Monday, July 24, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: "I need something to make me feel better" *

Another musical icon from my youth, gone. :(

If you're not Canadian (or even a Canadian of a certain vintage), the names Kenny Shields & Streetheart might not mean anything to you.  But Streetheart was huge when I was in high school & university in the late 1970s/early 1980s Prairies, starting with their first album "Meanwhile Back in Paris," and they remain a staple of classic rock radio in Canada today.

They were from the Prairies, with roots in Regina and later based in Winnipeg, and Kenny was the charismatic lead singer, with a one-of-a-kind voice. (The original guitarist, Paul Dean, and drummer, Matt Frenette, later went on to even greater success as members of Loverboy.)  I found a 1979 video of their cover of  the Stones' "Under My Thumb" (which I probably heard before the Stones' version), in which he's wearing just one glove, years before Michael Jackson did. My sister (who served him once at the bank branch where she worked in the late 1980s) & I went to see them in concert in Winnipeg in the spring of 1979, and I can tell you to this day exactly what I wore, right down to the shade of blusher I was wearing (Revlon's Tawny Red Frost).

I read the news of his death at age 69 in a Winnipeg hospital on Facebook on Friday morning, just as I was packing to head home to Prairies. Seemed fitting, somehow... Thanks for the music, Kenny!

*  Lyric from "What Kind of Love is This?"

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Marilyn was one of us

The scene: Me, at a lovely local spa for the first time. Dim lighting, soft music playing, comfortable reclining pedicure chair, mug of soothing herbal tea within reach. Enjoying a relaxing manicure & pedicure, courtesy of a gift certificate I received. One other 50-something woman in the room, also getting a mani-pedi -- as she explained, for her son's wedding the next day.

Mom (looking up at large framed photo of Marilyn Monroe in her prime, hanging on the wall): That's a great photo of her! How old was she when she died?

Pedicurist: I think she was 36.

Mom: She didn't have any kids, did she? That's SO sad!  (Didn't catch everything she said next, but it seemed to be something along the lines of what else gives life meaning if you don't have kids?)(Or maybe I'm just projecting...??)  She was married two or three times, wasn't she? Of course, at that age... most people in those days had kids really young...

I felt myself tensing up & mentally rolling my eyes. So much for the relaxing mood...!  

But she moved on to another topic -- thank goodness!!

(And also thank goodness, nobody asked me about MY kids while I was there...!)

(For the record, Marilyn was married three times, including to baseball great Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller. And no, she didn't have any children. But she desperately wanted them, struggled to conceive, suffered from endometriosis, and endured several miscarriages, including an ectopic pregnancy.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"Tribe" by Sebastian Junger

"Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging" is an expanded version of an article that Sebastian Junger wrote for Vanity Fair -- a short & well-spaced 136 pages (plus source notes).

In this case, less is definitely more: there's a lot packed into this slim volume. It's well written and thought provoking -- a fascinating look at how humans have banded together over time to survive -- and how modern life works against our deep-seated need to belong, and:
"why -- for many people -- war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations." (p. xxvi)  
Most the reviews I've read focus on what "Tribe" has to say about the military and PTSD -- the main subject of Junger's original article, and something he has often written about before. But we also learn about American Indian tribal life (and its appeal to American frontier settlers), infant sleeping practices, the London Blitz of the Second World War, the Springhill (Nova Scotia) mining disaster of 1958, mass shootings, and so much more.

Near the end of the book, Junger also makes some timely observations about the deep divisions in modern American society. "People who speak with contempt for one another will probably not remain united for long," he says. "The most alarming rhetoric comes out of the dispute between liberals and conservatives, and it’s a dangerous waste of time because they’re both right." (p. 126)

"If you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you’re different -- you underscore your shared humanity,” Rachel Yehuda of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City tells him. (p. 127)

Makes sense to me...

*** *** ***

One reason I was interested in reading this book was that both PamelaLisa have referred to it in different forums where I follow them. In the ALI community, we often talk about the importance of"finding our tribe" and the support we give and receive to & from each other -- and I was curious to see how Junger's concept of "Tribe" would relate to the ALI world.  

Junger doesn't address infertility issues here, but it's certainly possibly to extract some lessons/meaning for our own situations from this book. One of its main messages is that people will bond together in times of adversity and when dealing with a common adversary -- and I think that's one of the driving forces behind the growth of online communities such as ours. I wouldn't say the fertile world is an "adversary," of course -- but when you're dealing with infertility & pregnancy loss, there's certainly a feeling of alienation and "other-ness" that the fortunate fertile probably don't realize even exists, let alone respond to in an adequate or satisfying way. That's why we feel such a sense of relief and belonging when we discover others -- online or "in real life" -- who have shared a similar experience, and why we consider them our "tribe."   

Here's another quote from the book that spoke to me:  
“...human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others.” (p. xxx) 
Hmmm -- let's see. When you can't get or stay pregnant -- which the majority of women do with ease (and often without giving the subject much thought), and which some consider the main purpose of a woman's existence -- you feel anything BUT competent. We are often forced to hide our authentic selves and feelings as we struggle through infertility & loss.  (Infertility & loss, of course, change who we are in profound ways, leaving us to try to figure out who we are now, and who we're going to be, if we're not going to be parents.)  And infertility and loss, and this struggle to find and maintain our authentic selves in the face of adversity, creates barriers between those of us who suffer and those who don't.  At a time when we badly need support from others, we find them shying away from the sadness and messiness of our situations and the rawness of our emotions, and the "bad luck" we represent. No wonder we have such difficulty finding "contentment"!   

“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary. It's time for that to end.”  (p. xxvi) 

Who feels less necessary in a society fixated on families, children and baby bumps than a childless woman? 

And yes, it's time for that to end. 

