I'm all packed and ready to go. I'm excited to be heading out. This semester has been both rewarding and challenging but given the crazy turnover we experienced I think we've made out about as well as could be hoped for under the circumstances. As always I check the weather forecast obsessively. So far so good. The weather out at Nanisivik is calling for "shallow fog". Well, as long as it stays shallow I don't think I'll have too many flight issues.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Today we reach shortest "day" of the year. For the first time since moving to Nunavut 4+ years ago I have the good fortune of being around to witness the event. In past years, I was either leaving the day of or the day before the Winter Solstice. At any rate, I had hoped to get a decent picture but after a span of clear days, it was cloudy with a hint of wind today which put the axe in that plan. Not that it matters all that much. I could just as well take a picture tomorrow and there would be no appreciable difference in the amount of light. All the newbies on staff here marvel at the phenomenon of 24-hour dark. I do my best to play the part of the cagey veteran and pretend not to notice though I think they are catching on. At any rate, we can all look forward to the sun's return around February 6. The sun will rise above the horizon on that date and while I'm not sure if the sun will be visible here in town because of the mountains on the other side of Adams Sound, I can always "cheat" (as I shamelessly did last year) by heading up the bluffs behind town for a sneak peak.
We are now all finished for Christmas Break at the school. This morning we braved the chilly weather by going around town in small groups to sing a few carols to local elders. We visited one of the elders (who comes into our school quite a lot to help out with the cultural program) inside a traditional dwelling called a qammaq. These were traditionally made of earthen walls with a roof of caribou skin or sealskin. Today they are often made of wood as this one was and resemble a small cabin. It was my first time inside one and I regretted not having my camera with me. It was small and cozy. Two qulliit (traditional lamps) kept the interior toasty warm.
After lunch Santa made an appearance to hand out Christmas presents to children. Exams were all finished up in the high school so I did a bit a "getting ready" work for the next semester and helped my younger colleagues supervise the students. Some played games or watched movies and many were undergoing insane sugar highs. But it is that time of year. It was a lot of fun to see all the smiling faces.
Here our principal, er, Santa hands out presents to a class of primary students.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I inevitably get asked what the temperature is like here this time of year. Here is your "aha" moment. Unlike Toronto, we don't call out the army here. We just reach for the parka and the sealskin mitts and take it all in stride. We usually don't get much in the way of wind. It seems to pick up a bit at night but I still find it quite tolerable.
I did have to chuckle this morning at the CBC. They were discussing what parts of Canada would experience a "white" or a "green" Christmas. The map graphic they put up on the screen showed much of Baffin Island in a green shade. I know of course they meant we likely won't have snow on Christmas, not that we'll have a green Christmas, but it gave me a smile.
I also see that they will be doing a story tomorrow night from aboard the CCGS Amundsen on what its like to live and work in 24-hour dark conditions. I can tell you its interesting. I don't really think about it that much because I'm more or less used to it. Several people have remarked to me this past week that it doesn't seem to be as dark this year as in past years. When I thought about it, it seems to me it was darker here last year too. Its been clear here most of the week, thus the lower temps, slightly brighter skies and the good prospects of catching my Christmas flight out on Saturday.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sigh.....33 today. Just for the heck of it (ok, I'm a die-hard history buff) I decided to do a bit of digging to see who else shared a birthday with me. Lets see.....
1. Franz Ferdinand (1863) - uh oh......wasn't he assassinated? I'm not off to a good start here.
2. Joseph Stalin (1878) - hmm, this wasn't what I envisioned when I started this list.
3. Ty Cobb (1886) - ah....that's better.
4. Romeo LeBlanc (1927) - gotta have at least one Canadian on this list.
5. Keith Richards (1943) - Rock on.
6. Steven Spielberg (1946) - cool.
7. Brad Pitt (1963) - well, I think he's a good actor.
8. DMX (1970) - ARGH!!!
9. Trish Stratus a.k.a Patricia Anne Stratigias (1975) --WOO HOO!
10. Christina Aguilera (1980) - ARGH!!! x10
Hmmm.....quite an interesting list.
Well, this is the best I can come up with at the moment. My concentration level is waning which is either 1. a sign of my growing anticipation of seeing my family at Christmas or 2. an early sign of senility. I suppose only time will tell.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
My family in Ontario always kids me that whenever I visit I bring the cold weather down with me. This year, from what I've seen on the news, Mother Nature has jumped the gun on us and dumped tons of snow on Ontario and the Maritimes. In past years, almost without fail, I arrive at my parents, and within a few days either the mercury takes a nosedive or the skies open up with several inches of snow. I can only recall one Christmas break in recent years when this wasn't the case. It was +10C with nary a flake on the ground and there I was in Belleville searching for a pair of cross-country skis. By the looks of things, there will be more snow down there when I arrive (weather permitting of course) then there is here. (I could make a smug comment about how Ontarians need to toughen up but its a myth that the North gets huge snowfalls. Its too dry for large amounts to be produced.)
At any rate, I'm watching pictures of the carnage on tv here and it looks pretty surreal. But don't blame me. :)
Friday, December 14, 2007
I tried to ignore this. Honestly I really did try. We usually don't get Nunatsiaq News up here but I did bump into this unhelpful letter to the editor earlier in the evening. I could ignore it but really, in the end, there is a part of me that just can't let insane stupidity like this go unchallenged.
NLCA Benefits "white Nazis" only?
My fellow Inuit, the white man is now laughing joyously.
He wants us to fight a fight amongst ourselves.Come and join our
new fight, the fight to regain our independence and autonomy.
Yes, they will say that we cannot control our destiny and desires
because we are only good at fighting amongst ourselves.We are to
them that our ancestors had managed to survive for centuries
without any assistance from the nations of this planet. My fellow Inuit,
in less than a century the white man has managed with calculated
motives to wipe out what held our nation and families together. What we
must now realize first and foremost is the notion that "fighting for a nation"
and "running a country" are two completely seperate entities. We must
not depart from this proven ideology. The Nunavut land claims agreement
is only for the benefit of the white nazis not for the Inuit nation.
Join the good fight that is coming soon.
