Monday, July 30, 2007

National Day of Rebelliousness Celebrations

It's been a busy 48 hrs in this household. As you can see in part by the photographic evidence of the pig roasters having their supper the Moncada Day pig roast was a great success. It was also our Cuban friend's birthday so we made sure to have a cake and some small gifts. The last stragglers left at 10:30 p.m. and you can be sure I didn't want to get up for work today. Even more than usual it was tough after a week off and all that fun.

The sleep deprivation actually began on Saturday night when daughter # 3 and boyfriend did not arrive home at midnight as required by her graduated license. Meaning that she had no insurance in place after 12 and if she were stopped would lose her driving priviledges. By 12:45 I was beginning to get a bit concerned as she had left her cell phone home, I had no idea where she was or how to reach her. By 1 a.m. I started out on a search mission which meant I crept along at 80 km - the maximum possible in zero visibility due to fog - looking in the ditches along the way, assuming the car had broken down or run out of gas. By the time I made it to town I was frantic, located the apartment where her friend lives, crept up the dark stairs with a flashlight and desperately hoped that a neighbour wouldn't call 911 on the crazy woman knocking on doors at 1:45 a.m. while I called out the friend's name. She came to the door looking surprised and said "oh they left about 10 minutes ago, didn't you know where she was? we decided to go the 9 p.m. movie" The relief flooded over me, quickly followed by the urge to kick some teenaged butts. I made it home in record time with the gas light coming on 1/2 way back. When I pulled in the driveway on the tail of the car bearing the two truants the adrenalin was pumping. A (loud) altercation followed on the back steps. Memo to self - remember we have summer neighbours near us now as the yelling woke them - I learned later at the pig roast. The conclusion wrapped up with a grounding (I let you guess who that was) and my disappearance into the house too angry to get to sleep right away. If ever there was a night when I required more than 6 hrs of sleep...this was it. Only one more month and then no worries about where that car and it's occupants are because the occupant we are responsible for will be in a residence and the car will not be.

Up at 8 a.m. to assist with pig preparations and get started on the rest of the meal. The rest of the day is a (fun) blur. Thank goodness that daughter # 2 and her boyfriend had stayed to assist they know how to prepare for entertaining as well. Guests started arriving after lunch and pitched in. As my friend said later "it was just like being in the Caribbean with everyone helping out and having a great time". And yes if you're wondering, the weather did cooperate very nicely - the showers stopped in the morning and it cleared but wasn't too hot - so the gnashing of teeth from the life partner was unnecessary. There were about 40 of us and we had roast pork, fried plantains (tostones) congris (rice & beans) yucca (cassava) and fruit for dessert. Our Cuban friend (who is a bartender) made wonderful mojitos and rum punches. The salsa lessons took place on the front steps and you would have thought you were on the south coast of Cuba not NS. A great way to celebrate the National Day of Rebelliousness.

There were some positives over the weekend where the old house was shown by the real estate agent and she recommended that we wait to reduce the price as she says at least we're getting folks looking. There are some listings that haven't even been viewed. The real estate agent was telling me that they would feature the place on cable this month so maybe someone will notice.Our friends down from the city couldn't believe that properties weren't selling here and they decided when they win the lottery this will be their vacation home.

It was a bit of slog getting back into the work routine today not enhanced by the fact that I was the only one out of four in my district work team NOT on vacation. So there was the catch up, covering for others and general usual craziness. Nice to head home and leave it all behind.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mothballs and more

Yesterday and today have been very full days. An ad in the Lobster Bay Shopper for a rattan furniture set resulted in a late in the day run of a 2 hr drive each way to pick up an antique wicker set of sofa, chair and ottoman which was pungent with moth balls. This is what you get when buying something from seniors. They really gave us courage for aging gracefully though as they were retired in a lovely setting with beautiful gardens overlooking the Bay of Fundy, had been golfing that morning and go south to Sarasota every winter. They had definitely retired in style and were both sharp as tacks. Helps when you look into the future.

The late start meant a run home in the dark after a quick stop for A&W onion rings and root beer. Made us nostalgic for the time over 30 years ago when I was in nursing school and the then boyfriend had borrowed his brother’s brown Gran Torino and come up for the evening. We went out to the A&W drive in, this was in the days when you ordered from your car with the little radio and the waitress came out and hooked the tray with your order on it to your partially rolled up window. There was an incident with operating the window after we‘d eaten, the tray falling and smashing the dishes and when mister jumped out to assist the waitress she backed away like she was being mugged. In the confusion he was left holding the one intact A&W mug which he later presented me with as a memento of our evening. Tough mug, it’s made it through this many years in this household, moves etc.

I spent the early morning trying to rid the cushions of the mothball smell by washing the covers, airing the cushions/furniture in the sunshine and Febreezing the daylights out of everything. By the time I walked the dog and spent a few moments trying to convince some folks from Ontario to buy our old house (they were waiting for the real estate agent so I’m still holding my breath) it was time to get ready to head into town.

I met up with daughter # 1 and we took a trip in to have a special lunch, shop at the second hand book shop (found a sailing book for the shore captain) and a Frenchy’s run. Found a great book in the bin called White Trash Cookin’ which was worth the $1 for the photos alone! Scored two new t-shirts for the man of the house, and two fitted sheets for the soon to be university student so a very productive stop. Nice wrap up to a wonderful week off.

It’s a bit of work to get ready for the pig roast (although I have to admit that both mister and I enjoy it as we’re social animals and really do like entertaining) but it’s more fun if I’ve had the week before off to putter and enjoy life in general. This way I don’t feel as if I’m working all week, rushing around for the weekend and then back to work for another week. A good thing is that I don’t have time to ruminate about having to go back t to work as it’ll just be upon me Monday morning. Another bonus this time is that we don’t have the run to the city as daughter # 2 is doing the shopping at Pete’s Frootique for us and delivering. She’s arriving later tonight so we can get started on some of the preparation tomorrow. I will take the run to the butcher’s for the pig and Canadian Tire for the charcoal in the afternoon, the shore captain will bring some ice and then we’ll start getting ready. The weather forecast is a wee bit more promising as the big day gets closer so we’re still thinking positively and the guest list is at about 35 confirmed (which usually means 50 as whoever’s at your house is invited along when you head out for the event).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mulch, mailbox, cement arrgh

Well, as I sit waiting for the blueberry buckle to cool enough to hide it in the cupboard I will update the vacation log. It is a beautiful clear night with an over half-full brilliant moon shimmering over the water of the harbour in front of the house - looks like the cover of a Mary Higgins Clark novel. I was thinking of the boys out on the water tonight as one of the boats is headed in to the plant to unload in the a.m. and the #1 son is on another one, what a good night they‘ve got. Someone mentioned to me that I must worry having a son and husband on the water especially since the sinking of a local boat and I said “no I don’t, the only time I don’t worry about that boy is when he’s fishing, I know where he is and what he’s doing for at least three days” the opposite of what was expected of me.

Yesterday truly felt like the first day of my vacation without work or teaching first aid but I was up earlier than I wished in the a.m. because of a fair bit of traffic - husband leaving, daughter being driven to work, chauffeur returning from transporting her etc. I headed out and ran a list of errands returning in time to be advised by daughter # 3s boyfriend that she had called from work and “said to tell you to clip the cats claws” as he was transporting them in to her at the nursing home for a SPCA fundraiser. It is a three person job to clip Klyde the Himalayan’s nails and there were only two of us, him with no experience in this activity. Amazingly there were no trips to ER to deal with any accidents. The boyfriend showered and left shortly with cats accompanying as he was dropping them off on his way to be a sandwich artist.

