September – It’s a Wrap!

Photo: creator.wework.com

Photo: creator.wework.com

Two words for September:

  1. Dry
  2. Work

This month we had our first ever watering ban – not allowed to water lawns and gardens, wash cars, etc. Uncanny! Usually we spend half the summer complaining about the rain and lack of proper weather. We were all suspiciously silent. By mid-August, I could hear mutterings about looking forward to Fall. Then we had another whole month of parching sun. Now everyone is openly looking forward to cool nights and regular rainfalls. We have no idea what the normally spectacular Fall foliage will look like. Maybe the leaves will just crumble away!

Given how seldom I had to mow the lawn this summer, I could have done a lot more gardening/landscaping, and didn’t!

We made our last summer walk to the neighbourhood ice cream stand, and made a point of getting Blizzards at DQ as well. It just isn’t summer without a Skor Blizzard!

I worked hard at the library all month, and did a lot of overtime including 4 weekend days instead of my usual one. I had a lot more variety at work since I was in two project groups, and I was sent with other managers for media training. We were filmed doing live interviews and then had them critiqued by our peers. I have been on camera a few times but never with an aggressive reporter (as this exercise simulated). One in our group was a natural but the rest of us stayed true to our librarian roots. I have decided that when I do public speaking in the future, I will video myself and play it back as practice, rather than just talking out loud to myself. It was a really helpful technique.

You know from a previous post that I reorganized my wardrobe into new cabinets. I had the biggest declutter ever: two dressers, a night stand, a headboard, a coffee table, an end table, a desk and a small storage cabinet. I am enjoying the much improved feng shui!

I had a spendy month. Besides the cabinets, I replaced the TV I broke when we had the house painted.

We saw (our grown-up kid) Link when we travelled to the Rockies this summer, so we skipped our annual trip to Toronto to see them. The budget was looking healthy this Fall and Link will not be home in December, so we decided to squeeze in a Toronto trip after all. I stumbled across a seat sale (airfare discount). Then we called the B&B where we stayed last time, and the owners said they would be unable to provide breakfast, so they offered us a big discount! It is shaping up to be quite an affordable trip. Not until mid-November, but I am greatly looking forward to it!

I had to take my car in for a coil recall recently and then a return visit for creaky noises. Fortunately, all is resolved. I didn’t enjoy having to make arrangements to drop off and pick up my car twice during work time. The service appointments were free (seeing as they were due to manufacturer defects) but I have budgeted more for car repairs next year, when my car will be 5 years old.

I did up a “draft” 2017 budget to see what my year might look like. I am not expecting any major changes, and I’ll be putting the same amounts into long-term savings and travel. This year I automated all of my charitable donations, and didn’t miss the money at all, so I can probably creep the amounts up a little. I am thinking of two changes. I missed having access to TV shows last year for the winter awards season – Superbowl, Grammys and Academy Awards, none of which can be watched live online. So we may reinstate the basic level of cable TV for a few months. We don’t get any over-the-air reception. I am still deciding whether to join the gym. I pay $31/month for skating, and a full membership is $48, so for $17/month more I can use all the facilities and there are loads of free classes for members. It is in the building where I work so it requires NO additional effort on my part!

I’ve been trying to figure out two things, fitness-wise. I do not want to take up running (and I mean I really, really will not take up running) but I envy the training and personal-best recording that runners get to do. So I am trying to think of a different activity that will motivate me with training and stats. (To my sister: it will not be geocaching, either). Conversely, the other thing I want to do differently, at least some of the time, is to think less! I was speaking with someone this week who does a dance-related fitness activity and finds it great for de-stressing because it is completely immersive. Whereas I use exercise machines and go for walks, freeing my mind to endlessly review work and personal issues that don’t need the attention. (Despite what I said in my last post about not needing to process my thoughts by dreaming at night!)

This has been an unsatisfying month for reading. I read three books that were only so-so: The Thing with Feathers (a science book about birds), Tokyo on Foot (a graphic novel-style travel memoir) and The Swans of Fifth Avenue (a fictional account of Truman Capote in the 60s). They all had enough to keep me going, but only just. I have 3 books on the go now, and they all have good aspects, but none are page-turners and I may or may not finish them: Selected Stories by William Trevor (he is a wonderful author, but the stories are best enjoyed slowly), In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art (good concept but not compelling so far) and Traveling with Pomegranates (a travel memoir written by a 50-year-old parent and her 22-year-old daughter who visited Greece together when they were both going through major transitions in their lives). Luckily I have a new reading project coming soon!

After 2 months, Rom and I have listened to 25 of the 36 lectures in the Great Courses philosophy audio course that Rom bought. I don’t listen to podcasts so I had to work on sitting and just listening for 30 minutes at a stretch! That in itself has been educational. I’m not sure if I’ll remember much of the content. “In one ear and out the other,” as they say. I am not an auditory learner!

