Monday, October 27, 2008

Back in body

Just getting back into the blogging update as I’ve finally got the suitcases emptied, laundry done and newspapers read over the weekend. We arrived home about 8:30 p.m. on Friday in a satisfied but exhausted state.

Needless to say we had a wonderful time on the cruise – did you expect otherwise? The Sea Princess is a smaller ship than the Grand Princess although it still carries almost 2000 passengers and was sailing full. The service was very personal and friendly; the food was even better than the Grand (hard to believe that’s possible) and the entertainment management were wonderful, very laid back and accommodating. I agreed to do three presentations so had to do two the only sea day and one on the morning before a port call. Pretty good deal for the cruise for the two of us. The talks went very well and were excellent for my ego J well attended and no technical glitches. Managed to lose my glasses though as they fell under the footlights stage left when the tech packed up my laptop, notes and glasses and they went skittering away when I picked up the computer to put it in the bag. Thankfully daughter # 2 supplied the extra pair I’d left in the car when we got to Halifax so at least I could see the sights.

When I get the camera program figured out I promise to post some photos here. Suffice to say we had a great time with my travel mate reading all of 12 or 13 pages in her novel (she is an avid reader) and me gaining 4 lbs. Now this is considering that we just about walked our legs off on some days – good thing I guess or I’d have to add a zero to the right of that 4. We had a great visit in Sydney with a friend, entertained the kids in Halifax and had lunch with my cousin in Boston as well as just generally being tourists in all the other ports. We enjoyed afternoon tea with white gloved waiters, silver tea service, warm scones with jam and cream and little cakes – oh I’m making myself hungry – sat in the hot tub during sail away, checked out all the places to eat / drink on the ship, laughed till we lost our breath, took many photos and met lots of great people. Surprising about 2/3 of the passengers were from the UK, only 190 Canadians and the remainder Americans.

We had a wonderful ‘extra’ day in New York City with beautiful weather and walked down Broadway to Times Square, got discount tickets to The Phantom of the Opera (amazing is the only way to describe it – no wonder it’s been running for 18 yrs) Enjoyed a NY bagel with cream cheese and steamed almond milk (heavenly) Had a bicycle cart tour of Central Park so saw where Tom Cruise and Robert DeNiro live while we munched on a warm pretzel. Yum. We had a pre-theatre supper at The Russian Tea Room and I really will have to try to post a photo of that as there’s no way to describe it. The meal was amazing as well. By the time we flagged a cab down after the theatre (taking our lives in our hands) and got settled it was midnight and we were up early to catch our flight. Had an uneventful trip home, which was good as we were out of steam by then.

I took the liberty of heading out for a scrapbooking day on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed the Croptoberfest. Since I left in such a tailspin forgetting the project I was planning to take (Norway cruise album) on the counter I did make a good recovery and accomplish something – a nice 2009/2010-desk calendar so am quite proud of myself after all. And I’m happy to announce that I won the door prize which was a nice Creative Memories album cover – much nicer than I’d buy for myself – so a good day all around.

Today I had to head back to work at the district facility so that was not much fun but what can you do? Tomorrow will likely be less fun as I’ll be attempting to catch up a bit and start the flu shots. Off to the district facility on Wednesday again so this week is already a write off it seems. This is the way it is when you’re not retired like all those cruise passengers?

The shore captain is planning to head to the woods on Thursday so I’ll be on my own schedule for a couple of days (hopefully) and am planning lunch with a friend on Saturday among other pleasures. Sad to be looking forward to the weekend on a Monday eh? Since today is the only son’s 21st birthday I’m reminded of how frantic my life was a couple of decades ago so it’s all relative. However when the life partner balked at putting the dog out for the night saying to her “we had better rules than this didn’t we?” I asked for clarification and was told that he ‘put her out when he felt like it’ so I told him if I only did things around the house when I felt like it he’d be a lot smaller than he is – there was no reply.

