Sunday, December 29, 2013

As 2014 Approaches

The end of the year is time for wrapping up the loose ends. Time to take down the tree and put away the Christmas decorations, pack for work and…..update this blog. And since I'm an expert at
Noooo, don't go and leave me
procrastination (as evidenced by the infrequent postings) I am blogging so as to not have to dig out the ornament boxes just yet. Gary will be very depressed when that lovely piece of outside has been returned to it's point of origin. And I must agree that I enjoy sitting in the glow of the lights reading - reminds me of quiet times, especially those years with little ones when I would get up to feed the baby and we'd both enjoy the peace and quiet. The dog isn't too pleased with those duffle bags coming out either. I am 'perhaps' going to be able to manage with only duffle - this being the outcome of storing a LOT of my stuff in Taloyoak. I have plans to do my non perishable grocery shopping here and schlep it across Canada as my action packer is home anyway and might as well travel full. This will cut down the shopping/packing time in Edmonton and allow for more pleasurable pursuits. I will be the courier for things left here and fresh seafood which will only have to be transported to the prairies so room for last minute gear reshuffling. The main problem is the arctic wear which takes up a lot of room and won't be needed until……the arctic. Well, if western temperatures are still frigid - perhaps not. 

I received my e-ticket just before the holidays and the chosen early leave on January 2nd (to allow for more on the ground time in Edmonton) will likely mean an all-nighter the night before, what with the drive to the airport, leaving the car with a nursing school classmate to keep (yes I opted for snow tires even though I'm storing it - still have to get to and fro), a short cab ride to the airport and then the checkin process. The job is great but I'm glad I only do the commute six times per year. I'm pumped as I found a pair of sport earphones on sale which should stay in my ears while I plane sleep - this prevents the ear phone plug falling out and me being awakened by the wails of an unhappy infant. When I received my CSA (contract service agreement) to sign I had forgotten that we'd received a raise in October so was pleasantly surprised with my hourly wage. With the tight profit margins and struggles of moving a luxury product such as lobsters in a shaky economy, the shore captain was impressed too. I've downloaded some e-books and found four best sellers which have been on my 'to read list' for a total of $20, a great buy although one which I'll not likely take advantage of until the Mexican beach in March. I did read And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (author of Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) in two evenings - found it as good as Kite Runner. It was a loaner from one of my summer neighbours and it felt slightly strange to hold a hardcover book in my hands again.

Red neck tree
Tuxedo and bowtie
We had a wonderful (if quieter than last year) Christmas. The boy and his lady friend were over for Christmas supper and we skyped the western girls then. The lad created a red neck Christmas tree for their place from a wire lobster trap (seen here on the left - isn't he crafty?) which is sturdier than a tree with their rescued American bulldog. He saved a starfish and dried it for the top of his buoy (each has a unique design) which it is mounted on. On Boxing Day we had the daughter and son-in-law from the city in for lunch and another Skype date with the western girlies. Everyone was pleased with the infinity scarves I had created and the bow tie I crocheted for Gary (seen here on the right) was a hit as well. We had lovely gifts (for the most part consumable - great and almost completely consumed already) and very thoughtfully selected/created. I 'may' share my Ironworks raspberry liqueur or…….not. Had a David's Tea cracker which came with a Earl Grey Cream, a teabag to brew it in, a riddle and a crown to wear - cute! The baby daughter made a tree ornament using her university grad photo and it hangs next to the grade primary one she created in PLT Elementary - priceless. The fourth daughter (as I have taken to calling the boy's partner) and her mother made a lovely ribbon wreath for my door which were popular this year. The shore captain received a quart bottle of Wisers Deluxe whiskey (worth $63 when I searched it online through NSLC) from the man he rescued - apparently that was what he felt his life was worth, which was a thoughtful thankful. All in all, very well done. 

The weather has been snowy, cold, windy and icy (good practice for next week) and now mild. I have been attempting to get out with the dog as much as possible before I leave. She will be regularly walked by very competent and loving local ladies but I will be making cold, hunched over dashes to the store, not relaxing walks until the end of February so will miss that. As I had passed a house up the road where there is occasionally an aggressive rottweiller (not for some time as the idiot grandson who owns it has been banned from it being at the house as VON visit his grandfather) I realized the barking was coming from the creature sitting on the edge of the driveway. Ah yes, no VON visiting likely over the holidays. Now, since my bodyguard friend (who chases this dog without a brain and huge jaws back up into the yard) wasn't with me, I stewed about what to do as I had to walk past on my return. Just before I approached the house I shortened the dog's leash and crossed the road - I am an animal lover but I do admit to wishing for a passing vehicle to solve my attack dog problems. Since our senior dog is deaf now she just blithely trots along, oblivious to the aggressive barks and only reacts when rushed or bitten. So, of course as I passed the driveway this creature launches itself at full speed down the drive and across the road at us barking, snarling, growling, teeth snapping and frothing at the mouth. I grabbed my dog and screamed prompting the owner to call out "Josie come back here" which she reluctantly did as I dragged our canine down the highway. "Andy, so help me!" I promised/threatened the petty criminal putting his 4wheeler on the trailer in the yard. Why would you want to keep such a creature I ask myself?

