Monday, December 28, 2015

Cranberry Pudding Crash

The eggnog has arrived via the COOP and so we were able to celebrate the holidays. No eggnog, no Christmas… that was the rule. We distributed some to the elders in the hampers we made up and had some for a Christmas tea we hosted but the leftover cartons came to stay in our fridge. Ahhhh. Well, not to stay for too long. My roommate couldn't believe how much eggnog I could drink. "A big glass?" she asked, eyeing the tumbler I filled, as if there was a fluid allowance for eggnog consumption.  

I had been waging an ongoing battle with IT to reset the password on the NIC (nurse in charge) email account. For two days the local (as in Inuvik an hour flight away) tech with a thick African colonial accent, knocked himself out trying to solve the problem. The Yellowknife techs kept assuring him (and me) that the problem was resolved and it was not. Finally, the local tech provided a workaround in the form of their administrative password so that I could actually access the emails - not a permanent solution as hardly secure - at least I was able to see if the boss had sent any last minute instructions before 'mandatory days' defined as paid time off and all the offices shut down over the holidays. When I found the 'ticket' to report the problem to IT and another message from Yellowknife IT stating the problem was resolved, you can imagine I was not exactly pleased. I hit reply on the 'resolved' message and said "do NOT close this ticket, the problem is NOT resolved, I am NOT able to change the password" and muttered to myself. Later that afternoon I received a phone call from IT in Yellowknife who said and I quote "I am calling to ask how you could say the problem isn't fixed if you can send a reply from that email account?" Sort of like wearing a really catchy costume to get picked as a contestant from the audience of The Price is Right - you have to do something to get IT attention if you want help. I explained the 'this account isn't secure if I can't change the password' and after quite a bit of fiddling the tech managed to reset the password. Surprise - it hadn't been correctly rest as the poor local tech had been saying for days. I think it takes a certain kind of arrogance to be in IT and my most recent contact didn't disprove my theory. 

Wednesday the ingredients for the hampers arrived and we assembled the boxes - sugar, coffee, tea, coffee mate, butter, cheese, crackers, eggnog and oranges, adding pork chops and chicken so kindly donated by the RCMP officer who had won them at the meat pack bingo. About $150 each in total when filled so a nice gift. My coworker dragged the heavy boxes to the vehicle, picked up the clerk as navigator and dragged the boxes to each of those over age 60 who we'd listed. I managed to escape the grocery delivery with visits but had to listen to the snarling from the colleague about sore ankles from all the up and down stairs. 

Pere Noel and his elf
We enjoyed the Christmas feast (for which I cooked a ham - becoming known as the ham nurse) in the school gym which was nicely decorated as the North Pole (clearly the closest I've been to Santa over the holidays yet) . The children were wearing their dressiest finery and Santa (Pere Noel Pierre) and his elf Mikey (RCMP filling in) patiently held babies for photo ops and handed out gifts. Apparently a young fellow said to Mike "you're a pretty big elf on the shelf". There were lovely presents from the Community Corp (which incidentally gives every beneficiary a ham, turkey and all the fixins for Christmas dinner) some gift examples were a tea set and an easy bake oven, cat onesies, Elsa dolls, hot wheels set. And a large shipment of gifts from Fort Providence Secret Santa who sent over jewelry, makeup, trinkets and more to each child in the community. 

Christmas Eve morning we hosted a Christmas tea for which I baked war cake. Was a real blast from the past for the roommie and me as we remembered our mothers making this for us as kids. We entertained, chatted and saw patients as the morning passed. I suited up and headed to the Post Office as there was a freight plane the morning of the 24th - talk about a Santa delivery. I waited on the bench with others while some sat on the steps leading up the post office while the clerk sorted the packages, cards and letters. I was rewarded with a big box the NIC had sent in to us. My last day of work was the 24th and I was most pleased to answer the phone call from the Regional Director at 2 pm. telling us that if all was quiet we should close up shop. Yes ma'am. Don't have to tell us twice. We headed upstairs, decorated the tree which the roommie had brought in her suitcase and chilled out. After supper the phone rang but no one called the cell as instructed for emergencies, then a few minutes later the videophone rang and my colleague, who was on call. almost ate it off the wall "who is wanting to be seen now that we're closed?" But when she looked in the screen it was filled with Mikey the Elf's face as he and Santa Pierre had heard that we were good girls (apparently the standards are lower nearer the North Pole) and they were delivering a sock to us as well as each child in the community. What a giggle we had. We spent the evening watching half of a recorded Aussie series A Place to Call Home - season 3 and finally stopped ourselves at midnight and crawled into bed. 

Spent a wonderful Christmas Day as I slept in until 11 am (the roommie was going to check to see if I had a pulse) then made us pancakes for breakfast. My roommate (who had most
Santa found me
recently been home) had shopped for me and gifted me with slipper socks, mugs and a great polar bear bag. I gave her a daily calendar with info from the 60s, 70s and 80s which we reminisced with for a great giggle as well as Tide to Go - which is necessary for travel life. Didn't get out of my Christmas pjs and  finished off the series we'd begun by 3:30 pm., just in time to make cranberry pudding which I'd promised the clerk as a NS cultural exchange for Christmas supper. The colleague started the vehicle, I changed my clothes and we dragged the gifts for the clerk and her husband to the car, I sat with the box containing warm from the oven dessert we and made our way to their cozy home. As I climbed from the SUV carefully holding the cardboard box my feet slipped and half of me disappeared under the edge of the vehicle. Flat on the crunchy snow I was trying to figure out if I'd broken anything and my chauffeur was anxiously questioning "are you okay, did you hurt anything?" as she rounded the front of the vehicle. Later she acknowledged that she had in her mind (as any good nurse would) called the RCMP to help get me on a spinal board and was arranging the medevac before she passed the headlights. My main concern was for the dessert which I couldn't see in the dark and I was attempting to see if it had been ejected from the box which was flattened with only one corner intact. "No, just the pan lid flipped" she assured me, "here I'm picking up the cell phone (I was on call) and your camera" When she (we) realized that I was fine, just bruised and shaken up we became quite giddy. When I made it to the door with opaque frosted spectacles and told the clerk's husband "I could've broken my hip at my age" he just shook his head. We had a full traditional supper - turkey, ham and all the trimmings which included smoked char and musk ox pepperoni made by the host. Ahhh

Boxing Day was a sedate stay in the pyjamas kind of day as well. So thankful to have four days off before I travel. My partner was again on call as we alternate every other day when there are two of us. Again the videophone rang and she answered it saying "can I help you?" to be told that the visitor was requesting condoms. "That's not an emergency but I'm going to come down and give you some because I don't want to deal with the results of not giving you any a month from now". Apparently she gave the caller 20 and told him to share. Clearly using her critical thinking skills on that one. 

We were to have attended the Hamlet Ball today having been invited by the SAO but….the prizes for the games didn't arrive (even though they were ordered on November 25th) so the event will be held in early January….after my departure. Apparently it's a dressy affair and I certainly don't have anything with sparkles on it with me this time. Will have to pack appropriately the next time. I took a short walk today - not really much fun at -40c in the dark but got to get the legs working again for walking at home. 

