Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caribbean Princess

What? I haven't updated the blog in over 10 days what is going on? begin with I did teach the first aid course to 16 fishermen/fire department volunteers and since I was coming down sick with a cold managed to lose my voice and really feel rotten. This resulted in my calling in sick for a shift which quite alarmed my co-workers as it had been over four years since I'd done that. I had no choice as I would've crashed further into the set of shifts if not.

We traveled to the city and had a private viewing of the house which the teacher daughter and son-in-law have since bought. It's a good sized split entry which has been extensively renovated, has a nice deck and backyard in a good location with the closing date the end of March. Will post some pictures when it's all finalized. Needless to say they are pumped!

Caribbean Princess 7 day itinerary
Movies Under the Stars ahhhhh
But mind you, first they have to return from their cruise which they are currently enjoying. They flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico on Saturday and sailed away on Sunday. We've been following the bridge cam along since they left, checking out the weather in San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica.

Sure making us look forward to the end of March as well. I am into the countdown for the first vacation - oh that sounds so good to say the 'first' vacation. Ah! I only have five shifts to work until I'm off for two weeks. Then I have one set to work before being off for another three weeks. The pace has been two notches above frantic lately so some downtime maintenance is in order. Ah, March is my favorite month this year.

Well...except for the course I'm slogging through - which I'm putting off doing at this moment by blogging. First I can't make the travel medicine course I wanted to attend in Boston (due to the first exam) and then the travel agent found a great seat sale for $475 taxes in for those dates - of course! I had a long phone chat on the weekend with my OHN colleague and she said "never mind, it's in Amsterdam next year" and as I told her "the only problem with that plan is that the shore captain will most definitely be inviting himself along to that location". We discussed the course in Peru and she's only ready to attend in 2013 as she still has a high school attending daughter home but as I told her "I'm thinking it's a real long shot from here" It's likely one of those programs you have to apply for repeatedly.

Had a good weekend off actually as we invited friends over for lobsters on Friday night and it was so nice to get together that I didn't even mind cleaning up a bit. One of our guests made bread, one made dessert and we just caught up on the news. Sunday was a price fixee menu at Lothars Cafe for Valentines Day which was wonderful! I had to make a hasty exit as I headed out to work a night shift but it was worth it. Have to make the time, no other way around it. 

I slept today when I came home from night shift and had a very confused conversation about 10 a.m. with a neighbour who asked if I could give he and his wife their second Twinrix immunizations which they had in their fridge. Not a problem to do so except today wasn't a good day I kept repeating as he tried to convince me that they'd drop down. Even in my 'just fell into a deep sleep state' I realized this wasn't a good idea as they cleaning lady hasn't been here for two weeks! Finally I became so incoherent that he asked "were you sleeping?" to which I replied "yep but I'll go right back to sleep" which I promptly did. When I woke up in the afternoon I was having trouble remembering if the call happened or was a dream so I checked the phone and their number was there. I called the house to sort out a time and their preschooler answered and very brightly chirped "hello" when I said "is your Daddy there?" he said "nope, he's outside" and promptly hung up the phone. A while later we finally connected and I'll make a house call tomorrow - much easier than housecleaning. Although I did a bit of that when I woke up as it requires very little thought so why waste a day when you're awake for that eh?

Tonight as I headed out of the house to go to scrapbooking one of the local fishermen pulled into the yard in a car to pick up a cheque but since I was heading back to retrieve my glasses I thought he was the prodigal son as he was tall and thin and I called out (concerned something had happened to the boy's truck) "what are you driving?" His surprised reply was "a PT Cruiser" as I suppose he wondered why he was being interviewed about his vehicle before being allowed to approach the house. As he got closer I realized that he wasn't my offspring and scampered off leaving the shore captain to explain my brain lapse. I'm still toiling on my small album from the 2008 New England/Maritimes cruise. I'm spurred on by the fact that my travel partner has completed hers. Since my mind was a bit foggy I spent some time correcting a few mistakes of course. It is coming together and I'm just finishing up Boston pages so there is hope of it being completed.

Have plans for Saturday to head to the valley for a Disaster Team course which the Red Cross is sponsoring. Another star on my resume for overseas work. It will also exempt me from volunteering at Bingo. Life is good.

Friday, February 4, 2011

All the fun there is to have

Hard to believe that it’s been a week since I updated this blog but we’re back from the city yet again before I get this posted.

