Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lena Dunham & making tough reproductive choices

I should start by saying that, while I know who Lena Dunham is, and that she is a somewhat outspoken & controversial celebrity figure, I have never watched an episode of "Girls" or formed my own opinion about her. I had heard about her struggles with endometriosis, and that she recently had a hysterectomy to try to resolve the problem permanently.

I just read Dunham's essay about her experience from Vogue magazine. I have never had to deal with endometriosis (although I have wondered, sometimes...), but there was much in her article that was familiar -- from the doctors who held out hope even as Dunham herself knew better, to coming to the end of a long-held dream, only because the pain (physical for her, emotional/mental for me) of hanging on got to be too much, to making a "choice" that creates a new kind of pain at the same time that it resolves another kind.
But I know something else, too, and I know it as intensely as I know I want a baby: that something is wrong with my uterus. I can feel it, deeply specific yet unverified, despite so many tests and so much medical dialogue. I just sense that the uterus I have been given is defective. 
And while I’ve been battling endometriosis for a decade and this will be my ninth surgical procedure, no doctor has ever confirmed this for me. They’ve told me I have a slightly higher chance of miscarriage. They’ve told me not to wait forever to “get it going.” But through the 40-plus vaginal ultrasounds where I’m forced to stare at the black emptiness of my uterus, they say things like “Look at those egg follicles! You better be careful or you’ll have a baby next week!” Their goal is to preserve my fertility. That is what they consider to be their job. And I laugh and smile, but I know that the blank space, the black hole that is an empty womb captured on-screen, is all I’ll ever see...
In the operating room the lovely Haitian anesthesiologist, Dr. Lallemand, lets me select a favorite Rihanna song, and I try to absorb the gravity of the moment—at least a dozen people dressed in blue scrubs with face masks, the fact that I could run right now but instead I am choosing to stay, choosing this. I have to admit I am really choosing this—I gave up on more treatment. I gave up on more pain. I gave up on more uncertainty.
Dunham's hunch about her uterus was vindicated by the results of her hysterectomy:
I wake up surrounded by family and doctors eager to tell me I was right. My uterus is worse than anyone could have imagined. It’s the Chinatown Chanel purse of nightmares, full of both subtle and glaring flaws. In addition to endometrial disease, an odd humplike protrusion, and a septum running down the middle, I have had retrograde bleeding, a.k.a. my period running in reverse, so that my stomach is full of blood. My ovary has settled in on the muscles around the sacral nerves in my back that allow us to walk. Let’s please not even talk about my uterine lining. The only beautiful detail is that the organ—which is meant to be shaped like a lightbulb—was shaped like a heart... 
Because I had to work so hard to have my pain acknowledged, there was no time to feel fear or grief. To say goodbye. I made a choice that never was a choice for me, yet mourning feels like a luxury I don’t have. 
She still holds hope of having children, perhaps via egg freezing,  perhaps via adoption. I wish her luck.

*** *** ***

I came to Dunham's essay in a roundabout way, via an article from Slate:  "The Only Certainty in Reproductive Health Is Uncertainty."  "As a gynecologist, I am grateful whenever celebrities publish articles about their reproductive health,"  writes Anna Reinart.
These women, whose lives and bodies are already the focus of incredible public scrutiny, are laying bare one of the most private and vulnerable aspects of their life—all for the sake of raising awareness about a medical condition they share with other women...  
They also tend to receive a hefty amount criticism for doing so. Dunham’s piece certainly did, which is unsurprising, since her story highlights some of the most uncomfortable themes that I’ve encountered as a women’s health care provider—namely, the issues around reproductive self-determination and the capacity for informed consent.
(I am hearing here all the echoes of "Oh, don't give up!!" and "Have you tried/thought of...?")  I had an "ah-ha" moment of recognition/deja vu when I read:
At the core of the impulse to question Dunham’s choice is the myth that if women just try hard enough, they can achieve reproductive self-determination. We all want to believe that Lena Dunham has the ability to conceive and carry the pregnancy that she eloquently describes herself as having always dreamed of. We all want to believe that she has a right to parent the biologic children that she desires. But in the fight for women’s reproductive freedom, in our efforts to remove external constraints on women’s reproductive choices, we have forgotten the one internal constraint over which even medicine is often powerless: biology... I have comforted women suffering through [various fertility-related scenarios], trying to reconcile her long-standing belief that she had control over her reproduction with the reality imposed by her biology.
Reinert concludes:
...many times, there are simply no good answers. So before you judge Lena Dunham, yourself, or anybody else for the decisions they have made about their reproductive health, remember—we have influence, but not control over our biology. We can hope for the best, but we can’t expect it.
I've cherry-picked the passages from both articles that spoke most directly to me, but I encourage you to read them both in their entirety. And let me know what you think.

Monday, February 19, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Family Day (bah humbug...)

You might think I would be grateful for a long weekend in February -- and I am (and I most certainly was, when I was working).  But unlike Christmas, Thanksgiving, Canada Day, St. Patrick's Day, or just about any other statutory or "Hallmark" holiday (outside of Mother's & Father's Days), there is nothing about Family Day that I really enjoy or look forward to.

I've written (ranted?) about Family Day, and why it bugs me so much, every year for 10 (!) years now, since it was first implemented in Ontario in 2008.  (  My primary objection is certainly not to having a long weekend during the dreary days of February (who could object to that, right??), but rather the fact that it's a completely made-up holiday, slapped with a "family-friendly" label by politicians hoping to score political points -- conveniently ignoring that the warm & fuzzy name they chose excludes those of us who don't fit the definition of a traditional family. I would have much preferred something that gave at least a perfunctory nod to Canadian history & heritage, as the U.S. does with Presidents Day, or as my home province of Manitoba does (today is also a holiday there -- not Family Day but Louis Riel Day, which honours an important -- albeit controversial -- Manitoban and Metis leader from the 1870s & 1880s).  Perhaps an official Flag Day?  (February 15, 1965, was the day the now-iconic red & white maple leaf flag was adopted as the official flag of Canada.)

This year's Family Day weekend (thus far) has included one reminder after another of why I dislike it so heartily.  First, the days leading up to the long weekend have been full of media reminders about what's open and what's closed, and about the special activities being offered (many of them free or discounted) to promote quality family time -- fun things that parents and kids can do together. Now, sure, dh & I could lace up our skates (if we had any...!) and take to the ice for the "family skate" at a nearby arena sponsored by a local politician (for example) -- but (a) we hate crowds, (b) do we really want or need to be confronted with yet another reminder about the family we didn't get to have ourselves? and (c) we've heard too many stories about suspicious parents giving stink-eye (or even calling the police!!) when adults without kids start hanging around THEIR kids at parks, etc.

