Thursday, 14 January 2021

Day Three O Eight

This morning at 12:01am the Province of Ontario was ordered into yet another strict lockdown due to alarming numbers of Covid infections and deaths. In the words of Premier Ford, "Stay at home!" Currently in Ontario there have been 230,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths, mainly in care homes for the elderly. Positive tests are going up by more than 3,000 a day.

We can go out for daily exercise, walking the dog (I don't have a dog), medical appointments, going to work, shopping for essentials. But of course everyone has a different opinion of what is essential. I made sure I had lots of groceries all ready for this. And library books. And art supplies.

The sun came out for the first time in a week today, so I took the opportunity to go for my permitted exercise. It was so quiet.... no traffic noise, hardly anyone about. A couple of dog walkers, that's all. I could have walked down the middle of the road quite safely. (But I didn't!)

This week.... my old breadmaker bit the dust so I ordered a new one. Haven't made bread in it yet, but I will soon, looking forward to it!

And once I bake the bread, I'll have something to spread on it. I was complaining here about the lack of Marmite in the local grocery stores, and blogger emeritus EC in Australia answered the call, sending me a jar of the precious gooey black stuff. Then I mentioned it to one of my British cousins, and guess what appeared in my mailbox last week. So now I can do a taste comparison..... Red top is Australian (actually made in NZ) and yellow top is British. Two Marmite fairies..... thank you!

And there is still a lack of Marmite on Canadian store shelves!

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Day Two Ninety Nine

It's Day 299 today, I've been keeping track of the days on my calendar since Covid took over our lives. Positive test numbers are going up here, another 14 positive tests registered in our small town yesterday, making 74 reported in the last 7 days. That might seem a small number, but high when I consider that the majority of people seem to be following the rules, wearing masks, sanitising hands, keeping the correct distances. But there are sure to be more infections after careless holiday gatherings, and the hospitals are filling up.

One bright light in all this is the arrival of various vaccines. At risk seniors in care homes and their carers and hospital staff are being vaccinated first. I have no idea when my turn will come, but as I was watching the National News yesterday, I counted 31 images of arms receiving a needle... and I only watched the 1 hour broadcast for 30 minutes. Too many needle images! I am hoping the next arm I see with a needle sticking into it is mine!

Abject apologies to any blogger who has left a comment on this blog and wondered why it never appeared. I recently found over 300 comments that somehow got missed, no idea how, blogger seems to have hidden them, anyway, I reinstated them, well, the ones that weren't spam. Some were from a couple of years ago. They used to show up in my email but now they don't. Weird.

And on a lighter note, I saw Mickey out on the street yesterday. He was feeling chilly but enjoying the sun.

Friday, 1 January 2021

2020 books

Back in March 2020 when I heard a rumour that the local Library was closing due to the Covid pandemic, I rushed with my library card in my hand and took out as many books as I could carry. I didn't even have time to choose titles, I just grabbed from the shelves before the doors closed.  Some of those books are on this list, and helped keep me sane and busy. The Library re-opened in August thankfully, but with reduced capacity and lots of hand sanitizing and mask rules. But now we're back into lockdown again until at least January 23. 

January 2020
Leaving Van Gogh - Carol Wallace
The Post Birthday World - Lionel Shriver
The Art Forger - B. A. Shapiro
North Korea Journal - Michael Palin

February 2020
We need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
The Flight Attendant - Chris Bohjalian
The Mandibles, a Family 2029-2047 - Lionel Shriver (I think everyone should read this after experiencing Covid-19 lockdown)
The Juggler's Children - Carolyn Abraham

March 2020
Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick
The Mighty Franks - Michael Frank.  (DNF)
Arthur and Sherlock - Michael Sims
The Hotel Neversink - Adam O'Fallon Price
Finders Keepers, A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession - Craig Childs

April 2020
Waiting for Tom Hanks - Kerry Winfrey (DNF, a bit too silly and juvenile)
A Madness of Sunshine - Nalini Singh
Cover of Snow - Jenny Milchman

May 2020
The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway (great book)
The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R King
The Truth According to Us - Annie Barrows
Skizzer - A J Kiesling (predictably silly but I finished it)
The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd (loved this book)

June 2020
Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo (absolutely loved this book, I read it twice)
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (another book that I loved so much that I read twice!)
Being a Beast, Adventures Across the Species Divide - Charles Foster (very weird)
Salem Falls - Jodi Picoult
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
A Spark of Light - Jodi Picoult

July 2020
Oil and Marble - Stephanie Storey
Bridge of Clay - Markus Zusak
Girl - Edna O'Brien
The Wall - John Lanchester
Liberation - Imogen Kealey (very ho-hum)

August 2020
The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel (third in the trilogy)
Night Boat to Tangier - Kevin Barry (DNF)
If I Had Your Face - Frances Cha
Capital - John Lanchester

September 2020
Reservoir 13 - Jon McGregor
The Other Americans - Laila Lalami
Futureface - Alex Wagner
The Genius Plague - David Walton

October 2020
The Memory Police - Yoko Ogawa
Orhan's Inheritance - Aline Ohanesian
The Walk - Richard Paul Evans
My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me - Jennifer Teege
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel (apocalypse after a pandemic.... very timely! Good story too.)
Accordion Crimes - E Annie Proulx (I read this years ago, just as good the 2nd time)
A Day Like Any Other, The Great Hamptons Hurricane of 1938 - Genie Chipps Henderson

November 2020
Seven - Farzana Doctor (terrific book)
The Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWitt
Such a Fun Age - Kiley Reid
The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes
The Sleepwalker - June Callwood (true story)
The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen - Syrie James

December 2020
Between - Angie Abdou
The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert (Liked this book)
The Eavesdroppers - Rosie Chard (rather odd)
The Vacationers - Emma Straub
The Mothers - Brit Bennett
Stutter's Casebook, A Junior Hospital Doctor 1839-1841 - E.E.Cockayne and N.J.Stow (transcription of Dr. Stutters notes regarding his patients, their illnesses and treatments while he was a junior doctor in Suffolk, UK..... fascinating reading, and edited by a dear cousin who sadly passed away earlier this year.)

