Monday, July 15, 2024

#MicroblogMondays: Uber-Boomer ;)

I got a chuckle out of this recent Globe & Mail article (gift link): "What happens when a Boomer tries Uber for the first time."  I'm not QUITE as technologically inept as the author, but I *am* a (late) Boomer (or early GenXer, depending on how you define the timelines) -- and I have yet to use Uber. 

For one thing, we don't often have need of a ride somewhere. I don't drive (long story), but dh drives us most places we need to go. When we lived in our old community, I would sometimes get off work earlier than he did, and in that case, I would usually take the bus home from the train station. (There was a stop conveniently located near our house.)  Once in a great while, if I wasn't feeling well and had to wait for the bus, I would take one of the cabs that was generally lined up in the parking lot outside. And I occasionally took cabs to assignments in far-flung areas of the city as part of my job  The department had an account with one of the city's large cab companies. You'd get a "chit" from the office administrator and fill in the details for the driver when you reached your destination, including the amount on the meter and a tip. 

(I got offered a cab chit by the HR person who was handling my termination, but I said no and took the train home as usual. Dh -- who had lost HIS job a year earlier -- picked me up.) A colleague who also lost her job that day -- and who also usually took a train home -- told me she took the chit. "I'm gonna take them up on everything they offer me, make them pay," she laughed. Made me think I should have taken the chit too!  lol  Oh well.) 

BIL usually takes us to the airport & picks us up again, when we're travelling, and when he's not able to do so (as was the case last year, because of his health), I've found a reasonably reliable airport limo company to take us. (And, depending on where else we need to go, there's a rapid bus service right outside our front door that takes us directly to the local subway station in a few minutes' time.)  

Yes, it's more expensive to take a cab or an airport limo anywhere than an Uber. The cabs can be less than clean sometimes, and the drivers don't always speak or understand English very well. (Limos are usually a much nicer ride, and the rates to & from the airport aren't that much different from taking a cab, which is why I prefer to use them.)  I remember one memorable cab ride where the ashtray was full of cigarette butts, the car reeked of stale smoke, and he was playing music loudly while talking on his cellphone, all the way home from the train station.  Not my sort of music either...!) 

But... I've heard some iffy stories about Uber, particularly about women travelling alone. I figure that, at least with a cab, there's a license involved, a tangible company behind it with a physical, local presence (versus an app) and a phone number you can call to voice your complaint to a real person, if you're not happy with the service.  Yes, I know you can rate your Uber driver (and they rate YOU, as a passenger!), but there's no easy recourse if you have a complaint or concern.  Also, as many people in the story comments pointed out, if you don't rate your driver five stars AND give a good tip, you may be more likely to find yourself without a ride in the future. Sounds vaguely blackmail-ish to me. I mean, what's the point of a ratings system if you're not going to welcome honest feedback? 

How about you? Do you use Uber or other such rideshare services, versus more traditional methods of transportation?  

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

Sunday, July 14, 2024

"Bring Up the Bodies" by Hilary Mantel

"Bring Up the Bodies" is the second book in Hilary Mantel's "Cromwell Trilogy," which I am reading as part of a year-long "slow readalonghosted by Simon Haisell at "Footnotes and Tangents.It's the 2012 follow-up to "Wolf Hall" (reviewed here), which we read (on a weekly schedule) from January through mid-April. We are just finishing "Bring Up the Bodies" (as a group) this week, and will begin Book #3, "The Mirror and the Light," next week. (Join us for that one at Footnotes & Tangents, Cromwell Trilogy!) 

King Henry VIII is now married to Anne Boleyn -- who has failed to provide him with the male heir he craves -- and his attention is turning to one of her attendants, young Jane Seymour. He enlists Thomas Cromwell -- now Master Secretary and his Chief Minister -- to help rid himself of Anne and win Jane as his next (third!) wife -- just as Cromwell helped him orchestrate his divorce from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, so that he could marry Anne. But as Anne's position at court becomes ever-more precarious, so too does Cromwell's...  

