Dose of Awesome # 238

1. Awesome was an evening of beading, painting nails, and ’90’s music with friends. I finally learned how to make beaded ulu earrings. Here are my first:

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2. Awesome was snowshoeing, despite shitty snowshoes. I had to have tripped over my own two feet at least 9 times (4 of which included the times one of the snowshoes flew off my feet because the buckles refused to stay tight). I’m not going to lie, this made me grumpy. However, I am thankful for the mild weather and another opportunity to go.

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3. Awesome was putting up, and decorating our first Christmas tree. Not only is this our first Christmas tree together, it’s the first Christmas tree I’ve ever put up in my own place.

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Dose of Awesome # 237

I tried posting earlier this week, but the website did not seem to be working.

1. Awesome was taking a hobby to the next level. I’ve been doing observational drawings for years now, off and on. I started drawing from photos in magazines when I was in high school. Then, after an undergraduate and BEd-long hiatus, I got back into it when I moved to Tasiujaq. But for the most part, I never drew from my own photos. Nor did I (with the exception of a portrait I drew for an ex boyfriend, and a portrait I drew for a friend) draw for other people.

After finishing my latest personal project – a portrait of a Quechua woman that I’d taken in Ollontaytambo during my 2011 travels in Peru (below) – I was inspired to start advertising. I placed an ad on a couple of Kuujjuaq’s Facebook groups, and promptly received a request from a woman to have two portraits done of her family. I am about two thirds finished the second.

Quecha Woman

2. Awesome was an invitation to a mid-week dinner/taima party, which was last night, with great people and delicious food.

3. Awesome is it being Friday, with an awesome-filled weekend ahead.

4. Awesome is the fact that Christmas vacation is just one week away!

Dose of Awesome # 236

I went snowshoeing this afternoon with some friends. It was -33 degrees Celsius with windchill (and winds blowing at least 50 km/hour). We managed, most of the time, to be hiking away from the wind. However, we couldn’t avoid walking into the wind for ever.

1. Awesome was the moment, after 30 minutes of hiking blind, that my glasses unfrosted – revealing a world in which I would no longer trip over my own two feet every third step; in which I was no longer forced to move in slow motion, and could hike at a normal pace. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful 3 hours of snowshoeing.

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2. Awesome are spontaneous funny theme nights with my boyfriend. Like meatloaf and Meatloaf.

3. Awesome is a lucky streak. I’m not one to buy lottery tickets or play BINGO. I never go to casinos, nor do I really gamble in any other way. On the rare occasion that I do, however, purchase raffle tickets or enter my name into a draw of some sort, I never win. However, this week I did. Four times – three 50$ gift certificates (one for the restaurant and 2 for the local art store), and a card with a 50$ bill inside. Perhaps I should try my luck more often.

Dose of Awesome #235

I consider myself a morning person – a person who wakes up with a list of things to do every morning. Not things that I necessarily need to get done, but things that I want to get done.

As a morning person, I’ve read many a book (many of which I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise), learned the vast majority of the French that I know, ran countless kilometers, and made art. As a morning person, I’ve found a balance between work and pleasure.

I feel like I’m losing my morning person-ness. On top of that, I’ve been grumpy as hell. Perhaps it’s winter. Perhaps it’s pre-Christmas teacher exhaustion. Perhaps it’s one, or a million other things. But, the past few weeks I’ve woken up severely lacking in the enthusiasm that usually drives me in the wee hours of the day. Determined to re-enthuse my inner morning person, and brighten up my disposition, I thought it was a good time to re-establish the habit of writing about the things that are awesome, first thing in the morning. I hope to make this a habit again.

1. Awesome is my backyard. It’s winter again, and time to take out my snowshoes. I’ve gone once already, and plan to go again tomorrow. I’m thankful for Kuujjuaq’s beautiful and endless tundra.

