Friday, February 26, 2021

It Has a Name!

After I shared my experience with the creepy grocery store robot earlier this week, Carole let me know that it has a name (it's Marty) and then she sent me this article

I thought Marty was just some odd, useless addition to a few grocery stores, but my friends, it's much worse than that! First of all, each robot costs $35,000. According to the Stop and Shop website, there are now more than 300 of the robots in Giant and Stop and Shop stores on the east coast. 

His alleged purpose it to detect hazards and spills. This is the description that Marty wears:

This store is monitored by Marty for your safety. Marty is an autonomous robot that uses image capturing technology to report spills, debris, and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience.

But, Marty doesn't actually clean or vacuum anything himself. When he finds something on the floor, he stops, and announces "caution, hazard detected" in both English and Spanish. I have never witnessed this in person, but I am very tempted to interact with Marty by dropping a celery leaf or stray blueberry on the floor in the produce section. I'm having a hard time believing that they spent $35,000 a piece on something so useless and annoying.

I wonder where they got this dumb idea? (This is from Lost is Space for those of you too young to have seen this fine show in 1965.)

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

This photo isn't related to the poems I chose for today. It's just a picture of what we have a lot of at the moment - snow and deer.

My choice of poetry today is a little different than usual. A week or so ago, Kat posted a link to a Lenten Journey through Poetry. I haven't done anything special for Lent in decades, but this intrigued me. I couldn't ignore poetry and "pathways to collective flourishing", so I signed up and surprised myself. Each day an email with a one word prompt arrives, and we are asked to "Reflect. Meditate. Pay attention. Feel. Then, write three lines of poetry." That is so simple that even I could manage to do it. I have and have enjoyed it immensely. So today I'm sharing two poems that I wrote. They're not great poetry, but I think you can only read so much poetry before you're compelled to write some yourself. I seem to do better with the structure of haiku, so that is what I'm sharing.



Remembering you
in the baking aisle, I cry,
miss you and love you. 

This happened when I was thinking about making my MiL's favorite dessert, cherry cheese pie, in memory of her on her birthday. I was surprised to find tears running down my face while I looked for evaporated milk in the baking aisle. She's been gone for two years now and sometimes missing her catches me unaware. 



No man an island,
We depend on each other.
Wear your damn mask, please. 

(This one is self-explanatory.)


So there you have it, some poems from my own pen (or keyboard). Thanks, Kat, and thanks to Lenten Journey Through Poetry. 

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, and the joy of writing a poem or two of your own as the week winds down. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Another Nervous Breakdown

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with another Nervous Breakdown. I was  talking to Ryan about having completed my 20th Hitchhiker and he said it was funny how he didn't seem to have any Hitchhikers. I reminded him that he did have the John Deere Hitchhiker (ravelry link) I knit for him, but then I started thinking.

Ryan gifted me with two skeins of Spun Right Round Nervous Breakdown and while I was knitting a Hitchhiker with it, I bought the last two skeins I could find, "just in case". They're not very well matched so I will have to alternate, but I think it's time to knit Ryan a Nervous Breakdown of his own.

I was planning a different Hitchhiker but it involves laceweight silk and cashmere yarn, and my patience only extended to winding one skein. It's lovely yarn, but very prone to tangling, at least in my somewhat impatient hands. I managed to get a knot that's barely visible but still bothers me when I think about it. Winding the second skein and starting this project has been put on the back burner until I recharge my patience. Knitting for my kids always takes precedence (even if they didn't actually ask for something knit), so a Nervous Breakdown has been started. 

My reading this week has slowed down a bit, but that's for a good reason. I am currently reading The Tidal Zone, in "real copy" format. I usually listen to audiobooks or read on my Kindle, but this experience has made me realize how rare it is for me to read a "real book". It's a different experience, and I'm enjoying turning down the corners of pages with things I want to return to. My copy is a used one, so I've also been curious about what a previous reader has chosen to underline. I'm about halfway through, and wanting both to ignore everything around me and keep reading to see what happens, and read slowly and savor. Luckily, I've got more Sarah Moss books piled up and ready to read when I finish this one.

What are you making and reading and savoring this week?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Hark! A Harbinger!

