Twilight

I know we promised more updates and random observations but once again I’ve neglected this blog in favor of spewing my thought vomit all over my other blog. I can’t just post anything over here. It’s a hump I can’t seem to get across. It was easy to babble on when we first arrived because there were so many new experiences and sights. That’s not to say it’s become uninteresting now. Far from. We’ve just become so immersed in the town that we’re not only far busier than we’ve ever been but are starting to take for granted some of the things we see and hear because they seem “common” now. I keep forgetting that this blog is primarily geared towards those who haven’t been up here, plan on coming up here or just want to know what it’s like up here.

I had a busy week at the shelter last week. The Katimavik volunteers were off and the regular IHS membership had to fill the gaps. I can’t stress how much disarray ensues whenever they’re not around. Those who don’t know about what the Katimavik program is all about I invite you to read up about them. They are an amazing group of young people (gah… did I just refer to them as young people like old people do…) who are the life blood of this community’s volunteer efforts. They do tons of backbreaking work for virtually every event and not-for-profit organization in the city and to be quite honest I don’t know how things would get done without them. With that said with them off and our illustrious leader Janine out of town on business, those that remained had to pick up the slack.

We live literally a construction yard’s walk away from the shelter so armed with a key to get in now I covered a week and a half’s worth of shifts over there. There are 4 primary shifts – 8am, 12pm, 5:30pm and 9:30pm – and I managed to try my hand at each one, sometimes multiple times in one day. Let’s just say that by the tail end of my tour of duty I learned about as much as I could about the whole operational procedure and was dead exhausted. The shelter has some really great people who volunteer so you’re almost guaranteed to meet people you’re bound to get along with. I mean how bad can people who love doggies and volunteer their free time to tend to them be, right?

I was starting to lose track of days after a while. When you work till 10:30pm one night and go in again at 7am the next day and it looks exactly the same outside, it starts to play tricks on your mind. I absolutely love it up here but the one obstacle I seem to be having the most difficult time overcoming is the whole Endless Day thing. I had reservations about it prior to coming up but it’s nearly impossible to account for how it will affect you mentally unless you experience it first hand. It’s not even that bad right now and I’m feeling like a space case. The month of June marks Hell Month for me because we’ll be marching our way towards the longest day in the history of mankind (or something like that).

It’s hard to explain the dementia that results from the sun being the annoying houseguest that won’t go away. I can sleep just fine with it being light outside. That’s not a problem whatsoever. It’s when I’m awake that the psychosis sets in. It’s incredibly hard (for me at least) to ween myself off the southern Ontario “it’s supposed to get dark at night” mindset and as a result my body just keeps forcing me to stay up throughout the night sometimes. I think I chose to overwork myself at the shelter in the hope of tiring myself out so I can get on some kind of a regular sleeping schedule, but it only served to dislodge my pattern further. I can’t say this is an issue I can’t overcome and it certainly isn’t something that’ll make me regret coming here. This place is far too intriguing to have something as miniscule as insanity thwart me.

However I wanted those who really can’t visualize the whole concept to see what we see. I took some time-lapsed pictures of the night (ha ha) sky over an 8 hour period last night. The only setting I had on the camera was Auto ISO. The shots are taken from our balcony with the first one at 8pm and the last being 3am.  I’ll do this once again on June 22nd – 23rd and we can compare the changes.

N-joy

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Toonik Tyme Wrap-up – The “Better Late Than Never” Edition

After a week and a half of being fairly sick, and then being forced to recover from the results of a disappointing election, I am finally back to sum up – as promised – our first experience with Toonik Tyme.  I have also been significantly shamed into getting my fingers back on the keyboard, so thanks for that Ian.  😉  If you read this blog just for the pictures, then you’re in luck.  Ian has advised me that we uploaded about 90 new shots from the festival in Iqaluit that heralds the coming of spring.

Stage at the Opening Ceremonies

The festival was heralded in through the use of the opening ceremonies.  Many of the larger events were being held at the Curling Rink, and this was no exception.  From what Ian and I could see, there was a great turnout.  Plenty of people were volunteering to help out with upcoming events and all volunteers got this lime green t-shirt.  Can’t miss a person in this thing!  We had planned on helping out at a few events, and so grabbed our shirts that night so we’d be ready.

