What I Liked About September

Sebastian, Aloysius and Charles from Brideshead (1981)

Sebastian, Aloysius and Charles from Brideshead (1981)

Hey, September! It was a good one.

I will be brief about what I didn’t like:

  • Didn’t get roller skating this summer at all –Β  I don’t work near the Speed Skating Oval any more. The sidewalks in my neighbourhood are far too hilly and I’m not so good at stopping!
  • Worst exercise record all year – only 8 out of 16 work days that I was home – and it shows.

As always, there were lots of things to like.

  • Trip to the UK, as posted here
  • Last ice cream cone of the season. There are 3 ice cream stands within walking distance of my house. This summer we decided not to keep ice cream in the house, and go out for it instead. This reduced our ice cream consumption by about 99%. But in the interest of transparency, I did keep fruit-juice freezies on hand!
  • Yard work is ahead of schedule. I spent the month trimming the shrubbery. I have 9 of them that need to be cropped annually – some of them grow over 2 feet a year! (Forsythia and Weigela, if you’re wondering). Meanwhile, the lawn slowed down and only needs mowing once a month in Sept, Oct and Nov. We have also been power washing the siding on the house, after having had so much fun doing the shed. I must admit I felt sad to have obliterated the whole resident spider population, though. Next time, I will gently sweep them off and power wash afterwards.
  • The weather was spectacular, allowing all of the above things to happen! It did not rain the entire week we were in the UK (huh?) and it was great back home all month, too. Only one mild little post-tropical rain day. No wonder we all like Fall the best here.
  • I have decided to start tracking my volunteer hours, not because I begrudge the time, but because I want to know where my time goes. This month it was 20 hours.
  • I bought myself a luxury item this month, a sturdy and expensive (for me) tote bag that I can use while shopping/wandering on vacation, and will easily be packed flat in my suitcase. And then I bought a small Kipling bag to clip inside it so I don’t lose my wallet and tablet at the bottom of the tote – it had to be done, I tell you πŸ™‚
Nick Cave at work, 1985 (by Bleddyn Butcher)

Nick Cave at work, 1985 (by Bleddyn Butcher)

...and in his Brighton office now

…and in his Brighton office, 2013 (by Amelia Troubridge)

  • A neat bit of synergy happened. In London, Rom and I saw an exhibit of photos of Nick Cave, taken throughout his career. He has a new, autobiographical movie out. On a whim, I checked our local film festival schedule as soon as I got back from the UK, and they were screening it! So we attended the showing, which was at 10 p.m. on a weeknight, and went to work bleary-eyed the next day. The movie, 20,000 Days on Earth, is best enjoyed by fans or at least those with a little knowledge of his history. But it would be of interest if you like exploring the creative process of a musician. We were most impressed! As a librarian, I think it’s cool that he has his own archives.
The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars

The Grand Seduction

The Grand Seduction

I watched two in-flight movies this month. I saw The Fault in Our Stars which I had read just a few weeks before, and I thought they did a good job of it, capturing most of the best bits of the book. And I only sniffled a little bit on the plane! For light relief, I also saw The Grand Seduction, a Canadian comedy about an outpost community’s efforts to trick a doctor into setting up practice in their village. I had seen the original, Seducing Dr. Lewis, and the new one didn’t stray much, but it was very sweet. Anyone who’s lived in a town with no jobs would “get it.”

Rom and I didn’t get to any concerts in London, but back home we went to see the political-folk veteran Billy Bragg. Lefties like him have a rapt audience in Halifax. I’ve never been to a folk concert before (unless you count Great Big Sea) but he has a storytelling style that kept my attention throughout. We bought tix for two rock shows in October.

I had a most interesting and serious month of reading. I checked out two decidedly British books to get me in the mood for my UK trip. But Brideshead Revisited took me the whole month to read. I enjoyed it, but it was crawlingly slow at times. I have about a hundred questions about the book (spoiler alert): Why wasn’t the relationship between Charles and Sebastian defined as a gay relationship, when other relationships in the book were labelled as such? If it wasn’t, why did Charles not choose to distance himself from that perception? (They were taken for “fairies” in one scene). Am I the only one who didn’t see the Julia thing coming? How could a man hold his children in such disdain, refusing to even meet his youngest? Did his association with the Flytes benefit Charles or ruin him? And to complicate things even further, the book flip-flops between sincerity and satire. Charles is pining for his golden youth, and for a pre-war mentality that will never return. Of course, there are parallels with Downton Abbey in its preoccupation with social standing. As someone who was raised Roman Catholic, I was interested in the author’s take on the religion, and I wondered how the RC faith played out for him, since he was a convert. I could go on all day…I would like to read some literary criticism on it, or at least a cheat-sheet! Meanwhile, I must watch both the TV mini-series and the 2008 movie.

