Friday, January 26, 2007


Dear Laura,

Dr. Couz, a blog-friend who became a real-life-friend through a surprising encounter*, has tagged me to do an "interesting things about me" meme. The idea is to list 5 interesting things about yourself. Hmmm....

1. Some of the residencies that I seriously considered before deciding that rural family medicine was my true passion: pediatrics, internal medicine (with a view towards rheumatology), and orthopedic surgery. Yes, really.

2. One of the best trips I've ever taken was a cross-country road trip with my cousin (and soon-to-be matron-of-honour) and two other friends. We drove west and ended up on the Queen Charlotte Islands. It was phenomenal.

3. One of my biggest pet peeves is "unnecessary" quotation marks. Is it a "sale" or just a sale?!

4. I don't know if this is really an interesting thing about me, per se, but I do have some interesting relatives: my distant cousins are fairly famous Canadian musicians (Leahy), and my uncle is is a street luger in the X-games on ESPN.

5. When I was in grade six, I was afraid to go to school dances because I didn't know how to dance. Now, it's one of my favourite forms of physical activity - I've taken lessons in both ballroom dancing and Irish dancing and I'd love to do more.

Laura, I don't know how much of this is a surprise to you - but I realized that there aren't many interesting things about me that you don't know. Couz, I hope this was interesting!

I'm supposed to tag some more people do this....

1. Laura, it's your turn!
2. Tammy, one of my favourite artists, whose blog always makes me laugh.
3. Kristen, who I'm not sure has found this blog yet. Kristen, if you're here, speak up! :)

Hope you're enjoying the weekend,

*I walked onto the ward on the first day of a new rotation this year and met one of my very friendly residents. As we chatted, she mentioned that she had recently returned from her honeymoon, and I thought in the back of my mind, "hmmm...someone I know just got back from a honeymoon....who was it?" A little while later, she pulled me aside and said, "do you knit?" When I replied in the affirmative, she said, "I KNOW YOU!" Turns out it was the author of a blog that I had been reading for quite a while!

The Grand Tour

Dear Laura,
Well, my time in the north has almost come to an end. My flight leaves tomorrow at 2 p.m. I'm a little sad to be leaving - it always seems that as soon as I start really settling in to an elective, it ends and I have to move on.
My preceptor wasn't working today, so I took the opportunity to wander all over town. I met my preceptor for lunch at this wonderful little cafe, where they have sandwiches on the most delicious homemade bread ever. Then I went to a little craft store that I've be eyeing almost since I got here. Turns out they have drop in quilting classes every Wednesday night - wish I'd know that three weeks ago! I did buy some fantastic handmade moccasins there, though! They had a pretty impressive selection of yarn, but sadly no dishcloth yarn, which was what I was looking for. This is a friendly small town though, so the lady who was working there directed me to the hardware store down the street - where they had an impressive craft department, including some beautiful fabric and lots of yarn! Not somewhere I would have thought to look for yarn!

I bought some yarn and walked on to the hospital, where I took a few photos and dropped off some "thank you" cards. Then I wandered home to warm up!

Oh yeah - it's been a beautiful week here, between minus 10 and minus 15 every day with lots of sun. Unfortunately, today, the day when I decided to go wandering, the temperature plummeted. I was bundled up on my walk, so I was warm enough - but my cheeks were freezing in the wind! Turns out the windchill was MINUS 28 today! No wonder I was cold! (And can you believe that I was actually out for a stroll in this weather? This is not the Nikki you know! I'm all tough and stuff now!)

I have lots of pictures for you today. Some of them are from a walk that I took on Wednesday, when it was sunny and only minus 15!

Here's the little Lutheran church around the corner. I think it's really sweet. There are a remarkable number of churches in this town, given that the population is (I think) less than 10000 people. There's a Jehovah's Witness temple right next door to this church.

This is just one of the residential streets a few blocks over. I'm hoping this photo shows all the
snow here! They've been clearing out snowbanks along the shoulders of the roads for the past few days, because they're so high that there's no visibility at the corners. For some reason, all this snow removal has been happening in the middle of the night - so I keep being woke by the "beep, beep" of some vehicle backing up at 2 a.m.!

This is my house. It's the end unit of a triplex that I think the regional health authority owns. It's a two-bedroom unit but there have been three of us here - the other medical student is using the rec room in the basement as her room. It's quite a comfortable little spot, and the sun just pours in that front window during the day.

