Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Monday, April 19, 2021
- It hasn't been a good week here. :(
- The weather this weekend was dark, rainy and gloomy, and the furnace kicked back in after taking a vacation for several weeks. (It could be worse: my parents had SNOW where they live -- albeit the farmers in the area are thankful for the moisture.)
- COVID-19 case numbers soared to record highs, almost exactly two weeks after the Easter long weekend (4,800+ new cases in one day in my province -- current 7-day average about 4,400 cases). ICUs are jammed and reaching the point where some pretty awful triage decisions are going to have to be made. We had some truly frightening projections released late last week, predicting anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 (!!) new cases daily, depending on what action is (or is not) taken.
- This was followed by (more) new restrictions from our provincial government -- most of which were clearly (still!) not enough to ward off disaster (e.g., most construction sites and factories remain open, whether truly essential or not, and the government adamantly refuses to implement paid sick days, which healthcare officials have continually requested) and some of which were almost immediately rescinded (playground closures, anyone?!) or tweaked yet again (new police powers to stop and question anyone out after certain hours about where they live and why they're out -- most police forces immediately said they would not be doing this, and the government "clarified" that police must have a valid reason for stopping anyone).
- The Washington Post actually published an op-ed on the weekend (from a Canadian writer) calling for the premier's resignation (!).
- He has been calling the other provincial premiers, asking if they can spare any medical staff and/or vaccine doses. In most cases, they have their own problems and capacity issues to deal with. The cavalry will not be riding in to save us.
- At the same time, we learned that Moderna will only be shipping half the expected doses of vaccine Canada was promised to receive soon -- although, happily, the federal government was almost immediately able to purchase more vaccine from Pfizer to make up for that, and then some. (Meanwhile, appointments for AstraZeneca -- the vaccine dh & I got two weeks ago -- are going unfulfilled.)
- On the bright side, Manitoba lowered the eligible age for vaccines there, and my sister was able to make an appointment. My whole family will have received their first shots by the beginning of May. Progress!! :)
- I set my alarm clock on Saturday morning for 7, so that I'd be showered and had my breakfast before TV coverage of Prince Philip's funeral began at 9. (MUCH more civilized than the 4 a.m. wakeup calls I'm used to for royal weddings! lol).
- I was chatting on Facebook with several friends about the funeral as it was going on, and my New Zealand pen pal of (gulp) 40+ years told me it was 2 a.m. Sunday morning there... so I guess I really shouldn't complain!
- I thought it was a lovely funeral -- the venue and the music were glorious -- and it was actually much more intimate with just the family there (and however many millions of us watching on TV/internet, lol). But I did feel sad seeing the Queen sitting all by herself. :(
- Dh has been working on our taxes these last few days (deadline: April 30th). I'm actually getting a refund this year!
- If you are following this blog by email, please take note: I got a notification from Blogger that my "FollowByEmail" widget (Feedburner) is going away. It will be discontinued in July 2021. "After July 2021, your feed will still continue to work, but the automated emails to your subscribers will no longer be supported. If you’d like to continue sending emails, you can download your subscriber contacts." I checked out the link that supposedly explains how to do this, but I must admit it's all Greek to me... There may be a way to continue to host email subscribers, but I have no idea how to do that... my apologies!
- Personally, I have always followed blogs on a blog/RSS reader. Since Google Reader was discontinued some years ago, I've been using Bloglovin, although I know a few people who use Feedly and like that.
- In 1978, Gloria Steinem wrote a now-classic article titled "If Men Could Menstruate." I recently ran across a piece in Ms Magazine (which, of course, Steinem helped found) speculating "If Men Had Miscarriages." Not quite as satirical/funny as Steinem's original piece, but still worth a read.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Blindingly relying on the comforting notion that every traumatic storm is followed by beautiful, awe-inspiring happiness is common within the pregnancy- and infant-loss community. But we all know this isn't always the case. Some people don't go on to get pregnant again. Some get pregnant and have yet another loss. Some stop trying to conceive altogether. So while this hopeful message is encouraging for some, it might feel alienating to others, and in ways that are not always obvious... Alternative outcomes -- outcomes that do not consist of full-term pregnancies and babies wrapped in rainbow-colored blankets -- deserve to be acknowledged too... Sometimes a rainbow follows, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a rainbow is a child, and sometimes it's the renewal of vows, a career milestone, a new sense of self, the ability to self-love.
