Monday, December 27, 2010

Many kinds of love

This is the apple of my eye - my travelling companion, my fellow explorer, my first and only car. We've camped, and done field work and been filled to the gills with plants and equipment and we've seen the mountains together. She has listened to my singing without complaining and taken me on snowy roads and clear ones. I don't care if people think I'm stupid - I love my Corolla anyways.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Eclipsed by the City

Now that I have unlimited superfast internet (relative to Qiniq), I find I'm not spending all that much time on the internet. Its been a good break. I have read a book, visited a few friends, had some great random conversations with people on planes, spent lots of time wandering around a grocery store with my mom and I even drove on Young Street and the 401 and the 407 as well as some backroads. My shopping has been mostly tea, coffee, spices, dried cranberries and grains (i.e. foods that I can't get easily in the north), so I'm passed the phase of northern living where the idea of shopping is drawing even with the excuse of Christmas to go crazy. Even a few times I've seen something that I liked, but decided not to bother buying it because I'd have to find a place for it.... not a bad thing really. I'm even doing a better job of getting rid of clothes that I've had since high school that I'm not wearing any more.

I didn't really intend to watch the eclipse, but I woke up randomly about 3 am or 4 am and decided to check it out since I was awake. Not the best pictures, but I really hadn't been thinking about it and I didn't have my remote for my camera - so not as crisp as possible and the moon was already past the full eclipse - still I'm glad I woke up.

The book I read was "The Windup Girl" - an interesting take at post apocalypse (non nuclear) civilization. It reminded me a lot of Neal Stevenson's "Snowcrash" maybe mixed with a bit of "Heroes." I really enjoyed it at any rate.

I saw a movie with my friend from TB - Tangled in 3D. It was the first 3D movie that I've ever seen and I expected that I'd have trouble with it because my eyes don't generally like 3D - it was pretty cool though and left me wishing that I'd seen Avatar in 3D. The premise was cute - although it reminded me a bit of every other Disney movie with a princess - there was a lot of Ariel in that girl for certain. The evil woman was definitely a nice study in psychology.

Finally, my niece was born healthy and cute so I'm now an Auntie^4..... I'm sad that the holiday is passing by so fast and I've not spent enough time with anyone. That seems to be the way of Christmas.

Cheers... hopefully some niece and nephew pictures to come in the next few days....

Happy Holidays!!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The View From the Other Side of the Iglu

I mean the title both literally (I'm taking a picture from the northeast side of the Iglu Church instead of the northwest side) - so you are looking at a sunset instead of a sunrise. Today turned out to be a much more cultural day than I expected. I got to go outside!!!! and it was beautiful out. I got to watch an excellent movie about drum dancing. I'm feeling the weight of a cold that is trying to beat out my immune system - I think I'm winning, but I have about enough energy to curl up and nap or semi-nap. On the up side - the Leaf's are winning!!!

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Northern Lights Tonight???? Finger's Crossed.

I am still waiting for the solar wind from a coronal hole to hit Baker Lake on a night with clear skies and preferrably with windchill conditions that don't put me at risk of frostbite, but for the northern lights, I will still venture forth. This is one last one from the other night where I basically got set up just in time for the lights to subside. THey aren't super bright, but you can see the overlapping wave structure.

The wind speed has started to trend upwards this morning. I'm hoping it'll peak sometime after 3 pm when its dark. Even now near noon on a clear day, the sun is low in the sky and its seems semi-twillightish rather than bright. Two birds are dancing in the distance - likely Ravens, although they seem to be too fast and graceful for that, I can't think of anything else I could see that would be out in this weather.

Its been a fairly quiet weekend, which is a good thing because I'm pretty sure that the limited sunlight is messing with my energy levels and I needed an evening to putter and mark and watch the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens!! Here is hoping that they will do the same to the next 3 Canadian teams they play: Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Leaving Well Enough Alone

Its true in both live and art. Sometimes you should quit while you are ahead. Sadly, in this case I didn't, and while I think I can say I learned alot in the process - I lost some good bits that I liked too. I guess I'll have to try again and see what attempt 3 brings.
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Adventures in Milk Buying

So it's Friday night and I'm out of milk, which normally wouldn't bother me much save that I have a still new magic bullet blender and not a lot in my fridge except a bag of frozen berries and about zero motivation to actually cook something out from cans and carrots and frozen cauliflower. I'm not especially keen to leave my apartment - its still -43 C with the wind chill, so I finally decide I'll try the Co-op, since its so close (literally across the parking lot from my place). Do they have milk? Sort of - they have 1 L plastic containers of milk - but they expire on Dec 12 - even with being excited about a blender I'm not going to use up a litre of milk in 2 days. They did have ladies night though and it was packed with people and lots of gifts and toys and stuff.

