Jasmine Ware

Joined September 2017

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  • Day97

    Yesterday was my last day at work until the New Year!! Whoop whoop!

    My ankle is healing nicely. I can now rotate it and it doesn't really hurt too much going down stairs.

    The weather is staying mild. We've been in the upper -teens and low -20s for the last few weeks. Just yesterday and today we're dipping into the mid -20's with wind chills around mid to upper -30s. The way I tell it's time for big parka is when the bridge of my nose hurts on the ride to or from work. That's my temperature gauge. Very scientific.

    Tomorrow, Jonathan arrives and I am super excited. One of my coworkers said he'd loan me some wolf or dog (can't remember) mitts for Jonathan to use if we go out on the land. A former coworker is still talking about us getting out around the island so I'm excited. However, I have learned that snowmobiles are finicky and they break all the time...at least up here....or the predominant brand is total crap. Not sure which yet. My friend told me that on his street in the housing units just surrounding him, there is a total of 7 machines. One of which is currently running!!! So, when someone says, "are you gonna buy a snowmobile" I hear, "are you going to set yourself up for incredible frustration and anger at an inanimate object that is going to break on you in -30?" My response is, "No thanks". Maybe if I had a garage or something... My boss is leaving for meetings in early January and asked me to watch his dogs. He said that I could use his machines during that time, but that he needed to make sure I could start the snowmobile in the cold. The push start won't work in the cold and the back up pull cord flywheel freezes making pulling it extremely difficult. Sounds delightful. The thought of yanking on a cord that extends 18inches before it snaps back while yanking your shoulder out of socket (again, in very cold temps) sounds just delightful.

    In our housing units, the front entryway and back laundry room/sealift room do not have heat under their floors. I know this because the moment you step into one of those areas, the floor is freezing! I don't know how they heat the floors of the units. But, the units themselves are raised off the ground supported on metal struts. I believe this is because of the permafrost. Thus, all of our pipes are elevated off the ground. I have no idea how they insulate them enough to not freeze all the time. I was told my pipes will freeze, but if I'm lucky it won't happen too often and it will only happen when temps dip below -40.

    I have also realized that the internet environment we live in now is predicated on large data availability and fast connections. Think back to the websites of 1996 if you will. They were usually a single page...of text only. Now, we have flash, we have pics, we have pop ups. And shopping. Whew shopping. First you search, then the results populate and they consist of pictures of the product. To learn more, you must click the picture. More pictures and details load. Then, you decide if you want it. If so, you put it in your Shopping Cart. The website wants you to know you put it in your cart so it shows you the cart. Then, you can go back to shopping if you want and repeat the process all over again. Now, transport yourself back to that 1996 web and think about the TIME it takes to load all those thumbnails...those interactive shopping widgets....those pop ups telling me about their latest clearance deal....then, my god, DON'T TAKE ME TO THE CART!!! It takes SO LONG to load the cart, then start all over again. I apologize in advance to my family. They will likely get whatever the first item is that loads. Good luck everybody!! lololol.

    I'm including some pics of the airport this week. I thought that it needed more exposure. When you look at it, it seems small and inadequate, but when you think about the fact that a town of 1500-2000 has an airport like this, it's pretty substantial! I mean, there aren't many towns this size that i know of that have two airlines servicing them and runways with lights/services.

    We had our holiday party at work this week too. We ordered 4 pizzas from the hotel in town that makes pizzas. Four pizzas = $120. Not too bad I guess. And, the manager cooked an Arctic Char. The fish du jour up here. They can be quite delicious.

    Happy Holidays everyone!!
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  • Day92

    Learning. Isn't that what life is all about? It seems to be that way for me. Things I've learned recently...

    1. Shutting doors with non-gloved hands will literally burn your hands. I've had to work in -80C freezers for school/work and I know that holding ice on skin too long will burn....but never did I imagine living in a place where simply pulling the door shut behind you may result in searing pain....not to mention that split second where you feel your skin stick to the metal and you realize you've already committed to yanking your hand away so you say a quick hail Mary that your skin stays with your hand and not with the doorknob.

    2. Cloud storage does not exist up here. It doesn't work. Uploading and downloading files to the cloud is a big waste of data that we don't have. So, we operate in 2007 and use flash drives. I hate it so much. I can't ever remember which version is where.

    3. People are just tough here. I know this is probably a big ole shock, but life is harder here because the weather tends to make our little manmade gadgetry break like brittle matchsticks. Unfortunately, when things break, there isn't a "Service center" you can call to fix it. You have to fix it, or somehow drug an unsuspecting friend into helping. I haven't really had to ask for too much help, but I watch people having to work on their snowmobiles in the wind and dark and cold. And, they just do it. Too much snow building up? Why you must go outside and carve snow stairs into them so that you can easily traverse the "front lawn". You have to layer up like a Michelin Man to go outside and when you arrive at the store, you meander the aisles trying not to focus on how you might now pass out from the inferno building under your down layers and threatening to cremate you.

    4. Facebook will alert Igloolikmiut (name for folks living in Igloolik) if there are polar bears nearby. That's helpful. What's not helpful is when part of the message is in Inuktitut and you don't know whether the word you see means, "far from town" or "right outside your house".

