Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And we're off

And they’re off, well….almost. Since we’re leaving at 1:30 a.m. and it’s after11 p.m now there won’t be much time for a nap but…I’m getting too eager to go to be thinking of sleeping. The chauffeur has called it in for some shuteye but I still have a few things on the list. I’ve written a long note of instructions to the #1 son of what to do and not do and reviewed it in person, the phone calls are made, all the chores are caught up to date, luggage is by the front door,

Today was one rotten day at work. First the final throwing of everything in the office into boxes, coordinating the move which will occur to somewhere in my absence, dealing with all the employees who had realized I was going to be out of reach for a spell and all the usual stuff while trying to tie up the ends, topped off by a needlestick injury to be dealt with just before lunch. I almost lost it as I was still thinking the fit testing technician was headed our way for 2 p.m. Thankfully the OHN in the district facility showed me mercy by keeping him there for the afternoon. Then a colleague sent a really beautiful slide show with music written as if from an older parent with dementia and that was it – the tears flowed. The Mental Health department was too busy moving their offices to notice my state thank goodness. One of them has so many plants it looks like a tropical jungle in that office and it took two large dollies to move all the greenery plus one large tree which a maintenance worker transported in his arms saying to me as he met me in the hallway “don’t you say a word” The Diabetes Education Center were packing and the DEC nurse was getting a bit testy so I told her “at least you’re not moving a friggin farm” and she was more jovial after that.

I received a really sad email from a former neighbour who isn’t much older than us, telling me of a rough year they’d had where her husband lost his leg, the artificial leg doesn’t fit well, is mostly in a wheelchair with two frozen shoulders, he’s very depressed (any wonder?) and cranky. She’d lost her job and then not been able to work with all his health problems, her son is living out west and basically she was just hanging on. Made me sure glad for my life.

I almost felt like running when I was leaving ½ hour late this afternoon before anyone caught up with me. After I’d arranged coverage, put all the out of office messages and memos out, sorted out my pay sheet and expense claims (priorities) and took the vaccines to pharmacy I took one last look at the stacks of boxes I felt like yelling “I’m free, free I tell you” and skipping down the hall.

The one thing I want is to be known as the title of a guy I saw in the newspaper today, he was called – are you ready for it? A Chief Visionary Officer. How pompous. I’m a chief visionary officer of the beach, a great new book (called The Kite Runner) given to me by a coworker and something cool to drink. That’s as visionary as I get for the next two weeks. Will be in touch sometime after February 15th to update you on the Cuban family. In the meantime you’ll have to amuse yourselves with your own little life dramas.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snow again

Well we are in the middle of another (yes I know it’s hard to believe) winter snowstorm and I’m sure hoping it’ll all rain off so we can scrapbook tomorrow evening. I don’t seem to have great luck with the weather and scrapping. In the shorter term I may have to beg a ride of the in house 4-wheel drive chauffeur. What a pain winter is.

Today I managed to get my three writing pieces polished up and submitted to the writing group. We wrote articles at our last meeting and are submitting them to the artist’s group so they can paint a picture from the visual of the words. My first choice was one I did about a NS Duck Tolling Retriever, now that would make a nice picture; only trouble is I’d have to buy it.

Reminds me of the time I did a presentation for a health education course I was taking as part of my OHN certificate program and I chose a project on health care 100 years ago. I decided to dress in costume as the local cable company agreed to film the grade four class my daughter was in, so I borrowed an outfit from a lady at an antique shop and some props and you guessed it – I ended up buying all the props. Not only that but it was the beginning of my medical equipment collection. Yes I admit it, I have feeding cups, bedpans, even a bottle of Lydia Pinkham’s medicinal compound with the original label, medical instruments, smelling salts, you name it, and I have it. Mind you, I did get an A+ on the project. But I digress.

I also managed to make a sweet potato pie a la Pete’s Frootique in the Sunday Herald column, which tasted a lot like Mom’s squash pie used to. Trying to use up all the perishables before departure day.

I fit in a dog walk before leaving for the baby shower and what a social event that was!! I have never attended a baby shower with over 60 guests and the gift opening took…well I don’t really know how long it took as I waited for my gift to be opened and that was over an hour later before I slipped out. There were so many grandmothers, great grandmothers and competing step grandmothers that some of the gifts were well over $150, some had so many sleeper sets in them I lost count, and many were completely extravagant. I am sure whole towns of third world children would share the dividends of that bonanza.

