Lingering/longing

34159675766_11814bce7f_c

33358089834_767446498f_c33358089364_eacd9d07f2_c34159674536_c6d28a5757_c33358088824_c3b6cab9c1_c

One week until our ferry departs to head back to my fucked up motherland (hey America! You’re still being run by that sexist, bigoted, disgusting Cheeto in a wig right?).

I should be finishing up my visa application, my thesis, and multiple other things. Instead I had to spend one last weekend morning on the beach. I had to listen to the seagulls and notice how the flower blooms are starting to fade in some places. My fingers felt the textures of the massive driftwood logs and picked up small pieces of sea glass. I feel a lot of things and like I might cry. The future is such a tumultuous, unsure thing and the now, the now is precious and fleeting and like grabbing smoke, but that doesn’t mean I cannot wax poetica about the now.

Good things exist in the future. In eight days I’ll see the smiling face of my partner in crime. In eight days I’ll see my dogs and the lake we live by. I’ll be back in a land where I don’t need a visa and where my old, beloved crappy car, Frank, waits to have me drive him around. My favorite brewery awaits me with a cold glass of my favorite single malt IPA and I get to go to Target (Canada doesn’t have Target and holy kapow I miss Target).

But for now, I’ll soak up the now.

In the gardens unabashed

33368001423_436e989c0e_c33368036173_28eaf699be_c33368038013_988802deab_c33336699554_b28c73b3d8_c34021613012_70cc974930_c33368005233_7b638e5304_c34138611906_1f579687f2_c33367996403_f91fcf2fdc_c34021579712_637f91a6b1_c34179034215_647d06dbee_c34138619936_3698953a19_c34179027455_dbdfd58cd4_c34021618282_3be57bd71e_c34021597552_969f9666f9_c

Had to put in a quiet Eve mention somewhere. Being in gardens, so lush and fertile and beautiful, surrounded by dozens of species of flowers, trees, bushes, and other flora, I often think that no wonder Eve bit from the apple of knowledge and fucked everything up. Ignorance may be bliss for some, but not for me. I want to know about everything. What tells flowers it’s time to bloom? Why are some petals soft, others rubbery, and others thick and dense? Why do humans enjoy causing some sort of terror to every living thing, whether it be tramping on gentle flora or ruthlessly carving our names on the bamboo in the gardens?

Regardless, yesterday Liang, Deb, and I all spent some much needed time outside in the gardens at school. We smelled all the blooms and quietly meandered and took pictures of each other. It was a lovely afternoon of quiet in the midst of what feels like multiple storms.

The final foray

33906729592_1c9a69bffe_c33906730852_6316e9e33a_c33906726672_c05dd9fe89_c33906728082_c07970d984_c33906725302_501a99a844_c33906724572_2748bb5cea_c34063268825_d8644a3bf5_c33220961524_46ffcd6e9b_c33906721072_359ece45a6_c33220961034_25cdc06eb9_c33220960574_93dfd2251b_c33906724092_0675b584ac_c

The final cabin trip at Lake Cowichan.

I held a Pacific Chorus Frog, saw a deer that shared a meadow and some sun-soaked forest with me, stood on the dock with some good souls and soaked in my final views of the fog-shrouded mountains. Large logs floated on the surface and the rain pattered on the lake surface, an almost mesmerizing thing to witness. A fire was built and we huddled around it. I went to bed earlier than most, sharing a wood and canvas tent with Isobel. We heard the loud sound of rain hitting the tin roof, and with flaps made from tarp the night air seeped in making us both glad we were cozy in our sleeping bags.

Having recently gotten back really positive if not downright amazing feedback from my thesis supervisor I felt giddy at the thought of almost being done with this degree. The cabin trip sealed this feeling of accomplishment- I deserved to be here, I deserved to feel my feet on the damp, fern-covered ground in the deep woods here. I deserved to take the time to notice how the light could change so quickly in such a light-starved place. Woodpeckers tenaciously poked away at tree trunks and I stood and watched them for several minutes at a time, their red feathered heads flashing.

