Monday, April 29, 2013

Only -32c? Must be spring

Here it is late Sunday evening, work in the morning awaits me and I still haven't updated the blog which I've been intending to do all weekend. I have had the weekend off - meaning no call since Friday night to Saturday morning - and have enjoyed myself thoroughly but not necessarily accomplished much.  Meant to do some baking, planned to watch some tutorials, downloaded an e-book - Bossy Pants by Tina Fey but didn't open it. Hard to believe that a week ago I started out traveling.

Over the weekend I managed to catch up on the news at home by phone, Skype, FB video chat, and online chatting. I was most impressed with a coworker who called me on video chat - I couldn't believe how technologically advanced she was. We discussed her planned retirement in October, her daughter's wedding next summer and the news from work. When it came time to say goodbye however, we both tried to disconnect and neither of us could make the video screen disappear. It was like 'big brother is watching you' and we were being stalked. I finally had to shut down my computer. Ha! That's more like it we said.

I have to report (sadly) that the tattoo has completely faded - oh well, all good things must come to an end. It was a good run. Having one does kind of make you want another. Too bad I form keloids so not for me.

It is 11 pm and barely dusk here, as I look across at the hamlet office I see the outside lights have just come on. My new roommate (wasn't aware I was getting one) from Moncton arrived this afternoon and she's a home care nurse. She works for an agency so we've been comparing notes. I set her up with Penny Talk and she's going to pick up a modem tomorrow so she can have internet. Nice to have company. We went for a walk about 9:30 p.m. and it was still brilliant sunshine, had to wear my sunglasses. We were pleased to hear that despite the can of bear spray on the shelf in the porch (and it is full so hopefully not needed) there are no polar bears here and a grizzly hasn't been seen for years.
Musk ox hides, antlers & skidoos
Overlooking the runway 
Kugluktuk St. 
It's been cold this weekend, with the wind chill at -31c I ventured out for some photos yesterday but didn't stay out too long. This evening it was chilly but mild without the wind. I missed a cute photo op yesterday with a father, his husky harnessed to a plastic sled for training and a preschooler hanging on with a huge smile running up the street. By the time I got my mitts off and the camera out of my pocket they had rounded the corner and were gone. Tonight we saw some young fellows on top of a snowbank taking turns sliding down the embankment into a parking lot in a yellow banana box. Repurposing at its best. Yeehaw! As I told someone from home who gasped at the temperatures "this is my third winter since October so I'm getting pretty good at it now". 

I'm reminded of some northern rules and issues which I did know from decades ago but had forgotten - buy milk in a jug not a carton as it's less likely to leak. If an avocado is available and looks reasonable, even if it costs $2.69 - buy it! Anything on sale will be almost outdated, freezer burnt or thawed and refrozen into a strange texture or shape or completely unwelcome to locals.
Solvent use is a probl
There was some major vandalism of the community centre this week and it won't be reopened for teen get togethers due to the damage. There is a curfew and the siren blows at 9:45 p.m. to remind those under (I think) 14 to head on home. Not sure how effective it is or what age group is the problem. The community is a friendly one and I've felt very welcome here by coworkers, patients, clerks in the stores and people on the street. However, I've been told not to leave valuables in my pockets at work. One of my coworkers lost $145 last week and a few weeks ago another lost $60. But I ask you - when the craft sellers appear on will I buy anything? 

With four CHNs and a SHP in this community, it  means that a nurse is only on call two days out of five so (as I mentioned in having the weekend free) not as lucrative a contract. But as the life partner advised me "someone else paid for you to see this part of Nunavut" and it is very expensive to travel in the north. 

In my search for something else I found a great link to some Kugluktuk photos throughout the seasons so offer it here - some lovely shots, much better than I could hope to do:

So, I must sign off and crawl under the blankets as tomorrow is a new work week. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kugluktuk Capers

Due to some technology 'delays' I originally typed this entry to save to a flashstick to take to work and post. My internet account initially had an anniversary date of the first so I planned to pay when May arrived as it's only a week for this month but the IT guy who came to set me up on the computer (and is now my new best friend) this morning at work said the anniversary date changed as soon as you pay for the account again so I am up and running with Skype, FB et al. I had thought (and hoped) to have cell coverage in Kugluktuk and in fact was assured there was cell coverage here which is essentially correct, however it's the card in the cell phone which is the issue. It's a CDM4 (or something close to that for a name) which is required vs a sim card and they aren't made anymore. The options are to obtain a card from Yellowknife, buy a phone from someone here or purchase a blackberry - none of which I'm planning to do. When I briefly visited work yesterday (more on that later) and asked about the cell situation I was advised that texting was possible but….not. I have Penny Talk to use for the apartment phone and have circulated the number for incoming calls. The most annoying thing is paying for my cell while it sits in the closet. Enough whining. 

