Saturday, October 29, 2011

And the Week Went Bye...

I can't believe that I am writing another blog; it seems just like yesterday that I finished the last one.  (I guess it is better that  I feel like that, rather than that the reader does.) 

I know I complained last week that we get very little down time and it was true again this week.  Right after I finished writing last week we headed out to Agricola  (a town up the Demerara River) by minibus.   We had been invited by Pravesh's brother Parvesh (I am not making that up!) to see the only Flour Mill in Guyana .....  Parvesh is in management there and I think wanted to be nice to two Canadians as he is planning a visit to Canada to see his girlfriend and wanted some advice.  Almost, in unison Tony and I said, "Do NOT mention ice cream."  (As you can tell, Taju's visa refusal still pisses me off; I wish that there were some appeal.  Maybe I need to take up chanting?)

On the tour of Namilco with Parvesh.
It is a small plant by comparison with all the others in the Caribbean chain and even worldwide (5th smallest), but has a high efficiency rate and throughput of almost 6,000 Kilos of ground flour an hour.   They do different kinds, but the total was staggering.   I was impressed how they handled staff as it was by a positive reward system. If you have less than 5 days sick absence a year, you receive a large bonus... and that continues to increase with each year.   And they do not have an absentee problem -- that in itself is almost unknown in Guyana.

We were only there for a couple of hours, so my conclusions lack rigorous evidence; however, it did seem to be a model employer with health and safety standards and community outreach.  (In fact, Parvesh called and invited us to a breast cancer walk that his company was sponsoring - starting at 6 AM last Sunday morning.  My 8 o'clock church service was looking better all the time.)  I  am left to wonder how they can do it while so very few other companies can accomplish similar results -- and I think I must include Mercy in that comment as well.

Tuesday, we finally got around to doing our blindfold walk as it has become a tradition and staff have been asking me about it.  This year, I had to find 20 volunteer guides (actually, not too hard as they get a candy bar too) and stay away from the construction section.  I tried to find people that I haven't used before, such as laundry, security, secretaries, doctors. This year we added an "easy" (according to Tony) neurology question to the event.   In order to get their chocolate bar, the blindfolded student had to correctly answer the question.  The volunteer could give them two chances if they wanted to be nice and if not, they had to return blindfolded to Tony for the right answer... and then go back!

I have them reflect on the experience of both being without sight and being responsible for someone else...  They develop some sensitivities for the blind as well as appreciate the difficulties of language in giving directions, the amount of talking the guide has to do and the responsibility.   It is also fun -- and to continue the fun in the afternoon, Tony talked about Test Anxiety and strategies .......

And then the highlight of the year... Tony and I hosted a swim and dinner at the Grand Coastal Hotel for the class in appreciation for all the hard work they do.   We had arranged to start at 4:30 (we had gotten them out early from school so they could get there); however, Guyana being Guyana, at the appointed time only Tony, I, Marysia and her husband Ian were there.  They straggled in after 5 and most got a swim, and then dinner -- they chose the menu -- was served.   They all thought that Tony and I were the greatest ..... And so pride goeth before the fall .....

This West Indian  is Bravo and they also had their pictures taken with Chris Gayle.
It just so happened that the West Indies Cricket Team was having dinner there... AND I actually thought that I was back at a Beatles' Concert; the girls were swooning over several players ..... the two old guys were forgotten.  They did thank us before they told us they were going over to the seawall before the Divali Parade and would be back to keep us company -- but they never returned.   We chaperoned just enough to make sure that they didn't leave (or stay) with the cricketers.

Notice the name on the float, which will pop up again shortly.  Guyana spelling is flexible .....

We had a great view of the parade as we were out on the East Coast in Le Ressouvenir; however, it took the parade well past my bedtime to get that far and there was still to be a big party when it got to its final destination.   Divali (spelled Diwali almost everywhere else and pronounced in Guyana as if it had a "w") is a Hindu festival, though as with all religious festivals it is celebrated by everyone.  It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness.

