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.  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  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.  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.  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.

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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!

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!

Halfway to the High Arctic

It is just after 9 AM, and Ian and I are sitting in airport in Ottawa…awaiting our flight to Iqaluit.  This is a remarkably quiet airport compared to Pearson International.  It’s refreshing actually.  In about four hours or so we will be in our new home.  Ian is currently recording some video of an Air Canada Jazz flight with propeller engines.  It is quite possibly our plane.  Yikes.

Jemaine and Brit are resting comfortably – except for the occasional set of meows from Jemaine.  He was a little upset on the flight during take-off and less so during the landing.  I don’t think I heard Brit more than once, if that.  Both cats are exhausted from the long night spent making final preparations for the journey.  Ian and I are as well.

Thanks to everyone who came out to AC’s place last night.  It was really nice to have the pre-send off party.  Thanks to AC for helping with all of our laundry, and with the miscellaneous items that will be worked on now that we’re gone.  Thanks to Uncle Mark for making the extremely early drive to Pearson with all of our gear.  And thanks to mom and Dan for everything.  You guys have helped out more than you can imagine and we both appreciate it so much.

It would appear that we’ll be walking out on to the tarmac in less than an hour.  So I think I’ll be signing off until our flight lands this afternoon.  After a quick orientation around town and some much-needed rest, we’ll be back online.  Here’s hoping things normalize soon for us.  This has been an overwhelming day.  Week, even.

We miss all of our southern Ontario and New York friends and family.  So don’t forget to write…

When Cats Can Fly

We’ve been doing a lot of gearing up in the past couple of days.  Purchased a lot of items to ensure that we will be able to withstand the extreme frigid conditions that we’re likely to face in the coming months.

But, there were some other pieces of equipment that are very important for us to remember – and those are the cat carriers.  Since Sophie will be staying with my brother until either we get down to Ontario again to bring her back to Nunavut, or someone else is able to bring her up to us, we purchased two carriers for the kittens (who really are no longer kittens).

We had really hoped that they would take to the carriers well – so to prepare them, we’ve been leaving them open in the living room so that they can try them out.

We think they’ve taken to them quite well…don’t you?

Jemaine knocked out

Brit getting comfortable...

Jemaine with his posing arm...

8 Days Later…

Can you spot the helper in the picture?

So we’re a little over a week into packing and I’ve hit the wall regarding what to do next. We’re in an interesting conundrum where we want to pack the stuff we’re taking up with us initially, but we don’t want to pack the things that will be shipped up because if we leave that in the hands of the movers, it’s insured by them. I’ve been stuck in the Basement of Doom sorting, chucking and packing for the past 7 days. I was granted a day of release for our anniversary Sunday but for the most part that was my world. The children tried their best to help out in their own special way but that only resulted in the eating of and playing in boxes. I swear… I don’t know what Jemaine’s fascination with eating tape is but that’s apparently his thing. They do help break up the monotony though. I find it amusing how they don’t care about anything down there until I go and start working. Then it’s the bee’s knees.

 

Anyway, at the top of the week the basement looked like a bomb hit it. I was in my own personal 20′ x 10′ post apocalyptic wasteland. I evaded booby traps, solved riddles, slayed some beasts and eventually got the basement sorted…

Not everything is as it seems...

I know. It doesn’t look like anything has been done, but wait! Through the magic wonders of Photoshop I shall reveal to you how much was actually done…

We're actually not keeping much.

Behold. Everything that isn’t highlighted is either getting sold, tossed or given away leaving us with not much to fuss over. Even the stuff that’s highlighted has be to sub sorted into what we’re bringing (be it shipping or taking on the plane) so in the end I think we’re in good shape so far. Mind you it’s just the basement junk. The bedroom, kitchen, living room and storage room is another story and brings me back to my initial quandary. I may dip into the kitchen today and arrange a care package of cookware, utensils and dishes for our initial journey up and let the movers do the rest. Maybe I’ll start sorting my tools in the storage room as well.

Bah… too much to ponder. I’ll play it by ear for today. I need the boss to make some final decisions on a lot of stuff so we can move forward with some more packing. Maybe I’ll start cooking up our supply list. Lord knows we’re gonna need it…

The Great Sort

Anyone who’s moved at least once in their lifetime knows how much crap you can accumulate over the years. Our sentimentality makes us cling to objects as though they are our lifeline despite them having been buried away in a basement, closet or shed for ages. Why can’t we ever just throw or give anything away? I’ve moved around for most of my adult life so I’ve grown accustomed to the whole moving process. This latest venture to Nunavut is one that’s going to pose probably the biggest packing challenge ever. How does one consolidate a decade worth of clutter into one move with limited space?

Phase 1 – The Great Sort – Thankfully we don’t live in an incredibly large place right now. If we did I’d dread having to sort through all the madness we could have amassed. My plan of attack is to use the basement as the Grand Sorting Station. Since the cats don’t hang out down there anymore I can use the space to start my three sections – The Taking Now Section, the Public Storage Section and the It’s Gotta Go Section. Course I can guarantee that as soon as I start moving forward with any of that the Terrible Twosome will want to inspect every little thing that’s going on. I think we’ll be leaving quite a few things for the apartment. We’ve got a nice array of lawn care supplies as well as bathroom and kitchen equipment that would come in handy.  Our landlord rocks so I’m sure we can work out some kind of deal. We’ll be leaving the place in far better shape than when we came here, that’s for sure.

I haven’t quite decided on when I’m going to take a stab at the first motions of sorting, but I imagine it to be sometime in the afternoon. I have to get a foothold in before Hurricane Suzanne comes rolling through. I’m not saying she’s a messy sorter or anything but she has what I deemed as Dyslexic Cleaning Tendencies or DCT. People who suffer from this condition don’t clean in a logical order, for example room by room or section by section, but more rather will be in all places at any given time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’s sense to the madness but her madness and my madness don’t match up well when it comes to that facet of our relationship so I just end up standing back and watching as the hurricane blows through then i resume my work.

…but then again I do have the latest episode of Ultimate Fighter PVR’d so I could very well become easily distracted….

Gotta loooove procrastination. 😉