Friday, May 27, 2011

Birthday surprise!

The weekend has come around quickly again and with it a return to paid employment. Mind you that also requires arising at 5:15 a.m. Sigh

On Monday the birthday boy was surprised by.....the oldest daughter who had hopped a flight east from Alberta to help with the celebration. I was just as amazed when she pulled up in the rental car that afternoon after I had rubbed the day sleep from my eyes. We had a BBQ for supper finished off with an ice cream cake - doesn't get much better than that for an old guy!

On Tuesday as I was running last minute errands before heading out to the city to do my two 12 hr shifts for clinical.....the battery light came on in the car. I turned around and headed to the garage where the mechanic pronounced that my alternator was ailing and that "you need a new car you know". He has been babying it along and warning me that I should start looking for a replacement as this one will require "some work like brakes, body work and more to pass safety inspection next month" so this was not a good development. Instead of arranging for a rental - which was my first instinct - I called the shore captain who suggested that I drive the car home and take his truck to the city and he would get the car in to the shop for repairs when the alternator arrived from Montreal in two days. I headed out again for home and the battery light came on before I made it through town.

Dans Ice Cream Shop yumm!
We had lobsters for supper on our lobster plates and were joined by a long time friend of the oldest daughter since elementary school. Just like old times. Sorry I had to rush away but what can you do? I headed out on the road for a drizzly drive to the city as I transported the newly serviced lawn mower to the daughter with a lawn as we're past all that. Crashed for the night and up early to head over to the hospital with my driving directions in hand. I was not impressed to find the parking lot had very narrow lanes to get through the bar especially as I was driving such a large and new 4 x 4 truck.

I made my way through the Dartmouth General to the ICU and followed a staff member who kept looking at me like she knew me. When I was introduced after report she said "I used to work with you in 1988" and so we caught up on all the news. My preceptor was very kind and helpful which really made me feel at home. She has been working in intensive care units since she graduated from nursing school in Beijing in 1985 so was very knowledgeable. I struggled with her accent a bit as she told me that our patient was on the wentilator though. The staffing ratio and pace were very much to my liking with all breaks taken and a lot of autonomy. In the afternoon I was surprised to find my instructor come for a visit (she lives about 10 minutes away though so I shouldn't have been) and we discussed the course, exam etc. Apparently there were several questions which "didn't perform well" meaning in my opinion that they were poorly written which brought my total grade up to 80%. The suggestion was that I "might like that number better" but my only thought to that was 'it's only a number that you've decided on and it only means something to you' however I simply thanked her for the reassessment of grades.

After I made my way back from the hospital by retracing my morning route the daughter and I checked out the yard and garden -nice hostas and shrubs- and all that the previous owners had left from hoses to chiminea to a ladder. After supper I was treated to a photo tour of the west coast honeymoon of the daughter and son-in-law which was almost a year ago now. Hard to believe they're heading for their first anniversary in a few weeks. Somehow the travel alarm didn't go off and I overslept until 6:15 a.m. but still made it for report at 6:30 so I haven't lost my touch!

I felt much more comfortable in the ICU the second shift and my only 'situation' was when I attempted to print articles from the course (which the instructor had forwarded to allow us to work ahead as the strike is looming) which managed to crash the printer in the ICU and necessitated the ward clerk spend a long time on the phone with IT and then a dude in ball cap and brand name shirt arrived to reset it. I told them all that it was a sign of the negative karma associated with that course. I went directly home after the shift and it was very close to 3 hrs drive in total. Mental note to self to negotiate a reduction of the five (count em five) 12 hour shifts for next semester which I may get prior learning credit for as I work in Emerg - you bet I'll be looking for that! Mind you that included a stop at the farm market for rhubarb, apple/maple butter, tomatoes and a grizzly tracks frozen yogurt for the road. I found some time to catch up on the newspaper, email and sleep in that order.

Had a call from the daughter who had made her way out west despite delayed flights and a rush through Pearson airport to connect then circling for almost an hour in Calgary etc. Glad to hear she'd arrived safely and was headed in to her instrumentation course today. This runs for the next nine weeks as she's completed both levels of the electrical course and written her second provincial exam. Will be on the hunt for gainful employment come August.

Today I received a call from the mechanic telling me amongst other information that they had had to tow the car from Blanche where it had quit on Wednesday (a little detail the shore captain had neglected to share) and would likely have to replace the battery and that although they'd replaced the alternator it 'wasn't putting out like it was supposed to' and he was concerned that the problem 'might be the computer or the alternator was a bad part'. As you might guess the computer would cost $800 + labour to replace so not a decision I wanted to make on an ailing 2004 Sebring. However, when I called the salesman at the garage I felt as if I was betraying an old friend (as the car owes me nothing) when I asked him to look for a small, standard transmission vehicle. I didn't care about the make, model or color and since I am going to be 55 in a few months didn't want a really expensive one so it didn't have to be new but just as faithful as this one I was replacing. I did however, insist that this ride was going to be in my name as I explained to him that I had paid for a number of cars and vans over the years and they were all registered in the man of the house name but NOT this one. I assured him that women over 50 had a different 'take no prisoners' attitude and he quickly agreed telling me that his wife had turned 50 this year and he knew exactly what I meant.

