*(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: August was Month #17 going on 18 (! -- a full year & a half!) 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 the province of Ontario (population about 14 million) dropped as low as 114 on July 12th -- a level not seen since last Sept. 1st (2020). They remained below 200 for 20 days straight -- but then (sadly) cracked the 200 mark again near the end of July -- and have, unfortunately, continued to climb since then, reaching as many as 835 new cases on Saturday (Aug. 28th). I'm expecting this number will increase even more once school begins here again next week. :(
Yesterday (Aug. 31st), 525 new COVID-19 cases were reported. The province recently began breaking down the number of new cases, hospitalizations and ICU patients in terms of vaccinated status (not, partially or fully). Yesterday, for example, of those 525 new cases, 326 were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 43 were partially vaccinated, and 91 fully vaccinated. (Those numbers don't quite add up to 525? -- perhaps the others were of unknown status? -- but they do give us some idea of what's going on.) There are 336 COVID patients currently hospitalized, including 131 in intensive care, and 93 on ventilators.
So, fully vaccinated people ARE still getting sick, and some are even winding up in the hospital, but in far smaller numbers than the un- or partially vaccinated. (My personal theory -- based solely on anecdotal evidence from conversations with friends and in my social media feeds -- is that many of them are likely the vaccinated parents of unvaccinated kids who have brought the virus home from unmasked playdates, large family gatherings, etc... and school hasn't even started here yet...!) At any rate, it sure makes the case for (a) getting fully vaccinated AND (b) continuing to take precautions -- masks, social distancing, etc.
As of yesterday (Aug. 31st), 73.4% of all Canadians ( = everyone, including children under 12 who still aren't eligible for the vaccine yet) had received at least one shot, and 66.4% were fully vaccinated. Here in Ontario, 72.8% of the total population have received one dose of vaccine, and 66.9% are now fully vaccinated. (Among adults 18+ in Ontario, those figures are 83.6% and 77.3%, respectively.) (Dh & I had our first shots (AstraZeneca) on April 5th, and our second shots (Moderna) on July 1st. And both of our immediate families -- including parents, siblings, nephews & spouses -- are also now fully vaccinated.)
By the beginning of August, we were in stage 3 of reopening, including indoor dining, movie theatres, casinos, and larger indoor gathering limits. However, by mid-August, plans for further reopening were paused, because of the surge of new cases. (As you can imagine, this was a popular decision in some quarters and not so much in others.) Mandatory mask-wearing continues in most indoor and some outdoor public venues (and likely will for some time yet). A few days ago, the provincial government FINALLY announced it would be implementing some form of vaccine "passport"/proof of vaccination system (something supported by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Medical Association, all 34 regional health units, and many municipalities, among other entities, as well as the vast majority of the public. It's also something that's already been implemented in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec).
Earlier this month, the provincial government began mandating vaccines for its own employees, healthcare workers, and others. The federal government recently announced it would mandate vaccinations for federal employees, as well as employees of federally regulated industries and Crown corporations. It will also require vaccinations for all air, rail and cruise ship passengers travelling interprovincially. (That makes me feel MUCH better/safer about flying home to see my parents...!) Many businesses and institutions are also starting to mandate vaccines on their own initiative: for example, not all but most universities and colleges, the five major banks (including my/our former employer), and so on. In some cases (but not all), those who refuse to be vaccinated will be offered the alternative of frequent testing. (In some cases, those who refuse can lose their jobs.)
The border reopened on Aug. 9th to fully vaccinated American citizens, and will reopen 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 U.S. politicians and border communities applied significant pressure on our leaders to reopen, and even though our new case and vaccination rates are (still) so much better than theirs. Go figure... :p
We are still staying pretty close to home, but have taken some tentative baby steps back into the world recently, to take advantage of our full vaccination status and the recently reopened stores, etc., not to mention the summer weather! 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 BIL's 4 times -- mostly to spend time with SIL & Little Great-Nephew. (We go once or twice a week for a couple of hours -- generally mid-morning to lunchtime, as LGN takes a nap in the afternoon.)
- To Staples (for printer ink and pens), Canadian Tire (housewarming present for Older Nephew & his wife), Chapters (bookstore -- also went there on Aug. 10th & 31st) and Carters/Oshkosh (for PJs for LGN), all on Aug. 4th. (When we get out of the house, we get out of the house, lol.)
