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Aug. 19th, 2007

Enjoying the summer....with our new dog!

I am a bad blogger – two months since my last posting. My excuse was going to be that we were spending a lot of time outdoors, enjoying the summer but unfortunately there’s another reason. At the beginning of August Gerald’s Dad suffered multiple seizures and has since been diagnosed with Brain Cancer. We went down to Edmonton for 10 days where his Dad underwent a series of tests as well as surgery to remove the tumor. He will still need to undergo treatments for the cancer. I’m not going to write too much about the whole experience but needless to say, it was a very stressful time and will continue to be going forward.

I guess I’ll start where I left off at the end of June. The July long weekend was absolutely gorgeous. It was 24 degrees on the Saturday and I was so excited when I ended up with a sunburn. I was just about to write about how we took Chubbie for his first long walk and realized I haven’t even wrote since we got a dog! It must have been the same weekend as our 10km run that we got a puppy. He was 3 months old, part lab and part husky. I was very much against the idea as I didn’t not want to be the one ending up always feeding and walking the dog. But when Gerald told me his name was Chubbie I had a change of heart, as that was the name of my first dog when I was growing up.

Anyways, I’ll try to stick to chronological order here so I can remember everything. I recall getting sick yet again a few days after the run (so much for my stellar immune system that I had in Alberta). I even felt bad enough that I wanted to stay home from work but couldn’t as I was days away from meeting the deadline for our audited financials. Although work had calmed down for the last couple of weeks, I was determined to have the final word from the auditors by the end of June. On the last possible day I received the auditor’s report so I was very relieved and knew I was really going to start enjoying the summer after that. It also turned out to be the first time our company has met that deadline without asking for an extension so I was pretty proud of myself.

So on the day of the sunburn we took Chubbie for a two-hour walk along the ocean. I then went for another walk with a friend to get ice cream (which everyone was buying that day!). The day after was Canada Day. I was quite impressed that Rankin put on a parade as well as other activities. We went out with Gerald’s coworkers and quite a few other people to go fishing. We went to the Meladine river and it was my first time there. Since there were so many people I didn’t feel the need to fish and instead I lounged in the sun, tried to prevent toddlers from going in the water, and took Chubbie for another walk. I even wore shorts although it was a bit cool at times. It was a really great day overall.

The next weekend I tried running for the first time since the 10k. I didn’t get very far before my knee started to hurt again so I decided I would stick to walking for awhile longer yet. We did take Chubbie for his first bike ride that weekend. Gerald only wiped out a couple times as Chubbie learned not to run in from of the bike. We have to keep him on a leash in town but once we are outside we let him run free. That weekend was also another long weekend for me as Monday was Nunavut Day. I don’t even know why it’s that day rather than April 1st, which was the date the territory was formed. I assumed it was because people would rather have a holiday in the summer but I’m pretty sure I never found out for sure. We spent the holiday fishing. It wasn’t a very successful trip but I was entertained when Gerald threw Chubbie off the dock and realized he wasn’t going to swim to the edge so Gerald had to lean over and pull him out of the water. There were a lot of activities going on again for Nunavut Day (BBQ, mini-boat races, bannock making contest) but we only checked out the beginning before going fishing.

We started playing on a slowpitch team and were able to meet some more people. Chubbie usually joined us for the games and was a good spectator except for the times he chewed through his leash or found a teammates article of clothing to chew on. We definitely had some beautiful nights to play as we had many days in July that were above 20 degrees. I think it did get up to 25 again a couple more times since that long weekend. And after hearing about the heat waves the “south” was getting, I was very happy to be living where we are.

One weekend we joined in on someone else’s house sale so we could get rid of the ridiculous amount of food from last year’s barge order. Our largest volume items were beans, canned asparagus, and whole wheat flour (Janice realized whole wheat flour cannot replace white in all recipes and one bag does go a long way – 12 bags will never get used!). Gerald’s boss was going to be moving so they were hosting the sale. Since we had quite a few items we stayed throughout so it was my first time seeing how crazy these sales get. It started at 1pm and people starting showing up 15 minutes early. By 1:10pm the basement was packed and I could not count out change fast enough. Hardly anyone came after 2pm and that’s when we started almost giving away the remaining beans and asparagus!