Second, most schools hereabouts also had Friday off (for teacher inservices/Professional Development Day/Professional Administration Day/whatever you call it in your area).  This means the streets, parking lots, malls, stores, movie theatres, restaurants and community centres have been crawling with hordes of parents & kids for not just one day, not just two or three (= the usual three-day holiday weekend), but FOUR WHOLE DAYS.

Dh & I have been doing our best to stay close to home and avoid the mobs -- and having lots of Olympics to watch on TV helps ;)  -- but four days is a long time to play couch potato;  sometimes, you've got to get out of the house. ;)  We usually go out for dinner on Saturday nights -- early (as in 4:30-5:00 p.m.), to avoid the crowds (which can be big, even on non-long weekends), but we knew most places were going to be insane no matter when or where we went.  I suggested we just go out for burgers at our favourite fast-food gourmet burger place -- in & out, quick and easy (right??). We asked BIL & SIL if they wanted to join us. They did -- but by the time we picked them up and got to the burger place, it was well past 5:30.

The burger place is directly across a vast parking lot from the local mega-cineplex (19 screens).  Saturday nights are pretty busy there at the best of times -- and not only was it Family Day weekend, but (we'd forgotten) it was also the opening weekend for the much-anticipated and extremely well-reviewed superhero movie, "Black Panther."

The place was PACKED.

By some miracle, there was one empty table for four right at the very back. It was freezing cold (we had to keep our jackets on), but slightly less noisy than the main seating area.  Dh & BIL saved our seats while SIL & I placed our orders & then returned to the table, waiting for our numbers to be called. The time on my receipt was 5:50 p.m., and we overheard the clerk tell another client that it would be at least a 10-minute wait for their food. It seemed to be taking a lot longer than that, though, and it was at least half an hour before SIL's number was finally called.

We expected to be next -- but they skipped over our number & called the next one. And another one after that.

"WTF??" said dh, taking our receipt & heading to the order counter. There is nothing that he hates more than someone who arrived after us getting served first... and that goes double when it comes to food...!  ;)

It turns out they had LOST OUR ORDER.  It was at least another 15 minutes before we finally got our food (long after BIL & SIL had finished theirs).

Family Day... bah humbug...

P.S.  Thanks to The NotMom for their recent post about Family Day!

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends from the dead of winter

  • Anxiety has been rearing its ugly head again lately and running rampant through my brain. Not sure why. (Well, I suppose I can guess at a few reasons:  reminders of 20 years ago, midlife perimenopausal hormones (still!! at 57!!), dreary, crappy February weather ( = extreme cabin fever)... )
  • On that note: This seems to be The Winter That Will Never End.  (I'm sure I say this every winter, but seriously -- I am so over winter at this point...)  The snow does look pretty when it falls softly outside our windows & coats all the trees... but then it turns to freezing rain and then slush, making it difficult (& dangerous) to get out & around. Ugh. SO. READY. For this to be over!!  (Although I'm sure I still have a while to wait...!) 
  • The Winter Olympics are providing a welcome distraction. Figure skating is my longtime love, of course, but I could happily watch just about any of the winter sports (including the much-derided curling -- never played myself, but I spent a LOT of time in curling rinks when I was a kid, watching both my parents play). As I mentioned in a comment to Mel,  I've harboured a longtime secret desire to take a ride in a bobsled.  (You will never catch me on a luge or skeleton, though... I think those guys are NUTS.)  
  • Counting down the weeks to Younger Nephew's wedding. I took my dress to a local seamstress last week for some alterations. It's going to cost a little more than I thought, but I did get a good deal on the dress, so I suppose it all evens out. She told me it was a beautiful colour on me (teal green), which was a confidence-booster. :) 
  • Younger Nephew texted me this weekend (a happy thing in & of itself).  He's working on the slide show they're doing for the wedding reception, and wanted to know if I happened to have any of the (hundreds & hundreds of) photos I took of him (& his brother) as a baby/kid in digital format. I'd given his mother duplicate hard copies over the years, but of course, digital copies would save him a lot of scanning work. I was SO HAPPY to be able to tell him that I had ALL of his photos, going back to Day One, in digital format. :)  (I haven't quite gotten as far back as his older brother's baby photos.... they didn't do a slide show at their wedding, and I was disappointed, one, not to be asked to provide photos, and two, not to have an excuse to get them digitized ASAP.)  I spent all day Sunday on my laptop, going through 25 years of photos & copying them over to a thumb drive for him to pick & choose from. To say I am happy to be able to do this for him & his fiancee, to contribute to their wedding in some small way, is an understatement. :)  #auntietotherescue  :)  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

"The Grave's a Fine and Private Place" by Alan Bradley

What better way to brighten up the dreariness of early February than to dive into a brand new Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley? 

It's been almost 10 years since I first discovered Flavia, the precocious 12-year-old chemist/detective from early 1950s Britain, in her first adventure, "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.Unlike most previous Flavia novels, "The Grave's a Fine and Private Place" is not set at Buckshaw, the family's crumbling estate. Instead, Flavia, her two older sisters and their loyal family servant, Dogger, are trying to recover from a devastating tragedy by taking a boating holiday. Even on vacation, though, it's not long before Flavia stumbles onto a corpse -- and the fun begins again...

This book marks something of a turning point in the relationship between Flavia & her sisters -- and her relationship with Dogger, which was always a highlight of previous books.  And there's the promise of more fun to come in the future as the book ends.

This was the 9th volume of Flavia's adventures, and my understanding is the author has at least one more planned. I can't wait. :)  

(If you haven't read any of the previous Flavia novels, I recommend you start with "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie," and continue from there in order. The mystery in each novel is self-contained -- but the plot itself plays second fiddle to the characters & the wonderful writing.  You will learn more about Flavia, her family and friends, and appreciate them more, if you start at the beginning and follow her adventures in order.) 

