Monday, November 30, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

  • State of the uterus: okay, but I guess I shouldn't have expected to feel completely back to normal overnight...!  I had a LOUSY night's sleep Saturday/Sunday, so I was very tired and out of sorts all day yesterday. (Plus -- TMI warning -- constipated.  I was told that might happen...!)  Better on that end of things this morning ;) but now I'm spotting a little more. But I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary. Had a somewhat better sleep last night but I'm still feeling tired. Baby steps...! 
  • I thought this piece in the Guardian -- from the perspective of an unpartnered childless woman in her 40s -- was really well done. 
  • The fallout continues from Lena Dunham's piece in Harper's magazine (which I wrote about here and here).   
  • By now you've probably heard that the Duchess of Sussex (aka Meghan Markle) had a miscarriage last summer, and wrote about it for the New York Times. It's not just about her miscarriage -- although that's been the focus of the headlines & news coverage -- but a plea for kindness and consideration for each other at the end of this very tough year. 
    • Jody Day of Gateway Women was asked to comment on a related story in The Guardian. Of course they cut off the part of her quote where she mentioned that not all women who miscarry go on to become mothers, and how this is missing from the growing miscarriage narrative. (Eyeroll.)  But they did conclude the article with her saying, “This is precisely how taboos are broken – when people choose to speak out despite knowing they will be criticised, attacked and shamed for doing it.”
    • On social media, Jody shared a wonderful guest blog she wrote a few years ago for Tommy's charity in the U.K. about childlessness after miscarriage (& other pregnancy losses)
  • Also this week, the other Royal Duchess (of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton) delivered a major speech on a pet cause of hers:  the importance of the early years of childhood... with a surprising (and very welcome!) nod to the role non-parents play in children's development.  Quote (emphasis mine):  
People often asked why I care so passionately about the early years. Many mistakenly believe that my interest stems from having children of my own. And while of course I care hugely about their start in life, this ultimately sells the issue short.

Parenthood isn’t a prerequisite for understanding the importance of Early years. If we only expect people to take an interest in the early years when they have children, we aren’t only too late for them, we are underestimating the huge role others can play in shaping our most formative years too.
  • This article, about creative therapy and sharing after the loss of a child, was shared by a friend on Facebook. The author's daughter was stillborn 22 years ago. Needless to say, all I could think was, "This could be me..." 
  • Another friend flagged this story on Facebook:  an arbitrator upheld the reprimand filed against a British Columbia teaching assistant, who told her co-worker -- who is Black, born in Ghana -- "at least I am from here." And (as if the racism wasn't bad enough) she was also reported to have said, "I don't have to respect you. I am a mother and a taxpayer." (Note: the Black woman is also a mother. And a taxpayer.) Does she think that being a (non-Black) mother gives her some sort of edge of superiority?? Or means she doesn't have to show respect for her coworker??  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Saturday, November 28, 2020

State of the uterus: All is well :)

(So far, anyway.) Obviously we still have to get the pathology reports, but the dr called dh (while I was still doped up) & told him everything looked normal; he did a Pap, took some tissue samples & removed a few polyps. I have to call his office on Monday to arrange for a follow-up in 3-4 weeks. (Just before Christmas. Ho ho ho...) 

It was a LONG day. My appointment was for 10:30; I was supposed to be there for 8:30. It takes half an hour to get there but we wanted to be safe & so we got up around 5:30 and left an hour ahead at 7:30.  I was told to check in at emergency. They wouldn't let dh come in with me (even though he was my designated driver and post-op caregiver), so we said goodbye there. He stayed in the car in the parking lot the ENTIRE TIME, poor guy. He had his phone & e-reader to keep him company. He would NOT go home or even to get a coffee (because then he'd have to use a public washroom...!). 

They gave me a fresh mask & directed me to patient registration, and from there to the day surgery waiting area. (I think I must have answered the COVID screening questionnaire at least half a dozen times as I moved from checkpoint to checkpoint.)  It was all very efficient, and everywhere I went, the staff were just wonderfully nice. I kept thinking it must be so stressful working there right now with COVID hanging over them all, but everyone was just lovely. Bless them all! 

I was met at the door to the day surgery waiting area by a volunteer, who took me to the change area, gave me my gowns & shower cap for my hair & plastic bag slippers (I was allowed to keep my socks on, lol), gave me plastic bags for my shoes & my clothes, and a locker to store them in. She told me I could keep my phone until they came to get me, and then I'd have to lock that up too, along with my glasses. She took me over to a waiting area where they had comfy chairs in front of a TV screen (tuned to the local 24 hours news channel) and gave me a heated blanket to cover up with. I texted back & forth with dh, read my phone, browsed the Black Friday sales (lol). (I even bought a couple of books for my Kobo e-reader via my phone.) 

My surgery was scheduled for 10:30 but I didn't get called until 11:15 & wasn't in the surgery room until 11:30. Hopped up on the table myself. They put a blood pressure cuff on one arm & then tried to insert an IV on my left hand. The anesthesiologist tied a really tight tourniquet on my upper left arm, & then the nurse was squeezing my lower arm & hand to try to get a vein to pop out. OW OW OW. They finally got it in. 

