*(an occasional (mostly monthly) meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current"). (Explanation of how this started & my inspirations in my first "Right now" post, here. Also my first "The Current" post, here.)
Pandemic diary/update: May marked 38 months (3 years plus) that we've been living under the shadow of COVID-19. On May 5th, the World Health Organization declared the global health emergency is over -- and in the U.S., the public health emergency declaration expired on May 11. Which is not to say (as the WHO Director-General and other national and international officials were quick to add) that covid is over -- far from it (although we all know that's how many people interpret this declaration). As an article I flagged last month noted, "COVID is at 'a high tide' -- and staying there," and "hospitals are dealing with a 'steady stream' that's hurting the system."
Back in March, Canada's National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) released its recommendations on spring booster shots, and in April, I started getting emails about available vaccination dates from the vaccine clinic attached to the medical centre in our old community where our family doctor practices, which is where we've had our last several vaccines done. However, the distinction between what was "recommended" and what/who was "eligible" was not entirely clear. :p As I understood it, on the one hand, everyone was urged to get vaccinated/boosted, especially if it's been 6 months or more since your last shot (our last ones were in early November = 7 months ago) -- but on the other hand, it seemed that vaccines were only being "offered" to people over 65 years old and/or those with immune issues, etc. Ergo -- dh (recently turned 66) was eligible -- but I (a mere youngster of 62) was not. :(
I sent not just one but two messages asking for clarification (via the messages window on the appointment tool) -- and never got an answer. :p (Which is strange, because the medical centre is usually quite efficient about returning phone calls, at least.) So I decided to take a chance, and booked appointments online for both of us for boosters on Sunday, May 28th. I fully expected to get booted off the system when I input my birthdate ;) but nothing happened, nor did they kick me out when we arrived on Sunday and presented our health cards. ;) The vaccine clinic was previous housed in a separate space adjacent to the medical centre, but that space has since closed its doors -- which I guess shows you how much demand has dropped off. :( All vaccines are now being done at the medical centre on (some) Sundays (when it's normally closed). We arrived early, but there weren't very many cars outside, so we just walked in. Nobody else was there, and we were in & out in 5 minutes. (Another couple arrived while we were getting our shots.) I checked the appointments site again later and there were still open appointments for every time slot.
Anyway, I feel better for getting the extra protection (and no ill side effects to date, aside from a mildly sore arm and some slight fatigue that evening). These were our 6th covid shots to date (although for some weird reason I did not get a receipt/certificate after my last/fifth shot in November (dh did), and that one does not appear on my updated vaccine record). We both got bivalent Moderna. (So far, we've had Astra-Zeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Moderna, Pfizer and now Moderna again.) Aside from the first two shots, we've never felt any side effects worse than a sore arm and maybe some slight fatigue. (And our last vaccines, in November, were done at the same time as our flu shots, too -- one in each arm!)
On the personal pandemic front: We remain covid-free (knocking wood, loudly...) -- and we while we have ventured out more often lately, we're still a lot more careful than most people we know. We still mask in stores and other public places, albeit we usually don't in smaller/family settings. (Dh has been making some noises lately about feeling weird about being "the only one" at the supermarket wearing a mask -- or one of the few, anyway -- but I DO NOT CARE!)
On top of dh's solo trips to the supermarket for groceries (about once a week), for occasional takeout lunches & dinners, and to see/help out his brother, together we:
- Saw Little Great-Nephew at BIL & SIL's 5 times: stayed with him for several hours/most of the day while his grandparents (BIL & SIL) were at appointments on May 3rd, 16th & 31st; went over to see him and his grandparents (and stayed for lunch) on May 9th; dropped by for an hour or so on May 11th. (See also May 21st & 24th below, which would make it 7 times total we got to see him this month! :) )
- The clock is ticking: LGN's parents have enrolled him in junior kindergarten (nursery school/pre-school) for the fall, as well as before & after school programs to help bridge the gap between school hours and drop offs/pick ups. SIL has enrolled him in day camp twice a week during July, to give him some much-needed socialization time with other kids his own age (as well as to give herself and BIL a bit of a break...!). And of course, what happens when BIL has his surgery remains to be seen... Once school starts in September, we won't get to see LGN nearly as often as we do now -- so we are enjoying this precious time and building memories with him while we still can...
