Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Travel reviews

The shore captain was attending his 'schmoozefest' as I began this as the conclusion to fishery related meetings he'd been attending all day. We're in the city and staying at the Prince George which is a fairly upscale place to lay your head. We lost the window of opportunity for taking in the movie as I had suggested The Kings Speech which is playing at Park Lane and although he professed interest....he left for the cocktail hour without a watch or cell phone to tell the time and arrived back too late to make the show. I elicted the promise that the next time one of our daughters tries to infer the reason "we" are late is me that instead of grinning foolishly and agreeing he will step up to the plate and for once take responsibility for his inability to make a deadline. So we ventured out to Durty Nellys which is an Irish pub for a pint and a bite and it wasn't too bad:
but I think I enjoy The Old Triangle better.

Last evening however we had a great gastronomic experience as we met up with the city daughter and son-in-law and had supper at a Koren BBQ spot called e-pin whish was delicious. Here is the review from The Coast:

brown rice tea / black sesame ice crean
 It's kind of like a fondue or rather raclette where you cook your food which involved all manner of vegetables, meats, seafood and grilled meats on a grill set in the middle of the table, plus a great assortment of sides. We had brown rice tea and I had black sesame ice cream for dessert which looked weird but tasted great. Highly recommended eatery. We were able to make our way up over the hill as the snow fell without worrying about driving as we usually do in our rural lifestyle.

This morning after a breakfast of pineapple pancakes (devine) and ham mister headed off to the conference room and within a few minutes I got a frantic phone call from the plant secretary on my phone telling me that the cleaning lady had found the door to our house wide open this morning when she arrived to work her magic. I phoned the house and spoke to her ascertaining the cats were still inside (it necessitated me describing the location of the kitty treats) that it was only 54 degrees F so she should get her extra sweater from the car as it was going to take a while to heat up and I was very grateful that she had been scheduled to come this morning or we might have had frozen pipes with the recent temperatures.  Needless to say both of the men in my life have denied going out through the front door but I clearly recall the shore captain exiting with the luggage as we left.

Following this I read the paper, ambled over to the mall and found extremely good bargains on two tops and a shrug for formal night on the cruise all for only $24 so a very good sale. Always need to check out different Dollaramas and was not disappointed. A stop at the drugstore for biodegradeable sunscreen as I read online this is required for several snorkeling sites in Mexico. It appears we'll be buying it there if so as in Canada all the lotions included chemicals on the forbidden for biodegradeable label. I window shopped at the bookstore but it's difficult to make yourself buy a paper copy when you have an e-book reader. I stopped at a place in the food court and got a banana/pineapple/mango smoothie and a panini of black forest ham and swiss cheese panini on whole grain ciabatta. Yum. Back to the hotel to do a few laps of the pool and soak in the hot tub, both of which I had completely to myself.  So, all in all a great 'me day'.

Although nasty weather is prediced tonight, tomorrow a friend is heading over to meet for lunch and after the meetings wrap here the travel partner and myself and the daughter and son-in-law are snorkel gear shopping. So another good day off. There is discussion that we shall be driving a new to her vehicle home which the baby daughter recently purchased here in the city but some confusion re: license plate etc.

I should be making my way home tomorrow as the 'real world' is threatening to intrude as I have gotten several emails about the online Emergency Nursing Program I am beginning shortly. The parcel at the post office is likely my special headset for the Elluminate orientation session. It all promises to eat up the few minutes of time I have.

Ah, if I were retired I'd only be concerned about which travel sites I was reading, such as these two:

I particularly liked the piece about Trip Advisor as I've just recently been researching places to stay in Fort Lauderdale. The final decision is that we should be able to stay for about $80 per night with breakfast and a shuttle to airport and cruiseport which will leave some funds for looking at alligators.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happiness is

I was listening this week to a CBC program - Q with Gian Ghomeshi actually where he was interviewing Gretchen Rubin about 'The Happiness Project' and it sounded interesting:
The author was previously lawyer and several years ago was doing some deep thinking on a city bus about what really made her happy. Kind of an interesting approach it seems. Happiness at this point would be my own bed on this cold night.