Monday, April 12, 2021
- Strike up the Hallelujah Chorus!!! My parents (aged 80 & almost 82) are finally going to be vaccinated!! Not because they weren't eligible before this, but because they were dragging their feet. (eye roll) My sister finally managed to persuade them to get it done when she was there this weekend (and I think the rising numbers of cases and variants there finally convinced them), and booked their appointments for them. They'll be going in a week & a half, to one of the provincial vaccination centres in another slightly larger town, 20 miles down the road. My sister is prepared to take Friday off work and come out from the city on Thursday night to help out, if they're feeling rough from side effects. I am very relieved!! (as is my sister, who is torn between wanting to come visit and help out, and fearing bringing the virus to them...)
- After I posted my post-vaccination updates (24 and 48 hours out), I noticed a sore, hot, red patch on my upper left arm, below the vaccination site, when I was in the shower on Wednesday morning. The exact same thing has happened to me before, after regular flu shots (and noticeably after the H1N1 flu shot in 2009) , so I've tried not to be (too) worried. (It WAS the AstraZeneca shot, lol..!)
- A week after I first received the shot, and several days after I first noticed the red patch, it's still there, and my arm is still a bit sore -- although the redness has faded considerably and is almost gone now. I've also been a little more tired than usual all this week.
- Apparently SIL also experienced some side effects after her shot.
- (BIL goes back & forth between thinking he's now invincible after just one shot, and that he must have received a placebo, since he didn't feel anything at all...!)
- Everywhere in my social media feeds I (still... STILL!!) see groups of people getting together... in Canada, in the U.S. Not six feet apart, not wearing masks. Yes, some of them may have been fully vaccinated -- but I suspect (I know) most of them have not. (And unless you're getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, one shot does NOT mean you are immune!)
- Meanwhile the variants are running rampant, case numbers are skyrocketing and ICUs are nearing capacity. My province hit a record number of daily new cases on Sunday: 4,456. And we won't see the numbers from people infected at family get-togethers, etc., over the Easter weekend -- even thought both politicians and medical staff alike begged people to stay at home -- for another week yet...
- IT'S NOT OVER YET, PEOPLE. PLEASE... JUST STAY THE F*** AT HOME.
- (Thank you for coming to my TEDTalk...)
- Dh woke up before me on Friday morning, and came back into the bedroom after turning on the TV to tell me that Prince Philip had died. I guess it was not unexpected -- he was almost 100 years old (!) and his health has not been good lately. But it's still very sad... as someone said on TV, perhaps not the end of an era, but the beginning of the end of one.
- I've written several times previously (including here) about the one time I got to see Prince Philip -- and the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Anne -- in July 1970 (when I was 9 years old), but Mel's post about Philip's death reminded me of a time several years later (late 70s/early 80s), when Philip was coming to Winnipeg to speak at a fundraiser for a local hospital. The morning DJ on the radio station I listened to decided he was going to call Buckingham Palace and ask Prince Philip to bring along one of those tall fur hats the guards wear. It was kind of a joke/prank call, but believe it or not, he actually got put through and talked to Philip, and Philip said he would see what he could do. The hat was sent in advance of Philip's visit, and they auctioned it off with proceeds going to the hospital. The DJ was absolutely stunned when he actually got through -- but he was very polite and he did remember to address the Prince as “Your Royal Highness,” lol.
- In Philip's honour (lol), I've done a search of my old posts and added a new "Royals" label to ones mentioning the Royal Family.
- Sunday/yesterday was dh's (64th) birthday, his second of the pandemic. Last year, we were under lockdown and I had to scrounge up a card for him from my stash. This year, we're under lockdown/stay-at-home order (AGAIN), but I managed to pick up a proper birthday card for him before it kicked in. And he had a birthday cake: at his request, we baked one on Saturday -- chocolate from a cake mix with canned frosting, but that's what he wanted!
- (He even let me take and post a photo on social media -- although he refused to let me put a candle on the cake or sing him "Happy Birthday," lol -- although an online friend/fellow Beatles fan suggested "When I'm 64" might be more appropriate...!)
- Hopefully next year, he can have a proper party for his 65th (if he wants one -- which he probably won't, but at least a family gathering with his brother & SIL, the nephews and Little Great-Nephew).
