Friday, September 18, 2009

A me day

Well since it’s the weekend it must be time to blog eh?

When I took Wednesday off to do my presentation for MidWeek Break at the library I decided to make it a ‘me’ day. I slept in and made my way (noisily as I was left with the car waiting to go into the shop for an exhaust system repair – think Trailer Park Boys and you’re not far off) to Yarmouth in time for the presentation. There were some technical glitches between my mini laptop and the library projector which were finally remediated by the cable company cameraman. Since I hadn’t saved the PowerPoint presentation in the older version this was the precipitating factor – good to be reminded of that now, not on the cruise ship. The talk was well received, recorded and otherwise uneventful.

I had time for a Frenchy’s shop following and scored big time…For 50 bucks I found a nice black purse, a faux alligator leather laptop bag, two large reusable shopping bags, two sets of double sheets (the animal print one the boy declared suitable for Austin Powers, Man of Mystery), a pair of navy cushions for my living room, three pairs of slacks, capris, shorts, cardigan and a top. Since I was on a tight timetable when it came time to try items on I was forced to jump into them, take a quick look, make an immediate decision and move on. As opposed to trying things on multiple times, mulling over my choice and then talking myself into something. The investment isn’t large and this rapid method is obviously superior when I look at my cache.

I headed back to the library and had a mentoring session with the Writer in Residence. The previous week there had been almost 60 people attend the original session for the Writer in Residence program which will have monthly programs. The mentoring session focused on my dream of travel writing and some resources for memoir – yes I do plan on still nagging at my kids after I’m gone - since I have so much free time to write, however it was a great boost to my creativity. And she had some good links for my presentation on PEI as well.

I picked up a few groceries and bought lipstick, socks (in a nod to the fall cruise temperatures) and travel toiletries so I’m good to go. When I arrived home to find our boarding letter, which is the equivalent of a ticket as entertainment staff aren’t issued tickets, had arrived the excitement mounted. This letter contained not just the category ex. inside passenger stateroom or officer’s cabin but the room assignment so I can tell you that we’ll be aft and starboard, have a window, twin beds and 170 sq ft. of space on the main deck ex. where the restaurants, theatre and gangplanks are to enjoy our cruise. You’d think we were royalty; well we’re going to pretend we are.

The other evening after getting the laundry off the line as I was sitting in front of the computer with Gary gazing back at me from beside the laptop it became clear that he was looking intently at my right shoulder. When I glanced to the right I noticed something moving there. This precipitated a wild dance of jumping, brushing and yelling which Gary watched calmly, then jumped down to investigate a…caterpillar. Whew.

I stayed after work last evening for the cruise ship meeting and so had a couple of hours to work on the lobstering presentation. At the meeting I sat next to the graphic designer who I will commission to design my cruise speaking business cards. The meeting was interesting as it was run by the new Tourism Mgr who was a classmate of the oldest daughter meaning he is all of 25. He was never accused of lacking imagination so this is right up his alley. I flicked through my PowerPoint for him, offered to entertain the onboard guests gratis on Oct 25th and he was impressed. Since he is my hookup with the Cruise Director on the Balmoral it is looking pretty good for me to have an in with an agent free gig in my future.

Major management/workgroup problems are looming at work with issues percolating for some time but coming to a head with pandemic planning. One of my co-workers said today on the phone as she was describing all the insanity to her husband he told her that she looked like she was doing Tae Kwon Do with her arms waving around like that. A meeting is scheduled for the 24th and our team has all made exit plans should the discussions not go well. Since I have reinvented myself multiple times, although this isn’t necessarily desirable, it is certainly possible. We shall see.

On a more pleasant note we’ve been invited to the summer neighbours for supper tomorrow so it will be nice not to have to provision ourselves. Ah.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sneak preview

Little blogger humour there as I post the photo on the left of what I found by the barn as I walked up the driveway to get the newspaper this morning. I thought we were back in the early 70s during the Cold War and the Russians had visited during the night. This is what the shore captain/boatbuilder has been spending his free minutes on. And all this time when I saw him diligently puttering by the barn I thought he was working on gear. Apparently the original plan was made by one of his employee's father and they made a mould and fabricated it with fiberglas, sealed it with gelcoat and now have done the camo thing. It escapes me how you could sneak up on anything in the water while being propelled by an outboard motor, but what do I know?

This week my headcold developed into sinusitis and laryngitis, so that was not a fun way to spend my extremely frantic workweek. Life was further complicated by a 1 a.m. crank phone call as it turns out someone had stolen the baby daughter's cell phone when she left it at a pizza place. After we got past the frantic thinking something was seriously wrong about 7 hrs away, and the anger at the profane texts we managed to get back to sleep. By the next day the theft became clear but it still left me ticked off. Apparently there is a scam where low-lifes pick up cell phones and call/text the contact list so the owner will cancel the phone and then....they have a paid for phone to activate or buy minutes for. Creeps.

