Friday, June 27, 2008

Cell phones and coffee

Well the start of what may be for some a long weekend, not for me but a weekend is a weekend and I’ll take it. Especially after the work week and this one has been a humdinger. By 9:30 I was ready to call it a day and it just kept spiraling downward. No one was happy, the whole place was in turmoil, and one of the Docs had a meltdown directed at moi in the middle of it. When a staff member reported they had found a senior male patient on the floor under his bed the assumption was that he’d fallen so when the crew rushed in to find out what was going on he said “I’m down here looking for a part to my razor” with a look which definitely questioned the sanity of the three nursing staff hovering over him. Crisis averted. At one point I thought to myself “I must seem like Maxwell Smart in Get Smart” as he used to talk into the shoe phone and have one on each side of his head as there were three or four times when I had the cell phone on one ear and the desk phone on the other.

Mind you I had better phone luck than the shore captain who apparently was offered a coffee in the bait shed. Sounds like a pretty decadent bait shed with a coffee maker set up to me but he says he poured a cup of coffee putting the milk in and getting it just right then took it out to his truck and setting the coffee in the cup holder and his cell phone in a shelf in the dash. When he headed up over the hill (you guessed it) kerplunk the cell phone landed right in the coffee spilling the perfect cup of java and frying the phone which didn’t like the caffeine as much as its owner. So before 9 a.m. he was at the local electronics store buying a new one. This one (which he swears was the cheapest) has all the bells and whistles of camera etc. I can’t wait to hear what the baby daughter says as she maintains due to his cell phone track record he doesn’t deserve to have such a nice one. As the oldest daughter said when checking in from Calgary “how many cell phones is that for him now?”

Speaking of the oldest daughter - she was filling us in on a place she’s found in Red Deer, which sounds just right for her. One whole floor to herself and the apartment above has a Columbian couple living there so she even gets to practice her Spanish. Must be all the positive energy she’s putting into planning which is resulting in such great finds. She’s really looking forward to relocating now that she’s made the decision to move.

I got the car in to the garage for safety inspection and that resulted in a $300 + bill for rear ball joints so it would pass for a sticker. By the time I picked up my order from Sears of cruise wear (brown wrap dress and black evening pants which both are great) and grabbed something for supper I just made it home in time to feed the man before he headed out again to chase boats. As I headed out to walk the dog I had a chat with one the neighbours who’s a bit of rough around the edges philosopher king and he was giving me his theory on how to live a long life. “Just decide to be happy,” he said, “if you don’t have a content mind you don’t have anything”. He followed with “we’re lucky to live where we do and have what we have, we should be grateful for that”. I couldn’t agree more.

I had provided a reference for daughter # 2 and boyfriend who are in the process of rescuing a cat from the SPCA. Apparently his name is Braticus and he’s a 2.5 years old tortoise shell tabby who they have fallen in love with. The older sister had posted an entry on Facebook that she was going to be an aunt. Tonight when our son and his girlfriend arrived at suppertime she was telling me that her Mom was most concerned to read this entry and was alarmed they were adding to the world’s population. When I explained the feline adoption she went right to the phone to reassure her mother. I could emphasize with her mother’s fear.

As you can see I’m procrastinating from working on my presentations although I’ve got a fair bit of research material gathered, just have to get it together over the weekend. I’m thinking this graphic a friend sent may be a good illustration:

As you can see, unlike my travel/life partner I do not enjoy leaving everything to the very last moment then turning the house upside down while I frantically throw everything into luggage. But I am sure I will be an unwilling participant in such a frenzy in about 12 days because....we're into the countdown with departure only 13 days away - yeehaw!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hanging out in Halifax

Since I'm squatting with daughter # 2 in Halifax as I head to a conference in the morning on of all things....conflict management skills for women, I'm availing myself of the high speed internet.

I managed to misplace my drivers license and visa somehow yesterday at work while paying for the airfare for the October cruise so I spent the morning tearing my office apart, searching various areas, checking out the car, driving home and tearing the house apart all without success. I had a distinct notion of what dementia feels like for a few hours there. So I ended up canceling the credit card (after I checked to make sure it wouldn't affect the reservations I'd made for Iceland or Southampton both of which are tres expensive) and fingers crossed the replacement will arrive next week. If couriered to the local bank branch it's quicker apparently. And on my way down to the city I took a detour into the DVM office to replace the license. It was due to be replaced in September so this senior moment saved me from doing it then and the clerk was nice enough to say it would save me the $21 replacement fee. So a good recovery from the absent mindedness.

