Friday, June 29, 2018


*  Thank Goodness for Sisters-in-Law!! 

BIL called yesterday. I guess SIL told him flatly that SHE didn't want to go on Saturday either.  Like me, she thought that getting up at the crack of dawn & driving more than an hour just to sit outside for hours on end in 46C humidex weather -- forecasters are calling it "the most significant heat event in years" -- is the definition of insanity. 

So we're not going after all!!  -- we'll go to visit FIL (as usual) instead. (What a relief!!)  

She's getting a big hug when I see her tomorrow -- I owe her!! ;)   

*** *** ***

On the subject of hot weather -- would you believe our condo building's air conditioning unit conked out, sometime between Wednesday evening & Thursday morning??  (The cooling/heating unit is centrally located;  each unit can control its own temperature (to a point...) & has an individual fan coil unit & air filter.)  I kind of THOUGHT it was feeling a little "close" on Thursday morning, even looked at the thermostat, but it was 74F, which is what it should be, so I didn't think much of it -- until, as we were heading out to the mall for a few hours, we ran into a neighbour in the elevator, who informed us the a/c for the whole building was out. Not exactly what you want to hear, heading into a weekend where the temperatures are going to be as hot as (if not hotter than) Baghdad!!  

When we got back home a few hours later, there were signs up by the elevators saying the a/c was out, service technicians had been called but they didn't know when things would be running again (great). The temp in our unit had gone up to 76F, and increased to 79F before we went to bed. The fan was running, circulating air. It wasn't hot air, but it wasn't cold air either.  And there are only three vents for the entire 874-square-foot unit, one in each main room/space. 

The good news: the indoor temp dropped two degrees to 77F overnight, and the a/c kicked back in around 9:30 this morning. The bad news? It's already so hot out there (38C humidex today) that even though the a/c is spitting out cold air once again, the temp merely held at 77F for most of the day -- and then actually went UP a degree to 78F in the late afternoon. It's still 78F!! although the humidity has dropped, from 63% this morning to 56% right now. Here's hoping it will drop a few more degrees overnight, because tomorrow is going to be a scorcher... 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"Why Have Kids?" by Jessica Valenti

"Most people get flowers when they give birth -- I got a two-pound baby and a failing liver," reads the first sentence of Jessica Valenti's 2012 book, "Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness."  (She had me at hello!)

Unlike some authors exploring the "why have/should I have kids?" question, Valenti is a parent:  as the opening of her book suggests, her daughter Layla was born prematurely and spent time in a NICU after Valenti developed pre-ecclampsia & HELLP syndrome. This experience left the author with a case of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the increasing realization that modern motherhood is not all it's cracked up to be.

"This was not what I expected," she confesses. "The seductive lie that parenting will fulfill our lives blinds Americans to the reality of having kids."

Valenti explores the disconnect that exists between the popular, idealized images of parenting and motherhood, and the cold hard reality -- between the lip service paid to the importance of motherhood in our society, and the sad lack of support provided.  Some of the wide range of topics discussed include whether having kids makes you happy, whether women are "natural parents," whether motherhood is "the hardest job in the world" (and whether it's actually a job or a relationship), working moms vs stay-at-home moms, attachment parenting and breastfeeding, and much more.

There is even an entire chapter devoted to those who choose NOT to have children, and some of the reasons why.  I do wish Valenti had given at least a nod to those of us who have endured infertility and/or are living childless NOT by choice, and the impact that pronatalism has had on our decisions -- both the decision to endure treatment & losses in pursuing our dream of having children, and, ultimately, the decision to walk away from parenthood, in the face of overwhelming societal pressure not to give up.  (Infertility is mentioned, but mostly within the context of reproductive choice.)  Still, there is a lot here that I think many of us will relate to, even if we wound up living without children.

It's not a long book, but Valenti covers a lot of ground here, and in a thorough, readable way. I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. (A preview of "Why Have Kids?" is available through Goodreads.)

