Jump, go ahead and jump!

With no disrespect to Van Halen, I will recount for you my version of events oh so many years ago when I did go ahead and jump – out of an airplane extremely high above the ground.  To this day I am not sure what tempted me to proceed in this adventure where in all probability I could have been killed but let’s just say I was young and foolish and leave it at that.  The photo above was borrowed from the internet as they didn’t have cameras in my day.  Just kidding but we didn’t take shots (other than vodka) back then.

My co-conspirator in crime was my boss at the time and he was the one who suggested we go parachuting and I of course readily agreed.  The week-end came and we drove to the small airfield where like-minded individuals met us. The course began with a 3 to 5 hour training program completed in classroom.  Here, you learn everything you need to know to successfully complete a skydive, including parachute equipment, exit procedures, freefall body position (arch), canopy control and emergency protocol to jump from the plane and descend safely.

arch for jumpingThere is a little bit of listening and then some practicing where you hurl yourself spread-eagled off this tower-like structure and into a big bag of air (no, not your local politician) and then scramble up again and do it all over until we have the idea down pat.  One small problem with this being you are not falling from thousands of feet and there is no air bag upon landing, just good, old hard ground if you are lucky.

At an altitude of 4,000 feet, guided by the instructor, you exit the airplane with the static line automatically deploying your main parachute during a free fall of up to 5 seconds. You then steer your gliding canopy down into the landing field with the assistance of a ground radio instructor who transmits instructions to the radio attached to front of the harness.

Now, that particular week-end it was too windy for beginners to go up but more experienced jumpers went and we decided to stick around and watch them drifting peacefully down.  Unfortunately, this was not the case because of said wind and some of these experienced people ended up hanging from trees and being slammed into the cars in the parking lot by buffeting chutes.  Any sane individual would say okay not coming  back next week but no, we did go back.

I loved being up in a small plane watching the dwindling landscape out the open door waiting for my turn to throw myself out and the next thing I knew I was out and according to those watching kicking and scrambling to get back to the plane, not that wonderful arms and legs flung out style – more like riding an imaginary bike with legs flailing.  Once the chute opened by static line (you have to be prepared to pull the cord yourself if it doesn’t open within a certain time frame), it was spectacular, so peaceful.  As the ground approached however, I began to wonder why they weren’t contacting me by radio to assist with which line to pull left or right so I could land close to the big target on the airfield because I seemed to be drifting further afield.

I really had a sense of panic though when it looked like I was headed straight into power lines and then smack dab in the middle of the road and all of a sudden the ditch was there and it flashed through my mind I could actually die.  This happens in a matter of seconds, one thought forming in your mind being replaced before being finished by a much more pressing one and all of a sudden you hit the ground and roll like they taught you and you realize you are still in one piece except for the cut on your chin from the helmet strap when you left the plane and the sore knee from landing improperly before executing the ninja roll.  They sent out a truck to gather up the strays and discovered my radio wasn’t working so I couldn’t hear them trying to steer me in the right direction.  Then, they asked me if I wanted to go again.  Hell no!  Just get me to the nearest bar, thanks!  Not something I would do again but I am glad I did do it!  There certainly was an adrenaline rush involved, that’s for sure!  I can strike that off the bucket list!

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano BridgeOne of the attractions of the beautiful City of Vancouver, BC is the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver.

Vancouver is a beautiful city—whether you’re talking about the mountains, forests, and ocean or the glistening modern skyline of glass skyscrapers. There’s a reason so many films and TV shows are shot on location in and around Vancouver. If it’s scenery you want, this is the place.


Only 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver across the iconic Lions Gate Bridge to North Vancouver lies the  Capilano Suspension Bridge, originally built in 1889 hanging 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River offering breathtaking views to the canyon floor below.

This is a popular tourist site so plan accordingly to avoid long lines.

The park offers more than just the bridge. Its surrounding 27 acres celebrate nature, history and culture in unique and thrilling ways.
On Treetops Adventure venture from one magnificent old growth Douglas-fir to another on a series of seven elevated suspension bridges, reaching as high as 110 feet (33m), for a squirrel’s eye view of the forest. Guides, signage and interactive exhibits throughout the park help you in your understanding of rain forest ecosystems and their sustainability.