I had about one hour of restful bliss and then…the landscape designer calls to say that he is going to pick up the remainder of the mulch. Just what I want to do, rake mulch. But NOT going to complain because this has been over a year in the getting done. The flower beds do look great. They’ll look even better when I the perennials get transplanted in the fall.

As I’m putting the final touches on supper there was a bout of marital discord arising from the male partner’s obsession with the weather. He began checking the forecast (remember this is five days away at this point) for Sunday on the weather channel and whining about the pig roast. I must confess that I (without warning too) lost it - big time! I reminded him we’d discussed it before we ordered the pig, asked if he could change the weather if it didn’t turn out the way he wanted, told him we’d have a good time no matter the weather unless he acted badly and made sure we didn’t and reminded him the forecast often isn’t accurate one day to the next let alone 5 days in our neck of the woods. I assured him I planned to enjoy myself he could whine if he wanted but not out loud and definitely not around me. We ate a quiet supper and then I departed for scrap booking class - probably saved his life I told the other participants. I got four pages of the house construction done so perhaps I need to clear the air before I head out as it makes me more creative.

This morning didn’t begin in a promising way as there was the usual frantic dash for work by baby daughter followed by a 7:30 a.m. cell phone conversation about boats, quota etc. with the fisherman who lost his last week conducted from the bedroom by the life partner. So, not only was I up early but I got to make breakfast for the landscape designer. Hmm. What is wrong with this picture?

He makes his way out to begin running cement. As he’s getting started he asks if I have a bucket? Yep I do, so I head back to the house to get it, along the way I clear the breakfast dishes, load the dishwasher, and open the windows. When I call out to see if His Nibs still needs the bucket he says “I wanted it about 15 minutes ago” to which I reply “if you wanted it so badly you should’ve been more organized and thought of it first”. Memo to self, this is retirement simulation to make sure you don’t feel badly for not being able to!

So in between being a laborer assistant for mixing cement, shoveling gravel and other glamorous jobs the positive outcome is that we now have our beautiful new mailbox which the kids gave us for Christmas installed at the head of our driveway on an aluminum post, mounted in a deep hole filled with concrete. As the installer said “just let that plow driver try to get that this winter and he’ll know it” as our old one was a favorite target last snow season.

I have a blister from raking the grass clippings. This afternoon I supervised the daughter’s boyfriend mowing the lawn at the old house and he did a very thorough and careful job. I was beginning to think that the daughter was being a bit harsh when she said he’d never mowed or done anything like that before. But as I stood talking to a friend who pulled up in her car on the side of the road as he was finished mowing and began whipper snipping I watched as he very methodically cut all the tiger lilies and sedum completely off from around the parking area. As I told the husband about it later I said “they will grow back” to which he replied “but not this year”. Sigh.

It had finally cooled down after supper enough to walk the dog and we headed out to pick blueberries. She is not a good helper, she tried to eat them right out of the bucket when I wasn’t looking and get to all the good bushes first - kind of like taking the kids when they were small. I managed to get enough to make the now cool blueberry buckle so I’m off to bed. Too much relaxation - I can’t take it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Enjoying vacation?

If today was any indication then vacation is highly over rated. I started out this a.m. to teach the second day of the first aid course. Headed in early to sort out the details of the microbial issues and then get started whipping the students into shape - tough job when they were no more morning people than me. A short break in the a.m. and rush up to the office I'm supposedly on vacation from, make some phone calls and head back down to the course. Lunch break is more detective work while eating my lunch in front of the computer (felt just like a regular work day) and then...just when I getting started on the afternoon session in the course I run out to the front desk to make change for one of the students and the ward clerk mentions the M word - yes MUMPS. So I am off and running to the ER to sort out the contacts there. Arrgghhh. There goes the afternoon break as I make my second call to the district facility. I was heartily pleased to leave that place this afternoon after finishing the course.

I call home to find that the landscape designer says he needs to eat by 6 p.m. "what were you having for supper he says?" so I look at my watch and offer to pick up something at the Deli. Memo to self, do not fall for this again for three reasons 1) he complained about what I picked up as the salad was and I quote "not fit to eat" although I noted he did 2) he didn't have to make anything although he was the one at home 3) I had to divert to pick it up this expensive alternative. I'm thinking he won't live to make it to retirement with behavior like this. I had fallen for the "we need to eat by 6 because of Dale" thinking it refers to a local fisherman headed in to the wharf, he is referring to a local guy who has a small 'digger' to make holes for the BBQ deck he is building next to the house who is scheduled to be here this p.m. It turns out he had said "between 6 and 6:30 and it was at least half past before he appeared, meaning there was lots of time to make a decent meal. Mister had connected with the garden center and found someone in who can operate the front end loader so we are what you could call 'almost mulched' as he had unloaded the stuff into the flower beds out front.

In order to distract the dog from the heavy equipment we head out for our walk. The blueberries are getting ripe now, I will be making some trips to bushes this week while I'm off for sure. I pick some berries and offer them to the dog, she's as pleased as I am with the yummy treat. She's a lot more indiscriminate in her harvesting though as she clamps onto a large bunch of berries and strips them all, white, blue and leaves into her mouth so I try not to let her self serve. One good thing about the blueberries ripening is that it signals the end of the tick season. Usually because warmer weather has come although this year that hasn't happened yet, it has made the blueberries very large and juicy though.

I kind of feel like I'm beginning my vacation tomorrow even though it is day 4 of 10 off. And there is a scrapbooking class tomorrow evening which I've already served notice that I WILL be attending. If retirement is like an extended vacation, I don't think I can handle the pace, I'm not ready for it yet.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Vacation is hard work

Well, this is only the first weekend of my vacation but I have to say that all this time off 'work' is hard work. Saturday (which was a day of monsoons here) would not have been much fun in a tent, so that eased the pain of not camping. I taught the first day of first aid to three future health care workers who require the course to get into their program at Dalhousie and will finish up the second day on Monday. Since I store my teaching equipment at work I decided to do the course there meaning I didn't have to drag it anywhere.

This will be convenient tomorrow when I have to deal with a crisis of a microbiological type at work. Now since I am supposedly on vacation (but answered my phone this afternoon) I will have to keep track of my time spent doing detective work and attempt to take it somewhere else.It's tough to get time off without physically leaving.

Today I spent doing a bit of manual labour and my arms and shoulders are showing it. I shoveled two wheelbarrows full of crushed stone into the developing pot holes in the driveway. Then I decided to pull some weeds at the 'old house' until the moose flies drove me off. Somehow, some way we are going to get a truck load of mulch for the flowerbeds out in front of the house this week so I was trying to get into the swing.

The prodigal son appeared at suppertime to take a shower after baiting trawl and was fed as we were BBQing and then headed off. Always the question of the day - how many for supper? Could be just us two or...a crowd. Either is fine but it does keep meal planning interesting.