So, enough putting it off, time to climb the ladder and start dismantling the tree. Gary has already begun with a few of the bells which he is quite fond of. If I don't put away the festive decor….it will still be here looking at me the end of February when I return, reminding me of the Christmas decorations in seniors' places in July when I used to visit doing home care. Have been invited to supper this evening at our German chef's place and our buddy has offered to be our designated driver so we will sample some of our Christmas gift wine. 

The next post will most likely be from north of 69 degrees when I'm settled in - fingers crossed for good connections. If there have only been two nurses in over the holidays, I shall be a welcome sight. The northern nurse casuals are heading back in to contracts over the next little while as most of us have been (through good planning) home for Christmas - a luxury not afforded nurses any other way. One of my former co-workers advised she was doing a contract in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT which I was surprised to find was connected by winter aka ice road to Inuvik - only semi-isolated then :) 

What is your 2014 New Years resolution? Mine is to study Spanish every day. With the upcoming schedule it may be only a few minutes but every day is the plan. Gotta get myself together is I'm going to do a short mission in Honduras in April. What is yours?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rescue Ranger and more

Yes, yes I still post to this blog. And no, I can't say that holiday preparations are keeping me from posting as I have been doing very little of what is traditionally done time of year. I'm actually enjoying it - the not sending Christmas cards, baking, shopping for gifts etc. This stormy afternoon I am sitting in front of the fireplace enjoying a cup of Santa's secret tea (Davids Teas) in a Christmas mug with the dog snoring beside me. The tree is up (braced to the wall as the tree stand is cracked) and it and the house are decorated so at least there is the appearance of keeping up with traditions. 

The schedule has been the usual regular of busy morphing to frantic at times. After returning from the cruise, the shore captain of course hit the ground running and then there was the hurry up and wait situation with the lobster season delayed five days due to windy, rough weather - the longest delay ever enforced. Unfortunately the catches in our area are significantly reduced from recent years - many being  1/2 to 1/3 of last year. Tough start for the boy captain with a new boat to pay for, but as he said "I'm lucky that Dad has halibut quota for me to catch as back up". And the price with the supply/demand situation has stayed higher than last year. He's been involved with the industry long enough to know about the highs and lows and although distracted is handling the situation better than the former generation if you catch my drift. This negative trend will likely only increase the westward out  migration from this area of recent years.

A bit of excitement at the beginning of the season where the shore captain practiced his rescue ranger skills. I heard him in the mud room on Sunday morning and found him wearing his camo bib overalls and jacket (nothing else - sorry for the visual that creates) and when I asked about his clothes, he pointed to a wet mound on the back step. Apparently an older man who was in an outboard fell overboard into the frigid water and was slowly sinking. So the shore captain dives in and tows him to the lobster car (no not something lobsters drive, but a large floating holding dock with cages in the water) and his coworker helps haul him out. The outboard which was going in circles was eventually stopped by being blocked with a larger boat which drove it up over the lobster car. The shore captain having had multiple dunkings was prepared for the icy blast but…as I picked up his insulated coveralls to throw them in the washer the top unzipped pocket (where he carries his cell phone) alerted me to the fact that he had likely killed another one (we think, although he denies this, that he's had over 25 phones in the past 20 years - he's never qualified for an upgrade by keeping one two years since he's been carrying them) and hadn't even gotten his contacts into this one since the last 'it fell in the bilge of the boat' episode after returning from the cruise. He could at least be excused for killing this one in the name of a good cause.

Speaking of all things western, we had a great pre-holiday visit with the oldest daughter as she was home for three weeks - managed to extend her ticket fairly painlessly. She did miss some pretty nasty weather out there, although there's been more since of course. We got to do lots of Frenchy shopping, visiting and took in A Christmas Carol done as a musical at Neptune - great girls night out! So lots of good stuff to carry over the holidays spent away. She is back to the -30c weather and shovelling her way into job sites but the work will slow down for the holiday break so putting in the hours now. And it will be less than three weeks before I am winging my way back to work and visiting along the way. The new situation this year is that her baby sister in Saskatchewan will be near enough for celebrating with - she (as a new grad is of course working Christmas) managed to have a schedule where she does LD on Christmas Eve and LN on Christmas Day so lots of turkey time in there. And of course there's always Banff (sigh of envy) for New Years for them.  I think my New Years Day will be spent putting away Christmas decorations so they're not looking at me the end of February when I return.

