Monday, May 25, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Annoying things & small pleasures (COVID edition)

Annoying things:
  • Seeing news reports of people (groups of mostly young people, it seems) cramming into a downtown park this weekend -- no social distancing, no masks. Seriously??!  One of my friends had commented on Facebook that she was worried about the partial reopenings earlier this week, that if you give some people an inch they'll take a mile, and I think she was right...! 
  • Our neighbours in the unit one below & one over from ours ( = almost directly below our bedroom window), who head out to their balcony to smoke, drink & chat several nights a week -- almost always starting around 11:30 p.m., just as we're usually starting to drift off to sleep. They kept this up all winter long too!!  (I would mutter to dh, "Aren't they cold out there??!")  
  • Jumping almost straight from winter to summer with no real spring... we were still getting snow flurries just two weeks ago (!) & now there's a heat warning for the next few days with temps in the 30C/85F range (not including humidity)... there must be a happy medium...!   
  • Realizing just how out of shape I am, after we started walking again recently... but at least we are trying to improve the situation...!  
Small pleasures:
  • Ordering takeout for Saturday night dinner. :) -- rotisserie chicken & fries the first time, our favourite wood-oven pizza last weekend, and spaghetti agli e olio with rapini from our favourite local Italian restaurant this past Saturday night. The portions were so huge we just split one and saved the other for another dinner (tonight!). We don't have to cook, and we get to enjoy a great meal while supporting a favourite local restaurant (and hopefully keep them in business during these tough times). 
  • Photos of our adorable little Great-Nephew (now 6 months old!) enjoying his new backyard kiddie pool, sent to us by his mom. 
  • (Despite my moaning about the heat warning above...!)  Warm, sunny weather -- at last!!  It's been a VERY looooonnnnngggggg winter (and COVID-19 did not help...)! 
  • Lots of sunshine, streaming through freshly washed windows. 
  • One spectacular sunset after another recently. 
  • Dh brought up the chairs for the balcony from storage, so we can sit out there now with a book & a drink. 
  • Dozens of newly planted trees in the space between our condo building and the new townhouse development behind us. 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here. (This week is #MM #300!)  

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Odds & ends

  • I have not dared to step on a scale since COVID started keeping us all at home -- at least since early March ( = 2.5 months). (Even before that, the numbers were... ummm... not good.  :p )  And until just recently, the weather has not been conducive to walking, to try to keep those numbers down. A few days ago, however, I screwed up my courage and put on my jeans, which I have worn just ONCE since March 12th (for under an hour, on April 2nd, when we went over to BIL's house to deliver Great-Nephew's Easter goodies).  I could still zip them up. :)  #winning? 
  • Most retail shops with a streetfront entrance ( = not in malls) were allowed to reopen here on Tuesday.  Also this week, the premier (finally) announced the cancellation of the rest of the school year this week (although online learning will continue).   He said he just didn't think it was worth the risk to the kids. There were only a few weeks left in the school year anyway, and from what I remember and have heard, June is generally kind of a writeoff month anyway -- field trips, track & field days, movie days, etc.  Overnight summer camps will not operate this summer, although it's possible some day camps will.
  • I thought we were done being woken up early every morning by noisy construction equipment, after the townhouses behind our condo building were finished and occupied last year. Nope!  Landscaping work has been under way for the past several weeks: workers have been building decks built on all the townhouses, erecting backyard fencing around the perimeter of the property, and (best of all) planting dozens and dozens of trees in the open areas behind the townhouses, between the creek and the laneway, and in the big open space that lies between our building and the townhouses. A lot of trees were (sadly) razed to build the townhouses;  I am very glad to see some are being replaced.  
  • I was so excited to learn that CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service, will be showing "Normal People," based on the novel by Sally Rooney (which I read last fall & reviewed here), beginning May 27th. There are 12 half-hour episodes;  two new episodes will be released every Wednesday for six weeks. The book was wonderful and the casting & settings look perfect, from the trailer. Looking forward to this! 
  • A rare article about choosing to live without children after infertility, from Chatelaine (one of Canada's oldest & best-known women's magazines). Head & subhead:  "The Fertility Outcome No One Talks About:  I thought I wanted kids. It turned out it wasn’t that simple." Excerpt: 
I didn’t care if motherhood was still on the table. I just wanted this nightmare to be over. I wanted to go back to a life where fertility was not all I thought about. To wake up in the morning and go to the gym before work, instead of the IVF clinic for cycle monitoring—the daily blood work and ultrasound that had been my routine for the better part of the last 18 months. To fill my evenings with Netflix instead of acupuncture. To not feel pitied by those who knew what I’d been dealing with, or like I was leading a secret life when I spent time with those who didn’t.
    • Thank you, Miranda Steele!  (Caveat: there are links to pregnancy-related articles & photos in the "related stories" at the end and interspersed throughout the article.) 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The journey back

A Facebook find. :) 

"Eric Carmen: Marathon Man" by Ken Sharp & Bernie Hogya

I was recently challenged by a high school classmate on Facebook to post photos of the covers of five albums that influenced my taste in music, over a period of five days. (No explanations, no reviews, just covers.)  It was REALLY hard for me to pick just five albums (let alone resist explaining why I'd chosen them!), but I did it.

One of the albums I chose was "Raspberries Best" a 1976 greatest hits album I'd owned in high school.  I wanted to include an album that represented the power pop/garage band/new wave sounds I have always loved:  tight harmonies, a hook-laden melody, a catchy guitar riff. It's a sound that dates back to the Beatles & the other British Invasion bands of my childhood (and I did have a Beatles album on my list), but I tried to think about what Beatles/British Invasion-influenced music  I'd listened to and been influenced by myself as a teenager. I considered albums I'd loved in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Cheap Trick, The Knack, The Cars, The Bangles and The Romantics -- but decided to go a little further back to Raspberries, power pop ensemble extraordinaire (whose lead singer, Eric Carmen, went on to a successful solo career). :)

I've written before on this blog about Raspberries and my love of power pop, and how my interest in the band was rekindled. Likewise, posting about the album on Facebook got me checking out Raspberries Facebook fan group, as I do periodically. I was tipped off there about a book on Amazon, available in Kindle format, about lead singer Eric Carmen, written by Bernie Hogya (who runs the Eric Carmen website) with Ken Sharp. Within minutes, I had it downloaded to the Kindle app on my cellphone (thus ending my COVID reading slump, for now anyway, lol).