Then, next class day, the students officially thanked us.  Rhonedella who was elected to thank me went on and on... her batchmates were yelling for her to just thank me for the evening; however, she was already thanking my parents for having given me birth...   a true Guyanese thank you speech.

Tony really appreciated his thank you.

I appreciated mine as well, but with proper reserve.

A bald but capped swimming instructor.
On the actual holiday, we helped take the girls from St. Ann's swimming at a private pool, courtesy of the Biharry family -- remember the float?  The noise level was almost as much as the two concrete mixers outside my window.   They all loved it and the family provided snacks and drinks.  I tried to teach some of the girls to swim when I wasn't getting jumped on from the sides by very young girls who sank like stones.

Then, I guess because we were good boys, Sister Barbara invited us back for a Guyana famous JR Hamburger with the girls.  A pretty good burger though the pineapple and ubiquitous carrots were surprising.   I went home for a long nap...

Godfrey preparing to lose to his uncle.

So then I could go out for a beer with a student from my very first class, Godfrey.  We had been trying to do this for some time, but never connected.   He had arranged to meet at a local rum shop up-scaled with pool tables.   I did have a few beers as Godfrey was buying and the gods were with me in that I won a bunch of games.  This was good, as the guy that lost to me first was going to have his picture hung on the wall as the only guy ever to lose to an old white guy! 

The only real trouble with the rum shop and pool was that I liked it; I kind of belonged there.  I have always been a beer-and-pretzel [or Cutters in Guyana, sort of a meat equivalent of pretzels] type of guy masquerading as a minister and academic.   Oh well, not many more years left to continue the facade...

But this is clearly the end of this blog!  Thanks for reading this far.   John

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Must be half way by now....

I must admit that I don't really count the days like someone else in my family; I just know that it must be past the midway mark because I am running out of stuff that I know!   I am always confused as to whether the time goes by slowly or fast ..... All in all, it does go by quickly as Tony and I seem busier and busier every year ..... especially if I let him alone for any length of time.

We are doing a few classes for the anatomy teacher to demonstrate that our PBL approach can work with any topic.  We are focusing on the knee.  And we are using me as proof that you don't have to be a "content expert" to be a good tutor in PBL.   (The last time we sang the "..... the knee bone is connected to the ...", I sang, "ankle" ....... clearly not an expert in the human skeleton ......)  We conducted a contest with a prize for the best group drawing and labelling of a picture of the knee.  The contest was fiercely fought and and rather well done.  (But at one point I did sit there wondering to myself, "Has my life come to this?")  

The two groups competing on opposite sides of a board.
"Are you sure that that goes there?"
Actually, both Tony and I are aware that we have way more things to share than we have time left in terms of class hours still scheduled.   This isn't a bad thing, just frustrating; and I imagine that even if we stayed through Christmas (just checking to see if our wives are reading;we are not staying), we would still have a few things more we wanted them to learn.   So, instead, we have been picking extra times in the week to inflict ourselves on them.   At 3 pm on PBL days, I have started doing some presentations on ethics principles, so that at some time in the future some of the words look familiar.   And it almost makes me feel better ..... but I have to encourage the students to be much more assertive.  In the case I used for "Autonomy", a 50ish woman with MS refused a soft diet and risked choking and aspirating and they agreed that she had a right to do this --- unless the doctor said it was in her best interests to have the soft diet and then we could make her!  UGH...

We have continued to go "live" to provide some variety to our pbl classes.  We brought the students up to interview a woman who has schizophrenia and epilepsy.   As with the recent dengue patients (and hopefully even with our "paper people"), the experience of the person with a disease makes it more vividly memorable.   The patient was chatty and freely talked about people poisoning her, a wonderful personal history that was entirely un-factual and the stuff of textbooks...   Then Tony conducted a continued learning session in the hallway about the conflicts in medication for epilepsy and schizophrenia.  And I talked about the difficulties of nursing chronic patients of any kind - especially those without any social supports.   Nursing, maybe more than any other profession, puts Rogers' "positive unconditional regard for all persons" to the test. 

