September 30, 2009

Family, flippers, and missing mojo...

I received such a wonderful compliment of my students said to me, "I usually don't like to eat in front of a qallunaaq because I get embarrassed, but I'm not when you're around." There was a group of us gathered around a table with a pot of boiled seal flippers in the middle. In the morning they had been fresh and wrapped up in a generic plastic bag from the Northern laid out like and apple on the teacher's desk. After hours of simmering, they were finally ready...and, I must say, quite pungent.

I was a bit reticent about trying the flipper because, with the fur, it kind of looked like pieces of Gryphon. However, I put that thought out of my mind and started to concentrate more on the nails and bone structure. As you can see in the pictures, it looks like I'm being really, it was more like I was trying not to damage the end of the bones with my teeth (more on this later).

Anyway, I know the first question for those of you down south is 'What did it taste like?' I wasn't sure what to expect, but as soon as I tried it I knew there was something familiar about it - just like there was something familiar about the smell (it reminded me of parts of Nova Scotia when the tide is out leaving the seaweed and drying jellyfish on the rocks). It took me awhile to pin-point what it was, but I think I've got it now. Garlic spare ribs...without the garlic. You know how you have your big plate of Chinese food and you're oh-so-happy about the fact you have extra ribs? Then you look closer and realize how you've been 'meat deprived'? That little wrapping of fat and meat flavouring encircling the bone is what seal flipper tastes like.

Hee one of those pictures it looks like I'm smelling it to make sure it hasn't gone bad. Actually, what I was doing was trying to clean a few of the bones; I was able to strip the dog and one of the daughters. What does that mean? Well, in the seal flippers you find, obviously, a standard number of bones. Think of them like finger joints. Each has a different size and shape. Traditionally these bones were saved to make a little family with a qamutik and a dog team. The dogs are made from the slivers of bone that shoot down the hollow claw/nail, and the daughters are made from the second smallest joint (the smallest is, of course, the baby). I was trying to be careful to make sure I didn't bite off the 'head' in one of those pictures.

One thing occurred to me during this was somewhat like sitting around making a puzzle or playing cards. It was not presented in the way that some food has been presented to me in the past. Chicken feet, dog (kaegogi), fish eyes, insects...they were all offered as a type of test to see what the 'foreigner' would do. Would I blanche at the thought? Vomit? Talk about how disgusting it is? The answer was always 'no'. Perhaps the presentation of the eyeball I had last week had a little element of that...

...but no. Not today. Today's seal flipper was just a gathering. I wasn't being analyzed or laughed at nor made to feel it was 'go time' if I wanted to make an impression. People were doing their own thing and I was invited to partake. That made me happy. I did take a few pictures but, somehow, I felt that taking too many was just a voyeuristic behaviour. Taking pictures of me doing something that is so far out of my element so I can flash them around to friends and family in the south is like trying to make people uncomfortable using another culture's customs. It's not right. So yes, I did take pictures and no, I won't post more than these two of me. The pictures of me with the group are special only to me and, if someone doesn't like eating in front of most qallunaaqs, there's a reason for that...the same reason which makes it unfair for me to ever post them.

It seems that in the past week I've been banking the faux-pas (what is the plural of that word?). Either that or people just feel more comfortable telling me. Right now I question everything I do wondering if it's insensitive or rude. Today I chuckled when someone said her mom used to make Inuit dolls for her when she was a child then pointedly saying, 'We didn't have Barbies to play with.' The reason I laughed was not because I thought that was funny but because I wasn't allowed Barbies either..."promotes unrealistic body type". That amusement, naturally, was misunderstood. Another incident yesterday about Literacy Week here in Nunavut. I won't get into it...there has just been a lot of it recently; I'm usually more successful at maneuvering these things. Lost my mojo.

Well, I guess that's it from Pang tonight. Rest well my fellow bloggers...

September 28, 2009

Vomit, toilet cleaners and, oh, Merry Christmas!

So Gryphon get sick today. Nothing too bad I the past he cost me close to $1000 in a week and a half (guess who has pet insurance now)...but today it was a pain-in-the-butt nonetheless. The reason he got sick and threw up three times was because he was flying through his food, drinking bunches of water, then running laps of the house. Every time he passed his food/water dish, he'd fill up some more. I finally got everything under control and scooped, scraped, scrubbed, and sanitized each area. Pitiful creature. Now he's just curled up here drifting in and out of consciousness; I gotta say, the life of a dog does have some attractions (the lounging, not the vomiting).

Start the I got my very first package up here...duh da da duh (imagine that noise and confetti flakes at the end of every spider solitaire game). It was very exciting...a toilet brush (following in Newbie's  footsteps), a Brita filter system (write something about expenses and - ta da! even an undercurrent of a request results in a gift), and a little baggie of something that really looked like pot. Weed. Dope. Marijuana. Thanks nanny!

...actually, it was the dill that I had asked for awhile back sans the bottle...

Right now I am happily waiting to drink some filtered water while I scrub the toilet. Multi-tasking.

And the biggest news of the day? My bestest of best friend - yes, the one I mentioned in my very first blog entry - is 90% sure that she's flying from Ottawa to Pangnirtung to hang out for Christmas! I'm sooo'll be fantastic to have a visitor. I hope Pang gives as great a first impression in December as it did in August. Yay!

Well, back to work...the water's almost ready...

September 27, 2009

Furry authenticators...

Ah-ha! I have two expert authenticators here in the north...though inconvenient at times, on days like today they come in handy.

Let me explain:

I finally broke. You've seen it in my other posts. I've started to buy knick-knacks here and there. I generally don't like to amass too much because it's just another thing to store if there's no place for it the next time I move. I can justify the $179 I spent on a vacuum...I live in a carpeted house. But carvings? Jewelry, in my eyes, is's easy to take anywhere. If it looks's perfect. It's something that carries a memory.

Pang residents generally get visitors trying to sell caribou antler carvings, wall hangings, or tiny little replicas of traditional clothing (the 'furry dice' equivalent). Anyway, a guy just came to my door - a guy I'm sure anyone in Pang would know. He shows up quite regularly, but I never buy anything. Most of the stuff is 'run-of-the-mill' or too rich for my blood. Today he was offering a great carving for a reasonable - even cheap - price. With my newly found cash I received proctoring a test I thought, "Why not?"

Looking closely, I could see that the colouring seemed off. As a southerner, I think 'caribou antler' and I immediately match it to the ivory/cream section of the artist's palette. Lesson to me. It's not. Sure, most of it is, but there are always shades and layers of colour. I thought this one looked a bit too green, but the details were so fine I decided I didn't really care what it was made of...a few Arctic char, a beluga, a narwhale, a seal, a qamutik, and a fantastic portrait of an Inuk hunter... It's beautiful. I won't mention what it actually is because I haven't decided if it will be a gift or something that will adorn part of my rapidly disappearing shelf-space.

