Monday, February 28, 2022

A Sunday Walk

Yesterday we did not have to drive to MD (HOORAY!) so we went for a walk. Justin sent me this picture last week, so we were all excited to head down to his workplace to hunt for shed deer antlers.

It was a nice sunny day, with temperatures in the 40s and a brisk wind. There were five of us, so we walked through fields, over hills and dales, and through woods in a line but with 10 feet or so between us, keeping our eyes peeled for the extremely difficult-to-spot sheds. 

We didn't come home with a big haul, but we did find a few. It took us over three and a half hours to find these few and to be honest, I got tired of looking for antlers and started to look for other things.

There were lots of snowdrops in the woods, 

and since Justin works in Princeton, there are several large Princeton-appropriate buildings.

This sign is also appropriate and makes things pretty clear. 

There is a large pond with loads of honking geese, getting ready to pair off. In my efforts to avoid disturbing the geese too much, I took the long way around the pond and came upon a three-part stone bench. It was very cold and uncomfortable, but each section had an interesting quote engraved on it. This one says "Those who have moved the world have usually followed the will o' the wisp of their own intellectual and spiritual curiosity." (Abraham Flexner, one of the founders of the Institute for Advanced Study)

"All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike and yet it is the most precious thing we have." (Albert Einstein)

"True scholars often work in loneliness, compelled to find reward in the awareness that they have made valuable, even beautiful, contributions to the cumulative structure of human knowledge, whether anyone knows it at the time or not." (George Kennan, international affairs faculty member at IAS) It is also fitting that he was best known as an advocate of a policy of containment of Soviet expansion during the Cold War. 

Looking for shed antlers was a nice reason to get outdoors, enjoy the warming weather and sunshine, and enjoy a respite from the news. George Kennan was also one of a group of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men", who helped to craft institutions and initiatives such as NATO, the World Bank, and the Marshall Plan. I fervently wish and hope that wise men will prevail in Russia and Ukraine. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022


That's how I felt when I found Justin on Google Earth! It's not a great picture - a little blurry and you can't see his face clearly, but I'd recognize him anywhere (even standing behind the leaf sucker truck at work, taking a break from driving).

He wondered if this means he's famous now. Just let me know if you'd like an autograph. (I have some connections.) :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with the same old Hitchhiker in progress. We're heading to MD today for what I hope is the last trip, and this will be the perfect car knitting to mark that momentous occasion. I'm at 52 teeth and am just going to keep going until my yarn runs out. 

I've been listening to audiobooks as I clean out the areas cluttered with too much crap in NJ (kitchen cupboards, linen closets, my clothes, bookshelves, etc...) I've made three trips to Salvation Army and given away things to lots of people, but there is much more to do. This is going to be an ongoing project, and audiobooks make great companions during the process.

The Power of Regret was a four-star book for me. I think the subtitle says a lot: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. I try to make the best decisions I can at the time I'm making them, but in hindsight, there are several that I regret. Daniel Pink advises that looking back at our regrets can bring clarity and help us to make even better decisions and choices in the future (or basically learn from your mistakes).

The Power of Fun was anything but fun to read, and I only gave it two stars. I'm not a big fan of self-help books, but my library has been grouping them under Mental Health Resources. They seem to be much more attractive to me that way, and I think I could use more fun in my life. The author defines fun as playfulness, connection, and flow, and I agree, but I don't think that keeping a fun journal is going to help. Reading this clinical, repetitive book that smacks of privilege and is filled with too many anecdotes is not the way to find fun. 

The Maid features a neurodivergent main character, Molly, who takes pride in being a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. I won't divulge any more about the story as it is a mystery of sorts, but I was disappointed because Molly was written as a caricature and I expect authors to take more care and have more respect for characters on the spectrum. Your mileage may vary, but for me, The Maid was only 1.5 stars.