 For the first time in a number of years, I didn't get to St. Ann's this week... I wimped out.   I started as usual on Tuesday after class on my bicycle ...... when the skies opened and I just got to the front gate at Mercy and headed to the little building there.  (It still says "Snack Shop" and also that it sells phone cards ......  However, it has not done so in my nine years -- maybe it will be a snack shop again one day, so no sense taking down the signs, eh?)   Well, an hour passed with torrential rains persisting and when it finally settled into normal rains, the street were flooded with several inches of water.   As I was already wet, that wasn't the problem -- the problem was going to be the cars on the road with all that water!  So I am becoming more and more Guyanese - the rain here is used the same way as snow in Canada.   I'll blame my lack of daring on Anne, to whom I had promised not to do anything "exceptionally stupid". 

When you are below sea level the water has no place to go.

Next Tuesday is a major holiday here -- Divali, the Hindu festival of lights.   Sister Barbara has arranged that the girls go swimming at a private pool, so I will go to supervise!  I am adding some St. Ann's pictures because Tony and I were over on the weekend to get their old computers connected to the internet... and some of the girls took my camera.

The construction noise continues, six days a week, and once they were here till 10 pm.  I tried to include a sound track of the noise, but lacked the skill..  So if you can imagine two large gas-powered cement mixers that are slightly old right under my window, going from  7 am till at least 5 pm .......  It is a constant roar and your brain gets it into the background after awhile, but it is only about an hour after the mixers are turned off that my brain becomes silent!   (And I thought living in the Bourda Market last year was noisy!   Even the dogs barking at the mango thief were quieter.)   The noise is either here or outside patient rooms... so "through suffering to glory!"   (I have suggested moving the concrete mixers permanently to outside the patient rooms as an efficient way to cut down on their length-of-stay stats!) 

Almost everything in the construction work is done by hand; there are about 30 or so workers, most of whom are "unskilled muscle" and young.  I can't help looking and wondering what they are going to be doing when they get to forty - let alone sixty......

We had a field trip to the Amerindian Museum on Tuesday, and it was one of the best conducted tours that we have had in years.   A young man there, Yannick, did a superb job in detailing all of the artifacts... So good in fact that a few nurses were appreciating all of his assets .......

Yonnick and his new anthropologist.
We get out and about... University of Guyana to see Raymond in Chemistry and Sekhar and Stephanos in IT; out to dinner with Mercy CEO Helen (I had prawn curry with french fries and it was a national "faux pas" -- even the chef came out to see if I was sure that I didn't want any rice with the curry!  He knew it was a tourist, eh?)  and other small adventures...

Anne is on her own adventure in Calgary with our daughter, Sara.  It reached a new low for us here, 23.5C (or for the Americans 74F) and people were wearing jackets.   I imagine it was a bit lower in Calgary, although Anne tells me that even there it's only light-jacket weather so far, in the daytime at least.

This is enough for the week; thanks for coming on my journey with me. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

John... Just Some Poor Schmuck [JSPS]

Among the criticisms that I receive about my blog, few are able to be repeated publicly; one of those is, "We want more pictures of you," (I am not making this up!).  So here I am, just sitting, as one of the girls at St. Ann's uses my camera.   
I usually head over to St. Ann's on a Tuesday after I finish my classes at Mercy.  I picked that day as I am finished an hour or so earlier than the others.   It is hard to tell how I will feel; generally I am tired starting out, but the girls provide so much excitement and noise, they don't let you take it easy at all.   And then when I walk or bike home, I am tired again; however, I am filled with gratitude for the comparatively gentle sound of the traffic screaming past me. I really have no idea how the Sisters and Matrons last all day with the girls' din!

Yesterday, when Tony and I were over to re-fix the computers, the older girls were developing a dance routine, and they were including all the younger ones who wanted to join them.  Very nice:  Sister Barbara's "Big Sister - Little Sister" was working well.  However, for the hour plus we were there, they only played, constantly, the first minute of the same song ..... over and over and over...   By the time we walked  (yes, dear, it was before dark) to the Brazilian Churrascaria, I was in urgent need of something soothing!

