Thursday, July 30, 2020

"A sainthood not extended... virtue (not) bestowed"

Further to my recent post about Portland's "Wall of Moms" (and the "Auntifa," lol),  Lyz Lenz, an Iowa-based writer whose work I like (really! -- my comments below notwithstanding, lol...), authored a piece in today's Washington Post, about "How America weaponizes motherhood." 

I agree with what much of what she has to say. It is worth a read. It's very true that we afford white middle-class mothers a status that is denied to black mothers, and other kinds of mothers. 

But!! Oh, how I wish she (&/or the others who have written about the "Wall of Moms" and what it says about motherhood in America) would have taken the rhetoric one step further!   

But since they haven't, I will do it here. Some quotes from the article -- and my responses:  
  • "The experience of motherhood in America is a political question just as much as it is a question of flesh. We allow white mothers a sainthood not extended to other types of mothers."  (And a sainthood that, with few exceptions, is not extended to non-mothers at all.) 
  • "Historically, white motherhood has been used as a cover for inciting racist policies, white flight and school segregation...  And it’s not just women who use motherhood as a shield. Powerful men, when called out for their sexism, often resort to using their wives and daughters as evidence of their virtue."  (And those of us who do not have children have no such cover or shield to protect us, no such easy way to show evidence of our virtue and social worth.) 
  • "In America, the sanctifying role of mother is not given to everyone." (Tell us about it...)
  • "The dog whistle is always the purity and sanctity of white women, who get to be pure, who get to be holy and who get to be virtuous as mothers." (True. But when you're not a mother at all, whether by chance or by choice, you don't get to be virtuous either.) 
  • "In America, we do not allow women to attain motherhood equally...  America scorns a fat mother... America also scorns single mothers..." (This may be true... but America (and other countries) also scorns non-mothers -- regardless of size, colour, marital status, etc. -- simply because they are not mothers.) 
  • "It’s not that you are a mother, it’s how you mother that bestows virtue... in America, virtue is bestowed only upon mothers who are white, heterosexual and married." (There may be a scale of mothering virtue -- but my childless/free peers & I would beg to differ that "it's not that you are a mother." We know only too well that being a mother bestows virtue/social approval on a woman that we will never have or be able to earn. It is a virtue that will never be bestowed on us.)  
  • "So, when we talk about motherhood and the “Wall of Moms,” we need to talk about who is being included and excluded from that privilege. Because for better or worse, in America, motherhood is a weapon, a tool that has long been used to perpetuate systemic racism and exclusion — not alleviate it."  (Motherhood is indeed a weapon, but I would add that it has also been used by some to perpetuate patriarchy, pronatalism and exclusion of non-mothers. When we talk about motherhood and the "Wall of Moms," we need to talk about who is being included and excluded from that privilege -- and that includes women who are not moms at all, but who also care deeply about children, and about democracy, and about the future of our planet.) 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"On Tyranny" by Timothy Snyder

Just 126 pages, featuring well-spaced, generously sized type, "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century"  by Timothy Snyder is a slim little volume, but it packs a powerful punch. It's been in my TBR pile for a while now, and I was reminded to pick it up when I read this recent New York Times column by Michelle Goldberg, about recent events on the streets of Portland, Oregon. It begins:

"The month after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Yale historian Timothy Snyder published the best-selling book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century.” It was part of a small flood of titles meant to help Americans find their bearings as the new president laid siege to liberal democracy.

"One of Snyder’s lessons was, “Be wary of paramilitaries.” He wrote, “When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.” [emphasis mine] In 2017, the idea of unidentified agents in camouflage snatching leftists off the streets without warrants might have seemed like a febrile Resistance fantasy. Now it’s happening." 

I dug out my copy, and started reading. 

As the subtitle suggests, the book outlines 20 lessons derived from 20th century history of how democracies have given way to the tyranny facism, Nazism and communism, in language that is clear, simple and direct. (Sample lesson/chapter titles: "Do not obey in advance... Defend institutions... Believe in truth... Investigate... Listen for dangerous words... Be calm when the unthinkable arrives... Be as courageous as you can.")   

"History does not repeat, but it does instruct," Snyder writes in the prologue.  

"History can familiarize, and it can warn." 

It is chilling to read this little book, and realize how just how many of the things Snyder warned about in this book have come to pass in the United States, in just three short years. 

Read it. And, if you're American, get out and vote this fall.  

Be as courageous as you can.

Five stars on Goodreads. 

This was Book #24 read to date in 2020 (Book #6 finished in July). I'm currently at 80% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 7 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books."  

Monday, July 27, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Auntie's Day

Yesterday was Auntie's Day, created by Melanie Notkin of Savvy Auntie in 2009 to acknowledge, honor and celebrate the aunts in a child's life -- including aunts by relation, aunts by choice, godmothers, and all women who love children not-their-own (with a special emphasis on women who don't have their own children to love). 

(I've seen a few references to it as Aunts & Uncles Day, and I suppose that's logical, but I know Melanie specifically created it as Auntie's Day.) 

It's nice to have a day to acknowledge and honour aunties. My own aunties, both genetic & through marriage, as well as honorary (e.g., I called several cousins of my mother's "Auntie"), have played important roles in my life over the years. However, as a holiday, I think Auntie's Day still has some way to go before it's recognized & celebrated at anywhere near the same level as Mother's & Father's Day. Outside of Savvy Auntie and a very few other sites for childless/free women, I did not see it mentioned anywhere yesterday -- not by any of my friends on social media, not even the childless/free ones. 

I debated whether to post anything myself -- I have, once or twice in past years -- but decided against it. Even if I framed it as wishing my own aunts (a few of whom are on Facebook) a happy Auntie's Day, I felt like it would seem like I was drawing attention to my own aunthood (and lack of my own children) --  asking for praise and recognition for myself -- and I didn't want my nephews to feel badly about it, that they should have gotten me a gift or something like that (even though I'm sure they don't even know such a day exists!). But then how else do we spread the word that this holiday exists, and that aunts deserve recognition too? 

Are you a proud auntie/great-auntie like me?  ;)  Did you remember it was Auntie's Day? Did anyone wish you a happy Auntie's Day? 

