I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Unbearably blue skies

Me with my new Phantom helmet
Yesterday was the first time I got to try out my new helmet, which I bought at Skydive Elsinore when the weather was bad. The gear shop at the Drop Zone knows that when we can't skydive, we like to spend money on skydiving equipment. The only real problem I have with the new helmet is that I must take off my glasses when I put the helmet on, and then replace and reposition them correctly afterwards. But this is a small thing, meaning that I end up putting it on and getting everything all ready earlier than I would otherwise need to. Most people put their helmets on for takeoff and then remove them until just before exit. Mine is on the whole time, with the visor up until the airplane door is open.

I made four skydives yesterday with my friends at Snohomish. The owner of the Drop Zone, Tyson, jumped with us on two of the skydives, and Kevin, the musician, joined us for three. Linny, Christy, and I made all four, with Donovan, another friend, joining us for three. Today, another beautiful day, will find Linny and Christy making up to seven more! I will not be traveling down to Snohomish myself, having gotten my knees in the breeze and satisfied my desire to play in the air with my friends.

Today I will work in the garden, as those of us who need topsoil will be using a borrowed pickup truck to get several yards of soil. DeWilde's Nursery, a family-owned establishment, is not far away and sells two grades of topsoil. Last year we hauled in four yards of something called "five way" that has five different components that help to loosen and enrich the heavy clay soil that occurs naturally here. How much is a yard? I found this on line:
When people refer to a yard of some landscaping material, they most often mean a cubic yard: a cube three feet high, three feet wide, and three feet deep.  The retailer doesn't usually measure it exactly, but the scoop on the loader is approximately half a yard, and they give you two scoops for a yard. 
We will get at least three yards, each one weighing somewhere around 2,000 pounds, so this will qualify as plenty of exercise for the day. I want one yard all to myself but hopefully will have help shoveling it in. Although I've already planted some sugar snap peas, they are near the fence so they can climb and shouldn't be in the way of my new soil. Then I will design my plot and plant for the season. What to plant? This is my dilemma, since last year I learned some hard lessons about what I DON'T want to grow, so that I will not have to fight slugs and aphids until I am discouraged.

I learned that brussels sprouts and cruciferous vegetables in general are prized by all kinds of pests, while the green beans and zucchini didn't attract them. I'll probably plant half of my garden with pretty flowers and half with veggies. And this year I will weed much more often. I had the worst aphid problem of anyone in our garden because it was almost all cruciferous vegetables.

It's so rare for us to have blue, blue skies without a cloud for days at a time. Yes, we do have this happen for about a month to six weeks around the end of July through August, but this is a bit unusual. Yesterday reached the mid-70s and it will be even warmer today. A record-high temperature was set at the airport in Quillayute, WA, where the previous high of 76 was broken by six degrees (82 F)! I suspect more records will fall today and tomorrow. By Tuesday we should get a cloud or two, and those unbearably blue skies will begin to look more normal to my Pacific Northwestern eyes.

I'm a little sore from packing my parachute four times yesterday and hurling myself out the door of the airplane, as well as flying my canopy to the ground after each jump. I had good landings all four times, which is saying something for me. All in all, it was a wonderful day, and being completely well after having been so sick makes the beautiful sunshine all the more enjoyable. I can feel that my cheeks got a little pink from yesterday, so today I'll be sure to slather on the sunscreen before venturing out.

I know I'm fortunate to be able to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, but I also know it's because I am dedicated to staying in shape and keeping my muscles tuned up for my active lifestyle. Not to mention eating right and watching my calories. It's interesting that I have no problem admitting my age to anyone who might ask, because I know that I am able to accomplish more today than I could when I was thirty years younger and took my good health for granted.

Well, after bragging unashamedly during this post, I guess I'll leave now and look around for my humility, which I seem to have misplaced somewhere. Maybe under my glasses? I'll keep looking. You know what they say about pride going before a fall...


Anonymous said...

haha. You have every reason to brag, DJan. Have you tried dancing? Hula, ballet, ballroom, tap, etc? That sort of indoor exercise might be ideal during rainy weather. Of course, I realize you already do aerobic exercise at the gym, but dancing might exercise new muscles. Anyway, I would love to see the flowers you are planting. I love flowers.

Lorna said...

Looks like you're doing just fine. I so admire you for being able to participate in skydiving. Not that I would like to skydive, but that it takes physical endurance to skydive, and I lack that.


Linda Myers said...

You deserve to brag. You're reaping the rewards of healthy living.