Like "Wolf Hall," "Bring Up the Bodies" is beautifully written. It is, however, a much faster and somewhat less dense/more accessible read than "Wolf Hall" was, covering a much shorter time frame in history. (While the events in "Wolf Hall" unfold over several decades, from 1500 to 1535, "Bring Up The Bodies" covers less than a year, from September 1535 to the summer of 1536.)  Simon, who is hosting the readalong, calls it "a thriller," and I must admit, it was hard not to go beyond the allotted pages each week to find out what would happen next!  ;)  The tension is palpable -- even though we, the readers, all know what ultimately happened, to Anne, to Henry, to Jane Seymour and, ultimately, to Cromwell himself.  (But that's another book...!)  

The readalong includes weekly discussion posts, chats, a cast of characters and other supplementary material, to provide context and facilitate greater understanding -- all free of charge. (Paid subscribers get occasional supplementary posts, and can initiate their own chats.)  These features have contributed enormously to my enjoyment and appreciation of the book, and I highly recommend the experience!   

I gave Wolf Hall "a solid 4 stars on Goodreads (possibly even 4.5)."  "Bring Up the Bodies" gets 4.5, rounded up to 5 stars. (Slow read group experience:  a definite 5!)   

This was Book #22 read to date in 2024 (and Book #2 finished in July), bringing me to 49%  of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 1 book behind schedule to meet my goal. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2024 tagged as "2024 books."    

Monday, July 8, 2024

#MicroblogMondays: A few odds & ends

Some personal notes:  
  • Saturday was our wedding anniversary: #39!!  
    • Because it was Saturday, we knew that anywhere we went would be nuts (eyeroll), so we mostly stayed close to home. Got invited to BIL's for lunch (barbecued chicken burgers and hot dogs), and SIL gave me a bouquet of sunflowers and a lovely photo frame. :)  Little Great-Nephew was there too (Dad working, Mom at a pool party with her friends).  
    • If we weren't heading west soon to visit my elderly parents, I would have been receptive to having dinner out at a restaurant (something we've rarely done since the pandemic began). Instead, we ordered takeout from a favourite restaurant, and went out for gelato later. (It was nuts there, as expected...!)  
    • Hoping we can go somewhere nice to mark the milestone anniversary next year!   
  • Little Great-Nephew had an ear infection and mild temperature all last week, and missed his first week of summer day camp as a result. :(  
    • His mom took a few days off work to be with him, but had an appointment with her ob-gyn one day -- so dh & I met her & LGN at BIL & SIL's house (while BIL & SIL were at work) and stayed there with the little guy for a few hours while she went for her appointment.  
    • Two days later, she needed to get back to work. BIL & SIL were both working, so dh & I met the two of them at her workplace at 8 a.m. (!), transferred the kiddie car seat to our car and took LGN to his grandparents' house. (He's comfortable there and has a ton of toys there to play with, so it's better than bringing him to our place!)  BIL got off work around noon (he's only working part-time at the moment), brought LGN a McDonalds Happy Meal for lunch and took over from that point.  
  • It's been increasingly warmer and more humid this past few days -- again (and going to get warmer still over the next few days). Unfortunately, the "chiller" unit for our building -- which chills the air for air conditioning to the common areas and individual units -- hasn't been working properly.  As a result, our a/c unit has been periodically blowing cool but not cold air. As a further result, the temperature and humidity levels started creeping up -- peaking mid-afternoon yesterday at 25C+ (about 77-78F) and 67%, respectively. :p  (Our thermostat/a/c is set at 74F in the summer months.) Thankfully, they must have called in the HVAC techs, because it started blowing cold air again later in the afternoon.  It wasn't BAD, but it wasn't great either...!   
  • My Kobo e-reader has not been syncing... AGAIN.  :p  Last time I successfully synced/downloaded a book was March 18th = almost 4 months ago. There are a few books I've bought recently that I wanted to download to have on hand for my trip west... so Friday night, I bit the bullet, signed out of my account on my e-reader and then back in again. This has worked in the past, and it worked again this time (whew!).  But it's such a pain in the a**, because it only downloads the last five books you've bought or most recently accessed -- and it wipes out all of your bookmarks, highlights, etc.  I had to re-download all the books I want to have on hand. And every time I go to sync again now, I hold my breath...! Sigh. 
A couple of  recent good reads: 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

