Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cyclades Adventure

At the risk of startling those who were concerned I'd disappeared….we're back! Well, actually we've been back from our wonderful trip for a week, but I'm still working on getting my act together. Who am I kidding? That's a daily project. I'm really attempting to get unpacked, laundry put away and into some semblance of 'normal' life. Remembering of course that I'm unpacking from a 6wk work rotation where I sorted, gifted and packed the remainder of my accumulated two years of 'stuff' and then without even making it home, the additional 6 wk vacation. The mud room was congested for a few days with backpacks, suitcases, action packers and boxes. I've managed to store the northern gear between the barn and the house and have no plans to look at it until the spring. The travel clothes and gear have been washed and stacked for repacking as there are only 10 days remaining before heading out on a girls cruise - more on that later.  As I work my way through the 'to do' list, my stack of paperwork sorted from the accumulated mail is gradually diminishing. I've managed to get laundry out on the clothesline in the mild autumn air, walk to the mailbox a couple of times and generally enjoy the season.

We arrived home at 3 am last Thursday after a wonderful 45 days in the Greek cyclades and have decided we're committed to slow travel. It was great to have four or five days on each of the nine islands we visited to explore, relax, or just hang out. By the end of October the tourist season is winding down and therefore less choice in accommodation and restaurants, but also fewer tourists. We were very fortunate with the weather (which was equivalent to a pleasant NS summer) and had only one morning and two evenings of rain (all within the final week). Spent regular time on the beaches, walked a lot (good thing as we ate a lot) met wonderful people, saw a multitude of historic sites, travelled with locals on buses, ferries and even rented dune buggies twice. Just generally enjoyed ourselves to the max. I overheard the shore captain describing the vacation to a seafood industry colleague and he said "neither of us try to be anyone other than who we are and the Greeks appreciate that, so it went well" which kind of sums it up. So I offer the following photos (in non chronological order) as additional documentation of a wonderful (and highly recommended) vacation:

windmill on Paros

Church of 100 Doors front - Paros

4th century Church - back

Archeological Museum - Paros

 Kalotaritissa Beach - Donors

Ferry in Koufonissi 

Beach - Schinoussa 

Sunset-Villa Meltimi, Iraklia

Kitties even on the beaches

Octopus drying 

Goats in Apollona, Naxos 

Swimming with fishes Folegandros

St Nicklaus Beach, Folegandros

Aglia Beach, Folegandros 

Roman catacombs, Milos 

Blue Star ferry from Pireaus 

Sunset - Notas Studios, Schinoussa

Ferry terminal, Paros 

Paros by dune buggy

Monastery - Paros 

Exquisite churches everywhere 


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To extend our Mediterranean cuisine, I made fassolada (Greek bean stew) which our hostess in Kimolos had made us for lunch one day and it's delicious. The recipe which I found on Greek website called Kopiaste will be included as a meatless dish going forward:

Fassolada - yum!

Fassolada (Greek Beans Stew)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time:  1 hour and 30 minutes
Serves: 6
Ingredients:
  • 250 grams (8.8 oz) navy or other white beans
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 carrots, sliced is rounds and halved
  • 1 big potato, cut into cubes
  • 3 – 4 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 5 fresh tomatoes or 1 can of whole tomatoes with sauce, blended with 1can tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 organic vegetable bouillon
  • 2 cups water
Directions:
  1. Soak the beans in water  overnight.
  2. Drain the water and place the beans in a pot with fresh water.  Boil for a while and remove any froth which arises.   Drain once again.
  3. In a pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.   Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, spices and mix.  Add the tomato, blended with the tomato paste and the vegetable bouillon dissolved in hot water.  Add more water if needed to cover it and make it soupy.
  4. At this point you can either continue cooking it on the stove top or transfer it to a “gastra” (similar to Dutch oven) and continue baking it in the oven.  Bake for two hours in a preheated oven to 200oC (400oF).  After half an hour, stir the stew and discard the bay leaves, cover again with the lid and continue cooking until done.
  5. If you wish to continue cooking it on the stove top, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until soft, for about an hour and a half, mixing regularly.  Add more water if necessary.
  6. After about an hour, remove lid and cook uncovered until the sauce thickens, stirring regularly

Next plan will be for cooking up gigantes or giant beans (a type of large runner beans) which are baked in the oven. Even brought some of the seeds home so the gentleman farmer can grow a crop next summer.

Had the grandson over for the day on Sunday and he's grown a couple of inches and put on about 10 lbs. since I'd seen him in July. I have missed seeing him the past three months - travelling is fine but missing grandchildren is a problem. So grown up now, reading extremely well, great math skills and just as amusing - the yarns, the yarns just as his father shared at that age. He was questioning me about how old I was when he was born and I told him, then he asked about my year of birth which I named as 1956. He was amazed and said "Nanak, did kids have to carry water from the well in a bucket back then?" I was speechless and sent him to his grandfather for the answer. Just because I can remember a hand pump in the kitchen as a child….

