Sunday, December 30, 2007

First some photo documentation of our Christmas Eve festivities here at the homestead with two of our own and their partners enjoying the gift opening. Here the prodigal son is demonstrating the use of the just received massager on his bunged up knee “oh man this is just what I need” to his sofa mates.

Am not sure if it’s the ending of one year and beginning of the next or just having a few days off and the house to myself to be able to look around at what needs doing but I’ve been organizing this week. This has meant a complete overhaul of scrapbooking supplies – and daydreams of pages to be created, reorganizing of card making supplies and the stashing of Christmas wrapping supplies. It has also brought the early planning for our travels which are only 30 days or four weekends away…. but who’s counting?

This week brought a visit at a friend’s house of another childhood friend down for a holiday visit from Dartmouth. Nice to have tea and warm sticky buns in great company and just think I’d have missed out if I were at work that afternoon. There’s been lots of time for dog walks and general puttering which is something I really miss with that Monday to Friday routine.

I spent one whole evening online tying up details for banking, photos, and email. Now if I just had high speed internet…but you don’t want to hear the whining about that!

Looking back over the past year it’s been overall a decent 365 days. We’ve sure seen years that I’ve been glad to have New Years Eve arrive to celebrate the end of it! On the positive side of the list on the home front we:
Sold our old house
Got flower beds built
Replanted flowerbeds and shrubs
Built a deck
Celebrated another offspring high school graduation / moving to university / doing well
Survived empty nest syndrome in fine style

Towards retirement, I:
Did research for cruise speaking by taking one in April
Purchased a laptop, did a PowerPoint of lobstering, presented /was filmed at the library
Managed to fit in a number of travel health consultations at work

Since this is the time for making resolutions I’ve been pondering a few and have decided that in 2008 I shall…. write at least two or three times per week. I’m not looking to pen the next great Canadian novel (like a quilt that’s too big a project), win writing contests (good thing with my track record this past year) or even freelance my work really (at least not until retirement as it takes more time and energy than I have). We all write for different reasons and I have decided that I want to record my thoughts for my family and since this could take some time I’d better get started. So I’ve decided to approach my life story (bit pretentious to call it an autobiography if you’re not a world famous persona) one yarn at a time and then organize them into a collection which is how I’ve chosen to get the pages done for the family scrapbook as it would be an overwhelming job to approach it as the complete project from beginning to end.

As the self-imposed deadline of New Years Day approaches for the tree coming down the felines are surely going to miss that bit of outdoors inside here. They have slept under it daily, removed the ornaments and lights, and drank from the water holder but as of this writing haven’t climbed it yet.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Greetings

I feel like I’m broadcasting the royal Christmas message except that there is no house staff here (pity) to have fed, cleaned, chauffeured and entertained the royal family. I’m taking a union break here to update you.

The Christmas Eve family celebration was a good tradition to create and will be repeated. We had our turkey supper at about 7 p.m. with all of us and partners totaling 10 and requiring the patio table be set up as well since our numbers have expanded. By the time we’d polished off the chocolate truffle cheesecake none of us had room for the chocolate fountain so that will have to wait for another holiday. After Mrs. Claus excused herself from dish duty to stuff the stockings we settled in for the unwrapping and it was great that we all got to spend the evening together rather than being torn by other familial obligations. We all received (and were pleased) with a great selection of beautiful and practical gifts – not a dud amongst the collection.

This morning we were able to sleep in then have a holiday breakfast before some of us headed out. The two youngest daughters and I headed into the nursing home to visit Mom where she was comfortable in the restraint chair but groggy from the pain meds. She managed to enjoy the maple cream candy that the youngest daughter brought for her from the Fredericton farm market. This was always a treat from her childhood, which she looked forward to. The Dr. visited yesterday and we had a conversation about her options as she has an older healed fracture and a new one from the 23rd, which is in fairly good alignment. As he said “I can find an orthopedic surgeon who will attempt to stabilize that hip but she won’t make it through the surgery” I am so pleased that we have sensible family doctors who know that sometimes doing the correct thing is the more conservative approach. And as he discussed her quality of life is limited, she spends a good deal of time in the chair as it is so whether she walks again or not will likely not be the issue it might be for someone else. So she is taking Tylenol with codeine, which allows her to sleep and pivoting on the good leg with non-weight bearing on the affected one as the pain causes her to cooperate thus far. The Manor staff is great – we are so lucky.

Today has been very mild at 12 c so certainly not a white Christmas but great for traveling. And since the girls and their partners are heading back to the city tomorrow it’s good there isn’t much of the white stuff.

Monday, December 24, 2007

One more sleep

Just time for a quick holiday update before I head off to bed thinking how nice it is that I’m not heading to work in the a.m. The offspring have been busy with social lives ranging from cantatas to concerts to just hanging out with friends. I’ve been content to just try and get things under control here. The tree was finally up and decorated by Saturday a.m. as we had the ‘in-laws’ party at our place last evening and it went well. We fed about 30 with both creamed lobster and turkey supper. With our hectic lives it is the only time that some of us get to see each other.

This morning I had a call from the nursing home saying Mom had fallen early in the morning and now was not weight bearing and was saying that she’d broken her hip so they were going to call and take her over to the Emergency Dept. at the hospital. I told them to let me know if someone needed to sit with her, as it would leave them short staffed at the Manor to stay with her. A while later the RN phoned back to say that the ER was really busy and wondering if I could stay with Mom. Since daughter #2 had my car in town, I phoned her and had her stay (good to have a proxy) during the wait for the Dr., then to x-ray where they couldn’t get a clear picture and finally sent back to the Manor on bed rest and Tylenol for the overnight and back for another x-ray tomorrow. There was talk of an ‘old fracture’ on the x-ray as goodness knows how many unwitnessed falls there’ve been - they are really good to watch her but she is determined to do her own thing. So plans are still up in the air but I’ll head in tomorrow to check out the situation. Just in case a trip to a regional facility to have ortho surgery is in the works I managed to get my act together with the stocking stuffers, dessert for tomorrow’s supper etc. It’s unlikely that anything would be booked with the holidays looming but…

The shore captain is just that now as he landed the remainder of his traps yesterday. Earliest they’ve been on the banking for quite a while. He’s certainly not alone in giving it up as his brother said last night “when I left the wharf yesterday it could’ve gone either way, bring them in or leave them out for a few more storms” Mister’s planning to buy some lobsters in the morning and should be finished by noon.

We’re planning our family Christmas tomorrow evening which is a return to the times when before we had children, we were working shift work and there was no reason to get up early Christmas morning in the harsh light of day to open presents. It was nice to light a fire in the fireplace and relax while opening stockings. Now since some of the gang are set up in their own households it makes sense to start some new traditions. It’ll also mean a more relaxing Christmas day for us here.

So my wish is that you should have a wonderful Christmas filled with peace, joy, family and friends. It appears with a forecast of heavy rain that the white Christmas we were looking to have will disappear.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

200 and counting

Yep, you read that right, I said 200 - that's the number of this posting. Not even a year yet and already at 200 so I have been a rather faithful correspondent.

Today was another snowy day. I am getting tired of those kind of drives home from work. I am also getting excited that tomorrow is my last work day before I have 11 days off. I was covering for two other of my work team, everyone is getting antsy to wrap up details before the holidays and stress levels are high.

At home the daughter retrieval went well with a return home at 1:45 a.m. so a short night for mister. There was a bit of scrambling last night on my part to accomodate all the offspring and their guests - suffice to say that most people aren't digging out camping mattresses at midnight. All this frenzied activity until Boxing Day and then they will be leaving en masse.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Daughter retrieval

As I update you on the state of affairs here, daughter #2 and father are enroute to pick up daughter #3 and her boyfriend who has (hopefully) retrieved her from the bus after her 12 hour commute from university. The sleeping father riding shotgun is due to the weather forecast for flurries turning to snow and the fact that although it’s warmed up somewhat the roads were slippery on his way home from the wharf - so he is the alternate driver should conditions worsen as we have yet another storm predicted beginning tonight. They will be back by 2 a.m. or so and then the fun starts. We’ve become unaccustomed to those midnight buffets of last summer so as the man of the house says “get braced”.

At work (as well as home etc) we’re into the countdown so the phone calls, emails and drop ins were never ending. I had committed to getting out a one page sort of newsletter by Friday for the team so that led me to looking for a title which took me to Cliché Finder where you just plug in the word you’re looking to use (such as bug in my case) here:

http://www.westegg.com/cliche/

Then on to Did you Know? which may be the uber trivia site of all time:

http://www.didyouknow.cd/

Or this Did you Know:

http://www.area51newmexico.com/page8.php

Which asks Did you know?...23% of all photocopier faults worldwide are caused by people sitting on them and photocopying their butts.

I ultimately decided to go with contacting my wordsmithing friend who had much better ideas than all of the above.

And finally this site which I have no explanation for except for being easily distracted:

http://www.blogthings.com/whatdoyoureallythinkofyourfriendsquiz/

I’m covering for two other team members for today and tomorrow so that didn’t help either. I am really looking forward to Friday p.m. when I lock the office door behind me for 11 whole days - yeehaw! Will catch you up tomorrow on the rest of the news.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No cards yet

I see that my last posting included a plan to get some Christmas cards done, well…. not yet. If I wait long enough I can send them early for next year. I learned lately that we are beginning to suffer from having continuous partial attention, which means we can’t do one thing at a time anymore but have to have continuous activity. In fact there is an acronym to describe increased activity …FRED as in Frantically Running Everywhere Doing everything – which this season seems to bring with it.

The most recent road trip went smoothly and I’m glad that is the last overnight journey until after the holidays. After arriving in the city following a snowy drive, I managed to coordinate attending the retirement party by taking a cab across the bridge. The cab driver told me he was originally from Columbia and when I asked what he did there he said “politician” and then followed up with “yes I’m a refugee here” He continued with a long list of reasons why Canada is a wonderful country – everything from the people, his apartment, his wife’s job, you name it – was great! When I arrived at the Cambridge Suites there was an impromptu cocktail party just beginning and then the retirement roast. The framed ballad (read by yours truly) and the ‘pimp hat’ were an enormous success, prompting someone to suggest a gold tooth, which was fashioned by the foil of the champagne bottle – great photo op. We headed up Spring Garden Road to Il Mercato:

http://www.il-mercato.ca/

and had a wonderful (as expected) supper. At last report the recipient was headed home to Cape Breton with the hat firmly on his head. .

The conference was very good but very long as it is broadcast from Orlando, Florida and so the time zone difference made for different breaks and a later conclusion. I was reminded that ‘muda’ is the Japanese word for waste that doesn’t add value in processes ex. hunting and gathering when looking for supplies. I also had reinforced that confirmation bias means you observe what you expect to ex. 13 could be a number or a
capital B. A highlight was a one-woman show by a performer called Sarah Jones who was amazing at creating at least a dozen characters with just a scarf or a jacket and great accents. Here’s the Wikipedia entry about her:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Jones_(stage)

We headed out to hit the mall for the evening as my co-worker is a shopping addict and then for supper to Boomerangs which is an Australian chain with amazing ribs. Yum. One of the best speakers was on the second day - Sister Mary Jean Ryan who is a CEO of a large chain of healthcare facilities in the US:

http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/newsfromnist_ssm052103.htm

Getting home at 7 p.m. put more time to be banked.

Thursday brought a trip to pick up daughter # 2 from university so a straight run from work got me there at 6 p.m. just as the exam writing ended and on the road. About an hour from home we hit the predicted snowstorm, which resulted in 40 – 50 km top speeds, as visibility was the pits. It was good to pull in the driveway.

When the cleaning lady arrived on Friday she was surprised to find a human home as she usually only shares the space with the cats. This was especially so as she’d decided to come in her pajamas but daughter # 2 assured her she was wearing them as well. I was reminded of the morning many years ago when I had chased the bus as the kids were late and managed to attract the driver’s attention so he stopped to let them on. Another mother pulled up behind us as well to let her daughter out when I noticed that Marg was wearing her flannelette nightdress so I thought I’d at least managed to get dressed.
Today I transported daughter # 2 out to visit with her older sister and they got some shopping and decorating done. I picked up some groceries and some last minute things and was home in time to take the dog for a very chilly walk. The temperature has already fallen to –11 c and it’s only 10 p.m. so it’s going to be a cool one.

Big weather, which has been pounding the US, is headed our way so boats will be in for a couple of days. Hopefully not too much loss of gear as this year will not be a good one to replace it. The lobster prices have risen a bit to $6 in anticipation of filling Christmas orders but aren’t expected to go up much more. The catches are down now so that most fishermen are landing some traps already. The shore captain had been trying to reach his boat, which is expected in the a.m., well actually he was expecting them the day before and they’ve stayed out to continue fishing and are getting in ahead of the predicted gales so he’d been a bit antsy as the cell was still out of range. I phoned them back (having been online – dialup – arggh) and it is always so reassuring to hear the trill of that diesel engine in the background when whoever is on watch answers meaning they’re steaming in and everything is okay mechanically. When I told the Captain he had a cold night to steam in he said, “been cold here all day” which in his mild way is quite an understatement.

And the quote of the day regarding research is “most things have been found sometimes to work”

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On the road again

Well another weekend is drawing to a close and although I should be getting some Christmas cards organized and in the mail I’m choosing to update you instead. My logic is that a number of you in the past would’ve gotten a card from me so this is an ongoing greeting. I am drinking eggnog as I type in a nod to the season. I’m going to be especially behind considering I’m not getting back from my work required road trip until late Wednesday evening. I’ve spent the weekend trying to catch up from last week and get ahead for the next as this is a particularly busy time of year – lobstering + holidays = hectic.

The road trip to Ledgehill (again) went pretty smoothly. I managed to stop off at Frenchy’s on the way up and did a power shop so that put me in a better frame of mind for strategic planning. The predicted snow turned out to be just a dusting, although there were a couple of feet in the valley so it looked like a Christmas card. The return trip made for a late evening but all the extra hours are being tallied for time in lieu to be used when I will be off December 21 – January 2nd. Into the countdown with only 11 days now until I’m off – yeehaw! A massage appointment on Friday ended the week on a nice note. I asked the price of sauna treatments at the spa and when I was told $20 each I calculated that 200 sessions would pay for our own – actually I think we’re well on our way there well at least with counting the sessions.

On Saturday I headed out to meet daughter # 1 at Tim Hortons and had a nice visit then stopped along the way for craft supplies, decorations, groceries, getting home just in time to take the dog for a stroll before dark. Met all kinds of folks I haven’t seen for ages, as I don’t travel out that way much now and generally made sure I wasn’t doing housework. Today I got busy and made casserole to leave for meals, two loaves of bread, pineapple cake and a batch of chocolate chip cookies as the prodigal son arrived for supper with tales of lobstering offshore. The short version is that mostly everyone is doing poorly and the weather’s the pits. So lunches for both father and son + suppers here are taken care of for the week. And the best part of the visit was that I convinced the Grinch to put up the Christmas lights – just rope lights around the columns by the doors – so now I will pick up a wreath for the front door and that’s the extent of the exterior decorating. Can’t see the place from the road anyway so best to go simple. Today was the likely the warmest one we'll get until the holidays as it was 10c.

I have just finished decorating a black leather fedora as a gag gift for a former colleague who is retiring from one of the school boards. I commissioned a poem from a local writer (very well done I might say) and have printed that out and framed it. Tomorrow evening I will connect with ‘the old gang’ as they are having a retirement dinner and with almost unbelievable serendipity we will all be in the city together. I’ve gotten a shower gift together for my friend’s son and will send that along for the event. Makes me almost look forward to my travel schedule of the coming week.

Some emails from our Cuban friends make me look forward to January in a way I usually don’t. This will be a slightly earlier than usual trip down for us so hopefully it won’t leave too much winter on the return end.

And to leave you with some new information I’m pasting the link to ehow – which is how to do just about anything:

http://www.ehow.com/

For example…how to tie a Christmas tree to a car – now this is a practical site!

And as well the link to the CBC site where Spark is a technology program – if you want to sound like you know all about new techie stuff this is the place:

http://cbc.ca/spark

There’s a good interview with Barbara Coloroso who is a parenting expert about technology, kids and trust. Enjoy

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

White stuff

It’s only Tuesday but already we’ve suffered through a couple of days of the white stuff and there’s more predicted for Wed/Thurs. Nothing to look forward to as I’m off to the valley for a meeting Wednesday and Thursday. Well, actually the debate is whether I’ll make it back on Thursday with the periods of snow predicted.

On Monday it started snowing early in the morning and didn’t let up except to change to almost rain which made the 4 p.m. drive home a real nightmare with about 25 cm of wet heavy snow down. The dashboard was lit up like a 747 as the anti-skid warning came on as I left the hospital and didn’t come off throughout my 45 km skivvying diagonally up and down all the hills in second gear between work and home with the 4 way flashers going drive which usually takes 25 minutes but was over 70 minutes (including the stop to call a tow truck for a half ton off the road) until I pulled into the driveway with much relief. Glad to finally be home and settled in it was the shore captain’s turn as there had been a power outage at the tank house he stores lobsters in so that was an until 10:30 p.m. evening for him with the electrician to wire the new (second one in 2 months and these suckers cost $1200) aerator pump – those crustaceans got to have oxygen – the power outage burned out the motor. I had a crafty evening where I sewed a fleece scarf, made some Christmas decorations and shortened the curtain in the sauna, which the resident carpenter had hung. And by late in the evening the rain had washed away most of the white stuff.

I had taken pity on the dog who usually spends the night in her doghouse letting her stay in due to the storm but...at 5:10 a.m. I was awakened by Keely chasing the cats (or rather Gary as he's the only one sociable to the dog thinking he is one) across the livingroom and then forgetting herself in the excitement a loud yelp. She was unceremoniously taken out to her run with a very smug feline audience of three watching - almost as if they'd planned it!

By this morning when I was supposed to head out to the district facility for a policy revision meeting the temperature had dropped and the road was like a sheet of glass. When my counterpart from the other end of the district elected not to chance the roads I took the same approach and headed into my own office and joined the meeting by teleconference. Can’t imagine how I thought I had time to be out of the office, I never stopped. It would’ve been nice to avoid all the staff unrest and small p politics but that’s just dreaming on my part. I’m thinking that avoiding that angst will be the best part of retirement!

The bad weather of the past two days has come with wind as well so no lobstering. This has been one cruddy start to the season and the price isn’t even an issue yet as no one has enough landings to consider selling. Tomorrow, although it’ll likely still be rough, is sounding like a day to haul traps so my domestic duties are completed - the lunch is made and supper in the fridge – I’m free to travel for work. If I can get away early enough I may have some time for shopping on the way, which will be a nice diversion.

So in the big countdown three weeks from today will be Christmas. How did that happen so soon? Guess that means this weekend will be spent getting some cards in the mail and some baking done for when those girls get their exams finished and head home.

And on a completely different topic – the online report that a casino mogul from Macau had bid $330,000 for a giant white truffle (the ones from the ground) from Tuscany weighing 3.3 lb. brought the quote of the day “$100,000 per pound for a mushroom - proof that being rich does not guarantee against being stupid...” I always suspected that it actually made it more likely – you know more money than brains – I have that problem but in reverse.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Countdown begins

What a productive weekend. You would think that would make me want to me go back to work but it’s had the opposite effect, making me want to continue all with all my crafting, baking, decorating etc. We’re predicted to have snow for tomorrow, perhaps mixed with rain depending on the temperature so that’s really something to look forward to as you head back into another work week. Considering there are two road trips planned before Thursday this could get interesting. Apparently a colder than usual winter is forecast with the lowest temperatures since 1994 so the travel agents are expecting to be busy with folks planning their escape.

The cats have had a busy weekend too as you can tell from the photographic proof. When I got up yesterday I was trying to figure out what the red spot was in the middle of the chess game on the windowsill when I realized it looks like they were playing chess and one of them dropped their catnip mouse in the middle of the board. Then last evening when I was sewing a tree skirt for daughter # 1 I had the help of not one but three feline seamstress assistants. What is it about cats and material that attract? I kept on sewing and made myself a new tablecloth as I gave the older (larger) one to the first-born daughter. Then curtains for the sauna door as mister has decided it will be more energy efficient and they have curtains at the sauna salon.

In between all this I dragged down the Christmas decorations, reorganized the walk in closet and then decorated the house. This all has to be done when the Grinch is lobstering as he mutters and complains. If he comes home to find it done he won’t dismantle but certainly won’t agree to me doing it. And as for getting those exterior rope lights put up around the columns by the doors well don’t hold your breath.

The process was started by an email from daughter # 2 reminding me that December 1st was the beginning of the countdown meaning the bear wall hanging had to be up – always the start of the holiday decorating here. This is a quilted wall hanging from circa 1985 with a bear that is moved from room to room searching for Christmas until he finds it in the living room under the tree on December 24th. This used to cause children to get up early to be the one to move the bear and in-house disputes about who’s turn it was to move the bear. This is the first year in 22 that there won’t be any Nickerson children to ‘move the bear’ so I suggested that the lobster fisherman would have to do it when he got up in the morning however this was met by a snort. When I attempted to find the dowel to hang the wall hanging up with he protested saying “there aren’t even any kids here this year, you’re not going to put that up are you?” So I reminded him that I’d had explicit instructions from one of them and the others would notice as well so he would have to answer to them. He sighed in defeat.

I dropped over to visit with daughter # 1 and deliver the tree skirt and some of her ‘stuff’, which I retrieved from cleaning out the old place. Nice to see her in her natural environment, although it’s taken me quite a while to get there with all the frantic extra curricular activities here.

Lobster catches continue to be low in the whole district, some places worse than others. Mostly the catches are less than ½ of last year and combined with the low U.S dollar this will not go down as a strong year. There really hasn’t been much of a chance to tell yet as it’s been so windy and rough for the past week so they’ve only hauled four times in District 33 and twice in 34. Not whining, just stating facts when you work in a harvesting natural resource industry these things happen. Mind you, fishermen are eternal optimists and the Capt. of the house suggested this would make more time to go back to camp, as traps will be landed earlier this year. As we were discussing the situation it was decided that last year was worse when the hired man was lost overboard while putting off traps on the first day (and successfully retrieved thank goodness) and with a larger boat, which couldn’t get in around the rocks.

To leave you with a smile here is my favorite crabby old lady – Maxine

Friday, November 30, 2007

Closing Date

To continue with the theme - the only marine malfunction yesterday was....rope in the wheel. There were six fishermen with the same problem at the wharf and one of them is a diver who had a tank of air so he decided he'd dive on all the boats and make more than he had lobstering. The catches are down significantly from last year. Not sure if it's due to the rough weather or just a poorer year but the landings dropped 10 crates (100 lbs in a crate) so that's 1000 lbs from first to second haul for the Capt. in this house. Today was the first haul for District 34 and the reports aren't sounding much better as the catches were worse than 33 and they have a higher trap limit. It was a really gusty one out there on the water today as well which always makes the low catches tougher to take.

Finally able to say we only own one house now, as today was the closing date on the old house. There we were last night dragging the rest of the 'stuff' out of the place just before the rain started and finally realizing we are saying goodbye to it. So this sign that has been out front for almost two years (minus that lovely SOLD on the top) has disappeared. Last night the two of us former owners had lobsters for supper and polished off the champagne, which my cruise mate’s friend – Mario Salcedo, Man of Mystery from Miami - had given us as a gift. After decompressing in the sauna we were both in dreamland by 9 p.m.

I had left a confused voice mail message after supper for the baby daughter at university as they have a voice mail message which involves yelling, laughing, music and some unladylike language with a Newfie accent – it sounded like a party going on so I tentatively left a message. Answering the phone to daughter # 3 returning my call I remember somewhat having a conversation and hopefully not promising too many things I can’t deliver. Her father did not hear either the phone or the conversation so at least I was somewhat conscious. She explained that Ashley (her roommate from near St. Johns) was “pretending to be a Newfoundlander and that was her bad language” and that I sounded like I didn’t know what voice mail was, had I ever heard voice mail before? Now in my stuporous state even I thought ‘how can you pretend to be a Newfoundlander if you are one?’ This morning in a more alert manner I addressed the issue in email and received the following reply just now “and yes the answering machine is rediculous (she obviously spells like her father not her mother)...I didn't buy the machine so I have no say in it.” but I digress.

Tomorrow is the local Well Women’s Clinic so I’m off to have all my aging parts checked out. How exciting!



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mechanical malfunction du jour

Today was the first haul of the lobster season in District 33 and again it was a day of mechanical mishaps. Apparently the controls of the hydraulic system used to haul traps began overheating after just a few pots were boarded and by 9 a.m. only 34 traps had been checked. A call to the machine shop and the mechanic was waiting at the wharf to check if it was safe to continue (it was) and he returned again at 4 pm as they arrived at the wharf to install a new control arm. It seems that the system was changed when switching the boat over last spring for fishing. So this made for another long day with supper at 7 p.m. and the request for a mat from the old house (to soak up the hydraulic fluid as this stuff makes a fiberglas floor like a skating rink – not a good combination in rough seas).

So while doing mat retrieval I took the opportunity and dragged some of the remaining treasures from the house to the barn with the truck as the real estate agent had called today to discuss last minute closing arrangements for Friday (the champagne is chilling). Meanwhile the man discussed the state of the lobster fishery while decompressing in the sauna – not only decadent he says but great for rubbing in to the other lobster buyer he was chatting with. He quickly collapsed into bed and the snoring began within 3 minutes – not his personal best but not bad!

Tomorrow is the first day of the season in District 34 as it was delayed for weather so the boats are permitted out at 5 a.m. to set traps. I was eavesdropping on the Capt. of the house giving last minute instructions to his 20 yr old invincible son on safety for tomorrow “now you be careful, just stand back and let it go, look out for yourself on deck with all those trawls, yes I know you’re smart aboard the boat and you’ve gone down here with just two of you but this is a whole new game up there, just watch yourself Bub ok?” I smiled as I thought of the discussions he and his own father used to have during lobstering and realized (although it’s been thus for a few years) the cycle has been completed again. As I commented on the fatherly instructions he grinned and said that he’s sure the father of the Capt. is having the same chat with him this evening as in “you watch out for those boys on deck there” as the Capt. is under 30, and the other hired man is no more than 25. Mind you all these lads have been lobstering since they were small – our son used to go in the boat with his father at age 3 with a rope tied to his lifejacket fastening him to the edge of the wheelhouse. Try to stop him from getting in the truck headed to the wharf and it wasn’t pretty.

Yesterday I stopped at the library for a friend’s husband who was waiting for a book he’d ordered in. Apparently he was less than impressed with the vampire novel he was reading called Fangland – I thought who could have guessed from a title like that eh? My friend had little sympathy stating “Anyone who requests a book called Fangland, then is disappointed in it deserves it”

In a nod to nurse humor (as there are a few of that job description in the loyal blog reading list) this was forwarded by an OHN colleague:

A highway patrolman was rushed to the hospital with an inflamed appendix. The doctors operated and advised him that all was well.However, the patrolman kept feeling something pulling at the hairs in the lower body.Worried that it might be a second surgery the doctors hadn't told him about, he finally got enough energy to pull his hospital gown up enough so he could look at what was making him so uncomfortable.Taped firmly across his pubic hair were three wide strips of adhesive tape, the kind that takes everything with it when you pull it off.Written in large black letters across the tape was the sentence:'Get well quick..... From the nurse you gave a ticket to last week.'

Off to a meeting at the district facility tomorrow in what will likely be a long day. At least I’m physically recovered (if not mentally) to deal with it – tonight was the first time in over a week that we managed a walk and the poor dog had almost forgotten what the leash looked like.

I’ll put Maxine on hold one more evening as I share a cat cartoon that baby daughter sent along – guess where she’s studying the class bit tickled her fancy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A busy night

Well, my first full day at work in the past 10 days and it sure felt like 10 days in itself. Everyone had something they’d like me to do, the emails were stacked up in the inbox, the phone didn’t quit and I am still not 100% so it was a struggle. The following consultant joke I received from my birthday twin, which made me smile, also reminded me of the system I work in:

A lesson on how consultants can make a difference in an organization. Last week, we took some friends to a new restaurant, "Steve's Place,"and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange. When the busboy brought our water and utensils, I observed that he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket.Then I looked around and saw that all the staff had spoons in theirpockets. When the waiter came back to serve our soup I inquired, "Whythe spoon?""Well, "he explained, "the restaurant's owner hired Andersen Consulting to revamp all of our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour.If our personnel are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he replaced it with his spare. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now." I was impressed. I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's fly.Looking around, I saw that all of the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So, before he walked off, I asked thewaiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?""Oh, certainly!" Then he lowered his voice. "Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also learned that we can save time in the restroom. By tying this string to the tip of our you-know-what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39%. I asked quietly, "After you get it out, how do you put it back?""Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the others, but I use thespoon."

Last night was a very busy shift here in this house with lots of folks arriving and leaving all night. The boat had to be put on the slip at 10 p.m. followed by a call by the #1 son’s girlfriend asking where he was, followed by her mother asking where she was, followed by the arrival of both of them. Then there was the father and son departure at 4 a.m. to remove the prop, followed by a call at 5 a.m. asking for the phone number of a local small time crook who fishes in the area – this later turned out to be because the ‘word on the street’ was that he had a tool called a wheel puller. Well if he had one (which it turns out he didn’t) it wouldn’t have been his or he’d have been using it to lift brass props (which are quite expensive per lb.) And anyway I managed in my sleep induced / middle aged vision state to give the Capt. the wrong phone number (meaning he woke some other poor person up at that hour) so he phoned right back and I found the correct one before crashing unconscious back to bed. Apparently after another missed lead and then a correct tip a wheel puller was located but by then…. the tide had risen so the wheel couldn’t be removed. A return home at 6 a.m. to put soaked clothes in the dryer, boots in the boot dryer (greatest invention ever made) and cold feet on the wife (½ hr before she had to get up for work) before falling sound asleep completed the scenario.

Apparently early this a.m. another fisherman offered a replacement prop, which fit exactly and so the game continued. The prodigal son continues to be of excellent assistance, which has been a gift. If he’s chosen a week in which to act very mature this was a great one. As I mentioned to his father “it’ll be harder to deal with when the other boot drops though”. It was a daylong group effort to remove the damaged wheel and replace it, which was finally accomplished by suppertime with plans for the son to take the boat off the slip and over to the wharf at midnight tonight. The weather was really stormy today so there was no loss of a day to haul traps and they’re ready to go for the morning. Certainly a hectic start to the season but a better outcome than others I can think of. So the lunch is made, breakfast and dry clothes are laid out for 4 a.m. and the cycle continues.

As a positive note to the day there was an email with news from the baby daughter of a mark of 71% on her first nursing term paper, which by any measure is not too shabby as she’s just learning how to be a nursing student. But combined with the explanation that there was a 46% fail rate (the prof must be a real hard nut) it was excellent! Her grammar is much improved on her English papers as well so lots of progress.

As well since I received a great holiday collection of Maxine cartoons (my all time favorite cranky old lady) I’ve decided to share them one per day in the lead up to the season. Enjoy.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Update on The Frantics

Here it is Monday night and I’m just finally getting myself together to update you on the life of the Frantics aka us.

Firstly I ended up taking Friday off work as well as Thursday and although I was feeling a bit better as the antibiotics kicked in I still wasn’t up to speed. First time in donkey’s years I can remember being off work sick for three days. I managed to get myself into the office to pick up supplies for today with the man of the hour as chauffeur while we ran the last minute errands of signing the deed at the lawyers, library books picked up (if you get a chance to read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella it’s a great read – I managed to get through it in one evening), some groceries for lunches etc. By Saturday I was starting to come around a bit with the cough settling and by Sunday I was actually able to taste food, which I’d eaten. Enough whining though.

Saturday was more getting ready for lobstering and a delayed supper while we (myself, life partner, #1 son and his girlfriend) emptied the old house of the final furniture to be saved for offspring setting up housekeeping. The plan was to store it in one of our summer neighbour’s barn and that would sound pretty straightforward except for the fact that her new antitheft devices on the barn doors (padlocks which stuck and metal bars bolted into place with 9/16” nuts) meant that we even had trouble negotiating them. Anyone contemplating a B&E there had better have a couple of days to spare. We finally managed to get the doors opened (and resecured) with all the treasures safely stowed until the spring.

Sunday since I was much recovered I spent about 5 hours finally dragging the final remnants of the yard sale junk into the old barn from the old house so there are only refundables and some odds and ends of tools in the porch, on the veranda and the garden shed. Since the closing isn’t until Friday I just might make the deadline. I brought the cradle, which their father made for our four children over to store in our bedroom and put it at the foot of the bed. When I got up in the night to go the bathroom I saw two little faces looking back at me from the cradle and after my initial confusion of thinking I had twins, I realized the cats had taken up residence there. Whew.

Sunday was also the final push on for last minute getting ready for lobstering and thank goodness that the son of the house (for some unknown reason and we’re not questioning) has stepped up to the plate and made sure his father was ready to go. He’s smart with tools, not afraid of work and likes to tell people what to do so he naturally falls into the role of wannabe Capt when his father is otherwise occupied and…when it suits him. On Sunday afternoon with the boat loaded with almost a full load of traps it became stuck on sand near the wharf and required a real effort to free it. The adrenaline rush was not good for the old fellas nerves. That coupled with the memories of last years first day when he lost (and retrieved thankfully) the hired man overboard while putting traps off was enough to cause a sleepless night (for both of us due to the restlessness) in anticipation last night.

And apparently the Sunday grounding resulted in (according to a diver who had a look today because the wheel was acting up) damage to all four blades of the prop. So this had necessitated grounding the boat out tonight at 10 p.m. and a return trip at 4 a.m. to take the wheel off followed by a trip to Chester to have it repaired tomorrow. The weather forecast is rotten for tomorrow so that makes it the best day for necessary repairs. Not a great start to the season but not unusual either and at least the traps are in the water although it was a snotty day and the damage noted before it caused more problems. The season was delayed in District 34 so they’ll start on Thursday because of the poor weather forecast.

I was off to the district facility today but I ran out of steam (and enthusiasm for all the arguing and tension) by 1:30 p.m. and headed home early. It’s not often that I manage to actually shorten my day by an hour so I saw the chance and took it. I was relieved to find that a second trip (one of three scheduled this week) was cancelled for tomorrow so at least I can catch up on all my absence-induced work waiting for me in my own little office.

Speaking of being behind….If you’re looking to have a little holiday panic attack this is a cute website to check out:

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze201j5/countdown.htm

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm sick

Since I think I’m going to make it now, I’ll update this posting. I wasn’t so sure this morning. I woke up coughing, with a temperature and really painful sinuses so I didn’t make it to the Tri-District meeting and spent my morning in the Emergency Room. This was followed by a trip to the pharmacy to pick up antibiotics and nasal spray for my sinusitis and bronchitis. I’m hoping that by tomorrow afternoon I’ll be on the mend when the drugs kick in. I’m not very good at being sick as I don’t do it all that often and am too busy to slow down. I’m not planning on heading into work tomorrow in the hopes I’ll be straightened away for Monday when I have to do the orientation program. Anyway, enough whining.

This is a busy weekend in this household (as well as many others) as final preparations for lobster season opening on Monday are underway. There was a mechanical breakdown of one of the boats so the shore captain and #1 son have been kept busy and fetching parts and assisting diesel mechanics on top of all the other tasks. Add to this the final details for the house closing and it’s ratcheted up to frantic. I’m thinking I shall hire a neighbourhood boy to move furniture should it not fit into the marine schedule.

And the quote of the day is:

"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mid week Break Presentation

According to how well today went I'd say the middle day of the week is a good day to take off. I headed out early to do some in person banking and then meet daughter #1 for the trip to the library.

There were 12 in the audience and the lady organizing said 10 was a usual number. Mostly retired folks who all heartily endorsed being retired and advised I should try it - if only I could. The presentation went well, the brown bread was a hit, they asked lots of questions, smiled in the appropriate places and thanked me at the end saying they'd enjoyed it. My voice managed to hang in for the duration but I still sound terrible. The videographer is going to edit the material down to about a 30 minutes DVD after I give her the CD of photos I used for the PowerPoint. I'm aiming for January to have it ready to send off to an agent so perhaps a springtime cruise will be available.

Daughter # 1 and I headed down to the Old World Cafe which is a Greek bakery - great sandwiches - for lunch. Then off to check out scrapbooking supplies and crafts before heading over to WalMart to pick up some essentials. She took home KFC for supper so we were bathed in the fried chicken aroma by the time we made it back. All in all a very successful day.

I was making supper when the phone rang and the number in the call display was the Alzheimer Unit of the nursing home my Mom lives in. Fearing staff were phoning to say she'd fallen or wasn't feeling well I quickly picked up the receiver. To my amazement my mother's voice clearly called me by name and asked how I was. I stammered a surprised "fine" reply with my hoarse voice but I heard her say to the staff member with her "you dialed the wrong number this is some man" as she walked away from the phone. The PCW who had dialed said "she asked to talk to you and wanted me to call so I phoned and then she couldn't hear you, my goodness what is the matter with your voice you do sound like a man?" I told her I hadn't been in to visit because of this 'bug' but that she had absolutely made my day with that great surprise. We both had a good chuckle at the circumstances.

Off to a Tri-District Infection Control meeting (sounds riveting doesn't it?) tomorrow which means a road trip. I'm being picked up which means I don't have to drive but don't have as much control about my schedule and it promises to be a long day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wish me luck

A quick update to say that I'm heading up to the library to do my presentation for filming as my audition for the cruise ship speaking application. It's entitled 'Come lobstering with me off Southwestern NS' and I've got quite a nice slide show of lobster photos courtesy of daughter # 1 who incidentally is coming with me for the trip. I have made brown bread to go with the presentation working on the assumption that if you feed them they will come. The slides will take me about 25 minutes if I stick to the notes which anyone who knows me understands is highly unlikely. The Midweek Break runs from 12 to 1 p.m. so lots of room for questions.

The main glitch is that I'm still struggling with this rotten cold which has affected my throat and voice. Hope it holds out tomorrow at least until 1 p.m. I can live with the sinus headache and the fact that I've just about overdosed on decongestants and put myself on the liver transplant list for all the tylenol I've popped the past couple of days but to put myself on 'voice rest' you know it's been bad. To think I've taken a day off tomorrow and would qualify for a sick day by any measure.

Wish me luck with my travel scheming and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hectic schedule = cold

Since today is Monday and my last update was Wednesday p.m. there may be questions as to my whereabouts. Well, lets see what’s been going on in the past five days.

Thursday was the drive to the city for the infection control conference with a built in allowance for a stop at a Wal-Mart to do a bit of pre holiday shopping. Nice to browse when you’re not exhausted from work and just running in to pick up an essential item. Made it to the hotel by noon and the afternoon sessions were great. I learned from the social marketing presentation that the three topics (in no particular order), which sell in advertising, are…sex, puppies and babies – not necessarily in the same ad. Had supper with a colleague and headed to the wine and cheese, which was part of the conference. We decided if we’d known we could’ve skipped the supper and vacuumed the buffet, as it was extensive. A couple of sponsored drinks by the vendors and then the talk turned to supper (again courtesy of the vendors) and I’m so easily influenced that I allowed myself to be persuaded to go out with the education committee and the sponsors (instead of going to bed as I should have) to a beautiful restaurant / wine bar called Seven. Here check it out for yourself:

www.sevenwinebar.com

In the morning when it was time to roll out of bed for the sessions I regretted my social butterfly status. The topics were great on Friday and one of the presenters was spontaneous enough through a power outage to ask us sit by the fire and have a chat while imagining the photos he’d brought. The drive home was brutal with wind and rain and I was wiped when I arrived at 8 p.m. Nice to take in these events but nice to be home.

Saturday was a day to catch up on domestic chores and then the life partner accompanied me (as my female date was a single mom who had a sick child) to see Ron James at Th’Yarc that was a stop in his Full Tilt tour. Ron was great as usual and I for one could certainly use the laugh. Sunday I woke up feeling rotten with a terrible cold – if I were male it would be terminal I know. We headed back to the city and stopped at the large Paderno sale at the Forum – if you’re ever looking for good discounts you should take this in. Then we were off to see Jesse Cooke at the Rebecca Cohen Arts Center and he was amazing as always. We ate at Mezzas on Quinpool Road, which has the best Lebanese food we’ve ever eaten. Yum, we will go back again. It was another late night.

I most certainly did not want to get up for work this morning but since I wouldn’t be back in the office until Friday, there were some tasks, which couldn’t wait until then. So I dragged my carcass in and managed to last the morning. Stopping at the Registry of Deeds and then the lawyer’s office for last minute property sale tasks I was home by 1 p.m. As the man rigging gear outside the barn said “you really did give it up - you wuzzie” when he found me home early. I think he was concerned that I was desperately ill, as I usually don’t give in.

I crawled up on the couch and in between the telemarketers waking me with phone calls I didn’t answer and the cats and dog all trying to position themselves on me at various times I had a restless nap. The most worrisome part of my cold is that it’s affected my voice and I sound terrible – and my lobster fishing presentation is the day after tomorrow! I’m hitting the honey and tea pretty hard and have imposed voice rest on myself. Am heading shortly to fire out the toxins in the sauna and call it an early evening.

The quote of the day is:
The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. William Wordsworth

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New oil tank

As of today we (or rather the prospective buyers) have a new oil tank and completely new lines. The installation was completed by the installer who was finally blessed by Dept of Environment & Labour as certified to a certain number of liters of tank installation. As I mentioned to the DOEL minion who called me to follow up that this detail should be listed on their website to prevent harassment of qualified tradespersons. The poor installer was desperately searching for his credentials last weekend; he did manage to locate his insurance papers but was begging forgiveness of the man of the house when he couldn’t find his certificate. I’m sure he’s thinking he’ll be so pleased to be rid of that crazy woman this guy has been mixed up with so many years.

Tonight daughter # 1 arrived, cooked supper and then took her turn sorting through stuff at the old place. She left with a car full of treasures a short while later. So progress is being made. There are plans to temporarily store a couch and desk for daughter # 2 in the summer neighbours barn until the spring. The man of the house has been given the list of large objects to be moved and the deadline of lobstering looms large as he ticks off the days. Deadlines are always a good thing for procrastinators and packrats.

There was a tragedy on the south coast of NB where the lobster fishery opened yesterday with the loss of a Captain when a vessel sank. As well an RCMP officer was buried with a full regimental funeral after he was shot on duty in the north. For the years that the life partner was a policeman he never once left the house for work that I didn't wonder if I'd see him again. There are just so many crazies in the world and so much unpredictable human behavior. Yet for all the years he's made his life on the water there have only been a handful of occasions when I've been mildly alarmed when the weather changes or he's overdue for some reason. Somehow it seems more manageable that it's him against the elements and he stands more of a chance. And he rationalizes that he's at more of a risk driving to the wharf than on the ocean.

I’m off in the morning to an infection control conference in the city. If I’d been more organized, less into settling the house, and more interested in shopping (Christmas or otherwise) then I might have gotten myself together to travel down with my work team member who headed down at noon today. But with only one day this week in the office the thought of scaling that back to ½ day just didn’t seem to work as well as the fact I’d be heading down almost 24 hrs early than required. Maybe with the house sale settled I’ll feel more inclined to holiday planning.


The winter vacation plans continue to firm up as we received confirmation from our ‘Cuban family’ of the dates of our stay. This is usually accompanied by a wish list – often headed by footwear with the required sizes. Makes the planning seem more official. Well off to pack if not for a sunny location at least an overnight with a built in wine and cheese party in the evening.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mmmm chocolate

You would think if this were the first time you’d read this blog that it was about food. Well…. today it is. I’m including the recipe for a great chocolate cake, which I got from freerecipes.com and it’s been a hit even with the in-house critic so that should tell you something.

Chocolate Everywhere Cake
Chocolate lovers will be cutting a slice of pure heaven when they taste this dish.


IngredientsMoist Chocolate Cake:

2 cups flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 cup milk

2/3 cup oil

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt


Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Chocolate Drizzle:

1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Chocolate Garnishes:

1 (1-ounce) square sweetened chocolate

1 teaspoon sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder


InstructionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or one 13 x 9-inch baking pan.


For Moist Chocolate Cake, mix flour, sugar, milk, oil, cocoa powder, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes completely.


For Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, cream the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is smooth. Spread over cooled cakes.


To make the Chocolate Drizzle, melt the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Serve warm, drizzled over frosted cakes.


To make chocolate curls, use a potato peeler to shave off long pieces of the chocolate bar.


Presentation Idea: Place a slice of cake upright on a dessert plate. Use the chocolate drizzle to make a crisscross pattern over the cake and the center of the plate, leaving the plate’s edges clean. Sprinkle the cocoa powder around the plate’s edges. Top the slice of cake with a few strategically placed chocolate curls.


Serving quantity: Serves 8.


I also get a posting for the word of the day and the history of that word and you guessed it, on one day last week – the word is chocolate. Do you see a theme here? Here’s the scoop on it:


chocolate - podictionary 639 Posted: 08 Nov 2007 11:01 PM CST


For thousands of years in Central and South America natives used the beans of the cacao tree as a kind of food. One of these foods was a drink called xocolatl, a word that meant “bitter water.” If you’ have ever chomped down into a chunk of unsweetened cooking chocolate you’ll know, in part, why this stuff was called bitter. Their drink actually contained other things besides cacao but the Spaniards who learned about the stuff from the natives associated the two words closely enough that there has been confusion ever since. The Spanish were pretty keen on chocolate, so much so that they set up plantations and produced the stuff for Spanish use for 100 years before other parts of Europe figured out what they were up to. Throughout this time chocolate meant exclusively a drink. Chocolate started being added to things like baked goods in the 1600s but it wasn’t until the 1800s that processing of chocolate was advanced enough that the sort of bonbons we might recognize began to become available. Today the market for chocolate is a multibillion dollar international trade. Back in 1664 Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary about enjoying chocolate at a coffee house. Over the last decade or more we’ve seen a proliferation of coffee houses that sell fair trade coffee. And now fair trade is being tried for chocolate as well. Something like 40% of the world’s chocolate comes from Ivory Coast in Africa, but this is not a place where stable government and human rights flourish, despite how healthy the cacao trees might be. Clashes between government and rebel forces have been forcing chocolate prices up even as both government and rebels extract their operating funds from the bottom end of the chocolate industry, the cacao growers and harvesters. So next time you get a hankering for that rich and delicious flavor of chocolate, see if you can get your hands on some fair trade chocolate. It’ll make the taste even less bitter.
There now - wasn't that a lot better than reading a rant about what a crappy day I had? Chocolate makes everything better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Sunday without power

I had started to update this blog on Saturday evening as the very large wet snowflakes you can see here looking across to my summer neighbour’s place were beginning to fall but…. unfortunately the power went out. That was about 6 p.m. and we didn’t get our power restored until sometime in the night on Sunday about 28 hrs later. I wasn’t impressed with a second Sunday in a row where I couldn’t get caught up on the domestic duties for the week ahead. Everyone around us had power by 8 a.m. on Saturday so that made me even more ticked off. Good thing I had today off for the Remembrance Day holiday to get the chores done.

The wet snow combined with a bit of wind played havoc with the trees and thus wires. It’s hard to see in this shot of the old place but there are three large limbs which have snapped off and two wires which are likely cable and/or telephone that are pulled right off from the house and laying almost on the ground. We got at least 3 or 4 inches (maybe more it packed down quickly) of heavy wet white stuff and it made driving treacherous. There weren’t any plows on the road until middle of the night as they weren’t ready to go yet for the season.

The shore captain had three boats in to unload ahead of the wind and so climbed on the forklift at the wharf at 6:00 a.m. and off at 6:30 p.m. only to head to CSI with a load of fish on the ton truck. On the return trip he elected not to detour back to the plant to pick up his 4-wheel drive (big mistake) as the visibility and road conditions were terrible and thus couldn’t make it up the hill about 5 km from home as he had no weight on. He was on his fourth unsuccessful attempt when he was rescued by a local Good Samaritan more commonly known by his nickname Mountain Man who told him to park his truck and delivered him safely home at 8:45 p.m. for a candlelit supper which thankfully was still holding the heat in the oven. Sunday was the very low-key day minus power with books to read and another candlelit repast. You’d think we were romantics at this rate.

I did get a chance to pretty much finish rooting through the attic at the old place and found some ceramic Easter eggs I’d made for the kids years ago and some reference books himself was quite pleased with. This was the reward for braving the cobwebs and dragging the bags of antique magazines to the garbage bin. Only two more weekends to go for this part of the routine. The oil tank is to be installed this week and yes the installer assures my other half that he is certified and insured and supposedly is producing his documents to the realtor. Meanwhile Dept of Environment and Labour have left me a message saying that there are only two certified installers listed and he isn’t one of them – as if I can’t read the website, what do you suppose I phoned to check for? My nerves.

I’m off to the district facility tomorrow for what promises to be an activity packed day of meetings, orientation sessions and catching up. I’m in the office on Wednesday and then off to the city for two days of meetings on Thursday and Friday. This weekend will be an active one for the social life with a show by Ron James (comedian) on Saturday and a trip to the city to see Jesse Cooke (classical guitarist) in concert on Sunday. If time permits there is talk of taking in the NS Designer Crafts Show, which is a juried show of carvings, furniture, etc. Lots of articles the shore captain could make if…he didn’t bother to include eating and sleeping in his schedule.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The spa

Today was a day of angst in my workday world. Within a space of 5 minutes there was a situation where I told a staff member to wear gloves when handling a patient's money which had been stored in the safe (routine practices require wearing gloves when in contact with body fluids) Ick. One of the more usually genial cleaners gave a real tongue lashing to the staff for not taking linen off the bed of a patient discharged. Then one of the staff witnessed a verbal attack of a patient by a family member. It's never good when a coworker says "I don't want to have to repeat that in court". When the clock slowly crawled around to an acceptable time to head out the door I felt as if I'd been released from custody.

I got a call back from the masseuse today who had an appointment after work and I took it. This was a switch for me as the former massage therapist was not as intense but this was great - I think she lengthened my arms by about 2 inches after she released my shoulders. She suggested a hot shower or bath to 'release the toxins' and I said "I think I'll sit in the sauna" when she learned I had my own little spa she endorsed that idea and off I went - booking an appointment for next month first of course. After preheating the sauna and a quick supper I was ready to be detoxified. I opted for jazz on the sirius radio station (as opposed to the man of the house choice of Jethro Tull) and am so relaxed at present it's too much work to put the fingers to the keys.

This will give me courage to head over tomorrow and sort and toss at the old place. I grabbed some boxes from a shipment to VON so there's plenty of opportunity to store precious junk for a charity planning a yard sale.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A long weekend coming up

Tomorrow is Friday and it’s a long weekend due to Remembrance Day so difficult to top that for positive. But the cleaning lady has called to say she’ll be in first thing so that’s pretty close. This call has led to a flurry of laundry, dishwasher unloading, cleaning of litter box and general picking up that would not occur except for the imposed deadline. Since I will doing more than a little sorting, tossing and dragging of artifacts from the old house this weekend having a sparkling domicile to return to will be comforting.

Today at work involved whining, outbursts, disorganization and that was all me – the employees weren’t too happy either. At one point around noon when I was being firmly chastised by a manager who did not approve of my advocacy for an employee I felt the overwhelming urge to reach across the table and lay the smack down then walk out into the sunshine. I swear that I could have done it and not looked back. I managed to picture the two trusting faces of those university student offspring who are working so hard and who will need tuition in January and I held back. One of the admin support folks instructed me “in with the good air, out with the bad” is the approach she uses with this individual. As I was telling my work troubles to the life partner while I unpacked the $200+ worth of groceries I’d picked up on the way home and he was making supper he made his way to the hall closet and selected a bottle of his homemade wine and poured me a glass – for medicinal purposes. It worked.

A work teammate mentioned that she noticed I was doing my lobstering presentation at the library and gave me a positive review before I even perform. Something nice to look forward to. I shall have to call around to my circle of retired, shift worker and off that day friends and family to stack the audience for the filming. If you’re doing an audition you should go big or stay home.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How quickly the years pass

Apparently today was no longer than any other – it’s just felt that way. I’m guessing that the time change hasn’t helped much with darkness falling before supper is even underway.

The saga of the oil tank continues. I downloaded the oil tank installation regulations from the government website (all 30 pages in total of them) which direct in part that the oil presently in the tank should not be replaced but new fuel used. Now since the potential buyers have negotiated owning the oil in the tank, this essentially means not only are we replacing the tank and setup but two full tanks of fuel as we are on an automatic fill schedule.

Added to the requirements are that the installer be certified and a check of the aforementioned website lists only two installers in our county (neither are the Irving Oil tradesperson who has always done our work and is the one who has been approached for this job) So I phone Irving Oil in Saint John, after I inadvertently call Samaritans Purse with the number my life partner gives me (apparently he should not be left alone in the office when the secretary isn’t there) and ask about the installer’s credentials. The call center employee advises me that “he must be qualified or he wouldn’t be able to work for us” so I ask to see some proof of that or speak to someone who can verify it. She again repeats that “he must be” so I explain that folks waiting to have me give them an injection would not be impressed if my employer said “oh she must be an RN she works for us” as I am required to submit annual proof that I am qualified. Our conversation ended shortly after that when she brightly asked if she could do anything else for me as if she’d done anything to begin with! I phoned Dept of Labour & Environment and was told “just because someone works for Irving Oil don’t count on them being certified” was given two more DOEL phone numbers to call – still waiting to hear back from them. Then a co-worker related a horror story where friends had to reinstall an oil tank due to insurance requirements (sound familiar?) and the installer although certified was not insured. Something went wrong with the installation, there was a leak requiring remediation and…. their insurer is refusing to cover the remediation as the homeowner hired someone without insurance (in fact they didn’t ask about this). It does make you wonder what a homeowner’s policy covers eh?

So the outcome of my attempt at due diligence was instructions for the shore captain to view the credentials and insurance of the prospective tradesperson….or else! And I feel confident that he realizes I will carry out whatever threat I’m making this week as it would be whatever that clause is where women go homicidal with PMS and are not criminally responsible. It could happen!

When I visited my Mom today the Recreation person asked if I could give her details for the social history so I gave her the historical perspective. It was sad to think of all her losses but I guess one way to look at is that she once had a much fuller life than many do. For a woman to have an education, which not only included nursing but a postgraduate specialty is likely equal to your nursing degree now. When I explained we were talking about when she was an RN she said “but I still am” What can you say to that?

Thinking of maturity and the life cycles I am posting the following visual funny forwarded by a mature friend with the title …How Quickly the Years Pass




















Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Of oil tanks and self defence

Today was one of those days where I earned some extra overtime although my idea of fun isn’t staying two hours past my regular workday to argue with physicians about washing their hands. And my regular workday was a real humdinger – never stopped once, ate my lunch in front of the computer. Need have a talk with myself “self, you are engaging in behavior you don’t support in employees you counsel” I think.

All this while I interfaced with my significant other as we attempted to get the old house sold. This is turning out to a pain as…the folks who have put a bid in our house can’t get insurance on the property because…. the oil tank is 12 years not 10 years old. So we will have to install a new tank and lines. This means pumping the oil out, reinstalling a new tank and refilling it, as the buyers want the fuel included, on a new concrete pad with an orange line with filter – whatever the heck that is. Sure sounds expensive and it likely will be over $1000. All this for a setup which is perfectly sound, has given us no trouble, is currently insured for us, and we will never use the new one. So much for accepting less of an offer than we wanted to in the beginning as we’re now netting even less. It will be good if the whole situation is settled, as my anger level is high.

I began the day with a blow out of my under wire bra which poked me in the armpit at 8:20 a.m. and requiring that I do emergency reconstructive surgery on it (repeated x 6 during the day) with adhesive tape. I am suffering the effects (and thus those in contact with me) of a severe case of PMS – stand back. I had an intense discussion with a staff member (described by a colleague as unable to be reasoned with on any topic) resulting in my locking the storage room keys inside the closet in my state of duress. I did a hand hygiene audit where I sat in the hall of the nursing unit observing activity and recording ‘opportunities for hand hygiene’, which severely depressed me. One of the staff asked if I was security (this because we occasionally have elderly men who sit in the hall and act as babysitters er I mean security if we have patients who require watching for danger of elopement or aggression) and I replied “yes I’m looking for out of control nurses” So the general consensus was ‘take your pick’ When two staff members were joking around and one said to the other “do you want to take this outside?” the other said “I’ve worked forensic psyche for over 20 years I can take you down so quickly you won’t know what cut off your oxygen” pointing at the others neck. These skills would have applications to many other areas I thought longingly. Then reconsidered that it’s good I don’t have them, as being incarcerated is not on my list of retirement plans.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Whale series with jelly beans

Today was one of those days which one of my colleague’s summed up as “I don’t feel like coming to work anymore when I think about it the night before” and then added “I don’t know how to do this job anymore” I explained that I understood these concepts, had for some time and I was aligning my thoughts more with the quote of the day:

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -- Mae West

The learning experience of the day was when the Occupational Therapist contracted in the ‘chair altercation’ of last weeks fame asked about the background of the dispute and I advised that our workplace put the fun back in dysfunctional. When I asked about the description of the recommended chair he said it was “whale series” so I queried, “you mean as in large marine mammal?” “yes” he replied. I told him I thought this was a hateful name and that although the employee in question wasn’t particularly large a number of her coworkers were. “I know that’s why I don’t tell folks the name but you’re another professional so I thought you could handle it” he explains. Then he says “and tell them you need with jelly beans” so I confessed that I didn’t speak the language this was why we had contracted him and he clarified “that means the arm rests pivot in” Oh of course, you could get that from jelly beans no problem.

Question for self – why didn’t you manage to work in one place and have a decent pension waiting for you in a few years? The $32.50 per month you’ve accrued just isn’t going to cut it. You’re going to run out of patience before you build up any equity. Oh wait, it's too late you already have. Sigh.

Now with apologies to male readers I offer the following poem forwarded by a work colleague (hey it’s better than those ads for penis enlargers or stock investments):

a wonderful poem Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her "beauty tips."
It was read at her funeral years later. For attractive lips , speak words of kindness...
For lovely eyes , seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure , share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair , let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.

For poise , walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone...
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands ;
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Post tropical storm Noel

Well this has been a busy weekend where I accomplished very little – how so you ask? Well, we’ve been preparing for, suffering through and cleaning up from Noel. Post tropical storm Noel (once a hurricane in the Caribbean) who visited most of Eastern Canada on Saturday night. As you can see by the photo of the damage of the recently completed deck Mother Nature showed no mercy when she snapped off the trees half way down. The tree doing this damage was one of eight on that side of our house, including one that serves as a clothesline pole. The windows for the first time since we’ve built near the water are a mess! The salt spray and bits of trees are stuck on them and they will require power washing to be able to see out through them. We had a front row view of the drama – felt like we were on the deck of a ship with the waves crashing on the beach below our rock wall.

The wind and rain actually began on Saturday morning while I was cleaning out the ‘old house’ across the road (more on why later) and with just one 5 sec. power flicker in the evening things went along pretty smoothly. I was up to the bathroom at 1 a.m. and the electricity was still on but I awoke again suddenly at 1:10 a.m. to complete darkness – not a glimmer. Thus started the saga of powerlessness. It was not reassuring to reach the power company recorded message of estimated repair time of Tuesday Nov 6th at 11:30 p.m. when the storm was predicted to be over. Just now at 5:30 p.m. we have had power restored. Apparently the two small communities on either side of our hamlet and us were the last places in our area without power restored.

Our EMO preparations of house design with propane range top and fireplace kept us fed and warm during the night and the rain had stopped by this morning and the wind subsided over the day with the sun coming out to raise temperatures to 17 degrees or so. The solar gain we received managed to make the house cozy and before we had to contemplate another night without utilities the power came on so the lanterns didn’t require lighting. We are actually - except for no sports network according to the sports nut – all set up for these kinds of emergencies. I can live with reading and scrapbooking so did not feel the pinch as much. The generator is a nice touch although it's not quite big enough to run the whole house. With the technology coming along for wind power it won't be long before we're hooked into that which will completely solve our energy deficiency problems.

So why did I spend 2.5 hrs. on each Saturday and Sunday cleaning out junk, treasures and garbage from the house we deserted last year? Well, we have accepted an offer on it and if the deal goes through (keep your fingers crossed for us) it will close on November 30th. With the market so slow we were disappointed in the price by at least $10,000 of our hoped for target but it makes no sense to leave it empty and the price is hardly likely to go up. It will be nice to have it all settled before the winter heating season kicks into high gear. And the best part is that these folks loved the place the way we did when we first saw it 20+ yrs ago and plan to fix it up for a vacation then retirement home. It’s too nice to let go to ruin. So my next three weekends are all scheduled, as it’s a job you have to do in stages due to the physical nature and aggravation factor.

Of course this means that it’s now time to think of returning to work in the morning and it feels as if I’ve been on Survivor since Friday. At least I won’t have to sneak into work in my pajamas to take a shower in the a.m. To cheer myself (and you) up I'm including:

The Riddle of the Day

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a big one.
Michael J. Fox has a small one.
Madonna doesn't have one.
The Pope has one but doesn't use it.
Clinton uses his all the time.
Bush is one.
Mickey Mouse has an unusual one.
Liberace never used his on women.
Jerry Seinfeld is very, very proud of his.
Cher claims that she took on 3.
We never saw Lucy use Desi's.
What is it?Answer below! (this is pretty good )***************************
The answer is: "A Last Name."
You didn't think I'd post a dirty joke, did you?


Friday, November 2, 2007

Warning woman over 50 on board

Well last evening as I was enjoying my 'all by myself' time I puttered around and then crawled into bed with the Ruth Rendell book I'm reading. It was windy and rainy so I told the dog since she'd been well behaved that just this once she could sleep inside instead of her doghouse. She immediately grasped this concept and headed out I assumed to nap on the livingroom sofa. I settled early with the cats on the foot of the bed and was sound asleep at 12:20 a.m. when I heard the dog's toenails (think the Flinstones) on the diningroom floor. I yelled at her thinking she was roughousing with the cats and headed into the bathroom. The toenail noise continued and then.....the kitchen light was turned on. After a momentary gasp I reminded myself that intruders bring a flashlight they don't turn on the light. I timidly called out my husband's name - no response - I increased the volume - no response - so I grabbed a housecoat and headed toward the bedroom door. "Is that you?" To which a male voice replied "no somebody younger than that" and in my half asleep state it finally registered that this was the prodigal son returning for the night. My nerves.

I've been continuing with the flu immunization campaign and was trying to connect with one of the employees who had asked for the shot. I found him on the nursing unit but he was in an isolation room, he came to my office but I was downstairs. When I returned I found a note on my door saying "gave myself the shot will be back to sign the paper" I told him that he shouldn't joke about things like that with the healthcare system we have - it's getting to be pretty do-it-yourself on a number of levels. I told him that one year when I wasn't working with another nurse to give me my shot I'd decided to 'do it myself' for the first and only time. I would make a very poor drug addict as it required a great psyching myself up session. It's one thing to inject other folks but your own leg...... I think not.

The morning at work was taken up with a chair fight between an employee, a Mgr, WCB and a Rehab company. And I must confess that by lunch I certainly felt like bringing a chair down over a couple of heads. To think that the amount of energy expended in NOT accomodating an employee could have been used for good not evil and have settled the whole thing in 5 minutes!

We're bracing for the end of Hurricane Noel tomorrow and it has dumped rain and battered the Caribbean the past few days. Tis the season. By the time it makes it here the force will only be tropical storm but still enough to make you take notice. There are winds of up to 120 km predicted.

And to close, this offering from a friend who like myself is...over 50 and not afraid to disclose that:
Women Over 50Andy Rooney - CBS 60 Minutes.
As I grow in age, I value women who are over 50 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:A woman over 50 will not lay next to you in bed and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.If a woman over 50 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it's usually something more interesting.A woman over 50 knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Women over 50 are dignified. They seldom have screaming matches with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it.Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.A woman over 50 has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women. Women over 50 couldn't care less if you're attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won't betray her.Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 50. They always know.A woman over 50 looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women or drag queens. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 50 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one! You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.Yes, we praise women over 50 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of 50+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 18-year-old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." Here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage, why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire Pig, just to get a little sausage.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ethical dilemmas

When I was leaving work today, feeling pretty vulnerable and close to having a good cry in the car on the way home I was thinking that I hadn't felt this way since I was engaged in clinical nursing and something really bad had happened. I was speaking to a 'mature' staff member who had recently been pushed by management in a meeting to the decision of "what are you going to do?" answering "I'm going to retire" . Today's discussion with me included "I've had enough of this crap, I'm not happy here, life is too short and I'm moving on" Those sentiments are difficult to argue with and as I stated "like lightening striking all around me" in relevance por moi. Somehow I felt guilty for the dysfunctional situation within which we work. But mostly I was saddened that a system which supposedly cares for vulnerable people doesn't care for it's own. I provided what support I could but was left shaken with a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe I'm not as resilient as I used to be, maybe it' s hitting too close to home or maybe I just need to have a good look at where I am in the workplace.

Speaking of ethical dilemmas....One of the social workers today was telling me that in her first ethics class they had been given a case study of a mentally challenged, married couple who were having a child and wanted to keep the baby. She was telling me that the decision was straight forward to the younger members of the class "no way, take the baby it's not fair to it" but the more mature class members were saying "wait a minute, why take a baby out of a loving home, lets put supports in, if they can't read have someone come and read to all of them" She said "lots of things which seem very black and white become more grey as you get older - not just your hair"

Since the man of the house had headed in to camp to check things out and stay overnight I was able to feel sorry for myself with only companion animals watching. I whipped up an apple supreme cheesecake (yum) and am grateful that it has to cool or I'd eat the whole thing. Ate what I wanted for supper while catching up in a phone call on the news with my travel mate of cruise fame. I certainly don't want to be single but her spontaneity is to be envied. She was described by a friend as "a person who always has a good time no matter where she goes" so she was therapeutic for me in my fragile state.

Lest my Eyore posting brings you down...I leave you with a smile a colleague forwarded:



Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of ?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms & dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's
who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.