While searching for Creative Commons licensed images to use for various things (like lecture notes, conference presentations, or blog postings), I occasionally come across an image that has nothing to do with what I was actually searching, but which strikes my fancy. This is one such image:
In part this was because Dr. Dan told me that the CN Tower Edgewalk was way scarier than skydiving because when you are on the CN Tower, your brain can perceive the distance and it’s thinking “if I fall off of here, I’m going to splatter”. But when you are at 10,000 ft, you are so high up, your brain just cannot process that kind of distance, so you don’t feel that fear. I took those words to heart and decided that skydiving was something that I really wanted to try. And I’m really, really glad I did!
Since Dr. Dan is in town, we decided that yesterday would be a good day to jump out of a plane. Two of his students – Nic and Marshall – were also up for the adventure. We didn’t book the excursion in advance because the not insubstantial fee is nonrefundable and whether or not you can skydive at a given date and time is very weather dependent. If you book in advance and then the weather is not conducive to jumping, you have to reschedule for another day and since Dan is only in town for the week that didn’t really work for us.
So we called yesterday morning to see if the weather would allow us to jump and they said things weren’t looking great but we should call back at about 1:30 pm to see if the situation had improved. We did and they said the weather still wasn’t right, but to call back at 4 pm to check again. When we called back at 4 pm, I think we were prepared for them to say “today is just not a good day to jump “and we would try again the next day2, but much to our surprise they said “Yeah, it looks good now. How soon can you get here?” We were at my place New West and we had to get to Abbotsford, which is where the skydiving placs is, and we had to pick up Marhsall, who was in Maple Ridge, on the way. And since my wee Smart Car can’t fit four brave, soon-to-be skydivers, we had to grab a Modo car share for the trip. So we jumped into action, booking the car, running around trying to find the car after I misinterpreted the description of where the car was, and then off we went!
We arrived a bit later than we’d hoped and skydiving people were waiting for us, so it was a whirlwind of activity: signing the waiver, getting on our jumpsuits, people were strapping us into our harnesses as an instructor explained the procedure of what we need to do. We all got a chance to demonstrate that we listened to the procedure we needed to follow: cross your hands across your chest, and cross your feet when you jump out of the plane, then when your instructor (who you are attached to during the jump) taps your shoulder, you raise your arms up. That’s really all you need to do, because in a tandem jump, the instructor does all the actual work. Then we each met our respective instructors to whom we were going to be attached to – mine was a friendly guy named Jess – and they did the double check to make sure all the straps and hooks were strapped and hooked so that we would not plummet to our deaths. After that we walked toward the plane feeling like something out of Top Gun. Well, I would have felt more Top Gun if they hadn’t given me a pink jumpsuit (*barf*). Dr. Dan got the cool army green one, so he looked the most Top Gun-ish, imho.
And then it was into the plane and we took off – it all happened so fast I barely had time to think, let alone be scared. I set my Fitbit to record my heart rate for the trip, because at all times I’m a nerd and I was dying to see how my heart would react to all of this.
The plane climbed and climbed and I honestly could not wipe the smile off my face. I was so happy to be doing this and when I realized that I had such a big smile on my face, I was even more happy that I was genuinely happy and not scared!
I looked out the window as the beautiful scenery – the lush green farmland and river below us, the mountains off in the distance, a few pretty clouds, and amazing sunshine – and all I felt was excitement. At one point Jess said “We are halfway up” and I felt my stomach leap a little bit as a thought “omg, we are going twice this high?”, but as quickly as I thought that, it was replaced with “omg, it’s so beautiful”.
My heart took another leap when the plane levelled off because I knew that meant it was go time. Marshall was up first and I was after him. Both our instructors, who has tightened our harasses and attached us to themselves, got up to open up the door on the side of the plane and in an instant, Marshall and his instructor vanished out the door. Jess moved us to the door and, being attached to him and all, before I knew it, I was standing at the edge of the plane looking at the 10,000 ft to the ground. I think I said something like “oh my god, this is really happening” and then he jumped. I remembered to cross my hands over my chest but honestly do not know if I crossed my feet like instructed.
I feel one second of sheer terror and screamed, and then instantly I felt completely at peace. My brain was just like “we are totally fine. We are totally safe.” We were head down, free falling towards the earth3, but because you are so far up, you can’t actually tell that you are moving – the ground doesn’t look like it’s getting any closer. So it actually just feels like you are sitting still in the sky but with a great wind coming up at you. It was exhilarating. According to the skydiving log they gave me afterwards, we were in free fall for 40 seconds, but it felt like 10 seconds – just like your brain can’t make sense of the height you are at, I don’t think it can comprehend time properly while trying to process this completely surreal experience.
