Thursday, September 27, 2012

House girls and green grapes

Finally a few moments to myself to post some details. The past two weeks have been pretty frantic as I attempt to launch myself north. And tomorrow is my last day here for a while so I'm hoping to not have too many last minute details to settle. 

As I tried to prepare for my departure I worked some of my shifts, took time off to attend to details, got involved in a union wrestling match about schedules and budget reductions, had the car serviced, got a haircut, a massage, ordered my support hose, enjoyed supper at Lothars Cafe as he is retiring, attended a wedding, hosted a going away party, Frenchy shopped for a couple of uniform tops, met with someone who has moved out from Cam Bay in June and phoned another who left three years ago and got the low down on narwhales, musk ox and bears, switched my cell phone to a national plan, cancelled my landline as I refuse to pay over $90 per month for telemarketers to harass me and reserved a modem from Polarnet in Cambridge Bay so that I can continue to stay in touch. Oh yeah and packed for work and play for four weeks in a northern climate into two duffel bags and a knapsack - kind of like solving a puzzle. I'm dizzy just reading this paragraph. 

On my last night shift my coworkers very generously brought food and gifts to ensure I had a proper send off. Only problem was that the pace of the shift didn't allow for such socializing so we just 'made' the time and took about 15 minutes to graze and enjoy my presents. The female physician on call dropped by and said "I'm surprised you still have the energy to do something like this at your age" which I took as a compliment as her social skills tend to be a bit rough. Speaking of rough....a very annoyed and confused elderly patient was wailing on me with a kleenex box as I tried to adjust her IV and the nursing assistant firmly took her hand and said "you don't do that, you don't hurt the nurse she's helping you" to which the patient replied "oh I thought she was that young one". The nursing assistant says "no, she's been working here for 52 years so she knows what she's doing'. This completely settled things and I had no further trouble. Felt like that many years by the morning for sure. 

How convenient!
The going away party which we held at our house was a great success, much like 'the old days' where we had about 40 attending, lots of food and laughs and good times had by all. One of the 'former' nurses came and was likely one of the few who didn't recognize a staff member who has worked with us about six years. This LPN was helping with some chores in the kitchen and finally the vintage nurse says "I thought you'd made all kinds of money and hired a house girl" which cracked us all up. My concert going partner arrived and took over kitchen duties - she has to keep moving - so I suggested that she make margaritas for the guests (not me after the last session I had indulged in) and she became a bar tender production line. After a while the vintage nurse returned to pronounce that "the blonde is doing a great job but you should fire that French house girl as she's not worth what you're paying her". Good times, good times. I received a wonderful collection of gifts from a scarf, hand warmers, journal, cash, lotion to.....a pair of fleece onsies complete with trap door, modelled here on the right. I think they are actually too warm so I'll reserve them for my next trip north in Cambridge Bay winter, but they sure are what's required. 

I attended a Red Cross Disaster Team meeting last night at the community room in Sobeys and as my travel mates waited afterwards in the car, I rushed around picking up some provisions. As I trotted by the produce section with a loaf of bread in my hands I suddenly felt myself flying through the air and landing on my knees and right hip. A very startled shopper who was selecting bananas came over and said "my goodness are you okay?" so I gingerly picked myself up off the floor and took note of a squashed green grape which had caused my take off and limped off towards to the checkouts, not noticing my flattened bread. As I made my way out to the parking lot I was a bit flustered and started approaching blue sedans and peering into the interior to see if they were my neighbour's vehicle. As I finally located the car I asked the occupants "were you punishing me for holding you up? I'm pretty sure that blonde over there in that blue car is calling 911 right now" They assured me that they hadn't noticed me being a voyeur and that I should get in now. 

I spent an enjoyable afternoon today with my former babysitter and neighbour with her seven month old son as they came over for a visit. All of the babysitter's we had have now had children of their own so we haven't discouraged any of them in that regard. He is such a happy, smiley baby and travels so well. Gary the cat (who incidentally weighs more than Connor) was absolutely terrified of the baby and fled if he moved a finger or made the slightest noise, not even food would tempt him out. 

