Friday, March 29, 2024

"No One Talks About This Stuff" edited by Kat Brown

Although things have improved since loss, infertility and permanent childlessness entered my life 20-25+ years ago, there's still a cloak of silence when it comes to public discussion of these matters in the broader culture.  

"No One Talks About This Stuff: Twenty-Two Stories of Almost Parenthood" is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature shedding light on these difficult subjects.  The collection was spearheaded, crowdfunded and edited by British journalist Kat Brown. "This is the book that I wish I'd found in the bookshops when my husband and I were trying for a baby," she writes in the introduction. 

The 22 writers -- women and men, mostly British -- who contributed personal essays (including some names familiar to me, such as Jody Day, Yvonne John and Stella Duffy, as well as others new to me) form a diverse group covering a broad range of reproductive experiences. If pregnancy loss, abortion, infertility, disenfranchised grief and/or childlessness are part of your story, you will find something here you can relate to!  I loved them all;  it would be very hard to pick a favourite, although I did think that Jody Day and Stella Duffy's essays, coming first and last, were the perfect bookends for the rest of the content. One (very) small quibble: I would have liked to see the two essays written by a wife and husband about their lost pregnancy placed back to back in the book --  but as I said, that's a very small quibble.  :)  

Content warning:  Some of the writers already had living children before the losses they write about here, and some of them did eventually become parents.  

Brown has helpfully included a "trigger index" at the back of the book -- covering everything from abortion to trisomy 2 mosaicism -- that readers can consult if there are particular scenarios they might find difficult to read about. There are also lists of resources (albeit most of them are U.K.-based).  

Disclosure(s):  I was among those who contributed to crowdfunding the publication of this book, and my name is included in a list of "Supporters" at the back.  In exchange for my contribution, I received an e-copy in early March, and a paperback copy a week or so later. :)  It was published in the U.K. and Australia on March 21st, with e-versions available in Canada and the U.S. via Kobo and Amazon on that day as well. Paper copies will be out July 2nd in the U.S., and July 12th Canada. 

Also,  it was a pleasant surprise to see Jody Day mention me in her essay (along with Pamela Tsigdinos and Lisa Manterfield) as a childless blogger who supported her own early blogging efforts on Gateway Women.  :)   

5 stars 

This was Book #9 read to date in 2024 (and Book #3 finished in March), bringing me to 20% of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 1 book behind schedule to meet my goal. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2024 tagged as "2024 books." 

Monday, March 25, 2024

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

Since I don't have a #MicroblogMonday post prepared (again!), here are some odds & ends I've been gathering over the past week or so for your reading pleasure:  
  • As if I needed a reminder that I'm getting older (lol), I had lunch recently with a friend from high school. 
    • First, I realized that it will be (gulp!) 45 YEARS in June since we graduated -- which means she & I have known each other almost 50 YEARS (since we first met in Grade 10, in the fall of 1976). 
    • Second, she told me her YOUNGER sister's GRANDSON is getting MARRIED this summer!!  (Just let THAT one sink in!)  Her younger sister was in my younger sister's class, a year behind us;  she was pregnant at graduation, and the daughter she had then also had a baby shortly after SHE graduated from high school.  Who is now getting married...!   
  • Speaking of age -- Deanna Stellato-Dudek is my hero. :)  At age 40 -- 33 years after she first hung up her competitive skates -- she just won the world figure skating championships in the pairs event, with her partner Maxime Deschanps. (She's an American who is now skating for Canada, and is seeking Canadian citizenship in time for the next Winter Olympics in 2026.) This is a sport where most women are considered washed up at 25.  And, oh yeah, she does not have children.
    • I spent most of this past weekend watching the skating, both livestreamed online and on broadcast TV, i.e., CBC and NBC. The event was held in Montreal, four years after it was originally scheduled and then cancelled at the last minute when covid descended upon the world. It was a fabulous competition, and worth the wait! 
    • If you can find a video, watch American skater Ilia Malinin's program in the men's final (as well as Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps's program). What he achieved was absolutely jaw-dropping -- and I've been watching skating for a LONG time! (lol)  -- SIX quadruple jumps in his program, including a quad axel (he's the only person in the world right now who's doing it).  And he's hinting that QUINTUPLE jumps may be in his future. 
  • Helen Davenport-Peace is really hitting it out of the ballpark lately with her Substack, The Antidote. Case in point:  "You said nothing (and I wish that you had)." 
  • Anne Helen Petersen had a long, thoughtful post on her Culture Study Substack about how the founding American myth of "rugged individualism" inhibits the development of community. Don't skip the comments -- if you look at the "top first," some of the first ones there delve into the divide between parents and childless/childfree people. 
  • The Atlantic had a great article recently on "America's unprocessed covid grief" ( = why so many people are in a funk right now). (Gift link, accessible for the next 14 days.)  There's a slight political angle, but overall, I think they're absolutely right, and I found it really interesting.  Excerpt:  
Four years ago, the country was brought to its knees by a world-historic disaster. COVID-19 hospitalized nearly 7 million Americans and killed more than a million; it’s still killing hundreds each week. It shut down schools and forced people into social isolation. Almost overnight, most of the country was thrown into a state of high anxiety—then, soon enough, grief and mourning. But the country has not come together to sufficiently acknowledge the tragedy it endured. As clinical psychiatrists, we see the effects of such emotional turmoil every day, and we know that when it’s not properly processed, it can result in a general sense of unhappiness and anger—exactly the negative emotional state that might lead a nation to misperceive its fortunes.
  • Medium posts are often paywalled (and you have to pay for an extra subscription if you want to send gift links!  :p  )  -- but if you can access it, Ali Smith's post on "Bridging the Gap Between Parents, the Childfree and the Childless" is well worth a read (and she's a great writer to follow on childfree/childless issues generally!).  (Subhead:  "Friendships can survive and thrive when we take different paths, but only if we validate each other.")  All three groups are dealt with compassionately. Excerpt:  
Whether childless or childfree, all non-parents experience the weight of pronatalism.

We are othered, shamed and excluded.

Governments, religious leaders and even Elon Musk lead this resistance toward non-parents.

And yet, the same groups that are trying to lead the stampede against non-parents are, in fact, wolves in sheep's clothing. They do not provide adequately for parents and children....

I’m begging you, please don’t allow the ulterior motives of conservative people to widen the chasm between parents and non-parents.


I was recently on Newstalk, an Irish national radio show. We were discussing how children can change friendships.

In my experience, the friendships that survive are the ones that incorporate reciprocity.

Sometimes, the pendulum swings one way and stays there for a while, but it needs to return to the equilibrium at some stage.

I will happily go to soft play and listen to endless anecdotes about my friends’ kids. And I will delight in this because I love my friends and want to be a part of their lives.

But I need the same courtesy extended to me.

