Monday, October 31, 2022

MicroblogMondays: Blogoversary #15 (!)

Fifteen (15)(!!) years ago, on Halloween night in 2007 -- 9 years after the stillbirth of our daughter, and 6 years after my last infertility treatment -- I hit "post" here for the very first time, and started my journey down yet another road less travelled: blogging.  

I'm not sure what more I can say about the past 15 years that I haven't said in my previous years of blogoversary postsBlogging has been a joy and a release and a comfort, and has brought so much to my life. 

This year hasn't been quite so prolific in blogging terms as 2021 --163 posts so far (not including this one) versus 178 at this time last year. Still, not too shabby...!  Even if I didn't publish another post this year, it would still be my 5th-most productive blogging year out of the past 15!  Somehow, I still keep finding things to write about... and I am very glad that people keep reading and commenting!  

Whether you're new here or whether you've been here the entire time (and I know a few of you have!) -- THANK YOU!  ❤

*** *** *** 

Blogging stats, 15 years later:  
Number of years blogging: 15

Published posts (including this one): 2,172

Average # of posts per year: 145

Average # of posts per month: 12 

(So far in calendar year 2022, I've published 163 posts -- 164, including this one -- a minimum of 12 posts (in June) and as many as 20 in one month (September).)

Published comments: 11,813 

Page views (all time):  1,262,923 (!!) 

Followers (on Blogger):  151 

Past blogoversary posts here.

First blog post ever here! :) 

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

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Weekend odds & ends

  • Older Nephew & his wife LOVE Halloween.  They've both taken Monday off work, and Little Great-Nephew will be staying home with them (and going out trick-or-treating later in his Buzz Lightyear costume, which I wrote about here).  "It's like Christmas for them," dh observed.  
    • Unlike last year -- LGN's first time out trick-or-treating -- no invitations have been issued to us or to the grandparents. Last year, Halloween was on a Sunday;  this year, it's on a weekday/workday. BIL is still working;  SIL has a part-time job on top of looking after LGN during the day, and Older Nephew lives an hour away from us. Logistically, it would be pretty difficult to make the trip. (But if they'd asked, we'd have been there...!) 
  • As a longtime Agatha Christie fan, I couldn't resist this article about two friends who started a podcast, where they would "read and rank all of Christie’s 66 mystery novels, and discuss them in exhaustive detail." But it's not just about Agatha, or the podcast. It's a wonderful story (albeit somewhat sad), even if you've never read a Christie book (what?!!). 
    • Most of my Christie reading took place when I was a teenager, but I revisited two of the Tommy & Tuppence books in November 2015, in tandem with a British TV series based on them. My reviews of both books & TV versions, here and here.  (I will also swear that I've read "And Then There Were None" within the past decade, but if I did, I didn't write about it on this blog.) 
  • From The Atlantic: "Adoption Is Not a Fairy-Tale Ending: It’s a complicated beginning." The author, Erika Hayasaki, has just published a book on identical twins raised in radically different circumstances. Worth a read (and worth sharing with those who tell you that you can always "just adopt").   
    • Excerpt: "In America, popular narratives about adoption tend to focus on happy endings. Poor mothers who were predestined to give their children away for a “better life”; unwanted kids turned into chosen ones; made-for-television reunions years later... the reality of adoption is far more complicated than some might think—and, as many adoptees and scholars have argued, deserving of a more clear-eyed appraisal across American culture." 
  • I recently mused:  "I've long been fascinated by the idealization of motherhood and the role of "momfluencer" culture, and the power they have to warp women's sense of self-worth. Most writing in this vein, of course, focuses on the pressure this puts on mothers to live up to the ideal -- [but] fails to take the next step and ponder how these unattainable ideals affect those of us who wanted to be mothers and never even got the chance to try to live up them. Still, it's a topic worth pondering." 
    • Case in point: Sara Petersen of "In Pursuit of Clean Countertops" interviewed Chelsea Conoboy this week about "How the myth of maternal instinct perpetuates the myth of the Ideal Mother."  They make some excellent points about how the myth began and has been perpetuated (hint: it was created by men, whose Ideal Mother was white), its impact on systemic issues (parental leave and affordable, universal childcare), and how it affects women's experiences of pregnancy, birth and new motherhood.  
    • The one glancing nod made to non-mothers here (emphasis mine): "Even before I had specifically targeted maternal instinct as something to be viewed with suspicion if not downright antipathy, as soon as I had my first kid, I knew in my bones that the cultural belief that women are “good” at motherhood (and so should become mothers if they want to be considered “good” people) was a scam." 
    • I wish they had expanded more on that thought. I wish they had talked, at least a little, about how damaging the idea of "maternal instinct" can be when you're not a mother AT ALL (for whatever reason) -- the idea that (a) all women want babies, (b) women will stop at nothing to fulfill their dreams of motherhood (and thus, if you wanted children and don't have them, you obviously didn't want them ENOUGH), and (c) if you didn't want babies at all, there's something REALLY wrong with you...!  
  • My new KitchenAid stand mixer is here! (The story behind it, here.)  Isn't it gorgeous?? (I will have to test it out soon...!)

My new KitchenAid stand mixer.  :) 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Would you watch?

At the end of my recent review of C.J. Carey's new novel, "Queen High," I mused: 

I think that -- properly done -- "Widowland" and "Queen High" would make a great TV series, a la "The Handmaid's Tale." :)  

And I still think it would.  :)  The visuals alone would be amazing, I think...!  There are important messages in these books that deserve a broader audience. 

But (as we all know, all too well!) "deserving" doesn't always mean getting, unfortunately.  Part of me wonders -- what studio/producer these days would touch this material? And what sort of an audience would it have? 

Yes, there's Rose to focus on as the main heroine -- young, pretty, in love.  But beyond Rose, I would argue that the central heroines of the book are the Friedas of the Widowlands -- the elderly (which, in this book, is defined as 50+!), the widows, the childless -- precisely the segments that our very pronatalist society (and television, and movies) is generally the most uncomfortable with and most apt to ignore. (Nevermind the political messaging of the book, which contains some uncomfortable parallels to current-day events & players...!) 

While "The Handmaid's Tale" does celebrate women's right to decide their own futures and control their own bodies, it is also a celebration of motherhood and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child(ren). The television series in particular has focused on and expanded on this angle (far beyond the material in Margaret Atwood's original book), and never more so than the last few episodes I've seen this season, with Serena subjecting herself to Handmaid-like conditions in order to be close to her infant son, and June once more willing to risk her freedom in order to be reunited with Hannah. Hollywood -- and society generally -- loves to celebrate youth and fertility, yummy mummies and adorable babies -- not old, childless women in black living in poverty, however literate and brave and resourceful they might be. 

"Old infertile women are the opposite of everything this country stands for," an Alliance official says in "Queen High." "We have a fertility crisis. The nation's crying out for new children. Londinium needs more citizens, not swarms of aged women who live outside society. They serve no purpose. They exist purely for themselves."  Dare I suggest this quote would not sound out of place in some present-day conservative quarters (and not just in the U.S.)?  