I should tell you that these are not my photos (my SiL took them) but since she lives in northern PA (only four hours away from NJ), I'm choosing to see them as a harbinger of spring. 

I haven't seen any robins here (yet), but I am holding out hope that it will stop snowing someday, warm up a little, and we'll all have loads of robins heralding spring.

And speaking of spring, next Tuesday is March 2, the day we will discussing the latest Read With Us book, Leave the World Behind.
  • Carole, Kym, and I will each post a different discussion question on our blogs on Tuesday, March 2. Please feel free to post your thoughts about the book by commenting.
  • Later that same evening, we'll be hosting a Zoom meet-up at 7:00 pm eastern standard time to discuss the book live and in person.  If you would like to join us with a beverage, your knitting, and insights and questions about the book, all you have to do is let us know! Just RSVP by leaving a comment on any of our blogs, or you can send any of us an email. We'll be sending out the Zoom information prior to the meeting, and we'll also be sending out some background information about the book and the author that we hope will deepen our understanding of the book prior to the discussion.
I do hope you'll join us in whatever ways you are able to participate.  We had a lot of fun with our last Read With Us Zoom meeting and I think this book needs to be discussed!

Monday, February 22, 2021

I Didn't Find It At the Grocery Store

My SiL's birthday is this week, so I spent some time wondering what to get her. I wanted it to be somewhat useful, small enough that I could possibly drop it off on her porch or mail it, and something she would enjoy. I finally decided on a gift card from the grocery store she shops at. This is Giant in PA, and even though I shop at the same grocery store in NJ (where it's called Stop and Shop), their gift cards are not interchangeable. This meant I would need to make an hour-long drive to PA, but there was a day last week with no snow, only partial cloudiness, and nothing pressing that I had to do, so I planned my outing. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. Maybe they would have something new and different! Maybe I would have a fun outing! So off I went ...

Over the river,

and through the woods,

to Giant.

They had the same creepy robot that roams my store, and just like at my store, it felt like it was following me. I can't figure out what purpose it is supposed to serve, except maybe to get in the way of customers. It does that well.

I did see an alarmingly large number of Peeps, all different colors and flavors. (Really, Hot Tamales?)

In the end, I got the gift card I went for, some apples, and also found out that the McDonald's next to this Giant grocery store does not have spicy chicken nuggets. Ryan is able to get them in CO, and has been encouraging me to try them, but no luck so far. So despite my hopes, I did not find excitement at the grocery store, although I did have some fun. The bar for fun has been drastically lowered, but I can still seek out those spicy chicken nuggets in MD. Then I'll be having big fun! :-)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

I'll admit that last week's choice of a poem ended up being a little harder to decipher than I had originally thought, so this week there was no complicated overthinking. I picked a poem that simply made me laugh.

by Billy Collins

One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago
as I waited for my eggs and toast,
I opened the Tribune only to discover
that I was the same age as Cheerios.

Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios
for today, the newspaper announced,
was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios
whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.

Already I could hear them whispering
behind my stooped and threadbare back,
Why that dude’s older than Cheerios
the way they used to say

Why that’s as old as the hills,
only the hills are much older than Cheerios
or any American breakfast cereal,
and more noble and enduring are the hills,

I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.

Source: Poetry (September 2012)
You can read more about the poet here

I'm not quite as old as Cheerios (they are 80 this year), but I am older than Count Chocula and Hamburger Helper (both 50 years old) and the same age as Tang (64 this year).  

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, the sunlight illuminating your orange juice, and the power of poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with my most recently completed Hitchhiker, Valentime (ravelry link). It's been grey and dark here, so snow made the most logical backdrop.

It's got 53 teeth and is ~81 inches long, so it's a generous size for wrapping up in.

It's my 20th Hitchhiker (and I'm planning the next one)!

I'm quite happy with the purple stripes and the block of purple at the end. I sewed the purple heart beads I thought I wanted on the ends, but didn't like the look of them at all, so I snipped the threads and quickly removed them. They didn't add anything and I felt like they detracted from the Hitchhiker. 