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

Monday, March 18, 2024

#MicroblogMondays: Sad things, annoying things & small pleasures

Sad things:  

  • My beloved uncle & godfather passed away recently, not long after his 81st birthday. He was my mom's younger brother and only sibling -- my only uncle on that side of the family. He'd just turned 81. His health had not been good in recent years and, as my cousin/his son told me when I messaged him, "he kind of ran out of gas."  :(  I hadn't seen him since summer 2016, but we've talked on the phone and I've kept up with him & his family through social media and through my mom, who spoke/speaks with them regularly. I am going to miss him. :( 
    • I told my mom I like to think he's joined my late grandparents and other family members (including my Katie, of course) at that big kitchen table in the sky (which looks suspiciously like my grandmother's old kitchen, only bigger), where the coffee pot is never empty and the laughter just keeps on going.  :)  ❤

Annoying things:  

  • Waking up (AGAIN -- 4th time in two weeks) at about 7:15 a.m. to a tapping noise coming from the bathroom walls (or ceiling?).  Dh went upstairs a while later and tapped on the door of the unit above ours, hoping to speak to the tenant (we know it's rented) and find out if she'd been in the shower or???  but no one answered the door. :(  
    • The property manager came by last week, notified the unit's owner and was able to go in and run some water through the pipes, and while we could hear the faint sounds of water running (as we sometimes do -- and that's to be expected, I think), we didn't hear any tapping/dripping noise this time. There's not much she can do until/unless we actually see signs of water damage. (And the ceiling of our shower cubicle is tiled, so it may be quite a while before anything shows up, if this is what's happening.)  Sigh... 
  • Knowing that I need to tackle cleaning the shower cubicle again, soon...!  (One of my least favourite chores! -- although I always appreciate how it looks when it's done!) 
  • Certain politicians (on both sides of the border...!).  :p   
  • Unrelenting grey skies these past several months (including this morning). 
    • Small pleasure:  The rare days when we see blue sky & sunshine! 
  • Not being able to think of something more original/interesting for a #MM blog post.  ;)  
Small pleasures:  

  • Spending a full day last week with Little Great-Nephew, who was on spring break from junior kindergarten.  Exhausting, but so much fun!  :)  
  • Seeing BIL in a good mood, and more like himself than he has been in a very long time.  :)  
    • Knowing that he & SIL had a nice holiday with his & dh's cousin and her husband in the Caribbean.  :)  
  • A trip down Yonge Street in Toronto last week, from the 407 to our optometrist's office midtown. The traffic can be miserable (and it wasn't great), but it was a gorgeous day outside (18C!! -- I left my jacket in the car for the short walk from the parking lot to the office), we had the windows rolled part way down, and it was fun/interesting to see all the changes that had taken place even just since our last trip along the same route a few months ago.  
    • (Annoying/sad thing:  SO. MANY. CONDO BUILDINGS!!  going up!! =  entire blocks of stores and other small businesses being demolished...!)  
    • No significant changes in my vision since my last visit!  :)  
  • Taking Easter/spring decorations to the cemetery for Katie's niche. 
    • Driving around our old community afterwards (to kill time before an appointment nearby). We didn't go past our old house, but we did drive down some streets we hadn't been on in quite a while. 
  • Easter chocolate. :)  I bought some for Little Great-Nephew's Easter goodie bag (Little Great-Niece is still too little for candy) -- and some for us to nibble on too.  Both Lindor milk chocolate eggs, and Cadbury mini-eggs.  :)  
  • The prospect of lunch with an old friend later this week. She messaged me on the weekend that she'll be in town and did we have time to get together on Thursday? 
    • Annoying thing: I responded yes, proposed lunch and a place to eat -- and still haven't heard back from her. :p  
  • Looking at my cellphone wallpaper:  a photo from Little Great-Niece's recent first birthday party,  of her sitting on the couch beside Little Great-Nephew (her cousin), who is playing a game on his tablet and studiously trying to ignore her (lol!!)  as she leans over to see what he's doing.  I think it's one of my favourite photos I've ever taken. 
  • Trying a new recipe for dinner last night:  easy chicken tetrazzini (using Campbell's soup for the sauce!).  Very gooey and very rich (definitely NOT low-cal!!), but pretty good!  :)  (Lots of leftovers too!)  
  • The first day of spring is tomorrow!!  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Sunday, March 17, 2024

"Things I Don't Want to Know" by Deborah Levy

Since I'm (cough!) already behind pace on my Goodreads goal for the year, I thought I'd try a shorter book for a change, since the ones I've been reading lately have been pretty long ones, both book club/readalong selections and my own picks. "Things I Don't Want to Know:  A Living Autobiography" by Deborah Levy is, in hardcover, just 163 well-spaced pages with generous margins and a large type size (also easy on my aging eyes, lol).  

I don't remember how I learned about Levy's "Living Autobiography" trilogy -- I probably read a review of it somewhere -- and then I saw all three volumes at the local bookstore and was captivated by the bold cover designs.  Eventually, I bought all three, and they've remained on my bookshelf since then (until now). (Books 2 & 3 in the trilogy are "The Cost of Living" and "Real Estate.") 

I'll admit the first chapter had me wondering just what was going on here. It starts with Levy crying on escalators in train stations, which leads to a solo getaway trip to Majorca, where Levy encounters Maria, the single, childless proprietor of the hotel she's staying at, remembers a 1988 trip to Poland, and winds up chatting in a bar with a Chinese shopkeeper acquaintance.  

But when I got into chapter 2 -- in which the author recounts memories of her childhood in South Africa, during the 1960s (i.e., the era of apartheid), it got much more interesting -- and I started seeing certain themes being repeated and developed, as Levy discovers her voice, as a young woman and as a writer.  

The writing throughout is absorbing, and the reason why I'm rounding up my 3.5 star rating on StoryGraph to 4 stars on Goodreads.   

ALI note:  I was under the impression that Levy was childless (not sure why?) -- but she mentions her son early on, followed by a fairly lengthy passage about the lives of mothers and motherhood generally.  

This was Book #8 read to date in 2024 (and Book #2 finished in March), bringing me to 18% of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 1 book behind schedule to meet my goal. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2024 tagged as "2024 books." 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Lots of odds & ends!

  • The nightly CBC television newscast, "The National," had a lengthy feature report on Feb. 27th about IVF in Canada and the barriers some people face in getting treatment (financial, geographic, etc.). It focused on one woman, currently on her 7th cycle, who has already spent more than $100,000 (Canadian) and regularly drives four hours (one way) from Sudbury to a clinic in Markham, outside of Toronto (and then another four hours back home again). (I remember chatting with a woman from Sudbury in the waiting room at my own RE's office when I was going through fertility treatments, 20+ years ago!)  
    • I don't know if the video is available to view outside of Canada, but here's the link
  • The province of British Columbia recently announced it will join several other Canadian provinces by funding one cycle of IVF, beginning in April 2025. The Globe & Mail featured a B.C. couple who estimate they spent $80,000 on 16 cycles of IUI and IVF, four of which ended in miscarriage, before their son was finally born in 2018. (Gift link.) Quote: 
Ms. Santos called B.C.’s announcement “incredible news,” and said it would have made a world of difference to her family had their first IVF cycle been covered.

