Sunday, November 30, 2008

What I don't know about...

A very busy and productive weekend - just think what I could do with some serious stay at home time eh? But unfortunately it's back to work in the a.m.

I started out with a massage, then after supper a glass of praline liquer and getting into the library book, The Flying Troutmans on Friday night - have to ease into the weekend you know. Had a message that there was a spot for myself and a friend at the camera course on Saturday so a quick call and we were both getting ready to go in the a.m.

Decided to head up early on Saturday morning so we could hit the loss leader sales at Canadian Tire - scored two boxes (8 place settings) of Christmas dishes for under $10 each. I have always wanted Christmas dishes for the past 30+ years but haven't been able to bring myself to the over $100 price tag. These are a great - holly pattern with large and small plates, bowl and mugs which are dishwasher and microwave safe - what more could you want? Also two wind up flashlights for $6 for both so these are his and hers vehicle flashlights now. As well, I found a Christmas wreath for $9 for the front door. I usually buy a natural one but you know, this one looks great and will be around for a while. Then we headed over to Zellers, to again hit the sales early and I picked up a set of four crystal champagne flutes for $14 as well. So a very productive half hour.

The camera course was wonderful and held in a great venue The MacKinnon Cann Inn, here's the website to check it out:
The day went so fast, it was 4 pm. before we knew it. I think I'll need to take the course at least three or four times to grasp the concepts. It sure made me realize what I don't know about photography, my camera, and technology in general. Thankfully there was somone with a camera similar to mine who sat next to me and helped me. I eventually did get enough of the material to tell her that she didn't have to come home with me after all. We headed out on assignment at lunch and my friend and I followed a scruffy grey tom cat into his yard much to his chagrin and his owners amazement as we attempted to photograph him on macro. There is so much to remember that my brain hurt by the time we left. After I dropped my friend off I finished running my errands - an $80 blue Paderno kettle on sale for $30 and I earned Aeroplan points. Picked up a few groceries and headed home. A good day.

This morning I was up early thanks to someone looking for fish at ten to eight on a Sunday morning! Obviously it wasn't me they wanted but still felt the need to carry on a lengthy conversation on lobstering. As I mentioned to the Captain when he came home at suppertime - this was the first time in six days and it will be five more before I can sleep in again - so thanks a bunch. Since I was up so early I got started on my to - do list and have accomplished quite a bit, although it doesn't make me want to head back to work tomorrow.

Three loads of laundry, two loads of the dishwasher and putting my dishes and glasses in the china cabinet, making a Christmas photo decoration, hanging the wreath on the front door, bagging the refundables, emptying the garbage, cleaning out the hall closet then moving daughter # 1s boxes from the barn and vacuuming plus baking banana streusal muffins, cherry kuchen, supper as well as walking the dog. Now I'm all broke up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A little more good news

Well another day and another good news announcement. Things are just on a roll lately. Today’s phone call from daughter # 2 brought the news that her main man had landed the job he was looking for at HRM as a planning technician. Our future son-in-law gets to use the degree he completed in April and earn a great salary at the same time. This is more significant as he’s a very socially shy guy and has had to work on his interview skills to accomplish this. He’s pretty used to us now after six years but I well remember how originally when he started coming to our place, he was terrified to be spoken to in case he had to answer someone. And of course they’ll be lucky to have him as he’s a smart boy, good worker and very loyal. The tickled pink couple were heading out for supper when I called to congratulate.

A further message from baby daughter elaborated that the nursing clinical “is this summer who-hoo” but no more details than that. So when, for how long, who else is going with her to Sweden etc. remains a mystery.

The weather is settling a bit this evening and lobstering and fishing are in the plans for the a.m. with the Captain moaning that it is still rough and he will have to “chase pots for miles tomorrow” and the prodigal son delighted to be heading out fishing as he has eye on a new truck. Of course the auto sales outlet is so desperate to move a vehicle that they actually allowed him to drive around in the half ton on Monday for the afternoon. That is clearly desperation personified.

Today’s noon hour email advised me of my new travel points balance which got me dreaming, then I found a message of a two day seat sale to Buenos Aires for only $255 each way with travel from now to April. The kicker was that add on costs were more than the base costs of the tickets bringing the total to $930. This however, is still an awesome price, for someone with free money that is.

Speaking of travel, the travel agent we use has a new website so I’ll post the url here for you to check out:
Jennifer is very good about matching others prices and searching for the lowest fares. Over the years she’s gotten us some good deals. And there are good links for travel advisories etc. if you poke around.

In case you are only pretending to travel to a warmer place I’m including a recipe for salsa dip, which I modified a bit from the Kraft posting – it’s yummy:

Salsa Creamy Dip
½ cup miracle whip
1 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
½ cup grated parmesan
Mix together, chill and serve with tostitos

The workday otherwise was rather dreary as I was covering for two other team members, the place was full to the seams and just hopping. I didn’t blame who ever it was that had been job searching when the career postings for another health authority popped up on the monitor screen. The Director of Care at the attached nursing home told me that recruiters have advised her it’s unusual to have a potential employee agree to a two year sign on bonus contract, now they’re signing for one year and often for as high as $10,000. That is very close to what an RN earned annually in NS the year I graduated. Back in the day…I thought I was filthy rich to earn $14,000 per year by going north.

