*(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 diary/update: (And once again, this section is almost a post unto itself...!) June was Month #15 going on 16 (!) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic.
After hitting an all-time one-day high of 4,812 on April 16th (shortly after the most recent lockdown/restrictions began), daily new case numbers here in Ontario have (thankfully!) been steadily declining. Yesterday, the province reported just 184 new cases -- the lowest since Sept. 10th, 2020. The seven-day rolling average of new cases fell to 268. Hospital/ICU numbers have also declined.
This is due in part to the success of the latest lockdown/restrictions/staged reopening process -- but also undoubtedly because of our rapidly rising vaccination rates. Vaccinations began rolling out (very slowly) to the general public in March, and the second round, which also got off to a bit of a slow start in May, is now going gangbusters. As of yesterday (June 30th), 67.5% of all Canadians had received at least one shot, and 29.2% were fully vaccinated. Here in Ontario, 67.4% of the total population have received one dose of vaccine, and 32.6% are now fully vaccinated. (Among adults 18+ in Ontario, those figures are 77.7% and 39.3%, respectively.)
Initially, the wait between first and second shots was pegged at 16 weeks -- then it was lowered to 12 weeks. By mid-June, with the new Delta variant of the virus starting to spread, the province decreed that anyone who had had an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) could get their second shot after just 8 weeks. Those of us who had AstraZeneca, however, still had to wait 12 weeks, whether we were getting AZ or an mRNA shot for our second dose. People were not happy about that -- and so within days, the wait time was shortened to 8 weeks for AZers too. Dh & I had our first AstraZeneca shots on April 5th... as a result, people who got their first shots of Pfizer in May, long after we did, were getting their second shots before we were even allowed to try to book ours! One more round of ups & downs for us AZers to endure...!
To date, most Canadians have received Pfizer or (to a lesser extent)AstraZeneca, because initial shipments of Moderna were delayed. Now it's the other way around: vast quantities of Moderna are flooding into the country, while the latest Pfizer shipments have been delayed, creating a Pfizer shortage. Of course, those of us who took AstraZeneca for our first shots are now being urged to choose an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for our second. (And how privileged are we, to have the luxury of choice??) (Early data on "mixing" has been promising, but there hasn't been a lot of it to date.) To make things even more interesting, Moderna has not yet been approved here for use among children aged 12-18 (but Pfizer has). As a result, many clinics are reserving what little Pfizer is currently available for the 12-18 age group. But because Pfizer became "THE" vaccine by default (when Moderna was not available and AZ fell into disfavour), many people are now outright refusing Moderna at vaccination clinics -- even though it is essentially the same thing as Pfizer -- running the risk of unused vaccines going to waste...!! You can't make this stuff up...!
Anyway! -- If you read my blog regularly, you know I've posted (*cough* -- whined, lol) about how difficult it's been to book second shots -- and I'm almost hesitant to post this because, I don't want to jinx myself (lol) -- but later this afternoon, dh, BIL & SIL & I will be going to get our second vaccinations at one of the big centres, about 20 minutes from where we live.
Last week, I'd called the drugstore where we got our first shots (& were registered for a second), but was told they were only giving AstraZeneca; they didn't have any Pfizer yet. By then, we'd decided we'd rather have the Pfizer (if only to stop my mother from complaining, lol). SIL told me she'd been on the provincial booking portal and seen lots of appointments available at this particular site, but they wouldn't say whether they were offering Pfizer or Moderna (BIL was hesitant on the Moderna). I decided to have a look for myself, and when I saw all those appointments available, I thought, to heck with waiting, I don't care if it's Moderna, and booked for me & dh. Phoned SIL and she promptly booked for the exact same time for her & BIL, lol. I said, "If the drugstore comes through with Pfizer before then, we can always cancel," but they haven't -- and we didn't realize at the time that basically there wasn't any Pfizer to be had anywhere for people 18+.
So, today is the day! and I can't think of a better way to celebrate Canada Day!! After two weeks, i.e., by July 15th, we will (finally!!) be considered fully vaccinated. (This gives a whole new meaning to the term "two-week wait," doesn't it??) My parents received their second vaccinations earlier this week (yay!!), and my sister and her partner will get theirs early next week.
Our most recent stay-at-home order, which began April 8th, officially ended as scheduled on June 2nd. However, other restrictions remained firmly in place until June 11th, when -- certain thresholds re: vaccinations, new cases, ICU numbers, etc. being met -- some things began to reopen, including larger gatherings, outdoor dining and some non-essential retail (at 15% capacity), after what some have called one of the longest and most stringent lockdowns in the world.
