Monday, June 19, 2017

Ten Years and Counting

As I checked back in the archived posts from ten (yes you read that correctly….ten years ago) and more on the reason why I was revisiting that decade later, I noticed that in 2007 I had posted 200 times and with half of this year completed, I've managed 20…hmmm. Don't think my life has gotten less exciting, must be the novelty of blogging has worn off. 

Enjoyed a wonderful weekend away and if you ever have thoughts of staying at Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash, I urge you to follow through on that decision. As the life partner and myself both grew up and then raised our family in a centurion house, we felt very much at home. Nice to be able to bring your own wine, snacks and lunch and it's reasonably priced at $99/night. The memoir writing workshop was wonderful as Marjorie Simmins is both an excellent writer and great teacher. A bonus was that she brought along her (much older) husband, Silver Donald Cameron and he is a funny, charming guy who is writing a book about the murder / lobster feud in Isle Madame where they live (I'll be first in line when that comes out I promise). He most certainly looked and acted much younger than his 81 years. I was amused to find that of the two, he was the technological wizard using foursquare on his smartphone (you know - where you swipe your credit card) to take payment for her books, knew how to e-transfer funds and is responsible for setting up the transcription service Marjorie uses. They've just driven from Vancouver and a cross Canada trip in an RV is quite a journey for a driver of any age. Friday evening was a well attended double reading with a local author Sara Jewell reading from her memoir Field Notes and Marjorie reading from Coastal Lives and The Year of the Horse. I bought both Field Notes and Coastal Lives and they are great! There were interesting people attending the workshop - two who work in film in Halifax (both transplanted through NSCAD from Ontario) and two from Cape Breton who were (as expected) very funny and easy going. An eclectic group with various focuses for the memoirs planned. I think I finally have the structure / motivation to get going on mine. An epiphany was Marjorie's suggestion I use a transcription service, dictating my stories, then edit them when the typed copy is returned. Another 'aha' moment was that for structure I could cycle my original northern time 40 years ago with the present. Maybe I'll finally stop being a memoir groupie and move on. 

We shopped at Masstown Market on the way up (for provisions) and the return (for breakfast and fruit, especially the beautiful strawberries for the season's first shortcake) and what a great spot it is:


And to think I remember it from the time it was a farm gate market on the way to my grandmothers in River Phillip. This was long before toll or even divided highways were thought of, but I'm dating myself. 

Pugwash is a nice little tourist town, one that I remembered (also Tatamagouche) as day trips in
Hand sweaters
childhood summers. The shore captain particularly enjoyed watching the lobster boats (it's currently open season in that area) and large cargo ships carrying salt. We visited the Pugwash farmers market on Saturday morning before the workshop where the resident gardener invested in some transplants and I savoured a delicious cinnamon roll. There were lovely crafts, great veggies and wonderful friendly folks. Would sure be a regular destination if I was a member of cottage country on the Northumberland Gulf. 

And speaking of summer vacationing, last evening was spent booking some camp sites at Kejimkujik National Park. Since 2017 is Canada's 150th birthday and park entry fees were waived, it's become a popular destination and weekends were all booked up. After a few false starts we were able to select, view and online reserve two sites in Jim Charles for a few week days next month - the benefit of a teacher and nurse shift worker daughter versus weekend only employees. Looking forward to introducing another generation to the camping life and hoping they enjoy it as much as our own brood did at their ages. I spent some time this morning sorting camping accessories as it's been some time since we used them - did you know that Ivory soap ages to a dark brown? Me neither. Now fingers crossed for a decent forecast as we've had wind, fog and rain for the last few days here. Mind you, in summers past we have visited Ross Farm, Annapolis Royal and the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum just to shelter from the weather for the day.

Planning to register the grandson for a week of swimming lessons again this year and considering a cooking class that is being offered for his age group. The Recreation Department brochure provides me as much entertainment as it did a few decades ago. Now, if I could just get my schedule on track to attend one of his ballgames my deja vu summer would be complete.