- Drove into midtown Toronto on May 4th for a checkup with our optometrist (for me), six months after my last one, and one year after he saw something abnormal in my right eye and referred me to an opthamologist, which resulted in surgery last July. Things (still) look good and my prescription remains more or less the same (my glasses are more than 8 years old!). I don't have to see him again for another year.
- Drove BIL & SIL to a lengthy medical appointment in downtown Toronto, late in the morning of May 10th. (LGN's mom took the day off work to be with him.)
- By the time we got back to the suburb where we live, it was 3 p.m. -- we hadn't had any lunch, and we were all starving -- so we went to our favourite souvlaki place for a late lunch/early dinner. There was just one other table plus staff there, so it felt relatively safe from a covid perspective. This was only the third time we've eaten in a restaurant since covid began 3+ years ago -- all three times within the past six months.
- Went grocery shopping at the supermarket together after we left BIL's on the afternoon of May 16th; stopped there for takeout lunch after getting our latest covid booster shots on May 28th (see above); and also for some takeout dinner after staying with LGN all day yesterday (May 31st).
- Visited the dentist on May 17th (both of us). I noticed the plexiglass barriers in front of the reception desk had been removed, as had some (although not all) of the plastic sheeting between treatment cubicles, and some of the reception/administration staff were not masked. (Some still were, though... and of course, most of the dentists & hygienists wore masks even before the pandemic!)
- Had lunch (barbecue) on Sunday, May 21st (our Victoria Day holiday long weekend) at BIL & SIL's house, along with both nephews & their families. :) Nobody wore masks while holding the baby (Little Great-Niece) this time around either (which we've done every other time we've seen her before, at the parents' request -- and they didn't say anything, so I'm assuming they're okay with no masks now).
- Stopped at the supermarket en route to pick up a cake for dessert.
- Picked up a few things at Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart, and shopped for shorts for dh at Mark's Work Wearhouse on May 23rd.
- Went with BIL, SIL & Little Great-Nephew to visit BIL & dh's aunt on May 24th. Had lunch at BIL & SIL's afterward, and then stayed with LGN while his grandparents went out to run a few errands.
- As we were leaving, I said (as I always do), "Love you, LGN!" and (without looking up from his toys, lol) he said, "I love you too." !!! I think that's the first time he's said that. MADE. MY. DAY. :) :) :)
25 years ago in May (1998), I celebrated a very happy Mother's Day as a mother-to-be, saw a genetic counsellor and had my first prenatal visit with my ob-gyn.
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Also right now:
Reading: I finished 5 books in May (all reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads, & tagged "2023 books").
- "Sarah's Cottage" by D.E. Stevenson, which my DES group is now reading & discussing together, chapter by chapter. (It's a sequel to "Sarah Morris Remembers," which we read late last year -- reviews of that book here and here). (My review.)
- "Funny Girl" by Nick Hornby. (My review.) (See also "Watching," below!)
- "The Whispers" by Ashley Audrain. As mentioned last month, I received an advance copy via NetGalley -- which -- unbeknown to me -- I was under "deadline" to read before it was "archived" on June 13th. (My review.)
- "Anne of the Island" by L.M. Montgomery, a re-read together with my LMM Readathon Facebook group. (My review; my original review here.) See below re: our next book!
- "Women Without Kids" by Ruby Warrington. (My review.)
This brings me to 22 books read to date in 2023, 49% of my 2023 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. :) I am currently (for the moment, anyway...!) 4 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal.
- "Mothering Sunday" by Graham Swift, the June pick for my Lighthouse Women Nomo Book Club. This will be a re-read for me (my previous review here). Zoom discussion date TBA (generally late in the month).
- "Sarah's Cottage" by D.E. Stevenson, with my DES group. I will count this book as a re-read after we finish in early August. (My original review here.)
