Once again I am a bad blogger. But there’s been a lot going on and it just means there is so much more to write about! This may just be my longest entry yet and I was hoping to get it posted before the holidays started to allow time for people to read it. But who am I kidding, I know everyone wastes work time reading this. Overall, our vacation – and wedding – was great. Although we did have to adjust to the cold when we returned, it was nice to be home after being away for a month.
We left Rankin in the Nov 6th, and one thing I forgot to mention in the last entry, was my wedding dress dilemma. I finished all my packing the night before and knew I still had to pack my dress, but just planned to fold it in the top of my suitcase. It wasn‘t until I went to pack it that I realized I would have to fold it about 5 times. I knew I could also likely take it as carry-on but had no desire to carry it around more than I had to and knew I would end up walking off the plane without it at some point. So I thought it was quite amusing that I was folding up my dress in my duffel bag (not even a square suitcase). After posting a comment on Facebook about how funny I thought I was, my friend phoned to say she had a garment bag I could take. I almost said no as an additional piece of luggage would involve extensive repacking, but I did finally take her up on her offer.
It was starting to snow and visibility was decreasing as we headed towards the airport so we were glad to be leaving soon. We actually had to fly for three days just to get to Calgary. Partly because we booked the flight with Aeroplan and partly because we booked the flights to Hawaii before booking flights out of Rankin so it did not end up being the most efficient way to fly. We arrived in Winnipeg early in the evening and headed towards the hotel, room provided courtesy of First Air (their schedule change meant we couldn’t make it to Edmonton until the next morning). I was very tired as I was too excited to sleep much the night before and I started dozing off around 9pm. One of Gerald’s friends from Rankin, who was in town, ended up calling and asking us out for drinks so we did go out for a bit. One thing we‘ve noticed flying through Winnipeg is that you always run into people from Rankin, either on medical travel or a short holiday.
The next morning we flew to Edmonton and had our first travel stress as we walked out of the secure area and Gerald realized he left his wallet on the plane. Luckily, he got it back. His parents and brother were there to meet us. His dad had just finished his 6 weeks of radiation & chemo and was looking really good. We all piled in their truck and headed to Red Deer for the farm show. As you can imagine, it was not super exciting, but I was glad to be somewhat familiar with the general topic. I did make a few purchases in the trade show section, including Tupperware which Gerald thought would be the most fabulous thing for me to sell in the north. Of course one comment out loud and the sales lady was all over me to sell the stuff. I walked away while Gerald and her talked about how great the business was
We said goodbye to his family that evening and flew to Calgary the next morning. Gerald grabbed his bags there and had to go through customs before making his Phoenix connector. He was going to be attending an NFL game with a bunch of other friends. This was an annual tradition for a few years and this one was officially his stag (#2 for him as well). Because airlines have to be difficult and would not let me check 3 bags while he checked one, he was on possession of the garment bag containing my wedding dress. I was going to pick it up from him in Calgary and he would continue with one bag but he was already in a rush and there was not time for him to officially un-check the one bag. I reminded him during every phone call over the next few days, to not forget the bag!
My sister in-law and niece of 3 months picked me up at the airport. I was able to make a quick visit to see Téa when we were in Alberta in August but she was only 10 days old so she had changed so much since then! We went to do some shopping at both toy and pet stores (because our pets were just not spoiled enough). My sister in-law was able to help me pick out some gifts for our other nieces & nephew (at the toy store, not the pet store) so part of my Christmas shopping was done. I had a hair appointment later that afternoon. When my stylist found out I lived in Nunavut she proceeded to tell me about an “Eskimo” singer that had lived with them. My first thought was that there really has been only one that has gained much fame In Canada that I knew of, and when she said “Susan somebody” I knew she was talking about Susan Aglukark. I thought that was quite the coincidence that I would go to a new hair stylist that had boarded a famous Inuk singer.
Friday I had a lunch date with a former co-worker downtown. As I walked downtown past the drop-in centre, I saw a pedestrian begin to cross against the lights. A driver rolled down the window, honked their horn, and told them to watch the f’g lights. The pedestrian who was likely intoxicated, returned the finger, and continued to wander in the middle of the street, to prove a point I guess. Ah Calgary, it was nice to be back in the city.....
After lunch I went back to my brother’s where my parents had just arrived. So Mom, my sister in-law, my niece, and I all loaded up to head to Costco. It was our first 3 generation shopping trip (through that brother’s family anyways) and it was important that we started training Téa young.
The next morning Mom & I got ready for another power shopping trip, this time to the mall. I had a few minor things to get for the wedding which I had planned to make a priority, however spending an hour in a change room trying on clothes I didn’t desperately need, ended up coming first. As we stopped for a quick lunch break we realized we only had a half hour left so we split up and I got the closest thing to a workout so far on the trip as I sped walked around half the mall. I was hoping to find a pair of boots but was going to try not to rush, and make a bad decision. It was also Saturday, Christmas shopping season had started, and it was getting busier as the day went on. I went into one shoe store, found one thing to try, strategically placed myself right outside the storage room, the way other annoying shoppers did when I once sold shoes, and quickly got the size I needed. After 5 minute deliberation and a quick mental conversation to convince myself the price was worth it (likely the most I’ve ever paid for a pair of shoes), I closed the purchase.