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

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Saturday night odds & ends

  • How is it possible that it's already July 25th??  The days drag and one blurs into the next and the next and the next, but somehow this year is rapidly slipping away... 
  • I recently got on the scale for the first time in four months, since this pandemic began. My clothes from previous summers still fit, so I probably would have just cruised on blindly (lalalala...) -- but I have my annual physical coming up next month (unless it gets postponed again -- already re-booked from May...), and I didn't want any nasty surprises on the scale there (and of course, the dr's scale is always at least a few pounds heavier than the one I have at home...!). 
    • I was somewhat pleasantly surprised that despite four months mostly in couch potato mode, I've only gained one pound. Now, my pre-COVID weight was nothing great -- the heaviest I've ever been actually, and I just upped that number by another pound -- but I figure things could be a whole lot worse, right?  #winning?
  • I spent a couple of frustrating hours on Friday night -- including a longwinded live chat with my Internet/email service provider -- trying to change my email password. This was one of the things I'd been asked to do in order to restore access to my supermarket points, after my card was hacked in March, right at the beginning of this pandemic (which I mentioned here -- a huge hassle in itself).  Frustratingly, I wound up locking myself out of my online email account, as well the ISP website itself!! 
    • After much wailing & gnashing of teeth, I managed to restore ISP access on both my Microsoft Edge & Google Chrome browsers on my laptop... and I was finally able to access my email online through the ISP email site on Chrome, via the Outlook program on my laptop, and on my cellphone -- but NOT through the online ISP email site on MS Edge on my laptop. I decided 3 out of 4 ain't bad and called it a night...!  :p  Technology can be a blessing, but it can also be a real hassle sometimes...!   
    • I posted about this on Facebook & had a few people tell me to just get a Google Mail account. I HAVE a Google Mail account, but I mainly use it for Google Alerts & other junky email stuff. I like being able to download my email through Outlook, and I have had the same email address for almost 20 years... I'm kind of attached to it.  ;) 
  • I continue to be agog over the photos in my social media feeds of my friends (and others) -- in Canada as well as in the U.S. -- socializing in groups (sometimes large groups), at bars and restaurants and backyard pool parties and barbecues, arms around each other, no masks in sight -- a high school class reunion, for one example. You would never guess there's still a dangerous pandemic raging around the world!  
  • A friend (a loss mom we met through our support group) posted one of those "Never have I ever" memes on Facebook, where you scored one point for each thing on the list you haven't done. #7 on the list was "Birthed children." One of her (male) friends commented "#7 is a gimme."  Another guy commented, "If there's a #7 there should automatically be something that excludes women. Like peed in a urinal." I had to bite my cybertongue... not all of women have birthed children ("woman" does NOT automatically equal "mother")... not all of us CAN birth children, or even CHOOSE to birth children... and not all of us who have birthed children (I went through labour & delivery, I would take that point!) got to hear them cry or take them home. I don't know if it was male cluelessness specifically or society's cluelessness generally, but it rubbed me the wrong way. 
  • It's not too early to start thinking about World Childless Week, which will be held Sept. 14-20 this year. :)  Organizer Stephanie Phillips is asking for submissions on the daily topics, which include Our Stories, Diversity Day, Ageing Without Children, Men Matter Too, Comments That Hurt, We Are Worthy, and Moving Forward. A submission form and further information can be found here

Thursday, July 23, 2020

"Conversations With Friends" by Sally Rooney

I bought "Conversations With Friends," the debut novel by Irish millennial author Sally Rooney, shortly after I first read "Normal People" (which I reviewed here and again here).  A few people have said they liked it better than "Normal People."

I'm not sure I agree. Despite their faults, I sympathized with "Normal People" 's Connell and Marianne and found myself rooting for them, despite their annoying habit of pushing each other away and then coming back together, over and over again. The characters here simply didn't grab me in the same way (although there were echoes of "Normal People" in some of the characters' backgrounds and traits and plotlines -- or I guess that should be the other way around, since this book actually came first? There's even a minor character named Marianne here, a friend of Frances's.  And, of course, it's also set in Dublin.). 

The story involves two former school friends turned lovers turned friends again, Frances and Bobbi, whose lives become strangely intertwined with with an older married couple, Melissa and Nick, a writer/photographer and actor. None of the characters are particularly likeable -- although I did gain some sympathy for Frances as the story progressed. (Hey, she's just 21 -- I did some pretty dumb things at that age too.)  I found Bobbi especially irritating -- maybe because I've known too many girls like her?  

But it's still very well written -- an impressive debut for such a young writer. (Rooney was just 26 when "Conversations With Friends" was published.) I did find myself more engaged in the book towards the end. 

I understand a TV adaptation is in the works, in the wake of "Normal People" (the TV series)'s smash success. Maybe it will flesh out the book for me and enhance my appreciation of it, in the same way that the TV version of "Normal People" did? 

I rated "Normal People" four stars. Since I didn't like this one quite as much, I'm not sure I can give it four stars too. So I'm giving it three stars on Goodreads, but really closer to 3.5, particularly taking the last one-third of the book into account.  :) 

*** *** *** 

ALI alert:  Frances's gynecological issues might be somewhat triggering for some readers. 

And I marked this passage from the book with a sticky note, near the end. I thought it kind of spoke to the moment we're all living in right now -- but it could also apply to infertility too:   

Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen. (p. 276) 

This was Book #23 read to date in 2020 (Book #5 finished in July). I'm currently at 77% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 7 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books."  

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Move over, moms -- bring on the Auntifa ;)

When I first heard about the "wall of moms" protecting demonstrators in Portland, Oregon (and getting tear-gassed for their trouble), my first thought was, "Good for them!" 

My second impulse was to roll my eyes. Because of course, "moms" are going to save the world, right?  

Does anyone else see the irony that a group of women demonstrating for democracy and great inclusion for people of colour, are doing so under a banner ("moms") that excludes a significant and growing segment of the female population (who are NOT moms and never will be, whether by choice or chance)?? 

So I was happy to see a tweet from writer Jill Filipovic at the top of my feed these morning,  expressing admiration . It's worth reading her entire thread, because she says it much better than I can.  Here's a screenshot of the first post in the thread: 

Among the points Filipovic makes: 

It’s premised on the idea that motherhood makes you more moral, more nurturing, more sensitive to suffering. And also that mothers are usually apolitical, and soft, and non-threatening (until they’re fierce mama bears). In other words, lots of sexist stereotypes to make this work.

She also says: 

It also suggests that women who aren’t mothers have less of a role in advocacy. It relies on the presumed respectability of (white) motherhood for legitimacy.

As you might imagine, she is getting a LOT of pushback in the comments. (Including from some other feminist writers -- who are mothers -- that I respect/admire, such as Jessica Valenti.) Some thoughtful points made, and a few childless & childfree people chiming in -- but still a lot of moms singing their own praises, some self-righteous indignation, and flat-out dismissal ("you're being too sensitive," "moms is just a label, everyone is welcome," etc.). 

My favourite response(s):  ;)  


Monday, July 20, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Happy birthday, Dad

I'm a bit late with my #MM post today (although I did post a book review this morning). I'm feeling a bit melancholy today, and wasn't sure what I could or should post about. I commented on Mel's #MM post earlier, and that actually gave me the inspiration for what to write about: how I'm feeling today & why.