So, sigh, its another 500 m down the road to the Northern.... but I did say it was "Adventures in Milk Buying". I arrive at the Northern knowing full well that it is rare that they are out of milk - but no... they are closed until 8 pm. At this point my choices are wait 20 minutes, or hike up to the FCF and hope that they have milk. The FCF is a local corner store. I figure it will take about 20 minutes to walk there and back, with no guarantee of milk - so I wait - and some other people arrive to wait with which is cool....

Okay, so far not exactly an adventure - but one of the managers comes out to tell us that its "Teen Night" and no one under the age of 20 is going to be admitted to the store. "But I'm under twenty" I ventured, but the manager wasn't buying as he rolled his eyes at me. "I spend the entire day with teenagers, they must have rubbed off on me somewhat?" I offer tentatively. Still no deal. "I just want milk" I beg, "and they don't have any at the Co-op." Finally, I negotiate a brief reprieve - I have a few minutes to race in and procure my milk and bananas and race out before the teen aged hoards arrive. Whew!!!

So, here is my final product - and it was worth all the walking, waiting and negotiating as it doesn't expire until Dec. 21st.

Food-wise I'm in an awkward spot - as I don't know if I have food-mail coming. I put in an order earlier this week, that didn't arrive Wednesday. I haven't heard that they've sent it today, so I'm not sure what will happen. I may have food or I might not. Its hard to know whether to buy groceries at the store tomorrow. I guess I'll just have to wait and see... Such is living in the north - just have to roll with whatever happens.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Smoke Signals

Here is another shot of a lovely Baker Lake Sunrise highlighting the smoke from the elementry schools furnace (its oil fired - so this is not a bad or unusual thing) We finally have had a spate of clear weather and I've seen the northern lights on 3 occasions although I've only managed to photograph twice and both times the results were medicore at best. I'm hoping tonight will have some good opportunities.

I've just hear the coffee maker make the final chugging sounds indicating that if I want some coffee (Tim Horton's this morning) than all I have to do is go get some... so... back in a sec.

The Christmas Concert last night was a great show of students creativity. The Junior high students were enthusiastic and looked like they were having a great time. The MC team managed an amusing banter of knock knock and other jokes - some of which took advatantage of interplay between Inuktitut and English. My favourite knock knock joke went like this....

A: Knock knock
J: Who's there?
A: Centipede
J: Centipede who?
A: Centipede on the Christmas tree...


Anywho - hopefully my next post or so -I'll have some real pictures of the aurora borealis - have a wonderful Friday.
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Green Light Green Light

Oops... out of time to post - but here is the only other semi decent picture from last night... I'll have to keep working on it - hopefully this next day or so will bring opportunities
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lights at Last

They faded before I could get my camera really set up - but here are a few tastes of the Aurora
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Fighting the Good Fight for Prevention of Friday Night Dish Mountains

I did dishes this morning. This may not exactly sound exciting, but it should mean that Friday night I'll only have a few dishes - more than you'd expect with a clean looking kitchen as of Wednesday morning, but I figure I'm going to try a few short dish washing episodes rather than face an epic task at the end of the week. Part of the motivation for frequent small dishwashing jaunts is that I recieved my Magic Bullet this morning. Woot!!! I really like smoothies because they are a healthy and easy way to get low fat dairy and fresh fruit into myself in the morning. I've been using a Braun hand blender with a smoothie attachment for a number of years, but the plastic housing on blade in the smoothie maker has been cracked for years and the dark shadow in the crack (largely due to berry stain) just makes me worry about what bacteria are living in there too. So, when a good opportunity came along to replace it I did since it is a kitchen device I used to use weekly. I was nervous because I don't like ordering from as seen on TV ads, but it came highly recommend by at least 2 collegues and it has been on the market for years. Its made in China and after the series of scandels about toxic materials used in Chinese made toys, dogfood, baby food, medicine..... I'm hoping that the Magic Bullet people do serious quality control.

So far I'm impressed. It seems very thoughtfully designed and its much better at making smoothies that my Braun was. The instructrion manual was easy to read, clear and has a couple of great sounding recipes obviously not made in China known for producing some pretty weird sets of instructions. Its easy to clean and being able to drink out of the container that the food is made in definitely reduces the number of icky smoothie dishes. The quality of the workmanships and materials seems pretty decent - it has a pretty solid look and it it seems to work really well. So, I'm crossing my fingers I stay impressed. In the mean time, its been nice to be able to make smoothies again. It also has a juicer attachment, so I might try my hand at fresh carrot juice. My dad used to make it when were little. I can't remember if I ever tried it, but it sounds like its worth a try. Can you tell there is no movie theatre here since I'm enthused about making carrot juice?

