*(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.)
Pandemic update: (This almost deserves a separate post of its own...!) May was Month #14 going on 15 (!) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. The rollercoaster ride continues...! The U.S. is opening up and abandoning masks (whether they should be is, I suppose, debatable...), and my social media feeds are full of my American friends & relatives, mostly maskless, gleefully meeting up with & hugging each other, toasting each other in bars, eating out in restaurants, etc....
Meanwhile, north of the border, it feels like we have been under lockdown since well before Christmas -- hereabouts, if not province- or country-wide: the region I live in entered a lockdown on Dec. 14th, joined by the rest of the province on Dec. 26th. This ran 10 weeks until Feb. 22nd (and probably should have gone longer, but didn't -- thus setting the stage for Wave #3...!). Our most recent lockdown/stay-at-home order, which began April 8th, was initially scheduled to end on May 20th (after six weeks) -- just before our Victoria Day long weekend -- but was extended until June 2nd.
Then, on May 20th (just before the long weekend), the provincial government announced a new, staged reopening plan, tied to specific metrics (finally!!), including increases in vaccination rates (which I mentioned here). Assuming things go well and the metrics are met, some things will start to reopen in mid-June, including outdoor dining and some non-essential retail. (Unfortunately for me, hair salons likely won't reopen until stage two of the plan, i.e., probably not until sometime in July. Heeeellllllpppppp....)
After hitting an all-time high of 4,812 on April 16th (shortly after the latest restrictions began), daily new case numbers have been declining. Yesterday, they dipped below 1,000 for the first time since March, with 916 new cases reported. A big improvement, but still...!! Hospitalizations and ICU numbers remain too high for comfort, however.
Unfortunately, things have not been much better in some other parts of Canada. At one point this past month, the city of Calgary (in Alberta) had a higher per capita case rate than INDIA. My home province of Manitoba -- which has fared relatively well for most of the pandemic -- is currently a global COVID-19 hot spot and under its own strict restrictions (and the region where my parents live is one of the province's hot spots, outside of the city). New case numbers there reached a record high of 560 on May 13th -- the equivalent of 5,992 new cases here in Ontario (!). Cases in hospital ICUs are also at record levels, and some patients have been transferred to hospitals in neighbouring provinces to receive care. Needless to say, I (still!) won't be heading there to see my family anytime soon... maybe in the fall or for Christmas, if I'm lucky... :(
The one bright spot: vaccinations, which were (very/agonizingly) slow to begin rolling out, are now galloping along... to the point that Canada has now surpassed the U.S. in terms of the percentage of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine! (Who would have thought THAT, back in early March??) As of yesterday (May 31st), 56.5% of Canadians (56.8% here in Ontario) have received at least one dose.
Just 5.3% of Canadians (including 4.8% of Ontarians) have received both doses ( = are considered fully vaccinated), but second vaccines for the general population are now beginning to happen. Until just recently, the protocol was to wait 16 weeks/four months for second shots of all vaccines, to give more people the opportunity to get those critical first shots and receive at least some measure of protection from the virus. Last week, however, the government announced it will revise that timeline to 12 weeks in most cases.
Dh & I happily received our first shots of AstraZeneca on April 5th (and BIL & SIL got theirs the following day -- also AstraZeneca). Since then, my parents, sister & her partner in Manitoba, and both nephews and their wives here have all received their first shots (all Pfizer). Most Canadian provinces have paused using AstraZeneca for first shots because of the risk of blood clots (and also because enough Pfizer was becoming available to meet current demand, as well as some Moderna). After some dithering by both federal and provincial governments, it's been decided that those of us who received AstraZeneca for our first vaccinations *may* receive AZ for our second shots, 10-12 weeks after the first, so as not to waste any of the AZ currently in supply or due to arrive shortly. Whether there will be *enough* AZ vaccine to give a second shot to everyone who wants it remains to be seen. (It also remains to be seen whether AZers will be offered Pfizer or Moderna for their second shots, as some would prefer (and assume will be possible) -- the governments are still waiting for more study data on the side effects, efficacy, etc., before making a decision on that front.)