On Monday morning we headed to the physiotherapist for a double appointment, or as northern patients often describe "kind of like….but not". So kind of like a date….. but not. Since we both got adjusted and taped, the life partner suggested we buy a bottle of wine in a couple of days and take turns ripping the tape off each other.

The intent of the shore captain upon return home has been duck hunting, but today was the first morning he managed to get out in the boat. Everything from having to apply for his migratory game permit online (now that was a performance!) to getting up two mornings in a row to look at the weather but not going (and then sighing and muttering upon hearing shooting later) readying the boat and gear multiple times and finally bringing home one coot today. Bit more of a challenge than flocks of large snow geese at low levels this spring, think he's been spoiled.

Managed to get a few minutes to visit with the buddy I'll be cruising with shortly. This is the 10th anniversary of the first trip we enjoyed and we are planning to 'surprise' SuperMario, someone my friend spent a fair bit of time with that first cruise - he's a guy who spends 50 weeks of the year on Royal Caribbean ships, having just recently celebrated his 7000th day at sea on the Enchantment of the Seas. According to the media photos he hasn't aged as well as my friend , guess that's what living on cruise ships for years does to you. Hoping to snap a few photos of the 'oh hello there' event when we connect. Surprise!

This time of year always brings lots of angst with the approaching lobster season and intensity increased this fall as the Department of Fisheries & Oceans changed regulations last month involving the leasing of licenses - trust agreements (whereby a captain fishes a license for another in a leased arrangement) are no longer permitted if the captain already owns one license - a common occurrence as these years, stacked licenses are how a living is made. This is supposedly to remove the corporate takeover of the industry but in reality most of these arrangements (some for many years) are within family enterprises (as with the shore captain and boy captain) and must be changed with the license sold/permanently transferred. Although this may have been the intent (eventually) it has caused much immediate scrambling between fishermen, fishery associations, bankers and lawyers with raised voices, pacing and gesturing. Ultimately, there will be little change to the number of licenses and who fishes them which is the supposed intent. Sigh.

The shore captain has offered first week mentoring to a captain who has obtained a lobster license this year and was pleased to have been asked. Having been involved with the lobster industry for decades, he wasn't looking fondly at missing the adrenaline rush. I however, am thrilled to be travelling and thus miss the lead up to and first day excitement / frenzy. Luck or good planning on my part? I'll take it.

Tomorrow we're off on a bit of a road trip as we head to the city for a routine oncology appointment, overnight to visit with the granddaughter who is now walking and discovering many new things, pick up a 7th birthday gift (a globe has been settled on) for the grandson, squeeze in an afternoon visit with a friend in the area, drop the shore captain off at the airport early on Saturday (he's flying out to visit with the oldest daughter where they'll attend a hockey game in Montreal that night and a football game on Sunday before he heads back Monday morning) while I travel to Cape Breton to visit with a buddy in her new apartment and pick up mister on the Monday return. A busy four days.

Nice to have some time in the beautiful area of the world we live in, enjoy the grandkids a bit, putter on projects and generally enjoy life for a couple of months. Not winter mind you but….that's another update to fill in those details.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Belugas, bears, wolves and navy dudes


Well, if that was a short week, it sure felt longer than four days. Have been pretending to be the NIC (nurse in charge) and help the casual CHN settle in to the community. You don't realize how much genealogy you know until you have to explain to someone else. I've been lucky in that my coworker is an experienced nurse who is thorough, kind, has a good touch with folks and a great sense of humour. She apologizes for being slow but this is a sedate community so lots of time to get up to speed and you can be faster when you know folks...you can also miss things if you're too familiar so always good to have 'new eyes'. We have been 'busy' as measured by our usual pace and she's gotten to meet a number of people already. Including a little fellow the clerk described as "an old man baby" which is pretty accurate as he's an old soul (who was a fan of my jam cookies).

A highlight of the week was the arrival of a plumber (from NS of course) who had come to install an on demand water heater for us as the water in the shower was just manageable and that at the kitchen sink was tepid meaning we had to heat water to wash dishes. This has been going on for some time now as in about a year! Now I dislike the chore to begin with and to do it on a regular basis as if we are camping makes me pretty huffy! When the tradesman arrived I could've kissed him and said "I am so tired of Little House on the Prairie" so he went right to work. Apparently someone (who clearly has no idea what they're doing and shouldn't be allowed near valves) had turned down the hot water to 90c. No need to install the heaters (good thing as the plug was about 3 ft long and wouldn't reach even the wall) just adjust the temperature. I did a sink full of dishes, just to celebrate.