The pig roaster is starting to make noises about the long range weather prediction of rain for Sunday. Now with our changeable weather it would seem bizarre to attempt to forecast it past the next 15 minutes. He has had firm instructions not to think negatively about the environmental conditions as we're commited to the process now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Last day of gainful employment for the next 10

Well, it’s official. The pig has been ordered so the Nickerson’s annual Moncada Day pig roast is on for next Sunday, July 29th. And it's our Cuban friend's birthday that day too so we will celebrate the Day of National Rebelliousness at the same time. Hopefully the weather will cooperate but if it doesn’t well we’ll still have a great time, because we’ve decided to, that’s why. My new motto as life has been too frantic lately. To recap:


The only son did not make (or really attempt to make) the Safety Council Motorcycle course last weekend which was worth $425. I questioned him repeatedly before I registered him and he assured me that he was definitely going. I reminded the girlfriend and she assured me too. But he did go at 6 pm on Friday when it started. He did however end up somewhere at a party because at 10 p.m. I got a call from loud teenagers telling me I’d won the 649 - when I told them his name they all yelled “man she’s onto us” and of course I can hear his nibs voice the loudest in the background. I could quite cheerfully have kicked his posterior into the next county. It is a good thing that he was back out on the water after getting the trawl baited quickly.

The youngest daughter’s boyfriend requires a first aid course in order to attend his university program. Every year I get frantic calls from students who are unable to read their instruction letters and so I end up with a small class. This is not a money making venture, very inconvenient and annoys me. So this Saturday and Monday I will be doing a class for 3 students - instead of camping because the aforementioned baby daughter could not fit it into their schedule. This means tomorrow I will have to head from work in the other direction to pick up first aid course supplies.

We’ve decided with two tuitions coming up in September that we HAVE to sell the old house. So I’ll call the real estate agent tomorrow and put it down to $82,000 which will mean we’ll see about $76,000 should we sell it. Got to do something but it gives me a pain when I see lots of $300,000 properties that are not as nice or no better. Sigh.


Tomorrow is the last day I work before vacation. Yeehaw. The plans for the week off include some yard work, possibly camping and getting ready for the pig roast. There is talk of actually getting the mulch for the flower beds. We'll see. As long as it doesn’t include microbes, I do not care.

Since today was pay day I picked up, brought home and put away $225 worth of groceries so at least that chore is done. I met several of the mothers/babies that I'd visited when I was a Public Health Nurse and it really made me nostalgic for that great job. This led to cleaning out the fridge, cupboards etc. along the way so became a marathon session. Now things are ship shape because the cleaning lady had come today too.

Daughter # 2 is back from her tall ships adventure to Louisburg and had an “awesome time” despite mal de mar on the first day. The second day sounds better with a view of every star in the sky upon getting up for 4 a.m. watch and seeing the sunrise, going aloft and having a friend take a photo. Great memories.

And that is what it's all about isn't it as we can't take the material things with us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Only two more sleeps until vacation starts

Now these aren't my honeysuckle but...they could be. When I was checking on the old house tonight the honeysuckle wrapped around the tree in the front yard was completely in bloom and the smell...heavenly. Took me back to days on the corner by the causeway in Barrington on warm summer nights when a motley crowd would sleep out (sleep was optional actually) in a beat up canvas tent in the back yard. When I think back to no screens, the strong smell of the worn canvas, air mattresses that went flat (hopefully not before you got to settled) lumpy, heavy sleeping bags without zippers, some kind of food which invariably got stuck in your hair and attracted insects and usually your head pointed downhill - why do I remember it as so wonderful? Those were much simpler times, that's why. We knew everything and solved all the problems of the world in those late night talks.

Life is so much more complicated now it seems. We have cancelled the reservation for Kedjimkujik National Park (and you can see by this link that it would have been fun:

on Friday and Saturday due to 1) the weather forecast - calls for periods of rain both days 2) daughter # 3 who was the main reason for planning the family camping hasn't made an effort to attend 3) the shore captain will have three boats landing that day so would have had to make major arrangements. So had to notify the other two daughters and regroup. The main point is that I am off for 10 days beginning in two days!

The highlight of my work day was receiving a parcel which included books I'd ordered for the office and one of them was Sanford's guide - this is a standard reference for tropical medicine / infectious diseases so it caused a major daydream of an overseas mission. You know I've decided that when something is less than five years away that it's acceptable to consider it as occuring shortly - this is my new approach. Excuse me I'm off to study microbes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is it only Tuesday?

After all the excitement has died down it’s back to the regular busy not crazy busy here. The media have been covering the happy ending for the local fishermen and as the full story is revealed it was an extremely close call for them.

The rhythm of routine is reestablished though and the Capt is back out on his way to retrieve his gillnets tonight courtesy of a neighboring fisherman. If this is what you do, then you do it I’m told by another fisherman.

The youngest daughter and her boyfriend have just provided her father and I with a private fireworks display this evening. They set it off on the beach below the house and we watched from the bedroom window. When I was asking him if we seemed that young the first summer we were dating as we were just their age now, mister says “well, we sure didn’t waste our money on fireworks, we didn’t have that much” but I reminded him that in 1974 it wasn’t even legal for us to buy them.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekend Events

I started this post on Sunday evening but for reasons which will become apparent later on in this piece I am finishing it on Monday at noon.

We had a busy and productive weekend here in this household being left on our own as we managed to bottle two batches of wine yesterday afternoon, I cleaned out the car, we found cleaned and organized all the camping gear - no small feat as it’s been 3 yrs since we’ve been camping and the kids have been, we stored lobster gear and cleaned up around the barn.

Our summer neighbours added some excitement to our weekend too as the son of one of our neighbours headed out across the harbour in a kayak, the fog shut in and they couldn’t find their way back so we got a call from the haul over (on the other side of the harbour) where they’d made it to a fish plant. I trotted next door to relay the message as the neighbour’s phone wasn’t working and she was on the phone to her sister (our neighbour on the other side) as there was a canine/porcupine incident. His mother ran over to pick up them and the kayak and myself and the shore captain headed in the other direction to assist with quill removal. Oh my goodness - their two dogs had found a porcupine and were a mess of quills - the worst we‘d ever seen. Jack the Airedale was the worst, but calm and Buddy, the pound dog was not coping well. We tried to help a bit but it was clearly a job for a professional. So multiple calls later to vets resulted in someone answering in Yarmouth who agreed to extract them. So an hour drive each way, likely a $500 bill and dealing with two agitated 95 lb.dogs would not be a good way to spend your evening.