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Saturday, April 10, 2021
I don't read a lot of poetry, but I'm not unfamiliar with it either. I grew up at a time when we were regularly required to memorize and recite poetry in school ("In Flanders Fields" is the only one I can still recite in full) and I did study a fair bit of poetry at university too -- Shakespeare, the Romantics, the Victorians. And I read lots of Rod McKuen as a young teenager in the 1970s, lol.
This was a slim little volume -- or at least I'm assuming it's slim, since I read it on my Kobo e-reader. It took me less than an hour total to finish, and I almost feel guilty counting it as a complete book. (Almost! lol) Drawing on her own life experiences (or so I assume), Lovelace explores themes of love, loss, grief and empowerment. I enjoyed the messaging/imagery and could very much relate to a lot of it -- although I will admit to agreeing a little with a one-star reviewer on Goodreads who snarked:
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.
This was Book #19 read to date in 2021 (and Book #3 finished in April), bringing me to 53% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 10 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books."
Thursday, April 8, 2021
- "Whenever I look at a CV with gaps, I remind myself that sometimes real life calls, and that that's okay."
- "...this really resonated with me - so many years of attempts, losses.. it’s hard to even quantify the physical and emotional toll it takes - and nearly impossible to account for the impact it has had on my career."
- "Yes please. That was 2 years of my life with invisible reduced opportunity. So much morning sickness, no baby."
- "Think of it like this: the institutions and managers that judge you negatively for including this wouldn’t treat you well as a working parent. It’s like a built in bullshit filter."
- "Maybe employers shouldn't draw any inferences from career gaps, rather than pressure people into disclosing details of their health? Committees judging whether gaps are adequately explained by physical or mental health disclosures is cringe. Normalize having gaps as being OK."
- "My first instinct is ‘why should we have to explain ourselves’. But second thoughts are it shows the qualities we possess & experience gained that we bring forward in all aspects of our lives including work. I think I will use this going forward too."
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
- 48+ hours post-vaccine, my left arm/shoulder is still just a wee bit sore, but otherwise, I am feeling pretty much back to my old self, thank goodness. BIL & SIL report they're feeling no side effects from their shots yesterday too.
- Currently, second shots are not being administered until 16 weeks after the first (!) -- which would take us to mid-July. It won't come soon enough...!
- Little Great-Nephew was as good as gold for the hour we stayed with him yesterday afternoon, while his parents went to the lawyer's office about their new house and the grandparents went for their own first vaccine appointments. (The dog was more trouble than he was, lol.) There was one moment where he went over to the door & looked around with this confused expression on his face (like, "where is everyone?") and I thought, "Uh-oh, here come the tears!" but he was fine. Watched his favourite kiddie program on Netflix, played on a toy xylophone, opened and shut cupboard doors & pulled things out from them, flipped through a board book, rearranged magnetic letters on the refrigerator (and dropped some into the dog's water dish, lol). I don't know what HE thought, but we had a blast. :)
- I said to dh, "Someday when he's older, we'll have to tell him that he was the very best thing about a very crappy year." :)
- It's been less than a week since our provincial government implemented a "shutdown" (as opposed to a "lockdown") -- which basically meant tinkering around the edges a little with the (already too few) restrictions currently in place (many of which had just been lifted or lightened). As I mentioned in this post:
Honestly, it's not so much the lockdowns themselves I find hard (because we've been pretty much staying home in isolation for most of the past 12 months anyway); it's the half-assed way they are implemented, and then lifted -- too early -- and the constant back and forthing and tinkering around the edges as to what can open and to what extent and what stays closed... I mean, I know we're dealing with a lot of unknowns and constantly moving variables here, but COME ON...
So with new daily case rates rising/at near-record levels (again), ICUs near capacity, and doctors literally begging for more stringent measures to be implemented, the premier (FINALLY) announced yet another stay-at-home order for (at least) the next four weeks, starting tomorrow -- the third in a little over a year. Let's hope they keep this one in place until it's clear it's worked -- and in the meantime, vaccinate people like crazy. (Although that hasn't been going that well either...!)
(I will admit I haven't been following the school-related drama that closely, since I don't have a dog in that hunt, so to speak... but several regions have closed their schools within the last few days. Teachers hereabouts (and other "essential workers") have NOT been vaccinated yet -- not scheduled to be until JUNE -- which seems pretty ridiculous to me -- and many people are urging the province to step up and vaccinate them during this time when they'll be out of the classroom.)
