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:
So, the year is half over. I know that every year I, like most people, marvel at how fast the year is going by, this year it’s way worse than previous years. Like, the year is half over and I haven’t really done anything… and I haven’t even planned stuff.
Anyhoo, I thought that maybe I’d do a check in on how my goals for 2019 are going since the year is half freaking over, but honestly doing this just made me feel like I really have done nothing with the first half of the year! Correction: this has motivated me to get going on my goals!
Anyhoo again, of my 19 goals, I’ve completed a grand total of 1. So yeah, I’m a wee bit behind. But the one that I did complete was monumental:
I DEADLIFTED 100 KG!
The goal was actually just to deadlift 90 kg, and I did for 2 reps of a 90 kg trap bar deadlift on Jan 13, and then again for 2 reps on Jan 20, and then I did a single rep of 100 kg. For those of you who prefer to think of weight in pounds, that’s 220.5 lbs.
I came close to one of my other weightlifting goals: I back squatted 85 kg on Jan 24, just 5 kg shy of my goal of 90 kg (i.e., 198 lbs).
I have made some progress on a few other goals. For the goal of making 19 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before, I’ve made 5:
So I’m 26% done that goal – behind schedule, but I can definitely catch up.
For the goal of read 20 books, I’ve read 7 (5 of which I’ve already blogged about), and I’m in the process of reading 5 other books right now. So I feel like I’m on my way with this goal, although I wonder if I should focus my reading to get some of these books done, rather than sporadically reading from all 5 of them, just to make myself feel like I’m accomplishing something! I should also try to pick a few shorter books – most of the books I’m currently reading are quite long, which doesn’t help in the feeling-like-I’ve-accomplished-something department.
A number of my things on my list are home improvement-y/organization-y, so I probably should just make a plan to get some of those done, as some are the type of thing I can get done in a weekend here or there.
I haven’t sewn anything and I have a goal to sew 5 things, so I really should decide what I want to sew and get cracking on it. I have a goal of sleeping an average of 7 hours per night and though my Fitbit tracks my sleep for me, I can figure out how to find out what my average since Jan 1 has been. Looking at the graphs by month, I can see that I haven’t hit the 7 hour mark for any single month, so I know I’m not meeting the goal, but I guess I’ll have to download the data to calculate the yearly average myself. I have a goal to write in my journal once a week and I have written 23 entries, so I’m 44% done that goal. And I have a goal to have people over for dinner 5 times, and I’ve only hosted one dinner, so I should do some planning for that (anyone interested in coming over for dinner? Hit me up!)
As for my blogging goal, which was a *very* modest 78 blog postings, as soon as I hit “publish” on this one, I’ll have published 23 for the year (or 29.5%). Perhaps another thing I can spend a bit of time on!
Five years ago today, I got the keys to my condo. And since five years was the length of my mortgage term, it meant I recently had to renegotiate my mortgage. Last year at this time, I was concerned because mortgage interest rates were higher than what I’ve been paying and I figured I’d end up with a higher rate when I renegotiated this year. As it turns out, mortgage interest rates dropped and I managed to get myself the same interest I’ve been paying for the past five years, which makes me happy because (a) it’s a low interest rate and (b) I have a spreadsheet where I track my mortgage payments, including “prepayments” (i.e., lump sums I pay in order to pay off my mortgage quicker), to calculate how much I’ve saved in interest rates by doing so1 and the spreadsheet doesn’t have an easy way to change the interest rate mid-way through the mortgage, so I’d have had to have figure out some spreadsheet kung fu to have made the spreadsheet calculations continue to work and now I don’t have to. I probably should be happier about (a), but honestly (b) makes me quite delighted.
Also, for the record, I have officially paid off 71% of my original principal (up from 53% last year). Which means I own 78% of my condo – based on the price I paid when I bought it. If I use the most recent assessed value, I own 88% of my condo. My new principal is less than 1/3 of my original principle. Math is fun!
If I make no more lump sums, I will be done with my mortgage in July 2024, making it 10 years to pay off the mortgage (rather than the 25 years that was my original amortization). The earliest I could pay it off without any penalty (i.e., if I paid the maximum allowable lump sums per year as early as possible in each mortgage year), I could be done by Jan 11, 2021 (i.e., 1.5 years from now – and on my birthday, no less!). Given the low interest rate, that doesn’t make the best financial sense (i.e., I could make more by investing any extra money I have than the interest rate I’m currently paying on the mortgage). But it’s still fun to do the math!
Mortgage image was posted on Flickr with a Creative Commons license requiring a link to Got Credit.
Coin image was posted on Flickr with a Creative Commons license
And also some scenarios to compare having bought the condo compared to if I’d continued to rent instead. [↩]
OK, so it’s not technically summer until Friday, but you’d never know it from the weather we’ve been having. It’s sunny and warm and the sun is up until nearly 9:30 pm.
Things I’m excited about for the summer, in no particular order:
The New West Grand Prix – watching professional cyclists ride around and around and around and around my home is actually a lot more exciting than one might expect. Plus my gym will have beer and snacks
playing tennis – Scott and I bought some tennis rackets that were on super duper sale at a sports store that was closing down, right before I sprained my MCL. And while the MCL healing has been going slower than I would like, it’s definitely getting better. So much so that I’ve been able to play hockey with a knee brace – so I think I’ll give tennis with a knee brace a try too!
the New West Farmers market – while the Farmers Market in New West runs all year, the winter market is uptown on Saturdays and somehow I never manage to get all the way uptown! But the summer market is at City Hall, which is just a short walk (up a very steep hill) from me on Thursday afternoons/evenings. I haven’t gotten out there for the first few weeks, but I’m planning to go soon.
canning/jamming more stuff – my friend Patricia has some pear trees near here that have those most amazing tasting pears EVER. I can’t wait until they are ready because I’m going to pick some and can them!
tackling stuff from my 2019 goals list– I am VERY behind on my goals for this year (I blame teaching too much in the January semester), but now that that is behind me (along with all my work travel for May), I can actually do some of that stuff
hiking – every summer I say I’m going to do more hiking. Hope springs eternal!
