Wednesday, June 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.)

Pandemic diary/update:  May was Month #26 (going on #27) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. Wave #6 has been upon us since shortly after most restrictions & mandates were dropped in March, and although the (greatly under-reported) numbers have gradually declined over the course of the month, they are still too high for my comfort level (still on par with the levels of the first wave, if you look at the charts). Covid has largely dropped out of the headlines -- a Toronto Star columnist wrote this weekend about how we're suffering "pandemic amnesia" (even as the pandemic continues) -- and (when we do venture out in public) we're seeing more and more people without masks. (They are still required in a few settings, including public transit and medical offices/hospitals.)  

Things are not likely to improve in terms of pandemic management until and unless we have a change of government after our provincial election tomorrow. Inexplicably, the current premier/government (which did some things right, but a lot of things wrong during the pandemic -- not to mention before the pandemic too!) is expected to win another majority. (I will admit that the alternatives are not especially compelling -- but I very much doubt they could do any worse, on this front especially...!) 

Here are some stats from May (mostly from The Toronto Star). 
  • There were 2,243 new cases reported in Ontario on May 1st. That was the peak. Since then, numbers have declined to 590 on May 31st.  
    • Caveat:  The Star notes that "given new provincial regulations to limit testing that took effect on Dec. 31, 2021, case counts are no longer considered an accurate assessment of how widespread the virus is right now. Daily reported cases in 2022 should be considered under reported."  (Scientists are (still) saying that the true number of cases is likely 10 times higher than what's being reported. (!)  And some provinces have stopped reporting daily new case numbers altogether, leaving citizens entirely in the dark.  (It sounds like it's a similar situation in the U.S., according to this Washington Post article.)  
    • Ryan Imgrund, a local biostatistician I follow on Twitter, posted on Sunday:  "A reminder that Ontario is still refusing to PCR test most people with COVID symptoms. The 'undercount' is real. We are still seeing 8,000 to 9,000 cases per day." 
  • Test positivity peaked at 15% on May 1st and reached 8.3% on May 31st. 
  • Hospitalizations declined during the month overall, from 1,646 on May 1st to 808 on May 31st, peaking at 1,745 on May 3rd. 
  • There were 187 patients with COVID-19 in Ontario's ICUs on May 1st, peaking at 211 on May 2nd and declining to 140 on May 31st.  
  • There were 17 deaths on May 1st and 15 on May 31st. The peak was 32 deaths recorded on May 5th. 
As of May 31st, with a population of just over 14 million, Ontario has logged 1,303,033 (officially counted) cases of covid and more than 13,241 deaths. For Canada as a whole (population 38 million), those numbers are 3,865,173 cases and 40,993 deaths. 

Vaccination numbers have not changed much since April. 90.4% of eligible Ontarians aged 5 and over have now had at least one shot and 87.1% are fully vaccinated. ("Fully vaccinated" = two doses -- although some believe that definition should change to include boosters/third doses.) When those not eligible are included, the numbers are 86.1% and 83%, respectively. Canada-wide, 82.4% of people are fully vaccinated.  

Uptake on both third and fourth doses/boosters has also been slow. I have heard that about half of eligible Ontarians have received third doses. Fourth shots/second boosters only started being offered more widely in mid-April. Currently, you're eligible if you're age 60+ (which includes me & dh) and 141 days past your third shot.  For us, 141 days = May 5th, and we got ours (Moderna) on May 11th.  (Get those boosters, if you're eligible!  The nurse who administered our shots also works at a hospital ER and told us none of the patients they're seeing with covid have had their third/booster shots.) 

On the personal pandemic front:  Despite the near-complete lack of restrictions since mid-March, dh & I continue to remain masked when out in public, and (mostly) socially distanced. On top of dh's weekly trips to the supermarket for groceries and for occasional takeout lunches & dinners: 
  • We visited SIL & Little Great-Nephew at BIL & SIL's house four times (including once when BIL was there -- he had the week off work).  
  • We drove up to Older Nephew's house one Friday afternoon to keep LGN occupied while his mom got ready for and then had a Zoom interview on her day off for a higher-paying, work-from-home job at a different company. (She got it!) 
  • At BIL's behest, we went with him & SIL over to a local cousin's house for coffee & dessert on the Saturday night before MDay (mentioned here).  
    • We also went out with them for ice cream one Sunday afternoon (through the drive-through at Dairy Queen). 
    • BIL wanted us to come with them to visit another cousin this past weekend. We haven't seen her since well before covid (and I'd like to see her;  we've always gotten along well) -- but we declined -- in part because I still didn't feel up to socializing after my fall a week ago, but also because this cousin & family are not vaccinated/anti-vax, and there's still just WAY too much covid hereabouts for our comfort. Sigh. :(    
  • We went for our first gelatos of the year on the first day of the year to crack 20C (May 10th -- we ate it in the car), and also dropped by Reitmans (a women's clothing shop) and the bookstore. 
    • Back to the gelato shop on May 24th. :)  
  • We got our fourth covid shots/second boosters on May 11th, almost exactly five months after our last ones. 
  • We did the rounds of Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples and then the drugstore on May 16th. 
  • We went to the Toronto Zoo on Friday, May 20, with BIL, SIL, LGN, his mom, her cousin and her baby -- and I got to take an unexpected trip to a nearby hospital ER...! 
  • I followed up with my family doctor (back in our old community) yesterday (May 31st). Before heading there, we stopped at the cemetery for a quick visit with our Katie.  On the way home, we stopped at a nearby strip plaza to use the banking machine at a local bank branch, and to pick up some items at M&M Foods. There isn't one anywhere near where we now live, so we often go there whenever we're back in the area to stock up on our favourite items. They make a pretty good chicken lasagna that I can eat because it doesn't have any tomato in it! Dh gets a traditional tomato & meat sauce one, and we bake them both at the same time. Lots of leftovers too!

