Thursday, July 27, 2017

Packing procrastination

Into the final procrastinations for packing as the work commute begins on Sunday morning. I did manage to get electronics charged and my knapsack put together, easier as more stuff is coming home than going north this time. I feel like I've been packing (unpacking) for the past week. I'm packed for the Greek adventure six weeks early as I won't be making it all the way home from work before leaving again - the travel partner will have to bring the backpack and travel clothes to the city when he meets me. And we had a three day multi family camping trip to Kejimkujik National Park which included rain and wind so stacks of wet gear to be cleaned, dried and repacked. Camping is work and inclement weather camping is a lot of work. It was great to see the grandchildren enjoying the park as much as their parents did though. Our daughter brought their canoe so there were two excursions where the grandson assured me that he'd seen beavers, snapping turtles, fish etc. although these sightings were not confirmed by his aunties. Mind you, he was also convinced that BigFoot was in the park as his uncle had him knock on a tree trunk and the creature responded! As our son-in-law said "those other campers were sure looking at me funny as I hid and whacked that log". The best part was his baby cousin who has begun to use her index finger to indicate things of interest pointing into the trees with the rest of us. When I suggested that mister should go check out the wooded area (where he was adamant he'd seen a brown hairy arm wave) he declined stating that he wasn't scared, just didn't want to. Campfire smores, making new friends, trips to the playground, great food, card games and cousins playing. A good time was had by all! 

The swimming lessons resulted in two (count em) two badges and the little man is in Level 4 now, just has to work on the distances to move up. It was too cold to get in to the lake at Kedge and although the pool here was balmy last week, it is a frigid 70F this week. The water was looking a bit murky last weekend so the shore captain drained, scrubbed the liner with javex (using a headlamp) and refilled the pool on the high tide at midnight. Unfortunately I won't be able to partake if it ever warms again. This summer has been the cool and wet one predicted unfortunately. There was snow in Sachs Harbour last week, but summer snow doesn't stay so I'm not expecting any by Monday and at least the bugs will have disappeared. By mid September I'll be putting the winter jacket and boots I left in the closet to use though.

The rookie season has been continuing with the grandson becoming more likely to make contact with the ball. The bat, batting gloves and mitt his grandfather outfitted him with for a grading present is getting good use. Have gotten used to warming the bleachers again after a decade away and will miss that as well next month. Oh well….next summer there won't be this trade off.

When the grandson was here for his swimming lesson week his grandfather suggested they'd like strawberry shortcake so I prepared the fruit and baked sweet biscuits. Our grandson came in from 'helping' in the greenhouse and said "that smells like pancakes cooking" so I explained it was the biscuits. He said "smells some good" and I said "hasn't anyone made you strawberry shortcake before?" and he said "once" and named one of the places he stays clarifying that she "bought the stuff at the store, like cool whip and those cakes". I'm sure his great grandmother would not have been impressed to hear that. Tonight I picked up a box of wild blueberries from the Upick as I have run out of time to get them myself. With all the moisture this year they're large and juicy and would be easy picking. They'll be waiting for me to bake in November.

The greenhouse and outside beds are yielding great produce and we have been enjoying zucchini, cucumbers, radish, onions, lettuce of various kinds, spinach, mesclun mix, basil and other herbs. The peppers and tomatoes are beginning to ripen. And yes, another thing to miss as the harvest continues. If you're local and driving by….help yourself. I've made a batch of pesto this evening to freeze and did you know that you can make radish top pesto? It's delicious, milder than basil and a good use of something I would've previously thrown in the compost. Told the shore captain he'll have to become an expert canner as well.

