Monday, September 22, 2014

Common Ground Country Fair

My brother and his wife invited me to join them at the Common Ground Country Fair yesterday, which we all went to together last year as well. (Unfortunately, Jonathan couldn't come last year because he was in class on Friday when we went, and this year he had to work...) Despite forecasts of rainy, stormy weather, we lucked out with just a bit of mist and light rain as we arrived, which soon stopped. By the early afternoon, the clouds had disappeared, the sun came out, and before too long we were a little bit frustrated at our outfit choices (sweaters and shoes/boots), although delighted at the wonderful warm weather. We spent our time at the fair looking around at the booths, enjoying the sights and smells and tastes, and making a few purchases. I did a good bunch of baby/kid-watching (one of my favourite sports :) ) and saw so many parents with babies and young children. Most of the kids I saw seemed to really enjoy the tactile activities available and just being able to run and play in the open spaces. And, while we didn't stop in at the animal buildings, I know those are always interesting for kids, as well. If you're ever in the area, I really recommend visiting the fair and taking in all it has to offer!

Throughout the day, I snapped some pictures on my phone (smaller to carry and less obtrusive to take pictures with than my camera, although the pictures are worse quality). I'll let the photos share a glimpse of how we spent our day.

A native man demonstrating how to carve a paddle
Beautiful native basket
Simple, homemade wooden coffins, an idea that I've thought for several years makes a lot of sense

Amanda heard singing not long after we entered the fair grounds and we quickly found the tent it was coming from. It was a shape-note singing demonstration, which Amanda and I were thrilled to join. I don't know much about shape-note singing and fumbled my way through the first 'verse' of each song (a practice verse of sorts where the singers read the shape notes to sing the melodies in 'sol, fa, la' style). Once that first verse was completed, though, we had usually picked up on the tune and could make it through the rest of the song. It was so much fun to join in the sing and I hope it's not the last time I can try my voice at shape-note singing!

This hymnal is going on my wish list :)

Tyler took a more professional-sounding recording of another song. Click here to listen.

Loved this clever idea for a "price tag" (but no, I did not buy a carved chunk of granite for $900...)
I thought this was a very clever idea for a shed with natural lighting
Tyler and Amanda looking at the lavender
One of my favourite flowers in one of my favourite colours. Love the bright fall look!
My favourite booth at the fair, the succulents. I bought one last year and miraculously, it's still alive!
Selection of bonsai trees
Last year Tyler bought a jade bonsai tree, and this year he bought another, a ficus bonsai tree, to keep the first one company.
Loved these handmade wool stockings! When we eventually get family stockings,
these are the kind I'll be looking for, handmade with beautiful, unique designs.
This was such a bright and pretty display of painted bird statues.
It made me think of my Mum and Grandma and other relatives, who love birds.

Amanda loves knitting and I love bright, happy colours. We both enjoyed wandering through the fiber arts tent and booths.

This Angora bunny was being sheared as Tyler and I waited for Amanda to make her wool purchases.
It was fun to watch passersby smile as they caught sight of the relaxed bunny getting a haircut. :)

As we were heading out at the end of the day, we walked by the demonstration tent (where we'd done the shape-note singing earlier) and came across this happy scene of dancers learning new dances as the moves were called out.

On our way out of the fairgrounds, we got to walk through the farmer's market section. The booths were all set up so nicely with yummy-looking produce acting as the actual decor.

What a cute, little popcorn trolley!
I loved the hanging herbs and other produce
All the food looked so delicious
I loved all the different and interesting ways of displaying the produce
Apples are the epitome of autumn
Amanda and I couldn't resist the apple cider. Such a autumn drink!
(And I was so excited to see a Maasai blanket as the tablecloth)
The kids enjoyed this grass sliding hill
Hoola-hoop play never goes out of style
The Elf, an interesting-looking vehicle just near the exit

I had such a fun day at the fair and am already a little bit sad that I likely won't be in the area next year to experience it again. Hopefully I'll find an equally good fair to go to annually wherever Jonathan and I end up. :)

Thanks so much for the invite, Tyler and Amanda. It was great to spend the day with you at this fun event!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September decluttering challenge

On Monday I came home from work and found a beautiful e-mail from my Mum in my inbox. It started like this:
"I was wondering today who I could share Jesus love with and then I thought who better than my children and nieces and nephews. So this is to let you know how much I love you and how much God loves you too."
She then went on to detail some of the ways she was proud of me, from things I helped her with as a young child to things I do now. The e-mail ended this way:
"So I have a challenge for you. The challenge is this: What will you do for the month of September that would make Grama proud of you?"*
As I finished reading the last few lines of the e-mail, I racked my brain, trying to think of something I could do this month that would make my Grandma proud of me. Something that I could actually manage to do throughout the majority of a month. I knew that promising to do something like cook three-course meals every day or stop eating sweets would only last a few days before I gave up and went back to my normal ways.

It wasn't until Tuesday night as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep that I had a thought that might work: decluttering. For the past several years, since my grandparents moved from their house into a smaller condo, my Grandma had been working very hard to give items from her home to others who could use them and would love them anew. She made an effort to go through trinkets and other items and give them to relatives who would treasure them, and she gave away most of her precious library to her children and grandchildren, always brilliantly knowing who would most appreciate this book or that series.

After all the work Grandma went through to pare down her household items, I knew that going through my own and only keeping the things I really love and use often would have made my Grandma proud of me. And I also know that I really need to do it anyway to prepare to move when Jonathan is done his master's in December. On top of that, on Tuesday afternoon Jonathan had gotten a call from our landlady's daughter, who let us know that our 93-year-old landlady, who was previously living with her daughter, is now going into a residential care facility and her family needs to sell her house in order to be able to pay for her care. While it's likely that this old farmhouse will not sell within the next three months, we know it is a possibility, and the more we can go through and sell, donate, or otherwise get rid of, the better if we unexpectedly have to find another place to live while Jonathan finishes up his schooling.

So here I am, ready to dive into this decluttering challenge throughout the rest of September, and likely throughout the rest of this calendar year. There are many boxes and files I have purposely left alone until now because I know they will be incredibly hard to go through. I have several boxes of childhood trinkets that I don't really want to display because, although they are filled with memories, I absolutely hate dusting, and trinkets on shelves collect dust like kitchen counters collect crumbs. I have many files of high school and college papers that I've gone through once or twice already to weed out homework assignments, quizzes, tests, and notes that I can easily just look up online. I will now have to go through them again and decide which papers and essays and short stories and news articles are good enough to keep, and then scan them so I can keep a digital copy and finally feel free to recycle the hard copy. This will not be easy as I am quite sentimental about some of these items, but it needs to be done and is long overdue.

Please wish me luck! If I find or think of anything moderately interesting to write about as I go through this process, I'll consider posting updates. If not, I'll just keep plugging away. Here's to the end of 2014 finding this apartment a lot less filled than it used to be! :)

*My Grandma found out that she had lung cancer near the end of last September. In one way, it seems so long ago, but in another, it seems like almost no time has past since then.