Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Island Living

When you think of island living don't you think of sun, sandy beaches, hot temperatures, palm trees?  Not me, I think of sun, snow 8 months of the year, no trees and cold.  Now that's my kind of island living! haha Maybe one day I will live on an island like my friend Petra who lives 1/2 the year on the island of Aruba.  Think she will switch islands with me?

You know the old saying, "You learn something new everyday"?  Well living on this island I have learnt a couple of things.  Number one do not anything for granted...like electricity for instance.  Our electricity comes from generators which is fueled by diesel, God I hope they never run out.  For the past couple of weekends the power has been turned off from 4am to anywhere from 7 - 8am as the power company needed to do maintenance.  I now know why they are called blackouts,  it is not only dark but extremely dark and quiet.  It is very different than the blackouts down south.

Number two is food. Nutrition North has arrived here in Cambridge Bay.  What is Nutrition North you ask?

"The Government of Canada is committed to providing Northerners with healthy food choices at affordable prices. On May 21, 2010, it was announced that a new program called Nutrition North Canada would replace the Food Mail Program effective April 1, 2011. The objective of the new program is to make nutritious, perishable foods accessible to Canadians living in isolated northern communities." 

It's a good concept and we will see what happens.  The problem is the fresh fruit and veggies that we get at the Northern Store or the Co-op aren't so fresh and very expensive.  I love getting food mail, it's like Christmas when it comes in, and the smell of fresh fruits and veggies are well....amazing.  

I had to order dog food in as we did not bring enough with us when we moved here to last us for a full year or around here we call it barge time.  So I ordered 7 - 30lb bags from the Yellowknife Animal Hospital and the freight was just over $200.00  First Air was less expensive than Canadian North or Canada Post, both were going to charge me over $600.00...my God the food wasn't even that much.

Speaking of barge time, I was informed by our friend Sheila to start getting our barge order ready.  HELP!  Does anyone down south know exactly how much toilet paper your family uses in a year?  I have started a list but the quantities are a blank.  The barges bring in everything and anything:  vehicles, furniture, paint, lumber, fuel for the town for the year, household items, etc etc.  Getting/being organized is an understatement.

Medical care?  Anything seriously wrong with you, you are on that jet and out of here to either Yellowknife or Edmonton.  Yes I am still waiting on the results back from the x-rays of my hand/wrist .  Still a bit swollen and sore but not as bad.  As for our dogs, I wish there was a jet for them or 911-fly-a-vet up here.  Molly had been a bad little princess last week and again this week, eating things that she shouldn't.  Today she actually opened up a cupboard and ate cookies, cheese crackers, caramel chips and tart shells.  Last week it was 13 blueberry muffins.  So at lunch today Craig and I switched the can food to the bottom cupboard and my baking supplies to the top.  She has never opened up a cupboard in the past, today was the first time and it better be the last...she is lucky I love her so much.  I would like to send out a big thank you  to Dr. Jillian Preston, Dr. Brad Safiniuk, Mela, Jen Mac and the girls at the front desk at Birchwood Animal Hospital in Winnipeg for looking after my girl from a distance and for calming me down when I panicked. 

I have also learnt how to do on-line shopping.  Yeah yeah get in the 21st century Denise.  Did you know that you can buy just about anything on-line?  Who knew?! haha A couple of my favorite sites are Costco and Well.ca as they both delivery up here at no charge, actually anywhere in Canada.  Shhhhh don't tell them how much it actually costs to get things up here.  Well.ca is an amazing site for anything from pasta to bread to toiletries to household cleaning items.  If you go on the site just type in something vague on the search....like cereal and voila pages of all kinds of cereal will pop up.  We purchased a Keurig from Costco among other items, well the other items came in last week and still no sign of the Keurig.  So I called Costco and they are shipping up another one..watch we will get two in the mail. 

It has been very foggy here since Sunday.  Sunday we took a short drive with the dogs to West Arm to run them on the ice.  It was a bit foggy when we left and we could still see the town but when we left an hour later the town had disappeared in the fog.  Temperatures have been great, hovering around the mid teens, still in the minus but not -50'c. Today was just cloudy and I am hoping the sun will come out on Thursday as forecasted.

