Dose of Awesome # 285

I need to interrupt my tales of the John Muir Trail to write about the awesome with which I’ve been blessed over the past few weeks since I returned to Kuujjuaq. I’ve not found much time to write, let alone even think about writing, so much has been going on. But, thanks to a long weekend and gloomy weather that goes oh so well with pj’s, coffee and my blog, I feel inspired to write.

I returned to Kuujjuaq on the 9th of August, and was swept away by all the beginning-of-a-new-school-year awesome. Potlucks and lunches allowed me to bond with colleagues, and meet new teachers. Kuujjuaq’s annual Aqpik Jam music festival allowed me to enjoy four nights of great live music from artists from all over the arctic. A birthday full of celebrations with close friends sent me into my 33rd year with so much love.

My return to work was rejuvenated and filled with the excitement of setting up a new classroom and getting ready for a year with new kids. This year I am teaching sixth grade – a lovely class of 11 students whom I’ve gotten to know quite well over the past few years since moving to Kuujjuaq. We’ve been back to school two weeks now, and we’re off to a great start.

Two weekends ago, I was given the opportunity to spend a few days hiking and camping in Pingualuit National Park. Pingualuit is a 1.5 million year old crater believed to have formed when a meteor hit the earth. It is also said to have the purest water in the world. I drank it, and it’s delicious.

In the spring, I’d put my name on the waiting list to take this trip, but I’d resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn’t get to go. The trip was full, and since I’d had the chance to go to Kuururjuaq last year, open spaces would be given to people who hadn’t gone before (as far as I understood). But, luck was on my side, a spot opened up at the last minute, and I received a phone call two days prior to departure.

Accepting the opportunity, a small group of us (7 teachers and 2 women who work elsewhere in the community) boarded a chartered Twin Otter bound for Kangiqsujuaq (a small village approximately 2 hours’ flight north of Kuujjuaq). There, we met Maali Tukirqi, who picked us up at the airport and gave us a tour of the village (which started at the Nunavik Parks office and Pingualuit Interpretive Centre, and included a drive around the village, a stop at the beach to see the iceburg, and shopping for snacks at the Northern Store).

An hour later, we were back in the plane and on our way into the park, and less than an hour after that, we’d made 3 gut-wrenching swoops over Manarsulik camp’s tiny landing strip (the landing strip is a short clearing in the tundra covered with gravel, which is not maintained so much as cleared by the swoops of the plane before it lands). Excited, we were settled into our charming little cabin on the lake before dinner and a little walk to an archaeological site not far from the camp showing where camps used to be.

The hike around the crater took 8 hours, much of which was sunny and with just enough wind to keep the bugs at bay. Hiking together in the beginning, we enjoyed great conversation and a picnic lunch at the halfway mark. Afterward, we spread out a bit more and hiked at our own pace, enjoying the quiet and solitude as it came.

We got back to camp just in time for an amazing sunset and a beautiful rainbow over our camp as we ate, chatted and played numerous rounds of Yahtzee together.

We were hit by stormy weather the next day, which put a damper on our plans to qajak on the lake and go on a smaller hike. Our flight also got cancelled, giving us another day at the camp. I took the opportunity to work on my sewing project and read almost an entire book (something I don’t get to do in one day very often). We were running out of food, but our guides were generous and brought out all kids of country food – tuttuvinik (caribou), nikkuk (dried caribou) and mattaq (beluga) filled our stomachs that night.

The wind was strong and shook our cabin all through the night, and, though the fog lifted, it still gusted well into the next day. Fortunately, for the sake of work, a classroom that needed to be set up by the following afternoon, a grocery order full of frozen food that was scheduled to be delivered to my house in Kuujjuaq that afternoon, and a few things I had planned over the next few days, we were able to fly out. Our plane arrived at Manarsulik around 3 pm. It was bumpy, but we arrived in Kuujjuaq 2.5 hours later safe and sound.

Awesome was the opportunity, the adventure, and the fact that everything works out, even when they don’t go as planned.


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!

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 129

1. Awesome was an extra day of weekend, which I used to do all the weekendly things that I did not have time to do over the rest of the weekend. Thank you, and happy birthday Queen Victoria!

2. Awesome was getting a solid start on my packing – 4 boxes packed and a good deal of cleaning now means, God willing, a smooth and stressless move to Kuujjuaq.

3. Awesome was an early morning kickboxing workout. It’s not often that I get to work out in the morning, but when I do, I love them because they feel so much better than evening workouts.

100 Days of Awesome – Day 58

1. Awesome was waking up yesterday morning knowing that this weekend was a 2-day weekend, and feeling completely determined to enjoy it. Last week, I worked Saturday as it was a pedagogical day, and by about Tuesday, I was feeling the effects of that extra work day. Yesterday morning, I slept in (just a little), and didn’t rush into anything, because I didn’t have to. Then I cleaned, cooked, read and went for a run.

2. Awesome was going for a run, and doing so in weather sunny and mild enough to ditch my toque and mittens.

3. Awesome was finally getting around to sitting down and writing a letter to my friend Paul – something I started several weeks ago  but wanted to re-do, as much as changed since then (thus nullifying much of what I’d written at the time). Now, an hour and a half, a cramped hand and a pen with little ink remaining later, it’s ready for mailing.

But it wasn’t only finishing the letter that felt awesome – it was the process. There’s something about writing things down on paper that makes them feel a bit more real or a bit more tangible. This letter was all about some pretty exciting stuff that, though still a little uncertain, I’m completely ready for. Writing Paul’s letter was the first time I’d laid everything on the table, in writing, regarding mission September, and doing so made it feel significantly less like a pipe dream and more like something that is going to happen.

100 Days of Awesome – Day 51

1. Awesome was starting my day with a staff pancake breakfast. It was a Saturday pedagogical day – a day the school board allowed us to work to give us an extra travel day at Easter – so the pancake breakfast not only brought people together, it eased the pain of a weekend cut short.

2. Awesome was not only finishing my students’ report cards, but also updating all of their “busy books” (their books of assorted worksheets to work on when they finish the task of the lesson (I have 4 students who, just as I’m beginning to get the rest started, finish their work, even when I differentiate it for them to make it a little more challenging, so their busy books will eliminate some of the disruptions).

3. Awesome was coming home after work, immediately putting on my pyjamas, curling up on the couch and indulging entirely in comfortable lethargy and a marathon of TV after an active and exhausting (both physically and mentally) 6-day work week. It’s not very often I do this, but when I do, it feels nice.

Awesome # 281: Long Weekends

As of 3 minutes ago, I am officially finished my teacherly duties, and free to delight in a long weekend. After a very satisfyingly productive pedagogical day full of marking, planning, preparing and finishing report cards, I can safely say that my long weekend will be filled with as many awesome long-weekendish things as I can fill it with, with absolutely no need to do or think about anything work-related. It’s a perfect conclusion to a busy first term, and the perfect “prefix” to an even busier second term.

Happy long weekend! I hope you all have an awesome one!