One Monday I got a call saying there was a beach volleyball tournament in Yellowknife the coming weekend and tryouts were that night. We had actually committed to babysitting while our friends went out for dinner so I had to miss the first round of games. We only babysat for just over an hour and it was fairly easy but of course both kids had to take care of business during that time and Gerald seems to think he doesn’t have to change a diaper until we have our own kids. We also had a baseball game that night where I managed to get nailed in the head with the ball when running towards home base. So I finally made it to beach volleyball where my teammate and I ended up getting second place that night and two teams were going to Yellowknife (that meant us!). We practiced one other night but I spent more time making up a shopping list that actually practicing volleyball.

The weekend in Yellowknife was a lot of fun (it was my first time there). Our first stop after checking into the hotel was the liquor store (it wasn’t that kind of weekend, but still, it was available so we had to take advantage of it). We went to Boston Pizza and I was able to carb up the way I always manage to when I haven’t been there in a few months. The younger teams played on Saturday, which meant we had a full day of shopping. Wal-mart basically satisfied all my shopping needs and most of what I purchased consisted of toys & treats for Chubbie, some wine kits, and sewing stuff (including a new sewing machine). I also squeezed in a hair cut that day.

On Sunday, when we had our games, the weather was fabulous at around mid-20’s. The games were fun but playing on the beach is a totally different game than on hard courts and I realized I’m not that great at it. I think we placed 4th, only out of 6 teams but it’s better than last place. Our other Rankin team got first and had won that tournament a few times before. My picture even ended up in the local paper after so that was pretty exciting for me.

We also bottled some more wine in July. I know no one will believe me or definitely not have sympathy for me, but we had a few weeks of sleepless nights due to the heat. Our windows don’t open very well, or are missing screens, we didn’t have a fan (all stores were sold out), and of course as windy as Rankin always seems to be it seemed the calmest when it was the warmest. We also finally experienced the terrible bugs that everyone warned us about. It may be because we were expecting the worst, but it hasn’t seemed any worse that some summers on the farm. I know it’s always better in town and I haven’t gone on the land that much (or I haven’t stopped on my quad long enough) to think they are just unbearable. But, as everyone did say, I learned to appreciate the wind that kept them away at times.

Back to Chubbie – we absolutely love him! He’s so smart, and although he has his puppy tendencies, he’s pretty well behaved. Gerald is very good at training him (and training me on how to train him). He waits to eat his food until he’s told he can eat it, he sits on command, he can ride on the back of the quad….I guess that’s it. But he’s so cute! We are doing so much more walking now that we have him. I think we’ve only missed walking him a couple nights so far. The kids in town all know who he is now. They ask one of two (if not both) questions when they see him: “What’s his name?” And “does he bite?”. He’s growing fast and is going to be a very big dog. A couple times now I’ve hardly been able to hold him back when he sees a Siksik (ground squirrel).

We have great friends that were able to take care of our entourage of pets while we were gone. Although the cats pretended they were starving their bellies showed that they were well fed. They did demand a lot of attention for the first few days back though. Chubbie spent some time at his new friends’ house. Gerald’s coworker has a Terrier (I think?) with a fenced in yard. Chubbie did get into some bad habits and was jumping all over me the first few days I was back. He also chewed his bed to pieces and if his water pail is not completely full, he spills that and chews on it for awhile. He does get tangled around the BBQ or posts sometimes and we’ve gotten up a couple times at night when he’s made it clear he’s tangled and not happy. The cats are also adjusting to their new brother. Tommy (who is generally the braver of the two) was traumatized for the first week (Chubbie snuck in and made a round through the house). He hardly ate but actually lost some weight, which he needed to do. There was another time that Chubbie ran in when Gerald was having a guys night. I guess Tommy went from on top of the couch and did a Matrix thing running right up the wall (there’s scratch marks to prove it). Trigger likes to sit on the other side of the door and listen to Chubbie move around but the cats move away pretty fast once we open the door. They were getting pretty brave before about walking out onto the steps so it’s a good thing that Chubbie keeps them from doing that anymore. Gerald did build him a very nice dog house but he hasn’t started sleeping in it yet (of course we put the dog bed in there to entice him and Chubbie just pulls the bed out to chew on).

