A year of living –

What a difference a year makes – or two. The last time I was here I suppose doesn’t count as really ‘being’ here as I had to leave after just a couple days and return home. By mid-travel this trip I was irritated and moving quickly to uncomfortable. Touching down in Memphis brought it all out to the front of my consciousness – I don’t like being in the US any longer. It is difficult to put your finger on the reason, but one thing I have learned over the past year especially is to pay attention to gut feelings, and my gut tells me this is not the place to be. In all honesty, the minniapolis airport was deserted, so it wasn’t over crowding that lead to my discomfort. It was suprisingly empty for a saturday. Maybe everyone was at the Mall? But it was cold….not in minniapolis, where it was raining, but in the airport where the airconditioning was set on hypothermia. I drank cup after cup of insipid tea just to be holding something warm and wished I had brought my mitts to wear inside. I always forget the american drive to use up natural resources as fast as humanly possible.

And of course the little rain storm made the scheduled aircraft late, so we left the land that time forgot late, arrivng in memphis about the time I was realizing, once again that my joints just can not stand to sit for so much of the day. While in minneaplis I walked from one end of the terminal to the other a couple times, just to make sure I got some blood flow filtering through my lungs. I don’t want any suprises while in the US because, amid all the packing and getting things off my desk at work, I forgot to go get travel insurance. One more thing to dislike about the US – the inability to be ill without preplanning.

Arriving in Memphis full of rising irritability and painful hips I discovered that yes, even in the south, the world revolves around some people. Since air travel began it has been common curtesy to allow the infirmed, handicapped and those needing assistance to get on the plane and settled first and to extend the same curtesy to the other passengers by having those who block the ailse deplane last. Not so anylonger. Up jump their handlers, who may not be even sitting in the same row, manhandling mum and her cane and non-functioning leg into the aisle before the doors open. Elbowing other passenger’s heads to haul down the suitcase and drag dad up into blocking the aisle, these paragons of filial virtue shuffle their charges out obstructing not only the aisle in the plane but also the gangway to the airport. Slow and unsteady these parents of utter twits hobble out of the plane with the rest of the passengers breathing, like the hounds of hell, at their backs.

Bad enough that the passengers clog the exits, but the crew seems unable to control the environment. Used to be they would remind you to remain seated and they would get you the assistance you needed after everyone else got off. Now they have some hapless grond crew fighting the stream of passengers trying to get out while the crew rushes a wheel chair down the ramp and junior tries unsuccessfully to have dad stand here, out of the way. Shit you mensa reject – dad has been sitting for the past two hours, and he is stiff and unsteady, He needs to move slowly and carefully you cast off science experiment on intelligence.

Bad enough the crew cannot control the passengers, but they also cannot control the equipment. Twice this trip they could not seem to get the exit pathway working within any reasonable time frame. I worry for the safety of those inside.

Finally, upon touchdown in huntsville, when once again they couldn’t locate the means to open the door, I arrived and shared with JD my misgivings…..I am not enjoying being in the US any longer – he hit it on the head – everything is just so damn difficult. Perhaps that is what pervades the air down here – the collective sense that EVERYTHING is an ordeal, that nothing is simple or easy to do, it all requires more hours and patience than it is worth.

Too many people, too little brains. Are there more stupid people in the US? Not necessarily, there are idiots aplenty in every country, but perhaps it is that because there are more people the idiots seem more plentiful. Or maybe, as JD points out, it is that they are ill educated AND stupid. A deadly combination in a society. After discussing this and JD blaming it all on the mexicans we arrive at sonic for a burger, where the decidedly white guy behind the microphone still can’t get the order correct (did you know you CAN determine skin colour by voice alone?) and we arrive at the house and I find it has been inhabited by an aged calvin and hobbs.


weekend warrior

Oh my aching head!  I seem to have found my self in withdrawal this morning.  After a few short weeks of experimenting with a known addictive substance, I have a physical withdrawal…cured, fortunately, by hair of the dog, so to speak.
Yes, I have found a way to take in some coffee on a daily basis….though now I am having to reconsider that concept.  I was really enjoying it too.  I was able to start my mornings with a nice lactaid, half chocolate1%latte…and it really isn’t true coffee as it was from the product called encore – a coffee chickory blend – yet here it is, the typical weekend headache of the more addicted coffee consumers.  Wow.  And I had thought I was on to something great as I could have a latte and feel full for hours and then another one in late afternoon seemed to allow me to get my dairy intake yet not feel sick………
But come to think of it all, perhaps the dizziness and anorexia this past week could be all part of this.  Maybe my delightful repast of a daily coffee is to blame?  Oh!  Say it isn’t so!!
I had found the perfect food substance.  A latte.  Made with lactaid milk both chocolate and white, one cup total milk and heated in the microwave (probably not good for it….) then mixed with a small bit of boiled water and the encore.  It met my chocolate need, my warm drink need, and my dairy need…all in one.  Could it be more perfect?   Add in some concord grapes – their perfect round slippery sweetness rolling around my mouth – ah heaven on earth!
sad though to think the coffee must go.  Will the grapes taste quite as sweet?

morning musing

How does this work?  Every time I have a day off with nothing to get up for, I am awake earlier than I would be if I had to go to work.  This morning I finally got up around 0630 – but had been awake for about an hour before that!  My only goal today is to get the grass cut and paint the basement suite….If I was working today I would still be asleep.  Maybe the sunrise has something special to show me this morning?


