*(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: September was Month #18 going on 19 (! -- a full year & a half/plus!) 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, never gone back below 200 since then. During September, the daily new case numbers have bounced around between a low of 463 on Sept. 22nd and a high of 944 on Sept. 4th.
Yesterday (Sept. 30th), no COVID-19 stats were released by the provincial government because of our country's new National Day of Truth & Reconciliation holiday. This morning, there were 668 new cases and 11 deaths. 394 of those cases were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 39 were partially vaccinated, and 166 fully vaccinated.
These numbers aren't great -- they're not zero -- but they've been holding fairly steady throughout September -- even as kids returned to school -- and we're all holding our breath that it doesn't get any worse...! I saw some comparative numbers from all the provinces across Canada this morning that put things into perspective. Couldn't find those exact numbers, but here are some that make the same point: as of yesterday, the 7-day rolling average of daily new reported cases per 100,000 people for all of Canada was 11.5 Here in Ontario, it was 4.1. In Manitoba, where my parents & sister live, it's 5.9. But in the hotspot provinces of Alberta & Saskatchewan (west of Manitoba), the respective numbers are 36.8 and 40.2 (!).
As of this morning, 76.9% of all Canadians ( = everyone, including children under 12 who still aren't eligible for the vaccine yet) had received at least one shot, and 70.9% were fully vaccinated. Here in Ontario, 75.7% of the total population have received one dose of vaccine, and 71.0% are now fully vaccinated. (Among adults 18+ in Ontario, those figures are 86.7% and 81.7%, respectively.)
We've been holding at stage 3 of reopening since the beginning of mid-August, because of the surge of new Delta variant cases. Stage 3 reopened indoor dining, movie theatres and casinos, and larger indoor gathering limits were implemented (with mask mandates, social distancing and other limitations still in place). The province did further increase capacity limits for large events such as professional sports games, late in September (conveniently, peak baseball season and the start of hockey & basketball seasons...!). Proof of vaccination/vaccine "passports" kicked in on Sept. 22nd, with proof of vaccination now required at "high-risk" indoor settings such as bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theatres and nightclubs. We're using paper receipts/proof of vaccination right now -- which are, apparently, very easy to manipulate/forge -- but a phone app with a QR code has been promised by Oct. 22nd.
The border reopened on Aug. 9th to fully vaccinated American citizens, and to fully vaccinated people from the rest of the world on Sept. 7th. The U.S. has announced it will reopen to international air travellers in November, but has yet to reopen the land border -- 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 -- with the warmer weather, and both of us fully vaccinated -- we have been out & about a little more recently. 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 6 times -- mostly to spend time with SIL & Little Great-Nephew.
- To the bookstore twice (Sept. 7th & 14th).
- To Canadian Tire (Sept. 13th) to pick up some things for our cottage weekend (resusable water bottles, insulated cooler bag, etc.).
- To the supermarket with dh 2 times (Sept. 15th & 16th) to pick up some things we needed for our forthcoming cottage trip, and some takeout soup for lunch.
- To the gelato shop on Sept. 7th (first day of school hereabouts).
- On a day trip with BIL & SIL & dh to the town of Elora on Sept. 4th, which I wrote about here.
- To Older Nephew's house, an hour north of us, on Saturday, Sept. 11th... dh & BIL (his dad) were helping him drywall the basement ceiling (!), while SIL (his mom) & I wrangled Little Great-Nephew and the dog until LGN's mom/Older Nephew's wife got home from work, mid-afternoon. Both of us were exhausted, but exhilarated, by the time we got home around suppertime.
- To dh's cousin's cottage (with BIL & SIL) for the weekend of Sept. 17th.
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Also right now:
Reading: I finished 4 books in September (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
- "Emily Climbs" by L.M. Montgomery (the second book in the "Emily" trilogy, for my LMM Readathon Facebook group. Our group discussion just began on Sept. 20th -- you are welcome to join us! I will count this book as a re-read when we finish, in mid-December).
- "Still Glides the Stream" by D.E. Stevenson (chapter-by-chapter group read with my DES online fan group).
