Monday, March 28, 2011

Inuvik try No. 2

On Friday Ian and I are hopping on a plane to Inuvik for our second attempt to visit our friend Kira.
When we last tried to visit, our plane was turned around because of a lack of visibility and a widespread power outage in the Beaufort Delta.
This weekend the weather looks like it's going to hold up for us, so we have our fingers crossed that we'll actually land in the village of about 3,500.
I'm especially excited about the trip because it's the Muskrat Jamboree this weekend.
The jamboree is a three day event that is held every year to celebrate the coming of spring.
There will be drum dances, muskrat skinning and a bunch of other traditional activities.
When I was thinking about coming to the North, these were the types of events that I was hoping to experience. I really wanted the chance to immerse myself in traditional Northern culture. I wanted to get to know the people. I wanted to hear their stories and learn from their experiences.
Sadly, living in Yellowknife, rather than in one of the smaller Northern communities in the territory, I don't get to partake in many traditional events or activities.
I've discovered that Yellowknife really isn't a good representation of the North. It's actually more like a city from Northern Alberta.
My first experience in a Northern community was actually a week ago.
I went to Behcheko, a village of about 2,000 people, for the Canadian Men's Hand Games Competition. Hand games are based on hiding objects and guessing where they are using elaborate hand signals and gestures.
While I was in the village, I had the rare experience of being a minority. I was one of maybe a dozen Caucasian people in the building, surrounded by hundreds of aboriginal people who had traveled from around the territory to be at the event. It was really refreshing, although at first I did feel a bit like I was trespassing -- walking into a world that didn't belong to me.
That feeling was quickly squashed though when a few men from the Dettah hand game team took it upon themselves to explain the rules of the game to my friends and me. They were exceptionally patient and understanding that the games were foreign to us and were open to answering any questions that popped into our heads.
It was a fantastic experience. I was enthralled by the beating of the drums and the enthusiastic hand gestures from elders, adults and teenage males on the hand game teams.
I was also really appreciative of the hospitality of the people.
I hope that I will have a similar experience at the Muskrat Jamboree this weekend. I'll be sure to take a bunch of pictures to share.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring it on

Did you know, the less snow that falls, the less mosquitoes there'll be in the summer?

Or at least that's the case in Yellowknife, according to my friend who was born and raised here.

I've been thinking a lot about summer lately, especially since my trip to Vancouver a couple of weeks ago for my dad's birthday.

It was 7 C out and the flowers were coming up, the streets were clear of snow and smelled of fresh rain.

Spring had definitely sprung.

Yellowknife is finally catching up. This week, we reached the positives for the first time in five months. I was so excited when I saw the forecast that I literally did a happy dance.

Today, I even wore a skirt and tights without long johns! I also managed to wear my denim trench coat instead of my parka.

This beautiful almost-spring weather has me longing for the 24-hour sunlight that everyone keeps talking about. I can't imagine what it will be like to go to bed when the sun is still shining as if it's 3 p.m., but I'm excited to experience it.

I wonder if I'll need less sleep.

I'm also curious how people keep track of time when there's no darkness.

But anyway, back to the mosquitoes. When my roommate moved back down south a few weeks ago, she left me three cans of OFF! bug spray, which she said I'd need a lot more than her.

Apparently the pesky little blood suckers aren't only plentiful in the summer, they're also about three times the size of the ones we get down south.

I didn't realize this was what I was getting myself into by accepting a job up here.

Well, I guess my dad did tell me that he wouldn't visit until late August because that's when mosquito season is over. But I thought he was only kidding.

I guess this just means I'll have to use OFF! as perfume for a few months. I figure everyone is going to smell equally as bad, so it's not like I'll be called out for being gross.

My friend, the one that told me the fun mosquito fact I mentioned earlier, said there is actually natural bug spray that smells a little better.

It's citronella scented, so instead of smelling like chemicals, I'll smell like a camping candle.

I think that might just do the trick.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The glove brings light

You may recall my post talking about salvaging at the Yellowknife dump. And if you do, you might also remember that I found a Nintendo Power Glove while I was there with Kira a couple of months ago. Now, if you remember that, you might also recall that I had high hopes that Ian would turn my treasure into a lamp, like he had done for himself with a trophy fish he was given by a couple of his friends. Well, the day has finally come. I am now the proud owner of one of Ian's illuminating masterpieces. And without further ado, I present to you the Power Glove lamp:

The blue 'arm' even bends so I can direct the light wherever I want it. The red thing is an enormous clamp that will hook on to whatever I please. Pretty neat, right!? I found this little beauty waiting for me when I came home from housesitting on Saturday, and I immediately started laughing. It's just so very Ian.

