wormingtons

Locality: Inspirational blogger Melissa Wormington

wormingtons

Melissa Wormington has a way with words that is honest and heartfelt. You feel like you know her, like you are walking through life with her.

I haven’t officially met Melissa, but her daughter Makenna is friends with Johnathan’s niece. I came face-to-face with Melissa for the first time shortly after her home was destroyed in the Goderich tornado on August 21, 2011, and heard part of her story first-hand that day, as she told it to John’s brother-in-law’s parents, her neighbours.

Melissa was at home making cookies that sunny summer afternoon, as her kids played nearby. Her husband, Jeff, a volunteer fireman, was at the fire hall, washing his pick-up truck. Suddenly, the power went out, and a few minutes later, her family safely in the storage room in the basement, Melissa heard rain and wind “pounding on the outside walls.” Above them, the noise of things breaking and crashing was deafening.

Thinking it was merely a quick and severe thunderstorm, Melissa didn’t stay put in the basement after Jeff decided to see what had happened outside.

I peeked around the top of the basement stairs into our front hall and came face to face with the front door to our house, the storm door, laying right there on the floor in front of me, as well as leaves, dirt, stones and just…debris. I could see the screen door outside on the porch. It was still pouring rain. I saw that our living room window was smashed.

Out on the street, they were astounded with the destruction from what they assumed was a “thunderstorm”.

Damage on West Street
Damage on West Street

Read what happened next on Melissa’s post Tornado – Sunday August 21: Part 1.

Her first-hand experience is raw and moving. She has since posted about the tornado’s effects on her family, her neighbours, and the rest of the town several times. If you want to gain an understanding about what it was like for tornado victims, Melissa’s blog is a fantastic place to start.

The Story of Us

This quote is from her post “Tornado in Goderich: Trauma

At my office we have lots of paperwork and reading material on trauma, surviving it and the effect it has on families. Some of it was centred around the events of September 11 2001. I had read it when I came across it, and have attended workshops in the past about the effects of trauma on families…most of those relating to the effects of witnessing or experiencing domestic or child abuse. But none of it really stuck with me over the years.

Until now.
Now I get it.

Melissa has been an inspiration for her fellow citizens, and has told her story several different times to journalists and filmmakers and others. Her story is also available in the locally-published compilation of stories, Not Like Any Other Sunday.

