Monday, September 18, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Childless/free living odds & ends

  • Last week was the first World Childless Week, which was created to raise awareness and support for/about people who are childless not by choice. I didn't write anything about it here before, partly because I didn't learn about it the week was underway, and partly because I am still wading my way through the abundance of great related reading I found online. 
  • Through my reading and by following links, I discovered a few new childless/free blogs & sites, which I've added to the blogroll & resources links on the right-hand side of this page. Check them out! 
  • While in general, the ALI blogosphere seems a lot quieter than it used to be, I have noticed an absolute explosion of blogs & other writing (news articles, etc.) related to childless/free living over the past few months/year or so. When I started blogging almost 10 (!!) years ago, I could count the number of childless-not-by-choice bloggers (who blogged with any regularity) on the fingers of one hand, and only one of them (Pamela) still blogs with any regularity -- so this is incredibly heartening to witness.  In fact, all the blogs featured in the Stirrup Queen's most recent Friday roundup came from this corner of the ALI community (as Mali noted in the comments there). 
  • One good piece that I found this past weekend, from the Guardian: "What's it to you if some people don't have kids?"  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Autumn anxiety?

(This is another half-finished post from two years ago that I pulled from my drafts folder.)

Someone in an online loss group I frequent recently commented that she's been having a difficult time with panic attacks lately, and she wasn't sure why. Another member suggested it might be the changing of the seasons -- and several people confessed they too often felt their moods changing, as Labour Day signalled the unofficial end of summer. (The official end, of course, is coming soon enough...!)

And then I saw this article in the Huffington Post online. Apparently "autumn anxiety" is a thing. "Autumn is full of new things: new schedules, new jobs, new schools, new assignments," the article points out. (It also has suggestions for coping strategies.)

I don't think I have "autumn anxiety" (at least, not at this point... not yet...!). But, for the sake of this post ;)  let's say I did/do.  What's my excuse??  None of these "new" things apply to me at this point of my life. I no longer work or go to school, and I don't have kids who do either. We've been in our new condo in our new community for more than year now, and while we're still getting used to some things, we've developed a basic familiarity with the area and have developed some new routines.

And there's always a lot that I look forward to in the fall. I'm not into pumpkin spice lattes ;)  but I welcome the end of stifling heat & humidity (although that wasn't as much of a factor this year), the advent of the beautiful fall colours, and fewer people crowding the malls, etc., as kids go back to school and life returns to a more normal routine. I'm sad to give up my capris & sandals -- but there are certain long-sleeved T-shirts and sweaters that I'm always glad to dig out of the armoire again too. ;)

Many of us have heard of "seasonal anxiety disorder," or SAD. I always tended to associate it with the winter months -- say, November through February/March -- but it makes sense that it might begin or have its roots in the autumn.  Think about it:  the days are getting shorter/darker again. The weather is starting to get colder, which makes it harder to get outdoors. (When the capris & sandals go back into the closet and the long pants and sweaters come out, you know it won't be long before the heavy winter coat, boots, hats & mittens do too...!) A lot of people have seasonal allergies that kick in during the fall months and make them miserable. And even if we're not going back to school ourselves (or sending kids off to school), September is generally when groups, recreational classes and other activities that went dormant during the summer start up again. It's easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of busy-ness, if we aren't careful.

From an ALI perspective, autumn can certainly be a tough time of year.  Several childless-not-by-choice friends have confessed they find the "back to school" hoopla on social media (which tends to drag on for more than a month, starting in the States in early/mid-August and going on through early/mid-September) just as difficult to get through -- or even more so -- than Halloween or Christmas. Another reminder of what we don't have, the life we wanted but didn't get, what might have been, time passing by, etc.

For me personally, autumn does carry some sad reminders, beyond the back-to-school stuff. I spent most of August, all of September & the first few weeks of October 1998 at home, off work, recuperating from the physical, mental and emotional effects of stillbirth.  What should have been the last few months of my pregnancy (my due date was mid-November), a time of excitement and sweet anticipation, became the first few months of my new life -- a life I never wanted and certainly never expected to have. Could my annual "I hate November" blog rants be viewed as the last gasps of "autumn anxiety??

Right now, I'm feeling fine. :)  But if my posts start taking on a more melancholy tone over the next while (the closer we get to November...??!), autumn anxiety just might be a factor. ;)

Do you experience "autumn anxiety"? 

Monday, September 11, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Friend??

Someone unfriended me on Facebook last week. I know, because I noticed my friend count had dropped by one.  Really, I'm not obsessed with the number of my FB friends (or accumulating more, more, more!!) -- but the number doesn't change much, so when it does, it's noticeable. I have no idea which friend it was or why they dropped me, and it's been driving me nuts. (Was it you??  lol) (I keep meaning to do a printout of my friends to refer to at times like these, but it never gets done.)

I've been unfriended a couple of times in the past (that I've noticed), and I always wonder what I did that prompted that person to drop me. (I've never been told I was being unfriended -- and I always assume that it's my "fault," of course...!)  I think I mentioned a while back that I realized I was unfriended earlier this year by a Trump supporter, directly after the U.S. presidential inauguration/Women's March. :(  The link there was pretty clear.  There are some people on my friends list that I wouldn't miss if they unfriended me -- but for many reasons, this one hurt. :(    

Sometimes I notice the number of my FB friends magically increases again. In at least one case, I learned that one of my friends hadn't really unfriended me;  she'd just been taking a social media break and suspended and then activated her account, which was a bit of a relief. (One of dh's cousins does this every year -- she gives up Facebook for Lent!) Sometimes a friend's disappearance has nothing to do with you and everything to do with what's going in their life at the moment. Or they're just tired of dealing with social media. A good lesson to learn...!   

I have never unfriended anyone myself. I HAVE "unfollowed" a few people whose posts I found offensive, or overwhelming (because of their sheer volume...!).

Have you ever "unfriended" anyone on Facebook, or been unfriended yourself? Does being unfriended bother you? 

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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"Some people get what they want and some don't"

I am reading another book by D.E. Stevenson for my Stevenson group on Yahoo.  It's called "Five Windows," and if I read it when I was a teenager (when I initially discovered Stevenson) I don't remember it. I am only a few chapters in, and I will (of course ;)   ) provide a full review when I'm done, but I already read something that struck a chord with me that I wanted to share here.