- "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens (the Gateway Women/NoMo book club pick for September -- long in my TBR pile...!)
- "The Foundling" by Paul Joseph Fronczak & Alex Tresniowski
This brings me to 48 books read so far in 2021 -- 133% 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...!) 22(!) books ahead of schedule. :)
- "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown (a Robert Langdon mystery). I saw an ad recently for a new TV series adaptation of this book -- I believe it's already being aired/streamed in the States, but it starts here on Oct. 11th (on Showcase). I've read & seen the screen adaptations of "The DaVinci Code," "Angels & Demons" and "Inferno" (all with Tom Hanks in the role of Langdon), and mostly enjoyed those, so I'm going to try to finish this one before the show starts.
- "The Menopause Manifesto" by Dr. Jen Gunter.
(Most of my book groups have their next reads plotted out for a few months in advance -- and this is a great place for me to keep track of what I should read next, lol.)
- For my "Clever Name" book club:
- "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig (September -- already read late last year, reviewed here, to be discussed at a Zoom meeting in early October. Not sure if I will re-read (or if I have time to do that!) 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)
- "The Bright Side" by Cathrin Bradbury (January -- already read, reviewed here.)
- "Donna Has Left the Building" by Susan Jane Gilman (February)
- "Equal Justice: My Journey as a Woman, A Soldier, And a Muslim" by Rabia Siddique (March)
- "The Lost Apothecary" by Sarah Penner (April)
- "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb (May)
- For the Gateway Women/NoMo book club:
- "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"
- 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... right when I'll be visiting my parents. I read the book when it first came out, and was I hoping to participate when I first heard about this, but I'll have to see if I can find a quiet corner for an hour (not always an easy thing to do there...!).
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper and digital formats, mostly discounted or purchased with points):
- "Forever Young" by Hayley Mills
- "Recollections of My Non-Existence" by Rebecca Solnit
- "My Ticket to Ride: How I Ran Away to England to Meet the Beatles and Got Rock and Roll Banned in Cleveland (a True Story from 1964)" by Janice Mitchell (how could I resist, with a title like that?? lol)
- "The Man Who Died Twice" by Richard Osman (a sequel to "The Thursday Murder Club," which I absolutely loved!).
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Watching: Lots of interesting viewing this month!
- Videos of webinars that I missed during World Childless Week (all available on the WCW website).
- The results of our federal election on Sept. 20th.
- We caught some (but not all) of Ken Burns's four-part documentary series about "Muhammed Ali" on PBS. (We missed part 2 because we were watching election results, and part 4 because... we forgot, lol.) Burns's docs are always excellent, although I was slightly less interested in this one than some of his other work.
- "Citizen Hearst," a fascinating two-part "American Experience" documentary on PBS about William Randolph Hearst.
- CBC is showing "Downton Abbey" reruns in the afternoon... again!! I think this is the third go-round. We've caught the odd episode or ending, but we're not making a point of watching it all over again.
- "The Lost Sons," a documentary aired on CNN last Sunday night, based on "The Foundling," which I recently read & reviewed here.
- When I was 5 years old and living in a small town in northeastern Saskatchewan, my mother took me to the movies to see "Hold On!" starring the British Invasion band Herman's Hermits. (Before that, she also took me to see The Beatles in "Help!" -- and a few years later, we saw Herman's Hermits again in another movie, "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" -- but I digress.) The Hermits were not the Beatles, and this was no "A Hard Day's Night" (which is generally considered a masterpiece of the genre) -- but then, I didn't actually see "A Hard Day's Night" until I was in my 20s at university. The songs and the (rather contrived) scenes of screaming girls chasing Herman's Hermits around Los Angeles made a huge impression on me, and I asked for -- and got -- a Herman's Hermits album for my 6th birthday in January (which I still have -- one of the few in my collection that I did not turn over to Older Nephew, lol). I've continued to love the band's music throughout my life, and it remains a bucket list item to see Peter Noone (aka "Herman" -- who still tours with a version of the Hermits) one of these days and get him to sign my treasured album. ;) However, I hadn't seen the movie since my mother took me to see it in (gulp!) 1966. Dh noticed it was on TCM recently, and so I watched the whole thing for the first time in... many, many years (cough!). It was as dumb as I expected (lol) -- a relic of a very different time -- but fun to revisit nevertheless.