I did finially see the northern lights. It was just after sunset and the western sky was still tinged pinky-purple, but there they were a nice arch right accross the sky. I didn't have my camera at the time (I'd just dropped it off to run down to the post office) By the time I got home, with greatly appreciated help from a friend with a very nice ride.) the sky was already quiet. But there is a coronol hole and elevated solar wind expected for this Friday, so I still hope to get a few more nice pictures before the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bluebery Hill Winter Sunset

Brrrrrrrr........... and no the northern lights arn't currenlty out. :(
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Boat Going Nowhere

Winter has had its icy grip firmy on Baker Lake for a while (until Iqaluit), however this is the first week where the cold has reached a point where it can quickly become dangerous. It is expected that the windchill should hit -50C this week with strong winds and temperatures in the -30 C to -36 C range. Even -42 C with the windchill is flesh freezingly cold. I may need to cave and where the real parka this week.

Its the kind of weather that sucks any desire to go outdoors out of me - I don't mind subzero temperatures, but once it hits the kind of cold that requires me to wander around without my glasses in a coat that severely limits my field of view - then I limit my time outdoors to necessary trips. So, obviously with the lake frozen until mid-July, this boat is bound to stay put, while I'm not going anywhere very far until it gets a bit warmer. This is the main reason I don't own a dog. The only type of dog that I would consider owning is a Malamute or maybe a Husky - but both need exercise which I'm not keen to be needing to provide in -42 C with the windchill. Couple that problem with the cost and stress of trying to transport animals by plane and the minimal access to vetrinary services... its just not even worth considering. Still on a calm day, it can be still nice even at -25 C, but calm days are rare in Baker Lake. The upside of all this cold is that its finally brought some consistant sunshine. Yeah for clear skys... now all I need is some northern lights to convince me to spend times in the freezing outdoors.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Trees in the mist

I think one of the few things I truly miss in the arctic are trees. Growing up in a part of the world where trees put on the kind of show in the fall that you'd never forget your lifetime through, having enjoyed it only once.   The cool respite from the humidity and heat in the summer another gift of the shade provided by these stoic giants of the plant kingdom. Its also the sound of leaves rustling - if you listen long enough you become sensitive to their warnings of coming rain storms.  In the fall the smell of leaves decaying - the musty muzzy forest smell with a sweet tang of recycling and life - is uplifting and comforting, even in drifts of dead leaves and dying plants grasping the last rays of sun to store in their roots for the winter - readying for the short burst of warmth and light only found in the spring before the trees leaf out again. Maybe its the multidimensional layers of life with aerobatic squirrels chattering at anything in field of view and birds singing a melody to counterpoint the hush of the wind and the purcussive sounds of branches rubbing or smacking against each other in a stiffer breeze.

 I don't want to downplay the charms of the arctic - the wind here has a song that has a minor key intensity as it howls ferociously over the hissing of snow grains blowing over drifts and grinding against the siding on buildings. There is the deep hum of skidoo engines and the high squeak to low crunch of snow (temperature depending) and the entertaining if somewhat tone death croaking of Ravens and the clicking of caribou ligaments. I miss these things too when I'm not here. Still quite a few of those memorable moments where I felt truly connected to life and the world, I've usually found myself either walking through the woods or sitting on a cliff admiring the pattern of colours in the trees below or occasionally watching the sunset from the windswept grasses of the tundra or admiring the tiny plants huddled on the lea side of a hummock. I guess you can love both and still miss trees independently especially their graceful silhouettes in the slowly rising morning fog.
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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Crisscrossed Sunset

It feels later, much later in fact, than it is. Still, I'm smiling after a refreshing win by the Toronto Maple Leafs. I feel like it should be midnight though - I think the light (or dearth of it) is really starting to mess with my head - that or spending the day in an interior windowless room. Sadly, its only 3 hours from Sunday and I still have lots I want to get done for Monday.

I got a new game called Equillibrio - its a building with blocks kind of game - I think aimed at structural engineers - I might have to try it out tonight - its not officially on the to do list. (after a quick break from writing to open the box and give it a bit of a test) I like it. I'm sure it'll be different with some competition, but it also seems to be a game that can be played with only one player. I think it would be nicer if it was made of wood and the blocks were more than one colour - but maybe that is just nostalgia for the wooden blocks of my childhood. The forestry student in me still feels that all children should have at least a few wooden toys and you really can't beat colourful wooden blocks.