Started out on Sunday so felt like I'd been traveling for three days - oh wait, I did. The life partner suggested an overnight before the early morning flight and so we had a 'city day' and a good sleep versus a middle of the night drive. We arrived noonish and visited with daughter #2 and our son-in-law before doing a few last minute errands - new earphones and some garlic for me, a failed attempt at sneakers for the shore captain who pronounced "I'm not a chartreuse kind of guy" as explanation to turning down every pair he looked at. We had a wonderful supper at Ela's (formerly called Opa's) with a huge appetizer tray, lamb chops, pita and dips. Even had to refuse the dessert menu we were so full. The Holiday Inn Express at the airport is a nice spot with large rooms and breakfast included (for those who aren't departing too early) great staff and an airport shuttle. 

Monday was an early start as I checked in by 5:45 a.m. Yet again the travel agent had attached all my flights to the same e-ticket so I wan't able to check in online ensuring on a full flight that I got the middle seat of course. My seat mate was an RCMP polygraph operator heading to Toronto for work for the week. He'd worked in Labrador and recognized the shore captain's name from his previous life of RCMP officer on the Labrador coast. Small world eh? A quick stop at Pearson where I indulged in a chocolate croissant and yogurt with berries - not going to have those options where I'm headed. I was paged to the desk and asked if i'd mind switching seats as a couple would like to sit together (they'd already missed their connection from Antigua due to mechanical problems and been flying an extra day) and I'm offered a window seat in exchange. Not a problem I assured them. When we board I find a man in my assigned seat so approach the flight attendant who checks to see why the system put two people in the same seat. He is relocated (I hope there's no bad karma with booting him out) and I take my seat in the last row of the plane (you know the one which doesn't recline and is just in front of the bathroom and galley). Of course as soon as we're in the air the man in the seat ahead of me reclines his seat as far as it will go into my face and the sound on the movie doesn't work. Maybe there is some karma at work. I chat with a man heading out to deal with the aging parents issue and I tell him that I've "been there, done that" and reassure him. Daughter #1 is waiting for me and we head out to have some lunch and get caught up on the news. I've got a slightly longer visit today (due to the early leave) and she's taken the beautiful sunny day off work so we make the most of our drive to Red Deer. Still snow in the fields here but very mild and spring like. I enjoy meeting the kitties that she's rescued - my goodness they are certainly cute, very chatty and busy and of course photogenic. We have tea made in her space age tea infuser - reminds one of the Jetsons when the tray of tea leaves is lowered automatically into the hot water. We pick up groceries and she is a good help for such projects as she knows what's available where and is creative about supplies. I am always reminded of the excess packaging when I pack my tote for north and there are stacks of boxes left over. A nice drive back to the airport hotel, a quick goodbye and check in at the hotel, throw the perishables in the fridge, soak in the tub and crash for a few hours. 

Up at 6 am but it's Monday and the hotel is a busy spot so I don't make the 6:40 am shuttle to the airport due to lack of luggage racks. Opt instead for a cab and it's certainly worth the $12 + tip as it's a direct run - to be late for checkin and then stop at various airlines is nerve wracking. I'm delivered at the door and assisted with my action packer. The check in with Canadian North is a struggle as my action packer is over weight and I'm coerced into paying extra for priority tags for my bags. I also have to take out enough weight to allow them to ship the container as 75 lbs is the maximum. The employee checking me in told me that the reason is safety as "no one can lift over 75 lbs" which of course means none of them could be nurses. By the time I jam oranges, apples and a bag of sugar in my knapsack, the clerk gives in. She gives me new cable ties and I reapply the duct tape. I drag the tote to the overweight belt, heave it on by myself and it's gone. I head over to the security line which is mercifully short for once. While my knapsack is being scanned the security guard asks what I have in the bag "oranges and apples" I tell him and he says "do you have a ham?" This causes a momentary panic as I'm pretty sure I've put the ham back in the action packer which will be cool all the way in the cargo section of the plane but when the pack is searched we realize it's a bag of sugar -  likely not a frequent carry on item I'm thinking.  Through and the plane is boarding.  It's windy and so some turbulence on the way up and down but an overall uneventful flight with breakfast served. A quick transfer at  Yellowknife and the final text sent to update my progress and out on to the windy, snowy tarmac to the smaller plane. Only one free seat this time and the window seat is taken (although it's mine on the boarding pass) but this isn't unusual in the north so I settle in to the aisle seat. Again turbulence on the way up and down and a second breakfast served, followed by a nap due to the short night. 

