Accounting for: August

Random pic from new camera (at 800×600) – this is Gigi

I don’t have much to “account for” this month: besides our UK vacation, I didn’t do anything! So I will just chatter.

Sid at the parade


At the beginning of the month, our city had its annual civic parade. The captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team is a local guy, and his team won the Stanley Cup this year – for the third time. Sidney Crosby “brought home the cup” and the town celebrated all along the parade route in their Penguins jerseys. While I don’t actually watch NHL hockey, it is at least a game I understand, and “Sid the Kid” is a pretty nice guy.

Throughout the month, I made meals for my mom who was laying low after surgery last month. She is SO much better now. The waiting list for her surgery was 18 months and during that time she was like a different person – she said she wasn’t in pain but she is a stoic so I doubt that. Already she is much more mobile and looks 10 years younger. Go, Mom! I figure I owe her a few meals since she makes Sunday dinner for us every week.

We all got together for a family meal at a restaurant for a combined celebration of my brother’s and sister’s birthdays. Their birthdays are only two weeks apart. My brother recently moved back to the city after a few years in a different county, about 90 minutes away. We are all busy, but it’s much easier to get together now on short notice. I feel fortunate that we all get along and want to spend time together.

We aren’t at the stage of having to look after our parents, but we do check in on them and offer to help out in various ways. I like how our skill sets are different. My sister is a nurse. She stays up to date on their doctor’s appointments and medications. She accompanies them to consultations and acts as a patient advocate. After my mom’s surgery, my sister did the home care including injections, changing dressings and removing staples. She knows when to take action if they have any suspicious symptoms. My brother is a facility manager – that comes with construction, maintenance and project management skills. He can do a lot of house and building repair work for them including carpentry, plumbing and electrical. He is also good at pricing out jobs and recognizing scams. Although I am the least useful child, I visit my parents, keep them company, review financial matters with them and do their tax returns, and keep my mom supplied with library books!

I made an unplanned electronics purchase this month. I have a digital SLR camera, but since it’s big and bulky, I don’t travel with it any more. I have a “pocket” digital camera that I bring everywhere. Checking my records, I bought it in 2010, and the one before that was purchased in 2005. Even before that, I bought my “early days” digital camera from the same manufacturer. As a result, I know how to use all the features and settings. While I was in the UK, my camera failed – the shutter only opened part-way every time the camera was turned on. I missed a lot of shots while prying the shutter open with my fingers, and ended up using my iPad for some.


I debated buying another one. Most people use their iPhones but I have yet to upgrade to a smartphone with an acceptable camera. I confess to being a bit of a photo snob and I didn’t want to move backwards from my 14x optical zoom camera. For that reason, neither an iPhone or an iPad would do the trick. I did some research rather than automatically buying the latest from my favourite company. However, their latest did meet all my specs for the price, so I bought the same brand again. Of course, the reduced learning curve due to being familiar with their line-up was a factor. And they have 40x zoom now 🙂

Moomin stuff. Photo:

In my area, kids start a new school year a few days after Labour Day (Sept. 4). I haven’t had a kid in school for a long while, but my academic ties never fade, and it always feels a bit like the start of a new “year” for me, too. This is reinforced at the public library where I work, because we offer seasonal programs. Plus, who can resist looking at all the novelty stationery in the stores at this time of year? The Moomin line is so cute!

I would love to hear how August went for you. Does September mark a new beginning for you or anyone at your place?


  1. Glad to hear your mom is feeling better. August was bitter sweet for me, my baby brother, one of my best friends moved to Canada.. Halifax actually, he will be going to SMU for his MA. I miss him and now thinking about changes for my own life. All the best for your September

    • Hi PK, Maybe there are some practical things I could do to help your brother here in town or at least let him know there is someone local he can turn to. I have emailed you. SMU is a good school and I hope he will be welcomed and happy in Halifax. Happy September to you!

  2. 1066jq

    Your lucky that you and your siblings have such useful skills and that you get along well. Glad your Mom is doing well, surgery is always scary, why an 18 month wait?

    • I feel lucky, too. The 18-month wait was due to the Canadian health care system. All of our health care is free (Mom’s expenses were zero) but there are not enough physicians, surgery appointments or hospital beds to meet demand so everyone has to wait for non-emergency care and non-life-threatening conditions.

  3. I spent some time looking at cameras yesterday – I really don’t know which one to buy. My camera seems to have an out of focus bit on each photo and so I should replace it soon but I feel paralysed into making a decision there is so much choice!
    Glad your mum is doing well – it sounds to me as if you are every bit as useful as your siblings. There are 3 of us and we each help in our different ways.
    September for me is the end of summer and the start of thinking about that dreaded event in December – I make a mental note to make some cards and a few gifts etc and plan to start well ahead of time and then before I know it November is here and I have not done a thing! I doubt it will be different this year.

    • Since I have had good luck with the same line of cameras, what I do is check out the reviews for the latest one and then compare it to its competitors. I’m glad you have help in caring for your mum too. The weather cooled off dramatically this weekend. It feels like Fall! Do you have a date you usually close up your cottage for the season and stop going?

      • We don’t stop going to the cottage we go all year round and often spend New Year there (well did – pre flood!) Will be going for a week at the end of September – weather can be good and lots of work in the garden tidying up for the winter. My Sony camera has been quite good for the price and I like the view finder – not many new ones have this feature. I keep looking around and must make the effort now to take it further and read some reviews.

