Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The old order changeth... :(

I stopped in my tracks when someone shared this headline (from the New York Post) on Facebook today: "People’s print magazine faces possible closure amid newsroom chaos: sources."

I suppose it's not entirely surprising... it's (sadly) the way of the world these days, isn't it? :( But I remember when People magazine first began in the mid-1970s. It was a trailblazer that quickly became iconic. I'll admit I haven't read it much lately -- mainly because I don't recognize half the people on its covers any more (!), and I don't like the way it seem to have gone "tabloid" in its look and headlines in recent years. But I ALWAYS bought the year-end issue to read on the plane to Manitoba at Christmastime.

Then I read the article. And had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I saw this [emphasis mine]:
Staffers at People — a 48-year-old fixture in grocery checkout lines, beauty salons and doctor’s offices known for its “Sexiest Man Alive” cover — are bracing for the magazine to go online-only after Dotdash Meredith, a unit of billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC, shuttered a slew of print publications, sources close to the situation said. Those include Entertainment Weekly and the fashion glossy InStyle, which once oozed profit and was thick with advertising pages.

I've been a loyal Entertainment Weekly reader right from the very first issue in 1990 (and I still have that one in a plastic bin in our storage locker -- one of the few old magazines I'd saved that survived the pre-condo move purge). I've mentioned it on this blog and sung its praises here many times over the years -- here in particular, in a list of my favourite things. EW was the one magazine I never wanted to miss an issue of (and I rarely did!). I used to pick up the latest weekly edition (at lunchtime on Thursdays, when all the new magazines would hit the newsstand in the concourse of the downtown office tower where I worked) and then devour it on the commuter train ride home that night. Once I lost my job and stopped working downtown, I couldn't always find it out in the suburbs (or at least easily, or in a timely way), so I became a subscriber to make sure I didn't miss an issue. (I did away with many of my magazine subscriptions as a cost-cutting measure when I lost my job and wasn't certain how this retirement thing might work out, financially -- EW is the only new one I think I actually added!) It's lost that "must read NOW" status since it cut back to a monthly publication a few years ago (and I guess the writing was on the wall then...), but I still enjoy it. (Enjoyed.) Sigh. :(

Apparently this announcement happened back in February -- but needless to say, it came as news to me. I'm a subscriber to the print version of EW, and I have received absolutely NO notification this was happening (let alone any refunds on any remaining issues in my subscription...!). There is no mention of it on the EW website (unless you hit the "subscribe" button -- then you get a notification that an Entertainment Weekly magazine subscription is "No Longer Available." When I logged into the website and hit "Manage my Subscription" under my profile, I was sent to a page that said:
Unfortunately this title is no longer being published, so there have been some changes made to the site you are trying to reach. If you have any questions about your subscription, or you would like to cancel and receive a refund — please find the email address that correlates with your subscription title below to send a message with your request. Note: Please make sure to include your billing address in your message.
I did receive an issue for April (which I haven't read yet), and apparently that is the final one. :(
I did a bit of Googling and found an article from another subscriber who's less than enthralled about the lack of communication from the publisher. (Apparently there is a mention of the demise of the print edition in the April issue -- buried within a story that's buried way in the back of the magazine.)
The only clue that Entertainment Weekly was pulling the plug on the printing press was buried deep in a story in the back one-third of the April issue, a nostalgic look at magazine covers since the debut edition, which featured the visage of musician k.d. lang (lack of capitalization of a proper name her idea, not mine).
After pontificating about the “seismic changes” in the entertainment industry resulting from new technologies, the two-paragraph kiss-off to subscribers included this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bombshell: “But oh, did we have fun — and we’ll continue to, as the brand moves fully online after this final print issue.”
This is the point at which I spat coffee out of my mouth, stammering like the Frank Constanza from “Seinfeld.” Wait? What! Why? Say it isn’t so. And I am now able to report that the worst part of waking up is Folger’s on your crotch."
As of April 2nd, he'd requested a refund, but had yet to receive one.