Some FB chats with family members allowed me to learn that the boy captain had gifted his girlfriend a lovely necklace and earrings (and they match she said) of rose and white gold. "I haven't taken it off" she shared, "he had really good taste". I reminded her how fussy he'd been to have the taps match the light fixtures with the reno they did and she agreed that she hadn't cared. Sounded familiar to me. The apple doesn't fall from that tree with him and his father. Apparently a good day was spent by those at home trying not to be too festive until I get there to celebrate Christmas on New Years. 

I have been packing a very few things I'm taking home - fastening two duffle bags together as one is empty and the other only partially full plus an empty action packer - just can't face trying to take both so will gift one to the clerk for storage. Finishing up my laundry and hanging up uniforms in the closet to await my mid February arrival. Putting away a few personal things and for the most part just walking away from the apartment which is the best part of being a jobshare employee and returning to the same community each time. So the trek begins tomorrow and although it's windy tonight the forecast is decent flying weather or as my roommie says "not a blizzard, Aklak Air flies in anything else". Upon discussion we decided that a two day commute is acceptable but when you're on your third day of travel, you just want to be home. I told my Dr. that I could get home from Thailand quicker than from here and he said "you chose this" to which I explained that I'm not whining just illustrating what a huge country we live in that I can travel for three days and not use my passport. Next posting south and east of here…..

Although it's a bit depressing to think of climate change there are major changes which are obvious here in the arctic and in fact this community has been thoroughly studied for some decades by various researches. The following link to National Geographic relates to an article about a Norwegian team but the concept is the same:

Lots of winter left here, don't let the global warning fool you. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Blizzard Central

Kitchen window as it wanes
Noontime in the blizzard
As I sit cozily inside, an arctic blizzard is raging in the darkness here. It began about 24 hours ago and is forecast to go for a few more hours yet. The walls are being being buffeted with snow blown by 80km winds and the windows are opaque with the white stuff. It's a good day for sleeping and I suspect that for the most part the community is hunkered down…..aside from evidence of a preteen boy's restlessness in a FaceBook photo of him bundled in parka, fur mitts and kamiks playing hockey in almost zero visibility. It is customary to sleep away the day in the 'dark time' of the north even without a storm though. This past week I was reminded of this with two situations…the first at 1:30 pm as a mother with a question on the phone said in an aside to her three year old "no, you can't have that, you're going to eat breakfast" and as I glanced at the clock I thought 'that ship has sailed, it's even getting a bit late to call what you're eating lunch' . And the second when I questioned timing of the appearance of a rash and was told "when we got up at 3pm" and that was not in reference to a nap but arising for the day. I've worked with night shift workers who don't sleep that long. But who am I as a certified nite owl to judge eh?

All generations were present at the school Christmas concert one evening this week. The pageant included A Christmas Carol with the Principal assuming the role of Mr. Scrooge - this because having only 11 students can be a challenge for casting. The play was wonderful and when a three year old from the audience joined the Crachetts (her sisters) for
Inualthuyak School 
the play food in the dishes the crowd chuckled. The highlight for me was the singing of Christmas carols in local dialect - Siglit. Reminded me of a Christmas past when the kids were small and a neighbour initiated the huge project of putting on a pageant in the small local United church which hadn't been open for some time - it came from the era of a church in every community close enough to walk to. Tin ceilings, no electricity, plaques on the walls in memory of local young men sacrificed to war, oil stove hissing, smell of fir boughs, painted pews stuffed with family and community members of all denominations together to celebrate the season and listen to young voices. Magical simplicity. A northern small school with a wonderful local teacher evokes the same feelings. 

There are at least two more flights, maybe three if Aklak Air pilots are up for being Santa on the 24th….And that's a good thing as there are lots of folks still waiting on parcels from the chatter. You'd think this close to the north pole that it wouldn't be a problem! I was pleased to find the area rug that the roommate and I ordered from Bed Bath & Beyond (who likely didn't think they'd have to ship it to this far beyond) had arrived. It really makes the living room cozy and less transient like. Getting the schedules sorted out for the coming year, decorating the nest and comparing routines is a definite benefit of us being here at the same time - happening only this year due to the absence of the nurse in charge. 

In my Acting Nurse in Charge (makes me think of the saying to fake it until you make it) I've been learning the ropes for all the bureaucracy. My job share partner has a leg up on me as she spent a year with this employer in another community. Overall I did a better job this week of keeping under management radar. The past week was (incidentally the last five day week I work until February due to the upcoming holidays) a steady one.It's a nice variety of visits here with albeit reduced numbers - well baby immunization, walk in clinic types of calls, management of various chronic illnesses and phone calls which require some health teaching.  Steady in part because I was holding down the fort alone, lots on the go as we head towards a holiday slow down and folks who will be off are frantic to get things settled and also due to a physician clinic held over two afternoons via tele health. You know the type of physician that has made the north his home? Youngish fellow, beard, plaid shirt, kind of sleep deprived which was the reason for not travelling over as his physician wife had just delivered a third child. I wasn't sure how the 'at a distance' appointments would work out but as I helped an elder with a cane (remember this was someone who was born 'out on the land') down the hall the assessment was positive as in "first time I am meeting a Dr. on the TV, he was kinda nice". What changes in their lifetimes eh?

One lunch hour as I sat at the table gazing out through the window over the Amundsen Gulf, I saw in the twilight a small bright light moving across the white surface just near the horizon, and for a brief moment thought 'at home that would be a lobster boat on the way in' and then with a shake of my head realized 'it's a hunter coming in off the sea ice' . Very similar phenomenon in some ways. Sort of like the storage and inventory of food in the cupboard as I finish up a rotation  relates to the caching of supplies by hunters in various trail cabins vs the eating my way out of the community as a casual nurse who may not be returning to the same spot. At this point I am doing my best to consume perishables. 

Speaking of food I heard a wonderful quote last week describing the realization that some things were not as you had always thought they were "sometimes it's best not to see how hamburger is made". Hard to argue with that one. 

You know you're in a good place when your biggest problem this week is that the humidifier died. The deposits from the water killed it I think. I chipped them away but fear it was too late as it likely overheated and died during the night.  Have been keeping busy by crocheting a bit of Christmas decor for the apartment, watching some movies I brought, Lunch Box was a neat Bollywood film with subtitles and a cute story - Unbroken was excellent if difficult war story to watch and Alive Inside is highly recommended for anyone, especially healthcare workers as it deals with music and dementia. And a buddy suggested YouTubes of Teepa Snow who is an expert on elder care - really good! Especially the one on early signs of dementia, mind you a bit frightening when I applied them to the life partner but I shall mark that down to much cortisol (negative stress hormone) circulating in his bloodstream. 

I was shocked to see that someone had shared a warrant notice by the RCMP in Alberta and the wanted person had a name familiar to me from home. When I read through the description he was tall and thin and spoke with a thick NS accent. That would only identify him in the west, not a home. No worries, everyone would know who he was in NS! Oh dear!

