Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We assembled a crack team

We're into the final stretch now of the holiday blitz and with plans to be the hostess with the mostest for two functions this week instigated by the life partner - life is good but....busy. Although it's been it's been 11 days coming, if this update were not to occur tonight, well it likely wouldn't happen for some time. The western daughter will be arriving shortly and after a city visit we will all be together for supper on Saturday night - into the countdown now. 

The baby daughter is here having arrived with much fanfare on the 9th by having to be rescued on the side of the road over an hour away. She was driving a 1999 Audi wagon and it lit up like a Christmas tree on a remote section of the highway so....off I go. I finally locate her and we transfer the baskets and baskets of laundry to be washed "Mom do you know how much it costs to do this in the laundromat?" groceries as she's converted to not eating wheat (I advised that if this fad Dr who's written Wheat Belly suggests she drink the purple koolaid that she not do so) and had her own food, and various bits of luggage. In the middle of this excitement in the dark a large shape growled at me and I realized that she had brought Diesel the large AmStaff (American Staffordshire terrier) with her which is now a part of her life as he came with the boyfriend. He was warned and transferred to the back seat and we were off. 

Monday consisted of finding a VW place that would work on the car and a towing company. We took ourselves up to yoga class and both enjoyed - we needed the relaxation. A really windy, rainy day so we did some crafts and baking until....the power was off for over five hours. We coped with the crank radio and lantern, flashlights and candles but the shore captain chased generators at the tank house, had me call NS Power and finally crawled into bed at 4 a.m. 

Tuesday missy had to take the car keys to the mechanic so he could try to start it and find out what was going on. He confirmed that the alternator was toast, that a new one could be as much as $1100 and thus he would have this one rebuilt as soon as he could. Along the way the baby daughter stopped at the nursing home to see when her shifts would start only to find out that her name wasn't on the time sheet and all the management was away for the next four days. Apparently the manager had 'forgotten'. Since she had left her job in NB early as she had confirmed the date to start, she was NOT impressed. 

Wednesday the car didn't move (remember this part) as we crafted, walked the dog, baked and were otherwise engaged. The call came from the mechanic to say the alternator was rebuilt and reinstalled after five hours of fighting with it and the total bill was $314. So certainly not as bad as it could've been. 

Thursday was the day I had planned to visit my birthday twin and deliver her wedding gift as I was up north on the big day and then head in to the city for an info session. It was a frosty morning so I popped out to warm up the car and.....the key had been left turned on since the Tuesday, delivering the Audi key outing and it was completely dead. I called the shore captain to ask about jumper cables but his secretary told me that he was wading around in the tank and had left the cell on his desk (so he is learning somewhat as several of them have gone for a swim). The boy captain (who didn't have jumper cables) advised that there was a tickle charger in the barn. I called my friend and she was just leaving for a physio appointment so I advised we'd manage with the charger. However, she shortly arrived to rescue damsels in distress with the jumper cables - as if any of us had ever jumpstarted a vehicle. We assembled a crack team as the baby daughter limped down from the barn and had telephone advice from the mechanic boyfriend, my buddy with arthritic hands couldn't squeeze the handles and me without my glasses trying to read which post was positive or negative. My friend says calmly "if we blow up either or both of these cars I'm going to be very annoyed". A few snaps and sparks but we managed very quickly to start the car and she heads off for her appointment as I phone to advise she'll be late as she was being a rescuer. With my chauffeur driving we were off to retrieve her car but as we disembark to pay the bill she discovers she's forgotten her wallet. Le sigh. I run my errands at Walmart as I need to set up a PIN on my visa. Done. A beautiful sunny day to visit and deliver the gift, enjoy the wedding photos (she photographed our wedding 35 years ago) and then a stop at the nearby Frenchy's following, then head in to the city to meet up with my friend for supper at Curry Village and on to the Medicin sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) recruiting session where I met up with my northern roommate. Would I do MSF? Not for a bit as they pay $1850 per month so I can't really afford to volunteer for them just yet. It was a clear late night drive home with a beautiful meteor shower to accompany me and I saw some amazing flameouts. 

Friday morning the baby daughter headed in to physio again and would you believe it? Left the lights on and had to jumpstart my car again!!! It was a fairly new battery but...

Saturday I got the decorations up around the house as I entertained the ladies who do lunch (from my workplace) as they came for lobster sandwiches and eggnog cheesecake and lots of catching up. It was a great sunny afternoon which I'll think about when I'm in the total darkness in a couple of weeks. Sunday, the tree made it into the stand in the living room making the house smell beautiful. 

Monday was an orientation shift for the nursing student daughter at the nursing home and so I puttered about wrapping gifts and ticking holiday chores off the list. As I headed up the driveway I noticed the window in the front of the barn was smashed out. As I went all CSI on it I discovered that a partridge had flown through the window, flopped around as it bled out and finally died on the table saw - gruesome crime scene, not sure of the timing of this debacle. Arriving home late the shore captain had to put plywood over the hole (three uncharged cordless drills later - you would never know he was a Boy Scout but I guess it was Girl Guides with the Be Prepared motto) as wet weather was on its way. After all the kerfuffle he managed to leave lobsters for the plant supper (which I have been drafted to host tomorrow night) in the back seat of his truck. So at 10 pm I had to retrieve the crustaceans and steam them. 

Today was the run for groceries and beverages for the supper as well as school supplies for the project in Belize which the chef (who is coming to whip my buddy and me into shape tomorrow) volunteers for. So, enough chatting it's time to haul this carcass into bed so I'll be ready to be the chef's helper. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm Ancient School

Kicking back with an herbal tea - yeah cuz I'm just that kind of party gal on a Friday night! It's been a full - read great - week so I'm into a little downtime this evening.

Monday was spent on errands. I did make the mistake of asking at the plant if there was anything I could do on my my way for them so got to do the banking deposits. I didn't return the personal humidifier as when I got to the store with it the clerk simply opened it and handed it back to me. Kind of like taking your kids to the Dr and they're fine when you get there. You're really pleased things worked out but....makes you look like a dummy. At any rate I cheerfully popped it back in the bag and have it in the 'to be packed' cupboard now. I did manage to pick up more craft supplies while there of course. I printed my photos for my scrapbook project (details later) and stopped at the Salvation Army thrift shop as well. Busy little elf. Home in time for yoga class - which was much easier on this old body this time around - and then out for a dog walk.

Tuesday I discovered the shore captain had left his cell phone home (when it rang and someone was looking to buy lobsters) so this meant that I made another trek to the plant to deliver the cell. The extremely high landings and weak markets have resulted in a large inventory of crustaceans being held. Each one of those crates floating in those tanks holds at least 100 pounds of lobsters. Hopefully those critters will start moving for the holiday market soon. If the numbers of transport trucks we passed / met on the way to and from the city was any indication some are finding their way to plates.

Wednesday was the day of departure on our girls road trip but first I had to make (for the third day in a row if you're keeping track) a trip to the plant. This time to pick up the lobsters for the teacher daughter in the city as her father forgot to bring them home (I'm shocked - not). We were very efficient in our travels and managed to tick lots of items off our to-do list. I picked up a silicone loaf pan (packs well) at Canadian Tire and another pair of Max Heat socks at Marks Work Wearhouse which will keep my tootsies toasty in Taloyoak. I ordered a new snorkelling mask with prescription lenses, then we submitted our passport renewal applications. We headed over to Pipa for a Brazilian/Portugese supper and met up with son and daughter-in-law for my travel partner and daughter for moi and had supper and caught up on the news until it was time to walk the half a block to Neptune. Us four ladies very much enjoyed the musical ELF (it wasn't really like the movie but great in its own way) from very good balcony seats. We caught the ferry, then bus to pick up the car and home to bed.