I attempted to go for a walk on Sunday as my coworker was on call and as I stepped out on the steps in the mist with my walking poles a resident said "where are walking? there was a bear spotted up by the dump" and not sure whether this was accurate or a 'pull the leg' statement I said "sure, sure" but he sounded pretty sincere, looked skeptically at my walking poles and said "they're called man eaters because they eat people" So I said "you don't think I should go walking?" and he said "well....if you had a dog" as the Inuit use their huskies as early warning systems, which clearly I don't have.  I changed my route from airport and down the hill to the shore where freight from the barge order sat on the gravel. I found another resident opening various sea cans (shipping containers) looking for his stove (we're talking kitchen range here) which he thought 'someone from the Hamlet office must've picked it up' Hard to misplace something that size I thought. I asked if there had been a bear sighted and he said "yup, up by the airport" so I sighed, accepted the second opinion and headed down the road about 1/4 km towards the new house being assembled. As I rounded the corner, a community member pulling her housecoat tight came out on her steps and called out greetings then said "where your going?" so I assured her just to take a photo of the house. She reinforced the 'bear seen at the airport' info and I said "how big was it?" She paused with the 'how stupid are ya' look on her face and said "it was... a bear okay? I saw it myself!" as if she was dealing with her preschooler. I took the photo, sighed and headed back down the road to the health centre. Difficult to have a relaxing walk when the entire community is having to watch out for you.

polar bear pic by drone
On Monday I took my coworker out for a drive to show her the various elders houses in case she was called out to see someone and then we (as per northern usual tour) went to see the water treatment plant, sewage lagoon (different lakes, not close) and the dump for those must have photo ops. The road was a bit soft but I chanced a run down to the point and there was a bit of traffic (one of each - truck, side by side and 4wheeler) which was a bit unusual but it was a nice day. The RCMP Cpl posted an online photo taken from his drone with footage of a polar bear in the water a few hours earlier, apparently the bear had been chased from the dump,
black meat / white muktuk
down to the point and in to the water. Accounted for the traffic and our timing was just a bit off. After we returned the clerk was on FB and advised that a whale had been harvested and people
muktuk drying
were down on the beach. Down I go with my phone in pocket and managed to capture some footage of the 16 ft. beluga being cut up. You have to be quick as this process is a group activity, the muktuk (blubber) and meat are shared and distributed very efficiently. The meat is thinly sliced and smoked, the muktuk is hung to dry for a few days before being packed in the freezer. This causes some sleepless nights with flashlight and loaded rifle in the porch as there are a couple of wolves who have been wandering on the edge of town (Grumper one of the local dogs was roughed up by them at 2 am one night) and the bear might decide to come back. Lots of folks enjoying the muktuk now but...it's an acquired taste - one I didn't acquire. Tried it four decades ago in Labrador and have no urge to repeat. It's like chewing silly putty, gets bigger every time you chew. 


HMCS Yellowknife
sovereignty in action
zodiac transfers
On Wednesday we received the anticipated community visit from the HMCS Yellowknife which is a minesweeper with about 44 crew which often does drug enforcement or in this case sovereignty cruises. So clearly Canada's most north westerly community was on their itinerary. My coworker graciously stayed at the health centre and allowed me to go on the ship tour. It was a great adventure involving a PFD, zodiac, rope ladder and sea legs required. I was pleased they carry medics so no health centre visits were required, especially when one of the crew confided they'd had to ask for some permethrin from another health centre on their travels for something they think got picked up in Nome causing a little outbreak. For those non nurses reading this I'll insert the fact that this is used to treat scabies or pediculosis pubis (crabs) and just leave it at that. On the return zodiac trip I was reviewing all the wildlife found locally with one of the crew coming ashore and mentioned the world's largest muskox herd was found here. Two of the local guys began discussing hunting and one says to the other 40 yr old "how many muskox have you skinned in your lifetime?" and he thinks for a bit then answers "about 600 I'd say". Not a conversation you'd have anywhere else in Canada I thought to myself. The lads spent the next day getting provisions from the shore to the ship in a zodiac with rough seas and gusty winds and although they were wearing survival suits, conditions would have made me seriously reconsider my choice of career. 

Have most of my chores I'd set for myself ticked off the list as I created a set of three photobooks (had a voucher which was expiring shortly) from the trip to Portugal, cruise and Venice in 2014. Nice trip down memory lane to choose the photos but then tedious to tweak all the layouts. Like finishing a term paper when you click 'order' and are unable to pick at it anymore. Purchased my travel insurance and was decidedly unimpressed with the preexisting rate which  means I pay as much for one trip as an annual policy - that's what happens when you have a history. Just pleased to feel well enough to travel but annoyed at the arbitrary classifications. I've almost finished my final craft project and I've got one more novel set in Greece to read which I think may be my in flight entertainment.

barge with fuel
I've been managing to pack up my life here and my job share partner was right when she said "just do it and once you start it'll be ok" as I'm settled in my mind with taking all my stuff and if I'm back in the spring it's good - if not, there will be another adventure. Managed to throw out some junk and gift some things that are just not going south with me. Had to consult with the life partner (who had left the fishing rod here) as to how to compress it - I was trying to pull it apart and caught the comforter but apparently you press it in as it's telescoping. The life partner also left a shell case, a foldable chair for ice fishing and two suitcases so I was unimpressed - managed to get it all into an action packer, duffle and fitting suitcases inside each other. I've been dusting, scrubbing, vacuuming, doing laundry, organizing and generally lots of domestic chores which I hate but will be nice for my job share partner coming back in to a clean apartment. Tomorrow I'll bake the farewell scones and clean up the kitchen. The barge is back in the community again, this time with fuel. I told the clerk that large red truck they're still carrying around the NW Passage will be rusty when they get it to where it's going. There was a dusting of snow today and flurries this afternoon so a festive feeling even though we haven't seen Hallowe'en yet....

