|Explosive in more ways than one.|
News From The North
Ongoing tales from one woman's ongoing worldwide travels.
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Covid, Christmas, and Other Tales
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Covid Chronicles 2
Well here we are, in year two of our pandemic, and I thought it might be about time to post something here, since I have been so remiss in doing something that I really love, which is writing. Right up there with nursing. So without further adieu, here are some musings.
1. Apple/Tree: It is easiest to start with the most recent story. My mind is readily filled with cobwebs these days in light of my own self imposed post-covid exposure isolation, being that I work in the thick of it in the North. I was recently diagnosed with H. Pylori, a lovely wee bug that can wreak havoc on your eating sensibilities...life without caffeine, at least temporarily, booze (yikes), and all things spicy because right now those things cause me grief. I will spare you the treatment details, all I can tell you is that I was best friends with my bathroom. However, I have reacted badly to both regimens, and the one thing you find out living on your own, is how alone you can feel. Thank goodness, I have the most amazing family and friends, I have been managing everything pretty much by phone, and by email. Technology is wonderful
Which brings me to the point of all of this. It will be 10 years ago next month that my Ma died from cancer. She lived alone for most of her latter years, stating that although she was alone, she was never lonely. I question that now. For years I was an almost daily visitor, then when my career took me in a different direction, I was only able to visit when I was home, phone from work, if not on call or late in the day. And those visits and calls became somewhat cumbersome to me at the time. The litany of symptoms over again. The inability to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, to try and manage her health care. Some days or evenings, I was just too self absorbed with my own life to make the call, I found them draining. But she did not have the benefit of technology, an email, a text. Those phone calls were the window with which she could connect with the world, and sadly, I dropped the ball in a lot of instances. I did what I thought was the best at the time. Only now do I realize that it could have been better, for her. Her world had shrunk, a lot of it self imposed by her, but that doesn’t remove the obligation of listening. That is all she wanted.
There is a certain healing to being listened to. What I have found is, that by accessing my friends whether by message or email or phone, I am able to be heard, and frequently calm myself down (I am NOT dying, when I re-read something I have typed), my self care plans are credible and doable, and the empathetic and sympathetic ears are a God send, even if my friends may be secretly screaming “Get on with it!”And here is the rub. I am suffering some of the same crummy complaints that my Ma had for years, and I can tell you, I have been feeling quite miserable, thank you very much. Karma. Always looking out for you.
Call your folks. Or your kids. Or whomever is special to you. Sure you might get an earful. But the solace that you will provide is priceless.
2. Fear of Flying: Certainly not improved when the emergency row exit doors both have duct tape on them, and caulking jobs that a grade two student could do better. Confidence building at its best.
|Red Green was here.|
3. The Worst Item To Clean: Is your Pepto Bismol cup if you forget to rinse it right after you chug it. Nasty.
4. Christmas: Is everyday with on line ordering. By the time your order arrives, you have forgotten what it was and when you ordered it. Back at the beginning of Covid, I ordered a bunch of bandanas, in March, to make my own makeshift cloth masks. Was told a month. they arrived in September. By then I owned every triple layer quilter’s cloth face mask known to man kind. And medical masks to boot. Thanks for the speedy delivery, Amazon. After Christmas was even better, with daily deliveries of things I had ordered before Christmas, for Christmas.
6. This Bookcase Will Self Destruct in 5...4...: Imagine my surprise finding my solid Ikea bookcase quite askew, books everywhere, upon return from a contract. Shelves had fallen upon each other, wood was splintered. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Apparently had been recalled years ago, saying the shelf supports were inadequate. I never received the notice, and since I didn’t have the bill to prove that I had bought the thing seven years ago, could not get a refund or credit. Lesson learned. I replaced it, with a Mennonite solid wood unit from St. Jacob’s. I can assure you, that when WW 3 hits and my building is vaporized, my bookcase et al will be intact in the rubble. See below.
|Need a redo?|
7. Things That Go Bump In The Night: The new bookcase inhabits my bedroom. Going to St. Jacob’s to buy furniture is like going to the Amazon warehouse of the wood trade. Things you might also like. Folks who bought the bookcase also bought these items. Well, at least I did....a chest of drawers. And a night side stand. All to match of course. I have no real use for head boards, they are something you have to dust. But wait, there’s more! If you buy it, we will knock an extra whole 5% off your total order. On top of the 15% already taken off. Well who can resist that? So now I have a head and foot board, and two matching bruises on my thighs. Because I bang into the corners of that foot board. Every. Single. Time.
