Covid. I thought we were finally beating this thing but nope, that Delta variant is kicking butt. Especially in Florida where our evil Governor DeSatan is working hard to make sure children are hospitalized and uneducated, and that our seniors all die. I am not being hyperbolic here. His largest donor makes tons of money off Regeneron, the monoclonal therapy being used to treat the disease. Then he donates big hunks of it to the governor’s PACs.
The governor issued an executive order that local school systems are not allowed to mandate masks or vaccines. So when a child gets Covid, his classmates and teacher need to quarantine. The executive order also forbids distance learning, so children don’t even have the Zoom option available. Luckily, some school districts have defied the governor and have mandated masks in school anyway, but the numbers are still bleak. As of 8/26/2021, Palm Beach County School District Reports 2,249 COVID Cases. “Roughly 4000 students are believed to be under a “stay home” order, meaning they are either infected with COVID-19, or may have been exposed.” That’s just one county after 13 days of school, and that’s with a mask mandate.
I was saddened to learn that my friend, Paul Lane, passed away.
I met Paul when he started working at the library with me. It was his second career; he had retired from a job in international sales and was bored. He was fluent in Spanish as his sales job took him to Latin America, and his wife was from Mexico. He worked full time at the library for many years, and finally retired for the second time a few years ago. But never one to sit around and do nothing, he volunteered with the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s department and wrote book reviews for my website.
Paul was an avid reader. We talked books for hours and hours (while working!) For many years, he refused to read any books in a series, but eventually he caved. Some of his favorite authors were Daniel Silva, David Rosenfelt, Steve Berry, Vince Flynn, Jeff Lindsay, Ben Coes, and so many more. He loved mysteries and thrillers and historical fiction, and when those were combined into one book, he was so happy!
Paul loved his wife and his family. While his life was cut short, his memory will live on.
Rest in peace, my friend. And thanks for all the reviews.
Made it through July! The heat is kicking butt all over the country. You know things are screwy when New York is hotter than south Florida and new heat records are being set in the Pacific northwest. That’s just wrong. My daughter will be visiting Seattle this month and I am hoping the weather cools off. In August. Is that even possible at this point? South Florida meteorologists are busy watching all the tropical storms and Floridians are hoping they pass us by. So far, so good but it is early times so we are ever vigilant. But interestingly, heat isn’t the big problem in south Florida because everything is air conditioned. It’s the places in this country (and the world) that aren’t used to the heat and don’t have the infrastructure in place where people are dying. The NYT had this scary yet fascinating piece: America in 2090: The Impact of Extreme Heat, in Maps
Can you believe summer is half over already? The days are flying by, probably because I’m not stuck at home 24/7. I’m still careful going out but I go to the supermarket and Costco and Target and just wear my mask. Yes, I’m vaccinated, but a lot of people in my area are not. As the pandemic and the Delta variant heat up, there has been about 10% breakthrough for vaccinated people ending up with Covid. Luckily, the vast majority are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, mild enough to keep out of the hospital. Something like 97% of hospitalized Covid patients have not been vaccinated. Not surprised here. It’s just mindboggling to me that people all over the world are literally dying because they can’t get the vaccine, and people here won’t walk down the street to the CVS or whatever and get a free shot, no waiting. Ignorance is not always bliss. Nowadays, it’s downright dangerous.
College classes start up later this month and I can’t wait to see all the students again! Lynn University is going back to full time on campus, and hopefully, it works. They are not requiring vaccines but cannot even if they wanted to because our idiot governor keeps passing laws making sure people are going to die here. So schools who did institute a vaccine mandate (like Nova Southeastern University) had to rescind it. I worry because college students are in the age group least likely to get vaccinated, and Lynn has a large (20%) international student population, some of whom didn’t have access to vaccines in their home countries. They have kept pretty good control of the situation over the past year, and I sincerely hope they continue to do so.
Just recently, the ladies room in the library where I work lost its paper towel dispenser. In its place? A high speed hand dryer. Those things are known to spread disease so it really seems like a horrible idea, especially during a pandemic. To be honest, I was really shocked at this decision. I have felt pretty safe at work. They installed plexiglass shields at the public desks, a huge air purifier on each floor of the library, and hired a special cleaning service to come through several times a day. But I haven’t seen the cleaners for weeks and now this germ machine. Guess I’ll drip dry on my way back to my office!