Will welcome the job share partner back and we'll see if she's managed to fit a tree into the luggage as planned. We have plans to distribute Christmas hampers to the elders this week and will be enjoying our own hamper with the clerk and her husband on Christmas Day. A week from now and I'll be throwing stuff into a duffle bag and heading out. Hard to believe how quickly this rotation has gone, even though ti's been extended. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holiday hoopla

For most CHNs (community health nurses) on call in a northern community hearing footsteps on the ramp in front of the health centre, the thought would be….oh dear, someone is coming, better turn the heat off on my supper. But in a small hamlet the thumping means that three or four giggling preteens are taking a slight detour up the ramp and down the steps on their way somewhere as they disappear chattering into the dark. The month of December in the arctic is very festive with lots of social events - suppers, games, concerts…We cooked a turkey and two hams for the elders supper on Wednesday and it was a lovely evening with
Elders Supper
great food in the beautifully decorated recreation centre - seen here on the right. Anyone over 50 is deemed an elder so we were both cook and guests it turned out. The school concert scheduled for Tuesday evening is a community anticipated event. I made the executive decision as acting nurse in charge that we loan a small crutch for Tiny Tim to use…even though it required opening the plastic they were sealed in (thankfully have never been used in this community). Not difficult to get into the festive spirit anytime after September if it's cold and snow you require. When your greatest dilemma is whether the COOP will be getting eggnog flown in (the hunt for eggnog continues) ….life is good. I did dispense tylenol for a teething baby this afternoon….

My supper completed - and it was steak from the COOP - I was reminded of a story from a buddy at home yesterday who disclosed that his wife who wears many hats (trainer/fitness instructor / landscape designer / accountant) was enlisted to help out our German chef friend. It was unclear in the chat message how the poor 'button buck' became roadkill as in whether the chef found him on the road or his van did, but Germans being a practical and thrifty lot he was harvesting the meat and enlisted the aid of our fitness friend, who I am assuming was in the area of the carcass for some reason. As I messaged her husband "what I would not have given for photo or video capturing of their performance". It reminds me of the evening the shore captain was coming home from the plant and a partridge flew suicidally into the grill of his truck so he brought it home for supper - that was an expensive meal when the grill cost was factored in. Rednecks r us. 

Speaking of the shore captain…he has been working the long (even longer than usual) hours as expected this time of year. Apparently the catches are up, weather has been fairly good making for lots of hauls and the crustacean shells (at least in the beginning) were a bit soft so this translates to extra work on shore - attempting to grade, ship or store large amounts of perishable product as the holidays they are popular for approach. He took a few minutes last week to text me - shocked I was as he always says "you know I can't do that stuff". It was a completely blurry photo in which the subject could not be made out. I texted back "is this a photo?" and the (fat fingers) reply was "Y" so the next obvious question was "of who?" and the reply was spelled out with a space in between each letter as in for example A P P L E - which I'm informed his 'texting machine' does. I instructed him not to give up his day job for photography, but there is very little fear of that! He has also been known to call it his walkie talkie (he does pace with it I guess) and I sure have seen him put a few miles on in the living room while solving the problems of the world in his conversations. NOT missing that special form of torture this year. Glad to learn that the boy captain has hit his stride after the rocky start and had decent hauls with good quality lobsters. 

It's been a bit milder this weekend with -36c or so. It was -51c with the wind chill one day this week and so according to protocol school was closed. The home care visit that day required parka, ski pants, Pang hat, sealskin mitten and boots just to make it from the SUV to the door. Haven't been out since. I was doing a bit of online reading about the Canadian Arctic Expedition (WWI era) which includes info on the very spot I'm typing from: 

The most intriguing part of my research included reference to a book entitled…Trapped in Ice which is a fictionalized account about part of the expedition. Now should you hear my daughters reading this blog, they will shout out at this point. The reason being that this book (in young readers format) was their brother's only book review for several years. We had purchased a hardcover copy of the story (perhaps in a bookstore on vacation travels?) and he thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that it was the only book report he wrote for multiple years with a new teacher each time - much like the author who manages to lunch in Beverly Hills for weeks on a successful book launch. Wonder where that book is now…..

And speaking of things arctic, the local clerk has a three yr old granddaughter Lillian who is quite an entertainer. She has been recently speaking of wanting a baby sister (someone in preschool has one) and approached her mother holding her six month old brother Hayden this week stating "hey you got the wrong baby!" Good thing her bro does not yet understand that comment. I was unaware that there were squirrels in Inuvik but there are trees, it's quite a bit further south than Banks Island) so….apparently one varmint had been visiting their porch and stealing the dog food, storing it in boots etc. The mother of the house was checking on bread she'd baked and set to cool on the freezer and was 'attacked' by the squirrel which ran up her back, down her arm and bit her finger and thumb when she tried to retrieve the bread. She had made a few requests of her husband (who incidentally works for natural resources so this wasn't really an out of the way errand) to bring home a live trap and was adamant after the incident. Needless to say, the squirrel was captured the first day and so was taken for 'show and tell' to Lillian's preschool. When her father arrived she announced to her class "that's my father" and pointing to the cage "and that's his squirrel". Her Skype visits usually bring some fresh material for the clerk to regale us with. 

I was trolling FaceBook from home and a young mother posted a photo of two toddlers asleep in their carseats with the following script:
Me: come on guys stay awake, you can nap at home in bed. 
Daughter: NO, we like nap van. No nap at home. 
Me: we're almost home! 
Daughter: I said nap van!!!
I remember similar exchanges in the past in a van, which ended the same way…the struggle is real. 

I finished up my Web Science course and was intrigued to learn about a concept called IoT or the Internet of Things. A quote of the week intrigued me where it was stated that webpages traded in the currency of attention. Hmmm

Speaking of moving into the future…the Sudanese family being sponsored at home has arrived from the refugee camp in Kenya they've called home for many years. They first travelled by bus to Nairobi for three days of classes where they were instructed in 'how to be Canadians" and then I watched the progress of their flights from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Zurich then Toronto and NS - winging their way to a new life. The sponsoring committee chronicles their catapult from rudimentary subsistence to the a developed life of the future in a series of internal posts about seat belts, taps, stoves etc. A huge adjustment for them. Will be looking forward to visiting them when I make my way home.

I had been attempting to keep a low profile with the manager (one of the pieces of advice from the departing on mat leave NIC) reinforced by my job share partner who instructs that emails should be very brief and to the point with just enough info so that a clarification reply is not required as she's very efficient. I've been doing okay, promptly replying, following instructions, not messaging unnecessarily until Thursday when I sent a purchase order for approval (all stock orders must have management approval) for toner for the colour printer. The manager queried why I wasn't ordering from Xerox so I advised that it was the colour printer not the photocopier/fax. She must've taken a second look and asked why I was ordering a toner cartridge from North of 60 Medical Solutions not Moe's Stationary? Good catch I can just see Paul's face at North of 60 wondering what a toner cartridge had to do with medical supplies. I promptly corrected the error with a note that sad "apologies'. So much for not getting noticed. It's not the clinical issues that will get me in trouble….