Friday, October 17, 2008

An enroute post

Well hello from the Sea Princess - well sort of as we're on land in Cape Breton briefly visiting a Cape Breton friend and listening to a Celtic Colors presentation at the library and enjoying the internet services. We are hearing a Cuban band playing Galician bagpipes if you can believe it and they are great! Off to do more tourist things, just wanted you all to know we're having a fantastic time on the ship, the talks are going really well and a good time is had by all!! A post later if we can or if not an update after return home

Friday, October 10, 2008

Three more sleeps until we leave

Hard to believe that we're into the countdown of three more sleeps until we leave. Since tomorrow is Saturday I really must get my act together and pack at some point. My previous female cruise partner was becoming alarmed when I hadn't packed in 2006 so I don't want to scare this one - the man of course thought we were packing early at 48 hr. before departure. Tomorrow I have some baking to do, advance poll, and we're having our summer neighbours over for a pizza tomorrow evening as it's the last chance we'll have to get together until next summer.

Today I managed to get the notes printed for my PowerPoints but because of all the interruptions I had to print the notes with the slides meaning they are quite a hefty, heavy stack of paper to drag with me but what can you do? It's good to say that I'm just finished tweaking and the notes are printed. I have the presentations on the laptop and have saved them to the flashstick, and will burn a CD as well (yes I admit to being paranoid but being prepared means that hopefully I won't have to use the backup plan) At least they're all done for another run.

Tonight I decided against walking down the road as the neighbour was on the (our former) front doorstep with her black lab which is bigger than her and I wasn't up for a dogfight. Well.....we ambled down over the cobble beach and when we got in front of the other neighbours didn't the yappy black dog (smaller than our cat Gary) spy us and come tearing down the path to the beach. The next thing I knew it was attached to Keely who was biting it and throwing it in the air, the noise was incredible and I was lying on the ground stuck between two rocks. I managed to retrieve my footwear and crawl up the beach to grab the leash as Keely had the attacker (who was reconsidering) pinned to a tree. As I grabbed the leash the nasty thing left for his house and I stopped to let Keely have a swim (saltwater is good for any possible wounds) while I collected myself. I have a swollen and bruised left index finger, swollen right ankle, scratched left leg, four stubbed toes and a sore left shoulder. But I'll make it. As the shore captain said "I thought you were walking on the beach to avoid a dog fight" My nerves.

I have spent at least 30 minutes teaching the life partner how to do online banking, send a birthday wish to his aunt and chat with daughter # 3 on Facebook. His complaint is that it's not highspeed (how quickly we forget) like at the plant but as he types with two fingers and can't spell I'm not sure why he needs highspeed anyway. If a politician promised me highspeed internet connection and we representing the Rhino party this time around I'd vote for them!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Asia exotic enough for ya?

The emails this time of year for leaving soon cruise presenting just keep getting better and better making me resolve to hold out for the last minute ones next time around. Checking messages this evening there was an offer for a ½ price ($32.50 per day for two of you) cruise with everything but airfare, China visa and tips. Here’s the itinerary:

Day 1
Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand
5:00 PM

At Sea

9:00 AM
6:00 PM

At Sea

Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam
7:00 AM
5:30 PM

Nha Trang, Vietnam
9:00 AM
6:00 PM

At Sea

Hong Kong, China
8:00 AM

Hong Kong, China

6:00 PM
At Sea

Taipei (Keelung), China
7:00 AM
5:00 PM

Okinawa, Japan
12:00 PM
7:00 PM

At Sea

Shanghai, China
7:00 AM
6:00 PM

At Sea

At Sea

Beijing (Xingang), China
7:30 AM

Only stipulation was that you couldn't cancel a cruise you were previously booked for - that would be the case for me - again I refer to the holding out plan.

My travel partner was the smart one to have purchased her US dollars last week, as they are getting more expensive by the minute with the economic crisis. I managed to scrape together $25 in American funds for a start but will likely bite the bullet at the money exchange at the airport on Monday.

The arrangements for visits in various ports are coming together – I feel like a sailor with someone waiting for me in each port of call – so far we have Charlottetown (2 offers) Sydney (family + friend) Halifax (kids) and Boston (cousin) So in Quebec City, Saint John, Portland and Newport we’ll have to play real tourists and the remainder we’ll be visitors.

I have pulled the presentations together so I can print the notes tomorrow. I spent the evening messing with the monitor the IT folks gave me from work (old ones aren’t worth anything with the new flat screen ones out) but can’t get it to work with my antique computer system so will have to try to unload some drivers for it. Sigh.

The messages are being exchanged about menus for the Thanksgiving holiday feast as the Australian houseguest hasn't eaten roast turkey or pumpkin pie as well as the food to be created to send back to university so my Saturday is planned for me now. Will be a short visit with that student nurse due to our travel schedules. Apparently her news of the day was an excellent mid-clinical review “going to be an excellent nurse” so that kind of feedback sets up the long weekend just fine. She is unable to transfer overseas credits to her nursing program so will only be eligible to do a clinical in Sweden – this in itself is not unexciting – details later.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Waste of time?

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. - Auguste Rodin

Now how that quote could be related to my day remains to be seen as work was very unfun. However, the IT manager was down and when I whined about a computer monitor as mine had died, offered to give me one (they're not worth anything he said) for my old computer. So I guess that's a wise experience.

We did have a nice visit with our friends from the city, fed them supper and they headed back late. We must be getting old when we comment that their granddaughter looks just like their daughter did at that age when we used to go camping together in Labrador.

Now for those of you who have been left hanging with the suspense of - what happened to the racoon I am providing the following update as forwarded by the Racoon First Responder:

The raccoon spent the afternoon wheezing & whining in the sun, flies gathering around despite the fact that I had shampooed him to get rid of the coffee grounds & eggshells. I told him firmly that he best get moving. Guess he heeded my warning, because when I went to check before scrapbooking, he was gone. Now to find something really heavy to put on the cone top - something heavy enough to break a toe if I drop it. I'm too old for that kind of excitement & I know the neighbour won't help me again

After the shore captain retired I've taken advantage of the quiet to tweak the presentations as I've got to get the speaking notes printed off within the next two days. Think I will have to treat it like a term paper in a distance ed course and just finally say 'done' and put it away. What I should be doing is...packing - or rather unpacking and repacking. The mantra is - only so many hours in the day.


Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

To really make scrambled eggs or omelettes rich add a couple ofSpoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt chocolate mint patties In double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light tasteOf garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples.. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!! Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!

Heat up leftover pizza in a non stick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.

Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.

Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can't see easily

Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper.The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.

To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and... At DA!... Static is gone.

Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the window s fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair.

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants.. They eat it, take it 'home,' can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

There, that's enough of that Martha Stewart stuff for one day. If you're in need of a smile (as I most certainly am today) I offer this forwarded by a friend:

Housework was a woman's job, but one evening, Jenny arrived home from work to find the children bathed, one load of laundry in the washer and another in the dryer. Dinner was on the stove, and the table set. She was astonished!It turns out that Ralph had read an article that said, 'Wives who work full-time and had to do their own housework were too tired to have sex'. The night went very well. The next day, she told her office friends all about it. 'We had a great dinner. Ralph even cleaned up the kitchen. He helped the kids do their homework, folded all the laundry and put it away. I really enjoyed the evening.''But what about afterward?' asked her friends.'Oh, that ...., Ralph was too tired..'

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Home again - temporarily

Well we made it safely home on Sunday, arriving by 11 p.m. and of course back to work after not being able to sleep so still on Calgary time Monday morning. We had to break down and turn the heat on today so have finally admitted that the cold weather is coming and summer is over. Sigh. The air is burping its way through the pipes and the bathroom tiles are warm to the tootsies now though. The hibiscus was severely frost nipped as I left it in the veranda room while away so it is a sad reminder of the nighttime temperatures.

Last night I was checking up by phone on the neighbour who managed to end her summer by experiencing the Canadian healthcare system as she fractured her leg. She was managing with crutches and scooting around in an office chair. Pretty lucky that she has family to check on her as I’ve abandoned her with my traveling and catch up workweek in between.

Today was another day of pure insanity at the salt mines. I’m still not caught up from last week, the tech came to do fit testing late in the day (and this guy makes people with ADD look like they’re sedated) and everyone needed a piece of me – not that there isn’t lots to go around but…….people please, get a grip! Only three more days though until a two week respite from it. As my sister said when I called her tonight “well, lately you’re not hardly working at all” That may be, but it sure feels like it!

I stopped for groceries after work and have been baking as we have friends from the city coming for supper tomorrow evening after they’ve been at Whitepoint Lodge for a few days. Made a cranberry pudding, brown bread and cheese loaf and partially cooked the roast, as they’ll be home before I am in the afternoon. So I have been a busy girl.

I really should have been putting the final touches on the presentations as I need to print the speaking notes but there are only so many hours in the day. I showed the PowerPoint today to a co-worker who does historical reenactments and he advised me for accuracy of my titles / notes (just in case I get some reenacter expert in the audience) and he was impressed so that sounds good. I sent off some last minute emails to a former co-worker in PEI so we can visit in the Charlottetown p.m. and for clarifications of my CB buddy and francais daughter. Only six more sleeps now until departure.

As if I don’t have enough exciting things to write about, my travel partner of next week who lives up the road about 3 km, coincidentally enough across from my cleaning lady who is the neighbour being referred to – sent me this email today which was the only thing which caused me to smile all day:

The neighbour & I had an adventure of the country variety this am... I went to put compost in the cone, the lid was up & of course it was wet in there due to the rain.... guess what's coming next? There was a mewing sound issuing forth....a cat was standing, almost drowned, incoffee grounds & water... I called the neighbour to come see if it was hers. Armed with gloves, I tried to reach it, but arms too short, so she put on the gloves, as the poor critter mewed feebly, she reached in & hauled out - A RACCOON!! We shrieked & ran, like any girls would,what a riot! She, of course, accused me of knowing it wasn't a cat & letting her pull it up, but I really couldn't reach. The husband even came out to see. I lugged many buckets of warm water to sluice it off, it really is a little raccoon, & it is laying there in the sun now, still mewing & wheezing & half drowned. Don't know if it will make it, it seems quite weak, but at least it didn't drown in the compost. That's all the excitement I can stand today.

Since I didn’t hear anything since I’m not sure of the status of the critter but the shore captain thought it ‘likely won’t make it’ and he would know all about raccoons, as I’ll explain in a minute. It reminded me of the stories which were told after supper last week in Red Deer when we were entertaining the new man in daughter #1s life (well actually not so new as he’s a former schoolmate of hers from here working in the west to pay off his student loans while he studies at UNB with our youngest daughter but I digress) The shore captain was telling him about he and his brother taking baby raccoons to bed with them when they were small, among many other sorts of tales if you can believe it! The poor boy is still interested in the first born after seeing her parents. I spoke to the daughter in question this evening, as she was getting ready to go out for supper with him and his ‘push’ and girlfriend. As she said, “whatever a push is, I guess I’ll find out”. So no problema.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Farm Market and more

We have had an exciting last day in Red Deer as we started out with a trip to the farm market. The largest farm market in Alberta, this is the real thing with lots of produce from the local Hutterite Colonies. Just look at the size of those cabbages - what would you use that much cabbage for? The women were all dressed as well in their aprons, headscarves and woolen socks and the sign near their booth read brossil sprouts $2.50 so I guess that's phonetic Hutterite spelling. There were lots of crafts, great ethnic foods, music, furniture and clothes. You name it, it was there. A warm sunny morning as well so it was all good.

The afternoon consisted of a futile attempt for daughter # 1 to try to vote - why would the government make it so difficult to exercise your civic right? She has to prove that she's lived in NS so can't change her drivers license until she votes and has to have her room mate write a letter saying she actually lives in Alberta now. So this will require another trip to the elections office. With the low voter turnout you would assume that every effort be made to enable people to vote. The one positive in all this is that we found a great hunting supply store along the way with items for sale such as t-shirts which read "A woman's place is in the woods" and "This babe shoots bucks" Doesn't get any better than that.

A trip to the All-You-Can-Eat Sushi bar followed and we ate to show a profit. Who would think that Red Deer would have the best sushi you've ever tasted? We're still so stuffed we can hardly move. And that's after a trip to the tea store for some specialty teas and souvenirs as well.

This evening I made a cranberry pudding and we took it over to neighbours from home who are living here in Red Deer and had a little visit. They're planning a NS wedding next summer so we'll be seeing them then. So, now we're all packed, checked in and ready to go for the morning. Back to the land of work for at least another five days.

Official photographer of us having fun

Well yesterday's trip to Sylvan Lake turned into a short trip to the lake and a longer trip to WalMart for some shopping for our Cuban friends as daughter # 1 is going to be the courier in January when she heads down for a visit.

Last evening we headed out to Lacombe for supper at a restaurant which offers Greek food and was highly recommended by the daughter's co-worker (a former chef) who said it was the best calamari he'd ever eaten. However the calamari experts in our party claimed it was "not bad" and a 7 out of 10 when polled. So it was okay, but a bit overrated when we critiqued it amongst ourselves afterwards.

