Last Day at the CNE

Yay, my last work shift at the Canadian National Exhibition! It’s been an interesting process of getting back in to a ‘working mode’ with a steady schedule of long days, responsible to an entity other than myself. It’s been fun pitching the passion that I have for skydiving, working as a ‘representative’ of Skydive Toronto, but I’m looking forward to falling forward in to my creative lifestyle, unfolding with each day, on my own terms, transforming new adventures in to potentials and possibilities.

Partner Yoga Workshop

It’s really quite lovely to spend some quality time with my husband. He works full-time during the week, and then on the weekends, he’s skydiving. At the moment, that doesn’t leave much quality one-on-one time. However, we just had a most incredible date this past week. So why not carry on with some more fun and play?! A special Partner Yoga workshop sponsored by Lululemon. Gotta love it!

Yoga On and Off the Mat


I was wanting a change from my regular bodyweight cardio workout (aka Callisthenics). Something different but intriguing, pushing my comfort zone but enjoyable. So I tried for a bit of variation and actually did a full yoga workout DVD (I have a challenging time trying to keep focused on a yoga DVD …. it usually takes me out of my body which is polar opposite to what I usually like to achieve with a yoga practise). Rodney Yee’s ‘Advanced Yoga‘. I was actually quite inspired, even though I had a great deal of difficulty with some of the arm balancing poses. However, I kept up the difficult poses, laughing through the falls, flat on my face and butt.

Learning to play through the trials and tribulations of daily life, both on and off the mat  ~ whilst not forgetting to breath, can be such a huge obstacle at times. But today I said: ‘Why not?!’

Note: This photo of slaDE and myself is not part of Rodney’s actual DVD, but rather shows how playing with ones balance can be a fun challenge, especially if it is beyond ones comfort zone or regular routine! 🙂

Autumn Falls Upon Us


Today is the first day of Fall / Autumn, a time for inner change and harvest. Think ~ colours-of-the-sunset harvest vegetables, abundant earthy goodness and sturdy flowers (sunflowers!!!). Where Summer is about spontaneity and letting loose, Autumn, for me, is a time to reflect and do some deep inner housekeeping. Routines start to take shape as I consider doing more yoga and maybe check out a women’s networking group (check and check btw). I start to look at my goals from the Spring and begin a new plan for Winter. Possibly even make a plan for a vacation somewhere hot. I love the vibrant colors of Autumn, the fresh foods at the market and also the cooler evenings and gorgeous sunsets. I also love the rain. This to me signifies that it’s time for cleansing, yet again. Autumn feels very masculine to me, therefore I look to my partner for support, snuggles and warmth. Stews and soups begin to make their way to our dining table where we become thankful and vibrantly aware of our abundance and health. Here I am eternally grateful for our Vitamix. The perfect appliance for making rich hearty healthy soups.

Hope you enjoy this recipe from the  Minimalist Baker


Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup
A sweet and spicy Vegan soup with sweet potato, coconut milk, and yellow curry powder. Plenty creamy with a slight crunch
and heartiness from spicy baked chickpeas
Serves: 4


Ingredients:

{Soup}
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
  • ½ tsp chipotle (or cayenne) powder
  • ¾ tsp sea salt + ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 cups coconut milk (either light coconut milk or plain coconut beverage)
  • chickpeas

{Spicy baked chickpeas}

  • 1 can chickpeas (2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp yellow curry powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • pinch chipotle (or cayenne) powder


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (for chickpeas).
  2. Then start the soup by sweating the onions in a large pot over medium heat in ½ Tbsp coconut (or olive/canola) oil. Cook
    for a few minutes and then add garlic and stir.
  3. Season with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper and stir. Add sweet potatoes, curry powder, chipotle (or cayenne) and stir.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add ¼ tsp more salt and pepper, coconut milk and cover.
  6. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes more.
  7. In the meantime, prep your chickpeas by tossing them in olive oil and spices and spreading evenly on a baking sheet. Bake
    for 25-30 minutes or until crispy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. Remove and set aside for serving.
  8. At the end of 25 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added about ¼ tsp more salt and a pinch more chipotle.
    Then puree using an immersion blender, food processor or blender (we use our Vitamix). Transfer back to the pot if needed and keep heat on low
    until ready to serve.
  9. Will keep in the fridge for several days and the freezer for a month or so.