    5. People can cook here! I went to my first larger social gathering/party on Saturday. It was lovely! The hosts really put out a good spread with several homemade types of fudge, pizza, dips. It was really impressive especially considering what we have to work with here. Other guests brought homemade spring rolls with peanut sauce, a quinoa salad with feta, cucumbers, and tomatoes, a homemade bread bowl filled with amazing cheese dip. I mean, it's nuts! Everything has to be homemade and many of the ingredients have come from thousands of miles away from trips and orders to/from Ottawa/Toronto. Everyone must hoard this stuff, then they make and share these delicious edibles with all of us. My food insecurity made it VERY difficult not to secret away plates and plates of the foods to save for later. I did, however, not move from the food area. There wasn't a chance in hell you were getting me to sit on a couch away from those homemade mini-chicken pot pies with homemade flaky, melt in your mouth pastry! As for the party, it was nice and there were lots of folks to talk to. Though, I am fast realizing that if you are not a nurse or teacher here, you confuse people because those are the two most popular professions for people moving to Igloolik.

    In less than a week, I will have my first visitor to Igloolik and I am beyond excited. There is a possibility of getting some extra snowmobiles to go cruising around the island and maybe seeing a polar bear! Stay tuned!
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  • Day83

    It's December and I'm still here. December in the Arctic. Wow. Surreal. I am sure rap stars and pop stars feel this way when they make it. Like they have to pinch themselves to see that they're in real life. Except, I need to pinch myself to make sure I'm not losing bloodflow in my face and getting frostbite.

    I got an amazing delivery from my mom this week. (I really love that moms never stop being moms---meaning they seem to have this innate drive to take care of their offspring---which I find incredibly handy!) I was talking to my mom last week and mentioned this company called Arctic Fresh that has a whole bunch of cool food on it that I can't get at the store here and before I knew it, she'd pulled up the website and was filling her cart. Yay Christmas for me! I am almost positive that she got at least one of everything on the site. So. Much. Food. But so exciting because now I have things like guacamole and asparagus! Asparagus I say!! The company was actually started by a guy and his wife here in Igloolik so those of us that live in Igloolik actually get doorstep delivery of our food! It is so interesting...you literally here the plane fly over, then they load up their pickup and start making deliveries. The only hitch is that when bad weather hits, there's nothing anyone can do. Planes don't land, Igloolik doesn't get mail, food, supplies. Simple equation really. There has been bad weather here and in the capital, but not at the same time so it really wreaked havoc because when it would be good at one place, it would be shit at the other and so on. We didn't get mail for over a week. Food takes priority over mail.

    This week also marks the beginning off 24hrs with no sun. So far it's fine because for like an hour or two during the middle of the day it still gets light.....like a very overcast day. You can see things and see to walk around. Street lights aren't even on. However, by 130 or 2 pm now it's pitch black and I asked someone if it would keep getting light during the middle of the day like it is now. They said no. It's gonna get darker. Good news is that in only 19 days we'll be at the shortest day of the year and we'll be going up from there!

    Funny little things that illustrate life up here always happen that I forget. For example, in my office, I was asking my boss if we could get rid of some items that I felt were taking up space. He told me that we couldn't really get rid of them just yet because even after they're done for the immediate time, we might need them in the future. He then told me that the cabinet should be locked anyways to protect these items from being stolen. As he leans on said cabinet and remarks, "See, it's locked" as he pulls the handle and the drawer slides open. He looks startled and I started laughing and he asks me why I didn't have it locked. I continue laughing while I explain how I arrived in Igloolik and I had no office orientation or bosses in the office for 2 months. How would I know what was supposed to be locked and furthermore, WHERE oh WHERE would the key be kept. He then looks at me and says, "Sheesh, you don't know where the keys are kept either??!" With a small smirk, he walks away from the cabinet and past my desk to the wall where there is a dead fox hanging. He pushes the body aside and there, under the fur is a ring of keys. Obviously. By this time, I'm dying laughing and he's laughing too because this whole situation and place is just so funny sometimes. Shockingly, I didn't discover the keys before now because I don't go around playing with dead animals hanging about. I can say with some assurance that most people, 1. do not have a dead fox hanging in their office, and 2. do not hide keys underneath its body. lolololol. Welcome to my life.

    I discovered another piece of Arctic life when I thought my house was on fire. I was inside, smelled the unmistakable smell of crap burning that should not be burning. I run to the dryer and sniff, then the other rooms. I determined it wasn't coming from inside my unit so I go outside to make sure it's not any unit physically attached to mine. If my stuff burned down, I'd probably leave. I don't know how I'd recover. Anyway, I'm start walking down the road to see where the smoke is coming from. I meet up with another woman who, like me, had wandered outside to determine what was burning. As we walked, we came upon kids that had built a snow house/cave in a big pile of snow that the graders had piled up. It was so freaking cool. They had a light inside and a sheet of plywood as a door. They also had a snow slide on the outside from the top to the bottom. It was all I could do to not ask to go inside and chill.

