Jasmine Ware

Joined September 2017
  • Day282

    Surreal. That's what biking on a frozen ocean feels like. I was mumbling to myself, "it's okay, it's okay, it's frozen, there is ice there. you're all good." If I could have rocked myself while saying those soothing things I would have.
    Moving yourself onto the ice is frightening because you can't see the ice. You only see the insane blue of the water (obviously capturing the color of the ice) that is on top of the water. You have to pedal on faith that you won't fall off a precipice of ice into the Arctic Ocean, and you know, DIE.
    My entire life was built on the fact that you do NOT, under really any circumstances get on frozen water. That is because I grew up in Tennessee where when ponds or creeks freeze, the ice usually isn't thick enough to be safe. It's like when I was canoeing in Washington State and folks were jumping out and swimming next to the banks of the river. Not me. Nope. My life lessons taught me that you NEVER swim close to creek banks because that is where water moccasins and cottonmouth poisonous snakes live, waiting for dum dums to swim up and become a snack. Well, in Washington State, the water is far too cold for those reptiles, so it's perfectly fine to sidle up to the sides of water bodies. Unfortunately, the fear that has been cemented in my brain doesn't let go that easily.....just like it doesn't when I'm bicycling on top of a frozen ocean. Deep breath.
    Not only was it scary with the water on top---which does rise with the tides----and no, I didn't check the tide tables to see if I was gonna end up in 3 ft of water out there on my bicycle---like an idiot----but it was also hard to pedal. There was still some slush in some places which makes it hard and slippery to pedal through. It was quite the workout---between my accelerated heart rate due to fear and exertion, I probably burned more calories than I have all winter.
    I can't wait until the cracks in the ice form and allow the water to drain. Then, you can see the ice and pedaling is super easy (so I'm told) on top of the ice.
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  • Day272

    Sunburn

    June 9 in Canada

    Apparently, light reflects off white and, um, well, burns your skin with UV rays. Who knew? Who could have predicted that? Two years ago, I was in Alaska for 3 weeks for a conference, a visit to Denali, and a trip out to a colleague's field site. I came back browner that I had been in 10 years. Those long days of bright sun at high latitudes really tans the ole skin!

    These days, in Igloolik, the temps have been above freezing by about 1-3 degrees C (2-6 degrees F) for two weeks now. Birds have arrived. Geese and buntings. The streets are dusty and dirty. The melt reveals 8 months of trash hidden by the snow. With no consistent sanitation department, other than the one trash truck that comes by and empties our house trash cans, the trash is strewn all over town and everywhere. These are the things that bigger cities do that I never notice until they stop. (I believe there have been some sanitation worker strikes in some big US cities over the last 100 years or so that really highlight the importance of the job!).
    With the better weather, many many people are headed out of town to camp, hunt and fish. At +3 C (37F), outdoorspeople can actually enjoy the fishing and hunting or just relaxing away from the dust of the town.
    There's a road that leads to many of the townsfolk cabins and shacks along the water. One day I'd like to bike it, but this day was ATV. The vastness of the landscape is breathtaking. I hope to one day see other towns in Nunavut---like Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet because they are at the base of awesome mountains and fiords.

    I also include an example of how living here really works for folks that make things work with few resources. What do you do when kids constantly vandalize, well, everything? You improvise with cheap solutions that are easily replaceable....and, we all know duct tape fixes everything!
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  • Day272

