Friday, June 24, 2011

Northern solstice

The longest day of the year actually means something in the North. I have never thought about it or celebrated it. It's always just come and gone without notice. But here, solstice is something to stop and appreciate. So I did. Here are some photos of my glorious Northern solstice. Above is a photo of my friend K-Hud and me before we hopped in the water for a late night swim. P.S. Notice how light it is? That photo was taken at about 11 p.m. Yay for the land of the midnight sun!
This was taken on our mini hike to the mini cliffs. The sun was red because of the smoke in the air from a nearby forest fire.
Taking a dip. The water was awesome and the air was still warm.
As if that wasn't exciting enough, then this happened...
That Arctic Sunwest floatplane took off right across the lake and flew over us while we were in the water cheering.
Who knew the longest day of the year could be so fun?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beer Barge

“Sit up straight. Spit out your gum and take off that hat.”
Imagine that being said while I smack a yardstick against my palm or maybe on the desk in front of me.
That’s my impression of a teacher. Not bad, right?
I actually learned a couple months ago, when I spent two hours teaching Grade 6 students how to write a news story, that I should never be one. But last weekend, I discovered I have the perfect teacher-look.
Well, at least the perfect 1940s schoolmarm-look. It’s so believable I actually won second place in a costume contest at a historical Yellowknife event organized by the NWT Mining Heritage Society.
I know what you’re thinking, “A historical event… boring!” But I have to tell you, this isn’t just any historical event, it’s one dedicated to beer.
That’s right, you heard me – a historical event all about my favourite beverage.
It’s called Beer Barge. Basically it’s an event to pay homage to the days when Yellowknife didn’t have an airport or highway and residents would have to anxiously wait for spring when the ice would break up, float away or melt, making way for a barge carrying supplies.
According to old time Yellowknifers, by the time the barge finally arrived, the city’s remaining beer would be skunky – that’s of course assuming there was any.
To celebrate the good ol’ days, a group of about 300 Yellowknifers, young and old, gathered by the water last Saturday to celebrate the coming of the beer.

To make it more authentic, people were encouraged to come in costumes true to 1940s Yellowknife – hence my schoolmarm get-up, which included a grey 100 per cent wool dress that buttoned up to my neck and hung down past my knees (a thrift store find from a tiny shop in Kelowna). I also had my hair in a tightly pulled bun on top of my head, and I toted a vintage yardstick from Yellowknife Hardware.
I told everyone, who didn’t already guess, that I was Mildred Hall, Yellowknife’s first teacher and the namesake of an elementary school.
I have to say, I took to the role of a stern educator very well. I wielded my yardstick and glared at the camera, of course breaking into laughter as soon as I saw the flash.

It truly was a fantastic evening. I would even rank it in my top five Yellowknife experiences, along with dog sledding, seeing the northern lights, playing hockey at 40 below and snowmobiling on the melting ice.
Now, if there was a prize for the best dressed family, it would definitely have to go to Ian's fam. Check it out:

UPDATE: The NWT Mining Heritage Society has posted pictures of the event on its website. There is a great one of my friend Adrian and me. Without knowing it, he and I dressed up as a couple. He is Jock McMeekan, the editor and publisher of the Yellowknife Blade. We found out upon arriving at the party that in 1941, Mildred Hall married McMeekan. It turned out to be a fun coincidence.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A dozen pink flamingos

Monday and Tuesday were stressful days. Tuesday was Ian's birthday, so of course I left my planning until Monday.
I guess you could say I started planning on Sunday night, if you consider sitting in my roommate's doorway frantically biting my nails planning.
It's so funny, I plan everything else in my life well in advance. I lay out an outfit the night before. I used to lay out what I was going to have for breakfast. I often have a list of what to pack a week in advance of a trip. Actually, I have a list for everything.
But, for some reason, when it comes to things like birthday presents, and paperwork, I often find myself scrambling at the last minute.
Anyways, such was the case Sunday night, but thankfully with the help of my roommate, we came up with a plan. The flamingo plan.
Ian and I had had a talk about pink lawn flamingos in the not so distant past and my roommate said something about someone in her family being pranked with flamingos ... and it all came together.
So on Monday after work, I hopped in the car and searched the city for 22 of the lawn ornaments - a task that turned out to be a lot more difficult than it should have been.
I first went to Home Depot, but it was closed. Then I went to Canadian Tire, but they didn't have any. Then it was off to Walmart, where again they didn't have any. I was about to give up and was on my way home when I thought of one last place: Arctic Farmer. So I zipped across town to my last resort and as I walked in the garden shop, I came face to face with flamingos.
Seeing the price tag for the boxes of two, I started debating whether is the best use of my birthday funds, but finally I caved and bought six boxes - 12 flamingos.
Luckily for me, my friend was behind the till so I got a bit of a deal and I had help carrying them to my vehicle. From there, it was all about plotting the perfect scheme. I decided it would be best to take all of the plastic birds out of their boxes so they would be easier to carry to Ian's house in the morning.
Next, I blew up balloons and then I hid everything away in a closet.
In the morning, I woke up extra early, got ready, packed up all of my goodies and headed over to his house, less than a block away. On the walk, I was greeted with many strange grins and questioning looks. I guess that's to be expected when you're carrying smiley face balloons and a dozen flamingos.
When I arrived at Ian's house, I got straight to work while an older couple across the street watched and drank their morning coffee. In about 15 minutes, I had all 12 flamingos and nine balloons in place.