I always say it, but I think this may be one of my favorites so far. (My Nervous Breakdown Hitchhiker still holds a very special place, and I just bought a couple of gray shirts so I would have something to wear it with.)

While I was wrapped up warmly in my Hitchhiker, I finished listening to Ghost Wall. It's another short novel by Sarah Moss, a new favorite author, and worthy of four stars in my opinion. While I waited quite impatiently for copies of the other Sarah Moss books I had ordered, I started Mockingbird. It's science fiction by Walter Tevis. I rarely read science fiction but I was so taken by The Queen's Gambit (both the Netflix series and the book), that I thought it was worth a gamble (and it's piqued my interest so far). The Tidal Zone finally arrived yesterday, along with Night Waking, so I dropped everything and started The Tidal Zone. Thanks to Valerie's helpful comment last week ("You must read (in this order): Night Waking, Bodies of Light, & Signs for Lost Children. They are sort of an exploration of women entering into formalized medical practice from the late 1800's."), I have three more Sarah Moss books in my reading queue and I'm excited. 

What are you making and reading and excited about this week?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021


 A few weeks ago when I shared my list of what was going on in my life in February, I mentioned that a word had just popped into my head one day while I was meditating, and I was considering using it as my One Little Word this year. I've thought about it and that thinking has led me to decide that I should continue to pursue it.

The word is Well. It probably crept into my mind because I was thinking about drilling a well. The people that bought my father's old house called me with a question about the well because it seemed like it was running dry and they wondered if I knew how deep it was. I couldn't help them, but this did lead to me thinking about the different ways the word is used.

As an adverb, it means to do things thoroughly or in a satisfactory way.

As an adjective, it means to be in good health.

It can be used as an exclamation. (In an effort to curb my swearing I say "Well, crap" a lot!)

There is its usage as a noun, meaning a shaft sunk into the ground to obtain oil, water, or gas. 

And don't forget that well is also a verb, as in "her tears began to well up".

Some of my interest is that the word is used in so many ways. I am also quite fond of Julian of Norwich's well-known prayer  I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing with Well or where it might lead me, but I do hope that by the end of the year I can truly say "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Monday, February 15, 2021


 ... but working on them. 

I'm talking about the Seven Deadly Sins. I was telling John about how envious I am of people that I know who have gotten their two shots of the covid vaccine, and this turned into a conversation about the seven deadly sins. I couldn't name them before I looked them up, but I was a bit surprised to realize that I routinely express at least four of them. 

Envy - is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation. Yup, I've got that. I don't begrudge other people getting the vaccine, nor do I think I should go to the head of the line. I just have a pretty strong desire to be in their situation. 

Gluttony an inordinate desire to consume more than that you require. Sometimes I can be a glutton. It usually has to do with potato chips, cake, or homemade macaroni and cheese. I try to avoid potato chips and and cake, but if the macaroni and cheese is baked and has a delectable crumb layer on top, my gluttony becomes evident.

Lust craving for the pleasures of the body. Nope, I'm good here.

Anger or Wrath - when you spurn love and instead choose fury. Yeah, I think I choose anger too often. It's rarely loud screaming or yelling, but I can simmer quietly for a long time if I perceive an injustice. 

Greed - the desire for material wealth or gain. I don't think I suffer from greed (except maybe where yarn is concerned, and the pandemic is helping me to remedy that). 

Sloth - the avoidance of work. This is another yes. I can do some work quite happily, but when it comes to dusting, mopping, or shoveling, I am quite the sloth. 

Pride - is an excessive belief in one's own abilities. No, if anything I think I tend to doubt my own abilities. 

I didn't realize that there are also seven virtues, which are the opposites of their corresponding sins. I was pleased to find out that in addition to my sinful side, I also practice some measure of gratitude, temperance, chastity, patience, charity, diligence, and humility. 

So I'll focus on less envy and more patience for now. What is your sin of choice?

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Poetry on Thursday


One of my goals or the things I wanted to accomplish in 2021 was to write a note to each of my family members. I've started this and it's taking more time and thought than I might have predicted. Even when I'm not actively writing, I still spend a lot of time thinking about these notes. That's why I chose this poem for today. It's from one of my favorite poets, but despite thinking about it quite a bit, I'm still not entirely clear what it means. I hope it provides food for thought for you. 