    Finally, this week I did a 2 day employee orientation and cultural orientation. My favorite things were receiving solid stats about tobacco use in Nunavut, listening to the elder's stories, and visiting with the instructor. First, the crazy smoking stats. In Nunavut, 74% of people smoke. I don't know if yall remember my entry about this place keeping tobacco makers in business?? Well, I feel completely supported in that statement!!! Compare that rate with the overall Canadian rate of 13% (U.S. rate is 15%). Can you believe that? 74%!!!! Pregnant women? Yeah, they smoke at a rate of 76% in Nunavut. That's not second hand smoke, that's the pregnant women themselves. I was talking to the instructor about this during break and he was telling me how it's completely accepted and you'll be having a conversation with an extremely pregnant woman while she's puffing away. He said it's hard to even stand around and watch that. It would be like standing around and watching a parent excessively beat their child. Hard to do. The infant mortality rate is 21/1000 here compared to 5/1000 in Canada and 6/1000 in the U.S. (Finland and Japan have the lowest infant mortality at 2.3/1000). So just let that sink in.....here in Nunavut, infants die at a rate 4x higher than the rest of Canada. Did I mention tuberculosis is prevalent here as well. Eeek. Back to smoking....a full 95% of infants are exposed to second-hand smoking in Nunavut. Compare that to 5% for Canada. !!! I mean, these numbers are mind-blowing. Nunavut has one of the highest smoking rates in ALL of the world. !!

    Listening to the elder's stories were fascinating. He did not speak English and looked like he'd stepped right out of the National Geographic article about Arctic Inuit peoples. He was born in an igloo. He doesn't know how old he is. He remembered the first time he saw a white man. Igloolik didn't exist. He and his community/family would pass by what is now Igloolik as they moved to and from their summer/winter grounds. The first white man was a missionary. This missionary then sent for a ship which brought wood and nails to build a church/house. The elder remembered that they were fascinated by this wooden structure. They'd never seen wood before. Hearing and seeing a plane for the first time was quite the impression as well. The noise of the engine was most memorable. They didn't understand that the noise was from the thing called an engine and was necessary to keep the machine airborne. So here I was, sitting in Igloolik's community hall, listening to a true voice of history and the past. The man remembered when 2 priests were here and then a ship came to take them off to a war. The Inuit didn't know what the war was or what it was about, but the white men had to go. Obviously, this was WWII. To think about the fact that this man, in his lifetime, has come from basically 1000 AD to 2018 AD in terms of lifestyle and technology. It's incredible. I can't even really fathom it. He went from literally not knowing what wood and an engine was to flying on planes, going to Ottawa, driving a snowmobile, etc. !!!!

    Finally, I got to chat with the instructor. I was showing him how to get to the restaurant during lunch and he asked where I was from. When I told him originally from Tennessee, his interest was quite piqued. (as a completely unrelated aside, most young Nunavummiut know Nashville because the one and only Nunavummiut NHL player, Tootoo, got drafted and played for Nashville as his first team!). We ended up chatting over lunch and sharing our cultures. Really neat. He is from a much smaller town than Igloolik and so it was really cool to hear his perspectives and experiences. One story he told was how when he was 15, he thought he was all that and had a big ego. He built an igloo and was super proud of himself, telling his family how good he was. Well, a few days later, a blizzard hit and his brother called him and told him to get dressed, come over, and bring his snow knives. When he got to his brother's house, his brother pointed outside and said, "Now go build an igloo". So, Peter went outside and tried to build one. About an hour later, frustrated, defeated, and with frostbitten cheeks, he returned inside. His brother looked at him, said nothing and got dressed to go outside. He went outside and 45 minutes later came back inside and told Peter to take a look. There, in the backyard was a finished igloo. He looked to Peter and said, "Building an igloo when everything is easy is nothing to be proud of. When you can build an igloo when things are tough, then you're ready to be a man." I thought that was a neat story and holds a lot of life lessons.
    This is the stuff I love. Hearing these stories and learning about the culture is fascinating.
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  • Day82

    And so the addiction begins…with a little taste of winning glory…..

    The plan was to corrupt, I mean introduce, another coworker to bingo last Friday. He’d never played, is up here alone, and he seems to have an open attitude so I thought it would be fun. My boss agreed to host us and so it was set. Well, the newcomer backed out and, on autopilot, I still found myself walking to the radio station to get a bingo card. It wasn’t until I was walking home that I thought, “Why did I buy this? I am tired and the only reason I was gonna play this week was to show my coworker.” Oh well, if you have a card, you gotta play!