“If we had had funding, that would have taken so much stress off at a time when everyone says all you should focus on is not stressing,” she said. Her husband could have come home [from working a higher-paying job in northern Alberta], she added. “We would have had more opportunity to work on our mental health, to not feel so guilty to take a day off if we needed it. It would have been invaluable to have that peace of mind.”
According to some delightful people out there, women who can’t conceive need to just accept that it’s “God’s will” they remain child-free.

In their words, IVF isn’t natural, so we shouldn’t be doing it.

OK Steve, let’s see how well you fare without medical intervention the next time you need an operation. No anesthetic or scrubbed-up surgeon for you, my friend....

We’re happy to accept modern comforts, science and medicine in almost every other part of our lives. No one thinks it’s weird to live with electricity or a car or to receive anesthesia during a vasectomy.

Which leads to just one conclusion.

The rhetoric about “natural” childbirth and conception isn’t pro-nature.

It’s anti-women.

I found this bit somewhat shocking (and depressing): 

...whilst the perception of IVF has improved in recent years, there are still devastating stats about what some people think of IVF babies.

A recent study revealed that 41% of people think IVF babies are “normal but not natural.”

Twenty-two percent do not think IVF babies are legitimate.

And even more shocking, 13.5% of respondents do not think IVF babies should be welcomed by society.

The Vatican (which represents 1.3 billion Catholics across the world) doesn’t accept assisted reproduction, and now — whether this was their intention or not — neither does the state of Alabama.

And there's this: 

I don’t need people to tell me I’m an infertile failure

I already think that myself.

And it’s not just online trolls or Republican politicians that make me — and women like me — feel like this.

It’s society as a whole.

Not only do we live in a pronatalist world, we live in a pronatalist world where we are expected to a) quickly get pregnant, b) love pregnancy and c) have a natural birth.

And as someone struggling with fertility, I’m told I’m not natural. Because if you’re natural, you’re fertile, right?

This messaging comes from everywhere.... 

One comment read: "'Have more babies.'  'No not like that.' "  Touchez!   

Sisson’s analysis gently coaxes the scales from our eyes. If adoption is a heartwarming practice, why are birth mothers wracked with feelings of grief and betrayal that do not abate over time? If every aspiring parent deserves a baby to love, who are we willing to exploit to meet that demand?

...This book may be a tough read, especially for current or aspiring adoptive parents. It feels much better to rescue an unwanted baby than to take one from a mother who would parent if she could only afford a car seat. But, as Sisson writes, if adoption is intended to meet the needs of children and not the “dreams of would-be parents,” then adoptive parents’ feelings can’t drive the future of adoption. 

  • Also on the topic of adoption: a great article (with a first-person perspective) from the Atlantic:  "No One's Children: America’s long history of secret adoption."  (Gift link, accessible for 14 days.)  
  • Related:  a fabulous, must-read post from Mali at No Kidding in NZ:  "No Kidding Voices Count" -- when it comes to adoption, as well as other aspects of the adoption/loss/infertility experience. Excerpt (and key message): 
Why should we feel that our comments on a process that did not work for us should be disparaged as “bitter” or “sour grapes” compared to those who are considered the “success” stories? Answer = we shouldn’t. Our views are just as valid, and perhaps more so, because we are evidence that the processes are not infallible, that they don’t work for everyone, and in many cases, they don’t work for the majority. Everyone needs to understand why that is. Our voices count, and should be heard. 
  • Mali's post didn't specifically mention the recent court ruling in Alabama that has virtually shut down IVF treatments in that state, but I was thinking about Alabama when she said: 
It’s not a contradiction to both be pleased that there are paths to parenthood for the infertile, and to want to ensure these paths take care of those prospective parents during and after this process, as well as act in the best interests of the children who may emerge from this. That’s not sour grapes. It is in fact much more holistic. 
  • Also re: the Alabama ruling:  Pamela's Silent Sorority blog/website is currently under renovation, but she's still advocating for fertility industry reform and patient rights, including recent opinion pieces in the Boston Globe and Newsweek specifically related to the events in Alabama. 
  • Jess recently posted about how the Alabama case has resulted in increased interest in/media coverage of IVF. Unfortunately, the coverage demonstrates that people (still!!) aren't using the correct terminology when discussing the process. (No wonder there are so many misconceptions....!) 
    • Mel highlighted Jess's post on today's Friday Blog Roundup, pointing out that she wrote the New York Times about "implant" vs "transfer" ....back in 2009!  The NYT responded that they understood, BUT "we made the conscious decision to use the word implant. The average reader doesn’t understand what a ‘transfer’ is.”  "...[So] frustrating that I was writing the NYT in 2009 about this, and it’s now 2024, and nothing has changed,"  she says.  :(   Grrrrrrr indeed. 
  • In her Substack "The Antidote," Helen Davenport-Peace ponders "The anatomy of an announcement:  Pregnancies that aren't ours, but theirs."  
  • Henri Copeland eloquently reflects on the very different reactions she and her family are getting after the loss of her father, versus the lack of support she's had for her grief as a childless woman.  
  • At "In Pursuit of Clean Countertops," Sara Petersen spoke with Lyz Lenz of "Men Yell At Me" about her new book (about divorce), "This American Ex-Wife."  Unfortunately, it's behind a subscriber paywall, but I wanted to share a couple of particularly brilliant passages that I thought had some application to women without children (even though both Lyz & Sara are mothers)(boldfaced emphasis the author's):  
...even if you're not going to get divorced, we have to stop thinking of parenting as this all-encompassing thing because children will leave you one day! You being okay can’t be predicated on them being okay. At some point, they won’t be okay. And you have to find a way to be a person in the midst of all of that....

...if our senses of selves and wellbeing is no longer dependent on relationships like motherhood and wifehood (because life is long and complicated and full of tragedy, we could live happier lives. 

  • There was some great commentary on the recent State of the Union address in the U.S. -- and, in particular, on the Republican response provided by Senator Katie Britt. Lyz Lenz dubbed her "Dingus of the Week,"  lol. I also liked Monica Hesse's take in the Washington Post -- although I do wish she had taken her rhetoric one step further and made the leap from "moms aren't a monolith" to "not all women are moms" -- sigh....
    • I particularly wanted to note Jill Filipovic's take on her Substack, titled "The Two Americas of the State of Union."   Unfortunately, I think it's behind a subscriber paywall... fortunately, I am a subscriber ;)  and I can share this especially relevant excerpt with you:  

The word “mom,” by the way, shows up in Britt’s speech more times than the word “women.” This is despite the fact that more than half of American women do not have children, and roughly one in six reach the end of their childbearing years without having them. Many women who are mothers also do not see motherhood as their sole defining characteristic. “Woman” and “mother” are not identical categories. And yet the Republican Party talks to us as if they are — or as if they should be...


