August: It’s a Wrap!

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

I have to admit I like working in the summer. I like saving my vacation time for travelling to big cities in the Spring and Fall. So I didn’t take any time off in August, and that suited me fine. We had an unusually hot, dry summer. I can’t remember ever having so little rain. Here is where I admit that I like the rain, too! I don’t wish for anyone else’s summer vacation to be rained out, but a whole week without rain is unnerving – let alone getting through two months with just a few brief showers. Ask anyone here, and they will say they are ready for Fall and cooler temperatures. The new school year starts on September 8.

I enjoyed the work I did this month on a couple of new projects. Our computer instructor was on vacation so I filled in and provided a few classes, teaching people how to get started using Overdrive for e-books, how to use Google Photos, and the ins-and-outs of iTunes. Every day of the week at the library, we help people learn how to set up their new tablets, up or download their photos, attach their resumes to job applications, get started with Minecraft and Roblox, and you-name-it. All in a day’s work!

I completed a project at home, too – I removed all the sandy, depleted soil from the flower bed, replaced it with compost from the leaf pile and new top soil, and mulched over the top. Of course, I have nowhere to put the old soil, so a dirt pile is lurking behind the shed. Maybe I should have just put the new stuff on top and built it up a foot or so!

This month I got in 16 early morning workouts and 10 evening walks. Add in the gardening and I don’t think I had any completely inactive days. I am giving serious thought to joining the gym soon. I think I have enough of a fitness track record that it won’t go to waste. I’ll see if I can get a trial – to find out if I really can make myself leave the house to exercise. (My current stuff is all home-based). I have to say I dread changing and showering in locker rooms, but it is close enough that I can just go home if I want to.

In other health news, I had my annual dental check-up and had no cavities, whew! I’ve been using the Waterpik for 6 months now, so it has paid off.

August has been a great month for food. Rom and I had meals out 4 times, 3 by invitation and once on our own. We checked out the newest vegan place in town and it was lovely. In other social news, my family had a combined birthday celebration for my brother and sister, whose birthdays are less than two weeks apart. And I reconnected with an old friend whom I had not seen in 31 years!! – longer than many of my readers have been alive 🙂 A lot has happened since 1985…

Throughout August, I also had my fill of peaches and nectarines, plums, Coronation grapes, and watermelon feta salad. Oh, and salted caramel ice cream!

Movie_Clean Bin

Rom and I watched a DVD documentary called The Clean Bin Project in which a couple competes with each other to produce the least garbage for a whole year (à la Zero Waste Home). It was inspiring – a competition is not brewing at our house, but it put the issue to the forefront again.

I walk to and from work daily, a little over a kilometre each way. There is one litter bin on the sidewalk near the local school, one at the playground, a new one at the skate park, and several in my work building. The route I walk is well-travelled and has numerous bus stops. Every day I pick up as much litter as I can carry to the next litter bin, and every day it has been replaced by more. I don’t imagine that if I stopped, anyone would have an a-ha moment and realize the garbage is piling up – it just blows around from one property to another. It is very discouraging, but I would rather pick up some litter than do nothing.

You’ll be surprised to hear that I decluttered something BIG this month: most of our family LEGO collection! Link and I had built all the models when we bought/received them, and rebuilt them all once or twice, but we are ultimately not collectors. We had no intention of selling any sets. So Link decided to keep the pirate ship, and I decided to keep the train set and the Darth Vader Tie Fighter, and the two architecture sets I haven’t built yet, and a bin of basic blocks for making things freestyle. If you think that sounds like a lot, you should have seen it how much there was before! All the rest has been disassembled and donated to the library as loose pieces. (The library actively encourages LEGO donations and we have “LEGO Block Parties” for kids regularly). I feel good about its new home!

Spider Lamp

Lest you think I am too good a non-consumer, I succumbed to buying a spider lamp this month. I am sure they are a passing trend but I couldn’t resist and I really like it! Maybe I am compensating for the loss of the LEGO by buying household items that look like toys.