Thoughts?  Would you watch? 

If you read this blog, I know you probably would -- but do you think such subject matter would fly with a broader television audience?

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"Queen High" by C.J. Carey

(WARNING:  This review contains some mild spoilers related to the outcome of the first book in this series, "Widowland.")  

Queen High" by C.J. Carey is the sequel to "Widowland," which I read (and loved) at this time last year and reviewed here. :)  It was released on Oct. 13th in the U.K. (in hardcover), but it won't be available in North America until next July (2023)(and under a different title too -- "The Last Queen").  (Personally, having now read the book, I think "Queen High" is a much better title -- but, not my decision...!) 
It will be interesting to see whether the North American version has any significant text changes, when it's published next summer. ("Widowland" did! -- and most of the material in the epilogue that was tacked onto the North American edition does show up in "Queen High."

I decided I didn't want to wait nine months -- so I splurged and ordered a copy from Amazon UK. :)  It was delivered the same day I arrived home from visiting my parents, and I started reading it as soon as I finished the book I had already started, "Magpie Murders" (reviewed here).

To recap/set the stage: both "Widowland" and "Queen High" take place in Britain in the 1950s -- a Britain that capitulated to/formed an "alliance" with Nazi Germany in 1940 and has been operating under a "Protectorate" since then. Memories of "the Time Before" are fading (and are, in fact, being deliberately suppressed), spies/informants are everywhere, and (shades of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale") women have been classified according to age, heritage, reproductive status and physical attributes, which determines where they live, the rations they receive, the clothes they wear, the kind of work they do, etc. The lowest of the low are the "Friedas" -- childless women and widows over 50 years of age, who eke out a subsistence living in the walled-off slums known as "Widowlands." (I would certainly recommend reading "Widowland" first -- you will get a much better picture of who the characters are, the world they live in and what's happened so far.)  

"Widowland" ended with the assassination of "the Leader" (i.e., Hitler) -- referred to as "the Event" -- and a bit of a cliffhanger as to the fate of our highly ranked heroine, Rose Ransom, who played a key role in his death. As "Queen High" opens, we learn that (somewhat improbably), Rose survived and returned to her job in the Ministry of Culture. (Of course, there wouldn't be a sequel if she hadn't, right?)  

It's two years later (1955), and Rose is now a Poet Hunter -- poetry being a particularly degenerate art form that has now been completely banned. Additionally, she's been tasked with a special assignment: to go to Buckingham Palace and interview Queen Wallis, the American-born widow of the late King Edward VIII, and prepare a briefing document prior to the upcoming visit of President and Mrs. Eisenhower of the United States -- the first such visit since the Alliance was formed, which will culminate in the signing of a new treaty between the two nations. Overshadowing the upcoming visit: the recent murder of a high-ranking SS officer.    

I won't give away anything more of the plot -- and there's a lot going on in this book -- but suffice to say that, as with "Widowland," this was a fast, absorbing read, with tension mounting as the the date of the Eisenhower visit draws near and the various plot elements converge. We get to find out more about what has happened to many of the characters we first met in "Widowland" -- including the Friedas.  I started reading on Sunday night, zoomed through about 3/4 of it yesterday and finished it off this afternoon.   

As I observed with "Widowland," there have been other dystopian novels based on the premise of the Nazis winning WWII, and others focusing on controlling women and fertility.  And I noticed that certain elements of the plot, plot structure & pacing of both "Widowland" and this book were very similar. 

Nevertheless -- Carey does an amazing job of combining dystopian elements together with feminism, patriotism, and the subversive power of literature. (I loved how Rose procrastinates at her job, knowing that once she's "corrected" a book, the one remaining original copy will be destroyed. She's saving her favourite, Jane Austen's "Persuasion," for last. She sneaks peeks at a copy of "Jane Eyre" that's hidden in the carved-out pages of a Victorian book on birds at the library.)  

It's a pretty heady mixture that deserves an audience in these increasingly authoritarian times. There's a lot here that will sound ominously familiar and relevant. I particularly found "Queen High" interesting in its depiction of an authoritarian society after the omnipresent Leader is gone, and how the world he's created carries on and evolves without him (and, in some ways, gets worse...).  Also what it has to say about history and cultural memory (and forgetting)... who gets to tell our stories, and how... writers versus "Content Providers" (!)... oh, so much...!

I was debating, as I read through the book, whether or not I could give this book 5 stars. Then I got to the last few pages, which had me reaching for kleenex, for multiple reasons. Let's just say it's a very timely book that meant a lot to me personally, in many ways. (I am SO itching to discuss it with someone!)

5 wholehearted stars on Goodreads.

I think that -- properly done -- "Widowland" and "Queen High" would make a great TV series, a la "The Handmaid's Tale." :)  

This was Book #41 read to date in 2022 (and Book #3 finished in October), bringing me to 91% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 5 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

*** *** *** 

As a childless woman of a (*cough!*) certain age, I found this passage particularly chilling -- especially when I learned, later in the book, what the (fictional) regime has planned for the country's Widowlands and their residents. (You might be able to hazard a guess, knowing what we know about the real-life Nazis and places like the Warsaw Ghetto...)  

"Speer thinks, though, and I agree with him, that the Widowlands are festering sinks for dissent. Old infertile women are the opposite of everything this country stands for. We have a fertility crisis. The nation's crying out for new children. Londinium needs more citizens, not swarms of aged women who live outside society. They serve no purpose. They exist purely for themselves."  (p.109)

(Of course, the Nazis of the book helped to create the fertility crisis by killing off so many men and shipping off the ones remaining to the continent to work in labour camps, right?  But, I digress...)   

Monday, October 24, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Adult Halloween

A childless-not-by-choice friend (and former blogger) posted this on Facebook this weekend and asked "Is this a thing yet? I post this every year and I'm still waiting for it to be a thing." 

A couple of her (mom) friends commented that they hand out wine to the parents of the trick-or-treaters that come to their door... or they have neighbours who do so (!). I remember hearing about this a few years ago and thinking "Oh, great... one more thing we get to miss out on/get ripped off on, just because we don't have kids!" 


But then, when I thought about it... I remembered that on a few occasions over the years, my mom & one of her friends used to dress up on Halloween and go to a couple of the neighbours' doors for some "liquid" treats. In some cases, they were masked and didn't identify themselves -- just carried glasses and a sign, asking to have their glasses filled!  

Has anyone ever tried this (or something like it)? 