I don't seem to have reviewed the initial book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, on my blog, but here's where I've written about the others: 

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (#2)
A Red Herring Without Mustard (#3) 
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (#4) 
Speaking From Among the Bones (#5) 

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (#6)
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (#7)
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd  (#8)

This was book #2 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 8% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am -- so far!! ;)  -- on track to meet my goal.  :)  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Day 1, 20 years later

It's THAT day again. Exactly 20 years ago today (TWENTY YEARS!!) I got my period. Nothing unusual or notable at the time -- but my life was about to change forever.

I'd been getting periods since I was 11 and I had just turned 37. I had thrown away my birth control pills a little over two years earlier, and the excitement of those early months of trying to conceive -- unsuccessfully, one month after another -- had given way to a nagging feeling that time was rapidly passing, I wasn't getting any younger, and perhaps this motherhood thing wasn't going to happen after all.

I was about to be proven wrong.

Or so I thought...

February 8, 1998, will forever be branded in my memory as my "LMP date" -- the first day of my last period before I became pregnant for the first and only time -- a 26-week rollercoaster ride of joy, anxiety and raw terror -- which abruptly ended in stillbirth in early August.  That was followed by profound grieving (over many years, the intensity eventually subsided;  the grief, however, remains)(and always will);  increasing desperation, infertility testing and treatment; enormous stress, crippling anxiety and debilitating panic attacks.  Eventually, there was resignation to and, finally, acceptance of, our permanent childlessness.

10 years ago, I relived my pregnancy in detail on this blog with posts tagged "1998 memories."  I don't intend to do that again (once was enough...) -- but that doesn't mean the memories won't be there, or that I won't revisit them from time to time as significant milestones present themselves, again. (You have been forewarned...! ;)  )

Monday, February 5, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: "I'm doing it for my daughter"

I am loving the second season of "Victoria" on PBS... but having Victoria play the mommy card in last night's episode, about the Irish potato famine of the 1840s -- dragging her prime minister, Robert Peel, into the nursery to look at her new baby daughter & plead the case of the Irish people and their children with her baby in her arms and tears in her eyes -- was a little much.  I don't remember if she used the exact words "as a mother" but Peel responded emotionally that he too had children. (Apparently Victoria did do more for the Irish than has commonly been thought -- but I rather doubt she dragged her prime minister into the nursery like that...!) 

This reminded me of a thought-provoking New York Times opinion piece that I flagged a few weeks back for potential blogging material.  It was written prior to this year's Women's Marches, and titled "You Don't Need a Daughter to Want a Better World."  Writer Jill Filipovic noted how many women marchers had said, "I'm doing it for my daughter," & how this is a common sentiment -- the reason women give for so many things they do. 

"This is not a bad impulse, and there remains much to do for girls around the world," Filipovic writes. (Boldfacing here added by me for emphasis.) 
"But it can also undercut women’s progress. A woman’s value doesn’t derive from her status as a mother. We are entitled to rights and liberties by plain virtue of our humanness. If 2017 began with women marching for their daughters and ended with a tidal wave of female rage directed at predacious men, perhaps 2018 should be the year women resolve to go after what we want and deserve — simply for us. Imagine what could be if we did the same things we say we do for our daughters out of our own self-interest." 
She also makes this point:  
"When we do pursue what we crave, the consequences of saying so out loud can be stark: pity the poor woman foolish enough to say that she doesn’t want children because she’d rather spend her money traveling the world, or had an abortion because she just did not want a baby...  Those women are self-absorbed, greedy or deceitful; if they’re also self-identified feminists, they know to filter their truths carefully, so as not to risk undermining the entire cause they are fighting for with the suggestion that feminism might be motivated by unvarnished self-interest.  And so we focus on the next generation of not-yet-women."
Read the whole thing, & tell me what you think! 

(Caveat emptor re: the comments... there ARE some really good ones -- but also ones like: "With all due respect, the writer clearly does not have a daughter. Having a child profoundly changes you... All I can say is - you will understand when you have a child, niece, foster child, etc in your life that you would die for....") 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Friday, February 2, 2018

The waiting is the hardest part...

Our Oldest Nephew & his wife, both in their mid/late 20s, together for almost 10 years & married now for a year & a bit, have baby fever. His (only other)(besides Katie) cousin, who got married a few months before he did, had a baby last summer, much to the delight of the entire extended family. The baby is now about 6 months old and at that really cute stage where he's aware of what's going on around him, but not yet mobile.  ;)  Both Nephew & his wife love to hold the little guy when he comes to visit. Would-be Grandpa BIL keeps grumbling, "Hurry up!!" to them.

"Dad," Nephew reportedly told him a little while ago, "we really want to have a baby... but how can we, right now?"  His wife recently lost her job and is currently unemployed;  he's in a trade and making some good money -- but that's a relative thing hereabouts, where two salaries are pretty much mandatory to make ends meet, and the cost of housing is astronomical (nevermind all the other associated costs of living).  They live with their dog, rent-free. in a tiny apartment that BIL carved out of his basement for them, trying to save enough money to afford a down payment on, if not a house, then perhaps a starter condo (which can still go for $400,000+ around here).   

I would love to be a great-aunt, of course. :)  (Our nephews grew up way, way too fast...!)  Dh is chomping at the bit to be a great-uncle, too -- and has dropped some hints in that vein.

But I have vowed that our nephews & their brides will never get any pressure on that subject from me. I remember only too well the hints & nudge-nudges and raised-eyebrow enquiries that started as soon as we got back from our honeymoon. It was hard enough to deal with then, when we assumed we would be parents someday, at a time of our choosing.  It became excruciating once it dawned on us that parenthood might not be a given after all...

I also remember, only too well, what it was like to be young, newly married and completely, utterly broke -- wanting babies, yes, but knowing full well that we simply couldn't afford one at that point of our lives. You hear a lot these days about the millennial generation & how they are having a difficult time launching into adulthood -- but things weren't exactly easy when dh & I came out of university in the early 1980s either.  Unemployment and inflation rates were both very high; at one point, mortgage rates were a sky-high 21%.  (I knew several guys who were engineering students when I was at university. I remember hearing that, going in, there were three jobs for every engineering graduate. By the time they graduated four years later, though, there were three graduates for every available engineering job.)

