Saturday, February 28, 2009

Recovering well

Well, we made a quick turnaround trip into the city to see how the Captain was recovering and were very pleased to find him complaining about the hospital food. A very good sign when you’re starting to think of that sort of stuff I told him. He’s pleased there’s a Tim Horton’s in the lobby and is planning on a breakfast sandwich in the a.m. He was a bit pale but was pretty much free of tubes and looking forward to getting on his feet. So it was a reassuring if flying visit.

We did manage to have supper at Mezzas (Lebanese food) with daughter # 2 and her main man and that was a nice change as upon reflection we hadn’t been out to eat since we were out west last fall visiting daughter # 1. Speaks to our schedules eh?

And speaking of daughter # 1 the other excitement in our family was that she called this week to say their bank branch had been robbed, in case her father the TV news addict saw it watching the Edmonton channel. Since she doesn’t work as a teller she wasn’t immediately aware of the lockdown even. They were having a counselor brought in and one of her co-workers mentioned she hoped he was hot. I told her that the counselor our EAP sends is a gray haired lady so good luck with that.

I spent the afternoon at an 80th birthday party for my mother-in-law’s husband and what a crowd! Got caught up on the local and family news. The shore captain and the captain wannabe are still trying to put the boat back together so they arrived for a few minutes in their smelly work clothes. I was tempted to pretend I didn’t know them but as I made my way over to them I heard the boy saying to his grandmother “nanny I know I’m overdressed for the occasion but I’m here” and his father saying, “what do you mean? I took my coveralls off” When I told them it was good of them to come anyway, the boy says “yeah, well the drill was charging we couldn’t do anything else for ½ hour anyway”

I managed to get my errands run after all the partying so we’re stocked up on groceries, as there is some really nasty weather heading this way for the next couple of days. Will be just the environment I need to concentrate on my research – or so I keep telling myself.

To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hump Day update

Well a few moments to update the situation as it’s already hump day and there have been things happening since I last posted on the weekend. Just had a phone conversation with the Captain who had his surgery this afternoon and was only out of the recovery room about ½ hour but still sounded more coherent than most that are fully conscious. Before he went to the OR he was up walking with assistance he said, so it appears the sacral vertebrae fracture must be stable. He was finding the days long he said so a tentative run to the city is in the works for Friday to check him out in person. He’s quite a poster boy for recovery from traumatic events, high pain threshold, and generally strong constitution goes.

Had an overnight guest in the form of a co-worker who came to do a workplace audit and enjoyed his company. The man of the house made seafood chowder for supper, commented that my biscuits “weren’t your best effort” although he grudgingly agreed with the guest that the apple pie was great and then stayed up to 9:30 p.m. as he was just showing off because I always say he’s in bed by 8:30 p.m. The animals were ecstatic as our houseguest is a critter person and so was checked out by the cats when he went to bed – mercifully Gary did not sit on his back as he sometimes abuses his owners thus. It was a great morning at work as I didn’t feel as if I were on my own facing the angst.

On the negative scorecard – the mailbox was yet again murdered by the plow operator – as the shore captain said “now he’s going out of his way to be a jerk!” and the prodigal son said “I know where he lives and I’m going to tell him the next time I see him that I’ll beat the crap out of his mailbox so he can see how it feels” as this is the third box in as many years and after all only three weeks since the most recent one was installed. But the end result is that we have not been getting mail delivered. Today was a balmy day where you could almost believe spring will come soon and the mail driver took pity on us and left our bills in a plastic Canada Post bag in the mailbox, which looks as if it has suffered a shark attack, as there’s a big bite out of the entire front. I would post a picture but I get so angry each time I see it that this is not possible.

On the positive balance - I always do the weekly tropical medicine case study from the course in Peru (which loyal blog readers will know I covet and WILL do some day) and managed to correctly diagnose typhoid. Not a lot of calls for that talent in rural Nova Scotia but you have to keep your skills sharp.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not David Adams Richards

Just an update after getting the latest info from the Captain’s wife this morning - he had been airlifted to Halifax yesterday and seemed somewhat more stable this morning as he had been moved from ICU to step down unit. I told her that he’d have to get some of those tubes out before the shore captain would be up for a visit being he’s not a big fan of hospitals, needles and the like. We both agreed that it was a good thing that her husband is a stubborn sort as he’s going to need every bit of determination he has in the next little while. Just wanted to reassure her that they should just concentrate on his recovery and not be concerned about anything else. His Dad who has been a resident for a couple of years on the Alzheimer’s unit of the nursing home where Mom lived, is not doing well apparently so that will be another bridge to cross shortly.

Apparently in the middle of all the other excitement it appears that the shore captain’s 16 yr old nephew fractured his leg playing hockey in the valley on Friday p.m. so will have to return to assess whether surgery is required.

Lest this post sound like a David Adams Richards novel in its darkness I shall move on.

Things have been a bit too frantic here to do my presentation research this weekend (or at least that’s my excuse of the day) but I must get my act together as it’s under a month before we head out. The original spot I’d been looking for was on Feb 20th, which turned out to be filled so we took March 20th as a disembarkation date and a good thing too as this Friday past was not a day I’d like to be leaving home. When discussing it with the travel partner he said “boy I’m sure going to be ready for a vacation when it comes now” and he even went as far as pulling his swim trunks out of the drawer. I’m not sure you understand that this is a major move for Mr. Last Minute Packer himself!

The boy brought the boat around to the wharf this morning without incident; the arrival did however initiate a steady stream of rubberneckers checking things out. There is a father and son team rigging new gear in the man cave as I post and apparently negotiations are underway for the boy captain to step up to the plate and take the boat at least temporarily. I’m not sure my nerves will stand such a development but as I assured a friend – if HE decides he wants to do it, the prodigal son can do anything, the problem is usually that he doesn’t tend to see relevance in the same things his parents do. So we shall see.

The student nurse is studying for midterms and continues to do well on her stats course - obviously those genes received from her father - as well as her health assessment course, I would like to think I've contributed somewhat to those brain cells. Had a chat this weekend with the student teacher who had enjoyed her practice week which included a ski trip to Martock and a conference day as well as the chance to learn from a good grade 4 teacher who gave her a fine evaluation. The business chick daughter was enjoying a day off in Calgary watching a lacrosse game and will still have tomorrow off due to her new schedule - that's the hardest part to take, that she has Mondays off!!!!

My friend picked up my library book for me – Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (of The Tipping Point and Blink fame) and it looks like a good read. I shall have to make more hours in the day I think, as yesterday’s paper is still looking at me. The storm predicted for tomorrow is forecast to be more rain than snow locally so I won’t have that excuse to absent myself from work – where do those weekends go?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

MED part deux

Well, since you’re waiting for the next installment of Deadliest Catch as daughter # 1 says “he’s as good as Captain Phil” and apparently any fan would understand what that means. Here’s the synopsis of today.

But first a photo taken by the shore captain today of the damage – you can see that there isn’t much left on the deck if you compare it to the previous photo - as even equipment which was welded or bolted down has been torn off completely. Probably good they didn’t have too much fish aboard as it had shifted completely from port to starboard in the event. Apparently it took four men to lift the life raft back in place this morning but just the boy captain to get it down yesterday afternoon during the emergency so that’s an example of what adrenalin will do for you eh? Here he is from a rear view checking things out today.

The man of the house was up most of the night as he got up from the couch at 1:30 a.m. and made his way to the government wharf where the coast guard vessel and the boat arrived by 2:30 a.m. Apparently the coast guard hadn’t been able to put anyone aboard the boat as it was too rough and since the Capt. was settled on the floor of the wheelhouse they just escorted them in. The Capt. of the Earl Grey asked the boy wonder if there was anyone aboard capable of taking the vessel in to which he responded “well I’ve been steering a boat since I’ve been in diapers and could just see up over the wheel so I’m sure I can” which caused a chuckle, later adding that he had his Class IV so that was more reassuring. The injured captain was pretty shocky by the time the paramedics met them at the wharf and transported him to the hospital. The shore captain headed home for a few hours of restless couch sleep and then off early to get things ready to take the fish out.

The captain was stabilized locally and transferred a few hours later to the regional center for tests and then surgery, which has happened and he’s in the recovery room this evening as I type, heading to ICU for the night as he’s battling an infection and on to the city tomorrow to see a plastic surgeon. He’ll be a sick boy for a bit and out of commission for a few months what with temporary and then reconstructive surgery plus a sacral fracture but he is a tough cookie.

After multiple attempts to get up the incline and out of the driveway this morning, a call to the cleaning lady’s husband for a tow and then the 17th time was a charm I was free and on my way to the city for the conference day. I stopped at the government wharf to make sure the boy hero was ok as he had been pretty hyper after the fact at 3:30 a.m. according to his father. He’d finally fallen asleep by about 6 a.m. and then was up by 7:30 with my call to take the boat around to the next harbour to unload fish. When he protested at the early start I said, “do you want me to send someone to help you?” and that settled it with him quickly deciding that he was just fine thank you. By the time I made it down to the wharf all I could see was the boat in the distance steaming out of the harbour. I spoke to one of the Coast Guard officers as I was leaving, thanking them for all their help and he said “that young fellow did a great job yesterday missus, he was pretty calm, cool and collected you know” When I grinned and confided that he usually made me nuts he said “well you should be pretty proud of that lad he did a great job and he’s quite a boy.”

As I climbed into the car I thought ‘you know he really is, isn’t he?’ I’m as proud of him as I am of his oldest sister when she did so well in her Mutuals exam, his next oldest sister when she called to say she’d gotten the BEd bursary or his youngest sister when she had a reference letter from the nursing home where she worked as a PCW for her international clinical which almost makes you blush or the last mark on her stats course of 98. They just all have to find their own way don’t they? I recall a friend’s previous partner - he had major character flaws so was not a keeper, but I digress… as he said “but your children will all make something of themselves and contribute to the world” and you know, he was right. Mind you, if they did nothing at all you’d love them for who they are but what would you have to brag about to others eh?

It was a very long day at the infection control session, which concluded with a major parking lot fiasco as it took 50 minutes to get out of the underground parking when the validation machine would not work. There was a heated confrontation between an ER physician and a security guard, which resulted in the Doc roaring off in his BMW while we all secretly rooted for the guard, as we were appalled at the physician’s ego in action. The hour delay was the difference in getting caught in a major blizzard on the drive home with two vehicles off in the ditch, no visibility and 30 km conditions. I was not very impressed on many levels.

Came home to find an exhausted husband who had eaten leftovers and could hardly keep his eyes open. Called the son who was heading to a friend’s to “have a couple of cold beverages” he said after matter of factly stating “you know I’ve been involved in some pretty crazy stuff but yesterday was the most freaked out I’ve ever been”. Had a checkup call from daughter # 1 at work and it was sure great to hear a cheery voice. So we’ve gotten ourselves to the point of putting things back together again, much better than the alternative which anyone making their living from the water chooses not to think about.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marine Emergency Duties

Well more high seas hijinx but I’ll begin by reassuring you all that the outcome could have been a LOT worse. It begins with (yet again) ‘the boat’ which I've posted a photo of here to the left which bears the caption 'see ya in 3 or 4 days' being overdue from a winter fishing trip as they were expected in by this morning as (yet again) a winter storm advisory was out for the province. The shore captain was up and out early calling me from the plant to say that all schools were cancelled and the roads a mess so what were my plans? My plan, which I quickly put into place, was to change the voice mail on my office phone, reset the alarm and start enjoying my newly booked vacation day by sleeping in.

I was awoken at 8 a.m. to be a computer consultant for the man who had forgotten he had instructed me to have a day off. He mentioned that the boys had been heard on the VHF saying that someone had set trawl across them last evening and they had stayed to get it back so were delayed. We had a lot of wind during the night and this morning and apparently the wind blew 45 + knots early this a.m. so they would be in this afternoon.

I puttered around doing online tasks, laundry, and getting the hacienda in order for the cleaning lady’s visit tomorrow. At 1 p.m. I had a call from the shore captain and when I asked if he’d heard from the boys he said “well…. not from them” so I correctly surmised the Coast Guard and then he filled me in. Apparently at about noon while steaming in and about 35 miles out they were hit by a large? rogue wave which had washed over the stern and had lost the hatch cover to the fish hole so were unable to steam as it was rough and they didn’t want to put anymore water over the deck with the open hatch. The coast guard cutter CGS Earl Grey was headed out to assist and was at least three hours away. They had gotten the life raft and EPIRB down off the roof, were in their survival suits and the three of them were in the wheelhouse. The Captain stated they were not going to abandon ship as they had things under control now. I told mister to let me know if things got worse and decided that scrapbooking might distract me as I waited.

The shore captain arrived home at about 3:30 p.m. saying that apparently the Captain had been injured when the wave struck as it had driven him out of the seat and across the wheelhouse as he was steering. Since there was bleeding, there had been some conversations with the QE II emergency room doctor but apparently the lads, having had marine first aid, were already ahead of all that he suggested. The secretary at the plant was monitoring the VHF radio as the Coast Guard radio was calling the boat every 30 minutes and the situation appeared stable. The phone calls continued with the flight surgeon advising that the pilot wasn’t keen on putting a helicopter in the air with the weather at present and conditions meant that a rescue would have to be made by putting the injured fisherman into the water and rescued from there. It was unanimous that no one chose this option, especially the injured party. The plan was to put a medic from the cutter aboard the boat to assess the medical situation and decide from there. The destination was the nearest community hospital, which fortunately (according to my research) was going to have a physician on call by 7 p.m. this evening.

I was delegated to call the Captain’s wife (who I had never spoken to before) with a reassuring version of the situation and she did quite well considering the circumstances. I was pleased that the call had been made when the Rescue Coordination Centre phoned shortly thereafter for details, asked for her contact number and did indeed call her.

The phones, both landline and cell, have been ringing non-stop with fishermen looking for news and/or offering assistance and two of the neighbours dropped in – both of whom have been involved with marine emergencies themselves – one of them having drifted in a life raft in the fog for over 20 hrs. almost two years ago. All agreed that the loss of the gear and equipment from deck was only money and meant nothing if everyone was going to be ok.

The latest update from the Rescue Coordination Centre is that the cutter Earl Grey is escorting them in, they’ve left the Captain aboard the boat and he’s resting, they should be in by 1 a.m. or so. Apparently the boy captain is steering and although both his grandmother and the plant secretary have expressed concern about his abilities (don’t they know he takes his turn on watch?) I have reassured them stating that he has a piece of paper proving he’s capable of doing just that as Transport Canada awarded him his Master Class IV certificate. As for him being upset, I reminded them that on the previous Coast Guard encounter the trip before last, he was the only one to crawl back into the bunk because “it was going to be an hour and a half until the helicopter came with the pump ma, why not?” Again as one of his sisters noted, more stories to regale us with.

One slightly amusing (now that the situation is settling) point was that I had called the prodigal son’s girlfriend to advise of the situation originally and told her that the Coast Guard Cutter Earl Grey was making it’s way out to assist. When I called with an update her mother answered and said “oh the Coast Guard ship Earl Grey, oh that makes sense as she said some Earl was going out to get them and I was trying to think who she meant, Earl Demolitor? Apparently she was a bit more flustered than I thought”. We both had a good chuckle at that one.

And to think that I was planning the only exciting news to post was that the local cable company was asking for permission to film the Mid Week Break presentations at the library so I was going to (again) be a movie star. I was able to consent saying that I’d been taped on the Grand Princess in July and it had gone well.

Well, off to a MRSA Roadshow tomorrow in the city – not nearly as exciting as the life I lead here I hope. I’m thinking it will be a quick trip down and back as the travel partner is now otherwise occupied.

I had a message from a friend saying that the brother of a local physican owns the accommodation we have booked for Barbados. As always it’s a small world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Peach and Quiet here we come

Today was a decidedly unfun work day where one of the better parts was that the boss came to visit so that should tell you something. By the end of the day I decided that my 'best before date' had expired and I was of no good to myself or anyone else.

One positive event in the day was to find an email confirmation of the budget hotel booked for Barbados. The name of Peach and Quiet was a bit cutesy but the reviews are all good and it IS only two days:

And of course another response for the Mystic Rose one bedroom cottage which was $25 cheaper which didn't arrive until after the first was booked, as those things usually go. Would be good for a longer stay from the looks:

And of course mister now says as he's getting into the vacation mode "too bad we couldn't stay 4 or 5 days in Barbados" to which I replied "we were originally looking at one, you've increased it to two and there are only three days to work in that week as it's Easter week anyway, plus you're asking me to then take 3 weeks vacation at once, how do you think that will play out for coverage?" This from a man who last month said "kind of late isn't it?" My nerves.

The best part of the day was the feeling of almost spring in the air when I walked the dog after supper, can you believe it was still light at 6:15 pm? I called daughter # 1 to cheer myself up (as we have a project on the go which will be revealed soon) and hearing her little voice always helps. She was on the third day of her long weekend so that made me feel sorry for myself and then she disclosed that she had been to the tea shop and although she vowed that she hadn't bought any Lady Hanna tea, I'm having trouble hoisting that aboard, if I lived that close to the tea shop I'd be their biggest customer! Anyway, enough whining, I've listened to enough today to know you don't want to either.

Here's something to cause you to if not smile at least shake your head. Now honestly, you couldn't make up the following story line for a Harlequin and have anyone believe it. Not one amongst us would feel even remotely sorry for the main male character in this one, what a piece of work he is:

SHANGHAI (AFP) - A married Chinese tycoon who could no longer afford to support his five mistresses during the economic slowdown held a contest to decide which one to keep, local media reported Tuesday.

The contest took a tragic turn when one of the mistresses, who was eliminated based on her looks, drove her former lover and the four other women off a mountain road in an apparent fit of anger, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The driver died in the December 6 crash while the man and four other women were hospitalised, the report said.

Initially, it was thought to be an accident, but then details of the bizarre contest emerged in a letter left by the dead woman, a 29-year-old former waitress surnamed Yu, the newspaper said.The woman met the entrepreneur, surnamed Fan, at the restaurant where she worked in the coastal city of Qingdao in 2000 and became his lover, the report said.

Fan later introduced her to the four other mistresses -- two of his employees and two former clients -- with all given a 5,000-yuan (733-dollar) monthly allowance and rent-free apartment, the report said.However, when Fan's business ran into tough times, he decided to lay off all but one woman, the report said.

Fan hired an instructor from a modelling agency to judge a private contest he held at a hotel in May, but he did not tell the women about his intentions.

Yu was eliminated in the first-round beauty competition and a woman surnamed Liu eventually won after dominating the drinking round, the report said.

When Fan told Yu she was dismissed and that he was selling her apartment, she decided to exact revenge during a group outing.After the accident Fan paid Yu's parents 580,000 yuan as compensation for her death. His wife divorced him after learning of his affairs, the report said, adding the other four mistresses also left him.

The tale was reported in other Chinese media, but none gave further details about Fan, such as his age or profession.

Anyway, have made myself a promise that I'll take a small step every day towards my 'vision' so today I did a search of the CAIN (Canadian Association for International Nursing) website and came up with a link to:

where there are 14,601 volunteer opportunities posted. My kind of list, going to check it out now. But first as the shore captain has gone to a meeting about George's Bank and come home rather uncommunicative and gone to bed at 9 p.m. after speaking in grunts I offer the following background for those who may be in the same situation.

LONDON (AFP) - The stress caused by the global economic downturn could reduce men's testosterone levels, a British doctor warned Monday. Chronic stress caused by redundancy, financial worries or working longer hours could make levels of the hormone drop, said Richard Petty, the medical director of a top London men's health clinic.

Testosterone, the hormone produced by the testicles, triggers the development of male sexual characteristics. It is linked to sexual function, circulation and muscle mass, as well as concentration, mood and memory.

"When a man becomes grumpy or irritable, it's easy to blame work or simply the effects of ageing," said Petty.

"In the short-term, stress can increase levels of testosterone and this is useful to help people respond quickly to pressures and new situations.

"But chronic stress, which is ongoing, is a major factor in the decline of testosterone.
"Chronic stress occurs all too frequently due to our modern lifestyles, when everything from high-pressured jobs to unemployment keeps the body in a state of perceived threat."

Lower testosterone levels of the hormone can cause lethargy, irritability, lack of concentration and a low sex drive.

Petty advised men to reduce their stress levels as much as possible by resting, eating healthily and exercising

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Proof in the pie not the pudding

Here is the photo proof of what I was doing this afternoon - this is my new pie plate complete with apple pie. Also accomplished a breadmaker loaf of brown bread and a slowcooker stew. And yes, those slow cooker liners are really the bees knees when it comes to clean up - I'm their biggest fan.

There was a nice article in the paper today which reminded me of baking so I'm pasting it here:

Tending to the batterBy MONICA GRAHAM In the SpiritSat. Feb 14 - 9:46 AM

THIS PAST WEEK a friend gave me a plas­tic bag filled with batter for something called Amish friendship bread.It may or may not be truly Amish in origin, and it’s a sweet loaf rather than yeast bread, but you do share it with your friends.

But first you have to take care of the batter, or starter, as it’s called.

The first several days, all you do is mush it around in the bag as it ferments. Easy. Then you add sugar, milk and flour, close the bag and mush it around again. For the next several days, you mush it every day, and try not to misplace or chill the batter.

After 10 days, you add more flour, sugar and milk, and mix it up. Now this is the friendship part: you take a cup out for each of three friends, so they can start their own batter.

You keep a cup of batter for yourself to continue the process. You add eggs and whatnot to the remaining batter and bake it into two large loaves, which can also be shared with friends.

It occurred to me that this recipe for friendship bread is also a metaphor for friend­ship itself.

First, you can’t create it all by yourself. You have to get the starter from someone else. You have to be a friend to have one, and vice versa.

Then there are the days you just enjoy the easy part of caring for the batter: squishing it around, making sure you don’t lose it or for­get it, and keeping it from getting too cold.

There are times in a friend­ship when you enjoy the warm, easy bits: happy con­versations, shared activities and the confidence in know­ing you have a friend.

Next, you add something to the batter to increase it and improve it. It’s a bit of work, but no big deal, and it all still fits in the original bag.

Every now and again friendship also places a few more demands on us. We may be called upon to lend a hand or a sympathetic ear in a crisis, endure a problem, or help carry another’s burden.
It’s a bit of work, no huge deal, and it fits within the boundaries of friendship.

Now you can go back to squishing the bag of batter every day to keep it bubbling. Likewise, we keep paying regular attention to our friends to nurture the rela­tionship and keep it active.

Finally, the batter grows too big for the bag. There’s enough to share, and enough left over for ourselves. We introduce it to our friends, who eventually pass batter to their friends, and to their friends. Until, theoretically, everyone in sight is baking Amish friendship bread.

In life, there are times when our friendships expand to include new friends, with­out diminishing the original relationship, and even im­proving it. The circle grows ever bigger, creating new circles that overlap until we experience friendly and positive relationships with everyone we know.

Now, what happens when everyone we know and all our friends’ friends already have starter? What do we do with those extra three cups of batter?

Well, we bake extra loaves and freeze them to share in the inevitable hard times, and we keep tending the batter.

And what do we do when our world is brimming with friendship or with love? We preserve it, tend it, celebrate it, hold it in our hearts and minds, and keep it active in our lives because someday someone will need it and want it.

Should you wish to pursue the AFB as this is the acronym for the Amish Friendship Bread here is a link to a blog devoted to it:

Apparently there are many things to be learned about this wonder bread.

Speaking of friendship, I saw a message on Facebook earlier from someone who was providing support to a friend who had posted "nobody had said it was gonna be easy but nobody had said it was gonna be this hard" and the reply was true...but i spent so many years wondering when my life was going to start, when all the mishaps would turn into success...and then one day i realized THIS is my life, full of ups and downs, hard times, good times, happy days and sad days...just make the best of it, laugh at all the blunders and enjoy every moment because it's far too short, don't miss any opportunity, and love your family and friends! :))))) which sums it up eh?

A tip for scrapbooking/cardmarking blog readers is that I picked up some cardstock at Staples yesterday thinking at the copy center as I didn't want to buy a package of 100 sheets and thought I might need it for printing first aid cards and it only cost 7 cents per sheet! No, I didn't check to see if it was archival quality but for projects such as cards etc. it's of no consequence.

Had an email this week from the baby daughter saying that her clinical dates in Sweden are from May 4 to June 5 so she is starting to get excited now. What an opportunity for her eh? Her email said she was basically losing her mind which sounds about right for second term of second year in a BN program. Had a chat with daughter # 2 this afternoon and she is in the thick of her BEd studies without a spring break as she has a practice teaching placement but will have Easter off so we'll look forward to seeing her then. I was relieved to find that it was only a government bureaucrat doing an inspection which sent her to be certified as disease free - one of those makework projects it appeared in it's usefulness. Will have to check in with daughter # 1 to see how Mortage 101 is going with her - all my girls are study bugs at once - but ran out of day.

What with having no children to send to work bingo in my place and having to go myself there were less hours available. This time I managed to make the cash $1.50 in favor of the Fire Dept. so I told my tutor that I would do this each week until I got the $4 back I messed up last time. She showed me the envelope they keep for the 'slip ups' the volunteers make so it is a common occurence apparently. At one point a lady reappeared at the window to tell me that I'd given her too much change by counting the bingo books wrong so I tried to fix the error and made another one. My mentor said "you'll have to excuse her, she's a nurse" and the lady said as she disappeared around the corner "oh no, which hospital does she work at so I don't go there?" to which I replied "I don't have to make change in my line of work" This only gained me a snort.

Well must call it in as I've made plans to do some high speed internet research for my cruise presentation tomorrow morning at the fish plant. I figure that the lack of distractions should encourage me to focus and I'd better take the shore captain up on his offer as he is becoming concerned about my procrastinating - he should recognize such behavior I figure.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sleep deprived

Well, it’s another cold, windy, dark February night so what’s the problem with heading to the sauna and hibernating early? I am beat as the shore captain was up every 20 minutes trying to reach the boat on the cell, sighing, back to bed and then of course up at 5:30 a.m. So there are new sleep rules for ‘the night before the boat’s in’ which include him removing himself to the spare room as if he wishes to have an anxiety attack he can enjoy it to the fullest - solo. FYI the delay was that the ‘jog stick’ which is a steering mechanism broke, the captain had to steer from outside and the crew had to stop ‘in between tubs’ to dress fish, it blew hard and they only had 10,000 lbs of fish and not many halibut so they were not impressed. Annoying but hardly life threatening stuff. I was amused by a friend’s description of being alarmed if the shore captain was – not likely – I (and those who live here) have seen much hyperventilation, pacing, raised voice and other meltdowns as he waits and we mostly ignore it do not react. He of course puts on his ‘outside’ face so she would only have seen him acting like a calm adult.

I had a frantic morning at work, which had as much packed in it as some full days and rushed off to have my eyes examined due to the boy keener optometrist who not only inflicted me with bifocals but also thought my intraocular pressure was on the “high side of normal” I had my visual fields tested and suspect I will never be diagnosed with epilepsy because I’m sure that exercise would have triggered a seizure should I be susceptible and was told sternly to “focus now, I don’t want you to have to do this all over” which made me feel like I was in the slow class . Then drops and a machine in both eyes, which is of course as easy as it sounds to cooperate with. Then a final chat with the boy wonder where he describes that the layer on the front of my eye is thicker than usual (not sure why he chose not to name the part as that would’ve been easier for someone who understands anatomy than me guessing eye structures – oh you mean the cornea?) and he agrees “yes the cornea” So I ask if this was something I was born with or a new development – thinking to myself - is this something else that’s gotten thicker as I got older? So he agrees my eyes have always been like this and that when they convert the measurements my pressure is actually very normal, but it’s good to have a baseline measurement. Sure wish the rest of my skin was thicker than my cornea after this past few weeks at work especially.

To reward myself I head to do some errands and find a Suduko game for $2.97 for a valentine for mister – he doesn’t have to know that’s what it cost. The very fractured translation of the instructions (which he has thus far avoided so can’t figure out what to do) is a hoot. Mind you, how much Mandarin do I translate eh? I picked up some Poppycock with cashews for us and treats for the kitty boys so covered all the bases. I had chosen from the flyer a neat stainless steel water bottle, which has a denim pattern on it for the cruise. There was one with a camouflage design but it seriously reminded me of Rommel the Desert Fox movies as John Wayne or Ford or some such actor raised a canteen to his lips. I also found a beautiful fluted white pottery pie plate so have pie making on the agenda for tomorrow.

No communicable diseases

I haven’t decided if it was reassuring or not to hear the cheery voice of daughter # 2 on a voice mail message when I checked it as I crawled in at 5:40 p.m. saying “I just wanted to let you know that I don’t have any communicable diseases” My first thought of alarm was ‘and you (or someone else) thought you did?’ then ‘I guess it’s a good thing that you don’t’ but the message went on to say “I thought it would be fun to tell you that because I work in a daycare that I know” So a sigh of relief to think that it is only a routine workplace requirement.

I had one of those Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman stops to make on the way home as I did a home visit for a neighbour who had fallen and had her elbow glued so needed a dressing change. Have scheduled another visit for next week as her daughter is in Halifax with the son-in-law who is battling leukemia and the neighbours are taking turns staying, bringing meals and generally checking in so no need to drag her in to town. Never a regret to live in the countryside is my thinking. I know the Minister of Health doesn’t appreciate what I do but the neighbours do so that counts for more.

I did remember to stop and pick up the nightshirt I ordered from Sears, which is comfortable, and I was pleased with it. I asked the life partner what he thought of it for the cruise and he says “it looks good, a granny gown” which he quickly explained was a compliment after I gave him a searching look. I think after this many years it’s likely as romantic as I’m going to hear. Ah, what happened to the 18 year old that walked in snowmobile suit in a blizzard across the causeway to deliver a Valentine’s card to me so many years ago?

I have been so distracted that I forgot to stop at the ATM to pick up cash for the cleaning lady. She assured me that my credit was good but I am determined to not do anything to jeopardize our relationship. Coming home to an immaculate house today was one of the best things that have happened since last week this time. I was really ticked to discover (yes I know I shouldn’t have checked) that the airfare to Barbados was $113 each less this week than what we paid. Argh.

I am planning that my next job will at least have a hope of a lunch break and less than an hour of unpaid overtime per day. And I’m hopeful that there will not be a to-do list at the end of one day for the next, which is longer than most peoples for the entire week. That I won’t encounter an employee weeping as I attempt to leave that hour late so I need to stop longer and provide support. That I will not have been yelled at, told I am no longer trusted after I have knocked myself out to assist another employee or spent 3.5 hrs on conference calls for three different areas of my two jobs. As I said to a work team mate in an email “don’t bother me as I’m studying Inuktutut now”

The scrapbooking resolution is going well thanks and I was in Tromso, Norway’s gateway to the north this evening. Very therapeutic.

I am closing now as the shore captain casually informed me as he headed to bed that I needed to drive him to the shore at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow before I go to work because he realized at the end of the afternoon he couldn’t drive two vehicles at the same time – I think I knew that before late in the p.m. Here is an entry from the page a day calendar that my student nurse daughter gave me for Christmas. It is entitled Advice to New Nurses – air goes in and out, blood goes around and around and any deviation from that is a bad thing. That should help her on her midterms eh?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Northern dreaming

I was so discouraged at work today as the day unfolded into very close to a nightmare, meaning I'd have been screaming if I wasn't very much awake - but enough whining. It sure made the checking out of the Nunavut Nurses ad/website I found in the nursing journal more than a temptation and an escape plan. Here check it out for yourself:

Salary + BonusesNurse compensation is detailed in the provisions of the Collective Agreement between the Government of Nunavut and the Nunavut Employees Union. The current contract was ratified in July 2008.

Nunavut Nurses Base Salary:$68,710-$102,458
Northern Allowance:$13,563-$31,251
Annual Special Allowance:$9,000-$19,500
Signing Bonus:
$5,000 on signing,
$5,000 at 18 months
$10,000 at 30 months
Monthly Retention Bonus:
0-5 years of service=$375 per month
5-10 years of service=$400 per month
10-15 years of service=$450 per month
15-20 years of service=$500 per month
20+ years of service=$550 per month
Mentorship Allowance:$500 per month to provide mentoring to recent graduates.
Professional Development Initiative:$3,000 to $6,330 annually per nurse depending on the home community, towards the cost of attending conferences, taking courses, etc.

Now I haven't packed my woolies yet but I'm just saying (to quote the baby daughter) it's something worth considering. Would clear up the visa balance in a hurry and would be a great start to head out on some of my travels. Even with my deficient math skills it's not hard to see I'd be making at least double up there and that would be for example a homecare nurse which would be less responsibility than the present.

It sounds as if my proposed travel partner (travel dependent on not having to give up her firstborn son to cover the incident below) would be ready to head north with me for sure.

I read your blog we should be together. My car broke down yesterday and it looks like the transmission. Hopefully most of the work is covered by the extended powertrain warranty I bought but....The story includes the two characters I met at this local garage could have been from the hills in Arkansas, I swear, no one could be that dirty and greasy at 9:30, without a build up from over the week. One character initially makes the diagnosis then retreated to his computer and the 'father' who is as clean as a whistle and claims he does all the work although his son is 'self-taught'. Can you picture it? I call my brother who is working painting at a nearby school and he tells me 2 of the supervisors on site are going back to town so maybe I could get a drive with them. So I'm waiting in this garage and they pull up, windows down hollering - Is there a damsel in distress here? which did cause #1 son to look up from the computer and say - that's just what you need. I walked over to the truck and one guy says, we got you a med. tea at Tim Horton's, I said thats lovely thank you but a stop at the liquor store is more appropriate!I called the dealership when I got back and the service supervisor looked it up and I have a powertrain warranty up to 115,000 kms so hopefully the necessary work is covered. The estimate from the other garage was $2,300 so needless to say I walked around in a fog for the day. I haven't heard anything yet so I figured they haven't looked at it yet.

So please send positive thoughts to her as it appears she requires an intervention in the luck department this week.

Now, enough dreaming, I must get my act together and find surfaces for the cleaning wildwoman who will arrive in the a.m.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's been how long since I wrote?

Well lots and lots of catching up to do. I’m so behind that daughter # 2 even phoned to say “what’s going on, you haven’t updated the blog lately?” Where to start, where to start? It’s been Groundhog Day since I posted so a lot has happened in eight days.

Well, last week at work was so difficult that I inquired about alternate employment and was warmly received (as any warm body writing RN after their name would be) discovering that long-term care has achieved parity with acute care. This however means at the rate of a staff nurse, not someone with my education, experience and specialty qualifications, as my family physician pointed out to me. The sad part was not only that he realized this discrepancy but also that my employer doesn’t compensate for all the time, energy and money I have invested in being able to write all those letters after my name.

Not to for one moment suggest that staff nurses do not deserve every penny (and more) which they earn but it sure is disheartening to think that a 12 hr. shift position where an RN does their best, at a reasonable pace, mind you with a fair bit of responsibility pays the same as the centrifuge I’m subjected to now. And don’t even get me started on the ad for Nunavut I found in the latest Canadian Nurse Journal, which arrived tonight. The northern ads have always rated a browse since I’ve looked as a student nurse but this one said base salary up to $102,458 plus northern living allowance and bonuses of $30, 063 to $63,681 depending on community plus signing bonuses. Now, before you say “but it’s up north” the instruction certainly has to be “do the math”! Not sure I’m ready to abandon those I attempt to be the buffer for yet, but am certainly moving closer to ‘gotta think of myself’ mode every day.

As I learned I in a Human Resources session for the new system we’ll be using come April 1st that the term for ‘terminating’ employees is “dehired” as it sounds better. I mused that “used to work here,” sounded much better in the frame of mind I was in regardless of how HR labeled it. My personal favorite from the session was to discover that SME stands for Subject Matter Expert. Honestly some folks have WAY too much time on their hands.

The personal mastery workshop second part was held on Saturday afternoon and the timing of the two sessions couldn’t have been better what with all the ethical dilemmas etc. We did a vision board, which involved of course in my case travel, family and some other fun stuff. Our homework is to contact the leader with a personal action plan which is a goal, what I need to stop doing, continue doing, and start doing to reach this goal. Hmm.

The business daughter just happened to make a 70 on her mutuals exam after only being with the bank for just three months, studying for only two months and having a fair bit of personal excitement herself in that time. No surprise to any of us that she would ace it of course but the exam is a tough one and the pass rate is not all that high. Not only did she receive congratulatory flowers from her branch manager but also had a business supper with some banking execs.

Before I had left the house on Saturday I wrote the life partner a note, which read:

There are some things I’d change if I got to live my life over but…
The kids
Living in this community
Being a nurse

Are not things I would change.

Mister was so concerned that he called me on my cell when he came home to find the paper stating he wasn’t sure if I was saying goodbye temporarily (by running away) or permanently (by ending it all) so I reassured him and noted it had been too long since I expressed appreciation for all the good in my life. When I arrived with the groceries, I tried to explain it was a part of living gratefully but he was just relieved I actually came home.

We did have a slight disagreement on Sunday a.m. when I was taking him to retrieve the ton truck as he mentioned that he wouldn’t have to wash his insulated coverall suit but simply put it in the dryer because it was “clean just wet” and I lost it saying that the dryer is for clean clothes only not dirty ones to be cooked and then I instructed him that is he was going to insist on doing such idiotic things would he please just do it on the sly, like drinking from the juice container out of the fridge, and not let me know about! He had that look that husbands of women having perimenopausal outbursts exhibit and clamped his lips firmly shut and looked out the window. Got to keep em wondering.

I did head off to attend the writing group, which I had not made for months and it was fine with the usual light exercises and a few new faces. As we were sharing our second exercise a bit of drama was inserted. A young man came to the door and asked for a lady who I had not met before urgently saying to her “you have to come, there’s a birth and the baby is coming head first”. The group of middle aged women, many of us mothers and some grandmothers looked on perplexedly thinking that ‘headfirst is good’ as she jumped off the sofa to her feet and said “you’ve got to call Billy Rose, let’s go” with the young man replying “he’s already on his way” as they rushed out. As we glanced in confusion at one another, someone volunteered that they were referring to a…..sheep and it was not a good thing for them to be born anything but breech (feet first) as they got stuck. There was a slight delay as we collected ourselves to go on with the readings.

The drama at work has not assisted in my interest or time to research my presentations for the upcoming cruise. Well, not true as I have been checking out cheap Barbados hotels but nothing deeper than that. The travel partner did pick up a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers on sale at the local sports store. When I asked him if he was getting excited about the cruise he said “I don’t get excited” and when I asked if he thought it would be romantic he gave me a funny look so I said “oh yeah, I just remembered who’s going with me this time” and he agreed with one of those “have you gone stupid?” looks.

However I have been researching netbooks or mini laptops as they only weigh about 2.3 lbs, are much more portable and perform all the functions I require for cruise ship speaking for a reasonable price. On the advice of the computer tech at work (who also suggested and checking out I located a nice Dell model at for only $299 + $10 delivery. Now my plan also includes convincing the shore captain that he can have the larger laptop if he buys the mini for me but as the sale expires in two days I may find myself self financing the deal as it’s just too good to pass up at a savings of $120. A photo just to prove it, here to the right.

Other than that the closest I came to thinking about the Caribbean (other than trying to move there or checking for a cruise wardrobe at Frenchys) was trying out this plantain recipe from the newspaper, apparently inspired by a Dominican Republic dish which looks bad, tastes good:

3 green plantains
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 green onions (greens and whites) chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can (14 oz) chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup water
1 tbsp. limejuice
¼ tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a large skillet with lid, heat oil and fry first onions x 3 minutes, add garlic for 1 minute. Then add broth, cumin, water and sliced plantains, bring to a simmer, cover and bring heat to low and cook until very soft (30 –40 minutes). Add limejuice, mash puree, adding water if too thick and season to taste, sprinkle with cilantro. Yum, comfort food.

Oh and by the way, those slow cooker liners – fantastic – obviously invented by a woman who scrubbed one too many slow cookers. Worth every penny!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhogs and more

Well, apparently ALL the groundhogs came out today, saw their shadow and headed back into their burrows, meaning we're in for six more weeks of winter and since there is a winter storm warning tomorrow with 25 cm of snow, freezing rain, ice pellets and more...maybe those varmits do know what they're doing. Really makes the commute something to look forward to and will without doubt cancel the scrapping booked for the evening. Sigh.

When I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to print photos, the weather prediction had everyone in the county out stocking up on provisions - as if they're going to be without groceries for a month or so. I picked up a little invention which someone at work had mentioned - slow cooker liners - which appparently practically eliminate the cleanup so there is a stew set up to test if the claims are legitimate. I will keep you posted, they're sort of like those oven roast bags for texture and will fit up to a large slow cooker. To end my day on a positive note I went cruise wear shopping at my favorite boutique Chez Francois and as usual Frenchy's did not disappoint. I scored some beautiful white capris, three great t-shirts, two shorts and a kerchief as well as a couple of mugs.

A group of us went to see the movie Marley and Me last night at the local theatre and it was as expected a tug at the heartstrings. The most amazing thing to me was that Owen Wilson was excellent and very believable in the part, I wasn't expecting that. Definitely not a good movie if you're feeling fragile though and the kleenex did get a good workout.

Getting quite philosophical I have drafted some guidelines for Living Well not Merely Surviving:

Family and friends trump everything else
Tell people what you're thinking - unless it's really hateful
Hire a regular housecleaner
Don't obsess over the latest research - a new opposite study will be published tomorrow
Anger isn't awful if it leads to positive action
Talk to strangers if you feel like it
Make grand plans, then readjust but don't be disappointed if they don't work out
Don't travel with library books
Go solo shopping or to a movie if you want to
Don't waste time on books, movies or people that aren't worth it

And in keeping with #7 I left a message for the banking daughter telling her that I had things all planned out so that within a few years she and I would be living in a small Caribbean country. She'd be working for First Caribbean Bank and I'd be doing some kind of mission work, maybe a feeding program or homecare in this third world nation while she supported us in the manner to which I'd like. Her father could come and visit whenever, or stay if he could get things sorted out business wise here and her sisters would just have to content themselves with visiting. When I mentioned my plan on the way to the movies, my friend says "what does she think of that?" and I assured that she'd replied through an email in the affirmative so she says I should've saved a copy. "Nah" I said, "by then one or the other of us will have changed our minds and moved on to something else anyway, that's the way we are" I assured her. Nothing is a certain in life as change itself eh?