"You Are Here" by David Nicholls

I've never been a runner, but I do enjoy walking -- albeit I have been a bit of a couch potato in recent years (*cough!*).  And I think my increasingly creaky knees would rule out doing something like the Camino, or another such multi-day cross-country trek. Nevertheless, I admire those who do undertake such journeys, and I enjoy hearing about their adventures and seeing their photos. 
A cross-country walk from coast to coast through the English countryside forms the premise for "You Are Here," the most recent novel by David Nicholls. I've read and loved a couple of Nicholls's previous books: "One Day," back in 2011 (reviewed here -- we never did go to see the movie version with Anne Hathaway, and I haven't seen the newer version on Netflix either...), and  "Us," in May 2021 (reviewed here). (I also adored the TV adaptation, which I saw on PBS a few weeks later and wrote about here.)  Another title of his, "Sweet Sorrow," has long languished in my TBR pile. 

Geography teacher Michael, 42, is licking his wounds after his wife (Natasha) leaves him, and avoiding their empty home in York by taking increasingly longer solo walks in the English countryside.  By contrast, Marnie, 38, a freelance editor and proofreader, spends her time holed up in her small London apartment, increasingly isolated since the departure of her husband Neil and the pandemic lockdowns. All her friends are married and busy with their children. (Sound familiar?) 

Then both Marnie and Michael are invited by their mutual friend Cleo to accompany her, her teenaged son Anthony and a group of friends to hike a section of England's scenic Coast-to-Coast Walk. Michael agrees -- but plans to keep walking the entire 192 miles -- a journey that will take about 10 days to complete (and, coincidentally, will end close to where his ex-wife is now living).  And Marnie finds herself extending her own walking plans "just one more day" to continue walking with him... 

We can all guess the ultimate destination of this story -- that these two are destined to fall in love. But, as so often happens, it's not the destination but the journey itself that's important -- and there are some twists and turns and unexpected stumbles and disappointments and discoveries along the way.  

As a former corporate writer/editor, I'll admit I was secretly thrilled to learn that Marnie was an editor/proofreader (and some of her observations about the job made me laugh!). And as someone who never had the children she wanted, I appreciated that neither Marnie nor Michael had children either (also not by choice, as we eventually learn). This is one of those rare novels where we CNBCers see our stories clearly and sympathetically reflected. (Google tells me that Nicholls himself has two children.)    

Beyond being CNBC, it was nice to read a novel built around two middle-aged characters -- both bearing literal and figurative scars, but gradually awakening to the possibility of second chances and new possibilities. I loved learning more about the walk itself too. There was a cinematic quality to this book that made it very easy to picture... I'd love to see a movie version!  

4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on Goodreads. 

This was Book #21 read to date in 2024 (and Book #1 finished in July), bringing me to 47%  of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 1 book behind schedule to meet my goal. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2024 tagged as "2024 books."    

Monday, July 1, 2024

Reading challenge mid-year checkup

For the last three years around this time (see the links at the bottom of this post), I've done a mid-year check-in on the status of my Goodreads Reading Challenge and other reading goals -- and since the year is now halfway over (ummm.... WTF?!)  I thought it was timely to do it again.  :)  

In my 2023 Reading Year in Review post last December, I wrote: 

  • ...I reached my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal of 45 books by Dec. 7th, and ended the year with 48 books read -- but I didn't equal my 2021/best-recorded total of 59 books (when my goal was 36).  For 2024, I've decided to maintain my goal of 45 books ( = 3.75 books per month on average)(and hope to do better...!) -- which seems realistic for me right now. 
    • I've read more than 45 books in four of the past five years (2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023), and almost 45 -- 43 -- in 2020 -- so that seems very do-able.  But I'm hoping I'll be able to improve on 2023's total, too!  
    • While I'm grateful for my book groups and the boost they give to my reading totals, and while I intend to keep up with them in 2024, I'm hoping to be able to read more of my own choices this coming year too.  :)   

So.  Here we are at the midpoint of 2024 -- which suggests I should have read 22-24 books by now to keep up the pace of 3-4 books per month towards 45 by the end of the year. 