    That's right all you fair and sweating readers. We, here in Igloolik, hit the freezing mark for the first time this week and let me tell you, it's glorious! One day I was getting dressed to leave work and I stopped and had to pat myself down, do an inventory, and finally realize, that nope...that was all the clothes I needed....hat, gloves, and ski jacket. How lovely is that? No neck gaiter, no down underlayer, no ski pants, no googles. Just a mere wool hat, gloves (which, if you keep your hands in your pockets, could even be left behind!) and a coat! Summer's here and the livin is easy.....
    ...well, the dressing anyhow. The living has turned to soft slush snow and mud. Feels like you're walking in slippery sand. Sliding all over the place.
    The 24hrs of light has not been bothering me at all. I like it, in fact. I am a night owl. Left to my own circadian rhythms, I will stay up late. In more southerly latitudes, the onset of darkness always made me feel like a loser because it signaled to the majority of folks that the day was done and I never had accomplished what I wanted to during daylight hours. Here, I never have that negative feeling. It's light all the time and I can work on the stuff I want at 10pm without feeling like I'm a weirdo---sun is still shining! I'm still carpeing the diem. :)
    I've started riding my bike more and learned in 4.2 seconds that mudflaps are not a luxury; they are a necessity. I filed my teeth down with the sand, dirt, and grit that flew in my mouth and spent a good deal of time trying to clean the back of my coat from the slung mud. It's fun though. I love the fat bike. Riding the bike +/- 10 degrees of freezing is really a lot different than my attempt this past November when I thought I'd frozen my lungs.
    Yesterday, I rode my bike to the store and all the little kids are just agog at the fat bike as it rides by. It's like you're on a parade. I have to smile and wave the entire way to the store. One little girl with some apparently gumption chased me down on her bike and silently rode next to me. I acknowledged her and asked if she was riding with me. She nodded. I asked where she was going and she replied, "With you." Oh, okay. So, me and my 9 year old shadow cruised to the grocery store. I said, "Are you going to the store?" and she again nodded. She wasn't exactly a chatterbox. I am not certain she understood my rapid fire English questions. We leaned our bikes against the rails, I visited with some folks outside while she patiently waited at the door for me. She held open the door for me and proceeded to follow me silently through the grocery. She helped me find some chocolate chip cookies. I showed her the trick to buying eggs (always open them to make sure they aren't broken). On my way out, I bought her a little treat. Then, off we go again, her following right next to me as I rode back home. She walked her bike through the deep snow to the back of my house. I am pretty sure I am going to come home and find this girl sleeping in my house one day.
    At one point, in the store, there was another White lady shopping and I could see this little girl having an internal dilemma as to whether to stick with the white woman she was currently with or jump ship to this new one. Pretty much you're a curiosity and probably everything, from what I buy, to how I talk is different to a child that has grown up in Igloolik. Not that the kids don't see TV, but to have these weird, tall people right there at your fingertips to silently follow and watch is just too neat.....apparently.
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  • Day249

    I was talking to a friend yesterday and they made the comment that my life was just not normal anymore. This was prompted by me mentioning that I was working on my list for the Sealift. The Sealift is the common, all-inclusive term for getting a shipment of goods sent to you via the ocean container ships that make their annual deposits to the North. This is how we get all the fuel, vehicles, heavy equipment, construction supplies, non-perishables. Individuals can also order and reserve a spot on a ship. There are companies that will do your shopping for you, take the goods and pack them, deliver them to the freight company to be crated and palleted, reserve your spot on the cargo ship, and order delivery once your shipment arrives in your community. You have the option of doing all the steps yourself...from flying down south to do shopping to reserving your spot on the ship. One of my most hated grown up tasks is grocery shopping so this is like grocery shopping on steroids. It's my nightmare. I'd much rather clean a toilet. I am gonna go with one of those all-inclusive companies. There isn't a chance in hell you'd find me in a Costco trying to gather all the toilet paper and kidney beans I'll use in a year. Making out the list is awful enough. This damn Sealift BETTER save me money or I am gonna be hot! Anyway, this whole discussion is what prompted my friend to say my life is weird.

    Then, this morning, I get cc'd on an email that fuels that idea like gas on a fire. The email is brief, but the message doesn't need a lot of extra fluff. Apparently, on a flight to drop fuel drums off at sites that we will use this fall for field work, the plane got stuck on a lake. The email concisely states the the plane got stuck on the lake and they spent the night. Yep. That's not a normal, everyday email in my book. What subfolder do I file that in? My boss's response? One word: "Crap". I guess that's what you do with that email. Not much you can do I guess. For me, so many questions immediately popped up like meerkats poking their heads out of their dens. How does one get a plane stuck on a lake? ---I should mention that the lake in question is frozen. That is how the fuel is dropped...the plane has skies on and it flies in to various locations, lands on the lakes and the pilot, copilot, and a few helpers move the 400lb drums to dry land. This can be quite tough if the snow is deep. Those drums don't exactly "float" on top of the snow. But, my question is, Is the plane stuck in deep snow? How can that happen with skies? Or, is in stuck in water as the snow is melting on top of the ice making a nasty quagmire of slush water/ice? How does one "unstick" a plane? Put floor mats under the skis? Some kitty litter? There isn't exactly a tow truck around. How bad is it stuck that 4 dudes couldn't get it out when the sun is up for 18-20 hours where they were working? What a shitty night to have to spend the night there (I know they bring emergency kits that include sleeping bags, food, and a stove). Do they bring 4 sleeping bags or just two? Like I said, so many questions. I walked into my boss's office and he was preoccupied with some tunes on his ipod. I said, "Um, what's the deal with the plane on the lake?" He says, "I have no idea. I'm going to await a call to hear if they say they aren't going to be able to get our fuel out and the plane is broken." Oh okay. Sure. I patter back to my office. Turns out the same protocol goes no matter what the issue---wait until someone tells you more and assume no news is good news! Just another day at the office I guess.