Thursday we headed over to our long time buddy's place and visited and scrapbooked the day away. She was the hostess with the mostest and we all shared our toys well. I got about half of my northern album put together so was quite proud of myself. Her husband was home with a nasty case of shingles although he was managing a lot better than the man in this house would've with that (or many other) afflictions. We left with promises to make this crafting get together a more regular plan. We had an uneventful trip back - which is a good thing to report - and my friend readied herself to return to work today. Always good to get away.

This morning I was up to get myself together before the cleaning lady arrived on this sunny calm day. She was bright eyed and bushy tailed and sporting a squeegee and jug of vinegar stating she was going to tackle the outside windows after she whipped the interior into shape. I am thrilled that she cleans for me but I get exhausted just talking to her. I had thought of hiding in the spare bedroom and eating chocolates while she cleaned (how decadent) but I don't have any chocolate so I walked the dog and sang loudly to my iPod shuffle, then ambled over to the neighbours to loan her a book I'd promised, stopped on the return to take a construction photo and email it to the summer neighbour and by then it was safe to return home as the whirlwind was attacking the outside of the windows.

Not sure whether I was shamed into it or just caught the bug but after lunch I cleaned out and organized the freezer. I baked a banana bread (had to try out the new silicone loaf pan - it passed muster) and made corn bread (am thinking this'll work well for my northern carbs) from an online recipe - here it is:

Homesteader Cornbread

"This recipe comes from my mother-in-law in Canada. It's the most moist corn bread that I have ever tasted. It's great with chili con carne or as stuffing for your holiday turkey." — 

Original recipe makes 1 - 9x13 inch pan

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 

  • 2 1/2 cups milk (soured with 1 tbsp lemon juice)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 

  • 2/3 cup white sugar 

  • 2 eggs 

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand for 15 minutes. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs and oil until smooth - beat at least 5 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

It turned out really well (nice and moist) and even the life partner pronounced it yummy. I froze half to see if it will manage that well as that's part of the requirements for me.

Was online chatting with the nursing student daughter who had written an exam today (Acute - not too painful she said, if you get the pun) and was writing "Families with Multiple Challenges" tomorrow - to which I replied "that would describe us". She concurred and allowed that it just required writing with certainty about any topic. I told her that since she's always been a very definite girl she should do well. And since she's had a nurses sense of humour since her early years I'm including this borrowed pic on the left in her honour. She's looking forward to working some shifts at the local nursing home over the holidays - hasn't been there for a few years so will be some catching up.  She's heading down the home stretch now of the studies so the May 29th grad is the shining light at the end.
From the same site, my particular favourite is this one on the right  which is more appropriate for the longer in the tooth type and actually kind of makes me proud. Hard to believe that it is all that many years ago since I graduated as it really feels like months not decades on many levels, mind you I do keep reinventing myself with alarming regularity.

Soon time to get ready for the western daughter's arrival as she'll be home for two weeks over the holidays - hasn't been home for Christmas for a few years. She's been working hard and is on her 16th day of 24 without a day off as I post this - think she'll be tired? She's heading back for eight weeks of classes for her next electrical apprentice level when she returns so at least will be out of those frigid temperatures out there.

Off to make a lunch for the man of the house - gotta keep those old fellas fed to keep them going. Might hit up the local Christmas Fair tomorrow to put me in the spirit. Now the house is clean I should get the decorations up.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

May I know?

It's been a week since I blogged as I've been busy working as Santa's little elf - good thing that I am semi-retired eh? But you know it's time to  update the blog when you run across a quote like this:

Every occasion in life can either be categorized as a good time or a good story.

I attended my first yoga class last week and although it's supposed to make you more flexible it's going to take me a while to reach that description. When the instructor was assisting me in how to extend my feet while holding on my chair (yes it's seniors yoga - okay there I've said it) I gasped "I can't go reach any further - my teeth are really expensive" but it was unnecessary panic as she meant for me to shorten my stretch. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's class and hopefully I won't be slower than those 80 year olds who attend.

Four of us enjoyed the latest James Bond movie - Skyfall - and it was (as expected) excellent. To be able to watch Daniel Craig for extended periods of time without his shirt on is a good thing. And to those who say that the 007 movies are too violent, I say "was there shooting?" because for me it's all about the secret agent. Sigh. 

Due to rough weather on Monday and an official postponement, the first day of lobster season was Tuesday. It was a lovely day to get the traps in the water and I made my way over mid morning (I never get up when the men go lobstering and first day is no exception) to snap some photos. 
Coming in for 2nd load

Let's get them on and out there
Busy spot
Both FV Kylie Ann's together
After I delivered the orange rolls to the captain and crew - with all of them under 25, you can be assured that there were no lunches packed - I headed in to town to get my annual flu shot. Aside from a slightly tender arm the next day there were no problems. Groceries, a trip to the hardware store for supplies - was going to try a sharpie mug (the clerk even asked me if this was where I found the idea) and I have to say it was the first Pinterest fail I've had, then a stop at Frenchy's for craft supplies and to see if the tractor trailer had delivered any more Christmas presents for my family. I found a friend's description of Frenchy's on FaceBook as she tried to describe it someone from out of province so am sharing it here:

Frenchy's is a gift from God to those of us who love a bargain. There are a number of locations in Nova Scotia, the best ones at the western end of the province. Inside you'll find 4' x 8' plywood bins at waist level, filled with used clothes -- sorted into kids', men's and women's, and then further into shirts, sweaters, pants, etc. There are coats hung on racks around the perimeter of the room, along with suits and some "fancy" items. The clothes come from the US, and many still have their original tags, although there are some items that show signs of wear like tears or stains so you have to look carefully.  Prices have gone up a bit since the stores were introduced, but there are still some amazing bargains to be found. It's not for everybody, but I love it!

Then home to continue on with my elf projects - if you're into crocheting here's a lovely blog I discovered - has some really cute baby hats amongst other things :

and then do some baking. I am trying to use oranges in various recipes and sending them home with anyone who visits, as both the shore captain and myself managed to order citrus from the local school. I spent some time with livechat at Philips in trying to register my GOLiteBLU therapy lamp. Apparently the difficulty was that I live in Canada but bought the product online from Amazon in the USA as it wasn't available here, then tried to register it according to the directions in the box which were for......you guessed it - the US. As she kept typing 'may I know the model number' and 'may I know where you live' I wanted to SHOUT "I don't know if you may or not" and my friend said it reminded her of the Leslie Neilson line where he says "and don't call me surely". At least I didn't have to register it in both countries - what were all those NAFTA negotiations about if you have to go through all this?

I had visits from several friends this week and lots of smiles - ahh, did I mention that it's nice to be off for two months? Then on Friday as I looked to escape from the house (as the cleaning lady comes that morning) I headed out to meet a friend for a tea and catching up. Amazing who hangs out at Tim Hortons I found out. 

In chatting online with my former roommate (she of polar bear story fame) I discovered that she'll be joining me in Taloyoak in February. She suggested that if I've run out of supplies or have forgotten anything, that she'll be able to bring them in - how decadent to have my own personal courier. And I promised to try to save her some of the seafood I'll be taking in with me. Will be nice to see a familiar face by then. 