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Lines is suing Florida after the state banned vaccine passports, saying it cannot safely resume sailings without ensuring its passengers and crew are vaccinated against COVID-19. They are even considering pulling ships out of Florida. So far they are losing the battle, but hopefully if they get to the Supreme Court, they will win. The court, despite the Trump appointees, recently ruled that Indiana University can require vaccines so maybe the same will hold true for the cruise industry. They had horrific problems during the beginning of the pandemic. “Roughly one year ago, thousands of people were trapped on cruise ships just waiting to go home. They would spend weeks, some months, in tiny rooms with the world watching as the coronavirus became all too real.” https://fox40.com/news/local-news/a-look-back-stuck-on-cruise-ships-local-couples-relied-on-wavering-hope-as-covid-19-became-a-shocking-reality/
The CDC revised its evaluation of the mask situation in light of the ever-rising number of Covid cases and hospitalizations. They are now recommending even vaccinated people where masks indoors, and that all students wear masks when school starts. Here in Florida, that is right around the corner. Palm Beach County goes back August 10, they only gave those kids a 6 week summer vacation, which is probably for the best considering that the latest report shows kids lost at least 6-8 months of school last year and minorities are particularly hard hit. So masks, again. The CDC says it’s not necessary in areas where more people are vaccinated, so if you’re not sure, here’s a map:
My beautiful grandson is growing like crazy and is still the happiest baby ever! I miss him so much. Please indulge me…
Saw a story about this in the Washington Post and it made me cringe so hard! I did a little Googling and came across this on Yahoo Sports (seriously?) and just had to share:
A Pride & Prejudice -Themed Dating Show Is Coming to Peacock
July 7, 2021
This is hardly what Jane Austen had in mind when she wrote Pride & Prejudice! An overly formal, superficial, elaborately constructed, very public series of courtship rituals designed to create an advantageous match that will please an audience? Okay, actually, a dating reality show is exactly what Austen had in mind; this makes perfect sense.
“A heroine looking for her duke will sign up for the ultimate social experiment in romance. Transported to a Regency-style England, a group of eligible hopeful suitors will have to win the heart of our heroine, and her court. Housed in a castle on the countryside, set on a beautiful backdrop of rolling hills, the heroine and suitors will experience that with which dreams are made of. From carriage rides and boat rides on the lake to archery and handwritten letters to communicate, they will be immersed in a time-traveling quest for love. In the end, our heroine and her suitors will discover if the ultimate romantic experience will find them true love.”
If you’re interested in participating, the application is right here. It asks tantalizing questions like “Is modern dating life failing you? Do you long for a night of romance, chariot rides, and balls? Want to pursue love in a whimsical, international location?” and promises the selected contestants will be “fully immersed in a time-traveling quest for love!”
One of the fields to fill out asks, “Do you consider yourself a romantic at heart? Do you like romance novels? Rom-coms? Big romantic gestures? Explain,” but nowhere on the application, we should note, is Jane Austen actually mentioned. Probably for legal reasons, but come on. Not to be a snob, but don’t apply if you haven’t read the book.
There’s no premiere date set for the show, which is being developed and produced by Endemol Shine with Shine TV, but shooting is “tentatively scheduled for August 23–October 8.” If that’s not enough Regency cosplay for you, remember that there’s also an interactive Bridgerton ball happening this November. Basically, once Hot Girl Summer wraps, we’re doing Regency Autumn ’til the holidays. Perfect!
…especially compared to last summer! Life is getting back to normal. I’ve dined out a few times inside a restaurant and it was wonderful. I have standing appointments again for my nails and my hair. No more masks outside and inside, it’s often optional. If only I could lose the quarantine weight…I’m working on it but it ain’t easy.
Things are changing at work, too. Masks are no longer required and the campus will be opening up to visitors shortly. I’m an academic librarian at Lynn University. Summer is super slow, there are no students living on campus because Pine Tree Camp takes over the campus every summer. I actually worked for Pine Tree 25 years ago. It was my first job after staying home with my kids for twelve years. They got to go to camp for half price, and I got paid. I was the preschool computer instructor for two summers. The first year was great. It was an easy way for me to go back to work, having my kids nearby, and they had a blast. After that first summer, my baby started kindergarten and I got a part time job at Borders Books. I worked while my kids were in school. But the next summer, I had already committed to Pine Tree so I worked there full time, and at Borders part time. It just about killed me.