I didn't even consider reading What Happened to You? initially, because I had the distinct advantage of growing up with two parents that did their best, treated me well, and loved me. And then one day it dawned on me (when I was wondering what might be wrong with someone) that maybe I did need to read this book, to better understand people who may have suffered trauma, abuse, and the effects these might have had upon brain development. This four-star book has changed my thinking so I won't wonder what is wrong with someone but will reframe the question to ask what might have happened to them instead. 

Jane recommended The Lost Garden last week and it sounded just like the type of book I wanted to read. I couldn't find it at any of my libraries, so I bought it for my Kindle and I'm glad I did. It's written by Canadian poet Helen Humphreys and the prose reads like poetry. The story about gardener Gwen Davis leaving London to escape the bombing in 1941 to train girls in Devon how to grow potatoes for the war effort is a lovely one. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


It took me almost three hours on the phone to deal with canceling utilities on the MD house, but I did it! 

I started with Delmarva Power first, mainly because I thought I could cancel our electric service online. I could, right up until the end of the process when I got a message that said due to an upgrade on their website this function was not available. I called the toll-free number as advised by the message and waited on hold for more than 20 minutes. I finally spoke with Alec who took all my information and then told me my service would be discontinued on Monday. I had specified at the beginning of our conversation that I wanted it to be stopped on March 1st, not February 21, so we started all over at the beginning. When I asked for a confirmation number, he gave me his extension and said to call him if there were any problems. I'm not sure how much faith I have that we will still have electricity next week, but I'll just call Alec if there are any issues.

I had thought electric service would be easy to stop, but it took about 45 minutes. I was really dreading calling Comcast because all of my past dealings with them had been a struggle, so I called the Elkton Public Works Dept. next to ask about the water and sewer. The woman was friendly, the process had been started by the title company, and she told me I didn't need to do anything. Great! I excel at doing nothing!

Next, I called Allstate to talk about homeowner's insurance. This woman was angry and yelled at me for even considering canceling insurance. I explained to her that I wanted the cancellation to be effective March 1, and she told me to call back after closing had happened, and not a moment before. Yes, Ma'am!

I couldn't procrastinate any longer and had to suck it up and call Comcast. I ended up being pleasantly surprised after speaking to  Jimmy. There was some initial confusion because we have two different Comcast accounts, one for MD and one for NJ. I kept specifying the one in MD and gave him the address about 15 times, but once Jimmy finally had my life story and understood the situation, things were a little easier. He called me Miss Bonny throughout the conversation, but it was better than talking to a surly grouch. I asked about the possibility of mailing back the TV box and modem, and Jimmy said, "Why sure, Miss Bonny, just drop it off at a UPS Store and they'll pack it and return it to Comcast for free." Thanks, Kim in Oregon for mentioning this possibility!

I feel like my phone calls were successful, but I guess we'll know for sure if we still have electricity next week, the Allstate agent will speak with me when I call her after closing and she lets me cancel our homeowner's insurance, and the UPS store actually takes my Comcast equipment. I especially appreciated the woman at Elkton Public Works and Jimmy at Comcast. If you ever want to speak to someone friendly at Comcast, be sure to ask for Jimmy and tell him Miss Bonny sent you!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Come Along With Me

It's been a while since I took you along on an exciting trip to the grocery store, but I could use some company for this less-than-fun task. Hop in the car and come along with me! 

I'm not sure what is D.I.Y. about pussy willows. Usually, I just put them in a vase and try to plant them outdoors when they grow roots. I haven't had any survive yet.

This display prompted a lightbulb moment for me. Jess (Justin's girlfriend) was telling me that she liked "Velveeta" for breakfast. I asked her again about this and she repeated herself. I didn't want to ask her yet again and risk sounding like an old lady who couldn't hear (even though that's what I was at that moment), so I just nodded and smiled. When I saw all these boxes in the granola bar aisle, it suddenly dawned on me that Jess must have been talking about BelVita. That made a lot more sense and is probably far better than Velveeta for breakfast. 