I consoled myself after work by stopping at Frenchy’s on the way home where I picked up a lovely pair of (previously) very expensive dress slacks, which alone would’ve made the trip worthwhile. I dropped off the article one of my summer neighbours had sent quite a while ago about Frenchy’s and I’ve been meaning to take it in, the ladies were really interested and took it out back for them to read. As well I found a sweatshirt, great Santa hat, which the Captain is planning to wear lobstering tomorrow (got to have your small pleasures) to show his buddies, three new zippers for now that I’ve remembered how to sew, and a great Boston Red Sox t-shirt for the man that was a complete hit. He had even made supper by the time I got home – the secret apparently is to wait long enough it seems.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More congratulations

Well, another week and another daughter to congratulate. Today's phone call from the baby daughter brought the news that she'd been advised she was a successful candidate to do her nursing clinical experience in......Umea, Sweden. Now the details will follow as there was no clarity as to whether it was six or eight weeks or even if was 2009 or 2010 when this would be happening, but according to the Wikipedia link below it looks like a nice little university city in northern Sweden:

This will be a good adventure for a nursing student planning to work abroad after graduation. And of course she is following in the footsteps of her older sisters who have traveled, studied and worked in locations as various as Cuba, Paris, Quebec, Alberta, and California just to begin with. So not unexpected in our global family.

Today was beyond frantic at work so when the gas attendant asked how my day was I replied "rotten" and he was momentarily taken aback as he admitted that was the first answer of that description today. I had been taken to task by so many people by 2 p.m. that I was almost expecting it when an employee told me "that's right try to look busy" as I was pondering my note while I wandered along with a long list of tasks I had written down rather than try to commit them to memory. Brazen pup.
I received some relief in the form of a prior colleague who dropped in for a brief visit on her way to a moonlighting shift at the nursing home next door. Her black furry jacket was covered in white flecks and I thought 'it looks too warm to be snowing outside' when she explained her tardiness was due to a bad experience with a cream puff. As she said "you know that split second when you're going to do something and you think...maybe this isn't a good idea...and then it's too late?" I assured I knew all too well what she was talking about. Well apparently she picked up a cream puff at the market and then decided there was too much filling so she would throw a piece of the cream on top out of the car window as she drove. Now picture, she is doing 100+km and the wind is blowing at least 80 km and when she releases the blows back over her hand, all up the sleeve of her warmup jacket (which she has had to jettison) and across her front. When I comment on the back of the winter jacket she says "oh no, that was in the back seat!" So can you only imagine what the interior of her car looks like? She has plans to sit on a garbage bag on the return trip home tonight she says. We were both hysterical as we munched on the nanaimo bars she had brought for our treat. She likely saved my (or someone else's) life this afternoon.

I had a tech email today which played right into my thinking of connectivity for traveling:

Is a Mini-Laptop Right For You?

Recently several companies have been coming out with a new breed of laptop, the mini-laptop. Weighing in usually at about 2 pounds and about the size of a trade paperback, the mini-laptop can be easier to carry around and can look pretty slick.

It seems to have started with the One Laptop Per Child project, where laptops were made smaller and cheaper, with a goal of selling for $100 per unit in third-world countries. Companies are now banking on the idea that they might be able to sell more if they strip down their laptops to the essentials, and offer these mini-laptops at lower prices. It does seem to be working. Some of Amazon's top selling laptops lately have been these mini-laptops. But are they worth the price, and can a mini replace your standard laptop?

Mini-Laptops: What Features Do They Have?

Most of the appeal in mini-laptops seems to come from the smaller footprint and the smaller price tag. Displays range in size from 7-10 inches, and typically include a built-in webcam. Generally, the minis weigh in at just 2-3 pounds, which is definitely lightweight. My Sony VAIO laptop weighs 11 pounds, for comparison. Most have wireless capability, a network jack and a couple USB ports, and an SD card reader for transferring photos.

Prices start at $299 for some of these bite size computers, but they're not going to do everything a standard laptop or desktop can do. So you can use them for basic tasks such as word processing and web browsing, but don't expect them to perform well as gaming machines or entertainment centers.

You should be aware that some of the low-end mini-laptops come with Linux instead of Windows XP. This does knock off about $100 from the price (Linux is a free operating system) but it rules out running any Windows-specific software on the machine. Of course Linux comes with a web browser, email program and word processing software, but there may be a bit of a learning curve since it's not what you're used to using.

Who Should Buy a Mini-Laptop?

Unfortunately, a mini probably won't replace your standard laptop or computer, unless your needs are very basic. Mini-laptops are really stripped down when it comes to hard drive space. Usually the amount of space is about 8 to 20 Gigabytes, but some have as little as 2GB. So you won't be able to store a lot of photos, videos, or emails.There usually isn't a CD or DVD Rom either, so you won't be able to use it to watch movies. In fact, you might not be able to use it for much else besides email, word processing and casual web browsing.

These little devices might be helpful, though, for the low-budget consumer who needs just the basics and wants a lower price. I can almost hear George Foreman saying "I'm NOT gonna pay a lot for this laptop!" A mini-laptop might also be a good idea for kids who don't actually need a full laptop.

One other group that might find the mini-laptop attractive is business travelers. I recently took my XO laptop on a trip and found that it was perfect for keeping up with my Gmail and visiting a few websites. For people who need high performance, through, you'll probably still need to stick with a standard laptop.

The Options: Mini-Laptop Mini-Reviews

So there are several versions of the mini-laptops currently available. The first is the Asus Eee PC 4G system. The price started at about $399 and it had 512MB of RAM. It's noted to be about the size of a paperback book and lightweight. It might be a little too small for most adults, the keyboard is really small. The company released another version of the Eee, that runs Windows XP and they made it slightly larger, and then the price went up a little too, to about $549. It is still on the small side though to keep it in the mini-laptop category.