- "Living the Life Unexpected" by Jody Day. Re-reading (for the 5th time, I think!) and discussing one chapter per month (for the second time) with a group of other childless women within the private online Gateway/Lighthouse Women community. If & when I/we complete the full 12 chapters, I'll count it as a(nother) re-read. I was unable to attend this month's Zoom meeting for Chapter 4; we'll cover Chapter 5 in June! (My most recent review -- with links to previous reviews -- here.)
Coming up: 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 group: We recently agreed on a new list of upcoming books to discuss which should keep us busy through 2024, and maybe even into 2025! (A couple of the books are ones we covered when I first joined the group back in 2014 -- you know you've been around for a while when....!)
- The House on the Cliff
- Bel Lamington
- Fletcher’s End
- Miss Buncle’s Book
- Peter West
- Miss Buncle Married
- The Two Mrs Abbotts
- Crooked Adam
- The Four Graces
- For my L.M. Montgomery Readathon Facebook group: The group admin just announced this morning that she's taking a well-deserved summer off, but will be re-running posts related to "The Blue Castle," which we read together back in fall 2020. (Reviews here, here and, from an earlier book-related post, here.) I'm not sure I'll be re-reading that one again so soon after we covered it -- but it IS quite possibly my favourite Montgomery novel ever (along with "Rilla of Ingleside" and "Jane of Lantern Hill") -- so...??
- For my Gateway/Lighthouse Women NoMo Book Club (for July): "The Bullet That Missed (The Thursday Murder Club #3)" by Richard Osman. This will be a re-read for me (my previous review). Zoom discussion date TBA (generally late in the month).
- For the Notes from Three Pines (Louise Penny mysteries) Readalong: Not sure what's happening here?? The apparent plan was to discuss a book a month (which seemed like a reasonable pace to me, giving me time to read other books too). The last post to date was on March 22nd, about book #2, "A Fatal Grace" (reviewed here) -- since then, silence. While discussion dates for the first two books were set a month in advance, there was no mention of book #3, "The Cruellest Month" (which I read in April and reviewed here), or when we'd be discussing it.
- Whether or not the Readalong ever resumes, I have book #4, "A Rule Against Murder" (titled "The Murder Stone" in some markets) in my soon-to-read pile. :) And! Dh has started reading the books too! So far, he's covered the first three.
A few recently purchased titles (mostly in digital format, mostly discounted ($5-10 or less) or purchased with points):
- "A Guide to Midwestern Conversation" by Taylor Kay Phillips (this one was bought as a hardcover -- I read about it on Lyz Lenz's Substack newsletter, here).
- "Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone" by Benjamin Stevenson
- "Courtiers" by Valentine Low
- "Stay True" by Hua Hsu
- "Whatever Next?" by Anne Glenconner
- "Screaming on the Inside" by Jessica Grose
- "The Trauma Beat" by Tamara Cherry
- "The Wager" by David Grann
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- King Charles III's coronation on May 6th in London -- which I got up at 4 a.m. to watch!! (mostly on CBC, occasionally flipping over to BBC World).
- Season 1 of "Lucky Hank" with Bob Odenkirk wound up on May 7th. We really enjoyed it, and hope there will be a second!
- As I mentioned last month (!), the NHL Stanley Cup (hockey) playoffs are (still!) on. Alas, although the Toronto Maple Leafs made it past the first round (for the first time in 19!! years!!), they were eliminated mid-month in the second round by the Florida Panthers (who won the series, 4 games to 1). Next year will be 57 years (!!) since the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup...! The Edmonton Oilers -- the last Canadian team left in the playoffs -- were also eliminated in round 2. It's been 30 years since a Canadian team last won the Stanley Cup. :( Dh is still tuning into some of the games, but I'll admit I've lost interest.
- "Funny Woman," based on the Nick Hornby novel "Funny Girl" (my review of the book, here), premiered May 11th on the W Network here in Canada. So far, I've seen 3 of 6 episodes. It deviates from the book in some of the details, but (so far, anyway) the bones/arc of the story remains the same. (In my book review, I mentioned Rupert Everett as the agent, Brian -- I finally figured out who he reminded me of in this role -- would you believe Alastair Sim in "A Christmas Carol"??!)
