Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Covid, 1,000,000 Reads, and Our New House!

We bought a house! 

My blog has been read almost 1,000,000 times! 

The pandemic is not over and that sucks for disabled people!

Okay, that's all my news. All done.

Well, that's all my news in a very small nutshell. If you're a regular reader of Sublime Mercies, you'd probably like a little more information than that. After all, I wrote my last blog post for my 51st birthday, and I now I've just turned 52. 

What gives?


First of all, know that I have not given up on writing. Nor have I given up on writing about things that I think, and my readers seem to think, are Very Important. But I'm not sure what form or genre I'd like to write in moving forward. As I've been mulling this over, and as many other things have been happening in my life, I've been letting Sublime Mercies slide. 

But then I casually looked at my stats and realized that my blog is doing really well. It's rapidly approaching 1,000,000 reads! As I sit down to write this post, my blog has been read almost 971,415 times! That's a LOT! It's really exciting. 

My blog has done this all by itself, without my writing anything new. Imagine what it - or whatever genre I pick next - could do if I actually put some energy into it.

So: where from here? 

A book, right? At the very least, I can compile and edit my best blog posts, and see if I can find a publisher. That in itself would be a book, and not even a slim one. Any suggestions for a publisher? Any feelings about which of my posts you think are my best?

Any ideas about other sorts of future writing projects? Beau says I'm always coming up with interesting commentary and criticism of media, and he'd love to see me start writing short pieces about that. Like, for crying out loud, why are beautiful, inexplicably lonely women always hurling themselves at the puny, preoccupied, and perpetually bemused Endeavour Morse? Why?! What on earth is supposedly so appealing about him? Do the writers of this show even know any women?

Sometimes I even have more serious things to say. After all, I do have an undergraduate degree in Communications, and Women's Studies (and English), so I have some actual training in media analysis (including media like fashion magazines). Would you be interested in reading my takes on such things?

My great-grandmother's long lost family branch, found through a DNA match.

There's also a book in my genealogical work. As I do my Jewish genealogy, I've been excavating fascinating and often heart-breaking stories from the last three centuries of my Jewish family's life. When I tell people these stories, I invariably get the same response: My God, you should write a book! I agree. These are stories that should not be forgotten, and they are, in many ways, the stories of all Ashkenazi Jews.

Leah Rivka, 1905-1941, my first cousin, two generations removed. She was murdered in Auschwitz, along with her husband, Natan Nuta, and their two young sons, Bernard and Claude.

But I don't know if I can handle the emotional pain of preserving them in writing. As with all Ashkenazi Jewish families, my family's stories continually run smack into huge and overwhelming grief, tragedy, persecution - and murder. The pogroms, the Holocaust, the Soviet regime... So much running, so many refugees. 

And now: Putin, going crazy (more crazy), invading Ukraine, cracking down on what freedoms Russians still had, putting every Russian opponent of his crazy war in terrible danger. When he invaded Ukraine, Russian cousins immediately contacted me, asking for help getting out of Russia. This is the sixth generation of refugees in my family. Six!

My great-grandfather was one of the first. 

And then I found family in Kiev, Ukraine. Right now. In the war. A week after I found them, Russia started bombing Kiev again.

What I'm saying is that this story is not over yet. My family's suffering is not over.

So, yes, a book. But have I the courage to write it? 

And, even if I do, do I have the stamina? It's hard to do any writing at all with severe Fibromyalgia. And severe complex PTSD. I had planned to have this blog post finished a month ago, but then I got hit by a pain flare, and found myself so triggered by the doping medicine I usually take for a flare, that I simply could not take it anymore. I was flat on my back for over three weeks. 

If I can't even write a blog post, how am I going to write a book?

Even when I'm doing relatively well, I have very little energy, and I have to decide how to use it. At best, I have a few productive hours at day. Should I look for landscapers? Contact long lost family? Write a blog post? Write about the Holocaust? Try to organize my new study? Have a (safe) coffee with a friend? See my kid? 

