Monday, May 23, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Motown moment :)

I often find myself mouthing the words to the music that's playing in the background as I'm shopping. Last week, I was in a bookstore & found myself not only vigorously lipsynching along with Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), but having to restrain myself from dancing in the aisles. ;) 

Then I realized someone behind me actually WAS singing along. I'm not even sure she realized she was doing it. I stifled a giggle as I envisioned the whole store breaking out in song & dance, like an episode of "Glee" or a movie musical. ;)

Later in the week, I was in another outlet of the same store, quietly boogie-ing down among the stacks to Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything is Alright)."

Ah, the power of Motown. ;) 

Please tell me that I'm not the only one who finds herself singing in public (or desperately stifling the urge to??) (And does anyone else think Marvin Gaye was damned sexy??)

(P.S. While I try to restrain myself in public, I DO sing along to the radio in the car. And sometimes in the shower.) 

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Right now...

Right now... (an occasional meme): 

Reading:  "All the Single Ladies" by Rebecca Traister. (Yes, I was reading this the LAST time I wrote a "Right now" post, lol. But I did finish a few other books in the meantime.)

Watching:  The suppertime news on TV.

Listening:  To the rattle and hum of construction equipment. (Which brings me to the next subject:)

Following:  Progress on the construction of a new luxury townhouse development behind our condo building. It's sometimes noisy around here during the day (especially with the windows open), but it's been interesting to watch things progress. I've been taking photos & posting them in a separate album on Facebook. Not sure anyone else finds it as interesting as we do, but, whatever. ;)

Drinking:  Water. Lots of water. Trying to maintain a good intake. The new condo is quite dry -- we've only been able to crack 40% on the hygrometer once or twice, and it's been as low as 23%. We've bought a humidifier, but it's pretty noisy :p so I try not to put it on unless I have to. Of course, it's likely the summer weather will soon be so humid we will be using the air conditioner to DEhumidify things. ;)

Eating:  For dinner tonight: oven-baked pork chops, baked potato & broccoli.

Wearing:  Still in my retirement uniform of yoga pants & T-shirt, lol.

Anticipating:  The upcoming Victoria Day long weekend (although every weekend is a long weekend when you're retired...!), and getting into my capris & sandals, very soon!!

Contemplating:  Whether I want to paint, before or after we get our new furniture (now on order), and what colour(s)? 

(Dh & BIL think we should paint before the new furniture arrives;  I appreciate there would be less stuff to move around & cover up, but I also like the idea of waiting & picking colours that actually go with the furniture. ;)  The main living space is currently a very pale shade of blue;  I kind of like how light & airy it makes the place look and how well it sets off the black & white & stainless steel of the kitchen, as well as the laminate wood floors -- but I'm thinking we should go just a shade or two deeper and possibly a little more grey than blue. Our house was mostly painted in warm shades for the entire time we lived there, so I'm thinking something a bit more cool toned would be a fun change. What do you think?) 

Wishing: Aunt Flo would just begone from my life, already. :p  

Coughing:  I went for the last few years at work with hardly any sick days (& most of those Aunt Flo-related  :p ). I'm currently on cold #4 since Christmastime and definitely #3 since we put our house up for sale in March.  (I'm thinking stress may be playing a role here, as well as seasonal allergies). Bah, humbug. :p

Loving:  Our new condo (if not the horrible traffic hereabouts...!). 

Monday, May 16, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Reminders I don't need...

...about the life that might have been mine (and my daughter's):
  • An online friend in the U.S. just posted a photo from her son's high school graduation (boy, you finish school early there... grad here won't be until late June!).
  • Dh's cousin's son -- just a few weeks older than our Katie would have been -- announced on Facebook last week that he's been accepted to a prestigious Canadian university. 
  • Another cousin's son, also set to graduate high school this year, is being scouted by U.S. colleges for a sports scholarship.  
  • Malia Obama -- whom I only recently realized is the same age Katie would have been -- made headlines when her decision to attend Harvard was announced recently.
  • Even one of my favourite cartoon strips -- Between Friends -- is featuring the angst of parents Harv and (especially) Susan over their daughter Emma's forthcoming graduation -- and her determination to attend an out-of-province school this fall.
    • It doesn't seem that long ago that Susan & Harv, like me & dh, were going through infertility.
    • Emma was adopted. It was a closed adoption, but I remember an interesting series of strips where Susan encounters the birth mom, who was watching her & Emma in the park. The adoption hasn't been brought up in the strip in many years, though.
  • Glad to be away from the two high schools that Katie might have attended, and their front-lawn signs that announced every event she would have been involved with -- including prom and graduation this year. (Also glad that there aren't any high schools near our new condo to remind me either.)
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.       