Before going on vacation, I loaded up my iPad with some books. I couldn’t find anything current, so I downloaded a couple of Project Gutenberg (copyright-free) titles. I became completely besotted with Edith Wharton’s The Descent of Man and Other Stories. It was brilliant! The title story could have been written last week as a commentary on modern life. To finish the month, I’m in the midst of Best Russian Short Stories. I’d read half of them in university and it was a pleasure to be reacquainted. I love the droll voice that the old Russian authors had. We sympathize with the characters (often hard-working, soulless government clerks), the worst fates befall them, and the storyteller essentially flips them off and tells us, “That’s how it goes!” And I keep going back for more πŸ™‚

I think it has messed with my head to read for a whole month about societies with strict social class systems. I will have to remedy that in October! As you know, I also read and reviewed The Transgender Child.

This month I have a serious book to read for book club, and of course, I left some heavy books to finish last for Reading Down the House.

Hope you had a good September!


  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful September, lack of exercise not withstanding πŸ™‚ You sure accomplish a lot in one month!!!

  2. Fiona

    You saw Billy Bragg!! I am ridiculously jealous – once again in a ‘bad’ way! In a whining way, even! (why do we live so far from everything?)

    And then backed it up with the Nick Cave movie.

    My life is unfair, Dar!

    The rest of the month and reading sounds excellent. As for the spiders: I think the rule applies that they were in ‘your’ territory. They’re not allowed to cross the line from garden to house here. All bets are off!

    • Billy Bragg used to come here every year. When I told Rom that and we hoped to go see him, he promptly didn’t tour here for the next 5 years! So it was a long wait. I know that it takes a lot of $$ for European and North American bands to tour Australia, that they would play a limited number of venues, and not come back very often. I used to feel like you did – bands were constantly announcing cross-country Canadian tours, and then I would find out they were touring from Vancouver to Montreal! Still true a lot of the time. So we pounce on any bands that come here, in case they don’t return! We get a reasonable variety of bands now that they make most of their money from touring rather than recording.

      I don’t appreciate spiders in the house. There are several kinds of insects that I destroy without regrets, indoors or out (no Jainist, me!)

    • You know Billy Bragg toured here in March this year? I didn’t go cause I had too much on and Mr S has said he will not go to any more Billy Bragg concerts with me. I love him! A chance discovery when I was at uni and I was hooked. Seem him live four times. And have his book, “The Progressive Patriot”.

      He does seem to tour here every three years or so. Maybe when he has a new album?

  3. Ditto what April said, you get a lot done. I’m just signed up to volunteer for one of our local charities and I’m really looking forward to it. Getting 20 hours in a month where you also had an out-of-country vacation is amazing and inspiring

  4. Juhli

    Sounds like a great month and, as always, thanks for the reading ideas!

  5. I watched The fault in our stars the other day (alone) and cried. It was theraputic. I also loved About Time which had lots of great dry witty English humour πŸ™‚ Sounds like a great month all in all!

  6. Glad you finished the summer off well. Trip to the UK is a highlight. Have a great Autumn.

  7. Brideshead is one of my favorite novels ever. I have read it and re-read it. And watched the long version of the movie over several straight days. Your questions about the book are good ones, and for me are part of the appeal of the book.
    Happy fall!

  8. Gam Kau

    I like you keep track of your accomplishments for the month, it’s very appealing to summarise. I have been unproductive, can’t seem to get any traction this year!

  9. You had a great month! I read an investing book, boy was that a slog…never again! πŸ˜‰

  10. I still have yet to read or watch The Fault in our Stars. I want to read it before I watch it. Unfortunately I am currently… 94 of 262 on the waiting list at my local library. Which I suppose is good… Considering about 5 weeks ago, I was 292 of 367… =/

    • It took me forever to get a copy from the library, too!

      One thing we always tell people at the library is: despite the long lists, there are usually lots of copies. For example, 400 holds and 40 copies mean that effectively there are 10 people waiting for each copy. Also, all of the holds aren’t active – loads of people suspend their holds until a later date, and that isn’t shown on the screen.

  11. What a busy month you’ve had! When my husband first got his water pressure cleaner he had so much fun with it. I joked that if I stood too still he would clean me!

  12. So no ice cream in winter? Is that just a personal choice or is it not sold?

    • Just a personal choice – last year we had ice cream at home continuously all winter. And I had it every day and could not ignore it. So this winter we’ve decided not to keep any in the house!

  13. Pingback: Book reviewsΒ  | lucinda sans

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