December 31, 2009

Flights and the future...


My friend was supposed to leave last Monday - 4 days ago. Blizzard Monday. No connecting flight Tuesday. Blizzard Wednesday (yesterday). And today? Mechanical difficulties with the First Air flight turned the plane back to Iqaluit. Since it's New Year's weekend, there are no flights with First Air until Sunday. Fortunately, with lots of weedling the good folks at Canadian North squeezed her, as well as Sarah, on their 11:45 flight. Thanks, Susan, for the help; Siovone, thanks for the awesome visit; and Sarah, good luck in Winnipeg!

It's New Year's Eve at the close of another decade which leaves me wondering what I have actually accomplished; what difference have I made in the world. It seems rather depressing to think that we're all roaming around in our own little worlds without somehow being linked. This time 10 years ago I was in Ottawa, ready to party on Parliament Hill...what a madhouse. While living in the capital, I only did that once; there's just something much more attractive about being at a party where being crushed by crowds of drunk people is not on the menu.

So when looking to the future, what remains of the past? It's something that I've been pondering recently. Does it really make sense to make some sort of Bucket List of things to do? How do you know if you're taking on too much? I guess I'll just see how things go.

To those of you out there reading, thanks for taking the time peruse this blog; for those of you traveling, safe journeys; and for those of you hoping, may your wishes come true. Talk to you next year!!

Certs List :
1. flexible airport staff
2. caribou antlers
3. HazMat suits
4. the internet
5. Sean Connery

December 28, 2009

The New Year is upon us...

Christmas has passed. It was a great one, and I'm still enjoying the holiday, but it's official...Christmas has passed. This year was a great experience - my first Christmas in the north. I was fortunate enough to have a friend visit me, a few great dinner parties, and a wonderful snowfall to help me out with my snowmobile. Yay!

So Happy New Year a few days early! Anyone ruminating on resolutions yet? Anyone think that resolutions actually work? I know January has the highest enrollment rate at any gym, but I also know that that dies by March; is there any way to keep promises to yourself? Perhaps it's a time to just look at yourself more honestly...I guess that's what I'll do.

Well, I'm off - there's really not much to write about today. The blizzard swirling outside has storm-stayed my guest for another two days but also left us with enough snow to enjoy my Arctic Cat...

Certs List:
1. seal meat
2. word processing templates
3. file folders
4. play dough
5. snow without wind

Festivities, a feast, and a flip...

You know that weather that just makes you want to throw on your old sweats, big socks, and curl up with a hot drink? That's the type of weather we had in Pang today...actually, it's still going on out there. Heavy snow, crazy wind with even crazier gusts. Like I said...cocooning weather.

Unfortunately, Keisha needs to be taken out periodically as does my neighbor's dog, Sophie. So off I go, layered in snowpants, sweater, jacket - that coyote fur feels awesome around the cheeks - and open the door with all the force my mitts and fingers will allow; the wind is nasty right now. Earlier in the afternoon, I had to change the direction of my snowmobile: the wind was gusting from the east while my Cat was facing west. was the first time that I really had her going in 'real' snow and this is what I discovered: it's really difficult to cut a new path when the wind is gusting. Since it's holiday season, there aren't many people out in this end of town to start those tracks. I guess the job will be up to me tomorrow.

In my previous post, I mentioned the Boxing Day festivities out on the ice - we had great weather and a lot of fun. The afternoon/evening was also full of scheduled events like indoor games and traditional dancing.  I was looking forward to it all, but I guess it started late and fizzled early. We did make it over to participate in a few games and see the kids, literally, crawling up the walls. Ok, so there were bars to help them out, but they were still hanging around behind us all night!

The two main things about the evening that I'll remember most are actually unrelated to all that...

#1. Through some weird coincidence I ended up eating dinner with Ashley, a Cape Dorset blogger, and
#2. I flipped my snowmobile and pinned Siovone underneath.

The dinner thing was interesting; I had finally made contact with a friend of my family back in Nova Scotia and he and his wife invited us over for some amazing turbot and scallops. It turns out that their son - and his girlfriend - are in Cape Dorset and were visiting for Christmas. A happy coincidence. So an extra 'hallaa' out there to the Dorset readers.

Now, the Big Flip. Siovone and I were heading over to the school, and I ended up taking a route that I've only taken alone in the past. Actually, that would be true of about any route, but in this one that additional weight made a real difference...I got caught halfway up a ditch at an angle and rolled into the back end of a parking divider. Fortunately, though Siovone got pinned against the wall, I fell more into the dip and was able to use both legs to push the thing upright. It was more of a scare than anything else, but it's good to know that I can flip it over with my legs if I need to. Oh, but next time I should try to remember to hit the kill switch.

But here she is...proof that she's alive (though storm-stayed) in Pang...

I think I should head to bed for the is, after all, after 3 am.

Certs List:
1. coyote fur
2. scones
3. good quality dish detergent
4. chihuahuas
5. snowpants

December 26, 2009

A morning on the ice...

Today, Boxing Day, things started out on the ice. It's the tradition here to gather in the morning when the light finally makes it out; as you can see, though, it's still pretty dark. In this first picture I took my 'sweet ride' out past the festivities to take a picture of the group and a few houses in the background.

And so here was the deal...everyone boogied on out on their machines to start up the outdoor fun. Kids made it with the cutest little snowmobiles I've ever seen...literally mini-machines. I remember when I first got my monster - I would watch them zooming around and wonder why I couldn't even start mine. A typical southerner. I worked it out though.

