Thursday, May 31, 2012

Post Montreal

Home again at 2 am this morning and had to tell the dog who I was. She did actually wake up in the mudroom but didn't get off the mat. Nice to know that she's such a watch dog, but at least she was pleased to see me. Gary decided that he would return to the side of the bed where he'd been sleeping and so I lost the feeling in my feet with his 21 lb carcass on me and took a while to settle in. Today I'm having one of those catch up days. Read all the newspapers from my absence, paid bills online, caught up on emails and phone calls, downloaded the conference handouts, walked the dog, organized the vacation plans for daughters # 1 and 3 as they will be visiting Horse Thief Lodge - how could you not enjoy a stay there eh?

The tropical medicine conference was great (as expected) and we found we're beginning to catch on to the language of it all. It was a great stay in Montreal despite protestors making it a bit uncertain to go out at night and a huge rainstorm which flooded the downtown and closed the shops. Not to mention a horrific story of a murder in the city and various body parts being mailed - good thing we didn't know that while we were there. I found a pair of spiffy sneakers at the Eaton Center and we had some good meals. My travel mate and I always enjoy ourselves and got caught up on our very busy lives with each other. There was a lab tech from Newfoundland who was a great sport as well as a local NP who in checking out Medicins Sans Frontieres and my buddy and I befriended a Doc from Chicago who was most interested in the fishing/hunting/redneck life we lead out east, so a good social experience.

I was disappointed to have to leave the last session early to catch my flight. What with all the construction and traffic it took over an hour to get to the airport and I came close to missing my plane. I gave the Lebanese cab driver a good tip and ran for it - dropped my suitcase at the express bag drop, rushed through security (unfortunately found myself behind a family of four - two kids under five) and off for the gate, being the last to board. The ridiculousness of having to fly first to Toronto and then back east was only a part of my frustration. But at least I didn't have to seat select the same seat for both flights as I did on the way up just to make sure that I could find my way in my sleep deprived state. A stop in Pearson which was just long enough to have a sandwich, check emails and move on. It was an extremely foggy drive home with a fair bit of traffic for after midnight.

Got caught up on the news with CBC radio as I made my way home and was reminded of a recent episode of Spark on that channel. There was a piece about point of view glasses which apparently you can film what you're seeing and download them online - only $300 a pair or so. A glimpse into the future (pun intended). There was also the mention of a social roboticist (now there's a job title for you) from Carnegie Mellon University who wants us to embrace robots, hmmm.

The men folk are back from the last day of landing lobster traps and are sun (fog) burnt as well as wiped out. There are generalized local parties celebrating the beginning of unemployment insurance and camping season but in this household it simply means an early bedtime and switching to another seafood species.

Back to work nights for the weekend so I have tomorrow to continue on with my R&R and the laundry as the weather forecast isn't as drizzly as today. And of course to pack as the shore captain and I are heading off for a business trip/shopping depending on which one of us you're describing.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

No shoddy dogwalkers here

So, the computer is apparently virus free as the shore captain retrieved it and even reconnected it again in the man cave but....since I am sitting in Pearson Airport in Toronto I am using my netbook. Just finished a club sandwich and sweet potato fries in the effort to keep myself awake. Worked three - 12 hour nights and didn't sleep today at all. Seemed like a good idea when I planned the flight but....

I felt a bit guilty leaving the dog on her run but I passed the dogwalker on her bike (a recently retired coworker) so I know she'll have lots of attention. She dropped down the other evening to meet the dog as I was all for leaving a note but as she said "what kind of shady dogwalking business do you think I run?" The dog will of course walk with anyone who picks up the leash so it's a moot point. It was a drizzly day so without the farewell canine walk on my part I was actually able to get home from work, do the final prep and out the door for the drive to the airport in an hour. Uneventful commute / check in and thank goodness for earplugs, neck pillow and an airplane nap.

Yesterday when I arose from my day of slumber to see if the garage had checked out my high mileage vehicle I was pleased to learn that the sensor was likely age related and to just "keep an eye on it" so I started making plans as to how I would retrieve my wheels. This meant I needed a ride to the main highway to meet coworkers but....I received a call at 5 pm from the life partner advising that he was heading home shortly as he had to meet the Exec Director of his fishing association as there was a meeting in town. Only problem with this turn of events was the timing as he needed to be there at 5:30 p.m. I have to meet coworkers at 6:20 or so and the boy captain was no where to be found. Mister suggests that he'll go up to the road early so I can get ready. Only problem with this idea as it turned out was that the Exec Director being very familiar with his tardiness had quoted a 5:30 time as she knew he wouldn't show until at least 15 min. later. So there I am sitting in the truck at the main road  - in my pajamas, needing a shower, nothing to eat and still have to get home and remedy all of the aforementioned in 10 minutes. As you can guess I wasn't a happy camper. Himself at one point says "I can get out and wait, the bugs aren't that bad". I replied with just 'a look' so he remained still. Finally his ride arrives and she puts the window down to chat but....I can't figure out how to get the window down or open the door in the truck as I rarely drive it, let alone have no time or patience to be sociable so I just drive away. My mother would not have been impressed with those lack of social skills.

