Friday, August 31, 2012

Around Town...

Come. Put on your jacket and your boots. Don't forget your bug hat!
Take a walk with us...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Winter is coming...


To borrow a phrase from Game of Thrones, "winter is coming." Summer is definitely over, and we are now in the midst of autumn, with cold, dark nights (the way they should be) and noticeably cooler weather during the day. The mosquitoes are gone, but the flies are ever-present, though we should be saying a welcome goodbye to those annoying creatures in a few weeks. Back in Ontario during the winter, I would often not bother putting on a jacket if I was taking out the trash, it being a short walk down the driveway. Not so here - I'm told we need full parka and gear to go from the house to the car. I'm actually looking forward to seeing what winter has in store for us. The coldest I've ever experienced before was 35 below, up on Lake Temagami back in '91. I don't imagine 70 below is twice as bad, because -35 sucked. A lot. I think it's just going to be further along the 'suck' scale, but maybe Mother Nature reads blogs and will make me eat my words - I'll let you know in 4 months if I was right.  With 9 months of winter, I've got a lot of time to figure it out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making a Difference

This week has been a doozy, so I am breaking it up into two posts. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights we've enjoyed in the last seven days. 

Any time we receive something in the mail, our eyes light up and big grins appear on our faces. Being so distant from family and friends is difficult to adjust to, and while phone calls and emails and Facebook help, it's the thoughtfulness of someone taking the time to sit down a write a letter or put something small but locally inaccessible into a box and mailing it that really makes us appreciate our family and friends. To wit, for those of you reading this (and by extension, those that should but aren't), here is your assigned homework: 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harris Meats and Groceries


We were recently introduced to Harris Meats & Groceries, a company based out of Winnipeg that flies in fresh and frozen foods to Nunavut a couple times a week. Depending on where your community is, the shipping charges vary – but the cost is also subsidized through the Nutrition North Program (healthier foods and necessities get charged very little in freight vs. processed/junk food). They have some things listed on their website, but you can also contact them and ask for anything you want and they will send a shopper out to get it (ie. I wanted "specialty" vegetables and they weren’t on the site, but they got them for me).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homesick

It really hit me hard yesterday how far away from home we are. It wasn't anything in particular; it actually came about when I started thinking about what everyone at home was doing at that moment in time. The more I thought about it, the more anxious I got. It was the first time since we got here that it hit me that we're really, really far away from our loved ones.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Keeping Active: Physically, Socially, Mentally!


One of the things that we thought we would miss while being up here was the opportunity/ability to go out and find entertainment at the drop of a hat. Be it a game of mini-putt, catching a movie, or even the simplicity of going to a pub for a drink – all things that would be nice, yes, but we haven’t found that we’re actually missing it (yet).

I think living in a community that is as small and “isolated” as we are, you need to have a certain disposition as to what kind of experience you want to have. If you’re going to be reclusive or wait for things to fall in your lap, you’re eventually going to fall into the “there’s nothing to do” group. You have to put yourself out there and ask around to see what’s happening! The more you talk to people, the more you learn about what’s going on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Work


How far would you go for your career? This was something that was really weighing on my mind when we were presented with this opportunity to go. For us, it was just less than 1,600 miles to make the move that after considering the pros and cons, made the most sense for us financially and as a stepping stone for future growth. For every hesitation we had, we kept circling back to the point that this is going to help us in the long run and we were doing it as a foundation step, not as the end of the road.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Farewell to Summer: in Haikus!


Goodbye to summer!
We barely got to see you;
a fleeting affair.

It’s been cold with rain.
The locals say summer’s gone -
at least the bugs left

I packed up my shorts,
tank tops and flow-y dresses.
Why’d I bring so much?

My husband is mad;
he could have sent up more books
in lieu of my clothes.

If he thought that’s bad,
don’t tell him about the shoes!
Our little secret.  ;)

Farewell, summer 2012 – it seems like we were just starting to enjoy you. With the move and finally settling in, it’s now time for you to go. It’s only August and we’re not ready to say goodbye yet!
Come back soon! We’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing you next year!


-L

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rationing


As homesick as we (ok, mainly me) have been, the sting of being so far away has really been lessened through regular texting (so glad I decided to get a cellphone – especially since we still don’t have a home phone, but that’s a whole other annoying story I won’t get into), emails and Skype. I think we’re actually talking more to our families now than before we left, and it’s been really great!

You’ll recall my post about internet pricing plans from when we were researching pre-move, that we only get 10GB of bandwidth a month. I honestly didn’t understand how little that was when I checked our account usage a few days ago and noticed that in the past two weeks we’ve used 82% of our cap. I was floored! How did that even happen? I feel as though we weren’t doing much…a few emails here, a couple of tweets there…I guess it all adds up! Coming off an 80GB cap in Ontario (that we never came close to reaching) to this has been an adjustment.