Picture of determination
The weather has been abysmal here this spring, we are all so soggy we are likely moldy. The only bright spot of color is the pansy that was so determined it self spread and grew up through the crushed stone in the driveway. I have hesitated to purchase anything from the garden centers for fear of having to babysit them by bringing them inside at night as I would have to run the june bug gauntlet. Ick.

So tomorrow I'm back to my real job and hopefully able to carpool with someone as my wheels won't be available until Monday on my way to work. It turns out that the problem was a wire which had shorted out causing my alternator to melt and not the computer and the battery didn't need to be changed but a replacement is still being sought as this reprieve is likely short lived. The carefree days of no car payments are likely numbered.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Freedom 55

As I complete the last of my three 12 hour night shifts of this long weekend I am glad to have survived! Since this was the first weekend of the 'summer' season there were lots of beverage induced visits to the Emergency Department. My co-worker called it a 2-4 weekend. One of the hazards of working Emergency night weekend shifts. Mind you for at least seven of the hours of this very long night we are being paid holiday time.

Tomorrow is the shore captain's 55th birthday. So this means we'll be officially offered seniors discounts. He had shaved this p.m. before I was leaving for work so I asked if he had a meeting scheduled (usually it's a CFIA - food inspection agency inspection) for tomorrow? "No" he says "I was starting to feel scruffy even to myself". But I'm thinking it was the white face full of whiskers + birthday which brought that on. Not sure where the freedom 55 comes in though. This is the only day this week to forecast some possible sunshine. Sigh.

I have been recovering from the Emergency Nursing Course and focusing on getting in my clinical hours next week but I was disturbed by an email from one of the instructors notifying us that since they were in the nursing union (not us) which has voted to strike that our course may be affected. Apparently they will try to work ahead and get as many lessons online for us as possible, but clinical may need to have dates extended as we will not be crossing picket lines. I will be able to get my clinical in as I have chosen a hospital in 'our' union. There has been much discontent from our membership after cooperating with the province and taking raises of 1% and 1% for the two years - which doesn't keep up with the 3% inflation (we will renegotiate in October again) we have been hit with a $20/month parking fee with one of the reasons quoted as 'increase in salaries' This does not bode well for the next round of negotiations. Grrr.

In keeping with the travel theme of late - even if it's only dreaming I offer this link to two of my favorite activities...scrapbooking and travel:

As well as a link to a self proclaimed adventurer:

And saving the best for last - work vs travel. That would be a no brainer to answer eh? :

As for travels or vacation the farthest we are likely to wander this summer is to New Brunswick. We received confirmation of our reservation at the University of Moncton residence for the weekend when U2 is playing at Magnetic Hill. Think we could make a profit offering up 1/2 our space to those who are accomodation challenged. The baby daughter will likely be the most pleased as we had been promising (or threatening) to come stay with her if nothing opened up.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vacations are always too short, even if they are someone elses

Well, the friends from Saskatchewan have gone and we're missing them already. We had a wonderful less than 48 hour visit and hope the next time we see them it's not measured in years but rather months. They certainly arrived in style as they pulled up in a white Mercedes Benz. Apparently a Chev Impala had been reserved at the airport by the wife but she picked up the luggage and he the car so.... The weather wasn't particularly nice, it just continued on as it has this entire month of May. And to think they left warm sunny weather out west. Sigh.

Please, please can't I go too?
We had a great feed of stuffed lobsters the first evening and lots of catching up on the news so a late bedtime. Fortunately they had their wits about them and barricaded themselves in the spare room at night and so were able to get some sleep - you know how that goes when cats want to see what's inside a closed door eh? They made the rounds to visit during the day and the next evening we were invited to supper at mutual friends which was very much like the 'old days'. A great time was had by all. As they sorted themselves out to leave I showed them this photo of Gary who was attempting to accompany them or at least try their luggage on for size. They made their way to the city to overnight before heading westward ho today and will continue with some vacation time. Ahhh.

Larger than actual size
Opens to a watch
I took in a 'purse party' last night at one of the neighbours but.....buying my handbags at Frenchy's does not make me want to spend $75 on one purse! I did however pick up a cute watch ring that will do nicely for vacationing. I found one in sapphire, my birthstone, and with the expansion bracelet style it will fit even in warmer climes. Apparently contestants were wearing these on American Idol but that wasn't what sold it to me, it was the cute factor and.....the price. Of course this was supporting Asian sweatshops but sometimes you just have to suspend those rules. 