At 1:20 a.m. as I sit here drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea and eating a chocolate chip cookie which I brought with me I have just triaged two folks who have 1) rash and 2) vomiting x 2 hours. I cannot imagine that either of those two situations would prompt me to visit an Emergency Room and wake a physician but....

As I await the physician's requests I am busying myself with research on Everglades tours as this is something that has been on my bucket list since I used to watch the TV show in the 60s called .... Everglades what else? Here are a couple of possibilities which I shall have to run by the travel partner of course:
Neither of which interested the Doc on call who said "what if the airboat broke down and the alligators ate you?" I explained that the alligators are the ones eaten as the appetizer for lunch was gator nuggets and the souvenir is a gator tooth which doesn't sound very eco friendly to me but what do I know eh? I've eaten alligator before (tastes like chicken) at a hotel in Halifax which fancies itself a boutique/exotic place with buffalo steak appetizers etc. But I digress.

There is a water taxi in this 'venice of America' with all it's canals and 22 block waterfront walkway as well as a  and Las Olas Boulevard sure sounds like a place to find a bite to eat. One of the eateries which seems to have great reviews is Noodles Panini which has a very interesting history on its website:
And then of course there are the beaches and...the snorkeling. Choices, choices.

So, after the search for a reasonably priced hotel - which seems doable - it's all just in the anticipation. The shore captain's aunt has cruised with Holland America before and she says the Dam ships are 5 star. Ahh. Had an email from a previous travel buddy who says they are leaving on a cruise shortly which will sail from Baltimore and stop for two days in the Bahamas. The wind chill is predicted to make the temperatures -13 today so March can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two count em two vacations

Ah the comfy chair and the remote
Finally time to catch up on the blog and I'm into my fourth day off so you know that I've been a busy little blogger if that's the case as I sure haven't extended myself doing housework! Neither has Gary as you can see here on the left he has really been enjoying the recliner rocker which the kids gave the shore captain for Christmas. It was a great idea of course for humans and the fur children although it's mostly Gary and occasionally Keely who take advantage of this piece of furniture. And of course there is no one getting in the way when the man of the house heads towards the man cave with snacks in hand.

Sunday morning was a nap and when I awoke from my slumber the shore captain appeared home and suggested that we needed to go to a little village about 90 minutes drive away to look at a boat. As you might imagine that wasn't exactly what I had on MY agenda. The drive (in his new 4 wheel drive truck) was pleasant, the wind was bitterly cold on the wharf and the vessel looked like many others I'd seen over the years, then we headed into the nearby town afterwards for some 'okay' Chinese food. 

By the time I got settled at the computer that evening to book the Bahamas vacation (of the previous post) which we had agreed would be was gone! And there were no flights for that date to either Nassau or Great Exuma. I was not a happy camper as I crossed that possibility off my trip list.

Monday morning I was up bright and early to head out on our girls road trip. First stop was to drop donated medical supplies with the owner of a building supplies store who is going to Haiti on a mission next month. A second stop at Zellers to take in the post holiday sales and my friend found a great comforter and got her watch battery replaced - I picked up a great collapsible bowl and a bra (always a depressing activity to bra shop) and was thankful that I didn't hurt myself trying on a tank top which was supposed to 'control' a la spanx. I did manage to extricate myself without calling for assistance but I could have been seriously hurt! Third shop was Staples and I purchased a webcam which I am pleased to report has been used this very evening to skype all three daughters one at a time. With our errands out of the way we got serious about the shopping.

Fabulous and Fifty it should read
Had great success at the first Guy's Frenchy's across from the airport in Yarmouth and loaded up the trunk. Scored well at the St. Bernard's store up the line and then finished off in Digby. I spent about $120 in total and would estimate that my haul was worth well over $700 as I picked up a snorkel bag, suitcase, bag for work that said Fabulous Fifties (and we are children of that decade) which I've included a photo of here to the right, jeans, capris, sweaters, blouses, t-shirts, pajamas, socks, tights, sets of sheets, napkins, mugs (you can find them for any occasion there as my friend noted) and two large plastic margarita glasses for the summer. And most importantly we had a LOT of laughs, releasing so many endorphins we are covered for quite a bit of stress now.