I also had to spend a great deal of time that day arranging for a new house/pet sitter. We had been talking to the original one every day and she seemed to be having allergy problems. I got a hold of my co-worker to see if her daughters could do it instead and luckily they were willing. There were a lot of phone calls involved in tracking people down and arranging for a transfer of keys as well as a pet feeding orientation. I had been quite stressed about it. Even though I knew they wouldn’t starve to death I figured the cats would have a great deal of stress of no one was spending time in the house for a whole month. Chubby would also be completely uncontrollable if he did not get walked for an entire month. Not to mention our water has to be run at least once a day to prevent the pipes from freezing.
Later that afternoon, us ladies headed to my friend’s house for my shower/stagette (number two!). It was a Twinkle Toes & Lingerie party. The lady painting our toes was extremely fast and everyone’s were done before we started the one game that my friend was going to force me to play. There were a clothesline of underwear and I had to guess who gave me which pair (there were at least 10 pair). When I got one wrong I had to put a piece of Hubba Bubba bubblegum in my mouth. After the third wrong guess I was really wishing for the Jello shooters of the weekend before! Luckily they gave me some clues but by the end I could hardly talk and I could seriously feel the sugar in the gum rotting away my teeth. Early in the evening we headed out to the Rose & Crown, one of my favourite pubs. I was even more excited to go this time since the smoking ban had only started in the past year, and the one downfalls of that place was always how smoky it was. The evening was quite tame and we went home before midnight. But I had such a great time and it was so nice to get up the next day feeling perfectly fine!
Feeling fine meant that I could do just a little bit more power shopping. Good thing, since my lack of following priorities meant that I still needed a bra to wear with my wedding dress. I accomplished that task, bought some new luggage, since even the extra I had brought with me were filled up and would be dropped off at cargo later in the day. I even scored a new pair of jeans which was one of the last things on my shopping list (that was typed up in an Excel spreadsheet of course). After dropping off the cargo, my friend and I grabbed a bite to eat and then went home to pack up.
There were odd moments over the first few days of our vacation when I was like “wow, I’m getting married”, but they passed quickly. The night before leaving for Hawaii, I realized we would be on a tropical island in less than 24 hours and that I was getting married in 10 days. I was so excited! I was worried I wouldn’t be able to sleep again but I think I was still tired from all the excitement of the previous days so that was not a problem.
I got up at 4:30 the next morning and was checked-in, through customs & security by 5:20 – flight was at 7am. It was a so nice to be stress-free! Obviously I did learn something from my Christmas trip when I almost missed my flight. I predicted yet another full body search at US customs as I always seem to be a target for that. I didn’t get the body search but they did target me for a search before I even went through the metal detector. I also expected some extra questions about me going to get married and not having a fiancé travelling with me (although they wouldn’t have known about the wedding if I wasn’t so excited to offer the information!). The customs offer seemed concerned that I didn’t know Gerald’s favourite NFL team when I mentioned he had gone to the US earlier for a game (I knew his favourite CFL team). I was tempted to tell the officer how many things I didn’t know, or remember, about my fiancé which came out during the first stagette.
The flight from Calgary to Phoenix was quite bumpy but apparently not as bad as Gerald‘s brother‘s family experienced when they levitated off of their seats. I met Gerald in Phoenix and we were quite excited to share stories of what took place over the last few days. We were also both too excited to sleep at any point during the five hour flight to Maui. After arriving, picking up our rental SUV, and checking in, we went out for dinner, grabbed some groceries and were in bed by 8pm - which resulted in us getting up at 4:30 the next morning. We spent some time of the computer and then ventured out for a walk. We were surprised to find no stores open, until we realized it was still only 7:30am. We found a coffee shop and then did some unplanned shopping for the remainder of the morning. We had lunch at a quiet, little Thai restaurant and then headed to the pool. After running into the only friends that had beat us in arriving on the island, we went to the airport to pick up the next guests. We convinced the friends that had been up since midnight the night before, to join us at a supposedly cheap little pub where I wanted to meet up with my wedding planner. The pub turned out to be a very expensive restaurant but we enjoyed our meals and I felt really good after meeting my planner. She seemed to be as friendly and easy going in person as she was on the phone.
The next morning we slept in until 6:30 and again spent some time on the internet. We went to the beach for a few hours and then found a farmer‘s market with a decent selection of fruit as well as souvenirs. We then headed to the airport to greet the next batch of friends. On the way to their hotel we decided to show them where we would be renting a house the next week, where the wedding would take place. This ended up being a routine part of the tour when we picked up people from the airport. We became more excited about the property every time we drove by it. That night we were treated to a very nice dinner at Mama‘s Fish House by friends. It was quite a drive but definitely well worth it. It also had a very comfortable atmosphere and was not snobbish like other expensive restaurants can be.