In what turned out to be a short night the drama began at almost midnight. The shore captain had been chasing boats since 6 p.m. and there was one overdue from Ingomar so…the Coast Guard was alerted and neighbours on shore and the water started to search. One of the other guys fishing from this wharf saw him in the morning about 9 or 10 a.m. and they went in different directions after that. A tough one because this is a young fellow down the road, who has fished on our boat after he graduated from high school, babysat our kids, sells his fish to our company and our kids have babysat his three kids for him. His wife phoned about 8 p.m. saying she hadn’t heard from him all day and he usually phoned, she’s never phoned here before worrying so I’m guessing she was having a bad feeling. I reassured her that he was later than this two days ago and with this pea soup thick fog the cell phone is not reliable but…there hasn’t been a response to the Coast Guard broadcast on the VHF radio so there is general concern and a feeling of being completely in the dark here on shore. I insisted that the life partner here call the wife as soon as he talked to the Coast Guard as they’d asked for the fishermen’s home phone number, thinking that they would call her and upset her even more. So I’m asking all the Occupational Health & Safety questions of the shore captain - Who does he have with him? He names two young fellows from the community. You’re worried he’s carrying too many fish? Yep he’s been lucky so far, it only takes one wave. He has a life raft right? Yes but I don’t think it’s been inspected for a while and there’s no hydrostatic release (when submerged it will deploy). He has an EPIRB? Nope (this is an emergency beacon that alerts if there’s trouble). So it could be that all of his communication (cell and radio) have failed? Could be. He could be broken down and waiting for someone to come along? Could be. He could be heavily loaded and a wave hit him broadside? Could be but it’s not that rough tonight. So his buddy on the way in from fishing headed in past where he was fishing and two Coast Guard vessels headed out to search - the Edward Cornwallis (buoy boat) underway from Lockeport and the Clark’s Harbour rescue cutter heading down and out from Ingomar. It’s at times like this we all remember why fishing is the most dangerous industry in the world. There were frequent phone calls during the night, Air Search & Rescue, the wife, other fishermen until finally a check with the Coast Guard at 7 a.m. with no further news. By 8 a.m. the chatter on the set was debris from the boat was found and no sign of the crew but….amazingly by 9 a.m. one of the searching fishermen located all three crew safe and sound drifting in the life raft and a relieved shore captain left that message. A quick call to the plant for details “almost into the wharf” the secretary tells me an hour later, “I can’t imagine what his wife went through last night”. There was definitely a guardian angel on the water last night.

A quick check with the neighbours reveals that their dogs had to stay the night after the vet and an assistant removed over a thousand quills from them. This AFTER the in-house major extractions already completed. They were awaiting a call from the vet to go pick them up.

I must run as the 1 hour and 55 minutes sleep I had during the night is starting to wear off so I need to keep busy.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Of Lord Conrad and other issues

When a coworker asked today if I'd heard Conrad Black (for those who have been in a coma the past few years he is a newspaper billionaire on trial for fraud and obstruction) was finally convicted on 4 of the 13 charges, I replied no but...his other half, Barbara Amiel had a headline in MacLean’s online reading “Moving to Chicago wasn’t in the plans but....” so I had guessed. One of our Mountie friends who we were posted with in Labrador in the 70s, was doing surveillance about 10 years ago in the Bridal Path area of Toronto (mansions) staking out these Russian mafia guys he tails. On New Years Eve a butler approached their unmarked (supposedly inconspicuous) car with a silver tray of canapés and said “Mr. Black wondered if you would like a bite to eat, I don’t suppose you want the champagne if you’re on duty eh?” He and his partner had caviar and other treats from Conrad’s lavish holiday party but did decline the alcoholic spirits. Closest he says they ever got to living like that! Wonder if Conrad will enjoy the prison food as much as Martha Stewart? Hard to feel sympathy for a guy who used the company jet for a family vacation in Bora Bora and charged a $60,000+ birthday bash for the wife to the shareholders. Speculation is that he’ll serve a few years in Fed Med - translation - minimum security facility with no hardened criminals, no fence etc. That is after all the appeals are exhausted. Apparently he fixed the jurors with a venomous stare when the verdict was read. I assume he’s not used to not having things his way as one of the news clips today said he came from a rich family and was expelled as a student from Upper Canada College for selling exam answers. Hmm.

I can’t take credit for the following as I’m pasting the message I received from a former work colleague in response to my whining about my work:

All I can say is work is nuts and it seems to be everywhere. We brought on about 65 summer students starting July 3rd, now the 3rd was really orientation so really only began their tenure with us as July 4th. So far I've had an accusation of sexual harassment, 3 folks in the same building with an eye infection and newly-hired new plumber and casual who made a good job of disturbing asbestos, trekked it through a building, then the lawn supervisor ignored the KEEP OUT signs posted while the clean up is going on, to send 2 students to the washroom; Dept of Labour & Environment comes on site and finds a student wearing no hearing protection he left it on the bus and the supervisor claims to the Dept of Labour he is never issued hearing protection, only the students; the other lawn mowing supervisor decided to drive the sit down mower down the side of the road from one facility to another which is about 7 km away with the gas can on his lap and the Mounties stopped him and I visited two sites and everyone has their safety glasses on the top of their heads like sunglasses. I thought I'd recap in case you forget how dysfunctional our employees can be as well - oh yes to add a little salt to the wound, the lawn mowing supervisor who chose to take the tractor on the highway, is the training officer for the transportation department and I've heard unofficially from a mother of a student that he promised them the next time they go out country to mow, they will leave early and get the work done and then go to the beach. Now, he got caught for this two years ago which is why I'm guessing he wasn't back last year and knowing the folks in that area who know when a tourist comes within range, does he think a big bus full of lawn mowers might not be conspicuous at the beach? Supervisors are going nuts is all I can say.

And this story from the Cuban newspaper Granma about South American weather made me think about my friend in Argentina and how they were managing in their winter:
Cold snap in South America causes numerous victims

BUENOS AIRES, July 10.— The unusual arctic cold that is affecting a large part of South America has led to the deaths of nine people in Argentina and six in Chile, along with hundreds of evacuations, roads blocked by snow and hospitals overwhelmed in a number of countries, the AFP reported.

In Argentina, where people watched in amazement as it snowed in Buenos Aires for the first time in 89 years, at least nine deaths have been attributed to weather-related causes since the weekend. In San Luis, about 1,400 people were evacuated. The provincial government declared an administrative holiday for Tuesday and Wednesday due to difficulties with public transportation.

The unusual mass of cold air that is covering the entire territory forced authorities to ask for prudence in the use of electricity and gas, in the midst of an energy crisis that forced an increase in imports from Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, and a limit on exports to Chile.

In neighboring Chile, at least six people died in diverse southern locations, where temperatures dropped to 18 degrees below zero, while in the capital Santiago, thermometers hit a record 4.4 degrees below zero. The cold led to an increase of respiratory illnesses, particularly among children and the elderly, and it was feared that medical centers were overwhelmed by the large number of patients.

Emergency services were also swamped in Uruguay, where it snowed in the city of Nueva Palmira (southwest).

On checking the weather forecast for next week is for 3 - 12 c in Mar del Plata, a little milder as it's on the coast. Sigh.

The Granma also had a piece about Moncada Day (July 26th) which is their independence day as it is the date of the storming of the Moncada Barracks and beginning of the Revolution. This year the holiday is being called The Day of National Rebelliousness. Now I’m not sure if this is just flowery translation into English or making a statement but you gotta love that title. I sure hope we can access pork to roast I’m feeling a little in need of some rebelliousness myself.

I made it over to visit at the nursing home this afternoon and got to see the floor show as the Catholic priest came to do mass and when he arrived with his little black dog (schnauzer I think with a lovely haircut) there were sparks as the geriatric cat (Bubba aged 22) defended his territory. Made for some interesting duties as one of the staff attempted to remove the puffy feline defender without injury to herself, residents, other staff, visitors or either animal. A nice diversion from the reality of visiting lately as Mom goes downhill. One of the LPNs (who I first worked with 34 years ago when I was a student) said quietly to me this afternoon “you realize she’s really failing don’t you?” To which I replied “I sure do and there’s not a thing I can do about it” The staff are finding the decline hard to watch as well, telling me we’re lucky to have such caring. A life well lived though and she was 93 in March…

On another note, apparently the dog had a wonderful afternoon as she managed to get loose from her run and appeared dripping at the neighbours at noon after a swim in the harbour. She finally returned here about 5 p.m. all dried and very tired. It sure made her behavior better for our walk with the silliness run out of her. She’ll sleep well tonight. If she wasn’t so dense about the traffic she wouldn’t have to be ‘detained’ but it is for her own safety.

