28 February 2022

Poem for a Monday

Small Kindnesses, by Danusha Lameris

I've been thinking about how, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs  
to let you by. Or how strangers still say "bless you"  
when someone sneezes, a leftover   
from the Bubonic plague. "Don't die" we are saying.   
And sometimes, when you spill lemons   
from your grocery bag, someone will help you   
pick them up. Mostly, we don't want to harm each other.    
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,   
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile    
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress   
to call us honey when she sets down a bowl of clam chowder,    
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.   
We have so little of each other, now. So far    
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.   
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these    
fleeting temples we make together when we say, "Here,    
have my seat," "Go ahead -- you first," "I like your hat."

25 February 2022

What I Learned in February

At the end of January, one of the blogs I read (apologies, I don't remember the specific one!) had a post called, "What I Learned in January" and I thought it was an interesting idea.  So even though February has three days left, I was in the mood to write a post today and decided on this topic.  Rest assured that if between now and the end of Monday, I learn anything astonishing, I will share it with you, OK?

1. I learned about the Foundling Hospital in London, founded by Thomas Coram.

First of all, the term foundling - at least in England - didn't mean what I thought it meant, or at least what it meant here.  The place has since closed, but if you read this book, you will learn more than you ever knew there was to know about it:

Geez.  Anyway, the place is now closed, and they have a museum where you can tour around and learn about its history and well, it's a lot.

2.  I learned - for better or for worse - that my severe shoulder pain is just plain old, miserable arthritis.  The dr told me to get back to exercising it, and to take Tylenol (I can't take aspirin or Aleve or any of those) to help with the pain.  She said if it doesn't improve, maybe a round of steroids will help.  One the one hand (one the on shoulder??) I'm glad it's nothing more serious, but on the other hand, arthritis sucks.  Oh well.

3.  I have finally realized (for approximately the 50th time over the course of my life) that in spite of the fact that I have tried very hard to grow out my hair, and have even (gasp!) spent time in the morning trying to style it ("trying" being the operative word here), that longer hair is not for me.  I got a great cut that last three times from the stylist I go to, but I am truly unwilling to spend time getting it to look OK.  And frankly, in my case, since my hair is very fine, straight, and limp, it doesn't do me any favors when it is longer.  I think I look more haggard (granted, these days I would look haggard anway, but not the point).  I don't mind having to dry it in the cold weather, because the warm air blowing on my head feels nice, but it's a lot of work and effort in the morning before work that gives me very little payoff.  So next Tuesday, I'm going back to my short cut, which I do like, and now realize is probably just more suited to my efforts and abilities overall.  Best to stick with what works, as long as it's something you like, right?

4. Though you hear and read everywhere that companies are DYING for workers, they are apparently managing just fine when the applicants are older.  Because as I think I have mentioned here, I have applied for both skilled and unskilled jobs, and have not even gotten a nibble.  Which was one thing when I thought it was just me.  But in the last week or so, five different people I know - all between the ages of 55 and 68 - have told me they are having the same experience. And all of them have a much more grounded background than I do.  Now I know some of you will point out that ageism is illegal, and yes, it is and should be.  But sadly, lots of things are illegal, but still happen because they can be explained away in other terms.  The only thing that is good about this is that I now feel that it isn't just me having this issue.  (For the record, we're all still trying anyway.)

5. A group of porcupines is called a Prickle of Porcupines.  And a group of hyenas is called a Cackle of Hyenas.  Learning these two facts has pleased me way more than it should.

6.  Sleeping with Pip next to you is cuddly; sleeping with Milo the Koodle next to you results in a scratched eyelid (!) when you don't get up the very second he wants you to get up and feed him.  And a scratch on your eyelid is no treat, trust me. 

7. I am hopelessly behind on some things.  I mean really behind.  I had a serious I-Can't-Do-Anything-Because-I-Have-No-Will-Or-Energy attack towards the end of last summer which lasted until early December.  Then I was proud of myself because I got a lot accomplished during December and for most of January.  Then things happened and I slid downward again, and over the last few days was reminded of things that should have happened months ago.  (Kim, thinking of you especially - oy.)  It's time to try and pull some things together, which will also make me feel good for having done so.

And I'm sure there are other things, but these come immediately to mind.  Did you learn anything in February that you'd like to share?

I hope all of you have a good weekend.  We have no specific plans, but I am hoping to do some baking, which I enjoy especially when it's cold outside.  And it's supposed to be cold this weekend, so hopefully everything will align properly. 😊

Take care, everyone!

