Saturday, March 27, 2021

Howdy, (Virtual) Neighbor!

 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  I'm going to be honest with you. I've spent the past week trying to move ahead with spring cleaning. Monday was taking Youngest to and from Orono for her penultimate orthodontist visit, a two and a half hour trip each way. Tuesday, meeting with my accountant (and teaching my community college class.) Wednesday, I spent a most of the day driving around southern Maine, helping one of my "foster" daughters to buy a new-to-her car. She got an amazing one, a ten year old BMW coupe with 150000 miles for five grand! Yes, vetted by a mechanic.

 Then Thursday and Friday were spent catching up on grading (and teaching another class) because the midterm grades were due at ten pm and I'm STILL not done and now I'm writing this at 11:00 on Friday evening and, in the hip phrase of a few years ago, I Just Can't.

 I particularly can't think of anything interesting or witty. Hours of explaining comma splices and independent clauses will do that to you. So instead, let's all use today as an opportunity to catch up. I'll start:

Things are going well, although obviously busy. I'm working on the next book, and though I'm not as far as I (or my agent and editor) would like, it's moving along. I haven't gotten my vaccination yet, but Maine just opened up the list to 50 year olds, so after I get the grades in, I'm going to go online and sign up at as many places as possible. 

 

The Maine Millennial, having gotten her two shots, is back to dating again, and meeting some very nice young men via Tinder, which has become THE dating marketplace, thanks to Covid. You can find out all about it, and I do mean all, every Sunday in her column for the Portland Press Herald. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sailor is still down in Norfolk - thankfully so, because during the last cruise his ship went through the Suez canal, and I hate to think of him bottled up on either end of the CS Ever Given. He's not only back with, but is living with his delightful girlfriend Veronique, who's about to enter an intensive two year program to become a respiratory therapist. She's had the jab, and he's about to get his, so we're hoping for a family reunion when he can get leave. Maybe this spring, maybe the summer - you're never sure with the navy. They're talking about getting a dog, which I believe in this day and age is the equivalent of a betrothal contract in the 19th century. We shall see.


Youngest got an apartment last September so she didn't have to worry about the vicissitudes of the University of Maine opening and closing and opening. She's hanging fire at the moment, applying to internships without knowing if they'll be in person or virtual and considering travel abroad programs that may or may not take place. The one thing she does know is that U Maine will be opening up in person next fall, for a (please God!) normal senior year. And finally, after three years in braces and major jaw surgery, she's due to have the metal off in April! I may be more excited than she is. (She's pretty excited.) Also, after *mumblemumble* attempts, she passed her drivers test, which means she's ready to take possession of my sister's old Honda CRV. We used to pass out kids clothes back and forth, now it's cars.

 

Life in Maine continues to be just about The Way It Should Be. How are things in your neck of the woods?

112 comments:

  1. Sometimes I’m a bit amazed at how easily things seem to move along in spite of everything . . . things are quiet here, sort of same old, same old. We’ve both gotten our second shots, so I’m happily planning to spend some time in Virginia enjoying family time and getting grandbaby hugs . . . .

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    1. Yay! One thing I hope we NEVER forget after we've gone back to normal (or normal-ish) is how this pandemic has highlighted what is truly important in our lives: family and friends.

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  2. SADLY, Ontario is in the third wave of COVID, with cases surging again above 2000 cases/day in the province after we seemed to have tamed the January-February second wave peak. With over 55% of the new cases being caused by the variants, the exponential growth of cases is beating the battle over vaccines. We are still in phase 1 of vaccinations, with people 75+ and over being allowed to book appointments.

    Although the timeline for getting vaccinated has accelerated from the August/September timeline I mentioned earlier this year, people in my age group (55+) won't get the FIRST SHOT until late June/early July. The administration of the second shot is being delayed for most up to 4 MONTHS later to try to give more adults some protection.

    Ottawa relies heavily on tourism and international/out-of-town visitors. My neighbourhood, the historic Byward Market has just started coming back to life with the eclectic small businesses and restaurant/pub patios opening up early after a long winter. But if the exponential growth in new COVID cases continues to accelerate, I see us going back to GRAY stay-at-home lockdown mode again (sigh). Thank goodness solo daily exercise is still allowed until those conditions, or I would go batty this spring.

    So besides the myriad of free online events I watch each week, I have also signed up for PAID virtual events such as UK's Locked Up Festival in April and More Than Malice in July. I am stoked about the virtual Malice since I have not attended the in-person Malice Domestic convention since 2002.