Lootie Apak Kooneeliusie
I'm not really sure what this ignoramous hopes to accomplish by penning this trash. Does this individual know anything at all about Nazism?? I'm sure Hitler would have stuffed this writer into an oven had he been given the opportunity. I have a grandfather that enlisted to fight against the Nazis. An old highschool buddy of mine just returned from Afganistan where Canadian troops are fighting against an intolerant regime.
Who is the idiot that even saw it fit to publish this nonsense? Certainly, the "journalists" at Nunatsiaq News must have slept through their ethics classes at journalism school. As for the writer's disatisfaction with the NLCA, I do know this much: it was voted on by Inuit from all three regions of Nunavut before coming into being. I assume this included the writer of this diatribe as well. I am not a land claim beneficiary. Heck, I was still in high school back in Ontario when this vote took place. So I'm not really sure how I can be blamed for this.
Perhaps the writer is frustrated at the stalled devolution talks. But let's face it, the feds won't devolve any powers to the territory until it gets its financial house in order. Given that the finance minister has recently resigned over failure to disclose his connections to companies that have received GN loans........I guess it doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to connect the dots on that one.
Snide remarks aside though, I'm not really sure what else to say. I live in Nunavut. I am NOT a "guest". I am NOT a visitor. Nunavut is my home. And it deeply sickens and saddens me that there are people out there like this goof that feel this way.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
As one of the new teachers reminded me today, we are now almost (almost) half way through the dark season. Every year, I always feel a bit lethargic once December rolls around and this year seems to be no exception. My circadian rhythm is a bit screwed up but luckily Christmas Break is just around the corner, a welcome opportunity to recharge the old batteries. I feel a bit irritable and sluggish like everything is running in slow motion. It's as if someone snuck up and jabbed me with a needle of ether. But I always get through it. I have to admit that Christmas Break has really snuck up on me this year. I was out of the community a couple times last month so it hasn't seemed like such a long haul from August to Christmas as in past years. It still hasn't dawned on me that I only have a couple teaching days left before next week's exams and Christmas festivities at the school. Where has the time gone?
For the curious, the "little behind" in the picture above was on the side of a church of all places that I came across in Brno last July. One of the many masons involved in the church's construction created this small figure as a parting shot toward a fellow mason who took over his job after he was fired.
Posted by Way Way Up at 22:18
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I've finally managed to read through a really good book I picked up in Iqaluit over a year ago. I started it a few times but now that its the dark season reading time faces stiff competition from my music collection, the odd DVD, poker night, blogging and my work (of course). It was a great read, a biography on RCMP Sergeant Harry Stallworthy. The book makes the point that it is unfortunate Stallworthy isn't as well known in the annals of Canadian history as say Sam Steele (no relation to me) or WJD Dempster. For all his northern experience though, you think he would be. He spent a number of years leading patrols on Ellesmere Island, participating in the Ellesmere Land Expedition in the 1930's, searching for a lost German expedition, and reaching some of the northern-most regions of Canada.
My interest in his career was especially piqued when I learned he had spent time in a couple places my teaching career has taken me. He served as a Staff Sergeant at the detachment in Fort Smith and also spent time on the DEW Line at FOX-5 located near the community of Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island). Small world - and a very interesting read.
The only other big happening in town this week was the municipal election. Normally these are quite muted affairs and I generally don't pay a great deal of attention to them. Actually I'm pretty sure this is the first local election I've ever participated in. Since this is the longest I've lived in the same community since leaving Windsor and since I knew a few of the people who were running I figured I'd go sign my "X".
I have a bad voting record. Usually the person I vote for doesn't win. Okay, I can't remember the last time the person I voted for ended up being the winner. (Sigh.....there's democracy for ya) My choice for mayor wasn't successful though I'm sure the winner will do a good job. There were 4 councillor positions up for grabs and only one of my choices made it onto council. Granted I only actually voted for 2 people since these were the two I knew best but still, it is a pretty lousy record for me. I'm thinking though this could be useful in the future if I ever lived in a place where candidates constantly harrass you at your front door during the supper hours for your vote. I'll just tell them I might be the last person they want to vote for them. So for any political hopefuls out there...its less of a headache for both of us if I don't vote for ya.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I admit it. I love cookies. If I don't have any, I buy, beg or bake, usually in that order. My favourite kind are gingersnaps. I love my mother's gingersnaps and one of the things I look forward to at Christmas time is the inevitable plateful that will find its way across my palate. I could seriously down an entire plate of the tastey little critters and not bat an eye. I'm not exactly sure where this weakness for cookies came from. Certainly this weakness isn't hurting my girlish 32-inch waistline. I am the only person I know of that can eat as many cookies as I can and not gain a single ounce of weight. Woman are jealous of this. In fact, I've mentioned this little ability of mine to many women throughout my university and working years. (This likely goes a long way toward explaining why I remain single.) At any rate, I'm working through a plate of peanut butter cookies at the moment. I made them myself. I wish I could say I they were whipped up from scratch, a product of my own creative imagination. But I can't. They're nothing fancy but still, they could just be the ultimate comfort food to while away the dark season.
Posted by Way Way Up at 22:00
Saturday, December 08, 2007
After a hectic November month I've finally managed to book my travel home for Christmas break. (Even more impressively, I did this on-line for once.) Barring any weather-related delays I should be back in southern Ontario on December 24th. Flying in the North is still a bit of an adventure despite the onset of modern air travel. It can also be a bit of a marathon. In order to get back to good old Campbellford, Ontario I have to negotiate the following:
1. take a cab from Arctic Bay to Nanisivik
2. hop a 3 hour flight from Nanisivik to Iqaluit
3. overnight in Iqaluit
4. fly from Iqaluit to Ottawa with stops along the way in Kuujjuaq, (northern Quebec) and Montreal
5. overnight in Ottawa
6. take a train from Ottawa to Belleville
7. meet my folks in Belleville for the 40 minute road trip to Campbellford
Returning to Arctic Bay, I pretty much do the same thing in reverse except that I have a direct flight from Ottawa to Iqaluit and will make a quick stop-over in Pond Inlet on the way up from there. (Of course this nice neat schedule operates under the assumption that the weather will be on my side.) So there you have it. Perhaps a little more complicated than the average trip but always worth it during the holidays. In my next life I think I will be some sort of travel agent.
PS - Happy Birthday Scott! Don't worry, I won't mention any numbers! See you all very soon!
