Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strange Substance Sighted

[Lorraine writes] Yesterday, we had a small blizzard, lots of wind, some snow, and over 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday, the temperature rose from -35 to -4. It made for a nice cosy day working at home, though it wasn't that severe and I probably COULD have gone into my office (all the govt offices in Iqaluit were officially closed, though).

Last night when it warmed up to -4, we were positively giddy. We hadn't seen such warm temperatures in three months. We ditched our big parkas, put on light jackets, and made an 11 pm run to a gas bar to pick up some very expensive junk food, just for the thrill of going out in the 'warm' weather.

Today the temperature was up to 0 degrees. Very strange. I walked into work, revelling in the warmth, and when I arrived and began to take off my big boots, it noticed something VERY STRANGE. An odd substance clung to my boots, something I have not seen since LAST winter in Ontario. It was translucent, a little chunky, and drippy ..... I was shocked to find SLUSH on my boots.

I realized just how unaccustomed I've become to the notion of winter slush -- its so dry and cold up here that the snow is more like styrofoam and makes crunch crunch crunch noises when you walk on it. And on really cold days, it echoes under your feet, and you can get a sense of the temperature from the type of snow echo.

Tomorrow we go back to "normal" -20's weather. No more slush. More crunch. Can't wait til spring....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nunie Award Nomination

[Lorraine says] So, we've been nominated for a "Nunie". There are quite a few bloggers in Nunavut, and someone has started an annual award for different blog categories.

We've been nominated for Best New Blog of 2007. Now, before our faithful southern readers get yer knickers in a knot over this good news, please note that we've garnered a modest 1.6% of the vote so far. LOL. So, you can go to and vote for us. Even better, you can go to that website, and check out some of the other nominated blogs - there are some interesting bloggers up here. Some of my favourites are Townie B'stard, The North is my Snowcone, and Jen of Nunavut. The Townie B'stard has a hysterically funny animated cartoon of a writer going crazy, which makes me laugh every time I see it because it reminds me of John.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seeking an Owl's Wisdom

[Lorraine writes] Life has been busy but good. The pace quickened over the past weeks as I got ready to argue a big legal case this past Friday.

In order to make an appearance in the Nunavut Courts, I had to be called to the bar here. Which I was, a week ago, in a lovely, intimate ceremony. Another lawyer and I appeared before the Chief Justice, in her sealskin sash, in one of the courtrooms which have kamotik (sled type) railings, and a court clerk whose uniform also had sealskin edging, swore us in. A number of lawyers from the local legal bar showed up, which is a nice tradition here. Here's a photo of me taking the oath.

I was thinking it would be nice to commemorate the occasion, but how? The more I thought about, the more I thought it would be good to honour my call to the bar up here with a traditional Inuit carving, related to my understanding of practicing law up here.

Then on Wednesday, I had to go to Kimmirut for work. Kimmirut is the nearest community to Iqaluit, on Baffin Island. There are no roads between any communities in this territory, so you can either fly or snowmobile. Its a one day snowmobile trip or 40 minute flight. I flew, although I swear the small plane I was on was just as cold as being out on a snowmobile!

Kimmirut is a beautiful community, with houses perched on steep cliffs coming down to the seashore. You can see the 30 foot ice walls where the tide goes up and down. It is the jumping-off point for travelling to beautiful Katannilik Park, which has a microclimate along the Soper River, and thus has the only (?) trees in Nunavut. (Nunavut bloggers can correct me if I'm wrong on that). Its a popular canoeing and rafting river in the summer, and the general area is gorgeous. There are interesting geological formations, including large outcrops of white marble (and including the big white marble hump in the village that looks like the heel of a foot -- Kimmirut means 'heel'). (Check out for more info).

While there, I had a chance to talk to the Park Manager, who showed us the interpretive centre and gallery which are usually open only in summer. There in the gallery were many gorgeous carvings (there are a lot of talented carvers in Kimmirut), including a beautiful 8 inch high snowy owl in green marble. Ahhh, I thought, owl. As in wisdom. That is a nice metaphor for how I hope to practice law here. The carving was done by a young carver in his late teens, named Johnnysa Mathewsie. Its now in my living room: here's a picture.

So here's to hoping that I live up to the example of my carved animal friend, and find some arctic wisdom up here...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Learning to Adapt To "Parka" Time

[Lorraine writes]: Well, Christmas and New Years are over and its back to the regular day to day schedule.

But with one scheduling challenge: right now it seems like about 2 hours of each day are taken up with just getting in and our of outdoor clothing. In the past six days, we haven't had a day warmer than -45 with the wind chill (mostly the temperature has been hovering around -35 with about 30 to 40 km/hr winds, which equals around -50 with the windchill. We also had a mini-blizzard last Friday). On Monday morning, I got up early and it was -59 with the windchill (it "warmed up" to -53).

We just sent out our "Epiphany" letter (having been too tardy to make Christmas), and we were gloating in our annual Bird-Land index that we'd cut our average monthly commute from 4500 km/month between the two of us, to 12 km/month. Think of all the time and energy we are saving, I thought! But now of course, we have "parka" time to factor in...

Here is a picture of my butt-ugly warmest parka (I have two other 'prettier' parkas -- who knew that one could have a fashion selection of parkas, for pete's sake). I'm suited up in t-shirt + wool sweater + over sweater + parka + long johns + pants + wind pants + three layers of socks + wind goggles + neck warmer + Pangnirtung hat which we can't even see under my parka hood + trusty sorrel boots + lovely sealskin mittens (my Christmas gift from John, natch). If I don't get out the door soon, I'll smother ....

Tomorrow it warms up to a balmy -28. Can't wait ....