8. Just Where is the Stairway to Heaven: During a recent visit to my folks’ and others’ graves, I decided to complete my daily walk in the cemetery. Now hear me out. Wherever I generally walk near my house, there is traffic. There are bikes, skateboards, roller blades, and assorted aged kids commandeering them, some mindful of where they are going, others basking in the joyful exuberance of just being a kid with no parental guidance. So a few peaceful laps among the dead and their visitors seemed like a great idea.
As I was strolling the back forty, lost in thought and prayer, a vehicle slowly pulled up to me, and the driver shyly asked me where lot 310 was. In my white shirt, black pants, and a rosary in my hands, she thought I worked there. In this cemetery, there is no lot 310, that I knew. However the lots are well into the 30s. I did my best to help her. Lot three, plot 10? There is no ground zero. It couldn’t be lot 31 plot zero....the office was the open for her to find out.
|May we all look this good once buried.|
This had me remembering of all the times I have been mistaken as an employee. Many times in Loblaws/Superstore, when one of their employee sort of uniform colours used to be green. I wore (and still wear) a green fleece polar vest in the winter, that with a white shirt just sang that I knew where to find light bulbs and parsley, and that I may have even known the price of Comet cleanser.
Or how about Lee Valley Tools? Same vest, and was able to help someone find a tool they were looking for in a show case, and then helped them to fill out the order form to take to the desk.
What reminded me of all this today is the t-shirt I pulled out to wear while cooking for the North. It is a fire fighter’s t-shirt from Playa del Carmen in Mexico. A Canadian expat I met there was selling them as a fund raiser for the local fire department. Lord knows they are not paid the way our Canadian counterparts are, and the equipment does not smack of the most advanced technology we are privy to here. Being short on clean clothes post medical mission, I bought a shirt, and sported it the next day while my dirties were at the laundry. I figured the shirt had been made up just for us tourists. Until several locals paused to thank me for every thing that I did. I was a bit perplexed until I found out that the firefighters actually wore these shirts. And that there had been an explosion on a nearby resort early that morning requiring said services. Having denied being the one to thank, I was then thanked profusely for supporting their firefighters. A truly humbling experience.
|If the dog fits...|
Friday, December 25, 2020
It is Christmas 2020. A different one in many ways. Or is it? So often times caught up in the hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget what is truly important in this life. We run races that we will never finish. We love conditionally, we are quick to judge unconditionally. We spend as if that is going to buy us more admiration and respect, and we receive sometimes without true gratitude. Christmas this year is a reminder of roots as human beings, as children of God. We are forced to slow down, to celebrate at home with those most important to us, to remember what it is to love, to live, to be humble in these trying times. To not take for granted those who are dear to us whether in the room with us, present by our ever evolving technology. Life is precious. Life is still good. There are overwhelming opportunities to practice kindness, to show love, to offer forgiveness, and to accept forgiveness in our lives. Isn’t this truly what Christmas is about, and has been from that very first day when a tiny infant lay in a bed of straw in a stable, adored by Kings, loved by a young mother, protected by a Father, warmed by the breath of animals, celebrated by shepherds, and marked by the rising of a Christmas star?
Wishing everyone a happy and holy Christmas with love.
Covid Chronicles Summer Edition
Alrighty, welcome to my pre-work quarantine self isolation thing. Fourteen days of doing....nothing much in a two bedroom 24th floor condo with a microchip balcony. Oh these lazy hazy days of summer.