Unlike our nephews, dh & I didn't have the advantage of living for free in our parents' basements.  (For one thing, it was simply a lot less common/acceptable back then to live with your parents after you finished school, whether you were single or married.) I was unemployed for the first six months after our wedding (and didn't make a heck of a lot of money once I did find a job);  dh left his salaried job with an insurance company for a trainee position with a brokerage company (salaried at first but eventually completely commissioned). To the horror of his relatives, we spent the first five years of our marriage paying rent on an apartment.  Buying a house as newlyweds was simply not in the cards -- and, shortly after we were married, the local housing market took off like a rocket. Even when FIL helpfully stepped in with some down payment assistance, it took us five years before we were making enough money to handle the monthly payments (at 11.75% interest -- and that was at a discount, because I worked for a bank). And even after we got the house, there were the mortgage payments, and other expenses related to owning a house, and the 10-12 hour workdays and 2-3 hours of daily commuting -- and prospective daycare costs. (Maternity leave was just 9 months back then, and only the first few weeks were paid.)  I knew that I was on my own as far as family help & support went -- my mother-in-law died before I met her, & my own mother was 1,000 miles away. And so we procrastinated, and postponed, and delayed...

Part of me thinks maybe I should speak up, warn them, tell them there's never a perfect time to start a family, that time (those fertile years) slips away much faster than you might think.

But I think they know that. After all (unlike me & dh), they have a cautionary tale right in front of them: us.  :p

So for now, I'm continuing to keep my mouth shut. (They get enough hints from other people aruond them as it is, anyway.)  But looking forward to the day -- hopefully not TOO many years down the road -- when I can happily and whole-heartedly go nuts with my credit card in the baby shops. ;)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current"):

Reading:  To date, just one book completed towards my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  :p  But I am hoping to increase that total soon!  

I am currently midway through (and quite absorbed in) "Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder" by Caroline Fraser, which was on several "Best of 2017" lists, including The New York Times. 

Still planning to finish Jann Arden's new book, "Feeding My Mother" and  "It's All Relative: Adventures Up & Down the World's Family Tree" by A.J. Jacobs. (Eventually... ;)  ) 

My sister recently procured a e-copy of "Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff for me ;) and I recently purchased David Frum's "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Empire."  And there's a new Flavia de Luce mystery ("The Grave's a Fine and Private Place") by Alan Bradley due out this week!  

Watching:  Hugely enjoying season 2 of "Victoria" on PBS! 

Coming up: two solid weeks of the Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, Korea. :)  

And, after that, the return of "Designated Survivor" (which hasn't been on since a mid-season cliffhanger back in November). I find my interest in this one has dropped sharply -- too many ridiculous plots & subplots, many of which get dropped just as they start getting interesting -- but I will probably keep watching, just to see how things turn out. I like Kiefer Sutherland, and Maggie Q rocks as Agent Wells. :) 

One show we've been enjoying that I don't think I've mentioned in past posts:  Dh & I have been fans of "The Big Bang Theory" right from the beginning, and when I heard they were doing a "Young Sheldon" spinoff, I wasn't sure I was going to like it --  but it's actually turned out to be a very sweet little show. A little more of a traditional family sitcom than TBBT (very different tone) -- but good in its own right. I did not realize until just recently that Zoe Perry, who plays Young Sheldon's mom, is the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalfe, who plays Sheldon's mom on TBBT!  

On the big screen: this past month, we've seen three movies at the theatre, all of them really, really good: "Star Wars: The Last Jedi,"  "The Post" and "Darkest Hour."  

Listening:  To... nothing in particular lately...   

Following:  Progress on the townhouse construction project behind us.  Framing work continues;  I'd say about half of the 59 units are now visible as actual townshouses in some form. We recently saw two units listed for (re)sale (already??) online. One listing says it will be ready for occupancy in February 2018 (HAHAHAHAHAHA.....) (there's been progress, but not THAT much progress...!.  The other says June 2018, which seems somewhat more likely, although I'm thinking late summer/fall would be a better guess. 

Feeling:  Sick & tired of winter (and it's far from over yet...!).  :p  Welcome to February, my least-favourite month... and January was long & dreary enough as it was... 

Eating:  Latest thing: Miniature/baby potatos, skins on, cut in half, tossed in a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with salt &/or garlic powder & then roasted on a foil-covered pan in the oven, to be served alongside whatever else we're having. (You could probably add in some chopped-up veggies too.)  Generally, 20-30 minutes at 375-400F or so does the trick. Yum!      

Wearing:  A long-sleeved T-shirt from American Eagle, which I picked up in the after-Christmas sales for $10:  dark mauvey-pink and incredibly soft, cozy fabric, with the words "ROCK STAR" on it in big bold black letters, lol.  Perfect with yoga pants for hanging around the house on a cold winter's day! 

Buying (besides books, lol):  New makeup, in preparation for Younger Nephew's upcoming wedding. When I was getting ready for his fiancee's recent bridal shower, I realized I needed some new foundation & concealer -- because what I had was either separating a bit (the foundation -- the expiry date on the bottle was two years ago...!) or drying up (the concealer). It was the same stuff I'd had when I was still working (i.e., at least four years old). Clearly I am not using up my makeup as fast as I did when I was working and wearing it every day (even then, I didn't always use it up). 

So off to the Clinique counter I went... and I will probably be back again before the wedding for a few more things. I kind of hate to spend so much money on stuff that I am not going to use up before it gets old (they should sell sample sizes -- less wasteful) -- but I also hate to start experimenting with cheaper brands at this point in my life.  I've used mostly Clinique (& some Estee Lauder) skin care products & cosmetics for years and they've always worked well for me. I threw out a lot of my older makeup when I lost my job, and again when we moved -- and then again after the shower (clearly, I needed to do it again...) -- but I still have an embarrassing amount of stuff. Most makeup doesn't come with an expiry date, so I've started labelling any new stuff I get with the date I got it (month/year, or at least year) to help me decide what needs culling when. 

Trying:  Not to fret over stupid stuff that's mostly beyond my control anyway (which I've been doing more again lately -- not sure why...?).

Wanting:  To turn off my overactive brain for a while. :p    

Loving:  Cabin fever aside, I do love being cozy at home while the snow falls outside our big floor-to-ceiling windows.  :) 

Enduring:  Yet ANOTHER visit from Aunt Flo -- this time after just 28 days (previous absence was a record 146). I've never been a 28-day cycle girl in my life... and she decides to start NOW, when I'm 57 frickin' years old??!!  :p  GO. AWAY.  :p     

Hoping: That Yahoo Groups will fix whatever gremlin has been screwing up their operations lately, pronto... several of my groups are having difficulties. Activity has been sporadic, although not for lack of posting on our part... The messages that we try to send/post disappear into the ether, sometimes permanently, sometimes resurfacing days later. VERY frustrating! 