    So it looks like I am not leaving Ottawa except via my laptop screen for a long time to come.

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    1. GRACE: the variants are really scary and I vacillate between being resigned to a wicked third wave and being annoyed/angry at how slow our vaccine rollout is across Canada. Grrr.

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    2. Grace: in Quebec, we seemed to do fine but the variants cases are going up this week, very annoying.

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    3. AMANDA: It's scary that more people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are ending up in the hospital ICU with these variant cases. The third wave is expected to be worse than the second and yet Ontario and Quebec have announced they will be loosening some restrictions. Not the greatest decision, IMHO.

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    4. Agreed, GRACE and DANIELLE.

      See Gigi's comment below re. pinheaded politicians...we have them here, too.

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    5. Yes, poor decisions and confusing messaging from our politicians is certainly not helping the situation.

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    6. Grace: sorry your area is still facing this.

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    7. DRU, I am resigned to the situation. I will probably cancel my NOLA Bouchercon registration soon.

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    8. I've decided to cancel mine, too.

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    9. Grace, I wish you could sneak over the border to New York and get your shots! Not having them available to 55+ year olds until late June is crazy. I know there are a lot of people in Ontario, and a lot of spread-out population, but NY is bigger by a few million and they've already gotten at least one shot into 28% of their people (I follow the state news because I have family and friends there.)

      I'm sorry you're having to cancel your outdoor/travel plans.

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    10. JULIA: I just checked the live vaccine tracker. Only 2% of Ontarians have received both shots, and almost 11% have received their first shot with that projected 4-month delay to get shot #2. It's a vaccine supply issue.

      I was holding out hope of going to NOLA Bouchercon just because the 2016 convention was in my top 3 Bouchercons. I have been going to Bouchercon since 1993, so missing it for 2 years in a row is just plain weird and bums me out.

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    11. Oops, that should have read 1992, not 1993. I attended the first Toronto Bouchercon and got hooked ever since.

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  3. I'm glad you and all the offspring are well and moving along, Julia.

    We got our second shots yesterday. One of us (him) is currently downstairs under a blanket with flu symptoms. I feel a touch punky (as my father used to say) but pretty much fine, so I'm upstairs getting my hour of checking out my cyber world before I continue to add words to the first draft of novel #29 (I think).

    In exactly two weeks I plan to get a real haircut (just in time for a book launch!) and have a maskless girl party with my fully vaccinated women friends.

    My son and his wife in western MA have survived a year of working from home, often in the same office, even sweeter together than before. A good sign for their young marriage! They can get shots after mid-April and I can't wait to be able to have them overnight again, or go out and explore the Northampton area for a few days.

    Young son in Puerto Rico is happy with his sweetie and doing great service work.

    So, we're all good, too. Well, I'm as fat as they come, but hey, it's been a pandemic, right?

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    1. Edith: I read somewhere this week that the average American has put on two pounds over the pandemic. Well. Let me assure you that this Canadian is well above that average American with her pandemic pounds. Sigh.

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    2. EDITH: The haircut and in-person book launch are positive steps towards normalcy. I'm glad you're feeling mostly ok after the second shot, and I am sure Hugh will be up-and-back to normal soon.

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    3. How wonderful to know that your son and his bride have rubbed along so well this past year. I agree that is a good omen for their future.

      I'm getting my first non-self haircut, too, this week. We will be new women, Edith!

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    4. Edith: I'm glad things are moving at a good pace for you.

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    5. Amanda, someone in America has LOST weight to make up that average with me!

      Edith, glad so much is going so well for you and your family. Imagine your Massachusetts son fifty years from now, telling tales to his grandkids about his first year of marriage...

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    6. Amanda, that's 2 lbs/month!

      Thanks, Julia. This is their third year of marriage, but it has to have been a trial for any couple!

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    7. Yikes, that is a lot of pandemic weight gain in a year!

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    8. Confession, Julia, I may be the loser (10 lbs) who is making the average with you. Not enough exercise (muscle mass lost) and just not interested in eating when each and every meal has been just me. Waiting impatiently for the second shot in April. We can do this. :-)

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  4. Here in North Texas we have spring weather for real, just over a month past the Deep Freeze that saw (at last count) 111 people die--mostly from hypothermia. Yes, people froze to death in their own homes, in one of the wealthiest and most tech savvy states in America.