The night was....interesting as most of them are with my penchant for attracting unusual situations - which is the case in my life generally. Certainly not boring. I will only be back to work my two night shifts and we're off on a business trip (for him) shopping (for her) to Portland and Boston. So not much whining about work required.

It is a rather frantic time of year with it being the last week of our lobster season and all. On some levels nice to be removed from it. This was a rough week however as the shore captain received a call from one of the companies he exports to and there were $10,000 worth of dead lobsters in the shipment he sent the first of the week. He thinks it was a combination of very warm water temperatures, added fresh water from a huge rainfall in the seawater which reduces oxygen in the water, long warm commute on the transport and perhaps some stressed lobsters which started the die off. He has never had more than an occasional dead lobster in the 23 years he has been shipping crustaceans. He is putting in a chiller in the tankhouse so the longer term solution is at hand was a discouraging day. He's bounced back now again as of course fishermen, and seafood businessmen have to be eternal optimists.

I am heading on to meet my colleague in Montreal for the conference and hopefully avoid the student protests which have been going on for months now. They can be as upset as they wish as long as it doesn't interfere with my plans. Actually I am having trouble drumming up a great deal of sympathy as they have some of the lowest tuition in the country and we have the highest. But at any rate it sounds as if the situation is being resolved somwhat.

Soon time to board and so I am off. Details on the parasites later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Parasites - techie and otherwise

I am updating this blog on the shore captain's laptop - yeah you read that right, he (who doesn't really qualify as a techie) has his own laptop. And a good thing that is as I have toasted the desktop with some kind of parasite or virus. Sigh. All these years and somehow I goofed trying to download a family tree program as mine was outdated. I broke down a few moments later and paid for the 'real deal' but it was too late as I'd already 'picked something up' so I'm hopeful that the shop will be able to disinfect the system. Apparently they keep 'running programs' but I haven't heard a prognosis yet so am still hopeful...

Spoiled Mother Loot
To recap on all the news since Mothers Day I must first say that I celebrated a very lovely day with phone calls from two daughters, lovely cards and a homemade necklace and......a beautiful bouquet of roses from the only son - and not just a bunch from Sobeys - nice ones from a real florist. Although they are gorgeous they ARE a bit unsettling as he's never done anything like this before causing me to consider 'what has he done?' I'm thinking however that he is in a rather new relationship with a girl who likely provided her mother with the same gift and he wanted to impress her (and thus me) with them. He had picked them up on Saturday and didn't know what to do with them so took them to a buddy's place as he "couldn't leave them in the truck" only to have to wait until they got up to retrieve them so that was a quite authentic part of the story.

We also enjoyed an evening out that night to see a comedian Lorne Elliott and he was really funny. Imagine, two dates out with my husband in as many days - first an ice cream at the local drivein and then an evening at the theatre. In addition I won a $25 gift card to the movies as one of the daily draws for nurses week so even more dates in our immediate future.

In fact the entire set of days off were wonderful. We began with supper at a local chef's place and had (of course) a wonderful meal. The wife is a big animal fan and it was a bit like a episode of Animal Planet. When the door was opened there were four small furry bodies who sprang out through much like those pretend snakes in a can we used to have as kids. In addition to the German Shepherds she breeds (in the enclosed yard) on the premises there are two Yorkies (one who is able to jump above your waist from a standing position) a teacup Chihuahua and a 12 year old dauchsund. It was a challenge not to step on them as they were all smaller than our cats. Speaking of which there were two large cats, only one who visited when he felt like it as well. What with baking, gardening (cleared flower beds, rescued azaleas from the thorns and they promise to repay me by blooming shortly) reading my Canadian Nurse journal, finishing research on a new project I'm planning, writing a story for my collection of family yarns, made a vacation photobook, hung laundry out on my renovated clothesline and then picked it up out of the ditch as it was very windy.... it was a full set of days off.