The view from the bridge is spectacular, and while there is minor bounce, it’s relatively easy to navigate. The bridge is reminiscence of the one in Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom “Hang on, lady. We going for a ride”. Equally, or even better, is the single-file walk on Cliffwalk, which follows a granite precipice along the river with a series of narrow cantilevered bridges, stairs and platforms offering views at every turn.
There are other trails on the other side of the suspension bridge.
  • There are 9 different types of trees in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! There are 2,014 Douglas fir, 157 Western Red Cedar, and 144 Western Hemlock.
  • The suspension bridge can hold 97 elephants. That’s 203 moose, or 4520 beavers.
       HISTORY

CapilanoIn 1888, a Scottish civil engineer and real estate developer named George Grant Mackay purchased 24 square kilometres of old growth forest on both sides of the Capilano River just north of the city and built a cabin at the southern edge of the canyon. The 65-year-old engineer hired two local Coast Salish natives to help with the construction of the first bridge in 1889 that was made from hemp and cedar planks.  Ten years after Mackay’s death in 1903, the bridge was replaced with one made of wire cable.

Rae Mitchell, bought the bridge in 1953. In 1956, he rebuilt the bridge completely, strengthening the cables and the anchors.  In 1983, Mitchell sold the Capilano Suspension Bridge to his daughter, Nancy Stibbard who is still its present owner.

Tickets are rather pricey, a little under $50.00 but if you have young ones under 6, they can get in free.  I think this is worthwhile if you are going to do some hiking while you are there and maybe pack a picnic.  You definitely want to arrive early to avoid all the shuttles and crowds.

Note:  There is another similar bridge not far away, called the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. In addition to being free and “just as nice as the Capilano bridge,” the Lynn Canyon bridge leads to some of the best walking trails in the area and is far less crowded.

Clipart Of A Leaf Inspirational Maple Leaf free graphics Flower Leaf Pinterest……………………………………………….the end!          Totems

Home Sweet Home

I will never receive the Good Housekeeping Award of the year or the week for that matter.  I am not one of those people whose home you visit and everything is in its place and so clean you could eat off the floors.  Our house is cleaned when we know we are going to have company and we run around like mad the day before (even though we’ve had all week) cleaning toilets, vacuuming, dusting, polishing, washing, etc. but only those rooms where I know company will be – our bedroom is still untidy and could probably use a good air freshener to boot.

I don’t mean the house is dirty or crawling with germs and maggots overflowing the trash can – though my husband did ask me last week if there were maggots in the trash but it was leftover Chinese rice that I threw in and some of it stuck to the sides of the can, so I had to take it outside and hose it clean which it more than likely needed anyway.  Cleaned by necessity.

You can rest assured if I were ever to win the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a cleaning lady or man – I’m not prejudiced – and a chef.  Namely because I don’t like to cook that much either – not after 40 years of doing it.  Of course my mom who had to make three meals a day and lunches for six kids and her husband had every right in my opinion to complain  about it…but never did!

If it wasn’t for my husband, I suspect the filter would never be changed in the furnace, the ducts would not be cleaned out and the light fixtures dispossessed of flies.  I just find that I am readily distracted from any chore I might be attempting by the phone ringing, checking e-mail, walking the cat, games on the i-pad – anything really that seems more interesting than the job at hand.

No, Martha Stewart need have no fear of being dethroned by yours truly!  She has drive and ambition and a whole crew to help her out, I am basically lazy by nature and a slob at heart.  Oh well!  Time to see if the Blue Jays are playing!

 

So many drinks, so little time!

In one of my previous lives or careers, jobs, vocations – whatever you want to call it – I was a bartender and I loved it, mainly because I got to socialize while at work, listen to great music, have a drink after shift and play euchre with the management for money at two o’clock in the morning – go home at 4 and get up at 10 am and start all over again.  Being younger, the long hours on one’s feet didn’t really bother me all that much.  Plus, I am not a morning person so getting up at 6 am or 7am was beyond my wheelhouse.

From the age of 21 to 45 I was in the hospitality business off and on with odd attempts at a “real job” as my mother used to say.  I banked my paycheque to pay the rent and bills and spent my tips; having a wise financial advisor at that time might have done wonders for my retirement, but alas I was not a saver.

I remember vividly how a well dressed older gentleman would come in to the bar and order green chartreuse and I thought it must be pretty good, otherwise why would you drink it, so after work one night I tried it and it was godawful (grotty) to put it mildly.  In those many years of working the bar I have tried many fancy concoctions and different types of liquors and liqueurs and below is a list of those I find offensive to the palate – just my personal dislikes – pretty much anything with licorice in it is at the top of the list as I can’t stand that taste but there are plenty of people out there who do like it.

