Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rhinoceros, rhinoceros….

As the life partner remarked….these short summers sure slip away quickly don't they? I'm into the final two weeks of my 'at home' time and cannot believe how they are disappearing. Mind you, Maritime summers are brief to begin with and I've been trying to pack mine into the month of July, knowing I won't be home again until November after a six week work rotation followed by six weeks of vacationing in the Greek Islands. Tough schedule, but I'm up for it. Ha!

But first a bit of a recap of the last two weeks festivities. We travelled to the city for my oncology clinic appointment - which was great - and were pleased to have my surgeon as he was on his first day back after having both knees replaced (he and I both understand the being on the other side of the bedrail situation) I shared how pleased I'd been to return to work and he agreed. I suggested that the BS is what wears us down and he said "well it's been good so far but it's only 11 am, I'm sure there's lots of time for it yet before the day is over".  I asked about the three to four monthly checkup schedule as it related to travel plans and he said "you make your plans and we'll work around them" which is just what we wanted to hear. When I discussed the schedule he stated that "research shows that patients with your pathology who aren't scheduled for checkups but followup for symptoms do as well as those who come for regular appointments, the reason we call patients back is to be sure they haven't developed any problems because many people won't followup, I'm not worried about you as you'll come in". Ahhh so no need to worry about what will be found at a visit if one is feeling well, much better way to approach these checkups. So the 'working around' my travel plans will fit a checkup in between return from Greece and before a girls getaway cruise in the fall (more on that to follow) think I can manage that. 

After leaving the clinic we headed to the mission and dropped off some hotel toiletries (given out to street people) which a neighbour had sent along and a bag of crocheted hats I'd stashed in the closet as it will be winter again you know. The donations were much appreciated. A quick drive through stop and out onto the highway as we had made plans to visit a friend in New Brunswick. I managed to crochet an angel wing pinafore for the granddaughter and was tickled to discover that it fit her perfectly. I had succumbed to a local yarn shop called Erin's Hooked on Yarn which is stocking wonderful new products at decent prices, especially great colours for little girls. I mean with a description as a supply store for fibre enthusiasts….how can you go wrong? I'll be back, once I find a way to hide the ever growing stash that is. I do have an idea though as I noticed an article in the local paper which referenced a knitting group which meets at the library (I've marked the calendar for Tuesdays numerous times and have yet to make it) where they created pneumonia prevention vests. One of the participants (a former nursing colleague) had begun the project through the ACW (Anglican Church Women) who send them overseas. There is a crochet version online which I've located at:


which is a great place to access all sorts of free (or paid) knitting and crochet patterns. And as you can see, it's not going to win any fashion contests but will keep a small body warm. It's very basic, will go to a good cause and will be a nice change from the hats I've been doing. Might even reduce my stash a bit. The problem is though that when folks hear you're working on such altruistic projects….they contribute all sorts of yarn to the cause, at least this is what's been happening with the hat creation caper. I'm going to attempt a vest over the next few days as I've made a car service appointment for Tuesday afternoon so I can walk down to the library and see if my creation looks close to the ones being shipped. I hear they don't discriminate against crocheters so I'm thinking it may motivate me towards another semi-retirement activity to accompany my dishcloths, hats and market bags. 

The visit in NB also extended to the US as we opted for a day trip down to St. Georges, over on the (free) Deer Island ferry with a stop in the lovely picnic / camping park overlooking the water and then off to Campobello Island on the ferry (reasonably priced at $16 for the vehicle and $3 per person) to explore Roosevelt Campobello International Park:


which was a lovely bit of history and something I've wanted to tick off the bucket list for years. Picked up a great Eleanor's Cookies cookbook and opted to download Beloved Island at home (price is one aspect but the logistics of what to do with the actual books is the other). It was a beautiful warm, calm day, just perfect for exploring. We drove off the island via the bridge to Lubec, Maine and up through the border crossing at Calais and 'home' to the Loch Pub & Grill in Harvey where we had a wonderful supper. A leisurely breakfast and visit (told my friend we'd give her 5 stars for her B&B) and we were off to the ferry in Saint John to cross the Bay of Fundy to Digby. A short stop for gardening supplies and we were home by suppertime. Lovely mini vacation.

