For someone who is constantly working, I tend to have many stories to tell. Beyond daily doses of irritation, annoyance, and disrespect, it is not uncommon to be caught off guard by the fundamental responsibilities of a mannerly citizen and contributing member of society.
Monday morning saw the assembly of blue sky bran muffins (for freezable/future breakfasts) and, with the federal election around the corner, taking advantage of the last day of Advance Polls.
Smile Cookies were back for a limited time, and I couldn't resist picking up my first few to tie me over until the latter half of the week. Icing was noted to be muted this time around, and decidedly thicker (ie. prone to accidental indentation).
Less tacky than standard icing sugar, detachment was also not uncommon.
I am a subconscious planner - one that forecasts plausible situations and adjusts in preparation for such occurrences. The adolescent version would contemplate highly unrealistic scenarios to justify absence in avoiding class (the classic "Cause and Effect" tale from elementary creative writing), though it is safe to declare that the modern evolution evaluates circumstances strictly conceivable in the real world.
Invoicing period rolls around on the same calendar day of every month, yet the amount of associated anxiety is unchanging. Unexpected changes often arise, leading to prolonged torture and exasperation. The process is far from straightforward, or maybe it's because there are those that wish it not to be for fear of routine.
The day drags on with uncertainty, driving me to the point of extreme fatigue, unmanageable migraines, and near the point of vision loss from spreadsheet scrutinization. It is at these times that my body demands liberation into the LED-devoid skies and greenery of suburbia.
Paperwork preparation day coincided with temperatures hovering about the 20-degree mark. Humidity was at a mininum. Thus, I found my helmet in a hurry and hobbled onto the concrete sidewalk. My brakes were screeching nearly every tap (or half-tap) of the way.
Roughly three months had passed since my last cycling adventure. Lack of motivation had been owed to unbearable levels of troposphere moisture, along with a distinct preference for familiarization of new choreography. The latter was currently less appealing in the face of untreated shoulder pain; moreover, my eyes begged direly for a break.
My go-to trail led me to the Burnhamthorpe overpass, where cyclists and pedestrians had the opportunity to gaze upon the Credit River from both north and south sides. I continued towards the Riverwood Conservation Area, making a sharp turn for a flight of wood-reinforced stairs that had never caught my eye before.
The descent made for rather unenjoyable bike handling, but was a great car-less/board-less option otherwise.
Weekends are meant for sleeping in. I relinquished such privilege in exchange for a last-minute chiro treatment. The appointment had been made available after endless pleading to the receptionists, and it was only right to be punctual for the accommodation.
The visit confirmed injury of the AC joint, as I had speculated, and entailed a shoulder adjustment and laser therapy to alleviate inflammation. My range of motion was restricted by 75%, where movement beyond the 90 degrees between my sides and shoulder height was forbidden, or at least heavily opposed.
Between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM, there was little for me to do. After confirming bake-ability of my OOMOMO tart pans, I headed over to Platform, hopeful I'd be able to reside there for a while.
"Do you have a reservation?" came the dreaded question upon my entry.
"Um...no." I stuttered. I didn't think I needed one. "Do you have any spots?"
I was informed that all tables had been booked and was offered the bar without a second thought. In reality, the "bar" was more of a waiting area before the window than proper seating. It was the only choice made available, thus I grudgingly agreed.
The splattered, sticky blinds were lowered slightly, diffusing incoming illumination by a tad. Residual rays permeated my eyes, causing reflection on my laptop screen and reduction in visibility. Underneath the equally sticky counter were several potted plants, hindering further lowering of the blinds. My calves and ankles burned underneath the table.
Despite there not being an outlet in sight, I remained stationary. Other parties of one made their entrances; some were turned away, while an older lady was provided a booth for her reading pleasures.
I took to small sips of my Iced Americano over the first hour and half of my stay, sweating underneath my mask majority of the time. By the 12:30 pm mark, I requested a Long-Haul Breakfast as lunch. Pricey and admittedly greasy, roughly one half of the greased greens, ham-and-cheese-filled omelette, and a single hash brown were ingested with haste to provide energy for the pilates class that was to follow.
I set foot into the studio around the 1:57 pm mark. The earlier class was ongoing, and a mixture of English and Korean instructions could be heard from the waiting area. The client duo consisted of a woman capable of articulating the Korean language and a man who was an apparent avid badminton player.
