Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blustery day

Squire and I decided to ignore the temperature (-22, feeling like -37 with the windchill) and head out for a romp in the snow. For a puppy that sat on our feet and shivered when we took her outside after we first brought her home, she takes to winter in the north like she's purebred husky.

We set out to climb the 'mountain' and take some pictures of the gorgeous sun. After chasing a bunny across the tundra, a raven decided to return the favour, and hovered above Squire on the entire walk up the hill.

When we got to the top of the hill, Squire bounded around the rocks like a kid in a jumpy castle, and I settled in to wait for the sun to start setting, so I could take some good sunset shots across the lake.

That plan didn't quite work out - the cold weather ate the batteries in my camera. In fact, when we got home, the entire camera was coated in a layer of frost. I did get one last good shot before the camera died though.

Now Squire and I are cuddled up under blankets and drinking a cup of tea (well, she's not, but I sure am). It was good to get out though, to wander about and get some fun pictures.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Tis the season for...

Purple butterfly cookies?

Ok, admittedly, not really a seasonal cookie. Nor was it meant to be.
One of my good friends from work is expecting a baby - she's due on December 12th. When you are pregnant in the north, about a month prior to your due date, you are sent south (generally to Winnipeg) to await the birth of your newborn, and then you fly back home shortly after giving birth. I think it must be hard on the entire family to have the mommy gone for a month. During the time my friend is awaiting the birth of her little one, her older daughter is having her seventh birthday.
When I was asked to make her cake, I was pretty excited. Then a little worried when I found out she wanted a 'Hannah Montana' cake. (I *think* Hannah Montana is a TV show.....)

All in all, I think it turned out pretty good. And I had a good time doing it.
Happy Birthday to the soon-to-be big sister! And we wish only the best for the safe delivery of the new baby!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

silly puppy

We've been working diligently with Squire, trying to teach her not to run up to people. Instead, we want her to sit and wait for them to come to her to say 'hi'.

It's starting to pay off.

Last night while walking, we came within 25 feet of a white arctic hare. Instead of barking and lunging after the bunny, Squire promptly sat right beside me, hoping and waiting for the bunny to come be friends.

The bunny, of course, declined.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time isn't the only thing that's flying

We had a heads up looking at the weather forecast yesterday.

And we knew with all the soft pretty snow falling last night that we might be in trouble....

It's officially a blizzard afternoon. Visibility is down to barely across the street, and the wind is roaring away. Right now the wind is gusting to 40 km/h, but tonight we're going to get gusts at 120 km/h.

'He' is already curled up on the couch with a book. And the Squire dog is snuggled up next to me while I type this.

We'll see how long this lasts - we could be cooped up in the house tomorrow too.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Update

Time is flying by again. It's hard to believe that in almost exactly a month, we'll be heading south to visit with friends and family for Christmas again.

Heading home at Christmas is always a bit bittersweet; because Air Canada and West Jet won't fly dogs Squire's size over Christmas, she always gets left behind. She's always spoiled rotten when we return home, but it's difficult to leave her here.

We're starting to make our own lists and checking them twice. There's always so much we want to accomplish while we are in 'civilization'. We already have dentist appointments booked, and are planning this week to book eye doctor and hair cut appointments. We're also busily making a list of things we can't get up here and definitely want to bring back with us in our luggage.

The rumours that our current place might actually be 'SOLD' are getting stronger. We aren't exactly looking forward to moving in the dead of winter, but at least we're assured we won't be homeless - not really the time of year for that!

Our busy social life is part of the reason we're wondering where the time has gone. We had a great Euchre night with a couple of friends tonight, and enjoyed watching a movie with a couple of friends on Saturday night. 'He' won the last poker night (I came in numero two) and is anxious to prove that it wasn't a fluke.

We've been keeping busy at work too. 'He' had a big project to get done under a tight deadline, and did a great job pulling everything together. It seems like anytime I get to the finish line of one project, it becomes just the starting line of another. I'm definitely not complaining! I'm enjoying being busy and getting my hands dirty in the financial world. In fact, I'm enjoying it so much I signed up for a distance ed course through Ryerson. It should be an interesting way to pass the dark hours this winter.

Speaking of dark... we got an email about a week ago from a colleague at our plant in Grise Fiord. He told us that the sun had set that day, and wouldn't rise again til February.... Yikes! Even here, I'm staring to notice that the sun is just beginning to set after coffee break, and we're generally walking home from work in the dark. Shortly, it'll be sunshine from am coffee break to pm coffee break. By the time we return from our Christmas trip, our days will already be getting longer.

This year, I decided not decorating for Christmas was sacrilegious, so we invested in several ornaments and brought them back with us last Christmas (our original collection being safely stored away in storage somewhere). I'll post some pictures when I get everything done.

We are looking forward to spending time catching up with everyone while we're home. Please let us know if you want to meet up for a chat or a coffee or whatever. Give us a heads up, so we can make sure we don't just pass each other by with only a wave!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Blizzard of the Season

We're keeping our fingers crossed that we'll be able to spend Wednesday at home in our jammies!

Right now it might be the calm before the storm; it got really mild this afternoon and calm - almost no wind whatsoever. Apparently the wind is going to kick up overnight and reduce visibility to nada.

