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Jul. 26th, 2008

Reproducing in Rankin

It’s summer time and therefore the best time of year here. The mosquitoes don’t seem to be as bad as last year possibly because we got a lot less rain than before. I can provide a list of excuses as to why I have not wrote anything for the past four months but the main one is that I just finished the busiest time of year for my work, and of course, I’ve just been to lazy to write anything.

There’s been lots of exciting things going on such as my parents coming to visit, we are going on holidays in two weeks and will be seeing some family for the first time in two years, we’re down from 3 pets to 1, my friend is pregnant and due at about the same time as me – oh yeah, I guess that’s our big news! I’m 15 weeks pregnant which means I’m due mid-January. Not only will our first child be born in the north, but he or she has a good change of arriving in the middle of a blizzard!

Before we moved up here we thought we would wait to have kids until we moved back south. We were pretty ignorant of what kind of health care was available here and very much in the mindset that a hospital is the best place to give birth. Also, for most of my adult life having kids has been about “10 years away”. It was only in the past year or two that I stopped using 10 years as a reference point. I’ve talked to a lot of women who have given birth here and those that experienced it here and also in a southern hospital have all said the experience up here was far better. Between living here and also taking to friends that have had home births we’ve become a lot more educated about midwives. There are doctors here but it’s the midwives that take care of all births. There are essentially no drugs (no epidurals) or the option of having a C-section. For that you would need to go to Winnipeg or Iqaluit. So if someone would have said we were going to have kids up here (okay, a lot of people said that before we moved), and said I would plan to go through the birth without all possible forms of pain relief available – I would have said they were crazy!

We told our families as soon as we found out (by the way, those pregnancy tests that claim to get results before your period is due – they work). Over the next few weeks we told close friends and the plan was to not tell anyone else until the 12-week mark. But we were so excited so the news trickled out to most people before then. I immediately ordered some pregnancy books and after reading one and a half of those and constantly researching things on the internet, I had to take a break. There is such a thing as too much information. I’ve also only recently started thinking about the actual birth. The past couple of weeks I’ve been watching lots of episodes of birth stories and no longer think the whole experience is disgusting and horrifying. I even cried during a few of the episodes.

I’ve also been very lucky and had almost no symptoms. I was extremely tired during the first 10 weeks but I never felt sick. I weigh myself every week because my stomach has been expanding for at least the past month but the numbers on the scale are hardly changing. I know it doesn’t matter if they do but it seems so bizarre that I’m not technically gaining weight. My stomach is not the only part expanding and Gerald was excited to notice an increase in my chest size after being away for 2 weeks.

I had a bit of a hard time not drinking at first as I often have a glass of wine in the evenings but I had been cutting back and mentally preparing myself for months already. There were a few months where I would savor what could be my last glass of wine. So then whenever I found out I wasn’t pregnant I would celebrate by drinking a couple bottles of wine – just kidding. I think it always seemed hard because earlier I had no definite reason to not drink. Once we really increased the chances of getting pregnant, if ya know what I mean, it was a lot easier to not consider having a drink. I do still enjoy opening a bottle and taking in the smell before pouring someone else a glass.

Besides the pregnancy, our next biggest news, or probably the most significant event to us, was losing our cat Tommy. He had always had problems with getting crystals in his urine and he got very sick a year after we first got him. But since that first time we were able to control it with special food and at the first sign of problems would give him his super-special food to help get rid of the crystals. I came home from work one day at the end of May and saw Tommy in the litter box and noticed 10 minutes later that he was still there. A little while later we saw him still in there but slumped over, obviously exhausted from trying to go to the bathroom. We knew this was worse than ever before and knew that if he was not going to the bathroom at all his bladder could rupture in less than a day. I called the 24 hr vet in Calgary and gave them the whole story about why we could not bring the cat in to see them (our normal vet in Calgary no longer needs this story and readily give us advice over the phone). By the end of the conversation I told the person at the vet that we would consider putting the cat down if we thought he was suffering too much. They responded and said he was probably already suffering and we should do what we need to do. So after I stopped crying I told Gerald what she had said and we debated for another hour what to do. When we first got the cats (from my parents farm) we said that we would never spend much money on them but even we’ve certainly spend much more than expected on minor vet visits and expensive cat food. Since we had taken Tommy in a few years earlier for an emergency visit we knew there was the option of a $1-2k surgery. We could have possibly sent him down to Winnipeg the next morning to see a vet. But after watching Tommy get worse and eventually crawl behind the computer to hide (or die), we decided we couldn’t let him suffer through the night. Friends came over and took him away, and that’s all I know, or ever want to know. Neither of us slept that night and I was still an emotional mess when I left for work late the next morning. But as the weeks went by we were amazed at how much cleaner the house stayed as Tommy was the one who tracked cat litter all over, and also shed much more than the other cat. Also to Gerald’s relief, being on full-time litter duty, the litter only had to be changed half as often. We miss him and Trigger missed him for the first week but he’s getting enough extra attention to make up for it.

As for being down to only one pet, Chubby has also left us – don’t worry though, he did not get sick and die. My parents had been considering getting another dog since the one they had was not very active. Since spring I probably was walking him every other day, and Gerald would also take him down the road to chase his ball and/or go swimming. So he did get exercised but it was never enough attention and we always felt guilty every time we walked by him to go into the house. We just felt bad that he was always tied up. He still often jumped on or near people coming to the front door and a while ago he plowed into my stomach. So me being pregnant was probably the final and deciding factor that Chubby should move to the farm. Besides the jumping I also did not want to feel guilty once the baby arrives, and during the winter, when Chubby would have been almost neglected completely.

I did a great deal of research to figure out how we could get Chubby to Medicine Hat. The northern airlines, which are all quite accommodating for transporting pets, only fly as far as Edmonton/Calgary or Winnipeg. We planned to bring him down with us in August but there’s only one flight a week that goes as far as Calgary and eventually I learned that either Chubby would either not fit in a Westjet or Air Canada plane or we would have to check him cargo and pay $300-500. Not to mention the issue of connecting flights and trying to get the dog from Rankin to the farm in one day.

We already knew my parents would be coming to visit in July but they were driving to and from Winnipeg and we thought that would be too time in transport for the dog. Without any other alternatives and the fact that Chubby got to know my parents for a week first, he went him home with them. We were surprised when we put him in the kennel (which he’d never been in before) at the airport and he made no complaints. My parents were surprised even more as they took him out at Winnipeg, drove for a few hours and then stayed at relatives, spent another long day driving & stopping to visit relatives, and all the while Chubby’s only concern seemed to be wondering what the next part of the adventure would be. Apparently he is settling in quite well, enjoying the trees and the grass (must beat sleeping on gravel), and loves the attention of two people who are frequently outside throughout the day. Our only concern is that he may chase after vehicles since that’s how we exercised him a few times here, and he already learned his lesson of not getting too close to the horses.