When Siovone and I first arrived, the ladies hustled us over to the ice golf. Yep, ice golf. I wasn't even close, but I'm not a Tiger Woods wannabe; it's all good.

Oh, you see those big orange glove-type things Siovone's sporting? Of course all her stuff was borrowed from friends who had some sort of northern experience, so the fit wasn't the best...but those gloves...oh, those gloves. They were huge! Right up to the elbows. As soon as we got off the snowmobile people were eyeing them; apparently they would be awesome for fishing. I wish I could've heard the exact words (I just got the translated report).

As the women golfed, the guys were having ski races. Well, actually, not skis...more like pieces of plywood with rope. Singles and doubles. Check out my pic with the bums.

It was really funny to watch. The ladies had their turn later, and the videos I took were classic...I paid for them with pretty icy fingers though!

Check out the parking lot with that beautiful white Arctic Cat...

My final shot...isn't it beautiful? My Cat, Mt. Duval, my Goose - all elements of Pang I would be lost without.

Christmas canine adventures...

I know not everyone is a dog fact, there are people in my life who openly eschew the species. However, how could you look at this little chi in a Santa scarf without at least cracking a grin? Everyone is biased in some sort of way when it comes to animals, but I don't suppose there's any doubt about where my loyalties lie.

This year was Gryphon's first Christmas...he's only 10 months old. For him, he always gets attention, so I suppose it was just another day for him. Well, I think the bell on the collar freaked him out for a bit, but he loves posing for the camera.

Sean, my brother out on the west coast, provided the attire...matching sweaters for Scarlett and Gryphon. The latter - well he's always been a good sport when it comes to dressing up and sitting pretty. Don't get the wrong idea. I don't do the Paris Hilton thing. I do think, however, that a sweater is ok for a dog that should rightfully be in a hot location.

Scarlett, on the other hand, is never impressed when you pick up a piece of always sends her running. Actually, it's kind of funny when you have to put her in a jacket to take her out; she's itching to get out the door but is always fighting some internal battle - she doesn't want to get near her wardrobe.

Here she is in her new sweater...

Halfway out...

Ahh, ready to relax...

Keisha, Keisha, Keisha...imagine this: a greasy carcus, a turkey neck, and a dog in full puppy mode racing up the stairs, down the stairs, around the table, under the table, on the table...ah, good times. Now imagine that with two girls chasing her around and trying to herd her out the door. And, of course, after her turkey dinner she raided all the bottom branches of the tree for cookies.

It's a good thing she's cute!

Certs List:
1. words
2. candles
3. strong collars
4. leftovers
5. care packages

Cookies, cookies, cookies...

When it comes to Christmas, there are many associations people develop - good and bad. Family, food, fun. It's all there. Since I'm in Pang this year instead of in the warm pocket of Nova Scotia where I grew up, family is something that alters. Sure, you make your phone/skype calls, but who's going to share your turkey?

This year I wasn't going to host any sort of dinner. It just seemed like too much. However, I just felt that I needed to do something to match my is pretty sweet. I started last night...

Although I know chocolate chip cookies aren't really holiday traditional fare, I found a fantastic recipe that makes your teeth rot just reading the ingredients. Sugar, sugar, sugar, chocolate, sugar.

When they came out of the oven, nice and soft, about a gallon of milk was required to make things just right. Imagine that smell. Amazing.

So, once the house smelled all nice and cozy, it was time to start with the Christmas foods. My cranberry sauce is where it started. It ended up perfect for today's feast...

I decided to start the meal early thins year because Christmas day preparation is bad enough without having all that extra stuff to do.

Now, there is one holiday tradition that I remember from the time I was a wee one. Every year, my mom would make some fantastic home-made gingerbread to put on the tree. Not like the puffy ones you buy in a store, but the kind that starts with a tablespoon of ginger and a tablespoon of ground cloves. Mix that with some sugar (yes, more of that), butter, flour...knead it, roll it, cut it, cook it, frost it, hang it. Yum.

Now, I know the frosting on those is pretty butchered, but I was not able to copy mom's delicate hand...I ended up cutting a hole that was just a bit too big on the end. Oops!

Today, before we started chowin' down on the turkey dinner, I got Sarah to lend a hand decorating the tree a bit more. There she is...Gryphon to her left, Scarlett to her right, and Sophie (my dog-sitting charge for the holidays) in front of her. Thanks for the help Newbie!

It may seem like a weird tradition - a lot of work - but it's something that is completes Christmas in my world. When I was growing up, our tree would generally go up a bit later than those that crammed the corners of our neighbors. In that same vein, ours was still proudly standing till January 5th while most people dumped a forest of icicle adorned trees before December 30th.

Now the question is 'why'...why would the Muise Tree stand in all its quirky glory until January 5th? Well, my birthday is on the 4th. My mom would always frost up a new batch of gingerbread to refill the tree before I had my party and, before everyone left, a cookie and a candy cane is the best addition to a treat bag.

You see? Home-made gingerbread cookies are very important to me.

As for the dinner itself, Sarah used her super-duper camera to take some good shots...I'll get them up as soon as I'm able - they should be really cool.

Certs List:
1. hot chocolate with eggnog
2. cranberries
3. icing sugar
4. eating
5. Christmas carols

December 22, 2009

Visitors and a second look...

Back to the blog...