Why should parents & kids have all the fun, right?  ;) 

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

Sunday, October 23, 2022

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz has been on my "want to read" list for some time now. It moved to the top of the TBR pile when I heard that a multi-part television adaptation was coming to PBS this month, and I started reading it on the flight home from visiting my parents, one week ago. I didn't finish the book before the series launched that evening (I only covered about 20% during the flight -- and I like to read before I watch, if at all possible), but that was okay.  The TV show is airing at the same time as Stanley Tucci's "Searching for Italy" on CNN, AND "Bob's Burgers" on Fox  -- both Sunday night viewing favourites of ours -- as well as occasional Pittsburgh Steelers games -- a priority for dh...!  Luckily, my PVR can record up to four programs at once...!  ;)  

Anyway -- this was the first Horowitz book I've read, but it won't be the last.  (He's written a sequel, "Moonflower Murders" -- which just moved up in my "want to read" pile -- as well as other mysteries that look like good reads.)  

As the story opens, an unnamed book editor, writing/narrating in the first person (we later learn her name is Susan Ryeland), receives and starts reading a new manuscript that's about to change her life. It's written by her publishing house's star author, Alan Conroy -- the latest installment in his bestselling murder mystery series, set in post-WWII Britain and featuring Atticus Pund, a German detective and concentration camp survivor, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. 

At this point, the story shifts -- and we get to read Conroy's manuscript along with Susan. But she -- and we -- are irritated to find the final chapter(s) of the book, revealing the identity of the murderer and the motive -- is missing. And then, almost immediately, comes some startling news:  Conroy is dead.  As Susan investigates what might have happened to the missing chapter(s), she comes to believe there's something suspicious about Conroy's tragic death... and the more she investigates, the more fact and fiction begin to intertwine... 

In many ways, this is a very traditional British murder mystery, as well as a celebration of the genre. (Also an analysis and a critique of it.)(I will admit to being a fan -- I read tons of Agatha Christie when I was growing up!) But the "gimmick" of the dual/intertwined murder mysteries makes this one unique -- and it's very well executed. Great writing, and great characters. It's lots of fun, and I enjoyed it tremendously. As someone who is childless not by choice, I also appreciated that Susan is in her late 40s, unmarried and childless (and that she includes a couple of brief reflections on that status in this book, particularly in contrast to her sister, whose name is -- wait for it -- Katie).  ;)  

5 stars on Goodreads. 

I'll report on what I think of the PBS series, once I watch it. 

This was Book #40 read to date in 2022 (and Book #2 finished in October), bringing me to 89% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 4 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

A few midweek odds & ends

  • Annoying thing:  I received an email from Air Miles Canada yesterday, noting that there hadn't been any activity in my account in more than 21 months. They informed me that unless I accumulated some more points, cashed them in or transferred them to another collector (at a cost of 15 cents per mile) by end of day Dec. 29th, they will suspend my account -- and I will lose the 8,200+ air miles that I've painstakingly accumulated over the past 30 (yes, 30!) years.  (It's not a huge amount... but I've earned every one of them!) 
    • Ummm, hello... pandemic??  There were long stretches of time in 2020 & 2021 when there wasn't much to leave the house for, even if I'd wanted to. Cumulatively, Ontario's stores & restaurants were closed longer than almost anywhere else in the world -- so there weren't many places I could go to spend money and accumulate points, even if I'd wanted to. And of course, travel anywhere was restricted for most of that time as well. 
    • Plus, many of the places where I used to shop and accumulate points either don't have outlets in this community (versus our former one -- our regular supermarket there, for example, offered Air Miles -- and still does, I think? -- but has no stores in our vicinity) -- or they aren't affiliated with Air Miles any more.   
    • I WAS NOT IMPRESSED.  :p  
    • I had a look at what I could get with the miles I have. There wasn't a lot I could do with them in terms of travel -- not that we're very keen on travel at the moment anyway. I looked to see if they would cover our plane tickets home for Christmas (a relatively short trip) -- and the answer was no.  :p  
    • So -- I wound up cashing in about 6400 points on a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (metallic chrome and stainless steel). I've always wanted one, but just made do with a hand mixer. It should be here within four weeks -- in time for me to do some Christmas baking, maybe?  ;)  
  • A couple of weeks ago, we returned to the mall for the first time in eons in search of two new carry-on suitcases for our trip. (We found them.) I also found a new black purse at Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) -- the first purse I've bought since the pandemic began. My current purse, a black Baci, which I started using early on in the pandemic (or possibly just before it began? -- late 2019/early 2020), was starting to look kind of ragged around the edges (which I found incredibly puzzling, given the simple fact that we haven't really GONE anywhere for the past 2 & 1/2 years...!). The zipper has also started jamming with increasing frequency. 
    • Anyway, I bought the new purse (this one) and brought it home, but decided to keep using my old/current one until after we got back from our trip west (since by now I'm very familiar with what's where, etc., and figured that would help me get through airport security faster). For the time being, I decided to stash my new one in the plastic bin where I keep all my spare handbags. 
    • Needless to say I was embarrassed to find not just one, not just two, but THREE MORE/OTHER never-used black purses stashed there (plus a couple of brown, beige and white ones for good measure...!). Oops. I tend to be quite picky about my purses -- I like them large (but not TOO large, because then I'll fill it up, and I don't want to weigh myself down or throw out my shoulder...), with lots of compartments and pockets for stashing/organizing my stuff -- so when I see something I like, I tend to buy it, because I can sometimes go for quite a while before I see something that suits me. 
    • With four (!) black purses to choose from, I decided to put the newest purse aside for now and instead use a black Vince Camuto that I bought pre-pandemic. It has three compartments, which I like -- albeit not quite enough pockets to suit me. (The others had fewer compartments but more pockets... sigh...)  I've transferred my things over from my old purse, and we'll see how this one works out...!   
    • Two other past purse-related posts: here (2010) and here (2019). 
  • More brilliant writing and analysis from Yael Wolfe: not just one but TWO amazing pieces in the same week!  
If you want to make someone uncomfortable, tell them that you’re childless. Tell them you wanted a child quite badly but it “just didn’t happen” and watch them squirm.

I never uttered these words with the intention of making someone uncomfortable, mind you. But sharing my story and seeing people consistently respond in this manner has been fascinating. As far as I can tell, there is little else that makes people as uncomfortable as hearing someone admit they are childless by circumstance... 

The problem is, our grief is eclipsed in a moment like this by someone else’s feelings. You see, a childless woman never enters a space alone. Along with her comes a companion that people who were able to become mothers don’t want to acknowledge: the precarious uncertainty of life.

And no one — absolutely no one — wants to be reminded of that.

      • (And if you think that simply being childless makes people uncomfortable, try telling them you're childless after loss... that you never got that "rainbow baby" that everyone assured you would happen for you and make everything better -- not that any child needs the burden of that role in life, of course...!) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Annoying things & small pleasures

(The visiting the 80-something-year-old parents edition. ;)  )(with some repetition from this previous post...!) 