Since I've been organizing my stuff, which means I've been donating bags of clothes, sorting my jewelry, and finding all kinds of things...I unearthed a Maeve Binchy movie which I plan to watch with my buddy. Since the life partner has the laptop which plays DVDs hooked up to the large TV I asked him for directions on how to work it. The directions (which he spontaneously spouted after having been shown them once at the store) which I recorded, cover half a page of paper. Remember this is from a man who cannot recall more than two items on a grocery list. Adult ed principals in action - the teachable moment is where you WANT to learn to do it to learn it. And speaking of movies....to distract him from the woes of this lobster season - record catches and a shaky economy have driven the price down, there is a shortage of crates to keep lobsters in, fishermen are still insisting on selling and for buyers the uncertainty of the markets makes this a risky endeavour, long hours and high overhead costs etc etc. - I convinced him that we'd watch one of the movies the computer tech downloaded for me up north. Since the shortest one was Hot Tub Time Machine, that was the choice made by himself - sort of a cross between The Hangover and Dumb and Dumber - but it did take his mind off his troubles for a bit. The weather was rotten today and tomorrow promises a repeat so not only lobster boats to worry about but the fishing boat is out as well - no wonder he doesn't sleep, it's like waiting for a house full of teenagers to return with the vehicle. 

Off to run a few errands in the morning. I have to return the personal humidifier as I couldn't get it open - and I was so hopeful for something to put some moisture into the air in Nunavut - will have to keep my eyes peeled when shopping for a similar product. A friend and myself are heading in to the city this week to get our passport renewal organized and to order a prescription snorkel mask for myself.

And in closing, I leave you with this list to enable you to stay creative:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Semi retired it is

The Sunday evening update from a semi-retired person - as the shore captain says "you're off long enough now that you have to call it semi-retired not a vacation" includes a rather busy schedule for someone semi-retired. 

Thursday was a 'getting your craft on' kind of day where I organized all my projects, washed my Frenchy finds and hung them out on the clothesline (amending my 'don't hang out laundry past Nov 1st rule) as it was just too mild and beautiful not to, walked the dog with a friend and generally enjoyed life. I think that's what us semi-retired folks are supposed to do.

Friday mornings the cleaning lady comes so after a short visit with her I made myself scarce and visited my friend up the road. We drank tea, ate chocolate scones and researched Tampa for our April trip. It looks like we'll be able to take in Busch Gardens, the aquarium and a harbour cruise as well as see a bit of the city. I had taken a craft project with me so the time was spent multi tasking until it was safe to head home. We walked the dog and although the nasty Rottweiler down the road made some aggressive noises and sounded as if it was heading towards us once my (bodyguard) friend - who had previously sent it flying back up the driveway - yelled at it to 'stay home' it didn't even come out out of the basement - not even on our return trip. Keely looks nervously over her shoulder until we're well towards home, just to be sure though. I told my friend that I'll have to tape her yelling and play it back loudly on days she's working or sleeping and unable to protect us. I fought with my sewing machine and finally won so got some of to-do list checked off by hemming the sleeves of my scrub jacket and lining my NS tartan scarf - looks great next to my Canada Goose parka I must say.

Saturday was a bit wet but it cleared in the afternoon so I popped over to the summer neighbours to take some photos of the construction going on in the form of an addition. My buddy and I walked the dog and then it was time to get ready for a supper invitation. We had turkey burgers stuffed with smoked gouda, sweet potato fries, curry noodles and three kinds of pies for dessert. Hard to get up from the table after that.

As it turned out, today was a quiet day as opposed to a frantic 'getting ready for lobstering' day. The season has been delayed until Tuesday due to wind and high seas so the waiting still continues. There were a few flakes of snow this morning and lots of chatter on FB about it which caused me to update my status as 'like September in Nunavut'. When I asked the shore captain to pick up the newspaper from the end of the driveway on the way in he said "you're not planning to leave the house today?" and I replied "too windy" to which he responded "you best put on your Canada Goose parka and get used to it". I am sure I'd be in a lather by the time I made it back to the steps as it was only -2 here not -32 as in  Taloyoak. He brought the fixins for eggs benedict with smoked salmon and so that was  what we had for brunch. He has spent most of his day in the la-z-boy watching a ninja movie on Netflix and sports updates while I have made brown bread, cranberry pudding and orange rolls. Nuff said.

The plan is to head out to watch the new James Bond movie tomorrow evening called Skyfall. It is one of those flicks which manages to entertain both of us - he for the action adventure / she for looking at Daniel Craig and I do love Judi Dench and some of the others.

While I was listening to CBC radio on one of my many trips back and forth for errands lately I heard an update on Gabble. This is sort of like twitter or FB where you have so many characters but it's a program which converts your words into little video/graphics. Apparently in our increasingly global world where we need to communicate this reduces the need for translation. Here, you try it:


I typed in I am going to see Skyfall tomorrow evening - so that will give you an idea of what it did for me.

As I was getting ready to hit publish on this update I was chatting with my previous Cambridge Bay roommate (who is in a different part of Nunavut) and she was telling me about seeing polar bears (with cubs) in town (while driving) about 15 ft away and being annoyed at not having her camera with her so going out walking repeatedly looking for them. When I questioned the safety of this activity she stated she could 'run up someone's steps to escape'. In direct questioning she says that she saw 'something whitish yellowish in the distance, might have been one, might not have' in Taloyaok. So that's good. I was afraid I was going to have to include a stick in my 'packing for north of 60 cupboard' as it's north of the tree line. Speaking of which - I was extremely annoyed to find the SAD light system advertised on Amazon this weekend for 30% off - do I have the timing or what?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shaken not stirred

For someone on 'vacation' I haven't been very prompt with my blog updates eh? It could have something to do with the fact that I've visited three different Frenchy's outlets in three days plus headed out to scrapbooking one evening. 

Cruise wear for older nurses
What do you think of the tank top I picked up on one of my Frenchy's stops? I think I shall be a little bit of both on my vacay. The trip with my travel buddy to have passport photos taken on Monday was necessitated by the fact that we booked a cruise for April. We didn't really set out to do that when she came down to walk the dog with me on Friday and then have a cup of tea but one thing led to another and.....Vacations to Go had such a great deal on a 7 day cruise out of Tampa (where we both really wanted to visit) on the Norwegian Dawn with port calls in Honduras, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel plus two sea days from April 7 - 14th and since the price was so good, we might as well book a balcony and Air Canada (of all companies - it's usually the most expensive) had an excellent seat sale on....well you know how that kind of thinking goes and it results in a great vacation booked. We're going to spend a couple of days before and a day after the cruise in Tampa as well. A passport has to be good for six months past travel so we're in the renew mode. Fortunately the government has made the process considerably less painful now where you can fill out the two page form online and print it, then take it with two passport photos to the office - none of that guarantor stuff. Which we shall certainly do when we go to the city to visit our friend and scrapbook for the day. 

Saturday was spent with two coworkers doing the Christmas Crawl in our local town and this was a chance to sample nibbles, see all kinds of neat gift ideas and enjoy a nice lunch at Charlotte Lane (my belated b'day lunch which my friend treated me to) with an additional former coworker. So this is what retired folks do eh? We got back in time for me to walk the dog and head out for a 60th birthday celebration for another coworker. We played games from childhood (I landed flat out trying to skip and fell over at hopscotch) followed by visiting and a great potluck meal. The shore captain joined us a bit late as he was dealing with the tides and grounding out / floating a boat to put a buoy catcher around the prop. 

Beauty eh?
Sunday I gave myself permission to have the day off. I had intended to go the writing group meeting but.....there are only so many hours in the day and days in the week. So I caught up on my unread newspapers and emails, downloaded an e-copy of Echo Heron's latest book - it's not a nursing story it's a historical novel called Noon at Tiffanys and I can't wait to get into it on my new Kindle, walked the dog - beautiful sunset here on the right - and generally enjoyed myself. Baked some cranberry scones for the life partner from the milk calendar - recipe link here - they were yummy:

Recently, in addition to the power Frenchy shopping (and ooh la la I have made some great scores) the results of which shall not be revealed publicly until after Santa visits, I have been doing some serious online research for DIY projects and procuring of supplies. These two endeavours are in keeping with the 'buy nothing new' decree for Christmas this year. Everything must either be self created or repurposed. I can attest that it has relieved a great deal of seasonal stress - and that's even before I begin all the creating. 