Micro-Star International also came out with the MSI Wind, which packed on more CPU, 2GB of RAM and stretching the screen out a little, and then they gave it a mega 80GB hard drive. It is still supposed to sell for cheap at $399. Acer also has their own version with the Aspire One, still as powerful as the MSI Wind, though a little trimmer and looks good. It comes with Linux preinstalled and priced at about $400.

You'll also find the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC which is sleek looking, and is now boasting 120 GB of hard drive space and comes with Bluetooth capability. Dell also came into the mini-laptop market with the Inspiron Mini. The Inspiron also comes with Linux preinstalled, only 4 Gigabytes of hard drive space, but promises that you will get free online hard drive space from

There are plenty of options in the various types of mini-laptops. Are they worth the money? You do get what you pay for. The lower prices means you will sacrifice some functionality and you might be limited on storage and power. However, it seems to be working well when marketed for younger kids, or for those people who really don't need all the extra features that standard laptop computers have.
On the home front the catch was better than last year's first day for the boys lobstering even though the weather was wild and they're not getting out tomorrow at all due to the gales. The likely low price and uncertainty of even having a market plus having a barge which was being towed from Saint John capsize in the middle of the lobster fishing area off Yarmouth with 70,000 litres of diesel fuel on board is not a good start to the season. There was one boat which sank off Yarmouth before even getting out of the harbour but all made it safely into the liferaft and reports today of a hired man who was recovered after he fell overboard and hung onto the side of the boat. As the prodigal son said "Dad's trying to wear me out, I'm all broke up after today's racket and I'm only 21" So all hands have turned in by 8 p.m. as the wind rattles the windows and I wait for the brown bread to be done.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snow all weekend

Well I did not get to the digital camera workshop as the major snowstorm we had Friday night prevented travel (well actually I got stuck in the driveway first thing) and it has snowed off and on all weekend resulting in about 30 cm in our area. Walking the dog has meant snowsuit, lined boots, mittens and scarf and the dog has to chew the snow balls from between her webbed toes when we get home. The forecast is for milder temperatures with rain this week so the winter wonderland will likely be short lived. And I have my name on the waiting list to do the camera workshop next weekend. So I have restrained myself from searching last minute cruise speaker requests.

I managed to get some baking done (brown bread, peanut butter cookies, lemon pie, cherry kuchen most of which are now gone) due to my being grounded so that pleased the men going to set lobster traps in the a.m. The forecast according to the shore captain (soon to be wheelhouse captain) is "ok for tomorrow and fairly good early on Tuesday, snotty after that" I am resisting the temptation to translate that into knots of wind as it will do me no good to worry. The prodigal son who is going to assist with lobstering (as the weather forecast doesn't allow for a fishing trip) even went to bed at 8:30 p.m. so as to be rested up.

Due to mechanical problems, Saturday was spent installing two new batteries in the lobster boat - these require two men and a boy (literally) to lift them into the engine room - and resulted in the boy backing into a light bulb and singeing his hair, skinning most of his knuckles in the cramped quarters. After all this the decision was that the starter wasn't functioning. After convincing a diesel mechanic to make a wharf call and install a new one, things are just fine, except for the $1200 bill of course.

This weekend I managed to get a bit of sewing (almost forgot how) and scrapping done as well as reading some in Cruise Ship Confidential which is like the Nanny Diaries, Kitchen Confidential that sort of a read. What a hoot! Haven't caught up on correspondence, housework even though I had the best of intentions. And what do you know? It's time to go back to work in the morning so I guess it won't be happening this weekend either.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Congrats Miffy

I usually attempt to post to the blog at least once during the week – depending on the schedule and my stamina and tonight I’m determined to get a message up, as there is a good news announcement.

Daughter # 2 or our French daughter as I often refer to her has been awarded a major scholarship, which will fund her entire Bachelor of Education. There is a contract to be signed agreeing to work in the province for two years, not a problem and the added benefit of being guaranteed a job. Now that is exciting. Recognition from an outside agency for your offspring is always nice but money is even better, especially when it’s tuition times two for a couple of years. Makes the hard work of studying easier to take. Congrats Miffy.

Work lately has been absolutely hateful – and that’s the understatement – when the end of the day comes I feel like I’ve been released from the detention center and am trying to walk casually to the car rather than running yelling yippee, yeehaw I made it over the wall. I have to travel to the district facility tomorrow so even more painful. Sigh.

After supper I made three attempts to show the shore captain some photos as he’d expressed (some) interest in a slide show. After he took the third lengthy call which were all repeats of discussions of a) lobstering, markets, regulations, meetings, weather, and bait b) deer hunting, who’s gotten one, those spotted, days at camp c) fishing, crew, gear, quotas, meetings etc. and was talking on the cordless phone while I held out the cell phone - I called the show off due to lack of interest/participation on the part of the audience. As I told him – when he was in at camp the phone rang once for me in that whole five days. Bliss.

Well off to get settled as the brown bread is baked and so am I. Just a few diversions.
The first is a museum of velvet paintings, where I’m sure you can find one of Elvis:

This is a site called Leila’s Hair Museum, so you just know it’s going to be good:

And finally to really reward myself for making it through the week, I’ve signed up for a digital camera course for Saturday. Got to figure out that lovely birthday gift.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rainy weekend

It is a very windy, rainy Sunday morning but I am consoling myself with a cup of Lady Hannah tea and the fact that I can get online again. As I said to the Aliant tech (Lisa from Newfoundland) that I formed a close relationship with last night after over an hour on two calls with her to re-establish my dialup connection – it’s bad enough I only have dialup, now that isn’t even working! I had first accused the shore captain of laptop sabotage but it hadn’t even been out of the case in my absence. In fact he said “I thought you took it with you”. The final possible diagnosis (after resetting winsock and going to a C: prompt – haven’t seen one of those for a while) was some sort of malicious spyware, which rearranges files. I run an antiviral program and when I was online Tuesday p.m. there was an alert which popped up saying that Norton had intercepted a suspicious file. Apparently that must’ve been enough to corrupt some files and affect the dialup.

The man of the house called home to tell me that CBC radio had a piece broadcasting on antibiotic resistant organisms. After several calls back and forth where I finally decided I can’t get the signal for CBC Radio 2 on Sirius or the regular station here he instructs that “you can go out and listen to it in the car” Now as I plainly told him “I spend my entire work week dealing with this issue as people either ignore or attack me on the subject and you think I should sit in a rainstorm hearing it?” before I hung up. When he arrived home he had the gist of the story (except for the microbiological names) correct it seems and (after checking out the radio and deciding that I WAS right about the reception) he proceeded to enlighten me on the topic and was purely amazed at my knowledge of the subject. After 35 years in healthcare and hand washing, I might have learned a thing or two I guess.

Attended an infection control conference on Thursday and Friday and in response to the question “did you have a good time?” the only response is “consider the topic, now what do you think?” It was a good session, I won a door prize – a nice Christmas candle (LED so I can actually use it here with the cats); one of the sales reps took us out for supper at The Fireside and I had a nice visit with daughter # 2 so not a complete loss. But enough shop talk.

Yesterday a friend and I finally got together to have a great lunch at Charlotte Lane Café and as well it was the Annual Christmas Crawl in town so we made it a full afternoon and made the rounds. Found a few cute things – for me – including a Brie baker, I mean if you’re going to indulge yourself it may as well be in style, a nice pair of fleece mittens and a candleholder. As well, picked up a nice pewter kitty tag for Stanley’s collar (as he’s the least likely to lose it) and some cute holiday clothespins to hang Christmas cards on. We stuffed all the nibbles into ourselves (as we had appetizers, soup/salad, and desserts for lunch) and sampled all the punch, cider, and cranberry sparklers as we went along. So good to get caught up while enjoying ourselves.

Had a chat with daughter # 1 who was dealing with her boyfriend’s cold (no he wasn’t terminal just felt he was) which we decided is not a fun way to spend the weekend. The follow up call was that he had overmedicated himself with cold remedies – no - taking double amount does not make the cold go away in half the time. She wasn’t impressed with his theory and had invoked the ‘nurse mother call’ to settle the argument.

Well off this afternoon to see my sister’s new addition to her house, visit with my great niece who is staying for the weekend and pick up some groceries before heading to a community potluck supper, which has been scheduled before lobstering, as all mixed gender gatherings will be missing the male component after next Monday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Although today seems like a Sunday due to having the day off and the Remembrance Day service I attended it is still Tuesday. The service was lovely and the church so crowded that I sat in the balcony with the Scouts and Beavers. It reminded me of the days when our children attended in their various groups participating or even (gasp) back to when I attended as a Girl Guide in the 60s. Well I sure didn't need the glasses to see the action then though and the veterans were a lot younger and spryer. There's been a large resurgence of interest in Nov 11th, some of it due to the present conflict in Afghanistan.

I had the best of intentions to connect with the travel mate and sort out our photos together but....all the peace and quiet came to an end this afternoon and since it's almost 9 p.m. and I've just sat down, guess it's not going to happen today. First the prodigal son arrived from fishing with several armloads of filthy laundry, took a shower as he smelled worse than the clothes and headed off again after catching me up on the news. I had a elementary school neighbour selling candles and of course how could I refuse with four of our urchins having canvassed the neighbourhood mercilessly in years past? Then the shore captain arrived shedding mud and twigs, again bearing laundry and smelling worse while waiting for supper. So, a loaf of brown bread, large pot of chili and batch of biscuits later, here I am.

Good thing that I packed before the kerfuffle struck and so am ready to head out for a conference in the city. I will stop along the way to pick up the bike I'm buying from a colleague and then head into the city for daughter # 2s. We've planned pizza for supper so that will leave time to scrapbook some cards in the evening. I'll have Thursday morning to run some errands before the conference starts (working on my small pleasures found along the way theory) and am hoping for less congestion than on Saturday. I may get to poke around the scrapbooking or book stores, missed in my rural paradise.

It was as I thought, daughter # 1 says that she can't believe I didn't know about Craftsters and was sure she'd mentioned it to me. This is what happens when you get old and forget things.

To torture myself when I'm heading back to work I sometimes look on the bridge cam of the Sea or Grand Princess to see where they are and just to keep you up to date as armchair travelers the Sea Princess is enroute to Bonaire and the Grand Princess is underway to Piraeus, Greece. Oh to be retired and cruising in the Southern Caribbean or the Mediterreanean.

And now I leave you with a bit of funny but bad female humor that only women appreciate:

Jake was dying.
His wife sat at the bedside.
He looked up and said weakly:
'I have something I must confess.'
'There's no need to, 'his wife replied.
'No,' he insisted, 'I want to die in peace.
I slept with your sister, your best friend,
her best friend, and your mother!'
'I know,' she replied.
'Now just rest and let the poison work.'

Allow me my small pleasures as NO I haven't found a new cleaning lady yet and I'm trying not to think about it as the animal fur tumbleweeds roll across the floor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Consoling myself

Sigh, if only I had highspeed at home and didn't have to surf these on my work breaks. The first link is for craftster which I'm sure my crafty daughters will read and say "oh Mom, didn't you know about that site?" It's a great website:
And this is how they calculate who's online at any given time - Total Members: 157523 Currently Running With Scissors:795 Guests, 260 Users. Don't you just love the categories? At first glance - some folks have way too much time on their hands and I can't support cutting up books but other than that - lots of ideas. Finally wouldn't my Mom have loved this site - esp. the recycle, reuse section and the reconstructed (she always called them made over)garments! To those with wedding planning in their future there was a great post about temporary tatoos (a heart with bride and grooms name) handed out at the reception with water bottles and paper towels so guests could apply on the spot and document in the photobooth. Sort of biker nuptials if you ask me, not that they did.

Etsy is a companion site to Craftster:
This is for supplies or if you want to buy a handmade article. The Abraham Lincoln earrings in the Geekery section were....unique, but for instance you can still pick up ideas like this floppy disk notepad with 40 pages for $3.95 - mind you shipping is that much again - where did I put those floppy disks eh? This is what all you geeks are getting from me this Christmas. Oh wait, I don't know any geeks or I'd have a lot less technology troubles than I do.
But I digress because I have to explain that the cleaning lady left me a voice mail today saying she wasn't going to be able to continue to clean for me. And no before you get to thinking that I've worn her out, she's just overscheduled. I feel as if I've been abandoned and I will definitely be doing an executive search right promptly. A person could harm themselves doing housework. Why I managed 30 minutes worth tonight and it almost did me in.
I had to spend several hours crafting just to get my nerves settled down. I added some journaling to the family scrapbook about my two uncles who were killed in WWII. I searched the national website today and found some additional information which supplemented what Mom had always told us. I picked up four coasters to insert photos in today and fitted them with elementary school pics of the offspring - cute.
The final solution to pick my spirits up was to bake some brie with brown sugar, honey and chopped pecans on top which I ate with wedges of apple (in a nod to nutrition) Now I feel much better.
For those of you who didn't get a direct invitation to the vacation contest I'm pasting the link here as you really can't have too many chances to win a nice vacation can you?
Must get my carcass off to bed as I'm going to head out to the Remembrance Day service tomorrow a.m. I leave you with a funny which was apt as the great white hunter returns from the woods tomorrow as well and my peace and quiet will vanish being replaced by domestic chores like making meals not brie. Sigh.
Earl and Bubba are quietly sitting in a boat fishing, chewing plug and drinking beer,when suddenly Bubba says, 'I think I'm gonna divorce my wife. She ain't spoke to me in over 2 months.'
Earl spits, then sips his beer and says.... 'Better think it over - women like that are hard to find.'

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Craft planning

The week just gone by was one I could do without remembering but the one coming up already promises to be better as Remembrance Day on Tuesday will be a break and I have an infection control conference on Thursday and Friday in the city. Manageable.

I left work on Friday and made it to Halifax, despite a rotten drive with lots of rain, fog and traffic arriving in time to get ready and head over to Dartmouth for a wine and cheese / air quality education session - now there's a combination for you. Stayed over with daughter # 2 and the grankitty Hank was good company although he is not a big fan of the air mattress. I headed out in the morning to Cora's for breakfast with an OHN colleague. She treated as I was doing the Cruise Speaking 101 session for her. We had a great visit and I think she's seriously considering the gig - she'd do just fine. I headed over to a scrapbooking store which is going out of business so good deals on supplies I NEEDED and then off to Michaels to check out more crafting so have a few things picked up for Christmas. What a busy place the city was on Saturday. Guess folks were in the holiday shopping mode.

I had to head back by mid afternoon as it was my debut for working the local fire department bingo. Hadn't worked the canteen for about 10 years and had never worked the floor. At least it's smoke free now. I managed to be out $4.50 from selling the cards which set me off but my teacher reassured me that another neighbour was out $14 last week and was most upset. I had no clue (as I don't play) how to find out what numbers were marked, how to call the numbers back and settle the payments. And let me tell you, those bingo players are not a forgiving lot! A humbling experience for one who considers herself able to handle most situations. The good news is I only have to subject myself to this experience every seven weeks.

Had a nice chat with daughter # 1 last night and she says she's really enjoying her job at the bank - can't ask for anything more than that. Good to see all the off spring getting themselves sorted out and on their way.

Today I spent my solitude scrapbooking, walking the dog, eating what and when I wanted and generally puttering. Very fulfilling. I had plans to contact my cruise travel partner when I thought she'd be up from working last night but got caught up in a project so didn't follow through on the impulse. I discovered too late as I didn't check my email until 7 pm that there was a writing group meeting tonight which they had forgotten to notify us about. I was slightly peeved as it was only 1/2 hour away instead of over an hour as sometimes and there's nothing else on this weekend and I even have the place to myself. Oh well, I have saved on gas.

Speaking of writing, I've requested The Flying Troutmans from the library, which is Miriam Toews latest book. If you haven't read any of her work you really should as she's excellent. One of those make you laugh out loud types. I have just passed on The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch which again is a must read. It sounds morbid as he's giving his a Carnegie Mellon lecture and is terminal but it's an excellent read and only slightly sad in some places as it has a great message about living not dying. The list of 'must reads' is growing daily. To anyone who thinks they'd be bored being retired I'm mystified as to why.

And speaking of getting older....only Maxine can sum up the situation we're facing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mid week Motivation

Good Morning! Mid week motivation There are all kinds of jobs out there be thankful for the one you have!Say after me - I WILL NOT complain about my job,EVER AGAIN!!

I needed that pep talk as this week at work has been a REALLY bad one (and that’s considering they’re usually pretty unfun to begin with. Can’t imagine that other options would be that much worse. I saw an ad in the newspaper on the weekend looking for a healthcare educator in Yellowknife offering $42.07 per hr. plus $2500 annual allowance. They were only looking for two years experience and teaching of a few courses, I’m guessing if you came with some experience/education you could leverage a more generous offer. The Team Leader at work today asked if I was union “no” or management “no” and then said, “oh you don’t really have any authority at all do you?” I assured her that was entirely true and likely accounted for a good bit of the job angst I experience on a daily basis.

Had a nice scrapbooking evening last p.m. and got a bit accomplished but mostly got some inspiration for projects. I’m also looking forward to a trip to the city on Friday/Saturday where I’ll stay with daughter # 2, attend a get together for my professional association, and have breakfast with a colleague who’s thinking of the cruise ship presentation circuit. I have to work bingo at the local fire hall on Saturday night so can’t make it a two-day event. Haven’t done the bingo work thing for years, used to do it to get out of the house when the kids were small, then as they grew I sent them down for experience (slave labour they said) and now that they’re not available the Dept. has rattled my chain. At least it’s smoke free now.

I had an‘in-depth’ conversation with the shore captain this evening as he’s been getting a bit carried away with himself of late. I’m sure many can relate to the exchange below:
Me: what will we have for supper?
He: doesn’t matter
Me: oh, I know, I can make shrimp and pasta,I bought shrimp at Sobeys
He: (while picking up the bag) this is farmed shrimp from Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam, oh no this is so polluted it’s full of antibiotics
Me: the stuff has been frozen and will be cooked
He: that doesn’t cook the antibiotics
Me: I cannot believe I am having this discussion with a man who does NOT wear safety glasses while grinding metal or fiberglas and DOESN’T believe in washing his hands yet is concerned about shrimp?

There are courses, which would take a semester to complete on the psychology of risk taking, risk perception and just plain delusional thinking (did you know that plastic – as opposed to glass – cups taste funny? this man could be the case study. The fact that he ate two helpings of supper was just the last straw. Good thing he’s heading back to camp from Friday to Tuesday.

The media are reporting lots of celebrating from south of the border and I’m guessing at least one of our summer neighbours is pleased that Obama is their new president. He was the candidate promising to take a look at the blockade to Cuba which has been in place for decades so this may be good for those friends too.

And since a smile never hurts, I’ll leave you with one:

Celibacy can be a choice in life, or a condition imposed bycircumstances.
While attending a Marriage Encounter Weekend, Walter and his wife Ann listened to the instructor declare, It is essential that husbands andwives know the things that are important to each other.
He addressed the men, Can you name and describe your wife's favoriteflower?
Walter leaned over, touched Ann's arm gently and whispered, Robin Hood All-Purpose, isn't it?
And thus began Walter's life of celibacy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trip details and more

Well, the weekend has finally arrived and with it a chance to catch my breath. This of course means that I haven’t accomplished much of note but I’ve had a great time (not) doing it.

Friday (Halloween) evening we had about 10 or 12 trick or treaters, which has become our usual number. There were double that when our kids were small. The routine in those days meant the shore captain would ‘come out of the woods’ if he was in at camp and take the kids on their rounds while I stayed home to hand out treats. 9 or 10 p.m. usually brought them home totally exhausted, costumes in disarray, full of sugary treats and cranky. The man would have collected ‘his treats’ while chauffeuring and would have a collection of home made fudge, cookies and other goodies and have stopped for a coffee in one of the more closely populated areas for a visit while the urchins made their rounds there on foot. This year was so sedate that I managed to do some mending, finish up the titles on the desk calendar I made, read the paper and straighten up the house.

I read until 11 p.m. in bed – imagine with the light on and no complaints – as I worked my way through the novel I borrowed for the cruise (but as you know literary pursuits were secondary to others) called The Memory Keepers Daughter and it is a wonderful read. Highly recommended. One of those I’d finish in a few days usually here at home.

Saturday morning I slept in – yes!!! Almost felt like I was retired – that is one thing I plan to do when I’m not full time gainfully employed, keep to my natural biorhythms. I reached out and grabbed my book and continued on for a while until the cats really got insistent for kitty treats. I made a very modest attempt at housework – washed a quilt, as it was a gorgeous warm fall day to hang it out– and then the great white hunter was home saying he’d kept on going after hunting this a.m. as he had gear to work on. I did get some brown bread made today but spent the afternoon in the veranda room reading the newspaper while the bread machine did its work. The lunch plans were postponed for a couple of weekends as Charlotte Lane Café is closed until Tuesday while they’ve been attending a Slow Food Show in Italy this week.

I must get my act together and organize the cruise photos, yes yes I know I promised some for this blog but.... I have the last three vacations to scrap and mementos sitting in stacks. This is what happens when you take three vacations in four months. Have actually been looking at the time over the Christmas holidays and it looks like if I were to take five days vacation I’d have two weeks off. Now this all depends on others covering for me as well so this is a dream at present. Really someone back from a two week vacation should be a bit more self-disciplined wouldn’t you think?

At any rate the cruise was a great time and strongly recommended for anyone wanting to see the Northeastern US and Maritimes in a different way. When you come into cities from the cruise pier side you see a completely different side of the port. Although I’d traveled by land to Quebec City, Charlottetown, Sydney, etc. there was a different perspective on arriving by ship. So sit back in your armchair and we’ll travel the route:

Quebec City is of course very historic (romantic except we weren’t a couple) and expensive. Even a bottle of pop was almost double what it cost in Nova Scotia. For the most part the clerks and locals were friendly although I had an encounter with a very rude antique shopkeeper who actually left me speechless (as difficult as this is to believe) when I asked about a price of a medicine bottle in the window. I bought it in spite (and because I really wanted it) and we looked at everything in his shop just to make him nervous. The Entertainment Director said that six of the officers had spent $1000 for supper the night before departure. We got great photos, enjoyed a pleasant fall day and made like the tourists we were ending up with shin splints from all the hills.

The St. Lawrence River was picturesque but we had drizzly sea day, which was filled with my two presentations so not really memorable. We did manage to see a whale late in the afternoon as we met the Bay of St. Lawrence though. Very sheltered so no fear of a rough crossing.

Charlottetown is of course a nice little city. We spent an enjoyable day poking around. Found a great independent bookstore in the Confederation Mall and picked up a reference book on Sea Birds – always planning for that next cruise talk – as well as some t-shirts for the kids. Got some nice tourist photos being Anne with an E with the red braids and straw hat and enjoyed the free internet at the visitors center. Nice not to have a major travel agenda but just hang out.

Sydney was fun as we spent the day hanging out with a former colleague from my safety officer days who’d taken the day off to visit with us. She was at first (needlessly) concerned since there’d been a cruise ship in the day before that perhaps I’d mixed the days up – especially as I didn’t get my act together to call her or turn the cell on until 10 a.m. She was down shortly to pick us up and we headed off to see St. George’s church which was built for the military originally, then to a craft fair where I picked up a beautiful sweater for myself, a nice placemat for the kitty boys which is shaped like a fish and says ‘I love cats’ in the print, a carved stone which says HOPE (where I had a nice chat with the craftsman who is being recruited by the cruise companies to teach craft classes and sell his stained glass and etchings) and we bought some great homemade chocolate. The craftspeople in CB were some of the best on the entire cruise – no surprise to us but our fellow passengers were very impressed – and the prices were sure great. We made it to the library in time to take in the Cuban bagpipers which I mentioned in the interim posting – the Galician bagpipes were a big hit with the Celtic Colors audience and as a bonus we got internet access. My friend fed us (as if we were in need of sustenance – a good fast should’ve been in order) but who could refuse her CB hospitality in the form of homemade soup, tea biscuits and chocolate cake? The shore captain always says he’d be 300 lbs if she were feeding him as she’s such a good cook and you know occasionally he’s right – this is one of those times. We had a nice slide show of her sons wedding photos – beautiful bride and groom and very together mother of the groom was our assessment. This was a good preview for my travel partner who will be filling that role next September herself. All too soon it was time to head back to the ship for the sail away while we listened to the Sydney Mines Legion Band.

Halifax was pretty exciting as we got to visit with daughter # 2 and my travel partner’s son and his fiancée. I was also pumped to get my glasses, as since I hadn’t seen Newport or New York I sure wanted to be able to really see the sights. We took a spin down to historic properties just to say we were off the ship and my travel mate did her ‘buy the postcard, write an Uncle Traveling Max message, and mail it home’ for the scrapbook routine. We hustled on board and got into the hot tub to watch Halifax harbour disappearing while we sipped the drink of the day and reviewed the day with our fellow passengers. It was very odd to head down the coast and look out at midnight to see the Cape Sable lighthouse knowing that we’d just passed our home. Made it sort of like two cruises, the before and after SW Nova sections.

It was noon before we reached Saint John, NB so I did a talk in the morning but I sent my travel partner off to watch the culinary display and galley tour as I did that last time and it’s really fun. Although it was Sunday and quiet in Saint John we visited the market and shopped in the outlets which had opened for us. Nice photo ops in the old port city, which I hadn’t seen for a while and a late, sail away.

We spent a fun day in Portland although somehow in my hilarity I managed to lose a bag of my shopping which consisted of a t-shirt which said ‘Crustacean Nation’ for the prodigal son and a flying monkey which he could’ve entertained the cats with - it was a monkey with elastic loops on its paws and you flung it like a slingshot making it emit a high pitched eeeeyyyyyiiiiiii – a must have. Unfortunately we visited a joke shop where we laughed until we were weak and I must’ve set the bag down somewhere. I’m sorry I lost the bag but I have to say the endorphins released likely made up for it. I picked up a great night-light shaped like a whelk shell in the shade of my bathroom at a lovely home shop, which of course got smashed on the trip home and a top for my oil dispenser, which doesn’t fit. So Portland wasn’t a success for my shopping it seems. It is a very pretty old city, which I’ve visited a few times so it was a nice return trip.

Boston was a good day as we visited along the Freedom Trail seeing the Boston Common and various other sites. My travel mate got some holders for the US quarters she’s begun to collect, I got a good deal on some Mary Jane crocs for next season and we had fun shopping in the markets. We met my cousin for lunch at Durgin Park and the food is good and the waitresses are sassy (as their slogan reads) because I was told “more chew and less chat, that’s getting cold” by our server as I caught up with my cousin. I could just hear my favorite aunt telling someone that during the years she waitressed there. We caught the last shuttle back to the ship and shared the ride with Caribbean Princess passengers who told us there was no lecturer on their ship (which had been my second choice) Nice sail away through all the Boston Harbor islands.