Craig was suppose to leave yesterday for Kugluktuk, formerly Coppermine, but due to the foggy weather he was delayed a day. We talked tonight and he arrived safely and will return on Friday.  His job will take him to various towns in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut.  There is a joke here that First Air will fly in anything, the pilots are fearless but Canadian North will not land if the weather is even hinting at getting bad.  First Air landed yesterday but Canadian just did a fly by....I think Craig waved at the pilots. haha

I am still working at Kitikmeot Foods helping out in the office as our friend Monique still hasn't arrived back home.  I am having good support from her, Stephane and the company and they assure me that the audit will go fine next week...we'll see.  I think I may stay on and help in the plant when they start processing the musk ox.  Because the plant is government inspected we must wait until an inspector from CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) comes in on April 11th to start processing the meat.  There are very strict guidelines to uphold at the plant and by the sounds of it they are inspected all of the time. 

Just a few pictures tonight of the dogs playing on the ice at West Arm and of Blitz.

Talk soon!  (I promise Sheila and Dad)

Great day playing and running on the ice at West Arm.
Molly putting on the brakes with Blitz coming up the rear...Molly did turn and get the ball before Blitz.
Did Hannah catch the ball?
Caught it!  She hardly ever misses, not bad for a 10 year old dog.
This is what Blitz looked like after his romp on the ice...so tired.
Blitz after his bath last night

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's Up?

What's up you ask?  Well a few things have happened in the last couple of weeks so I guess I will start from the beginning.  A couple of Saturdays ago we were invited to Kate & Gary's home for a great turkey dinner.  It had all of the trimmings with a east coast flare.  Great cooks and hosts.  After dinner it was the boys and Kim's turn to entertain us with some music.  It was a fun night spent with good friends.

Craig & I were still helping out with the musk ox harvest here until the 11th.  It was busier and more hectic as our boss and friend Monique was medivac out to Yellowknife so we all had to pull up our socks and help out where ever needed.  She is still out on medical leave so she asked me to help out in the office doing her paperwork and getting ready for their year end at the end of the month...HELP!  We spend a lot of time on the phone each day as Monique trains me from her hospital bed in Yellowknife.  She knows this company inside and out, has helped me understand the operations the past three days and I will do what I can and hope the audit goes well in April, wish me luck. 

I had fun helping out with the harvest this year, first time ever working with musk ox.  I had met some fun people from the community and had a blast with the inspectors, Alex and Brian and the vet Dr. Kaz, all from Alberta.  The abattoir manager Peter is also from Alberta and I must apologize again to him as I 'accidently' let go of a leg and hit him in the face with the hoof.  I never lived that one down.    He told me that the fur is sent to Alberta where it is cleaned and then shipped to Peru from there.   The hunters told me that they had seen pack of wolves and a polar bear sightening, both were not that far from town.  Kinda cool yet scarry.  Would love to see either, just enough time to shoot a couple of pictures and then run.

I had a visit with the Health Centre on Monday morning as my right hand had been swollen for about a week.  After a round of x-rays I still do not know what is going on as the film was sent down south for a radiologist or doctor to have a look at them.  There is something going on in my wrist but the nurse could not diagnose it, maybe a small fracture or early arthritis.  It is wrapped and I am taking anti-inflammatory for the swelling, so now it's a waiting game.

Craig started his new job on Monday doing IT stuff for the Government of Nunavut.  So far I think he likes his job and he is already talking about going to other communities for short stays.  After 10 years of living apart I think I can live without him for a week at a time.  He was also offered a job with the Arctic College tutoring math and English but doesn't know his start day but knows it is a couple of evenings a week.

Last week was a bit hectic here with Molly as her vet thinks she had pneumonia, hard to tell without x-rays.  She's got this crazy chronic bronchitis and takes a couple of puffers every day.  She hasn't been quite right ever since we got home from Manitoba and it just seemed like it was getting worse.  She was running a fever & stopped eating so I had to change my outfit to 'nurse Denise' and forced fed her, gave her medications and sub-q fluids.  Her fever finally broke and she is back to eating but the cough is still there as per normal for Molly.  We will watch her to make sure she recovers completely. 

The sun has been shining brightly here for awhile but the temperatures still are cold, if interested in our weather you can go to http://text.www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/forecast/city_e.html?nu-15&unit=m  I did notice that the sun is so much brighter here and to go outside without sunglasses on is hard on the eyes.  Maybe it is because of the reflection on the snow? 

Since it was so sunny we headed to find some Arctic foxes and hares on Sunday.  We only found one fox and one hare but it was enough for me to get some pictures.  I wasn't too sure if the hare was a hare at first because they blend in so well in the snow.  When crunched down they look like a large rock covered in snow.   I had my 500mm out and got a few shots before he ran away.

Below are some pictures of our dinner, some of my co-workers during the harvest and of the fox and hare.

Talk soon!