The next morning we invited everyone that had arrived so far, over for coffee in the morning. Everyone seemed to have the same problem as us in adjusting to the time change. Gerald and I then had to head to our appointment to obtain a marriage license. It was during that quick, and rather unfriendly meeting with the marriage license commissioner, that I made the decision to take Gerald‘s name. It had been something I was debating for the past few months and was slowing leaning towards the decision to make the change. My main reason against it was that it was a tradition to take the man‘s and went against my traditional, often feminist, views. My main reason to make the change is that we hope to have kids one day and that was the only part that Gerald was insistent upon – that the kids will have his name (funny how no “modern men” seem to give up on that one). I had been asking a lot of women when led to their decision to change or keep their names. But no one ever had a profound answer that I figure really related to me. I do still completely support the position that if you have a really bizarre last name that taking the husband’s name is a good idea, or if his name is weird then you might as well keep yours. I think that logic is slightly better than my friend‘s theory: only take the name if it helps you move up in the alphabet. I am happy with my decision and even the few women that were surprised by it, or did not agree with it, have not made me question it. As I suspected I have been very slow to make the transition. My excuse at the moment is that I do not have the marriage license that is needed to make the legal changes. Gerald commented that he thought I would be practicing writing out my new name right after the wedding, but I don‘t think I have actually hand wrote it out once yet! I did go as far as changing my display name for my e-mails. I have also had a few conversations with colleagues at work explaining that I am using both names, Rempel for signing anything legally binding, and Ouellet just because I just got married and should start using it. I suspect most people I explain this to really don‘t care.
After the license appointment I had my hair trial that my Maid of Honour (or MOH) attended with me. She was then nice enough to try doing some makeup on me afterwards. I had refused several of her attempts to book me an appointment with a makeup professional as I did not want a stranger plastering me with makeup I normally do not wear. We then met Gerald‘s family at the airport. They filled us in their rocky flight to Phoenix but overall had recovered and the kids were pretty excited to see us. That night a bunch of us got together to BBQ in the complex where most were staying. We then moved to our room for drinks which not surprisingly, ended early and we were again in bed by 10pm.
The next day a group of us ventured out for a supposedly moderate hike. We didn‘t really get going until almost 9am and as we looked at the trail extend up the hill before us we wondered if there would ever be shade along the way. There wasn‘t. Four hours later, the last of us made it down the trail, all were tired, and most were grumpy. It didn‘t help that we started in separate groups: the “fast” moved a car to the end of the trail and were to catch up to the “slow”. Being told that they would just catch up to us we continued slow and steady. When they did finally reach us Gerald was not impressed that I had not waited as I was apparently carrying his hat and all the water (whoops!). So we returned to the hotel and some went for a rest. I lounged by the pool and then went to a friend‘s where they were hosting Pupu‘s (Hawaiian for appetizers) and drinks. It was a nice way for most of the group who hadn‘t already met, to get together. We later left for supper with Gerald‘s brother and family.
Saturday was another eventful day as we all tried to head out early for the infamous drive to Hana. Gerald and I had done the drive on our last visit to Maui but that time we drove the road backwards through parts that were now closed. Although we saw more than most tourists that time we figured we also missed a lot of the main sites. Our first stop this time was Twin falls which was a bit of a hike to get to a large pool where some could swing off of vines into the water. We spent a great deal of time there and realized we better speed up if we wanted to complete the drive. We found a little roadside Taco stop for lunch and then drove to the Black beach (black from lava rocks). The water was quite rough but it was beautiful scenery and a refreshing swim. We did another short walk to some caves and then continued the drive. Some decided to turn around when we reached Hana but the rest of us continued to the National park. At the park, we went on the same hike Gerald and I had done last time. It took us through a bamboo forest to 400 ft waterfalls - definitely worth doing a second time. We barely made it back to our vehicles by the time it was completely dark. We tried to find a restaurant in Hana and decided to pick up snacks instead for the drive back. We also checked out a concert that was going on in town and it turned out to be Willie Nelson! He has a home around there and apparently puts on concerts quite often. We debated staying around for it but were all so exhausted and still had a very long drive home (that later may include people on the roads that had been drinking at the concert). I finally took my turn in driving and found that it did not help my car sickness. The whole point of the drive is not necessarily to see the town of Hana but to experience the views along the narrow road and its hairpin curves. Pretty much everyone felt queasy at some point and I was a little nervous to drive but quickly got used to the road. It was almost 10pm when we finally did get back and I fell asleep with a soothing voice in my head saying: I‘ll stop talking now, turn me off, and turn me on again......(private joke for those of you reading that were actually on the trip - or anyone that has done the self-guided drive).
