Monday, October 31, 2016

Childless/Condo Halloween

My feelings about Halloween, as a bereaved childless parent, have been complicated. Unlike some bereaved parents/childless-not-by-choicers, I have never wanted to opt out of Halloween completely -- turn the lights out & hide, or spend the night at the movies. I've always enjoyed carving a pumpkin and setting it out on our doorstep on Halloween night, and handing out candy to adorable little trick-or-treaters.

(Which is not to say I haven't felt some pangs or closed the door with tears in my eyes over the past 18 years.)

At the same time, while I did set out the pumpkin & put up a Halloween-themed wreath on the door & cut-outs in the windows facing the street, we never went all out with the decorations, as some of our neighbours did. I just didn't have the energy (or the desire, to be honest). Which only added to my guilt -- clearly, I was not cut out to be a suburban mom, right? (Although I am sure that, had we had children, I would have made more of an effort to be more festive for their sakes.)  And while I loved dressing up as a kid, and during my student days for our annual Halloween parties, as an adult, it's always seemed like more of a chore than anything else to think up, shop for and put together a costume. I haven't done it in years.

Halloween was very different for us this year. As I said, I've never wanted to avoid Halloween -- but living in a condo makes it an entirely different experience than we had at our house. Security doors, plus bylaws against solicitation and holiday decorations on doors and balconies, plus the absence of all but a very few children living in our building, meant no decorations, no trick-or-treaters knocking at our doors. (By now at the house, most of our trick-or-treaters would have come & gone, so I think I can feel safe in typing that, lol.)  We did buy a box of treats to have on hand, just in case, but it looks like we're going to be eating it all ourselves. (Oh, the horror!! Right?? lol )

I suppose we could have carved a pumpkin this year, if only for our own enjoyment. But dh has never been keen on the whole pumpkin thing -- he only went along with it to humour me -- and I insisted on it because, tradition!! & how else could we signal to the trick-or-treaters that we were open for business?? This year, even I had to agree it was pretty pointless. I do have a fake pumpkin that lights up inside, but I lacked the energy & motivation to dig through our storage locker in the parking garage to find it. :p

It was a very strange day.

In past years, at least, we had a bit of a presence on the periphery of all the Halloween hoopla. This year, I felt totally apart/shut out from everything -- nose pressed against the glass, watching from a distance as life went merrily on without me, oblivious to my presence, while Facebook & Instagram paraded an endless stream of fun photos & reports from my friends & relatives. What was once a special occasion, a date to be circled on the calendar & to be planned and prepared for (candy & pumpkin to buy, decorations to haul up from the basement) -- a link to my own childhood, a fingerhold in the life that might have been mine as a parent, something I could participate in along with the rest of the world -- has now become just another day. It's harder, in a way, to be watching completely from the sidelines, at a distance, than it was to be handing out candy to little trick-or-treaters and seeing in them and their proud parents the life that might have been mine with our daughter.

My hope is that, in a few years' time, we'll have some great-nieces and nephews, and that their parents will bring them over so we can ooh & ahhh over their costumes and shower them with treats. :) (Or invite us over to see them before they head out for trick-or-treating.)

Until then, I'll be the one watching from the sidelines, stuffing my face with chocolate, and living vicariously through other people's social media posts. 

#MicroblogMondays: 9

How's this for scary -- it's not just Halloween today, it's my blogoversary. My NINTH blogoversary. Yikes!!

As I said at this time last year, "I'm not always sure how I keep coming up with things to write about, but hey, I'm still here...!" 

Here are a few updated stats to ponder:

Number of years blogging:  9

Published posts (including this one): 1,115
Average # of posts per year: 124
Average # of posts per month: 10
Published comments: more than 8,090
Page views (tracked since May 2008):  471,000+   
Followers (on Blogger):  143

As always -- thank you all for reading/listening, commenting and just being here.