"Eric Carmen: Marathon Man" is your standard rock & roll biography about one of the most influential yet underrated musicians of the 1970s.  Both Raspberries, his best-known band, and Carmen (as a solo artist and songwriter) had some fabulous hits and critical acclaim, but ultimately never achieved lasting success (albeit they have retained a loyal cult following to this day).  In that respect, their story is reminiscent of another great power pop band of the same era, Big Star (which I wrote about here).

Reading this book, I was reminded of another rock & roll memoir I read earlier this year, "Good Lovin'" by Gene Cornish of the Rascals, another great band that never quite achieved the lasting fame it deserved.  Unlike Cornish's book, there's not a whole lot of sex or drugs here.  Like Cornish's book, there is plenty of rock and roll -- including the sadly familiar tales of internal band rivalries and rifts, clashes of egos, mismanagement, record company ripoffs and legal battles.

Both books were self-published. The benefit of self-publishing is that we get to read a story that we probably wouldn't have seen otherwise, about a great-albeit-lesser-known artist/band. The drawback of self-publishing is the lack of professional oversight. Like Cornish's memoir, "Marathon Man" is LONG (about 470 pages!!), rambling and occasionally repetitive, with some spelling errors that a good proofreader would probably have caught.

The writers did a very thorough job of researching their subject and interviewing Carmen and the members of all the bands he's played with over the years, as well as others he met and worked with along the way. There's plenty of name-dropping and cameo appearances by everyone from John Lennon and Joan Jett to Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh, Brian Wilson and Ringo Starr -- and Carmen pulls no punches in letting us know his opinions about everyone, both for better and for worse. (I was tickled to see him give props to Burton Cummings, the former lead singer of the Guess Who and an elder statesman of Canadian rock & roll, from my home province of Manitoba.)

But did we really need to read multiple, detailed versions of the same event from every person involved in it? (Some of the quotes go on for pages -- and it's not always clear whether they came from an interview at the time, or years later in retrospect.) Did we need to see complete tour schedules from 45 years ago? (This kind of material might be interesting to some superfans, but it could have been handled in an appendix at the back.) There's also a lot of very detailed technical explanations about (for example) what microphone was used on what track, what chords were used in what song, and how certain songs came together. Perhaps other musicians might appreciate this knowledge, but most of us simply aren't that interested in that level of detail.

On the flip side, while the level of musical detail in the book is exhaustive, there's very little content about Carmen's personal life, apart from some early chapters about his musical education and awkward school days. I recognize that people are entitled to their privacy, but a little more information might have rounded out the picture better.  At one point, about halfway into the book, he mentions his brother and I thought, "Brother?!  He has a brother??" Apart from names & dates, there's very little information about his two marriages (he's remarried for a third time since this book was written) and two children, although he does talk about how much he loves being a dad. 

For all the book's flaws, though, it was still an interesting and revealing behind-the-scenes look at a great band, singer and songwriter. I especially enjoyed reading the final few chapters about the original Raspberries' reunion shows (2004-09). There's no explanation about why there haven't been any further shows since then (Carmen & the other band members are now all 70 or thereabouts), but it does end the book on a high note.

Even if you're not interested in reading this book, I would highly recommend finding and watching some clips from the Raspberries' reunion shows on YouTube (at one time, you could view an entire concert, but it doesn't seem to be there any more -- although I believe there's a DVD available...), and/or listening to the two live reunion show albums, Live on Sunset Strip and PopArt Live -- and/or the band's original four albums from the early 1970s, of course.  Pure awesomeness. :)

Three stars on Goodreads.

This was Book #14 read to date in 2020 (Book #1 finished in May). I'm currently at 47% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 3 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :)

Monday, May 18, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Reopening for business

Last week, the provincial government here in Ontario announced that all retail stores with a street entrance (i.e., not in a mall) can start reopening (with physical distancing restrictions) tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19th. (Here's an article explaining what's opening up & how. The reopenings will be tomorrow, because today is our Victoria Day statutory holiday/long weekend Monday, when many things would normally be closed anyway.)  Restaurants are still limited to takeout & delivery only, and hair salons & barbershops remain closed (among other things).

Theoretically, this means dh & I could head to the bookstore tomorrow. It's tempting -- we haven't been there since March 12th, more than TWO MONTHS!! (horrors!!) -- but not tempting enough to lure us from our condo, where (dh's weekly-or-so trips to the supermarket and the occasional walk around the neighbourhood aside), we've been holed up since March 12th.  (For one thing, we don't NEED to go to the bookstore, when we have literally shelves and e-readers full of unread books, right here at home...).  I'm inclined to sit back & wait a while to see what happens to the case numbers over the next couple of weeks before venturing out. (It's been 9+ weeks already -- what's another few weeks at this point, right?)

One place I *might* venture before then is to the drugstore. I'm starting to run out of several of my personal care items, and while dh has done a pretty good job to date of finding what I really need, I have a pretty lengthy list of stuff I need or will need soon -- and I'd prefer to be the one deciding on what substitutes I'd be willing to accept (or not), should the items I need not be stock.

When I do eventually head back into a store, I will be wearing one of my sock masks, for the foreseeable future. (Most stores that are open now require them for entry.)  And using hand sanitizer (since I haven't been out much, I still have some in my purse!) when I get back to the car, and washing my hands thoroughly when we get back home.

What's open/not open yet where you are? And when do you think you'll feel safe going back into stores again?

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sock it to me!

I have yet to venture anywhere that I would need one, but I recently realized I needed to start thinking about getting a face mask (or two, or more) for myself as well as dh.

Medical & N95 masks, of course, are nowhere to be found for purchase right now (and hospitals & medical staff rightfully get first dibs on those). We had two N-95 masks that BIL (who works in construction) gave us at the start of the crisis. Dh has been wearing (& re-wearing) them when he's gone out to shop for groceries -- but there are only so many times you can re-wear these things.  (You're only supposed to wear them once, of course, but dh figures that if drs & nurses are re-wearing theirs in virus-saturated hospital environments, he's probably pretty safe wearing his a couple of times to the supermarket.)

I don't have a sewing machine to make cloth masks.  I thought about ordering something online, but what if I needed a mask before they arrived? I started bookmarking various instructions for no-sew masks -- some involving bandanas/scarves/tea towels/linen napkins/etc. & elastic bands (or hair elastics). One friend swears by masks made from several layers of paper towels & elastics. (Advantage: they're disposable.)