Dreading:  The launch of another "anniversary" cycle -- this time marking TWENTY YEARS -- on February 8, which was my LMP date for my pregnancy with Katie in 1998 -- the visit from Aunt Flo that kickstarted everything that led me down this road less travelled to where I am today...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

"Darkest Hour" (& coldest!)

Dh & I went to see "Darkest Hour" Sunday afternoon -- about Winston Churchill during a few critical weeks in May 1940, between when he became prime minister of Great Britain and rallied his country to bring home the troops that had been stranded on the beaches at Dunkirk in France as the Nazis ran amok through Europe. The movie had already been & gone at the local multiplex, but happily was still playing at another multiplex about a 20-minute drive away.

UNhappily, when we arrived at the theatre, we were informed -- both by posted signs and by the ticket seller -- that several of the theatres, including ours, had NO HEAT.

"Ummm.... how cold IS it in there?" I asked.

"It's pretty cold," she said, but added, "Of course, everyone's tolerance level is different. You have 45 minutes to ask for your money back if you find it too uncomfortable."

We bought the tickets, bought our popcorn & went inside.

OK, it WAS a bit chilly. On the bright side, the weather has been slightly milder yesterday -- temperatures on Saturday were around the 8C mark (40sF), and just below 0C (32F) overnight -- so it wasn't as cold in there as it might have been. I was wearing a cozy sweater and a down-filled jacket, which I kept on (& zipped up). Eventually, though, my feet started getting cold, and my hands (even when I sat on them or tucked them inside my jacket pocket)(after finishing my popcorn, of course ;) ).  But it wasn't really cold enough to make me want to give up & leave.

Besides, we weren't the only people in the theatre -- and in fact, we were probably among the youngest, if not THE youngest there. We watched in amazement as two elderly ladies who looked to be in their 80s, one hobbling along with a cane, entered the theatre -- and then proceeded to navigate up the stairs, one step after another. Dh & I were sitting in about the 6th row up;  they wound up sitting right behind us. :) THEY weren't going anywhere (neither was anyone else); how could WE cut & run??  (The lady with the cane spoke with a British accent;  at the end of the movie, I heard her say, "I remember Dunkirk like it was yesterday!")

And we didn't WANT to leave. We'd been wanting to see this movie -- and it did not disappoint. I knew a fair bit of the history involved, but I still learned a lot. Gary Oldman (whom I always think of as Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols in "Sid & Nancy"!!) is amazing as Churchill, & completely deserving of the Oscar nomination he just got.

It was worth the chilly feet and icy hands. ;)

Monday, January 29, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: A reader's lament

Reasons/excuses why I haven't been reading as many books as I used to (even though I theoretically have all this free time because I don't have kids, right??):
  • The Internet. (I suppose I could just stop the list right there, right??)  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs & news articles online -- they all take up time that I once spent reading books, pre-Internet. 
  • Indecision. I have SO MANY books in my TBR pile -- books that I WANT to read (FINDING books to read is NOT my problem!!) -- but which to read first??  I go from one to another to another, and wind up getting nothing read at all. Sigh... 
  • I start one book, then another book comes along to grab my attention, so I put down the first book & start another one, and so on. I currently have at least four books that I've started but haven't yet finished. (I WANT to finish them... I INTEND to finish them... someday...) 
Things that help me read more books:
  • Vacations. For whatever reason, I find vacations more conducive to reading, even when I have a laptop/cellphone at hand to distract me. (Fewer of the usual things to do around the house, I guess...) 
  • Heading to bed earlier, but turning off my phone & then staying up to read a book for a while. 
  • Bringing a book or my e-reader with me when I'm on transit or going to an appointment, so that I have something  (other than my phone) to read while I'm waiting. 
  • Just diving in immediately when I get a new book. Sometimes I do get so absorbed that I don't get distracted by other things to read. ;)  
  • Trying to get the book read before going to see the movie. (This doesn't always work -- sometimes I have to just go see the movie, or it'll be gone before I get the book read. But it's an incentive to read, because I find the book is almost always better. Plus it usually includes way more information that helps me understand the movie better when I see it.)  
  • Belonging to online book clubs/discussion groups. (I imagine that would go for real-life book clubs too, if I could find one to join...!) I'm not always interested in every selection -- but knowing that we'll be discussing a certain book on a certain date is incentive to get it read. And I've discovered some great new books/authors this way, too!  
  • Joining the Goodreads Reading Challenge, as well as reviewing all the books I read & updating my tally of books read during the year here on my blog. It reminds me when I'm on track to meet my goal (or not).  
  • (I've never tried audiobooks, but I know some people swear by them, especially if they spend a lot of time in the car.)  
What are your strategies/tips for reading more books? 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

A partial view of my book collection
(considerably downsized since we moved two years ago).
(I have four IKEA bookcases along one wall of our spare bedroom/office --
three full-sized and one half-sized.)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Pinterest find

Oooh, I think I need to get one of these (or one like it)....

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Great viewing from The NotMom Summit

If, like me, you weren't able to get to Cleveland last October for The NotMom conference (and have been kicking yourself ever since...), some good news!  :)  The two keynote presentations by Marcia Drut-Davis (representing the childfree by choice segment of the NotMom community) and Jody Day of Gateway Women (childless not by choice) are now available to view on YouTube -- in full (with Q&As) as well as excerpts.

I have not yet watched Marcia's presentation, but I watched Jody's speech earlier today. and I encourage you to carve out some time to watch, too. It's an hour & 10 minutes (40-45 minutes talk & a half hour of Q&As) very well spent! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Gallery of memories

Mali's post about missing visits to the art gallery made me think about my own relationship to them. I have very little real artistic ability in terms of drawing & painting, etc. I don't remember art class being offered in school once I got beyond junior high and, growing up in small towns no closer than about 50 miles from the nearest city, art galleries weren't something I grew up visiting. (Museums, both large and small, were something we frequented more often.)

The first time I remember visiting an art gallery was when I was about 17. The Winnipeg Art Gallery was hosting a rare touring exhibit from the Hermitage in Russia -- this was in the late 1970s, peak Cold War years -- and one of my artistic friends was keen to go, so she, her sisters, mine & I all went. There were lots of Old Masters, names we'd only ever heard from books, and it was a pretty impressive experience.

