Life Update – August 2019

Weeds

I haven’t posted the usual monthly updates on my quiet little life this year. Time for a catch-up!

I last posted about daily life in January. For January and February, we hibernated – no spending or out-of-home entertainment. It helped us save for our trip to Cuba in April, though. In March, that continued, plus we did the Food Challenge thing. By the end of March, we felt very deprived indeed. Fortunately, we had bought tickets to a March concert in December – we went to see Ria Mae. I also went skating at the speed skating oval (400m track) a few times during the season, which was a lot of fun.

Link in April

When we travelled to Cuba, our flight routed through Toronto, so we arranged to go early and visit Link. We thought that stopping in Toronto would be less expensive than planning a separate trip, but due to package-deal machinations, it wasn’t. No regrets, but we have spent from April to August recovering financially from the double trip!

While we were in Toronto, it was Link’s birthday week. We did our usual rounds of shopping and meals out. As a treat we went to the musical Dear Evan Hansen. This is a play that deals with teen mental health and suicide. It was brave and funny and touching and we all loved it. Highly recommended!

Holguin, Cuba

After our vacation in Cuba, we enjoyed watching the last season of Game of Thrones, after discussing our own theories about the plot and characters endlessly!

When we returned from that vacation, I was unable to boot up my computer, which had been fine before I left. We ended up having to reinstall Windows and restore everything. I did lose some files and photos, but not catastrophically. I wasn’t as meticulous with backups as I thought I was, although the automatic photo backups certainly helped. All my owned music has been merged with Apple Music for a while now. I have amped up my backups since then!

(At work, I am cautious. I back up my complete files weekly and take a copy home, just in case – even though they are on a shared drive with auto backup at work! The consequences of losing the work are just too high).

In May and June, we were awash in celebrations – Mothers Day and Fathers Day, PK’s birthday, Rom’s birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary! In the happy-and-sad category, PK’s brother departed Halifax to start his new career job in Toronto. We look forward to visiting him there!

High school grad

We went out for my nephew’s 18th birthday. He started listening to vinyl records a few months ago and I bought him his first new LP to open. He was very happy. He also did some studying at our house. I coached him through the early stages of an essay on Things Fall Apart. He got an A on his own merit. High school graduation followed shortly after!

In other activities, we went to a local production of The Color Purple (musical theatre). Again, it was a heavy-hitting show, but one of the best I’ve seen – filled with both humour and hope.

Def Leppard concert

We have been catching up on some live music. We went to a metal concert, Deafheaven with Baroness – a good show. At the Jazz Festival we went to a hip-hop show, Common with Shad. Throw in an extreme retro night with Def Leppard and Tesla 😛

My co-workers at Pride (photo from library website)

We had fun during Pride Week at the Pride comedy show and the parade (on an uncommon 30 C July Saturday!) I put up rainbow pennants in my garden for the month and one of our neighbours did, too (and we saw some Pride flags hanging from decks and in windows). This was the first year our local stores were selling Pride gear like stickers and temporary tattoos, although I noticed that Dollarama and Walmart pointedly did not participate.

The Catholic church I attended for my growing-up years closed, on short notice. My parents have been going there for 49 years and it was the centre of their social life. Declining attendance led to operating costs being too much for the Diocese. They merged 4 parishes into one. The Diocese communicated poorly about the whole process and left most parishioners feeling bereft or angry. I did not bother to say to my parents that the Catholic Church has never been a democracy. It doesn’t help that it is selling off properties to pay legal bills and restitution from their years of perpetuating abuse. Nevertheless, it is not the congregation’s fault, and its closure will leave a real hole in people’s lives. Even I used to go there about 4 times a year to support my parents at church events they participated in.

In a surprise development, my parents got Internet! They resisted all this time because of cost. But they had an expensive cable TV and phone package. They got a promo rate for a year, with Internet included. I’ve been helping them open accounts and get started. Gently.

Ironically, we checked out our own Internet options and found we could get full cable TV added to our package for free for the same 12-month period, so now we are in TV Land again! I am enjoying zoning out to The Property Brothers and Fixer Upper. Rom is watching movie marathons like X-Men. In the 4.5 years since we last had cable TV, I didn’t miss it much, except for the big “occasion” shows like the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.

I have a new hobby: visiting old guys. LOL! They are both in their 80s. One man from my church lives in a “nursing home” and seldom has visitors so I have stopped in a few times. He seems content to spend his days reading and receiving care. Another is a recent widower and so socially isolated, sometimes Rom and I are the only people he speaks to in a week. We go out for coffee. I like seeing them both and consider them friends.