Thank-You Note
by Wislawa Szymborska

I owe so much
to those I don’t love.

The relief as I agree
that someone else needs them more.

The happiness that I’m not
the wolf to their sheep.

The peace I feel with them,
the freedom –
love can neither give
nor take that.

I don’t wait for them,
as in window-to-door-and-back.
Almost as patient
as a sundial,
I understand
what love can’t,
and forgive
as love never would.

From a rendezvous to a letter
is just a few days or weeks,
not an eternity.

Trips with them always go smoothly,
concerts are heard,
cathedrals visited,
scenery is seen.

And when seven hills and rivers
come between us,
the hills and rivers
can be found on any map.

They deserve the credit
if I live in three dimensions,
in nonlyrical and nonrhetorical space
with a genuine, shifting horizon.

They themselves don’t realize
how much they hold in their empty hands.

“I don’t owe them a thing,”
would be love’s answer
to this open question.

WisÅ‚awa Szymborska, from A Large Number, 1976, as published in Map: Collected and Last Poems, paperback ed 2016, Mariner Books.

Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, some answers to your own open question, and the power of poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with an almost-completed Hitchhiker. 

I ran out of the main Dream in Color that I was using before the Hitchhiker was big enough to suit me. I rummaged through my stash and came up with some unidentified purple that I think matches fairly well. I started knitting with it, but then decided I didn't like the abrupt change and unraveled almost four inches. I thought about alternating two rows of the Dream in Color and the purple before switching to all purple, and I think I like it. Just a few more teeth to go with the purple, then blocking and sewing on beads, and it will be done. 

I'm excited to have this almost finished and even more excited to wear it.

I also had a pretty good week in reading. I woke up Sunday night and was unable to get back to sleep, so I perused one of my libraries and downloaded an audiobook. I had never heard of it and chose it completely at random, but what a lucky choice I made! Summerwater by Sarah Moss is unlike anything I've read before and it was extraordinary. It was only 4.5 hours long, and I became so engrossed in it that I stayed awake to finish listening. Sure, I was tired, but the reading experience was worth feeling a little sleepy. I immediately downloaded one of the author's other books, Ghost Wall, and searched hither and yon for a copy of another one, The Tidal Zone. I'm happy to say that a physical copy of Tidal Zone is on its way to me from Toledo, Ohio. It can't get here fast enough; hurry up USPS!

Janelle was kind enough to let me know that the author of Owls of the Eastern Ice is giving a talk via zoom. I've been reading the book for a while, but I've gotten a little stalled with it. I miss author talks, and I think hearing Jonathan Slaght speak about Blakiston's Fish Owls and his fieldwork will make this book feel more personal. Another book-related thing I'm excited about!

What are you making and reading and excited about this week?

Monday, February 8, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... is a day to appreciate my sister's photos.

She took these lovely sunrise and sunset photos and I was happy that she shared them. I told her that I thought the snow made them even better by providing contrast, but she wasn't buying it. Maybe because she had had to clear their driveway herself (because her husband was out for 39 hours plowing).

Speaking of snow, we got more on Sunday.

And there is quite a bit more predicted later this week - tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday. Oh, goody!

I hope your Monday is off to a good start, with a rosy sunrise, and no snow in the forecast!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

I have a friend whose mother recently died from coronavirus, so I've been thinking about her and the pandemic a lot. When we talked she said that her mother's death seemed to have an extra layer of sadness because she had an appointment for her first vaccine shot on February 18th. That frame of mind is why I chose this poem for today. Hope is a very good thing and something we all need to work to maintain, but it's equally important to acknowledge the grief, sadness. and loss and remember those who are gone.

When people say, "we have made it through worse before"
by Clint Smith

all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who

did not live to watch the parade roll down the street.
I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms
meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to

convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no
solace in rearranging language to make a different word
tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe

does not bend in a direction that will comfort us.
Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect & there are
people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader,

do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future
to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not
live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies

that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left
standing after the war has ended. Some of us have
become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.