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Odds & ends

  • This weekend, we did something we hadn't done in a LONG time (pre-real estate madness). We went to see a movie:  Captain America: Civil War.
    • This was only the sixth movie we've seen so far this year. We're slipping!! 
    • Best part of the movie  (mild spoiler alert):  when Cap kissed a girl -- and the little boy in front of us voiced his displeasure with a loud "SERIOUSLY??!"  Dh & I both cracked up. I still laugh when I think about it. ;)
  • On another Captain America-related note, Agent Carter, one of my favourite mindless fun TV shows from last season, was cancelled. Boo, hiss. :( 
  • This weekend, I (also) spent an afternoon with a half-dozen fellow loss moms, online friends who were in town for their annual meetup. The topic of pregnancy loss rarely came up in the four hours we spent together (and when it did, it was in a mostly peripheral way), but there's an instant comfort level that comes from being with your tribe, isn't there??  :)  
  • We are enjoying some amazing sunsets from the balcony of our new condo. For example: 

  • The same amazing people who pushed Bill 141 into law here in Ontario just before last Christmas have now coordinated an all-day summit on pregnancy loss at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto tomorrow. The conference is full (and I was sadly unable to attend anyway), but the good news is it will be live streamed!  so I'm hoping to catch at least some of it. :) Details will be forthcoming on the Bill 141 Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Recent reading

"Clapton: The Autobiography" by classic rock guitar hero Eric Clapton was one of those books that I started a long time ago, put down to read something else, and then came back to in increments. I finally finished it just before our big move. Dh is a big Clapton fan, particularly of his more recent blues stuff (the "Mr. Johnson & Me" album, for example), and of course he's been a part of the soundtrack of my life, from the Yardbirds through Cream, Derek and the Dominos and his solo stuff. I'd also read the memoir written by his ex-wife, Pattie Boyd (also his best friend George Harrison's ex-wife -- therein lies a tale...!), which I reviewed here, and was interested to see how the two stories compared.

Clapton has a intriguing personal story -- and what do you know, he's half-Canadian. :)  His birth father was a Canadian soldier who impregnated his mother, Patricia, when she was a teenager during the Second World War. Clapton grew up thinking of Pat as his older sister and his grandparents as his parents. He discovered the truth when he was a boy and it obviously had a profound impact on his relationships with women throughout his adult life.

Reading about Clapton's adventures as a fledgling musician in London in the early 1960s was fun. Slogging through the stories about his eventual addictions -- first to heroin and then to alcohol -- not so much. Fortunately, his second attempt at rehab was successful, and he has helped many other addicts regain sobriety through his Crossroads treatment centre in Antigua, which he has funded through the occasional sales of his guitar collection and other memorabilia.

As many bereaved parents know, Eric Clapton is "one of us" -- the horrific loss of his toddler son, Conor, in 1991 inspired the hit ballad "Tears in Heaven," and he writes starkly and movingly about his grief over the little boy's death. A relapse might have been understandable, but he vowed to live a life that was worthy of his son, and has remained sober for well over 20 years.

In recent years, Clapton has found redemption in his marriage to a much-younger woman, with whom he has three daughters (now teenagers). He ends the book on a note of profound appreciation for the life he now lives.

Overall, the tone is a bit dry and matter of fact, but I appreciated Clapton's honesty and sense of humour. 

*** *** ***

Anyone who knows me knows about my lifelong fascination with the Kennedy family, and it's been great in recent years to see the Kennedy women getting a share of the spotlight. Just before Christmas, I read & reviewed a new book about one of the lesser-known Kennedys, oldest daughter/sister Rosemary.  And over the past few weeks, I tackled "Kick Kennedy:  The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favourite Kennedy Daughter" by Barbara Leaming.  

I read an earlier biography of Kick from the library some years ago, called "Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times" by Lynne McTaggart (which I remember as very good -- alas, it is sadly out of print now), as well as other books about the Kennedys, so I was familiar with the story of Kathleen, or Kick, as she was known to family members & friends. This new book skips over Kick's childhood entirely: it begins with her arrival in London in 1938, when her father was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, and focuses on her life in England. 

Kick, then 18 and full of the Kennedy charm, was an instant hit among her peers in the aristocracy, who were fascinated by how different she was, and she enjoyed an active social life. (Leaming interviewed many of Kick's friends and in-laws -- just in time, as many have since passed away -- and was privy to some previously unknown details and insights.) After making her debut and being presented at court before the King and Queen with her mother and sister Rosemary, Kick quickly attracted the attention of many suitors, but soon fell in love with Billy Hartington, the oldest son & heir of the Duke of Devonshire, and a member of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Britain. The Devonshires, however, were staunch members and leaders of the Anglican Church;  the Kennedys, of course, prided themselves on the image they presented as a model Catholic family. Neither family encouraged the romance. 