Well, I had made my decision and, as I placed it on my chair to count out the correct amount of money, the dogs swarmed in. Now, I'm sure there's a difference between a thigh bone and an antler, but the dogs seem to like these horns just as much. It's real - green shades'n'all.

Like I said...two real, live, furry, and cute authenticators of my very own!

September 25, 2009

Peepholes and snowflakes...

Another week gone by, another weekend to enjoy. If that's the way it goes.

I just read a post by Artic-ulate hanging out there in Iqaluit, and she mentions meeting 'Ms. Bastard'. What she says is true: though all of us (bloggers) try not to give out too much personal information - the small communities of the north can't handle it - we all end up sharing little pieces of ourself. Not a profound thought, but one that crosses my mind everytime I visit this site. I wonder what kind of construct has been created to explain the group of us here in Pang.

Just over a week ago, my neighbor and I had a discussion about the fact that I am the only one who doesn't have a peep-hole already installed. She offered to bring me one back when she returned from a wedding down south. Yesterday she came over and gave me this...

Now, I'm not bilingual by any means but for some reason, when I looked at this I knew porte meant door. I also thought it was the weirdest thing that it said Judas Porte. I figured it was the new name; something used to figure out who you should trust. Not so far from it, I suppose.


Throughout the week, Pang has been on the edge of snow; there've been a few flakes here and there, but nothing substantial. Nothing that lasted for more than 10 minutes (if that). That's not quite the truth of it today. It snowed and fact I think it's still going on out there...nothing too heavy, just constant. The stream that pours down the mountian has iced up around the corners, and it looks like we're moving into the next season.

My mountains have see Duval peeking out from behind and the rear side of my building, but that's about it; I like the snowflakes my camera picked up. And hey, the next picture shows the hill which almost had me on my butt walking home from school. Who knew ice could form on gravel already? There must've been something underneath to make it so slippery.

So many times throughout the day I find myself taking mental notes of things...'hey, I should write about that on my blog', but I always seem to go blank when I my fingers hit the keyboard. Go figure.

The season premiere of Dollhouse is on right now. Very cool. I'm distracted.

September 23, 2009

Bone carvings and dog chews...

Tuesday morning, 5:03 am…

It’s strange – last week I slept in on Friday, yet today I woke up at 4:30/5:00. I’m too scared to go back just in case I sleep through my alarm again. I’ve always struggled with making sure my sleep cycle is not too crazy; perhaps not the best type of person to experience the light variations of the north. Of all the things here, I think that will be one of the most difficult.

Last night was the season premiere of House…it was rather, hmm, generic. Next week he’ll make it back to the hospital, so I’m hoping things will improve. I think I’m going to buy a tv. And I think I’m going to have to learn some discipline so I’m not watching crappy shows (a la Judge Joe Brown) all the time.

So…my wonderful brunch I had planned for Sunday ended up being cancelled. No water. From Saturday – Sunday afternoon. I’m not really sure how often this will happen, but I was really disappointed. Now I have bunches of food in my fridge but no real plans for it…that stuff is far too expensive up here to let it go to waste.

Up here, my main media outlet is CBC North (unless I hook up to the internet). Throughout the night it flicks from country to country to fill in time…I spend most nights listening to Radio Sweden. Weird. Right now there’s some sort of program from Romania talking about Bucharest…and Vlad the Impaler. He certainly was a…unique…ruler. Paranoid. Cruel. Absolute.

…oh, and apparently in Romania cheesy dance music is more than acceptable in the morning…

My dog is actually chewing on his foot.

You know, sometimes it’s difficult to remember that I don’t live near a city. Being surrounded by mountains, you come to accept that your sight is blocked. Yesterday, coming home from a friend’s place, I thought of that again. Behind Mt. Duval there was a glow that looked the way a city would look through the midnight smog…it never really gets dark – even without 24-hour sun! You know, though, I think it was just the northern lights through some clouds on the other side of the mountain. A northern spotlight. Who needs the Eiffel Tower?

Now the radio is from Bonne, Germany. I should probably get out of bed.

Wednesday evening, 6:49 pm…

Well, I sit here, completely uninspired. Wait, that’s not true. It’s more like I don’t have words to say. I’m not such a wordsmith that I can successfully describe the devastating beauty around here. When I roll out of bed in the morning, I get a southwest view of the Cumberland Sound through my kitchen window and the glow of orangey light behind me radiating from the living room windows. Warmth. That’s the word. What’s it going to be like in the winter?

So...the Dancing Bear was the first carving I bought up here; I got it in Iqaluit when I was hanging out with a few friends at the Frobisher. It's got some great detailing on the face. Right now it hangs out on a mirror shard that the movers were kind enough to provide me with. You can't really tell from this pic, but the stone has a lot of green veins throughout.

Today I went a bit crazy. Pangnirtung is well-known for its artwork; it's got some amazing stuff at the Uqqurmiut Center. Today I walked in to pay for my qiniq modem (yes, you pay at the local art co-op) and this one caught my eye...

It's called Faces, and it just looked like the perfect piece. I was told that the trick to buying art is to just go with your gut. I don't know if I'll ever get around to buying one of those decorative ulu creations even if it is a traditional tool of the north...I don't see the beauty in them. Their beauty is in their use, not in how they hang on a wall or sit on a shelf.
...that's my take on it...
Anyway, back to my carving...

Here's a shot from the front. Well, who's to know what the 'front' is?

This is a pic of the side that mostly shows the whalebone and a tiny inukshuk.

Here's a pic from the top to show both faces...

Now, here's the thing...all I've ever really had in the line of carvings have been wood or stone. Bone is a new thing for me. It's not for the dogs. As soon as I put the thing down to take a picture, they were on it. Scarlett was especially interested in the carving while Gryphon was more interested in my caribou antler carved ring.
Hee hee...

I think I'm going to sign out for now. Not too exciting, I know. I warned you though...I am completely without words tonight.

September 19, 2009

The Goose has finally flown north for the winter...

Guess what arrived yesterday? All wrapped up in its vacuum seal and stashed in an unmarked envelope. I expected my order from Chapters (I got a confirmation from them), but it wasn't quite shaped the way one of those 'Dummy' books fill out a package.

Yay! The Goose has arrived! I was a bit worried about where it had disappeared to...I received no confirmation from that my order had even been processed and numerous attempts at getting them on the phone were unsuccessful. All is well now. Look at me in my coyote ruff collar...

I ended up getting the Kensington and, I have to say, it's awesome. The style fits me perfectly. I've seen some of the other ones and they're just too bulky for my liking.

This style, in the past, wasn't completely down-filled; it is now. Wow that stuff keeps you toasty! Actually, it took me only about 2 minutes to take all these pictures and, by the end of it, I was beginning to sweat. I am still paranoid about how it's going to hold up in the middle of the long winter chill, but the science involved promises it will work.

Things I've learned...