Along with taking care of my family, there just weren’t enough hours in the day. And my manager at Borders kept asking me to move to full time, and at the end of that summer, I did. They were open enough hours that I could still work around my kids’ schedules. I would drop them off at school, go to work, leave in the early afternoon to pick up my kids, do homework, dinner, baths, put them to bed and go back to work. I worked these crazy split shifts for a long time but it worked for me and my family and the store.
All I can tell you is that working one full time job is way easier than working two jobs, as so many people already know. Sometimes people don’t have a choice, they need the money so they do what they have to do. My husband worked two jobs for years so I could stay home with the kids, then for the extra money for things like vacations and extracurricular activities for the kids, so I get it.
It was while I was working at Borders that I created a website as a way to keep track of the books I’d read and the books I wanted to read. This was 20+ years ago, when the web was just a baby. We’ve come a long way since then! Amazon was just a startup and in fact, Borders contracted with them to handle the Borders website. Yep, Borders paid Amazon to sell books online for them. This was not the brightest idea, and was probably the beginning of the end for Borders. The partnership only lasted a year but by then Amazon was on its way to becoming the behemoth it is, and Borders never really caught up with its online presence.
My website has gone through several changes. When I started, I had a free website hosted by Geocities. The Internet Archive has several screenshots of my website over the years. It is fun for me to look back, and if you’re at all curious, take a look!
When blogs became a thing, I started one up so I had the website and the blog. I wanted to combine them so I only had to update one thing. I also wanted to change my homepage to stacyalesi.com instead of bookbitch.com. I bought the domain name in 2011So several years ago, I changed the name of the website from BookBitch.com to Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com. You can still go to http://www.bookbitch.com, it redirects to the current blog. And I had a really talented web designer, xuni, give me a whole new look. They specialize in author websites, but did me a favor and I loved the results.
We took our first plane trip in almost two years to New York to see my grandson. I’m going back again soon with my daughter, but then probably won’t get to see my little angel again until September. Babies change so much that first year. I am thrilled that my son and daughter-in-law send us pictures every day, it helps ease the pain of separation. Now I understand how my mom felt when Daniel was born, we were living in Texas and she was in Florida. We moved back to Florida when he was 13 months old, but that first year was tough.
Everyone keeps asking what we are going to be called. Grandma and Grandpa? We started there and I was feeling like whatever he wanted to call us when he started talking would be fine with us. Then on our last trip to NY, we took the baby on his first road trip to see my brother and his family. Their grandchildren call them Nana and Papa, which is what all our kids called my mom and stepfather. When my son heard that, I saw something in his face, I can’t really explain it. But when we got home, I told him we wanted to be called Nana & Papa. It feels right. I know we have big, enormous shoes to fill, and we will try our hardest to be the kind of grandparents my son associates with those names.
It is so amazing that we can make plans again. Meet up with friends. Fly. Travel safely. Sadly, the crime rate is up, too, which sucks. But all in all, it feels like we have come through the pandemic to the other side. I know there are people still getting sick, and more deaths. But there is a vaccine available. It’s free. It’s easy to get. Yes, a small percentage of people get Covid after being vaccinated, but they are generally symptom free or have very mild symptoms. They are not dying, and that is a huge change. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, and don’t want to, I wish you luck. But I can’t help thinking of Darwin.
Today is my 40th wedding anniversary. There was a time when I thought I would never get to say that, not because we weren’t getting along or anything, but because of my husband’s heart issues. So I am beyond grateful to have had all these years with the best man I know.