This recent set of days off (and of course days off are always enjoyable) didn't go quite as smoothly. I started Saturday off with a visit to the Garden Club plant sale (scored a collection of shade plants) a few yard sales and then a Frenchys shop and groceries. I  arranged to have lunch with a coworker who is undergoing cancer treatments. She had extensive surgery in Feb, 27 radiation treatments and is now half way through her chemotherapy. She says she has a rotten week, a so so week and then a good week and has to do it all over again. We discussed that I likely could do chemo as she well remembered how sick I was during three of my four children's pregnancies. I also took her homemade supper for the family of cooked lobsters, potato salad and cheese biscuits. We had a great catch up visit. She is a real fighter.

After making my way home that afternoon I called a friend and the dog walked us. We were just getting ready to have a cup of tea and I checked phone messages to find a desperate plea from a coworker supervising. I called back, accepted the night shift (for time and a half - my name isn't Florence Nightingale) and was off. It was a shift where we all more than earned our money (yep even me making the overtime) for sure. I napped for two hours in the morning and headed over to my sisters to visit as my niece and husband were down with their children. I wanted to deliver the copies of the restored DVDs and gave my great niece a copy of the flower girl photobook I'd created. A summer get together when my other niece is posted 'home' again is in the planning. I stopped at a coworkers house on the way as although she moved in last year I'd never seen it. It was full of teenagers, friends and lots of activity. I remember those days well. I needed a cup of tea to hold me over to drive home. The remainder of the weekend was sunny and warm and I (as well as lots of others locally) have the pink skin to prove it. My trip to the spa means that you can see my pink skin now!

So today was a rainy back to work and it was quite a welcome back - nuff said! With a sick call one of the positives was that I got switched to a night shift instead of a day tomorrow. No arguing from this night owl except that the cleaning lady is booked for the morning so no sleeping in and I must get my act together and pack for the McGill conference as I leave directly after my last night shift. Hopefully the student protests in Montreal will not crimp our tourist style as we participate in as I've been describing it the 'parasite conference'. Off to make a lunch for the boy captain to go lobstering in the a.m. Later

Friday, May 11, 2012

We've agreed to disagree

Up early and off to a meeting - more on that later - and a chance to put together the nurses week gifts for the sistas in my union local. They turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself and were well received. Nurses often hear about what went wrong, how much they cost, if something wasn't done, if there's been a complaint - founded or otherwise - but not as frequently when they are appreciated.

Today was a time of discussion with management and....we've (or at least I) have agreed to disagree about funding for continuing education. The budgets for the two facilities within our health authority are separate so I am not in a position to comment on who was funded from anothers budget. That being the case, I make no apologies for affecting morale or commenting publicly about this situation as the whole issue suffers from lack of full disclosure.  The poster with a note from management instructing those interested to state what they were willing to cover does not lead one to deduce that most of the costs would have been covered. No one from our facility requested to attend except myself and I only requested one day off and covered the other costs - obviously we (me) are not needy enough. Now as to whether a request would actually have led to covering the cost of accommodation and registration is a bit murky. The situation reminds me of those television commercials with the kids being given either a pony (my little pony) or a truck (cardboard cut out) while another child is given a live pony / driveable truck and when they protest are advised "I said it was a pony / truck you didn't ask if it was real". My instincts tell me that despite the manager being a well known champion of continuing education with the present climate of fiscal restraint, being above budget on 'required' for department education and this being a conference not a course that it would have been a stretch. And it's as easy for a staff member to say "I would have asked" as it is for management to say "I would have given it to you" as there is no chance of being called on it. But whaddayagonnado when confronted with "you didn't ask, no one asked" as a response? When I relayed to the membership the "no one asked" response the reply was "it wasn't clear". And that is most certainly something I agree with. Time to leave that topic.

I was delighted to find that the Tide pods had arrived at my local grocery store. And yes I am an 'early adopter' as I snapped them up with only a sideways glance at the cost. Convenience sometimes trumps bargains and as I live with two males who (occasionally) wash their work clothes I am tired of detergent all over the washer, floor and cupboard so this is the solution. I'm pleased to report that the product does work as advertised. I stopped to Frenchy shop which even with prices rising is still cheaper than therapy. Found a neighbour and discovered that she'd been retired from the bank since October - can never be accused of being up on the news - and one of the kids teachers so we caught up on what they were up to now and the state of education. Then rewarded myself with a skor flurry as the Dairy Treat has opened for the season. Ate it on the waterfront while reading the paper as I waited for the time of my massage appointment to arrive. Nice chat with an acquaintance to catch up on the news. Ah life's small pleasures. Now I'm off to open the mail which looks suspiciously like it contains some Mothers Day loot.   

