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May 19-25 

chicks, basil and a dream of lost teeth

click to enlarge baby chicks
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May 19. Anyone who has raised baby chicks knows that, at the slightest touch, they let out a little squawk. Each chick's squawk comes at a different pitch, and while it may be tempting to line them up and play them like a xylophone, this will soon tire the chicks and equip them no useful skills for their future.

May 20. A team of scientists is studying the scientific basis for the use of traditional medicinal plants on the theory that 100,000 years of human experimentation must have turned up something of value. In fact, the mildly toxic yellow-flowering herb tansy contains antioxidant compounds that may be useful in the treatment of herpes.

May 21. Arrival, in 1927, of Charles Lindbergh's plane Spirit of St. Louis just outside Paris.

May 22. The notion of a registry listing hotels infested with bed bugs is ludicrous. Bed bugs are perfectly capable of going down the street; they travel between buildings through ductwork and generally make themselves at home wherever they please. A registry tracking hotels where houseflies have been seen would be just as useful, which is to say, not at all.

May 23. Although basil is a close relative of mint, it is not nearly so easy to grow. It simply demands a hot, fairly dry climate, which is impossible to simulate in these parts. Impatient cooks with little interest in coddling herbs prefer to buy a sturdy, four-inch pot with good growth, upend it from its plastic pot, and drop it into a jar on the sunniest windowsill possible. It will grow reasonably well in water as long as the water is changed regularly, and when it fails, it is not difficult to replace. Even a cutting of basil will root in water the way ivy does.

May 24. A dream about teeth falling out of the mouth could indicate that the dreamer has been caught telling a lie. Consider it a warning to cover one's tracks.

May 25. Haley's comet was recorded by a Chinese observer on this day in 240 BC.

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Amy Stewart

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