Ah, nevermind, I didn't wake up as my niece (who has a two year old daughter) did to "I pooped on da floor". Those were the days.

On a more positive note, I'm delighted to announce that we have three daughters studying university in business, education and nursing as of this week. All the usual settling into the courses routine going on. Although I do miss that rush of not being enrolled when September comes around the only thing I would be interested in at present would be a Masters in Scrapbooking or perhaps a Bachelor of Crocheting.

I am however polishing up my presentations for the cruise and doing last minute checks for accuracy. Always the chance of an audience expert waiting to pounce. I've got a line on some quality photos from the Writer in Residence at the library as she has just done a travel book on PEI. I have a mentor meeting with her (to boot my complacency up a notch from wannabe to writer) after I do the Mid Week Break talk on Norway on Wednesday.

I have kept a low profile today as I'm feeling much better after the massage therapist adjusted my head/neck/sinuses yesterday - reading the paper and chatting on the phone and the only domestic duties being a loaf of brownbread to go on the boat tomorrow. Apparently there are four vessels readying to leave as soon as this low pressure system passes. The last loaf I sent with the Boy Captain he was unable to partake of as the first slice he dropped into a puddle on deck, and the crew polished off the remainder while taking their turn on watch.

And speaking of culinary topics, the word of the day courtesy of podictionary is.....cranberries:

Do you suppose that manufacturers of juices would have anticipated a big market for something called marshwhort cocktail?

How about fenberry cocktail?

These were the names in England of the native berries now known as cranberries.

Although the subspecies is different, North American cranberries were similar enough to European varieties that when Europeans first began to harvest cranberries in North America they named them according to a German word that meant “crane berry.”

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that there was already a trade importing cranberries from North America back to England by 1686 and that the word first shows up as an English word in 1672.

So it was from North America that England adopted the originally German name for these berries.

Even Anatoly Liberman blogging at the Oxford University Press blog asks the question what exactly cranberries have to do with cranes. The Century Dictionary says “the reason of the name is not obvious.”

So no one knows for a fact why cranberries are named on honor of these tall birds but here are a few theories.

Some speculate that the flowers of the plant have stamens that resemble the bill of a crane.

I myself wonder about the fact that—as indicated by their earlier English names marshwhort and fenberry—these plants grow in swampy areas. Like most long legged, long necked, long billed birds, cranes like to hunt in shallow water.

Looking up crane diets I see that they like to eat all sorts of things including berries. I haven’t seen any references that indicate cranes don’t eat cranberries.

Why not name cranberries after cranes?

I looked out the window yesterday before I dragged myself off to work and saw a crane (Great Blue Heron) fishing off the point while surrounded by shags (cormorants) and sighed.Countdown to retirement - September 2012 - less than three years now that I'll work fulltime. There, I've made it official by blogging it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

All things cruising

It appears that this is the week of all things cruise related. Not only am I getting ready for a fall cruise but the local town (according to our weekly rag) is going to host a medium sized cruise ship on October 25th. The Fred Olson Cruise Line, Balmoral will be moored in the harbour and any of the 1300 passengers who wish will be tendered in. This will be a test drive to see if we might become a regular port of call. It has occurred to me that this may be a good opportunity to market myself as entertainer sans agent to make the agency fee disappear – as recommended by my cohort on the first cruise speaking gig in Norway. I’ve sent off my info to the mayor to take to the meeting as I have plans to attend a writing workshop this p.m. which the writer in residence at the library is organizing and you just can’t be in two places at the same time no matter how hard you try, or in my case no matter how much you’ve practiced.

Yesterday we did the Freddy marathon which meant leave the house at 6 a.m. and return at 9 p.m. totally exhausted! And that was with things going pretty smoothly – good weather, no major road incidents and only stops for fuel for both the vehicle and us. I was really lucky that the shore captain took pity on me with my rotten cold and rearranged his day to drive; I only had to do the Truro return leg. It gave me about six hours to work on the presentations up and back as I charged the netbook at the baby daughter’s apartment and so edited the talks to the Celebrity line plus had the attention of the shore captain to add some photos and info on the lobstering presentation. So a productive run but it was still hard to drag these bones out of bed this morning.

In fact the entire weekend was beautiful weather and on Sunday afternoon I had the unexpected pleasure of a friend who I hadn’t seen for a long time dropping by on her bike – one of those wildly active types you know – and we got caught up on all our news. She’s always just one step ahead of me and although I’m glad for her I have to admit that I’m envious as well.