I called the health centre this afternoon to announce my arrival on Sunday and ask if anyone needed anything brought in but with the time zone difference I had left to walk the dog before it was completely dark by the time the NIC (Nurse in Charge) called me back and of course the human answering machine couldn't remember her name but assured me that she would call again tomorrow. Not a big deal except that the health centre isn't open on Sunday and I have no idea where the housing is. Getting excited to see the first born daughter in less than two days on the way through, nice twist to the travel nursing. Last full night in my bed so I should take advantage of it. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

CamBay Here I Come

The news of the day is.....I am running away from home. When I mentioned this to the only son he said "yeah, I heard something about that but I wasn't sure if it was true" so I assured him that it was in fact the truth. I said "I'm going to be able to visit your sister out west on the way in and out" and he said "yeah she mentioned something about that but you and Dad travel quite a bit so I wasn't sure." He and the girlfriend were discussing the situation and she says "yeah Mom threatens to do that all time but I don't think she will" but he apparently assured her that his mother was the type that might actually make good on the threat. 

So, where I am running away to and for how long? I have received a leave of absence from my position here and been approved as a casual RN and am heading north to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to work as a CHN (pronounced chin)  otherwise known as a Community Health Nurse in a Community Health Centre (previously called Nursing Stations) for the month of October. I fly to Edmonton, Yellowknife and then in to Cambridge Bay. You can Google it and find it's a town of about 1400 people on the Northwest Passage (think Amundsen and Franklin) with a couple of stores, arena, curling rink, seasonal pool as well as muskox, polar bears, arctic char and more. It is the capital of the Kitikmeot region on the western edge of Nunavut at the top of the world. Should be some good pictures. Can't wait, getting excited and a bit nervous now, especially when I look at some websites like this link or the maps and photo below:

And yes, that is snow forecast for tomorrow in CamBay and zero is a popular number:

Lately I've been spending some time with my friend who is planning the wake for her husband tomorrow. I can't even imagine how I would manage if this were me. We've walked the dog, shared some meals and a few tears while generally trying to sort a very unsortable situation out. She is a very tough cookie but I am glad that if this had to happen it wasn't while I was unreachable in the north next month this time.

Enjoyed a family BBQ as we celebrated my baby sister's birthday when both of her daughters were able to get down with their families. It was the usual raucous affair with my great nephew stepping in his cousins plate of supper :) Good times, good times.

As you can imagine I have a loooonnnnngggg to do list which seems to grow, not get shorter. Today I think I conquered the cell phone / land line phone issue when I visited the local phone centre, just have to call customer service. It looks like I can get local minutes, unlimited long distance and texting on my cell for less than our land line - the bonus will be NO telemarketers. It really doesn't make sense for each of us to have a cell phone AND the land line at $85 per month, considering how much we'll actually be here. I have a few things to sort out here - getting the car serviced next week while I'm working (reminded me of the eager young lad at the gas pumps who asked if I wanted the oil checked and offered that he usually let his get to E before adding any) I already have the cleaning lady and dog walkers lined up - having my priorities straight at least.

I have such a learning curve ahead of me I should be training for high altitude work. Off to study my Nunavut Immunization Guide. I guess I should also study my language guide too come to think of it as the Inuinnaqtun dialect is spoken in CamBay and Kuglutuk,

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Unpackers? My niece (and family) have moved back to the province from Ottawa and she mentioned that the unpackers would be arriving on Thursday as they're moving into their PMQ (military housing) this week. Unpackers? I could sure have used those in my move to the new house. What about bringing in the groceries and putting them away? How about the laundry off the line, folded and in the closets and bureaus. I will have to ask her how the unpackers worked out for her at the BBQ we're having this weekend. 

I had a rather unpleasant encounter with Amazon today as I had downloaded a new novel to my Kindle entitled The Light Between Two Oceans. It sounds like a good read and I was pleased with myself until about ten minutes after I'd spent the $16.22 and downloaded it to my Kindle only to receive an email from advertising it on their best seller list for $11.99. Do the math and you can see that I paid $4.23 more than that. When I did live chat with the 'help' feature April Lyn told me that 1) the price I paid was Canadian 2) I received the emails quoting a lower American price as I bought books from Amazon 3) there were duties, tariffs and taxes in various countries which set the price. I was very unimpressed and told her that with the Canadian dollar at par with the US dollar I was being majorly ripped off, that I didn't wish to receive any more emails taunting me after I'd been stupid enough to pay more for the same book and they could all take a flying leap. My nerves. 

