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…..