    This week it was different. The bingo caller was a native English speaker and was calling in English. However, she was going WAY too fast and I was getting irritated. She was taking all the fun out of the dobbing experience. I couldn’t even rearrange myself in my seat much less take a drink before she was on to the next number. I decided I needed to call the radio station and tell her to slow down. That’s when we realized we didn’t have the number for the radio station; the number listed in the phone book did not dial to the station. Hmmmm…..I scour all 200 entries for Igloolik backwards and forwards. In this town, you can literally read each and every entry in the phone book! Lol. I found nothing. I was getting very agitated now because my boss was having to do both my card and his while I was fiddling with the phone book. Now, I don’t want to say anything bad about his bingo skills since he was kind enough to take over, but let’s just say, missing numbers is not unheard of on his cards. Finally, we both got the idea at the same time to randomly call another coworker and ask for the radio station’s number…cause of course we can find HIS number in the phone book but not the radio station’s. So that is what I did…called him, out of the blue, slightly frantic and explained that I needed the radio station number so I could ask the caller to slow down bingo. Isn’t that what you did last Friday night? Sure enough, he recited the number from memory off the top of his head and I made my call just as the last game was starting. The last game is the Jackpot round where you have to dob all of the numbers on the bingo sheet to win.
    The caller had slowed down. It was much more relaxing. I even had time to check over my numbers and take a sip of my drink every so often. As the game continued, I noticed that one of my cards was getting full so I double-checked to make sure I hadn’t missed any numbers. Sure enough, I had and that left me with only 2 empty spaces. The caller called the next number and it was one of mine. I was down to one. Never happens. Sure enough, the next number wasn’t mine and I knew I had lost because if I’M down to one space then someone, somewhere else, has been down to one space for probably several rounds. But, lo and behold no one called in and when the caller called the next number, my mouth actually dropped open. I stared at my now completely covered bingo card in disbelief. I looked at my boss and his mouth was kinda gaping too with a look of “is this for real?!” I echoed his thoughts and said, “Holy shit, is this for real??!!!” “Oh my god! I’ve got a bingo!! I gotta call the station! Thank god I persevered to find the number earlier!!!” I was shaking and nervous because you have to call in and the whole town can hear you saying your numbers. What if I was wrong?? I was gonna sound like such an idiot. I called all of them and it was a good bingo! I won the JACKPOT! They told me to come down to the station to pick up my winnings and I hung up. Immediately, I began jumping up and down and whooping. You see, this jackpot was no measly $20. No my friends. I was the sole winner of TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!! Two grand! Can you believe that??!! My god! That’s serious money. I screamed at my boss, “Go start your ATV, I gotta go get my money!”
    He was driving a bit fast and loose over to the station for my liking and I yelled to not murder me on my big win night. To which he replied, “Oh no, definitely not, I’m gonna wait until you have the money in hand.” Hahaha.
    My winnings were disbursed in all 20 dollar bills. Has anyone actually carried around 2 grand in 20’s? It’s um, how shall I say, very rapper-esque. I felt like I need to have some gold chains on my neck and a rubber band in my pocket to hold my bank. Hilarious.
    The JACKPOT I say! I still can’t believe it.
    I promptly sent my coworker that decided not to play a text message explaining how he’d missed out big time on bingo night. Now we’ll never win anything again.
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  • Day76

    As all those that are smarter than me know, once the novelty wears off, it turns out that daily life is a grind here. All manner of things conspire to create "grind" living. You just have to be tough to survive the Arctic I think. I'm not sure I'm all that tough.

    Take for instance the machines. There are no garages. With the continual snow, the machines have to be dug out daily. Then, they have to be started well before you think you want to leave. Oh, is it really cold? Gotta change the spark plugs so the machine will run. The tires lose air in the cold so you gotta pump those up. Oh, did your door ice shut and you can't get out of your house? And this is just the beginning of winter. And, I don't have to worry about any of those things. I just show up and get a ride. And, all this is to say I'm a big wimp. What brings that into even clearer focus is a story that gripped the community this week. A man and his cousin, a 13 year old, got lost traveling from Igloolik to Hall Beach by snowmobile. They left Sunday night and weren't found till Thursday evening (though it should be noted they weren't actually ever found....they walked themselves to Hall Beach...and were seen walking). They survived for 4 days with no supplies, food, water, or shelter. !!! Then, they WALKED to Hall Beach. Igloolik is 70 km (44 miles) from Hall Beach. I have no idea how far they were when they got lost in the blizzard. All I know is that I don't think I'm that tough. I got tired shoveling my porch last night. Not sure how I'm gonna move 400lb fuel drums next field season, but cheers to blindly moving forward!! (Here's a link to the article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/survival-story-missing-man-boy-igloolik-hall-beach-1.4419091)

    I did get a wonderful surprise this week. The group of ladies whom I went through a volunteer program that taught us how to tutor illiterate adults with sent me an amazing care package. It was such a blast to open it up and see all the different things packed in there! I felt like I did on Christmas as a child. (even brownies were included---and my friend Nikki knows what a sucker I am for those!!) All the things we take for so granted down south and can't get here.....it's amazing. I even dreamed last night about fast internet....the kind where you click and the page loads immediately....like you don't see the little loading circle ever.....!!! That's the stuff of my fantasies now. I also dreamed the day before that I had to taste test a bunch of desserts and cupcakes. .....I might be going insane.

    Anyway, back to my point of thanks on Thanksgiving......I know folks see the news and might think that humans suck, but my personal experience is that I feel like I sucked all the good people out of the cosmos and surrounded myself with them because my life is so enriched by those around me. I don't know what I did in a previous life to deserve such caring and thoughtful folks around me. Being in this position is really humbling. I hate feeling so needy, but I am so damn thankful for everyone's calls, texts, comments, emails, and care packages! Maybe this is why I've been doing so well up here! If I didn't have such a fantastic group of humans taking care of me remotely, I would probably be crying in my non-draining bathtub right now.