    I also decided to enjoy the warmer weather like the rest of you southerners. I am inundated with social media posts showing all manner of glorious outdoor beauty and activities. The greenery is so vibrant it almost hurts my eyes. So much color saturation. The colors here are white and bright, blinding white. I decided to enjoy the whiteness by taking a walk----it was just as you'd expect for mid-May. Frozen ocean and snow. Duh.
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  • Day244

    Every year, dog sled teams meet in a Nunavut community and set off on a race to another community at least 500 km (315 mi). It is run between completely isolated communities. In ordr to arrive at the 'start' line, mushers and their dogs will have had to already travel overland from their home community--sometimes hundreds of kilometers.

    There are no support teams running along side them, no helicopters monitoring progress, no medical stations. Each evening, the teams are supposed to arrive at a set camp that has been set up by the forward crew of supports using snowmobiles and carrying qomatiks full of gear. On the racers' qomatiks, however, there is only a box with a rifle, sleeping bag, snow saw, knife, 2-burner stove, and a little food for emergencies. There are a few sat phones these days, carried by the support crew. I suspect, but do not know, that the racers have at least GPS SPOT devices, but maybe they're carrying InReach devices---which allow 2-way text communication to any other device, by using the Iridium satellite network.

    Everything the racers use must be HANDMADE (well, not the stove and rifle and stuff like that---but dog team stuff has to be) . The dog harnesses, the whips, and the qamatiks have to be handmade (though, I am not sure you can buy an Inuit qamatik at the Home Depot anyway). The qamatik is lashed together with rope, made from nylon or sealskin, no screws. This allows the sled to flex rather than break. The dogs run in a fan hitch which allows them to choose their own way over the terrain and rough snow.

    This year, the race started in Igloolik and we were allowed the afternoon off to go watch the start of the race. For several days, I had heard and seen the dogs out on on the ice in front of town. There were massive qomatiks in town---bigger than I'd ever seen. There were different ski-doos racing around. It was interesting how I noticed these things and have only been living here less than a year. I found it funny that I would see a ski-doo drive by and think, "where's that thing from? That's not from Igoolik!"

    It looked like a majority of the town came out, including the school children. They were let out as well to come down to the ice to watch. The police were there, the mayor of course, and basically every other able-bodied person.

    The dogs reminded me of racing horses. If you've ever been to a horse race, you can see that the horse has a single-track mind, and that is to run. They are actually a bit crazy....like the dogs. When the dogs felt their leader get ready and start moving the whip, they became frenzied. Barking, yelping, and jumping against their harnesses. The qomatiks were held in place with a claw-like anchor dug in the ground like a tent stake to prevent the dogs from taking off with the sled. One guy's anchor clearly wasn't in too good because all of a sudden, I heard a commotion and I see a team of dogs streaking by....with an Empty sled! Guys were running after it and one young man managed to grab it and he dug his heels in, getting dragged by the dogs. He prevailed over the dogs, but was massaging his shoulder afterward---clearly, it didn't feel super great to stop a giant wooden sled being pulled by dogs!
    This is the type of knowledge and tradition that the Inuit do not want to lose. This is the cool stuff that their culture has been practicing for years. How does this fit in a modern society? What is the value of preserving these types of things? How do young people reconcile the need to gain skills to be successful in the current world, but have to leave these skills behind to die with the elders? It's a tough question.
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  • Day228

    What's in a knee?