Currently steadily plodding through The Murder of Cleopatra, History's Greatest Cold Case - Pat Brown. Interesting but it's taking me a long time. I'll finish it in 2021.

For a list of books I read in previous years, click on Books at the end of this post.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

In Between

We're in the bit in between Christmas and New Year. The time when we normally visit friends, or take the kids to a Holiday movie, or crowd the stores looking for end of year bargains, or go to a hockey game, or a football game... but this year is very different. The area where I live is in lockdown. People are encouraged to stay at home, and only go out for essential shopping or for exercise. 

Christmas Day was very quiet for me... I was at home all day, and had a very short but welcome visit from OlderSon and family.... fully masked, and following the rules. Just enough time for tea and a cookie and a little gift exchange and then they were off home to their own Christmas. 

But a friend dropped by on Boxing Day with a gift of some fresh figs.... lovely!

I was able to spend an early Christmas with YoungerSon and family a week ago at their country property before the lockdown started. We had a Christmas dinner, presents under the tree, lots of chocolate and snacks, and played our traditional party games. I played far too much Monopoly, Catan and Scrabble. 
One of my special gifts this year was from grandie Isaac. Now that the family has moved to a home 1-1/2 hour drive away, he doesn't see me very often, so he documented all the happy memories of growing up and visiting my house.
Then he said "Turn them over, Nana!"
A thoughtful gift full of love, treasured forever!
Their country property has a large tree.... species yet to be determined.... and the kids have nailed a home made ladder to the trunk and fixed up a tire swing, so I made some sketches and then some lino cut printing plates and now this masterpiece is hanging on their wall. 

Only a few more days until the year 2020 is history, people the world over will be glad to see it go. Lots of optimistic hopes for 2021.... getting the vaccine, being able to gather with family again, restarting activities that have been cancelled, trying to live a "normal" life. This is one occasion where the special words HAPPY NEW YEAR really mean a lot!

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Almond Crescents and Holiday Greetings

I haven't done much baking this Christmas due to nobody available to do the eating. Thanks, Mr. Covid!  But I did make almond crescents. Blogger Boud sort of challenged me to post pictures. She made some and they looked really good so here are mine. Not perfect but soooooo delicious! A definite Christmas tradition in my house.

I'll be on my own this Christmas Day, but that's OK with me. I spent 4 crazy days with YoungerSon and family last week and we had our Christmas dinner and party around the tree, presents, and chocolates and board games and Pass-the-Parcel and Consequences (gotta play those games every Christmas or it's not a proper Christmas). Great fun.

I'll be seeing OlderSon and family on Christmas Day for a physically distanced dog walk (weather permitting, there's a nasty storm headed this way) and perhaps we can sit in the garage and enjoy coffee and some of the famous almond crescents and exchange gifts. A weird Christmas, but necessary. The whole Province of Ontario is going into Covid lockdown for 28 days starting on Boxing Day. Infection numbers are steadily rising and hospitals are filling up. The vaccine is on order and I can't wait for my turn. So we have to be sensible and follow the rules.

Meanwhile..... happy holiday season to everyone, whether you can be with your loved ones or apart.... whether you celebrate Christmas or not.... and let's keep our hopes up for a Covid-free, peaceful and healthy 2021!

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

This Week

Well, I'm sad to report that my region is back into Covid lockdown as of Monday morning. All non-essential stores have to close but can offer curb pick up or delivery. Restaurants and coffee shops too, and gyms, hairdressers, museums, theatre, everything that we all used to consider part of normal life. But the big stores like Walmart and Costco can still open, because they sell food, but can also sell everything else, while the family owned shops have to close. It's not right!

I cut the Christmas cake I made into quarters, and covered each one with almond paste, or marzipan. There should be a layer of royal icing on top, but that's even more sugar which is just too much. Family will be getting some of these.

We had an overnight snowfall a few days ago, and the trees looked very pretty for a while, until the temperature rose and all the snow melted. You can see where the treerats have knocked the snow down along the squirrel highway.
Last year at this time I took part in an ATC trading event.... ATC = Artist Trading Cards 2.5"x3.5"..... I wrote about it here and showed pictures of the cards here. We met at a local Art Gallery for the afternoon, it was a bit crazy with everyone exchanging cards and trying to add the best cards to their collections, but so much fun.
Of course, 2020 and Mr Covid has put a stop to any in person events, so one of the artists organized a physically distanced remote ATC exchange . 18 people agreed to make cards, and we dropped them off at her house, along with a small donation to the local food bank. She sorted them, and made sure everyone got at least one card from each artist.

Here are a selection of the cards that I received, already filed into their plastic storage pages. Little tiny works of art.  This was such a welcome creative distraction in an otherwise gloomy time. I hope that by next year we can do this in person.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

The Triangle Project

Since July, our local art gallery has been building this 8' long panel full of colourful triangles. Anyone in the community was invited to do some art, make some shapes, paint some colours, create some collage, all on triangles the same size and drop them off at the gallery.

It's finally complete... and I can't wait to see it in person, Sadly, I'll have to wait until after January 10, as our Region has been ordered into Covid lockdown again, so the gallery will be closed. Some lovely stuff here, provided by almost 60 different artists. A community project.

Yes, some of the triangles are from me, I am not going to say which ones.