(I lucked into an e-copy of this book for $1.99 (US) via Amazon... I have a Kobo for an e-reader, not a Kindle, but I can still read Kindle books via an app on both my cellphone &/or my laptop. :)  I previously read & reviewed Valenti's memoir, "Sex Object," here.)

This was book #13 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 54% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) AHEAD of schedule -- by not just one but TWO books!! -- to meet my goal!  :)  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tuesday odds & ends

  • Today was my annual Pap/checkup in the city with Dr. Ob-Gyn. The province decided a few years ago that most women only need Paps done every 3 years (= they will only pay for one every 3 years, under most circumstances) -- but since I had an abnormal Pap in the past (albeit almost 20 years ago...!), I can still get one done annually. And if that didn't qualify me, I think the fact that I am 57-frickin-years-old and still getting fairly regular visits from Aunt Flo would qualify me for a visit, don't you??  ;)  
    • It is exactly 20 years since I first became Dr. Ob-Gyn's patient, albeit for very different reasons (i.e., my pregnancy with Katie). He saw me through that pregnancy -- and its awful aftermath -- did some infertility testing for me, got me a referral to an RE, and has done my Pap every year since then. As he looked through my folder today, he remarked, "That's 20 years!"  Yep. He still has the same nurse & same office manager too. I am going to miss them all. Because... 
    • ...he told me he is retiring next year. :(  He said I should still be able to get in one more visit before he goes. I hope so. I am going to miss him, and his staff.  I imagine my family dr will do my Paps for me in the future. 
    • Once again, he told me he didn't think my (very) delayed menopause was anything to worry about. He said I'm definitely on the far end of the spectrum (!) -- but still on the spectrum -- and he didn't notice anything during the exam or in what I told him about my periods to give him concern. 
    • The place was packed with pregnant women/couples, but to be honest, I barely gave it a thought this time -- even though it WAS 20 years. Progress!!   
    • Afterwards, I went SHOPPING!!  ;)  
  • One of dh's cousins from Italy is visiting for a couple of weeks, along with her newlywed husband. (Everyone wants to spend their honeymoon with a couple dozen relatives in Canada, right??)  There was a big family get-together to welcome them last Saturday. This Saturday, the cousins are planning to spend the day at a lakeside park/beach/campground with kids, boats & barbecues. Reasons why I am not entirely enthusiastic about this prospective outing: 
    • I love dh's family, and these gatherings can be fun... once in a while. ;)  But we just saw them all last week. I don't understand or speak Italian (and with the cousins from Italy here, there will be lots of Italian spoken, especially if the aunts & uncles come too...) -- and, of course, since a lot of the conversation I CAN hear & understand is focused on the kids...! -- I often find myself tuning out & getting a little bored.  
    • It's going to be the Saturday on a long weekend (Canada Day) just after school's ended, so the park is bound to be packed... so we will need to be there early to snag picnic tables, parking spots, etc.. The park opens at 8 a.m., and it's more than an hour's drive from here... so BIL is picking us up around 6:30 a.m. (!!!).  (I said, "Can't we let the cousins go stake out a spot & just show up later??"  They all live a lot closer to the park than we do...!) 
    • Today is day 44 & I've had PMS symptoms over the past few days -- meaning it's entirely possible Aunt Flo might show up, with her impeccable sense of timing...!  :p 
    • And finally:  Saturday's forecast: 35C (that's 95F) with a projected humidex of 46C (almost 115F). :p  'Nuff said. :p  
  • Dh went to visit FIL yesterday, but he slept almost the entire time dh was there... as he did when dh last visited. StepMIL says he is eating better lately, though, which is good to hear.   
  • My own father asked me (again) when I talked to them this weekend if I knew when or whether we were coming home this summer. I told him I just didn't know. :(  

Monday, June 25, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: When life meets art


The television adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale" continues to enthrall -- and depress.  One of the things that most amazes me is how closely the TV show is reflecting current events.