Last but not least on our tour, the hospital. It was once a mission hospital, run by nuns - hence the big cross on top. There's a Catholic cathedral across the street. It's a great little hospital, with one ward for medical/surgical/pediatric patients, another ward for maternity patients, and a third ward for psych patients. There's also an emergency department, and next door there's a personal care home (i.e. nursing home). It's pretty functional for a small-town, relatively remote hospital!

And I'm sure you're wondering if I'm ever going to return to craft-related content on this blog. I have been doing some knitting while I've been here - obviously no sewing, since Mrs. Stitchy isn't exactly travel-friendly! I've made a dishcloth already, and I've been working on a pair of socks that I'm working on for my Dad to wear to the wedding. I finished sock #1 before Christmas and I'mr eally trying to get the second one done for his birthday in February. It was only about 1/2" long when I got here, and I'm almost to the heel now - so I'm making progress. Finally, I started a new knitting project today - can you guess what it is??

Well, that's it - you're probably still waiting for all the pictures to load! Hope you're doing well!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Are you really you?

Dear Nikki,

I just got back from a Guide meeting where we had someone from the local school board to talk about internet safety. He started out by making a couple of interesting points about the word safety: 1 - kids turn off when they hear it, because they hear so much about it, and 2 - it means different things to different people, and so context is critical. Then he spent the next hour or so freaking me out about the internet. He made another very interesting point though - basically that if you gossip about someone online or express an inner feeling, be it by email or in a chat or a text message or anything, you don't know who is reading it on the other end. The person you're gossiping about could be in the room at the receiving end and this could have negative consequences for you!

Anyhow, other than that things aren't too exciting around here. Ice fishing "On the river Saskatchewan"* sounds awesome, even if you didn't catch anything! I am curious to hear more about the northern medicine stuff; feel free to rant. Do you spend all your time in one spot or are you travelling round a bit experiencing different things?

The bib turned out much better on the smaller needles. In fact, I enjoyed knitting a boring rectangle with no shaping so much that I started work on the baby genius burp cloth from the same book. I'm not sure what I think about it yet...

It's a bit bright, eh? I am, however, liking it more the more I knit. I'm not really sure if it's wide enough to be a burp cloth. It's about 8" wide unstretched. What do you think?

Anyhow, I have an early class tomorrow, so I'd better go get some sleep. I'll post again soon and I look forward to hearing your wedding ideas!


* Of course I can!

p.s. I don't know what's going on with the photos... I'm having a hard time with them. I'll try to fix them later!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On the river Saskatchewan...*

Dear Laura,

On a lighter note from yesterday...I had a very "northern" experience today.

Ice fishing on the Saskatchewan River! My preceptor (who is like 5 years older than me and very fun) and her boyfriend took me ice fishing with them. It was actually pretty mild here today, only minus 10 or so, and it was a beautiful sunny day. We had originally planned to go snowshoeing, but my preceptor was on call, so we had to be within relatively easy reach of town in case of an emergency. Hence, ice fishing!

We didn't catch anything, but it was fun nonetheless. I wish I had taken a picture of the ice auger - you would have enjoyed that! Anyways, we drilled holes in the ice (okay, I watched that part) and put minnows on our fishing rods and plunked ourselves down in lawnchairs to wait.

And wait.

In the end, we didn't catch a thing, but it was really fun! I even got to ride on the snow machine. (Easily amused city kid, eh?) ;)

I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear....that I got a sunburn. In northern Manitoba. In January. Go me!


*Can you name that tune?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Challenges of northern medicine

Dear Laura,

Helloooo from the north! Your baby blanket is adorable - love that fabric! How did baby bib attempt #2 turn out?

I laughed my head off at the YH's post about navigational difficulties in Waterloo. It's so familiar to me! Brad's dad recently moved here so I've been there quite a bit recently - and despite living there for four years, I still get lost on a regular basis!

I have recovered from my murderous cold for the most part. I still have a cough like an old man who's been smoking for fifty years, but otherwise I'm fine!

My experience up here continues to be...interesting. I think the most shocking part has been realizing just how much of a double-standard exists in our health care system. It's appalling how much we have to go through here to get something for a patient that would be thought of as a given back home. People travel for hours for a test that would be done in five minutes in the city. Very sick people have to make do without homecare, not because the funding isn't available but because there aren't enough nurses to do all the care. Critically ill patients wait on remote reserves because there is no doctor available to go with them in the helicopter to the city. It's terrifying, and it's sad.