Blogoversary #8 (2015)
Blogoversary #7 (2014)
Blogoversary #6 (2013)
Blogoversary #5 (2012)
Blogoversary #4 (2011)
Blogoversary #3 (2010)
Blogoversary #2 (2009)
Blogoversary #1 (2008)
First post

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Inferno" by Dan Brown

In most cases, I like to read the book before I see the movie. (How about you?) I don't always succeed, but in this case, I did. I picked up a paperback copy of "Inferno" by Dan Brown last Monday, before the movie opened this weekend. At slightly more than 100 chapters, I figured if I could read 20 chapters a day, I could finish the book before we went to the movie on Sunday afternoon -- and I did. ;)

Brown's usual hero, Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of art history and symbology, wakes up in a hospital in Florence, Italy, with no memory of how he got there.  Before long, and he and his pretty young doctor, Sienna Brooks, are on the run, trying to solve a series of puzzles. Dante's Inferno is the key to finding and stopping a maniacal billionaire from unleashing destruction upon the world.

Having read previous Brown/Langdon adventures "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons" (as well as seeing the movie versions), I knew what to expect, and I wasn't disappointed -- although the endless twist after twist after twist had me rolling my eyes & muttering "Seriously??!"  You don't need to have read any of Brown's previous books to understand or enjoy this one. They aren't great literature, but they're generally fun, and you learn a bit about history and art and religion (and, in this case, science) along the way. 

I don't want to give away too much of the plot but (mild spoiler alert!) there are several infertility angles that pop up in its pages.

This was book #20 that I've read so far in 2016.

*** *** ***

Having ploughed through the book, I was ready to see the movie this afternoon. There were some changes from the book -- it was Hollywood-ized in some respects, not all of them good, although the twists remain (with a few more added). (I won't go into details, so as not to spoil things for those of you who haven't read the book or seen the movie.) 

Still, I enjoyed it. (Dh hadn't read the book yet, and probably enjoyed it as much or more than I did.)  The thing I really like about the movie versions of Brown's books (besides the always-affable Tom Hanks as Langdon) is we get to see the actual places and the artworks that he writes about, instead of trying to imagine them. What's not to like about a trek around Florence, Venice & Istanbul, through secret passages & hallways lined with priceless paintings??

It won't win any Oscars, but it's a fun way to spend the afternoon -- with a big bag of popcorn in hand, of course. ;) Two thumbs up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Call me scentsitive

Living in a condo means living with the occasional sounds & smells coming from your neighbours' unit. Being a largely Italian community, the smell of tomato sauce, onions & garlic is everywhere at lunchtime on Sunday, lol.  That doesn't bother me much, aside from making me hungry, lol.  We can smell the lemony scent of ammonia when the caretaker is mopping the ceramic tile floor outside the elevators, and the occasional smell of dryer sheets when we have the balcony doors open. We've also smelled the odd skunk outside, even though we're four floors up!

I never used to think of myself as particularly scent-sensitive. I used to love wearing perfume, and only gave it up when I started running into too many "fragrance-free" zone signs at work. I have pump bottles of Softsoap Vanilla Brown Sugar in all of our bathrooms.

On the other hand, my mother was never one for wearing perfume. She was an early adopter of fragrance-free laundry products (I use them too -- I had to run several cleaning cycles to remove the sickly sweet floral fragrance from our washer here -- clearly the previous owner used scented detergent).  Mom has walked out of hotels where she's had reservations because the cleaning staff clearly used a scented spray in the rooms. She claims it bothers her sinuses.

I remember the day I realized I was turning into my mother. I was sitting at my desk at work when a very strong floral smell started wafting into my cubicle. My eyes actually started watering & I got a tickle in my throat. I started coughing. "Does anyone else smell flowers?" I called out. I heard footsteps and a door close. The scent died away shortly after that. I later realized it was one of our young interns who sat near me; she must have heard me and gone to wash off whatever lotion or perfume she was wearing. I felt badly if I embarrassed her, but it really was affecting me.

Since then, I've noticed my increasing intolerance of strong fragrances more & more. I rarely wear perfume these days, even though I'm no longer at work. I've had to roll down the window when we've been in BIL's car, because he has one of those air fresheners in it. Lots of my friends rave about Bath & Body Works;  I can only spend so long in one of those stores. I do like some of their products (the White Citrus shampoo & lotion in particular), but I find the mixture of smells overpowering.