My crazy 3-4 months of work started in March when I left for a two-week trip which included Toronto and Pangnirtung. I worked every day including most evenings and both weekends and was extremely burnt out by the end. By the time I returned to the office, the audit of our subsidiary companies had begun so I focused on that until mid-May when the Auditor General staff came to audit. That part certainly went much smoother than last year with me being more familiar with my work and their staff also having more experience with our company. Right after the audit was complete came our bi-annual board meeting, which was here in Rankin. It was the night before the first day that I thought I was coming down with something and by the second day of the meeting I felt like death. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who takes drugs for any little thing but being completely congested for days on end is not fun! Especially when it keeps you from sleeping. I desperately did some research in hopes of finding some kind of cold medication I could take but had to brave though it without. Afterwards I realized, what I kind of already knew, the medications just control the symptoms for a short period but don’t speed up the recovery of the cold.

As for non-work activities, well it seemed like neither of us had time for any for a while. Step aerobics finished up at the beginning of June. The first class I went to after finding out I was pregnant I was a bit paranoid, especially about doing ab work. But I got over that and have been maintaining most of the same activities as before. I played “beach” volleyball a couple times on some warmer nights. I probably mentioned this last year but the sand is pretty rocky so shoes are required when playing but it is a lot of fun nonetheless. I ordered some pre-natal DVD’s and was very disappointed in the pilates one and will probably only use it when I’m nine months along, or ninety years old.

Gerald went fishing a few times this spring. I tagged along once and still didn’t catch anything. He was able to take in the char run this year which he really enjoyed. He brought back fish for us and some for Chubby (although it was more than he could eat as we saw him burying some for later). Gerald also went home for two weeks in June to be around for his Dad’s next appointment. The results were quite positive and Gerald enjoyed some quality time with the family camping at the lake.

At the beginning of July my parents came up to visit. They were are first visitors and we’ve been here almost two years – yes, I’m trying to make all of our friends feel bad (even though I realize it is cheaper to go to Mexico)! They were here for about a week and we took in almost all possible tourist activities which was probably more than I’ve done in the entire two years we’ve lived here. Their arrival was delayed by a day as their plane went mechanical and they had to spend a night in Churchill. Due to lack of communication between airline staff we could not find out where they were for the longest time or even what was going on and whether or not the plane even left Winnipeg. Seeing as they should have taken off five hours earlier and I could not get a hold of them on their cell phone I started to worry that they had an accident on the way to Winnipeg. Later Gerald told me that he thought the plane had crashed and that was why we were getting so many mixed messages from the airline! Anyways, everything was fine and we did finally talk to my parents once they were settled in a hotel in Churchill. At least they got to see a bit of the town and were treated to free meals and accommodation so they weren’t too upset by the delay.

On the day they did actually arrive we drove to Elder’s cabin and to the park where I saw the traditional sod cabin for the first time (I’m not sure how I never got there before). I had the day off work on Nunavut day so after going for a long walk we took in the day’s festivities. They had a barbeque and entertainment which included throat singing. There were some contests like boat racing, and tea and bannock making. My parents seemed to love that and mingled quite a bit with the elders. Later Dad took part in a tug-of-war contest as well as a foot race – he even won the 50 and over race! On the weekend Dad and I took the quads down the Diane river road. I was actually hoping to make it to the river but the road (and later just a path) turned out to be as rough as everyone had told me it was. Again I was able to see some new sights and it was warm enough with also just enough wind to keep the bugs away. That night Mom and I played bingo along with a friend. We had no luck but it was one of my semi-regular activities that I wanted her to take part in. Also during the week while we were on one of our many walks, Chubby caught his first Siksik (ground squirrel) - we were so proud! He often chases after them but we didn’t think he’d even been close, or didn’t even know if he was interested in catching them. We took a picture of him with his kill and he probably posed for the camera, then he rolled all over it – nice. A few days later he made his next kill and we were not so proud – it was a nest full of baby birds. We started to worry about the cats on my parents’ farm that he would soon be moving to but to date they have kept their distance from Chubby and hopefully he will learn to peacefully co-exist with them.

I did make some progress on my name change and now that both my credit card and signing authority for work have been changed, I’m quite used to signing my new name. I’m at the point where I can’t remember which name things are under if I call about an account so I sometimes have to give both. Our blog has been added to a list of northern blogs on Northern news service (see link on right). At first I wasn’t sure if I liked that idea but I guess it’s already accessible to everyone anyways.

We leave for vacation in a week and are looking forward to it. We will be spending all of our time in Alberta, most with our families. I’m not sure how we’ll handle the heat but if Chubby can adjust I suppose we can too! I’ve actually posted quite a few pictures this time. The first one is the parka I had sewn for my Mom this past winter.

Mom's new parka (my second & improved sewing project)

Even little kids catch more fish than me!

Chubby is excited for his share of the fishing experience

Dog sled races during Rankin's hamlet days

Gerald enjoying the annual Char run

Taking part in the Canada Day parade

The last of the sea ice which totally disappeared a couple days later (around July 5)

Enjoying the scenery with my parents near Apache pass

Sod house

We finally took a picture by the Inukshuk

Nunavut Day performances

Throat singing

Tea and bannock making contest

Dad taking part in the tug-of-war

View from the Diane River road

Sunrise around 3am in mid-July

Our last picture of Tommy, a few days before he was gone

Mar. 24th, 2008

Nunavut - Land of the Blizzard

Okay, that’s not what Nunavut means (it means “our land”) but this winter I have to wonder. There have been at least two weeks of school/work missed due to blizzards. Usually a storm will only last for a couple days by one storm was actually a week long. I knew we got off easy last winter as I think our first blizzard didn’t occur until February whereas this year the first one was in October and by February we had almost 10 blizzard days. Bu the last two months have completely flown by despite many days of bad weather.