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
- We got our shots as soon as the pharmacy opened yesterday morning (9-9:30). By mid-afternoon, I was starting to feel kind of tired and a bit achy -- more so than I usually do with the regular flu shot. We were watching Ken Burns' (excellent) documentary on Hemingway on PBS last night (part 2 of 3 tonight), and I could barely keep my eyes open. Ached horribly all over, especially through my shoulders & torso. Dh got me a heating pad and I took some ibuprofen before I headed off to bed. That seemed to help. Slept OK -- not great, but not too bad.
- I'm still a bit achy today, but still very tired. Dh felt fine most of the day and then just before bedtime last night, he started feeling crappy. Wouldn't take anything for it, though. I think he's feeling better today. We NEED to feel better, since we're looking after Little Great-Nephew for an hour or so while BIL & SIL get THEIR shots and his mom & dad go to the lawyer's about the new house. ;) (I don't think he's ever been left with anyone other than his grandparents, so this should be interesting...!)
- I hear the side effects from the second dose are usually worse than the first, so I'm not looking forward to that -- but I'm sure it still beats getting covid...!
- My mother was NOT happy that we took the AstraZeneca. She is not an anti-vaxxer, per se (I can't imagine what she would have said if I refused to get a vaccine when I was growing up...!!) -- but the older she gets, the more persnickety she gets about her health quirks and what she is and isn't willing to do. She hasn't had a flu vaccine in years, there are certain medications she refuses to take because she says they upset her stomach, etc. Neither she nor my dad (ages 80 & 81) have had their covid shots yet -- even though they've been eligible for a few weeks now, and both have some underlying health issues that make them vulnerable to covid. Mom insists she wants the Johnson & Johnson "one and done" vaccine -- even though it is not available in Canada right now, and probably won't be until at least the end of April, at the very earliest. She wants it done at her doctor's office and she wants it in her hip, not her arm. My sister (who lives closer) has tried to reason with them but no luck.
- I have told them that I can't come home until we're all fully vaccinated. I was hoping that might be Canadian Thanksgiving (in October)(if not this summer), but now I'm starting to think it won't happen until Christmas at the earliest, especially if they're going to drag their feet on getting their shots.
- I have not seen them in more than a year (Christmastime 2019). And I am more than a little pissed off that that doesn't seem to be a motivator for them.
- I keep wondering whether they'd be more eager and willing to get vaccinated ASAP if there were grandchildren in the picture that they wanted to see, since apparently I alone am not enough of a reason...!! :(
- And then, this afternoon, the announcement that "All Ontario health units not yet doing so will begin booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments for those ages 60+ Wednesday morning." In other words, if we'd waited a few more days, we could have booked into one of the big vaccination centres & received the Pfizer or Moderna shot(s) instead of the AstraZeneca.
- Dh told me to quit second-guessing myself. He's right. Just because they're opening up appointments on Wednesday doesn't mean we'd GET an appointment right away...! (I found out about the AZ program opening up in our area last Thursday night & put our names on several waiting lists then -- was contacted to book an appointment on Saturday evening, managed to book us both on Sunday morning and we had our shots on Monday morning. That was a lot faster than I thought it would be, to be honest -- but there's no guarantee we could book an appointment that quickly with the big regional vaccine centres.) So we have almost a week's head start on building immunity over the people who will only start booking through the regional centres tomorrow. And it's probably best that we got what we could, when we could. The variants are running amok hereabouts, and new cases have been averaging 3,000+ daily for the past several days. Sigh...
- I reeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyyy hate this pandemic. :(
Monday, April 5, 2021
"The Bright Side" describes how Bradbury survived her own personal annus horribilis (2015, pre-COVID) in which absolutely everything that could go wrong in her life, did. I haven't experienced most of the things that Bradbury did -- thankfully (yet??) -- but I can relate to the overall theme of midlife turbulence. (Plus, she also -- cough! -- turns 60 in the book!)
Despite the difficult situations described in its pages (and yes, I did shed some tears), there's good stuff that counterbalances the bad too. The overall tone of the book is upbeat, hopeful -- and frequently hilarious. And the writing is fabulous! I devoured more than half the book in one sitting, and finished it in a little over 48 hours.
As one Goodreads reviewer says, "She wasn't writing about Covid, but the timing's perfect." This theme was echoed in a cover endorsement from Plum Johnson -- author of my favourite books of 2015, "They Left Us Everything" (reviewed here) -- who called it "the perfect antidote to a tough year."