The other night, a strong, fruity/flowery smell started wafting into our unit. I was starting to get a headache. Dh finally opened the door & had a look outside. Someone -- we suspect the caretaker -- had installed one of those plug-in air freshener things into the outlet in the corner just outside our door. Dh noticed another one plugged in at the other end of the hallway, near the garbage disposal room (so it wasn't personal, lol). We have noticed they use these things in the main foyer & in the elevator space in the parking garage, but this was the first time we'd noticed one so close to our own unit. 

Dh unplugged it & moved it further down the hall from our door. It's not as strong now, but we can still smell it. I'm thinking of emailing the property manager about it. I can't believe that in a building of 120+ units, I'm the only one who's bothered by this. I'm a little surprised, actually, given the increasing awareness of scent-sensitivities and fragrance-free zones.

Are you scent-sensitive? Do strong smells bother you? 

Monday, October 24, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Rude awakenings

I was in the middle of a nice sound sleep when I -- we -- were rudely awakened at 5 a.m. by the sound of music. LOUD music.

"What the hell..." dh grumbled. "It's either next door or outside," I muttered. He went into the living room & opened the balcony door, and as he did, the music got louder. "Some $%^&*$! sitting in his car by the gate (to the construction site behind our building) with his car stereo blasting," dh reported as he returned to bed.

As I may have written before, they are building townhouses on the vacant lot behind our condo building. Work isn't supposed to start until 7 a.m. (and THAT frequently wakes us up too -- the rattle, hum and squeak of loud machinery, etc.) so this guy was arriving extra-early for whatever reason. He did turn it down after a few minutes, but we were NOT impressed.

Of course, after that, we couldn't get back to sleep, so we both got up and had our breakfast. Dh is now snoozing on the couch, but I'm wide awake (albeit tired), reading Facebook, sipping my tea and watching CNN.

I'd also woken up at 3 a.m. but was able to go back to sleep after a trip to the bathroom. It's hit & miss for me. I probably wake up at least once during the night -- sometimes I manage to settle back down and fall asleep again, sometimes (more frequently) not. I didn't get to bed until after 11, and probably didn't fall asleep until some time after midnight.

Thank goodness for retirement. I used to hate when this happened & I still had to get up at 5 (so I could get on the train at 6:40 to get to work by 8).

How about you? Do you find you can go back to sleep easily after being woken up in the middle of the night? 

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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Music in the Hills" by D.E. Stevenson

"Music in the Hills" is the latest book under discussion by my D.E. Stevenson Yahoo group, and a sequel to our previous selection, "Vittoria Cottage," featuring some of the same characters.

James, the son of "Vittoria Cottage"'s main protagonist, Caroline, arrives at Mureth, the Scottish border country farm owned & run by his mother's sister, Mamie, and her husband, Jock, with the intention of taking up farming as a career and learning the ropes from his uncle before he buys a place of his own. He's also nursing a broken heart:  in "Vittoria Cottage," we met Rhoda Ware, his childhood friend turned love interest, who is determined to pursue a career as an artist. This being early 1950s England, she turns down James's proposal, adamant that art and marriage (and most especially a family) do not mix. In Mureth, he meets Holly Douglas, the pretty niece of the local lord, as well as other new friends, including Daniel Reid, a newly hired shepherd who recently returned to the area where he grew up after years of travelling the world.

I loved this book for all the usual reasons I love Stevenson's work: the wonderful characters, the vivid descriptions, and the strong sense of morality, compassion and common sense. It's the literary equivalent of comfort food. 

But this book especially touched my heart for another reason: Mamie & Jock are childless (not by choice), and there are several passages where it's clear how this has affected their lives -- most especially in Chapter Three, where Mamie is telling James stories about her parents and sisters, and how her parents were lonely in their old age:
"It seemed rather bad luck to have had four daughters and not to have one left at home -- and none of their daughters was much good to them. Caroline never could leave Arnold -- he was so awfully selfish -- and Jean was in America and Harriet was simply wrapped up in her theatrical career."  
"But you were here, quite near them!"  
"Yes," agreed Mamie tepidly. "Yes, but they weren't -- they're weren't very..." She paused. She was busy trying to find the exact shade of brown for the sock she was darning. 
"They weren't very what?" asked James.  
"Very proud of me," said Mamie. "There was nothing to be proud of was there? They had nothing in common with Jock. I don't mean there was a feud, but they just weren't interested in Jock's kind of things, and of course I had no children."  
James was silent for a moment...
I got tears in my eyes reading this. While I know how much my parents wanted to be grandparents, and while I've felt a great deal of guilt about that, I have never felt they weren't proud of me. But I know this has been an issue for some of you, and I felt so badly for Mamie that her parents made her feel this way about herself.

