*(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: July was Month #28 (going on #29) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. Wave #7 (!) -- driven by the Omicron A.5 sub-variant -- is officially here -- confirmed by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health on July 6th (happy wedding anniversary to me...! -- not that I was at all surprised...). And things will likely not improve once the colder weather arrives in the fall and we start moving back indoors...
AND, of course, we are muddling through the summer with (almost) no mask mandates (and fewer & fewer people wearing them), no restrictions, stalled-out vaccination rates, and limited data -- (no) thanks to a recently re-elected provincial government & premier whose attitude over the past several months has basically been "move along, nothing to see here" and "you're own on." :p (Both the premier and health minister have been mostly absent from public view and media availability over the past month, as the numbers climbed again, and as more and more hospitals are dealing with staff shortages and other resource issues, to the point of having to close emergency rooms, because they just can't handle the numbers.) More and more people we know, as well as friends and family members of friends, and others in my social media feeds, are coming down with the virus, many for the first time, after managing to avoid it for the past two-and-a-half years -- including our ultra-cautious Younger Nephew.
This Globe and Mail editorial from July 13th lays out the situation nicely. (This first-person essay by the marvellous Ian Brown is also worth a read -- and is not, I think, behind the paywall: "I caught COVID, again – this time, nobody cares.")
As of June 16th, the government has been reporting covid data weekly instead of daily (on Thursdays). :( The Toronto Star (my main source of covid data) has started a brand-new weekly stats tracking page -- but not all data categories that were previously reported are still being disclosed there :( although there are probably other places where that data could be found (if you hunt for it...!).
Among the latest stats (last updated July 28th):
- New case numbers & test positivity rates are no longer reported (on the Star's page, anyway -- not that they've been very accurate anyway, since PCR testing was limited/cut back at the peak of the Omicron outbreak in late December/early January).
- Hospitalizations (people in hospitals testing positive for covid) increased from 538 on July 1st to 1,492 on July 28th (up 0.7% over the previous week). Peak was 1,529 on July 26th.
- There were 101 patients with COVID-19 in Ontario's ICUs testing positive for COVID-19 or there for COVID-19 related illness on July 1st, and 138 on July 28th, up 9.5% over the previous week.
- There were 9 deaths on July 1st and 15 on July 28th. Peak was 25 on July 27th. The 7-day average was 11.7, up 32.3% over the previous week.
- On July 28th, 86.4% of Ontario's total population has had at least one vaccine, 83.4% had at least two, but just 50.8% had received a third dose. (No stats provided for fourth doses.) These numbers have not budged much over the past couple of months.
- Eligibility for fourth shots/second boosters here in Ontario was (finally!) expanded on July 14th to anyone 18 years old or older who received their first booster 5 months earlier or more. Previously, the second boosters were restricted to those aged 60 and older. Dh & I (being in that category) had ours in mid-May.
- The province also announced then that it would continue to make free rapid tests available until the end of the year... just after I bought several boxes from an online supplier, of course...!
With a population of just over 14 million, Ontario has logged 1,350,212 (officially counted) cases of covid (37, 373 active) and 13,531 deaths. For Canada as a whole (population 38 million), those numbers are 4,027,954 cases and 42,589 deaths reported. (These numbers are from The Globe & Mail, as of July 22nd.)
On the personal pandemic front: Despite the almost complete lack of both mask mandates and voluntary masking hereabouts, dh & I continue to wear them when out in public, and remain (mostly) socially distanced -- particularly toward the mid/end of the month, in anticipation of my eye surgery on July 25th. On top of dh's weekly (masked) trips to the supermarket for groceries and for occasional takeout lunches & dinners:
- We visited SIL & Little Great-Nephew at BIL & SIL's house 3 times, including one morning when we stayed with LGN while SIL went for a medical appointment.
- We spent a few hours on Canada Day (Friday, July 1st) at BIL & SIL's with both nephews, their wives, and Little Great-Nephew (entertaining us all!). (And the dog! -- miss him!!)
- We dropped off some donations at Value Village (thrift shop), picked up light bulbs at Home Depot, an adapter for earphones for my cellphone at Best Buy, and then stopped at Chapters (bookstore), all on the afternoon of July 4th.
- Back to Chapters and also to the drugstore on July 15th.
- We treated ourselves to gelato on our 37th (!) wedding anniversary, July 6th.
- BIL & SIL came over for coffee -- and wi-fi! -- after supper on July 8th, for the first time since the pandemic began. Their telecomm provider -- Rogers, Canada's largest -- was out of service for the entire day, creating mass chaos across the country. (We're with the country's other major provider, Bell Canada, and were not affected -- other than not being able to contact anyone with Rogers!)