I know I've written about this several times in recent months (and I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record...), and now the day (one of them, anyway) is here:  it's my dad's 81st birthday today, and Wednesday will be my parents' 60th (!) wedding anniversary.  And even though I'm almost always there on or around these dates to celebrate with them, I can't this year, because of COVID-19, interprovincial travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. :( 

My sister is on vacation this week, and will be there tonight with a cake for dad, and on Wednesday, she'll invite Parents' Neighbours' Daughter & her family and a few of the neighbours over for a socially distanced gathering on the patio/lawn, where another (larger) cake will be served. So at least the days will be marked in some way with at least one daughter there, and we’re chipping in together on a gift (a new weed-whacker for my dad, and some badly needed new tires for the car for both of them — I said 25 is silver, 50 is gold and 60 is rubber, lol). And my sister has promised there will be pictures.

But it still sucks that we can't all be together. :( 

When you don't have kids, those opportunities for "milestone" celebrations become further & fewer in between. The ones you do get to have -- including celebrating your aging parents' birthdays & anniversaries, as well as your own milestone events -- become all the more special. (And 60 years is definitely special!)  Let's face it, who knows how many more anniversaries and birthdays and Christmases I'm going to be able to celebrate with them? 

I called my dad tonight to wish him a happy birthday (and wiped away a few tears after hanging up). I'll call again on Wednesday. And just keep hoping that things improve in time for me to be there for Christmas...

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

"Too Much and Never Enough" by Mary L. Trump

Yes, I read it. ;)  (I couldn't resist, lol.)

"Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man" by Mary L. Trump, is just a little more than 200 pages -- but it explains a lot about the current president of the United States -- the author's uncle -- and how his upbringing influenced the man he is today.

The book is part memoir (Mary's experience of growing up as a Trump), part Trump family history, and part psychological analysis of the current President and the strange dynamics of the dysfunctional family he (and Mary) grew up in.

(I was reminded of Ann Patchett's novel "The Dutch House," which I read earlier this year, which also focuses on a dysfunctional family whose patriarch makes a fortune in real estate. Mary refers to the Trump family home in Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York City, as "the House" (with a capital H), and as in the Patchett novel, "the House" essentially becomes a character in the story itself.)

Much as I am not a fan of the current president, I'm inclined to agree with Washington Post reviewer Carlos Lozada, who observes, "The real villain of Mary Trump’s family tell-all isn’t Donald. It’s Fred."  That would be Donald's father and Mary's grandfather, Fred Trump, whom she describes as a "high-functioning sociopath." Fred ruled his family with an iron-handed mixture of fear and neglect. (His wife, also named Mary, suffered from numerous health issues and was largely absent -- literally and emotionally -- from her children's lives.)

“Abuse can be quiet and insidious just as often as, or even more often than, it is loud and violent," Mary writes. "As far as I know, my grandfather wasn’t a physically violent man or even a particularly angry one. He didn’t have to be; he expected to get what he wanted and almost always did.” (Sound familiar?)

“In some ways, I've been extremely fortunate," Mary says in the book's prologue. "I attended excellent private schools and had the security of first-rate medical insurance for much of my life. There was also, though, a built-in sense of scarcity that applied to all of us, except Donald."

The children (aside from Donald) were trained not to ask for anything, ever -- that would mean admitting weakness.  Fred Trump may have been a multi-millionaire -- and he bankrolled Donald's businesses, far more than the President has ever acknowledged -- but Mary's parents, Fred Jr. (known as Freddy) and Linda, lived in a damp, drafty apartment in one of Fred's buildings, their requests for repairs going unanswered (to the point that Freddy wound up in the hospital with pneumonia).  When Freddy (now divorced) moved back in with his parents after going through rehab, he lived for a time in the attic of the House, sleeping on a cot amid piles of storage boxes and old toys. When Mary lost her typewriter when her student apartment was burgled, she asked her grandfather (through an associate) for an advance on her allowance to buy a new one -- and was told to get a job instead. (Her grandmother wound up writing her a cheque.)  It's telling little details like these -- as well as the touches of wry humour that Mary brings to the story -- that kept me turning the pages.

Freddy never measured up to his father's expectations -- and yet he did summon up the strength of character to leave the family business for a time and follow his own ambitions to become a pilot.  Fred never forgave his oldest son for this betrayal, and instead focused his ambitions on his middle son, Donald. It's painful to read about Freddy's sad decline into alcoholism and his premature death at the age of 42, when Mary was just 16.

After Fred Sr.'s death in 1999, Mary and her brother Fritz found themselves essentially cut out of their grandfather's will.  They sued -- and Mary later gave documents about the Trump empire that she received during that lawsuit to New York Times reporters investigating the family's finances. Their investigation showed Mary that her family's fortune was much larger than she and her brother had been led to believe.

No doubt Mary Trump wants some revenge for the way she & her brother (and, earlier, their father) have been treated by their family. But she also fears for the future of her country, and feels that her uncle has gotten away with far too much for far too long. "No one knows how Donald came to be who he is better than his own family. Unfortunately, almost all of them remain silent out of loyalty or fear. I'm not hindered by either of those."

She does have a unique perspective to add, and I'm glad she chose to tell her story.

I debated whether this was a four or five-star read. I settled on five stars on Goodreads, because I really did enjoy reading it. It's well written, highly readable and highly insightful. It explains a lot. 

This was Book #22 read to date in 2020 (Book #4 finished in July). I'm currently at 73% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 6 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books."  

(This isn't my #MicroblogMondays post... hoping to get one of those posted later!) 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

"White Rage" by Carol Anderson

"White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide" by Carol Anderson had been languishing in my TBR (to be read) pile for a while. I reached for it in early June, shortly after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as Black Lives Matter protests sprang up across the United States and around the world.

As an overview of how we got to this point, it was probably a good book to start with, although not an easy one (but then, what book on this complex, painful topic is "easy," right?). 

Anderson, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, explains in the prologue about how the book came to be, in her observations about the protests and looting after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (and, earlier, the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo by New York City police). 

"Again and again, across America's ideological spectrum, from Fox News to MSNBC, the issue was framed in terms of black rage, which, it seemed to me, entirely missed the point," Anderson writes, laying out the book's thesis. 
"...What was really at work here was white rage. With so much attention focused on the flames, everyone had ignored the logs, the kindling. In some ways, it is easy to see why. White rage is not about visible violence, but rather it works its way through the courts, the legislatures, and a range of government bureaucracies. It wreaks havoc subtly, almost imperceptibly. Too imperceptibly, certainly, for a nation consistently drawn to the spectacular—to what it can see. It’s not the Klan. White rage doesn’t have to wear sheets, burn crosses, or take to the streets. Working the halls of power, it can achieve its ends far more effectively, far more destructively... 