Finally, you may remember that Rom studies philosophy as a hobby. I have a general interest, but not at his level. He recently bought one of the Great Courses on deep discount and we have been listening to daily 30-minute episodes of the series The Modern Intellectual Tradition from Descartes to Derrida. As one does in one’s spare time 😉

I will leave you with a peek at what August looks like here. We don’t have hedgerows, but the roadsides and ditches are filled with colourful seasonal weeds!

(click one to enlarge and start slideshow, if you like)

How was your August?

30 comments

  1. Very busy times indeed but look forward to yoiur time off now. Re the Lego – the actor Hugh Bonneville and his family just gave away their Lego collection to a local library too. Great minds must think alike! Happy September.

    • Thanks for telling me that! I saw that there is a Channel 4 documentary he did about LEGO but unfortunately I can’t access it in Canada. I did take a week off to travel in July (unusual) so now I have no Fall trips planned. Work and more work ahead!

  2. Fiona

    It’s great that you are enjoying working the summer…I’m sure there are many grateful parents glad of the library services to keep their children occupied over the summer. What a brilliant idea that the Library accepts Lego (though I admit I was shocked to read that you’ve decluttered it!) I’ve been looking at our vast Lego collection that we just boxed up and paid to move to a new house and thinking I *must* declutter it. But I can’t (yet!)

    That is a lot of working out! I’m still surprised to read of so much litter on your walk to work. Tonight, I found one chip packet (potato crisps) on the walk home but that really stood out as an exception.

    Your vegetation is so different to here! I had only heard of: blackberries, rosehips and thistles. Do the blackberries get out of control there? Here, they are a dreadful pest. They grown metres tall and wide and have to be eradicated from public spaces.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer (and even get a little rain!)

    • Did you love the plant name “Touch me not”, Fiona?

      I too am interested in if blackberries are a pest. Can you eat the wild ones? Have to be careful here lest they are sprayed.

      • Hi L, yes, the blackberries are delicious! They grow everywhere so you can walk along and eat them if you don’t mind that bugs may have crawled on them…they’re not sprayed.

    • Fiona, I kept the LEGO until now and Link is 23, so you have a few years to go 🙂 It is typical here for kids (especially boys) to keep getting and building LEGO sets until they are at least 14, and indefinitely if they are on the geek and nerd spectrum!)
      As for the blackberries, yes and no. Nova Scotia is completely forested. All development (houses, businesses, roads, etc.) is reclaimed from the forest, and it ALWAYS reasserts itself. A cleared field will grow vegetation 3 feet tall in one year and be quite forest-like with thriving trees in 10 years. So we expect rampant growth of everything, including blackberries. I had them at the back of my property (edge of forest) and had to dig them up every year for about 10 years before they were completely gone! If I stopped checking, I bet they’d be back by next summer. But I don’t consider that out of control, just nature running its course. (I could have kept them and eaten the blackberries, but I didn’t want them to take over any more of the yard). We have another warm and dry week forecast, but the nights are cooling off.

    • EcoCatLady

      Seething with jealousy about the blackberries! I’ve tried for years to grow some here, but alas, I’ve never been able to keep one alive for more than a few months. Perhaps they require more rain than we get.

      • Our climate is very wet so I imagine blackberries thrive here because of it. I was surprised to hear from Fiona and Lucinda that they spread so much in dry Australian climates. Here, they grow at the edge of forests, so they must like the acidic black soil and dappled sunlight.

      • Fiona

        That floors me! They are such a prolific pest plant here (and it sounds the same in Canada.) On our farm when I was a kid, we used to plough 25 acres at a time to uproot the plants, then leave the roots in the baking sun to burn, then re-plough, then re-sun them…and they’d still come up! On the plus side, we lived on blackberry jam, fresh blackberries, blackberry pie, blackberry desserts…!

  3. We were in Canada recently and I was really struck by the masses and masses of flowering goldenrod everywhere – looking very beautiful! We used to have it in our garden, as the previous owner was a spinner and dyer and I think she used it, but it seems to have all disappeared over the years.

