In and Out of October

Toronto Street Art

Confession time. I started Christmas shopping in October. Looks like this will be a regular thing – we travel to visit Link in the late Fall and bring along gifts for Christmas. I did find it put me in a receptive mood for the season, even though it was before Hallowe’en! I am now one of “those” people who is scouting out Christmas gifts just past the “Back to School” sales. Despite everyone complaining about retailers displaying their Christmas wares too early, I was unable to find any Christmas wrap or gift bags in the stores, so I had to leave behind generic looking gifts – I will have to buy extra this season to take along for next year!

Fall Colour

We have two celebrations in October – Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en. Thanksgiving is always just a family meal/feast but we are surrounded by natural beauty at the lake. Every year my Dad collects foliage and flowers to make a display.

Our Halloween decor consists of paper ghosts

Hallowe’en was an atypically warm and clear night. We usually get about 35 kids at our door, but this year we had about 75! Before the clocks changed, it was getting dark around 6:30, so the younger kids were taken around the neighbourhood starting at 6, while teens waited until 7:30 or later. Knowing this, some households only give out candy early to the little ones, and then turn out the porch light (indicating they are not home or have run out of candy) – while others give out fun stuff such as Skittles and Twizzlers to the young ones, and break out the much cheaper chips for the late crew!

There is a sentiment that teenagers should not be trick or treating because they are too old and it’s for children. I disagree. They want to maintain an innocent and child-like tradition and cause no harm! The days of trick-or-treat pranks are long over. Communities support few to no activities for teens other than sports teams. When I worked with teens at the public library, they would gather there in large groups because no one’s parents allowed them to have several friends over at once. Outside of school hours, they didn’t see each other.

I used to let Link have Hallowe’en parties with 5-10 friends. They were ecstatic to be allowed gather, dress up, do each other’s makeup, take photos, eat junk food and watch scary movies. I miss those times, and I’m happy Link still does that with friends now!

October marked another celebration. Some readers may remember that last Fall, blogger PK’s brother came from Kampala (Uganda) to Halifax as an international student. We met up regularly throughout the year. He has just graduated with his Master of Finance and will begin his new career in Toronto in January. I am a beaming proud friend! Meanwhile PK has settled in Halifax in the past 6 months, obtained a more career-track job, and is ready to move to their next, better apartment.  These things gladden my heart! On the flip side, whenever I hear anyone complain about immigration levels in Canada, I just want to say f*** off 😊

Canada’s other Justin: if you like Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson or John Mayer, you would like Justin Nozuka

Every October, our city hosts the Halifax Pop Explosion, a music festival that uses multiple venues, in the style of SXSW and NXNE. We go to enough shows that we buy wristbands each year, then take our pick of shows. We saw Jeremy Dutcher, Bonnie Trash, and Justin Nozuka, among others. We love to support live music since it’s one of the only ways musicians get paid now.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

We made our annual trip to Toronto to visit Link. Of course we would like to see each other more often but it is cost prohibitive, we have limited vacation time, and Link has a complex job schedule. Working around all of our jobs, we carved out a few days of family vacation. We saw the delightful musical Come From Away, saw the last concert in Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree tour, visited the beading display at the Textile Museum of Canada, and enjoyed our favourite Toronto foods (AYCE sushi for Link, Chinese dumplings, macarons, and flavoured hot chocolate – I had lavender!)

Movie: Loving Vincent

I watched the movie Loving Vincent, the one in which every cell was hand painted in Van Gogh’s style. It was an amazing achievement. The story is heart-wrenching and so relevant to the way we treat “eccentric” people today.

I read a 1000+ page book! I had taken home a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde and it was sitting on my home bookshelf for about a year. So this book was the one to actually kick off my new Reading Down the House project. The title is a deliberate misspelling of a computer “read me” file. It was a technothriller about a video game developer whose creation was afflicted by a virus made by teenage hackers in China. Some Russian mobsters take it upon themselves to hunt down the hackers, and they accidentally attack a cell of jihadists. Much mayhem ensues. I loved the detailed background story on video game development and was much less interested in the action, which seemed like it was written for a future film (the rights were picked up for a TV series, but I don’t think it happened). I stuck with it because of the strong female characters and just wanting to see the loose ends tied up. I would be hard-pressed to recommend it but I liked the geek theme and humour.