All the people in the south who complain about waiting for hours in emergency rooms should try living on a remote reserve where there's only a nursing station - but no nurses to work at it. The nearest doctor is an hour away by air, and the nearest hospital is even further. There's just no way that people get adequate health care in such a setting.

I am developing an amazing amount of respect for the doctors who work in this environment. They work long hours with little or no backup, and their efforts are often hampered by a grossly under-staffed healthcare system. And yet, they do a great job for their patients.

I'll get off my soapbox now! I've been working hard but have been putting a lot of thought into wedding planning during my time off - we'll have to talk soon so I can run some ideas past you!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dear Nikki,

Have you read the YH's post about Waterloo yet? I totally cracked up when she mentionned King and Weber intersecting!

Not too much exciting has been going on with me. I've been dog sitting the past few days, which has been going pretty well. Tomorrow I don't have classes, so I get to stay home and work on typing up notes, which will delight the dogs as I will take a break mid-day to go for a walk, and they'll actually have someone around. I'm pretty sure they get bored when they're home alone. The other exciting news (actually, not good at all) is that my car is sick :( It's been in being repaired since Saturday; apparently the steering rack needs replacing. Which is not cheap, and comes with excellent timing to coincide with shipping my furniture out here from Ontario. Yay!

Craft-wise I haven't been doing much. I don't know what it is, but after working all day I'm totally exhausted when I get home. Especially if I've had a Guide meeting after work too! I cast on for the denim bib from Mason-Dixon Knitting (thank-you again for giving it to me!). I decided that even though the pattern called for 4 mm needles I would cast on with my 4.5 mm Addis. It's a bib; gauge totally shouldn't matter, right? Wrong. First of all, the needles are awesome, and even the denim cotton felt really nice to knit. However, the feel of the bib is wrong, it's too floppy and loose. So once I'm done posting this, it's coming off the needles and going to the frog pond. But, here's a picture of the bib in progress, along with one of the fun flanellette receiving blankets I plan to give to my co-worker (the bib is hopefully for her too).

I hope you keep feeling better!


p.s. Currently reading: Winter Holiday, by Arthur Ransome. The fourth book in one of my all-time favourite kids book series. I'm not even sure how many times I've read this one, but it's still great!


Dear Laura,

Now whose turn is it to apologize for being slow to post? I'm sorry! You know how my immune system kicks ass and I never get sick? Oh right, that's not me, I forgot. Anyways, I've been sick for the past four days with the mother of all colds. I basically spent the weekend sleeping, migrating between couch and bed depending on the time of day. It was rotten. However, it would appear that I'm on the mend today, and I'm even going to work this afternoon! Hooray!

Despite all that, I'm still having lots of fun up here. I saw a ton of interesting stuff in the emergency department last week (including, apparently, someone who had the mother of all colds and shared it with me). The doctors and nurses are all fabulous and everyone is very welcoming.

The most impressive is one of the admin assistants from the hospital, who brought me homemade chicken soup, gingerale, lemon and honey and a variety of other "feel better soon" stuff this weekend when she heard I was sick. It was wonderful!

I wish I had interesting craft stuff to show you, but I'm working on a grey sock right now and it's not very interesting! What have you been doing?


Currently reading: Still Sherlock Holmes. It's awfully thick!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dear Nikki,

I know I'm in trouble when you've posted twice between my posts!

First and foremost, I can't believe you've already finished the table runner! It's looks fantastic! Congratulations. The baby blanket looks very cute too. I made some very basic baby blankets (I cut flannel into squares and serged the edges) while I was home for a colleague's baby-on-the-way. Yours is definitely much nicer!

It sounds like you've found yourself a nice, friendly place to visit/work! It sounds very cold though. It snowed here today for the third time since I moved here, which is quite a lot of snow for Vancouver. I still find it kind of funny the way the whole city seems to shut down when it snows. However, it seems to be largely due to inexperience with snow (if you don't shovel the driveway right away, it will become slippery and a huge pain in a couple of days, and seriously, clear off your cars! Especially the rear windshield!), and due to lack of snow clearing equipment. It's also a bigger problem here because of the hills; if it's snowy and I haven't shovelled the driveway, it is steep enough that I won't be able to drive out without chains on my tires. Luckily, there is no snow accumulation where I am, so I haven't had to spend the evening shovelling.

Incidentally, speaking of places up North, have you had a chance to keep up with FBOFW while you're up there? I won't spoil anything until you let me know, but I sure do want to know what's going to happen tomorrow morning!

Anyhow, I'm off to fire up my work laptop to type up some notes for my 8:30 class tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Into the Snowy North

Written on January 7th, but it took me a few days to get the internet up and running!