Just like the head he made me...

Isn't he crafty!? The horns are made out of the legs from a doll and the tongue used to be the tentacle off a monster squid that Ian found at the dump. I wear the sunglasses from time to time, so he gets different ones every once and awhile. I figure, depending on the season, I'll change his style with a new accessory.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ModCloth, my saviour

I started this blog in January with a post titled "Parka blues."
I was writing about the fact that I'm so sick of putting on the same parka every day.
Like I say in the post, I've never been a fashionista, but lately, because of my parka blues, I've started caring a little more about the outfits that lie beneath my green marshmallow-resembling parka.
Enter ModCloth.
I had looked at the 'Mod Retro Indie Clothing and Vintage Clothes' website many times before moving to Yellowknife, but never thought I could pull off the looks.
That was until I got to Yellowknife where the places to shop for clothes are limited to Reitmans, Bootlegger, Jean Warehouse, Mark's Work Wearhouse and Walmart.
Don't get me wrong, Reitmans is great when I need work clothes, Mark's is awesome when I want long johns and Jean Warehouse can sometimes have surprisingly nice clothes, it's just that I long for a little - actually, a lot - more variety.
And ModCloth has been my saviour. The site has spiced up my wardrobe with colourful dresses, skirts, tights and scarves that I wouldn't find in Yellowknife.
I'm writing this post today having just received a box full of new gems to hang in my closet.
I picked it up at lunch time and had to wait until the end of the day to finally come home and model my new outfits in front of the mirror.
And now that I've done it, I'm happy to report that my bright blue tights, River of Gold Skirt, Oh What a Paisley It Was Scarf, Dappled and Darling Dress and In the Musée d'Orsay Dress all fit beautifully.
The lot was also reasonably priced, coming in at $110 including shipping!
Yay for deals and new clothes!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The condensed 30 photo challenge

A little while ago, my friend posted the 30 photo challenge on her blog, which she saw on Sometimes Sweet and I have decided I'll give it a go. But I don't think anyone will want to stick around for 30 photos, so I'm picking and choosing to cut it down to 10.

1. A picture of you:
Me in Vancouver last weekend. Boy do I miss my spring coat.

2. A random picture of you and your significant other:
My mom sent me my parrot hat as part of a care package. Ian's beard head, on the other hand, is something that he wears quite frequently. He's weird like that. :)

3. A picture of your siblings:
Kathy and Dirk at Kathy's wedding last summer.

4. A picture of someone you miss:
My beautiful and talented friend Kira.
(I'm hopefully going to see her in Inuvik on April 1!!!)

5. A picture of something that makes you happy:
This picture also includes three ladies I miss greatly!I can't help but laugh when I see this picture.
It was taken at Boom for Thursday night karaoke -- a tradition in Fredericton.
We're singing Bitch by Meredith Brooks.
Jen, left, told me at the start of the night that if we were to drink enough, we had to get on stage and sing. Well, it hadn't been more than 30 minutes before she had us signed up.
That's what happens when you sell $7 triples.

6. A class photo:
The caption says it all. I have to say, a lot of the people in this picture could easily fall under the category of people I miss.

7. A photo from a great night:On the night of the solstice eclipse, a bunch of us drove out on the ice road to Dettah to get the best view with the least amount of light pollution.
It was a magical night. We had the eclipse on one side and Northern lights on the other.
And we were standing in the middle of Great Slave Lake!

8. A picture of someone you always have a good time with:
Marika! Another beautiful woman I miss having around.

9. A picture from last summer:
While driving to the Bay of Fundy for a weekend of camping, we got lost and passed Animaland about four times, so finally, we decided to stop.
It's condemned now, so we had to climb under the fence, which made it all the more fun.

10. A photo of an accomplishment:
We graduated with our MASTER'S!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Photo adventures in Vancouver

As you can gather from my last two posts, I spent the weekend in Vancouver with the family.
It was my dad's 75th birthday on March 1, so we figured we better get together for a shindig.
Here's the birthday boy sporting a special hat my mom brought for the occasion:

The trip was a great success. We had a couple of delicious dinners, not to mention a fantastic breakfast at the Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe -- a pannekoeken (Dutch pancake) house started by one of my dad's childhood friends from Holland. Check out the stereotypical Dutch decorations:

Aside from eating, we also took a trip to the Bloedel Conservatory, a dome that houses tropical plants and birds. It was gorgeous and gave me the opportunity to test out my new found photography skills. Check it out:

I think this is probably the best picture I took the entire weekend. Anyone know what kind of bird that is?

This photo's pretty too.
(I took about 200 photos while we were there, so picking two took a lot of restraint.)
The conservatory is such a gorgeous place. I definitely recommend everyone check it out the next time they're in Vancouver. It's humid though, so be prepared to have big hair when you leave!

