Merry Christmas from Iqaluit

Hard to believe this is our second Christmas in Iqaluit.  And while we’re definitely missing all of our friends and family back home in the south, we’re also pretty happy to be here at home.  It’s amazing how quickly one can get used to the quiet and general serenity that seems to settle over this city at certain parts of the year.  Christmas is no exception.  With so many of our friends up here deciding that they’d head out-of-town for the holidays, there’s only a few of us left to hold down the fort.  And that’s fine by us.

We were able to do some last-minute grocery shopping yesterday, and didn’t get trampled in NorthMart.  I have it on good authority that it did get quite a bit busier after we had left, but still – it’s no comparison to trying to even manoeuvre through the city streets in Kitchener-Waterloo anywhere near Christmas Day.  We even went to the post office to check one last time on our mail and drop off a Christmas card to Jordan and the rest of the staff there.

And by the way, we have had Christmas snow since October 1st.  *snicker*

Needless to say, it’s been a relaxing Christmas.  With no one to visit until after Boxing Day, Ian and I have been just taking it easy…phoning relatives (or just about to)…opening some gifts and hanging out with the cats.  Who by the way, have likely eaten an entire bag of Christmas treats already.

We have several engagements to attend to this week…a Norwegian brunch at our friend’s place…a couple of potluck dinners…Christmas games…and then eventually, New Year’s Eve will creep up again.  Haven’t heard anything about fireworks yet, so our plans are still up in the air.

In any case, we hope that all of our friends and family are enjoying as relaxing of a Christmas as you possibly can.  We love you all and miss you dearly.  Hope to talk to you all soon, and then see you sometime in the new year.  Well, perhaps not the new new year…but you know…spring, summer-ish.

Safe travels to you…and Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night!

Our wee Christmas tree

Slackers in the North

Okay okay…so it’s been awhile.  I’ve heard from a few people that they’re waiting for some updates on the blog – so we apologize.  We managed to get ourselves unpacked before Christmas came, so it was a very relaxing holiday for us!  While we missed our families dearly, it was quite nice to be able to just take it easy.  We weren’t driving from city to city, trying to visit as many friends and family members as we could.  Instead, we received a very nice phone call the week before Christmas while many of my family members were at Cathy and Roger’s (my cousins) house.

So here’s the rundown of what you’ve missed…er…of what we haven’t updated…

1.     We received our modem by mail on Christmas Eve – so we had internet and phone by the holiday.  Which is great when you live so far from family members.  But you already knew that…

2.     We were invited to a lovely Christmas dinner at the home of my manager.  Mark and Robyn are gracious hosts, and we were able to meet another local couple, Arif and Margo.  Dinner was potluck, so Ian and I brought a couple of dishes – Winter Vegetables for a Crowd and Peppermint Cheesecake…yum!  We then spent the balance of the night drinking and playing Settlers of Catan – which we perceive to be the northern equivalent to our dominos obsession.  However, I do know we’ll be getting people involved in dominos tourneys before they know it.  The tradition continues!  Mark lit a qulliq, which is a traditional Inuit oil lamp used for heating and lighting the igloo, drying clothes and cooking some.  And we were all amazing at just how knocked out Ida was after her long day of playing outside!

It's amazing just how this little lamp can warm up a room...

Ida wondering just how much longer we were going to keep her up...

3.     From December 22nd to January 1st, Iqaluit hosted its annual week of Christmas Games.  Christmas games are something to experience.  We decided to attend the games at Nakasuk School the night before New Year’s Eve.  When we arrived close to 8 PM, the games were well underway.  It was quite a bit of fun…the whole community gets involved.  Young and old…long time northerner and newcomers alike.  While Ian and I didn’t actually participate in any of the games (we felt like we’d like to know a bit more Inuktitut before we jumped in), they were tonnes of fun to watch.  It was like Festivus – there were feats of strength!  The whole northern experience seems like it wouldn’t be complete without witnessing community games.  We’re both very glad we did.

Even the street toughs joined in every once in awhile

Passing Lifesavers with a toothpick...we all did this during high school retreats!

For teens only! Feats of strength...Frank Costanza would be proud!

I'm pretty sure I could have kicked serious arse in this one...

Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!

4.      For New Year’s Eve, we decided to do the opposite of what we always do – which tended to be stay inside where it was nice and warm and watch the Niagara Falls fireworks on television, and then complain later about how bad they were.  So this year, we braved the elements and cabbed it up to Dead Dog Lake by the Road to Nowhere for the midnight fireworks show.  Ian and I were quite impressed!  After being dropped off at the wrong spot, a passing vehicle full of fireworks-watchers filled us in where we should head.  We hiked up the hill towards the neighbourhood where the fireworks were going to be set off and got there just in time.

The show went on for almost half an hour.  We started hiking out of the neighbourhood so we could catch a cab and avoid all the traffic near the end of the show, and man…was it ever cold!  But it was a lovely New Year’s Eve – a great start to our first full year in the Nunavut!

And since we taped the fireworks from Niagara Falls, we were still able to watch them later on and complain about how bad they were.  😉

5.     Since the temperatures soared back up above freezing for the first couple of days of the new year, the melting snow that had accumulated became sheets of ice that played havoc with the city roads.  The roads and sidewalks were so slippery and dangerous, the road equipment even had trouble staying on the road, and schools and government offices were closed for two mornings in a row so that the road crews could get sand out on top of the ice.  Typically the weather is far too cold to employ the use of salt up here, so they use sand instead.

6.     In the past few weeks, we have received packages from Aunt Connie, Aunt Carol, Aunt Mary & Uncle Juan, and my mother.  Thanks for all the goodies – they are much appreciated!

7.     Walking to and from the post office last Thursday to pick up one of these packages, we finally got our first taste of the auroras that we’ve both been so looking forward to see!  We must have looked like definite newcomers as we gingerly walked across the slippery sidewalks with our eyes glued to the spectacle above.  The northern lights danced across the sky in a long band…disappearing for a short time and reappearing as several long slender fingers of light…morphing into a loop of light green.  I need a professional camera desperately!

Having never seen the auroras before, it was a wonderful experience.  We look forward to even stronger solar activity contributing to even brighter and more colourful displays.  We were fortunate to again see some green auroras tonight from the balcony.  I love living here!

So that’s basically it for now.  You’re up to date with what’s going on right now.  I suspect if the temperatures drop a bit more, and some snow falls, the roads and sidewalks might be fit to walk on more.  Right now, I’m just too darn uneasy on the roads.  I’d rather not fall and completely injure myself – even though it’s Ian who is Mr. Bump!  😉