Under the 16-week protocol, dh & I would have received our second shots around July 26th; now it's possible that might happen before the end of June. We would both be more than happy to receive the AstraZeneca again, versus the prospect of "mixing" (especially if, as with our first shots, it means we can get vaccinated sooner). Apparently the risk of clotting drops dramatically with the second AZ dose. But will there still be enough AZ supply by the time we qualify for our second shots? I guess we'll see what happens...!
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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 BIL's three times:
- On May 8th (Saturday of Mother's Day weekend) to drop off cards for the nephews' wives (who share a birthday -- same day, same year! -- what are the odds??). It was just BIL, SIL & Little Great-Nephew at home -- we've all had our first shots (the adults, anyway), SIL has stopped working, and the weather was nice enough to have the balcony door partly open, so we figured the risk was minimal, and we wound up staying for coffee (despite the stay-at-home order -- cough...!). We hadn't seen any of them in 4+ weeks, since April 6th. :(
- Back again on the morning of May 19th to visit SIL & Little Great-Nephew (and the dog, lol).
- And again on the morning of May 26th. :) He's still pretty shy around us (much to dh's dismay) -- hid behind Grandma when we arrived! -- but waved and said "Bye!" when we were leaving. (And closed the door on us! lol)
- Before heading there on May 26th, we stopped at the bank to make an ABM deposit.
Otherwise, we've continued to stay close to home (both by edict & by choice).
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Reading: I read 9 (!) books in May (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
- "What's Not Said" by Valerie Taylor (NoMo/Gateway Women book club pick for May).
- "Sorrow and Bliss" by Meg Mason.
- "Us" by David Nicholls. A TV version will be shown on PBS, beginning June 20th. :)
- "Katherine's Marriage" by D.E. Stevenson (a re-read along with my DES group -- previously read and reviewed here, and a sequel to "Katherine Wentworth," reviewed here and here).
- "The Windsor Knot" by S.J. Bennett
- "Before and After" by Alison Wilson (see "Watching," below)
- "Chronicles of Avonlea" by L.M. Montgomery (a re-read with my LMM Readathon FB group -- previously read & reviewed here)
- "Summerhills" by D.E. Stevenson (for my author fan group -- a sequel to "Amberwell," which we read and discussed last year).
- "Still Glides the Stream" by D.E. Stevenson (also for my DES group... this will be the book we'll discuss after "Summerhills").
This brings me to 32 books read so far in 2021 -- 89% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books (!!). I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 18 (!) books ahead of schedule. :) (Dh is currently at 62 books (!) -- albeit he stopped tracking on Goodreads for a while in April, so the real number is likely higher.)
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper & digital formats, discounted or purchased with points):
- Used copies of three out-of-print titles by D.E. Stevenson, to be discussed later this year by my online group (none of which I've read before, at least that I can remember): "Gerald and Elizabeth," "The House of the Deer," and "Charlotte Fairlie" (which also goes by the titles "Blow the Wind Southerly" and "The Enchanted Isle"). They were all fairly reasonable prices and are supposed to be in good condition. We'll see...!
- All three "Emily" novels by L.M. Montgomery, for my FB Readathon group (see above) -- "Emily of New Moon," "Emily Climbs" and "Emily's Quest" -- currently on order and due to arrive soon. :)
- "Empire of Pain" by Patrick Radden Keefe (about the Sackler family and Oxy-Contin -- from the author of "Say Nothing," one of the best books I read in 2019).
- "Just As I Am" by Cicely Tyson.
- "JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956" by Fredrik Logevall
- "The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America" by Lara Freidenfelds
- "His Truth Is Marching on: John Lewis and the Power of Hope" by Jon Meacham.
My "Clever Name" virtual book club discussed "The Thursday Murder Club" by Richard Osman (which I already read & reviewed here --and thoroughly enjoyed!) at our recent May meeting. Because I'd already read the book fairly recently, I did not re-read it for the book club.