- To the Lifelabs clinic near our condo on Aug. 5th for bloodwork (after a phone consultation with our family dr about renewing our prescriptions).
- To the gelato shop for a treat on Aug. 10th. :)
- To visit Older Nephew and family in their new home, with BIL & SIL, on Aug. 14th (with a stop en route at the drugstore to pick up a card and a big decorative bow for the gift we'd bought them).
- To see stepMIL and family (on Aug. 21st) for the first time since the weekend before the pandemic was declared in March 2020. Her grandson (who lives with her) was turning 13, and I thought we should go see them and bring him his birthday present -- before he started school in September, with all its germs...! He's had one shot to date but everyone else was double-vaxxed. The kid has shot up in the year & a half since we last saw him -- almost as tall as his dad -- his voice has changed, and his hair has grown long and curly! Yikes!
- To a local hospital/COVID-19 testing site on Monday, Aug. 23rd (with thankfully negative results -- full story here).
- To a salon in our former community for haircuts on Friday, Aug. 27th.
- To the supermarket (after visiting the bookstore) to pick up a few things on Tuesday, Aug. 31st.
We went to visit Katie at the cemetery on Aug. 7th ("Katie's Day" -- and again on the 27th). We did not have contact with anyone else while we were there -- although we did have an annoying encounter with another cemetery visitor! ;)
Dh's youngest cousin on his mom's side (also his godson) was married in a COVID-era wedding on Aug. 21st (postponed from last August, i.e., 2020), with immediate family only attending ( = not us!). They hope to have a family party when COVID finally subsides enough to safely allow it. His sister texted a steady stream of photos to all of the cousins all day long, which was lovely and helped us feel more connected.
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Also right now:
Reading: I finished 6 books in August (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
- "The Mother of All Dilemmas" by Kathleen Guthrie Woods
- "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown
- "How to Pronounce Knife" by Souvankham Thammavongsa (August book for my "Clever Name" book club).
- "The Reckoning" by Mary L. Trump
- "Emily of New Moon" by L.M. Montgomery (counted as a re-read -- chapter-by-chapter group read with my L.M. Montgomery Readathon Facebook group).
- "I Have Something to Tell You" by Chasten Glezman Buttigieg
This brings me to 44 books read so far in 2021 -- 122% 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...!) 21(!) books ahead of schedule. :)
- "Still Glides the Stream" by D.E. Stevenson (chapter-by-chapter group read with my DES online fan group).
- "Emily Climbs" by L.M. Montgomery (for my LMM Readathon Facebook group -- the second in the "Emily" trilogy. Our group discussion starts Sept. 20th -- you are welcome to join us!)
- "The Menopause Manifesto" by Dr. Jen Gunter.
Coming up: (most of my book groups have their next reads plotted out for a few months in advance -- and this is a great place to keep track, lol)
- For my "Clever Name" book club:
- "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig (September -- already read, reviewed here. Not sure if I will re-read or just skim to refresh my memory...)
- "The Radium Girls" by Kate Moore (October)
- "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver (November)
- "Recipe for a Perfect Wife" by Karma Brown (December)
- For the Gateway Women/NoMo book club:
- "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens (September -- long in my TBR pile...!)
- "The Thursday Murder Club" by Richard Osman (October -- already read, reviewed here, but may have to re-read or at least skim to refresh my memory on some of the plot points...!)
- "Widowland" by C.J. Carey (November -- not yet available in Canada in any format, but if that's still the case by November, I can order via Amazon.com in the States and have it shipped here... looks interesting!)
- For my D.E. Stevenson fan group (no set timeframes, but these are the next ones we've agreed to read after we finish the current book, in order):
- "Gerald and Elizabeth"
- "Charlotte Fairlie" (also known as "The Fair Isle" and "Blow the Wind Southerly")
- "House of the Deer"
- "Anna and her Daughters"
- "Sarah Morris Remembers"
- And a Facebook group I belong to for Canadian childless women is going to read and discuss Tracey Cleantis's book "The Next Happy," in mid-October. I read it when it first came out (and, full disclosure, I'm quoted in it, under a different name -- I filled out a questionnaire for Tracey when she was writing the book) -- and I haven't been very active on this particular group -- but I can't resist a good book discussion (especially one related to childlessness), so I'm going to try to participate -- dust off my copy and do a skim-through to refresh my memory, if not a full re-read. I first read the book before I was tracking and formally reviewing my books on Goodreads, but I did write a review for this blog, and adapted it for a review on GR.
