Sunday, September 17, 2006

Community Connections

Yesterday was one of those days where you could just feel the forces of "abundance" at work.

First, we decided to hold a "freecycle" day to pass on all the stuff we no longer need. We got up early and hauled out boxes of toys, housewares, videotapes (our VCR finally died and won't be replaced since we have a DVD player), clothes, furniture, and lots of other good stuff. We put out a couple of big signs indicating that everything was FREE but we still got a lot of people coming up and asking us if we were sure we didn't want money for anything, or *why* the stuff was free. We've gotten a lot of good stuff from our local freecycle group (including a washing machine when ours kicked the bucket) so we were more than happy to "pay it forward" and pass on our unneeded items. Most of the stuff cleared out by noon, and the remainder was posted to our local list.

By mid-afternoon, we were up at a local farm (Myer's Apple Farm) picking - yes- apples! I was a bit disappointed that my favourites (empires) weren't quite ready for picking yet, but we came home with a large bag of Cortlands which are pretty tasty too. We forgot to bring the camera, which I was already bummed about, but I was really annoyed with myself when we got to the farm and saw this great sign: "Drive Carefully - Children Being Children". Hopefully we'll go back and pick some empires, and I'll make sure to get a pic then!

From our apple picking excursion, we continued on to our CSA (Plan B Organic Farms) for their end-of-season barbecue (we'll continue to receive shares until the week after Thanksgiving - that's Canadian Thanksgiving by the way). We got to take a tour of the farm, which has been expanding every year. There are now 400 shares per season; just a couple of years ago it was closer to 250. Plan B has made great efforts to develop relationships with other local farmers so we get the most variety possible in our food boxes - fruits and some vegetables that they don't grow themselves. They also offer a "local fruit box" option - although they don't grow any of the fruit themselves, it is all from local farmers.

After the tour we had a fantastic meal at Plan B - organic meat, a variety of salads from Plan B's harvest, watermelon and organic ice cream (Mapleton's - totally divine). There were about 200 people there (about 50 of them were kids!) and it was just a great community-feeling experience. We got to chat with a few friends we hadn't seen in a while, and make some new friends too! The kids all had a blast running around and playing with the assortment of friendly farm dogs. Again, really too bad we forgot our camera!

When we came home from the farm, the rest of the stuff we had left out on the curb with a "free" sign was gone, and my neighbour had left a bag of clothes on the porch for the boys (full of pants with intact knees, which my guys desperately need!) I had also received an offer from another freecycler of some books I was looking for - very cool.

The theme for the day was definitely Sharing Always Creates More - more friends, more fun, and more abundant living.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Joys of Not Back to School

Well, school's been back in for a whole week now, and I'm more relieved than ever that my kids don't go to school. I could sense the anxiety building in many of the kids around here as the big day approached. It's almost spooky how empty the neighbourhood seems after having the streets filled with kids merrily playing all summer.

Ah well, at least our family is not a slave to the school system! Although we can't exactly ignore the fact that my kids' best friends are now in school all day, there is still plenty of fun to be had. The weather has been unseasonably cool and wet the last couple of weeks, but we had a couple of nice warm afternoons and headed out to the park one day and for a nature hike with the dog another day. The boys have been immersed in a Wallace and Grommet game (for Gamecube)they borrowed from their babysitter (an awesome young man named Dan - the kids love him so much they ask us to go out so he can come over!)

Let's see, what else have we been up to? Many of our days are so unstructured I have a hard time thinking about what we actually "do" all day.

Noah recently built and painted a model of an AT walker all by himself. Nathan build Jengo Fett's ship out of Lego (with a little help from his dad).

I've been busy "harvesting" our bounty in the garden, and starting to put the garden to bed for another year. I'm hoping to find some time to build a small cold frame and trying to extend our season by growing some greens in it.

Joe has been working hard at sprucing up the place. We have been redoing both the kitchen and bathroom (not a gut-everything-and-start-over, but painting, new mirrors/lights, that type of thing). Now we're looking at the rest of the house and realizing it needs a lot of help too. I got the itch to rearrange/spruce up the dining room (adding several furniture repainting projects, plus a sewing project and a lot of reorganizing/general cleaning out of stuff to the mix!)

We have a few outing planned for the upcoming weeks as well. The boys are headed to the Royal Botanical Gardens this afternoon for a homeschoolers' program on "Bugs". This program is running every other Tuesday afternoon until just before Christmas, and I think the boys are going to really enjoy it as they both love anything to do with "nature".

Other planned trips/outings for the near future: our homeschool group's "Not Back to School" picnic on Thursday, a visit to a donkey sanctuary, a visit to Dutchman's Gold (a local honey producer), and a trip or two to the Ontario Science Centre. We'll probably also hit some local farms for apple picking and other fall fun. This Saturday we are attending our CSA's end of season barbecue; this includes a tour of the farm so it should be really cool (although we've been members of this CSA for a few years, we've never managed to get to this event due to scheduling conflicts).

(Blogger is not being my friend right now - for some reason it is not uploading my photos. I somehow managed to get one in, but it doesn't like the rest! How annoying - I will give it a try later on.)