Plane to Kugluktuk arrivals area
It's a lovely sunny day in Kugluktuk and only -12 c so positively balmy. I'm approached in the terminal by the janitor from the health centre who introduces himself as J.R  and assures me that I will love Kugluktuk. Outside to retrieve the bags and through the hamlet showing me the landmarks then a quick swerve to to the left and we're in front of apartment 526. He advises he'll pick me up at 1:30 pm so I struggle to put a few things away in my closet, find a uniform and my nursing gear, throw the perishables in the fridge and am just attempting to get the grippers back on my BOGS when he arrives. I'm introduced to Catherine, one of the cleaning staff who's riding shotgun, and we drive past the stores, school and streets of houses while JR assures me that I've come at a good time as everyone is heading out on the land now on the weekends so I head in to the health centre. Sam (the acting SHP) is very surprised to see me, attempting to find a spot for me and thought I'd be in to work in the a.m. I quickly accept the offer of heading home to unpack and be picked up in the morning. I walk over to the Northern store (prices much more reasonable than I'm used to north of 60) I pick up some supplies then make my way past the Coop to the apartment. I take some photos along the way to post and am surprised at how pleasant the weather is. Here is a sample:
Kugluktuk stereoscope

High School
Kugluktuk Hamlet Office
Northern Store

Kugluktuk Health Centre
10:30 pm window view
A three hour nap puts me in a better frame of mind and then I get myself unpacked, groceries put away and generally organized. I use Penny Talk and leave a message for daughter #1 with the phone number of the apartment. Grab a bite to eat and head upstairs for bed. It is still very light at 10 so I'm grateful for the aluminum foil on the bedroom window - sunrise 5 a.m. and sunset 10 p.m. today and not really dark during the night actually. 

I am awake before the alarm (time zone change gets me every time) and ready for the day fairly quickly. I am picked up by a coworker and the fun begins. In to the health centre where I'm introduced to many new faces and shown an office that will be mine for a bit then I'll move to another, the staff room and then I notice every one is missing. I wander for a bit thinking someone will come to rescue me and the nurse in charge appears saying "I was wondering where you were, report is in here" so I say "I didn't know where it was so I figured someone would come back for me". Always the new kid on the team when you move to a new place. There are two staff who had worked in Taloyoak although not when I was there, and another I've seen on teleconference, a physician I've never heard of and mental health nurse I was introduced to yesterday as well as home care nurse who is leaving tomorrow so I don't invest any energy in remembering her details. It sounds as if things have been busy and of course I have no idea of the regulars they are discussing - I am sure I will quickly be more than aware. The morning passes by in a blur of trying to find equipment, drugs, supplies, forms and understand how things are done here while not appearing too stupid to the few patients I see. I throw out the (this time 120) work emails which are never cleared from the mailbox as is the case in the absence of casual employees. I ask the front desk staff innumerable questions and rotate my nursing questions through the four CHN coworkers so that unless they compare notes they won't think I'm a complete imbecile. Lunch arrives and I am chauffeured to my apartment and advised I'll be picked up at five to one. Here are some shots which I took over the noon hour of my living space for the next few weeks:
Transient apt 526
Livingroom, dining/kitchen, laundry

Stairs  - what are those?
It's fine for just me but it does have three bedrooms and I can't imagine three people fitting into the small kitchen at the same time. It's also really warm and although the heat doesn't appear to be on perhaps it's from the solar gain through the front window or even one of the flanking apartments. I have been forced to leave open the only window which is openable to make the temperature manageable. It is so mild that huge chunks of ice are melting off the roofs and crashing to the ground, best not to stand too near to buildings. 