You can read more about the author here.
Clint Smith is much more than a poet; you can view his TED talks here.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, and the power of poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, trying to figure out a new way to show you the same old Hitchhiker.

There are now 48 teeth.

The ball of yarn is getting much smaller.

I found some purple heart beads that I'm kind of excited about and may sew on the ends. 
All incentives to keep going and get this thing finished! 

When I was without a laptop last week and therefore not wasting too much time on line, I finished three books. Transcendent Kingdom, The Falcon Thief, and The Midnight Library were all four stars for me. I'm still reading Owls of The Eastern Ice but it's slow going. I love reading a little bit about the two and a half foot tall Blakiston's Fish Owl, but a whole book about this rare and hard to find bird might be too much. So, of course, I started Perestroika in Paris. So far, so good! 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Too Much


Last week I had a post titled "Not Enough"; this week it's "Too Much". Ah, for that Goldilocks place of just right!

I've just gotten in from three hours of shoveling on this second day of the storm and decided to give my back and shoulders a break before I head out again. 

Portrait of a slightly disgruntled shoveler - turtleneck and alpaca headband for warmth, down vest for ease of movement and throwing snow, fleece pants and knee-high muck boots because that's what all the cool shovelers wear, and snow-proof gloves because that's what all the smart shovelers wear.

The pictures don't really show it well, but there are 20" on the ground and it's still snowing. I hope your own snow-clearing efforts are going well, and if you don't have snow where you are, that's even better! 

P.S. A note to myself: Next time you buy a house, make sure to get one with a much shorter driveway. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Right Now - February 2021

It's February first and the perfect day to return to posting. I've missed all of you! Today I've got some random things that are going on Right Now. 

I'm Amazed - At how easily I was able to resolve my dead wireless card problem. I ordered a new laptop (mine was 10 years old), it was delivered the next day, and it only took me a couple of hours to set it up. It took me a lot more time to re-enter all the saved passwords for websites that I use on a regular basis, but I think I've got the important ones covered so I can pay bills, peruse goodreads, and read your blogs. 

Reading - The Falcon Thief, The Midnight Library, and Transcendent Kingdom. It was amazing to me how much reading time I had when I wasn't wasting time on the internet. 

Knitting - My Valentime Hitchhiker (ravelry link). I've knit quite a bit on it while I wasn't wasting time but it's reached that sloggy stage where I want to use up as much of the yarn as possible but I'm wondering if there will be an end in sight. I'm making it with a 600 yard skein of Dream In Color Smooshy, so it may be a little while. 

Avoiding - Thinking about all the snow that is predicted today and tomorrow. We're supposed to get 11-14 14-20 inches in NJ. (The snow total seems to increase every time I look at the weather forecast!) It is winter so snow is not unexpected, just not very welcome. Justin is here in NJ but had to go into work very early this morning to plow. John and I decided to stay in NJ as there will be much more snow to clear here than in MD. MD can wait until next week. 

Making - Crockpot chili, which we ate with Fritos and shredded cheese. This was new to me, but was my loose interpretation of Frito Pie and it was delicious. I've been talking about making jelly donuts for awhile, so this snowy week may be the perfect time. If I'm using calories shoveling, I deserve a donut (or two) 

Enjoying - The tea that finally arrived from Plum Deluxe. Sarah convinced me with her post and I'm glad she did. It took quite a while to arrive, but that was due to the USPS shuttling it around the country. My tea has traveled far more than I have in the past year! I ordered several varieties and they are all delicious. 

Considering - One Little Word that just popped into my head one day while I was meditating. I wasn't going to choose a word this year, but I can't seem to stop thinking about it and the many ways it fits into my life. More to come ...

Looking Forward To - Getting a covid vaccine and feeling safer about maybe traveling to see Ryan. I know I say this a lot, but my heart aches to see him after 15 months and my arms ache to give him a huge hug.

Hoping - That Joe Biden is successful at increasing the vaccine supply and states can deliver the vaccine in a more timely manner.

Smiling - At these pictures of Justin and Ryan. I haven't yet loaded any new pictures to the laptop, so you get these pictures of my boys that I had saved on a hard drive. Who wouldn't want to hug these cute kids?!

What's going on in your world right now?