What I Liked About November

Image of a sea slug from colorkiddo.com. I couldn't bear to upload an image of a real slug. I hate them!

Image of a sea slug from colorkiddo.com. I couldn’t bear to upload an image of a real slug. I hate them!

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.

My non prize winning but very delicious spaghetti sauce (for veggie lovers only)

My non prize winning but very delicious spaghetti sauce (for veggie lovers only)

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.

Birth House

Birth House

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

Seconds

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

The Anglo Files

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

A Tale for the Time Being

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?

39 comments

  1. Poor election results due to a non-voting public started us off poorly, but I was encouraged by votes for minimum wage increases and no fracking in four communities. Thanksgiving was grand. Exercise was sporadic, but on the whole OK. So, I will give it a C. Unfortunately, the first phrase will be the gift that keeps on giving.

  2. I’m reading ‘Watching the English’ at the moment. I can’t believe we’re really that eccentric!

  3. I’ve been a lot slack about posting about books lately, and haven’t read a lot, but I did read the Ruth Ozeki book as a colleague loaned it to me on my return from Japan. I didn’t love it, and it was slow reading whilst I was on holidays, but I did get it read to return to her!

    Wow, more learnings for a non snow Aussie – the idea of winter tyres and raking the yard are a little foreign to us. I believe, from my Canadian friends, there are some cars with all weather tyres, right?

    Glad your work is going so well – you can imagine from my lack of posts, mine’s busy!

    • Hi Sarah, I was hoping all is well with you and your work is just busy. Wow, I finished the Ruth Ozeki book in 2 evenings so didn’t find it slow at all! But maybe too serious for a holiday. Yes, we can use all-season tires but they are not as good on snow and ice so I won’t chance it. Hope you can post with an update one of these days!

  4. Fiona

    What times are sunset and sunrise in December? I always feel sluggish as the days really shorten – time to hibernate! It is amazing how interruptions to routines can interrupt things, too.

    I like reading translated books from non-English speaking countries but I’ve always struggled with Russian books. Short stories are a great idea. The Anglo files sounds interesting, too!

    November here: busy. But only 4 teaching days left to go…then no more school till almost February!

    • Our sunrise and sunset times right now are 07:31 and 16:35, just a few minutes off from the shortest day on Dec 21 when we should have exactly 8 hours between the two. I am very happy for you that vacation is coming up so soon!

  5. haha, it never fails that if you’re prepared for the snow, none will come. We had a little here; thankfully it melted the next day. Your spaghetti sauce sounds yummy. I often make veggie lasagna with spinach, onion, broccoli, and carrots, and now I’m inspired to do the same combo in my spaghetti sauce.

    November was a bit rough for me as you know, but lots of good things too – several birthday parties, our NYC day trip, and a few days off from work for Election Day, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday. Glad we are in a busy time of year!

    • Yeah, busy does help. I hope you post about your NYC trip! I make veg lasagna sometimes, too. We’ve had a dusting a snow but it didn’t stick!

      Black Friday is strange here. It isn’t the day after a holiday Thursday, it’s just an ordinary work day. Yet because of spillover from US marketing, stores are advertising Black Friday sales. Mostly they lasted the whole weekend. I had planned a long time ago to shop with my mom that day, not knowing there would be big sales. And the stores were only “average” busy because most people were working! So we actually did quite well.

  6. Holly

    The elections here started November off very badly and it’s been downhill from there. The weather was unseasonably cold, my husband went back into the hospital (and now skilled nursing) yet again, and my physical activity bottomed out entirely. I worked a lot. On my own time I ddn’t read a thing other than blogs. I did complete an online style challenge program I enjoyed very much. I also enjoyed many small indulgences. I ate chocolate truffles, drank delicious coffee and wine and found already made gluten-free pumpkin cake bars to serve for Thanksgiving. And through some twist of fate I lost 5 lbs. I really had to grasp for those good things! Thanks for making me think about it.

    • I know the hospital time is a challenge for everyone. Hope things are evening out. It sounds like all my blog friends fell off the wagon re: exercising this month, except for Julee at paidinchickens! Sure wish we could have seen the results of your style challenge!

  7. It looks like you read a lot of interesting books this month! I was participating in NaNoWriMo so I didn’t get any reading done but hopefully I’ll have more time in December! Also reading about the ‘millennials’ greeting you and such made me smile 🙂

  8. That sauce looks delicious, and I’m jealous of the bake/craft fairs! I’ve been meaning to go to ours in the area for the last year, so maybe I’ll try to do that this weekend. Also, The Birth House sounds really interesting. I’ll have to see if our library has it.

  9. I spent all of November writing for Nanowrimo so not much reading completed. I did read We were Liars though which I loved. Started The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian during the weekend.

  10. Alice

    Your November was a prolific month and your spaghetti sauce looks tasty! My November was rather uneventful and quiet but we were/arelucky enough to watch some nice films at the local cinema club that restarted showing. And I am minus two books of my reading-down-the-house-list! Greetings xx

  11. Sounds like you had a great month (minus the exercise which, in Canada, I can’t even imagine being outside to walk to the car let alone walk to work!). Also, thanks for the heads up on the books, I will definitely check out the ‘Anglo Files’ as I’ve always been fascinated by the UK.

  12. Gam Kau

    Thought you might like this blog, not that you are in need of more reading material…
    http://juliasweeney.com/december-2-2014/

  13. This is Julia Sweeney again, v. funny:

  14. How nice that you are around enough to have the teens start acknowledging you. I love the youth with some of my best conversations taking place with college students I met around town and living near me.

  15. Ginger R

    November. I spent most of the month focused on one thing that I both liked and disliked. Knee scope surgery on the 11th. I disliked the pain before-hand and the periodic bad days during recovery. I disliked having my life disrupted with a bad knee. I was on a good tract for many of my goals. I was walking 4-5 miles a day and had lost 60 lbs. I was decluttering and deep-cleaning our home – room by room. Most of that was put on hold while I hobbled around trying hard not to swell. I liked finally getting the repair job. (Complex tear of the meniscus and arthritis.) The recovery has it’s ups and downs. A good day – has me up and moving. Which leads to a bad day of swelling and pain. Walking off balance – leads to pain in my other knee and in my back. Geez! This too, shall pass. So far – December is off to a good start. I began physical therapy and feel much more hopeful about the future of my knee. ;-D Can’t wait to get back to my walking. It’s such a great mood improver. What I really liked about November: Spending Thanksgiving with my parents and my 6 siblings. We have the best time together. Another good thing: I did all my Christmas shopping online on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Done! Now that feels like a major accomplishment.

    • Ginger, what a lot of trials and tribulations! It still sounds like the surgery was a good idea and that you are on the right track. Wishing you well for December. Is it icy where you live?

      Glad to hear you had a great Thanksgiving. I took 2 days off work and did all my Christmas shopping. Happy to have it finished!

  16. Ginger R

    No ice. I’m in Texas – about 50 miles north of Houston. We have very mild winters. I’m still in shorts and tees!

  17. Have you watched th TV series, Cranford? It’s lovely! Great actors too!

    As to sluggish! I’ve joined right in with that – except, as you know, I even stopped blogging. But I’m back now. And will start exercising too.

    Now, I know I could Google it, but easier to ask you. Are winter tyres like fat, 4-wheel drive ones? Does it matter if there’s no snow when you drive with them?

    • I didn’t know there was a Cranford series – thanks! I will find it. Winter tires are the same size as regular tires but they have deep treads that “adhere” better in snow and ice, and channel water away. They are fine for driving on dry pavement – less fuel efficient, but necessary.

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