Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Odds & ends to end the month

  • Update on my last/#MM post and my surgery dates:  as I mentioned to Mali in one of the comments on that post, the opthamologist's office called yesterday afternoon. They didn't see any issue with me having my eye surgery on July 25th as scheduled, if I had gallbladder removal surgery on July 12th. 
    • I was seeing my family doctor today, following up on my recent fall and ambulance trip to the hospital, so I asked him his opinion. He didn't see any reason why I couldn't do both surgeries that close together either, and he encouraged me to go for it. 
    • Of course, when I got home and spoke to the surgeon's office, July 12th was no longer available...!  :(  They offered me July 19th, but that was definitely way too close to my eye surgery on the 25th for my comfort. 
    • So now I am booked for August 15th, three weeks AFTER the eye procedure. I actually feel better doing it in that order, with some time in between to recover. BUT... 
    • ...this timing means I probably won't be heading west to see my family this summer -- AGAIN. This will be the third summer in a row that I've missed going there (the last because of covid, of course) -- and the fourth in the past five years. We also missed a summer 2018 trip, because we were basically on death watch for FIL, who passed away in mid-August after a cancer diagnosis that spring. :(  Summer 2019 is the only one in the past five years when we've made it "home"!  My parents will be disappointed, I know. :(  
    • Theoretically we could go earlier in July, but dh thinks we shouldn't run the added risk of exposure to covid just before the surgeries, which would really throw a monkey wrench into things. :(   I suppose he's right.  We will probably go for a week or two in October around (Canadian) Thanksgiving again instead. My sister has a week off then too. 
  • Bloglovin' was fine earlier this morning, but out (again!) later on. It's finally back up again this evening.      
  • Amid the horror of the TV coverage on the morning after the school massacre in Ulvade, Texas, last week, one small bright spot (for me):  CNN morning news anchor Erica Hill's voice was cracking as she read a social media post from one of the bereaved parents announcing the death of his daughter. Her co-anchor, Jim Sciutto, acknowledged (in words to the effect that) "You can't help but think about your own child." But then!!  To my utter amazement, he then added "Of course, you don't have to be a parent to feel the sadness of this" (words to that effect, anyway). 
    • I just about dropped my cup of tea -- it's not something those of us without children hear or have acknowledged by parents very often -- and it meant a lot to hear it. Thank you, Jim Scuitto!  :)  
  • The New York Times had a story about the parents who are suing their son & his wife for not providing them with a grandchild after six years of marriage (which I previously mentioned in a post here). The grounds are "mental harassment." (!)  
    • Two weeks ago, the initial story I saw said a hearing in the matter was scheduled for Monday (a few days later);  the NYT story (dated Sunday) says an initial hearing on the suit is scheduled for... Monday (i.e.,. yesterday). Either the original hearing was postponed or the Times didn't update the story? I have done some Googling and have not found any coverage of an actual hearing or outcome yet. 
    • The NYT article provides some cultural context around the story that's been missing from the initial coverage I saw. "This is an Indian parent thing," the couple's sympathetic lawyer says. A local shopkeeper says that the case has been the subject of great interest among his clients, and that older people tended to sympathize with the plaintiffs.
    • The NYT story links to a Times of India story that provides further details missing from the coverage I've seen to date. The father says "we decided to get him married" -- "WE," which implies to me that it may have been an arranged marriage. He also says, "My son and daughter-in-law are living in two separate cities because of their jobs, causing us immense pain." Hmmm...
    • I have a LOT of questions. (I'd love to know what the conversations over THAT family dinner table have been like over the past six years...!)  Have the son & DIL actually outright refused to produce grandchildren?  Or they just... haven't procreated? (Yet?)  
      • Perhaps they don't actually want to have children. (Perhaps they didn't even really want to get married, but went ahead with the wedding, just to get their parents off their case?)  
      • Perhaps they do want children, but not right away. Perhaps they have other priorities right now (careers, travel, mortgage?) -- and their timeline differs from their parents'.  
      • And, of course, there's always the distinct possibility that they have actually been trying to have children, without success. (Living and working in two different cities doesn't make it any easier...!) 
    • Most of us here know the pain and stress of being pressured by relatives (however well-meaning) about when we're going to produce a baby.  Infertility is stressful enough without the constant comments and enquiries from family members, which is why so many of us keep any testing and treatment we're doing private. I found it difficult enough to cope with my own anxiety and disappointment and dh's, let alone anyone else's.  I can't fathom the additional stress infertile couples must be under in a highly pronatalist culture like India's. And I certainly can't fathom how awful it must be to have your own parents threatening to SUE you!! ("Produce a grandchild within the next year, or else...!")
    • The son and DIL have not commented to date.  
  • Arthur Brooks offered his thoughts on two ways to keep a midlife crisis at bay in the Atlantic recently. In a nutshell, they are (1) focus on what age has give you, and not what it has taken away (generativity versus stagnation), and (2) choose subtraction, not addition (i.e., focus on paring down your life -- and your stuff -- to focus on yourself and on the things that matter most to you). I thought the article was a little simplistic, but he raised some interesting points. Thoughts? 
  • How can it already be JUNE??  

Monday, May 30, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Juggling

Last Thursday afternoon, I finally got the phone call I've been waiting for: the office of the surgeon who will be removing my gallbladder, asking if I wanted to go ahead with the surgery. (Yes, please.)  They are currently booking surgeries for June, July and August. The first date she offered me was July 12th.  

I had to tell her I am currently scheduled to have eye surgery on July 25th -- 13 days later -- and what was her opinion on having the two surgeries that close together? Would it be better to wait until after that was done, and if so, how long? She told me that recovery time from this surgery varies, but it generally takes two to four weeks. (That would be cutting it kind of close, I think -- in terms of my own comfort, if not any actual impact on the surgery itself.)  She suggested I talk to the opthamologist and get back to her. Sigh. 

I left a message with the opthamologist's office on Thursday afternoon -- but of course (as I knew, based on past experience), it went to voice mail, where the recorded message says calls will be answered within two business days (!) -- i.e., I probably won't hear from them until today or tomorrow. (They haven't called so far.) Meanwhile, I'm worried the surgeon's schedule will fill up and then I'll have to wait for the NEXT block of surgeries to be scheduled for September, October & November. :(  (I did mention in my message that I would like to hear from them ASAP, so that I can finalize my surgery date.)  :( 

I'm also scheduled to see my family doctor on Tuesday (following up on my recent head injury and emergency visit to the hospital), and I plan to ask for his thoughts on the timing and spacing of these surgeries/procedures. I also want to ask him whether he thinks I need to consult my optometrist or opthamologist (again) before the eye surgery, because of the head injury. So far as I can tell, it hasn't affected my vision at all -- but I did have some initial aches & pains behind my eyes/sinuses, and I have a bit of a black eye (on the side/corner of my left eye and eyelid). 

Nothing is ever simple, is it??    

I have a feeling this is not going to be a great summer, undergoing and recovering from two different surgeries (although I want to get both of them over with ASAP). :(   Also in the mix and stressing me out a bit:  I would really like to spend some time with my parents this summer. We could always go in the fall again, of course (for my sister's 60th birthday in September, or Canadian Thanksgiving in October?), but I haven't been there in the summer since 2019. They have a big yard and garden and need a lot more help these days than they used to. My sister & her partner are out there frequently on weekends (and of course they have their own house and yard to look after), but I feel slightly guilty that it all falls on them. Dh thinks we probably shouldn't travel until after I've had and recovered from all of my surgeries, to minimize the risk of coming down with covid (and then having to postpone...!), and I suppose he's right.  

