Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Right now

Right now...* 

*(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: November was Month #20 going on #21 of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, after remaining relatively stable during September and October, daily new case numbers started creeping upwards again during the first week of November -- coincidentally?? about two weeks after the provincial government lifted capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos, bingo halls and indoor events spaces (and about three weeks after they were lifted at professional sports venues -- i.e., the Maple Leafs/Senators NHL hockey games, Raptors basketball games and Argonauts/Redblacks/TigerCats Canadian Football League games.) Vaccine passports are in effect for all these venues -- but I'm hearing/reading lots of anecdotal evidence that they are not being checked in many places. The "passports" here in Ontario are also easily forged. Mask mandates are likewise often ignored/not enforced, particularly in large sporting venues. Sigh... And, of course, as the month ended, we started hearing about the ominous-sounding Omicron variant coming out of Africa...! 

(It's not over yet, people...)

The numbers bounced around between/escalated from a low of 331 on Nov. 2nd to a high of 964 on Nov. 28th (out of a population of about 14 million). That's the highest it's been in more than six months, since May 20th. :(  Yesterday, the province reached a grim milestone: 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. That's about 1/3 of the total pandemic deaths in Canada to date. 
As a result of the rising case numbers, the provincial government announced it would put a hold on plans to further lift capacity restrictions on wedding receptions and "high-risk" venues -- nightclubs, strip clubs, sex clubs, bathhouses, etc. (which was supposed to happen on Nov. 15th). But they have not rolled back the capacity increases previously implemented. (Yet?)

Yesterday (Nov. 30th), there were 687 new cases and 3 more deaths. 310 of those cases were confirmed in unvaccinated people, 19 were partially vaccinated and 308 were fully vaccinated. (The data may not match daily COVID case counts because records with a missing or invalid health card number can't be linked.)

Also as of yesterday (Nov. 30th), 76.3% of all Canadians ( = everyone, including children ages 5 to 12, who only just began to be vaccinated last week/during the week of Nov. 22nd) were fully vaccinated. Here in Ontario, 78.8% of the total population have received one dose of vaccine, and 75.7% are now fully vaccinated. Among those over 12, those figures are 89.9% and 86.4%, respectively.  Third dose/booster shots are not yet being widely offered in Ontario, other than for long-term care home residents, immuno-compromised people, etc. -- although that may change in the new year. (Manitoba, my home province, opened them up earlier in November to anyone over 18, so long as it's been at least six months since your second shot.) Vaccine mandates are coming into effect in many workplaces, and people are being suspended or terminated from their jobs for not complying. In most cases, it's not a huge number of people who are refusing to be vaccinated, but sometimes significant enough to create staffing shortages in critical sectors in some areas, such as healthcare and public transit (where staffing numbers are fairly tight anyway). 

We are still staying pretty close to home -- but 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 to visit Little Great-Nephew at BIL & SIL's (4 times, including on his 2nd birthday), we've been out together this month to run errands at the drugstore and the bank (ABM), browse at the local mega-bookstore (3 times), and birthday/Christmas shopping (for LGN and others) at ToysRUs, Carters/Oshkosh, Michaels (craft supplies -- twice), Mark's Work Wearhouse and Reitmans (women's wear). 

We went back to our old community on Friday, Nov. 5th, for flu shots at our family dr's office and for  haircuts. We had a couple of hours to kill in between, and so we visited Katie at the cemetery, browsed at the local mega-bookstore (our old haunt!), and spent about 45 minutes at the mall there for the first time since before the pandemic (and only the second time we'd been to a mall since mid-July, when I went to one near here for a new cellphone)(technically the third, since I had to return the next day to fix an issue with my messaging app...!) I did a quick walk around to see what had changed and what had not, but wound up spending most of my time and money in... the good old dollar store, lol. 

We were back again on Thursday, Nov. 18th to see our family dr about my recent bout(s) of gallstones. (We've put a temporary halt on Saturday night takeout and Sunday morning scrambled eggs, as a result.)(Sigh.)  I had bloodwork done at a nearby lab on Nov. 22nd (all normal), and an abdominal ultrasound yesterday (Nov. 30th -- results still to come). 

Dh went to BIL's on Nov. 19th for an informal get-together with three of the male cousins they were closest to, growing up (including two who were in our wedding party, 36 years ago). They all used to meet and catch up a couple of times a year at a bar or restaurant, pre-covid. This was the first time they'd seen each other since before the pandemic, maybe more than two years. He also went to his aunt's condo nearby on Nov. 27th to help BIL help her move something -- the first time he'd seen her since the pandemic started (although he's spoken with her on the phone). 

We celebrated LGN's birthday at Older Nephew's house on Nov. 20th. 

And -- dh reported for jury duty on Monday (Nov. 29th) -- and was chosen to serve on one! The judge assured him the trial shouldn't last more than two weeks... hopefully so, since we have tickets to fly to Manitoba in less than three weeks! Cross all your crossables for us, please! 