The afternoon was a busy blur of well baby visits and immunizations where I tried to find my way around the routine but didn't succeed completely - such is the way of a new location. I was relieved when quitting time came but mildly anxious to find out I am on call tomorrow, it's blood draw day and apparently the CHNs are tasked with going out to visit homecare clients who can't come to the health centre. Should be an interesting ride. Best get rested up for it. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vacation transition to....employment

Not so much fun to write after the last vacation, packed for work but the six weeks of not working have slipped away. And the second vacation was a blast. 

We began our trip with an early start to the city to purchase a new snorkel for my prescription snorkel mask from the dive shop. Then in to the city to visit with my travel partners new grand baby and Evvie is beautiful. She's very alert, calm and easily comforted - doesn't even have a disturbing cry. The new family is doing very well and that's always good to see. We picked up Greek food take out and had a nice supper before heading over to the airport hotel. Parked the car and settled for the night. An early morning as the flight left at 7 a.m. so a quick breakfast and the shuttle to the airport to begin our adventure. We had an uneventful flight to Toronto and then did a bit of shopping at Pearson - iPad mini case for the shore captain, some body shop goodies and lunch at Tim Horton's. Chatting and relaxing I suddenly note the time and we are off and running (literally) through customs, security and boarding. By the time we are retrieving our things at security and attempting to get our footwear on we are being paged for the final boarding call for our flight. I get my sneakers on first and make the sprint to hold our seats - whew! Are we ever glad to settle in. The flight is uneventful (always good) and we watched the movie Lincoln. My travel buddy stops the movie for a few  moments and so misses the final minutes. "Now I'll never know who won the civil war" she says. 

We arrive in Tampa on time and grab a cab to the Sheraton Riverwalk which turns out to be a very swish place. I am very glad for the research of my travel partner for accomodations as she did a great job.  A quick shower and I hear my buddy talking on the phone to someone - turns out to be one of our friends who were coming to take us out for supper - she tells my buddy "I've got red hair" which is always the question of the day as she's a hairdresser. They are in the lobby when we make our entrance and whisk us away in a Lexus for a nice tour of Clearwater and area. We journey across the long toll bridge viewing the ocean, see all the upscale real estate, learn about the huge Scientology following, see lots of Crabby Bills and strip malls, walk on the soft powdery white beach and while in St. Pete's enjoy supper at a beach shack called Woody's which is pure 60s:

Fish tacos - yum

There was a guy playing keyboards with an amazing voice and the fish tacos and key lime pie still make my mouth water just to type the names. We were safely delivered back to our heavenly bed and crashed.

Up early to take in the breakfast buffet and watch the sculling teams practice on the Hillsborough River. Out to catch the hotel shuttle which dropped us at the bus terminal so we can make our way to Busch Gardens. The research noted that we can have an all day bus pass for $4 so we get a scenic tour of Ybor City and the other areas of Tampa before being deposited at the entrance to Busch Gardens.
Giraffes, zebras, antelopes, flamingos
See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil

The sky train
We spent 10 hours there and could've stayed longer with the animals, the displays, musical entertainment, but no not the rides - we were chicken. And since we weren't watching the time we missed the last bus on Saturday evening so.... we were rescued by a passing bus driver who told us to "get in and sit down, I'll tell you when to get off" and who (with a decidedly eclectic group of passengers gave us a 90 minute tour of the university, malls and various sketchy neighbourhoods before depositing us at the bus terminal). We were giddy with excitement and hunger by the time the shuttle driver (a large fellow who looked like he appreciated food) dropped us at Eddie & Sam's NY Pizza - yes real NY pizza in downtown Tampa:

where we had chicken ptarmigan and chicken ranch pizza with caesar salad and garlic knots (yum) and homemade ice cream for dessert and waddled around the corner to the Sheraton. On the way we heard loud noises and realized the wedding reception at the hotel was winding down with a bang.

Up Sunday but not too early after the full day before. Over to a Spanish restaurant for breakfast:

and enjoyed a Cuban sandwich - bacon and eggs on baguette, fried plantains and juice. Ahhh. Off to walk the Riverwalk along the marina, up to the convention centre for a birds eye view - we can see our ship - and then to get ready.