"The trigger for white rage, inevitably, is black advancement. It is not the mere presence of black people that is the problem; rather, it is blackness with ambition, with drive, with purpose, with aspirations, and with demands for full and equal citizenship...

“The truth is, white rage has undermined democracy, warped the Constitution, weakened the nation’s ability to compete economically, squandered billions of dollars on baseless incarceration, rendered an entire region sick, poor, and woefully undereducated, and left cities nothing less than decimated. All this havoc has been wreaked simply because African Americans wanted to work, get an education, live in decent communities, raise their families, and vote. Because they were unwilling to take no for an answer.”
Anderson takes us more or less chronologically, step by step, through 150 years of American history -- from the Civil War and Reconstruction through Plessy vs Ferguson, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, Brown vs Board of Education, the civil rights movement of the 1950s & 60s and the Voting Rights Act to the election of (and backlash against) Barack Obama and, in a new afterword written for the paperback edition, the election of Donald Trump. Along the way, she demonstrates how hard-won black progress has been consistently met with rage and resistance from the white majority through the institutions of power that it controls.  

I knew some of the history that Anderson recounts here, but certainly not all of it, and not all of the details -- which can become overwhelming at times, and which is probably why it took me a full month to work my way through this book. (I was startled to read, for example, on page 22:  "Indeed, such was Mississippi's obstinacy that it delayed ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment [which abolished slavery in the United States] until 2013." !!!)  The book is just 287 pages -- including a mere 178 pages of text -- and well documented, with 62 (!) pages of footnotes.  It was cited on many critics' lists as one of the best books of 2016.  I can see why.  While the material may sometimes be difficult, it's thoughtfully and well written and well argued. 

Four stars on Goodreads.

This was Book #21 read to date in 2020 (Book #3 finished in July). I'm currently at 70% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 5 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books."  

Monday, July 13, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Annoying things & small pleasures

Annoying things:
  • Saturday night partygoers whooping it up somewhere outside our building while we were trying to get to sleep. :p  #condoliving #toooldforthiscrap
  • Not getting to see little Great-Nephew this weekend. :( 
  • (No new photos on social media from his parents or grandparents in more than a week either.) :(  
  • How little wine it takes these days for me to start feeling fuzzy. :p  (My 20-year-old self would scoff, lol.)  
  • Deciding not to go through the hassle of trying to return/exchange the black ribbed tank top that Old Navy sent me (instead of the package of masks I'd ordered) and just add the thing to my wardrobe... only to discover, when I unfolded it & took a good look at it, that it was a CHILD's top!! (It's now going into the bag destined for the thrift store...!) 
  • Parents on Twitter complaining about being sick of parenting in this pandemic (which, okay, I can sympathize with to some extent)... but then tacking on an additional complaint that "non-parents have no idea how hard it's been." Seriously?? I daresay you have no idea how hard our lives can be either... :p  (I was pleased to see how many people -- both childfree and childless-not-by-choice -- called him out on his post -- and, to his credit, the guy did apologize later.) 
Small pleasures: 
  • A brief respite from the unrelenting heat & humidity of the past few weeks -- enough to have the balcony door open for a while in the morning, anyway. 
  • Lots of good and even great hair days since (finally!) getting a haircut two weeks ago. :)  
  • The season's first gelato, on our wedding anniversary last Monday. :) 
  • My mom told me she & my dad spent our 35th wedding anniversary watching the video of our wedding day (something I haven't looked at in years myself!)... and my dad apparently remarked that I was "a very pretty bride," which really tickled me.  :)  
  • Getting my 2021 week-on-two-pages Filofax insert in the mail last week (ordered via Amazon). (Yes, I still use a paper calendar... and I'd be lost without it!) 
    • Hoping that those days will be filled with activities other than staying holed up at home, away from others, and trying to avoid a pandemic... :(  (but not entirely hopeful that will happen by then...) 
  • (And, speaking of mail...) Finally getting the last 5-pack of cloth masks I'd ordered from Old Navy (some of them in fun animal prints!) -- 1.5 months and five packages after I first ordered them!). 
    • Dh's face when he saw them: "I'm not wearing those!"  (lol)  I assured him these were for me, and that we had plenty of other masks in plain/dark colours that he could wear instead, lol. 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Odds & ends

