Sunday, August 23, 2015

PALS - Not My Friend

The previous post was number 700 - but who's counting? Google apparently! Although the frequency of the postings varies (usually longer spaces than shorter) I often think as I crawl into bed at night that 'I should've updated the blog' and another day slips by. It's not as if I have gotten my act together lately with any other kind of writing though. Talking about writing is as far as I've gotten this summer. Visited with the friend who accompanied me to the writing retreat and we had a good catch up while sitting on the deck of her family cottage near a lake. I also lunched with a local writer, one of the founding members of the writing group I sporadically attend about an hour away. We discussed my northern travels and her work and I met her new puppy, a Great Pyrenees - he already weighs as much as our fully grown old dog here and is only 11 weeks old - apparently 130 lb will be his adult weight. Although I'm not proud of it, the main reason I began the post is due to procrastination from studying for my PALS (paediatric advanced life support) course which I'm doing next month. I need current certification to apply for Operation Smile, as is my plan. I did manage to stick all the tabs on the sections of my manual and alarm myself by how much I'd forgotten in three years….

We have been busy with some social activities as we travelled to the city to take our (former) neighbour and her two small sons + her mother to the airport to travel back to the prairies. She (and a few other teenagers) were the reason I was able to work shift work while the life partner fished, back in the day. Her little guys are such good kids! My appointment for the Nexus interview was the same time so we were able to combine the travel. I convinced the shore captain to bring his paperwork and come with me to my appointment as his was scheduled for a few weeks hence. We applied online at the same time and I received conditional approval in a timely manner but it was at least six weeks before he did. I joked that he was a criminal. I received approval without incident (can't wait to keep my shoes on, not remove my laptop and go to the front of the security line) and waited while mister was interviewed at length. It appears that about five or six years ago he had a customs 'violation' . Apparently he had one under measure lobster in a shipment  he exported which was audited at the border and paid the $50 fine. Considering he's exported over seven million pounds of crustaceans in the past six years it is not a bad statistic. He did ultimately receive his Nexus card and saved himself a second trip down. We visited with the newlyweds and discovered Aceburgers which are gourmet burgers in the city. Great pub food. 

Hosted a birthday BBQ for my baby sister and family / friends turned  out to celebrate. Had a great spread and a visit - thoroughly enjoy watching those four great nieces and nephew in action as it makes us wonder how we ever did it when our own were the same age… Always good to get together and eat burgers and ice cream cake, so someone has to have a birthday! Joined my buddy at senior swim in the municipal pool - was a balmy 82 F at 9 am and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Caught up on the news and decided to continue our chat while visiting the U-Pick wildblueberry patch. Managed to pick about four pounds of lovely fat berries in two hours and I ordered a 5 lb. box to be picked. Made a great blueberry buckle with the fresh berries which I served to guests (friends from the cruise) who came to stay overnight. We had a double date for the movies on a rainy Sunday and took in the latest version of Mission Impossible which was rather good. Any movie which can keep the interest of both genders for 2 hrs and 15 min. must be doing something right. 

We had a week long 'get away' to the USA, and although it is not the best time for exchanging Canadian to American dollars the shore captain always does the purchasing as I snarl about the 35 cent difference and he just smiles thinking of the profit from seafood exports he sends stateside. We drove an hour to the ferry and took the Nova Star from Yarmouth to Portland, Maine which was painless. There has been a lot of whining (mostly from those who have never taken the ferry) of our NS tax dollars subsidizing the service but at least it is a quality product - unlike the rural broadband program which is a farce - however I digress). The ship was immaculate, the staff very polite and professional, buffet lunch was delicious although a bit pricey, the gift shop carried quality NS and Maine products, musicians were good and we thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting (sommelier featured NS wines) and the three hour nap which followed. Beautiful cruise into Portland and we were serenaded by the Beach Boys concert taking place on the dock when we arrived. Hotel across the street and a great supper. 