After bidding farewell to the couple, the instructor welcomed me with a smile and proceeded with a temperature check. I took the opportunity to address comments and warnings from the morning's chiropractor appointment. There was "shearing" in the shoulder area, which led to audible clicks with certain movements; the arm of the injured shoulder was permitted to move laterally ("abduction"), but not backwards, "as it would cause the AC join to jut forwards" - an unwanted scenario. She nodded and confirmed her understanding twice before initiating the routine.
We started with the Cardio-Tramp in the group fitness area, as the private session room was being occupied by the studio owner and another client. Spacious enough for four Reformers and their accessories, one Chair, and one Ladder Barrel, the group space also allowed for positioning of a water dispenser and several mirrors. Bright bulb lights hung from above, while a chandelier was spotted in the corner. Cubbies for personal belongings could be found against the wall, underneath a floral-patterned speaker.
The cardio warmup involved placing the feet together ("attaching the feet"), jumping such that the carriage of the Reform would move horizontally, and keeping the feet attached while in mid-air. Starting position involved the knees bent at 90 degrees.
Several variations of this exercise followed:
I had been instructed to keep my palms facing up for the entire duration. When inquired for reasoning, I was told that having the palms facing down would entail shoulders curved forward, whereas upward-facing palms would naturally cause the shoulders to roll back, allowing for lengthening of the spine.
We maneveured to the private lesson room once vacated. Reformer exercises continued.
Instability in and injury about the shoulder joint meant shifting emphasis to the lower body and core. A cloth resistance band was wrapped around the thighs and feet were spaced widely on the footbar. I was to maintain tension by pushing the knees against the band for the entire routine and extend the legs - not entirely, as this would mean losing tension from the band, and return. Constant reminders were uttered to keep tension consistent on the left knee by continuously pushing out against the band, even on the return trip. Weakness was evident on the left side.
A hot pink Miniso Sport foam blcok was placed on the headrest for the next exercise. I rolled onto my side and placed my head on top of the bock. A neutral spine was made such that the obliques did not touch the carriage; arms were relaxed, core was engaged, and the top leg was placed at the edge of the footbar. The top foot was to be parallel with the footbar, with the knee bent at 90 degrees; the lower leg could adopt the desired position, just as long as it was off the Reformer frame and didn't hinder the movement the carriage and springs
As with the previous class, I was told to keep my chin up and avoid tucking it down by default.
Next was the Ladder Barrel, where I sat on the curved portion of the apparatus and placed balls of the feet on the ladder rungs. Two 1 lb weights were held at shoulder height. The position prepared me for a weighted half-rolldown. Instructions were provided to execute appropriately:
The move was was likely my favourite of the session, as it demanded immense core control and targeted areas of weakness without fear of overexertion in the upper body. In response to my declaration, the instructor informed that the Ladder Barrel was, in fact, the "hardest" piece of equipment, even more challenging than the Reformer and Cadillac (mat replica).
Branching off from the recommended rehab exercises I was assigned, a green TheraBand was wrapped about the body in an X-formation. The concept of pilates breathing was revisited: to inhale was to expand the ribcage; as the bands were tugged tight across the trunk, exhalation through the mouth would enable the ribcage to be drawn closer to the back. While performing the external rotation on both arms, I was reminded to suck in the lower abdomen, but maintain a position between imprint and neutral spine to protect the back.
Moving to the Chair, I sat perpendicular to the handlebar and placed one hand on the tension-affixed paddle. The upper hand was placed on base of the chair for balance, but could be placed beside the head for added difficulty. Keeping the legs hovered (core engaged!) the routine involved bending upwards with strict reliance on the obliques, holding for a few seconds, and then releasing. For proper execution, the hips should be stacked in the same plane. Shakiness prevailed when performing the exercise on the right (weaker) side, thus external forces - the instructor's assistance - were deployed.
The eagerness to undertake more advanced modifications was deemed "adventurous", though it seemed only fitting for me to explore different variations given the many years spent with blogilates.
A Figure 4 stretch was conducted as part of the cooldown. Often would the body shift while attempting to lengthen. At such times, the instructor aided in rectification of body to proper alignment. Fewer adjustments were made on the more flexible (right) side, however greater pressure was applied to shift my body back to proper alignment for left (weaker/tighter) side.
