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2014/11/19 / Shanan

BORING WEATHER CHATTER

Yeah, so it seems like we went from jumping in massive autumn leaf piles, to this…

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… moderately snow squall-ish, what one might refer to as “Hollywood snow” and all that. And now we’re here:

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Like, full-on deck-the-halls deep mid-winter snow, with a pretty substantial blizzard raging all night last night and the giant snow-plow making the neighbourhood rounds this morning.

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Good thing we’re staying cozy by the (fake coal-burning) fireplace. This is the new one in our basement living room and I love the cast-iron front, which reminds me of one of those old-fashioned fireplaces in a Brooklyn brownstone. We’re trying to find a great piece of unfinished wood for the mantel top and then I can get all into a mantel-decorating hormonal tizzy for the holidays.

(Um… most boring post ever? Can you tell I’m just hanging out here… waiting for a baby…)

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2014/10/07 / Shanan

HELLO, I MUST BE GOING…

This is going to be a ‘circle of life’ type post wherein both events deserve top billing… but, I have to start somewhere, with one, so this is where it shall be.

It’s been a long, sad time coming, but we had to put down our beloved Pally dog last week.  She had been Chris’ constant companion since long before I met him, and probably the sweetest, most gentle and intelligent dog I’ve known.

I like to think that Pally and I shared many intense moments of mutual understanding over the years; we would cuddle and gaze at each other and connect on a true, rare human-canine wavelength. When I first met Chris, he referred to Pally as his best friend. I never would have thought that seven years later our daughter would be declaring the same thing, with her long skinny arms wrapped around Pally’s fuzzy neck.

We had the local vet come to our house and Pally went calmly into the great unknown lying beneath an apple tree. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day.  She had lived a full border-collie life – first on a farm, then trotting around the city, then back in the country for her last few years. It’s a relief to know that she’s no longer in any discomfort, and that her spirit is likely chasing rabbits in some big field in perpetuity. But we’re also still at the stage where we hear a thump in the next room and think it’s her, or feel like we’re forgetting something when packing up for a car trip. I know if you’ve ever lost a pet that you know this exact feeling.

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So, as with death comes thankfully, this time, a new birth and a really cute baby. My sister and her partner recently welcomed this amazing creature into the world, after a long and difficult labour. This baby boy is currently nameless (!) but he’s already grabbed hold of my family’s heart and likely won’t let go til he becomes a petulant teenager. He’s just so teeny and perfect and I’m so proud of Lauren and Peter. I think I’m going to like being an aunt.

Shortly after Theo was born, Lauren came to live with us for a few months at our place in Toronto. She was going through a rough patch but I remember she was so loving with baby Theo; I guess it’s times like these where I do wish we lived closer together again so that I could get to know her little one really well. But, all in time.

Whooo – this was a tough post to get through. The rest of the week the blog will be back to our regularly-scheduled frivolity, I promise. Thanks for reading xx Shanan

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2014/09/19 / Shanan

INTO THE WILD

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve made it a point to pick up my camera again after what feels like too long of a hiatus.  I know that documenting one’s every move can seem like the most tedious thing in the world these days, but taking photos when I’m out and about is refreshing once again.  I’m viewing our everyday activities in a new, special light.  And, apparently I blinked and my daughter has become a full-fledged little girl.  When did that happen?  We spent some time being intrepid explorers in the backyard and this is what I captured of my little beauty…

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Telling stories on her ‘mountain house’ in the ‘forest.’

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The classic look of skepticism (my sister and I make this exact same face).

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More and more and more stories.

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“Isn’t it a beautiful day, Mum?” / “It’s a pretty nice temperature out here!” / “What’s yogurt made from?” / “Watch this!!” / “Why doesn’t Daddy wear pyjamas?”

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Picking flowers, always.

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Discovering milkweed pods and their contents.

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Tumbles in the grass (or, the Nottawa version of Christina’s World ? Apologies to Andrew Wyeth <or not>).  Did I really have a hand in creating this imaginative, sensitive, joyous person? Unbelievable.

Enjoy your weekend, everybody.  We plan to hit up the Great Northern Exhibition in Collingwood to see the prize-winning animals and maybe have some pie. Hey, it works for us these days…

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2014/06/18 / Shanan

BONFIRE!

Or, “Daddy, are marshmallows considered a food group?”

We’re full-on here in the simple pleasures department.  Eating popsicles and watermelon, running through the sprinkler, swinging in the hammock.  And, dum da da da-a-a-a — gathering around the family bonfire.  Chris built an amazing new fire-pit on our property and we had Gillian and her brood over for some mallow roasting action (you didn’t think I’d be rid of her that easily, did you?).

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And… the puffy vest makes another (semi)public appearance, this time on Gillian.  I’m hereby predicting the puffy vest will soon usurp the wedge sneaker as ugly-yet-strangely-compelling wardrobe item of the season.  You heard it here first.

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The pit!

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Don’t ask.

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Frida with marshmallow moustache, Steve with floral headpiece.

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Sweet Yarrow made wildflower bouquets and crowns for everyone.  I’m just dying over the light in these photos.

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It’s called ‘technique.’

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Gillian’s rad sneakers, now with wings for extra protection (or something like that).

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Encounters with the local wildlife.

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Okay fine, so it was pretty chilly that evening and Theo insisted on wearing her flannel bunny costume from Halloween.  And you know what? It did the trick.

Long may you burn.  xx Shanan

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2014/04/22 / Shanan

FOXFIRE MAGAZINE

I love looking through old books and have especially always had a thing for the hippie-ish publications of my parent’s era.  Their basement is still home to Whole Earth catalogs, Ina May Gaskin books, and slim, hand-illustrated guides to building your own saunas – and thank the lord for that. Now that our family is out of the city and doing the odd quaint country thing like making maple syrup and pickling home-grown vegetables, I find that these books (many out of print) actually contain practical information relevant to aspects of our lives as they are now.  I mean we’re not constructing any saunas yet, but… give us time. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover another fantastic old magazine series that I’d never heard of before, carried at our local library.  It’s called Foxfire.

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Started in 1966 by Eliot “Wig” Wigginton and his high school students in Georgia, the class conducted interviews and wrote articles about the lifestyles, traditions, and knowledge of local citizens.  The magazines were gathered into Foxfire anthologies and now, I’m reading about making wagon wheels and moonshine from elderly Appalachian gentlemen.

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The mixture of practical skills and oral histories on beekeeping, weaving, midwifery, community gatherings, and “more affairs of plain living” feels quite far removed from the majority of my life experience… and yet it speaks to me in a way that’s so refreshing and inspiring, and utterly without airs.  I’m certainly a fan of Kinfolk and all that, but this sh*t is the real deal.

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Turns out that Foxfire has continued to thrive and lives on not only as a bi-annual publication, but as a teaching philosophy, museum, and foundation.  You can find more information here.  And if you can’t find any issues at your library, there are quite a few floating around on ebay (I’m going to start collecting them, so… please hold off on the hippie lit bidding wars).

Images in this post taken by The Symmetric in some lovely natural morning light. Just as it was meant to be, no?