As planned in my last post, we visited and did a tasting at my husband’s favourite winery, Burrowing Owl, where of course we ordered a case to be shipped home. Our reasoning is that we will drink wine over the course of the year, and it might as well be wine we really enjoy, rather than just what we pick up on the fly from the liquor store. (Despite our instructions that we wouldn’t be home until Saturday evening, they had it delivered Saturday morning! Hopefully, it won’t be a problem to have the delivery company bring it over again.)
Last Day at the Beach
It was a gorgeous day in the low- to mid-thirties (Celcius) and it was wonderful to have a nice slow start and then set up with all the essentials, including, of course, the view. (Notice Trevor peeking out from the side pocket!) This vacation is actually the most tanned I have been in years, and that’s with 50 SPF sun block! (I have very white, Irish-descent skin that burns easily.)
Our last evening away, we had a smorgasbord of all the leftovers from the week – barbecued chicken drumsticks, burgers, pizza from the winery restaurant, chicken tikka and daal from the family restaurant down the street, a bit of rib eye steak, and a salad. (Most of our meals were barbecued on our balcony, which was especially lucky with many of the restaurants closed down due to lack of staff from COVID travel restrictions.) We followed this with locally baked blueberry pie with ice cream. We always make sure to buy a couple of pies, but as it took us a while to find where the baker now sells her wares, we had to bring some home… last pieces of apple pie tonight!
View of the Lake/Verdant Land/Desert
As we left town, I took a couple of snaps that show the unusual contrast of the region. It’s desert country, complete with sage, but with a lake and land perfect for growing fruit, including grapes for wine.
A Bit of a Health Update
I’ve really been focusing on eating better, to lose weight, reduce my pre-diabetic-level blood sugar, and feel better. Before my vacation, I had just passed the 20-pound mark! (I think I only put on a pound or two while away, which should come off easily enough.) I’ve basically been cutting out sugar (including alcohol), cutting out high-glycemic carbs, and eating more protein. It’s taken me around 3 and a half months, but it has not been difficult and I am not really following a diet as such. Much better than when I was doing Weight Watchers. During the day, I eat a lot of apples, cheese, nuts, blueberries, eggs, and Greek yoghurt, and then in the evening I have a relatively normal meal (but no potatoes and pasta rarely and only if it is al dente, which apparently does not cause a glycemic spike), maybe followed by popcorn and/or dark chocolate with hazelnuts and stevia instead of sugar. I must confess, though, that I have not yet given up the cream in my coffee or my Starbucks half-caff, no-whip, iced mocha, but I have cut the mocha syrup way down and gone to skim milk.
I still haven’t quite figured out what is wrong with my hip and knees. While the X-rays do show that I have moderate arthritis in my knees and severe arthritis in my right hip, the new rheumatologist said that the pain I am describing in my hip is not from the arthritis. So, I have an appointment in a week so that he can examine me in-person, instead of virtually. Meanwhile, he also ordered a whole bunch more tests. I also started the GLA:AD program, a physiotherapist-delivered education and exercise program for arthritis, and was very “glad” to find that the first session helped a lot! Still, walking around on our vacation was not easy, and I feel like I slow everyone down. My son suggested that I get a cane, figuring that if I had something to lean on, I might be able to be more active and get my fitness level up. (I don’t know. I’m trying to not to look at the idea as “giving up”.)
Today I got my second shot of Pfizer! My husband got his second shot (Pfizer and then Moderna) two weeks ago, so he is good to go. I don’t think either of my sons have received their notice for their second shot yet, but a return to “normal” may be in sight! I don’t really think that “normal” will be the same as it was, though — I somehow don’t think that I will ever go back to being full-time in the office, when I now know that I can do most of my work from home! (Speaking of which, I spent 3 hours today catching up on my emails and preparing for the week. Nothing too stressful, just trying to reduce the stress to come.)
What I Read
- How Lulu Lost Her Mind by Rachel Gibson: A bit of a time-waster (“beach-read”) with a sense of humour and a dumb title that doesn’t really fit the book. Lou Ann (Lulu) has a business that requires a certain image and takes up all her time. She also has a mother (Patricia) with Alzheimer’s who has a habit of cuddling up to the men in her care homes — a habit that gets her kicked out and into the care of her busy daughter. When Patricia begs to be taken home to Louisiana to live out the rest of her days near her kin (who are buried in the family plot), Lou Ann reluctantly acquiesces. Their time together, with the help of a young nurse who for some reason is eager to pick up and leave home and a local (handsome, single, of course) restoration expert/handyman (that Patricia shamelessly flirts with), makes for a good read.
- That Summer by Jennifer Weiner: Jennifer Weiner is my favourite women’s fiction writer. She writes a book a year, just in time for summer reading. This book is really excellent. Very well-written. She has a wonderful way of writing women’s lives, friendships, and sexuality that is really believable and page-turning. (Last year’s book, Big Summer, was just not up to par, as she tried to weave a murder mystery into her story, which is really not her forte.) The story begins with a young teenage Diana, trustingly falling for a boy for the first time one summer on Cape Cod, culminating in a drink-fueled party on the beach. Next we are introduced to Daisy, formerly named Diana until her older husband in one of many acts of control “asked” her to change her name before they married. She begins to receive emails intended for another more glamourous and independent Diana who has an email address one letter off from Daisy’s. The two Diana’s meet and become friends, and the story’s fun begins. Which Diana is the young starry-eyed girl? What exactly happened that summer? What secrets are hidden and how do they connect to the past? The book explores how an event of the past can have lasting impact on the lives of both the women and the men who were, or are connected to, the young people on that beach. It also looks at prep school culture, as well as telling the story of Daisy’s rebellious non-conforming teenage daughter.
What I Watched
- Perfect Blue: This 1997 anime was recommended by my older son for my younger son and me to watch. It is about a pop star who decides to become an actress instead, much to the dismay of her fans. As her image becomes more mature (read, “nudity” and “scripted rape scenes”), there is a stalker who impersonates her online and seems to be everywhere. Her world becomes more and more out-of-control, as she (and also the viewer) has a hard time distinguishing between what is real and what is not. It is well-drawn and does an excellent job of portraying a descent into madness. We really enjoyed it and it held our interest until the end.
- Black Widow: My husband pre-ordered the movie on Disney+, so that we could watch it when it came out Friday night. We loved the movie. Scarlett Johansson is very good, as is Rachel Weisz, but to me it is really Florence Pugh’s movie. (I also loved her in Little Women.) It is slick in a good way, with great action sequences (although you do have to suspend your disbelief) and almost too many scenes with fire explosions behind the person walking towards the camera. It is exciting, but it is also very funny, with David Harbour (Stranger Things) doing a hilarious turn as a washed-up Red Guardian super-soldier. We are shown a lot of back-story for Johansson’s character, intertwined with that of Pugh’s character. And the movie keeps us guessing as to who are really the “bad guys” at any particular moment. Definitely worth seeing.
I have a few other books/shows on the go, too, and some that I finished before my vacation. With any luck, I’ll have some time to post again soon and to catch up on reading some blogs…. the next few days promise to be chock full of meetings and projects at work, though. But we’ll see. At least I now know that when I do have time and can clear my mind, I still enjoy the blogging world.