Season Two! Episode 2.1: Total Recall

Having embarked on our new old adventure of living in Ottawa (again, for the third time around!), ¬†I’m back in the old routine of work/maintain/sleep, but am still trying to find the time to keep up with adventures that are blogworthy. And so, here is the start of what I’m calling a new season of meginthenorth – Ottawa style.

Moving to Ottawa for the third time has been a bit surreal – everything is very familiar but ever so slightly different. This time around we’re living just west of downtown, very close to Chinatown. It’s a great location, very convenient for my work, but we don’t have much in the way of outdoor space (oh how far we’ve come from two summers ago).

Luckily, summer in Ottawa is usually pretty great, so that has helped to ease the transition. There’s lots of beautiful scenery, it’s easy to get out into the country for hiking and camping, and there is usually lots going around town as well. This year is extra special in Ottawa as there have been so many events going on for Canada 150. Like, for example, the large shrubberies that have taken over Jacques Cartier Parc in Gatineau, which frankly sound a bit underwhelming, but were actually quite amazing – I heard someone describe them as a history of Canada combined with Alice in Wonderland:

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I just wish they made the bench a bit longer so you could sit down next to Anne of Green Gables

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What I didn’t catch in this picture is the full sized train station behind me. Complete with soundtrack with train whistle!

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Not totally sure what this has to do with Canada but they sure were party! [edit: Sable Island! Of course. Thanks Bill :)]

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The muskoxen were my favourite

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Oh right, and that time the town was taken over by a giant dragon and a giant spider that were engaged in a epic battle that could impact the fate of the whole world:

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Kumo, the spider, just appeared up there on the cathedral one morning. Here we are waiting for it to “wake up” – which involved about twelve people rappelling down to it, after which it was lifted down to the ground, where it proceeded to wreak very gentle havoc with bubbles and water

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This is Long Ma, the dragon. The story goes that Kumo somehow stole his wings but due to all the construction that’s going on in Ottawa the fabric of space time was just right for him to wake up and come to Ottawa to claim them back.

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This isn’t my picture (I got it from the Ottawa 2017 website) but I liked it. Because you didn’t know where the machines were going to show up, it was a strange experience walking around downtown to all of a sudden be surrounded by this huge crowd and then a large dragon or spider, complete with its own soundtrack (provided by actual musicians travelling around in pods behind them). It was neat.

Sadly, we left town midway through the three-day performance, so I didn’t get to see the big showdown, but apparently it all worked out since we’re still here… ūüôā

Instead, we left for the maritimes where we spent an amazing two weeks basking in the incredible weather, hanging out with family, eating seafood and just generally relaxing.

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Someday I will live my lifelong dream of going on the Keiths’ Brewery tour in Halifax. This time I at least made it to the pub.

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Oh man how I missed the ocean!

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A different kind of “wanted” poster

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Sunflower on the beach

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Proper swimming!

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Our VW van is currently under repair. Luckily we had a stand-in.

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Ahhhhh ūüôā

Back in Ottawa, a big part of the Canada 150 celebrations was of course Canada Day, July 1. Always a big deal in the capital, but extra huge crowds were expected this year. So we decided to… go to the United States.

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Better than dealing with the crowds IMO

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Nothing beats martinis and a giant crib board!

With all this excitement and travelling, we also managed to get J-bear’s first couple of camping trips in. He loves being outside and does some seriously amazing napping in the tent – which is a major bonus for parents who like having a bit of a break every now and then ourselves!

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For our first trip, we opted for the roomy tent

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For our next outing, we were canoe camping so opted for a smaller tent. Probably a false economy…

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Still life with propane

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Rory is not the most heroic camper…

And that’s it, the story of our summer in 756 words. Although I didn’t manage to cover living the dream and finally seeing Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in concert, some of the joyous and not-so-joyous parts of downtown living, or the shocking reality about being back in the working world. I guess these will be stories for another time….

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Episodio 31: Avocado/Abogado?

The other day I read this pretty amazing article about avocados. Not that the article itself¬†was all that amazing, being about the rather depressing news that avocado prices will probably continue to increase. What amazed me was that they quoted not one, but two, “avocado gurus” – which reminded me, for reasons that will become clear, that I owe one episode¬†about the rest of our time in Spain.

When Episodio 30 ended, we were getting ready to move from our country home in the mountains to our villa by the beach. What a change of scenery! We went from a secluded cottage with incredible views on a lonely mountain road near a traditional Spanish village, to a completely closed-in compound in a sea of compounds in a bustling and touristy area that turned out to be some kind of German retirement community.

We had a lovely garden. But this gate was pretty intimidating.

This picture completely fails to capture how terrifying the highway was. You had to go from a full stop to fit in with traffic whizzing by at at least 80km/hour. Which, coming from our windy mountain roads where you could not really even get up to the speed limit of 50km/hour, was a bit of a shock.

At first we swore that we were going to leave the car in the garage for the whole month. Happily, there were busses available to easily take us into the nearest town, Marbella, in about 15 minutes.