I have passed a quiet weekend, my roommate having temporarily deserted me for a visit home to celebrate the holidays early. When we exit the apartment we clean it for the incoming partner, but as I was in-house I suggested that wasn't necessary. However, she spent Thursday morning scrubbing and cleaning (my early Christmas present) and as much as I detest housework…a lovely gift it was. She skipped out the door with empty suitcases (to bring back goodies) stashed inside each other. She traveled to Inuvik and overnighted there on Thursday but as a light sleeper (something I cannot claim to be) she complained in a chat message that the gas fireplace kept coming on during the night and she alternately thought there was a fire or someone in the room so didn't sleep well. Friday she travelled Inuvik to
Crafters R Us
Edmonton overnighted and today was winging her way home having arrived this pm. She'll be back December 21st for 'our' holidays. The clerk left on Thursday too headed out for an appointment which will likely take 30 min. but will require a Thurs to Monday trip to Edmonton. She had plans for the malls and was pleased with the timing. I have crocheted some more Christmas decor - some of it seen here on the left including the crocheted forest of which (being treeless) we are most fond, done a minimal amount of housework and only relocated from the couch when absolutely necessary. Sewing was preempted for a mens activity at the recreation centre so I didn't even need to go out.  Ahhh. 

Quote of the day
Resting up as the next week will be my last full five day jaunt until February. There is a tele health clinic scheduled with the physician who looks after our community for Monday and Tuesday afternoon. He is unable to come over as his wife (another Dr) has given birth to their third child and he doesn't want to travel. We discussed what was appropriate for him to handle on tele health (obviously not injections or prenatal exams) and I contracted to send him any information required by Monday am. Friday afternoon was spent sourcing reports, phoning or messaging patients, pulling charts, and drawing up a schedule. Being a one man band while seeing patients means that it's good I can multitask. Now we'll see how many patients show up for their appointments…being held in the afternoon as mornings are a problem for getting up….just sayin

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Eggnog season is coming…..

I saw a FaceBook status by one of the shore captain's employee's wives and it read 'welcome to non existent husband season' which pretty much sums up this time of year at home. Mind you, with the life partner there aren't many seasons which I'd describe as existent husband season. When people ask how my husband is managing with me away for eight week rotations I usually state that he likely hasn't noticed I'm gone for a couple of weeks with the usual hours he keeps. 

I cannot pretend that I am missing the drama and gnashing of teeth that go with the lobster season though. As a former co-worker commented "no sleep, washing stinky clothes and making lunches…I'm packing to come with you". And this year was a particularly nerve wracking one on several fronts with several men overboard on the first day - one was a fatality, another two fell in when the boat railing with gear collapsed into the water entangling them in rope and buoys but they managed to extricate themselves, one being airlifted to hospital. A local young fellow got a cold dunking but was quickly retrieved and back out on the boat to set the second load of traps. 

The boy captain was ready early, the boat is only two years old and he had been running the boat recently when halibut fishing (as opposed to those lying at the wharf since last May),  and was all excited last weekend when I called to wish him well. On the way in from setting his first load of traps he heard an engine noise and then the games began. Major mechanical trouble, unable to get the remainder of his gear set as there was no replacement boat to be found and no one with enough time to take them out. Tied to the what for two days as everyone came and went landing record catches and he and the diesel mechanic scrambled to find second hand parts to fix the problem (new parts would not have arrived for a week). His girlfriend described him as 'devastated' and I am sure he was, especially after being so excited on Monday. The most lucrative 48 hrs of the richest lobster season in the world and... Apparently the secretary at the plant told him to "sit down you're making me nervous" because of his pacing so he didn't go to the office on the second day.  Finally with four hour return trips in two different directions, parts were sourced and the repairs completed. They left Wednesday night with relief and stayed until the gale force winds forced them in 24 hrs later. Apparently there have been no more crises and the only issue was a verbal altercation on the wharf with another fisherman who accused him of 'setting gear over top of him' which would be a physical impossibility as the boy captain was two days behind everyone else getting his outside gear in the water. Lack of sleep and frayed nerves likely contributed to his response. He does well, so hopefully will catch up and has halibut quota still remaining. As I said to his girlfriend "it's only money, what would we do if he didn't come home?" and she gets it, but still a bitter pill for someone who is smart, a hard worker, careful and maintains his gear and equipment. Hard for his father to watch as well I'm sure, especially when there is nothing anyone can do to help. 

We've been entertained here by the two relief RCMP in for a couple of weeks - an older guy (was Navy first career) now in Inuvik, the other posted to Tuktoyaktuk. They came to the flulapalooza we had on Thursday - muffins and cookies with tea/coffee. In fact, they and the social worker over from Ulu for two days were our only guests. While they were visiting a call came from dispatch over their radio and they were momentarily excited (one call per month is busy for here) but it was notification that a pair of locally crafted slippers had been marked down. The negotiation was getting serious. Since they had been posted to various communities in the Sahtu region they educated us on 'hand games' which is an activity the Dene play - bluffing. It involves two teams, a trinket held in the hand, drumming, singing, yelling and lots of gestures. Community, regional and territorial tournaments and $30,000 pots to be won. We watched a Youtube of it in wonderment. Who knew? They regaled us with stories of inappropriate comments being made by someone and the younger fellow stated he was concerned enough to think "stop, you're going to say something I can't unhear  and I'm going to have to do something about it because of the uniform I'm wearing". Yup, I hear ya buddy - nurses think the same thing at times. 

Indian Swap
I haven't been doing much coursework on Web Science the past few days as last evening we went to meat pack bingo (two free cards sponsored by the hamlet) and yes…I won a ham. On my door prize ticket as I am not good at bingo or not lucky or both. The two new RCMP friends came along and one of them was extremely lucky winning several games (including sides or more completely described as 
Bingo ham
side games where you contribute money). By the time he won the third game we were discussing if he should put his flak jacket on and how fast he could run to the RCMP truck should he win the jackpot. His partner assured me that he was pretty speedy having given the school kids a run for it during their daily gym sessions. Thankfully, he was only set for the big game. What lucky cards he had! There was something called Indian Swap (not my politically incorrect name - the local one) which is a like a Yankee Swap where you bring a present. It involved bringing a present to exchange, dice and standing around a big table - not our thing, we babysat a very cute baby while his family competed. In the first bingo game my roommate won a box of pork chops (which we'll donate to the elders Christmas hampers) as well. As we walked home with our prizes we were discussing whether polar bears like ham or pork chops best….

Christmas hamper
We had pork chops and broccoli for supper actually as we ordered from Stanton's this week. First our groceries arrived - a wheelchair full and then on Thursday our Christmas hamper came. This is from our employer and contained a 7kg turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and gourmet chocolates. This from our employer is the equivalent to the free Christmas dinner nurses get 'down south' when working the holiday. Think the clerk has convinced her husband to cook the staff dinner for all of us - we shall not go hungry, that is for sure. We have plans for the elders hampers to be packed and delivered and a Christmas tea at the health centre for the community on Christmas Eve. 

We've been crocheting some Christmas decorations for our apartment and it's beginning to look somewhat festive.  There is a little collection of trees (we are after all above the tree line) and the local teacher asked about how our 'forest' was coming along. We took a break from those crafts to attend sewing class for a while tonight - need to find some motivation to finish up those sealskin slippers. Lots of talk about the various holiday activities here in the community this month - feasts, Inuit games, craft sale - all sorts of possibilities to amuse oneself. 

