Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Best Apology Ever

I don't need to name names, or really state the offence, but it rocked my world and made me laugh out loud when I saw the very public posts:
"I'm an idiot!"
"Off to hang myself with a shoelace on a 50 foot tree!"
"Looked  up DUMBASS, guess what, I found my picture."
"Plz feel free to drop off any sharp objects so I may fall on them, over and over again."
How can you not forgive a dumbass idiot hanging from a tree by a shoelace above a bed of 9 inch nails while admitting all on a public forum?

Monday, December 10, 2012


Why did the nurse cross the frozen lake in the bitter cold?
Today's post begins with an airplane story. Much like my other ones do. This one courtesy of Perimeter, the Flying Tubes of Death, as one of my nursing buddies has dubbed it.
All went well as we boarded our twin engine on time. Spied some curious motions outside my window, and there I saw it. A poor slug de-icing the propellers with nothing other than one of those small hand held ice scrapers, a bucket of de-icing fluid, and a towel. Watched as he meticulously soaked, scraped and scrubbed those blades until perfect. At minus 28 C. While we were sitting on the plane. With no heat for us either, for 45 minutes. And then, he had to do the other side, you know twin engine planes fly better with both propellers engaged. Soon we were ready, and then were told that one of the engines couldn't start. Like your car engine on a frosty morn. So, again with no heat while strapped in the tube, we waited  for another 15 minutes while a heater blew on the offending engine. Eventually it started. Now knowing these flight schedules never change, or hardly ever, why wasn't the prep done before our flight time? This was Winnipeg, land of ice and snow, each and every year, generally around the same time. Because winter is kind of regular like that, don't you know. We were like icecubes in an icecube tray in that thing, do you think they could have left us in the terminal (and I use that term loosely, but who can complain when they house a Chicken Delight that serves breakfast and coffee?) where our toes would have been kept warm? It's not like you are boarding over 200 folks on one of those Airbuses, with people not following their group boarding assignments and hogging aisle space trying to stuff oversized carry on into the overhead bins? We in the north are more civilized. It's a free for all at boarding time, the bins can't handle more than a computer, so we just go in, find  a seat, and are done with it. Until they try to freeze us out. Then we grumble just a bit.
Conversation last night: "They're bringing the Chief in. Some sort of Emergency."
The Chief, wow. Wonder what's wrong." "Yeah. You know him, he's here all the time." "Really."
Guy comes in. Uh, it's Keith, not Chief. 
I see the new nursing residence is preparing for the aging population of nurses. Hence the fully equipped bathtubs full of grab bars. Not that I would admit to using them or anything. But if I had to, you know....
I remember telling someone about the drinking water up north. Most places I have been to have a purification plant or system in place, and if I am told the tap water is safe for foreigners, then I drink it. In any country. Or province. But slightly yellow tap water is just plain icky. I know, it's just the minerals up here. But there's something profoundly disturbing about soaking your black beans for soup and the soaking water, instead of turning a dull murky grey-brown, comes out limey green. 
Island in the lake. Minus 31 C that day.
I don't take chest xrays very well, I'm good with the other body bits we are allowed to radiate. So imagine my delight when I was able to trade a bag of oranges for the fund raising bingo game for food for one of the non-medical staff members who used to do them for me 2 years ago here to do one for me. Apparently they are not supposed to do them anymore. Bartering. an old fashioned system who's time has come again. Just don't tell my nurse in charge.
Right now, back home in Mississauga, I think it is grey and rainy, so sayeth that purveyor of all truths weatherwise, the Weather Channel. I think I come up here to remember what winter was like. We used to get snowed in, once upon a time, back in Etobicoke, where it would drift up so high you couldn't get out the front screen door. We backed onto a park, and tobogganing was a nightly ritual with Stephen Sloan, my brother and I. We used to feel a little guilty because the really great hill  started at the end of someone's back yard. We had to hang on to the wooden fence, inch our way down a bit to the end of the fence, then turn around it to climb to the highest part, which would be just over the border in that unfenced back yard. We tried to be a little quiet, but we were kids. Still, no one told us to get out. The hill was steep and icy, and on a good run, we would go right through the small creek at the end, hoping it was frozen over so we didn't get wet. Even if we did, we had the dreaded snow pants on. And really, we never cared if we froze our collective butts off. We were young and having fun.
Wonder if they thought before abbreviating the name?
Here the snow is pristine, unsullied by salt and sand and the black exhaust from buses. The blanket is thick and sparking in the sun, when the sun comes out. Everyone has a truck and/or snow machine. We used to call them snow mobiles. Times change. Pretty soon the ice roads will be open, and for a few short weeks there will be road access to all the other communities. I have walked across the lake to the store, but I am a little nervous. I just don't trust the ice, from the time when I was at my friend's cottage during the winter, going on the river for water. Saw moose tracks by an open area, thought if it could hold a moose, it could hold me. And I was so very wrong.
And that is my world today.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