Then they tried to put an oxygen mask on me. I couldn't breathe & started getting a bit teary/panicky, so they just held it right above my nose & mouth (but not ON it) so I could still breathe air from outside, until the IV drugs started kicking in & knocked me out (and then they intubated me for the procedure -- he said I might have a bit of a sore throat afterwards, but it's barely noticeable). The oxygen mask brought back memories of being a little girl in the hospital, having tests & stuff done for my childhood bladder/kidney condition. My mom was only allowed to be with me during regular visiting hours so I was all by myself with the nurses & drs  It was all pretty traumatic, and I had nightmares about hospitals for years & years afterwards. I'm generally much better these days about hospitals, but I guess something like that was a bit of a trigger. :(  

Next thing I knew I was in the recovery area and it was 1 o'clock. I was very groggy & whenever I tried to open my eyes & focus the room started going up & down. The nurse brought me some ice chips. Eventually, they moved me back into the day surgery waiting area (where I went when I first arrived). They gave me some ginger ale & a few packages of cookies. I didn't eat them then but they put them in the bag with my stuff & I ate them on the way home, lol. Eventually, they brought me the bag from the locker with my clothes & shoes and put my glasses & phone on the bedside tray. They changed my pad & helped me to get dressed, and gave me a list of dos & don'ts for the next few days -- but I was still feeling a bit groggy/woozy so they let me lay there for another 20-30 minutes & then finally called poor dh to come pick me up at the main door. Got me into a wheelchair & brought me out to the car. We got home around 3:30. 

I thought, "I'd better call my mom, she'll be worried." Would you believe she didn't remember??!  (eyeroll)  She hadn't written it down & forgot that this was the day. She said, "In fact, I was going to call & try to talk you into putting it off" (because of COVID). I said, "Too late!!"  I waited five weeks to get this done as it was, I was just glad to get it over with." SIL called later too to see how I was, and dh emailed my sister (I called her this afternoon). I went to bed around 7:30 (!).  Didn't sleep very well, especially at first, but at least I was resting. I was a little anxious at first because I was having some initial trouble peeing (sorry if TMI) but it got easier as the night went on. I'm feeling a lot better today -- hardly any bleeding and the cramping/discomfort hasn't been too bad at all.  

Thanks again for all your good wishes, and for listening to/reading my ramblings leading up to this!  I'm just so glad it's over! (Well, except for the results.)  I'm planning to take it easy for the rest of the weekend -- and then hopefully put up the Christmas tree early next week! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

"Up your nose with a.... " *

(*any of my fellow late Boomers/early Gen-Xers able to complete that quote, from a well-known TV show of the 1970s??) 

I had my COVID-19 test (as well as my pre-op bloodwork and an ECG) this morning, at the same hospital where my surgery is scheduled for Friday.  Now I know what it's like to have a miniature mascara wand shoved up (WAY up!) my nose.  :p I won't pretend it was pleasant -- it was actually just a wee bit painful -- but it was over fairly quickly.   

Testing (at this site, anyway) is done by appointment only, and is set up directly inside the doors of a far wing of the hospital, away from the main entrance. It was very busy, but well organized. There was a (socially distanced) lineup outside the doors, but things moved quickly.  I was in & out in about 10-15 minutes. (The entire visit, including the bloodwork & ECG in another wing of the hospital, took about an hour total.) They gave me a clean (disposable) mask to put on (I got another one when I went to the other wing for the bloodwork), had me sanitize my hands, took my temperature, pulse and blood oxygen levels. I must have gone through the COVID screening questionnaire at least half a dozen times at various checkpoints during my visit. All the staff members I saw wore both masks & face shields.  

Total out-of-pocket cost to me: Zero. The testing centre even gave me a pass for free parking. I didn't even have to show my health card;  I'd downloaded the hospital app and pre-entered my card number and other personal information to speed things up.  #thankfultobecanadian

Now on to the REAL challenge: my surgery/procedure on Friday! 

LOL moment of the morning: Before he took my blood samples, the lab guy asked me a few questions -- including whether I was pregnant. (!!!) (Dude, I just told you my BIRTHDATE!!)  I started laughing and said (very firmly!), "NO!"  He said, "Sorry, standard questions we have to ask."  Whatever...! 

Monday, November 23, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Small pleasures & annoying things

Small pleasures: 
  • The first real snowfall of the year (all day yesterday) & how pretty it looks, sticking to the trees. 
    • Also: Not having to shovel it, or commute in it!  lol 
  • New, Christmas card-worthy photos on social media of a rosy-cheeked Little Great-Nephew, bundled up and getting pulled through the snow in his new sled (birthday present) by his parents. 
  • Three Zoom calls on Saturday (!!), almost (but not quite) back to back to back, all with fun & interesting groups of people. :)  
  • The first Skype call with my parents in a long time on Sunday afternoon. (Long story as to why we haven't done it lately...!) 
Annoying things: 
  • How dark it gets by 5 p.m. these days (& we haven't even reached winter solstice yet...!). 
  • How few books I've read so far this month. (I still have another week to go, though...!) 
  • My high school class announced on our Facebook Group page that the usual class Christmas party in our hometown is moving onto Zoom this year (eeeeeekkkkkk!).  Do I RSVP yes or not?? (I doubt I'd be missed if I didn't attend... on the other hand, I'd probably surprise a few people if I did...!  I haven't been to one of our reunions since 1989!)
    • (I told dh I'd wait & see if any of my friends were going -- does that sound like high school or what??  lol)  
  • Rising COVID-19 cases and new restrictions, both here in Ontario and in my home province of Manitoba. :(  
  • COVID-19 test & bloodwork on Wednesday, hysteroscopy and d&c on Friday. (Assuming non-emergency/diagnostic procedures like mine don't get cancelled before then, because, COVID.)  And then the wait for the results! 