At the end of July my niece Tea was born. It is the first child for my brother in Calgary and I was still a bit sad even though I had known for awhile I wouldn’t see her until she was older. So I guess that’s the one positive thing about a family emergency bringing us back to Alberta. I took a 24-hour trip to Calgary to visit my niece, parents, and a couple friends. My friend was actually supposed to come up to Rankin the day after we left for Edmonton. But at least I got to see her for a bit in Calgary.

It’s actually getting dark now before we go to bed – sun is setting around 9:30. Volleyball has already started up again, same with step aerobics. I was a bit worried as our step aerobics teacher is moving away but someone else has volunteered to teach. Kids went back to school in early August as they finish at the beginning of June. I know that does actually relate to daylight and nicer weather.

I finally added some pictures, and they actually all relate to my previous entry.




Quadding with friends - everyone wears a helmet



Around mid-June. The ice started melting not long before and our photography skills do not show how beautiful the bright ice & water looked against the rich brown and green of the tundra.



Mikku drying near someone's cabin




Gerald and Albert testing out the ice




Gerald fly fishing




10km run - we did it!



Chubbie's first big walk with us



Chubbie's first ride on the Honda




Fishing on Canada Day



Now these ladies know how to fish...

Jun. 25th, 2007

Running & Quadding

We ran 10 km! The run was on Friday and we ended up having beautiful weather. As I’ve complained about the weather already, it’s usually very windy or raining lately. There have been a few days 10 degrees, and although Friday arrived with a 60% forecast for showers, it turned out to be one of the nice days.

I had done quite a bit of training but other than two times, it had all been indoors on a treadmill. I think there were close to a hundred people that registered (3 different distances) but shortly after the run started I was all by myself. I knew it was a good sign when 17 minutes passed before I looked at my watch. I kept a steady pace for the most part and took 3 two-minute walks then sped up for the last 10 minutes. My goal was an hour 10 min. and I think I finished in an hr 6 min. My knee started to hurt during the last 15 minutes and if this had been a routine run I would have stopped right then. Later that night it started to stiffen up as I was sleeping and I wasn’t too mobile the next morning. But my muscles were only slightly sore and I suspect the intensity of my knee injury was due to the very rocky surface we were running on (not your average gravel road in the south). I really enjoyed the run. It was very well organized and I met up with a lot of other people from other sports/activities. Gerald did beat me (which I expected) even though he did very little training.

The weather is getting better and I’ve spent a lot more time outdoors over the last couple of weeks. A few weeks ago we had a winter storm watch and I thought I was going to become seriously depressed. But nothing ever came of it other than a lot of wind, which resulted in one of our outside windows breaking. I heard a loud noise and the cats bolted away from the window they were sitting in front of. I looked out the window and wondered if something had hit it, and I debated on whether or not I should go outside and check. Just when I decided that I didn’t want to bother, I heard a knock at my door – it was my neighbor asking if our window had just shattered.

That wasn’t the only mildly traumatic experience the kitties had that week. They often jump into the tub to lick up the water after we’ve showered. We had been having some problems with our hot water tank and when I went to the fill the tub one night I realized we had no hot water. I stopped running the water and a few minutes later I heard a thud and some frantic scratching and splashing noises. We saw Tommy running from the bathroom leaving a trail of water behind. So he had jumped into the tub thinking it was empty and freaked out when he found a couple inches of water in there. If that wasn’t funny enough, a few minutes later we heard the same thing. This time it was Trigger running away from the tub all wet. I think it was one of those things where you would have to be there to find it funny but I’m sure other cat owners get the picture.

It was like Christmas a couple weeks ago when we received an order from Sears. The biggest item was a new duvet and I am sleeping much better now that my allergies aren’t bothering me. We ordered some summer clothes – some t-shirts for everyday and some shorts for our Hawaii trip. Both Gerald & I found our shorts, which we had ordered in our usual sizes, a little hard to fit into. So that should be good motivation for us to get into shape (despite any training we’ve done for the 10km run we still eat a lot of junk).