The following morning I had a spa appointment. then headed out for a girls getaway with the teacher daughter and granddaughter. The original plans had included the nurse daughter but the sinus infection she was battling didn't allow her to accompany us, hateful to be sick on your days off and well enough to return to work as scheduled. We made our way to Pictou for supper and the baby was the entertainment of the restaurant, she wasn't a big fan of the carseat after all that freedom, but we were pretty quickly at the Seafoam Shore B&B. Recently opened by a couple who have relocated from Ontario it's a newish bungalow, trailer and cottage arrangement. It was immaculate, lovely redone rooms complete with lavender chocolates and a delicious breakfast. And I must say, the owners were not as eccentric as many B&B owners I've encountered. It was located next to a lavender farm and near to River John (our destination) but first we journeyed to Tatamagouche for the farmers market. Found some lovely herbs, a rope basket, vegan soap and delicious baked goods. The Margaret Fawcet Norrie Heritage Centre was open and there was free admission until 10 am so we popped in - lovely exhibits about the creamery, farming life and some interesting palaeontology as well. We stopped at the Lismore Sheep Farm and Wool Shop and despite the wonderful collection, we didn't purchase anything just moved along to the barn where the granddaughter was thrilled with the baby lambs with their mothers, sheep dogs and even a highland calf. Fun! Back to River John for the day of Read by the Sea which included readings and panel interviews by authors
Christy Ann Conlin, Dean Jobb, Lesley
Authors panel 
Crewe and Terry Fallis. There were great food trucks for lunch with delicious options and I even met up with a former OH&S colleague from 20 years ago. The baby was extremely well behaved and very popular with all the grandparents present. I purchased some books but didn't opt for signed copies - guess it's a sign of my transition to e-books where there are no signed editions. It was all in all a great day and one that we should make an annual event. We made one stop at Sheree Fitch's children's book store outside of River John:

mabelmurplesworld.ca

It's a lovely spot with Canadian books and the granddaughter was gifted with one in each of our official languages - an Arctic alphabet board book and a French picture book to share with her friend Eloise. We were back to city in good time as the baby napped. I overnighted with there and in the morning had lunch with a friend in Chezzetcook at a lovely restaurant / shop:

tinroof.ca

Was a great catchup and the meal was delicious. I did restrain myself from purchases, but it wasn't easy. Nice way to spend a few hours on a Sunday. Along the way I discovered that my son was engaged and had proposed to his girlfriend of a few years at our camp, taking along a ring made from her great grandmothers engagement ring - not sure where the romantic touches came from, don't think they were inherited through the paternal line.

This past week has been grandson focused with daily swimming lessons at the lake, ball practice and game, swimming in the pool, visiting the greenhouse, archery practice, books, games and more games. Oh and of course I can't forget to mention…the losing of the first baby tooth. This initiated a text discussion with his mother about what the tooth fairy 2017 rate is as I planned to set a precedent of $2 being as he has a lot of teeth. She informed me that $20 is not unheard of. Can you imagine? He has no concept between a toonie and a twenty dollar bill so why would you do that? He informed me that there were male and female fairies with the gender being specific to the boy or girl being visited and was thoroughly tickled with the $2 in the morning. At one point while driving home from the lake mister is discussing that he'd like to go to New York and take a cruise again and so I ask about the destination and without hesitation he says "Africa". When I suggest that he's not the only grandchild now so his 10 month old baby cousin will have to come too (not a problem for him as he is very taken with her) he says "oh she'll love it" and then imitating a squeaky baby voice informs me that she'll clap her hands and say "rhinoceros, rhinoceros" I phone my daughter to advise of this travel planning and although we both agree that the baby's brilliant we're unsure about the new word (she's still conquering mama and dada) but my daughter promises to work on it - mister interjects that she can start with just rhino. My nerves.

The previously mentioned girls getaway 10th anniversary cruise is officially booked. The plan of last year ( meant to raise spirits during my health struggles) to connect with Super Mario (who has NOT aged as well as we have according to a photo in an online article) on a Royal Caribbean ship has been realized. We are booked for two back to back cruises of four and three days respectively out of Miami on the Enchantment of the Seas after research to ascertain this is the correct ship. As I told the young agent (who thankfully found the situation funny not creepily inappropriate) the itinerary, location of cabin, seating for dining are all inconsequential, our intent is surprise the gentleman at the Latin dance bar a la 2007. Well, my travel partner will be the surprise, I'm going to practice being the official photographer of us having fun. And as if it were a sign that this is to be….Jr suites were the same price as balcony rooms when I checked and the agent found us a nice one on the stern of the ship. Meant to be obviously. Have some travels planned but I can state emphatically that this trip will be the one where my stomach muscles will need a rest from after all the laughing.

Today I visited with one of the neighbours as she and two friends (both of whom I know from my former lives - one from committee work and the other from nursing) are planning a cruise and wanted some inside information. I had a nice visit, answered some questions, shared my scrapbooks / photo books and then headed home to take the grandson to swimming lessons. I am pleased (and proud) to report that the lad managed to complete both level two and three this week and is now working on four with the distance component being his only hold up. One of those situations where he'd likely manage it with another week of lessons in August (if his Nanak was going to be home to take him) but next year I won't have to be making those kind of trade offs. 

