A Swede, An American and a Teleporter

Agharrow- I have been planning this garden since January when the sun was non-existent.  I started with some research and now here I am getting fresh cow shit dumped gardenside.

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I know now why the Irish build stone walls, well sort of.  The stone border here and throughout were collected from digging out the beds.  Jesus Christ.  To be fair, I think all of this was fill dirt added many years ago.  After a while it was great fun seeing who could hoe out the biggest rock.

IMG_7386.JPGHad the early potatoes chittin’ in the windowsill until a few centimeters of shoots emerged (mine are Colleen Organic).  Early potatoes are more blight resistance but have smaller yields.  My leeks turned leggy, but better luck next year because I don’t really like them anyways.  My biggest flaw is impatience.  In Ireland, it is so important to wait to sow anything because the hours of daylight are so few in the winter and sunlight scarce.

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Pretty awesome when the delivery man does a shite job and your neighbor helps you out.  No chance of me moving a one tonne bag of Envirogrind compost over a 3 ft wall and into the garden.  The next day he dumped a load of fresh cow manure over the fence after I had mentioned interest.  One of a kind, he is.

IMG_8002.JPG(Boring paragraph about gardening, skip to the next for the food porn)  The scutch grass is still a pain in the A$$ but I am getting through it.  I did break down and buy some timber raised bed kits but then realized I will still want to double dig beneath them so there’s really not much point until my raised mound beds disappoint me or I want a mini garden out the kitchen window for the hares.  So far the garlic and onions are starting out nicely.  I’m sure I planted the garlic while it was still cold enough, otherwise it will just grow into one giant clove instead of bulbing out, like a boss.  I covered the onions with a cloche for the first two weeks which seemed to keep the birds away until they rooted.

Missing the van life  a bit so were decided to cook paella (vegetarian version) outside on the portable stove.  It was brilliant!

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Life in the Van- Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands- I have been hesitant to write about living in the van.  I envy the awesome Instagram travel posts #vanlife and the like.  My expectations were that picturesque pimped out Westfalia with all the mod cons and the interior designs of an Anthropologie store.  Being a novice and in a foreign country I wanted to take the approach like we do in nursing for medicating old people with opioids, “start low and go slow.”

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What van life dreams are made of.

While still living in a flat in Ganzenhof,  I scoured Markplaats (Dutch Craigslist) for a suitable vehicle that I could convert into a proper sleeping mobile. I found a super nice Volkswagen for €3500 in the Jordaan.  The biggest turn off here was that the dude had named it something horrible.  I can’t remember but it was Bess or Sissy…is was Sus, yep Sus. He had taken it for a quick spin to Spain and it had higher mileage than what I wanted.  It was also my first “newsflash!” that I would have to learn how to drive a manual transmission, I needed more time to think.  I also didn’t want to be driving a bright green van around the city, sleeping and working until I got my bearings and deciding where to go next.  I needed something stealthy and not a RV.

Although the culture of campervans and aires is quite common in Europe, it is harder in The Netherlands, especially in/around Amsterdam.  This is common sense really.  I don’t think the Geemente wants a bunch of people like myself living in vans, making shanty towns and going for wild plassens, despite the general tolerance for prostitution, soft drugs etc.  I will say my experience(s) with the Politie and Eurocops in general has been quite friendly.  But, go to France and you can sleep in hundreds of aires for free, Spain, just park wherever you want and carry on.

I didn’t know a lot about cars except that German ones have intricate engines and are expensive to repair.  Solution, go with a Ford.  This sounds very American, but hey! I needed cup holders damn it.    I found the Transit for €1600 and it came with three free driving lessons! No, not exactly but once I admitted to not knowing how drive a manual, Jan (the owner) thought it necessary to make sure I wouldn’t kill people, especially cyclists.

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Who I am

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Who I wanna be

After the first driving lesson in Zaandam, Jan dropped me off at the train station.  Before that he asked me to make the money transfer.  I whipped out my iPhone and transferred the money straight away as HE drove away…in my van.  My heart sank.  I called him hysterical and crying.  Useless shitty wimpy girl I was.  He was totally helping me out with the driving lessons and registering the car.  He said, “Uh well you know where I live.”  Which I did, but I had NEVER bought a car myself, like without a parent or significant other to say “Yes, good job Haley!” typical, I know.  I will credit my mother with giving me the confidence to drive a large van.  In high school I had to drive her van.  We called it the party-bus, it was dank.  I picked up the van after two more lessons, barely knowing how to reverse.  I’ll never forget the back and butt sweat on the way home, stalling out on an uphill, stopped on a bridge letting a barge through or something.  Terror on wheels-it was.   I made it back to Ganzenhof and promptly took a three hour nap.