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2. Awesome are free, or near-free books. I’ve been on a reading frenzy as of late, and n the past week I’ve acquired 6 new-to-me books, for less than $1.50.

Some titles I’d recommend are:

-Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh
-Beyond the Sky and the Earth by Jamie Zeppa
-A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter
-A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout -Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway and,
-A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

3. Awesome is yoga. I did yoga regularly when I lived in Tasiujaq, but, upon moving to Kuujjuaq, grew more inclined to sweat my way through an hour on the cardio machines at the forum. After 3 years of no other option than a home workout, I was glad to live in a town with a public gym again – thus growing out of the habit of doing yoga.

However, after my trek in the Dolomites, I had a hard time going back to the gym and actually enjoying it. An hour trudging away on a machine and going nowhere used to feel good. Now it’s just boring. Excruciatingly boring. Exercise shouldn’t be that much of a mind-game.

So, I took a little hiatus from the gym to work out at home. In the meantime, I rediscovered my love of yoga. Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga. It’s still a great workout, but so much more than that.

Dose of Awesome # 234

I’m back in Kuujjuaq after an amazing vacation in Italy and Austria. Starting with two days in Venice, my vacation took me from the tourist-ridden canals of Italy, through the Dolomites and up into the Austrian Alps before returning back to Venice and flying to Montreal for a day of pampering, shopping and all you can eat sushi with a friend.

My vacation was relaxing, challenging, refreshing, productive and a lot of fun – everything I needed!

5Venice canal from the Rialto bridge.

1. Awesome are mountains, and the opportunity to hike approximately 160 kilometres on steep mountain terrain (think: 1000 metre ascents and just as crazy descents) over the course of the last 3 weeks.

After a few days in Venice (which I explored, but did not take very many photos of because I’d been there and done that already, two years ago), I went to the mountains.

First, I hiked alone on the trails of Domegge, to a rifugio where I drank a tiny, yet delicious caffe americano while watching cattle frollic in the fields surrounded by a panorama of the tallest, most rugged mountains I’d seen to date. I continued my hike to another rifugio where I had an amazing mountain lunch of meats and cheeses, and complimentary shots of grappa with the hosts.

11View from the dining room at Albergo Adelia – the albergo where I stayed during my solo time in Domegge.
9Trail marker showing the way to the rifugio, on my solo hike.10Rifugio Padova – where I drank coffee and watched cattle run on my mid-morning coffee break.

Then I hiked 120 kilometres – from Cortina to Bolzano – with a group of people I did not know. Like the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Camino Inca, I booked the trek through G Adventures, so as to enjoy the expertise of a mountain leader, and the ease of having all accommodations and most food taken care of for me.

For the duration of the trek, life was like this: wake up, pack up, eat delicious gourmet mountain rifugio breakfast, set out on a 7 to 10 hour day of hard, steep hiking, arrive at next rifugio, shower, relax over beer/wine/coffee with new friends, read, relax some more, eat fabulous 3- to 4-course mountain rifugio meals, sleep, repeat. It was wonderful.

16Lake at our first rifugio.19Rifugio Croda da Lago and its fantastic view – where we slept on our first night.24Foggy second day of hiking.15My favourite parts were the ascents (this was at a little flat bit of a big ascent).
29Amazing view at our second rifugio – Rifugio Scoiattoli.

33Beautiful view of the valley.40Another beautiful view of another beautiful valley.
43The group, trekkin’ away.
13Lunch break!
35The views just kept getting better and better.
44The group, just before the rain came.52The group at the summit – the highest point of our trek.

After the trek, I continued my trip with more solo hiking – once up the Alpe di Siusi, from Seis to Compach, and another time up one of the mountains in the Austrian Alps near Innsbruck.

2. Awesome was sightseeing in a new city.

I spent three full days at the end of my vacation in Innsbruck, Austria. For the first two days, it rained, and though I did go on a hike during one of the rainy days, I took this also as an opportunity to spend lots of times in museums – including the Alpine museum (a museum dedicated entirely to alpine mountain climbing and hiking).

