Thesis beast and Primavera.

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Just some photos I have accumulated that don’t fit any particular theme of any one post. Some photos of some snowdrop flowers I found in all their tenacious, early spring glory. Cheerful homes I walk by on my walks to combat the intense anxiety that threatens to swallow me whole. Bits and bobs of books in the library, including the best label that reminds people that defacing books is, in fact, a crime.

Qualicum Beach

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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.

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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.

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A Day of Mourning

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Today I didn’t wear all black but I felt like it. Waking up before the sun had risen, I had a drink of water, put on lipstick, and walked out the door with my camera. I thought of home- of my family that will be marching tomorrow against hate, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all other horrid things that do not represent the America we know- and I wanted to be home.

The morning was beautiful- crows chatted and birds chirped from bushes that were on the edge of blooming. Victoria right now, in mid to late January, is already on the edge of welcoming Primavera in all her colors. Snowdrop flowers, those harbingers of such events,  were already blooming in some flower beds on my street, and I wanted to ask them to be patient and wait- snowdrops are some of my favorite flowers and they fade the fastest, and things already feel so difficult and insurmountable.

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I walked down to my favorite beach spot and noticed that the sea was utterly roiling. The golden and copper hues of the sun on the mercury-like waves was mesmerizing, but the waves were so big and so frequent I couldn’t clamber over the rocks to my favorite hidden place. I tried to wait them out, as it is common knowledge that the ocean is a moody thing, prone to changing quickly. No such luck. In my suspicious mind, I wondered if the ocean knew that thousands of miles away, in a swamp turned capital city turned swamp, a monster supported by neo-Nazis and the ignorant alike was putting on a mantle of enormous power, and that perhaps the ocean knew that this was wrong, bad, and could have all sorts of consequences for many life forms.

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Then I thought about my mother, busy making signs for the march in Helena tomorrow, and I thought about my marvelous aunt, who was already in DC, excited to march against this ridiculous Cheeto in Chief who would likely raise Hell with his ignorance. I thought of Mary in Minneapolis who was also excited to march and I thought of myself, who would be joining a coalition of allies here in Victoria tomorrow.

Now is a difficult time. Many things threaten to drown me. A seemingly never-ending struggle to maintain a most tenuous balance plays out. Right now, the balance between maintaining my mental health and being productive feels like the hardest one. Many of us are doing our best and I know that right now, all I can ask of myself is that I do the same.

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Hike: Mount Douglas

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Bundled up by the sea.

31818697970_49bd63931d_c32075827831_594cb368ce_c31818697200_1b5c6aef04_cThis morning I woke up and it was cloudy, warmer than it had been all week, and quiet. I quickly dressed, packed a muffin, a banana, my diary, camera, and keys in my bag and headed out the door sufficiently bundled up. I pinned on the small bird in hand pin my sister got me as well. It goes with me everywhere these days.

Victoria has been cold. And by cold, I mean balmy compared to my homeland, the deathly chilly wastelands of Montana. Yet, the ocean chill seeps into my very soul on these cold days and so when the temperature rose enough for me to feel like I could be outside for a length of time, I took the opportunity with enthusiasm.

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There weren’t many people out, despite the significantly warmer weather. Honestly, I love it when Victoria is like that. When it feels like a secret, when the beaches are empty of dogs and humans. The murmur of human voices are gone, replaced by the sound of wind and waves. I reclaimed my love for Victoria again this morning with this environment.

Going down a familiar set of slippery wooden stairs, I scrambled on rocks by the beach and thoroughly enjoyed myself, bundled up in a large thrifted Polo Ralph Lauren men’s sweater that serves as my coat these days and the ridiculously warm Icelandic wool scarf I bought myself in downtown Reykjavik last June. Sea ducks surfaced and dove right off shore and the massive ships anchored deep in the strait looked as though they had always been there. The mountains behind Port Angeles are snow capped and regal looking this time of year, and I felt a twinge as I looked at my home country, and my mind went to my family and loved ones. What a lucky thing it is to live somewhere that still surprises me, but what a thing it is to do so feeling still so alone.