Yesterday my Christmas guest arrived...yay!! No flight delays (well, about 30 minutes but for northern travel that's good), no turbulance, no measurable problems at all; I hope this is a good sign of things to come. Not only did my friend arrive, but the Xmas gifts and extra southern goodies she was 'muling' up arrived in a nice zippy rubbermaid container. Granted, by the time it got to me it was covered in blood, but it still arrived. Ah, the blood...when the handlers unloaded the plane a big slab of caribou - wrapped only once - was plopped on top.

Ok, any December/January birthdays out there? Mine hits on January 4th and, let me tell you, it's such a pain in the butt to have a 'combined' celebration. Parents out there with a winter baby, you have to know: separate the events!!! Since Siovone's birthday was just a few weeks ago, I thought it would be best to do a bit of birthday decorating for when she arrived. Banners, balloons, and hats...although there were only two of us, it was essential. The print that I bought from Smiley in Iqaluit (mentioned in a previous post) made the perfect gift. Good times.

Today started in the 6 am darkness...I had volunteered to help out with the Elders' breakfast being held at the QuickStop here in Pang. Fortunately, Siovone wanted to come, so I didn't feel like such a horrible host. We scrambled eggs, drank bad coffee, and ended up really enjoying ourselves. By the time we finished serving and buying Christmas groceries it was 11 am and, when we finally emerged, full noon twilight was near. It was then that I realized Siovone hadn't yet seen Pang...her flight arrived at night and it was just black in the morning. She stopped and, at first, I didn't realize she wasn't with me anymore. When I heard her shocked reaction behind me and realized why she was no longer with me, I felt so could I forget how beautiful it is here? It's gorgeous, and I had forgotten how lucky I am to live in such a place. Everytime I take a picture I wish that I had a better camera, all the while knowing that no man-made device could capture the feeling. The beauty. Wow...I think we should all, periodically, try to look at our lives through someone else's eyes; it really makes you appreciate everything that you have the fortune to encounter.

Anyway, after dropping off the groceries at my place it was a great time to head out 'sight-seeing'. After all, we don't get a whole lot of light. Being with a friend gave me the excuse to roam around and take more pictures.

These pics are of me on the ice. Well, the crushed ice on the shore of the fjord. Like I've mentioned in previous posts, the tides are crazy. Huge! What happens with the ice formation is that, as it starts to develop, the top crust stays close to the shore while the underbelly continues to move with the swell of the regular lunar schedule. As the tide moves in, the force of the water pushes the previously formed ice chunks upwards...constant movement. If you stand still and stay quiet, you can hear it crack, yet it's supposed to be safe. I don't know about that last part, but I'm ok with hanging around the makes for great pics...

After this, I decided to try taking my snowmobile up the side of the mountain behind the hamlet. Well, it's the first time I attempted that, and I don't think I'll be trying it again without someone showing me the way...we got stuck halfway up when, all of a sudden, the path turned into a jumbled pile of boulders - where the other machines went is a mystery...the tracks just stopped. Basically this meant that I was trying to do a three-point turn on the side of quite a steep mountain in the midst of chunks of rock and more weight than I'm used to. At least I got a pic with a different view of the town! This one shows the back end of my housing unit...

So, that's been my day so far...the sun has disappeared and won't say hello again for another 18 hours. I'm sure, though, that the rest of the holidays will be filled with some awesome memories...I'm already clearing out some mind-space. Oh, who am I kidding? There's always extra space there!


Certs List:

1. toast and peanut butter
2. reverse on a snowmobile
3. digital cameras
4. the tide
5. asparagus with cheese

December 20, 2009

Christmas blogs...

With only a few more 'sleeps' till Christmas, the reality of the season is starting to set in. It's been so warm here recently that it's difficult to believe it's mid-December; mid-December in the north! Today it was +2. Actually, if you cruise around any of the northern blogs you'll read about this crazy weather. It's weather I certainly didn't expect when I signed my contract, that's for sure! Nor is it something I expected when I bought my snowmobile. Hmmm...

Another thing to note about the northern blogs would be the travel plans outlined. People are heading south to see their families or to lay on a beach somewhere and, although I sometimes float through a little jealous streak, I'm happy to be staying here in Pangnirtung for the holidays...I know that not many southerners get the chance to experience it. There'll be bunches of things to keep me - and my Christmas guest- occupied.

Yes, I have someone else coming up to visit me for a week. For those of you who follow my blog, you might remember that I had a friend visit from Seoul about two months ago. This time it'll be one of my best and supportive friends visiting from Ottawa. I'm sooo lucky to have people shell out the $$ to jump on a First Air flight without a second thought (ok, probably a second thought, but not a fourth or a fifth). Siovone arrives tomorrow...can't wait!

This year my Christmas cuisine will consist of my own personal grilled cheese sandwich tradition, the full-on turkey dinner, and, for the half vegetarians in the house, arctic char with a nice cranberry chutney. For me, so much of the holiday season is based on tastes and smells, certain meals definitely make me feel closer to home. Damn the price of turkey! I'll be getting one anyway...

Certs List:

1. the word 'behoove'
2. the smell of peeling oranges
3. lysol wipes
4. digital cameras
5. the glow of a room lit only by white Christmas lights

Holiday pups...

So greetings from the dogs of Christmas past...isn't Scarlett a cutie?

 What is it about the holidays that makes dog owners do strange and unusual things to their pets? Strange games of dress-up and, if the wee thing is small enough to fit into a stocking, you can be confident that he/she will be modeling. Although I am guilty of Halloween costumes, I refuse to cross the line into daily little skirts and day hats; my pups only have their coats and sweaters to keep them warm.
My mom in 2007 - wearing the ever-fashionable Santa hat - taking Scarlett for a quick zip out...