I hope everyone with distinct seasons has enjoyed the changing of them. How was your September?

17 comments

  1. I loved ‘Tokyo On Foot,’ but for me it was more nostalgic rather than trying to learn something new, and more about the day to day of Tokyo life. It’s interesting to hear an opinion from someone who hasn’t been to Japan!

    What didn’t you like about ‘Traveling With Pomegranites?’ The characters, their stories, too solipsistic? It sounds like something I would like but may not actually be all that interesting.

    • Hi Laura, I went back and added a link to my Goodreads review of Tokyo on Foot. I spent ages poring over the maps and I liked the detailed and whimsical style, but I found the author/illustrator himself unsympathetic. I read another graphic novel memoir of a trip to Japan that I loved: Japan Ai by Aimee Major-Steinberger. I am enjoying Traveling with Pomegranates, but it is an introspective book about dark times in the lives of the authors, so I am working through it slowly. It is much more about their interior lives than their travel (which I knew when I picked it up).

  2. Fiona

    So much ‘parallel lives’! I’m shocked that you have had water restrictions applied in Nova Scotia. I looked it up and Halifax has average annual rainfall of 1388mm (compared to Melbourne on around 603mm.) Not surprisingly, we have had water restrictions for washing cars and lawns ever since my childhood.

    We have to be videoed for teaching PD sessions and it is very traumatic! I got around the system last time by videoing my classes on time-lapse. It showed what I was doing in fast-motion but I didn’t have to listen to my voice! We also have our kids surveyed at the end of each semester in every class, writing open, anonymous feedback. That’s very informative!

    My car had a warranty-covered maintenance issue a few months ago (makes me suspect my car) and we also had cable reinstated at Mr D’s insistence. He was spending more money in pubs watching football than if we had cable, so I reluctantly agreed. I also can’t listen well to podcasts!

    I can imagine you doing dance and I think you’d love it! Any thoughts on zumba?

    • Hi Fiona, In the past I have had difficulty doing exercise classes that involved learning sequences of steps, such as aerobics and NIA. If the class is virtually the same every week or there is a lot of repetition in each class, I do all right, but not if it’s changed up a lot! There is a workshop coming up – its promo asks “Would you like to learn to move freestyle, like no one is watching?” As pathetic as it is that I would need to LEARN to do that, I clearly need to go!! There are a couple of dance/movement classes/groups I’d like to try, and I will post when/if I do them!

      I don’t miss TV much (we have no free TV reception at all) but I was completely foiled last year when trying to find free ways to watch the awards shows, and I really missed them (and the ability to chat about them at work the next day). OK, I will be really honest, I am hoping to finally watch the DVD of Season 6 of GOT when it is released (usually around February) and then watch the new series weekly. My co-workers are tired of being on a spoiler ban around me for a whole year!! I hear the upcoming seasons will be short (fewer episodes).

      The quality on this Great Course is excellent. I have a hard time finding engaging podcasts. I have tried listening to a lot of bad ones! I never listened to audio books in the past either, but I have listened to a few good ones while on the elliptical machine!

      How are the kids about providing feedback for their teachers? Do you find they are negative and easily frustrated, or can they provide constructive criticism?

  3. EcoCatLady

    Very dry here as well. Water restrictions are just a way of life here in the arid west, but we’ve barely had a drop of rain since June, so it’s not good. Sigh.

    So have you considered Sling TV (live internet streaming television) instead of cable? I tried it for a month and while I really liked the service, I found that I didn’t watch enough of it to make it worthwhile. But I think it’s much cheaper than any of the other options. The packages are much smaller, and you can get a basic package for under $20/month. I get a ton of off the air channels, so there were really only 2 channels I wanted (ESPN and MSNBC – translation: Monday Night Football and Rachel Maddow) but they were on separate packages, so it would have been about $40/month – sooo not worth it. But if you’re just looking for the basics, it might be worth investigating – not sure what’s available there, nor how the Canadian packages and pricing would compare. Here in the states they have a free 1 week trial, and when you sign up you get it instantly… no waiting for installations or connections or anything like that.

    In terms of the exercise thing, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why I so totally LOVE cycling, as opposed to most other forms of exercise, which always turned into “exercises in rumination” if you know what I mean. When I’m on my bike I seldom think about anything else other than the beautiful scenery, the trail conditions, how many miles can we tally today, what strategy am I gonna use to try to keep up with CatMan over the next hill, etc. For a wimp like me, it has the added benefit that you can’t just stop when you decide that you’re tired and want to be done, because you have to get yourself home again! Don’t know if it appeals to you at all, but it does have many of the same benefits of running without, you know, having to take up running! 🙂

    • Hi Cat, I am looking forward to Sling and similar services coming to Canada. Not yet! So far our cheapest option is paying for the “basic” cable TV subscription of $25/month. I would have to pay separately for any non-basic channels, at $4 each. But HBO is only available bundled with The Movie Network for $21/month!