Have been making the rounds and visiting friends/family as I wind up my time off. Had an afternoon of tea and conversation with a retired friend and her grand dog, ran in to several folks in my rounds at the stores, made a trek to another community and walked the beach with two friends (one home from Alberta) and stopped for tea/dessert - the strawberry/rhubarb dumpling with ice cream is what dreams are made off! And we compared notes on the pneumonia prevention vests we've started (she knitting and me crocheting) which are a feel good project. Last evening was a walk on the beach and a Dan's date to catch up on news and make some cruise plans for the upcoming 'Operation Mario' adventure. This morning I had my summer neighbour over for breakfast (we've both been so busy that we have to schedule ourselves in) and she left stating that I was exhausting her with my pace so she needed a rest. Tomorrow is a day of errands - rock pit fixed in windshield, lunch with nursing school classmates, haircut and a stop to pick up the Euros I've ordered from the bank and then a visit to my sister. Saturday is grocery shopping and a few minutes snatched with the grandchildren which will have to last for six weeks for the baby (I'll see her again on my 24 hrs in the city September 14) and three months for the little guy.

So….off to bed as the time zone dance will soon be kicking my butt. Don't want to think of what 9 hrs (three from west to east in Canada then six more to Greece) within 24 hrs will do for my carcass in September. Mind you that list of ten cyclades we've mapped out to visit is looking mighty fine. Next update from the land of the northern sun.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rhinoceros, rhinoceros….

As the life partner remarked….these short summers sure slip away quickly don't they? I'm into the final two weeks of my 'at home' time and cannot believe how they are disappearing. Mind you, Maritime summers are brief to begin with and I've been trying to pack mine into the month of July, knowing I won't be home again until November after a six week work rotation followed by six weeks of vacationing in the Greek Islands. Tough schedule, but I'm up for it. Ha!

But first a bit of a recap of the last two weeks festivities. We travelled to the city for my oncology clinic appointment - which was great - and were pleased to have my surgeon as he was on his first day back after having both knees replaced (he and I both understand the being on the other side of the bedrail situation) I shared how pleased I'd been to return to work and he agreed. I suggested that the BS is what wears us down and he said "well it's been good so far but it's only 11 am, I'm sure there's lots of time for it yet before the day is over".  I asked about the three to four monthly checkup schedule as it related to travel plans and he said "you make your plans and we'll work around them" which is just what we wanted to hear. When I discussed the schedule he stated that "research shows that patients with your pathology who aren't scheduled for checkups but followup for symptoms do as well as those who come for regular appointments, the reason we call patients back is to be sure they haven't developed any problems because many people won't followup, I'm not worried about you as you'll come in". Ahhh so no need to worry about what will be found at a visit if one is feeling well, much better way to approach these checkups. So the 'working around' my travel plans will fit a checkup in between return from Greece and before a girls getaway cruise in the fall (more on that to follow) think I can manage that. 

After leaving the clinic we headed to the mission and dropped off some hotel toiletries (given out to street people) which a neighbour had sent along and a bag of crocheted hats I'd stashed in the closet as it will be winter again you know. The donations were much appreciated. A quick drive through stop and out onto the highway as we had made plans to visit a friend in New Brunswick. I managed to crochet an angel wing pinafore for the granddaughter and was tickled to discover that it fit her perfectly. I had succumbed to a local yarn shop called Erin's Hooked on Yarn which is stocking wonderful new products at decent prices, especially great colours for little girls. I mean with a description as a supply store for fibre enthusiasts….how can you go wrong? I'll be back, once I find a way to hide the ever growing stash that is. I do have an idea though as I noticed an article in the local paper which referenced a knitting group which meets at the library (I've marked the calendar for Tuesdays numerous times and have yet to make it) where they created pneumonia prevention vests. One of the participants (a former nursing colleague) had begun the project through the ACW (Anglican Church Women) who send them overseas. There is a crochet version online which I've located at:

which is a great place to access all sorts of free (or paid) knitting and crochet patterns. And as you can see, it's not going to win any fashion contests but will keep a small body warm. It's very basic, will go to a good cause and will be a nice change from the hats I've been doing. Might even reduce my stash a bit. The problem is though that when folks hear you're working on such altruistic projects….they contribute all sorts of yarn to the cause, at least this is what's been happening with the hat creation caper. I'm going to attempt a vest over the next few days as I've made a car service appointment for Tuesday afternoon so I can walk down to the library and see if my creation looks close to the ones being shipped. I hear they don't discriminate against crocheters so I'm thinking it may motivate me towards another semi-retirement activity to accompany my dishcloths, hats and market bags. 