I'm not there yet...  :(   I am currently at 20 books finished = 44% of my 2024 goal (2 books behind schedule to meet my goal). I read 4 books in January, 2 in February, 3 in March, 5 in April, 3 in May and 3 in June.

At this time last year (end of June 2023), I had reached 25 books (56% of my goal). In 2022, I'd reached 64% of my goal, and I was at 94% in 2021 (! -- albeit my goal then was just 36 books).  

So I'm 5 books behind versus where I was last year, in terms of number of books read  :(  -- and I'm a little behind pace to reach or exceed my goal of 45 books before the end of the year.  

Whether I'll reach my goal by year end (let alone improve on previous years' totals) remains to be seen...! (although I'm still hopeful at this point...!)  Last year, my BIL's health issues kept us fairly busy;  the year before that, I had eye surgery which slowed my reading pace down a bit, for a while. Theoretically, I don't have any such major distractions this year.  

However -- I'm still doing a lot of book club reads & re-reads. I enjoy them because, overall, they (mostly) keep me reading and move me toward my reading goals. Some of the books we read have long been on my to-read list (thus moving them up in the pile...!). Others are books I might not have picked up on my own -- including some really good ones. 

My online book clubs/groups include one for D.E. Stevenson's books on and the L.M. Montgomery Readathon on Facebook. Last year, I took on the role of co-hosting the monthly book club on the Childless Collective (formerly Gateway Women & Lighthouse Women) private online community. I would have been reading the books there anyway -- but now I'm trying to make time to hunt down & read/screen books that might be a good fit for the group too.  The Notes From Three Pines Substack newsletter readalong, covering the Three Pines/Inspector Gamache novels by Louise Penny, petered out last year after just a few months (and while I really would like to get back to these books on my own, the last one I read was #5, "The Brutal Telling," in August 2023 -- review here).  

I also joined not just one but TWO other "slow readalongs" hosted by Simon at the Substack newsletter "Footnotes and Tangents" -- one that's tackling Leo Tolstoy's epic "War and Peace" (!), one chapter per day for an entire year (!), the other reading Hilary Mantel's "Cromwell Trilogy" -- "Wolf Hall(finished;  reviewed here), "Bring Up the Bodies(our current book, almost done) and  "The Mirror and the Light. These are some pretty thick books -- so while I may not make or exceed my goal in terms of books read this year, I expect that my total page count, at least, should be pretty robust....!  

While I HAVE managed to fit in some books of my own choosing, they've continued to take a back seat to all these book clubs and readalongs -- perhaps (I'll admit) a little more often than I'd like. And I haven't been able to explore as many potential reads for the CC book club as I'd like either.  But I missed the CC book club when the hosts stepped down and it subsequently went on hiatus, and sometimes if you want something done, you have to be willing to do it yourself...!  

In 2023, I ventured into the world of ARCs (advance reader copies) on NetGalley by reading and reviewing Ashley Audrain's "The Whispers" (reviewed here). It was a good read and an interesting experience -- but I have enough book-related deadlines/obligations in my reading life at the moment as it is -- and many NetGalley books come with an expiry/"archive by" date -- so I haven't requested any others this year (so far, anyway).  Maybe I'll try it again in the future...!  

Needless to say, there are still a lot of books on my "priority TBR list" (which has expanded considerably since I posted about it..!) that I haven't read yet! (And I realize that, realistically, I am never going to be able to read all the books I would like.)(But it's still fun trying, right?)  

2023 Reading challenge mid-year checkup

2022 Reading challenge mid-year checkup

2021 Reading challenge mid-year checkup

Did you set any reading goals for 2024?  How are you doing with them? 

Right now

Right now...* 

*(an occasional (mostly monthly) meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current"). (Explanation of how this started & my inspirations in my first "Right now" post, here. Also my first "The Current" post, here.)