He echoed many of my own reasons for loving the magazine:
Over the years, the magazine helped me keep up-to-date on pop culture and my thumb on the pulse of the zeitgeist (a word I first saw in Entertainment Weekly, and had to go look it up…in an actual dictionary, rather than simply Google it). At local brewery trivia nights, I would often surprise and impress my teammates with answers to questions about TV shows I had not watched, movies I had not seen, music I had not heard and books I had not read. The magazine’s insider information helped me win office Oscar pools [me too!] and pick winners of the Emmy and Grammy awards. And, as I became a parent of young children, it gave valuable advice on what entertainment products were suitable for certain age groups. [Not applicable here, obviously, but I thought it was a valuable feature for people with kids.]

Benjamin Svetky, a former EW writer, also sang the praises of EW and its impact in an obituary/appreciation for the magazine that's worth reading. (Closing quote: "EW’s final grade? That’d be an A.")

Among the other print magazines shuttered at the same time as EW:  InStyle (which I also used to enjoy occasionally), and Parents, which has been around since 1926!  

I still subscribe to Creative Scrapbooker, a Canadian-based scrapbooking magazine (talk about endangered species...! -- I went to the website to the get the link for this post, and was confronted with a headline demanding, "Hold it! Read it! Love it!" Yikes!), as well as Canadian Living and Style at Home (a Canadian home & design publication). I like to think I'm supporting homegrown, as well as the magazine industry generally. I will admit, I don't pounce on them to read immediately the way I once did, when they arrive in my mailbox. Too many other distractions these days...! But still...

Did/do you read EW and/or People? Do you still have any print magazine subscriptions?

Monday, May 16, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Now it makes sense...!

Now it makes sense!

As I mentioned in a post on Saturday, dh & I happily spent a few hours on Friday afternoon at Older Nephew's house, watching/entertaining/being entertained by Little Great-Nephew, while his mom had a job interview on Zoom. (She got the job!) 

Before we went, BIL told dh that Older Nephew wanted us to stay for dinner -- I think he was planning to get takeout on his way home from work -- and several times, he reiterated, "Make sure you stay for dinner!"  

But by the time ON's wife finished her call, it was about 3:45 p.m., and Older Nephew wasn't due back home until after 5. Dh was tired after running around after LGN all afternoon in the early summer heat, and even though the wife reiterated the dinner invitation, he decided we should go. 

On our way back home, Older Nephew's Wife texted us she had been hired!... at the same time, BIL & SIL called us to tell us the same thing too. BIL also berated dh: "Why didn't you stay for dinner??" When he called to thank us, Older Nephew also asked why we hadn't stayed for dinner. Dh told him to put the money he would have spent on us into LGN's piggy bank. 

Saturday, dh tried calling BIL several times, at home and on his cellphone. No answer. BIL called him back later that evening. I don't know if their whereabouts was meant to be kept a secret -- but BIL can't keep a secret to save his life. ;) 

Turns out they'd been up at Older Nephew's house -- with Younger Nephew & his wife, Older Nephew's Wife's mother and her partner (and possibly her brother too), for a belated Mother's Day celebration. Also a belated 30th birthday celebration for both Older & Younger Nephews' wives (who were born on the same day, same year, and married brothers -- what are the odds, right?).  

THAT explains why they didn't do anything last weekend for the girls' birthdays or MDay (which I thought was rather odd), and also why BIL kept insisting we should stay for dinner at Older Nephew's on Friday night. He knew we weren't invited on Saturday, and he felt less guilty, thinking we'd be there to spend time with LGN and to have dinner the night before..! NOW it all makes sense. 

We don't expect to be invited/included all the time -- especially on an occasion like MDay. (Frankly, I'd prefer NOT to be around when parenthood is being celebrated! -- right?)  They deserve to have some time together as a family unit. When I think about it, it's the secrecy and tiptoeing around us that bothers me, more than not being invited/not being told honestly about what they were doing. 

It was just one of those awkward childless moments -- being the odd ones out, the only ones who don't have any other family around (not even my own family of origin), especially on "family" holidays. 