I have been shopping online as well for some items on my to-do list. My ethernet to usb adapter for use north of 60 arrived from Apple yesterday - UPS was getting so insistent on trying to deliver it they left warning sticky notes as it was the second attempt so I had to direct them to my neighbours. My clinical practice guidelines textbook arrived - if something sounds too good to be true, it likely is - and it's an earlier edition than I 'thought' I'd purchased. Inattention is the hazard of late night shopping online. Tonight I ordered a travel light therapy lamp (on the suggestion of a professional) for dealing with the 24 hours of darkness I'm heading to in January - to reset my circadian rhythms and reduce disorientation. Not cheap but....if it works. I was reminded of my return to the top of the world by this article both online and picked up by the provincial newspaper about judges working in Nunavut:

On a less humorous note I was reminded of the reality of traveling in the north by a FaceBook post from a  coworker who was heading back to Kitikmeot the following day. She brought the crash last weekend of a small plane to our attention - the men were being flown out of a mine site near Snow Lake, northern Manitoba to Winnipeg. The pilot was the fatality and there were another seven injured. The small planes, the over whelming work at the health centre that day was sobering for those who travel frequently:

Today I took the car in for servicing - got to maintain it until summer is the plan - shopped at Frenchy's while I waited then accompanied a friend to clean out some old RNANS materials stored at the hospital and we rewarded ourselves with lunch at the bistro where the food is good and the service rather uneven. Got caught up on all the news. Came home to walk the dog with my buddy and as we returned down the driveway we were met by....Gary who had just been out for a stroll himself. I don't think he's learned to open the door, he likely escaped (and influenced Stanley to do the same) while I was bringing parcels in from the car but it was disconcerting. And Stan being such a fraidy cat was hiding until dark, then skittish and had to be coaxed in and is finally recovering from all the excitement now. Those kitty boys!

Well, enough catching up. Oh, as well my swimsuit (obviously NOT for the north of 60 but for the cruise) arrived from LLBean and it looks good - my self esteem isn't strong enough tonight to try it on and look in the mirror, I'll think about that tomorrow. As well as try to straighten this place up a bit as I've had notice of a visit tomorrow afternoon from a coworker. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'll get IT on the line

The teacher daughter mentioned "wow, you've gotten a lot of things done" as I outlined how I was ticking off the to-do list this week. In discussion we decided that my eight weeks 'off' were similar to her summers where the break stretches out ahead of you, you get a few things accomplished, then it gets busy and before you know it....you're back to work, but there is the benefit during this time of not having to forego a social occasion unless you have another previous social commitment. And of course my plan is to have these two month breaks on a regular basis. 

My list of accomplishments runs to editing and reordering another photobook for myself - it's like building a house, after you've done it two or three times you get it exactly the way you like it. I sorted out my online coupons and thus have some more projects in the planning. I ordered another two pairs of Tilley travel underwear. For those familiar with their slogan of 'two pairs will take you around the world' the sky's the limit of what four pairs will do for you. I was online shopping through shopairmiles.ca and attempting to receive air miles (of course) on an ethernet to usb converter to use in the north (removes the requirement for a router) which is small and costs about $30 so I found one with a Canadian flag next to it, but when I attempted to put in my Canadian postal code - no go. This required a phone call to my friends at Apple and the very helpful young lad and myself soon realized that it was an American site - he conceded that it would be dang nigh impossible to figure that out except for US in the jumble of letters and symbols in the url address. So, the only solution was - order from Apple Canada and forgo the airmiles. I did it but I wasn't happy and had my rant about "for a technology company that can invent all sorts of amazing products, you suck at website design" which even he had to chuckle at. In my additional shopping for airmiles I purchased a new swimsuit from LLBean for the next warm vacation and yes I had better get my airmiles for that purchase when the statement arrives. My Canada Goose jacket has shipped (yeehaw) and my Kindle has arrived via UPS.  I was very annoyed to find a charge on the emailed Amazon shipping notice entitled 'import fees deposit'  in the amount of $9.70 - Rahul it is a very good thing that you removed the shipping charge and refunded the exchange on the Canadian dollar as this would've been in addition to those two charges. Sigh, everyone wants my money - what can I do? Now I shall have to learn to use my new Kindle instead of doing housework, good thing the battery requires charging first. I revamped my scrapbooked desktop calendar with 2013 pages so that it can accompany me on my travels but apparently in the online calendar page world you're not supposed to plan ahead more than one year as I couldn't locate 2014 templates to redo the following year so that shall wait until next fall. I did as well print 2013 pages for the main calendar as life goes on.

But my major accomplishment - executed with the assistance of techie friends/family from old to young is......drumroll please......downloading online movies to my Mac. Written on the page, it doesn't read very large, but trust me - it is! My plan is to have a movie library on my Mac should I ever find myself with time up north to watch a few. Since a large portion of the online world revolves arounds Windows there is the problem of conversion of files etc. This project involved polling FaceBook peeps for their suggestions - several of which fit with my plans - and then dealing with such things as KickAss Torrents (pardon the language that is the name) and uTorrent (to download), VLC for Mac (the video player) and several online discussions with a niece (who has been well schooled by her geek husband) and a call to the teacher daughter who said "I'll get IT on the line" and relayed my questions to my son-in-law, who was fairly helpful considering he was watching sports on TV and only muttered 'she's got a stupid Mac' at the very end of the conversation.

Had a nice morning visit yesterday with my buddy as we sorted baby clothes I just couldn't leave at Frenchy's for her 'to be born in March' grand baby - gender neutral clothing as her son and daughter-in-law are sensible enough to not seek to know the gender of the baby- what would be the purpose of that? Certainly not planning to exchange are they? We discussed our travel plans for the first two weeks of April and they range from a cruise, to visiting plantations in the southern US, to Costa Rica to.... lots of time yet to decide. The afternoon brought a rainy, dark drive for the shore captain and myself to meet up with the baby daughter as she had a physio appointment with the facility that 'fixed my back' as I highly recommended them. After a highway closure and diversion, she missed her original appointment and was rescheduled so we had a late lunch/early supper at The Knot Pub


which was a good way to spend a couple of hours catching up on the news of travels to Iceland, school, clinical and graduation plans. Apparently things went well with the visit so that is a positive.

Thinking of cooking....I'm off to a Pampered Chef party tonight at my sister's - as I said, able to take in all those social events without looking at the calendar - if I'm home, I'm not working. Here is an idea from Pinterest - if you haven't checked Pinterest out you are really missing out - for pancakes/bacon which I intend to try one of these mornings where you lay a strip of almost cooked bacon on a hot griddle and pour on the pancake batter. Cook, flip and serve on a plate with syrup. The life partner looked rather sceptically at it - but as I said "you eat it all together anyway" and since I'm the one to do the bacon / pancakes he will be the tester. He'll be lucky to be around at breakfast time as the push is to get ready for lobster season - only ten days now remaining before the big day and the traps are being loaded on the wharves as I type.  Off to walk the dog as the sun has come out and the dust is really showing up in the sunlight. Later. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The goose has landed

Home safely from the short self indulgent six days off and back to reality. An uneventful flight from DR (if you don't count the really tough landing in Pearson) which you would think with three pilots on board could have been a bit smoother. I told the travel partner that the landings on air strips in Nunavut were gentler. One very large positive of the flight was that since there was no inflight satellite signal the pay for view movies were offered free and I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I have been wanting to see for some time and it was excellent - a must watch if you get the chance. The short night in Toronto at the Sheraton Gateway was made even shorter by the shore captain not wanting to be late (the missing of the plane in Edmonton two years ago still ever present in his mind) so he was up at 0430 hrs and we were checked out of the hotel and on our way before the wake up call came. A smooth flight and a short visit with the daughter and son-in-law and we were on our way home. The reality began when we were bringing the luggage in and I noticed a mouse carcass on the braided rug in the living room and the carpet and furniture rearranged wildly. This is what happens when two felines and a deer mouse attempt to coexist. 