June went by in a blink! It started off chilly, got VERY hot & humid for a a solid week & then (thankfully) settled into something less extreme, before ending on a grey & chilly note again.    

Pandemic diary/update: June was month #51 since the advent of covid in March 2020 -- now in Year FIVE. :(  We (still!) remain covid-free (knocking wood, loudly...) -- and the more I read about the long-term effects of covid (and especially the impact of multiple infections), the more I want to stay that way...! We continue to mask in stores, malls and (most) other indoor public spaces, especially where there are a lot of people (although dh is starting to slack off again whenever I'm not around to hand him a mask...!). We've done a little more eating out in mall food courts and cafes/restaurants in recent months (mostly for lunch), albeit we usually try to go early, when it won't be as crowded, and sit somewhere near the door, where the air is circulating better (if not outside on a patio, if one is available). 

A couple of related news items: 
  • The province (Ontario) announced early in June that it is shutting down its wastewater monitoring program -- the largest such program in Canada and one of the best in the world -- in July. Researchers are warning that this decision will limit the province’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to infectious disease threats, such as new covid variants, bird flu and other viruses.
    • "Cutting the Ontario wastewater surveillance network now is a betrayal of everyone who sacrificed in the fight against COVID-19." said the Toronto Star in an editorial on June 10th. "It is a mistake on its own. More troubling, it suggests we are already repeating the mistakes we made after SARS. [Premier Doug] Ford, like his predecessors, is ignoring the lessons of the past and failing the people of the future, setting us up for more fumbling and more deaths when the next pandemic comes."
  • "New Report Underscores the Seriousness of Long Covid," reports The New York Times. It's estimated that long covid now affects a full 7% of the U.S. population. (Gift link.)  
  • One more reason to avoid covid:  the Washington Post published an article this month noting that, since the pandemic began, doctors are seeing a significant uptick in cases of rare cancers. Could they be covid-related?  (Gift link.)  
“We are completely under-investigating this virus,” said Douglas C. Wallace, a University of Pennsylvania geneticist and evolutionary biologist. “The effects of repeatedly getting this throughout our lives is going to be much more significant than people are thinking.”

Among other outings this month, we
  • Went to the dentist in midtown Toronto... TWICE. On June 4th for checkups & cleanings, and then back again on June 6th for a filling (me). :p  Which turned into TWO fillings -- after drilling out the first cavity, the dentist explained to me he could see some decay under an old filling in an adjacent tooth -- and since my mouth was already frozen and he was already in there....  It was an expensive week! (although we got back most of the money through our retiree dental insurance benefits, thankfully!).    
  • Walked over to Younger Nephew's nearby townhouse for lunch with them, BIL & SIL, on Saturday, June 8th.  Little Great-Niece provided the entertainment.  :)  
  • Went to the mall on June 11th to walk, shop and have lunch -- and escape the noise and bother from fire alarm testing and a fire drill in our building, lol.  Dropped off a load of stuff at the thrift shop on our way home. 
    • Returned to the mall on June 26th. 
  • Spent the day at Older Nephew's house with BIL & SIL on June 15th. Older Nephew's wife was at work. Dh & BIL helped haul some junk to the dump while SIL & I stayed with Little Great-Nephew. We took him to the nearby park (TWICE!), played out on the back deck and got a little sunburned, even though we put on sunscreen. Exhausting, but fun. :)  
  • Went over to BIL & SIL's for coffee & time with Little Great-Nephew on Friday night, June 21st, while his parents went to a movie. 
  • Went to the bank (ABM), bookstore, Reitmans (women's clothing) and drugstore to pick up a prescription and some sundries, on June 25th.  
  • Returned to Older Nephew's house on June 29th (Canada Day long weekend) for a family barbecue with BIL, SIL, Younger Nephew, his wife and Little Great-Niece. Ate a ton of good food, took a ton of photos and had so much fun watching the kids interact. 
  • The next day (yesterday/June 30th), went for lunch at dh & BIL's cousin's house, along with BIL & SIL and a couple of the other cousins from that side of dh's family. These are the cousins that dh was closest to, growing up, and we had such a good time. Also stuffed ourselves silly with grilled souvlaki and veggies, salads and sweets!  
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** 