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

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Weekend odds & ends

  • Finally!! The thermometer cracked 20C on Tuesday afternoon, and headed into the mid/high 20s over the next few days. Dh & I went for our first gelatos of the season, and I pulled out my capris & sandals. (I haven't been for a pedicure since fall 2019, before covid, but I'm seriously tempted...)  The balcony door has been open for most of the day for the past several days. Finally!!!  
    • While it's been warm & pleasant, there wasn't any humidity for several days. On Thursday evening, after the balcony door had been open all day, the thermostat (showing the temperature inside our condo) read 79F (about 26C) -- but because the humidity was only about 30%, it was not at all uncomfortable.  
    • We did start getting some humidity on Friday, and turned on the air conditioning then. 
    • (Our weather forecasts and readings are in Celsius, but our thermostat is set to degrees Fahrenheit, as it has been my entire life. Which is to say, I'm a typical Canadian, especially of my generation, lol -- straddling both Imperial and metric systems!)   
    • The downside of having the balcony door open all day: (as I've complained here many times before) our next-door neighbour appears to be a cannabis addict. :p  We often see (& certainly smell) him smoking on their balcony, which is only a few feet away from ours. I smelled it no less than FIVE times in one day this week. It's one thing on a Saturday night, or even in the evening after supper or something like that -- but FIVE times (sometimes more) a day?? 
  • We got our fourth covid shots/second boosters on Wednesday afternoon (almost exactly 5 months after the last one), at the vaccine clinic attached to our family dr's office. Unlike the last time we went, we were the only ones there!  Dh asked the (very friendly, chatty) nurse if they'd been busy and she said it was pretty steady -- right up until the province dropped all the restrictions and mask mandates in March -- and then business fell off like a stone. She also works in a hospital ER and said none of the people coming in with covid have had their boosters. 
    • I'd had to pick a vaccine when registering for the appointments, so I put down Pfizer, since that's the last one we had -- but she said they had both in stock and we could have our pick. She said Moderna tends to build more antibodies and lasts longer, so we went with that again. (We had AstraZeneca for our first, Moderna for the second, Pfizer for the third and now Moderna again for the fourth!) I had a sore arm and was very tired/fatigued that night (but that could also be because we'd spent the morning chasing Little Great-Nephew around the park...! lol).  There was some arm soreness over the next few days, but that's entirely normal for me with any kind of shots. 
  • Sad news:  SIL is giving the puppy to her niece. :(  They're coming to get her this weekend. The puppy is a good, sweet little dog -- but, she's a puppy! -- and SIL admitted it's been just too much for her to handle, particularly on top of taking care of her grandson/our Little Great-Nephew. (But the niece's little boy -- SIL's great-nephew -- is thrilled!) 
  • We got to spend some extra time with Little Great-Nephew this week, in addition to our usual mid-week visit at his grandma's (SIL's) house:  his mom had a Zoom interview for a higher-paying job on Friday afternoon, so we drove up to their house (about an hour away) and spent two hours playing with LGN in the back yard while she got ready and had her interview. 
    • (She texted me as we were driving home -- they called her back, and she got the job! Not only does it pay more than her current job, she can work from home, which will mean big savings on gas, and will make it a little easier for her to juggle when LGN starts school (junior kindergarten) in the fall of 2023.) 
  • Yael Wolfe announced "I'm retiring from aunthood" on Medium. Food for thought, for both childless/free aunties (and uncles) and the parents of their nieces and nephews. You all know how much dh & I love being an uncle & aunt (and great-uncle and great-aunt) -- but I know not everyone's experience has been as happy as ours has been -- and yes, there have been times when the relationship has felt a bit one-sided... Sample quote: 
I have been anything but selfish. I have been selfless. For fifteen years. For other people’s children 

 Also this:  

I sit here writing this on Mother’s Day, my phone is pinging every few minutes. I’m not looking at it because I’m the only one in the group text thread who isn’t included in these Happy Mother’s Day messages. I’m the only one who doesn’t have kids. I’m the only one who doesn’t have presents to show everyone, like my sister’s new t-shirt, adorned with photos of the kids that says, “We love Mom!”