Our first big summer outing was the weekend before when we went quadding (I actually went both days). It was fairly warm but after driving for a while my fingers got pretty cold and I probably should have dressed warmer for being out for a few hours. The scenery was beautiful as the lakes were mostly frozen and very bright blue. I don’t think I’d go as far as saying the land is green but it’s a rich dark color and when the sun occasionally came out it really was a nice view.

The night before the run we went fishing. I knew I was not going to do any type of walking or workout but the weather was quite nice, so when Gerald came home to say he was going fishing I said I would join him (he was surprised). We went out at 7pm with the quads and drove to a lake that was frozen over. Our friend said we’ll just drive over the lake to the other side and Gerald & were both like “you expect us to go on the ice?”. Then he suggested we just walk around this side of the ice and I still blatantly refused since only a couple weeks ago I vowed to never go on the ice after May (that decision was based on hearing about some people falling through the ice, and May just sounded like a nice cut-off to me). They finally convinced me to walk on the ice (it was at least 4 feet thick) and I eventually felt comfortable enough to drive the quad across. I think this was only my second time fishing and I did manage to get a couple bites so that made it more exciting. Then Gerald decided to go and fish in the hole that I was in and he pulled a trout out a few minutes later. We headed home and it was getting a lot cooler since the clouds came out so again I wished I had dressed a bit warmer. I was surprised to see that it was 10pm when we got home (and it was the longest day of the year!). Gerald went out fishing again on the weekend and caught a nice trout. The fish hadn’t been biting too much that day and Gerald was the only one out of 6 to catch one. It is good to know he will always be there to provide for me - haha!

So I got sucked into the ‘Facebook’ thing. Only because I received 4 requests in one week to join. I think within a week I had connected with someone from every circle of my life and had the potential to connect with many more from there. It is pretty cool but I can see me losing interest after awhile.

We have quite a few pictures so I’ll try to upload them soon.

Jun. 4th, 2007

Untitled

As you can see, I'm having problems coming up with witty titles. I was going to go with "Mud, Wind, & Sunlight" (vs. Earth, Wind, & Fire), or "Thank God for Amazon.ca & the Churchill liquor store" or "June - Bright & Brown" or "work & wind". I guess point is that this entry covers a lot of not so exciting updates.

This morning we woke up to a skiff of snow on the ground and the wind was strong and cold. I’m really getting sick of the wind, especially now the garbage seems to be appearing out more from underneath the melted snow. Most of the snow has melted in the past 2 weeks and it’s still pretty muddy, as we’ve also been getting some rain. The one morning it was freezing rain so it was pretty tricky walking to work. I so miss green grass & trees! Just a couple weeks away from the longest day of the year and the sun is rising shortly after 3am and setting around 11pm.

A few weeks ago I went to play bingo at a friend’s (first time since the big win!). I can’t say I was any more excited or had any higher expectations to win but it was still a good way to pass the time. We then spent the rest of the evening trying out her new Wet Jet Swiffer. I’m a bit embarrassed to say how exciting that was. I didn’t go out and buy one the next day, but it’s on my shopping list. I never thought I’d see the day where I would be excited about cleaning supplies (well it’s not like it’s cooking supplies – I know that day will never come).

Last weekend I ventured to the legion for the second time and this time Gerald came along. There ended up being 6 of us that went together and it was a lot of fun to go out as a group. One couple used a babysitter for the first time since their second child had been born so I was also excited for them to get out. I think we left shortly after 1am and were surprised to see that it was still light out! The night after the legion we were invited out for supper and then again the night after. So we really had a social weekend.

Last week at work was pretty busy and stressful for me. I worked until midnight on the Monday night (at one point I was thinking about how I shouldn’t walk home so late in the dark, but then I realized that I wouldn’t be dark unless I stayed until the wee hours of the morning). The auditors arrived the week before and I was so proud of myself as I had never been so prepared for an audit before but I’ve also never been the only person responsible for it before. I should have known that things were going a bit too well. They found some issues and mentioned that everything could really fall behind and I may not meet my deadlines (we have a legislated deadline for our annual report).