Click here for the Weather Network's warning.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en

This years Hallowe'en was much better than last years! I think the fact that it wasn't -31 with blizzard conditions was the main reason.

By the way, Hallowe'en in Baker Lake was decreed to be on Saturday instead of Sunday... and from 6-8 only. It was announced on the local radio. Anyway....

I stuck our Jack-o-Boxes out in the snow drift in front of our house, and had many more comments on them. The moms and dads thought they were awesome! Oh, and the scented candles made our front yard smell like apple pie!

I doubled our candy amount from last year and still ran out. $90 of candy was gone by 7:40, when we turned off the lights, blew out the candles, and shut the door. I spent the next few hours trying to thaw out.

I stuck on my Leaf's jersey, gave myself a black eye (with make-up, of course) and made it look like I was missing a tooth in order to hand out candy to the kiddies.

We're looking forward to heading out this morning to go to our first Baker Lake brunch at the Nunamuit Lodge. Our friend is taking us out with her 2nd place winnings in the office Hallowe'en costume contest at the office. She and I teamed up this year and dressed up as our respective bosses, the CFO and the Controller at the company. It was good for more than a few giggles around the office!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Kiddo!

This year marks the first year where Squire is older than her mom (in puppy years, anyway.) To mark the occasion, she got her own cake (mmmmm, pumpkin with milk bone....)

She was less excited about the birthday hat though.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Replay

Our Thanksgiving weekend was probably busier that we would've had back home.

We managed to get all our sealift goods into the house and organized on Saturday. Although our orginal plan was to have dinner at our house on Sunday, we had to delay til Monday because our foodmail (with the all important turkey!) was delayed in Winnipeg for a few days. At least it allowed us to get the house back in order before playing hosts.

It also freed up our Sunday night, so we were able to go to another dinner... and 'he' even got a couple of games of euchre in!

I got my *brand new* stand mixer earlier in the week, and was looking forward to putting it through its paces! For dessert: two pies baked completely from scratch!

Sealift Before and After

Thought you'd want to see Baker Lake's high-tech dock at work! The tugs actually pull the barge into to dock, which is essentially a gravel laneway that juts out into the lake. This year that had a flat barge that they had at the end of the dock, then docked the house barge (and enclosed barge to keep personal effects dry) to the end of the barge. When they first started off-loading, it was a giant parking lot of skids where you wondered up and down looking for yours.

Our pantry underwent a dramatic change once we got everything delivered and carried up the steps into the house.



We made sure to stock up on things that are super expensive at the Northern: pop of all sorts, dog food, cat food, cat litter, flour. The cat litter wound up in the porch, since we were out of room in the pantry. Our sealift this year was around $4K, but paying $5 per case of pop instead of $26 makes it all worth it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfect Timing

So our sealift is apparently on the barge that finally docked in town today. A couple of barges limped into view over the weekend, were delayed out in deeper water until the wind calmed down, and then the brilliant folks at NTCL decided it was a good PR move to unload the barge with the vehicles before the barge with the personal effects. These are the same people who have been promising the barge will be in 'next week' since the beginning of August.

I'll sneak down tomorrow and snap a couple of pictures, as they ended up double docking... they kept the (now empty) barge docked, and somehow connected house barge with all our groceries and whatnot to it.

Admist all that excitement, I check my WeatherEye, and this is what it says:

Snowfall Warning

Issued at 2:21 PM CDT Tuesday 5 October 2010

Up to 15 cm of snow expected.


An intense low pressure system is expected to move through the Kivalliq tonight and tomorrow. This system will bring a swath of 10 to 15 cm of snow to an area including Baker Lake and Coral Harbour. The heaviest snow will occur in Baker Lake tonight while Coral Harbour can expect a few centimetres of snow tonight and up to 15 on Wednesday. This system will move out of the area on Wednesday with the snow tapering off during the morning in Baker Lake and Wednesday evening for Coral Harbour.

Aaargh! I think I was planning to fight the bugs and not the snow while hauling three skids worth of groceries into the house.

Some new colleagues?

He has some new colleagues down at his office. I think their names are Larry, Curly, and Mo, but they aren't very sociable. In fact, one of them (Curly maybe?) even tried to attack me shortly after catching them on film, loitering outside the office, and generally being unproductive.
I've heard rumours that they're already on their way outta town. I can't imagine they'll be in town much after the serious snow starts to fly.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A frosty morning

After what seems like an eternity of rain, we caught a break and the weather cleared overnight. We woke up to a pretty chilly morning; Squire left paw prints in the frost on the deck.

I think we've had the 'November Blah's'. The weather here lately reminds me of November in the south. We're literally waiting for snow - almost to the point of *hoping* for snow after all the rain and muck.

Apparently, according the news, we've been nice enough to send Ontario some cooler weather, so you can experience what the weather's been like here lately. No need to thank us personally.

We're still waiting for the barge to come in - anxiously now, as some time this month the lake will freeze. It's scheduled to be in this weekend, but we've been hearing that story since the beginning of August. I'll believe it when I see our skids in our driveway. We'll post some before and after pictures once we get all the stuff in!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What is this??

It could be frost. It *could* be. But it isn't. It's totally snow and fell two days earlier than last year! This was what was waiting on the ground for us in the morning on Monday, and more fell while we were at work. None of it was around much past coffee break. Turns out those white bunnies knew what they were talking about afterall.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Breaking News

Every once in awhile, we think it's nice to reward those that check our blog often. As such, minutes after booking our plane tickets south for Christmas, I logged on here to break the news.