Dear Laura,

Well, I have arrived safe and sound in a lovely little town in Canada’s North. (I haven’t yet decided whether it’s wise to actually name it on here, so we’ll keep it unidentified for the moment.)

My flight was long (about 7 hours of travelling) but uneventful. My connecting flight from the big city airport to this town was on a tiny little turboprop airplane which had 18 seats and was impressively named “The Spirit of Pickle Lake.” I should have taken a picture for you – it was pretty cute. The plane was so tiny that I was nearly bent double at the waist to make my way down the aisle. Fortunately, I like little planes. They feel more adventurous to me or something.

The trip was fine, and I was met at the airport by a lovely woman who works for the hospital in administration. Not only did she pick me up and drive me to the house where they’re putting me up (and this at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night), she then drove me to her house, where I had a roast beef dinner with her and her husband before she delivered me back to my place safe and sound. There’s nothing like small town hospitality!

I’m sharing a nice townhouse with two other women – another medical student who is here for another week or so, and a locum physician who apparently comes out here regularly to work for short periods. (Locums are like the supply teachers of the medical world. They work for a few weeks or months at a time in an underserviced community to help them out, and some communities – like this one – actually depend entirely on locums for certain specialties like obstetrics or anesthesia. I’m hoping to form a relationship with a community in the north so that I can do short locums there throughout my career, both for a change of pace and also because I really think that the lack of doctors in Canada’s north reflects badly on this entire country.)

Anyhow, I met my med student roommate tonight and she seems really nice. The doctor was working overnight, so I will meet her tomorrow. And I’ll do my best to take my pictures – there’s snow here, and lots of it!


Saturday, January 6, 2007

Sewing bonanza

Dear Laura,

Congratulations on your apartment! And blue, no less. How exciting! When do you move in? I can't believe there's even a hobby room. Sounds like our kind of people live there! Maybe you'll meet some crazy knitters and create a little knitting commune!

Well, I was pretty much a sloth today. I'm always torn about days like today: on one hand, they're very decadent and they're exactly what I'm wishing for when I'm really busy and have no time for myself. On the other hand, I always finish the day feeling about wistful about how much "I could have done" if I had got my butt in gear. Ah, well. The bottom line is, I had a day filled with sewing and watching The West Wing with Brad, and I can say for sure that it was relaxing!

So first, as promised -- the table runner! I started it two days after you gave it to me, and I've worked away at it since then. Today, I finished piecing the top. Now it just needs a back and binding - but the binding is scaring me, so I'm going to leave that until I get back. Here's the top.

It's so beautiful! I loved all those fabrics together when I first saw them, and they look even nicer than I had imagined now that they're all put together. I can't wait to finish the whole thing.

My next project of the day was a baby blanket. My fabric store tour yesterday yielded some flannel that was on super-duper sale. I had seen blankets like this on a few sewing blogs, and I decided to give it a whirl. It's not really a quilt, but it's a nice blanket, and it was good practice. There are a few babies on the way in my world, and I think this will go to one of them.

Check out the cute seahorse fabric! The yellow on the back is just about as blinding as it looks. I figure the baby will definitely be able to identify his or her blanket from outer space, should the need arise.

Seriously, though, it's pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. I'm tempted to take it with me tomorrow - when I fly to northern Manitoba to have a wonderful experience in rural and remote medicine and enjoy the wonderful outdoors in my spare time. (Read: freeze my butt off for three weeks.) I'll do my best to update while I'm there, and I'll even take some pictures if my hands don't freeze and fall off when I take my mittens off to work the camera!


p.s. Here's one more picture of my blanket....yes, I'm bragging! (Note beautiful zigzag edging. Mrs. Stitchy has all kinds of tricks up her sleeve.)

Friday, January 5, 2007


Hey Nikki,

I know this will come as a huge shock to you too, but I actually did choose the pink background because I thought you would like it. And because I wanted something that looked a bit different, and in use I think this template looks very nice!

Guess what! I got the apartment I wanted! It's really, really nice. The view is fantastic. It's in excellent condition, and all the appliances and everything are in good working order. The walls are (would you believe it) blue, and almost exactly the shade of blue I tend to choose when choosing blue paint. It's not huge, but there's a fair amount of storage space with closets and such. The building is also really nice, including an exercise room, sauna, underground parking, and a "hobby room". Apparently, if you want to do anything like sawing or laying out your pattern for sewing or hobby type things, you can just head down to the hobby room, and as long as you leave it as you found it, there are no problems! I'm so excited!

