Nanook of the North

It has been three weeks since I began this post.  I am IMG-20121109-00070absolutely terrible at keeping up to date with my blogs.  Evenings get filled up so much and with the sun setting so early now, my energy levels are dwindling.

So here is my not-so-new news…There is a new addition to the Ancher family.  November 9th I picked up this little guy.  I have been talking about getting a new puppy for a couple years now, and when my friend, Karen, called to say this squirt was posted on the Rankin Inlet buy and swap Facebook page I knew the time had come.

A couple of hours later, Karen and I were bringing him home for his first bath, and of course to meet his new brother, Bilbo.  Now Bilbo, on his best days, is friendly, playful, energetic, and very much lacking in every social grace necessary to be a well behaved domestic house pet.  I love him dearly (he is my heart ♥) but he has no boundaries and though is not even a wee bit IMG_1108aggressive, he can be rough if only because he is the most clumsy, uncoordinated dog I have ever met.  Once we bathed the little guy and let him get acquainted with the apartment we introduced him to his big brother.  The meeting went much better than I had hoped.  Bilbo at once took to the new puppy and they are the best of friends. (This photo is hilarious and I had to add it.  Bilbo looks so stunned.  Bilbo has dozens of little scratches all over his neck from puppy teeth and he never IMG_0915complains)

Now I thought long about a name but kept coming back to Nanook, the Inuktitut name for polar bear, or just bear.  I thought he could use a nice tough name since he will likely not get too big and scary.  So Nanook it is.

He was about 6-8 weeks old when I got him, and one of my students has his brother from the last litter.  He won’t get much bigger, perhaps the size of Bilbo, which is good because I can carry him in a carry-on bag in the airplane.  We are still working on house-training him, an arduous task since we live on the third floor and I have to bundle up each time we go out, put Bilbo’s coat and boots on; we have to do this many times a day for Nanook to understand that you have to go outside to pee.  IMG_1133

I am so happy that Bilbo has company now when I go to work.  He seems so happy to have Nanook around.  They also offer me hours of entertainment, running, chasing each other, and recently they have discovered tug-of-war with a squeaky squirrel toy.

One other thing that Nanook has brought to our household…Our mornings are that much Rankin Inlet-20121118-00088more cozy.  I get to curl up on a chair by my window with two little guys curled up on my lap.Rankin Inlet-20121119-00096  It is my favourite part of the day. It just brings a new element to our happy home.  Bilbo is happy, Nanook has a good home, and I have two very happy puppies to greet me when I get home from work.

To be continued…

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Oh Happy Snow Day!

November 15th and it is already the first snow day of the year!  We all knew it was coming, but last week we were promised a blizzard and it was a sad excuse for a storm.  So this morning when I woke up at 6:30 and the wind was weak and visibility was good I figured it was off to work I go.  I took the boys out for a walk and it was cold, but certainly not snow day worthy.  We came back inside, I made coffee, and by 7 the snow had begun.  Once the call came that the school was indeed closed down, I had already begun planning my day 🙂

I thought of going back to take a nap, cuddling up with the pups, but the idea of puttering around and getting lots of things done was too delightful.  After breakfast with the boys snuggled in beside me, I began my day.  At the top of my list was baking.  By noon I had made a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins with coconut rum icing.  I did some cleaning and cut up the ingredients for sweet potato chicken pot pie.  I then headed to my friend, George’s, to make candles.  I had some old candles that had not burned properly, so we made them into jar candles.  We used old food jars that had once held pasta sauce, pesto, or cheeze whiz.  I love the look of them; eclectic, retro, and of course eco-friendly.  So much ends up in the dump here that it is nice to reuse anything. 

After the success of candle making, I was still feeling crafty.  I grabbed a ball of cotton yarn and knit a dish cloth.  It was an easy project and I was able to finish it while watching tv when Darren came over to watch the Big Bang Theory and Glee.

I tried to take the boys out as often and possible.  Bilbo would be fine staying inside most of the day, but Nanook still has his puppy bladder and if I am going to house train him, I have to take him out often.  Bilbo absolutely hates his first blizzard experience.  He dislikes his boots and tries to limit his exposure to the elements as much as possible.  Nanook on the other hand doesn’t mind being out without coat or boots, though today the wind was so strong it did knock him over onto his side.  I laughed before I realised I should feel bad for the little guy.  He survived, they both did, and have also been enjoying the extra time with mama.  If they weren’t chasing each other through the apartment, they were following me from room to room, that is until they crash in some comfy corner or chair.  I thoroughly enjoyed spending the extra day with them.