Link making chocolates

This month, Link was here and we had a good visit, seeing family every day, lots of shared meals, going to the beach, fireworks, etc. We bought craft supplies to wire-wrap rocks (i.e. beach stones). We spent a whole day making chocolates with my sister and making all our own fillings: cardamom, ginger, maple and peanut butter flavours. It certainly gave me an appreciation for chocolatiers! It was so faffy, I wouldn’t do it on my own, but now I am a trained assistant 🙂 Link visited a few hometown friends. It was great to reconnect here, since we usually meet only in Toronto.

I am still working on my project at the Library, developing the new staffing model. I never dreamed I would still be doing that work after 18 months. It turned into a monumental task. It is in its closing phases, and will be turned over to the next team soon. I am not sure what I’ll be doing next. I made a pitch for a new role I wanted, but I don’t think it’s a high priority for the organization. I have enjoyed changing roles over the years – the longest I’ve been in one position is 6.5 years. I will be placed somewhere and I’m sure whatever I do, it will be fine. I’ve learned loads of new skills in this project and I can carry them with me.

On the negative side, my current work is very much a desk job, and I really struggle to stay active and eat appropriately. I still go to the gym or swimming in the mornings, but it’s not enough to counter 8 hours of sitting. It doesn’t help that there is a snack store and a café on site. I resisted for a long time but they wore me down! I need to up my game. The weather should cool off soon, making lunch time walks more palatable again.

Our back-to-school season starts after Labour Day on September 2, so it feels like the waning days of summer, just two more weekends. The weather is usually great in September, though.

We are looking forward to an early Fall trip to the UK. This time we’ll spend a couple of days in Oxford as well as visiting Rom’s family in Sussex and returning to London for a city break.

I would love for you to comment and tell me what you’ve been up to! I am still reading all your blogs and I hope to comment more regularly again. I have noticed a strange glitch – Bloglovin only picks up every second post I write (or so the stats indicate). Thanks to everyone for subscribing through WordPress, email, Facebook, Bloglovin and however else you do it!

27 comments

  1. Great to hear from you. I am increasingly curious to read about your budgeting and travels as I approach a new, and much lower paid job. I have been thinking about how much I want to spend on things like culture (concerts and exhibitions), as well as gifts…

  2. I always enjoy reading your posts, Dar. I get them via email, so I *think* I see them all, regardless of whatever gremlins Bloglovin’ is experiencing. 🙂

    The big news in my world in recent months has been very good news indeed: My husband finally got his kidney transplant! 😀 😀

    Most of our time, since then, has spent readjusting our normal. There is a weightlessness that comes with renewed health — both for him as the patient and for me as support person — that has had profound effects on our lives. I guess you just don’t know how heavy your burdens truly are until they’re removed from your shoulders!

    We’ve done quite a bit of traveling this summer, mostly in-state (WA). In early August we went to Montana, and we’ll be headed to Portland soon. Otherwise, I’ve been catching up on my reading (Terry Pratchett for the win! 😉 ) and have rediscovered my love of thrifting. I always find great things when I go treasure-hunting; the like-new Superman Converse hi-tops I found recently at a consignment store got their test run today at a county fair, and they were perfect for their purpose. 🙂

    • Wow! Didn’t know that Mr. Fever needed a kidney transplant. What great news! Have you been tied to your local area all these years because of dialysis? I have been to Montana – to Glacier National Park (which straddles the Canadian border) but not Yellowstone. Terry Pratchett is great summer reading (or anytime, actually). Enjoy the rest of your summer – it will feel great making plans for Fall and Winter!

      • It’s something I kept close to my vest for years. I only recently started talking about his health on my blog; I wouldn’t expect you to know. 🙂

        To answer your question: We were able to travel pre-transplant, but not freely or often. Traveling with medical equipment takes a lot of planning and a good deal of fortitude. And with frequent medical appointments, we were pretty limited on travel time and allowable distance. Now, though, we’re not restricted AT ALL, and it’s fantastic! We just booked a cruise to Hawaii to celebrate — we’ve wanted to go for years, and now we finally can, which is so exciting! 🙂

      • That IS so exciting! Happy for you!

  3. Fiona

    I can’t believe your nephew is now 18 and graduating High School! I can remember glimpses of him staying with you at about age 12 (and then I used to think, ‘Oh – that’s an old, teenager-y kind of child to have to deal with overnight!)

    Gosh. The fate of your parents’ church. For all the faults of the Catholic church, I can imagine that the loss of community everyone feels must be intense, especially for your parents after nearly half a century of attendance. That is really shocking. I haven’t ever heard of a Catholic church closing due to financial issues and low numbers. Really wonder if it is a harbinger of things to come? I am finding it so hard to reconcile myself to my Catholic heritage given the extent and depth of the abuse that has happened in the church here…along with the male-centric hierarchy. Will your parents & the community form other ways to meet and continue their connection?

