Friday, September 23, 2011

Images of Autumn

A-maize-ing (Pun Intended)

It's autumn. In some places, it's still summer. Not here, nope, zero, zilch, nada. Officially autumnal. Yellow leaves, crunching, the perpetual smell of burning something in the air, cardis, oxfords, tights, jaunty hats, grasshoppers and wheat and red berries. And NO CAMERA.  Distress.

Right around this time of year, last year, we went to our very first pumpkin festival out in Bon Accord. We've been there several times since (albeit not for pumpkins), mostly because I'm inclined to believe my husband likes a good deal (in any language). They have a corn maze (which I love to tell people is a maize maze, mostly to see the expression on their faces when they don't get it, or think I am suffering from a speech impediment). They also have a canon that they shoot the pumpkins out of at a 2-D pirate ship. (Last weekend, pumpkins not being quite ripe yet, it was a corn canon. Seriously awesome.) I was a few months preggo at last October and not showing at all, yet the demands for 'belly shots' were rampant on Facebook. I was awfully tempted, folks, to stuff one of the pumpkins under my shirt just to freak people out. That, or find a picture of me from Thanksgiving when I've eaten too much and pass it off as baby bulge. Turkey baby. Baby baby. Same difference at four months, right?

So let me tell you about this place. Don't go if you don't have a giant sense of humour, because unless you can get into the kitsch and shabby attractions, you'll spoil your afternoon. The corn maze is awesome-- that is, unless you go at the end of the season, and people have tramped through it to take a shortcut to the parking lot. At that point, you're sort of wishing you'd worn industrial boots because, ladies and gentlemen, a cut cornstalk is actually quite penetrating and resiliant. They also hide a number of oddities, including discarded Timbits, which our schnauzer found (and was disgruntled to relinquish). Their petting zoo boasts an exorbitant variety of chickens. The first time we went they were roaming freely around the grounds. I have a thing for chasing chickens, and every time we've visited since, they've had the chickens behind bars. Alas.

The Enchanted Forest bit of the festival consists of things intended to be creepy... but what makes the Enchanted Forest legitimately creepy is that it looks like a playground out of a horror movie. The statues and whatnot that are intended to be cute and charming have fallen into decay, paint peeling, cement cracking, vines and grasses rising up and twisting around them, like an abandoned circus or playground where children were murdered. WAY freakier than the plastic skeleton sprawled in the dead leaves, although, I must admit that the plastic Kewpie doll in the muddy witch's pot was also somewhat twisted. The kids delight in the mundane plastic skeleton while the adults shiver at the legitimate and more subtle creepiness of the place.There is also an authentic 1970's hearse they pull out for Hallowe'en.

If you have children who have difficulty assessing the severity of a situation, do not take them to the toddler's maze made of six-inch-high bales of hay. I cannot tell you how many kids stand in the maze, unable to figure it out, and believe they are legitimately cut off or separated from their parents, also in the maze.  They stand there bawling until someone comes to rescue them. It never occurs to them that they can walk through or over the wee piles of hay... Strangely, they know that the skeletons in the "concert hall" singing country songs aren't real.

You can stuff your own scarecrow. The best part about this is that people leave behind their discarded scarecrow parts. It's like D-Day on Omaha beach. Lots of parts everywhere. Dismembered scarecrows with their faces drawn on by 6-year-old artists. It's colourful and comical and gruesome all at the same time. Be prepared, friends, if you go, to sit in a hay pile stuffing jeans with straw. 

And did I mention there are pumpkins? LOTS of pumpkins.

We're going back this year because my husband has decided he wants to take pictures of our son on all the pumpkins. We did a dry run of Oliver on the pumpkins and hay bales last week at the Harvest Festival (which really, was just an excuse to shoot corn out of a cannon), got him with an Olympus point and shoot. Epic fail. I have documented a plethora of Oliver expressions suitable for a number of  caption contests... I'm afraid none of the captions would be family friendly. Glare-o-rama. Lots of up-yours stares and eff-you grimaces, proof that kids are on to the ridiculous need of parents to pose them in "fun times" pictures. I can wait until adolescence for those looks, thank you very much.

And then there is the issue of my camera AND lens being in the camera hospital-- still in the waiting room to go through triage, I'm told. Must be a Canadian camera hospital. Luckily, aside from the glaring, Oliver hasn't started doing anything photo-worthy, like sculpting masterpieces or tap dancing. But, the next pumpkin festival is around the corner, and I haven't got a gawsh durn thing to get it with. Le sigh.

In the meantime, please enjoy the collection of foh-tohs I have to share from autumns past. I'm gonna give them their own post so you can enjoy them without the distraction of words. Although, if you're here, thanks for reading the distracting words. I'll also be setting up a new image gallery so if you're looking for some of these fabulous seasonal images, it'll be easier to find them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Busy Season

It seems, sometimes, that the months can fly by and feel like days. You look back and wonder where the time went, how you managed to neglect your diary, how your blog goes without updates, and you haven't bothered to answer those e mails from your mom. (I don't have that problem with my mom... I think if I somehow didn't assert my existence in the universe for more than three consecutive days, she'd inundate my phone with messages and eventually end up on my doorstep.) In our world, we moved, took a vacation, and started a new teaching semester all in the same breath. Looking at the calendar, I realise this was more than thirty days ago, not yesterday. It's a miracle some couples manage to find the time to talk, right?

My husband and I found an interesting solution to this problem that inevitably creeps up during the busier phases of our lives. We came across this Q&A book at the bookstore and bought a pair of them. Essentially, there's a different question every day that you answer, everything from philosophical questions (what's standing in your way?) to silly questions (do you need a cold shower?) to questions about what you ate for dinner (what was the last meal someone cooked for you?). The book allows you to record your answers over a period of five years (starting from any year-- you can fill in the year as you go), so in 2012, I can see what I wrote in 2011, or in 2015, I can see what I wrote in 2014, 2013, and 2012. I'm curious to see how my answers this year will be different next year.

My husband I keep them on our night tables, and as we're going to bed, we answer the day's question and talk about our answers. Sometimes we have about thirty seconds of sharing, sometimes the day's question actually gets us talking before we pass out.

A bigger project we've taken on is a sort of auto-biographical journal that prompts you to write down different memories and experiences, info about your family, quirks and quarks, and your philosophy on life... we're hoping to finish them before we're old, senile, and can't remember our own names. We thought it might be a nifty keepsake for our kids or our grandkids, who would never know us as young thirty-somethings, just wrinkly, doddering, doting grandparents. (What I'd really like is for my parents to fill them out, but I don't think that'll happen. They somehow manage to be two of the busiest people I know.) I'll try and find the links for you so you can check it out for yourself. It seems a little daunting, but again, it's been a project that has definitely stimulated some conversation between my hubby and me. It's amazing how much you don't know about someone, even if you've been with them a million years.