Exercise, Peace, and Fresh Air?

Now that things are opening up more in the province, I want to try to take better care of both my emotional and physical health. So, I’ve started swimming two nights per week, when I can get a booking. The local pool has been doing 45-minute lane-swimming sessions, bookable no more than a week in advance. There are only 5 lanes set up, and the maximum has been set at 5 people per session. The first time my son and I went, I took this picture before we got into the water:

So peaceful. For the first 15 minutes there was only my son and me in the pool. And then a 3rd person joined in his own lane and that was it for that whole big pool! I could float and stretch and swim as I chose, all in my own lane. In addition to my physiotherapy, the swimming seems to be helping a lot with the flexibility and pain issues in my right leg and hip.

Next time, we brought my husband, too. Of course, being an extrovert, his comment was that he missed seeing other people! I guess the demand to swim is increasing, though, because next week they are going up to 10 people per session. Not sure how that will be safe in Corona times, but we’ll give it a try. Socially distanced aqua-fit is starting up next week, too, which sounds like fun. We may have lost the utter peacefulness of an empty pool, though.

Another great place for some exercise, as well as some potential peace within nature, is the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where my son and I have an annual membership. During regular times, it has become very crowded with tourists, which isn’t fun, but the video in the link above made it look like their timed entry policy would mean very few people in the park. So I booked us a time last weekend, hoping to enjoy some peace in the trees. Well, little did I know that on long weekends they have been getting 1,500 guests per day, even with the new rules! So, a half-hour wait to plod slowly across the bridge, then way too many people on the smaller bridges through the treetops. It’s really difficult to have a proper bit of exercise when you have to keep stopping and waiting. The best part was down around the pond, where it is not as exciting for tourists. There, we had a nice bit of quiet. The recommendation for the future is to come during the week, when there are fewer people — if my work schedule will allow that.

I sometimes try to find peace in the beautiful view from my favourite viewpoint near home. However, we have been experiencing very high risk air quality (now at 10+ on a scale of 1-10) due to the smoke mainly from the Oregon and Washington fires. I can’t even imagine how bad it must be down there, if it’s this bad here. And at least we are safe from the fires themselves.

We are socked in with smoke, though. In fact, I just learned that Vancouver for today is ranked the 2nd worst city in the world for air quality, 2nd only to Portland, Oregon! It’s actually easier to breath outside with a mask than without! The highest risk is from fine particulate matter (less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter), which in my neighbourhood is currently 144.4 micrograms per cubic metre (as opposed to the 25 ug/m3 target), down from 166 earlier in the day! It seeps into the house through the cracks, too, and we don’t have any central air conditioning to help keep it out.

To give you an idea, here are some pictures from my favourite viewpoint.

Typical, non-smoky day:

Tuesday, as the smoke rolled in:

Friday, looking pretty bad:

And today, around noon:

Based on the charts, it’s actually even worse now than it was at noon. In a scary way, it kind of reminds me of the movie Interstellar that I watched last night, although there the earth was being ravaged by dust and dirt storms and blight. (Excellent movie, by the way, with some interesting ideas about time and relativity. The acting is great, too.)

So, I think I’ve given up on anything peaceful right now. And turned to chocolate. Last year, for my birthday, my husband gave me a gift-card bouquet. What a great idea!

The last unspent gift was for a local chocolate shop. So, this week I spent my $25 gift card and am now drowning my stress in chocolate! And a little bit of Rob Thomas’ stress relief song, “Breathe Out”.

32 thoughts on “Exercise, Peace, and Fresh Air?

  1. Mickey 3d – “Respire ”
    Approche-toi petit, écoute-moi gamin,
    Je vais te raconter l’histoire de l’être humain
    Au début y avait rien au début c’était bien
    La nature avançait y avait pas de chemin
    Puis l’homme a débarqué avec ses gros souliers
    Des coups de pieds dans la gueule pour se faire respecter
    Des routes à sens unique il s’est mis à tracer
    Les flèches dans la plaine se sont multipliées
    Et tous les éléments se sont vus maîtrisés
    En deux temps trois mouvements l’histoire était pliée
    C’est pas demain la veille qu’on fera marche arrière
    On a même commencé à polluer le désert

    Il faut que tu respires, et ça c’est rien de le dire
    Tu vas pas mourir de rire, et c’est pas rien de le dire