As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate art & art galleries more. Living in Toronto, I've been to the Art Gallery of Ontario several times, usually when there's been an interesting exhibit on. (They will soon be hosting the Infinity Mirrors exhibit that Mel wrote about a while back.) I especially enjoy their collection of Group of Seven works, and they had an Emily Carr exhibit a few years ago that I quite enjoyed.

For some reason, I have known about the McMichael Canadian Art Collection since I was a kid. I think I saw a documentary about it on CBC television, and I was enchanted by the idea of a log house out in the country transformed into an art gallery. Since I moved to the Toronto area, I would see stories about it from time to time in the local media. Dh & I finally took a day off & went to see it one fall day at least 10-20 years ago, and we both really enjoyed the experience.

As I've mentioned in some previous posts, we now live within an easy drive of the McMichael. Last year, I decided to take out a membership, and I am so glad I did. Two visits per year, and the membership pays for itself. We've already been there several times to view new exhibits, attend lectures, and just stroll around the lovely grounds (the fall colours, in particular, can be spectacular). 

It occurred to me, as I was writing a comment on Mali's post (which currently seems to be languishing in moderation...! ;)  ), that Robert & Signe McMichael, the couple who generously donated their beautiful property & art collection to the people of Ontario (which became the McMichael Canadian Art Collection), did not have any children. I did some Googling and found Robert McMichael's obituary, which does not mention any offspring among his surviving family. (I also learned that Signe McMichael used to personally greet groups of schoolchildren visiting the gallery.)

But what a legacy!

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Different realities

Dh & I were at a local mall yesterday, and there were signs in the parking garage, reminding drivers to lock their cars, check the back seat, etc. 

"They have to remind you not to forget your kid in the back seat??" dh remarked.  

"Well, it could be that,"  I acknowledged (we've all heard the tragic stories of babies & toddlers accidentally left strapped in car seats in cars on hot summer days...), but then I added, "but it could also be a reminder to, you know, check when you return to make sure nobody is hiding out there, waiting for you." 

HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF THIS. Like, it had never occurred to him. EVER.   

I said, "Seriously??!" 

I think every woman old enough to drive has had this drummed into her head ad nauseum, don't you?  

It just drove home to me (certainly not for the first time) how men and women live in completely different realities sometimes...  

(I don't suppose he's ever walked through a dark street with his keys interlaced between his fingers either...?)  

Have you ever had any moments like this, when you realized what different realities men & women sometimes inhabit? 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"How soon is too soon?"

There was an interesting article in the Globe & Mail recently that posed the question "How soon is too soon?"  Apparently comedian Patton Oswalt is coming under fire for getting engaged (and then remarrying) a little more than a year after the sudden death of his wife at age 46.

There doesn't appear to be a concrete answer to the "how soon?" question, but if you cross that line, you'll probably hear about it...!

And yet... I keep thinking the people who are crying "too soon!" about adults acquiring a new partner/spouse are probably the very same people who would tell parents who have just suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, "You can always have another baby" or "The best thing you can do is to get back on the horse (!) & have another baby as soon as possible."  (This used to be -- and might still be, for all I know -- common post-loss advice from doctors, nevermind your mother or best friend or neighbour.)  Right?


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"The Tall Stranger" by D.E. Stevenson

Yay, I finished my first book of 2018!  :)   And what better way to ease my way into a new year of reading than with a new (to me) novel by one of my favourite authors, the ever-reliable D.E. Stevenson.  

I've read & reviewed several Stevenson books on this blog before. Until her death in 1973, DES, a distant cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote charming light romances featuring well-drawn characters (with strong females being a specialty) and lively dialogue, often set in the vividly described Scottish border country. I loved reading her books during my teenage years, and I was happy to rediscover her a few years ago:  some  of her books have recently been reissued in print, e-book and audiobook formats (alas, not all -- yet!!), and there is a Yahoo group devoted to reading, discussing and promoting her work.  

Our group's current discussion is focusing on "The Tall Stranger," originally published in 1957. We already met two of the main characters previously in "Five Windows," and there is a visit to Ryddelton in the Scottish border country, the setting of  several other DES books.  

("The Tall Stranger" is currently out of print but, thanks to the Internet, I was able to source a slightly musty used copy at a (relatively) reasonable price -- although the shipping -- all the way from New Zealand, as it turned out! -- cost as much as the book itself...!)  

The plot of "The Tall Stranger" is predictable in some ways, but the characters are so well drawn & the story moves along so easily, it's forgiveable.  Successful interior designer Barbie France is laid low, mentally & physically, by illness, so her roommate and best friend Nell arranges to send her to her Aunt Amalie's home to recuperate. While there, she has her teacup read and is told to beware a tall stranger -- perhaps Henry Buckland, whom she meets at a friend's wedding?    

ALI notes: Adoption, loss & infertility matters are not major plot points, but do figure somewhat prominently in this book.  Barbie's Aunt Amalie is a childless widow who raised both Barbie (daughter of her late brother) and Edward, the son of her late husband, as her own (and secretly hopes they will marry someday).  There's Agnes, a neglected waif who lives with her flighty mother, Glore, across the hall from Barbie and Nell. (Much as I disliked Glore and the way she (mis)treated her daughter, I also found it somewhat jarring how blithely Barbie & Nell assume they could easily arrange to have Agnes removed from her mother's custody and adopted. Oh, the innocence of the 1950s...!)  And there's Bet, who claims to have a mysterious (imaginary?) playmate named Rose Ann. 

This was the first book (#1) that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 4% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am -- so far!! ;)  -- on track to meet my goal.  :)  

Monday, January 15, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Heinz 57

Last Friday was my (BIG GULP) 57th birthday.  And like the Heinz 57 of my post title ;)  my emotions are mixed about turning another year older. Perhaps because I'm rapidly approaching the 20-year mark since my one & only pregnancy (LMP date February 8, 1998), cut short by stillbirth 26 weeks later in August.

Twenty years is a frickin' long time. My daughter, had she been here, would be 19 going on 20, and no doubt in university or college.  Her peers -- the babies & toddlers of my friends and cousins and coworkers -- are now grown up, or at least teenagers, and many of them are having kids of their own now too.  There is so much that dh & I have missed out on -- although the reminders don't seem to come as thick and fast as they once did. (But when they do, they can still hurt...)

