Friday, July 29, 2022
Friday, July 22, 2022
- My eye surgery is early Monday morning at a hospital downtown, three months after I was diagnosed with a patch of scar tissue om my right cornea that's been affecting my vision. It's a quick, in-office, in-and-out laser procedure. I'll be getting up at the crack of dawn to make sure we get there in plenty of time, but at least it will be over with early on, and I won't have to spend half the day in nervous anticipation (that's what this weekend is for...!). Wish me luck!!
- Depending on how things go and the restrictions I'm subjected to (my sister, who had similar surgery last year, warned me I will have to limit my screen time for at least the first few days), I may not be around the blogosphere much over the next week or two.
- If I can come up with a #MicroblogMondays post before then, I'll write it and set it to post automatically on Monday morning, albeit it won't be linked to Mel's list, at least not right away. But if I don't come up with anything, I won't fret...!
- Poor dh has been suffering for at least two weeks with fits of violent sneezing, and itchy red eyes... not even so much the eyes themselves, but the skin around them has been puffy/baggy, itchy and red. He has seasonal allergies, and they've been especially bad this year (even though he no longer has to mow the lawn, which was always a trigger in the past!). He also has very dry, sensitive skin at the best of times. (And, of course, like many men, does nothing about it...!)
- We tried Benadryl, Claritin, Reactine, saline eye drops, cold compresses, warm compresses, even tea bags! but nothing was helping much. We couldn't get an appointment for him with our family doctor for more than a week (! -- our health care system may be "free," but it is absolutely swamped right now, with another covid surge and shortages of staff, many of whom are sick, burned out/fed up and/or quitting -- and who can blame them, after what they've endured in recent years??) -- so he wound up going to an urgent care clinic near us yesterday (Thursday). They gave him a prescription for both Reactine (stronger dosage than the over-the-counter stuff) and an ointment for the skin around his eyes.
- He wound up going to two different pharmacies trying to get the prescription filled -- the Reactine was no problem, but the ointment had to be special ordered. It was SUPPOSED to be ready this afternoon.
- You guessed it -- he went to pick it up and they still didn't have it... told him to come back Monday. :( Poor guy -- very frustrating. :(
- I was trying to think if anything in our environment had changed recently to trigger an allergic attack -- same laundry detergent, no new foods lately -- and then we realized dh had come home with a new bottle of shampoo and started using it right around the time this all started. He has mostly used Pert 2-in-1 shampoo for almost as long as I've known him (40+ years!)... and this was Pert, but they didn't have any of the "regular/classic" Pert in stock, so he bought a variety marketed towards men called "Ocean Rush." It was very strongly scented, and I am willing to bet money that's the culprit.
- He's going to try using baby shampoo until things settle down, and then maybe go back to using his regular/classic Pert.
- Speaking of shampoo: I have used Neutrogena's Anti-Residue shampoo for something like 40 years too. A university friend used it, and left me a half-used bottle when she went back home for the summer. I tried it and loved it, and have been using it two or three times a week since then, alternating with another shampoo (currently Pantene 2-in-1 Volume & Body formula). I've noticed it was getting harder and harder to find (the conditioner that went with it was discontinued years ago) -- and my current bottle is about 2/3 empty, so I've been looking for another bottle lately, without success. Did some Googling, only to find... you guessed it -- it's been discontinued!! (Someone said they found it on Amazon... for $70 a bottle!!) Their Canadian website is full of customers in the review section, wailing "WHY???" :( They have introduced some new formulations (which I have not yet seen on the drugstore shelves here), but the buzz on the website, and on a Reddit thread I found, is that they don't work nearly as well. Boo, hiss....
- I saw the Twitter thread mentioned in this New York Times article before I read the article -- related to parenting, sexism, learned helplessness, and the division of household labour. Sadly, I wasn't surprised...!
- Speaking of Twitter, I've noticed something odd recently. I get a couple of emails every day featuring about a half-dozen tweets that Twitter thinks will interest me, generally from people I follow. If I click on the tweet in the message, it takes me to Twitter, where I get to see (and like or share) the original tweet and some of the responses -- and then sometimes a section of "More tweets," which are usually related, at least tangentially, to the original tweet. I follow a lot of childless and childfree people on Twitter -- and invariably, the featured tweets from them (usually about childless/free topics) are followed by other tweets related to either (a) parenting & pregnancy (!!) or -- (b) artistic photos from Germany. (??!)
- Bloglovin' outage: still ongoing for more than a week (since Thursday night, July 14th!). :p
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Anne Helen Petersen (who is childfree by choice) has had several conversations with guests recently on her Culture Study newsletter on Substack about building community, and how difficult that is to do.
She's also hosted several recent subscriber threads/conversations on this subject. About a week ago, she asked:
So tell us: how did you become important to someone else’s kid? How did you strengthen or formalize the relationship? If you wish you had someone like this in your kids’ lives: what’s made it hard? And if you wish you could be this person in a kids’ life: what’s the roadblock?
There were 105 responses -- a lot of them childless & childfree people who have developed relationships with their parent-friends' kids -- or who would like to do so, but have run into obstacles.
That conversation was for subscribers only (of which I am one!). But she asked the same question on her Instagram Stories, and featured some of the answers she got on there as well. Unfortunately, IG Stories are only available for 24 hours (which drives me nuts sometimes). There was a lot of talk about how people are reluctant to impose on each other (parents on childless friends and childless friends on parents), and how the relationship needs to be reciprocal and not just childless/free people supporting families. Lots of food for thought!
A few days later, there was another subscriber thread on the community-building theme:
So tell us: how have have you shown up for and otherwise shown care for your friends who aren’t parents?
I’d love to hear from people who aren’t parents and are forming communities with other people who aren’t parents, and I’d especially love to hear from people who are parents are thinking about the ways they can continue to form community and networks of care with people who are showing up for them, as well, even when their everyday experience is different than your own...
If you’re struggling to figure this out: what’s stopping you? What are your hesitations? How would you like to be better?