A small aside: This is one of my favourite restaurants.  It is a barbecue place that serves unlimited portions of chicken, beef, pork and whatever else they can catch.   And you never know what cut you are getting, as they work their way through the whole animal, so last night there was beef heart and no homemade sausage.  When we walked in, the two good-looking young waitresses, Pauline and Faustina, rushed to greet us and called me by name ..... I still have the looks, eh?   Faustina, the Brazilian, won this time and took really good care of us.  It seems every time I go, I have a hard time getting my beef rare ..... but Faustina got it sorted out - and rare it was.   And the beer was cold --  Parbo, a Suriname beer in a Brazilian restaurant - very international.  (Well, Tony was also cosmopolitan with an American Sprite!)  I was looking forward to a big slice of whipped cream cake, but there was none to have.  Faustina gave me her personal telephone number to call her any time.  She actually said, "When you are coming the next time, call me and I'll make sure there are whipped cream cakes."  She gave us a Crème Brûlée  on the house.  Later, she called us a cab.  She said that she'd be looking for us again and to please return soon.    And we left her a nice tip as we usually do, but as I assured Tony, it had nothing to do with the warm welcome we receive. 

What am I doing here in Guyana?   This is the question that I usually answer in this blog with some facts and a few good stories composed of partial truths.   These are pretty easy to whack out on a weekly basis as there are so many stories happening to me everyday.   The WHY I am in Guyana is a much more difficult and personal question.   And after 9 years, I am not sure that I can give an answer that will seem true tomorrow. My most recent answer I shared during the Teacher Appreciation Day.

(If you look closely, you can see that I am wearing my Met Life shirt because my brother Peter said that if I got them some good advertising, he'd get Tony and me up in the Snoopy Blimp for the Masters ......)

"Why do you come?", they asked me.   I am not sure of all that drives me.  There is a part of me that is still a competitor [I am sure it is mostly my mind that is the competitor as my body has certainly forgotten] and, in that world, you are only as good as your last game.  Reputations and trophies mean nothing.   You have to get out on the pitch as an untested competitor and if you win, bragging rights only extend to the start of the next game.  The past disappears. The present is all there is...  I can't seem to rest on laurels and while they are comforting, they are not powerful enough to be engaging.

And there is a part of me that is still Roman Catholic - guilt!  I am not downplaying guilt, as I feel it serves many useful purposes in life; I am just aware of it as a force in my living.  I have through an accident of birth (speaking not so much about my parent's birth control methods as the luck of my place in the world) had a privileged life with health, smarts, adequate finances, loving family, great looks ..... !  This is combined with a professional career of 25 years of listening to and witnessing the suffering of so many who were "just like me" except that their lives were devastated by illness or death or addiction or cowardice.   How could I not have the questions of "Why not Me?"  What makes me special, I have no idea.

Though I have been accused of being a Biblical Midget [and probably with some justification], there are many texts that I have pondered, including Luke 12,48:  "When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required."   I can engage in as many mental gymnastics as I want about not being wealthy, the bottom line is "I have been given much."  

And because I am a liberal, I will say the opposite in a gesture to the Indian principle of Non-Contradiction - with apologies to Ninian Smart.   I am reading a Trinidadian writer, V.S. Naipaul, who wrote, "..the conviction that is at the root of so much human anguish and passion, and corrupts so many lives [is] that there was justice in the world."  I remember discovering Existentialism in university and probably haven't been the same since.   Elie Wiesel,  a Jewish writer who saved my Christianity many years ago, had written about the illusion of order and justice after his experiences in the Holocaust.  And this is where I found myself after seeing so many deaths at the hospital.   If there is no justice or order -- whether seen, imagined or believed -- in this world or the next, then if there is to be justice - it is mine to do for sure -- and maybe yours.

I think that having my life make a difference, and have meaning, has trumped pleasures [most of the time].  This may be the psychological equivalent of competitive lasting values .....  All emotions are fleeting , as are so many things in life.  I used orgasms in the teacher appreciation day reflections.   They are not designed to last.   However, meaning seems to have a durability in its remembered power.  I "must" have [yes, seemingly a grand neurosis] my life mean something.

