DJ Marcussen, Writer Of All Things Light


My husband has a serious sweet tooth.  The dog is even worse.

It’s not unusual to open Hubby’s car door and find empty cookie cartons or crumpled up sacks from the donut shop, and he frequently brings home tidbits to share with his favorite buddy, our dog Sylvester.

So I wasn’t surprised when he came home one day with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bag of donuts in the other.  It was a nice day so we decided to sit out under the carport and enjoy the weather while Sylvester and his “dad” had their snack.

Let me just interject right here and say that Sylvester could probably recognize a donut bag from blocks away and goes spastic whenever he sees one.  In his world, there’s not a table scrap or doggie treat that can hold a candle to a donut.  Plain cake donuts are his favorite, but I’ve never seen him turn up his nose at a coffee roll either.

I hooked Sylvester up to his leash and headed outside, where we waited (Syl, not so patiently) for Hubby to finish doing whatever it is people do inside when they first return home from work.

Unbeknownst to me, Hubby had set the donut sack on top of the wood pile before he went inside.  Sylvester, however, was fully aware of its location and made a sudden dive toward it, half dragging me with him.

Next thing you know there was an overturned donut sack tottering precariously on top of a wooden log and two glazed French crullers scattered on the concrete.

Hubby opened the door to see me several feet away, struggling with Sylvester, who was jumping, twisting, and turning in a desperate attempt to escape my grasp, his eyes never leaving the crullers.  The dog was moaning and whining so loudly you could hardly hear me yelling at him.

Sylvester is a hundred pound dog and incredibly strong, so the fact that I had pulled him back from the sack attack was pretty incredible and exhibited lightning fast reflexes on my part, I thought.  Still, inch by inch, he was gaining ground toward the donuts and taking me with him.

“Oh… let him have them,” said Hubby.

Gratefully, I relaxed my grip and Sylvester rushed to the crullers and gobbled them up in seconds.  Hubby took the opportunity to rescue the sack from the wood pile.  “There’s still one left for me,” he said, but Sylvester wasn’t satisfied with that plan.  He wanted that last cruller too, and lunged for the sack, practically knocking Hubby over in the process.  I went back to struggling with the dog and holding him so Hubby could eat his donut.

“Hurry,” I said, panting from the effort.

“I’m eating it as fast as I can,” said Hubby, his mouth full.

Once the last donut was gone and we had shown Sylvester the empty sack, the dog relaxed and both Hubby and I collapsed onto our patio chairs.  We watched Sylvester sniffing around the concrete for any donut crumbs he may have missed.

“You know,” said Hubby sadly.  “He’s really unruly.”

“No kidding.”  I turned accusing eyes toward Hubby.  Sylvester is his dog, after all.  “His donut habit has gotten out of hand.” I added.

We sat there, recovering, each lost in our own thoughts.

The thing is, sugar is a big problem in our home.  BIG.  And while I don’t believe we should let the dog jump us to get it, I can totally relate to his hysteria.  The dog, you see, is only exhibiting behavior on the outside, that I feel on the inside.

He’s not subject to, nor does he understand, any of the social taboo’s against publicly losing control.  Were I to shove my husband – or worse, a stranger in the donut shop – and steal their donuts, I would be subject to social disapproval at least and criminal punishment at most.  Sylvester is not allowed in the donut shop, and the most he’s going to get from us is admonishment (and perhaps his donut privileges cut off).

Hubby eats things like donuts and cookies with no real, immediately negative impact on his health.  Oh sure, he can get sugared up like anyone else, but his pancreas counteracts the rise of sugar in his blood by sending out a surge of the hormone insulin, which quickly acts to shuttle the excess sugar into his cells, thereby removing that excess from his blood and bringing his body back into balance.

Metabolic balance, because that’s what that whole process is.  It’s how your metabolism works, how all the cells of your body get “fed”.

That blood sugar in your cells is the life-giving energy that runs all your bodily functions.  Every brain cell, every skin cell, every nerve cell, every organ cell – it all runs on this metabolic process.  Without it, you would die.