    In other news, I cut the back of my hair this week. The rat tail was getting out of hand. My hair was flipping on my collar. Has anyone tried to give themselves a layered pixie cut in the back? Me neither. It's hard. Especially when the second mirror I was using to see the back of my head was from a broken compact. I don't want to make anything too easy. It was slow going and required some wrist contortions, but in the end, it's not the worst thing I've ever seen. Now, when the top and full back have to be done....it's gonna be an undertaking. I can't see anyone's hair now that it's cold. Everyone has hats on so I can't ask who cuts their hair. I wanted to find a short haired lady and inquire. Oh well. Necessity is the mother of cutting your own hair.
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  • Day72

    Ah, the title conjures up images of hot apple cider, vibrantly colored trees, crisp mornings, and pumpkin spice everything. Igloolik fall? Oh, definitely the same. Nothing different about fall here. Well, except everything. lolol. In one week, the daylight will be done. Currently, we have just under 3 hrs of semi-daylight---if you can call the sun rising about two inches above the horizon daylight. lol. The mornings are definitely crisp, though we've gone through a warming spell. In fact, it got up to -15 and I thought, "I'll just take my trash out to the dumpster with no coat or hat on since it's so warm." I even put back the big parka and broke the little guy back out---though I will say, the little parka now seems rather inferior and lame. Nonetheless, it is way less bulky and keeps me warm---but its fur is no match for the big parka's fur. I wanna sleep in the big parka's fur. I have a feeling I might be draped in animal skins the next time someone sees me.

    While those down south are enjoying fall leaves and football on the weekend, I have been enjoying such activities as helping dig my boss's qamatik out of the snow. The qamatik (various spellings) is a wooden sled that was traditionally pulled by dogs. It is about 12-15 feet long and the runners are 2x10s. The runners have a piece of teflon plastic to reduce drag. The two runners are spaced about 3 feet apart. Two-by-fours or something similar make up the decking with about an inch of space between each board. You can leave the qamatik open, like a flat-bed truck, or you can lash a shelter onto it. My boss has a box that he puts on it so we had to get that out too. It was the width of the qamatik and 8ft long; a plywood box. Trying to maneuver and pull these wooden items through the drifts of snow was more than enough work out for me.

    I finished off the wild weekend with some more bingo---didn't win again---and started a jigsaw puzzle. The activities I engage in here are truly exciting.

    Today, there was no work because of a blizzard. However, it's not like when you were a kid and you could watch the TV to see if school was canceled. I have no way to know. And, because my job is so weird about email/internet, I cannot even check my email on non-work servers (exceedingly annoying actually). Thus, I can't get the bulletin that work is closed. So, what do I do? I open the door this morning, have it nearly blown back in my face, and then slam it shut, muttering, "Aw hell naw." Which means I trudged back in to find my goggles, put them on, zipped up the coat fully, pulled the neck gaiter up, and pushed back outside. I have been getting rides to work from my boss so I headed towards his place. As I wound through the buildings, the drifts were catching my feet on what was usually a well-packed path. I emerged from between the housing units and saw neither his ATV or Skidoo were running. And, that's how I knew there was no work. Nevertheless, we decided to go to work for a bit just to finalize some things. I mean, what else am I gonna do? Go to the mall. bhahahaha.

    It was quite the trip getting back home though. Turns out living in Washington made me familiar with snow. The difference now is that I am IN the weather, not just driving through it with a climate-controlled, warm car. Nope, snow-ice pelting my face as we slip and slide on the ATV back home is a real treat. The light is so flat you can't see any features. Hence, we drove right into a 2-3ft snow drift without even seeing it. Oops. Get to push the ATV out and continue on your way----away from the edges of the road.

    Thankfully, I have plenty of food to eat because I'm pretty sure I'm not going back out in this to the store and there won't be any planes coming in anyhow. Now just to relax in the cozy warmth of home and stuff my face. :)
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  • Day65

    No, it is not an ice pick in my forehead. It's the damn wind again. Right between the eyes. Just stabbing it's way through bone to tweak those little skull nerves. I have to believe that if you're the one driving the snowmobile then the windshield must protect you from that. Otherwise, I would drive nowhere! I'd have to have a full face shield on.

    Today was exciting though. Many exciting things happened. First, one of my lost boxes arrived!! It had been shipped to Qikiqtarjuaq (Kih kih tar zhu ack). Obviously. The waybill number and the town Igloolik clearly look like Qikiqtarjuaq. Easy mistake. Then, somehow, it makes its way back to Igloolik but gets shipped to the Internet provider here in town. ??? Did they open it, see the dismantled drafting table and trash can and think, "Ah, yes, must be the internet company's things!" ??? Then, once at the internet company's place, I have no clue how they figured out it was mine. But, they did, and they called my cell and delivered it to my house. By "They" I mean, I have no idea who called me or delivered it to my house. That is the way here. Ask no questions. Just take your box and be happy! And I was!!