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Nonetheless, being a human is inherently a lonely enterprise, so to dwell on the difficulties of such things is pointless. It’s best to listen to the sounds around me, breathe deeply, and smell the salt and the sea. It’s better to notice how steadily me heart beats, how amazing the miles of blood vessels that run through me are, and how glorious it is to feel the soles of my boots move from one rock to another as I navigate the slick rocky shore.

I think these things as I sit near the large window that faces a busy street. It has begun to rain very hard and raindrops coat the window. Everything in me is whispering to go take a Sunday cat nap for a bit, and I just might. A dopo!

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A Cabin Palaver/NYE 2016

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My hands clenched the wheel of the old Subaru as I slowly turned the wheel to negotiate yet another slick curve, and I openly cursed the Montana Highway maintenance people, while Logan calmly offered to drive. You call this a highway?! This is a death trap of ice and bullshit! No gravel! No nothing! This is a heavily used road and THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE?! 

Logan once again offered to take control, and I hissed NO and kept driving the car slowly over the icy turns of the highway. While I loathe driving over horrible roads, I fear giving up control even more. We crawled slowly, but the views were gorgeous. Frost covered trees, sage brush, and hillsides were passed, illuminated by the ever warmer light of the dying sun. It was, truly, beautiful in the way only cold, northern places can be.

We finally passed the not-real town of Norris and made our way down into Ennis. From there we finally found Virginia City, a summertime town known as one of the early capitals, when Montana was but a Territory. A flourishing mining town at one point, now it is a small town with lots of festivals and events in the summertime. We entered it in the midst of winter, with shuttered up windows and “closed for the season” signs inevitably hung up.

We called our Airbnb host and he led us in his little white truck up roads with no names to a renovated cabin from the 1880’s. He showed us around, shook our hands, and left Logan and I. We went and fetched Mary and Amy, unpacked the cars, and proceeded to cook a meal.

 

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Logan brought lamb from a ranch in Boulder, Montana. We had stopped by their stand at the farmer’s market many times this summer. They always remembered Logan because of how tall and nice he is. The lamb in a pan, veggies in a bowl, and wine in our glasses, we set to palavering and cooking, drinking and enjoying the end of 2016.

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The cabin was ridiculously well thought out. There were a huge number of books tucked away in discreet, beautifully hidden bookshelves. Plenty of firewood sat on the front porch. The small wood stove was an efficient beast, and quickly warmed the loft into quite a toasty nest. We perused books while the lamb stewed and kept ducking outside to admire the stars. Why is it that stars always look brighter in the cold? Is there something about frozen night air that makes it clearer? The sky hadn’t looked so big to me in some time.

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Soon dinner was ready. Time flew by, and when Logan fished the lamb out of the pot, it slid off the bone immediately. Steam wafted from the meat and we took turns gnawing on one shank that wasn’t so clean. We poured a Tannat wine from Uruguay and settled in to devour a perfect New Years Eve meal together. There is always a marvelous simplicity to eating meals around tables with good people.

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Finally, midnight approached. We drank prossecco, bundled up, and went out into the front yard and gaped. We smoked a cigar that Mary brought and were mostly quiet, trying to not freeze to death. Each of us pondered what the year had brought us, and what the next would bring. I think that every single one of us, though, felt a quiet sort of satisfaction that we were welcoming a new year in such a place, with each other.

Parmigiana di Melanzane

I grew up in a family that didn’t relish cooking. My mum is an incredible baker, whipping out apple pies, cookies, brownies, and other oven-based confections to perfection. She can cook, and I know that she and my father do more now that their spawn are out of the house. My father today makes curries, cans carrots, makes his own cider, and butchers the animals he hunts.

However, growing up, I don’t remember food being so prominent. My mother explained it in the most reasonable way when I asked her once, telling me that after getting us out the door to school, working full time, then coming home to make dinner, making dinner was a chore, not a gleeful reprieve, as I’m sure many women can attest to. I do not begrudge her this in any way, understanding and loathing the idea that women can and should have it all, including cooking skills that come out as soon as you close the office door, because you love slaving over a hot stove for hungry, picky kids.