The novel's protagonist/narrator is a young Scottish boy named David, a keen observer of the people around him. David's friend, Freda Lorimer, wishes she was a boy;  her father (described as a "difficult" man) wanted a son, but got three daughters, including twins (!). David's mother fusses over the twins when they come to visit, prompting David to ask if she wishes he’d been a girl.
"Oh Davie, you mustn't be jealous! There's more misery caused by jealousy than anything else in the world. Jealousy is wicked and foolish too. It's like a disease," said Mother earnestly. "It's like an awful creeping disease. It's like ivy strangling a tree."  
Having said this, David's mother admits she would have liked a girl – a sister for him. Like David, she was an only child, and feels she missed something valuable in life -- but as she points out:
“...we can't choose.  Some people get what they want and some don’t… They say it’s bad for you to have everything you want but some people can’t bear to be thwarted. Nethercleugh (the Lorimer farm) would be a happier house if there were a laddie in it.” 
"Some people get what they want and some don't."  This line reminded me of Ariel Levy's book, "The Rules Do Not Apply" and how she asks New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd about having children. Dowd tells her, "Everybody doesn't get everything."

Life can disappoint us in ways big & small -- this is certainly something we learn when it comes to adoption, loss, infertility and coming to terms with childlessness. There will always be "what ifs?" and speculation about the life we might have had, if only... I think that learning to make the most of the hand we're dealt -- acknowledging our disappointment, but then making our peace with the life we wanted and learning gratitude for the life we have -- is the key to a (reasonably?) happy life (whether you have to deal with infertility & loss, or not). It can be a lifelong struggle, of course, and some of us do better (or worse) at it than others -- but the point is to keep trying. We can let our grief and disappointment eat away at us and sour us on life, as with Freda's father -- or we can try to enjoy the life that's in front of us. There are some choices we don't get to make, as David's mother observes -- but that's a choice that we do have.

In the immortal words of Sheryl Crow (lol), "It's not having what you want/It's wanting what you've got."  :)

I think that, if I've learned one key life lesson from these past 19 years, this would be it.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Expand, contract

(I started this post two years ago (!), after I lost my job in July 2014 but before we sold our house & moved into a condo in April 2016. I recently found it in my drafts folder, updated/reworded and expanded on the theme before hitting "publish" now. ) 

Noemi had a interesting post a while back about "Restriction vs intention" -- what she can't do versus what she is trying to do.

This struck a chord with me and made me think about my own life. In some ways, I feel like my life has been shrinking, becoming more restricted, over the few years:
  • I lost my job = my income has shrunk (and so, hence, has my spending).  
  • My social circle (never very big to begin with) has shrunk. I can go for days without carrying on a meaningful, non-transactional conversation with another adult besides dh (most store clerks don't count). I have lost touch with almost all the people I used to interact with during the work day. I've stayed in touch with a few of my former coworkers through social media, but rarely see or socialize with any of them. We used to live closer to one retired coworker and she & I would get together now & then, but since the move she's a lot further away. Another friend I occasionally socialize with will be moving to another province soon. BIL & SIL and several of dh's cousins live close by, but most of them still work during the day, and are otherwise busy with kids & their activities, aging parents to look in on, etc. 
  • I downsized my possessions, even my precious book collection!! (maybe not enough, but still by a significant amount, lol), sold our house (which, at about 1200 square feet, wasn't huge to begin with) and moved into an 874-square-foot condo.  
  • I lost access to the great public transit we enjoyed (well, better than what we have here at the moment...!) -- & with it, my sense of mobility and freedom (particularly since I do not drive). There's road construction going on around our condo building at the moment that makes it difficult just to get out of our building's driveway, nevermind actually drive anywhere...!  
  • I'm losing people that I knew (and who knew me) during my growing-up years -- relatives, friends of my parents (including one just last week). I'm also obliged to attend funerals/visitations for people I don't necessarily know, or know well (but it's still a funeral, right? ...!) -- friends of dh's family, cousins' inlaws, etc. (I was reorganizing the paper in the slots on my desk recently and was startled by how many funeral cards I've accumulated in the past several months...!)  
  • Even the musicians who scored the soundtrack of my youth have been dropping like flies lately, it seems:  Glenn Frey of the Eagles, David Bowie, Prince, Kenny Shields of Streetheart, Skip Prokop of Lighthouse, to name just a few.  
I know that this happens to most of us as we age -- we retire, move into smaller homes or even seniors' residences, eventually give up our drivers' licenses and our annual trips to Florida (out-of-country travel insurance skyrockets once you're past 75), friends start to pass away... but for most people, that doesn't start happening until their 60s or 70s, at the earliest.  At this point in my life (mid-50s), most of my peers still have lives that are busy and full.  They have jobs, houses (some have cottages too, or houses or condos in Florida), children, grandchildren (or the prospect thereof), and friends & social activities that they've become involved with (some through their children). I've heard about some retirees who are actually buying LARGER homes, to accommodate their visiting children & grandchildren (or those adult children who are still living at home because of the tight job market & lack of affordable housing options).

I’ve been trying to “reframe” things in my mind -- focus less on what I might be losing vs what I'm gaining.  Example: I lost my job -- and with it, some of my income, my old daily routines & social interactions -- but also a LOT of stress -- and I've gained more time and freedom to do other things. I lost square footage, possessions and familiar surroundings when we downsized into our condo -- but I gained the opportunity for more travel & other experiences, closer proximity to our extended family, including our nephews (and maybe, in the future, some great-nephews & nieces??).  We lost many of the headaches that go hand in hand with home ownership -- lawns to mow, weeds to pull, sidewalks to shovel after snowstorms... And I gained a MUCH happier husband (which is definitely worth a lot!).  :)

But it's hard. It's hard to let go of the old familiar life & stuff.

Don't get me wrong. My "new" life is a good one, overall. Like my old life, it has its advantages, and its painful moments. But sometimes it's hard to stay focused on the positive, and not dwell on what you've lost or what you miss.

Do you feel like your life is expanding? Contracting? In neutral gear??

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"The House by the Lake" by Thomas Harding

My family has never owned a cottage (or cabin, or camp, or summer house, or whatever you want to call it) -- but I have spent time at cottages belonging to friends over the years, and I understand their allure and the emotional power they can hold. Here in Ontario, "the cottage" holds a sacred place in the lives of many families, passed down from one generation to the next. On summer Friday afternoons, the highways are jammed with people heading north (and east) to "cottage country" (and then back to the city again on Sunday night). (These days, of course, some cottages are as big as houses, built to operate year-round, with all the modern amenities -- and just as expensive as a "regular" house, too... but I digress...!)

