Thursday, March 26, 2009

Learning About Another Culture

Hi Everyone! I have not gotten buried in the snow. The frozen north is beginning to thaw and life here has been very busy. We had a week in February where the students had a break and the teachers all did professional development activities for the full week. I did more Picturing Writing and had great fun creating lots of masterpieces to frame when I go back down south.
Jacques and I joined curling and almost made it to the finals in our curling league. It was more by luck that skill if you saw how we curled...especially me. I have fallen on my butt more that enough times this past month. We went in a tournament and had some really close games but lost again. It was great fun hanging out with friends and watching others curl.
This week and next our school is really into lots of cultural activities. It is Nunavut's 10th birthday on April 1st. We have a big assembly that day and are doing lots of Inuit activities throughout the next week. We had a tent in our library and elders talked about traditions when living in a tent and the lighting of the qulliq (spelling may be wrong). That is the lamp to light their tent or igloo. It now is used in ceremonies such as the first day of school. One of our staff knows how to light and keep the qulliq going. She might try to teach me sometime.
This is the tent in our library and my class is in back learning how to do beading. It was a way to learn patience as the elder instructor told the children. It was very trying to my patience when I had to thread 21 tiny needles over and over!
Anyone want a piece of frozen raw arctic char???
The tray on the table is the frozen, raw char. The Inuit staff and the elders loved it. I had a piece. It was like eating sushi. The stuff in the packages are whale blubber -maattaq(I think that is close to the right spelling). I tried it once and that was enough for me. It is very chewy and fishy tasting. Some people like to dip it in soya sauce. The next picture shows raw caribou, raw char and the blubber. The square container behind contains bannock which the students got to help make as well. Yes! That is the leg bone right on the table and they use the knife to hack off pieces. The knife is called an ulu. They are a great knife to use in the kitchen. Yes Charlotte! It was raw meat sitting on the table in our staff room! I thought of you when I saw it there on the table.(what would David think, too??)
We also did some square dancing. The dances were big events in the communities. There are some elders and staff teaching the students how to dance. Our class is going to do a dance for the school assembly. For those that know me...yes I always get into the dancing!

I think I am getting as many learning experiences as my students. We are having lots of fun learning together.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rockin Ravens

We have a great radio station up here called Raven Rock but that is not what I am blogging about. It is those giant crows up here that they call Ravens!
Jacques got a holiday turkey , a ham and some shrimp rings to have before Christmas but they arrive the evening before we left for the "South". He thought it was a great idea to put the box on our balcony til we returned. The outside makes a good freezer up here! The next morning before we headed to the airport he checked the box on the balcony.

As you can see, the taped up box is open and an empty shrimp ring was left for us to discover. The ravens had ripped open the box and eaten through one shrimp ring and started on another. I didn't know we had planned a present for our feathered neighbours. We had a good laugh about it and were able to store the other things in our freezer(minus 2 shrimp rings).

We didn't learn our lesson there. Jacques put a bag of garbage on the outside landing one day planning to throw it in the bin when we headed to work. He came back 15-20 minutes later to garbage strewn everywhere around the stairs. What a mess to clean up!

We still hadn't learned our lesson. The two of us went grocery shopping one Saturday morning. We put the bags of groceries in the back of the truck. After we decided to head to a restaurant for some lunch. I bet you can guess the rest of this story. Jacques picked up one of the bags when we went to unload. I heard him curse and ran to see the problem. The ravens had eaten 2 of our eggs and a bagel. This time they had breakfast on us.

Fool me once, fool me twice (and a third time)but those ravens aren't going to fool me again!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sewing Time

Finally got all of my parka cut out. Invited a few ladies over to do some sewing and that spurred me on to get all the material cut. It also took over a month to get the thinsulate material for the lining. No sense making a coat that I cannot wear in the very cold weather of Iqaluit. As you can see it will be a blue parka with blue and yellow trims as well as a fur around the hood. Looking at blue fox for the hood trim. My daughter is mad at me about using fur but it serves an important purpose here in the north. It keeps the wind off of one's face. I can tell you that we get some chilly winds.
Three ladies came by and we got to work on two coats and learned how to sew some mittens. The mittens we are beginning with have duffel material on the outside and polar fleece for the lining. If we do a good job then we'll put fur around the bottom edges. Maybe later we will try to sew mittens out of leather.