Obviously my ramblings about the time, the Leafs, board games and wooden toys is straight proof that I really have nothing to write about tonight. Maybe tomorrow I'll have something more substantial floating around my brain to share.

Have a good evening.


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Friday, December 03, 2010

Crescent Crescendo

Well the 2nd last full week of 2010 has waxed to a crescent (kind of like the moon above) ending with an exciting Basketball tournament. I'm finding the speed that time is flying breath-taking. Last weekend seems really like yesterday, although I'm fighting some kind of bug and I haven't had the jump I would have liked this week, still I managed to hang in.

The excitement for this evening is a clean kitchen. I have put off the dishes longer than usual this week and it seemed an insurmentable task, but I have sucessfully whittled it down and wiped down the counters. Its good that its done now, since the couch and a blanket are looking mighty tempting presently and a warm cup of Acai Berry Tea sounds nice.


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Sunset Infrastructure Silhouettes

There are words in this world I simply cannot spell - even when I've tried to learn them: Brocalli, Counsellor, Bouyancy, Ingredients, Input (okay the last two I only sometimes misspell), and I garuntee you that there are many more. This is a great annoyance to me - as I occassionally, even with advances in technology need to write stuff by hand, sometimes on a wipeboard with a live audience - who frequently distract me from the task of spelling at my best. Its not that its really been a problem, it just seems like something you should be able to memorize (and I'm working on brocolli and buoyancy), but after many years I still haven't mastered concillor.

I suppose I should just be lucky to live during the computers with spelling (and grammar (formally spelt grammer)) checkers, which save me from my spelling most of the time.

As for the picture, I was impressed by the major straping keeping the stack upright - even on windy days.... can you guess which direction the prevailing wind comes from?
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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Nice Ice and never shop when hungry

Hmmmm. This is a picture from a couple of days of a piece of ice attached to a sno drift catching the light of the sunset. Elevated winds left the background sort of soft and fuzzy and the day too cold for a long time outside taking pictures.

As for the second part of the title, I'm totally guilty of wandering through the store right after school when I was ravenous... thus somehow unhealthy non-food items (namely tin of chips) ended up in my grocery basket. I wouldn't normally buy chips, I don't particularly like them, but they seemed irasistable in light of my hunger. All I really needed was Q-tips, for which I coughed up $8.29, everything else was a result of being surrounded by food when hungry. As for the Q-tips, I'm officially declaring their price an act of highway (or high arctic) robbery. That said, my ears appreciate being clean.

Kettle says "make tea and get back to marking!"


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Canmore Sunsets and sound of coffee

Well.. we've made it to the halfway mark (nearly) of the week. This was the last picture I painted this weekend and while its not going to win any awards, I'm excited that I've started to remember how to paint again. Last year I think I maybe painted 7 or 8 pictures (and that might be the last two years) and of them maybe 3 or 4 of them were not embarrassing. Watercolours can quickly take a turn for the worse resulting in blurry muddy messes. My step-grandfather could look at a photo and paint something that was a very good representation in watercolours. This is a skill that is utterly beyond me as even in pencils and pencil crayons I have a hard time drawing something that represents what I see - in particular making 3-D representations usually go poorly for me.

That said, of all the awards I ever got in school, I think I'm most proud (and shocked) that I tied for the art award in Gr. 8. I can't remember what we did in art in Gr. 8 - although I did some work that I was pretty proud of in Gr. 7. (In grade 7, I had Ms. Jaakkimainen who was easily the best teacher I've ever had and a fantastic artist and bought us real brushes and inks for doing print making. I assume that Gr. 8, Mrs. Johnson taught us art, but its been a long time to remember anything short of Ms. Jaakkimainen class.) Still, regardless of limits on my ability, my philosophy of art is that as long as you enjoy yourself then you are successful and that the only way to get better is to practice. For me, painting or drawing completely focuses me and always afterwards I feel more relaxed even if I end up with something ugly. Its part therapy, part brain workout and currently making up for a shortage of photo taking opportunities.

This sunset was taken after an already magical night of seeing the musical ride and some excellent drum dancing by the local Stony Cree Group in Banff. As an added bonus, we were able to watch to choppers dumping water to fight a fire on one of the mountains. The fires were probably the source of ash that led to the amazing sunset we saw as we were driving from the Three Sisters Exit into Canmore - filling the valley with a soft orange glow. I'm so glad we stopped to get out and take pictures although even the pictures don't really capture the full magnitude of the beauty. I'll post the photo above.