With the good weather the shore captain had been hurrying to get home and enjoy some of the sunshine and had one of his employees put a large wharf box of used salt on the back of the truck so he could spread it around his lobster traps as the weeds are growing up through them. Apparently it wasn’t tied down, or so he found out when he took a corner about 2 km from home and heard a loud bang. He was just shoveling the last of the stuff back into tote pans when two fishermen who sell to him came along and helped get the box back on the truck. Hurrying was not the answer and thankfully there was no one following him or the outcome could’ve been bad.

Mister did manage to do some work on his ‘sneak boat’ in between chasing boats. How to describe it? Well, think homemade fiberglass kayak and you’re not far off. So the plan was that I hold onto the metal loop on the outside while the shipwright crawled inside and up forward to tighten the fittings. Well, you couldn’t pay anyone enough to do these maneuvers. As he was grunting and wiggling his way towards the front I asked if he had confined space training and then told him if I had to call 911 and the medical first responders arrived that would make a good photo for the newspaper. His only concern was that I instruct them to haul him out by the feet and not cut the boat. When he discovered he needed a longer handle on his wrench his ruddy face appeared after he backed out to locate one in the barn. A labour of love which thankfully was successful.

Speaking of successful enterprises - this morning with less than 30 minutes of effort the feline hunter in the grey tuxedo managed to bag a large, really large mouse and offer it to me on the doorsteps as I headed out to work. Stop, find the gloves, throw the carcass by the tail into the tall grass, try to avoid the really ticked off over the shoulder look from himself as he waddled into the house with a long sigh. Guess that was because him and his two buddies had been resting up most of the weekend - quite a bedroom full of cats eh?

Work has been rather….intense lately and certainly could be described as unfun! Not going to get myself ruminating on that situation as I head off to bed. But when a work colleague who had hosted the last meeting at her house emailed to say she had a ‘lethal weapon’ as I’d left my Grohmann ($2 yard sale bread knife) which belonged to me I advised her it was best out of my hands with the way things were going. Got to kick those retirement plans into higher gear.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tie rods and more

Well my day went just swimmingly considering that I had the car in for a routine servicing and got a call about noon time advising that I needed two tie rod ends with a total cost of $370. And that was one of the better things that happened to me. However, I was slightly amused by the hand sanitizer salesman (and yes, they are doing a bang up business with all the pandemic surge planning) who responded to my request for extra containers of the stuff by telling me that he had it in his basement and would mail it out. When I commented he was prepared for what was heading towards us he agreed saying that some folks had wine cellars and he had more mundane but practical stuff. At what would’ve been lunchtime for others I checked on our electronic bulletin board and found a posting for a dog carrier which my neighbour wants to fly her obese black lab back to BC. My quest however was unsuccessful as she requires an extra large not a large we discovered.

Well, actually the best thing was finding some strange pieces of pipe on the side of the road when I walked the dog this evening because….they were in the spot where the survey line runs to the wireless internet tower. Yeehaw! They are actually going to do this. Not in time though for me to do my presentations, which I should be doing at the moment. This was the temptation in my email this p.m. though:

Legend of the Seas Oct.11 - 23 Roundtrip Civitavecchia, Italy
Italy & Croatia - 12 nights
11-Oct Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 6:00 PM
12-Oct Portofino, Italy 7:00 AM 5:00 PM Tendered
13-Oct Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy 7:00 AM Docked
14-Oct Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy 7:00 PM Docked
15-Oct Cruising
16-Oct Messina (Sicily), Italy 8:00 AM 6:00 PM Docked
17-Oct Cruising
18-Oct Venice, Italy 8:30 AM Docked
19-Oct Venice, Italy 2:00 PM Docked
20-Oct Dubrovnik, Croatia 9:00 AM 5:00 PM Docked
21-Oct Cruising
22-Oct Naples, Capri, Italy 7:00 AM 6:00 PM Docked
23-Oct Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 5:00 AM

Oh, why oh why didn’t I hold out for the last minute goodies like I threatened eh? Well, I certainly can’t complain about my travel partner as she’s stepped up to the plate and found us a hotel for $41/night. We had spent the noon hour on Wednesday looking for accommodation and were discouraged by either the price ($250 min) the location (too far away to walk where we’d like) or the reviews (murder, cockroaches, filthy). So I left the research with my retired with highspeed internet partner and voila….she checked with frequent travelers who told her to stay in NJ where we’re flying out and take a cab over and back and thus the reasonable price. I’m not pleased about the leaves beginning to turn colors but I am looking forward to a fall cruise.