We returned from Coral Harbour on New Year’s eve. We were invited out to my friend’s that night and I was really looking forward to going out since we had been cooped up in a house (someone else’s house for that matter) for a week. It was also a dry community so I was looking forward to having a few cocktails. A small group of us went to the party together and shortly after midnight the guys went home. I figured it was really time to party after they left and I think it was shortly after 1am that I first got sick. I felt like I was spending a lot of time in the bathroom and was quite embarrassed, not realizing until later that most people had no idea what was going on. Awhile later Gerald’s coworkers on duty that night (including his boss) came to give us a ride home. The drive is probably less than 1 minute to get home but I still had to ask them to pull the truck over. So I was even more embarrassed as I puked outside of the police truck, in front of Gerald’s boss, on a fairly busy road in Rankin. Needless to say, I slept most of the next day and managed to figure out what my New Year’s resolution would be – to not drink so much.

A few days after having a self-induced sickness, I caught something else and spent most of the weekend in the bathroom. I figured the only good thing that had happened in the New Year so far was that I was down to my normal weight before the wedding & vacation. I may have lost it all in a few days but oh well – who cares if you’re unhealthy, as long as you can fit into your skinny jeans!

We went over to Gerald’s co-worker’s place for Superbowl Sunday and it was a really fun day. We played lots of games including Jenga, poker, and for our first time, Wii. I noticed that I’m really improving at poker and can actually think about what hands other people might have rather than whether or not mine is good.

I finally began my next sewing project in mid-January. I was working on my second parka - this one was going to be for my Mom. I cut out fabric on a Sunday and began sewing the next day. I thought I would need help at some points but I had written down a lot of good pointers that my friend had given me the year before. When the blizzard arrived that week I was so excited to sew that I didn’t even check to see if anyone was at the office on the first day. It turned out that schools & offices weren’t closed until later on in the morning but no one bothered phoning me and I didn’t actually feel too guilty. There were actually 20 communities in the territory at one point that were experiencing the blizzard. Usually it’s more regional and not that wide spread.

I went in to work the next day since I had a conference call scheduled, and it took me a good 20 minutes to kick away snow from in front of the door to get into the office. When the blizzard lasted for a third day, I decided to work from home. However that day I did get a call first thing in the morning from the alarm company regarding our office. I told them I thought it was just the wind setting off the alarm but wondered if I should have actually checked it out. My co-worker that lives the closest went in to the office and it turned out someone had actually tried to break in. I guess it was a smart time to do it. Luckily they seemed to be scared off and nothing was stolen.

The blizzard continued into the weekend and that’s about when our pipes first froze. We had been quite fortunate until then as it had never happened to us but happened to most other people we knew. We tried calling contractors out but they said they would not come out in the blizzard. We soon realized it was only the bathtub that was froze and Gerald being the ingenious man that he is, figured out how to run a hose from the hot water tank directly into the tub’s pipes. We would continue to do this numerous times over the winter. When Monday morning came I still thought the weather was sketchy but slowly got ready for work. By the time I walked out the door it was almost completely clear so I was not too surprised to find everyone else at the office. That would be our only work day for an entire week. The storm came back as the day wore on and only one plane managed to land that day.
As a reminder, all of our groceries, mail, booze (and people!) arrive by air so when planes are grounded for a week, everyone is starting to go crazy for a variety of reasons.

I found with all the storms that I became obsessed with checking the weather online. Not only would I check Rankin weather but also other communities, to either figure out which way the storm was moving or who out of my colleagues in other communities would be absent from work, or just because I was obsessed with checking it. At one point winds were up to 95 k/hr. And when the forecast finally did show nothing but sunny and clear forecasts I was shocked and then eventually my obsessions with checking the weather faded.

We took Chubby for a walk since he too was going crazy being stuck in his dog house the whole time. We thought there would be times when we would let him in the house but he never seems to be that cold. He just whines if we go inside the house without paying any attention to him. We’ve learned that 5 minutes with one of his toys makes him just as happy as an hour long walk ( and we can usually get him sprinting back and forth on the chain so there’s a bit of exercise involved). He still always finds lots to sniff no matter now cold or how much snow is on the ground. G took him on the lake a few times and discovered that Chubby would go out of his way to run on the snowy patches and avoid the dark, scary ice. He was also running so much and trying to grip the ice with his claws that his feet were bleeding the one time. One day we took him for a drive in the back of the truck. We couldn’t get very far on the road and let him out to run around for awhile. When we went to try to get him back in, he outsmarted us and jumped in the cab of the truck and quickly sat on the passenger seat. We knew he had done this before and realized our pet sitters were spoiling him!

Another struggle for Chubby in the blizzard was trying to keep his bowls from sliding from out of his reach. The one time I was trying to get his bowls before feeding him (so he’s usually quite attentive at this point) but then suddenly he went running past me and took me out at the ankles with his chain. I discovered another dog was walking by so that was why. In some ways he seems to be behaving better, not jumping on us as much and ready to have his leash put back on at the end of walk. But if he’s become more social and if he is off-leash and sees any dog in the distance he won’t come back to us. Before we could usually keep him distracted until the dog was out of sight. One time when I was walking him by myself I could barely hold on to him with the lease since he wanted to visit another dog and he’s getting too big for me to handle! I had both hands on the leash (one choking him with a close grip) and still had to pin his head between my legs so he would stay.

In the middle of February I went for a quick work trip to Arviat. The night I was flying back was Valentine’s day which I hadn’t given much thought to but when Gerald came to pick me up he said he was taking me for a special dinner. The cafe that normally just sells sandwiches was closed down to the public and was providing meals, even with wine, to couples. It was a good dinner and we actually walked home which was nice since we had eaten so much.

That weekend it was fairly warm, about -25 degrees with only another 10 degree wind chill. We took Chubby for a long walk and as we were out be the airport saw one of the large Herc planes land that transport stuff for the mining companies. Saturday we went over to friend’s for a poker game. There were quite a few of us and I made some bold moves and even bluffed for the first time.

Shortly after, Gerald left to go to Alberta for 2 weeks. I was going to leave a week later. More excitement happened as the power went out one afternoon at work. It’s not too unusual so no one thought it was odd until 10 minutes passed and it didn’t come back on. After an hour we really started to wonder and nobody wanted to stay at work. At this point I was considering going out the back office door to pee but luckily someone found a candle we could use for light in the bathroom. We started hearing rumours that generators were down and would be until past the weekend (it was a Wednesday). We did confirm that it was true – 3 out of 4 of the town’s generators were down.