Green and yellow chartreuse
Absinthe
Jagermeister
Ouzo
Pernod
Aquavit
Grappa
Scotch – no, I don’t care if it is single malt
Gin

 

Now some of my favourites:  Southern Comfort, Kahlua, Vodka, Frangelica, Dark rum, and Tequila in moderation.  Cheers!

 

I’d go the whole wild world

Recently one morning on Facebook they had one of those quizzes where they listed about 50 places and then asked how many you had been to and people were saying 11, 15 etc and I don’t pay much attention to these because they then tailor ads to you based on your answers and I feel they know enough about me as it is.  But it did get me wondering, so I added up the places mentioned and I had been to 30 of them which I didn’t think was that bad (I didn’t put this answer down however).  This of course led me to wonder how many places I haven’t been to and would like to go which eventually led to me trying to figure out how many countries and continents there were in the world.  I’m sure your day starts the same way, right?

You don’t have to google this as I will provide the necessary facts.

There are seven continents:  North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and Antartica though there is debate on whether Europe and Asia should be listed as one (Eurasia) as it is one large land mass.  There are also proponents of Oceania and New Zealand (Zelandia) but generally speaking just the seven.  Naturally, I was curious to see how many countries there were and unexpectedly opened a can of worms here!

For instance, my husband is from Scotland and they have been trying to become independent for centuries, the same applies to Ireland but they are not really countries but part of the U.K.  Taiwan, Tibet and Kosovo are similarly independent but tied to a sovereign country and not recognized by the UN – Greenland is not a country but a part of Denmark – who knew?  Geography is fascinating for me now but when I was in school I used to think what’s the point of studying this when I likely won’t ever leave Canada.  How wrong I was!

Below is a list of other places that lots of people consider countries but all belong to an actual sovereign member state.

  • Hong Kong (rightly or wrongly, China)
  • Macau (China)
  • Tibet (China)
  • Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales (the UK)
  • French Guiana (France)
  • Puerto Rica (US)
  • Lots of the Caribbean (BVI, Guadelope, Aruba, USVI, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Saint Martin and more)
  • Reunion Island (France)
  • French Polynesia (France)
  • American Samoa (US)
  • Canary Islands (Spain)
  • Madeira (Portugal)
  • Faroe Islands (part of Denmark)
  • Gibraltar (part of the UK)
  • Greenland (part of Denmark)
  • The Arctic (belongs partly to Norway, Denmark, Canada, the US and Russia)
  • The Falklands (part of the UK)
  • French Polynesia (part of France)
  • Guam (US)
  • Tahiti (French Polynesia, and therefore France. Same for Bora Bora!)

To keep things simple though, you can generally say there are about 200 countries (including territories) in the world depending upon your source of information.

According to the UN there are 195 but the chart below shows other governing bodies with different criteria.   To see full explanations please click on link below
Countries in the World

 

How Many Countries Are There in the World?

After pondering on this for awhile, I realized I haven’t really been anywhere in the larger scheme of things but I intend to keep on travelling as long as I’m able and discovering the beauty, culture and peoples of other places different from myself in order to gain a better understanding of them and me.  If you are lucky in life you never stop growing or being curious.  As much as I may dislike change ( I prefer being comfortable and safe), it is ultimately more rewarding to take risks and embrace change.  I think that now I would get far better grades in Geography than I did in school.  To those who love travel – Happy Trails!  Good luck on working your way through this list!

Truisms regarding Fluffy!

Sleeman at Christmas Rose Street     Today I have been contemplating the nature of cats.  I would like to point out some obvious truisms that you didn’t really think about when you went out and purchased or adopted one of these adorable creatures of the feline persuasion.

The first is…you may think what your cat is saying is meow but in truth they are saying “NOW”.  They don’t mean in a minute when they want your attention, they have no idea what patience is; for them, it is right here, right now and when you finally do bring them their saucer of milk or treat or whatever which took all of 1/20th of a second to get for them they have this look of “what took you so long” and proceed to stare at the milk like they have never seen anything like it, before partaking – each and every day!

When you lay down for a nap, which I do almost every day to rejuvenate myself and carry on for the rest of the day and you call them to come up and have a nap with you they will wait until about ten minutes before you have to get up to come up and cuddle on your shoulder and settle down into this sleeping little angel that you now have to quietly extract yourself from so you don’t wake them up when they could have been sleeping with you the whole time.  In some instances, they will get there first and you have to find an area where they are not stretched out to park yourself so as not to encroach on their territory.  Regardless of whether you have a double bed or a king bed they will take up 3/4’s of it and you will be lucky to get 1/4.