Anyone for mushroom jerky? None for me, thank you. I've added dried mushrooms to soup and stew, but never eaten them like jerky, even if they were hickory smokehouse flavor.

I do like how I can rely on the grocery store to clue me into upcoming holidays.

We have St. Patrick's Day less than a month away,

Passover beginning April 15 (I do hope that traditional Passover fare is more than just matzos and seltzer),

and Easter on April 17.

Here's a delightful new product, Peeps Pops. It looks like four Peeps on a stick and each Pop costs more than a whole box of Peeps.

I rarely go down the pet food aisle, but I did on this trip to see what was available for pets.

The jerky and many of the other items available in the dog snack section looked far better than the mushroom jerky.

And after your pet has enjoyed a snack, perhaps you could interest your cat in a snack drink. Right up at the top, it says "Snack drink for cats". I was amazed!

I was even more surprised by these "Lickable Treats"! It looks like soup, stew, and even special stew for senior cats. I got a kick out of the picture on the front showing them being eaten or served with a spoon. Cats can enjoy some pretty good meals.

Thanks for coming along to the grocery store. I wasn't pursued by the creepy Stop & Shop robot, and looking for new and interesting items did make my trip more fun than usual.

Have you encountered anything new during your grocery shopping? Or maybe your cat enjoys Lickable Treats and Catmilk Snack Drinks? Inquiring minds would like to know!

Monday, February 14, 2022

Too Much

I meant to write a post earlier today, but that didn't happen. I've got a bit too much going on, so I'm taking a short break this week. We're back and forth to MD, packing and loading the last pieces of furniture and boxes. It's my fervent hope that we have just one trip next week to deal with the very last of the details. Wish me luck returning the Comcast equipment! It's been an exercise in frustration so far. We spent this morning chasing down the notary that we had made an appointment with to sign the documents so we could close on the MD house remotely. He finally showed up 90 minutes late, but then there was copying and FedExing to do, all while the settlement agent kept emailing me wondering what was going on. Closing isn't officially until the 28th, but the buyer scheduled it at a location three hours away, so we chose to close remotely. Detail, details (and the devil is in the details)!

Both of the kids have some big things going on that they want our advice on. It's nice that they still want to know what we think, but it's also made for some sleepless nights. A family member broke her arm sledding, so that will require surgery, hardware, and plenty of help from others while she heals. It's always something!

These pictures have nothing to do with me telling you that I'm taking a break; I just think a post needs some photos and these are some recent ones. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed this weekend and went out for a walk. Our town in NJ is making some huge renovations, which means they are knocking down lots of old buildings. I was quite taken with the safe door, and since I didn't think I could put it to any use, I thought it should be preserved in some way. 

I hope you all enjoy a good week, one without frustrations, issues, and feeling overwhelmed. Since this is real life we're talking about, I hope those things are at least kept to a minimum. See you next week!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Museum of Me - February 2022

Hello and welcome to the February installation at the Museum of Me. The staff has been working hard on a new exhibit. This has involved some searching through the archives, dusting, and rearranging. If you'll please follow the docent, she'll show you around this month's exhibit. This month it's a Valentine's Day memory. 

I've never celebrated Valentine's day in a big way but made plenty of heart-shaped meatloaves and brownies decorated with those awful chalky conversation hearts when the boys were young. I used to enjoy helping Ryan and Justin make valentines for classmates (possibly more than they did) with red and pink construction paper, doilies, red foil hearts, and glue sticks. One year we had a great idea for a Valentine card, and the museum staff unearthed it from deep in storage. 

When the boys were about four and six years old, John started traveling extensively for work. Sometimes it was just for a few days, but there were plenty of times when he went to South America or Asia for two or three weeks at a time. When I asked Ryan and Justin what they wanted to do for Daddy for Valentine's Day, they thought a really big card would be a good idea to show how much they missed him. I don't remember how we came up with this idea of having them form the letters but I do remember how much fun we had doing it. This was back in the olden days when you had to take photos and then take them to be developed, so it was a project. 