I called my neighbour from the office and she said the power was on so I figured I would head home and enjoy power there while it lasted. I arrived to find it was off and decided to take Chubby for a walk. We went out of town and for the first time I noticed how beautiful it was in the evening since there were very few lights from town. When I got back there still was no power so I took my friend’s offer up and had dinner at their place. About the time we were figuring out which sections of town had power and we saw my outside light go on. I went home to enjoy my 45 minutes of allotted power. I cranked the heat and started making notes of who around me had power when (across the street and my next door neighbours were on different intervals than me). It really was ridiculous how much time I spent looking out the windows trying to figure out who had power when. I eventually used my time efficiently and put some wedding pictures into albums. It didn’t really bother me to not have TV or internet but I did miss having music (discovered that our portable stereo takes 6 DD batteries which we did not have). In all my pearing out the windows I managed to see a bit of the Northern lights (which I never see because I never go outside late enough) as well as an eclipse that happened that night.

I thought I had turned out all lights when I went to bed but discovered around midnight, when the power came on next that I had not. So for almost a full 24 hours we would go for two hours without power then 45 minutes with. I went into the office for awhile the next day even though schools and most offices were closed (they declared the town to be in a state of emergency). When I got up that morning I knew the power had been on for awhile so I was hesitant to get in the shower worried that it would go off while I was in there. Luckily it stayed on for a little while after I finished my shower. Of course I was quite on the ball and left my house when the power went off and arrived at work shortly after it came on. The walk to work was very eerie, as the town seemed even quieter than when there is a blizzard going on. I think it was the complete stillness and later realized that the lack of smoke from homes not being heated is what looked different. Stores only opened when the power was on for their respective locations. I needed eggs but after walking in one store and finding a line-up of thirty people, I decided it wasn’t that important.

I worked from home the day after although we generally had continuous power. The mayor had gone on the radio to say that a second generator was up and running but they would like offices to remain closed in order to conserve energy. There was supposed to be a big hockey tournament in town that weekend so it had to be postponed. Even the next Monday they asked offices to only open for half days, but I was mean and suggested everyone come to work. We have enough windows that we can almost function without any lights on. It was that night that I flew out to join Gerald in Alberta. The day seemed to fly by as I had lots to finish up at work but I felt good when I left and was also reassured knowing we would have a reliable house sitter again.

The weekend before Ieaving, I spent most of it writing out thank-you cards for wedding gifts. It was a pretty tedious job but it did help me reminisce about the wedding, vacation, and the good times with friends. I also had to finish sewing my Mom’s parka. I ended up breaking a small part of the zipper but ran out of time to fix it properly. For the most part I had taken more time on certain parts of the coat and it showed. Overall, I was very happy with how turned out and even more satisfied when Mom tried it later on and it fit perfectly.

My parents drove up to Edmonton and picked me up at the airport. We spent a day together most of which consisted of shopping at West Edmonton mall. Like other trips, I did have a list of stuff I wanted to buy but I decided that nothing was that important and I did not want to stress myself out trying to find stuff. Most of the things on the list were small and I ended up buying a lot at my first stop, London Drugs. The only thing I really wanted to get was a good pair of runners, which I did. I even treated myself to a couple of Lululemon tops. I usually don’t buy things just because of a brand name but my friend had been telling me for awhile how much she liked wearing them so that made the decision easier. Another thing that was similar to other trips out of the north was overeating. We had breakfast at Denny’s where I think I had the equivalent of 3 meals. We then had a pasta dinner and afterwards I felt as if I had just at Christmas dinner. It was nice to spend the day with my parents and I was also grateful that one of my friends took the day off work and drove up from Calgary. We all visited that evening in the hotel room as we shared a box of wine. Then my friend and I crawled into the sofa-bed in the hotel room and caught up on our girl talk.

The next day I made on last shopping stop at the fabric store before my parents dropped me off at the airport. I was sad to leave so soon but looking forward to seeing Gerald again. I flew to Grande Prairie, met up with Gerald and we did a bit of shopping before going his family’s farm. We made a quick trip to Costco where I bought the usual: clothes, books, and power bars. We went a little crazy on some Easter candy in anticipation of holding an Easter egg hunt in Rankin. Even though we knew we would dig in the chocolate ourselves we figured there would be enough leftover, seeing as we bought almost 100 Cadbury crème eggs!

When we got to his brother’s house the kids were all happy to see me. Gerald tried many times to get them to quit calling me Janice and start calling me “ma tante”. It was kind of neat when they did call me that since I was already used to being Auntie with my brothers’ kids.

The weather was very nice in Tangent, around zero degrees. We went snowmobiling and even though a lot of snow had melted there was still quite a bit on the ground. When Gerald’s brother asked if I had drove a snowmobile before I said yes knowing I had drove the winter before in Rankin and I also figured I had drove a bit in my childhood. So we drove out of the yard and I immediately got stuck. Not too much later we were driving in deeper snow and I felt the machine start to tilt sideways. Slowly I ended up at a complete stop with the machine on its’ side. It was then that I realized I had no clue how to drive. That’s also when Gerald explained to me that I was not out on a Sunday drive and had to be an aggressive driver and shift my weight when steering. I think I improved as we drove along and it was a lot more fun after awhile.

We returned to Edmonton on the Sunday as the next day his Dad had an appointment at the cancer centre. While Gerald & his family went to his Dad’s appointment, my sister in-law & I took the kids shopping (and by that I mean we shopped and forced the kids to go with us).

The next day we went to the Museum where Gerald & I were excited to see the “Tuktu prayer’s” exhibit. It was supposed to be a tribute to caribou in the north but it consisted of a few paintings by non-Inuit artists. Otherwise the museum was somewhat interesting and kept the kids entertained. That night, Gerald, his brother, dad, and nephew all went to an Oiler’s game. While us ladies and kids were at the hotel I flipped through the sports channel’s and discovered that the guys were probably not having a great time as the Oiler’s were getting beaten badly. When the fire alarm went off in the hotel later that evening I knew for sure we were in for more excitement than the guys. When the alarm first went off I thought it was something just in the room but didn’t recall even seeing an alarm clock in there. I soon realized it was the first alarm and when I looked out into the hall (no, I didn’t really check to see if the door was warm) I learned from someone that there was a fire downstairs. I had planned to just grab my jacket, shoes, & wallet before making sure the rest of the family was ok but they came by our door first and were quick to evacuate. Luckily we had finished swimming earlier because as we filed down the stairs and out in front of the building I saw people shivering in swimsuits and towels outside. It wasn’t too cold out but it was nice to be dry and full dressed. The fire trucks quickly arrived and we waited for about a half hour as they cleared the smoke out of the lobby and did their inspection (apparently it started in the laundry room). Some stranger came by to offer hot chocolate to the kids, purchased at the nearby Tim Horton’s. My niece was smart enough to refuse until her Mom said it was okay to accept the drink from the stranger. When we did go back inside we noticed the smell of burnt plastic all the way up to our room on the top floor.