Last week (season 2, episode 9, "Smart Power), the Commander & his wife paid an official visit to Canada -- and were asked to leave early by the Canadian government, when letters surfaced that made clear the human rights abuses endured by the handmaids and others oppressed by the Gilead regime.  This episode aired just after the current U.S. president left a G-7 meeting in Quebec, launched a trade war against my country, and made disparaging remarks about our prime minister.

This week (season 2 episode 10, "The Last Ceremony"), June/Offred was finally, briefly, reunited with her daughter Hannah, who was torn from her arms in the very first episode of the show as the family tried to flee Gilead to Canada. As I watched (& sobbed) as Hannah was torn from her arms again, after a brief 10-minute visit, sobbing "Mommy!"  I could not help but think of the families who are being torn apart right now, simply for seeking asylum at the U.S./Mexico border, as they flee the violence in their own countries. The trees outside the house where June meets Hannah are bare & there is snow on the ground -- meaning the episode was filmed several months ago -- but the subject matter could not be more topical.

Margaret Atwood, who wrote the book the TV series is based on, has said there is nothing in "The Handmaid's Tale" that hasn't happened somewhere in the world, at some time in history. The book was written more than 30 years ago but as the television adaptation is showing, it's sadly more relevant than ever....

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

"Troll Nation" by Amanda Marcotte


1.To fish for by trolling
2.a: to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
b: to act as a troll

--, 2017
(from the Introduction)

*** *** ***

I have been reading Amanda Marcotte's work on Salon.and other (mostly online) publications for several years now, and following her on social media. Raised in Texas, she has made a name for herself writing about feminism, environmentalism, and the ongoing culture war politics of the United States.

As you can imagine with a provocative subtitle like "How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself ," Marcotte's latest book, "Troll Nation," will likely NOT appeal to anyone who voted for the current occupant of the White House. ;)

For those of us with a more liberal bent to our politics, though ;)  Marcotte's book is a good look at how our political discourse (and not just in the U.S.) has been hijacked by trolls, mostly coming from the right wing of the political spectrum. 

"...trolling liberals is no longer considered just a fun sport, but the ultimate purpose of conservative politics," Marcotte writes. "The idea of making a positive argument in favor of conservative values has atrophied, leaving only the desire to troll in its place."  (p. xvi) 

Marcotte looks at how this "desire to troll" has played out in the areas of political correctness, women, the environment, health care, guns, race, conspiracy theories and the media. She also profiles "case studies" of some recognizable right-wing public figures who have contributed to the current environment. 

(Personally, I find it hard to believe that the desire to annoy liberals is the ONLY thing going on with the right today... but it does explain a lot...!) 

My one major reservation/complaint about this book is that Marcotte offers little in the way of ideas as to what can be done to restore a more reasoned/factual/respectful/civil tone to public life. "We can't fix troll nation," she concludes. (p. 184)  But she finds a glimmer of hope in the fact that Hillary Clinton received more votes than Donald Trump in the 2016 election. "And the blunt fact of the matter is that it was only so close because so few Americans vote... we've had the power this whole time. We just need to channel it."  (pp. 184-185)  In other words, get out & VOTE, people!

Overall, I thought this was an engaging and (mostly) well-written read. (As a couple of reviewers noted on, Marcotte's writing does tend to hyperbole at times... and there were a few typos that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book -- it's the editor in me...!)  I rated it four stars on Goodreads -- I would have voted 3.5 if I could figure out how to assign a half star. ;)  It's not long, a slim volume and a quick read, under 200 well-spaced pages in a generous type size.

If this sounds interesting to you, and you'd like to sample the book before buying or borrowing to read further, the introduction is available on Salon, here.