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Nurses Week All

As nurses week winds to a close I am making final preparations for a gift to our union sistas. Times are a bit tough what with negotiations beginning for a new collective agreement as the government has thrown down the gauntlet that there will be no major raises such as those awarded to another nursing union last year. We have begun to wear the mandated white top/black pants uniforms this week with the accompanying angst of fit, loss of orders, logo under the armpit instead of centered and stain magnet. They are a bit sheer so I have sourced some undershirts in the name of modesty. Well, actually I tried to order a Tilley tank top and it was HUGE so has been returned for exchange. The travel underwear (two pair will take you around the world) was a hit though and I haven't even traveled further than work. Much better deal than $9 disposable underwear - and no, not kidding, people actually buy those things.

So I headed in to the NENA (National Emergency Nurses Affiliation) conference last week and managed to pick up a dress for myself along the way, as well as some kitty gifts in the form of a cardboard scratching board and a laser pointer to exercise the 23 lb. Gary. I stopped at Frenchy's as well and so felt the retail therapy had been a success. The conference was as good as advertised and the presentations, displays and discussions were a great learning experience. There were participants from Alaska, Chicago, Philadelphia and all the provinces and territories. There were also attendees from another hospital within my health authority who had their registration and accommodation paid while we were not subsidized so now you know why I have asked for a meeting with management to discuss why we have no funding but.....

Arrived home to find the baby daughter visiting for the weekend and only time for a quick visit before heading back to work the next day. Monday was spent doing an education session on compassion fatigue (look it up it is a real syndrome) and running errands/paying bills/Frenchy shopping - picked up a camouflage suitcase, but more on that later. Three of us went out to supper at Lothar's Cafe that evening before work and it sure made for a long night to have been so busy all day.

After a rainy day snooze following nights I arose and we headed off to have supper at a nearby chef's house. They are European and she is an extreme animal fan as in volunteering at the animal shelter, breeding german shepherds and dachshunds (no not with each other), rescuing strays etc. As we drove in the yard the sounds of large dogs echoed loudly from the shed and enclosure but as she opened the door it was if one of those spring loaded cans of fake snakes had the top taken off of it as two yorkshire terriers, a teacup chihuahua and a 12 yr old dachshund all came flying vertically and horizontally in our direction. One of the yorkies was actually able to jump higher than my waist repeatedly from a standing position - quite the high jumper. The concern was not stepping on animals which are about 1/2 the size of our cat. They eventually settled and as we sat to have supper in the sun room the yorkies suddenly began yipping and acting up. The lady of the house said "oh look at what they see" and pointed to two ducks walking up the shoulder of the highway. When we laughed she said "they've never seen them before, they're from Edmonton" as they had been brought home by their western daughter after a custody battle following a relationship breakup. The conversation turned to the winter spent in Belize by the host and his description of his participation in a medical mission of being the 'head doctor' and when questioned whether this meant a psychiatrist or the chief he clarified that he measured visual acuity and did head checks for lice. The mission provided free health checkups, hygiene and school supplies for all. Ah, one of these years. Only two more weeks before a colleague and myself head out to the tropical health conference in Montreal. Can't wait. 

When I mentioned having scored a suitcase to deliver my medical supplies to third world countries in our host was adamant that he would never use a second hand piece of luggage after his travel partner had only narrowly escaped the previous year being charged for cocaine smuggling. Apparently someone had given him a suitcase belonging to the son of a friend of a friend who apparently was a cocaine user. The very sensitive measurements of customs picked up miniscule amounts of the illicit substance and almost caused his friend great grief but he was able to talk his way out of the situation. As well, when I told a coworker about the camo suitcase she mentioned being careful of using camouflage in locations near military bases as her son's camo suitcase was detained in Hawaii for just that reason. Life is so complicated. 

Was ever so pleased a package on the doorstep meaning Paderno had honored their 25 year guarantee and replaced the kettle which was of better quality than the one which had rusted out as 'that model isn't being made anymore' which likely is code for 'it rusted out and we stopped producing it'. Certainly worth the $10 postage to have a better quality kettle.

A nice day today spent running errands, lunch and a visit at a friends, chat with the western daughter, getting wrapping / cards together for the nurses week gifts and a call to friend in another part of the province I hadn't heard from for a while. So, since I have a case of social jetlag I'm sure - I'll leave you to discover just what that is through this link.

as I'm off to realign my circadian rhythms.