Catching Up

Yes family, friends and other people who follow this blog we are truly sorry for going on a blogging sabbatical for the past year and change. No worries though, we’re slowly getting things back up to snuff. As you’ve probably noticed we have a new header to commemorate the Return to Active Blogging. It’s easier said than done but alas, I figured I’d put a challenge in front of us to get us back into the groove. We’ve grown so incredibly Facebook-lazy that we’ve neglected the masses who aren’t even on there.

So as 2013 rolls along we’re going to try to make this a viable resource once again. As a token of our determination I’ve revamped our picture diary and arranged it into years so that you don’t have to plow through tons of pictures at once. We still do take a ridiculous amount of pictures though. Now that we have a new DSLR camera I expect us to double that amount in 2013. When last we left off uploading pictures there was around 300 of them. There’s over 600 pictures now combined from all the galleries!

If you think uploading that many pictures is easy, try doing it on the InterNot. Not a fun experience. 馃檪

Enjoy and stay tuned for more content in the near future!

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Two Years Down…

Ian and I haven’t blogged on here for almost a full year.聽 Sorry about that.聽 I guess life’s been keeping us busy.聽 We’ll try to update with a year-end summary (though, here are some pics in case we fail at that).

But until that happens, you should all know that two days ago marked an important anniversary for us.聽 That’s right…on November 22, 2010, we began our new life in Iqaluit and I honestly don’t think that either of us knew what was in store for us, or if we’d make it to see two years here.

I’m proud to say that we have.聽 We’re going into our third winter, about to celebrate our third Christmas in the arctic.聽 Despite some bumps along the way, we’ve truly prospered personally up here.聽 It’s been an amazing journey in an amazing place and I don’t think we’d hesitate to do it again.

We’re also now considered to be some of the old-timers up here these days.聽 Only in Iqaluit, huh?

Skiers on Frobisher Bay, February 25, 2012

Department of Environment IQ Day – Snowmobiling and Ice Fishing northwest of Iqaluit, April 2012

Kobo聽Town on stage at Alianait Arts Festival, July 2012

Just a typical Iqaluit going away bonfire, July 2012

Suzanne showing off the immense pieces of ice on the tidal flats of Koojesse Inlet, August 2012

The Prince of Monaco visiting the Iqaluit Community Greenhouse, September 2012

Sunrise in Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012

Canada Parks Day

So the streak of volunteering continues. We spent this past Saturday helping out at the Canada Parks Day celebration at Sylvia Grinnell Park. The gods were happy that day my friends. They graced us with beautiful weather for the entire 5 hour outdoor event. Clear skies, bright sun and lots of wind (which translated to a reprieve from the mosquito assault… for a little while at least).

I took to the grilling duties promptly at 11am just as the first wanderers started appearing. Burgers and hotdogs were on the menu and with the weather behaving itself we were expecting a crowd. While Suzanne manned the table, taking and dishing out orders, I cooked like there was no tomorrow. I’m no stranger to the grill but I never had to contend with a line up before. It can be quite an overwhelming experience even with pair barbeques and cooks. I admit, a couple burgers may have been still been mooing when they left the fire, but for the most part people were satisfied and came back for seconds, thirds and even fourths. Once we caught on that “cooked till it’s crispy” and “with cheese” were the popular cooking preferences of most, we were belting them out like a conveyor belt. I got into such a rhythm that I didn’t even realize 2 and a half hours passed. I had a feeling I’d been there for a while when I finally stepped away and noticed my forearm fur was singed and my glasses were coated with a nice layer of beef juice. Finally when there was a lull in customers we got relieved and had a chance to enjoy some of the festival from the other side of the barbecue.

The park changed a lot since we were last there. It was much greener and the river was no longer ice choked. The angry rapids and twin waterfalls could be seen all the way from the pavilion making it an undeniably enticing destination. We made our way down the hill to the river bed and traversed the rocky shoreline. It’s a wicked workout but my goodness, don’t be dumb like us and do it in running shoes. Nevertheless we weren’t going to let a little thing like a potential catastrophic wipeout prevent us from exploring. When we finally reached the sandy beach – yes we have sandy beaches just like the south up here – it kind of put things back into perspective about how new we actually are to this area. I personally have been lost in a whirlwind of volunteering the past couple of months. So much so that I started to lose sight of the fact that there is still so much to see, hear, taste, feel and experience up here. Standing on an outcropping of rocks taking pictures of almost intoxicatingly furious waterfall was a real treat that’s been burnt into my memories.