1. Hang the jacket upright one week and upside down the next. Alternating this way uses gravity to keep the down even.

2. Don't wear the thing inside!

3. Buy one size up. I'm not a big person and a small is my standard choice. I bought the medium and it fits perfectly (allowing for a sweater underneath).

4. Bomber styles aren't really a good choice unless you are, well, a pilot (or someone who is regularly sitting in a chair-type device).

5. Coyotes have awesome fur...soft and warm.

6. The full front shot of the fur ruff looks unnecessarily bizarre. Remember that there's actually a fleece-lined black hood there as well.

Awesome. My next quest is to find the perfect boots...

Drinking tap water and chewing ice cubes...

Although I've been here for about a month and have gotten used to the prices and internet speed, there are so many things that I'm still waiting to experience up here in the north. So many things that are unique to the colder climes of the world. In the past 24 hours there have been some interesting developments.

Last night the Northern Lights were bright and billowy that they really do deserve those capital letters. As most of you have experienced, though, the problem is capturing them in a picture. By using a camera which allows you to manually adjust the shutter and timing it's possible, but with a straight 'hey let's hang out with friends and take pictures' type of camera (which I have) it's just not gonna happen. Anyway, I'll leave the details of that excursion to a time when I get the goods pics from a friend.

Ok, here it goes...

After lunch today, one of my students asked if I was in a 'Friday' mood. I'm not really sure what that's supposed to mean, but I soon found out.

Her: "I brought something back for you," was all she said.
Me: "To eat?"
Her: "Yup."

Me: (joking) "Seal eyeballs?"
Her: "Yup."

Forget Michaelle Jean and all her raw heart adventures. There I was, my hands covered in chalk and, well, imagining picking up an eyeball.

There are a few animals in this world which are, I believe, somehow designed to be super-cute. Polar bears, pandas, seals...those sorts of things. Well, at least the babies. For the latter, I think it's something about the big, black eyes. They are big and black!

Anyway, I was honored that I was even offered, so I prepared. There's a whole process of cleaning the outside, then making a slit in the side. It's not so difficult, but it's something to get your mind around. I did.

The idea is to slit the side then suck out the insides making sure, of course, not to choke on the 'marble'. I'm pretty sure it's the lens, but for some reason I always assumed they'd be softer. These truly are clear spheres that - if the eye is as big as a seal's - is about the size of a marble.

If given the chance, I would encourage anyone to try; there really is nothing like it. One thing that is said about seal meat that I didn't expect to be true about the eye is that it warms you up and keeps you full. It's so true! Well, I don't know if that's why I felt warmer, but I definitely didn't feel hungry for hours and hours! Tonight I made myself eat something because I knew that my body needed it, not because I wanted it.
Oh my...I sure do look peaked in that picture to the left!

I know this may not have been the most entertaining read, but it was something I wanted to record on my own personal blog for future reference. I have been reading through some of my archived posts, and it's interesting to have those little momentos of a time that's past.

Again I say: drink the tap water and chew an ice cube every now and then if it's offered...

September 17, 2009

To pee on the tundra...

Today, after spending far too much time on the physical and chemical properties of matter followed by the essentials of long division, I needed a break. Again, the mountains were in blankets of shading that seemed to change in the 15 minutes that it took me to get home. Sharp and shadowed...the colours were like a painter's toolkit. The weather was also awesome. It had that crisp smell of autumn with a hint of campfire and was warm enough to carry the jacket I had zipped up.

The only thing to do after getting back from school was to give in and take the dogs out for an itty-bitty stretch. Together we climbed up the toes of Mt. Duval and hung out on the tundra checking out the hamlet. Making it any further up the ankle is just not possible with these two pups.

Jumping from rock to rock and sinking in the mossy areas, both Scarlett and Gryphon looked like they were having a ball. I felt bad about having them leashed, but who knows about the wild dogs around here? The bears haven't made it this far yet, but I was still a bit nervous.

Halfway home I met a guy exiting the back door of his apartment with some sort of yorkie mix. Dickens. Now, Dickens had no problems running around on his own, so I let my two loose; other than a few panic episodes when they got lost in the grass, it was just as if we were in the big dog park back in Ottawa. They would have been fine but for the fact that they found a spot that was seriously covered in husky pee (or something of the sort). Of couse, Gryphon had to do his whole 'manly-man' marking thing - I don't know what his piddle is supposed to achieve - but Scarlett got in his way. Before I knew it, urine was dripping past her ears and Gryphon had hopped on to the next scent. Nasty.

Both received baths when I got in. Both now smell like 'Ultra Moisturing Shea Butter' body wash. Kinda weird actually...

I've fallen in love...

...three's a trifecta...oh, crap...linguistically I guess that means I have to state which one comes first second and third.

I'm hooked...and, since it matches my surname, what a fantastic title for a band. I give you: Muse.

My current obsession is the song, Starlight. This link will send you to a great live version.

Yes, I'm in love...

September 16, 2009

Drink from the tap...

Guysborough. This is where I grew up. It's a little place in Nova Scotia just far enough off the beaten path to keep its character yet close enough to still depend heavily on the tourism industry in the summer.

After I graduated from high school, this is where I ended up...

...Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. What a great time that was! I worked at a school downtown and, for the first time, tasted something different from the small town flavour I'd been used to.

Next, my journey took me to Ottawa to formally study to be a teacher. Yay me. It was a nice, tiny city. Very clean. Very conservative (despite government tendencies).

After university finished, I ended up working here...

Beautiful....I loved Seoul; there's something comforting about the chaos that blankets everything. You learn to roll with it, do your thing, and enjoy the absolutely fantastic food.

Hong Kong followed...

Then I decided to spend some time here (Shanghai)...

...and here (Tokyo)...

Next came the bigger adventure; I moved to Manhattan and lived just two blocks south of Central Park. I could walk around and check out all the sights from tv shows/movies that I had watched over and over. Sex in the City, Law and Order, Seinfeld, Friends...
I was able to walk a few blocks and get to Times Square, watch a show on Broadway, go to a Yankees or Rangers game (which I did and regretted)...Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Greenwich Village, Central Park Zoo, the MET, NY Library, MoMA, the list goes on...

...the thing is, I didn't do any of these things. Some, yes. All of them? No.

Oh, and for those of you who might be visiting, it's rather tacky to visit the former site of the Twin Towers and take smiling pictures with you and your family. Remember that event, yes. Bill it as a tourist attraction? Absolutely not. The only reason I was that far south was because there's an amazing discount store - Century 21 - that's directly across from it. In fact, it was once featured on Sex in the City. You can buy designer couture and everyday wear in the same place. The shoe section is to die for and, right around the corner there's a great sushi place...and reasonably priced.

From New York, I moved back to Nova Scotia - Halifax, not my home-town. This picture is taken across the water from Dartmouth, Halifax's sister-city.

Next, I was back to Ottawa for about a year...