I figured if worse came to worse, I could always just wind a scarf around my face to cover my nose & mouth. After all, I grew up in Canada (and on the Prairies, no less!), where every kid walked to school and played outside in sub-zero temperatures with scarves wound firmly around our faces, hats pulled low on our foreheads, and a narrow slit for eyes to peek out. (At least right now, I wouldn't have to worry about my warm breath wetting my scarf & getting it all damp & soggy)(not to mention frosty, lol.)

Then a friend posted a video showing how to make a simple no-sew mask using nothing but a sock and a pair of scissors. Who doesn't have an old pair of socks they could cut up in a pinch, right?

There are lots of videos out there on YouTube showing how to make a sock mask. Some of the methods differ from video to video. I followed a short video/GIF that a friend posted on Facebook, which I subsequently reposted -- but my mother complained that it went by too fast for her. So I wound up taking photos to demonstrate my method for my mother, and I thought I'd share them here too. :) 

Step one: get a clean old sock and cut it apart just above the ankle/ball of the foot,
so you have a nice length of sock to work with. In some videos they cut off the elastic band at the top. (I didn't bother.) 

Step 2: Cut the sock all the way through along one edge.

Step 3: Open up the sock and fold it in half (the other way).
Make a cut through the fold, about 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch in from the edge.
Do the same thing on the other side.

Step 4: Unfold and voila! There's your mask! Pull it over your mouth & nose and loop the slits around your ears.
You can round off the square corners a bit if you like.
It's not as closely fitted as a medical mask or N95, or a tailored cloth mask --
but it's better than no mask at all and very easy to make!
It's also washable & reusable! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Food for thought

Turia recently posted a detailed look at how COVID-19 has affected all the work related to food in her household. "I feel like I am thinking about, worrying about, discussing, preparing, cleaning up after, and, oh yes, eating food ALL. THE. TIME," she writes.

She asks, "What’s your grocery shopping experience been like? Are you braving the stores or ordering online or both? Any shortages that have surprised you?"

Meanwhile, Mali commented on a recent post of Mel's:  "It IS hard. You’re right – I miss the little things where we could “pop out” and do all sorts of things. My husband has been doing the shopping for us once a week when he does his father’s shopping – but I really miss getting to choose what I want/need/decide to pick up when I see it on the shelf. lol I’m going to have to go shopping soon."

I noted Mali's comment because I could have written it!  & I did, in a rambling sort of way, in commenting on Turia's post. Here's a (slightly edited) version of what I said to her:

*** *** ***

Well, we’re just shopping for the two of us — but yeah, we are spending a lot more on groceries than we ever have — partly because we’re eating all our meals at home now (we used to have lunch out several days a week — mostly fast food type stuff (soup, pizza slices, submarine sandwiches), but still eating out, and then a nicer dinner out on Saturday nights), and partly because we’ve been stockpiling some stuff too. Our cupboard/closet & fridge/freezer compartment space is limited in a condo — but aside from milk & bread & maybe a few other things, we have enough meat, pasta & canned goods to eat out of our cupboards for several weeks (and maybe not even get too bored).

Our grocery bills have also been higher because dh has been doing all the shopping (and he prefers to go into the store and pick out his/our own stuff versus ordering online & picking up — which may be slightly less risky, but as you’ve pointed out, comes with its own set of problems). He doesn’t care (or think) to look for bargains — plus (and I agree here), if you need it and you’ve been looking for it and it’s been hard to find because, pandemic, are you really going to quibble about paying a few dollars or cents extra?

I’m finding it frustrating not to be going into the store with him… I know they only want one person per family to go in, and I understand why, and dh prefers to be the one taking on the risks — but I would really like to see for myself what’s there and what’s not. My shopping priorities/wish list are not always the same as his. I will often see & grab something from the shelf that I will realize in the moment that we need or could use or that it’s a good buy; he will notice & grab different things that I might not think or notice (or care about).

For example, I’ve asked him several times now to get a refill package of ground cinnamon, which I like to have on my oatmeal for breakfast… he still hasn’t bought it. He doesn’t like cinnamon, so it’s not a priority or top of mind for him (& he doesn’t always bring a grocery list with him, or consult it while he’s going through the store — granted, it’s not as easy to pull out of your pocket when you’re wearing gloves…!)… meanwhile, I watch the cinnamon bottle get emptier…! I would like to be eating more fresh fruits & veggies; he doesn’t trust those right now (who knows who’s been touching them?) so he hasn’t been buying them, or as much of them, and frozen doesn’t always cut it. I am watching my refill bottle of liquid hand soap getting emptier and emptier and asked him to look for that (and I know hand soap is something that isn’t always available when you want/need it) — but he thinks we have lots and don’t need to worry about it yet — and even uses a squirt of soap from the hand soap bottle by the sink to soak the dishes in because it’s more convenient than reaching under the counter for the bottle of actual dish soap (!! — grrrr….!). But he will come home with two gigantic bags of SmartPop popcorn, because that’s HIS priority…! lol

I’m just waiting for the day when I run out of some of my personal care items, like hair mousse or deoderant or cotton makeup removal pads, and have to try to get him to look for THOSE on my behalf….! I am rather brand particular and if I can’t get what I want, I’d prefer to be the one seeing what’s available & deciding what the next-best substitute would be. There’s a lot of stuff (both in terms of groceries & personal care items) I would like to go out & buy that isn’t necessarily a necessity… it may or may not even be available. I could probably get along without them or make some kind of substitution. But if they are available, it would make life easier and more pleasant & more normal for me.


Oh yes, as for shortages — as I said, I haven’t been able to see these things for myself — but dh reports that, after the initial couple of weeks when shelves were pretty bare of everything, most things seem to be available again (including toilet paper). Cleaning stuff has still been harder to come by (he says those shelves are still pretty bare), but he did bring home a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner recently and he scored a bottle of Lysol spray cleaner for me on his last shopping expedition. He hasn’t had any problems finding meat so far.

P.S. I do recognize that while I can afford to buy stuff at a more expensive price tag than what I’d normally pay, not everyone has that flexibility…

(Turia responded:  "Yes, I think about that a lot too. This is stressful and time-consuming for us, and we have the financial security to pay whatever price we need to pay to get the food we need. If Q. and I (the ultra-privileged) are finding this challenging, how difficult must it be for those less fortunate?!")