With the coming of the Second World War, Joe Kennedy sent his family back to America. Kick spent the next several years writing to Billy and searching for a way to return to England. When she finally did return in 1943, as a Red Cross worker, she & Billy realized they still loved each other. Dazzled by the prospect of becoming a duchess and the political and social role she could play, as well as by love, Kick finally agreed to raise her children as Anglicans, and the couple was married at a registry office in May 1944, in the presence of Billy's family, who had also grown to love her. The lone Kennedy family member to attend was Kick's older brother, Joe Jr.  Sadly, both Joe Jr. and Billy were killed in action just a few short months later.

I could relate to Kick's grief over her loss and the sudden turn of events that changed her life. She had many so many drastic changes and sacrifices in her life already in order to marry Billy;  now she would have to rethink her role and identity all over again. I could also relate to the pressure she felt to produce an heir in the short time she & Billy had together. After his death, she had to endure the stares & whispers of the locals who wondered whether she was pregnant (when she already knew that she was not). Ugh!!

Sadly, Kick's life also ended in tragedy a few short years later. I did find the last chapter of the book, detailing the final year or so of her life, a bit rushed. Many details I've read elsewhere are curiously missing here:  for example, the fact that her mother (who had threatened to disown her when she announced her plans to marry yet another aristocrat -- this one not yet divorced, with a reputation for womanizing) sent cards to friends asking for prayers for Kick's soul (indicating her belief that Kick was paying for her sins by languishing in purgatory); the Kennedy family's general silence thereafter on the subject of their daughter and sister; or the poignant epitaph on her gravestone in the Devonshire family plot, chosen for her by her mother-in-law, the Duchess:  "Joy she gave; joy she has found."

I found Kick to be a fascinating woman -- someone who defied her family and her church to marry the man she loved, who was attracted to the idea of playing a public role in the life of her community (there were hints that she was potentially just as gifted a politician as her brothers), who wasn't satisfied just being a "Kennedy girl" and was willing to risk everything she held dear -- her family, her faith and her spiritual salvation -- to explore and carve out a meaningful, independent life for herself.

Incidentally, Kick's sister-in-law, Deborah (Debo, nee Mitford -- one of THE infamous Mitford sisters), who DID become Duchess of Devonshire, suffered several pregnancy losses, and wrote about them in her memoir, "Wait For Me!" It's in my to-read pile;  perhaps I need to move that one up closer to the top. ;) 

These were books #6 & #7 that I've read to date in 2016.

Monday, May 9, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: THAT day (again) :p

Some years, Voldemort Day (That Day Which Shall Not Be Named) sucks more (or less) than others.

This was one of those years that it sucked. Big time. Although by the end of the day, I had worked through most of my angst & was feeling better. I chose to hide out at home all day with my laptop, catching up on my blog reading & commenting, trying to ignore all the happy/#blessed posts on Facebook, and playing solitaire on my cool new toy (errrr, smartphone).

Hope the day was kind to all of you, whatever frame of mind you found yourselves in.