Big Brother by Ian Service

The Kumquat has arrived, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful little girl, Aphra Judith, at 9 pounds 2 ounces. She is no slouch.
Grandma here was asked to pick up some newborn diapers on the way to babysit the Humvee and the dog. It has been a while. When the Bean was a baby, I had a choice of, well, not much, in big, bulky packages that didn't hold much. Off to Walmart I went, and was met by a staggering array of sizes, absorbencies and Sesame Street pictures et al on the diapers. Shelves of the things, boxed, or wrapped in plastic. Pampers or Huggies. I had a headache after awhile, but settled on a pack of newborns, good for up to 10 pounds, and the next size up, good from 8 to 12 pounds. Figured I'd cover my bases. And the baby's butt.
Then I arrived at the house. My intention was to take the dog for a walk, as I thought she might not get a really decent one for a few days. Naturally, it was drizzling when I got there. And my key wouldn't work. I wiggled and jiggled (the key, not me), but the dang lock wouldn't turn. I could see poor Cricket eyeing me from the top of the stairs inside the house. No barking, just wagging her tail like crazy. Made me feel guilty as if I was teasing her trying to get in.
Plan B, I texted my daughter at the hospital. No problem, the neighbours have a key. I had already knocked on their door, as their car was home. But they weren't. Their dog was, though, another non barker, who just cocked his head, wagged his tail, and patiently waited for someone, me, to come in and play with him. My daughter gave me the entry combination to the front door, and I was greeted by this lovely German Shepherd with a toy, so we had a love in first. Which key? The square one, of course, so that left me with only ten keys. I grabbed them all, and left the dog, and tried every one of them in the Bean's door. Their Golden Retriever was again at the top of the stairs wagging her tail madly, waiting for Grandma to come in and play. Which Grandma couldn't do because not a single key worked.  So off for a second love in with the shepherd, and a few texts and phone calls later, it was decided I would pick up the car seat at the hospital, then pick up my Grandson from daycare, see the newest addition with him, then return home when the neighbours would be around to let us in. The neighbours must wonder about me. Having twice locked myself out of the same house, I have had to call upon them, to have long, tall Sean crawl through the kitchen window to let me in. Another time, well it's documented in "Adventures With Grandma", in case you need more bedtime stories.
So the visit with the baby and family went well, and the Humvee and I returned to their house, we knocked on Sean's door, who promptly picked up one of the keys I swear I had tried in the door at least three times, and with a minimal wiggling and jiggling of the key, let us in. My own key? Was a key from "a long time ago", according to my son in law.
I love my Humvee. That kid is a walking one man band. I wondered what to do with him well before the time came. I need  not have worried. He's happy with his toys, he's happy with the dog, he's happy running up and down the hallway, or jumping up on down on the spot , "I'm dancing!" "I'm running!" "Hi Grandma!" He provided me with entertainment, happily singing "S***! S***! S***!" to himself until I questioned him, then he squealed "Shirt! Grandma, I said shirt!"  I provided him with running commentary. And the occasional beating of drums and shaking of maracas. His poor Dad. By the time he came home to do a few things after the baby's birth, we had moved on to the cow bell. I swear I saw Heidi in the back yard. And dreamed of Quasimodo in my sleep.
The following morning I was doing dishes while drinking tea, and Dash taught me Anatomy 101. "Hi Grandma. Dash has a penis." By which point, my tea snorted through my nose.
We went to the park the day his parents were coming home with the Kumquat. We took the dog with us, due to her achingly melting, guilt inducing, big brown eyes The Humvee wanted to walk her. So he held the end, I held the leash somewhere in the middle, and my poor Goldie went on the slowest, most short leashed walk. Everyone was happy.
I love these ergonomically placed swings. No stooping to break your back while pushing, these swings were at the height of my waist. While exercising my biceps and triceps with the pushing, Mom and Dad and the Kumquat drove past on the road by the park, giving a honk. My little Dash was oblivious. So I told him Mom and Dad were home. "Don't want to see Mom. Don't want to see Dad. Don't want to see Aphra." I bargained with him for some extra pushes, but when a kid can only count to five, it means nothing. So eventually I had to extricate this child from a push friendly but removal hostile swing. Legs straight, body stiff, me thinking "Shirt!" in my mind. The swing came up with the kid. I had him and the swing slung over my shoulder. The more I wiggled and jiggled the swing and his legs, the more his tears turn into laughter. Eventually, I didn't fall on me arse, and I didn't drop him on his head. He didn't want to walk the dog, but then again, he didn't want to walk himself either. Still didn't want to see Mom, Dad, or Aphra. It was a long, slow walk up the pathway. We got to the road, his home is maybe ten houses away. I said, "Look, there's Daddy and Mommy's car in the driveway!" and before I could say jack rabbit, he was gone, running. And that's when poor Cricket decided she needed to poop. I will not win any Grandma of the year awards,  I am sure. I was yelling after this bumblebee buzzing up the road, but committed to the environment of someone else's front yard,  picking up Cricket's processings.  I huffed and puffed after the Humvee, who was trying to open the door. And a family was happily reunited, with the addition of the Kumquat. Grandma promises to take good care of her too.Time to go home! by Ian Service
If Mom will let her. Salud!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Daniel Vales Diaz

My heart is saddened today by the news that one of my beloved Mexican medical students whom I have been privileged to work with has died. At this moment, I don't know the cause. One can only imagine what his parents must be going through. If I could speak to to them, wrap my arms around them, give them what little consolation I could, this is what I would say:
None of us can come remotely close to feeling the cataclysmic loss that must be tearing your hearts at this moment. Not even those who have lost children before you, because they have not lost your Daniel. None of us can grieve to the extent that you will. He is your child, your son. Though the world has stood still, and is a little darker for this moment, and a very long moment it may well be, I can only tell you that our lives have been made brighter by the presence of your son in our world. That brings joy through my sorrow, through our sorrow, as we begin to grasp his loss, and try to sense the enormity of the pain you must be feeling.
Lt- Rt: Me, Daniel, Rene, Pato, Jorge, Arturo. My Boys.
We all enter this world, trying to leave our mark. Each and every one of us has felt that. To find purpose, to know that our days meant something, to someone. He was your world, but know too, that he left his mark on ours, that his short life was never in vain, that he was, and is, through memories that cannot, will not, be erased, a very happy part of our lives. We are privileged to have known him, and we will remain grateful to you that you shared this extraordinary young gentleman with us. May God bless you in all of your sorrow, and may He grant you joy through your tears, with the glorious memories, and the eternal love that you will bear, and that we, in some small way, will bear with you.
Love always.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

News From the South: Mission Impossible

It was pleasant to wake up to this each AM. Bocas Marina.
In my altruistic little world, I finally came upon a mission that truly made me wonder "What the hell am I doing?" Everything on the website of the organization seemed well suited to me, and I was told by the same organization how well suited I seemed for them. Neither of us could have been more wrong. And oh, I hate to be wrong about things that pertain to me.
Where shall I start? Well, I think I kept in pretty good contact with all involved, except I now know that the correspondence was sort of divied up. However, my dates and flight plans were all sent along, so someone would meet me at the Bocas airport.
Of course, leaving Panama City was an experience, as the plane was late by an hour and a half. Once I was staying in Bocas, I observed that the plane was always an hour and a half late. I could watch the planes coming in from my perch in the marina, cerveza firmly in hand. Everything in Bocas time, I guess. At any rate, I arrived in Bocas in the dark, in the pouring rain. And no one at the airport to meet me.