Now, like I mentioned, Ottawa is a nice city but I needed a change. Out went the resume, bouncing around the world through cyberspace. I was looking for either Qatar, United Arab Emirates, or Nunavut (not necessarily in that order).

 this is where I live now...


Pangnirtung is as big an adventure as Eastern Europe, Asia, and NYC (oh, Montreal falls in there too); there's a certain type of personality needed up here. Well, that's my take on it so far. I've already met so many jaded people because they expect it to be like the south. They expect to change it. Mold it. Into something more familiar. What's wrong with the unfamiliar? Relax a bit, that's my advice. Things are going to get lost, connections are going to fail, social expectations will have to change, everyday things will be surprises that you have to take in stride. Choose the things you need to worry about, I guess.

A lot has been pinging around the blogs recently about the whole 'mercenary, missionary, or misfit', but, after trying to figure out where I fit in, I have decided that it's best just to enjoy my time. I have learned so much about myself by travelling in the past; I know this will teach me even more. Perhaps I thought of being a mercenary about 8 years ago, but I was fortunate enough not to get a job at that time. Instead, I experienced being piss-poor in some great places. And that's fine.

And being in a community where a small Brita water filter is $60 is fine too. Be adventurous. Drink from the tap...

September 15, 2009

Questions & Quiche

So...I was talking to my dad tonight and, from linguaphile to linguaphile, he had some issues with my blog - more specifically, its title. Pangnirtung Bound was something I created when I was in the planning stages of this whole adventure. It basically focussed more on the anticipation and the absolute chaos that exists for everyone before they move.

Now, however, Pangnirtung Bound has taken on quite another connotation. I had been pondering the problem, but I didn't think anyone would've noticed it're forcing my hand here, dad! If someone new were to see it now, I'm sure he/she would think that I feel trapped here. Not true. I know there are some people who have kept their blog title the same throughout the years they spend in the north; it seems there is no shortage of 'newbie' sites which have existed for quite awhile. Should I follow suit? To do, to do...what should I do? Hmm...if anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to leave me a few ideas.

It looks like this Sunday I'll be hosting my very first Pang brunch; I think it'd be a cool thing to do at least once a month to make contact with people you might not actually work with. So, the menu? I was thinking something along the lines of a smoked salmon quiche, berry/cream cheese baked bread pudding type thing, fruit, yogurt, mom's awesome homemade granola, OJ, and some fan-tab-ulous coffee. Mmmm...sounds tasty, no? Sarah, if you're reading this, I'll be adding something else to that just to give you the whole 'surprise' factor. Boiled egg? Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies? I hear the reaction they get is amaaaazzing.

...I suppose this means I'm going to have to tackle some of the housekeeping things I've been avoiding for awhile. And get more groceries. I love to entertain though! (no anecdotal comments here please ).

Wow, I'm wiped. I suppose I should head to bed. Thankfully, I only have to teach in the morning tomorrow. The afternoon is reserved for office work. Yay! I will be able to hook up my iPod to my slammin' computer speakers and crank out the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

Patrick Swayze R.I.P.

September 14, 2009

5 gigs gone and no place to go...

Boo. No more gigs. I have no idea how I did it...ok, that's not true...damn you iTunes! When I hooked up my qiniq, I decided to go with the middle package - the one with 5 gigabytes for $120. I had no idea how much I regularly used, but I figured it was a lot. I got a lot of grief for that. "It's a waste of money. There's no way you would run out of the 2 gig package," they said. 2 gigs? Even with my limited tech ability, it didn't sound very promising to me. Something was off.

Anyway, after posting on Saturday, my computer strained a bit to load a few pages, then abruptly died. It now sits, glued, in the position of 'limited to no connectivity'. Ahh! What do you do when you find yourself computer-less? I know it sounds really sad, but I take heart in the fact that, if you're reading this, you probably have some sort of computer thing going on too. I had to content myself reading a few books...not so bad in the long run, I suppose. I have two more weeks to wait unless I decide to buy a bit more space.

...that brings me to today. Here I am, at work, typing furtively between lesson plans. I don't know why I'm doing in that way - it's after 5pm - but it just seems weird to be out of my office and in the students' lab. Yes, you read correctly. Not only is my computer done at  home, but it is currently offline in my office. Now I just have this huge chunk of hardware taking up the space on my desk...a desk designed for a right-hander. As a left-hander, it always pisses me off that the whole monitor and keyboard take up the position where my writing hand should be placed. I end up twisting around to write a note and, well, it just sucks.

I suppose I should head back to my lesson plans...I would like to be home before 7 or 8. I hope you are all well out there in blogger land; I'll see you when I get back...

September 12, 2009

Boring musings of a tired mind...

Yesterday I got groceries...lots of groceries. Four bags of chocolate chips and ten cans of soup-type groceries. Flour groceries. Heavy groceries. Why? A few reasons actually, the main one being, of course, that I had access to a car. The other reason being that I finally got my paycheque deposited :-)

Now, for those of you who don't know, Pang has no bank. Not only that, you may remember from previous posts that I mentioned the two bank machines that are here have been broken since I arrived. Fortunately, now that the connections are up and running again, my interac and credit card have been restored to their former glory. Generally, though, with 19% interest I prefer to avoid the credit when I can...I'll keep it for my internet purchases. My personal rule has been to keep all community buys paid with interac-based.

Herein lies the problem: regardless of the fact that I requested - and filled out all the forms - for direct deposit, I received a crisp cheque with my name on it about a week ago. Here, that is basically only worth the paper it's printed on. I needed to figure out how to get it to Iqaluit ASAP. Since my supervisor was coming to town, it was easy enough for her to bring it back...I would just have to wait a bit. Fi-na-lly. It's there. Saa-weet!

Last night, walking home, I met one of my students on her way to the latest 'Loonie-Toonie' sale. Apparently a local Elder has died and  it's customary to raise money to fly in people from neighboring communities. I don't know when the funeral will happen, but it's sure to be big. It was interesting to see how everyone came together. Although I didn't win anything, I'm glad I went.

Another 'yesterday comment'? It looked like Pang was surrounded in a fog bubble. From town I could see across the bridge to the GN housing, I could see Mt.Duval and I could even see the tip of the curling peninsula. That's where it stopped. The tip looked like an island and the Pass had disappeared completely. The fog didn't move, it just sat there for hours and hours. I couldn't see past the airport on the other side of town and when the sun finally set, the darkness was complete. Amazing.

Tonight I really don't have anything profound to say...actually, profound thoughts generally don't come out of me. However, I would like to send a shout out to Christa over in Gjoa Haven. You sound like you need a hug. I'm dealing with the whole teaching thing too, and the adjustment to the north is crazy. However, at least I went through the battle with disillusionment that everyone goes through after a BEd about a decade ago...long enough to have dealt with it, but close enough to still remember. Don't lose faith...only a good teacher would care enough to let it affect them.

