Monday, June 19, 2017

Ten Years and Counting

As I checked back in the archived posts from ten (yes you read that correctly….ten years ago) and more on the reason why I was revisiting that decade later, I noticed that in 2007 I had posted 200 times and with half of this year completed, I've managed 20…hmmm. Don't think my life has gotten less exciting, must be the novelty of blogging has worn off. 

Enjoyed a wonderful weekend away and if you ever have thoughts of staying at Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash, I urge you to follow through on that decision. As the life partner and myself both grew up and then raised our family in a centurion house, we felt very much at home. Nice to be able to bring your own wine, snacks and lunch and it's reasonably priced at $99/night. The memoir writing workshop was wonderful as Marjorie Simmins is both an excellent writer and great teacher. A bonus was that she brought along her (much older) husband, Silver Donald Cameron and he is a funny, charming guy who is writing a book about the murder / lobster feud in Isle Madame where they live (I'll be first in line when that comes out I promise). He most certainly looked and acted much younger than his 81 years. I was amused to find that of the two, he was the technological wizard using foursquare on his smartphone (you know - where you swipe your credit card) to take payment for her books, knew how to e-transfer funds and is responsible for setting up the transcription service Marjorie uses. They've just driven from Vancouver and a cross Canada trip in an RV is quite a journey for a driver of any age. Friday evening was a well attended double reading with a local author Sara Jewell reading from her memoir Field Notes and Marjorie reading from Coastal Lives and The Year of the Horse. I bought both Field Notes and Coastal Lives and they are great! There were interesting people attending the workshop - two who work in film in Halifax (both transplanted through NSCAD from Ontario) and two from Cape Breton who were (as expected) very funny and easy going. An eclectic group with various focuses for the memoirs planned. I think I finally have the structure / motivation to get going on mine. An epiphany was Marjorie's suggestion I use a transcription service, dictating my stories, then edit them when the typed copy is returned. Another 'aha' moment was that for structure I could cycle my original northern time 40 years ago with the present. Maybe I'll finally stop being a memoir groupie and move on. 

We shopped at Masstown Market on the way up (for provisions) and the return (for breakfast and fruit, especially the beautiful strawberries for the season's first shortcake) and what a great spot it is:

And to think I remember it from the time it was a farm gate market on the way to my grandmothers in River Phillip. This was long before toll or even divided highways were thought of, but I'm dating myself. 

Pugwash is a nice little tourist town, one that I remembered (also Tatamagouche) as day trips in
Hand sweaters
childhood summers. The shore captain particularly enjoyed watching the lobster boats (it's currently open season in that area) and large cargo ships carrying salt. We visited the Pugwash farmers market on Saturday morning before the workshop where the resident gardener invested in some transplants and I savoured a delicious cinnamon roll. There were lovely crafts, great veggies and wonderful friendly folks. Would sure be a regular destination if I was a member of cottage country on the Northumberland Gulf. 

And speaking of summer vacationing, last evening was spent booking some camp sites at Kejimkujik National Park. Since 2017 is Canada's 150th birthday and park entry fees were waived, it's become a popular destination and weekends were all booked up. After a few false starts we were able to select, view and online reserve two sites in Jim Charles for a few week days next month - the benefit of a teacher and nurse shift worker daughter versus weekend only employees. Looking forward to introducing another generation to the camping life and hoping they enjoy it as much as our own brood did at their ages. I spent some time this morning sorting camping accessories as it's been some time since we used them - did you know that Ivory soap ages to a dark brown? Me neither. Now fingers crossed for a decent forecast as we've had wind, fog and rain for the last few days here. Mind you, in summers past we have visited Ross Farm, Annapolis Royal and the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum just to shelter from the weather for the day.

Planning to register the grandson for a week of swimming lessons again this year and considering a cooking class that is being offered for his age group. The Recreation Department brochure provides me as much entertainment as it did a few decades ago. Now, if I could just get my schedule on track to attend one of his ballgames my deja vu summer would be complete.

Since this is the 10th anniversary of the original cruise which my friend and I made where she connected with Super Mario - the gentleman who cruises year round out of Miami on his 100th Royal Caribbean cruise - we have made plans to surprise and show him that she's aged MUCH more gently than he has, according to a publicity photo in an article we found last summer.  Having done some research (on one of the cruise bulletin boards) and requesting his whereabouts I ascertained he is cruising on the Enchantment of the Seas for the next year. At present the ship is doing three and four day cruises to Bahamas which allows him two days per week to attend to business at his Bay of Biscayne condo. The itinerary is rather tame with Naussau, Coco Bay (private island) and Key West as the ports of call. But as we discussed, this would allow for more enjoyment of the ship itself if the destinations were familiar to us. We plan to do so called 'back to back' cruises to make it a week and in November discounts of over 60% result in a reasonably priced girls getaway. I am just waiting for my travel partner to let me know which dates work for her as my only stipulation was that I have a chance to settle in from my Greek islands adventure, before leaving again. Got to keep that extended summer gig going. 