Poor embarrassed doggie!
I waited until the last passenger had been taxied away, then there was Antonio, an airport worker, and me, and still the dark, pouring rain. "No worries, Senora, I take care of you." I had to trust someone. In a brief moment of pre-mission sanity, I had printed off the mission package, which had the directions to the marina where the mission boat was parked. Okay. Moored. Docked. Whatever. Antonio grabbed me a cab, hoisted me and my belongings into it, and accompanied me to the water taxi dock. It was a long, dark alley, the kind you are told never to go down, even in your own home town. I nervously followed Antonio, and we came to the water taxi dock, where I and my bags were assisted into the covered taxi. Only when you are tooling through the water, the cover means diddly squat during a Caribbean rainstorm. For $2 USD, I was ferried to the Bocas marina, after a pit stop across the way to drop off another passenger. The driver put me out at the dinghy part of the dock, so we heaved my stuff out, I was wet, I was hungry, and a little cheesed off that I hadn't been met. But, thought I, the flight was delayed, maybe that's why no one was there. You see, I have this apprehension about arriving in places I don't know at night, maybe irrational. And as the water taxi took off, I realized that in my little huff of being scared and wet and hungry, that I had yet again, forgotten my backpack. Driver couldn't hear me for the buzz of the motor as he chugged into the middle of the rainy night. Have I mentioned that it was raining??? Made my way to the mission boat. Tossed my remaining bags and me on board. Dead silence. No one up top. I yelled down the stairs. Still nothing. Stomped around, yelled some more. Nothing. Left the boat, went to the marina cantina, still in the rain, where, thank the Lord, one lonely expat was sitting, trying to watch Sunday Night Football. Instead he was treated to Sunday Night Whine. Until his Missus came, with her computer and phone, and knew, thank goodness who to contact. Graciously, she sent the Mister to score me three cervezas, which I was ever so grateful for. You see, the cantina was closed, so barley sandwiches would be all my dinner consisted of that night. Missus, after a series of phonecalls, reached the Medical Director, who managed to reach someone on the boat. The Boat People had all been down in their rooms, either asleep or plugged into their electronic worlds. And I found out later, no one had been expecting a volunteer arrival for another couple of weeks, and certainly not me.

Stats entry office. Not too shabby!
I did not meet the Medical Director for a couple of days. First time was a handshake when I returned on my own after a clinic. The next time was at a clinic. All the days in between, while I was ready to give my heart and soul and work for the people of the area, all I can say is I felt useless. The clinics were being organized and run by non medical volunteers who had been there longer than I had, and were much younger than me.What they were missing, and what I was missing, was Fearless Leader, in the form of the Medical Director, who would be apparent for clinics, but otherwise was off doing other things for the organization, everything but directing. A huge insult to me was the use of the word "hand holding'' as in "He wants the volunteers to know that there is no hand holding." I am sure if you had looked out your windows at that moment, dear readers, that you could have seen what looked like a volcanic eruption from that area in the world, anywhere in the world you are living. No one holds these hands. No one. Maybe someone should someday, but that is another story, another context. Of course I kept my cool. I was told to the tell the Medical Director my concerns. Gladly. If I could find him.
And so it went for my 12 days. I saw the Medical Director a couple of times, had a private meeting scheduled after a general meeting, which, if I hadn't reminded him (the private meeting), might never have happened. I saw maybe 20 patients during my 12 days, and then I did something that was at first devastating to me, yet the best decision possible for me. I questioned myself, the validity of what I was doing, what I was expecting, and what was expected of me, and then, I bailed.
Beauty is skin deep, but ugly is that turkey (chick).
We were supposed to go into the Panamanian interior, and we water taxied to the mainland, a bus ride and a 3-5 hour hike into the hills would have had us to our destination. However, Panamanian politics being what it is, there was a road blockade enroute, so the multi day clinic was deferred until the following day. By this point, I had already changed my flight out of Bocas to Costa Rica to leave the weekend right after the clinic as I didn't want to spend another free weekend in Bocas. Now they were going to stay in the interior until Saturday, they would have to hire a guide to take me back down to the road, put me on the bus to Almirante, and then I would catch the water taxi back to Bocas Town. Along the way, the impromptu/recurring road blockades threatened to interrupt my journey back. Although the blockades were not the fault of the mission group, the writing was loud and clear on the Timeline of my life. The following day, the group left again. I, however, left the mission boat, and stayed in a hotel in Bocas Town, so I would not miss my changed again flight to San Jose the following day, and yes, I do know the way to San Jose, the San Jose I like, anyway. The flight was late, it was pouring rain, but never was I so glad to see a sign with my name on it. Andre, a driver I had during my previous visit to Costa Rica, was there with a smile.
Stairs to exam room. I did not fall off.
Of course, not all was bad. I still met an amazing group of people who had as little direction as I did. They just didn't have as loud a mouth as I did. In their own way, they are doing the best they can. In particular, my one translator for the clinic in Valle Escondido, a little town of stilted wooden homes with palapa rooftops, was an absolute joy to work with, he brought so much sunshine to that day, having to translate the art of self breast exams to one of my patients. He enjoyed challenging his Spanish, and it was one of the few days I felt that I had accomplished anything.
And then, there was the resident volunteer, a diamond in the rough, who got my backpack for me, intact, the morning after I had lost it. The computer had been sitting outside the pack itself, between the mesh that separates the backpack from my back in order to cool things off, so important for an impending Grandma. It came back as well.
So this is not my usual funny stuff, and I apolgize. I had to think, maybe I was not worthy of this mission. Or maybe the mission might not have been worthy of me. In the end, I cannot help everyone, poor or otherwise. Lip service is superficial. Actions speak. And while bailing was an action I am not particularly proud of, it spoke my mind more than any of my words had so far, although I fear that those silent words spoken by that action were not heard, again. And now, I will continue to help others, with a light and happy heart.
Why I keep doing what I do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Every Cloud...

