I spent the end of October and start of November in Toronto. When I got back, I knew I’d need to lay low for a while and draft my 2018 budget!
I hoped to economize enough to save at my usual rate this year, despite having bought a new car in March. I came up short by $1300 – not coincidentally, the amount of money I spent on electronics this Fall. I have no regrets, but I will need to stay frugal throughout next year to catch up. I am usually good about saving on groceries and monthly bills, but I overspend on snacks, clothes and gifts.
I had a set of winter tires put on the car. Rom and I made a deal for our first year of shared car ownership that I would pay the insurance and he would pay for the winter tires – the two amounts were almost identical.
The end of October marked one year of gym membership. It has been a good investment. I go 4-5 times a week except for vacations out of town. To celebrate my gym anniversary, I bought a pair of swim fins. Using them worked out muscles I didn’t know I had! I briefly considered cancelling the membership to save money, but I like swimming and skating too much to quit.
While I’m on the topic of money, Black Friday has really taken hold in Canada in the past 2-3 years. At first everyone thought it was ridiculous because our Thanksgiving is in October. The 4th Friday of November is not a holiday weekend or a day off. Our biggest sale each year was always Boxing Day (Dec. 26) which included electronics, furniture, winter clothing, and of course all the leftover Christmas décor. I have to say, though, that Black Friday makes a lot of sense for people who buy Christmas gifts, because they can buy expensive gifts or treats for themselves at the year’s best prices. Before Black Friday sales, we mostly had to pay full price for everything up to Dec. 24. It has given retailers a big boost in the 4th quarter. So now I am getting requests from my employees to take a vacation day to shop, and it’s understandable! For the rest of us, the online deals are excellent, too. I try to do a fair share of shopping at independent local shops, but they mostly do Black Friday now, too.
This month I went to the Farmers Market, which sells lots of local and handmade gifts, and two craft sales/bazaars. I have been decidedly uncrafty these past few years, but I always say I’ll get back to it. Meanwhile, I can admire other people’s work.
The weather was very mild for November – only a skim of snow one day. So I had no excuse not to get the yard clean-up done, and I planted bulbs. I hope the crows won’t pull up the shoots in the Spring like they did last year!
I finished reading a book recently that I had been reading for 16 months! I borrowed Selected Stories by William Trevor from the library last year and renewed it twice. I was blown away by the stories. I didn’t want to rush through them – they really needed to be savoured. So I bought a copy and continued reading a story or two every few weeks until I finished all 48. They are probably not for everyone. Some have amazing plot twists. But a lot of the stories focus on moments of clarity, those moments when everything comes together and you have a realization – especially about yourself. He got into the minds of his characters, especially women. Some of his themes were people who had a strong sense of duty, people who accepted their lot in life, and people who kept going on after a loss. I am probably underselling the book. I thought it was brilliant, if you are the contemplative sort.
I did the most fun project in November, for an exacting type, anyway! My mom is a voracious reader, much more so than me. I have started bringing her books from the library every couple of weeks. I was starting to lose track of which books I’d brought her before. I asked to see her ongoing list of what she’s read. It turns out Mom has recorded the titles of books she’s read for the past 18 years! For my own benefit, I made her a Goodreads account and entered all the books on her list, all 1266 of them (that averages 70 books a year). So now I can check on my phone if she’s read a book before. I also exported the list to a spreadsheet, printed it in author order, and gave a copy to Mom, who doesn’t have Internet. She can now see at a glance what she’s read by her favourite authors, and I can help her find books to finish series and so on. I enjoyed this tremendously.
For the past few years, Rom and I have invited the extended family (9 of us) for a meal to celebrate my mom’s birthday each November. We like doing it, but this year my brother and his gf have a new house and they invited all of us over instead. What a relaxing day!
This Fall Rom has two new obsessions (he tends to have all-consuming interests). One is collecting records again, the new heavy-weight ones, a lot of which are on coloured vinyl. The other is learning about cryptocurrencies. You cannot imagine how much I have heard about these two subjects in the past two months. But have you heard about CryptoKitties?
A note to my new readers who arrived because of the recent post about cannabis: this is more like the normal content of the blog – back to our regular programming, haha!
How was your November?
What a beautiful thing you did for your mum. She must have been so pleased. The book by William Trevor sounds interesting. Only, I think it’d be too heavy-going for me. Cryptocurrency…is that what skyrocketed to $10,000 in November?
Hi Vera, Thanks. The Trevor book has a few stories that read as “heavy” but a lot with great suspense and plot twists. In my 3 favourites, a blind man sees the world through rose-coloured glasses (The Piano Tuner’s Wives), a mom begins to have suspicions about the rigid routines of her adult son (Gilbert’s Mother), and the reader finds out a devoted wife is not what she seems (A Day). But I can’t say a word more about any of them without spoilers! Yes, BitCoin is in a bubble phase!
Thanks, Dar. Your succinct descriptions of the 3 favourites have made the book even more tantalising now. I am going to write them down and try to get a copy of the book to read (if only those stories).
I read at approximately the same rate as your mom. 🙂
November was a month of adjusting to some major changes in my household, as my husband’s medical condition has required a new daily treatment regimen. But work-wise, for me, it was fairly light ~ at least compared to September and October. (I’m self employed though, so while a light schedule can be a blessing time-wise, it’s also a stressor budget-wise.)
I will look into your William Trevor book recommendation.
Hi Mrs. F, with time I am developing more empathy for people like yourself who live with someone with a chronic illness or condition. It is not something I’ve dealt with (or at least not well, or for a long time) but I hope I am up for it when the time comes.
Your mom is my new hero. 70 books a year sounds like a great way to spend time. I’m intrigued by Selected Stories by William Trevor. I have added it to my list of books to read.
I hope to catch up with her! I was impressed by the Trevor book – some of the stories are slow and sedate, but a lot of them are thrilling!
What a great gift for your Mom and it is lovely that you share your passion for reading with her.
It was a gift to me to always have books at home and to be read to.
I always love your budget posts. You are my hero.
Well, I am not sure that buying a new iPhone instead of reaching my savings goal was exemplary, but I am OK with it!
Sounds like my kind of book – might take a look but after Christmas – I am going to download Sybils book for Christmas (do you know her blog – Sybils Witters on – link on my blog) she writes stories and self publishes.
Your Boxing day sale is the same as ours but Black friday does seem to be taking over now – everything going up in price over here – the Brexit effect – so everyone looking out for a bargain – shops very quiet this weekend when I was out with mum.
Your mum does read a lot – my mum does too but has a very narrow category of the ‘Miss Marple’ type – she can probably repeat them word for word – actually she could probably write one.
I get the feeling your posts are less frequent at the moment so if I don’t hear from you again before Christmas and I get too busy to blog I will take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy one.
Thanks, Vivien! I have the best of intentions for writing more posts in December. But just in case – Happy Christmas to you and yours, too!
That is the most delightful story about your mother! I can imagine the joy in discovering a record dating back 18 years. Did you find out new things or see your mum in a different way after viewing her reading choices over that time? Was Link interested in the list as well. Things like that are almost an inheritance to pass on. Also delightful to have finished the book after 16 months! That is such a nice concept: savouring a book and not rushing it.
Yes and no…I have been supplying Mom with library books for the past year and I am unabashedly trying to stretch her tastes a little bit. What I discovered is that she had always found her books at flea markets or passed along from friends, and she read everything that came her way regardless of quality, because they were available. (Although she did draw the line at Harlequins). So I have found her tastes are actually more deep and wide ranging now that there are more options. I also appreciate that she will tell me when she doesn’t care for something I’ve chosen.