We'll be arriving in Toronto in the evening of December 15th, and departing after all the festivities on December 29th. We haven't firmed up our schedule... but let's be honest, there will be a schedule. Luckily, it won't be as strict as the pre-wedding schedules.

As now savy north-dwellers, we patiently waited until FirstAir was running a seat sale. We saved over $1200 compared to what we paid for our last Christmas trip. Sounds like I freed up some budget space for a shopping spree.... but don't tell him!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Return of the....

...... white bunnies!!

Looking for a sure sign that winter is around the corner? I watched two white bunnies playing on the tundra today, and last week while walking to work, a white bunny escorted me all the way to the office.

Apparently, it's a little closer to winter on the north end of town, since our friends who live on the south end, say their bunnies are still brownish-grey!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A bit about everything

Its September now, and summer is fading fast...what we saw of it anyway.

I think we may have had one day where the temperature really reached 30C. This is in contrast to several days we had last year, if I recall correctly. But that's not much of a big deal when you always hated hot days as a kid anyway, now is it? (

Ok, I admit, I wouldn't mind just one scorching-hot-lazy-day....maybe next year?)

Honestly though, I'm looking forward to the snow. Its purty for one thing when the land is a blanket of white. Its also fun to get all snow-geared-up and wander around. Bring along some hot-chocolate, watch the dog go nuts...great times, and looking forward to it again!

We miss our friends and family a lot, and we're especially sad that we're missing out on so so much of niece3's childhood (who smacks her forehead any time she says my name for some reason.) For the record, niece1 and niece2 live in paradise with nephew0 (hahah take that, M.B.) so we don't feel too guilty about missing their childhoods.

Speaking of friends, here's a bit of irony: she and I were relatively quiet people back in "civilization". Surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of people in southern Ontario, with all the clubs, bars, culture, restaurants, whatever...we kind of liked to stay at home, watch movies, play a little guitar-hero, read some books, cook good food (well, She did anyway)...we had to come to come to a town of 1800 people to develop (relatively) active social lives.

Its a rare month where somebody's not having some sort of social gathering. We play poker most weekends (She wins more than I do, lucky $@#!$). And in a small town, if you go anywhere, you're going to bump into people you know and end up hanging around to chat for a while, possibly arranging a social gathering or card game.

News and items of interest:
* We may be inheriting a friend's dog for a week later this month. Chester's a small yippy dog, but very friendly and pretty smart. He's spent a few days with us before and other than a few "accidents" we had a good time.
* New blu-ray player. YAY! (We didn't earn this in any kind of worthy way...apparently we're 1-year Baker Lake survivors?)
* She has a new important project at work keeping her very busy. Congrats to Her, and expect to find her pretty tired after putting in some weekend time.
* Dog has a critically important new project to catch the local sik siks. Oh and a friend in town gave her a new ball-and-rope toy, which in turn is her new best friend ever. This week.
* I have a new programming project at work, too (although I probably won't be working weekends...that's important computer-gaming time, thank you.)
* I've been playing Euchre a lot on our laptop as some of you know (I'm training hard for our next tournament in Mitchell/Stratford...don't be shocked/offended if my first thoughtless words walking through the door are "Where's the Euchre?") Well, lately I've been switching to Bid Euchre (sorta like Whist apparently if you know that one). I hear her Grandma plays that, so we might have to get a game of bid Euchre going too if the opportunity presents itself!
* We are hoping to see our sealift soon. It was supposed to be here just this last weekend (already pretty late at that point) but nothing yet. We have 3 skids coming in (instead of just the one we had last year in addition to our initial Costco supplies). I think it took us 30 minutes to unload the skid last year...I'll be timing us on this run to see how we do with three!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labour Day Weekend

I think this long weekend was the most enjoyable of our summer! The weather was fantastic, and there weren't so many bugs.

Squire and I went on a couple of Epic Walks (note the use of capitals, as each was almost two hours long.)

On Sunday we walked out past the east edge of town to a little waterfall we drove out to when Mom was up here. At that point, it was really gushing, and the sides of the banks were still covered in snow. Now, it was barely more than a trickle. Quiet enough that Squire decided to take a dip amongst the rocks.

Today, we decided we should wander down and see what was up at the 'beach'. On the west end of the lake, there is some sandy areas which are nice and shallow for our swimming-phobic dog. I even waded in, up to my knees, since the water wasn't too cold. There was a nice long sandbar, so for the most part, the water was at most ankle deep, but we were a long way from shore.

We're still patiently waiting for the barge to come in - but we've been assured that all food stuffs will be on it. I'm also hoping to get out and try to take some pictures of the northern lights before its too cold to bother. And yes, that means it is now dark enough at night to see them. We've joked about having a contest to pick the first day of snowfall in Baker amongst our friends, but I think it's pretty much guaranteed that we will have had snowfall accumulation before the next long weekend in October.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Keg at Baker Lake

Well, not really the Keg , as such. But as close as we'll get before coming south at Christmas.