Thank you, Melissa, for your humility and honesty, for your transparency.

~~~

You can read all of Melissa’s posts about the Goderich tornado here.

You can also follow The Story of Us on Facebook.

If you know of a local person, business, event, etc. that you think deserves some publicity, I would love to feature them in my Locality series. Please comment, tweet me @sarahnadian, or email me at sarahnadian@gmail.com.

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Locality: Fresh Lens Photography

photographing the photographer

At the risk of sounding like my Locality posts are all about my friends, Hayley Morgan, the owner of local photography company Fresh Lens, is a friend of mine.

Not that you need to know that we’re friends to appreciate her skill. Her work speaks for itself.

Florence
Florence

Hayley is one of those incredibly multi-talented people: she can draw, she can paint, she can write, and she can take a mean picture. And those are just in the creative arts genre.

Photography is merely the most recent of her creative endeavors. When I met her, she showed me a drawing of Brad Pitt that could almost have walked right off the page, it was so lifelike.

When it comes to things aesthetic, I would trust Hayley’s judgement 98% of the time. The other two percent of the time, I probably get it wrong. Yes, perhaps I’m laying it on thick, but Hayley has the proverbial eye that sees how something should or could be captured, not merely the way that it appears.

Dapper groomsmen

Hayley is not merely a good photographer: she is also involved in the community. After the Goderich tornado of August 2011, Hayley put together an album of images of the storm’s aftermath and the people it affected. The proceeds from the sale of the full-colour book go towards tornado relief in Goderich. Check out dis.tor.tion here.

dis.tor.tion

The mom of two is also involved with Owen’s Light Mothering Project, an initiative that “financially supports our community’s doula program” (learn more on Hayley’s blog post). Hayley recently donated her time to a fundraiser for Owen’s Light (which you would already know if you read her blog post and came back), a fantastic community initiative. If someday I am so fortunate as to have babies, I would love to have a doula.

baby in a bowl

I will be officially interviewing Hayley at some point, so that you can feel like you have met the woman behind the camera.

Of course, you could always go ahead and meet that woman in person!

To contact Hayley or for more information about her photography sessions:

(All photography in this post is by Hayley Morgan)

Local Huron County apples

Locality: Getting excited about what’s in your backyard

Local Huron County apples
Local Huron County apples

Though this series is only a few weeks old, the majority of my blog feedback since I posted about Coastal Coffee Company has been in response to local stuff, and it’s getting exciting! Other people are catching on that sometimes the best thing around isn’t the big-name from-the-city brand; it’s 20 minutes from you. It’s in the store with the homemade sign. It’s at the farmer’s market.

The little guys, though they often have the best products and services and events, are usually unable to compete with the marketing budgets of the big kahunas.

That’s where I come in, and other bloggers and local writers like myself. We need to be the voices for the local businesses, using our resources to promote them, to keep our rural and local communities alive.

Your job is to use your social media and your networks to share stories like the ones I post, and also to try local products, to visit farmer’s markets and farm produce stands, etc.

I heard on the CBC recently that if every household committed to buying something like 10 – 25% local goods, it would be the equivalent of taking several hundred cars off the road every year. That’s a lot of gas consumption and emissions we’d be preventing!

If you’re not sure where to start, check out the following:

 

Expressions

Locality: Expressions Hair Design, Bayfield, Ontario

 

Expressions
Expressions is a charming combination of the unexpected and the vintage.

There’s nothing quite like sitting in a small local hair salon, as the stylist talks about children and parents and pets with the client seated in her chair. You get absorbed in the pretty people on the pages of Vanity Fair or House & Home as your hair colour steeps above your cape-clad shoulders and music plays just loud enough to prevent silence from reigning, and the conversation blends with the music to become a pleasant background buzz. Beautification is happening.

Beautification is happening
Natali at work: Beautification is happening

Beautification is essential for the modern woman, but a local, small-town salon where you know your stylist and there are no huge corporate endorsements hanging on the walls does something for the soul as well as the follicles.

Here at Expressions Hair Design in Bayfield, Ontario, the smell of peroxide and hair dye mingles with that warm breeze aroma of freshly blow-dried hair as owner and stylist Natali Tarnowski goes busily about her business of washing, cutting, drying, curling, and chatting.

Expressions is a gem hidden away in the side of one of the buildings on the heritage Main Street of Bayfield, and Natali is a gem of a proprietor. None of her clients, old or young, seem fazed by the young stylist’s close-cropped bright cherry red hair, the rose tattooed on her throat, her other tattoos and piercings, or her fantastically individual style: pastel tie-dyed t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up a-la-5o’s-greaser, and skinny dark grey jeans tucked into beige leather lace-up, pointy-toed boots.

Vintage cash register
Vintage cash register

Natali is the heart and soul of Expressions, but seated in her chair and listening to her talk, you’d think you were. I went in for a much-needed haircut (and surprise colour) today. It was only my second visit, but I now know why my friends from miles around head to Bayfield to get Natali to cut their hair: she’s sweet. And she’s good!

You can find Expressions Hair Design on Facebook, or call Natali at 519-565-5800 to make an appointment. Make sure to let her know that you read my blog. 🙂

light the night

Locality: Light the Night in Bayfield, Ontario

It’s becoming a big week for A Transparent Life – this is the second weekly series that I have introduced!

Meet “Locality,” a series that will feature something local every week. I am from an area that is rich with heritage and culture and  talent and community and agriculture and so much more. It took leaving the country for several years and then returning for several MORE years to really appreciate all that Huron County is, but it has finally sunk in: we’re not all hicks!

For the inaugural post, I have chosen to promote an activity that is part of Family Day celebrations in a town that has come to be one of my hometowns: Bayfield, Ontario.

This is a new tradition in Bayfield, but one that I hope will continue for many years to come. Please tell your friends!

light the night

Really, who wouldn’t love a winter stroll down a quaint heritage street carrying sparklers and sipping hot chocolate?!

For the schedule of Family Day events in Bayfield, go to the www.my-bayfield.com website.

You can also get Family Day event updates by RSVP-ing to the event on Facebook.