Today our granddaughter had her first birthday and celebrated in her tutu by eating cake. She's beginning to get around and into things and is lots of fun. Her other grandparents dropped in on their way back from the Eric Clapton concert they attended in NY ahhhh The return to work for her teacher mother with her at the sitter is going well, easier on the baby I'm sure. With those 12 week mat leaves we didn't get used to being home and I guess we didn't miss what we didn't have back in the day.

As my coworker and I were discussing today, the north is a wonderful place that you either love or hate and sometimes we have a love/hate relationship with it anyway. As in, I went to the COOP for milk after the sched came in but...no milk! Did no one order it? Did they not send it? Who would consider milk a non staple item? I managed to buy lemon greek yogurt and avocados mind you....We also decided that on many levels we 'do better' in the north because although living can be more difficult, it's also simpler. Hard to describe, you gotta try it to understand. Last night on call for a while tonight, just two more days to work and I am Cyclades bound! As long as I make it out of this community (please travel gods NO fog) all should be well. I can deal with the remainder of the itinerary and meet the shore captain in Montreal to fly to Athens if I have to! None of the airports I'm traveling through have this feature but it would sure be something I'd avail myself of if they did...

When All Else Fails, De-Stress by Petting an Airport Dog: More than 40 airports in North America now invite therapy dogs to roam the terminals with their trainers. San Francisco International Airport, for example, has its Wag Brigade (which includes LiLou the pig) and Denver International Airport has CATS, the Canine Airport Therapy Squad. New to the herd is Vancouver International Airport’s LASI (Less Airport Stress Initiative), made up of seven specially trained bandana-wearing pooches.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Twas barge week

Very much looking forward to a short work week and enjoying the long weekend gifted by celebrating the Labour Day holiday. And by enjoying I mean....sleeping in, chatting with my coworker then having brunch, crocheting a bit, checking out the online newspaper from home (that has somehow been appearing in my inbox gratis this week after I unsubscribed during the years long labour dispute - clearly trying to win me over, we shall see when the time comes to put my money on the table) mind you I have missed Dilbert, checking out Pinterest travel hacks and now...updating the blog. I did (in a nod to the to-do list) organize my food cupboard to see what I have left as I eat my way out the community, what can be gifted and what stays. Gotta pace myself!

This past week saw a tying up of ends from various programs (preschool assessments for the two students moving up to 'big school' here), baking of farewell scones for my roommate, delegation from the aforementioned NIC heading out for a visit/wedding to myself who is now A/NIC, and arrival of a CHN from the west coast. My coworker has a long ER history so my fears of IV access are put to rest. Although meeting the 2 yrs ER experience threshold as requirement for CHN work, she speaks of issues wrestling the PH programs and general clinic work to the ground. This is something I have understood as a problem for many others for the past five years and have been pleased with my eclectic work experience prep. She's done TB nurse contracts in GN and I can pick her brain on that, so we're a good fit. She's looking for a sedate contract so is a keeper. We spent Friday as an orientation day where she found her way around the health centre. Our fax line is down so that was a hassle but we can still scan / email so work goes on.

It's been a fairly active week with the barge in community and I was pleased to see them leaving without any major trauma to deal with. They use heavy equipment to lift houses, shipping containers,
house being moved
vehicles and more from the barges across two narrow ramps onto a quickly created gravel ramp to shoreside storage. The clerk summed it up as she said "I met a house on the road on my way to
leaving for the next stop
work this morning driving my 4wheeler, it was big, made my heart pound". My coworker speaks of another community where she was sent to the airstrip with an emergency response pack as Buffalo Airways was crashing with four passengers. They made an emergency landing and all walked away but she took a while to get over herself. As she said "walking away or expired you can deal with, it's the in-between stuff that would've done me in".  Only a couple of more minor crew issues dealt with - the big complaint from nurses is dealing with out of territory healthcare paperwork. Lots of new faces as clearly all 100 people here are known. A community member was telling me the previous week that as kids they used to go jump on the shipping boxes hoping to free some cans of pop but as she said "all that workers comp and liability stuff put an end to that". Ah times they have changed I told her. We were dealing with the flurry of activity required by the DPW maintenance dude to package up and export the biohazardous waste of sharps containers, I have elected NOT to explore the garage and find them still sitting on the pallets, I shall rather assume the stars have aligned and they have exited with the barge. We donated four large bags of refundables from the health centre as fundraisers to two community groups,  they were being sorted and sent out on the barge yesterday afternoon.

