Monday, February 27, 2012

You can't fix stupid

This set of 'days off' have been well enjoyed. On Friday I made arrangements to have a computer 'built' and as much as I don't want to have to do it, I will spend hours getting programs loaded back on to it again. Sigh. Apparently the new one will be twice as fast with twice as much room (if the CyberGeek tech is to be believed).

Today I took out my (elderly) scanner and printer out so the tech could make them all work together. He made some initial mumurs about a 3 in 1 printer he could sell me but quickly gave up on that when I was firm that wasn't necessary. I noticed a camo clad figure leaving the computer shop out of the corner of my eye as I was listing off what I wanted installed on the new system and realized it was my brother-in-law. I called out a greeting to him and he returned to chat as he is one who thoroughly enjoys stirring the pot he said "how is the boy's new 4wheeler working out?" When I questioned the details as in "it was after the accident with the broken collarbone, it was a NEW one etc?" Apparently the lad had visited his uncle at his camp in the woods on Friday evening with a friend on a new Yamaha 4wheeler but they were 'taking it easy'. My brother-in-law had asked if his father was going to get a chance to have a run on the new machine as the boy has been known to cause some mechancial difficulties to his Dad's machine. That certainly explained why this morning when I asked Gary (yes we are a family who talks to their cats) when he sat in the master bedroom "oh you didn't go out this morning?" a human male voice answered me from the man cave across the hall saying "I gave it a try but I hurt my shoulder lifting the door to the lobster car and gave it up" Good thing I'm not in the habit of going clotheless about the house. After his uncle ratted him out I called the boy on my cell to ask what was going on - he protested that 1) he had hurt himself on a 3wheeler not a 4wheeler so this was much safer 2) he had been on it Friday evening but didn't do anything at all to shake himself up 3) his shoulder was directly work related nothing to do with his recreational dumbness. When I pointed out that I wasn't impressed with him getting a new machine, riding it when injured and that he had to take some self responsibility for causing his problems he protested loudly that I had the answers made up before he got a chance to say anything. Caused me to issue my 'nurse of 35 years experience, mother of an idiot, work as hard as you play and you'll do great, you can't fix stupid tirade and signed off.

In the course of my errand running today I left my rings to be sized (only about $25 each the jewelry store told me) an entire size larger due to the arthritis knuckles I've developed. Not much point of thinking they're going to shrink after two years. I picked up some groceries and memo to self: do not buy milk by the color of the label, but actually read it when purchasing as the Farmers whole milk is red label and the Cooks skim milk is as well. Seems like drinking cream if you're not used to it.

On Saturday my friend and I didn't make it as far as the city but instead enjoyed a scrapbooking day here. We had pots of tea, lobster sandwiches and gingerbread with brown sugar sauce for dessert. AND I managed to complete the travel album from the cruise we took in.....wait for it.....fall of 2008! So I was pumped. Gave me courage to tackle the next one for fall 2009. In the process of clearing up the scrapbooking and computer stuff I managed to purge a great deal of paper so that felt good.

On Sunday I attempted to call first one daughter (voice mail) then another (no answer) until finally I reached the third daughter only to be told "we're talking on Skype that's why we're busy" Kind of made me nervous to think of them plotting something. But the oldest cleared up the mystery tonight when I spoke to her saying they'd been arranging to play some games online together.  News from the Red Deer daughter was there were two babies born last week and both of the Moms were from this county. Mind you there are lots folks  from this province out there but to have two mothers from the same area transplanted from here to there is a bit of a coincidence.

Well, off to bed as 5 a.m. comes early and a bit of weather is predicted (of course) for my morning drive. I already have my 'in between day' planned for me as my online instructor update to new first aid/CPR guidelines is due March 1st. Need more hours in the day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We need to talk

A most productive day if I say so myself, especially if it is measured in domestic tasks as I've made brown bread, lasanga soup, pineapple upside down and roast pork and veggies, couple of loads of laundry, dishes, walked the dog and paid some bills. Not too bad for unpaid employment in my estimation.

I am off to do the first of two night shifts as I managed to convince a co-worker (who doesn't sleep well in the daytime) to switch with me and do the third day shift I'd been scheduled for instead of her night. Hopefully there haven't been many major issues today or the priveledge won't be extended again. If our schedules worked out for trading I'd love to do one 12 hr day shift followed by three 12 hr night shifts. But that would be asking too much of the universe.