Time to call it a night, so many projects, so little time. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Bear's Hair

Happy birthday Canada - as if we Canadians need a reason in the summer (or any time of year) to get together to eat, drink and be merry. The weather hasn't cooperated (this weekend is one in a long string of wet, grey, cold days) and the fireworks were cancelled but some soggy parades took place and lots of visiting was done. In fact here we were pleased to host our buddies who have relocated to the prairies and were briefly (always too short a visit) home to see family and friends. Amazing isn't it how that someone you haven't seen in three years can walk back into your living room and the conversation picks up as if three days had passed? Not to mention that both of us have had lots of healthcare system contact in the past year with her having a hip replacement (much shorter western waiting period) and now wearing a air boot the past seven weeks for a fracture. We enjoyed a feed of lobsters, strawberry rhubarb custard pie and some adult beverages while catching up with new and old friends. Breakfast, then we played with the family tree program (she is much more diligent than myself with this hobby) and with less than 24 hrs of togetherness we sent them on their way to another family function. 

Speaking of family, we had the grandson with us last weekend and that was a fun time. I picked him up and we did the 'drop in' session at the local museum - he remembered a field trip there the previous school year - and he discovered how to be an archivist. That poor summer student earned her wages with all the questions! Of course we had to browse the gift shop and he chose one of those grow op things (think pantyhose filled with grass seeds) which sprout and remind those of us of a certain age of a rather disturbing Chia pet… We soaked and set up the bear and I promised faithfully NOT to cut its hair until he returned. Have been texting his mother with updates and his response is WHOA!!!! Not sure, if I'm going to be able to keep my barber promise as the stuff is growing faster than the cat grass Mikey is addicted to, mind you it must not be the same flavour as the kitties have been ignoring it. We picked up groceries and he is a pretty good help with such chores, especially if a few treats are included. The rainy weather lent itself to reading books, working through his National Geo Kids issues which had arrived, creating with Lego and cooking. Sunday was fine and so that was a good day to explore the shore and do a marine biology lab on periwinkles, limpets and barnacles. Put him on the bus for his final full day of school on Monday. He of course missed his Tia who is in Cuba visiting her husband.

I journeyed to my physio appointment last week and was pleased to not require my ligament injection by the rhuematologist as my back was in good alignment. Got my hip/knee straightened out from crawling around weeding in the yard (something that I wasn't able to do at all last year) and was on my way. 

I had tentative plans of visiting a buddy in the Digby area and perhaps doing a Frenchy's stop on the way but…various situations prevented this from occurring…..my host was called upon to assist with moving of furniture (the hazard of owning a pickup truck) then my proposed travel partner was diagnosed with lumbar compression fracture (vs muscle spasm) then our daughter was down for a visit and of course I wanted to see her, so instead she and I 'did lunch' on the waterfront enjoying quesadillas with fruit salsa and greek pizza. Yum:


Forgoing the spinach and strawberry salad was a tough choice though. We shopped at the home health division of the pharmacy and I picked up my compression hose (got to get all my insurance purchases in while I still have benefits) while she found two scrub tops on 75% sale so we were pleased with our outing. 

The lack of physicians in this province is an ongoing struggle and our local ER was closed for 48 hrs last week. This combined with my Muslim GP celebrating Eid Mubarak in Montreal meant I had to be creative to access an antibiotic prescription. Emailed my Doc a photo of the bullseye from a tick bite (one of many this season and it's tough when you're a moley person to keep on top of those things) and we did a phone consult where I negotiated for amoxicillin vs doxycycline (hard on my belly) and he agreed to fax in the Rx. So many folks don't even have a family physician…as I said to a former coworker…who would've thought 30 yrs ago that we'd be having this discussion about not having a family Dr?

I did something on Friday evening which I hadn't done for over a decade - watch a softball game - and many things hadn't changed. Our grandson was behind the plate as catcher and didn't seem in fear of the ball or bats (a common problem in the early years) as he diligently cleared the bats from the baseline, stood in the box and occasionally even caught some of the pitches lobbed in. For both teams there were as I remembered, several adults required in the dugout to maintain order and focus, the rules were not entirely clear to most of those playing, should the ball be hit the batter had to be encouraged to RUN RUN RUN!! while indicating the direction, the outfielders had to be reminded to "watch the play" and the bleachers/lawn chairs contained supportive nonjudgmental cheerleaders, the difference being the folks I recognized were now watching grandchildren as I was. One of the more exciting plays of the evening was a popup fly to left which bounced with a sickening thud off the hood of a visiting team parent's car (locals, including myself, having the forethought to park further down the street). The showers held off until just as the players congratulated each other….good game, good game and then we all sprinted for our vehicles. There were a few pretty good players on both sides and the remainder were, shall we say…..in development stage. As I described to his grandfather when I returned from the scouting session…well, the lad wasn't the worst on the team, in fact he was as good as his father was at the same age. This brought some reminiscing from the years of the shore captain's little league coaching career. Also made the decision for a 'grading present' easier as he could use a larger glove - the premise being that he would have a larger area to attract to and hopefully trap the ball in.

