How to Ditch the Phone & Write Some Snail Mail

Today’s post is written by the incredibly talented illustrator and designer Tara Joy Andrews. Tara is the creator of the BlogJam Atlantic logo, as well as numerous other whimsical and wonderful designs. Read on to hear her thoughts on the return of hand written letters and to enter a very special giveaway!

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I fell in love with mail in elementary school when I was about seven years old. Our class did a letter-writing project and all of my classmates were randomly given each other’s addresses. We were given some writing prompts to write a letter and the teacher gathered the letters in their sealed and addressed envelopes, put stamps on them and mailed them for us. I lived outside of town so was disappointed that my letter took an extra day to arrive but I remember the feeling of getting something in the mailbox addressed to me from someone that a stranger had taken the time to deliver right to my house. At such a young age it seemed like magic.Read More »

To BMore in Baltimore

In a couple of months I will be saying that I’ve lived in Baltimore for a whole year. Holy cow. How did that even happen?

How long can you live someplace and still get away with being the new kid on the block?

Even though I’ve been here for a while, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it’s like to live here and experience the city. In all honesty, I haven’t exactly fallen in love with the place either…yet?

I suppose it doesn’t help that other life circumstances are less than ideal at the moment, but I’m resolving that personal stuff and family stuff that’s beyond my control will not have bearing on my ultimate opinion of the time I spend stateside.

Our goal isn’t to plant roots here or even to stay long term, but I would like to be able to say that I had a great time while we did live here…Read More »

Just Another Dumb Tourist

I’m confident in the water. I grew up as a competitive swimmer before becoming a lifeguard, teacher, and coach. I even spent some time teaching water aerobics. I have no problem hopping into a lake for swim – though I despise leeches, I’ll deal with ripping one off as needed. When it comes to ocean beaches, I’m usually the first one in and the last one out. I love the water and I’m a huge proponent of water safety.

I’ve spent many hours on the beaches of Atlantic Canada, down through to South Carolina and Florida. I thought I knew a thing or two about jellyfish…how to spot them, how to avoid them, etc.

After several summers of sea time on the beautiful beaches of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, I learned how to recognize a mild* jellyfish sting. They look like a long scratch most times (like that from a cat) and while they do burn, they aren’t generally worth making too big of a fuss over.

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Arctic Red jellyfish – the jellies commonly found on the beaches of Prince Edward Island. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/12209781

So, it turns out I’ve only ever seen White Moon and Arctic Red jellyfish.

Ever the blogger – even especially when on vacation – my sister, Erin, and I had been traipsing around looking for the best insta-worthy photo ops.

Check out this shot. Gorgeous, eh?

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In this picture, I’m concerned about capturing the beautiful blue sky and the gorgeous coastal vista…and I’m completely oblivious to the fact that I’m inches, INCHES away from a Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish.

Take a closer look.

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Total dumb tourist.

As I was approaching the rock outcrop for my photo shoot, I saw a blue plastic water bottle floating in the water. I thought to myself, “what a shame that there’s plastic floating in this beautiful, clear water” and I even considered grabbing it to throw in the trash when I went back to the beach.

I’m not sure what stopped me but I forgot about that plastic for a minute and did a few silly poses for my sister before swimming deeper into the waves for some body surfing time, while Erin retired her photography for some tanning in the hot sun.

It wasn’t until I had dried off later that afternoon when she turned to me and said “I have to tell you something…” Apparently a local had warned her that she wasn’t to go into the water near that spot because of the dangerous nature of those jellyfish. He even said that he was surprised to see “that girl” (me, the idiot) being so cavalier to pose for pictures next to it.

Fortunately, the local resorts actually work to remove this species of jellys when they’re in the high-traffic swimming areas. Obviously, though, nature, “uh, finds a way.”

I was horrified. HORRIFIED. How did I become such a cliche? Me? I’m Ms. Feet-First-First-Time! I’m the one who tells parents not to let their kids use flotation devices when the tide is going out. I’m the most annoying, water-safety woman around. I could not — and still cannot — believe it.

In my only, pathetic defense, the thing REALLY looked like a plastic bottle. In fact, they’re also known as Blue Bottle jellyfish…so…there…

The lesson to be learned is that we are all naive and dumb when we travel to new places. Experience doesn’t always translate. Be aware and be safe. If you’ve never been somewhere, educate yourself and take necessary safety precautions. Take a look around you before you start your instagram photo shoot. Your safety is more important than a funny picture.

Don’t be me. Don’t be just another dumb tourist!

* The irritation of the sting of an Arctic red can be treated easily with the nearby sand. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/pe/pei-ipe/securite-safety/animaux-wildlife

Man-of-War Jellyfish, close up pic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/p/portuguese-man-of-war/

 

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