Lots of narrow streets and pathways

… Really cool old churches …

Marbella is where Salvador Dali was born, and they have a row of Dali sculptures heading down to the beach

During our time here,¬†one of my uncles came to stay with us and he kindly¬†babysat for us one evening so we could go¬†out on the town. Our plan was to grab a taxi (the busses didn’t run very late) in the hopes of catching a flamenco show.

We got off to a bit of a rough start when we¬†completely failed at ordering a cab (two attempts to call one resulted in us being brusquely hung up on by the¬†dispatcher who was not as patient as the people in¬†Colmenar had been¬†about our crappy Spanish).¬†We decided¬†to walk down¬†to one of the restaurants on the beach with the idea that they would call a cab for us, but when we got there we found that the restaurants¬†were already closed. Undeterred, we figured we would just walk the eight kilometres to town, along the beach. But what is a walk along the beach without wine? So we went to our local depanneur, where¬†unfortunately all the wine bottles had corkscrews in them and we didn’t have a bottle opener with us. What option were we left with but to get a bottle of cavo¬†instead? Finally,¬†properly provisioned, we set off on our journey…

The beach was lovely but an hour and a half later we were pretty happy to¬†find ourselves on city streets instead of sand, and we made our way towards the old part of town. Of course, I had left my phone behind with my uncle so he could use it to reach us if there were any problems at home, but my phone also had the address of the flamenco bar we’d been planning to go to. Having made it this far, of course we were not giving up, but we decided we would just¬†see what we could find rather than having a specific destination. And what we found was a¬†tiny bar that had about four patrons and a classical Spanish guitar player who was being accompanied by the waitress when she had a few minutes.

Eventually we got to chatting with the waitress¬†and, after the¬†usual initial pleasantries she asked me what I did. In Spanish I said “Soy¬†abogado”, and then in English I said, “I always get the words for ‘avocado’ (aguacate) and ‘lawyer’ mixed up. I’m a lawyer, not an avocado!” We both laughed and¬†we talked for a few more minutes about what I did,¬†I told her who I worked for, and she asked if I do a lot of paperwork (I do).

Then she said, “but avocados mostly come from Mexico, no? How do you get by without knowing much Spanish?”

Uh oh. By this point, we had been talking for long enough that to have to go back and explain that, no, I don’t work in the avocado industry, that I am not an avocado guru, and that both our understandings of the conversation that had just happened were apparently wrong, just seemed super awkward. So¬†I went with it and for the rest of the evening I was introduced as¬†an¬†avocado importer and expert. Luckily¬†no other purported produce gurus showed up, and I think I managed to get away with it !¬†Now I’m wondering if I should consider a change in career….

Anyway, after a few days we were relatively used to being in traffic again, and we managed to get the car out for a couple of road trips. First, a day trip to Gibraltar:

Waiting for the bus at Gibraltar airport

On the gondola on our way to see …

Monkeys!!!!

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They let you get super close to them

So many monkeys! They were actually climbing on people and cars, but this was about as close as I wanted to get to them

I did share a touching moment with one, on our way back down the hill

Where we went to a tavern that made some unverified claims regarding its history…

Having managed to have a proper British pint, a few days we made a foray into the Spanish countryside, to visit Ronda, which is known for El Tajo, the giant canyon that carves the city in two.

It was supposed to be about an hour’s drive from where we were staying. But we got stuck behind this truck for most of the way, which was, once again, narrow windy roads.

I was actually considering doing an entire episode about Spanish road signs, which are awesome. This was my favourite – I can only assume it means “Caution – you are being pursued by two ninjas who are aggressively driving their motorcycles”

The statute outside what is apparently Spain’s oldest bullring.

Yup, that’s a pretty big gorge

This is outside of the Casa del Rey Moro, which wikipedia describes as “to some extent a fraud”

We paid our two bits which allowed us to visit the Casa del Rey garden and, more importantly…

… the water mine, about two hundred steps carved into the gorge for slaves to carry water up from the river.¬†The castle and garden were apparently built long after the Moors were gone. But the water mine itself is legit.

We made it to the bottom! I was glad not to be the one carrying J-bear on the way back up

Ronda also featured a “cheese & ham boutique”. Amazing!

And among many other old buildings, a pretty neat church

This was all well and good, but really we had come to this neck of the woods for some sun and sand, and the beach is where we spent a lot of time.

Our villa was not right on the beach, but this was our walk, so that was OK

J-bear was a little bit tentative, but managed to get his feet in the water

The weather didn’t always cooperate, but we still managed to get down to the water most days

All in all, this was a pretty great way to spend a couple of months. However, after being¬†vagabonds for awhile, we were definitely looking forward to getting back to Canada and settled into our new home in Ottawa. Once we finally finish unpacking, maybe I’ll work on “season 2” of meginthenorth!

 

 

Episodio 30: megenEspa√Īa

Hola se√Īoras y se√Īores y bienvenidos a una edici√≥n especial de meginthenorth, direct from Spain!