I love stories about old houses and family history, and about how people lived through the First and Second World Wars. So I was predisposed to enjoy "The House by the Lake: One House, Five Families, and a Hundred Years of German History" by Thomas Harding. I first saw it in hardcover in the bookstore last summer, but resisted temptation until the paperback was published this July.

As the subtitle would suggest, the book covers (more than) a century of German history.  But it's so much more than a recitation of historical facts. This is not just the story of a country, but also the story of a house on a lake (Gross Glienicke Lake) near Berlin, and the families who lived there -- and loved it,
  • The property was originally owned by a family called von Wollank, who purchased it as part of an entire estate in 1890, and then leased lakefront lots for development as a way to make money in the lean years of the 1920s.   
  • While the von Wollanks continued to own the land, the lake house of the story was originally built in 1927 and owned by Alfred Alexander, a prominent Jewish doctor. His family enjoyed most weekends and summers at the lake house, swimming, boating, playing tennis and tending to their garden, until the growing restrictions on Jews under Adolf Hitler forced them to flee to England in 1936.  
  • Eight months later, in 1937, the Alexanders' lawyer leased the lake house to Will Meisel, a prominent composer and music publisher, and his wife, Eliza Illiard, a music-hall singer and film actress. By 1940, the Alexanders' property had been seized by the Third Reich, which continued to own the land, but sold the lake house at a fraction of its true worth to the Meisels. 
    • In 1943, the Meisels went to Austria to avoid Will's conscription, leaving the house in the care of his business associate, Hans Hartmann, and his Jewish wife, Ottilie Schwartzkopf. They too left the house at the end of the war, when Soviet troops began arriving in the area and terrorizing the villagers. 
    • The Meisels returned to West Berlin in the fall of 1946, and purchased the land the lake house sat on from the village of Gross Glienicke in 1947 -- but bad roads, petrol shortages, and the numerous British and Soviet checkpoints made it difficult to access the property. In 1948, the Soviets erected a blockade around West Berlin, and in 1949, Germany was formally divided. In May 1952, the border was closed between the two Germanys.  
  • Unable to visit the lake house after the border closed, Will Meisel asked a local widow and mother of two, Ella Fuhrmann, if she would like to stay there as caretaker.  Although the house had not been insulated against the winter cold, the Fuhrmanns lived there for the next six years. It soon became clear the Meisels would not be returning.  
  • In 1958, the local council decided that another family should share the lake house with the Fuhrmanns -- Wolfgang and Irene Kuhne and their two children. In August 1961, construction began on the Berlin Wall -- directly behind the lake house, cutting off the families' view of and access to the lake. The Furhmanns moved out in February 1965, leaving the Kuhnes as the sole tenants for the next 30+ years. After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, Wolfgang and his step-grandson Roland hacked a hole in the wall behind the lake house, and stepped through to see the lake for the first time in more than 25 years. (The rest of the local wall was dismantled in the summer of 1991.)  
In 1993, Elsie Alexander Harding, whose family had built the lake house, brought several of her grandchildren -- including the author -- to see her "soul place" for the first time since she left Germany in 1936. Wolfgang Kuhne was still living there, but died in 1999. Roland continued to live -- and party -- in the house with some of his friends, until 2003, when he was evicted by the City of Potsdam, which planned to redevelop the site.

When Thomas Harding returned to Gross Glienicke in 2013, 20 years after his first visit, he found the house still standing but abandoned, derelict and about to be torn down. Could it be saved? Should it be saved?

I won't give any more away -- but I thoroughly enjoyed this well researched & written book -- its unique perspective on the events of the past 100+ years, on life behind the Iron Curtain, and the personal stories of the families who lived in the house -- and I was a little sad to see it end. Even the notes section is worth reading for the additional details it contains, as well as the closing acknowledgements, where we find out what has happened to some of the people in the story.

For more information on the book, the house and its future, visit AlexanderHaus.org .

*** *** ***

Reading Harding's author profile on Goodreads, I learned he was the author of several other books, including one called "Kadian Journal." A title with the word "journal" in it almost always piques my curiosity, and I clicked over to find out more about the book. Imagine my surprise when I read:
In July 2012 Thomas Harding's fourteen-year-old son Kadian was killed in a bicycle accident. Shortly afterwards Thomas began to write. This book is the result. 
Beginning on the day of Kadian's death, and continuing to the year anniversary, and beyond, Kadian Journal is a record of grief in its rawest form, and of a mind in shock and questioning a strange new reality. Interspersed within the journal are fragments of memory: jewel-bright everyday moments that slowly combine to form a biography of a lost son, and a lost life. 
It is an extraordinary document, and several things at once: a lucid, raw, and startlingly brave book: a powerful and moving account of a father's grief, and a beautiful tribute to an exceptional son. 
Another book to add to my wish list (and from there to my immense to-be-read pile...!)!

*** *** ***

Another book by Harding: "Hanns and Rudolf," about how Hanns Alexander, a German Jew in the British Army, hunted down Rudolf Hoess, the Kommandant of Auschwitz, after the war, and brought him to justice. Hanns Alexander was Harding's great-uncle, the younger brother of his grandmother Elsie. Hanns briefly visited the lake house in 1945 as the war was ending, the only member of the family to see it between 1936, when the family left for England, and 1993, when Elsie returned with her grandchildren.

This was book #14 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 58% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am currently 2 books behind schedule to meet my goal. :p  ;)

Monday, September 4, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Labour Day

It's Labour Day. :)  I choose to ignore the double meaning of the term, with its reminders of pregnancy and babies, and am striving mightily to ignore its most familiar association hereabouts -- i.e., Labour Day = the (unofficial) end of summer, the last day before school starts again tomorrow.  

"Back to school" time has lost a bit of its sting in the last few years.  Obviously, it's been more than 30 years since I darkened the door of a classroom, and even if Katie had been here, she would have graduated high school two years ago and most likely would be in her second year of university or college (gulp).  Although we regularly drove by several schools in our old neighbourhood, we would have to go out of our way to pass by a school, living where we do now.

Still, there's a fall chill in the air these days, and I feel a bit of melancholy descending upon me. It's really not the end of summer, yet -- we still have a couple of weeks to go before fall officially kicks in, and I do enjoy the changing colours and cooler weather (and I am hearing predictions that it will be a milder-than-usual fall) -- but the summer has seemed far too short this year.