After the conservatory, we went outside and took some pictures of the beautiful view of Vancouver. There was also a really cool bronze sculpture of tourists having their picture taken...

This is the photographer.

And these are the people he's taking a picture of. I gather the dog's not always around.

We finished the day off with a trip to Granville Island. I already talked a bit about that adventure in my last post because that's where I took my first paparazzi-esque photo.
But aside from exploiting celebrities and their children, I also listened to a busker sing Buffalo Soldier -- so good! -- and took some photos of the vibrant fresh fruit and vegetables.


Seeing delicious produce like this made me miss living down south.
One of my favourite places in Fredericton was the Boyce Farmers' Market.
I find markets to be such a great way to buy groceries. You get to know your food providers and where your food is coming from.
I'm thinking the solution to my desire for fresh, locally grown produce might be joining the Yellowknife Community Garden Cooperative in the spring -- that way not only will I know where my food's coming from, I'll also get some exercise and meet some new people.
Sounds like a plan to me!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spotted: Katie Holmes and Suri

As I was walking out of the Kids Market on Granville Island in Vancouver Saturday, I watched two men run toward me with big cameras. The next thing I knew, they had planted their feet right next to me, raised their cameras and started snapping shots of something directly in front of where I was standing.
So, I turned, looked and saw Katie Holmes walking with her daughter Suri.
Now if you don't know, Katie Holmes is an actress who played in a show called Dawson's Creek in the 90s. Although she's been in movies since, that will forever be how I remember her. She's also married to and has a four-year-old daughter with Tom Cruise, which is really too bad.
Anyway, when I spotted her, I excitedly said under my breath, "Kathy! It's Katie Holmes!" to my sister who was wandering around the island with me.
"What?" she said in response, forcing me to repeat it three times.
While getting frustrated because Kathy just wasn't picking up what I was putting down, I took the time to raise my own camera and snap this shot:

Does that make me a member of the paparazzi?
If not, I'm pretty sure this next tidbit might.

Since it took my sister so long to figure out what I was saying, she really didn't get the time to see Katie and Suri, so she made her husband and me go back into the Kids Market, from which we just came, just to stand near them.
"I've never been this close to a celebrity before," said my excited sister.
So, inside we went. To the right of the door, there is a store front, where Katie and Suri stopped to look at a display of toys.
While we stood there, I thought I might as well try to snap another shot of the mother-daughter duo. But this time I wasn't quite as lucky. As I lifted my camera to my face, Holmes' bodyguard turned around and said something along the lines of, "I'm going to have to ask you to stop that," in a gruff voice.
On that note, we vacated the toy store and left them to their shopping.

If you want to see what the real paparazzi shots look like, here's the link.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Homeward bound

The last few weeks, the hours have been really dragging and the cold has finally started to wear me down.
Although the days have grown longer and the sun has been shining, every day when I put on my parka, take it off and put it back on again a thousand times, I find myself thinking of Vancouver where the temperatures are currently in the positives.
Of course it's raining, but being a Islander, I'm used to that and always have an umbrella on hand.
It's funny, I know that Yellowknife is awesome. I know that my life is fun and adventure-filled, but lately there is something calling me home.
So... I'm gonna to listen to whoever's calling and head to Vancouver for the weekend, for my first trip out of the territory since arriving on Oct. 1, and I'm pumped!
I'll be meeting my parents, sister and brother-in-law at the airport Friday afternoon and then that evening, we'll be uniting with my brother, who lives in the Vancouver-area, in celebration of my dad's 75th birthday, which is today! (Happy Birthday DADDDDD!!)
I'm so excited!
I can't wait to walk around in a light fall jacket. I'm equally as stoked to leave my long johns hanging in the closet.
I think a three day break from the cold, from excessive layers and from snow packed streets is exactly what I need to prepare myself for another few months of winter.
I think it will also rejuvenate my mind, body and soul.
It will be so good to be a family unit again. It's been five years since all six of us have been together at the same time.
It would only have been nine months had I made it to my sister's wedding in May, but sadly I had just relocated to New Brunswick when she tied the knot.
It's definitely a long overdue visit, especially since I haven't seen my brother since Christmas of 2009!!
Our plans haven't been finalized yet, but we're thinking of hitting the aquarium, which is going to be a great opportunity for me to test out my new photography skills.
I hope we'll also make our way down to Granville Island -- my favourite place in Vancouver.
Just thinking about the visit has me bouncing with excitement.
I'll post pictures when I'm back, but for now, here's a family picture from my sister's wedding. You'll notice I'm there in the form of a cardboard cut out -- door and all.