From punch needling to painting and bubble tea, The Capilano Courier staff share unlikely survival tools and activities to help you get through another summer of COVID-19
Illustrations // Rocio Palomarrobisco
Maria Penaranda // Editor-in-Chief
When my best friends and roommates moved out last fall, my house was in a state of limbo. Some decorations and remnants of them lingered—reminders that my friends were no longer here—and I realized my home no longer felt like one. Exasperated from a mounting pile of homework and nothing to keep me distracted, I decided I was going to give my house a makeover. I painted plant pots, made a tiled table, framed torn-out pages of the Capilano Courier—but nothing so far has been as satisfying as making my punch needle rug.
I first got into punch needling in December, when I was too broke to buy the $400 tufting gun I wanted (not to mention, too impatient to wait the four-month shipping time). I’ve put endless hours into this rug now, punching through lectures, podcasts and zoom calls with friends. The work is starting to take shape, and my lovely wool rug of pastel blobs and squiggles is nearly done. It’s fulfilling to see this piece materialize as I work on it, and empowering to know I can put something as seemingly complicated as a rug into existence.
So, as you push through another COVID-19 summer, I recommend you pick up punch needling and make something for your own spaces. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to do, and will ease a busy mind like nothing else I’ve known.
Ode to Bubble Tea
Bridget Stringer-Holden // Associate News Editor
It’s hard to think of something specific that got me through this past year and that might help me get through the next. Having already written a piece for the Arts & Culture section about my gains and losses of friends during the pandemic, I decided that I’d write this piece about bubble tea. It’s definitely gotten me through some tough days.
I’m not too sure why, but it’s something about the sweetness of the tea combined with the chewy texture of the pearls that make me love this drink so much. It’s calming and the idea of going to get a cup after finishing a paper or as a break boosts my motivation in surprising ways.
A year and a half ago, I was in Victoria with some friends, and they wanted to go get bubble tea. I had never had it before so I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I decided to give it a try anyway. Calling my first bubble tea experience life-changing is a bit of a stretch, but it’s my go-to way of rewarding myself now. Bubble tea also became a coping strategy that I can now turn to without the guilt of spending money unnecessarily, or guilt about the calories—both of which I’ve struggled with for some time now.
A friend of mine tried bubble tea once and said that the pearls were mushy and comparable to what he’d imagine eyeballs taste like—so maybe it’s a bit of an acquired taste. To me, though, treating myself to a bubble tea and walking down a few blocks to the closest location is calming and completely resets my mood for some reason.
I have been trying not to go anywhere or see anyone due to the lockdown, but my little walks to go grab a bubble tea—even though it was something I rarely did prior to COVID—have been one of the highlights of my year and something I plan to keep doing.
Sarah Rose // Features, Humour and Literature Editor
It’s no secret—Courier readers may already be familiar with this from some of my previous work here, but from the moment I found myself with a controller in my hands, I’ve loved video games.
Playing games with my friends both online and alone helped me stay connected to my creative spirit and the people I care about. This past year, my boyfriend and I solved the puzzle of death itself as Manny Calavera in the classic adventure of Grim Fandango. We watched the magical story of a father and son unfold in God of War, and hunted down every trophy in the adorable Astro Bot. But I also fell into a world filled with demons floating between the line of good and evil in Demon’s Souls and battled the mysterious beast plague in Bloodborne. Without realizing it, I found myself inspired to finish a collection of loosely connected poetry. Launching myself into this new small project, I put together a complete chapbook in about a week and shared it in a forum where a fellow fan donated $15. Using the money to buy Deep Rock Galactic, a close friend in Calgary and I now spend at least once a week drinking beer and making jokes soaked in drilling innuendo.
I’m grateful for the opportunities and life-long friendships my love of gaming has brought into my life over the years, but this last year has really helped me appreciate it in perhaps a new light. This pandemic has taken from a lot of people a sense of connection, that fundamental thing sitting at the heart of all stories and human experience.
As we shut off our screens in the coming year and cautiously venture back outside, I know I have those I’ve shared a grand adventure with waiting for me on the other side.
Whatever Catches My Fancy
Megan Amato // Opinions and Columns Editor
I am notorious for taking up a hobby and skill, researching its history, culture and variation from authors globally until I know the ins and outs of it and run out of energy to actually do said hobby or skill—or I move onto whatever catches my fancy next. Maybe I love the chase, scouring the internet and library to find the right bits of information.
This hyper-fixation of mine, while not great for actually finishing much, allows me to immerse myself into whatever I am doing—RIP to my husband, who disturbs me while I am doing whatever thing at the time—and go days or weeks without coming up for air. This love of fixating on something is pe￼￼￼￼
In 2020, I had big plans to take up many projects. Most of them went unfulfilled—coding, sewing, diary writing, wreath making, to name a few—as depression reigned for large swaths of the year. But the few things I did manage to stick with brought me bouts of, if not joy, contentment.