That one got 185 responses.
Today, her latest newsletter brings together the wisdom from the subscriber threads and Instagram Stories mentioned above into a post titled "How to Show Up For Your Friends Without Kids — and How to Show Up For Kids and Their Parents aka How to Be in a Community." I don't think you need a subscription, and it's worth a read!
Some of the key points:
1) Most people feel left behind in some way, no matter what their life is like (parents and non-parents). "Everyone’s struggle is different — but life is not a struggle contest. Competing for the most aggrieved is what keeps us from actually creating the sort of solidarity that can result in change."
2) People need and want help, and people need and want to provide help.
3) People are also incredibly bad at communicating with one another, because...
4) American culture is all about the myths of self-reliance and perfection.
5) Because we are so bad at asking for and receiving help, we need scripts and plans. (AHP goes on to offer tips for both parents and non-parents about how we can better show up for and support each other.)
6) "Friendship, care, and community-building is periodically no fun at all. It’s un-optimizable. You can’t put it in your resume. You can’t buy it, or hack it, or fast-track it. But its value is beyond measure."
(She's also tweeting about this.)
What do you think? Fellow childless/free readers, what makes it hard for you to build relationships with parents and their kids? Parents, what are the barriers you've encountered to building relationships with your friends who don't have kids?
Monday, July 18, 2022
- The second Childless Collective Summit is over, and I hope you had the chance to at least sample some of the amazing (FREE!) presentations offered! It was a pretty hectic & exhausting four days, trying to keep up with everything (and if *I* found it tiring, I can't imagine how Katy, the organizer, feels...!) -- but it was a good kind of hectic & exhausting ;) and well worth it!
- I actually missed most of the presentations on Saturday, because we were busy with haircuts and family birthday celebrations for BIL & SIL -- and I missed a few on Sunday as well -- but I bought a "Pace Yourself Pass" (again this year), which will give me access to all the presentations for a full year (as well as some other perqs). If you missed the summit in full or in part, or want to revisit some of the presentations you enjoyed, the passes will remain on sale for the rest of this week, until Sunday July 24th.
- This year's summit had 2,200 people registered, which -- as I noted last year -- is absolutely MINDBLOWING, when I think about what was out there when I first came to childless/free living 21 years ago (i.e., not a whole lot...!).
- On a note related to the point above -- it was 21 years ago today, that I made my very first post to the Childless Living message board on iVillage (which no longer exists). This was my first tentative step towards accepting a childless life, and so I consider today my "childless anniversary." I've written about it in the past several times, and you can find many of those posts tagged "iVillage Childless Living message board."
- (Appropriately -- today is also Jody Day's birthday! -- happy birthday, Jody! :) )
- Speaking of Jody and Gateway Women -- some major announcements were made at the summit about what Jody, Katy and Gateway Women will be doing next:
- Jody has said she wants to focus more of her efforts over the next few years on her Conscious Childless Elderwomen project and -- once she finishes the novel she's been working on! -- a book on the subject!
- To create more space for this, she's entrusted Katy to take on the leadership/stewardship of the Gateway Women online community. Jody will continue to be part of the community, serving as a mentor to Katy, and leading the NoMo Tribe and Gateway Elderwomen sub-groups.
- Jody will be retaining the Gateway Women name for her own work, including her Reignite Weekends. As a result, the online interactive Gateway Women community she founded had to find a new name. Members were involved in the search, and at the end of the process, the new name is: Lighthouse Women.
- In part, the name was inspired by this passage from the introduction to Jody's classic book, "Living the Life Unexpected":
Hope is a light in the dark. It is my deepest wish that you find your place in this world again through the pages of this book, and that your dream of motherhood can be put to rest with the tenderness and love it deserves. Letting go of hope when you can’t see any other kind of hope ahead is terrifying, like swimming away from the shore in the dark without any idea when you’ll reach land again. Let this book be your lighthouse; let it be your hope in the dark. Those of us who’ve already made this trip are waiting for you on the other side, and many others are in the water alongside you, each feeling that they’re swimming alone.
But you’re not alone. Welcome to your Tribe.
- In addition to her new role with Gateway/Lighthouse Women, Katy plans to continue organizing an annual Childless Collective Summit, and to continue offering some of the support circles and webinars she's been doing over the past several years.
- As a Gateway Women member, I've known about these changes for a couple of weeks now, but they were not "officially" announced outside the group until this past weekend. I am looking forward to benefiting from Jody's continuing work, particularly in the "childless elderwomen" space, and to new ideas and inspiration from Katy, whose work I've also followed and admired for several years now. We are so very lucky to have both of these inspiring women in our community!
- In her presentation at the summit, another inspiring community leader, Karen Malone Wright of The NotMom (which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year), announced a new survey of both childless and childfree women, which will update the information from an earlier survey several years back. "We need to know more about what your lives are like NOW, and how we can serve you better," she writes. "As for potential sponsors, well, we're still here."
- Take the survey here -- it only takes about 6 minutes to complete.
- I loved this Washington Post article outlining "14 ways to get out of a reading slump" -- I've tried some of them myself! :)
- From The Globe & Mail recently: "People undergoing fertility treatments need greater flexibility at work." I would agree with that.
- A few commenters said something to the effect that "People need more flexibility at work, period, not just those going through fertility treatments." Yes, that too!
- After a couple of weeks of normal service, Bloglovin' went on the fritz (again!) Thursday night. I've been getting a few (very few) posts on the Bloglovin' app on my phone, but nothing on the laptop/website. SO. FRUSTRATING.
We hadn't been there on a Saturday in quite some time, and it was busier than usual, with lots of cars parked along the roads -- visitors, and preparations underway for a couple of funerals. As we parked near the columbarium structure where the urn containing Katie's ashes is interred, we noticed several other cars parked nearby, and small groups of people milling around.
A few more cars and people arrived -- about 20-25 people in all, including a couple of little girls clad in white dresses -- and a foreboding feeling came over me, as I realized exactly where they were all congregating.