You know what? I want a t-shirt with their faces on it that says, “We love Auntie!” Yeah, I do. Selfish? Screw that. What have you done for your nieces and nephews lately? Wait until Aunt’s Day when it’s my turn? When’s that, honey? No, you can’t google it before you answer. If you don’t know the date off the top of your head, that shows you how little anyone cares about Aunt’s Day. It’s July 26th, FYI, and absolutely no one celebrates it. So again: screw that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Odds & ends

  • How was Voldemort Day for you? (You know -- THAT day from this past weekend -- The Day That Shall Not Be Named, lol.)(Karin on Gateway Women calls it "Others Day," which I also rather like.  :)  )   
    • We ordered takeout from one of our favourite restaurants on Saturday night -- and then wound up going to a nearby cousin's house for coffee & dessert later, along with BIL & SIL and several other local cousins -- 14 people in all (which was a few too many for my covid comfort levels, but anyway...). It had obviously been a MDay dinner for that cousin's family (her mom/dh's aunt and her sister and family were all there too), but nobody mentioned the M-word while we were there, thankfully! 
    • Sunday was very quiet, thank goodness. It was clear, sunny and pleasant outside, and we had the balcony door open for most of the afternoon. Dh napped on the couch, I called my mom, spent two hours volunteering/co-hosting a text chat on the private Gateway Women community, and that was about it, which was fine with me. 
    • Dh's cousins' WhatsApp group exploded on Sunday morning with "Happy Mother's Day" greetings and comments like "Toughest job in the world!"  I promptly muted the conversation for 8 hours. I still haven't looked at it. I don't feel like I missed anything. ;)  
  • I had to laugh, because around 10 p.m. Sunday night, an email popped up in my inbox from a retailer of women's clothing, with the header "Lori, did you forget about Mother's Day?" FAT CHANCE, right?? -- "I'm trying!!  But YOU WON'T LET ME!!"  lol
  • Bloglovin resurrected itself on Saturday night (after being offline for 4 days -- AGAIN... I think that's something like 12 days out of the past month that it's been down??) 
    • Mali sent me a link to a blog post with instructions for exporting my Bloglovin content and importing it to Feedly, which is the reader she uses. I actually managed to do it (once Bloglovin' was back up & running again). 
    • BUT! Feedly only allows you to follow 100 blogs at a time (unless you cough up money for a paid subscription). I currently have more than (gulp) 500 blogs on Bloglovin. A lot of them are inactive, but I like having them in there, just in case a new post from a blogger I used to enjoy reading pops up (and it does happen!). And even if I culled the inactive ones, I'm willing to bet there would still be more than 100.  Still, I suppose it's time to take a look and see what I can cut... 
    • I have tagged all my posts related to blog readers (Google Reader, Bloglovin, Feedly) for easy reference (for myself, if not anyone else!  lol).  
  • My eye surgery/keratectomy has (finally!) been scheduled -- for July 25th. That kind of screws up my plans for summer vacation with my family (I'm dreading telling my mother I will definitely not be attending the family reunion, later that week...), but I want to get it over with. Still waiting to hear about gallbladder removal (and probably won't hear about that until sometime in June, at the earliest). That one will have to be worked around this one too. 
  • One appointment I didn't have to wait long for: our fourth covid vaccine doses/boosters. We both became eligible last week (age 60+ = 140 days or almost 5 months past our most recent doses = May 5th) and we're going on Wednesday afternoon (tomorrow).  
    • We got to pick, Pfizer or Moderna... picked Pfizer simply because that's the last one we got (we've had all three different kinds offered!) but we're fine with Moderna if that's what's available too. 
  • How's this for irony? Over the past year, on & off, I have been helping one of my best friends from childhood with a book she's writing, as well as an online masterclass presentation she's been working on. The subject? Coping with an empty nest. (!)  I told her that I'd be happy to make suggestions re: spelling, grammar, structure, etc. -- but as for the subject matter/content, she'd probably be best to check in with one or more of her empty nest mom friends to make sure she had all the bases covered. 
  • Jody Day of Gateway Women recently talked about childlessness in the workplace during a half-hour "lunch & learn" session, "The F Word at Work," an ongoing series organized by Fertility Matters at Work, a UK organization. (I can't think of an equivalent North American group, can you?) All lunch & learn sessions are recorded -- here's the link -- and open to all, aimed at HR & line managers. Worth sharing within your workplace, if you feel brave enough to do so...! 
  • I thought of Jody (who once gave a talk titled "Who's Afraid of the Crazy Cat Lady?") when I saw this article from New York Magazine's Intelligencer:  "Why Are Conservative Men So Scared of Cat Ladies?" ;)  (Recent political events are discussed.) 
  • Kate Kauffman chatted with Catherine-Emmanuelle Delisle about Mother's Day and childlessness in the workplace in her "Unapparent" (love the name!!) column in Psychology Today online. 
  • Sian Prior, author of the new book "Childless: A Story of Freedom and Longing" (not yet available in North America, unfortunately), wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian that was published on Sunday: "When you’re childless not by choice, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of profound loss." Subhead: "When other women are being feted by their progeny, no amount of positive psychology can override the sense of loss I feel."  
  • Jill Filipovic interviewed Therese Schecter, the filmmaker behind the new documentary "My So-Called Selfish Life," about pronatalism and the decision not to have children. It's only available to her newsletter subscribers, which is unfortunate, because I think it's a conversation that deserves a much broader audience.   
    • The documentary is streaming online until May 16th. Tickets are just $10 (US) -- I've already bought one, although I haven't watched yet. 
  • I know surrogacy has helped a lot of couples become parents... but there are certain ethical aspects of it, I'll admit, make me rather queasy. Add in the complications involved when your surrogate is in another country. Then what happens when that country is invaded and becomes a war zone?? -- i.e., Ukraine?  The New York Times Magazine had an article following a group of Ukrainian surrogates and some of the intended parents of the babies they are carrying. (Beware the comments section... too many "just adopts" for comfort...!) 