I said to someone recently that none of my recent medical/health issues -- colonoscopy/polyp removal & biopsy, scarred cornea, gallstones, fall/concussion -- are anything really serious/major (and in most cases there's a solution or something I can do to make things better) -- and thank goodness for that! -- but lately it's just been one thing after another after another. 

It takes a toll.  :(  

*** *** *** 

Update on my fall/concussion: The past few days, I've noticed I'm feeling a lot better than I was. I still feel a dull head ache at times, especially on the left side and especially when I first get up in the morning, and if/when I'm overdoing things a bit. But it's certainly better than it was at this time last week. The gash site/abrasion on my scalp has scabbed over. I'm still being very careful when I wash & comb my hair (and probably will have to be for a while).  My more visible scrapes and bruises (on my left ankle & calf, hip/thigh, elbow and shoulder) are still there and still noticeable, particularly the bruise on/around my left eye, which has turned a rather alarming shade of black & purple. But it's not hugely noticeable, especially at first glance (you might almost think I was wearing dark eye shadow in the crease, lol). 

I feel very, very lucky! 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Saturday, May 28, 2022

"The Golden Road" by L.M. Montgomery

I recently noted

(...Following the conclusion of our recent discussion of "The Story Girl," the LMM [L.M. Montgomery] Readathon group on Facebook I've been part of for the past two years is on hiatus. The organizers promised to keep the group going as long as the pandemic lasted... I don't think they ever imagined it going into Year #3 (we've covered seven Montgomery books to date)..! One of the organizers is stepping back due to other commitments, and if the group is to continue, volunteers will be needed. Decisions/future plans will be announced soon...) 

We've since learned that the group WILL continue (yay!), but the next read has yet to be announced.  My fingers are crossed that a future read (if not the very next one) will be the sequel to "The Story Girl," "The Golden Road," which was first published in 1913. While waiting to learn about the fate of the Facebook group, I decided I might as well (re)read "The Golden Road" myself, while "The Story Girl," its characters and plots, were still fresh in my mind. 

First, a personal story:  I actually read "The Golden Road" before "The Story Girl." Like many, I discovered Montgomery through "Anne of Green Gables," when I was about 8 years old, and read many of the Anne sequels before I turned to some of her other works. The timeline is a little fuzzy, but sometime in the early 1970s, my family took a road trip back to the two places we'd lived in Saskatchewan to visit friends. In one town where we had lived, we stayed with the retired (childless, spinster) schoolteacher who had "adopted" our young family when we'd lived there. (I wrote about her -- "Miss A." -- in this 2013 post about my "other mothers.") She knew I loved to read, and we must have discussed books, because she handed me a volume from her shelf and suggested I might want to look at it while I was there. 

It was "The Golden Road" (possibly a first edition, from what I remember of the cover) -- a Montgomery book I hadn't read yet. Not only that, she said that the author was her cousin!  I always thought Miss A. (like Lucy Maud Montgomery) was born in Prince Edward Island;  years later, I learned she was actually born in Saskatchewan, but her parents were from there. I am not sure of the relationship, because none of the names I've uncovered from her family tree match any of the names I've heard in connection with Montgomery's genealogy.  Anyway, that's how I first came to read "The Golden Road," and ahead of "The Story Girl," too. :) 

*** *** *** 

"The Golden Road" picks up almost immediately where "The Story Girl' left off, continuing the adventures of the King cousins and their friends on the family farm near the fictional town of Carlisle, Prince Edward Island, for almost another full year. Like "The Story Girl," there's not any central plot, just a string of episodes focused on the cousins' adventures and characters and family life, with some storytelling from the Story Girl thrown in for their (and our) entertainment, as well as entries from the family magazine the children write together. Peg Bowen, the local "witch," makes a couple of memorable appearances, figuring somewhat more prominently in this book than in the last, and the mystery of Jasper Dale, "the Awkward Man," is finally resolved. All the elements are skillfully woven together, and over the course of the two books, we come to know and care about these characters, as they (inevitably) face leaving the "golden road" of childhood behind them.  

I won't spoil the ending, except to say that the last five or six chapters build to an emotional climax that had me reaching for kleenex. 

There is part of me that thinks this book is slightly superior to "The Story Girl." But I'm giving it the same rating: 4 stars on Goodreads.  

This was Book #25 read to date in 2022 (and Book #3 finished in May), bringing me to 56% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 7 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Odds & ends