*** *** ***

Some food-related stuff I didn't mention in my response to Turia:
  • Dh does most of the cooking & menu planning for us, although I chip in my $.02 on what we should have to eat, and will help out, especially in putting together more complex dishes/stuff for the crockpot, etc., when he lets me in the kitchen. ;)  He started doing the cooking many years ago, when we were working & commuting... he'd come home, change his clothes & be downstairs in about 5 minutes flat (and very hungry), whereas I wanted to take off my makeup first as well as my work clothes before thinking about supper. By the time I got downstairs, he often had dinner in the oven, or almost ready to go. He's continued to be the chief cook even since we both retired. 
  • I've always been someone who likes to have a fully stocked pantry... perhaps a throwback to both my mother & grandmother. Dh is (or has been) the opposite, doesn't like having too much stuff cluttering up the cupboards & fridge, has always felt that if we need something, we can just go out & get it. He has changed his tune now...!  
  • We haven't been ordering takeout or delivery since this all began. I was willing to give it a try, but dh was reluctant to take on the risk. Then two weekends ago, he was talking to his brother, who said they were having Swiss Chalet rotisserie chicken (a family favourite) for dinner -- procured via drive-through. Guess what we had for dinner last Saturday night??  ;) lol  (I checked and our favourite pizza restaurant -- a local business with a wood oven, not a chain restaurant -- is offering takeout... I'm thinking dinner for this Saturday night?) 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Voldemort Day* recap (and other odds & ends)

  • I had several Voldemort Day*-related posts, resources & events to share with you, but somehow lost my posting mojo in the days leading up to last weekend and didn't get a post done. :(  My apologies to the bloggers I meant to highlight and to you all for not sharing. 
  • I had a weepy day last Thursday. The weather was overcast & drizzly.  I was missing little Great-Nephew & the dog. I was wondering when I'm ever going to get to see my parents again. I was wondering when I'm ever going to get out of this condo (much as I like it, there ARE limits...) and back into a store or a coffee shop.  But I was also afraid just thinking about doing any of those things, because who knows if/when it's really going to be safe?  I was thinking about Katie, and trying to forget that it was Voldemort Day coming up, and that we were supposed to be going to see "Hamilton" on Saturday. The political & medical news coming out of the States was jaw-droppingly horrendous. I was watching a documentary on John Lennon and the Beatles on TV, which made me smile (as the Beatles always do), but also made me teary & nostalgic for those more innocent times so long ago... 
  • I am glad Voldemort Day is behind us. It was a rather weird one, even though we've never really been part of the family celebrations stuff (no kids to celebrate me, dh's mother dead before I ever met her & my own mother 1000 miles away). I didn't notice quite as many ads, perhaps (so many stores closed, so many shoppers stuck at home, so many people out of work or temporarily laid off with no income...) -- but there was a steadily rising drumbeat of posts on my social media feeds paying tribute to the wonders of motherhood, and scrolling through them on the day itself, even just for a perfunctory glance, was EXHAUSTING.  The weather sucked too:  we had snow flurries (!) on & off all morning. 
    • On the bright side: Dh raided my stash of blank notecards ;)  and so there was a card waiting for me when I woke up after all (tradition).  He made eggs for brunch and we had beef stew simmering in the crockpot all day for dinner (which smelled wonderful!). There was a cute new video of Little Great-Nephew on Instagram to watch. :)  I spent a few hours on first a Zoom chat and then a text chat on the Gateway Women private community, talked to both my sister & my mother, and watched the latest episode of "World on Fire" on PBS later in the evening. 
  • Also on the bright side: Voldemort Day marked the timely and very welcome return of The NotMom, with a blog post and the first episode of their new podcast on Facebook Live!  You can watch the video recording on The NotMom's Facebook page as well as on YouTube.  
  • It's been wonderful reading posts from others who decided to use the COVID-related prompts I posted a while back as blogging prompts. They include Infertile Phoenix, Jjiraffe and Turia. If you decide to do your own post, I'd love to read it!  (My own answers here.)  
*my personal nickname for Mother's Day = "The Day Which Shall Not Be Named." (Karin, who works with Jody at Gateway Women, calls it "Others Day," which also works, I think...!)

Monday, May 11, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Class of 2020

Dh was looking at Instagram on Friday, and remarked that his cousin's son is getting his university degree this spring. (Actually, two of his cousins' sons.)  No convocation ceremonies, because of COVID-19, but the young man's proud mom had noted his achievement on Instagram.

Then he paused and said, "I guess Katie would be graduating right about now too." I had to think for a moment, and then check my datebook. Normally, I write on the first day of school each September what grade/university year our daughter would have been entering -- but I will admit I haven't mentally kept track as closely since the time she would have graduated from high school (we assume, but don't KNOW for sure, whether she would have attended college or university) -- and there's nothing entered for September 2020.

Then dh said, "Well, yeah, she would, because she would have been the same age as (the two cousins' sons)."

Ummm, yes -- yes, she would have. I was pregnant at the same time as both these moms... newly pregnant at the one's baby shower in early April 1998 (baby born later that month). The other boy was born in late September 1998;  Katie was due in mid-November (but gone by early August).

How did I not remember this??!

I think I must have just blocked it out. I will admit that all the mournful mom talk on my social media feeds about "the Class of 2020" (the photo "challenges" -- ugh!) and all the year-end/leaving school rituals & celebrations their kids are missing out on (mostly referring to high schoolers, but some university students as well) made me a bit uncomfortable/irritable... but for whatever reason (self-preservation??)  I just did not connect it with our daughter and what she would (theoretically -- although both her dad & I agree, she would have gone to university) have been doing.

Bad, bad Mommy!  :(

(Of course, her father also believes that she would have been a genius and had her PhD by now...!)  ;)

(I suppose she could have been off to graduate school this fall...??)

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Reflections on my COVID-19 experience (so far)

A little while back, I shared some COVID-19-related questions/prompts  from a scrapbooking project about the pandemic. I thought they might also make good blogging prompts :)  and said I would think about doing a future blog post to answer some or all of these questions. Here it is! (It will be interesting to see if any of my answers change, further down the road...!)

When was the moment you knew this was serious. Where were you and what happened?

We'd been hearing about the virus for quite a while -- first in China, then on cruise ships, then in Seattle, then Vancouver... The WHO declared a pandemic on March 11th, followed by various American & Canadian governments. The world figure skating championships in Montreal were cancelled that same day (something I'd been looking forward to watching) -- and then the next day, the NHL suspended the entire hockey season (!).  (This, I think, was the moment that **** got real for most Canadians...!)