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

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Weekend odds & ends

  • I realized, after it was published, that my recent post "The ties that bind (or not)" was post #173 this year. The significance of that number: I've now posted more often this year than any year since I first started blogging, 13 years ago. (Previous record:  I posted 172 times in 2008, my first full year of blogging.) And there's still about six weeks left to go in 2020! Don't ask me how I keep finding things to write about, but I do...! Not bad for someone who is almost 60, 22 years past her daughter's stillbirth and coming up to 20 years past her last infertility treatment. :)  
    • Being retired certainly helps, I'm sure. Also, being in a pandemic has provided plenty of fodder for blog posts...! Plus, I was always the kid who turned in a five-page story when the teacher asked for a paragraph, lol. ;)  
  • Lena Dunham's piece in Harpers magazine, which I mentioned here, has apparently received backlash from some of the #IVFWarriors she writes about, who did not take kindly to her descriptions of them, or of the adoption & fertility industries. 
    • Katy at Chasing Creation had a few posts and stories on the subject on Instagram (where she now has 5,000!! followers!), pointing out the very different perceptions she'd noticed among women still in treatment or parenting after infertility, who took umbrage at Dunham's words, and those of us who (also) left treatment without babies, who were by & large thrilled to have our experience described so well by a public figure (and in a prestigious forum like Harpers, to boot). Said Katy: "I'm sad that public voices from our community are so rare that it's noteworthy and feels like Christmas when we get any visibility." In another IG post, referring to the negative reaction to the article, she said, "It's a perfect illustration as to why those of us who are childless don't always feel supported in sharing our stories and often don't feel included in the infertility community."
    • I will admit, reading about the mixed reaction to the Harpers article (without reading a whole lot of #IVFwarriors posts themselves, because I don't follow many people these days who are still in treatment) reminded me of the kerfuffle within our ALI blogging community in early 2012 (8!! years ago!), when a rift developed between bloggers who were parenting after infertility and those still in treatment (while those of us in the CNBC corner of the community looked at each other & went, "Ummmm, hello, over here??"). (Sadly, I don't think our community ever fully recovered from that episode, although blogging was probably past its heyday at that point anyway...)   
    • Did you read the article? What did you think? 
  • After a lot of agonizing, we did go to BIL's on Little Great-Nephew's 1st birthday last Tuesday evening after supper. We stayed about an hour -- long enough to watch presents being opened, to sing "Happy Birthday" and have a piece of cake (which I will admit we originally didn't intend to do -- just goes to show you how hard it is to firmly stick to your guns in these situations...!).  We did wear masks the entire time, except when eating our cake (& I stood at the kitchen counter to eat mine, away from the table). Younger Nephew & his wife also came over, and when they saw dh & I wearing our masks, they promptly put theirs on too. (Great-Nephew will have some interesting photos in his birthday album, lol.)  They took their cake into the living room to eat. 
  • The city of Toronto and one of its neighbouring regions (fortunately, not the one I live in) will be going into another lockdown on Monday, for the next 28 days. Among the places that must close:  non-essential retail, gyms, hair salons and barbershops, indoor AND outdoor dining (not that many places here are still doing outdoor dining right now, unless than have patio heaters...!).  Supermarkets, pharmacies and big-box stores like Walmart and Costco will remain open, other stores can offer curbside pickup and delivery, and restaurants can still offer takeout and delivery.  No indoor gatherings with people outside your household. 
    • Trying to decide whether to get haircuts a bit earlier than we usually would, just in case the lockdown gets extended to other regions...!  (This week will be four weeks since our last ones;  we usually go every six weeks.)  
  • My COVID-19 test & bloodwork is scheduled for Wednesday;  my hysteroscopy and d&c will be Friday morning. I'm getting nervous. Please pray/send positive thoughts/vibes, etc. that (1) the procedure goes ahead as scheduled and doesn't get cancelled/postponed because of rising COVID rates -- I've waited five long weeks to have this done already...!  and (2) that all goes well and that (3) the results are good. (I don't know how long I'll have to wait for those. The sooner the better, obviously.) 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The ties that bind (or not)

Since talking to my mom about the undecided fate of the family heirlooms & photos (and then venting about it here) I've been thinking about extended family relationships, and how close I am (or not -- mostly not...) to certain relatives.   

Maybe it's because I don't have children of my own that I've been thinking a lot about my cousins and their families (on both sides of my family), and that I wished we were closer, that I knew more of them better. Kind of an alternative way of leaving my mark on the world, if you know what I mean. 

But -- I've lived 1,000 miles away from most of my relatives since I got married 35 years ago, so I haven't had the chance to see most of them very often, let alone get to know their children as they grew into adulthood. My mom has passed on tidbits from family gatherings and from conversations with my aunts & uncles, I exchange Christmas cards & letters with some of the ones I was closest to in childhood, and of course, I've been able to stay in touch with some cousins & other people I might otherwise have lost track of through social media. 

I've come to realize that while I'd like to be closer to some of my cousins than I am, not everyone feels the same about me. I don't mean that they dislike me, or that they wouldn't be happy to see me if we happened to run into each other or showed up at the same extended family gathering. It's just that everyone is wrapped up in their own families and lives. Even the cousins without spouses &/or kids have jobs, and aging parents they're looking out for, and friends and social activities that keep them busy. Out of sight, out of mind, right? 

I've also come to realize that maybe, in some cases, the gap between us has become too wide to bridge in a meaningful way. We might have some shared memories from the past to bond over, but otherwise, I don't have an awful lot in common with some of them. It would be nice if things were different -- but they're not, and they're probably not going to change much. It is what it is...

And you know what? More and more, I'm realizing: that's okay. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

"Giving up on motherhood" (?)