A final examination of the body determined my shoulders to be at different heights. Whereas the right side was visibly higher than the left during the previous week, the opposite observation was made this time.
For the ninth session, the Cadillac was not used at all.
A distinct desire for ddeok found its way to me, and while I had vividly recalled a bakery specializing in Korean rice cakes being situated nearby, its name could not be summoned. Google Maps led to me to Nam Dae Moon by Yonge and Finch instead.
Across from its storefront was the very strip of spaces at which I been ticketed while in pursuit of DAY6 tickets. To my delight, the side street had recently been repaved, its curbs re-done and boulevard-based parking machines covered for the time being. Sprinting southbound, I entered the premises to evaluate their offerings. The staff was undeniably Chinese, with an underlying accent indicative of Mainland origins. The tower of cardboard boxes behind the cashier was another indication of non-authenticity.
Regardless, I had secured parking - albeit temporarily - and intended on obtaining items for tasting. Their best-selling Osmanthus Rice Cake was chosen, along with Mugwort rice cake with soybean flour. Both were presented in flimsy paper trays; Simplified Chinese adorned one of two plastic lids.
Approximately five minutes passed before I obtained the order. While the Osmanthus appeared to be pre-packaged, the mugwort rice cakes were obtained from the kitchen. Initially formed into narrow, snake-like threads, they were sliced into eraser-sized segments and coated in soybean flour to order.
I hurried home with the goods for timely sampling. Vast disappointment was witnessed with the allegedly adored Osmanthus Rice Cake. The blocks were dense, bland, and thoroughly lacking of the tropical blossoms - a great disparity from our handcrafted jelly cubes. When repurposed into a rice substitute and submerged in savoury sauces, the blocks were bearable - not good, but tolerable at best.
The mugwort edition proved far tastier in comparison, though flavoured minimally with the earthy, teal powder and stiff at cool temperatures. Frankly, its texture was softer than I would have preferred. Proper execution of the dish at home was declared attainable, especially considering the immense affordability of the ingredients.
Restlessness from the previous nights had finally caught up with me on the fifth day. Silence filled my room until the 12 PM mark, at which point the lids were lifted to reveal half a day of lost productivity.
But the snooze time was appreciated - necessary, even. It promoted a period of relaxation otherwise unattainable throughout the work week.
The singular creation of the week fused a craving for cushiony Taiwanese castella and smooth, creamy peanut butter.
A seemingly minor divergence from the previous editions, I took to the original butter-less formula then proceeded to incorporate 43 g of JIF Creamy. Results were extremely damp, with the top later wrinkly and sodden to the extent of resembling a PB-concentrated glaze. While delicious, the treat could not maintained mould-free at room temperature
Any future re-attempts shall see my regular oil-for-butter swap and less fat to compensate for the man-made nut creation.
To appease the anxieties instilled by a last-minute summoning for an in-office meeting, I zoomed off to Meet Fresh.
There, I secured a duo of Winter Melon Tea with Lemon and Herbal Tea w/Fresh Milk, Grass Jelly, and Mini Taro Balls. It was regrettable to declare the additional topping was soggy, offering a consistency far less chewy than desired. Quality of the Winter Melon Tea was in line with previous visits, however.
And so arrived the dreaded day of PSOS discussion. Eager to escape the unmasked members of upper management, I dove out of the conference room and southbound to the Olde Oakvile Market Place on Cornwall.
The mention of Webster Falls had inflicted regret over the years, as I had viewed my half-hike of the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area as incomplete without it. My time of academia had been spent in an area of hiking trails and waterfalls, yet the destination had sadly been excluded due to insufficient exploration time before sundown.
With COVID policies in effect, reservations were required in advance of any visits. Prime photo-capturing coordinates had also been removed from public access due past tales of trespassing and the need for rescue crews. The experience has undoubtedly changed in the past half-decade, yet I remained keen on making my mark.
In advance of the long weekend, I had proposed the trip - ie. the intent to reserve. A day trip beyond the west limit of the GTA was scheduled; it included lunch in the quaint cobweb of Westdale followed by hiking. Whatever residual time would be allocated towards re-acquaintance of the nearby neighbourhood.
