*(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: July was Month #16 going on 17 (!) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. After hitting an all-time one-day high of 4,812 new cases on April 16th, daily new case numbers here in Ontario (population about 14 million) dropped as low as 114 on July 12th -- a level not seen since last Sept. 1st (2020). Not zero, but a definite improvement...!
They bounced around a bit but remained below 200 for 20 days straight -- and then (sadly) cracked the 200 mark again with 218 new cases on Thursday (July 29th), 226 on Friday (July 30th) and 258 yesterday (Saturday, July 31st). Our R factor (reproduction number, i.e., the average number of people that one person with COVID-19 will infect) is back up over 1 again. :( The vast majority of new hospital/ICU cases are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
As of yesterday (July 31st), 70.8% of all Canadians had received at least one shot, and 58.2% were fully vaccinated. Here in Ontario, 71.1% of the total population have received one dose of vaccine, and 61% are now fully vaccinated. (Among adults 18+ in Ontario, those figures are 81.4% and 70.7%, respectively.)(Children under 12 have still not been cleared for vaccination -- even though school starts again in September...!) After an agonizingly slow start to our vaccination program, we now rank among the best in world at getting our people vaccinated: 20th in the world in terms of total doses per hundred -- 128.58 -- ranking behind a number of mostly smaller nations such as Gibraltar, United Arab Emirates, Iceland and Bermuda, but ahead of the United Kingdom (in 26th place with 124.18) and the United States (49th, 102.67).
Dh & I had our first shots (AstraZeneca) on April 5th, and our second shots (Moderna) on July 1st. There was no other way I would rather have celebrated Canada Day!! Two weeks later (July 15th), we were considered fully vaccinated. :) Both of our immediate families (including parents, siblings, nephews & spouses) are also now fully vaccinated. :) Fully vaccinated does not mean zero risk, of course -- especially with the Delta variant circulating -- but it's still a load off our minds to know that we and the people we love most are better protected, and that we can start venturing back out into the world a little more safely.
After a lot of pressure from the U.S. (and communities on both sides of the border, badly hurt by the pandemic), our prime minister announced our border would reopen to fully vaccinated American citizens on August 9th, and to fully vaccinated people from the rest of the world on Sept. 7th. Curiously, however, the U.S. has so far declined to reciprocate, even though our new case and vaccination rates are so much better than theirs... I think we have much more to fear from opening our border than vice-versa...! (Not that I am eager to visit the U.S. at the moment anyway...! -- sorry, American relatives & friends!) Go figure... :p
As I've detailed before, by early July, we'd entered the first two stages of reopening after a very long and stringent lockdown (essentially since Christmas, punctuated by a few weeks in March, when restrictions were lifted -- too soon, as it turned out, because case rates began skyrocketing, again). First, non-essential retail and patio dining reopened (among other things) just before Canada Day. Stage 2 included malls and hair and nail salons -- all at reduced capacity, with restrictions in place -- but still, open again. We had our first haircuts in 17 weeks (!) on July 10th, and did that ever feel good!!
Stage 3 began on Friday, July 16th (five days earlier than scheduled), including indoor dining, movie theatres, casinos, and larger indoor gathering limits. Mandatory mask-wearing continues in most indoor and some outdoor public venues (and likely will at least until the fall).
Since more things have started reopening recently, and since receiving our second vaccinations on July 1st (and since the weather has been nicer!), we've been spreading our wings *just* a little more this month! On top of dh's usual (once or twice weekly) trips to the supermarket for groceries and for takeout dinners on Saturday nights, we've been:
- To the vaccination centre with BIL & SIL on July 1st for our second vaccines!
- En route home, we went through the drive-through at Dairy Queen for celebratory ice cream (which we ate in the car in the parking lot). :)
- To BIL's 9 times -- mostly to spend time with SIL & Little Great-Nephew (once or twice a week for an hour or two, generally mid-morning, as LGN takes a nap in the afternoon after lunch).
- We went there early in the month so that dh could help BIL move their sofa out to the garage, the night before their new one was due to arrive. (The old one is going to the basement in Older Nephew's new house.)
- We were there mid-month for cake & coffee for SIL's birthday (with just BIL, SIL & Little Great-Nephew).
- Before heading over, we stopped at the supermarket and I picked out a birthday bouquet to take to SIL.