As the daughter was heading off to a class at the gym I had her drop me at the mall and I picked up some last minute things and then she and I hit Winners and WalMart after she picked me up. I found a bathing suit for the man of the house who says "how much swimming do you think I'm gonna do?" when I asked about a swimsuit. When I reminded him that he likes to sit in the hot tub he agreed that I should see what I could find then. Purse, sandals, makeup the list is whittled down to haircuts now that's progress.

I'm working on my presentations (when life lets me) and have some good leads for research thanks to friends, neighbours, the shore captain himself and the world wide web. I'm thinking I should be able to pull it all together by the first of next week as I'm getting too old to pull an all nighter for a project.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Details details

This post will be brief as I hear thunder in the background and I have had a bad experience in my past with a modem and lightening - not that I'm afraid of the elements but I really need to keep my laptop functioning at the moment. And besides it's getting late and my to-do list hasn't gotten any shorter today - it grew.

I see it's been a few days since I posted and they have been full ones with all the planning going on. There is air fare booked via Iceland Air from Halifax to London so now the only chore is deciding where to stay in Iceland - urban or rural and regardless there is nothing under $200 per night. The next step is transfer from Heathrow to Southampton and accomodation there as there's not much point in staying in London especially near the airport. We're all paid up for the cruise as well as having boarding letters in hand so except for the presentations the details are getting settled.

I've been doing some research on Norway / the marine industry / lobstering there for the presentations with the help of the in-house marine data source who incidentally took exception to the descriptor 'expert' in my topic description. As I told him "I am an expert on many things, maybe not exactly this but I'm certainly more knowledgeable than landlocked tourists" to which he had to agree. I have a lead on some more data for the 'life in the slow lane' topic and have been polling locals on their thoughts. So I'm feeling good about my chances of pulling it all together.

I did a bit of shopping for myself and the shore captain after finishing up a rotten workday today. It was by 9:30 a.m. the kind of day which (if I were not going on an exotic vacation shortly) would send me screaming to the job postings. I managed to find mister a couple of shirts and dress pants, socks (not his usual thermal Kodiak work ones) and send his suits to the cleaners so he is well underway in the planning department. I felt that all the personal shopper services deserved the top and linen pants which were a sale too good to be passed up.

My friend has confirmed that she'll be my travel partner for the Maritimes/New England 10 day cruise in October. Yeehaw. We will have a great time. We've already decided that we'll add an extra day in New York and see a Broadway show after the cruise. And the best part is that she looks after and dresses herself. Can't wait.

What could be better? To be retired and not have to get up to face work in the a.m. but that is for another daydream.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An embarassment of riches

Well an embarrassment of cruises at least. Be careful what you wish for. Today there was a call from the entertainment manager saying that she’d not received my acceptance of the offer. I sent my message again and received an email saying my reply was blank so I called and left a message saying “call me on my cell anytime, there’s a problem with your email and I promise I am going to be on that ship when it heads towards Norway” When she called me this afternoon we worked out that I am definitely accepting and that it was just technical difficulties.

Then she says “oh I had a message from Princess cruises saying you’d been accepted for the Maritimes/New England cruise in October are you still interested in that?” After assuring her I most certainly am, the planning for that venue began. And of course the need to do at least 3 or 4 destination presentations for mid-October. I feel like I’ve handed in outlines for term papers, which I haven’t done yet and they’re due shortly. It will be interesting to see which ones they’ve chosen – won’t matter I don’t have any destination presentations in the can and the special interest ones for Norway take precedence at this point. As the travel partner said this evening “how’s your homework coming?”