All in all, it was a very cozy, successful and productive snow day.  And to top it off, after the blizzard cleared away, the stars came out and the northern lights were dancing as I took the boys outside just before bed.  It was a very peaceful end to lovely gift of a day.  I am quite grateful and content now as I head to sleep.

To be continued…

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Quest for the Aurora Borealis

As long as I had been looking to work in the north I had been looking forward to seeing the northern lights.  I had hoped I would see them at some point during my time here, but they are so common here that the only thing that keeps be from seeing them more often is an overcast sky.  Unfortunately, Rankin Inlet seems to be overcast often.  I do keep an eye on a northern lights forecast website just to be sure I get outside when they are active.

 

 

I had wanted to get a good camera before I came but all I had was a little Sony point-and-shoot.  It didn’t even catch anything when I tried it at first.  It was very disappointing so I looked around for another camera that was reasonably priced but still good enough to catch quality shots at night.  I found the Canon SX40 HS on sale and thought it might be good enough.  I have had good results with Canon cameras.

I have taken my camera out several times but I have still been trying to figure out settings.  My friend, Darren, has been trying to show me which settings might be useful.  My early pictures were very grainy, just green blobs.  I was holding the camera, holding my breath and trying to keeping it steady but I couldn’t hold it still enough.  I then brought out the mini tripod that came with the camera.  The pictures definitely improved, (the first three), but still they aren’t what I have been hoping for.

Since daylight savings time change a week ago, it has been a little depressing coming out of work at 4 or 5 and it being dark already.  The sun is going down at 3:30 now, and even though I have upped my vitamin D intake, it has been a dark and disheartening walk home.  On my way home tonight at 5, I was happy to see a nice clear night.  The stars are so bright here, nothing like the light pollution in southern Ontario.  The following three pictures were taking tonight (if you click on the pictured, you can see them better).  I spent a while figuring out my camera settings before I went out.  It was -35°C with the windchill and I didn’t want to have to figure that out outside.

I brought my camera, tripod, and my small laptop table outside.  Having pre-programmed the settings, I walked out behind the apartment building and found a dark snow drift to set up in.  I put the camera on a 2 second timer so the shaking of my hand wouldn’t effect the picture.  Unfortunately, by the time I had figured out my camera, put on my snow pants and parka, and trekked out behind the hill out back, the northern lights had faded a bit.  I am much happier with the results, but since the aurora had diminished they are not as I hoped.

My camera’s battery was dying so I thought I would stay out until it died.  When it finally did, my fingers were nearly numb.  I packed up, stood to walk back to my apartment building and of course the sky exploded with the colour.  It won’t be the last chance to capture the show.  I am determined to get some spectacular pictures.  Even if it does mean wearing extra layers of wool under my snow pants and parka, bringing hand warmers, and waiting patiently for the perfect shot.

To be continued…

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Reporting for Duty

I survived my first exams, reporting term and parent/student/teacher interviews.  It was definitely a learning experience.  According to our professors at university, the most important part of teaching is reflecting and I have been doing a lot of this over the last two weeks.

When I first started in August, I was given very little time to settle in and acquaint myself with the ins and outs of teaching.  Fortunately, there were three teachers who handed over all their lesson plans from previous years to help.  I was able to see where the grade sevens had been in previous years and was able to map out where I would like to take them.  I have been also trying to mirror the other 7 teacher, Kevin, and make sure I am making the same progress he has been with his class.  Well, I am definitely behind.  I have really been struggling with the math lessons, mostly because I haven’t seen this kind of stuff in 25 years.  I don’t think about how fractions work anymore, I don’t consciously map out how I find common multiples, and I certainly don’t remember any of the divisibility rules we learned.  This stuff has all become part of the automatic process my mind uses on a daily basis to figure out real-life situations.  ‘How many potatoes will I need to feed six dinner guests, three of which are men?’  ‘I have to triple this recipe, what is three times 3/4 cup, 2 2/3 cup, 1/8 teaspoon?’ ‘How much extra fabric will I need if I want to make this quilt 8 inches wider?’  These basic math skills are part of our every day now, but my students don’t have it ingrained in their minds yet.  Figuring out how I can make them understand something I take for granted has been a challenge.  (I would like to point out that the question in the picture above does have an obvious problem.  I do not think John is actually 16 3/4 feet tall, nor is Sammy 12 3/4 feet tall.  One of my students pointed this out to me during the exam…reflection?  Read exam carefully before you print it)