They like order just like a sergeant in the army likes discipline in their troops.  They have trained us very well to be of service to their each and every need.  Who else gets a daily massage every morning when they first get up.  My husband has a massage once a month to get the kinks out, our cat – every day and not just once a day either.   Sometimes once from each of us and then again from me in the afternoon.  Is it any wonder when sleeping they snore contentedly.

No matter what elaborate cat toy or furniture you buy for them, they will prefer the box it came out of.  Sometimes if I leave the kitchen cabinet door open, I will find the cat asleep on top of the linens and that cat bed you bought sits in the basement downstairs gathering dust.

Smokey's Gloria SwansonWhen you hear your cat gagging and rush over to pick her up to put her on the concrete or wooden floor she will hack her hairball or dinner on the carpet where it is not as easily cleaned up as if she planned it all along and then look at you with those big, innocent eyes as if she’s done nothing wrong.

And still you love them because when they want to they love you too!

The art of Nick Park and Peter Lord

Chicken runAardman Animations was co-founded in 1972 by David Sproxton and Peter Lord in Bristol, England and are famous worldwide for their Wallace and Gromit features.  Nick Park who joined them won Aardman Animations first Oscar with “Creature Comforts”. Until Chicken Run, the focus of Aardman Animations had been animated shorts and TV commercials. Three of Aardman’s animated shorts have won Academy Awards for “Best Animated Short.” This includes “Creature Comforts (above),” “The Wrong Trousers,” and “A Close Shave.”

In Chicken Run a total of 534 puppets were made with 16 Gingers (heroine) and 12 Rockys (hero). Each puppet costs around £3,000 to make.

Chicken Run took 3 1/2 years to complete and the research into the film included a visit to a chicken farm in Yorkshire.  In case you don’t remember Chicken Run which came out in 2000 it is loosely based on “The Great Escape” – you know the movie where prisoners of war in Germany are digging all these tunnels and Steve McQueen is flying around on a motorcycle.

Chicken Run is an animation film wherein the characters are painstakingly created out of clay and filmed in a stop motion sequence where they take a shot, move the arm or change the expression and then take another shot of film.  It is something that I would never have the patience for but I certainly admire the talent and the process involved.

In Chicken Run, audiences will notice that nearly every chicken wears some sort of scarf or necklace. While this method served well to help identify each chicken, it served a more important purpose of hiding the seams from where the heads of the chickens detach. Each chicken had up to 60 different beaks to properly recreate vowel and consonant sounds for realistic talking. Like the chickens, the humans had a series of detachable mouths to properly recreate speech patterns. Forty animators worked on the film to bring the chickens to life and the process is highly time consuming.  Consider that one second of film requires 24 frames.  Aardman had to shoot one frame at a time with the chickens being animated in each frame for seamless transition of movement….so, for just ten seconds of film, Aardman had to worry about 240 individual frames.  One minute of film is 1,440 frames long.  They also had to be diligent about lighting, synchronization, speed, camera control, shadows, etc.  One scene could take weeks to accomplish.

And that my friends is where the art comes in because as a member of the audience you are not even aware of all this work – you are caught up in the action, the characters and the story being told just like any Bruce Willis Die Hard, Transformer, Iron Man movies – ONLY WITH CHICKENS.

Trivia note:  Mrs. Tweedy, the ‘villainous’ of the piece was based on Alan Rickman’s villain in Die Hard apparently.

If you have never seen it, I highly recommend you stream it, rent it, buy it, borrow it, whatever you like and watch it.  If you love animated movies like I do you will thoroughly enjoy it though you might have a little problem with the accents but then that’s why you have subtitles!

 

 

The essence of Life and the oldest health and beauty secret in the world

Just as we need to be able to breathe to survive; we need water!  This elixir of good health is our body’s most important nutrient.  We could live for weeks without food but only four or five days without water.  Water is involved in every bodily process, carrying nutrients, flushing out waste, and keeping body temperature on an even keel.  Drinking the right amount of water is also essential for healthy-looking skin, as it prevents it from drying out.  And best of all, water doesn’t have a single calorie!

Whether it bubbles up from the earth, trickles down a mountainside, or gushes from a tap, water is preventative medicine, the major treatment for colds and sore throats, and an analgesic.  Internally and externally, hot and cold – even icy; water is healthy stuff.

Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon is renowned for his purported pursuit of the fountain of youth which many thought a magical water source supposedly capable of reversing the aging process and curing sickness.  Tales of sacred, restorative waters existed well before his birth however.

Relax in the calm blue Caribbean without ever leaving home.  The sea offers health and beauty benefits:  Saltwater causes the lymph glands to excrete toxins, cleansing the skin, and seaweed is a natural defoliant, smoothing away any roughness.

To simulate this in your bath, combine 1/4 cup each sea salt, dried seaweed (available in Asian markets), Epsom salts and baking soda, and pour into a clean dry container.  Makes enough for four baths.  Simply pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the tub as the water is running.  20 minutes is the ideal soaking time – any longer will dry your skin.

SOME FACTS ON WATER


  1. Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water.
  2. Somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water.
  3. Of all the water on the earth, humans can use only about three tenths of a percent of this water. Such usable water is found in groundwater aquifers, rivers, and freshwater lakes.
  4. The average person in the United States uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day. Flushing the toilet actually takes up the largest amount of this water.
  5. Water leads to increased energy levels. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is actually mild dehydration.
  6. Drinking adequate amounts of water can decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer. For a majority of sufferers, drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain.
  7. Most people around the world have access to clean drinking water but it is a major problem in poorer areas of the world. Water pollution and low quality water can lead to dangerous bacteria, disease and viruses such as E coli and Cryptosporidium.
  8. The word water usually refers to water in its liquid state. The solid state of water is known as ice while the gas state of water is known as steam or water vapor.
  9. Since the average faucet releases 2 gallons of water per minute, you can save up to four gallons of water every morning by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.
  10. In developing nations women and girls are primarily responsible for collecting water; on average, 25 percent of their day is spent on this task. Collectively, South African women and children walk a daily distance equivalent to 16 trips to the moon and back to fetch water.
  11. Just 33% of what the world spends on bottled water every year would pay to provide clean water for the 780 million without it.
  12. Want to help preserve and sustain drinking water – stop buying bottled water!  Yes, I know it is convenient – but filtered water from your tap is just as good and doesn’t contribute to the plastic garbage problem in the world.

    Water sports, water filtration plants, hydro-electric waterfalls, saltwater, fresh water, water to beer, bath water, drinking water, water bombs, ice rinks, steam rooms, pools, rain, glaciers, puddles, lakes and streams, irrigation, mud, etc. etc. …water is essential to human existence and nature.  Let’s respect and protect it!

    Personally, I am not particularly looking for the fountain of youth but rather the secret of turning water into wine!


Road Rage – not so much

I have come to realize while driving my car today that I just don’t have the energy for road rage anymore.  Now, once upon a time, I was up there with the Rock (Dwayne Johnson), Jason Statham and that English granny who whacked the hood of this guy’s car with her brolly because he honked at her for crossing the road too slowly and his airbag went off.

I was the one who refused to let you edge into the designated lane as clearly marked 1/2 mile back just because you didn’t feel you should have to wait with the rest of us poor schmucks when you whizzed on past us – yes, I’m talking to you BMW and Lexus drivers – your time is so much more important than the rest of us.  You are the same people that don’t bother to turn on your indicator light to signal a lane change on the freeway, you just do it and we are supposed to psychically know that was your intention.

However, today I didn’t get the least bit perturbed when a guy who was in the left hand advance green lane decided he was going to veer to the right and go straight through the lights for whatever reason I could not discern.  I merely sighed with relief that no one hit him and caused me to be delayed.  At one point in time, I would have at the very least given him the finger.  I’m not sure if this new calm will last or whether it’s because I’m not in a hurry anymore to get where I’m going so I drive in a much more relaxed state of being, not that I do yoga or anything while behind the wheel – I find I do have to pay attention to what is going on around me, and I have performed a few scary maneuvers in my past my own self… but not purposefully…no-body’s perfect!

Perhaps I am maturing finally as there was a time when people pulled bone-head moves on the road that I wished fervently that I had a machine gun installed on the front of my car so that I could blow the tires out and watch the twit try and control the car as it headed toward the guardrail – now we’ll see how well you drive, my friend!  Those were mere fantasies played out in my head, I don’t think I would have carried anything like that out but it is probably a good thing that we don’t carry guns in Canada.

For the present moment you are safe out there on the road doing the stupid crap you do because I am zenned out; unfortunately I’m not sure how long it will last.

1931 Cadillac Fleetwood