*(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: December was Month #33 (going on #34) of living with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since June 16th, the government has cut back on its data reporting from daily to weekly (on Thursdays). :( Certain data categories (such as new case numbers and test positivity rates) are no longer reported. (And of course, the numbers we ARE getting are vastly under-reported). The official stats have remained fairly steady in recent months -- they're not great, not really improving, but not notably worse either.
So I've decided that -- until/unless there are any notable shifts in the numbers -- I'm not going to be updating the latest stats here any longer. (If you're REALLY interested, you can find them here on the Toronto Star's website, which was my main data source, or a fuller report on the Public Health Ontario website.)
On Dec. 8th, the province announced that pharmacists will now be allowed to hand out paxlovid without a doctor's prescription. Given that paxlovid must be taken within five days of the onset of covid symptoms -- and that many people currently don't have a family doctor (and often wind up in emergency rooms and urgent care clinics that are totally swamped right now)-- and the family doctors we do have are also totally swamped (i.e., it might take a while to get an appointment) -- this should theoretically help more people access the drug and treat their covid infections more easily. It will be available at no cost to the patient.
On the personal pandemic front: This was a busy month for us! We remain covid-free -- although we had a close call...! We are still masking in public places (albeit we usually don't in smaller family settings). On top of dh's solo trips to the supermarket for groceries (about once a week), and for occasional takeout lunches & dinners:
- We stayed with LGN several times this month for a few hours each time -- on Dec. 1st, 6th & 13th -- while SIL had medical appointments to deal with a lingering sinus/ear infection.
- We went with BIL, SIL, Older Nephew & his wife, LGN, and the wife's mom (LGN's other grandmother) to a nearby mall on Dec. 2nd to have his photo taken with Santa!!
- Afterwards, we had lunch at one of the mall restaurants. It was the first time dh & I had eaten at a restaurant since early March 2020, pre-pandemic... not only that, it was the SAME restaurant, and we'd been with BIL, SIL, Older Nephew, his wife and LGN then too! LGN was just 3-4 months old at the time! :)
- (We learned a week-plus later that LGN's other grandma had subsequently come down with covid.... yet another too-close-for-comfort call! Yikes!)
- We went back to our old community on Dec. 3rd for haircuts (with a brief stop at the cemetery to trade Katie's Halloween decorations for something more Christmas-y).
- Went to the bank on Dec. 6th to do some transactions with a teller that couldn't be easily done at the banking machine.
- Did some Christmas shopping at ToysRUs, Kitchen Stuff Plus and Shoppers Drug Mart on Dec. 7th...
- ...and more Christmas shopping on Friday, Dec. 9th, at one of the malls we used to frequent, pre-pandemic. Hadn't been back there since then, but went because there were some things I wanted to get at one of the department stores there. Got there when it opened around 10, and it wasn't too bad, but by the time we left just after noon, it was NUTS. Fewer than half the people there were masked. Glad we got out of there when we did!
- BIL & SIL babysat LGN on Dec. 10th while his parents went to a concert downtown, and we went over for coffee. :)
- Back to the drugstore on Dec. 14th to refill some of dh's prescriptions, pre-holidays.
- We flew west to be with my family for Christmas on Dec. 17th. Besides time at the airports, we stopped at my sister's new house, walked through the nearby mall and stopped at the drugstore there for a few items, before heading out to the small town where our parents live.
- Since our arrival, we've made a few (masked) shopping trips for groceries, stocking stuffers, etc. Parents' Neighbours' Daughter has been over to play cards twice, we went there briefly (unmasked) to deliver presents, amd a few neighbours have dropped by (mostly unmasked), although they haven't stayed long.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Also right now:
Reading: I finished 4 books in December (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2022 books").
- "Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds" by Tessa Boase (alternate title: "Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather: A Scandalous History of Birds, Hats and Votes")(the December book for the Gateway/Lighthouse Women NoMo book club). (My review.)
- "Killers of a Certain Age" by Deanna Raybourn. (My review.)
- "Legend in Green Velvet" by Elizabeth Peters. (My review.)
- "Sarah Morris Remembers" by D.E. Stevenson (chapter-by-chapter group read & discussion with my DES book club). (My original review and my most recent review.)
This brings me to 50 books read in 2022, 111% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books (5 books more). :) (See "2022 Reading Year in Review.")
- "The Menopause Manifesto" by Dr. Jen Gunter.
- 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 last January (2022), we've been meeting on Zoom to discuss one chapter per month, and we recently discussed Chapter 11 together. When we complete the full 12 chapters -- likely in January -- I'll count it as another re-read. :)
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 Gateway/Lighthouse Women NoMo Book Club:
- "The Metal Heart" by Caroline Lea (January/February -- Zoom discussion scheduled for Feb. 26th)
- For my D.E. Stevenson group:
- "The Empty World" (start date TBA).