My instructor tapped me on the shoulder, and I put my arms up like we’d been told me – we were now free falling in the belly down position and then it felt like we were being pulled back up into the sky. I knew that this meant he’d pulled the parachute and we’d slowed down a lot – and now we were heads up and it honestly felt like I was just sitting on a swing and floating in the sky. It was an unbelievable feeling.
And only then did I get a chance to look around and take in the incredible sights. We spun around and got to see the world from a vantage point like no other. You know how when you look out the window of a plane and it’s so cool to see the world from up so high? Imagine that you aren’t looking at that through a tiny window while sitting in a uncomfortable plane seat – but you are getting a 360 view of that while freely floating in the sky. The fields were so green. The river was kind of brown, but I marvelled at the fact that if I could follow that river, I’d end up back at my home in New West. The mountains were amazing off in the distance, and there were a few fluffy clouds in the same sky as I now sat.
As I looked around, I saw two other parachutes off in the distance, but both below me and I remember being a bit confused because I was sure that I was the second person to jump, so how could there be two people below me? But my brain wasn’t able to process it, so I just continued to look around and enjoy the surreal experience. As it turned out, Dr. Dan’s instructor seemed to have be a bit speedier than the other instructors in getting to the ground, so he actually was below me despite having jumped after I did.
We floated around for a bit, going here and there over the land, and I was chattering about the experience the whole time. I am an external processor, so when I thought about it later, I realized that I was talking as a way of comprehending what was happening. It was a very interesting experience to see my brain trying to understand what was going on – the experience is so unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.
And all too soon, the jump was over. We came to a gentle landing on the grass and I reunited with my friends to excitedly talk about our jumps. We had all chosen to get the video package where the instructor wears a video camera on their wrist – for me, Nic, and Marshall, it was our first times and we needed to have it documented. We had to wait for a bit while they edited our videos, which was OK because I think we also needed a bit of time to come down from the adrenaline rush.
While we were waiting, I decided to check out my heart rate from the jump. This is what my heart rate was from the time we got on the plane until the time I landed:
I was delighted to see that my heart rate mirrored my subjective experience – you can my heart rate actually lowering as we sat on the plane, a small jump which I think was when the plane levelled off and and I realized it was go time, a spike which I’m sure was the moment we stood up and then jumped, resulting in my one second of terror, and then an immediate drop as my brain said “actually, this isn’t scary. It’s amazing!)
As we waited for our videos, Jess came over and said “I’ve got good news and bad news. When we jumped, the camera malfunctioned – the screen just went blank – so while we were in free fall, I had to reboot it. I only got the last few seconds of free fall and then the rest of the time. So we are going to refund your money, but we will give you the footage we did get.” My reply: “If anything was going to go wrong during the jump, I’m glad it was just the camera.”
As it turned out, I think the video is just fine. I don’t mind that it missed the jumping part – that is the part where I was freaking out and screaming anyway! And I got it for free, which makes this cheap, cheap woman happy.
I can’t upload the video to YouTube because it’s set to music (which YouTube would flag as a copyright violation). And the file is too big for me to upload directly to my blog4. So if you want to see it, you’ll just have to ask me to show it to you the next time I see you!
In conclusion, skydiving was amazing and I want to do it again. I want to skydiving over all sorts of different scenery. Imagine skydiving over the desert! Or a lush tropical landscape! Or the Arctic! Anyone up for skydiving on every continent with me?
In fairness, the Patullo Bridge does seem like it’s about to collapse at any moment, so that fear is somewhat justified. [↩]
Although the price is more expensive on weekends and I’m a cheap, cheap woman. [↩]
I looked it up and in the head down position, terminal velocity is about 200 mph! and when you switch to belly down, it’s about 120 mph! [↩]
And this weekend I decided that I should make something to use up the some of the fresh herbs that are growing my balcony because they are growing like crazy:
So I posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, asking my tweeps, FB friends and, (um, what’s the demonym for people on Instagram?) for recipe suggestions. And they did not disappoint!