  • Blog housekeeping:  I've updated my Book List of recommended/relevant reads (at the top of the home page, just under the nameplate/header). I hadn't done that since I created it, more than a year ago. (oops!) 
  • I started drafting this post last week, before my recent (*cough*/eyeroll) "incident." Thanks to those of you who commented on my last post, or reached out in concern elsewhere. <3 
    • Still feeling tired today, and the left side of my face is still a bit swollen/puffy, especially under my left eye, although it's better than it was yesterday.  It's also yellowing under my left eye. Guess I'm going to have a shiner there...?! 
    • My family doctor's office called this morning. I won't be able to see him until NEXT Tuesday. Sigh. 
    • I removed the dressing/bandages and washed my hair this morning, for the first time since Friday (rinsing out the dried-up blood, but being very careful around the wound area/scab). Ahhhh...!! 
  • My weekend was already eventful to begin with, because of what happened to me on Friday (see above). Then Saturday afternoon, a huge, destructive storm rolled across a wide swath of the province. 
    • They're calling it a "derecho," similar to the one that walloped Iowa in August 2020, and "one of the most destructive and widespread ‘derecho’ squall lines in Ontario’s modern history" They're investigating whether there were also tornados. 
    • Today, three days later, the death count stands at 10. More than 150,000 homes are still without power, and some schools are closed. In Ottawa, more than 187 hydro poles were down, which "not only exceeds the number the city traditionally puts down in a year but also tops the number felled during the 1998 ice storm and 2018 tornado." (Source
    • I have several weather apps on my phone, and there had been warnings on Friday and earlier that morning of a dangerous storm moving into the area. Then just before 1 p.m., we got alerts on our cellphones through the emergency warning system, similar to the ones we get for Amber Alerts -- very loud, you can't miss them! 
    • It was getting increasingly dark outside -- and then the wind picked up. It was coming from the west, and we face north, so we were partially sheltered, but we had an amazing view from our windows (although I was prepared to dive in the closet if it looked like things were turning even more nasty...!). This being a long weekend (generally regarded as the kickoff to summer), a lot of people had just set out their patio furniture, and we saw what was probably a big patio umbrella go flying by from one end of our view to the other at top speed. Wind gusts in some areas measured 120-130 kilometres per hour. (That's 75-80 miles per hour.)
    • Our power flickered briefly but did not go out -- thank goodness! Others not too far away from us were not so lucky. I have friends in the Ottawa area who went more than 24 hours without power -- and last I heard (last night), some of them still didn't have their power back. 
  • I recently told my mother that I won't be able to come home for the family reunion in Minnesota in late July, because I'll be having my eye surgery a few days earlier on July 25th (plus I'm still waiting for my gallbladder removal surgery to be scheduled). I was bracing myself for an argument ("can't you reschedule?") -- but surprisingly, she didn't say a word.  ;)  
  • Speaking of aging parents: the Globe & Mail had an article this weekend ("The great junk transfer is coming") about dealing with our parents' "stuff" (including a companion article with tips!). As the child of two aging parents in an overstuffed house, I can relate...!  
    • Of course, articles like this always make me think about my own things -- and make me VERY glad that we've had at least one preliminary round of downsizing and getting rid of stuff before we moved into our condo six years ago!
    • As a childless person, of course, I won't have any kids to deal with whatever mess I leave behind me. (And once you're gone, of course -- kids or no kids -- it's all completely out of your hands.) 
    • It's bad enough leaving your kids to deal with it all, I suppose -- but in our case, it will probably be our nephews (who will also be dealing with their parents' & in-laws' estates).  And so I feel kind of obligated to try to leave things in at least some sort of order...  
  • I was drafting a post (for the future) that mentions a long-ago visit to friends in Saskatchewan, where we lived for six years in the 1960s, when I was kid. That got me reminiscing, and then Googling a few people, including my best friend from those days. Up popped an obituary for her mother, who just passed away in March at age 91. What a blast from the past! -- as well as a few surprises. I had no idea this woman & her husband had lost a child -- an infant son, likely early on in their marriage (named in the "predeceased by..." section). (They had four other children.)  I wonder whether my friend always knew this, or found out about it later in life? 
    • I also Googled a couple of my old teachers. I found a 2018 obituary for my Grade 1 teacher's husband, which made me sad. I didn't know him, but I remember devoting a Friday afternoon art class to making flowers out of kleenex to decorate their wedding car (does anyone still decorate wedding cars??)(let alone with kleenex flowers??  lol). I also found a 2020 obituary for my Grade 2 teacher's husband, which mentioned he was predeceased by his wife. :(  He was 77, so she couldn't have been any older than that. :(  
  • I noticed a while back that an older woman (in her mid-70s, a lovely artist) that I "know" from one of my (non-ALI) online groups, who had "friended" me on social media, had been silent/absent online for quite some time. She'd been dealing with/recovering from some health issues but was doing well -- and then, she came down with covid. :(  This was fall 2020, pre-vaccines. Since then, all her accounts have been silent, aside from occasional enquiries from friends asking how she was doing. Last week, we learned that she's been dealing with long covid and has significant cognitive impairment. She is well cared for, but she is not the same person she once was. Damn covid!! :(  
  • The Walrus (a Canadian magazine) recently profiled Sarah Polley and her new book, "Run Toward the Danger," (which I LOVED, and reviewed here).  I was particularly struck by this passage, midway through the article: 
THERE’S A THING THAT HAPPENS, Polley has found, with people who haven’t experienced much trauma. They have this idea that anyone who has been through the wringer is damaged, that they can’t move forward, that brokenness becomes part of them. “I think I’m finally articulating to myself that, unless you’ve experienced and had to process trauma, I don’t know if you’re whole,” she says. “I don’t think people should look for trauma! But, if it happens, I don’t think it’s a harbinger of permanent damage. I think that, if a person has processed it in any meaningful way, it might make them more fully human, more capable, and on their way to becoming more whole.”
  • I caught up on a couple of recent episodes of New Legacy Radio, with some fascinating in-depth discussions I'm still thinking about:  
    • Donna Ward, Australian author of "She I Dare Not Name" (reviewed here), talked about how single/childless women are included and supported (or not) in public policy and in  crisis situations (such as covid and other health emergencies). (Who gets priority? Is it "women AND children first," or "women WITH children"?? -- think about it!) 
    • Rhodes Perry, author of "Belonging at Work" and "Imagine Belonging," talked about what it means to "belong," and how to build more inclusive workplaces. 
  • Sarah Roberts of The Empty Cradle delivered an impressive, groundbreaking Zoom presentation for the Diversity Council of Australia before a registered audience of 600 (!) people from across the Australian corporate sector, state and federal governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGO) sector.  (And following Sarah's presentation, she and fellow Australians Judy Graham of WomenHood Counselling, Michael Hughes of The Full Stop Podcast and Clan of Brothers, and Liz Campbell of Redefining My Plan A, answered questions in a panel discussion.) The material Sarah presented will be familiar to many of us -- but of course, we were not her intended audience. I can only imagine the impact she made on 600 people who, for the most part, have likely never given us and our concerns much (if any) thought, let alone considered us worthy of inclusion as a diversity group on par with others long established. (Have a look at some of the comments/reviews on the DCA event page!) May there be many more presentations like this one!! (around the world and not just in Australia!) Please watch, and (if you're feeling brave), share!   

Monday, May 23, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Just call me Superklutz :p

It's the Victoria Day holiday long weekend here in Canada -- our unofficial kickoff to summer (even though summer isn't officially until mid-June, and schools here don't let out until mid/late June).  It has been... interesting, and certainly not at all what I had planned or expected.  

The long story short (shortER? -- despite the #MM tag, this is NOT a "microblog" post, lol): I was at the zoo on Friday with dh, BIL, SIL, Little Great-Nephew, his mom (Older Nephew's Wife), her cousin and her baby.  And I took a tumble down some stairs outside a cafe there.  :(  Went in to buy some water and snacks -- we were all getting hungry & thirsty, and we'd been walking for hours -- and it was SO hot & crowded inside, and a very long wait in line. 

Came outside in the bright sunshine, looking around for everyone -- took off my mask -- and then either tripped or missed a step -- and down I went. Banged myself up good, including bruises and scrapes on my left ankle, elbow and shoulder, and a gash on the upper left side of my head. 

There was blood. :(  

I am VERY lucky -- there was a first aid station right near where I fell, and the medics were there in minutes. They tried to stabilize me enough so that dh could drive me to the closest hospital, but I felt woozy every time they tried to sit me up. So I got sent to a local hospital in an ambulance (my first -- and hopefully my LAST!! -- ambulance ride ever!). They did a CT scan there, which was clear, and ultimately decided I didn't even need stitches. It's about a 1 cm (1/2 inch) gash, and they just cleaned it up, put a cotton pad and some polysporin on it and wound some gauze around my head to keep it in place before sending me home. (They also gave me a tetanus shot.) Dh changed the dressing yesterday (I think he did an even better job than the ER doctor did, frankly...!) and the bleeding seemed to have stopped, but I still have it on for now. I've been sleeping with a towel spread atop my pillowcase as an extra precaution/attempt not to get blood on my (nice, newly bought! WHITE!!) sheets.

Of course it is a long weekend here. Normally, my family doctor's office is open on Saturdays and Mondays, but I won't be able to see/follow up with him (or someone else there) until at least tomorrow. :(  I left a message on their voice mail, so hopefully I will be able to get an appointment later tomorrow.  I have had concussions/bangs to the head before and this has been pretty mild thus far, comparatively speaking -- just some occasional twinges at the gash site and low-level head/sinus aches (especially if I'm tired), and especially on Saturday. 

However, the left side of my face, including the area under my left eye, swelled up overnight Saturday/Sunday -- and it's still pretty puffy today. I've been taking ibuprofen and applying ice every few hours to try to bring it down a bit. The ER doctor warned me to take it easy for a few days -- not too much screen time (TV, phone, laptop, etc.) -- so if I'm not around the blogworld or social media much for the next while, you'll know why...!  I've been off my laptop since Thursday night, although I have been on my phone on & off. I can tell I'm overdoing it when I start getting tired or my head starts aching a little more.