So the next few days were much of the same of me feeling confident about my work but then getting comments about potential issues that could possibly cause significant delays in completing the audit. But by the time they did leave at the end of the week, I was told that everything looked pretty good and I had done well for my first year (Hello – thank you!).

We got a couple of exciting deliveries last week. I got a few books I had ordered from Amazon, two fiction and one for workouts. I was pretty excited about the workout book and started reading parts of it the first night I got it. Of course I was all motivated as I read through the parts about training but when I got to the nutrition part (the area I need the most help in), I immediately thought their suggestions were ridiculous and figured I could never be that disciplined. I suppose I should read that chapter a few times and at least put in a bit of an effort. Saturday morning we made crepes, fried in lard and covered in Nutella. I figured I would start eating healthy soon so we should have one last bad breakfast.....then Sunday we had french toast.

We also received our first order of booze. I’ve probably mentioned that alcohol cannot be purchased in town (legally). If you are flying in you can bring in one forty with you so we usually bring something back from our trips out. We also make our own wine, which just requires that we bring juice in and there are no issues with us turning it into alcohol. Anyways, other than our homemade wine, we don’t drink a whole lot. We have a couple carboys on the go right now and were down to our last two bottles of homemade. Me being the one that probably drinks the majority of it, I mentioned to Gerald that we’d have to take a break until the new stuff is ready. But he suggested we buy some decent stuff in the mean time. There are two options for ordering. Both Iqaluit and Rankin have warehouses that you can buy from. Of course, you can’t buy from the warehouse of the community you live in. The other option is to ship it from the south (Churchill being the closest location), but that requires a permit. Either option involves freight costs but the common belief is that it’s cheaper to ship from Churchill and pay “southern” prices (permit cost is pretty minimal).

On Friday night I went out for dinner with the girls from work. The restaurant was pretty quiet but a small pack of unidentified men came in and suddenly one of the girls thought we should go out. I was a party pooper though. As much as I needed a drink after my long week of work, I was exhausted and wanted to get to bed early. Seeing as I don’t often have the options for going out (not much to do and I still don’t know/or hang out with many people), part of me was thinking I shouldn’t say no. But when I was sitting on the couch later with the kitties, I realized how I’m just not that social. Even though I’ve been missing being able to go out for drinks I don’t think my lifestyle would be that much different if we were still living in Calgary. I would just be saying no more or wishing I had less commitments to go to.

Tonight was supposed to be my second last step aerobics class but due to conflicts with the gym we’re now done for the year. I knew it would be over soon but I’m totally sad that it’s actually done. Volleyball is either done or will be this week and I haven’t been going at all. But it will be interesting to see how the summer goes with ”no commitments”. I’ve been pretty good with training for the upcoming run and I’ll probably add more weights into my routine now that my other activities are done. We also found out that the girl who’s been regularly teaching step is moving away. She was very good about committing to teach class on a regular basis. There are a couple other people that have taught the class so hopefully they will be able to do it more often. I have offered to coordinate the classes and make sure we have an instructor & supplies, etc. but even though the current instructor started doing it without training, I don’t know if I could. Even during class I practice counting the steps and try to think about the next routine but I have a hard time figuring out the timing of what comes next and I still constantly look at the step, and trying to talk out loud would really complicate things!

May. 4th, 2007

Snowmobile trips & Spring

I guess it’s been a month since I really wrote anything – but I’ve got lots of pictures with this entry! We’ve been very busy, mostly with work but there have been a lot of other things going on as well.

The first weekend that Gerald was back we went to a friend’s cabin by snowmobile. It was pretty slow going on the way out as they were pulling a qamutik (sled) but it was just the two of us on the way back so it was less than a half hour back to town. To make Gerald happy I tried fishing but starting pouting after about two minutes. It was about as boring as I expected and although the day was warm compared to most of the winter, it was still too cold for me to be standing around holding on to a line. It was a fun day though and nice to finally get out on the land. On the way back we could see Rankin in the distance and the sun was close to setting so the town looked quite pretty.