    April 26 in Canada

    Background---my right knee is janky. Started really bad last year. Would lock up, not bend fully, feel unstable. In light of that, I decided to take a job hiking alone, through the woods of northern Idaho, setting up hair snaring stations to lure grizzly bears in. Turns out, hiking up and down mountains all day did not cure my knee. So, figured something was really wrong. It has become more and more annoying so I decided to see about fixing it. An MRI showed a potential loose body hanging out in the middle of my knee. When I was in BC, an orthopedic surgeon recommended surgery but I didn't have time before moving to Igloolik. When I was in Montreal earlier this month, I did a consult with another surgeon who recommended the same thing. Fast forward to this week.....plan, fly down to Montreal, have surgery next day, fly back following day.

    My knee surgery was done under local anesthetic. In principle, I love this idea because general anesthesia makes me nauseous and there is, of course, increased risk of, you know, dying. In practice, however, local anesthesia sucks.....

    ...walk in, climb on the OR table, watch them scrub me, take out the 1 inch diameter knitting needle length cannulas they're going to stab in my knee. Yeah, no thanks. I really wanted to provide a suggestion of some noise-cancelling headphones that their patients could wear to help pretend they are anywhere but in a damn freezing-ass OR getting mutilated.

    Turns out, I don't care for needles....as I get older, I am worse. I'm also worse after taking blood from so many animals. Don't know why...just don't care for it. (that's code for: I'm a big baby and avoid needles.)

    This particular surgeon was very keen on explaining every detail, which, again, I appreciate in theory...but in practice......less so.

    He tells me they are going to freeze the area where the cannulas go in. I ask what the freezing agent is. He says, "Lidocaine". I go, "that's not freezing, that's the BURNING numbing medicine. No, no, do not care for Lidocaine!" I had to inject lidocaine into the vulvas of pregnant cows as a numbing agent prior to sewing on a transmitter that would alert us via wireless receiver and cell phone when mama was having her calf. Cows don't like Lidocaine. So Jasmine doesn't like Lidocaine. Apparently, however, in my case, there is no choice. Lidocaine is going in. The doc says it's going to burn. No shit. That's why I said, 'no thanks' but no one cares. It did burn. I did not care for it. Next he says it will be numbing agent in the joint itself so it's going to be a bit longer needle (now, why in the world is the length of the needle relevant for a patient to know---is he just 'needling' us??) and that I would feel a lot of pressure as the joint filled up with drug. He says, and I quote, "You will not like this." I find when a surgeon or doctor says you will not like something that means you are gonna hate it. Super. He was right. I'm pretty sure he overfillled my knee. After overfilling my knee, he says, "Okay, now I'm going to bend it". I laughed. Felt like it was going to rupture like sausage in a tight casing being bent backwards.

    I can feel his hands on my knee palpating around. I felt the need to ask, "Um, it's okay that I can still feel your hands all over my knee right?" He laughed and explained that the local anesthetic was extremely local and it was just in the spots where they'd be cutting and inserting the cannulas. I thought, "What if he gets the trajectory of the cannula wrong and gets off into 'live nerve' tissue?" I suggested, "You know, it's cool---I was thinking we could just numb the whole leg...like a femoral nerve block right up here at the hip...just to be sure."

    It was at that point I decided that my knee doesn't bother me that much after all. I can live with the locking, not bending, sliding, grinding pain. I was making deals with the devil in order to eek off that OR table. Where is some damn soothing meditation music?! I am too big a weenie for this! The devil deals didn't work, my knee felt like it was going to burst, and I just laid there making a pitiful "this hurts" face.

    I decided that I didn't want to watch the procedure on the screen that they turned toward me so both myself and surgeon could see what was happening. You see, my brain is a smart little cookie. It says, "I know that you're numb and all, but I can see giant rods digging around in your/my body and that is not right. (My brain has a real moral code on right and wrong regarding its body) In protest, my brain decides that Jasmine will simply vomit and then go 'byyyyeeeee'". Rather than face the situation like a hero, my brain makes me want to vomit and pass out. Even during things as innocuous as a pap smear, my brain says, "Oh no sir-reee Bob. No one is supposed to be up there smarming around with a Q-tip. I'll show those interlopers." And by show them, I mean to say my brain tries to make me unconscious. Like a said, a real fighter.