*** *** *** 

We were having a pretty good time until this happened. Disappointingly, a lot of the zoo animals were not on display, for various reasons, including to limit transmission of both covid and avian flu (!) -- and others were taking naps or hiding out -- but it was fun being out with LGN and taking photos. The zoo is not far from where we used to live, but we hadn't been there in more than 30 years, since LGN's dad (Older Nephew) was not quite two years old. It's a HUGE zoo -- more than 10 kilometres/6 miles of trails -- and we did a LOT of walking, including up a very long gradual hill/incline near the cafe where we stopped. I was huffing & puffing by the time we reached the top, and even felt a bit queasy at one point (and of course we've been in mostly couch potato mode during covid...!). The day started out cool (we got there around 10:30 a.m.), but it was getting warmer, and the sun was quite hot. We'd had breakfast around 7 -- I had a muffin when we stopped at Tim Hortons kiosk earlier in the morning, and I'd brought a bottle of water in my purse -- but it was almost gone and I was dying for a nice cold new bottle, and I was getting hungry too. So around 1:30, I went inside the cafe/food pavilion with Older Nephew's Wife (ONW) and her cousin (who also wanted some food) while the others waited outside. It was HOT and stuffy and crowded in there, and only about half the people (or less) were wearing masks, which made me nervous. I had a cloth mask on (put it on whenever we went in a building), but it was all damp from my sweat. And the service was VERY slow -- it took forever to get to the order window, and then again to actually get our stuff. 

I got my stuff ahead of ONW, and headed out the first door I saw (there were a couple of entrances/exits). I came outside at the top of a broad set of steps -- there were railings/bannisters on either side, I think, but I was right in the middle. I whipped off my mask. It was bright sunlight, and I looked around to get my bearings and saw the others off in the distance to my right. 

I'm not sure what happened next... I took a step forward -- and either missed the step, or maybe I tripped over my sandal? Anyway, down I went. :(  Next thing I know, I'm laying there with my leg against the concrete step, staring up at the sky with people gathering around me. My glasses were gone (so I couldn't see much more than what was directly above me, and not altogether clearly...!), and I didn't know where my purse was. 

As I said, the first aid team was there very quickly, slapping a blood pressure cuff and pulse oximeter on me, putting ice and cotton on the gash site to absorb the blood, and talking to me -- both to get information and (I'm sure) to make sure I stayed conscious and judge whether I was alert & coherent. (I was.) I told them my family was just over there, dh's name and description, and I heard people calling out his name. Eventually they found him, and he rushed over and held my hand while they worked on me (and collected my purse and glasses). SIL came over & gave me her sunglasses, because the sun was glaring in my eyes -- and even LGN wandered over and looked down at me with (I will never forget this detail!) a peanut butter sandwich in his hand (lol).  I was told later that all the way home, he kept repeating, "Loribeth fall down! Hit head!" and it was the first thing he said to Older Nephew when he got home that night. I just hope he wasn't too traumatized...!  :(  

My vitals were all good -- although they dropped a bit when they tried to sit me up. The idea was they'd try to get me into their cart and take dh & me to our car in the parking lot, and then he could take me to the hospital. All I could think was dh would never find his way there himself -- I'm always the navigator! (lol) -- and I didn't think I was up to navigating just then.  But whenever they tried to sit me up, I would start feeling like I was fading out. :( 

So -- they called an ambulance. (I will probably get billed for that, although I think my medical plan will cover at least part of it? Otherwise, the only cost to us was $14 for hospital parking.)  I thought dh was going to come with me, but he wasn't allowed. But I knew he would come to the hospital and find me there. They said I'd need my health card, and I told dh where to find it in my wallet (as well as the parking ticket so he could get out of the zoo parking lot!). They put one of those collars on me to stabilize my neck as a precaution and loaded me up in back. All I had with me was my health card and SIL sunglasses!!  No glasses (and staring straight up, so I couldn't see very much...!), no phone, no purse. Very weird feeling. 

It wasn't very far, and the guy in the back with me was so nice -- kept chatting to me and taking my vitals. He put a mask on me and asked if I'd been vaccinated for covid. We got there around 3, I think? and had to wait for a while in a long hallway crowded with other patients on stretchers and ambulance personnel, until a nurse finally came to take my info and admit me. (The ambulance guy cracked, "Yeah, she was at the zoo... got chased by a polar bear... or was it a jaguar?" I said, "Make it a polar bear -- I'm from Manitoba," lol.)(Churchill, in northern Manitoba, is known as "the polar bear capital of the world.") Meanwhile, the ambulance guy went out a couple of times to see if he could see dh anywhere -- and found him!  I'm not sure he was supposed to be there, but thankfully nobody kicked him out.  ;)  They finally put me in a room, and a dr finally came to assess me and send me for a CT scan (which took all of about 20 minutes from the time I left the room until the time I got back). He came back to tell us the results were clear, and that they didn't think stitches would be necessary (whew!). 

Another young dr came to administer the tetanus shot, clean up and dress my wound and give us further instructions. He told me to leave the dressing on at least overnight, and gave dh some extra pads and gauze and tape, in case it needed changing. I asked him if I could take a shower when we got home (because I was feeling sweaty & filthy even before this happened...!) and he said I shouldn't get the dressing wet while the wound was still fresh -- so I said, "What I wore a shower cap?" and he said okay to that -- so dh went to the drugstore and got me one when we got home (left the hospital around 7 and got home around 8 -- about 4 hours there total, which is not at all bad, especially with covid still around, and a long weekend). I felt SO much better after that that -- and some food & water. (I STILL haven't washed my hair yet -- not looking forward to trying to get the dried-up blood out of it...!) 

*** *** *** 

So it's been a pretty weird weekend. I've been trying to take it easy. Listening to a lot of music on the 70s music channel -- very mellow and soothing, lol.  This is the first I've been on my laptop since Thursday night. Promised dh I wouldn't overdo it ;) and trying to keep my word (and probably failing...!).  

I feel very, VERY lucky (it could have been SO much worse!!).  It's easier to dust yourself off and bounce back from something like this when you're 31 or 41, instead of 61...!  :(  

But I also feel like a total klutz. 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The old order changeth... :(

I stopped in my tracks when someone shared this headline (from the New York Post) on Facebook today: "People’s print magazine faces possible closure amid newsroom chaos: sources."

I suppose it's not entirely surprising... it's (sadly) the way of the world these days, isn't it? :( But I remember when People magazine first began in the mid-1970s. It was a trailblazer that quickly became iconic. I'll admit I haven't read it much lately -- mainly because I don't recognize half the people on its covers any more (!), and I don't like the way it seem to have gone "tabloid" in its look and headlines in recent years. But I ALWAYS bought the year-end issue to read on the plane to Manitoba at Christmastime.

Then I read the article. And had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I saw this [emphasis mine]:
Staffers at People — a 48-year-old fixture in grocery checkout lines, beauty salons and doctor’s offices known for its “Sexiest Man Alive” cover — are bracing for the magazine to go online-only after Dotdash Meredith, a unit of billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC, shuttered a slew of print publications, sources close to the situation said. Those include Entertainment Weekly and the fashion glossy InStyle, which once oozed profit and was thick with advertising pages.