I stopped for a few non-perishable groceries on the way home, which resulted in a late supper. Then a halfhearted attempt to get the house in a bit of order in case there is a social event here tomorrow night.

After checking out the baggage allowance for Cubana on the e-ticket and realizing that it is only one checked bag and 23 kg out of Montreal (not the two and 46 kg listed out of Toronto on the website) I am assuming due to plane size - there was a minor marital dispute and reordering of priorities and packing plan. The packing, always a painful experience at best was further complicated by the liquid in the carry on rules, cats attempting to stowaway in the luggage, lateness of the hour (at 9 p.m. well past the life partner’s bedtime) and ADD and general uncooperativeness of said partner. There is a reason I was happy on some levels to not travel with him last year. What I can report is that the bags are weighed, packed and waiting for a few more medical supplies stored at work.

Can’t wait to get to work tomorrow to start packing all over again. Ha. But only two more days before I have two weeks off. Yeehaw. Must go hit the hay.

So I leave you with a smile my birthday twin sent along:

To all my friends who sent me best wishes in 2007, or promises of good luck if I forwarded something, it did NOT WORK. For 2008, could you please just send either money, chocolate or gas vouchers.
Thank you!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday's here

Why did it take so long for Friday to arrive if it was only a four-day week for me? I was certainly excited to see it though. This morning I was reminded by the shore captain that I’d promised to take his truck to be serviced so getting to work involved dropping him at his employee’s house to pick up the ton truck, stopping at the garage to pick up someone to drive it back and getting my carcass out at work after dropping off the test writing student at the NSCC. A full slate before I even arrived. Sigh.

The day was less than joyous. I was greeted with the news that I have to have my office packed up to move by Tuesday p.m. when I leave although there is no idea where the temporary location will be. I stopped to talk to a friend who told me about a local teenager who was battling some kind of cancer, which had appeared rapidly – I was almost ill on the spot. I discovered that the in patient unit was in turmoil, attempting to find a spot to admit someone into and playing musical beds in the attempt – you would think nurses worked for a moving and storage company. Earlier one of the staff had taken a real skidder and hit her head into the door when she slid – this is one of number of spills on new flooring of last summer which holds moisture when scrubbed. The workload was heavy and is always further emotionally charged when young patients (defined as my age or thereabouts) are terminal. I worked through lunch and then realized I didn’t have the dialup information for the conference call at 1 p.m. so I phoned a workmate who was at the session in Halifax and she wondered why I wasn’t on the call, gave me the info – and I joined in. As much fun as a root canal, what was I thinking? There was much back and forth to various levels of management in emails as we prepare for an accreditation survey. I went over to the Manor in the afternoon to take them their chocolate cookies and a card, which was not even close to able to explain my gratitude to them, and have a tea break. I did my February calendar only to cheer myself up because I was able to write vacation on half of the month. By 4 p.m. I had forgotten that I was minus a vehicle so hadn’t hitched a ride uptown with anyone to the garage so had to call and wait for someone to pick me up.

I will think about packing, thank you cards, getting the camera ready, finishing up my writing pieces for the group deadline, and getting organized for scrapbooking here on Monday night but…I’ll think about it tomorrow.

Six more sleeps until vacation

As I was waiting the arrival of the prodigal son (he was lobstering today) in a quiet house I browsed a book from the library called Rightsizing Your Life by Ciji Ware with the subtitle of Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most. Boy could I have used this guide over the past few years. It’s written for folks figuring out where they want to be and live – fits right in with Retirement Planning One Day at a Time eh? However, it seems as usual I’ve figured some things out the hard way. I spent a bit of time quizzing the girlfriend about her test on the respiratory system tomorrow (she’s studying to be a CCA or Continuing Care Assistant) at the Community College and she seems to have grasped the concepts of lungs and all their attachments.

Today was a day to work in the district facility – long pretty much sums it up. It did give me a chance to pick up a few items on our Cuban family’s wish list though which are not available locally – coffee grinder, sneakers on 50% off at a closing out sale, and children's clothes.

This evening I made a batch of chocolate cookies for the staff of the Alzheimers Unit and will take those over tomorrow with a thank you card. On Tuesday when I was back in the office I was missing my daily trek next door as it had become a part of my routine.