What James doesn't know is that (provided he decides the farming life is what he wants) Jock and Mamie intend to make him their heir and bequeath Mureth to him when they are gone. Their love for their nephew is clear, and "Music in the Hills" reminds me (in several places) about the important, nurturing role that childless adults can play in the lives of the children and young people around them.

The other thing I like about "Music in the Hills" from a childless perspective is that, while it's clear both Jock & Mamie wanted children and feel their absence keenly, they also have a wonderful marriage and enjoy their life together at Mureth tremendously. In our introduction to Jock in Chapter One, we learn that he
"...had been born in Mureth House -- so had his father and grandfather -- it was a pity he had no children to carry on the tradition, to run about the old place and waken it to life with noise and laughter, but in other ways he was fortunate and knew it."  
There is one more book in this series, which will be our group's next selection for discussion in early 2017: "Shoulder the Sky." I'm looking forward to it!

This was book #19 that I've read to date in 2016.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen

When dh & I heard that Bruce Springsteen was publishing a memoir this fall, there was absolutely no question that we would be heading to the local bookstore the day it went on sale -- waiting for the paperback be damned. ;) 

I've written before about the role Bruce played in dh's & my early relationship, but a brief recap:  I was only dimly aware of who Springsteen was (although I'd heard & loved "Prove it all Night" in high school) when I met dh in October 1981 at a dorm party. His residence nickname was "Bruuuuuce," emblazoned on the back of his official floor T-shirt. I remember visiting friends on his floor & poking my head in the open door of his room to say hello (we all did that in those days).

"Who's the hunk on your wall?" I asked, indicating the poster of a good-looking guy, onstage in a dynamic guitar hero pose, tacked up over his bed. "That's Bruce Springsteen," he explained patiently. Thankfully, he didn't hold my ignorance against me ;) and before long, he was playing me all of Bruce's albums (on cassettes on his boombox)(and before long, I was buying copies for myself). (The poster is somewhere in a box in the depths of my parents' basement... if I ever retrieve it, I'm going to frame it & hang it on the wall of our office. ;)  ) We've seen him twice together (although dh saw him several times in the late 1970s/early 1980s before he met me), once in August 1985 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto during, shortly after we returned from our honeymoon, and once in 1992 at the SkyDome, sans the E Street Band -- a last-minute bit of luck, when a work friend of dh's couldn't attend and sold his tickets to us at face value. I seriously considered Bruce as a middle name for a boy, should we have had a son.

Anyway -- Sept. 27 rolled around (finally!!) and off to the bookstore we went. (Fortunately for our budget, the book was instantly on sale for 40% off, lol.)

The guy can write. We all knew he could write music, of course, but "Born to Run" is a wonderful book, written in a distinctive voice, chock full of glorious details, personal reflections and a wonderful, wry sense of humour.  I especially loved the early parts of the book where he writes about growing up in a tight-knit but troubled family in Freehold, New Jersey, and his early days as a musician (like many others of his generation, inspired first by Elvis & then by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones).  He delves into his troubled relationship with his father, famously expressed in songs like "Factory," "Adam Raised a Cain" and "Independence Day." He writes about his marriages, including his first marriage to actress Julianne Phillips (he admits he was not a good husband and regrets the way he handled things). As publicized, he writes with brutal honesty about the mental illness that plagued his father and the anxiety and depression that haunt him personally to this day. And yes, there are glimpses of Bruce the proud dad of three children, now in their 20s. (Encouraged by his wife Patti, he started getting up early -- anathema to a rock star! -- to make them breakfast, and concludes that if the rock and roll thing doesn't work out, he could find work as a breakfast chef in a diner somewhere. ;) )  

If you are a Springsteen fan, this is an absolute must-read. Even if you're not, it would probably still be a worthwhile read, because it's such great writing and storytelling.