This piece by Lena Dunham -- the cover story (!) of the new issue of Harpers -- is already circulating widely among my infertility/CNBC peers.  After struggling for years with severe endometriosis, she made the decision in early 2018 to have a hysterectomy at age 31 (and wrote about that experience too -- which I blogged about here).  

"The moment I lost my fertility I started searching for a baby," the article begins. Dunham became obsessed, first with adoption, and then with IVF, when she realized she could use eggs from her one remaining ovary, fertilized by her boyfriend's sperm and carried by a surrogate. The article describes her personal experiences at the infertility clinic, as well as her online encounters with "#IVF Warriors." The paragraph that caught my attention was this one: 

If there’s one person less welcome among the IVF Warriors than a new mother, it is a woman who has given up on becoming one. For though these communities were created to support women trapped in the fertility-industrial complex, they hold fast to its founding commandment: never quit, because nothing is impossible. In a culture where some mothers are told that their children’s lives are worth nothing at all, other women—women who look like me and most of the IVF Warriors—are told that no expense is too great to bring another child into the world.

The subtitle of this piece is "Giving up on motherhood." At least one comment I've seen thus far speculates that Dunham might not have given up, really -- that she may turn to adoption after all. She certainly has the resources to do so, if she wants to. I guess we'll see what happens...

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

One year of cuteness :)

One year ago today, I became a great-aunt for the first time (and hopefully not the last...!). :)  Of course, last November, we had absolutely NO idea what kind of a year lay ahead of us all!  As much as 2020 has sucked, though, little Great-Nephew has been the very best thing about it, by far. He has brought all of us so much joy, even in the limited doses we've been able to experience it.  The worst thing about this past year has not being able to spend more time with him. We live so close -- just a 15 minute drive away -- but sometimes it might almost as well be 15 hours. :(  We missed his baptism, first Easter, first Thanksgiving and first Halloween, as well as just regular family fun times with him. at a time in his life when he's growing & changing so quickly. Yes, I resent it!  One of the big reasons we moved here was to get in on some of the great-nephew/niece action, when they started arriving. It doesn't seem fair that we don't get to have kids or grandkids of our own, and now we're being denied even this small pleasure too. :(  

We’ve decided we’ll go over there after supper tonight to bring him his presents, but wear masks & not stay long. With case rates skyrocketing again, the provincial government is strongly recommending not to socialize with anyone outside your immediate household. BIL, SIL and Older Nephew (the dad) all head out to work every day, and Nephew's Wife (the mom) regularly sees her mom, plus she's been seeing several of her friends. 

Plus, I have to take a COVID test on the 25th, two days before my hysteroscopy/d&c on the 27th, so I need to be extra-careful. By the time the 27th rolls around, I will have waited five weeks -- so I don’t want to jeopardize things, even for an adorable great-nephew.  I told dh that I will be REALLY pissed off if I take all these precautions, we miss out on fully celebrating his birthday with the rest of the family -- and then my procedure gets cancelled anyway because of rising COVID case #s. It’s a diagnostic/non-emergency thing... they were cancelled before, last spring, and it could easily happen again.   

But that's still 10 days away, and it's something I don't have any control over. Today, I just want to bask in the cuteness, and in the very real pleasures of being a great-auntie. :)  

Little Great-Nephew,
a few days before Halloween. :) 

Monday, November 16, 2020

"Do You Feel Like I Do?: A Memoir" by Peter Frampton

One of the biggest albums when I was growing up in the 1970s (and one of the biggest albums ever, period) was "Frampton Comes Alive," the 1976 double live concert LP by British-born guitarist Peter Frampton, formerly of the bands The Herd and Humble Pie. Believe it or not, I didn't own a copy -- but then I didn't really need to, because the songs were all over the radio, and all my friends had it. ;)  

Frampton was already well-established as one of the best guitarists in the business, and I enjoyed his music, but as a 15-year-old in 1976, I think the main attraction was that he was damned cute, lol. (And still is, at 70! -- even without that glorious mane of hair, lol.) (The teenybopper image and the emphasis on his looks drove him nuts -- sorry, Peter!)  I even endured sitting through the godawful 1978 movie version of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonelyhearts Club Band" just to see him as Billy Shears (with the Bee Gees also starring as the Hendersons).  The walls of my first-year university dorm room were plastered with posters, but the two dominant ones, side by side, were of Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem of The Muppet Show and Peter Frampton. ;)  (See below for proof!)  

So I was eager to scoop up a copy of Frampton's memoir,  "Do You Feel Like I Do?"  when it came out last month (COVID be damned -- this was worth risking a trip to the bookstore, lol).  

Frampton got the guitar bug as a child (his first guitar hero was Hank Marvin of the Shadows) and quickly became something of a prodigy, getting involved in bands when he was barely into his teens. He became friends with a guy at school who also played the guitar -- an art student of his father's, named Dave Jones, who later became better known as David Bowie. When Frampton's career slumped in the 1980s, Bowie hired him as a guitarist on his Glass Spider tour, and helped him redefine his career. Also as a teenager, Frampton was introduced to Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, who became a mentor and lifelong friend. 

I'll admit, I thought this book dragged in parts, particularly through Frampton's retelling of the early years of his career. I probably could have done without the exhaustive recounting of what seemed like every gig he ever played and every musician he ever played with. There's lots of name dropping -- often prefaced by "my dear friend..." -- Peter seems to have lots of "dear friends," lol.  There's the usual tales of sex, drugs & rock & roll, naivete, ripoffs, bad business decisions and just plain bad management.  