I also have to start packing up the office (ugh) because there is a flooring project underway where we all have to be relocated for 6 to 8 weeks while the floor is replaced and walls painted. Apparently the move date is February 11th when I will be unconcernedly sipping a rum punch and NOT thinking about work so I have to have it done before I go next Wednesday. Actually, tomorrow is a gift as I was originally scheduled to be in Halifax for computer training, which has thankfully been rescheduled to a conference call.

Speaking of being thankful there were a couple who were authors of a book (sorry I can't remember the title or their names - woman of a certain age and all that) about being grateful, living right, and giving back on CBC radio which I was listening to on my way home from work yesterday and it reminded me of a medical student's blog which I read - I'm pasting it here:

What Broke Me
Posted 01/15/2008 on Medscape Monica Kidd, BSc, MSc

I had been wondering what would break me.

In November, I was privileged to join a small group of physicians, nurses, and support staff from Atlantic Canada and travel to a village in northern Haiti for a 2-week medical mission. Bod Me Limbe, a few hours from Cap-Haitien, is home to about a thousand people, mostly fishermen, subsistence farmers, and their families. The community has no running water, no electricity, no stores, no cars, and very little arable land; it does have a school and a church.

About a year ago, Dr. Tiffany Keenan, an emergency doctor from Miramachi, New Brunswick, Canada, began offering medical care there. Since November 2006, she has gone every few months with a group of volunteer healthcare workers toting cardboard boxes and hockey bags full of medical supplies. For 2 weeks at a time, they work through the daylight hours seeing local people with all manner of acute and chronic conditions.

Yoella Teplitsky (a classmate) and I convinced our medical school to let us join a trip as an elective in community medicine. In Haiti, we took histories with the help of our Creole translators, examined patients, and, with Tiffany's guidance, came up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan, just like we would do in a clinic at home. With very few investigations available to us and -- owing to language difficulties -- histories you could drive a truck through, the work tested our confidence by the hour. Not to mention our endurance: By the end of 7.5 clinic days, our group of 12 workers would see more than 1200 patients.

The days were an appalling blur of malnutrition, poverty, and illness. I saw a man who told me he'd been coughing blood for 2 years; his sputum tested positive for tuberculosis. Another man, likely in his 30s, was so thin I could see the muscles at the back of his neck flex with the effort of keeping his head erect as he was led away for a bolus of fluids.

A 19-year-old woman, pregnant for the second time, explained that she had lost her first baby because she had been alone at the time of its birth and it had died because she hadn't known what to do. An 18-year-old woman explained that the scars on her arms were from her parents' beatings for becoming pregnant. There was a woman with a goiter the size of a softball. Yoella examined a child so wasted that he looked like an old man; his mother -- who had already lost 5 children and had 4 others at home -- was not much better. There was a man whose nose was kicked off by a donkey, and countless cases of scabies.

With so much flying by every day, and being unable to speak directly to anyone because of language barriers, nothing had really been sticking, no individual stories. Then one day, just before lunch and after finishing morning clinic early for the first time, when it was cool and we were in high spirits, someone at the triage desk asked me if I would see a friend of one of the translators. He had no registration card, but he had come a long way, and well...

The man was 27 years old, and his complaint was that his nose had been running for 2 years. No headaches, no changes with the seasons. I looked up the right side of his nose -- nothing. But even before I could put my otoscope in the left side of his nose, I saw a white, gristly looking thing. I asked him to try to breathe through that nare, but no air passed. I went to get Tiffany, and she pointed out that his left eye was proptotic.

On the spot, Tiffany diagnosed him with a brain tumor. Cap-Haitien has a CT scanner but no neurosurgeon; his only option would be to go to the United States...which was a bit like telling him to go to Mars. We sent him away with some nose spray and 3 months' worth of acetaminophen for pain. I stared dumbly as the well-dressed young man stood up, turned, and walked out of my examining room.

After, as I closed up my room and was walking over to the kitchen for lunch, I broke. Had I seen him in a clinic in Canada, he'd have been sent immediately for imaging, and if the tumor were operable, it would likely have come out before the end of the week, and he could likely look forward to a long, productive life. But this was Haiti, a nation of people living in abject poverty a scant few hundred kilometers from the dizzying affluence of Fort Lauderdale. Here, the young man would die, a disposable human being in the eyes of the world.

Many things have horrified me here, but this one cut my heart to tiny bits. Why did this man affect me more than a wasted child or a man with no nose? No reason at all. But this one dug its heels in and stuck. Until then, the work had made sense to me in an intellectual way. Now I knew it in my gut.

