On Re-evaluating My Life in Italy

I’m embarrassed to say the lack of electricity shocked me.

I was in Italy and had already been flabbergasted by the superstition that wifi had to be turned off when it rained. We were going to my host family’s house at the top of one of the mountains that cradled Storo, a small town in Trento. As we drove along a one-way, curvy road the children in the car pointed out trees of significance, the best places to play, where the road closes in the winter. Later, they told me the car rattling was us driving over pine cones. It made the ride back into town slightly less terrifying.

I watched as the children helped their grandparents and parents cut down a tree. I offered to help but was told guests should relax. As I took in them working, the dance they created, I realised my “relaxation” was simply a tactic to get me out of the way. He steps forward, she steps back, the trunk moves, they sway behind it, one moves left, one goes right… Eventually, I was deemed competent enough to try something and was handed a tool. After a quick lesson, I clumsily shaved pines off bigger branches.

The smell of cheese being cooked brought us indoors to eat. The outdoor oven’s smoke mingled with the fat from salami. The table was complete with beef simmered in tomatoes and porcini mushrooms cooked in cream. Polenta soaked up every bit of sauce. There was an almost overwhelming heaviness in the house. The feeling that you weren’t just a part of now, but part of everything that had happened there.

After dinner, I was assigned the job of putting mushroom stems under the tree. The stems would eventually root and grow, hopefully before the snowfall. Everything, it seemed, had been here and returned to here. I walked to the edge of the fence and peered out at the town below. How strange it must have been to watch the valley turn from green pastures to buildings and squares. The air was crisp, holding its breath in anticipation of the seasons turning. Dusk was rolling in, it was almost time to go back to town.

As we drove into town, I wondered if I could live there. Up on the mountain, just myself and whatever I could come up with to occupy my time. A part of me likes to believe I could. I would read books and write every day. I’d go on walks and become intimately acquainted with every blade of grass, every trill the wind made. My sigh of relief when I saw my phone come back into service reminded me of why seclusion was something to work towards. Maybe I’m not ready to leave what I know quite yet.

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On Re-evaluating My Life in Italy

How (and why) I Make Almond Milk

Dairy substitutes are super popular. We seem to be in this weird time where people love to cut stuff out of their diet. I don’t make almond milk because I’m lactose intolerant, or because I’m waging some type of protest on dairy. The human body is amazingly complicated in its diversity. Dairy works fine for me, so my reason for almond milk isn’t about digestion. No, I make almond milk for one reason only.

My dad drinks straight from the milk bottle and it grosses me out.

I mean, yes, it’s nice for a change and such, but I only make it when I catch him swigging, so there you go.

You can really make this with any nut. I’ve heard macadamia, while expensive, is delicious. I’m thinking of trying walnut, but I like the subtlety of almonds. They don’t overpower.

Start by soaking your almonds overnight. I used one cup of almonds. This makes them easier to blend. Just add enough water to cover.

Then add your strained almonds and water- I used 4 cups- to a blender. and liquefy.

Set up your straining apparatus. You can get special nut bags, but I just use a fine strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth.

Now, milk is naturally nuanced with a lot of sweetness and saltiness. I always add a bit of salt. Sometimes I’ll add a touch of agave or honey, sometimes a hint of vanilla. It really depends on what I’m using it for.

Now, this isn’t a cheap project. But, if you drink nut milk…. I mean, the ingredients list is insane.

And I know my dad won’t touch it.

How (and why) I Make Almond Milk

Diversification

There’s a lot of weird things going on. I’ve switched to writing full time. We all have a friend that shared that “you don’t quit jobs, you quit managers” meme, and that’s what I had to do, so it’s done.

Now, how does that work with my current blog setup?

Well, what I have now is:

this blog that I’m terrible at updating.

my diy blog that I’m even more terrible at updating.

and random freelance work.

I love this blog. I started it a long while ago and I’ve been trying to get it to just right to start a professional career but the problem is… I don’t want to be professional on here. I love that I can talk politics and be conversational and write short things and not have to worry about SEO crap and i can swear and I can write things like the longest run on sentence ever. It’s kind of gotten to the point where I know I need to write something serious, but I want to write something a little more off topic so I get in this weird shame spiral for wanting to be casual and end up doing nothing.