The story picked up with the success of "Frampton Comes Alive," and the pressures it placed on Peter to come up with something just as enormous. He has some great stories to tell:  the best is probably how he lost his favourite guitar in a plane crash in 1980 -- and then, incredibly, was reunited with it again, 30+ years later, just in time for his Frampton Comes Alive 35th anniversary tour. Frampton has dubbed it "Phenix," and the guitar becomes a metaphor for the rise, fall and rise again of his long, storied career. 

Sadly, in 2015, Frampton was diagnosed with inclusion body myositis (IBM), an inflammatory disease that weakens and atrophies the muscles in the arms, hands, and legs. Since then, he's been recording like crazy, stockpiling material in anticipation of the day when he can no longer play guitar.  (The UK/European leg of his farewell tour was cut short earlier this year by COVID-19.) He's also dedicated himself to raising funds and awareness for IBM and other autoimmune diseases. 

Peter Frampton seems like a genuinely nice, decent, good-humoured guy who, despite some slip-ups and moments of bad judgment, eventually carved out a long-lasting career for himself as one of music's all-time greats, and who is determined to make the most of the time & remaining good health that he has left on this planet.  I saw on Instagram recently that he finally met his granddaughter, born earlier this year, for the first time, because of COVID-19. He refers to himself as "Frampa,"  lol. 

If you're a Frampton fan, this is obviously a must-read. Even if you're not a huge fan, if you grew up in the 1970s as I did, you will probably enjoy the nostalgia trip. 

3.5 stars on Goodreads, rounded up to 4. 

(ALI alert: Frampton's youngest daughter, Mia, now an actress, was an IVF baby.)  

This was Book #39 read to date in 2020 (Book #2 finished in November), bringing me to 130% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books. I have completed & now exceeded my challenge goal for the year by 9 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 13 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books." 

First-year university dorm room, September 1979. 
On the wall:  Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem on the left, 
Peter Frampton in all his long-haired 1970s glory on the right. :)

#MicroblogMondays: Housekeeping/Subscribing

I recently had someone ask me how she could subscribe by email to my blog. This is embarrassing to admit, but I've had this blog for 13 years & while I have seen the "subscribe" button on a lot of other blogs, I had no idea how to add this feature to mine!  I poked around the settings & the "Help" listings for a while & I think I finally figured it out... there is now a "subscribe by email" button in the right-hand column. Anyone want to give it a try & tell me if/how it works?? 

I've always had a "followers" feature on my blog (currently 149 -- I've moved it further up on the page, with the subscribe by email button just below it) and I gather you can follow blogs through your Blogger account that way, although I've never done it myself. 

Personally, I've always followed blogs with a blog reader... first with the dearly departed Google Reader and, since its demise in 2013, with Bloglovin... which hasn't always been reliable, so I've opened a Feedly account (which I know is popular with many of you) and added some of my blogs there, just in case...!  (Most of the blogs that are in the blogrolls on the right-hand side of this page are also in my blog reader, and vice versa -- backup for each other.)  I do have a few blogs that come to me through my email, too. I have to admit, I think most of those subscriptions were unintentional -- pressing the wrong button, lol -- although I've still kept them, as a backup way to make sure I don't miss any of my favourite bloggers' posts!  (What can I say, I'm a writer, not a techie!)  

How do you follow the blogs that you read? 

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

Saturday, November 14, 2020

"Amberwell" by D.E. Stevenson (re-read)


My D.E. Stevenson online fan group just finished reading & discussing "Amberwell," which I first read earlier this fall and previously reviewed hereAs I mentioned a while back, I figure a re-read still counts as another book read. ;)  

After my first read of the book -- on my Kindle app on my phone, an edition from Endeavour Press -- I found out that some editions of this book -- including mine, unfortunately -- have been abridged. :(  So I was happy to discover a different edition among some ebooks (e-pub files) my sister had given me for my Kobo e-reader.  At first glance, it seemed to be unabridged -- but as I read through the book again, comparing the two versions side by side as I went along, I found some interesting differences.  This edition (pictured here -- which I believe was from HarperCollins, but I'm not entirely sure, as there was very little publisher information provided) did contain additional lines, paragraphs and full passages that weren't included in my Kindle version -- but there were a few places where the Kindle version contained material that wasn't in my e-pub version -- and in a couple of places, the two different editions were wildly different. It made for some interesting discussions in our group! 

My original Goodreads rating of 4 stars still stands. 

"Amberwell" has a sequel, "Summerhills," and I'm looking forward to reading more about the Ayrton family -- but before we tackle that, we're going to read "The Young Clementina" next, for a little variety. ;)  

This was Book #38 read to date in 2020 (Book #1 finished in November), bringing me to 127% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books. I have completed & now exceeded my challenge goal for the year by 8 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 12 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books." 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Odds & ends