The life partner had a jolt of reality when he remembered that the thunder and lightening storm / power outage had killed his beloved TV. I heard him punching the on and off button repeatedly in the man cave as soon as we arrived and (excuse the dark humour but remember that I am a nurse blogger) so I told him that it reminded me of someone going to a visitation and repeatedly poking the corpse in the chest with an index finger to see if they would wake up. "What did you think it was going to do - turn on?" I said. He muttered that he "thought it might've reset itself" and wandered aimlessly. The situation was made worse by the fact that he'd stopped to see the son-in-law's new flat screen model on the fireplace. Not one to want to miss an opportunity I gave a grocery list to the man saying "since we both know that you can't live a day without television, you can pick up a few things when you shop for it"

The return to reality for me includes attempting to get my act together from and before a working away jaunt and acclimatize to the 'you are not just on four days off or a two week vacation' you are not working until after New Years mode. Yeehaw! I am feeling a bit lost though as the last time I was without work for 14 weeks I had a newborn and that was 28 years ago. Although I did get a goodly amount of things done today, my to do list runs to two pages and is one of those tasks (like housework) which regenerates itself. And of course my social calendar (because I can) is beginning to fill up. A road trip to scrapbook for three long time friends is pencilled in as well as some more visits/errands/Frenchy shopping - you get the drift. 

And speaking of drifts and the need for appropriate outerwear to handle the 'real winter' in January I am thrilled to be able to announce that I've sourced a Canada Goose jacket which will (supposedly) look like the one on the left  - the colour is called spirit. It was a bit of a struggle as I couldn't locate one in the city or through any of the retailers across Canada approved by Canada Goose but I was successful in tracking down one online in Montreal. It's a real process as there are so many counterfeit jackets now. It was also $117 of tax as I ordered it from Nova Scotia :( I am most relieved now and awaiting its arrival.  I had an online chat with my former northern roomie and we were discussing the MSF (Doctors Without Borders) presentation we are hoping to attend in the city on Dec 13th unless she is "weathered" in Hall Beach. My usual thoughts on weathered refer to faces or boards but she was of course referring to a flight delay caused by weather while attempting to get out of Nunavut. I found a website (a bit dated but things do move slowly in the north) for Taloyoak and so am sharing it here - note they chose not to document the white stuff:


It was a beautiful sunny day today. Not tropical but certainly unseasonably warm for this time of year. I managed to get laundry done and some of my tasks sorted out. I argued with Eastlink as to why I should have to use an incorrect postal code to register for online billing when they are perfectly able to send a paper bill to my correct postal code monthly. At any rate, the e-billing is now set up. But the Amazon.com situation was the real doozie. Speaking of dead technology....I had resigned myself to replacing the deceased Kindle. It took live chats with four different customer service reps at Amazon until the final one (Rahul) conceded that 'although it was not a common occurrence, the Kindle did need to be replaced'. He advises that I can have a new one for $74 (a savings from $89) and he will waive the shipping fee but when I call him on the cost as I've received an email advertising the same model for $69 he tells me that this is not for international customers. So I review that our Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar at present yet I am going to pay MORE than an American customer for the same product (which I am replacing after only two years) as there is no option to purchase this in Canada? There is a pause (likely where he says to his cubicle neighbour "psycho caller on the line") and he returns to advise that he has given me a credit of $6 to my account. And there better not be any extra customs brokerage fees either I pursue - he claims this will not be a problem. No, I'm not happy but at least I'm not as annoyed! Wouldn't vouch for how Rahul is feeling.

Chatted with the baby daughter who is heading within a few hours of us on Wednesday for an appointment so have arranged for visit/lunch that afternoon. She's in to the home stretch with her studies and doing very well so it will be good to discuss plans - talk of a western direction for job hunting as the nurse hiring here in the east is stalled. 

So, the luggage is stowed in the closet until March when we head to Cuba to visit friends. The 40" flat screen TV is set up in the 10 ft x 11 ft. man cave. I asked the shore captain if he had eye drops for the eye strain he'll have watching a TV bigger than himself. And it's time to get myself in to bed and adjusted to all this free time. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Photoblog of DR

As promised - I am posting a few photos from yesterday which will make this a photoblog today as they tell the story of our trip to the funicular and up the mountain and city tour of Puerta Plata including the amber museum, cathedral de St Phillipe, cigar factory, and fortress.  Lots of souvenir shopping and got to spend the day with two lovely ladies from Calgary.

looking up the mountain

cable car from the top

palm and pine trees together

on the way back down
larimar before it's polished

fish for sale in the square
no caption required
Although the skies opened up last night about 6 pm we were prepared with our rain jackets and beach shoes and headed down to the seafood restaurant (we're Maritimers and used to rain I replied when someone commented - look at those guys) between the flashes of lightening. We were spoiled as Francis didn't give us a menu but brought us a six course meal and the finale was the caramel flan which I love! Who is going to spoil me like this this next week? Another wet day today but it's still warm, someone else is feeding us and we're not working - how can you complain? Well, lots do but we are determined to NOT be the crowd at the seafood restaurant last night with high expectations (in a third world country) bad behaviour (you could not conduct a conversation over the screeches and yelling) and cheap (not one tip was left for staff). Glad they weren't Canadian is all I have to say. Off to find my borrowed novel. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pekinese crispy style duck

The past few days a wonderful day was had by both. The surf was down a bit and the ocean (and pool) were a perfect temperature. It was warm and quiet on the beach. Good for us, not so great for the vendors attempting to make a living. I contributed to the cause by buying myself a beautiful set of earrings, pendant and bracelet in larimar from Cheapy Willie Promotions. It was his first sale of the day at 3 pm so he was pleased. And so was I as it looked lovely with my black dress when we went to supper at the steak house on Tuesday evening. Francis spoiled us with 'specialties' such as garlic toasts, grilled vegetables and more along with our meal - I had a chef's salad, chateaubriand with bernaise sauce, baked potato, corn on the cob, grilled veggies and profiteroles for dessert. Yum. 

The only casualty of the week was my Kindle is toast. I guess if this is the only negative then you're doing well. The screen is indelibly etched with a page I was reading. Sigh. I shall have to contact Amazon and see about a replacement and transferring my downloaded books. In looking for a paper book to read I found the vanilla I've picked up for myself and others - hope I don't have to claim it as liquor. The books (take one, leave one) are now managed by the entertainment staff who directed me to the bookshelf when I described my dead e-reader plight. "Es meurte - not the first time this has happened" the staff member tells me. I discovered that a large number of German and French readers leave their books compared to English and the Kathy Reichs novel which I have yet to read as it is on the dead Kindle was there in……German! There were a few choices however and we're only here for another few days so I will survive. 

We were over to The Jade Garden last evening and enjoyed an Asian meal - in Dominican terms that is. You know the adage 'always remember your camera' well I didn't follow that rule and we encountered some fractured Engrish which I would've loved to document. On the inside of the menu at the oriental restaurant was a laminated notice that stated for an additional charge you could have "pekinese crispy style duck" we almost hooted out loud - clearly an autocorrect for Peking duck. When one of the appetizers (I think it was a croquette) was not describable I told the travel partner that I thought it was 'mystery meat' and he says "maybe it's pekinese" and that was it - we were lost. Where is your camera when you need it? The fried ice cream for dessert was great - not sure how Asian it was, but it was delicious. 

