There are always a few things I dislike about each month so I’ll get those over with.
I’ll be honest. I have been a slug this month. My workouts have ground to a halt and I’ve even walked to work less. I can feel my fitness level falling! A series of small events conspired to make this happen. First of all, my nephew (13) stays overnight at our house occasionally, and when he is here, we have a different morning routine, and no time for workouts. Then, my elliptical machine has developed a horrible squeak which a bit of grease won’t fix, so it needs a service call. Finally, my work and volunteer schedule has varied a lot, throwing me off my routine. All of this points to my workout routine being inflexible. I like to work out at home, first thing in the morning. If that doesn’t happen, I get no exercise other than walking to work. And when my schedule is weird, I take the car more often!
It’s not only fitness that has fallen off. I’ve been a bad housekeeper as well! Rom picked up the slack.
Happily, there was lots to like about November. On the flip side of the fitness conundrum, I enjoyed a lot of nice snacks this month 🙂 I found myself at 3 craft/bake sales and somehow went home with treats each time! I was also involved in a couple of dinners. I was invited to a spaghetti sauce contest/dinner, and although mine was not the winning entry, we had fun comparing! Rom and I made a family dinner for my mom’s birthday as well.
I accomplished the two main before-the-snow tasks: raked and cleaned up the yard, and had the summer car tires swapped out for the winter ones: thereby guaranteeing we would have no snow!
I live on the same street as a high school, and every time I walk to and from work, and home for lunch, the neighbourhood is always swarming with kids going to/avoiding school. I am now so much a part of the scenery that a number of students have started saying hello to me, and packs of kids will even squoosh themselves together on the sidewalk so I can get past 🙂
I have run the teen program at the library 3 times this month, as well as having my nephew around, so I am feeling a bit more in touch with those millenials.
It’s been a good month at work. Our library system has a new CEO and we had a meet-and-greet event. I have been training an enthusiastic new staff member which is always a pleasure. Next month, our new central library opens with lots of festivities.
It was a good month for reading, too. After my recent grumble, we read an excellent book for our book club this month: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. The themes were intense and sad, but it was all wrapped up in meta-fiction, philosophy and science. We had a good talk about our future selections and tried to find titles that won’t discourage us from reading and attending, like The Orenda did! We may even throw in a Brunetti mystery just for fun.
The rest of my reading for November was:
Best Russian Short Stories, edited by Thomas Seltzer. This is a free e-book from the Gutenberg Project. It contains lots of classic stories I remember from university, like The Cloak and The Christmas Tree and the Wedding. But there were many I hadn’t seen before. I read this slowly over the course of a month, among other books. You probably know that Russian literature has a world view we might consider grim, but there is a certain levelling quality about it: the high and mighty will get their come-uppance, the poor and meek will fall even further, so really it doesn’t matter about your station in life: we’ll all get it in the end! And the stories are so clever, they make you laugh about it.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Another classic freebie on my e-reader. I loved this book! It was a social satire about a community of older women and their strict rules of conduct. The narrator is a younger woman who comes to visit and observes their weird ways. She participates in town life, and is very fond of the ladies, but pokes fun at them at the same time. Their orderly life is sometimes disturbed by the drama of someone new coming to town. The most fascinating thing? They all find men entirely optional.
The Birth House by Ami McKay. I mentioned in my Reading Down the House update how much I loved this book. It was historical fiction about a midwife, but so much more than that. My favourite aspect of the book was the way it made me think about the role of women and self-determination. Like all healers, Dora was treated with suspicion. When the only path available to women was to get married and look after a family, she took the only out.
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Finally, the author has created a new title after the Scott Pilgrim series! This graphic novel is about a restaurateur who has reached a crossroads in her life. Her new building renovation has come to a standstill and so has her love life. It is about coming of age in your 20s, but also: what do you do after success?
The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall. You can tell me all you want that there is no “British national character,” just as I will say there’s no “Canadian national character,” but the Brits do share a cultural heritage that is distinctive. The author hits on one of the key points I’ve always felt has defined modern Britain: post-war deprivation. As America boomed in the post-World War 2 years, the UK had a painfully slow rebuilding, which included rationing until 1954. The other, not mentioned in this book, is that the UK is an island nation (or rather, two island nations) which is very different from sharing a physical border with other countries and cultures. The author of the book discusses things like the House of Lords, cricket and the Sun (all of which seem very weird to outsiders). I didn’t find the book as good as Kate Fox’s book Watching the English, which is more about people’s behaviour, but I still liked it.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. A puzzle-novel about a writer who finds a journal washed ashore. She tries to find out the fate of the diarist, a Japanese school girl. The stories of the writer, the student, the student’s father, uncle and great-grandmother all become intertwined. There is some question as to whether the events in the book are current and whether the writer can influence anything that happens. I loved the way the author directly commented on the passage of time, and was deeply concerned with ethical life choices.
November was also a month for remembrance but I’ll talk about that in another post. To end on a positive note, I only just got back to the skating rink for the season, so I hope there will be lots of skating in December!
How was your November?