Sunday, January 8, 2017

1 of 25: en route to salvation mountain

#experience2017
Happy 2017 faithful readers! Hope the year is treating you well so far. I have a cold and if that is the worst thing that happens to me this year, I would say I'm off to a good start.

First up for the 25 new experiences I'm supposed to subject myself to in 2017 (#experience2017) is a trip to Salvation Mountain.

For those of you that need a quick refresher, the new blog competition this year involves me experiencing 25 new things for the year 2017. 20 I get to pick myself and 5 need to be picked from the suggestions of my readers. If you need more information than that, see my blog post closing out 2016.

So, Salvation Mountain was suggested by a reader as something for me to do while hanging out with my family in Palm Springs. What is Salvation Mountain? Well it is a historic landmark located just outside the town of Niland (pop. 1,006) which is in Southern California on the Eastern side of the Salton Sea. Leonard Knight, over 30 years ago created the monument as a symbol of his devotion to Jesus and his message of love for the world. Leonard has since passed but the art project continues to this day through the work of other like minded individuals.

As this experience taps into a lovely meta narrative about ones devotion to ones art, and I had to travel along the Northern Coast of the Salton Sea to get there, I thought I would tack on a small side trip to  Bombay Beach.

Bombay Beach (pop. 295) is known as a top photography destination and not because of it's beautiful sandy beaches but because the town has a apocalyptic feel to it. Naturally, I felt drawn to it. I mean who doesn't like to hang out in the dilapidated structures of an abandoned town?! In all fairness the town is not completely abandoned, there is almost 300 people still residing there and it has become a popular destination for artists. Plus I noted a baptist church and a couple of bars, so clearly there was life still in that town.

So in the spirit of art and ones devotion to something greater than themselves, I give you the post-apocalyptic photoshoot "en route to salvation mountain". Enjoy.

The Highway Shots - what one sees as they drive on Highway 111 towards the Salton Sea










The Salton Sea 

ubiquitous beach shot
Salton Sea signage



Bombay Beach

outskirts

Welcome to Bombay Beach

Place we used to call home

vacation rentals $25/day
bus stop


beach ruins


archeological dig


beach ruins 2



Receding sea line
sunny day at the beach



Inside the artist's studio - pictures I took of inside the art installation "Death by Lemons" by Greg Haberny (thank you Greg!)

Death by Lemons

stroll on the beach

Acid & Alkaline 
light fixtures



Keeping watch


The new art

Inside the artist's studio


Niland


Recycling plant


Pilgrimage 

Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain signage

Salvation Mountain


the yellow brick road
tire trail




Jesus' shadow


tire marks the spot
Special thanks goes to my unofficial Bombay Beach tour guide Ernie for getting me all the good shots.

me and my guide Ernie

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A quick update as we close out 2016

Hello faithful readers,
Apologies for not writing since September; however, you may have guessed that I did in fact win the blogging competition against @TheCesspit. Yes it was a glorious victory in which I celebrated by not writing in my blog for the past 3 months. A strange occurrence for the writer in me. But was feeling the need for a wee break from the public writing seeing as I had been going strong since December 2013. A long time in deed to keep up with the posting, when there is no coherent theme to my blogging other than it being random stuff in my head.

I suppose I could argue that the coherent theme to my blog is the randomness of the writing.

That all being said, next year will bring a new blogging challenge (apparently @TheCesspit likes having his ass handed to him) a challenge that at first sounded like it had some structure and consistency, except on closer examination it will be just as random as it has always been.

The challenge this time around is for me to try 25 new things in 2017 and write about my experiences every other week. 20 will be my choice and 5 will be suggested by others and vetted through @TheCesspit and my lovely friend J (you may remember J from such famous blog posts of mine as: where we find the answer as to what one should do if they ever meet their doppelganger and where we determine what my stereotype is and my personal favourite where we debate the merits of cannibalism cafe style.)

I'm up against @TheCesspit again only of course he writing about 25 new places to eat/experience around #YYJ. Should be fun and if not at the very least it gets me in the habit of writing again. Because let's face it, this challenge will probably be the opposite of fun for me, after all I am the gal who likes to hang out at home and read a book on a Friday night...alone.

So first up for me is to try something new in Palm Springs. So if you have any suggestions send them this way. And mark it down in your calendars lovely readers, as the first post of 2017 will be happening Sunday, January 8th before the chime of midnight, as per the rules of the competition.