Norwegian Dawn
The Norwegian Dawn (seen here on the left at anchor in Belize City as we approach it by tender) check in is flawless and we are quickly deposited on to the ship and find stateroom 9558. Our cabin steward Jez (many more syllables than that in his Phillipino name of course) has it sparkling. And yes we had a balcony - this is an itinerary where it is worth the splurge. It was the best spot for drinking the complimentary wine and eating the chocolate covered strawberries we received from NCL, sail away and of course reading. Ahhh

napkin folding class
wine tasting
We spent our first sea day exploring and enjoying the ship and attended napkin folding class and a wine  tasting. Both were educational and fun but we only needed a nap after one of them. Can you guess which one I'm referring to? With our trusty map, frequent reference to the wall map 'you are here' and occasional questions of staff we managed to find our way around the Dawn without too much difficulty. As with most cruise ships there are some 'you can't get there from here' spots.
Blue tang, West Bay, Roatan

Our stop in Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras was a beach day where my travel partner got a significant but not too painful sunburn from sitting in the water/on the sand and I snorkelled off the beach at West Bay. There were huge schools of fish, some I recognized and several I did not. The fish were all large and very unafraid but are not keen to stay still for underwater photos. We took a cab with a tour guide called Miss Livette and a couple from Indiana (she was a nurse too) and did a bit of shopping afterwards.  We were jealous of the tourists we met from our province who were staying for two weeks and enjoying the spot to the fullest.

Our port call in Belize City was the only spot where we purchased an excursion off the ship due to security concerns and we were not disappointed. Had a wonderful tour guide Melanie who made our day. We took a river cruise from the cruise port inland and saw howler monkeys, manatees, termite nests, iguanas, the local people enjoying themselves and many birds. Stopped for lunch at a great little resort with a pool and waterslide and had rice and beans, fried plantains and chicken. A little craft spot and then back on to the bus.
Altan Ha, Belize
Altan Ha is Mayan ruins only discovered in 1981 and a great place. This makes three sets of Mayan ruins I've visited and they are all very different. This site was apparently a market place. About an hours bus ride back to the port through Belize City. Time to shop in the cruise port for gifts and grab a (local) chocolate milkshake. The return 20 minute tender ride and we are back on the ship. A long but absolutely fantastic day. Although there was some disappointment the next day for missing Costa Maya, due to winds and rough seas so inability to dock, we were almost relieved to have another sea day to recover from our outings and because we enjoyed the ship and this gave us extra time.
You can get anything you want at...

The final port of call was the island of Cozumel and we shopped until we dropped as we became expert in the art of negotiation for various trinkets. We also got henna tattoos of palm trees with an island on our arms. Best $10 I've spent in a long time for the reactions we enjoyed. A younger passenger said "you ladies rock" when we explained the new Nana felt like doing something different. The life partner wasn't concerned they were real as he explained "not after the hard time you gave the girls about theirs". We had hoped to connect with a local friend but didn't see her and with four ships in port that day it was understandable - the town was crawling with tourists.

Chocolate castle
A final sea day where we enjoyed ourselves to the max. Over the week we ate at the steak restaurant, Italian, and Brazilian (called it an early birthday celebration for my travel partner) as well as touring the chocolate buffet. There were sculptures, chocolate fountains, ice sculptures and mounds of desserts. Hard to capture with a few photos but a word of advice. If you are ever on a cruise ship and the term chocolate buffet is mentioned - save room. An early start to disembarkation day with room service for breakfast, clearing customs, walk off disembarkation, retrieval of luggage, a shuttle to the Howard Johnsons and then a chance to catch our breath with lunch. Over to the Florida Aquarium for three hours - could've stayed longer but they were closing - if you find yourself in Tampa it is a must do.

Instead of heading in to the HoJo we decide to check out the Spatz Centre for the Performing Arts next door and find that the new Bette Midler musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert is playing after just coming from Broadway.  The show is in about an hour so the ticket booth man gives us front row mezzanine seats (worth $69) for $15. We rush back to the hotel, throw on our formal night clothes and head back to the show. A gin and tonic, the playbill and we're settled in the plush seats. The show is fantastic and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves. A quick dash in the showers to the hotel and we enjoy crab cakes and creme brule for an after theatre supper. A wonderful way to spend our last evening.

A sleep in, getting our stuff together, checking in with the airline and then time for some last minute sun in the lounge chair and a final dip in the pool. What a great way to end the vacation.  The airport shuttle and all the hassles that come with air travel, check in, rearrangement of bags, security, waiting and more waiting, a full flight and then a full two hours gate to gate at Pearson airport to clear customs, transfer bags, make our way from one terminal to another and check in. Considering it took about 15 minutes a few weeks ago with West Jet to do the same thing, this was not impressive.  An uneventful flight out to Halifax, retrieval of bags and vehicle and middle of the night drive home arriving by 4 am. A great time was had by all.