    The same pinheaded politicians who let that happen have now decided that it's okay to open up the bars and restaurants again, despite the fact that only 12% of our population has been vaccinated. Fortunately for me, the state opened vaccinations up to people over 50 at the beginning of March, so I was able to get my first shot March 19 and will get the second one on April 16--if everything goes according to plan.

    The Dallas Winds recruited a chamber ensemble, got COVID tested, and performed a live concert this past Tuesday at our musical home in the Meyerson Symphony Center. Our conductor and artistic director came up from Austin to conduct. It was the first time we've all been back together to perform in more than a year, and backstage all the talk was about "OMG! Look how long your hair is!!!!" (My last haircut was February 14, 2020.)

    On the home front, all my dogs need their annual vaccines, but I got my stimulus payment, so I can afford to have that done even though I'm still on half-pay. I lost all the plants on my plant stand to the freeze, but my roses are really thriving and the clematis is covered with buds. I'm chipping my way through the most horrifying, badly written RFP for work, but yesterday I wrote four new pages in the next Deep Ellum story, and I have the whole weekend ahead of me. So, on the whole, I'm happy!

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    1. Oh wow: a live concert! How wonderful that must have been...

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    2. GIGI: I am you and the Dallas Winds got to perform. Ottawa was going to try a test live concert next week with 100 spectators getting rapid COVID tests. But we moved from ORANGE TO RED restrictions which lowered the allowed # of people outdoors from 100 to 25, so they cancelled it.

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    3. Gigi: that is so cool about the live concert.

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    4. Just found out Opera Maine will be doing a live performance of L'elisir d'amore this summer (chosen for its brevity and small cast.) Still waiting to hear about the Portland Symphony Orchestra, among many others. I so miss live performances.

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    5. The concert was strange. Like Grace said, we had to limit the number of people in the audience and everybody had to be masked, so we only had 145 people in a 2,000 seat house. We did live-stream it, and I believe the video is available through Sunday if anybody is interested. We plan to try it again on April 24, but who knows what the COVID situation will be by then, with all the open bars and restaurants.

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    6. GIGI: But at least your concert was indoors. The aborted Ottawa live concert was going to be outdoors in late March! The temperatures in the evening are still in the 30s. All indoor concert performances are still virtual here.

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    7. Gigi, I know you must have been thrilled about the concert. It's such a ray of sunshine in this past dark year, and a promise that the arts have survived the pandemic.

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  5. Things are trundling along here on the Canadian Prairies: one year plus since I started working from home and it's the new normal. I've had haircuts in my "beautician's" single-seat home salon, I've been grocery shopping and on Monday I'll have my first in-person routine doctor's appointment. All while masked. But no vaccine yet. In Manitoba we're still at 65+. My partner gets her first jab on Wednesday: yay!

    The day job continues to take up a full five days a week, but retirement is on the summer horizon so that's exciting. And I continue to hope that my mum (she's had both shots) will be able to come for her usual (but missed last year) visit to the cottage in July.

    Life goes on.

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    1. AMANDA: Yay for your partner getting her first vaccine this week, and I hope you are looking forward to your upcoming retirement. Enjoying the cottage in the summer with your mum would be a move towards some normalcy.

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    2. I’m glad that you are excited about your retirement horizon Amanda.
      I’m confident you’ll appreciate it, you’ve prepared for so long now.
      If the pandemic can be controlled, it will be even better.

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    3. Life does indeed go on, with a lot of hope for the future and rising expectations. A summer visit to the cottage sounds wonderful.

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  6. Spring is making a valiant attempt up here on the taiga, the grass is green, and the lilacs are in bud. The weather varies from a balmy 70 something to a chilly 30 something, just the usual stuff. Yesterday I got my first look at my new ankle, incisions healed and now suture free, splint into the trash, and I'm now sporting a knee high black boot. Still no weight bearing for another four weeks, but I've got the moves down, and we will manage.

    Our pandemic puppy, Sgt. Pepper, is now ten months old, and he's pure pleasure to have around. The rumor that he caused the Suez Canal blockage by chewing on the Ever Plugged is just that, an ugly rumor. Speaking of the blockage, whoever thought something like that would happen or have such an international impact?

    I signed up for Malice and very excited about it. These virtual events have kept me sane. More or less.

