Wednesday, March 26, 2008

spring blossoms

The hyacinth showed it's beauty in full yesterday, aroma filling the air. It's a sweet reminder of the coming spring. Though this will be my first arctic spring and I don't expect crocus and hyacinth to be greeting the mornings, I look forward to the changing landscape the bay which is forever on a clear day will turn to water briefly before the frost returns.

I look forward to the growing season that is offered by the local garden club. The season will be short but intense.

Woot woot! I walked all the way home without my wind pants! Yah! that really is a milestone since the current temp was a balmy -11 with some wind chill posted. Maybe, just maybe my legs were a wee bit numb.....I'll never admit it!

I was outside at lunch today and came in remarking to a co worker that I would love to be sitting in my beach chair suntanning. It was mahvelous outside; all sun, no wind!
Only while I speak these words does it hit me that in reality it is -16C, in the arctic, snow everywhere! Suntanning? Now? Guess you'd have to be a northerner to understand!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nearly twenty days and nights. That's longer than I expected the sign to last. Just before 3am this morning, that knock at the door had dog barking and me checking the latch. Seems the frustration, or disappointment was more than the caller could take. Can you see the sign in the snow drift? The long weekend had me expecting the bottle runners checking for bootleg and I am sure they will call again tonight.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sun dog

I've only seen a couple of sun dogs since moving here. Today I ran inside to grab camera! Finally a pic! The secondary suns are a result of the ice crystals in the air reflecting the bright sun. It looks dark in the picture, an optical illusion it is bright enough to wear sunglasses. (As I review the photo I can hear "ting"!)

St. Patrick's Day

Aren't we all Irish on St. Patrick's day?
Allison and I decided to go for a green beer
for St. Paddy's day. Even the musk ox got into
the spirit of the day! The bar was decorated in green
and white balloons and the staff was all greened up with fun hats and ties!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Qilak translation heaven. This is my Shangra La. Even though the social problems of the community are evident enough they do no taint my love of the landscape, big clear blue sky, brilliant sun and the inescapable feeling that there...over there across the land (tauvani, nunakkut) is forever away.

On Saturday I had my big chance to use my newly acquired however minimal Inuktitut. A visitor from Kimmirut assumed I was Inuk and started chatting with me. Completely lost, all I could stammer is; "I'm sorry..." He looked at me and asked " You Inuk?" No I replied. Hey, had I been on the ball I would have been able (really) to say qallunaangujunga". Literally translated to white I am. No confusion except maybe my bad vocalization of the ng sound that stumps all of us qallunaaq! The out of towner didn't mind and gave me a big smile anyway.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Celebration of the Seal

These are photos from a community event celebrating the importance of seal to the Inuit community. I thought I would try to eat seal but when my opportunity arose, I declined. A man would cut the animal with an axe or hatchet into small pieces, women arrived with their ulu to further cut their portion to edible size. In the pic below you can see the activity.

Above is a traditional qulliq
(kud lik) which holds seal fat (pounded to liquid) and wicked with a grass to provide light and some heat.

Here a woman agreed to have her picture taken as she cleans the fat and flesh off the skin with her ulu (curved blade). She was very quick and did not tear the hide. I was very impressed!

Also the show included free caribou stew, bannock and beverages to purchase. Most stunning were the sealskin fashions, beautifully rendered, creative and original.

The main reason I attended was to hear the throat singers. Until now I confess I didn't get what the fuss was about. The duo performed several pieces loosely titled; The return of the River, The sound of the Saw, and The Wind. Upon hearing each piece I was transported to the thawing river, the increasing rhythm of the water, the low repetitive sound of the saw or the haunting sound of the arctic wind. The music is without instruments or lyrics but none are needed.

Friday, March 14, 2008

new friends

This is Dorothy. Dorothy is six years old and is a coworkers daughter. She is the best way to start the day at work as she hangs out with us until it's time for school. Today she has pretty ties for her ponytails. Some days she braids Allison's hair for her, mine is just too short!

Below is fluffy dog neighbour, she is on my route to work and she has just enjoyed a milk bone. I had not noticed her tail between her legs until I reviewed the photo, but she is a lovely, friendly fluffy girl.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

where oh where is my stuff?