The issue is that the shore captain will be stretching things to have over two weeks away from the business in peak fishing season to begin with. In addition we’ve made plans to head to Calgary using all our available air miles to visit with daughter #1 from Sept 25 – Oct 5, taking in the Sheryl Crowe concert, celebrating our birthdays, visiting the Calgary Zoo as well as heading up to Prince Albert to visit displaced Nova Scotians while delivering them pepperoni and celebrating another birthday and new job there. This means I will be home and have one week to work before heading off on the Thanksgiving weekend to Quebec City to begin the Classic New England and Maritimes cruise on the Sea Princess. Here’s some info to check out:


Day 1
Quebec City, Quebec
12:00 AM
Day 2
Quebec City, Quebec
5:00 PM
Day 3
At Sea
Day 4
Charlottetown, Canada
8:00 AM
5:00 PM
Day 5
Sydney, Nova Scotia
8:00 AM
5:00 PM
Day 6
Halifax, Nova Scotia
8:00 AM
5:00 PM
Day 7
Saint John, New Brunswick
12:00 PM
7:30 PM
Day 8
Portland, Maine
8:00 AM
7:00 PM
Day 9
Boston, Massachusetts
8:00 AM
5:00 PM
Day 10
Newport, Rhode Island
10:00 AM
6:00 PM
Day 11
New York City (Manhattan or Brooklyn), New York
7:15 AM

I’ve asked a travel partner to accompany and the wait list is already extensive so no emails please. Just kidding. It will still be a nice trip although not as exotic as Scandinavia the man says so he will not be offended and he’s already making hunting plans and will be getting ready for lobstering. Both my work teammates who will cover for me said, “I hate you” as I was reviewing my vacation schedule of five weeks vacation within three months.

The man, me, son and girlfriend watched the marketing DVD from Princess this evening while finishing off the second bottle of champagne and the Bucket List is growing. Panama Canal, South America, and Tahiti, Australia I could go on. Did you know you could do a 103-day (I think it was) world tour? When I told mister that I’d settled the $780 invoice online this afternoon meaning we’re going for sure his eyes lit up. The last details are what tour/hotel we’d like to book in Iceland on our stopover, as that needs to be done with the flight booking and apparently the decisions are endless. I’m guessing the man will be a bigger fan of the geyser and glacier tour than swimming in the Blue Lagoon but who am I to know? That discussion is for tomorrow.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m off to a funeral for a friend’s mother. She lived a long, full life and managed it her way, that we could all be that fortunate to still have our faculties until the end.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cruise planning 101

Well today has been a whirlwind of activity, as it appears the next 24 or so will be as well. I received the booking registration form and my confirmation letter from the entertainment agency with a manual on how to behave ourselves – nothing we can’t live with as in ‘dress appropriately, be positive, don’t rush to be first and if a line forms walk away’ It appears they already know my travel partner – a man who is unwilling to stand in line behind other humans at banks, grocery stores or other service areas for longer than 3 minutes – so this should work out fine. A quick check of the closet does however confirm a trip to Frenchy’s is in order to spiff up the ‘country club casual’ wardrobe suggested for the cruise for himself. Checking the weather on the different stops it looks like highs of 15 – 17 c and lows of 8 – 11c with little chance of fog.

I was impressed to find a 20% discount for shore excursions or the opportunity to escort a group (all you have to do is count passengers to make sure they all return – I’ve certainly been a parent volunteer on school field trips, I’m an expert) for free. A 15% off drinks and tips included. The assignment is an inside cabin – better for the insomniac I’m traveling with and midnight sun conflict – as well as stability. And how much time do you spend in your room at a resort or cabin at sea anyway?

On the more concerning side of things my topics are listed for the cruise line in order as lobstering (done) Norway’s marine industry and Life in the slow lane (both just conceptual at present) and NS Duck Tollers as an alternate (done) so I have a bit of work cut out for me in the next week or so.

I’m just settling the airfare now as the last minute; peak season rates are not cheap! The travel agent suggested Iceland Air as the most reasonable so that led to thoughts of a stopover in Reykjavik. If we’re doing this what’s one more stop eh?

The transplanted out west friend wrote to say her husband has landed a better job and of course he’s deserved that for some time and is finally getting recognized for his talents. So congratulations are certainly in order. Plans are underway for the fall visit of the Calgary daughter and us all up to Prince Albert to visit them with her only request being Chris Brother’s pepperoni for pizza. Mind you these are the same folks who used to fly back on vacation with coolers of Polish sausage from the prairies in a nod to his heritage.