Every less than stellar experience always has a silver lining. Because of this journey, I:
1. Strengthened my quads and my biceps. Getting on and off a big sailboat is no easy feat for this Grandma. Depending on the tide, the boat would be much higher than the steps on the dock beside it. This would necessitate heaving the backpack and other assorted odds and ends onto the deck, then the usual wonderment of how the hell I was going to get on, usually followed by an amazed I never knew my knee could touch my chin. Followed by a plea for help, as in,  how do I get out of this position? Since I was usually the first one back to the boat, there were usually enough f-sharps and grunts and groans that would put the stockyards to shame. But I never fell in the water. Some days the boat would adjust itself away from the dock, making getting on or off impossible. Generally, there would be a nimble tall young skinny volunteer just waiting to help me. In that case, they would get off the boat in mountain goat-like like fashion by jumping onto the dock, or sometimes in their best Flying Wallenda fashion, by walking the rope that secured the boat to the dock at the back. Yeah, I could just see myself doing that. Not. then they would haul on the rope and move that sucker ever so slowly closer to the dock, so that Grandma here could make a bathroom run. Even in the pouring rain. While the mission might have been a bust for me, I must say that the young volunteers looked after me well. But so it came to pass that I had to get off the boat in the middle of the night, and also had to get on by myself because there was no one to whine at. And so to get off, I crouched down on the crunchy knees and hauled on that rope to get her closer to the dock. However, I learned, I had to be absolutely ready to fly off, because if I wasn't, the boat would float back out of reach for these legs in a few seconds. So pull and jump. It took me a few tries. Getting back on was easier, unless I had to fold me knee to my chin. But hey, I did it.
My bed, and my foot, for perspective. I had to climb here too.
Then of course, there was going up and down to the bedrooms, which were kind of like miniature coffins. The stairs are made for graceful gazelles, complete with the lovely long legs and spring in their steps. Not for lumbering hippos who just seem to crash through everything. Each step was about 2 feet tall, okay, so I am exaggerating, but they were steep. As the boat was in the state of (constant) refurbishment, there were no rails or grips, so I would just pop out on deck like a jack in the box, using my arms to support the rest of me on the deck floor to haul me arse up the stairs. And yes it did get easier with time.
2. Learned to play Mexican Train Dominoes. While sitting in my usual spot at the marina, cerveza in hand, one of the local boat women asked me to join them in the usual Sunday round of Mexican Train Dominoes. I politely declined, having learned to play whatever style of dominoes I knew at the hands of some Brazilians and Panamanians. With them, you are the hero if you make the right move, but woe to you if you make the wrong move. Brought out the fiery temper in my various playing partners. I was then told I was going to play. I said maybe I would watch. "No, you are playing." And so I did, and had a great time No slapping of tiles. No yelling in Spanish or Portuguese. And I am hooked.
3. Saw the kindness and honesty, however it was purloined, of strangers. See previous post where I got my backpack back.
Happy milker, happy goat.
4. Milked a goat. When I bailed, I headed to Costa Rica. I was flying home through there anyway, just rearranged the dates so I could spend a few nights. One of my impromptu excursions took me to the farm of the owner of the tour company whose driver I employed. He asked me if I wanted to milk a goat. Now there's a thing you do on vacation. Everyone wants to zip line in Costa Rica. but milking a goat, well that is an original, and certainly a first for me. And since I am afraid of heights, milking a goat just seemed to be the right thing to do. And I was highly amused, especially when the goat jumped off the milking ramp and weaved in and out of the barn and fences, dog in hot pursuit, owner in hot pursuit of the dog. The goat was corralled, the dog banished, and I went on to milk the goat without any complaint from the goat. I'm still smiling. I could swear the goat was smiling too.
5. Witnessed faith, yet again. People expressing their faith and hope in the Basilica in Cartago, walking down the main aisle on their knees. Scores. I look back at our secular world, the more we have, the more we curse God for what we don't have. And here was this beautiful, humble expression of faith, on a Sunday afternoon with no particular importance attached to it. And I was humbled again.
6. Learned I can now run. I had planned the flight home well, three hours in between flights at Miami, I could get my bags, throw them under the line, go through security, and have a nice leisurely dinner at a nice restaurant. Oh come on now, only in my dreams. My flight was 1 hour late leaving Costa Rica. Then the boarding gate malfunctioned in Miami, so we had to be reassigned, and then taxied to, a new gate. Bueno. That took almost another hour. While we were told we were waiting for the reassignment, the noise emanating from below the plane indicated that the removal of luggage was well under way. That was what we were waiting for. It was the gate that was the farthest away from Passport Control. Multiple signs pointing up into the clouds for the SkyTrain. I think I proved to myself that I am capable of running a 5K, because instead of the train, that is what I did, and beat them - the dumb train - to Passport Control. I entered on the American side of things just as the train began spitting out its contents at the visitors' side. I became an honorary American once again, to the amusement of the Immigration Guy. Passed down to get my luggage, which was already on the floor, threw it to some guy who high fived me at my show of heaving strength, sprinted over to security at Terminal E, where I was told the line up would be shorter, then flew through the terminals with a quick pit stop to pick up a sandwich and key lime pie for the plane. My flight was already boarding, early, I might add, when I arrived there a little breathless. And that is how it all went. Salud!
Head up, eyes in front. This is what was in front :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

News From The South

Only a select few were allowed this close on top of the hill.
It's been awhile. Too much to do between trips. So here I sit in lovely Panama. For those of you who don't know, my last visit here was a little over four years ago, along with the Ex Boy. It was here that I determined the Old Boy was going to be the Ex Boy. What did it? Not what I expected. I liken it to when I zip lined in Peru a few years ago. The guide encouraged me closer and closer to the edge, so that he literally just touched me on my back, and I was flying through air catching flies. Well, with the Ex Boy, I wasn't catching flies.
Haven't a clue what this is.
So this visit brings a bit of the bittersweet with it. Thanks to some wise advice from a guide, I know to always go face up, feet first, and hang on to my paddle. Oddly , I returned home with a little more self confidence, a lot more guts, and a certain joie de vivre that had been absent from my life for so many years. That hopefully will continue on forever.
No airline story to report from this venture, unlike the last three trips flying home in Canada with perfectly good weather. American Airlines, in receivership, delivered me and all of my bags on time. I was given the chance to upgrade on the 1st half of the flight for $125, which I did. They would give me three free bags. Now that is a lark. Okay, so I have at least an observation. American gives us plebes in economy 1 free bag, but they charge double the price for the second, conmpared to everyone else. Three bags in business class? Really? The only 3 bags you'll ever see are in economy, and they happen to be grannies or mother in laws. And in fact, there are plenty more of them back there. Business men may have a carry on and/or a garment bag, and a computer. What, do you think they are moving to Miami or Cleveland? Shake your head, American, allow them one non existent checked bag like everyone else, and give the rest of us bags a break on ours.
Today I climbed Cerro Ancon. Panamanian taxi drivers are adorable. Everyone honks and wants to  pick you up and take you to the top. MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!!! This is not "Fifty Shades of Panama". They all had fares. But I huffed and puffed my way to the top and was blessed with some gorgeous views of the city below, a city I love. Can't explain it, I am not a big city girl, but PTY rocks. Met one of the adorable cabbies at the top, he was waiting for his charges to complete their photo ops, so he took me to where I could take some good shots, chit chatted and smiled, and, adios.
I picked my way back down and met this guy. Look to the right somewhere. I didn't take a front shot, because I didn't want to be too obvious. Let's just say from the waist up, front on, well, I didn't know whether my shirt was wet from sweat or from drool. To state the obvious, in my opinion, though, no man should ever wear speedos or whatever the heck he is running in. He was going up a hill, no race. Need to get over oneself, hmm? Of course, I think it was his exceedingly fit girlfriend whom I passed just before. I guess he's keeping up with the Joan's ass. Oh please. It is hot, and I've not had enough rum.
I never mind being alone, but occasionally it does feel awkward. Tonight I went to a recommended resto, of course I arrived a little earlier than the the locals, and I was the only one there. No people watching, but waiters tripping over themselves to serve me. I had my pick of tables. I received a couple of looks like I had two heads. I guess these young ones don't understand why a fifty something year old somewhat menopausal and and literally hot mama customer would want to position herself underneath one of the two big honking air conditioners in the back. They also thought it was weird that I would send back a cerveza (Me! Send it back!) when it came out of the bottle full of ice crystals. Had a fun time explaining that I wanted it frio, pero sin hielo. I didn't bother trying to tell him what freezing does to the carbonation. Out of my Spanish realm.
Tomorrow I leave for Bocas del Toro, and have to somehow beg and plead with the regional carrier that they HAVE to take my 55 lbs worth of stuff, even though they only allow 35. The joys of traveling and mission work.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Animal House

