Hello everyone! My last few blogs and newsletters have been way too serious or philosophical, so I thought I would lighten it up and share some things that I am finding interesting and/or amusing.
(I apologize in advance for the picture formatting/sizing and placement. WordPress changed how I can work with pictures. They publish different than the back end shows, so I currently cannot get the pictures to do what they are supposed to. It looks great on this end!! I swear!!!)
1. Toilets. I know…who starts a business newsletter with toilets? I am having a strange fascination with the structure of toilets and flushing buttons, and finally used my first in-floor toilet in Italy. (Is that TMI??)
2. Spelling. Before I flew to the United Kingdom, I was considered great at spelling. But words are very different there than in the US, and I was reminded of that often. Even my computer picked up that I was in the UK and told me I was was misspelling words such as: theater (theatre), color (colour), neighbor (neighbour), license (licence) and so on. They actually use the word “whilst,” yet Americans avoid the word as much as we can. (Like swum… we much prefer to say “went swimming.”)
3. Enunciation. Training one’s ears to a different language can be challenging. My friend Martina, who is Italian, and I were taking turns reading to each other and I read the word “quarrel.” She suddenly stopped me and exclaimed “squirrel?!” while proceeding to take a squirrel pose and make squirrel-like noises. (It still makes us giggle!) We also had a great miscommunication about “leak” versus “lick,” which sound very similar to non-English speaking ears, as well as “hate” and “ate.” In Sweden, I am often corrected when I think I am pronouncing something PERFECTLY and my friends tell me it is completely wrong. I cannot hear the nuances of some words…yet!
4. Knives. Did you know it is illegal to carry around a knife that has a locking blade (think multitool, camping knives, etc) at all in England unless you are going camping? I didn’t. My friend’s 11-year old told me when he saw it lying on my bed. In Sweden, I also found out it is illegal to bring knives out of the house, so one cannot just grab the kitchen knife and go get it sharpened at the local grocery store. It is a good thing I know how to sharpen my knives myself! It does explain all of the extremely dull knives I have dealt with at hostels though.
5a. Bonfire night/ Guy Fawkes night. This holiday in the United Kingdom commemorates a failed plot to assassinate King James I of England back in 1605 (Catholic vs. Protestant.) There are large bonfires (often with an effigy of Guy Fawkes in it), fireworks, and toffee apples. It is cerebrated November 5th, and overshadows Halloween (which is barely celebrated here.) I found it delightful and community-oriented, and I managed to eat just as much junk food as usual.
5b. Armistice (Remembrance) Day. November 11th is Remembrance Day, and, unlike the US, it is taken very seriously over here. Many people start wearing their poppies a month in advance. One town I was in had structures all over town decorated with poppies, some of them handmade by the local artisans.
5c. Sant Lucia. This Italian Saint is also celebrated in Sweden on December 13th, although they have different traditions. In Italy, the kids bring letters to her, asking for what they want as a gift (like we do with Santa.) In Sweden, there are no gifts given, but often kids dress up and wake their parents with singing early in the morning dressed as Saint Lucy. There is a traditional saffron bread made as well. Here are the pictures from a concert and the homemade bread (I helped!!)
6. Strange Things in the Streets. My friend, Trish, asked me to post pictures of odd things I find as I am traveling (travelling??) She showed me her favorite butcher shop, who, for Christmas market, hangs pheasants, ducks, and other animals you can purchase outside. This shop also sells squirrel, which I have never eaten before. Maybe next time!
These water bottles strapped to a post are supposed to prevent dogs and cats from peeing there. I saw many framing doorways as well.
7. Navigating Trails. I am pretty good at navigating, but I find that not all public trails are marked thoroughly. For example, while I was in Italy, I decided to take the long version of this trail around a couple mountains. It is marked very well, just past the blue split to the north. Then, the trail splits about 4 times, none of which are marked. I thought I found the trail later, but it turned out it was someone’s property markings. After bushwhacking for about an hour straight up a beautiful mountain using a compass and Google Maps, I found my way back to the trail.
To be fair….perhaps sometimes I lose a trail because I get sidetracked or I think I’m smarter than Google (just because an unmarked-by-Google hiking trail crosses a road…. it doesn’t mean I can get on that road,) but I have seen a huge difference in the ways trails are marked in different countries and the resources available to find them. Hands-down Scotland had the best preparation information online, including length, bogginess, difficulty, pictures, descriptions, and a variety of ways to download the trail information. Sweden’s big trails are very well marked, but I have to buy a map/book/guide for each one.
8. Silly things that Make Life Easier.
I love these automatic light switches in pantries and closets that turn the light on and off when one opens and closes the door.
I also loved a garbage can, whose lid popped open when you opened the cupboard door under the sink. It’s truly the height of brilliance, as I am easily impressed.
This may not make life easier, but I loved the concept of a bunch of trees growing out of buildings. These buildings in Milano caught my attention, and I have been told I missed some that were better.
9. Seemingly Innocent Yet Dangerous Spots. The Strid, near Bolton Abbey in England, is a stream that goes from being about 6’ wide to about 1’ wide. The water rushing through it looks and seems fairly peaceful, but it is super dangerous, and has a 100% death rate for those who enter it. Cameras, cages, and anything else placed in the water here for research disappear. My friends jokingly call it “the babbling brook of death.”
10. Coming Home. I have two job interviews in Sweden in January. One on the West Coast in Gothenberg, the other on the East Coast in Stockholm. The outcome of those will determine when I will come home and for how long. I may be coming back in February or March for a few weeks when I accept a job. If I do not take one, I will not be home until June or July. Once I have my tickets and have confirmed with the spaces I rent, I will be booking people who are interested in massage and healing appointments. If you are interested, please let me know by replying to the newsletter, Facebook messaging me, or by texting me via my old Red Wing business line/mobile number.
11. New Certification! I am over halfway through my international certification process for Emotional Freedom Techniques a.k.a. tapping. It’s really amazing and I am seeing great results with my online clients. If you are interested in learning more, I am still offering it at a huge discount. **Note: Those who are seeing me for homeopathy and/or EFT also get first pick at massage appointments when I return.**
12. Other updates. if you missed my past blogs, you can find them HERE. One is a story of me thinking my tent was going to blow off a cliff with me in it. Quite exciting??!!
I miss you all and I miss Minnesota, but I am learning valuable and interesting things over here! I look forward to hearing from all of you. (BTW, if your plan is to come to Europe in the next 6 months or so, I might be able to meet you to say hello if you give me notice.)