Also right now:  

Reading: I finished 3 books in June (reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads & StoryGraph, & tagged "2024 books").  
This brings me to 20 books read so far in 2024, 44% of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books.  I am currently 2 books behind schedule to meet my goal. :)   

Current read(s): 
Coming up: Most of my book groups have their next reads plotted out for a few months in advance -- and listing them here helps me keep track of what I should be reading next. ;)  
  • For the Notes from Three Pines (Louise Penny mysteries) Readalong: The last discussion was for book #3, "The Cruellest Month," posted in June 2023 (no further posts/books since then).  I've continued dipping into the series on my own, between other book club obligations. Book #6, "Bury Your Dead," is the next one on my to-read list! 
A few recently purchased titles (mostly in digital format, mostly discounted ($5-10 or less) or purchased with points):  

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** 

Watching:  Dh has been watching Euro Cup soccer, and (along with the rest of the country...!)  we both watched the Edmonton Oilers versus the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup finals (hockey). (Described here!)   

I also sat in on a couple of genealogy webinars this month via Zoom. 

Not watching:  The U.S. presidential election debate on June 27th. (Just couldn't stomach it!)  I did monitor a live text chat on Substack, and watch some of the highlights/discussion later. 

Listening:  To Heardle Decades: Stats as of  June 30th:   
  • Heardle 60s: 76.3% (483/633, 197 on first guess), same as last month. Max. streak: 15.
  • Heardle 70s: 80.6% (300/372, 166 on first guess), down 1% from last month. Max. streak: 18. 
  • Heardle 80s: 42.4% (104/245,  44 on first guess), up 0.1% from last month. Max. streak: 4. 
  • Heardle 90s: 26% (92/354, 19 on first guess), down 0.2% from last month. Max. streak: 4. 

Eating/Drinking:  Takeout lunches & dinners this month included soup, pizza slices and teriyaki rice bowls from the supermarket, McDonalds, Swiss Chalet, California Sandwiches, and Blaze Pizza at the mall (twice).   

Lunch at Younger Nephew's on June 8th included... WAY too much food! -- including pizza, wings, pasta salad & green salad. We took home leftovers! :)  

Lunch/dinner at Older Nephew's on June 29th included some great barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs plus three different kinds of salads made by his wife (potato salad, bean salad and a couscous salad -- all delicious!).  Plus some charcuterie to nibble on while we were waiting. 

Lunch at dh's cousin's house the next day (June 30th/yesterday) included antipasto & bread, salad (tomato-free for me), grilled souvlaki and veggies with buns/pita bread & tzatziki, watermelon, and desserts (including cake, pastries and gelato).  And wine. ;)  

Buying (besides books, lol):  
  • Plane tickets to visit my parents & sister in Manitoba in July. :)  First time we'll be there during the summertime since 2019! (and we didn't get there in 2018 either!).  SO looking forward to it!  -- heat, mosquitos and all!  
  • Jeans.  Lucky Brand Canada, one of my favourite stores, is closing all its stores here. :(  (Apparently their U.S. website will ship to Canada -- but of course, you have to pay exchange, shipping and probably duty fees too. :( ).  I took advantage of the clearance sale to buy two new pairs of jeans -- they had my size, and they fit me so well! (albeit even the ankle length is a LITTLE too long on me!  lol)  One pair was straight legged, one boot cut.  
    • I got them home -- and realized I now own something like 7 pairs of jeans -- including 2 other Lucky Brand pairs, 2 Old Navy, and one from Northern Reflections that's probably at least 10 years old (but still fits!). Plus two pairs of black jeans/cotton twill pants, plus a couple of pairs of "dress" pants, and I haven't even mentioned my collection of capris/cropped jeans & pants yet...!  Think I should do a little closet clearing?? (Especially given that 90% of the time I'm at home and wearing yoga pants??  lol)  
  • A pretty new top and a sundress, both on sale at Reitmans. (I really don't need another sundress, but I couldn't resist!) 
  • A couple of new summer tops at the Gap outlet store at the mall, half price.  
Wearing: I exchanged my "around the house" uniform of capri-length yoga pants & short-sleeved T-shirts for shorts and tank tops when we entered a "heat dome" mid-month -- temperatures of 30C and up for most of the week (and into the 40s when humidity was factored in -- UGH!).  The air conditioning was running constantly!   