And what about my family?    [Now I really will need that principle of non-contradiction.]  I  love my wife, Anne.  I have been happy and loved more than I could have imagined - which is also an argument for the lack of justice in the world, as I do not deserve her.   I cherish and take pride in all my children [most of the time, eh?]:  Kristin, John Aaron [he is my favourite son], Sue, Sara and Christine.   When I hear about their achievements in living and working, I am puffed up with pride and love.   As for the grandkids: Aidan, Emily, Evan, Isabel, Jennifer, Sienna and Sydney (plus an honourable mention to Shilo), I love them -- not that I really know them, as if any grandfather could really understand a grandchild ..... and they will live, I hope, a long and full life in a world I must make better.  

I do not know why this love and pride is not enough...   I do remember being critical  of a special service of remembrance that Anne once conducted in her little country church.  She said of the deceased that he was a good husband and father - period.   How did that make him special or enough?   I have mellowed and as usual Anne was right AND it is not enough for me.   At the risk of offending my wife and children:  they are not enough.  Not enough in the sense that I deserve more or better, just that I am selfish and want to be remembered - not by history and fame, but by myself. So if/when I get to some nursing home, sitting in a "Gerry" chair drooling, while some nubile young nurse pats me on the head and says, "There, there, dearie, you have to sit up just a little longer,"  I will know that I did everything that I could with my life... and remember.

Mine is not the evil of a works righteousness [just so I can keep my Lutheran status], as issues of salvation and next world kin-doms have imperceptible effects on my motivation or actions.  There was a cartoon ..... and if my dementia were not progressing I might remember which strip ..... in which, when confronted with the choice of heaven or hell, the character's response is, "Surprise me!"    There is more than enough in this world to worry about, without any conjecture about the next ones.   [Uh, oh:  there may go my Lutheran status.]

In the end,  I am not sure why I am here... I just know that I am.

I'll end with a story of a new girl at St. Ann's.  She arrived at the home the day before I visited. And let's just say that her father was not a nice guy; her mother had died; and she was from a small Amerindian village where no one spoke any English.  They called her Naiomi and she spoke only Caribe.  [The fierce warring tribe that conquered the Caribbean; she looks fierce, eh?]   I can't imagine how scared she must have been.   Well, it was arranged for someone from Amerindian Affairs to bring a Caribe speaking translator to chat with her.   Naiomi really enjoyed it and started talking in Caribe.  The young Caribe translator with a newborn baby, who was in Georgetown because of a difficult pregnancy, had to teach us some words too ..... 

So "Usabba". 


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Construction Site Living, Graduation and Gratitude

"Be careful what you wish for."   I can't remember for sure from whom I heard those words, though it was probably a nun with a yardstick intent on destroying any adolescent daydreams.   However: I had been wishing that the construction at the hospital would have gotten going last year; well, now it has begun in full force.   And their staging work area is under, next to, beside, around and in between everything we need to get to and from.   Mercy-fully, it is less than a war zone only in the sense that it has a beneficent schedule; the work noise begins at a respectable 7AM and so far has finished by 5PM and just six days a week.

Next to

In Between

The decision was made to gut the "new" wing which is a concrete structure and re-configure the insides to get more usable space - that is, more patient rooms and professional offices.  The major factor for the decision was the amount that Mercy was able to raise for the construction.  An entirely new building to replace the Colona Building that was burned to the ground was way too expensive.   Like the signature hole on a golf course, the Colona building was the signature point for Mercy Hospital, especially with Sr. Sheila's beloved and well lit cupola with cross.
Colona Building - a GT Landmark
In somewhat untypical Guyanese style, the construction is going along at a torrid pace.   The renovations are starting on the top floor and working their way down.  In the first week, it looks as if the whole top floor has been gutted and the reconstruction has begun.
As well, the new building for Materials Management and the Maintenance Department has a foundation being laid out and is waiting for some concrete to form the foundation.
Almost All by Hand and in the SUN
A moment of reflection:  I saw some of my old '60's buddies at the Wall Street demonstrations.  They looked almost the same as they did back then.  I have to admit that I don't really follow the news when I am here, so do not know enough about the whole thing ..... except that if they are there, I'll support their cause.   (Lack of evidence has not stopped me before from having an opinion!)