That's about it from Pang tonight. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to, once again, watch the only 2 shows of Sex and the City that I have saved on my computer again, surf a bit, then head off to bed. I would really like to have a tv in times like these. It's true, I have no tv. That's fine in the south with streaming movies and shows, but qiniq connection quality in a community surrounded by mountains isn't really conducive to watching without downloading...which takes forever.

...good night dear readers. Enjoy the green fires in the night sky as often as you can...

September 10, 2009

Money, math, and mystery...

It feels like so long since I've logged in to this account; who knew that I would start stretching and cracking at the seams without having a place to write? Throughout the years I have amassed journals...I have boxes of them with little tidbits of memories from all over the world. I thought that would continue in the north, but here I am, dumping it on a blog for all to see. Perhaps that'sthe way it should be...I need to keep in mind that writing is communicative as well as cathartic. So here I am. Communicating.

In the past few days, I've been checking updates of all my favorite northern blogs and I've realized that I've really gotten the chance to take a peek in other people's lives; sometimes I wonder what it would be like to put a voice to the site (I've seen all the pics). I'm definitely curious to see the communities throughout the territory now...Pang is my first taste and will probably be my first love, but the other hamlets sound awesome as well.

Hmmm...that's my first ramble for the evening.

Work started this week and, I would say, that's the main reason I haven't had the time to post. That and the fact that my supervisor was in town making me feel like I should be the 'super-employee'. I'll have to take some time at Christmas to update that one.

I think I've mentioned the steep price of baking supplies on this blog before. $40 for a 10kg bag of flour was definitely a shock when I first arrived. Finally, though, I decided that I would 'bite the bullet' so-to-speak and buy what I needed to make some chocolate chip cookies for my class. Why not? They deserve it just for finding childcare and showing up. Well, apparently this was just a bit too optimistic. For close to a week, the interac and credit card machines have been down. Not only that...the only two ATM machines in town have been broken since I got here and the customer service office at the Northern had run out of cash. It would be nice to have a bank out here! The stores were still accepting Northern Credit but, well, I don't qualify. Nope. Just me counting my pennies (literally) to buy some baking soda. I think the Co-op is up and running now...groceries tomorrow!

Wow...I usually use the computer when I'm sitting on the floor with the two dogs curled up on my lap. In this position I can look out the window and up at Mt.Duval without seeing all the other housing's like it's just me and the mountain. Tonight it's reeeaaalllly foggy, leaving everything coated in inky blackness. I use the word 'inky' because the air feels the way I imagine an ink bath would covers you, sticks to you, and weighs you down. Yup, it's inky out there. However, for the slightest of slight moments, a breeze blew the clouds away from the summit revealing one of the brightest half moons I've ever seen. Beautiful.

Tomorrow this little English instructor has to dig back into the cockles of her mind somewhere and pull out all the information she can recall relating to the numbers game. Bright and early I start teaching the basics in applied mathematics. Next week I'll be adding chemistry to the line-up. English, psychology, sociology, maybe a bit of history...those are my things. Math? Chemistry? Physics? Biology?

...stay tuned and you will be able to see, in my pictures, how my naturally dark hair gets infiltrated with bits of white. Now, if it's absolutely necessary to head in that direction, I wish that the universe at least had the decency to bless me with a wide sheaf of pure white - I always thought Rogue was the best looking of the bunch. Oh, and she had super cool is that?

(poor segue, I know...)

p.s. Have any of you noticed the abundance of house flies up here? Is that a Pang thing? They're everywhere...and stupid, too. I grew up getting frustrated when one of them would escape the swatter once again. Here, you can actually squish them in a kleenex without having to rush. They don't move. Gryphon has decided to supplement his diet with the little creatures and, to my mind, why not? If it's ok to lick absolutely everything, why wouldn't it be ok to eat a fly?

September 08, 2009

Obama on Education...

Well, I don't usually like to write anything too political - there are just way too many ways to misinterpret someone on such an informal medium.

That being said, after reading Townie Bastard's post tonight I feel compelled to make a note of it. Check it out. Check out Obama's speech. And ask yourself the same questions he puts forth...most importantly, where is Canada when it comes to the concerns of our students?

...just a thought...

*a concerned teacher of the north*

September 07, 2009

Labour Day lost...

For all of you out there in the blogosphere (I know, the term sucks)...

Do you remember that feeling that you had right before class started for the winter semester? Somewhere in the final days of December, Christmas excitement barely past, and you're just aching to wear those new clothes you got for school? There is a feeling of trepidation because, well, you do have to head to work/school at some point, but there's also a feeling of twisted anticipation. Hmm...that was me today. I start class tomorrow and, with the spotty bits of snow left, it really does feel like a warm Christmas! There's also that sound...the silence that you get after a snowfall in the south. Like a blanket.

Ok, ok...I know the pic above is pretty much the same one I put in before, so you may think I'm a bit unimaginative. It's really not that. This view is what I see walking home from work and it changes everyday. The picture to the right it what I see out one of my office windows.

So, ya, school tomorrow. Yay me! It's been about a month since I've been in front of a class, so it'll take a day or two to fall into it I suppose. This upcoming weekend will be my true Labour Day. Sure, it's only two days, but I'll actually try my best to relax during it.

One more picture. This on is taken looking down at my 'command center' from the kitchen. Pretty swanky digs, wouldn't you say? LOL

Northern volcanoes and the like...

I took this picture (to the right) sometime last week, and I wish it had come out better; it really did look like a belching volcano (or what I imagine a belching volcano would look like). Somewhere you'd have to go to dispose of some sort of magical preciousssss...

The picture below I took at the same time. The light in the mountains has a quality that doesn't exist on the east coast. In Nova Scotia, the sunrise is always over the water and you can watch it creep across the sky. Here in Pang a ray will peek out from behind a mountain creating surrounding peaks of black, green, yellow, and even shades of an orange / red. Those colours change as the day passes. Both of these pictures face south and were taken around 6 pm.

Someone asked me tonight what I was going to do during the summer...whether I would continue to rent my place to hold it for next year. Wow. What a question. When do you know if the north is right for you? Can you realistically answer that after less than a month? I'm having a great time here...I'm settling into a nice set-up. I hope this feeling of contentment sticks around.

Tallinn had its streets of castles and cobblestones, Ottawa had its beautiful buildings and familiarity, Seoul had its indescribable markets and smells, Hong Kong had its comforting chaos, Manhatten had its metropolitan atmosphere with the world at your fingertips...and Pangnirtung has something that I can't yet put words to. Other northerners have spoken about that Thing. There. Niggling. Under your skin.

I'll keep you posted...

September 06, 2009


Well, I've been invited out for a movie at a friend's place, but I have to wait for that darn lasagna to finish cooking. Soooo... here I am. Waiting. I figure I'll pass the time by posting a few pics.

I got a 'Pang Hat' about a week ago...a girl who makes the rounds made it for me in the colours I wanted. Apparently her mom does amazing work; the stitching is a lot tighter. Whatever. This one's good for me, and it worked perfectly under my hood in the freezing rain earlier today.