Kate & Gary, our generous hostess & host for dinner
Starting from bottom left: Terry, Zigbert, Ryan, Kim, Dave, Me, Craig and Darryl.
Peter, abattoir manager, looking very serious
Brian, Dr. Kaz, Alex; all from Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Brian and Alex, the two inspectors
Cassandra, my co-worker, modeling our whites
Helping bring in the musk ox (yes that is Craig second from the right)
Some of my co-workers
Qamutiks on the ice
He was sure wondering what I was up to
Enjoying the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon
Very playful Arctic fox;  sliding down a small snow drift.
From a distance this hare looked like a snow covered rock.
Hello there!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Working for a Livin'

What a week I had working at Kitikmeot Foods.  I started off the week working in the office and then in the end I was working in the abattoir.  My jobs this week consisted of helping Monique with her filing, trimming off the meat from the bones in the meat plant to doing the final trimming at the abattoir and back to the meat plant to tie the meat before going into the freezer. 

Annie, a co-worker of mine is a little power horse doing whatever is needed to get the job done.  I have learnt alot from Annie this week of how the plant works to her life living in Cambridge Bay.  She is an interesting and very fun loving person with a laugh or smile on her face at all times.  Annie and other co-workers have tried to get me to eat the musk ox meat; raw, dried and frozen but I have passed everytime.  Maybe one day I will try it but for now I will say 'quana' or thanks but no thanks. I will miss working with her this week as she is off to Yellowknife with her husband. 

Monique runs the meat plant and abattoir like a well oiled machine.  She organizes the hunters and makes sure their snow machines are filled with gas, oil checked, etc.  If anyone needs something done she is their go to woman.  She arranges meals for the staff at the abattoir and the hunters.  She not only over looks after the operation side of things but she also does the administrative jobs.  I have no idea how she does what she does but she does it.

I have met some great people working at Kitikmeot Foods and have learnt alot from everyone.  There is one more week left for the harvest and I am looking forward to helping out where ever needed. 

The pictures today are of Kitikmeot Foods and some of the workers.

Talk soon!
Myself and my trimming partner Annie
Part of the abattoir
Annie, one of my co-workers
This is where I work at the meat plant - very clean environment
This is where the meat first comes into the plant from the abattoir
Doris and Ray
David one of the hunters taking a break
A hunter with the day's catch

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Musk Ox Harvest 2011

I know, I know I promised you all a post yesterday but I was having a lot of trouble with the blog/internet.  It would not allow me to post some pictures but I found a way around it tonight so I here is goes.

It was a busy day here yesterday, I started a new job helping out with the musk ox harvest.  Our friend Monique is the manger of the meat plant here in town and she offered me a job.  The plant is called Kitikmeot Foods Ltd. and she is in charge of the harvest of musk ox and Arctic char in the summer.  Both meats are federally inspected and are shipped all over North America.  The harvest is only for a couple more weeks, the weather here has been stormy so the hunters can not get out onto the land, they are all hoping that the weather calms down tomorrow.  Sunday and yesterday I was helping in the office as her year end is around the corner and she needed some help organizing files.  Today both Craig and I helped out in the process area and after we suited up we were ready to work.  I think Craig was a little green around the gills when he first walked in but by the end of the morning he was trimming meat off the bones.  She hired both Craig and I and wanted Craig to help out as a driver but because there has been no harvest she asked him if he would like to work in the plant today.  Stephan, Monique's right hand man showed us the ropes today and answered any questions we may of had.  There were 9 of us today working with the meat and I asked Monique if I can bring my camera to the plant and she said yes so hopefully I will get some pictures tomorrow.  If you ever have the privilege of eating musk ox (I would suggest the French rack) from Kitikmeot Food I may have been the person that packaged the meat. 

Oh yeah...musk ox + dogs eating it = very smelly farts!  Just thought I'd share. haha

Before we left for our trip last month we had ordered a new fridge and dishwasher as the ones that come to the house were not energy efficient.  We had to order and have it delivered before March 31/11 to be eligible for a rebate from the Nunavut Government, we just may see half of our money back...well worth it. 

We had a few boxes that we needed to ship from Manitoba and we received our first 9 yesterday and 4 today, we are just waiting for two more shipments.  It felt like Christmas here these past couple of days, between the new appliances and our boxes arriving, even though the items in the boxes are some of our belongings that we had left at my mom's.

There was a blizzard warning here for today, it was windy mind you but no blizzard formed.  The temperatures have been hovering around the -40'c with the wind, boy do I miss Florida.  The sun is suppose to shine here for the rest of the week and even though it is cold when the sun beats down on your exposed skin it feels warm and good.

There is just a couple of pictures today of our new appliances, nothing too exciting for my readers but very exciting for us.

Talk soon!

Our new fridge and dishwasher
Now we just have to fill it