Monday, May 9, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Page to screen

"The Blue Castle" -- one of my favourite L.M. Montgomery novels (and one of my all-time favourite books, period) -- is coming to the screen

I am of two minds on this: 

  • (1) YAY!!/IT'S ABOUT TIME!! I've always thought this would make a great movie (in the right hands). 
  • (2) (To that point...)  I am TERRIFIED they are going to screw this one up.  (Like, Americanize the story to appeal to a U.S. audience, or set it in modern times... ugh. Or inject modern sensibilities into a story written in 1926.)  
I had similar feelings when I recently learned that Alexandra Potter's "Confessions of a Forty-Something F***-Up" (reviewed here) is being turned into an ABC-TV series called "Not Dead Yet."  None of the actors cast seems to be British, so I can only assume it's been transposed to a U.S. setting. I'll reserve judgment until I see it, but I have a hard time envisioning this one without British accents and humour. (Likewise, I am praying that the film version of "The Thursday Murder Club" -- Steven Spielberg has bought the rights -- keeps the story in England, cast with British actors.) 

Granted -- some movie/TV adaptations turn out to be pretty good. I adored the 1980s TV adaptation of "Anne of Green Gables" with Megan Follows as an absolutely perfect Anne and Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla. (The sequels, not so much...!) I enjoyed "Road to Avonlea" (which used several Montgomery novels and short stories for inspiration), to a point -- it took a lot of liberties with Montgomery's material and kind of wore out its welcome by the time it ended. Likewise, "Emily of New Moon."  

Off the top of my head, in terms of well-done film versions of other books I've enjoyed: 
  • "Normal People" (I loved the TV version possibly even more than the book! -- reviewed here and here). 
  • "The Fault in Our Stars" (movie review here). 
  • The 1994 version of "Little Women" with Winona Ryder as Jo. (The most recent version, with Saiorse Ronan as Jo, was pretty good too, but the 1994 one remains my favourite.)  
  • "The Outsiders" was one of my favourite books, growing up, and the movie version turned out to be pretty good (can't beat that cast!), although by the time they got around to making it, I was in my 20s, so it didn't enthrall me quite as much as it might have a few years earlier. 
  • The TV versions of Winston Graham's "Poldark" novels -- both 1970s and more recent -- were both pretty faithful to the books and well done, with the exception of the final/most recent season, which was entirely made up by the scriptwriters. 
  • "Gone With the Wind," both book & movie, are pretty dated/politically incorrect, but both were touchstones of my growing-up years, and the movie was a pretty amazing feat of filmmaking and storytelling for its time (also some great casting -- Clark Gable as the perfect Rhett Butler!!) 
I know there are a lot more I'm forgetting, but those are a few that spring to mind at the moment. 