In the general vicinity of my house here in Pang, there are 3 mini dogs - a puggle, a lhasa apso, and a yorkie mix - all of which go outside. I decided to give the chihuahua and the chiweenie a try since it's been so warm recently. Unfortunately, though it's been warm, it's also been windy; the poor little things could barely stand on four legs let alone walk!



I suppose that's it for now; I've just been a but preoccupied with my dogs recently. Notice the absence of Keisha? Still working on that one. She broke another collar today, and I'm afraid the bylaw officer is going to scoop her up if I don't realize she's running free. Ah, the wonder of owning dogs in the north.


Certs List:

1. Cheap carvings
2. Revello bars
3. Criminal Minds (the show)
4. The colour red
5. Gingerbread

December 17, 2009


This picture is a little micro-view of what my apartment looked like this morning. After the baby-gate broke and gave to dog free run of the house, all hell broke loose. This morning I just wanted to scream. Then cry. Then scream again. Grrr...

When I was in Iqaluit last weekend I bought a fantastic pair of traditional mittens lined and trimmed in snow-white rabbit fur. I figured they would make an awesome birthday gift. After the dog debacle, this is how they look:

...another chunk of change wasted...

So, I'm sitting here watching 'Survivor Samoa' - anyone else following? Usually I'm on the 'Grey's Anatomy' channel, but it's really not that interesting anymore.

Back to Samoa...

Russell is driving me crazy!! And Shambo too! And, of course, they win the challenge and head to the village for real food and a blanket. In true survivor fashion.

Keisha got another bath today and I wish I could've gotten a picture of her matted and soaped up fur under the tap. If someone else were there to take my picture you'd see me sitting in the tub in my yoga pants, completely soaked.

Then, of course, Keisha fully discovered the tree. Of course she had sniffed at it before, but I think the prickliness mixed with wet fur was just too tempting to resist. I need to completely guard the holiday treats a bit more diligently now.

Oh, and the basic tree? Here it is...

I don't have anything to put on top! And, for some reason, you can't really see all the decorations in this picture...I think I need to work on getting a bit more.

Happy holiday countdown!

Certs List:

1. dog shampoo
2. canned peaches
3. Judge Joe Brown
4. the smell of freshly cut grass (can't wait till summer!)
5. the smell of theater popcorn

Ulcers, vacations, and Christmas posts...

Uh...I feel nasty. For those of you who know me from my university days, you must remember how I occasionally got rip-roaring ulcer sick...mostly triggered by stress. Although a lot has happened recently, I haven't consciously felt stressed; I guess my gut was just storing it up. Mom! Help me out with that long-distance reiki! I've been swigging pepto, but there's only so much that thick pink syrup will do. OMG, that's just so unnatural!

Anyway, my Christmas has begun. I get to work from home for the rest of my time...yay! I suppose if you refer to one of my previous posts you'll be able to read about how difficult I find that whole idea, but it's a talent I'd definitely like to hone. Ah, such freedom. I just need to get my butt on my computer and start tip tappin' away - well, that and start clipping up stuff to decorate my class in January. New semester, new environment, new attitude.

So...SIOVONE!! Can't wait to see you on Monday...super excited. Just to let you know, though, that I ended up volunteering for the Elders' breakfast on Tuesday morning. Other than decorating my place, it's my first real official Christmas activity. Kinda cool. I get to warm up my snowmobile and scoot over to the local Northern...sweet.

Ok, I guess it's true about Christmas posts...they should be relegated to pictures. Writing inevitably crosses over into rambling and everyone's minds are a jumbled mess around this time of year. Never fun. Talk to you soon... any of you have a really gassy husky? Every time Keisha runs up the stairs a big juicy one squeezes out. Nasty.

Certs List:
1. a snowmobile's electric start
2. air fresheners
3. fried chicken
4. Christmas trees
5. feta cheese

December 14, 2009

Visits, victuals, sprees, and trees...

What a great trip to's funny what a change of scenery can do. For sure, I'm glad I'm back in Pang and enjoying another day off, but a shopping trip to the 'city' along with a fantastic celebration split between several locations was just what the doctor ordered. Starting from that first wing on Friday evening to finally collapsing into bed on Saturday night (ok, Sunday morning), I quite enjoyed my time.

I mentioned 'shopping trip'; yes, NorthMart and the basic local sellers definitely bled my bank account. There is something that I have told myself though...with no kids to support and my only responsibility being myself, I would like to buy a few things to match my pictures and memories. I bought a unique walrus with caribou tusks holding one of the traditional drums, black leather mitts with rabbit fur (so much warmer on the snowmobile), and a beautiful print from Smiley. Now, anyone who has spent any time in an Iqaluit hotel or wandered around the airport knows who Smiley is; I have no idea how he maintains such spirit, but I just want to believe the best of people and not assume it's drug induced. No Iqaluit visit is complete without Smiley.

So, on to the birthday night. Headgear - always essential - definitely adorned the heads of the coolest of us. How do we look?

Oh, and dinner at the Frobisher? Well, the ribs are certainly a monetary steal but finishing that plate is like completely consuming a small animal. I finished merely half a creature. Yum...

And, of course, no more birthday pics. I really do believe that Iqaluit is like the Vegas of the north when it comes to the other hamlets...what happens there, stays there.