Since that was kind of heavy, I leave you with a smile as a friend sent along this 1977/2007 smile – now bear in mind that 1977 was the year I was married:

This is sent only to those whose level of maturity qualifies them to relate to it...

1977: Long hair
2007: Longing for hair

1977: KEG
2007: EKG

1977 : Acid rock
2007 : Acid reflux

1977 : Moving to California because it's cool
2007 : Moving to Arizona because it's warm

1977 : Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
2007: Trying NOT to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor

1977 : Seeds and stems
2007 : Roughage

1977 : Hoping for a BMW
2007: Hoping for a BM

1977 : Going to a new, hip joint
2007 : Receiving a new hip joint

1977 : Rolling Stones
2007: Kidney Stones

1977 : Screw the system
2007: Upgrade the system

1977 : Disco
2007: Costco

1977 : Parents begging you to get your hair cut
2007: Children begging you to get their heads shaved

1977 : Passing the drivers' test
2007: Passing the vision test

1977 : Whatever
2007: Depends

Just in case you weren't feeling too old today, this will certainly change things. Each year the staff at Beloit College in Wisconsin puts together a list to try to give the faculty a sense of the mindset of this year's incoming freshmen (my youngest child included). Here's this year's list:
The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1989.
They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up.
Their lifetime has always included AIDS.
Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic.
The CD was introduced the year they were born.
They have always had an answering! machine
They have always had cable.
They cannot fathom not having a remote control.
Jay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show.
Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.
They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.
They don't know who Mork was or where he was from.
They never heard: "Where's the Beef?", "I'd walk a mile for a Camel", or
"de plane, Boss, de plane."
They do not care who shot J. R. and have no idea who J. R. even is.
McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers.
They don't have a clue how to use a typewriter.

Do you feel old yet? Pass this on to the other old fogies you know. Sorry there's no larger type, for those of you who have trouble reading... It is good to have friends who know about these things and are still alive and kicking!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Of dentists and lawyers

Yesterday was my first day back after a week off and as hectic as expected with an added helping of condolences on top. Trying to get caught up on emails, voice mails, mail and other tasks from my absence took more than my day.

Today I spent 2.5 hrs. in the dentist chair getting ‘prepped’ which translates into grinding of several teeth, impressions, which almost choked me, then jamming of a temporary bridge into the space. All this while my right side of my upper lip and nose were frozen, making me feel like I’ve had a stroke or am at least an obsessive compulsive while I constantly checked my right nostril for sinus drips. The freezing finally let go about 3 p.m. and I ended up begging for ibuprofen off the medication cart on the inpatient wing then stocking up at the drugstore for the home front.

I worked through my lunch hour in order to make an appointment at the lawyers with my significant other to revise our wills because our circumstances have changed – no minor children so no guardian required, only one house (thankfully), son with Master Class IV (Captain’s papers) and full time personal fishing license so no need to put a fishing/lobster license in trust now. Honestly, you’d think we were the Royal Family who isn’t supposed to fly together as it is always air travel, which seems to provoke a revision. We do much more risky things daily ex. drive on icy roads as this morning than fly.

I received a request to do another talk at the library for Mid Week Break in April. They either liked my first offering or are desperate for speakers. We discussed various topics and I finally settled on NS Duck Tolling Retrievers which will be good to use for my cruise speaking – should I ever get my act together. I’m getting better at writing the little publicity blurb that goes in the brochure (this will be required for the cruise lines too). So this one reads:

Is that a fox? No - it's a NS Duck Tolling Retriever

Learn about the history, appearance, talents and temperament of ourofficial provincial dog. Sometimes called a Little River Duck Dog or aYarmouth Toller they make a great family pet as well as a working partner for hunting.

A loyal blog reader sent along a great website to check out for urban legends (in part because I’d sent a forward about Sir Winston Churchill and her hubby is a Churchill buff) to check their authenticity: http://www.snopes.com/ There are various icons to explore or you can insert your issue ex. free laptops in the search bar – so to those I sent THIS forward about Ericsson laptops….my sincerest apologies, sadly it is an urban myth. I promise in the future to check first before hitting send.

To end on a positive note, the appliance repairman we have been chasing for over a week to try to coordinate with our schedules has agreed to come tomorrow while the cleaning lady is here. So we will find out what the noise in the dishwasher is.