We enjoyed lunch at a little restaurant in Meteghan River called Around the Bend which I have persisted in calling On the Edge....but I guess in my world they're not far apart as I usually describe myself as "living with a man living on the edge" when it comes to the lobster industry. Although there was no evidence that Jimmy Buffett had visited - he should have! The lunch of homemade roll, scallops, baked potatoes, real (not frozen) carrots, homemade tartar sauce and coleslaw left no room for dessert. And that was truly unfortunate as there was butterscotch pie! We didn't even have any supper though, just a cup of tea before heading home with the chocolate covered almonds my friend bought to support a charity of course and we were still that full. My travel partner calls her husband and says "we're just leaving Digby now" and he says "you're still in Digby?" which is about a two hour drive and this was about 6 p.m. A good day was had by all.

As I dragged my treasures into the house I found the shore captain fighting about lobsters on the phone and the boy captain who had been out hauling traps all day just home and sick with a fever and cough. I settled them both and called my friend who had her mother's funeral that day. Sure wish I could've been closer to give her a hug. She had her boys all home though and that had helped with a tough day.

Tuesday was spent being a commercial laundry. You don't bring home bags of clothes like that to be washed unless you're a student saving them up! I used a half a box of Tide and most of the morning getting my wardrobe sorted away. Managed to walk the dog, make some brown bread and get myself ready for scrapbooking in between all that. I'm still working on my cruise album from the fall of 2008 so falling sadly behind in the crafting arena.

This morning first thing I had a call from the staffing clerk at work advising me that....I had gotten a second lot of vacation approved from March 21 - April 6 after all. Woohoo! I promptly booked the Panama cruise mentioned in the previous post (March 23 - April 2 on Holland America's Zuierdam) without looking back and now have the travel agent on the hunt for decent airfare to Fort Lauderdale. We may even  take a couple of extra days in Florida before we make our way back.

Today was a run to town to have the car checked - oxygen sensor needing replacement - we'll see if the check engine light comes on again or not. If not, well may just ignore it..... Had a massage appointment which always puts me back in the land of the living and stopped at the second hand bookshop where I found a great book on Paul Farmer who has volunteered in Haiti for many years. I can't remember if I've read this one or not but at $3.15 (after my store credit) I'll keep it. A lady from town was in the shop and she was telling me that she has begun a multicultural group at the library and that there are 53 nationalities represented in our county. I was astounded as we're a pretty WASP area. Home for a dog walk and to get soup and biscuits on for supper.

There had been a wonderful 'deal of the day' from the travel agent today and I reassessed my list of possible destinations when I looked at this one for such a great price :
which is near Playa del Carmen on the Mayan Riviera. The shore captain will love to see Tulum I think and the snorkeling is top notch. March 2 - 9 will be spend in all-inclusive relaxation and yes all those specialty restaurants which require reservations are all included. So two great travel deals in one day which after we counted our pennies we think we can swing. Good thing as we're booked.  Yeehaw!

Well, enough of the news as it's past my bedtime and travel dreams await.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Days off here I come

It seems that 3:30 a.m. is as good a time as any for updating the blog. I'm in the homestretch of the third of three 12 hour night shifts which have on the whole not been too bad. I had the house to myself on Thursday during the day as the shore captain finally made his way out of the snowbelt and home to catch up at the plant. I put a pork roast on, made brown bread and caught up on the laundry as well as taking the dog for a walk in the brisk air.