Marking exams went well.  At times I was frustrated when so many students did poorly on certain questions.  I began to think about how I could have taught certain things better, and where I failed them in teaching them what they need to know.  I think at times how I maybe spend too much time on specific lessons, but then when I test them, they still don’t understand.  There were entertaining moments too though.  I have some pretty creative kids and when they are stumped, they come up with some interesting things.  I do appreciate the laugh, even if it is at the cost of their marks.

The report cards went off with very little issue.  I do, however, now see the need to assess the kids more.  I had marks to enter into their reports, but I feel I could have had much, much more.  Comments were time consuming but easy enough, though again, I do need to take more notes for the students.  There is so much I could have missed and just forgot because our days are so busy.

As for the parent/student/teacher interviews I think it went very well.  I had 16 parents show and had some nice conversations with them.  There were a few parents I wanted to see, and in fact had planned on coming in, but didn’t show.  I am going to track them down this week and still try and set something up.  If it is one thing that I MUST improve upon this term, it is keeping in contact with all parents.  It has been stressed in university, other teachers tell me it is crucial and I know myself that it is so important.

Over all I think it went relatively smooth but I am still very glad to see it over.  I will be much more prepared come January for the next reporting term.  I will be working a lot harder this term to fix the problems I made in the first.  Aside from all that teaching stuff that is expected of me, I will also be focusing on keeping a cleaner, more organised desk.  I joke with the kids, asking them who messed up my desk, but it’s no use.  They know its me.  I had cleaned it in preparation of parent’s arrival and I will be doing my very best to keep it this way.  Of course, by Wednesday it might revert to a pile of papers, pencil shavings, and unmarked work.

To be continued…

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PD Hangover

Here is the proof that, yes indeed, I do keep my mitts in the fridge.  They warm up very quickly once I put them on, so keeping them in the fridge does not affect their ability to keep my paws toasty 🙂  I have had lots of compliments on them, and since the weather has now dipped to -25 with the wind chill, they are coming in handy (mind the pun).

 

My parka is almost done.  I have been delayed showing the pics of the work in progress for a few reasons.  To start with I was messing up at every turn (see evidence to the right).  After PD week ended and I started back to work, I have been busy preparing for exams next week.  My only time to sew is late in the evenings when I am tired and frustration comes easily.  But it is nearly done now.  I have only to hem it and buy the fur for the hood.  There are some fur harvesters coming to town in November so I will wait to see if I can get a deal on some nice trim.

The picture here (though I am smiling) comes at the end of a very long and discouraging night.  I do believe it is nearly midnight and my smile may or may not be scotch induced.  Note, the scotch may have contributed to me not having tossed the bloody coat out the three story window into the wind storm outside several times over the course of the evening.

That being said, I will be taking a break before putting the second parka together, though my ribbon did arrive today, nearly two weeks after I began sewing the first one.  Better late than never I suppose, though truth be told, I don’t particularly like the ribbon now that it has arrived.  Isn’t that just the way.
To be continued…

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Warm Hands, Heavy Heart ♥

The mitts are done!!  I am so proud of them I decided to parade them around town.  As it were, it was a balmy -4 °C today, so by the time I arrived at the Northern to show them off to my friend, Angela, my hands were on fire.  They are lined with lambs wool, and cuffed with beaver fur.  They are now in my fridge cooling off.  Tomorrow is only going to be 0 °C so it will not be mitt worthy day.

I was extremely bummed today because my ribbon STILL has not arrived.  I have all my pieces of parka lying around the home ec room waiting to be assembled, but alas, I am at standstill.  I have no idea what I will do tomorrow.  I will make one last attempt at checking the post office when they open tomorrow morning.  If they are still not there, I will fight the urge to take the remnants home and place them in my unfinished project box of shame.  I don’t know if Helen would help me after this week since she was just hired for the week and I am not sure if I have the confidence to complete it on my own.  Perhaps I am just too tired and disheartened, but I just feel I have had so much wasted time this week.