22 February 2022

Random Things That Are Pleasing Me

Hello!  If you know me at all, you are not surprised that I'm starting with this reminder from Chemistry Cat:

I have an alarm set on my phone for 2:22 p.m., so I can text The Tim to wish him happy 2:22 on 2-2-22.  Which will amuse him, but also further convince him that I am a weirdo. Ask me if I care. 😉

BUT - the numbers fun doesn't end there - for the rest of February, all of the dates are palindromes!  (Yesterday was too, but I got distracted and forgot to post.)  As Kermit would say:

Being that today happens to also be Tiny Needle Tuesday, I wanted to show you the result of my Stitchy Saturday work:

There are two mistakes, regarding spacing but I am choosing to ignore them.  I managed to finish the "Winter" on Saturday, and though it took me longer than it should have, I am happy with how it's going.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a dr appt and walking home, I took this photo from the Walnut Street bridge:

It was such a clear day, and the water on the Schuylkill River looked like glass.  It's not a glamorous view, but it pleases me because I can identify nearly everything in it.  

Then there are these two:

They are having a hard time, because they miss their Hamlet (as do we all, but you can't explain what happened to them).  They have been spending much more time than usual curled up together on his bed.  We love them so much!  And lest you see this photo and think they are a couple of angels, please know that at some point during every sweet scene like this, one of them wakes up and randomly bops the other one, leading to a hiss fight.

I took this picture of Pip on his birthday, which is Valentine's Day.  We postponed our Valentine's celebration until this past weekend because we had picked up Hamlet's ashes on February 14, but no way were we going to skip Pip's birthday, that wouldn't be fair.  He is such a sweetie, and really enjoyed his treats and the toy he got as a present.  Of course, Milo the Koodle has enjoyed it as well ... because nothing in our house belongs to anyone on their own!

I wanted to say thank you for all the comments you left on my post from last week.  I got a bit carried away cleaning out my e-mail inbox, and accidentally deleted them before replying.  Then I tried to respond on Blogger, but those responses disappeared into the ether, so who knows what is going on there?  Whereas for a while, I wasn't getting any notifications of comments, now I get multiple notifications for each comment - so I guess it's feast or famine as far as that's concerned.  

That's it for now.  I hope you have some random things that are pleasing to you as well.  Take care.

16 February 2022

Very Little Knitting, Lots of Reading

Today I decided that I would participate in Unraveled Wednesday, with Kat and the others.  Because I do have a tiny bit of knitting to show, and I have been really busy reading.

I haven't knit for a while, for two reasons.  Emotionally, I've wanted to knit, but have not had the energy or strong desire to pay attention. But the real thing is physical - my right shoulder has really been giving me a lot of pain.  It's probably arthritis (frankly, I hope it's just that), but to make certain, I'm going to the doctor this coming Monday to have it checked out.  Primarily, because of the ever-helpful comment from The Tim: "You should get it checked out, in case it's a rotator cuff injury, and you need surgery." I feel that is probably not going to be the case, but when he makes comments like that, it sorta freaks me out and I want to be sure what is happening!

Anyway. This past Sunday, I decided to give knitting a try, and pulled out my Cozy Squares of Memory blanket.  It's been a long time since I worked on it, partly due to other projects I wanted to finish, and also because I don't work on it at all during the summer heat.  But I thought I'd try a couple of squares and see how things went.

The two squares on the right side - the stripey blue and the solid blue - were added.  Since they are small and do not take a lot of time, I thought this was a good test of whether or not *any* knitting would aggravate my shoulder, or if that just happened when I knit for long periods.  The good news is that my shoulder didn't kill me for the rest of the day, but the bad news is that it did hurt and I was more than aware of it, even after using a lidocaine cream and taking a couple of Tylenol.  So we'll see what the doctor thinks and/or recommends next Monday.

I've been reading A LOT since I haven't been doing as much knitting.  A mix of cozy mysteries and easy reads as well as more involved things.  Right now, I've started two books:

This is a loan from the library.  I'm maybe a third through it, and it's both interesting and sad, since you know what happens to the people you are "meeting" through the author.

This one is my reading-during-lunch book at work.  It's both fascinating and disturbing.  But so far a really good read!


In other news, nothing much is going on with us.  We brought our boy home on Monday.💔💕  The kitties are, I think, even more confused than they already were.  They keep sniffing and rubbing the box with his ashes, and then looking at us and crying.  But we're glad he is back with us.  

Pip had his 11th birthday on Monday, with treats and a new catnip toy.  He was quite pleased with it all.  Milo the Koodle got a catnip toy for Valentine's Day, so there were no arguments involved.  The Tim and I had some birthday cake to celebrate, so all the way around it worked out ...

