Saturday, January 1, 2022

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.)

This edition comes to you from my parents' home in a small town on the Prairies of western Canada, where a white Christmas is practically guaranteed!  :)  

Pandemic diary/update: December was Month #21 going on #22 of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So -- fourth wave, anyone??  :(  (Or is it the fifth?? I'm starting to lose track...!)  

Sadly, new cases in Ontario (and in other parts of Canada) absolutely skyrocketed during December, as the highly transmissible new Omicron variant took over from Delta. 780 new cases on Dec. 1st was as good/low as it got. Medical experts warned that, even WITH new public health measures and increased vaccination/booster shots, we could see 10,000 cases by Christmas -- and sadly, that's exactly what happened. :(  

By Dec. 23rd, daily new cases reached a new pandemic high of 5,790 (breaking the previous record of 4,800+ set back in April.)  The next day (Christmas Eve), it was 9,751 and on Christmas Day it was 10,412.  (Ho. Ho. Ho. :p  )  The numbers dipped below 10,000 for a few days but were back at 10,436 on Dec. 29th... then reached 13,807 on Dec. 30th and 16,713 yesterday to close out 2021. :(   Positivity rates were 29.8 per cent. 18,445 new cases today to kick off the new year. :(  (By comparison, the November low was 331 new cases on Nov. 2nd;  high was 964 on Nov. 28th.) And the medical authorities are saying this is just the tip of the iceberg;  actual case numbers are likely much higher, because testing sites are swamped and just can't keep up with requests for appointments, let alone processing results in a timely way. The powers that be are now restricting who can get a PCR test (unless you want to pay $180 at a private facility)(!). And meanwhile, our premier hasn't been seen or heard from for a full two weeks. WTAF?!!  As one Globe & Mail columnist wrote, "We’re in the ‘you’re on your own’ stage of the pandemic."  Lovely. :p  

Plans to drop the use of vaccine passports on Jan. 17th were postponed indefinitely by early/mid-December (DUH, and thank goodness for that!! -- many anti-vaxxers were just waiting things out until that date, knowing they'd then be free to go wherever they wanted without needing proof of vaccination). And on Dec. 15th, capacity at large "indoor entertainment venues, meeting/event spaces and large (1,000+ people) sports venues" was capped at 50 per cent (after capacity restrictions were lifted in mid-October). This includes concerts, theatres/cinemas, racing venues, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, as well as casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments, fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals.  But it still took the government another few days, until Dec. 19th, to reintroduce capacity limits  for restaurants & bars and other indoor settings -- even though case levels rose dramatically after limits were lifted in mid-October (and in fact started taking off almost exactly two weeks later, weeks before Omicron was identified... hmmm....).  

Third dose/booster shots began being offered on Dec. 13th to those 50 & older who were at least 168 days past their second shots. Those 18+ were to begin being vaccinated on Jan. 4th -- but on Dec. 15th, that date was moved up to Dec. 20th, and the timeline between second and third shots was compressed to three months. For dh & me, 168 days = Dec. 16th, and we got our boosters that morning at our family dr's office, two days before we flew west to spend Christmas with my family. :)  (This time around it was Pfizer -- we had AstraZeneca for our first shot in April, and Moderna for the second in July, so we have the complete set!  lol)  The province (finally!) started handing out boxes of free rapid tests in a number of public places too (although we weren't around to get any...!).  

Despite the rising case numbers, we were out and about a little more than usual this past month (mostly pre-omicron rise), for a variety of reasons. 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), we dropped off some donations (clothes & books) at Value Village, returned some photo frames (wrong size) to Michaels, went to the bank, and did some Christmas shopping at Chapters (twice) and Shoppers Drug Mart. We returned to our old old/former community on Dec. 11th for haircuts, and (as mentioned above) Dec. 16th for booster shots at our family doctor's office. 