On a happier note, the malls will be a lot less crowded this coming week....!  ;)

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current"):

Reading:  Trying to finish up a really interesting book, "The House by the Lake" by Thomas Harding. (It first piqued my curiosity when I saw it in hardcover last year, but I waited to buy it until the paperback came out earlier this summer.)  Review to come in due course. :)  Organizing the schedule & volunteer discussion leaders for my D.E. Stevenson fan group's discussion of our next pick, "Five Windows," which (if everything goes according to plan) begins next week. And wondering whether I'm also going to be able to squeeze in Margaret Atwood's "Alias Grace" before the new television miniseries (adapted by Sarah Polley) begins airing later this month on CBC...!  (It will be shown on Netflix in November.) I guess I could always PVR it and watch at a later date, after I've finished the book??  (Although I already have a backlog on there too...!) 

Watching:  On TV:  I really haven't been watching much TV lately, not even Netflix. Mostly CNN/CBC News Network, and lots of tribute shows to Diana, Princess of Wales, 20 years after her death. Looking forward to the new fall season/return of old favourites!  (Already bored with all the American college football on TV this weekend, lol.) 


At the movies:  Haven't been to many movies this summer either. The last one we went to, a few weeks ago, was "Logan Lucky," a heist movie set in West Virginia with a NASCAR twist, starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough (Elvis's granddaughter!), and Daniel Craig -- aka James Bond, albeit in a most un-Bondlike role.  He's hilarious!   

Eating:  Not well enough lately, I think. :p  Gallstones continue to give me grief, on & off.  :( We noticed that split pea soup had returned to the menu at the takeout soup counter at the supermarket where we shop & often go for lunch (they have great pizza, sandwiches, & other stuff as well as a wide variety of soups). A sure sign that fall is upon us!  


Drinking: Another sign that fall is upon us:  I see Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back at Starbucks. To be honest, I only ever had one, and I wasn't quite sure what all the fuss was about. I much prefer the Gingerbread Lattes at Christmastime. ;)  I may order another PSL in the next while, just to see if there was something I missed the first time around. ;)  But in general, my usual order (tall nonfat English Breakfast tea latte) is just fine with me. ;)  


Listening:  To the soothing voices on CBC Radio One this afternoon (lol). 

Wearing:  Still in T-shirts/tank tops, capris & sandals (and shorts, around the house) -- but not sure for how much longer...!  :(  There is a definite fall chill in the air...!  


Buying (besides books, lol):  Clothes. Not that I REALLY need many clothes these days (see "Wearing," above...!). I found a simple yet dressy top in a pretty shade of blue (also a coordinating pendant necklace & drop earrings) that I thought would be perfect to wear for Nephew #2's fiancee's bridal shower in January.  Even if I find something else I like better for that occasion between now & then ;)  I am sure I will make use of this one.   


Trying:  A new restaurant that opened here recently, along with SIL.  It was Italian -- which can be a minefield for me, with my tomato allergy :p  -- but everything went well -- food & service were both good. We'll be back!

Wondering:  Whether I should get a pedicure next week or hold out until just before our mini-road trip with BIL & SIL later this month?? (Or both??) 

Remembering: Diana, Princess of Wales, 20 years after her tragic death. I've been watching a lot of the specials on TV & reliving the memories all over again. What a tragedy. :(  And what a credit to her memory her two sons are! The idea that young people don't really know who she was is astonishing to me. Although I guess it shouldn't be... several years ago, my boss got free tickets (I later went back with my visiting mother;  I think they were more than $20 each) for our team to the Diana touring exhibit from the Spencer family's Althorp estate, which included many of her dresses AND her spectacular, iconic wedding dress, with its 20+-foot train (which influenced the style of my own wedding dress, some four years later -- voluminous skirt, long train, big puffy sleeves...). My boss (10 years older than me, and me just six months older than Diana) & I stood & gawked at that dress for a long, long time -- while the younger girls who worked with us breezed by, barely giving it a glance. Ahhh, youth...!!  

Steeling myself:  For the onslaught of back-to-school photos on Tuesday (although I've actually already been seeing them since just after the AUGUST long weekend, from my friends & relatives in the States...!).  I do enjoy them, up to a point -- but dealing with the sheer mass of them can get to be difficult sometimes (depending on my frame of mind). 


Loving: Spending time with the nephews, their partners (wife/fiancee), and (of course) the puppy this past weekend. :)   


Feeling:  A little sad that summer is almost over. :(   (Although I do enjoy the fall, too!)  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Odds & ends from recent ALI blogs

Some odds & ends from other adoption/loss/infertility/childless/free blogs/sites that I've been meaning to share with you:
  • Those of us without children, for whatever reason, have extra cause to be upset by Heather Heyer's recent tragic death in Charlottesville, Virginia, as she protested at a neo-Nazi gathering. As The NotMom reports, here and here, Heyer was 32 and did not have children -- and because of that, she was trashed, in death, by the same people who killed her.  :(   Awful, awful, awful. :(   This is why feminism, reproductive rights, and greater general awareness of the issues around pronatalism and childless/free life are SO important...!! 
  • Speaking of The NotMom, Karen Malone Wright shares the story of The Wizard of Oz's childless Auntie Em, and the childless actress who played her in the movie, Clara Blandick. 
    • Would you believe I played Auntie Em in my high school drama club production of The Wizard of Oz??  (I actually did double duty and also played Gloria, a character who's not in the movie. I got to wear a gorgeous green 50s-style prom dress -- alas, I don't think there are any photos of me in it -- and led the cast in singing "The Merry Old Land of Oz," lol.) 
  • Are you going to The NotMom Summit in Cleveland this October??  (It`s the second one ever... the first was held two years ago.)  I would love to go -- one of these years. Unfortunately, this year doesn`t look like it will be the one. :(  It`s the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend -- and also the weekend of a family wedding in Minnesota -- although I probably won`t be going to that either. Oh, for unlimited funds (and the ability to be in more than one place at the same time...!!)!! 
  • In her recent TedTalk (which I posted about here), Jody Day of Gateway Women described childless women as "the biggest diversity group HR hasn't heard of."  Most of us who belong to this group are quite aware that we're a minority (albeit a fast-growing, significant and under-recognized one) -- and the slurs against Heather Heyer (see above) are an extreme case in point of how childless women are discriminated against. 
  • Pamela at Silent Sorority is asking for our help with her new venture, ReproTech Truths, and a related social media campaign, #UnmaskingIVF.  #UnmaskingIVF aims "to help future generations understand the associated risks and costs... Our long-term goal is to push for greater procedural transparency and public health information so that women are well-informed about the full spectrum of outcomes and risks associated with IVF."  Have a look at the site, and consider sharing your own IVF story.   
  • A couple of bloggers have been featuring some excellent podcasts & video interviews on their blogs lately. Thank you, Cathy at Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs, and Catherine-Emmanuelle at Femme Sans Enfant.  (Catherine-Emmanuelle`s blog is written in French, but many of her interviews are conducted in English.)  