We had a bit of rough weather in Newport, which was a shame as this was the new to us, port of call but we just modified our plans. Instead of a Cliff Walk we hopped on the city bus and for $1.75 we had a city tour of the Gilded Age Mansions. The tender ride in and out was a bit wild but nothing like fall lobstering and we were dressed for it. It was windy, cool and drizzly, reminding us of home. Glad for the afternoon tea following that. Not every day you get a man in white gloves serving your tea from a silver pot, lucky to have one with clean hands put the kettle on in this house. We spent the final ship night enjoying the champagne fountain and the company of some newfound British friends until 2 a.m. (which at 6 a.m. the next day felt like a mistake) as they were staying on for another nine days ending up in Barbados. Now THAT would’ve been nice too.

An early arrival in New York City with the Statue of Liberty all lit up as well as the skyline was quite a sight and apparently it is the city that never sleeps because at 6 am the traffic was very busy. We did an express walk off to get an early start and made like pack mules through the pier, customs and to a cab. Had a narrated tour from Brooklyn to Manhattan and got sorted out at the hotel by 9 a.m. The day in New York was glorious weather and we enjoyed all the carts and stalls as we walked from Broadway to Times Square – the books, clothes, bags, food for sale it was all fantastic. Afterwards we picked up our discount tickets to Phantom of the Opera and headed back for a bicycle cart tour of Central Park. It was amazingly clean, safe and beautiful, not at all what you imagine. We had a wonderful afternoon and were delivered to the door of the hotel to get ready for our night on the town. We hoofed it down to the Russian Tea Room where the doorman let us in and the fantasy began. Leather benches, lots of red and gold, and amazing food – what a place, we even got a tour of the upstairs with a crystal dancing bear filled with goldfish and a tree full of Faberge eggs. The bathroom taps were even gold! We made it to the Majestic Theatre just before show time and the venue itself was something else with lots of ornate décor. The play was beyond description – no surprise it’s run for 18 years – the sets, costumes, makeup, orchestra, singing and acting were unbelievable. Hailing a cab was a life threatening experience but we did manage to throw ourselves in the back of one and be deposited at the hotel door. When we caught our ride to JFK airport in the morning there wasn’t much energy left in reserve for those two traveling gals let me tell you.

Now the temptations keep rolling in as I’m going to paste the three emails I was sent this week from ‘my agent’ and they make you wonder how you could resist:

14 Night South America & Panama Canal
Radiance of the Seas November 9 - 23, 2008
Greetings from Sixth Star!
Sixth Star Entertainment and Marketing is looking for a Special Interest Lecturer in one of the following topics: Forensics, Pets, Maritime, Astronomy, Geneology, Celebrities, Caricaturist, Gardening, Hand Writing Analysis, Nature/wildlife, Science, Silhouette Artist to provide an "edu-taining" program onboard the Radiance of the Seas November 9 - 23, 2008. It is a South America & Panama Canal cruise that sails Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Valparaiso, Chile.

09-Nov Fort Lauderdale, Florida 5:00 PM
10-Nov Cruising
11-Nov Cruising
12-Nov Cartagena, Colombia 7:00 AM 8:00 PM Docked
13-Nov Cruising
14-Nov Panama Canal (Cruising Canal) 6:00 AM 6:00 PM Cruising
15-Nov Cruising
16-Nov Manta, Ecuador 7:00 AM 6:00 PM Docked
17-Nov Cruising
18-Nov Lima, (Callao) Peru 7:00 AM 6:00 PM Docked
19-Nov Cruising
20-Nov Arica, Chile 7:00 AM 7:00 PM Docked
21-Nov Cruising
22-Nov La Serena (Coquimbo), Chile 8:00 AM 4:00 PM Docked
23-Nov Valparaiso, Chile 4:00 AM

We are looking for a Special Interest Lecturer to sail on the Sea Princess through the Caribbean Novmeber 29 - December 13, 2008. Sailing roundtrip Barbados. Take a look at the exciting ports listed below.

St. Lucia
Antigua, Antigua
St. Kitts, St. Kitts
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Samana, Dominican Republic
At Sea
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Grand Cayman Islands
At Sea
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
Caracas (La Guaira), Venezuela

We are currently looking for a Lecturer to provide an "Edu-taining" lecture. To sail on the Emerald Princess through the Caribbean. The cruise dates and intineraries are listed below.

Ft. Lauderdale
Princess Cays, Bahamas
At Sea
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. Kitts, St. Kitts & Nevis
Antigua, Antingua and Barbuda
At Sea
At Sea
Ft. Lauderdale

Ft. Lauderdale
At Sea
At Sea
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles Grenada
St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands
At Sea
Princess Cays, Bahamas
Ft. Lauderdale

Today there was a birthday party for a former co-worker and the daughter-in-law arranged it with wine and all of us dressed in rhinestones, boas and sparkly stuff – sounds like fun alreadydoesn't it? At least four of us from work (still hanging in there) attended plus quite a few of the neighbours and other friends so it was a good time.

Back to the salt mines in the a.m. but at least the time change over the weekend is more in sync with my sleep cycles. Doesn't make me want to go to work but at least I won't mind the actual getting up as much.