Now there is a certain myth somehow perpetuated in the south that the land here is cold, barren...dead. I beg to differ. Right now there is some sort of plant growing (or maybe it's the grass turning?) that looks like little neon flecks you'd find after a superb shower of glowsticks at a rave. It won't come out in any of my pictures, but it actually looks like the grass is lit from within; it's the strangest thing.

My place is in the 4-plex with the green roof. My backyard and my front view. Yay! It just makes me happy to glance out the window and see Duval sitting there.

Lasagna's done!

It's here, it's here!!

I'm at work right now and I shouldn't be spending my time on my blog, but I suppose I do a lot of things that I shouldn't. Anyway, whatever...

...the snow is here! Ok, it's wet snow and it probably won't stay, but right now it's here. Snowing on September 6th :-)

No sun, no foil...

Hmmm...I knew the nice weather couldn't last. Since I arrived in Pang the it has been fantastic; sure, some days were incredibly windy, but the sun was out most of the time; only once did I experience a rainy temper tantrum and that was after I was in for the evening. Not today. It's pouring outside and all I can think of is that I have work to catch up on before Tuesday. I didn't take any of it home because I was confident that I would be spending a good chunk of my holiday weekend at the school. Yesterday was my day off. Today I have to walk through those flying droplets for about 20 minutes. I bet you didn't think Pang was that big, did you...

Grrr...right now I'm curled up in my recently cleaned house, cozy in my living room. My big mug of coffee is steaming here on one side with my empty plate - which once held my completely unhealthy strawberry Eggos (smothered, of course, in real butter and fake syrup) - on the other. Do you really think anyone would want to push the dog off his/her lap and start to get ready to go that?

So, yesterday I prepped a lasagne that cost close to $35. It wasn't my best creation, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. Tomato sauce (as a base) was about $10...on sale. Noodles (about $5's worth), chick peas (I brought), carrots (about $2.50's worth), cheese (about $6's worth), green pepper (about $3), onion (about $1.5), small flower of broccoli (abour $2), cottage ricotta (about $4), and 1 egg (about $0.75). After simmering the sauce with a dash of italian seasoning, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a touch of sugar (all of which I brought from Ottawa) everything was layered and ready to go. It was at this point that I realized I have no aluminum, I can say I'm creative with some things but, no matter how hard I tried, the substitution to this one eluded me. That basically means that, as I type this, my fridge is stacked with a huge casserole dish wrapped in plastic bags from the to the shepard's pie I put together. There you go, another thing I have to get done today. Run to the grocery store.

I suppose cooking keeps me busy. I bought a whole chicken on Friday because it was $ other reason than that. I figure I can cook it up, get some meat for me, scraps for the dogs (just a wee bit), and a good pot of stock to freeze. to cook it. I think I found the perfect recipe - on a slow cooker website no less! Honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, ah the list goes on. Good stuff. Yes, perhaps it's a bit expensive, but only if you don't have the ingredients. Other than the lemon juice, I'm good to go!

Hmm, now I'm hungry. And now I want to cook. And now I definitely don't want to go to work. Boo.

September 05, 2009

Google beans...

So, it turns out that my brother is somewhere outside of Venice. Just hangin' out. Waiting. He has a grad conference to go to in Greece and decided to take a quick spin around first. At a certain level I am a bit jealous that he'll be able to float down the canals on gondolas or speed around with a contraband outboard motor, but on another level I know that I'm lucky to be exploring Pangnirtung. Besides, Venice is sinking (please don't comment on global warming and how Pang will disappear someday too).

This is what got me thinking about the various geographic locations of my brothers (Queen Charlotte Islands, Nova Scotia, and Venice): my dad sent me an email which said he was looking at a picture and was wondering which house was mine. At first I thought it was one of those rhetorical see the skyline of a city and simply point to a light somewhere. Well, he wasn't looking at a random pic of Pang...he was checking it out using a super-satellite a la Google Earth 5.0. Creepy. With the help of his Bell connection out east and my fancy shmancy qiniq here, I gave him a guided tour of the hamlet. My place, the bridge, my workplace, the Lodge, the know, the regular stuff. Then he zoomed in a bit more. There was my neighbor's GN truck, Louis' van, and a score of boats dotting the I said, creepy. Zoom in more and if a person were standing still long enough, I'm sure he or she would turn up too.

...hmm, a whole new era of keeping track of people...

So, in my previous post I mentioned my wonderful freshly ground coffee. What I didn't mention was that a few beans had dropped on the floor. Now, of course I picked them up and thought I had gotten them all...turns out I didn't. Do any of you know the history of coffee? It was discovered by a goat herder who noticed that every time he had his group in a certain field they got a bit crazy. After awhile, he looked closer at what they were nibbling on and, voila, better than sliced toast...if there were some sort of finder's fee those goats would be worshiped the world over.

I think it was Scarlett who took off with the errant bean. I found little pieces of the shell cracked around the top of the stairs she was madly racing up and down. Next on my 'to do' list? 'Dawgz Gone Wild'...

Water woes and a coffee cure...

Well, one more step in my evolution. To shake off that green coating of the south, there are a few levels of experiential initiation. On a superficial level, they vary from person to person...some people have to adjust to no Starbucks, Tim Horton's, or McDonalds while others have to get used to the fact that movie theaters, good middle eastern food, and standard veterinary care is unavailable. I can do without the Starbucks (too expensive anyway) and McD's (you can only be 'lovin it' for so long), but the others I know I will miss immensely in the upcoming months...oh ya, and a nice glass of wine. Those things, however, are personal.

No...true experiential initiation comes when you go through an airport with no security check-point, land on a gravel runway, walk through the Northern or the Co-op for the first time...and for the true first shock, getting ready for a shower and realizing that you used your last few drops of water for that absolutely luscious pot of coffee you just made. Ok, I know they'll be many more things to deal with that will probably be a lot worse, but I was really looking forward to that shower. I suppose I should feel lucky that it's a Saturday afternoon and not a weekday morning before work.

Anyway, after letting the phone ring and ring and ring at the water/sewage place I felt like I was going to cry. Would I have to run to the neighbor's just to use the bathroom? On about the 15th ring (no joke) someone finally picked up. Yay! The guy said they were on break right now but would make it over as soon as possible. That was about 45 minutes ago and now I'm already set with a brand new tank - so quick! Scarlett was running around barking the whole time and Gryphon, again, was shaking and terrified (thank god his bowels were empty this time), but it's finished and full. Now the drill is to run the washing machine, right? Or is that after they do the sewer? Do they do both at once? Oh, I should've figured this one out before Labour Day weekend!

