Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cherry Pie and Gratitude

Tonight I'm baking a cherry pie (I don't do pumpkin) for my first Thanksgiving at home in at least 13 years. Throughout the process, I've been thinking of the simple things for which I am grateful. For instance, I was grateful that I didn't have to gather all my supplies, put them into canvas bags, and carry them up two decks to a common galley. And then make another trip for an item or utensil that I forgot. Run down and up one more time for my own dishtowel. I didn't have to hope there would be an empty cooking station. I didn't have to clean the counter before I started to work. I didn't have to wash the dishes by hand, but I could load them into the dishwasher. Finally, I'm not sitting on a grungy folding chair in the riposto reading Newsweek while waiting for the pie to bake. Instead I'm sitting in a recliner in my living room, writing this blog entry and watching Without a Trace, wishing I'd remembered to do this earlier so I could be in bed now.

In the spirit of my friend Ann, Isn't it Amazing how flour, shortening, salt, and water can taste so good, especially when covered with cinnamon sugar? For that matter, isn't it amazing that raw ingredients mixed together taste wonderful when I wouldn't consider eating any of them individually? Think chocolate chip cookie dough. Or are you one of those people who fears Salmonella and would NEVER eat cookie sushi?

Someone asked me today if I missed the ship. The quick and the short of it is, no. But I do miss the friends I've made and the traditions. Come Christmas eve, I may need to put a shoe outside my door. And I might not be sure what to do with myself on Christmas eve if I'm not scurrying around the ship trying to decipher the phone list and locate cabins so I can deliver gifts.

So now I have to wait 2 days to eat any of this pie...I'm grateful I have food to eat, not just the essentials, but dessert, too. Happy Thanksgiving a couple of days early.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Observations from my Walk Home

It's funny how you can return 'home' and yet find that your interpretation of circumstances has changed because of experiences you've had while away. The mind makes leaps in logic that seem completely reasonable until something else startles you back into the current setting.

I walked by an ivy-covered building at the medical center the other day and heard birds chirping. I caught myself thinking "weaver birds" and turned to look for them. I saw the ivy instead of the palm trees and remembered I wasn't in Africa anymore. In 1990, after returning from Sierra Leone, I sat on the hillside at camp, heard movement in a large tree, and immediately looked for a monkey.

Last night I saw 3 gas tanks hanging in back of a building and wondered, "Why do they need three church bells?" I walked a little bit farther and realized it was a dive shop and those really were scuba tanks, not a mechanism for calling people to a meeting.

On another note, there are three Dunkin' Donuts along the 1.2 mile walk home. Do we really eat that many donuts and drink that much coffee?

Monday, November 3, 2008


This weekend my nephew Patrick celebrated his 4th birthday. Today my mind returned to thoughts I'd recorded four years ago on my website (no longer active) and I was reminded of these truths. I thought I'd share them here...along with a photo or so of Patrick and his much-loved younger siblings.

At this point in my life, it’s unlikely I’ll ever know what it means to have a child. This love that has grown for Patrick since Maureen’s call, for this little one I’ve never held (and even now that I have held him), gives me a new understanding for the depth of love my heavenly Father has for me. Patrick’s done nothing to deserve my love for him, just as I have done nothing to deserve my Father’s love. He just is, a representation of a new generation. How God must feel as he looks upon me – and you too – a child he created. It truly is a fathomless love that I am only beginning to understand.

Lessons from my First Week on the Job

I've learned a few key things in my first week on the job:
  • I don't have a crew, I have a team/staff
  • The SICU and Trauma/SICU aren't on Decks 5 & 6, but on the 5th and 6th Floors.
  • That big wall of glass in my office isn't a porthole, it's a window.
  • No one uses military time, so I need to use AM/PM again.
  • I'm back in the US, so dates are written month/day/year and not day/month/year.
  • The entrance to my workplace is not a gangway, but the main entrance.
  • That person near the entrance is not security, but the valet parking attendant.
  • Magnets do not hold things on the bulkheads...I mean walls.
  • I do not have to use sticky-tack to hold items on shelves. And sail preparation was probably NOT the most likely explanation for all the equipment the staff found on the floor in a storeroom this morning, but it was the first thing I thought of!
  • No one pages me to tell me that mail is available for pickup. I have to wait until I get home to see if any mail awaits me on the stairs and I have no idea who else might have received a care package this week. Of course, most people don't rely on care packages. If they need something, they go to a store to buy it!
  • I can't just wander over the the ward or down to post-ops to get a baby fix! Maybe I need to volunteer for that 'baby cuddling' program they mentioned at orientation.
On the other hand, some things are no different:
  • I need to wear my ID all the time.
  • There are still lots of stairs to go up and down.
  • I'm still not excited about going to the dining room/cafeteria for dinner. I'd rather cook my own meals.
  • I walk about 4 miles/day and am going to have to figure out a way to add that extra mile at the end of the workday.
  • My office is just as cold as my office on the ship and I don't think I can control the temp either.
  • Patients speak at least as many different languages here as they do on the ship. The difference is that the translator is available via the telephone.