I thought I would challenge myself to come up with 40 reasons why my marriage has lasted. In no particular order…
1. We love one another 2. We say “I love you” pretty much every day 3. We always kiss hello and goodbye 4. We communicate regularly throughout the day 5. We treat each other with respect 6. He has made me laugh pretty much every day since we’ve been together – over 46 years! 7. We share similar values & morals 8. We often hold hands 9. Our world revolves around one another and our children 10. He is a wonderful son (how a man treats his mother is a good yardstick) 11 He was an amazing son-in-law; my step-dad was his best friend 12. His thoughtfulness continues to amaze me and he is always considerate of my feelings 13. He is a wonderful father, which I can now see reflected in how our son is with his son 14. We have separate interests; he rarely reads a book anymore and I read a book a day; he loves hiking in the Everglades. I went once, it rained and the tent leaked. That was it for me 15. We both like car camping! 16. We both love the beach 17. We both love his Jeep, especially taking the top off and driving down A1A (next to the beach) 18. My mom used to say that we complement each other, and she was right 19. He has been incredibly supportive of whatever I want to do. I was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, then I got a job at Borders with crazy hours, got a job at the library, went back to college then library school. He has supported me – financially, emotionally – through all of it 20. We like some of the same TV shows and movies, but I love rom-coms and he rarely watches those. He loves sci-fi and I rarely watch those. Doesn’t matter 21. We both watch a lot of MSNBC & read lots of news and discuss 22 We have similar political beliefs 23. I am a spender and he is a saver; it works for us 24. He’s calm and laidback; I am not 25. He is really good at helping me rein in my crazy and often does 26. When I’m upset, he can calm me down; I try to do the same for him 27. While we are not the same religion, he has always been incredibly supportive, even though it’s not what he believes 28. He can fix pretty much anything, and I am most appreciative of that 29. He eats whatever I cook and is always kind about it. If he doesn’t like something, he won’t criticize or say anything. I’ve learned to ask, “Do you want me to make that again?” if I want to know the truth 30. We both love good wine and finding new ones to enjoy 31. I used to joke that he married me so he wouldn’t have to answer the phone. Now that we have cell phones, that ship has sailed. 32. He used to joke that he married me because I talk enough for the both of us. He still doesn’t talk as much as I do, but he speaks up when it counts 33. We both love Disneyworld 34. We both dream of going back to Italy* (we went for our 3rd anniversary) 35. He carries around my first passport photo, circa 1987ish, in his wallet and swears I still look like that (I do not!) 36. We try very hard not to take each other for granted 37. He never forgets a birthday or anniversary (because I put them on his calendar!) 38. When we met I was 17 and he was 19 – we grew up together 39. He makes me feel cherished every single day 40. He is the love of my life!
*We had planned to spend two weeks in Sicily for our 40th anniversary, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that. Now we have our first grandchild who lives in Brooklyn, so I think all of our vacations are going to be visiting NY to see the baby!
I liked having a place to talk about whatever was on my mind. Just because I decided to end the pandemic rambliings, there’s no reason I can’t just ramble. It’s my blog! So: Cerebration. I really like how it almost sounds like Celebration, and this feels somewhat celebratory to me so there you have it. A new word for me, and maybe you as well.
Cerebration: noun. The act of thinking; consideration; thought
Things I’ve done since I completed my Covid vaccination regimen and waited the requisite two weeks:
Haircut and color
Manicure and pedicure
Dinner (outside) at a restaurant with friends
Sometimes I take my mask off at work when I’m in my office and drink coffee!
Went to Publix (supermarket) after work
Went to V&S Deli and picked up sandwiches
Ate inside a restaurant with family I hadn’t seen in well over a year!
I haven’t gone crazy, but I feel like I am taking baby steps. It’s not always comfortable to do these things but I’m working on it. The biggest thing I’m doing is coming up – flying to New York in June to see my grandson. I can’t wait! Everything else I’m taking one day at a time. A friend recently flew from Dallas to Charlotte (hi Beth!) and said the airport was packed and there wasn’t an empty seat on the flight. Which makes me nervous but I am determined.
I’m still reading a lot. Books have always been my salvation, ever since I was a small child. I never needed much sleep, usually 4 hours a night for most of my life. When I was a child, my mother would put me to bed at 8:00. I would wake up around midnight and go downstairs and watch TV (back in the days when there was just one TV in the house!) I watched Johnny Carson and a lot of old movies. When the movies were over, they played the Star Spangled Banner and the TV went off. Then I would read. I read whatever I could get my hands on. Magazines, newspapers, and even some books. Early in the morning, the TV came back on and I watched some agricultural farmer show. Basically it was weather and crop reports back when Long Island still had a lot of farms. Then it was almost time to get ready for school.