I am going to try and focus on the positive and bask in the pride I feel over my mitts.  I was so excited about the parka and now I am just so disappointed that it isn’t done.  I was off to such a good start but I lost my sizzle.  At least at the end of the week I have a beautiful pair of mitts.  And I have also been inspired and may even take some of my left over seal skin and make a teddy bear.  I brought up a few patterns and might have one or two that will suit the fur.  I will give thanks for what I have and what I have done and tomorrow wake up with more tenacity.

I am off to bed.  I will add the pictures of the evolution of my mitts.  Send all your positive thoughts that my ribbons are waiting for me at the post office in the morning 🙂

To be continued…

 

 

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PD Progress!

Well my ribbon has still not arrived.  I am feeling frustrated because I am at a stand-still with my parka.  I know I could have had at least one of them done by now if I had had all my materials here.  As it is, I felt that I could not sit around any longer and would move on to my seal skin mitts.  Gotta keep on keeping on, so for day three I switched projects.

To make mitts, you can either use factory processed skins or traditional dried skins.  The former is easy to work with because the back side is soft and pliable, whereas the traditionally processed skins are tougher and must be chewed on or moistened with water to work with. 

I decided to go with the traditional dried skins, even though they require a little more care.  Being dried and not chemically treated, you must always keep your seal skin clothing in a cold area.  During the summer months you must store them in the freezer, but Helen tells me over the winter I can just leave them in the fridge.  So I am devoting one of my crispers to be my new mitt drawer.   “Where are your mitts, Karen?”…In the fridge, obviously!

You have to cut the skins carefully in order not to trim off the fur.  I used an ulu, a curved blade tool, and it worked quite well.  I didn’t attain the finesse that Helen has with the tool, but I managed just fine.  You have to also work the skins, rolling and chewing it to soften it up, and I did, in fact, try chewing the skins.  It was kinda unpleasant and tough on my teeth, so after a while I just wet it with water.

I been on a soup kick lately so tonight I had a few of the boys over for beer and cheddar soup and Italian sausage soup.  Darren made homemade cheddar bread, Kevin wrote some lovely poetry on my fridge, and Steve and I now have a movie exchange arrangement.  And to top off a lovely evening, they even cleaned my kitchen.  I was also able to sew together one of the seal skin mitts while we watched Firefly, but that picture shall wait for the next blog.

To be continued…

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PD Day Two

Well I can’t remember one single sewing project ever that was completed without at least one major snafu. As of today, this parka making endeavor has joined this long tradition. I was quite pleased with myself this morning (which should have been my first warning sign…never, every become complacent – catastrophe awaits the smug)

Yesterday I had serged the quilted lining to the thinsulate and today I began my day ready to assemble the pieces together. Well as it turns out, my front pieces and back pieces were different lengths. I wanted my parka to be mid-thigh length, but one side looked more like knee length. I had bought plenty of fabric, so instead of doing the logical thing (cut off the excess fabric), I thought, ‘hey! I can make two (almost identical) parkas!!’ Because what if it is a really cold day and I want my knees covered? Or what if I am feeling scandalous and choose to reveal my snow pant covered knees? A woman has got to have some choice, people!

Cutting out my new(er) parka, I realised I was a couple pieces short for my short parka.  So off to the Kativik to buy more fabric.  Working quickly to get this second parka on the go, I am also stressing out, ever so slightly, because the ribbon I ordered to decorate my parka has not yet arrived.  I have been checking the post office up to twice a day, but no ribbon yet.  I did, however, find a decent parka at the dump the other day **stay tuned for dump day treasure retrieval adventure blog to be posted** which happened to have some really nice ribbon.  I brought it home, washed it, and have it as back up ribbon for my parka.

But that still doesn’t solve the second parka dilemma, which did come to more frustrating blows at the end of today.  I was already preoccupied because I had left Bilbo all day in the apartment and was worried that I should let him out.  I decided to bring him to the school with me so I can get the second parka well under way (note to self…Bilbo does NOT facilitate efficient working conditions; see proof left).  I assembled all the insulating parts and tried it on, only to discover the shoulders were WAY too big, and unless I was willing to throw a couple giant shoulder pads and try to relive the 80s, I am going to have to alter it.
So that is where I left the day, two unfinished parkas laying in wait for Helen (the elder teaching me) to put things right.  I may put the parkas aside tomorrow and begin my mitts.  This would give me a bit of distance from the parka derailment and perhaps my ribbons will arrive in the meantime.