I hope October was good to you.

What was the last music concert you saw?


  1. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to Christmas-gift shop early. I keep my eye out year-round for fun/unique gifts (and sales on said items!) for my loved ones and keep them stashed in my hall closet til holiday time. I try to have the bulk of my shopping done by Thanksgiving (end of November in the states) because I have to ship quite a bit of it cross-country.

  2. I loved Reamde and couldn’t put it down! It wasn’t anything I’d usually read, but I found it was like watching an exciting action thriller – the plot and action were crazy and I had to keep going to find out how it ended. I also liked (most) of the characters. However, I tried to read another of Stephenson’s books afterwards and could only get through a few pages before giving up.

    We’ve picked up a few Christmas gifts for our daughters on our travels so far, but they’ve had to be small and lightweight which has made it somewhat of a challenge. We just drew names for our annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange. I drew my husband’s name – he will probably get something travel related from me but I don’t have any ideas for now as we pretty much have everything we need.

    • I wish Reamde had been made into a movie but I suppose the baddies would fall prey to all the stereotypes. Better yet, he could write a sequel in which Zula or Yuxia has another adventure 🙂

  3. I think you have to start early for Christmas these days – I just hate the way the shops turn everything into a commercial event and put the prices up because they have stuck something in a box with a Xmas tree / pumpkin / Easter rabbit on the packaging!
    Our family Not so Secret Santa names draw is this weekend. We only have to buy two presents for the family, we give money to our two daughters and partners and we also do a Secret Stocking within our immediate family with a limit of £20. I buy for my four best friends (or usually make them something) and that is me done. Bliss.

    • Sorry I didn’t reply in a timely manner! My family (family of origin, that is) still likes gifting to every person and no one has suggested we stop. I am OK with it. I have suggested consumables for any family members who buy for me – I love getting coffee, chocolates, or anything home made! My brother makes pickles and salsa. My sister started weaving this year and made everyone tea towels and place mats! Such talent. Do you and your spouse buy Christmas gifts for each other? Rom and I exchange small stocking gifts.

  4. We start quite early for Christmas too! We shop clearances all year for each coming year’s Christmas and/or birthdays. And JB sings Christmas carols all year long so I’m not really fussed about the early chatter about Christmas anymore 🙂 But I do wish it were a bit less commercial. When we last traveled in Europe around the Christmas season it was glittery and celebratory but not laser focused on spending the way we are here.

    • For the last two years I’ve limited my Christmas gift spending to December, except for Link’s stocking which is hand-delivered in October. I don’t buy for anyone who has a wish list, so I don’t really have to watch for sales on specific items. I have enjoyed not spreading Christmas out over several months. Of course it was different when Link was a kid and there were school concerts, class parties, and so on – not to mention “kid acquisitiveness” driven by the peer group. Oh well, it’s a chance to have discussions and impart values!

  5. Hi Dar! It is great to hear about your October. I have missed hearing about traditions like Halloween and Thanksgiving ‘on the other side’ (of the world!) We didn’t Halloween this year, precisely for reasons you mentioned (the teen thing.) But I love hearing about your traditions established with Link in earlier days.

    My last live concert was Cat Empire back in February…but we’ve taken to seeing some small pub bands and so on more regularly this year, as J (now 14) has taken to guitar in a big way this year.

    I have just swapped jobs to one that I hope will be far less work-intensive than the crazy gig I’ve had for the past 12 months…and so, hoping to re-join the fold of blog-reading in January! 🙂

  6. I love Halloween. Not enough to have 75 kids visit but I wish we’d have more than the 6 or so we get.

    Can’t remember the last music concert I went to. Does the opera count?

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