Wore one of my new tops from the Gap to Older Nephew's house on June 29th, and the one from Reitmans to dh's cousin's house on June 30th.  :)  (Had to borrow a jacket from her after the sky clouded over and it got increasingly chilly...!) 

Noticing:  The numbers on the scale are, distressingly, continuing to rise, again. (See: "Eating," above.)(*Cough*)  Not quite at my worst-ever levels yet, thankfully, but heading in that direction. :(  I got a lecture on my creeping cholesterol levels at my checkup last year -- and we're due for more bloodwork and another visit in August/September. Eeek. :(  

Trying:  To get things done before we head west to visit my family. Prioritizing (among other tasks...!): Scrubbing down the shower cubicle & washing the balcony windows, mopping the floors, return some items to the Gap outlet store at the mall...  

Appreciating:  Our newly installed vertical blinds.  The afternoon summer sun gets quite bright in the late afternoon/early evening, and glares into the corner of my eye when I'm sitting on the sofa... pulling out and closing up the blinds helps!  They also helped a bit during the recent heat wave -- we kept the blinds fully or at least partly closed to help reduce the heat (and hopefully the ease the load on the constantly running a/c a bit...!).  

Wondering:  Whether to go with a carry-on bag only when we travel soon, or risk checking a larger bag?  (The age-old dilemma...!) 

Wanting: Gelato!  Still haven't gone for our first treat of the summer yet!  

Hoping:  That SIL will like the gift I picked out for her upcoming 60th birthday.  We'll be away for the party, but I still wanted to leave her a gift, especially since it's a "big" birthday.   

Enjoying: Days like today, when we can leave the balcony door open all day long.  :)  

Loving:  Getting to spend lots of time with family lately, including some of dh's cousins.  

Feeling: A little disbelieving that the year is (already!) halfway over (!!).  Happy that we got to spend time with the nephews and their kids on a couple of different occasions this past month, as well as some of dh's cousins yesterday. Very much looking forward to seeing my own family soon! and helping my dad celebrate his 85th (!) birthday.  :)    

#MicroblogMondays: Small pleasures & annoying things on Canada Day

Small pleasures: 

  • A long weekend (Canada Day). :)  (Even when you're no longer working!) 
    • Empty roads and (mostly) empty parking lots and stores, even when they're open. 
  • Weather that is, today, just right! -- not too hot ( = Saturday), not too cloudy/chilly ( = yesterday). 
  • Spending time with family.  
  • Being absorbed in a good book.  :)  
  • Finding not just one, not just 2 but SIX items on your (admittedly large!) e-book wishlist for sale (between $1.99 and $3.99)!!   Total bill (including tax): $20.98. 
  • Mentioning to dh's cousin (during a conversation about burial vs cremation yesterday (!) -- how cheerful, right??) that we have a cremation niche at a cemetery near our old community -- and having her nod and say, "Of course, you'd want to be close to Katie." I don't think I'd ever heard her say our daughter's name before. That, and the fact that she recognized/acknowledged WHY we would buy a niche there!   
Annoying things:  
  • Politics and politicians (on both sides of the border...!).  :p   ('Nuff said.)  
  • Realizing that I got slightly sunburned on my nose, arms & shoulders after spending hours outside yesterday (on a mostly cloudy day -- and I WAS wearing sunscreen on my face!).  
  • The numbers on the scale continuing to slowly creep upward...  :(  
  • Being told by several of dh's cousins (after dh let it slip that we've rarely been inside a restaurant since the pandemic began) that "oh no, you need to live your life" and "it's just a cold, especially if you've been vaccinated." Sigh... 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here