- "Miss Austen Regrets," a movie about Jane Austen -- who was, of course, both single and childless -- and her relationship with her niece Fanny, on PBS recently. Based in part on some of Austen's letters.
- "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" -- a well-reviewed documentary made in 2020 about the BeeGees, which aired on CNN a few night ago. The music of the Brothers Gibb (including younger brother Andy) formed a huge part of the soundtrack of my teen years in the 1970s (alongside other, harder-edged sounds). I am definitely a fan :) and I loved this documentary! (My review of a book about Andy that I read last summer, here.)
- As usual, there were some pretty good fireworks displays in the neighbourhood surrounding our condo building over the recent Victoria Day long weekend. (Fireworks are a Victoria Day tradition, particularly here in Ontario, it seems.) I could see much of what was going on without even having to get up from my couch!
- To a lot of noise coming from the depths of our condo building: "repair work" on the parking garage began earlier this week and is scheduled to continue for a full TWO WEEKS. What repairs need to be done (especially when the building is only 8-9 years old) were not specified. (Our next door neighbour is on the condo board, and I'm hoping to run into him so that we can ask -- he's always a fount of information and gossip, lol.)
- To a lot of music by Gordon Lightfoot, who passed away on May 1st at the age of 84 (that last link is a gift link from The Globe & Mail). It's impossible to understate his impact and importance in my country -- he was a cultural icon and national treasure. I never saw him in concert (although he regularly played Massey Hall in downtown Toronto -- he was the last person to play there in 2018 before it closed for major renovations, and the first onstage when it reopened in 2021), but it feels like his music has always been a part of my life. I remember singing "Sit Down, Young Stranger" and "The Pony Man" in music class at school as a kid in the early 1970s (our teacher must have been a fan...!), and "Cotton Jenny" in a school choir (!)(although I was more familiar with Anne Murray's version than his) -- and as I read the obituaries and appreciations and comments, and as people named their favourite Lightfoot songs, I found myself thinking, "Oh yeah, that one.. Oh yeah, THAT one!" and "I forgot about that one!!"
- It's almost impossible to pick a favourite -- but "Carefree Highway" always makes me think of long road trips across the Prairies; "Beautiful" would melt any woman's heart (and "If You Could Read My Mind" would break it); and I love, love, love "Song for a Winter's Night." I was got a shock of recognition when several readers' comments mentioned "Bitter Green," which often got played on the Winnipeg radio station my dad listened/listens to in the morning, when I was growing up. And, of course, every time I hear "Daylight Katy," you know who I'm thinking of...! -- although apparently he wrote the song about his cat...! (The lyrics actually read "Daylight Katy, come on..." but I've always heard it as "Daylight Katy, come home" -- wishful thinking on my part, perhaps...)
- (I'd better stop before I fill up this entire post with a list of Lightfoot songs...!)
- To an absolutely fascinating podcast interview with British author Jane Thynne, also known as C.J. Carey, author of two of my favourite books in recent years, "Widowland" and "Queen High" (which will be released in North America this summer under the title "Queen Wallis"). She mentions some of the unsettling real-life inspirations for the books, and draws some interesting parallels between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and a certain other royal couple (cough!) who's been in the news a lot lately...!
As I mentioned last month, Spotify shut down the daily (original/all-decades) Heardle challenge on May 5th -- the last day to play was May 4th. The final song? "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra ("Start spreading the news/I'm leaving today..." lol). At the end, my stats were 24.8% correct (68/274, 19 on the first guess), maximum streak: 3.
Thankfully, the knock-off "Heardle Decades" versions continue. (I've always done much better on those versions anyway -- especially the 60s & 70s!) Stats as of May 31st:
- Heardle 60s: 79.0% (199/252, 92 on first guess), down slightly from last month. Max. streak: 14.
- Heardle 70s: 69.5% (182/262, 108 on the first guess), up from last month. Max. streak: 13.
- Heardle 80s: 33.3% (35/105, 19 on the first guess), (way) down from last month. Max. streak: 3.