Working just as it should, Hubby’s body naturally balances this process and keeps the level of sugar in his blood at a consistent level, all the time.  If his blood sugar goes up, insulin brings it back down.  If his blood sugar goes low, sugar that his body has stored is released and a different hormone works to bring his blood sugar back up.  He naturally stays within a narrow range without any control on his part.  In fact, it’s practically impossible for him to move outside of that range and stay there.  His body will counteract the imbalance and bring it back to the status quo.

This is why I don’t get on his case about his sweet tooth.  If he can eat it, who am I to say he shouldn’t?

I, on the other hand, have insulin resistant diabetes.  What insulin my pancreas still produces (or any insulin that I take in through prescription) just doesn’t do its jobMy cells don’t co-operate.  They don’t recognize the insulin and fight hard to prevent it access.  As a result, if I eat a donut, my blood sugar rises – and stays there – wrecking havoc with my metabolism and causing all kinds of negative health issues.

By the way, you may hear blood sugar referred to as “blood glucose”.  It’s means the same thing, the terms are interchangeable.

Since this is our metabolism we’re talking about, people with insulin resistant diabetes have cells that are not being fed.  It may look like they are overfed, but in fact, their cells are not getting enough of the blood sugar to function properly.  It’s being stored as fat instead.  This is why they develop so many diabetic complications, because their organs, nerves, etc., are slowly starving to death, malfunctioning, and dying off.

This is the very basics of Type 2 diabetes.  And that is what it looks like.

As would be expected, when your cells aren’t getting what they need, they start to complain.  Loudly.  Which is where the sugar and carbohydrate cravings come in.  Since carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in your body, a piece of bread will cause your blood sugar to rise just as easily as a pure cube of sugar.

There are times when I feel like every cell in my body is screaming so loud for carbohydrates that I can hardly stand it.  In fact, sometimes I just can’t.  The cravings I experience are so intense they just about drive me out of my mind.  It doesn’t matter if I’ve just eaten, or whether I’m hungry or not.

It’s a matter of need.  My blood may be sweeter than a baby’s toothy grin, but my cells don’t know it.  They’re not getting any of the benefit.

I realize my husband gets cravings for those doughy, carbohydrate and sugar loaded treats, as anyone does.  After all, everyone loves sugar.  And – intellectually at least – he accepts that my cravings are probably more intense than his, and he’s considerate about it.  On those days when I struggle more than others, he makes it a point not to eat sweets in front of me.

Still, I wonder if he knows how much I sometimes want to act like Sylvester and shove him out of the way, grab his donut sack, scarf down the French crullers and hunt for crumbs afterwards.

But the dog?  I feel a kind of ‘sugar kinship’ with the dog.

So after we sit there in our patio chairs for a while, and Hubby momentarily disappears inside the house for a coffee refill, I tell Sylvester what I’m thinking.

I tell him I get it, his instinctive need for sugar overcame his senses and he’s not to blame for entering a period of temporary insanity.

He gazes at me with his Mississippi mud colored eyes and listens intently and I realize the depth of our understanding.  At that moment we both know that – if push came to shove – he’d sell me out for another donut.


The info in this article on tick borne illness is an example of how little we really know about the diseases that affect us and where they originate from. More and more, we are discovering that the ailments that affect us today have their seeds in our evolution.



CORVALLIS, Ore. – Lyme disease is a stealthy, often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized about 40 years ago, but new discoveries of ticks fossilized in amber show that the bacteria which cause it may have been lurking around for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth.

The findings were made by researchers from Oregon State University, who studied 15-20 million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic that offer the oldest fossil evidence ever found of Borrelia, a type of spirochete-like bacteria that to this day causes Lyme disease. They were published in the journal Historical Biology.

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Hardly news that the “sunshine” vitamin and diabetes are related. Still, sharing the article as it’s interesting reading.


Low vitamin D levels may contribute to development of Type 2 diabetes.

via Low vitamin D levels may contribute to development of Type 2 diabetes.

