Treena's Travels

This blog was set up to journal my experience of living in Nunavut and keep friends and family up to date on these happenings. It's a wonderful place, this hideaway in the north, and I'm loving my time here. An unforgettable place with unforgettable people. I'm lucky to be here.

My Photo
Location: Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Well, I can see why people have been known to go crazy living this far north. If doesn't stem from the 24 hours of light, it may be from the fact that it still snows on May 30th! I find myself unable to go to sleep at night even though my room is dark and the light can't get in. My subconscious is messing with my head. I have never been one to nap during the day because, well, I know it's daylight outside and there are things to do and see. You never know, I might miss something!

Here's a picture of out my window at 2:30 am. This is as dark as it gets.

And the following picture is of the snowfall today. We ended up having Winter Storm Warnings for most of the day but that got removed about 3:00 because it was lifting.

Everyone is feeling it now - it's time to go home and sit on green grass, smell all the summertime fragrances in the air, and feel the sun on my skin (or rain for that matter, at this point I would welcome that too). And, more importantly, get Oliver neutered! With spring in the air he's going nuts! He's grown into a handsome, funny, attentive, full-blown raging hormone.

Here's a picture of him today.

This next picture is of my neighbor Chad's kite, which we took out flying a couple of days ago. It's a fancy little two string number and is it ever neat! Because of the two strings you are able to maneuver it to do all kinds of neat stunts. It's so much fun to fly and it turns out it's therapeutic! It makes you feel like a kid just having a good time and not thinking about anything else. Pretty cool..

Well, that's all that's new from the home front this week. 13 days and counting until I land in Edmonton. Woohoo!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Canada Post is out of stamps. I have no idea how this happens, but apparently it can happen. The post office in Baker Lake ran out of stamps at the beginning of May, therefore, no mail went out until around May 16th. At which point they received more stamps. And then there were stamps for three days until they ran out again. So why not use the postage meter for outgoing mail you ask? Good question. The answer: there isn't a postage meter. I have sent parcels back home that cost $55 and had to lick every one of the blasted stamps. And not large stamps of $10 or $25 either. $1 and $2 stamps. I will never take self-adhesive stamps for granted again.

On another note, since being here I have tried raw Caribou meat. It was brought to work to share with the staff. The meat was raw, frozen and just torn apart into little chunks in a bag. I have to admit I was pretty nervous to try it. Just the thought of eating something that hadn't been cooked yet gave me a feeling of uneasiness; however I couldn't say no to the experience. Besides, the ladies at work seemed to be getting such a kick out of the idea of the newbie from the south trying something so foreign to her, I had to do it. It tasted just like I expected it would. Cold, somewhat stringy, and... like blood. I had chosen the piece that I felt looked most appealing and as small as possible. And then it happened. I got a piece of Caribou wedged between my teeth and I couldn't get it out. All afternoon. And no one had floss - go figure. I've come to the conclusion that raw Caribou meat must be an acquired taste. Like Sushi. And regardless what it is, I'm afraid I'm not a big fan of anything raw. Down south, up north, it doesn't matter where I am or what it is. After all I'm from Alberta and they don't call it good old (cooked) Alberta beef for nothing! But, I'm glad I tried Caribou and I thank the ladies for encouraging me to do it. What a cool experience.

Something else that's new to me, but pretty neat to experience, is that it now never gets dark here. We don't have 24 hours of full sunlight like our neighbours a bit north of us but it doesn't get dark at all here now. The sun sets and rises (11:03 and 3:39), however, between these hours we have dusk. Everything is completely visible. It's neat. Mind you it's only neat for me because I had purchased dark fabric shower curtains to use as window coverings when I moved up here. They're knit very tightly to waterproof them and therefore keep a room nice and dark for sleeping. How very Martha of me I thought :-)

Another interesting thing up here is that, for the first time in my life, I am the average height. In fact, I often feel a bit tall. I'm 5'2 and feeling tall pretty much never happens. Actually, I was walking down the hall today talking with a couple of teachers when I realized I could see over their heads. Now that was a cool feeling!

Well, I'm beat. Enough rambling for one evening.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Well, here we are on May 20th and we still have scads of snow. It is, however, melting away. The ditches are now running with water and the roads are wet with red mud. And the mud has a very different consistency up here. It's more silty than what I'm used to from Alberta. It doesn't weigh down your rubber boots like good old AB mud. And today it is -4 so I am feeling a little envious of everyone back home in Edmonton who are experiencing record highs of +31. Oh well. Only 21 more days until I get to come home.

The view today out my window

The last couple of weeks have been quite a whirlwind of activity in terms of my docile Baker Lake life. My friend Jacquie was up for 5 days and we had a fantastic time. It was so great to have someone here from my 'other' life to see what life is like in the north. She had an opportunity to take in a lot of the Hamlet Days festivities, do some sightseeing, go out ice fishing and sledding with a couple of classes from school, and meet a lot of interesting people. I think Baker Lake made a favorable impression on her and the experience will stay with her for a long time.

I'm attaching some pics from her stay here.

Out at the Inukshuk with Jacquie and Oliver

Caribou skin skipping - a caribou skin is bundled up on a rope and the participant has to jump it, always facing the skin (which means twisting in the air to turn to it continually much like a contortionist!). One of the rope turners counts out the beat for the jumping; 1, 2, 3 are half turns and on 4 the rope goes full over the skippers head. Those 4 jumps count as one. Now consider that each skipper jumps 4 times, with 4 mini jumps to position themselves for the next jump. That's 8. One young man jumped 46 times.... times 8. That's 368 jumps!! It was absolutely amazing to see.

Airplane - this is done a bit differently for the males and females. The objective is to be suspended in the air by three people, (one by each arm and one by the legs) and for you to remain rigid. For the girls, you must hold your arms in at the chest and push the knuckles of both fists together. You are timed from 'lift off' until your knuckles separate. For the males, you are suspended by extended arms and are again timed from 'lift off' until your back bows and it's evident you aren't supporting yourself any longer. One of the girls, I was told, had a record of three minutes! I don't know what the personal records are for the boys but the longest I saw was 30 seconds. All of the students were such superb athletes. It was crazy.

The High Kick - That target is 8 feet off the ground!

Going out to The Point to ice fish and sled

Sledding with the kids, or should I say, being dumped by the sled!

Elders and volunteers eating Caribou

Dog sled races - The winning team crossing the line

It's funny because as I write this entry, it's 1:30 a.m., it's still dusk and the seagulls are out in full force, squawking, no doubt telling their friends where the tastiest feasts are to be found under the melting snow.

And, with all of the interesting things I have been fortunate enough to see and experience, this week reinforced for me how far I am from home. A very dear friend of mine passed away early Wednesday morning, losing her battle with cancer. Her name was Caroline Anne Fritz-Dziwenka and she was an amazing lady. I was fortunate enough to have her as my ASL tutor for several years, and more importantly, my good friend. I will always remember her for her support, encouragement, directness, compassion, love of the Royal Family, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and hats, and her dedication to her friends and family. Her laugh was contagious, her sense of humor was quick and 'wicked' and her spirit unwavering, right to the end. I miss her and am sad that I can not be home for the Celebration of Life in her honor. Because she deserves to be celebrated. And remembered always. xoxo CAF

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Spring in Baker Lake?!

Well, for anyone complaining about chilly weather or a skiff of snow that's a bit inconvenient in the rest of Canada, I thought I'd attach a couple pictures of a house that has a wee bit of snow on the doorstep. The first was taken a few weeks ago and the second I took today. Crazy! Ask me if I'm glad I live in an apartment where I'm not responsible for shovelling!! :-)

This morning some friends and I went to the Nunamiut Lodge for brunch. By friends I mean the 12 plex 'seniors' as we're all affectionately known as. It's a standing joke up here that the 'seniors' don't like to leave the 12 plex to socialize and like to be in bed by midnight. Too funny. Honestly though, it's so convenient having friends in the same building because socializing is so easy. No getting dressed up in parkas, snowpants, Sorels. Just put on your PJ's and head over to the neighbours for cards, Cranium or a movie. There's seven of us (including one youngin from up the road). But we're branching out and the seniors have made the brunch outing a weekly Sunday ritual. It's nice because it tends to make a person feel less isolated here. And there's a solarium. We actually have to wear sunglasses because the sun on the snow is so bright.

Speaking of the sun, dusk now seems to fall about 11:45 pm and sunrise is about 4:00 am. The days are longer and let me tell ya, it's showing in the kids! The last place they want to be is in class and I can't blame them. I find it hard being there myself when the sun is so welcoming outside the window. We're all getting antsy and just looking forward to school being out for the summer. Only 5 more Sundays until I get to Alberta.. woohoo!!

Anyway, here's a picture of my neighbour Chad and the little old fish that he caught yesterday. It was over 3 feet long and 15 lbs and was it ever tasty! The small fish is what people use for bait up here.. Heh heh, just kidding! The 'bait' was a 2 pounder that someone else had caught. Too funny.

And here's a picture of my other neighbour Todd out with Oliver. Last weekend they all went out ice fishing and took Oliver with them because I was sick. You know, that's one of the coolest things about living here. The friendships you make and the willingness for everyone to lend a hand, even when you don't ask for it. I really appreciate the friends I've made up here and it's pretty amazing that we are all sharing such a unique adventure that not enough people get to experience. Very cool.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hmmm... I've come to the conclusion that Nunavut weather is much more unpredictable than Alberta weather. It's off-and-on for sunshine and feeling cheerful, to snowy/chilly and, well, a wee bit glum. I have to admit that I'm tired of winter at this point. Must mean it's time to get out for a break because all I can think about is going for a walk where there are forests and forests of trees!

But tonight was fun; I was at soccer practice. The little one I work with is in soccer and I really don't think there is anything cuter than a pack of 5-8 yr old kids running after a soccer ball. Rules and skill be damned too. It's all about running, giggling, and having fun. Like sports should be. And because there are so many kids, the gym gets separated into two games width-ways arcoss the gym with teenage volunteers posted between the two to prevent a stray ball from being launched into the other game. Well that's how it's supposed to work anyway. Several times tonight the ball got through the 'wall' and most of the 10 players went racing after it onto the other games play area. The funny thing? The other game didn't even realize they were playing with another ball and extra players! It just became a REALLY BIG soccer game. Man, did I ever laugh.

Anyhow, I'm just sitting here now with a cup of tea and listening to a fantastic CD (big shout out to Young Mathew for that) and I'm loading a pic to show how much snow we've still got left. Not a glorious view I admit, but the view from my living room window none-the-less. Check out that snowbank!

But the curfew siren just went off so it means it's time to hit the sack. Mon - Thurs it goes off at 10 pm and Fri and Sat it goes off at 12 am. It's to let the kiddies know that they should be home in bed and not outside the 12 plex here throwing rocks at the satellite dishes or unplugging wires from the 'Hondas' outside (Honda up here refers to all ATVs and not to the hatchback that comes to mind). :-) Ahh well.