Then we saw them begin to walk slowly in a procession toward the back of the section nearby, where the cemetery staff were waiting for them.
One man was carrying a very small white casket in his arms.
My heart sank. "Look," I whispered to dh. He looked. "Oh no," he said quietly, and his head dropped.
We both knew: they were in the Garden of Angels, the nearby section of the cemetery reserved for infant burials. When we visited the cemetery to make Katie's funeral arrangements, 24 years ago this summer, we were shown this section as an option for burial. All those tiny plots seemed unbearably sad, and we chose to purchase a niche for her in the nearby columbarium instead. (We later purchased a niche for ourselves in another columbarium structure nearby.)(All the niches in Katie's structure had long since been purchased.)
Over the 10+ years that we attended a local pregnancy loss support group -- first as clients, and then the as facilitators -- we came to know several families whose children were buried in the Garden of Angels. We would sometimes visit those tiny graves when we came to see Katie. We haven't walked over there in quite a while now, but the last time we did, we noticed how many more graves had been added over the years, how much further back towards the tree line the markers now extended.
We stood quietly watching, heads slightly bowed. "This brings me back a few years," dh said. "They have a long road ahead of them."
I briefly thought about walking over and introducing ourselves when the service was finished, telling them that we were so sorry for their loss, that we'd experienced something similar. That we'd survived, and they would too -- but it would take time. Lots of time.
But we had an appointment to keep, and we did not want to intrude on their grief, so raw and new. We left quietly.
But I haven't been able to get them out of my mind since then.
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.
Monday, July 11, 2022
There were between 30 & 40 people there -- members of stepMIL's family, including her nieces and nephews and their families, and dh's uncles & aunts (his late dad's brother, sisters & brothers-in-law, all now in their 70s & 80s)(but not any of his cousins). We hadn't seen any of them since pre-covid times, and (against my better judgment) there were lots of hugs and kisses on both cheeks (Italian-style) all round. Dh, BIL & SIL greeted them ahead of me and did not fend off their hugs & kisses -- and they were all so clearly delighted to see us. It's hard to be the churlish outlier...!
Older Nephew's wife wound up with a case of food poisoning (!) from takeout the night before and stayed home, but Older Nephew still came with Little Great-Nephew, who was, of course, the hit of the party (sorry, stepMIL! lol). ;) None of the aunts & uncles had seen LGN before -- their GREAT-GREAT-nephew!! (now 2 & 1/2 years old) -- and I will admit I felt a little sad as I watched them fuss over him. I work on family trees on paper and computer, and here were FOUR generations of the extended family, all together right in front of me. Something I never got to experience myself, and never will. It was special, but also a bit of an "ouch" moment.
The looming spectre of covid -- now in its SEVENTH wave hereabouts, running rampant in the almost complete absence of masks or any other restrictions -- hung over the gathering. As I wrote a few posts ago, Younger Nephew & his wife, the most covid-cautious people we know, were not planning on attending -- and then (despite all their best efforts at covid avoidance) Younger Nephew actually came down with the virus last week!! (He's pretty sure he got it from his SIL & her two little girls, who also got sick shortly after they visited.) He is feeling a lot better, albeit still a bit plugged up, but was still in no shape to be going anywhere. (His wife wisely decamped to stay with her parents nearby until he is fully recovered.)
StepMIL's youngest sister would have been there, but first her husband and then she succumbed to the virus. She's feeling better, but still testing positive, and so her only appearance was via Facetime on her oldest son's cellphone.
|Little Great-Nephew was fascinated by |
the gargantuan fountain in stepMIL's front yard. :)
One of dh's aunts told us her son (dh's cousin) recently spent a few days in Paris on business -- his wife came with him and once his work obligations were done, they spent a few days there as tourists. They arrived home to the current crowded chaos that is Toronto Pearson Airport and spent more than four & a half hours going through customs and waiting for their luggage. Despite the fact that masks are still required on flights and in airports here, they tested positive a few days later. (They decamped to their cottage "up north" to wait the virus out.)
We came home, tired, full of food, and sunburned.
Hopefully that's ALL we came home with...
(The first of my two summer surgeries -- the keratectomy/eye procedure -- is two weeks from today.)
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.
Saturday, July 9, 2022
While you might assume from the title that Anna is the main character in the book, the novel is actually narrated by the youngest of her three daughters, Jane. I liked Jane's voice here very much, albeit she seemed very mature and articulate for a 17-year-old, lol.
The opening pages dive into the action with very little preamble: 40-year-old Anna Harcourt and her three daughters -- beautiful, spoiled and selfish would-be debutante Helen; middle sister Rosalie, who has always lived in Helen's shadow; and brainy youngest sister Jane, who is planning to head to Oxford -- have always lived a very comfortable, free-spending life in a big house on Wintringham Square in London (the setting for several other DES novels). But their husband/father recently and very suddenly died, leaving them with no income and very little savings. Brother-in-law/Uncle Leonard urges them to downsize to a small flat and find jobs -- but Anna resolves instead to sell the house and return to Ryddelton, her hometown in Scotland (and the location of several other DES books -- and there are several nods made to those other stories and characters), where they can buy a small house and live more cheaply.
And then tall, dark, handsome Ronnie Ferguson enters their lives.
As I said, I enjoyed Jane's narrative voice, and the story of the three very different sisters (as well as their mother). To me (I have a younger sister), the sibling relationships and rivalries rang very true. About halfway through, there was a plot twist, and it felt like everything was going to wrap up nicely -- but (like life), the story just kept going -- and then there was another twist (a few of them, actually!) -- and then suddenly everything wrapped up (perhaps a little too suddenly and neatly) and it was the end. If there's one consistent fault with DES's books, it's that too many of them end rather abruptly. (And I'll admit that a few of the machinations that it took to get to the end of this one didn't sit quite right with me... I can't say much more without revealing some massive spoilers! lol) Still, she does always leave me wanting more...!
3 stars on Goodreads. I will count this book as a re-read when we are finished our group discussion in late August.