So now I am heading back to work for three LNs over this holiday weekend and of course sunshine is predicted for sleeping Sunday. Nothing left to do but dream/plan for vacations. So in that spirit I offer the following links:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Travel planning is part of the fun

As I was 'chatting' online with my buddy home from the great white north today he forwarded the following article about Iqaluit and bragged he knew all of the players profiled in Iqaluit – quirky Arctic frontier town
San Francisco Chronicle | May 15, 2011 | by Margo Pfeiff :

He heads back in June for another four months of northern life and is in the preliminary stages of planning to run away to Cambodia with a friend for November. Both of which sound much more appealing than finishing up that Emergency Nursing Course!

And of course, speaking of travel gets us thinking of the next vacation so I was somewhat heartened to see that the airfare for October had dropped about $100 since I last checked. We may be able to swing a 10 day escape somewhere warm after all. And of course Lonely Planet would like us to do just that so they are always tempting me with websites such as this:

I received an email from the Red Cross today stating that a TMR – trunk mobile radio course would be held this month and the presenter's agency is.....Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Public Safety and Field Communications. Wow, he must feel pretty important when he answers the phone eh? Always looking for courses to add to the resume as I market myself to volunteer perhaps for the ICRC.

And speaking of bureaucracies...the College of Registered Nurses of NS sent the following email today:

What you need to know before you renew your licence this year!
  1. The process will be totally ELECTRONIC – and totally convenient!
  2. Paper application forms will NOT be mailed out – pre-formatted application forms will be completed online.
  3. Paper licences will NOT be issued - proof of your licence status will be available at as soon as your renewal is complete  
Guess I will have to scrapbook my last 'paper' RN license but of course the $450.80 price tag will be the same if it's an electronic RN or not. 

Just had a call from friends who are 'home' visiting from Saskatchewan  and they will head over tomorrow afternoon. We are planning a crustacean supper which as you might expect will be a bit hit for Prairie folks. So despite the atrocious weather we've welcomed them with, it will be great to see them. And it is a wonderful excuse to have those day shifts off!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm not finished yet, leave me alone
What are you looking at anyway?
 Today when I headed up to the pick    the paper out of the tube at the end of  the driveway...Klyde 'asked' to go out  by screeching at the front door. Apparently the shore captain has been letting him out in the morning as he feeds the dog and puts Gary on his run, then he trots back to the door. If you forget him he yells loud enough you can hear him inside and rescue him. So I put him out to 'graze' and headed up the driveway and he was still mowing down when I returned. This is as close as he gets to being an outdoors cat.

Thinking of photos I'm including this link:

And of course should you be thinking of vacations (it's hard not to eh?) here is a link for vacation pics:

As well as vacation topics since the planning is on for a fall vacation with airfare going to be the part that is painful:

I enjoyed my day off today and really had very little to show for not being employed for pay. Those are the best kind of days off I think which include reading the paper, french toast for brunch, a dog walk, downloaded a travel guide to Morocco (it's on the bucket list) to my Kindle and catching up on the news/gossip online through email, Twitter (did you know it was 21c in Yellowknife today?) and Facebook. I'm a little lost (in an exceptionally good way) with no course to work on so spent the day playing. Since I'll have had six days off before I head back to work I best be accomplishing something. Friends arrive on Tuesday for a couple of days so it will be fun to play hostess and taking my two day shifts off is really a bonus as these shifts have been very unfun lately.                       

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nurses Week - be nice to us!

What? Another post so soon? I ended up coming home from work as soon as I got there - really shouldn't have gone but didn't realize until it was too late to do so that I had woken up with a back spasm. I'm sure it's related to the low pressure system which has been dumping us with rain, wind and fog for over a week now and causing 'my rheumatics' as the old people used to say to act up. I stopped on the way home at a friend's and borrowed the good drugs as that was better than waiting for the drugstore to open. Crashed for a nap and felt MUCH better when I was awakened by the shore captain provisioning himself with lunch. I called to the specialist to see where I am on the list (there is hope) and put myself on a cancellation list for the local physio either today or tomorrow where I've been exercising masochist tendencies by letting them do myofascial release on my back which as the Dr. stated "will fix this but you won't like it" that being an understatement! It is a great relief this evening to not have to stand like an orangutang. I am looking forward to tomorrow being a better day but if not here is the quote of the day sent by a long suffering friend:

Life is not the way it's supposed to be.. It's the way it is.

The way we cope with it is what makes the difference.