I didn’t have many books back then. Neither of my parents were readers. We had some antique Shakespeare in the living room which I wasn’t allowed to touch, and a couple of Modern Classics, which I read but didn’t understand for the most part. I remember struggling for weeks with the Canterbury Tales. We also had a World Book Encyclopedia, which I pored over.
As I got a little older, my teachers gave me books, I borrowed books from the school library (which I read in its entirety by fifth grade,) and finally my mother took me to the public library. She would pull up front and say hurry up, and she meant it. I would go to the Agatha Christie or Ian Fleming shelf, check out my allotted 5 books, and run back out to the car. It’s where I got my habit of reading all of an author’s books, and also rereading books. I was always a very fast reader and 5 books would only last me a couple of days but my mom wouldn’t take me to the library more than once a week at best. Unlike all my friends, my parents were divorced and my mother worked. For my birthday or Chanukah, I always asked for books and eventually had all the Nancy Drews, some Cherry Ames, and some of my favorites, Anne of Green Gables, The Phantom Tollbooth, the All-of-a-Kind Family books, Harriet the Spy. I read those books over and over and over again. My mother gave away all my childhood books to a friend with a daughter a several years younger than I was. I still haven’t gotten over that.
A couple of Saturdays ago I wasn’t feeling well. I had gotten bad chills that Thursday, freaked out myself and my husband, and we ran for a Covid test on Friday. It was negative. Yes, I’m vaccinated but apparently so was Bill Maher and several of the Yankees and they got Covid anyway. But I didn’t – yay! But I didn’t feel like doing much besides reading and watching TV (which I often do at the same time.) While poking around for a movie to watch, I stumbled on a documentary called Naughty Books. Need I say my interest was piqued? It is streaming on Hulu, otherwise you have to pay.
It’s a documentary about erotic fiction. Not the best documentary I’ve ever seen but certainly interesting. There were several authors featured, primarily CJ Roberts and Kristen Proby – at least they are the ones that stuck in my head. After watching, I searched my Kindle for Proby because I know I’ve read some of her books. Sure enough, I had about a dozen of them, but I’d only read a few. So I started reading. I had read the first book in the Romancing Manhattan series, so I read the other two and really enjoyed them. Then I started the first book in the Big Sky series (trilogy,) Charming Hannah, and liked that a lot too.
So here’s my question, and I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before. What is the difference between erotica and romance? Where do you draw that line? There are sexy romances, which I read often and love. And after reading several of Proby’s books, to me they fall squarely into the sexy romance category. There is a lot of sex and it is explicit, but the book is all about the romance and the relationship, the will they or won’t they. There are many chapters without any sex. When I think of erotica, I just think of sex and not romance. Books without a plot to speak of. Or a minimal plot, like porn. After watching that documentary, apparently I am in the minority on this and that’s okay.
I have so many of Proby’s books because of BookBub. It’s a service that compiles ebook bargains. You sign up for daily email, telling them the kinds of books you like to read, and they will send you a curated list. Usually there are at least half a dozen books ranging in price from $3.99 down to free. Yep, there are always at least a couple of freebies, a few that are $.99 and so on. Authors range from NY Times bestsellers to self published, always a wide variety, so it’s a great way to try new authors. I even get cookbooks through BookBub. If you just don’t want to sign up for one more email, you can check out the website: https://www.bookbub.com/welcome. Click on browse and have fun! And if you’re an author, poke around to learn how to get your book featured.
I wish it really were the end, but it is the end of my Coronavirus Diary. Fourteen months of fear and sickness and political shenanigans. I’m vaccinated, and I’m done.
Remember when it was impossible to buy toilet paper? Paper towels? Hand sanitizer? Disinfectant wipes? When the frozen food aisle was decimated? When bread was a treasure to be found? I do.