I spent months protecting my hydrangeas from the ivy menace, vigorously checking their stems for the sneaky vines. I played the Sims 3 for weeks at a time, buying multiple expansion packs and learned every cheat and secret. I spent days searching the internet for jobs that matched my friend’s preferences, ignoring my own work. I got absorbed by writer Twitter and TikTok. I learned as much as I could about the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, portal fantasy, and the history of herbariums. I read countless series after series and wrote a book in a month that I had been ignoring for a year.
This summer, I have big plans. I recently moved somewhere with many hills and walking paths, and I plan to map them all along with the birds I see along the way. Anxiety has kept me from driving for too many years, but I think it’s time to try. I want to take up kayaking and learn the local marine life. I hope to name every tree, plant and animal I see from memory and discuss whether the brush on the side of the road is native or not. I will doubtlessly start researching half of them and give up once the time comes to do—*cough* driving *cough*—but I look forward to being submerged in the meantime.
New Ways of Seeing
Alisha Samnani // Managing Editor, News Editor
Everything about the world we knew changed overnight. Many of us have spent the past year adjusting to entirely new ways of living and working. Some of us have had to cope with unprecedented amounts of sickness and loss. The future—while now hopeful for many—is still uncertain. I don’t know about you, but there have been moments where it’s hard to see past all the stress and anxiety of the past year.
One of my favourite things is storytelling—connecting with others. This connection has been difficult through the isolation of a pandemic, and with the Capilano Courier on hiatus over the summer, it’s bound to be even less likely. However, the pandemic has given me another way to connect: not only with others but with myself. I paint—or at least, I try.
Like writers, painters tell stories. These stories seemingly appear out of nowhere—each evoking emotion through the weaving of colours and words. My favourite spot to paint is outdoors, and during the summer I’ll have no excuse. In the morning, while most of the world is still, I often sit on my porch, my notebook and paints in hand.
I painstakingly add and remove colour from the paper, layer by layer, returning to nothing but my thoughts and the sweet summer air as my canvas dries. The paint pigment glides effortlessly through the water, taking my anxiety with it. As I swirl my paintbrush in the water, I close my eyes and listen to the sea of feathers ruffling in the soft summer breeze. The cloudier my water cup gets, the calmer I feel.
So much has been out of our control over the past year, but what we can control is this: Whether it’s writing, painting or living through a pandemic, we can take a moment to shift our vision to something that’ll spark a bit of joy—even if only until the paint stops swirling.
Claire Brnjac // Arts and Culture Editor
As the days get longer and hotter, my urge to get out of the house intensifies. It might be because of the insane heating in my room, which seems to permanently hover around 30°C. So, to beat the heat, I’ve started walking around my neighbourhood. I originally started this as a way to build up to jogging, an activity I’ve always admired others for doing, and something that might be helpful for my health. Jogging could help me run to a bakery for a doughnut, or stop by my friend’s house for coffee.
This is not as easy a feat as I first thought it was. Walking depends a lot on the weather which, in Vancouver, is generally not great. I tried my first walk in the rain and found myself battered from all sides until I was shivering and damp ten minutes later. I put on my three layers of polar fleece and sweatpants and tried again, much to my dissatisfaction.
I soon learned what the real draw behind walking was—getting to listen to music and be in my head for a while. There is very little a walk doesn’t help with in terms of figuring out your emotional state. If you have to cry, you cry. If you want to dance through a good song, find yourself on a deserted street and have a ball. If you want to run for no reason other than feeling your legs underneath you relishing in the fact that you can move, then there’s very little stopping you from sprinting down the street as fast as you can. Going on a walk, for me, is one of the only places I can exist without artifice.
My advice for surviving this summer, as more and more people get vaccinated and more stores open up, is to walk. Wander with no destination or walk to a bakery with purpose. You’ll feel good either way when you make it home. And who knows—maybe you’ll end up jogging too.
Socially Distant Movie Nights
Rain Marie // Community Relations Manager
I have never been particularly good at keeping up with online communication. I hardly remember to text or call, and sometimes when I receive a text I will mentally reply and forget to actually send it. Because of this, it’s safe to say that when the pandemic hit I had to relearn my entire communication style.
Keeping up with social activities is an important part of caring for one’s mental health, especially in a pandemic when all those activities need to be online. As we reach what is hopefully the final stretch of lockdown, I reflect back on the importance of one of my favourite online social activities—online movie nights.
At the end of October when Dr. Bonnie Henry extended lockdown guidelines to no longer allow outdoor gathering or a small social bubble—I, like the rest of the BC population, had to start getting creative with my social life. These past months one of my biggest lifesavers has been a semi-regular online movie night with my friend Gabrielle. Every couple of weeks we’ll pick a movie from our watchlist, pull it up on whatever streaming site or online movie database we can find it on, set up a discord video call, and hope that we hit play at the same time.
However simple of an act this may seem, it helped me feel like I’m not trapped alone in my day-to-day life, while still allowing the flexibility of spontaneous movie night rather than strictly planned times. Although I hope I’m able to enjoy my movie nights with Gabrielle in person soon when we are finally allowed to hang out in person again, a little part of me will miss the peaceful, easy nature of watching a movie together from the comfort of our own rooms.