Arranged a tour through Luis for today -  jaunt to the cable car - the weather is much clearer than when we were here in March - visibility wasn't enough on any day then. Had a nice tour of Puerta Plata, St Phillipe cathedral, the amber museum, the fortress and…..the funicular. The clouds came in a bit at the top but we had a great view of the city, resorts and all. Had to charge the batteries so will post pictures tomorrow. A bit of a slow start as the tour guide was sent to the wrong resort and we both accused each other of not being there then agreed to disagree. Spent a few hours with some nice ladies from Calgary and the mystery was solved when the tour guide tried to return us to the wrong hotel so we were both there at 9 am just not in the same place :) Off to get ready for supper after catching a few rays at the beach then a swim in the spa pool And tomorrow is the evening for a local meal out with Luis and his espouse before we throw all the dirty laundry in the suitcase for home. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beach bound

We did have a delay in our 'getting on our way on vacation' but….it is a beautiful sunny day (second in a row) here in Blue Bay Villas Doradas so all is good. Another day in paradise. Apparently it rained the day we missed so all is good. Arrived at 3 pm and after check in and getting settled, time for a quick supper and an early bedtime to catch up on the two days of travel. 

It has been very warm and steamy since our arrival and since this is November, not March we are enjoying perhaps 1/4 occupancy here at the resort. Took a walk around the beach this am and it appears that all the resorts are at about the same occupancy. The usual beach chair reserves with a towel or a t-shirt are completely unnecessary this time of year. Appears to be a few Brits, some Americans and a handful of Canadians. The weekend was a bit busier as it appeared that locals (perhaps as a reward for their work or a weekend reservation) bumped up the numbers to perhaps a 1//3 full. Lots of room in the dining room and no problem to get an a la carte reservation. 

Lots of familiar faces who remember us from March - it has only been six months after all although it somehow feels longer in between, must have been all that travelling we've been doing. Perhaps it's the 'we usually travel south in the winter not the fall' phenomenon. Not much has changed. A bit of maintenance has been done so the place is looking spiffy. Apparently there wasn't much effect of hurricane Sandy here on the north shore. Not too many photo ops as those were done in March so just enjoying the view and not capturing it. 

Had a lovely supper at the seafood restaurant last night and were thoroughly spoiled by Francis as usual. He's had orthopaedic back surgery so has made a complete recovery and is thrilled to be back to work. Tonight is the steak restaurant and we've already approached Luis to go out for supper locally (he is the one with a car) so that will be a bit more realistic. Have discussed getting up to the cable car one of these mornings for some photo ops and will have to deliver the the medical supplies so the days are allotted. 

When you only start with six days they don't take long to slip away. A update later if it's cloudy. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Runway Extension work may impact flight schedules.

It has been an eventful day - which at this time should have seen us sipping upon a rum punch (she) and a beer (he) at Blue Bay Villas Doradas, Puerta Plata, DR not waiting in Stanfield International Airport for a flight which will get us as far as Toronto this evening. We arose at 3:45 am and began our trek to the airport in high anticipation of a week's R&R. Stopped to pick up the teacher daughter and she accompanied us out to the airport to retrieve the car. As we approached the airport a thick cloud of fog appeared making it difficult to even see the exit. Hmmmm the shore captain mused 'wonder if the flight will go in this fog, oh surely they have instruments to handle this' and we proceeded through checkin. A fairly lengthy retrieval of the payment for an extra bag which we didn't in the end require. The money was one thing, the concern was that this mystery bag would cause troubles for us along the way. But troubles were already in the works. The security system is in a 'work to rule' situation and things were very slow getting through security. I get scanned for chemicals/bombs....whatever - I sure look like a mule/terrorist right? We finally make our way to Tim Hortons for a breakfast sandwich and hot drinks and settle in at the gate. The announcements begin for delays, we're advised that our flight has taken off from St. Johns, then comes a statement we've never heard in almost 19 years of fairly regular flying out of Halifax "you're flight to Toronto is cancelled, your luggage is being taken off the plane and returned to you, please make your way to the luggage carousel to retrieve it and go back to the WestJet counter to see what arrangements can be made for you. What we shortly learned was that 1) neither Air Canada (first flight out at 4 pm) or 2) Porter (flight at noon but into Billy Bishop Airport which is on Toronto Island and 45 min from Pearson) would enable us to make our 1 pm connection in Pearson to Puerta Plata and that 3) WestJet wasn't sure if/when they would send a 'rescue plane' for us as it would depend on the weather forecast (fog would have to be forecast to lift) and numbers and Monday was even mentioned as a possibility 4) was there even a flight to DR on Sunday? I made my way to a pay phone (having left the cell in the car with the daughter) to advise the daughter that we'd let her know if/when to retrieve us. After about half an hour the word was that a flight had been put on for 7:40 pm to Toronto and on to DR in the am. We waited patiently in line and when we reached the desk were told that there was a flight tomorrow at 6 am which would then connect in Toronto with a 9 am DR flight. We firmly but politely advised that we would fly to Toronto THIS evening to avoid an encore performance should Nova Scotia weather repeat itself. The gate attendant told us that with the runway construction work the navigation system was disabled and so the flight had been unable to land this am. 

A quick call and the daughter arrived to pick us up and back to visit with her and the son-in-law. The shore captain got a bit restless and so the plan was to go shopping for my Canada Goose jacket. Not to give away the ending but it turned into a wild goose chase. Three shops in Halifax all selling Canada Goose jackets and not one to fit this body. A faint promise of 'a later shipment' and my name was taken at two of the stores but I do not have much hope as the jackets have become a popular (albeit expensive) fashion statement apparently. It appears I shall go with plan B which was to shop online. Glad for two things - that we only took one male (the son-in-law declined) shopping and that my friend and I didn't do this chase on a day when we had more plans. We shall instead use our time in the city for other errands. We did however have a nice late lunch at Palladium Restaurant in Dartmouth and the shore captain is now a fan as well. 

I did manage to update the contacts in my 'smart phone' and download an e-book called Nurse Stuck in the Snow which is written by a nurse who had worked in Cambridge Bay as well as my next destination. Drum roll please.......Taloyoak (formerly known as Spence Bay) which I'll start out for on January 3, 2013 for eight weeks. I am posting some pics courtesy of my former roomie in Cam Bay.
Taloyoak Airport

Taloyoak Health Centre

Taoloyoak - sunrise or sunset?
Since there are 24 hours of darkness from November 25 - January 16 I shall do my research now. It's a smaller Health Centre with I think two CHNs and a SHP, no ground transport (meaning put the patient in the Suburban and drive to the airstrip) no lab (draw the blood, centrifuge it, manually count the white cells) no xray (the janitor - or nurse- does the X-ray) and a Doc on call somewhere in the region. Should be fun! The community is about 900 people - 98% Inuit. Exotic working vacations are the best kind I think and the roommate spoke very highly of the staff, community and its people. And that talk about - 50 c temperatures I am just ignoring for now. Am pasting a link to an article about the community - a bit dated but still good info - warning it takes a while to load be patient:

So we're back at the airport awaiting our flight - it's 7:15 pm and no sign of anyone at the gate although the departure screen is still saying 'on time'. Getting a bit travel worn and we haven't left yet. Fingers (and toes) crossed that we're outta here as we've already had our trip shortened by one day and I'm wearing my shants (you know those pants which zip off into shorts) which are not required in these climes. Hasta. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yeah, this IS it

I was relieved to find the notes left by the only son and the dog walkers about the critters AFTER I returned as they go like this. For clarification - Stanley is the black, skittish kitty who has been left in our care by a delinquent teenaged (at the time) mother. The notes in sequence read thusly:

Dog walker # 1
Keely and I had a short walk and I fed her and the cats. Can't find Stan - have you seen him?