    Anyway, after some time, the doc says, "wanna see"? And I do. So I eek one eye open and see my ACL on the screen...and I'm hooked. So cool. I realize that I can only open my left eye because if I open my right eye, I can see the doc working those knitting needle cannulas like he's tossing a salad. Not gonna work for me.....dissociation requires that I do not see that. So, I focus on the screen and enjoy the show. The doc walks me through all the parts and I see the meniscus, the cartilage, the ACL graft, and the kneecap (Which he noted looked amazing---"thanks" I said cause I really take care of my kneecaps). Then, he showed me the reason we were all there. There in the middle of my knee joint was a ball of bone that looked to be the size of a jawbreaker because of the magnification. It was taking up the entirety, it seemed, of the femoral notch space. The doc said, "Wow, that's big! Bigger than I expected" and for some reason I was proud. It was like my knee was a rock tumbler and I'd produced this beautiful calcium sphere over years and years.

    Then, without warning, the doc began cutting and whirring away in my knee. Time to vomit said brain! I didn't vomit, but I quickly closed my eyes and pretended I didn't hear the whirring sound. Doc explained he was removing some fat and such around the loose body so he could take it out. He explained it was like a piece of wet soap in the bottom of the bathtub. Easy to grab, but easy too to squirt out of your hands. He wanted to make sure he got a good grip on it. That's when I heard his little tools trying to clamp it. Like little metal alligator mouth chomping. I went back into my head and tried not to hear it.

    Soon after, it was all done and the doc was apologizing that he'd had to open my incision up a little more to take my bone piece out. As soon as I could, I sat up to see the offending piece of bone. It was the size of a small marble. I could not believe that thing was in my knee. Very vindicating in a way---makes a lot of sense why things were not working properly. I don't believe knee joints are designed to hold our rock collections.

    They had me walk off the OR table, go dress myself, and walk out of the clinic. Badda boom badda bing. Full weight bearing. Nothing to heal in the knee itself except the two stab wounds to insert the cannulas. Once swelling goes down, I will hopefully have a much more functional knee!
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  • Day223

    Spring has sprung

    April 21 in Canada

    As I've been noticing from many of my friends and family, spring is springing in their neck of the woods. Well, the Arctic is no different. Spring is in full sprung here. We have had a few days above -17C (0F) and on 2 occasions in the last 2 weeks, I have ridden to work with NO snow/wind pants. I know, I know, it truly is spring. Who knows when I get to switch to a regular ski jacket instead of my light parka!? I can even see the wooden porch and metal steps leading up to my door! The snow has been sublimated from them in the now-long hours of sunlight.

    Speaking of sun....does anyone realize that the sun reflecting off all white everywhere is, um, extremely freaking bright?! Makes my eyes tear and I don't have sensitive eyes! The city's loader has been hard at work starting the unenviable task of moving all the accumulated (well, as much as possible) snow away from buildings and homes so that when the melt starts to happen, things don't flood or cause damage. One doesn't realize how much snow has accumulated over the winter until the front-end loader scoops to the ground several feet below.

    Currently, the daylength is already very long. Technically, Igloolik no longer has official 'night' or 'astronomical twilight' (don't ask me the official definitions of those terms...I wouldn't want to take that excitement of researching that yourself away from you. lol). We still have 'nautical twilight' and 'civil twilight' (I know civil twilight is commonly referred to as dawn and dusk). Official sunrise and sunset is occurring at about 4:50am and 10:00pm, respectively. However, it remains dusky until about 11:30pm. And it's only end of April! I remember being in Anchorage right around the summer solstice in June and being so weirded out by sun setting at around midnight to 12:30am. All us visitors there for a conference thought it was about 9pm and were still chatting and visiting...until someone noted it was past midnight and we had to be back up for the conference in a few hours! Don't ask me about dawn....those of you that know me know I have no idea cause I'm never up that early!

    The blackout curtains and tin foil work wonders. I am going to affix a bit of velcro to the edges of the curtains so I can make them stick together and not 'wave beautifully'. Beautifully hanging and waving curtains are pros at letting annoying light in.

    Hopefully the weather will continue to warm because I'm anxious to get out and about on the bike again (I say 'again' like I actually have a history of riding it other than the exactly 1 time I tried to explode my lungs on it...lolol)
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  • Day219

    Montreal Y'all!

    April 17 in Canada

    To finish out my southern travel fest, I met up with my husband in Montreal and explored the city. Actually, I'm lying. I explored the 2 square blocks around the hotel and spent the rest of the time trying to expend as little energy as possible.

    I asked my husband to pick the hotel and I only had two criteria. 1. There must be a bathrobe and 2. The bathroom had to have some sort of stone in it. Didn't care what kind of stone or quality of bathrobe because I knew that any hotel that had both was gonna be supa-sweet for my complete laziness-vegge-out needs.