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Also right now:  

Reading: I finished 3 books in November (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
This brings me to 54 books read so far in 2021 -- 150% (!) of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books (!!). (This exceeds my best-ever showing in the Goodreads Challenge since I joined in 2016 -- which was 50 books read in all of 2019.) I have now completed my challenge for the year, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 23 (!) books ahead of schedule. :)

Current read(s): 
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 for me to keep track of what I should read next, lol.) 
A few recently purchased titles (in both paper and digital formats, mostly discounted or purchased with points):  
I also pre-ordered the e-book versions of six D.E. Stevenson titles, most of them long out of print, that are being republished in early January by Furrowed Middlebrow and Dean Street Press (see above for one). Yay!! 

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  • "The Lost Symbol" -- a new TV series adaptation of the Dan Brown novel I read in early October, which started here in Canada on Oct. 11th (on Showcase). We're now up to episode 8 of 9 or 10?  The core plot remains the same as the book -- BUT -- the film version has gone way, WAY off on some major tangents in terms of how it all unfolds... throwing in additional characters and subplots that weren't in the book, etc. (hey, they've got 10 hours to fill, right??), which kind of drags things out a bit (a lot?).  It's become quite a convoluted potboiler -- even more so than the book was -- and pretty eye-rolling in some respects. But I'm sticking it out until the end. I do like the young guy who plays Langdon (although I find he sometimes tends to get overshadowed/diluted by all the other peripheral characters), and it's been fun recognizing some of the local (Toronto & area) locations they've used in filming. (Anyone else watch??) 
  • Grand Prix figure skating (on CBC, NBC and online). The final will take place Dec. 9-12 in Osaka, Japan. January will bring Canadian & U.S. nationals as well as the European championships, and the Winter Olympics are coming up in February (in Beijing), followed by the world championships in late March in Montpellier, France.  
  • Season 3 of "Jann" (starring Canadian singer/songwriter Jann Arden, playing an exaggerated/fictionalized version of herself) ended a few weeks ago, with a hilarious episode involving Michael Buble in lovesick stalker mode (think John Cusack in "Say Anything" and then multiply that). I believe it's available on Hulu in the U.S.? 
  • Reruns of "Get Smart!", a favourite from my childhood in the 1960s, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.  :)  (Did you know Barbara Feldon, a.k.a. the brainy & beautiful Agent 99, does not have children? And she's still around, at age 88!)  
Listening:  I've found a holiday music channel as part of our cable TV subscription. It's been available since the beginning of November, but we only just started listening within the last few days.  

Eating/Drinking: NOT eating/drinking is more like it...!  Trying to be extra-careful/bland after a bout of gallstone/digestive issues earlier this month (and especially so until I could get in to see my family doctor). :(  Lots of toast and soda crackers and chicken soup and chicken and rice and herbal tea. No wine/alcohol, no takeout on Saturday nights, no eggs for Sunday brunch -- for the time being, anyway. :(  I have lost more than 7 pounds since Nov. 1st, and 11 pounds since my heaviest-ever weight at the end of August. But believe me, I would not wish this "diet" on anyone...!

Buying (besides books, lol):  
  • Airplane tickets west to be with my family at Christmastime (as mentioned above). 
  • Some upgraded N95 equivalent masks (recommended by Turia in her comments on this post). We've been mostly wearing cloth masks from Old Navy, and those have been fine for most purposes -- and we do have a box of the blue disposable medical masks as well. (I have a few of those in a Ziploc bag in my purse, as well as a Ziploc bag full in the car, just in case...!) But with new variants lurking around, I figure we could use the extra protection --  particularly when travelling and while dh is on jury duty. 
  • Birthday presents for Little Great-Nephew (including a couple of pairs of Christmas PJs, a Peppa Pig book, a Blues Clues colouring book, and some cash for his piggy bank :)  ).  
  • Some Christmas shopping (both online & in store). (But I need to do more...!)  
  • A gift for the baby daughter of dh's cousin, who lives in Australia and will be visiting her parents here over the Christmas holidays. There's going to be a family gathering/meet the baby party -- but we'll miss it, because we'll be with my family in Manitoba. SIL has agreed to take a gift on our behalf. 
    • I'll be honest, I'm kind of glad we have an excuse (again) -- of course I'd love to see the relatives (it's been a while...!), and even the new baby (she's a cutie!) -- but, hey, there's (still!) a pandemic going on -- so, NOT ALL AT ONCE!!  lol  (Not yet!!)(If everyone shows up -- aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, kids and grandkids -- and I'm sure most of them will -- there will be 40-50 people in attendance!)  Plus, a few of the relatives who will be there have not been vaccinated, so...  
  • A cozy new tuque (Canadian term for a knitted winter hat -- pronounced "tuke" and sometimes spelled "toque" or "touque" -- sorry, Americans, but they are NOT "beanies" and I HATE when people call them that!!) at Reitmans to go with my down "puffer" winter jacket. (Without a pompom on top -- I hate those too, lol.)  
  • Some essential oils from Saje for the holiday season. I went out on a limb and bought a couple of new/limited availability scents, unsmelled. Not sure I like all of then, but I guess I knew that was the risk I was taking! 
  • Restocking some of my skin care products that are running low (mostly Clinique and Estee Lauder), from both online sites and retail stores. 
  • SIL recently had a couple of photos of Little Great-Nephew enlarged and printed off at Wal-Mart (his parents haven't had any professional photos taken of him yet, because of the pandemic) and gave a couple of prints to me, so I went to Michaels recently to buy a few frames for them. Unfortunately, the frames I bought were 8x10 -- and the photos turned out to be 5x7 (!). (I could have sworn they were 8x10...)  We were in the area again on Saturday (Black Friday weekend!) so I made another quick trip inside to get the proper sized frames.  There was a lineup at the checkout, but there were three cash registers open, so it moved along quickly -- and I got 50% off.  Score!  :)  
  • A new electric kettle, as mentioned in yesterday's post. (Still waiting for the email notifying us that it's ready for pick up, though??) 
Wearing: I wore makeup for the first time in at least two years (pre-covid), to LGN's birthday party! (CC cream for foundation, mascara, eyeliner pencil, concealer and blush. I didn't put on any lipstick because I had to wear a mask to get from our unit to the car in the parking garage.)

