Out There and Lovin’ Every Minute Of It

We’re back!

It’s been a few days since Ian and I were online at home – I still have internet access at work, but it’s work.  I can’t exactly be spending time there writing blogs and the like.  And so we waited.

We were able to attend my department’s Christmas party last weekend as well.  It was a wonderful potluck style dinner where everyone brought something and the food was delicious!  We followed the fantastic meal with dice games.  I’m telling you, I have never had so much fun at a Christmas party, and cannot imagine such games every being played in the south.  There seems to be no ego up here – everyone was involved, including the managers, directors and deputy minister.  We all sat in a circle and threw dice to see who would be able to enter the circle to attempt to win a prize.  The prizes were wrapped in various layers of newspaper and plastic bags, and to open them, you had to put on huge oven mitts, and use plastic knives to cut into the package.  But by the time one put on the gloves or picked up the knives, a new person had rolled the appropriate dice to enter the circle, and you were force to return to the circle to wait for your next chance at the dice.  There are pictures from the party in our Photobucket album, so check them out!

It's a cardboard jungle...

Things have all sort of come together up here in the past week.  We moved into our new apartment on Sunday.  Our personal effects were delivered on Monday.  We’d been unpacking for most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we now have the bulk of our items sorted out, organized and in their rightful places.  Our phone was hooked up on Monday.  We discovered that our satellite tv is working (so there may be an angry phone call made to Bell if they decide to charge me full price for the month that we were not using the television service).  We received our modem on Friday, and are now hooked up online and ready to go.  Like I said, things have come together.

Ian discovering one of our unexpected items...

Our packers did an outstanding job.  All along we heard horror stories of moves to the North.  People told us not to pack anything glass…not to expect everything to show up…to expect to have forklift holes in our boxes…for our boxes to just be crushed or destroyed in some way.  But I have to hand it to our movers.  Every single piece of glass arrived intact.  Most of our boxes were in perfect condition – only a couple had minor dents.  Our dresser had some minor dings at the bottom.  And the only thing missing at this point appears to be a folding step-ladder – that really would have come in handy when organizing the kitchen cupboards!  Regardless, the movers packed EVERYthing in our apartment in Kitchener, and 99.9% of it arrived with no hassles.  Even some half empty bags of chips – but to be fair, we were advised that the packers would not be packing any food items.  Uh…yeah…

We finally feel like Iqaluit’s home.

And so do the Terrible Twosome.  Brit and Jemaine can be found lounging, well…just about anywhere in this apartment.  In our bedroom, we have pushed a dresser against the wall just in front of the window, and both of the cats love to sit on it and look out the window.  I’m not sure what it is they watch – I’m sure they’re intrigued by the giant ravens…or perhaps are just as mesmerized as Ian and I are over the expanse of land that we can see from our window.  They also like to sit on the wide window ledge in our living room.  And sometimes they just sprawl out in the middle of the floor…lazily flipping a tail, or rolling around in complete contentment.  I’m glad that they’ve adjusted so well.  They quite like it here.

Brit being absolutely unhelpful in the unpacking process

Jemaine settling down in record time


As for Ian, he’s been in his glory, faithfully taking pictures of every sunrise and sunset he can capture.  It’s amazing how beautiful the sun can make this place.  The snow just shimmers.  And from our balcony, we have a lovely view.  We can see Koojesse Inlet at the end of Frobisher Bay from here.  Having grown up in Niagara Falls, smack dab in the middle of the Great Lakes basin, being close to water isn’t exactly new to me, but the novelty lies in seeing the water from my home.

Stunning sunrise over the Bay

There is one thing I’ve been dying to tell everyone about since Wednesday.  While sitting at my desk at work on Wednesday morning, my manager came out from his office, visibly antsy.  He had received word that his snowmobile – which had been at the repair shop – was ready to be picked up.  It was also an incredibly beautiful sunny day.  On top of that, I had only been to Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park once since my arrival, and it’s important that I understand the lands that I’ll be mapping.  So he decided that over the lunch hour, we would head over to pick up his snowmobile and then head out to the park so he could show me some of the more pertinent locations where we were attempting to obtain land ownership in order to fully protect the park boundaries.  Since Ian had never been to the park, we decided to pick him up as well, which would require the use of his other snowmobile as well.

The sun on the horizon while snowmobiling at Sylvia Grinnell...