    He delivered. The hotel was incredibly beautiful and in a spectacular location. I could not have done better myself.

    So, basically, for the next week, we stuffed our faces. It was all very European as everyone knows, but I also realized that comes with European sized food portions. It turns out that I eat like I'm trying to be a competitive sumo wrestler. I never left a morsel behind on any of my plates and we'd often have to stop by a convenience store to get snacks after dinner. For those of you that don't know my husband, he metabolizes food as he chews it and breathes out the calories before they have a chance to enter his bloodstream. Thus, he too, eats like a sumo wrestler in training.

    We also became privy to a speakeasy quite by accident. We were given recommendations for a few eateries and bars by the barkeep/manager of the bar across from our hotel. We took the advice and went out to eat at one of the places recommended to us. While we were there, a couple seated next to us voluntarily explained that they had been watching people struggle to find this bar across the street. They were alerted to it themselves simply by the strange behavior of passerby. Folks were walking up and down the alleys and streets right outside our restaurant, clearly confused. Then, a few knew the secret and walked directly up to an unmarked, black door and rang an inconspicuous doorbell. There, they waited until the door was opened by a dapper doorman. The couple telling us about this went on the internet and learned the name of the bar. It too was one of the recommendations that we were given by the barkeep. After the couple left, we shifted our seats and began watching. It was quite entertaining. People just have a look about them when they are searching for something or are lost. It's fun to watch.

    We decided to look this bar up and sure enough, there were no directions on the web and it wasn't listed on Google Maps. We knew we had to go check it out! A few days later we did and discovered a low-lit, chill but hip underground bar. The walls were stone. It was like we were in a cozy dungeon....you know, minus the torture and plus the expensive drinks. It was fun though because the you were encouraged to have the staff make a drink for you based on ingredients you like. I love a true artist that can make drinks. I've tried and learned very fast that it is, indeed, an art, when I choked down my awful creations. My skill level stops at a mimosa. Max 2 ingredient mixologist right here. For those of you living in big cities (and by big, I mean larger than 1500 people), you should try a Spanish gin and tonic if you like g & t's. It was like Julia Childs was making her piece de resistance.

    We saw many Inuit art galleries in Montreal. We went through one completely and all of the pieces have labels identifying who carved them and where they are from. I saw several from Igloolik! I could not believe what the pieces were selling for! I have a bear I bought for $180 and bears similar in size were selling for $480-$600! I know there is shipping involved but wow! I was shocked. So, if you would like some genuine, hand carved Inuit art, just let me know...I can get a real good deal!
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  • Day217

    South bound and down

    April 15 in the United States

    After 6 months in the Arctic, I took a little trip southward and then back northward. Basically, I thought that traversing the eastern seaboard of North America would be fun. I thought too, that I should attempt 5 flights in one day. Seems reasonable. I'll have everyone know, for the record, that I would have made it too had Air Canada not scheduled our flight to land in Toronto when US immigration was closing. I'm not sure why they would do that, but it allowed me to spend a very short night in Toronto instead of South Florida. Good news was that I was back on a plane at 6am headed south and was there in time for brunch! Yea planes!! They are amazing.

    Some highlights and thoughts from the trip include:
    1. So many sounds and sights. Sensory overload. And that was just stepping off the jet bridge into the Ottawa airport terminal. My friend cautioned me before leaving to "try not to be a weirdo" since I hadn't been around lots of people or foods or crowds for 6 months. I really tried to adhere to her advice, but I must admit, my head was swiveling about quite a bit as all the noises, lights, and movement captured my attention. *think 3 year old at the fair's midway.

    2. The food and food smells! I broke the "weirdo" creedo when I couldn't resist pawing a cup of fruit with blueberries and cantaloupe in it. The fruit had no bruises and wasn't rotting. And this was at the little side stores that suck at the airport--not even a nice place! I was mesmerized.

    3. I realized that the Arctic is quiet. No bells, sirens, horns, few planes or cars...just really quiet. There is no traffic noise. No construction noise. Add snow and what little sound there is is dampened even more! I didn't realize how quiet it was until I was navigating through the Ottawa airport. TVs going, people talking, airport carts beeping, blaring announcements.