Earlier this week I had reason to phone the physician on call at the regional hospital. The switchboard operator who has a thick accent (unclear of the region of origin, I asked my coworker who says he is Muslim / speaks Arabic and she would know having worked in the Middle East) answered and asked for the triage number which we are required to give when calling so I say "4." I'm just looking for the physician to agree with me on the antibiotic I'm going to give recommended by Bugs n Drugs as it's a required Dr order in our formulary. When putting me on hold he says "one gracious moment". It was about 4:45pm as the patient arrived then to be seen with a complaint of several days duration, the fact that a previous social visit had been made earlier that a.m. is relevant only to the annoyed nurse apparently. I was patched through to the millennial intern assisting (and lest I sound sexist please remember my gender) one of the princesses with an attitude and the tone to match. As I'm waiting for her to speak to me, she's talking to someone in the background and says "it's a CTAS world". For those non nurses reading this I will clarify that CTAS means Canadian Triage Acuity System which are the numbers 1 - 5 designating the acuity of your presenting complaint 1 is being resuscitated, 5 is you can wait until tomorrow to be seen, in other words the triage number the switchboard operator had requested and paged the Dr for. I chuckle and say "it sure is a CTAS world" meaning to establish rapport and missy (the age of my kids) answers "we're just in an education session here, can this wait?" with a very superior tone. I say "I just need an antibiotic ok, will only take a sec" and she says firmly "I will call you back" and hangs up. I am not impressed! We close the health centre at 5 pm and the time drags on as we wait for the callback. The NIC suggests dispensing the antibiotic in question and ignoring the bureaucracy as in "you made the call" and by 5:20 pm we are both ticked enough with the wait to send along the patient with meds. The physician on call (sweet mature Dr) calls as the patient exits and I review the case where she quickly okays the antibiotic choice asking "is that all you wanted?" and I state "yep, could've done that in a few seconds" to which she sighs. I am pleased she is dealing with Missy Attitude personally and not me!

The news this week is sad. Difficult to watch planes underwater in Houston airport, people losing everything including their lives in the flood, dogs sitting patiently waiting with their dog food for rescue  having been abandoned in boats and the recovery effort underway. The cruise reservation company we deal with in Houston is struggling to collect payments via phone as their offices were affected and I chatted with some very calm managers despite all their problems this week. The most personally disturbing news story to me was of the ER nurse arrested in Utah for refusing to give the police a patient's blood sample:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/nurse-sobs-help-me-while-getting-arrested-for-simply-doing-her-job_us_59a98902e4b0b5e530fe51d2

Apparently the chief of police has apologized and the policeman is 'on leave'. I should hope so! Actually I hope he's fired - there's no way a nurse could screw up that badly and still have their job. 

The weather has been foggy, rainy with gusty winds but the flights managed to arrive/leave pretty
appropriate home decor
much on schedule this week. There was even a charter on Friday to take the five students attending high school in Inuvik over to begin the school year. So, I remain optimistic about my scheduled exit, although snow is predicted for one day next week, this isn't unusual timing. Have been practicing a few words in Greek - clearly not going to master the language in anything less than years of study but would like to be polite and recognize the names of the ferry offices. Some more work on my online course, a craft project to finish up, photo book to do, some research for the cyclades, online shopping for such things as the new throw pillow on the right which I just ordered from BlueGorillaInc (how could you not with a name such as that?) and the 12 remaining days will slip away.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

WoolSock and more

As I update, through the miracle of modern technology, I am watching a friend - Lee Keating perform at WoolSock - which is a music festival on the Barrington River at home and it looks like a beauty of a summer day there, great music, food trucks and lots of smiles. I'm not prone to bouts of homesickness but have to admit I'd trade the sunny but brisk day here which required the wearing of wool socks. As well, there were several Nova Scotia weddings being held today to choose from so pleased that the weather cooperated.

Loading gravel
It was, comparative to lately, a nice enough day here and I am not on call so dressed warmly and went for a walk up to the airport and down through the community. It was -8c
sunny but cool
Preparing for the housing unit
with the wind chill a bit earlier but has warmed up to 2c now. There were some flocks of geese heading south, but they were too high to capture in a photo. Apparently there have been lots of dead birds and the jury is out on the cause. Biologists have suggested cholera but one of the local outfitters who helped band about 5,000 (of the 500,000) snow geese this summer says the dead are all juvenile snow geese who don't have the stamina for the trip and fall into the frigid water and die from hypothermia. This is because the biomass has increased to levels the tundra cannot sustain so they're not well nourished. My money is on local knowledge on this one:
 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/cambridge-bay-dead-snow-geese-1.4258264
There was some construction on the go with gravel being put down for new housing which is heading our way on the barge. The local info says this week so it must be in the area. There is a Canada 150 expedition through the NW passage this past week and the Crystal Serenity visited Uluhaktuk again yesterday. But I digress. The fuel truck was out and about, sewage truck made its round, we heard a helicopter and what was likely a freight plane this morning. On Thursday evening, during fog so thick that you couldn't even see 50 ft., as if a huge cloud wrapped around us, the sound of a plane approaching, circling and trying twice to land, caused me to wait by the window staring into the grey up the hill towards the airport. It headed off and I took a breath. When there are just two nurses and some folks with first aid locally, it gives new meaning to the title emergency response plan....just sayin.