Monday, August 28, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Decisions, decisions...

Years ago, as a "team building" thing, my immediate coworkers & I had our personalities analzyed and categorized according to colour. People who are predominantly blue are supposed to be born leaders. They love taking charge and making decisions. Reds are analytical. Greens are pie-in-the-sky "wouldn't it be nice if" idealists. Their forte is ideas, more so than execution. I forget what yellows were. Knowing what colour we were, and the colours of our teammates, was supposed to make us a stronger team. (Ideally, you'll have a team that's a good balance of all the colours.)

My results showed that I am strongly red. My score on the "I enjoy making decisions" statement (a classic blue trait) was rock bottom. I can & will research all aspects of a subject until the cows come home (and love doing it) -- but actually biting the bullet, taking responsibility and making a choice is, quite often, pure agony for me. I will constantly wonder about the roads not taken, whether I did the right thing -- and, if things don't work out well, I'll be kicking myself over it for a long, long time to come. This is why I never became a manager, let alone CEO...!  (Knowing this, you can imagine how much fun infertility treatment was for me...!)

If I didn't know this about myself already, the past few weeks reconfirmed it. We're planning a little fall getaway with BIL & SIL, and (since I'm retired and have time on my hands & like to do research), I was tasked with looking into places to stay, eat, see, etc.  I've been to our destination before & know the general lay of the land and highlights -- but the last time I was there was well over 25 years ago! -- so I consulted the local tourism website and travel review sites like TripAdvisor,  as well as friends who live in the area or have visited there, etc.  I sent SIL an email with thumbnail sketches of all the major hotels, including ballpark prices and availability. I actually knew right away where I would choose to stay, if it was just me & dh -- but making decisions that involve other people is another matter entirely.

We went back & forth a few times, while the clock ticked and hotel rooms started filling up.  I finally called up SIL last night, outlined my "top three" hotel picks, my recommendation and the reasons why -- and thankfully, she agreed with me. Our rooms are now booked!

Now I just have to wait until we get there to find out whether I made the right call...!  :p  ;)

How do you feel about having to make decisions -- particularly when they affect other people? 

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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Isaac's Storm" by Erik Larson

As Texas battened down its hatches in anticipation of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey this weekend, I was reminded of a relevant book that's long been sitting in my "to be read" pile. The time seemed right to finally read "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" by Erik Larson, author of such other titles as "The Devil in the White City," "Dead Wake" and "In the Garden of Beasts" (all also in my TBR pile...!).  

"Isaac's Storm" tells the story of the hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas, on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 6,000 people. It's still considered the deadliest hurricane in American history.  The story is told through the eyes and experiences of some of the survivors -- in particular, Isaac Monroe Cline, head meteorologist for the fledgling U.S.Weather Bureau's Galveston office.

Weather forecasting was (and still is, to some extent) a highly inexact science, and of course, the meteorologists of Isaac's day did not enjoy the benefits we now take for granted.  Beyond the lack of modern technology and knowledge about how hurricanes are formed and behave, a number of other factors contributed to the disaster.

For example, the Weather Bureau was engaged in an ongoing feud with its colonial counterparts in Cuba, and thus ignored critical information from the Cubans that might have ultimately saved lives in Texas. (Many people -- including Isaac Cline, who had infinite faith and pride in his own understanding of the weather -- believed that no storm could do serious damage to Galveston.)  Use of the words "hurricane" and "tornado" were discouraged by the bureau (they might frighten people unnecessarily), and only headquarters in Washington was allowed to issue an official storm warning. The bureau's September 8 forecast for Galveston was "fair;  fresh, possibly brisk, northerly winds."  As a result, the storm and its severity came as a complete surprise for the vast majority of Galveston's citizens.  Cline later claimed he had personally saved up to 6,000 lives by warning the crowds of people watching the unusual wave activity on the beach to seek shelter -- although there is no corroborating evidence of this.

I came prepared to like this book, and I plowed through its 273 pages of text (plus notes, bibliography & index) in just three days (started on Friday, finished on Sunday).  I've long enjoyed popular history, and have been fascinated with disaster/survival stories since I was a kid -- and Larson's account of the storm and its aftermath makes for a gripping read. While I've never been through a hurricane (and have no desire to encounter one...!), growing up on the Canadian Prairies means I have more than a passing acquaintance with extreme weather (tornados, hailstorms, ice storms, blizzards...). Moreover, I was born on the banks of the Red River of the North, where both sides of my family have lived (on both sides of the U.S./Canada border) since the late 1800s and endured one devastating flood after another. (The riverside house that was my first home no longer exists -- it was torn down after the flood of 1966 to accommodate the construction of a ring dike that has saved the town many times in the years since then.)
 
I gave the book four out of five stars on Goodreads -- but would really rate it about 3.5 (any Goodreads users know how to assign half-star ratings??). I'd give it a half-star less for several reasons:

  • First, while the story of the storm itself kept me turning pages, wading through the earlier material that set the scene & introduced the main characters was not quite as exciting. 
  • Second, I was slightly annoyed that there were several references made to photos of various characters and places (not to mention the aftermath of the storm) -- but aside from the cover photo of Isaac Cline in his later years, there are no photos included in the book. I suppose there were copyright issues, etc., that prevented their use, but nevertheless, it was disappointing. (I've had a look at some of the photos available online, and they are dramatic.) 
  • Finally, Larson admits that, due to the lack of primary documents available -- everything Isaac owned up to 1900, including letters, photos and manuscripts, was destroyed in the hurricane -- he used "detective work and deduction" to flesh out the story of what Isaac Cline might have seen, heard, smelled and experienced.  For example, in the notes, we find items such as these: 
    • 7.  On Sundays: "Isaac never actually says he and his family visited Murdoch's and the Pagoda [bath houses] on Sundays, but given their proximity to his house, the communal character of the time -- and the absence of television -- it is all but certain that the Clines did so."  (The Beach: September 8, 1900) 
    • 13. On Friday, September 7, Isaac had read:  "In no document does Isaac Cline actually say he read the census report in the Galveston News, but it was the biggest local news story of the day. Isaac most certainly read it. (ditto above) 
    • 247. Isaac could not help it: Isaac never directly states that he should have taken his family to the Levy Building early on, but how could any man in a similar position avoid such thoughts? (Galveston: "Not Dead") 

Such "detective work and deduction" does make for a better story -- but these passages are more speculation than actual historic fact.  