Have been getting alarming updates from home that one of our summer neighbours has fallen and # her leg so we have been thinking about them for the past few days. It sounds like it's been quite an expedition with a trip to the city to have the leg repaired etc. and not sure when she'll get back and then back to the US. Oh my.

Today we did a few errands and found our way to the bird sanctuary which is located in the middle of the city. There is a nature center explaining the geology and history of Red Deer - it was always a central place for native hunters and then a crossroads of settlers making their way between the north and south of Alberta. There is a 4 km trail around a lake, through woods and boardwalk over marshy fields which was a beautiful place to try out the new camera. Discovered that geese are easier to catch swimming than flying and that there are many more features than I know what to do with on my new toy. Photographic evidence here on the left that I can at least put it in auto (idiot proof) mode and shoot scenery pics. Got some nice photos of geese and beaver lodge as you see as well as muskrats, ducks, and a magpie as well as some pretty fall scenery. So there is hope I'll improve. Went to a local diner for lunch and had perogies instead of fries with our sandwiches - only in western Canada you say eh?

We picked up daughter # 1 from work and dropped a customer who needed a ride off at his house while he was telling us his work history. Apparently he responded to our down east hospitality as he'd been having a kind of rotten day so glad we were able to provide him with our service.

We headed out to Tony Romas for supper with our daughter and her friend and had many ribs and many laughs as the shore captain was encouraged to tell his stories of his myriad adventures so a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow the plan is to hit the farm market in the morning, sushi for lunch, visit the tea shop and then meet our neighbour from home who lives here in Red Deer for supper. So a full last day as we have to head out in the a.m. for the airport. Hard to believe that it will have been 10 days here - vacation always goes too quickly. And vacation it has to be as with houses which would not be equivalent to ours at home going here for over a million dollars. Imagine.

I managed to look back and find the horoscope for my birthday and it sounds like I'll have a good year coming up if I choose to believe this:

IF SEPTEMBER 28 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: "Make hay while the sun shines" should be your motto for the year ahead. You have your finger on the pulse of business necessities and enough street smarts to earn career kudos in November. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a beneficial change or to improve your circumstances may appear in January. Be sure to take advantage of any opportunities to improve your circumstances and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. You can ask for the raise you surely deserve, apply for the job of your dreams or go for the gold by entering into a romantic commitment.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Banff and more

Yesterday was a great day and certainly a good way for daughter # 1 to spend her 24th birthday. We headed out in the a.m. past Rocky Mountain House and then on to Banff National Park. As evidenced by one of many amazing photos which we managed to capture. It was warm, sunny and clear with the colors on the trees changing so a great time to be in Alberta. The only wildlife we saw all day (if you can believe it) was a coyote hunting in one of the grassy fields near the highway, not one elk, deer, bighorn sheep or anything. And we were ready with the cameras too. We stopped in Banff and took the gondola up the mountain for some spectacular views and photo ops before heading into Calgary. Even rush hour wasn't too much for the shore captain with his trusty navigator aka Enterprise Management Trainee riding shotgun.

We stopped for supper at a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant which had satisified the non-spicy tastes (me) and hotter cuisine (other two) with huge servings. Best of all it was located next to the C-Train station so we parked and rode to the Saddledome from there. This was a good option which many others were exercising. We settled into our very good seats and were tickled to find that Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo) was opening so that was a great start. Sheryl Crow was fantastic, sang a lot of her old stuff as well as some of her newer material and even did a three song encore. On the return trip of C-Train, retrieval of car and trip back to Red Deer everything went along smoothly and we were home and snuggled into bed just after midnight.

A slow start to the day which suited us well and a good thing daughter # 1 had taken today off as well. While we were puttering the shore captain disappeared and we were concerned that he was lost but.....he arrived back with a wonderful (belated) birthday gift - for me - of a Fuji digital camera. Daughter # 1 is envious as it is the newer (much improved) version of the one she has. This one sports 12 times optical zoom and 10 megapixels of space. It has many features that hers doesn't have but she was able to help me set it up at least. Now I am going to have to learn how to use my new toy before the next weekend. We're off to Sylvan Lake to check things out so many photo ops I'm guessing. Yeehaw!