I loved it. 5 stars on Goodreads
This was Book #18 read to date in 2021 (and Book #2 finished in April), bringing me to 50% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 9 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books."
Friday, April 2, 2021
"Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No" is a thoughtful examination of what it's like to live a life without children -- the actual lived experiences of childless and childfree women. Kaufmann shares her own story and interviewed hundreds of other childless women, representing a broad range of ages, backgrounds and reasons why they did not become mothers. She also provides an impressive amount of research and statistics on various aspects of childless living.
Despite the growing numbers of childless women around the world, "There are no common blueprints for how we structure our lives, where we live, who we befriend," Kaufmann observes, early in the book. "Without child-rearing responsibilities, we lack well-defined paths and readily apparent role models. Without responsibility for young lives or a genetic trajectory into future generations, our lifetimes have genetic finish lines. Our limb on the family tree does not branch or bear fruit. So we fashion and form our lives differently than mothers do."
Kaufmann and her interview subjects discuss what led them to a life without children, their career paths and working lives, how they engage with other people's children, how they build and maintain friendships with mothers and other non-mothers, how they define family and their relationships with their families of origin, non-traditional living arrangements (including co-housing), the particular health concerns facing women without children, issues of religion and spirituality, aging, end of life and estate planning, philanthropy and legacy, and some great tips for how to talk with others about non-mom life.
This would be a great book to hand to anyone new to (or contemplating) a life without children, and also to parents who want (or need!) to understand us better.
A solid 4 stars on Goodreads.
This was Book #17 read to date in 2021 (and Book #1 finished in April), bringing me to 47% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books."
Thursday, April 1, 2021
*(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.)
- to the bookstore twice -- once near the beginning of the month and once yesterday -- the first times we'd been there since Dec. 8th (!).
- to the supermarket once.
- to the drugstore once, for prescriptions, sundries and Easter chocolate for Little Great-Nephew.
- to the children's wear store once for a few things for Little Great-Nephew's Easter basket/gift bag. (I totally missed out on getting him some goodies for Valentine's Day because we were in lockdown, so I'm making it up to him, lol -- like he'll remember, right?)
- to the telecomm service provider store to check out a problem with dh's phone (we were in & out within 10 minutes).
- to see Little Great-Nephew (oh yeah, BIL & SIL too! lol), four times, after the lockdown lifted (the first time(s) we'd seen him since New Year's Eve).
- BIL also drove by our building with Little Great-Nephew (sound asleep!) in his car seat one recent Saturday, and called us from his cellphone to come down and say hi -- a pleasant surprise!
- to get haircuts mid-month, after 14 (!) weeks/3+ months without, albeit not with our usual hairstylist. (That's still several weeks short of the 17 weeks between haircuts last spring/summer).
- to the optometrist in midtown Toronto for a checkup.
- and we made a quick trip to a nearby town to deliver some paperwork for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment to a friend's 90-year-old aunt.
- and on our way home, we went through the car wash (we didn't get out of the car -- but it was still an outing! lol).
- 19x to BIL's (where we usually -- but not always -- got to see Little Great-Nephew). This is actually more often than I thought?! -- but I have no doubt there would have been many more visits without the pandemic to contend with...! There were more, longer & unmasked visits last summer, often at least partly spent outdoors -- but our visits have generally been less frequent, briefer and masked since the cold weather returned.
- 16x to bookstore (lol)
- 6x to pharmacy
- 5x to supermarket
- 5x for haircuts.
- 3x to dentist
- 3x to the bank/ABM
- 3x for gelato (last summer -- eaten outside the shop).
- 2x to Canadian Tire automotive/hardware/sporting goods/housewares store)
- 2x to hospital (once for pre-op COVID-19 test & bloodwork and once for hysteroscopy/d&c)
- 1x to Staples (office supplies)
- 1x to BestBuy (curbside pickup of new laptop)
- 1x to Carters/Oshkosh (children's clothing store)
- 1x to the optometrist
- 1x to family dr's office (flu shots)
- 1x to ultrasound clinic (re: post-menopausal spotting)
- 1x to gynecologist (re: fibroids)
- "Katherine's Marriage" by D.E. Stevenson (my DES group's current selection under discussion -- a sequel to "Katherine Wentworth," reviewed here and here)
- "Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You" by Annie Lyons (the Gateway Women book club pick for March)(also known as "The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett" in some markets).