  • Thank you for your anniversary wishes! As I said, it wasn't the anniversary we would have planned, pre-COVID, but it wasn't a bad day overall. We went out that afternoon for gelato -- wearing masks & eating outside. Our favourite Italian restaurant is closed on Mondays (!) but we got takeout dinner from another favourite restaurant that recently reopened -- including a bottle of wine. :) 
  • In between, we stopped at the supermarket & the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions -- and I ventured into both places (wearing masks), for the first time since March 12th! (= four months!)  I didn't want to wait for dh outside in a hot car (even with the windows open), I was curious (I'll admit!), and... I wanted to pick up a new points card. 
    • I'm not sure I wrote about this at the time, but my old points card was hacked and I had 60,000 points (worth $60 in groceries) stolen just as this pandemic started unfolding. I promptly reported it (and did get my points back) -- was told to change my password (which I did) and pick up a new card on my next visit to link to my online profile. I'd asked dh to pick up one for me on one of his grocery runs, a couple of times -- but using cards for points is not his thing and he never remembered...!  
    • I found the experience stressful and weird. Normally I love to spend time wandering up & down the aisles at  leisurely pace, checking out sales and finding things that might not necessarily have been on my shopping list but that I might be able to use or would like to try. This time around, I was trying to get in & out as quickly as possible (touching as few things as possible and grabbing only the things I could carry that were at the top of my list).  Trying to avoid other people, standing in distanced lineups, following arrows up & down aisles (at the drugstore albeit not the supermarket), speaking to the cashier from behind plexiglass... Plus there are still swaths of shelves that are, if not empty, picked over. There was toilet paper, for example, but still lots of empty shelf space -- not a big selection of brands or package sizes. 
  • We also went into the city's midtown last week for a long-scheduled appointment with my optometrist, to check on the status of my wonky eyes. One year plus later, I'm still seeing occasional flashes, but mostly when I turn out the lights at night... and I had to pause when he asked me about floaters. They're still there, but I haven't noticed or thought about them in quite a while now. 
    • The office actually called me a few weeks ago to ask if I would mind moving my appointment  back 20 minutes to allow for social distancing -- and to remind me to wear a mask. Dh stayed in the car in the parking lot across the street (windows cranked open -- it was another sweltering hot day) while I went in. (I was glad it was a fairly short appointment with only a short wait.) The waiting room is normally packed, but I was the only person there, and the chairs were well spaced out instead of crammed together. The receptionists were behind plexiglass, albeit there was a window through which one of them took my temperature. I had to sign in and fill out a questionnaire about COVID symptoms.  The doctor spritzed down his equipment and the chair with disinfectant/alcohol before inviting me to sit down. He wore both an N95 mask AND a face shield. Normally, he would get inches from my face to shine lights in my eyes, etc., but he did it from a distance this time. There was a clear plastic shield covering part of his equipment. You know the thing that looks kind of like binoculars that you look through? and he changes the lenses back & forth & asks you to read a line on the screen on the wall, and which setting looks clearer?  I had to admit to him it was hard to tell because between the shield over the equipment and the mask I was wearing, the lenses were fogging up, lol.  
    • Next appointment in January.  
  • It's been horribly hot & humid for most of the past two weeks. We've barely stuck our nose out the screen door to the balcony, and (sadly) we've had to abandon our walking routine for now (just as I was starting to feel like I was getting a handle on it!). Between COVID & the weather, we're both going a bit stir crazy :(  (although I think I'm a little better at entertaining myself than dh is). 
  • We're missing little Great-Nephew this weekend. :(  Walking that fine line between wanting to see him (always a highlight in our otherwise mundane lives, especially right now with COVID...!) -- but not wanting to be pests either. 
    • We popped by last weekend for a brief visit, unannounced -- BIL was not around but the kids were, so we went straight down to their basement apartment (they have a separate walkout entrance in the back yard). They were going out for the afternoon, so we didn't stay long, but we got to watch Great-Nephew have a post-nap snack before we left (getting as much of it on himself as into his mouth, lol). (SIL was actually home upstairs, and we stopped by to say hello to her too on our way out.) 
    • BIL is always telling us that we're an important part of the family and like another set of grandparents for the baby (nice to hear), and that we don't need an invitation to come over (even though we almost always wait for one).  BUT dh got a call from him the next day & a lecture about respecting the kids' privacy, etc.  I think it was more BIL talking than Older Nephew -- he was surprised but seemed genuinely happy to see us. But the call left both of us feeling a bit guilty and, yes, hurt.  Dh said, "We won't be doing that again soon..." :(  
  • A few notable items to share from our ALI community (and the childless corner of it in particular):  
    • I recommended this post for a "second helping" on Mel's Friday Roundup post recently, and I'm noting it here too because it's just so, so good:  "I Wish Someone Would Ask Me...
    • Pamela shares another pointed critique of the IVF industry on Silent Sorority: "IVF Industry Can’t Have it Both Ways."  (Any blog post that begins with a meme out of "Casablanca" deserves to be read, lol.)  
    • I have not listened to the latest episode of The Full Stop podcast, which just dropped this weekend, but the topic is very timely -- "Facing Up To Change." The regular hosts are joined by author and speaker Yvonne John, with her guests Haneefah Muhammad, Krista Cooper, Bindi Shah and Civilla Morgan "to talk about the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and how childlessness and racism have impacted their lives. More importantly, what we can all do about it." 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A visit with an old friend

Last Sunday was just like old times. 

I've mentioned "The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean" in my posts several times over the years, including here, where I explain what the show is/was all about. The closest American equivalent I can think of would be NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion" (and I believe The Vinyl Cafe was carried by several NPR stations in the U.S.).  It ran on CBC Radio from 1994 to 2016. We didn't start listening until later in the show's long run, but we did attend at least four Vinyl Cafe concerts in & around the Toronto area over the years, including at least two or three Christmas concerts, which always featured Christmas music and stories. 

Both the live concerts and radio show followed similar formats (although there would occasionally be a show recorded mostly or entirely in studio).  A member of the audience would be recruited in advance to deliver the opening line: "From the (venue) in (community)... it's the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean!" Stuart would walk onstage, to thunderous applause from the audience, and deliver a monologue/essay, often related to the community and its history and culture. There would be wonderful live music, delivered by rising Canadian talent. Stuart would read at least one story sent in by a listener, and then would come a couple of his own short stories (published in 10 volumes over the years -- all Canadian best sellers). The stories focused on the adventures of Dave, the hapless owner of the Vinyl Cafe (a used record store), his wife Morley, daughter Stephanie, son Sam, and assorted friends, neighbours and extended family members. They were generally hilarious (the humour of the story enhanced by the animated way Stuart performed it) --but I'd often need to reach for the Kleenex too. 

He entertained us, he educated us, he connected us, and he made us proud to be Canadians. 

Sadly, Stuart was diagnosed with melanoma in late 2015. CBC Radio One continued to air Vinyl Cafe repeats, until December 2016, when Stuart announced he required further treatment, and was giving up his time slot in January "to make room for others to share their work." He passed away a few months later, in February 2017 at the far-too-young age of 68. 

I'm still on the Vinyl Cafe mailing list, and still receive occasional updates from his longtime producer Jess Milton, usually when there's a new short story or audio collection released from McLean's archives. And so I was delighted to learn, a few weeks ago, that CBC Radio One was bringing back classic episodes of the Vinyl Cafe, at its old date & time (Sundays at noon) for the summer months (July & August, through the September long weekend).  I can't think of anything more comforting during these turbulent times than to spend an hour with Stuart again on Sunday mornings.

And so, this past Sunday, dh scrambled some eggs and I made toast, just as we used to do when we were living in our house -- and we tuned in the radio to CBC One (actually the TV, but whatever) promptly at noon. And when I heard that familiar tagline -- "It's the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean!" -- I teared up and had to reach for the Kleenex.

And then we listened. And we laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed.

His voice is so missed. And so welcome. And so badly needed right now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Pandemic Project, part 3

Back in March, I posted about my voluntary 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 in May (and posted about the results here).  

I consented to be contacted for another follow-up survey, and received (and completed) my third survey today. :)  The 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). 

It's been interesting to track my scores in the same categories from survey to survey to survey! 
  • 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. This is the same score I received in the second survey in May.  In the first survey, my Social Connection score was not quite as high -- 6.2, or average. 
  • My COVID Obsession score was 6 this time around -- in the mid-range. My score here has dropped considerably -- from a whopping 10 out of 10 in the first survey in March (!), to 7.1 in the second. This is a good thing, I think. ;)  Nevertheless, I've still been advised that "In the days and weeks ahead, it might be healthy to pull back from your habits of watching all of latest news, rumors, theories, and stories about the outbreak... Watching or reading too much news about the coronavirus is bad for your health." 
  • My Healthy Habits score was 5.4 -- 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 score was actually down from 6.2 in the first two surveys. (We DID start walking again more regularly since the last survey -- but the weather over the past week or two has been way too hot & humid to spend much time outside exercising.) 
  • My COVID-related Anxiety and Distress score was 7.3 -- the same score I received in the second survey -- mid-range, and similar to the average person. "Your score suggests that you have some anxiety and distress about the outbreak which makes sense." My score on the first survey was 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.) 