We tried to replicate a favourite meal from the Keg: Prime Rib au Jus, with a couple of exceptions.... Yorkshire pudding instead of bread, no garlic for the mashed potatoes, and the au jus could use some more pizazz. But for a very first prime rib attempt, neither of us could complain.

We have to thank the good people at Calm Air for making sure our groceries got in at all, but next time, maybe a bit earlier than 11:30pm?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Flea Market

I don’t know if the weather is taking its cue from the school calendar, but it sure seems like fall here lately. The kids went back to school on Monday, and we’ve had cool, wet, damp weather ever since. The sun might’ve come out for 20 minutes all week… and we’ve had to turn the furnace on!

Taking advantage of the fall mood, I decided to step up my baking to the next level. (I’ve been baking *a lot* since moving north, maybe because sweets are so expensive up here.) I decided to bake a whole bunch and cart everything down to a local ‘Flea Market’, and see if I couldn’t make some fun money.

I whipped up some cupcakes (chocolate icing was much more popular than vanilla!), butter and coconut tarts (Grandma Rose - yours are still better!), brownies and m&m cookies. And then I packaged some together, made pretty labels, and pulled my tablecloth out of the cupboard.

Everything went over really well. The brownies were the hottest seller, followed by the cupcakes with chocolate icing. I came home without any m&m cookies, after giving what was left to my friend who was nice enough to come down and hang out with me. All the packages of coconut tarts were gone, but I still got to bring some individual ones home. And most of the individual butter tarts were gobbled up, but I had two packages left over (‘he’ says ‘wooohoo!’).

Food, in general, rules at the Flea Market; there were buns, casseroles, salads, and pizza and caribou stew and popcorn, jello, and more! And what did my efforts get me? About $100 in profits. Turns out, sweets at the Flea Market were just the ticket!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Driven to Distraction

While suffering through bug season, we’ve found a couple of new ways to keep from being bored. (By the way, the bug hood is on its way… so shortly we’ll be able to get back out there and enjoy the warmer weather without worrying about the blackfly welts! How do the little buggers tell the difference between leg skin and face skin??)

For a birthday present, ‘he’ got Heroes Season One on dvd. We’ve been diligently watching an episode a night, torn between wanting the disks to last and needing to find out what happens. I don’t know if I’m developing a special ability… but I see us purchasing more seasons in the near future.

About a month ago, we decided to blow the remainder of our Chapters Christmas gift cards. $200 dollars later, we were anxiously waiting for the books to get here, and hoping we had some gems in the bunch. I had finally given in and decided to try ‘Eat Pray Love’ (which is now a movie starring Julia Roberts). I *LOVE* it – I’m not quite done, I still have the ‘Indonesia’ section to read – but I think if the movie is half as good as the book, it’ll be great! Oh, and I’m totally jealous of everyone in the south (and if anyone in Iqaluit is reading this) who get to go see the movie while I’ll have to wait for the dvd.

And since we were enjoying new toys, we decided that Squire shouldn’t be left out! We gave her the last ‘moo’ friend – Mr. Moo Pony. I don’t exactly know how my dog got a pony before me! But since hers is green and goes ‘squeak’ instead of being bay (or gray) saying ‘neigh’, I think I’ll just let her keep it and keep holding out for something better.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We’ve rediscovered a few ‘lost’ treasures from winter in Baker.

One has happened pretty slowly. It’d been commented on a few times in passing, but now I’d officially say we have ‘night’ back. It’s not as dark at any point as it was in the winter, but after months of remarking on the lack of darkness, we’re now remarking on how dark it is.

The other blew in suddenly last night. We have some freakishly strong winds today in Baker. It reminds me of blizzard days from winter when we had to turn the TV up to hear it over the wind. Deciding to take advantage of the bug-free outdoors, Squire and I headed up the central hill to see if I could get a good picture of the white caps on the lake. We gave up when the wind wouldn’t allow me to hold the camera steady enough to get a non-blurtastic picture.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back by Popular Demand

(And a bit of friendly nagging,) we’re going to recommit to the blog.

We’ve settled into life up here, and things are less exotic and exciting then they were when we first arrived. We’ve realized though, that the blog is less about life in the North, and more about keeping those in the South up-to-date on *our* life in the North.

Next week marks our one year anniversary of being in the North. Having experienced a whole year, we’ve definitely learned a couple of things.

1. Winter just may be better than summer for being outdoors. We are finding that the cold and snow was much easier to deal with than the huge swarms of huge mosquitoes. And apparently we have black fly season still to look forward to.

2. The weather in the summer can be just as wild as the weather in the winter. Our first visitor to the north tied our longest delay due to weather. We were stuck in Winnipeg for four days due to a blizzard in December. Mom was stuck here in Baker for four days due to a massive fog system in July.

3. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the barge. As we experienced waiting for the last barge to come in last year, the first barge of the season is already late too. At least at this time of the year we don’t have to worry about things freezing.

We miss our friends and family in the South, and the convenience and independence of life down there. But we’ve made new friends up here (Poker Night is becoming a weekly tradition), and we’re starting to look forward to what life will be like for us when we do return to the south in a couple years.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A brief soliloquy from the "he" in this "we"

Seems the days fly by and become months by the time you turn your head to look back at them.

There's been a lot of firsts these days. We survived our first winter in Baker. "She" won a poker night the other day (I've never done better than second best myself). I've made my first trip to Iqaluit, the territory's capital. And its the first time I've blogged in way too long.