*** *** ***

ALI notes:

Having read Peter Ames Carlin's "Bruce" some time ago (reviewed here), I already knew the story of Bruce's aunt Virginia (his father's older sister), who was run over while riding her tricycle as a toddler, and the lingering effect her tragic death had on the family for generations to come. 

But Bruce's book did shed new light on some characters I remembered reading about (in Dave Marsh's first book about Springsteen from the early 1980s, also called "Born to Run"):  Tex Vinyard and his wife Marion, who mentored and managed Bruce's teenaged band, the Castiles, in the mid-1960s.

What I didn't realize or remember: Tex and Marion were childless. Bruce and his friends were their "kids."  Writes Bruce:
They were friends of George [Theiss, also a member of the Castiles] who had decided to surrender the fifteen square feet of what was called their dining room to local teenage noisemakers. It was a very informal neighbourhood, black and white separated somewhat by the rug mill but generally hanging around the streets together, with Tex and Marion's tiny apartment seeming to be the hub on some sort of neighborhood teen club. They were in their thirties and childless, so they took in "strays," kids who either didn't have much of a home life or were just looking to get out of the house to someplace less confining and a little more welcoming. Tex was a temperamental, redheaded, comb-overed, loudmouthed, lascivious, pussy-joke-telling factory worker... He was also generous, loving, sweethearted and one of the most giving adults I'd met up to that time. 
Tex and Marion seemed stranded between the teen world and adulthood, so they made a home for themselves and a surrogate parental life somewhere in the middle. They weren't your parents but they weren't your peers either. As we howled away, pushing out the walls of their little home with banging guitars and crashing drums, with the neighbours a mere two inches of drywall away (what tolerance!), they made the rules and set the agenda for what would fly and what would not.... Tex became our manager and Marion the house mother and seamstress to a team of misfit townie rock-'n-rollers.  
Tex was my first surrogate father figure. He was loving in his own twisted way. More important, he was accepting. He cherished and encouraged your talents, took you for who you were and put his time, muscle, money and big black Cadillac, hauling equipment, all in the service of your dreams...   
There were adults like Tex and Marion all across the United States, real unsung heroes of rock-'n-roll who made room in their homes and in their lives to cart the equipment; to buy the guitars; to let out their basements, their garages, for practice sessions;  who'd found a place of understanding between the two combative worlds of teen life and adulthood. They would support and partake in the lives of their children. Without folks like these, the basements, the garages, the Elks clubs, the VFW halls would've been empty, and skinny, dreaming misfits would've had no place to go to learn how to turn into rock-'n-roll heroes. (from Chapter 13, "The Castiles," pp. 68-71)
Just think -- without the support, encouragement, mentorship and management provided by this  childless couple, would young Bruce Springsteen have become Bruce Springsteen, international rock superstar? Something to ponder...

(OK, the "stranded between the teen world and adulthood" line made me wince a little, but I'll forgive him... ;)  )

This was book #18 that I've read so far in 2016.

Monday, October 17, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Filling the gap

Last Friday, dh & I took one of his widowed aunts to a medical appointment with a specialist at one of the city's largest hospitals. She'd waited two months to get the appointment and then had to reschedule it twice, and in the meantime, fretted herself into a frenzy over the issue she wanted to check out. Her daughter had already scheduled a day off work to take her, but at the last minute, a funeral in her husband's family took precedence. Her other daughter is in the middle of renovations and was supervising contractors and workers. Aunt drives, but does not like navigating through unfamiliar territory, nevermind on the busy highways that run through the city (and who can blame her??). And since English is her second language (although she speaks it very well), she wanted someone with her to ensure she and the doctor understood each other. 

So on Wednesday night, we got the call: could we take her?

Of course we could. :)  Happily, the problem turned out to be something common and treatable. We took Aunt to get her prescription filled and then she took us out for brunch as a thank you, and we had a nice visit. She thanked us repeatedly, as did both her daughters.

Two thoughts: (1) This is one of the nice things about moving here (and being retired ;) ) -- being closer not only to BIL & his family, but to more of dh's aunts & cousins, and being able to help out at times like these. And (2) even people with kids sometimes need other people (nieces and nephews, friends & neighbours) to step in and fill the gap when they need assistance. I sometimes wonder whether our nephews will be able & willing to help out dh & me down the road -- you HOPE they will, but you never know, right?