Work continues at its sedate pace and that suits two 'mature' nurses just fine. We ordered off the email flyer from North of 60 Medical Supplies advertising a 'road closure sale' . This even though we don't know what road is closed…the Dempster Highway maybe? It's the time of year the ice roads are just beginning to open…My partner had a bit of 'moment' last weekend where she stated at bedtime that she " didn't dare go to bed just yet, might get a call"…..I inquired as to if she'd had aTIA or her meds worn off? You're on call in a community of 100 not 1000+  people, the phone doesn't ring. Oh yeah…."forgot where I was" she said. Medical travel continues to fill our time - especially at this time of year when an appointment also offers the opportunity of shopping in either Inuvik, Yellowknife or even Edmonton. Located this close to Santaland you wouldn't think shopping should be such an issue. I was having a discussion with the COOP manager about whether eggnog was going to be stocked and he indicated that he was trying but….I indicated to him the seriousness of the situation and threatened to order via food mail - the only card I have to play. We shall see. There will be eggnog! Actually, my roommate is going home to Moncton and her list is long so that is the Plan B. We do not plan to be eggnog less here. 
The plan for tomorrow includes baking  cranberry scones and lemon pie. Hopefully starting at 4 am means the shore captain will have a few minutes for FaceTime by evening, been keeping some pretty long hours…..

Monday, November 30, 2015

Shenanigators R Us

This week has been one of shopping….not of buying, but shopping. In remote locations there are very few vendors who will ship for free due to the exorbitant cost, uncertainty of arrival and likelihood of damage, a handful who will ship with a minimum purchase of $50 or $100, many vendors who won't ship at all to certain postal codes, and others who will, but pass on the entire cost to the buyer. This limits the options and means that my roommate and I spent hours putting together a Walmart online order - this because Walmart will ship here with a $100/order cost no matter how much is purchased. We started out with an area rug for the living room and added in various (heavy) groceries and equipment for the apartment. Oh and yarn, lots of yarn. As the order was reviewed before hitting send it became apparent that we would not be able to have the mat shipped. WHAT? The majority of the order (minus one ball of yarn) would be shipped, but not the mat which was the only reason for making the order. Delete. Arrgh take that Walmart. We started over the next day with Bed Bath & Beyond (free shipping for $99+) and I am thrilled to report that it is winging its way to us as I type. I was not as successful with my Black Friday shopping experience. The job share partner was ordering from Old Navy - 50% off, 5x aeroplan points and free shipping to this remote locale for over $50 of purchases. I shopped, checked, chose and finally got to $50.91 and was ready to hit purchase when….my shopping cart changed back to the original prices. It finally dawned on me that it was 5 minutes after midnight in whatever time zone I was ordering….just like Cinderella and the pumpkin. Didn't need the clothes really, but that's an evening of my life I won't get back again. 

Speaking of using our evenings wisely…we have been crocheting and watching recorded series (the kindness of the travel partner of a year ago to the UK adventure - has it really been a year already?). We have recovered from the intensity of watching Anzac Girls and completed season two of A Place to Call Home (set in post WWII Australia) now are just awaiting season three - being shipped by our supplier aka pirater to the roommate's abode where she will pick it up in two weeks when home for a brief visit. We watched a series called The Crimson Field (about WWI nurses) and loved the statement of the matron who expressed concern that the young nurses were socializing with the soldiers as in "won't be long before someone gets a belly full of arms and legs" Love it! Going to use this in the sexual health class at the school which I've been asked to do. Last evening we watched Testament of Youth which was an amazing movie - a biography written by Vera Brittain during WWI. Christmas decorations for the apartment are being created and will be augmented by our Moncton Dollar Store purchases - perhaps a small artificial tree (one that fits in a suitcase) even though we're north of the tree line….

Had a call from a family member of an elder asking if we'd come and make a house call "she's sick" and when my partner began the usual nurse line of questioning as to cough, fever, pain etc. she was advised that the patient in question was "outside". It was a nippy -38c with the wind chill, dark and blowing snow so the nursing instructions included that a house call would be made INSIDE. We continued on with the flu shot campaign, various interventions with medical travel, consults etc. 

The definition of the day was SHENANIGATOR which is defined as someone who instigates shenanigans - my roommate and myself are vying for the honour. And speaking of shenanigators, let me tell you about an incident on one of the flights out of here last week. There was an incident where a small dog escaped from its crate (obviously was terrified - I would be) and began running around the noisy interior of the Beechcraft 1900 showing his teeth and attempting to bite people. One of the passengers (who incidentally works for Hunters and Trappers so was likely qualified) captured the poor canine, the copilot climbed out of his seat in the cockpit and came back to secure the cage with bungee cord. That's the kind of inflight entertainment that Aklak Air offers for your emotional enjoyment. My nerves. 

The most exciting situation here with us this week has been that we noted an increasing swampy, sewer smell in the health centre and apartment and sluggish toilet flushing. It seems the sewage truck needed mechanical repair and so was off the road. We received a call from the Hamlet office telling us that we were on 'water restrictions' as we weren't going to be pumped out until Thursday. The roommate made an executive decision as she was down to the last pair of unmentionables and said "too bad, laundry is being done". There were no apparent consequences. 

Phone chat with the teacher daughter as I made taco soup, fried Cherokee bread and brownie pudding cake for supper. Working her way through the semester with her grade primary class, the usual domestic routine and finishing up the current course in her MEd program are keeping her fully occupied. 

Had a FaceTime chat with the shore captain on our usual Sunday afternoon date. Busy weekend on the SW shore of NS as the lobster season begins tomorrow am. First time in a few years that it's begun as scheduled on the last Monday of November, having been postponed for weather almost a week last year. The long hours working in the cold, high stakes and intense emotions make for short but sound sleeps for at least the next month. A phone chat with the man child to wish him well, be careful, catch lots of crustaceans etc. He thinks they will likely 'stay out' meaning that they will set the traps, have some supper (one of his crew is a good cook) and hopefully a nap, then when the clock strikes midnight they will begin to haul the pots, reset and haul them again as long as the weather allows - likely until Wednesday. The boy captain is nervous and excited. Tis the season. I told him not to let his father drive over his cell phone (inside joke as this happened a few years back) and he assured me that he wouldn't let it happen. My heart will be home this week. But I am glad that I am not witness to the multiple trips out of bed to look out the window at the weather tonight. 

Am anxiously awaiting news that a buddy has completely aced her Continuing Care Assistant exam after two very intense years of study as she opted to do this out of the classroom. She reported that many students walked out of the classroom instead of writing and nothing looked familiar on the paper. Nothing will shake my faith in her - I am sure she rocked it. 

And speaking of work health related - a good blog post:

The excitement of the weekend was a call (they happen very infrequently here) from someone in off a hunting trip out on the land about 40 km northeast of the hamlet. it's been really windy and cold (had to apply duct tape to the seams of the windows) so I was surprised to learn the contracted hunters had harvested six caribou of their 33 community quota. I was also surprised to learn that the laceration of the finger which I glued back together (saving lives one at a time - no you will not loose your finger) was sustained opening a can of sliced fruit. And no, in answer to the lacerated's question….I don't consider that a Workers Compensation injury! 

Have registered for an online course from Future Learn (the internet is better remotely than in NS) so am doing a short course called Web Science from University of Southampton with 6300 other global students. Talk about large classes!

Just spent a few moments with my roommate watching the gorgeous light show the high arctic is offering us tonight - the aurora borealis are in rare form shimmering and dancing in greens and blues. We are so fortunate! Except for the fact that  it's happened again….Monday in the morning. Enjoy the week. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Do I miss lobster face? Not even a little

Another week behind us and the uniforms are drying on the hangers. I measure the rotation by the number of times remaining to wash the work clothes and the magic number is…..six. Almost half way through as I've extended this time to almost ten weeks. As usual, regardless of the total, the time is flying by. 