Monday, July 6, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: 35

Today is our 35th (!!) wedding anniversary!  And -- like most things so far this year -- it hasn't unfolded exactly the way we hoped. 

Usually on our anniversary, we'd at least go out for a celebratory dinner... and we've always made a point of doing something a little more for those anniversaries divisible by 5 or 10: 
(You can see all my anniversary-related posts here.) 

I didn't have any concrete plans in mind for this one earlier in the year, but I assumed we'd do something similar -- a trip somewhere, perhaps -- back to Banff, where we spent part of our honeymoon? PEI? Newfoundland? Montreal? New York? Maybe even (finally!) to the U.K. or Italy for a few weeks, on our own or with a tour of some kind??  

Then along came COVID --  and so much for any thought of going anywhere, even out for dinner. :(  We could, of course, have made a reservation for a restaurant patio somewhere -- they're open hereabouts -- but neither dh nor I are quite ready to do that yet. 

We decided we'd order takeout from our favourite Italian restaurant... only to learn that they're not open on Mondays (!).  

So this afternoon (when it's hopefully less busy/fewer people around), we're treating ourselves to our first gelatos of the season/year (we'll eat it outside of the shop). (The forecast is 32C/90F -- not counting humidity -- and sunshine.)  And tonight, we'll order in from another favourite restaurant that recently reopened for patio dining and takeout/delivery (and offers half-price bottles of wine for takeout orders, lol).  And then hopefully find something good on TV/Netflix to watch.

Over the past 35 years, we've endured some of the hardest things a couple can go through: stillbirth, infertility, acceptance of permanent involuntary childlessness, anxiety and depression (both of us), job loss (x2!), and the loss of a parent. There were times (especially in those early years) when we were flat broke, and up to our eyeballs in debt.  

But we've also had a lot of fun. :)  We've laughed a lot together, travelled a bit, been to some great movies & plays & concerts together (Springsteen, twice), and spent umpteen hours browsing in bookstores (something we both love to do). We've watched two awesome nephews grow up from babies to fine young men, get married, and just this past year, we met our first great-nephew. :)  We've lived in some pretty nice places:  a charming old apartment in the city's upscale midtown district, a cozy suburban house and now a condo. 

We're still here, still together, still healthy (crossing our fingers and knocking wood!). And we hope we'll have many more opportunities to celebrate many more anniversaries. (But hopefully without the shadow of COVID hanging over us...!)    

Who could have imagined THIS back in 1985??!  

Let nothing (including masks) stand in the way of true love, lol. 

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

Saturday, July 4, 2020

"Jane of Lantern Hill" by L.M. Montgomery

This is the cover of the edition of "Jane" 
that I have, purchased in January 1982 
(although I first read the book 
from the library in the early 1970s). 
The Facebook group readathon of L.M. Montgomery's "Rilla of Ingleside" that I took part in recently was such a huge success the organizers have decided we should continue discussing another Lucy Maud Montgomery book over the summer months. 

"Jane of Lantern Hill" is one of Montgomery's later books (published in 1937), and one of the very few books she wrote that's not fully set in Prince Edward Island (parts of it take place in Toronto, where Montgomery lived from 1935 until her death in 1942). Toronto seemed just as far away as PEI when I first read this book as a pre-teen (about the same age as Jane) in the early 1970s, and reading it again today (for the first time in many years) and knowing the city as I do now, it's fun trying to envision where Jane's grandmother's gloomy old mansion in Gay Street might have been located (the Annex? Rosedale?), or what girls' school she had in mind when she wrote about St. Agatha's (St. Clements?), etc. etc. I suspect Eatons or Simpsons department stores (both now gone, although the Simpsons building is now home to both Hudson Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue) was the model for Marlborough's, and when she describes the streetcar, or mentions Forest Hill or the Kingsway or Union Station, I can picture exactly what she's writing about. 

Eleven-year-old Jane lives in that gloomy old mansion on Gay Street with her beautiful socialite mother, colourless spinster aunt and cold, dictatorial grandmother. Her father is dead -- or so she thinks, until a schoolmate spills the secret that he's actually alive and living on Prince Edward Island. He is a forbidden subject in the house on Gay Street, but Jane hates him because of the pain she sees in her mother's eyes when he is mentioned. 

Then, out of the blue, a letter arrives that changes Jane's life: her father wants her to come spend the summer with him on PEI. She dreads the meeting -- but of course, she instantly falls in love him -- and with PEI.  The only thing that would make life more perfect would be to have Mother there with them...

This has always been one of my very favourite Montgomery novels (sorry, Anne of Green Gables! lol). I love the contrast between gloomy Toronto and glorious PEI... the fairy tale/magical aspects of the story (the wicked grandmother, the tragic princess -- Jane's mom -- locked up in the castle, etc.)... the wonderful relationship that develops between Jane and her father... Jane's growing sense of self-confidence... and of course, those amazing descriptions (especially of PEI)!

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to re-read this book (I'm not sure I've touched it since I first bought the paperback copy in my collection, 38 years ago...!), but when I picked it up again and started reading, the years fell away and the memories came flooding back. I read the first 90 pages in the blink of an eye. I'm so happy to get reacquainted with Jane again, and discuss her adventures other "Lantern Hill" & Montgomery lovers. 

A few slight caveats:  The book is a bit dated in some respects -- in its attitudes towards divorce, for example (and its somewhat unrealistic wish-fulfillment ending). There's an adoption that marks a happy ending for one secondary character, but the conversation leading up to it will likely give the modern reader (especially one who knows anything about adoption) some pause...!  An episode in which Jane becomes a national heroine is a bit ridiculous.  And there's a certain anti-Semitic slur used that made me wince when I read it. I decided I could not quite give it 5 stars. But overall, I still love it. 
4 stars on Goodreads. 