I've been a loyal Entertainment Weekly reader right from the very first issue in 1990 (and I still have that one in a plastic bin in our storage locker -- one of the few old magazines I'd saved that survived the pre-condo move purge). I've mentioned it on this blog and sung its praises here many times over the years -- here in particular, in a list of my favourite things. EW was the one magazine I never wanted to miss an issue of (and I rarely did!). I used to pick up the latest weekly edition (at lunchtime on Thursdays, when all the new magazines would hit the newsstand in the concourse of the downtown office tower where I worked) and then devour it on the commuter train ride home that night. Once I lost my job and stopped working downtown, I couldn't always find it out in the suburbs (or at least easily, or in a timely way), so I became a subscriber to make sure I didn't miss an issue. (I did away with many of my magazine subscriptions as a cost-cutting measure when I lost my job and wasn't certain how this retirement thing might work out, financially -- EW is the only new one I think I actually added!) It's lost that "must read NOW" status since it cut back to a monthly publication a few years ago (and I guess the writing was on the wall then...), but I still enjoy it. (Enjoyed.) Sigh. :(

Apparently this announcement happened back in February -- but needless to say, it came as news to me. I'm a subscriber to the print version of EW, and I have received absolutely NO notification this was happening (let alone any refunds on any remaining issues in my subscription...!). There is no mention of it on the EW website (unless you hit the "subscribe" button -- then you get a notification that an Entertainment Weekly magazine subscription is "No Longer Available." When I logged into the website and hit "Manage my Subscription" under my profile, I was sent to a page that said:
Unfortunately this title is no longer being published, so there have been some changes made to the site you are trying to reach. If you have any questions about your subscription, or you would like to cancel and receive a refund — please find the email address that correlates with your subscription title below to send a message with your request. Note: Please make sure to include your billing address in your message.
I did receive an issue for April (which I haven't read yet), and apparently that is the final one. :(
I did a bit of Googling and found an article from another subscriber who's less than enthralled about the lack of communication from the publisher. (Apparently there is a mention of the demise of the print edition in the April issue -- buried within a story that's buried way in the back of the magazine.)
The only clue that Entertainment Weekly was pulling the plug on the printing press was buried deep in a story in the back one-third of the April issue, a nostalgic look at magazine covers since the debut edition, which featured the visage of musician k.d. lang (lack of capitalization of a proper name her idea, not mine).
After pontificating about the “seismic changes” in the entertainment industry resulting from new technologies, the two-paragraph kiss-off to subscribers included this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bombshell: “But oh, did we have fun — and we’ll continue to, as the brand moves fully online after this final print issue.”
This is the point at which I spat coffee out of my mouth, stammering like the Frank Constanza from “Seinfeld.” Wait? What! Why? Say it isn’t so. And I am now able to report that the worst part of waking up is Folger’s on your crotch."
As of April 2nd, he'd requested a refund, but had yet to receive one.

He echoed many of my own reasons for loving the magazine:
Over the years, the magazine helped me keep up-to-date on pop culture and my thumb on the pulse of the zeitgeist (a word I first saw in Entertainment Weekly, and had to go look it up…in an actual dictionary, rather than simply Google it). At local brewery trivia nights, I would often surprise and impress my teammates with answers to questions about TV shows I had not watched, movies I had not seen, music I had not heard and books I had not read. The magazine’s insider information helped me win office Oscar pools [me too!] and pick winners of the Emmy and Grammy awards. And, as I became a parent of young children, it gave valuable advice on what entertainment products were suitable for certain age groups. [Not applicable here, obviously, but I thought it was a valuable feature for people with kids.]

Benjamin Svetky, a former EW writer, also sang the praises of EW and its impact in an obituary/appreciation for the magazine that's worth reading. (Closing quote: "EW’s final grade? That’d be an A.")

Among the other print magazines shuttered at the same time as EW:  InStyle (which I also used to enjoy occasionally), and Parents, which has been around since 1926!  

I still subscribe to Creative Scrapbooker, a Canadian-based scrapbooking magazine (talk about endangered species...! -- I went to the website to the get the link for this post, and was confronted with a headline demanding, "Hold it! Read it! Love it!" Yikes!), as well as Canadian Living and Style at Home (a Canadian home & design publication). I like to think I'm supporting homegrown, as well as the magazine industry generally. I will admit, I don't pounce on them to read immediately the way I once did, when they arrive in my mailbox. Too many other distractions these days...! But still...

Did/do you read EW and/or People? Do you still have any print magazine subscriptions?

Monday, May 16, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Now it makes sense...!

Now it makes sense!

As I mentioned in a post on Saturday, dh & I happily spent a few hours on Friday afternoon at Older Nephew's house, watching/entertaining/being entertained by Little Great-Nephew, while his mom had a job interview on Zoom. (She got the job!) 

Before we went, BIL told dh that Older Nephew wanted us to stay for dinner -- I think he was planning to get takeout on his way home from work -- and several times, he reiterated, "Make sure you stay for dinner!"  

But by the time ON's wife finished her call, it was about 3:45 p.m., and Older Nephew wasn't due back home until after 5. Dh was tired after running around after LGN all afternoon in the early summer heat, and even though the wife reiterated the dinner invitation, he decided we should go. 

On our way back home, Older Nephew's Wife texted us she had been hired!... at the same time, BIL & SIL called us to tell us the same thing too. BIL also berated dh: "Why didn't you stay for dinner??" When he called to thank us, Older Nephew also asked why we hadn't stayed for dinner. Dh told him to put the money he would have spent on us into LGN's piggy bank. 

Saturday, dh tried calling BIL several times, at home and on his cellphone. No answer. BIL called him back later that evening. I don't know if their whereabouts was meant to be kept a secret -- but BIL can't keep a secret to save his life. ;) 

Turns out they'd been up at Older Nephew's house -- with Younger Nephew & his wife, Older Nephew's Wife's mother and her partner (and possibly her brother too), for a belated Mother's Day celebration. Also a belated 30th birthday celebration for both Older & Younger Nephews' wives (who were born on the same day, same year, and married brothers -- what are the odds, right?).  

THAT explains why they didn't do anything last weekend for the girls' birthdays or MDay (which I thought was rather odd), and also why BIL kept insisting we should stay for dinner at Older Nephew's on Friday night. He knew we weren't invited on Saturday, and he felt less guilty, thinking we'd be there to spend time with LGN and to have dinner the night before..! NOW it all makes sense. 

We don't expect to be invited/included all the time -- especially on an occasion like MDay. (Frankly, I'd prefer NOT to be around when parenthood is being celebrated! -- right?)  They deserve to have some time together as a family unit. When I think about it, it's the secrecy and tiptoeing around us that bothers me, more than not being invited/not being told honestly about what they were doing. 

It was just one of those awkward childless moments -- being the odd ones out, the only ones who don't have any other family around (not even my own family of origin), especially on "family" holidays. 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Weekend odds & ends