At the very least, my booze order arrived from Churchill, Manitoba today.  I now have beer to make my beer and cheddar soup.  Tomorrow will be a busy day.  Parkas, mitts, soup, and dinner guests.  Maybe I will add extra beer to forget my parka tribulations.

To be continued…

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Professional Development

Remember back to your school days and you will likely have a wistful smile when you remember those rare gems that occurred periodically throughout the school year…PD days.  Ah, we looked forward to such days, free from the heavy burden of the classroom (oh we were so hard done by).  I remember looking at the class schedule that was handed o in September, mapping out these precious days.  They were days held in reverence,the glory of the school child.


Now I am a teacher, bound by contract to better myself professionally on these days, to learn and gain new skills and knowledge, to boldly go where no one has…wait, sorry, watching too much Star Trek lately.

Anyway, the school board I work for -Kivalliq School Operations- lump all their PD days into a week, and this week is upon us.  I have chosen to add two new skills to my sewing portfolio.  I am making a traditional parka and a pair of seal skin mitts.  We have snow already and I have seen several people walking on the lake already, so it is time for parka and mitts.

 

Today will be day two of my week, so I am adding some pictures as I go.  The seal skin (above) and the fabric (right) are my before pics.  I will take more photos today to document my journey through the week.

To be continued…

 

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The Day the Music Died

There are few things I enjoy more than peaceful quiet mornings.  For those that know me, I am not generally a morning person.  Grumpy, irritable, taciturn may be words that come to their minds when describing me in the morning, so to hear me say that I enjoy my mornings may come as a surprise to many.

My perfect morning is this;  waking up before I have to rush anywhere, making a pot of coffee, and sitting quietly with Bilbo in my comfy chair looking out the window while enjoying my breakfast.  I am, in fact, sitting in said chair as I write, drinking my coffee, and thoroughly enjoying my morning.  Such is perfection.

Now my breakfast almost always consists of toast and peanut butter.  I generally prefer natural peanut butter, but lets be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any peanut butter.  Sometimes I put honey on it, other times banana, but often just peanut butter.  I change up the bread every now and then, raisin bread, rye, whole grain, but the two staples required are peanut butter and toast…and here is where disharmony entered my life

When planning to move to Nunavut, I began preparing a list of all the items that I needed to purchase and pack for the movers to take north.  Among my list was a toaster; much needed implement for my ideal morning.  Then I remembered a certain Christmas gift that my sister, Laura, had given me years ago; a Winnie the Pooh toaster that burns Winnie’s face onto one piece of toast and Tigger’s on the other.  It was still in the box and I was happy that I, not only didn’t have to purchase a toaster, but that I had one with Winnie the Pooh on it.

Then it happened…I made my first piece of toast.  The following clip is what I heard when my toast popped:

Winnie the Pooh Toaster

Now you can imagine my horror.  Every morning my peace shattered by none other than Winnie the Pooh!  I was devastated.  Each morning I cringed just before the toast would pop, imagining all my neighbours waking up to the tinny version of a childhood theme song.  I was dreading my morning ritual, the inevitable piercing tune drilling into my brain.  Oh the anxiety!

My mornings were tainted.  My happiness shattered so much so that even my chair, the window, and Bilbo could not repair it.  I confided to my friend, Darren, who lives downstairs.  I was clearly distressed, but all he did was smile.  He came for a visit, asked for some tools, and proceeded to solve my most pressing problem.  Quickly he operated on the contraption, asking if I was sure I wanted the music gone forever, because once it was removed, it would never play again.  I did not hesitate.  ‘Do it!’ and it was done.  Even Winnie and Tigger dance for joy on the toaster to celebrate quiet mornings again.  Peace was restored.

I will add one more photo of the oh-so-small device that caused me so much despair, only because it now brings me so much joy to see it powerless.  No more can you torment me, ye tiny puny doohicky!  MuahahahaTo be continued…

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