Day 1. It is mid afternoon as I write this, and like many days even when not locked in, I am still in the night gown. But I was productive yesterday. I managed a freezer inventory which saw me toss a couple of unidentifiable substances that were once food, and move some older more recognizable stuff to the front of the freezer, or into the fridge for a slow thaw. Today I tried the thawed Lilydale sliced turkey breast at lunch. An unappealing shade of beige-off white that I wouldn’t even find suitable for the walls. And the flavour was just as appealing as the description. Checked the package...expired sometime in 2019. Bye bye, birdie!
A freezer dump dinner had been languishing as well, waiting to be slow cooked into oblivion. So into the pot that went....and bye, bye, birdie, the second act. Smells awful, looks like something your cat would barf up, but I did taste it. I may need some wine or beer or something to kill the after taste. I knew better...but I wanted to say I had tried. Thirteen more days to go. Plus the rest of today. Woo hoo.
Oh and three new cook books ordered from Amazon. I read them like novels.....expensive novels...
To the shower...
Day 2. Dweebs live. It isn’t like I don’t have limitless time right now, for small things. Say that second cup of coffee in the morning. Never wanting to wait for anything, while needing to heed nature’s call, I put that second cup o joe in the Keurig to brew during my time out. And forgot to put the cup under the spout....of course I have all the time in the world to clean up...
Day 3. Nursey Judy pickled a bunch of hot hot peppers, but how many pickled peppers can Nursey Judy eat? If Nursey Judy ate all those jars of pickled peppers, well you can bet yer arse she would using up all the toilet paper Costco can offer, that’s what.
Day 4. Another Netflix binge completed. Another wasted day. Maybe I will shave my legs, or something. Or try to identify all the fish on the Roku aquarium screen saver. Drink wine on the balcony. Now there is something worthwhile.
Day 5. Noticing that my housecoat and assorted night shirts are sporting enough food to feed a small village on a daily basis. It may be time to get dressed early in the day, and actually eat at the table. Think of the money I will save on laundry. Maybe tomorrow.
Thought maybe I would go on a nature walk, be all outdoorsy and such. Apparently so did the rest of Ontario. I checked the local conservation areas, you need to preregister. All the daytime was taken. Not feeling like a dusky hike, I went to the local lake front promenade. Spent an hour of teeth gnashing and suppressed swear words (it was Sunday, after all) trying to get out of the parking lot. Without getting out of my car. Because people In their vehicles were stacked like dogs in a show ring, waiting for that one family with a half dozen kids in car seats, and all the regalia they need including portable gazebos full sized refrigerators, and strollers so big they looked like motorcycles, to pack up the car and leave. Only to be given a wave. They were not leaving. All I wanted to do was leave. No walk. At least I killed a couple of hours with the drive, and because it was still Sunday, didn’t kill any people.
Day 6. Found a wee oasis in the middle of an industrial zone close to home. A storm water catchment pond, with a park like setting built around, and a 1 km marked paved trail around. In spite of the sound of trucks, jack hammers, and regular traffic, this place sported Canada geese taking off and landing, gold finches feasting on thistle seeds, assorted ducks and a couple of unidentifiable wading birds. If this pandemic shows us nothing else, it is that we need more green space built into our urban settings. It makes no sense to drive somewhere, fight for parking, and battle with myriads of people on a trail on a regular basis. Said as I watch a hawk soaring effortlessly by my window....
Day 7. Millions of onions, onions for me. Bought a ten pound bag for little old me, really for the purposes of cooking for the north. Two bags of soup bases sautéed and bagged in the freezer. Only 8 pounds to go...
Day 8. Met a dude through the exit to the underground, wielding a shopping cart full, and I mean FULL, of CDs/DVDs. He is somewhere in his sixties. Very jovial, had a very short, socially distanced conversation while I held the door for him. New to the building, he was moving in, and was in a hurry, his wife was coming in an hour. He needed to get all those DVDs up and hidden before she arrived, and please, don’t say anything to her if I meet her. Been awhile since I laughed so hard. Mothers and wives are still able to strike fear in mere mortal men.
Day 9. My cup runneth over. Thanks to Wacoal and a rather, um, ample, bosom, I can fit a wallet, a Oneplus 6T McLaren, and my key fob in me bra. And my sunglasses and/or readers right down the middle by an arm. Saved myself several hundred dollars on an Italian leather purse.
