Monday, February 9, 2015

How suite it is

A(nother) snowy evening as I update this blog. Have been having a bit of a real winter (unusual for NS) this month with regular snowfall and cold enough temperatures for the white stuff to remain. Mind you, it's been three years since I've experienced January/February in this part of Canada. And weather is relative with temperatures of -54c in Sachs Harbour and across the high arctic this week. Will have moderated by next month a bit but there will still be lots of winter for me to experience in NWT. 
Reno kitchen
One of the bedrooms
My job share partner kindly posted some photographs of the apartment which give a real sense of where I'm headed. Although the healthcentre is 80s vintage, apparently the kitchen and furniture have had a makeover. I was clearly able to visualize myself doing crafts in that living room, baking in the kitchen or napping in that bed. As you can see with this assortment of photos. There is a lovely redone bathroom and an in-apartment laundry room - not coin operated. Ahhh but enough boasting. 
Dining room 

The cleaning lady suggested new sofa and chair covers for this living room as she struggled to conceal the stains and holes on Friday. Well, it has been almost nine years for the present ones so certainly justified. and the task was accomplished. They are scheduled to arrive in time to freshen up the place before we have company over on Wednesday pm. Close enough to the shades of the various pet hairs here to work. 

Living room 

Announcing….I have completed the Diploma Tropical Nursing course and passed. That is all I am going to say about it. My final paper mark was not a proud moment but….it's a pass. 
My diploma will look the same as everyone else's when it 
Living room
arrives in the mail. And I'm done. I am taking a while to regroup and think about what I'm going to do for humanitarian work. 

We have booked a last minute 10 day cruise and fly to Miami a week from today. We began looking at a balcony - hard to do without one of those in the Caribbean and by the time the search was completed we'd booked a grand suite for less than what we originally found a balcony listed for - impossible to resist the Vacations to Go 75% off deal. On previous cruises we've glanced into a suite as the cabin steward had the door open cleaning and the travel
Grand suite 
partner has mused "someday we should have a suite just to see how it feels to travel that way". Will let you know. Discussion has run to room service on the large balcony at the stern of the ship, where is the sunscreen and do you have enough e-books downloaded? I attempted to do the online check in but…in my demographic details found myself listed as a male. Not wanting to take a chance with Homeland Security I phoned Vacations to Go to ask them to correct this to female. The supervisor Jonathon checked but as it was too close to departure he had to contact the cruise line to adjust it. He phoned me back shortly to advise that the correction had been implemented and I could proceed with the online check in. I told him that he could add 'gender reassignment surgeon' to his list of skills and he chuckled and said "happens frequently" and added "wasn't expensive either" and I assured him that since we're Canadian we don't worry about the cost of healthcare, we just keep paying our taxes, but I appreciated his expertise. He said "you have a great vacation, but I don't think I have to tell you to do that, you're going to have fun" and I assured him that was the plan.

A former coworker agreed to animal/house sit for us in a test run of her plan to leave almost adult offspring at home with her own animals when she goes to Cuba next month. At least this way she can intervene from half an hour away if required vs another country. I told the pets and the dog was excited, but she's excited about everything and the cats, well…they don't give a crap anyway. So all is set and it's a win win situation. 

Aside from digging out the snorkel gear, I am finishing up some last minute courses to do a Red Cross workshop the morning after we (hopefully) fly back. I am putting some strings on mittens which a neighbour has kindly knit for the grade primary class teacher's collection, downloading music for the travel partners iPod 

Have been asked to say a few words at a memorial service on Thursday for a former coworker who lost her battle with cancer last month. What a fighter she was. The difficulty is not in finding positive thoughts to share but limiting the list to a few minutes. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bring Snakes

To avoid being accused of 'not keeping the blog anymore' I shall attempt to update more regularly. Since I am living the life of the semi-retired there is very little reason to avoid posting - once you exclude naps, walks, socializing, reading…...

We have had winter weather - surprise - it is January and February, the past few weeks. A power outage which was mercifully only about 12 hours and with the generator hooked up, isn't really noticed here. No internet for netflix so we watched Captain Phillips which I'd downloaded on my laptop. What a powerful story! The fact that the Somali pirates dialog was subtitled in Mandarin was a bit of a detraction - memo to self….gotta be more mindful of my pirating of online movies. After the outage however there was no internet, so wrangling with Eastlink - a VERY unsatisfactory pastime should you consider engaging it in - resulted in the purchase of a new router. Once set up, the router dropped the signal after about 10 - 15 minutes. Contact the (previous computer geek) now shore captain's employee who made a house call, manually setting up the router. Although functioning when he left, he was likely not a km down the road when it failed. He suggested purchasing another router. Thankfully my northern backup Apple Airport Express worked when pulled from the action packer. Technology! Not as annoying as thinking we needed a new fridge - came home with $200 worth of groceries and found the light bulbs in the holder had detached and cooked food on the top shelf. After clearing everything inside out and putting it in the outside cooler aka veranda and cleaning off the exterior (which now means I need to purge tomorrow) it decided to arise from the ashes (overheating) and begin working again, for which I am grateful. I refuse to allow the light bulbs back inside as this is both a food safety and fire hazard. Personally, I don't miss the light, but then again, I am not one who stands in front of the fridge with the door open as if it is a TV I am watching. Sad.