Disappointments: (As I often complained here while it was being aired, lol) Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" started off all right, but it diverged in some significant ways from the book, including being padded with characters and subplots that weren't in the original (presumably to stretch things out to 10 episodes). It all got rather ridiculous toward the end. 

What do you think? What movie/TV adaptations do you think were well done? Which ones weren't? 

My reviews of "The Blue Castle" (the book), here and here

(On a related note:  Following the conclusion of our recent discussion of "The Story Girl," the LMM Readathon group on Facebook I've been part of for the past two years is on hiatus. The organizers promised to keep the group going as long as the pandemic lasted... I don't think they ever imagined it going into Year #3 (we've covered seven Montgomery books to date)..! One of the organizers is stepping back due to other commitments, and if the group is to continue, volunteers will be needed. Decisions/future plans will be announced soon...) 

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

Sunday, May 8, 2022

"Singled Out" by Virginia Nicholson

In my review of the last book I read, ""The Great Silence 1918-1920: Living in the Shadow of the Great War"  by Juliet Nicolson, I noted: 

"The stories of the many women who were widowed or left without men to marry (and, subsequently, left without children) are also touched upon. (This is the subject of another book that's in my reading pile, "Singled Out" by Virginia Nicholson.  I'll be honest -- I thought both books were by the same author -- Nicholson/Nicolson -- close!!)"

Well, since I seem to be on a World War I-era kick right now, and since I mentioned it, and since it was another volume in my gargantuan to-be-read pile (albeit this one was on my e-reader...!), I decided "Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War" by Virginia Nicholson would be my next read. (Virginia Nicholson is the great-niece of Virginia Woolf -- the granddaughter of her sister, Vanessa Bell.)

I think I first heard about this book through Jody Day of Gateway Women, who has referenced it in her blog posts and talks and in her book, "Living the Life Unexpected."  Reading it, I was reminded of a scene in the TV series "Downton Abbey," in which middle daughter Edith, wanting to marry a man 25 years her senior, to the dismay of her family, bitterly reminds her father that all the young men of her own generation whom she might have married were gone, killed during the war. (I'm going by memory, so I think I've got those details straight? -- someone please correct me if I didn't!) 

Edith, of course, did become a mother (bearing a child out of wedlock) and (still!) managed to wind up marrying -- a marquis, no less!! (giving her a social ranking above the rest of her family, including her snobbish older sister Mary). Many of her real-life counterparts, however, were not so lucky. Some two million young women born in Britain around the turn of the century came of age during the Great War, only to see the young men of their generation -- brothers, friends, sweethearts, fiances, new husbands and potential husbands -- slaughtered on the battlefields. Quite simply, there were not enough young men to go around for all the women who wanted -- were raised to expect -- to marry and to have children. 

Early in the book, there's a rather stunning scene:  

In 1917 the senior mistress of Bournemouth High School for Girls stood up in front of the assembled sixth form (nearly all of whom were dressed in mourning for some member of their family) and announced to them: "I have come to tell you a terrible fact. Only one out of ten of you girls can ever hope to marry. This is not a guess of mine. It is a statistical fact. Nearly all the men who might have married you have been killed. You will have to make your way in the world as best you can. The war has made more openings than there were before. But there will still be a lot of prejudice. You will have to fight. You will have to struggle." One of her pupils, seventeen-year-old Rosamund Essex, was never to forget those words. It was "one of the most fateful statements of my life." When Rosamund, who never married, wrote her memoirs sixty years later, she accepted that her teacher's pronouncements had been prophetic: 

How right she was. Only one out of every ten of my friends has ever married. Quite simply, there was no one available. We had to face the facts that our lives would be stunted in one direction. We should never have the kind of happy homes in which we ourselves had been brought up. There would be no husband, no children, no sexual outlet, no natural bond of man and woman. It was going to be a struggle indeed. 