Pick one, and only one. Then rest for a few days.

On a bad day, or week, or month, I can't do anything at all.

So, what I want to do with my writing and what I can do with it are very different. I do feel robbed. I thought that, by my age, I'd have published a few books. Most every teacher I've ever had, from grade school to grad school, thought the same thing. 

But some really awful people beat and raped the shit out of my body and spirit for the first 17 years of my life, and, sometimes, simply being alive is my big accomplishment for the day.

So, for now, my plan is to compile some of my favourite posts, and see if I can get them published as a book. 


But there's another huge reason I haven't been writing blog posts. I haven't had any outfits to show you. After all, Sublime Mercies is, first and foremost, a style blog. If I've got no style to show you, I've got no post to write.

And why haven't I had any outfits to show you?

Covid. Plain and simple.

Once I was double vaccinated, I felt so free and happy and optimistic. Covid was almost over! I was safe! Any day now, life would be back to normal. It almost was over already! I mean, there were all those selfish idiots who were dragging things out by refusing to get vaccinated, but the end of Covid was very near. 

It was inevitable.

Beau had a little Christmas party for his employees. Indoors. It was like the Before Times. 

There was a rumour of some new Covid variant called Omicron but...

And then it hit for real. Omicron changed everything. The vaccines didn't work on Omicron. It was spreading faster than I could have imagined.

I assumed, of course, that the world would go back into isolation, distancing, masking, working from home... everyone pulling together like the first time.

Together, we would nip this damned variant in the bud, like we did before

So Beau and I put ourselves back into full isolation. We knew that, if I got Covid, especially Long Covid, on top of my severe Fibromyalgia, it might destroy what little life I have left. 

Or kill me. 

We figured that the rest of the world would go into isolation within a week or two, maybe even sooner.

But it didn't.

Instead, just days before Christmas, our provincial health officer got on TV and called Omicron "the sniffles," and half-heartedly advised people to avoid Christmas gatherings - if they felt like it. Virtually no real Covid reducing measures were introduced, and nothing was enforced. 

Not surprisingly, by January, we were in a huge Covid wave.

From isolation, I watched, utterly dumbfounded, as the entire world pretended that Covid was no longer a problem. We were lied to, patronized, gas-lit, and, most vexing of all, told that our own safety was our personal responsibility. Beau and I were lucky: We could isolate. Most couldn't. The surge continued.

Disabled people, chronically ill people, immunocompromised people, old people - people like me - were thrown to the wolves for the sake of the economy, for the sake "getting back to normal," for the sake of insane, cruel, heartless denial. 

And it kept getting worse. The few remaining restrictions were lifted, one by one. We were given less and less information about what was going on, even as we were given more and more "personal responsibility" for keeping ourselves safe. The government changed the way it kept Covid records, so the numbers looked lower than they really were.

People like me now know where we stand: We are utterly and completely disposable, garbage. It's eugenics. I will not call it anything but that, because that's what it is: "Let the vulnerable die," the world told us, "for we want to travel, and go out to dinner, and live a lie."

To say I am demoralized is a vast understatement. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been in tears, sobbing, knowing how little I am valued in my own culture. I will never ever forget this.

Me, just turned eight years old

I have not felt this disposable since I was a sex trafficked little girl.

So, no, I haven't had outfits to show you. I haven't gone anywhere! 

Even as the weather warmed, and Covid numbers dropped a bit so I could safely sit outside and wear something pretty, what was the point of taking photos? What was the point of writing a post celebrating the joys of style? I felt unlovely. Treat a person like garbage for long enough, she'll start to feel like garbage, and think she looks like garbage too. What was the point?

Yet another family branch I found. The little boy looks so much like me!

In the meantime, I've done my best to keep up with the hobbies that keep me going.

I keep doing my genealogy, and I've found new family branches, some members of whom  survived the Holocaust, and some of whom were murdered. 