    I love the balance of restraint but also enjoyments you have struck. How exciting to have a trip to London to look forward to!

    • Yes, time flies! My youngest nephew.

      My parents’ church was one of four rural churches. They have had difficulty recruiting priests for decades now. They have had several priests over the years from Ghana (insert jokes about missions to convert the Canadian heathens here)! The four churches were consolidated so one is still open, and the building is large enough to accommodate everyone. That says a lot. My parents will go there when the weather permits – it is in a more rural area than where they live – and they will attend church “in the city” otherwise. The local Anglican churches (C of E/Episcopalian) have also consolidated in the same way, and most mainstream churches here have shockingly low attendance, and struggle to stay open. Canada is nothing like the US in terms of church-going; the last time I checked, the stat was that 20% of Canadians attend church regularly – with “regular” defined as once a month!

      As a child my only heritage was Catholic since my family didn’t identify with any cultures or nationalities. I jokingly tell people I am religious but not spiritual because I like the rituals, pageantry, literature, art, community, etc. but not the content 🙂

      This year has had such extreme swings from austerity to excess – I look forward to getting back on an even keel.

      • Fiona

        My family was the same…I’d still say I’m a “cultural Catholic” because it’s hard to disentangle from being raised as such. But I went to a Confirmation last week and spent the whole time feeling frustrated at the image of men everywhere on the altar – even in groups of 3 – with women disallowed. It was so jarring compared to the real world of work and family responsibilities.

      • Yeah, I left the Catholic church when Link was 2 because I couldn’t reconcile all that – how to explain to a child that they are not equal or worthy? I still understand the role of faith and community for those who value it – and it can be quite hard to come by outside of churches.

  4. Glad to catch up with what is going on in your life! We have spent the past 6 months trying to find a path for moving near our granddaughter and just put it on indefinate hold due to the crazy housing market in the Berkeley, CA area. So that means we are trying to get more connected to the people and place where we live as well as brainstorming and planning ways to spend more time in Berkeley without living there!

    Otherwise more of the same in our lives which can be a good thing LOL. I’m with you on needing to up my exercise but have no good excuse for not having done so.

    • Juhli, I often can’t comment on your blog but always read your posts. You are my role model for lifestyle makeovers leading up to and into retirement. I like your combination of thinking, planning and doing!

  5. PK

    Thanks for the update. Seems like so much is going on. Fall is so close now. I can’t wait to hear about your upcoming trip and more about the two new old friends 🙂

  6. Jen

    Interesting about your new nursing home friends. DD and I have been volunteering at the ice cream parlor in a local
    Nursing home. Every week we get caught up on all the gossip as we scoop butter pecan ice cream and make malts!

    • It’s great the nursing home has this, and you volunteer – sounds like fun! One of our guys declined a coffee date this week because he had a dinner invitation – his first social double booking 🙂

  7. agirlushouldknow

    Personally not much except transitioning, surgery, etc. My social life is a wreck because of it, but I have never been happier. 🙂

  8. Margie from Toronto

    I have been working about 4 hours a day Monday to Friday at my church office – it’s a very busy place – a thriving downtown congregation that is involved in many outreach initiatives. I volunteer on a number of committees as well and will return to teaching ESL on Tuesday nights come September as a part of these initiatives. I had moved away from the church for most of my adult life but returned a couple of years ago (after shopping around a bit). What attracted me to this church in particular was the opportunity for volunteering – but be careful what you wish for! 🙂
    I’ve also been able to get out with friends quite a bit – although it has been very hot and humid so that has to be taken into consideration. I’m hoping for a proper Fall during Sept. and Oct. so that I can get in more walking. My usual Saturday morning language classes are cancelled until January so I am making plans with a couple of friends to go to a number of Fall fairs and that sort of thing – something we don’t normally have time for – and I’m really looking forward to it.
    I’ve continued eating a low carb diet (about 85% of the time) and am still losing weight – and I have also done some more decluttering which pleases me – although there is still more to do – small steps!
    I am glad to see you posting again – I was hoping that your absence was due to a fun summer rather than illness or family issues.

    • Thanks, Margie – all is well! That is quite a commitment you now have! After an extended break, I am going to job-share the role of church treasurer again this year. I like the “book work” but am unable to attend meetings so we worked out a deal! I’m glad you’ll have some extra fun activities for the Fall. One of these days I hope to get to Black Creek Pioneer Village. Link was finding it really hot for walking but says it has cooled off a bit now. We had a much hotter and drier summer than normal, to the point that we’re wishing for Fall and rain!