    4. Life is simple in the Arctic, but hard. Let me expand. My friend and I went to the grocery store. I wanted to get items that are unavailable in Igloolik or sometimes Canada, and she was doing some Easter shopping. We made our way to the "Easter display" of the store. This "display" was not a display at all. It was a giant aisle, the width of 2 aisles and spanned the entire store from the front to the back. This Easter aisle was bigger than the entire store that sells all groceries, home goods, and even ATVs, in Igloolik. For Easter. She was putting together Easter baskets for her young family members. She wanted to include a chocolate bunny. The difficulty became in deciding WHICH chocolate bunny. You see, there wasn't 1 or 2 choices of bunnies. There were seemingly endless choices. Do we want a Lindt bunny? Russell Stover? Hershey? Cadbury? Do we want milk chocolate? Dark chocolate? Blueberry filled chocolate? Strawberry filled chocolate? Do we want a 3 in bunny? A 5 inch bunny? A giant bunny? Do we want it solid chocolate or hollow? That was for the bunny. Then, we had to decide what kind of Easter eggs to put in the basket. I quit. The time and effort it takes to do all that....wow. So, while I complain that we have nothing here, it does make things incredibly easy and quick. I am not having to make any decisions on which store to go to, I don't have to price compare, I don't have to think about whether I could order this on the internet, I don't have to deliberate over 16 types of spaghetti sauces. It is freeing in a lot of ways.

    5. I went to a conference in Tennessee and a colleague of mine from here in Nunavut went as well. It was hilarious to be in Tennessee, walking without jackets, in slip-on shoes, next to blooming tulips and getting to watch him get called "honey", "sweetie", and "sugar" by all the female servers and locals. At the poster session, where participants have their research laid out on a 3 x 4 ft or so poster so others can read and discuss it, the conference organizers arranged for a local moonshine distillery to come and set up. They gave us all a free moonshine cocktail. And, they had fried green tomatoes and chicken wings for snacks. My colleague enjoyed it and we laughed about the fact that 6 months ago, when he picked me up at the Igloolik airport, he definitely did not think we'd be drinking moonshine and eating fried green tomatoes together in Tennessee!! We also made sure to send a selfie with the sun and flowers in it to my boss (his former boss), back in Igloolik. We are cruel you see.

    It was very good to see my family in Florida and family and friends in Tennessee while also getting to see friends/colleagues from my work world that I hadn't seen in years. Next stop, a new city! Montreal!
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  • Day180

    I stepped out of my house Monday and saw a coworker standing outside his house with luggage. I moseyed on over and we were chatting about his work trip. As we were chatting, an Arctic fox bounded across the road in front of me (behind him) about 15 meters (yards) away. It scurried across the road and beelined straight toward a family of mom, dad, and 2 kids. It skirted them by what looked like 3 or so feet as it ran under the house. I remarked, "Probably rabies" cause that's what I hear. Foxes have rabies and then they act like friendly puppy dogs until they zombie bite your ass.

    I heard later that day that the Conservation officer popped that puffy little fox and sent it off for rabies testing. The results came back today. It was positive. Always have to be on your toes no matter where you live. Maybe it's a sewer truck that hits you or a rabid fox. You just never know.

    I myself almost turned rabid this week when I triumphantly set 3 Dr. Pepper cans on the checkout conveyor belt. The store has been without Dr. Pepper since December and so I was absolutely gleeful when I saw it on the shelves again. I even remarked to a total stranger how exciting this was---to which they stared blankly back at me. Clearly they didn't share my enthusiasm.

    Unfortunately, my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt when I happened to look up and see the price that these devil cans were ringing up to. Five dollars a can. 12 ounces, 355 ml. One can. 5 dollars. I may have audibly gasped; I can't be sure. I did, however, pull the ghetto cheapness right on out as I told the lady to please take all 3 of those cans off my bill. She too looked blankly at me, but I didn't care. I could NOT spend $15 on three cans of soda. If I did that, I'd have to ration my serving sizes through medicine droppers. At that moment, I realized my addiction to Dr. Pepper has a price and it's apparently 5 dollars a freaking can. It's good stuff but it's not heroin. Sheesh.

    Subsequently, I've been "enjoying" copious amounts of water which I have to make sure is fully marinated in ice cubes and flavored with lime juice in order to choke it down. The water here tastes like sweat. Coupled with the extreme dryness and my reluctance to take in water, I will likely be mummified by fall. Maybe I've stopped aging too? Wouldn't that be a nice side effect of desiccating oneself.
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