This was Book #31 read to date in 2022 (and Book #2 finished in July), bringing me to 69% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."
Friday, July 8, 2022
- BIL called last night to tell us that... Younger Nephew has covid!!! This was bombshell news for our family. Dh & I are pretty careful -- a lot more careful than the majority of people we know -- but Younger Nephew & his wife leave us in the dust in terms of covid precautions, lol. Believe me, if HE can get it, ANYONE can. :( (They think he picked it up at his SIL's house on Saturday -- she has two small children, and they are all sick right now too.)
- Relevant note: Earlier this week, the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health admitted that Ontario is now in a seventh (7th!!) wave of covid (fuelled by the extremely contagious Omicron BA.5). :(
- The last time we saw Younger Nephew and his wife was a week ago, on Canada Day (last Friday, July 1st) at BIL's house -- and they actually asked us all to rapid test first as a precaution (oh, the irony).
- We immediately tested again last night after BIL called (before we learned Younger Nephew almost certainly picked it up on Saturday, after we'd seen him). Negative again.
- I'm running out of free rapid tests, and I don't think the provincial government is handing them out anymore (although you might be able to find a box or two at one of the outlets where they were available, if you searched around enough). (And of course, free PCR testing at a medical facility has gone the way of the dodo bird unless you meet a very strict set of criteria.) Since we're at the start of yet another wave, which seems to be the most contagious one yet, I ordered a couple more boxes to have on hand from this supplier (recommended to me last year by Turia). We can afford to buy them, but what about people who can't?
- Meanwhile, with covid all around us (again)(still?!), we are heading to stepMIL's 80th birthday party on Sunday afternoon (!). Not sure how many people will be there -- but the weather is supposed to be nice and so I'm hoping we'll be able to stay mostly outdoors.
- Of course this is NOT a good time for me to get sick with covid (or anything else, for that matter...!), with two long-scheduled surgeries/medical procedures coming up, the first in a little more than two weeks' time...!
- SIL said, "I think we're all going to get it, sooner or later." Yeah, but even if I can't avoid it altogether, I'd prefer to prolong the inevitable for as long as I can, lol. I've already gone 2.5 years without getting infected, while some people are on their second or third round -- and the damage done to your body can be cumulative -- so I'm hoping that even if I get sick, at this point, I'm slightly ahead of the game. Plus, as time goes on, the vaccinations and treatments keep improving, and that helps too.
- Great article from The Guardian: "Keeping mum: TV’s problem with women who don’t want kids." Subhead: "Nearly 25 years after Sex and the City, TV still has a hard time accepting child-free women. Post-Roe v Wade, that needs to change."
- "So, where are these nuanced stories of child-free women on our screens? It shouldn’t come as a shock that you can be a loving, successful and mostly happy person and still not want to have kids... The lack of TV that positively depicts women who decide not to have children is particularly disappointing... "
- "...the conversation has barely moved on from one of the biggest breakthroughs for child-free women on screen: Sex and the City’s televisual debut, nearly 25 years ago... The fact that a series aired over two decades ago – which, retrospectively, got a lot of things wrong, and was very “of its time” in so many ways – is still the best portrayal of women who don’t want to have children is exasperating. And right now, we need to see the contemporary, positive stories of child-free women more than ever."
- (And where onscreen are those of us who wanted to have children but never got them?? -- and positive portrayals, at that??)
- And... hot on the heels of "Should we tax the childless?" (see my post here), another British newspaper, The Telegraph, offered up an opinion piece this week with this click-bait headline: "Child-free travellers should be banned from going on holiday this summer." (!!!) (Can you imagine the outcry if the headline targeted any other minority/diversity group??)
- I've seen some suggestions, on Twitter and elsewhere, suggesting this was meant as satire, or tongue-in-cheek. Even so -- it's just not that funny.
- One more response to the Times piece, from Glamour (UK): "First we're told we're selfish for wanting children; now we're being told we should tax the child-free: As women, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t." (Yep.)
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
(Alternate title: "Senior adventures with technology," lol)
So here's the "microblog" post I should have written for Monday, except it actually happened Monday afternoon, after I already posted. ;)
Dh & I went out to a few stores on Monday afternoon, including Best Buy. When I got my new cellphone last year, I didn't realize it didn't have an earphone jack! -- apparently none of them do anymore (!) and they didn't point that out to me at the cellphone store. (eyeroll) I took a look online at the wireless earbuds and holy cow, talk about expensive...! (particularly the branded ones that match my phone)(on top of the already expensive phone itself -- our first several phones were freebies if you signed up for a two-year plan -- but apparently they're not doing those anymore either...!).
My sister's techie boyfriend told me I could just get an adapter & keep using my old earphones (which still work fine with my laptop) -- I have several pairs, each of which cost me less than $15 when I bought them years ago, and they are perfectly fine for my purposes. I wanted to be able to use them before my eye surgery in a few weeks, because my sister (who had a similar procedure done last year) warned me I won't be able to spend a lot of time reading or on my phone for the first few days -- I figure I can listen to some podcasts -- and I wanted to be able to use my phone to do it, instead of dragging out my laptop.
So I marched into the store, nabbed a young guy who worked there, showed him my phone and my earphones and how they did NOT fit together! and asked about the adapter -- he listened with a bemused expression (I could practically hear him thinking "Okay, Boomer...!"), and went straight to the rack & pulled a little box off -- $15. It plugs in where the phone charger does -- so I can't charge my phone and listen at the same time -- but that's okay.
Dh couldn't stop laughing as we walked away. "He's probably thinking, 'Argh, old ladies...!'" dh teased. "I AM an old lady!" I retorted. (Certainly to that kid, anyway, I'm sure...!)
Whatever. I got what I wanted. :) I suppose I'll have to get the wireless ones eventually, but I'm perfectly happy with the old ones for now.
It occurred to me that if Katie (who would be turning 24) had been here, she could have come with me and picked the right thing off the rack without having to ask for help. Or maybe if she'd been around, I'd have already been using wireless earbuds years ago? Who knows??