As the book blurb on Goodreads says, "they were forced, by a tragedy of historic proportions, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity and their future happiness."  Instead of wives and mothers, they became independent, self-supporting nannies, teachers, nurses, scientists, writers, politicians and more -- and lay the groundwork for the more equal rights women enjoy (and often take for granted) today. 

The book is chock-full of the personal stories of these "surplus women" -- some well known (Vera Brittain -- who did later marry and have children, and her friend, the writer Winifred Holtby, for example), but many not. Nicholson did a thorough job of researching this subject:  she found memoirs and other first-person accounts, and interviewed several elderly "bachelor girls" and their extended family members herself. She also unearthed contemporary literature (both fiction and non-fiction) that sheds further light on the world these women lived in and the lives they carved out for themselves. 

It can be wince-inducing to read some of the harsh, misogynistic things that were said and written about these women, who were living lives not entirely of their choosing, in roles that their families and educations had not prepared them for. You can see the roots of some of the negative attitudes that prevail today towards single/childless/free women. 

"Singled Out" was lengthy and detailed, a little slow, but absorbing. The last chapter reads a little like a laundry list of women's accomplishments in the mid-20th century -- but overall, the stories were enraging, fascinating, moving, and inspiring.  Whether or not you're single, if you're childless-not-by-choice, I think you will find something here that's relatable.  

4 stars. 

This was Book #24 read to date in 2022 (and Book #2 finished in May), bringing me to 53% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 9 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

*** *** *** 

Personal postscript:  This book had me thinking about certain members of my family tree in an entirely new light. Reading about the large numbers of young "surplus" women (born around the turn of the century) who emigrated to the "colonies" in search of a new life (and, sometimes, a husband) brought to mind the youngest daughter of my great-great grandfather's youngest brother, born in 1902 in Scotland. About 10 years ago, through my genealogy research, I learned she had emigrated to Canada in 1923. The ship's manifest noted that her passage was paid for by the Salvation Army, that her intended destination was the Salvation Army in Toronto, and that her intended occupation was "domestic."

This piqued my curiosity, and I emailed the Salvation Army here in Toronto for more information. They were extremely helpful, sending me some information about how the Salvation Army ran emigration programs back then. They also found a record for this distant relative, indicating she had taken a position with a family in the city. Two years later, they learned she had resigned and gone to Cleveland. (!)  I could not find the Cleveland address provided on any map, and thought I had reached a dead end. 

New records continue to come online all the time, though, and a few years later, I found a marriage record for her! At some point, she did return to Toronto, and in 1929, age 27 and now working as a cook, she married a salesman in a church here. One of her older sisters (born in 1898) had also come to Toronto that same year and witnessed the ceremony. I still haven't been able to determine whether they had any children (and I haven't found any further information about the sister who witnessed the wedding either), but her husband died in 1957, she died in 1986, and they are buried together in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In 1986, I had been married and living in Toronto for a year -- in an apartment building a stone's throw away from Mount Pleasant -- completely unaware that I had relatives in the city (however distant -- and she wasn't the only one!). It can be a very small world sometimes...! 

The oldest son of another (older) brother of my great-great-grandfather's had three children -- a boy and two girls, born in Scotland, but raised in northern England. The son, born in 1898, was killed in action in 1918 at the age of 19, and is buried in a war cemetery in France. One of my genealogist-cousins was able to find out what happened to his sisters, born in 1901 and 1904.  Both were unmarried and childless when they wound up emigrating to Australia, apparently as part of a teacher exchange program -- Sister #1 in 1934 at age 33, and Sister #2 in 1946 at age 42. Sister #1 married in Australia in 1937, when she was 36.  They had no children, and her husband passed away in 1948. There were several trips back & forth between Australia and England over the years. She died in England in 1982, age 80, and is buried there in her hometown. Sister #2 became headmistress at a school in Australia, married in 1953 (age 49), but divorced in 1958. She returned to England at some point in the next few years and died there in 1965, age 61. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Annoying things & small pleasures

 Annoying things: 