The visit in NB also extended to the US as we opted for a day trip down to St. Georges, over on the (free) Deer Island ferry with a stop in the lovely picnic / camping park overlooking the water and then off to Campobello Island on the ferry (reasonably priced at $16 for the vehicle and $3 per person) to explore Roosevelt Campobello International Park:

which was a lovely bit of history and something I've wanted to tick off the bucket list for years. Picked up a great Eleanor's Cookies cookbook and opted to download Beloved Island at home (price is one aspect but the logistics of what to do with the actual books is the other). It was a beautiful warm, calm day, just perfect for exploring. We drove off the island via the bridge to Lubec, Maine and up through the border crossing at Calais and 'home' to the Loch Pub & Grill in Harvey where we had a wonderful supper. A leisurely breakfast and visit (told my friend we'd give her 5 stars for her B&B) and we were off to the ferry in Saint John to cross the Bay of Fundy to Digby. A short stop for gardening supplies and we were home by suppertime. Lovely mini vacation.

The following morning I had a spa appointment. then headed out for a girls getaway with the teacher daughter and granddaughter. The original plans had included the nurse daughter but the sinus infection she was battling didn't allow her to accompany us, hateful to be sick on your days off and well enough to return to work as scheduled. We made our way to Pictou for supper and the baby was the entertainment of the restaurant, she wasn't a big fan of the carseat after all that freedom, but we were pretty quickly at the Seafoam Shore B&B. Recently opened by a couple who have relocated from Ontario it's a newish bungalow, trailer and cottage arrangement. It was immaculate, lovely redone rooms complete with lavender chocolates and a delicious breakfast. And I must say, the owners were not as eccentric as many B&B owners I've encountered. It was located next to a lavender farm and near to River John (our destination) but first we journeyed to Tatamagouche for the farmers market. Found some lovely herbs, a rope basket, vegan soap and delicious baked goods. The Margaret Fawcet Norrie Heritage Centre was open and there was free admission until 10 am so we popped in - lovely exhibits about the creamery, farming life and some interesting palaeontology as well. We stopped at the Lismore Sheep Farm and Wool Shop and despite the wonderful collection, we didn't purchase anything just moved along to the barn where the granddaughter was thrilled with the baby lambs with their mothers, sheep dogs and even a highland calf. Fun! Back to River John for the day of Read by the Sea which included readings and panel interviews by authors
Christy Ann Conlin, Dean Jobb, Lesley
Authors panel 
Crewe and Terry Fallis. There were great food trucks for lunch with delicious options and I even met up with a former OH&S colleague from 20 years ago. The baby was extremely well behaved and very popular with all the grandparents present. I purchased some books but didn't opt for signed copies - guess it's a sign of my transition to e-books where there are no signed editions. It was all in all a great day and one that we should make an annual event. We made one stop at Sheree Fitch's children's book store outside of River John:

It's a lovely spot with Canadian books and the granddaughter was gifted with one in each of our official languages - an Arctic alphabet board book and a French picture book to share with her friend Eloise. We were back to city in good time as the baby napped. I overnighted with there and in the morning had lunch with a friend in Chezzetcook at a lovely restaurant / shop:

Was a great catchup and the meal was delicious. I did restrain myself from purchases, but it wasn't easy. Nice way to spend a few hours on a Sunday. Along the way I discovered that my son was engaged and had proposed to his girlfriend of a few years at our camp, taking along a ring made from her great grandmothers engagement ring - not sure where the romantic touches came from, don't think they were inherited through the paternal line.

