Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Cape Dorset

Christmas break has been wonderful. We have all been having a great time together playing, sledding and spending time with Lily’s buddies. On Christmas Eve morning our three neighbour kids came over to play. The middle girl is a student in Margot’s class. Lily has always enjoyed playing with them outside but this is the first time we have had them to our house. The kids played for a while and then we got into baking. We made almost three dozen cookies and then had a crazy time decorating them. There were chocolate sprinkles and sparkles everywhere! Later in the afternoon Margot and Lily wrapped them up and we delivered packages of cookies to all the families left in our complex (all four of them). The kids all stayed for lunch and then we all headed out for the Santa Clause parade. The great part about being close to the north pole is Santa has time to come for our parade. Santa stands on top of the fire truck and everyone joins into the procession that drives around town. It was really very fun. The neat thing was that most of the kids know Lily, Margot and me so most kids waved and said Hi to us, especially Lily. Then we joined into the parade on our snowmobiles. It was a funny thing to be in a parade with the police, fire truck, numerous vehicles, quads and snowmobiles. Lily thought it was great. She was so excited to meet him while he was giving out candy and oranges after the parade.

After dinner we went to a community event. It featured throat singers, various teenagers competing for cash in traditional Inuit games, and live music (after we left sadly). Margot competed in an event called the stick toss in which over 100 people stood in a large circle and passed a stick around while music was played. When the music stopped, whomever was holding the stick was eliminated. The event was quite heated and very intense as everyone took it seriously. Margot made it to the final four people before she was eliminated. I didn’t last long in the gambling game I joined. The game is played by placing either $5.00 or an item of similar value onto one of the three squares on the floor. We then took turns rolling a die. If you rolled a one, you get eliminated. Sadly, I was eliminated. Lily had a great time playing with all the kids and running about. But boy was she goony by the time we got home. She is usually in bed, asleep by 7:30 pm. She didn’t get to sleep until almost 10 pm! It was fun to participate with others in the community. However, I wasn’t too homesick until I got home from this. I think seeing all the Inuit playing and spending time with their friends and family reminded me what we gave up to come up here.

Christmas day was fun. It took us all day minus time spent sledding, lunch and nap opening half Lily and our presents. Every one she opened she had to play with for a while. It was so fun that she really enjoyed every single gift she received. Thank you to everyone for sending up such wonderful gifts! We were having such a great time that we lost track of time and missed getting the turkey in the oven. We opted to thaw some steak and tiger prawns instead. However, we missed the boat on that too because we were having so much fun playing, so we had a snacky dinner (sausage, cheese, noodles, etc) and it suited us just fine. We finished presents on Boxing Day. After which Margot took Lily out sledding with some kids while I sorted and re-arranged Lily’s toys and her play area. Now everything has a home in the kitchen.

One of the presents we got for Christmas was Toy Story 3, which is about a boy outgrowing his toys and how sad the toys are about not being played with any more. The reason I bring this up is Lily has opted to sleep with a new doll and has ousted three stuffed toys (a cat named Meow, a bunny that I had as a kid whom she named Booster and another bunny named Deetdeet). She is just fine with this and still plays with them but just doesn’t want them in bed. It makes me very sad thinking about their feelings. I know, I am sappy and they are just stuffies.

We hope you had a great Christmas!

-Richard and Margot

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BYO Rainboots!

Margot and Lily building a Santa's sleigh.

Lily at her concert. Sorry for the unexciting picture, but this is the best I could get from my spot in the gym.

Lily dishing out some love for "the little baby".

This is what Margot arrived to at her school after a blizzard. There is a deck and pathway under the snow.

Lily playing while I get some work done. It's about -23C.

Sledding with the kids.

Lily and Janice taking a break from sledding.

Good Morning everyone. Well, we made it to Christmas break! We are now all done school and I am over my end of school crash (the flu) so we are able to have some fun. It's been nice spending time with my family and start to slow down a bit. Sadly, the weather up here has been terrible. It has been so warm that much of the snow and ice that was starting to form started melting off. In the midst of the heat wave it rained. This carried on for two days then turned to proper freezing rain. You can imagine how icy it is now that the temperature is starting to drop. After the freezing rain, our house ran out of water. It was Saturday night when I had to start calling to get more. I started with the Hamlet emergency housing number and all they could do was suggest other people to call. It was very trying but I did finally manage.

Our Christmas concerts all went well. They are crazy events in which the audience never seems to stop moving/talking/walking. The highlight was seeing Lily's classmates participate in various songs and dances when they joined Margot's concert at the elementary school. They were great and Lily was so funny. She performed a dance routine and song in Inuktitut and was very well received by the audience, along with all the other little ones. My concert was a bit of a challenge as I was partially responsible for putting the event on. It was a challenge to put on a large event in a new school, new community and to me, a foreign culture. Everything went well and we received lots of positive feedback.

Margot and I had a couple of errands to run the other day, so decided to pick Lily up together and head over to the stores. Lily likes being out in the world and we thought it would be fun. Well, it wasn't. Lily had had a long day at school and emotionally crashed shortly after our getting her. She has now hit a stage that involves complete shut down (pitching a fit, screaming, crying, falling to the ground). Knowing she was hungry, Margot grabbed a package of green grapes for her to nibble on while we finished our shopping. This helped a bit, but boy, when that kid get's going, it's tough to get back on track. I find it very frazzling to have Lily in this state. It's upsetting to me to see her so upset, and I'll admit it, embarasing. I can only imagine what bystanders are thinking. Anyhow, when I get to the checkout to pay for our items, the girl shows me the price of the already opened green grapes: $10.89!!!! This is a small package, about a pound. The manager tells me they are about $22.00 a kilo. I am floored, but we already opened them, so we pay and leave. No wonder there are nutrition issues up here when that is what fresh fruit costs.