    D’ici quelques années on aura bouffé la feuille
    Et tes petits-enfants ils n’auront plus qu’un œil
    En plein milieu do front ils te demanderont
    Pourquoi toi t’en as deux tu passeras pour un con
    Ils te diront comment t’as pu laisser faire ça
    T’auras beau te défendre leur expliquer tout bas
    C’est pas ma faute à moi, c’est la faute aux anciens
    Mais y aura plus personne pour te laver les mains
    Tu leur raconteras l’époque où tu pouvais
    Manger des fruits dans l’herbe allongé dans les prés
    Y avait des animaux partout dans la forêt,
    Au début do printemps, les oiseaux revenaient

    Il faut que tu respires, et ça c’est rien de le dire
    Tu vas pas mourir de rire, et c’est pas rien de le dire
    Il faut que tu respires, c’est demain que tout empire
    Tu vas pas mourir de rire, et c’est pas rien de le dire

    Le pire dans cette histoire c’est qu’on est des esclaves
    Quelque part assassin, ici bien incapable
    De regarder les arbres sans se sentir coupable
    A moitié défroqués, cent pour cent misérables
    Alors voilà petit, l’histoire de l’être humain
    C’est pas joli joli, et je connais pas la fin
    T’es pas né dans un chou mais plutôt dans un trou
    Qu’on remplit tous les jours comme une fosse à purin.


  2. That chocolate shop looks quite imposing!

    I sometimes wonder if I won’t have developed an ongoing horror of being with other people (as opposed to just a preference against it) when this ends. The park situation sounds bordering on uncomfortable.

    And yes, the fires. Everyone’s holding their breath in a metaphorical as well as a literal sense, as I imagine the response to them will be quite different dependent on the outcome of the election.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should clarify… that is the chocolate factory, with a store attached.

      I find I can’t even watch TV shows without thinking, “Get back! You’re too close!” The park really was uncomfortable. The people in front of us on the bridges through the treetops were actually spitting on the ground. In a pandemic! And then with all the waiting, there was a dad who was obviously bored and no longer paying attention to his kids. The older child had balanced across one of the railings on his stomach, while he reached out to grab a branch and haul it back to tease his sister. We yelled a warning and got the dad to notice. But you know, people have died there! It’s not safe for a kid to lean over!

      The smoke is absolutely brutal here. I think it’s worse than when we had the bad fire season in BC 2 years ago. The air smells and I can only see as far as 2 or 3 streets away through the window. I think it’s hard to dispute the effects of climate change now. Although I read that Trump blamed the problem on poor “forestry management” in the Democratic states. Uh huh.


      • Aha! I was like, wow — that’s a store! Like the size of FAO Schwarz, but for chocolate!

        I had to leave the house today to pick something up in a store — increasingly unusual now, even the mom and pops are bring things out to the parking lot if you ask — and I was amazed at how people were behaving. That said, I think it’s maybe been four weeks since I’ve been inside a structure other than our house or my abandoned office, and the experience frightened me so much that I’m breaking all my rules about home deliveries of things I can buy locally. I almost felt like the fact that there were so many fewer people inside the space today made them feel like they had more room to behave inconsiderately.

        fire: I think Trump’s not wrong about that (don’t faint, there are two or three things that I think he’s been correct on, even though he’s wrong in an offensive way 97% of the time). There’s been a general consensus among environmentalists for a decade or so that the West Coast forests are poorly managed (e.g., https://www.propublica.org/article/they-know-how-to-prevent-megafires-why-wont-anybody-listen ) and that not enough burns every year to protect the human population from situations like the one we’re in. Where climate change comes in as that current temperatures make for droughts, a drier forest more likely to catch fire, and a longer fire season, overall. However, the management situation has nothing to do with Democrats (the current situation is about a century old), and it’s so bizarre to see Trump embracing an essentially environmentalist position. I assume it’s because it’s convenient for him and makes his base happy, not because he actually believes what he’s saying.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I was watching a clip on PBS News Hour just now, of Trump meeting with California officials today, and he actually said, “it’ll get cooler soon.” This is in a class with “the virus will just disappear.”

          Liked by 1 person

        • I think a store that size might have too many choices!

          See, I go out quite a bit, with driving my son to and from school, going into the office on the weekends, two vacations, grocery shopping, etc. But then our rules here have not been all that strict and our case numbers have been low. Unfortunately, now we are having a resurgence and, while it is still only mandatory in some places (transit, Starbucks, etc), more people (including me) are wearing masks every time they go in somewhere. Physical distancing is becoming impossible as more people are out and about and so you really have to wear a mask.

          That’s really interesting on the forestry management and controlled burns. I really had no idea how that all works. So, he’s right about this, anyway! But yes, it is politically expedient for him to embrace this position.