The moon is a messy place. If you’re old enough to remember Apollo 11, then you may remember how blowing dust from the spacecraft rockets made landing difficult, or how instruments and experiments were impeded by the clogging dust. It made the spacecraft ladder slippery and covered the astronaut’s suits. Dust on the moon, it turns out, is not the same as the soft dust bunnies on Earth. It’s sharp and scratchy, very fine, like pulverized shards of glass. (Ouch. Good thing our astronauts weren’t barefoot!)

The latest news is that the dust on the moon accumulates much faster than scientists originally thought. Scientists from the University of Western Australia have gathered and analyzed data from the Apollo missions, information that is up to 40 plus years old, in order to measure the moon’s natural accumulation rate of dust. They determined this using the light from the sun.

A device left on the moon by the Apollo 11 crew, and subsequent missions, was a matchbox-sized contraption that held three solar cells on its surface, each layered with a different level of radiation shielding. (Danger of radiation damage could destroy solar cells, which are an important power source for exploration missions.)

Electrical measurements from the solar cells show a voltage drop as dust granules block the sunlight from coming in, allowing calculations on how fast dust accumulates. The difference of radiation shielding on each solar cell enabled them to compare which caused the most damage to the
cells – dust or radiation.

Dust, it turns out, could be a bigger problem for future lunar missions than radiation.

Now, I’m going on record here and saying that I, for one, love the idea of space exploration. I’ve been all for it ever since I read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. But it’s very expensive, and sounds an awful lot like getting your bathroom remodeled… you pay a fortune to have the new flooring put down only to find the subfloor is rotted and the plumbing jimmy-rigged.

In the quest to find more energy resources for our over-populated planet, there are even some who have come up with the idea of putting giant solar panels on the surface of the moon and beaming solar energy back to Earth. The hope is this could supply all our energy needs, eliminating the depletion of our own planets resources.

One such proposal comes from Shimizu, a Japanese engineering firm that is calling their dream “Luna Ring”, so named because the solar panels would circle the moon’s equator. The plan is that weather conditions wouldn’t be a problem for the solar panels, like they are on Earth, and robots could be used to do the work necessary to keep the solar panels operating.

Sounds wonderful. But I can only imagine all the problems – financial, technical, and political. Would the project get started, only to end partway through when political alliances changed and the funding ran out? Would it end up being just one more unfinished development, like an empty office building with plastic sheeting for windows?

But let’s say it could really happen, and we could really muster the money and (deplete more) resources to actually build a solar power plant on the moon. Even though the dust accumulation on the moon is far slower than the dust accumulation on Earth, we wouldn’t be dropping in every month to vacuum, and scientists disagree on whether electrostatic forces just gently move dust around from moon rock to moon rock, or if sweeping storms dust (pun intended) the surface.

And who dusts the robots? Presumably, they would dust each other. From the sounds of it, the most important tool in the robots arsenal would have to be a feather duster. So the whole of our energy needs would rest on the age old problem of whose turn it is to clean.

Plus, will the moon look the same to us? Or will we see a ring around it’s middle? We’ll have all these little robots (classed: female, of course) circling the perimeter of the moon, as we bask in the glow from the ring around it’s middle.

Like a giant golden wedding band.

Takes “romancing under the moon” to a whole new level, doesn’t it guys?

Clocking The Light


Try this: Some night, after most people have retired for the evening, pull all the shades in your house. Turn off all the lights. Shut down all your electronics and cover the glow from your clock. Wait a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to the abrupt change (if necessary) and then look around and see how much light remains in your house. Unless you live in a remote area, I wager you’ll be surprised.

I knew my neighbor across the street kept their front porch light on at night, so I expected my front room to be bathed in bright shadows. What I didn’t expect to find was an intrusion of light from every window in my house, shades down or not. I lifted the blinds and peeked out. Neighbors on all four sides had some form of outside lighting, as did homes down the block. My whole neighborhood was lit up like a giant incandescent bulb and the lights from my small Midwestern town brightened the lower portion of sky.

Somehow, this realization had escaped me for all the sixteen years I had lived here. I was just living the status quo, like everyone else, too wrapped up in my to-do list to notice. Heck, I was probably even awake during most of those hours, burning the midnight electricity.