Posted by Way Way Up at 11:16
Thursday, December 06, 2007
The past couple days have been tied up with meetings so my blog has been pretty quiet this week. Regular classes resume tomorrow and I'm finally starting to feel like we are in the home stretch. Only a couple more weeks until Christmas Break. (And as of yet I still haven't finalized my travel plans). Our meetings haven't been all that exciting. Nothing I haven't heard before. Once Nunavut's new education act comes into being, communities will have to choose which model of language instruction they want for their community. We also had to consider the supports our school would need to implement the chosen plan. So that was the crux of our meeting. Each community is in a different set of circumstances so a "one size fits all" solution isn't realistic. At this point it looks as though Nunavut will have its own education act by June of 2008. So its been a long time coming. Patience is the key word I suppose. The plan is that a 100% "made in Nunavut" curriculum will be fully in place by.......wait for it.........2019. With luck I will have the chance to implement it in my own classroom before I retire. I'm looking at a retirement sometime between 2025 and 2030 so there's still hope.
Speaking of long-term things, I have been giving a lot of thought to the future the past couple weeks, specifically my future in Nunavut. No worries, I don't have plans to go anywhere soon. I have, however, been giving a lot of thought to buying a piece of propety in town. There are 2 or 3 lots I like, one in particular. Of course I wouldn't really "own" the property outright. According to the land claim agreement, I would only be leasing it from the hamlet for a period of 99 years. Even should I defy the law of averages and see my 132nd birthday, something tells me that I won't care all that much about legal minutiae by then. Anyhow, for the moment its still a bit of a pipedream but we'll see how things develop. Lots sales don't happen very fast here but I still won't divulge the location of the lot of my dreams. Its top secret for now. True, it doesn't have a picket fence, green lawn or garden out the back but it is spacious and it does have a hell of a great view. And that suits me just fine.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Though the big lightbulb in the sky disappeared here in Arctic Bay almost a month ago I did get a chance to reaquaint myself with the glorious orb during last week's little jaunt to the Kivalliq. So this shot from the plane was the last sunset I'll see until I head down to Ontario for Christmas break. This shot was taken on our flight somewhere over Hudson Bay heading back to Iqaluit. Year five in Nunavut above the Arctic Circle and the dark season can still get to me. Don't worry, I'm not about to start drooling on you and reciting the alphabet backwards or anything like that. I'm sure I'll be just fine. I tend not to notice the darkness so much during the week when I'm in a (relatively) well-lit building. Weekends though, I do notice especially when cold weather tends to keep me indoors. Spending Christmas back in Ontario does break up the long stretch of inky darkness nicely, as the break falls just past the halfway point of the dark season. I'd like to think I'm made of tougher fibre living so far north of the treeline but still, there are times when I miss seeing the sun.
A few weeks back I was contacted by a young lady from the Education Faculty of my old alama mater, the University of WIndsor. The next issue of the faculty's magazine was focusing on issues of aboriginal education and they wanted to hear from someone "in the field." So I sat down for a conference call along with a principal from a small school in Yukon. I had read a draft copy of the article earlier on and was looking forward to seeing the finished product. Today it arrived in the mail. The inside cover featured two inuksuit and it was interesting to compare them. One was an inuksuk I photographed back in August at the top of King George and the second was from a sculpture garden along the Detroit River. As an adopted Northerner I love to see inuksuit in the different places around Canada I've visited (even if they do look a little out of place among trees and flowers). Anyhow, I was quite pleased with the article as it highlighted some of the unique challenges faced by northern educators.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Outside Rankin's airport.
Rankin is one of the few Nunavut communities with jet service. Most other communities are serviced by older Hawker-Siddely 748' s or the newer ATR's which entered service a couple years ago.
A twin otter braving the fierce winds.
Airport terminal. The terminal was built about 10 years ago and is surprisingly roomy.
Take-off. Rankin Inlet in all it's glorious flatness.
MUI has a fantastic gym. It was a great venue for badminton. The school is in fantastic shape and I was quite shocked to learn the building is around 30 years old. Not all that old by southern standards but structures in the North quickly show wear due to the elements and high usage.
Its difficult to tell where the town begins and the tundra ends when everything is covered in ice and snow but Rankin is in there somewhere.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Maani Ulujuk Illiniarvik - the high school we stayed at during badminton Territorials.
Afternoon moon over the town.
One of Rankin's biggest tourist attractions - the giant inuksuk. It wasn't quite as large as I thought it was going to be but still made for an interesting landmark. I would have climbed up closer to it if it wasn't for the deep snow around the rocks and the running shoes I was wearing.
An unusual sight greeted my eyes as I waited for my flight to take off from Rankin Inlet. I was standing in the terminal shooting the breeze with one of the other coaches when one of the kids piped up, "There's like 3 suns outside there.....really freaky." I popped my head out the door for a look and saw this......
I'm not 100% sure here, but I believe this "really freaky" thing is called a "sun dog". They are unique phenomena formed through some process of refracting or reflecting light or some other miracle of physics that my brain cannot grasp. I've seen the odd picture of these things over the years (mostly from up in Resolute Bay) but I never thought I'd actually see one in person. The picture doesn't quite do it justice. I had to stand out on the very edge of the parking lot to fit everything in and doing this in -30ish weather ain't one of the most comfortable of photo-taking situations.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
With badminton Territorials finished for another year I am now back home in Arctic Bay tonight. We ended up spending one night longer than planned in Iqaluit on the way back. Our flight was about 20 minutes out of Iqaluit when it had to turn around and fly back to the airport. Apparently there was a problem with getting one of the hatches closed. I was a bit irritated but I suppose feelings of annoyance are much better than being sucked out of an aircraft in mid-flight. Ah the joys and adventures of northern flying.
Anyhow, the tournament went quite well. I thought it was very well organized and the community of Rankin Inlet should be commended for its fine effort. We were treated to some great competition and I definitely learned alot about the game this past weekend. I took five players along and while no one from town qualified for the Arctic Winter Games, I have to say they did quite well for themselves. A couple of our boys lost round-robin matches to the 2 kids who ended up qualifying for AWG so I was pleased with that. 5 of the 12 medals went to players from Repulse Bay. Those kids were amazing and really put on a clinic for the crowd. We have one young lad here who is just 13 yet held his own against 15- and 16-year-olds. Give him some time and I know he'll be a force to reckon with in the future.