Planning a little girls outing next weekend as the two daughters, granddaughter and myself are heading to Pictou County to take in Read by the Sea:


Although there is no longer a supper as part of the festivities at the local Legion, there's a decent line up of authors and the area boasts a farmers market, sheep and lavender farms and more. I've arranged for two rooms in a B&B and we're all looking forward to it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ten Years and Counting

As I checked back in the archived posts from ten (yes you read that correctly….ten years ago) and more on the reason why I was revisiting that decade later, I noticed that in 2007 I had posted 200 times and with half of this year completed, I've managed 20…hmmm. Don't think my life has gotten less exciting, must be the novelty of blogging has worn off. 

Enjoyed a wonderful weekend away and if you ever have thoughts of staying at Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash, I urge you to follow through on that decision. As the life partner and myself both grew up and then raised our family in a centurion house, we felt very much at home. Nice to be able to bring your own wine, snacks and lunch and it's reasonably priced at $99/night. The memoir writing workshop was wonderful as Marjorie Simmins is both an excellent writer and great teacher. A bonus was that she brought along her (much older) husband, Silver Donald Cameron and he is a funny, charming guy who is writing a book about the murder / lobster feud in Isle Madame where they live (I'll be first in line when that comes out I promise). He most certainly looked and acted much younger than his 81 years. I was amused to find that of the two, he was the technological wizard using foursquare on his smartphone (you know - where you swipe your credit card) to take payment for her books, knew how to e-transfer funds and is responsible for setting up the transcription service Marjorie uses. They've just driven from Vancouver and a cross Canada trip in an RV is quite a journey for a driver of any age. Friday evening was a well attended double reading with a local author Sara Jewell reading from her memoir Field Notes and Marjorie reading from Coastal Lives and The Year of the Horse. I bought both Field Notes and Coastal Lives and they are great! There were interesting people attending the workshop - two who work in film in Halifax (both transplanted through NSCAD from Ontario) and two from Cape Breton who were (as expected) very funny and easy going. An eclectic group with various focuses for the memoirs planned. I think I finally have the structure / motivation to get going on mine. An epiphany was Marjorie's suggestion I use a transcription service, dictating my stories, then edit them when the typed copy is returned. Another 'aha' moment was that for structure I could cycle my original northern time 40 years ago with the present. Maybe I'll finally stop being a memoir groupie and move on. 

We shopped at Masstown Market on the way up (for provisions) and the return (for breakfast and fruit, especially the beautiful strawberries for the season's first shortcake) and what a great spot it is:


And to think I remember it from the time it was a farm gate market on the way to my grandmothers in River Phillip. This was long before toll or even divided highways were thought of, but I'm dating myself. 

Pugwash is a nice little tourist town, one that I remembered (also Tatamagouche) as day trips in
Hand sweaters
childhood summers. The shore captain particularly enjoyed watching the lobster boats (it's currently open season in that area) and large cargo ships carrying salt. We visited the Pugwash farmers market on Saturday morning before the workshop where the resident gardener invested in some transplants and I savoured a delicious cinnamon roll. There were lovely crafts, great veggies and wonderful friendly folks. Would sure be a regular destination if I was a member of cottage country on the Northumberland Gulf. 

And speaking of summer vacationing, last evening was spent booking some camp sites at Kejimkujik National Park. Since 2017 is Canada's 150th birthday and park entry fees were waived, it's become a popular destination and weekends were all booked up. After a few false starts we were able to select, view and online reserve two sites in Jim Charles for a few week days next month - the benefit of a teacher and nurse shift worker daughter versus weekend only employees. Looking forward to introducing another generation to the camping life and hoping they enjoy it as much as our own brood did at their ages. I spent some time this morning sorting camping accessories as it's been some time since we used them - did you know that Ivory soap ages to a dark brown? Me neither. Now fingers crossed for a decent forecast as we've had wind, fog and rain for the last few days here. Mind you, in summers past we have visited Ross Farm, Annapolis Royal and the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum just to shelter from the weather for the day.

Planning to register the grandson for a week of swimming lessons again this year and considering a cooking class that is being offered for his age group. The Recreation Department brochure provides me as much entertainment as it did a few decades ago. Now, if I could just get my schedule on track to attend one of his ballgames my deja vu summer would be complete.

Since this is the 10th anniversary of the original cruise which my friend and I made where she connected with Super Mario - the gentleman who cruises year round out of Miami on his 100th Royal Caribbean cruise - we have made plans to surprise and show him that she's aged MUCH more gently than he has, according to a publicity photo in an article we found last summer.  Having done some research (on one of the cruise bulletin boards) and requesting his whereabouts I ascertained he is cruising on the Enchantment of the Seas for the next year. At present the ship is doing three and four day cruises to Bahamas which allows him two days per week to attend to business at his Bay of Biscayne condo. The itinerary is rather tame with Naussau, Coco Bay (private island) and Key West as the ports of call. But as we discussed, this would allow for more enjoyment of the ship itself if the destinations were familiar to us. We plan to do so called 'back to back' cruises to make it a week and in November discounts of over 60% result in a reasonably priced girls getaway. I am just waiting for my travel partner to let me know which dates work for her as my only stipulation was that I have a chance to settle in from my Greek islands adventure, before leaving again. Got to keep that extended summer gig going. 

