*(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.)
March has been a LOOOONNNNNGGGG month!
This month, we marked one full year (12 months!!) of living with the COVID-19 virus. I wrote two posts from a "one year later" perspective, here and here. The region where I live (near Toronto) came out of lockdown on Feb. 22nd (and there are some businesses in Toronto & Peel regions that STILL haven't been allowed to reopen! -- hair & nail salons, gyms, no indoor dining at restaurants, etc.). However, case numbers are almost as high as they've ever been, including a huge surge from the new, more contagious variants -- and it's almost a certainty that there will be a THIRD shutdown/stay at home order soon... sigh...
(I wrote this last night -- and sure enough, on the CBC evening national news, they reported the premier will announce yet another lockdown today, starting Saturday and lasting for four weeks. But it won't be as strict as the last one... go figure...?? 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...)
Meanwhile, vaccinations for the general public (beyond health care workers and long-term care home residents and staff, who were the first to get the shots) FINALLY got under way here this past month (in Canada generally and here in Ontario specifically). Progress has been painfully slow, and initially focused on people aged 80 and older. (They just began accepting people 65+ yesterday! -- getting closer...!) There is a pilot project targeting those of us 60-64 (i.e., me and dh) to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, one via a certain number of family doctors' offices and one via a certain number of local pharmacies, in certain regions. To date, however, none of the pilots have been in the region where we live. Since the pilots began, the provincial government approved the AZ vaccine for people older than 64... and then, just as March was ending, a national vaccine panel recommended the AZ vaccine NOT be given to people younger than 55...! All clear as mud, right?
As of yesterday, 12.7% of Ontarians have received at least one dose of vaccine, and just 2.1% have received both ( = fully vaccinated).
On top of dh's usual (once or twice weekly) trips to the supermarket for groceries and for takeout dinners on Saturday nights, this month, we went (together -- with some trips including multiple stops):
- 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).
Otherwise, we've continued to stay close to home.
*** *** ***
I was curious to know exactly how many places I'd been over the past 12 months since the "Last Normal Day"/start of the pandemic. And I was able to figure it out, since I've kept notes in my datebook and in my monthly "Right Now" posts on this blog. These numbers don't include dh's solo expeditions to the supermarket, pharmacy, gas station, for takeout, etc., or our walks around the neighbourhood last spring/summer. It also doesn't include the outings noted above over the past month (i.e., the period covered includes mid-March 2020 through the end of February 2021 = almost a full year). Keep in mind we also had two fairly lengthy lockdowns/shutdowns over the past year. (I didn't count the number of actual outings -- one outing might include several stops.)
- 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)
*** *** ***
Reading: I read 4 books in March (reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
- "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.
This brings me to 16 books read so far in 2021 -- 44% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule. :)
(By mid-February, dh had already blown past his 2021 Reading Challenge goal of 24 books... to date, he's read 45 (!). He says he doesn't really care about the challenge; he just wants to track what he's read. Unlike me, of course, he's not on social media that much, or online much generally at all... so...! )
- "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...)
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper and digital formats):
- "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
Watching: We watched one episode of "Call the Midwife" on CBC (which took over "Downton Abbey's timeslot) -- as I wrote here -- but decided it was not for us and haven't watched since then.
"Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" and "Lincoln: Divided We Stand" both ended (after six episodes each) on CNN. "Belgravia" on CBC has also ended -- it was on at the same time as the Tucci show, so we PVRd it, but have yet to watch an episode.
I spent a bleary-eyed four days over a recent weekend watching one presentation after another through the online Childless Collective Summit organized by Katy at Chasing Creation. I managed to watch most of the presentations live and have been catching up on the ones I missed via an extended access pass (I still have a few left to watch). I wrote about the experience here.
Listening: Our usual classic rock music station... no new podcasts or podcast episodes recently (although I've been adding lots to my queue!).
Following: Several new blogs/sites/social media accounts for speakers and people I watched or "met" through the summit.
Eating/Drinking: We recently tried a new recipe for making pork chops in the crockpot that I found on Pinterest a while back, which was a hit! :) (We used mini-potatos and added carrots -- green beans would also be nice, I think -- added a little more liquid than called for, and spooned some of the liquid mixture over the chops. The grainy Dijon really makes the flavour pop!)
Our Saturday night takeout dinners this month included rotisserie chicken (with sandwiches made from the leftovers for lunch the next day), wood oven thin crust pizza, chicken fingers and fries, and spaghetti rapini agli e olio.
Buying (besides books, lol): Some sterling silver jewelry from my favourite online craftsperson (on sale, 25% off).... I actually ordered in late February but it didn't arrive until early March. And I just ordered myself a couple of new tops online from a Canadian store called Cleo that I used to frequent when I worked downtown (no outlets hereabouts, unfortunately). Of course I don't really NEED any new clothes right now, but sometimes you just want to splurge, you know? (And the prices are very reasonable.) My sister also wears a lot of their stuff.
Debating: Whether we need a bag of Cadbury mini-eggs in the house, lol (before Easter is over and they disappear for another year...!). ;)
Wearing: I have switched from wearing my down/"puffer" winter jacket outside to a denim jacket, since the weather turned milder. Progress?! (Hopefully I won't have to return to the down jacket again before next winter/fall...!)
Trying: Submitting medical & dental benefits claims through our employee/pensioner benefits provider's website for the first time (instead of printing off forms, filling them in by hand and mailing them in...!). (Dh & I worked for the same company and thus have the same benefits provider.) Yes, Canada has "universal" healthcare, and for most health care that's an emergency or "medically necessary," all you have to do is show your health card at the doctor's office or hospital and that's it. You never see a bill. But "extras" like ambulance services, private rooms at hospitals, etc., are not covered. Also not covered (although some provinces provide some limited services in these categories): dental or vision care, prescriptions and physiotherapy. That's why many people purchase medical and/or dental coverage, often through their workplace benefits programs.
The dentist submits our claims directly from their office (thank goodness), but it seems it's up to us to submit the secondary claims ourselves. Our prescriptions get automatically covered at the pharmacy (both primary & secondary -- also thank goodness), but I had a bill (standard fee) from my recent optometrist visit to submit too.
So far the refund money's been coming back into our bank account -- but I keep thinking there must be an easier way than submitting a claim, then resubmitting for the secondary coverage through dh's benefits (and vice versa). I've been making notes to keep track of what claims I've submitted when, or else I'd get horribly mixed up. I'm just very thankful that I only have to do this once or twice a year when we visit the dentist, with the occasional optometrist appointment or other fee thrown in. (I suppose this is all old hat for Americans??)
Wanting: A vaccine, soon (please)...!!
Loving: Little Great-Nephew. <3 A bright ray of sunshine in a dark year!
Feeling: A certain amount of disbelief that it's a full year later and we are STILL socially distancing, and heading for lockdown #3...! :( This is far from being over, people... :(
But also relieved that it's (FINALLY) spring and we're seeing some sunshine and able to have the balcony doors open occasionally!