  • It's Voldemort Day weekend. :(  (You know the one I mean... that Day That Shall Not Be Named.)  'Nuff said. 
  • Bloglovin' is still out (since Wednesday = day #3). Grrrrrr... 
  • I posted recently about my visit to the opthamologist (Tuesday, April 26th). After talking things over with my optometrist, I decided to go ahead with the surgery/procedure he recommended to remove a patch of scar tissue from my right eye. I left a message with his office late Wednesday afternoon (April 27th). The message on the voice mail said my call would be returned within two business days. (Two?!  All righty then...).  Two days = end of day Friday afternoon (April 29th). 
    • Friday came & went. My phone did not ring. (At least with a call from them.)  After the weekend, Monday came and went too. Nothing. 
    • I finally called Tuesday morning (May 3rd, day 4 -- a full week after I'd met with the opthamologist) and left another message. (I made a point of mentioning I hadn't had a response yet to my first message.)
    • The phone rang around 4 p.m. that afternoon. Finally!  The woman on the other end of the line wanted to know what sort of a procedure the doctor had recommended for me?  And did he say where it was supposed to be done? ???!  (Like, don't you have my file??)  I told her I wasn't entirely sure of the terminology, but I *thought* it was called a keratectomy -- and he had said it would be done there, at the hospital. She said, "Oh, that's probably the (something) room -- Katie will call you tomorrow." ?!!  WTF??!  (And "Katie," of all people, will call me...!!)  
    • That was Tuesday afternoon. It's now Friday night. :p  Monday will be almost two full weeks since I saw the opthamologist. 
    • I should have just said yes when they asked me if I wanted to schedule the procedure in the first place, even if I wasn't sure I wanted to go this route... I could have always cancelled later. Hindsight is 20-20 (pun intended). Lesson learned...! 
    • Is it just me, or is nothing simple these days??  (I know everyone is busy and short-staffed these days, especially in a hospital setting, but seriously??) 
  • Lately I've been inundated by friend requests from strange men on Instagram. It seems to go in waves, but there's rarely a day that I don't get at least one, and some days it's half a dozen or more. (I used to get them on Facebook too, but not so much there lately.)  I also get occasional friend requests from strange women. Most of them have some reference to bitcoin in their bios. :p  Needless to say, all of them get blocked and deleted. But it's tiresome to have to constantly keep doing it. 
    • I even had a request from a strange guy on Goodreads recently!!  Not only did I not know him, he had zero books read in his profile. Methinks he wasn't really interested in reading. Instant delete. ;) 
  • In a similar vein... I was bombarded with email spam for a couple of days in a row last week --  like two dozen or more messages a day, for several days in a row. I just kept adding the sender to my "blocked" list and deleting. Eventually, it did subside (and I'm almost afraid to post this for fear of jinxing myself...!). 
  • Not annoying: warmer weather = being able to leave the balcony door open more often and for longer periods of time. Annoying (and this is an old complaint): the strong, skunky smell of cannabis wafting in, often multiple times during the day.  We KNOW who the culprit is (at least one of them, anyway -- there may be others). Debating whether to complain to the property manager.  Yes, it's legal here, but it's also a nuisance that's interfering with our own enjoyment of our own property. (I'd also be annoyed if it was tobacco or cigar smoke.)  
  • There's a provincial election coming up on June 2nd. The date has been fixed for quite a while, but the campaign officially kicked off this week. As you can probably guess, if you've read some of my pandemic-related posts over the past two years, I am not a fan of the current premier/government. Nevertheless (inexplicably!), they stand a good chance of winning another term. 
  • Dh says he's noticed increasing numbers of people going maskless when he's been to the supermarket, etc.  
  • Dirty windows! (The window cleaners are coming in a little over a week... I can't wait!)  
Small pleasures: 
  • Milder weather (finally!). 
    • Related:  Being able to leave the balcony door open for most of the day. (Cannabis fumes notwithstanding, lol.)  
  • Spending time with Little Great-Nephew. 
  • Having him call me by name. ("Bye Lori!") 
  • "Me at home alone time" for two straight Saturdays (dh & BIL have been helping Older Nephew do some things around his house). 
  • Lots of good reading lately. :)