This past week has been grandson focused with daily swimming lessons at the lake, ball practice and game, swimming in the pool, visiting the greenhouse, archery practice, books, games and more games. Oh and of course I can't forget to mention…the losing of the first baby tooth. This initiated a text discussion with his mother about what the tooth fairy 2017 rate is as I planned to set a precedent of $2 being as he has a lot of teeth. She informed me that $20 is not unheard of. Can you imagine? He has no concept between a toonie and a twenty dollar bill so why would you do that? He informed me that there were male and female fairies with the gender being specific to the boy or girl being visited and was thoroughly tickled with the $2 in the morning. At one point while driving home from the lake mister is discussing that he'd like to go to New York and take a cruise again and so I ask about the destination and without hesitation he says "Africa". When I suggest that he's not the only grandchild now so his 10 month old baby cousin will have to come too (not a problem for him as he is very taken with her) he says "oh she'll love it" and then imitating a squeaky baby voice informs me that she'll clap her hands and say "rhinoceros, rhinoceros" I phone my daughter to advise of this travel planning and although we both agree that the baby's brilliant we're unsure about the new word (she's still conquering mama and dada) but my daughter promises to work on it - mister interjects that she can start with just rhino. My nerves.

The previously mentioned girls getaway 10th anniversary cruise is officially booked. The plan of last year ( meant to raise spirits during my health struggles) to connect with Super Mario (who has NOT aged as well as we have according to a photo in an online article) on a Royal Caribbean ship has been realized. We are booked for two back to back cruises of four and three days respectively out of Miami on the Enchantment of the Seas after research to ascertain this is the correct ship. As I told the young agent (who thankfully found the situation funny not creepily inappropriate) the itinerary, location of cabin, seating for dining are all inconsequential, our intent is surprise the gentleman at the Latin dance bar a la 2007. Well, my travel partner will be the surprise, I'm going to practice being the official photographer of us having fun. And as if it were a sign that this is to be….Jr suites were the same price as balcony rooms when I checked and the agent found us a nice one on the stern of the ship. Meant to be obviously. Have some travels planned but I can state emphatically that this trip will be the one where my stomach muscles will need a rest from after all the laughing.

Today I visited with one of the neighbours as she and two friends (both of whom I know from my former lives - one from committee work and the other from nursing) are planning a cruise and wanted some inside information. I had a nice visit, answered some questions, shared my scrapbooks / photo books and then headed home to take the grandson to swimming lessons. I am pleased (and proud) to report that the lad managed to complete both level two and three this week and is now working on four with the distance component being his only hold up. One of those situations where he'd likely manage it with another week of lessons in August (if his Nanak was going to be home to take him) but next year I won't have to be making those kind of trade offs. 

Time to call it a night, so many projects, so little time. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Bear's Hair

Happy birthday Canada - as if we Canadians need a reason in the summer (or any time of year) to get together to eat, drink and be merry. The weather hasn't cooperated (this weekend is one in a long string of wet, grey, cold days) and the fireworks were cancelled but some soggy parades took place and lots of visiting was done. In fact here we were pleased to host our buddies who have relocated to the prairies and were briefly (always too short a visit) home to see family and friends. Amazing isn't it how that someone you haven't seen in three years can walk back into your living room and the conversation picks up as if three days had passed? Not to mention that both of us have had lots of healthcare system contact in the past year with her having a hip replacement (much shorter western waiting period) and now wearing a air boot the past seven weeks for a fracture. We enjoyed a feed of lobsters, strawberry rhubarb custard pie and some adult beverages while catching up with new and old friends. Breakfast, then we played with the family tree program (she is much more diligent than myself with this hobby) and with less than 24 hrs of togetherness we sent them on their way to another family function. 