My other big news is that I'm finally settling back into Guiding again. As you may (or may not) recall, I had some trouble getting the Vancouver Guiding people to get in touch with me when I first moved out here. I ended up mentionning it to my former district commissioner in Toronto, who sent out an email to see if anyone needed me sometime in October. I got lots of lovely emails then, but was too busy and disorganized to get it set up until now. So hopefully I'll be going to my first meeting soon!

Congrats on your new family members! Mrs. Stitchy looks very nice (nicer than the old one I offered to loan you, that's for sure!). I'm looking forward to seeing what you make with her. Brad's new bike also looks... practical. I'm sure it's a lovely bike, but I really don't know much about these things. I definitely understand about keeping bikes indoors though. When one of my former lab mates got an apartment he and his roommate needed one with a bike room, because between the two of them they owned about 7 bikes I think!

By the way, further screwed up weather: it snowed here today. And the high in Toronto for tomorrow is 15 degrees. What's up with that?


p.s. Currently reading: actually nothing. My aunt just told me that Marley & Me gets really sad towards the end because the dog dies... so I'm about to go on the prowl to find another of my aunt's books to read. Wish me luck! I have actually heard of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures because my parents got it from Liz's mom for Christmas (I think). Liz's mom knows the author, since she teaches doctors to teach at UofT.

Let the blogging begin!

Dear Laura,

I am so impressed! Malcolm's sweater looks perfect, and he looks absolutely thrilled with it. Well done! I've never tackled an entire sweater before, and I sure admire your fortitude.

And secondly, well done again! Our blog looks great! I particularly like the pink. (This is shocking to you, I know...ha!) I'm so excited to get writing! Now, where to start...

Well, we have a new little addition to our household. Two new additions, I suppose. Meet Mrs. Stitchy:

She was a Christmas gift of sorts, in the way that every time my mom and I go shopping together and I "buy" something, it ends up mostly being a gift. She was out of stock when we bought her (just after Christmas) but she finally arrived at the catalogue depot here in town yesterday. I took her for a run last night and enjoyed myself thoroughly. These new sewing machines are so quiet! (I know, I sound like a grandmother. But my Mom's machine is LOUD, and Mrs. Stitchy is so quiet that I was using her while we watched TV last night and Brad didn't even grumble!)

In other news, Brad got a bike. It doesn't have a name yet. It's currently living in our living room because it's a fancy-schmancy racing bike and our neighbours have issues with remembering to lock the basement door - so apparently it has to live inside our apartment when it's not out doing what bikes do best. Fortunately, it's a pretty handsome bike, and it's keeping Mrs. Stitchy company at the moment.

Well, I'm off to the fabric store and then to spend some quality time with Mrs. Stitchy. Remember that awesome sewing kit that you got me for Christmas? I will hopefully have pictures to show you tomorrow!


p.s. I love this idea! Currently reading: Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I. After getting hooked on Laurie R. King's fiction about Holmes' later years (which we both love), I decided I should check out the originals, too. Turns out they're great! I also just finished Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, which won the Giller Prize this year. It was excellent, too. It's about medical students, residents, and physicians in Toronto, and I found it a bit close to home at times - strikingly accurate, particularly about some of the less-flattering stuff. You can borrow it if you want to read it!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

It's Done!

Dear Nikki,

I finished it! My brother's Christmas sweater, of course. It was done by Christmas (actually, it was done by the 23rd, which I think is pretty good) except for a final block to get it the perfect size. It turns out I was right to wait because it was a bit short at the back originally, but I think that it is now pretty awesome. Check it out!

My brother also gave me a pretty awesome gift: an excellent teapot for loose leaf tea, and Addi Turbos! Yay! I will knit so fast now!

The other exciting (or extremely stressful) news is that I'm looking for an apartment out here. I have found the most gorgeous apartment, with views of the water, and more or less within my price range. It isn't huge, but it sure is great! I'm just waiting to hear (hopefully soon!) whether I will get it or not... keep your fingers crossed!

Anyhow, I'd better go eat now. It's 8 pm and I'm hungry! More soon about the new term at school!


p.s. Currently reading: Marley & Me by John Grogan - the story of a goofy, misbehaving, and loving yellow lab - Highly recommended. Just finished: A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King - I actually liked this one better than the previous two. I will send it back with my mom in February and she will send it back to you. What are you currently reading?

p.p.s. Sorry the picture is so huge (file size). I promise I will soon get a program to shrink it!