There's supposed to be a mandatory 21 days until the next stage of reopening is allowed to proceed, to ensure new case/ICU numbers remain low and we reach certain vaccination levels. For example, stage 2 was scheduled for Friday, July 2nd, assuming (among other criteria) 70% of all adults with first vaccinations and 20% with second shots. As usual, however, our premier simply could not resist the opportunity to score some political points by reopening before the long weekend (eyeroll)(Canada Day) -- and his wife and four daughters were nagging him about wanting to get their hair and nails done (eyeroll again) -- and so Stage 2 reopening began a few days early -- i.e., yesterday, Wednesday, June 30th -- which includes hair and nail salons and malls (all at reduced capacity). (Yes, I know I've been whining about my own hair, lol -- but even though I desperately want a haircut, I don't believe that's sufficient reason to reopen earlier than health officials recommend.)
Stage 3 reopening is currently scheduled for around July 21st -- although we've already exceeded the required vaccination levels required, and some people are pushing for an earlier reopening there too (which would include indoor dining and other indoor activities, including casino reopenings and larger indoor gathering limits). Health officials, however, want the government to stick to the established timeline. Guess we'll see...!
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've been to BIL's six (6) times to spend time with SIL & Little Great-Nephew -- once or twice a week (generally mid-morning, as LGN takes a nap in the afternoon after lunch).
Dh also helped BIL & Older Nephew move some stuff from BIL's house to the kids' new home, about 45-60 minutes north, after they took possession on June 1st. They've been having some work done (installing a new kitchen and some built-ins in the family room, de-popcorning the ceilings, installing new flooring in the upstairs bedrooms and painting), and won't be moving in until later in July.
Otherwise, we've continued to stay close to home (both by edict and by choice). Unfortunately, we are part of an increasing minority: for example, EuroCup soccer is HUGE in the predominantly Italian community where we live, and there were HUNDREDS of people jamming the streets, celebrating, in the old downtown/village area last Saturday afternoon, after Italy won its do-or-die game against Austria... in direct violation of gathering limits, not a mask in sight (and how many of them do you think were two weeks past their second shots??). Dh went to pick up our takeout dinner around 5 p.m., while the game was still on -- the restaurant's recently reopened patio was packed, with a long lineup waiting outside, and there were massive lineups at all the other restaurants & stores he passed by. And later, as we ate our dinner, we watched as several groups of young people, unmasked, made their way from the parking area to one of the neighbouring townhouses, toting cases of beer and platters of food -- obviously headed to a party. Sigh... I know it's summertime, people want to be out & about, things ARE getting better -- but IT'S NOT OVER YET!!
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Also right now:
Reading: I read 2 books in June (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
This brings me to 34 books read so far in 2021 -- 94% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books (!!). I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 17 (!) books ahead of schedule. :) (Dh stopped tracking his reading on Goodreads -- again! -- with his most recent total at 62 books (!), but likely much higher.)
- "Summerhills" by D.E. Stevenson (chapter-by-chapter group read with my DES online fan group).
- "Emily of New Moon" by L.M. Montgomery (chapter-by-chapter group read with my L.M. Montgomery Readathon Facebook group, as mentioned above).
- "The Menopause Manifesto" by Dr. Jen Gunter.
- "Hungry" by Grace Dent (the July pick for the Gateway Women/NoMo book club).
- "Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family" by Amanda Jette Knox (July's pick for my "Clever Name" virtual book club).
Did not finish:
- "Poisoned" by Jennifer Donnelly (June's pick for the Gateway Women/NoMo book club). This was billed as a feminist take on an old fairy tale (Snow White). Fantasy is generally not my genre of choice, but I enjoy taking part in book club discussions (and I've been introduced to some great reads through them that I might not have picked up otherwise) -- so I downloaded this book to my e-reader and started reading. But I found it difficult to get into -- and there were other, more alluring books waiting in the wings to be read (some for other book clubs too). I rarely abandon a book once I start it (and who knows, I may pick it up again at some point in the future), but I just couldn't get interested, and so I've set this one aside. Your mileage may vary...!
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper & digital formats, discounted or purchased with points):
- I didn't watch minute by minute, but I kept tabs on the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs series between my beloved Winnipeg Jets and the legendary Montreal Canadiens earlier this month -- in which the Jets lost all four games played (best of 7). I guess there's always next year...! (The Canadiens are facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the finals -- game 3 tomorrow/Friday night!)