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Also right now:  

Reading: I finished 3 books in May (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged  "2022 books").  (This was not as many as I'd hoped, but I lost some momentum, mid-month -- and then my fall at the zoo kind of derailed a lot of things in my life for a while..!) 
This brings me to 25 books read so far in 2022 -- 56% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books.  I am (for the moment, anyway) 7 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.) 
  • The Gateway Women book club recently revised the upcoming lineup.  Last weekend, we got together via Zoom to chat about May's book -- "The Man Who Died Twice" by Richard Osman (which I read and reviewed a few months ago, here).  I didn't re-read it.  June's book is "These Precious Days" by Ann Patchett (see above). 
    • We'll be reading "Again, Rachel," the newest book by Marian Keyes (an Irish author who is childless not by choice) in July. (I'd like to try to read "Rachel's Holiday" -- published in 1997 -- before that, if I can.) 
  • For my D.E. Stevenson fan group (no set timeframes but, in order, these are the next ones we've agreed to read after we finish the current book):  
Also: within the private online Gateway Women community, we've formed a group to discuss Jody Day's book, "Living the Life Unexpected," one chapter per month, in a live Zoom call. (There are actually two groups -- one that's more conducive to UK/European/Australasian time zones, and one for North Americans.) Our fifth call, discussing Chapter 5, was last Sunday, although I missed most of it because of a scheduling conflict with another Zoom call. We'll be meeting on Zoom to discuss Chapter 6 in mid-June. Completing all 12 chapters will take us a full year.  If/when we complete the full 12 chapters, I'll count it as another re-read. :)  

A few recently purchased titles (in digital format, mostly discounted or purchased with points):  
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Watching: I bought a $10 ticket and streamed the new documentary "My So-Called Selfish Life" on my laptop on a mid-month Sunday afternoon. Director Therese Schecter covered a lot of territory about pronatalism and the choice not to have children in under 90 minutes. There's lots there that's relevant for childLESS people too. See it, if you can! (and watch the closing credits for the fun animation and the note at the very end: "No storks were harmed in the filming of this movie." -- lol!!)  

We've been enjoying season 2 of "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" on CNN -- one more episode to go, I think. (SIL wants to know when he's going to visit Calabria -- where his family, hers and dh/BIL's comes from!)  

Last Saturday night, we watched a fascinating documentary on TVO (TV Ontario, a public network) -- almost all in Italian, with English subtitles -- called "Shooting the Mafia," about an Italian photojournalist, Letizia Battaglia, who spent years photographing the Mafia in Sicily, documenting their crimes and their aftermath. Some pretty graphic images shown, but Letizia (now in her 80s) is a feisty gem. Numerous ex-lovers still hanging around who clearly adore her!  ;)   

Listening: To some great podcasts, including several new weekly episodes of New Legacy Radio, and The Full Stop.

Eating/Drinking:  (As mentioned above!) We marked the first day of 20C+ weather (May 10th) with a trip to the gelato shop!  (Limone/lemon for me -- my favourite; chocolate for dh.)  We were back for a pick-me-up treat on May 24th. In between, we also went to Dairy Queen with BIL & SIL. :)  (They all had cones while I had my favourite -- a Skor Bar Blizzard :) -- mini-sized, which is plenty big enough for me!)  

Buying (besides books, lol):  I bought a pair of denim capris (40% off) and two pairs of capri leggings (25% off) at Reitmans. I also restocked some skin care products, at the drugstore and through Sephora online, and ordered my favourite foot cream online from L'Occitane. 

I bought a new set of sheets at Bed Bath & Beyond. (We'll see how long they last...!)  I'm not enthralled with them -- they're a little on the scratchy side (although I'm sure they'll soften with time, wear and repeated laundering) and they seem a little flimsy -- but they'll do for now. 