This was book #10 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 42% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am 3 books behind schedule to meet my goal. :p  ;)  

Monday, July 17, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Odds & ends

  • The local megabookstore has had an all-Canadian playlist as background music this month, no doubt in honour of Canada 150. I've been enjoying hearing (and struggling not to sing along with, lol) some old favourites ("The Hockey Game" by Stompin' Tom Connors, anyone?? ;)  ), and some I haven't heard in eons (Valdy!). And even a rousing version of "Farewell to Nova Scotia," which I can still sing along to in its entirety -- we sang it ad nauseum in music class in grade school. (Imagine a bunch of Prairie kids, living about as far away from the ocean as it's possible to be, singing, "But a poor simple sailor just like me/Must be tossed and be driven on the dark blue sea..."). 
  • Gallstones have been giving me grief lately. :(  With the possible exception of having my wisdom teeth removed (all four at once!) when I was in my early 30s (is that considered surgery? -- dental surgery, sure...), I have never had surgery -- and I have no desire to start now, but may have to consider it (may not have a choice...) if this continues... :(  
    • I think I've mentioned this before, but I remember reading that there's a co-relation between high estrogen levels and gallstone formation... which is one reason why it's so common among pregnant or post-partum women. And, perhaps, women going through infertility treatment? I remember my RE commenting at one point in my cycle that my estrogen levels were sky high. Infertility, the gift that just keeps on giving... 
    • I do have genetics in my favour/to blame too -- my dad, and apparently all of my aunts & uncles on his side of the family, and some cousins to boot, have had their gallbladders removed.
    • Has anyone else out there had issues with gallstones? Gallbladder removal surgery? 
  • One of dh's cousin's daughters just had a baby early this morning. Her FOURTH!! Beyond jealousy at the ease with which she seems to get & stay pregnant (not to mention regain her slender figure...!), I am beyond awed that anyone has the energy (let alone can afford) to raise four children these days...!!  
  • Looking forward to a much-needed mani-pedi later this week! :)  (Even better, I have a gift certificate for it!)  
  • When did the neighbours across the back fence (across the construction site behind our condo building) paint the brick on their house??  I just noticed this morning. 
  • The neighbours next door to them were having their eavestroughs cleaned this morning. I was watching a guy strolling casually around their rooftop with a hose, spraying them out. (Yes, we are nosy retiree neighbours, lol.)  
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It takes a village

A Facebook friend recently shared this article/blog post, titled "In the absence of a village, build one." My friend added the comment, "We do not have do to it alone. Find your village, love them hard."  

The article is written from a mommy-centric perspective, for an audience of other mommies. (Which seems ironic from an infertility/childless perspective, because from where we sit, motherhood seems like a highly exclusive country club that everyone else gets to join and hang out with -- except us, of course.)(Scroll down to the comment from Jen on July 14th.) But I think that with a little imagination and some rewording, the thoughts shared here could apply to those of us in the adoption/loss/infertity community (or just about anyone, really).  

The author notes, "The time when you need a village the most also happens to be the time when it’s hardest to build one." She's thinking about her kids and their childhood, of course -- but I immediately thought about those awful days, post-loss, during infertility treatment, post-stopping, when I felt so completely alone.  (Maybe not in the immediate days after my loss, of course, when friends & relatives rallied round, called and sent flowers and cards, but in the weeks & months afterwards, when they assumed things were "back to normal" and got on with their lives, assuming I was doing the same thing. I wasn't.)  

*** *** *** 

First, let's look at the barriers to finding your village identified in the article. (Not all might apply to your personal situation.)

Barriers to finding your village   

1. The age of fellow moms in your life—and the ages of their children

The age you're at -- when you're going through infertility/loss, when you have children, or just going through life, period -- can make it harder to find your village. If you're in your 20s & 30s, some of your friends might be having babies, some might still be looking for someone to have babies with. The ones having babies might not understand what you're dealing with, if you're going through infertility & loss -- and even if they do, they're obviously busy with other things;  you and your problems aren't their priority.  If you're trying to get pregnant in your 40s while all your friends have already had their families (some of them even becoming empty nesters...!), you can certainly feel out of sync with them. Even if you eventually do have a baby or adopt a child late in your reproductive life, there might be quite an age gap between your kids and theirs. Your friends may have already found their mommy tribe and feel more comfortable talking about school PTA meetings with the other PTA members, rather than comiserate with you about your lack of sleep. If you never have children, by choice or by chance, you will most likely feel shut out of the loop while your peers build their families. Working (and working & commuting) can make it difficult to find new friendships and maintain old ones. And if you're like me, & retire early, you can sometimes feel isolated if most of your friends are still working.

2. The arrangement of work & life

"For example, mothers who work outside the home may have a hard time connecting with moms who stay home. There are only so many hours in the day…" the article says. And, I might add, both kinds of moms often have a hard time connecting with non-moms, and making room for them in lives that are now laser-focused on all things mommy & baby-related.

A little more about work and the role it plays in finding our village: for some of us, work becomes our village, or a part of it.  I met a lot of great people at work, and I've stayed friends/friendly with some of them. But there are barriers to cultivating friendships at work, too. I know a lot of the younger people in my office liked to go out together after work (especially on a Thursday night, for some reason)  -- I did too, when I was in my 20s and we lived in the city. But when you get older, your priorities change -- even if you don't have kids tying you down. You don't recover from a night out at the bar as quickly ;)  you start to value your sleep, and you have a husband (if not kids) waiting for you at home.

Also, this probably wouldn't be as much of an issue in a smaller community, but the people I worked with commuted to our downtown office from all over a huge metropolitan area. Distance & commuting time -- not to mention the need to adhere to train, subway & bus schedules -- can certainly be barriers to after-work socializing, and forming and maintaining out-of-office friendships. After a long day of work (8.5 hours including lunch, plus another two hours or so commuting, round trip), I often just wanted to go home.  (Especially on a weeknight -- since I had to get up at 5 a.m. the next morning & do it all again...!)

3. The courage it requires to reach out to another woman

Especially "in real life,"  even if that person has also experienced loss &/or infertility. Sometimes, it's easier to reach out to other women in similar situations online.

4. The feeling that the women around you already have a village in place

Thinking of that exclusive mommy club again. ;)  Although feelings don't necessarily equal reality. There are more women out there looking for villages, or new people for their village, than we might think.

5. A fragmented village

I have lots of different people from different parts of my life and places that I've lived, some that I rely on more than others, sometimes for different things. They don't necessarily know or know about each other, or about the different parts of my life beyond the part I shared with them. (This was one reason I was very leery to join Facebook at first -- I wasn't sure I wanted all these different parts of my life coming together in one place. I am sure some of my Facebook friends, have been surprised at some of the things they've learned about me there...!)  

*** *** *** 

6 Tips to help you build your village 

I think these tips from the article can apply to any village-building effort, not just if you're a mom. 