Every forest has hiding places, evidence of life, and details worth looking at. Tree hollows, fallen leaves, the sound of fussy squirrels dashing among branches, and the chirrup of birds high above your head happen in most forests. As you walk you might notice a neat pile of deer sign, or an owl pellet, or perhaps even find the pale bones of something that has since been picked clean. Human beings, with our neat division of life and death, where the dead are buried or burned or quickly taken away, do not leave evidence of said death everywhere. In the woods, death and decay exist alongside birth and growth.

That being said, it is really nice to type those words from my warm, sunny apartment. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time outside when I can, but I’m so close to being done with this thesis! Time to go write some more (maybe).

 

Quietly readying to say adieu

32739211594_264c57da06_c33452994231_0ddefa9072_c33541600756_d407184564_c32739199504_c327ebf72a_c33582051355_68d8020252_c32739204264_b2bf8db3ce_c32739202114_46104b0052_c

I am steeling myself for the inevitable goodbye and allowing myself to be consumed by the nostalgia that comes with it all.

In 23 days I will be on a ferry heading away from Vancouver Island, and I will have all my worldly possessions with me, plus more memories than a hundred terabyte hard drives could hold.

The future right now is tenuous at best. It is terrifying at worst. Plans are tentative out of sheer necessity. I will hopefully be returning here in August to defend my thesis and graduate with my Master’s degree and then off into the real world to find a real job and make real money to pay off those very real student loans. What happens after that isn’t really clear, nor where all of this will happen. It’s all part of the adventure though, isn’t it?

In the meantime, I will relish my time here with photographs, fresh baked goods from my favorite places, and breathe in this ocean air while I can, and I will try and share it with you all.

Montana Summertime

Yellowstone, Katabatic Brewing Company, Marks In & Out in Livingston, and some other moments from our early May summer in Montana.

Feeling really homesick for the good souls I love so much.

Mystic Beach Hike: Into the woods

32991582861_57ffe24de3_c32991583411_d07e1be6be_c

32735860070_30214aaee3_c32273253834_6774cf93d2_c32991596631_3d86d206a4_c32991590611_315e7b1c58_c

Three cameras. Four rolls of 400 speed Fujifilm. One pair of Dr. Marten boots. A rain slicker. As Noah drive Rhiannon, Isobel, and me towards our destination, I wondered if my boots would suffice- my hardcore Keen hiking boots being back in Montana- and as it began to rain and rain hard, hitting the windshield with a veracity that seemed almost personal, I thought, I should have worn warmer things. Luckily, by the time we pulled into the trail head, the rain had stopped. A cool mist, the kind that is omnipresent on the coast of Vancouver Island in the morning, hung around us. The air, heavy with moisture, felt good and I breathed it in deeply. We were on the edge of the dense, hyper-saturated woods of the Pacific Northwest.

32735858000_d191f99835_c

32991597491_f42555d7a0_c32991591211_e15e3ee666_c32991589771_16a0b6f087_c

My parents started taking my sister and I camping, hiking, and deep into nature when we were only a week old. Our whole lives have been laced, consistently, with adventures where the smell of soil, the sound of water, the delighted finding of animal footprints, and the deep responsibility we have to nature comes through. I remember helping my father catch fish and learning how to be gentle with them, how to properly hold frogs, how bird feathers worked as part of a wing to help them fly. One time, to a show and tell at school, I took a duck foot in a Ziploc bag to demonstrate how a certain muscle, when pulled with tweezers, retracted the foot. (No, that did not help me make friends.) My sister and I were taught to identify footprints, find patches of fur stuck to brush, to scout for feathers, for signs of life. Something my parents have done is give me a strong, very intense emotional connection to the woods. When I walk into any forest, I feel quietly humbled,  immediately renewed, and a sort of basic instinct whispers that I am part of this, and that I owe it so much. My sister has a poster that says “The woods are my church,” and I agree with this to a certain extent. Spiritually, going into nature feels like walking into a cathedral. It’s not about you, it’s about something bigger than you, and allowing that to be alright.