My friend Karen suggested this recipe: Smashed potatoes with herb vinaigrette. Smashed potatoes are one of my go-to recipes, but I usually put apple cider vinegar with salt and pepper on them. So I was intrigued by this recipe, where you make a vinaigrette with a tonne of fresh, along with olive oil, lemon juice, chili peppers, and Dijon mustard.
Here’s the smashed potatoes, prior to the vinaigrette (basically, boil little potatoes until you can stick a fork in them, put them on a cookie sheet, smash, drizzle with oil, and bake):
And I found this recipe by the power of Googling: Fresh Herbs With Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas Recipe. Though this recipe called for a slightly different mix of herbs than the other recipe, I’m lazy, so I just chopped up a big bowl of thyme, parsley, mint, and oregano1, mix it with olive oil and lemon juice, and then split it in half and used it with both recipes (with the addition of the Dijon and chili peppers for the potatoes).
And those two dishes comprised my dinner tonight. Super delicious.
Also, while uploading these photos, I discovered a photo of avocado toast that I made on June 25. I’d never made avocado toast before, so that totally counts as a new thing!
So that brings me to a total of 10 new things that I’ve made this year (out of a goal of 19 new things), and since it’s July, that’s about right on track. I’ve also tentatively invited a couple of people over for dinners (for my goal of having people over for dinner 5 times – pending me sorting out my calendar to figure out when such dinners could occur), so that will be an opportunity to make new things too.
Also, I’m going to put the other suggestions I got from people about things I can make with my herbs here, because right now they are scattered between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram replies and I’m totally going to forget what they all are and they’ll get lost down the memory hole that is social media if I don’t post them here.
From my friend, Linda:
a zucchini, lemon and herb pasta to use up random herbs – saute some zucchini with thinly sliced garlic (use olive oil, salt and peper), add in cooked pasta (penne/rotini etc, not long noodles), zest of one lemon, a bunch of random chopped herbs and some parmesan cheese. Dill, chives, parsley and mint would be good choices from your garden. Add lemon juice plus salt and pepper to taste.
freeze your rosemary whole and use it to roast stuff in the future.
Make herb butter and freeze it for future use – dill butter is delicious on fish, rosemary and chive would be yummy on potatoes, etc. [This sounds amazing and I’m totally going to do this]
salad with parsley and mint (and chickpeas, cucumber, onion, maybe some chives, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and zatar).
Make Greek salad with your oregano and thyme. [we do this all the time because I’m slightly obsessed with Greek salads]
heat up some sage until it is crispy and top what ever you want, it’s yummy!
Make taboouli with your parsley and mint (I usually do it with couscous – much quicker and easier than using bulgar).
From my high school drama teacher (because Facebook):
Make herb packets, dry them, grind some bigger leaves and put in small cheesecloth packets. Drop in soups, stews etc and when ready scoop out packets and toss.
From my friend Paul:
Makes for great flavour with new potatoes bbqed with butter in tin foil packets. Make sure to boil or steam them first. Cuts down cooking time on the bbq. Me being the neanderthal man that I am I went straight for the fire and had to wait a long time.
From my friend Stephanie:
Mix chives, oregano, thyme, parsley with feta or other cheese and use to stuff mini-peppers (cut in half lengthwise). Bake at 375 for 25 minutes until peppers are roasted and cheese melted. This is summer potluck go-to recipe for 2019.
From my friend Cath:
I’ve been making tea from my mint, with a little thyme and rosemary thrown in. Excellent hot or cold
From my friend Nancy:
I literally just cut mine , put in baggies & freeze them.
So I’ll think I’ll be just fine for using up those herbs!
My savory had weird white spots on it, so I didn’t use it. [↩]
So I finally got some new frogs and, being a delinquent frog mom, I haven’t even blogged about it! I just had to look back through my credit card statement to find out when I bought them – turns out it was April 30!
I bought five frogs – though sadly one of them was found floating in the tank a couple of days ago. Here’s a photo of the fraggle of frogs from July 5, before the tragedy:
We have struggled to come up with names for them, but have come up with 3 names so far:
We still need a fourth name – and we are taking suggestions, so let me know if you have a good frog name idea.
In addition to frogs, we also got some snails because snails eat algae and the frog tank often fills up with algae. And they do a really good job of it. Here you can see a snail trail where the snail travelled along the top of the tank, eating up all the algae:
And here’s another cool photo – I think this snail is growing a new shell (the wider stripes) to replace its older shell (the smaller stripes):
For some reason, the snail names came easier than frog names: