Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pandemic or panic?

Well as this week draws to a close I am reminded that the word pandemic sounds very like panic and that is an apt analogy for the state of things. My work situation is so poor that the life partner actually cleaned up the supper dishes last night while I walked the dog. I almost fell over when I discovered that but apparently he was frightened of the state I was in.

My schedule today was not enhanced by the fact I had committed to doing another Mid Week Break presentation at the library so with travel and session had to be out of the office from 10 - 2. How could I refuse my fans when they were the ones who gave me my start in the cruise ship speaking gigs by humoring me the first time? When I arrived I discovered the local cable company was planning to film my talk so I got a lapel microphone, copied my slides to the camera man’s flashstick and we were off. I think he was somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t nervous or bothered by the development as I hadn’t been advised. I told him I was famous on cruise ships so not a problem. In reality it was small stuff compared to my day job lately. There were as many in the audience as on the Sea Princess for the original talk so I was impressed. When I mentioned Norway I was immediately booked for the fall – so many followers, so little time.

The baby daughter headed out for the city and leaves tomorrow (fingers crossed) at noonish for Sweden via New York so as long as there’s no travel ban and she arrives in Stockholm I will be pleased. She has instructions to update via email along the way. Will keep you posted. The main concern at this point is the increase by the World Health Organization of the pandemic alert from 4 to 5 meaning a pandemic is approaching. In the midst of the drama of work she arrived to print her boarding information and as she was leaning over I discovered….a tattoo on her right shoulder. Now that caused some excitement, even though I was almost unable to process it due to information overload exploding around me. And apparently I was one of the few who didn’t know about it as I questioned the oldest sister (who I was congratulating on receiving her official mutual sales certification) about it and she said “ah, she almost made it without you finding out before she left, so close”.

On a more local note, the only son has been proving that he can be a grownup if he chooses to. The lobster license was ‘signed over’ in his name on Monday and he has gone as Captain with just the hired man since then. He ‘kept up’ with the local catches yesterday and today was ‘high boat’ with the largest catch at the plant and by quite a large margin. Obviously the amounts cannot be shared as fishermen are notoriously closed mouth about such details, but suffice to say that he did better than his father expected. The medium term plan is to find a lobster boat/license for purchase this summer for the lad.

On another positive note, the Captain who was seriously injured at sea in February, continues to make a good recovery and arrived today at the plant to catch up on the news and visit surprising everyone. He’s driving, negotiating stairs and planning on how to get back to work as he’s going stir crazy at home.

When I arrived home and started making supper a call for support for a political candidate - the local Conservative - came and let me tell you the poor individual making that call was sorry she found me as I gave her two earfuls on how I (and all my neighbours) were making it a public campaign that if we didn’t receive highspeed internet we’d hold the premier and his Conservative party personally responsible. She assured me she was passing along my comments so I told her she’d better as I hadn’t received a reply from the premier when I wrote this week and I was becoming increasingly more inclined to go public with my thoughts.

I am scheduled to attend a conference in the city for work tomorrow evening and Friday and it’s still up in the air as to whether I’ll make it. At this point I’m thinking I’ll arrive late for the p.m. session but the situation changes hourly. I had originally hoped to make a scrapbooking weekend being offered in the city as I would’ve been there anyway but….not gonna happen.

Well, I must head off to make a lobstering lunch for the ‘big dog’ for the morning.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Summer today

Where to begin?

Well on a positive note, summer arrived today. I do not care what the calendar says it was a balmy 26 c here in the beautiful sunshine this afternoon and warmer than the first part of July last year. We have celebrated this turn of the season by enjoying the first burgers on Friday and steaks on Sunday to break in the BBQ. The cats were left to flop over in the veranda room and here you can see Mr. Gary taking advantage of the peace and quiet.

This has not been a restful weekend as although I am supposed to have the weekends off I have spent 7 hrs dealing with outbreak situations of various illnesses from near and far. Enough said, you can check the global news to find out the latest updates. Just remember that those of us working in infection control/occupational health will be dealing with the fallout of whatever the lead infectious disease story is. I’m much rather describe myself as LBWA – you know, living by wandering around. One noon hour this week I amused myself by checking out the Doctors Without Borders website and this great article by a nurse doing an immunization program in Chad. Now THAT is something I have the skills/inclination to do. Then daughter # 1 sent this link:

which only lead to more dreaming. You have to have your small pleasures remember.

Daughter # 3 has been attempting to organize herself for her adventure across the pond and appears to be getting closer to packing – good thing as the departure is Thursday – but her 16 hr shift today (in her quest to fund these wanderings) at the nursing home has put a dent in her remaining time.

On Friday while I was struggling away obliviously at work apparently there was a crisis of the cleaning lady kind at home. Apparently (as related by the baby daughter who had already been awoken by her father at 5 a.m. with “come on get up” as he thought her brother - the one going lobstering was asleep in the man cave not her) as she dozed off and one during the morning while the cleaning lady thumped and banged around the house with vacuum cleaner, mop etc. she was privy to a meltdown. At first the baby daughter thought she was dreaming and kept meaning to get up and say “don’t worry about it” but just couldn’t get herself awake. Now be advised the cleaning lady (as they all have) takes her weekly job here very seriously. She always take the circular covers for the propane range top off and soaks them in the sink while she cleans the bathroom but when she returned on Friday to try to drain the sink, she discovered one top had fit exactly into the drain (with plug in) and no way could she get it out or drain the water. She tried to pry with a knife and various objects and finally resorted to calling her husband to make an emergency house call telling him to “bring a big magnet” and when he questioned what size she said “the biggest you have and come now”. He arrived shortly thereafter, signaled by the canine doorbell and was unable to magnetize, pry with any kind of tool or otherwise free the circle so….he eventually had to remove the sink drain and pop the circle up with a screwdriver! The cleaning lady called Saturday to confess to her meltdown and advise she was NEVER putting those covers in the sink again.

This evening, when I chatted with the neighbour living in our ‘old house’ as I walked the dog in front of a glorious sunset, she was telling me it had ‘made her day’ to find daffodils blooming in the front lawn which I’d left so I told her there would be later perennial surprises as the season went on. She was thrilled as she’d left quite a garden in BC, so it’s always nice to think the plants will have someone who cares. And even before it starts this week is looking up to be a doozy as I’m off to the district facility for a round of meetings and presentations which will start early and run late. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nurse recruiter

Well today was one of those days I’d have given away except I couldn’t find anyone gullible enough to take it.

The most positive part of the day was that I spoke to a recruiter from Labrador who offered me a job on the spot. All kinds of benefits from relocation coverage to temporary free accommodation, northern allowance etc. but….the signing bonus was less than locally and the wages were equal to what I make now. So until there is some kind of re-evaluation up there it’s just not worth the upheaval. But I told her to keep me on the future possibilities list if something comes up. If I’m going to change jobs I’m not interested in doing a new one at my age but I’ve done enough in my career I can just revisit one.

I had several high intensity encounters before 10 a.m. with strong willed individuals attempting to strong arm me into doing jobs they don’t want to do themselves. “Not going to happen” and”you’re making me really annoyed” was as civil as the reply got and at one point I just walked away.

I had an ‘incident’ at about 9 a.m. where I was opening something online – not sure if it was an email attachment or a website (the trouble with multitasking is that it’s difficult to pin down what you were doing) and the network security system picked up a Trojan horse virus which had embedded itself in my temporary files. Or so the tech told me when I had to call the help desk after being unable to access the web browser, getting a lot of very disturbing warnings and rebooting two or three times. It required the tech to ‘take over’ my computer remotely which is always a very poltergeist type of feeling so I went to lunch while being possessed. In the afternoon when I tried to access the electronic health records function there was another panic as it appeared the Trojan horse had eaten Meditech which had disappeared off my desktop. After following tech instructions to reboot yet again I was finally sorted out.

And the ‘going to lunch’ was highly over rated as by the time I made my way down to the fundraising BBQ….there was nothing left and they were washing the salad bowls. I had however had a nice scone in the morning (surreptitiously obtained) while the Nurse Manager and I were enduring a 90 minute conference call with the district facility in her office. After suffering through a completely irrelevant to us discussions on lost OR instruments – just to fill you in we lost our OR locally about 15 years ago in a government reorganization – an item on the agenda was referred to as “infection control isn’t here today” to which I attempted to raise awareness of my presence by speaking firmly into the phone microphone and saying “hello, hello, anyone there?” and then “I do infection control remember?” until I finally made myself known. Nothing like feeling useful, for sure.

Anyway, enough snarling, this is the time I’m NOT working so why should I whine about it? Hard to reason with an employer who will spend an additional $10,000 in the next six weeks to mandate overtime for RNs (ordering them in to work and paying 1.5 to 2.8 times wages depending on the situation while ticking everyone off and lowering morale and productivity) to meet core staffing needs as we are five full time positions short at present but there is no recruitment and retention plan in place.

Well, actually another positive of today was a request for a lecturer for reduced fees on a Baltic cruise wasn’t too bad but the timing (read financial situation and vacation bank) didn’t agree although the itinerary sure does:

London (Dover), England
Le Havre, France
Zeebrugge, Belgium
Day at Sea
Copenhagen, Denmark
Day at Sea
Helsinki, Finland
St. Petersburg, Russia
Tallinn, Estonia
Stockholm, Sweden

And speaking of Sweden, the youngest member of the family is attempting to get herself underway in that direction, leaving in just nine days. Let me just say this about her efforts - I have taken exception to her line in her summer job application letters explaining her organizational skills!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend musings

I have had a lovely Saturday so far for myself and have accomplished quite a bit considering I’ve enjoyed it. Between domestic duties of laundry out on the line (which loyal blog readers will remember as one of the few household tasks I DO enjoy) a loaf of brown bread which the bread maker and I created and walk about the estate grounds to pick up winter litter while checking the perennials which must be masochists as they have survived the rotten winter we’ve had in good form, it’s been a good start. I also got time to read the paper and walk the dog. There was an article in the newspaper about Deepak Chopra and his take on the recession (as difficult as it was for some) as a chance to examine where we are. He’s quoted as saying “we created a culture where we started to spend money that we hadn’t earned to buy things that we didn’t need to impress people that we didn’t like and it didn’t work anyway”.

Gary and Stanley, as you can see here spent the afternoon relaxing after an outing in the spring sunshine. Hard to believe they could fit both of themselves into this basket on my bureau; it would’ve been interesting contortions to watch.

I’m consoling myself as I finally had to admit this weekend that I just couldn’t fit all my plans in and had to give up on going to a writing workshop, which if I’d had different life I might have been able to make. It was a combination of the drive, not having anything written and simply not having enough hours in the day. One of these years.

Had a nice voice mail message from daughter # 2 this week chirping that she had received all A and A- marks in her Bachelor of Education program en francais. All this while working part time at the Montessori school, babysitting, volunteering as a teacher aide and keeping house in the apartment. Guess there’s no question of retaining the bursary due to her academic record.

This sister is presently in the process of retrieving the baby daughter from university residence after writing her last exam this morning so that she can be home for about 11 days before heading off to her clinical in Sweden. The Europe trip has been under negotiation (trust me CUPE doesn’t bargain this tough) with her father for the past week until he finally accepted her trip plan and gave her his visa number. The last update was that she was hoping to work at the local nursing home for the next few days while here to supplement her minimal stash. I’m expecting a rather full agenda, in addition to the regular daily activities as she is prepared and launched across the pond on April 30th. It will begin with arrival and laundry undoubtedly.

The western daughter is in the process of relocating across town and so in transit but she has been doing some research and discovered a government program, Life Long Learning Plan, where you can withdraw money from your RRSP's to use for school, and then repay it back all tax sheltered. It has to be full time studies but .. you have until you're 71!
So as long as photography and writing programs are covered, I’m in.

She also made me really jealous by her plans to go so the dinosaurs in Drumheller this weekend. The Royal Terrell Museum is an amazing place and she has her camera batteries all charged up.

Speaking of cameras and all things photographic, I noticed while on vacation that the focus button was sticking on my lovely new camera and have been attempting to sort out how to access service as there’s a two year warranty and it was only purchased last fall but….the purchaser doesn’t believe in saving receipts (as that sort of task falls into the benefactor’s job description) so there’s no way to prove the warranty so I’ll attempt service when in the city. Likely a better option versus shipping, insuring and having someone practice on it at the Fuji center anyway. The biggest problem is that I don’t want to be without it for very long.

Well, time to enjoy the peace and quiet of the evening as the critters and lobstering men snooze. As per his plan, the man of the house is becoming more and more redundant on the boat as he spent the day doing a clinical for the heir to the fishing empire. He sat on the stern and ate his lunch as the boy and the hired man hauled the traps, said that was something he’d never done before - watch while someone else did his work. The intent is to switch the license around for the lad to go lobstering while he takes care of details on shore as things have accelerated with his new business venture he’s planning.

I had received a nice email from our out west friends to let us know they're going to be grandparents again. A daughter who previously had to resort to fertility treatments (leading to the descriptor that the first child was frozen for a year, now that's a story for the baby book) which are very costly both in resources and emotion has discovered herself pregnant again without any technical interventions. What a nice unexplainable surprise!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vacation summary week 2

March 29 – Tendered in again, this time to Georgetown, Grand Cayman and since we had a water sport day in Grand Cayman (and yes if you’re wondering we did get to go snorkeling) the photos are yet to be developed from the underwater camera. So, I’ll just tell you that visiting Stingray City for the second time was just as wonderful except that the wave conditions made it difficult to take photos. The travel partner really enjoyed the rays, although when I asked if he wanted to hold one he replied with the politically incorrect statement that when dealing with skates (our version of rays) that he usually had a gaff stuck in them – what can you expect from someone who kills fish for a living eh? The boat stopped to go snorkeling at the coral gardens and we had a great assortment and very large fish come visit us. We stopped for conch fritters at Paradise restaurant (they were as good on replay as well) and the beer tour continued with Caybrew shared with a British couple. We top off the day with supper at the steak house as we’re hesitant to battle the buffet with the norovirus red alert still in full force.

March 30 – Our second sea day and it’s warm and breezy so we have to limit ourselves to an hour on deck and even that was pushing it. We do some research on snorkeling in Aruba/Bonaire and I have about 50 in attendance for my final presentation. The passengers are about 97% British and not too interactive so I have a sense of what bombing at Yuk Yuks might feel like but there are a few questions afterward and after all this is a pretty sweet deal for the two of us so I’m not going to feel guilty. The Captain’s reception in the evening brings the master of the Sea Princess over to talk to us and when I point at my travel partner and mention I’m traveling with a captain he says “aircraft or ship?” the thought of my life partner as an airline pilot causes me such mirth I’m only able to gasp “ship” in response, so he questions “which line?” At this point the man being referred to, recovers his tongue and says quickly “oh no, a fishing vessel” and this response thrills Capt. Jerman who says “oh a real boat” and they have an animated discussion about fishing off SW Nova Scotia and his younger days in between his sea time delivering ships from the UK saying that he once delivered a 100 ton fishing vessel to Burma ‘when it was Burma and we had relations with them’ and that he probably shouldn’t tell this but that he was deathly seasick the entire time. He reluctantly moved on to other guests who were clamoring for his attention and I remembered that I’d not brought my camera.

March 31 – We awake to find ourselves still a ways out and since coming in to Oranjestad; Aruba is a tricky channel we’re accompanied by a tug and pilot boats when we do dock. We wait for the gangplank as wind during the night slowed our progress and we are about an hour later than scheduled so we chat with a young Australian diesel mechanic who is on his way to be a Chief he tells us. He advises us that he’s conducting lifeboat drill for the crew this afternoon and that we should head for # 11 if anything happens because that’s the one he’ll be in. We hop onto an island tour as it’s the same price as a taxi to get to the beach. Aruba is an interesting but Americanized (due to the petroleum industry history) and we get to see quite a bit of it. We get dropped off at a beach where we’re able to snorkel by just walking off and there’s a great variety and lots of fish, in fact it’s the spot where the catamarans come with snorkeling tours. The small lizards on the beach investigate our bags and love apple cores a US couple there tell us. What a spot. We catch the public bus to return to the pier and try to find a shirt for formal night. Apparently the white shirt the last minute packer put in his wardrobe case was his son’s as it had a size 14½ neck and he was forced to wear a colored shirt to the first fancy dress evening. We make three attempts and when we’re finally shown one he likes for $337 I call it quits and we head back on the ship.

April 1 – We awake to find we’re making our way into Kralendijk, Bonaire and I’m pleased to discover that I haven’t missed the mark too widely with my information on Aruba/Bonaire in my presentation. Bonaire is being developed but is less commercialized than Aruba and we could definitely spend some time here. We head down to the water taxi and over to Klein Bonaire which is a small, flat island just a short trip away. The coral reef around this beautiful spot with an amazing no name beach is some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean apparently, and it does not disappoint. The water taxi Capt. advises us to “walk up to the end of the beach and drift back down” and we do as we see the best marine display we have ever snorkeled by. When we come up to warm up a group of British passengers tell us they’ve brought bananas and offer us one as the fish are crazy for them. When we head back with me feeding and mister playing Jacques Cousteau we are almost mugged and a large black damsel fish actually takes the banana out of my hand! We find the man a shirt, the crafts are better quality, reasonably priced and locally made here, and when we stop at a local restaurant the waitress offers to take our photo. Very friendly and multicultural population here so a good day which even makes formal night bearable.

April 2 – We find ourselves docking at Isla de Margarita, looking out at a beautiful white sand beach with brown pelicans diving into the waves and a large craft market just off the ship. We head out for a beach day and find ourselves snorkeling with pelicans at one point in the bath warm water. The beach is really warm and since I’m not traveling with a beach bunny he suffers but not silently for a few moments which he describes later as hours. I stop to negotiate a deal on pearls as a gift to myself and am now outfitted with a necklace, earrings and ring to match the bracelet I already possessed.

April 3 – We’re docked at St. George’s, Grenada by 8 a.m. and decide we’ll do a bit of a tour and we luck out as one of the bartenders has arranged for Lester, his father, to take passengers on an island tour. Two hurricanes in the fall of 2004 and summer of 2005 have devastated the island and there isn’t a roof over 5 yrs old visible. This island is very Americanized and the vendors are extremely persistent (more so than Mexico if that’s possible) so not really where we’d like to spend a great deal of time. It is a beautiful spot though and we learn about its history, have jerk chicken for lunch from an outside BBQ, purchase some spices, see a beautiful botanical garden and check out the fish market in our travels. We spend some time on Anse Beach which is gorgeous before taking the water taxi back to the ship. A great way to spend our last port of call day.

April 4 to 6 – After finding ourselves docked back in Bridgetown, Barbados the early morning is spent disembarking and making our way over to Peach and Quiet while the other passengers and crews are heading to the airport – nice to have a bit of breather before we have to do that. The hotel is a lovely spot and we just crashed the first afternoon in the gazebo, and then headed out on a local bus (now that is an experience) to Oistens Fish Market for supper at the fish fry and had a wonderful evening. We took in Harrison Caves (photo at left) and if you ever make it to Barbados this is NOT to be missed and remember the recommendation is coming from a usually claustrophobic critic. We stopped at the fish pier on the return where we saw green backed turtles (like this one on the right) and rays just off the dock. We joined the group heading to St Lawrence Gap for supper and had an amazing meal at Pisces which is a seafood restaurant over the water – even saw a shooting star – before heading home. Had to call our vacation in paradise to a close to catch the flight to Toronto then transfer in the snow and deice before heading home. And although it sounds selfish to say those two and a half weeks weren’t enough time on a southern vacation….one of these years it’ll be me saying that two and a half months isn’t enough!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vacation summary week 1

Well, the optimistic note of planning to post vacation photos on Wednesday certainly didn't materialize as return to the former life took over. Although there were only two work days they were sure full ones in the attempt to catch up on the absence and head into a four day week where two of those days will be spent in the district facility. I'm reminded of a colleague who used to say in his Acadian accent "you can't put 10 pounds in a five pound mesh bag" in response to workplace expectations.

The weekend has been spent unpacking, doing laundry, cooking, installing software and helping daughter # 2 who has been home from the city with her sewing machine. As well, I've attempted to sort the trip photos a bit (only 730 of them) to find some to post. I told a coworker - in response to her question as to why I hadn't posted any pics on Facebooke - by the time I organize, scale in size and post on dialup I'm (almost) tired of looking at them.