The opening ceremonies began with the lighting of the traditional qulliq by a local elder.  She told us a lovely anecdote about how stinky seal oil can be when it’s old – apparently it was old that night, because she wasn’t impressed by the smell at all.  We finally got to experience Inuit throat singing!  It’s traditionally performed by Inuit girls or women, almost as a game.  The two women face each other and sing back and forth, attempting to make the other laugh.  I’m glad we got to see it, as it’s something to experience for yourself for sure.  We have a couple of videos of some of the singers.  I’ll try to get some of them uploaded at some point.  But let’s just say that the internet up here leaves something to be desired when it comes to uploading videos.

There were a number of throat singing acts, including a woman from Nunavut who partnered up with a woman from Finland (if I recall correctly) for a mix of Inuit throat singing with Joik – a traditional singing style of the Sámi people.  The Sámi are the arctic indigenous people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.  We were also treated to local singer Aaju Peter, as well as some exchange students in Iqaluit. Unfortunately my memory is hazy on names and places, and we must have thrown out the schedule for the night.  Boo!

Throat singers

Folk singing with Aaju Peter

Friday night was Northern Bands night at the Cadet Hall.  There is some amazing talent in this little city of ours.  We were very happy to be introduced to Josh Qaumariaq, Michael Doyle, Jordan Grenke, and so many other talented musicians.  I wish I could remember them all, but they were all amazing.  It makes me want to get into playing music again!
 

Josh Qaumariaq & his band - this guy's voice...INCREDIBLE blues singer!

Mike Doyle & friends...a VERY talented bunch!

Saturday was by far our busiest day.  We were in line for the craft show at 9 AM for its 10 AM start on the very good advice of a friend.  The show was full of all kinds of vendors.  Food, clothing, traditional art and carvings, fur, coffee…something for everyone!  I easily got waylaid by the first table we passed – it was filled with cheese!  There were so many tables there that we barely got to see everything.  The crowd quickly made its way into the Curling Rink and people were everywhere.  We picked up a few gifts for people and some more goodies for ourselves and were off.

Missy and Sileema manning the St. Jude’s booth – raising money to finish rebuilding the church…

Following the craft show, we headed back out for some of the outdoor events.  We didn’t get to see everything that was going on that day.  There were so many events…snowmobile races, igloo building, ice carving, barbecues, dogsled races.  So much to do, and not enough time to do it all!

Ian and the large arctic char that now resides in our freezer

Carving ice sculptures in the cold

Ian...seconds after biting into a frozen burger

After a quick nap, Ian and I headed back to the Curling Rink for the annual “big band” night. Every year, a band from down south is flown in to perform. The White Stripes have been here. Last year it was The Trews. This year, a band out of Hamilton, Ontario graced us with their presence…The Reason. We volunteered at the event. Ian got to handle security, and I manned the door, taking tickets. It was a great night, and we ended up being able to watch the band once all of the volunteer duties were complete. And of course, in my usual groupie ways, I snuck in a picture of myself with the singer, Adam. All in all, we had a great night! Live music is so much fun!

Ian with the boys in security

The Reason rocking Iqaluit

Suzanne playing groupie with Adam White of The Reason

After a very late night cleaning up from the show, we were back at it again in the morning. This time, we were helping to sell tickets at the Toonik Tyme Hockey Tournament. The proceeds were going to the Iqaluit Humane Society, and we ended up raising $2000 for our efforts. The hockey tournament featured teams from across Nunavut and Nunavik. We were there on the championship day, during the semi-final games. It was very busy, and we met a tonne of people, including some really helpful kids. So cute!

Two of our little helpers at the hockey tournament

Sunday was unfortunately the end of our Toonik Tyme adventures. We wanted to get back out for the closing ceremonies, but both of us ended up feeling pretty sick that night. It’s too bad, as I heard it was quite good, with more performers similar to the opening night.

So there you have it. Finally. We’re looking forward to Toonik Tyme next year. In fact, I’ve already started making inquiries about being a part of the board. It’s great to be a part of things in this city, and when it comes down to it, the best way to do that is to volunteer. Happy spring everyone!

Dusting off the cobwebs

I’d like to apologize on behalf of the both of us treating this blog like an old VCR. That was certainly not our intention and it’s absolutely unfair to the family and friends who have been waiting to hear about things going on up here. We have uploaded lots of pictures in our absence so check them out if you haven’t already. There’s an unwritten blogging etiquette that is shown when you share a blog – at least with us. While Suzanne and I are super competitive with one another it also serves as a motivational tool for the other to write. Unfortunately we both hit the brick wall at the same time and have been stuck in writing limbo for this blog for some time now. I had agreed to let her write the wrap up for Toonik Tyme and Easter but it’s been on her drawing board for weeks now. I’m not trying to use her as an excuse or anything (yes I am…hehe) but I didn’t want to jump in front of her and start posting about stuff she’s drafting and force her to do even more rewriting.

Am I not the poster child of courtesy? ;p

So that’s what brings me to this dancing-around-the-past-month-faux-update-apology-post. Unlike our personal blogs where we have the propensity to rant, ramble and babble on a whim neither of us can bring ourselves to just do “random thought” posts here. It’s not our style. Who wants to hear Seinfeld-ish stories about daily activities? I know some could tolerate it but I know how I feel when I come across other people’s mindless daily dribble and I get turned off immediately. Who knows. I’m probably screaming hypocrisy right now by rambling on… but at least it has a point.

Sort of.

2 weeks from now will mark our 6th month up here (give or take a day or two). Time really has flashed by. I really hadn’t even contemplated it until Suzanne brought it up the other day. Doesn’t seem like that long but then again I’ve been away from family and friends most of my adult life so it’s an easy transition for me. I imagine it must be a totally different story for Suzanne. I know this is by far the longest she’s been without physical contact with her immediate family – ever. I can’t speak for her but she’s appears to be handling it well for the most part. Thank goodness for Skype.

We’ve found ourselves far more – what’s the term … oh yeah  socially active – up here than we ever were down south. Not that we were recluses or anything (well me maybe but not Suzanne) but we simply didn’t interact with people that much back in Kitchener. Sure we made the rounds, hung out when invited but I’ll be damned if I could remember the last time we hosted a get-together. If I recall correctly we invited our former landlord’s real estate agent over for a barbecue mean like 2 or 3 years ago. How pathetic is that? Not that he was bad company or anything. In fact he’s a great guy but it just went to show you that being socially active down there wasn’t high on the priority ladder.

Different story up here.

I’m totally out of my element. We’ve hosted more parties and pop-overs the past 6 months than we have collectively as a couple – and that’s spanning 13 some odd years. It’s weird for me with the whole “not liking people in general” chip I have on my shoulder but it’s very, very, very difficult to be anti-social in Iqaluit. It’s not as tiny as some of the other cities and communities up here but small enough where you can’t not know people. It happens. People will literally just start talking to you out of the blue as if you’ve been buddies for ages. It’s kinda cool actually. Yeah, I know, that’s a bombshell coming from I-hate-everyone Ian but it’s true. It takes the edge off knowing people are very forthcoming around here. I’m not trying to paint a picture of a happy elfy paradise where everyone gets along and we all dance around the boulder made of sweet sweet candy. No. There are douches and ***holes up here just like anywhere else. The difference is they tend to keep to themselves and don’t infect the rest of the community with their bad vibes.

We’re into some community organizations now. As mentioned before we’re both doing work with the Iqaluit Humane Society. I’ve even got a few shifts under my belt at the shelter now in addition to being in the final stages of building the website. I even managed to drag Suzanne down there and introduce her to some of the pups currently there. Needless to say she fell in love with a few (if not all) of them. We’re also hooked up with the Iqaluit Greenhouse Society. She’s even a member of the board with them. Yup. That’s how things work up here. Doesn’t matter if you’re here for 6 months or 6 years. If you are proactive there’s always a need and always opportunity. I won’t steal too much of her thunder there though. I’m sure she’ll want to delve a bit more into her new position in a later post.

They’re starting to play the “get off the stage music” for me so I guess I should wrap this up. It’s May 11th and we’ve had only 2 days where the temperature has been above 1c (but not higher than 3c). That’s not a bad thing. It beats the bone chilling cold that we endured over the latter half of the winter. Like I’ve said so many times before, the temperature is vastly different up here. I don’t know if it’s because we’re becoming acclimatized or what but -1 here feels like 10c down south. I went to the post office the other day with my spring jacket wide open, no gloves and a ball cap and felt overly warm. It was weird because snow flakes were dancing down at the time as well just adding to the puzzlement.  Regardless as beautiful as Iqaluit is in the winter and what I’ve heard it’s like in the summer what the brochures (are there brochures?) don’t tell you is what a sloppy mud bowl it is in the spring.

Should have listened to Missy and got rain boots…

Bye for now!