It’s time for the robot to grow up and do his job

About two years ago, I bought a robotic vacuum cleaner. Like millions of other people, I fell in love with the idea of pushing a button and having a robot roam around the house cleaning the floors while I did something else. Because robot vacuum cleaners aren’t cheap, I spent a long time researching different models and asking friends who’d already bought one if it was worth it. Finally, an online sale and glowing reviews seduced me into clicking “add to cart.” A few of my friends had mentioned that they’d given their robot vacuum cleaners cute names like “Dirty Harry” or “Rosie.” So when my new vacuum arrived, I unboxed it and admired its sleek circular design, low profile, [...]

Pandemic fashion at home

I don’t know about your house, but the standard for personal appearance has taken a sharp nosedive at the Rockwood house. All this time at home during the pandemic has made me question the necessity of several things that used to be an essential part of the day. Things like pants with buttons. Bras with underwires. Shoes with heels. Who needs them? All the rules are different now. The makeup bag I used to reach for almost every day now only makes guest appearances once or twice a week. Good mascara doesn’t grow on trees so why waste it when the only people who see me are the ones I gave birth to or the man who’s legally required to [...]

Black Friday comes early in 2020

There has been so much waiting this year. Waiting during the initial coronavirus shutdowns. Waiting for toilet paper to be restocked. Waiting out the spring and summer surges. Waiting for school to start. Waiting for a vaccine. Waiting for the election noise to stop. There has been so much waiting, and some of us (raising my hand) aren’t known for our patience. But there’s one thing we no longer have to wait on. In fact, it’s already here. Discounts and deals that used to be saved for Black Friday are arriving in early November this year. If you’re in need of retail therapy, you’re in luck. Retail analysts say the pandemic has caused retailers to rethink their sales strategy. Instead [...]

Waiting for the comeback

Years ago, I read an article about the factors that play into a person’s happiness level, and one of them surprised me. It said that rooting for a team, especially one that other friends or neighbors also root for, can increase your level of happiness. But now I think I finally get it. After three long years of watching my college alma mater’s team struggle through losing seasons, I saw a game last Saturday that sparked celebrations in a legion of fans who were starving for it. Tom and I had gone out for a late lunch to avoid crowds and respiratory droplets, and the game had already started on television. He pulled out his phone to check the score [...]

When conspiracy theories are on the menu

In the early 1700s, author Jonathan Swift wrote about how quickly falsehoods can fly and that “truth comes limping after it.” Over the centuries, those words evolved to become this well-known saying: “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.” Conspiracy theories aren’t new. Some people still believe the Earth is flat, or that alien lizard people are living on Earth disguised as certain celebrities, or that Elvis never really died. But it feels like this year has given birth to more than its share of weird ideas. I’m fascinated by how absolutely certain some people are about the conspiracy theories they’ve adopted. There are only a handful of things of which [...]

The test I flunked

Up until this week, I had never flunked a test. I was one of those kids in high school who poured herself into preparation because I didn’t want to disappoint myself, the teacher, or my parents. That academic devotion helped me get a scholarship to college, the first in my family to get there. I ramped up the dedication level even more once I moved to campus because I knew I had to maintain a high grade point average to keep that scholarship. During the week of final exams, my mother would often ship me a care package containing snacks, magazines and games along with a note begging me not to overdo it and push myself too hard. She knew [...]

Click marks the spots

My kids think it’s amazing that I was an ancient 18 years old the first time I got a computer and learned to use it. For kids who’ve been using technology before they were even potty-trained, it’s hard to imagine life before “point and click” existed. Their generation walks around with phone-sized computers in their pockets the way my generation walked around with sticks of gum in ours, like it’s no big deal at all. I remember setting up that first computer on the desk in my college dorm room and putting in a disk that taught me how to use a mouse. I learned to “drag and drop” files on the screen, empty the desktop “trash” and navigate word [...]

Craving the change

A few days ago, I took the dogs to the backyard and stood on the deck waiting for them to take care of business. For the first time in months, a non-humid breeze swept over me – light and refreshing – with just a hint of the cooler temperatures soon to come. Then, almost on cue, a large leaf broke free from one of our backyard trees and drifted down on the breeze, settling on the grass just a few feet in front of me. It was the perfect movie trailer “coming attraction” for fall. Two days later, I stood in the lobby of a doctor’s office with my daughter, waiting to get some bloodwork done. An older man at [...]

When Wanda went to Walmart

Something is wrong at my mother’s favorite grocery store, and she’s not going to take it lying down. She may even write a strongly worded letter to the company’s headquarters, and I bet it’ll be a doozy. Mom, who is 76, is one of the few women I know who genuinely enjoys a trip to buy groceries. She likes to go alone and push her cart up and down the aisles, taking her time to see what’s new. When the pandemic first struck and we all locked down, I insisted she let me order her groceries to be delivered to minimize her exposure to the virus. She agreed for the first three months. But then I caught her coming home [...]

Trio of tidbits

Sometimes I have an idea for a column that grows to the size of a Saint Bernard or Great Dane and takes up all the space my editors give me. But sometimes, the ideas come in smaller packages – the size of a short Corgi or a petite Poodle. Still plenty of fun, but they don’t take up as much room on the sofa. So, here’s a trio of tidbits: Word on the street As a self-confessed “word nerd,” I love it when new words get added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The English language is always in flux – changing and expanding in creative ways that reflect the times in which we live. For example, at the beginning of [...]