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. Happily, it didn't -- we thought dh might have to stay overnight to deliberate on the verdict, but it was delivered in the early evening hours of Dec. 8th & he arrived home around 8:30 that night. Having served, he won't be considered for jury duty again for another three years. :)  

We all (dh & me, BIL & SIL, both nephews & their wives, and Little Great-Nephew, of course) descended on stepMIL to pay her and her family a pre-Christmas visit on Saturday, Dec. 4th. 

Despite the increasingly gloomy outlook re: Omicron, we flew west to visit my family on Saturday, Dec. 18th, which entailed time spent in both Toronto and Winnipeg airports, as well as on the plane (with everyone masked and vaccinated). Since we arrived here, we've mostly stayed at home (because of the frigid temperatures as well as covid...!).  My sister & I did some shopping at a couple of local stores a few days before Christmas (I was double-masked). 

One of Mom & Dad's neighbours dropped by for a few minutes to say hello, masked and keeping his distance by standing in the entryway. Parent's Neighbours' Daughter came over to play cards with us one evening, soon after we arrived. My mother was not comfortable with having her entire family over during the holidays, but dh, BIL/sister's partner & I made a brief (masked, partly outdoors) visit there on Christmas Day to drop off some presents -- and to admire their adorable new puppy!!  We were going to invite her over to play cards again -- BUT before we had the chance to call, she tested positive on a rapid test, and went for a PCR test on Dec. 30th. :(   We're *fairly* confident that we're OK, thanks to our vaccines/boosters, masks, and the fact that more than 5 days have elapsed and we're all still feeling fine. (Knock wood!)  

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Also right now:  

Reading: I finished 5 books in December (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2021 books"):
I closed out 2021 with a total of 59 books read -- 164% 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 completed & then exceeded my challenge goal for the year by 23 books, 24 books ahead of schedule. :)  

I am increasing my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal to 45 books ( = 3.75 books per month, on average). (See my "Reading year in review" post.)  

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 digital format, mostly discounted or purchased with points):   
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  • We finally got to the end of "The Lost Symbol," the 10-episode TV adaptation of the Dan Brown novel I read earlier in the fall.  To be honest, I think it could (should) have been half as long. The TV writers threw in so many extra (unnecessary, IMHO) characters and subplots that weren't in the book. Poor Langdon was kind of overshadowed in his own story. It was okay -- it started out promisingly, and I enjoyed the Toronto-area locations -- but overall, I wouldn't rate it more than a C or 2.5 stars out of 5. 
  • Not watching:  The Grand Prix figure skating finals in Osaka, Japan, Dec. 9-12. They were cancelled because of Japan's ban on incoming travel (related to the covid omicron variant).  Nationals, Olympics and Worlds coming up in the new year! (unless those get cancelled because of covid too...)  :(  
  • We watched the Grey Cup on Dec. 12th -- the championship game of the Canadian Football League (CFL) -- and the one football game I will watch every year, lol.  This year's game was held in Hamilton, Ontario (after no game was held last year because of covid -- which actually wiped out the entire season altogether), and featured the hometown team (the Tiger-Cats) versus my beloved Winnipeg Blue Bombers. (The Bombers won, in overtime!) 
  • Dh has been watching a lot of NFL and American college football lately -- which I must admit does not interest me in the least. 
    • (The CFL is, at least, Canadian, with its own unique rules and a colourful history, which goes back more than a century -- this was the 108th Grey Cup game. Even dh -- a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan -- thinks the CFL offers a far more exciting game to watch. Yet many people in the Toronto area prefer the NFL, and travel to Buffalo for Bills games, which baffles me. The problem is that without a Toronto team and Toronto fan support, the CFL would find itself in pretty deep financial trouble, possibly even fold -- and that would be a tragedy -- not to mention one more reason for the rest of the country to hate Toronto, lol. )  
Listening:  Christmas/holiday music. And I added a few more music channels to our favourites list while dh was on jury duty, including one for 80s music and another rock channel. :)  