Best Date Ever

It was date night: 1 month shy of our anniversary, but I wanted to make it an all-together different, fun and memorable rendezvous! I’ve been secretly planning this date with my husband for a month now. When I worked with my skydiving buddy Jill at the CNE, she spoke about her friend Peter, who happens to be the owner and Manager at the Jungle Cat World in Orono {just 30 minutes from our home base in Oshawa}. From the moment I heard about this unique privately-owned zoo, I was intrigued. And when I met Peter during one evening stint at the CNE, I was intent on exploring the possibility of a ‘Behind the Scenes‘ tour of the zoo. It sounded fascinating. AND the perfect rendezvous for our mas-iversary (monthly anniversary) date night — next month marks our 10 year anniversary since we first started dating! So in the penultimate of special dates, I surprised my husband with an unforgettable date to the Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park, an excursion that will forever be etched in our memories and hearts.

We engaged in a remarkably playful and fun tour with Head Zoo Keeper Jen Bird. She was fantastic and extremely knowledgable. The love for her job shone through in her enthusiasm and generosity. The baby Cougar (aka Puma / Mountain Lion) Sassy and endangered Amur Tiger at Jungle Cat World were the highlights of our visit. Additionally, we were blessed to also experience the Safari Zoo Camp education evening shared with 20 other grade school students. We were introduced to 10 wild animals of the park. Sassy and Nadine both made an appearance, which was thrilling yet again to see them playful and at home. The evening tour of the big cat feedings was extremely informative and enjoyable. The big cats were so much more active than from our daytime tour. Carl Tordiff was an entertaining young man who is beyond knowledgable and accommodating. Kudos to such an incredible facility far beyond any ‘zoo’ I have ever visited or experienced. An incredible experience that I recommend highly to any folks of all ages. Thank you to Peter Klose for his generosity in letting us visit with the baby cats :). Check them out at their Jungle Cat World website and on Tripadvisor.

 

A Duality of Sorts

I find myself holding back in my writing, in part by my desire to fill this blog with beautiful photos and whimsical articles of education and delight. Yet my inability to provide is slogging me down. And I find myself 2 months behind in my writing. What happened?  I was doing so well in keeping things up-to-date, tidy and flamboyant! I truly enjoy my photography and the beautiful art form that evolves in to an entirely different art form and perspective. But with this beauty comes a sense of dedication that at times leaves me feeling like I’m drowning in the backlog I create with my inability to play catchup daily. And once I get behind, it’s like a slow death with each passing day. I’m not certain to what standards I am feeling obligated? Because in its truest sense, this blog is for me. An intensely personal chronicle of my journey and our trek through the alleyways and eccentricities of our daily lives. But misdirected attention (sometimes labelled laziness in my mind) and obligation stand behind two different doors, and I find myself sporadically caught between the source of my creativity and lack of direction and guidance. In due course, I find myself torn by the daunting task of what I should be doing, how, when and / or why. My ideas are plenty! At times, purely whimsical and at others, clear and succinct. But within a heartbeat, the idea may be gone, long before my fingers reach the keyboard, blazing fiery prose in the form of a blog posting accompanied by splendid visual gymnastics (digital media in its finest form). Alas, I get caught in the stalwart of these visions, documenting prolifically and with ecstatic passion where I can. Yet I remain unreliable on a daily and weekly agenda lately. Lost in the joys of summer warmth, play and sunshine. But now that a new season bears down upon us, I feel a sense of desire in my loins, a return to my chosen ideal of consistent blogging. Perhaps with a commitment of sorts, I will be able to return to a schedule of faithful and loyal purpose, extending myself beyond the realms of my social networking ‘prowess’.  Something needs to shift. And what better time than in the midst of an autumn equinox. A season of change filled with the glowing embers of a waning summer. Goodbye glorious golden season. It’s time to hunker down and prepare for a manifestation of newness and revelry. Bring on the light … shine free and brilliant.