Dh & I looked at each other that night & agreed it might be smart to head to the supermarket the next day (Thursday, March 12th -- even though we'd already done our usual grocery run a few days earlier) & pick up some more food and cleaning supplies, just in case...  (We also made stops at the drugstore as well as the bookstore/Starbucks.)  The supermarket was not packed (yet), but it was much busier than usual for around noon on a Thursday, and there were a lot of grim-faced people stalking up & down the aisles with loaded carts. The shelves were generally still fairly well stocked -- although the soap, cleaning supplies, pasta & some of the canned goods were starting to look a little picked over. We'd already heard about people stockpiling toilet paper, and sure enough, when we came around the corner of that particular aisle, there was not one package of toilet paper of any kind to be had. I went back there while dh stood in the checkout line with our cart and I took a photo. I posted it later on Instagram & Facebook, with the caption, "So apparently the threat of the zombie apocalypse has reached [the supermarket here]." That, for me personally, was a defining moment. (I think of March 12th as "the last normal day," when we were still out & about doing "normal" things... even if things were already starting to feel a little less normal than usual.)

Empty shelves where the toilet paper should be, Thursday, March 12, 2020.
I originally posted this photo on this blog, here.

Looking back now, is there one particular news article or story that stands out to you?

I can't think of one, offhand... as I mentioned, hearing that not only were the world figure skating championships cancelled but the entire NHL season was being suspended was a "whoa, I guess this really is serious!" moment.

I remember a couple of news stories earlier on that brought home to me just how very contagious this virus was, and that you could be a carrier even if you weren't feeling sick yourself. One was about a choir in Washington State that decided to carry on with its regular practice on March 10, and 45 of the 60 members subsequently became ill (& several died). Another was about a cluster of cases & deaths among people who had been to one man's funeral in Georgia.

What was the first meme that caused you to laugh out loud?

I went back through my Facebook timeline, and while I had reposted a couple of humorous memes earlier in March, this one, from March 10th, was probably the first one that got a literal LOL from me (you might have to be Canadian to appreciate it...! -- Tim Horton's is a popular national doughnut/coffee shop chain, named for the late NHL hockey player who started it).

What have you observed in your community that has been heart-warming?

Personally, I haven't been out in the community much to observe anything!  But we saw a child's drawing of a rainbow taped to the window of a house nearby while we were out walking. Likewise, on a fence along the main road near our building, someone has posted a large homemade sign thanking frontline workers. Both those things made me smile.

What has been the biggest change to your everyday routine?

Our everyday routine is really not all that different from what it was.  We're both retired, so we spend a lot of time at home anyway... there have always been at least a few days during the week when we stayed at home and didn't go out, when we had laundry or housecleaning to do, or when the weather wasn't nice.

But we DID get out a couple of times a week -- for lunch, for grocery shopping and other errands, to the bookstore/Starbucks for a leisurely browse, to the mall, to visit BIL & family, for dinner on Saturday night.  These days, we don't go out AT ALL... so that's been a big change.  Dh goes out for groceries & to pick up any prescription refills, once every 7-10 days, and we go for the occasional walk when the weather is nice enough. That's it.

(Not that there's many places we could go, even if we wanted to. Malls are closed, restaurants are limited to takeout & delivery. Some stores that were previously closed -- the bookstore, Best Buy, Home Depot, etc. -- are now offering curbside contactless pickup of online orders. Garden centres were just allowed to reopen, but again just for curbside pickup. Grocery stores & pharmacies have been open all along, but they are asking that one person per family shops just once a week, with masks on.)

How has family life been altered in your home?

Not much. We already spent a lot more time together than most couples I know, partly because that's our habit, partly because we're retired, and partly because I don't drive (& even if I did, we only have one car -- we have only ever really needed one car).  We're both homebodies/couch potatos at the best of times -- but we've both been a bit bored/stir crazy at times in the absence of the little outings we've been used to (dh moreso than me, I think).

What have you learned to do because of this pandemic?

How to stay inside (almost all the time) for 8 straight weeks without completely losing my mind. (I think??)

How to make a no-sew mask out of a teatowel or sock, & possibly some elastic bands! (I have not needed to wear one yet, since I've barely been out of the house, let alone around people -- but when the time comes, I have lots of how-to articles & videos bookmarked, lol.)

How to use (if not completely master) some new apps like WhatsApp and Houseparty.

How to conserve toilet paper/how long a roll generally lasts (lol) and be more mindful about wasting food.

What change has created the most disappointment for you?

The cancellation of so many public and family events that I was looking forward to:  the world figure skating championships in Montreal, the Elton John concert SIL & I had tickets to on March 29th, all remaining local performances of "Hamilton," which we were supposed to be seeing this weekend, a family dinner at a restaurant to celebrate dh's aunt's 75th birthday, Great-Nephew's baptism on June 14th (now rescheduled to September)... Not being able to spend time with Great-Nephew, period (probably the biggest disappointment of all! -- especially after waiting for him for so long, and moving here specifically because we wanted to forge connections to the younger generations of the family).

I understand why these things were cancelled (& I probably would not have wanted to risk going, given the current situation), but it's still been disappointing.

What has surprised you?

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised (after everything else that's happened in the last four years...), but it's absolutely, stunningly, mind-boggling to me to see just how many people (Americans, but also some Canadians) are actively (proudly!!) resisting doing the things that are proven to reduce the spread of the virus, like staying home and wearing a mask in public.  The rush to re-open (ignoring the established guidelines), the willingness to put financial gain ahead of people's lives... it's very difficult to fathom.

Also: I'm surprised that I haven't read more!  But apparently I am not alone in finding it hard to focus on a book right now...

What has not surprised you?

This pandemic has brought out the worst in some people... but it's also brought out the best in many more. Some lovely stories of what people are doing to help each other out. And the dedication of the frontline hospital staff in the ICUs (at great risk to their own wellbeing, especially with the lack of PPE)... it hasn't surprised me, because that's what they do (we saw it here in Toronto with SARS almost 20 years ago) -- but it does make feel thankful for their expertise and their dedication.

What about the future creates feelings of worry or fear?

Not knowing when I am going to be able to travel to visit my family again. Worrying about my parents, who aren't taking the social distancing recommendations as seriously as I think they should (albeit they do live in a small rural community in a province where the case numbers are much lower than they are here).