The message from Britt and the GOP was clear: All women are or should be mothers; women and mothers should be fearful of the big scary world around them; and they should probably stay in the kitchen.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Four years (!)

Four (!) years ago this week, the World Health Organization declared the rapidly spreading covid-19 virus to be a global pandemic. (I meant to post this earlier, but it's been a pretty wild week...!)  

There's been lots of commentary in the media & elsewhere online, marking four years of the pandemic. Katie Hawkins-Gaar at the Substack "My Sweet Dumb Brain" posted "Throwback: Blame the anniversary effect."  (Subhead: "It’s been four years. Things are still weird."  Yep. :p )  

On the other hand, in "Four Years of Covid," Mel at Stirrup Queens remembered how she couldn't find soap in the early days of the pandemic:  "We still mask. We still carry hand sanitizer in our pockets. We’ve had many vaccinations. But we travel again. We see friends. We go to parties and eat outdoors. It’s a good life; not as carefree as it was four years ago, but so much better than the beginning when I dreamed about soap." 

As I commented to Mel, "I think the worst part is how divisive these past four years have been. I feel like so many people have amnesia about just how bad it all was — and still is! It’s still very much of a threat to our collective and individual health and well being, but it feels like our governments (and corporations) are determined to move us all along (“nothing to see here”) and have us believing it’s over (it’s not) and that it’s no more serious than a bad cold or the flu (maybe, but maybe not). Sigh." 

To that point, the CDC recently revised its covid isolation guidelines, shortening the recommended isolation period to just two days instead of the previous five. The CDC said this will bring them in line with its advice for other kinds of respiratory infections, including influenza and RSV. 

Not everyone thinks this is a good thing (including me!). "Why Are We Still Flu-ifying COVID?  The diseases are nowhere near the same," Katherine J. Wu wrote in the Atlantic. (Gift link; available for 14 days.)  Excerpt:  

...COVID and the flu are nowhere near the same. SARS-CoV-2 still spikes in non-winter seasons and simmers throughout the rest of the year. In 2023, COVID hospitalized more than 900,000 Americans and killed 75,000; the worst flu season of the past decade hospitalized 200,000 fewer people and resulted in 23,000 fewer deaths. A recent CDC survey reported that more than 5 percent of American adults are currently experiencing long COVID, which cannot be fully prevented by vaccination or treatment, and for which there is no cure. Plus, scientists simply understand much less about the coronavirus than flu viruses. Its patterns of spread, its evolution, and the durability of our immunity against it all may continue to change.

And yet, the CDC and White House continue to fold COVID in with other long-standing seasonal respiratory infections. When the nation’s authorities start to match the precautions taken against COVID with those for flu, RSV, or common colds, it implies “that the risks are the same,” Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at the University of Maryland, told me. Some of those decisions are “not completely unreasonable,” says Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiology at UVA Health, especially on a case-by-case basis. But taken together, they show how bent America has been on treating COVID as a run-of-the-mill disease—making it impossible to manage the illness whose devastation has defined the 2020s.

Meanwhile, the vaccine hesitancy that has flourished these past few years has extended beyond covid vaccines.  Measles, which was declared eradicated in Canada 20 years ago, is sadly making a comeback, with increasing numbers of cases. I was thankful that Little Great-Nephew got his shot yesterday. 

(I don't remember whether I had measles as a child? I do remember that my sister & I got shots for "red measles" in the late 1960s/early 1970s -- probably one of the early measles vaccines available. I had my family doctor test me when I first started trying to conceive, and apparently I am immune to rubella?) 

Last year at this time, I wrote a post called "THREE YEARS -- plus odds & ends."  In 2022, I posted about "Two years of pandemic living," and what was good/better and what wasn't. In 2021, I relived March 12, 2020 -- i.e., what I called  "The Last Normal Day" -- one year later. These and all my other past pandemic-related posts here, tagged "COVID-19 pandemic." 

As I said last year, "And so onward we muddle" -- now into YEAR 5 (!). (Sigh...) 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Childless Collective Summit -- in person! (Are you going?)

When was the last time you were in a room with 100+ (or even 6 -- 10 -- 20??) other childless women -- for a few hours, let alone an entire weekend?? 

I'm guessing the answer would be "never."  (Whereas groups of mothers... but hey, I digress...)  

If you've ever thought about how cool that would be -- here is your opportunity!     

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember me raving about three online/virtual summits that Katy at Childless Collective has organized for our childless not by choice community over the past few years, which brought together more than 8,500 attendees and 100 + speakers in total.

Now, Katy (whose previous job included event planning) has put together another summit for childless women (and men!) -- in person! It's coming up soon -- the weekend of Friday, April 12th through Sunday, April 14th -- in the coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina  (consistently voted best city in the U.S. by readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure).

Earlybird pricing (savings of USD$50) ends March 15th (Friday!).  Your ticket includes: 

  • April 12th & 13th, Camden Room, downtown Charleston:  interactive sessions, opportunities to connect with other attendees, and an exciting lineup of speakers, including keynote speaker Jody Day, Alisha Saavedra, Tanya Hubbard, Angela L. Harris, Stacey Brown, Carrie Hauskens, Katy Seppi and Melissa Jones. Read the bios of all the speakers here.  The summit sessions are designed to support you in:
    • Building friendships with others who are childless.
    • Learning to identify and amplify your greatest strengths.
    • Recognizing your value and worth.
    • Identifying new avenues to meaning and joy.
    • Feeling seen and validated in your childless experience.
    • Finding inspiring examples of rich and full lives without kids.
  • Sunday April 14th:  Beach day!  Katy has rented a private pavilion that overlooks the beautiful Atlantic Ocean shoreline known as “the Edge of America”. There's no agenda:  just a chance to enjoy the scenery, eat (Katy's hired a food truck!) and spend time together with new friends. 
  • Access to a private online community (hosted on Mighty Networks) from now until the end of April. Here you can meet other attendees before the event, stay up to date with event details, and access a travel guide with recommendations for making the most of your trip.
  • The Earlybird price of USD$550 closes on Friday March 15th; after that tickets will be USD$600. Price includes all 3 days of the Summit (including the Sunday beach party, for which transportation is provided!) and lunch each day, including a food truck at the beach. Payment plans are available to spread the cost.
(Tickets do NOT include flights/transportation to & from Charleston, or accommodation.) 

Learn more and get your ticket here

Even if you can't attend, you can gift the cost of a ticket so that someone else can go (who otherwise wouldn't be able to)!  Details here

And a Summit Replay Pass will be made available and can be purchased separately, even if you can't  attend the conference in person. (Details on that to come.)  You won't have the fun of hanging out on a beach with some other awesome childless women, but you will be able to listen in to all the main presentations.  