There were some folks over looking at our old place this evening according to the spy who was leaving to go unload fish at the wharf when he noticed them. I told him it was a result of my positive thinking and that I’d set tomorrow as a date to have a bid on the house. So keep your fingers crossed.

In order to leave you with a smile I’m pasting a joke my birthday twin emailed to me. I’m certain I’m going to be this kind of Grandma (although I can wait for a while for that honor) as I already can put my size 8s in my mouth quite nicely:

Little Tony was staying with his grandmother for a few days. He'd beenplaying outside with the other kids for a while when he came into the House and asked her, 'Grandma, what's that called when two people sleep in the same room and one is on top of the other?'

She was a little taken aback, but she decided to just tell him the truth. 'It's called sexual intercourse, darling.'

Little Tony just said, 'Oh, OK,' and went back outside to play with the other kids. A few minutes later he came back in and said angrily, 'Grandma, it isn't called sexual intercourse. It's called Bunk Beds. And Jimmy's mom wants to talk to you.'

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friday here we come

Yes tomorrow is Friday and I’m so grateful for that fact I don’t even care if it’s Friday the 13th. After driving a barely awake offspring with me to her adjoining job and ambling up to my office I began to attack my ‘to do’ list.

First call to the technology folks who were doing a ‘drop’ somewhere in our facility. This calls for supervision by infection control if they’re working near patient care areas and is decided by where, what and how they are doing the work. A call to the IT team leader did not clear the confusion as she stated they were doing something, somewhere in the nursing station and using the thing they usually use and had left already. Oh, that clears it up then. Called the Ward Clerk (who really runs the place) and she didn’t know it was happening, the Nurse Mgr who is replacing the vacationing manager called me to see what was the plan, and when I called Maintenance he was pleased I’d told him as it was the first he’d heard. They were all in agreement I could deal with it. Not a word all morning until…as I was attempting to get out the door to see the dentist as the bridge I had re-glued last month (yes this is déjà vu) is unanchored again…a call saying there were two guys from the cable running company wanting to install wire. We have a long chat and they are ‘with the program’ apparently they are alone in that place as they manage to find out what they’re supposed to be doing. Only problem - it’s through the middle of the construction zone so they have to wait until the air quality test is cleared before they can enter. I asked one of the staff if there were two guys hanging out of the ceiling and she says “no but there are nurses hanging off of stuff” I feel like I live/work in the twilight zone.

In the middle of the afternoon I call the meat manager and he is “still working on it” to get two pig legs for a pig roast on the 29th. I refuse to give up hope yet.

At one point when I was attempting to exit the temporary staff room (previously storage closet) to go home and I could NOT walk around the detour one more time…the door handle came off in my hand. I had the sensation of being in the back of a police cruiser without door handles or those knob covers for childproofing. I panicked (the claustrophobia kicked right in) and yelled but finally managed to get the knob back on and exit, however there were two little older ladies sitting in the lounge with very strange looks on their faces as I think they felt the aliens had dropped me off.

After almost an hour of errands, most of which weren’t mine, post work which accounts for the time I spent walking up and down the parking lot at the local mall dragging at least 30 lb of groceries. Memo to self do not buy jumbo bag of baby carrots, jar of jam, watermelon and whole cut up chicken then attempt to find offspring with keys to car for 20 minutes. Arrgh.

Rented movies on the way home and picked up Blood Diamonds as the landscape designer had expressed a desire to watch this. A very well done but extremely violent film. One of those you watch but it’s really disturbing and you wonder why.

Time to hit the hay as it’s that Friday I’ve been talking about here already.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I live in hope

Hope is a risk that must be run. - George Bernanos

And I live in hope. Hope that my lifestyle will not be as exciting, hope that my job will be more fun, hope that we’ll sell the old house, hope that the fog will lift - many things to hope for.

Yesterday as a second day spent in the district facility was…looonnnggg. I began the day early as I had at least 45 minutes worth of errands to run. First I had to stop at the post office and send along the original birth certificate of the soon to be tall ship crew and mail my membership for the Writers Federation of NS as it’s about time I stopped relying on the kindness of my writing partner to forward the newsletter. Then I had to be first in line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles as the ton truck was a month past its registration. My other half is a person who if you name any place in Nova Scotia (or elsewhere likely) will have an errand that you can do for him there. Going to Liverpool? Needs something at Steel & Engine. Going to Yarmouth? Needs something at IMP. Going to Shelburne? Needs something at Shelburne Diesel. You get the picture. Then a (futile) attempt to get a watch battery. You wouldn’t think it was that difficult a task would you? Wrong. I tried two drugstores, Superstore, Staples, Zellers and a jewelry store - no luck. By then it was time to head in for the first meeting so out of patience and time, I deferred the search to the end of the day.

After a full day which ended with a mumps meeting where the word is that the province is going to serve notice to employees that if they have refused the MMR immunization without medical cause and are in contact with mumps then they will be excluded from work without pay. Now this should be VERY interesting when it plays out. Can’t hardly wait.

After heading home late and finally accessing a watch battery - can you believe a little sucker like that would cost over $9? Time to start the evening routine. In yesterday’s case this meant 1) leaving a voice mail that the birth certificate was on its way 2) searching the Safety Council for Motorcycle Safety Course dates - yep it is this weekend 3) calling the girlfriend of the above mentioned course student (who is fishing until Friday a.m.) to make sure she rounds up the safety gear, reminds him of it and makes sure he gets there as it’s a $425 value 4) Being frequently interrupted by the youngest daughter who was sorting out the gear for camping as in “where is the____ “(insert multiple requests here) with repeated trips to the barn for gear, washing equipment in two sinks, using my good dish towel to dry said gear while I was attempting to write my art stories for the writing group. On the last stomp into the living room from the computer my other half says to me with a grin “what’s the matter - writer’s block?” I’m pleased to report that he was not seriously injured by what ‘slipped’ out of my hand.

Today began with me glancing out of the bathroom window at 6:30 a.m. while getting ready for work to see a neon green set of oil clothes looming up out of the fog in front of the house. One of the local rockweed harvesters was standing in the stern of the boat making his way across the harbour to begin raking. Positive identification by the life partner due to style of boat, type of oil clothes etc. Small place, no secrets here. Thankfully I could see him but he couldn’t see in the window.

Today at work was one of catch up from office absence so I was behind before I started. Collected an armful of mail, staggered to the office, attempted to log onto computer. Mouse is dead. Try all the troubleshooting I can think of. Call the help desk who suggest all the things I’ve tried, plus restart (which I do against my better judgment as it makes the system really slow and cranky - much like it’s operator - for at least half an hour), they leave a message for the tech. Tech calls back and suggests that since it’s a wireless mouse (which I don’t have at home) maybe the batteries are dead. I ask around and am told the batteries are in the storage room which is now an overland safari away due to the construction zone which is covering the elevator and end of the corridor so the long way around means a trek through another corridor, past the lunch room and back up another wing. Mission accomplished and yes it was the batteries. No the little red light next to the battery symbol does not mean you have power it means you don’t, red is always bad the tech tells me. Nice to know. Good start to the day.