Speaking of the grass, the rabbit was out there earlier this week when I took the garbage to the alley.  I nearly stepped on him.  It was nice to see him still in his summer clothes.  NOAA (national ocean and atmospheric association) doesn’t begin predicting winter weather for another day.  Environment Canada says the temperature will be above normal in the north and in a small dot right here…of course when you look at their historical % correct map it seems they are notoriously not better than chance at predicting

And while the bunny is still in his summer attire, the colours this fall and winter will be bright and bold.  Purple wine, cashmere rose, lemon curry, green moss, a soft violet blue, a blue grey green, a deep turquoise, chili pepper red, burnt ochre and an espresso brown. I’m betting the stores here have nothing but brown.


I read this past week that the AACCN has published a paper detailing how toxic the environment is where ICU nurses work.  And they are not talking about hazardous waste spills!  No, rather they feel that we, as nurses are being mean and picking on each other.  They are even calling it lateral violence.

Violence huh?  Seems to me that someone doesn’t know what real violence is.  Of course rude, juvenile behaviours like those described in the paper are acceptable, unprofessional and downright childish, neither are they violent.  This is not to say that lateral violence could NOT occur…..I have a co-worker who became so stressed by the actions of co-workers that he believed that they were targeting is car in the parking lot.  Of course he didn’t report it, nor most of the actions of his co-workers.  The typical cry of ‘…but management does nothing!’ is the usual response from nurses who believe they are being victimized by their co-workers………and so the behaviour continues, the mis-communication continues and the perception of self as a victim continues.

But how is management supposed to ‘DO SOMETHING" when nurses don’t report it?  management is not capable of omnipotence despite what nurses seem to think.  Granted when you feel beaten down you are less likely to report or seek help from those in place to help you – battered wife syndrome – but when this lateral violence happens (ok, let’s call it what it is – lateral hostility), it is essential that the situation is dealt with.  I’m betting that those 18% of the nurses who feel they experienced verbal abuse from another nurse in the past year had communication difficulties with that nurse previously or continuously. 

I remember one nurse I worked with when I started in the ICU who treated me with derision and contempt.  She was a difficult person from many people to work with – she universally treated most like shit.  One night I was giving her report and she was ignoring me or saying ‘I know!  I know!" when I tried to tell her about the patient’s day and condition.  Finally I stopped and told her ….’ well since you know everything about the patient I’m not giving you report’ and walked out of the room.  She came running after me apologizing.  We finished up report and she never treated me that way again.

I feel that while some of the concerns are valid about hostility in the workplace, there is a great number of people who are willing to be a victim or who are LOOKING to be a victim.  They find insult and injury in every interaction and feel slighted daily.  This has little to do with workplace violence or hostility but rather with their inner demons and needs.

Nurses want to be considered professionals then they need to stop whining about being picked on, stand up for themselves and be professional.  Sometimes a co-worker’s actions to you is not about you.

On the edge of a wing

"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."

-Rev.Henry Ward Beecher mid 1800’s ("Bird Brains")

Harsh laughing woke me up this morning.  A staccato laugh…HA!….hA!….HA!  Only to discover it hadn’t really woken me but was being played out in a dream of spinning on a wheel with the laugh in the background.

When finally the laugh broke through my sleep to really wake me I discovered 2 things.  One, there was a crow outside my window and two, I was falling down dizzy.  If I hold my head just right I can get about and the crow was just trying to get my attention to tell me that another day had arrived.  To hell with roosters, some people have robins, but I have crows.  Seems sort of fitting.

I’ve always associated crows and ravens with dad for some reason.  Perhaps it was the crow we had as a pet when I was small and the story of him having a crow when he was young that makes the connection.  Perhaps it is the mythology of crows and ravens that I feel drawn to or the symbolism of the large black birds with the ugly call.

Is it the crow or is it the raven?  Well it was definitely the crow that woke me today, you could tell by the noise, but there are differences between the two.

  • A raven weighs about four times that of a crow.
  • Crows have a wing span around 2.5 ft., and ravens about 3.5-4 ft.
  • A raven’s wing sometimes makes a prominent "swish, swish" sound, while a crow’s wingbeat is usually silent.
  • Ravens have pointed wings, while crows have a more blunt and splayed wing tip.
  • Crows have a fan-shaped tail (squared-off), while raven tails are long and wedge-shaped.
  • Besides having a bigger, more powerful bill, a raven’s bill is curved, while a crow has a more-or-less flat bill. Additionally, atop a raven’s bill is a tuft of hairs absent on crows.
  • As a result of being larger and more powerful, ravens are the more efficient predator. (Predation is a very small percentage of crow and raven diets.)
  • Crows are more at home in the urban landscape, given their ability to be more socially inclined than ravens
  • Ravens at times will fly wing-to-wing with their mate, with the females just below the males.

