In and Out of November and December

Christmas Tree Farm

By November, Rom and I had finished our travelling for the year and we settled in for the next two months. The weather has been unseasonably cold. I’ve spent lots of time with a book, a blanket, a cup of tea and the cats!

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

We went to see the Bohemian Rhapsody movie as soon as it opened. Rom and I are both Queen fans from way back and we know a lot about the band’s career and albums. We both loved the movie. To appreciate it fully, you have to keep in mind that it was produced by band member Brian May to keep Freddie Mercury and the band’s legacy alive. As such, it is PG rated, the time line was condensed, and the band’s accomplishments were highlighted. I thought it took a reasonable approach to Mercury’s sexuality and his death of AIDS. One could carp about the details, but the movie focused on the joy of music and Freddie’s outsized personality and talent.

I had stopped listening to Queen after their 8th album in 1980 (!) so I listened to their following 7 albums on Apple Music during my gym workouts in November. It was a month of Queen immersion!

Every so often, Rom chooses a course of home study, usually related to philosophy, computer science or both. Lately he has been testing a chatbot to see if it would be helpful at his workplace. One night we went to a panel discussion, Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence, at the Library. I was not at all tempted to doze off as I had feared. All the speakers had been inspired by futuristic fiction and made lots of links to literature, so I found it very engaging.

Wintry Sea

One Saturday, my sister, our friend and I did Seaside Christmas. About 25 craft fairs were held in community halls, churches and small businesses along a 50 km seaside route, and we spent the day driving from one to another, making about 10 stops and having a chowder lunch at the Acadian Museum. During the month, I had also visited the libraries in the same area – where I had attended high school in a rural harbour town. I liked renewing those connections.

My book club discussed Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal in November. For a couple of years I had given Valerie a drive to and from book club. Valerie was in her 80s and was increasingly suffering from vascular cognitive impairment. In September she decided to have a physician-assisted death. None of us had known of her plans and we were all a little in shock, despite respecting her wishes. I have been in frequent contact with her husband since, and although he thought he was prepared, he is finding it much harder than he imagined. My heart really goes out to him.

December 1 was moving day for PK! PK has an awesome new apartment not far from their workplace. Since PK came to Canada with only a few suitcases, they didn’t have much to move, so I helped by assembling new IKEA furniture. It was not nearly as difficult as the last IKEA build I did for Link!

I had a few activities at the Unitarian Church – helping to organize a fundraising drive and a soup lunch, helping out with the Christmas Bazaar (upscale yard sale) and attending the Christmas Eve/Solstice candlelight service.

I had another good day out Christmas shopping with my mom and sister. After that I completed the rest of my gift shopping in just two excursions which made me very happy. My nephew (17) was going to receive a turntable for Christmas so I had fun buying him records!

Just a few days later, I accompanied my mom for her first cataract surgery, and I stayed over to lend a hand. All is well and her second surgery is later this week. Pretty routine these days.

Can you hear the music in your head?

For the second year in a row, Rom and I went to see the Jerry Granelli Trio perform the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas, this time with my sister. I’m not sure if we’ll go every year indefinitely, but a non-rock concert in December is a nice treat. I am uneducated about jazz – correcting that would be an achievement!

Tree at the farm

Tree in the house

For the first time, we went to a tree farm with my brother and selected our own Christmas tree to cut. Ours was 2 metres tall and would have taken 7 years to grow from seed. Here we believe that real trees can be more environmentally friendly than artificial ones. We have large tracts of land that were previously harvested for lumber and pulp. By planting trees, it fills in the gaps, provides animal habitat and produces oxygen while providing local jobs. The land used for tree farms barely makes a dent in the total land available, so there are few concerns about creating a vast monoculture. Most trees are later chipped and turned into mulch for gardens; towns and cities have a pick-up program.

Our tree was so fresh, 15 days later it still has not dropped any needles in the house and it is still sucking up several litres of water a day. We’ll probably take it down on Jan. 3 since the next tree pick-up is the following morning.

Between the 22nd and 25th, I cleaned the house, wrapped gifts, made lasagna, visited with my niece, visited with PK and Joe and had several family Christmas activities. I can’t remember any other month I spent so much time with family!

The end of December marks 7 years of blogging on An Exacting Life. I want to thank everyone who has stuck with me, especially through the posting draughts! Thanks to followers via WordPress, email, Facebook, Bloglovin, and every other venue!

I have lots of posts planned (and believe it or not, even written) for January. I am also ready to launch a second, related blog at the same site. Stay tuned!

I’d love to hear what November and December were like for you.

Have the Happiest of New Years!


  1. Fiona

    Happy New Year, Dar! Hoping 2019 brings you ongoing health, happiness and enjoyment. We loved seeing Bohemian Rhapsody this month as well. Delighted that you had a seaside Christmas element 🙂

  2. Happy New Year to you as well.
    Real trees are so wonderfully fragrant.

  3. Happy New Year to you. 🙂

    We loved Bohemian Rhapsody too, a lot of Queen playing at our house and in our cars these days. I have a little portable speaker in the walk in wardrobe that I got by winning a competition and most mornings it kicks off with Hammer To Fall. 🙂

  4. I love cutting down a Christmas tree every year. Our farm always seems to have slim pickings, though, so our trees always look a lot more gnarly than your perfectly symmetrical example!

  5. Happy New Year, Dar. I thoroughly enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody, too. Malek did a wonderful job, I thought, and I also appreciated the tasteful sensitivity with which Mercury’s sexuality and his diagnosis of Aids were conveyed. Love your Christmas tree, and Happy Blogging Anniversary. 🙂

  6. Happy New Year! I look forward to sharing 2019 with you via blogging.

  7. If we come good on our threat to visit, we’ll seek a real tree too – or at least I will!

    I am in awe of your love and support of your family and PK – well done you. I’ll be moving soon – a few weeks sooner than anticipated, as just today the tenants told the agent, who told me, they’ll move this weekend. All’s well, though I will need to buy a new washing machine and kitchen table. And recall loaned out items – a sofa and dining chairs and my kettle. I feel sorry to retake these items as I know my friends have got good use from them, and saved me some storage conundrums.

    • You are always welcome! There’s not a lot to do in December since the snow doesn’t arrive until January for winter sports – a December visit would be “hygge” time! Sarah, you’re moving back to your place in Sydney that you had rented out? It’s been such a while. Hope you feel at home again there soon!

    • Will add – PK, Joe and my immediate family are all true friends and I just enjoy spending time with them! You have spent almost 24/7 vacation time with your family – that takes things to another level!

  8. Happy New Year Dar – I would have loved to do the Seaside route of craft fairs. My blog birthday today!

  9. I loved Bohemian Rhapsody. Very positive and uplifting. I thought it presented May as the mediator and now that you say he produced it, I wonder what he was really like?

    I didn’t know Canada had assisted death. Will have to do some goggling. Alzheimer’s runs on the English-side of my family. If I start getting it, I’d rather die early than in the long-drawn our route of the disease.

    • I hear May is a grumpy old Englishman. But what do I know.

      Yeah, I have a list of circumstances in which I would not want to go on living. It’s very short. But living in a prolonged state of agitation and fear is one of them. If I were a bumbling and confused but cheerful old dear, I hope people would put up with me.

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