Well off to get started on an e-book I downloaded from the library called The Other Einstein about Albert's wife. Couldn't resist and the 21 day borrow period has me on task. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eat less chicken

We are safely home and more or less settled after arriving a week ago. An uneventful three days of travelling for the most part - just the way I like my commutes thank you. A bit of turbulence along the way, including some aerobatics coming in to Inuvik in a small plane with strong crosswinds and then a major dip to the left (threw the life jacket out from beneath the seat) on the 737 as we approached the station stop the next afternoon in Norman Wells (must've been the down draft between the mountains in the Mackenzie River Valley). We headed in to the terminal to stretch our legs and the travel partner got it into his head that he'd seen his luggage in a storage bay. I attempted to reassure him that the luggage is not off loaded here but he was not to be calmed so I said "go ask at the Canadian North desk then" and watched as he approached two clerks - the first was kindly reassuring but gave him a wary look, the second was emphatic and I watched her shaking her head NO adamantly and completely discounting the possibility. The two of them gave each other knowing looks as he walked away. When he returned I said "they don't believe it anymore than I do then?" and he sheepishly agreed. His pain was eased when the action packer containing the muskox skull and duffle bag of frozen geese fish came off the carousel in Edmonton. Muskox skull you say? Oh yes, if one is exporting such a thing a tag must be issued by ENR (no tags were available in the community) so this required a pre-flight field trip to the ENR office in Shell Lake and a receipt from someone back on the island (the clerk at the health centre was kind enough to write and fax this) so a tag was issued. We spent a few hours in Edmonton with a Cuban friend (and his missus) having some adult beverages and snacks at the hotel and sharing the Cuban wedding photos. Good for the shore captain to meet the missus and we all had a great catchup. A quick Edmonton to Calgary hop the next morning and then direct flight to Halifax where I sat next to a lady travelling with five other friends/sisters to Scotland, England and then a cruise to the Canary Islands. Ahhh envy is such a negative emotion. We were met by our son-in-law at the airport and stopped for a visit with our three girls and granddaughter (who is now crawling as the military do on obstacle courses) and has excellent fine motor skills (managed to extricate her auntie's passport from her wallet and 'read' it). We were home by 11 pm and after a few days of acclimatizing have finally gotten the time zones sorted out. 

Before updating this blog further, let me just instruct you (if you haven't already seen it) to watch the movie Maudie - it's the Maud Lewis biography. It was sad, but not as overwhelming as I've heard it described - mind you that was by someone who cries over commercials. I've just returned from a screening at the local arts centre (it played in movie theatres while I was out of the country) and it was a sold out show tonight. There should be nominations for Ethan Hawke and the female lead. It is being rescreened on Saturday night. This wouldn't work for me as I'm heading to Pugwash for the weekend, but more on that later. 

As I was getting settled in at home, I noticed all three cats acting (more) weirdly and looking out the veranda room door. Flicked on the light to find Mr Racoon had entered through the cat door and was munching the cat food left there for Stanley to snack on during the night. He calmly continued eating and was only mildly alarmed when I touched the door handle. Mikey did security duty staring the intruder down through the glass, Stan hid and Squeakers fixed him with an insulted stare as in 'you're the one who goes outside do something' look then glared angrily at the unwanted guest. The life partner was summoned and pronounced the visitor "cute" and left. After the food dish was empty, Mr Racoon took his leave. This is not the first time he's had take out here. 

This past week has been one of catching up on appointments and tasks while easing back into 'southern' life of hanging laundry out. Today was sunny but a bit cooler and I was able to walk to the mail in the afternoon and not have to wait for after supper cooler temps, a couple of days have been positively tropical and were enjoyed on the deck with BBQs. I made sure to run errands in the morning so as to enjoy the UV later in the day and have battled the blackflies and ticks on all fronts. The shore captain has been mowing, expanding his greenhouse, planting, building a new rose trellis and catching up on his office work. I've been crocheting some dishcloths (gotta get that stash down so I can see over the end of the sofa) and have been sharing them around. 