As we meandered down the twisted-root and mud-puddle filled trail, I mentally marveled at the wood’s density and how sound traveled in trapped, quick pockets, roped in by tree trunks and muffled by moss. Ferns grew out of old logs. Trees rose high, higher, highest, chasing sunlight. Saplings, small ferns, and fungus all compete to cover every surface. Birds chirped from branches up above. Pieces of moss trailed from branches, catching the light. Stumps of enormous size looked like squat, wooden boulders, surely occupied by insects, birds, and other animals. Downed woody debris is vital to any landscape, and here, where everything is fertile to an almost-ridiculous extent, I acknowledged every bit of the landscape. It all had a part to play.

32991587051_a191d70ae8_c32991586091_95397c928b_c

32273248094_06e15d166f_c

One thing I am still not used to in these greener, more lush woods is the wet.  It keeps evidence of life to itself more. Water distracts and obscures and I wondered what else had been on our path or had crossed it earlier. The woods here are full of cougars, bears, raccoons, deer, and eagles, but their signs were more difficult to find, because the soil and the wood-covered ground do not hold footprints as well- the water saturates the ground and erases or muddles them. I wondered who our neighbors were- what quiet, stealthy animals were nearby? I knew that they were aware of us- our smells, noises, and our lack of grace may as well be like a flare launched to the natural world. WE ARE HERE!

About an hour down the trail, we finally came to a series of steps down to the sea. It was high tide, and the ocean roared. We could see the cloud and snow capped Olympic mountain range in America across the strait, and the sea spit forth foam at our feet. The forest goes right up to the edge of the ocean, and the two share much with each other, as these two ecosystems tend to do here in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to become enraptured with this part of the world, and the power that some of these forests hold, I highly recommend The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. That man has a way with words I haven’t experienced before and his ability to describe the woods and the land are unparalleled.

We gazed at the sea, went near a waterfall, and soaked in the sights and sounds. I cast loathing looks at the jacket-wearing chihuahuas that were brought along by their owners (I loathe small dogs for some reason.) The ocean’s tempo of rising, falling, gathering, spreading, taking and leaving, spoke to each of us in ways I don’t think we fully understand. After taking photographs, breathing in the salt air, looking at the clouds, and enjoying the sun, it was time to descend back into the thick copses of trees and bid the coast adieu. The light, in the short time we had left the woods, had changed significantly. It was warmer, more golden, and it seemed to cloak everything in a comforting light. Even the shadows beckoned in a welcoming fashion. We made our way, souls content, to the car, and the urge to fall into a relaxed slumber was almost overwhelming.

What a marvelous day.

A visit from the patriarch/Rushed Victoria tour.

32267803113_bea5a4b522_c32219173604_165efc5467_c33046571755_088b1a2a8d_c32219174184_ba31509f82_cMy father came up on the Port Angeles ferry for 3 days of sunshine filled Victoria time. We ate a lot, walked even more, and had a blast. Below you’ll find a list of places we ate, my opinions, and lists of activities we did. Note: I had a father figure patronizing the food adventures. These are not necessarily grad student budget friendly places- I had a patron.

32664481850_293793d1e0_c32664482240_0e4597525a_c32267802653_0ef5922ee5_c32249167513_6c5ecd268e_c.jpg Ate/Consumed/Masticated at: 

Omakase Izakaya on Blanshard: We had a blast eating there. We went for the omakaze option, so the chef/owner ended up making us about a 6 course meal. We were the only ones in the place, and it was amazing. We shared a little ceramic flute of warm sake, ate some amazing food, and left satiated in our hearts and stomachs- the perfect combination.

Ayo Eat in Market Square: Epic, cheap, delicious Indonesian food from a little tucked in food stall. We had the pickled egg dish which was delicious! The guy who runs it is super friendly and Market Square has some benches and places to hang out and seat yourself.

La Tana outside Fan Tan Alley on Pandora: OH my god. This brought back so many memories of Italian bakeries and eating delicious panini when I lived in Lugano. (It doesn’t hurt that the owner, Claudio, is from Milan, only an hour from my little city!) Amazing baked goods, cheap delicious sandwiches, excellent Illy coffee (americano or espresso are your two options) all in one wee little shop. I’m going back- it fits my grad school budget and brings me right back to the best parts of my past in Ticino.

