Sunday, December 30, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Greetings

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

One more sleep

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

200 and counting

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Daughter retrieval

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

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

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

Or this Did you Know:

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No cards yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On the road again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

White stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Countdown begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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