A quick review of Google Maps informed me of Westdale's existing directory and dining setup. Saigon and Manna withstood their space, as did Paisley, unfortunately. Franchises like Subway and Pizza Nova were foregoed; instead we headed towards a newcomer in the area: Nannaa Persian Eatery.
Parking in the area was limited, but complimentary on Sundays and holidays.
Upon brief inspection of the menu, it was selected as the preferred alternative to its adjacent establishments of The Bean Bar and Mikel Coffee. Inside were tables positioned along the walls, plexiglass panels installed in between. The cashier could be accessed at the end of the corridor, nestled behind another plexiglass bearing.
We requested our meals in a dine-out(side), takeout format, along with two drinks.
Economic restart entails more than increase in GDP. As evident over the past few weekends, the mid-pandemic boost is coupled with tragic congestion levels.
Keeping a keen eye on route alternatives to Thornhill, I ultimately began gathering my things for a 12:40 PM departure. My eighth class at Sum would not commence until 2 PM, yet I was confident that 401 commuters would result in a setback at some point along the way. (Mind you, I was right.)
Aspects omitted from the previous week's recap were the instructor's regular readjustment of my top, should it slide during certain moves, along with direct assistance in maintaining form, whether it be shifting the hip for levelness or holding the Reformer carriage for easier execution. The same elements were witnessed in the second class. Distinctly anatomical terminology had also been mentioned, though memory of the vocabular extends not beyond "posterior" and "anterior".
I strode into the facility at 1:58 PM and was greeted immediately. She pointed the thermometer at my forehead and, upon obtaining a satisfactory value, welcomed me into the studio space. I proceeded to relay concerns over pain in the right shoulder, particularly in the vicinity of the AC joint. A brief visual inspection was conducted, followed by comparison with the left shoulder. At a loss for the proper English word, she resorted to Google Translate. "Inflammation" it read. A minty substance was distributed over the area in an attempt to alleviate the swelling, though its cause remained a mystery.
Erring on the side of caution, she proposed exercises that avoided the arm and back, in fear of any additional triggers, and urged moderation in movement of/pressure applied to the right arm.
Majority of the class would be spent on the Cadillac. The Arc Barrel was positioned near its midpoint. With the back towards the curved accessory and feet placed roughly hip-distance apart, I would curl down in a C-shape with the arms outstretched before me. Once the entire trunk touched the barrel, the spine would be lengthened, the body relaxed. At that point, I would curl back up, leading with the arms, then chin, and lastly stacking the spine. This Arc Barrel-assisted Rollup would be performed several times before moving onto a half-Rollup. As the name indicated, it involved curling halfway down to the barrel, resisting gravitational pull for five seconds, then returning to the original position.
The thigh and glute exercises that proceeded also retained use of the Arc Barrel. Lying sideways with the hip positioned at the Cadillac-Barrel boundary, I placed one hand under the head as support and the other on the unoccupied space of the barrel. A black resistance band was looped about my knees for the Clamshell. It would then evolve into a side-lying Fire Hydrant, at which point I was reminded to keep the hips square while moving the top leg in a single plane. Stripping off the band, I was instructed to conduct a series of side-lying single leg lifts (top leg only); appended to the end of the lifts were lifted circles forward and backward. blogilates had trained me well for this moment.
While familiar with this portion of the routine, it was undeniable that greater impacts could be felt with rectified form. It dawned upon me that maintaining levelness of the hips during execution was not as simple as I had once believed. Once again, I was constantly reminded to lift the chin up. In order to achieve this, I allowed my gaze to fall upon the tower of the Reformer on the other side of the room.
Sliding to one end of the bed, I slid my head underneath a tension-affixed Push Through Bar. With fingers wrapped about the bar, I was guided through a double leg stretch. The tabletop position would be the resting stance, with the extended portion involving exhalation and making an "imprint" with the pelvis. At seeing my range of motion, the instructor informed me, "You can go lower, because you are strong!". It was a refreshing phrase that contrasted with the repetitive "You have weak muscle tone." and "You need to work your core!" heard over the years of countless physio visits.
Despite September nearing the corner, the GTA was met with scorching temperatures and intense dry heat. Constant hydration was urged for folks in the field, while sunscreen was applied liberally even for brief errands in the neighbourhood.