Well off to get started on an e-book I downloaded from the library called The Other Einstein about Albert's wife. Couldn't resist and the 21 day borrow period has me on task. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eat less chicken

We are safely home and more or less settled after arriving a week ago. An uneventful three days of travelling for the most part - just the way I like my commutes thank you. A bit of turbulence along the way, including some aerobatics coming in to Inuvik in a small plane with strong crosswinds and then a major dip to the left (threw the life jacket out from beneath the seat) on the 737 as we approached the station stop the next afternoon in Norman Wells (must've been the down draft between the mountains in the Mackenzie River Valley). We headed in to the terminal to stretch our legs and the travel partner got it into his head that he'd seen his luggage in a storage bay. I attempted to reassure him that the luggage is not off loaded here but he was not to be calmed so I said "go ask at the Canadian North desk then" and watched as he approached two clerks - the first was kindly reassuring but gave him a wary look, the second was emphatic and I watched her shaking her head NO adamantly and completely discounting the possibility. The two of them gave each other knowing looks as he walked away. When he returned I said "they don't believe it anymore than I do then?" and he sheepishly agreed. His pain was eased when the action packer containing the muskox skull and duffle bag of frozen geese fish came off the carousel in Edmonton. Muskox skull you say? Oh yes, if one is exporting such a thing a tag must be issued by ENR (no tags were available in the community) so this required a pre-flight field trip to the ENR office in Shell Lake and a receipt from someone back on the island (the clerk at the health centre was kind enough to write and fax this) so a tag was issued. We spent a few hours in Edmonton with a Cuban friend (and his missus) having some adult beverages and snacks at the hotel and sharing the Cuban wedding photos. Good for the shore captain to meet the missus and we all had a great catchup. A quick Edmonton to Calgary hop the next morning and then direct flight to Halifax where I sat next to a lady travelling with five other friends/sisters to Scotland, England and then a cruise to the Canary Islands. Ahhh envy is such a negative emotion. We were met by our son-in-law at the airport and stopped for a visit with our three girls and granddaughter (who is now crawling as the military do on obstacle courses) and has excellent fine motor skills (managed to extricate her auntie's passport from her wallet and 'read' it). We were home by 11 pm and after a few days of acclimatizing have finally gotten the time zones sorted out. 

Before updating this blog further, let me just instruct you (if you haven't already seen it) to watch the movie Maudie - it's the Maud Lewis biography. It was sad, but not as overwhelming as I've heard it described - mind you that was by someone who cries over commercials. I've just returned from a screening at the local arts centre (it played in movie theatres while I was out of the country) and it was a sold out show tonight. There should be nominations for Ethan Hawke and the female lead. It is being rescreened on Saturday night. This wouldn't work for me as I'm heading to Pugwash for the weekend, but more on that later. 

As I was getting settled in at home, I noticed all three cats acting (more) weirdly and looking out the veranda room door. Flicked on the light to find Mr Racoon had entered through the cat door and was munching the cat food left there for Stanley to snack on during the night. He calmly continued eating and was only mildly alarmed when I touched the door handle. Mikey did security duty staring the intruder down through the glass, Stan hid and Squeakers fixed him with an insulted stare as in 'you're the one who goes outside do something' look then glared angrily at the unwanted guest. The life partner was summoned and pronounced the visitor "cute" and left. After the food dish was empty, Mr Racoon took his leave. This is not the first time he's had take out here. 

This past week has been one of catching up on appointments and tasks while easing back into 'southern' life of hanging laundry out. Today was sunny but a bit cooler and I was able to walk to the mail in the afternoon and not have to wait for after supper cooler temps, a couple of days have been positively tropical and were enjoyed on the deck with BBQs. I made sure to run errands in the morning so as to enjoy the UV later in the day and have battled the blackflies and ticks on all fronts. The shore captain has been mowing, expanding his greenhouse, planting, building a new rose trellis and catching up on his office work. I've been crocheting some dishcloths (gotta get that stash down so I can see over the end of the sofa) and have been sharing them around. 

On one my drives as I listened to CBC there was a vegan being interviewed who was rallying for saving chickens by eating pork or beef as more lives are saved due to the number of meals their larger size provides, interesting concept:

Heading to Pugwash for the weekend as I'm attending a writing workshop being given by Marjorie Simmins (wife of Silver Donald Cameron if that helps) called The Minefields of Memory. Here's a link to a YouTube interview with the author in 2014 as her book Coastal Lives was launched:

Seems as if she'll be an interesting mentor. As part of the package she's already kindly critiqued some of my pages from my 'family stories folder' which I forwarded. I've gathered up my supplies as instructed and reviewed some materials (this is like the third memoir writing workshop I've taken…looking for motivation I think). The life partner is coming along (driving Miss Daisy) as we're visiting the granddaughter on the way and he approves of enjoying wine with the readings being given Friday night. If you watch the short video on the site it will make you want to stay as well I promise, it's a lovely heritage site:

I was pleasantly surprised to find a $99/night accommodation cost and use of the kitchen for lunch. The shore captain will be well able to amuse himself visiting wharves on the Gulf of St Lawrence for the day while I toil from 10 - 4. And, as he pointed out…rain is forecast for the weekend so not likely much carpentry/gardening on the go anyway. 