1. First, believe that you don’t have to do motherhood adoption/loss/infertility (or anything else)  on your own. 

There are people who are going through the same thing you are (both in "real life" and certainly online) who are also looking to build their villages and find support... and who are willing to support you, too. Start looking for them.  

2. Next, get comfortable (ironically) with vulnerability. 

"Vulnerability allows us to take friendships to a much more meaningful level, and in turn we find ourselves feeling happier and more comfortable in our own skin because of the authenticity we’ve developed in the safety of close relationships," the article says. 
If anyone knows about vulnerability, I think it's ALIers. :)  Infertility & loss are pretty isolating, lonely, emotion-laden experiences. Our hearts are raw, broken, tender.  If there's one thing that helps us survive, it's giving voice to our truth -- being honest, expressing our feelings fully and honestly (by talking about them, or at least writing them out) -- and to know that others are listening.  Not necessarily that they have answers for us. Sometimes the mere act of voicing what's in our hearts -- and having someone pay attention -- is comfort enough.   

3. Watch for women you can bring in.

"A village gets stronger with numbers. If you already have a support network, keep your eyes open for women... who might need what you can offer. Be a people connector."

We're everywhere -- even if we're not always upfront about it. 

4. Keep working on YOU.

"Your vibe attracts your tribe." 

5. Ask for help, and accept it when it’s offered. 

So often, the people around us don't know we're hurting. It's hard to open ourselves up and admit we need help. Sometimes it leads to more hurt (clueless friends & relatives who don't understand) -- but sometimes it can lead to new understanding & new, stronger connections. 

6. Offer YOUR help. 

"Being willing to help others—to be their village—is the biggest key to creating one."  Share what you've learned, comment on others' posts.  

What do you think?  Did the translation to the ALI world work here? What would you add?

*** *** *** 

Reading the post got me thinking (not for the first time...!)  about my personal "village" and how it applied to my own life, post Katie, post-infertility.    

Immediately after losing Katie (in August 1998), I found myself reading obsessively about pregnancy loss -- why it happens, what I could do to prevent it from happening again, and what I could do to help myself recover from such a horrible blow. Several older women in my life who had lost babies years ago -- dh's aunts, my best friend's mother -- called & told me it had happened to them too. Most of them told me "you'll have another baby,"  which I suppose is what they'd been told (and for them, it did happen, so why wouldn't they believe otherwise?). Most of the women my own age that I knew had not experienced such a loss, it seemed.  I was floored -- and so touched -- when a former coworker now living in the States called me out of the blue (after reading the mass email I'd sent out) and told me about her own miscarriage.  

The package the hospital sent home with me included some information on local support groups. Even in a city as big as Toronto, it was hard to find support: the hospital's own onsite group no longer existed (!), another wanted me to come to their midtown office for an interview (!) & then wait until they had enough people to form a group that would last for a certain number of weeks & then send us on our way.  Finally, the hospital social worker I was dealing with told me about another group where she was a board member.  I went to one meeting by myself;  dh joined me for the next one, and we stayed there for the next 10+ years -- first as clients and then as facilitators. Finding our tribe, real-life people who lived nearby and were going through a similar experience, was a huge part of our healing. 

But the group only met once or twice a month. The time between meetings felt like an eternity sometimes.  That's when I discovered the power of the Internet. We'd bought our first computer two years earlier, in the fall of 1996.  Early on in my pregnancy, one of dh's coworkers had given him the name of a website she thought I'd like to check out. It was Parents Place (now defunct), with week by week pregnancy information & tips, as well as message boards for pregnant women and new mothers. There were, I realized, post-Katie, also message boards for pregnancy loss -- but I was a little hesitant about putting myself out there publicly like that. 

Eventually, I found a private e-mail list that seemed a little "safer" to me than public message boards, and joined that. It proved to be my daily lifeline for the next several years. I would rush home to check my email for the latest digests and emails from my newfound friends, and pour my heart out onscreen, both to the entire list and privately to several members I'd formed cyberfriendships with.  

The list was for women (& men) who had endured pregnancy loss and hoped to try again. As you might imagine, many of them also had infertility issues, and they were a source of invaluable information and encouragement as we ventured down the slippery slope of infertility testing and treatment. But as more & more of them got their "rainbow babies" (and sometimes a second, and a third...) -- and I did not -- my postings to the group began to taper off. It was becoming obvious that the "subsequent pregnancy" part of the title was not going to happen for us.  

I didn't post regularly on any infertility message boards while I was going through treatment (although I did check some out). (Blogs were not yet a "thing" -- that came a few years later.)  But after my final IUI failed early in the summer of 2001, I started hunting for resources for living without children.  There was not much out there -- and a lot of what I did find was for people who never wanted children. But I did find a very few message boards (often attached to infertility websites) devoted to the subject, with a somewhat active membership. In particular, I found a home on the Childless Living message board at iVillage. Sadly, it is long gone now -- but this week it will be 16 years (!) since I introduced myself there. I always consider that date as as the beginning of my childless/free life after infertility & loss. And I am still in touch with several of the women I "met" there (and I have met two of them "in real life") -- on a different private forum we created a few years later, and (later still) on Facebook. 

I don't think I discovered blogs until about 2006, and I started following a few of them regularly. Most of the ones I found in those early days no longer exist. But one in particular still does: Melissa's Stirrup Queens, which has long been a community hub for those of us dealing with adoption, loss & infertility. I think I started tentatively commenting on some of her posts -- particularly the sessions in The Lushary (which hasn't creaked opened its doors in a long time, but which still holds a fond place in my heart...! ;)  ) -- sometime in 2007. Through her blogroll, I discovered Pamela's original Coming2Terms blog, which eventually morphed into Silent Sorority.

And so, with Pamela's example in front of me and Mel's encouragement (and to take part in her Barren B*tches Book Tour -- which was, at the time, getting ready to discuss Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" -- plus ca change...!), I decided to start my own blog. This fall, it will be 10 years (!!) since I hit "publish" on that very first post.  While many of the bloggers I used to follow (sadly) no longer write, I'm so very happy (& proud) that the childless-not-by-choice neighbourhood of our ALI village has grown by leaps & bounds in recent years!  