Day three of events and this time we drove around the other side of the island. I had forgotten how great the views were from here as well. One change that occurred since Gerald and I had been there last was that the road was now paved the entire way, but still very narrow in many places. This time we split up girls and boys in each vehicle. It was a fun trip with the girls (and baby Luc that was stuck with us). When we arrived in Lahaina we went to Bubba Gump’s for shrimp and other seafood. We then headed to a nearby beach. Although the beach didn’t look to appealing when we first arrived it turned out to be a fantastic place to swim, especially for the kids who were often struggling with the waves at other locations. We finished the day with ice cream and a stop to take pictures of the sunset. After supper we had drinks with friends and then headed to the airport to pick up my parents.
The next morning we had to pack up our stuff as we were changing locations. Not only did we have the four bags we had been traveling with the entire time, but a great deal of groceries and alcohol that we were stocking up on for the wedding. Of course the elevator had broken down the day before and we were on the fourth floor, so we were very happy to see that it was fixed that morning. We met the property manager at our beach front property and were extremely pleased to see that the pictures did not reflect the actual quality of the place – it was so much more amazing in person! We were welcomed with two bouquets of flowers, a large fruit basket, and very large gift basket of snack items that lasted us all week. We were still in awe of everything when my wedding planner arrived with the guitarist (also her husband), to go over the layout for the wedding. It was fairly quick as we discussed the position of the sun and possible wind, and I asked her the few questions I had left. I was really wondering when I was going to start feeling a bit nervous about the wedding.
We left our paradise for a quick fish ‘n chip lunch before heading to the harbour for our snorkel tour. We had chartered a boat as almost all of our guests for the wedding had arrived by then. The afternoon ended up being a bit cloudy and there was a short bout of rain but the views were incredible. I had been snorkelling quite a few times before and had never before seen turtles. There were groups of 6-8 and they were all so big. As long as you didn’t move too fast near them they would come fairly close when they popped up for air on the surface. We also had a very large lunch, from which we were able to take all leftovers, and some pretty strong drinks. Everyone seemed to be very happy with the trip, and again it was a great way for everyone to meet each other. We expected most of the group to come over for drinks that night but there were only a few which turned out to be nice for visiting.
The next morning, our first morning on the paradise property, we opened our bedroom curtains to see the pool boys (as I was hoping for - young men!) outside cleaning the pool. We wanted to finish our supply shopping that morning and filled up two shopping carts full of food and booze. Gerald’s family came over that afternoon and it was great to watch the kids in the pool with no other strangers around. That night we went with both families to a Luau. It was a nice night of entertainment and really good food, and worth seeing a second time, even if I did remember some of the same lines from the Luau we attended four years earlier. Later that night Gerald and I managed to get into an argument about something that we later agreed was completely ridiculous. We had been discussing all week whether or not we should spend the night before our wedding together and decided that we had been living together for the past 3 years so it did not really matter and it also wasn’t fair for one of us (and it would have been Gerald) to miss a night at our great rental property. We realized later that avoiding an argument would have been a good reason to spend the night apart.
We both woke up quite refreshed and still, neither of us nervous. I dropped Gerald off at his surf lessons that his friends thought were such a great idea to do on his wedding day. My only instructions were that he not get himself killed. I went to my parents for coffee and to greet my brother who had only arrived the only night before, along with another of my friends. We then met up with the MOH and headed to the hair salon. I had a quick French manicure on my toes which I thought was pretty cool since I’d never had it done before. My hair was next since I was the bride and I was the most important (not very often that I can say that about myself – and feel okay about it). Since we had done the trial last week the style didn’t seem to take very long to perfect. I then waited while the MOH and MOB had their hair done. The MOH was very organized and had brought a nice selection of cheese & crackers, and even chocolate. We were surprised that the salon even served us wine. I think I waited until 12:30 to have mine. And it was only after a few sips that I first began to feel nervous. I wasn’t sure if it was related to the wine or not, but it only lasted 5-10 minutes and that was the closest I would ever get to being nervous that day. At some point during the hair, snacking & drinking process I was commenting on how I wanted to stay hydrated and had drank two bottles of water before even coming to the salon. My mom only heard “two bottles” and reacted with complete disbelief in the thought that I had drank two bottles of wine before 11am. We had quite the laugh once we figured out what Mom was thinking.