Actually to end with a bit of chuckle, I’m pasting the email one of my bosses forwarded this week about stress:

I'm not sure exactly how this works, but it is amazingly accurate. Read the full description before looking at the picture. The picture below has 2 identical dolphins in it. It was used in a case study on stress levels at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water. The dolphins are identical A closely monitored, scientific study revealed that, in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical; a person under stress would find differences in the two dolphins. The more differences a person finds between the dolphins, the more stress that person is experiencing. Look at the photograph and if you find more than one or two differences you may want to take a vacation.

Scroll Down.

No Need to Reply, I'll be on VacationNever take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vacation planning

While daughter # 2 was home we watched the movie JUNO and it’s not difficult to see why Ellen Page is up for an Oscar in that one. If you get a chance, give it a view. Not that I’m supporting teen pregnancies and I’m very grateful that I haven’t had to hear “I’m pregnant” from any of my daughters when they were 16, but the topic was very well done.

When I congratulated a friend who had produced four sons (including a set of twins) and had only one grandson on the birth of a granddaughter she agreed it was a treat and mentioned that her grandchild had Downs’s syndrome. She further explained this made no difference their family and of course she is correct. I told her that as a nurse for over three decades I had seen too many people wishing for babies of a certain gender, or planning exact spacing of children without thoughts to how fortunate they are to have a healthy infant. And of course this granddaughter will be special no matter what.

We are a winter wonderland again as well as a deep freeze. It snowed during the night and early morning and the white was quite a surprise on Sunday a.m. as only chance of flurries had been predicted. The roads are all clear by the p.m. as the sun came out for a bit making for a lovely scene. Not too cold for daughter # 2 and I to sort refundables which she is using towards her spring break grad trip to San Francisco next month. We were grateful that we weren’t cart people though making grocery money that way. We rewarded ourselves by scrapbooking a page in the construction album, which is almost complete.

Today was the trip back to university with daughter # 2 with a stop at the recycling depot for a $34 refund and then on to shop for her travel alarm clock with the profits. While I was waiting for stamps at the post office there I was listening to two men talking about how retirement almost drove them crazy, counting the days etc. and I was thinking ‘you crazy guys’ as I walked away. A stop back in Yarmouth to do some shopping for the Cuban family – footwear was the most requested item this year and the usual blockade barred items of Tylenol etc. Can’t believe is just about a week and we’re out of here. A grocery pit stop and we were on the way home. The visibility was poor / some slippery patches intermittently up and back.

More white stuff predicted for today and tomorrow, will make all the packing and fur children arrangements being made easier to take. Not to mention the fact that the Santiago de Cuba weather forecast doesn’t fall below 24 c in the next week. However, I’m not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow to face a week of extra workload in addition to everything else. Sigh. I think I’ll go sit in the sauna with my book and pretend I’m already on the beach.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Memorial service

Today was a very busy but positive day. I got up when I thought the cleaning lady was arriving but she never did appear. The mystery was solved when she called this evening to say that she’d found vehicles in the yard this morning and came in to see someone sleeping on the couch and had heard the message where I sounded so terrible with the cold that she didn’t think it was a good idea to try to clean here today. I kind of had to agree as it was a kind of busy morning with finalizing details, getting ready and trying to eat our way through food delivered. We’ve been eating courtesy of the kindness of neighbours since Tuesday.

The weather was windy and rainy but not snow at least. There was a large group of people at the memorial service, which is quite a tribute when you think of someone of that age. There were a number of employees from the Manor attending which was such a lovely gesture as Mom thought of them as her second family. I managed to get the eulogy together and deliver it with my gravely voice from the cold which is still hanging on. We stopped to visit with folks who stayed for a while after the service and that was a nice final chapter. We headed on home and my oldest brother and his wife arrived in a bit to see our house, check out the family scrapbook and genealogy research I’ve done before they headed back to Dartmouth. We had a late family supper with the kids and have finally unwound.

I’ve discovered that I don’t have to go back to work on Monday after all as orientation is cancelled so I’ll just take daughter # 2 back to university without any time pressures. Will pay the piper for all this on Tuesday when I head back in to the office.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Almost there

Today was another long day and not because I really did anything but because even happy social events take their toll on your energy and those, which are a bit more stressful, are draining. It was a mild sunny afternoon and much better than the weather forecast for tomorrow’s service which meant that folks with mobility problems were able to get out easily. When you’ve lived to be almost 94 you’ve outlived most of your friends and Mom didn’t have any enemies so that left neighbours, family and a few seniors. Lovely to hear the stories of this warm, kind woman and what she had meant to others to bring a bit of closure. I took out some photos and the family scrapbook, which was a nice conversation piece. I was touched to find a bouquet from former workmates waiting when we arrived – that was the closest threatening of tears for the whole afternoon – how thoughtful.