- For my L.M. Montgomery Readathon Facebook group:
A few recently purchased titles (mostly in digital format, mostly discounted ($5.99 or less) or purchased with points -- some good pre- and post-Christmas deals!):
- "Our Missing Hearts" by Celeste Ng
- "Any Given Tuesday" by Lis Smith
- "Ancestor Trouble" by Maud Newton
- "Normal Family" by Chrysta Bilton
- "Prep" by Curtis Sittenfeld
- "Mother Daughter Traitor Spy" by Susan Elia MacNeal
- "The Series" by Ken Dryden
- "The New Royals" by Katie Nicholl
- "Bloomsbury Girls" by Natalie Jenner
- "Beyond the Wand" by Tom Felton.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Watching: Some of the Grand Prix of figure skating finale in Turin, Italy, on the first weekend of December.
Lots of "The Big Bang Theory" (my parents have the reruns on CONSTANTLY -- and at full volume, lol.... I like/liked the show, but there are limits...!!).
(NOT watching: After reading the book, I PVRd "Magpie Murders" on PBS, but haven't watched any of the episodes yet...! And I STILL haven't progressed beyond the first two seasons of "The Crown"...!)
Listening: Listening to the Stingray holiday music channel helped keep us in the Christmas mood all through the month! :)
I'm still enjoying the daily Heardle challenge(s), including the decades versions -- although (as you'll see from the stats, I do MUCH better on the 60s & 70s versions than the others...!). Current stats as of Dec. 31st:
- Heardle (original/all decades): 28% (42/150) correct, including 11 on the first guess.
- Heardle 60s: 80.9% (89/110), including 46 on the first guess.
- Heardle 70s: 67% (77/115), including 45 on the first guess.
- Heardle 80s: 45.7% (48/105), including 19 on the first guess.
- Heardle 90s: 36.9% (41/111), including 13 on the first guess.
On a related note -- I've been having some fun with another app that Older Nephew & his wife introduced me to. When we were having lunch earlier in December, after LGN had his photo taken with Santa, they were trying to figure out who was singing a song that was being played on the restaurant's music system. ON pulled out his phone and tapped an app that identified the singer and the song. I was amazed. He told me he's had the app forever -- okay, Boomer, right?? lol It's called Shazam. I downloaded it myself when I got home and have been having fun with it ever since then. I obviously know most of the songs that were being played on the holiday music channel we were listening to this month, but I couldn't always identify the singer(s), so it came in very handy. :)
Eating/Drinking: Lunch at the Pickle Barrel on Dec. 2nd after seeing Santa with LGN (see above). I had fish & chips and a Coke; dh had eggs benedict.
Teriyaki bowls from the takeout counter at our local supermarket (where we also enjoy excellent pizza slices and soup) -- chicken for me, beef for dh, with rice & veggies. Yum!
Takeout wood-oven thin crust pizzas from our favourite pizza restaurant. Also had a chicken alfredo pizza (alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce, with chicken, backbacon, onion, red peppers and cheese) from a takeout place in my parents' town, which was pretty good!
Mini-panettones from dh's cousins. Dh generally does not care for panettone, but even he thought these ones were pretty good! An entire panettone seems to last forever with just two people (particularly when only one of them is really eating it...!) but these little ones were perfect for sharing!
Pan-fried pickerel (walleye pike) on Christmas Eve with baked potatos & perogies, and turkey with all the trimmings (stuffing/dressing, gravy, mashed potatos, cabbage rolls, etc.) on Christmas Day (and leftovers for days thereafter, lol). Roast beef on New Year's Eve.
Buying (besides books, lol):
Wearing: Old Navy Christmas-themed waffle-knit PJ tops with yoga pants... so cozy, comfortable & festive! :)
Noticing: Lots of deer tracks in the backyard snow (although actual deer sightings there are far & few between). (My parents live near the edge of town.)
Appreciating: Being able to spend time with my parents and help them out around the house (even if they drive me nuts sometimes...!).
Enjoying: Card games and dominos, every night that we've been here.
Wondering: Where we will be spending Christmas next year?? (As I wrote here, my sister wants to host -- we'll see if our parents go for it...!)
Wanting: To get back home soon. (We've had a good Christmas, but it's time...!)
Prioritizing: Family time and helping my parents vs computer time (which is why I haven't been around much lately...!).
Hoping: That everything fits in our carry-ons for the trip home. (They were somewhat overstuffed and had to be checked at the last minute on our way here... dh was NOT happy!! -- but they arrived safely, and we are leaving presents behind here, so...)
Trying: Not to let my parents' quirks and bickering get to me (too much).
Loving: Seeing Mom & Dad's Christmas tree all lit up, with all the old familiar ornaments on it. :)
Feeling: Glad we came (but also that 17 days with my elderly parents, particularly in the middle of a Manitoba winter, might be just a LITTLE too long! lol). Glad to put 2022 and all my medical issues behind me (I hope?). Uncertainty about 2023 and what it might bring. Looking forward to returning home and to my own bed shortly!