Midcentury, Scandinavian, silver and enamel brooch

I kept looking for and finding amazing ...

Edwardian?, gold and seed pearl brooch

... vintage jewelry steals online.

For the backstory on this silver bangle, watch Is It A Real Tiffany? A Vintage Jewelry Unboxing.

Summer came and I was able to safely socialize outdoors. My spirits rose as I got out, saw friends, saw the world ...

... and ... 

... of course ...

... wore fun outfits. 

In late summer, Covid rates dropped way down for a second or two, and I was able to sit inside at my local cafĂ© a few times over a few weeks, wearing cooler weather clothing that I've owned for a few years but hadn't yet had a chance to wear because of Covid. 

I even got to test run a few...

... sweaters.

But, a week into October, the outcome of kids' unrestricted return to school hit. Numbers went back up. Emergency rooms are again overfull, this time with children. It was bad enough when our government was throwing the disabled to the wolves of Covid, but now they're doing it with children too! 

I never ever dreamed that children's health, indeed, their very lives would be expendable too.

Meanwhile, I was told that I could not get my bivalent shot until December! This was an unannounced penalty for having had the audacity to get a second booster over the summer, apparently. 

I eventually managed to get my shot in late October, but I had to be sneaky about it, which is absurd, given that it protects my life, and the lives of those around me. But Covid numbers continue to rise, and there is no clear information about how effective the bivalent booster is...

So we're back in isolation. Here we go again. Again. God knows how long this time. Is this my future now, as a disabled person? Forever?

Playing cards on the front porch when we first moved in, watching a crow sitting on the window box right beside Beau. The cutlery is to keep the cards from blowing away in the wind.

Thank God for our front porch, where we could socialize relatively safely - until it got too cold.

Our House!
But go back a tick. What did I just say? Yes, I did just say our porch. Ours! We own a house! This is probably the main reason I haven't been writing posts in the past year. We've been busy!

Me, 19, in Montreal

I was poor, very poor, for most of my life, especially since I left "home" at 17. I was a dumpster diver, and considered it normal. I stole rolls of toilet paper from public washrooms. To avoid sleeping in the streets, I slept on the floors and in the stinking bedding of a lot of predators and drug addicts and otherwise dodgy people. Every single thing I owned was second hand. Nobody called it "vintage" back then. I lived with cockroaches, rats, mice, silverfish, and even slugs. 

I also once lived with a murderer, which I only found out after he violently went off his head and I had to call the police. 

This was my life for a very long time. It only changed when I got my Masters degree in English, which, after still more struggle and poverty, led to my college teaching gig in my mid thirties.

But it wasn't long before disability felled me, and I lost it all. By then, I had met Beau, thank God.

Both Beau and I had always been renters. He was a poor single father of two when I first met him. He was starting a tiny business, working on a PhD, and had only recently returned from living in Sri Lanka, where he and his ex wife had founded and run a charity school. 

Basically, he had nothing but his two boys, and a very good brain.

And now we own a house! In our chosen neighbourhood. In one of the most expensive cities in North America. (I don't want to get into just how much we paid, but a bit of research will tell you what houses are going for in Vancouver.)

I most certainly did not marry Beau for his money. He didn't have any! I fell in love with him, and am still in love with him, for who he is. 

The fairy tale part came later.

When we were first together, Beau told me that the tiny business he was running out of his living room was going to do well, but I'd heard lots of people say this about their business ventures, so I just humoured him with a smile, and went on loving him. 

A few years later, he'd joke at the dinner table that we should take him seriously, because, "I'm a rising YouTube star." We all laughed and moved on.

The joke was on us. Because his business really did take off, and he really is a YouTube star. He has well over a million followers on YouTube. He has a warehouse and several employees.

And we own a house!

Beau does remind me that we couldn't have done this without me too. I was able to provide the bulk of the down payment. There were two main reasons for this. 