I didn't get to see much of Rankin while I was there but I did manage to get a few pictures that I'll try to post in the next couple days. I did get a chance to meet a couple other bloggers on my sidebar during my trip....small world.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sedlec Ossuary, just outside Kutna Hora was by far the most macabre place I've ever been to. I had been itching to visit ever since I had seen it on the DVD series "Long Way Around", a round-the-world motorcycle odyssey by British actors Ewan MacGregor and Charlie Boorman. It was one of places they visited in the Czech Republic that were featured on the DVD set, the others being Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge.
I was fascinated by how this place came to be and why so many people (or rather their remains) ended up there. The ossuary was built over a small church several centuries ago. As the story goes, one of the abbots, a man named Henry, paid a visit to the Holy Land in 1278. While there, he colected some earth from the site at Golgotha and returned with it, sprinkling over the graveyard beside the church. As word of this spread, many people, being the good little Catholics that they were, wanted to be buried there. The ensuing Black Death, along with the Hussite Wars of the 15th century, meant the church grounds were soon jammed packed with bodies. So many bodies in fact that the graveyard could hold no more. So an ossuary was built. When that filled up a man was hired to find a creative way of dealing with all the bones. The result is some rather bizarre bone ornaments decorating the wall of the ossuary.
All this got me thinking, especially after bumping into Greenpeace protesters on a hot, stuffy day in Brno. The bones, at Sedlec, while considered gruesome by some, are there in part due to the cultural leanings and belief system of the time. Inuit hunt seal as part of their culture and belief system. People often pass knee jerk judgements on the Inuit seal hunt. But I wonder what Inuit would think of human bones hanging off the walls. So really, which is more gruesome? Is either situation really "wrong"? Its all a matter of perpective.
Weather permitting, I will be heading down to Rankin Inlet this Friday for a few days to chaperone for Badminton Territorials. I wasn't originally supposed to go. In all likelihood I'm the worst badminton player in Nunavut. However, Monty has used up all his special leave days due to Indoor Soccer Regionals earlier this month. (We are only alloted 5 special leave days a year). I, on the other hand, have a number of days banked from previous years. So I'm quite excited to go (weather permitting). I have yet to visit any communities outside of the Baffin Region.
For those readers not in the know, there are 3 regions in Nunavut: Baffin (or Qikiqtani), basically all of Baffin Island plus a handful of other communities, Kivalliq (central Nunavut, which includes Rankin) and Kitikmeot (in the west). I will be in Rankin (weather permitting) Friday to Monday and spend a couple nights in Iqaluit on the trip home. As an added bonus, Territorials for Indoor Soccer will take place in Rankin Inlet this same weekend so I hope to catch a few games and learn a few things. It won't be the same without Arctic Bay of course but we'll get there.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The water tanks at our school hold something in the neighbourhood of 7000 gallons. After a few hours of flooding some of it made it outside, creating a mini skating rink.
This year's sealift brought in a lot of badly needed phys. ed. equipment. I hope it hasn't all been destroyed by this mishap. Here's hoping that as things dry out its not as bad as it looks.
Its starting to look a little better. Hard to believe that this morning a small waterfall was cascading down through these ceiling tiles.
I've learned to avoid the phrase "Now I've seen everything." During my career I've seen schools closed for many reasons - no heat, no water, blizzards, funerals and fire. I can now add flooding to the list. It was quite the mess that greeted us this morning. A window was left open in one of the primary classrooms. The high winds we experienced here over the weekend led to a pipe freezing which eventually burst, flooding the classroom and part of the hallway. The landing at the bottom of the stairs leading to our gym was also inundated with a few inches of water.
If this wasn't bad enough the water seeped down through the floor and into my house mate's room on the lower level. Water was still pouring through the ceiling when we arrived this morning and it felt like a sauna in there. Much of the ceiling tile was warped and sodden and the carpet was a soggy mess along with much of the school's brand new gym equipment which is stored there. A light fixture was dislodged from the ceiling and the school's electrical system was shorted out. Water was pouring out through the wall and outside the school as well. It sounded just like a waterfall. Thankfully our computer lab in the adjoining room was spared but it looks like quite the mess to clean up. I went searching for a mop and bucket to help get some of the water off the floor in the upstairs hall but was advised against this due to the hazards of electrocution.
With the power flickering off and on, there was little we could do at school this morning so most of us headed home for the day. So we get an unplanned day off, extending the weekend. I cringe to think about the state of those affected classrooms however, and the clean up that will be needed.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
....except for here. Tonight it seems every Baffin Island community is under either a blizzard warning or a snowfall warning with the sole exception of Arctic Bay. A massive storm front is on the move. Environment Canada hasn't issued any warnings for us but we have been experiencing some pretty fierce winds throughout the day along with snow, blown down off from the heights around town. The wind is only up around 30km/hour or so according to the Environment Canada website but it is enough to shake and rattle the house.......and wreak havoc with the satellite. Thank goodness for good old cable. Tonight is definitely a good night to hunker down indoors.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This week seems to have just flown by. I can't believe tomorrow will be Friday. We don't get much light here this time of year so perhaps my inner concept of "day" and "night" is all fouled up and that's what makes it feel as though the week has just evaporated on me. I was at the school until after 6pm because of parent-teacher interviews but the day didn't really seem any longer than usual. My meetings went well. As in the past I pretty much see all the parents I expect to see and I found the afternoon to be a positive experience. I'm a pretty familiar face around our school by now so parents and teachers know my expectations.
On another positive note, our basketball team returned this morning from Territorials in Baker Lake. The boys did quite well for themselves, placing 4th out of 12 teams. Most of the teams they faced were from communities with twice our population so for our size they did quite well for themselves. Good work boys!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I rarely take sick days. It's been awhile. I had a good little streak going but.....finally it came to an end today. I felt a bit queasy come lunch time so I decided to take the afternoon to recuperate at home. Nothing serious. I suspect the past month has just caught up with me as I've had a lot of things on the go with administrative duties and tournaments. I'm right as rain now but still.......grr...my streak of around 3 years without a sick day is in tatters. I suppose I am a bit of a workaholic (I've been accused of that in the past) which I attribute to the strong work ethic my parents instilled in me. I've reached the age though where health has become more important than silly records which I know mean nothing to no one other than myself. But hey, it was only a half day. For those of you keeping score, I think I'm now up to 4 full sick days spread out over 7 years. Its been about 3 and a half years since I took a full day off. That's got to count for something. :)
My principal offered to sub for me this afternoon since my afternoon classes tend to be quite small this time of year. This is the first time I've had a qualified sub in for me since my first year of teaching..........7 years ago.