Work continues to get worse, with pretty much no help from our HR department.  I have been applying for any type of jobs right and left, hoping some poor sap will actually decide to ask me for an interview, but needless to say, nothing is happening so far.  Apparently I have too many skills for unskilled jobs, and am too old for others.  But I continue to hope that the aforementioned poor sap shows up soon!

That's it for now.  I hope you are having a decent kind of day.

08 February 2022


(From the comic strip, "Mutts.")

A few years ago, I chose "kindness" for my word of the year - actually I chose it two years in a row.  Because I found that telling myself to consciously be more kind was good practice, and I hoped that by using that for my word two years in a row, it would become more of a habit than something I needed to remember to do or to be.  And to some extent, I've succeeded, though admittedly, I could probably keep it as my word for the year and never reach the place I would hope.  We are all human though, so we can only try our best.  

I cannot tell you how much all of your kind comments, notes, snail mail cards and letters, and small gifts have meant to me after posting about losing our sweet Hamlet.  Loss makes you feel so terribly alone, and when your friends surround you with kindness and love, it doesn't make the hurt less, but it does provide comfort.  And when many of those who are the kindest are people you actually either barely know or don't know in real life, it makes you realize that friendship is it's own kind of love.  So thank you so very much for *your* kindnesses to me, and by extension to The Tim and the kitties.  We are still in shock, but we are also grateful for so much, in particular that for Hamlet, the end was quick and not a lingering, painful time.  True, it makes it a bit harder for us. because we were not even thinking it would happen anytime soon, but I would rather we had to deal with that, than him having to be sick or worse for any length of time.  

Please know that if I have not responded to you, it's either because I don't have your e-mail address, or because I have not gotten myself together enough to be able to write snail mail notes yet.  But I'll get there - know in the meantime that your thoughts were received with gratitude.

I would have written all of the above at some point anyway, but was prompted to do it now by a couple of things I saw on social media.  A young man (we'll call him Dr. S.) who worked in the Entomology Department while he was a master's and Ph.D. student managed to successfully defend his thesis last year, and very fortunately obtained a teaching position at a nearby college.  This guy is truly one of the nicest people I have ever met - I guess you could say his mother raised him well (his father apparently died when he was about 6 years old).  He is friendly and personable, but also really caring.  Whenever I was on medical leave due to surgery, or illness, I always received a note or an e-mail from him, saying that he hoped I was doing better, or that he missed talking to me, etc.  And he is the kind of person who you know means it, and is not simply saying it because it's the right thing to say.

So the other day, when he posted this on Facebook, I was not surprised at all:

A student asked to submit a paper a day late because...
She was "overcome with joy and excitement and cannot focus!" because her family's "first child of the next generation was born!"
You can take the whooole week,
!!! ❤

-- COMMENT: Very kind. My son asked for an extension bc of severe anxiety and a total cloud fail when he submitted a paper and got a “no”. Always be kind.

And there you have it - the difference a small bit of kindness can make.

Now I know that there are always people in school, at work, in life, who try to take advantage and always ask for special consideration.  I don't think they deserve to have exceptions made for them, though it often happens anyway.  And I'm sure a lot of professors would have told the girl whose family had a new baby that it was wonderful news, but you still need to meet the deadline.  I think the fact that Dr. S. not only gave her the grace she requested, but then posted about it happily on social media shows the kind of person he is and wants to continue to be.

Then there is the other professor, mentioned by a current colleague in the comment.  I'm sure this professor has heard several excuses leading to a request for an exception, and are probably pretty savvy at fishing out the fakes (or maybe I am giving them a benefit of the doubt that they don't deserve).  But I think the larger problem here is that for people who have never dealt with true, often crippling, anxiety, it's not a legitimate excuse.  Most people see it as a temporary feeling and something that you can easily "just get over."  Sometimes, it is.  Mostly - at least in my case - it's not.  Oh I am still able to function for the most part, but not really in an optimal way.  I wish more people understood how seriously true anxiety can affect a person.  And I hope down the road, my colleague's son will not only have help with his anxiety, but find a more considerate professor.

In short, as she says at the end of her comment, "Always be kind."  It means more than you'll ever be able to understand.

Again, thanks to all of you for your kindness, especially in the last couple of weeks. 

02 February 2022


Besides it being 2-2-22 (which is a BIG thing itself!), today is also:

The second day of Black History Month

The second day of Lunar New Year - the Year of the Tiger

Groundhog Day

James Joyce's birthday

The Feast Day of Saint Blaise
(patron saint of wool combers, wool traders,
animals, and throat illnesses)

Seems like more than enough for one day to me. 😊