On one my drives as I listened to CBC there was a vegan being interviewed who was rallying for saving chickens by eating pork or beef as more lives are saved due to the number of meals their larger size provides, interesting concept:


Heading to Pugwash for the weekend as I'm attending a writing workshop being given by Marjorie Simmins (wife of Silver Donald Cameron if that helps) called The Minefields of Memory. Here's a link to a YouTube interview with the author in 2014 as her book Coastal Lives was launched:


Seems as if she'll be an interesting mentor. As part of the package she's already kindly critiqued some of my pages from my 'family stories folder' which I forwarded. I've gathered up my supplies as instructed and reviewed some materials (this is like the third memoir writing workshop I've taken…looking for motivation I think). The life partner is coming along (driving Miss Daisy) as we're visiting the granddaughter on the way and he approves of enjoying wine with the readings being given Friday night. If you watch the short video on the site it will make you want to stay as well I promise, it's a lovely heritage site:



I was pleasantly surprised to find a $99/night accommodation cost and use of the kitchen for lunch. The shore captain will be well able to amuse himself visiting wharves on the Gulf of St Lawrence for the day while I toil from 10 - 4. And, as he pointed out…rain is forecast for the weekend so not likely much carpentry/gardening on the go anyway. 

Well, time to crawl into bed as we've opted for an early start to ensure lots of visiting time. 28 years ago I was waiting to be induced for a beautiful baby girl. Ahhh how time flies eh?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Packing again, or is that still?

So, the final update in the month long rotation and I have to say....it has gone by really quickly. The forecast for the next few days is good, with the scheduled departure on Tuesday looking promising. I smile when I see the overnight forecast of sunny after midnight up here..... We've been having a problem with cancelled flights because of the unsettled spring weather. With the open water as the sea ice melts, there is more moisture in the air and thus ice fog, rain, snow, hail, sleet...you name it, we've had it the past while. Once over to the mainland, it's usually pretty smooth traveling so as long as the flight makes it in. Been a pain trying to get samples out to the lab within the window of opportunity for testing or medication over from the pharmacy.

The hunter accompanying me was a bit disappointed by the sudden disappearance of the snow geese but a combination of weather factors last week (fog, easterly winds, earlier spring) seem to be the culprit. The locals are disappointed as well of course. There were less eggs collected this season because it was too difficult to get 'up north' on the island to Egg River and there were multiple snowmobiles stuck in the rivers on return trips last weekend - videos of folks standing in waist high water on the seats, just handlebars sticking out of the ice etc. So the only available eggs were a few deposited around Middle Lake and the arctic foxes were waiting. Lots more folks in the community this week, back from the big white tents out on the land, so a bit more on the go with work.

I've been finishing up some craft projects this rotation and have (finally) managed to complete my sealskin slippers with beaver trim. Only two years in the making. They're much too warm for 'down
south' so will go into the storage box here. I've been crocheting a small throw, made a hat and even created a cover for the plant pot in the livingroom as the stash busting continues. Managed to read a couple of books too - one I found in the bookcase entitled Housecalls by Dogsled, written by a community health nurse in Fort MacPherson (another community here in the Beauford Delta region) in the 1960s. At present I'm reading an e-book about Jonathon Letterman who was in charge of battlefield medicine during the Civil War - gruesome conflict that it was - and the changes he made with ambulances, hospitals in barns at the edges of battle, interesting stuff....well at least to a nurse. 

Today was our 40th anniversary, quite a milestone by any measure, especially in today's disposable relationship climate. One thing I can say with certainty is....these four decades sure haven't been boring! It's become unusual that we spend our anniversaries together as I've been 'working away' the past few years, so today was a bonus.

I am on call today and spent the afternoon working. As the physician on call for the region said when I finally reached him after being on hold for a while "why is everyone doing this today? it's a beautiful afternoon, they should be out on the land". Couldn't agree more but...as I told him, if they put me in a position to do an EKG then you know I'm going to fax it to you, even if it's normal. Add in another call with family drama and the double time paid on Sunday becomes even more relevant. I'm making plans to just work ten weeks of the year - for a number of reasons - the main one being that after all the life changing events of the past year....I want to do more of things I enjoy such as travel, enjoy our oceanfront home, hang out with friends, or just do nothing. Other reasons include that with my (small) pensions and some dividends drawn (mostly by the shore captain) from the company, anything over ten weeks salary will be paid back in income tax. I'm not interested in northern volunteering. Had a discussion with my manager and expressed interest in a couple of five week casual rotations spring and fall (the life partner will be otherwise occupied so gave his blessing) which she didn't discount so I'm looking at working my next rotation August/September and calling it a year. As I explained, I didn't leave on my own terms...I had to come back to prove to myself I could still do it (I did so) that I wanted to (I most certainly would miss it if I never returned) and figure out how it was going to play out in the longer term.

We were out for a while last evening fishing for arctic cod on the edge of the ice crack just in front of us, but no luck. And yes we were careful to only go along the skidoo tracks...yep, there are still snowmobiles out on the sea ice, and keep a look out for polar bears. There have been a few small cod caught recently and the seals like to sun themselves on the ice next to the edge, so there are surely fish there. Lots of fishing on the floe edge over in Nunavut, it's actually a popular spring excursion for fishermen. It's getting to be a challenge to get back to the lakes as there's too much ice/snow for ATVs and too little snow for skidoos -  kind of a switchover season until it's time to get out in the boats. Spring this year came the fastest that anyone here (even the elders) remembers and caught the locals off guard. Climate change is so dramatic here near the north pole.