Remember when the (previous) president told us to drink bleach? To inject disinfectant? That it would be gone by Easter 2020? That the flu killed more people? Several news organizations put together the biggest lies about the pandemic, directly from the president’s mouth/Twitter account. These are a few that really pissed me off:
“It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle – it will disappear” (not so much)
“Anyone who wants a test can get one” (again, not so much until lately)
“I don’t think it’s hoarding, I think it’s maybe worse than hoarding.” (on hospitals needing PPE and respirators)
“The US was the ‘most prepared country in the world'” (maybe if you were living under a rock for the past year you would agree with this)
If I sound angry, it’s only because I am. Over half a million Americans are dead, over 3 million dead worldwide. Millions more Americans refuse to get the vaccine, ensuring that herd immunity will not happen. I personally only know one person who said they were not getting the vaccine, and I am very happy that she recently changed her mind. On the other hand, seeing Darwinism in action should be interesting. The anti-vaxxers and the people who refuse to wear masks? I hope they survive.
During the pandemic, I baked. A lot. I gained a ton of weight from all the baking and cooking and not moving. I still have my sourdough starter even though I decided I don’t like sourdough bread anymore, but I just can’t bring myself to kill it. Privileged white lady that I am, I was able to use my stimulus money to buy new kitchen appliances, and I donated some money as well. It was my greatest pleasure to massively over tip my delivery people, from Instacart to GrubHub.
I was basically a hermit for the pandemic. I rarely shopped in person. I only left my house for work two mornings a week, and for the most important doctor and dentist appointments. I cooked all our meals until fairly recently, when we started getting takeout on occasion. I’ve been masked anytime I left my house or when I had a delivery. I utilized curbside pickup whenever possible – thanks, Target! I haven’t set foot in a Target for well over a year. Remarkable to think about.
My son and daughter-in-law bought their first home and had a baby. They’ve only been married two years this June, but being cooped up 24/7 for over a year is like marriage on steroids. It either exacerbates any issues, or in their case, brought them even closer.
Interestingly, at the beginning of the pandemic there was an uptick in divorces: “By April, the interest in divorce had already increased by 34% in the US, with newer couples being the most likely to file for divorce. In fact, a full 20% of couples who had been married for five months or less sought divorce during this time period” (The National Law Review.)
The NY Times reports, “Some divorce lawyers and relationship experts said that the uncertainty of the pandemic and financial concerns are two reasons couples are staying together.” Yes, the divorce rate is now lower. According to the Institute for Family Studies, “the U.S. divorce rate has hit a 50-year low” and that was in 2019. The IFS is a conservative think tank whose goal is to strengthen family and marriage, so this statistic makes them look like they are reaching their goal. While I am no expert on statistics, there is an old expression that I learned in college – statistics don’t lie, but statisticians do. So while I am sure that all the news reports of the lowering divorce rate are probably true, I’m not really buying the 50 year low.
My husband and I qualified for the Moderna vaccine given by Publix because we paid our doctor to fill out the form stating we are medically vulnerable, which we both are. The first vaccine went off without a hitch. We both had sore arms for a few days but that was it. The second vaccine was a bit more difficult. My husband was just super tired for a day or so. He napped, and was fine. On the other hand, the next morning I went to work thinking I was fine, just a bit tired. By 10:00 I was feeling like crap. My body ached everywhere, and I started getting the chills. My boss offered to come in early so I could go home, but I stuck it out for the last hour. I drove home with the heat blasting in my car and shivered the whole way. I got home, put on my warmest pajamas and crawled into bed. My husband got me a couple of blankets, which helped, and I fell asleep. I slept off and on for 24 hours. The chills went away after the first day, and the exhaustion took another day. I started feeling somewhat normal two days after the vaccine, so I decided to take a shower and change the bedding. But by the time I got out of the shower, I was exhausted and had to lay down again. Crazy tired. I sort of dragged my butt for another day but then I was fine. And you know what? WORTH IT! I am finally starting to feel like life is going to get somewhat back to normal.
Two weeks after my vaccine, I made a hair appointment and a manicure/pedicure appointment. I hadn’t been to either shop since February, 2020. I was nervous about it, but double masked and hoped for the best. I’ve been coloring my hair myself because I can’t stand the gray, but it was a real pleasure to get it done professionally again. And to get it cut! And styled! My hands have been a mess. I loved the Color Street stick on polish, it was easy for me to do, but I hate having short nails. A pedicure seems like pure luxury at this point.