    I had to send something for work via the post office. I told the young lady and she said it would be $1.05. I said, "Are you sure because I really think this might be more than a regular letter stamp." So, she put it on the scale and then measured it. She input the info and Canada Post spit out the price. $14.95. 0_o !! She was gonna try and send that thing for a dollar. Oh boy. And, I didn't mention this, but the reason I even asked was because just yesterday I went to the post office and there was a returned envelope for me for insufficient postage. Ahem. The ladies are quite sweet and kind, but I am not sure they're super well-informed about how postage is calculated.

    I also had a pause and reflect moment today when I heard from a very old, good friend that I grew up, literally, on the same street with. I'm probably not supposed to tell this, but he received news that he was being offered multiple positions at Google to work under some of the highest executives there. Additionally, he has an interview this week with the CEO of Instagram. Now it doesn't matter what his job is. What we were discussing was how surreal it was for him to interview at Google, then receive all those job offers, and THEN be asked to go talk to Instagram. I was hearing all this from him as I was going home to lunch. I had to tell him that I wanted to hear his story, but very likely I would be picked up by a snowmobile soon and it might get loud. Sure enough, my ride vroomed by and I jumped on the back, still on the line with my friend. All he could hear was the high pitched whining of the snowmobile and the ludicrousness of each of our respective situations launched us into uncontrollable laughter. His life right now, my life right now...we couldn't catch our breath we were laughing so hard. I was, in fact, cackling. They say you don't know where life will take you and for my friend and I this afternoon, we really felt life was taking us for a ride!

    Speaking of rides, another pause and reflect moment came this afternoon on the way home from work, in the dark...because you know, the sun is setting right around 2:15pm (rising at 10am). Again, on the snowmobile. The wind just whipping. The snowmobile feels loose and slippery on the packed roads. A bit dangerous, but exhilarating. It feels faster than the ATV. I found myself gleefully grinning as my boss gunned the engine and we flew over the hills and bumps, slightly catching air on the back. Exciting in a slightly scary way. The type of exciting scary that makes you want to scream and maybe even go faster! And, that's when I smiled even bigger because that's exactly how I've always been and exactly how my dad was (he used to drag race semi-professionally for goodness sakes!). This past weekend marked the anniversary of his passing and today I couldn't help but think that he would be so stoked about all the adventures I was having. And that made me smile.
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  • Day64

    I am beyond excited. My humidifier arrived today! I think I'm going to set her up on my bedside table and stare lovingly into the mist as it soothes my aching nose to sleep. The say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I believe this should be applied to inanimate objects as well, not just relationships. Take the humidifier for example. I did not have one. My nose and throat have been aching for weeks. It's been awful. I can't simply go peruse various shopping establishments to get one. I order it and have to wait for almost two weeks. Then, it arrives but the store closes at 6pm and I arrived by plane at 540. Was not able to make it. The next day was Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day) so the store was closed. The next day was Sunday so the post office was closed. FINALLY, TODAY was the day to get my precious package!! There she was, tiny yet powerful. I am so tired of blowing bloody pieces from my nose. It just isn't right! I'm tired of sleeping with the sheets over my face and dry coughing throughout the night. I faced this similar stuff in Mongolia, but I was only there for a month so I could deal. If this humidifier is broken for some reason, I will most definitely be crying...real tears.

    That's it folks. That's my life. Revolves around getting a humidifier at the post office. I mean I did grab a few other grocery items, but as usual, there were key missing ones like creamer. That stuff is rare---always empty on the shelves. I'm going to have to buy them out the next time it's in. They did have milk so that will have to do.

    I braved a -36C (-33F) windchill to get my mighty mucous membrane healer. I was fortunate however, to catch a ride to the store from my boss cause he was going to the post office as well. Apparently, it was too cold for his ATV to start so he had to clear off and start the snowmobile. He says and I quote, "Fuck it's cold!" I take in the fact that he has goggles and a face protector on while he says this. I instantly recoil and think, "Nope, I can't go outside. If this crazy arctic person thinks it's cold, I will certainly die." But then, I think of my humidifier and I think of all the other people that manage to survive this....and I pull on my mitts and hop on the back!

    My boss also tells me that he hopes the snowmobile stays running because he has warm weather spark plugs in it?? Whaaaa?? Does anyone know what that means? Are there different spark plugs for warm and cold weather?? Is the gap different? I don't know anything about this. In this instance, the snowmobile did great, got our packages, hunkered down hiding from the wind, and made it back home in less than 20 min. I'm gonna have to get some sort of motorized transport. I am far too lazy to keep up this walking nonsense and lord knows I ain't biking!!
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  • Day62

    That's right folks, went to the big city and lived it up! Got a latte one day and a haircut on another day! I bought hummus and a dill cucumber dressing to take back with me. had a fountain pepsi in the city. I went to a restaurant and got macaroni and cheese and a real green salad. The luxury was endless. I stepped off the plane onto the tarmac ramp and my brain's first thought was, "Ooooh, pavement, that's nice under my feet". I kid you not. I didn't even realize I hadn't walked on anything but snow for weeks. There is no pavement in Igloolik, but even if there was, it would be snow covered so it doesn't matter.