  • Finally!! The thermometer cracked 20C on Tuesday afternoon, and headed into the mid/high 20s over the next few days. Dh & I went for our first gelatos of the season, and I pulled out my capris & sandals. (I haven't been for a pedicure since fall 2019, before covid, but I'm seriously tempted...)  The balcony door has been open for most of the day for the past several days. Finally!!!  
    • While it's been warm & pleasant, there wasn't any humidity for several days. On Thursday evening, after the balcony door had been open all day, the thermostat (showing the temperature inside our condo) read 79F (about 26C) -- but because the humidity was only about 30%, it was not at all uncomfortable.  
    • We did start getting some humidity on Friday, and turned on the air conditioning then. 
    • (Our weather forecasts and readings are in Celsius, but our thermostat is set to degrees Fahrenheit, as it has been my entire life. Which is to say, I'm a typical Canadian, especially of my generation, lol -- straddling both Imperial and metric systems!)   
    • The downside of having the balcony door open all day: (as I've complained here many times before) our next-door neighbour appears to be a cannabis addict. :p  We often see (& certainly smell) him smoking on their balcony, which is only a few feet away from ours. I smelled it no less than FIVE times in one day this week. It's one thing on a Saturday night, or even in the evening after supper or something like that -- but FIVE times (sometimes more) a day?? 
  • We got our fourth covid shots/second boosters on Wednesday afternoon (almost exactly 5 months after the last one), at the vaccine clinic attached to our family dr's office. Unlike the last time we went, we were the only ones there!  Dh asked the (very friendly, chatty) nurse if they'd been busy and she said it was pretty steady -- right up until the province dropped all the restrictions and mask mandates in March -- and then business fell off like a stone. She also works in a hospital ER and said none of the people coming in with covid have had their boosters. 
    • I'd had to pick a vaccine when registering for the appointments, so I put down Pfizer, since that's the last one we had -- but she said they had both in stock and we could have our pick. She said Moderna tends to build more antibodies and lasts longer, so we went with that again. (We had AstraZeneca for our first, Moderna for the second, Pfizer for the third and now Moderna again for the fourth!) I had a sore arm and was very tired/fatigued that night (but that could also be because we'd spent the morning chasing Little Great-Nephew around the park...! lol).  There was some arm soreness over the next few days, but that's entirely normal for me with any kind of shots. 
  • Sad news:  SIL is giving the puppy to her niece. :(  They're coming to get her this weekend. The puppy is a good, sweet little dog -- but, she's a puppy! -- and SIL admitted it's been just too much for her to handle, particularly on top of taking care of her grandson/our Little Great-Nephew. (But the niece's little boy -- SIL's great-nephew -- is thrilled!) 
  • We got to spend some extra time with Little Great-Nephew this week, in addition to our usual mid-week visit at his grandma's (SIL's) house:  his mom had a Zoom interview for a higher-paying job on Friday afternoon, so we drove up to their house (about an hour away) and spent two hours playing with LGN in the back yard while she got ready and had her interview. 
    • (She texted me as we were driving home -- they called her back, and she got the job! Not only does it pay more than her current job, she can work from home, which will mean big savings on gas, and will make it a little easier for her to juggle when LGN starts school (junior kindergarten) in the fall of 2023.) 
  • Yael Wolfe announced "I'm retiring from aunthood" on Medium. Food for thought, for both childless/free aunties (and uncles) and the parents of their nieces and nephews. You all know how much dh & I love being an uncle & aunt (and great-uncle and great-aunt) -- but I know not everyone's experience has been as happy as ours has been -- and yes, there have been times when the relationship has felt a bit one-sided... Sample quote: 
I have been anything but selfish. I have been selfless. For fifteen years. For other people’s children 

 Also this:  

I sit here writing this on Mother’s Day, my phone is pinging every few minutes. I’m not looking at it because I’m the only one in the group text thread who isn’t included in these Happy Mother’s Day messages. I’m the only one who doesn’t have kids. I’m the only one who doesn’t have presents to show everyone, like my sister’s new t-shirt, adorned with photos of the kids that says, “We love Mom!”

You know what? I want a t-shirt with their faces on it that says, “We love Auntie!” Yeah, I do. Selfish? Screw that. What have you done for your nieces and nephews lately? Wait until Aunt’s Day when it’s my turn? When’s that, honey? No, you can’t google it before you answer. If you don’t know the date off the top of your head, that shows you how little anyone cares about Aunt’s Day. It’s July 26th, FYI, and absolutely no one celebrates it. So again: screw that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Odds & ends

  • How was Voldemort Day for you? (You know -- THAT day from this past weekend -- The Day That Shall Not Be Named, lol.)(Karin on Gateway Women calls it "Others Day," which I also rather like.  :)  )   
    • We ordered takeout from one of our favourite restaurants on Saturday night -- and then wound up going to a nearby cousin's house for coffee & dessert later, along with BIL & SIL and several other local cousins -- 14 people in all (which was a few too many for my covid comfort levels, but anyway...). It had obviously been a MDay dinner for that cousin's family (her mom/dh's aunt and her sister and family were all there too), but nobody mentioned the M-word while we were there, thankfully! 
    • Sunday was very quiet, thank goodness. It was clear, sunny and pleasant outside, and we had the balcony door open for most of the afternoon. Dh napped on the couch, I called my mom, spent two hours volunteering/co-hosting a text chat on the private Gateway Women community, and that was about it, which was fine with me. 
    • Dh's cousins' WhatsApp group exploded on Sunday morning with "Happy Mother's Day" greetings and comments like "Toughest job in the world!"  I promptly muted the conversation for 8 hours. I still haven't looked at it. I don't feel like I missed anything. ;)  
  • I had to laugh, because around 10 p.m. Sunday night, an email popped up in my inbox from a retailer of women's clothing, with the header "Lori, did you forget about Mother's Day?" FAT CHANCE, right?? -- "I'm trying!!  But YOU WON'T LET ME!!"  lol
  • Bloglovin resurrected itself on Saturday night (after being offline for 4 days -- AGAIN... I think that's something like 12 days out of the past month that it's been down??) 
    • Mali sent me a link to a blog post with instructions for exporting my Bloglovin content and importing it to Feedly, which is the reader she uses. I actually managed to do it (once Bloglovin' was back up & running again). 
    • BUT! Feedly only allows you to follow 100 blogs at a time (unless you cough up money for a paid subscription). I currently have more than (gulp) 500 blogs on Bloglovin. A lot of them are inactive, but I like having them in there, just in case a new post from a blogger I used to enjoy reading pops up (and it does happen!). And even if I culled the inactive ones, I'm willing to bet there would still be more than 100.  Still, I suppose it's time to take a look and see what I can cut... 
    • I have tagged all my posts related to blog readers (Google Reader, Bloglovin, Feedly) for easy reference (for myself, if not anyone else!  lol).  
  • My eye surgery/keratectomy has (finally!) been scheduled -- for July 25th. That kind of screws up my plans for summer vacation with my family (I'm dreading telling my mother I will definitely not be attending the family reunion, later that week...), but I want to get it over with. Still waiting to hear about gallbladder removal (and probably won't hear about that until sometime in June, at the earliest). That one will have to be worked around this one too. 
  • One appointment I didn't have to wait long for: our fourth covid vaccine doses/boosters. We both became eligible last week (age 60+ = 140 days or almost 5 months past our most recent doses = May 5th) and we're going on Wednesday afternoon (tomorrow).  
    • We got to pick, Pfizer or Moderna... picked Pfizer simply because that's the last one we got (we've had all three different kinds offered!) but we're fine with Moderna if that's what's available too. 
  • How's this for irony? Over the past year, on & off, I have been helping one of my best friends from childhood with a book she's writing, as well as an online masterclass presentation she's been working on. The subject? Coping with an empty nest. (!)  I told her that I'd be happy to make suggestions re: spelling, grammar, structure, etc. -- but as for the subject matter/content, she'd probably be best to check in with one or more of her empty nest mom friends to make sure she had all the bases covered. 
  • Jody Day of Gateway Women recently talked about childlessness in the workplace during a half-hour "lunch & learn" session, "The F Word at Work," an ongoing series organized by Fertility Matters at Work, a UK organization. (I can't think of an equivalent North American group, can you?) All lunch & learn sessions are recorded -- here's the link -- and open to all, aimed at HR & line managers. Worth sharing within your workplace, if you feel brave enough to do so...! 
  • I thought of Jody (who once gave a talk titled "Who's Afraid of the Crazy Cat Lady?") when I saw this article from New York Magazine's Intelligencer:  "Why Are Conservative Men So Scared of Cat Ladies?" ;)  (Recent political events are discussed.) 
  • Kate Kauffman chatted with Catherine-Emmanuelle Delisle about Mother's Day and childlessness in the workplace in her "Unapparent" (love the name!!) column in Psychology Today online. 
  • Sian Prior, author of the new book "Childless: A Story of Freedom and Longing" (not yet available in North America, unfortunately), wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian that was published on Sunday: "When you’re childless not by choice, Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of profound loss." Subhead: "When other women are being feted by their progeny, no amount of positive psychology can override the sense of loss I feel."  
  • Jill Filipovic interviewed Therese Schecter, the filmmaker behind the new documentary "My So-Called Selfish Life," about pronatalism and the decision not to have children. It's only available to her newsletter subscribers, which is unfortunate, because I think it's a conversation that deserves a much broader audience.   
    • The documentary is streaming online until May 16th. Tickets are just $10 (US) -- I've already bought one, although I haven't watched yet. 
  • I know surrogacy has helped a lot of couples become parents... but there are certain ethical aspects of it, I'll admit, make me rather queasy. Add in the complications involved when your surrogate is in another country. Then what happens when that country is invaded and becomes a war zone?? -- i.e., Ukraine?  The New York Times Magazine had an article following a group of Ukrainian surrogates and some of the intended parents of the babies they are carrying. (Beware the comments section... too many "just adopts" for comfort...!) 