Caught the Amtak Downeaster the next day to Boston's north station, the T connection for the commuter train out to the hotel. Our only 'misstep' was getting off one stop too early as per the hotel directions,  but when I phoned a cab they suggested we just get back on the next commuter train to our destination as the Residence Inn Marriott was very close to the station. There was a bit of 'negotiation' with the travel partner as when we arrived at the final stop the conductor instructed left then right. A passenger suggested the hotel was across the freeway and I noticed a path on the left up the side of the bank to the highway. Sounds pretty simple eh? Well…..there was arguing, snarling and downright refusal from my partner to walk on the side of the road due to safety concerns, even stating it was illegal! I made an executive decision (the reservation was in my name) took the path, then the fews steps up the side of the highway to the crosswalk (he eventually followed) where the name on the hotel became visible across the road. There wasn't even a foreign language involved!!! The hotel was lovely with great staff, so a shower, cab to town for a wonderful American Italian supper and back and all was right with the travel world again. 

Saturday we arranged for transport to the Xfinity Center then enjoyed the inclusive breakfast and chatted with Parrotheads readying themselves for the day (a guy from Maryland was attending his 85th Jimmy Buffett concert having driven from Pittsburg's Thursday concert). We had a great cab driver, Joe who was a concert groupie as well so a wonderful chat to the venue. Now… I explain how the day unfolded, please remember the fantastic time I had last summer with my female buddy at our first tailgate, and be aware that at almost 59 years of age I have made many mistakes which I will not repeat (I make new ones) By 45 minutes into the tailgate I had already texted my girlfriend and said "you are on the list for parrot head duty after this, he is crossed off the invite". Taking the shore captain to a Parrothead tailgate is on the DO NOT REPEAT list for a number of reasons as listed below and remarkably he is still alive, only because I didn't think I'd make bail in a foreign country:

1. he attended for the concert (Huey Lewis & The News) at 7 pm - not the day
2. we arrived at 11 am, he decided we were there 'too early, no one is walking around' and stated disappointedly "this is what you do?"
3. he had zero interest in visiting,  strode at least 20 feet ahead of me past the booths and returned to wait impatiently for me
4. he resisted all offers of food and drink (the exception one Land Shark beer which I insisted on) questioned if food was 'spiked'?
5. stated "this is all for people's own personal use" when I suggested a treat being offered 
6. he whined about the heat,  sighed frequently and wore a face as if doing funeral home visitation
7. walked away from karaoke, any music or conversations, refused to participate in any contests or games
8. pointed out "we've seen all this before" when I attempted to circulate and said "let's go" frequently
9. asked repeatedly what time it was and commented there was no food to buy (of course not - it's all being given away) 
10. complained about the concert seats (better than last years) and stated he should've brought binoculars

Inventive Booth
The Captain and Me - Not
Huey Lewis & The News were great and Jimmy Buffett was even better than last year - the crowd agreed. A few claps of thunder and streaks of lightening with only sprinkles as the concert ended early due to predicted weather. As we made our way out of the stadium and through the parking lot, the heavens opened up as if someone was dumping buckets of water over us and we were quickly soaked through to the skin. I phoned the cab driver who was on his way to our meeting spot at the gas bar and he appeared momentarily to rescue us. Great timing and wonderful to have someone local to make their way in such reduced visibility - took some folks hours to make it back to their hotels apparently. The shower and sleep of the exhausted were welcomed. Sunday breakfast the next morning included many parrot heads readying to move on to the next Buffett concert in the circuit. 