We were back at the house a full two hours before the ceremony. Gerald was also in the house so we spoke through the door a few times or passed messages through other people. I got bored very quickly being stuck in the bedroom and the MOH had me look through all the pictures on her camera to pass some time. Then I requested a second glass of wine and my aesthetician friend arrived to do my make-up. I put on my dress so that our photographer friend (we make sure to only be friends with people whose talents we can abuse) could start taking some pictures. The wedding planner popped in to say hi and see if I had any questions. My only concern was that she had explained to the few key players their responsibilities and where they would stand. I thought there would still be a lot of time left but after a few pictures and me providing my guest list (the typed and color-coded spreadsheet) to the planner it was almost time. That’s about when my Mom broke down which made me cry so luckily it was time for her to leave the room. The FOB arrived, I gave my MOH a lecture about not crying during the ceremony and it was suddenly 4:30. We heard the conch shell and I shoved Janel out the door. To both of our disappointment (once we realized this later), she did not lunge down the aisle as planned. I suppose it would not have been as funny to everyone else as we thought it would be. Dad and I followed shortly after and as we started walking I was just amazed at how beautiful the location we had chosen was even though it held no more than before other than white chairs and our closest friends and family. Dad and I discussed a couple times along the way if we were walking at the appropriate pace and I didn’t really have time to worry about whether or not I was smiling enough. We arrived at Gerald and there was a bit of confusion as to how Dad should hand me over. After a couple awkward hugs, Gerald and I turned to face the guests. I tried very hard to listen to what the planner/pastor was saying, and tried to look at Gerald but he was staring at me very intently and I felt the need to look away to avoid tearing up. As the planner had predicted we were grateful when the music started with our selected song, Keith Urban’s Your everything. I started laughing as my emotional release and then the urge to cry went away. During our vows I made sure I did not speak too quiet and someone later commented that Gerald was a lot more quiet than me (that never happens!). The whole thing was quick (15 min) but not too quick that I felt like nothing happened.
Everyone came to hug us after and I did get a little teary again when one of Gerald’s friends made a comment that he was like a brother to her. We took some quick pictures with family and also on the beach, and then we got a call from Gerald’s parents congratulating us. I knew it would be hard for Gerald for his parents not to be there and it really hit him when they called. Afterwards, we grabbed drinks and some appetizers to join friends. About 5 seconds after I arrived at one of the tables, my friend Amber (I try not to use too many names on here but I just want to embarrass her a bit more) was animatedly telling a story and her hand knocked over a glass of wine on the table. In slow motion we all watched the glass tumble in my direction and the red wine pour down my dress, from waist to toe. The look on her face was priceless so I gave her a high five and thanked her that I wouldn’t have to worry anymore about getting the dress dirty. I was prepared to really do nothing about it when I was drug into the house and into the shower. For the next twenty minutes 4-5 of my friends tried a number of remedies to remove the stain. First was a bottle of white wine, then some salt, then a whole lot of rinsing (of course I’m not allowed to take off my dress during all of this since they all figured that’s the best way to hold it while cleaning), and finally some hard core Oxiclean. So I can’t say which remedy really did the job but the next day (the first time I really looked closely), I could hardly tell where the wine had been at all. The dirt on the bottom of the dress was much more noticeable.
So after that ordeal I went to get a new drink and was hoping to have at least one of the appetizers that I had planned so many months ago to serve. That food had already been put away so I played my bride card (actually I just complained so loud that the wedding planner heard and asked the caterers to bring some of it back out). So I did get some spring rolls with Thai Chile sauce. I think by the time I came back out Gerald and the staff had already been discussing that it was very likely going to rain. We decided to move the tables under the patio awning. It was a little cramped but luckily there was only 4 tables and I wanted everyone to be able to visit so that just made it easier. By the time we started dishing up food it was raining. One of the catering staff suggested we (bride & groom) move to the other side of the table so we don’t get dripped on, my response was “well then it’s just going to drip on someone else”. We opened up the bedroom door s and told people to walk through the house to get to the food. When this began I started to have visions of our security deposit disappearing but I eventually stopped worrying about it. I’m not sure if this was before or after a large stream of water came pouring onto one of the tables and onto our guests’ laps. I remember seeing it, my jaw dropping and then pointing it out to the staff. They were like the rest of us and didn’t really know what to do. We moved all of the tables so that no one was under the stream and shortly after it stopped. That’s when I noticed our guitarist climbing down from the roof – he had gone up to unplug the eaves troughs! That was not the first time that day he had helped out with something completely out of his job description. The friends that had water on their laps and their plates were very good about the whole thing.
The rest of the night was less eventful but maybe that’s because it was less clear. We were made to kiss a few times but at one point we passed that on to the MOH & her boyfriend, the BM & his wife , as well as my parents. We didn’t have any speeches but just did a quick thank-you to everyone. My dad had already been complaining that we weren’t going to have speeches so I knew he had something planned. He talked about my independence and how I didn’t need Gerald to support just to experience things with me. It was very nice. As the meal ended everyone was completely stuffed but we still had the chocolate fountain to enjoy. That was probably my favourite part of the wedding, other than the whole “having a small oceanfront ceremony on a tropical island” thing. I was a little discouraged that everyone was so full for two reasons. Besides the chocolate fountain I wanted everyone to keeping drinking, enjoy themselves, and not all go home early. I think only a few people had left when we all somehow migrated towards the bar. My brother and parents tried to go home then to catch a ride with someone else but I convinced them to take a cab later. From then on the jokes got funnier and we all talked louder. The music got louder until Gerald reminded me that there was a 10pm noise curfew. I eventually changed out of my dress which was a good thing as near the end of the night I tried pushing someone in the pool and I was the one that ended up going in. The few people remaining all jumped in shortly after. Of course I decided after jumping in with my clothes that I want to change into a bathing suit. So I ran, soaking wet, into the house with hardwood floors and crashed down on the steps onto my side. Even then I was in a great deal of pain. It was after 2am when the last of the guests left. Gerald’s family stayed over, the kids having crashed many hours earlier. I was so excited that people stayed late as the entire vacation had been pretty quiet as far as partying goes. I was also concerned that I would be a typical bride, too stressed and tired to drink much, or worse yet, to consummate the marriage. But I succeeded at both (Gerald says that one caused the other to happen) and I couldn’t have been happier about how the day turned out.