So, where does that leave me? I’m keeping this blog. I’m attached. However, the direction will change a bit. I’m keeping this as my… not scratchpad, but more journal like. Since I want to be able to work on stuff here while I travel I’ve also decided to not monetize this blog. This entire fruition kind of came out of me trying to figure out if I can actually write an article while in another country on a tourist visa. I basically wanted to know if I needed a work visa if I planned to write things about my trip. Apparently I can do things and be paid to write about the experience later, but I can’t actually do paid writing. By separating the paid from the unpaid I’m giving myself a space to talk about whatever whenever. It’s kind of freeing to know that there’s just space here where I can work out stuff while I’m not working on stuff.

But, things do sometimes need to be refined, and such things will go on my new launch, Third Name Sandy. It’s not nearly even close to done- I’m not sure I’m even keeping the layout… I’m probably not keeping the layout. If you want some refined stuff that’s taken me literal hours to write, stuff that’s more narrative and structured, then be prepared because it’s all coming as soon as I can write it. Which is sooner now because this is going to be my actual, literal job… which is kind of scary as hell.

But still read this! Like I said, I love this blog and I want to update it more now that I have time.

 

Diversification

It’s Okay If You Don’t Like It

Last month I wrote about how to pick out what you like in art. That was super easy for me because I love Goya. To be fair, I love most art.

Sometimes there’s very important pieces of art. For instance, Duchamp’s Fountain. The year was 1917 and basically Duchamp wanted to prove anything is art, so he tried to enter a urinal to the Paris art  shows. The fancy people were all like, “um, that’s not even signed, get it together.” (not a direct quote) and so he signed it, titled it fountain and got it into the show.

This was a major catalyst to a whole new movement called Dada that basically is all about nonsense, but good nonsense.

You can read about it in academic terms here if you’re so inclined, and you should be inclined.

Now, if you feel that that explanation is heavily biased, then congratulations you are right.

Continue reading “It’s Okay If You Don’t Like It”

It’s Okay If You Don’t Like It

Tattoos and Judgement

10 Tattoo Cliches to Avoid at Any Cost. 

I saw this Matador Article and it bugged me. Unfortunately comments were closed, but hey, here I have my own personal venue for any comment I want. Yay!

I grew up with parents who absolutely hate tattoos. They still do. My mom constantly will say stuff along the lines of, “Oh, that outfit would look so great but it’s ruined by that tattoo.” For me personally? I’m absolutely terrified of needles so sticking a bunch into me is a no go. I’ve seen some I don’t really get, and some I think are beyond beautiful. My upbringing was shaken when I started travelling for more reasons than tattoos, but I remember one incident… not incident… happening? in especially great detail.

Continue reading “Tattoos and Judgement”

Tattoos and Judgement

Tofino: An overview/budget review

I have only amassed about three weeks of travel in the past two and a half years. I know it’s a lot, and I know how lucky I am for that. But damn, for someone who’s used to spending 3-4 months of the year abroad it’s hard. So, Adam and I decided a long weekend away was in order. We were going to go to the states, but I’m kind of dodged out by the US because Canadian/American exchange rate is, for lack of a better word, complete and utter shit; also, I’m not too fond of who the people put in power. The combo made it a pretty easy choice to stay in Canada. We didn’t want to fly anywhere, so we thought Vancouver Island would be perfect. With my luxurious family weekend in Tigh-Na-Mara still fresh in my mind, my first thought was spa. Then we looked up the prices for spas. We ended up deciding on Tofino because I hadn’t been out that way since I was about eight, and it has some amazing, super British Columbia-y stuff going for it. Think lush rain-forests and tsunami evacuation signs.

Heralded by everyone telling us Tofino is beautiful but, “oh! It’s so expensive there!” we decided to go for it. I truly believe there always a way to see a place regardless of budget. The problem with this trip was that we only had a weekend. The slower you travel, the cheaper you travel. But alas, we both have steady jobs, so what can you do.

Tofino is pretty easy to get to from Vancouver. You could go this weekend on a greyhound for about $100. We opted to take my Mom’s car because, well, she loaned it to us and Adam likes to drive.