We got up at 5am the next morning to head to the airport. Before we checked in we had an idea that the weather was bad in Rankin as it had been blizzarding the day before. They gave us a weather warning at check-in and we headed through security where I had my usual body search (it is ridiculous how often I get chosen for those!). As we waited at our gate they gave us the option of not going on the flight since they would not likely land in Rankin. We considered staying in Edmonton but had spent a lot of time there already and experience has already taught us to always get on the flight in case there’s a chance of landing. We booked a hotel room in Yellowknife just in case and when we landed there they said they would not even attempt to land in Rankin. It was disappointing but you can’t get that upset since it’s just a part of living in the north. We arranged for one of the last available rental cars and checked into the Super 8 shortly after 10am. It was then we remembered that the Arctic Winter Games were starting that weekend and realized we would not have a hotel room if we could still not go back to Rankin on Friday. Luckily the weather improved the next day.

We tried to shop at Wal-mart but really had nothing left to buy. If felt almost wrong as we walked out of there after spending less than $20. We went for lunch at BP’s and both napped for part of the afternoon. I did my first workout of the vacation and then we went for dinner. The next morning we had breakfast at Timmie’s and I tried to shop at Mark’s Work Wearhouse. Another place I had already shopped at and again came out only spending $20. That night we went for a rather expensive dinner to a French restaurant. It was very good and we realized this weather delay had kind of turned into the honeymoon that we never had. Nonetheless, we were very happy to land the next day and come back home to Chubby and the kitties.

That night our friends wanted to go out to the Legion. It seemed like an okay idea at first but we were quite tired and everyone seemed drunk when we arrived so we didn’t stay very long. By Sunday I knew I was getting sick but I had so much work to do so I planned to go to work the next day. The weather gods were in my favour and I woke up to a blizzard. It started to clear up in the afternoon but I decided to keep resting and seemed to feel better Tuesday for it. Wednesday however, I felt completely awful again. I was supposed to leave that evening for Winnipeg and when I went home for lunch ended up napping for two hours. I was going to be taking a one-day course and didn’t think I could cancel that, or flight or hotel this late. So I slept for most of the flight but didn’t prepare for the pain I would experience when landing. I guess I have never flown that sick before and have never had problems with my ears popping. It was quite painful but I was feeling somewhat better when I went to bed.

The course was about Business planning and fairly interesting. It was downtown and after it was over I was feeling well enough to walk around for a while. I had not been in Winnipeg before other than a quick overnight during our November trip, and it was pretty busy with the Brier going on. Again I tried to shop but really had nothing to buy. My weekend was quiet other than being invited out for a work dinner at the hotel Saturday night. Since G & I were still recovering from both being sick, we didn’t even walk Chubby.

Between storms, power outages and me traveling a lot I have hardly been to volleyball. Step aerobics didn’t start until February so I went as much as possible but again, there haven’t been many classes. After my first class back in February I was surprised how sore I was as I had been working out in other ways. This past week I really wanted to get moving again but the first Step class caused me to do a lot of coughing. By Wednesday’s class I was finally feeling somewhat normal.
On Monday I will be leaving yet again for my year-end trip for work. I will go down to Toronto for the inventory count at our wholesale and retail locations and then will go to Pangnirtung on the way back. I’ll be gone for over two weeks but after that it’s crunch time and no planned travel until maybe the summer.

The one day my co-worker’s nephew who was about 5 years old was in the office. He kept peering in my office so I started asking him some questions. He raised his eyebrows as people often do here when they are responding in the affirmative. My co-worker told him he needs to say yes but I said I understood what he had meant. He then said to me “when I do this”, and he raised his eyebrows, “it means yes”. It was so funny because it was like he was the one who was talking to a child (I think only people who have recently moved to the north will find this funny).

Our marriage certificate did finally arrive in February so I would be able to start making some legal name changes but we opened it up to find we had both become Quellets with a “Q” rather than an “O”. I knew we had printed fairly neatly when filling out the form and it was a dumb mistake considering they spelled Gerald’s last name correctly in the first part. So I put it back in the mail to go back to Hawaii and figured it would be another 2 months before we saw it corrected. However it did arrive just the other day and everything was correct. Unfortunately since I am leaving on my work trip I will have to further delay making my name changes. And when I get back I’ll be awfully busy at work so who knows when I’ll have time to get around to that.....

Another new and exciting thing for Rankin is that we now have cell phone service. I actually signed a new contract shortly before moving to Rankin but have only used the phone when we go south for holidays. So you would think I would use it up here since I am paying for it but I just don’t see the need. I’m either at work or home or playing an activity. Sometimes I stop for groceries on the way home but I usually don’t need to make any calls there or be tracked down. It was surprising how many people had phones all of a sudden.

Today we had our Easter egg hunt which was so fun to watch all the kids. We thought we weren’t that sneaky but it was surprising how many hidden spots were missed! We then had a potluck at a friend’s house, and then had people over to bottle wine, so it was a very busy day. Wine bottling was fun as always. We were able to delegate most jobs and just observe. And I think most stayed out later than normal (including us!) so we played some games and had a very fun night.

Now, there is a blizzard warning for tomorrow so who knows if I’ll be leaving on my work trip tomorrow or not???

Baker Laker - around noon in the middle of December

Coral Harbour - where we spent Christmas 2007

Tuktu in front of the house we were staying at in Coral Harbour

House nearly covered by the blizzard in January

Many people had to dig their way out of their own homes

Went to go for a workout and had to clear away snow that covered almost the entire door.

Chubby taking off before the ball is thrown

Chubby had apparently been spoiled by our friends and figured he should ride in the front!

Jaylin, Janice, & Nathaniel posing near the Ouellet shack overlooking the Smoky River

Dec. 27th, 2007

The Vacation, the Wedding, and Christmas in Nunavut

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:

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!

Nov. 6th, 2007

We're on Vacation!

Well we are minutes away from boarding the plane. Good thing I pre-write most of my entries so I will have enough time to post one last time before we leave for our holidays. You’ll notice that most of the detail is about me being stranded in Cambridge Bay, where I had lots of time on my hands. When I was getting dressed this morning and noticed it was –25 degrees I had a great deal of satisfaction as I put on my wind pants for what would be the last time for a month. Our excitement has been somewhat lessened by the headline news that Nunavut has made today. Another RCMP member has been killed, which is sad any time this happens but is even more disturbing since it is happening way more often.