On Thursday after a nice breakfast buffet the shore captain headed off for his final day of meetings and I read the newspaper, packed up the room and waited for my friend to drop by to pick me up. We had a wonderful leisurely lunch at Il Mercato which you can check out here:
on Spring Garden Road where we enjoyed wonderful meals topped off with great desserts. The desserts because I wasn’t going to get any supper as we were driving home and she had been left on her own as her husband was traveling to Fredericton for work. We caught up on all the news as we never get to visit with just the two of us. Amongst other things we decided that we’re too old to do things we don’t enjoy doing anymore. And then she shared the information that she was…..retiring in a couple of weeks. Now the fact that she’s only a year older than me was a bit depressing. We finally headed out to wander the shops a bit and I finally bought a pair of warm, waterproof boats which I’ve been looking for since the beginning of the season. I also found a couple of pairs of microfiber underwear on sale which the saleslady tried to market to us as “no panty line” which didn’t really catch my friend’s or my attention but when she said “the stay where they are when you put them on” now that interested us. They will be good for traveling too, and they’re a lot cheaper than Tilley underwear - well anything Tilley is usually expensive anyway. My friend dropped me back at the hotel where the travel partner was waiting and we headed over to pick up the daughter and son-in-law to get our snorkel equipment. We arranged to pick up the youngest daughter’s recently purchased vehicle and made our way home on snowy roads. I was allowed to drive the 4 wheel drive truck and was pleased with the hands-free phone and various other features. Not quite as impressed with the coaching from the ‘behind the truck driver’ who phoned to tell me that I was driving too fast and where was the fire, it was a wonder that smoke wasn’t flying out of the back and I should slow down to 40 km/hr and take it out of 4 wheel drive. This was likely due to the fact that I was driving the 4wheel drive and he was in a Honda Civic.

Friday was a day to run errands. Well that is after I spent over an hour attempting to get a hotel room in Moncton area for July 30th which was the worst kept secret of when U2 was to announce their concert on Magnetic Hill. Apparently I wasn’t the first to try as there was nothing under $380 for a Holiday Inn Express room which I absolutely refuse to pay for an $85 room! Took the car to town to get groceries, shop at Frenchy’s and proved that I still remember how to drive a standard. Have my plans when the car finally dies that I will have a standard car again. The afternoon, after taking the dog for a brisk walk, was filled with baking chicken and a lemon pie and finishing up the ever ongoing laundry.

Saturday and Sunday were two long days and boy were they long! By way of example of the shenanigans I answered a phone call from a family member who wanted to know why the nurses weren’t answering her grandmother’s call bell as she had phoned them at home to report this. Upon investigation I discovered the buzzer was partially out of the wall (am surprised this isn't engineered to alarm) and so I plugged it back in but she refused to believe it was fixed and rang it constantly to prove it as I shut it off so I had to have the maintenance man come up and pretend to use pliers on it. The youngest daughter and her boyfriend dropped by for supper on Saturday night so we enjoyed creamed lobsters and lemon meringue pie with her brother making it in about 9 p.m. from lobstering and finishing up as well. Sunday, was a very late home coming as we waited over an hour for a coworker. With the few waking moments I had I spent a bit of time figuring out my headphones for the orientation session to the course I’m taking before hitting the sack.

Monday morning I set the alarm, which immediately started my day off badly as I had to work a LN and usually try to sleep in. The Elluminate orientation session was listed as three separate times in the three documents I had received so I got up early just in case. Better than Tuesday the 31st which was the info on my letter and as I told the assistant “it’s one or the other and if it’s Tuesday I have to try to get a shift off. Although one of the sections was on professionalism I tallied up the deficiencies and noted that in our packages there was the wrong calendar, wrong powerpoint presentation being broadcast, no PLAR (which stands for prior learning assessment record) in my package but apparently in other students as one of my classmates attempted to help me out by typing this in, and very unclear instructions about the upcoming session. Turns out that since I've done the workshop last June (this one is being offered in four sessions online) I have credit but just have to send in my certificate - absolutely no instructions on this in the directions etc. etc. Looking like this is going to be a loooonnnnngggg year. I was so frustrated when I got off the session that I did housework (can you believe that?) to distract myself.

I did manage to fit in a dog walk in the very frigid conditions which looked lovely as the sun warmed the living room, but were extremely deceptive. And I comforted myself with a lunch of camembert and rosemary foccacia. When I got my nerve up again to approach the computer I discovered my friend from Argentina on Facebook and we had a short chat before her baby woke up to be fed. She was filling me in on the wonderful warm January they’ve been having and remember that in Mar del Plata this is their summer. Really got to get our act together and visit her before the kids are off to university. Last minute preparations and it was off to work. It was not one of my better night shifts, just saying. In fact one (note that I say one) of the paramedics who dropped off a shipment about 4 a.m. commented “wow, you’d think this was day shift with as busy as it is” and that might’ve been an understatement. Added to all the fun there was to have, we had two sick calls and replacing staff is nigh impossible with our shortages. Sigh.