Atrocious amounts of residual grit from nearby construction sites have coated my car's exterior comprehensively. The situation prompted more frequent triggers of the windshield washer lever, and consequential depletion of the visibility-enhancing fluid. A trip to Home Depot was scheduled to restock prior to the rapidly approaching fall and winter seasons.
By the conclusion of the excursion, I had identified an appetite for salad - precisely freshii (NOT fresh). The nearest location known to me was embedded within the Erin Mills Town Centre food court, yet entering the franchise name into Google Maps revealed an even closer outpost.
I looped about the median to request an Oaxaca Bowl with Chicken and Steak. Its accompanying sauce revealed itself a sriracha-like potency, which far exceeded my tolerance. Beyond this aspect, I was quite pleased with the $12.99 purchase.
Other munchies of the week included dimsum takeout from BestCo in the form of lotus paste-filled jian dui, soft-boiled eggs, oddly savoury-chewy Phoenix Cookies, an Espresso Frappé (homemade, of course), and Oreo-coated Pepero.
For the past two weekends, I had filled my body with lessons from Studio Bon. Yet, a total of four classes remained at Sum Pilates. With an unavailability of instructors, continuation of my package was delayed. The seventh session resumed on August 28th, preceded by a highly anticipated massage and realized with a new instructor.
I awoke to the familiar chime of my work alarm around 8:15 AM. The first five minutes had gone by unnoticed, but steadily, my senses began to depart from deep slumber. The weekend would start earlier than most, marking my foray onto the 401 before the 9:30 AM mark. Impressively enough, traffic levels had already begun to pick up for the day.
The early appointment led me to Scarborough, just a few blocks from the neighbourhood traversed for the sake of jokbal and juice. It proceeded as planned, with the exception of makeup application taking place in my driver's seat of the vehicle (behold the glitter dust!) rather than within the air-conditioned establishment. Despite full comprehension of the masking rule for indoor spaces, it hadn't occurred to me that makeup application would not be permitted within.
In the immediate vicinity were as many Chinese eateries and bubble tea outposts as one could possibly fathom. I yearned for none. Recalling an unredeemed Dak Lak stamp card, I opted to head northbound to Pacific Mall.
Once inside the parking garage, I quickly learned the status of the shopping centre's repairs. Both escalators and elevators had been reinstated, nixing the need for freight elevator rides and dust bunny-loaded alternate routes.
For the second week in a row, I awoke to a Sunday with the promise of pilates. A follow-up group class slot had been secured for the 11 AM slot, this time in the absence of ochungg.
I woke to my regular work alarm, eased into a breakfast of coffee and freezer inventory items, and slowly began preparing for the drive. Departing approximately seven minutes later than the previous week - yes, I am aware of my underestimation in congestion levels - resulted in a delay of 5 minutes. Rapidly signing my name on the check-in sheet and sprinting to the bathroom, I escaped the temperature check. I had paused briefly at the entrance in wait of a staff member to conduct the screening, though observed a semi-private (2:1) lesson being held in one of the smaller rooms by none other than the owner who had guided me previously.
My own class had commenced on time. I dashed back out from the bathroom to find the instructor (my instructor!) in a sleeveless blouse, flowy black drawstring bottoms, and narrow Gore-Tex footwear. It was an interesting departure from the usual activewear and leggings. She urged me to lie down on one of the Reformers, as I had already missed a few of the warmup exercises.
Beyond myself, there was one other student. She appeared in her mid-thirties, with a half-tied, medium-length bob and lilac top. The instructor had initially conversed with her in Korean, then switched channels with my appearance in the studio.
With the trampoline attachment inserted into the Reformer, we proceeded with several lying "jumps" to awaken the legs and core. I began having regrets in investment in blogilates' 20 Minute Inner Thigh Isolate the day before, for have the feet positioned in second position was a true travesty with tension-affixed rods. It was undeniable that maintaining control on the way added an element of difficulty; to execute each move with grace involved total control of the body, and any deviations would be visible in unsoundly slamming of platforms.
Shifting focus from the previous week's abdominal-intensive series, the day's session placed emphasis on the lower body and back, though the core was to be engaged throughout all exercises regardless.
With the Box attachment placed atop the carriage, we revisited several arm exercises with the tension-affixed arm bands. Again, some involved holding by the cloth-wrapped straps, while others by the metal hooks. A variation of the pull-backs entailed curling down to one's toes, then rolling back up slowly, allowing the spine to lengthen.