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
- Jody Day of Gateway Women appeared on LBC Radio in London on Monday, July 4th, to chat about the proposed childless tax with Sangita Myska (who is also childless not by choice). Jody appears shortly after the one-hour mark of the program (11 p.m. program time).
- If you have time, you may want to continue listening after her segment ends, because Sangita continued to take listener calls on the issue for the remaining two hours of the program! (Just think -- a solid TWO HOURS of talking about childlessness!)(Most listeners were, thankfully, in agreement that it's a very bad idea.)
- The program will remain available online for six days (the rest of this week).
- Jody was also on the BBC (Radio Bristol) with James Hanson on July 5th, discussing the declining numbers of babies and the complex reasons why women aren't having (more) children. (Jody's segment begins at about 1:37 into the program.) The program will remain available online for about a month.
- Kat Brown (whose Instagram post alerted me to the controversial Times article), responded in Stylist magazine: "Paul Morland’s viral Sunday Times piece shows it’s easier to blame women than to make meaningful change."
- The London Economic ran an article about the backlash to the Times piece.
- The UK organization Ageing Without Children responded with this post on its blog.
- On Medium: Clair Woodward mused about "Taxing the childless, and other ways to kick us when we’re down."
- Also on Medium: Berenice Smith, one-third of the team that brings us the wonderful podcast The Full Stop every month, penned a response to Morland's piece in the Times.
- "Tax the childless! Encourage ‘our own’ to breed! What an asinine, inhumane way to tackle a population crisis" (Zoe Williams in The Guardian)
- "Welcome To Gilead" (Rachel Moss, Huffington Post UK)
- "Taxing the childless would be an insult, not a solution" (Rachel Cunliffe, The New Statesman)
- "Proposing To ‘Tax The Childless’ Isn’t Just Ludicrous, It’s Offensive" (Polly Dunbar, Grazia)
Monday, July 4, 2022
- It was Canada Day on Friday (July 1st). A relatively quiet day for dh & me and, I suspect, many of our fellow citizens, despite being the first time in three years that official celebrations were being hosted on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country. (Actually, "near" Parliament Hill instead of on it, since the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings is under extensive renovation right now and the whole area is a construction zone.)
- Canadian have never been as ardent about waving the flag as Americans and professing their patriotism -- which does not mean we love our country any less -- we're just quieter about it. ;) Or have been, anyway. Canada Day celebrations are a much bigger deal than they used to be when I was a kid, but I still don't think it's in quite the same league as the Fourth of July in the U.S.
- A couple of things have put a damper on Canada Day celebrations in recent years: first, covid (which shut down the usual official/organized celebrations for the past two years); second, revelations about the treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools just before Canada Day last year; and finally, the occupation of Ottawa, our national capital, for several weeks this past winter by a bunch of flag-waving yahoos calling themselves "patriots" and demanding "freedom" and the overthrow of the federal government.
- This Toronto Star article captured the very mixed feelings many people had about Canada Day this year. (Margaret Renkl, in the New York Times, expressed similar sentiments about the American flag and Fourth of July this year.)
- (Thankfully, despite the fact that some of the convoy participants returned to Ottawa for Canada Day, it was a mostly peaceful day.)
- It's by no means a perfect country -- and the past few years have brought that reality home in spades. But for all its flaws, it's still a damn good one, and I would not want to live anywhere else. :)
- As a Canadian, I was feeling somewhat helpless in the wake of the recent Dobbs vs Jackson decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned Roe vs Wade. Then I saw a news item (I think via Anne Helen Petersen on Twitter?) about the clinic in Fargo, North Dakota -- the only one in the state -- and the closest one to my mother's hometown in northwestern Minnesota (a two-hour drive away). It's still open for now but will likely be forced to close soon. The next-closest clinic is another four hours away in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
- Fortunately, Minnesota (where abortion is still legal) is right across the Red River from Fargo, in Moorhead -- and the clinic plans to move operations there. A GoFundMe will help cover the costs of moving and renovations to the new space. I happily made a donation. It's a small thing, but it made me feel a little bit better.
- Americans looking to Canada for abortions might find it difficult: this Washington Post article explains the limitations of the current Canadian system and the drawbacks for Americans who might want to come here.
- Moira Donegan's column in The Guardian, on the fall of Roe vs Wade, said it all. Sample passage:
The real story is the women...
The real story is about thousands of these women, not just now but for decades to come – the women, whose lives will be made smaller and less dignified by unplanned and unchosen pregnancies, the women whose health will be endangered by the long and grueling physical process of pregnancy; the women, and others, who will have to forgo dreams, end educations, curtail careers, stretch their finances beyond the breaking point, and subvert their own wills to someone else’s.
...the books that will go unwritten, the trips untaken, the hopes not pursued, and jokes not told, and the friends not met, because the people who could have lived the full, expansive, diverse lives that abortions would allow will instead be forced to live other lives, lives that are lesser precisely because they are not chosen.The real story is the millions of women, and others, who now know that they are less free than men are – less free in the functioning of their own bodies, less free in the paths of their own lives, less free in the formation of their own families.The real story is not this order; the real story is these people’s unfreedom – the pain it will inflict and the joy it will steal. The real story is women, and the real story is the impossible question: how can we ever grieve enough for them?
- Katy at Chasing Creation is hosting an Instagram Live session on Thursday, July 7th at 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern with Dr. Jay Zigmont, Certified Financial Planner and founder of Childfree Wealth. They'll be talking about financial planning when you don't have children. Details in this Instagram post.
- Dr. Zigmont just released a book on this subject! Details area available on his website -- it's available through bookstores, including Amazon. (A Kindle e-copy is just 99 cents (US)!)
- Dr. Zigmont will also be one of the featured speakers at Katy's upcoming Childless Collective Summit, and attendees will receive a free digital copy of his book! :)
- The summit will be held online and free of charge, July 14th-17th -- four jam-packed days with 40 amazing speakers from our community! Details & registration here.