Eating/Drinking: (Still) Trying to be cautious/bland, after a bout of gallstone/digestive issues that began in late October...   :(  When we were still at home, I was eating lots of toast and soda crackers,  chicken soup, chicken, rice and herbal tea. No wine/alcohol, no takeout on Saturday nights, no eggs for Sunday brunch -- for the time being, anyway. :(  

Since being at my parents' house, I've loosened up a little more. My dad cooked up a delicious roast beef dinner, which resulted in some gallstone grief  :(  -- but otherwise, I was able to (mostly) successfully eat pan-fried pickerel, turkey with gravy and stuffing, ham and scalloped potatos, perogies and (tomato sauce-less) cabbage rolls, baked pork chops, eggs, waffles and other good stuff, in moderation/small portions. A few minor twinges here & there, but nothing too notable, thank goodness and continuing to knock wood...! 

Buying (besides books, lol):  
  • Christmas presents! (both online & in store). 
  • A lap desk for my laptop. I already have one at home and bought another one to bring in my suitcase to my parents' house. My mother doesn't like it when we use our laptops at the dining room table, and I am getting too damn old and creaky to sit on the bedroom floor with it in my lap, using a stack of books for a mouse pad. (Yes, I still use a mouse -- don't judge me, lol.)  This will make it easier/more comfortable to use my laptop while sitting on a chair or sofa in the living room or family room. They will be free to use it when I'm not around. :)  
Wearing: I brought an assortment of Old Navy waffle-weave Christmas print PJ tops with me in my suitcase to wear over the Christmas holidays, along with yoga pants. Glad I brought my cardigan and slippers with me -- it has been cold!! 

Wanting:  An end to this pandemic, already!!  

Enjoying:  Lots of games of cards and dominos while at my parents' house. 

Appreciating: Being able to spend Christmas with my family again! 

Noticing:  How much my parents have aged in recent years. :(   

Wondering:  How much longer my parents will be able to stay in their split-level house on the big lot? (And how to persuade them to move sooner vs later, when they might not have any choice??) 

Hoping: To get to the McMichael Gallery (where I have a membership) when we return, to take in the "Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment" exhibit before it closes on Jan. 16th. We haven't been there since just before the pandemic began. There's a Group of Seven centenary exhibit that began just before the pandemic in 2020 (that we haven't seen yet) that's on until March 20th, too. (Perhaps a birthday outing?? -- we'll see what the covid situation is like when we return home... Masks and vaccinations are required, as well as timed tickets, purchased/reserved in advance.

Also hoping: For better things in 2022!  

Loving:  Seeing the sun shining outside (even if it's been around -30C here for the past several days...!)(colder with the wind chill factored in!).  

Feeling:  VERY happy that we got "home" for Christmas with my family. (But also looking forward to returning to our own space soon!)   Less happy about the skyrocketing covid rates right now. :(  

1 comment:

  1. I say it every time, but I do love these regular Right Now posts.

    So much reading! Of your "to-read" post, the only one I've read is the Wally Lamb book. (So long ago that I actually have a hard copy. It was very good, if I recall.)

    You taught me something new - there is such a thing as Canadian Football. I never knew!

    Your "Wondering" entry reminded me of past battles. The really hard thing with elderly parents is that they need to accept they should move before:
    a) they really NEED to (either caused by the house itself - a fall down the stairs for eg - or by another health issue), so don't get the same choices if they did it in a more timely manner, do it under much more stress, and might end up somewhere they wouldn't otherwise have chosen,
    b) something happens to one or the other, and so the one who is left has to do it by themself, and has to adjust to a new place all by themself, which is doubly hard and heart-breaking, and
    c) they delay it so long that pretty much all choices are taken away from them.

    I've seen all scenarios play out, and they are ALL harder than making the decision to go a few years earlier. (Of course, we pointed these things out to my in-laws, and they still ignored us!)

    I cannot imagine -30C. The difference between 0C and 30C is so huge, that the idea of the same difference in heat or cold between 0C and -30C is beyond my comprehension.

    I'm happy you got to go home.