- We went to StepMIL's 80th birthday party on Sunday, July 10th. The weather was gorgeous, fortunately, because there were about 40 people there, and we were able to be outside the whole afternoon.
- We went back to our old community on the afternoon of July 16th for haircuts.
- Later that afternoon, we headed up to Older Nephew's house for a joint birthday party for SIL & BIL (his 60th). It was just them, us, Older Nephew and Little Great-Nephew (and the dog), but we had a nice time. :)
- Dh went to the urgent care clinic near us on July 21st, after almost two weeks of sneezing and itchy, red eyes & eyelids, :( (He couldn't get an appointment with our own family doctor until July 29th! -- he went for a follow-up then, by which time he was feeling much better.) He wound up going to two different drugstores afterward, trying to get his prescription filled. We think the culprit was a new variety of heavily scented shampoo, which he has stopped using.
- We headed to a downtown hospital on July 25th for my eye surgery.
- And we had a family get-together yesterday (Sunday, July 31st) at BIL's for Younger Nephew's 30th birthday, later this week -- where WE were the ones who got a great present! :)
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Also right now:
Reading: I finished just 2 books in July (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2022 books"). I'd hoped to cram in at least one more before my eye surgery, but there were a lot of distractions this month...!:
- "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery. My LMM Readathon Facebook group began reading & discussing this book on July 4th, chapter by chapter (two chapters per week) -- it's not too late to join in! :) I will count this book as a re-read when we're done in November.
- "Anna and her Daughters" by D.E. Stevenson (in advance of my DES group read, which started July 11th. I will count this as a re-read when we're done in late August.)
This brings me to 31 books read so far in 2022, which brings me to 69% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway) 5 books ahead of schedule. :)
Most of my book groups have their next reads plotted out for a few months in advance -- and listing them here helps me keep track of what I should be reading next. ;)
- For my D.E. Stevenson fan group:
- "Sarah Morris Remembers" (likely to begin in September, after we finish "Anna & Her Daughters").
- For the Gateway Women book club:
- "Exit" by Belinda Bauer (August)
- "Tales of the City" by Armistead Maupin (September)
- "Bewildered" by Laura Waters (October)
- 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.) I missed our seventh call, on July 17th, to discuss Chapter 7. We'll discuss Chapter 8 in mid-August. 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 ($5 or less) or purchased with points):
- "I'm So Happy for You" by Lucinda Rosenfeld
- "Five Little Indians" by Michelle Good
- "Jackie & Me" by Louis Bayard
- "Going There" by Katie Couric
- "The Beauty of Living Twice" by Sharon Stone
- "All That She Carried" by Tiya Miles
- "I Was Better Last Night" by Harvey Fierstein
- "Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama" by Bob Odenkirk
- "Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks" by Patrick Radden Keefe (this one was on sale in hardcover)
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Watching: (Still) Waiting for season 2 of "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" to resume on CNN on Sunday nights...
We watched more of the January 6th committee hearings on CNN this past month.
PBS had a fascinating four-part series from the UK called "In the Footsteps of..." in which the host (Gyles Brandreth) visited the places and events provided inspiration for some famous British authors: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Thomas Hardy. We saw all four episodes.
There are lots of movies out right now that we'd like to see, but we haven't been to a theatre since pre-covid. I still like seeing movies in a theatre, on a big screen, munching on a big bag of overpriced theatre popcorn (lol), but maybe it's time to explore pay per view??
Listening: I was trying to stay off screens as much as possible for the first while after my eye procedure -- mainly because it was just too difficult/uncomfortable! :( But I have been listening to a ton of podcasts! Among others, I caught up on episodes of The Full Stop and New Legacy Radio (both geared to the childless/free communities), as well as several one-off appearances by Jody Day of Gateway Women on various podcasts.
I also loved hearing Jess (of My Path to Mommyhood and A Different Path) and Greg (of A Few Pieces Missing From Normalcy) talk about living childless/free after NOT adopting, on episode #306 of Lori Holden (Lavender Luz)'s podcast Adoption: The Long View -- definitely worth a listen!