A Raft and Night Jump Extraordinaire

A superb day in the history of our jumps together. What a way to kick off the weekend! slaDE and I made our way to Parachute School of Toronto for an evening visit with our friend Minna. PST happened to be holding night jumps this evening. Although slaDE was extremely excited at the prospect of landing his new tiny 99 Velo in the dark of night, I was less than intrigued at the prospect of skydiving in darkness at this unfamiliar drop zone. My previous 2 night jumps were far from ordinary and the last night jump experience (both nerve-wracking and stressfully chaotic) had made me wary with trepidation. About 14 years ago on a no-moon night at the old Skydive Chicago DZ, I became confused by the spontaneous unplanned for night jump that had me landing 2 miles off the dz between a forest and a quarry (read zero glow-sticks or strobe-lights to mark my presence or aid my limited vision at a then unfamiliar airport). In all of my jumping career, I had never been so grateful to have my two feet safely on the ground. With the area and dark of night being unlit and ominous, I was extremely lucky to walk away unscathed. I literally kissed the freshly ploughed field (the size of a postage stamp) upon landing. Two hours later, I had found my way back to airport.

Fast-forward to the present moment, and imagine the thoughts going through my head when slaDE mentioned that he wanted to jump together on this beautifully clear, well-lit summer’s night. slaDE was sweetly intent on making this night skydive together, so with fear in my heart, I approached the jump a tad stressed but ready to conquer another challenge. Immediate thoughts of an off-dz landing at an unfamiliar dz were at the forefront of my imagination, but I wanted to make that leap into the unknown. Sometimes, it’s good to RELLY push ones fear envelope (calculated risks and all).

I admit, I stressed out a bit prior, feeling rushed with getting the glo-sticks ready for our jump on Load 2 out of the Skyvan (yes, I said Skyvan, from 13,000 feet :)). My night vision wasn’t nearly as adjusted as I had hoped come exit time from altitude, but in the end, there was no difficulty with seeing either my canopy or other parachute traffic mid-air. In fact, the scene was so surreal and sparkling clear, I savoured the shared experience, so beautiful and gloriously momentous  (out of a Skyvan no less!). It’s hard to explain the sensation of freefalling with the twinkling stars as the backdrop to a seemingly innocent abyss. The bubble-like cocoon I found myself in was a completely different world and experience, skydiving into the edge of darkness, slipping into a a sea of quiet sparkling solitude. Dazzling and memorable beyond words! But here are a few thoughts that might describe the experience:

A raft dive, with Kat in front, me secured behind her in a tight space meant for 1 (not 2 with rigs :)). During the skydive, Mark reached for Kat’s gripper instead of holding on to my main lateral lift web. I was cautiously paranoid about all 3 of my handles. As I was so secure in the raft, my hackie sac was wedged. Because of this, I was overtly cautious about premature deployment. What an amazing fun jump. Rolling out of the raft was like a slow-motion movie, moving through molasses, wedged so tightly that the only way of geting out was to rock and roll our way out. In tumbling to left, the Hackey Sack attached to my pilot chute would have less a chance of ‘catching’ on something.

Here’s the amazing raft skydiving video from that day!! Raft Jump over PST

Wedded Bliss

I love long weekend weddings especially when it involves good friends who happen to be skydiving playfellows! Brian and Carissa Bell had an incredibly beautiful day with the impending bad weather holding off until after the ceremony (how blessed was that??!). The wedding itself was beautiful and memorable. The bride was shining in her happiness, almost to the point of levitation. 🙂 Carissa’s dress was heavenly perfection (omg, the train was to die for). Both the bride’s Father and Mother were wonderfully emotional. Their first daughter (who happens to be a twin) married to a fellow skydiving beloved family friend. They couldn’t ask for a better union, truly! In the end, it was so lovely to see many of our dear skydiving friends all under one roof. A wonderful way to ring in a long labour day weekend.

One of my favourite parts of this afternoon’s wedding was the wedding cake from Muscoreil’s in Tonawanda. A DIVINE raspberry swirl concoction with white chocolate almond frosting that left me salivating for more. I rarely eat beyond a few forkfuls of a wedding cake, usually sharing my slice with my accommodating husband. Not this time! Decadence sublime. I was in sugar heaven!