    Holy Week begins tomorrow, and we are planning to renew an old tradition of watching "The Last Temptation of Christ" in the afternoon after virtual church in the morning. If you've not seen this, you should. We think it's brilliant. Just don't tell the Vatican or you'll be branded a heretic.

    I hope your Passover seders were wonderful and that your Palm Sunday is heralded in by bagpipes.

    Much love from Rochester.

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    1. Oh, and the really big news is that pot is being legalized in New York. I, koff koff, always wanted to, koff koff, try some.

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    2. The big debate here is whether to legalize recreational pot. I don't know. If Massachusetts and New York legalize it, we really can't hold out. The police are worried about how to prove impaired driving and that is a big issue. States that have legalized recreational pot have many more accidents. We'll see.

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    3. REALLY? Well, not much has changed with pot becoming legal in Canada for a few years except for the cannabis shops popping up everywhere start in October 2019. Frankly, I don't see how these stores can compete, let alone thrive right now. We have lost 90% of our out-of-town visitors due to the pandemic. The locals can only buy so much pot to use!

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    4. TO ADD to my last sentence above, we have 5 cannabis shops within a 2-block radius in the Byward Market. No lineups now at any of these shops, too much competition. Ontarians can also buy their pot online at the government-run store.

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    5. SO many cannabis shops in the greater Portland area since Maine legalized! Hearing radio ads for pot will never cease to amuse me.

      Ann, if you and Julie haven't tried RISEN, I highly recommend adding it to your Holy Week rotation. It has great performances, a realistic depiction of the life and beliefs of Roman soldiers at the time, and it conveys the dizzying sense of unreality the witnesses to the resurrection must have experienced.

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    6. Ann, I hope the rest of your recovery goes as planned. You've had a long time of it.

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  7. Good morning. Things are quietly moving along in SE Michigan. I’ve had both jabs. My daughter who works in a grocery store got her first shot yesterday which means everyone going to the summer reunion will be vaccinated. I’m looking forward to going on all the day trips I didn’t get to do last year. Hopefully they will open the border to Canada. It’s so close!

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    1. Ann, it's such a relief when your kids get the shot, isn't it? (And this time, unlike when they were babies, you don't have to help hold them down while they scream angrily.)

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  8. My son and d-i-l arranged for several cousins to attend a zoom Kiddish last night and we spent an hour catching up. It has been a hard year for most everyone for different reasons. It was a really nice visit. Because it was already Shabbat, one close family we spend holidays with couldn't attend so Cristina is planning a mid-week zoom, a chocolate seder. We'll see.

    Several friends have called to catch up a bit and books are frequently the topic. My pal Anne, in Florida, called yesterday and was effusive in her praise of Paris is Always a Good Idea. Nicki, in Rhode Island also loved it. She has my copy. She is still making her way through all of Deb's series among the books which I sent to her last November. When she has gotten both shots, we'll meet in Mystic for a book exchange.

    I cooked for our seder yesterday and need to finish cooking and flip the dishes and one cabinet to Passover food. Then I'll be done.

    We are having new windows installed in our bedroom so everything has been moved out except our bed. The house is totally upside down. It would be terrific to be able to put it back together by next weekend. There is a bit of painting that must be done first.

    I love reading the blog to see what you are all doing. Have a great weekend.

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    1. What, pray tell, is a chocolate seder, Judy?

      And how do I sign up?

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    2. I agree with Karen! Please give us more details.

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    3. I'm curious, too! Is it like, chocolate with sea salt? Matzoh smeared with Nutella (OMG that would be amazing.)

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  9. I’m still healthy but worried about the variants going up.
    The good news is: the vaccine opened up to 65+ last week here and I got my appointment for the first shot on April 10th.
    I know it is for later but I’m looking forward to more normal times.

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    1. Danielle: The variants are worrying. I am hoping that most people will remain cautious and continue to follow the health advice re. masks and social distancing. The vaccines are a great step forward, but they do not protect everyone against everything...

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    2. DANIELLE: Good news that Quebec is moving faster with vaccinations.
      I also heard that Premier Legault is making all high school students attend in-person classes soon. I have some teacher friends who are already stressed out about their working conditions, so I hope this is not the wrong decision.

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    3. Grace: it begins Monday, we will see but with the variants, I’m not so sure.