It was especially unforgettable when I mistook a rock formation for a polar bear. I was about a hundred yards from Suzanne and out of her line of sight so thankfully I only embarrassed myself with my sheer and utter panic. Don’t mock me! I didn’t have my prescription shades on and I SWEAR the damn thing looked like a bear that was looking in my general direction. Despite all that Suzanne tried to inform me about dealing with them, I wasn’t about to stick around and try any of them out. In my defense though I did show some balls and snapped a picture before I bounced. The way I saw it was if I’m gonna get eaten I may as well take a snap of it. ;p

We even decided to further our nooblicious experience by walking around barefoot in the water. Yup. Mark off yet another thing I thought I’d never do in my life time. Yeah okay so we didn’t go far out and it was an inlet of shallow water that was slightly warmed by the sun. So what? I walked in arctic water! That’s all it’s going to say on my life’s resume. ;p

It turned out to be yet another great day with a lot of familiar faces. There was children’s face painting, a scavenger hunt, a bannock competition, traditional tea tasting and food galore. Best of all though there was just good old-fashioned hanging out. Nothing beats just drinking in a magnificent day with your buddies.

We’ve uploaded a ton of pictures to the Photo Diary. I’ve been terribly lax in updating but with good reason. We’ve just been so busy running around that I just didn’t have any time to do it. Regardless there’s over 250 new pics there now dating all the way back to the infamous night of Fondue Debauchery. Some you’ll recognize from some of our posts but many haven’t been revealed until now.

Enjoy!

…and then they came.


Mos路qui路to [muh-skee-toh]: any of numerous dipteran flies of the family Culicidae that have a rather narrow abdomen, usually a long slender rigid proboscis, and narrow wings with a fringe of scales on the margin and usually on each side of the wing veins, that have in the male broad feathery antennae and mouthparts not fitted for piercing and in the female slender antennae and a set of needlelike organs in the proboscis with which they puncture the skin of animals to suck the blood.

I路qal路u路it Mos路qui路to [ee-kal-oo-we muh-skee-toh]: any of the numerous demonspawn creatures that terrorize the city of Iqaluit every summer, that are equipped with lancets that impale humans and animals and suck them dry leaving only shrivelled husks behind.

Since this is a shared blog I’ll try to curb my tongue for the greater good of the viewing audience. However when talking about the subject of mosquitoes here in Iqaluit, I may lose myself so I apologize ahead of time.

I remember hearing about them since day one. Everything from how big they were to how they swarm. I heard a particularly funny reference about them that went聽 In the summer, if you hear a helicopter… it’s not always a helicopter. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Besides, I’d been camping more times than I can count. How bloody different could a mosquito be?

I should have had a clue about things to come based on the size of the pterodactyl sized ravens up here. Not to beat a drum to death by saying what’s been said a million times over by now but for those who don’t know be afraid. Be very afraid.

I swear I never in my life seen anything like these things. I’m used to normal skeeters. You know the annoying gnat-sized bugs that you can swat away. First of all these creepy bastards are about the size of houseflies. Batting them away only angers them. Don’t bother using chemicals or sprays either. It only makes gets high and they get really violent then. They’re notorious pack hunters as well. If you stand still for more than 2.4 seconds you’ll be engulfed in the blink of an eye.

Speaking of eyes, they fight dirty as well. They’ll impale (not pierce, puncture or sting) any bit of exposed flesh you have if you give them the opportunity to. I got bit on my eyebrow, my cheek, my ears and my knuckles. Who the f**k bites a knuckle? Honestly? The back of my neck is feels like Braille and probably reads like a Tourettes rant.

They lulled me into a false sense of security. With the longest day behind us I thought that the tales were exaggerated. Summer was in full bloom. The days were sunny and warm and the nights cool and crisp. But then it rained.

And then it rained again.

And again.

That’s when they started to appear. They sent their scouts first. They wanted to know what Grade A New York dark meat tasted like. I mocked them as I crushed them in my hands. I made a fatal error though. I didn’t kill all of them. Some returned to their base of operations and gave their leadership a sample of what they imbibed. Weeks later they descended upon the city of Iqaluit like a swarm of locust. The sad part of it all is this is just the beginning according to many I’ve spoken with. If that truly is the case I’m not spending any extended time frolicking outside till I get the hell out of here in August. Bad enough I’m tormented by a never setting sun but now I have to deal with mutant bugs that are hankering for a hunk of Ian. Greeeeat.