When I finally made it back to my house, I was totally psyched to start putting together my new tree. Though it was still overpriced, it was cheaper to ship it back from Iqaluit than to try to get one here. This is how it remained after about 3 hours... you see, I'm from Nova Scotia and where do the best Christmas trees come from? Yes, Nova Scotia. In the past, my habit was to point to a tree then have someone cut it down or, at the very least, buy a relatively fresh one on a city streetcorner. My family has never sauntered in the artificial zone but up here, close to the Arctic Circle, it's the best I can do. When it's actually put together I'll post another pic.

That's about it. Oh no...actually it's not; I was 'blogged' for the first time at the Legion! Although I know some people don't like it, I thought it was awesome - it's nice to know that people read!

Certs List:

1. Hot coffee in a Christmas mug
2. Cesar Milan's new magazine
3. A dog which is slowly becoming house trained
4. The smell of pine needles
5. Wrapped gifts shipped from the west coast

December 12, 2009

Lovin' the southern amenities...

Well, it's Newbie's birthday tomorrow, so I took some well-deserved time off work and flew my Pang-Bound butt to Iqaluit yesterday along with a checklist of things to get done...after all, the next time I get a chance to travel will be in February.


1. pick up some extra textbooks at the college
2. go to an actual, real bank to deposit a cheque that was issued in October
3. try to contact Jordan and Steph
4. eat a 'greasy spoon' breakfast
5. buy a cheesy Christmas tree at Northmart/Arctic Ventures (nope, can't get the real thing)
6. buy some cheaper cleaning supplies
7. check out a few things for Xmas gifts
8. get my hair cut
9. watch a movie
10. drink a glass of wine at the Frobisher
11. have a nice plate of wings and a cold beer
12. hmm...I'm sure there's more to do, but time is of the essence...

When I arrived, I decided to start with #2 - the Nova is, after all, right next to the Royal. Then I headed up the hill to get my books...good to get that done. Now, when I got back to the hotel, Newbie was still at work and I was itching for #11. The Kickin' Caribou (pub at the hotel) it was. Amazing. And, as luck would have it, I ran into Jordan when I was there! There you go, I can mark off #3. Thanks for the beer Jordan!

Today started with a nice #4 at the Navigator and, despite the fact that it cost about $20 for eggs, toast, bacon, homefries, oj, and a coffee, I was as happy as a pig in s**t! I know, I know, $20 is much cheaper than other places in the north, but it's not even an option in Pang.

Heading to Northmart soon to get through #5-7, then #8 (a nice haircut) at 3pm. Newbie and a few other birthday-goers are heading to the Santa Claus parade but hanging around with kids in the cold isn't really my idea of fun...I have to say, though, the 'snowmobile parade' in Pang at the beginning of the new year sounds awesome! So, that leaves me on my own today. Tonight: classy dinner at the Frob followed by a not-so-classy night at the Legion. If you're in town, out and about, and want to see Newbie in a tiara, that's the place to be.

So, I'm off...updates should be fun.

Townie Bastard...enjoy your soiree.

Certs List:

1. crispy bacon
2. the warm weather
3. using snowmobiles as the main mode of transportation in Pang (frowned on here in Iqaluit)
4. Nova Scotian beer
5. the crazy architecture in this town

December 07, 2009

Outside the office near the Arctic Circle...

Here I am, taking a quick break from my day-to-day marking. Today I'm working from that choice a blessing or a curse? Although I can shuffle around in my pajama pants and not be tied to ridiculously strong coffee with powdered whitener, there are also numerous distractions. It seems even scrubbing the toilet is enticing when your home is your office.

So my question: How do people regularly work from home? Are they so much more talented than I? Perhaps if I furnished an office? Perhaps. What about those who are fortunate enough to make a living with only a computer and an email address...a 'writer-at-large' of sorts. Could you concentrate through the screech of the prayer bells in the middle east? What about next to a beach in Thailand peppered with fire jugglers? Next to a gondola congested canal in Venice? Under the absolute magnificence of the northern sky? There are so many other places and so many other distractions. Maybe you could do it if you actually wrote about those places, but how do you get someone to pay you for that?

Certs List:

1. My dogs.
2. Christmas lights.
3. Random bones found on the tundra (for the dogs).
4. Clean towels.
5. A forgotten bill in the pocket of an old pair of jeans.

Certs said it best...

Well, sitting here watching Happy Feet I have to laugh at the thought put into the characters. The facial expressions of these sea creatures are amazing. That scene with the killer whales cracks me up. And the following scene with the boat crashing through the melting ice is just heartbreaking. What are we doing with this world?

These days we still get light here in Pang - from about 9 until 1; I know this is a lot more than what is currently found in other hamlets, but it still seems pretty short to me. Living without full daylight is definitely an experience - one that I'm still finding difficult...note to self: start taking my vitamin D 'pick-me-ups'.

I have to say, though, that the skies are beautiful here. If they're not painted with various shades of pink and purple, then they are glistening with deep greens and blues. When the sun creeps over the pink and mauve mountains in the morning the moon is so huge it's distracting. When I wait for my snowmobile to warm up, all I can do is just stare at the sky. It looks like one great big photo-shopped landscape. A crystal moon in a pale blue sky floating over pink mountains? Unbelievable. And that's not all...the 'night' skies with ribbons of green and blue electrically charged particles are Lights you have to see to believe.

Actually, today I started wondering a bit more about the sky (after going out with the dog in the 3 o'clock darkness)...what would it be like to grow up here and to never leave? What would it be like to have no basis for comparison to gauge how beautiful it is here? When I watch the tv here, I remember what it is like to wear a tanktop with jeans and heels - I remember what it's like to spend time reading in a coffee shop and going out for drinks with friends. When I watch tv it has an element of reality (as far as Hollywood reality goes). I know what smog looks, smells, and tastes like. Up here you see the ultimate effects of that southern lifestyle. Hmm...