- And we were there yesterday (July 31st) for an early birthday celebration for Younger Nephew, who turns 29 next week! Dh saw him last weekend, helping Older Nephew move, but I had not seen him since Little Great-Nephew's first birthday in mid-November! (and that was a rather strained and hurried affair where all stayed masked and distant, except for when we bolted down our cake & coffee, took a few photos and then left a little over an hour after we arrived). I got a big hug from the birthday boy -- the first hugs I've received from anyone other than dh since covid began. And yes, I had to find some kleenex afterwards...!
- To the bookstore on July 5th, for the first time since March 31st (!), shortly before our last lockdown went into effect (the store reopened on June 11th), and then again on July 27th.
- I also went to the drugstore that day for the first time since March 31st to pick up some prescriptions and other sundries.
- We went out for celebratory gelato on the afternoon of July 6th for our 36th wedding anniversary (dh got takeout for dinner later). It was our first gelato of the season/year (but likely not the last!).
- We got our first haircuts in 17 weeks (since March 12th) on Saturday, July 10th!! Hallelujah!! :) :) :) And we stopped by a frozen food store en route home to stock up on some of our favourite convenience foods.
- Both of us had dentist appointments in midtown Toronto on July 13th (and we stopped by the supermarket for some takeout soup for lunch, en route home).
- We hit the mall on July 20th for the first time since March 10th... 2020!! (i.e., 17 months!) -- pre-pandemic! I got a new cellphone and a new battery for my favourite/everyday watch (which conked out shortly after the pandemic began), and poked into a handful of stores, but both of us found it a bit too "people-y." Baby steps...!
- ...and back again a day later.
- Dh & BIL took some stuff up to Older Nephew's new house on July 19th -- also BIL's birthday -- and had lunch together (drive-through burgers, eaten in the car).
- They were back again later that week, on July 21st, to do a few more things around the house.
- BIL called dh over on Friday, July 23rd, to help him & the nephews move boxes full of stuff into the garage (to make it easier to load the moving van on Saturday).
- And then dh helped them with the move itself on July 24th! :)
Older Nephew, his wife and Little Great-Nephew finally moved into their new home on July 24th, almost two months after they took possession on June 1st. During that interval, they -- well, people they hired and helpful/handy family members, lol -- de-popcorned/de-stippled and painted the ceilings, installed a new kitchen, new built-ins in the family room and new flooring in the upstairs bedrooms, removed some raised garden beds in the backyard, and painted. Their new home is almost an hour north of us :( but both work closer to where we live, and because SIL is taking care of LGN (mostly) at her home, we can/will continue go over there to visit him.)
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Also right now:
Reading: I finished 4 books in July (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
- "Hungry" by Grace Dent (the July pick for the Gateway Women/NoMo book club).
- "Summerhills" by D.E. Stevenson (chapter-by-chapter group read with my DES online fan group).
- "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 -- discussion TBA.)
- "Malibu Rising" by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
This brings me to 38 books read so far in 2021 -- 106% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books (!!). I have now completed my challenge for the year, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 18 (!) books ahead of schedule. :)
- "The Mother of All Dilemmas" by Kathleen Guthrie Woods
- "Emily of New Moon" by L.M. Montgomery (chapter-by-chapter group read with my L.M. Montgomery Readathon Facebook group, as mentioned above).
- "Still Glides the Stream" by D.E. Stevenson (chapter-by-chapter group read with my DES online fan group).
- "The Menopause Manifesto" by Dr. Jen Gunter.
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper and digital formats, mostly discounted or purchased with points):
- "Desiree" by Annemarie Selinko (an old favourite that I read as a teenager).
- "The Daughters of Erietown" by Connie Schultz
- "Motherland" by Maria Hummel
- "The Light of Days" by Judy Batalion
- "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" by Dave Van Ronk
- "I Have Something to Tell You" by Chasten Buttigieg
- "The Paper Palace" by Miranda Cowley Heller
- "The Comfort Book" by Matt Haig
- "Brat" by Andrew McCarthy
Watching: The Tokyo Olympics, of course. :) Not as obsessively as I sometimes do, but I still love watching certain events (e.g., swimming, rowing) and cheering for our Canadians! :) As of this/Sunday morning (our time -- Sunday night Tokyo time), we've won 13 medals -- 3 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze -- all but the last one won by women! :) (After a full week of girl power, the men -- or one man, anyway, Andre DeGrasse in the men's 100 metres -- finally step up, lol.) ;)
Listening: For the second (pandemic) summer in a row, CBC Radio One is broadcasting reruns of the Vinyl Cafe with the late, great Stuart McLean on Sunday mornings. (I wrote last summer about it.) I miss spending Sunday mornings with Stuart, so this is a treat! :)
We mostly listen to the Stingray Classic Rock channel through our cable package, but dh has been tuning into the Seventies channel more often lately... it's been fun rediscovering the songs of my youth, some of which are too mellow or "pop-y" to be heard on the Classic Rock station. (I've even heard some Donny Osmond, Partridge Family and Bay City Rollers! lol) Also gratifying to see how many I can still sing along to!