We had a few minutes before I left for work to do some discussion about vacation plans with the decision being that Bahamas sounds like a nice alternative as we've never been there. If we can come up with something cheap enough we'll go for it on the already approved vacation the end of February. The shore captain promised to "check online tonight" but didn't come up with anything new and I emailed the travel agent who couldn't match my find either so after a bit of research I'm thinking that this one fits that criteria as there's a great sale on:

And speaking of traveling, I'm including links here to a travel blog:

A nice collection of blogs to read:

Now this one which brought tears of laughter to my eyes and reminded me of a few decades ago: 

Now the vacation planning continues and I've written a beseeching note to the manager asking if the second part of my vacation (as I wasn't able to have all of it when I requested) can be March 22 - April 2 as I've found a great cruise deal to the panama canal on Holland America :

As the shore captain said "but next year we're certainly going to Cuba" and of course I don't have a problem with that but there is only so much vacation to be had. As I wait it's necessary to amuse myself by filling my days off with small pleasures. On Monday my work buddy and I are heading on a Frenchy's run to Yarmouth, Saint Bernard, and Digby and the only decision needing to be made is where to eat lunch. Ah small pleasures.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tooth fairy gem

Well I began this as I sat in the middle of a winter white out which would be the only chance I would have on a day shift to catch up the blog. There was a major run of sick folks this morning before the weather hit followed by a blizzard which only a very few hardy souls braved.

Good thing it was a slow day as I spent over an hour in the pursuit of a couple of my textbooks for the Emergency Nursing Program that I'm enrolled in. You will understand that the bureaucracy has reached its zenith when I explain how I have to order my books. I contacted the librarian at the school of nursing (originally hoping to borrow them) who orders textbooks and she assured me that a 40% discount would be the difference from the university bookstore. She sends along a form for me to complete which has sections for my manager's approval etc. so I email back that I'm not being funded and since I'm spending my own money can I give her my visa number? The reply is.....wait for it.....I must have my manager's approval to spend my own money and pay the business office the amount when they arrive. This results in me emailing both my manager and the business office clerk and then the manager again for her 'cost center number'. As I told the manager "this is a great way to pay off my visa because anytime I want to spend my own money on anything I'll just call you up and see if you will give me permission to do it!" Someone should write a book on this kind of organizing - no wonder our healthcare system is in a state.

Most of the non nursing staff left early this afternoon "like rats deserting the ship" my co-worker noted. The main concern of anyone working a 12 hour day shift is whether the night shift will be making it in to replace them and that mission was accomplished. Since I don't have to work until tomorrow night I was determined to make it home. 

The shore captain and the Executive Director from their fishing association have been in the city for a couple of days of meetings and this evening I elicited a promise of staying over if it wasn't doable. The animals will manage on their own I told him. I've also had the teacher daughter call him to advise them to stay put as she says it's "terrible" in metro.The highway webcams looked awful and apparently the driving conditions were worse so they bunked in at the Future Inn and will give it a try in the morning.

The cleaning lady was in this morning and so I'd asked the shore captain to put the Christmas tree (which I'd undecorated) outside before he left on Monday p.m. Can you believe that he managed to do that without putting on his shoes? Just opened the front door and gave it a shove - which made it a little tricky to get the groceries into the house yesterday of course.

Yes, yesterday was one of those errand running on the day off kind of days. Meaning I paid bills, had snow tires installed on the car, picked up my police check for volunteering with the Red Cross and applied for another one to do my clinical for the Emergency Nursing Program, grocery shopped and along the way had my massage and esthetic appointments. Fed the boy and I brushetta and chicken wings for supper (yes his face is healing nicely - more on that later) and he was off. I spent the evening applying for my next travel assignment which shall be a surprise until I am successful.

During this set of days off I did manage to watch the movie MILK, which I really enjoyed  and I'm now reading Adrienne Clarkson's autobiography so that took the place of any impulse to do housework.

The boy captain has finally completed the saga of the tooth which has been going on for some time. He's had pain in his molars which I've blamed on cavities (which he didn't have) but it seems that the wisdom tooth had grown underneath the molars and the tooth had cracked off. When there was a cancellation on Monday he got in and had the wisdom tooth extracted. Amazingly it came out in one piece considering it had very long crooked roots and no top. When he shows me the tooth (should be worth at least 10 bucks if there really is a tooth fairy) I almost fell over. So he takes his trophy with him to the plant and one of the fishermen says to him "no wonder you can't get any women boy lugging that thing around in your pocket!"