Annoying things: 
  • Three televisions (plus a radio in the master bedroom), all on different channels/stations, at top volume. (It's not a big house, so it's very noticeable!) 
    • Almost as annoying: multiple TVs on the same channel -- but there's a delay between TV sets, creating an echo effect...! 
  • Expecting us to still hear them as they walk away into another part of the house, still talking...! (and then yelling back & forth...!). 
  • My dad's love for true crime shows, courtroom dramas (including the likes of Judge Judy), and most of all, TV game shows ("The Price is Right," "Family Feud," etc. -- also at top volume) -- now including the Game Channel, which shows game show episodes from the 1970s (!). (This, at least, is mildly entertaining, if only for the glimpses of long-dead minor celebrities and horrendous haircuts and fashions...!) 
    • Related: his habit of walking into the room and changing the TV channel that you were watching, without asking!  
  • My mother's equally inexplicable love for David Muir and ABC World News Tonight (the nightly evening newscast, on at 5:30 p.m. their time) -- albeit she usually falls asleep while she's watching it...!  lol -- plus her insistence on having a snack to eat while she's watching it (even though dinner is cooking as she watches...). 
  • Their constant bickering with each other :p  which has only gotten worse as they have aged. :(  (The pandemic hasn't helped, forcing them to stay home and spend much more time together than they're used to.)  I reminded them -- as I did last Christmas -- that I did not fly 1000 miles during a pandemic to listen to this...! 
  • My mother's insistence on marching to her own drummer, which means (among other things) that (more often than not) she's up prowling around the house for half the night, sleeps in until noon-ish, has her breakfast cereal mid/late afternoon, and is always the last one to the dinner table -- usually right around the time the rest of us are all finishing up. 
    • Even more annoying: the certainty that she would never have tolerated the same behaviour from my sister & me when we were growing up...! 
  • Dinner is never earlier than 6:30 p.m. every night -- but more often 7 p.m. or later -- which would translate to 7:30-8 p.m. or later, our time. We usually eat around 5:30 -- which means we're often starving by the time dinner is eventually ready...!  
  • Having one of them hand me the phone after a long-winded conversation ("Lori wants to say hello...") and having NO idea who I'm going to be talking with...!  (Usually one of my aunts.) 
  • Having to move from various sofas, chairs, etc., at various times, because (like Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory" -- one of their favourite TV shows) "you're in my spot."  ;) 
  • My parents' (and particularly my mother's) resistance to selling their house and moving, despite the fact that aging, with increasing mobility issues, in a split-level (three levels) house with a large yard is obviously NOT an ideal situation...! (I think my sister & I -- both of us childless/free, albeit for different reasons -- are being a lot more realistic in our own preparations for aging in that regard...!) 
  • Their seeming lack of awareness that, while are still "the kids" and yes, we are younger than they are, we're really not that young ourselves anymore, and WE can't easily do everything we used to do either...! (My younger sister just turned 60, which means she is a senior citizen by many definitions -- as am I, at 61, and her partner, at 62. Dh is 65, which IS a senior citizen by almost all definitions...!) 
  • Not getting to spend much time with Parents' Neighbours' Daughter and her daughters (the Little Princesses, now 8 & 11) while we were there. The girls are in school during the week, of course -- and PND is a teacher. So not only are they busy during the week, they're spending their time in one of the settings where covid is known to be circulating (and masks are not required).  Plus -- not only is PND a teacher, she teaches in another nearby town, which has the dubious reputation of being one of the hotspots of anti-vax/anti-covid regulation activities in the province/all of Canada. :(  (Perhaps not coincidentally, it is also one of the province's covid hotspots...!)  Understandably, much as she loves them all, my mother is nervous about spending too much time in too close proximity to them. 
  • Not getting to see my sister's new house while we were there.  :(   She was not feeling well when they picked us up at at the airport, and just wanted to get out to Mom & Dad's as soon as possible... and we didn't really have time to swing by there on our way to the airport when we were heading home. (I got the feeling they weren't particularly eager to have us visit either...! -- albeit I realize the house was probably still in a somewhat chaotic state!) 
  • Not spending as much time with my sister as I'd hoped. She had the week off, but besides not feeling well and having some medical appointments as a result, they've been gradually moving into their new house while trying to sell the old one (it sold while we were there) -- so they spent most of the week in the city, returning to Mom & Dad's on the weekends. (I also suspect my sister felt that it was now MY turn to deal with our aging parents, since she's usually the one "on call" for the rest of the year... fair enough!)  
  • Saying to Mom at dinner one night, "We'll have to ask [Sister] what she remembers about that when she gets here" -- and then completely forgetting what it was that we wanted to ask her about!!  (I still don't remember!)  
Small pleasures: 
  • Being able to help out my parents with various things around the house. 
  • Feasting on our traditional family Thanksgiving dinner, with lots of yummy leftovers. 
  • Chocolate cake (from a mix) with Mom's caramel icing on top -- something I loved as a kid (and still do!). (It didn't last very long!) 
  • Having my mom thank me for all my help in prepping for & then cleaning up from Thanksgiving dinner (particularly since my sister wasn't feeling well and wasn't able to help out as much as she usually does). 
  • Nightly card games (and my dad's obvious pleasure in them). 
    • Winning, now & then. ;) 
  • Working on a jigsaw puzzle together (and being the one who put the last pieces in place!) 
  • Having Dad bring home Timbits (doughnut holes) from Tim Hortons (which opened a location in town a few years ago, during the pandemic) for a treat on the first day we were there. 
  • Gorgeous fall weather and fall colours for the first few days we were there. 
  • Just being able to spend time together, especially after not seeing them in 9 months, and especially after spending so little time together over the past 3-5 years (the pandemic, my medical procedures this summer, FIL's 2018 illness & death, etc.).  :) 

Monday, October 17, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Encore??

Almost exactly three years ago (late October 2019), I was eagerly counting down and strategizing how to get my hands on tickets to a performance of a touring production of the Broadway musical "Hamilton," which was coming to Toronto in early 2020. "Score!!"  I posted triumphantly on this blog on Oct. 28th, having landed a pair of tickets to a matinee performance on May 9th, 2020 -- the Voldemort/Mother's Day weekend, no less!  

Well, we all know what happened in between... just a few weeks after "Hamilton" made its Toronto debut in February 2020, the production was shut down -- along with just about everything else -- when the COVID-19 virus reared its ugly head. By April, all remaining performances had been cancelled. I was granted a credit for my tickets, with the promise of first dibs on new tickets, if/when the production returned at a future date (or for any other production by Mirvish, the theatre company, which owns several major venues in Toronto). (It was also possible to apply for a refund -- albeit I heard anecdotal evidence that this was easier said than actually done...!)  

In August 2021, I learned that "Hamilton" WOULD be returning! -- in February -- 2023 (!). That seemed like a LONG way off. "SURELY we'll be done with COVID-19 by then??" I mused, hopefully. (If only, right??)  