We had invited everyone over for crepes the next morning and I had a hard time crawling out of bed before 10am when everyone started arriving. Luckily my lovely new brother in-law did almost all the cooking while I refilled my water glass and tried not to place any pressure on my left hip. My friend found a copy of one of the “guest guides” in our house and noted that the first sentence says to be careful when walking in the house from the pool as the hardwood is very slippery (thanks for the heads up!). People came and went throughout the day and the kids were again in the pool for most of the day. I did steal a nap in the afternoon getting heckled quite a bit by Gerald, who I later found out also sneaked away for a nap. We barbequed with both families that night and again spent the next day relaxing by our pool. We had another BBQ with friends and started to say goodbye to some that were ending their trip.
Saturday we got up early for a helicopter ride with my parents and friends. It was somewhat cloudy and we flew through some rain but the views were still amazing. We saw a 1700ft waterfall! I was amazed that my Mom came along for the ride as she is often scared of stuff like that. I was even impressed that she went on the snorkel trip (no snorkelling but still on the boat), so this had been quite the adventurous trip for her.
Sunday was our last day so we spent most of the morning packing. We went out for Vietnamese lunch which I had been trying to do since we left Rankin. Almost everyone that was still around stopped by the house to say goodbye. The trip had been so amazing and everyone got along really well – we got along with everyone really well, but we had just enough of the socializing. We were ready to go.
We flew out at 11:30pm and luckily were tired enough to sleep through the constantly rough flight back to Vancouver. We continued to sleep on the flight to Edmonton and also the one to Grande Prairie. There, Gerald walked off the plane into the snow in his flip flops. Some other passengers got a good laugh out of that. Gerald’s parents were there to meet us and we headed out to do one more major shopping trip at Costco. We had dinner at BP’s and then started the drive to Tangent which we knew would be slow in the snow and slick roads.
On our first morning at the farm we had to get up early to go hunting. I have never actually “gone hunting” in my life. Even the whale experience this fall was kind of unintentional and not a planned hunting trip. I was not necessarily excited to do this but figured I should experience it once and knew I couldn’t sit in the house all week. That morning we drove around for three hours, saw some Moose but that was it. Gerald got up the next morning and I slept in until he came back to tell me they had got a Moose. I got dressed up and joined them and soon they had also got an Elk. I helped a bit in getting the Elk out of the bush in the ravine but in my borrowed winter clothing I got cold fast. Did I mention it was -30 degrees? The same temperature as Rankin was at that time (so much for a slow adjustment back to the cold). I went out once when they were skinning and was impressed with how I felt about it. I knew a lot had changed for me in the past year if that didn’t bother me at all. That night we all watched our wedding video. It was the first time we had seen it and we were quite impressed with the job our friend had done.
The next afternoon we went to the local skating rink to watch his niece & nephews all skate. That night we were invited for drinks at a friend’s place where it turned out to be a bunch of other people who had just finished hunting. We walked into the shop to find carcasses hanging from the walls and a bunch of men standing around drinking and smoking. As I assessed the situation I was again grateful that I was no longer bothered by animal carcasses. Luckily we were quickly invited into the house where the group was a little more evenly distributed between the sexes.
Friday, I finally decided to check my work e-mail. There was only one e-mail that I was concerned about and I realized that I really did like my job. Nothing made me panic and I actually was looking forward to going back to work. We played some cards that day and then had a big crab dinner which was our wedding celebration with his family. We had picked up a huge box of King Crab legs from Costco.
The next day was my birthday which with all the other excitement going on, I had kind of forgot it was coming. I’ve always been indifferent about birthdays but it was nice to get a cake, an ice cream cake nonetheless!
Sunday we packed up yet again, and drove to Edmonton with his parents. We stayed at friends of his parents who had a little Shitsu dog who was not too eager to get to know us. The next morning our hosts had already left for work when we had to get the dog to go outside to pee. Apparently it wasn’t a good idea for all of us to stand around as the dog was pretty intimidated and would not come back in the house. Gerald and his dad chased the dog around for quite awhile. I finally went outside the fence to see if there was anything I could do and I saw the dog jumping straight up almost clearing the 5 foot fence. After a few more attempted grabs, some yelling and swearing, they caught him. But not after she had bit both of them, Gerald right through his Kevlar glove.