Now, a recent study released from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has published their finding on a certain immune cell which is affected by daily cycles of light and dark. They hypothesize that being exposed to artificial light during normally dark hours may be linked to immune system disorders and inflammation.

This is hardly news. Disease’s are a result of injury, contagion, or immune dysfunction (such as inflammation) and I’ve seen many such studies of the effects of artificial light on our health, going back decades. A large number of those have been governmental studies, by the NIH. This is old news that few people take seriously, I suspect because (like most scientific studies) they always end with the researchers saying some variation of “such and such cautions that results are inconclusive at this time and requires further study”, or “these findings suggest further study is needed.”

Well, of course it does. Funding must continue, you know. That’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Nonetheless, there have certainly been times scientists have stuck their necks out and made decisive statements that later proved to be false, so their reticence is certainly warranted. Wouldn’t want my career resting on that banana peel!

After a certain point, however, when there’s enough studies pointing in the same direction… it’s time to stop tap dancing and change your shoes!

That’s how it is with light. Every cell in our bodies has a little clock inside. So far, there are several identified genes regulating that clock, one little protein coding gene even aptly named “CLOCK”. For the sake of brevity, what it boils down to is, our cells are programmed to detect light and it’s corresponding dark. CORRESPONDING DARK. This is the basis of our circadian rhythm. Every cell in our body includes light receptors, regulating all our life functions… hormones, proteins, electrical and chemical impulses…. this is real physical stuff, not theory. Every living thing on the planet revolves around the rotation of the earth to the sun. Mating signals, food availability, the not-so-simple act of when a flower blooms, absolutely everything in our world moves according to the cycle of light and dark. We are no exception. Why should the researchers be surprised our immune systems do as well?

Well, first of all, who says they are. The question is, are you?

In The Beginning

Musings on Genesis 1:14-19:

Once, not so long ago, I did a lot of research on why it is that I just can’t sleep well at night. Let me rephrase that…. why I just can’t sleep well period. Night didn’t seem to have anything to do with it.

I tried all the various sleep aid advice. No caffeine, don’t drink after X p.m., don’t eat after X p.m., DO eat after X p.m., supplements, douse the light, shut off the electronics, listen to relaxing music, hypnosis, exercise, meditate, develop a routine…. yadda, yadda, yadda. In the end, I was still sleepless, but a lot more educated about it.

I became obsessed with the whole light issue, and it’s affect on me, you, the plants and animals. It leaked over into my writing life and eventually light became the focus of most of what I write about, sometimes directly, often indirectly, but always there, always reacting with us. (Note I said “reacting”, a reverse action response of stimuli).

Light, and it’s corresponding absence (dark) has a profound effect on all of life. So what happens when day is no longer easily distinguished from night? When you pull all the shades in your house and flip all the switches off at midnight and there is STILL enough light within your home to wander room to room by sight alone?

You learn new words, as I did. Words like “light pollution”, “scotobiology”, “phototropism” and “photoperiodism”. I learned some helpful stuff, but I learned some scary stuff too, about disease caused from too much light, and biological and behavioral changes in plants and animals. And us.

To be clear, I’m not writing this to descry conspiracy theories or pull a red flag and shout warnings from the rooftop. Rather, I’ve developed this blog, and two others, because I want to explore more fully the link between light, dark, and the world around us. And because I think maybe we would all be a little better off if we stepped off the gerbil wheel for a moment and tried to work in conjunction with our planets cycle. At least part of the time.

For the sake of clearly defining my particular interests I have three main topics… 1) Plants and animal life, 2) Science, and 3) Spirituality. I write articles about plants, sci-fi stories, and inspirational fiction. Those three may seem incompatible at first glance, but when you throw light into the equation you see that they are all linked, as are the three blogs I have created to address them. One geared towards plants, one toward science, and one exploring our spirituality.

By way of introduction, this (my first blog entry), is the same on all three blogs. But hereafter, entries will be tailored to meet the specific slant and subject matter of each. Feel free to contact me and leave comments for discussion.

And please…. do come back and travel this journey of light with me. I look forward to meeting you.

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My Scottish garden and further afield.

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