I know I've told this story before (and I'll probably tell it again & again) -- but I felt compelled to tell it again now... mostly because I'm so grateful to the Internet and to blogging for giving me hope, empathy and friendship at a time in my life when I really, really needed it (and found it hard to come by in my offline life).   
Thank you all for being part of my village!  :)  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"Sex & the City"and me

I was recently watching the new CNN series about "The Nineties," which started with a two-hour episode about 1990s TV shows. One of the shows they featured was "Sex & the City."

Somehow, I never became a regular SATC-watcher -- even though many of my friends raved about it and told me I should watch it, and I still, somehow, got to know who all the characters were and some of the plot lines. I did see a couple of episodes in reruns years later (no doubt censored).

Then, on the screen, they showed the date SATC debuted:  June 6, 1998.

Well, that explained it.

The debut of "Sex & the City" coincided with my roller coaster pregnancy with Katie & its aftermath. In early June 1998, I did the triple screen blood test, followed by an ultrasound -- both of which indicated some abnormalities, and led to genetic counselling, amniocentesis and the shadow of a potential termination looming over us, all before the end of the month.

Clearly, I had other stuff on my mind at the time, and while perhaps I could have used something frivolous as a distraction, SATC somehow never quite struck a chord with me, and I never got into the habit of watching it.

I guess there's always Netflix... ;)

Did you ever watch "Sex & the City"?  Did loss &/or infertility interfere with your enjoyment of any TV shows that everyone else was watching & loved?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Anniversary getaway: Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario:  clock/cenotaph and court house (now a theatre).
We first visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (not Niagara Falls -- Niagara-on-the-Lake! -- there's a difference!!),  back in June 1984.  My parents & I drove across northern Minnesota, Wisconsin & the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, through Detroit (quite an experience in itself...!!) and across the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor (where dh -- then just my boyfriend -- was finishing up his MBA) and on to London (Ontario), where -- main purpose of the trip -- I picked up my master's degree diploma at convocation.

Then we cut through the backroads of southwestern Ontario to the tourist trap (cough, cough -- errrr, hotspot?? mecca?? honeymoon capital??) of Niagara Falls (the first time for all three of us). After spending the night there, we drove up the Niagara River Parkway about a half hour to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. (And then continued on to Toronto, so that my parents could meet dh's father before we headed home -- but that's another story for another day...)

I'd been living in southwestern Ontario for the past year, attending grad school, so I think I must have heard about NOTL then, and its Shaw Festival -- a professional theatre festival/company, which performs the works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries on three different stages in town from approximately May through October/November every year (as opposed to the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, which does Shakespeare -- albeit not exclusively these days). (We took a trip to Stratford for our 24th anniversary in 2009, and I blogged about it here.)    

We didn't spend any time in NOTL then -- I think we just drove through to have a look at the place. But what little we got to see enchanted us, and we vowed to return. 

We did, two years later, in August 1986. My parents came back to visit us in our tiny apartment in midtown Toronto, and we decided that we wanted to go back to NOTL & spend more time there. (We did the falls again too.)  We've returned a number of times since then, both with my parents and by ourselves, for a few hours and for a few days. It's about a 2.5 hour drive from our old home and just 1.5 hours from our current location (in good traffic). 

Over these 30+ years, there have been many changes in NOTL.  Some say it has been "Disneyfied," and it is definitely much more "commercial" than it was 20 or 30 years ago.  (It's also gotten a lot more expensive...!)  While chains were once banned in the old town, main street today includes a Starbucks as well as a Sunset Grill restaurant.  And development (both commercial & residential) along the roads leading into town  is running amok.

But the quiet smalltown charm remains, drawing hundreds, perhaps thousands of visitors every day throughout the summer months.  The town dates back to the 1700s, and was the original capital of the province of Upper Canada (what eventually became Ontario).  It survived the War of 1812 -- the Americans burned it to the ground in 1813, but it was rebuilt, and there are many beautiful old homes homes and commercial buildings from the early to mid-1800s. The town offers accommodations in a number of charming old inns, small luxury boutique hotels, and bed-and-breakfast establishments -- although, for those who prefer the tried-and-true and don't mind a bit of driving, there are now a couple of larger chain hotels a few miles outside of town near the highway (including a Hilton Garden Inn). The number of vineyards & wineries in the area has exploded since we first visited the area -- many of them world-class, most of them offering tours and tastings, and some with fine dining in onsite restaurants. There are other excellent restaurants in town, and great shopping too -- as well as a (relatively new) humungous outlet mall just outside town on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW, the main highway between Toronto & Niagara) that offers some great shopping.  

*** *** *** 

We hadn't been back to NOTL for an overnight stay since our 20th wedding anniversary in 2005 -- or even a day visit since October 2014 -- and I decided it was time for a return trip!  

Several of the hotels I looked at were booked for the dates we wanted (at least the lower-priced rooms -- which can still be pretty expensive...!)(and whose idea was it to get married the same week as both Canada Day & the Fourth of July, not to mention the kickoff period for summer vacation??). I eventually found us accommodation at the Charles Hotel -- where we'd previously stayed back in the late 1980s/early 1990s when it was newly transformed from a private residence to an inn and called the Kiely House. We thoroughly enjoyed our stays then, and I was curious to see what had changed (& what hadn't) in the years since our last visit. 

The house that's now the hotel/inn was built in 1832 (!), and comes with tons of atmosphere and interesting architectural & decorative details, including wraparound porches, both open & screened in, that just beg to be sat on with a good book & cold drink (or a cup of tea).  There's a lovely garden, and a view of the neighbouring Niagara-on-the-Lake golf club, the oldest golf club in Canada. It's just a few blocks walk from downtown and the three Shaw Festival theatres. It's not child UNfriendly -- no doubt there are families with children that have stayed there -- (no pets allowed) -- but I would say it's definitely more of a romantic/couples kind of place. In other words, perfect for a childless couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. :)

Front entrance

Front of the house, from an angle. The patio is part of the restaurant/bar. 
Back of the inn, with a view of the golf course next door.
Dh, my parents & I stayed on the second floor 30+ years ago.
Hugely enjoyed the veranda!! 

We arrived on Thursday afternoon shortly after 3 p.m. (check in time) and found ourselves assigned to the Daisy Room, which was on the ground floor, just off of the front veranda where breakfast was served each day. The room was smallish but comfortable & nicely furnished. (Most important, perhaps, on a horribly hot & humid day, it was air conditioned!! -- all the rooms are.)