We cut out the photos and backed them with construction paper that was originally red, and then glued them on a piece of poster board that was originally blue. John had it thumbtacked in his office for many years, so it has faded quite a bit. It might have helped if the museum staff had used acid-free paper and some better archival storage than putting it on a shelf with the rest of the photos, but the sentiment is still there.

I love the goofy grins and Justin's favorite dinosaur shirt.

I remember there was some discussion about who got to be upright and who had to lie down for the L, but they're both smiling in the picture. 

Most of all I love these kids and this Valentine's Day memory of how much fun we had at home together. 

The Museum of Me exhibits will be changed monthly on the second Friday of the month, so please stop by again in March for the next carefully curated installation. (The gift shop is on the right on your way out!)

Thursday, February 10, 2022


Last Friday I heard on NPR that the United States covid death toll had reached 900,000. This is a staggering, horrific number, one that my brain can barely grasp. It gets worse as you consider that it only took 51 days to reach this new total after 800,000 people had died, and experts estimate that we will surpass 1,000,000 deaths by spring. The real tragedy is that we have lost people who are loved - grandparents, parents, spouses, sons and daughters, best friends, and neighbors, and many of these deaths could have been prevented if people had gotten the vaccine and booster shots.

I originally posted this poem way back in January of 2017, pre-pandemic, but I'm re-visiting it again because it speaks about loss in a way I can almost begin to understand.

One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

  • Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983)

It does look like disaster to me. I wish you mindfulness, good health, avoidance of disasters, along with some poetry as the week winds down. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with a (finally!) FO!

It's my Musselburgh and I love it. I cast this off, plunked it on my head, and went outside to take pictures. I rarely wear hats, but I've found myself wearing it on every possible occasion. I was concerned that it would be too big, but it's just about right. 

I like the side with the blues and purples best, but the side with the gray is pretty good, too. I have another skein of this yarn and I'm really curious what it might look like in a Hitchhiker. After I finish another Bankhead hat, my current Hitchhiker, and my Antler cardigan, I just might find out.

I listened to The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard, because I remembered The Deep End of the Ocean as an emotionally powerful and interesting book. I may be a different reader two decades later, but The Good Son was only one star for me. Overwrought, overwritten, melodramatic, and tedious, it was all the things I dislike most in one book. 

But I also read a picture book, Maybe, that I purchased as a gift for my sister's granddaughter. I'll be interested to hear her opinion, but it was a five-star book for me. Beautiful, honest text paired with stunningly beautiful illustrations by Gabriella Barouch make this a must-read. My children are grown so I haven't read a picture book for a long while, but I'm thankful there are young nieces, nephews, and grandchildren in the family so I can still discover treasures like Maybe.

I started listening to Snow Falling on Cedars but am having a difficult time concentrating, so that might need to wait for a bit. I found The Power of Regret at the library and that is serving as an interesting listen while I pack in MD and make trips to Goodwill. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Read With Us: Agatha of Little Neon

The current Read With Us selection, Agatha of Little Neonhas a catchy title, an interesting cover, and is the first published novel by author Claire Luchette. 

It may seem as if we are on a "nun kick" with this book being our second read in a row about nuns, but technically, Agatha is a sister. A Catholic sister is a woman who lives, ministers, and prays within the world. She professes perpetual simple vows living a life according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. A Catholic nun is a woman who lives a contemplative life in a monastery that is usually cloistered or semi-cloistered. Her ministry and prayer life are centered within the monastery for the good of the world. She professes the perpetual solemn vows of living a life according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. So, no nun kick!