Until then I will be resting up and trying to come up with some "new" experiences to try that won't totally destroy the introvert in me. Wish me luck, I may need it!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September updates - doughnuts, Greek Tragedies & homeless cats

Fell off the grid there for a bit, unless you follow me on twitter, then you would have noticed I've been around (making delicious doughnuts apparently), just not blogging.
Tasty doughnuts I made.
And no @theCesspit did not win the blog competition. @theCesspit and I negotiated a "blogging cease fire". That is, we don't blog during fringe festival, when one/or both of us have a play in the festival. I feel this cease fire could apply to any festival that one or both of us is involved in...

I know you are wondering: Andrea had a fringe show and didn't tell us! Does she hate us?!

So before you start a riot over missing the most awesome fringe show EVER, I urge you to put down your smashed beer bottle, take a deep breath, and let me quell your worries.

I assure you, that if I had a fringe show, you would most certainly hear about it AND irregardless of my feelings towards you, I would expect you to come to my fringe show. 

But alas, it was not this great blogger who had the show, it was the other. Yes, @theCesspit had a show and I hear it was amazing. And yes I missed it. But not for lack of trying!

Which brings me to what my fringe show would be about if I were to have one.

Title of show: The Oddness of Jenny

Short Description: All Jenny wanted to do was see her BFF's one-person-show at the Marginal Theatre Festival. But the gods had other plans!

Basically the show will take the format of a greek tragedy.

The protagonist, Jenny, is the tragic hero of the piece. She is a good person who spends all her time looking after the poor and preforming miracles and such, kind of like a millennial/hipster version of Mother Theresa. Her fatal flaw is she puts others before herself all the time AND she doesn't always carry cash on her.

There will also be a Chorus, that sing and dance around the stage emphasizing all the key parts (for example, The Trial below)
Jenny feeding an orphan child
Plot will go something like this:

On the day Jenny goes to see her BFF's show she forgets that she donated all her cash that morning to one of her favourite charitable organizations, the cat sanctuary (a shelter for homeless cats) and neglects to get more cash from the bank machine before she heads off to the show.
Cat Jenny cares for at the Cat Sanctuary
She decides to walk to the show (Jenny is also an environmentalist), which just happens to be tucked away (5 miles uphill) in some upscale neighbourhood that has it's own theatre but no bank machines. When Jenny gets to the show the ticket holders won't let her in because she doesn't have cash and they don't take credit.

Jenny is sad she is going to miss her friend's show and a back and forth happens with Jenny and the Festival goers (played by the Chorus). This part will be the climax, which we will call The Trial, and it will deal with the banking institutions, our debt ridden society, credit cards being evil and hippies only using cash, as well as some anti-technology rants etc. etc. (this part will be fleshed out a bit but I'm thinking there will be some good marxist rant stuff in there).

The Trial ends, the Festival goers decide Jenny is an evil person because she doesn't carry cash and they mob and kill her.

The End
The Chorus in agony that Jenny doesn't have cash!
Not sure if Greek Tragedies have explicit morals to them but if this one did it would clearly be "those that don't carry cash at all times will die by the hands of some hippies".

Awesome right! I will let you know when it comes to a festival near you and you better have cash or they might not let you in!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

(uplifting) musings on death, god & relationships

Today, I was sitting in the media room at the Church I serve at (GT Victoria) and was putting up slides promoting the events for next weekend and it occurred to me, next weekend is August 14th. And yes I do follow this thing called a calendar and it shouldn't be that shocking really but in all fairness it was early, I barely slept the night before and I hadn't yet met my daily quota of coffee. So the fact that August 14th was almost upon us felt like some sort of revelation to me at the time

So why is August 14th significant? Well it's my father birthday and just to be clear I'm referring to my earth father not my heavenly father, in case you were confused...

My father went through chemotherapy last year, and it seemed like that whole cancer thing was kind of touch and go at times, or perhaps it seemed so based on the fact the information I was receiving on the situation was being funnelled to me through my mother's over zealous interpretation of events. Regardless, of how information was relayed or not relayed to me throughout the experience it never changed the fact that we were dealing with cancer.

And cancer is just, well, it's not very predictable. And no amount of medical intervention is going to tame that beast. So you just have to go into the experience with a positive mindset, an acceptance of the way things are (not as we would have them be) and plan for the worst while hoping for the best. So yes, one year later, my father is cancer-free (I haven't heard otherwise so I will assume this to be the case) and I'm feeling way less suffering than I was during that time.

Now I don't want you to take away from this that my suffering is less because my father is cancer-free because that is not the case. And I know that is hard for people to hear, and that is because people are not accepting people. See suffering is created from the expectations we have of how a situation should unfold. My suffering is less because I have no expectations of how this cancer thing should play out.