After beating it into town, returning the loaner car to the dealership, depositing the bank draft for tuition and then off to pick up a friend’s son who had arrived on the shuttle. This little guy had spent time with daughter #1 at her grandparents and she had done the same with him so they’ve both made an effort to attend grandparent farewell services, it was a lovely gesture. Lots of lovely cards today as well, so many thoughtful people.

Now, we’ve crashed as three out of four of us are sick with colds and are conserving our strength for tomorrow. The cleaning lady has left a message about arriving in the morning so that will make the place presentable should folks drop in. How come Friday is looming up so quickly this week?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Planning 101

Well my cold is settling a bit so at least I don’t sound like I’m a frog. Am busier being off this week than if working but it is good to have leave to deal with things.

Today I headed in to run errands in town and didn’t realize how frantic I was until it took a group of people to look after me. I stopped at the post office to mail a package to baby daughter then headed over to the garage to drop off the first born daughter’s car, getting a lift to the dentist. The dentist appointment consisted of x-rays and an impression for the new bridge I’m getting (which my dental insurance is paying only half of) and the impression goop pulled out the existing bridge so now I have a large hole with sharp edges in the back of my mouth until the second appointment next week. On the walk from the dentist back to the garage I stopped at the pharmacy for cold medicine and…discovered I didn’t have my debit card so I decide I must’ve lost it on Monday on the way home in the storm as I wasn’t out of the house yesterday. This caused a mad search in the purse; call to the life partner to look in the truck (like a dump picking expedition if you’ve ever seen that cab) and a call to the prodigal on at home to search there – no luck. I made my way to the garage and was informed that the daughter’s car was in need of safety inspection (since October) four new tires as they were slick as glass and they wondered how I’d made it in this morning, only had daytime running lights and needed to be aligned and new ball joint so they would find me something to drive home in. The mechanic cleaned off a new Sebring and I headed out to the bank to close out the education account but was told by the teller that this wasn’t possible as the account wasn’t opened here and I’d have to go to Yarmouth to do that. I insisted that I had to at least withdraw the money and that was okayed, with me agreeing to a bank draft, as I obviously couldn’t even manage to keep my debit card. The bank draft cost $6.50 but instead of taking it out of the funds in the account what does the teller do but withdraw all the money and then the $6.50 overdraws the account into the overdraft so I have to give her the cash (what little I have in my wallet) to redeposit so I can actually close the account when I get to the place of origin. I head over to Frenchy’s to pick up a pair of dress pants for the prodigal son as goodness knows what he’d be found in at his grandmother’s funeral if not. Then I head down to the graphic design shop to pick up the photo, which they have printed for the memorial service and we retrace my steps and discover I must’ve left the debit card at the post office. The ladies there had kindly found it and were going to send it along with the rural route driver tomorrow so I retrieved it, picked up a photo frame and decided I was better off at home at this rate.

This afternoon brought the kindness of a neighbour and former co-worker bringing fish cakes to feed a gang. The minister stopped in to plan the service for Friday and we had a very therapeutic chat. She was concerned I was managing too well and was just being a professional and I assured her there had been many tears over the past eight years of the dementia torture my mother lived in and actually more tears than I’d expected still this week considering her life well lived. The flower shop delivered a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my workmates this evening and the card was obviously transcribed by someone who had never heard of our job titles because it read “your section control and occupational health friends”. Well really, what are an infection control let alone a section control friend? Lots of phone calls, emails and condolences from near and far. Tomorrow afternoon is visitation and daughter # 2 has arrived from university so things are getting busy again, time to go.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A life well lived

Today has been an extra long day although it’s only 9 p.m. I spent the morning getting caught up on stats after the fit testing expert did not arrive due to the weather forecast and dealing with various crisis du jour. At least my cold made me sound worse than I felt so folks pretty much left me alone.