Actually, that wasn't the only unpleasant encounter as I also took Stanley and Gary for a checkup. The local vet has hired a young, blonde, very sincere vet to work with her. She advised that Gary's obesity (he gained 3 lbs since his last checkup to make 22 lbs of cat) is not just about appearances but his health. She has prescribed a weight loss regime and was very firm about it. She vaccinated both felines and I put Gary back in the large cardboard carrier. Unfortunately (and likely due to his weight) the handle on the carrier broke so I took Stanley out to the car, leaving him at the desk in the clinic. When I returned for him, a large friendly dog was sniffing the box. I put the carrier in the car and started for home, noticing a funky odour. Yep, when I went to take mister out of his cardboard carrier you guessed it - one large cat turd, footprints all over the bottom and a very distressed Gary shot out. My nerves.

To end the post with sad news is not perhaps the best way but it is important to honour a good friend who lost his battle with health problems this evening. He was such a fighter that it's hard to believe he has finally slipped away. His sense of humour and dry wit will certainly be missed, as well as his technical assistance. Thinking of his family of course. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

THE BOSS touched us!

Although it's been over a week since it happened, my friend and I are still basking in the glow of the realization that Bruce Springsteen touched us! He looks REALLY good (even up close) for an almost 63 year old man. Somehow, and we're not really sure how, we ended up in the VIP pit just in front of the stage and for two short gals it was wonderful not to worry about the 6 ft tall guy with the cowboy hat who invariably comes to stand before you in such situations. 

To recap...I slept after my last night, while my fitness friend taught her exercise class, shopped for groceries and did her housework. Then we were off, making our way to the city by 7 pm. I had a coupon I'd scored online for $10 off at the Body Shop so we headed into MicMac Mall to use that. One thing led to another and before we knew it....two ladies who don't necessarily consider themselves shoppers had laid down a few dollas for shoes. I picked up a pair of Birkies (as if I need another pair of those) and my buddy got some cute sneakers. Seeking sustenance we headed over to East Side Marios in the mall and had a carbohydrate overload (but delicious) supper of pasta. A short drive to be squatters in the daughter's place as she and the son-in-law were at a family cottage for the weekend. Hank (their rescued kitty who sometimes doesn't have a full set of manners) was at first pleased to see us, then bit my buddy (affectionately) and then hissed loudly at us for no obvious reason. Apparently the hissing is something new that he's started, but it sure surprised me. We got ourselves settled down for the night as we were anticipating an exciting day ahead. My travel mate reported that Hank had visited several times and attempted to make amends. 

The Trews
Tom Citroen
The Boss
We made good time to Moncton, found Magnetic Hill, located the Coliseum so as to be able catch the shuttle bus and scoped out a place to eat. Found one of those 'where you go after church for Sunday lunch' kinds of restaurants and had great bacon double cheeseburgers. Off to the Coliseum we were on one of the first shuttle buses out to the concert venue. This year the bus took us right up to the gate, and when we approached the lineup a security guy holding armbands asked if we wanted to be assured of getting in early. How could you refuse that offer? He gave us purple armbands and told us we could wander around as long as we were back at 2 pm for the ticket draw as 100 people would be let in early. When the appointed hour arrived we somehow managed to find ourselves in the first 200 people and were led down the hill into the venue. I was still thinking we'd be in back of the VIP area but as we moved along it became clear that we were going to be right in front of the action. Good news for short women. And what a concert it was. Began at 4 pm with The Trews who are great - NS band which we'd never heard before, especially loved their Highway of Heroes, then Tom Cochrane and Red Rider - now he is ancient rocker who certainly looks it but he makes up for it with his obvious love of rock n roll. He also had a very junior wife and two young daughters dancing in their seats in the pit and the band was amazing. A quick changeover and before we knew it the screen was showing Bruce Springsteen heading towards the stage. It was an unbelievable show from 7:30 - 10:40 pm with all the old favourites and lots of new material which we danced and sang to. The E Street band is excellent, great horn section, wonderful drums and piano. Bruce was very high energy, out onto the walkways and all over the stage and before we realized it, he was heading towards us shaking hands down the row. He sure knew where to find the groupies! He was cool and sweaty but....we were touched by THE BOSS! Headed out and on to the road just after midnight and home by 5:30 am to crash into bed. I've already copied the photos and videos onto a flash stick for the travel partner so we can continue to enjoy those memories. 