We've really settled into routines here; some of the adventure feel is starting to fade, as we go about our usual daily business of waking up in the morning, going to work, arguing about dinner plans--you know, normal, non-adventuring people stuff.

"She" now has a position up in the main office; my department has moved down into a converted-residence office. (No more unacceptable 5-minute commutes for me; I currently walk a much more reasonable twenty-four seconds or so...two houses down from our own.)

Iqaluit was cool but I'd really love to see it in the summer. I couldn't make out where the land ended and the water began.

Its definitely more "civilized" in the metropolitan sense: there are all the amenities of a proper city, including theater, bars, real paved roads. Its got its quirks too. You cannot sit down at a restaurant or bar anywhere in town as far as I can tell without several people offering you a bit of local art (drawings, carvings, etc). I thought it was just funny at first, even after I'd been warned in advance, but after a while you just learn to wave them away.

I feel pretty much zero interest in ever moving to Iqaluit though. Amenities aside, I prefer the quiet-town thing we have going right now, and I love not needing a vehicle (we'd need one in Iqaluit..and the unpaved roads are bone-crushingly bad bad bad in the winter).

We managed to get some more euchre games going at a party the other night. Somehow we even both got groupies cheering for our individual teams. (It was that kind of party I guess). I'm starting to hold my own a bit now although I still make her shake her head sometimes with some of my strategically-unpredictable (read: stupid) plays.

Just to bring this post full-circle, and speaking of firsts: we're about to receive our first visitor from the south and we're sort of christmas-excited around here. Couple more days till MOM arrives. Huzzah! We're looking forward to the week ahead for sure.

I'll just close on this last note. Summer is pretty awesome, how we get two stat holidays, with Canada's birthday plus the civic thing right? Well, smack dab between those, we poor souls up north also get Nunavut day off (July 9th.)

How sweet is that? Suckers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Seven Signs of Spring

1. Seagulls outnumber ravens
Ravens are the only bird we see throughout the winter months - so the arrival of the seagulls must equal spring. Accompanying the seagulls on their return to Baker Lake are ptarmagans, buntings, geese, and several other small birds.

2. Birdsong
See above. All the our new feathered friends sure make for a chorous of song we haven't heard since last fall.

3. Icicles
Or as Squire calls them: 'sticks'. (poor kid) It was a rare day we had any in the winter, but now in the thaw we have plenty.

4. Mud
Keeping the floor clean is a practical impossibility. Almost makes me prefer the cold and snow. And only having choking dust to look forward to all summer doesn't make it any better.

5. Sicsic
They're just popping out of their holes, and have already started yelling at Baker Lake inhabitants.

6. Hondas outnumber machines infront of the Northern
A machine is a snowmobile, and a honda is an ATV of any make or model. The landscape is still predominately white - especially on the land - but the roads are bare, muddy (see above) but bare!

7. Barbeque!
Ok, so not blissfully warm, but at 2 degrees on the plus side, I deemed it the start of bbq season. What's on the menu? Hot dogs and steak.

** I have a confession to make... I actually wrote this post while sitting at work earlier in the week, and forgot to post it. :( So in the few days that have passed, with the mild temperatures, I can't say that the landscape is still predominately white.... It's suprising how fast the snow is melting out on the land. The culverts have thawed, and the melt water that had threatened to flood the roads has drained.

I know that it's only a few weeks to the official start of summer, and I think I'll go out on a limb and say that we are right in the middle of spring here in Baker. I'm hoping to still have snow for our first southern visitor at the end of the month. My mom is making the sojourn up, and both of us are looking forward to having her here! At least I can guarantee ice on the lake!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Can you spot the Arctic Tern?

Today, while walking home from the office, 'he' and I almost literally stumbled across some new neighbours living in the open area behind our house. (Hey! Their camoflauge was super effective!) The new neighbours, Arctic Terns, recently migrated from Antiarctica, where they winter, to Baker Lake, where they'll breed, or so Wikipedia says.
And while you're sitting there laughing at our southern city-slicker ways, maybe we should play a game?!
Can you spot the Arctic Tern?
Ahhhh, but can you spot all five Arctic Terns?
What if I made it slightly easier for you?

Ok, admittedly, there are only four terns in the last photograph, but I challenge you to get any pictures of any birds whatsoever once your super-hunter dog has spotted them!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good morning sunshine...

.... at 3 am?!

Squire decided at 3 am one morning this weekend that it was time to get up and take a trek outside. After bundling up and taking her out, I decided to check for Northern Lights while she found the perfect pee spot.

I didn't expect to see the sky lightening already. So I went back in, got the camera, and snapped a quick pic before heading back to bed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

While people back home...

While people back home prepare to mow their lawns for the first time, up here, we've been doing slightly different property maintenance.

Tonight after work, 'he' surprised me with a brand new set of snow steps! We cut through the back field on our way to and from the office. The snow hill behind our house (a combination of snow drifts and plowing in front of and in between houses) was becoming a bit of a slippery slope. And since I'm one who manages to fall over while standing still on flat ground, my super-hubby decided we could no longer take the risk of me walking up (or down) the hill. Seeing as we've been having nice mild weather, with lots of daylight, he was able to shovel me some steps to keep me safe (or safer, at least) in the days to come.