But knowing how happy it made dh to be able to help his aunt gives me hope that our nephews might feel the same way about us someday, too. :) 

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"The Girl on the Train" movie

Hmmm.... maybe "The Girl on the Train" wasn't the wisest pick for a movie to see on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day??  :p   I'd read the book, and the movie version looked good, and came out about a week ago. Dh (having sat with me through "Gone Girl," lol) was not interested but SIL was, so we went together on Saturday night and then to dinner together afterwards, just the two of us. It's been a long time since I had a chicks outing like that. Much as I love spending time with dh, sometimes it's nice to get out & do things with your girlfriends, you know?

Anyway, I had read the book a while back (reviewed here) -- and while I did remember that the central figure, Rachel, was unhappily childless, I didn't remember just how central infertility, loss and motherhood (and the conflict between mothers and childless women) were to the plot. I had to struggle to keep my emotions (& my tears) in check in several scenes. I still enjoyed the movie overall -- aside from moving the location from London to New York, it was quite faithful to the book, beautifully filmed -- and I thought Emily Blunt was brilliant as Rachel -- but it still does bother me that she's such a pathetic figure -- one that's (sadly)(still!!) entirely too common in pop culture/media portrayals of childless women. Apparently infertility & childlessness can drive you to drink, divorce, unemployment, homelessness, stalking, and maybe even murder -- who knew, right?? :p  (Although (spoiler alert!) Rachel is sort of vindicated in the end.)

I think we childless women deserve a whole lot better.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Right now...

Right now... (an occasional meme): 

Recuperating: From Oldest Nephew's wedding. I didn't feel back to anything approaching normal or caught up on sleep until the middle of the week afterward. Between that (two weekends past now), and the Thanksgiving long weekend this past weekend, I seriously am having trouble keeping track of what day it is.

Reading:  Bruce Springsteen's new memoir, "Born to Run." And trying to find time to start "Music in the Hills" by D.E. Stevenson (my Yahoo group's current novel under discussion -- will need to catch up...!), and to read Dan Brown's "Inferno" before the movie version starts on Oct. 28th...!

Watching:  The new season of "Poldark" on PBS. The only new show we've really been watching so far is "Designated Survivor" with Kiefer Sutherland. I must admit I find it kind of amusing that the son of a former Black Panther supporter (Shirley Douglas) and grandson of the socialist premier of Saskatchewan (Tommy Douglas) who is considered the father of Canada's universal health care system would be playing the President of the United States. ;)   Not sure how many Americans realize this...!  ;)

Listening:  To the sounds of the construction machinery & workers on the townhouse site behind us. It is loud (often wakes us up before 7 a.m....!), but it's not going to last forever, and it's actually kind of fascinating to watch the process unfold.

Also listening to the Bob Dylan soundtrack in my head since the announcement this morning that he's won the Nobel Prize (!).  For some reason "It Ain't Me Babe" (as sung by the Turtles) is predominant. I knew lots of Dylan songs, growing up, before I ever actually heard one sung BY Dylan, lol. "Mr. Tambourine Man" (The Byrds), "The Mighty Quinn" (Manfred Mann), "If Not for You" (Olivia Newton-John), "All Along the Watchtower" (Jimi Hendrix), "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (Linda Ronstadt).  We sang "Blowing in the Wind" ad nauseum in grade school... I got thoroughly sick of it & still find myself rolling my eyes when I hear it.  (Sorry, Bob.) I don't know if I have a favourite Dylan song, but the first one I remember hearing on the radio that made an impression on me, I think, was "Knocking on Heaven's Door." I still like that one. :)

(Dylan, of course, was born in Minnesota, where my family has roots... he is the same age as my mother, and I have read that he got his start playing coffeehouses around the University of Minnesota campus around 1959-60.  My mother was going to nursing school in the same area at the same time... I find it amusing to think they may have crossed paths at some point!) 

Drinking:  Tea -- my preferred caffeine fix. :)   

Eating: Supper tonight: dh's favourite chickpeas with tubetti pasta.