The play's return was confirmed in June this year, and I wrote then: 

I wish I was as excited by this news as I was three years ago.  I'm not. :(  I love theatre and I would love to see "Hamilton" -- someday....  But it's sure a different world than when I first got the tickets.  Dh was never as enthusiastic as I was to begin with, and I can't imagine he'll feel any differently now...!  I have to admit, I'm considering whether I should just ask for a refund (like I did for Elton John). Who knows what the covid situation will be like by February? (could be better, could be worse...) -- and covid or not, it's a long subway ride downtown. Sigh.  :(  

Last week, I got an email from Mirvish Productions, confirming the return dates (Feb. 22-May 14, 2023). Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Nov. 21st -- however: 

You were a ticket holder who had their performance cancelled and you retained money from the tickets as an account credit. This entitles you to an exclusive priority window to purchase tickets, beginning Monday, October 17. 

I asked dh what he thought. "Do you WANT to see 'Hamilton'?"  he asked me. "Well -- yeah!"  I said. "So -- let's go!"  he said.  I know he personally doesn't really care whether he sees it or not (although he will almost certainly enjoy it once he's there!), but he wants to make me happy (and that's why I love him, lol).  

Ideally, I would like to see "Hamilton" without covid breathing down our necks (literally and figuratively)... but I know that's not going to happen anytime soon. We will be masked (even if others in the theatre are not);  we will be as fully vaccinated as possible... conditions are probably as ideal as they're going to get for the next while.  

And so -- once more, unto the breach...!  

We got back from our trip to see my parents last night, and I set the alarm clock to make sure I was up by about 8... woke up around 7, got up, showered, had my breakfast & tea and entered the virtual waiting room around 9 a.m. When the window opened at 10 a.m., I was randomly assigned #3387 in line (versus #5382 the first time around), with an estimated wait time of "more than an hour." After 2.5 hours in the queue, I finally got into the website around 12:30 p.m. I got us two tickets for the afternoon matinee performance on Sunday, April 2nd, orchestra level, about halfway back, right in the centre. Sounds pretty good.  :)  (After Ontario spring break, just before Easter.)  Now to wait the not quite six months until then, and hope for the best...! 

As I said in June, I wish I felt as excited today as I was three years ago. I'm (still) not. I'm not at all confident the covid situation will be any better by then... but at some point (after nearly 2.5-3 years of extreme caution), I guess you have to take some calculated risks, mitigate them as much as you can, and get out there to (try to?) enjoy yourself now & then. (I feel slightly less nervous about the prospects of sitting in a modern theatre (the Princess of Wales, built in 1993) with 2,000 other people versus the Elton John concert in a packed, closed-roof stadium with 40,000..!) 

Wish us luck! 

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

"BeWILDered" by Laura Waters

The October pick for the NoMo Book Club at Gateway Women (now Lighthouse Women) is "BeWILDered" by Laura Waters.

Waters, a (single, childless) Australian woman from Melbourne in her 40s, was fresh out of a bad long-term relationship and dealing with crippling anxiety when she read about the opening of the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand, which stretches 3,000 kilometres (about 1,800 miles) from the top of the North Island to the tip of the South Island. She was immediately intrigued, and wound up taking a six-month leave of absence from her job to make the trek, along with her friend Belle. 

Except -- Belle was forced to drop out on the very first day of their long walk, leaving Waters with a choice:  abandon the trip too, or continue the trek solo.  She decided to carry on, alone -- and, in the process, she was transformed.  

There were some obvious similarities here to "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, which I read and reviewed about 10 years ago, here.  As I alluded then, I'm generally not much for camping, hiking and roughing it... (although I did do a little camping when I was a teenager). I'm not at all athletic -- and I like my creature comforts too much, lol.  ;) But I admire people who do these things. (I've long been fascinated by stories of Everest climbers, even though I would never even attempt a visit to base camp in a million years, let alone try for the summit!)  I enjoyed Waters' story very much, and more so as the book went on. We could all benefit from some of the hard-earned wisdom she gains on the trail and shares here. 

4 stars on Goodreads. 

Our November selection will be "Remarkable Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier, and in December, we'll be reading "Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds" (alternate title: "Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather: A Scandalous History of Birds, Hats and Votes") by Tessa Boase. 

This was Book #39 read to date in 2022 (and Book #1 finished in October), bringing me to 87% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 4 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

Monday, October 10, 2022

#MicroblogMondays: Thankful

It is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, and I'm at "home" in Manitoba with my parents this week, 9 months after my last visit at Christmastime. We had our big turkey dinner yesterday... so many good things to eat! :)  The weather so far has been gorgeous -- 22C/71F today, clear and sunny (albeit it is scheduled to turn colder later this week) -- and I'm glad I brought along a pair of capri yoga pants as well as the longer version and socks. ;)  Parents' Neighbours' Daughter has been by with the Little Princesses (now 8 and 11) and also to play cards (we've had several hotly contested games so far, with more to come.) 

Life is good. :)  

Amur maple trees in Mom & Dad's backyard

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

Friday, October 7, 2022

Odds & ends -- and thanks

  • I was on a roll this morning with Heardle.  :) I got EVERY SINGLE ONE, many within 2-3 seconds -- right up to Heardle 90s. (I don't do Heardle past the 90s version, aside from the original all-decades version.) Never heard of either the song or the artist. But I guess you can't always win them all...!  
  • Prior to our cottage weekend with dh's cousin & his family, I was rummaging in my drawers to find my ancient swimsuit, in case we were invited to use the hot tub (and we were! -- and did!). I found it in a drawer with the remnants of my pantihose collection, and I found myself wondering WHY -- some 25-ish years after my office adopted a more casual dress code (and women wearing pants was no longer deemed shocking/a subject of disapproval -- seriously -- this was the mid-late 1990s...!), 8 years after I lost my job and 6 years after moving (when I culled a LOT of stuff) -- I STILL had so many pairs of pantihose (and knee-highs)??  The last time I wore pantihose was to Younger Nephew's wedding, four years ago. And before that...?? (I didn't wear pantihose to Older Nephew's wedding in 2016 -- which was a mistake, when I saw the photos...! Live and learn..!)  
    • Among my pantihose collection: a pair of fishnet tights that I think I bought when I was in university, about 40 (gulp!) years ago (!!). 
    • I chucked all but two pairs of hose and two knee-highs (already used and laundered), and three pairs still in the original, unopened packaging. That's probably still too many -- but, progress...! 
    • How many pairs of pantihose (if any??) are still lurking in your dresser drawers?? 
  • The tale of the swimsuit:  back in the spring of 2001 (!! -- yes, 2001!), my then-immediate boss invited all of us over to her house after work one night for dinner and a dip in the hot tub. Since our team at that time was entirely women (most of us in our 40s or older -- the majority of us childless too!), there were no real qualms at the prospect. ;)  My problem: no swimsuit (at least, one that fit me).  I remember going to the Hudson's Bay department store near my office on my lunch hour and spending way too much on a one-piece Christina swimsuit -- black-blue bottom, bright royal blue top with a black design and sparkles on it -- that didn't look half-bad on me. I wore it in my boss's hot tub -- and it's languished in the drawer ever since then. (I used to LIVE at the swimming pool in the summertime when I was growing up;  sadly, not so much these days.)  
    • Last year when we visited the same cottage, the hot tub was out of commission -- but it's been repaired since then, and our hostess reminded us to bring our suits last weekend. I fished the suit out of the drawer, and what do you know -- after 20+ years (!), not only did it still FIT (!), the elastic was still good too.  :)   
    • I'm still in touch with my former boss and one of my co-workers (my office bestie) from that long-ago party, and I mentioned this to them in an email after our cottage weekend, because I knew they'd get a kick out of it. Lo and behold, my boss responded with a snapshot of us all in her hot tub, back in 2001. Mostly just our heads are visible, but you can glimpse a sliver of a blue strap on my shoulder, lending credence to my story. ;)  
  • I LOVED Kate Kaufmann's recent "Unapparent" column (lol -- I love that title) on the Psychology Today site about "What Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Mean for Non-Parents."  She zeros in on the "belonging" label as a "gamechanger" for people without children, and suggests ways to give non-parents a stronger sense of belonging, include balancing family-centric events with ones that celebrate adult accomplishments. 
  • I've long been fascinated by the idealization of motherhood and the role of "momfluencer" culture, and the power they have to warp women's sense of self-worth. Most writing in this vein, of course, focuses on the pressure this puts on mothers to live up to the ideal -- and fails to take the next step and ponder how these unattainable ideals affect those of us who wanted to be mothers and never even got the chance to try to live up them.  Still, it's a topic worth pondering. in a world which prioritizes someone else’s should over your own truth is maddening, exhausting, and invalidating.

