Monday, October 18, 2021

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends from a visit "home"

(Not exactly a "micro" post, but it's what I've got this Monday...!) 
  • We spent last week visiting my parents in western Canada, for the first time in almost TWO YEARS (since Christmas 2019, pre-pandemic). While we were there, we also celebrated (Canadian) Thanksgiving.  Thankful doesn't even BEGIN to describe how I was feeling!   
    • We had our big Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Monday itself, and then feasted on leftovers for the rest of the week. My sister prepped the turkey and got it into the oven while our mother slept in. I got the stuffing/dressing ready. 
  • As usual, my time online was limited/sporadic while we were there -- so I am waaayyyyy behind on blog reading & commenting, as well as on keeping up with all my social media sites. 
    • It's not that we were terribly busy while we were there (especially with COVID-19 restrictions & precautions in place) but with six people in one small house, there's a lot of noise (not a lot of privacy) and a lot of interruptions. 
  • BIL gave us some N95 masks the week before we left. We tried them on the night before our departure -- but decided not to wear them, even though all the experts advise they are the most effective. They were TIGHT -- I could feel mine digging into my face -- and while I felt like I could breathe in mine fairly well, they smelled, and they felt sweaty. I salute all the hospital workers and others who wear these things all day, every day. I couldn't do it!
    • We double-masked instead, with a standard blue disposable medical mask worn under a cloth mask from Old Navy. We put them on before we entered the airport terminal where we were departing, and didn't take them off again until we left the terminal upon arrival, with the brief exception of when we had to show our faces to the airline staff for identification purposes before boarding. That was more comfortable/do-able, especially for a 2.5 hour flight. Add in time spent in the airports, pre- and post-flights, and we had the masks on for about 5 hours straight. 
    • Masks are mandatory in the airport and on the plane, but you're allowed to remove them when eating and drinking. There were quite a few people around us in the departure lounge who apparently couldn't survive the prospect of a 2.5 hour flight without their Starbucks or Tim Hortons...!  
      • I guess they deserve SOME slack, though, since our flight west left the airport at 8 a.m....!  We were up before 4 a.m. (gulp...!).   
  • The weather was gorgeous the day we arrived, miserable for most of the week we were there (people blamed us for bringing the bad weather!), and gorgeous again the day before we left, lol -- 16C (about 60-61F), sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  We spent a lot of that afternoon outside, helping my dad do some yard & garden cleanup.
  • My parents are now in their early 80s -- and definitely aging. I've noticed it on previous visits, of course, but the gap between visits has emphasized to me that they are slowing down. They both have some mobility issues (my mother uses a cane or walker outside the house and has a tremor in one arm/hand, my dad shuffles more than he walks and his balance is not good), and they REALLY need to get out of their early 1980s split-level house (three levels, with about 8 steps between levels to go up and down) with the big yard to keep up. (*I* found the stairs tough on my already-wonky knees, and I'm 20 years younger than they are!)  My mother in particular is resisting any talk about moving/downsizing, though...! 
  • You will all remember my moaning and groaning about my long, shaggy hair during the time(s) salons were closed over the past 20 months (on & off) because of COVID-19...!  ;)  Let's just say I come by it honestly, lol.  
    • My mother comes from a generation/culture where, as an adult woman, you get your hair done once a week. She's had a weekly appointment for a wash-and-set (or, these days, wash-and-style), wherever we were living, for as long as I can remember -- but that's gone by the wayside during this pandemic. And she's always worn her hair permed (and, until just recently, coloured). 
    • She stopped colouring her hair shortly before our last visit, almost two years ago -- so the mostly grey/white hair was not such a shock to see -- but I can't remember the last time (if there ever WAS a time) I saw my mother without a perm -- and she is MISERABLE about not having one. I had to admit, she did not look entirely like herself (to me, at least). Without it, and especially without her weekly wash-and-style appointment, her hair is now stick-straight and flat. 
    • On top of COVID restrictions/closures, her regular stylist recently retired because of health issues, and her next-favourite stylist (a former neighbour) is on maternity leave.  Another stylist she knows mostly cuts men's hair and has agreed to cut my mom's -- but she won't do perms because the chemicals bother her skin too much (one reason why she generally only does men these days).  
    • So Mom's hair is, at least, neatly trimmed now that the salons are open again, even if it is also grey/white and flat (if only temporarily...!). 
  • My sister had the week off work and was able to spend it all with us. She & her partner picked us up at the airport and dropped us off again when we were returning home. 
  • My sister's partner/boyfriend/common-law husband is a computer techie who sets up and fixes computers for a living. I brought along both my current (HP) laptop and the one it replaced (an ASUS), which died on me last February. Miraculously, he was able to retrieve ALL my data (aside from just five photos).  Not bad, eh??!  He never charges us because we're family. Nevertheless, I left him my old computer to use for parts, etc. -- and Mrs. Santa Claus will be adding a little something extra to his stocking this Christmas...!  