I saw the weather forecast last week but knew we'd be in Anchorage this weekend, where it snowed all morning yesterday. Looking forward to seeing the lights of our home airport tonight.

Friko said...

Watch out! Humility will bite your nose before you know it.

In the meantime brag all you want. A girl as active as you needn’t eat humble pie just yet.

As always, I get breathless just reading about what you’ve done.

Stella Jones said...

I've been visiting my son last week so I've missed your gardening post I think. Must go find it right now. I'm glad you got your sky dives in and your new helmet is nice. It hurts me to write that because, as you know, I wish you'd give it up and be safe! Perhaps your garden will take over your enthusiasm this year? No chance, I hear you say LOL

#1Nana said...

Don't think of it as bragging, but as providing a service to those of us who haven't yet seen the wisdom of your advice. I've said it before, but it bears repeating...you are a wonderful role model for aging gracefully.

Jackie said...

Your helmet looks fantastic. Love the colors you have, and now in your skydiving photos, I have no problem picking out which one is you. I've become quite good at it, now.
Regarding your blue skies. We (you and I) have traded weather. It rained here (South Georgia and North Florida) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was clear today, but it is clouding back up and will rain again tomorrow (Monday.) I have Jan's weather. Jan has mine. We will probably 'trade' back soon, whaddya think! :)
I have often wondered how long it takes between the time you leave the plane until you make your landing. Making 4 jumps today is awesome to me. I can't imagine it...but do love to read about your adventures in the sky. You go girl.
As you plan your garden, I hope that you find just the right plants that those pesky aphids don't like. I really enjoyed our Japanese eggplants last year. I didn't see much "bug" activity on ours. Whatever you decide, I hope that your thumb is green and your crops are plenteous.

Arkansas Patti said...

Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. Besides you make me want to try harder and that is a good thing. You prove it can be done, it just takes a little effort. Thanks for the inspiration.

Sally Wessely said...

Look at you! You look amazing in your 'jump suit' and new matching helmet! I see absolutely nothing prideful in you. You are simply inspiring the rest of us.

I have never had an interest in jumping out of airplanes, so I like to just read of your adventures. I am interested in gardening again. I have to get some inspiration on what to plant in my wee little yard.

Flowers will be nice. You could take some to shut-in in nursing homes.

Gigi said...

The only thing I thought you were bragging about was the weather (it seems we have somehow traded weather patterns) as it has been raining FOREVER over here and is cold. Enjoy those blue skies and warmth!

Red said...

...and rose colored glasses! It's always good to hear about someone who is active and has many activities to look forward to. You can brag about being active.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, your last paragraph was a gem. I, too, need to get out and work in the yard--weeding the shrub garden. I have four reps from four sun porch/enclosed porch companies coming in the next two weeks and I'd like both the house and the garden to look inviting--not weedy with weeds or cluttered with stuff in the house.

I do so admire your fortitude and determination. I've found a good place to work, but it's been raining a lot. We need the rain so no one's complaining. Take care, you Skydiver you with a brand new helmet! Peace.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Brag away! It's all true! And I say, good for you. Humility is overrated!

Rita said...

Hey, you're a skydiver--pride cometh after the a good fall. LOL!
You look darn snazzy, lady!! Love the colors!
I hope the soil shifting went well. :)

Linda Reeder said...

Bragging is OK when you have accomplished something. You have.
We gave up in cruciferous vegetables long ago - too buggy!
I planted pole beans today and set out zucchini plants Tom started in the green house. Yes, we did have clouds this morning, but those blue skies returned this afternoon. This is so remarkable for May!
Enjoy your blue sky!

Donna B. said...

Darling...you look MARVElous! I especially like the purple color! Whoo-hoo! I admire you so much for your stamina and outdoor exercise. I too would love to see what you decide to plant...

For slugs, get some copper edging to surround your garden...slugs get an electric current from the copper and won't cross. If copper edging is too expensive...try using all those extra pennies everyone collects.

I am having a heck of a time with finding a cholesterol lowing medication. I am seriously considering giving up dairy and animal products and doing it the natural way. I have such aches, muscle pain and stiffness from the meds...it is just not worth it.

Miss you girl....

Far Side of Fifty said...

You look smashing in that new helmet! I am just popping by to say "Happy Mother's Day!" No post up yet for today..perhaps you are still creating it or sleeping in:)

CrazyCris said...

Very cool helmet!

Humility? Who needs it! You have every right to brag and be proud of all you've accomplished DJan! Enjoy!!! ;o)