It took me back to childhood and to one book in particular, Ezra Jack Keats’s award-winning classic, The Snowy Day. Here it is, presented with animation and narration: 

Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.

– Sarah Addison Allen, “The Sugar Queen”

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Photo by Ravi Patel on Unsplash

Learned Something

And now, back to my taxes.

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Photo by Nick Moore on Unsplash

To follow up yesterday’s post about Writers of the Future Volume 39, here is the newly released book trailer complete with cover reveal and animated flaming dragon. 

I have to admit, this cover looks pretty great. And who wouldn’t want a flaming dragon? We all need a way to roast our marshmallows, am I right?

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Photo by Dan Smedley on Unsplash