- The Clan of Brothers Facebook group for childless-not-by-choice men is changing its name to The Childless Men's Community. (I've changed the name on my list of resources in the right-hand column here.)
- The organizers realized that "clan" in the U.K. (where many of the members are located) has a rather different connotation for men (and especially men of colour) in the U.S. (!).
- My longtime penpal in New Zealand alerted me to a new book (memoir) that's coming out there shortly that's relevant to us CNBCers: "You Probably Think This Song is About You" by Kate Camp. It's not (yet?) available in North America, although it can be ordered through Book Depository. ($32+ Canadian for the paperback, so I think I'll wait and see...!).
- A great excerpt of specific interest was published in a local publication: "No miracle baby here."
- From Carolyn Hax in the Washington Post: a very common situation in this community: a new mom notices her best friend has gone silent since her own miscarriage. Carolyn offers her thoughts, as do other readers in the comments.
- Anne Helen Petersen interviewed Doree Shafrir last week on her Culture Study newsletter on Substack, about "the past and future of online parenting content," in a post titled "Where can you talk about ~mom stuff~ that isn't Facebook?" .
- "I’m not a parent," says Petersen (she is childfree by choice), "but I read it [Shafrir's own newsletter] because the way we think and talk about parenthood matters to all of us. And as you’ll see below, I also think Doree understands exactly what so many of us miss and crave from contemporary media aimed at women in general and moms in particular — and doing it in a space that is not Facebook." There's a lot of talk about "the power of the mom community" and how it's changed over the years, and how to create and build community, "in real life" as well as online. The conversation continues in the comments (which, as might be expected, is also full of mom-talk).
- I enjoy Petersen's work, and I get why she finds parenthood an interesting topic (I do too) -- and I am all for online spaces that are not Facebook too.
- Nevertheless! Here's my comment (below one from someone who identified as a non-parent). It's had five "likes" so far:
I am not a parent either (not by choice)... I have to admit, I am a little envious of the automatic "in" that parents get into community networks, simply by virtue of being parents and the common experiences they share in that regard. (Case in point: a commenter above notes "IRL community matters so much - and parenting is a huge part of community.") Those of us who aren't parenting have to work harder to build new connections and to maintain our connections with friends & relatives who are parenting (and who don't always have the time or energy for us on top of everything else on their plate). It can be very difficult and frankly very lonely sometimes.
AHP, I would LOVE for you to chat with Jody Day of Gateway Women about the childless (not by choice) experience and bridging the gap between parents and non-parents. :)
- Coincidentally! -- the next morning, I found this somewhat-related post by Yael Wolfe on Medium: "If You’re Not a Mother, You’re Not Welcome at Our Retreat: How pronatalism is redefining female support systems and self-care." She says it all so much better than I can! -- please go read the whole thing! (beware the comments, though...!) -- but to pique your interest, here are a few excerpts. She starts by noting the proliferation of moms-only retreats:
What bothered me about this, however, is the way these retreats are positioning themselves, their target demographic, and by extension, me and other women without children.
These mothers-only spaces are not a new thing, folks. Women without children have been excluded from the sisterhood in countless ways over the centuries. We know we don’t belong. We’ve been told. We’ve been shown. We got it.So if the goal is respecting the journey that women who have children are on, then what about respecting the journeys of the childfree and childless?
Isn’t it a little worrisome that so many women assume that childless and childfree women cannot possibly understand the hardships of motherhood in any way? ...The level of emotional immaturity, apathy, and total lack of cognition that we would have to have to not understand any aspect of motherhood is staggering. And to make that assumption about women who don’t have kids is even more staggering. That’s a potent cocktail of pronatalism and misogyny right there that many women don’t realize they’ve been sipping.
It seems so odd to me that so many women who have children work so hard to separate themselves from women who don’t. Whether it’s ending friendships with women who don’t have children or gatekeeping retreats that are only for mothers, why on earth wouldn’t mothers want our support? Why on earth wouldn’t they want to lean on us and welcome us into their world?And why on earth can’t they see that we have our own hardships that maybe they ought to show up for, just as we try to show up for them?
- British journalist Kat Brown at No One Talks About This Stuff on Instagram (also the name of her forthcoming book) flagged an opinion article from the Sunday Times (UK) that (as one commenter put it) seemed like it was drawn straight from The Onion (satirical site).
- Unfortunately, it wasn't. The proposal being put forward by demographer Paul Morland: "Should we tax the childless?" His answer was (naturally!) an enthusiastic yes, with the aim of increasing the UK's birth rate ("grow our own" -- and thus avoid having to rely on those pesky immigrants for future labour requirements...). Among his recommendations:
- "Create a “pro-natal” culture" [like there isn't one already??].
- "...including a national day to celebrate parenthood." [Said Kat: "wait until he finds out we already have two!" -- isn't that what Mother's Day and Father's Day are all about?]
- "...and a telegram from the Queen whenever a family has a third child." [Telegram?? What century is this guy living in? And -- if you're going to encourage the births of third children -- wouldn't it be better to offer financial incentives, better maternity leave & daycare, etc.??]
- "Public figures can lead the way with words and actions (the prime minister, with his seven known offspring, has a track record in this regard)." [Love the phrase "KNOWN offspring"!!][Said Kat: "don’t even get me started on suggested Boris Johnson has some kind of parenting role model."]
- Also: "Sacrifice a portion of the green belt around London and other cities to free up additional space for more, cheaper family homes." [To quote Joni Mitchell: "They paved paradise, put up a parking lot..."]
- Tax credits for parents and a “negative child benefit” tax for non-parents. "This may seem unfair on those who can’t or won’t have children, but it recognises that we all rely on there being a next generation and that everyone should contribute to the cost of creating that generation." [Like we don't already contribute by paying taxes for schools and other services to benefit other people's children, services that we and/or our children will never get to use ourselves?]