  •  After two weeks of nothing... I'm spotting again. :(  I've been more active than my usual COVID couch potato mode -- washed the balcony door/windows, inside & out, on Monday; went to the bookstore, drugstore and children's wear store (shopping for Great-Nephew's birthday) on Tuesday; cleaned the oven this morning (while the weather is still nice enough to keep the balcony door open to let the fumes out) -- so that may have aggravated things. 16 days to my surgery/hysteroscopy/d&c!  
  • Speaking of my surgery (and it IS considered surgery, albeit minor), I got the call from the gynecologist's office this morning with the details on timing, etc. (I knew the date but not the time, where to report, etc.)  And, oh yeah, surprise! (I guess I shouldn't really be surprised!) -- in addition to the pre-op bloodwork, I need to have a COVID test done, 48 hours in advance. Yay? 
    • We were supposed to go to the dentist next week -- our first checkups/cleanings in nearly a year, postponed because of COVID-19 -- but dh persuaded me to postpone the appointments (again) until the new year. The COVID risk is (supposedly) minimal, since they have precautions in place, but I had to agree, I don't want to chance it. I want to get this procedure over with first.  
    • I reeeaaaalllly, reeeaaaalllly hate to say this (and I have yet to broach the subject with dh), but I think we may have to skip Great-Nephew's first birthday celebration, for the same reason. :(  There's no big party planned, of course -- it would just be cake & coffee at BIL's house -- but the weather will NOT be conducive to an outdoor celebration by then! -- and BIL's house is not that large. Even if it's just the parents & grandparents plus us, that's 6 adults -- 8, if Younger Nephew & his wife are there (they're even more COVID-paranoid than we are!), 9 if Other Grandma comes, 10 if SIL's brother comes... you get the picture.  We will definitely go over with his presents that day, and maybe have a porch visit.  I guess we'll see what happens before making a final decision, but I'm not optimistic... :( 
  • Manitoba, my home province, went into code red this week. So much for any hope of going home for Christmas (not that I had any by now). Among other restrictions, people are banned from socializing with others outside their household. I haven't talked to my sister yet, but I'm sure this means she won't be going to see my parents. :( 
    • Andre Picard of the Globe & Mail, a well-respected health writer, had two blunt columns over the past week, one focused on the situation in Manitoba, and one on Alberta & Ontario, where restrictions were actually set to be loosened (again)(!). That's been cancelled, thankfully-- but frankly, the government has tightened and loosened restrictions so many times in so many different places, I have no idea what's open & what's closed where anymore. Is this any way to battle a pandemic? 
    • Fun fact: the current premier of Manitoba is from the town where I lived as a teenager & graduated from high school. He's a few years older than me, so I never knew him personally, but I knew his sister, who was in Grade 12 when I was in Grade 10. 
    • A record number of new cases here in Ontario today: 1,426.  :( 
  • Today is Remembrance Day. I usually watch the ceremonies from the National War Memorial in Ottawa -- scaled down this year, because of COVID -- but the morning got away on me. I feel guilty. :(  I also feel guilty that this was the first year in a long, long time that I haven't bought a poppy to wear. But we haven't been anywhere that poppies were being sold, and for that matter, I really haven't been much of anywhere that my poppy could be seen either. :( 
  • Stepped on the scale this morning. Not good. :(  Up again -- not by much, and not a whole lot since the beginning of the year -- but I wasn't starting from a great place either. I'm at my heaviest weight ever. :(  Too much inactivity. :(   Sigh. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The family jewels

I was talking on the phone to my mother this past weekend. She had been talking with one of her cousins -- her youngest cousin on her mother's side of the family (who is now in her mid-60s). Youngest Cousin had mentioned that she has an apron that belonged to their grandmother (my great-grandmother), and that got them wondering about different things that had always been at my grandmother's house (which had also been my great-grandmother's house, originally). 

(I titled this post "The family jewels," but we're not talking anything truly valuable here in terms of money -- although some of the antique-y stuff might be worth a little something. Most of the actual value would be sentimental.) 

My mom & sister took some things home, when they cleaned out my grandparents' old house, and then their apartment, after they both died. My uncle & his family took other things. I have a few precious keepsakes here myself. But there are other things that seem to have vanished. What happened to them? Who has them now?  

And then my mother posed the question:  what's going to happen to these things, once my mother and her generation of cousins are gone? Who will it all go to, eventually?  And will those who inherit them realize their significance, know the stories behind them?  

My mom & her brother have 10 cousins on that side of the family. Of those 12 cousins total (including my mom & my uncle), 8 had children -- 18 in all (including me & my sister), most of whom are now in their 40s & 50s.  Of those 18, just 7 have had kids. (Youngest Cousin's two kids are the youngest of the 18 -- 27 & 30.  There's still time for them to have families, although my impression is that the daughter is not interested.)  And, as my mother remarked, not all of the 7 who have kids have shown much interest in the family history or in getting to know their extended family. The "stuff" probably wouldn't mean as much to them. 

It's a variation on the old "who's going to want my stuff when I'm gone?" question that plagues the childless (and that I've written about here several times before)... and I hung up feeling slightly irked that my mother had (unintentionally -- or not?) reminded me of my failure to provide her with grandchildren.  

But our conversation brought home to me a couple of important points. 

First, everyone -- whether you have kids, and maybe ESPECIALLY if you don't! -- needs to have a will and powers of attorney. I'm not sure whether I've mentioned this here before, but dh & I (finally!) had our wills drawn up about 10 years ago. A will doesn't have to be a complicated thing. The lawyer told us he didn't need a detailed accounting of our assets, or any accounting at all, for that matter. He just needed to know who we wanted to leave our estate to, in what proportions, and who we wanted as executors. For us, that was a pretty simple matter. 

I did ask him about "stuff." Most of our estate will go to our nephews, but there are certain little things -- like the things I have from my grandmother's house -- that wouldn't mean anything to them, but might mean something to one of my cousins' kids.  I was told I could draw up a list of who should get what, and that could be attached to the will.  (I still need to do that!)  I have already started giving some "heirloom" items to some of my cousins' kids. In one case, I was disappointed with the lack of acknowledgement/appreciation;  a second gift to a different cousin's daughter was better received (and she did message with me thanks after her mom messaged me first, as I noted in the linked post). (I guess I know who to leave some of my other things to now, right?)  