I also have a bunch of vacay that I need to book, but I don’t really want to go away when it’s so nice out and there’s so many fun things going on. Perhaps I’ll take some days off to do stuff around here (especially if a certain friend of mine comes to visit and wants to jump out of a plane with me, as we may or may not have previously discussed).
And maybe I’ll look at the fall for a trip somewhere…
Another Beer Company opened up in New West this week. Like, that’s the name of the company. You see, we had one beer company in New West before this – the amazing Steel & Oak – and now we have another beer company.
This company has been in the works for quite some time, as beer companies have to do, what with all the finding of a workable location, doing renos, getting permits and so forth. Not too long ago, I joined the ABC Original Patrons, where you give them $250 and you get a $250 gift card, a hoodie, invites to exclusive patron parties, and glory.
Of course, the soft opening for patrons happened when I was out of town, so I went in today to check out the place and pick up my swag. It’s quite a small brewery – see the little black machine in the picture below:
That’s the device they use to hand can their beers. Seriously, they can their beer BY HAND. Right now you can only get tasters at the brewery, as they are waiting for their lounge license to come through, and then you’ll be able to go there and have a pint. But not a growler fill, as apparently they don’t make enough beer to do growlers.
Another cool thing about this brewery is how you get there. It’s located in the Braid industrial area of New West, which is where there is industrial space for such things as breweries. It’s a bit tricky to access and if you don’t want to drive there, up until recently you’d have to risk your life running across a very busy road where people drive very fast in order to get to that area.
But now Translink has opened up what was formerly a fire exit at the Sapperton Skytrain Station to be a regular exit, so you can take stairs down from the the Skytrain platform to the Braid industrial area. And even if you haven’t ridden the Skytrain and are just walking there, you can tap into the station and then tap out of the station at the bottom of the stairs and you won’t get charged.
When I went there today, this sign was on the door at the bottom of the stairway:
But I just pushed the door open and it was totally fine. And today would have been my dad’s 74th birthday, so I am yet again honouring his memory by ignoring a sign and going through a door that says “do not go through this door.” Wish my dad was here for me to tell him this story.
Anyhoo, I made it to the brewery, safe and sound, picked up my swag, enjoyed a couple of tasters (my favourite was the Belgian saison), ran into a couple of people that I know (because New West), and all-in-all, it was a lovely Sunday afternoon.
So nearly half the year is gone. WTF? I really feel like it was January about 5 minutes ago and now it’s June! And, as I tend to do when I haven’t blogged in a while, I’m going for a bulleted list!
May was cray-cray. In addition to my week in Prince George for work, I was away another week in May – first at the Canadian Evaluation Society conference in Halifax and then I stopped in Ottawa for a few days to visit Sarah and Dave.
The highlight of the conference for me was that the team that I coached for the student case competition won! They worked really hard and produced a kick ass evaluation proposal presentation – I was beaming with pride for the whole conference!
It’s a funny thing to be a coach of a winning team. They did all the work and I kept getting congratulated! Not only at the conference, but I got congratulated by someone on the plane on my flight from Halifax to Ottawa and again by someone at the baggage carousel in the Ottawa airport.
I decided to do a stopover in Ottawa since I was flying all the way across the country, I figured I should make it worth my while. I hadn’t seen Sarah and Dave in eleventy billion years… or possibly two years which is (a) much longer than I usually go without seeing them and (b) far too long. I’m glad I was able to spend a few days just hanging out, catching up, and chilling with them. I may have also gotten them and their kids addicted to Pokemon Go. And they introduced me to Pokemon battles with trading cards (which is so much more challenging than PoGo) and to the TV show, so now I feel much more well versed in Pokemon.
Speaking of their kids, omg, their kids are adorable. And sweet. And very funny! Their youngest, Susannah, when asked if she preferred to calling me Aunt Beth or Dr. Snow, said she preferred Aunt Beth because “what is she, a doctor for cold people?” At first we thought she meant a doctor just for people who had a cold… and then we clued in that she was being much more clever!
Since I’ve been back, I’ve had a flurry of work to do – it took me a good week to clear through the back log of emails, but I ended Friday by checking off a lot more things from my to do list than I thought I would, so that made me a happy camper.
Making me less of a happy camper is that I’m *still* rehabbing my knee. I was expecting it to be a couple of weeks to heal and it’s been nearly two months! I’ve had it worked on by various health care professionals and my trainer at the gym gave me a knee-friendly training program (basically stuff to work on strength and stability in my leg, plus some stuff to make my biceps look awesome. Not that that will help my knee, but it gave me something where I could push myself without risking my knee and who doesn’t want to have awesome biceps, amirite?). The chiro tested my knee out today and I could see that it was actually improved – more stable and also I don’t have discomfort on the part of the MCL below the knee like I used to -only a bit of discomfort on the part of the MCL that is above the knee. So that made me feel better because I was thinking that the healing had plateaued, but now I think it’s just that it’s been getting better so gradually that it’s hard to tell from day-to-day.
My knee has been better enough to play hockey, as long as I wear a knee brace. I played two weeks ago (and scored a goal, I might add!), then was away for a week, and then played again this past week. So that makes me happy. And as an added surprise, someone who I played in the Longest Game with just joined my summer team, so that’s fun!
So pretty much catches you up with what’s new with me. And now that I’m back from my various travels, I guess I should figure out what I’m doing with my summer!