This was book #12 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 50% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book AHEAD of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Small pleasures

  • Having our condo windows washed for the first time since we moved here, more than two years ago!! They've been putting it off (again & again & again...) because of all the construction work going on around us, constantly kicking up dust & dirt, but happily, the townhouse developer agreed to pay for it. (They didn't do the balcony doors, since the balconies get in the way of moving their platform up & down -- we'll need to do that ourselves. But it all helps...!) 
  • The stunning sunsets we can see almost every night from our condo balcony/living room. (For whatever reason, they are more visible and more beautiful in the summer.)  Dh thinks I'm boring people because I'm constantly taking photos of them & posting them on my social media feeds, but I don't care. ;)  (See below!) 
  • Being able to open the balcony doors again & let the fresh air in, after a couple of days of stifling hot, humid weather. 
  • Indulging in cheap summer T-shirts (even cheaper on sale!) from Old Navy. 
  • Seeing Oldest Nephew post a photo on Instagram of his new vinyl purchases (and what purchases -- Seals & Croft!  Santana!!  Marvin Gaye!!!), sitting on top of the stereo I gave to him. The stereo is 36 years old, and he had to buy new speakers for it (much smaller than the gargantuan boxes that came with it, lol), but I am so happy he is using & loving it. 
  • Extremely cheap but still extremely delicious leftover Easter chocolate, heavily discounted at the Lindt outlet store. :)  
  • The first local strawberries of the season. :) 
  • An empty laundry basket (for now, anyway...!), after doing load after load of laundry. 
Last night's sunset, from my (newly washed!) bedroom window. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Father's Day weekend odds & ends

  • Yesterday was Father's Day, and as usual, I told dh the day's agenda was his to determine. We decided to go see "The Incredibles 2" (we both enjoyed the original movie enormously) -- even though it was opening weekend, which we normally try to avoid. But although we arrived in plenty of time, the local multiplex was swarming with parents & kids, and when I went to purchase tickets, I learned that (even though we just wanted to see the plain vanilla version -- no 3D, no AVX, no IMAX, no D-Box, etc.) there was assigned seating -- and all that was left was the very front row. :p  We said thanks but no thanks, bought some popcorn to munch on en route home, and left. Will try again in another week or two, when the crowds have (hopefully) thinned out... 
    • We went home, and dh promptly fell asleep on the couch. When he woke up, he proclaimed he'd had a great day. (?!!) Whatever makes him happy, I guess...!  ;)     
    • We went to visit FIL on Saturday with BIL, SIL, the nephews & their wives (boy, it feels weird typing that...!).  He was not as good as he was when we saw him last week. Still recognizes dh & BIL, recognized SIL (asked her how her own aging father was), but I'm not sure he knew me, and he didn't seem to recognize his grandsons, let alone the girls. :(  
  • SIL found out late last week that she will be losing her job as of Sept. 1st. I won't go into all the details, since her story is not really mine to share -- but she is 53 & has been with her company 28 years;  I lost my job when *I* was 53 & just one month shy of 28 years of service. Eerie, huh?  :(  
    • The nephews were highly indignant on their mom's behalf. Oldest Nephew said his mom should forget about finding another job and just retire. SIL told him bluntly she couldn't afford to just yet. I suppose Oldest Nephew was thinking of dh & me, retiring after losing our jobs in our mid-50s. But of course, unlike his parents, we didn't raise two children and just finish paying for (part of) two big weddings...!  
  • After a couple of months of prolific blogging (15 posts in March, 17 in April, 18 in May...), I seem to be in a bit of a slump again. But that's OK. I've been blogging long enough to know the muse comes and goes. 
  • One of these days, I will write a #MM post that's not made up of bullet points, lol. (But today isn't it...!)  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness" by Lesley Pyne

While the childless-not-by-choice (CNBC) segment of the adoption/loss/infertility (ALI) blogging community may (still) be on the small side, we're definitely growing -- and we count some pretty awesome women among our members. We also like to support each other where & when we can. :)

So when Lesley Pyne asked a couple of us if we'd like an advance e-copy of her new book (due June 18th) to read & review, I jumped at the opportunity. :)  (Lesley featured me & my story on her blog back in 2014.)