Wearing:  Sadly, I have had to trade in my capris & sandals for long jeans/yoga pants, socks & shoes, and sweaters or jackets outside. The weather here is still pretty nice, but there is a definitely chill in the air that says autumn is really here (and winter will soon be on its way...).  

Following: The U.S. election. (Against my better judgment, perhaps?? lol) I can't wait for it to be over, and I'm Canadian -- I can't imagine the election fatigue Americans must be feeling...!

Loving:  The autumn colours, approaching their peak. Some have said they are not as vibrant this year because of the hot, dry summer we had, but they still look pretty good to me... ;)

Investigating: Flights for Christmas (already!)(and there's already a dwindling selection of times & prices for certain dates...!).

Contemplating:  Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Week & Day (this Saturday the 15th). I've seen some great articles online on the topic. The day was officially proclaimed by the province of Ontario this year, and in a growing number of Ontario cities. Slowly but surely, we are making progress and making our voices heard on these important issues!

Trying:  To motivate myself to get some of the longstanding items on my to-do list crossed off.  Procrastination, thy name is Loribeth. :p

Monday, October 10, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving here in Canada -- and I guess it's no secret to regular readers here that (like many other childless/free women) I have mixed feelings about this and other such holidays that are heavily family-oriented. Christmas is generally not an issue (or as much of an issue) for me, as we have always travelled to be with my family (and get thoroughly stuffed with traditional goodies, lol :) ).   Thanksgiving and Easter, however, we often find ourselves at loose ends -- adding to my/our feelings of "otherness" as the lone childless couple on both sides of dh's extended family.

BIL often winds up with his inlaws, and although we are often invited to join them (and have done so on a few occasions), it always feels a bit like we are crashing the party. Depending on his & stepMIL's own plans, FIL might call us to join them -- or not. Such invitations often come at the last minute, leaving me feeling resentful and like a bit of an afterthought. Personally, I would much prefer us to simply make our own plans, perhaps spend the weekend at a resort up north, admiring the fall colours, or treat ourselves to a swanky Thanksgiving buffet at one of the downtown hotels -- but dh feels like as long as his father is still with us, he should be there for him. I respect that, although the lack of clarity around these holidays always leaves me feeling frustrated. This year, however, we're a 45-minute drive away from FIL, versus the previous 15, and dh might not be as inclined to accept a last-minute invitation. Holidays are supposed to be happy times, but I'll admit I am usually relieved when they are over and we can get back to our normal routines.

Nevertheless, this IS THANKSgiving, and despite my whining (sorry!) there is much I can be thankful for:
  • My wonderful dh. I'll admit that his determination to sell our house & move into a condo put some strain on our relationship earlier this year -- but we both survived. He is much happier these days -- and, as a result, so am I. ;) 
  • Our lovely new home. I wasn't sure about condo living (and I'm still not enthralled by the town itself where we're living), but we definitely found the right condo. :)
  • Our wonderful families, who have always loved and supported us (even if they haven't always understood our decisions).  
  • Our two nephews. Being an aunt is not a substitute for being a parent -- but it's pretty damned special in its own right. ;)  I still can't believe they are all grown up and getting married (the years went by waaaayyyyy too fast...!). Getting to be part of Older Nephew's big day earlier this month was an experience I will always treasure.
  • Early retirement, with its freedom from the daily stresses of working and commuting.
  • The great weather we've been having lately (nephew's wedding day notwithstanding...!).  I only JUST (reluctantly!) relinquished my capris & sandals. It's chillier these days (long pants, socks and sweaters or jackets required), but still sunny and pleasant outside.
  • The beautiful autumn colours, just now revealing themselves.
  • Being Canadian. :) I live in an amazing country. :)  
  • Social media. It's not always a good thing -- but I've been able to reconnect with friends & relatives I haven't heard from in years (including one just yesterday), and I so enjoy being able to stay in touch this way. And I've made some great new friends online over the past 20 years too -- present company included! ;)
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving now, in November, some other time, or not at all, what are you thankful for?