Even though this is Luchette's first published novel, they have written extensively. (Luchette uses they/them pronouns.) One of these is an interesting essay entitled "The Nuns of Fiction: Experts in Affliction and Awe". (This is an NYT article so my apologies if it's behind a paywall.) They have considered a variety of nuns in fiction, from The Ninth Hour to Chaucer and Shakespeare. Nuns in fiction can serve as examples of goodness, but they can also be objects of lust and loathing. Luchette writes, "But in more recent fiction, the extent of nuns’ otherness makes for tension and rich characterization. Nuns keep themselves physically and culturally confined, ostensibly concerned with salvation and the celestial, but they, more than any other group in the church hierarchy, bump up against the world and all its ugly suffering. In that friction lies much narrative potential." I think the author has developed this narrative potential quite well in Agatha. 

Claire Luchette received a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts in 2020. In Luchette's personal statement they write, "Earlier this year I received a scam call that there was a warrant out for my arrest, and I believed the man on the phone. It seemed possible, even likely. When I received a call in November from the National Endowment for the Arts, I did not—and still do not—believe it. It will forever seem unreal.

When I’m writing I’m always in the middle, until I’m at the end. The middle is the best part. It’s my favorite place in the world to be. This grant allows me to hang out in the middle a while longer, with more energy and confidence and focus, so I can complete a book worthy of such an incredible gift." She has used her energy, confidence, and focus to write a book worthy of support from the NEA, and I hope you'll read Agatha of Little Neon to see what you think. 

Our Read With Us book discussion will be on Tuesday, March 15. Kym, Carole, and I will each post a discussion question (or two or three) on our blogs that day, and then at 7:00 pm Eastern time we'll be hosting a live book discussion/meet-up on Zoom. We may do a little bit of compare-and-contrast for those who have read both Matrix and Agatha, but never fear, it will not be the sole focus of the discussion. Please join the Agatha discussion whether you have read Matrix or not. We look forward to having you Read (and Discuss) With Us!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Places You Can Knit and Things You Can See

You can knit in the ER after you take John back for the second time in a week. On Thursday he couldn't stand up and had to crawl from the kitchen to the sofa. I was afraid it was another disc in his lumbar region acting up or maybe a kidney stone, but off we went to the ER after the trauma of getting him into his truck.

You can also knit in his truck with your Hitchhiker artfully draped over the steering wheel. After sitting in the ER for several hours and being told that they still needed an ultrasound and CT scan to have a better idea of what was going on, I thought that sitting in the truck might be a better place to wait. That was okay for a few hours, but then it got cold and my fingers got stiff, so I headed back to the ER to see what was happening.

By then the doctors had decided that it was not a lumbar disc issue nor a kidney stone, but a kidney infection. They gave John an injection for pain and wanted to keep him overnight to infuse IV antibiotics. That was about the best diagnosis we could have hoped for (no surgery or waiting for a kidney stone to pass). I headed home and got a good night's sleep.

I picked John up on Friday and I'm pleased to say that he can stand upright and walk almost normally. He's got antibiotics and pain meds. to take at home. This worked out fairly well; he was supposed to go into work on Thursday to sign some retirement forms and hand in his laptop and badge, but that didn't happen. He felt well enough for us to come down to MD yesterday and he is doing all the official wrapping up for retirement this morning. I'm packing boxes and we'll be getting ready to load some furniture. After this one, I count just two more trips!

While sitting in the hospital I paged through lots of magazines. I saw this in an issue of Real Simple, but it struck me as something I might want to remember.

It feels like I'm doing lots of things slowly because there are LOTS of things going on, but I'm not standing still and will have to remind myself of this periodically.

Another thing that I saw while waiting was a deaf couple arguing. A man and woman came into the ER clearly agitated. Their frustration grew when it seemed that nobody could understand them, and the staff called for someone who could sign. I felt terrible for them, but couldn't offer any assistance. While they waited, they started to argue with each other. The man was signing furiously with big gestures, punctuated by clapping, hitting his fist into his palm, and stamping his feet. The woman seemed a little less upset, but it was still obvious that they were in the middle of a fight. Someone finally arrived that could sign and helped them. I had never thought about it and I didn't want to stare or intrude, but I was oddly fascinated to see how much could be communicated without any words. I'm hoping that things were resolved as well for them as they were for John.