It appears our friends outside of Dartmouth have been spared with the forest fire under control better now – there were three houses burnt there. No word from Iowa City so we’re hoping the summer neighbours are doing okay and not filling sandbags or bailing due to the floods.

Anyway, enough rambling…I’m on for a nursing staff orientation session first thing in the a.m. and have to be a bit conscious.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yeehaw we're going on a cruise to Norway

You read that correctly…we (as in the shore captain and me) are going to be on the Grand Princess cruising in the Norwegian fiords in less than a month from now. I have been accepted as a specialist interest speaker on a 12-day cruise out of Southampton up the coast of Norway to inside the Arctic Circle. Here’s the link to check the ship out:

The opportunity was posted on Friday as I’m guessing a speaker’s circumstances changed and I jumped on it and submitted my topics that p.m. while in the city. I heard back first thing this a.m. that the booking agency was sending a proposal to Princess Cruises and I was accepted after lunch.

Needless to say I had vacation coverage for myself and the offer extended to the life partner within five minutes – he certainly didn’t pause when accepting, as it has been his dream to return to Norway for almost 15 yrs since he traveled there with a government mission. Although he told me that he “doesn’t get excited” when I asked I noticed he was keen to watch the DVD from Princess Cruises but had to settle for the brochure as the cat has chewed through two DVD cords in the past few months. That Gary! When someone at work asked if I was going to go or had coverage I told them the date was well within the two weeks notice I have to give.

The only slight glitch is that I submitted five topics (they requested 4 or 5) and they choose 2 or 3 but…I’ve only got two PowerPoints ready to roll at present. Since the agency will be putting my topics in a different order tomorrow I’ll perhaps have 3 presentations to pull together in a few weeks. Reminds me of university term paper outlines then having to produce the goods.

I’ve been checking on flights and can likely do better myself with a cheap charter or perhaps one of the local agents can top the quote the crew travel came up with. It’ll sure be a cost effective vacation for the two of us when you figure that at maximum it will be 10% of sale cost for the cruise.

I told the baby daughter as we were celebrating her 19th birthday supper that she must have been the charm as a few good things happened today. None of them directly related to work mind you. Her father, myself and the birthday girl celebrated with a bottle of champagne as promised due to my landing the speaking gig and her being of legal age. Where did the time go as she’s a second year university student now.

The oldest daughter had called from Calgary yesterday on Father’s Day to say she’d managed to pick up tickets to Cheryl Crowe concert being held there on October 1st, which also happens to be her 24th birthday. We’ve made plans to head out for our two birthdays, which are two days apart so I think her father was as pleased with that news as the cruise. He won’t have to worry if he fits into his suit for that event at least.

On a less pleasant topic I learned over the weekend that a good friend’s mother had died as was expected so the planning is that the funeral will be on Wednesday afternoon. It seems that all of us are dealing with elderly parents now due to the demographics. Always wish there was more I could do, a batch of chocolate chip cookies just doesn’t cut it.

We’ve been worried about our summer neighbours from Iowa as there’s major flooding and several of the community have asked about their whereabouts. Apparently the evacuation order was lifted in the forest fire outside of Dartmouth so our friends there are getting a bit of a break. So much going on.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hello from the Big Smoke

As you can see from the title we're in the city this weekend and if you've been following the news you may know there is a major forest fire raging on the other side of metro in the Porters Lake area. We're wondering if our friends in Mineville are doing okay. The only word we've had from them is an email to a group of us saying that there is a mandatory evacuation order for homes on the other side of the road. There has been an evacuation center set up and access is denied to the area. The photos are available on the Chronicle Herald website here:

We headed down Friday afternoon in what could only be described as one of the most disorganized expeditions in history. This is due in large part to the fact that the male travel partner was entrusted with the final arrangements. Bad idea. Not only did he arrive very late but he managed to show up at the carpool parking lot we met at without the pillows or sheets and with the baby daughter's boyfriend's air mattress - this at bedtime proved to have a defunct pump and the single (not double as promised) mattress which I was delegated to sleep on was completely flat within a couple of hours. Wonderful.

Today with a shopping spree to purchase a queen sized air mattress and electric pump we are more prepared to actually get some sleep tonight. The day in the city also resulted in a new pair of Birkenstock sandals - hope these ones are as serviceable as the previous which lasted 7 years. Speaking of all things back to nature, we visited the Farmers Market and couldn't resist the temptations of the plants and a few other treats - good thing we don't live in the city as we'd be even more broke. Made a visit to a good second hand bookshop called Back Pages and picked up some reading material then headed down to The Old Triangle for some lunch and to check out the cruise ship brochures I'd convinced the travel agent at the mall to give me - she didn't need to know I'm trying to travel for free.

We picked up daughter # 2 after work, then her boyfriend and headed out to The Greek Festival which we discovered is not much more than a large eating venue. Mind you, the food was good but the crowds were large and the lines long so we brought our delicious dessert home to eat. The highlight of the event was the tour of the Greek Orthodox church which was gorgeous and the priest gave an overview of the history.

The daughter was most pleased to find a $10 bike at a yard sale on the way to the festival which her father was able to make serviceable for the morning for her morning commute to work to try it out. After picking up a helmet she's good to go. We're all set for bikes now as I picked up the two bikes I'd negotiated on the Buy n Sell bulletin board at work from the Valley when I traveled up Wednesday for a meeting.

The week just past was a full one as we've had a rush of meetings at work getting ready for the accreditation process which will culminate in a surveyors visit in September. Had three days on the road and two hectic ones in the office to try to catch up after the previous week away. I was glad to see the weekend arrive. Too bad it's flown by.

I leave you with a smile which you must read all the way through, it's not as it seems:

Married Life

After 20 years of marriage, a couple was lying in bed one evening, when
the wife felt her husband begin to touch her in ways he hadn't in quite some

It almost tickled as his fingers started at her neck, and then began
moving down past the small of her back.

He then slid his hand across her shoulders and neck, slowly worked down
over one breast, then the other, stopping just over her lower stomach.

He then placed his hand on her left inner arm, caressed past the side of
her breast again, working down her side, passed gently over and then in
between her buttocks and down her leg to her calf.

Then, he proceeded up her inner thigh, stopping just at the uppermost
portion of her leg. He continued in the same manner on her right side,
then suddenly stopped, rolled over and became silent.

As she had become quite aroused by this caressing, she asked in a loving
voice, "That was wonderful. Why did you stop?"

"I found the remote," he said.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Back to...reality

Well, it's been a week and a long one at that since I've updated you. And the one ahead is promising to be pretty hectic too with three on the road days and playing catch up as well.

On Saturday after picking up daughter # 2 in Halifax and dropping off lobsters to air freight to daughter # 1 in Calgary I was deposited at the terminal and linked up with coworkers for our trip to Montreal. We had a busy five days of conference, shopping and eating. But no matter how wonderful the schedule it's still a business trip which means traveling with folks you don't choose yourself. The Hyatt was overpriced and without a restaurant and the pool was closed for repairs. Enough said.

I was glad to be home when Thursday evening came and even more pleased to have Friday to catch up - gotta love those three day weekends. And I sure needed the time to sort mail, messages and catch up around the house. Saturday was the local town wide yard sale and I scored big - two large almost new suitcases for $5 total, a folding lounge chair for $7, telescope for $5, plants, antiques, dishes, books within two hours. The place was hopping and I could've kept going but had reached my $35 limit so gave up on the waterfront and auction and...picked up groceries then headed home.

Today has been a glorious day, so the plants got planted, the crushed stone got levelled, the mosquito magnet got started, the venmar was cleaned, the outboard got fiberglased and the laundry dried beautifully. Summer has arrived as the old guy and I were able to eat our supper on the deck until the blackflies appeared so dessert was inside. The cats have been June bug hunting - ugh. Doesn't get much better than that here.

I leave you with a smile sent by my birthday twin and it is especially amusing as apparently the only son was telling me that his Dad was "living like a bachelor" while I away which is interpreted as picking up a pizza and beer when he went to the post office to get his parcel from Cabela's (sporting goods company with bow hunting equipment) and a trip to the local drive in:


Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks. Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes. There is no fast food. Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money. In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week. Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time--no emailing.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care. He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function. Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times. The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done. The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed. During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting. They will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight,shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name. Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance. The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice. If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years eventually earning the right To be called Mother! After you get done laughing,send this to as many females as you think will get a kick out of it and as many men as you think can handle it. Just don't send it back to me.... I'm going to bed