The biggest difference though I think is that the crows are more social while the ravens more isolationists.  Sort of like people – they come in groups but there are a percentage of them that prefer to be less a part of the group.  It has been reported that ravens will use crows as lookouts or indicators of danger.  If the crows are disturbed by something the ravens know not to approach.  If there are no crows at a garbage site or a kill site the ravens are more cautious.  Again, sort of like the isolationists among us – using the general population (the crows) to act as a warning system should there be danger.  The general population is noisy and attracted to shiny things and prone to make a lot of noise when something seems not quite right, giving the ravens among us time to evaluate, move further away and then laugh.

Maybe reason I associate these birds with dad is the curiosity.  They are flexible, adaptable and have an unending thirst for knowledge.  Just like dad.  While he may not have been distracted by shiny things, he was distracted by anything new, he often made a lot of noise about it and he had a sense of play.  The crow’s harsh caw, caw, caw sounds much like a critic on some human foible.  If we listen we will likely hear some sense in the crow or raven’s quorking. 

The crows are smart, witty and quick with their intelligence, but the raven seems more wise and while still laughing at us, will place things in our way to try to help us along….if we are smart enough to see it.  We are likely a great source of enjoyment to the crows and ravens – funny pink things with their silly antics, or maybe they are just waiting for us to drop dead so they can eat.

"Though the birds have a wide variety of sounds and calls they may not be willing to divulge their secrets to us." Quote the raven? Aaarrck!


crow divination?

white ravens

have you got your socks on?

Yep, it’s definately time to put on the socks.  The signs are there…school starting, rain, freezing toes….I wore flip-flops this evening in defiance, but yeah, I have my socks on – but only when I go out of the house.  I am still sockless inside.  I will resist to the last.
What with the cooler weather it has been a challenge to dress for walking to work.  Last night I got caught in the rain, this evening it threatened me but I missed it.  I figure if I walk faster I will be warm enough and home soon enough.
Work.  Now there’s an experience.  Today all the nagging and reminding and cajoling people regarding the importance of safety checks  came to fruition.  Mid-afternoon the alarms started going off.  All of them.  It was quite the din and it took a few seconds to realize it was all of them, but every ventilator was alarming.  There was no oxygen pressure.  Staff jumped and got eveyone on a bagger and a portable tank and none of the aptients had any ill effects.  What a great bunch to work with!  Soon discovered it was the whole freeken hospital!  How often does that happen?  Never thought it wouldm that’s for sure……Still no word on why the pressure dropped, but I’m sure it will be examined to death.
For once it was easy to do the right thing.  I guess that when it counts, in an emergency, staff were able to pull through and do what needed doing for the patients.  So the system does work, it just seems like it doesn’t!  The challenge to provide safe patient care goes on.  Not only though is it due to no nurses but we also must add disrupted oxygen flow.  Is this a harrbringer of things to come?
Brrrr!  what a thought!  Put on your socks!

bony knees and all

The asters are in bloom.  Hardly suprising I suppose when they are the chosen flower of Septmber.  Still it is nice to see them springing up all through the woods and trails once again.  It seemed, many years that no wildflowers would grow back, and here the tiny purple faces are again.  Along with the sudden startling reds and burgendy of the occassional wild rose leaves, it seems that fall is on it’s way.  The drive back this afternoon with golden fields and bright sun and borders of warming yellows in the trees make the whole world burnished and warm.  The cows stood drowsy and satisfied of their place in the world.  The tiny gophers stood nibbling daintily upon some choice seed surely thinking that ‘man, sundays are good!’ never knowing what circled far above.
It is perhaps the last weekend of the summer.  So they all say anyway.  By friday at noon the population had been whipped into a frenzie by the proclaimations that suddenly, without warning, there would be no more summer weekends!  This frenzie meant that they must become road warriors and head out.  Somewhere, anywhere, just to be moving.  There was no point in attempting to get anywhere friday afternoon so I found a bookstore and hunkered down to find a diversion. 
Saturday morning dawned dismal and grey with promises of blue sky and all the city emptied.  It is rather a wonderful moment to discover all the traffic disappeared like in some old end of the world science fiction movie.  ‘What was it that got all the people, gramps?’  "Was it a plague, or a war, or global warming?" 
"Nope, child, it was worse than that.  It was the last weekend of summer"…cue the dark and mysterious music.
Solace can be found in a small trailer stuck out in a field in the woods.  Quiet and calm with owls hooting through the night and a bright moon, high and clear to light your late night excursions to pee in the grass.  (you don’t really think I’d walk all the way to the outhouse in the middle of the night, do you?)
There is something grand and soothing about sleeping outside, even in a trailer.  I’m not sure what burden comes between us and the earth and sky when we errect houses, but something dampens the earth effects and soddens our senses. 
But sleeping outside with the owls and the dew and the moon shining bright renews and refreshes me to wake and believe that looking out at the field, I could, should I find my shoes, I could, be running across the field, with pigails flying and bony knees high, once again six.