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

New home odds & ends

  • It's one week ago today that we left our house for the last time and took possession of our new condo.
  • It's been a looooonnnnngggggg week, lol.  
  • Both dh & I agree that we feel like we're staying in a really nice hotel (albeit one we have to clean and organize, lol).  It's hasn't quite sunk in yet that this is really our home and our life now.  
  • What we are loving: 
    • Being close to BIL & family. He and dh are both ecstatic at the proximity.
    • Hearing from people I haven't heard from in quite a while, after announcing our new location via Facebook & email earlier this week. It didn't take long for the congratulatory messages to start rolling in. 
    • Having some good news that we can celebrate (finally!!) with our families and friends. I feel like a lot of people have been waiting a long time for SOMETHING they could celebrate with us. After all, many of dh's relatives never came to our wedding (almost 32 years ago) because of the distance, our daughter was stillborn before my baby shower was held (almost 18 years ago), and there never was a "next time."  And it's been 26 years since we bought our first home. 
    • My gorgeous kitchen with the quartz countertop, coordinating backsplash, tall cupboards & stainless steel appliances (which I am gradually figuring out how to use -- no thanks to the previous owners who didn't leave any appliance manuals. :p  I've found all but the dishwasher online).
    • Having convenient access to two bathrooms. :)  (We had two bathrooms at the house, but one was in the basement & it was pretty cold down there.)  It wasn't a "must have" on our condo shopping list -- really, how many bathrooms do two people REALLY need? -- but we are glad it worked out this way. ;)  
    • Everyone in the building seems to be very friendly -- lots of hellos in the elevator. Mostly they seem to be young & single or older and retired. Dh met our next-door neighbour, and we met the couple who bought the corner unit kitty-corner from ours (which we also saw). They haven't moved in yet, though.
    • The building has been relatively quiet, perhaps even quieter than our house was. We hear the odd dog yapping as its owner takes it to the elevator, but it's brief, and it's rarely past 11 p.m. (unlike our old neighbourhood, where the daily chorus would begin at around 5:30 a.m., peak in the late afternoon, and finish with a flourish just as our heads were hitting the pillows at night :p ).  The odd plane overhead, or emergency vehicle sirens, but that's been about it. We don't really hear anything from the main road on the other side of the building. Knocking wood that this continues!
    • Sleeping!  Both of us have been sleeping better than we have in a long time.    
    • The convenience of the garbage chute down the hall (at the other end from us, fortunately, lol). No waiting for garbage day (& worrying about the squirrels & raccoons getting into the garbage before it's picked up) -- it's there whenever we need it.
    • The abundance of natural light. We face north, with floor to ceiling windows in every room (& window coverings in the master bedroom only, so far), so we still get a lot of light, without being directly in the sun. And...
    • We've been seeing some lovely sunsets from our balcony. :)
    • Shopping for new stuff. :)  (Even if it's expensive and tiring.)  It's nice to have some shiny new things. :)  Among this week's purchases: a new vacuum cleaner (we had a central vac at the house), humidifier, two folding chairs & a small table for the balcony, two bar stools for the counter (on order), and some extra towel racks for the bathroom (the racks in both bathrooms only fit one bath towel each??!). We were even able to find racks that match the ones already there. :)  And we are going to be looking for new dining room furniture and a new TV stand/entertainment unit.  
  • What we're not loving:
    • The cleaning. :p We would be cleaning regardless, of course, but the previous owners didn't exactly leave the place spotless. :p
    • Trying to find space for everything (&/or deciding what's going to have to go). :p  We have a lot of closet space here (probably the most we saw in all the condos we viewed), plus a storage locker, but everything is already pretty much full :p and we still have some boxes piled up in the spare bedroom/office.  
    • Having to figure out all the new TV channels with our new service provider, and learning which channels we do and don't get with the new package. (On the other hand, the picture quality is superb!!) 
    • Dealing with too many changes all at once. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest idea to tackle early retirement, buying a condo and selling our house, moving to a new community, new mattress set, new smartphones, new TV service -- all within a three-month time frame??! 
    • Starting off life here by getting sick. Sore throat, stuffy head, probably a bit of allergies (all that dust left by the previous owners, plus the dust we created by opening boxes, etc.). I think I was just plain exhausted after all the activity and all the STRESS of the past few days/weeks/months. Plus Aunt Flo decided to drop by on moving day, just to keep things even more interesting than they already were. :p I am feeling a bit more human today, though. Warm saltwater gargles and a good nap can work wonders, it seems. ;)
    • The lack of humidity. It's been as low as 23% and never higher than 39% (after we boiled a pot of water on top of the stove for a few hours), according to our hygrometer. My skin is crawling, and my hands were raw after opening so many cardboard boxes. :p  (Hence, the new humidifier...!!) (And while it was supposed to be "quiet" technology, I am finding it very loud. :p )
    • Being a fish out of water in our new community, in more ways than one. :p  I am sure we will be asked about our children sooner or later. :p  Awhile back, I remember posting about an article I'd read in which the federal riding we lived in was one with the highest percentages of families (parents with kids) in Canada, according to the most recent census?  Guess which riding ranked #1?  Yep!
    • The TRAFFIC. :p I read an article recently that described the community we moved to as "the worst of suburbia personified" (i.e., traffic congestion, lack of transit, lack of walkability, etc.). It's crowded, there are meridians everywhere that make it really difficult to get where you want to go -- and people generally drive like maniacs. :p And of course, neither of us has any idea where things are or where exactly we're going, which exacerbates the problem. I know we'll figure it all out eventually, but in the meantime, getting almost anywhere is an exercise in frustration. :p
    • Between the time we bought the condo & when we moved in, all the lovely trees we looked out on have been chopped down. :(  We knew there would be some high-end townhouses constructed there eventually, we just didn't know when that construction would start. On the other hand, it's going to be kind of cool to watch them being built over the next few months. I've started a photo diary/album on Facebook to document the progress. There's still a good-sized green space separating our building and the townhouses. And (so far, anyway) the construction noise hasn't been too irritating.
    • Being too busy to blog until now, or to read or comment on other blogs. My apologies. :(