Well, time to crawl into bed as we've opted for an early start to ensure lots of visiting time. 28 years ago I was waiting to be induced for a beautiful baby girl. Ahhh how time flies eh?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Packing again, or is that still?

So, the final update in the month long rotation and I have to has gone by really quickly. The forecast for the next few days is good, with the scheduled departure on Tuesday looking promising. I smile when I see the overnight forecast of sunny after midnight up here..... We've been having a problem with cancelled flights because of the unsettled spring weather. With the open water as the sea ice melts, there is more moisture in the air and thus ice fog, rain, snow, hail, name it, we've had it the past while. Once over to the mainland, it's usually pretty smooth traveling so as long as the flight makes it in. Been a pain trying to get samples out to the lab within the window of opportunity for testing or medication over from the pharmacy.

The hunter accompanying me was a bit disappointed by the sudden disappearance of the snow geese but a combination of weather factors last week (fog, easterly winds, earlier spring) seem to be the culprit. The locals are disappointed as well of course. There were less eggs collected this season because it was too difficult to get 'up north' on the island to Egg River and there were multiple snowmobiles stuck in the rivers on return trips last weekend - videos of folks standing in waist high water on the seats, just handlebars sticking out of the ice etc. So the only available eggs were a few deposited around Middle Lake and the arctic foxes were waiting. Lots more folks in the community this week, back from the big white tents out on the land, so a bit more on the go with work.

I've been finishing up some craft projects this rotation and have (finally) managed to complete my sealskin slippers with beaver trim. Only two years in the making. They're much too warm for 'down
south' so will go into the storage box here. I've been crocheting a small throw, made a hat and even created a cover for the plant pot in the livingroom as the stash busting continues. Managed to read a couple of books too - one I found in the bookcase entitled Housecalls by Dogsled, written by a community health nurse in Fort MacPherson (another community here in the Beauford Delta region) in the 1960s. At present I'm reading an e-book about Jonathon Letterman who was in charge of battlefield medicine during the Civil War - gruesome conflict that it was - and the changes he made with ambulances, hospitals in barns at the edges of battle, interesting stuff....well at least to a nurse. 

Today was our 40th anniversary, quite a milestone by any measure, especially in today's disposable relationship climate. One thing I can say with certainty is....these four decades sure haven't been boring! It's become unusual that we spend our anniversaries together as I've been 'working away' the past few years, so today was a bonus.

I am on call today and spent the afternoon working. As the physician on call for the region said when I finally reached him after being on hold for a while "why is everyone doing this today? it's a beautiful afternoon, they should be out on the land". Couldn't agree more I told him, if they put me in a position to do an EKG then you know I'm going to fax it to you, even if it's normal. Add in another call with family drama and the double time paid on Sunday becomes even more relevant. I'm making plans to just work ten weeks of the year - for a number of reasons - the main one being that after all the life changing events of the past year....I want to do more of things I enjoy such as travel, enjoy our oceanfront home, hang out with friends, or just do nothing. Other reasons include that with my (small) pensions and some dividends drawn (mostly by the shore captain) from the company, anything over ten weeks salary will be paid back in income tax. I'm not interested in northern volunteering. Had a discussion with my manager and expressed interest in a couple of five week casual rotations spring and fall (the life partner will be otherwise occupied so gave his blessing) which she didn't discount so I'm looking at working my next rotation August/September and calling it a year. As I explained, I didn't leave on my own terms...I had to come back to prove to myself I could still do it (I did so) that I wanted to (I most certainly would miss it if I never returned) and figure out how it was going to play out in the longer term.

We were out for a while last evening fishing for arctic cod on the edge of the ice crack just in front of us, but no luck. And yes we were careful to only go along the skidoo tracks...yep, there are still snowmobiles out on the sea ice, and keep a look out for polar bears. There have been a few small cod caught recently and the seals like to sun themselves on the ice next to the edge, so there are surely fish there. Lots of fishing on the floe edge over in Nunavut, it's actually a popular spring excursion for fishermen. It's getting to be a challenge to get back to the lakes as there's too much ice/snow for ATVs and too little snow for skidoos -  kind of a switchover season until it's time to get out in the boats. Spring this year came the fastest that anyone here (even the elders) remembers and caught the locals off guard. Climate change is so dramatic here near the north pole.

So, time to get ready for my remaining two days of clinic. I have most of my things packed as I'm bringing home excess, storing and have gifted some. Nice to have the man servant to do laundry of bedclothes and towels on the final day versus chasing the washer/dryer during work hours. Today I tidied a bit as my contribution to the apartment. Since we're leaving the job share partner here, it's not the more thorough exit cleaning. We've been making jokes about our polygamous situation with the two sister wives, especially as I made us 'family breakfast' of bacon and fruit filled pancakes this morning, but I suspect she'll enjoy the solitude which comes with our departure. An update from much further south of here...I promise.