Where most Canadians pay their 52 cents plus tax they would expect to get prompt delivery of a letter. Arctic Canadians pay their 52 cents plus tax and can expect delivery of a letter to take a donkeys age. I'm not dumping on the hard working guys and gals in our post office, they do the best they can. What has me puzzled is how something posted in central Ontario can make it to Montreal in TWO days and sit there for SIX (and counting..)! The postage rate is not discounted, just the service. Tracking a parcel is an exercise in frustration since the results return the same day after day. For sure I didn't expect the once proud postal delivery to become such a sagging victim of it's own corporate weight. Where's my stuff?

Also, my sympathy to the northern bloggers who don't live in a central location, dear heavens what you must go through trying to get a new pair of socks (or cappuccino machine?!)

polar bear

Saturday, March 8, 2008

i did promise but how could i resist?

To end the perfect day, the perfect sunset. The sky has some low cloud. Trekking up the hill with groceries in my backpack, I had to turn around to catch the light.
Another beautiful day in paradise.

aaaah shopping

Today was the much anticipated celebration of International Women's day with a craft SALE!
I had a call back to work, and then hurried self across the street to the sale. Crazy turnout, you could hardly move in the aisles. Finally I found my way to a table with some beautiful hand made mitts and knew they were just right for me. The fit is perfect! The mitts are hand sewn from seal with a blue fox trim. I won't apologize for the animal hide as the money supports the women's shelter and the skill provides income for women. Also in the picture is a wee pair of kamiik. They can be used as a zipper pull or perhaps on a keychain. I will send them to a loved one. The kamiik are a beautiful miniature of the real thing, hand beaded to complete the detailing.
The shopping has satisfied my urge to get to a mall ...for now anyway! Am proud owner of hand to hand skilled tradition.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

well it's come to this

Don't panic friends in the south! This sign posted on my door does not mean alcohol free zone! No, no no!
Since I have moved to my tree house apartment, the door has been rattled at any hour for the call of the bottle. Seems the previous tenants were bootleggers. Now in a dry town, there will be good money to be made bootlegging and many people seem to have the entrepreneurial spirit. Unfortunately when you take over tenancy in a former bootleggers homestead you run the risk of or depending on your own entrepreneurial spirit, the option of having a ready made business.

Having turned many a potential customer away I have decided to save everyone the trouble and post a sign. The best part is; I had asked a co-worker to help me translate so that all comers would be able to understand. I had in mind a French, English, Inuktitut sign. Taadaaa! This is her translation. Now why didn't I think of that?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

so many things to buy.

I don`t feel bad spending eighty dollars on this ring since a weeks groceries can cost over one hundred! How could I resist, it`s shiny after all! Hand made with gold and sterling.

After being too sick to eat for two days, Caesar decides one night when opportunity presented itself that it was a good day to challenge neighbours dog for top dog status! My worst fears coming true; we are on those comes up, Caesar goes down, Shelley lets go of leash! Self preservation first, dogs will deal with each other. By the time the good neighbour and I got the dogs sorted out, his pet had leash around his leg, and my dog has two toes caught in stairs, they are both making the most unearthly screams! I`m freaked out about Caesars two toes, so the neighbour kindly got his toes out of metal stair without breaking a toenail! Of course even though he`s in pain, and snagged on step, he is still trying settle the dispute! The neighbour and I both agreed that they will have to settle it one way or another. Caesar is bigger but old, dog is fluffy and young. Both are scrappy !
Huffing in so much cold air and struggling with two large dogs left me exhausted and in pain. Caesar and dog didn't seem much worse for it and both were eager to get on with the rest of their night. Funny thing is I went out with dog to get picture of Aurora Borealis right over head... by the time I got to my feet, it had moved so far over the bay it was too far for my lil cam to capture! There will be other nights for that too!

Over hill and rock....

This is a photo essay of my walk to work. The walk is mostly uphill and takes me about 15 minutes (I`m a slow walker). Starting with the view from home,the first corner, then the dog that barks at me every day. Actually I know if I`m early the dog isn`t in place for the day yet!
The final pictures shows workplace on the right and down the hill toward the town centre. It`s easy to see the topography, the arctic isn`t flat after all!
Most days are beautiful, cold and clear you can see for miles, the only limitation is your vision or camera lens!
In other news Caesar has been sick for a week, poor fella dropping weight by the day. He can barely keep water and tablespoon of rice in his belly. We also discovered he doesn`t like Pepto Bismal either and often has bright pink lips! He seems to be slowly on the mend. I just got him back to his healthy weight after the stress of the move; he was a mere shadow of former self. The good news is there is a vet around town!