This is a great (rare!) opportunity -- and one that may not be repeated for quite a while, if ever.  As you might imagine, organizing an event like this a LOT of work and VERY expensive -- and Katy is doing ALL the work and has assumed ALL the expenses herself. (There aren't a whole lot of corporations eager to jump in and sponsor an event for childless women -- even though many of us have a lot more disposable income than parents do!) She's hoping to sell enough tickets to cover her costs.  

(Personal note:  Unfortunately, I won't be attending, for a variety of reasons. :(  But I'm looking forward to purchasing one of the replay passes, and I can't wait to see the stories & photos from those of you who do go!)  

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

#MicroblogMondays: It's spring break week...

...and who needs kids to be busy??  (Hence, this post is coming to you on Tuesday instead of Monday...!)  

After a long and mostly boring/inactive winter, things started ramping up around here, mid/late last week. Here's what happened then, and how the rest of this week is unfolding:    

  • (Last) Wednesday (March 6th):  I was in the bedroom around 8 a.m. -- dh had been up but was snoozing again on the couch -- when I heard a loud tapping/dripping noise coming from the bathroom. I checked out all the taps and pipes, but I could not see any water. It sounded like it was coming from inside the wall, behind the shower or toilet. It only lasted a few minutes, gradually slowing down/tapering off and stopping. I was going to mention it to dh but forgot about it, until...
  • Thursday:  7 a.m., and we were both sound asleep -- when a loud tapping/dripping noise woke us both up. Dh sat bolt upright in bed and said, "Where's that coming from?"  We went into the bathroom. Same thing as yesterday. I grabbed my phone, turned it on and started filming. Nothing to see, of course, but my thought was to record the sound and send it to our property manager.
    • Of course the file was too big to send and I had no clue how to edit it down to a more manageable size, but I did message her anyway, describing what we'd both heard. She said she'd come check it out -- but the earliest she was available was Monday (!) and we were going to be out -- so we wound up agreeing on Wednesday (!).  Meanwhile, she told us to keep an eye out for leaks. She can't call the plumbing contractors unless there's water visible. (Lovely...) 
      • (Wouldn't you know, we haven't heard the noise since then??)(Knocking wood...!)  
    • Thursday is our usual laundry day, so we got up and got a load started.  Later in the morning, we were folding clothes in the bedroom, when dh pointed out to me that the curtain rod was hanging at a peculiar angle:  the left-side bracket that holds the rod up was starting to pull out of the wall. 
      • Unfortunately, the right-side bracket had done the same thing a few years ago...!  We got out a stool and screwdriver and attempted to tighten things up (on both sides), but things had loosened up too much. I didn't want to take it down totally, because there are streetlights below shining into our room;  plus I'd feel like I was on display to the townhouses behind us. So there it hangs, like the proverbial Sword of Damocles, less than three feet away from the bed (MY side of the bed, I might add...!). 
      • We'd actually bought these curtains (relatively cheaply) and put up them up, in the second bedroom/office as well as our bedroom, as a temporary measure when we first moved in... almost (cough!) EIGHT YEARS AGO. And we'd talked about upgrading and other options -- but then the pandemic came along and... well, you know...!  Well, no time like the present, right??  
      • I went online and looked up Blinds To Go, which has a local outlet. They offer a "shop at home" service with a consultant as well as the option of professional installation. And I was able to book an appointment with a consultant for the following afternoon!  
  • Friday:  We set the alarm clock, got up at 7 a.m. and had breakfast and coffee/tea, and got to work doing the usual weekly housecleaning, several hours earlier than normal. Showered, had lunch and were ready for the consultant's visit at 1 p.m. 
    • She arrived with a suitcase full of samples and swatches for us to look at, and was very nice and helpful. We decided on fabric vertical blinds for all three windows. They HAD to be white or off-white, as per the bylaws of our condo association, so we picked something that was textured and off-white (with flecks of a taupe-y brown running through it). She took measurements, gave us an estimate (which, while expensive enough, was a lot less than we'd expected, even before the 25% sale price was factored in), took a 50% deposit from us, and set up an appointment with a installer to come in and do exact measurements. We have a pretty busy week ahead, but luckily, she was able to book us something for the following day. 
  • Saturday:  Our appointment time frame was 9-12 noon, so once again we set our alarm clock for 7 a.m. The guy finalizing the measurements arrived at 11:15 a.m. and was in and out in about 5 minutes. (We're still waiting for the final estimate, after which we can give the go-ahead to have the blinds made. Normally, it would take about a week, but the fabric we chose for our blinds is on back order, so delivery and then installation will likely be around March 20th -- which is still pretty good!)  
    • I sat in on a Zoom chat with some other childless women, some of whom were facing Mothering Sunday/Mother's Day in the U.K. 
  • Sunday: We were pretty tired, and (no) thanks to the time change, we didn't get up until 9:30 a.m. (!)(erk!).  I had breakfast, showered, dh made brunch (scrambled eggs and toast), and then I spent a two-hour shift co-hosting a Mothering Sunday/UK Mother's Day text chat in the Childless Collective private community where I'm a member.  That ended around 3 p.m. I made my usual weekly Sunday phone call to my parents and also talked to my sister, who was there for the weekend. Helped dh get dinner in the oven, and then started getting ready for... 
    • The Oscars!! -- which, this year, started an hour earlier than it usually does, at 7 p.m. 
      • In between dinner and 7, I hunted up and printed off a ballot online to mark up as the show progressed -- something I've done since I was a kid -- albeit back then, I used one clipped from the newspaper!
      • I thought it was one of the better shows in recent memory and, amazingly enough, it ENDED ON TIME (a few minutes early, even!).  That was a good thing, because the earlier start time meant the show also ended an hour earlier than is usually does -- i.e., 10:30 p.m. instead of 11:30 p.m. or midnight.  (Past Oscars-related posts here.) 
      • When I was working, I used to sometimes take the Monday after the Oscars off, so that I could sleep in (vs getting up before 5 a.m. to get to work for 8 a.m.). I've been retired for almost 10 years, but believe it or not, I had to set the alarm for 5 a.m. the next day (which was, of course, 4 a.m. before the time changed...!)  because... 
  • Yesterday/Monday: ...we had to be at BIL's house by 7 a.m. to spend the day with Little Great-Nephew, who is (of course) on spring break.   Older Nephew dropped the little guy off at around 7:15 a.m., and returned to pick him up around 4:15.  He is really good and no real trouble at all -- but he's 4, and very active! so we were (and still are!  lol)  both EXHAUSTED!  
    • We were looking after him because BIL & SIL were wrapping up a well-deserved week on a sunny beach in the Caribbean with one of dh & BIL's cousins and her husband. (But we went to their house, since LGN is comfortable there and has lots of toys there, etc. -- more space too!)  Later that evening, we headed to the airport to pick them up. (We were among the very few people waiting in the arrivals area and returning from trips who were wearing masks.)  They'll be looking after LGN tomorrow, Wednesday & Thursday. (His mom has Fridays off.)  
  • Today/Tuesday: We slept in until 9:30 a.m. (again!!). (If we hadn't gotten up when we did, we would have had a pretty rude awakening about an hour later -- monthly test of the building's fire alarm system!  lol)  Dh went to get some groceries and some takeout soups for lunch, and then we headed over to BIL's to see LGN (again) and find out more about how their trip went. We were all pretty tired, though, so we didn't stay long (much to LGN's displeasure). We probably won't see him again until Eastertime, because.... 
  • Wednesday/Tomorrow:  We're setting the alarm clock again:  our property manager will be coming by sometime in the morning (before noon) to check out the noises from the bathroom (a full WEEK after we first heard them!). We told her we could do the morning, but not the afternoon, because...
    • ...we will be heading into the city for our annual checkups with our longtime optometrist. We normally ask for a mid-morning appointment to avoid rush-hour traffic, but his assistant was able to schedule us on an earlier date because someone cancelled. Here's hoping traffic will be lighter than usual (because everyone is spending break week in Mexico or Florida, etc., lol...) -- and that my eyes continue to be healthy (after my surgery two summers ago).  
  • Thursday: Our usual laundry day -- but we'll have to finish up by lunchtime or later in the afternoon/evening, because in the early afternoon we will be heading.... 
    • ...back to our old community:  I have an appointment with our family doctor -- a follow up visit re: a red patch (rosacea? eczema?) on my left cheek (mentioned here). It's much better than it was when I saw another doctor at the same clinic on Feb. 22nd -- much less red/rough/inflamed and no longer itchy -- but it's still there, still somewhat noticeable, and taking its sweet time to disappear.  :p  (Very annoying.) 
    • On our way there or back, we'll stop off at the cemetery with some Easter decorations for Katie's niche. 
    • And on our way back, we'll probably stop off at the drugstore:  I'm in need of a few items. 
  • Friday:  Dh will be setting the alarm:  we need new tires for our car (8 years old, almost 70,000 km on it), and BIL has arranged a good deal for him with a guy he knows. He & dh will be going there around 8 a.m.  Meanwhile, it's our regular housecleaning day, so I'll get started on that and do as much as I can myself until he gets back.