We have had the usual sedate pace at work this week with just four or five visits per day but some of them have been lulus. No, not serious, just real winners. Chest pain twice "I'm worried I'm having a heart attack" the second time after arguing with the spouse, then found on the health centre steps having a smoke after the EKG. A huge fiasco with medical travel, medical escort and family, physicians, social workers and more. Essentially, suicidal threats made (clearly CHNs cannot play chicken with this one) we attempted to save the $25,000+ medevac bill + our overtime by transferring the patient with physician approval on a scheduled flight with medical escort who was promised that simply presenting the patient to ER ended the responsibilities and awarded freedom. This of course degenerated to the ER Dr not admitting the patient who absconded and went drinking while the escort was told by medical travel that they were responsible and must stay until the patient was released or 21 days whichever came first. I wouldn't be pleased with being screwed over like that either if it happened to me and how can you be responsible for someone who runs away? Not going to get anyone to step up for that gig again and our local credibility was on the line. Being talked to as if I am the psyche patient by a physician the age of my children did not win me over and the final resolution was the NIC grabbed the phone, took to her high horse and confronted the medical staff with her nurse voice threatening "I WILL go up the food chain here" which she promptly did. Good thing we didn't check our own blood pressures. The final outcome? The patient and escort were flown back and we have had (fingers crossed) no contact despite the assurances from the physicians that upon arrive there would be a visit to 'contract for safety' yeah yeah. So clearly medevacs r us from here on out. One afternoon my coworker answered the phone, handed it to me and named a parent I'd left a message for to call. I took the phone and said "can you come in and sign the consent for a booster for (naming his daughter)" and the voice on the other end said "what?" so I repeated my request that it was just routine immunization and the voice said "wrong person" and then asked to speak to his wife. It was the clerk's husband who had taken a charter to Fairbanks Alaska for meetings and was calling to advise he'd safely arrived. No wonder he gave me grief about signing a consent for a local teenager (no relation). I gave the NIC the gears about the mistake and she sheepishly said "couldn't hear it was a poor connection on the cell".

We're getting an 'on demand' immersion water heater for under the sink in the apartments as we have been heating water on the stove as if we're camping and not impressed with that. The local DPW person came to measure under the sink in our apartment and then asked if my apartment was the same size. There are two other large empty apartments over the clinic so it surprises folks that we share - we happen to like each other - but he must've wondered how I manage to live in one of those apartments without leaving a trace or wisp of evidence of my habitation.

The caretaker was kept busy baking buns for the local elders (and us) this week and they were well received. Inuit are NOT impressed with insects of any kind and are known to run, jump out of vehicles and generally freak out when spotting house flies or any kind of winged insect. This is getting to be more of a problem with global warming and the northerly movement of various bugs. I had to rescue the caretaker from a minuscule moth like insect on the window this week and while I was at it saved the life of a big stupid fly - I'm afraid to think what would have happened when she saw that. arrghh.

Had a FB chat with our clerk as she forwarded the video of our morning karaoke yesterday - you know when you do those quizzes which tell you the title of your 60s song. The clerk (a woman of few words - in keeping with her culture - was given The Sounds of Silence) captured me dancing/singing to my anthem -  I'm a Believer by the Monkees while my coworker hides behind her hand. Sure hope that doesn't escape to the internets! It was extremely therapeutic and released many endorphins though. Today the clerk tells me that she's watching a Sean Connery movie and I say "I've never cheated on my husband but Sean Connery has never been in the same room with me" and she agrees saying "aliee" which is an Inuktituit word roughly translated as 'danger' or 'look out'.

My roommate and I purchased a MacBook pro from the RCMP Cpl moving out - the screen is broken but we hooked it up to our TV to play the USB loaded with twelve episodes of A Place to Call Home (thank you to the first son-in-law) for downloading season 4, which is the Australian series we've been following. It did not disappoint! We stayed up until 1:30 am and our eyes were scratchy before giving in and heading to bed. Not having been up at that hour lately we were surprised to find that it was dusky as it apparently is now from 11 pm to 6 am so we'll soon be noticing it during our waking hours. Tonight we are binge finishing the collection.