    And this is how acclimation starts. Slowly, you forget and don't realize how you're adapting. It's not as if I was walking around thinking, "Man, sure wish I had some pavement to walk on". I have however, been thinking of how I'm going to get my hair cut. I KNOW there has to be someone in town cutting hair in their house. I just have to find a lady with short hair and ask who cuts her hair. Otherwise, I'm going to be learning a lot of voodoo mirror magic trying to cut the back of my hair......probably be a roaring success too. Professional all the way.

    I was down in the city for work and I brought two big suitcases because we get two for free on the work flights. One was empty and the other about half empty. Several other folks do the same. You literally carry empty suitcases around so that you can fill them with whatever you need from the city.....such as hummus....or over the counter medication we don't have here. Whatever you need. I brought back two suitcases filled to the airline's weight limit. Proud of myself. haha.

    Things that you just don't think about. I used to travel as light as I could. Carry on all the way. Even getting back to our houses is different. No one has a vehicle. There were 8 of us traveling. No one has a car. As I've mentioned before, they don't do well here and if something goes wrong, there are no parts stores.... So, how do you get that many people, with their luggage, to their homes? Obviously, the husband of one person carries on of us on the back of the snowmobile to the warehouse where the work truck is kept. We get off the machine, get in the warehouse, and bring the truck to retrieve everyone (since it was work travel, we could use the work truck to tote people home).

    On the plane ride, almost every single person (All 18 passengers) had some sort of winter parka with fur on it. When I looked ahead, all I could see was fur and heads poking above the seats. Even the flight attendant is in snow pants and a parka. Children have their parkas specially customized to include fur around the hoods. I was getting advice on how to alter my parka's fur so that it was better at protecting my face. I really want some seal skin mitts. I've been told those or wolf/dog skin mitts are the best. That I will really need them. I never thought I'd be pining for wolf or dog skin mittens and checking out folks that were wearing them in a jealous type way. "Man, I WANT those!" lolol. So far, my hands have stayed quite warm in the Outdoor Research brand mitts I've been wearing. But, again, I'm always walking and generating heat when I'm outside. I have heavier duty mitts, but haven't needed them yet.

    In the city, it was so warm, that I was walking about without a hat or gloves. It was 10 F (-12C). Never thought that would happen and it already is after just a few short weeks here. I can't wait to see what I'm wearing when it's 30 F (-1C)!! Bathing suit time!!

    So, the point of this blog is to say, I think I'm acclimating and not even realizing it.
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  • Day56

    I bought this beautiful fat bike, had it shipped up with all my personal belongings, and finally got around to putting on its fat bike rack and panniers. They were awesome. Can carry a cat or 40 lbs of groceries! I was stoked to take her out on her inaugural spin.

    I failed, however, to account for the effects of -11 F (-24C) weather on, well, everything. My lungs, the bike, my legs, the lock.

    Tooling around outside the house was so fun. The sound the fat tires make on the packed snow is really neat and I like it. I got excited so I set off for the store and to buy a jigsaw puzzle I saw on the internet. It was gonna be great! Did I mention that I am currently incubating some Arctic microbe in my chest? Yep, it's giving me a sweet cough and tight chest so far while draining my energy. Super fun...and best time to go for a bike ride in extreme cold.

    Halfway to the store I realized that I could no longer change gears because they'd frozen. The end. That's the gear I'm gonna be in. I get to the store. A little tired but manageable. Go to lock the bike up. The cable lock? Completely frozen. Like a rock. Better anchor than lock. Hmmm...well, that's a waste.

    I grab my store things and start heading out to find my puzzle person. As I've mentioned before, there are no road signs or names and so it's just the house number that you look for. However, the house numbers may or may not make sense. Newer areas of development will have similar numbers, but those new developments may be interspersed in older developments. Thus, the numbers can be all jumbled.

    It also turns out that the store is slightly downhill from home. Hmmm.....things just got a lot more exerting. I know exerting shouldn't be used in a sentence like that, but I wanted to because that's what happened....everything got more 'exerting'. I thought I was going to pass out. My already tight chest was squeezed by the huffing and puffing of the crazy cold air and my legs were fighting against my pants and snowpants and giant rubber boots as I wobbled up the hills. Oooooh, it burned. Everything. I finally got to my street and realized that the puzzle person literally lived in the house next to mine. I realized I'd ridden up town and then around town to find this house and it was next door to mine the whole time. I am not bright on so many levels.

    Kids complimented my bike as I inched by, barely staying vertical. I wheezed, "It's way too hard. Not worth it! Walk!!" I had to take a break before I could haul this thing up the stairs to my house where I wheeled it in and promptly laid prone to recover.

    I went and got the puzzle later. I think that's a better idea for my Igloolik activities...almost positive I won't pass out while puzzling.
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  • Day54

    Doo tee doo tee doo, minding my own business, clattering away in my office, and all of a sudden I hear this loud, clanging alarm going on. I get up, pad out (you know, cause I'm in my footies), and look around to see what the others are doing. I say, "is that the fire alarm?" "No", comes the reply. "That is the sewage alarm".