Despite these reservations, I enjoyed "Isaac's Storm" and thought it was a good read overall.  It's also a cautionary tale. While weather forecasting is still an inexact science, and we roll our eyes when predictions of severe weather ("Snowmaggedon!!") don't pan out, stories such as "Isaac's Storm" remind us of why it's unwise to underestimate or ignore Mother Nature. My own philosophy is that it's better to be safe than sorry.  Take weather warnings seriously, be prepared and stay safe!  :)  

This was book #13 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 54% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am currently 2 books behind schedule to meet my goal. :p  ;)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Dark Money" by Jane Mayer

After reading "All the President's Men," I was still feeling in a political mood, so I decided to tackle a book that's been in my TBR (to be read) pile for a while now:  "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" by Jane Mayer.

As I said in an earlier post, while I was still reading the book:
"it is extremely well-researched and well-written. It's also infuriating, terrifying and downright depressing. But don't let that deter you from reading it. This is a book that NEEDS to be read. RIGHT NOW."   
The paperback version I was reading includes a new preface that discusses the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. Despite Donald Trump's populist schtick and lone wolf/beholden-to-nobody appeal, the overall results were a huge victory for the multi-billionaires who have been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into influencing the last several elections (at all levels of government), as well as the policies those governments pursue -- policies which, of course, benefit them and their interests.

Mayer delves into the history of the key players behind the "dark money" that's been pouring into the system: the Koch brothers, the DeVos family (yet, THAT DeVos family!), the Bradleys, Richard Mellon Scaife, John Olin, Art Pope and others. She shows in detail how they have spent the past 30+ years pooling their money to systematically build an interlocking network of think tanks, academic institutions, media groups, courthouses and government allies that has fundamentally altered the American political system, overshadowed the official Republican Party, and undermined American democracy.

In particular, she shows how these billionaires have taken advantage of tax loopholes to fund their pet causes through donations to their own private foundations, and to nonprofit organizations that -- on the surface -- appear to be populist and grassroots-driven, with names such as Americans for Prosperity, Citizens for a Sound Economy and Center for Patients' Rights. In reality, most of these groups were manufactured and funded by corporate interests -- "astroturf" organizations, as opposed to truly organic grassroots movements.

"Astroturf" organizations exploded after the election of Barack Obama, and even more so with the ruling on the Citizens United case by the Supreme Court, which removed limits on corporate campaign funding and made it much easier for donations to be made anonymously. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to identify where the hundreds of million of dollars flowing through the system are coming from.

There are dozens of revealing anecdotes (sample quote from Charles Koch: "I just want my fair share -- which is all of it"), including some unsettling personal stories from people who have challenged the billionaires -- or just gotten in their way. This includes Mayer herself. After The New Yorker published a story she wrote about the Kochs, she discovered a private investigator had been poking into her personal life. When they found nothing unsavoury there, Mayer was accused of plagiarism (charges that she quickly disproved, with full support from the writers she was accused of plagiarizing).

There is so, so much more to be said about this book, but I hardly know where to begin.

I consider myself fairly well read & informed about politics, in the United States as well as Canada. I had heard about many of these people before. I knew they were using their wealth and influence to try to sway public opinion and votes toward the causes they favoured.

But I didn't know the half of it. Reading this book is an eye-opener. The scope and impact of what the Kochs and their allies have achieved over the past few decades is truly stunning. And frightening.

To summarize:  this is a very important book, and the kind of book that we (a) need more of, and (b) need to read, NOW.

It may already be too late. (I hope not.)

This was book #12 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 50% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am currently 3 books behind schedule to meet my goal. :p  ;)  

Monday, August 21, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: A few annoying things

(An occasional series, inspired by Mali!)
  • One rainy day after another, over the summer generally, and recently. :p  Enough, already!! 
  • Standing in a long lineup for one of the two cashiers open at the local mega-bookstore, while the rest of the staff stood nearby, oohing & ahhhing over the adorable baby that a former coworker had brought in for them all to admire... and then, when I finally reached the front of the line, the mom brought the baby over to the open cashier for HER to admire -- thus making me wait even longer to pay for my book & leave. :p  (I will admit I smiled at the baby, because he WAS cute, but it was still annoying...!)
  • Back to school photos on social media -- ALREADY!! They began coming from my friends & family members in the States directly after the August long weekend (and Katie's birthday) this year -- way, WAY too early, IMHO...!!  And I expect they will continue through mid-September. Most schools here don't start until after the September Labour Day long weekend. 
  • The glass walls/door of the shower cubicle in our ensuite bathroom. Looks fabulous, but a b*tch to clean...!  :p  (Which is why I procrastinate endlessly over doing it, lol.)
  • Rabidly pro-Trump posts on my social media feeds from some of my American relatives. :p 
  • The fact that summer is almost over, when I feel like it's just barely started...   :( 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Out of the closet: Postscript

Scrolling back through some recent posts, I came across my review of "All the President's Men," where I noted:
It all climaxed on the night of August 8, 1974, when President Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon announced his resignation, in the face of almost certain impeachment... The next day, we left on a road trip to visit my uncle in Minneapolis, and everywhere we stopped along the way, the newspapers had huge headlines, the likes of which I had maybe only ever seen once before (when the astronauts landed on the moon), "President resigns."  I still have a copy, somewhere in the depths of my parents' basement.
It wasn't in the basement... it was in the closet of my old bedroom. ;)



(And now it's in a recycling bin.)  ;)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Out of the closet

During my recent visit with my parents, I helped my mother clean out a closet. Not just any closet, though -- MY closet, in the room that was once, briefly, my room, in the year between when my parents moved to this town & house and I finished graduate/journalism school, and when I got married, some 33 years ago now. (My sister usually stays there now, when all of us are home.)  It wasn't ALL my stuff in there, of course -- my mother had added & subtracted items in the years since then, and I hadn't really looked at anything in it in a good 30 years -- but I knew what was there.

Sort of. I thought.

What I thought would be there: a brown cardboard carton, containing my childhood/teenaged journals, which I was really hoping to find and take home with me. For whatever reason, it wasn't there. (Perhaps it's been moved to some dark corner of the basement crawl space...??).

But I did find lots of other stuff -- some I remembered, some I didn't.