It quickly became a game of me sending pictures like that to her and alerting her to all the fun her car is having without her.

We started our journey from my house in the suburbs and drove to the ferries. If you’re driving the quickest way is hands down Horseshoe Bay- Nanaimo. We made it on to the 8:30 a.m crossing and since it wasn’t a long weekend, our Friday morning was nice and cruisey. BC ferries is… well, it’s the only option so I’m not going to critique it too much. You pay about $18 for each passenger, and an extra $55 for the car.

After we got off the ferry we followed the signs. We did make some stop though….

This is Little Qualicum Falls. They have an upper and a lower route. Because my body is still messed up, we did the lower route. It took about twenty minutes and was a nice little detour.

All in all, there are a lot of amazing things about the off season. It’s cheaper, less crowded… but a lot of stuff we stopped for was closed until March. Most notably Coombs market, which has always been one of my favourite places on the Island.

One thing that wasn’t closed? ….actually it’s only open Saturdays but she sold us cheese anyway… Was Coleman Meadows Farm! We stopped there because we saw a buffalo dairy sign and I’m obsessed with buffalo mozzarella, which ended up being our dinner that night.

Also, water buffalo are super cute. After we pet the dog and checked out the chickens, we headed on.

Continue reading “Tofino: An overview/budget review”

Tofino: An overview/budget review

My Two Cents On Online University

I get a lot of flack for online school. People think it’s easy, fun, “OH MY GOD YOU NEVER HAVE TO PUT ON PANTS”. It’s not. I mean, yes, sweatpants are fun. I can’t deny that one. But honestly, no one makes a college movie about the studying, and with distance ed that’s all your left with. So, it’s time online school gets the respect it deserves, and yes, people have said all these things to me.

Online University Comment #1: You didn’t get in anywhere else?

Okay, I get this one partly. The selection process does cater more to mature, working adults and a large part of my application process was life experience. However, they looked at my community college grades and made sure I was up for it.

Online University Comment #2: It must be so much easier!

I took a history course that had six textbooks for one semester. SIX. It wasn’t even a “pick and choose” type thing, it was a “you bet we’re reading every word in here, plus online readings, plus videos!” My friend who took the equivalent at her standard university had one textbook. ONE. The entire thing is readings and essays because it’s not like you’re going to get the information from your twice weekly lecture.

Online University Comment #3: At least there’s no group projects! 

I hate group projects. I know it’s supposed to be about learning to work together and all that, but there’s always that person who… well, I’m sure you know that person (if not, think about how you’re acting in group projects). Naturally, I was super excited about not having a group project ever again… and then I took a math course. You know what’s worse than a group math project? A group math project that has to be done over email when all 4 people are in different time zones.

Online University Comment #4: I would kill to not have to listen to people be stupid in class…

Yeah, so would I. Picture the people who ask a question for the sole purpose of getting to drone on about answering it. Picture that person getting to internet comment. Now, picture you “participation” grade depending on your response showing that you actually read twenty paragraphs of them.

Online University Comment #5: It must be so nice not having to get up and go to class. 

This is the tough one. Yes, it is nice that I don’t need to get up and make myself presentable, but you know what the hardest thing to do is? Getting up and studying when it’s raining and all you want to do is curl up with a cup of tea and a good book and/or it’s netflix equivalent. In college I would rent a locker and keep all my books there. I would be on campus all day and when I was home I would relax. That separation helped so much. When your study area also doubles as a cozy couch it’s really hard to concentrate.

Now, this isn’t to say it’s all bad. Online school has afforded me the option to travel long term and not feel like I’m putting off a goal. Also, it makes for some pretty cool course/trip match ups. Studying modern European history while backpacking Europe? Cool as hell, and everything takes on a much greater meaning. It’s like having the ultimate guidebook.

If you’re thinking about online school, I’m finishing my degree through Thompson River’s University, but there are tons of other ones depending where you live. If you do decide to go for distance ed it can give you some amazing opportunities, just know it’s not all textbooks at the beach.

For reals though, don’t bring a textbook to the beach. Trust me, it never works.

My Two Cents On Online University