So we’ve decided to ration our internet usage. We’ll be watching it pretty closely for the rest of the month, and next month we’ll try to split it so we use no more than 5GB in the first half of the month, and see how we make out with that. We also turned off the wi-fi connections on the laptop and the iPad when they’re on and we’re not browsing, just in case we left an email program open or something like that. Every megabyte counts!

I suppose it’s not the end of the world if we go over the cap, they just bump us down to dial-up speeds (*SOB*) which is probably when I’ll cave and buy more bandwidth at a crazy price of $20/GB to bring us to the next month. If I was our internet provider I’d start offering gift certificates so people can gift extra bandwidth to others. When there’s no shopping, restaurants or entertainment, that’d be a great gift certificate idea! 

Oh technology, what would we do without you?

-L

Monday, August 20, 2012

Residents

After an extremely long wait, we finally got our home phone set up!!! It was originally supposed to be wired up and installed before we moved in at the end of July, but there was a lot of technical issues and no technicians to fly out to Baker Lake, so we were told it was going to be a while. Fast forward to Friday afternoon and here we are with a home phone!

Since moving here, we also learned that in super small communities, all the phone numbers have the same first three digits, and it's only the last four digits that are different. So when you're giving/getting a telephone number, you only say the last four numbers. At first I thought everyone was giving out work extensions, but no, that's the whole hamlet. You just go by last four digits and everyone knows what the rest is.

We were also lucky that in the first week we were here, they were doing a P.O. box clean up and there happened to be an empty one that they gave us right away. I know some co-workers who have been here for months and are still on a "waiting list" for a box. It's a good one too - right at eye level, not the ones at the very bottom like some people. Maybe it helps that we've been super friendly with the lady at the post office and she knows who I am when she sees me now!

Anyhoo, our new "official" Baker Lake address is:

P.O. Box 523
Baker Lake, NU
X0C 0A0

It feels incredibly real now that we are considered "permanent residents" so we have a box, and a home phone - and now we're in the process of getting our licenses and health cards.

I guess this really is turning into home.

-L

Friday, August 17, 2012

St. Paul Catholic Church


As there are no real social activities that we have been introduced to yet, one of the ways we thought we could expand our social network and create ties to the community, was to visit the local church. For a small hamlet, there are actually a few churches here, but the majority of them are “closed” unless it is for service on Sunday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

“Controlled” Liquor – Using the Term Loosely


One of the conveniences of living in Ontario, or most other areas of Canada, is that you could run to the liquor store or the beer store as easily as running to the closest gas station. Nunavut is a little different, because there are communities that are completely dry (no liquor is sold anywhere) or controlled (there is liquor for sale, but it is monitored by how much you are allowed to purchase, how often, etc.).

Baker Lake is a controlled community – something we knew before we came up. There are rules as to how much liquor, if any, you are allowed to transport across provincial/territory borders, and moving companies will typically say it is against their policies to ship it because of the border patrol and the risk of it causing damage on the planes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Let’s Go Fly a Kite


One of my favourite movies growing up (second only to Annie) was Mary Poppins, and one of my favourite parts from the film was the end where everyone goes to the park with their kites. I’ve always complained that I’m 30 years old and I’ve never flown a kite, so I know that it has been something that Jeff’s always been wanting to share with me. What I didn’t know was that he actually packed a small kite in his luggage in case a “kite emergency” came up; which is exactly what happened the first week we arrived in Baker Lake.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Careful What You Wish For


Apologies that this post is a day late, but our modem broke on Friday evening and we just got internet back up and running today.  After many promises, we want to finally talk about our trip up from Ontario to Nunavut, and how you really should be careful about what you wish for.

The last few days at home were a whirlwind of tears and goodbyes, a frantic all-night packing of our carry-on luggage and checked bags, and an emotional drop-off at the airport. All of that we anticipated and were bracing ourselves for. What we didn't plan on was the airport stresses of dealing with our incredibly large and heavy luggage, long lines and flight delays/cancellations.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Sorry honey, we can't afford asparagus" (and other things I never thought I'd say)

Note: An extremely long post on the cost of food/groceries.

With the rise in media attention in the months leading up to our move to Nunavut, we had an idea going into it that food was going to be expensive. We took the advice of many people and packed as much food as possible in addition to our things, and our new house is outfitted with an over-abundance of storage space which we are using to our full advantage.