JFK Library
We caught the first commuter train of the day into south station in Boston, transferred on the T over to the World Trade Centre and dropped our knapsacks (not allowed at Fenway Park) at the hotel then back to the subway as we were on a tight schedule to meet the daughter ad son in law at the game and were only two stops from the ballpark when mister says "do you have the tickets?" which is a prank he frequently pulls when he has the object in question. Unfortunately in this case, he did not. Momentary panic while we regrouped, up to the street (which was barricaded for the Dominican parade) 
Bo Sox vs Mariners
and over to the Crown Plaza hotel to have the bellman hail us a cab. The cabbie (who was well tipped) drove us back to the hotel and then out to Fenway with time to spare. We had great seats on the third base line and it was Boston in August hot - pretzels, lemonade and ice cream bars helped (the game went to 12 innings so we sure got our moneys worth). The four of us travelled back on the T to the hotel, quick shower and off to supper at Del Friscos. Had a wonderful waiter, great meal and catch up with the kids. They were off early Monday morning for their commute home and we had a more restful day. Off on the subway/shuttle to JFK Museum in Dorchester - highly recommend it - until early afternoon. Enjoyed the hotel pool while we watched others enjoy the gym then a reservation for supper at Salvatores - great Italian restaurant on the waterfront which was as good as the Little Italy version. 

Tuesday saw us with an early start as we caught the shuttle to north station, grabbed a quick Dunkin Donuts breakfast and boarded the DownEaster for the return to Portland. Retrieved the truck and headed out to the coast of Maine touring Boothbay Harbour, Rockport etc. Enjoyed 
Folk Art
this folk art on the street in Camden, here on the right. We stopped outside of Bangor for supper at McLaughlins - a seafood take out - which was great! I had lobster quesadillas which I'll be recreating for sure. There were a really high maintenance senior couple ordering in front of us providing the entertainment "I'm on a diet - I just won't eat, go ahead make my day, I won't eat the fries" etc etc while his wife tortured the poor young waitress (who most surely is studying to be an elementary teacher with her patience) Finally found a room at the Comfort Inn near the I-95 and crashed for the night. Breakfast, on the road and up through Houlton border crossing without incident although the female customs officer was surprised I hadn't bought anything "I was with him" I explained. Although in fairness I'm a Frenchys gal when it comes to retail therapy. We stopped for lunch and a catch up visit with a former coworker now in NB and then on the road for the long commute. Home by 11 pm to find all was well with the house/pet sitter having left for work that day.

August has moved along and shortly we're looking at the end of summer. July was really cold and this past couple of weeks has been extremely warm and muggy. Humidity has been 100% and the floor wet as if a bucket of water was thrown on it. We began yesterday with a thunderstorm, bit of rain, fog and finally the sun broke through. It was so sticky I retrieved the fan (which I used for sleeping during the day while working nights - glad I was spared that at least) and the cats have been sitting in front of it. Must be really hot to have a fur coat you can't remove. The ground is quite dry and the duck pond is low, so we could use some rainfall. I mean if it's going to be sunless, we should at least receive some measurable precipitation. Makes the 8c in Sachs Harbour sound appealing….Today was one degree cooler and it does feel as if it might rain…. There were a number of weddings this weekend - melting I'm sure. As one of my nursing school classmates explained, her daughter went to Walmart for school supplies for the grandkids and she went along for the air conditioning. 

I had such an excursion as I got out of the way of the cleaning lady on Friday morning and scored large at Frenchys. Found capris, leggings, gym pants, six (count em six) pairs of new underwear and a new fleece pullover with the $70 tag on it for the old guy, blanket, book, softball and socks, Chatted with a mother of one of the babies I used to visit nine years ago when I worked Public Health. Ran errands, picked up groceries and was home to a sparkling house - what is not to like?

The shore captain had a busy day with several boats (including the boy Captain making his first halibut trip) to unload as one unexpected came in early due to ice melting - the water was warm and humidity made it worse. Had to hook up the reefer unit to chill the fish until the transport loads in the morning. Tomorrow is expected to be a repeat of the same. Will have to remember this in the winter when we are muttering about the cold. The electrician daughter has extended her stay in Cuba and is likely having comparable to Maritimes temperatures from the sounds. 

Must apply myself to the coursework - good bedtime sedative.