handshake

{Locality}: It sometimes appears when you least expect it

handshake

When my home branch of the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) called last week to set up my annual review, I made a spur-of-the-moment request to have the appointment in London rather than Goderich.

I was probably feeling lazy at the time and wanted to avoid having to make a special trip.

That and I don’t think my home branch account manager likes me very much. In all fairness, it’s probably just a personality difference, but I have never been eager to meet with her.

Whatever the reason, I asked to be moved to London, and the switch was surprisingly very easy. Someone called me the next day to set up an appointment.

I was apprehensive. I cancelled the first meeting in favour of taking an extra shift at work. Yes it was for a good reason, but I was somehow relieved.

I considered rescheduling yesterday’s appointment, too, but decided to man up (woman up?) and just get it over with. Perhaps I could even tell them I’d changed my mind and wanted to be re-assigned to Goderich. I could use more legitimate excuses to see friend and family and stop in at my favorite places.

The woman who greeted me at the Dundas East branch was friendly. She handed me a folder and told me that Darren had prepared some information for me. I glanced through it cursorily, but still planned to use my fall-back escape: changing my mind.

I could only take a few sips of my cup of water before a man’s voice behind me said “Sarah!”. I stood up and shook Darren’s hand, the cool polite smile on my lips not quite reaching my eyes.

Did I mention I was apprehensive? This is normal for me in new situations, new places, and with new people.

My chilly hesitance lasted all of a few minutes. Darren started asking me warm, friendly questions about why I had moved to London, my degree, my work, etc. We talked about serving (he has 10 years of experience), about my internship, about my social media experience. He told me about a good place to look for job opportunities. We talked about vintage cars and car shows, his decision to stay in London rather than go back to the Toronto area, the difference between his high school and mine…

…and soon enough, I felt like I had made a new friend, and was completely relaxed.

When a city banker makes you feel like a friend in 30 minutes flat, he has a gift. A very Ruralist-esque gift, actually.

Well done, Darren Livingstone. I have yet to see how good of an account manager you are, but so far, I trust you and I am actually kind of looking forward to next year’s annual review!

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changing locality

Changing {Locality}

changing locality

My geographical locality has changed since my last {Locality} post. I’m no longer an official resident of Huron County. My new county has the word “sex” in it: Middlesex. A respectable enough county name, though one rarely thinks of the county when one is in a city.

The transition has been odd. Not only did I move from the country to a city, but I also moved in with my boyfriend, a big enough life transition in and of itself. The “me to we” transition, as my “mother-in-law” Deb put it, hasn’t been that big of a deal (though perhaps I should add a “yet” to that). After more than two and a half years as a serious couple, we were already used to living life together, even from two different geographic locations.

What keeps causing me to bug out is the staying in London. I think if it were any other city that I wasn’t so familiar with, it would be different, but because I have known London for so many years–gone there for shopping and movies, attended university, gone for medical appointments and to visit family members at the hospital, etc.–as a place you go to and leave again, it is very odd to just stay, to not get in the car and make that very familiar trek north up Richmond or Highbury or Hyde Park, aiming for Ontario’s West Coast.

Regardless of my physical location, however, {Locality} continues to be important to me. No longer does it refer specifically to Huron County–it now has everything to do with what is local wherever I am, wherever you are. From now on, {Locality} posts will extend across Ontario, perhaps even across Canada, North America, or the world!

{Locality} is a mindset that avoids box stores, large corporations, and that aspect of democracy that tends to put money before people. It champions the owner/proprietor, the entrepreneur, the organic farmer, the rural shop, the one-off boutique, the people with personality and heart that you love to see again and again.

It can exist wherever you are, country or city, big or small.

I will continue to champion the rural, the small-town, the “back home,” but I undoubtedly will find places in my new locale that can pass the muster side-by-side with the Bayfields and Goderiches of rural Ontario.