How is YOUR week shaping up? 

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

Friday, March 8, 2024

It's International WOMEN's Day

-- i.e., it's not International Mother's Day. Too often, unfortunately, marketing, media, social media posts and special events for this day tend to centre on mothers and motherhood-related topics, versus issues that affect ALL women. (And they're often the same issues!)  

This may be truer than ever this year, if you live in the U.K.:  it's also Mothering Sunday/Mother's Day there this weekend.  Yikes, what a double whammy...!   

I've found a couple of great pieces this week focused on childless women and IWD.  Don't miss Jody Day's post on the World Childless Week website,  "It’s Called International Women’s Day, Not International Mother’s Day!" Sample excerpt: 

The last few years, it’s felt more and more like ‘International Mothers Day’, and whilst I celebrate women who are mothers, and appreciate that our society is still far from comprehensive in its support for the tasks of motherhood, I often feel that because women without children don’t need that kind of support, it’s presumed that we don’t need any kind of support at all. Having been writing and advocating on this issue for thirteen years, it still feels like childless people live in an imaginative blackspot for mainstream ‘hard-working families.’ (Please note the ironic use of quotation marks!) 

...On International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate mothers, but let’s recognise that they are more than their reproductive identity, they are women first. And we are more than our childlessness too. 

I'd also love to draw your attention to a couple of pieces from Medium on this subject. Unfortunately, most Medium pieces are paywalled  :p  but if you can find a workaround, they're worth reading!  

You are more than your relationship and reproductive status

I know many people do this, so I mean no offence. But when I see women fill their bios with “wife” and/or “mum,” I feel a little sad.

Because the Patriarchy has peddled the message that the value of a woman is inextricably linked to who she is to others.

And yes, men may complete their bios with “husband” and/or “father”, but it’s not as prevalent. Take a look for yourself.

We’ve subconsciously lapped this up.

All around me, women jump at the opportunity to fill their bio in with their relationship status and then their reproductive status. An exclamation to the world: “Look, I’m loveable. I’m relevant to someone. I’m chosen. I’m doing what is expected of me. I’m not flawed.”

We claim our “wife” and “mum” titles as accolades, life flexes, and badges of honour. And by this very notion, we silently suggest that being single and not having children is associated with inadequacy and a lack of love and, by comparison, is less than.

Sure, be proud of being a wife and mum, but I encourage you to ask what message you are trying to convey by including it in your bio. Does it define you? 
...On International Women’s Day, my wish for all women is that you know your worth.

Whether you are single or in a relationship — no matter what that looks like to you — I hope you are happy.

Stand tall as a woman. That is enough. You don’t need to prove yourself by leaning on what nouns you can claim.

Yes, we are all daughters. Some of us may be sisters, nieces, aunts, wives and mothers. But the familial link between you and others doesn’t dictate your worth as an individual.

First and foremost, you are a woman. And that is enough in itself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

"My Effin' Life" by Geddy Lee

I was never an especially huge fan of the band Rush. I never saw them in concert, never owned one of their albums. My musical tastes ran/run more to straight-up rock & roll and the New Wave sounds of my youth than prog-rock.  

But I didn't DISlike them either. Growing up Canadian in the 1970s and 80s, it was impossible to ignore them. Their music was all over the airwaves, and lead singer Geddy Lee's distinctive nasal, high-pitched yelp of a voice was immediately identifiable. ("How did the band decide that HE should be the lead singer?? Did he have the best voice??"  dh has often laughed.)  

So many of their songs are instantly recognizable to me (even if I don't always know the exact title!). I remember one of their early hits, "In the Mood,"  being played at my junior high sock hops, and I did like that song, as well as "Closer to the Heart."  "Tom Sawyer" is, of course, a drumming tour de force by the late, great Neil Peart (who tragically lost both his young adult daughter in a car accident in 1997, and then his wife/her mother to cancer, less than a year later, right around the same time I was dealing with the loss of my own daughter).

One of my very favourite Rush songs is "Lakeside Park," which Peart wrote about a lakeside park in his hometown of St. Catharines. I especially love the song's wistful second half (which kicks in around the 2:25 mark) -- the lyrics always remind me of trips to the beach (in my case, Delta Beach, Lake Manitoba) with my high school friends:  

Everyone would gather on the 24th of May*

Sitting in the sand to watch the fireworks display

Dancing fires on the beach, singing songs together

Though it's just a memory, some memories last forever

*"24th of May" = the traditional date for our Victoria Day holiday, which apparently is only celebrated in Canada. These days, it's celebrated on the third Monday of May, to give us all a long weekend.  