- I finished watching "Atlantic Crossing" on PBS (8 episodes). It's based on the true story of how the Norwegian royal family fled the country after the Nazi invasion of 1940, how Crown Princess Martha and her three children wound up spending the war as refugees in Washington, D.C., and how her friendship with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped influence U.S. policy during the war. I'd give it 3 stars overall. Interesting to see WWII from a different (Norwegian) angle, lovely sets & costumes -- and I loved the period film footage shown at the very end of the last episode -- much of it filmed by Martha herself. But the scripting was a bit clunky and soap opera-ish at times, with plenty of historical embellishments (e.g., a tearful Martha singing "Happy days are here again" to an ailing FDR on his near-deathbed in the final episode?!).
- Dh often rolls his eyes at my Masterpiece Theatre dramas ;) -- but he was hooked within 10 minutes of watching "Mrs. Wilson" with me -- a three-part British drama, based on a true story. Actress Ruth Wilson plays her own grandmother, Alison, whose grief over the death of her husband in 1963 becomes complicated when another woman claiming to be his wife shows up on her doorstep... and that's only the beginning! This was originally shown on PBS a few years ago but I didn't watch it then. I'm glad I had the chance to do it now in reruns.
- This drama was based in part on Alison Wilson's memoir, "Before and After" (reviewed here -- see above under "Reading").
- I've now watched 7 of the 10 episodes of season 4 of "The Handmaid's Tale," which is airing Thursday nights on the CTV Drama channel (formerly known as Bravo). Most of the action and characters have moved to Canada this season, which has been kind of interesting...!
Listening: To a lot of great podcasts (and wrote about some of them here).
Zooming: Among other Zoom chats recently, I caught up with two of my former coworkers, including one I only recently re-connected with on social media (all of us childless, too!). So nice to chat, and we're looking forward to doing it again soon!
Buying (besides books, lol): Not much! Most stores here (aside from supermarkets and drugstores) are still offering curbside pickup only right now. I did order a few pairs of earrings and a necklace from my favourite sterling silver jewelry crafter when she had a flash sale to get rid of inventory before moving everything over to her new website. Always happy to oblige, lol. ;) They were delivered yesterday. My squeegee/window cleaning kit, which I think I mentioned last month (ordered in April) should finally arrive this week too. And I ordered my 2022 Filofax datebook insert from Amazon last week.
Appreciating: The ability to order a wide variety of merchandise (especially books, lol) and have it delivered to my door while so many stores are closed right now. But also appreciating the efforts of those in the warehouses, etc., who are working (and in many cases endangering their own health and safety, and that of their families) to bring it to us. :( (These kinds of workplace settings are a leading driver of new cases here.)
Eating/Drinking: Our usual rotation of favourite takeout choices, including amazing thin crust/wood oven pizza (twice!), spaghetti rapini agli e olio, rotisserie chicken, and chicken fingers and fries.
Wearing: Bare feet in the house (finally!). (Dh goes barefoot year round, while I'm generally wearing both socks AND slippers during the winter months -- and still freezing, lol.) (I did have to put on slippers again when the weather turned chilly again last week!)
When our weather turned warmer during the week before the Victoria Day long weekend, I screwed up my courage, brought out my capris from the depths of my closet, and tried them on. They still fit!! (Well, they're maybe a *little* tight... but still wearable!) :) (I also tried on my shorts, with similar results!) Not having to shop for new ones during a pandemic (with stores currently closed, and changing cuts and uncertain fits making online shopping a gamble...) was a big relief.
Celebrating: Older Nephew and his wife take possession of their new house today!! BIL is on vacation this week, and he's enlisted dh to help move some of their things up there over the next few days. They are painting and having a new kitchen and some built-ins installed before they actually move in, though. That likely won't be until later this month.
Wanting: To wash (the rest of) our windows, now that the weather is nice (but waiting for the squeegee kit I ordered -- see above). The condo board hires window washers every spring -- and they just got done last week -- but they won't come onto our balconies -- so the balcony doors are ours to do, as well as the inside windows. And they really need doing!
Once they're done, we'll bring up the patio chairs & little table from the storage locker. I'm looking forward to spending some time out there with a book and a glass of iced tea. :) (Before the weather gets too hot & humid...!)
Loving: The days when the weather is warm enough (but not overly hot/humid) to have the balcony door open all day, letting in the fresh air!
Feeling: Mostly happy lately. :) The warmer weather and sunshine really helps (as do the visits with Little Great-Nephew, lol).