There's no getting around the fact that 57 years represents a big chunk of time that has passed since I made my debut on this earth. There are days when I feel every bit of my age. (In my knees, in particular...!)  My hair is getting greyer (although my YOUNGER sister still has more grey hair than I do -- a fact that gives me some comfort, lol) -- the fine lines around my eyes are getting more noticeable. I don't bounce back from colds, or from one too many glasses of wine ;) , or from late nights, as quickly as I did when I was in my 20s.

But as my wonderful grandma used to joke about birthdays, "Consider the alternative...!"  As the saying goes, old age is a privilege that is denied to many. I think about our hairdresser N., who died last fall at 55;  the mother-in-law I never met, who died at 53;  and so many others who, even if they had kids, never got to see them marry or hold their grandchildren. 

Aging -- with or without children -- isn't always fun. But on balance, I'm glad to be here. :) 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Worlds collide

This past weekend, while I was watching television and aimlessly scrolling through Facebook on my cellphone, my cousin shared a photo on my timeline, without explanation. It was of a middle-aged guy, grinning directly at me through the camera.

My first thought (which I typed out as a comment) was "Am I supposed to know this person?"  He looked vaguely familiar, and my first thought was that it was possibly another distant relative of ours. I found myself focusing on the university sports team shirt he was wearing, and trying to figure out how both my cousin & I would happen to know a person from that geographic area.

Then it all clicked.

I DID know this guy. I went to high school with him, some (mega-gulp...) 40 years ago now...! What's more, I knew/know his wife, from an even earlier part of my life in yet another town. We all wound up at the same university residence together, & I watched in bemusement as these two people from totally different parts of my life struck up a romance. Several years later, they showed up, married, at my 10-year high school reunion. It turned out they were living in the same town/area where my aunt & a couple of my cousins lived (and still do). It's a pretty small place and I kind of figured they all probably knew each other. 

So it wasn't all that surprising that they would eventually wind up at a party together and figure out they had me in common. Still, it was a weird feeling when it finally happened.  I tried to imagine how the conversation unfolded that led to my name entering the picture, and what they told each other about me (!). ;)  My classmate is a good guy, one of those people that everyone liked. We just moved in different circles and never really had much to say to each other.  (You know what high school can be like...!)

Naturally, I wound up creeping both his and his wife's Facebook pages ;) and while most of their information is private, I saw enough to figure out that they have two grown-up kids -- including a daughter who appears to be exactly the same age that my Katie would have been.

Of course. :p  Ouch. :(

The world is a smaller place than we think sometimes, and smaller still since the advent of the Internet. For the longest time, I was used to living a life that was divided into neat, separate little compartments. There were all the different places where I lived, growing up and going to school.  There was my life at university and my life at grad school. (People who had only known me in high school and encountered me at a university party were shocked to find out that I could actually be kind of fun...!).  After school, there was my life at work, and the people who knew me there. There's my family, 1,000+ miles away, and dh's family closer by (and within those categories, various sub-categories:  my mom's side, my dad's side, his mom's side, etc. etc.).  There's my public identity -- a middle-aged retired woman without children or grandchildren -- and my private identity as a bereaved childless mother, which has flourished under pseudonyms in various outlets on the Internet over the past 20 years. Each compartment comes with its own cast of characters and presumably its own perceptions of me, and seldom the twain has met.

Or did. The advent of the Internet, and social media in particular, has brought together the various strands of my life in sometimes weird and sometimes wonderful ways.

For example, for a long time, I resisted accepting Facebook friend requests from coworkers -- and blurring the lines between my personal and professional lives. Eventually I did accept a request from a former coworker. And of course, it wasn't long before I realized that we had a friend in common -- a woman who had attended our pg loss support group. Eventually, of course, my coworker friend noticed too and asked how I knew this other woman. (They had known each other for years and played and coached soccer together.)  Gulp. So I told her. She was shocked, of course, and practically in tears over it the next time we met for lunch.  We hadn't started working together until a couple of years post-Katie... then she got pregnant.  Bringing up the subject of my own failed pregnancy seemed like rather poor taste, and obviously nobody else had ever mentioned it to her (turnover being what it is, many of them probably didn't know either), so she had no idea I had lost a child.

Once, two of my friends -- one from high school, one another former coworker -- started a somewhat heated debate on FB. I suddenly realized that they (plus yet ANOTHER friend who wasn't involved in the conversation) actually had something in common: all three of their mothers came from the same very small rural town (I knew that at least two of the moms knew each other).  One way to change the topic in a hurry. ;)   

Some people are used to this, of course:  they have lived in the same small town for all or most of their life, where everyone knows everyone and half the town is related to each other.  Even in a big metropolitan area like this one, it's not that hard to figure out that you have mutual acquaintances. For example, dh quickly figured out that he'd once worked with the sister of the woman who co-facilitated our support group with us. Another support group example: not only did one client's parents live just down the street from FIL & stepMIL, they all frequented the same social club. The sister of one of dh's coworkers on FB is FB friends with one of his cousins. And on & on it goes... The Internet has just made it faster & easier to figure out those connections.

I will admit that I haven't always liked it when the different parts of my world collide... but that's the way of the world, it seems...

How about you? Have you ever had your worlds collide like this? 

Monday, January 8, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Some annoying things

  • Missing the last several #MicroblogMondays due to Christmastime busy-ness and not being organized or inspired enough to write some posts in advance. 
  • Not being able to go outside without donning a heavy coat, scarf, hat, gloves and klunky boots. :p  (And then tracking melting snow & salt onto the tiles of our condo's entryway.) 
  • Ice buildup in the corners of all the windows.  
  • Getting a bad cold on Boxing Day, and having it drag on... and on... and on... (I still have it, although I did start feeling a lot better late last week).   
  • (REALLY annoying thing:)  Dealing with a visit from Aunt Flo at the same time (after an absence of 146 days, just two weeks out from my 57th (!!) birthday). 
  • Going to the movies & finding that most of the people at the ticket purchase counter have been replaced by automated kiosks that require a debit or credit card. (Naturally, that's just made the lineups for the one or two humans who are still working at the counter that much longer...). 
  • Knowing we have to wait at least another year to see the next Star Wars movie. :(  
  • People who stand in the aisles of the supermarket &/or pharmacy chatting on their phones or to someone with them (right in front of the section where you need to get something, of course...), completely oblivious as you try to maneuver (sp?) around them. 
  • Having too many current & upcoming expenses and obligations to escape the winter to a sun destination, even for a week. :( 
  • Seeing photos on social media of all your friends & relatives who have done it.  :p  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current"):

Reading:  I ended 2017 without reaching my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books. I read just 17, or 71% of my targeted 24. Just before Christmas, I started reading Jann Arden's new book, "Feeding My Mother," which is based on her social media posts about dealing with her mother's Alzheimer's disease. It didn't seem quite the thing to be reading while visiting my aging parents, though...!  so I picked up "It's All Relative:  Adventures Up & Down the World's Family Tree" by A.J. Jacobs. It's about his efforts to host the world's biggest family reunion, based on the premise that we are all cousins -- right up my alley, right?  But my Christmas holiday was busier than I had planned, and I am still wading my way through it. Hoping to do better in 2018! 