I took a few short naps. Short is the important thing here. I was weary of falling into a deep sleep too early and messing up my circadian rhythm. The sun has been hidden by the mountains south of Adams Sound for the past few days and now I believe that as of yesterday the sun no longer rises. 24-hour "darkness" is now upon us. I use quotations here because even though the sun will remain below the horizon we will continue to get short stretches of usable outdoor light during the "day". Anyhow, I'm not sure where that little ramble came from.......perhaps as a result of not posting anything the past few days. Hmm....it is quite dark now so perhaps I should just clam up here and head to bed. No worries of sleeping in with my alarm clock. Yup....I'll do that.
Posted by Way Way Up at 20:24
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Bohemian spa town of Karlsbad has drawn a number of important visitors over the course of its history. Monuments to some of the greatest figures in Western history adorn the town.
A plaque to Czech composer Antonin Dvorak.
German poet Goethe.
The Czechs' greatest king Charles IV.
Czech nationalist composer Bedrich Smetana.
Beethoven statue in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad).
A special thank you to the kindly American gent who offered to take this picture of me with my boyhood idol! It made my trip!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
My time as Acting-VP is drawing to a close. We expect our Principal back here either tonight or tomorrow. The past two and a half weeks have been unique in many ways. I hope to post my thoughts on this in the near future when I can think a little more coherently. Needless to say, there were times I enjoyed it and times I did not but overall I have to count it as a positive experience. Having said this, I am anxious to get back into my regular routine. Its a challenge to plan for unqualified subs and try to stick to my long-range plans. Plus, I'd rather deal with kids than paperwork and silliness during my day.
Our two new staff members arrived in town while I was away in Iqaluit. Our grade 4 and 7 positions are now filled........finally. They seem to be fitting into the community nicely. Both students and parents are relieved to have qualified teachers in these classrooms. I popped over to see the new teachers the other night after my plane got in. Our grade 7 teacher spent a year teaching in Cape Dorset 6 or 7 years ago so it didn't take long to discover a few names of other teachers from around Nunavut that we both knew. Nunavut can be such a small place. On this same note, I was checking in my luggage at Iqaluit airport and discovered that the lady at the First Air counter is related to the owners of one of the grocery stores back in my home town. Small world.
The sun is quickly disappearing here. Very shortly from now it won't rise above the horizon. The sun will remain below the horizon until it reappears around the first week of February. I remember standing outside Inuksuk High School between soccer games and staring mournfully up at the glowing orb of the sun, knowing it will be awhile before I see it that high up in the sky again.
It is now the official start of long underwear season here - at least for me. Temperatures are sitting in the -20s at the moment making for a chilly walk to work. My big winter parka made its first appearance this morning as well. I bought a winter coat 7 years ago when I first moved north and had been wearing it for a couple days but I find it just doesn't cut the mustard like my big Resolute parka. Perhaps I'm not getting soft in my old age. I find I don't notice the cold as much as I used to. My tolerance must be rising. One new staff member remarked yesterday on how brave she thought I was for heading out for work without my snow pants. I don't know if its toughness or just laziness. I find it's a pain to constantly put them on and take them off. But even a few Inuk colleagues have remarked on the falling mercury. When an Inuk tells you its cold then you know it must be a wee bit nippy.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Our bronze medal boys after receiving their medals in Iqaluit. A few faces have a changed from last year's team but essentially this is our most successful sports team at our school - not that I'm partial or anything.
Group shot of the 3 Arctic Bay teams - 14-and-under boys and girls teams along with our 18-and-under girls coached by my housemate Monty. Two or three are missing due to the chaos that was the Inuksuk High School gym but most of the troops are here. I told my two teams they all graduated to playing in the 15-and-under division for next year. In addition, I'm hopeful of also having 13-and-under boys and girls teams for next year.
I'm really looking forward to building on their success. A fellow blogger commented on an earlier post of mine that "success breeds success". How very true. We have a few younger boys that told me today they would be interested in being part of a 13-and-under team for next year. I'm excited to see what happens and how how far they can go.
LIke many other Northerners I was quite shocked this morning to learn about the shooting death of Cst. Scott in Kimmirut last night. A few other Northern bloggers have posted on this so I don't know that I have too much more to add. Cst. Scott grew up not far from where I did. I pass close by his hometown of Lyn, Ontario when I take the train to my parents in June. It bothers me to think that this man was so young. At 20 years old your life has only just begun.
In small communities its pretty difficult not to get to know your RCMP members. They do tremendous work under difficult conditions. The RCMP as an organization may have taken a few knocks the past few years but having met many Mounties individually, I have nothing but respect for them. Many smaller communities only have 2 members and are basically on-call 24 hours a day. I can't imagine what it would be like to get call outs at any hour of the day. I've had my share of frustrating days teaching over the years but at least I can go home and not worry about having to wake and head over to the school at 3am.
I hope the community of Kimmrut doesn't get stained with a bad reputation because of this incident. I personally don't know anyone from there. I'm sure it has its problems just like any other community in Canada but it always struck me as a quiet out of the way place. It was for this reason that I considered transferring there a couple years ago to teach high school before moving here to Arctic Bay.
I have an uncle and a cousin who are RCMP officers and tonight my heartfelt condolences go out to the Scott family.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Our soccer teams returned tonight after another exciting and highly competitive Regional tournament. Both my teams played very well. The boys were expecting to finish a little higher but I was very proud of their efforts. They got knocked out in the semis in overtime in a tough match with Cape Dorset but managed to take the bronze. We definitely have a really good rivalry on the go with them as we beat them in a shootout last year to take the gold. There were a few tears after the match but being the good group they are they shake it off and look forward to competing in the 15-and-under division next year.