As I said, I never owned a Rush album -- but I DID have the album containing Geddy Lee's highest-charting song ever (with or without Rush) -- "Take Off" from the iconic 1981 Canadian comedy album "Great White North" by Bob & Doug McKenzie (aka  Rick Moranis -- Lee's elementary school classmate! -- and Dave Thomas, from SCTV. ("Ten bucks is ten bucks," lol.)(You had to be there...!)

(Lee also went to junior high school with future NHL hockey player Steve Shutt who, he says, "saved my kosher bacon" from bullies  -- and introduced him to a guy named Aleksandar Živojinović -- better known these days as Alex Lifeson. Another friend from high school:  Oscar Peterson Jr., son of the famous pianist, who served as best man at Lee's wedding.)

So -- long story short -- I've developed a certain affection for these guys over the years -- and when I heard that Lee was writing a memoir, I was interested in reading it. Titled "My Effin' Life" (lol), it was written with the help of Daniel Richler (journalist and stepson of famous Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler) and released last fall. 

Lee, now a 70-year-old grandfather (!), was born Gershon Eliezer Weinrib, named for HIS grandfather, who died in the Holocaust. His Anglicized name was Gary, but his mother's Yiddish accent made it sound like "Geddy" -- a friend overheard her, and the nickname stuck.  

Both of Lee's parents were Polish Jews and Holocaust survivors, who met in Auschwitz (!), reunited after the war, married (in what had been the officers' mess hall at Bergen-Belsen) and came to Canada in 1948.  There's a long chapter detailing their harrowing wartime experiences, as well as the trip that Lee, his mother Mary (Manya) and his siblings took, years later, to Auschwitz and other places in Poland connected to their family. He calls himself a proud cultural Jew, although an atheist in terms of religious beliefs.  

The sudden death of his father Morris (Moishe) in 1965, when Lee was just 12, was a turning point in his life. His mother went to work to keep the family business afloat (a variety store in Newmarket, north of Toronto), leaving Lee at loose ends as he entered his teen years. Music became his refuge. He grew his hair long, dropped out of high school, started Rush with a couple of school friends, including Alex Lifeson, and hooked up with a non-Jewish girlfriend, Nancy Young (whose brother Lindy was in an early incarnation of the band, and who later became a fashion designer and Yorkville boutique owner).  They've been married since 1976 (albeit the relationship has not been without its ups and downs, which Lee details in the book).   

I expected to like this book. I wound up absolutely loving it.  I'm not sure how much of the writing is actually Lee and how much Richler, but oh, the stories!!  And they're accompanied by a generous selection of priceless photos (both candid and professional) and images. Lee has a wonderfully wry voice and self-deprecating (very Canadian!) sense of humour, and I literally found myself laughing out loud -- frequently. I read much of the book with a smile on my face. 

Which is not to say it was all laughs. The Holocaust chapter, the multiple tragedies that befell Neil Peart, the deaths of one dear friend/family member after another, especially in later years -- and, finally, the end of the band itself -- were difficult to read about. There's a sense of grief and loss that pervades those last few chapters -- but also the reflection, perspective and gratitude that comes with time.

I have a couple of small quibbles/caveats. First, the footnotes in my Kobo e-copy were marked by asterisks -- you clicked on the asterisk (touched it on the e-reader screen) and the footnote would pop up. But you had to hit the asterisk with your finger EXACTLY right. (And there were a LOT of asterisks -- 137!! -- and they were all worth reading, once you could get them to open up...!) 

Second, Rush apparently has developed a personal language of expressions, terminology and nicknames, used by Lee throughout the book. For example, Lee, Lifeson and Peart call each other Dirk, Lerxst and Pratt (??!). There are other nicknames for others in their circle, and it was hard to remember sometimes who was who (and what their real names were!).

And while I loved all the photos that were included, I wish the images had been larger.

Also -- I'm not sure what American readers will make of all the Canadian/Toronto references (musicians and band names such as Murray McLauchlan, Downchild Blues Band and Max Webster, as well as geographic and cultural references -- e.g., CanCon rules, or Rochdale College, anyone??). Personally (even though I never set foot in Toronto until 1983), I lapped them up.  As a Canadian, it's (still!) not often we get to see ourselves reflected in a popular culture that's so heavily dominated by the U.S.! 

But as I said, small quibbles.  Overall, this is an effin' great read.  :)  

4.5 stars, enthusiastically rounded up to 5. (Current average rating of 4.64 stars on Goodreads, based on 560 reviews to date.)  

This was Book #7 read to date in 2024 (and Book #1 finished in March), bringing me to 16% of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 1 book behind schedule to meet my goal. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2024 tagged as "2024 books." 

Monday, March 4, 2024

#MicroblogMondays: The song that's stuck in my head right now :)

I instantly recognized today's 90s Heardle, got it on the first guess from a two-second snippet of the opening. :)  And I haven't been able to get it out of my brain since then...!  (I HAD to look up the whole song on YouTube, lol.)  

I do get "earworms" quite frequently -- lately, they've been Rush songs, as I'm reading Geddy Lee's memoir, lol -- but I think this song is one of the all-time greats/most infectious. :)  

Here's a fun live version (from the Live 8 concert in Edinburgh in 2005) with a whole stadium full of people singing along.  :)  

(You're welcome!  lol)

Do you remember what 1990s movie this song was featured in? 

And what's your most recent (or most frequent) earworm? 

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

Friday, March 1, 2024

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.)

(This month is a slightly abbreviated version, as I honestly couldn't think of something to write about for several of my usual categories...!) 

February was, as usual, not my favourite month. :(  There wasn't anything really bad about it, but for a short month -- even with an extra day tacked on for leap year -- it sure felt long.  :(  

Pandemic diary/update: February was month #47 (soon to be FOUR YEARS...!) since the COVID-19 pandemic began -- and people around us still getting sick, many of them for the first time. :(  Wremain covid-free (knocking wood, loudly...), and continue to mask in stores and most other public places, especially where there are a lot of people. 

Among other things this month, we: 
  • Saw Little Great-Nephew at his grandparents' house on Feb. 5th, 7th and 20th. (On all three occasions, he wasn't feeling well and was running a slight temperature (not covid), so his parents kept him out of school and with his grandparents while they were working.) 
  • Shopped at Reitmans & Laura (women's clothing) as well as Carters/Oskosh (children's clothing) and Shoppers Drug Mart, on Feb. 6th;  and Canadian Tire, Chapters (bookstore), Reitmans and Carters (again) on Feb. 21st. 
  • Spent the morning of Feb. 15th at the mall, including lunch in the food court (unmasked, obviously), and then a few hours in the afternoon at Younger Nephew's nearby townhouse (along with BIL & SIL), being royally entertained by Little Great-Niece. :)  
  • Made the trip to our family doctor's office in our old community on Feb. 22nd -- he was booked solid, but I was able to see another doctor in the practice about the large red, somewhat itchy patch (eczema?) on my left cheek, and get a prescription (stopped off at the drugstore to have it filled, en route home). (See also: "Buying," below.).
  • Returned to our old community on Saturday, Feb. 24th, for haircuts. The salon we go to has merged operations with another salon across the street and moved over there. Normally, we try to get the first available appointment with our regular stylist on Friday morning, and I was aiming for March 1st, six weeks after our last haircuts -- but she was booked solid then -- and Little Great-Niece's first birthday party is on Saturday, March 2nd.  I didn't think I could last until the week after that -- so we wound up going on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 24th. It was very busy in there, and a smaller space than the previous location. 
    • Normally I would have worn a mask in this case -- but I've found that masks really irritate the itchy red patch on my left cheek. Ten minutes in & out of  a store, okay, but an hour in a salon? I decided to take the risk and went maskless.  (Knocking wood...!) 