Back to the beginning of October. The month continued to be muddy with regular occurrences of snow that quickly melted away as the temperature went above and below zero every day. I seemed to be motivated to workout more with a bathing suit deadline quickly approaching. Luckily being anal paid off and I was not stressed with any last minute wedding planning. The only annoying thing that seemed to drag on was planning for flowers. I remember thinking 6 months ago “oh, right I suppose I should have flowers. I better write that down so I don’t forget to look into that”. Of course having a wedding planner helps but that was the only thing she didn’t do for me and redirected me to someone who continually asked my floral preferences to which my response was “I don’t really know flowers....I like purple?”. We had a lilac bush on the farm so I asked her if lilacs were appropriate for a bouquet. When she said they weren’t in season she again asked what I liked. I couldn’t think of another flower name other than rose.

Thanksgiving was very uneventful but it was nice to have a long weekend. I should have organized a turkey dinner but the thought of having to cook the turkey and make more than one person test my experiment was too much pressure. We did make tentative plans for someone else to make a turkey but I ordered one via food mail and it didn’t show up until the Monday and there wasn’t exactly enough time for it to thaw. Speaking of food mail, I’m done with that option for a while. As a quick explanation, food mail is just ordering groceries through specified stores and receiving discount freight rates. Previously this option was not available in Rankin Inlet, I believe because it’s already easier to send cargo here from the south but it has been available since spring. My friend had been doing it for a while and the biggest attraction to me was that there was a larger selection and better quality for produce. On my first attempt, it took 4 days for the stuff to arrive and we had to throw out some fruit that had been mistakenly frozen. But overall I was impressed with the prices so I figured I would try it again. The second time I included a turkey in my order (specified at 10lbs but sold to me as 25!). This time it took 5 days of which that last few I was calling the cargo office 2-3 times a day (because if you wait for them to call to say you have a package, you’ll never get it). Again we had to throw out some stuff and we put the turkey back in the freezer for another occasion, likely Christmas.

I took Chubby for his first ever truck ride. It took a little bit of enticing to get him to jump in the back but once he was in he seemed to quickly realize how good it feels to have the wind blowing in his face. After a ways out on the road I let him out to exercise him the way everyone else does by letting him run alongside the truck. That was a bit tricky though. He seemed to kind of keep jumping up to look at me through the window and say “what are you doing? don’t leave me behind!”. I couldn’t even attempt to leave him behind because every time I stepped on the gas he seemed to go near the tires or disappear in front of the truck. Finally I got some space and stepped on it and he ran as fast as he could for a while. On the way back I stopped to put him in the back again thinking he had more than enough exercise. But I barely had my door closed behind me when he jumped out. So I let him run a bit more but he still didn’t want to get in and we were getting close to town. I didn’t like the idea of tying him down in a moving vehicle but I made the lease short enough that it should be safe. And it seemed to do the job. A few hours after getting home I thought I would open the door to find him zonked out like he used to be after longer walks when he was younger but no such luck. He was only slightly less hyper than normal. I don’t know how we can possibly tire him out anymore!

Chubby is starting to mark his territory more. He is still peeing like a girl most times but I’ve seen him lift his leg a few times now. Maybe that method of peeing makes it easier to frequently mark their territory and he will eventually learn to do it that way all the time. He also always has his nose on the ground. Even with the ground frozen and covered in snow he is always smelling something out. He really seems to like jumping into snow banks. He also got loose for the first time. He’s started to realize that he has freedom during the time we are switching collars before or after his walks. He usually doesn’t go too far. But somehow he got loose when he was on his own. Good thing a neighbor called and of course Chubby hadn’t gone too far.
The cats don’t change much although Trigger has now taken a liking to hiding under blankets. That used to be Tommy’s thing.

Gerald went down to Edmonton in the middle of October to spend time with his parents during part of his Dad’s cancer treatments. It was a quick visit but he was able to drive them to the farm for the weekend and help out with harvest. The trip was only supposed to be for 5 days but weather had other things in mind. We’ve been very lucky so far with weather not delaying us so it was bound to happen soon. The day he left Edmonton his plane had to fly over Rankin due to fog. That meant he landed in Iqaluit but could try to go home again the same day. Again the plane flew over and he ended up in Yellowknife. The next day he waited in the airport while the airline decided what their plans were, eventually they cancelled the flight altogether. The day after, he got on the flight only to flight over Rankin and once again land in Iqaluit. The only bonus (if you could call it that) there was that he was able to schmooze with his bosses. He finally arrived home on Sunday via the police plane.

Meanwhile, I left for Cambridge Bay at the beginning of that same week. We usually had our fall board meeting in Iqaluit but the members had been asking if we could try a different location. There were a few alternatives and after I eliminated a possibility of significant cost differences, I suggested Cambridge Bay. We currently had more board members in that region of the territory so that was a good reason (it had nothing to do with me personally wanting to visit the place…). Because there were quite a few of us coming from the East we chartered our own plane. We knew the plane would be small (8 passenger) but I was a bit surprised when they suggested the first two getting on the plane have waists under 32 inches! And they were right. I was glad I hadn’t eaten before getting on the plane or the seatbelt would have been very uncomfortable. I was a on a bench seat sideways so my knees pressed into my coworkers leg for the entire flight. This presented quite the ordeal each time the co-pilot needed to get past but he seemed accustomed to taking a few strategic leaps without tripping on any bags. Even though it was a short flight we had to stop for gas in Baker Lake where we got out of the plane and walked across the tarmac in the dark and waited in the empty airport terminal. In just over two hours including the stop for fuel, we prepared to land in Cambridge. The pilot said it was foggy and they weren’t sure if they could land but we did manage to. As we got off the plane we found winter to be there as there was a decent amount of snow on the ground and it was about -20 with the wind chill. We stood around and all debated whether or not anyone was around to take our luggage in. Very soon there was a truck driving towards the plane and I went into the terminal where I heard an airport staff member asking if anyone knew who was driving onto the tarmac. The guilty party turned out to be my co-worker who quickly picked up the truck that had been left for us and took matters into his own hands for transporting our luggage. I was actually surprised that he got in trouble for it since so many rules seem to not apply in the north.

As our meeting began the next day, as well in the days beforehand, I noticed that I was no longer remotely nervous about the meeting. I was comfortable with all the boring financial information I had to present as well as with the other topics I did not do much to prepare for. Part of it is definitely that I know what to expect from the meetings and what type of questions I’ll get form the board members but I think I’m also just so confident in that I know all the details of what’s going on – the perk of working in a small company. I even felt comfortable jumping in and offering information on other topics that were not mine to present.

