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!

November 10, 2009

Stars and no heat in the north...

Well, today I lost my puppy...the one I was all set to adopt. Ah, little white husky. Apparently this is the one dog that actually has a home up here. Boo. It's still just me and my teeny black dogs.

I wonder how many more initiation-type things I'll go through this year. Today, this is the challenge: my heater is busted. Yup. -26 with the windchill, and I have no heat. Fortunately there's some residual heat - lighting up a candle while closed in the bathroom works - but it's still not the most comfortable thing. Surprise!

It was completely dark when I left school today. You know that whole series of paintings Van Gogh is famous for...all the starry nights. Check this out.

Now, although the second picture is horrible because, well, my camera isn't the best the colours are the same. Amazing. The stars out tonight (not visible in this pic) are so clear and awe inspiring. I remember saying 'awesome' back in my junior high years - that, along with 'radical' - but this is one of the only occasions where the word is actually warrented.
My brother, out on the west coast, posted a few pictures this week with, of course, trees and trees and trees. Living on the Queen Charlotte Islands, what else can you expect? It's been awhile. Then I look at pics my parents post - my parents in Nova Scotia. What an amazing country. It's so different from one end to the next. I've seen the cities, travelled the prairies (a bit), and reached the Arctic Circle (well, within a few miles). How cool is that?

I'm slowly learning to work with the darkness up here; it's not as off-putting as it once was. I think it's a get amazing night skies. And the cold? Not a problem yet. -35 is the coldest it's gotten so far (I know it'll get colder), but with my Goose and Baffins, I truly feel toasty warm thoughout all the walking I still have to do. In fact, I have to walk slowly to make sure I don't sweat too much. Amazing. Can't wait to go ice fishing.

OK, time to head to bed. Bunches of blankets, my two dogs to work as heaters, and a call to the housing association in the morning should do the trick.

Hope my fingertips still move to clink across the keyboard tomorrow!

November 08, 2009

A shot, a beating, and some darn cold weather... the past week I have dreamt about KFC three times. OK, actual KFC was only once, but it's been fried chicken three times. That and wedge fries. With green coleslaw. What's up with that? It's not like it's something I ate a lot when I was in the south. I really wonder how dreams work. What does fried chicken represent when you're living in northern Canada? Weird.

It seems so strange to have my computer back in front of me. Actually, no, it's stranger to feel like it's been forever after only a day. I checked my email on Friday, powered down, then got an H1N1 shot in the arm. By Saturday my arm was swollen, bruised, and too sore to raise above a 30 degree angle. Ouch. I must say, though, that the little juice boxes we received afterwards were nice

Today I got a phonecall from a friend just up the road...they have a big shepard/husky mix, and they were asking me - a small dog owner - for pee-pads. Ha! The full story is horrible. When Mr.X went to the local C-Store (the Northern Convenience Store), he came across a group of guys - early 20s - beating a dog. A tiny one. A puppy. I know this is something that occurs regularly in some places, but it's still a shock when you come across it in real life. Of course, Mr.X scooped up the dog, plopped the emaciated thing in front of him on his Polaris, and zoomed on home. Tomorrow they'll be looking for the owner by way of the local radio...

...and, if no one claims him, what happens? Where does he go? He's an adorable little white puff-ball with caramel ears and a lot of energy. He needs some love, some food, and - my god - a good scrub. I know some of you readers are going to think the northern air has affected my mental functioning in some way, but I think I'll take the little thing if no owner shows up. He's such a little stinky sweetie right now!

Every time I check out this blog, I check out the reported weather widgit on the side and, for the first bit of time, it boggled my mind. How could it feel so cold out there, yet register only a minus 10 or 15?'ll kill you every time. Check, instead, this site. That's more like it.

Until next time, appreciate your animals as much as you can...

November 04, 2009

The moon and a touch of soap...

It's been another few days - it feels like ages - of not writing. If you're a regular reader, I'm sure you've noticed the dip in my mood; I'm pretty sure it's just the adjustment to the season, but who knows. At least I can say that it's started to lift a bit.

You may ask how I know? Well, though it was dark by 3 this afternoon, I noticed the moon and not the lack of light. The moon! When it started to creep up over the mountain, it was awesome. Picture this...there was a blanket of clouds with no glimpse of any star; in a place with so few light bulbs, it was unbelievably noticeable. The mountains were an inky contrast to the already dark sky.

And then, above it all, there it was. The moon. My whole walk home. It just hung there. What makes it interesting is that it was so cloudy. It was almost like one of those science experiments that you do in elementary school (or see on Palmolive commercials): greasy water with a touch of soap. As soon as contact is made the oil is pushed aside; in this case, the moon was like a drop of liquid soap clearing the air of clouds.

Oh, and one more thing about the moon...

It seems that it's been a full moon for ages. Is that possible, or is just my imagination. I have no idea.

So take some time, then check out the sky; there are things just as beautiful as the Northern Light up there.

November 02, 2009

Time to work through the night...

Wow...someone once said that the state of your apartment / workplace is a reflection of your mental capacity at the time. If that's the case then I'm certainly messed up. My classroom is a disaster and it seems like I have no inclination to fix it...which is making me even more depressed. It's the light (or lack thereof). I'm taking my vitamins, but the time change last weekend actually made the days shorter; by 3:30 I was teaching math with no sunlight. I need to work through this.

On a brighter note: I finally cracked out my Canada Goose was, after all, about -30 when I went to work. Hmm, toasty warm. Very nice. The Baffin boots are rockin' and the Goose is given'er.

Not much more to say...


November 01, 2009

Costumes, pups and, hmm, I'm tired...

Well, after the high school chaperoning experience, I just felt pooped. Saturday mornings are generally my favorite time of the week (I get to sleep in and there's still a day and a half before I have to be 'up-n-at-em' at work), but this week was kind of ruined by the fact that I had to be organized for the evening festivities.

Here in Pang, there is a definite limit to the time kids are allowed to collect candy at the houses. I heard it was from 5:00 to 6:30, but I'm not quite sure if that's accurate. Anyway, I was prepped by 5:00, and this was my plan: a costume for passing out the booty (hee hee...where did that expression come from anyway) and another for the evening community celebration. So, the candy giving trio? Me (with a head full of pommade, toothpaste, and flour)...
and Gryphon. Aren't we cute? Well, Gryphon had to wear Scarlett's hand-me-down ladybug outfit, but my little girl had a brand new pumpkin costume; both refused to put up with the hoods, but I think you get the idea anyway.

One thing to know about the north is that the kids are really different in social situations. Although I've heard this, I haven't really witnessed it first-hand...I work with adults. When I was young, I remember ringing doorbells or knocking on Halloween, then chiming in with a 'Trick or Treat!'; it wasn't quite like that here. No, it was more common for the children to walk right in. It was a perfect test for my canine warning system. Here they are, waiting for the next wave...

Anyway, I was supposed to head to the community center with a friend, but she ended up changing plans last minute. After a few calls, I found another ride and headed out for the 7:30 costume parade. I had originally planned for another outfit change, but I was too lazy. Now, the idea of the community celebration is this: everyone gathers and the ones with the most ornate costumes get a number to compete. There are prizes for the worst costume/best costume/costume no one can identify. Well, basically, everyone sits on the floor and a few roam around playing dance music!! Check it out...
I think this hunter was the school principal...not sure.

Ghoulish bride...

OMG, that kid was the best; he worked it let me tell you! He had the boob bounce, the butt wag, and could actually balance in the heels he must has swiped from his mom or sister! Classic.

Anyway, any more Halloween tales are going to have to wait. I'm heading out for cookies and tea.