I was very excited on Tuesday night to find my job share partner had arrived back from the neighbouring community she had been loaned to. The dental team was preparing to leave on their charter which was arriving at about the same time as the scheduled flight from Ulukhaktuk. There were stacks of containers in the waiting room and foyer and although I was trying my best to ignore them, they were a needy pair, so when the video phone rang I fully expected it to be the dental assistant. I was thrilled to find it was instead my coworker who had been dropped off by the COOP truck aka ambulance. Happy reunion and we settled in to get caught up on the news. She was surprised to have made it as there was a blizzard beginning in Ulu and she had trouble seeing the road to the airport, there were strong winds as they took off, but it was still a nice evening here. That didn't last for long however. 

In the morning I checked the online warning and announced "there's a blizzard warning" to which my counterpart replied "just look out the window, oh wait, you can't see out through it". Sure enough the blizzard had come to visit us with snow
Blizzard from the inside
being blown around at 70 - 80 km/hr by north winds. Dark and cold, nothing moving and then along comes the van/school bus creeping up over the hill in near white out conditions. Apparently school wasn't cancelled today. We ready ourselves and head downstairs, thankful for the 14 stair commute which doesn't involve a parka. There is much back and forth with the NIC in Ulu as to closure criteria, finding the policy and then contacting the Hamlet SAO. He says "we're sort of closed" and my coworker says "that's like being a little bit pregnant, not possible" so he counters that he's at the Hamlet office but we can close and she educates him that we can only close if he does so he promptly says "we're closed then". I call the manager and she tells me that since we live over the health centre we are expected to do administrative duties and provide emergency services. We catch up on our programs and make some lists / plans. No one is coming in for a flu shot today for sure, they have more sense than to be out in this weather. 

Well…..almost everyone. There was a 4 wheel drive double crew cab pickup which travelled around the community a few times during the day. Turns out it was the tradesmen from Midnight Sun Carpentry who were finishing up their work orders. Proudly announced they only got stuck three times for the whole day. The next morning the bus driver / janitor was a few minutes late as she "couldn't find the principal this morning". Apparently he lives with the SAO who had left his cell phone at the Hamlet office when they closed and went home so when the principal tried to unsuccessfully call him for a ride home, he was stranded. The carpenters were working at the school and kindly offered to give him a lift home. The principal's version of the story was that after they dropped him off, he wandered around for a bit, couldn't find his way and decided to crash on the couch at the B&B. The carpenters version was that he didn't seem that sure of where he lived when they were trying to locate it, so they finally dropped him off at the end of what seemed to be his driveway. Lucky the B&B didn't charge him $125 to sleep on the couch as it's $250/night. The thoughts of doing a search and rescue mission then treating hypothermia were not far from my mind with the recounting of this yarn. 

The health centre / apartment was difficult to heat with the high winds and the poor quality windows that someone ripped off the health authority by installing a few years ago, passing them off as arctic weather quality. It was a fuzzy socks inside footed pjs with a trap door kind of evening. The blizzard finally abated by late morning, as forecast, the winds died down and the sky cleared. The community began moving a bit and the scheduled flight actually came in that evening. 

Had an encounter with a community member who asked who I left "down south" and I assured him that my kids had all flown the nest "and what about your old fella?". I reassured him that the life partner was able to take care of himself or if he didn't, I was far enough away that I didn't worry about it after all these years. He shook his head and said "the wife came over here on April 13th the year she was 16 and that was 48 years ago". I was impressed that he was so definite with the details. He asked what I was going to do when I left here and I explained that I was going on a cruise to South America in January. "Hmmm, I'd like to do that someday, I've never experienced that, I am only cruising on my skidoo across the tundra" and he pantomimed his arms stretching towards the handlebars and we both chuckled. I asked what he'd be hunting for and he said "anything that gets in front of my gun" ….musk ox, caribou, arctic hares….

At the close of the day, we cleaned off the vehicle, warmed it up, unplugged it and crept over to the COOP. This was because we'd heard there was "all kinds of vegetables" which translated to celery, butternut squash, avocado, carrots, milk, eggs and even yogurt. Let's go. My counterpart was telling me that Lloyd, although a very hard working, generous,
Scarves are us
community minded man - he is the mayor after all - is "not much of a shopper" and to illustrate her view pointed to the scarves on the wall of the store. Last years one blue striped (but soft) scarf still hung there, beside this year's rainbow striped, but very itchy one. Apparently Lloyd could use some help in the clothing purchasing division. We were rewarded with the veggies as noted as well as the holiday candies.
Christmas candies
We passed on the $16.88 package of icy cups and didn't even ask what the Pot of Gold cost, especially considering they are likely well aged after arriving on the barge a few months ago. There was cottage cheese and so I splurged for Del Monte peaches ($4.20) vs COOP brand ($3.60) for the small can - a healthier alternative anyway. 

The roommate and I are planning some Christmas crafting and have sourced some patterns for decorations. She at present is working on a prototype for small trees as she has more patience to work out the details. If it's too complicated or finicky it will be a one off. Some garland, a few ornaments and soon we'll be as festive as we're going to get. 

At any rate I am missing the pre lobster season shenanigans. I was chatting with a captain who fishes year round - he just got in and was baiting trawl in the morning as hoping to go in a couple of days. I asked if those who lobster (and feel the universe is controlled by them this time of year) were annoyed when he arrived in the middle of a wharf full of waiting lobster traps. Oh he said "they get their lobster face on" so I told him that must've been what the shore captain was wearing when we 'faced' on Sunday.  Of the things I miss, the pre-season angst is NOT one of them. 

Off to crawl in to bed and hopefully sleep in. Ahhh the northern life with it's dark sleep in mornings. Down to just some twilight at noon time now for a couple of months. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Goodbye Mr Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun

Have had a steady rotation so far and the past week has moved along quickly. At the lunch after the Remembrance Day service I was summoned by an elder who told me they'd like to have a tea the next day to thank the NIC for her work. "You make a cake" she said, stating she wanted to bake for her. When I protested I wasn't a good decorator she said "that's okay". When the elders arrived (via the school van/bus) the lady who had arranged the event said "I didn't make a thing" and I had to turn away to smile.  We spent a nice afternoon drinking tea, snacking and hearing stories about life out on the land. That evening I made chili and sweet potato biscuits as a farewell supper for the NIC and stranded OT. Tonight I entertained one of the RCMP officers, his wife and almost two year old son. Managed to pull together a salad (broccoli) pasta and meatballs with garlic bread, then cream cheese with caramel sauce and skorr bits dip with apple slices for dessert. Not bad for a northern supper. Nice to have company. 

As I was drawing routine bloodwork on a patient (no lab, just us - we draw, centrifuge and package, then ship on the plane) we were discussing local hunting. He keeps a trap line and will set it up next month when the arctic fox pelts 'bloom' meaning they get thick and white. He asked if I was interested in buying one "you know to hang on the wall as a decoration" apparently thinking since I wasn't local, I needed such things explained. We discussed price and if I could take it with me (apparently a similar export permit to the one I carried with me for the musk ox is required). I smiled after he left thinking to myself 'that encounter would never happen to me in NS as a nurse'. 