There was a planned power outage on Sunday morning for an upgrade and waking up disorientated in the early morning to complete darkness is a bit disconcertaing. Not as annoying as the two cell phone calls which came a few minutes apart - the first from a lobster fishermen who gets the call from the alarm company when the power is cut to the tankhouse and the second from an employee who got up when the power went off and checked out the tankhouse - considering there were only a few hundred pounds in the tankhouse now anyway. The shore captain made his rounds to ensure that all the equipment in both facilities (world headquarters and the satellite office as we like to call them) restarted. Apparently the outage, or the surge with restart was too much for the ancient computer here and it refused to boot up. Sigh. I do so hate starting over with a new system, so much work. In the meantime I am using the small netbook to stay in touch with cyberspace.

I did make it to the writing group that afternoon and had an enjoyable time. The exercise was great and the person who offered the exercise even provided us all with a gift of a journal to write in - how thoughtful! May try it out (minus the journal) on my next cruise presentation. Since it was an hours drive to the meeting I multitasked and ran errands, including a great Frenchy's shop at the same time.

One of the errands was to pick up a new vacuum cleaner at Canadian Tire as the existing one had (according to the inhouse Mr Might Fixit) died. It was particularly disturbing to have to hand over almost $300 of my hard earned money for such a piece of equipment as I don't even agree with doing housework but whaddayagonnado? I did select the PetSmartPro which is supposedly warranteed for five years against succumbing to pet hair. This place will certainly be the warranty test! It has a canister so doesn't require bags at least and a quick run on the livingroom mat filled it immediately. The cats were of course as alarmed about it as the previous model, simply picking up the cord caused them to scatter in three different directions.

The cleaning lady was pleased with it the next day though and that is what really matters. She wrote a cryptic (and alarming to those who depend on her) note after her visit that said "black kitty is sick, we need to talk". When I asked the life partner for clarification he said "I don/t know what she's talking about, he looks the same to me" which I did have to agree with as Stanley purred and expected to have his belly rubbed on the sofa. The previous cleaning lady was NOT a fan of cats and believed that hairballs were "crapping on furniture" no matter how I tried to convince her otherwise so I would've expected such an ominous note from her. As the man of the house said of the note "it doesn't look good" we both looked at each other in alarm. I quickly called for clarification and discovered that the cleaner was worried that Stanley had the flu as he'd twice barfed up his catfood whole immediately after wolfing it down (likely thinking one of the other cats would beat him to the food - as a friend pointed out, a not completely unfounded concern) and then ran quickly to the cat box. We use slicia crystals in a covered litter box and the noise of one of the cats (especially Stanley who throws minerals wildily) visiting there takes some adjusting to as it reminds you of a mining operation the first time you hear it. The cleaner was contemplating calling her daughter who is a veteranarian for feline advice as she was concerned. Oh what a relief - not going to quit. As my friend reminded me "she had a diabetic cat remember? so that wouldn't bother her" Whew.

The temporarily one armed boy captain has managed to get himself together and go haul lobster traps for a full day without incident meaning of either himself or the engine. It was rather rough yesterday morning and with the vibration of the boat the shoulder was 'sore' as he described it  - mind you self induced injuries don't garner as much sympathy as others so he doesn't dwell on it. Apparently the engine didn't over heat so not sure if that is luck or there's (finally) been a permanent fix to the problem.

Speaking of technical problems.....this morning when I woke up the temperatuer in the house was 66 F (it is usually a pretty consistent 72 F) and at first I thought a door had been left open and made a quick feline head count. They were sitting huddled up in the livingroom and there didn't appear to be heat circulating. Then it came to me 'the power outage a few days ago reset the water heaters or circulating system' and sure enough the system wasn't on. A call to the shore captain to ask if he noticed the fridgid temperatures. "Ahh.....nope" The propane fireplace on until the heat circulated and then some baking took care of the coolness.

Had a nice email from a friend who is taking a writing course in the city - not that I'm a city gal but those sorts of experiences without travel make me envious. She is a good writer already so this will spur her onwards. There has been some loose planning around her and two of us local gals getting together on Saturday as I have some urban errands but the long range forecast at this point is iffy. We shall see.

With the completion of my course I feel as if I have at least part of my life back again and so some projects which have been waiting are calling my name on my days off. Scrapbooking here I come.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Back to the 'real world'

A busy week spent playing catch up after two vacations. Not whining as lots of folks don’t even get to take one but it does lead to mountains of laundry, mail, grocery shopping, bill paying and other chores.  Although I’ve been off the past four days, it doesn’t seem like I’m making much headway on the list. One of the exciting tasks however was answering some fan mail from a participant at one of the Scholarship at Sea presentations – good for the ego. 