Day 10. Many times while driving, I will pray a rosary instead of listening to the some times drivel that passes for talk radio. I have a feeling neither God nor Mother Mary appreciated the f-sharp when I missed my exit which caused me to go way out of my way, on the toll highway, no less. When I found myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary came to me, and spoke these words of wisdom “WASH YOUR MOUTH OUT WITH SOAP!!!!!“ And God saw that it was good...
Day 10. When I was a kid taking the bus to high school, I had a driver who would wait for me as I did the mad dash across the street to catch it, always a few minutes late. If he had not waited I certainly would have been late for school. This cultivated a fine respect for our public transit drivers, so long before we were required to do so, I would pause and let them in from the bus stop when I was driving my car, or my Dad’s car, as folks in their own cars were generally much too concerned about themselves to let someone ahead even in those days. This would almost always garner a wave, or a blink of lights or something from the bus driver. I realized that every time I let a bus in nowadays, no one ever gives you a wave or even a finger. Nada.These are behemoth articulated monsters. I don’t expect a wave from everybody, of course now we are required to yield as much as possible, but the odd thanks in a sometimes graceless society would be nice.
Day 11. Home made food isn’t considered gourmet unless a knife injury is involved.
Day 12. I had bought an outdoor hibiscus plant earlier in the season, and enjoyed it for exactly two weeks as the dinner plate sized crimson blossoms brightened my days. Lovingly watered. And then I went to to visit Eunice at the cottage fro a few days. I thought I timed it carefully, we had lots of rain, and it was rainy the day I left, was to drizzle the day after, and I was going to be home two days after that. I came home to a mostly dead plant. Blossoms fried, leaves fried, but stalks/stems still green. Tried to resurrect it. I could be arrested for attempted herbicide.
Day 13. So memorable I couldn’t write about it. And then forgot.
Day 14. I have had two weeks to clean up and get my place ship shape before I leave tomorrow.And I procrastinate until 6 PM the night before I leave and grumble and grinch the whole time. Nothing like bed time to realize that your wet blanket is sitting in the washer waiting it’s turn in the dryer. Only to realize you didn’t turn on the dryer for the nursing uniforms occupying it now (because you never run those appliances when you go to the store for those last minute fresh items you desperately need for your travels that you could have purchased the day before, or the day before that). Where is that last glass of wine anyways...?
Day 15. Not a quarantine day technically, but realized that my limo was not coming because I forgot to press send last night. Called the company, they could still accommodate me. You know, service is sadly not the best at times. We were to gather as nurses at a hotel for bussing to a charter terminal for our flight. I was driven to the main entrance, but I asked the driver to please wait before taking my luggage and cooler out as I wasn’t sure if this was the right area to be dropped off at. It wasn’t, there was the entrance to the convention rooms around the. Back. And I found all my stuff out on the sidewalk. Fortunately he had not left yet. He told me I could walk. There was a hill to go back down and a bit of a walk with all of my stuff. Two trips for sure if I walked and lugged. I asked him him nicely to please take me, that I wasn’t quite at my final destination. Grudgingly he he replaced my stuff, and took me to where I needed to go. I was so very tempted to not tip. I always know that Karma gets me if I am not nice in any way. So he still received my usual tip. In covid times with so little travel he was so very apologetic and extremely grateful. It pays to be nice even when you don’t want to be. The rewards are more immense than the satisfaction of revenge. Sometimes, at least.
My friends, mask up, wash up, distance yourselves and be safe.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Only In The North
Imagine my absolute joy in finding the flip of the flop languishing in the hidden recesses of a closet in a unit I don’t stay in very often. My feet were happy once again. And then it happened, 24 hours later. That piece that fits between the toes broke on one while I was walking in it. I almost flipped over that flop. Not even twenty four hours after finding it. And my feet are very sad indeed.
2. I Fell Into a Burning Ring: Who knew that knocking a little old light source off a counter in the dark room would have resulted in bright flashing lights, sparks, flames, exposed films, a sore leg and an f-sharp heard to Winnipeg and back?
3. Are you Jeff Goldblum?: Nothing like trying to smack a dim witted fly in a dimly lit room that has brown floors and a brown quilt on the bed. Except the dim wit trying to smack it.