- "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett (the March pick for my "Clever Name" book club; to be discussed via Zoom in early April).
- "The Thursday Murder Club" by Richard Osman.
- "Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No" by Kate Kaufmann (one that's been in the TBR pile for a while now...)
- "Wintering" by Katherine May
- "Surviving the White Gaze" by Rebecca Carroll
- "The Survivors" by Adam Frankel
- "I Had a Miscarriage" by Jessica Zucker
- "Olive" by Emma Gannon
- "The Rose Code" by Kate Quinn.
- "The Push" by Ashley Audrain.
- "The Windsor Knot" by S.J. Bennett
- "The Bright Side" by Cathrin Bradbury
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
- There were lots of requests for book recommendations and book lists at the recent Childless Collective Summit, which got me thinking about all the ones I've read (and all the ones I haven't... YET! lol). I've added a Book List page to the pages listed at the top of this blog (directly below the nameplate/header), listing books I've reviewed or blogged about here (or remember from my pre-blog reading) related to adoption/loss/infertility (ALI), grief, childlessness and/or related subjects. Obviously, there are many other great titles I haven't read yet! I'll update this page as I read more books or remember others that I've already read. :) At the very bottom of the list are links to a couple of other bloggers' book lists that I've found. Happy reading!
- Older Nephew & his wife have bought a house!! In a smallish town about an hour north of us here. It will mean daily commutes to work for both of them (by car -- no public transit that far north!)... but there's really nothing hereabouts they can afford (albeit they paid a rather ridiculous price for this house anyway...!). The house is about 30 years old and while some of the decor is slightly dated, it's in fairly good shape so there's not much they really HAVE to do right away (although Nephew's Wife hates the colour scheme and wants to paint, lol).
- Nephew's Wife/Little Great-Nephew's Mom will be returning to work from maternity leave in mid-May. SIL is quitting her job to look after Little Great-Nephew, at their house here. So we will still be able to drop by once in a while to see him during the day, even if they move. ;)
- I'm behind on bookmarking interesting articles I've read recently to share here, and I know I've missed some, but here are a few I did capture recently:
- Conceive Hospital had a great post recently called "Are You Really Tired or Busy if You Don’t Have Children?" (The Yael Wolfe piece in Medium referenced in the post is also really great!) It reminded me of a post from very early in my blogging career, which I later submitted to Mel's Creme de la Creme for that year: "In a tizzy about being busy."
- Ms. Magazine recently reran a classic feminist piece from 50 years ago. It still sounds so depressingly familiar and, with perhaps a few tweaks in some of the details (does anyone send out laundry or dispute the need to buy a washing machine these days?), I think it still could have been written today...
Monday, March 29, 2021
The Thursday Murder Club is a group of four septuagenarians -- two men, two women, all residents of an upscale retirement village outside of London with time on their hands -- who meet weekly to try solving cold cases.
Then a murder happens close to home.
I won't give away any more than that, except to say that I love, love, loved this book. It was just what I needed right now -- and while I suspect that's been a big part of its appeal ( = an escape from the pandemic), it also has wonderful (frequently hilarious) writing, memorable, well-drawn characters and a plot full of razor-sharp observations and unexpected twists (and turns, and twists again) going for it. Pure entertainment, and just lots and lots of fun.
Five (5) stars on Goodreads
There's already a sequel in the works, called The Man Who Died Twice, to be published in September (and I can't wait!) -- and Steven Spielberg's production company has bought the movie rights! I'm picturing Helen Mirren as Elizabeth, Penelope Wilton as Joyce, Ben Kingsley as Ibrahim. Maybe Michael Caine as Ron? (I'm still thinking about that one.) Here's one site's suggestions -- all very good choices and they agree with me on one role! ;) If you've read the book, who would you cast?
This was Book #16 read to date in 2021 (and Book #4 finished in March), bringing me to 44% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books."
- Gallstones acting up again.
- Lousy sleep for the past few nights (see above). :p :(
- Our new neighbour across the hall (whom we have yet to meet) playing hip-hop music... just loud enough to be annoying...!! Grrrrr.... (She did it a couple of days in a row but it's been quiet again lately... knocking wood...!)