What have you truly enjoyed about sheltering in place?

I like staying at home a lot of the time anyway, & I like spending time with my husband. :)  The pandemic has not changed that. I haven't been able to focus much on reading books (which has been disappointing), but I'm in two different online book discussion groups that I enjoy tremendously.  I've also been trying (not entirely succeeding, but trying...!) to get to the bottom of my email inbox (all my daily newsletters...) and blog reader, and that keeps me busy.

Who or what has impressed you in a positive way?

I did not vote (and doubt I will ever vote) for the current premier of our province (more specifically for the local candidate of the party he leads... we do not directly elect provincial premiers or the prime minister in Canada). He's done a LOT that I do not agree with and that I flat out think is wrong and harmful.  At the very beginning of all this, he took a lot of flack (rightfully so) for telling people to go on vacation (for spring break) and have a good time.

But I will give him credit:  he very quickly changed his tune when the magnitude of this crisis became apparent, he has listened to the medical experts, he has worked together with the prime minister and federal government and other provincial premiers, and he has said & done the right things for most of the time since then.  Unlike (cough cough) certain other leaders of other governments I can think of...

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, has also impressed me with his command of the situation.

What will you do differently when life normalizes?

I'm not sure life is going to "normalize" for quite a while yet (if ever...)...!  But I'm pretty sure everything I've learned about handwashing during this time -- its importance and how to do it better -- is going to stick with me for a very long time!

Also, I've never been someone who pays for everything with a piece of plastic (debit or credit card)-- I've always carried & used a healthy amount of cash, especially for smaller purchases (watching people pay for a $3 cup of coffee with a credit card drives me up the wall...!!) -- but I have a feeling I'll be doing that more often in the future. A lot less contact involved (especially if I can just tap & go).

What memory or moment will talk about in ten years? 

I will tell Great-Nephew about how hard it was not to be able to see & hold him, and about how we brought him his Easter gifts and waved to him from behind the glass of the front door. (And about how the dog broke my heart, scratching and whining at the door because he wanted to greet us in his usual way so badly!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Odds & ends

  • We've been out for a few more walks lately. HOLY CRAP, I AM OUT OF SHAPE. :p  :(   Hoping to make it a regular habit again, now that the weather is (FINALLY) trending a bit milder, and build up our time and stamina. I have been saying this for the past four years since we moved here, and now that the roadwork in front of our building & townhouse development construction behind us is (mostly) complete, there are absolutely no excuses why we can't do it. There are some lovely quiet, leafy streets in the subdivision behind our condo building where we can walk (away from the main road, albeit it is far emptier/less busy than it was, pre-COVID). If/when we do encounter another walker(s) (usually someone out walking their dog), one or the other of us just moves off the sidewalk and onto the boulevard until we've passed a safe distance away. 
    • When we head outside for a walk, we usually walk down the stairs to ground level (I wear my winter gloves & if I have to use the rail, I usually balance my wrist on it instead of grabbing it) and then take the elevator back up when we return. (Dh would take the stairs back up too, but both my knees and my lungs are not up to climbing up four flights of winding stairs at this point...!) On return from our most recent walk, when we got on the elevator, there was already someone inside, coming up from the lower level parking garage. He nodded and moved into one corner, and we slid into the corner opposite/furthest away... he got off on the second floor and so we had the elevator to ourselves for most of the trip up. (I suppose we could have just waited for the next elevator...)  I said to dh as we got off on our floor, "You know, I think that's the closest I've been to another human being besides you since mid-March!"  
  • We recently passed the four-year mark of our move here. (You can read about the move and various aspects of our condo life since then in posts tagged "condo living.") I've lived in enough different places in my life to know there is good and bad everywhere;  it's up to you to make the most of things. Condo living has its share of annoyances, but then so too did our old house and neighbourhood. It also definitely has its advantages. I'm still not enamoured with the community where we now live, but overall, we both love the condo, and we love being closer to family (even though we sadly can't visit them right now).  I was dragged here kicking & screaming ;)  but overall now, I have few to no regrets. 
  • One annoyance (especially evident this past weekend, when we had lovely weather and everyone was outside and our balcony door was open):  revved-up cars & motorcycles peeling out as they zoom up & down the main road past our building.  The noise was ridiculous, and it went on for hours. I've seen several stories in the media about police making record numbers of arrests for speeding (50 km or more above the speed limit), drag racing and stunt driving on local streets & highways. The roads are emptier with more people at home and fewer people out driving, and it seems some idiots just can't resist acting like idiots...  :p 
    • It wasn't just me, either:  a couple of other friends were posting on social media this weekend about noisy neighbours and not being able to enjoy some peace and quiet in their own back yards. It's been a very looonnggggg winter, even without COVID-19 & social distancing (Sunday was the first time the temperature went above 20C since October 1st! -- 7 months!!), and I guess more than a few people are going stir crazy (and more than a few people's nerves have been worn thin...!).  

Monday, May 4, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...

There's been some talk about "bubbles" recently -- the idea that we've currently been (or at least are supposed to have been) existing in our own little household bubbles, isolated from everyone else. In some areas, there's been discussion that loosening social distancing requirements might begin by permitting interaction with ONE other household bubble.

For us, there's no question that would be BIL's household (which currently includes him, SIL, Older Nephew, his wife & 5-month-old baby).  BUT -- would WE be THEIR pick to "bubble" with?  They might rather have more regular interaction with their other son/our Younger Nephew & his wife... or perhaps the baby's other grandmother (I know she's dying to see & hold her first & only grandchild again).  As I said to dh when the baby was born, we know where we are in the pecking order (and it's not at the top of the list).  Another one of the hard things about childless living, and especially during a pandemic...!  :(

No sooner did I write the above than a story from the Globe & Mail popped up in my notifications addressing this very problem:  "Families find their ‘bubbles’ as lockdown measures ease." (It's a bit families-with-young-children-centric, but interesting!) Sample paragraph (the nutshell of the problem I was mentioning):
"The social experiment raises awkward and potentially fraught decisions. Which grandparents, in-laws, friends and neighbours do you prioritize? Who will get left out, and who will be offended? Who is best to care for your kids part-time, and who do you actually want to have dinner with routinely? What if your top-pick family doesn’t pick you? What if you prefer not to break quarantine for anyone? What if your second family is careless and you want to break up with them and rebubble with someone else?"
Who would you want to add to your bubble?  