4. Northern One Liners (who knew doctors could be so funny): a) “The Shoppers Drug Mart there should be open...” b) “Hook him up to a blood warmer!” Okay, maybe you have to be here to get these, but trust me, they are worth the giggles.
5. On Top of Spaghetti: A plate fit for a queen. Lovingly simply seared scallops atop a bed of al dente buttered pasta. I grabbed the plate of pasta with the right hand and turned toward the stove on the left, swinging my right arm over. Forked a scallop to ease on the ...wait...what? Not a single pasta strand remained on the plate but instead was adorning the counter, and the floor (freshly washed too), aided by the silken slipperiness of the butter. I am sure the nurse next door will request that I don’t inhabit the unit beside her anymore, the next time I am here. There has been so much weeping and gnashing of teeth lately.
6. The Return of the Fly: At 2 AM. Another f-sharp and arse hauled out of bed. Turned the lights out in the bedroom, turned the hall lights on, and sat up for a bit. Went back to bed and prayed. Today is Sunday, and he is going to meet his Maker if it kills me.
Friday, May 11, 2018
Really...News From The North!
My flight to Winterpeg was delayed by an hour, so I was told. No matter, I would still have three hours to get from the puddle jumper hangar to the main Peg airport. That requires an unfriendly taxi ride of under ten minutes. I was stoked. And all of a sudden, my flight was back on time because they could not stop at their first destination due to weather. What a big smile I had on my face as I danced up the stairs into the plane. I would be home during daylight hours. Like a vampire, I had forgotten what that was like.
As we were climbing to cruising altitude almost an hour later due to ?, the pilot came on, and informed us that we would indeed be stopping at the airport they missed on the way in, as the weather had improved. Oh, said he, this will be a short stop, only about 20 minutes. No matter, thought I, there would still be plenty of time for me to toddle over to the main airport, and perhaps hit the lounge for some liquid Ativan. I was glowing at the thought. And then we landed... 20 minutes for some reason took over an hour. I was now a squidge over two hours late. A bead of sweat formed on my brow.
No worries...I would go to the cargo hold outside of the airplane once we landed and pick up my luggage from there. I had been allowed to do that on numerous other non timely flights in order to catch my flight home on time. Still, one bead of sweat had turned into two. We landed in the Peg at 1445...my next flight was in an hour and a half. Another wee drop o' sweat.....
I told the ground crew what I was looking for, and then the pilot joined me by the cargo hold. They said they could not get my luggage until they removed the body from the plane. At this point I was thinking there may be more bodies and a cool cell for me to stay in.... "It will only take 20 minutes.... please wait inside." Forty five minutes later, I finally had my luggage but no ride to the airport, because the poor folks from the reserves were all queued up for taxis, awaiting transport to the boarding homes for the night before their medical appointments.
By now Niagara Falls was apparent on my brow. A helpful buddy suggested I ask the person at the front of the line if I could jump ahead. In normal circumstances, I would never do this, but I had not anticipated the intensity of the desire to get home at a decent time. I screwed up my courage and asked. And was denied..."I am in a hurry too...." To downtown Winnipeg...? No one is ever in a hurry to go there.
In the mean time, I called the taxi company and asked if a separate booked taxi could be sent for me. He said it would take at least 20 minutes. I said I did not have that kind of time, nicely. He said, not so nicely, "Then I guess you had better call someone else"... and promptly hung up on me before I could take a breath or shed a tear.
Back to the front of the line I went, almost ready to grovel, when the gentleman's wife cuffed him across the shoulder, he motioned to me with a sharp head shake, and I finally got my taxi to the main airport, hit the bag drop, walked through security aided by my trusty NEXUS, and sashayed straight on to the plane......and a lovely glass of red wine.
And how was your day?
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Getting Lucky in Mexico
|What the flock?|
Due to circumstances beyond my control, and a challenge to the flexibility of the mission director's life, I felt compelled to rent a car while out last fall, while based in Cancun, but travelling to a different village everyday outside of the big city, which took forever and many topés to get out of. Driving in Cancún is a tangle of one way streets that never seem to make sense, except that you arrive at your destination, but you don't know how. I was born with a decent sense of direction, which earned me the moniker "The Navigator" during my life. I instinctively knew which way to turn, without the guidance of a map.