In fact, stay tuned for an announcement tomorrow that underscores my dedication to all things rural Ontario!

we need you!

{Locality} needs YOU!

we need you!

I’ve been too busy to talk about it much over the last couple of weeks, but I’m leaving Huron County in two weeks and becoming a city-dweller.

I will still be well-connected to Goderich and Bayfield and other parts of Huron County, but not as present as I have been. Obviously.

But I won’t be as easily able to see store openings and visit farmers in the Huron County area. This is where you come in .

I’m looking for someone willing to share the vision of Locality, someone who is excited about all of the reasons to get excited about Huron County, someone who also likes to write.

If you are that person, or you know that person, please let me know. I’d love to have you join me as a guest blogger!

Ruralist

{Locality} The Ruralist

Ruralist

No, I’m not done writing my papers, but I love the Locality series too much to let it drop during finals season. Besides, The Ruralist doesn’t need much introduction or explanation.

The Ruralist was envisioned by my friends Erin Roy and Erin Samuell (no, not every cool person in my area is my friend, but I’m proud to say many of them are). These two with-it and savvy local businesswomen are trend-spotters and with this website, they have become trend-setters.

They realized that there was a need for a curated collection of the best items from the best little stores across rural Ontario (and maybe someday the rest of Canada?), a sort of Etsy for unique finds and experiences you can’t get in the city. This site is for those urbanites who imagine the country as one big pile of cow dung and need the gems pointed out to them by someone in the know, someone who can view those gems through the lens of the personal touch and great design.

That Perfect Piece

It’s for those “ruralistas” like myself and my friends, family, and readers who are from rural areas but refuse to associate with the image of cow-tipping, straw-chewing, “ain’t”-saying hicks. Sure, there are hicks, and we love them for the flavour they bring to our community, but we believe we have culture, too. We have style. We love quality. We are unique and proud of it.

The Ruralist website was soft-launched a week ago, as was their Facebook page, so you can be one of the lucky readers who knew about this project when…! Subscribe to the blog and “Like” the Facebook page to see the eye candy they are posting, and start to get proud of rural Ontario. If you’re not already on the bandwagon, that is.

Ruralist promise

In a few months, the Ruralist site will have a shop aspect to it so that you can click through and see all of the shops across Ontario that have been Ruralist approved, and connect directly to their websites. Meanwhile, there is a steady stream of great photography (Erin Samuell IS one of Canada’s best, after all), lovely design, and an inspiring collection of things to do, see, taste, and so much more.

Oh, and if you search the Ruralist for “Sarah”, you’ll see my face! 🙂 You might even see more of me as time goes by.

What are you waiting for? Rural Ontario is waiting.

~~~

PS: If you (or someone you know) are a rural Ontario business-person and you think you’ve got something the Ruralist editors would love, or you’re interested in purchasing a micro-site in the upcoming Ruralist shopping section, send me a message telling me about your business and what you think the Ruralist editors would love about it. If I agree with you (;)), I’ll pass your message on to Erin and Erin.

In light of my post about Gingerich’s organic eggs a few weeks ago, this post is fantastic. Thanks to Rachel of rachels-table.com for this enlightened post!

Rachel's Table

Yeah, I went there. (Thanks to my darling husband for suggesting such a mind-blowingly smart title.)

Weekends are for two things: sleeping and big breakfasts. Well, maybe only for big breakfasts if you have kids. I don’t, so I sleep in and then eat a big breakfast.

This past weekend I decided to try a little experiment. Yes, with eggs. One egg was free range, pasture fed, hormone and antibiotic free. The other was the grocery store brand. Here are the eggs in question:

I took these eggs and fried them:

Notice the first egg. It looks like a nice enough egg and is frying up splendidly. But notice the second egg. Look at that yolk! It is such a lovely shade of gold-ish orange!

Guess what I discovered after my very serious eggsperiment? The grocery store egg didn’t taste like much, but the free range egg tasted like the…

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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)

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. 🙂