I have finally gotten our snowmobiles finished (for the most part) and they are now both able to be ridden. Our used machines that were in "great shape" ended up costing an additional $700 in parts. This does not include the labour to do the work. I really dislike buying used things sometimes. However, with that being said, it is great to have them. They make life here easier and more enjoyable. I went for another amazing ride yesterday. I was able to make it to another part of the island and was able to watch a beautiful sunset (at 2 in the afternoon) over the open ocean. In the background I could hear hunters shooting their guns in their attempts to get a whale. There have been belugas around and people are really excited. The ice is starting to build up on the inlet and people are walking on it. The other day, a man's snowmobile fell through though. I heard that both he and the machine were rescued so I suspect it must have happened near shore. It will be great when the ice is thick and stable enough to travel on. I have been invited out caribou hunting on Baffin Island which will be a truly unique experience although a bit daunting.

Take care and have a safe Christmas holiday.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzards and a snowboard

Below are photo's of:

1-5. snowboarding and snowmobiling
6. Lily trying on Margot's snow pants and boots
7. Lisa posing with the fur she and Margot bought for their parkas. Margot's is on the left and is blue fox. It will be enough for three parkas.
8. Lily playing with her helmet.
9-14. Various shots of my tour of the Cape Dorset Artists Co-op.
15. Kala pretending to be a sheep after spending a few minutes outside in a blizzard.
16. Birthday Party!
17. Lily tending her garden
18. Pizza!



















This is a bit of a hodgepodge of written work that I put together into one post. It has been a bit of a challenge it seems for me to get much time or energy to post this last bit. Anyhow, here is how our life has looked lately from my perspective. -Richard

December 5, 2010:

It was quite a week for me at work. Our school has been closed to students all week thanks to our heating system. It has been consistently over 30 degrees Celsius in most of the classrooms and hallways. My class peaked at 43 degrees. Yowch! The DEA (District Educational Authority) has decided that our school is not a suitable place for students. So I spent the week getting the music/drama room cleaned and sorted along with other school beautification jobs. But we had the most staff meetings ever, one lasted all day. It was brutal! I did manage to arrange a tour of the Co-op’s Lithograph and carving studio, which was great. We saw numerous examples of locally produced drawings and prints. The manager was very helpful and took heaps of time giving me and three other teachers a tour. We talked about how to bring the school and the studio closer together which I hope will turn out to be productive. The whole experience was very inspiring.

This week we had students but school was canceled one morning, one afternoon and an entire day due to blizzards. The wind was gusting at over 90 km hr. The entire house was shaking; it was pretty wild and a bit unsettling. In the midst of that, we realized that the heat upstairs doesn’t work. A worker was sent out to fix it but he was unable to. Luckily we brought along a small oil filled heater that keeps Lily’s room nice and warm. The blizzard left a snowdrift beside the building that was at least 5 feet tall.

Christmas is fast approaching and most of the staff from down south are keen to be heading home but are very concerned about the possible weather delays associated with all the blizzards we have been getting. Sadly, we are not going home to see our families but are keen on seeing what Cape Dorset is going to be like at Christmas. I have heard there are all sorts of community activities and often they have a large feast which futures a wide variety of country food.

Speaking of Christmas, we got our tree up and all our lights and such set up. It is very festive here and Lily is enjoying it. We have a small-motorized Santa that moves and sings “jingle bell rock” that we have had forever. Lily is really enjoying playing with him and having impromptu dance parties. Good times!

It is starting to look the way I thought the Arctic was going to look like up here. Last week Lisa and I went out snowmobiling and headed into the back-country. But first I went snowboarding behind Nipple Mountain. Not the best riding ever, but I still got in about 10 or so runs. It was nice to get some turns in. It will be nice when we get more snow then we can access more shuttle runs with the snowmobiles. I have snowshoes, but it’s a lot more fun to get a ride to the top. Also, when we have more snow and ice, I can use my snowkite to pull me on my board and that should be a good time. After snowboarding, we wound our way up and over a couple of mountains and found a super fun bowl to play in. I taught her different snowmobile techniques like how to side hill and get the high mark on the mountain. It was going great until the key for my machine fell out while we were driving. Luckily I was able to get the machine working and back to town. It was so much fun, I love snowmobiling.

Saturday was one of the nicer looking days I have seen up her yet with lots of fresh snow, sunshine and little wind. The sun was up by 10 am so Lily and I, along with a few kids from next door, headed out to go sledding. Very picturesque with the sun hitting the mountains on Baffin Island and the harbour starting to freeze up. I realized how much I miss the sun though. Quite a contrast to when we lived in Calgary, with it’s 200 sunny days a year. I do love cold, clear and sunny winter days.

Lily received a small starter garden that will grow sunflowers recently and is loving it. We take it out everyday and she talks about her garden and how well it is doing. It has five good sprouts on it, which is nice as I was concerned that nothing might grow.

Take care everyone and I hope your Christmas plans are coming along. Drop us a line, we love to hear from people!

December 13, 2010 update:

There are snowmobiles out on the ice today. I thought they were ice fishing but it turns out they are hunting seals. Oh, and last night was an iconic Canadian moment for me. After dinner we took the dogs out for a play in front of our place and it was wicked cold (-28 C). We were all playing in the snow when my neighbor came out with his son to play a bit of street hockey. Meanwhile, the northern lights were blazing across the sky and in the distance I heard snowmobiles zooming around. It was a very cool moment.

Overall, life is good up here. Lily is loving school, Margot and I are doing well with our classes and in our schools and our house is quite comfortable. We hope your lives are wonderful also! We are sure missing our families and friends though!