One of my favourite mat pilates exercises is the Parachuter (or bent-arm Superman for gym-goers). Lying face-down of the Box and positing its edge "underneath the bra line" (as directed by the instructor) entailed engagement of the entire core. The normal force providing support in mat pilates is removed, demanding stabilization from other muscle groups. It was generally easy to execute ten counts of this exercise. Swimmers did not prove too difficult either, though it's uncertain whether the improved strength and mobility should be owed to consistent practice or a comprehensive physio session.
Out & About #737 | Week #75 Quarantine Update Feat. Strawberry Matcha Mousse + Jin Myungdong Kalguksu
As I sit in contemplation of the meetings, approved and potential change orders, and other trivial calamities of the week past, I can confirm that work duties have permeated into nearly every waking moment of my existence. My familiarization with financial matters is germinating gradually: a broader perspective facilitates the inferno that is invoicing, yet unsuccessful are the attempts in appeasing the mind leading up the submission deadline.
T̶y̶p̶i̶n̶g̶ Toiling into the early evenings render me feeble in the departments of physical and mental capacity. The lack of energy prompted an earlier dinner (before 9 PM, for once), then followed with a sweltering neighbourhood saunter.
Coffee Crisp enters the playing field on several occasions, accompanied by countless jolts of java to fuel withering cognitive capacity.
A proposed "half-day Friday" commences with a grueling journey along the 401; the much-anticipated physio appointment awaits at the other end of the 60 km drive. For the aching back, neck, shoulders, and all other stress-infected muscle groups, the session serves to relieve and re-educate on the limitations of the human body, as well as the need for mobility.
Emails received throughout the visit conclude significance in logging back into the work portal. Around the 3:30 PM mark, I pull up to Platform with hopes of plugging in and engaging in proper conversation with my sidekick. Pulling open the door, I am greeted by the owner, who then proceeds to provide unfortunate news: The café was slated to close at 4 PM. Moreover, all acceptably distanced tables were occupied.
Disappointed - but not yet distraught - I thanked her and navigated towards Main Street Unionville. Corner 20 was spotted out of the corner of my eye; I found parking in the garage, gathered my weighty belongings, and waddled over in my flat foot-friendly footwear. Much to my dismay, the same message was relayed to me. I spun on my heel as soon as I heard the words: "We're closing in twenty minutes."
Eventually, I settled for the general parking area and set my next target as pod coffee. A man with a laptop was spotted outside the shop - "If he can work, then so can I!" were my immediate thoughts. Heaving in the horrendous humidity, I gathered my things once more, but this time only roughly grabbing by the edges of the tote. In a matter of seconds, the laptop plummeted to the ground, striking my unshielded big toe at the depths of its descent. My mouth dropped, agape, yet not a single sound could be uttered. Overcome with shock and excruciating pain, I wallowed in an agonizing thirty seconds before coming to terms with reality. And just as I thought I could carry on, a splotch of maroon began to surface. Blood.
I tended to my toe with exasperation and awe, for what was the probability of two failed attempts to secure an air-conditioned, Wi-Fi-enabled workplace and a treacherous thump on the foot amidst the unruly chaos. Swapping my open-toed sandals for trusty runners, I hobbled across the street. pod coffee offered no bathroom for handwashing, no budget-friendly beverages, and, furthermore, no amicability whatsoever. The third time was most definitely not the charm.
Next door was The Alley, where a delivery driver swooped before me in line - with an air of outright righteousness, might I add - and demanded his drinks. The cashier was kind, albeit a bit difficult to hear behind the plexiglass barrier. I dabbed at my forehead while in wait of Order No. 31, and was then shoved my Dark Knight by the barista who had the same tremendous demeanour as pod coffee's sole operator.
At long last, I would find myself outside and ready to dive back into work endeavours, only to be warmly welcomed by fumes originating from cigarettes and cannabis. Oh, Markham, how I have learned to loathe thee.
Who Am I?
Formerly an avid owner of several interest-based portals, Random Thoughts of a Quirky Blogger presents precisely the elements expected. From experiments in the kitchen to miscellaneous musings, from IGOT7 reflections to developments in transportation infrastructure, it's all consolidated here. Welcome to the raw, unfiltered side of Quirky Aesthetics.