Since this is the 10th anniversary of the original cruise which my friend and I made where she connected with Super Mario - the gentleman who cruises year round out of Miami on his 100th Royal Caribbean cruise - we have made plans to surprise and show him that she's aged MUCH more gently than he has, according to a publicity photo in an article we found last summer.  Having done some research (on one of the cruise bulletin boards) and requesting his whereabouts I ascertained he is cruising on the Enchantment of the Seas for the next year. At present the ship is doing three and four day cruises to Bahamas which allows him two days per week to attend to business at his Bay of Biscayne condo. The itinerary is rather tame with Naussau, Coco Bay (private island) and Key West as the ports of call. But as we discussed, this would allow for more enjoyment of the ship itself if the destinations were familiar to us. We plan to do so called 'back to back' cruises to make it a week and in November discounts of over 60% result in a reasonably priced girls getaway. I am just waiting for my travel partner to let me know which dates work for her as my only stipulation was that I have a chance to settle in from my Greek islands adventure, before leaving again. Got to keep that extended summer gig going. 

Well off to get started on an e-book I downloaded from the library called The Other Einstein about Albert's wife. Couldn't resist and the 21 day borrow period has me on task. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eat less chicken

We are safely home and more or less settled after arriving a week ago. An uneventful three days of travelling for the most part - just the way I like my commutes thank you. A bit of turbulence along the way, including some aerobatics coming in to Inuvik in a small plane with strong crosswinds and then a major dip to the left (threw the life jacket out from beneath the seat) on the 737 as we approached the station stop the next afternoon in Norman Wells (must've been the down draft between the mountains in the Mackenzie River Valley). We headed in to the terminal to stretch our legs and the travel partner got it into his head that he'd seen his luggage in a storage bay. I attempted to reassure him that the luggage is not off loaded here but he was not to be calmed so I said "go ask at the Canadian North desk then" and watched as he approached two clerks - the first was kindly reassuring but gave him a wary look, the second was emphatic and I watched her shaking her head NO adamantly and completely discounting the possibility. The two of them gave each other knowing looks as he walked away. When he returned I said "they don't believe it anymore than I do then?" and he sheepishly agreed. His pain was eased when the action packer containing the muskox skull and duffle bag of frozen geese fish came off the carousel in Edmonton. Muskox skull you say? Oh yes, if one is exporting such a thing a tag must be issued by ENR (no tags were available in the community) so this required a pre-flight field trip to the ENR office in Shell Lake and a receipt from someone back on the island (the clerk at the health centre was kind enough to write and fax this) so a tag was issued. We spent a few hours in Edmonton with a Cuban friend (and his missus) having some adult beverages and snacks at the hotel and sharing the Cuban wedding photos. Good for the shore captain to meet the missus and we all had a great catchup. A quick Edmonton to Calgary hop the next morning and then direct flight to Halifax where I sat next to a lady travelling with five other friends/sisters to Scotland, England and then a cruise to the Canary Islands. Ahhh envy is such a negative emotion. We were met by our son-in-law at the airport and stopped for a visit with our three girls and granddaughter (who is now crawling as the military do on obstacle courses) and has excellent fine motor skills (managed to extricate her auntie's passport from her wallet and 'read' it). We were home by 11 pm and after a few days of acclimatizing have finally gotten the time zones sorted out. 

Before updating this blog further, let me just instruct you (if you haven't already seen it) to watch the movie Maudie - it's the Maud Lewis biography. It was sad, but not as overwhelming as I've heard it described - mind you that was by someone who cries over commercials. I've just returned from a screening at the local arts centre (it played in movie theatres while I was out of the country) and it was a sold out show tonight. There should be nominations for Ethan Hawke and the female lead. It is being rescreened on Saturday night. This wouldn't work for me as I'm heading to Pugwash for the weekend, but more on that later. 

As I was getting settled in at home, I noticed all three cats acting (more) weirdly and looking out the veranda room door. Flicked on the light to find Mr Racoon had entered through the cat door and was munching the cat food left there for Stanley to snack on during the night. He calmly continued eating and was only mildly alarmed when I touched the door handle. Mikey did security duty staring the intruder down through the glass, Stan hid and Squeakers fixed him with an insulted stare as in 'you're the one who goes outside do something' look then glared angrily at the unwanted guest. The life partner was summoned and pronounced the visitor "cute" and left. After the food dish was empty, Mr Racoon took his leave. This is not the first time he's had take out here. 

This past week has been one of catching up on appointments and tasks while easing back into 'southern' life of hanging laundry out. Today was sunny but a bit cooler and I was able to walk to the mail in the afternoon and not have to wait for after supper cooler temps, a couple of days have been positively tropical and were enjoyed on the deck with BBQs. I made sure to run errands in the morning so as to enjoy the UV later in the day and have battled the blackflies and ticks on all fronts. The shore captain has been mowing, expanding his greenhouse, planting, building a new rose trellis and catching up on his office work. I've been crocheting some dishcloths (gotta get that stash down so I can see over the end of the sofa) and have been sharing them around. 