Pho Vy on Fort Street: Pho Vy is my favorite place to get pho. My dad had not had proper pho before, and it was delicious (per usual). I go here probably 2x a month and every time it’s delicious.

The BeaverTails Stand on Broughton Street: Cheap, perfectly decent Canadian dessert spot. Their gelato is amazing, the BeaverTails always awesome (and they can be cut in half if you can’t eat a whole one!), and the gentleman who runs the place has, ever since I moved to Victoria, been a really positive and friendly human.

33046571535_daaeeaba31_c32926919752_85ea6c3b03_cWent/Saw/Meandered around: 

The Royal British Columbia Museum: A really lovely museum that houses one of the most thorough First Nations exhibits I’ve ever been to. (Not without its criticisms, but still worthwhile!) They have amazing traveling exhibits that come in pretty frequently, and even though I’ve been now close to a dozen times, I still always find something I really enjoy, be it the replica theatre that shows Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush over and over again or the weird but still awesome replications of salmon canning operations in British Columbia.

Ogden Point: A great place to go for a walk in James Bay! Great views of the Olympic range across the strait, and good for people watching. I love taking people there and it feels less crowded than other parts of the main city.

Beacon Hill Park: While the rose bushes aren’t in bloom and things are quiet, the park will always have some beautiful, rambling paths to meander around. The park itself is pretty large so you’re guaranteed to find some spaces to enjoy.

All around downtown: My dad and I spent a lot of time just weaving in and out of slow moving tourists going around the historic downtown area. We grabbed coffee at a few places and I showed him some of my favorite buildings and historical spots.

If y’all are in my beautiful town and are wondering where to go, any of the above places are highly recommended! Check out my Victoria tag for more ideas as well. I’m headed to Mystic Beach tomorrow, so hopefully it’ll be lovely! Packed a bunch of film and a few cameras, I’m excited to get outside into the nature!

32249167753_358e1d0fbc_c32919909711_6081fd0e3f_c33046572895_61fdbeb759_c

The act of seeing.

32067258414_1541740521_c32786286641_10d616dab3_c32786287661_cd35bd220d_c32910112885_d79109cc8e_c32910111175_8a99c60f39_c32910112615_d26c722f8a_c32756363592_62915730ce_c

Odds and ends on film. Right now it is windy and clouds are being pushed past my window quickly. I’ve been busy working on a section of my thesis that is due in a few days- and I’m so nervous to send in what I’ve got! I’ve been editing, re-writing, re-organizing, and trying to find some semblance of lucidity in my own writing. Perhaps in my life as well?

Garden Wanders

32030802113_35e5084bcf_c32030801893_150bd74e91_c32030800263_f7fd0b61c2_c32030798753_a14042cb29_c32030797333_0d982f8746_cToday Morgan and I ended up at the Gardens at HCP, a lovely botanical garden in Saanich. Despite the snow, and despite the fact that much of the flora still laid dormant, we got to see lots of trees about to bloom, lots of snowdrops, a few irises, some tulip bulbs coming up, and all the marvelous signs that spring is *almost* upon us here! We both wore sturdy footwear, paid our student ticket price ($9!) and headed in!

32030794703_e61a44a7c7_c32030795493_6389077782_c32845505185_1b85437062_c

The Gardens were way more affordable than the Butchart Gardens, and even though there wasn’t much blooming yet, I feel like during the later spring/summertime it would be a marvelous way to experience some gorgeous gardens on a budget! The way that the Gardens are landscaped gives you multiple paths to wander, lots of different areas to explore (a Japanese garden, a winter garden, an herbs garden, etc.), and many benches/sunny spots to sit and take in all the beauty that is naturalia. They have lovely little posts in the soil that tell you what species you are looking at, and I have to say that even the smell of the earth was amazing. Morgan and I both agreed that we wanted to come back when more things are active- but we did have the whole gardens to ourselves!

If you want to learn more about the Gardens at HCP check out their website!