I will be following along with the Facebook group discussion, chapter by chapter, as I did with "Rilla of Ingleside," and will mark this as a re-read when we're finished. (One way to meet my Goodreads challenge goal for the year, lol.)  ;)  

This was Book #20 read to date in 2020 (Book #2 finished in July). I'm currently at 67% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 5 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Friday night odds & ends

  • Life in the age of COVID-19 chugs along. Most days I'm fine with staying at home -- but there are days when I start to go a little stir crazy... and it's even harder for dh. (We haven't even been able to go out walking this week, because it's been so horribly hot & humid.)
    • I think it's hard (a) because it's been going on for so long now & (b) there's some semblance of normal life starting to unfold out there now (patio dining & malls reopening, for example). It's tempting to think that things ARE back to normal -- and I think some (a lot?) of people have deluded themselves that they are. (A CNN report I saw earlier today said Canada is "crushing the curve."  I said to dh, "I'm not sure we can really say that." He told me I was being too typically Canadian, lol.)  
    • The numbers are (finally) heading in the right direction, but we can't afford to be complacent. The virus has not disappeared (as certain parts of the U.S. are sadly finding out). And so we slog along... 
    • We visited the hair salon last week for the first time in 17 (!!)  weeks, and we've been seeing a little more of BIL & family lately (including Great-Nephew :)  ) -- still not hugging, but not exactly distanced either -- but that's about as far as we've ventured beyond the confines of our condo, other than dh's weekly grocery/pharmacy/takeout dinner expeditions. 
  • We WILL be venturing further afield next week, to midtown (where we lived when we were first married).  Optometrist appointment for me to check on my wonky eyes. I still get flashes in both eyes, but it's not that noticeable (I mostly see them when I turn out the lights & get into bed). 
    • I probably could also use a change in my prescription (something we discussed the last time I was there -- I've had my current glasses for almost 6 years now), but I'm not sure I want to hang around the office longer than I have to, trying on new frames (& then come all the way back into midtown again to pick them up, while COVID is still a factor). (I know there are stores like LensCrafters where you can shop for frames too, but I've always just bought them from my optometrist... he has a pretty good selection!) 
    • The office called a few weeks ago to change the time of the appointment by a few minutes (to allow for social distancing, they said), and then again this week to confirm and to remind me to wear a mask. 
    • I've worn glasses since I was 7, and both of my parents as well as my sister wear glasses. Dh has had them since he was in his early 20s. I always wonder whether Katie would have had to wear glasses too... genetics were probably not in her favour in that respect! 
  • I spilled a glass of water the other day. It was sitting on a coaster on the corner of the coffee table. I'm not quite sure how it happened. It not full, thankfully (and it didn't break), but there was still enough water in it to wreak some havoc. While some of the water splashed onto the top of the table & onto the floor below, most of it (unfortunately) wound up inside the coffee table drawer (which was open) and on top of the things inside, including my Filofax datebook, which was open to the week's two pages. The ink is all smudged and blurred now, and one of the post-it notes I had in there is now permanently glued to the page, it seems -- and the edges of the last several pages of "Daisy Jones and the Six" got soaked -- but I quickly emptied the drawer of its contents, wiped everything down and soaked up the water inside with a rag, and then left the drawer open for a few hours to dry it out thoroughly. It could have been a lot worse, but I still hate when stuff like that happens...! :p 
  • The wonderful people who organized the recent "Rilla of Ingleside" Facebook readathon have invited us to participate in another FB readathon of a Lucy Maud Montgomery book, and it's another of my LMM favourites: "Jane of Lantern Hill." I even have a copy in my collection here (with the date of purchase, January 1982, written with my name in the flyleaf, although I first read the book back in the 1970s).  It's been quite a long time since I read this one, so I am looking forward to revisiting it again in the company of other Montgomery fans. :)  Comfort reads rule! (and especially right now!)  ;)  

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Normal People" (again) by Sally Rooney

Thank you for bearing with me as I watched (& raved about, here on this blog, lol) the television adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel "Normal People" these past six weeks.  I watched the final two episodes yesterday, and then finished re-reading the novel. I'd been following along as the episodes unfolded, two at a time.

I sobbed through the last 10 minutes or so of that last episode (much to dh's bemusement, lol)... not just because of Marianne & Connell's story, and how beautifully it was unfolding on screen, but also because it reminded me of my own youth & my own story, mine & dh's.

I did not have Marianne's abusive family issues (thank goodness!).  But I could relate to her insecurity and lack of self-esteem. Like her, I was considered "smart" and bookish as a child/teenager, and thus regarded as a bit of an oddity in school. Thank goodness for school band and drama club in high school, because otherwise, I didn't really feel like I fit in. In many ways, life for me began at university (as it did for Marianne).

My relationship with dh (whom I met in my third year) was nowhere near as fraught as Connell & Marianne's, but we did find ourselves thrust into a long-distance romance that summer, when he didn't get accepted into the MBA program at the university where we met (but did get accepted to two other schools elsewhere). I stayed in Manitoba & finished my four-year bachelor of arts program while he went through the first year of business school. This was in the early 1980s, long before the Internet, or even cheap long distance telephone calls. We wrote & sent each other actual pen & ink letters (all of which I still have), and called each other on the phone once a week for an hour or so (and then I hustled like crazy for tips at my part-time waitressing job at a pizza restaurant, so I could pay the phone bill without asking my parents for extra money, lol). And he came to visit me a couple of times, over Christmas & study week.

The next spring, I applied to several journalism programs and got accepted to one at a school two hours by train away from his. It was a year-long program that started in May and went through to the next April (with breaks in August and at Christmastime). We saw each other just about every weekend -- in his city or mine, or we'd meet up on the train and travel into Toronto to visit his family.  Then we both graduated (and got engaged, and started planning a wedding for the following year).  He went back to Toronto to look for work, and I went back to live with my parents, and unexpectedly found a reporting job there to fill my time and pad both my pocketbook & my resume until we were married. (Living together was not an option for us, and with no jobs and no money, we didn't have a whole lot of choices.)  My parents & I spent time with him & his dad that summer when we came east to attend my convocation.  He came west for visits later that summer, and for Christmas, and for our marriage prep weekend, and I came to Toronto later that spring, before our wedding, to apartment hunt.

And next week we'll have been married 35 years. Sometimes these things do work out. :)

Four Goodreads stars (again) for the book. Unlimited stars for the TV version. Seriously, if there is justice in the universe, it will win every award it's eligible for. It's wonderful. :)

This was Book #19 read to date in 2020 (Book #1 finished in July). I'm currently at 63% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 5 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Right now

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

June was Full Month #3 (going on 4) of life in the age of COVID-19. I FINALLY got my hair cut last week!! and we've been to see BIL & family (including Great-Nephew) three times, but otherwise (aside from walks around the neighbourhood), we've stayed pretty close to home since March 12th. Dh continues to make 
weekly (or so) expeditions to the supermarket/drugstore, and for takeout on Saturday nights. 

I feel like some of these answers will be repetitive from previous months, since not a lot has been going on... but here goes!

ReadingMy COVID reading drought/slowdown continues, although I did better this month than last.  All I can say is thank goodness for online book groups, and re-reads. ;)  

I read 4 books in June (reviewed on this blog & tagged "2020 books"):  
So far this year, I've read 18 books.  I'm currently at 60% of my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and (despite slacking off somewhat) I'm currently 4 books ahead of schedule.  