The day progressed as it started with the list at the end longer than the beginning. What can you do? Retire? Not yet so…

I arrived home late to find that the landscape designer had completed the retaining wall for the flower bed on the other side of the house - looks great! He informs me the neighbour has visited as he “caught his finger in the electric planer and would like me to take a look” This request to play Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, is because we are 30 minutes from the nearest hospital/Dr office and I often look at rashes, cuts and other injuries and attend medical ‘events’ As I wait for the injured party to arrive I’m instructed to “get the step ladder from the barn” as the handyman is (finally) going to check the gutters. This has been an ongoing issue akin to when the car makes a noise and the only one hearing it is a female - it’s all in your imagination - until you get to the garage and the men there believe you (because they’re being paid to) or something falls off. But I digress. The debate about the gutters has gone like this since early spring off and on every time it rains:

Me: the gutters aren’t working as the rain comes out the top and is pooling on the ground
He: nah, must be the way the wind’s blowing it across the top of them
Me: there must be something blocking them, you should have a look
He: I don’t think the ladder’s tall enough and what would be blocking them anyway?
Me: there is a reason the water is coming over the edge
He: I don’t think it’s that bad and there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway
Me: can’t you see the marks from the water drumming down near the corners?

Finally when we were working outside on the flower bed on the weekend in the rain the water was cascading over the gutters, no wind, rain falling straight down, I pointed and said “look at that, those gutters are blocked, are you going to take a look or not?” So this checking the gutters could hardly be considered a spontaneous act. Can you guess what the outcome was? The gutters were blocked with some kind of organic (rotten and stinky now) material which when pulled out let the water rush into the drains on three corners. The most amazing part of this story is…that he admitted his wife was right ‘this time’. An historical moment.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Of mumps and tall ships

Today was a usual Monday in the district facility, doing orientation. It was a nice change to have a small group and one who actually wanted to be there and was interested. Tomorrow will not be as amusing as there are back to back meetings from early a.m. to late p.m. on three different topics and after three days in a row I’m tired of the drive up and back. There is not likely to be consensus about much so I take comfort in the following quote:

We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't Frank A. Clark

This afternoon I had a call from daughter # 2 advising that she would be sailing on a tall ship from Halifax to Louisburg as part of her work at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. She's traveling on the Playfair a square rigger based out of Toronto - here’s the website for the details - should be a fun time:

My first comment was “if you don’t have mumps by then”. She attempted to reassure me that the room mate had the mumps a long time ago. We (again) reviewed periods of communicability and incubation and basically there are still a few weeks left to worry. I can’t imagine that causing the quarantine of an entire tall ship would make you a popular addition but what would I know? I’m only a nurse and a mother. When I described that for male patients the mumps can go to ‘other places’ this caused great mirth and she had to ask the room mate if his mumps had gone ‘other places’. He quickly reassured that “no” he’d had a straight forward case only in his jaws.

A quick stop for the essentials (as per teenaged priorities) of strawberries for shortcake, photo reprints and ink cartridges for the printer. By the time we ate leftovers in shifts the shortcake was a welcome finale. How Canadian Living magazine and Martha Stewart whip up five course al fresco summer suppers is beyond me.

Tonight's follow up call from the would be tall ship crew member is that she needs her original birth certificate in order to board on Monday a.m. So sending it express mail has been added to tomorrow's 'to-do' list. The comment that she'd be as popular as ants at a picnic if the ship was quarantined brought her rationalization that "I'm pretty healthy, I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables so I shouldn't get the mumps" Oh my dear if only it were that simple. This will be a busy week with the tall ships beginning to arrive by Wed, all in Halifax by Friday and the parade of sail out on Monday. What a great place to have a student job this summer eh?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

While the kids played

Do you ever remember laboring really hard on an outside project as your small kids played while you worked? This meant occasional work stoppages to referee disputes, disentangle them from equipment or chase them. All of these elements were present today when the landscape architect aka life partner and myself (as laborer) were constructing the flower bed retaining wall in front of the house. You can see how helpful the fur kids, Gary and Keely were. The caption should read "come on, let's go, get this thing started, they're not looking" Not to mention that it started to rain when we were about half done. Proper thing that it looked so good finished. So one side done, one to go and then the mulch. There is hope now that perennials will be transplanted there by fall.

Had daughter # 1 down for an early supper because the writing group was meeting this p.m. at the museum to write about pieces of art in the gallery there. We all each chose two pictures and wrote about them. The finished work has to be submitted by email on the weekend and they’ll be typed up, mounted and displayed by the work. It was fun.

"If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing." -- Kingsley Amis

There was a teacher there tonight who is working in a private school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has been 19 years in the Caribbean and 6 in Africa. He tossed off names like Togo, Martinique, Egypt in his travels. He had been a French teacher on Brier Island, Digby for a while as well. Sure has had a taste of the exotic. It made me dream of my semi retirement plans for sure.

As well, when I returned I read the Sunday paper and there was an interesting article by Silver Donald Cameron about cheap computers for the third world. There are plans afoot for a laptop powered by solar or crank which sure has potential for my exotic work but in the meantime there is a computer called decTOP by Data Evolution Company that supposedly sells for $99 US and will run PowerPoint etc. If this is the case sign me up as it would work for my cruise speaking venture. You can check it out here:

This highlights the principle that we all buy seriously over serviced products and that computers are designed according to the gamers needs. Hmm decisions, decisions.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Retirement by perpetual travel

Life must be understood backward. But it must be lived forward. - Soren Kierkegaard

Retirement by perpetual travel - where would your home base be? Rent or own / follow the seasons to South America / Europe. I decided, while perusing the online travel site, that retirement by perpetual travel is a concept I can relate to. There was a notation that some folks felt better having a home base but no requirement that this home base be in North America and that the usual practice is to remain 3,4 or 6 months in one location before moving on. Sounds good to me. We can visit the kids or they can visit us.

Actually, I’m just glad to finally have enrolled in the Crown & Anchor Society for Royal Caribbean Cruise lines. There’s been a technical glitch and so after three months I’ve finally made it official and am now visualizing myself as a frequent floater. Memo to self, must get going on those speaking presentations.

The most immediate travel planning being done in this house is camping in Kedge National Park. Here have a look for yourself:

I made reservations online yesterday for July 20 and 21 so we’ll start with the weekend and see how the weather holds out. The plan is for a family camp on the weekend and the old guy and myself will stay on for a few more days (weather dependent) while the offspring go back to work. I’ve taken that week off so there’ll be no rush. Will give me time to get ready for the pig roast on July 29th should Sobey’s make good on their promise of two pigs legs for that date. This will have to serve as the plan B as we usually roast a whole animal but due to pork industry turmoil this is not possible this year and we aren't ready to give up on the concept of the fiesta..

Yesterday our Friday night in house date was the rental of the movie The Last King of Scotland. It’s the film about Uganda and the Scottish Dr. who gets involved with Edi Amin. Forrest Whittaker sure deserved all the nominations/awards he earned. It was a somewhat disturbing (not as violent as I feared) but believable tale and apparently based on a true story which are the best kind of yarns. My only regret was that I hadn’t seen it on the big screen as the cinematography with the African landscapes was incredible. I give it more than two thumbs up - rent it!

Today just after lunch as I was in the kitchen, daughter # 3 yelled for me to come to the mud room and see the large deer, owning the yard. She slowly made her way across the driveway, wandered through the field and finally very slowly disappeared into the trees. She was there at least 10 minutes and very relaxed as the dog was having a siesta in her house. Guess she was used to being here before we moved over so thinks we’re the squatters. I didn’t even think to grab the camera to document it for you.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Goombled and other experiences

Work was…interesting - isn’t that what you say when you don’t want to be rude? I had a headache by 9 a.m. (and I don’t regularly get headaches) and thought my brain was going to blow up - trying NOT to yell is dangerous!