However, my only living grandmother doesn’t cook. My remaining grandfather doesn’t either. My aunts in Connecticut cook, often reporting what they’re whipping up, but in my immediate family food is appreciated but not often lovingly made except on holidays or special occasions.

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Perhaps this is why I love cooking with Logan so much. I hear stories of family members spending all day in kitchens, of special pizza ovens, of flavors and ideas I’ve never known before. Bottles of red palm oil, special coconut milks, and dende milk can be found tucked away on his shelves, things I’ve never used or known. The cuts of meat are different here in America, which I had never thought about before. He teaches me how to do ridiculously simple things like how to properly cook rice and that cooking can be a joyful, organic process. We listen to music and have a glass of wine or two and taste as we go.

My brief sojourn home was spent in his kitchen with him, helping keep odds and ends going- soaking the starch of jasmine rice, grating parmesan cheese, scraping out small meaty pumpkins, stirring onions in olive oil for flavors, helping strain broth- and whenever I play sous chef I learn.

The best dish we made this weekend was a parmigiana di melanzane, which Logan found by watching Gennaro Contaldo videos online. It. Was. AMAZING.

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We picked out a beautiful, fat eggplant in the most gorgeous purple sheen at the grocery store. I had never actually handled an eggplant but it was really lovely and lighter than I expected. Logan sliced it up, beat an egg in a bowl, put flour in another, and got some oil frying, and it all began. We sipped Czech pilsners we’d picked up at a local beer and wine import shop, and a breeze came in from outside, crisp leaves on the back porch telling me that it was fall.

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After the eggplant fried we tore pieces of prosciutto and mozzarella and basil and rolled them up inside, laying down a bed of tomato sauce in a ceramic dish and then carefully placing the rolled tubes down. Covering them in more sauce, Logan piled on more mozzarella, some parmesan, sprinkles of basil, and put it all in to bake.

Trying to describe how good it was would be a waste of English. It was rich and perfect. We were the happiest, most full creatures after we ate it. It wasn’t difficult, and it was damn delicious.

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A semi-final adventure of sorts.

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Dressed to the nines in an Italian restaurant, we both checked our phones, apologizing and feeling rude. We had good reason to do so: We were trying to network and see if any friends or family could loan us a tent in a pinch. Our reliable outlet for tents had sold all their rental tents, which we had used periodically this summer.

After dinner we pulled up to a beautiful house perched on a hill. Annette opened the door and handed us an 8 person tent, generously helping us out. We didn’t know if we would be able to set up this behemoth contraption, but it was what we needed, and we walked back to the car, still dressed very nicely, holding the green Coleman tent bag.

Our goal: Glacier National Park, for two nights, complete with fire, hopefully seeing mountain goats, maybe a grizzly through some binoculars.

The reality: Due to my sickness, consisting of a horrible cough and wretched, fitful nights of sleep, and an impending storm in the park, we cancelled and decided on one night in Yellowstone. Sure, there was rain and wind predicted. Sure, I was still a sickly creature. But, it was my last weekend in America for a few months and we were feeling scrappy.

So, we went to Yellowstone. Again. We had a marvelous time, despite Stage 2 fire restrictions that meant no campfire. We had a tent palace courtesy of a wonderful woman and we had the Boiling River and the Lamar Valley and a quiet lake to walk near and fall colors to soak in. We had the last tendrils of summer hanging on and we reveled in what nature had to give us. We watched elk nibble feet from our tent in the campsite, large healthy cows and velvet-adorned yearlings, eating their salad and fattening up. We listened to creeks rush and leaves rustle. We had a good last weekend before it was time for me to pack and go back to British Columbia to tackle The Thesis.

A brief interlude into a form of nature.

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Immediately after work we packed the Subaru. The meals were already prepared, the sleeping bags and sleeping pads rolled up, the tent rented and ready to be set up. My dear Mum had brought some firewood and a handy hatchet into my workplace for me to take later (“Is it okay for you have a hatchet here?”).

We hadn’t been camping in some time, and it was only our second time this summer. I wish I didn’t type that sentence, but it is true!