Watching:  I plowed through all 10 episodes of season 2 of "The Crown" on Netflix before Christmas holidays, and thoroughly enjoyed it. :)  Looking forward to season 2 of "Victoria" on PBS, which starts Jan. 14th!  And both the U.S. and Canadian figure skating championships are coming up over the next few weekends... 

Listening:  To the whirring of our humidifier... We bought it when we first moved in here, because (in the dying days of winter), we found our new condo incredibly dry. (The house had been dry too, but we'd invested in a drum humidifier that was attached to our furnace -- not an option here.)  Also, we'd just invested in some expensive new furniture, and had been advised to maintain humidity levels at an optimum 40-50%.  Despite the promise of "quiet technology" on the box, I found the new humidifier pretty noisy, even on the lowest setting. And once summer arrived, the humidity in here rose naturally, so we put the humidifier away. But it's winter again, and the humidity in our condo was just 21% when we got back from Christmas holidays, so I dusted off the humidifier this weekend & we've been running it on & off since then. So far, the highest we've managed to boost the humidity has been to 38% (and that was after cooking). Progress? 

Eating:  Dh & I recently discovered President's Choice vegetable spring rolls at our local supermarket.  We try to limit them to a once-a-week treat for lunch.  ;)    

Wearing:  Sweatshirts with my yoga pants, since the cold temperatures kicked in -- warmer and cozier than T-shirts (even the long-sleeved variety). (And slippers as well as socks -- the laminate floors in our condo are lovely, but they can also get COLD!!)  I bought a couple of sweatshirts from the Gap last year that I really like -- soft, comfortable fabric, nice colours (love the blue in particular). The only thing I don't like about them is they started pilling after just a couple of washes. I did get them relatively cheap on sale -- but the Gap generally is not cheap & you would expect better quality for the prices. :p  

Buying (besides books, lol):  I will be shopping for a new essential oils diffuser this week. Ours conked out just before we left for Christmas vacation. I'm a little annoyed, since it was only a little over a year old, and we didn't use it at all during the more humid summer months. I've been surprised at how much I've enjoyed it -- essential oils always seemed a little "woo-woo" to me, and while I'm still somewhat skeptical of all the claims made by about how they can cure this or that condition or improve your health, etc.,they do smell nice, certainly much better than synthetic commercial scent products.

Wanting:  A manicure/pedicure... it's been a while since my last salon visit!  And it's still a while yet until Younger Nephew's wedding -- I will definitely be getting it done then... 

Experimenting:  Just before we went home for Christmas, I had my eyebrows waxed and tinted at the Benefit Brow Bar at a local Sephora. I've been waxing my brows on & off for years, since I was in my teens, and it's gotten so that they don't really need much shaping anymore -- just clearing up the underbrush at bit. In fact, my left brow has started getting alarmingly scant -- one of the hazards of aging, I'm told. That alone wouldn't be so bad, but my eyebrows, like the hair above them, are turning GREY. Which makes it look like they are even thinner and more sparse than they really are.  I have learned to embrace my grey hair, but grey eyebrows? That's where I draw the line, lol.

So I decided to cough up the extra money and try tinting my brows as well as cleaning them up. I was pretty pleased with the results. I can't generate extra hair, but adding some colour to the hair that is there does help some, and I can enhance that with a pencil or powder when I feel the need (although I dislike the very heavy drawn-on look that seems to be so popular right now -- the girl who did my brows finished then off with powder and it was way too much, IMHO. I took it off as soon as I got home). 

The tint is semi-permanent and should last for a couple of months. I'm going to do it again a few weeks before Younger Nephew's wedding this spring. 

Loving: All the bright sunshine we've been getting lately -- if not the very cold temperatures that have come along with it...!  (Reminds me of home! -- i.e., the Canadian Prairies, where I grew up!) 

Enduring:  Yet another visit from Aunt Flo, after an absence of 146 days. (At least she had the grace to wait until after Christmas to show up...!) Back to square one in terms of counting down to menopause... (with my 57th birthday coming up shortly...!)   

Feeling:  CRAPPY (but gradually starting to improve), after coming down with a nasty cold on Boxing Day. :p  Plus enduring Aunt Flo at the same time...!) 

Admiring: Our Christmas tree -- and trying to decide when we should take it down for another year.  As I mentioned in a previous post, because of my heritage, I feel like I COULD keep it up until Ukrainian Christmas (Jan. 6th-7th)  or even as late as St. Knut's Day on Jan. 13th. But we will probably take it down before the weekend. 

Contemplating: The blank pages of my Filofax and wondering what events will fill its pages in 2018... 

Considering: What I want to do on my birthday (coming up shortly....). 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Blogging year in review & favourite posts of 2017

(A hat tip to Mali, whose post "2016: Looking back on the blog" inspired me to do the same last year.  Also to Mel, whose Crème de la Crème lists from 2007 to 2012 prompted me & other bloggers to review our posts from the year past & pick out our favourites to share.  (There was a list in 2006 too, but that was before I started my blog.)  If the Crème de la Crème list still existed, one of these posts would probably be the one I would have submitted. :) )

*** *** *** 

As I mentioned in my 2017 year in review post, I published 138 posts last year. In addition to posts about childless/free issues, I tried to do a "Right now" or "The Current" post every month or so, and participated in 44 #MicroblogMondays.  I reviewed all of the 17 books I read in 2017, and wrote about news items (usually ALI-related) that piqued my interest.  I also wrote a lot about what was going on my life, some of which touched on aspects of ALI/childless/free living and some that didn't, including aging, (peri)menopause (and Aunt Flo's continuing appearances!), retirement and life in a condo. 

Here are a few of my favourite 2017 posts:  

And in a nod to my 10th (!) blogoversary: