Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another graduate in the family

And here's the family photo to prove it. The SRHS 2007 graduation went smoothly, 3 hrs long but smoothly. As you can see by the 500 watt smile on missy's face - it was a huge success! Can't believe our baby has graduated high school and did so well while working full time hours at Subway. First there was the diploma with French Immersion, then two bursaries - the IODE for $500 and the Roseway Hospital Auxilary for another $500 to add to her $750 award from University of New Brunswick. As one of the teachers said "she just ran across that stage before we changed our mind about the money". Every cent helps with the cost of university now. Lots of photos snapped and hugs and goodbyes all around. The bus arrived at 10:15 p.m. and the kids are off to Safe Grad until 4:30 a.m. Daughter # 2 is the taxi service at that unreal hour and then will be getting up with me when I head off to work to catch the bus back to the city. She's already planning her in transit nap. The graduate has to be a sandwich artist at 3 p.m. so sleep will be at a premium for all of us.

The old guy and myself are sneaking away to the camp this weekend because all this excitement just has to come to an end. I have Monday off work as well so we'll head back on Sunday and will still have time to putter about. Must crash for a few hours. Later.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Where to begin?

Where to begin? Well the phone rang this morning at 5:20 a.m. from daughter # 3 in the ER with the results of some post prom partying gone bad. Not my own but one of the group needed medical attention so I headed in to provide moral support, there was a transfer and I ended up at work for the morning. I had to take the afternoon off work and head to the district facility to retrieve the daughter. The partier has made a full recovery but my nerves are still shot. It’s one thing to be the staff in the ER, another to be a parent in the waiting room (even if the child is only connected with yours) and I'm getting too old for this.

This evening the wait was for daughter # 2 as the bus broke down coming from Halifax so they sat on the side of the road for an hour and a half. We had left a vehicle for her at the bus stop (first she had to find it and locate the keys) so she’s finally made her way home. Her role as a counselor for the traumatized sister is an important one today.

Tomorrow is the graduation but first daughter # 3 and I have to work at our respective health care facilities so a full day. Everyone has their orders to be at the school by 6:15 p.m. so that should mean we can at least see the stage. The graduate is kind of short.

The spouse and I are in the final planning stages for a trip to camp for the long weekend. I’m hoping to be able to leave work early on Friday afternoon and we’ll head home by Sunday morning. There’s been too much going on to feel comfortable about going but it’s getting to the point that if we don’t.. the rubber truck will have to come for us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Proms down and graduation to go

Prom # 1 went well. A good time was had by all. There were many reports of baby daughter sightings reported to this proud mother. Apparently after dancing the night away there was a modest post prom festivity (not like the 200+ crowd at the main prom party) and then a sleep in today.

Getting ready today involved a crisis call for dropped lipstick on dress which the date's mother apparently figured out the remedy for. This evening brought another grand march and group photo. I was eaten up by mosquitos as I waited in the crowd of parent paparazzis. Managed to get caught up on all the local news and see some folks I hadn't run into in a while. You know you live in a small area when the local prom is the biggest social event of the season. I came home to find the main squeeze having a nap here before attending the second prom party. This was followed by the #1 son and his girlfriend dropping by to get caught up on the news and a phone call from daughter #1 to check to see how the prom was going. I finished up the family connections with a call to daughter # 2 to say that we'll expect she'll be on the bus tomorrow evening for the next day graduation.

Now lest you think that this post is all about social activities I'll leave you with some information so you can feel you've learned something valuable from surfing. My life partner likes to surprise me with info he's gleaned from the Discovery or History channel. Today at work when I was reading the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal online (don't scoff it's research) I discovered an article about Buffalopox. Sounds like something you'd read in the National Enquirer. Now just when you thought you had everything organized into categories to worry about. Apparently it's common in burn units in Karachi, Pakistan where the virus is transmitted as buffalos are the most common dairy animals and butter or ghee is used as a home dressing for burns. I decided against including photos, some things you just don't need to see before you go to bed but you just never know when this bit of trivia may come in handy.

I'm too old for all this partying I think. when someone at work asked how I was today I told them I was tired as I was graduating this week for the last time.

Monday, June 25, 2007

One prom down and one to go

I had the usual busy day at the district facility where I cautioned my teammate that we were only going to vaccinate staff today right? (the clinic was held at the site of the original crime of - are you a resident or employee? after we had already immunized if you recall) but not as busy as the graduate did here today. She was up and off to school to write her final exam (French) rehearsal for graduation, to shower at a friend’s house, pick up her list of food for prom/grad then to get her hair done, home to get ready. When I arrived from work at 4:15 she was all spiffed up, ready to go and pretty pumped. Looked just like a princess as both of her sisters had done before her. Her date arrived shortly after - nice looking man in a tuxedo - I told them they looked like Ken & Barbie go to the prom. Got some photos of the happy couple and they were off for another photo call and then to the festivities at his high school.Missy had picked up her blue graduation gown today and excitedly said “Mom, can you believe it? I’m graduating Thursday!” as she hung it up. No I can’t my dear. Maybe it’s because she’s the last one but this has snuck up on me.

Tomorrow is the prom at ‘our’ high school so after decorating there will be another getting ready session and then photos, and the ‘march’ and then the gala. I’ll head back in tomorrow for that event. I was thinking this evening that all three of our girls who have to date attended five proms, have cost less than half of one usual female attendee. I sewed dresses for the two older sisters then this one found two dresses at Frenchy’s (the one this evening was $9, tomorrow’s was $8) and her older sister found a $5 outfit the year she came back as a courtesy date for her sister’s boyfriend’s friend. Can’t ask for better than that. So glad I don’t have materialistic children. In fact I’ve always thought they were the most beautiful girls at the prom.

In all the festivities I managed last night to get my biography done to go with my publicity photo. Hard to explain me in 250 words as I’m such a complex woman ha! I also submitted my postcard story about the movie Woodstock to a website called Silver Boomers - sounds like the appropriate venue eh? Have made myself a promise to write/submit pieces regularly. How else am I going to get myself invited on press trips eh?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

No, I said whipping cream

Had some ‘me time’ yesterday as I attended a Saturday morning writing workshop which was a great chance to meet other writers and learn some new techniques. Always good to get feedback on your work, gives you courage to keep on writing. It was held in a tea room so there was a great selection of scones, muffins, cookies and tea at break then we stayed for lunch (I’m sounding like the son here where I’m measuring the event by the food) which was a nice salad and Portobello galette (not sure what it was - kind of like a pie crust with veggies on top - but it was delicious). And my writing buddy treated me to the lunch, so that was very generous of him.

I stopped on the way home from the workshop to pick up a few groceries and had decided to make strawberry shortcake. Likely wouldn’t have if I’d realized that they were $5 a quart and we need three boxes here to feed the masses! I looked for the whipping cream but I’m not familiar with the layout of this Superstore and I don’t look for milk because we have home delivery so I found myself wandering aimlessly. Now daughter # 2 has worked for this company and staff are trained to stop and assist a customer who asks them for help. As a late 30s male employee walked towards me I stepped into his path and said “excuse me, can you tell me where the whipping cream is?” He stopped and said “you mean in a can?” gesturing over my shoulder towards the Reddiwhip display. “No, I mean whipping cream”. He looks puzzled and tries again “cool whip?” he asks. “No, cream you whip!” I say firmly. He pauses and says “oh, Nutriwhip” I am not going to leave without whipping cream I say to myself and take a deep breath “I mean cream you whip, like milk from a cow” I tell him. The light goes on. He points at the dairy case at the rear of the store, only place I hadn’t wandered. I thank him and head over to pick up a carton, wondering on the stroll just what it is he considers whipping cream.

We had a nice visit from daughter # 2 and her boyfriend who had stayed at the cottage and came out for supper. Steamed clams and brushetta for starters then chicken wings, rice and fresh green beans for mains, strawberry shortcake with REAL whipped cream for dessert. They rolled out the door with their clean laundry. They were planning on visiting the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg on the way back to Halifax - well worth the trip if you ever get the chance. Well actually daughter # 2 was doing the planning and the boyfriend was going along with the idea.

Am trying to get caught up on the chores and rested up as the week will be starting out with a bang and not slowing down until Friday when…we’ll be into a long holiday weekend. Tomorrow is a final French exam for the graduate, then graduation rehearsal, hair appointment and getting ready for the prom at the boyfriend’s high school. I’ll need to make it home from the district facility in time to be the official photographer of them dressed up and ready to have fun. Tuesday will mean the graduate will be ‘doing helium’ at the school (that sounds dangerous) then getting ready for her own prom which she is attending with a friend. Both of these proms have ‘after prom parties’ so sleep will be limited I’m sure. Wednesday she works as a sandwich artist and Thursday is orientation day for the nursing home job then graduation with the Safe Grad celebration going on until 4:30 a.m. Friday brings an evening shift as a sandwich artist again. I’m getting tired just chronicling the schedule let alone participating - oh to be 18 again eh?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yeehaw it's the weekend

Yesterday was the road trip to the valley and I didn’t even have time to engage in a Frenchy’s shop as it was 5 hrs driving, 6 hrs of meeting and a stop for groceries. When I was about an hour from home I decided to break up the trip by stopping at Superstore and ran into a co-worker there who asked in surprise “what are you doing here?” I explained I was on my way back from a meeting and she said “nice for you eh?” That didn’t even deserve an answer.

The baby daughter received the call she was waiting for from the nursing home she worked in last summer and will again be employed as a recreation assistant, so she was delighted. It will be a good experience for her as she heads off to nursing school and they’ll have someone already broken in. Was a nice boost during the stress of exam writing, prom and grad planning etc.

Today at work I received an email about lawnmower safety and it caused me to ruminate on a lawnmower story from about 15 years ago. I had gone to town with the kids for something and was expecting that their father would have the lawn mowed when I returned. When we got back and I released the little ones from their car/booster seats I noticed the grass was the same height as when I left. When I ambled over to the barn to ask why there was no mowing I noticed a smoldering pile of plastic emitting a pungent odor with a metal handle sticking out of it in front of the barn door. Now since spontaneous combustion wasn’t very likely I asked the obvious question of “what happened?” A very sheepish husband finally admitted that he had been attempting to ‘fix’ the mower. “You sure did that” I agreed. He had poured gas into the carburetor and a short while after pulled the starter cord. The flames were apparently record setting in height. He returned with the fire extinguisher and this molten mess is what remained after the flame suppression. Moral of the story ‘gas lawnmowers are not fire retardant’ The son was disappointed to have missed the show and asked many questions about it, I told him that his time would soon come for such things. And it has.
Can you believe that as I was searching for a snap of a lawnmower to insert here I found + + websites about lawnmower racing? I thought it was just something folks in the country did when they thought they wouldn’t get caught.

Also today at work I was arranging for a routine floor sweep - which doesn’t involved cleaners but nurses doing screening swabs for antibiotic resistant organisms - for Monday. When one of the staff discovered this event was AGAIN on a day she was scheduled to work she said (only half jokingly) “I should take off my shoe and slap you over the head with it” I told her she was just plain lucky.

When discussing the difficulty in finding a pig to roast this summer for the Moncada Day pig roast I told a former co-worker and she said “oh just get 3 or 4 pork roasts and jam them on the spit, it’s about getting together not the pig” Now I’m not so sure my Cuban friend will approve of that line of thinking but it is preferable to doing without the get together.

I have been attempting to put together a biography for my ‘speaking on cruise ships’ profile and it’s not that easy to promote yourself in 250 words. When I asked various family members for suggestions, I was told everything from “vividly descriptive” to “entertaining when you’re not being mean / a big tool” Now can you guess which of those quotes came from the stressed soon to be grad? I’ve been leaving a list accessible and ’clustering’ ideas by occasionally jotting down thoughts. I am getting my publicity info all together first, then working on the presentations.

Tomorrow morning is a writing workshop which I’m looking forward to. It seems if I have a deadline I’m better about getting something written. My writing buddy and I are heading out by 7:30 a.m. and there isn’t much that will get me out at that hour on a weekend, so you can tell we’re keen. And to quote from the Writers Federation newsletter which my writing buddy faithfully forwards to me weekly:
Daniel Pinkwater's three rules for writerly success: "Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun." Thanks we plan to.

Daughter #2 is coming tomorrow night for supper and to do laundry - two good reasons for students to be sociable with their family. They are escaping the city to the cottage for the weekend, pretending they are yuppies already. Yeehaw it’s the weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Counting down the days

We're into the final stretch here with last minute exam cramming - believe it or not I knew a thing or two about political science - as well as parties, work, hair appointments, photos, prom, grad and that doesn't include all the mundane things like work for me (have to head to the Valley again tomorrow for the day) fishing for the # 1 son and getting the boat ready to go for the shore captain. The possibility of a visit from # 2 daughter this weekend as well as next week for her sister's graduation. Promises to be life in the fast lane.

Today was a blur at work. One of the more colorful situations was when I was explaining to a colleague about a managers 'plow right through style' in dealing with personnel issues. I suggested that this persons style of housecleaning would be to open the doors, throw everything out on the lawn and attack the cleaning project then leave me to deal with the leftover debris. You get the picture right? This style is helpful when you're dealing with emergent situations, something that has just developed or become suddenly serious and can't be left - like outdated food in the fridge someone might accidently eat. The definition of triage - immediately deciding what needs to be dealt with right now! If the situation has grown over time, is complicated, involves humans well...sometimes it's not so straight forward to sort out and full frontal attack can cause a lot of angst.

Since I now think I'm going to recover from my cold, I've started making more long range plans than one day at a time, for example - what's the weather this weekend?. I sound worse now as it's settled in my sinuses so I find that folks are more sympathetic. Much better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Studying for prom

Another late June day where it’s difficult to be inside and even more difficult to concentrate. I was saying to the life partner that it sure didn’t seem like 33 years ago that we were studying for final exams ourselves and he agreed. I can recall that we would write in the gym of the old high school in long rows of seats separated from each other by at least a yard. I remember sitting in the hard wooden seat trying not to touch any part of my anatomy to the chair as I was so sunburned from ‘studying’ at the Sand Hills beach the afternoon before. What a smart cookie eh? The only articles of clothing I could suffer were a soft summer dress and a pair of underwear. This was in the days when going braless was not noticed, but nowadays to quote Maxine….

This is the time of year that young girls thoughts turn to that of prom. The graduating student here has apparently taken a study break from Chemistry 12 as she just appeared around the corner of the mud room to give me an impromptu fashion show of ‘the gown’ with description of hair style, corsage and accessories. Excellent taste my dear, now get back to those books.

I am taken back to 1974 when my fear was linked to NOT having a date for the senior prom. Well, actually by this point in time I had managed to arrange the details but earlier in the month I had been in full panic mode as I had sewn a dress, was graduating but had no escort as I had called off a steady relationship and the new interest (now long time husband) was not moving all that quickly to ask me out. In all the stress I developed a case of huge hives which looked decidedly unattractive with my hair up and my backless dress as planned so in the end I had to wear my hair down to disguise the wheals. It sure helped that I lived just across the road from the school and we could walk over, settling the transportation crises. This was in the days before limos, antique autos and sports SUVs at proms. The evening was fine but you know I don’t think we even had one photo taken, now we’d have an entire album.

Well, enough nostalgia. I was just glad to be able to enjoy the warm temperatures and sunshine with a BBQ tonight. Small pleasures. And a nice wind down from the pace of a trip to the district facility. I do think I’m going to survive now from whatever cold bug I’ve managed to pick up though so don't feel as ancient as I sound.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer has arrived

It was Monday, no choice but to go back to work even if I was suffering from whatever the family has been incubating lately. The usual excitement, topped with an extra helping of computer difficulties. The tech says to me “this is one of those things which happen randomly to some people” It being fairly obvious that I am one of the ‘some people’ in this area.

What a beautiful day today turned out to be…summer has finally arrived. We went from foggy, cold and windy to a sunny 24 c in one day. Yeehaw. It was still beautiful at 5 p.m. while I sat in the lawn chair and read the newspaper then it was shorts and a t-shirt to walk the dog and we both found it warm. Since there were only the life partner and myself for supper we enjoyed it in the veranda and it was still warm at 9 p.m. when we watched the sunset - decadent. Some of the 'summer neighbour' are returning - a true sign of the season.

My travel partner left for New York today with her travel group and they sure had good weather for flying. Can imagine it will be a fun-filled, Broadway, shopping, sightseeing week. Will have to hear those stories after the return. Such is the life of some single women. I finally got around to digging out the cruise scrapbook to see about organizing the photos, so I’m already one trip behind.

On one of our trips to Boston when I was a kid, to visit family we went shopping in Filene’s basement and I was given/bought a Thingmaker. This was a metal mould cooker which you plugged in, filled the designs (various types from bugs, flowers, seasonal etc) with colored goop and baked. The smell is indescribable but unforgettable and the result were stretchy, gooey creatures. Likely were bad for the air quality when cooking, unsafe for kids to use unsupervised, messy. All kinds of reasons why they wouldn't be considered acceptable nowadays. I couldn’t believe it when I came across a photo of them online - apparently I’m not the only nostalgic baby boomer out there. I can't imagine their purpose. I remember sticking them on the windows for decorations but other than that....

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Birthday cake for baby daughter

Today is baby daughter’s 18th birthday. Can’t imagine how that happened, it seems like about two years ago that we dropped the three siblings off at the sitter and drove to the hospital in a rainstorm to be induced. After an hour labour, we were back in the room before lunch and mister was on his way to the shore. I’m guessing it’s because she’s the youngest of four kids born in quick order that she’s always been tagging along, running to catch up and then making her own way in the world and seems mature for her age.

I’m in the process of making a birthday cake but….mister is napping on the couch and I don’t have the heart to run the mixer while he looks so peaceful. He’s been chasing the tides today - meaning he put the boat on the slip this afternoon, took the buoy catcher off and put zincs on the rudder (these are to stop the electrolysis on the hull which corrodes the propeller, fittings etc) while the tide was low - now he has to wait for high tide to float the craft and take it off the slip which he estimates at 10 p.m. He’s already had one set of wet feet and clothes changed today. Since tomorrow is Father’s Day and all the offspring will be visiting I advised he should rest up.

Well, this is being continued because we were surprised with daughter # 1 visiting with her main squeeze on the way back from a wedding. I’ve managed to make two cakes and a lasagna while socializing. Looking at scrapbook pages causes some reminiscing about those busy days. Stories of “remember when our brother nailed our dolls to the front steps with shingle nails?“ This triggered the memory that today while I was walking the dog and looking at the lupines blooming on the roadside I recalled that daughter # 1 had been trying to think of their name one day when she was a teenager and said “you know those tall flowers on the side of the road that taste like thrills gum” When I asked how she knew that she said “oh you always said they were poison so we wouldn’t touch them, so I tasted one” Now she would be the one to try it when faced with idle parental threats. And to think I just didn’t want them stripping the blossoms off and using the stalks as swords.

The shore captain left at 9:30 p.m. to “take the boat off” and called just now from the wharf to yell into the phone “the *&%#^@ boat is tied to the floating docks” meaning that someone (his guess is the prodigal son) has taken the boat off and steamed it to the dock for him. How thoughtful. Now the only piece missing would have been to call and let him know that, saving a foggy 120 km return drive at this hour. I ask if he’s on his way home and he says “nah, I’m thinking of staying over here all night”. I tell him if he’s going to be that smart mouth he should just go ahead.

Now I’m waiting for baby daughter to bring her man friend (who was working as a sandwich artist with her this evening) and daughter # 2 who’s arrived home from Halifax to stay. I’m thinking that there’s not much point in going to bed because when that crew strikes, there’ll be no sleeping. And I’m guessing that there won’t be anyone on deck before noon so there will be no Fathers Day breakfast at the hour that the father in this house gets up.

I am actually not a big fan of Fathers Day as we have no grandfathers in the family to celebrate now. I’m pleased that the Dad of these four offspring is able to celebrate his special day but otherwise I’d rather ignore it. I am reminded of some Dad stories because of this special occasion though. When I was a teenager and young men were being brought home to ‘meet the parents’ there was a rite of passage that became routine. Dad would be working on some kind of project at the kitchen table and the young male would be asked to sit in the ‘big chair’ in the kitchen next to the Kemac stove for THE CHAT. This would include a lecture on various evils - drinking, drugs, curfews, speeding, impaired driving, ungentlemanly conduct etc. and direct questioning on the boy’s behavior, values etc. This ritual was repeated with at least four boyfriends that I can recall. When I stated dating (the now husband) I warned him of the big chair chat and occasionally quizzed him as to whether he’d had the ‘the talk’ and you know….he never did. After a year or so I gave up asking, figuring that Dad had either given up the practice or realized this guy was here to stay. But when my younger sister had the same experience and we compared stories years later, we realized that Dad had known these two were ‘keepers’ and so didn’t feel the need.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fortunately I'm not a pension prisoner

Today I felt like Curious George, you know fortunately George fell into a haystack, unfortunately there was a pitch fork in the haystack, fortunately George missed it, unfortunately he also missed the haystack etc etc. Fortunately I have a benefits plan that pays for massages, unfortunately after the day I put in I was in desperate need of one. Fortunately I have a pension plan, unfortunately I have to work with this employer for ten years to qualify - not going to happen as I am not a pension prisoner. I ‘may’ be in the workforce for that many years but I’m getting more and more certain that it won’t be in this position because:

* There were major issues with the M word as in do employees have to use sick leave if they must remain off work after being in contact with mumps? This resulted in a back and forth email flurry from Human Resources to the OHNs across three districts with input from Public Health. At this writing, the jury is still out on the plan.

* There was a situation involving the asbestos removal at work where a very young (looked the age of my son) technician arrived to do air testing. When I introduced myself as the OHN and asked (as directed by the project manager) for the test results I was told that the results would be sent to the project manager. While I was still caught up in musing ‘are you old enough to be doing this work? Do you even shave yet?‘ he was looking me over with a rather condescending glance. When I requested a copy I was told by this fresh faced youth that he “worked for the project manager” There was a seasoned foreman silently watching this exchange with an incredulous face. As I walked away I said to the foreman “he works for me, not the project manager because I catch the flak here” and let it go.

* The afternoon was spent in a series of extremely intensive staff meetings with high level administration and staff working their way through some pretty ugly issues. I was thankful that I’ve moved on in my career and not stayed in one position in one facility for the past few decades - the frustration and lack of outside view can make ones perspective understandably quite narrow. I was also thankful that I had a massage therapist waiting for me.

While I was checking my email I found an ad for a blog writer. Now THAT’S something I could do. You just have to write three posts of 200 words each per day for five days per week. There were several topics which interested me / I was qualified for. The only reservation was that this start up company would ‘make revenue streams available to you’ well my revenue streams now - just away from me. I deal with the issues of painfully slow dialup access, ancient computer and the fact that I have a demanding day job and need to run a busy household. Sleep would be optional on this plan. Hmmm will have to investigate further. Perhaps there is a way to 'try on' the project while still juggling, have done that before.

When I came home from work I found that the excavation company had been here today and put the boulders in place on the left side of the driveway and filled in the rest of the crushed stone. It looks great but I think I know how the dinosaurs felt trapped as I wasn’t sure the car would make it out in the a.m. as it was so crawly. You can see where the flower beds will go in the front - at this point they are conceptual only. You have to imagine the cut stone which will go in front.

After supper tonight I got a call from the manor saying Mom had fallen but seemed okay. She’d been having an off day today as when I was over to visit this afternoon she was asleep in bed, having asked to lie down. Apparently staff heard a faint “help, help” which necessitated a thorough search and she was located in the shower room sitting on the floor in the dark. Stood up and didn’t seem to have any injuries then asked to go to bed now. So, she continues to fail physically.

But tomorrow is Friday - yeehaw! The cleaning lady is here in the a.m. - yippee! It’s baby daughter’s birthday on Saturday - wow! Daughter # 2 is heading home on Saturday for the birthday and Fathers Day - can’t wait!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Today I suffered from presenteeism, it’s a new term to describe being at work in body but not in mind - unengaged in other words. It’s a new phenomenon that’s developed after all the absentee management programs were introduced. If it’s an occasional affliction it’s not too concerning, just when it becomes the norm.

I had a dentist appointment this a.m. so didn’t start off with my usual routine. That’s what I’ll blame it on. I stopped first to pick up the proofs from the photographer and found my travel mate had the CD of photos in her possession. I will have to make contact with her as I think she’s distracted because she’s heading off on ANOTHER trip on Monday. This one is a girls group to New York city for a week and there is talk of Broadway shows, museums, shopping etc. Did I say I’m jealous? I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

I worked in the district facility today as I had to chair a meeting and that’s not something I care to do by teleconference with everyone else sitting face to face. I was the only one in my job classification there so out numbered and the topic was depressing. How fun. At least the trip to the district gave me a chance to visit Frenchy’s (small pleasures again) and find some sheets and towels for university dorms, hooded sweatshirts and t-shirts for fishermen.

I also had to pick up more vaccine. As I said to the clerk dispensing MMR vaccine “everyone should have a hobby, do you enjoy yours?” I was telling her and one of the nurses I used to work with that as I lugged the cooler with ice packs around I pretended that I was an important transplant surgeon carrying organs to the flight I was catching. The PH nurse says “with all the specialist shortages are you doing the transplant on yourself?” So I told her “yes, it’s my brain that needs replacing for being mixed up with this outfit” and she was breathless with laughter.

Speaking of pretending… I remember once when the kids were small, likely about ages 4 - 8 years old, the five of us went to the beach one summer afternoon. They had a great time jumping in the waves, making sand castles, swimming, chasing each other with globs of wet sand, and as the tide receded playing in the pools formed. Since they were getting pretty independent I only had to look up from my book on a regular basis and referee the occasional dispute. It was about 4:30 and the air was beginning to cool and I was trying to convince myself to start collecting our sandy wet stuff and head out to the van. I was speaking to a middle aged lady who was smiling at the kids and talking about how lonely it was now hers were grown and on their own and how she missed this age. I told her that I’d spent the afternoon pretending I was on a Caribbean beach, these children were the neighbours and that I was waiting for a wealthy man in a convertible sports car to pick me up and whisk me away for drinks and dinner on a restaurant patio. The reality was that the man smelled of the bait shed he’d been standing in all day, had a 10 yr old pickup truck, was waiting for me to make his supper and take care of these four rambunctious kids he’d created with me. She laughed and said “I like your life better than your fantasy, it’s reality” and left for her car.

It’s hardly been beach weather this week as we’ve been having a cool, wet stretch. But at least I didn’t get drenched like yesterday walking the dog. As the life partner said when I came back soaked yesterday “did you take your soap with you for your shower?” He decided tonight that the weather was cool enough to engage in a sauna without overheating too badly and besides he needed to sweat the toxins out of his system as he got sprayed with Javex 12 today when he was removing the buoy catcher off the boat (cage which keeps rope from entangling in the wheel during lobstering). This is because fishermen are impatient and as both he and the Captain who takes his boat were attempting to work against the tide as the boat was on the slip. Trust me it does NOT do the cotton fibres of sweatshirts, hats, and insulated coveralls any good. Mister was trying out his new sauna sound system and I found him sound asleep with the Sirius radio blasting out classic vinyl hits and the smell of warm cedar in the air when I came back from the walk.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday musings

Well two aspiring authors had a nice evening out at the writing group last night in West Pubnico. The hostess had a most beautiful home which housed a collection of her husband Pierre’s paintings and other beautiful displays. There were some very talented writers there and some fun exercises, a good chance to socialize with like minded individuals and expand your horizons. It was nice to have company for the drive but I had trouble fitting my writing partner’s head in the car after all the compliments on his excellent writing. In July the plan is to attend a art display at the museum in Yarmouth and choose a picture to write about, then this will be presented with the art work. Not sure I’m up for that but my writing buddy (who doesn’t drive anymore) is keen so I may just plan to be his chauffeur. It’s a good group even if you’re not in the mood for writing at the particular moment.

Before the evening got started I was chatting to Sandra Phinney who is a writing instructor and she was telling us she’d just returned from a 10 day press trip to Jordan. I said “as in the Middle East with Queen Noor?” thinking she couldn’t possibly mean just Jordan Falls in Shelburne County. And she replied “yep, that one”. It seems she belongs to a Travel Writers Association and was matched with a representative from that country and was invited on a trip to this amazing country. It’s very safe, interesting etc. She flew on the inaugural flight from Montreal to Amman and although it was lengthy, it was direct. Talk of camels, Bedouins, mining phosphates, etc. transported me to this exotic locale in my mind. Memo to self: time to get your act together missy and become a travel writer!
I traveled to the district facility today and did both Occupational Health and Infection Control orientation sessions, grabbed a quick lunch and helped with an immunization clinic at the attached nursing home. We managed to catch up with 55 staff so not too shabby for just two of us. When we arrived at the staff room to begin the immunization clinic there were several female nursing staff, known to the local OHN and a male we didn’t know. We began drawing up vaccine and he asked if he “needed a booster” He was assured he was in the right place, handed a consent to read and sign and we started with the nurses. In retrospect he did ask a couple of odd questions and seemed a little slow but it was busy and one or the other of us answered his queries (we have the answers down pat after six weeks of this vaccination purgatory) as we worked and moved him along in the process. The other OHN gave him his shot and when we more closely examined his consent form he had filled it out in great detail, signing in several places (including that of vaccinator) and had reversed several of the letters in both his first and last name (as kids often do when learning to print). Oh my goodness I say to the other OHN, he must be dyslexic. We decide at this point to find out who he is and as we question more and more of the staff we begin to get alarmed that he might not be staff but a resident from the attached mentally challenged facility. I tell my colleague that I’m glad she did the actual shot as she’s closer to retirement than me. We’re relieved when one of the nurses from the residential facility assures us they have no resident with his name. After returning to the office we discover he’s a new employee so unknown in the system yet. Whew.

One of my nursing school classmates who has worked in the hospital we trained in since we graduated attended and I assured her that I’d improved in my vaccination technique immensely since she’d seen me do the first one in 1974. We had to practice injecting water into an orange and then when deemed ‘ready’ by the instructor we each had to draw up a syringe of sterile normal saline (salt water) and give each other injections in the deltoid (muscle in the upper arm). I’m sure there’s a law against it or a human rights challenge now but it was a powerful experience and one I have long remembered. The way it felt when you received the shot, how nerve wracking it was to give one to someone you knew while being watched by an eagle eyed instructor and how awkward you felt (because you were). My partner gave me mine and did fine. When it came my turn I did okay until I actually had to insert the needle into her arm. We had been taught to dart quickly as this was less painful and my brain told me to do that, but my hands just refused to actually move at that rapid speed. I manually in super slow motion inserted that needle into poor Gaylene’s arm while she silently mouthed a huge scream . She was determined not to affect my clinical, or perhaps horrified that I would be asked to repeat the exercise on her again and stifled the sound. The instructor finally couldn’t bear it anymore and yelled “quick, oh my goodness, do it quickly, oh hurry” but it was as if I was watching in time elapsed photography and was unable to respond. What a torturer I was. I have since made it my goal to ‘give a good needle’ after that poor start.

It was hot and muggy in the district area but cooler and cloudy as I neared home. I put the cat out on his run and decided to walk the dog before supper so we started out on our stroll. We hadn’t gone ¼ of km when the heavens opened up in a major downpour. No rain jacket and committed to the process so it was a very soggy and wet trot. And Mr. Gary was very unimpressed upon our return. He was sitting yowling frantically on the one small dry patch of cement on the steps. I knew how he felt with a wet coat.

Had an email from a friend in Cape Breton who says one of their summer students is from Universite Ste Anne and knows daughter # 2. What a small world it is eh? Six degrees of separation in action.

I must head out to pick up the photo proofs for the publicity shots from the photographer who has left them at Superstore. My travel partner picked hers up today and says she found them mediocre. I thought hers looked ok when we reviewed them at the shoot but she thinks mine were ok. Comparable to not liking the sound of your own voice recorded I‘m guessing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday news

Well a damp Sunday afternoon and so a chance to catch you up on the news. Had a great celebratory BBQ last evening with 15 attending. A good time was had by all. We ate, talked, laughed and ate some more. Some folks we hadn’t seen for over six months and some almost as long. No excuse really as it’s not as if we live across the country from each other. It was wonderful to have an excuse to get together, the 30 year anniversary was a bonus.

The BBQ chef was not impressed with the quality of the hamburger from Sobeys proclaiming it ‘not lean’ I was not impressed with the fact that the chef had left a plate and the silicone BBQ brush outside since the last time he grilled. I had noticed this but decided to make it a ‘teachable moment’ by leaving the articles until he said “where’s the brush?” to show him how important it is to pick up after yourself. Now in hindsight (and after the 30+ yrs) I’m not sure why I chose this subject to use as the object lesson but I digress. So when we’re preparing for the BBQ I retrieve the…handle only of the brush as some critter - my guess was raccoon but the chef suggested roaming dog had made off with it. Made me wish the mystery thief, whatever it was, an intestinal obstruction. And the lesson learned? When I see something that I don’t want to lose lying on the front steps (no matter who left it there) it’s best to pick it up.

Speaking of wildlife, the chef thought he was seeing things when he got up this morning to go to the shore to take fish out. He looked out through the front windows as is his habit and saw two deer walking along the stone wall in front of the house. He made his way over to the kitchen to turn the kettle on and when he glanced out noticed the two females were grazing under the kitchen window near the snoozing dog. The tall green grass was too tempting to resist, but making a noise they disturbed Keely and were barked loudly at for trespassing and exited quickly.

I think my technical assistant has figured out what I was doing wrong so you can now comment on the blog. I’ve discovered that if you want to know anything about technology you have to ask someone under the age of 20. I really wasn’t trying to censor input, am just not completely familiar with the blog world.

Have plans to head out to a writers meeting and will take a friend with me for company. Haven’t been to one before so not really sure what to expect but will try it on to see if it’s a good fit. It’s only in Pubnico this evening so not as far an expedition to commit to. Will keep you posted.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Short night, long day

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. - John Cage

Last night was one of those that was either way too long or way too short depending on how you look at it. Being awoken multiple times by various offspring coming home for the night to roost, then bouts of coughing and snoring after they settled, cats thumping around in the litter box one after the other and then… the final insult as there was feline scratching at the door in the middle of the night. I get up to investigate, no cat visible, stumble back to bed, not once but twice. The third time I say to the bed partner “there is a cat being held hostage somewhere” and he suggests the walk in closet. Bingo! Large grey cat released from bondage who strolls out to the food dish. This of course was the problem, the need for a midnight snack as his almost 17 lb self had been more than two hours without eating. How, and when Gary got in there remains a mystery as he isn’t allowed access to the closet as he chews shoes (thinks he’s a dog remember?) and shreds bags as if he’s a dump picker.

Today the boat left for a few days of fishing with the usual captain and the prodigal son as apprentice. When I asked the shore captain how long it would be expected for someone to catch on to ‘taking the boat’ I was told that “it depends on how smart he is” which I took as a challenge being issued as I saw the #1 son’s chin raise in answer. So am hoping things go well. He likes the Captain and will likely do better than with parental instruction.

Work was the usual frantic with a side order of emotional upheaval. Visiting dignitaries down from the district facility, work site meeting, vaccinations, calls from the district facility as I’m covering for the next ten days and excessive whining from several internal sectors. I need an injection myself - of patience I think.

This evening my travel partner and I met up and went to have our ‘publicity photo shoot’ which went rather well if I do say so myself. The photographer April is very talented, patient and obliging so within 10 minutes we each had a series of proofs to choose from. She’ll burn a CD of the poses and we can use them as we wish. I wanted to look thinner and my travel partner requested wrinkle eraser but… April’s not into computerized plastic surgery so we settled for excellent quality photos. We had some catching up to do and that took longer than the posing. I had to go home and wash my face after being the movie star.

The man of the house was watching a foreign language film with subtitles about Haiti in the 1970s. As if that wouldn’t be depressing enough the story line was of cougars (you know older women from developed nations who visit tropical countries to pick up younger men) at an opulent resort in the middle of devastating poverty, culminating in murder. Tragic. I asked him why he kept watching it and he said because he couldn’t stop so I’m guessing it was well done if gruesome.

Plans are well underway for the celebratory BBQ this weekend and the weather forecast is even great. We’re all so busy it’s a shame that it takes a special event to ensure we all get together. We’re up to over a dozen and counting. Will think of you all when we’re toasting the milestone.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Exploring the valley

Be who you are and say what you feel because people who mind don't matter and people who matter don't mind. - Dr. Seuss

Not a bad quote for an outspoken old nurse like myself. A co-worker told me years ago when I was complaining about being attacked for having and voicing an opinion that “if you have a big mouth you’d better have broad shoulders” When I thought about it I realized that since I couldn’t keep my opinions to myself then I would have to accept that not everyone would agree with me and…so what?

I’m posting the online photo I found of the rather nondescript town I drove 540 km return to and from today for a presentation at the Wandlyn Inn. The 5 hrs of driving were in addition to a 2 hr. meeting with a side trip to Frenchy’s - got to have my small pleasures. I felt like I’d traveled to the tropics as it was foggy, drizzly, cool at 10c and windy here all day yet it was sunny, warm at 25c, with the air conditioner on when I arrived in Coldbrook. The apple blossoms were even blooming up there.As for the positives…the sandwiches were ok and the cookies were right out of the oven. I’m sounding like the # 1 son here when I describe an event by the food. He used to go to birthday parties when young and when he climbed back into the van would say “it was great they had pizza and ice cream cake” not a word about who was there, the games they played, what the gifts were or anything about the house etc. One time when he was about 8 yrs old I picked him up from a birthday party where the whole class was invited and he was the only male guest, and apparently the entertainment, as the girls were watching him eat his 14th hot dog and cheering him on.

One good thing about today was that I didn’t have to give any vaccinations. Tomorrow promises a job site meeting for the renovation we are undergoing at work, several employees who have warned me they are looking for me and the usual fun and excitement of immunization land. Can’t wait.

However, am off to meet my travel partner and have our photos taken for publicity shots tomorrow night. You just never know when those might be necessary - famous author, speaking tour - the side of milk carton if life gets any more stressful as a grown up.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mixed messages

One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. - Bertrand Russell

Am trying to cheer myself up with the opening quote because as my teenaged daughter would say I’m a “mess” and proved it to myself before the work day was even much under way. The story is that I was supposed to tag along on a field trip to look at equipment. Well, when I was first recruited as the replacement I was told me the session was in Liverpool (about 45 min away from work) and for the morning, the group would pick me up in the rented van at Tim Horton’s. Well, okay I can handle that. Never did receive any info on the session, just a quick email last week from the manager saying the session was in Lunenburg (well it is an L name but 40 min. further on) and the pick up time of 0840 hrs. which I agreed to and the possibility that the affair was day long.

For some reason when I reached the office today I had myself convinced I was to meet the group at 0940 hrs and didn’t even check my date book. I started my day and by 8:30 it had completely fallen apart with me resorting to stamping out small fires in many directions. At 8:45 my cell phone rang while I had the office phone glued to my ear and when I answered it I was met with “where are you?” at top volume from the manager. In a confused state I looked at my watch which read 0845hrs and said “here in the office”. This elicited a yell, which caused me to hold the phone out from my ear, of “we’re waiting for you, this is the time we were picking you up!” I recovered my senses and said “I must’ve written the time down wrong in my book, I can be there in 7 minutes, I’m leaving right now” which was met with a loud sigh and “well we really don’t have time, we've been waiting and we're late now” Making an executive decision I said “well you just go right on without me then, I’m so sorry for the confusion” After I snapped the cell phone shut it occurred to me that they were still going to be 20 minutes early for the 10:30 session by leaving now. On contemplation of the series of events I wondered if I was somehow guilty of ‘forgetting’ about the commitment as I really wasn’t engaged in the process. Needless to say I found plenty to fill my day with, catching up on the paperwork - what made me think I had time to be away from the office for another day anyway?

Tomorrow is a road trip to the valley so that will be 6 hours in the car on either side of a 2 hr. session on infection control. Am already planning an early start as the Coldbrook Frenchy’s is a good diversion. Since I’m heading to another climate zone I must remember to dress in layers.

Tonight when I walked the dog I noticed that if the blossoms are any indication we are going to have a bumper crop of blueberries this summer. And that’s pretty amazing considering the bushes were all disturbed by the paving and new road shoulders here last year. The blueberries made me ruminate on blueberry picking in the 1960s when there were less concerns for such things as pesticides and being super protective of children. It was usual to leave the house early in the morning, perhaps appear back at lunchtime for something to eat, wander off to go swimming,, play at the shore or find some neighbourhood activity and eventually make your way home by suppertime without search parties being established or having to checked on by cell phone as per today! My sister and me and various childhood friends would pick blueberries ‘on the tracks’ meaning that we timed it so as not to have to relocate when the sporadic freight or regular passenger trains made their way through. We were entertained occasionally by line repair crews on either hand pumped or motorized platforms who inspected and repaired the tracks. There didn’t seem to be any parental alarm, from any parents, not just mine about this activity. I can remember being really ticked about the pesticide being sprayed on the tracks and having to wait for a few good rains to go back picking nearer the track bed. Mind you a friend who grew up on the prairies remembers kids being sent out to stand in the fields as markers for the planes crop dusting. And to think that we are very concerned if vegetables aren’t triple washed now in the stores. It's a wonder we survived at all.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Happy anniversary, happy anniversary

Happy anniversary, happy anniversary to…us. Can’t believe that it’s been 30 years since we walked down that aisle. We had a red serge wedding as the RCMP kit was free as opposed to renting a tuxedo and when we were married in Temple U.B. Church a number of ladies from the community, who wouldn’t have necessarily been invited but were welcome at the service, sat at the back all teary eyed, just to see all those handsome men in their uniforms. We had a receiving line at the back of the church and as they were leaving they all kissed their way through the line and congratulated us. The best man and groomsman had no clue who they were but enjoyed all the attention, the groom would whisper periodically to me “who in the heck is that?“ as if they were wedding crashers. The day was kind of drizzly, just like today, but the sun came out for a few moments just after the ceremony and made for some nice outdoor photos. Wow, we looked so young - mostly because we were - to think that I have two daughters older than that now! Actually the oldest daughter is the one who arrived with this cake as a nice surprise this evening to mark the major milestone. We have planned a BBQ here for Saturday p.m. as it’s too good an excuse for a party to pass up.