Lesley -- a survivor of six rounds of IVF -- will be the first to tell you that she never thought she would be using "joy" and "childlessness" in the same sentence -- but these days she is happier than she's ever been, or ever thought possible. "I absolutely love my life and the adventures I'm having, and I'm excited about what will happen next," she says. Her new book --
Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life -- is all about helping you discover that same joy for yourself.

Lesley believes in the importance of story -- that the stories we tell ourselves become our reality. ("If you tell yourself that your life has no meaning and will be miserable, then it will be.  However, if you tell yourself -- like the women you'll meet here -- that there are gifts in the childless life, and you're prepared to do what it takes to receive them, that's what will happen.")  Beyond Lesley's own story, you'll hear from 19 other women who have found themselves living without children, not by choice, and yet gone on to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. (There are some very familiar names among them -- including Jody Day, who wrote the book's foreword, Lisa Manterfield, Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, Linda Rooney, Tracey Cleantis, Jessica Hepburn and Karen Malone Wright.)  I really liked how Lesley groups their stories (or facets of their stories) together, analyzes and then draws common lessons & meaning from them.

Lesley also believes in the importance of grief work -- of facing your grief over not having children and working through it. "Time is a healer to some extent, and healing happens much quicker if you do your grief work," she says.

"The main thing I have learned is that running from grief doesn't work. It will eventually catch you, maybe when you least expect it, so it's better to face it in your own time and your own way."

She offers a number of strategies for working through your grief, including rituals for letting go of the dream of children, reconnecting with your body (she is a big fan of yin yoga), self-acceptance and self-care, developing a writing practice (each chapter comes with journalling prompts to get you thinking and working through the process), telling your story, finding your tribe/support group, practicing gratitude, and reclaiming happiness and joy in your life.

Finally, Lesley shows us how to create new meaning in our lives -- to recognize how we've changed and what we want our lives to look like in the future.

I would have LOVED to have a book like this to lean on when I was first coming to terms with my own permanent childlessness. Even today, some 17 years (!) down this road less travelled, I learned a few new things from Lesley and her storytellers. I am sure you will too, wherever you are in your own journey. I rated this book a solid four stars on Goodreads.

Want to find out more about Lesley & her book?
This was book #11 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 46% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book AHEAD of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

Monday, June 11, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: While I'm alive...

(Mel recently asked us what we want to do before we die/while we're alive. I thought my answer might make a good microblog post. ;)  Slightly edited -- and bullet-pointed, of course. ;)   )
  • I want to travel more, with England/Scotland/Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy and other parts of Europe at the top of my list, as well as PEI & Newfoundland, in my own country. 
  • I want to take dh to New York City (and I REALLY want him to like it, so he’ll go back with me, again & again ;) ). 
  • I want him to take me on a surprise trip, ANYWHERE, even just for the weekend. (I’ve always loved the commercial where the wife is dropping her husband off at the airport -- & he holds up two airplane tickets. ;) ) 
  • I want to put together my family tree research into some semblance of a book & publish it for my relatives -- and I want at least a few of them to care and be excited about it. 
  • I want to meet more of my blogging & other online friends in real life. 
  • I want to see a woman president of the United States (frankly, I thought I’d see one before I ever saw a black man elected to the post…!) and another female prime minister of Canada (who gets to stay in office longer than three months). 
  • I (REALLY) want to see the Donald Trumps & Doug Fords of the world get their just desserts :p and for some semblance of sanity and decency to be restored to public life. 
I could ramble on, but I guess that’s as good a place as any to end. Am I asking for too much??

What would be on your list?

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: A few annoying things...