So, time to get ready for my remaining two days of clinic. I have most of my things packed as I'm bringing home excess, storing and have gifted some. Nice to have the man servant to do laundry of bedclothes and towels on the final day versus chasing the washer/dryer during work hours. Today I tidied a bit as my contribution to the apartment. Since we're leaving the job share partner here, it's not the more thorough exit cleaning. We've been making jokes about our polygamous situation with the two sister wives, especially as I made us 'family breakfast' of bacon and fruit filled pancakes this morning, but I suspect she'll enjoy the solitude which comes with our departure. An update from much further south of here...I promise.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Would you like a T4 with that?

So....to explain the title of this post, I offer this anecdote... The setting is one afternoon this week as we two nurses were filling our day with routine tasks such as sorting stock and making out the barge order (heavier products such as casting material, jugs of saline etc. are not routinely ordered as air freight because of the shipping costs). Due to the government takeover of the shipping company, the barge will be coming through earlier this year in August so the mundane logistics task must be approached earlier. While I took a phone call (part health information and part social interaction as in "which hockey team are you rooting for this evening?") the Nurse in Charge aka my job share partner proceeds to pick some papers off the fax machine and shows me first a sharpie lettered flyer advertising that salt n vinegar and ketchup chips are for sale at a local government office and secondly the T4 of one of their employees. Wow, just wow! I extricate myself from the phone call and my colleague phones the sender stating that if we have received the information, likely the entire hamlet has because it looks like a group fax. The reply is "oops, must've stuck to the poster" and "you better rip that up". The T4 is quickly shredded and we comment on how much trouble we'd be in pulling a stunt like that - at the very least we'd have to take a faxing course and have every transmission cosigned. The following morning my coworker answers the phone and it's a clerk from the above mentioned office telling her that she should call the bank who faxed the T4 to us. She educates the clerk to the fact that we were an innocent recipient and have no plans to call anyone, that the document came from HER office. When the caller realizes that whoever sent it is fingering her as the culprit...she quickly says "oh, that wasn't me" and hangs up, apparently the concern being who got blamed for it, not the disclosure of sensitive information.... my nerves.

The community remains fairly quiet with the majority of folks out on the rivers, having moved their camps north from the lakes, following the geese who are nesting so there is egg gathering and shooting in progress now. Occasional trips back for provisions or poor weather hampering hunting has made for a few visits, mostly due to aches and pains of pounding over rough terrain by skidoo or ATV. Both nights this weekend my colleague and I have had middle of the night callouts (a rare occurrence here) and earned overtime awaiting a medevac which was in Yellowknife with another case (thankfully the fog lifted for a few hours), which we have both decided we would trade for sleep. In my honeymoon stage of returning to work, I had forgotten how unfun it is to be screamed and sworn at by a non coping individual at 2 am. over a minor situation with their family member. When the circus comes to town like this you're not even able to say 'not my circus, not my monkeys' because they both are.  I see there are job postings for short term assignments of four weeks to four months for TB nurses in Nunavut. I was discussing my qualifications for this area with my coworker as in...infection control education and experience, public health background, community health nurse with a degree and she said "a nurse with a pulse" which we both acknowledge is the real requirement. No call back though so tempting... hmmmm.

This continues to be a hunting paradise for the shore captain as 'pinch me I'm dreaming' moments are becoming a daily reality. For example, he was hunting with one of the RCMP members posted here (a fellow Nova Scotian but a farmer not a fisherman so requiring some tutoring) and after shooting one goose, went out across the tundra to retrieve it and came back with four. Apparently it is a good idea to take your gun and shells when 'picking up' a local told me. Earlier this week one of the hunter/trappers asked to meet my husband (his marksmanship not going unnoticed) as they both had the same tally - so he most certainly is holding his own. They traded hunting info and it was a great male bonding exercise. Journeying out on the 4wheeler to local hills which are now covered with snow geese, the great white hunter is at about 35 and counting today. He has decided to shoot only a few as the opportunities vastly exceed his luggage allowance and pluck at least one in the field because plucking is becoming an issue. Although there is some carryover of roles (as in women do shoot) the northern culture designates males as hunters, women as sewing the clothing and preparing the food. There are lots of geese around and anyone who would pluck them...is. I could post photos of geese here but....you know what snow geese look like by now....

The only setback the in-house hunter has experienced is a bout of snowblindness, which you might expect from someone who has never lived north but...a few years in Labrador in the 70s apparently have faded from his memory. Last weekend with an overcast sky he had his sunglasses off on Sunday "for a little while" and I cautioned him about it as in "up here is more stark, no trees to buffer, more snow and more direct UV rays" which I'm sure he heard as Charlie Brown teacher's voice blah, blah, blah...I mean, what would a northern community health nurse know eh? So, on Monday he arrived home at suppertime (having had his sunglasses off for most of the afternoon)with very red, painful eyes and decreased vision so was in bed by 7 pm with sunglasses on and spent a couple of quiet days with eye gel, cold compresses and advil. Hard way to learn such a lesson but thankfully no lasting effects.