    • He also brought me a portable hard drive (I did pay him for that), and set me up with a program (called SyncToy) that will help me do regular backups more easily. (Lesson learned!!)
    • I have some cleanup to do -- some of the files on my computer are now duplicates or partial duplicates, and some folders need to be combined -- but it's so much more preferable to NOT having the files at all...! 
  • A couple of the neighbours dropped by briefly to say hello -- one stayed at the door and another wore a mask -- and we ventured out to the grocery store a few times -- but we mostly stayed close to home.
  • Mom & Dad live 20 miles away from one of the province's/country's anti-vax/anti-mask hotspots (perhaps not coincidentally, also one of the province's current COVID-19 hotspots too). Normally, we would go there to shop (it's a much bigger town with a small mall, a WalMart and a large supermarket, among other retail outlets) and maybe have some lunch somewhere. Not this time! 
  • We played cards almost every night we were there. Normally, Parents' Neighbours' Daughter (PND) would have joined us, at least a couple of times. She loves to play cards and has played with us from the time she could hold the cards in her hand and count her points. 
    • Unfortunately, a few days before we arrived, one of Older Little Princess's classmates tested positive for COVID-19 (age 10/Grade 5 = too young to be vaccinated). As a close contact, Older Little Princess had to isolate for several days, including part of our time there.  
      • Her isolation time also overlapped with Younger Little Princess's 7th birthday, and so plans for a birthday party gathering with friends had to be postponed. :(  Needless to say, Younger Little Princess was hugely disappointed.
      • We did all drive over there one night with cards & presents, and that seemed to cheer her up. It was a brief drive-by visit -- we stayed in the car & rolled down the windows to chat. 
    • Not only was Older Little Princess a little too close to COVID-19 for comfort, but PND/her mom herself teaches school in the anti-vax/COVID-19 hotspot just down the road that I mentioned above.  
    • PND said she would love to play cards with us, but she would leave it up to us. (I think maybe she still felt a bit sheepish about what happened the last time we saw them...!). My mother was inclined to call her to come over, but both my sister & I felt (reluctantly) that it was better to be safe. I think PND understood. (I think. I hope.)  I hope things will be different/better/safer the next time we're there...! 
  • While we were there, the U.S. government announced they will reopen the land border as of Nov. 8th. My American mother was ecstatic at the thought of making a day trip to her hometown, 20 miles south of the border, for the first time in almost two years, to check out things and visit a few people -- and one of her friends called the next morning, full of plans to head to their favourite casino in northern Minnesota as soon as they could book rooms at the hotel there (!). 
    • Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. Besides meeting vaccination requirements, all visitors to Canada crossing the border from the U.S. -- including returning Canadian citizens -- must present a negative molecular (PCR) test taken within 72 hours of departure. Rapid/antigen tests are not acceptable.  
    • For short trips that are less than 72 hours, Canadian citizens are allowed to do their pre-entry molecular test before they leave Canada. 
    • PCR tests for travel purposes are NOT covered by provincial health insurance (at least, not here in Ontario), and cost approximately $150-200, whether you take the test here in Canada or in the U.S.  That's a lot of money for people on a limited income, like my parents -- especially for a short cross-border visit. 
    • From what I could tell via Google, most private insurance companies will not cover the cost of the test through their supplemental health insurance plans either.  
    • News stories on this subject here and here, fyi. 
  • We got back home last night -- and spent most of today recuperating, lol. Slept in, unpacked and took our suitcases back down to our storage locker, went to the supermarket to stock up on groceries again. 
  • We're both wanting to see Little Great-Nephew, but will probably stay away this week, just to be on the safe side. 
  • We are planning a return visit at Christmastime. (Crossing fingers & toes and knocking wood...!)  My dad wants us to stay through New Year's. We'll see...! 
  • We had to turn on the heat this morning. It wasn't THAT cold in our unit (70F -- we normally keep the temperature around 72F at this time of year), but it was starting to get a little chilly...! 
    • Tomorrow is supposed to be 20C/68F -- one last blast of summery weather to enjoy, before temperatures start to plunge again! 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you had a good time, and got quality time with your parents AND your sister. It's tough seeing your parents age. We live in a house with stairs, and know we need to move before we think we need to move (IYKWIM). As it is my knees creak audibly as I go up the stairs! The thing I've noticed though is that if they don't move when they might be feeling capable (which maybe was a few years ago for your parents?) then the whole task becomes insurmountable for them, without a lot of help or simply necessity (eg hospitals refusing to allow them home if they fall and break a hip or something like that). It's really hard, especially when that has been their home for so long! So I hope your parents let you guys move them soon! (Sorry, none of my business, but it's a hot button for me, and I see friends here struggle with it too.)

    I love that you have such a close relationship with PND, and her kids too.

    Welcome home!