I hope your weekend was a little less eventful and didn't include any health issues, knitting in a truck in a cold parking lot, or awful arguments. I'm ready for a stretch of uneventful days, and I'll even take boring!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

It's time to join Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. I can't stand to show you yet another photo of my almost-completed Musselburgh (I'm doing the decreases and I think it should be done in another hour or two), and I've only knit two rows on my poor Antler cardigan in the last two weeks. So how about some comfort knitting that's keeping me company through house inspections, packing, unpacking, appointments with a notary for pension paperwork, discussions with our financial planner, and a visit to the ER? (John wrenched his back while lifting a chair that we were moving and he couldn't stand up. It doesn't look serious, but he's already had three back surgeries, so we wanted to get things checked.)

When the going gets tough, I turn to Hitchhiker knitting. It's easy to work on whenever I have a few moments, and this one has been on the needles a long, long time. When I'm done with all the details of selling the MD house, moving, and John retiring, I just might have a completed Hitchhiker and can return to some other projects that are languishing. 

I like to pair my knitting with a good beer when I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, and this one went very well with my Hitchhiker. You may not be able to read the fine print, but it says "A beautifully aromatic milk stout with bold flavors of peanut butter, coffee, and dark chocolate." It may not be in a beer mug, but it's exactly what I needed. 

I haven't knit much this past week, but I've listened to two wonderful audiobooks. First up is Taste by Stanley Tucci. Many of you have read or listened to it, and it's as good as everyone says it is. With Tucci's stories about his childhood in Katonah, NY and what his Italian relatives grew, made, and served, to anecdotes about butter on Maine lobster, andouillette (a stinky sausage made with chitterlings), and roast potatoes made the British way, it's clear that he loves to eat and prepare food and drink, and appreciates the human connections that are made by sharing with others. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, especially if you listen to it read by the author. Just don't listen while you are hungry because you certainly will be after you finish this book. 

The second book I listened to is The Final Case by David Guterson. All I knew about The Final Case when I requested it from the library was that it was a legal drama and I remembered loving Snow Falling on Cedars. That was enough because I'm fairly sure that this book will be among the best books I read this year. I can say that with some confidence even though it's only February because it's so much more - more than a legal drama, more than a story about an adopted Ethiopian child, and more than a story about what we do for work, leading a meaningful life, religion, justice, and the bonds between parents and children. 

This book might not be for everyone as some reviewers have complained that it was meandering and lacking in direction or intent. In an interview, Guterson said, "The reality of life isn't consistent with fictional conventions, with plot points and a finite story. Life meanders. But I didn't set out to meander. It's just that the plot of the novel might take a little work to discover because it's not necessarily on the surface." The fact that the plot wasn't on the surface is exactly what made me enjoy and appreciate the book as much as I did. Another reviewer spoke about trusting the author, and sticking with the book even when you're not sure of the journey. I think The Final Case is a book with ample rewards for the reader if they are willing to trust David Guterson. 

What are you making and reading this week? 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Alternate Use

John brought a load of stuff (boxes and some miscellaneous small pieces of furniture) home from MD over the weekend and this plant stand was one of the items. 

It's a nice oak stand that I got at Goodwill for $15. I don't yet have a permanent place for it in NJ, but I wanted to keep it so I just plunked it in an open space. It was really cold so John did not bring my plants and it is currently standing empty.

Justin came home from FL and was thrilled when he saw it. I couldn't understand why he was so excited about an empty plant stand, but I got it when he asked where I got the perfect antler stand. "We can have an "Antler of the Day" and admire it every time we go up or down the stairs!" 

My plants just might have to go someplace else.


Be sure to visit Kym's blog today. She is sharing the first promotional post for our current Read With Us book, Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette. You don't want to miss it!