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    4. Great news that you've gotten a date, Danielle! I agree, the variants are worrying. I'm double masking now when I'm in public - this morning, for instance, I'm going to the grocery and the bakery, and I'll be on high alert while I'm inside there. The UK strain is now supposed to be the predominant type of Covid in New England, and we've just had our first case of the Brazil variant, in a person who hasn't been traveling, which means it's already here. I'm confident the vaccines we have here will handle it - I just don't want to fall sick JUST as I'm nearing the finish line!

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  10. Congrats to you and your kids for surviving and thriving!

    All hands family Facetime last night for my husband's birthday, with full canine participation. Doesn't get any better: Opening day, deck gardening, and World Cup qualifying matches.

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    1. That sounds like a VERY good day, Margaret!

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  11. I love hearing about what is happening in everyone's lives! I feel I've really gotten to know you. Here is Schoharie County NY we have had a week of Spring and now things are more seasonal. I've had my first shot and the second one will be in less than 2 weeks. Right now I am dealing with family/financial problems which are very stressful but being able to get out and take my walk has helped.

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    1. Judi: glad the work is helping you relieve a little of the stress.

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    2. I'll echo what Dru said, Judi. One of the lovely things about spring - the lengthening light and the warmer weather is a bit of a stress reliever in and of itself.

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  12. Mostly good news from everyone, I'm happy to see. I fervently hope it stays that way for the Reds, and our Reds-adjacent pals.

    We are fully vaccinated, and now two weeks into immunity. I spent a treasured evening with three also-vaxxed girlfriends the other night, the first time we've been together inside in more than a year. My mother is coming to stay with us for a couple nights while my brother moves their joint household, and then we are flying (I know, scary!) to Portland to visit the daughter we've not seen since January 2020. The youngest daughter has bugged us to come visit in Kenya, but they just went into lockdown yesterday, so I'm not sure how that will happen anytime soon.

    The oldest daughter, who is fully vaccinated, and her family, who is not, were going to spend this weekend with us, but Michigan is having another big surge in cases, and at my grandson's school there were 11 kids with COVID this week. Another 160 are quarantined for exposure, so they decided to err on the side of caution and stay home. Christy is a nurse who manages employees of a large corporation; those with chronic conditions fall under her purview. Since October she's checked in daily with their COVID patients, and she says it's gotten very bad there. At least two of her patients have now had the virus twice.

    I'm still gardening, gardening, and trying to manage our possessions, which seem to multiply when I'm not looking. And then spread themselves all over the house. It doesn't help a bit that I've had more than 1,000 books donated to my LFL. Which holds about 50 books. I'm thinking of book bombing other Little Libraries, and/or building more houses to go with the one we have, each with a different theme. It can be a book village.

    Stay well, my friends.

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    1. KAREN: Good luck with your flight to Portland. I know you have been looking forward to reuniting with your daughter. The situation in Michigan sounds similar to Ontario with the surging cases of younger COVID patients in hospital. And it's scary to hear that Christy has seen patients who have becomes sick with COVID twice. That is my worst fear after getting sick last year.

      Happy gardening and good luck with your LFL.

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    2. Karen: Enjoy your upcoming trip. My first plane trip will be in August. It could be earlier once my mom gets her vaccination.

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    3. Scary in Michigan! Those variant strains worry me.

      Karen, I love your idea of a book village! And my first trip will be to see my dad in upstate NY. I did get to "see" him in October and November when dealing with cleaning out and selling his house, but that was Dad on his fourth floor balcony and me in the parking lot, talking on our phones. I haven't been in the same room with him since July 2019, so a visit is LONG overdue. Fortunately, it's driving rather than flying.

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  13. It is heartwarming to read everyone's news. Up here in the easternmost corner of the USA, a cover of warm weather has lifted our spirits. Although Victor and I are vaccinated and fully quarantined following the shot. Every time I say 'shot', Hamilton runs through my head, does that happen to you? Today is bright as Julia and I have a date with a surprise for you all for tomorrow. We have stayed quarantined from each other, and for us, the world since it got too cold last Fall for outside socializing. But my shot allows us to get cooking again. I promise something bright and delicious for Easter. I think that my memoir class has saved me over the past months. Being encouraged to write on a number of topics, some of which were painful, allowed me to let out some of the angst I was feeling. Right now the sun is out and after spectacular weather yesterday which over the course of an hour gave us torrential rains, thunder and lightening overhead, interspersed with sun and huge banks of Tide white cloud. But no rainbow. Julia had the rainbow at her house. Now I would love to pull out the deck furniture - but, but if I do we will have the late March, early April snowpocalipse. I remember going to church in NYC, on my first Easter Day here. aThe entrance doors were plain glass, and as I walked back down the aisle after communion, it was snowing! I had never in my life seen snow at Easter. Over 50 years in the US, I take snow for granted whenever it appears. No new pale Easter shoes for me, thank you.