There are two stores in town that sell groceries:
  1. the Co-Op is a newer store that is community-owned and seems to have a much better produce selection, but a smaller variety of all other items.
  2. the Northern is the original store that is bigger, has much more variety, and fresh meat - but the fruits and vegetables don't look great all the time
The two stores are side by side, and the Northern is typically much busier than the Co-Op. The Northern also has the Quick-Stop, which is the KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as the post office. We assume it's busier because people just want to make the one stop for convenience rather than going back and forth for price comparison. To give you an idea of the prices we are facing are, here is a breakdown of what we've been paying based on type of food:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More excrem...sorry, excitement!

I promise you, one of these days we'll actually tell you about our first week here, but the last few days have been so crazy you need to hear about them first. 

Two days ago as mentioned, we had the second half of our shipment show up and I spent all day unpacking and letting Lily (who is much better at organizing things) figure out where we would put it all when she got home from work. As Lily mentioned in her last post, we were out of water...and this issue continued for two straight days! I flagged down one of the sewage trucks (sewage and water trucks are indistinguishable except for the smell) and the driver told me the main water truck was broken...and the backup was also down for repair? This is fairly common I was told, which did not inspire much in the way of confidence. At least we got our sewage pumped. When I was talking to the driver outside, I was wearing shorts. Today I have many mosquito bites. Deet-based products are about as effective at repelling these bugs as air freshener, so I am going to use Febreze from now on, as it smells better. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

First Impressions/Thoughts: A List

  1. It's been quite warm and sunny here - there were days that were about 25 degrees! The coldest it's been was around 9 degrees, and that was on our first day when it was overcast and rainy. No humidity at all!
  2. The bugs here are ridiculous. They attack you the second you step outside and make you miserable for even thinking of leaving your house. Bug spray has been ineffective, and the bites they leave are big and angry looking. They're also jerks - I've had two bite me on the forehead. There's nothing to bite there!!!
  3. There is more traffic (ATVs, trucks, etc.) passing by our house here, than there was in Ontario. I was looking forward to peace and quiet and I hear a lot of gravel crunching, trucks backing up, and children playing at all hours of the night.
  4. The sun sets around 10:30pm and then it's a light-dark until about 4:00, so you can still see outside. It really messes with your system; especially when you hear the kids playing!
  5. There are a lot of dogs here; most of them are chained outside their houses all day and look really bored.
  6. The water and sewer trucks drive by constantly, but don't necessarily stop by your house on a set "schedule." We have been without water since yesterday morning, but thankfully, more of our stuff arrived so we had bottled water to use.
  7. Groceries are expensive, but you learn to get over that pretty quickly because you need to eat.
  8. It makes me sad/angry that once people are finished with their ATV or other toys, they just park it somewhere and walk away. The landscape is littered with abandoned vehicles. In the winter, they park their snowmobiles on the ice to let it melt and sink to the bottom. Grr!!
  9. It's amazing how a simple thing like having your own dish rack arrive, can make a house feel more like home. For the first week, it felt like we were vacationing at someone's cottage because nothing here was ours and we were scrimping like squatters. We still don't have all of our stuff, nor our furniture...but it's slowly been arriving.
  10. Even though we've literally been here a week, we find ourselves missing the strangest things. Things we wouldn't have wanted at home, but just because we can't have them - makes us want them.
Here's a picture of our lake that we took on the first day, just so you can see how beautiful our view is.
-L

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finally!



According to Genesis, God worked feverishly for six days to create the world, then rested on the seventh; we took a different approach. We've had a reasonably leisurely six days of touring the hamlet, setting up our Internet, and shopping for food, amongst other things. Yesterday was the complete opposite. The movers greeted Lily at 10am with half of our belongings, so we spent the morning and early afternoon unpacking boxes and filling shelves with food, closets with clothes, and drawers with everything from Tylenol to tequila. At 2:30 we drove to the airport to pick up the other HR manager (our next-door neighbour) and his family, then continued sorting and re-arranging until 10pm when we surrendered. Upstairs is mainly complete, while the main floor still resembles a college dorm/cardboard hoarder. Lots still to do but by this afternoon it should look a lot less cluttered. I never realized until today how little things really turned this house into something resembling our home. The dish rack, the rice cooker, and even my Despicable Me minion plush (thanks Omi & Kaitlyn!) make such a difference just on their own. 

It's hard to believe we have another 100+ boxes to come, and all of the furniture ordered for us. Lily's off to her first day of work today, and I'll be finishing the organization of the house. There's still lots to tell you about - shopping for food, taking Lily kite-flying for the first time, our horrible-but-in-the-end-great trip up, and I'm putting together a video of the town , so stay tuned for more shortly. 

As always, let us know if you like our blog, and suggestions and comments are welcome. 

-J

Monday, August 6, 2012

We made it!!

We just wanted to say hi to everyone and let you know we finally made it to Baker Lake. See below for a quick video introduction.
video

We love you and miss you all!
xoxo
-L and J