Only one full work week, then a four day plus a couple of final days remaining before I head off for a Greek adventure. My roommate is heading home for a brief (conjugal) visit and I will meet her in the airport as I exit. Might be a bit before we connect again as my permanent position here has been filled and I think the replacement will be working more than 50%. This may lead to complications with my scheme to replace the NIC for five weeks in the spring and fall and is disappointing because the opportunity to leave uniforms, winter gear etc is very freeing. If I have to pack up all my crap then bring it back and this particular piece of paradise is not available...I may just head back to Nunavut and do short term contracts as TB nurse. No, not the nurse with TB, one who does contract tracing, directly observed therapy etc. Lots of options - as I told the nurse daughter who is contemplating travel nursing - so not concerned, just don't love packing and dragging. That knapsack is spoiling me!

 Before heading up to make supper, I'm taking a few minutes to work on the free Future Learn course I'm doing called Improve Your Intercultural Competence from Purdue University. Maybe I'll use the comment about the fear of house flies....

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Travelling lab boxes

As I have just met the COOP staff who picked up the lab box, I shall update. The blood samples in question were actually drawn on Thursday morning, in anticipation of the scheduled flight. We're talking someone who is NOT a fan of venipuncture (although who except masochists really are?) dropping in for something else and being persuaded to be poked - and the successful site was the back of the hand here folks, not an easy stick so the nurses as well as the patient are determined to not repeat this performance. A freight flight landed on Thursday morning, the sched got pushed ahead to only depart Inuvik at 4 pm, the forecast was poor by then (of course) so cancelled. By....Friday they overflew and left - TWICE! Apparently there was a BIG drama at the airport (something to do with passengers yelling/phoning etc etc) after the first pass and...the flight returned (not sure if the drama and return were connected), only to approach as thick fog had moved in, so they flew over again and returned to Inuvik. This meant the COOP staff picked up, then returned, picked up and returned the lab box. About half an hour ago, I heard a plane and after conferring with my coworker/NIC as in "boss the plane, the plane!" asking if I should call the COOP for pickup she suggested "just take it up to the airport". So, I grabbed the box from the fridge, her jacket and the keys, regretting my sandals (the heat is stuck on high in the health centre this weekend but it's cool outside) and rushed up the hill to find....a deserted and darkened airport with stacks of luggage in the corner and no plane. I phoned the COOP and a confused conversation followed with the clerk who ignored my mom/nurse voice:

me: is there a plane today?
she: yup, it left at 12 oclock
me: you mean it just left, that's what I heard?
she: um no, there was a charter
me: so there's going to be a sched today?
she: yeah, they're leaving Inuvik at 12 oclock
me: you ARE going to come pick up the lab box right?
she: um...oh yeah

And miracles of miracles, they actually did come to the door for the box. Now...would they return with it was the question? The visibility is listed on the weather report as 24 km so I mused that there best not be any flyover shenanigans today! I am happy to report the traveling lab box has NOT returned. Whew.

I haven't been getting out walking as much as I'd like because of the weather - with reduced visibility comes the opportunity for stealth predator visits such as polar bears and wolves. I'm not really concerned but my coworker says she doesn't want to work alone if I'm devoured (nurses are so empathetic) so she discourages my solo wandering. The temperatures have been about 8 to 10c with lots of drizzle, fog and rain which (with the Greek novel I'm reading) certainly make one look forward to cyclades sunshine, clear blue skies and turquoise waters. 

We extended our social life this week by attending a Nutrition North cooking class on Wednesday evening. We get brownie points on the monthly report for community events, the ingredients were included and so we trotted down the hill to the community centre.  There was avocado salad and fish with curry and tomato sauce which were both great, would try that again.  In fact, will try it with the arctic cod we
arctic cod
were gifted this week. A phone call with the message "I left some fish on your doorstep" was a bit understated as you can see here on the left. When the shore captain asked who was going to filet them for us (a skill I haven't had to learn with him around) I explained that the janitor said "I'll go get my ulu and be right back" and she was pleased to take some for her efforts. We graciously refused the liver and other innards she described as special treats as in "we're maritimers, the only way we eat cod liver is in capsules, no thanks. 

A local teenager was chosen to attend camp this month at RCMP depot in Regina, Saskatchewan for first nation youth interested in policing, and was telling me what a great time she'd had as we were comparing our trips there. She's active in the Canadian Junior Rangers, mature and a smart cookie - would be an excellent Inuit RCMP cadet a couple of years from now and it's always good for young folks to have goals. When she shared with other participants that it was the first time she'd visited a mall they said "where do you live anyway?" but she also mentioned being surprised when approached by two other girls who asked "are you Inuit?" and when she answered in the affirmative, one says to the other "see I told you". As I explained to her, it would be unusual that someone from other areas of Canada would have seen an Inuk, I certainly hadn't before working in Labrador.