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper and digital formats, mostly discounted or purchased with points):
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Watching: The Tokyo Olympics, earlier this month. It was a good Games for Canada! :)
Listening: To the first episode of a new podcast for the childless-not-by-choice community, "Cackle and Shout." It's just 20 minutes long, so have a listen!
Eating: We ordered takeout Chinese food on Katie's Day (Aug. 7th) -- a "tradition" that we haven't strictly followed over the years, but one that began when we arrived home from the hospital 23 years ago, too tired to cook. We hadn't had Chinese in quite a while, and (bonus!) there are always tons of leftovers for another meal later!
Drinking: Cherry juice, which my mother swears helps alleviate her gout.
Trying to get back to eating in a more healthy way, and reform some bad habits that have crept up over the past few months and years:
- Trying to add more potatos & bananas to my diet, after recent bloodwork showed my potassium levels have fallen below normal. (And to eat more fresh fruits & vegetables generally, especially right now when they're in season.)
- Trying to cut back on my sugar intake, after the same bloodwork showed continuing high levels of uric acid -- and after enduring my first bout with gout. :(
- And trying to drink more water (another important element of coping with gout, as well as a good thing to do generally).
Buying (besides books, lol): Not much! Some supplies at Staples (mostly pens, some printer ink, a couple of USB thumb drives...). A vacuum cleaner (housewarming gift for Older Nephew & his wife -- same thing we got Younger Nephew & his wife when they bought their house a few years ago). Some new pajamas for Little Great-Nephew, who is rapidly outgrowing his current ones! (Older Nephew has been measuring him against the wall, and he's grown several inches since the beginning of the year!)
Wearing: (Still) Mostly denim shorts & tank tops -- the weather in August has been mostly very hot and humid (still). Since I haven't been out shopping for fun in a very long time (or online lately either, actually), I haven't bought anything new to wear in months. (Not that I really need anything, as you can tell if you look at my closet...! -- and not that I really have anywhere to wear it right now, either...!)
Noticing: Some of the tree leaves are already starting to turn colour... eeekkkk....
Thinking about/Wondering: Whether we're going to be able to pull off a trip home/west to see my parents and sister in October for (Canadian) Thanksgiving (let alone Christmas). And if we go, whether we should fly or drive? (At Christmastime, no question, we're flying -- no way are we driving through northern Ontario in the middle of winter!) If we're going to fly, we will need to book our tickets fairly soon.
Which is preferable from a COVID-19 point of view -- 2.5 hours stuck in a steel tube with 100-200 other passengers (masked, but still... and I'm not sure the federal government's directive about all passengers being vaccinated will be in effect by then) plus several hours before & after in airport terminals -- or three days/two nights on the road -- just the two of us in the car, of course, but also spending time in hotels, restaurants, gas stations, public washrooms, etc. -- in remote communities where people might not be taking the need for masking and other preventative measures quite as seriously as they should? Hmmm....
Enduring: Our federal election campaign (eyeroll and lol). Appreciating: That (this time around, anyway), the election campaign is just 36 days... which I know sounds short (especially if you're an American, lol) but believe me, it's PLENTY long enough!! (lol) Voting day is Sept. 20th.
Hoping: That the hot, humid weather we've been experiencing doesn't return...! Last week was awful -- but yesterday was much nicer, and we could finally open the balcony door again. (I want to try to get back to walking more regularly again -- but when the humidex is already 30C when you wake up, there's not a whole lot of incentive...!)
Loving: Spending time with Little Great-Nephew, and watching him grow and develop. :)
Looking forward to: A cottage weekend in September with BIL & SIL at dh/BIL's cousin's cottage/lake home. Also feeling a little leery about it (especially given our recent brush with COVID-19) -- but fairly confident they have been careful. (Certainly more so than others in the family...!)
Feeling: A little sad that (another) summer has slipped by in a haze of heat, humidity and (still) trying to avoid COVID-19... grateful for the vaccines that have allowed us a little more quality time with our family (especially Little Great-Nephew)... hopeful that the fall weather will be nicer and that we can pull off a trip west soon!