These men work hard and long - and in a heat and humidity that gets me tired walking in the shade.  I would think that they earn about $10.00 Canadian a 10 hour day.   And while it might be somewhat cheaper to live here, AND they have all probably dropped out of school before a high school graduation, AND jobs are all low-paying or non-existent (they were offering a relief RN at Mercy $10.00 Canadian for a 12 hour shift), this is my thought .... If there's a bunch of people who make $1,000,000 Canadian a year AND we assume that they work 365 days a year AND 10 Hours every day, they are still earning 274 times as much as:

Riches are strangely relative...
  • "Enough" is seemingly more than one has, while "Too Much" is equally more than one has... AND "Not Enough" comes closer to expressing one's present wealth. This slippery statement seems true whether one makes the $10 or the $1,000,000.
  • And just as relative are the judgments:   Those who make more than we do, somehow do not really deserve it, while those who earn less do so deservedly.   This slippery statement too seems true whether one makes the $10 or the $1,000,000.
  • As well, there's the thought that everyone considers themselves generous; and would gladly share more - if they made more.  This slippery statement too seems true whether one makes the $10 or the $1,000,000. 
If I were god and got the chance to re-construct society, I do think that I'd give the John Rawl's "just society" a try.  [It is too bad a previous god never thought of it.]   The idea is something like this:  Sometime before you  are born, you get to design any type of society that you wished. [This assumes that the pre-birth individual has an adult mind - well, maybe an adult woman's, as babies, male adolescents and men might take chances not supported by any odds or reason.]  The only proviso to your design is that you would not know to which part of your society  you would be born.  

I doubt that many of us would design a world that resembles our present one; however, we are content to live in it... or at least, not engage in any significant revolution that would bring our personal Rawlian fantasy closer to reality.  It is almost impossibly hard to get past our own self-interests.

I do not know why I spend time thinking of this as nothing is ever going to change (is it?)....... so just bring on the gladiators, athletes, celebrities, the rich and famous for our viewing pleasure and envy as the "poor will always be with us"... an inerrant truth, no?

Before I depress myself even more:  MY first year nursing students of 2007 had their graduation celebration... and they even remembered me.   It was a service in the true formal Guyanese sense ...... a ponderous and uneventful ritual that belied the joy of the graduands.  

Me and graduate Evelyn.
As well, Tony and I were invited to their dinner celebration at the Pegasus where I had to pose for another picture with Evelyn.  There is something to be said for uniforms as "some" teachers might not be able to concentrate on the right subjects!

Out with the CEO - Dr. Tony's and Rev. John sport coats were compliments of Stanton's Mensware.
And finally, for the first time in  9 years, the first year students celebrated "Teacher Appreciation Day".  They treated all the tutors to entertainment, tributes, song and food.  It was lively and fun... The students did it all overnight.   I was truly touched by their appreciation... and thoroughness.   Of course all the teachers (except Tony and I) cancelled their classes -  in appreciation too.
All were escorted to the classroom

We all received special certificates.

And a Homemade Brunch
More than enough ..... I have to quit for this week.  When /I look back on all the stuff that I haven't written about I understand why I am tired at the end of the day. 

Take care,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dr. Charlie, Nurse Cathy and my Girls, of course...

Almost all the pics of the girls they ave taken themselves.

This week has been defined by the presence of our colleagues from Canada and, specifically, McMaster University:  Charlie Malcolmson, a pediatrician with whom I spent the better part of my time in an intensive care unit, and his wife Cathy Lee, a nurse practitioner who has spent a big chunk of her career working in family doctor's offices in Hamilton.  They reminded me that I had officiated at their wedding some time ago, as well as the weddings of a couple of their kids.   In some moments, I do realize how much of myself I left at the hospital with colleagues and patients and families... and how much they are with me [or more spiritually... "are me"] today.   There are so many stories... some remembered by all , some remembered by just one of us .... and probably most of our stories forgotten by all.