Monday brought a return to reality with laundry and errands and the news that a friend's husband had been kept in the hospital in the city. He is a tough cookie and a fighter but he's facing a real battle as he has a number of 'comorbidities' as we say in the trade. 

Tuesday began with a breakfast sandwich at a bistro in town with the baby daughter and her boyfriend before they traveled to Iceland. Good to get caught up on the news as we hadn't visited since the spring. They had lots of plans for sightseeing on their travels before heading back to Canada and their studies. A day of appointments and errands por moi which filled my time until a late supper. 

Wednesday the class of 1976 from my nursing school did lunch and it was a blast. We ate at Ye Olde Argyler - which you can check out here on their webpage, it's a lovely restaurant and lodge:

Although some of us are grandmas, we sure still have it going on and had a lot of laughs and catching up. We have agreed to make lunch an annual event. Didn't want to leave. 

Thursday was a day to head to the city to visit with the friend and her ailing hubby. Spent some time at the hospital, learning they're going to be grandparents and are pretty excited and then got some lunch at Mary's Place II - great Syrian dishes, did a walk in the Public Gardens and a visit and a cup of tea with the friend's son before heading home. Wonderful day spent, just wish there was something I could do to ease the load. 

Friday was back to work for a 12 hour day and that was an endurance run what with the late summer heat, heading in to the long weekend and full moon - anyone who has worked in healthcare can attest to the cycles of the moon and how they affect moods. Enough said. Saturday, Sunday and Monday have been LNs with stories to tell. 

Today in the middle of a great sleep I was rudely jolted into consciousness by what I thought was one of those old windup alarm clocks. Finally got myself awake enough to realize it was the Red Cross cell phone which I've been carrying for the past week. This phone hasn't rung for months but today at 1:45 pm I got a call for assistance in the next county. I find a pen and paper, write down the particulars and start calling through the list of volunteers in the binder (reminded me of work as no one was answering) to handle the call. I finally found a willing person, passed on the information and seriously considered going back to bed. Within minutes the phone rang again with the volunteer reporting the phone number reached someone who had no idea what he was talking about. This required retracing the call to the referral source and advising them to "talk amongst themselves" to sort it out as someone (not me this time) had obviously written down a wrong phone number. Now 45 minutes later I was too awake and annoyed to go back to bed. Sigh. Needless to say it's been a looonnnnggg night because of it. 

As we sat eating supper I noticed the shore captain had shaved (hmmm, I didn't think the CFIA inspector was expected - the only woman he shaves for) then he asks the particulars about a BBQ being planned with my sister and family for Friday and then casually remarks that he'll be back by then. From where? St. Andrews. When is he leaving? Tomorrow. He wasn't going to go but the weather forecast meant the boats wouldn't be in. Not "oh you could've come with me, it's your days off" or "oh dear, you'll be back to work just after I get back and we won't have spent time together". Oh wait, that's the novel I've been reading, not the conversation with a long time male partner. Best that we have some 'alone time' me thinks. The Executive Director of his association can enjoy the challenge of making sure he's on time and focused this week. 

My 'days off' include plans to take the cats for their inoculations - it almost seems a miscalculation of dosage to have the same vaccine amount for a 10 lb and 22 lb cat but I'm not a vet. As well, a possible trip to the city to run some errands and check on the under the weather friend. Also, there is the aforementioned family BBQ which will be a belated celebration of my baby sister's birthday and a chance for catching up. 

Was listening to CBC on my road trip last week and there was an interview with a young fellow with a silicon valley company here you can check them out: 

They apparently do 'tear downs' of equipment such as iPhones and post the pictures and how-tos online. He was describing how he screened applicants for creative positions by their grammar. His theory was that attention to detail in language also translated to writing computer code. There were rebuttals in the New York Times and online complaining that the company was being elitist but the amusing part was that most of the complaints included terrible grammar and very poor spelling. 

So as I check FaceBook to see if there is news of a new arrival - one of the daughter's friends has apparently left for the hospital to deliver her little boy - I have left her a message saying that it's only one night no matter what goes on. I'll have to take my own advice.