It’s difficult to assert (and sometimes, even to understand) our authentic maternal [note from me: substitute "non-maternal" if you're childless] identities in a culture which determinedly foists a one-size-fits-nobody straightjacket of motherhood onto all of us.

  • It's the (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend here, and among my many blessings, I am so thankful for this blog and all of you!  Thank you for enriching my life with your own blogs, your comments and your support!   

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Odds & ends for early October

  • My left knee is giving me grief again. :p  It's been a chronic issue for years now, even before I left work, but it hasn't been too noticeable in recent months -- until, at dh's aunt's funeral mass last week, I knelt during prayers...!  Being at dh's cousin's cottage last weekend -- where it's 40+ steep stone steps between the house and the dock on the lake (plus 16 steps between the main level of the house and the bottom level (which leads out to the steps leading to & from the lake...) -- did not help matters...! I've been using an arnica rub, an essential oils roll-on remedy for muscle pain, and occasionally some ibuprofen. 
  • It's October -- and you know what that means: it's Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, with Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day on Oct. 15th.  
    • An Unexpected Family Outing had a great post on Facebook and on Instagram about this. She makes the excellent point that WE don't need a day or a month to gain a greater awareness about pregnancy loss issues, or to remember our babies. We're pretty aware already. We we live this reality and think about our children every day, and will for the rest of our lives. Then she writes about who this month is really for. I thought it was so great I actually dared to share it on my own Facebook feed. :)  (*cough!*)  
  • "Canada significantly undercounts maternal deaths, and doctors are sounding the alarm,"  says a story on CBC News this week. (Subhead:  "Most deaths can be prevented, experts say, but there is no national system to learn lessons, change outcomes.") 
    • "The Current" on CBC Radio did a 19+-minute story on the same subject. (There's an embedded listening link within the story, which I haven't listened to yet.) 
    • There was also a 7+-minute story on CBC television's "The National" (nightly newscast) on Monday night. 
    • Related article: " 'I don't know if I'm going to wake up': Mothers share stories of pregnancy-related complications." 
    • One of the women in the main story, who developed (and survived) eclampsia at the five-month mark of her pregnancy, was from the same area where we used to live. I remarked to dh that if we were still facilitating our pregnancy loss support group, she might have been one of our clients. Incredibly, though, her baby also survived, although she was born weighing just 750 grams (! -- less than 2 pounds) and spent more than two months in the NICU. You can see her in the CBC TV news story video. 
    • Dr. Jon Barrett of McMaster University, quoted in the article, used to practice as a high-risk ob-gyn at a hospital in Toronto, and was regarded as "God" by many of the women who came to our group.  ;)  
  • The New York Times Magazine had an amazing story about children stolen from their mothers at birth (many of whom were told their children were stillborn)(!) and sold to/adopted by "suitable" (i.e., ideologically acceptable) infertile couples in Spain during the authoritarian Franco regime of the late 1930s through 1970s. There's now a growing movement among these children -- the youngest of whom are now in their 40s and 50s -- to learn the truth about their biological parents.
    • Jill Filipovic expanded on the NYT Magazine article in her own piece about "Pro-Life Baby Thieves," to include reminders of similar schemes over the past century in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, Argentina, and, yes, in the U.S. and Canada. She also mentions the book "The Child Catchers" by Kathryn Joyce, which I read and reviewed here.  (Unfortunately, Filipovic's piece is only available to paid subscribers of her Substack newsletter.  I am one of them.) Says Filipovic:  "The long history of baby thefts, often by religious institutions and individuals, almost always in the service of a “pro-life and pro-family,” traditional, anti-feminist ideology? It keeps happening when anti-feminist authoritarians are in charge. It is still happening now, if you pay attention." Highly thought-provoking (and troubling). 
  • Yael Wolfe is brilliant. :)  Have a look at her latest piece on Medium, "Single & Childless Women Are Tired of Justifying Their Existence" (subhead: "We have enough problems without having to constantly explain ourselves" -- yes!!).  Sample passage:  

I’ve been asked by cousins, friends, and even strangers on the internet when I’m going to “get my act together,” “contribute to society,” or “pursue a happier, more selfless life.”

It’s such an odd — and cruel, frankly — phenomenon to find one’s life open to public scrutiny by people who assume they know me well enough to determine that I made all these choices on purpose.

If I had had my way, I would have gotten married and had babies. I hate to say that, because honestly, how unoriginal. But it’s the truth. I would have loved to have had a husband and two or three kids, a dog, and a four-bedroom house in the suburbs. What can I say? I know how to follow orders.

But, despite people insisting that you can have whatever you want if you just put your mind to it, life does not always go the way you planned...

You would think, however, by the way people — even my very young nieces — talk to me that I made a deliberate choice not to get married and not to have children. There is no room for my story, for facts, for nuance. I did not achieve these things, and therefore, the only possible truth can be that I failed.

Monday, October 3, 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: September was Month #30 (going on #31 -- the 2.5-year mark) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more, both people and governments are putting the pandemic behind them, even when the numbers (the ones you can find, anyway...) would suggest that it's still very much among us. Disappointingly, even the president of the United States (who really should know better!) declared the pandemic is over. (His statement was actually a little more nuanced than that, but of course, that's what the headlines blared, reinforcing what a lot of people already believe.) 