I have never been more frightened in my life…or more exhilarated!  What a feeling it is to be on a snowmobile in Nunavut when the wind is blowing microscopic particles of snow across your face and frostbite is starting to set in.  It was cold that day.  And the wind added to that.  Ian and I were bundled up on one skidoo, following my manager on the other.  I’ve never ridden a snowmobile before, let alone driven one.  After a quick lesson, I quickly began to feel comfortable behind the wheel handlebars of the machine.  We had a few close calls – getting stuck on a massive patch of ice…reversing from the ice to then find ourselves embedded in a deep drift of snow…feeling precariously close to flipping the skidoo on some slight slopes – but we made it through okay.  After dropping off Ian, I followed my manager back to his house to drop off the second machine – up a huge set of fairly steep hills.  When you’re a beginner at snowmobiling, these are not the types of land features you want to encounter.  Especially when the slope you’re on leads to a relatively large rocky cliff over which your snowmobile and you could fall.  Did I mention it was exhilarating?  Snowmobile is currently winning in the potential transportation poll where my options also include ATV or shipping my car to the north.

It’s been an exciting week that contrasted with the winding down that was happening as we made our way to Christmas.  Ian and I wish all of you a merry one.  Be safe and enjoy your holidays!

Merry Christmas from Iqaluit!


An Early Christmas Present

We have a home!  We are moving into a new apartment in about 10 hours, and while it may still be a temporary residence, it is a home nonetheless.  Things are starting to feel a wee bit more permanent as the days go by.

We have a PO Box now (thanks Jordan!).

We shall soon have a phone number and internet service.  Which is sort of why I’m bringing this up here.  Ian and I will be offline for a few days from home.  I may be able to provide some updates, but since it’s doubtful as we’ll have lots to do, we may not be updating the blog for the next little while.  We have loads of pictures to upload, so hopefully those will hit the Photobucket album before we move so you can all have some new stuff to look at in the meantime.  We hope to be back for Christmas, but just in case we’re not…

We wish all our friends, family and random readers that pop by the happiest of holidays – whatever you celebrate.  Be safe out there – we want to see you all when we get back!

Days Go By

Our new (temporary) digs

Ian has been saying to me that it won’t feel real up here until we have a place to live.  Until then, things feel like a vacation.  And although it’s been pretty much a working vacation for us, I feel the same way.  However we’ve certainly been feeling more at home here – especially since we moved from our very crowded studio suite to our much larger and very comfortable one bedroom suite here at the Capital Suites.  I highly recommend this place if you’re planning on visiting Iqaluit for any length of time.  True, hotel accommodations are not inexpensive, but this is probably one of the less costly locations.  If you’re here for an extended amount of time, a full kitchen certainly helps keep food costs down as well.  As Ian and I well know, eating dinner out at least once a day is not only pricey, but frustrating.  Though I have to say that I’m sure the restauranteurs appreciate the business.

Needless to say, a bigger place means that Ian and I don’t have to trip over each other.  Wait, let me correct myself.  It means that Jemaine doesn’t have to trip everyone up when we’re walking around.  Of course, it doesn’t mean anything, because he still sits right under Ian almost all the time when I’m at work, and follows both of us around when he’s not cowering in fear of our parkas under the couch.  I don’t ask to have strange cats…it just happened.

Merry Christmas in four languages at the Legislative Assembly

Our Christmas tree (at least until we have our own place)

Over the past couple of weeks, things have definitely been transforming into the traditional winter wonderland for Christmas.  There is a Christmas decorating contest in town, and if I recall correctly, the winner could possibly win a return ticket to Ottawa.  That’s a huge deal with a return ticket can cost you $1500.  It’s kind of funny how most draws and raffles also lure ticket buyers with this same technique – the return airfare to Ottawa seems to be a welcome prize for most Iqalummiut.  It’s also been nice to see that the Capital Suites has decided to decorate, since we will not be able to do that until we have our own apartment – and our stuff from down south!

This past Saturday was a nice change for us too – we got to check out a craft fair at Inuksuk High School.  Well, we would have been able to check it out if I didn’t think it was running 10 AM to 2 PM instead of 10 AM to 12 PM.  We made it there right around noon, and luckily some vendors were still hanging around.  We missed most of the arts and crafts unfortunately, but there were some food vendors still around.  We got some good advice from one of the vendors – whenever you have the chance to buy homemade goods in Iqaluit, take it!  It’s not that often that you can find baked goods for such reasonable prices…and they’re oh so good!  Ian and I made off like bandits with two bricks of mozzarella cheese – one stuffed with dill, the other with horseradish, snowballs (coconut-covered cocoa goodies), and a huge cherry pie.  Surprisingly, the cherry pie has lasted until today – that’s five days if you’re counting – and if you know me at all, you know that’s pretty darn good.  Cherries are my weakness.  So I’m about to go put that pie out of its misery right about now.

Nom! Nom! Nom!

…and then along came Winter.

So having mocked our dear friends and family in their south over their snowfall hardships, Old Man Winter sneezed last night and let Suzanne and I know he’s beginning to stir. For the first time since we got here the temperature finally dipped well below freezing. It was nothing comparable to the bone-chilling temperatures the dear folks out at Baker Lake had to deal with, it still served notice to the both of us that this is real deal cold. I finally had a chance to break out my parka. As I set out to go meet Suzanne at Inuksugait I was met by some pretty vicious wind hitting me dead on the entire walk. The snow was lightly falling but with the wind gusts it felt like I was being sandblasted. I couldn’t tell if I was leaking out my nose or if it was just the snow melting on my facial fuzz but whatever it was froze into little ice clumps on my ‘stache. As I trudged along my glasses (which are scratched already and my only usable pair at the moment) fogged up only a block into the walk. I could hear almost inaudible crackling coming from around the frame so rather than risk my lenses popping out I had to remove my glasses and tuck them away.

This was only -17 c folks with a wind chill in the mid -20’s.

It was at that moment, as I had coyote fur whipping into my eyes that I realized this isn’t even a taste of what’s to come. That’s fine with me. I’d rather ease into this brutal cold like an old man getting into a warm bath rather than be violently introduced to some frigid -40 c or -50 c temperatures right off the bat. No I’m absolutely not regretting coming up here. In fact that taste of the cold invigorated me quite a bit. i was going a little batty being stranded in this bloody hotel for going on 3 weeks now so any chance I get to go outside – even if it’s wicked out – I take advantage of.

I have to say there definitely is a noticeable difference in the type of cold it is. It’s hard to explain. I’ve been told this is a polar desert region. If that means anything like it sounds (cuz I’m a doof and don’t get Suzanne’s geography terms most of the time) that’s pretty much exactly what it feels like. While it is snowing and what not, it feels exceptionally dry. I know… it’s contradictory but it’s something you have to experience in order to understand. Those who are used to that usual wet, humid winter snow will notice the difference right off the bat. Either way, the wind is what defines the cold up here. I went for a stroll to the NorthMART this morning to go grab a coffee and doughnut as well as some cat food for the monsters and I didn’t even need my parka this time. while it was -20c or so outside when I left, the wind wasn’t kicking around much at all so I was basically able to just throw my usual layered getup on and be fine. It’s cold out there but not bad at all. I even managed to wander back down to the coast before going to the store. The bay is finally starting to freeze and looks downright awesome. I snapped a couple of shots of the beautiful sunrise on the horizon form my usual favorite spot. The sights alone are enough to inspire…

I love the way the clouds just hang there...

I hope we keep getting sunrises like this...

My favorite boat spot...

As always, remember to visit the Photobucket Iqaluit Photo Diary to see all the pictures we take including the unpublished ones we don’t end up posting here.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Wait…No it’s Not!

It’s December 5th today.  I now live near the Arctic Circle.  Much of southern Ontario has experienced its typical lake effect snow dumpings over the past week.  Buffalo, NY had traffic at a standstill on the I-90 for 12-24 hours the other day.  The prairie provinces have been experiencing temperatures around -25° C for what must be about a month now.  Europe is losing its mind due to snow and cold temperatures.

So why is it that when Ian and I go for a walk on the weekend in early December in Iqaluit, that we are able to wear this?

Warning! You are not dressed warm enough for the Arctic!

Caution! High winds may sweep you off your feet!


We at least partially expected that at this point, we’d be considering pulling out some extra layers, if not already the parkas.

But yet, here we are…still wandering around town with our southern Canada winter wear.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m okay with this.  I would much rather ease myself into the weather that’s on its way for January through March.  It’s just very unexpected.  And from what the locals have been telling us, this is not normal – at all.  There has been so much melting of snow and ice during the day, and refreezing of the meltwater during the night, that Iqaluit has been covered in a rather dangerous layer of slippery ice since we arrived here two weeks ago.  There has been a lot of laughter as Ian and I make our way through town, trying desperately not to fall flat every single night.

The word is that we are expecting temperatures to drop significantly in the next week.  We’ll likely see some more snow to cover the frozen layers, and once the temperatures are cold enough for long enough, sea ice should finally begin to form in Frobisher Bay.  Until then, we really don’t know what to expect in our new home.  But we’re prepared for it at least.  Perhaps the weather is holding out long enough for us to try to move into a temporary home!

Here’s some more pictures from our walk this weekend!

Sled dogs waiting for their meal

Looking out towards Frobisher Bay

Hills in the distance

A beautiful afternoon sunset...

Techincal Difficulties – Not a Nunavut Post – BEWARE (resolved)

EDIT: Update – The issue with this theme not showing images in tables properly has been resolved by the theme creator (with the help of WP support)  due to my steadfast persistence in badgering the powers that be. This post will eventually be removed or archived to avoid confusion.

Warning – If you’re here expecting a post that’s about a wonderful story or photography centering around the Iqaluit experience, this is not a read for you. This is a pseudo-rant / demonstration about the technical difficulties revolving around a  previous post of mine, this WordPress theme and the notorious Internet exploiter (aka Internet Explorer).

It was brought to my attention the other day that the post I made – The Roof is on Fire! – had some issues with the images that were being displayed or more rather, weren’t being displayed. I rarely use the storage space allotted here for images. I typically upload my images to Photobucket.com and link them to my posts. I’ve never encountered issues doing that here in the past until now. It seems to be that there is a perfect storm of events preventing certain coding tricks I use on here to not work in this particular blog. The first element of this freak event is Internet Explorer.

As a web designer I hate Internet Explorer. It’s the bane of my existence. It’s garbage and has it’s own set of rules and restrictions regarding how web elements are displayed. Most other browsers (such as Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and even Safari) follow along a similar programming model that displays everything the same way using web standard coding. IE uses Microcrap programming that forces you to employ exemptions exclusively for it. Bitching aside, the short of it is I use Firefox more often than not to not only post here but design as well. When I first posted the article, all of the images showed up properly in the editing module as well as the preview in Firefox. I use HTML tables to display my picture elements because they’re easy to manipulate here with some CSS and keeps everything nice and tidy. WordPress’ gallery option isn’t very customizable so I use this method in my personal blog often.

Here comes test #1. I checked my Mental Wasteland page in both Internet Explorer 8 and the latest version of Firefox. The images I have displayed there are in CSS manipulated tables. The pictures of my artwork are hosted on WordPress servers. The two pictures of the sink faucets way at the bottom I just added today and are linked from Photobucket and are in a table as well. Everything shows up fine in both browsers (for me at least).

Below are the exact same two picture of the faucet in the same table model I used over there. I only copy & pasted coding folks. no additional tweaking:

If you can’t see the table with the images above that’s probably because you’re using IE. I was logged into WordPress in both Internet Explorer & Firefox while writing this just so I could preview changes in both browsers. While Firefox displays the table with the images just fine, surprise surprise, Internet Explorer didn’t. Now I could be totally wrong about all of this which is why I would appreciate it very much if people would chime in with their visual experiences to all of this. My professional conclusion is that there’s something buggy about the theme we’re using here. It’s called “Andrea” by Lucian E. Marin. The theme used on my blog is Modularity Lite by Thad Allender. Considering both blogs are using the same exact piece of coding it leads me to believe it’s something to do with the CSS styling written for this particular theme. Like I said though I could be wrong.

Anyways let me know what you come up with so I know whether I have a legitimate complaint to bring forward or not. I prefer to exhaust all of my avenues of testing before I get to complaining. My reason for posting this here and not in my own blog is because my dang images work there. I just feel bad that people who were expecting images in this blog couldn’t see them properly because they choose to roll with an inferior browser so my apologies. The sooner I get this sorted out the quicker I can find a workaround for all you Explorer users out there… that or we’ll be ditching this theme.


PS…the spelling error in the title is intentional.