- Went into the local outlet for our telecomm services provider recently to check into an issue dh was having with his cellphone and to see whether he needed a new one. (He didn't -- it was an Android system issue -- which, curiously, was not affecting my phone -- exact same model, acquired at the same time as dh's. Go figure...) There were four people in the store behind the counter... one on the phone, one disappeared into the back room and two behind the closest desk talking to each other. We were the only customers there. We stood there for almost five minutes without anyone acknowledging our presence -- not even a glance or a "Hi, we'll be with you in just a minute." NOT IMPRESSED.
- (There are just two main service providers in Canada -- and they're both awful, in terms of both cost and service. Canadians' cellphone bills are among the highest in the world.)
- BIL calling us on his cellphone to come downstairs -- then driving up to our building's front door with Little Great Nephew in his seat in the back -- sound asleep! BIL was going to wake him up but we told him no, and just feasted our eyes on him. :)
- Visiting Little Great-Nephew at BIL's later that evening (now awake, lol). I pulled down my mask for a moment to show him my face and said, "Hi (LGN), it's Aunt Loribeth... you know me!" And LGN gave me a brief little royal nod of his head, as if to say, "Yes, I know you... you may stay." BIL saw it too and started laughing. Made my day. :)
- Reading "The Thursday Murder Club" by Richard Osman (recommended to me by Mel, among others). Review to come when I'm finished (which should be soon). Just a whole lot of fun. :)
- Spring weather last week that was mild enough to leave the balcony door open for most of the day, several days in a row. Ahhhhh!!
- (Annoying thing: the neighbour sitting on HER balcony and yakking nonstop on her cellphone all afternoon...!)
Thursday, March 25, 2021
At one of the morning kickoff sessions at the recent Childless Collective Summit, organizer Katy thanked those who had paid for an extended access package, giving them access to all the presentations for up to a full year (as well as other exclusive perqs) after an initial 24-hour free period. (Packages are still available, by the way!) She confessed that she felt uncomfortable making sales pitches (me too!) -- but explained that she had used her own money, not to mention hours & hours of her spare time (while holding down a full-time job) to organize the summit, mostly unassisted. Ten per cent of the profits from the extended access packages were donated to the Black Women's Health Imperative. Katy also said she planned to use any leftover funds to provide some compensation to the 28 speakers who offered their time and services for the summit, and additional goodies perqs for the extended access passholders.
I thought Katy did a great job in providing some free access for all, balanced with extended access for a fee (and told her so in the comments). I bought one of the extended access passes, in part because I doubted I would be able to watch all of the things I wanted to see within the 24-hour free timeframe (and I was right!) -- but also because I'd like to see more such summits in the future, and because I've become much more conscious lately of where I want to direct my money and support.
Throughout my adult/working life, I've made donations to various organizations and causes. I've made memorial donations when loved ones have passed away to organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society and Alzheimer's Society, as requested. I handed out money to almost every neighbourhood kid who knocked on the door of my house, selling chocolate bars for their school or asking me to sponsor them for Jump Rope for Heart at their school, or the Terry Fox Run, or to buy their Girl Guide cookies. I had monthly deductions taken from my paycheque for many years to support our local United Way, which funds a number of great local initiatives. I made regular donations to both of my alma maters (asking that the funds be used specifically to support student life at the residence where I lived during my four years of undergrad, and the journalism program I attended in graduate school). When we went to church regularly (cough), we signed up for giving via regular envelopes (and received a tax receipt in return at the end of the year). I gave money regularly to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) for several years, because too many people in my life have had their lives negatively affected -- or ended altogether -- by drunk drivers. And dh & I were longtime regular donors to the pregnancy loss support group that we attended as clients and then volunteered with as facilitators for 10 years.
When both of us lost our jobs (in 2013 & 2014), we immediately looked for ways to pare down our expenses until we figured out what our new financial situation would look like -- and as a result, we stopped making most of our usual donations. We're now both retired/pensioners (!), and while we are living quite comfortably in retirement, our resources are not unlimited. We've been able to resume making some donations, and I'm still giving money to larger/more established charities from time to time. But (as we used to say in the corporate world), I'm trying to be "more strategic" these days -- to give some thought about where I want to direct my funds and why, and to make more, smaller, meaningful donations to the causes that I (and the people I love) care about the most.
For example, one of my best friends from high school lost her daughter in a tragic car accident a little over a year ago (mentioned here). She loved animals, and her family has set up a scholarship fund that helps send local kids to spring break/summer camp run by the local humane society. I've donated to the fund on my own, as well as together with my high school classmates.