We drove down to Yellowstone, through the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, past a river running very low and lots of houses tucked away into hillsides that we mused would be quite nice to occupy. The sun was going down, fast. We have been lulled into the idea that it would stay up with us and allow us time to make it to our campsite before it departs, but no. Summer is almost over, and those long, almost endless Montana summer days shorten with it.

We make it into bustling West Yellowstone by sundown. Tourists and visitors who don’t use crosswalks in a timely manner (“Get the fuck off your phone while you’re crossing the street!” I remember hissing as Logan sat there calmly as ever) make their way to “rustic” bars and shops. We pull into a gas station and buy a bottle of beer, a lighter (we forgot matches), and a can of bear spray. I have never forgotten my bear spray before and cursed the nearly $40 price tag for a new canister but relinquished because bears, man. Bears. Before we leave the older cashier calls Logan a “tall drink of water”.

We finally make our way into the park. Logan flashes our park pass, replete with regal polar bear, and we zoom into Yellowstone which has somehow become Mordor. The fires in West Yellowstone are visible from the road- red, orange, and pink glow from active fires, and we gape, our mouths open. The smoke gets bad, and we surmise that this trip may be very uncomfortable for our respiratory systems. We drive slow- the dark is heavy, like a wool blanket, and we don’t want to hit any critters. We drive by rivers and they look like they are made of mercury, the metallic sheen of them illuminated by what little light remains.

We finally make it to our campsite. It is dark. We have one headlamp and one flashlight between us, and our campsite is right across from the washrooms, but at the end of the campsite complex, so we are at least somewhat close to something natural. We begin to set up the Marmot 4 person tent I rented, and are pleasantly surprised to see how roomy it is. Logan figures out how to set it up faster than me, which quietly makes my Montana cred fall a bit. I mentally blame my parents who had such complex, old tents that when I go to set up a tent I form a battle plan rather than just roll with the quick, well-planned contraptions now available (sorry Mum and Dad). Logan uses the hatchet to tamp down the stakes, and we high five- we have a tent!

Logan gets ready to start the fire and I go up and say, “Uh, so I know I’m about gender parity and division of labor and things, but I’m going to go be domestic and set up the sleeping bags and things” to which he laughs and responds he’ll do the manly thing and make fire. We do both of these things- I blow up the sleeping pads, unroll our sleeping bags, put the bottle of water somewhere we can both find it. I come out of the tent and find happy flames licking the dry pieces of wood. The satisfying crackle feeds something deep in my soul or maybe my genetics. Fire means warmth, safety, security. A warm, happy, well-fed fire cares for you, and makes you content in a way few things truly do.

We open the bottle of pub-style ale we bought in West Yellowstone and cheers to a successfully set up campsite in the dark. The stars twinkle overhead. Logan makes soup with antelope burger and we drink it out of mugs. We brush our teeth in overly bright washrooms with running water and discuss anything and everything, and go to sleep in our ultra-roomy tent. I wake up in the middle of the night to the eeriest noises, which I swear are wolves calling somewhere nearby. I relish these natural sounds, the unfamiliarity of it. I am so cushioned, shielded in my everyday life and here I am in the semi-woods semi-camping and I get to hear animals make noises in the woods where they live. I am a guest on this magnificent Earth and it feels so right to be humbled by these few seconds of noise.

We wake up to the sun. It is about 7:30, and we have no cell service, and this is not a bad thing. Logan makes breakfast, a delicious scramble of potatoes, eggs, and tomatoes. We wash the dishes, pack up the tent, and drive a little ways to the river to swim. We apply sunscreen diligently and wade in. It is cold- very cold. The river is higher than I remember and I am loathe to fully immerse myself. We swim up the river a bit into the canyon and I start to get nervous. We are both strong swimmers but the canyon is thin and the rock walls are sharp- I’ve skinned my toes and banged knees many times before. We swim up a bit and float down and then get out. It is too cold and fast for us to enjoy ourselves, but it is amazing to see the canyon walls and feel our fingertips grip the rocks. We revel in what nature does, but decide to let her do her thing.

We drove through the park and saw no animals. Road construction and fires likely scared them into more remote parts of the park. This was the first time I had never seen a bison in the park. Usually a cocktail of critters emerge or are spotted, but this time- nothing. It was odd to be in a park where there was no animal life to be seen, but I knew they were just doing their thing out of sight.