I did however perform a random act of kindness for a very frustrated mother and son who were frantically trying to be proactive in the mumps situation. I had a call from a lady late morning telling me the most insane story of unhelpfulness from the entire healthcare system in several counties for over two weeks as she was attempting to have her son immunized before leaving for Cadet camp on Monday. She seemed very determined and I joked when meeting them that he didn’t seem like the kind of kid you were desperate to ship off somewhere. I think it had just become one of those situations where she was NOT going to let the ridiculous best her. Several weeks ago the cadets planning to attend camp were mailed a letter saying they would have to have an MMR shot. Now this is almost impossible as the vaccine is not publicly available yet. This mother had attempted to find the immunization records (incomplete) have her Dr. give the shot (off on extended sick leave) have another Dr. give the shot so drove to the clinic an hr. away (was given a prescription for the vaccine) picked up the vaccine at the pharmacy (several days later at a cost of $44) and COULD NOT find someone to vaccinate this poor child so he could go to band camp. She had spent the past two days contacting all the physicians in the county, VON, Public Health and every nurse she knew begging them to immunize this boy, no one would agree (liabilities what a convenient excuse) or wasn't available for weeks. When she laid out their situation I said “I’m a mother too, if you don’t mind driving ½ hr here to the hospital, I’ll give it for you” She tells me that she’s put a lot more miles on than that in the past little while and she’ll be there within an hour. A 10 minute visit and they’re off happy as clams. Doesn’t take much sometimes.

Quote of the day:
Elbert Hubbard got it ‘write’ when he wrote - ‘The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.’
Learn to see mistakes as opportunities.

I had a “Mom how you make……?” phone call this evening from daughter # 2 about kabobs and strawberry shortcake (as she was about to entertain her future mother-in-law) so I asked about the mumps situation. “Oh yes, the room mate’s mumps were confirmed by Public Health, but he‘s ok now” she says. So where are the rest of you in the incubation period? “Oh they didn’t say anything about that”. Review of lengthy incubation period etc. but no further clarity. I give up. I will adopt the Generation Y ‘don’t think it’s going to happen’ approach as it appears to be working.

I also had an email from a loyal blog reader giving notice of a job interview booked on July 26th so we should all think positively about this as the group energy will assist. Not that this is required for a person who is seriously over qualified for the position.

Today I found the term goombled as in ‘I stumbled across this topic while googling something‘ as a new technology term. Change always brings its own new language. As well, the comment on the web about a site called Zude where you can build your own web pages and drag and drop things into it from widgets to Youtube:
It's impressive that you can do that, I just don't know if anyone really would want to.
Now I’m thinking that comment could apply to many aspects of life eh?
The other quote which caught my eye was about what’s wrong with blogging:
Too many people, with nothing to say, who think what they’ve said is important and true. There’s no way to easily separate the noise from fact, from fiction or from wishful thinking. Blogging is the perfect post modern tool–truth is relative and everyone has their own truth.
Or the condensed version:
Blogs – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
Which would also apply to over 40 year old European and Quebecois males on the beaches in the Caribbean wearing Speedos! Sorry for that visual image.

Today I picked up the copy of Laws of Attraction by Esther & Jerry Hicks which I ordered online from Chapters. Supposedly better than The Secret which is now popular. Since the weather forecast (in which the monsoons have already begun) is for book reading weather I will make this my weekend project. Well, actually it looks pretty interesting so I might get a head start on it this evening - it’s almost the weekend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A sense of humor

It appears that the lengthy list stuck to the fridge with a magnet may be shortened due to a negotiated settlement. When discussing what tasks ‘needed’ to be done at camp such as painting the exterior etc. I advised the camp master that in order for me to become an indentured servant at the vacation home there would have to be some work done on the ‘to do’ list which has been growing for the past year for the house we actually live in. I used as an example the flower beds in front of the house. I was surprised/pleased to come home from work and find him perusing a brochure for masonry garden walls - here is the online version:

So there is hope of some revitalization of the finishing process. Priorities are becoming reordered as I found an invoice for said materials. Now the Martha Stewart plan has extended to the exterior as the suggestion I made for granite like materials has apparently been subjugated to the terra cotta preferred by the designer / purchaser.

Today I dropped in at the nursing home next door to visit Mom (not so good) and the baby daughter (doing well) and chat with the staff. As I passed the gift shop, daughter # 3 was approached by one of the residents (paranoid schizophrenic) who cheerfully requested “a pack of Players Light please”. Now there is no sale of smokes in health care facilities or smoking in public places in our province so the daughter says “no, we don’t sell those”. Not to be discouraged he checked the shelves as if she was joking and again said “a package of Players Lights please” to which she replied “we don’t have any and if we did I’m not old enough to sell them to you”. He stopped momentarily and said “you really don’t have them do you?” with a disappointed look. “Nope, we don’t, sorry”. He turns to me and says “well, I guess I’ll just have to quit then” and wandered back into the lounge. Apparently he’d forgotten he already had. The ward clerk was telling me that when his suspicion index was up he became concerned as he noticed one of the residents was behind him in her wheelchair so he casually sauntered up to the desk and said quietly “I think she’s following me”. The ward clerk explained she was just confused and wandering so he considered the situation and then returned shortly to say “I’m just going to take her for a spin around here ok?” and disappeared down the hallway. When they returned he advised “I’ll just take her up to the big room with me if you want us” and headed for the lounge. Now how you get from being stalked to a companion I’m not sure but it’s a good symbiotic relationship.

I spent the afternoon arguing with an employee who has retired but remains at work and is attempting to modify their job. Please someone provide me with some insight into my behavior should I begin to engage in these practices. The most recent crusade is to not have to assist in the in patient care area and to meet this goal…an indoor air quality complaint about the renovation project. I stated I did not dispute the reported symptoms but the air quality measurements were better than the usual air so there was no objective evidence to support the claim. This brought loud protestations of refusal to work in this area. I calmly stated “you are refusing to the wrong person, I don’t pay you, you have to take this up with your manager as there is no proof the air is not good”. This was not a popular position as you can imagine. As the volume increased a promise of “I most certainly will” was made. Air quality is such an interesting issue I thought as I watched the maintenance crew working away on the project. After that even crunching the numbers for the annual report didn’t seem as onerous a chore.

A phone call to daughter # 2 this evening re: mumps situation of the room mate. Daughter not in (out socializing) but her boyfriend says "oh yeah they're ok, they went away now he doesn't have them anymore". When questioned as to blood work "no idea". This would give you an indication as to why the Generation Y group have been having such issues with this mumps outbreak 1) they exchange saliva frequently 2) they live in the moment 3) are not concerned about possibilities as they are sure everything is going to be ok 4) do not plan ahead. Hopefully their stars are lined up in a row so we don't have wailing and gnashing of teeth with a quarantine situation.

Since humor is an important therapy, I leave you with the following funny:


An eighty-three year old lady
Finished her annual physical examination,
Whereupon the doctor said,
"You are in fine shape for your age,
But tell me, do you still have intercourse?"

"Just a minute, I'll have to ask
My husband," she said.
She went out to the reception room
And said: "Bob do we still have

Bob answered impatiently,
"If I told you once,
I told you a thousand times...