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

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wedding wrapup :)

Oldest Nephew waits for his bride
and the big "reveal."
* Sorry to have missed #MicroblogMonday this week. It's not often that I do, but needless to say, I've been busy. ;) 
* The waterproof mascara was put to the test multiple times over several days, and performed beautifully. I originally bought a tube of Maybelline Great Lash (= cheap), and it was OK, but it didn't quite lengthen my lashes as much as I like, so I coughed up the extra money and bought a tube of Clinique, which looked great and worked equally well.
* There were more than a few glitches along the way. To name a few: it rained, so the outdoor ceremony the bride & groom had wanted so much had to be moved indoors... the limo blew a tire on the way from the bride's home to the wedding venue, with the entire bridal party inside (fortunately, the bride's parents, dh & I were travelling the same route, not long afterwards, saw the limo pulled over by the side of the road, & were able to ferry the passengers in batches to the hall, which wasn't too far away)... and the newlyweds' planned honeymoon at a luxury resort in Jamaica had to be rescheduled because of hurricane Matthew. (They spent a few days in Niagara Falls instead.)
* But it was still a beautiful day, & everyone had a fabulous time. :)
* It didn't pour all day, and we were able to take some photos outside. The light from the overcast sky was actually probably better than if the sun had been blazing, and the leaves were just starting to change colour. Even the candid snaps I took look fabulous.
* The puppy spent the day/night at a kennel. :)  (I know some of you were wondering, lol.)
* Oldest Nephew looked so handsome in his new blue suit. When dh & I arrived at his parents' house, he was out on the back deck, having his photo taken with his parents. One look and... cue the waterworks!!
* The bride looked equally stunning. Her dress was sort of an antique ivory lace, strapless and mermaid style with a bow and train at the back. No veil. The bridesmaids' dresses were long and lacy, a deep purple/burgundy shade. Gorgeous colour for fall!
* My own dress (purchased last March) was an absolute smash hit. (There's a photo at the bottom of this post. I may or may not delete it after a few days.) I got tons of compliments on it. It will be hard to find something equally or more fabulous for Younger Nephew's wedding in Spring 2018. But I guess I have time to start hunting!  lol  
* My shoes were killing me within about 10 minutes of putting them on. Thank goodness I brought flipflops (elegant black & silver ones that went with my dress, lol) -- I thought I would change into them later for dancing, but they came in very handy throughout the day!
* Emotional as the day was for dh & me, it was also extremely emotional for the bride and her family, for more than the usual reasons. Her father died when she was a little girl;  they honoured him in several ways, including displaying his framed photo in the foyer at the reception with a boutonniere beside it.
* The bride danced the traditional father-daughter dance with her mother's partner, who has been like a father to her.  This is always an emotional part of any wedding for dh & me, for obvious reasons, and even more so on this occasion.
* I had not heard the music for the father-daughter dance before, but I looked it up and apparently it was written and sung by Michael Bolton (!). Read the lyrics and you'll understand why I was in tears for more reason than one. Dh had left the table before the dance was announced, but I saw him come in and our eyes met across the room as we both watched: 

"Fathers And Daughters (Never Say Goodbye)"

If I could catch a star for you I swear I'd steal them all tonight
To make your every wish come true and every dream for all your life

But that's not how the story goes
The world is full of perfect plans
If there's a promise that I broke, I know one day you will understand

When times are hard I know you'll be strong
I'll be there in you heart when you'll carry on
Like moonlight on the water, and sunlight in the sky
Fathers and daughters never say goodbye

An Angel I will read to sleep, gave me one dream of my own
So learn to love and spread your wings, and find the one to call your home

When times are hard I know you'll be strong
I'll be there in you heart when you'll carry on
Like moonlight on the water, and sunlight in the sky
Fathers and daughters never say goodbye

When times are hard I know you'll be strong
I'll be there in you heart when you'll carry on
Like moonlight on the water, and sunlight in the sky

Fathers and daughters never say goodbye
Fathers and daughters never say goodbye

I don't often post photos of myself on my blog,
but with this dress to show off, I couldn't resist. ;)
Isn't it fabulous??
(And I don't look half bad in it either, lol. ;)  )

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Anyone know where the blogrolls that used to sit on the right-hand side of the page have disappeared to???  Any other Blogger users notice this?? (I generally read my blogs from a blog reader, but the blogrolls were also a handy access point, and also a way to give recognition to the blogs I like to read.)