First, my father, whose complete lack of financial or custodial aid in my life was part of why I lived in so much pain and poverty, actually left me some money when he died. It was small compensation for being his daughter, but it was something.

Second, I was brave enough to endure a brutal three year legal battle with my insurance company. Though the settlement was a pittance compared to what I was owed, it did give us a good chunk for the down payment. 

And, of course, I wouldn't have been owed any money at all if I had not slogged through all those degrees, and worked my ass off to get tenure as a college instructor in a college where bullying by higher ups was the norm. 

So there is all that: my contribution.

An historical map of Vancouver, British Columbia

When we started looking for a house, we knew that we had to keep living in our favourite neighbourhood. But for brief stints in Toronto and New York City, I've lived here for 32 years. I was 19 when I arrived in this 'hood in 1990. 

Back then, it was a poor, working class, left wing, bohemian enclave, with a huge Italian population, and a fast growing lesbian community. (With one newsworthy exception, the Italian and lesbian communities got along really well. There was a great, fictionalized depiction of this in the movie, Better Than Chocolate.)   

Beau moved here almost ten years ago, to be closer to me, and to raise his children in a more multicultural and politically aware neighbourhood than where he had been living. He found himself part of a sort of insta-community, because I already knew everybody, and he felt he'd found his permanent home. 

Italian coffee at an Italian grocery and deli, on a whole block of Italian businesses, with Italian exchange students behind me.

Despite the neighbourhood's increasing yuppification (which breaks my heart), it still has a lot of the qualities that first drew me to it. It's very pedestrian friendly, it has a lot of locally owned and run businesses, it has strong, working class and immigrant roots, it has a very strong sense of community, and that community remains very left wing and bohemian. Plus, all my friends are here. I cannot leave the house without running into someone I know.

So, when we drew a circle on a map. Any house within that circle was within scootable distance of the community hub, the main "strip," so to speak. We had to live within that circle. 

The day in 1976 when I understood that I got to stay in this beautiful part of the world. I was overwhelmed by a sense of good fortune. I'm the six year old, little girl in the cape.

We also had to have a mountain view. That view is my favourite thing about Vancouver, and has been a great source of spiritual sustenance for me, a connection the divine, since I was six, when I first arrived in Canada. But it's been a long time, almost 30 years, since I've been able to see those mountains from my house. When I was abled, I'd go for lovely walks to see the views. But I can't do that anymore, and I miss it so much! 

So: a mountain view was a must too.

Our realtors. If you live locally and know me in real life, I'd be happy to pass their names on to you.

We began our search. With the help of a great real estate team (both of them crackerjack musicians too) who live in the 'hood, we began the very stressful period of looking for a home. During Covid. Most people didn't seem to care about being safe. We did. That was hard. 

But the two hardest things about the search were all the stairs I had to manage without throwing my back out...

... and the constant competition with developers. At least one in four houses bought here is immediately torn down to make way for extremely overpriced and cheaply built condos and townhouses. We'd show up to look at a house, and we'd watch developers just measure the grounds, not even going inside, just thinking about money and nothing else. It's almost impossible to compete with them.

It's also heartbreaking to witness this vicious greed up close. 

Then, in a very rare week of snow, in the peak of the Omicron wave, we saw this cute house for sale. 

With this ...

... view.

And this interior.

Look at those floors! That mantle! Those perfectly preserved, craftsman shelves! 

Masked and nervous about Covid, we went to see it. We loved it.

We threw every last penny we had into our offer. But that is not what got us the house. Ours was not the highest bid.

You see, I wrote a very sincere, heartfelt letter to the owners of the house. They were a working class, Portuguese couple in their 80s who has bought the house in 1979, long before the yuppification of the 'hood. I told them how long I'd lived here. I told them how much I love this neighbourhood. I told them how much Beau loved the neighbourhood. I told them how we'd struggled to get to this place in our lives.

I told them we would not tear down their house.