Charlie had been here last year for a week to look around to see how he could participate and was all set to help develop a pediatric residency for UG and the Public Hospital; however, it was delayed and will be starting "Just Now." [For those illiterate in Guyanese, a translation is "It sure isn't now and don't hold your breath waiting".  

Charlie knew what Tony and I were doing and jumped right in with our students.  So did Cathy, who is on her first visit and is exploring future possibilities for how she might be helpful if  when she returns.  [Anyone else who'd like to explore possibilities is invited to contact us.  As Sister Sheila used to say, "I haven't met a volunteer I couldn't use!"]   Charlie and Cathy have both been a welcome addition to our tutor corps as their experience and expertise have energized the students.  As well, they are kinder than two of the tutors - and the two aren't Marysia or Claudette.

 We took them out to worship last Sunday, to Dr. Daniel and Tabitha Mallampati's mission congregation [LEFI] near the university.  Tabitha is now the Director of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing programme at UG and has already begun recruiting Cathy for next year.

They also had the gourmet experience of Taju's Princess Kitchen.   Tony demanded that they go there as a way to hide his addiction to the ice cream. [Taju's ice cream is getting ever-better, even though some unknown and un-appealable Canadian immigration bureaucrat refused his visa request because ice cream and nursing don't go together.  Actually, Taju has gotten over it; I, on the other hand, am still mad at my own government.]  Tony has also begun teaching Taju's daughter and son, Althia and Tommy, how to play the guitar and keyboard respectively .....  he gives their lessons within sight of the ice cream ......

Of course, we all got to St. Ann's to visit with the girls and Sister Barbara who chatted with the visitors for a long time about the home and the girls.   They got an insiders' tour from Alma who was quite thrilled to have such an important responsibility.   
I don't think that I mentioned it last time, but Tony and I were over at St. Ann's earlier to get two of their computers working and connected to the internet, so the girls can do their homework.  Well, within a week, one of the fixed computers blew a monitor and so I switched it with another old one.  This is the pattern here:  many donations are used well before being donated [and donations are still a good thing] which usually means that their "trouble-free" period is quite short.  

Stream of consciousness:  orphans, girls, boys, old computers, new computers, Mercy, School of Nursing, wireless, IT department, new employee  --- Ah, to the point:  Hansel!   When I first got to Guyana, he was just a little weenee at John Bosco Home in Plaisance; and, now he is on the IT staff at the hospital - some very good things do happen!
Hansel, with Jennie, the IT Boss and the always helpful Dr. Tony
I started my cute(?)  "rat's tail" in the early 90's because it was trendy then, and then kept it just because it annoys people.  Now I think I have discovered its real meaning:  people all over Georgetown know me and remember me!   At the Brazilian barbecue place, I didn't recognize anyone- the owner, the waitress, the cooks... however, a beautiful young woman came over and started playing with my tail and saying, "I remember you... "  If there was ever a great pick-up line ......  and I was ready .....  She went on to tell me, "And you like your breasts rare" ..... Whoops -- I  think she actually said, ".... beef rare," and yes, I do.  

Many of the taxi drivers know without asking that I am headed to Mercy.  And yesterday on my travels I ended up yakking with a woman on the street because she remembered my conversation with her daughter when the girl was a patient at the hospital.  She recognized me by the tail; however, I am sure my words touched the child deeply!  And then at Bosco, one of the teachers knew me; she was a Lutheran and remembered --- the tail.   Speaking of being Lutheran, I am preaching across the river tomorrow and following up on the Revival Meeting of a week ago.  [I'll write about the whole experience next time.]  

And I really can't leave without a Tony Story.  We are getting along like an old married couple.   However, he still has some quirks [now fewer than 100] that I am trying to understand.  For instance his toothpaste roll.  I thought that I could go to the web and gain insight into such a seemingly violent approach to squeezing; however, I found that this particular pattern has yet to be described.  I have asked for help from the sites, but please feel free to comment.
Tony's Toothpaste Roll and used only for two days.
Thanks for getting this far... Take Care, John