The Daisy Room.
The bathroom was large with a large, newish glassed-in shower cubicle, complete with rainforest shower head (ahhhh....!!).

Bathroom
And -- bonus!! there was a lovely little private screened-in porch for our exclusive use. It reminded me of the (much smaller) screened in porch on the side of my grandmother's house, where we used to gather in the evening to drink coffee & socialize with visiting relatives and neighbours.  I spent a couple of happy hours out there (heat & humidity be damned... ) reading and watching the people & traffic go by.

A partial view of the private screened-in porch
accessible only from our room.
I'd made us an early dinner reservation at the hotel's well-reviewed restaurant, called the HobNob, which was located in the beautiful double drawing room. We had a table near the window. There were two other tables while we dined (with more arriving as we finished), and while there was music, it wasn't too loud, so we were actually able to carry on a conversation, lol. We decided not to have appetizers, but did have dessert. :)  I had salmon while dh had chicken, and we both thought our meals were amazing -- crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

Where we had dinner on our anniversary. 
After a most enjoyable dinner, we hiked over to the other side of town. I'd bought us theatre tickets to see "Me and My Girl" at the Shaw Festival Theatre.  I knew nothing about it, except that it was a musical.  It turned out to be a British musical from the late 1930s, the story of a Cockney guy who discovers that he's an earl, and the clash of classes & cultures that unfolds when he meets his new family. I had heard of one of the song & dance numbers, "The Lambeth Walk" -- and realized that I could sing along with another, "Leaning on a Lamppost," which was jazzed up a bit & recorded in the 1960s by my original boy band idols, Herman's Hermits (!!).  :)  Well done and thoroughly enjoyable.

We had breakfast the next morning (and the morning after that, before we left) on the veranda near our room. (Price not included with the room.)  Again, the service was great, and the food...!  We both ordered the maple cinnamon brioche French toast, which came with maple syrup, fresh fruit, potatos, sausage and bacon fried just the way I like it (crisp), and arrived piping hot.  The tea came in a proper china teapot (yay! -- no leaky metal horrors...) & dh's coffee was made fresh in a French press. He said it was great & wants to look for one for himself now. ;) The breakfast (served from 8 to 10 a.m.) was ample enough that we didn't need to eat lunch (although we did wind up having afternoon snacks later...!).

The front veranda, where breakfast was served. 
As I mentioned, Niagara is famous for its vineyards & wineries. We thought about doing a winery tour on Friday afternoon -- there are even tour companies that will pick you up, drive you around to several wineries and then take you back to your lodgings. But while dh & I enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner, neither of us are big drinkers (out of practice since our student days!! lol) -- we toured one winery several years ago and attended a tasting seminar, & left wondering whether dh should really be driving...!  The tour company our hotel recommended offers several different packages, most of which took you to three different wineries, where you'd sample a minimum of three wines each = approximately 9 (usually generous) samplings within a few hours (on a very hot, humid day). A glass of wine at lunchtime used to leave me relatively useless for the rest of the workday;  I figured a tour would probably do both of us in for the rest of our day in NOTL. So we decided to skip the wine tour this time around.

We also thought about going to Niagara Falls, but we've been there several times before -- it's always jammed with people, parking is horribly expensive, and the weather forecast was predicting thunderstorms.

So instead, we spent a pleasant few hours walking up & down main street and poking into the many wonderful little shops (including the Christmas store, the jam shop, and an obligatory stop at the fudge shop, which has been there since 1967). Then we drove back out toward the QEW and the outlet mall, where I picked up a new nightgown, some tops and jewelry from some of my favourite stores.

Back in town, we decided to wander back up the main street and find a place to eat dinner, without making reservations. The restaurant we chose was well rated online -- but we found it just adequate but nothing really special.  Next time, we'll try somewhere else. We did save room for dessert, and stopped for gelato at one of several gelato/ice cream shops on the main street, then strolled through Simcoe Park while we ate it.

We spent a LOT of time walking while we were in town -- it's a very walkable place.  By the time we left, though, my feet and knees were killing me....!  It was VERY hot & humid when we arrived on Thursday;  not quite as hot (but still pretty warm and still very humid) on Friday.  Although the chances of rain & thunderstorms were given as 60-70% in the forecast, we didn't get a drop. Saturday, of course, was wonderfully pleasant. Figures!!

Saturday morning, we had breakfast, took another walk around the neighbourhood, and then checked out & headed back home.

We will be back, sooner rather than later...! 

If you are in Toronto/southern Ontario, Niagara Falls is certainly a must-see. The falls themselves are spectacular (tip: Americans, get your passport & come on over to the Canadian side -- the view is better.)(And I'm not just saying that because I'm Canadian, lol.)  I'll admit I haven't actually spent much time in the town itself in recent years, but it tends to be on the kitschy/commercial/tourist-trap-ish side. A lot of my friends with children love taking their kids there to Great Wolf Lodge, Marine Land, ziplining, the wax museum, etc. (as well as the traditional Maid of the Mist boat tours & Table Rock, etc.).  There's a casino with shows & gambling, if that's your taste.

But I always urge everyone to take the drive up the Niagara Parkway and spend some time in Niagara-on-the-Lake too. You won't regret it! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Great minds, etc.

I will tell you more about our anniversary getaway in another post soon -- but first I wanted to tell you about the day started. :)  Dh & I don't usually buy each other anniversary gifts, but we have a tradition of exchanging cards first thing when we wake up (and I have kept every one of them). I knew that we had both bought our cards at the local megabookstore, where the selection isn't huge, and the thought crossed my mind that, "Wouldn't it be funny if...?"

The night before our anniversary, I came into our bedroom, purple envelope containing my card to dh in hand to prop up on his night table -- and saw a purple envelope propped up on MY night table. Hmmmm....

You can probably guess the rest. We opened our cards the next morning at the same time. Gales of laughter ensued.  I guess this is what happens when you've known each other almost 36 years and been married for 32 (along with finishing each other's sentences, knowing exactly what the other person is going to say before they open their mouth, etc. etc....!) (You know you've been married a long time when....)(Great minds think alike, etc. etc....)