I had room mates for a night. They are in charge of promoting self sufficiency in these parts by way of growing your own food. Some folks have to taken to raising chickens, and others to planting a garden. some of the chickens and vegetables are heritage types, more suited for thriving in these parts, with some TLC. The chickens go to school sometimes, and they are trying to convince some schools to incubate some eggs.  remember fondly when we had to imprint ducklings in high school for biology class. My poor parents. Because the following year, I brought home a gosling. I told my Mom that this was for a different class, liar that I was. I just wanted the gosling for that short period of time. I was president of the Biology Club, so I had access to all creatures great and small in our zoo room. I got home from school one day, only to find my mom dusting the floor with the dust mop, one little gosling nestled happily on top, enjoying the ride. It got me to thinking about the pets I've had over time.
1. Fish. The usual goldfish, I think these days they are termed "feeders'" but for my brother and me, they were our first pets. Which as usual, Mom had to take care of. Oscar and Charlie. I think my Mom named them. After two mice that used to watch her in the restaurant of her youth until the exterminator came for a visit.
There were a few Oscar and Charlies, naturally. None so eerie as the two that were found belly up one morning. Later that day, we received the news that my Grandma, my Mom's mom, had died. My Mom was full of little premonitions like that.
2. Turtles. Green Bay and Wally. Mine was Green Bay, after the Packers. Don't ask me why. I hated football, but I guess I may have been trying to impress my brother. Wally was named after Wally Gabler. maybe he played for the Packers. Or the Argos. These guys lasted about a year. Again, nothing known about aquariums or proper turtle nutrition. a steady diet of raw hamburger and ant eggs knocked them off. However, being the curious sort, after the first one died, I think it was Wally, I dug him up a week or two later, to see what he looked like. He still looked dead.
3. Cats. First was Gypsy. I had her for a week or two. Then I developed severe abdominal pain. My Mom read in the ancient medical dictionary that abdominal pain could be caused by allergies. so Gypsy went to the neighbour's daughter's farm lickety split. Turned out I had acute appendicitis, in the days when you spent a week in hospital. As it turned out, I found out that cats don't cause appendicitis, but I never got Gypsy back.
Next was I think Squeaky, a lovely black and white male. He grew up into a night prowler, and neither my folks nor I had figured out that you could neuter something and/or keep them in the house. So one night, Squeaky went out, and never came back. I spent hours on my bike looking for him, to no avail.
Then there was Smokey. she was still an outdoor cat, but I kept my eye on her, made sure she came in every afternoon. Caught her consorting with the boys, too, I was rather excited over the prospect of kittens. So obviously we hadn't learned our lesson about the neutering bit. And Smokey had one really bad habit. There was a shallow pot hole in front of our house, and she liked to flatten herself in the pot hole and chase cars. I think brains was another thing we forgot to ask for when we got her. One afternoon she limped up to the door with a broken leg. Off to the vet, and I never saw her again. My parents told me at the time that the break was too bad and that neither she nor the kittens could be saved. I only found out not too many years ago that my parents could not afford the surgery, so they had her put to sleep. I probably would not have understood anything like that at that age.
4. Quail. Okay, these never quite made it into the house. I was in grade seven or eight, and one of my Italian friends, it was either Joanne Franseschini, or Maria Caruso, had a father who bred these little things. He was willing to set me up in my basement. I am sure my Mom's jaw must have dropped to the floor. It was November. She finally said no, but my folks agreed that day at lunch time, that I could have another...
5. Cat. They both figured that in November there would be no kittens to be found, and that by spring I would have forgotten all about it. As if. I went back to school after lunch, and asked every single kid who crossed my path if they had any kittens to give away. When my folks returned home from grocery shopping, they were greeted by Taga, a black and white half Siamese. I seem to remember two dropped jaws and the deer in the head lights look from both my parents. But what could they say? Taga we did right by. she was tied up in the back yard so she wouldn't get hit by a car. She used to run to the patio and wait until you fastened her up. When her caterwauling and slinky butt at heat time became too much for us, she was spayed, and vaccinated. That cat was a tenant in the house for over 22 years. When she died peacefully of kidney failure, my Mom called, I was out of home already. I went down and picked her up, and a growl  came out of her throat, and there I was, shaking this cold, stiff as a board, dead cat, asking her if she was alive. Scared the bejeebers out of me.
6. Gerbils. Rusty and Misty. They stayed in my room at night for awhile, and then my brother would come in and get them and put them in the living room so he could watch them. When I think of it now, I was pretty selfish with my critters. These were a birthday gift from my best friends Patti and Louise for my birthday. We used to walk to school together, and for weeks before my birthday, they would make me walk ahead while they discussed their surprise for me. I was so upset, I was ready to disown them because I though they were keeping secrets behind my back, well, which they were. All was forgiven of course.
Taga thought they were something to play with. One day I returned home from high school to find Misty missing - they were in an aquarium with a lid, which had been knocked off. I found her in the basement in a heap. Front incisors knocked out, broken tail, blinded in one eye. Needless to say she was barely alive. I phoned the humane society who said I could try to syringe feed her, which I did. Applesauce, ground oatmeal flakes, ground gerbil food. She lived until she was almost three, the usual life span for the critters. They lived in a secure cage after that episode.
7. Nuts and Bolts. Being president of the Biology Club had its perks. Jocko the Squirrel monkey was one of them. he liked me, he used to sit on my lap during biology class, and then he would try to get it on with my ear. he was the first animal who taught me how to say no. Well, Jocko could not stay in the school over the weekend, there was one family who always took him home. One weekend they were unable to take Jocko home, so I eagerly volunteered. I must have asked my parents, because a monkey in a cage wouldn't have done public transit very well. I am sure in addition to the jaws dropping, the eyes must have rolled. But Jocko came home, under the "promise that he stayed in the cage. Well, didn't I feel sorry for him, he needed to get out and exercise. So out he came, and my parents didn't say much as he careened throughout the house, until he ended up on top of the hutch and was eyeing the Swarovski chandelier. My dad took matters in his owns hands by grabbing onto Jocko. Into the cage he went, biting my Dad. Still pushing the envelope, I would take the cage in the bathroom and close the door and let him loose in there for a bit. For Jocko loved mirrors and would spend hours staring and chattering to his reflection in the medicine cabinet mirror while suspended from the shower curtain rod. For some reason, I was never allowed to bring him home again.
The one they didn't know about was the mouse. Someone had fed this mouse to the boa constrictor, and I watched as the little guy tried and tried to escape his nosher by jumping up the sides of the aquarium, and after a half hour (the snake wasn't hungry) he made it to the top. I figured anything that tried that hard to get away deserved to live. So Mousy became a basement dweller, my brother my accomplice. Mousy was already old, so he died later on that summer while I was away. My brother buried him. My parents never knew. I think.
Then the teddy bear hamster came home for the summer, hidden in the basement again. This time near the furnace where a patch of sunlight would hit during the day. This happened to be under my parents' bedroom, My poor Dad, started having asthma attacks, and was hacking, spitting and sputtering. My Mom thought the house might be a little dry, so even though she NEVER checked the furnace at that time of the year, she did so, and found my hamster. Both the hamster and my Dad's asthma went away.
Dogs. I really all of my life wanted a dog, but my folks didn't. My Dad offered to get me a little one after Smokey died, but my Mom knew the time and the clean up commitment involved, and who would be involved in it, so I didn't spring my doggy surprise on them until I was 19, when my Dad was in the hospital with an unknown ailment. Mugsy belonged to the landlady of a college friend of mine, and was lonely and mistreated, so to speak. However, Mugsy was well fed and well groomed. Before I could convince them she was a stray, I had to make her look raggedy. I dragged her around outside in the February slush before taking her home. The curtains were opened, unusual for my home at that time of day. Mrs. Milligan, bless her heart, informed me that my Dad had gone into surgery late that afternoon. She took Mugsy for me while I joined my Mom and brother at the hospital. I'm sure her jaw was on the ground as Mugsy stepped into her house. My Dad died early the next morning, and Mugsy eventually went to her forever home with a family that treasured her and loved her to bits.
We won't mention Hobie the greyhound who excelled at stealing roasts off the counter, or making cow patties look like rabbit poop in comparison to his. Or the cat, the dog and the chinchilla that were planted on my Mom's doorstep along with myself and my child when I had to move home. I'm sure my Dad's jaw was dropping in Heaven. Hopefully they are both smiling over it all together now.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Last of the Arctic Summer