On one my drives as I listened to CBC there was a vegan being interviewed who was rallying for saving chickens by eating pork or beef as more lives are saved due to the number of meals their larger size provides, interesting concept:


Heading to Pugwash for the weekend as I'm attending a writing workshop being given by Marjorie Simmins (wife of Silver Donald Cameron if that helps) called The Minefields of Memory. Here's a link to a YouTube interview with the author in 2014 as her book Coastal Lives was launched:


Seems as if she'll be an interesting mentor. As part of the package she's already kindly critiqued some of my pages from my 'family stories folder' which I forwarded. I've gathered up my supplies as instructed and reviewed some materials (this is like the third memoir writing workshop I've taken…looking for motivation I think). The life partner is coming along (driving Miss Daisy) as we're visiting the granddaughter on the way and he approves of enjoying wine with the readings being given Friday night. If you watch the short video on the site it will make you want to stay as well I promise, it's a lovely heritage site:



I was pleasantly surprised to find a $99/night accommodation cost and use of the kitchen for lunch. The shore captain will be well able to amuse himself visiting wharves on the Gulf of St Lawrence for the day while I toil from 10 - 4. And, as he pointed out…rain is forecast for the weekend so not likely much carpentry/gardening on the go anyway. 

Well, time to crawl into bed as we've opted for an early start to ensure lots of visiting time. 28 years ago I was waiting to be induced for a beautiful baby girl. Ahhh how time flies eh?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Packing again, or is that still?

So, the final update in the month long rotation and I have to say....it has gone by really quickly. The forecast for the next few days is good, with the scheduled departure on Tuesday looking promising. I smile when I see the overnight forecast of sunny after midnight up here..... We've been having a problem with cancelled flights because of the unsettled spring weather. With the open water as the sea ice melts, there is more moisture in the air and thus ice fog, rain, snow, hail, sleet...you name it, we've had it the past while. Once over to the mainland, it's usually pretty smooth traveling so as long as the flight makes it in. Been a pain trying to get samples out to the lab within the window of opportunity for testing or medication over from the pharmacy.

The hunter accompanying me was a bit disappointed by the sudden disappearance of the snow geese but a combination of weather factors last week (fog, easterly winds, earlier spring) seem to be the culprit. The locals are disappointed as well of course. There were less eggs collected this season because it was too difficult to get 'up north' on the island to Egg River and there were multiple snowmobiles stuck in the rivers on return trips last weekend - videos of folks standing in waist high water on the seats, just handlebars sticking out of the ice etc. So the only available eggs were a few deposited around Middle Lake and the arctic foxes were waiting. Lots more folks in the community this week, back from the big white tents out on the land, so a bit more on the go with work.

I've been finishing up some craft projects this rotation and have (finally) managed to complete my sealskin slippers with beaver trim. Only two years in the making. They're much too warm for 'down
south' so will go into the storage box here. I've been crocheting a small throw, made a hat and even created a cover for the plant pot in the livingroom as the stash busting continues. Managed to read a couple of books too - one I found in the bookcase entitled Housecalls by Dogsled, written by a community health nurse in Fort MacPherson (another community here in the Beauford Delta region) in the 1960s. At present I'm reading an e-book about Jonathon Letterman who was in charge of battlefield medicine during the Civil War - gruesome conflict that it was - and the changes he made with ambulances, hospitals in barns at the edges of battle, interesting stuff....well at least to a nurse. 

Today was our 40th anniversary, quite a milestone by any measure, especially in today's disposable relationship climate. One thing I can say with certainty is....these four decades sure haven't been boring! It's become unusual that we spend our anniversaries together as I've been 'working away' the past few years, so today was a bonus.