Me & dh & our identical anniversary cards. ;)
The printing is backwards because we were using
the mirror to help us take the selfie.
(Give us a break; we're aging baby boomers navigating newfangled technology
and no kids around to take a photo for us, lol.) 
Does stuff like this ever happen to you & your dh/partner/best friend or other person you are very close to?? 

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hear me, heal me...

A Facebook find... and very true!! 

Right now

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

Reading:  Between books right now. (Spending too much time online vs reading books lately..!. :p ) 
Most recent purchases: "Tribe" by Sebastian Junger;  "The Reason You Walk" by Wab Kinew,  "The Alice Network" by Kate Quinn and "The House by the Lake" by Thomas Harding.  

Watching:  On TV:  
Finished watching "Genius" (about Albert Einstein) on the National Geographic channel, and "The Handmaid's Tale" on Bravo Canada. Since getting Netflix recently, we've watched season one of "The Crown" and all seven episodes of "The Keepers."  Trying to decide what to watch next. :) 

A news show that's become one of my favourites in recent months is "Reliable Sources" with Brian Stelter on CNN on Sunday mornings. As a journalist/communicator & a news junkie since childhood, I love the in-depth analysis of news coverage and media issues. (ALI note: Brian & his wife Jamie recently became parents of a baby girl via IVF, after several losses.)  

At the movies, we went to see "Despicable Me 3" this past weekend (yep, dh & me and a theatre full of parents & small children...!).  It was just mildly amusing for the most part -- the Minions play a much smaller role than they have in previous DM movies -- but the scenes they are in are still pretty funny...!   

Eating & Drinking:  Trying to be careful, after some rumblings from my gallbladder again over the past few weeks...! :(   Hoping things won't flare up while we're away later this week. :(  

Following: The adventures of Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund (and his brother Oakley) on Facebook & Instagram, since Oldest Nephew & his wife got their own miniature doxie last year. Some hilarious videos. :)  


Also, construction work has picked up again on the townhouse site behind us, after a lull over the past 2-3 months. They have yet to pour a foundation or frame a single wall, but there has been progress made on the fence that will border the property and separate the townhouses from the homes behind them. 

Listening: To dh snoring as he naps on the couch. ;)  

Wearing:  Capris, sandals & wonderful summer tops -- no jackets required!! AT LAST!!  


Buying (besides books, lol):  A lot of summer clothes & sandals. More than I need, probably -- but I find it next to impossible to walk out of Old Navy without a bag in my hand...  :p  ;)  

Planning:  A little getaway for our upcoming wedding anniversary later this week :) as well as our trip to see my family later this month.

Monitoring: The weather. The current forecast is calling for rain both days we're away, after sunshine the rest of the week. Figures...! 

Wondering:  Why do I always forget to put on sunscreen the first few times we spend any length of time outdoors during the summer??!  I have fair skin and always get burned. :p  (Happened again at a recent family gathering...! :p ) 

Feeling:  Like the summer is already going by way too fast :(  -- but looking forward to the rest of it! :) 

Monday, July 3, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: 32

It's our 32nd (!!) wedding anniversary later this week.  I'm not sure I have much more to say, or insight to offer, beyond what I've already written in previous wedding/anniversary posts. But I thought it was worth noting, nevertheless. ;)  (Besides which, it's become a bit of a blog tradition...!) ;)

In last year's anniversary post, I reflected on several years of "challenges, upheavals, changes," and how stressful 2016 had been to that point. But -- "things have been looking up again," I noted.

Our wedding cake (July 6, 1985). 
I'd call year #32 a year of adjustment and settling in (and that continues...!) -- but definitely a year that was a lot happier than the one that preceded it. ;)  Dh is so much happier with our new surroundings (crazy local drivers and traffic aside...!), and while I still have my reservations about the community itself, I adore our condo, and I am so happy that dh has been so much happier as a result of the move. If I have to go through big life changes (and we've had more than our share...!) and new experiences, there is no one else I'd rather have with me for the ride. :)

Even though it's not one of those anniversaries that's divisible by 5, we're doing something a little special to celebrate this year, beyond our usual dinner out.  I will tell you more about it in a future post. :)

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150

The differences between Canada & other countries -- and most especially our neighbour, the United States -- are often remarked upon and pondered, and most especially at this time of year, as both countries mark their national holidays (Canada Day for us on July 1st;  Independence Day for the Americans on July 4th).

Canadians have gotten more comfortable in recent years about expressing their love for our country, but (one difference) we still don't wave the flag and wear our patriotism on our sleeves in quite the same way as our cousins south of the border do. But make no mistake, we are fiercely proud to be Canadian, and think (no, KNOW) we live in the greatest country in the world. ;)  And I for one am incredibly grateful to be Canadian. I often say that I won the lottery of life when I was born in Canada in the latter half of the 20th century, particularly as a woman!

This year, July 1st marks 150 years since Confederation, when four British North American colonies -- Ontario/Upper Canada, Quebec/Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (eventually joined by others) -- joined forces as the Dominion of Canada, with the capital city located in Ottawa, as chosen by Her Majesty Queen Victoria (whose birthday we celebrate every year in May in recognition of her role in Canada's creation). Some of my ancestors lived in the Ottawa Valley at the time, and I sometimes wonder what they thought about this new arrangement, and how they marked the occasion of Confederation (if at all).

I am old enough (gulp) that I can remember Canada's centennial year, 1967 -- although it definitely gives me pause to realize that it's now FIFTY (50) YEARS AGO!!! I was 6 years old, living in a small town in northern Saskatchewan, just out of kindergarten that June, and entering Grade 1 in the fall. Most "anniversaries" these days tend to be overhyped, and those were definitely simpler times, but it seems to me there was more hoopla surrounding the 100-year milestone back then. Or maybe it's just that I was 6 years old, and everything is pretty darn exciting and awe-inspiring when you're that age.

I don't remember much about the actual day itself (back then, it was called "Dominion Day" -- it was changed to the much blander "Canada Day" when I was in university), except that we drove the 18 miles from my grandparents' house in the northwestern-most corner of Minnesota, where we spent several weeks every summer of my childhood, to the Manitoba border town where I was born and where my other grandparents farmed nearby, and watched the local fireworks display with some of my cousins.  I also remember my mother taking me (& I assume my sister too) to visit the Centennial Caravan (an offshoot of the Confederation Train project), a travelling display of Canadian history highlights.  And I remember that my best friend's parents travelled to far-off Montreal to attend Expo 67, the world's fair.