Whale shark at the Aquarium
The girls get away to Atlanta was a resounding success (of course) and we explored (CNN, World of Coca Cola, Georgia Aquarium,
Iron lung at the CDC Museum
CDC Museum, Margaret Mitchell House, Atlanta History Centre, Fernbank
Museum of Natural History),
foyer at Swan House
Swan Coach House dessert
ate, watched the movie Philomena (highly recommend it) shopped, laughed and generally avoided the holiday furor. We were booked to fly December 3rd and as we arose at 3 am to begin our trek to the airport I made one last check of the email only to find that…..the flight was cancelled - so I quickly alerted the travel partner before she came to the house. Apparently this cancellation was due to the midwestern winter storm as we were flying through Chicago. It felt a bit like a Curious George book - you remember the little monkey with all the adventures? - where unfortunately George fell out of a plane, fortunately there was a haystack, unfortunately there was a pitch fork, fortunately he missed it etc etc. So, the original 8:30 am flight with United was cancelled and then further emails advised that we were rebooked the following afternoon at 4 pm through LaGuardia. The electrician daughter (who was retrieving the vehicle) advised that we should ask for an earlier rebooking. I phoned United and asked if we could extend our trip on the other end as we were missing over 24 hours of it with the cancellation, this brought the offer of rebooking us earlier on another airline - quick acceptance of that suggestion. The agent found a flight with Delta flying through LaGuardia with a shorter layover and leaving at 9 a.m. so after 40 minutes on the line where the agent was having "some issues" with getting the tickets issued an email ticket arrived and we were off. Very foggy drive (should've been our first clue) to the airport, quick goodbye to the daughter and up to US departures. The Delta and United desks are beside each other so we approached Delta and asked the agent to switch our tickets. Mine went through without much hassle but my travel partner's boarding pass had a technical glitch. This required me calling United and giving the Delta agent my cell phone where she attempted for over an hour to clear up the problem - this because she was told the United agent at the desk about three feet away was not allowed to issue a new boarding pass because I had gotten the new ticket over the phone. Now practically this is the only way to rebook when you are a three hour drive from the airport, but I digress. At first I was concerned that we were going to miss the 9 a.m. flight but then it became unfortunately clear that the flight was delayed until noon time. Gave us time to eat breakfast downstairs, read the paper and whine on FB about the delay. In the end a paper ticket/boarding pass was issued to my buddy - we remembered when those actually existed. Though checkin, security - I really resent having to take my shoes off for US security as I think it is disgusting - cleared customs and in to the departure lounge. Further delay as the plane is late but finally out across the drizzly tarmac (no jetport for those express jets) and on board. All settled in and ready for departure when the flight attendant announces "we have a problem and everyone has to deplane and take all their belongings with them to wait in the entranceway while security searches the plane". We looked at each other thinking this was a joke - nope - and my travel buddy used some colourful language. I had to remind her that was the mouth she kissed her granddaughter with! The search was completed and we reboarded being told to check at LaGuardia about connections. Uneventful flight and landing, shuttle to another terminal and into the departure lounge and on to the next flight arriving in Atlanta only an hour later than originally planned. We conquered the public transit system which is a combination of buses and trains, enjoyed the milder temperatures and friendly people and had a wonderful trip! On our return flight through Chicago (yes it was the cold and windy city) I sat next to a lady from NS who was returning from Palm Springs and got stuck for two days in Chicago. She mentioned a local person who she'd been a good friend of growing up and I knew who she meant so took her business card and made contact with her to reconnect them upon my return - more of that small world stuff.

A flurry of activity after returning from the getaway week as the planning for the plant staff Christmas party ramped up. The menu was seafood chowder / curried squash soup for the non seafood guests / lobster or plain mac n cheese / meatloaf with veggie sauce / cheesecake with blueberry or strawberry sauce. A chef buddy and a friend came to help for the afternoon / evening and we fed twenty with a good time had by all. I had done a couple of photo books for the moose hunt participants and they were well received.

I have been looking into a volunteer mission to Honduras in the spring and am applying for one April 12 - 19th which will fit in nicely with my 'at home' time. Good experience before a tropical nursing course next year. So my New Years resolution is going to be……study Spanish cada dia. Speaking of which…..