We have to congratulate our friends A&P (not the grocery store) on the birth of their baby boy. It's moments like this when I really miss being back home and close to the action!

Not to be outdone by our friends, we too have a new addition to our family. He's soft and cute and cuddly and blue and says 'squeak, squeak' when you squeeze him. 'Moo puppy', as he's become known, is just the lastest addition to Squire's Moo Family; Moo Cow and Moo Bunny being the older siblings.

Since we reached a blissfully warm -2 today, we were asked if we'd be dragging out the bbq. We'll cook a steak on the bbq for anyone who wants to come shovel it out....

PS. "He' says we have way more sunlight than our friends in the GTA. And he woke me up at 5:00AM this morning (!!!) to prove it.

Him: "Wake up! Look, its 5AM and its bright enough to read!"
Me: "Whatever."
{Edited by "him": }
Me: "Whatever (snore)"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

a blizzard day double header, an arctic heat wave and easter bunnies

Last week we had a decent blizzard here. We had two afternoons where the office was shut down and we were sent home early. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? It is pretty great (a paid vacation) but keep in mind it was a blizzard – perfect for watching movies on the couch.

This week we’re experiencing ‘spring’. It’s -6 outside as I write this, and is getting mild enough that my parka seems like overkill. The snow has melted enough that we were able to unearth the deck boards on our deck that have been buried since Christmas under 20” of snow.

Last weekend was a super long holiday weekend for us. We had both Friday and Monday off. We had Bingo planned for Thursday night, but it was cancelled due to an unexpected death in town. The jackpots were $5K and $10K respectively! Friday was poker at our house, and there was a party at a co-worker’s house on Saturday. Needless to say Sunday and Monday were rest and relax days. We had an Easter dinner on Monday (ham and scalloped potatoes) and ‘he’ got a chocolate bunny.

In the next few weeks we’re looking forward to more spring like weather, another foodmail order… and maybe our liquor order will come in now that planes are able to land again!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Moment to Reflect (aka I'm Not Dead)

Well, its been a while since I (the "he") had anything to say here. No good excuses, I just haven't had anything new and exciting to talk about lately regarding our northern adventure.

Weddings and honeymoons and what-not will do that sometimes. But things have just been rolling along nicely, and isn't that a good thing?

I've been keeping some notes on items I wanted to discuss though and now's as good a time as ever.

First of all, people often ask us about the long-night thing. I want to put it to rest. In Baker Lake, I hardly notice it at all, and it doesn't impact my happiness one way or another. The example I like to use is this: When we lived in Toronto, in the middle of winter, we left for work in the morning, and it was dark. We left work at night to come home, and it was...dark. Personally I never left the office for lunch, so I didn't even see the sun then. is that any different from here? And honestly, even on the weekends it doesn't seem much different. Yeah the sun takes a couple hours longer to rise but its not like its pitch-black at 9AM in the morning. There's still some light even though the sun hasn't technically "risen".

Honestly, the long-daylight thing is far more annoying. Sunglasses at 10PM is pretty cool, but trying to sleep without uber-blinds on your window is more annoying. Also, the folks around here must operate on 1-hour sleep schedules during the summer, with kids still out playing after midnight and vehicles tearing around all "night".

Next, people always ask about the cold: For me? Non-factor. We brought warm clothes, and we dress accordingly. I never feel more cold than I did living in Ontario. Well, except for one thing: 23 degrees Celsius in the house always seemed pretty cozy down south; for some reason it feels "just warm enough" up here.

For what its worth, Baker is kinda beautiful in winter. Just about every day over the last two weeks, I keep having "wow" moments on my way to and from work. For one thing, its bright, so I'm always wearing sunglasses out these days. But the blue skies, bright sun glaring off snow and ice to the horizon in every direction...very acceptable.


Having seen both, I'd take deep winter over deep summer any day. So those of you considering joining us up here (anyone?) but worried about the winters, don't be!

Slightly off topic: we Honeymooned in Jamaica at the end of February. It was...ok. Maybe I'm just not a great vacationer or maybe I really did just take too much sun to the head, but I spent most of the time wanting to go home to Baker. (Somewhere my sister is jabbing needles into a doll that looks like me. She definitely would have made the most of the trip.)

Important news of the month: Best day ever last Friday! Check this out...Krista got a new (temporary) gig, which was wonderful. Then I won $50 at bingo (barely, it was a tough game requiring a lot of thought and strategy) which was even better. (Yep, better). Best of all? We managed to get a Euchre game going at a party that night! I don't think I accidentally reneged at all but I did give "her" a double-facepalm moment when I ordered up a suit when we had a total of two trump between us. (oh, euchred, and how). Somehow we're still together after that, what a forgiving girl.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ray of Sunshine

I have a confession to make. I love the new Tropicana commercial where they bring sunshine to Inuvik. It’s a great depiction of the North. It makes me all teary-eyed.

We’re lucky enough that we never had 24 hours without sun. We got down to about 4 hours of true daylight in December, and have been amazed since coming back from the wedding and honeymoon how much daylight we have now. (It’s 7pm and I still don’t have lights on….)

The commercial raised some deep and interesting questions for me though.

Where on earth is Inuvik that it has 24 hour darkness? Ok, well Inuvik is in the Northwest Territories. Technically, it’s in the northwest corner of the Northwest Territories. It is two degrees above the Arctic Circle.