So with only six days between return and the flight out for work there hasn't been much down time. Errands to pick up last minute requirements, arrangements to ensure all runs smoothly in my absence, final details for the trip/work and looking forward to seeing daughter #1 fill my days. Tonight we had the prodigal son and girlfriend over for supper and tomorrow we will visit with daughter #2 before we head to the airport hotel as the across country flight Monday is early. I will miss the arrival of daughter #3 who is planning to work locally and keep her dad company for a month before her end of May graduation. So off to bed as the final details tomorrow will require a clear head.

Next posting from Kugluktuk. Later. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Between Vacations

Ahhh, what a nice sound the post title has eh? Just back from two weeks in Cuba with the life partner and packing for a cruise with a friend. Life is good. Have been intending to post for a bit and was finally spurred into action when I encountered one of my neighbours at Frenchy's this morning and she gently reminded me that she was awaiting an update. It is time. 

We returned early Saturday morning from two great weeks in the land of sun, fun, rum and friends. The south coast to be exact and thus very warm temperatures, snorkelling and hanging out with friends. Spent a few days at the beginning in Santiago de Cuba visiting and discovered that our friend had fallen on the way to work and fractured her ankle about six weeks previously. She had a visit at the polyclinic and I accompanied her so got to see the Cuban (non tourist) healthcare system at work. But that's a story for later on. Apparently hurricane Sandy last fall had really whacked Santiago and there were views we'd never noticed before across the city - this was because the trees were all gone. Roofs were being repaired as materials became available and various resorts were damaged or even completely washed away as in Bucanero. Down the coast for a week and enjoyed ourselves as usual on  the island of Cayo Damas, the former Bacardi summer place. The hurricane had done a number on the ranchon (outside restaurant) completely removing the roof 
And there it was........gone
and walls. There had been extensive work to the grounds required. When we ventured over to Chivirco we soon noticed the lack of trees there as well. Since last October there has been a real struggle in this area to to find fruits and veggies and bananas only became available recently as the crops were ruined. We found a reduced selection and higher prices in the market and shops. The rations are being cut back so only a few items are available now and there is talk of them being phased out. Not easy times for our Cuban friends. We managed with some connections and cash to pull off a pig roast and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Much easier when someone else is doing all the work of cooking and serving the feast. All the Cuban meals were (of course) wonderful and we had all our favourites, some several times. Although the sunshine was glorious, we were even treated to the moonrise behind the clouds. 

Home from work for almuerzo
My Cuban nurse friend Elena (seen here on the left) had been to Havana for a course and has been diligently studying English for an interview to go to.....Qatar. The contracts are for three years and about five times the salary she receives at present. Clearly Cuba is able to export professionals and Qatar has no shortage of funds so... Below is the link to the facility. I was a bit surprised to see mandated pre-marital screening so am guessing that professionals from a state controlled society would be more cooperative with such ventures. Elena is pretty pumped so I hope she makes it.

Speaking of Cuban hospitals in Cuba, I'm including some pics from outside the policlinic where I spent the morning hanging out with Lili. Although decidedly low tech (the orthopaedic specialist wrote the chart, the sick slip, the personal record which the patient keeps along with their X-rays) while the nurse created doodabs from a box of gauze. There were limited wheelchairs and very few crutches as well as a pretty gritty building but some of the situations in the waiting room did not require English to understand them, especially if you're a Canadian nurse. 
Foot bath with disinfectant
Hand wash station

Lili was very disappointed to find out that she was to be non weight bearing for another four weeks. I wasn't particularly surprised as when her cast was cut off and back slab applied early on her foot fell completely over as in tendon or ligament damage from the sounds. If she manages to avoid surgery it will be surprising. Lili is already bored with the taped Brazilian novellas (soap operas) and movies she is watching so another month will be long.