I've been telling folks that my roommate and I have a 'man servant' and I have to say this one must be trying to impress my coworker because after four decades it's not likely that it would work on me. No, that's not entirely true because... he washed my nurses scrubs (first time in the over 40 years we've been together) this week. I was speechless which is an uncommon event. He has been doing the shopping (important to get to the COOP as soon as a shipment of fresh milk/produce arrives and before it closes), cooking of suppers except for the occasional weekend night off, general maintenance and carrying of heavy objects. Retirement is certainly agreeing with him (and thus me) with my only complaint being that I've gained 2 lbs. Some of the excess is due to baking for our little family - we sound like 'sister wives' - with chocolate cookies, cherry squares and scones quickly consumed. 

Have been keeping myself occupied crocheting a small afghan to use up some of my northern stash, sewing soles on my Kugluktuk beaded slippers and finally finishing up my sealskin slippers where I've gotten as far as stitching the liners on the sewing machine which appeared in the apartment during my absence, and sewing the beaver trim on them - I promise photos of the completed projects with a future posting. Got out for a few walks this week, which is nice in the milder temperatures (it's running about 0c) but it is the beginning of mud season (even though there were big snowflakes in the full daylight last night at 3 am) so have to choose the route carefully. 

Off to make pizza for supper and perhaps a walk afterwards if the rain eases up...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Northern date night and more


Snow geese
So as I enjoy a sedate Sunday (on call but that is not a dangerous descriptor in this community during the spring goose hunt as the hamlet has emptied out of people this long weekend) with the shore captain having gone to play with his friends....I mean hunting with one of the RCMP members here, all is well. The geese are beginning to return on their annual migration and there are snow, Canadian, white fronted, ross and brant arriving daily. The local hunters are saying that this week will be the main overfly but, the hunter I brought with me has already seen and downed more geese than he would in a lifetime in the maritimes.
brown hills

Yesterday was my 'day off' from call so while the shore captain was hunting earlier I walked up to the airport to survey the snow melt and signs of spring. A few years ago when I asked a local hunter when the geese were expected to return, he answered "when the hills turn brown" which roughly translates to the end of May. Bingo!

COOP gas
With the receding of snow cover there is the eruption of various pieces of derelict machinery and the inevitable muck such as seen here on the left in front of
the 'gas station' with the office on the left and the pump station in the middle ..... Soon we will be dealing with the dry northern summer with clouds of dust when vehicles go by and clouds of insects as well, but I will have migrated myself when that occurs. Fortunate that we got out last week on the skidoo run to Cape Kellet as there wouldn't be enough now to make it a comfortable ride.

We had a date night, northern style, described as taking a run on the ATV with the shotgun (to scare away a polar bear should we encounter one) as far as the dump, which turned into goose hunting. Now although I've been with this guy for over 40 years, I haven't been goose hunting with him. Have been to camp while he's tended rabbit snares or was deer hunting hunting, but that involved occasional walks in the woods, keeping the wood fire going and having supper ready when he came back.We stopped the 4wheeler on the edge of the road and walked down through the cleft in the hills which runs to the shore known as Allen's Creek, an area geese are known to fly up through. With frantic gesturing and terse instructions to "get down, don't put your hands up, here they come" we watched various configurations of birds fly over and two came home with us. The rules for outsiders (non land claim beneficiaries) hunting on this island include only harvesting snow or ross geese within a 9 km area around the hamlet (no hunting in sanctuaries) and no egg collecting. With the large numbers (estimated between one and two million) of geese who are in the main flyover it is not the capturing but the plucking / preparing of geese which are the issue.

This week also saw the (delayed due to fog)  return of my job share partner - spring is an iffy time of year for northern air travel - and we have settled into our 'family' trio (not as polygamous as it sounds) with the life partner making sure that even if he is busy capturing the food that 'the ladies' are fed supper after work. Work is a relative term this time of year with the population having migrated 'out on the land' to the lakes for ice fishing, goose hunting and egg collecting. With the snow having left the roads it was necessary for the old guy to free the health centre ATV from the C can (shipping container) and get it started (getting to be quite a small engine mechanic) so now he has a country and an urban mode of travel.

It has been nice to catch up both professionally and personally with the job share partner as it's been about a year and a half since we did that. Long discussion with her about a more flexible working arrangement as in....casual, not locked into the job share schedule and I have promised to think about it. Not that she's trying to get rid of me, just stating that work gets in the way of vacations (so very true) and this would deal with the solution to not being ready to completely walk away yet. I'm chewing on that. So, time to make some chocolate chip cookies for my roomies. Later ....