I had to Google ‘Inuvik’ to find all that out, and probably wouldn’t have bothered at all, if it wasn’t for the presence of trees in the commercial. What I *really* wanted to know was: Where on earth is Inuvik that they have 24 hour darkness AND trees?!?!

On our way to Baker Lake we say goodbye to trees at Churchill. And we feel sorry for those trees, because they are lonely, stunted, sparse things. In Baker, we’re south of the Arctic Circle and we don’t have 24 hour darkness, so how come we don’t have trees?

(Please note: This is where the cynical thinking of my new husband must’ve rubbed off on me and I set out to prove that they doctored the commercial to make the town of Inuvik more picturesque to sell more OJ.)

So I Googled ‘arctic circle tree line’. Who knew that the tree line isn’t a straight line drawn at approximately 55 degrees? Not even close. The tree line is all topsy-turvy. Several areas in the NWT, Yukon, and Alaska enjoy the presence of trees, even though they are north of the Arctic Circle, probably due to some meteorological phenomenon that’d take a degree to understand.

So Inuvik is north of the Arctic Circle. They have trees. They also have 24 hour darkness. AND they have the kind people from Tropicana bringing them OJ, which, if you’ve lived in the north, is worth its weight in gold –en sunshine.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

End of Craziness

And back to routine.

Our trip down south was very busy and ultimately successful. We had the wedding we dreamt of. It was beyond perfection and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Even the weather cooperated; we had unseasonably warm temperatures for our outdoor wedding.

We spent a week relaxing poolside and oceanside in Jamaica. It was exactly what the doctor ordered considering the changes in our lives over the last six months. The doctor didn’t order the nasty cold that ‘he’ picked up though!

We planned our trip home to include an overnight in Winnipeg, since catching a flight to make the connection onto First Air is a bit difficult. It’s even harder when travelling with the dog.

‘He’s’ been back to work for a week now, while I’ve been laid off by the company I was working for. I’m planning on hitting some of the other offices around town to see if I can pick up something else. It gets a bit boring and lonely being a housewife in Baker Lake.

It’s definitely been nice to be back home and get back into a normal routine. We’ve been marvelling at the changes up here in Baker.

First, we’re up to a crazy amount of daylight! We now wake up to sunshine and ‘he’ comes home from work in sunshine. And we’ve had so much sun! The weather’s been unbelievable, fairly warm (around the -10 degree mark). There was one day where it was pretty windy, making the temperature around -30, but we haven’t seen much new snow at all.

We managed to get together with a group last weekend to play poker. We hosted it at our place (a first) and it was success. We have a busy weekend planned – ‘he’s’ boss has said it’s a requirement that he attends his party on Friday, and we have another game of poker on Saturday.

I found it harder to leave this time, since there is no real timeline for our next visit, but we are happy to be back in our own place.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blizzard Day

Today is our first official blizzard day. (The blizzard that kept us in Winnipeg after Christmas doesn't count, because we didn't experience it!)

Both of us are home for the day, listening to the wind roar and blow the snow around, while the sun shines happily.

I'm not spending much time outdoors... the snow is drifting up on the porch, and by the time I get shovelled out, Squire is done peeing!

Yesterday there was a lull in the storm, so they started clearing the snow away. With a loader and dump truck....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And the wind roars

I should've know while enjoying the abnormally warm temperatures this week, that there would be a price to pay.

Yesterday we had a lovely snow fall. Actual snowflakes - not just dried out snow granules.

Last night the wind kicked up from the North, and started blowing that snow all around. It's windy enough that here in town, there's no hiding from it. When taking Squire out to pee, there was no way to keep the wind from blowing cold snow in my face. We can hear it roaring out there over the tv!

I snapped a quick picture when the sun came out. It actually looks picturesque... oh, did I mention the -40 windchill?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A month and counting!

A month to what you may ask?

Our wedding is officially a month from today. I've been pretty preoccupied lately with all things wedding, bridal, and honeymoon related. It doesn't seem to matter how well I prepared over the last few months, there's still going to be a major push at the end.

We leave to go back home in 20 days.

I'm hoping that the four day delay in Winnipeg on the way back up after Christmas satisfies the weather gods and we get to all the places we're going without delay or incident!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I mentioned in the last post that we had to do a foodmail order once we got back to Baker. The fridge and freezer were pretty bare; we had no fresh produce, were pretty low on meat options, and were down to making homemade bread in the bread maker.

We try our best to do a foodmail to last a good 4-6 weeks, and are starting to get it down to a fine art. We scan the local flyer (available online) for weekly specials, and there is an online form to fill out of all the options available. We generally keep a note on the fridge to mark stuff down when we run out.

This week, the order came to $461. Which, when we figure we spent about $100/week on groceries down south, doesn't seem like too much. (Keep in mind that our barge order to fill our pantry was about $2000.) Included in the $461 is a $5 delivery fee to take our food to the airport for transport on the plane, a $20 or 10% fee for having the store "shop" the order for us, and air freight of about $100. Interestingly enough, foodmail has priority over just about anything else that goes on a plane; passengers' luggage can and has been bumped for foodmail, and foodmail was part of the delay in getting our personal items up here from Ottawa.