Dog walker #2
Walked and fed Keely in the a.m., left her out on rope, fed Gary, no sign of Stan!

No fear, Stan is here. Found bugger under the bed. 

An update on the electrical storm of the other night - the TV got fried! Now, for those of you who are familiar with me, you'll realize that this is absolutely of no concern whatsoever to me however......the life partner is another matter. as he is a serious TV addict. He has no opportunity to blame me as I instructed him to unplug the technology - he did not - I unplugged the computers (and other things which mattered to me) and he went to bed and not only didn't unplug but didn't (as is his fairly regular practice) turn off the television. So......what do you expect? Apparently he expects if he repeatedly pushes the power switch that it will arise from the ashes like a phoenix. Not gonna happen. 

Got out to run errands this week which included an appointment at the bank - nice to be able to discuss plans for putting away some funds, not asking to have some. Ran into a coworker and got caught up on the news, registered mailed my travel claim, bought Hallowe'en treats and had enough time left over for a dog walk with a friend and a cup of Lady Hannah tea. Ahh, good to be back. 

I made my way to the garbage bin at the end of the driveway today with a bag of trash and one of recycling and on the return trip the only son (who was working with his hired man in the barn on lobster gear) came out to chat and leans over the back of his truck. He says "so is this it?" I asked for clarification and he says "this is it, you're not doing anything else? you're not working now until you go back?" To which I replied "I am 56 years old, I have worked hard for the past month and I'm going to do it again in January so yeah this is it!". He quickly clarified that he hadn't meant there was anything wrong with that and I said "well, today I am going to have lunch with my friend" and strutted off down to the house. And lunch we did (you can check out the venue) while we discussed spring vacation plans:

Mixed berry and turtle cheesecake
The soup of the day was cream of potato and leek and I had a chicken and cashew wrap while my buddy had a Mediterranean panini while we shared a pot of tea. And of course we had dessert - no point of going out to eat unless you indulge yourself. But no we didn't have the Hallowe'en treats as we both had some of those left over with just a few kids coming to the door these days. My phone (which was trying to die as I made my way home across the country) finally succumbed and I couldn't even get it to turn on so I made my way to the Bell store and selected a new 'smart phone' which does take a nice picture of cheesecake wouldn't you say? The only problem is that the thing is much smarter than it's owner as I couldn't figure out how to answer it when my friend called to say she would take the offer of a ride to the visitation tonight. I have since conquered this task - and a good thing too as it is a phone after all. I did end up with a three year contract but I have taken the land line out of the house so will be having a cell for contact with the outside world here and away. And no, it is not correct as the shore captain has been telling folks (including his mother) that we had the phone taken out for not paying the bill - I got tired of paying a $90 bill for telemarketers to harass me. There was no cost for the cell phone and I selected a smallish one for packing buying a bright pink shield for added protection so hopefully will be able to find it without my glasses on. It will be a lengthy learning curve I do believe for all the features. 

We packed a few things this evening - yes we are going on vacation AGAIN as we are heading to DR for a week before the push to gear up for lobstering gets out of control. There are eight (count em 8) boats heading out beginning today who will need to be unloaded and fish shipped in his majesty's absence so the whining has begun - I have my iPod charged up should it get any louder. This trip was my prearranged reward for putting in a month in the cold. Hopefully the weather forecast for next week in Puerta Plata will not be accurate or the precipitation predicted could all fall at night. I do however, have the Kindle charged up in case there should be lots of downtime. Will be in touch upon our return. 

Off to polish up the eulogy notes for the afternoon funeral, then looking forward to supper with good friends tomorrow evening. I should pack one of these days. Hasta

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Safely Home Ahead of Sandy

A quick post to acknowledge that I am safely home again ahead of Hurricane Sandy. There were a few times that it seemed as if I might be stuck along the way but....

Good bye Cambridge Bay
See the door to the cargo section?
Kugluktuk from the air
The plane is bigger than the terminal
Smooth travels in the north as we left Cambridge Bay on time with the airport seen here on the left and headed over for a 'service stop' to Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) about an hour flying time. It's more hilly over that way and a cute little airport. A bunch playing poker on the floor up front near the cargo section, the chance to buy a cute zipper pull which was a pair of beaded kamiks made by an elder who was selling them on the flight down to Yellowknife where there are actually trees. Just time to go through security (yes they actually do security in Yellowknife but I'm told because folks are flying out to places where that's expected)  throughout the north the security consists of "have a good flight" as you walk out the door to the runway, no scanner, no searches, no request for ID (likely as everyone knows who you are) just smiles. My buddy in Iqaluit told me when I questioned this on my trip there that to have a weapon on the plane was considered a positive, if the flight went down it would come in handy for security and obtaining food. Hmm. In to Edmonton where it was snowing as well and over on the shuttle to the hotel. 

A good but short visit from the western daughter and her main squeeze - a very nice lad who gamely tried everything on the menu at Yiannis - you can check out the gallery to see the place and no there was no belly dancing on Monday, just great food with huge servings meaning the kids had supper for Tuesday. 

Always good to see the girl and how well she's doing in her western life. Not that many mothers get to talk about their 2nd year apprentice electrician daughter. 

A late bedtime and a short night as I kept waking up every hour to look at the clock and was finally up before the alarm at 5 am. Down to retrieve my tote box of frozen food (we deal with the hunters coming from up north the front desk clerk told me when I checked in and asked about keeping stuff cool) from the walk in freezer. Over in the shuttle to the airport and then the games began. 

I had been unable to print my boarding pass at the hotel and when I approached the check in, the agent tells me that's because I have a reservation but no e-ticket attached to it. Her solution is that I contact the travel agent (not too friggin likely lady as Top of the World Travel in Yellowknife isn't open at 5:45 am) or buy a ticket. I make eye contact and say slowly and firmly "I - am - going - home - today so if that's what it takes, I'll buy a ticket". She walks me down the line of desks to an agent who I recognize as he solved my problems with the ticket on the way out and he eventually finds part of the ticket (says the portion from Toronto to Halifax wasn't attached) and checks me in, tags my luggage and directs me to oversize bags for my tote pan. Wish I'd gotten his name as he deserves to be recognized for his skills. With only my knapsack I'm off to the lounge where they are already boarding the flight. Onboard I settle in and wait.....and wait. First, the wings have to be deiced, then the hydraulics have to be reset, then it's been long enough to refreeze so the plane has to be deiced again and finally 35 minutes later we take off. I settle in for a broken nap - thank goodness for iPods. I awake to the flight attendant saying she has news for passengers making a Halifax connection. When she approaches my seat she says brightly "you don't have too long a wait in Pearson as the next flight will leave at 2:30 pm as you've missed your 12:30 connection". Thanks a lot! But before we're off the plane we're told again to stop at the desk as we're going to be making a connection and to pick up new boarding passes and hustle to gate 26. I do just that and have time to grab a mint tea at David's Teas as well as some loose tea and do it yourself tea bags. I eat my Canadian North yesterday chocolate chip cookie with my tea for lunch and breathe a sigh of relief as we are airborne. Apparently there was a mechanical problem with another plane and they moved passengers over to this one, meaning with that delay we got to go too. I have a very enjoyable chat with a guy heading in to Happy Valley/Goose Bay to audit The Northern Store and share my decades old Labrador info as we both trade tales of the north we've seen this far. Pretty rugged landing in the winds and drizzle but I'll take it. The son-in-law is waiting for me in the arrivals area, helps me retrieve my luggage (can't believe it made it with me as it was transferred at Pearson, then taken off and put back on the flight) and we're off. I have to borrow a dollar from him to make it across the bridge and on my way. A quick stop at Tim Hortons and a rainy, windy drive home. 