32845503935_72968b2401_c32030791753_24c89fefa4_c32030798023_fdffd933e7_c32030792363_ee9bbc265f_c32030799023_3f64ea1107_c

Venice|Venezia

32014046303_a638e049b1_c32014046863_94263edfe6_c32828552745_56b5e19fa5_c32014047133_3fe9b21f8d_c32014048633_0b980fd619_c32014049353_f000a73690_cI learned a valuable lesson from a friend back in my undergrad. On a trip to Florence and Tuscany, my roommate/friend Lexi taught me, a photograph amateur, to always keep a folder of untouched, original files, and then make copies to edit. Thankfully, through this wisdom, even though my camera was horrible, I managed to salvage thousands of pictures of my “CONTRAST IS GOD” phase- where literally any photo, no matter what, was worthy of being destroyed through heavy contrast and manipulation. I cringe internally thinking about such times…but the original files remain for me to enjoy!

32014049633_b2017b88b1_c32787509076_9b7f70a9f5_c32787509396_14074998aa_c

And so, without further adieu, here are some photographs of a few days my beautiful mother and I spent meandering aimlessly around Venice|Venezia in May of 2010. We had a great time sipping coffees, eating sandwiches, admiring architecture, ducking into shops, and smelling that strange smell that haunts most of Venice. We encountered dogs that knew the city like the back of their hands (paws?), ate a lot of baked goods, had some Italian ladies make fun of my mum’s sneakers on the train (they didn’t know I could understand them, even with my bad 9 months of Italian classes), and I took a lot of naps (sorry Mum). We ate at a delicious pizza place whose name escapes me almost 7 years later.

I hadn’t looked at these photographs in years and today I realize how awesome it was for my mother, who had never left North America, to come spend a few weeks with me travelling. My mother is one of the most hardy, intelligent, and creative human beings I know, and as I get older I realize more and more how much I admire her. Mums are amazing creatures in general, but mums who travel across the world solo like a pro on their first go are pretty wicked.

32787509796_b2bcfb9ed4_c32787511206_73f2762b86_c32787510856_7ed11bc6d9_c32675074072_2078a22ef0_c32014053063_ea45d9831b_c32014052893_d9a3e21f20_c

Snow in Victoria

32768961335_d023f6360b_c32728541386_f37ffe18ef_c32728766756_21f26e3261_z

This morning, I woke up earlier than usual and decided to venture outside and photograph this strange, snow covered world. It was almost totally devoid of humans. I got to see a large bald eagle make it’s pathetic noises (seriously, how does such a regal animal make such pitiful sounds?) and hear birds and other animals pitter-patter in the brush.

32768957815_118891abeb_c32768958355_3c8e06a6f8_c31954734263_1dfe4d1e5a_c31954733963_d6d54db644_c

Qualicum Beach

32560462246_9c71ced342_c32478132531_0fda8bd226_c32478131381_bfdff815b0_c

This weekend most of my fellow grad students and I went up to Parksville to present our papers at an annual conference there. Having not been very far up the island, I relished the opportunity to see more outside of Victoria.

When we arrived, we checked into our rooms. Sliding open the balcony door I could immediately smell the sea and feel the breeze. However, there was no time for nice reflections: we were going to eat dinner and then edit our papers in a sea of stress, making sure that presenting them the next day would go as smoothly as possible.

I slept horribly. Perhaps stress, perhaps sharing a room with 3 other beings. Perhaps it was eating an enormous burger at dinner. Speculating doesn’t matter- what mattered was that as I woke up at 6 am after having been awake since 3 am, I felt like I wanted to crawl into a copse of trees outside the hotel and bury myself under leaves and not awaken until summertime.

32478131021_728cb7eb75_c32601053385_8d99605be6_c32478131781_74323b6d89_c

Luckily, presenting my paper (on blood transfusion methods and development in World War I and World War II!) went smoothly! Some really lovely people asked marvelous questions and the two other people on my panel (my fellow MA candidate Dmitry and a really lovely women named Katie) did epic presentations on their research.

The conference had us eating via meal tickets we were given. The meals were buffet style- relatively edible, not great, but not horrible either. There was, however, a  never ending supply of coffee at all hours of the day, and as I sipped my 6th cup of coffee over dinner I mused if I was going to make it past 8pm. Thank goodness for caffeine.