(Purging: Some of my old/expired makeup, after realizing my mascara was at least two years old, and my CC cream/foundation positively ancient, among other things. (It still didn't LOOK too bad, but...!) I've done this a couple of times in recent years -- after I lost my job and before we moved, and probably another time since then -- and I still have WAY too much. I've gone from wearing makeup five days a week to a handful of times during the year to not at all since covid... I simply don't use it up the way I used to -- if I ever did, lol.)  

Wanting:  A little more certainty around how the next few weeks are going to unfold. Will dh's jury duty end in time for us to take our scheduled flight west for Christmas? Is the new Omicron COVID-19 variant going to spoil our plans at the last minute?  Likewise, are my gallstones going to get in the way of our trip, or our enjoyment of it? I guess there's no way of knowing... 

Enjoying:  The lights of the (pre-lit) Christmas tree. (Even though one section near the bottom is not working, in patches.... grrrrr..... it's only six years old!!) 

(Did you know that pre-lit Christmas trees only last six years, on average?? -- a factoid I stumbled onto while Googling possible fixes. We had our last (non-pre-lit) tree for 17 years, and got rid of it only when we were moving.)  

Appreciating: The days when I'm feeling healthy and my gallstones aren't bothering me. The older I get, the less I take good health for granted...! 

Noticing: For this prompt last month, I wrote, "How much earlier the darkness is setting in... already!  (And it will be darker even faster after we set our clocks back one hour next weekend, too...!)"  Needless to say, this became far more noticeable once the time changed on Nov. 7... and it's just kept getting darker earlier all month long, as we head toward the first official day of winter on Dec. 21st. (Sunrise yesterday was 7:31 a.m. and sunset at 4:45 p.m.)   

Wondering: Whether it's worthwhile doing any Christmas baking? Last year, I did a lot, but I wasn't going home for Christmas (because of covid), and I gave away a lot of it to BIL, SIL and the nephews. This year, we are heading west (knock wood!), and I'll be doing some with my mom & sister once I get there. SIL is borderline diabetic, BIL is trying to lose weight (aren't we all?) -- and I'm trying to watch my diet, if not for my weight then because of my recent run-ins with gallstones. So I'll probably wait to get my baking fix in until I'm home in Manitoba. and indulge selectively while I'm there...! 

Hoping: That dh's jury duty doesn't last too long, and that it doesn't prevent us from going home for Christmas...!  (See: "Wanting," above...!) 

Loving:  Spending time with Little Great-Nephew for at least a few hours, most weeks. We know we are so lucky -- to be retired ( = we have the time to spend with him), to be living nearby, and that his parents and grandparents welcome & encourage our presence in his life. 

Feeling:  Happy when the sun shines, a little more melancholy when it doesn't. Increasingly happy and excited about Christmas. Stressed, when I think about everything that needs to be done over the next 2+ weeks...! -- about the uncertainty surrounding dh's jury duty timeline... about the rising covid case rates and new variants that are starting to circulate :(  ...and about the state of my gallstones. :(  


  1. Forgot to add that -- per my post yesterday -- this post = 5 more posts to to reach 200 in 2021, and 10 more posts to reach 2,000 since I began blogging! :) (I want to keep track!)

  2. I'm so glad you bought some new masks! I just put a set of ear-loop adjusters on mine and the fit is now fabulous.

    Also, so sorry DH was chosen for jury duty. I got the dreaded 'eligibility form' last fall (I think?) and really hope I'm never called up.

  3. We are wanting and enjoying the same things right now. I want some certainty in my life, but I guess I will just enjoy my Xmas tree lights in the meantime!

  4. I need to do another one of these because I am wanting the opposite - hoping it won't get too hot, etc!

    I loved Agent 99, and was always put out that she was the brains, but the show was all about "Get Smart." A feminist from a young age, I was!

    No makeup for two years? You're lucky if you can do it. My face is ruddy (very Irish, I fear), and I've even contemplated getting some laser treatment to reduce the redness. So makeup in the meantime is essential!