We did a bit of shopping before we went to the Cancer clinic for his dad’s appointment. We did some more shopping at Zellers and MEC (of course we couldn’t return North without buying so much stuff that we had to buy yet more luggage).
Tuesday we went out for breakfast and I was left to do my last bit of important shopping – fabric for my sewing projects. Gerald and I went to a movie that afternoon. I convinced him that he owed me a birthday present and August Rush appeared to be a chick flick that would suffice. Although it was quite cheesy, I really enjoyed it. Neither of us had been to a movie theatre in over a year.....the popcorn tasted soooo good. His parents dropped us off at his friend’s in Leduc and after supper we had just enough time to watch the wedding video, for the third time. The next morning we left for the airport already knowing that there was a blizzard in Rankin. They gave us a warning at check-in but we got on the plane to Yellowknife. Before taking off we had to wait almost two hours for our turn to have the plane de-iced. In Yellowknife again they said it was likely we would not land in Rankin but we had to try. We did fly over and ended up landing in Iqaluit. The turnaround to fly back to Rankin is fairly quick and again we were told it was not likely we would land, but luckily they were wrong. So after 11 hours of flying, and 4 meals later we were home. Chubby was very excited to see us (okay, he gets excited when he sees a plastic bag fly by), and the cats also did not take long to come out of hiding to see us.
We were very impressed with our house-sitter. She came over that night and the cats came out right away, and when scaredy-cat Trigger rubbed up against her we knew they had been treated well. I wasn’t sure if she would be able to control Chubby but her Dad ended up taking him for some walks. Apparently he was now getting along with their dog, “Bear” who he had a run-in with this summer. It was a just a quick tackle but Bear wanted to show him who was boss. We also were filled in on the numerous times that Chubby escaped while we were away so we had quite a few different people to thank for looking after him. Gerald has now rigged up a two-clasp system so that if Chubby scratches his neck and unhooks one clasp, the other should still hold.
My first day back at work was good. We really noticed the short days after being gone so long. Although I didn’t notice how dark it was in the morning until at least a week later when I finally went into work on time. I realized how lucky I am to have a job that is not only in my field, but also challenging and very well-suited for me. Many of the government departments are not run as smoothly (specifically in the areas of accounting and finance) and one of the other crown corporations that falls under the same department as us has had a lot of scandal and been in the news constantly for the last two weeks. The Auditor General has “not given an opinion” for the last two years of financial statements which is apparently the only time that has happened to a crown corp in Canada. Then our Minister resigned after it was discovered he had interests in one of the loans given out by this company. Then the CFO was asked to take a leave of absence after charges of fraud from his previous employment came out.
The first weekend back we had my work Christmas party where one of my crazy co-workers volunteered to do all the cooking. As I told her, I love people that love to cook. Last year we just had dinner at one of the hotels and I remember being home by 8pm. This time it was a lot cozier in someone’s house and everyone mingled more. We played dice games again and everyone actually stayed until 10pm. Three of us continued to have drinks at my friend’s house but I didn’t feel like staying up too late and must have needed to catch up on my sleep.
The rest of the weekend consisted of unpacking all 8 of our bags (well 7, since we unpacked the cooler the night we arrived), and doing a heck of a lot of laundry. I tried to complain about it but reminded myself that it was a small price to pay for going on a month-long vacation. I did an hour of babysitting for my friend who’s 10-month old was now crawling and standing, and grabbing at everything. A lot can change in a month! We meant to take Chubby for some long walks but it was really cold so they were only about 20 minutes long. But we must have been feeling guilty about leaving him for so long as he has been getting walked almost every day since we’ve been back. Gerald has walked him more in the last two weeks than he ever did in the summer. His post-vacation goal is to not let work control his life!
So after being home for less than a week I took off for a work trip to Baker Lake. I had been there last January and again, it’s just not as exciting visiting a community for the second time. The hotel I was staying at was full so I ended up at one of the secondary locations which was right behind where I was working. After the first night I was the only one in the building so that was even better. Some mid-wives from Rankin were also visiting there so I often had my meals with them. The first night I was told there was a craft sale so I stopped by the arena to find it was similar to the one I went to in Cambridge Bay – about 4 tables full of peoples junk. But I did buy a bunting bag for our friend in the south, that would help her put her baby in the Amouti. When I came home on Friday I dreaded having to unpack again, even if it was a tiny little bag. We heard there was supposed to be a $15k Bingo jackpot and had friends over to play. It was the first time Gerald had played. There was no luck in our house that time and we ended up playing some poker after.
I spent most of the weekend checking on our computer as it attempted to upload 200 pictures from our trip. I knew it would have been a lot less painful to have done that while we were still in the south but I did not want to waste any precious Maui time doing it and the internet on the farm wasn’t a whole lot faster than up here. From start to finish it took almost 24 hours for all of the pictures to upload. But I was happy to have accomplished something and get some people off my back – when are you going to send out pictures?? When are you going to update your blog?? People – I have a life and yes, bingo is more important than updating this blog!