Mind you, it is fun to relive the travels so I'll summarize here and post some visual evidence as well.

March 20 - we headed down to the city after work for a quick visit with the injured Captain who it turns out afterwards is sprung the following day from his hospital hostage taking. We took in Serena Ryder in concert at the casino and she put on a wonderful show, would sure see her again if the opportunity arose.

March 21 - up at 4 a.m. so I'm not sure you can even call it a night when you only sleep for four hours but I guess insomniacs so why not? Daughter # 2 and her main man ran us out to the airport and we had an uneventful, if way too early, check in. Quick flight to Tronna and sprint to make the connection. Time to check the email while mister fetches tea and a muffin from Tim Hortons (good thing too as it was the last food we saw until the buffet on the ship in the evening). Had a good flight down to Barbados on a 767 and it's been a while since we flew in a plane of that size for sure. Managed to watch Australia on the way and it was a wonderful movie - as was Slumdog Millionaire which we caught on the ship and The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons which we took in on the return flight - likely three movies we wouldn't have seen until much later. Had a few hours in Barbados before we had to be on board so we took an island tour which was excellent (despite the miscommunication between hourly and total rate for the cab) to check things out which really made us look forward to our return in two weeks as you can see to the right here. We checked in quickly - they didn't think we were coming - too bad, we're here, unpacked our bags and headed up to grab a bite to eat as we sailed away. We were off to dreamland shortly after.

March 22 - Early morning Caribbean sunshine through the port hole is a good way to start the day and a buffet breakfast isn't too bad either. After sustenance we head off the gangplank to check out St Lucia thinking we'll have an easy first day. In the parking lot we're lined up to join some other British tourists to do a city tour of Castries which turns into eight of us taking in a tour to see the pitons and Soufriere with stops along the way for crafts (her) and Caribbean beer tour sampling (him) as well as some wonderful views. We decide that St Lucia although beautiful is not likely on our 'spend a week here if we don't win the trip list' as it's rather edgy and fairly expensive. We do pick up some nice souvenirs for the girls though and get a start on the tan even with the SPF 30.

March 23 - Another sunny day, another sunny Caribbean island. We dock at St. Johns, Antigua with two other cruise ships and after breakfast head out to source a tour to Nelson's Dockyard. We take a van to see the dockyard (which we decide is highly overrated as a historical site and more suited to the rich and famous yachts) Shirley Heights and see some beautiful countryside. Antigua is a bit more to our liking for spending some time but winning the lottery first is the answer as Eric Clapton et al call this spot home. We're dropped at a beach hoping to snorkel (nothing to see) but have a wonderful swim and beach day. The ship is a good spot to head back to after all the activity.

March 24 - This morning we find ourselves docked at the small developing island of St Kitts and we decide to spend the day just exploring the city of Basseterre as the tours are beginning to wear us down a bit. I spend some time attempting to connect for some volunteer opportunities as a colleague has done so here in the past with the St Vincent de Paul society. I'm not able to visit any of the missions but get some contact info to follow up on from home and discover there is a nursing school which always needs instructors hmm. This is a spot I could stay in for a bit and there is certainly a need to offer help. There's free wi-fi in the cruise port so here I am in a third world nation and able to access high speed internet while I post this on dialup - what is wrong with this statement?

March 25 - Today finds us tendered in to Road Town,Tortola, British Virgin Islands as you can see us leaving the beautiful Sea Princess where we again attempt to head ashore to access snorkeling but the tours are booked. We're offered a van to the beach to snorkel and so we have a beach day where mister manages to toast himself to a lovely red shade and we do get a bit of snorekling in. The surge is quite strong, thus the water's a bit cloudy but we do some some small fish and have a great time body surfing in the waves on Brewers Beach. BVI is a wonderful (expensive) beach holiday but doesn't appear to have too much depth as in some of the other islands. Not to worry we can't afford more than a day here anyway.