And then came the fun part, waking Ian up. I knew what time his alarm would go off, so I crept into his room just in time for him to wake up. He said he'd forgotten it was his birthday until I wished him a happy one. At that point, I couldn't even deal with being stealthy, so I told him he had to get up to see my surprise. So in his housecoat, he came outside and immediately started laughing. All in all, I'd say it was a great success. He even got a birthday kiss out of the deal.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trees galore

While in Kelowna for a visit last week, everywhere I went, my boyfriend would point and ask, “What kind of tree is that?”
I have to admit, trees aren’t my strong point, so I wasn’t much help. It was actually pretty shameful how few I could actually identify. And Ian wasn’t afraid to point that out or express his disappointment, especially since he knows all of the trees that grow in Yellowknife. You know, all eight species.
Ian’s fascination with Kelowna’s trees didn’t waver, despite my lack of knowledge, so when we went to a used bookstore and my sister found a guide to identifying the trees of North America, Ian was all over it.
He actually carried it around with him the entire weekend. We went for dinner, the book was there. We went for a hike, the book was there. We went shopping, the book was there.
And with it in hand, we stopped every few feet, pulled off pine cones and examined needles and leaves. But that’s not where it ends, then it’s a matter of finding the right leaf, flower, bark and fruit in the book, and if all goes well, you determine what kind of tree is standing before you.
This should be easy, but the pocketbook was from 1979 and the sketches were poorly drawn, so in the end, we managed to name two of the 10 trees we attempted to identify. One was a weeping willow, and the other, a trembling aspen.
We couldn’t name them all, but it was satisfying to name a couple. Maybe that’s a sign that tree identification should become a new hobby. But if that’s the case, maybe it’s time for a better book. One made in the last decade, rather than 30 years ago.
To the bookstore I go.
Here's a photo from our visit. Ian's attempting to collect a pine cone.
It kind of looks like he's levitating, but he actually jumped...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Too many plans, too little time

This city is crazy. The people here live the busiest lives. It's incredible. If I don't have at least three Facebook invites a weekend, it seems slow. I don't know how people do it, but somehow my friends manage to hit everything in one weekend. There's no prioritizing or picking and choosing. You just make time for every event.
This weekend though, I'm being forced to decide.
Either I can go to a cabin or I can do one of a thousand things in town.
Okay, not a thousand things, but I do have a number of options.

Help me decide. Here are my choices...

1. Attend a one-year in Yellowknife anniversary party for three lovely ladies.
2. Dance it up at Solar Sonic, an electronic festival.
3. Go to the boyfriend's place for his weekly gathering of friends.

1. Go see Bridesmaids with the girls.
2. Check out an art exhibit called The Views of Two.
3. Attend a charity open mic night.
4. Watch my friends' brother perform at a bar.

1. Get together with a group of beautiful women for a clothing swap.
... okay that's it for Sunday, but still, how's a girl to deal?

I mean, of course I could say no to everything and just stay home for a relaxing weekend, but then I would hear the stories and see the pictures and be sad that I missed all the fun... and the drama.

Last weekend, I went to Kelowna for a visit, which was amazing, but by the time I was back, it's like I had been gone for weeks. So much had happened. It was like being in B.C. meant I was hiding under a rock without contact with the world. I felt like I had to interview all of my friends on Monday and Tuesday to ensure I was fully up to date on the goings on of the previous weekend.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, staying in really isn't an option. It's just more tiring being filled in after the fact.
So what should I do with my weekend? Go to the cabin and have to be filled in on what happened in town or stay in town and have to be filled in on what happened at the cabin?

Man, maintaining a social life is exhausting!