  4. Freckles

    Not related to this post, per se … but just FYI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyHWjShzpck

  5. Some companies apparently now use Lego walking in Team Building instead of the usual Coal Walking. Ouch!

  6. I do like rain but it is usual to go months without it. Yesterday afternoon and evening was misty and drizzly. But not really cold. I loved it. We so rarely have misty drizzly weather. Pouring cats and dogs. Crisp and clear. Yes. But not misty after mid-morning.

    Being a teacher I don’t get to pick my holidays. Except when I take long service leave – that extra leave Australian and New Zealand workers get. Last year we took the three weeks LSL in March in London. Loved that. Next year it will be France in September-October.

    • We have misty and foggy weather often. What I dislike is high humidity with no rain or mist. It’s oppressive. Oh, I wondered how you had time off during the school year! I look forward to hearing about your plans for France.

  7. EcoCatLady

    I LOVED the clean bin project blog, I didn’t know the DVD was out – I’ll have to see if I can find it somewhere. And I had NO IDEA that Legos came in specific sets just for building one particular thing! When I was a kid we just had a big box of square and rectangular ones and the rest was up to your imagination. I always wondered how people managed to make such intricate things from them… Who knew?

    Anyhow, your photos are lovely. Everything looks so lush and green. By August, things are gettin’ pretty darned crispy in these parts… of course I shouldn’t complain. I’m betting you can’t just ignore the lawn for months on end and trust that if you don’t water it, it won’t need mowing! 😉

    • There are still bins of LEGO for sale just for building “freestyle,” but most of their business is selling models of a particular thing like a Star Wars vehicle. The main reason Link and I lost interest in LEGO is that the recent models come with large plastic forms (like the hull of a ship) that are all one piece, and you just add a few bricks to decorate it. For us, that took all the fun out of building. We built all the models 2 or 3 times but then lost interest and didn’t want to keep them forever. It’s funny, since this has been our driest summer ever, all the plant life looks dry and leggy to me, unlike our usual summers when everything is unbelievably green and abundant. This is the only summer that I didn’t mow the lawn weekly!

  8. Jamie

    It’s so interesting to see a photo of fireweed. I’ve seen many signs here along the highways in the Snowy Mountains of Australia warning to look out for fireweed. Apparently it is a problem weed here in Australia that is spreading. I looked it up after seeing your photo and have learnt it is toxic for cows, horses, etc. Do you have any problems with it in Canada?

    I feel like we’ve had a very dry winter here, but looking back on the records it seems that while August had half the usual rainfall, June was the wettest June since at least 1974. I think my feelings are skewed because so much of the rest of the state had a lot more rain, but the weather often passed us by. In fact, many parts of the state had a few (unusual) snowfalls this winter, but we barely got a dusting in our town. I am very disappointed!

    P.S. Thank you for the tip to click through for the slideshow. It worked well on my phone.

    • Hi Jamie, when I was a kid, I knew fireweed as “cow killer,” so yes, it is a problem. Fields of grass with fireweed can’t be used for hay for livestock. Thanks for the feedback on the photo viewing. I never know how my posts look on various devices!

  9. jollyhollybanolly111

    You are so PRODUCTIVE! I have been meaning to go to the dentist for years now…

    • Thanks, Holly. You may need to visit the dentist after baby is born. I think being pregnant zapped a lot of calcium/minerals from me and really affected my teeth – I needed work done afterwards! Meanwhile Rom has launched on a dental visit program after a looong break.

      • jollyhollybanolly111

        I know – my teeth are so zapped! There are a bunch of things I need to get done before the end of the year to make the most of my benefits!

  10. What lovely shrubbery. Though… Uhh… Isn’t nightshade poisonous?!?!

    • Thanks, AP. Probably no different from the ditches and roadsides in Ontario. Apparently this nightshade is mildly toxic when eaten in great amounts. The birds know not to eat it!

  11. jbistheinitial

    Weird coincidence, Thomas and I were just talking about the clean bin project and low-waste/zero-waste living. We could definitely do more, but try our best. We (in our very typical, ‘have to analyise everything’ way) is a very privileged position to be in, though: to have the time, transport and money to buy from food co-ops that let us refill our own tubs, or to source products with no packaging. I know the vast majority of consumers even in wealthy countries do not have that privilege, let alone those in less developed or exploited economies.

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