My time in the Arctic has finished. Just a few observations:
1. A fifteen year old girl and a 75 year old drunk can pack a mighty punch. Ask the Boys in Blue.
2. Our office manager said that because of the 24 hour daylight, our bodies automatically pack on the the weight in preparation for the winter, and that we HAVE NO CONTROL over it. Geez, I never realized I was preparing for hibernation. Time to stop blaming the cheese doodles.
3. A root canal does not qualify you for a 3 month sick note.
4. A baby's baby toe and a long hair do not mix. Took some anaesthetic, a scalpel and a doctor to fix that one. I was also told that this is fairly common among boys and their exclusive appendages. Um, ouch.
5. Timing is everything. Call at 11:50 AM. "I need to see the nurse." Me: "Can you come now? I'm at the clinic." Patient: "Okay, I will be over in a few minutes."
12:00 - No patient.
12:10 - No patient.
12:30- No patient.
12:35 - Call to patient: "I was just having a bite to eat."
5. You can't outrun an Arctic Hare. What you can do is acquire cuts and scrapes and bruises when you roll around on the tundra because you thought you could.
6. I am not a fisherman. Unless I fish for men. Because today I hooked two men, and I had to let them go. And another fishy this big.
7. I miss trees. I don't miss raking leaves, but I miss seeing them.
8. Pavement. My kingdom for some pavement. Dirt roads are fine. Gravel is not. I would come home and my skin would be red, I thought from over exposure to the Arctic sun. Heck no, it was the the Arctic road dust. And I won't get started about stones and pebbles underfoot and in your boots. It was. Extremely. Annoying.
9. CPR and 85 year old chests do not combine well. Living will, folks. The folks that found the patient had to start, and we had to finish. Fortunately, the patient was finished before anyone started.
10. Canadian North. The airline that actually feeds you. Should have a disclaimer on their website: "Canadian North. The Airline of the Arctic. We might get you there on time. Probably not." But as with everything, it is the north. And I know I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Had a conversation tonight. We were discussing parents and grandparents, and some of the frustrations around them. I have always maintained that raising parents is more difficult than raising kids. Kids grow up. Some parents regress. And amid all of the frustrations we alluded to, my roomie came up with the most profound statement: : "When it's kids, we cuddle them." I should have cuddled my Mom more. So should we all.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dippity DEW Dah!