We have
Blue Cross!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Back to the salt mines

Well getting back into the swing of things after a four day weekend was…excruciating but not unexpectedly so. Chaotic is the descriptor I’m thinking of. And to top it all off, the week I’ve chosen for vacation is the only time the PowerPoint course is being given in July (of course) so my cruise presentation preparation will have to wait until August. I had forgotten how nice it was to have a daughter drop in from the adjoining facility to ‘do lunch’ with me. It actually means I stop for lunch instead of eating at the computer so today we headed out to the picnic table. And when the small hand is on 4 p.m. I’d better be ready to head out the door if I know what’s good for me when the co-pilot arrives to head home. These are much better work-life balance approaches.

Tonight we decided to extend our togetherness and head out to scrap booking for the evening, leaving the man of the house to tend the bread in the bread machine - well, it is for his lunch after all. We brought along a fellow scrapper as a referee / critic and had a great time. I managed to put together two pages in my home construction album, my friend was lost in the 70s and daughter # 3 worked variously on her prom, last summer’s sister’s head shaving for cancer and cat assisted scrap booking pages. The bonus is being able to pick up groceries afterwards at Sobeys.

I’m flying solo tomorrow as daughter # 3 is moonlighting as a sandwich artist after her day job. She was enjoying her first day back into the regular routine while being groomed for personal care activities (feeding residents) as she is entering nursing school in the fall. There are plans for a summer job next year doing personal care which will be a great experience, as well as double minimum wage. And I think more enjoyable for her than the recreation which although important is not nursing.

How has the day slipped away? I was going to head to bed early tonight - a promise I make regularly to myself and leave unfulfilled. Sleep always seems to be the optional ingredient.

Monday, July 2, 2007

At least I didn't have to go to work today

It was so nice to have the three day weekend and especially since the weather was wonderful. After getting caught up on the laundry, catching a few rays and finishing my book there was still time to do some baking so cherry pie and strawberry shortcake were on the menu. Tomorrow is Tuesday so only four days left to work and scrap booking in the evening. Gives me courage to deal with issues on the home front.

The prodigal son returned from the city where a group took in the concert on Citadel Hill for Canada Day but not in enough time to go fishing today as planned. This has made him as popular in this household as ants at a picnic. The Captain drove 45 minutes, then waited for hours and finally found someone else to go in his place late this afternoon. Wouldn’t a phone call have been the responsible, adult action if you were not going to make it back in time for work? If that boy makes it to age 20 without me choking him, it will be a genuine miracle.

In checking with daughter # 2 in the city (I had been doing the missing person search for her brother) she tells me that the sub letter from New Zealand in their apartment was talking to a nurse and thinks he has mumps. Further questioning re: blood tests, periods of communicability etc. do not clear up the confusion but add to it. The condensed version is that he has swollen glands, had serology, was told to quarantine himself and…it’s been long enough now that it’s too late to worry about if they’ve been exposed. When I attempt to convey my concern about quarantine, loss of work etc. she blandly states “I don’t think it’s mumps anyway and I’m sure we won’t get it”. Now what scientific evidence this is based on, I’m not sure as mumps is extremely contagious, they are all contacts and only one of them has had the second immunization. There will be more of a reaction if they all have to remain home without income for two weeks I’m sure. The mumps outbreak is at about 400 cases now and more expected over the summer.

Making travel plans for my navigator and I as daughter # 3 starts her summer schedule at the Manor tomorrow, which helps on her gas bill. It also gives me the need to out of the office on time - not that I mind that for summer hours.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Redneck Weekend News

Before we even made it on our way to our Redneck Rendezvous there were a number of opportunities to just chuck the whole idea. From having the car delayed for a safety inspection appointment, the top volume altercation with an unhappy offspring in the middle of the Mainway, not having a buddy seat (a comfortable padded seat which fastens on the back of the 4 wheeler) due to its destruction by the son so having to sit wedged between two milk crates holding propane tanks with thighs an elbows thumping with each hit of the machine as there was nothing to hold onto and no back support, and the road being in really bad shape.

But as we made our way in towards camp we saw deer, bear, coyote, wildcat, partridge and squirrel tracks and it was warm and sunny so the mood improved. My significant other had left the aluminum plate which he’d had welded onto the front of the 4 wheeler last winter for the plough and…we experienced irresistible force meets immovable object as we struck a large rock with a loud bang and were brought to an abrupt halt. Mister was slumped forward onto the handlebars, not making a sound so I felt his back to see if he was breathing (yes) and yelled “are you okay?” in best first aid instructor style. It appears he was busy feeling his collar bone and shoulder to see if there were intact (yes) so we both checked our teeth and with an admonition from the back of the seat passenger to stop checking for animal tracks and drive we moved on without permanent damage to either the bike or us. A good thing as the moose flies are pesky if you are stopped.

As we make it nearer to the camp it appears that hooligans have damaged the corduroy bridge there and the detour is through a bog. I have visions of the 4 wheeler overturning on a 50 year old woman so I offer to get off and manage to extricate myself gingerly from the machine and make my way through the soggy ground. The organic material is much like permanent marker and the black ooze has stained three toes on my right foot which will have to wait for pumice stone for removal. I elect to continue to walk in now that the circulation has returned to my lower limbs.

The camp was a mess! We were worried about bear damage but they’re too smart to tackle this environment.

The fridge and cupboards hadn’t been emptied since last November when the men folk were in for hunting season as they were 'going right back in'. This leaving of organic material is NEVER going to be repeated. At the risk of making you ill with the thoughts just imagine meat/vegetables/bread/milk etc. left in the heat to putrefy and decompose for the past eight months. I can tell you that I now know I can handle the disaster relief work that I’m planning post retirement. The sight, smell and ooze of the science experiment was grotesque. One scary part was what didn’t break down - Monterey Jack cheese - I’d like to think it was because it was air tight. After a couple of hours of hard labour we ate supper and climbed into the bunk, quickly becoming unconscious.

The next morning was spent purging cupboards and exterminating colonies of mealy bugs. Every dish, pot and piece of silverware had to be washed as the squatters had used plates and forks and just put them back in the cupboards. Ick! I told the life partner he was a lucky man that he hadn’t chosen to come to camp by himself - it would not have been a fun solo project. A self imposed time limit of noon gave the rest of the day to relaxation.

Enough of a breeze that the white sand beach was warm but fly free. Due to UV concerns a switch to the hammock in the screened porch - a good book (am reading The World in Flat by Thomas Friedman about globalization - excellent) sharing a bottle of wine while gazing at the lake. Nirvana. A late afternoon cooling led to taking up residence on the couch (for him) and lying on the bunk (for her) and zzzs all around in a pre-supper siesta. What a beautiful sunset, second night in a row and then as dusk fell a large deer bounced up from the beach and across the front of the camp. We were likely less surprised than the deer as there was not much sign of human interference this summer. After crawling into the bunk, a check out the window confirmed the fireflies were out and playing in the yard.

When were tidying up to leave this a.m. and calculating our sleep deficit remediation plan it appears that we must have required the R&R as we doubled our recent nightly sleep quota. Home in time to start a laundry blitz and enjoy the luxury of a warm shower. Followed by a decadent Canada Day supper of grilled lobsters which the chef had saved in the pound. Look at the size of these suckers - a half was a meal in itself! Yum.