New Beginnings

Dear readers,

‘Round these parts, there be much change afoot.

Shortly after my arrival to the Vaterland, I found myself untended in the exotic land of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, accessory to my boo. He, however, had lectures and classes all day, and I was left to my own devices for much of the week. I attempted a summit of the Zugspitze via the Reintal Valley early in the week, but turned back after I realized that  a) I’d hobbled myself in my aggressive pace, and b) I didn’t have the time I’d have liked to summit the mountain and take the cable car down, and I certainly didn’t have the gear to survive the night. That walk back was at a decidedly slower trot, and I returned to my room with time to lick my wounds before dinner. And with that, my week of hiking evaporated into the ether. As if to endorse my decision, it rained… for days.

Now, there’s only so much media that I can consume in a day. I thought I was on a pretty good kick with Downton Abbey, which I began for the first time down at Garmisch (so good), but I found that I am a terribly antsy couch potato. I became increasingly agitated: act, be not acted upon! I did venture into town each day, but that ain’t no freedom of the hills. Poking around the Interwebs in my ennui on Wednesday or Thursday of that week, I discovered two sites that appeared as if manna from Heaven, which seems to be how my life works. These two sites, Proofread Anywhere and Transcribe Anywhere, are legitimate work from home sites that offer to teach you the skills of their respective freelance trade. Each offers a weeklong introduction course, which is conducted daily via email. I took both of these and found that I quite enjoyed them. Oh, and I stumbled upon and purchased the Genius Blogger Toolkit – a bundle marketed for one week at 97% off retail price. That’s pretty cool.

With the conclusion of the annual dental conference on Friday morning, I got my husband back. We spent the day and a half remaining to us there in the outdoors, riding a really cool coaster in Oberammergau on Friday, and climbing the Kramerspitz to the north of Garmisch on Saturday morning. We’d timed the hike to allow us ample time to drive to Memmingen Airport for our flight to Portugal, site of Honeymoon The Second. On our way there, we passed under this magnificent pedestrian suspension bridge in Reutte and flipped a U-turn to go check it out. Loc suffered a bit on our Kramerspitz hike, and he had me push him up the hill to that long bridge; the incredulous looks of passers-by was well worth the effort. Oh, the bridge was nice too.

We flew to the Algarve region of Portugal with one attraction on our agenda: the Benagil Sea Cave. The southern coast of Portugal is riddled with sea caves, the result of millennia of erosion, and this one is the creme de la creme of sea caves – an Instagram fave. Alas that the ocean was not in our favor and the one attempt we made was by speed boat from 30 kilometers away. The location of the cave is deliberately obscured, and it was with some chagrin that we discovered it an honest 150 meters from Benagil Beach. We attempted to reach it on our own several times after that boat ride but were ill-equipped and unsuccessful. My personal highlight of that trip was our stay at Vinha do Gaio, an agrotourism B&B perched on a mountain north of Monchique. Put simply, it is what I envision paradise to be.

But the changes:

1) I’m launching a career as a professional proofreader and transcriptionist. Right now, my goal is to become a legal transcriptionist, which I hope will lead to other opportunities as I establish myself in the industry. Legal transcriptionists work predominately with court reporters. Proper English is a matter of reputation in this world, so I am getting grammar and punctuation through a firehose (it’s not easy). I am also taking the proofreading course, as these two fields nest nicely and allow me the freedom to work from home (stay at home dad!).

2) I’m doing yoga with Adriene, my YouTube crush. I’m on day 6 of her Yoga Camp, a 30-day program that is challenging, but gently so. I like to start my mornings with yoga, as it awakens both body and mind and encourages synchronization between the two; it is active meditation.

3) I’m baking bread! I have a lovely sourdough starter bubbling away in the corner, and yesterday, I made both a quick bread with a small portion of my thru-hike grains and cornbread done right. I have several bread books on hand, chief among them The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and I am just rolling in gluten.

4) I’m expanding my (vegetarian) culinary repertoire. I’ve long had vegetarian leanings, but after watching a particularly frightful PETA video (damn you, Paul McCartney), they’ve intensified. Since that fateful day, I’ve nearly gagged several times while eating hamburgers at restaurants. My qualm is largely an ethical one: I cannot support industrial farming. I’ll write a whole post about that some day. Yesterday’s chili had beef in it, but I bought it on the German economy rather than at the commissary. Your money is your voice in this modern economy, and I’m becoming increasingly judicious in how I use mine.

5) At the recommendation of a friend, I’m keeping a line-a-day journal. I’ve been doing it for a month now, and I really like both how it forces me to focus on what I deem most important in a day and how it serves as a historical record.

6) I found BookBub. If you’re at all literary, I highly recommend this site. It aggregates sales from across the web on books that may appeal to you. I’m still tailoring it to my interests; yesterday, it suggested a book of lesbian erotica to me, but also the Bar Tartine cookbook, which is chock-full of instruction on culinary techniques! Oh, and it was $2.99. Speaking of culinary techniques, The Kitchn offers a free culinary school online.

That about sums it up: English, yoga, food. I’m about to dive into music too; I have a keyboard and a guitar that have spent months in lonely isolation and they are calling my name.

Here’s to living deliberately –

James

 

 

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