Now, to finish off, I've decided to put two things together - kinda like that old Certs commercial...whether it's a breath mint or candy, it doesn't matter. It's a good find overall. Some northern blogs end each post with a 5 point list of songs listened to while others occasionally list 'things to be thankful for'. Why not put them together? The perfect marriage.

Without any further ado...

Certs List:

1. My view of the colour splashed sky over the local airstrip.
2. Buttery Eggos.
3. Mushroom soup.
4. 'Snow tears' (yes, I know it's a strange thing in a 'thankful' list).
5. Warm feet.

December 01, 2009

I must have a hot ass...

Sorry, I couldn't resist the's the funniest thing as well as something I've never really noticed on anyone else's snowmobile. I suppose investing in a cover would help me avoid this whole thing; after all, it's caused by  the sheen of furry crystals which I find coating the machine every morning when I head out.

Anyway, every time I go out to warm up in the morning/after work/whatever, I notice the ice crystal patterns. My butt. Always. Of course you notice that when you get off the machine, but to see it frozen in there, out in the open, makes me laugh. Always.

Yes, I must have a hot ass...

November 30, 2009

Ahh, to be a dog...

Ah, to be a dog...I wish I could fall asleep whenever I wanted. Actually, I suppose I do - in fact, I'm pretty notorious for my near-alien ability to sleep in any situation. This, while useful when you have a 7 hour stop-over in a Tokyo airport, isn't such a great thing when you have to study / do work all night. Boo.

For all you snowmobile drivers out there: how long did it take you to get the hang of starting it? Come on now, I know there are a bunch of lurkers out there - reading without commenting; if you're a lurker with a snow-sport background, HELP ME OUT! I still can't figure out how to consistently start the beast. I think I'm super paranoid about flooding it now. And short stops vs long stops? Temperature has been pretty constant between -20 and -30. Gas line antifreeze...check. Throttle or choke? Which is your preference? Though I grew up in a small town with lots of snow, I basically focussed on learning how to drive on black ice in a blizzaed with zero visibility NOT on the intricacies of off-road vehicles. Not only that...I've basically spent all of my adult life in cities which most Canadians would consider huge (Seoul, Hong Kong, New York, etc.). Public transportation people!

Anyway...lurkers, now's your time to make yourself known - even a little shout out would make me feel happy. As I always tell my students: yooo can dooo eeet!

Talk to you all soon, ya?

Oh, and the Alouettes rock!

November 29, 2009

'Dog Whispering' up near the Arctic Circle...

Ok, lesson for the day? Don't watch a Dog Whisperer marathon with 3 dogs sitting in the same room. Dogs have their own type of communication which any owner can identify in the noises they make (though they may not be able to accurately translate)...hearing those different types of howls, yelps, whines, and yips are not masked by the fact that they're coming out of a little box. Interesting.

As for me...I figure I have an ok hold on things, but Keisha's getting stronger; she needs a clear leader. And huskies are easily distracted. Fortunately, she's part of a pack both inside and outside the house. There's another big dog in the neighborhood who I've been working with...he is a big white monstrosity which looks quite similar to a wolf in stature - although he wears a collar, I never see him out with any type of owner. Since he is so intimidating-looking, the first few times I saw him I made sure that I gave a good bark and a constant growl whenever he came around. Go figure, all of a sudden he's part of the pack and doesn't leave my side when I'm out with Keisha. As it stands, I can let my little one off her leash to play and slide around on the ice, confident that both will return when I call. Cool, ya?

The pack inside the house? Gryphon and Scarlett - the chihuahua and chiweenie - still rank higher in the dog world, but the raw strength of the husky is going to change things around. Keisha is submissive by nature but when she rolls over to show this she can actually squish them!


These days we have about 4-5 hours of light and, by 'light', I mean a twilight-type state. I think it would be brighter if we weren't surrounded by mountains, but without them Pang just wouldn't be Pang. I have to say, I'm slowly getting used to the shorter days. For a night owl like me, I just had to start looking at it in a different way. When it's dark, you think it's late; I'm accustomed to doing work when it's late, so I get more done. Unfortunately, there will be an inverse effect when the spring hits. Boo.

Another northern thing? My Arctic Cat. The snowmobile is still tempermental, but I'm having a bit more luck with it. The thing is, I can't trust it. I can't trust that it's going to take me to work tomorrow, nor can I trust that it'll take me home. I'm glad Pang is small...I would hate having to walk an hour just to get home (it's about 30-40 minutes from tip-to-tip).

Well, time to put together something to eat; although it feels like it will be a midnight snack, it'll only be a late lunch. I love how that works!

November 24, 2009

Ma sweet ride...

Check out my sweet ride! One of my students took this picture around 2 pm the afternoon. Dark already and ready to roll.

Here's my problem: I refuse to be that person who rides a vehicle and has no idea what he/she should do at the first sign of trouble...regular things like spark plugs and fanbelts. I need to learn about it all. In the south it would be easy enough to sign up for some sort of class - Snowmobiles 101. Here, though, I'm trapped in an area where everyone seems to pop out of that northern womb ready to jump on a skidoo, throw a rifle over their shoulder, and head out on the land...and no, it's not Sarah Palin land. I'm still having problems starting the monster. Get this: I was able to get the thing going easily enough after work, let it warm up for a bit (about 5-10 minutes), then headed down to the Co-op to pay for a tank of gas. I was in there about 15 minutes and, when I came out, I couldn't start the thing again. There I was - a flashy machine and no idea how to use it. Ahh!!