Instead, I said, we would grow old in it, just as they had done. I told them, that, if they sold the house to us, they'd be making our dream come true.

... and we got it! 

After that, they were so kind to us, letting us come over more than a few times to take measurements for accessibility, talking to us in broken English about tricky latches and their own history, before and after they moved in, just generally being happy they'd sold the house to us. (We were equally happy to give our money to a real, worthy couple, and not a greedy developer.) 

They told us that they had been sure the house would be torn down. 

As our new neighbours started to learn of our plans, I cannot tell you how many of them stopped to welcome us, and thank us for leaving the house just as it is. We certainly aren't alone in wanting to preserve our beloved neighbourhood.

A typical catalog page for a Craftsman bungalow kit. I's not exactly like ours, but you can see the many similarities.

So, what did we get? We got an original, Craftsman bungalow built in 1928.

A 1922 Sears bungalow catalog.

Many of these houses were built from kits that you could order out of a catalog. All the materials you needed to build the house would, I'm told, arrive in a railway car. These kits included faucets, kitchen benches... everything! They were a working and middle class version of the Arts and Crafts homes that preceded them by 20 or 30 years, and they're beautiful. There's a whole online community of people who own and love Craftsman houses.

We did some research and learned that we are only the third family to own our house in 100 years. Fortunately for us, the two previous families loved it as much as we do. They made important upgrades to electricity, plumbing, and windows, and they took good care of things like the roof, and drainage. 

The ironing board cupboard in our kitchen. 

But the rest they left as is, and that's a really special thing to find.

No-one ruined it in the 1970s with fake wood paneling, popcorn ceilings...

... and wall-to-wall, rust coloured carpets glued or nailed to the beautiful wood floor.

No-one ruined it in the 2000s by deciding that it simply had to have an all grey, "open concept" that would have forced us to stare at our dirty dishes while resting in the living room. There's no kitchen island to get in the way of my walker.

There's no fake wood, vinyl flooring, the ugly, 2020s version of the ugly, fake wood paneling of the 1970s.

Original door, door handle, baseboards, flooring, and heating grate. Eventually, we'll strip the doors and trim down to their original wood, but, for now, we like it like this.

Instead, it's all just gorgeous, original details.

Those who love Craftsman houses particularly love the original kitchen cabinets. This is not a great photo, and we really want to replace that mud-coloured countertop, but you get the idea. (See what I mean about dirty dishes? Everyone has them, and no-one wants to look at them while relaxing.)

We were worried that the original stairs would be tricky for accessibility, but we actually managed to put in stair lifts to the basement and to the attic. For the first time in nearly a decade, I can use my whole house! It shouldn't feel like a luxury, but it does.

If I were any taller, I'd be bumping my head and knees, but I'm short, so it's perfect.

Chuti is six pounds full grown, the tiniest cat I've ever known.

This lift is just for us little folks.

We also put a little ramp into the basement door (which we call the Hobbit Door), so I can roll straight into or out of my house. Such a luxury!

Speaking of my disability, I won't lie: Moving was a massive challenge. No matter how carefully we tried to be sure I wouldn't hurt my back, I did - often. It's not just the packing and unpacking parts, which I tried to avoid. It's the unfamiliar spaces, not finding the right chair at the right time, lying on the wrong bed with the wrong pillow, using a washroom with no grip bars yet, bathing in a new tub... Any tiny change to my body's routine can raise my pain levels by a lot. Add up all the little and big changes of a move, and it's a cumulative recipe for pain.

Moving basically threw me into a month long pain flare.

Beau getting one of his weekly iron infusions.

But, even worse, poor Beau was suffering from anemia so severe, he had to rush to the Emergency Room the day his iron results came in. They wanted him to get a blood transfusion immediately

Throughout the move and setting up the house, he was very tired, very quickly out of breath, kind of grumpy, easily confused. It was pretty awful.