Monday, May 9, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Page to screen

"The Blue Castle" -- one of my favourite L.M. Montgomery novels (and one of my all-time favourite books, period) -- is coming to the screen

I am of two minds on this: 

  • (1) YAY!!/IT'S ABOUT TIME!! I've always thought this would make a great movie (in the right hands). 
  • (2) (To that point...)  I am TERRIFIED they are going to screw this one up.  (Like, Americanize the story to appeal to a U.S. audience, or set it in modern times... ugh. Or inject modern sensibilities into a story written in 1926.)  
I had similar feelings when I recently learned that Alexandra Potter's "Confessions of a Forty-Something F***-Up" (reviewed here) is being turned into an ABC-TV series called "Not Dead Yet."  None of the actors cast seems to be British, so I can only assume it's been transposed to a U.S. setting. I'll reserve judgment until I see it, but I have a hard time envisioning this one without British accents and humour. (Likewise, I am praying that the film version of "The Thursday Murder Club" -- Steven Spielberg has bought the rights -- keeps the story in England, cast with British actors.) 

Granted -- some movie/TV adaptations turn out to be pretty good. I adored the 1980s TV adaptation of "Anne of Green Gables" with Megan Follows as an absolutely perfect Anne and Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla. (The sequels, not so much...!) I enjoyed "Road to Avonlea" (which used several Montgomery novels and short stories for inspiration), to a point -- it took a lot of liberties with Montgomery's material and kind of wore out its welcome by the time it ended. Likewise, "Emily of New Moon."  

Off the top of my head, in terms of well-done film versions of other books I've enjoyed: 
  • "Normal People" (I loved the TV version possibly even more than the book! -- reviewed here and here). 
  • "The Fault in Our Stars" (movie review here). 
  • The 1994 version of "Little Women" with Winona Ryder as Jo. (The most recent version, with Saiorse Ronan as Jo, was pretty good too, but the 1994 one remains my favourite.)  
  • "The Outsiders" was one of my favourite books, growing up, and the movie version turned out to be pretty good (can't beat that cast!), although by the time they got around to making it, I was in my 20s, so it didn't enthrall me quite as much as it might have a few years earlier. 
  • The TV versions of Winston Graham's "Poldark" novels -- both 1970s and more recent -- were both pretty faithful to the books and well done, with the exception of the final/most recent season, which was entirely made up by the scriptwriters. 
  • "Gone With the Wind," both book & movie, are pretty dated/politically incorrect, but both were touchstones of my growing-up years, and the movie was a pretty amazing feat of filmmaking and storytelling for its time (also some great casting -- Clark Gable as the perfect Rhett Butler!!) 
I know there are a lot more I'm forgetting, but those are a few that spring to mind at the moment. 

Disappointments: (As I often complained here while it was being aired, lol) Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" started off all right, but it diverged in some significant ways from the book, including being padded with characters and subplots that weren't in the original (presumably to stretch things out to 10 episodes). It all got rather ridiculous toward the end. 

What do you think? What movie/TV adaptations do you think were well done? Which ones weren't? 

My reviews of "The Blue Castle" (the book), here and here

(On a related note:  Following the conclusion of our recent discussion of "The Story Girl," the LMM Readathon group on Facebook I've been part of for the past two years is on hiatus. The organizers promised to keep the group going as long as the pandemic lasted... I don't think they ever imagined it going into Year #3 (we've covered seven Montgomery books to date)..! One of the organizers is stepping back due to other commitments, and if the group is to continue, volunteers will be needed. Decisions/future plans will be announced soon...) 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Sunday, May 8, 2022

"Singled Out" by Virginia Nicholson

In my review of the last book I read, ""The Great Silence 1918-1920: Living in the Shadow of the Great War"  by Juliet Nicolson, I noted: 

"The stories of the many women who were widowed or left without men to marry (and, subsequently, left without children) are also touched upon. (This is the subject of another book that's in my reading pile, "Singled Out" by Virginia Nicholson.  I'll be honest -- I thought both books were by the same author -- Nicholson/Nicolson -- close!!)"

Well, since I seem to be on a World War I-era kick right now, and since I mentioned it, and since it was another volume in my gargantuan to-be-read pile (albeit this one was on my e-reader...!), I decided "Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War" by Virginia Nicholson would be my next read. (Virginia Nicholson is the great-niece of Virginia Woolf -- the granddaughter of her sister, Vanessa Bell.)

I think I first heard about this book through Jody Day of Gateway Women, who has referenced it in her blog posts and talks and in her book, "Living the Life Unexpected."  Reading it, I was reminded of a scene in the TV series "Downton Abbey," in which middle daughter Edith, wanting to marry a man 25 years her senior, to the dismay of her family, bitterly reminds her father that all the young men of her own generation whom she might have married were gone, killed during the war. (I'm going by memory, so I think I've got those details straight? -- someone please correct me if I didn't!) 

Edith, of course, did become a mother (bearing a child out of wedlock) and (still!) managed to wind up marrying -- a marquis, no less!! (giving her a social ranking above the rest of her family, including her snobbish older sister Mary). Many of her real-life counterparts, however, were not so lucky. Some two million young women born in Britain around the turn of the century came of age during the Great War, only to see the young men of their generation -- brothers, friends, sweethearts, fiances, new husbands and potential husbands -- slaughtered on the battlefields. Quite simply, there were not enough young men to go around for all the women who wanted -- were raised to expect -- to marry and to have children. 

Early in the book, there's a rather stunning scene:  

In 1917 the senior mistress of Bournemouth High School for Girls stood up in front of the assembled sixth form (nearly all of whom were dressed in mourning for some member of their family) and announced to them: "I have come to tell you a terrible fact. Only one out of ten of you girls can ever hope to marry. This is not a guess of mine. It is a statistical fact. Nearly all the men who might have married you have been killed. You will have to make your way in the world as best you can. The war has made more openings than there were before. But there will still be a lot of prejudice. You will have to fight. You will have to struggle." One of her pupils, seventeen-year-old Rosamund Essex, was never to forget those words. It was "one of the most fateful statements of my life." When Rosamund, who never married, wrote her memoirs sixty years later, she accepted that her teacher's pronouncements had been prophetic: 

How right she was. Only one out of every ten of my friends has ever married. Quite simply, there was no one available. We had to face the facts that our lives would be stunted in one direction. We should never have the kind of happy homes in which we ourselves had been brought up. There would be no husband, no children, no sexual outlet, no natural bond of man and woman. It was going to be a struggle indeed. 

As the book blurb on Goodreads says, "they were forced, by a tragedy of historic proportions, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity and their future happiness."  Instead of wives and mothers, they became independent, self-supporting nannies, teachers, nurses, scientists, writers, politicians and more -- and lay the groundwork for the more equal rights women enjoy (and often take for granted) today. 