  • Looking forward to a relaxing browse at the bookstore this afternoon, only to find it was overrun with families/kids when we got there (was there a school holiday or something we didn't know about??). 
    • (Also having to dodge a local author who was aggressively hawking his new book near the front of the store -- and blocking access to the new books section while he was at it. Grrrr....) 
  • People who don't even pause or glance to see if there are cars coming as they amble across the road (whatever happened to looking both ways & making sure you made eye contact with the driver before proceeding??). 
  • The no-good-choices dilemma facing us for our provincial election this Thursday (including a Trump clone who stands a very real chance of becoming premier). :p  
  • White House press conferences (watching one right now -- and wondering why I bother sometimes...!). 
  • Seasonal allergies. :p  They haven't been as bad for me as they sometimes are, but I've been waking up with goopy, gritty eyes lately, and I've been sneezing on & off today. Bring on the Claritin!  
  • Not being able to come up with a different topic for today's #MM post. :p  ;)  

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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Right now

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

Reading: A new book by fellow CNBCer, Lesley PyneFinding Joy Beyond Childlessness. (In fact, it's so new it's not even listed on Goodreads yet...!) It's not officially out until June 18th, but Lesley was kind enough to send me a PDF. (Review to come when I'm done.) Year-to-date, I've finished 10 books (out of my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 24 books).

Recent purchases:
Watching: The Handmaid's Tale," which continues to be gripping, extremely well done television.

I watched a wonderful new adaptation of "Little Women" from PBS recently, with Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, as Jo, and a charming young guy with amazing dimples named Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie. I've seen several different movie & TV adaptations of the novel (I got an abridged version for my 7th birthday, and I sometimes wonder if Jo March was my original inspiration for wanting to be a writer...) -- and I think I still like the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder as Jo and Christian Bale as Laurie best -- but this was very good -- beautifully filmed and acted.

Haven't been to a big-screen movie since "Infinity Wars" on Voldemort Day... hoping to remedy that soon...

(Not) Listening: Every Sunday afternoon, since around the same time I came to Toronto, the local classic rock FM station had a program called "Psychedelic Sunday." featuring music from the era 1965-75 -- album cuts as well as hits. We would often listen in the car as we drove to & from the movies, the bookstore, visiting people... I say "had" and "would," because this past Sunday was the last show. The host -- described as having "a voice that sounds like God's cooler brother" -- had been let go, but he was allowed to host one final show and say goodbye to his loyal listeners. He is, of course, in his early 60s, and the station has been showing the door to a lot of its longer-serving DJs lately, in a quest to appeal to a younger audience. Ageism strikes again!!

(Not) Following: The Stanley Cup (hockey) playoffs no longer interest me, now that my beloved Winnipeg Jets have been eliminated. :( (Besides, I've always thought it was ridiculous to still be playing/watching hockey in June)(which didn't happen when I was younger & the league was smaller).

Drinking/Eating:  Drinking a lot more iced tea lately. ;)

Wearing: Capris, shorts, tank tops, T-shirts and sandals. FINALLY!! :)

Buying (besides books, lol):  I recently bought a couple of new purses. I am very picky about my purses -- they have to be big (but not TOO big, because otherwise I will overload it), preferably with lots of pockets and compartments -- and when I find one(s) that I like, I will scoop it/them up (sometimes buying the same one in different colours), even if I don't think I'll use it right away. I found one purse, deeply discounted, at a Nine West store, which is closing, and couldn't resist the bargain. ;)  I also bought two purses by Jessica Simpson at a discount shoe warehouse store, one in off-white (for summer) and one in brown (for fall). My current purse is a Jessica Simpson and I had another one of hers that I liked (before it fell apart...!). I've never thought much of her singing or TV shows, but I do like her purses. ;)

Wanting:  To visit the gelato shop (sooner vs later, lol).

Loving: The milder weather, the longer days, and the beautiful sunsets in the evening (which seem to happen more frequently in the summer than in the winter -- or maybe we just notice them more...!).

Celebrating: A good dental checkup (albeit still expensive...!).

Recuperating:  Housecleaning on Wednesday; dentist appointment Thursday;  lunch with some online (non-ALI/scrapbooking) friends in the city today. Had a wonderful time, but between the heat & humidity (and the nonstop talking, lol) I am tuckered right out. ;) 

Feeling:  Sad that our summer vacation plans are so up in the air... and then guilty, because of WHY they are up in the air (FIL's illness).  :(