Now since I had more time on my hands today than anticipated what with no work and part one of the course completed (I gained one mark for my assignments so ended with a mark of 79% which if I were younger would have me saying that it's so close to an 80 but in reality is just a relief that it's over),  I was able to check out the travel sites and discovered this helpful link for those of us planning that around the world trip. Of the two styles listed suffice to say that the shore captain and myself are one of each and I WAS a Girl Guide so you can take it from there.

Of course travel can be related to this travel writer's site which is aptly named:

When I mentioned that the baby daughter usually arrived with a Honda Civic full of dirty clothes to be washed and I was thrilled that the teacher daughter had bought a house with washer and dryer...a friend mentioned that her daughter-in-law had discouraged her son from the car full of laundry arrival as she said "it makes us look like hobos" I am assuming the non professional variety, you know the ones with their clothes tied in a handkerchief on the end of a stick over the shoulder. 

Speaking of the youngest offspring who enjoys all things organizational and crafty I shall post a link which has her written all over it:

And to think her grandmother was an expert at repurposing eh?

After all the talk of a journey, we spent a few minutes looking over the possibility of a get away in the fall - which would have to be carefully organized in between exam, clinical and work. There are many possibilities and the dreaming is a large part of the fun.Airfare prices will be the challenge. The link here is for photography in foreign lands. Ahh to dream:

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. ~ Beverly Sills

And right now the shortcut is to bed. Night all. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yes, I passed the exam, now what?

Well, here I am post exam and finally getting a few moments at 11 p.m. to update the blog. Part of the late hour is that I'm just in from a union meeting.Attempted to bring the membership up to speed but that's hard to do when only five of them show up, considering we only schedule two meetings per year. As well three of us there are working in the morning, one worked today and one worked last night so where were all those union sistas who are quick to seek me out when they'd like me to fight a battle for them? Oh yeah, enjoying their days off - think I'll remind them of that when I'm next approached. Oh well, the lobster dip was good and it was a fine start to Nurses Week.

The exam today was absolutely brutal and I am amazed that I actually passed. The pass mark was 70% and I couldn't have predicted that I made it or not. It took over half an hour to get my exam sent to me this morning (apparently the instructor was troubleshooting for other students across the province in the same situation as me) and almost as long to figure out how to log back on and input the answers - it was like you needed the secret decoder ring to figure out the instructions. As I told the admin assistant who kindly proctored my exam "I don't do cryptoquotes so I have no idea how to figure this out" these folks put the fun in dysfunctional. When the mark was posted after a few minutes I was ecstatic to find a 78! By the time I got home and called my preceptor Shihua (pronounced Sheewah) and arranged to work two LDs and one LN with her in the city on my days off over the next few weeks, I had lost all enthusiasm for finishing up the final postings due for the semester. That is for another day. When I shared my mark with the life partner he looked kind of surprised and said "you usually do better than that" and so I thanked him for being his usual supportive self. When we discussed it further he says "well you weren't doing it in a classroom I guess" so I reviewed that I've done distance ed over the past 15 years from Alberta, Australia and Ontario, NONE of it in the classroom. Think this comes under the 'not really paying attention to the spouse category' myself.

The saddest part of the entire course, exam must be written today debacle was that I would be in Boston attending a tropical health conference this week if not torturing myself with this bunch. Had an email from the would have been travel mate who had been having quite a diverse day at work herself from billionaire to bum families. Also had another email from a friend who had just made it through her first Mothers Day after her mother passed away this winter and she wrote of her brother-in-law having cancer, a MVC while traveling for work for which she was still having physio and more. I promised her that we WOULD be getting together this summer even if the price of gas required me 'borrowing' the company gas card from the plant truck and making my way up to see her. Reminding me of the quote of the day:

 If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we'd all be millionaires. ~ Abigail Van Buren

Well, I've wound down enough from my day to be able to sleep now. As I am sleep deprived from my exam anxiety of last night I should soon be unconscious. As I am planning to run away this winter and for more than a vacation I'm thinking the following packing info may come in handy:

I am being heavily influenced by my buddy who is home visiting from Iqaluit who tells me that ER nurses there make more than he does and that's $50 per hour. He counsels that I should go with an agency as that way they will put the airline ticket in my hand and accommodation will be provided free. He is such a bad influence on me, telling me that there are five positions open there right now and some for a long time. We had a nice cup of tea and chocolate danish chat with him before my friend and I headed off to Frenchy's shop. I found a great pair of Faded Glory jeans that fit me perfectly, a walking jacket, capris, t-shirts and more.

I have been researching the possibility of being a cruise nurse - at least I'll be able to add the Emergency certificate to my resume - and it's sounding like the most possible way to do a world cruise before I'm 80. Hmmm. Got to get my resume together on my days off - always fun to see what's out there.