The dental team arrived on Thursday via charter and that makes for piles of action packers in the front lobby and more traffic through the health centre, although it is a good way to catch the young, healthy population you never see. This is the dental assistant's first trip to this community and it shows. She has been told NOT to walk in Sachs Harbour. When I tried to reassure her that we hadn't seen a polar bear in a couple of weeks since the sea ice had frozen, it had the opposite affect - I think all she heard was the world bear. She asked on Friday if we'd received a parcel for them and I said "no" and she said "why not?" and I replied "because there wasn't a flight today, there are flights three times a week here".  She was astounded and repeated  "three times a week?" which I confirmed as Monday, Tuesday and Thursday then added "weather dependent". She walked off with a look on her face like I was pulling her leg….

Thursday morning a sick baby was brought in and I was arranging a medevac, dealing with an ill enough infant that several nurses in an ICU would've been handling the tasks and my coworker was exiting. There was no flight on Tuesday due to weather, so when Thursday came around a lot of people were waiting for the scheduled flight, there was talk of having two scheds. A decision was made that GNWT employees would be offered seats on the charter and so the NIC heading out for her maternity leave was on of them. When the charter landed, the report of a 1500 ft. ceiling was apparently more accurate at 300 ft., the twin otter pilot managed to land, but refused to take off again until visibility improved. The operations and DPW folks who were coming to inspect the health centre arrived, rushed about while the plane waited and left again. Like Japanese tourists someone suggested (always taking pictures, nothing ever changes). The Operations Mgr introduced himself, pointed out that I wasn't wearing my ID badge and offered to make me one - I have one of course, we all do but in this community everyone knows my first name. Who did he think was wearing a uniform and doing nurse things? I was too busy to follow through on my fantasies of physical harm to him so simply picked it off the hook and put it on, muttering to myself. On my top ten list, the ID badge was number 11. While I waited on hold to talk to the Dr. on call in Inuvik a radio station was broadcasting  and I heard an ad for 'jerky poutine at the Burnt Toast Cafe' which Google later told me is in Whitehorse. 'Only north of 60' I said to myself. The medevac was denied for weather, no the liability was too great to put the baby on the charter in the arms of the nurse heading out (this is 2015 not 1975 after all) and the twin otter took off in limited visibility. Worried me to think that my pregnant coworker was airborne in those conditions. Then finally the weather cleared 'up island' the medevac was given clearance and was 'wheels up at 1355' or supposedly…they always lie about their departure time. And clearly did this time as the one and a quarter hour medevac flight and the sched arrived at the same time about 4 pm so the COOP manager was considering cloning himself. He dropped the flight nurse and medic off to assess the baby, dragged passengers and freight around the community then returned to pick up mom and baby and medic team. Because I'm old enough to think of all the 'what ifs' and have enough sense to not enjoy the adrenaline rush anymore, I was thrilled to hear that plane take off. Whew. 

On Friday a lady called for her husband asking if we had any back rub cream. He could be heard yelling in the background "and I don't want any of those home remedies either". So I chuckled and said to her "he doesn't want you to put an onion in a sock and tie it on his back?" and she said "onion?" so I quickly explained I was joking before we set him off again, that we don't carry A535 and they could order it from the pharmacy by giving them their credit card and it would be here next week. You can imagine how well that went over. 

There's been a steady stream of influenza immunizations and I was surprised to find out while chatting with my niece that Nova Scotia doesn't fund FluMist (intra nasal spray) for those ages 2 - 17 yrs as Nunavut and NWT do. You wouldn't believe how many folks attempt to convince me they are under 18!

My job share partner will be back from Ulukhaktuk in about 10 days and we'll have a couple of weeks together, then she'll head home for a week of early Christmas celebrations and back to spend the actual one with me. She will head east with a shopping list as we've decided we need to have war cake for the holidays as in both our mothers used to make it. It's certainly very holiday like with all the white stuff on the ground and chilly temperatures - easy to get into the spirit. I have been working on baby gifts for all the expected babies but will turn my hand to some holiday decorations soon. 

The sun is disappearing for the long arctic night and we won't see it again until mid January. Tomorrow is the last day we have sunlight at noon time for about an hour I think. Will be odd to see a sunrise again between the holidays in the 'south'of Edmonton. The blu light with my alarm in the morning gives me 15 minutes of UV. Not sure if it helps or I only think it does, either way I'm pretty peppy. It's the 24 hours of daylight which is more a pain to me. A while before I have to think of that…...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Shorter days and longer nights……..

Arctic fox
Hey there…..haven't seen a polar bear this week (likely as the sea ice is frozen over now) but last week with open water there was a bit of activity. Three bears swam ashore and had a little visit - looked like Mama and two grown offspring - they took the hint when scared with bear bangers. Unfortunately two younger juvenile bears didn't heed the warnings, began making a nuisance of themselves and have...disappeared. One of them came ashore repeatedly, once looking and sniffing in the dog house (poor dog, that must've given him a fright) and the smoke house. Another 'remembered' that someone had left a pail of blubber on the shore last year and revisited that spot - long memories apparently. They sure are big animals. Did you know that their hide is black? Haven't been close enough to get a good photo yet, and that is fine, just fine by me. I did however, go on a little excursion to the dump with the RCMP and there were a LOT of arctic foxes hanging out there.

Mostly I have been enjoying the cozy apartment. It is a large place and I measured the
-37c wind chill, blowing snow
dimensions last weekend - finding it's about 1100 sq. ft. of living space. The rooms are big, living room is 14x22 ft and the master bedroom is 13x17 for example. You could easily raise a family in this. And of course those arctic days are getting shorter with sunrise about 11 am and then the sun just hanging low in the sky until it slips away again about 3 pm. In about 10 more days we'll see the last of the sun for this year and we'll be into the long arctic night, waiting for the first peep of sun the end of January. 

Arctic Halloween was fun. There was a community get together in the school gym with all sorts of treats (I took brownies and looked furtively over my shoulder as I walked to the school, wondering if polar bears like baked goods) and the costumes were cute. I enjoyed the one of the airplane (clearly central to a fly in community lifestyle) which won a prize. Trick or treaters were cute, had more than I would've at home. I would hear a skidoo stopping, boots crunching on the snowy stairs, they'd ring and down I'd
Wouldn't use her walker….
go to the lobby. But I was by myself for the week, so if someone wanted to see the nurse they'd ring the videophone as well. The first few were easy as they had makeup and costumes, then there was a grandfather (couldn't see the preschool trick or treater) with him, who rang the bell. I said "can I help you?" as I wasn't sure if he was a patient and he looked sheepishly at the camera and said tentatively "trick or treat?" so I chuckled and headed down. He apologized for making me run up and down and I assured him I could use the exercise. He told his granddaughter that the nurse was likely giving toothbrushes and such, but I confessed that although that would've been a good health promotion opportunity, I'd bought (fresh) candy with me from 'down south' . The youngster dug in the bag of proffered treats and said "this is good, this is good" with a grin. I know my audience. 

The COOP manager delivered milk which finally came in for my pregnant co-worker and so I scored some as well. The good news is that after two weeks of powdered milk, it was nice to have fresh milk for my tea. The bad news is that it was already outdated by one day and leaking. Stating facts of northern life, not whining. 