Overall I managed to find time with some friends to go on walks outside the cramped, stressed out hallways of the conference venue. We could see over to the mainland from where we stood, and the view was gorgeous. Being near the ocean will never get old for me. It was a joy to explore a new part of the island, and it was fantastic to go see amazing papers given on such subjects as Frank Buck the animal collector, racialized bias in asylums in British Columbia, narwhals in aquariums, and the first digital computers built after World War II.

32601053385_8d99605be6_c32601052865_d15241bfc2_c32601053195_5f137159ab_c32478130151_7bb6f330d7_c

 

 

 

A Fine Day for a Protest: Women’s March on Victoria

31605906224_d27a5eda4e_c31605905264_c9af9fd6f5_c

We agreed to meet at a coffee shop to get sustenance before heading down to the march. Outside the cafe, people with pink hats and signs walked past every few minutes, and I got excited.

My mother, sister, boyfriend, and friends were all in Helena marching in frigid temperatures. I knew friends marching in Geneva, Amsterdam, DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.  Most of the people I love today were out showing solidarity for one another and for other humans. Right now is not the time to shelter yourself- it is time to unite, express love and support, and learn new things. To be a good listener and take time to accept new ideas. To put yourself out of your comfort zone, stand up for yourself and others, and realize that right now, we must watch out for each other and ourselves.

31605905824_fbded4dbe8_c31605905454_bee5490d95_c31605904534_4172aeca0d_c

The march in Victoria was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of older folks, many who seemed excited and yet tired of the shenanigans their dramatic neighbors in America seem to always get up to. Lots of amazing home made signs, dogs, and little ones- including some babies that didn’t seem to keen to be starting their lives as rebels just yet. The weather was beautiful, and a really wicked Canadian politican, Elizabeth May of the Green Party, spoke. I met her on the street once during Canadian election season (which, side note is WAY shorter and more humane than the never-ending election cycle of America) and ever since have been a big fan. The march began and we headed in the direction of the Parliament building, then turned and made a big U-turn up another street. The whole time I felt on the edge of tears- so many awesome people allying themselves with Americans who will be facing struggles in the near future.

31605903574_b26e59bd62_c31605904024_dcbaef5ea6_c31605903004_3786d07307_c

The optimism and exciting energy I felt today extended beyond Victoria. It extended beyond North America. It rippled across the world and it was absolutely infectious. I hope that we can learn intersectionality, true support, and be vocal for positive, progressive changes for the better, and not be okay with the horrible darkness that threatens to engulf some of us, and I hope that protests and marches like these are just a start.

There are estimates that about 5,000-8,00 Victorians marched today, and while I’m not quire sure how many ultimately made a stand of solidarity and marched, there were thousands of people that filled the downtown area with their marvelous energy. It was such a joy to march with everybody and to see Victorians, who have often seemed so friendly and helpful, make themselves known as even more quality souls.

31605901864_2f3a34f498_c31605902194_12f7448a54_c

31605905074_a4157c013d_c31605903854_c9abc81338_c

Hike: Mount Douglas

32275690566_6de72b02e4_c31937822950_0684e93551_c

Katherine suggested we try to find and hike Mount Douglas as a way to shake things up a bit. It’s been so cold here that we’ve both got a bit of cabin fever going! This morning we packed our respective cameras and left our little bit of town and began our hike!

32275689936_a87890fcc9_c31937821730_0d4bdfeb16_c

Mount Douglas is a very popular hiking spot in Victoria, and has several trails. We hiked the Irvine trail, which was beautiful and steep in several spaces. Lots of ferns, beautiful patches of moss all over the rocks. It was cold enough that frost on some of the rocks made the trail quite slick, but luckily it wasn’t warm enough out for lots of mud to be present.

32275688696_b30b66459a_c

We had a beautiful morning exploring this new corner of the city! There were lots of dogs and fellow hikers, and if you like having trails to yourself I would go early in the morning when people aren’t up and about yet. The trail was pretty moderate but I wouldn’t wear casual shoes or shoes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy. The rocks require some grip and there are definitely patches that have potential to be quite muddy.

Thank you for reading! I’ve been making a serious effort to re-boot this blog back into action. Stay tuned for more and take care!

31937819610_b41358cf9f_c31937820350_d782581f5d_c