March 26 - Again we find ourselves being tendered in to port at Samana, Dominican Republic and another (surprise) sunny day. We wander at the cruise port and find the prices very reasonable as we pick up some gifts, vanilla and souvenirs then head into town to stroll around. Although the streets a few back from the tourist path are somewhat more 'authentic' there is a very obvious police presence and we are quite impressed with the services. There is a private island offshore with another cruise ship anchored there so lots of visitors in. Still getting acclimatized to the heat and humidity so even a short walk is like a marathon.

March 27 - A sea day and a chance to exercise our right to sleep in and enjoy the ship and the sunshine. The presentation on Grand Cayman/Jamaica goes well although only about 44 passengers can bring themselves inside to participate. Mind you the art history talk before I'm on has only 10 present and two of those are asleep.

March 28 - Awake to Montego Bay and about 1/2 of the passengers disembarking as we're exchanging about 1000 in Jamaica. We again (can you see a pattern here) attempt to find a spot to snorkel and after checking out options head out by bus to what we think is Doctor's Cave Beach. The miscommunication (either by error or intent) lands us at Aquasol Waterpark which has a beautiful beach and swimming but (you guessed it) no snorkeling. We have a beach morning and when heading back to the ship opt instead for a city tour. This takes us around Montego Bay to see where both the rich and famous and slums are located, Rose Hall Great House where we decline the $20 US per person admission, the Hip Strip, casinos, Jamaican Bobsled Cafe seen here on the right, Richmond Hill, a great house formerly that of DeWars whiskey owner which we wander through and get a sense of the area. Good place to buy coffee and rum and a great place to leave you with tonight as my eyes are heavy. To be continued tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We're home

Why is it that the fun parts of returning from vacation such as showing off a tan, getting materials ready to scrapbook organizing photos don’t take as much precedence as laundry, groceries and unpacking?

We arrived home this morning at the same time I usually get up for work so all my ambitious thoughts of getting in late and still making it in today evaporated. SNOW delayed us in Toronto as we made our connection to Halifax on April 6th if you can believe it! We were in the queue for deicing for an hour before takeoff so landed at 3 a.m. where we were not impressed with 3-degree temperatures and waited half an hour for luggage. Found the car which daughter # 2 had kindly left in the airport parking lot for us (the construction zone that it is made it feel as if we should’ve been wearing hard hats) and had a really windy, rainy and foggy drive home. To top it all off I had a back spasm – can’t imagine that was from being packed in as if we were in a cattle car for hours and without food too even on a 5½ hr. flight, but I digress – so had trouble even sitting still let alone napping. So I left a whiny message for the coworker covering for me to opt out of today as well and crashed until the shore captain woke me at 1 p.m. to say he was running to the plant with the car. Okay, enough snarling.

We are just back from a wonderful vacation and it will end abruptly tomorrow a.m. as I head back to work for sure. I came home to find the house and critters all in good shape so that was a relief. The dog wasn’t too antsy or overweight as she’d walked one of the teenaged neighbourhood animal lovers and the kitty boys have gotten over their initial annoyance of being abandoned and have stopped ignoring us.

We had as should be expected an amazing (if busy) time. The weather was wonderful, the ship’s staff (a number I remembered) was still great, the passengers were predominately from the UK and the destinations were all…Caribbean. What more can I say? I will post some photos and travel notes tomorrow when I have the domestic responsibilities under control. A favorite island well…. Barbados was a sure hit but we did get to spend three days there as opposed to only one in all the other destinations. Hmm.

In my haste to reduce the amount of work required for presentation preparation the selection of a 12 island, 14 day cruise may not be something we repeat though as it was a bit hectic. We’ve decided that we like the sea days, as they are great for R&R so it may be the trade off to do more than two presentations. I was almost completely ignored by the cruise director and his assistant (which was fine by me) as they’d changed from the October outing and since I was competing with the Caribbean sun I felt I did well to have about 40 and 50 attending the respective sessions. The netbook was fantastic to travel with – both for the presentations and checking email etc. I’ve had a flurry of requests for gigs from Alaska to the Mediterranean with a focus on Canada/US so am sure something will come up for the fall – one yesterday was for 14 days out of NY but that’ too much in our backyard – keeping those eyes open.

Well, must haul this carcass to bed in preparation for my two-day workweek. It was very heartening to hear peepers and see crocuses this evening when I was dog walking. Perhaps spring really is here and about time too!