Listening: I am not really an audiobook listener, but I see that Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters, and before that, Nirvana) has a book coming out next week!! And I was thinking that if ever I was going to listen to an audiobook, this might be a good one to start with. (Probably not if you don't like strong language, though, lol. ;) ) I think he's great. :)
Eating/Trying: (not always succeeding, but trying...!) to watch/reduce my sugar intake since my brush with gout earlier in September, since that's a trigger food. (So are red meat and alcohol, which we only consume a few times a month as it is, and organ meats, which we don't eat at all.)
Drinking: Ditto above re: alcohol, although we don't drink very much these days either -- maybe a glass of wine with dinner a couple of times a month.
Buying (besides books, lol): Not much! We bought an insulated cooler bag, some ice packs to go in it, and a couple of insulated water bottles at Canadian Tire in preparation for our cottage weekend. That's about it.
Wearing: I've been able to wear my denim capris and sandals, and capri yoga pants and bare feet around the house, for most of September, until just recently... but those days are numbered (if not already gone until next spring/summer)...! I had to put on long jeans, socks & shoes for the first time in months while at dh's cousin's cottage two weekends ago (it was pretty chilly there in the evening and early morning!), and I've had to put on socks and/or slippers to wear around the house a few times recently. I know that, generally, any time I spend in my capris past October 1st is a bonus, but I'm still sad to have to put them away...
Definitely not wearing: Shorts, since early in September.
Wanting: My new (bought in July) cellphone -- a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G -- has been pretty good so far... BUT... I did not realize when I got it that it does not have a headphone/earphone jack! I've always used the same basic, simple Sony earphones that I bought years ago at for $15-20 (they probably cost even less these days) to listen to things on both my cellphone and my laptop, and they are fine for my purposes. I don't want to shell out big bucks for wireless earbuds when I already have several pairs of these lying around the house. I understand there is a cheap adapter that I can buy... I just need to get over to Best Buy to see if they have one -- hopefully within the next week or so, before we are scheduled to do some travelling... (see further below). ;)
(I already dropped my new cellphone and cracked the screen -- gulp & eyeroll. Fortunately, it seems to be just the screen protector that's cracked, not the actual screen itself, and it's just a small hairline crack in the lower right-hand corner. I only just started paying for this thing...!)
Noticing: The autumn colours are JUST starting to show themselves here... Hoping: They will not be past their peak by the time we get back home from our upcoming trip (see "Looking forward to," below...!)
Appreciating: All the thoughtful social media posts and news coverage on National Truth & Reconciliation Day yesterday.
Loving: Spending time with Little Great-Nephew. Even when he's (occasionally) throwing a tantrum, he's cute. (And of course, even when he does, it's ultimately not our problem! lol)
Remembering: LGN's parents (Older Nephew & his wife)'s wedding, FIVE years ago today! Time flies!
Feeling: Happy to put the extreme heat & humidity behind us... not quite so happy to have to give up my capris & sandals/bare feet until next spring/summer :( (as I've whined above, lol). Fall itself is generally enjoyable... it's what comes afterward that gives me pause...!
Looking forward to: Seeing my parents and sister VERY soon!! after 651 days (or 21 months & 11 days -- or 1 year, 9 months & 11 days -- in other words, a long time...!)(for me, anyway...!)! In my 60+ years on this planet, I have never gone that long without seeing my family until now. :( There were a few years early in our marriage when we didn't get there during the summer (also during my pregnancy) -- but we always went there for Christmas, and my mother usually came to visit us during her spring break, while she was working.
We will be celebrating (Canadian) Thanksgiving while I'm there. To say I am thankful to (finally!) be going "home" is an understatement!
(Any good tips for air travel during a pandemic??)
Thinking about: What to take/pack? (I am out of practice...! -- although we did get a small trial run with our cottage weekend!)