Eating/Drinking: Besides our usual rotation of favourite takeout choices (pizza, spaghetti rapini agli e olio, rotisserie chicken, chicken fingers and fries), we've been stopping by the supermarket for pizza slices or soup, en route home after a visit with SIL & LGN. A bit a treat and a bit of variety from our usual lunch fare!
We had takeout chicken madeira rigatoni from a favourite restaurant on our 36th wedding anniversary on July 6th (and, as mentioned above, went out for our first gelato of the season, earlier in the afternoon!).(Dh had chocolate, I had the limone/lemon -- our usual favourites.)
And I've enjoyed an occasional glass of iced tea while reading on our balcony, when the weather's been nice (not too hot and/or humid or rainy). :) (Admittedly, that hasn't been too often this summer...! :p )
We had a lovely family birthday dinner out on BIL's balcony last night with the nephews & nieces-in-law (while Little Great-Nephew napped), before it started drizzling: penne with garlic & olive oil for me, lasagna for everyone else; burgers and flank steaks, roasted potatos, corn on the cob and salad. And birthday cake & coffee/tea later for dessert. :)
Buying (besides books, lol): We still haven't ventured out to too many stores yet, even though most are now open again. We went to the bookstore on July 5th, for the first time since March 31st (before the most recent lockdown kicked in), and again on July 27th, as well as the drugstore. And as recounted here (and above), we made our first trip to the mall since March 10th (2020!) on July 20th to get me a new cellphone.
Wearing: (Still) Mostly denim shorts & tank tops, now that the hot, humid weather is here.
Trying: (and mostly failing...!) Not to let the button on my denim shorts rub holes in my T-shirts (grrrr....).
Wanting: More days like Friday, with reasonable temperatures and little or no humidity, when we can keep the balcony door open and let the fresh air in. Much of July here has been either horribly hot & humid, or overcast & humid/rainy (lots of thunderstorm watches and warnings, and a tornado about an hour north of us that destroyed about 70 houses, but thankfully didn't kill anyone), or overcast and poor air quality with smoke from forest fires up north and out west. :(
Thinking about: A trip west to see my parents & sister for (Canadian) Thanksgiving in early October, when my sister has some holiday time booked. We usually go "home" for a week at Christmas and a week or two in the summer, but I have not seen them since Christmas 2019.
Hoping (crossing fingers and knocking on wood...!): That the fourth wave of COVID-19 doesn't materialize, so that we can make that trip home...!
Loving: How our relationship with Little Great-Nephew has evolved over the past 2-3 months: from him hiding shyly behind his nonna/grandmother's legs when he saw us coming in mid-May, to running down the driveway to meet us with a big smile on his face last week. :)
Exploring: The StoryGraph, an alternative site/app to Goodreads that helps you track your reading, which I learned about from By the Brooke. If you do a search, there are a lot of articles out there comparing the two sites and giving the pros & cons of each -- and there are definitely good & bad things about both. You can import your Goodreads data to StoryGraph (although I found that some things did not transfer over, or transfer correctly. For example, StoryGraph says I have only read 34 books to date this year, while I'm at 38 on Goodreads? I suspect my re-reads didn't translate to SG?).
I don't think I'll be switching from Goodreads entirely, because (imperfect as it is) there are still a lot of things I like better about it. Overall, it's probably the more complete site in terms of content and community (for the moment, anyway). (I have a lot of friends that I follow on Goodreads, and I enjoy seeing what they're reading and reading their reviews.) But I do like some of the different ways you can track & analyze your reading on StoryGraph too -- they allow fractional star ratings (something that Goodreads does not offer), and they gave me some reading recommendations that were bang-on (many of them books I've already read but that weren't entered into my Goodreads profile). Right now, I'm happy to enjoy the benefits of both sites/apps on my laptop and cellphone.
Appreciating: How our family includes us and welcomes our involvement in their children's lives (our nephews & Little Great-Nephew). I know not all childless women/couples are so lucky.
Feeling: Glad that it's summer, that we're fully vaccinated and that we can be out and about a little more than we have been, but still cautious (with an increasing sense of foreboding, again...) ...this pandemic is not over yet...!