- "Educate people that getting pregnant becomes more difficult with age." [I'm all for greater fertility awareness at a younger age -- but "educate people" has a slightly sinister ring to it...]
- As Kat said on Instagram, "it’s easier than putting pressure on the government to actually do something useful for its citizens, whatever their makeup... don’t worry about responsibility as long as you’re spraying children into the world. Even if you aren’t being responsible about the future those children face."
- The UK organization Ageing Without Children has posted a response. There's also a lot of reaction on Twitter.
Saturday, July 2, 2022
The first time I read "Anne of Green Gables" -- the classic first novel by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, published in 1908 -- I was about 8 or 9 years old. It was around 1969-70, and my family had recently moved to a small, remote, rural community in northwestern Manitoba. To our dismay, the town lacked a local library -- the closest one was 40 miles away -- but we soon learned we could order, receive and return books from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, through the mail! (I wrote about this service in a post here.)
I don't know if I'd heard of "Anne of Green Gables" somewhere before, or if I was intrigued by the description in the library catalogue, but I do remember that's where I got the book from. I read and returned it -- and then devoured the sequels, one after another -- as well as Montgomery's other novels -- and bought some copies of my own -- and re-read them all, over and over again during the years I was growing up and entering young adulthood (to the point that some of my personal copies started falling apart!).
I was infatuated. I started naming objects and places around the town like Anne did. I already loved to read books and use big words like Anne (and felt like a misfit among my peers, as a result). Anne was even Canadian, like me! Clearly, I had found a "kindred spirit."
I can't tell you when the LAST time I read "Anne of Green Gables" was, but it's safe to say it was quite a while ago -- certainly more than 20 years ago, very likely more than 30 and possibly even 40 or more. In the interim, I've seen multiple movie and TV versions of the book (albeit not the recent "Anne with an E" series); I've read books about Montgomery herself and read scholarly publications about her work. (I was an English major at university, but unfortunately, the study of "CanLit" and (especially) Montgomery specifically was only in its infancy then.) I still haven't been to PEI -- yet!! -- but in the early 1970s, we went to Winnipeg on my sister's birthday to see a touring production of "Anne of Green Gables" the musical that's been performed in Charlottetown every summer since 1965 (with time out in 2019 and 2020 because of the covid pandemic -- but it's back this year!) -- and my high school drama club put on a non-musical "Anne of Green Gables" play when I was in Grade 10. I hoped for the part of Diana or Anne herself -- but alas, I wound up playing... Anne's nemesis, Josie Pye!
So -- needless to say -- the story has become well engrained in my memory -- and when I opened my newly purchased copy of the book (I splurged, and bought the entire Anne box set produced by Tundra Books!) and started reading, even after all these years, I could practically recite the words on some of the pages without even looking at them -- they were so very familiar. It was like coming home to an old friend. (And how appropriate that I finished reading it on the Canada Day long weekend...!) :)
I picked up "Anne" again recently because, after covering 7 other (non-Anne) Montgomery novels since the pandemic began in March 2020, my L.M. Montgomery Readathon group on Facebook announced that "Anne of Green Gables" -- the book that started it all -- would be our next read together.
By now, the basic plot is pretty well known: middle-aged brother & sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (both unmarried and childless) decide to adopt a boy, unseen, from an orphanage in Nova Scotia, to help Matthew with the work on their Prince Edward Island farm near the small town of Avonlea. But when Matthew goes to pick up the child at the train station, the boy turns out to be a precocious 11-year-old girl with bright red hair, freckles, a wild imagination and a prolific vocabulary, who is overjoyed at the prospect of finally having a real home. Reluctant to send the child back to the orphanage and an uncertain fate, the Cuthberts decide to keep her anyway, changing their lives (and Anne's -- and ours!) in ways they never could have imagined. And thus, a literary phenomenon was born. :)
I may be pretty familiar with the story but there were a few things I'd forgotten about or was reminded of: for example, right from the start of the book, the reader is confronted by certain stereotypes about orphans and adoption (particularly as cited by neighbourhood busybody Mrs. Rachel Lynde in the opening chapter), some of which linger to this day. Of course, unlike Anne, most adoptees today are not orphans whose parents are dead. They are usually surrendered for adoption (through agencies or private arrangements) because their biological parents are unable to care for them, or they are placed in foster care by the state, until they are reunited with their families, or parental rights are relinquished or terminated and they become available for adoption.
For all that I love "Anne of Green Gables," I wouldn't call it my favourite LMM novel (or maybe even my favourite "Anne" book). That would be a toss-up between "Rilla of Ingleside" (which is about Anne's youngest daughter, growing up during the years of the First World War), "The Blue Castle," and "Jane of Lantern Hill" -- all books we've covered in the Readathon, and all reviewed on this blog. Nevertheless, and despite some of the dated aspects mentioned above, it's still a classic (and deservedly so), and it's easy to see why it's still so beloved, in Canada and around the world, more than 100 years after it was first published.
4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on Goodreads. :)
Our chapter-by-chapter group discussion of "Anne of Green Gables" begins on Monday, July 4th. If you're a fan, come join us! I will count this book again as a re-read once we're finished (in mid-November).
At the recent biennial conference of the L.M. Montgomery Institute of the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, the L.M. Montgomery Readathon received the 2022 Dr. Francis W.P. Bolger Award, which is presented for "outstanding contributions to our appreciation of Montgomery and place in Prince Edward Island, through scholarship, education, preservation, creative works, or by other means." Announcing the award, Philip Smith said, in part, "The last two years and more have been times, for some, of separation, loss, fear, and loneliness. The L.M. Montgomery Readathon has invited people into the Montgomery community, invited connections with her Prince Edward Island, from the early days of the pandemic. It has provided a route for Montgomery to serve during the pandemic as a refuge, an inspiration, a means to community." :)
This was Book #30 read to date in 2022 (and Book #1 finished in July), bringing me to 67% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."