Current read(s):   
  • "Normal People" by Sally Rooney (a re-read along with episodes of the BBC TV adaptation -- see "Watching," below)(previous blog review here).
  • "Daisy Jones & the Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I read & enjoyed last year (blog review here), and which the newly rebooted Gateway Women book club is currently reading & discussing. 
  • "White Rage" by Carol Anderson, which has been in my TBR pile for a very long time, and which I finally opened after the events in Minneapolis and elsewhere in late May/earlier this month. 
We still haven't been back to our local mega-bookstore since March 12th.  :(  It reopened on May 19th, but we've been in no hurry to return...! I have, however, 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:  
Watching:  I so enjoyed watching "Mrs. America" on FX (Hulu in the States), which ended in mid-June, and would highly recommend it :) (although I understand Gloria Steinem was not impressed, lol).  It's about the 1970s battle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, with Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum versus Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and a host of familiar (and not-so-familiar) feminist figures of the time. Even though it depicts events that happened 40-50 years ago, it explains a lot about the current political situation in the U.S.    

And if you loved (or even just liked) Sally Rooney's novel "Normal People," 
which I read last fall, you MUST watch "Normal People," the TV adaptation.  Here in Canada, it's available on the CBC's Gem streaming service -- two half-hour episodes released every Wednesday for six weeks (10 of the 12 episodes available so far -- I will be watching the final 2 later today!). (It's on Hulu in the States, and was on the BBC in the UK earlier this year.)  I almost always find myself preferring the book to the TV or movie version, but this is amazing. Paul Mescal & Daisy Edgar-Jones, who play Connell & Marianne, are sheer perfection in the roles -- they have wonderful chemistry together, and deserve every award available for their performances. I am very sorry to see it end. (I've been re-reading the relevant chapters of the book after I watch each new episode!) 

I understand there's been a huge clamour for a sequel (to the TV show, if not the book itself) -- a "season/series 2" -- which Rooney says she has no interest in doing. I'm with her. Sequels are, by & large, disappointing... some things are perfect in & of themselves, even if they don't wrap everything up with a neat little bow, and leave you wanting more. BUT -- the Mescal & Edgar-Jones did recently reprise their characters of Marianne & Connell in a short film for a fundraiser in Ireland -- along with another character from another beloved British show, which I haven't seen but have heard enough about to get the joke. ;)  The complete video is embedded in this story, here. (They even SING... seriously, is there nothing these actors can't do??) 

Listening:  (Not right now, because it's daytime, but...!)  To fireworks going off. Almost every night lately. All the usual big civic displays have been cancelled because of COVID, but people can still buy and set them off on the traditional holidays (Victoria Day, Canada Day)... and some people, it seems save them up & set them off year round (!).  We could see fireworks from our windows on Father's Day (??) & for several nights afterward. Monday night, I got woken up around midnight by some loud bangs that sound like they were coming from very close by. Last night, the noise (& some displays, visible above the trees behind the townhouses) started just after sunset. It sounded like a barrage of artillery fire. And Canada Day evening isn't even until tonight!!  Sure, I enjoy a good fireworks display -- but on the appropriate occasions, and at a reasonable hour -- not EVERY FRICKIN' NIGHT!!  (Rant over...!) 

(Un)Following:  I feel a bit guilty about this, but I actually snoozed someone on Facebook recently, and am considering making it an "unfollow" once the 30 days of the snooze period are up... a very nice (slightly) older woman we both know, who never posts anything overly political or otherwise offensive (unlike most of the other people I've unfollowed, or been tempted to unfollow!)... but who floods my feed daily with dozens and DOZENS (I'm not exaggerating, I actually counted -- there were something like 60 (!!) posts one day and 40+ posts another!! -- and that's typical...!) of memes, videos, and reposted memories, mostly old photos of her kids and grandkids. I don't feel like I'm missing anything consequential so far.

Drinking: Iced tea, on the balcony, with a good book (when it's not too hot & humid out there). Ahhh!

Eating: Restaurant patios are now open hereabouts (albeit not the dining rooms themselves) -- and although I think I'd feel safer on a patio than inside, we're still in no hurry to head out to eat where there are other people yet.  We have been ordering takeout and enjoying a bit of variety (and a reprieve from cooking!) on recent Saturday nights. :)  

Thinking:  About what to do to make our upcoming 35th wedding anniversary at least a LITTLE special (if only a special takeout dinner, lol).  

Buying (besides books, lol):  (Still) Not much! Most stores & malls are now open here (with social distancing measures in place), but I am still not in any big hurry to go shopping. I wrote about my recent attempt at online shopping here. ;)  As I commented to Mali there -- even if my online shopping experience was better, perhaps it's best for my wallet that I don't do it too often...??  ;)  

Wearing:  Still mostly wearing denim shorts and capri-length yoga pants around the house & outside for walks. I got out my denim capris for the first time since last summer to wear to visit BIL/Great-Nephew and then to the hairdresser's. I have not been on a scale since early on in the pandemic, and I kind of held my breath as I put them on, but fortunately, they still do fit!  #winning 

Walking:  Not enough lately. We started doing some walking again in April, didn't really get into the regular habit until the last week of May, were doing pretty well for most of June (at least half an hour, 3-5 times a week)... and then the hot, humid weather hit. Ugh!  

Wanting:  A little more variety in the day (without sacrificing safety too much) would be nice...?? Dh is bored silly right now. I generally do better than he does on that front, but even I can get a bit stir-crazy from time to time. (I'm generally a homebody... but this is ridiculous...!)  ;)  

Enjoying:  My short, cool, easy to care for, nicely trimmed hair (again!)!! 

Celebrating:  Canada Day, today! (albeit the celebrations will be very subdued this year...!)  So thankful for my country!

Trying:  Not to think too much about what we're missing out on (see below). Trying to be grateful that we're in a position to sit tight and stay safe at home, and that the numbers here are trending downward (albeit more slowly than we'd like).

Missing:  M
y family. Right now, I should be counting down the days to our departure west, and calling my sister to wrap up last-minute details for our parents' 60th wedding anniversary party. It feels very strange not to have a summer visit home to look forward to, and to not know when that next visit will be. I'm reminded of summer 2018, when I didn't get home either for the first time in many years (because of FIL's final illness and then death in early August).  But even then, I knew that we would probably be heading home to see my family for (Canadian) Thanksgiving in October, or Christmas (as usual) at the very latest. Right now, I'm not keen to fly... and more importantly, there's not much point in making the trip so long as Manitoba's 14-day quarantine for all out-of-province visitors is in place. 

I know that even Christmas is by no means guaranteed. Just crossing my fingers and hoping and praying that the situation will improve by then... :( 

Loving: Being able to see little Great-Nephew again more regularly. :) 

Feeling:  Mostly upbeat, but occasionally despondent over the state of the world right now.