Included in our order this week was (from memory) two roasts, four packages of stewing beef, four packages of ground beef, two whole chickens, two packages of pork chops, hot dogs and buns, two packages of bacon, three packages of breakfast sausages, hashbrowns and hasbrown patties, four 4L jugs of milk, four dozen eggs, four loaves of bread, four frozen pizzas, a lasagna, a 10lb bag of potatos, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, romaine lettuce and ceasar salad dressing, apples, pears, two bunches of bananas, green peppers, celery, cereal, cans of soup, cans of beans, brown sugar, ground mustard, steak spice, and rye and whole wheat flour.

So many items to go in the freezer, I have to cook a roast tonight that wouldn't fit, and I'm hoping the hot dog buns won't go stale too fast!

Foodmail is our preferred option of grocery shopping - prices for fresh produce can be outrageous at the Northern - but it's not without it's problems. For one, only 'nutritious' food is deemed foodmailable (stuff like cleaning products, baby items, pharmaceutical stuff is also allowed to be sent as foodmail.) Pop, chips, breaded chicken, cookies, and cakes are all not foodmailable and instead of paying a discounted freight of about $1/lb, you'd pay the basic freight at about $4/lb. And there seems to be some loopholes.... for example, CoolWhip= not foodmail, DreamWhip = foodmail... frozen pie crusts = not foodmail, Pilsbury refrigerated pie crusts = foodmail. It's kinda silly that all the items to make chocolate chip cookies are permitted as foodmail, but actual chocolate chip cookies are not. Oh well, fresh baked is always better anyway!

Also, if the plane gets delayed because of weather conditions... they store your food at the temperature per the labels on the boxes when possible. So you do have a chance of all your meat thawing and having to cook it or risk it spoiling. Also, fresh produce can freeze on the way up, making it into a sloppy mess. Neither has happened to us *yet*, but someone at Safeway mislabeled a box on our last order and our frozen pizzas and hashbrowns were sent as 'Dry Goods' instead of 'Frozen Goods'. However, it's winter up here, and although they were quasi thawed, it wasn't a disaster.

And, I think we've all probably gone to the grocery store and forgot to get something, even if it was on the list, but I'm paying for the privilege of having someone shop for me, so things shouldn't be missed. This week, garbage bags, salami, provolone cheese, and chicken thighs were missed. I *really* needed those garbage bags! Also, sometimes you get some bizarre choices of brands. A colleague has sworn off a particular store because they sent her 'Weight Control' Oatmeal for no apparent reason.

We still go down to the Northern for 'party' items like chips when needed, and occasionally pick up the makings for a meal when a craving hits, but by and large we wait for the next foodmail order.

I've read some criticisms online that the government should not be subsidizing the freight on foodmail orders to Northern and other isolated communities. One person even went so far as saying 'they chose to live there, they can deal with the consequences". To them I say, fine, invest the money in building and maintaining an all season road to each community, so that we can get regular transport rates on our food (any EVERY other sell-able good that we do pay regular freight on) and we'll see how the dollar signs add up then.

Foodmail really is a lifeline for us to the south. It allows us to feel like we're still 'home' and to get some of the food and brands we're used to and at decent prices. Without it, we really would be at the mercy of the stores up here who would be able to charge whatever they wanted.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

By plane and by car

So it's quasi official, we logged close to 10K km's, by plane and by car, to get down south, and all the travelling we did down south.

We did a lot of visiting with family; it was really awesome to see how much our niece, Leigha, has grown. We did family Christmas dinners all over Ontario, and introduced my family to "he's" family's traditional Mashed Potato Stuffing. We did A LOT of shopping ("he" nearly fainted when he saw the Visa bill.) We were able to schedule (literally) some time between visiting, shopping, and wedding plans to have some nice dinners out at our favourite restaurants and got to go see 'The Road' (a fantastic movie, but depressing as hell.)

We stayed mostly at my mom's house, and it was great to have mommy take care of us, and let us steal her car all the time!

And so, after all that, we were *fried*.

The night before we left, I had a pretty nasty stomach bug, and that combined with getting up at 4:30 am to head to the airport, made for a super happy girl :S

So maybe, just maybe, it was a good thing we were stuck in Winnipeg for four days while the north experienced the longest blizzard of the year so far. We were able to catch up on some much needed sleep (in fact, it's all I did for about the first 24 hours) and we took advantage of the time to do some of the 'extras' that didn't get done during our scheduled vacation. We both thought it was weird that we felt we were missing out on something special!

We were able to head out to the mall in Winnipeg, and between shopping, and eating out, we got to see Avatar. I'm glad we did, because we wouldn't have an opportunity to see it at a theatre up here, and definitely not in 3D (which is wicked, btw).

It was awesome to see Squire, who, incidentally, We just did another thought it was pretty awesome to see us. (Although, I think she really loved staying at Nina and Wayne's!)

"He's" been back to work for a couple of days now, and I get back in the swing tomorrow. We just completed a big food mail order (to the tune of of $461, but the freezer was looking pretty bare), which, weather permitting will come tomorrow. Other than that, we're mostly working on finalizing wedding plans, as we're about six weeks away from the big day.

Oh! And of course! We'll be cheering from the North as our Juniors face the Americans for the gold medal. Bragging rights against family in the States is on the line... so Go Canada Go!