As far as days at work went - today was no worse than most lately - and it rained so what else are you gonna do on a Monday? Well, I had a list of possibilities as long as my arm as I got ready this a.m. but.. I thought about that great university that baby daughter will be attending in the fall and I picked up my umbrella. When you consider that amongst two of the districts in our region there are supposed to be eight staff (which aren’t enough to begin with) and today with a combination of work and vacation there were three of us covering things off in the middle of all sorts of crises…it certainly could have been much worse. And next week two of the team I work with in the district are off to Edmonton for a conference so I’ll be holding down the fort. I made it clear from last fall when the talk turned to the conference that I was not putting my name in as I had my plate full this year so hopefully the national event will be in a more remote location that Halifax next time around when I’m in a better position to go.

Well off to Lunenburg tomorrow as there is a presentation for equipment and I’m being picked up by a group from the district facility. It occurs to me that most folks don’t get to be entertained in their work day by salespersons trying to sell tubes that are inserted into people and then looked through. Life in the fast lane.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

What a road trip!

Friday, although my working day was shortened by 2 hrs. was one of the longest I’ve put in for a while. The MMR saga continues, contact tracing is never ending and some of the team are handling the stress better than others. It was sure a nice day to skip off a bit earlier than usual.

The baby daughter and I finally made it on the road by 2:30 p.m. and headed as far as Halifax for a pit stop.
A search of the bargain bins at Chapters and then (my Mothers Day) supper at Boston Pizza. Note to self, if going to Boston Pizza do not choose a Friday at 6 p.m. We were back on the road again after almost 2 hours. It’s nice that there’s no need to get off the divided highway from Halifax to Fredericton but it is still an over 4 hr. drive…in the dark, over unfamiliar territory without a map, to a university we’ve never seen and no specifics of which campus accommodation, after a full day already. So arriving at 11:30 p.m. we were delighted to find that security was most helpful and we were given room at the inn. We collapsed into the small, over furnished residence room beds and were almost instantly asleep.

Up at 7 a.m. to get ready for the orientation day. We headed over to a gratis breakfast then a welcome fair where everything from on campus computer sales, photo ID, meal plans, tours and various other topics were arranged in booths. A quick browse and then students headed off according to program to register and do course selection while parents were welcome to ‘what to expect’ sessions in their absence. My daughter reported a number of ‘helicopter parents’ who accompanied their kids and were not persuaded to leave the course selection process - apparently an increasing demographic. When she arrived back we signed up for a residence tour and learned the ins and outs of living on campus followed by a free lunch. University of New Brunswick in Fredericton is a beautiful (rolling hills, leafy trees, large lawns, well kept gardens, views of the river, brick structures) as in the photo on the right, and the staff were very welcoming. Very reassuring to feel that we’re handing our baby (and lots of money) over to this establishment for the next four years. She decides this is a good fit for her and is looking forward to September. ID photo accomplished, many questions answered, and more generated we strolled a bit and took lots of photos before checking out the town. A lovely heritage city we did a bit of tour and then headed out onto the Trans Canada Highway. With only a short stop for gas and a surreptitious photo of my mothers family home we were in Halifax four hours later.

We stopped at daughter # 2s summer place to find entertainment plans in full progress. Since the Argentine tall ship The Libertad was still in port and the museum staff (daughter # 2 and her co-workers) had become fast friends with some of the officers and naval cadets who were invited over to the apartment. This meant a call to our Cuban friend who was asked over in the duel role of translator/entertainer. We first headed out to supper at Anatolias (a wonderful Turkish restaurant) on Dresden Row - highly recommended if you find yourself hungry in Halifax. As we arrived back we found the downstairs neighbours with rock music thumping on the door steps making plans to go to out on the town. Shortly thereafter eight of the officers and cadets arrived with their museum hostesses and then our Cuban friend who assisted with clearing up some of the English/Spanish confusion (think Fawlty Towers and you won’t be far off).

We headed out just before midnight to Club Caliente the Caribbean bar on Spring Garden Road. I had originally planned to stay at the apartment with the youngest daughter but our Cuban friend assured us that she wouldn’t be checked for ID. “They don’t check for weapons or anything” he proudly proclaimed. When we came through the door the door man spoke to our friend, said hello to me and as I walked away I heard a loud “Mom!’ as he asked baby daughter for her ID. As I was preparing to make our exit and head on back to the apartment….serendipity occurred in the form of the coat check girl (who believe it or not was a close friend of daughter # 2) who spied us and wrapped her arms around baby daughter completely defusing the request for ID and we wandered inside. The club is beautiful, very clean, decorated like the tropics, exotic drinks, salsa music and free dance lessons. Needless to say the Canadian/Argentine exchange program was in full swing and they closed the place down at 2 a.m. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth for those kind of hours but it was fun to watch the young uns.

I crashed on the couch (getting a bit mature for couch surfing as well) at just before 3 a.m. to the sound of a male voice having a conversation with baby daughter. Turns out that wasn’t a dream but the New Zealand sub letter named Brody who had returned from visiting his ‘mates at a Barbie’ translated as his friends at a BBQ and was filling her in on the details. I woke to the phone ringing at 4:30 a.m. I waited and it stopped then resumed again. Now remember, this isn’t my house and there are three people asleep who do actually live here at this phone number who are not stirring. I trudge to the phone, answer it only to have to hold it away from my ear as it’s daughter # 2 yelling “Mom you locked us out, come open the door” I attempt to protest I had left the door unlocked as requested but she is adamant so I trudge downstairs and unlock the door and the gang troops in as I am still being berated for locking them out. Finally a sleepy voice of baby daughter defends me “no Brody came in last” and the accusations cease. All lights on and the search for one of the girls purses. I point them in the right direction and collapse on the couch as I listen to a cab being summoned at top volume before I drift off again.

Up at 8 a.m. to start out for home. The stop in the city was to break up the drive and supposedly catch some sleep - well one out of two I guess. A foggy, drizzly drive home to make sure baby daughter is straightened out in time for work and back to the domestic routine. Where did the weekend go? The first time I've thought I need to go back to work for a rest for a while.