          Liked by 1 person

          • We have the opposite situation here — the longer this goes on, the fewer precautions people take. Wisconsin is one of worst seven states at the moment for new infections because of this. I will avoid details of what’s been happening, but I find it truly troubling that people behave this way. We have a state mask mandate but the local law enforcement officers have stated they will not enforce.

            I think a lot of people instinctively assume that forest fires are bad. I certainly did for a long time. It sounds brutal but there are just way too many people living in areas that are not really safe for that population density. (And this is not changing — despite all this people continue to move into those zones.) It’s the equivalent of choosing to live in the high risk portions of the Mississippi flood plain. We’re very big in the US market on allowing free markets to regulate these things, but when private insurance refuses to insure in situations like this, the state and federal governments just enable more bad behavior by creating public insurance agencies that can’t refuse coverage and/or subsidizing these arrangements. I fully understand that in some cases people don’t want to leave the places where their families have been living for three or four generations. I just feel like at some point, that has to be an “at your own risk” decision.

            All of this is not to argue that we should not subsidize emergency relief or fire abatement in a crisis, of course. I just think we need a better advance plan for how to deal with situations like this so that they are not so frequent or so severe.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Totally off of this topic… I just came back from the aquafit class. I had forgotten how much I hated aerobics classes the few times I tried them! Somehow I thought the water would make it better. I ended up just doing my own thing in the deeper water. Thursday I’ll try the lane swimming for 10 people and see how that goes. If it feels too close to other people, my son and I will probably just forget it.

              I don’t know why people just won’t follow the guidelines. Although some of it is the insistence on their “rights” I guess. Starbucks in Canada just mandated that customers wear masks effective this Monday. Hopefully they won’t get too much resistance. The resurgence here seems to be mainly young people getting tired of restrictions and going out partying. My kids are not party animals, luckily.

              Fire and smoke does sound bad, but the controlled burning makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I was thinking about the choices of where to live as the coasts become more prone to hurricanes, etc. And the forests more prone to fires. And we also live in a potential earthquake zone here, although nothing major since we’ve been here (knock wood and all that). Maybe the “safe” zones will be fewer and farther between.

              We definitely need some sensible people making plans!

              Liked by 1 person

              • I didn’t care for regular aerobics so I can’t imagine water aerobics would be any better. And I don’t supposed there were any Armitage types there trying it out for the purposes of a role. But if I weren’t deadly afraid of water I’d be into swimming.

                masks & rights: I think everyone around here is puzzled. It was a subject of a talk show segment this morning that I heard briefly. Cheap, hardly inconvenient for most, and the best thing you can do to protect others and yourself. I wish they wouldn’t leave it to private enterprise to enforce it!

                One reason I left FL was that I thought I’d rather deal with snow and tornadoes and very occasional flooding than a whole hurricane season. I think half of Tampa will be underwater / uninsurable in the next two decades. I wanted to be somewhere relatively safe before I retired.

                Liked by 1 person

                • No men at all at water aerobics! Plus I don’t get the point of being in the water but standing on the bottom of it and moving. Why not just swim? I’ll stick to the lane swimming. Too bad you’re afraid of water. I’m finding it’s really helping me get moving, while keeping the weight off my joints. Hopefully, I’ll get stronger and can walk more, too.

                  My local Starbucks manager told me she had a lengthy argument with a customer who just refused to wear a mask. But for the most part, it looks like people are being well-behaved.

                  We used to vacation in Treasure Island/St Petersburg when I was a preteen/teenager. I really loved it as a vacation spot. We’re close to the coast here where I live, but somewhat protected. I live on a bit of a higher elevation, too. But there is a city/suburb right on the ocean (Richmond) which is only 1 metre above sea level. With sea levels now rising, the thought is that it may eventually be underwater too. They are shoring up the dikes.

                  Liked by 1 person

      • This is true. I had to run an errand this evening and Spawn was working, so I figured, I can do this 10 minute errand.

        Took an hour because my tire went flat and I had to go to the nearest gas station to get it pumped up. What a pain in the behind. And then go and run my 10 minute errand and the store was backed up. I collapsed when I got home. Maybe I’m NOT ready to return to work!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nous sommes sur la même planète;
    #Smoke from the unprecedented #USFires is moving back across #NorthAmerica from the #Pacific and is on its way to #Europe.

    Find out more about the monitoring of fires and their smoke by the #CopernicusAtmosphere Monitoring Service in our latest article️https://t.co/st70y5IwUC pic.twitter.com/h7MoM2IBKl

    — Copernicus ECMWF (@CopernicusECMWF) September 16, 2020

    Liked by 1 person

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