The 14-and-under girls held out well against some very stiff competition from the bigger communities, toughed out some bumps and bruises and were awarded with a bronze for their efforts. This is a group that has great potential for the future and I can't wait to see how they do next year. Iqaluit's team didn't seem to be the powerhouse this year and the smaller communities have really got their game going so I can't wait to see how the competition shapes up for 15-and-under next year. The girls faced them in the semis and only lost 2-0 which is awesome when you consider Iqaluit has 10 times our population. The days of getting blown out 10-0 our well behind them now and they know what they have to do to compete successfully Baffin's power house teams. We also had an 18-and-under girls team this year which brought home bronze as well. Congrats girls!
This was the biggest tournament yet, certainly the largest one I've ever been to. The competition was fierce. Iqaluit, as expected won 5 out of the 6 divisions. BUT........Arctic Bay was the only one out of the smaller communities that medalled in every division in which it had a team and that's a first for us. Pretty impressive when you consider that most of the communities we faced were twice our population.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Today was crazy busy with Hallowe'en activities taking place throughout the school in the afternoon. I got running around trying to finish up a few things before I leave at the end of the week so I didn't have time to get any pictures. But I was able to duck my head into a few classrooms and the smiles and laughter told me how the afternoon was going. Hallowe'en visitors started showing up shortly after 5pm. I don't know the exact number but I'm guesstimating I had in excess of 100 scarey visitors again this year. By 6:30pm I was cleaned out of goodies and the kids were starting the dwindle. There was a community gathering at the community gym so I was expecting a quiet night to allow me to focus on this weekend's tournament.
Just after 7pm I got a call from my housemate who is housesitting for our principal. Apparently, the alarm had been tripped at the school which then automatically called his house. Monty and I booted down on a 4-wheeler and checked all the doors. The gym is sectioned off from the rest of the school and was full of people for Hallowe'en events so I checked the door linking the gym to the school thinking someone beat through the door. This didn't seem very likely as our school is wired with cameras. A fellow would have to be just plain dumb to pull a stunt like that. I checked all the primary end doors while Monty checked the senior end. All the entrances were secure. Nothing. We were left scratching our heads. The number one suspect was found lying on the floor just past the junior high classrooms. It appears a banner left over from this afternoon's Hallowe'en bash had fallen off a wall and triggered the motion-sensitive alarms. We'll check the video cameras tomorrow just to be sure but unless we were visited by a ghost I'm pretty sure the fallen banner was the cause. How appropriate for a Hallowe'en night!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Its been quite interesting to see the workings of a school from an administrative point of view rather than that of a classroom teacher. I've learned a lot - though sometimes I find out a few things I wish I didn't know. But all in all, I can say my multi-tasking abilities have definitely improved and I am glad for the experience and the vote of confidence I have been given.
Quite a busy week this week with Halloween tomorrow, court proceedings currently underway in our community gym, teachers out with the bug and 3 staff (including myself) heading out at the end of the week for a soccer tournament. Court times are always interesting. Aside from the fact that it wipes out soccer practices right before our tournament (grr!), you notice students tend to act out a little bit more if they have relatives involved in the court proceedings. Halloween helps a bit since we can take a break from routine and run some fun activities in the afternoon, as we plan to do tomorrow.
Having a lot of Ill teachers can be a bit of a nightmare for administration depending on the time of day and the classes affected. We essentially have no qualified subs to work with and sometimes you can run through your entire substitution list and not find anyone available. This has happened a few times the past couple days so I've had to cover temporarily for ill staff members or use a classroom assistant. Last Friday afternoon I was my own substitute as no one was available to cover my afternoon classes while I filled in for our principal (I didn't know something like this was possible). At any rate, I expect Tim to be back by the time I return from Iqaluit next week so I can return to my regular duties. I've dealt with many big issues the past couple weeks about which I really can't say to much here. However, I do my best to deal with them keeping in mind that I am on "Acting Admin." and that there are many issues that simply too large for one person to solve on their own. Having said this though, if this same opportunity to help out the running of our school presented itself again in the future, I'd be game.
On another note, after a few minutes of happy anarchy I distributed all the soccer uniforms after class today to my young charges. They are all pumped (as am I) for the big tournament this coming week in Iqaluit. If all goes according to plan (and the weather cooperates!) we should be on a van and headed out to Nanisivik early Friday morning. This is the biggest tournament yet. 26 teams spread across 5 age divisions from 9 communities should be there. Something like 71 games will be played. And how will we do among all these numbers? I'm very confident that all 3 Arctic Bay teams will medal. It's just a matter of what colour those medals will be.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Here are a few pictures from the cardboard qamutik making in our school gym this past Friday. The basic idea was to have teams of 6 students design a qamutik (traditional Inuit sled) using only a large sheet up cardboard, a role of duct tape, a piece of rope and a little imagination. The students dove right into the challenge. They had an hour in which to design and build their sleds. A few teachers jumped into the fray to help a few of the younger teams finish their sleds within the one hour time limit so that they would be able to race later that morning. The kids tended to use 2 basic designs: 1) traditional qamutik design or 2) a flat sheet of cardboard with the front end bent, folded or curled up.
You have to have the team logo just right.
My roomate Monty helped out some grade 5's and 6's with their sled. I think this design finished 3rd in the races. The thing I liked about this sled was that the rope was actually just meant to be wrapped around the arms of the student riding it so that the kids pulling it would only be pulling the kid aboard rather than the entire contraption. (Less chance of the rope detaching or the sled disintegrating mid-race>)
This is more or less what a traditional qamutik looks like except of course they were made out of whale bone (or wood today).
Our grade 9 teacher Nick assists some younger students with their creation.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Quite a busy week for me this past week with all the goings-on at the school. After the Career Day on Thursday we had qamutik races in the schoolyard on Friday. I hope to get some pictures from that posted up shortly. I'm anticipating holding my acting-VP duties for one more week until our principal returns. The past couple weeks have indeed been challenging at times but I have gained some valuable experience. The most frustrating part (and one I didn't think would be that big of an issue) is just dealing with people. I consider myself a bit of an introvert but really, I have to step up to the plate of course in my new responsibility when "stuff" comes up. I think I've been doing a good job and I've received lots of positive feedback from a lot of the new young teachers on staff.