Directly after returning from the cruise I headed out that evening on another flight and had a full week visiting my buddy, hanging out, checking out the sights and catching up on my sleep and reading. Which relates to the quote of the day here:

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.                              Bertrand Russell 

Good thing I was rested up as the flight was late getting away due to weather and so I missed my connection and had to take a later flight in to the city. The worst part of the flying was that I had developed clogged sinuses the departure day and the final two take offs and landings were excruciatingly painful.  The delays meant an 11 p.m. arrival at the teacher daughters, frantic directions to the location of my clinical placement in the morning and a very short night. 

Up to make my way across increased traffic, due to a transit strike, with a vehicle that was very slow to heat up and thus lane changes were a real lottery. Arrived safely at the health center, which opens at 7 a.m. and already there was a long line of those seeking to access the lab and x-ray departments.  Although I frantically signaled the security guard through the locked glass door, I was ignored. Apparently, patients often try to access the building at 6:55 a.m. Imagine! Finally the team leader arrived and ‘swiped’ me in. I was not expected apparently but she quickly assigned me to one of the RNs. Free labour, is after all, free labour. I felt like an 85 year old as I couldn’t hear out of my left ear and my balance was off if I moved too quickly. Not exactly on my game, thankfully the instructor wasn’t there. She did make a brief appearance in the afternoon to see if I had actually arrived as I’d alerted her to the possibility of weather delays. Apparently I’d copied and pasted the email I’d sent to daughter # 2 about the delay and my instructor was pretty impressed with my closing of “love Mom”.  The day was spent attempting to orientate myself enough to manage for three days but not add too many nonessential facts to this old brain as I have no intentions of actually working there.  A tough balancing act. 

I stopped off to pick up the videos transferred to DVDs and there was an impromptu showing of a quarter of a century previously with baby videos and local scenes. It was such a trip back to be able to see grandparents well as they had been in those days, they certainly loved their grandchildren. A few more tapes surfaced and have been left to be transferred and then I can copy for the movie stars to have their own. Good times, good times. 

Clinical day two was spent under the watchful eye of the instructor so I was glad to have regained my hearing and balance.  The day progressed routinely enough until the final three hours when the wheels came completely off of it. The emergency we had was one we manage in our own workplace so I felt fairly comfortable duffing in, offering suggestions and even barking some directions at others. When the instructor suggested afterwards that I might have been a bit overwhelmed I assured her that I was used to such situations which we handle with 1/3 of the staff and even less resources.  Nothing like leaving on an adrenaline rush, I always say. I stop on the next block for gas and can’t get the car restarted, have to buy a phone card as mine has outdated in all my travels but finally get the car going then. I do manage to make it home to the daughter and son-in-law’s and find them entertaining his dad and stepmom as they’re flying out to Hawaii in the a.m. I think I manage pretty well as by this time….I am not feeling very socially inclined. 

Early the next morning I am ecstatic that the car actually starts and since my final clinical day is Saturday I quietly get myself packed and out of the house….forgetting the lunch I’ve packed and the frozen char I was taking home to the shore captain. The fish can be retrieved on another visit but the lunch led to real problems as the in house Tim Horton’s I’d visited with my instructor the day before is NOT open on the weekends. This meant I ate out of the vending machine (not recommended) to attempt to survive a 12 hour shift. There were a number of major cases during the shift and I served notice that I’d be absconding at 6 p.m. as I had a three hour drive ahead of me and a 12 hr day shift in the a.m.  It was pouring and a really long dark drive home but thankfully no snow. 

Up early again – four days in a row now if you’re counting, as I sure was when the alarm rang at 5:15 a.m. It was a busy day on the inpatient unit where I hadn’t worked for over a month so I was sure glad to see the night shift come in. The next morning sleep in for night shifts was certainly welcome. I busied myself unpacking two sets of suitcases, doing laundry and setting the house back into the routine after we had been abandoned by the cleaning lady who had gone to Cuba for two weeks. The place was ‘man cleaned’ meaning it didn’t look too bad but there was gravel in my socks from walking across the floor. As I puttered about the phone rang and it was a co-worker advising me that the only son had “a bit of an accident on his 4-wheeler, his shoulder was sore and they’d given him a shot and he was in x-ray “. He apparently had been with a crowd of 12 in the interior of the province and pitched to the left off the machine after hitting something. He was wearing a helmet and was sober (not the case with his compatriots) and had to be brought several hours out of the woods on the back of someone else’s 4-wheeler, then drove himself (yes you read that correctly) to the Emergency Dept.  His x-ray showed a fractured collarbone which was somewhat displaced but no other injuries. This meant I was spared the trip to a regional center to surgically repair a shoulder, which pleased the Supervisor who would’ve had to ‘somehow’ replace me for the night shift I was heading in for. His left arm is immobilized in a sling for 4 – 6 wks and he is finding it very difficult to be a one armed Capt.  As his sister commented “just once when you call I’d like to hear you say ‘your brother won the lottery’ but no – it’s another injury!” Good thing he has his mother’s pain tolerance and not the other parent. 