Among the items I found:
  • all my old childhood/teenaged scrapbooks, from which I plucked a few special theatre programs and newspaper clippings to save for posterity. 
  • a box full of complete issues and clippings from the weekly newspaper I worked on as a reporter, in the year before I got married. I tossed the full issues and kept the clippings for my portfolio. I don't think I'll be returning to work anytime soon, if ever, but just in case... 
  • cards -- Christmas, birthday, Valentine -- mostly from my university years, from friends, dorm floormates, aunts & uncles, grandparents, even my sister (!!). 
  • a huge box stuffed full of letters from friends and penpals. I think I kept every one I ever got. Oh my gosh, people, we used to WRITE LETTERS. Long, fat, letters, written BY HAND... my ones to my penpal in New Zealand (who sometimes comments here) sometimes ran as long as 100 pages or more, as were hers to me. I shredded some and threw out most of the rest, but kept a few.   
    • Among the letters were a surprising number (more than I remembered) from boys: old boy friends and boyfriends/love interests, including friends/band buddies I hung out with at school (lost touch with most of them; miss them & wonder what they're up to now??);  the first boy who kissed me, when I was 15 (I Googled him and he now has a fairly high-ranking job with the United Nations...!), my Grade 12 Ottawa trip crush from British Columbia (who wrote to me through my first year of university before our correspondence fizzled out), and my pre-dh boyfriend (who wound up marrying my next-door residence neighbour from that time :p and, I think, now resides in B.C. ).  
Most of the paper stuff (and there was a LOT of paper...) went into the recycling bin. Well, pile. (Well, pileS, plural.)  There was way too much to fit into the bin for the weekly recycling pickup, so we had to load everything into my dad's car, drive it to the local recycling depot and unload it there. It was hard to get rid of so much of my past -- especially all the letters -- but (as with our move to the condo last year) I knew it had to be done. My parents may be downsizing themselves, sooner than later, and won't have room to keep all this stuff for us anymore. Heck, *I* don't have the room to keep all this stuff anymore either. And I don't have any kids of my own to eventually unload it on either. Not that they would have been interested in it...

So I took a fond last look through things (yes, I hadn't looked at it in 30 years, but I still knew it was there, you know??), took a few photos of some of the more amusing/special items, gritted my teeth -- and then out it went. I whittled everything down to two smallish boxes (think the size of a large Christmas gift box from the Gap) & a bag of letters. It was too much/too heavy to take everything home on the plane with us this time (besides, my minimalist dh would have had a fit...!) so I took a few things home with me now and will bring a few more home with me at Christmastime.  Beyond my own things, I helped my mother go through the stuff that was hers (toss/donate/garage sale). The stuff we went through was previous crammed onto two shelves above the clothes on the rod;  we cleared out the top shelf entirely and you can actually see bare space on the bottom shelf now. ;)

Box of old letters, sitting on top of carton of old newspapers & clippings.
It's partly empty in this photo, but was packed full when I opened it.
These all got sent to the recycling depot. 

All this paper -- newspapers, scrapbooks, old cards & letters
(plus the empty boxes they were stored in)-- went to the recycling depot. 

The stuff on the left is all that remained after the purge.
(The stuff on the right either got put inside one of these boxes, or thrown out too.)
I took the pile of letters and some items from the two boxes home with me.
The rest went back into the closet to be retrieved at a future date (when I have more luggage capacity).
*** *** ***

There was one particular box I held off opening until near the end, because I knew (more or less) what it contained. First of all, if you have no idea who the Bay City Rollers were...don't tell me, I don't want to know, lol. (I feel old enough already!!)  They were not the "new Beatles" (as some optimistically proclaimed them -- although they inspired similar hysteria to the early Fab Four) -- but I would certainly say they were the Backstreet Boys/New Kids on the Block/'NSync/One Direction/(you get the idea) of their day -- which was MY day, when I was in my mid-teens in the mid/late-1970s.

I distinctly remember packing my "Roller gear"/paraphernalia away in that box, & thinking that someday, I would have a teenaged daughter who was equally crazy about some boy band and who would tearfully accuse me (as I once accused my own mother) that I JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND how she felt. And voila!!  I would produce The Box, and show her that, oh yes, I most certainly did. :)

It was a fun fantasy while it lasted...

Although I tossed the majority of the box's contents, I still wound up keeping:
  • a fan fiction story (although the term didn't exist back then) that I wrote (in longhand, having not yet learned to type and word processors not invented yet). (I haven't re-read it -- yet?? -- and I'm sure it's embarrassing as hell -- but I can't bear the idea of shredding it yet either...)
  • a huge, rather risque (especially for a teenaged girl in 1978!) fold-out poster that once hung over my bed, sent to me by a British penpal (believe me, we didn't see this kind of stuff in the pages of Tiger Beat or 16 Magazine back then, lol), of my favourite Roller (Woody, the bass player, who usually wore yellow Macleod tartan and was barely out of his teens himself), wearing nothing but a smile and a very long, strategically placed tartan scarf. ;)  (Similar to this one -- but mine was b&w.) 
  • the stub of my BCR concert ticket -- the very first concert I ever attended, at the Winnipeg Arena on August 15, 1976 -- exactly 41 years ago today!! (15th row on the floor, $6.50) -- framed on a tartan background, along with a half-inch snippet of Woody's shoelace, which a Roller friend had clawed from his running shoe while he stood onstage. :)  The frame sat on my dresser beside my bed, along with a favourite framed photo of Woody, during the years of my Rollermania.   
  • two favourite buttons -- one bought and one homemade (scotch-tape a favourite photo over an existing button & then cover it with tightly stretched plastic wrap for that glossy finish, & scotch tape THAT on the back...). (I had an entire container full of buttons, a small tartan-patterned cookie tin that had once contained shortbread... I think it came from Marks & Spencer, when we had M&S stores in Canada...)
  • and my Roller jeans (which I wore to the concert) -- a pair of jeans with the cuffs rolled up, mid-calf, trimmed down the sides and on the cuffs with Woody's favourite yellow Macleod tartan. I actually tossed them into the garbage bag at first -- but then I talked to my usually unsentimental sister who said, "Oh, I saved mine. No way I was throwing them out -- I HANDSEWED that stuff on!!"  I promptly went out to the garage, opened the garbage bag, & fished mine out, lol.  Not only did I also handsew on all that trim too, I made a pocket patch out of a scrap of material that I embroidered with a heart & Woody's name.)  
"The Box," opened for the first time in 30+ years! 

View of the side trim & personalized pocket patch,
all hand stitched by yours truly. 

Framed concert ticket stub & treasured snippet of shoelace. ;)   
Writing this post has made me nostalgic. So now, for your viewing/listening pleasure/amusement ;) here they are, direct from the Seventies, a couple of songs (not necessarily their biggest hits or best-known, but the ones I thought were most apropos for this post) from... (you guessed it)...