I find it a bit frustrating when people who are supposed to be educated and know better make ignorant or misinformed comments.......people with important roles within the community who really should know better. It really serves no purpose and only makes for hassles and hurt feelings. Friday afternoon my substitute didn't think it worth her time to inform me that she would be unavailable to sit in for me. So I was stuck with looking after my class and trying to help run the school at the same time. I went through the entire sub list and couldn't find anyone available. Fortunately, being Friday, my students were content to work away on some assignments or watch a DVD in class which saved me quite a bit of grief. Anyhow, as I mentioned, its been a good experience for me.
Next week will be a short one since I will be down to Iqaluit for the soccer tournament. Daylight Savings Time I believe is moved to next weekend which is a good thing. The tournament will need that extra hour. From what I've heard, this will be the largest indoor soccer tournament ever held, with about 71 games to be played, assuming none of the teams get weathered in. Speaking of weather, its been getting progressively colder. Ice out in the bay has formed and is starting to thicken up. This is about 3 weeks earlier than last year but still not quite as early as it used to be in the past. I no doubt will be checking weather forecasts a bit more than usual this week, looking for decent flying weather for when my teams fly out Friday morning.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce was in town today holding a Career Education Day in our community gym. I played a small role in helping to organize the day and apart from a few small glitches, the day went quite well. It was a long day though and I know I will be happy to see the weekend roll around. I attended a community feast at the end of the day and accepted a banner on behalf of our school for hosting today's big event. Tomorrow we are having qamutik (sled) races at our school and I am really looking forward to that. I didn't get many pictures from inside our gym today as I was all over the school as called upon but I hope to get some good pictures for race day tomorrow.
I snapped this quick photo from my classroom window this morning around 10am. I have a couple better shots but was having difficulty posting them this evening. My photo doesn't realy show it but ice is finally starting to form out on the bay.
In other news, it looks like at least one (and hopefully both) of our new hires will be here in the community by the end of next week which will do wonders for our staffing nightmare. Next Friday is also the day my teams fly out to Iqaluit for soccer regionals. I've always found November to be a rather busy month but tournament time is always a good time for players and coaches alike. The kids are getting excited (they only remind me 20 times a day that they can't wait to get to Iqaluit) and so am I!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Last week I wrote up a post about a fire drill at our school. This prompted my sister to comment about how there just must be something about me and fire alarms. She was referring to a tale I thought had well been buried over by the passage of time. Nope, little sis had to remind me. I guess that's what sisters are for. Anyhow, to entertain my sister, embarrass myself and set the record straight all in one fell swoop (and because I know I'll NEVER live this down) I recount the event at my peril.
I forget how old I was, probably 13 or so. Anyhow, I was helping my step-father one summer re-tile one of the portables at one of my old elementary schools. My step-father had to leave for a few minutes to pick up something or see another client (I'm not sure which) and despite his warnings to "be good" because "I'll be back in a few minutes", I decided to poke around a bit. I mean really, how many times do you get to be inside a school during summer break. In my youthfulness, I felt like I owned the place. I could do handstands right in the middle of that portable and no teacher was around to tell me to act sensibly.
Anyhow, it didn't take me long to notice the fire alarm on the wall. Gee....I wonder? Most fire alarms I remember from youth had these little glass bars in them that I presumed would break once the lever was pulled down. In this particular alarm, though, I noticed the little glass bar I expected to see there was missing. HMMMMMM? I wonder what would happen......would it still work? Impossible! It was summer afterall. Should I satisfy my curiosity once and for all? What possible harm could that do? I debated with myself. Nah, I'm sure it's harmless. Slowly I stepped toward the little red beacon on the wall and tempted fate.
Damn! Did that little thing ever make some racket! The resulting bell scared me half out of my wits! After I calmed down a bit it dawned on me. How the heck am going to shut this blasted thing off before my step-father gets back here? To my horror and growing panic, I realized this was impossible. What to do now? Well, I did the only sensible thing I could think of - a very brave thing. I ran away. I beat it home (breaking a land speed record in the process I'm sure), ran into my bedroom.....and hid under my bed.
A few minutes passed by and my step-dad came home. There is no worse feeling as a kid knowing you did something wrong and that you know that your parents know. I was soooo busted. I remember my step-father coming down the stairs to my room and then his voice, "Darcy, is there something I should know?"
Luckily, being the perfect child that I was, I think I got off pretty light. Looking back, I can count myself lucky I wasn't charged with mischief or causing a public disturbance (or beaten with a big sitck for that matter.) A quick call to a school custodian brought an end to the screeching alarm and I was left with the helpful realization that when a parent tells you not to touch something, its a really REALLY good idea to pay attention and listen.
Posted by Way Way Up at 22:04
Monty and I picked up a satellite dish a few weeks back......when exactly I can't remember. Our work and coaching schedules have kept us from being able to set this bad boy up though we did manage to at least attach the brace to the back of our place last weekend - in near gale-force winds it seems. I'm hopeful of getting the dish up soon as the idea of setting it up in freezing cold pitch black conditions doesn't appeal much to me. For the moment, the dish sits in our small livingroom. I'm thinking the curved disk portion would make a fantastic sled for the hills once we pick up a bit more snow. We'll be glad to get it up to have the extra space back. I feel like we've adopted it...or its adopted us.
Posted by Way Way Up at 21:52
I must say that for a Monday the day passed by rather uneventfully. It was refreshing to have to exactly zero discipline issues to deal with which freed me up to do some organizing and a few small things in advance of Thursday's Career Education Day at our school as well as the Cardboard Qamutiq Races. I even had the opportunity to sit in the big comfy principal's chair to get some marking out of the way.
For some reason all the school's mail that was sent by cargo was delivered to my door this evening - a few heavy packages that I'll get over the school somehow. What I was most excited to see however were the two pairs of soccer shorts I needed for my boys' team. I had lent out the uniforms back in the spring to an older soccer team and a couple pairs of shorts were (quite frustratingly) not returned. Uniforms are not exactly the easiest things to get here so I guard them with my life now. I'm pleased that at least the team will be spiffily atired for the tournament which is now just around the corner.