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    1. Celia: I look forward to your surprise tomorrow!

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    2. Amanda, it's going to be a good one! And yes, I'm excited to go over to Celia and Victor's now they've gotten the jab. I'll keep my mask on, though, until I'm one of the happily immunized.

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    3. Celia, so glad you and Julia are able to get together!

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    4. Celia, so glad you had that memoir class--sometimes writing it all out--no matter how painful at the time--brings healing. Enjoy the spring!

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    5. We had an Easter snow storm here in Texas back in 2005. The snow only lasted long enough for me to snap a few pictures, but it happened.

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  14. We had a couple to dinner last night. Inside! At a dining table! We are all vaccinated and it felt so free and wonderful. But also reminded me what hard work dinner parties are!

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    1. Oh, my gosh, Rhys, that sounds so...naughty! Like going to a speakeasy in the 1920s. With bare faces and everything? Shocking.

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    2. We are fully vaccinated but haven't had anyone in our house yet. It just seems...weird, after a year.

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  15. Doing fine! We're fully vaccinated, and wary. We're waiting for the ducks. We're watching the crocuses. Waiting for Grandson 1's college acceptances--SO TENSE! (But he's accepted at a few wonderful places, so it's all gravy.) But I have never seen him so tense! What a rite of passage.
    Dinner parties. Yikes. The good news and the bad news...xoxooo But anything normal is good. I am going to the dentist and SO excited!

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    1. Hank: I've never been excited about going to the dentist.

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    2. Can you imagine what you would have thought is someone in March of 2019 had told you, "You're going to be super excited to be able to go to the dentist." You'd think they were crazy!

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    3. HANK: I have been to the dentist twice already. I go every 3-4 months, and their gowned/masked/HEPA filtered office setup is the most prepared setting I have been to so far. Hope your dentist appointment is stress-free.

      I was actually surprised that dentists, hygienists and a whole other group of medical professionals are just becoming eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase 1 in Ontario.

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    4. I need to make that hygiene appointment, and some other check-ups.

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    5. Hank! The mallard ducks have returned to the drainage ditch in suburban Cincinnati. Where are FLo and Eddy?

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    6. My duck pool date of March 31 is still in the running, but I am getting worried.
      C'mon Flo and Eddy!

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    7. Hank's duck pool is one of the most fun things about March heading into April!

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    8. Aww..reading all of these. Yes, I am so semi-amused about being happy to go to the dentist. BIZARRE. Know what else? Mammogram! Bone density scan. YAAAY! SIgh.
      And yes, where are FLo and Eddy??

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  16. Things are moving along. Went grocery shopping in person. Felt good to be outdoors for the brief moment. Get second vaccine dose in two weeks. Will learn next week when I start radiation treatment. On the plus side, I think I got a little bit of my reading mojo back.

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    1. Dry, I just spoke with a friend who finished with her second shot, and she said it felt like a weight she hadn't even known was there had suddenly rolled off her. I hope it's the same way for you. Keep us up to date on the radiation treatment, okay?

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    2. DRU: Good news for you about the vaccines and am sending your positive healing vibes and thoughts about your radiation treatment. The in-person grocery shopping must have felt a bit weird, but I hope it went well. And yay about your reading mojo. Mine is still far from normal. Goodreads has kindly let me know that I am 32 books behind schedule to meet my 2021 reading challenge.

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    3. Dru, you are in my thoughts daily, dear friend. I'm glad your reading mojo is finding its way back to you. xoxo

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  17. My old library boss used to say “life is full and rich” when the to do list got overly long. I’d say your life is very full and rich, Julia! Great to see the smiling faces of your not so littles! Have a great weekend, everyone!

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    1. That's a good thing to remind myself, Jenn. Thank you.