  4. Margie in Toronto

    So glad to hear that your mom is doing so much better – and how wonderful that you and your siblings have worked things out so well between the three of you – so many times the burden falls on just one child.
    August was fun – and busy. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the first summer I’ve had off since I was 15 and I have made the most of it. I’ve had a great “Staycation” – and this past week I’ve been lucky enough to be able to spend time with two friends who are visiting from Northern Ireland. I just can’t believe how quickly the time has passed.
    And yes, for me September is the New Year. I’m ready to start cooking again, I had to actually look out a sweater to wear this morning as it was so cool, and I’ve bought a new Day-Timer to get myself organized. I’ve got a few plans to work through and even though I’m still not back to work (even part-time), I do want to keep busy and not waste time in any way. As I get older, it does become more and more precious.
    But I do give myself days off along the way and I’ve been doing a lot of reading – have a huge pile of “To Be Reads” sitting in a corner of the living room and it is such a luxury to have a day to just sit and read – I really appreciate it.
    I saw a great documentary last week about Gertrude Bell and there a number of new Docs coming out that I plan on seeing. TIFF (the Toronto Film Festival) starts this week and I usually manage to get tickets to one or two films, and the new Guillermo Del Toro exhibit opens at the Art Gallery at the end of the month and I have tickets to the Members preview showing so September will be busy.

    PS – even though I am a Leaf fan, Sid the Kid will always be a hero to me after he scored that “Golden Goal” at the Olympics.

    • Fall has arrived and I feel the urge to cook new meals again too. I kind of look forward to spending more time indoors reading and watching movies (lately I have spent all my time gardening). Some of the films from TIFF also make it to the Atlantic Film Festival so I will keep a look out. In all the Stanley Cup hubbub I forget about Team Canada!

  5. EcoCatLady

    Ooooo 14x zoom! I’m seething with jealousy. I haven’t actually used my small camera in a while – I decided it was just too much to carry both it and a phone on bike rides, so I bought a Motorola phone with a decent camera. It takes pretty good shots for landscapes and the like, but oh, how I miss the real zoom lens! I’ve actually seen these crazy things that you somehow attach onto the back of a phone to give it real zoom capabilities. I bet you have to have a special phone to make it work though.

    Glad your mom is doing better – 18 months sounds like an awfully long time to wait for surgery. But I’m sure not having to take out a second mortgage to afford it is a decent trade off. 🙂

    • Hi Cat, I am hoping to eventually have a pretty good cell phone for times when I just can’t carry a camera as well. I agree about the surgery. Her only other option was to get it done privately out of the country and that is a risk as well as a huge expense.

  6. I can totally understand your decisions on the camera – before reading your post, I was opening my laptop and thinking “I only bought this cause a friend offered his ‘hand me down'”. I just don’t have the bandwidth to select from so many options, and knowing I don’t really care that much!

    It was interesting to hear and understand more about your family. My grandmother had a big ‘month’ with a hospitalisation for a stroke, and later a transfer into a nursing home closer to most of her five children (from where she was living and was hospitalised). She’s 95, and we do think it’s the beginning of the end, so it’d nice to have her settled somewhere calm and nearby to drop by. As to her children – the five, well… it’s been all sorts of dramas!

    Your monthly posted kicked me in the behind, and I’ve published my August summary now too.

    • Hi Sarah, Your grandmother is 95 and didn’t live in a nursing home until now? Or was she transferring to a closer one? My brother is facility manager of a nursing home. He calls it “end of life care” because most of the residents are very aged and frail and they have maintained some home comforts and independence until they moved in. Not to be grim, but he says most of the residents are at the home for not more than 2 years. I am sad to hear there is family drama. It is one of my goals to have my “affairs in order” and ensure my wishes, finances, and estate are all in good order long before it is necessary. I know you feel the same!

      • Hey Dar -she’d had a lot of in home care as she could afford it (four visits daily) but otherwise could have been in a nursing home a LOT earlier. She died yesterday, and I think it’ll be an adjustment but we all know it’s for the better. That she is at peace. It was ‘only’ five weeks since her stroke which seems enough time to settle for the end…

  7. You have Moomin in Canada?! Huh. I thought they were only a Scandinavian thing. I love Moomin. Glad your mom is feeling better!

  8. I think you’re not the least useful kid. Sitting and keeping company and cooking are all needed.

    I now we’ve touched on this before, but is there no private option in health care and surgery in Canada?

    I’d love to be into cameras and taking good photos. But I just couldn’t be bothered carrying the weight around.

    • Officially there is no private health care option. Every once in a while, a doctor or a practice will test the waters by opening a fee-based clinic. They usually get shut down. Some services are a combination of public and private, for example, some eye clinics do surgeries for the public system, and also offer private Lasik, which is considered optional/cosmetic. I don’t know why, but private MRIs have been deemed acceptable, and elective ultrasounds for parents-to-be. The big worry in Canada is that we have a severe shortage of doctors (they can go to school here and then make much more money in the US) so if there was a private healthcare stream, our doctors might leave the public system and go private, and then the public system would collapse.

      • We have this strange mix of public and private health. If I’d waited for my surgery on the public list, it may have been years. Even having a private surgeon in a public hospital would have meant waiting at least 6 months, with likely chance of having surgery postponed if the theatre was needed for others. Going private meant I picked my date and didn’t have to wait.

        If we don’t have private health insurance and we earn over a certain amount, we are taxed an additional public health levy. Basically the govt wants to push high income earners into private health insurance. It takes the pressure off the public system (reducing waiting lists etc).

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