I am on call today and spent the afternoon working. As the physician on call for the region said when I finally reached him after being on hold for a while "why is everyone doing this today? it's a beautiful afternoon, they should be out on the land". Couldn't agree more but...as I told him, if they put me in a position to do an EKG then you know I'm going to fax it to you, even if it's normal. Add in another call with family drama and the double time paid on Sunday becomes even more relevant. I'm making plans to just work ten weeks of the year - for a number of reasons - the main one being that after all the life changing events of the past year....I want to do more of things I enjoy such as travel, enjoy our oceanfront home, hang out with friends, or just do nothing. Other reasons include that with my (small) pensions and some dividends drawn (mostly by the shore captain) from the company, anything over ten weeks salary will be paid back in income tax. I'm not interested in northern volunteering. Had a discussion with my manager and expressed interest in a couple of five week casual rotations spring and fall (the life partner will be otherwise occupied so gave his blessing) which she didn't discount so I'm looking at working my next rotation August/September and calling it a year. As I explained, I didn't leave on my own terms...I had to come back to prove to myself I could still do it (I did so) that I wanted to (I most certainly would miss it if I never returned) and figure out how it was going to play out in the longer term.

We were out for a while last evening fishing for arctic cod on the edge of the ice crack just in front of us, but no luck. And yes we were careful to only go along the skidoo tracks...yep, there are still snowmobiles out on the sea ice, and keep a look out for polar bears. There have been a few small cod caught recently and the seals like to sun themselves on the ice next to the edge, so there are surely fish there. Lots of fishing on the floe edge over in Nunavut, it's actually a popular spring excursion for fishermen. It's getting to be a challenge to get back to the lakes as there's too much ice/snow for ATVs and too little snow for skidoos -  kind of a switchover season until it's time to get out in the boats. Spring this year came the fastest that anyone here (even the elders) remembers and caught the locals off guard. Climate change is so dramatic here near the north pole.

So, time to get ready for my remaining two days of clinic. I have most of my things packed as I'm bringing home excess, storing and have gifted some. Nice to have the man servant to do laundry of bedclothes and towels on the final day versus chasing the washer/dryer during work hours. Today I tidied a bit as my contribution to the apartment. Since we're leaving the job share partner here, it's not the more thorough exit cleaning. We've been making jokes about our polygamous situation with the two sister wives, especially as I made us 'family breakfast' of bacon and fruit filled pancakes this morning, but I suspect she'll enjoy the solitude which comes with our departure. An update from much further south of here...I promise.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Would you like a T4 with that?

So....to explain the title of this post, I offer this anecdote... The setting is one afternoon this week as we two nurses were filling our day with routine tasks such as sorting stock and making out the barge order (heavier products such as casting material, jugs of saline etc. are not routinely ordered as air freight because of the shipping costs). Due to the government takeover of the shipping company, the barge will be coming through earlier this year in August so the mundane logistics task must be approached earlier. While I took a phone call (part health information and part social interaction as in "which hockey team are you rooting for this evening?") the Nurse in Charge aka my job share partner proceeds to pick some papers off the fax machine and shows me first a sharpie lettered flyer advertising that salt n vinegar and ketchup chips are for sale at a local government office and secondly the T4 of one of their employees. Wow, just wow! I extricate myself from the phone call and my colleague phones the sender stating that if we have received the information, likely the entire hamlet has because it looks like a group fax. The reply is "oops, must've stuck to the poster" and "you better rip that up". The T4 is quickly shredded and we comment on how much trouble we'd be in pulling a stunt like that - at the very least we'd have to take a faxing course and have every transmission cosigned. The following morning my coworker answers the phone and it's a clerk from the above mentioned office telling her that she should call the bank who faxed the T4 to us. She educates the clerk to the fact that we were an innocent recipient and have no plans to call anyone, that the document came from HER office. When the caller realizes that whoever sent it is fingering her as the culprit...she quickly says "oh, that wasn't me" and hangs up, apparently the concern being who got blamed for it, not the disclosure of sensitive information.... my nerves.

The community remains fairly quiet with the majority of folks out on the rivers, having moved their camps north from the lakes, following the geese who are nesting so there is egg gathering and shooting in progress now. Occasional trips back for provisions or poor weather hampering hunting has made for a few visits, mostly due to aches and pains of pounding over rough terrain by skidoo or ATV. Both nights this weekend my colleague and I have had middle of the night callouts (a rare occurrence here) and earned overtime awaiting a medevac which was in Yellowknife with another case (thankfully the fog lifted for a few hours), which we have both decided we would trade for sleep. In my honeymoon stage of returning to work, I had forgotten how unfun it is to be screamed and sworn at by a non coping individual at 2 am. over a minor situation with their family member. When the circus comes to town like this you're not even able to say 'not my circus, not my monkeys' because they both are.  I see there are job postings for short term assignments of four weeks to four months for TB nurses in Nunavut. I was discussing my qualifications for this area with my coworker as in...infection control education and experience, public health background, community health nurse with a degree and she said "a nurse with a pulse" which we both acknowledge is the real requirement. No call back though so tempting... hmmmm.