    Ah yes, of course it is. The sewage alarm. Excellent. We're still looking at each other. "Ummmm, okay, what do we do about it??!!" You call the city and ask them to come pump your tank. The person I'm looking at is already calling and sorting that out. Apparently there is is a dedicated hotline for these water/sewage issues. Anyone who has lived more than 6 months here knows this number by heart. Again, excellent. I am so looking forward to the day when I wake up, use the bathroom, and discover that that thing don't flush. You see, our houses don't have alarms. Nope, you just discover your sewage tank is full (or water tank empty) when the plumbing stops working, which everyone adores.

    I leave the man to make the call and head back into my office contemplating how long I'll have to hold the bladder that was already voicing its desire to be evacuated. Hmmm. About an hour later, I pad back out, go to the call-man and ask, "Ummmm, how do we know when we can go back to the bathroom??" You see, there's no calming chime or some such noise that indicates "all clear!" That would be handy. The guy looks at me and says, "Oh you're good to go." "How do you know this??", I ask with my ears perked. He tells me that he heard the truck outside. Oh, okay. You just heard the truck. Sure. That seems reasonable. I asked if he was just punking the new person but he assured me that he really did just hear the truck and so he knew it was done. Seems a bit of a dangerous game to play with sewage if you ask me.

    I have been noticing that the cold is starting to seemingly seep into my protective layers. Walking to work, I'm noticing that my arms are feeling the chill. And, my legs are starting to too. Then, today, catching a ride home from work on the ATV, I got an ice-cream headache from the cold air hitting my face. That is bizarre. You get the ice-pick in the forehead sensation with none of the delicious ice cream/slushy reward. What a crock!! I think I'm going to break out the big parka soon. Right now, I am using North Face's "Arctic" parka for women with 550 gram down fill. It's lovely and I really like it. However, the fur is not furry enough---it doesn't hug my face like it needs to and there's no way to tighten it. And, I need the 800-900 gram down fill. In the serious Arctic parkas, the hoods have a wire lining the edge that you can bend to mold to your face shape which allows the furred hood to really block the wind. Secondly, this jackets hood is detachable which sounds like a good thing until you realize that 'detachable' is another word for 'wind holes'. Because it's not sewn on all the way round, wind sneaks in from the sides and gets on my cheeks and face. I've taken to wearing a neck gaiter every day which is nice, but it's getting colder.

    I do like that dress code is non-existent. I've always liked jobs like that. I hate having to look presentable. It's too much dang work! I didn't even bring any jewelry up here. At all. Makeup? I haven't worn any foundation or mascara or whatever for months. Hair? Ha! Hair! You wear a knit cap to and from work and with short hair....mine just looks like every other man's hair here---all wild and smushed and swirled. So that's how we sit around, in socks with hat hair.
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  • Day51

    You know who doesn't care that it's -8F and feels like -31F (-22/-35C)? Kids. Kids on Halloween. And they were RUNNING from house to house. For a place where treats and sweets are priced like gold, the opportunity to get FREE sugar from strangers is their utopia. I mean, kids everywhere love Halloween, but here, with the prices and luxury of candy, Halloween becomes the childrens' Shangri-La (if Shangri-La were not a place, but a day....you know what I'm getting at). AND, the kids are not dumb. They specifically target all the government housing units, i.e. all the government employees such as teachers, scientists, HR, IT, whatever. Anyone non-native and they're on the hit list. LIterally gaggles of children swarm the houses sometimes creating a line both UP the stairs to the door and DOWN the stairs as they flit away. Estimates range from 200-400 kids will visit your house. You are warned to be prepared. I was told by the HR person hiring me and told to bring candy with me in order to be able to afford enough. Yeah, right! I would have had to buy a crate load for all the kids that come out.

    I lasted a whole 27 minutes before I was completely candy dry. Trick or treating is not allowed to start until 6pm sharp. And, boy do they start sharp. Those kids are probably like thoroughbreds at the gates before the start of the race. I bet their parents can't get dinner in their keyed up bellies. Apparently, the hullabaloo ends at 8pm....though I'm not sure who still has candy at 8! I suspect these strict hours were established so that all kids had a fair shot at getting some candy since there are not limitless places such as malls, neighborhoods, community events to go to like there are down south. There is a very very finite number of resources here, and by resources I mean Hershey's, so making sure there's a chance for the kids to have some probably created these timing schemes......that's my professional, all of two months in the Arctic, opinion.

    I noticed a lot of homemade, altered garments for costumes as well as face paint. This makes sense since there is no "Halloween" store popping up on the corner to sell exclusively Halloween stuff and Walmart is a mere two day plane ride and roughly 3 grand away in Ottawa......yeah, not a lot of parents going down for a costume shopping trip. And, when the parents may have the opportunity to actually be south, Halloween costumes aren't out for sale. So, the get-ups here are definitely a more traditional sort. One kid had some great Spiderman face painting and I complimented his makeup. His mom or grandma was with him and she was totally stoked. She said it was her first time doing Spiderman makeup.

    Also the same same, but different is seeing kids roll up on snowmobiles and ATV's. The best is when they are being pulled by snowmobile in a qammitik (traditional Inuit sled). Instead of cars parked along the road, just idling off road vehicles.

    I'll know for next year to order up about 1000 lbs of candy.
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