I also bought a small tabletop ironing board there for under $20. I hate lugging out my big board (which I got when we were first married) when I only have one or two things to do (and I don't do anywhere near as much ironing as I used to, since we both retired), and I don't want to use the iron directly on my quartz kitchen countertop (even with a towel as an underpad). This will be handy -- easier to bring out & set up -- for those small, quick jobs, like cloth face masks and placemats (mine are forever curling up around the edges and corners after coming out of the dryer...!).   

And I ordered a couple of two-tier/drawer slide-out baskets for under the vanity counter storage in both bathrooms (this one). They arrived on May 25th, and dh & I assembled them last weekend, although I haven't yet put them to use. (This will entail taking everything out from the cupboards and wiping them down, and then going through and reorganizing all the stuff before putting it back). I'm hoping these will help me maximize cupboard space and organize our (cough! -- MY) stuff better -- reduce the number of times I have to fumble around and reach waaayyyyy back in the cupboard for something...!  

Wearing: Yes!! It's capris & sandals season, finally!!  I first put them on on May 12th (and probably could have done so a day or two earlier).  

I did have to put my long jeans (and a jacket) back on a few times when it turned colder and rainy again, as well as slippers and a cardigan inside the condo. (Sigh!)

Trying: think of something to write for this category??  lol  

Wanting: To get the rest of our windows washed, and the balcony furniture set out, now that the weather is nicer!  (See "Enjoying," below.)  Maybe later this week...?

Enjoying: Having the balcony door open during the day and into early evening (when it hasn't been humid -- and fortunately, that hasn't been too often yet). We hit 20C/68F for this first time this year on May 10th (it actually went to 22C). Yay!  (Although the last few days were a little TOO hot & humid -- already! :p  -- reaching 31C and 36C humidex. Yuck.)  

Clean bedroom windows!!  (The window washers were here recently).  I still need to wash the balcony door/windows myself. Soon...!  Just waiting to recuperate a little more fully from my fall at the zoo.

Noticing:  A big uptick in the number of phone calls we've been getting lately (on our landline number). We normally don't get a lot of calls (and the ones we get are generally from BIL, lol).  But our provincial election is tomorrow -- we live in a very hotly contested, strategically important riding, and our phone has been ringing non-stop for the past week-plus. I suspect a lot of the calls are election-related (candidate messages, pollsters, etc.) -- and we're hoping they stop once the election is over...! We don't usually answer the phone if we don't recognize the number, and there usually aren't any messages left. I clear the caller ID logs on our phones when I'm housecleaning, and usually there are no more than a dozen accumulated calls in a week. This past week, there were 48 (!!) accumulated calls!!  The peak day was last Wednesday, when the phone rang 12 times. Only two of the calls were actually from people we knew  (BIL, and our family doctor's office).  

Wondering: Whether to take the risk and return to the movie theatre for the first time since January 2020... would LOVE to see the new Downton Abbey and Bob's Burgers movies! (I'd wear a mask and -- a biggie for me! -- forego popcorn, which would necessitate taking it off to eat.) Going to the movies is something I miss from our pre-covid lives.

Or -- we could just stay at home and see it when it comes to pay-per-view. Hmmm...

Prioritizing: Self-care/taking it easy after my fall at the zoo, and after one tragedy/bad news story after another, in the U.S., here in Canada, around the world (Buffalo, Uvalde, Ukraine, derecho/tornados, provincial election here in Ontario...). I've always been mildly obsessed with keeping up with current events (it was part of my journalism training and my job for many years) and yes, I have some FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) -- but I've had to pull way back on the amount of time I spend scanning my social media feeds, blogs and online news stories, and give my battered head/brain (and heart) a break for a while. Frankly, I've found it impossible to keep up lately.  Apologies if I've missed out on anything important in your lives in the meantime...! 

Waiting: For my two surgeries later this summer, now scheduled for July 25th (eye/cornea procedure) and August 15th (gallbladder removal) -- and hopefully a trip home to see my family -- if not this summer, then in the fall.  

Hoping:  For the defeat of the current provincial government -- or at the very least a minority (but sadly not holding my breath...). 

Appreciating: My (older) capris fit so much better this year! I got on the scale this morning, and I am currently down 17 pounds from my all-time peak weight late last summer -- mostly the result of cutting back on sugar and fat consumption -- cutting BACK, not OUT! lol -- and trying to eat smaller portions, since grappling with both gout and gallstones last year. (I haven't even been eating as many fruits and vegetables as I should, nor getting enough exercise...!)  

Loving: Any time we get to spend with Little Great-Nephew. :)  I know, I probably sound like a broken record (lol) -- but he is just so darn cute -- and he will only be little for so long. He'll be heading off to junior kindergarten, a little more than a year from now, and we won't get to see as much of him after that. We're very thankful to have this time with him now. 

Feeling: A little bruised and battered after my tumble, but VERY thankful that it was not worse! A little apprehensive about the summer and my two upcoming surgeries (minor as they might be, in the grand scheme of things). Sad that the timing of my surgeries means I probably won't get "home" to see my family this summer (AGAIN). Very happy that the weather is finally starting to warm up! 

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