I am so happy to look like me again! It’s the little things in life that tend to make me the happiest. Meeting my vaccinated friends that I haven’t seen for over a year for coffee in the park. For dinner outside (I’m not ready to eat inside a restaurant yet.) I would love to have friends over for dinner, maybe on the patio?
Two and a half weeks after our 2nd vaccine, my husband and I went to Jeep Beach in Daytona Beach. We’ve gone every year for the last 6-7 years, except of course, last year. I must admit I was expecting to see most people at the event not wearing masks. But we only saw a few people anywhere in Daytona wearing masks. That was sort of shocking to me. I complain about how some people don’t wear masks where I live, but this was like there was no pandemic. Some old lady even pointed at us and told her husband, look, they are wearing masks. We were the freaks for sure.
We had a reservation at a beautiful hotel on the beach. The Jeep Beach event is held at the Daytona Speedway, so it’s all outdoors. There are lots of restaurants with outdoor seating, especially on the beach, but we didn’t have any luck getting in to one. We ended up getting take out and eating all our meals on our balcony. The view was spectacular! It was our first vacation in over a year, and all two and a half days were perfect.
This past year taught me a few things. My husband is the best man I know. My children are smart and thoughtful and compassionate. Depression runs in my family, and while I don’t think I was depressed, I definitely suffered from what I was calling ennui. Then the NY Times told me it is actually called languishing.
Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
That about summed it up for me. I have also spent the last 14 months feeling somewhat agoraphobic, and I think that is going to take some time to get over. I’ve been scared of getting Covid. Even worse, scared that my husband would get it or one of my kids. Scared of leaving my house. Scared of all the idiots I see running around without masks. But my family is all vaccinated now, and that feels like the beginning of the end. Thank God.
Meet Jonah Arlo Alesi, my first grandchild! Today was Jonah’s due date, but as my daughter-in-law put it, “Our April Fools baby played the ultimate prank and arrived a month early!” Yes, Jonah arrived 4 weeks early, all 5 pounds, 5 oz. of him. He hung around the hospital for a bit, but came home in time for his grandparents to visit. He is the first grandchild on both sides, and we are all beyond thrilled!
Needless to say my time and attention has been focused elsewhere these days, but I will be back here posting soon enough. I just looked at my list and I have over 20 books to review! I have definitely been slacking. So for a sneak preview, here are some thoughts on the historical romances I’ve read lately.
I’ll start with Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase, the second entry in the Difficult Dukes series, which I loved – Chase is always a sure thing for me, as is Lorraine Heath. Heath’s latest, Scoundrel of My Heart, is the first book of a new series, Once Upon a Dukedom, and was a fast, sexy read. I am looking forward to the next book.
The Worst Duke in the World by Lisa Berne, is book 5 of the Penhallow Dynasty and it was a really fun read. How can you not like a book that features a loveable pig named Duchess? I didn’t love the only other book I’d read by this author, but this one will lead me to read more Berne for sure.
Never Kiss a Duke is the first book of a new series, Hazards of Dukes, by Megan Frampton, another must read author for me. She always tells a good story, and I love her sense of humor. Eva Leigh has the third book in her Union of the Rakes series, Waiting for a Scot Like You, and it was terrific! She’s another author that I never miss.
One of my long time favorites, Eloisa James, has a new addition to her Wildes of Lindow Castle series, Wilde Child, that was a total delight, especially if you are a fan of Shakespeare. When she isn’t writing bestselling historical romances (over 7,000,000 in print!), James is a Shakespeare professor at Fordam University, and that knowledge comes into play here, with fascinating results. I am trusting that her explanation of why actors call Macbeth the “Scottish play” and never say the name in the theater is true and not what I’d heard before. Worth the read for that tidbit alone!
A new-to-me author, Amalie Howard, wrote The Rakehell of Roth, the second book of the Regency Rogues series, but I hadn’t read the first book. No matter, this was an enjoyable read – enough that I am going to find the first book to read. Plus I loved the oh-so-purple cover! Another new author for me was Eva Devon, and I loved The Spinster and the Rake, the first book of her Never a Wallflower series, which the publisher describes as “blend of My Fair Lady meets Pride and Prejudice with a twist!” That worked for me!