He had to start eating red meat again, and get weekly iron injections. It worked, and, by the summer, he was feeling much better. But they still haven't run tests to see why he'd become anemic, and, as I write this, his iron levels have dropped yet again, and he's feeling pretty poorly. The Canadian healthcare system is in shambles, in large part because of Covid, but that's a subject for another post.

Ketsl, Milo, and Chuti

In the midst of all this, we lost our beloved 19 year old cat, Milo. To be honest, we hadn't expected him to make it to our new house. We knew he was in decline, but he was still enjoying life, and that's what mattered.

Milo was the grumpiest, most stubborn cat I've ever met. It took me eight years to win him over, and, even then, he'd still fight me for the place beside Beau in bed. Beau was his, and that was that.

But we loved him, and he loved us, and letting him go was very hard. We wondered if we'd done the right thing, if we'd waited too long, if we hadn't waited long enough. The vet assured us that it really was Milo's time.

In his last moments, all he wanted to do was stare into Matt's eyes. 

Our other two cats did show signs of missing Milo, but Ketsl in particular has blossomed in Milo's absence. The vet told us this is quite common. He's more confident now, more cuddly, less defensive of his food. Happier?

Even with all this going on, we were still able to enjoy getting to know our new home - and expanding into all this space!

Beau finally got the attic office he's always dreamed of having.

I almost didn't show you this photo because my onesie is so unflattering.

I get my very own study! 

With a mountain view that changes every hour of every day!

My study is still a work in progress but it's getting there.

And I get my very own dressing room! 

To me, this is by far the most decadent thing we've done, and I'm almost embarrassed to mention it. It was Matt's idea. 

He did not want all my clothes and pretties in our bedroom anymore...

Getting organized

... getting in the way. And he wanted me to be able to access them more easily by myself, with significantly less assistance. It's a room of wonders! 

Of course, practicalities aside, beauty was and is very important too, and we've enjoyed the project (ongoing, I'll admit) of bringing our house back to original glory, beauty-wise. Those lampshades, for example, are from about 1910.

We chose paint colours that would have been popular in 1928 ...

... and suit the house very well. Check out our breakfast nook ...

... a brand new idea when the house was built ...

... with roses planted by the previous owners. 

We've found that a lot of the pretties ...

... and furniture we already had fit perfectly in our house. This Art Deco chair and magazine rack, are great, for example.

Check out the amazing cupboard and drawers built into the hallway!

Of course, we've added things too, like this non-functioning, but fantastic, 1930s phone, where we could see there had been a similar phone for generations ...

... and this daybed in the living room so, whenever Covid really is over, I can entertain guests while lying down and resting my back. We decided to get a big one, so Matt and I can hangout together in te living room too. It's a favourite with the cats.

This is the day we took possession of the house.

The mantle and shelves in the living room ...

... just cry out...

... for beauties from the days...

Though I haven't slavishly kept to 1930s and earlier choices (these are from the 1970s, for example ...

... and these might possibly be from as late at the 1960s, though I suspect their form the 1940s)...

I've been having a lot of fun educating myself about early 20thC ceramics, pottery, and glass. 

Small details ... 

... add up to make a beautiful whole. It gives my heart great comfort and joy to rest my eyes on beauty no matter where I turn. I don't know why, but it does.

One thing we did not anticipate when we moved in 
was the absolutely gorgeous light that fills...

... and surrounds ... 

... our house in the late afternoons and evenings. 

I spent my first six years in Massachusetts and have always missed the sound of the trees in the wind, and the smell and colours of the fall. This maple tree outside our house has given some of that back to me. Also, do you see our new crow hanging out with us?

While we can enjoy this light some on our beautiful front porch ...

I know you've already seen this photo before, but it's useful again.

... the back is really the place. At the moment, we haven't much space to really enjoy it, just this little stoop off the kitchen. 

We've discovered that this alley is basically the local promenade. Everyone walks and bikes along it like it's both a sidewalk and a kind of social scene. Everyone stops to talk to everyone else. Every time we're on our stoop, people stop and chat. We've met all of our neighbours this way, which we absolutely love... but, sometimes, it would be nice to have a little privacy when we step outside to enjoy the light and the view.