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

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Pandemic Project, part 2

Back in March, I posted about my participation in a survey from the University of Texas. The Pandemic Project is studying how people's lives are being affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they are coping and how reactions are changing over time. When I responded to the first survey, I consented to be contacted for followup, and I received an invitation to complete a second survey on Friday. Both surveys take about 15-20 minutes to complete, and at the end, you receive scores in certain categories and suggestions on coping strategies (which can be emailed to you).
  • On a scale of 0 to 10, my Social Connection score was 7.3, which is higher than average. "This is a very good sign given the restrictions on social behavior," I was told. In the first survey, my Social Connection score was 6.2, or average. Interesting that it's gone up, because I've been feeling more & more isolated as time as gone on (although I remain quite active & in touch with a lot of people on social media.) 
  • My COVID Obsession score is 7.1 -- in the high range, meaning I may be following the coronovirus stories too much. Note, however, that this is an improvement from the first survey, in which my COVID Obsession score was a whopping 10 out of 10! lol 
  • My Healthy Habits score is 6.2 , which means that my general health habits are about average. In other words, my life style is generally good but there is still room for improvement. This is exactly the same score I got in the first survey!
  • My COVID-related Anxiety and Distress score is 7.3 -- mid-range, and similar to the average person. "Your score suggests that you have some anxiety and distress about the outbreak which makes sense." This is an increase from my first survey score of 6.6, which was also said to be average.
Did you take the quiz?  What did you learn from your results?  (If you haven't taken part yet but this has piqued your curiosity, check it out here.) 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Reflecting on your COVID-19 experience

Today is National Scrapbooking Day, and even though I haven't scrapbooked a page in well over 10 years (cough)(not that you'd know it from all the scrapbooking supplies I STILL have stashed in my closet & condo storage locker...!)(double cough!), I still follow several of the scrapbookers I got to know & admire during the heyday of the crafting craze.  One of them, Stacy Julian, will be teaching a Facebook Live class TONIGHT on telling your COVID-19 story.  Details on the class (if you're interested) can be found here

In preparation for the class, Stacy included 15 questions/prompts to help scrapbookers think about what they want to include in a small scrapbook about their pandemic experience. It occurred to me that these might make good blogging prompts too. :) 

  • When was the moment you knew this was serious. Where were you and what happened?
  • Looking back now, is there one particular news article or story that stands out to you?
  • What was the first meme that caused you to laugh out loud?
  • What have you observed in your community that has been heart-warming?
  • What has been the biggest change to your everyday routine?
  • How has family life been altered in your home?
  • What have you learned to do because of this pandemic?
  • What change has created the most disappointment for you?
  • What has surprised you?
  • What has not surprised you?
  • What about the future creates feelings of worry or fear?
  • What have you truly enjoyed about sheltering in place?
  • Who or what has impressed you in a positive way?
  • What will you do differently when life normalizes?
  • What memory or moment will talk about in ten years? 

I will think about doing a future blog post to answer some or all of these questions. Let me know if you do too;  I would love to read your answers!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Right now

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

April was our first full month under self-isolation. I have been out of the house exactly 5 times in the 50 days since March 12 -- once on April 2nd to drop off Great-Nephew's Easter goodies, and four times for short walks. Sadly, while the weather has started to improve a bit, it generally hasn't been particularly co-operative -- it's still been pretty chilly out there (highest recorded temp was one day that was around 15C), and even on milder days, it's often been raining or windy (which adds a chill). :(  Dh has been out slightly more often... about once a week or so for groceries/prescriptions and to pick up the mail from our box downstairs.

Reading: My COVID reading drought continues. :(  Well, it hasn't been a complete drought, but I certainly have not been reading as much as I thought I would. :(   
I read 2 books in April (both reviewed on this blog & tagged "2020 books"):  
So far this year, I've read 13 books.  I'm currently at 43% of my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and (despite slacking off this month) I'm still 4 books ahead of schedule, which is comforting to remember. 

Current read(s):  
  • "The Death of Expertise" by Tom Nichols. (This one has been on my shelf for quite a while now... I would say it's even more relevant today than when it was published in 2017. Tom has a great Twitter feed too.)  
(Very) sadly, I haven't been inside a bookstore since March 12th  :(  but I have been buying e-books for my Kobo e-reader and Amazon Kindle phone app -- most of them older titles bought at deep discounts ($5 or less), but some recent releases too.  A few recently purchased titles:  
(Dh has made up for my lack of reading by gobbling up books at a record rate the last while, including some from my TBR pile!  Also some Stephen King & Don Winslow novels he picked up before the bookstores closed.)  

Watching:  I started watching "World on Fire" on PBS Sunday nights, a British drama about WWII with a cast of what feels like 10,000 interconnecting characters (including Sean Bean and Helen Hunt, among the better-known names). The first episode was completely confusing, trying to keep all the different characters in Poland, Germany, England and France straight, not to mention how they all relate to each other. Once I started getting a handle on that, though, it started improving. We're about halfway through this season's seven episodes, and they will run through mid-May. There will be a second season. 

I also started watching "Mrs. America" on FX (I believe it's on Hulu in the States), a fascinating & well-done look at the 1970s battle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, with an amazing cast:  Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly (!), Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan and a host of other familiar names & faces.  (Jeanne Tripplehorn plays Eleanor Schlafly, Phyllis's unmarried, childless-not-by-choice sister-in-law -- and so far, there have been more than a few "ouch" moments, both for Eleanor and those of us who will see ourselves in her shoes!)  

This is the era I grew up in, and while I was not as focused on the news then as I am now as an adult (and while I'm Canadian -- albeit with an American mother & grandparents that I spent a lot of time with, especially in the summer), I remember the ERA & the rise of the "women's lib" movement fairly well. (I remember Anita Bryant & her anti-gay crusade better than Phyllis Schlafly, though!) I actually did a paper in university (during the early 1980s/Reagan era) about Jerry Falwell (Senior) and the Moral Majority movement (!) & I actually READ one of his books as well as Phyllis Schlafly's book, "The Power of the Positive Woman," as part of my research. (I think I deserve a medal for that, lol.) Pamela recently blogged about "Mrs. America" and her own memories of growing up in this era, here.