Last week as I drove to an appointment I was listening to a segment on CBC about the media and politics, especially as it relates to our conservative (in all senses of the word) PM and how the PMO has stifled the relationship with the press, limiting opportunities to speak to them or even to reply to their questions. The journalist described how he had in the past been a "scrum monkey" and it took me a moment to understand he meant one of those reporters/cameramen yelling at politicians in the halls of parliament hill. And yes, now that I think about it, you really don't see a lot of those scrums on the evening news since Stephen Harper do you?

The snow covered roads on my way were a bit of a challenge, but not as bad as I'd expected. The shore captain's 4 wheel drive truck, and my not usually stirring if the white stuff arrives, means that not much plowing gets done here. One of the shore captain's employees had done a swing by and plowed the bank from the end of the driveway so my little car could make it out for my scheduled appointment. As I settled in to wait, another lady arrived and replied to one of the staff "yes I swam the moat and slayed the dragons to get here this morning" which made me smile. 

How to build an igloo
Afterwards I continued along to the city to read to the teacher daughter's grade primary class for literacy week. I had chosen to read about the arctic and with limited options for books I had created an individual book for each of the 16 students. I found a teacher source online about building igloos, printed, cut, folded, taped the pages back to back and sewed the centre of each booklet. I made a brief slideshow of northern photos to cover the concept of no trees, 24 hrs of darkness and sunlight and community photos, I collected up some traditional carvings and took along my Canada Goose parka and sealskin mitts. The children, a number of them new Canadians, were very well behaved and engaged - what a wonderful year they are having. 

After school was dismissed and the planning for the next day completed, we set out on our shopping mission as I was looking for some new threads. This daughter is very positive (you have to be to encourage five and six year olds) and doesn't say (as did her more critical younger sister) when asked for fashion advice a few years back "well, if that's all you have"…. It's a bit discouraging to clothes shop as I am wearing a posture support brace around my shoulders which makes it unfun. The necessity of wearing two layers - it's like wearing hockey shoulder pads and just about as comfortable so an undershirt with at least medium sleeves, difficult to cover requiring a tighter neck on the overshirt, and it puts the search up another size on a later years generous body shape, generally an unattractive look. I have a new sympathy for those who wear prothesis now. Actually when I took the (metal filings filled) brace off for TSA scanning in Savannah airport the security asked me if I had any other 'prothesis'? But enough whining...

We scored a pair of skinny jeans early in the search and since Reitman's markets to their audience meaning I took a size 3 sizes smaller than usual, the price on the tag wasn't even examined. I found a pair of leather riding boots for 50% off to go with them. While searching for a top the clerk who was trying to assist asked me "what's the occasion?" meaning casual or dressy sweaters. To which I replied "I bought a new pair of jeans". We all agreed this was the best occasion we could think of.  Managed to find a tunic in bamboo marked down to $20 from $80 and leggings (yes I've decided I dare wear those if the top is long enough) before calling it in and heading home in the snow of rush hour. 

The next morning after the working folks left I spent some quality time with the grand dog - he got an extra run in the yard full of snow and a treat before being crated. I headed off for some more retail therapy where I found a very nice tunic/dress to wear over my leggings which sadly will be good to wear for an upcoming memorial service of a former coworker, Moving on I scored an $80 marked down to $15 top with the help of a Lebanese saleslady. She an another customer were discussing how long they'd been in this country (38 and 13 yrs respectively) and how they'd gotten used to the snow and cold. I thanked them for choosing Canada. I picked up the shore captain at the Avis office where he was returning the rented cube van which had transported lobsters for the past two months. We joined a former northern nurse co-worker for lunch at Jack Astors as she had agreed to be a courier for some lobsters to someone north of 60 who provided a positive reference. Got to settle my scores. A very pleasant drive home as I chauffeured and the business mogul conquered empires on his cell phone. Time to get the dog out for a walk before the sun set and it was nice to stretch legs in the fresh if brisk air after all the sitting.  

FaceBook can be a royal pain but it does connect us all and I had a message from a local lady who winters in Texas (apparently with parents of another northern nurse - but as I explained the north is a BIG place) saying "your parents would be so proud of you". I stopped to consider that and agreed that yes, they likely would - my father for the adventure and my mother for the nursing part. 

Speaking of northern work, I had an online chat with my job share partner this afternoon. Asked her if she was on call and it was quiet? These two descriptors go together in that community as she disclosed our last chat that she'd only had one call in the three weeks she'd been in community and that was a phone call. She replied "I'm on call….. that's all I'm going to say" so apparently the tranquility continues. My heart be still. I told her I was stocking up on crafts and downloading ebooks to which she typed "bring materials for a large project and snakes" I stared at the screen for a bit and typed 'snakes'? Arrgggh she replied "snacks, that friggin autocorrect I hate it". Made my afternoon - would be hard for a snake to make it in the arctic - it's -46c with the wind chill there today. 

Another nasty couple of days forecast with snow, wind, freezing rain, rain so fingers crossed for the power to stay on. Will soon enough be putting on ALL my layers of clothes to head out a few steps. Lots of winter left at 72 degrees north.