Besides, we've turned the stoop into ...

... a catio ...

... which is pretty luxurious for the cats, but we humans have to make do with only one chair. Chuti became a little bit world famous this past summer. Children were especially fascinated by the setup.

The yard itself is a perfectly decent size but is almost entirely taken up with paving ...

... and a massive garage ... 

... that blocks a lot of the view, and, though beloved by the previous owner, who was a tinkerer, is completely useless to us.

Our plan, then, is to knock down that garage, get rid of most of the paving, build a better fence for privacy, and create our own little Narnia back here, an English style garden, a playground for the birds, and the squirrels, and us!

We'll also built a deck off the back where the catio is now, and put a lift on it so it's accessible not just to me, but to my friends who use wheelchairs.

A photo from before we moved in. The former owners definitely weren't hoarders, but they held onto things they thought they might use in the future.

And the final capper? We're going to put a much bigger window in the north facing attic, with a little, Juliet style balcony, just big enough for a chair. 

Because the view from the attic is spectacular.


The stuff dreams are made of. These photos really don't do it any justice. When we're up there, gazing at this view, it's easy to forget we're even in a city.

But we currently have to look at the view like this. It's hardly optimal!

So we've got big plans, and the amazing thing is that, given how well Beau's business is doing, we might be able to enact them all next year! 

It really is a fairy tale.

I'll admit that the job of finding contractors is far more stressful than I'd imagined, and the learning curve for this formerly poor girl is very steep. But I think things are starting to fall into place. I hope.

In the meantime, both for the present day joy of it, and as part of our plan for our yard, we're doing our best to befriend all the local birds. It took about three seconds for the chickadees to find the first  feeder we put out, and the finches arrived about three seconds after that. The Northern Flickers, Towhees, Juncos and all the rest followed.

That little blur in the centre of the photo is a hummingbird.

Because we currently have very few flowers in our yard, we had some trouble attracting the hummingbirds. We planted fuscia in a window box, and they did like that ...

A hummingbird at my study window. Our neighbours saw her and put up a feeder too.

... but it's really only been with the arrival of cold weather that they've really become regular visitors.

The squirrels are welcome too, though we feed them in a more controlled way, so they don't try to get into the house. The crows seems surprisingly fine with sharing their food with the squirrels. We hadn't expected that.

Yes crows. You know how much I love crows.

The very first day we viewed this house, before we knew we were even going to bid on it, we noticed the crows checking us out. So we introduced ourselves. They looked very startled to be noticed. 

After that, every time we came by, we fed them, and, once we moved in, began feeding them at a set time every day. They now come when we call. 

At first, they took to us quite comfortably, sitting in the window box near us ...

... and even leaving their baby on our porch for us to babysit during a rainstorm!

This tree is so spindly, it reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but all the birds love it so much, we're going to keep it.

But, as their babies got older, the parents grew more wary of us, and have preferred to sit at a little distance and wait for us to go inside before they come to the porch for lunch. Lately, though, they've started coming a bit closer again, and I'm hoping they continue to grow more comfortable with us. 

The crows at our last place, enjoying their lunch on their specially made platform.

I miss our last crows so much. We'd developed such a rapport with them, and we have visited them a few times. But we're building a rapport with our new crows too, as we all get to know each other better. It's the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.

Our very first Shabbat in our very first (and hopefully last) house!

So now you know why I haven't written a blog post in a whole year. There's been a lot going on! But my blog is still doing well. (Since I started this post, it's been read 25,026 more times, bringing the grand total up to 996,446 reads!) And, despite some real struggles, and despite the fact that the world is intent on pretending that Covid over, Beau and I are doing pretty well, plugging along with the next chapter of our lives.

Dear readers, if you're still with me, tell me: What should the next chapter of my writing be?