57Part of the alpine museum in Innsbruck, Austria.
58Cool houses across the river in Innsbruck.
59Innsbruck’s old city.
62View of the city of Innsbruck from the top station of the Nordkettenbahnen cable car.

3. Awesome is a productive day of getting ready to return to the north, in Montreal. My list of things to do included getting a haircut (a priority, since my last one was last December and my hair was growing large and out of control), get a pedicure (after 3 weeks of trekking in the mountains, this was also a priority), buy some new clothes, and see a friend or two. I only had one day, and was very lucky, as it turned out to be a holiday and things very well could have been closed, but they weren’t.

In one day, I managed to cross everything off my list, and then some.

Dose of Awesome # 233

1. Awesome is being on summer vacation. I’m blessed with eight solid weeks of relaxation, creativity and adventure, which I will divvy my time between Kuujjuaq, Italy and Austria. My plans for this summer include lots of drawing, studying French (I recently purchased all five levels of Rosetta Stone français, and have just finished two and a half of them), hiking on the tundra, hiking mountains, reading copious novels, and then topping things off with Aqpik Jam (Kuujjuaq’s big annual music festival) and new teacher orientation in August.

2. Awesome was finishing a new drawing – and what’s awesome about this particular drawing is that I drew it from a photograph that I took myself. Thus, I’m free to make prints (which I’m actually in the process of trying to do) for selling.

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I’m currently working on another – a portrait of a woman and baby that I took in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in 2011.

3. Awesome was an evening spent recently with new friends, not only eating delicious food, but also having the opportunity to relive some fond and entertaining memories of my travels around Canada (particularly the Yukon and Northwest Territories), and to hear, from the others, some tales of their own.

And since I meant to publish this a few weeks ago (procrastinator, I am), awesome was another similar evening, spent with more new friends.

4. Awesome was moving into my new house. Until recently, I’d been living on a slightly rundown, poorly soundproofed bottom apartment in a complex of four. Used to living in the big duplex in Tasiujaq (with my very quiet neighbour), I struggled to adjust to hearing every footstep and pin drop (amplified tenfold) above my head.

Now, I live in a lovely two bedroom house – not even a duplex, but a house – kept sparklingly clean and well maintained by the previous tenant. Seizing the opportunity to move as soon as possible, I spent the better half of two days packing, and only one unpacking. Since, I’ve found great joy in just spending time here, doing all the things that I do – something I’d not really been able to do at the other place.

Dose of Awesome # 232

1. Awesome was surviving what was literally one of the most demanding endeavours I’ve ever involved myself in. And not only that, I did so with some great memories, a desire to do it again next year, and some ideas as to how I can help it run more smoothly if I do. Le Grand Dèfi Pierre Lavoie took myself, another teacher (from Kangiqsualuujjuaq), and 30 secondary students from 5 villages on the Ungava Coast of Nunavik to Quebec City this past weekend. From there, we ran the 270 kilometres to Montréal relay-style.

After an opening ceremony, we began our relay at approximately 8 AM Saturday. We ran constantly as a team until about 7 PM – when we took a 3-hour break in Trois-Rivières. Then we started up again and ran straight through the night, until approximately 5 PM the next day.

Kuujjuaq 116Team Nunavik in Quebec City

Kuujjuaq 119Team Nunavik on the news.

Kuujjuaq 113Team Kuujjuaq

Kuujjuaq 115The relay

2. Awesome was reaching a new record – running 20 kilometres in 2 days – thanks to Le Grand Dèfi.

3. Awesome was one last snowshoeing adventure of the season, before everything melted away literally within a couple of days. I’ve definitely found a new passion.
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4. Awesome was the end to that “too soggy to hike but no snow to snowshoe” phase of spring, and a 4-hour hike on the land yesterday afternoon.

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