  9. Jamie

    It’s great to hear from you, Dar. I’ve clicked to be notified of new posts by email so I don’t miss any. I used to see new posts pop up on facebook (I only check bloglovin’ once a week), but don’t go on facebook much these days.

    I’m in the middle of an exciting three weeks doing prac at my local library for my degree. I’ve been enjoying it so much! They have all been so lovely, trying to give me lots of experiences. It’s the Children’s Book Council of Australia book week this week, so there are lots of programs running. Tomorrow afternoon I’ve got two hours on the front desk/floor by myself for the first time, then two hours running a photo booth for kids in book week costumes. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly! Next week I’m going to visit a different branch one day, and go out on the mobile truck another. I’ve been having a go at some local history indexing and some cataloguing and I’m finding I’m loving it all! Which is a relief as I’m about 19/26 subjects into the degree!

    Hope to see more posts from you soon.

    • Hi Jamie, Thanks for following! Your job practicum sounds great. Kudos to the library system for creating a good experience for practicum students! You’ll have to let me know what kinds of questions you handled at the desk and out on the floor. Does the library have different levels of staff who answer different types of questions? We’re in the process of consolidating our staffing levels so the people out front can answer a wider range of questions without having to refer. Do you want to work in a public library? We often get practicum students and job applicants who list their preferences as working in archives or doing reference at academic libraries. It is hard to understand why they don’t customize their resumes when applying to public libraries! We also have a lot of employees who went into library work because they thought it would be quiet and low-stress, and they don’t realize the range of issues they’ll experience when dealing with the public. Hope you got a good taste of the reality!

      • Jamie

        I think the library has 9.3 full time equivalent staffing, including their mobile librarian and non-degreed staff, so they try to make sure that everyone is capable of doing everyone else’s job to some extent. They, for example, have someone who handles inter library loans, someone else who handles adult programs, a Children’s Librarian (who also does the children’s cataloguing) and a cataloguing librarian, plus the library manager. Obviously, the cataloguing librarian knows more about the intricacies of her job, but everyone seems to have enough basic knowledge to handle a lot of the questions that come up, but they can always get more info from the specialist. Still, most of the questions on the floor and desk are about help with the computers or the printer, or “what else has this author written”-style of questions.

        I wondered for a while whether I would like to work in an archive, but last semester realised I really do like public librarianship. I enjoy helping people solve their problems/queries, I enjoy being able to facilitate learning and community connections. Many libraries here in Australia have local history collections, so I think that will allow me to touch on my interest in archiving while also being able to do the other parts I mentioned above.

        Speaking of low stress, I’ve been propositioned on the desk two days running (by the same man. The second day I told him I was married with “heaps” of kids. I’m certain he is harmless, though) and it has already been suggested to me that working in the library should give me lots of time to read! I’ve been a member of the ALATT Think Tank facebook page for a while, so have read about a lot of the issues that other libraries face. With this being a small, rural community they don’t seem to have concerns, for example, of homeless people washing in the bathrooms, or having to lock the bathrooms due to drug use. The library would probably seem quite quaint to some librarians. There is a kitchenette for library patrons, and last week we had a man in using the computers all day for a number of days in a row and I noticed that he had made himself a cup of tea and had it sitting next to him. We also faced some anger on the front desk from another man who lost some work when the computer session ended and locked him out. As you say, there is a real range in public librarianship!

        Speaking of quaint (and I’ll finish with this, because my reply is getting quite long!) they run a home library service here for a small number of patrons who are unable to come into the library. Every 4-6 weeks the invoicing and periodicals staff member will gather up the books she has collected for them (from her knowledge of their tastes) and visit each of them in their homes to deliver new books. She often stops for a cup of tea and a chat with each of them.

  10. Good to hear all your news – you have been busy. Hope everything goes well on the job front. I am having to catch up with everyone at the moment too so just leaving quick comments where I can. Have a lovely UK holiday when you come over.

  11. I am trying to catch up in a week three months’ worth of the blogs I read.

    I never back up. At work that is fine. Work backs up everything. At home, meh. It is liked enforced decluttering.

    • I have had a few computer crashes over the years and a few sad escapes of files/photos I wanted/needed. But mostly it is like decluttering – if you don’t have them, you don’t miss them!

  12. There is a lot of things going on. I hope you had a great trip to Cuba. Is it true about the many vintage autos? I did not know you liked speed skating. You are a proud aunt and coached your nephew well. Thanks for the update. Keith

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