Have spent the past week attempting to get up to speed on the acting/NIC (nurse in charge) paperwork duties as the NIC will be heading out shortly for her maternity leave and my job share partner and I will share the duties. Have a little notebook I've been attempting to capture the picking of the brain from someone who has done it for a couple of years and has it down to a routine. Looking forward to doing health promotion in the schools and community - as in a blast from my past.

Can't believe I'm already about 1/3 of the way into this rotation. Have been crocheting a bit - did a blanket for my co-worker and the RCMP wife who are both due next month. Been making my way through a few books - David Susuki's biography at present, which is a good read. Have watched a couple movies - Woman in Gold was excellent, enjoyed A Royal Affair (about the Danish court in the 1700s) with subtitles but couldn't get through Dear White People - not often I have to hit delete on movies.... Haven't even had time to break out my adult colouring book and for those of you with your mind in the gutter, it's not an X rated one, but more intricate. Hopefully I can stay within the lines. Heading to sewing group this evening I think. Gotta get back into the swing of those slippers. 

And of course, (always) thinking of travel, here is a link for improving those travel pics:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hellooooooo down there

So, the first posting from instant winter and while I sip my Ghiradelli hot chocolate…let me fill you in. 

I'm getting the commute down to a science after just having passed my third year mark with this northern gig. Action packers and bags in the car, perishables in the fridge. Up at 2 am (who needs more than 20 minutes sleep anyway?) perishables into the bag, bag into the trunk and off without waking the snoring shore captain as he was waking at 5 am anyway. Quick run to my classmate's place - did not encounter one vehicle going my direction and only met a few trucks in the two and a half hour drive. Quick stop at Tim Horton's and then meeting the cab. Transfer of huge amounts of luggage, quick run to the airport and check in. Excess baggage on its way so only the knapsack and shopping bag full of winter gear for the end of day two. Onto the flight. Short awake period where I watched the end of the movie I couldn't finish returning from San Francisco (yes it was that good) The Judge - with Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr, highly recommend it. Then it was eyelids down. Into Edmonton and met by the electrician daughter - which is a wonderful treat - no shuttle for me. Over to store the luggage at the hotel, have breakfast at Cora's, shop for some beverages and then back to checkin. I managed to finish the photo book I was struggling with in the backwoods of rural NS wi-fi and we caught up and enjoyed a few beverages. Down to have supper in the restaurant and an early night. Up and over to the airport - spoiled to have the daughter drag me and my stuff - best part of the commute! Nexus, yet again proved itself useful and boarding the flight. Slept through breakfast apparently on the way to Yellowknife, snowing and slushy there - in to the terminal, the leg to Norman Wells was nice as I chatted with an educational psychologist heading up to teach teachers about Suicide Education - greatly needed in the north. Didn't bother to deplane in Norman Wells, more snow and colder and then on to Inuvik. Cold, windy, snow. Into the terminal, retrieved the mounds of luggage and over to Aklak Air. $686 later and after prioritizing 30 kg - which turned out to be the duffle bag with perishables and my knapsack, yes I have my winter gear (this required showing the clerk my boots, snow pants, jacket, hat and mitts)  - I'm checked in. Time for a snack in the cafeteria (quesadilla and fries - neither of which were memorable) plus a juice box for $18.75. That'll teach me to miss my breakfast won't it? Had the company of a nurse who had recently been in this community and was heading in to a neighbouring one - the north is a small place people wise. On with the winter gear, out to the plane to join an elder, two teenagers, a toddler, and another nurse, some of them going on to Uluhuktuk. Up through the low clouds and an uneventful flight in. Transferred by the COOP truck "how long are you here for anyway?" the young fellow asked. Till New Years was my reply. Into the health centre and my waiting job share partner. SO good to spend the weekend with her as we are usually two ships passing in the night. Unpacked my food and 'stuff' and turned in early. Ahhh, good to be home. 

Friday was spent getting me up to speed on any changes since May and readying me for my solo week as my partner heads to Uluhuktuk. The pace is slow which gives you a chance to re-remember things and so we passed a pleasant day. I was on call Friday and Sunday which simply means I carried the cell phone (which doesn't ring) so on Saturday I asked my buddy to call the cell so I'd know what the ring sounded like. Not bragging, but a nice problem to have. Good to have the cell so we can we can be mobile and accessible. I was trying to convince my partner to go the dump with me as apparently there are a lot of them
Early morning arctic fox
Back for a later visit 

there - she declined, so I've  hit up one of the RCMP to take me on the tour. One of the little fellows came to visit under the window before sunrise and again later on. Cute. Walked down to visit one of the RCMP wives and catch up on the local news. They will be heading over to Baffin for a posting and I'll miss their company. Spent some time getting our apartment cozy as I'd brought along mats, some artwork and decor. Feels like our own place now. Made the promised cranberry scones for my job share partner and she packed them for her stay in Ulu, After some tech glitches the life partner and I were able to have a FaceTime chat as we usually do on Sundays. He later reported to the oldest daughter that he'd been 'facing your mother' as if he ever really faces me eh?

Monday was to be a fly day for my partner but….it consisted of her dragging her stuff in the COOP truck to the airport, listening to the plane fly over and back to Inuvik and being deposited back where she came from. Not a problem. We had a quick supper of grilled cheese sandwiches and binged watched a six part series which a friend had downloaded called ANZAC Girls about Australian/New Zealand nursing sisters in WWI. It was so well done that we sobbed our way through it, crying until we had headaches and swollen eyes. 

Tuesday was a tele health session for a toddler who was having a post op consultation with the surgeon. I had to zoom the camera in on his scar and the parents chatted a bit. An active little guy, he quickly turned and mooned the camera and so I decided to dress him. Mostly routine administrative tasks, I opted to check the crash cart and the vaccines and catch up on my 286 emails as they don't stop in my absence. 

I am alone until Monday and adjusting to my solitary situation. It reminds me of the day in the 70s that I had the shore captain (then RCMP who I was visiting up the coast) drop me off for a visit with the nurse in Cartwright. She was all by her herself, managing a quiet little community with basic equipment and I thought to myself "someday I'm going to do that" and here I am.Today's excitement was that a polar bear was sighted on the beach. When I asked if it was male or female I was told that the mama bears were too smart to come into the community but the younger males although large in size, didn't have good judgement. Not making a sexist statement here, will just leave you to make of it what you will. Fetched my
Sunrise at 10:35 am
Sun dogs

binoculars after the 
cleaning lady pointed out where he'd been but….they move fast. A good reason to not be out walking. The dogs have been really worked up tonight and lots of trucks on the go trying to figure out where the bear went. Apparently the last one stood on it's hind legs and looked in the window of the community centre. hmmm. Today was windy and cold (-30c) with blowing snow but there were a couple of lovely sunrises and even sun dogs a couple of days this week - beautiful. 

Tonight I opened an email from Operation Smile to find that despite my extensive experience and qualifications, I am not a paediatric nurse so my credentials won't be examined. If it was a deal breaker, too bad that wasn't made clearer before I invested time and money renewing my PALS certification. Oh well, the search for volunteer work continues. 

Now, to finish the baby afghan I'm working the border on. So many patterns, only so many days in this rotation.