Second, if we want people to appreciate the things we want to leave to them, we need to make sure they understand their significance. Not everything is going to be meaningful or valuable to them -- we have to realize that -- but they'll be more likely to find our things interesting and worthy if we take the time to tell them the stories behind them -- to talk about about the people who originally owned them -- and explain why we think THEY should have them. To help them make that connection. 

And finally, I think all of us, childless or not, have to realize that not everyone is going to be as interested in these things as we are. It helps when you have a connection to the things and to the people who originally owned them. But once we're gone, it's out of our control.  I'll never know for sure whether the crystal candy dish that my mom's cousin sent me from Ireland as a wedding present finds its place on a family member's Christmas dinner table or gets sent to the thrift store. 

Plus, it's seriously impossible to keep everything -- and not everything is worth keeping. (I realized this when I had to downsize my possessions before moving into a condo that was a whole lot smaller than the smallish house we'd lived in for 26 years.)  A few well-chosen keepsakes with stories and meaning behind them will mean a whole lot more than a lot of random junk. 

I'm still thinking through these issues, but I'd love to know what you think! 

Monday, November 9, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Relief!

  • I was just getting out of the shower late Saturday morning when dh yelled to me from the living room that CNN had just called the U.S. election. (OF COURSE they would, the moment I leave the TV set, after HOURS & DAYS of being glued to it...!!) You've never seen me dry off & jump into my clothes so fast, lol.  I got to the TV set just in time to see Van Jones breaking down in tears, which got ME crying too. 
  • More kleenex was required shortly after that when CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip reminded viewers that the U.S. will -- FINALLY! -- have a vice-president who is not only a woman but a woman of colour. 
    • I kept thinking that I wished Geraldine Ferraro had lived to see this moment. 36 YEARS LATER!!  
    • Of course Kamala Harris is also a hero to childless/free women because she's never had children -- although she became a stepmom to her husband's two teenaged kids when they got married six years ago -- thus allowing her to talk about being "Momala" and placate those who find a completely childless/free woman unacceptable to vote for...! (eye roll) 
    • Canadians also love to claim her as one of our own (sort of), because she spent her teen years in Montreal, where she graduated from high school, and where her mom was a well-respected breast cancer researcher. 
  • It was a very loooonnnnngggggg (& sleepless!) week! -- yes, even on the other side of the border...!  The sense of relief is palpable... 
  • Amid all the joyful posts from my very relieved friends on social media (from all around the world), one of my MAGA relatives in the U.S. posted snarkily on Facebook, "Just so y'all know, the media doesn't declare the president." I promptly snoozed her for 30 days. (I'd already unfollowed her Instagram stories because she'd been posting a lot of political crap there, including some borderline QAnon stuff.)  I'm sure the next few months will bring challenges -- I don't expect the Orange One to slink out of the White House quietly -- but this was a day to celebrate! -- no negativity needed. ;)  
  • The weather was mostly sunny and the temperature soared to 21C (70F) -- pretty rare for November!  We had the balcony door open for most of the day, with the fresh air & sunshine streaming in. 
  • There was a lovely sunset. I took photos from my balcony.  
  • And, as the sun was setting at the end of a near-perfect day, someone started setting off fireworks nearby -- I could see them above the treetops beyond the townhouses behind our building. We often do get random fireworks displays for no evident reason (= not on the holidays when you'd expect to see them) -- but I like to think these were a celebration of the choice made by our neighbours to the south. ;) 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here 

Monday, November 2, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Scary stuff...

  • It's November!  My second-least favourite month (next to February). 
  • En route to take some Halloween goodies to Little Great-Nephew on Saturday afternoon (a couple of Sandra Boynton board books, a soft stuffed animal -- and a box of teething cookies, lol), we passed by a driveway party/gathering. There were at least 20 people -- mostly teenagers, but some adults -- standing in pairs and groups on both sides of the street & clustered around cars. It WAS outside, BUT!  No masks. No social distancing. Two girls were actually hugging. Meanwhile, case numbers locally, provincially and nationally are soaring:  the day before (Friday), there were 102 new cases reported in our area alone. Grrrr.....
  • BIL & SIL had been to a funeral on Friday (for SIL's elderly aunt). They wore masks -- but we still stayed well away from them and only stayed a few minutes. 
  • There are lots of reasons why I don't want to get COVID-19 (obviously)... one of them recently added to the list, of course, is my upcoming hysteroscopy/d&c on Nov. 27th. I already have to wait several weeks, and I just want to get it over with. I'm also praying that rising case numbers in our area don't force cancellations of "non-essential" procedures (like mine)... 
  • Our dentist's office called last week: the cleaning & checkup we had scheduled in early July was cancelled -- but they've been open again for a while and I guess they're following up on patients who haven't called yet to rebook. So we're now scheduled for Nov. 19th. She reassured me about the renovations they've done in the office and the other measures they have implemented to ensure patient safety. Guess we'll see what happens...!  (My teeth do need a cleaning...!) 
  • I watched a documentary on Saturday night on CBC's docu-series "The Passionate Eye" called "The Twinning Reaction," -- about identical twins who were deliberately separated as infants by the same adoption agency -- and then secretly studied by psychologists for years afterwards. It's the same premise, adoption agency & study featured in the documentary "Three Identical Strangers" and in the book "Identical Strangers."  Two of the triplets from "Three Identical Strangers" are among the interviewees, but the focus is on another set of reunited twin brothers who gain access to their study files (even though the files were sealed until 2066). Fascinating (and horrifying).  
  • Saturday night, we turned the clocks back an hour as daylight savings time ended.  If there was ever an argument for picking one time & sticking to it, year-round, I think it was made this year. Who really wants or needs another hour of 2020, right?? 
  • Last night (Sunday) -- just to rub in the fact that it's November, right? -- we had our first SNOW of the season. 
    • (Consolation: living in a condo, with underground parking, we don't have to shovel it or clear it off the car...!) 
  • And of course the next scariest thing on the calendar (now that Halloween is over):  the U.S. election tomorrow.  Being Canadian, I can't vote (even though, as your closest neighbour, we have a vested interest in the outcome...), but those of you in the States can! -- so please make sure you do!  We'll be watching the results along with you, and hoping/praying for a good (and definitive) outcome.  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