We also have a pattern for a baby parka. I have a grand nephew that arrived on Christmas Day. He will be the first grand baby that I can sew for. Not ready for any of my own. Sometime in the future after the girls get their own futures settled.

Hope to get something finished soon to post on the blog. Lots of things started but nothing finished. That seems to be the direction I go with my sewing projects. Maybe having the girls come over on Saturdays will mean I might actually finish one thing! (or more)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Curling, Sunsets and Other Things

Some of you might have remembered that I volunteered for the Nation Mixed Curling Bonspiel held here in Iqaluit. The local curling club put on an appreciation night for all of the volunteers. We had a buffet of munchies and lots of great prizes. I came away with a gift certificate to a local gift store. The group at the table are mostly people that work at the school with me. A fun bunch to party with!
Starting with the guy on the left Clyde, his wife Marilyn, Me, Barb, Steve and his girlfriend Rachel and at the back diane.The guy grinning at us is the gym teacher from my school and Barb's husband Harry.
The sun is starting to go down later in the day now. These two pictures were taken at about 2:00 in the afternoon. The sun and moon seen so much closer to us up here. By 2:30 it was dark again. I look forward to longer days.

Below is the view from the side of our building. The hill is covered with snow but it is not very deep. The wind blow so often that much of the snow get blown away. I like how hard and crunchy the snow is. You can walk on top of it and it makes such a neat sound.

Finally I started a course in Inuktitut. It is a very different language from english. Here is the words for "Yes I want to drink some coffee" ii, kaapiturumajunga Say that mouthful! The hour class went by very quickly. I hope to use some words with my own students. They will be able to help me with the pronounciation.
(Good Night)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ramblings About The Holidays

Jacques and I are back in the land of Ice and Snow. It seems like we barely left and boom we're back.

The trips down to NS and back were interesting in themselves. We left Iqaluit on the 20th of December full of excitement about seeing our children. Arrived in Ottawa after an hour and half delay waiting to load in Iqaluit. The waiting area is extremely small especially for a couple hundred people wanting to get out for Christmas. Good flight on the and special coffees helped that!

We all arrived in Ottawa to hear that another storm was coming through on Sunday which might cancel many of the flights out the next day. Jacques checked with Air Canada to see if we could switch flights to get out earlier and beat the storm. He was told that the earliest would be the 27 th. He decided that we would take a trip somewhere south if we couldn't get home to the family. That was alright with me. That wouldn't have been alright with the kids ....but that's life!

We had dinner at The Keg with friends and enjoyed the evening in Ottawa. Life always looks better with good friends, food and wine.

The next morning I looked out to a few flakes that soon turned into lots and lots of snow. We started to check out cancellations in Ottawa and Toronto. Everything in Toronto was starting to be cancelled. Jacques was about to look at flights to Cuba. He saw that Porter Air was flying to Halifax that morning. We got on the phone because we saw that they had some seats available. The line was busy so we headed to the airport. It took us a while as we got lost getting there. As it happened they had seats available at $99 each so we took them. We raced back to the hotel and grabbed our bags then back to the airport. We checked in our baggage then went through security to wait and hope the flight didn't get cancelled. It became a waiting game as the flight kept getting delayed every 15 minutes. It was to leave at 11:40 and we were still waiting to board at 12:40. They we heard the magic words. We boarded and took off at 1:00. It seemed unreal that we actually landed in Halifax at 4:00 that afternoon when our original flight would have had us land at 10:45 that night. Everyone cheered as we landed because we knew we were lucky to make it home that weekend. Of course the family was shocked to have us arrive at their doors 6 hours before they were expecting us. They thought we were calling to say we couldn't made it. The storm hit Halifax soon after we had landed. It didn't bother us as we were enjoying a party with our children. That was the best Christmas present ever!

It was great to see all our children, family and friends. I didn't realize how short our visit was until we started traveling around to see everyone. First a visit with all our children while they were having their own dinner party. It was nice to spend time with all of our children together in the same place. Off to the valley the next day. Strange to go home to our house with someone else living there. It is great that Linda and her family are enjoying our house. We had a terrific visit and got to see a few friends. Jackie was really glad we got the truck up and running. She now has a reliable vehicle to get her to school this winter. Remember Kiddo that it is just a loan!

Getting the Christmas dinner ready. Everyone is pitching in to help!

Enjoying a beautiful Christmas tree and all the trimmings at Blair and Denise's place.