I’m kind of regretting signing up to volunteer for Parks Day this coming Saturday. I’ll be working the grill but I think I’m going to be the meal…

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聽 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.聽 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!

Wings, New Yorkers, Dogs, and a Jolie

Yeah. There hasn’t been a post here in a while. We’re well aware of that. Truth be told it’s been an unholy combination of not much to report with a dash of not feeling like writing anything. I’m not a traditional blogger by any stretch of the imagination. I’m an angry blogger. My most lucid work comes as a result of mounds of stress. When we were trapped in a studio apartment at the Capitol Suites with no set destination slated at the end of our tenure – I wrote a lot. When we finally locked down a temporary place but had to move all the stuff we had on hand, plus the Wonder Twins and get prepared for the arrival of the rest of our belongings – I wrote a lot. However, as we’ve settled in and are getting quite familiar with our surroundings, the pace up here and getting used to the general mellow vibe of northern living we’ve grown increasingly complacent.

That’s not so much of a bad thing per say. It’s bad for the people who are waiting to hear fascinating updates on here. For that we apologize. It’s far more relaxing than I could have ever anticipated and while I can’t say it’s not stressful up here, it’s just a different type of stress. So different, in fact, that I haven’t had the proverbial chip on my shoulder for quite a while. It’s usually that chip that speaks to me and prompts me to write here or on my own blog. Without him I struggle in justifying what is “post worthy”. Who wants to hear about everyday dribblings from a web designer in the arctic? It sounds like a bad CBC special.

In any case, I’ll fill you in on some tidbits to keep you up to date…

Ian the Weather Man

In such a small township it’s almost impossible for me to fly under the radar like I normally do. Case in point, I was heading to the Post Office a few weeks back during one of our cold snaps. It was about -31c or so without the wind chill. Maybe -40c with. Basically it was eyeball freezing cold. Yes. I said eyeball freezing. If you walk into a steady breeze for a while on a day like that you can literally feel you eyeballs start locking in place. Anyways, as I get to the steps I’m intercepted by the local CBC reporter. I can’t remember her name for the life of me. I was kind of stymied having a camera pointing at me for the first time ever not to mention the fact that I suck at remembering names anyway. She kindly asked me if I’d like to announce the local weather. I stared blankly at her through my perscription sunglasses and sheepishly blurted out “Uhh.. okay. What do I do?”

She told me that all I had to do is say my name, where I was and “Here’s your local weather”.

I was a deer caught in the headlights. I held the mic and stared through the cameraman waiting for his signal. When he gave me the green light I quickly snapped back into reality and rattled out “Hi. I’m Ian Etheridge and I’m here in Iqaluit… and it’s really cold! Here’s your local weather.” With a point of my finger I shot it back to the studio… or at least that was what I was envisioning in my mind. The cameraman snickered and told me it was perfect. They both thanked me for my participation and let me be on my way. I have no idea if I made it on TV or not. I told Suzanne about my afternoon experience and we tried to catch the local news but finding that in Bell’s array of non-sensical programming is near impossible. We tried to catch it online (since they archive all their daily news shows) but alas, we were again thwarted by the Internot. If you’re interested in trying to find me go to the CBC News North website and try checking out their archived local news from January (possibly the 18th but I can’t recall).

The Iqaluit Humane Society

Suzanne and I decided to put our selves out there by volunteering at the shelter. I don’t know if you can quite call it volunteering in the traditional sense since neither of us are doing any kind of animal handling but we are volunteering our services to help them on the communications, advertising and marketing end. Sub-par communications is the greatest adversary of virtually every business and/or government branch up here. It’s even more rampant in organizations that run off聽 volunteers who do what they do out of the kindness of their hearts. When Suzanne first told me that she’d been in contact with some of the people who run the shelter I was stoked. It’s no secret that I love animals – even more so than people at times – so anything I could do to help I was in for. That comes in the form of re-inventing the shelter’s image and making it more of a prominent visual figure in the community. That’s where my web design skills come in handy. I’m in the process of reconstructing their website and enhancing the way volunteers communicate with one another. It’ll be one tool of many to help put the IHS back on the map. We’re even going to establish a Facebook presence to keep people up to date with local events and fundraisers. Social media and net presence will help the IHS reach the untapped resources of the net community. It’s not an easy task to undertake, especially pro bono. I’ve got pay-projects already on the go so there’s no set time-table for when everything will be completed but we are making headway. The only downside to all of this is that I run on New York time and everyone up here runs on Iqaluit time so things only get done as fast as I’m given information. Nevertheless keep checking back every so often. You never know what you might find.