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  18. I'm about to get dressed and then off to church to make Palm Crosses. We are having outdoor, at a distance church tomorrow, first time this year, and we can sing! Of course we are still masked but it's a step toward a much more familiar way of life. I've discovered a lilac bush next to my drive way. The few plants that were here when I moved in, are so leggy that until something blooms I have no idea what came with the house. The sun is out in, baseball starts on Thurs and they are talking about opening Oracle Park with limited numbers of fans. Not that I'll be going but in June, the plan is for me to visit my sister and family in Eugene. ..... Oh my, the news put up a story about Pepsi and Peeps.....Peeps flavored Pepsi. I kid you not! Okay, I think it is time to go make crosses.

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    1. I saw that story about the Peeps-flavored Pepsi, Deana! Surely a sign of the end times if there ever was one.

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  19. I love reading these catch-up posts! Julia, seeing your face, and your kids, made me so happy!
    We have both been fully vaccinated for a month now, and it does make you feel as if a huge weight has been lifted. I've done some errands--Costco, twice!!!--and the outdoor garden centers. Front porch wine with Gigi and our other wine-party friend. Our kiddos are moved out of the house next door and finally into their new house and I have been able to visit and hang out with my granddaughter, which is just the best thing ever.

    Everything is greening up here in North Texas, but we are still anxiously watching to see if some things survived the The Big Freeze. Cross your fingers for my fig tree.

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    1. We're all discovering it really IS the little things in life that bring you joy. Fig trees are super biblical, so this is a good week to add them to our prayers :-)

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  20. Julia, I am impressed with all of your work. I was so proud of myself for cleaning out or rather starting to clean out a closet but then I realized that I was going to have to put all those neatly packed wool clothes in the storage room because I had waited too late to take them to the Thrift Store. I an take all of the cotton clothes but they don't have room for the wool now. But on the other hand they are out of the closet!
    Here in Atlanta Spring is well underway. The daffodils are gone, the tulips are full, and the cherries are almost done. We are expected to reach 80' today. However with the warm weather comes the threat of tornadoes. As you may have read we got hit yesterday and are expecting more tomorrow. As someone who has had the two houses I lived in during my marriage both hit by a falling tree, I am a little gun shy. Living on the 15th floor of a condo is reassuring.
    I am excited to hear that you are working on a new book! Please know that whenever you have it ready, your readers will be happy.
    We have had our shots and have been to dinner at the home of friends and it was wonderful. I will go to church on Easter with those same friends, sitting outside and only 50 of us at each service.
    Sadly Georgia is in the news again. It's a rollercoaster of embarrassment in this state. First we do the right thing with the election, then they take it away. If I wasn't too old I might move.

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    1. Oh, Atlanta, I know. I alternate between wincing and fuming when I read the news. As a half-southerner (my father's family is all Alabamian and I spent a chuck of my childhood there) I know there are millions of progressive people in the south who want justice and equality. But that's not what the rest of the world sees.

      On a lighter note, we should be opening up for tourism in Maine this summer, and if you came to visit, you can donate your woolens here! Our shops take them any time, because you're never far away from wool season this far north...

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    2. That is the thing about spring, isn't it? It's tornado season. I've been watching and worrying about friends in Alabama and Georgia these past two weeks, but so far, so good. I hope you are able to stay safe as well.

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  21. Still waiting for my turn to get my COVID vaccine. Looks like we will get the vaccine in April in California.

    Still behind on my novel in progress and book reviews. I was thinking about Michelle Obama talking about having a nightmare about procrasinating and I'm living that nightmare. Oh well.

    Diana

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  22. So good to see what everyone is up to as this year rolls on! I count myself fortunate to have gotten the Jantzen vaccine--one shot and I was done. Three weeks now since I was jabbed--still feeling stressed because one nephew is refusing to get vaccinated. Both nephews will be eligible on Monday, when Ohio opens up vaccination to 16+. But two sisters have gotten the vaccination, so we are closer than ever to getting together again!

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  23. And 'Autumn' is actually Flora--hate when the computer decides who I should be!

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  24. So good to hear how all of you are doing. We do seem to be gaining steam again; nice. Julia, thanks for sharing photos, especially the Sailor with the new grand dog.
    In Tampa we are moving closer to a northern summer. It is 86 degrees outside with a blessed 55% humidity. I just got back from a work day at my Meditation Center. It was grand seeing everyone, all masked, and mostly vaccinated. On Nome Street, my daughter could qualify for an early vaccination (medical condition) but has chosen to remain sequestered. The other news for me is I have been accepted into a program that will result my being Ordained into a Buddhist Order for lay people who practice engaged Buddhism. The period of study will take between 12 to 36 months depending on the flow. My cochlear implant continues to amaze me. Today my hearing aid stopped working. The implant allowed me to understand conversations, even masked conversations. Life is grand.