What we woke up to this morning... 
Not really that bad, as far as snowfall goes...
but, it's enough!! (and there will be much more to come...!)
(View of the townhouse development behind our building) 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Right now

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

October was Full Month #7 (going on 8) of life in the age of COVID-19  (with each day getting darker and colder than the last...). On top of dh's usual weekly forays to the supermarket for groceries and for takeout dinners on Saturday nights, we ventured once to the supermarket together (to buy stuff for our Thanksgiving feast), once to the hair salon for trims, and three times to the bookstore. On the medical front, I ventured out for a pelvic ultrasound (which confirmed the presence of fibroids), a subsequent visit to the gynecologist (which resulted in an appointment for my upcoming hysteroscopy/d&c on Nov. 27th), and to our family doctor's office for flu shots. And we saw Little Great Nephew twice (both within the past week) -- once earlier in the week to visit, with just his mom & his grandpa (BIL) at home, and on Halloween (yesterday) to deliver a goodie bag to him. ;)  Otherwise, we've continued to stay close to home.

*** *** ***

Reading: I read 2 books in October (reviewed on this blog & tagged “2020 books”):
So far this year, I've read 37 books, bringing me to 123% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books. I have completed & now exceeded my challenge goal for the year by 7 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 13 (!) books ahead of schedule. :)  

Current read(s):   
  • "Do You Feel Like I Do?"  by Peter Frampton (just started!)
  • "Hoax" by Brian Stelter (haven't touched this one all month, as I plowed through "Rage"...!) 
  • "Amberwell" by D.E. Stevenson (read on my own this summer, now reading along & discussing with my DES online group -- almost finished!)
  • "The Blue Castle" by L.M. Montgomery (read & reviewed on my own in August, now reading along & discussing with my L.M. Montgomery Readathon group on Facebook over the next few weeks/months) 
Book club reads starting in November (still to be read): 
A few recently purchased titles (in both digital and paper formats):   
Watching:  Besides "Jann" (which I mentioned last month -- and which was recently sold to Hulu in the U.S.) and "Downton Abbey" (mentioned here), "Battle of the Blades" recently returned for season 6!!  The launch was delayed by a couple of weeks because someone on the production staff tested positive for COVID. :(  There is no live audience or guest judges this year. But the contestants are more diverse than ever -- a great mix of both male and female hockey players and figure skaters, paired up to raise money for their favourite charities. (Is that Canadian, or what?)  (It's still early in the competition, and I don't have a favourite team... yet!) 

On a related note:  the Grand Prix figure skating circuit kicked off a few weekends ago with Skate America in Las Vegas. Because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions, almost all the competitors were American -- so it was essentially like watching a less polished version of the U.S. national championships -- without a live  audience, to boot (cardboard cutouts & canned applause) -- but hey, it was skating. I watched!  Skate Canada, scheduled for the Halloween long weekend, was cancelled, and so was the Internationaux de France in Grenoble in November. The final, which was to be in Beijing in December, has been "postponed." Guess we'll see what happens...! 

Listening: The classic rock station we listen to has been playing a lot of Van Halen ever since the untimely death of Eddie Van Halen earlier in October. :(  

Following:  @gocleanco, which I follow on Instagram, has a new Facebook group. It already has more than 68,000 followers (the Instagram account -- which I started following this past spring, around the 30,000 mark -- now has 1.3 MILLION!!).  Unfortunately, they almost immediately had to turn off posting for a while, because the onslaught of posts (and repeat questions) was impossible to keep up with! 

Eating/Drinking:  Our (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner this month wasn't quite Mom's fabulous turkey, stuffing and gravy, but we still managed to produce a dinner that was somewhat special for the two of us :) and it will also provide us with a practice run/template to follow for Christmas.  

Takeout dinners this month have included pasta with rapini (which dh loves), wood oven pizzas (twice), chicken fingers & fries, and chicken madeira rigatoni. Yum! 

Buying (besides books, lol):  Not much!  

Wearing: Long yoga pants, long-sleeved T-shirts (and sometimes a cardigan too), socks and sometimes slippers, around the house... it's turned quite chilly the last little while! 

Trying:  Not to dwell too much on my gynecological/health issues (and not entirely succeeding), as I wait for my hysteroscopy and d&c on Nov. 27th... or on the fact that I won't be going home for Christmas this year, for the first time in my life... :(  

Thinking about: My high school girlfriend, who lost her 29-year-old daughter after a tragic car accident, one year ago today. :(  

Wanting:  A little more sunshine would be nice, especially since we just moved the clocks back an hour last night, plunging us into darkness an hour earlier (probably by around 5:30 p.m. tonight). :(   We've had a lot of very dark, dreary, grey days lately...! 

Loving: The beautiful fall colours (now past their peak). 

Feeling: Apprehensive -- about the skyrocketing COVID-19 case numbers (locally, provincially, nationally & globally), about the U.S. election this week, and about the onset of winter generally. :(