Enough with the sewer talk and back to the coffee. Today I decided to put away the Bridgehead pre-ground Peruvian I had been drinking for the past week and try out my fancy new Cuisinart coffee grinder on the Free Trade East Timorese beans I had waiting in that required 'cool dry place' (freezers is an evil myth people). Absolutely beautiful. I don't know enough about coffee to describe the subtle tones of whatever's involved, but I know what's good and what's not. It was a medium roast - no too bitter or acidic (hate that) -and it convinced me that the money I spent bringing premium caffeine north was well-spent. Regardless of the fact that a guy I know said I'd be "Nabobin' it by Christmas", I don't think I could make that change if something like food mail is available. I have a few more bags of upopened beans in various flavours to tide me over till American Thanksgiving at least!

September 03, 2009

Finally...that's the theme.

Yay! I finally have a modem that works! I've been playing around for the past chunk of time (I won't say how long) trying out loading time on different websites. So, ok, no streaming movies or tv shows, but the streaming iTunes radio stations seem to work. Finally, a little bit of variety. Of course you put all your favorite on your iPod, but I was beginning to worry that I'd get no new music up here; I really can't get any radio stations except CBC North.

And...ta da! Pictures. Finally. Ok, so the one here is a pretty chintzy shot of me last week when I was in Iqaluit, but I was just testing things out. Now that I know my connection can handle it, there'll be more to come. Hmm...I suppose that also means I won't be able to justify spending money at Louis' so regularly. Boo. Oh well, my supervisors are visiting next week and we will be having an 'evening business meeting'; I hope this includes a meal as well as OT!

Another 'finally' today: my Canada Goose Kensington Parka is now purchased and will be on its way by the beginning of next week. Let's hope it arrives before the snow! Let's also hope that I ordered the right size...

BTW, if there is any northerner out there looking into buying stuff online, Christa's blog is awesome...another internet shopoholic. The common theme I've noticed in the GN community is their huge dependence on online shopping. I understand now. One walk around the Northern and you leave with your fingers itching for your credit card and keyboard. Bad, I know.

...actually, no, it's not. I was reading Townie Bastard's blog tonight and he mentioned a note someone had passed along calling him (in a nice way) a 'consumerist'. Sure I may end up buying more this winter than I would in Ottawa, but in Pang I can't treat myself to dinner or movie whenever I buckets of popcorn with twizzlers and a soft drink cup that's just way too big. There are no social establishments other than that of a friend's apartment. The library in town is the size of my bedroom and, as of yet, I haven't seen it open. Having quality clothing is important. There are just a lot of things. I just have to make sure I don't get out of control...when I start ordering paper cranes made by starving kids in Malaysia I'll know it's gone too far.

Until next time, happy shopping!

Like water for chocolate...

I’ve only been a ‘northerner’ for a few weeks, but I’ve already made a few observations that will take awhile to get used to…right now I’ll just focus on relationship status and nutrition.

Relationship status? This is one I really wasn’t expecting. Ok, people are generally curious about the ‘new face in town’, but this goes beyond that. It’s true, most southerners have a significant other – whether here or long-distance – but not everyone. I’ll have to depend on myself to get things done, but that’s part of the adventure. Come on people, give a girl some credit; I haven’t left the grid up here, I’ve just moved closer to the edge.

Back to the point. In the last four days I’ve gotten four inquiries. No, not anyone who is interested…just concerned people. Even my supervisor in Iqaluit thought it would be good if I met up with her friend because she, too, is single. It’s like the ultimate shunning table at the wedding where the seating plan mixes those who would most prefer adult interaction with the children. What’s up with that? Do people really think it’s that difficult?

Anyway, my boss was #1, my supervisor was #2, my neighbor was #3 (he’s set on fixing me up with the RCMP officer), and #4 was a co-worker… apparently my particular breed of southerner is hard to come by up here. I wonder if it makes people uncomfortable – perhaps they feel obliged to fix it? Paa-leez.

On to the next topic: nutrition. Perhaps it’s not as ‘sexy’ as relationships, but I think it’s more important. Since I arrived north of 60, I’ve tried not to concentrate too much on the price I end up paying every time I swipe my card at the Northern. I expected everything to be more expensive, and it is. It’s all about expectations. ‘Lays’ chips can put you out about $7.50 and, before the sealift, soft drinks can put you out about $4 for one of those ‘stubbies’. With the exception of one summer when I was about 16, I’ve never been a regular consumer of chips or pop, so I don’t mind going without them. $8 for 2L of milk, $7 for a small block of cheese, $6 for a few tiny apples…those are the things I think about when I enter the store.

Moving along…

After my first 2 weeks here, I couldn’t believe how many people were lined up at the check-out with all this junk food. My first reaction was ‘wow, that person must have a lot of money to be able to buy all that…I can't afford to buy treats! I wish my mom had bought me and my brothers that kind of stuff when we were younger instead of all that fruit’. Then it occurred to me (as I’m sure it already has to you): no one was buying the healthier food to balance it out. Fresh meat/fish, produce, various types of bread (other than the white ‘Wonder’ bread)…it was just going bad on the shelves. I was so sad. I know this is not new information and that ethnographic research has been done on this as recently as last year - a good friend of mine just spent most of her PhD years going to more northern communities than I know the names for, completing surveys and collecting anecdotal evidence related to this problem - but it was still heart-breaking to see. I'm not a health nut by any means, but the common sense of choosing certain types of foods over others guides my diet. **I have no idea why that last part changed to italics, but I'm too tired to figure out why it won't change following the usual drill.**

Don't get me wrong...I don't count calories and I enjoy a good ‘Hungry Man’ now and then (the entrée, not the guy sitting at your table or on your couch), but I’m only willing to pay the $12.99 needed here (in Pang) in very special circumstances. It’s a guilty indulgence and it always has been (even in the south).

Relationships and nutrition…I didn’t expect those two issues to be the first to smack me in the face. All about expectations…

September 02, 2009

Ribbons of color...

Listening to the wind and checking out the Northern Lights, September 1

I usually try to post something before writing anything new, but sometimes it’s not so easy to time thoughts and internet service in the north. I’ve been fighting with my qiniq modem…I can’t even say we have a love-hate relationship. No love there! Although all the lights indicate that a connection is available, neither of my computers will go past ‘limited or no connectivity’ (and, yes, I’ve disabled the wireless).

Tonight, I just had to write something. I met newbieinthenorth…it’s so cool to have another blogger literally across the street. Tea, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, Hell’s Kitchen, and Mortal Love (no, not the goth band…I just can’t find the right link). What could fill your Tuesday evening better? Some of the pictures she has are amazing (in every way possible).

Apparently there were polar bears roaming around stealing seal meat and dried fish about 5 miles from here. Boo. Although the new observable ‘test’ meat they put out is still there, travel on foot is pretty much shot if you want to take a jaunt out and about. And why wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, with this whole situation, I think I’ll have to err on the side of being the cautious local instead of the tourist looking for a photo op; I’ll leave my rifle and bear training for when I renew my contract.