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    1. Coralee, I'm so excited for you!

      Hope you see this.

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    2. Congratulations on all of that, Coralee!

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  25. I'd say all is well with you, Julia - now hurry up with that book. I'm missing Clare and Russ.

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  26. Nothing too exciting going on here. My son got his first covid shot at the VA this week. Little brother got scheduled for his first one next week. Hooray! Now if I could get granddaughter fixed up it'd be perfect! I am dreaming of a road trip but have some roadblocks to get past first: our tax return and two doctor appointments next month. Maybe the end of April we can hit the road. I want to do a little househunting in Virginia and South Carolina. It's a gray day here as we have another front coming in with rain. It is currently wildflower season and tornado season, and soon will be hurricane season. My sister sent me pictures of bluebonnets and a winecup from her pasture. So envious! My son is in the midst of securing a transfer in the Army Reserve. His current unit is absolutely idle, much to his chagrin. If things work out he'll be much more active and will also head out for new training. Fingers crossed. Granddaughter's class is currently doing decorations and sculpting in edible stuff. My waistline is happy she isn't bringing home baked goods anymore. Counting down. After this term ends she will have only two ten-week terms left before she graduates from culinary school.

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  27. I got my second jab on Thursday, so I'm feeling so much better about everything right now. My daughter and her husband get their second shots tomorrow. My husband is past the two week mark on his second shot. My son will hopefully get his first shot soon. I'm looking forward to hugging my granddaughter again on April 8th, my two week mark. Husband is gone until the middle of April as part of his work conducting a simulated training exercise at Ft. Leavenworth (he is supposed to completely retire anytime now, but I'll believe it when I see it). But, when husband gets back, we will have dinner with our daughter's family, and I feel safe going to see our son, too.

    I've been keeping my daughter's senior pug Lucy while they've been gone to see son-in-law's brother in Savannah. I will take her home today, as they are back home, too. I still won't get to hug granddaughter, but I will at least see her beautiful, joyful face. I've spoiled Lucy so much, I told Ashley that she will probably go through withdrawal from being with me.

    Julia, I always love hearing about your family. So much life being lived in your three kids. All are busy with their own path, and that's successful parenting there. I admire your spring cleaning efforts. Mine are still non-existent.

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    1. Congratulations on getting your second shot, Kathy, and on edging back toward normal.

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    2. Yay forgetting that second shot!

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  28. Ah college admissions, the grand anticipation! I was thinking about those and the good/bad that as adult we don't have as many affirmations of our hard work. That might be less so with authors who have similar anticipations of contracts and reviews. This year, we should all get A plus grades and gold stars for being sensible and surviving.
    Awaiting my second Moderna . . . what a slow four weeks, like waiting for Christmas as a child. Then begins cautiously venturing out a bit more, first to that list of doctor visits I've put off (and most understood perfectly) but yay! Still here! A haircut would be nice. My hair hasn't been this long since college. Eating in a restaurant? Maybe not quite yet, but I may add to the two I've trusted for takeout. Stay safe, y'all, and enjoy spring! <3 Thanks for writing all the books!

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  29. I was doing well until I got a stomach bug today. Still don't have my Covid shots yet but I'm signed up at 2 places. I'm enjoying the spring flowers but I would like to start to divide perennials soon. Stay safe and well.

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  30. Sorry to be late and nip in, but we are in CA visiting our grandkids and their parents and sooooo glad to see them all! xoxox

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  31. I live in Colorado & lived in Boulder for 25 years. So I'm not having a good week. At 8pm (mountain time) tonight there will be a 10 mins of silence, should you care to join in. Peace. #BoulderStrong

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  32. I feel for your youngest. I too had braces and major jaw surgery in my university years. I was wired shut for six weeks but the timing for that was summer and my employer held my job, so it could have been worse.
    Right now I'm still looking for a job after having lost my librarian job last June, but I know I'm not alone there. In my city there are apparently 200 library staff still laid off from the local system a year later.

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  33. Julia, I wish you all patience and good fortune with the grading. Did that for ten years but for the last three I only did it in the fall because writing and teaching just didn't work well together, even when I only had a couple of classes. If you have Blackboard, I highly recommend setting up Gradebook to do your calculations for you. (The students love being able to track their progress on it, too.)

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