Cancún has changed that. After renting a nifty Volkswagon Jetta, I managed to get back to our Cancún base safely with the guidance of one of my Mexican doctors, and it made sense. Following our Drag-a-pharmacy out to the main highway to go to a distant mission site, however, was a series of twists and turns that was lost in the spider web of my mind. Using the GPS on the way back in took me on a different more confusing route. To this day, I cannot reconcile that route in my mind as being fast or logical. Eventually I found my own way out, and my own way in, using a minimal number of turns and roads that made sense. To me. And God saw thankfully that it was good.
|Don't try this at home....|
One fine morning as I was following traffic, truly not going any faster than anyone else, I was pulled over by the long arm of the law. Apparently doing 86 in a 60km zone. And to my great advantage, I had in my back seat the best possible weapon: my lovely Dra. Iskia, who sweet talked and charmed my way out of a ticket. All I had to do was wait until another stopped car had gone on, so they wouldn't realize I had gotten off. With a smile and a "Slow down!" we were on our way.
Imagine my surprise at the law flexing its other arm another day, this time for doing 73 in the 60 zone. I won't lie to you and say I wasn't sh*tting bullets in my driver's seat. My car said rental, my face said tourist, enough to earn me a fine in spite of all the cars passing me by. And of course my driver's license was in the trunk. Dra.Iskia to the rescue once again. Pleaded our case of being missionaries helping the Mexican people, she got out of the car to retrieve my backpack and driver's license for me, and came back with another reprieve. Another smile and admonishment to slow down. And thankfully I did not have to show my license. Because it was back at the hotel.
People can be stink heads all over the world. Take the guy who parked next to me at the hotel with his lovely BMW, and scraped my driver's side quarter panel quite nicely when making an early morning getaway. there is no way he/she would have not noticed the scraping, such was the damage. And yet off they went. The hotel has security cameras, for a fee they could retrieve the videos, but when they looked at them, and would not let me look at them, they said they did not show anything. the owner's daughter, bless her heart, came by with an amigo, who managed to buff and polish most of the scrapes into oblivion. I had insurance on the car, but likely would just pay a deductible and not much more for the remaining damage. I hoped.
|I think I like you better than a roach...I think.|
The night I returned my vehicle, my Mexican amigos had forgotten all about it and had returned to Playa del Carmen while we were in Cancún. While I have a bit of Spanish, and the car rental guys speak perfect English, I had wanted someone who could converse with them in Spanish regarding the ding. When I had picked up the car, we had driven during the day, but returning the vehicle it was night time, so I conscripted a German volunteer who spoke fluent Spanish to help me out. All I needed was to get to the hotel zone. He led me there in our mission pick up truck, and I took over once I recognized the now dark surroundings.
It is amazing how much the night time changes your perception of distance. After what I thought was a forever drive, I pulled to the side of the dimly lit road to confer with my buddy who was now following me. And what do you know, the long arm of the law stopped again. With my heart in my boots, I thought "What now...?" maybe they thought one of us was broken down. Apparently on the hotel zone road it is illegal to stop. We were chided to get moving, and denied a ticket yet again. I asked the one chap on the motorcycle where the particular car rental agency was that I wanted. He looked at me like I had six heads. But it was "just over there." And off they and we went.
|Always welcome in my clinic.|
I nervously pulled into the parking lot of the agency, while my German buddy had to find a spot in the crowded lot. The same gentleman I had rented the car from happened to be on. I held my breath as he went out to perform his inspection walk about. I might have even turned blue. I just about fainted when he said all was well, and in fact, he was going to give me a discount from the original price we had negotiated earlier in the week, but to por favor not forget him at tipping time. I gave him what I had in pesos. Which coupled with the new discounted price was still less than the original price of the vehicle. My buddy had not needed to speak for me. And me arse was saved yet again.
|You had my shoe where? You can keep it now, I have 3 more...|