Home to sleep the day away and when I awoke the beginning of the winter storm predicted had begun. Although I usually just need to make it to the main highway, the coworker/driver of the 4 wheel drive we meet had been approached by management to overnight in town so we traveled in ourselves. A call to the shore captain who arrived home slightly late (no surprise here) with the 4 wheel drive and I picked up two co-workers and we were off. Not a great drive but with the 4 wheel drive we arrived safely and my travel partners were pleased with the vehicle and its features of power side mirrors which fold in but not so impressed with the height for getting in – the shore captain has plans to transfer the running boards from the older model to this one and he'd best...or put a stepladder in the back for the ladies as in coaches of old. The 12 hours was relatively quiet due to driving conditions but it never fails to amaze me what some people will come out in for minor ailments which they’ve had for over a week and some of them bring children! The relative quiet did give me a chance to check out the course materials and discover that the travel medicine conference I’d been dreaming of attending in May is out as there is the second of three exams to be written that week. Sigh. The question of the shift was whether our replacements would make it in for the morning. Much celebrating when they did. The predictor of whether someone will make it in with iffy roads or illness is not actual conditions but….their age we decided when taking a poll - meaning the longer in the tooth takes more chances when coming to work and less when socializing. An attempt to start the truck with all the bells and whistles was not successful, even though my travel buddy (who HAS a remote car starter) had put the defrost on max and fan on high etc. Apparently this new vehicle requires that you press the lock button first (not the unlock button) so that no one can steal the running vehicle. Not one of the people with remote car starters had ever heard of that feature but my assistant had visibility access scraped out by the time I made it out. A not great drive home but it was lovely to see the shore captain plowing the driveway as he had also done the night before so I could get in.

And there are no better conditions to sleep in than snow, hail, wind, freezing rain and frigid temperatures. I was like the groundhog and didn’t crawl out until late in the afternoon. By the time we had supper of halibut cheeks, pasta and a glass of wine, life was looking pretty good. We checked around on the computer and since February is the NS Savour Food & Wine month found some restaurant listings with prixe fixee menus. Discovering a Portugese restaurant called Pipa Restaurant and Bar which we had not heard of but had walked by it seems I sourced an online reservation for 5 pm. so we could have a leisurely meal and head over to the Metro Center for the Heart concert. You can check out their website here:

Thursday morning was spent organizing the house and pets which meant I had to stomp along the dog’s run freeing the line from the frozen tundra, then pull up on the rope and throw the large ice chunks out of the way. I finally had to return to the house for a kettle of boiling water to extricate a section of the rope from the ice puddle it was trapped in. With the dog liberated I made her do a trial run to the dog house to ensure she had access. Whew, winter work out. The teacher daughter and son-in-law have been house hunting and have found a place they are interested in so the arrangements are under way to have a second look at it where we are invited along so those negotiations took the remaining time. 

Underway by noon time we were off to the city for overnight fun. A stop at Divers World to pick up the fins which had been back ordered and vacation dreaming is always therapeutic. In to check in at the Lord Nelson and off for supper which didn’t disappoint. The restaurant features a menu from Portugal and its (former) colonies and when you add in caipirinha and a pitcher of sangria to top off the great appetizer of empada, pork and clams for mains and wonderful desserts which we’d never heard of before it was certainly a place we’ll frequent again. The waiter was a student (of course) originally from St. Johns, Newfoundland whose father is Portugese and so he was very knowledgeable. He also knew several local students from our area including a son of a co-worker so it was one of those small world moments.

Looked like a sellout crowd in the end

A short trot over to the concert and it was amazing! That Ann Wilson has the greatest voice I have heard and to think we've been enjoying it since I graduated from nursing school 35 years ago! That band is still having fun and that was what made the concert great. The keyboardist looked like Red Fraggle from Fraggle Rock, little girl with fluffy pigtails and a LOT of talent. Carmen Townsend from Cape Breton (a girl with a guitar and smaller voice) who opened for Heart wasn’t bad either (what I could hear) as I found myself sitting next to a couple obviously on their first in-person/get-to-know-each-other e-harmony date and were conducting this venture at top volume but no one could top the main act with their great sound system, light show and energy. 
Rockin out to What About Love???
It sure was good to just have a short hoof back to the hotel as we were temporarily fans of the urban life where there is no driver required.

The drive home was spent as secretary to the shore captain as he dealt with lobsters being graded, sold and shipped and fish transferred as well as stopping to get his truck registered but he is not a big fan of the handsfree phone (mostly because OnStar doesn’t understand his accent and he is too impatient to wait to speak) and I refuse to let him access to his cell when he is driving as paying a fine for this could be described as real dumb!

So a stop for the first aid course equipment as I am doing a recert this weekend and next and hopefully a few minutes squeezed in over the next few days to work on my Emergency Nursing Program course before heading back to work again. Life in the fast lane. I also picked up the spanish books I'd lent to the retiring nurse who is in Mexico now for three months as she was using them last fall. Something I should be doing but...I'm not disciplined enough. I did receive notice that my application for the tropical medicine course in Peru had been received but there were a number of cautions in that were a bit discouraging as in... Two-thirds of the 2012 places were awarded the first week of January. The remaining places will be offered together at one time on April 6, 2010. We will attempt to contact you for 72 hours and then move down our list; We accept no more than one-half the class from any one country nor more than two-thirds from any one continent.  This may at times lead to non-availability of places for some highly-qualified candidates. So got to dig out my Law of Attraction book I think to make this work.

Always dreaming of vacation and the travel partner (who has been on his best behaviour lately) mentioned that he can't wait as it's only 27 days until we go on our first vacation (but he doesn't get excited) and I am seconding that motion. Not that I'm in the lineup for a medical tourism for gender reassignment trip but...