I also dove into several episodes of a podcast hosted by members of the original family rock band of the 1960s & 1970s (who were the real-life models for The Partridge Family!), The Cowsills. Brothers Bob & Paul and sister Susan (the youngest of SEVEN!! kids, AND the only girl, who is just two years older than me) are still singing and touring together, joined occasionally on stage and on the podcast by brother John, who also tours as the drummer for the Beach Boys! as well as other musicians of the era, with an emphasis on other family bands (among the interviews I listened to were ones with Jay Osmond, Tony DeFranco, Bo Donaldson of the Heywoods, and Steve Van Zandt). There's lots of sibling banter and trying to get a word in edgewise -- it can get a bit chaotic, but it's all good fun. :) I was just a little too young to have been a fan at the time they were making it big, but I do remember them being in the teen magazines just as I started reading them (in the heyday of Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy), and later bought and loved a collection of their greatest hits. Look up a few of their old clips on YouTube, and then a few more recent ones -- listen and marvel at their amazing harmonies, then and now!
I never got into Wordle (at least not yet?) but I recently heard about another "one puzzle a day" online game that was right up my alley -- it's called Heardle (and just after I discovered it, it was bought by Spotify). You get six attempts to identify the song and the artist from listening to the first few seconds of the song. Each attempt gives you a few seconds more (up to 15 seconds total) -- the fewer the attempts, the higher your score. I'm usually pretty good at identifying a song within the first few bars -- especially if it's classic rock or pop (60s/70s/80s, and I'm not bad with the 90s either -- less so with newer stuff and rap/hiphop, which is NOT my thing...!). Currently, I'm at 3/15 or 20% correct.
Eating/Drinking: We enjoyed a nice takeout dinner on our wedding anniversary from one of our favourite restaurants on July 6th, including a pasta dish we both enjoy, garlic bread, a bottle of chardonnay (half-price with takeout) and a slice of key lime pie to share for dessert (which we normally don't splurge on). The portions were generous enough that we wound up having leftover pasta for lunch the next day too. :) (We even ordered online for the first time! -- usually I just call our order in. Dh always goes to pick it up. We've never used UberEats or DoorDash, etc.)
We also tried a new place for takeout Greek food, which we both love, recommended by BIL. (Dh's family is Italian, but he grew up in a predominantly Greek neighbourhood of Toronto, and we often used to go there for souvlaki with his cousins in the early days of our marriage.) The portions were MASSIVE, but very tasty! We both had the chicken souvlaki on a pita and ordered small portions of both fries and roasted potatos. We didn't even touch the potatos, and only managed to eat half the souvlaki -- we had the leftovers for dinner two nights later, and we were back again for more towards the end of the month!
I've been guzzling water like crazy since my eye surgery; not sure why? My eyes have certainly been feeling dry, and the prescription drops I've been taking seem to irritate my throat and leave a bad taste back there. Hopefully temporary!
Buying (besides books, lol): An earphone adapter for my cellphone (recounted here)(lol).
Replenished our supply of rapid tests, from this supplier, recommended by Turia (before we learned that free distribution of rapid tests will continue to the end of the year! -- although they're not always easy to find -- and you usually have to remember to ask the cashier for them -- and dh usually just breezes through the self-checkout whenever he's there himself...!).
Wearing: Tank tops and denim shorts around the house, capris in public. And sunglasses around the house, for the first two days or so after my eye procedure (which left me very light sensitive).
Enjoying: More time on the balcony with a book and a glass of iced tea, on nice (not too hot) days (mostly earlier in the month).
Appreciating: My vision, more than ever!
Noticing: Gradual improvements since my eye surgery... not fast enough for my liking, perhaps, but there has been progress...!
How fast the summer is going by!
Wondering: Whether I'll do better in terms of progress towards my reading goals in August??
Wanting: To heal from my eye procedure faster than it's going at the moment. (Sigh.)
Prioritizing: Post-op self-care.
Waiting: For my second summer surgery: gallbladder removal on Aug. 15th.
(Still) Hoping: For a fall trip home to see my family, once I've recuperated sufficiently. And that the current mess at the national (and international!) airports (and Toronto Pearson in particular, which was recently ranked one of the worst airports in the world right now re: delays, cancellations, lost baggage, etc...!) clears up by then....! (One good thing about not travelling right now, I guess...!). We're thinking of trying to make do with carry-ons if we decide to fly, so as not to have to deal with the hassle of checked luggage right now.
Trying: To catch up on my backlogged (since my eye surgery) email, blog reading & commenting, social media, etc. -- while not overdoing it.
Loving: Spending time with family this month, especially outside when it's not too hot.
Feeling: Relieved to have the eye surgery done. Impatient with the pace of my recovery. A little nervous about the next surgery (gallbladder removal on Aug. 15th). Glad it's summer! SO happy about the prospect of a new little great-nephew or great-niece, due in February. :)