Speaking of family, we had the grandson with us last weekend and that was a fun time. I picked him up and we did the 'drop in' session at the local museum - he remembered a field trip there the previous school year - and he discovered how to be an archivist. That poor summer student earned her wages with all the questions! Of course we had to browse the gift shop and he chose one of those grow op things (think pantyhose filled with grass seeds) which sprout and remind those of us of a certain age of a rather disturbing Chia pet… We soaked and set up the bear and I promised faithfully NOT to cut its hair until he returned. Have been texting his mother with updates and his response is WHOA!!!! Not sure, if I'm going to be able to keep my barber promise as the stuff is growing faster than the cat grass Mikey is addicted to, mind you it must not be the same flavour as the kitties have been ignoring it. We picked up groceries and he is a pretty good help with such chores, especially if a few treats are included. The rainy weather lent itself to reading books, working through his National Geo Kids issues which had arrived, creating with Lego and cooking. Sunday was fine and so that was a good day to explore the shore and do a marine biology lab on periwinkles, limpets and barnacles. Put him on the bus for his final full day of school on Monday. He of course missed his Tia who is in Cuba visiting her husband.

I journeyed to my physio appointment last week and was pleased to not require my ligament injection by the rhuematologist as my back was in good alignment. Got my hip/knee straightened out from crawling around weeding in the yard (something that I wasn't able to do at all last year) and was on my way. 

I had tentative plans of visiting a buddy in the Digby area and perhaps doing a Frenchy's stop on the way but…various situations prevented this from occurring… host was called upon to assist with moving of furniture (the hazard of owning a pickup truck) then my proposed travel partner was diagnosed with lumbar compression fracture (vs muscle spasm) then our daughter was down for a visit and of course I wanted to see her, so instead she and I 'did lunch' on the waterfront enjoying quesadillas with fruit salsa and greek pizza. Yum:

Forgoing the spinach and strawberry salad was a tough choice though. We shopped at the home health division of the pharmacy and I picked up my compression hose (got to get all my insurance purchases in while I still have benefits) while she found two scrub tops on 75% sale so we were pleased with our outing. 

The lack of physicians in this province is an ongoing struggle and our local ER was closed for 48 hrs last week. This combined with my Muslim GP celebrating Eid Mubarak in Montreal meant I had to be creative to access an antibiotic prescription. Emailed my Doc a photo of the bullseye from a tick bite (one of many this season and it's tough when you're a moley person to keep on top of those things) and we did a phone consult where I negotiated for amoxicillin vs doxycycline (hard on my belly) and he agreed to fax in the Rx. So many folks don't even have a family physician…as I said to a former coworker…who would've thought 30 yrs ago that we'd be having this discussion about not having a family Dr?

I did something on Friday evening which I hadn't done for over a decade - watch a softball game - and many things hadn't changed. Our grandson was behind the plate as catcher and didn't seem in fear of the ball or bats (a common problem in the early years) as he diligently cleared the bats from the baseline, stood in the box and occasionally even caught some of the pitches lobbed in. For both teams there were as I remembered, several adults required in the dugout to maintain order and focus, the rules were not entirely clear to most of those playing, should the ball be hit the batter had to be encouraged to RUN RUN RUN!! while indicating the direction, the outfielders had to be reminded to "watch the play" and the bleachers/lawn chairs contained supportive nonjudgmental cheerleaders, the difference being the folks I recognized were now watching grandchildren as I was. One of the more exciting plays of the evening was a popup fly to left which bounced with a sickening thud off the hood of a visiting team parent's car (locals, including myself, having the forethought to park further down the street). The showers held off until just as the players congratulated each other….good game, good game and then we all sprinted for our vehicles. There were a few pretty good players on both sides and the remainder were, shall we say… development stage. As I described to his grandfather when I returned from the scouting session…well, the lad wasn't the worst on the team, in fact he was as good as his father was at the same age. This brought some reminiscing from the years of the shore captain's little league coaching career. Also made the decision for a 'grading present' easier as he could use a larger glove - the premise being that he would have a larger area to attract to and hopefully trap the ball in.

Planning a little girls outing next weekend as the two daughters, granddaughter and myself are heading to Pictou County to take in Read by the Sea:

Although there is no longer a supper as part of the festivities at the local Legion, there's a decent line up of authors and the area boasts a farmers market, sheep and lavender farms and more. I've arranged for two rooms in a B&B and we're all looking forward to it.