I managed to read a total of ten books while working on my tan or enjoying the shade and the reading list follows:

Noon at Tiffany's by Echo Heron - an excellent read about the Tiffany glassworks
Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs - latest Temperance Brennan novel with a northern twist - great
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce - excellent, really recommend it
The Light Between Two Oceans by M L Stedman - very good, disturbing at times, worth a read
Our House in Arusha by Sara Tucker - great story about Africa and relationships
Speak Swahili Dammit by James Penhaligon - a wonderful must read about Tanzania
Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk - about MSF and his mission there
An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski - about MSF and his work, disturbing but really good
Growing up in Africa by Genny Nuckolls - good but a young reader title I discovered
How to Travel Fulltime by Colin Wright - interesting info even for part time travellers

The next vacation will have more scheduled activities so likely less reading but....just in case I have downloaded Will Ferguson's latest novel entitled 419 - that should hold me. There are more offerings on the Kindle awaiting so I will not be without. Speaking of e-book readers.....the shore captain killed the Kobo while on vacation. It did exactly what the Kindle did when it expired (a slice of what was being read stuck to the screen) but at least it was older and had lived a good life. And the slice was only a few lines of text so the book could at least be finished. This prompted himself to decide (since he goes to government/fishing industry meetings with young techies) that he 'needs' an iPad. I at least convinced him to look at the iPad mini as I couldn't imagine him dragging around (and likely dropping) the larger one. We played at the iStore in Pearson airport on the way through as I needed to be sure he could manage the gizmo. As the baby daughter said "it's pretty user friendly" though. I ordered it online through though with free shipping to make sure those travel miles found a home. I have committed to picking up a sturdy iPad mini case at the iStore on my travels because if not....

As the shore captain lined up at Tim Hortons in Pearson he noticed a local lady waiting to order but didn't recognize the guy behind her. It turned out to be a former coworkers husband as they were all flying home from Alberta where the guys are employed. This led to catching up on the news while we ate our sandwiches. Not unusual to meet someone from home when travelling, especially in light of how many work out west. The copilot who was deadheading back from Yellowknife to Edmonton and sat next to me on my flight home told me that Canadian North used to do about 10 charter flights per month east to west and do at least 20, if not more now. These would be the employer funded travel and in addition to all the commercial self funded flights. 

The flight from Toronto to Halifax was an entertaining one as the fellow from The Pas, Manitoba, who sat beside me explained he was meeting a former girlfriend he hadn't seen for over 30 years, since university. They'd married, raised families, divorced and now gotten together (through FaceBook of course) and had been chatting, texting, and skyping for six months. He was as nervous as a teenager heading into his week vacation and I was the diversion. I heard all about her, saw a photo, confirmed she'd be waiting and managed to distract him. When we head for the arrivals area though, he can't find her and becomes frantic. He pleads "I didn't wear my glasses, do you see her anywhere? she's tall". I look around but no one like her picture is there, so he texts her. By the baggage carousel is my former coworker (who is over six ft) waiting for her husband and I tell her the story and ask if the guy is looking for her as she's tall. She says "how do these people find you, do you attract them or what?" But I assure her it's a love story. As the luggage arrives I see my seatmate with his arm around a very attractive lady and they have eyes only for each other. "You found her" I say to which he replies "I sure did". Made me smile all the way home for the three hour drive. 

There wasn't much smiling at the end of the drive though as about 3 km from the house we ran over something which banged into the wheel well of the truck. When we stopped in the driveway and I went to retrieve the dog, the shore captain (who has significant noise induced hearing loss) says "oh no, that's must've been something sharp" and the hissing from the tire made it clear it would be flat in a very short time. Thank goodness for compressors and puncture repair products. 

Arriving home also brought the news that my cruise partner had become a Nana to a beautiful baby granddaughter while we were away. This is my excuse to pick up cute PINK things now at Frenchy's. I had been certain this baby was a girl so already had started a stash. I will get to see the little princess on Thursday as we plan to visit on our way to the airport hotel. 

A friend's granddaughter is travelling in the east (and I don't mean the Maritimes) so keeping a wonderful blog - I offer the link here:

So, as I write about tropical adventures I check the weather site and see that the temperature in Kugluktuk - used to be called Coppermine (heading there in a few weeks) is still -42 c with the wind chill and ice crystals today. Lots of winter there yet. I was explaining to someone today that by the time June comes I'll have had three winters in the past nine months - Oct, Jan/Feb and Apr, not to mention a fall and spring at home and really two summers if you count the southern expeditions but.....who's counting? 

So tomorrow we have guests invited for supper and plan to have arctic char steaks, baked potatoes and slaw with lemon cheesecake squares. Not going to feel one bit guilty to leave the shore captain on his own for ten days.