That weekend was Easter so on Sunday we also hosted a crepe brunch for Gerald’s coworkers. We often have potluck dinners for holidays but instead we had an Easter egg hunt for the kids and then made crepes. That day, one of the guys built an igloo between the houses so that was fun to watch him carve the blocks out of the ice and put them together. He made it look pretty easy!

We had company again the next weekend after when everyone came over for a spaghetti supper. The occasion this time was that a new member had arrived. Gerald also went fishing again that weekend (I figured I should work so I couldn’t go along – how unfortunate for me). He caught a trout so we cooked that up for supper the next night.

I had a volleyball tournament going on a couple weeks ago. Our team got second place and lost by one point in the final set. It was a lot of fun and a lot more competitive than regular nights of volleyball, which I’ve hardly been going to anymore. On the last day of the tournament we got a tonne of snow. I think it only ended up being two feet but it seemed like more. I was so excited to finally wear my Sorel boots (especially since I hadn’t owned a pair of winter boots since I moved away from the farm almost 10 years ago). Apparently snow like that is common in December but not so much for April. In the morning I drove a friend’s truck to her house, and blew three stop signs on the way there just to make sure I wouldn’t get stuck. By the end of the day there were a few vehicles stuck in the ditch. Gerald got a truck stuck by our house but he made me promise not to put a picture of it on here…..but he didn’t say I couldn’t write about it!

Last weekend Gerald organized a Snowmobile poker rally to raise money for the Christmas Hamper fund. I had actually never heard of a poker rally before (apparently it’s common in Northern Alberta), but you basically snowmobile from one destination to another and pick up cards at each location. Whoever has the best hand in the end, wins. Since my friend’s family’s cabin was going to be one of the pit stops, I was going to volunteer at that location with them so we traveled out the night before. The next morning we eagerly waited for the first participants to arrive. Twice we saw a snowmobile in the distance and got our hopes up but eventually the first group came. We were so relieved after that group….but no one else ever came. Gerald put a lot of work into planning the event, as well as many other people, so it was pretty disappointing. There were a lot of events going on all week and although there wasn’t supposed to be anything else planned for that Sunday, there were actual snowmobile races and some other things. Also, the conditions were not that great as the sky was as white as the snow so it was very hard to see tracks and find your way along the trail. It’s also been warm so the snow has been quite soft which makes for slower travel and more gas burned. My highlight that day was that I finally saw some Caribou on the way back to town.

It’s been above zero degrees most afternoons for the last week. I never realized how many potholes were in the roads until now with all the water sitting around. The days are also getting very long. The sun rises at 4:45am and sets at 9:30pm. The brightness was bothering me for a while in the mornings but I think I’m getting used to it. We’ve been told to avoid putting up foil on the windows and just try to get used to it. As I’ve mentioned before, although there were days in the winter when the sun was only up for four hours, the darkness wasn’t that noticeably different to us. But apparently it doesn’t get completely dark some nights in the summer. That should be pretty cool.




On the way out to the cabin



The cabin



Building an igloo on Easter Sunday



Gerald's trout



Not a great picture, but there's Tuktu (Caribou) in the distance



Muskox hide outside our neighbors' house

Apr. 24th, 2007

Lucky night!

I love gambling! Well at least tonight I do. I just won the bingo jackpot (this is Janice writing). I had to split the pot with another person but I'm not complaining. I haven't played very often so I guess I'm one of those annoying people who hasn't contributed much but comes out ahead! At the beginning of the night I was even wondering to myself how much money I had "wasted" playing bingo up here.

I think I've explained before how bingo works up here, but it's played over the radio. The only reason I was playing on a weeknight is because it was a friend's birthday and she figured she'd have some luck (whoops - nice friend I am!). Anyways, I realized I had one number left to go on the blackout and I think they called that number next. I was flustered right away as I phoned in to the radio station as your voice is live on the radio. I was calling the numbers way too fast for the announcer to review them, and I had to repeat my name a few times. I felt so guilty when I went to pick up the money but the feeling is wearing off....

I have more things to write about but I'm too excited so that will have to wait!

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