There were a lot of other meetings going on this week including the AGM for the regional Inuit Association. They put on a community feast and entertainment so one evening I was able to see some things I had not had the opportunity to before. I caught the end of the community feast which is okay since I know it involves eating a variety of raw meat off cardboard on the floor. The entertainment started with drum dancing. It was not quit as intense as I expected but it was mostly elders that performed and it was amazing to see how much they enjoyed being up there dancing, and singing. It was mostly the women that danced which I’m told is more common in that region. Then some teenage girls did throat singing, which I had also never seen before. This I was really amazed by. They did it in pairs but with all the sounds occurring at once I would have thought there were 5 people singing. Then a live band started which included a young man who was blind but played the violin very well. Occasionally some people danced but I left shortly after that started.

We also were invited to lunch at the one local board member’s house. She too had a variety of traditional foods available but I stuck to soup and bannock. It’s funny how every time the opportunity comes for me to try anything traditional, specifically raw, I don’t even consider it. I did try frozen caribou once and that wasn’t too bad but I keep going back to my dislike of sushi as reasoning enough not to eat any raw fish.

Our meeting, including a tour of our meat & fish plant, took almost two days, and on the second day I made sure the charter would be there early the next morning to take us home. When I phoned early in the morning to make sure it was on time I was told there was zero visibility in Rankin Inlet. I waited for a call back from the airline and when I asked the front desk if I had any messages they handed my one not from the airline but from Gerald saying he was in Yellowknife (we ended up being stranded at the same time). I continued to check in with the airline every two hours for the remainder of the day until late afternoon when they decided we would try again the next morning. But in the morning the news remained the same except that now not only were they unable to take-off from Rankin, but they were also concerned about being able to land in Cambridge due to blowing snow. So I suggested the airline just phone me when they figured it was good enough to take off so that I wouldn’t have to keep harassing them every couple of hours (I only phoned them one more time that day).

During my additional days in Cambridge I did some reading, even managed a hotel room workout (including water bottles as weights), and was able to go out for a drive with some of the board members. Some of them had seen Musk ox earlier in the day and I was really hoping to see one. We drove around for quite awhile and the snow was blowing more so we had to be careful where we drove. We went to the DEW line site, which was the main reason this community developed, and then out to a different direction where we did end up seeing some Musk ox in the distance. There were about 14 of them. I didn’t have my camera with me of course!

On the second full day of waiting for the plane I actually did some work. Seeing as I had my laptop with me, had access to my work e-mail and all documents, there was no reason I should not be doing some work.

Day 3 – I have again woke up at 7am to phone the person in charge of the airline, at her home number. She again has no good news for me. I have made trips to both the Co-op and Northern twice – each day. I have walked around the perimeter of the town multiple times. I have planned anything possible for the wedding and vacation in general. I have downloaded some more music. I have caught up on facebook messages and other personal e-mails, going as far as re-organizing my e-mail folders. I have just returned from my most recent trip from the Northern with new underwear and a romance novel to get me through the rest of the day. I will attempt another in-room workout. I am dreading suppertime as I have had everything on the menu – twice. One person in our group has been sleeping on top of his covers in anticipation of us checking out every day, and his not wanting to bother the cleaning staff with having to put in new sheets. I did check out a flea market today. There were 4 tables so that killed 60 seconds or so. I get Sunday morning, call the airline, and YES – they have good news for me! I got home around 2pm that afternoon, shortly after Gerald had arrived home. I was very happy to see him and our pets.

A couple days before Halloween we got our first blizzard. I was surprised, as I don’t think we had one last year until February. I woke up that Monday morning and already knew the weather was bad by the sound of the wind. I looked out the window to hardly be able to see across the street and decided I would not get in the shower right away. I turned on the local radio to see if anything was closed and also waited for a call from a co-worker. But I did not hear any news and when I looked out the window twenty minutes later, I could not see anything. I made my own decision and figured no one was going to work. I did have my laptop at home and decided I would try to make the day productive. I responded to a whole bunch of e-mails right around that time we lost our internet connection. It was out for the majority of the day. The power went out an hour later and again a few more times throughout the day. At times the house shook due to the wind, which was supposedly close to 100km/hr. I thought I would go outside to take a picture of the nothingness that I could see but when I opened the door (which was a struggle) I quickly changed my mind. I began to wonder if I had left he house the other times it blizzard. I realized later, after comments from many other people, that this blizzard was a lot worse than the ones last year. Gerald went out in the morning to check on Chubby. Until that point we had never been sure if he used his doghouse, but he certainly was now. Before it got dark we went out to check on him again and found quite a bit of snow in the house. I struggled to hold up the lid without having the wind rip it off, all the while my frozen hair whipped painfully against my face from beneath my toque. Meanwhile, Gerald tried to keep his eyes open enough to shovel out the snow. Chubby was very happy to see us as he always is, and he was covered with some crusted snow, but he didn’t seem to be overly bothered by the cold. It was better the next day although I had to kick away quite a bit of snow to get into our office door. This being one of few doors in the north that opens outward. I guess the builder was trying to meet fire code rather than use common sense.
Halloween was pretty quiet. I debated leaving Chubby out so no kids would come, since most are scared of dogs. But I did move him to the back of the house where he was not very happy. When I went to move him back a few hours later he had managed to tangle himself so much around the fuel tank that he could no longer move.

The day after we had a potluck to welcome Gerald’s new boss. Then Friday was my stagette that my friend had started planning 10 months ago (back when I said I didn’t have any friends to invite). It turned out really good though as 16 girls came. I kept saying I didn’t want any games but we did play some that were much more dirty than lame. There were also some fun prizes and I got some gifts that I was not expecting at all. One game, which tested my knowledge of my future husband, caused me to drink a lot of jello shooters. However, I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I would the next day.
Gerald, however, was a different story. His party was Saturday and when he noisily came home that night I knew he had fun.

Chubby tested my patience Sunday, again breaking loose when I was changing his collar. This time he did not come back right away as our new neighbours had their bulldogs out. Chubby was way too excited to meet his new friends to care if I was getting mad at him. It was even harder getting his collar on that day, now that the time changed and the sun set at 4pm, before we even left for our walk. I think that’s a sign we should head south for out vacation! He also hurt himself that day. He whimpered and limped for a while and I thought he broke his foot but he soon after was running on it again.
I’ve been quite productive at work, especially yesterday as I was trying to wrap things up. At least I was motivated until my coworkers came into my office and presented us with an awesome gift – sealskin mittens! I had been debating buying a pair lately and they are so beautiful.