- Heardle 90s: 31.7% (79/248, 27 on the first guess), down slightly this month. Max. streak: 4.
- Takeout dinners on Saturday nights this month included McDonalds, teriyaki rice bowls from the local supermarket takeout counter, rotisserie chicken, and wood oven pizza. (The pizza is good, but not QUITE as good as it once was. I think the guy who used to make it must have retired. He was pretty old! -- but he made excellent pizza, lol.)
- Younger Nephew & his wife gave us a gift bag of goodies at Easter, including a box of individually wrapped "lemon wildberry" gourmet biscotti by "Mom's Best." We've added them to our regular shopping list. Yum!
- Dh & BIL's aunt sent BIL home with a big Ziploc bag full of Italian Easter bread (cuculi) after our recent visit there, and SIL split it with us, saying they couldn't possibly eat it all themselves. Double yum! :)
Buying (besides books, lol): I indulged in one of my periodic online shopping sprees, and ordered a few new T-shirts from Lucky Brand Canada (Victoria Day weekend 1/2 price sale); a pricey shower squeegee from a Calgary-based company called Ocean Sales (where I previously bought an amazing window washing squeegie kit); and, from Amazon Canada, a small cookie-dough scoop (I already have a larger one) and "Gord's Gold" CD (Gordon Lightfoot's greatest hits -- I couldn't resist...!).
We went out shopping one afternoon and brought home some furnace filters at Canadian Tire and two new pairs of shorts for dh at Mark's Work Wearhouse.
Wearing: It was FINALLY time to bring out the capris & sandals, and put away my long jeans! (hopefully for the rest of the summer!) :) (Haven't put on shorts or a tank top yet, but I'm sure that's coming...)
Trying: Not to panic when the (fibre optic/Internet-based) TV service goes down, as it did a few nights ago. Huge anxiety, as it happened when I was using the remote (a rare event! lol) to change channels, and the picture froze. I tried turning the TV on & off, and the same picture was still frozen there. It was late -- too late to be fiddling around with technical stuff -- and we finally just went to bed. In the morning, I tried unplugging the TV & receiver, waiting a few minutes and then plugging them back in & turning the TV back on again. It took a minute to fully reboot, but worked like a charm. A good reminder that unplugging/pausing/reconnecting is the first thing you should try when you run into technical difficulties. (Works well in terms of your own life too! lol)
Noticing: A loud, high-pitched, intermittent whistling/trilling noise, coming from outside. Not every night, but several times recently, since the weather got nice enough to have the balcony door open. (I remember hearing it last summer as well.) It starts in the late afternoon, and I can still hear it (more muffled) when I go to bed at night. Not sure if it's insects, birds, frogs from the nearby creek, or...??
Also noticing: The pounds creeping back on. :( I weighed myself this morning and I am up more than 3 pounds since last month, which was up more than 2 pounds over the month before that -- about 6 pounds overall since the new year. I'm still more than 12 pounds lighter than my all-time heaviest weight, but this is not the direction I want to see the scale moving Time to nip this trend in the bud...!
Enjoying: Being able to have the balcony door wide open again! (albeit the windows in/around it need washing!). The weather is mild enough now, and -- until yesterday, when we finally turned on the air conditioning -- there wasn't any/much humidity (yay!).
Appreciating: Having air conditioning, when it's needed!
Wanting: Gelato! (Still haven't gone for our first gelato outing of the summer -- need to add to the agenda...!)
Wondering: Whether I'm going to be able to make it home this summer?? (It will depend on what's happening with BIL & when.)
Worrying: (As usual) About BIL's health issues (including impending major surgery), and the impact it's having on the rest of the family, including dh, SIL & the nephews. :(
Hoping: That we will soon have some clarity on what's going to happen and when... And that I will manage to squeeze in a visit "home" with my family sometime this summer...!
Waiting: (See above...!)
Prioritizing: Helping out BIL & SIL wherever/however we can right now.
Loving: Spending time with LGN (even if he tires us out!).
Feeling: Happy that spring has (finally!!) sprung! (Still) Anxious about BIL, his health and what the summer might bring...