(Previous posts about cleaning out my parents' crawl space in the summer of 2009, here and here.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: "You really need a daughter..."

Yesterday, SIL & I joined the female cousins/cousins' wives on his mom's side of the family (our travel companions to New York City four years ago)(FOUR YEARS AGO??!!) for brunch at a (relatively) new bakery cafe, about a 20-minute drive from where we live. It's located in an old house that has been completely overhauled by some wealthy investors into an exquisitely, elegantly decorated little gem that would not be out of place in New York City or perhaps even Paris. No detail has been overlooked. More importantly, perhaps (especially for some), the food is entirely gluten/nut/dairy/preservative free, etc., a welcome treat for several members of our family who have celiac issues and other allergies. Aside from my weird allergy to tomatos, I am fortunately not affected by these issues, but the food was nevertheless pretty good too. We started with something savoury, followed by a sweet treat, along with coffee & tea, and many of our group left with boxes of goodies to take home to their families.

The cousin who organized the gathering brought along her 14-year-old daughter and a friend, who declined to join us in the private room we'd booked, preferring to sit by themselves in the general dining room (although not opposed, of course, to having Mom foot their bill, lol).  I was the only childless adult woman there (as I almost always am in these situations). Several of the women with daughters commented that this would be the perfect place for a mother-daughter outing, and the women with only sons nodded, agreeing that "You really need a daughter to bring to places like this." Or maybe, eventually, a daughter-in-law.

19 years ago, a comment like that would have sent me running for the privacy of the washroom, fighting back tears. I guess I've developed the hide of a rhinoceros when it comes to these things. because I barely flinched. Internally, I still winced, of course.  I was relieved when the conversation moved on to a different subject.

But yes. It would have been nice.






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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Current

(An occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "Right Now.") 

Current Book(s) -- On the last 100 pages of "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer (review to come), and trying to decide what to read next. I have a lot of similar political-related books in my To Be Read pile -- but I think maybe something lighter and less depressing would be a good idea, lol.  ;)  

Current Playlist -- While I was visiting my parents, my sister gave me a memory stick/thumb drive/whatever you want to call it, containing part of her vast mp3 collection, acquired during the days of Napster. The files included songs from all the big Canadian rock bands of our day, as well as other bands that were in our childhood/teenaged vinyl collection. I've owned music on vinyl, cassette and, most recently, CDs, but this was my first foray into digital music (yes, I'm a dinosaur...!).  Her techno-wizard boyfriend showed me how to load the files from my laptop to my cellphone for my portable listening pleasure. I have a lot of apps and (especially) photos on my phone, so there's not a lot of room for music -- I can only load a certain number of files at a time, and will have to rotate files in & out. I've never really been in the habit of carrying my music with me anyway -- Walkmans didn't come into being until I was in university. (I;m really dating myself here, aren't I??)  But it's nice to have some of these songs back again. :)  I gave my vinyl collection to Oldest Nephew before we moved, and I don't own all of the same titles on CD, so this will help to fill some of those gaps. 

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure -- Cheap T-shirts at Old Navy. I already have a closet full of T-shirts, but I can't seem to leave the store without a bag. (I wear holes into them almost as fast as I buy them... :p ) 

Current Color -- Aqua/turquoise, and coral red/pink -- it's summer! (And I usually do well with jewel tones.)  ;) 

Current Drink -- Surprisingly fewer iced beverages than usual this summer -- but then, it's been cooler & rain-ier outside, too. So, I continue to order my favourite tea lattes (tall non-fat Royal English Breakfast) at Starbucks. :) 

Current Food -- We're back at home, so we're back eating lots of dh's favourite beans & lentils. Missing the new potatos and yellow wax beans, fresh from my dad's garden! (There is a farmer's market nearby, but it's on Saturday mornings, and we usually don't get out of the house that early on weekends.)  

Current Favorite Show -- I don't really have one at the moment. Waiting for the new fall shows to start, or old favourites to return! (Obviously, I need to get back to Netflix, lol.) 

Current Wishlist -- Still haven't put up the rest of our artwork/framed photos -- erk!  (Although I did find a couple of collage frames on sale at Michaels a few weeks ago.)  I am thinking of asking Santa to bring me a new Kobo e-reader for Christmas -- the one is have is not one of the originals, but close to it...! (probably about 7 years old).  Still works fine, but it would be nice to have something with a few more bells & whistles. Plus -- tickets to "Springsteen on Broadway" would be nice. ;) Would love to see Bruce again, and it would be a great excuse to see NYC again, this time with dh, who has never been there... 

Current Needs -- Still need to get new window coverings for the living room/main living area windows. And I need a new cutting board for the kitchen. In the grand scheme of things, that's pretty good "needs." huh? (First world problems, etc...)  

Current Triumphs -- Getting rid of a ton of stuff that had been sitting in a closet at my parents' house for 30+ years... no small victory for a self-confessed packrat!  

Current Bane of my Existence -- The endless construction on the highway/main road that runs directly in front of our condo building. :p They are widening the road to accommodate a new dedicated rapid bus transit lane, which (when built) will hook up with the new subway line that's due to open at the end of this year. I'm sure it will be great when it's all done, but for now...!  Traffic here is already a nightmare, and this doesn't help. :p  

Current Celebrity Crush -- Mourning the loss of one of my favourites, Sam Shepard. :(  Adored him in movies like "The Right Stuff" and "Baby Boom" (although the plot of that movie WAS ridiculous...). 

Current Indulgence -- Besides Old Navy T-shirts?  ;)  Sleeping in. Because I can!  lol  ;)  

Current #1 Blessing -- Air conditioning!!  (It's generally been a cooler & rain-ier summer -- but when it's hot, it's hot, lol!).   

Current Slang or Saying -- Hmmm, not sure I have one. 

Current Outfit -- Around the hoiuse: denim shorts from Reitmans and Old Navy T-shirt or tank top. When we go out: denim capris (also from Reitmans) and a dressier T-shirt -- probably from the Gap or Lucky Brand. 

Current Excitement -- Busy weekend ahead! -- barbecue on Saturday;  get-together with dh's girl cousins (the ones I went to New York with a few years ago) for Sunday brunch. And I'm planning a little road trip for dh & me, BIL & SIL for the early fall. :)  

Current Mood -- Disbelief that it is already mid-August. Some of my friends & relatives in the States are ALREADY posting back-to-school photos of their kids!!  Where has the summer gone??