The Boiling River was too full to stop by, and we drove into Gardiner for ice cream. The drive back was long but we made it. What a good little weekend foray.

“You’re out of your element”

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I’ve got 5 rolls of film from our trip to Minneapolis. We were in the actual city for less than 48 hours, and somehow Logan, Everett, and I survived 36 hours in a Prius together. (Real talk: those two are  quality co-pilots. We all traded driving, DJ, and napping shifts like bosses and killed it. Thanks you two for being quality humans to spend a lot of time in a tiny space with).

Minneapolis was gorgeous. Warm, sunny, with a light breeze fluttering in the streets. Seeing Mary, I had to give her a long hug- this marvelous woman is killing it in law school, dresses like she’s always ready to settle a lawsuit, and also seamlessly transitions into the punk goddess she is. Gina, wearing gorgeous red lipstick, greeted us, and we all went to eat. We spent the afternoon eating, getting stoked to see Savages (OH MY GOD) and catching up.

Honestly, spending so much time with so many good souls is replenishing in a way that lets you inwardly smile and realize that the world, while indifferent, is populated by people who care, even if their version of caring is tossing insults from The Big Lebowski your way.

Seeing Savages was incredible. When I get film back I’ll make a post about the concert. I was pretty damn tempted to just press pause on my life and follow Savages around on their tours and stop being a productive human and just absorb their power that they send into the audience in epic waves.

Ahem…anyway. We ate. We drank. We laughed and sat on Mary’s massive front porch and grilled breakfast sausages and listened to music. We wove ourselves into each other’s lives  again for the briefest of times. It was the best sort of weekend.

Seattle backwards in 36 hours.

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I hadn’t seen Exa in over 2 years, and I hadn’t seen Shelby in close to 5. So, when Exa bought tickets to be in Seattle for a few days, we decided to meet up.

The first night I got there, it was past 10 pm- I had been in transit since 2:30 (my ferry had been cancelled so instead I took a multi-step transport plan involving busses and alternate ferries). Exa and I went down the street to the Upstairs Bar in Belltown to have a drink- two strong Manhattans were ordered. We chatted for what felt like hours, but I felt myself slowly disintegrating- sleep was in order!

The next morning Exa and I walked to Pike Place Market to do the tourist-y things. Exa hadn’t been in Seattle since she was a little youth. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm- I could feel the sun warm the hair on my head, and the air near any large body of water just feels so good. After a bit Shelby arrived- I hadn’t seen this gorgeous creature since we both were living in Switzerland, and so to see her gorgeous clear blue eyes and epic smile felt so good.We drank ginger beer, consumed dim sum, walked all over the streets, and caught up on our lives. It was wonderful to be around these two souls who I met when I was so young and confused. Something about friendships formed when you’re in new places can’t decay, even if it’s been a long time.

We ended the day at a restaurant talking effortlessly after hours of already wonderful words. It is an incredible thing to have friends who are intelligent and can just talk for hours about everything- I love listening and taking part in such antics. If you ask me, good conversation is an organic creation that must be respected and appreciated. People are so interesting and unique and interacting with them is like nothing else. To be sitting in a dim restaurant drinking gin while we discussed goals, plans, challenges, potentials, and all other things, was to feel whole.

Unfortunately, after only one full day, I had to catch my ferry the next morning. Ending the night on the street, bidding Shelby goodbye as Exa and I returned to our hostel, I felt so at peace. The world is small, wonderfully so- you can and do reunite with the good ones.

Restless Creatures Take to the Woods Part II

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I’m sitting sequestered on the 3rd floor of the library. My Timbuk2 bag is full to the max with about 10 books. My computer is working overtime. I’m embarking on a wicked research project and trying to get a handle on my workload, but my mind is somewhere sitting on a moss bed overlooking the ocean.

We had a blue bird day- a rare thing this time of gloomy year on the island. I remember panicking with Morgan over whether we had gotten sun (I prefer to look as close to dead as possible when it comes to skin tone) and being relieved that the pink on my cheeks was merely from hiking and the wonders of moving my body forward through the trees.