As August ended/September began, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health admitted that Wave #7 was still ongoing -- peaked, but still plateaued -- and that the province could expect to see more cases in the fall, as kids returned to school (no masks required, boosters for children announced less than a week before classes resumed) and activities moved indoors as colder weather arrived. (DUH.) Yet -- at the same press conference -- he still announced that the province was dropping its five-day isolation requirement for people who tested positive for covid.  Go figure... 

...the biggest problem with Moore’s spiel is that it truly confirmed the overarching message from public health which is now this: you really don’t have to care about other people anymore....

Moore knows masks protect others as well as yourself, but seems unwilling to say it.

It’s the big-picture message that is sticking with me, though. That desperation for normalcy is understandable, and maybe even universal. It’s just that even before we truly understand the long-term effects of COVID on a population basis, in a world with no durable immunity and still-evolving variants, normal isn’t what it used to be.

There is an adult conversation somewhere out there. It is deeply irresponsible to not even recommend indoor masking, and it would be reasonable to require it in indoor spaces unless you have to take them off — allowing people to eat or drink in restaurants and bars, etc. — because masks help cut down transmission elsewhere. We should resume actually trying to get vaccines to people, rather than ask pharmacies alone to do it. We should try to keep people healthy at work, and even the banks are saying no masks could be an issue.

It won’t happen, though. People may still be masking on airlines and trains and in hospitals, but most everywhere else we’re letting it fly. Yesterday, by the way, Canada’s confirmed COVID deaths surpassed our number of combat deaths in the Second World War: Canada lost 44,090 in the war, and we sat at 44,370 COVID deaths on Monday evening, Labour Day. We still try, as a nation, to remember our war dead: all the memorials across the country, in towns big and small.

With COVID we seem so determined to forget in real time, and governments are rushing to meet us where we live, and so now society will enter the fall hoping for normalcy as the hospitals tremble and the nurses and doctors keep burning out and with governments scared to do even the minimum. I hope I avoid the hospital: you should, too. I’ll tend toward masking in indoor spaces, too. It’s not that hard.

Maybe we’ll be OK. It will more likely be unpleasant. What’s that Walt Kelly line? We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Predictably, within days of schools reopening, I began to see posts from in my social media feeds about kids and teachers (and their families) getting sick -- friends, relatives, and friends of friends getting covid, many for the first time. Meanwhile, hospitals have been swamped and understaffed all summer long, forcing the closure of some emergency rooms

As the month ended, the federal government announced on Sept. 26th that it was dropping all remaining travel-related restrictions, including vaccine requirements for people entering the country, mandatory use of the ArriveCan app -- and mandatory masking on trains and airplanes, effective Oct. 1st -- just before we're slated to fly to see my elderly parents, of course. (We will be masked -- but how many other people will be??)  Grrrr.... 

Since June 16th, the government has been reporting covid data weekly (on Thursdays) instead of daily. :(  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. :(   If you look at the charts for the past two months, most of the categories tracked have remained more or less the same ( = no huge increases -- but no significant improvement either). Among the latest stats (last updated Sept. 29th):  
  • 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) decreased slightly from 1,278 on Sept. 1st to 1,265 on Sept. 29th (up 9.1% over the previous week). Peak was 1,296 on Sept. 9th, low point was 1,066 on Sept. 19th.  
  • There were 135 patients with COVID-19 in Ontario's ICUs testing positive for COVID-19 or there for COVID-19 related illness on Sept. 1st, and 133 on Sept. 29th, up 3.1% over the previous week. Peak was 141 on both Sept. 6th & 7th;  the low point was 118 on Sept. 24th.  
  • There were 19 deaths on Sept. 1st and 11 on Sept. 29th. Peak was 31 on Sept. 8th. The 7-day average on Sept. 29th was 10.3, up 10.8% over the previous week. (Total pandemic deaths reported: 14, 351.) 
  • On Sept. 29th 87% of Ontario's total population has had at least one vaccine, 83.7% had at least two, but just 51.7% had received a third dose. (No stats provided for fourth doses, which only became available to adults under age 60 in mid-July.)  These numbers have hardly budged over the past couple of months. 
    • The new bivalent vaccines began rolling out to Ontario residents aged 70 and older on Sept. 19th, and to everyone else 18 and older on Sept. 26th. At minimum, you should be at least three months out from your last dose/booster;  the recommended interval is six months. Dh & I had our fourth vaccines/second boosters on May 11th, more than four months ago. We'll probably wait to get our next shots until closer to the six-month mark (Nov. 11th), as we head into the winter and the Christmas holiday period (and perhaps get it at the same time as our flu shots, to save us an extra trip).   
On the personal pandemic front: Dh & I continue to wear masks when out in public (even as fewer and fewer people are doing so), and have remained (mostly) socially distanced -- more so than usual this month! Just as I approached the one-month mark after my gallbladder removal surgery on Aug. 15th, and was starting to feel fully recovered, I came down with a nasty cold, which lasted a full two weeks and meant staying home a lot longer than I had hoped...! (Three rapid tests, all negative.)  Needless to say, this has NOT been my favourite summer...!  

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 2 times. (First LGN was home sick with his mother for a week, so we didn't see him then -- and then I got sick -- I probably got the bug from him!  lol -- so I didn't see him that week either!).  
  • We made a shopping trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples and Homesense, all near each other, on Sept. 8th. I was in the checkout line at Homesense when I heard the Queen died. The next day, I woke up with a sore throat... so that was my last outing for quite a while! 
  • Dh's aunt passed away on Sept. 16th. We went to the visitation at the funeral home on Sept. 20th in the afternoon (but not the session later that evening, which would have been much busier), and funeral mass on Sept. 21st, masked. (I was pleasantly surprised by how many other people were also still wearing masks.) In between the two sessions, BIL & SIL stayed and went to a nearby restaurant with two of their other aunts & a dozen cousins, kids & spouses -- they asked us to come too -- but neither of us is keen on restaurant dining just yet, and so we just went home.  
  • Another aunt passed away on Sept. 23rd. Visitation was Sept. 27th (at the same funeral home we'd been to the previous week!) and the funeral mass on Sept. 28th (ditto). 
  • We ventured out to a nearby mall for the first time in a year (and only our third mall visit since the pandemic began!) to buy new carry-on luggage, in anticipation of our upcoming trip, and took the opportunity to pop in and out of a few other stores while we were there. Tired out about halfway around and went home... we're out of practice!  (lol) 
  • We went to the supermarket together last Thursday, Sept. 29th to shop for groceries for our cottage weekend with BIL, SIL and dh's cousin & his wife and teenaged son. 
  • We ended September and began October at the cottage.  :)  Drove north to a nearby town on Saturday afternoon and poked around a couple of cute little shops there (I wore a mask inside), but otherwise just relaxed. 