You know what's even more frustrating? The fact that it's dark so much I can't really get out there and check out the innards. I think I'm flooding the engine. Yesterday one of my students took about an hour to dry out the plugs and the inside. And BTW, I really have no what I'm talking about.

I need to find the tamped down snow tracks during daylight hours; right now I'm ripping up something by sticking to the main roads.

I guess I'll finish up...time to take Keisha out for a walk. Can you believe that she doesn't really like going out? What kind of husky is that? She's fine out there - even the insides of her ears are covered in fur!

Bon nuit all...

...oh, and to my brother ensconced in the U of T world of PhD nastiness...yes, your sister is badass!

November 23, 2009

Keisha and the Cat...

So, this is Keisha, my first truee northern acquisition. Actually, speaking of something which is living in terms of  'acquiring' is a bit heartless. Basically, this is my new dog - one which is uniquely equipped to deal with the north.

Me on the other hand? How prepped am I for the north? I have the coat, the wind pants, the mitts/scarf/toque, and - I like to believe - a bit of the right mind-set. All that was left to complete the package was this...

This is the new machine. I wish I could get together a better picture, but those will come. I'm having problems with the starting system...and not just because it's a big piece of machinery; actually, one of the problems was that I had too much power in my pull! How is that even possible?

When you see this Cat in real life, you can see the dark windshield, a leather double seat, and an altogether sleeker just looks better. Right now dusk starts around 1pm and is fully dark by about 2:30. I'll try to get some pics of me on it sometime at lunch!

'Aloha' to all those northerners starting on their southern vacations!

November 22, 2009

Sometimes they're called 'Arctic Crap'...

Both the electric start and pull cord broken. Ask me how impressed I am with my day-old snowmobile.

November 21, 2009

Still waiting...

Grrr...I'm so impatient! Not an attractive trait, I know.

Last night I didn't get a chance to pick up my snowmobile, so a friend agreed to take me over this morning. Well, 'this morning' changed to 'this afternoon' and when I got there, the new manager had no idea what I was talking about. There was no Cat assembled out back and no record anywhere that one was to be put together. It wasn't his fault really - the Co-op has been having personel problems in the past two weeks and he had just arrived two nights before - but I was still super frustrated.

Anyway, I just got a call that it would be ready tonight by about 7:30. We'll see. I suppose tomorrow is when I'll figure the whole thing out...the Co-op is throwing in a full tank of gas for my troubles.


Pics tomorrow!

November 19, 2009

My Kitty Cat's ready...

I'm sooo psyched! I went to the Co-op today to check in on my snowmobile and they were just finishing up with the final touches (it's being souped up with the accessories like the hitch, sled, etc.). I get to pick it up tomorrow...I can't wait!!

Actually, looking back over the past three months, I can see a lot of things that have changed  - some of which I dare not mention here. Let's just sum it up in northern terms...I no longer blink when I have to pay $40 for a bag of flour, sporadic water service doesn't phase me, walking around in heavy Baffin boots is an acceptable work-out, -30' weather does not seem so cold...the list goes on. Now that I have a big 'ol dog and a snowmobile, I feel like my metamorphosis is almost complete.

There are still a lot of things left to do - more adventures to have - and I feel lucky to be given that opportunity. I'm really looking forward to Christmas...unlike a lot of other people, I will be staying in Pang for the holidays. My students seem to be a bit surprised, but I think it's going to be great. Can't wait for my friend to get here!

Another 'can't wait'? follow this post up with some cruisin' pics. Yay!

November 18, 2009

Angst, an apple, and puppy love...

Wow...I haven't quite been able to explain how things have been running in Pang recently. Everything is so new, yet so familiar; does anyone know what I mean?

Working overseas was similar in certain ways, but those experiences  were tempered, somehow, by the fact that I wasn't surrounded by anything I understand...everything seems so much more exotic when the language is different. Here, in the Baffin region of Nunavut, Inuktitut is more common than in the western part of the territory, but it's also true to say that it's rare to find someone who doesn't speak English. As someone who has studied sociolinguistics, I can say with complete certainty that any language is subject to regional/cultural influences which would directly affect communication; after all, language and communication are not synonymous.

Just over thirty years ago, my first words were in English, yet when I'm in Pang, sometimes I just feel like I don't understand anything. It's a weird feeling...something like an arm that has gone to sleep: you can see it, it's still there - you can even feel it with your other arm - but it doesn't register in some fundamental way.

That's rather convoluted, I know, but it's just something that's been pinging around in my tired mind recently.

New Subject...

When I got back to class yesterday afternoon, I found a little baggie of seal...a few ribs. One of my students had some extra, so she decided to 'gift it'. That got me to the last three months (yesterday was the official anniversary) I have had various gastronomical delights plopped on my desk: a whole seal, blackberries, seal eyeballs, seal flippers, muktuk, cookies, cheesecake, candy...bunches of stuff. However, in all of these 'teacher gifts', I had not received the traditional  apple. Of course, as a result of this realization, today one of the students brought in a nice, shiny apple to decorate my desk. Saa-weet! Right now I have the afternoon off and I'm enjoying the wonderful world of fresh fruit.

Another Subject...

Keisha is adjusting well to her new living situation, as are Scarlett and Gryphon. Don't get me wrong - Scarlett is still a bit unimpressed - but there seems to be a bit more harmony in the house. Keisha knows she is not allowed on the furniture and Scarlett, to which this rule doesn't apply, relishes that fact. In fact, she regularly takes the opportunity to tease the bigger dog; getting rid of that is my next task.