The shore captain has been busy being a contractor as he and the carpenter son-in-law replaced the front steps for the teacher daughter and family. It looks great and is MUCH safer than the previous slippery tiles. Think he needed a break from stripping the paint off the deck which has become a long term project this summer. He's thrown himself full tilt into retirement as he's done with every other life stage and so has multiple projects on the go while managing his greenhouse and hopefully finding time for the pool, although the weather isn't cooperating much for that. Not sure if the metal storage building will be completed before fall or not.

The magic hat (which allows my daughter to speak English to explain concepts in class) has been posted, the question will be its arrival for the first day of school. I've done a cute headband for the granddaughter who (if video evidence is any guide - seeing her standing from a squat position holding up a bag of sweet potatoes) will be walking very soon. I've started working with some gifted yarn on a slouchy hat pattern which is very quick and so a good choice for gifting to street people missions. Mind you, as one of my millennial offspring commented they're "on trend" apparently. With the downloading of ebooks (including the latest John Grisham novel) from a source which my coworker describes as 'not entirely honest, but then again what is?' I am enjoying the sedate environment and loading up the list for travel.

strawberry cream cheese french toast
In closing, as the cream cheese/strawberry stuffed french toast from brunch is wearing off, I am going to source some bean dip for a snack. A big shout out to the electrician daughter who is settled into her new digs, exploring the capital and beginning a new position. I am jealous of her access to a variety of ethnic foods, Ikea and all that urban living offers...hats off to my teacher daughter who is heading back to a room full of french immersion grade primaries after a year off (pleased that our children don't have 12 week maternity leaves as we were subjected to) and the nurse daughter who continues to tough it out in healthcare in NS (should be a medal for that) pretending to feel normal after working the dark hours....and what is this dark at night stuff? We're just having some dusky hours from midnight to 5am here. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Photographic evidence

beluga tail
warmer day at the shore
health centre street
determined daisies








As promised, and since the internet appears to working a bit better today.....a continuation of the weekend update...with photos above of my sunny walk on what was actually the last fine day here. It's been drizzly, windy, cool and grey with even the faint whiff of smoke in the air from the forest fires in northern BC, Yukon making their way through the atmosphere. I swear that if I looked out and saw snowflakes I wouldn't be surprised. The flights on Monday and Tuesday both made it in/out as the ceiling was high enough for a couple of hours to accommodate that. This allowed for movement of supplies, medications, patients to appointments and various tradespersons doing tasks such as checking sprinkler systems and fire alarms. 

Tonight's excitement is a scheduled Nutrition North class at the community centre involving avocados and fish. We're making a plan B of oysters, crackers and cheese when we come back if the portions are limited. Apparently a previous demo involved the purchase of five steaks, inviting of the entire community (pop approx 100) and quite the uprising when the first five arrivals were served and the rest got to pound sand. Memo to self, do not ask the demonstrator to cater for us. Not to mention the lack of attention to detail evidenced by a kerfuffle of this week following a demo involving cereal and milk by the same demonstrator. Breathless mother, arms flailing, bursts through the door with a slightly embarrassed teenaged daughter proclaiming "she just drank outdated milk from August 4th and now she's vomiting and has diarrhea". Upon questioning the daughter, vomiting was denied but slight nausea acknowledged as "possible" and diarrhea was changed to "can't poop" so upon questioning of previous bowel movement (because that is what nurses ask) it was "this morning" clearly not a concern. Soft abdomen, present bowel sounds and a well looking youngster. Questioning as to a feeling of unwellness?....well, not really. So a quick exit with some gravol tabs before anyone got ideas of any other health crises. I didn't ask (although I wanted to) if sour cream or yogurt had ever been ingested. And the fact that I ate July 4th expiry date greek yogurt this week without ill effects wasn't lost on me.

It's been a sedate week and I've managed (with the fine tutelage of my coworker) to conquer the skill of downloading free ebooks onto the computer and transferring them to my Kindle (mobi) and Kobo app on my phone (ePub) thus avoiding the use (and paying for) of data. Indulged in a dozen titles including two -  Girl Gone Greek and Greek Gods & Goddesses as I'm getting in the Grecian mode through my reading list. Have completed a couple of older titles including Travels with Epicurus and Reflections on a Marine Venus. Although I must confess that Kathy Reich's newest novel Two Days (with a new protagonist) was the highlight of my acquisitions and might jump the Greek research queue. 

I did manage to get my photobook ordered with the assistance of a live chat - clearing the history in Firefox was the trick, and it's winging it's way home to the travel partner. I've started another pattern for caps to the mission - just because you live on the street, you should still have a choice in hats. 

Pleased to report that the relocating daughter arrived safely after a straight forward road trip to her new city of residence and is getting settled in. Monday will begin a new work chapter. 

Pleased also  to report that my ears are much improved with the antibiotics and I'm not being a 'boo yah baby' about them as my coworker states - nurses are such empathetic souls to their buddies. We're off to eat our oysters, triscuits and cheese now as we're afraid to arrive hangry at the food demo. That wouldn't look good on our file if someone calls management in Inuvik on us for community misbehaviour. Later.