(I have much clearer memories from a few years later, when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau -- father of current PM Justin -- sought to "bring home" Canada's constitution from Britain, including a new, made-in-Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There was much consternation when women realized equality rights were not included in the original draft of the proposed charter. Women from across the country rallied to demand the inclusion of equality rights and, ultimately, they were enshrined in the charter which came into effect on April 17, 1982. I was 21 years old at the time.) 

I like that both sides of the story are presented in various shades of grey -- the feminists don't always agree or get along personally (there was an awkward moment when an airline stewardess seats Steinem on a plane beside Betty Friedan, who had just publicly trashed her), and while I don't think anyone would call Schlafly a sympathetic character, she's certain a complex one. 

Listening:  I still don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but I have been c
atching up on some recent episodes of "Kidless" with Ashley & Eric,"Live Childfree" with Erik & Melissa, and "The Full Stop" with Michael, Sarah & Berenice. 

Following:  I mentioned in a previous post that I've been following a Facebook Readathon of "Rilla of Ingleside" by L.M. Montgomery.  One of the members there brought our attention to another Montgomery-related readathon on FB: (would you believe...?):  #Annedemic!!  

This article explains how the East Pointers, a band from Prince Edward Island, dreamed up #Annedemic to raise funds (as well as spirits) for East Coast musicians whose concerts and tours have been cancelled because of COVID-19.  Each night, one of the band members -- or a guest -- reads a chapter of Montgomery's classic novel, "Anne of Green Gables," on Facebook live.  (They even got Anne herself -- Megan Follows, who starred in the memorable 1980s CBC television adaptation of the book -- to read one of the final chapters.) I haven't actually listened in or watched any of the videos yet -- and I've yet to hear a note of music from the East Pointers -- but I made a donation to the GoFundMe, just because I was so tickled by the idea. :)  (Also by the photos of these long-haired young hipster GUYS with a copy of Anne in their hands!)

They've just finished reading "Anne of Green Gables" -- but will be starting on the next book in the series, "Anne of Avonlea," tonight!  All readings are livestreamed on the band's Facebook page, (videos of the AOGG readings can also be found there), and there's now also a separate #Annedemic group where fans can chat and share about all things Anne. 

Drinking: I actually cracked open my lone remaining bottle of wine (a Canadian chardonnay) during a recent Zoom chat with some fellow loss moms recently, lol -- dh & I actually don't drink a lot and aside from a few bottles of wine, we generally don't keep a lot of alcohol in the house. Our liquor & beer stores remain open as designated "essential services" (lol!!), but I'm not THAT desperate for a drink (yet??).  

Eating:  We've heard rumours of impending meat shortages, because of COVID outbreak clusters among processing plant workers in both Canada and the U.S. -- but so far, dh hasn't noticed any significant issues during his grocery runs.  We're not vegetarians by any means, but we do eat a lot less meat than I did in my youth. Dh grew up eating a lot of beans & lentils, and we have those several times a week, so whatever meat we have in the freezer compartment tends to last us quite a while -- and we're pretty well stocked for now. We have a couple of packages each of pork chops, chicken breasts and ground beef on hand, as well as some "convenience" foods like lasagnas (chicken in cream sauce for me, beef & tomato for dh), chicken pot pies, battered fish fillets and chicken strips/fingers for when we're feeling lazy, lol.  

Dh mistakenly bought veal cubes instead of beef cubes for stew a few weeks ago, but we just used them in our usual beef stew recipe for the slow cooker (with a few adjustments to the spices) and it turned out just fine.

Buying (besides books, lol):  Not much opportunity for shopping right now, other than groceries...!  As I mentioned in a previous "Right Now" post, I'm trying not to get too much in the habit of buying stuff online & having it delivered. ;)  But I couldn't resist ordering a few new pieces of sterling silver jewelry during a sale from one of my favourite crafters. (I was introduced to her work by a mutual friend and former blogger!)  Check our her lovely stuff here -- and get on the mailing list to get advance notice of sales and special promotions!  

(Now, to wait impatiently for the opportunity to WEAR it somewhere outside my condo...!)

Wearing:  My usual uniform of yoga pants & T-shirts. Number of times I've worn jeans and a bra since March 12th:  ONCE (on April 2nd, when we went to d
eliver little Great-Nephew's Easter gifts). Even then, it probably wasn't necessary -- we didn't go inside, didn't take off our jackets -- but it made me feel more normal to put them on. (The jeans still fit!)(then!...) 

(Not wearing (yet): a mask. Haven't had the need to do so yet... we don't need them for just walking around the neighbourhood. We have two N95s that dh has been wearing to the supermarket, but they're really supposed to be worn just once, and he's already worn them a couple of times.)  I don't have a sewing machine, but I've bookmarked a couple of videos showing how to make no-sew masks, and I've also considered ordering some of the ones that are for sale via the Internet. Many of those are either sold out or subject to waits for delivery, though.) 

Wanting:  More than ever, I want a HAIRCUT!!  lol  It's been NINE WEEKS TODAY since our last trims on Feb. 28th (normally, we go every six weeks, like clockwork) and we are both feeling pretty shaggy. I've taken to slicking back my bangs with lots of mousse so they don't hang in my eyes (drives me nuts...), but we'll see how long that lasts...  

Trying: Not to think too much about how long this might drag on...  

Missing:  Little Great-Nephew. :(  (And the dog, lol.)  Aside from that brief behind-glass hello on April 2nd, we haven't seen him since March 5th -- nearly two months!  :(  (Every new Instagram post from his mom or dad is a major event, lol -- and of course, there's never enough of them...!.)  

Despairing: That I'm going to get to see my family anytime soon. I'm hearing there are fears of a second wave of coronavirus in the fall that will be even worse than the first one. As a Facebook friend (and former blogger) said at Eastertime, "It's so hard not being with our families this Easter and Passover, but DO NOT MAKE ME MISS CHRISTMAS. STAY. HOME."  :(   

(I have never spent a Christmas away from my family -- this year will be #60!  (We'll also be celebrating my mom's 80th & my 60th birthdays in January at the same time.)  I know I'm lucky I've been able to do this. I know there's always a first time. I just always thought it would be after my parents were gone. :(  )

Loving: That we've been able to open the balcony door & let in some fresh air a couple of times lately. Progress...!!  

Feeling:  Sometimes bored. Sometimes a bit melancholy.  Sometimes tired (even though I don't DO much of anything most days). Often grateful, for my health, for my ability to stay at home in relative safety, with all the modern comforts around me.