Me! In the bikini! What do you mean, only in my dreams?
Just a wee bit of mish mash from last week's activities.
My life in the past four years has consisted of a lot of firsts: first time really living on my own, first time travelling on my own (to a foreign country where  I don't speak the language, no less), whale watching, piranha fishing, zip lining, well, you get the drift. Nothing is too outlandish, but for this former scaredy cat, it's all bonus.
So last week, my buddy Elaine and I participated in the Cambridge Bay Polar Bear Dip, to raise money for the community centre. Now how many of your friends/acquaintances have been to the Arctic, besides me of course? None, for most of you. And how many of those crazy  adventurous friends have ever swam (swum?) in the Arctic Ocean? In the Northwest Passage, at least close to it? Even less. And since I still haven't seen a live polar bear in the wild, or the ocean, the least I could do was act like one. You know, live in its paws.
So, on a blistering 15 degree C day along with a handful of other oxygen deprived intrepid fund raisers, Elaine and I tested our collective mettle and took the plunge.
Frozen treats.
Nice 'do! And our Dr. McPherson, just in case.
Now I know why Arctic char fight so hard. They don't give a flying fig about the hook in their mouths, or the fact that this is their last day before landing on the Corelle.They are just trying to keep warm. And while polar bears, real ones, exude a certain grace while in the ocean depths, I doubt that the first word out of their mouths when they hit the ocean is along the lines of an f-sharp. Neither do they fall flat on their arses when turning around in 3 feet of water  trying to run back to shore. Neither are their arms frozen in their shoulder sockets, lips turning blue (their lips are black, if you want to know), nor does their skin turn red and then blue. And they certainly do not muss their carefully coiffed and lovingly lacquered hair. Clearly, I am not a polar bear. And while this was not necessarily on the bucket list, I'm striking it off anyways. Not. Happening. Again. Ever.
Anyone remember the DEW line? It was a joint venture with the States and Greenland et al to protect us, more like U.S., from the Russkies back in the days of the Cold War, when there were only 2 nuclear crazies in the world. Russia and the States. Nowadays, we have 15 or 16 nuclear crazies out there. Well, hot damn, we were invited out there for brunch. Picked up at the residence, and chauffeured there and back. Eggs cooked to order, bacon, sausage, fried baloney for the easterners, coffee, and SHOPPING! What more could two Ontario girls ask for?
Beer. Okay, got that last night. I'm a happy camper, and still the luckiest girl around.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Fish Tale

The last time I went fishing, I was in the Brazilian Amazon, looking for piranha. I caught the same fish that another tourist had caught 20 minutes before. How to tell? It was a black piranha with a googly eye that was looking south while the other eye was looking north. What a fish won't do for stewing beef. I pretty much figured that was it for my fishing days. I'll cook them and eat them, but the catching and the cleaning is best left to someone else.
This was my first cast.
And then, that Elaine, my roomie in the Arctic, told me we were going fishing. In 6 Celsius weather, probably in the negatives with the wind chill. And I said yes.
My first cast resulted in the hook landing 10 feet behind me, on the rocks, and an unmanageable knot. A knife solved that. The next cast resulted in the hook landing 10 feet beside me, on the the rocks, to the right. And another knot that didn't require a knife. A few f-sharps and a few tugs fixed it. The next cast, I hooked a man, our guide Norman. Fortunately, it was his jacket and not his skin. I threw him back.

In the meantime, Elaine, who had not been fishing since she was a kid let out a whoop, and my fishing rod and I were abandoned by Norman, who assisted her in landing a 10 lb. char. She did this in less than 5 minutes. In the meantime, I snagged a rock about 10 feet from shore, in the water this time. Elaine caught another fish. I landed the hook 10 feet beside me, in the rocks, to the left. Norman and Elaine both caught fish.
Finally, I caught one this big. I threw him back too.
The other one that got away.
Norman kindly offered to show us how to quickly dispatch a fish, picking up a rock. I let my fish go.

I think  finally found my cold threshold. I can handle -50C with an open jacket and just ear muffs for a hat. I cannot handle standing on a windy beach barely above zero throwing hooks anywhere but in the water for three hours. With no liquor for another 6 weeks. I feel like it is Lent, in the summer.
And then I had to pee. Across the bay was the hamlet. To my right were Norman and Elaine. All around me was rock. Not a tree in sight. Use your imagination. If that will give you nightmares, then don't.

Another throwback.
Then we switched sites. Norman and Elaine both caught fish. I caught seaweed. And then I caught another one that was less than this big. I threw him back too. This propensity for tossing things back might explain why I continue to be single. I snagged more rocks, and watched a couple of seals in the inlet who were watching us. I swear I could hear them laughing. The hook was finally landing in the water, well, most of the time. Then we were done. Norman, bless his heart, took all the fish home, and cleaned them. And God saw that it was good. And told me to keep my day job.

Neither the fish nor I were happy about me holding him.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bear Necessities

Encounter of the safest kind.
Came across a little brochure at the visitor centre here in Cambridge Bay, entitled "Safety in Polar Bear Country." I thnk this was applicable to the ATV adventure last week. Nice to know we came out of it unscathed, having neither read the brochure, nor seen the alleged bears.
1. STAY CALM and call for help by radio or satellite phone. (Get contact numbers at your orientation to the park.). Right. Still looking for the little hut where the park ranger sits to orientate us. Found the outhouse. Maybe he fell in. Say what? Oh, there is no little hut with a park ranger. But the out house was real. Stinky, too. Um, radio? Satellite phone? You are joking, aren't you? And while we are at it, let's look at the calm for a moment. The bear might be well over a thousand pounds. I'm 120. QUIT LAUGHING, it might anger the bear (and me). When he stands on his hind legs, he's about 34 feet tall. I'm 5'7" ish. I think the only calm one will be the bear as he will know where his next meal is coming from.
2. Report location and time of incident. So now that I am standing in front of the calm bear, I have to report on my non-existent satellite phone or my non existent radio (my choice of which) where I am (on a rock in the middle of no where, about 45 minutes away from somewhere), and the time of the incident  (Meal time. For the bear.).
3. Report the number of people involved. No one. He hasn't eaten anyone yet. Maybe the calm bear can count how many of us there are. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Midnight Buffet.
4. Report extent of injuries and property damage. Assuming the bear is still calm, then mainly I will need new underwear and yoga pants. Ditto for the other members of the now party-less party.
5. Check that all people in the group are accounted for. Huh? Where's Dinner?
6. Report numbers and last locations of all polar bears involved in the incident. There's more than one? I can't see beyond the 40 ft. tall one standing, calmly, 6 feet in front of me. Maybe they're hiding behind him. Calmly as well, I hope.
7. Report reason for the attack if known. (Female protecting cubs, surprise, defending food source, etc.). They don't specify who is surprised. The bear is remaining calm, but he might be a wee bit surprised because the food source is right in front of him. The food source is a tad unhappy at this point, and since I can't see behind the 45 ft. tall standing bear, I don't know if he is defending cubs. Which would make him a her if he was. Is.
8. Report description of bears (male or female, size, markings, etc.). Got this one. No gender bias. Big. White. Black eyes, black nose. Hungry. But calm.
9. Stand by to provide additional information to rescuers. Stand. By. Yes. I have information for you. Missing Breakfast. Lost Lunch. Almost done like Dinner. GET ME OUTTA HERE NOW!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

More Arctic Antics.