Another friend -- a former blogger and childless mom like me -- established a charity in memory of her neighbour and good friend who died of cancer. Every month, she and a group of friends get together (via Zoom these days, in person during pre-COVID times) to knit & crochet for good causes. Over the past nine years, they've donated more than 1,500 "chemo caps" for cancer patients and 1,100 infant loss items, such as tiny hats and receiving blankets, for local hospitals. I don't knit or crochet, but it's a great cause I wanted to support, and I love to help out by making occasional cash donations to help purchase yarn and embellishments.
I've been looking for ways to support the childless community as well. Besides paying for an extended access pass to the recent summit, I'm a paid member of the private online Gateway Women community, which supports the wonderful work that Jody Day, Karin Enfield-deVries and Gateway Women have been doing for the past decade to support childless women around the world and to change the cultural conversation about childlessness. (The first month of community membership is free, and there are several different membership levels available.) Gateway Women has also launched a 10th anniversary appeal and you can now make direct donations through its website!
I'm a big fan of The Full Stop podcast for childless-not-by-choicers, and they have a feature on their website where you can buy them a "Ko-fi," which I have done in the past (and intend to do again). I'd love to buy a coffee for any & all of the three wonderful hosts, but I'm sure they will appreciate a virtual Ko-fi even more!
It's not exactly a donation (more of an investment), but because (as a former journalist and communicator) I strongly believe in the value of quality journalism (and because I'm a news junkie who often hits the paywall on the first day of the month, lol), I have digital subscriptions to 5 (!) daily newspapers -- The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Toronto Star, The Wall Street Journal (I get access to the WSJ with my Star subscription) and The Globe & Mail (plus several paper magazines). I currently have free subscriptions to several Substack newsletters by some excellent women/feminist writers -- all of which offer at least some free content -- and am considering upgrading to paid subscriptions for at least a few of those.
I like free stuff as much as the next person ;) -- and the Internet has been great (almost too great, I think) in giving us free access to so, so much information and entertainment and ways to connect with others. If we had to start paying for all the stuff we've become accustomed to getting for free, we'd have some very hard decisions to make. (There are only so many digital news and Substack subscriptions and online streaming services that I can afford -- or make good use of...!)
But "free" is never completely free -- someone somewhere is paying for it, if not with money then certainly in terms of time and effort. And I think that if we enjoy and appreciate what they do, we need to support them however we can -- with "likes" and "shares" and comments, with volunteer hours, and sometimes with our dollars, too.
What are some of your favourite causes to support?
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Yesterday afternoon, a message popped up from an old friend from our pregnancy loss group (D). She & her family used to live in the same area where we had our house & ran the group, but a couple of years ago they moved out to the west coast (several thousand miles away).
D said "I have a favour to ask you, and I completely understand if you would rather not." She explained that her 90-year-old aunt lives in a small community just north of where we now live. D had arranged for her covid vaccine appointment. You MUST make your appointment online (at the moment, anyway) -- no phone calls, no walk-ins or in-person appointment requests taken at vaccination centres.
(The uptake for the 80+ group has been much lower than expected -- well, DUH....!! Many seniors are not computer or cellphone-literate, and not everyone has computer-savvy family or friends nearby to help out, right? I guess there are some community service groups that are making appointments for people who need assistance, but seriously? I mentioned this to D and she said, "My aunt was SO confused... broke my heart." :( )
Anyway, D asked if... we would consider printing off the confirmation form and other paperwork her aunt needs to bring to her appointment next week and drive it up to where she lives (about 20-30 minutes away, tops) and drop it off at her apartment.
I did ask dh before saying yes, just to be sure he was okay with it (since he'd be doing the driving!) and he said, "How can we NOT do it??" So I responded that of course we could do that, and it would be great to have an excuse to get out of the house for a while, lol. She was SO happy & grateful.
And then about half an hour later the phone rang -- it was a delivery person downstairs. Dh looked at me quizzically (like, "What did you order NOW?" lol) but I knew immediately that D must have sent us something as a thank you (because that's the kind of person she is) -- and sure enough, it was a florist with a beautiful bouquet, and a card from D attached. (D also brought dh & me flowers to our last meeting as support group facilitators, 11+ years ago, which I wrote about here!)
|A lovely bouquet from our friend.|