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** 

Also right now:  

Reading: I finished 2 books in September (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged  "2022 books").  
This brings me to 38 books read so far in 2022, which brings me to 84% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway) 5 books ahead of schedule. :)  

Current read(s): 
  • Within the private online Gateway Women (now called Lighthouse Women) community, we have two groups discussing Jody Day's book, "Living the Life Unexpected" -- one group that's more conducive to UK/European/Australasian time zones, and mine, which is mostly North Americans. Since January, we've been meeting on Zoom to discuss one chapter per month. Unfortunately, I missed our calls for Chapters 7 & 8 -- and it looks like I will miss the October call for Chapter 9, which will take place when I'm visiting my parents. 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 ($5.99 or less) or purchased with points):  
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** 

WatchingI was glued to coverage of the Queen's death and funeral (mostly on BBC World) for nearly two weeks.  ;)  Lots of extra-early mornings!  

"The Handmaid's Tale" is back for season 5!  and there's going to be a season 6 too (which will be the final season -- at least until the adaptation of "The Testaments" becomes available...!). It's now broadcast on CTV Drama here in Canada. It's still gripping television -- although I'm wondering how we went from focusing on the battle against a society based on patriarchy and misogyny (Gilead) to what's basically now a catfight between two women who hate each other (!). Granted, women who support the patriarchical order (like Serena Joy in the show) are a problem, but still...  

We always enjoy Ken Burns's documentaries, and his new three-parter about "The U.S. and the Holocaust" on PBS was excellent, as always.  

Listening: I'm still enjoying the daily Heardle challenge(s), including the decades versions. Current stats as of today, Oct. 3rd):  
  • Heardle (original):  38.7% (24/62) correct, including 7 on the first guess and 8 within 3. 
  • Heardle 60s:  92.6% (25//27), including 15 on the first guess and 4 on the second. 
  • Heardle 70s:  76.7% (23/30), including 15 on the first guess, and 4 on the second. 
  • Heardle 80s:  37% (10/27), including 4 on the first guess. 
  • Heardle 90s:  26.7% (8/30), including one on the first guess and 4 on the 6th & final guess (!).  
Eating:  I tested out my new gallbladder-less digestive system with some takeout fish & chips, and a barbecued steak at the cottage (as well as lots of wine, lol). So far, so good, although I haven't been too adventurous yet. Fingers crossed for our upcoming  trip to Manitoba for (Canadian) Thanksgiving...!  

Looking forward to getting out the crockpot/slow cooker again, now that cooler weather is here!  (And to trying a roast beef in that again -- red meat was a big trigger food for me last fall, when my gallbladder was giving me so much grief -- time to try again!)  

Drinking:  Lots of tea, especially while I was recuperating from my cold. Lots of wine at the cottage this past weekend.  :)  

Had my first Starbucks tea latte since the pandemic began (!) -- picked it up as we were leaving the mall on Sept. 26th. Alas, I paid $5 for a grande, but I was wearing my mask and didn't taste it until we got to the car -- and there was NO SWEETENER in it. Grrrrr.... 

Buying (besides books, lol):  In anticipation of a likely fall/winter covid wave, I ordered a couple more boxes of N-95 equivalent masks online, from a Canadian company recommended by Turia

I also ordered myself some new tops online from Old Navy, as well as some swim trunks/shorts for dh. He hasn't owned a pair in years, but his cousins have a hot tub at their cottage -- it was out of commission last year, but I wanted to be prepared this year, just in case...!  Unfortunately, just about all that was left were extra-large size, which proved to be WAY too big...!  (I do have a swimsuit -- one-piece -- but I won't tell you how old it is... miraculously, it still fits!!  And the elastic is still good on it too!  lol)  

We desperately needed a second set of sheets for our bed (in time to bring them to dh's cousin's cottage, and save our hostess some extra laundry) but was unable to find another set of our current sheets at our local Bed Bath & Beyond. They were also unavailable to order online (!). I wound up ordering a set from BB&B online, which were delivered to our door in plenty of time. They cost more than I had planned on paying, but beggars can't always be choosers...

We went to the mall for the first time in about a year (!) and bought two new carry-on Samsonite suitcases in anticipation of our upcoming trip west. I also bought a new purse, and some sundries at the drugstore while we were there.  

Wearing: I had to put on long jeans for the first time on Sept. 22nd -- the first official day of fall -- when the weather suddenly turned chilly. Socks followed shortly thereafter, as did long yoga pants (vs capri length). My capris have been washed and put back in the closet.  I've also had to add slippers and a cardigan around the house (sigh...). 

Noticing:  The days are already getting shorter -- it's mostly dark outside now by 7:30 p.m. And the leaves have (finally!) started to turn colour!   

Appreciating:  Sunny days, when they happen!  The hospitality of dh's cousins, just when we really needed a pick-me-up.  :)     

Enjoying:  Having the balcony door open slightly this afternoon. :)  (It's been chilly here lately, but it's supposed to be 17C this afternoon and 20C tomorrow & Wednesday -- yay!)  (That's 58F, 63F and 68F... not bad for October hereabouts!)  

Wanting:  To buy a new humidifier, soon, now that colder, drier weather is here. We have our eye on a combination humidifier/air purifier from Dyson, but it's *horrendously* expensive. (I do like the two-in-one aspect, and the fact that it's supposed to be quiet technology -- our last humidifier was too noisy for my liking, which is why we got rid of it... any recommendations??)  

Hoping:  That we'll be able to fit everything we need to take to my parents' house into two carry-ons. (Dh's cousin & family went to Europe for two weeks this summer with one carry-on each... they assured me it can be done!) (Not so sure it's do-able at Christmastime, depending on the number and size of presents we're bringing -- but we'll cross that bridge when we get there...!) 

Prioritizing: My long to-do list, before we head west soon! (But today -- I'm prioritizing recuperating from a busy weekend and busy few weeks before that, before tackling what needs to be done before Saturday!) 

Trying: Not to get overwhelmed by everything on that to-do list...! 

Waiting:  Until we get back home from seeing my family before we get our next haircuts. I am hoping I won't regret this decision...!  (This Friday will be six weeks since our last one, which is when we usually go -- by the time we get back & are able to see our regular stylist, it will be 8 weeks... hmmm....) 

Wondering: How many books I'll have time to read while I'm at my parents' house?? (I guess that will depend on what cleaning, organizing & baking projects my mom wants help with while we're there...!) I'm still on pace to reach my Goodreads goal for the year, albeit I'd hoped to be doing a little better at this this point... still, I've had a lot of distractions/other priorities lately...! 

Loving:  Seeing almost all of dh's cousins (on his mom's side of the family) at two recent visitations & funerals for two of their aunts. We hadn't seen some of them since pre-covid. We used to spend a lot of time together when we were all younger and single or newly married and kidless, and even in recent years, we made a point of getting together at the end of summer for a barbecue/picnic. I have missed that! 

Feeling: (Very!) Annoyed that, just as I was feeling I could get on with things after my summer surgeries, I came down with a nasty cold!!  Sad to have to attend not just one but two funerals for two well-loved members of dh's family, one week after another. :(  Somewhat less frazzled after our recent cottage weekend.  :)  And looking forward to seeing my parents & sister soon!