We (my companions to be described at a later date) started making some renos on the van.  In The Netherlands you need a few specs to register it as a campervan, one being a certain height requirement that I didn’t have.  Instead I insured it as a business van, Haley Wool ftw! which earned me the name “Haley Lawless,” along with making U-turns every chance I got. Alas, transforming the van- we needed a place to cook, storage and a bed.  Now, some campers get a portable toilet.  I have made a career out of cleaning up other people’s feces (sometimes really joyous patients throw it around the place) so I chose to forgo a toilet sloshing around every round-about.  The goal was to make the van sleepable with a bed, insulation, buy a stove and give up all belongings unless they fit snugly in the van.  Plans to install an aux battery were and still are alive, but winter came quickly so we had to move fast.

I bought the van in July and by August we were camping every night.  It was lovely but as the weather changed and I realized I was in Northern Europe, I began to unravel by Halloween.  Planning is key here and a big misstep on my part was that I started way late in the season.  However, if you find an opportunity to live in a van and a willing partner to travel alongside you, I suggest you go for it no matter what the length of time.  As the spring is warming me up now, I am certainly thinking about getting back out of the road.

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The Vanje and the best lil’ camper ever, Rolfie!!

98% and the “NCLEX hospital”

Winston-Salem, North Carolina- My nursing program is coming to a swift close.  It seems like everything is due and every test taken.  I still have half of my preceptorship to go, but that is quite an enjoyable experience versus sitting in the classroom for hours on end learning about the “NCLEX hospital.”  For background purposes, the “NCLEX hospital” is a magical place in which everything is perfect and there are few variables.  The NCLEX stands for the National Counsel Licensure Examination, or simply the state boards.  This test is what keeps a nursing school graduate from becoming a registered nurse.  By taking this test, you are recorded on the State Board of Nursing Registry as a safe and competent nurse who is able to practice in the state, respectively.  Thus, a large portion, if not all of nursing school is spent preparing for this test.

In class, we answer questions based on working in the “NCLEX hospital” which refers to the correct answer on the the state boards.  This is opposed to working a scenario in real hospitals that require more critical thinking and a variety of techniques based on a tremendous amount of patient information.  In nursing school we go by the “NCLEX hospital” to make things more black and white.  We also go by this because the state test we are taking may not be based on the most current evidence based practice of the year.  Not that the “NCLEX hospital” is not a great example of what to do while practicing nursing, it is just that once a clinical experience starts, a student may see somethings done differently or the classic exceptions to the rule.  We are taught which decision to make under certain circumstances, meanwhile in a real hospital setting we may choose one intervention over another based on different factors such as hospital policy, psychosocial assessments, family history or data to long to place in a four sentence multiple choice question.

So with that, today I took an NCLEX predictor test. This test predicts, yes ladies and gentlemen, how you will perform on the state boards.  I am happy to say that I received the highest possible percentage of 98% pass prediction.  This gives me confidence and lowers my anxiety about taking the big test.  I will still take a moment to study, but at least it gives me some peace of mind that I am not blindly navigating this new career, but that I actually have a pretty good handle on situations…in the “NCLEX hospital!”

With this I celebrate.

Let’s Start Somewhere

I am a nursing student with 74 days to go until graduation.  I am also a dog mom, yoga student and wannabe healthy person.  I live in Charlotte, NC with a truck load of family members, they are my bread and butter.

Although I consider myself a citizen of Charlotte, for the last 10 months I have been living in Winston-Salem to attend nursing school.  This program is referred to as an “accelerated” option for people that already have an undergraduate degree.  Some folks are changing careers, and  others couldn’t find a job with their selected major.  For me, I loved working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and nursing was the next step.  But, nursing is not the full length feature of my life.  I tend to dabble in all sorts of activities, occupations and events to keep me interested.

I do not consider myself a “people person” so nursing helps me to let go of my fear and simply talk to people.  I also dig human anatomy and physiology.

I have never asked for honey and gotten this!