I don't remember anyone wearing special T-shirts to mark the occasion (not such a big thing back then), but I did carry away three lasting souvenirs from that year. One is in my jewelry box to this day:  a stickpin with the centennial logo, which was handed out to us in school that fall.

My 1967 centennial pin.
It looks kind of aqua/green here, but it's actually blue. 
(Not everyone got a pin. Some got flags, some got bumper stickers... I guess I lucked out. ;)  ) The other two keepsakes are still at my parents' house, somewhere: a blue flag with the centennial logo on it, which my mother bought me as a reward for good behaviour at the dentist's office. And a 45 record of the ubiquitous theme song for the occasion:  "Ca-na-da"* by Bobby Gimby -- English on the red A side and French on the other (blue label). The record got cracked and my father applied a piece of masking tape on the French side by way of repair (oops -- not especially politically correct of you, Dad ;)  ), so we could only play the English version thereafter (with clicks as the record needle passed over the crack).

We don't really have any plans to mark this historic occasion. As with other holidays, I think that when you have children, you tend to make more of an effort to make these occasions memorable for them -- perhaps especially so when they are once-in-a-lifetime historic events (such as Centennial, or the U.S. Bicentennial, which I remember even better than Centennial, being 15 at the time vs 6...!). I don't think we'll be heading to any of the community gatherings. I'm not especially keen on large crowds at the best of times -- let alone these days when there are more sinister things to worry about than getting separated from your party (and of course that's easily remedied since the advent of cellphones...!), finding parking (and getting out of it at the same time as everyone else later on), and trying to avoid using the port-a-potties. ;) Plus, the weather forecast (unfortunately) is not looking that great.

Whatever we do, I'm planning on wearing the Canada T-shirt that I bought specially for the occasion, and my sterling silver "Maple Leaf Forever" necklace (made by a friend of Msfitzita's -- check out her stuff, it is gorgeous!). We may watch some of the broadcast of the celebrations from Parliament Hill in Ottawa -- especially because (a) it will be the final broadcast by Peter Mansbridge, who is retiring after 50 (!!) years with the CBC, the last 30 as chief correspondent & anchor of "The National" nightly news broadcast;  and (b)  U2 (or at least, Bono & the Edge) will be performing!

Later on, dh & I will probably watch the neighbourhood fireworks from our condo balcony.  There were some pretty spectacular displays going on all around us over the Victoria Day long weekend in May, so I have high hopes for the same on Canada's 150th birthday weekend!

Happy Canada Day 150!

*  I hadn't listened to the song in years before I went looking for a YouTube clip to share here. It seems incredibly schmaltzy from a 2017 perspective -- but damn, if I didn't get a huge lump in my throat while listening/watching... 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Can you be a Real Housewife if you don't have kids?

The NotMom flagged an article on Facebook this week about "The Real Housewives of New York City" and how Real Housewife Carole Radziwill has been shamed by her castmates because she doesn't have kids.

Now, I have never watched (I have never had the slightest interest in watching!) any of the "Real Housewives" shows on TV, aside from occasional glimpses while dh channel-surfs. (These are "real housewives?? Seriously??) (The closest I've ever gotten to the show was when I spent a girls' weekend in New York City a few years back and the driver of the stretch limo we'd hired told us the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills had been recent passengers.)

But my interest was piqued, not only because of the childless/free angle, but because I read (and loved) Radziwill's beautiful memoir, "What Remains," several years ago (mini-review here, at the end of a fuller review of another book). "What Remains" tells the story of Radziwill's marriage to Anthony Radziwill (son of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's younger sister Lee, and thus a nephew to Jackie O. & the late President, and a cousin to Caroline & John Kennedy Jr.), her friendship with JFK Jr. and (especially) his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and how she tragically lost all three of them within a few short weeks in the summer of 1999, when she was 36 years old.  (She's now 53.)

Everyone knows the sad story of JFK Jr and Carolyn and how they died.  Anthony died a few weeks later after a long struggle with cancer. (JFK Jr had been working on a eulogy for his cousin at the time of his own death.) He had already had one bout of cancer before he and Carole met in 1990, when they were both working for ABC News. She knew when she married him (in 1994) that he could not have children. Nevertheless, they built a life together as "two news junkies who liked travel and the chase of a story." As she told Britain's Daily Mail in 2013:
"I knew that he couldn't have kids, and that wasn't in any way a deal-breaker for me. I just wasn't that girl who dreamed about getting married and having children. Those weren't the priorities for me. Now, looking back, I think it would have been nice to have a child... But I'm not going to sit around and mope about it." 
I'll admit I was surprised when I heard Radziwill had agreed to be on the show. I don't know much about her beyond her book & some of the articles about her I read when it first came out, and admittedly I've never watched the show, but beyond her lack of children, she doesn't seem like a typical "Housewife of."

Because I've never watched the show, I don't know what, if anything, Radziwill has said there about not having children -- but it sounds like she is happy with her life today (which apparently includes a much-younger boyfriend).  I'll admit, I have no idea what the article is talking about when it refers to all the drama going on among the Housewives -- and there may (or may not) be reasons for the others to be upset with her.

But not having children should not be one of them.

(Anyone watch the show? Care to enlighten me on anything I'm missing here?)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"The Unmade Bed" by Stephen Marche

I picked up "The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth About Men and Women in the 21st Century" by Stephen Marche because of (a) the intriguing cover (both text & design) an (b) the intriguing prospect of getting a glimpse of what we in blogland have called "the elusive male perspective" on the rapidly evolving state of male-female relationships in the early 21st century.

As promised on the cover, Marche's wife, Sarah Fulford, editor of Toronto Life magazine, adds a running (and often tart) commentary in the footnotes, expanding on her husband's observations and sometimes offering an alternative opinon or version of events as he described them. ;)  ("The best thing about Stephen Marche’s new book on gender politics is his wife," says Maureen O'Connor in The Cut. "The second best thing is that he knows it.")  I found myself wishing there had been more of her comments included. A "he said, she said" book with alternating viewpoints might have been a more interesting way to tackle this subject.