Friday, July 1, 2022
Last year at this time, I did a mid-year check-in on the status of my Goodreads Reading Challenge and other reading goals -- and since the year is once again halfway over (WTF?!) I thought it was timely to do it again. :)
In my 2021 Reading Year in Review post last December, I wrote:
- Since I reached [my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of] 36 books fairly easily this year (by July), I've decided to stretch a bit and increase my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal to 45 books ( = 3.75 books per month on average) for 2022. I've read more than 45 books in two of the past three years (2019 & 2021, and almost 45 in the third year -- 43 in 2020), so I think that's a reasonable/realistic goal to set.
Here we are at the midpoint of 2022 -- which would suggest I should have read 22-24 books by now to keep up the pace of 3-4 books per month towards 45 by the end of the year. Well, I got to 22 books in late April (with a group re-read of L.M. Montgomery's "The Story Girl," reviewed here), and crossed the 50% threshold in May. I am currently at 29 books finished = 64% of my goal. I read 5 books in January, 6 in February, 5 in March, 6 in April, 3 in May and 4 in June. At this time last year (end of June), I had reached 34 books. So I'm a little behind versus where I was last year, in terms of number of books read, but still on pace to reach or exceed my goal of 45 books before the end of the year.
I do expect to fall a bit further off pace later this summer/early fall. My eye surgery is set for July 25th, and my sister (who had a similar surgery last year) has warned me I will have to lay off the screens (and presumably that includes e-readers and paper books) for at least a week while I recover. Three weeks after that, I'm having gallbladder removal surgery on Aug. 15th... presumably that won't have any impact on my vision, but it might affect my powers of concentration/focus, at least initially. So I'm trying to cram in the books my various book groups will be covering over the next while before then...!
I didn't set any other "official" reading goals or challenges for 2022. Back in January 2020, I wrote a post (responding to a post of Mel's) about tackling my TBR (to be read) pile by making a "TBR priority list." I wrote:
Some of the books I've been meaning to get to for quite a while now include "Us Against You" and "Anxious People" by Fredrik Backman (after reading & loving "Beartown" for my library book club), "The Huntress" by Kate Quinn (after reading & enjoying "The Alice Network" for my library book club -- and she has a new book coming out soon too... gahhhhh...), "My Dark Vanessa" by Kate Elizabeth Russell (which I keep putting off, even though several people I know have read it & rated it highly, because it sounds... dark... and I need to be in the right frame of mind to tackle something like that), and "Maisie Dobbs" by Jacqueline Winspear, which By the Brooke recommended to me a long time ago. ;)
*(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.)
- There were 1,030 new cases reported in Ontario on June 1st, and 777 on June 16th.
- 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.)
- Test positivity was 8% on June 1st and 6.9% on June 16th.
- Hospitalizations declined from 722 on June 1st to 491 on June 16th, then increased to 585 on June 30th (up 20.4% over the previous week).
- There were 127 patients with COVID-19 in Ontario's ICUs on June 1st, declining to 109 on June 16th and 95 on June 30th.
- There were 24 deaths on June 1st and 6 on June 16th, 16 on June 29th and 9 on June 30th (up 115% over the previous week).
- On June 30th, 86.3% of Ontario's total population has had at least one vaccine, 83.2% had at least two, but just 50.5% had received a third dose. These numbers have not budged much over the past couple of months.
- We visited SIL & Little Great-Nephew at BIL & SIL's house 5 times.
- We voted in the provincial election on Thursday, June 2nd. The place where we vote was not too far from where we lived, there was no lineup when we went (around 2 p.m.), and we were in & out of there in minutes. (We later learned that voter turnout was the lowest in any federal or provincial election in the past 100 years! -- go figure??)
- We had haircuts back in our old community on Saturday, June 4th.
- We went to Canadian Tire, the bookstore and the drugstore on June 9th. Back to Canadian Tire on June 22nd.
- We were back at the drugstore on June 14th, as well as a trip to the gelato shop. :)
- Dh went to our condo corporation's annual meeting of owners on June 15th. (They requested only one person attend per unit, to help with social distancing.) Of the 31 people there, only 3 people wore masks (including him).
- Dh took the car in to the dealer for regular servicing on June 16th, something he hadn't done in more than a year. (Of course, the car hasn't been driven much over the past year either...!)
- Dh had a colonoscopy on June 20th, at a clinic near our condo building, and I walked over and escorted him home when he was done.
- "These Precious Days" by Ann Patchett (the Gateway Women book club pick for June)(My review).
- "Rachel's Holiday" by Marian Keyes. (My review.)
- "Again, Rachel" by Marian Keyes (the sequel to "Rachel's Holiday" and the Gateway Women book club pick for July). (My review.)
- "The House of the Deer" by D.E. Stevenson (re-read; chapter-by-chapter discussion with my DES online fan group, which began on April 25th). (My review.)
- "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery, the next book for my LMM Readathon Facebook group -- the 1908 classic that started it all! (We begin our chapter-by-chapter discussions on July 4th! -- if you're a fan of Anne and you're on Facebook, come join us!)
- "The Menopause Manifesto" by Dr. Jen Gunter.
- For my D.E. Stevenson fan group:
- "Anna and her Daughters" (starting July 11th and ending in late August).
- "Sarah Morris Remembers" (likely to begin in September, after we finish "Anna & Her Daughters").
- 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 mostly for North Americans.) Our sixth call, discussing Chapter 6, was on June 19th, and we'll discuss Chapter 7 in mid-July. 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. :)
- "The Unthinkable" by Amanda Ripley
- "Black Cake" by Charmaine Wilkerson
- "Left on Tenth" by Delia Ephron
- "The First Kennedys" by Neal Thompson
- "Truly, Madly" by Stephen Galloway
- "Flesh and Blood" by N. West Moss
- "Jesus and John Wayne" by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
- "The Premonition" by Michael Lewis
- "Northern Spy" by Flynn Berry
- "Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus
- "Unthinkable" by Jamie Raskin
- "Watergate" by Garrett M. Graff
- "The Beauty of Dusk" by Frank Bruni