This continues to be a hunting paradise for the shore captain as 'pinch me I'm dreaming' moments are becoming a daily reality. For example, he was hunting with one of the RCMP members posted here (a fellow Nova Scotian but a farmer not a fisherman so requiring some tutoring) and after shooting one goose, went out across the tundra to retrieve it and came back with four. Apparently it is a good idea to take your gun and shells when 'picking up' a local told me. Earlier this week one of the hunter/trappers asked to meet my husband (his marksmanship not going unnoticed) as they both had the same tally - so he most certainly is holding his own. They traded hunting info and it was a great male bonding exercise. Journeying out on the 4wheeler to local hills which are now covered with snow geese, the great white hunter is at about 35 and counting today. He has decided to shoot only a few as the opportunities vastly exceed his luggage allowance and pluck at least one in the field because plucking is becoming an issue. Although there is some carryover of roles (as in women do shoot) the northern culture designates males as hunters, women as sewing the clothing and preparing the food. There are lots of geese around and anyone who would pluck them...is. I could post photos of geese here but....you know what snow geese look like by now....

The only setback the in-house hunter has experienced is a bout of snowblindness, which you might expect from someone who has never lived north but...a few years in Labrador in the 70s apparently have faded from his memory. Last weekend with an overcast sky he had his sunglasses off on Sunday "for a little while" and I cautioned him about it as in "up here is more stark, no trees to buffer, more snow and more direct UV rays" which I'm sure he heard as Charlie Brown teacher's voice blah, blah, blah...I mean, what would a northern community health nurse know eh? So, on Monday he arrived home at suppertime (having had his sunglasses off for most of the afternoon)with very red, painful eyes and decreased vision so was in bed by 7 pm with sunglasses on and spent a couple of quiet days with eye gel, cold compresses and advil. Hard way to learn such a lesson but thankfully no lasting effects.

I've been telling folks that my roommate and I have a 'man servant' and I have to say this one must be trying to impress my coworker because after four decades it's not likely that it would work on me. No, that's not entirely true because... he washed my nurses scrubs (first time in the over 40 years we've been together) this week. I was speechless which is an uncommon event. He has been doing the shopping (important to get to the COOP as soon as a shipment of fresh milk/produce arrives and before it closes), cooking of suppers except for the occasional weekend night off, general maintenance and carrying of heavy objects. Retirement is certainly agreeing with him (and thus me) with my only complaint being that I've gained 2 lbs. Some of the excess is due to baking for our little family - we sound like 'sister wives' - with chocolate cookies, cherry squares and scones quickly consumed. 

Have been keeping myself occupied crocheting a small afghan to use up some of my northern stash, sewing soles on my Kugluktuk beaded slippers and finally finishing up my sealskin slippers where I've gotten as far as stitching the liners on the sewing machine which appeared in the apartment during my absence, and sewing the beaver trim on them - I promise photos of the completed projects with a future posting. Got out for a few walks this week, which is nice in the milder temperatures (it's running about 0c) but it is the beginning of mud season (even though there were big snowflakes in the full daylight last night at 3 am) so have to choose the route carefully. 

Off to make pizza for supper and perhaps a walk afterwards if the rain eases up...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Northern date night and more


Snow geese
So as I enjoy a sedate Sunday (on call but that is not a dangerous descriptor in this community during the spring goose hunt as the hamlet has emptied out of people this long weekend) with the shore captain having gone to play with his friends....I mean hunting with one of the RCMP members here, all is well. The geese are beginning to return on their annual migration and there are snow, Canadian, white fronted, ross and brant arriving daily. The local hunters are saying that this week will be the main overfly but, the hunter I brought with me has already seen and downed more geese than he would in a lifetime in the maritimes.
brown hills

Yesterday was my 'day off' from call so while the shore captain was hunting earlier I walked up to the airport to survey the snow melt and signs of spring. A few years ago when I asked a local hunter when the geese were expected to return, he answered "when the hills turn brown" which roughly translates to the end of May. Bingo!

COOP gas
With the receding of snow cover there is the eruption of various pieces of derelict machinery and the inevitable muck such as seen here on the left in front of
the 'gas station' with the office on the left and the pump station in the middle ..... Soon we will be dealing with the dry northern summer with clouds of dust when vehicles go by and clouds of insects as well, but I will have migrated myself when that occurs. Fortunate that we got out last week on the skidoo run to Cape Kellet as there wouldn't be enough now to make it a comfortable ride.