- Aside from figure skating, I'm generally not that interested in watching sports. I'll watch hockey now & then (I am Canadian, after all, lol), but personally, I think hockey in June/July is ridiculous. ;) Nevertheless, I have followed the Jets since they were part of the WHL back in the 1970s. I vividly remember the day they became part of the NHL... that sad, sad day they left Winnipeg, and the ecstatic day they returned. If I had to pick one team that I would call "mine," they would be it. :)
- I finished watching season 4 of "The Handmaid's Tale." We've gone waaaayyyyy beyond the original Atwood novel, and there was a lot of wish fulfillment going on, lol -- especially in the season ender! Not sure what they'll do in season 5 -- and there will be a season 5 -- but I will still be watching...!
- After reading "Us" by David Nicholls recently (reviewed here), I enjoyed watching a two-part (four-hour) screen adaptation on PBS Masterpiece this month. Great New York Times review here! (And I blogged about how it affected me, here.)
- We wound up watching all four hours (!) of "KISStory" on A&E Biography on Monday night, lol. I was not a KISS fan back in the day -- as regular readers of this blog will recall, I was a huge Bay City Rollers fan when I was in my early/mid-teens in the mid-1970s -- around the same time that KISS first began topping the charts -- and, back then, BCR & KISS fans HATED each other with a passion. ;) (BCR fans were mostly young girls; KISS fans back then were mostly young males.) But what can I say -- they're kind of like the wallpaper -- they've always been there (they were part of my youth too, and they've been around almost 50!! years now...), some of their songs really are kind of catchy, and I feel almost kind of affectionate about them these days. Anyway, I enjoyed watching.
- There was a rumour, when I was at university in the late 1970s/early 1980s, that KISS had played the residence auditorium where I attended so many dances/socials/parties -- several years earlier, in the early/mid-1970s, before they hit the big time. Years later, someone did some digging -- and it was true! It was the fourth show on their very first tour in 1974. (They were a little too weird for Winnipeg at the time and got booed, as well as picketed, lol.)
Listening: Dh has been listening to the Stingray Seventies music channel lately for some variety from the classic rock channel we usually listen to. Obviously, there is some overlap -- but you get more of the sappy/silly stuff that gave Seventies music a bad name here (lol), along with the good stuff. Still, it's fun when you can instantly recognize a song from the first few bars and sing along to (almost) every word, even if you haven't heard it in a very long time...!
Buying (besides books, lol): Not much! Most non-essential retail outlets here (aside from supermarkets and drugstores) could only offer curbside pickup until June 11th, when they were allowed to reopen with limited capacity. We figured they'd be swamped when they first reopened, and so have not ventured anywhere yet. Malls just reopened yesterday, as part of stage 2. We may bite the bullet and head there soon -- my cellphone is literally starting to fall apart (splitting along the seams), and I desperately need one with more memory, so...
Eating/Drinking: Our usual rotation of favourite takeout choices, including amazing thin crust/wood oven pizza, spaghetti rapini agli e olio, rotisserie chicken, chicken fingers and fries... and a trip through the McDonalds drive-through, one night when we were desperate, lol.
A couple of times, en route home after visiting SIL & LGN, we've swung by the supermarket for some takeout soup or pizza for lunch -- I wait in the car while dh puts on his mask and goes inside, and we warm things up in the microwave when we get home. (In pre-covid times, we'd go for lunch there together and then do the grocery shopping.)
Wearing: Mostly denim shorts & tank tops, now that the hot, humid weather is here.
Trying: To stay cool amid a wave of heat & humidity -- but not to complain too much about it, since it's nowhere near what people in British Columbia/the U.S. west coast (Seattle, Portland, etc.) have been dealing with (at least we have air conditioning!! -- many of them don't, since they just haven't needed it in the past). On Tuesday, it was 49.6C (!!!) in Lytton, a small town in the interior of British Columbia -- a full 21 degrees hotter than normal. (That's 121F, and hotter than the all-time record high in Las Vegas!!) They broke the all-time Canadian heat record (set in 1937), three days in a row!
Then last night (Wednesday), the entire town was evacuated with about 10 minutes notice, then engulfed by wildfires. :( Other towns in the province are being flooded, the result of mountain icecaps melting in the extreme heat.
Please don't try to tell me that climate change isn't real. :(
Wanting: What else? -- a haircut!! lol (Friday will be 16 weeks since the last one!) I called the salon in our Old Community where our regular hairdresser of the past several years is now working -- or was supposed to start working, anyway, right around the same time as the last lockdown kicked in...! -- and left a message yesterday afternoon, begging for appointments ASAP.
Celebrating: I'm happy to report that I got a call back from the salon a few hours later, and we are now booked for haircuts, late Saturday afternoon, July 10th!! (Dh said he would take an appointment at midnight if that was the first one available, lol.) I CANNOT WAIT!!!
Feeling: Sick & tired of this pandemic (and my pandemic hair!!)... but hoping that we'll soon be able to start safely spreading our wings a little more...