The book is chock-full of the personal stories of these "surplus women" -- some well known (Vera Brittain -- who did later marry and have children, and her friend, the writer Winifred Holtby, for example), but many not. Nicholson did a thorough job of researching this subject:  she found memoirs and other first-person accounts, and interviewed several elderly "bachelor girls" and their extended family members herself. She also unearthed contemporary literature (both fiction and non-fiction) that sheds further light on the world these women lived in and the lives they carved out for themselves. 

It can be wince-inducing to read some of the harsh, misogynistic things that were said and written about these women, who were living lives not entirely of their choosing, in roles that their families and educations had not prepared them for. You can see the roots of some of the negative attitudes that prevail today towards single/childless/free women. 

"Singled Out" was lengthy and detailed, a little slow, but absorbing. The last chapter reads a little like a laundry list of women's accomplishments in the mid-20th century -- but overall, the stories were enraging, fascinating, moving, and inspiring.  Whether or not you're single, if you're childless-not-by-choice, I think you will find something here that's relatable.  

4 stars. 

This was Book #24 read to date in 2022 (and Book #2 finished in May), bringing me to 53% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 9 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

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Personal postscript:  This book had me thinking about certain members of my family tree in an entirely new light. Reading about the large numbers of young "surplus" women (born around the turn of the century) who emigrated to the "colonies" in search of a new life (and, sometimes, a husband) brought to mind the youngest daughter of my great-great grandfather's youngest brother, born in 1902 in Scotland. About 10 years ago, through my genealogy research, I learned she had emigrated to Canada in 1923. The ship's manifest noted that her passage was paid for by the Salvation Army, that her intended destination was the Salvation Army in Toronto, and that her intended occupation was "domestic."

This piqued my curiosity, and I emailed the Salvation Army here in Toronto for more information. They were extremely helpful, sending me some information about how the Salvation Army ran emigration programs back then. They also found a record for this distant relative, indicating she had taken a position with a family in the city. Two years later, they learned she had resigned and gone to Cleveland. (!)  I could not find the Cleveland address provided on any map, and thought I had reached a dead end. 

New records continue to come online all the time, though, and a few years later, I found a marriage record for her! At some point, she did return to Toronto, and in 1929, age 27 and now working as a cook, she married a salesman in a church here. One of her older sisters (born in 1898) had also come to Toronto that same year and witnessed the ceremony. I still haven't been able to determine whether they had any children (and I haven't found any further information about the sister who witnessed the wedding either), but her husband died in 1957, she died in 1986, and they are buried together in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In 1986, I had been married and living in Toronto for a year -- in an apartment building a stone's throw away from Mount Pleasant -- completely unaware that I had relatives in the city (however distant -- and she wasn't the only one!). It can be a very small world sometimes...! 

The oldest son of another (older) brother of my great-great-grandfather's had three children -- a boy and two girls, born in Scotland, but raised in northern England. The son, born in 1898, was killed in action in 1918 at the age of 19, and is buried in a war cemetery in France. One of my genealogist-cousins was able to find out what happened to his sisters, born in 1901 and 1904.  Both were unmarried and childless when they wound up emigrating to Australia, apparently as part of a teacher exchange program -- Sister #1 in 1934 at age 33, and Sister #2 in 1946 at age 42. Sister #1 married in Australia in 1937, when she was 36.  They had no children, and her husband passed away in 1948. There were several trips back & forth between Australia and England over the years. She died in England in 1982, age 80, and is buried there in her hometown. Sister #2 became headmistress at a school in Australia, married in 1953 (age 49), but divorced in 1958. She returned to England at some point in the next few years and died there in 1965, age 61. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Annoying things & small pleasures

 Annoying things: 

  • It's Voldemort Day weekend. :(  (You know the one I mean... that Day That Shall Not Be Named.)  'Nuff said. 
  • Bloglovin' is still out (since Wednesday = day #3). Grrrrrr... 
  • I posted recently about my visit to the opthamologist (Tuesday, April 26th). After talking things over with my optometrist, I decided to go ahead with the surgery/procedure he recommended to remove a patch of scar tissue from my right eye. I left a message with his office late Wednesday afternoon (April 27th). The message on the voice mail said my call would be returned within two business days. (Two?!  All righty then...).  Two days = end of day Friday afternoon (April 29th). 
    • Friday came & went. My phone did not ring. (At least with a call from them.)  After the weekend, Monday came and went too. Nothing. 
    • I finally called Tuesday morning (May 3rd, day 4 -- a full week after I'd met with the opthamologist) and left another message. (I made a point of mentioning I hadn't had a response yet to my first message.)
    • The phone rang around 4 p.m. that afternoon. Finally!  The woman on the other end of the line wanted to know what sort of a procedure the doctor had recommended for me?  And did he say where it was supposed to be done? ???!  (Like, don't you have my file??)  I told her I wasn't entirely sure of the terminology, but I *thought* it was called a keratectomy -- and he had said it would be done there, at the hospital. She said, "Oh, that's probably the (something) room -- Katie will call you tomorrow." ?!!  WTF??!  (And "Katie," of all people, will call me...!!)  
    • That was Tuesday afternoon. It's now Friday night. :p  Monday will be almost two full weeks since I saw the opthamologist. 
    • I should have just said yes when they asked me if I wanted to schedule the procedure in the first place, even if I wasn't sure I wanted to go this route... I could have always cancelled later. Hindsight is 20-20 (pun intended). Lesson learned...! 
    • Is it just me, or is nothing simple these days??  (I know everyone is busy and short-staffed these days, especially in a hospital setting, but seriously??) 
  • Lately I've been inundated by friend requests from strange men on Instagram. It seems to go in waves, but there's rarely a day that I don't get at least one, and some days it's half a dozen or more. (I used to get them on Facebook too, but not so much there lately.)  I also get occasional friend requests from strange women. Most of them have some reference to bitcoin in their bios. :p  Needless to say, all of them get blocked and deleted. But it's tiresome to have to constantly keep doing it. 
    • I even had a request from a strange guy on Goodreads recently!!  Not only did I not know him, he had zero books read in his profile. Methinks he wasn't really interested in reading. Instant delete. ;) 
  • In a similar vein... I was bombarded with email spam for a couple of days in a row last week --  like two dozen or more messages a day, for several days in a row. I just kept adding the sender to my "blocked" list and deleting. Eventually, it did subside (and I'm almost afraid to post this for fear of jinxing myself...!). 
  • Not annoying: warmer weather = being able to leave the balcony door open more often and for longer periods of time. Annoying (and this is an old complaint): the strong, skunky smell of cannabis wafting in, often multiple times during the day.  We KNOW who the culprit is (at least one of them, anyway -- there may be others). Debating whether to complain to the property manager.  Yes, it's legal here, but it's also a nuisance that's interfering with our own enjoyment of our own property. (I'd also be annoyed if it was tobacco or cigar smoke.)  
  • There's a provincial election coming up on June 2nd. The date has been fixed for quite a while, but the campaign officially kicked off this week. As you can probably guess, if you've read some of my pandemic-related posts over the past two years, I am not a fan of the current premier/government. Nevertheless (inexplicably!), they stand a good chance of winning another term. 
  • Dh says he's noticed increasing numbers of people going maskless when he's been to the supermarket, etc.  
  • Dirty windows! (The window cleaners are coming in a little over a week... I can't wait!)  
Small pleasures: 
  • Milder weather (finally!). 
    • Related:  Being able to leave the balcony door open for most of the day. (Cannabis fumes notwithstanding, lol.)  
  • Spending time with Little Great-Nephew. 
  • Having him call me by name. ("Bye Lori!") 
  • "Me at home alone time" for two straight Saturdays (dh & BIL have been helping Older Nephew do some things around his house). 
  • Lots of good reading lately. :)