Monday was the school Christmas concert. We knew a few kids that would be in it so we decided to attend. It was very packed in the gym but fun to watch the kids. They did a lot of singing and dancing and both Gerald and I commented that we never did any kind of dancing in our school plays. Standing around for almost two hours was a bit much so once we saw the kids we had come to see, we left. I later went out with a friend to buy some late-night sewing supplies. Siniksak (bias tape or trim) is very hard to come by. I learned on my most recent trip to Fabricland that most sewing stores in the south do not carry most supplies needed by northern sewers, ie. Material thick enough to make a parka! Siniksak in the stores in the north is fairly plain but there are so many people that have nice stuff on their jackets. My friend knew a girl who had a whole bunch she ordered from Montreal so we were able to get some from her. It almost felt like we were going something illegal as we were buying something that is hard to come by and we were doing the transactions pretty late in the evening.
The Northern store, and others, had a lot of sales that week. My friend phoned first thing one morning to say I had to get to the store before 9am to get my 15% off coupon. I went there to find people lined up out the door. It didn’t take long to get my coupon and later in the day I debated whether or not I should shop after work. Just before 5pm I looked out my office window and saw the biggest traffic jam to ever happen in Rankin (that I had seen anyways). Vehicles were parked all over the place and backed up at the stop signs. I realized later that the draw for the 50” TV was happening then but I did wait until 8pm to do my shopping. I ended up buying a lot “bad” things such as frozen pizzas, pop and chips, but they are the most expensive items so it’s okay to eat them once in awhile.....
I’m not sure if it was all the sales but I seemed to always be going to the grocery stores. As I’ve mentioned before, it is the best place to run into people (that and the post office). So it was nice to run into people I hadn’t seen since before our vacation. A lot of people congratulated us and one day when I phoned one of the restaurants to order some food, the server said congratulations to me before I even gave her my name! You know you’re in a small town when......
This past weekend I did a lot of baking as I was planning to bring desserts to Gerald’s work dinner on Christmas Eve. I took Chubby for two long walks. On Saturday it was -46 with the wind chill and we were out for almost an hour. Obviously I was dressed really well. It was the first time since we had been back that I took Chubby far enough to be off the lease and he was so excited. At first he just kept running past me and almost took me out at the knees at one point. I thought this would all make him calmer for the last part of the walk home, through town. But he was still being a brat and pulling on the leash. One night earlier that week I only walked him for a few minutes because I got so mad at him pulling on the leash. That night I also had trouble sleeping and could hear him barking quite a bit. The next morning I suggested we get rid of him. It was the only time I’ve ever seriously thought that, but I’m past it now.
Before Gerald and I could celebrate our one-month anniversary (not that we were really going to celebrate but I did think of it as the date passed by), he had to take off for work. We had known for a while that he may have to do relief in another community during Christmas but then that was cancelled. Then he was asked to go to another community and all week it was back and forth as to whether or not he would go. He suggested that I go along with him and right away I said no, as I’d rather stay home with the cats. But when we really did find out he was going for sure I started thinking that I could just as easily do my work from anywhere. Our office was unofficially closed but I planned to catch up on work over the holidays. I figured the flight would be expensive and was not surprised to see it was over $500 one-way. Then I found a seat-sale for $300 round trip. Everyone was saying how important it was that we spend our first Christmas as a married couple together, but I was thinking that a week confined to a house in a place where we were not likely to socialize with anyone else, would not be good for our relationship. Anyways, the seat-sale seemed like a good reason for me to go. So Gerald left for Coral Harbour on Friday and I joined him on Christmas Eve. We both packed a box of food to bring with us Gerald noticed the food selection was quite limited there. I was sad to miss the dinner with his coworkers but there would be no other flights for me for the next two days, so I sacrificed a good meal to be with my husband. The morning before I left for Coral I dropped off some baking for the dinner and to other friends and also some gifts we had bought for some of the kids.
Coral is just over an hour flight north. It’s in the same region as Rankin but does not observe Daylight savings time (the only community in Nunavut – not sure on the logic here) so is in the Eastern time zone. There are about 800 people and it was warmer than Rankin when we first arrived. Gerald commented that it was a balmy -15. The sun rises an hour earlier, around 10:30, and sets at 2:30. I’m ashamed to see I have not yet seen any of the community. The night I arrived we were invited to watch movies with the nurses. Christmas day we watched a lot of movies, played scrabble (one game only since that’s all we could handle without getting too mad at each other), and then had the other member over for Lasagna. I did hit the treadmill yesterday and today I will start doing some work. I know working will quickly get me out the door for some walks, as I will look forward to some breaks. The staff housing here is a lot nicer than in Rankin so we are comfortable.
I’ve added a few pictures below but the following link is a slide show of the rest:http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=pc50cij.8jpdcum7&x=0&y=-t8k0j3
A view of South Maui from a hiking trail
Gerald and I smooching in a cave on the black beach
400ft waterfall in the National Park
A couple getting married near the beach - oh wait, that's us!