I headed over to the Manor about 1 p.m. to check up on Mom. Things were going down hill in a hurry and I elected to stay for the afternoon, as at first it appeared that she was in pain but actually was likely just frightened as she settled when I arrived. At 4:20 p.m. she slipped peacefully away as I held her hand and you really can’t ask for better than that when it comes to having lived a full almost 94 years.

With the major winter storm which was raging by 5 p.m. the life partner headed out to pick up daughter #1 from her carpool stop at Superstore and then headed in to retrieve me. As he said “with 2.5 hrs on dry pavement I’d be in Halifax with this much driving” describing the 4-wheel drive slog of usually two 20 minute drives. By the time we’d made it home and I conferred with my siblings the arrangements were made for the visitation on Thursday and memorial service on Friday. I’m not expected at work until Monday so the next few days will give me some space to draft a bit of a eulogy and hopefully recover a bit from this cold.

Must take my decongestant and head off to bed. Will be in touch as the dust settles.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What's been going on

As you might have noticed I have not been very diligent about updating the blog lately. And no, it’s not because things are more frantic than usual. With the usual rhythm of this house there are times in the past almost year since I’ve started this blog which would be hard to match for frenzied activity. A number of issues have conspired to take my creative (and other) energy over the past week or so.

Work has been particularly high pressure for the past few months with one team member off, another under the weather for a few days, vacation by a third and the holidays in addition. The pace of the workplace has increased due to a new team leader which means almost starting over on many levels as well as a high patient census and acuity. Some unexpected lab results and the looming accreditation process caused a peak in frenetic activity last week. None of these promises to settle for at least six months. And tomorrow there is fit testing scheduled (N95 masks not cardiovascular workout thank goodness) at our workplace.

There is another major winter storm predicted for the next two days, which will make the trips back and forth to gainful employment a challenge. Good to have a hook up with someone who has a 4wheel drive at times like this. I noticed him tweaking up his plow for the front of the ATV this afternoon in the weather breeder we had of 12c and balmy sunny skies. I had planned to host a scrapbooking evening tomorrow here but the weather forecast has caused us to reschedule. A small bonus is that the imposed deadline of today on the in-house carpenter for floor repair was met.

But dealing with my mother as she gradually declines after her fall and fractured hip has drained my energy. This is not an unexpected development for someone in her frail state and advanced age but is taking a good deal of my attention. It is also causing some confusion in the travel department as it has finally registered with the life partner that he may be traveling solo in 16 days to Cuba. I will wait to see but it’s unlikely I’ll be free to leave. So I haven’t been particularly engaged in the planning process and because I am the organized part of the traveling duo this is causing some difficulties. Also only one person and therefore half of the baggage allowance traveling will mean some shuffling/reduction of gifts for Cuban friends.

This afternoon I played hooky from all my adult responsibilities and went to a writing group session. I was online and didn’t check messages before leaving so arrived at my writing buddy’s door to find him not accompanying me. By then I was already out of the house and pointed in the right direction so carried through. There was an eclectic collection of about a dozen writers and we did some exercises to produce pieces, which artists will choose to paint. Will be interesting to see what they come up with for our offerings.

Off to prepare for work in the a.m. beginning with finding my winter boots which have made it to the back of the closet with our mild weather. I leave you with the following sent by my birthday twin:

Remember...a layer of dust protects the Wood beneath it. 'A house becomes a home when you can write 'I love you' on the furniture.' I used to spend at least 8 hours every weekend making sure things were just perfect - 'in case someone came over' Finally I realized one day that no-one came over; they were all out living life and having fun! NOW, when people visit, I don't have to explain the 'condition' of my home . They are more interested in hearing about the things I've been doing while I was away living life and having fun. If you haven't figured this out yet, please heed this advice. Life is short. Enjoy it! Dust if you must ....... but wouldn't it be better to paint a picture or write a letter, bake cookies or a cake and lick the spoon or plant a seed, ponder the difference between want and need?! Dust if you must, but there's not much time . . . . with beer to drink, rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music to hear and books to read, friends to cherish and life to lead. Dust if you must, but the world's out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come around, again. Dust if you must, but bear in mind, old age will come and it's not kind. . . And when you go - and go you must - you, yourself will make more dust! It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm a star

Well the workweek turned out to be a bit more exciting than I’d anticipated. Who’d have thought this would be my big break as a media star? Since a presentation was needed for a site which is a 2 hr. drive each way when the weather cooperates the suggestion was made to telebroadcast the session. This required a bit of organizing of equipment and personnel making for a frantic Thursday afternoon. I made a post work wardrobe trip to Frenchy’s after consultation with a colleague fashion advisor – not white it washes you out, black is too heavy, nothing with a bold pattern, nothing too bulky – kind of left only a pink sweater which was waiting for me there. When I wore lipstick on Friday I received a number of questions as to what I was up to from coworkers– they’re lucky I didn’t tell them to talk to my publicist. The session went well despite some minor technical difficulties. I told them that my husband had commented that being able to talk for two hours straight with no one to talk back was my kind of fun. It was a good learning experience and will look good on my cruise speaking/post retirement resume.