He has had mechanical troubles with the new engine he installed in the boat while we were cruising and it has overheated several times.  Getting in and out of the engine room apparently requires the hired man to pull on the collar of his coveralls from above and the extra hired man (got to take someone else if all you do is sit in the wheelhouse) has to push up from underneath. Good thing he’s tall and thin. Which was the reason that I had to add an extension yesterday on to the purchased sling from the drugstore to fit him as his hand was hanging out as his wasn’t standard size and the clavicle wasn’t being stabilized like it should. I used camouflage patterned fleece and cut a hole for his thumb to stick in to anchor it. Very spiffy.  As I tucked his empty sleeve into his pocket today when he left he said “oh, I just use that one to wave at everyone with”. 

So, tomorrow there is a writing group meeting and I’m looking forward to reconnecting there. With my shift schedule it’s rare that I can make two meetings in a row. Unfortunately my switched shift this set means I’ll be doing three day shifts and only one night. Sigh.Speaking of work related issues (which I truly don't wish to on my days off) we're into the countdown provincially of wearing colorful scrubs as we'll be switching to white tops, black bottoms April 1st. One of the errands on my list was to try on the samples brought by the interfacility delivery van and THAT was an experience. Thank goodness the ward clerk helped me or I'd still be there. It turns out that according to the various styles I am either a medium, large or extra large size. I did manage to find three tops, two pants and a warm up jacket with only $15 of my own $ thrown in so that part was enjoyable.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Goodbye cruise, hello February

Did you enjoy yourself? Was it a good cruise? What kind of questions are those? Posed by someone who hasn’t cruised for sure. We had a wonderful time on the Emerald Princess where our every wish was anticipated and granted. Details as follows:
Day 1 – Uneventful flight to Philadelphia (rocking chairs in the airport if you can believe it) and then on to Florida and milder temperatures. Over to Brazil, a café in a mall for a surprisingly good supper and across to the Bank Atlantic Center for the Bruins/Panthers game which runs to an overtime period and shootout. We have great seats (thanks to the shore captain) just five rows behind the players benches at center ice.

Day 2 – Get caught up on email and then off to board the Emerald Princess which is fairly efficient so we find ourselves in our stateroom and meet Saul our Mexican cabin steward who spoils us. A quick planning meeting with the Australian (very young) Asst. Cruise Director who is pleased to find out I’m low maintenance. A great meal of prime rib with flourless chocolate cake for dessert in the DaVinci dining room and life is good.

Princess Cays
Day 3 – Princess Cays so we book a snorkel excursion with Capt. Jimmy out to the reef and the visibility and numbers of new fish do not disappoint. The water temperature is coolish and explains why some of the passengers are wearing wet suits. The shore captain is already discussing procuring ‘tommy johns’ as the short sleeved, legged suits are known. Rita the assistant gets us each a 'sea biscut' which are sand dollaresque like creatures. We check out the beach, delicious BBQ, stalls and catch a tender back to the ship.  Another great supper and we collapse.

Day 4 – Up early for the 9 am Blog 101 presentation which is eagerly received by a small audience without  technical or presentation issues so a good feeling. The remainder of the sea day to enjoy so tie in the sun on the deck, tea at 4 pm (for me). We get gussied up for formal night and a stop at Vines, the wine bar for tapas (me) and sushi (he) before supper at the Crown Grille.  The steak house is amazing, the service fantastic and we are waddling by the time we leave. We take in the late show of Motor City Musical and the singers and dancers are good.

Day 5 – Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Driving on the left side of the road, right sided steering and wild senior female drivers) we share a van with a young couple crewing on an expensive yacht who get dropped at Kmart and we head over to Coki Beach.  Great visibility, schools of fish (many new to us) and a beautiful beach. Then we wander over to Coral Gardens to visit the underwater aquarium, stingray, mangrove, turtle and shark displays. There is even a sea lion show and wonderful reef exhibits. A great way to spend the afternoon before we check out the duty free, buy a book from a retired mariner and head back on board.  Vines to enjoy some rose, and a wonderful dinner in the Michelangelo dining room with great staff.