I am also extremely grateful that my husband and I got our first Covid Vaccines. We are due for the second one next week. It hasn’t been easy in Florida with a governor who is most concerned with his big donors and not at all concerned with keeping everyone or anyone else alive or safe. He gave exclusive vaccine rights to Publix after a quarter of a million donation from Publix. Communities where large donations were made got pushed to the head of the line for vaccines. Fun times in Florida.
It’s just about a year ago that I woke up with a scratchy throat and thought, I know it’s allergies but what if it’s Covid? I decided to protect my co-workers and stay home. Little did I know I wouldn’t leave my house again for months. And when I did leave, it was very, very scary.
I have been frightened of leaving my house since then, but life goes on and I had no choice. I went back to work for the fall semester. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I like to eat so money is a necessity, not to mention health insurance. Fortunately, I have the most incredible manager. She understood everyone’s situation and fears and worked with all of us to keep us safe and keep the library open. I was asked to go in two mornings a week, and that felt very doable to me.
Another great perk of my job is that there is a Covid testing site on campus. I can make an appointment and get tested as often as I like. At first, I was going every couple of weeks, but that soon trickled down to once a month and now I haven’t gone since 2020. I keep the hell away from people, double mask, wear gloves when it makes me feel safer, and wash my hands or use hand sanitizer several times a day. And moisturize my poor hands every single time I wash.
I’ve been using Kiehl’s Delux Hand and Body Lotion in Coriander scent for over twenty years. It doesn’t smell like coriander (which is cilantro!) but it has a faint, delicious scent that I love. I started using it when I worked for Borders Books because working with books is very drying to your hands. A co-worker recommended it to me (thanks, Oriana!) and I haven’t stopped using it since. It is remarkable in that I can put it on my hands and I don’t have to wait before going back to work. It doesn’t leave any residual greasiness. Best of all, despite all the handwashing and sanitizing, my hands are soft. I keep a bottle in my desk at work, and by the kitchen and bathroom sinks at home. It is not cheap, but as another brand likes to say, I’m worth it! The first time I bought it I paid $13 for it. It has almost doubled in price since then. I don’t think I’ve seen a sale on it (maybe Macy’s might honor their sales or coupons on it, or it might be one of the brands in the fine print that don’t ever get discounted.) On the bright side, I generally only buy one bottle every 8 months or so, it lasts a long time.
I am reading all sorts of things now. I still love my happily ever afters, but with all the changes in this country since the beginning of 2021, I can handle the darker stuff again. I will be posting more reviews shortly. Hope you caught my review of Kristen Hannah’s latest blockbuster, The Four Winds. If you need a book for your book group, look no further. It was one of the saddest books I’ve read in a while, yet I loved it. I just finished The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery, more women’s fiction than romance and an excellent read. She even offers some wine pairing tips and a recipe at the end of the book. I promise to post a review this week. I also read a sort of natural disaster thriller from Bridget Foley, Just Get Home. It’s not due out until April 13th, but you can preorder if you’re so inclined. Or reserve it at your library. It’s based on the experiences of two women who get caught out when “the big one”, a massive earthquake, hits Los Angeles. It’s one of those books that you just can’t put down.
My husband and I have finally caught up on the Great British Baking Show. We finished the 2020 season last night, and it was a bittersweet moment. That show has been my happy place for an hour or two each night for the past few weeks. I know it’s called the British Bakeoff in the UK, and I understand why (Pillsbury!), but it still amazes me that the openings always have the correct title. Occasionally a participant says something about the Bakeoff, but I guess Pillsbury can’t do anything about that! We also watched the new remake of All Creatures Great and Small, and it was excellent. If you have access to PBS, I highly recommend it. I loved the books when I was a kid and enjoyed the first go round of the BBC television show, but this, I think, is better (at least in my mind it is.) I loved it so much got the audiobook read by the star, Nicholas Ralph. It is his first TV role! He was terrific.
I haven’t had a haircut in over a year, or a manicure or pedicure, which makes me sad. My nails are an abomination. I’ve gained way more weight than I should have, and it is a daily struggle to attempt any sort of diet. My best efforts are to try and skip the junk food and just eat smaller portions. Some days are easier than others. I still love to cook and bake but I have cut back on the baking at least.