Gave up my broom to ride this.
Saturday's antics. Grandma is not a wallflower.

Sure beats the stuffed one at the airport. Or the one in yesterday's burger.

The Arctic from Mt. Pelly

A fine repast with Elaine, Mike and Lisa, on top of Mt Pelly.

Going down was easier than...
 Going up.
Along The Northwest Passage. July 14, 2012, in case the icebergs fool you.
To think I did my hair before we went out. The end.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Arctic Appreciation.

I looked after a young man about my daughter's age the other day. It took a few minutes to realize he was deaf. He rang the doorbell at the clinic, I thought he saw me coming to the door, but he walked away before I could get there. I opened the door and called out, but he scurried away. I figured he was looking for a specific nurse, and when he saw I wasn't the one, he left. He returned a few minutes later being rerouted by our xray tech at the residence (he had knocked at the residence door) and I let him in. We had the most stilted non-conversation of grunts and groans I have ever had. I gathered he had been in a fight and hit in the jaw. Finally, once in the ER, I could only find a pad of Post It notes, fortunately the size above the little one inch square ones, and it was on them that the whole visit was charted, once I asked him in writing if he was hard of hearing. We wrote back and forth until I had a nice little pile of about 25 Post It notes. In the end I felt his injuries were not serious, and sent him off with some ibuprofen and instructions to return in the AM for the doctor to take a look at him. In return, I received a handshake, a smile, and two thumbs up. And then the nicest of hugs before he disappeared into the day. And that is why I love my job.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Arctic Summer

This beauty is only 3 inches tall.
What a lovely evening I was going to have last night! Purchased my modem in the afternoon. In anticipation of a night with Facebook, I went for a walk straight after work. I was gone for almost two hours. What was frozen only a short week ago has melted, for the most part, and now portions of the tundra are alive with wild flowers and short grasses. Oh yeah, and mosquitoes and blackflies and no-see-ums. A couple of evenings ago, I decided to walk "off road," through the golf course, to avoid the plumes of dust riled up  by passing ATVs and trucks. There were a few bugs, but they weren't bad. Then  decided I had to play with the macro on my camera and snap a few pictures of the tiny wildflowers that painted the normally barren landscape, so I stepped onto the tundra from the dirt road. NEVER do that, folks. It is an open seating dinner invitation to every six legged creature with wings. Even if you sport bug repellent as I did, you can imagine there are many hardy, hungry creatures out there determined to harvest your blood. It's not like there is much for them to chose from out there. Still haven't seen a musk ox. Except for the stuffed one in the airport. Maybe he stepped on the wrong piece of tundra too.
Last night's meander took me on the road towards Mt. Pelly, a rocky (what else?) land formation about 15K from here. I went as far as the bridge a kilometer from town as the crow flies, closer to two because of all the dipsy doodles and curves in the road. The river that had been iced over was now flowing freely. I turned onto a small road beside the bridge, and found remnants of camps, and sand spits that contained a chair or two for the fishermen that would soon troll the shores for the summer bounty of fish. The water looks shallow, but is beautifully clear. I stuck a hand into it, and sure enough it was icy cold. On the way home I spied 3 children on the banks further down toward the river, in their skivvies, jumping in and out of that river, laughing and giggling and having a grand old time chasing each other on the sand. The air temp is hovering around 20C, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year. Actually for anytime of the year, here, that is.
I walked into one of the town cemeteries that lays on a rocky ridge. I like cemeteries. They all have so many stories to tell, and they leave much to the imagination. Here, the graves are marked by wooden crosses, some painted white, others in natural wood. Some are small in stature, others are a commanding presence. Some marked with fading paint with the names and the dates of death. More recent ones have engraved plaques that leave you wondering, why so young? Why so old? Some graves are encircled by rocks, some painted, some not. Many are completely covered with artificial flowers and wreaths, the odd stuffed Snoopy or a baseball cap implanted. Most look well tended, but as with any graveyard, there are those that seem neglected, the fake posies having faded from many years in the sun, the painted names no longer readable. As I said a few silent prayers for all the souls interred in the rock, I wondered who will pray for me when I have been gone a while, will anyone ever look at my grave and wonder who I was, who my family was, and wonder how I mattered in life? Will a prayer ever be said by a stranger, wondering what stories lie within?
The walk ended on a high note, with me skipping away, I even ran a few paces in spite of my sore heel. I was going to cook dinner, and entrench myself in my apartment with my soon to be hooked up internet. Facebook! Yahoo! The ability to pay bills on my own computer! And.....nothing. The newly purchased modem didn't work. I think the graveyard residents could hear the f-sharps echoing across the land. And so I was forced into another night of DejaView TV. As you can tell, I have remedied the situation quite nicely.
I work with a lot of younger nurses up here, at least younger by my standards, and I have to wonder when my neck became attached to my chin? Really? I have been heavier than I am now, and I used to have a jawline then. Now it seems the turkey wattles are forming. And we are not amused.
1230 AM. My kingdom for a night. Or a knight.
The parade of craftsmen has started here, checking out the new nurse to see what she will buy. Well, she told one entrepreneur on the street that she wanted the ring carved from musk ox horn, but he had to come by the clinic during regular business hours when she would be sure to have the cash to pay for it. Guess he slept in or something. Geez, I tried to wear a part of a musk ox, and couldn't. I think, however, there are plenty of 2-legged ones roaming the streets on the weekends.
It is just after midnight as I write (type, compose, whatever), and I can see that the sun is looking like it wants to set. I am craving darkness and an open window. Well, I have the open window, but it is blocked by a supposed  black out blind (ha!), some sheer drapes, two quilts and assorted push pins. And a chair. The light shines through still. I checked on the internet, and the sun will set for the first time since May on July 23rd. For an hour or so, in the middle of what the rest of the world would call "night." If I had champagne, I would drink a toast!
And that is my world for the moment.