It's not a long book, a little over 200 well spaced pages of text in a readably large font, plus footnotes -- and yet it took me a while to wade through  because the prose in some parts got pretty dense. As Elizabeth Renzetti summarizes in her Globe & Mail review of the book (with footnotes from her spouse, Doug Saunders!): 
Marche’s central thesis, told through eight linked essays, is that men and women have come to an impasse of sorts, where women’s power is increasing, but not quickly enough, and men’s power is crumbling, and not in ways they fully understand or like. The project for men, as they suffer through crises of loneliness, undereducation and shifting power dynamics, is “how to be a proud man without being an asshole about it.”
The book starts off with a discussion of mansplaining (Marche makes the wry observation that he's mansplaining about mansplaining) and the idea that men and women cannot understand each other. Further topics discussed include what Marche called "the hollow patriarchy," modern fatherhood, gender differences and hyper-masculinity, personal politics/political correctness & outrage, and the differences in raising boys vs girls. And then there's a chapter on porn that actually made my eyes glaze over (I'm still not entirely sure what point he was trying to make). The final chapter takes on that most contentious of subjects: who does the housework. (And if you need a hint as to what Marche thinks about it all, the title of the chapter is "The Case for Living in Filth.")

(As an aside, re: the book's title:  I remember Mel once asked her readers if they made the bed every day. I was absolutely dumbfounded by how many people said they didn't. To me, a room with an unmade bed looks messy... and there is nothing nicer than climbing into a bed that's been made up, versus wrinkled, rumpled up sheets & blankets. It just feels so much nicer. Even better when the sheets have been freshly laundered...!)(Of course, I was brought up by a woman who went to nursing school and insisted our beds be made daily before we went to school in the morning -- WITH hospital corners, lol.)(Fortunately for me, dh is equally in favour of making the bed daily -- albeit considerably less enthusiastic about hospital corners, lol.)

There were some thought-provoking points made throughout the book, and I marked a couple of passages with post-it notes. From a childless-not-by-choice perspective, I was intrigued by Marche's theory that
The prevalence of the absent father distorts, in turn the perception of mothers. As fathers become symbolically vital  but physically absent, mothers are exalted beyond all reason and degraded beyond all sense:  the exaltation begins early, raising mothers to vertiginous, nauseating heights... (pp. 57-58) (emphasis mine)      
Final verdict: It was interesting in parts, dragged in others. The addition of Fulford's side commentary was an interesting touch, but I would have liked more of it. I gave it three out of five stars on Goodreads.

This was book #9 that I've read so far in 2017, bringing me to 38% of my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  Apparently that makes me 2 books behind schedule. :p  ;)  

Monday, June 26, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: "The Handmaid's Tale" season finale

** CONTAINS SPOILERS** 

Last night was episode 10, the season finale of "The Handmaid's Tale" on Bravo Canada. It ended exactly as the book did -- and if that was the end of the series, I would have been satisfied. I rather liked the ambiguity of the book's ending -- that we were allowed to form our own opinion as to whether June/Offred stepped into the darkness, or into the light, as she herself put it.

That said, I am looking forward to the next season. Generally, I don't like it when movie or TV adaptations of a book I loved make significant changes or expand beyond the original material. But so far, that's worked pretty well for "The Handmaid's Tale." The fact that Margaret Atwood is a "consulting producer" on the show is a good sign, I think.

The relationship between June/Offred & Serena Joy, the Commander's wife, was at the centre of this episode.  As usual, I swung between feeling sorry for (& empathizing with) Serena Joy and yelling "YOU BITCH!!"  at her on the TV screen, lol.  When Fred told her "Go to your room" and she left -- but not before telling him Offred's baby was not his and knocking the Scrabble board & pieces off his desk -- I was cheering her on. (Although, as even she herself admitted, she helped write some of the rules that are now used to oppress her.)(The look on Fred's face when he hears that Warren's wife asked for the harshest punishment for his extracurricular activities with Janine was priceless. You could almost hear him thinking, "Uh oh...")  I could even understand her hurt over discovering that Fred had been taking Offred on "outings" beyond the monthly "ceremony" (although it didn't seem fair to take it out on Offred as she did).

But when she showed June/Offred her daughter -- while June/Offred was locked in the car, screaming & clawing at the windows -- able to look at, but not to touch or speak to her daughter -- and then cooly got back into the car & resumed her knitting with the threat, "As long as MY baby is OK, yours will be OK too"  -- she deserved every curse word that June hurled at her through the window (along with the ones I was shouting at the screen, lol). (That was something that went beyond the book material... I remember Serena Joy showing Offred a photo of Hannah, but not making any explicit threats.)

For me, one of the key lingering images from this episode was Serena Joy prostrating herself on the floor in front of Offred's developing pregnancy test, praying for a positive result. OK, I know many of us have prayed over a pee stick ourselves. ;)  But it brought home to me her desperation to have a child, and how high the stakes were. In a world where women are only valued for their fertility and their relationship to the men in their lives (if Serena Joy weren't married to the Commander, what would her status be in Gilead??), what else is there for her?  If you want to put it in the Biblical language used by Gileadeans (terminology??), it struck me that Serena (& Gilead) had made an idol (a false idol?) of fertility, of pregnancy (albeit not of the handmaids themselves, who were endowed with these powers & carrying these babies...), & was worshipping at its feet. Isn't that something of a sin itself?

I was also struck by the scene where Fred comes to Serena as she is setting up the bassinet in the nursery (already!! -- the pee stick is barely dry...) and promises her that once the baby is born and Offred is sent away to her next handmaid posting, "we'll be a family."  This is something that Janine shouted to Commander Warren as she teetered atop the bridge in the last episode: that he promised her they would take the baby & run away together and "be a family." In Gilead terms -- and in the minds of many today, still -- "family" equals man, woman & child (preferably children, plural). A couple alone is not considered a "real" family. A woman is not a "real" woman if she doesn't have a child.

Gilead may be a fictional creation -- but as Atwood said when she wrote it (30+ years ago!), everything in it has happened somewhere in the world at some point in history. And it's still happening today (more than ever, it seems, in some ways), even in North America.

This is beyond a "microblog" post, but it's what I'm thinking about today. ;) Have any of you been watching? Thoughts?  (Any Emmy nomination/award predictions?? -- I think there are quite a few deserving performances here, most especially Elisabeth Moss as June/Offred.)

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