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

Also right now:  

Reading: I finished 2 books in February (reviewed on this blog, as well as Goodreads & StoryGraph, & tagged "2024 books").  (I've been reading a lot of PAGES, but not necessarily finishing many books...! See my "Current reads" list, directly below...!)  
This brings me to 6 books read so far in 2024, 13% of my 2024 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books.  I am currently 1 book behind my goal.  :( 

Current read(s): 
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 the Notes from Three Pines (Louise Penny mysteries) Readalong: The last discussion was for book #3, "The Cruellest Month," posted June 7th -- no further posts/books since then.  I've continued dipping into the series on my own, between other book club obligations. Book #6, "Bury Your Dead," is the next one on my list! 
A few recently purchased titles (mostly in digital format, mostly discounted ($5-10 or less) or purchased with points): 

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ListeningTo Heardle Decades: Stats as of  Feb. 29th:   
  • Heardle 60s:  76.6% (393/513, 169 on first guess), down just slightly from last month. Max. streak: 15.
  • Heardle 70s:  82.5% (212/257, 118 on the first guess), same as last month. Max. streak: 18. 
  • Heardle 80s: 43.4% (56/129,  24 on the first guess), down from last month. Max. streak: 4. 
  • Heardle 90s: 29.2% (71/243, 14 on the first guess), down from last month. Max. streak: 4. 

Eating/Drinking:  Takeout dinners included McDonalds, chicken souvlaki on a pita, teriyaki chicken rice bowls from the supermarket takeout, and cutlet sandwiches from California Sandwiches (veal with tomato sauce for dh, chicken for me). 

I dusted off my Mom's meatloaf recipe, which I hadn't used in quite a while, and made mini-meatloaves in muffin tins, topped with a tangy Dijon mustard/brown sugar glaze, and served with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies. There were leftovers to put in the freezer for a couple of future dinners, too. Yum!  

We tried a quinoa broccoli salad recipe (gift link) that I found in the New York Times Cooking section -- similar to another quinoa salad we tried before Christmas, that we first had at dh's cousin's house -- and we both really enjoyed it, for one dinner and a couple of lunches too. :)  We used a pouch of President's Choice microwavable quinoa (instead of cooking from scratch), pre-shredded cheddar from a bag, Craisins, and we didn't toast the pecans.  Next time, I would probably chop the broccoli and apple into smaller pieces (dh did the chopping this time around), and I might make & add a little more of the dressing -- loved the tangy-ness! 

Buying (besides books, lol):  
  • Presents for Little Great-Niece & Little Great-Nephew, for Valentine's Day, Easter, and Little Great-Niece's 1st birthday (which was Feb. 27th -- party coming up this weekend!). 
  • A small jar of Clinique Redness Solutions cream to try (ordered online), to help combat the rosacea and eczema on my face that I've been experiencing lately (likely the result of the very dry air in our condo). :(   It has seemed to help a little. 
  • A new filter for our Dyson air purifier/humidifier. We bought this unit in October 2022 and the filter hasn't been replaced yet;  it's now down to 13% capacity, so I figured it was time to get a replacement to have on hand...!  
Wearing: It's been chilly inside as well as outside these past few days (and on & off during the month) -- so long sleeved shirts under a cardigan, socks and slippers have been a must!  

Enjoying:  Being cozy at home when it's chilly and/or snowy or rainy outside. (Albeit sometimes I do go a little stir-crazy...!) 

Noticing:  Lately, it's been staying SLIGHTLY lighter, longer/later. Progress??  

Trying:  Metamucil gummies (!). (Am I old or what??)  At my checkup last fall, my family doctor noted that my cholesterol levels have been gradually rising for the past couple of years. (Uh oh.) It's not at the point where I need medication, yet, but he recommended exercise (sigh...), and increasing my fibre intake. "Try Metamucil," he suggested.  I probably made a face when he said that. My mother has used Metamucil powder in a glass of water for years, for more, ahem, traditional reasons. ;)  I always thought it looked completely disgusting. 

But then I saw an ad for Metamucil gummies, and thought I might be able to handle those. So I've been giving them a try -- and they actually taste pretty good (they're orange flavoured).  ;)  The maximum suggested dosage is up to three gummies, three times a day, with plenty of fluids. I started out with just one and have been gradually increasing the dosage. They advise taking them at least two hours before or two hours after any other medication. I take a blood pressure pill in the morning, and a thyroid pill in the late afternoon/early evening, which makes for some tricky logistics...! I probably won't ever get to the maximum dosage -- and I had to stop taking them temporarily this past week, when my doctor put me on a course of antibiotics to combat the inflammation/eczema on my cheek -- but until that point, I'd worked myself up to two before lunch and one in the evening. It remains to be seen whether they're helping my cholesterol levels...!  

Appreciating:  The sun, when it does shine!  

Wanting: Oddly, I've been wishing there was more snow!  We've had hardly any so far this winter -- and I know, it's not over yet...!  Some people are perfectly happy with the milder winter -- and yes, it's easier for me to wish for snow when I (or dh!) don't have to shovel it!  But this is Canada, it's winter, and this is NOT NORMAL.  :(   (The lack of moisture is also not good for the crops, as any farmer will tell you.)  As I mentioned in this recent post, I've seen several articles recently on this theme -- like this one, and this one -- and there is a real sense of grief and loss developing -- mourning for a vanishing way of life that the children of the future won't get to experience. :(   

Prioritizing:  Hard to know what to prioritize sometimes, with so many things on my to-do list (and more coming at me...!).   

Feeling: Glad that February is over -- but quite aware that winter isn't, yet...! Looking forward to Little Great-Niece's FIRST birthday party this weekend!  :)  NOT looking forward to March break (it's the week of March 11th here) and the inevitable crowds of kids and parents everywhere -- a good week to hunker down at home...!  Exception:  the Monday of break week (March 11th), when we'll be looking after Little Great-Nephew for the day while his parents are at work and his grandparents are en route home from a holiday. :)  (They'll look after him for the rest of the week.)