      I may have let it slip in the past that I don’t ride a bike – as in, I have never owned a bike and don’t know how to ride one. I grew up in a rural area where parents didn’t let their kids ride along the busy highway. A kind friend offered to teach me a few years ago but I couldn’t manage – it is too difficult having the height of an adult and the balance of a toddler! I just couldn’t rebound from the hard falls like a child does. It was very humiliating and I don’t envision trying again.

      • EcoCatLady

        I’m weeping inside at the thought of not being able to ride a bike. Of course, I couldn’t stand up on ice skates if my life depended on it! 🙂

  4. Sounds like you had a good but busier than usual month including a clear out of larger items. Glad you are enjoying the space that was uncovered. I tend to forget that I’m not primarily an auditory learner – visual first for me then auditory and lastly tactile. We just had to cancel a much looked forward to mini-vacation due to upcoming travel for 2 funerals. The good news there is that we will get to see much loved family.

    • Hi Juhli, As great as it is to get together with family, it’s too bad it takes a sombre occasion. I know you were looking forward to your getaway. Maybe you’ll have time to squeeze it in before your move. My learning styles are the same as yours! And for visual, I prefer reading first, then watching.

  5. The Great Courses Philosophy course sounds wonderful. But, like you, I am not an auditory learner, which is funny, now that I think about it, since it is thought that women listen better, while men see better. Still, that might just be an awful stereotype. It helps to have company listening to intellectual material like these, though. I’m sure Fall where you are will be spectacular despite the dry weather. I have never been to Canada but what pictures I have seen of your autumnal foliage never fails to leave me longing. As for gym, I use exercise machines as well, so I do know what you mean about reviewing issues that don’t need attention…

    • I am enjoying the philosophy course. It is a good jumping-off point for future reading. Whenever I come across the works of these philosophers again, I will think, “Oh yeah, that guy!” (No women yet except Simone de Beauvoir and Hannah Arendt). Science tells us that leaves lose their green colour in (our) Fall and the underlying colours are revealed. But in very dry conditions, the leaves can just die and go straight to brown and crispy. There is a great explanation here! I really do not need extra time to dwell on stuff – I need either distraction, or complete immersion!

  6. 1066jq

    I’m not auditory at all, don’t do podcasts or audio books. I’m very easily distracted when listening, but strangely enough not when I read—I get so deep in a story I have trouble returning to the real world at times.
    I use an at home walking/exercise dvd, I turn off the sound and listen to my mp3 while exercising. I don’t want to think when I exercise, just move.
    We had a dry summer too, but no water restrictions. Right now we’re waiting to see where Hurricane Mathew comes to our coast.

    • Hi, Are you in a southern state? I hope it tracks out to sea. For my home workouts, I get the best distraction level when I listen to music and read an e-book at the same time (when the activity allows). I have found a few audio books that have kept me interested but normally I find it a lot harder than reading print because my mind wanders. Out of the question to listen to audio books in the car!

  7. I’m not personally into Cross-Fit, but it comes to mind given your desire to “track” improvements the way runners do. I have colleagues who do Cross-Fit and they love it. It may be worth looking into for yourself. 🙂

    And, off-topic but hopefully it will make sense momentarily:

    Have you read any of Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series? He’s a bookstore owner who burgles to keep himself in business. Block also writes a character named Keller, who does wet work. As your words-of-the-month were “dry work” I went on a minor mental tangent. (You’re a librarian; somehow I think you’ll understand. 😉 )

    A n y w a y

    Your observations about characters (author/illustrator) being unsympathetic got me going further down that road. Block is just one example, but some authors have incredible talent when it comes to creating sympathetic characters. I often find myself rooting for “bad guys” (or, not-so-good guys) in books – even though I would never condone their behavior in real life – because they are just so darned LIKEABLE.

    • Yes- I have to say that CrossFit and HIIT appeal to me! But my local gym doesn’t offer them and I’m not motivated enough to drive across town and subscribe to a series at a different venue. Well, not until I have an “a-ha” moment and say, “Yes! I need this!”

      I like your train of thought! I do think it’s a talent when an author or film maker gets us cheering for the bad guy. In university when I took some Russian literature classes, I learned about the “unreliable narrator” technique which has fascinated me ever since!

  8. What is so special about a Skor Blizzard? I googled it as we don’t have that here.

    I can’t dance, struggled with a dance-type exercise class. But yes, definitely means you do not think of anything else. I couldn’t or I’d lead with the wrong foot. Doesn’t help that I’m left-handed.

    Hope you get some rain.

    • I am a fan of Skor bars and having them crushed in ice cream is very appealing to me 🙂 – crunchy toffee coated with milk chocolate (closest international choc bars are Heath and Daim). Hey, it rained all day!

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