Gryphon, on the other hand, is entranced with her new playmate. So far Keisha has been quite gentle...she lets the little one bite her, swing off her ears, and tackle her, but it's still quite worrisome; I say this because her main behaviour (after allowing Gryphon jump on her) is to lick him clean (yes, I have to give the chihuahua regular baths now), then proceed to put his head in her mouth. Of course the little skull fits neatly between her teeth, but with just the smallest movement this could be deadly. Not only the time the play session has gotten this far, Gryphon is totally relaxed, keeps his tail wagging, and seems quite content. I have to literally watch them every second.

Is there anyone out there in the blogoshere (cheesy name, I know) who has raised a husky mix with a small dog? I'd love to hear from you :-)

November 16, 2009

Another husky houdini...that's one of the things they're known for, right?

So Keisha is only about 30 lbs right now, but she's still a puppy...a boisterous puppy. She's already got a lot of power and could do some serious damage if she put her mind to it, but at this point she doesn't really know how to interact with people - translation: she jumps, stomps, charges, mouths, and nips. Hmm. All puppy behaviour, I know, but for some reason my other two pups didn't go through that sort of phase. Yay me! I should've known that luck couldn't continue. FYI: chihuahuas are a dream to take care of and, with the right owner, are never aggressive or yappy.

Anyway, the husky. Last night I put her in the back's the standard 'cold room' that all the government units have instead of providing sheds. It had a few blankets for her to sleep on, some water (she had already been fed and walked), a chew-toy, and the light left on. I made this decision because the previous night I woke up with the whole three of them rolling around in a ball. Of course the characteristic husky yodel started up as soon as I closed the door, but I knew I had to be firm. Without her locked away I couldn't put down the food for the little dogs.

Getting into bed, I prepared for a relatively sleepless night, grateful for the fact that my unit isn't close enough to the neighbors' bedrooms to bother them. Yowling, scratching, banging, pounding followed. Next thing? A nasty, stinky, dog-breath kiss. Yup, she had actually opened the door using the pull knob and, because I hadn't closed the deadbolt, it swung open. Can you believe that? Clever little pooch.

Gotta say awesome as she is, I'm still testing out whether she will meld well with the other dogs. Today I got a longer cable for her so I can leave her outside more (I think she finds it too hot inside) which will make it easier to pay just as much attention to the wee ones. She is so big, Scarlett and Gryphon have stopped their play sessions and just try, instead, to stay out of Keisha's way.

So...some big time obedience training sessions are essential in the near future; she's completely wild. Fortunately, it only took her about a day to get used to the leash (although I know she doesn't like it). Here's hoping!

November 15, 2009


I've decided to call my new pup 'Keisha'; I have no idea why, but it just sounds right. Unfortunately, up to this point she's only been referred to as 'girl' or 'puppy''s going to take a bit of time for her to actually recognize her name.

Huskies are so funny when they get outside to play. Keisha likes to walk I suppose, but she much prefers running in the back field and rolling in the snow. Watching her dig and bury her nose is's like someone sniffing clean laundry. Actually, I think the rolling is helping out with the whole fishy scent that was lingering around her since the time she arrived. Another thing I noticed? Husky fur doesn't really stay doesn't even seem to get wet! It's just a pillow of protection for these creatures. Kinda funny.

This is my new pup...isn't she beautiful?! Right now she's four months (a bit old, I know), but she's already a monster.

A monster with no name. Any ideas? I'll just put the thought out there.

After school yesterday I made it back home with my dog supplies purchased from the Northern...$158 worth. All crappy stuff really, but stuff I need. Fortunately, the guy who gave her to me also pitched in a huge bag of dog food. For those of you up around the Arctic Circle, you know how much that stuff is worth if you don't have it sealifted in. Maybe next year!

Ok, a four-month-old puppy who has run free outside all her life is not going to adapt very quickly to a collar let alone a collar and lead...this is a given. It took so long just to get the thing around her neck! She is very good - not aggressive at all - bit still rather timid. After a go around the house a few times with the lead (and her just walking around dragging the leash), I was set to take her all calculations, she was good to go. Nope. I was out for about an hour that first time waiting, without luck, for her to do her business. She was quick to go once we returned to the wamth, though. Grrr...

As you can see in the pics, this dog is in serious need of a bath and a brush - two things that I'm definitely not going to try until we have a better rapport. She'll be beautiful when she's cleaned up.

She, she...she still needs a name.

Today was a bit better; I'm still cleaning up a lot of indoor crap, but at least I was able to get out for a few walks! How many of you northern bloggers out there have adopted a dog and know what I'm going through? I will be happy when the whole thing is passed.

As for the 'dog mixing'...Scarlett is a bit territorial, but it's getting better. Gryphon, on the other hand, is ecstatic to have a new playmate to dominate. I'm being super-careful with them - the little one could get hurt quite easily - but with some practise I think things can work out. The crap of it? The fact that I have to lock up the two wee ones to work on any obedience training for the puppy. I suppose that'll be when they get to eat...I can't leave their food bowl on the floor anymore.

The snowmobile? I've got a line on an Arctic Cat 570. Unfortunately, since I'm buying it at the local Co-op, I need to be a member first. You become a member if the board approves you. The board may not meet for a few weeks at a time. So, ya, still walking for me. Crappy.

Well, I guess I should head to bed...another night with two dogs on the bed and one on the floor!