Anyhoo, time to hit the mattress as I am planning on snoozing until late tomorrow - no worries about if the plow has been through yet at 6 a.m.. Yeehaw!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Travel planning

 The baby daughter woke me up on Sunday morning to announce she was heading back to Fredericton as classes beging this week and she had to return to work so I sprang out of bed to say goodbye but that was as active as I got for the day. A very quiet day spent as the cold which the shore captain has had for the past few weeks has come to stay with me now. I spent the afternoon on the sofa with lemon/honey/hot water and my e-book reader as I finished up Water for Elelphants by Sara Gruen which is an excellent but tough read as it's about the circus in the depression years. I've finally made it through the last book which I'd downloaded onto mister's Kobo now. Welll.....I may 'borrow' it to read the latest Bill Bryson book entitled At Home which I downloaded for $5 and to think that it's still only in hardcover for $40.

Actually classes began for the western daughter this week at Red Deer College as well as her sister in NB and she called to share some 'first days at school' stories with us which brightened our day. Sure there'll be more as she's definitely in the minority gender to be studying as an apprentice electrician but she always was ahead of the pack as well as good with math which is a real asset. Lots of work in the trades out west for sure.

The teacher daughter got a Sony e-book reader for Christmas and her husband has already figured out how to download (pirate) the Stieg Larsson triliogy for her. I remembered my dragging the borrowed large hardcover version across country last fall when she told me this. She was collecting up classics and others and very pleased with her gift as she plans to use it on their cruise next month. So speaking of packing here is a website to help with that:

or alternatively and you can select the area you are heading to:

And while we're on the topic of vacations, how about instructions on how to make the most of the trip:

As if I need any help with that I'm thinking. Actually I've been doing a bit of surfing and have come up with a company which does tours - not sure if anyone has heard of them - would appreciate feedback if you have as anyone can make themselves look good online:

My vacation was approved for February 27 - March 12 which is two weeks instead of three and not within the time frame I asked because my co-workers with seniority didn't want to be randomly assigned vacation. When I asked whether asking early trumped seniority I managed to score the promise of 'another week the end of March' for the noise I was making as I had followed the collective agreement requirement of requesting before the quarter. And since my cold is slow to leave I am thinking of the vacation to just keep putting one foot ahead of the other.

To begin with as I was contemplating calling in sick for work on Tuesday - and this is a pretty rare event for me so takes some contemplating....I got a call from work telling me that I was being ordered in for the night shift. Well, actually it took a while as it sure didn't sound like me who had answered the phone so I escaped the mandatory shift but promised to try to make it in the morning. Apparently every time the phone rang during the night the question was "that wasn't her calling in sick was it?". As it turns out I should have gotten up and come to work at 2:30 a.m. when I sprung wide awake with my mind racing from some kind of a reaction to the Buckley's cold & sinus liquid gel caps the shore captain doctored himself with and brought home to me.The daytime ones were no problem but the extra ingredient in the night time (blue) caps (doxylamine succinate) in case your wondering,  and I've sure written that down was the offending ingredient. It apparently rarely causes something called 'excitement' which includes irregular heartbeat, insomnia, nightmares, restlessness etc. Not something I want to repeat or not something I'd call being excited. As I told the gang at work it's not often that you find me turning down a night shift for a day so I must've been pretty ill.

At any rate the cold is slowing easing and likely because I haven't had much time to think about it. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were frantic days at work. Today on my in between day I thought about taking down the Christmas tree and house decorations but decided to pace myself as they didn't get put up until December 22nd so are just getting aired out now, I like red and green as an accent and besides it was a beautiful sunny day so I should walk the dog instead. And that turned out to be a much better use of my time. I also did laundry, made brown bread, potato chocolate cake, and chili with herb bread for supper which was a hit with both of the men in the house so I didn't want to overdue things. The time for work departure approaches quickly in the afternoon.