Wing Night in Iqaluit

Last Wednesday Missy decided to treat Suzanne and I to a time-honored tradition here in Iqaluit – Wednesday Wing night at the Storehouse. I’d heard much about it in the couple of months we’ve been here but haven’t had an opportunity to check it out till now. Wing Night is a raucous event. Not because the wings are so spectacular, but because the prices are so good – even for up here. 10 wings for $5. That’s a deal you can’t even find down south without digging.聽 Now you match those prices up with the fact that it’s WEDNESDAY Wing Night (meaning Wednesday is the only time you’re gonna get some good priced wings in town) you have the makings of a lineup that rivals that of one to the bathroom at halftime of a hockey playoff game.

Since The Miss is our go-to Queen of All Things Iqaluit she got us there early so we wouldn’t have to be waiting in line for the entire night. While standing there conversing amongst ourselves, I hear a voice faintly ask one of us something. It sounded like Are you from New York?. I looked down at my chest and realized I had on my circa 1950 old school New York Giants sweatshirt so I looked around and saw where the question had come from. A parka clad gentlemen in front of us smiled and asked the question again, to which I replied “Yup… well me at least.”

He quickly retorted with a “Me too”.

Go figure. I find a fellow New Yorker way the hell up here in the arctic. Two New Yorkers walk into a bar in Iqaluit. Sounds like the start of an awful joke, eh? We immediately welcomed him into our group as we marched in with the second wing night wave of people. All of us ended up hanging out by the fireplace, scarfing down wings and trading stories for a few hours. Brad is an awesome dude and I promised him I’d post about the utterly random encounter. What I didn’t tell him was that I was going to shamelessly promote his business as well. He and his wife run a Wedding and Event Photography business called Gold Sky Media LLC. It’s based in New York (obviously) and they do really awesome work. I highly recommend you check out their site and take a gander at some of their work.

It ended up being a really enjoyable night full of surprises and firsts. It’s moments like that you can’t make up and end up talking about for the rest of your life. Not to mention the fact that I got to spend the night with Angelina Jolie.

But that’s another story… ;p

The Jolie even thew up gang signs

 

Quote the raven, never more…

Street toughs aren't the only gangs to watch out for...

You hear about them in virtually any northern blog but you really can’t comprehend it until you actually see one (or a bloody flock of them). I remember when we first touched down and were loading our boxes onto the flatbed of the truck, this large vulture-like creature swooped down and buzzed me. It didn’t come that close to me at all but it sounded like it did because I could hear its wings flap as it went by. I thought to myself “WTF? I didn’t know hawks were up here”.

You see, being the zoologically challenged and environmentally isolated person I am, the only experience I had with any kind of large birds came in the form of hawks that fly high overhead whenever we went to parks or wherever. They were often too far to see distinctly but based on their altitude you could assume they had some size because of their visibility.聽 So, having been air-raided by this avian I grew concerned for a moment. I wondered if being dive bombed by large predatory birds was a common thing up here. That put no sense of ease in my heart. Lo and behold, Mark snickered and told me that it was “just a raven”.

Just a raven.

There is no just about these mutants. They’re huge. They’re intimidating and they make weird un-birdlike sounds. I’ve heard them vocalize everything from beeps and聽 honks to pseudo-barks and screeches. The smallest one I’ve seen is about the size of our largest cat (and he’s pushing 18 or 19 lbs) and the largest looked like a terradactyl. Okay… so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the sucker was still huge. When they’re gathered together having their bird conferences, they’re a force to be reckoned with.聽 Heck about a month back I was strolling along the outskirts of the airport taking pictures, when I came across a gully full of them. There had to have been about a dozen or so hanging out there drinking alcohol and throwing up gang signs with their wings. I’m pretty certain one of them said something derogatory towards me.聽 I know when it’s opportune to avoid potentially dangerous situations so I tactfully crossed over to the other side of the road and continued on my way.

Let’s just say that the ravens of the North are no joke. While I can’t confirm whether they’re truly aggressive or not, I’m not willing to gamble on engaging a flock of them on my own. To anyone thinking about coming up here there’s nothing to fear about them though. There’s an unwritten law that states “you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of yours”.

Heh… kinda reminds of New York.