We had a date night, northern style, described as taking a run on the ATV with the shotgun (to scare away a polar bear should we encounter one) as far as the dump, which turned into goose hunting. Now although I've been with this guy for over 40 years, I haven't been goose hunting with him. Have been to camp while he's tended rabbit snares or was deer hunting hunting, but that involved occasional walks in the woods, keeping the wood fire going and having supper ready when he came back.We stopped the 4wheeler on the edge of the road and walked down through the cleft in the hills which runs to the shore known as Allen's Creek, an area geese are known to fly up through. With frantic gesturing and terse instructions to "get down, don't put your hands up, here they come" we watched various configurations of birds fly over and two came home with us. The rules for outsiders (non land claim beneficiaries) hunting on this island include only harvesting snow or ross geese within a 9 km area around the hamlet (no hunting in sanctuaries) and no egg collecting. With the large numbers (estimated between one and two million) of geese who are in the main flyover it is not the capturing but the plucking / preparing of geese which are the issue.

This week also saw the (delayed due to fog)  return of my job share partner - spring is an iffy time of year for northern air travel - and we have settled into our 'family' trio (not as polygamous as it sounds) with the life partner making sure that even if he is busy capturing the food that 'the ladies' are fed supper after work. Work is a relative term this time of year with the population having migrated 'out on the land' to the lakes for ice fishing, goose hunting and egg collecting. With the snow having left the roads it was necessary for the old guy to free the health centre ATV from the C can (shipping container) and get it started (getting to be quite a small engine mechanic) so now he has a country and an urban mode of travel.

It has been nice to catch up both professionally and personally with the job share partner as it's been about a year and a half since we did that. Long discussion with her about a more flexible working arrangement as in....casual, not locked into the job share schedule and I have promised to think about it. Not that she's trying to get rid of me, just stating that work gets in the way of vacations (so very true) and this would deal with the solution to not being ready to completely walk away yet. I'm chewing on that. So, time to make some chocolate chip cookies for my roomies. Later ....

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Two for the money....

Safely settled in the high arctic and a bit of a challenge to figure out how to update the blog but.... no worries as you know that nurses are problem solvers....the dilemma is that in my over a year absence some (quite a few actually) things have changed (as they are wont to do) and one of those situations is accessing the internet. I have brought my MacBook Air and previously used a modem but, my partner has moved on to something on her phone called a mifi (no idea, don't ask) and so just using data on my phone is the plan for the month. This is fine for accessing email, short chats, posting photos and catching up on the news, however not practical for a long document. So....I have logged on to the network in the office, emailed myself / saved photos and signed in to blogspot so here we go.

I am being accompanied on this initial four week return to work rotation by the life partner. This is a perk offered by my employer to indeterminant (either full or permanent part time) employees as a family member is sponsored to accompany us to work, it's usually popular over the Christmas holidays and school breaks - my job share partner brought her daughter last summer - but the call of ice fishing / goose hunting was too much for the recently retired shore captain to pass up this year. Previously the lobster season at home has made for a busy time in May when the weather, 24 hours of daylight and game made it the best time of year to be north. Only minimal complications of traveling with a gun/ammo and hunting gear so it has been good to travel with a Sherpa for the stacks of luggage...just pile that on top and bring it to oversized baggage will ya?

We had minor travel complications with the Edmonton hotel clerk putting my vegetables in the freezer (this is NOT the first time it's happened so I confirmed three times to put them in the cooler NOT freezer...sigh) and the potatoes, celery and tomatoes especially were very unhappy and needed to be cooked up early. We were delayed by a blizzard here and unable to make it over from Inuvik on Monday so took a cab in from the airport, called the travel clerk who booked us a room at the Nova Inn and explored the most northerly town in Canada. Introduced myself (and hubby) to our Nurse Manager (who had changed in my absence) shopped for some souvenirs and stopped for supper/drinks at Shivers. Felt a bit guilty when I discovered the next day there had been medevacs that evening after the weather lifted. Check in with Aklak Air and prioritize the luggage - gun and perishable food first - manage to get all but two bags on the flight with us. It's a smooth trip up above the clouds and over to Banks Island, but unable to see the landscape. It's so good to be welcomed at the airport by my job share partner who has always believed in me and that this would be happening again. A quick hand off and she exits for the plane, we take the vehicle to the health centre.

