Friday, October 26, 2007

Winter Wonderland

After predicting the arrival of winter for at least a month, it has finally arrived. Snow arrived in a blizzard on Wednesday. Lloyd had to get the four wheeler out with the blade to clean out the driveway. He then did some of the neighbour's driveways as well. The temperature today is only about -6 C, but it likely won't get above freezing now until April sometime. So it is now definitely winter.

In other interesting tidbits of news from other spots in the north:
In Inuvik, the Northmart store mistakenly received 1200 litres of buttermilk instead of the six to twelve litres that they normally get. The manager had ordered 1200L of UHT milk (what's called shelf milk here, because it can sit on the shelf forever until it's opened), and got buttermilk instead. Check out the rest of the story here:

In Fort Good Hope, the annual barge shipment didn't arrive. Fort Good Hope, (population 585) is on the Mackenzie River and doesn't have road access. Access is only by the river or by ice road in the winter. Each year the inhabitants order a year's supply of goods, which arrive by barge in late summer. However this year the shipping company got off to a late start and was several weeks behind. By the time they got the barge headed down river to Fort Good Hope, it was already freezing nights, and the river had gotten too shallow to get into the community. So instead, everything was unloaded at Norman Wells (145 km away). This means that the community has run out of toilet paper and other basic supplies (think heating oil), which will have to be flown in at a tremendous cost, as the ice road won't be ready until likely late January. Construction projects have had to be put on hold for an entire year, as the building supplies didn't arrive and can't be flown in.

Now the NWT has a number of communities without road access, but I believe that they all got their supplies this year, except for Fort Good Hope. You don't realize how fortunate you are, until you find out how other people live. The regular price for buttermilk in Inuvik is about $4 a litre. It would be much higher than that in Fort Good Hope. It's time to count my blessings again.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Family news

I just have to share how proud I am of my family. I'll start with Lloyd - he's such an incredible husband. He does so much related to house maintenance, etc. (stuff that not only do I have no desire to do, but also have no skill to do). Right now the new project is going to be replacing our fuel tank. The insurance company that we have been with for several years has gone belly up, so now we have to deal with a new insurance agent. Apparently the company we've been dealing with for house insurance doesn't allow you to just transfer agents - you have to reapply. And... because our oil tank is over 10 years old (likely over 20 years old), it'll have to be replaced in order to get insurance. Sigh. It's likely going to be close to $2,000. Not on our planned expenditures, but we'll manage. I think we have to pay someone to install and hook it up, but we can do all the foundation stuff ourselves (put down crushed rock and a cement pad).

Now, to share about Rose. She's informed us that she has an A average so far this term. This is totally awesome! She's never had an A average before, and she's not exactly taking a light load with both Chemistry and Physics (no, they're not A's, but they're good solid B's) as well as Math and three other subjects. So I can say that the move to Western has been really good for her. She is off to Minot for a Youth Rally this weekend I think. (I think is because it depends on whether her passport got to her on time or not. We express mailed it to her Tuesday morning.)

Finally, Bram. He has been working extremely hard at his home schooling. A lot of the time he's not supervised, because I go back and forth to work (I teach from 11 to 12 and from 3-4); but he's been very diligent. He's also doing very well. He was telling me this afternoon, on the way out the door to piano lessons, that he really hadn't practiced as much as he should have this past week. (I never thought I'd ever hear such an admission!) Anyway, I can really see the maturity that he's developing as he shows such responsibility.

As a total aside, both kids are still shorter than me (but not for long). I'm 5'2" (because I round up), and they're both about 5'1". There's about 1/2 an inch between my height and theirs.

This next week Lloyd and I are taking a First Responders course through St. Johns Ambulance. It's a 40 hour course, and we're taking it from 6 to 10 pm Tuesday and Thursday, and from 8 to 5 for Saturday and Sunday on next weekend and the weekend after. It should be fairly brutal, but it means we don't have to take time off work to take the course I think we'll learn a lot.

It's snowing outside right now. Bram should be very happy. All the snow we had did melt, and we've had lovely fall weather, but Bram's been moping around wanting snow.

Last night Bram and I cooked a supper "A la francaise". We had l'escargot avec le beurre ail, les champignon etouffes and la soupe d'oignon francais for les apperitifs. Bram said it was a lot more fun cooking it than eating it. He wasn't very impressed with any of the appetizers. Then we had les cotelettes de porc dijonnais avec les patates, les legumes Alfredo and la salade d'hote for the main course. Instead of dessert we had bread (baguettes of course) with cheese for a final course. I enjoyed it all. The escargot and French Onion soup brought back a lot of memories. Back when I was a penniless university student, those were usually the cheapest things you could order off a menu, so I got so I quite liked them both.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Toys

Lloyd has himself two new toys now; a new snowmobile and a new quad. He's had a lot of fun with the quad over the weekend and is eagerly waiting for enough snowfall to enjoy the snowmobile. Here in YK you can ride the quad on city streets provided you're licensed and insured (you can ride snowmobiles on city streets too) - so he'll likely drive it to work a fair bit. I drove it tonight for the first time, and enjoyed myself as well - but I think I'll primarily stick to the enclosed, heated space in the van.