See you can live a "healthy" life, do all the "right things" and you will still die (true story). Maybe you will die from cancer, maybe you won't. Maybe you will get cancer but not die from it. Or maybe you don't get cancer...but you still die.

And it's ok. Because death is supposed to happen. No really, it is. And maybe you don't want to think about death but you should think about it sometimes. And I don't mean dwell on it and get all teenage angsty Andrea goth about it, but do think about it.

Think about death in terms of your life. Are you living your life the way you want to be? Are you fulfilling your purpose? Or are you living for someone else. My guess is, if you are not living your purpose and you find you are living for others, you are probably not one to think about death. In fact you probably avoid the topic all together (maybe you have even stopped reading this post long ago, which is unfortunate for you because this is a damn good blog post you are missing out on!!).

The problem with thinking about death is that it makes you look at your life, it makes you evaluate yourself. And the last thing you probably want to do is take a look at yourself in any sort of critical way. So you ignore it, distract yourself with life's pleasures, until you can't ignore it anymore. Because life's pleasures are nice but only if they are serving you. But most of the time you are a slave to this world. And you become beaten and broken until there is nothing left but the sweet release of death. And there is only one way to beat this life trajectory and that is to live the life you were meant to. Live a life of purpose.

Yes, I'm being preachy (I'm having an Andrea evangelical moment) but I speak from experience. From spending a lifetime in the trenches of despair, addiction, hopelessness and depression, I can say the only way out is purpose. And purpose comes from having a relationship with God.* True story.

Maybe it was not what you wanted to hear. I know when I first heard the instruction to develop my relationship with God it was quite literally the last thing I would have thought would help my situation. But it did. And I'm so thankful it did. Because for the first time in my life, I can actually say, I'm happy to be alive and experience all the moments God has for me: the good, the bad and even the cancerous ones.

So get on developing that relationship with God. After all you only live once so make the most of it please, as your fellow humans will like you much better for it :)



*Note: I call it God but you can call it whatever you want, Creator, universe, spirit...etc.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Originals - the latest Andrea obsession

So in an effort for me to still be connected to this Earth, I split my free time between scripture study and binge watching shows on Netflix. Although, right now it is binge watching Shomi. And yes, I have both streaming services and no tv...please don't judge me, as even though I binge watch tv I am still quite selective of the shows I choose to watch.

And interestingly enough, it turns out my tastes haven't changed much since I've started studying the Bible, if anything my somewhat questionable tastes in media content make a bit more sense. For example, I'm still drawn to my superhero/comic genres; what can I say I've always enjoyed characters birthed out of trauma and yet still manage to maintain a moral compass. And am still a fan of my zombies (not surprising at all given my love for the Zombie Jesus) and of course my vampires.

And this brings us to my latest vampire show obsession: The Originals. Already showing season 3 on Shomi, I have finally decided to get around to watching it. I held off because the show is a spin off from The Vampire Diaries, which I love; however, The Originals is based on a character named Klaus, who honestly wasn't that appealing to me at first. Without getting too much into the character of Klaus, especially for those who really don't like this vampire supernatural stuff but basically Klaus is a vampire/werewolf who is tyrannical, abusive, murderous and kind of insane and not in the fun sexy way. Him and his siblings are original vampires (hence the series name), meaning all vampires can trace their lineage back to them. So yeah...the show is kind of like Creation mythology but told with vampires...kind of cool, I know!

So despite the show being of questionable value, it was based on a show I liked and seemed to have some potential parallels to this book I was currently studying, and The Walking Dead's next season wouldn't be on Netflix until September and so I figured I would give it a shot.

Turns out it's not bad at all. First off, it's based in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities, so I get to experience the sights and sounds of that every time I watch it, and it's pretty bang on with replicating the sense of place of N.O. Secondly, the characters and plot is fairly engaging if you like dark, psychologically intense and morbid stories. I mean who doesn't love that?! And it's not just dark and morbid because it's vampires and stuff but because it deals with issues of abuse, family and redemption. After all one of the main characters is Klaus, the result of a physically and emotionally abusive upbringing and instead of having an awesome therapist to help him through his issues he instead has spent the last 1,000 years with his siblings who are equally as damaged and messed up as him, although with different scars and coping mechanisms to deal with their past. Not sure if that is the best way to heal but we will see. Right now it is entertaining enough, and although a tad unconventional, it still manages to keep me grounded in the Word.

So for those of you that don't want to hear about my Bible studies but for some reason still insist on wanting to connect with me on some level, you now have The Originals. So I guess that is a win for everyone.

Want to talk vampires?!