I unpack the groceries, grab some lunch, send the man to COOP for milk and eggs, change into my scrubs and head downstairs doing my best to settle into the routine and get up to speed as the Dr is arriving to begin clinic tomorrow. I'm working with a CHN who is the age of my daughters so feel right at home. We decide that we're a good fit of young and old and I take call the first night, cautioning my colleague I may need her for backup as my brain is still rusty. One fairly routine call in the evening which gives me the chance to get back into the swing of things and a full nights sleep. It feels wonderful to be back!!

The next day is steady as we work our way through the Dr clinic and I receive lots of welcome back hugs. The physicians are using an electronic medical records system called WOLF (not sure what it stands for but a great northern name) with one of the main bonuses being the notes and prescriptions are printed out legibly, supposedly the consults make their way through the system as well but....being nurses who have seen lots of new technology fails, we opt to fax them in addition....just in case. The inhouse hunter spends part of the day getting the health centre snowmobile working. This requires a trip to COOP for sparkplugs, a (new) rectal tube to siphon gas to pour on the carburetor, my hairdryer and an extension cord to unthaw the lines and finally the custodian reported that "there's a strange man driving the health centre skidoo around the front" I assured her that he was pretty strange but we knew about him. He reported that $53 of gas filled the tank so "pretty expensive." He chauffeurs me over to the ENR office to pick up my fishing license and the machine is purring. We entertain the Dr and my coworker that evening for supper, enjoying gifted muskox which was marinated/braised by my colleague and must-be-cooked veggies, wine (always requested of the Dr when traveling here) and fruit (again from Inuvik) with gelato which the clerk made us before exiting to the lake to go ice fishing for a few days. Roughing it? Not a chance!

As the week moves along I manage to get myself together enough to draw bloodwork, process and package lab specimens to send off to Inuvik / Edmonton without too many questions, handle some paperwork, play with the new x-ray system (PACS) and get up to speed on peoples histories. The larger challenges are systemic (of course) with reactivating my email account then throwing out 462 messages from over a year with only two being needed, entering my time on PeopleSoft to get paid, ordering supplies and enjoying the pill dispenser of candies our manager sent for nurses week. She also generously gifted us a $75 purchase order for the COOP which we splurged on supper/breakfast to entertain the (fog delayed) physician. Have sure been less recognized on my 'special week'.

Had time to fit in a Friday evening run on the skidoo to the Mary Sachs / Cape Kellett area which is
Cape Kellet
Cranes
about an hours run west of the community. The Mary Sachs was a ship from the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913 - 1916 which the hamlet is named for. It was a beautiful sunny excursion where we saw two geese, one ptarmigan (partridge) and two cranes, oh and some muskox turds, no polar bears. I had some refresher skidoo driving lessons on the return trip and feel comfortable now handling the snow machine myself. Took a hike up to the airport
and checked out the amazing white views from the hills of the community, Amundsen Gulf and lakes, this spot is breathtakingly beautiful! Ice fishing was successful for the shore captain and he
4.5 lb lake trout
Sachs Harbour
had a small arctic char the first time, a good sized lake trout the second trip in the evening where he arrived back at 1 am (those who know him realize this was well past his bedtime) but he is earning his keep - fish for supper this evening. The lake ice is well over five feet thick so will be with us for a while. The geese are beginning to arrive and by next week should be here in large flocks, with snow geese becoming a nuisance and ruining the roots of tundra grasses there will be no problem with permission from the HTC (Hunters & Trappers Committee) for hunting - that will keep him entertained. My job share partner returns on Tuesday evening and we have discussed sending the old guy over to the spare apartment if he acts up, so he will need to be on his best behaviour.

I have found myself startled a few times when mister enters a room because I'm not used to being north with him and it seems as if he is in the wrong place, but he doesn't require much minding as we've lived north before. He is starting to take my suggestions seriously as in.....it's Friday so you had better check on gas as I don't think it's open Saturday or Sunday....he couldn't believe there wouldn't be fuel available on the weekend....can you guess who was right that time? Be careful with the sewing machine if you're making that canvas shotgun cover....now attempting to find a Singer sewing machine needle. The reports of blackflies and ticks in Nova Scotia sure make the wind chill and snow more welcome as we're a ways away from that summer plague. The time moves so quickly here and with a week in, we are already 1/4 of the way through this trip.