A couple of weeks ago I also got myself a new toy - a brand new oven. It has a porcelain top and a convection oven. I tried out the convection oven for the first time cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, but tried it again over the past few days making muffins. And I have to say, I'm not overly impressed. One thing I've heard about convection ovens is that they consistently keep the same heat throughout the oven, so that you don't have hot spots. Well, look at these muffins! It looks to me that my oven isn't the same consistent temperature throughout. Because the oven is brand new, I think I need to phone Whirlpool and find out what's wrong.
In a way, this is kind of funny. Everyone else seems to post pictures of their kids - I post photos of muffins! (Maybe I need to get a life.)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We had friends over for Thanksgiving yesterday. Had ten around the supper table, which is very manageable but not the real crowd that I remember having for Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful fall day, cool but not really cold. It warmed up to +7 during the day.

After supper we sat around and visited and then played cribbage. I won so it was a good game. This year I cooked a prestuffed turkey. I've never heard of such a thing before this fall, but I tried a prestuffed chicken a couple of weeks ago and it was quite nice. With the prestuffed bird, the instructions are to bake it from frozen - so it's really easy. Just pull off the plastic wrap, put it in the roasting pan and bake it. It was very good too. I made potatotes (courtesy of Clifford's garden), gravy, turnips, mixed vegetables, corn, salad and cranberry sauce (wild ones picked last year) and jello salad. Our friends brought over sweet potatoes and another salad. We had a choice of pumpkin pie or apple pie for dessert. As always, there was more than enough food, and I don't think I'll be cooking for a couple of days until we clean out the leftovers.

Looking out the window this morning, it is snowing again and it's not the large gentle first snow type of snow. It's driving pellets in a strong wind, so this snow may last.

We have so much to be thankful for. We worship a wonderful God who meets all of our needs in Christ Jesus. We are all in good health and have jobs that we enjoy. Our children are enjoying school. We have an abundance of possessions - we are incredibly wealthy. Although we may live a distance from our families, we have built new families here - and we can afford to visit our families if needed. Thank you Lord.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Where we're at

Because it's been so long since I have posted, I thought I'd bring you up to date with what's going on with our family.

Lloyd is still working for the Government of the NWT, being a tecchie kind of guy, building and maintaining databases. This fall he and I are planning on taking a First Responders course through St. John Ambulance. Lloyd has volunteered for several years with Yellowknife Search and Rescue, and this course will definitely make him more valuable for that team.

I am still teaching at Aurora College, but have changed the nature of my job this year. For the past three years I taught Adult Basic Literacy. This year I'm teaching Adult Basic Education. The difference? Literacy worked with adults who were reading below a Grade 6 level (many or most of them below a Grade 4 level). ABE works with people who don't have their complete high school and are essentially working on upgrading. They're same kind of folks, just a level up in abilities; in fact, some of my previous students in Literacy are now in ABE. I'm only teaching two classes this year, Nursing Access and Introduction to Computers. This means I'm only working 1/4 time, which allows me the time to homeschool Bram.

So, not in order of age, but in order of discussing my kids: Bram is 13 this year, in Grade 8. Because I am only working part-time, we decided that we would homeschool Bram this year. Bram has been quite happy with the change because he didn't have the greatest year last year. We've decided to go with Alberta Distance Learning for most of Bram's courses. He's taking Science (in French), Social Studies, English and Bible through them. I'm teaching Bram Math independently, and our friend Lorraine is teaching him French Language arts. He is also taking piano lessons (for music).

Rose is 16 this year in Grade 11 at Western Christian High school. She has found it to be a big adjustment to be at Western this year, but I think she's enjoying it a lot. (Some days more than others). I think she's lost (and found I hope) her wallet at least five times in the month she's been there so far. Her main frustration since arriving at Western was that her laptop's wireless internet wasn't working properly, but it is now, so life is good.

Summer is Past and Gone

I'm sure that's the line of a famous poem that I took sometime in school. However it's also true. Today it's a balmy +6 here in Yellowknife, the warmest it has been all week. Thursday morning I washed sheets and hung them out on the line, thinking as I did it that it would likely be the last time I did that until summer again.

The sheets froze just about immediately, but that was ok, I had all day for them to hang there. Then I went about my daily affairs, taught my morning class, had my piano lesson, etc. In the middle of my piano lesson, I looked out the window and saw huge, thick snowflakes falling down. By the time I got to school to teach my afternoon class, the snow was really thick and wet. I phoned Bram and asked him to bring the sheets in from the line. Later, when I asked him about it, he said it was still mostly dry snow and he just shook off the sheets. However by the time I started driving home from work, the snow had degenerated into sleet and then rain, so I was glad that he was home to bring them in.

We have had a much cooler, wetter autumn than we're accustomed to, but we've also had a fair bit of snow in the past week, so I think we're transitioning into winter. That's my bottom line, snow = winter. The picture is what it looked like Monday night from our front door. Now most of that has melted, but it has snowed twice since then.