Sunday, July 10, 2016

weekly snapshot - imaginary fashion mag bio

Sometimes when I'm flipping through my fashion mags* I like to sit and meditate on the contributors section and imagine what I would put there instead...not that I have some huge dream to write for Vogue, I think this exercise is more about being spontaneous and creative, as well as just giving me an opportunity to think more about myself (because I just don't do enough of that!).

And just to quell any rumours that this post is really because I can't come up with anything else to write about this week (hello blog competition is still going here!!), it really is something I do when I read my monthly fashion reports, I'm trying to share with you! And yes, I really am that self-involved.

a.k.gregg (my pen name will be in some cool retro vintage punk font #justsaying)

Picture:

Surprisingly the picture I will choose will not be a selfie but instead will be a picture of my bloody foot after one of my 3.5 hour training runs and my toe nails will be painted in metallic sliver. I feel the silver will complement the blood and bruising quite well actually, I feel my editors will agree.

Or I will use a picture where my feet are fully clothed!
Profession, location, what I contributed to the magazine: 

writer (obvs), island village located on this island in the NE Pacific Ocean (aka Victoria, B.C.), reports the Island Style Dispatch  found on page XXX (that's not page pornography but page 30 for those of you that don't speak Roman Numerals)

Some quote about my awesome experience working on this piece:

"writing about me and my opinions was like a dream, I'm really hilarious, best time ever!"

Hails from: Winnipeg, Manitoba (that city that is the Capital of that Canadian province that isn't Ontario or Quebec, yeah, that other province located on the other side of Ontario, and yes the country goes farther West than Ontario!)

Latest Discovery: essential oils to hydrate the skin, vegan mascara that works and that dude Jesus (so cool)

travel plans: right now, my only plans are to make daily pilgrimages to my patio, where I can lounge in the sun, sip tasty mocktails and hang out with my plants in the herb garden. It's summer in Victoria, everyone leaves town to go camping, can't imagine why I would want to be anywhere else.

playing on repeat: various Bethel music compilations on shuffle on my iPod nano (worship music is my new Ellie Goulding)

online fixation: Netflix/Shomi or whatever online streaming device that assists with my tv show binge watching (just finished Pretty Little Liars Season 6, and yes they are still pretty and stylish and still lying...)

compulsively reading: the Bible (seriously can't stop reading, I even have it on an app where I can read it while pretending to check my email)

mode of transport: my feet

secret skill: I can find a way to bring up my love for God in pretty much any conversation I have (even when I'm getting waxed!), I can also pretty much end any conversation I don't want to have by brining up my love for God

sartorial signature: fleur de lis necklace, 3-hole black doc martins and oversized sunglasses I wear during the day-rain or shine

or a more traditional photo for the bio...#selfie :)
*Special thanks to my September 2013 copy of NYLON for the inspiration for this post.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

biweekly update - kale, chocolate & scripture

There has been lots going on in the life of Andrea but most is really hard to write about right now because I'm in a preparing type of phase right now.

What I'm working on (a work in progress):

Meditation/prayer - exploring different techniques to take my meditation to the next level, which is to create silence in a world that doesn't stop talking 
my urban garden meditation spot
holistic health approaches - reading a lot right now on Edward Bach, the physician who invented the Rescue Remedy flower essences. A fascinating guy to learn about, schooled in Western medicine approaches to health and grew dissatisfied with how doctors treated patients, moved towards a holistic healing approach where he believed that dis-ease was rooted in humans not living out their life purpose. Really enjoyed his essay "Free thyself" - health is a human right and is good when it is in harmony with our souls...meshes well with everything else I'm reading in scriptures

kale salad! holistic yumminess


Scripture studies - found myself a Torah study group! We meet every Saturday (on Skype) and discuss the bible for 4 hours. Feel so grateful to have met these fine souls and to be able to talk about God and the scriptures in a non-judgemental environment. I suppose this may sound awful to some people but to me this is the highlight of my weeks right now. I just can't get enough of reading theological works and being able to talk about them with others! It is like school but without the hefty price tag! 

Chocolate! And speaking of grateful, I made chocolate in celebration of me and my colleagues 3 month mark at our new job. It is so nice to be in an environment where people genuinely care and support each other. Especially when they are work people, i mean after all we have to see these people more than we see people we love so we better enjoy their company! So my way to give thanks to my new team for taking me in, was in the form of chocolate (I know what you are thinking, Andrea is the best co-worker ever!! #truth). 

vegan chocolate! 

I have to say life is pretty good right now. I will try to write when I can but mostly right now, I'm just living and experiencing life right now. No need to write it all down, so I will try to take more photos for you :)

And now for a selfie!
Post chocolate super cute selfie