Speaking of soccer (as I am wont to do), we had a fantastic practice today. For the first time in quite some time all players from both the girls and boys teams made the practice and it was a good one. It can be a challenge at times to get everyone to show up. Hunting, babysitting and other family obligations mean that I don't usually see 2 full teams in the gym and rearing to go right at our 4pm practices. Its a treat to see how much they have developed and improved in the two and half years I've been working with them. Not that I am by any means a great, or even average, coach. We get though it with enthusiasm, teamwork and laughter and let the tournaments take care of themselves. I am confident of their chances next weekend though. At least the days of getting blown out of the water by the bigger communities are long long past us.......yeah okay, I admit I'm a tad biased here......I know they'll score a gold. What can I say? I have a team other schools only wish they had.
We never really had a team name or anything like that, though the boys did start calling themselves the Arctic Bay Impact at last year's Regionals. I like the name. Certainly these kids have had a very positive impact on my life!
Posted by Way Way Up at 21:27
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I'm not the biggest movie-goer or even much of a t.v.-watcher but a couple movies have caught attention here tonight. The first is "Casino Royale". I pretty much came across this one by accident. I'm not a big James Bond fan, though I will admit to seeing a couple of Hollywood's remakes. The only real reason this movie caught my attention is because some of the scenes were shot in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) in the Czech Republic and I recognized some of the larger hotels from when I visited there back in July. I didn't watch much of this movie ( the poker scenes only reminded me of how horridly I played in our Friday poker match here). I started flicking around again and found a real northern gem.
The second flick, one I HAVE been trying in vain to see for some time, is "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen". I joined the movie "in progress" though I hope to see the entire movie from start to finish soon. (Perhaps Santa will see fit to drop off a copy in my Christmas stocking!). Unlike Isuma Productions' first movie, "Atanarjuat", this one has English as well as Inuktitut. It may also have some Danish or Greenlandic in it as well but I'm not sure since I'm watching away as I type here. I have to admit, after seeing "Atanarjuat" several times, I find it odd seeing a lot of the same characters playing new roles. The Inuk actor Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq had a small role in the Canadian production "The Snow Walker", but I will always think of him as Oki from "Atanarjuat".
I'm finding I understand just enough Inuktitut so that I don't have to contantly read subtitles off the tv screen when the characters perform the Inuktitut dialogue. Entertainment and education rolled into one.
Posted by Way Way Up at 22:40
Thursday, October 18, 2007
........but I haven't had much time this week to actually sit in it. I must say though that this week, while challenging and a little crazy at times, has been a good experience. I will be happy when next Thursday is over because there are two big events I am helping to coordinate for that day: a Career Education Day put on by the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce and a Qamutiq (sled) race by Skills Canada. The other administrator had here own plate of things to deal with so much of the responsibility for coordinating/liasing/scheduling has fallen on my broad (yet skinny) shoulders. Its been a challenge getting things organized. I have a couple teachers helping me out but I was conscious of putting too much on the plates of rookie teachers with all the other challenges they have to deal with.
For the time being I teach full time in the mornings and fill in as Vice-Principal in the afternoons. My substitute for the afternoon made a dentist appointment for 2pm and I didn't find out about it until she approached me about it in the afternoon. So I was stuck to find a sub to replace my sub which turned out to be me. It was just as well as I've been trying for well over a week now to have a unit test for my afternoon grade 10 Social Studies class and students felt better to have me there to do review with them rather than someone else. We've had a lot of missed classes due to a long weekend, a suicide, and a funeral plus my own teacher intuition which told me there were a few days when the students simply weren't prepared to write a test. I am also taking two soccer teams to Iqaluit in two weeks' time for Regionals. As tends to happen after a funeral as the result of a suicide, I tend to notice a little more aggression and acting out by some students, so I stepped quite delicately in dealing with discipline issues today.
Needless, to say its been a challenge but so far so good. If I can pull off everything that's on the go without any serious glitches it will be a big plus for me when our Principal returns here in 3-4 weeks' time.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Its been a couple years since I've done any administrative duties so I knew this morning I might be a little rusty but all in all it was a good (if long) day. I won't bore you with all the minutiae that takes up my day (okay, just some of them) but I was kept on my toes. I was out the door a little earlier in usual so I could have some quiet to organize my thoughts and get some extra work out of the way. Naively I brought my laptop in with me and set it up in the office with the idea of being able to soothe the soul with a few Scarlatti keyboard sonatas I had put on it over the weekend. It would have been nice if I actually had time to sit in the chair. The laptop sat opened but unlistened to throughout the day.
I am planning out for a subsitute teacher who just graduated herself from grade 12 last week (qualified substitute teachers are in pitiful short supply in the North). I had to spend a bit of time in my classroom helping my sub (can't really blame the girl though, she was trying her best) this afternoon as I have a couple unit tests in the near future (couldn't plan these around my principal's time out of the community) and I just find reviewing for tests a difficult thing to do when you have a substitute in your place.
There is also a trade show going on in the school gym next week that I am helping coordinate. I forget off the top of my head where the group putting on the trade show is coming from but they will be in the community next week......all 45 of them. They will be in the community gym during school hours running and career fair for students in grade 8 and higher. And I also had to make sure a lunch is prepared for the day of the trade show to feed our 45 guests. No worries there though. They don't have to suffer through my poor cooking. I asked our community librarian to put something together and was very grateful she agreed to do it.
Representatives from Skills Canada, an organization that promotes hands-on learning, are also coming up in the near future and interested students will be constructing cardboard sleds (or qamutiqs as they are known here) and a course to race them on. Thankfully we now have enough snow on the ground for this though it would be nice if the bay was frozen over so the races could be held there.
I helped our acting-Principal locate some forms that needed to be faxed off to a teachers newly-hired over the weekend. I know one of them has visited my blog for information on the community before moving here. Hope it was useful. Hello to Petra and Alesha (hope I spelled that right). Yes, we finally have a full staff of teachers at our school...woo hoo!
I ended the day with a full 2-hour soccer practice which went well. The rec. director was by to let me know the tournament dates. The first weekend of November my teams head down for Regionals in Iqaluit. I'm hoping I will be finished my administrative duties by then just so I can focus on the team and not leave our other administrator in a bind.
Well, so far so good. I had only very minor discipline issues to deal with in the afternoon so I feel like I'm off to a good start. I can rest well after a good start to the week and be back at it tomorrow. Now if only that darn sewage truck would make an appearance the day would be perfect!