Back to Halifax to spend Christmas with the rest of our family. Friends were kind enough to lend us their house in East Chezzecook. It was a beautiful spot to enjoy the holidays. Then off to the cottage for the last bit of our holidays. Our cottage at Round Bay is really home to me. It has been the one constant in my life from birth. It also made me miss home more that anywhere else we visited over the holidays.
The beach at Round Bay. I look forward to swimming in the waves next summer!

The old cottage is still standing....we don't know for how much longer?

We headed back to Halifax via the valley. Had to say another good-bye to our oldest child. Got to enjoy a meal with everyone at Pizza Delight. It was a long trip for 5 people in a small Ford Focus.

Dinner at Pizza Delight in Greenwood. Alex and Collette look impressed!
Jackie with that mischievious grin of her's. She had just licked Alex's ear and he wasn't happy with her!
All the family is together for the last time in 2008. Looking forward to more fun times together in 2009!

Said our final good byes in Halifax then it was time for the flight back to Ottawa. This trip was very uneventful. We got to the hotel in Ottawa at about 10:30 am. Enjoyed the day in Ottawa and did some shopping. Got a hockey bag and filled it with some essentials...boxes of wine, rum and other things.
Finally we headed backto the airport on the eve of the New Year. The flight was to leave for Iqaluit via Montreal and Kujuak(not correct spelling) Quebec. We waited in the airport with a group who had tried to get out the day before and had to turn around and go back to Ottawa after hours of wait up in Kujuak which is in the north of Quebec. We got to Montreal and had to wait on the tarmack for over 2 hours. We thn got to Kujuak and had another wait of on hour on the tarmack. We loaded on the plane at 8 am and got off after 3 pm. It is not fun sitting on a hot plane for hours. It was good to land after a long day sitting and waiting. We had 15 minutes to pick up groceries for our New Years Eve. Not much left on the shelves. Many of the grocery flights had not made it in due to bad weather. The shelves are filled up again now but we had no milk or fresh vegies for a few days. You have to make do when this happens. We are learning to be very adapting in this new environment. It was a quiet New Year but it looks to be a busy year coming up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Christmas time is as busy up north as it is back in the south. Jacques and I have been busy with parties, visiting friends, practicing for concerts, getting in the Christmas spirit and counting the days til we see our kids. One of the two airlines that flys up north puts on a huge Gala ball at the end of November to kick off the holiday season. The tickets are $125 and the money goes to different charity groups in Iqaluit. I think over 500 people attended this event. Jacques was lucky enought to get us 2 tickets. That meant we both had to get dressed up. I haven't had an opportunity to really get dressed up in years. Well I am glad I still had my slinky black dress. It's the only one I brought north with me. I hoped it would do for a "Gala"! I looked okay and Jacques was handsome in his nice charcoal suit. Boy what a variety of dresses. There were beautiful evening gowns, terrific looking cocktail dresses and even prom dresses. I wish I had gotten some pictures of a few of the gorgeous dresses lots of the women wore. The hairdos were another thing. I just washed and blew my hair dry. These women had all been to the hairdressers for updos with ribbons, pearls and flowers strung through their hair. I guess when it is the only major event of the year you make the most of it. They had drinks and appetizers first. The appetizers were scallops wrapped in bacon and mini chicken shish kabobs. The bar was open and the liquor flowed. This was followed by a buffet meal prepared by the Frobisher Inn. A very nice meal! After the meal they presented cheques to the different charity groups and had a draw for some plane tickets and a beautiful sealskin coat. Darn! I didn't win anything. The evening ended with a dance to a fun band they had flown in from down south. Jacques and I boogied to the disco beat for a while and then caought a taxi home. All in all a lovely evening.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Inuit Art Gallery

I am taking you up on your idea Donna P. Here is a peak at the beginnings of the Deschenes' Inuit Art Gallery (Ha! Ha!)
The two Bears is a piece we bought because the fellow knocked the price down to $10. I think it will actually look great in the right frame.
This picture on the right is our favourite piece. We wanted it as soon as we saw it. It is from a local artist here in Iqaluit. We hope to get a few more of his pieces. It represents celebrating after the kill of an animal (I think)
The set of three pictures at the bottom are about a hunter trying to catch a seal. Each picture we have purchased is different in the techniques. So many different works of art to choose from. I hope to select a few carvings to add to our collection sometime in the future.