Had trouble getting to sleep, over tired, different time zone and all keyed up. Slept in as the alarm clock was set for pm and then the sorting out begins. I was pleasantly surprised to find the fridge cleaned out - what a romantic the husband is eh? A visit from (one of) the dogwalkers, a chat with the son, a load of laundry, review of mail, putting away the duffel bags, getting out the Hallowe'en decorations, walking the dog and it was time to make supper. A visit from a neighbour as her mother had passed away yesterday so we got the obituary together and emailed to the funeral home, now I'll need to start work on the eulogy. Great lady who we've known since moving to the community so easy to honour her life. 

Thunder and lightening storm as part of this major storm and it seems that in her advanced age the dog has become scared of thunder. Never used to be, you could put her out in a storm and she'd just go in her doghouse but this evening she hid behind the la-z-boy and had to be coaxed out. Bad nerves. Time to get these bones to bed as I have a full calendar tomorrow. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

That's it.....I'm otta here

I am writing a quick update with my bags stacked around me as I wait to pack my modem and head out to the airport. The weather (here at least) looks clear (if not frigid) and I've called Canadian North to be told that 'as of now the flight is on time' so it sounds like all systems are go. Once the day arrives for departure you simply have to make up your mind, pack and go. 

I have mixed feelings about leaving Cambridge Bay as this has been a great experience but I am looking forward to seeing all my fur children and buddies at home and.....as Ahnold would say....."I'll be back" so it's not goodbye, but see you later. I am hoping to stay ahead of the predicted Frankenstorm (media term) heading towards the east coast which is a combo of hurricane Sandy and a midwest winter storm at the same time as high tides so lots of hype. The prediction is for the winds to kick up by Monday night at home and I'm 'supposed' to be in by 4 pm in Halifax so well ahead of it. We shall see. I shall be shedding my winter gear as I go along. 

I had a busy day on my last office day and the feeling that as I was starting to feel like I was making my way, it was time to wind things up. The final night on call was quite a production with many learning opportunities for me and it wrapped with me suturing. Yep, you read that correctly - I got to suture an eyebrow, 1% lidocaine, 5-0 prolene and voila. The NOC with me was patient and gave me the chance to learn (even though it was late and she could've done it in half the time) and although I'll get faster I was quite proud of myself to have learned how to tie the knots and the eyebrow sure looked a lot better when it left. 

Slept in yesterday and then got up to start throwing some things into the duffel bags. Off to have lunch with the lab tech, her husband and some other invited guests. Greek salad, arctic char, red wine and a lovely dessert in their cozy rented place. Decadent. Great conversation for the afternoon and home to get myself together. 

Spent the evening yakking it up with the roommate who although of the younger generation is wise beyond her years. She shared some northern stories as she's been several times to the next place it sounds like I'll be in January. Just waiting for a confirmation email as the phone discussion with the recruiter gave me my choice of the communities in this area. It'll be eight weeks next time so I'll feel as if I'm not so rushed. My roomie also tells me that there is one store for sure in Halifax (several it sounded like) which sell Canada Goose jackets. These are standard outdoor requirements for a Nunavut winter and cost about $800, but last a lifetime so....since Friday was the largest pay deposit I've ever received (minus the half which Stephen Harper took :( in one lump sum, I shall invest. 

So with that it's time to close down the laptop, pack the backpack and put the frozen char and musk ox burgers in the tote. Catch you on the flip side. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eating My Way Out of Town

Tomorrow is my last day of work in the office so I am in the 'eat your way out of here' mode and my diet has thusly not been very balanced this week. It's not as if you're going on vacation and just eating up the perishables then throwing the rest in the freezer. It's either going to be eaten, given or thrown away by the time my flight on Sunday comes. What a quick four weeks this has been - just whizzed by - can't believe I'm already talking about packing.

Amautis are a Nunavut way to travel
In Nunavut when you're talking about packing, you're not necessarily referring to a suitcase - you are likely talking about carrying a child. This might mean in a parka with an amauti, or a packing shirt or vest under a large parka with a cord tied around the waist. I've included a picture taken in Clyde River, Nunavut to show you how they're worn. The method is to lift the baby up under the arms and slide them down with their front facing your back, over your shoulders feet first, then you reach around and pull their feet so their legs wrap around above your waist and they pop their head out or nestle next to your back while you tie the belt underneath them around you or tie a knot in the bottom of the packing shirt or vest and put your parka on. And they are carried this way until they are quite large - a three year old that's half the size of his mother at times emerges from a parka.  Babies usually only wear a diaper next to Mom and a hat for popping out to the weather. They don't usually have snowsuits until they're walking. Little ones aren't carried in the hood even though it sort of looks that way, the hood is for Mom to pull up over her own and the baby's head. I've seen smaller babies carried on the front in snuglis but apparently they can be carried on the back by wrapping them snugly and facing outwards to support their neck and back next to the Moms. 
Gotta love those hats
Pang hat
Sealskin mitts with moosehide palms

And to profile another means of transportation here on the right is a family photo taken through my office window as they were setting off.  I do so wish I had one of these hats. I have a Pang (short for Pangnirtung - in the Baffin region of Nunavut) crocheted hat which is too warm to wear in the Maritimes and really only needed these past few days here so was left at home this initial trip. My Pang hat is black white and brown and looks something like the one on the left. It will accompany me on my next trip up in January for sure and will look great with my new mitts as well as being warm. Mitts you say? What mitts? Well...... these ones on the right. I bought them from a local lady, Monica who sews - they're sealskin with moosehide palms. Very warm as well as pretty and they will come in handy for 'real winter'.

Don't stick your tongue here
How cold has it been this week? Well, it's been -20 c for the past few mornings and it's only going to get colder. Can't you just see the frost coming out of that railing on the left? This is one place you wouldn't try that 'put your tongue on the metal' stunt. Folks here leave their caribou meat or char in a wooden box on the outside of their house starting in October - a big outdoor freezer. It will be like going to the tropics to head home to fall weather. And speaking of the tropics...in this small health centre there are three different staff members who are going to Haiti to do mission work within the next month. One is an ultrasound/xray tech going to set up some new xray equipment for a clinic working for an orphanage that rescues street kids freethekids.org , one is a midwife heading down to manage a  birthing centre for an organization called mamababyhaiti.org and the third is a nurse who has done several trips to Hait for Medical Teams International medicalteams.org so you can check out the groups through the hyperlinks.

I haven't learned much of the local language except koana - pronounced quana (meaning thank you) but I have a list I'm studying. What I have learned is that no is signified by wrinkling up the nose (as if something smelled really bad) which I'm relieved to find out because I thought lots of patients were making faces at me while I was questioning them. And yes is signified by raising the eyebrows (as if something had really surprised you). So you can see it's important to look at the person when you ask them a question. It finally dawned on me last week what was happening when a mother said to me pointedly - after I'd asked her preschooler a couple of times if his ear hurt (without receiving an answer or so I thought) "look - he's telling you no".

5:15 pm
5 p.m.
 It's getting dark quite early now as you can see from the photos taken after work today. The sun hangs low in the sky for quite a while before actually disappearing. I almost got taken out by a skidoo heading down the edge of the street as I snapped the first one.

Well, since I'm second on call and I've already been over once to the Health Centre for a laceration call, I should get this old body to bed. Am I tired or managing? Managing quite well. Even after a long night on call and working the next day I don't feel any worse than at the end of a 12 hour shift so it's all doable for this old nurse. I leave you with the quote of the day:

"Maybe you are here on earth to learn that life is what you make of it, and it's to be enjoyed."
— Dick Sutphen