My shipment arrived yesterday…yay!! No, I didn’t have a box on the infamous sealift (that’s an operation that’s awesome to watch…waiting for the tides to push the loaded boats to shore), but all the stuff I sent in the middle of August. Well, not everything is here, so I’m hoping First Air has just been splitting its boxes and that I will be receiving my stainless steel pans and assorted goods later. Please don’t laugh, I’m trying to be positive. I’ll put in the complaint call if I don’t get anything tomorrow.

My front windows face Mount Duval while my rear windows face the bridge and the main part of town…where you’d see all the lights. ‘All, of course, is a relative term when comparing a northern hamlet to a city. Today I was walking home over the lichen-covered rock and physically stumbled when I came to this realization: the light creeping out from behind the mountain was moving. It wasn’t the moon, hiding, like I had first imagined. Do you remember working with the ribbons in the rhythmic gymnastics portion of your gym class? Well, with all the crazy wind, it almost seemed that you had your very own northern version (magnified by thousands). Swirling. Random shades of green with some pink coloring.

Holy crap, the house is shaking. That wind is nasty…and it’s only a baby’s burp compared to what’s in store for the winter (or so I’m told). Another of Pangnirtung’s claims to fame. I suppose I’ll just have to trust that the engineer who designed this house is qualified. This is me. Trusting.

Poor Gryphon. Tonight I decided to prepare some fine cuisine, old school style. That is to say, I had pork chops and onions with a mushroom (soup) sauce over rice. That, in itself, is a bit sad, but I was proud that I actually cooked something instead of heating up one of those Indian curries I have sitting in my cupboard…I don’t think I can handle anymore lentils for awhile. However, the food is inconsequential in this story. What really matters is the fact that I had not thoroughly cleaned the burner and set off the fire alarm when the rice started cooking. So here I am, dodging around huge boxes full of packing paper and bubble wrap and wildly waving a dishcloth around. This is when Scarlett started moaning and crouching under a discarded dish box. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Gryphon is about 3 pounds. Tiny. Easy to miss when everything is calm. The only reason I knew where he was this time was because he was somehow ‘dog screaming’ and skittering about. I was pushing buttons, waving towels, fanning windows…and watching my dog literally shake the poop out. Did you know they could do that? When terrified, chihuahuas will lose control of everything. After I got the smoke cleared it was quite awhile before he was comfortable enough under my arm to stop shaking. Again, poor Gryphon. And for those of you who prefer to think of pigs in mushroom soup more than the plight of a young and scared puppy, well I enjoyed my dinner down to the last grain of rice!

The static has started. I was told about this…how the electricity in the air changes north of, well, Ontario. I’d already gotten a few good shocks since I moved, but today was a veritable lightening storm across the carpet. The dogs took alternate routes to get to their usual hang-outs, and the snaps sounded like little whips. Is it because of the Northern Lights? I really have no idea what causes all the static. The radio isn’t coming in very well here, either.

Clock ticking. Black night outside. Small bedside lamp. Swaying house. Hands on the keyboard. Alfred Hitchcock worthy?...


I've just been told it's More to Love (not Mortal Love )or, to the less politically correct crowd, 'The Fat Bachelor'. In retrospect that makes sense...but I have to say, other than the guy with the man-boobs, the ladies could all do plus-size modeling. Crazy 'reality' shows!


Monday morning, Kitchen Table, August 31

Like I mentioned, last night I went to Louis’ for dinner…ham that could melt in your mouth, lamb cooked to perfection, baked potato with Italian seasoning, baked tomato with a crumble topping, homemade Yorkshire pudding with gravy, fresh sugar pie infused with pure almond extract and a smothering of cream. I’m going to weigh a ton if I keep going there!

However, there was a struggle going on with the moral code of the whole thing. I had gone to the Lodge early to get some internet use in (NB: pics on picasa now…don’t know how clear they are…had to take down the pixel count), and I met an Inuk named Lasaloosie. This man, who speaks no English, has so many stories to share. And so many lessons to teach. At 61, I’ve never seen someone look so young.

You can sense Lasaloosie before you can see him if you’re sitting around the corner. Yesterday he had spent the whole day out on the land with a group of troubled teens showing them how to call, catch, and kill a seal. Did any of you actually know you can call a seal by wading into the water and scraping a stick on the rocks? It works…he showed me the video! Anyway, after he was done with the seal, he has pictures of a woman from the village scraping the skins with her ulu (traditional blade). With his super high-tech digital camera, he showed me videos and pictures he had just taken close to where the Pangnirtung Fjord meets the Cumberland Sound.

His smile and laugh is like none I’ve ever experienced…you can’t help but catch the joy in his spirit. When he begins to speak, however, there is an element of sadness; he mourns the loss of his traditional way of life. Yes, he uses a digital camera, snow mobile, and the occasional rifle, but he still builds his own igloo, runs a dog team, and works mainly with a harpoon. He uses a kudluk not as a symbolic sign at the beginning of a conference in Iqaluit, but for warmth in an igloo using seal oil as opposed to that of the Crisco vegetable variety. He is a guide of a dying way of life…how can I say it in any other way? Whoever originally wrote those words most closely felt what I’m feeling.

This man, who had so much to share, eventually got up and left me sitting there with my computer, iPod, all my fancy insulated MEC clothing, and the surety that something was inherently wrong with so much of the southern way. Somewhere in my head I know that’s not true – that it’s just different – but it still made me feel like a bit of a fraud.

About a half hour later, Lasaloosie reappeared with a creased 8 ½ X 11 envelope which held a part of his life. Pictures of his family in the 50s and 60s, him carrying a caribou on his shoulders back from the land about 2-3 days after he had killed it, pictures of him with French (from France) politicians who were more interested in the northern way of life than the Canadian government itself, laminated Certificates of Achievement (which, of course, he couldn’t read but was proud of nonetheless), a long French article, and a lengthy published interview sharing bits of his life. Amazing.

He no longer takes groups of tourists out on the land because he feels it’s not his place to showcase his culture; he feels it’s his place to share and teach his culture to those who have never had to depend on it. He prefers to work with the teens of Pang to give them an idea of where they come from. He tells stories of when the ice floe carrying him, his father, and their dog team broke off and drifted out to sea in the fog leaving them to wait and pray to Sedna that they would somehow be returned, killing a caribou and carrying it for days on his back, seasonal moves alternating from skin tents to igloos and back again…and the argument with his wife that he eventually lost: the one which had them accept the government’s offer to move to the new hamlet, Pangnuktuq, which had been created in the fjord.

Back to Louis’…

For that wonderful ham, lamb, potato, tomato, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, pie, and cream, what had I done other than pass over a few bucks? How did I really deserve it? I read somewhere that, in Inuit culture, catching something from the sea or land is not something which should be celebrated to the degree we celebrate in the south with hunting lodges and trophies…it’s a time to give thanks to the animal for giving its life so you could survive. I need to remember that the next time I bite into a gourmet meal…what have I really done to deserve it?

…just a thought…