Champagne Reef
Day 6 – Roseau, Dominica. A full day spent with Benjamin our cab driver who takes us snorkeling on Champagne Reef where it feels as if you’re swimming in a glass of sprite and there are large schools of many different kinds of fish. Off to Trafalgar Falls where Naithan our intrepid guide takes us on a hike up through the hot and cold springs. We shop the craft stalls, check out the fruit/vegetable market and decide that this island is a place we’d like to spend more time. The drink of the day is a 24K margarita and life is good.

Day 7 – St. Geroges, Grenada where we’ve visited before, it’s showering and we only have a partial day so we opt for a cab and head over to Morne Rouge beach. We attempt snorkeling but the shore captain only sees one fish so we summon our cabbie back early and head to the waterfalls. Here we see some jumping displays, buy some spices and have some photo ops. We check out the International Café for treats (highly recommended) and veg for the afternoon. A wonderful Italian meal with other Canadian guests.

Day 8 – Kralendyk, Bonaire – arrive at noontime and it’s a breezy day with showers. We catch a ride over to Klein Bonaire with Capt. Mike (after he gets the speedboat started) and enjoy a different area of the reef than we saw last time. The visibility isn’t great with the roughness but we still see lots of large and different fishes.  We grab a cab and head out for the southern part of the island, visiting slave huts and the solar salt flats with Cargill Salt Co, then Lac Bay to see the windsurfers before heading back through a tropical downpour to the ship. We make a quick decision to see if we can get reservations at Sabattinis and are graciously invited in to enjoy a sumptuous five course Italian meal.  Very elegant and highly recommended.

Day 9 – Oranjestad, Aruba -  we check out the wi-fi outside of Dunkin Donuts and get caught up on the news then head back to plan adventures. It’s apparently not easy to visit the southern end of the island as cabs are $45 per hour per person so we opt instead to catch the bus to the beach to snorkel. A British couple from the P&O ship Azura is docked next to us and we spend a great afternoon snorkeling in the rain and seeing large schools of fish with decent visibility. We catch the bus back, grab some drinks and nachos, say goodbye to our new friends and even get a chance to shop the craft stalls as we make our sailaway deadline.

Day 10 – another 9 a.m. presentation this one The Art of Blogging and it’s a bit better attended with more interaction. Sun deck and e-books for the afternoon. Final formal night and lots of great conversation at a wonderful supper.

Day 11 – a final presentataion on Creative Writing and this one is held in the conference room as the theatre is being readied for the culinary show. A small but loyal group and the topic goes very well. Watch the movie Bridesmaids in the afternoon – hilarious, my daughter was right – and give Saul his birthday gift of an Aruba t-shirt. Final supper and then the crew show where our wine steward Dragan is an amazing drummer it turns out as we watch is drum solo.

Day 12 – disembarkation and over to the Premiere Hotel which is a small family owned facility that lived up to its 950 positive Trip Advisor reviews. We make our way to the grocery store as we have an efficiency room – large, looking over the beach – to stock up.  Lounge chairs by the pool after the walk.

Day 13 – start the day with a stroll to Starbucks and then check out the beach for a while. An early supper at Greek Islands Taverna – it did not disappoint from last year – where we share some portions and YES the lamb chops ARE that good, Greek salad, calamari, pita and dips with a bottle of Greek wine and even baklava for dessert. Ahh, crash early that night.

Le Tub for supper
Day 14 – over to Port Everglades to retrieve the snorkel gear bag which didn’t get picked up when we disembarked and that was quite the adventure. Lots of security issues, entry through the crew check in etc. but we escaped and made it back to the hotel to plan our excursion. Take the water taxi down to Hollywood – think beach blanket movies – which is a 60s time warp complete with boardwalk, kitschy stores and lots of eateries. We opt for supper at Le Tub which apparently Oprah says has the best burgers in the world – excellent and huge portions – with great margaritas and then we catch the boat back. It’s late and chilly by the time we are deposited back near the hotel at 8 p.m. but what a great time.

Day 15 – a final morning in Ft. Lauderdale to do some swimsuit shopping at the stores, have some dermabrasion at the beach – it’s really windy and the surf is up before heading out to pack.  A very intense security clearance which includes a full body scan, shoes off and barked directions and uneventful (which is good) flights to Philadelphia with a slight delay and then back to the land of snow. A wintery drive home arriving by 3 a.m. to be greeted by the fur children and collapse into bed.
What a great time was had by all, now to adjust to cooler climes.