In keeping with the resolution to spend a girls day at least once a month my friend and I are planning a Frenchy's run (weather permitting) to take in the French Shore and lunch at Chez Christofe - memo to self to ask the teacher daughter if they are open in the winter months - I am betting Jimmy Buffett hasn't been there so it won't set my lunch off the same way. Off to check on the troops upstairs. Hasta

Saturday, January 1, 2011

So this was Christmas

Noticing the blog hasn't been updated since before Christmas I've been reminded by the visiting daughters that it is time to fill the loyal blog readers in on all the shenanigans here. Finished up the final night shift on the 22nd and slept until noon when the cleaning lady arrived so I headed out for a massage and final errands. Wrapping, baking and decorating the house occupied my time until two of the three 'away' daughters arrived on December 23rd.

The tree was brought home just in time for the teacher daughter to decorate it on the 23rd and we all managed to make the extended family supper on Christmas Eve, then the ritual visit to a former babysitter and her sister by one of the girls. Up to open the gifts and Skype the western daughter so it seemed as if she was with us - we all agreed this was the best part of the day - we are looking forward to seeing her and her guy in February for a quick weekend visit. Wonderful gifts and not a dud amongst them. Enough cooking equipment and cookbooks that there should be lots of wonderful meals in the coming year. The shore captain was particularly pleased with his recliner/rocker and only climbed out of it to eat and go to the bathroom for the remainder of the day. Turkey in the oven early as the girls and partners had to head out to eat another Christmas dinner and the boy had a bad tooth so ended up going to ER to get some naprosyn. An early night after all that excitement.

On Boxing Day the men headed back to work either catching or buying lobsters. Poor Keely she was almost the subject of a medication error as I've been giving her omega 3 capsules for her back but found what I thought was a couple of extra capsules on the counter which the teacher daughter noticed didn't look right (she doesn't need to wear glasses and not have them on as the medication administrator does) as it was a Buckleys capsule which the shore captain had left there. Not sure what the effect would be on a 10 year old NS Duck Toller but considering dogs aren't supposed to eat chocolate and she's consumed her weight in it, likely not much. The nurse to be daughter and myself headed over to my sisters to see my great nephew who is really a cutie at four months and was giving the Jolly Jumper a real workout and his sister who were visiting with their parents. The teacher daughter and her husband did their other Christmases and headed back to the city.

Work for the 27 and 28 were two very long days as the census was down with bed closures so the time didn't go by very quickly. Nice to have that reprieve though as it's been several years since we've seen numbers that low. I wasn't ready to return to work after my five days off but are you ever?
We waded through mounds of laundry here from two daughters but at least the first one didn't take a week to do her six loads of it. The ultimatum was issued and at 11 p.m. on my last day off the final load was out of the dryer and packed in the car. She would definitely not qualify as a flash packer which if you're wondering what that is - here is a link:

Speaking of traveling...the teacher daughter spent an evening while she was home reviewing our Caribbean cruise trip photos and my presentation on Aruba and Bonaire as well as the journal so she is getting pumped for February and looking forward to snorkeling. Ahhh, not a bad thing to be doing with the white stuff and cold temperatures around here. At least I'm not working on the water like the lad I pack the lunch for to take at 4 a.m.

Another set of storms have meant not too many days on the water for the lobster boy but at least he hasn't lost any traps and so he's done well in relation to others locally. The catches offshore have remained high enough to continue going when the weather allows. We enjoyed crustaceans over the holidays in various forms including last night on New Years Eve.

The shore captain 'saved a mess' and we enjoyed them with friends. Nice to have a friend hosting a New Years supper so I could just arrive in style! Slightly more than three hours of sleep would have been better but what can you do when you are booked to work New Years and get home at 1:30 a.m. after a great evening? Lots of resolutions - one of the main ones that my friend and I are going to do a regularly scheduled day trip at least once a month. Will be good to crash tonight and have a couple of days off before heading back to the regular schedule.