We eventually found a nice overlook where Morgan and I rested for a bit while Myles photographed tiny flowers with Morgan’s camera. I felt the sun warm my scalp and I could hear the ocean gently rise and fall in that hypnotic way. I have a visitor in 2 weeks and am truly hopeful I can bring this soul here- I myself was enraptured, and any excuse to drag another body with me will be taken.

Alright, back to the stacks. I’m roaming about looking for books and my pedometer is telling me I’ve walked almost 2 miles just in the library alone today. Endlessly searching for the perfect book to complete your research apparently entails thousands of steps. (That counts as exercise right? Especially when weighed down by a passive bookbag?)

Happy Saturday everybody!

Restless creatures take to the woods pt. 1

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Images from our hike on Tuesday. Morgan drove us deep into the rain forest near the coast and we hiked, smelling sea air, hearing creeks trickle, birds chirp, and soaking up the magnificent visuals.

I needed to be outside. I had cabin fever of the “stuck in the city” sort. I can be outside- it’s temperate- but everywhere in Victoria are yards, yards, yards. Manicured, controlled “natural” spaces that make me feel claustrophobic. When Morgan suggested we head to Sooke, I said YES YES YES.

I’ll talk about the hike more on the Part 2 post- I’m off to pick up some 35mm film that went through my repaired Olympus OM-20! Hopefully no light leaks this time, I got all the foam that keeps light out replaced. Can’t wait to get the scanner going and see what I’ve got in store!

 

Amsterdam Redux

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Going through my harddrive and found hundreds of photographs I had not previously thought worthy of keeping.

Taking thousands of photographs a year means that I get a free ride down skewed memory lane, and yesterday morning I got one- the sunshine, smells, and crowded streets of Amsterdam. Emily’s face when I insisted on photographing her again and again. The bright coats and hairstyles, sturdy boots and terrifyingly fast bicyclists.

I would write more but I’ve got so much work on my plate it seems foolish to continue reminiscing- for now.

 

Naturalia Tuesdays

I woke up after finally having what I would consider a good night of sleep. I have been tossing and turning for several days, experiencing odd, stressful dreams and awful fits of just lying on my back, seeing the lights of cars come in through the blinds.

This morning I walked a familiar path that follows the Strait and looks over it to Port Angeles. This morning I was able to see not only America but the magnificent Olympic mountain range, pink in the morning and jutting up so far away. The fact that I can look at my home country and yet feel so distant is darkly hilarious.

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There were quite a few crows out this morning. It was cloudy and dark, feeling much earlier than it actually was. I kept my headphones out this morning- there were too many songbirds hidden in the bushes that kept making beautiful sounds.

The seabirds here are amazing. I only have a prime lens on me at all times, but I think it’s time to hoist the behemoth, awesome zoom lens that Helen, a family friend who lives in the Netherlands, generously gifted me. The birds here on the Strait are too colorful and interesting to be ignored, but they are skittish and stay far from shore. If I get enough work done today I might go out tomorrow morning and make pictures of their oceanic cavorting.

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This morning geology and garbage alike caught my eye. I mostly walk on muddy or asphalt covered paths but this morning I found myself collecting garbage that had welled into some of the holes in the multi-colored, exquisite rocks along the shore. My cynicism towards humanity swells into a massive crescendo in my head when I see Pepsi cans and cigarette butts and pieces of Styrofoam (which doesn’t decay in landfills for over 1,000 years, curse it’s artificial structure) littering gorgeous granite and sharing space with seaweed and lichen. We are, frankly, vile creatures. We may bemoan pigeons and seagulls as “rats with wings” yet we, really, are just rats with opposable thumbs and large brains. The fact that we find other animals disgusting is ironic.

Regardless, I had a great time. When it’s cloudy, which is most of the time here, my eyes can appreciate color better, and the muted greens, purples, reds, and lovely black and browns all bounced out today, lush and inviting. I even admired the fearsome, dense thorn bushes that crowd on the cliffs above the sea. I finished my walk by hopping on a bus to campus to begin attacking the never ending readings that underline most days, feeling ready for any and all dense prose, for I had been invigorated by all the quiet flora and fauna around me.

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