I also came home to find two lovely bar stools in the kitchen which are just the right height, have a foot rest and are good for extended perches. As you can see Gary approves of them as well. He’s taken to looking out through the bars in the back as if he’s incarcerated much like the kids used to when they were contained behind the ‘child safety gate’. Reminds me of one of a list of stress management exercises where you are instructed to look through the tines of a fork at folks who are driving you nuts and imagine them behind jail bars - works for me.

I took the Christmas decorations down from around the house today, which is always a sort of melancholy time as I really do enjoy the holidays. I was encouraged to do this by a 5:30 a.m. rude encounter where the man of the house bounded from bed, turned on the light and snatched a small rattly apple tree ornament, which the cats were playing soccer with behind the door away from them and stomped back to bed. Good to be a deep sleeper but a bit of a challenge to process all that from unconscious to full stomp in a few seconds.

Now for some of you who are more Martha Stewart-like than moi I provide the following link to 12 Kitchen Tips:

But in this house the smile of the week was the note the cleaning lady wrote saying it was time to retire the mop – did she sincerely believe that I have EVER looked at the mop except for when I bought it for her?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Small pleasures

Today’s return to work was as expected – frantic – but at least we had rain instead of the snow the northern end of the province received. Today someone had posted the link below and I loved the mask – think I’ll try it for tomorrow:


Just look under random fun there on the left and click on the picture. I also enjoyed the shirking work and living longer article. Gotta have your small pleasures.

When I checked the voice mail messages at home today there was a message from a local furniture store saying that the bar stools, which we’d, ordered before Christmas were in. Now if I was married to someone with a great memory I’d say to myself ‘he was trying to surprise me’ but today I just put it down to ‘he ordered them and forgot to tell me’. However the man of the hour states he was trying to surprise me and actually ordered them early in November, which for Mr. Procrastinator is the equivalent of a year early for the holidays. This in addition to the new mattress he picked up before Christmas at the other local furniture store as I mentioned we needed a new one and they were moving so had great sales. He thought I wouldn’t notice so exchanged it and made the bed up again but… the fact that it was about 12 inches higher gave it away. That and the fact that it’s like one of those heavenly beds you pay big bucks for at a swank hotel.

Tonight Gary watched with interest as his masseuse got a haircut with the new Christmas gift clippers – am guessing the cat wouldn’t find a trim as much fun as the massage. Well actually the impatient customer couldn’t wait and had to demonstrate how it’s done. One of the more relaxed felines we’ve ever had – Gary getting a massage – he thought this was great and was disappointed when it stopped.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Years

A photo of the New Years Eve festivities of last night just to prove how much fun we had until 3 a.m. which seemed like a good idea at the time but when it was time to get up this morning, not so much. We enjoyed a fondue beginning at 9 p.m. and the menu featured beef, pork and lobster, which we cooked in oil and French bread in a cheese fondue – yum. Dessert (as you can see) was a chocolate fountain with strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, banana, and oranges dipped in dark chocolate. A great way to start off the New Year. 2008 – hard to even believe that’s the date I’ve just typed.
After taking down the tree, cleaning up the mess and putting away all the gifts I am now having to get my head around getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. Why doesn’t it feel like you’re off ten days but sure feels like you’ve worked ten eh? I did manage to get some scrapbooking done and a bit of organizing in the extra time. One positive is that there are only three days until the weekend, but I’m confused as it feels like this week has had three Sundays – not complaining, I’m just saying. I’m sure that tomorrow will remind me that I’ve been off ten days too as once the holidays are officially over all those waiting will be standing by the door. The cell phone has rung pretty steadily the past few days so that’s a good indication I won’t be bored. If only 2008 was the year I was planning on retiring, well that is a bit too ambitious, maybe I meant beginning to work NOT full time.