That’s about it. We’re off to Edmonton, Calgary/Phoenix, and Maui!

Oct. 1st, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

No, it’s not the anniversary of when Gerald and I first met or went on our first date – ‘cause I don’t actually remember when that was (actually I think we did start dating around this time four years ago). We have been here in Rankin exactly 1 year. It has gone by so incredibly fast. I can say that we are quite settled in and have gotten to know a lot of people.

Our first weekend in Rankin last year there was a volleyball tournament going on and Gerald and I both said we would love to be able to play in that next year. A year later, we accomplished our goals! My team ordered bright pink jerseys, which included extremely tight shorts. But I didn’t mind too much as I hadn’t had a jersey since high school. We had a minimum of 7 games to play over 4 days and I was pretty confident that I was in good shape for it. But by the end of the day Saturday I was already hurting and it took me a long time to warm up for my game the next morning. There were three ladies teams from Rankin, two men’s teams. For ladies, Rankin has historically won the tournament, however that was not the team I was on. There was also a team of younger ladies and then ours. I’ve played with this team in a couple tournaments and our track record is generally to play poorer that what we are capable of. Unfortunately, we followed that pattern again. But we did get third place out of 8 teams although we really had to fight for it. Gerald’s team ended up second place.
Summer ended early (earlier than I expected) and fast. We had a lot of fog near the end of August, which during one week meant no planes for a few days. We’ve also been getting a lot of rain and/or wind. It’s snowed a few times throughout September but this past weekend is the first time it stayed on the ground for awhile.
I traveled to Arviat again for work. It was the first place I traveled to last fall.
It is kind of nice traveling now as I know what to expect for accommodations, understand the limited time frame for ordering meals, and am not surprised to see a half eaten bag of chips in my room (this time I knew it was meant for me....not that it stopped me before from eating what was left behind). But it certainly is less exciting to visit these towns the second time. There’s no need for a tour to see where the Northern & Coop are located. It also seemed quieter as far as other travelers. It could have been because summer was just ending and the corporate travelers were just returning from vacation.
Work was extremely quiet for me all summer. Everyone said that summer was quiet in the north but I really didn’t understand until I experienced it. I was supposed to get so much done during that time but I didn’t accomplish much. Our office is so small and there were times when everyone else was either on holidays or traveling for work so it was hard to stay motivated on those days. Anyways, I’ve been scrambling the last few weeks as I had to work on our annual corporate plan and we have another board of directors meeting coming up.
I’ve hit the one-year comfort period with my job, where I no longer feel clueless but am still motivated to make changes and improvements. I know there will be upcoming changes with our company but am not sure of the extent. Since I started work, our President has not had a contract (he is appointed by Cabinet). In June we found out that he would not be reappointed and the government would be recruiting for a new President. So we’ll see what changes that brings about.
Near the end of August we had a going away party for a member that was leaving. It was a lot of fun and I think I stayed out until 3am. The day of the party had been quite busy as we decorated the hall and then had to work a bingo to raise money for softball. Bingo was actually quite enjoyable to work as we had other people to visit with the whole time. With being so busy I didn’t eat as much as I should have before going to the party....and I wasn’t in the right state of mind to remember to eat before going to bed. Needless to say, Sunday was a very unproductive day.

There was an arts and crafts festival in town at the beginning of September. They had a lot of Inuit dolls on display that were just amazing. I went to a fashion show the one night and I also was amazed at how good some of the coats looked. I felt pretty proud as one of our subsidiary companies makes sealskin clothing and accessories and some of the pieces were from there. Susan Aglukark was one of the guest speakers before the show.

I went out to the legion a few weeks ago and then again the next weekend for our baseball social. It’s amazing how many people I know now when I go out.

We had an amazing experience a couple weeks ago as we were finally able to go boating. It was a bit cold but we dressed up for it and the sun was out for at least half the time. We went out to Marble Island, which is 40 km out. I didn’t realize we’d have a chance to see any animals and the people we were with actually successfully hunted a beluga whale. I think Gerald was a bit concerned about how I would react but it didn’t bother me at all. I’m even thinking I may go out Caribou hunting one time yet. I’ve added some pictures below, just the before ones….

Chubbie is getting good at leaping and catching the ball in mid air. He still spills his water all the time and I tried super gluing his water dish to the deck but that only lasted for a couple hours. He’s also managed to chew on everything in his reach, including the doorframe so we’re just starting to lock him out of the porch. He only used his doghouse one night that we know of when the temperature must have really dropped. We have friends that provide monthly updates on how their kids are changing and I’m realizing that’s what this sounds like! That reminds me, I should update the cats profiles on facebook…..

This is a bad day to write about him as I made the mistake of setting down a box of wine bottles with my mail on top as I went to pick up one of his dishes. I forgot to go back for the box and when I finished lunch I went outside to find the box in shreds, our mail all over ours, and neighboring yards, and luckily no broken bottles. Shortly after I left the quad beside the porch (usually it’s parked out of his reach). I’m in the house for less than 10 minutes when Gerald calls from his office (two buildings away) to say that he can see Chubbie chewing something on the quad. I come outside to find my helmet 10 feet away and shredded rubber pieces from the handles (not important pieces – but still!). Of course the whole time I’m trying to clean up he’s jumping all over me! He’s lucky he’s cute.

I’m slowly figuring out the rest of the details for the wedding. I can’t believe it’s less than two months away. We booked all the flights and managed to get the ones out of Rankin (the most expensive of course) on aeroplan. We’ve had a few people back out that’s been disappointing but one of them was due to yet another pregnancy (I think half our guests have babies under the age of 1) so that’s also exciting. There’s also been a few confirmed that we didn’t think would be able to make it so those are nice surprises. My dress has just been finished and it fits perfectly – which is too bad because I needed some incentive to eat healthy for the next month.

We just received our sealift order which is a third of the size of last years order. We still have a tonne of granola bars, KD, soup and baking supplies from last years order. It was exciting to get the stuff though and we managed to sample all of the few snacks that we bought the first night it arrived.

That’s about it for now. 5 weeks until we leave on holidays – 6 until we are in Maui!! Most of the pictures below are just random town shots that I recently noticed we had never taken.

Rankin airport

Baseball diamond - where we often got a cold breeze off the ocean

My office, including "Ivalu" arts & crafts store

Chubbie playing at Stewie's place

Containers being unloaded by the barge (note the vehicles coming out of the containers on the left)

A beluga whale coming up for air in front of Marble island

Joe, myself, and Gerald crawling onto Marble island - tradition, if it is your first visit

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