*technically not direct from Spain since we’ve been back in Ottawa for almost a month, but pretty close¬†– this was actually written there but it has taken me awhile to get through all the pictures*

I’m sitting in my outdoor breakfast nook at a cottage in the mountains just north of the Mediterranean Sea – -a long way from Yellowknife! We are on our way to Ottawa but we took a little detour to spend two months in Spain, and our first month is just about to come to an end. So far we have been staying just outside of a village called Colmenar, and it has been a series of small but wonderful adventures.

Not a bad spot to call “home” for a month

Our view

Sometimes the view was otherworldly!

Our dining room

The pool was a little chilly!

It was tough to get a picture to capture how terrifying the roads here are. This is my best result – we are about to turn left into our driveway. It was always a leap of faith that the driveway would actually be there and we weren’t just driving into an abyss

Then we had to go down three or so switchbacks where we were actually looking down on our house!

A big part of the adventure has been the language gap.¬†Daniel and I have done a little bit of travelling in Cuba, but only enough to pick up the bare essentials of Spanish, like “dos cervezas, por favor”. Daniel has taken a few Spanish classes but that was a few years ago now. We had the best intentions of working on our Spanish before leaving so we would be ready, and we did do some studying.¬† But mostly from a book, which left me feeling woefully unprepared for the realities of rapid fire Spanish in real life.

Happily, the people in Colmenar have been very patient with us! People here do not seem to speak much English themselves, which has been excellent because it means I can’t take the easy way out. Our first real foray into Spanish speaking was a trip to the grocery store. I did not expect much in the way of conversation other than an amount of money and maybe “hasta luego” on our way out the door. To my surprise, I discovered that all the produce and meat is behind the counter and you have to ask for it. Happily, I knew the words for apple and avocado, so I started with that. Success! And when the lady said “algo mas”, I knew that she was asking if there was anything else I wanted. There was, but I had reached the end of my Spanish language abilities. So, through a complex process involving French, English, pointing and other gestures with a few random Spanish words thrown in here and there, we managed to get our remaining groceries and to learn a few new words in the process (onion is “cebolla”!).

I think people are extra forgiving of our englishness¬†since we¬†have a little one in tow. I cannot count the number of times we’ve heard “oh chiquito! something¬†something something que guapo! Something something something” followed by an expectant pause which I usually have interpreted to mean that they just asked how old he is – mostly correctly but not always, judging by the confused look I’ve gotten once or twice.

I wonder at my automatic tendency¬†to fill in the words I don’t know with French words. This even happens with words that I know, actually, as for example I’m always saying “oui” instead of “si”. And today, for example, at the grocery store (again) I said “tengo una bolsa d√©j√†. I mean, already. I mean, ya.” Dangit! Somehow,¬†though, I seem to be able to get the point across and I would say that our language skills have definitely improved – not that we could ever have a conversation but at least we can order stuff and say what a nice day it is and even manage to pick out words here and there to get a gist of the conversation when eavesdropping on real Spaniards at neighbouring tables in restaurants ūüôā

Colmenar is a fairly traditional place where life seems pretty simple. I think it has the highest population of slowly ambling elderly folks that I have ever seen. The hills are full of almond trees (with the occasional olive grove) and when we arrived all the trees were in full blossom. I have seen donkeys at work in the fields – I assume because it is just too steep to use tractors here even if they were inclined to do so – and we have even seen several people riding horses along the road.

Almond trees in bloom

Donkey on break

The town of Colmenar

We spent a lot of time drinking “cafe solo” on this terrace

Country living has also meant we’ve seen a fair amount of wildlife – mostly wild dogs and cats which inhabit the trash bins, but also a few geckos (one installed itself behind the heater in our room when we arrived, probably thrilled that spring had somehow come early for it), two snakes, and many many bees. The region is actually a big honey producer and Colmenar even has a Honey Museum complete with giant beekeeping diorama.

We had bees for neighbours!

Inside the honey museum

A giant beehive

I did have one encounter with the local wildlife that was so traumatizing I had to write about it right away [as I’m about to re-read this, my heart rate has actually gone up and my palms are starting to sweat!] – here is what I had to say at 4:00 in the morning:

In Canada, we don’t have things like the Mediterranean Tiger Centipede, and that is a good thing. One of those fuckers stung me on the hand WHEN I WAS SLEEPING and I’m pretty sure I will never sleep again. I woke up with a shriek when I felt something brush against my hand and then a pinching feeling, and to my horror I saw the biggest fucking centipede I had ever seen, which I flung away with all my might. I tried to recover and be cool about the whole thing,¬†so I (pretty calmly under the circumstances, I think) explained to Daniel that a bug had woken me up. I did not mention it was the biggest centipede I had ever seen (like seriously, this thing is no longer a bug and deserves its own category. Maybe “things that should exist only in nightmares” or something) because it had disappeared under the bed by then, after I’d flung it to the ground, and I was assuming that I had already exaggerated its size in my memory. I realized I was wrong when Daniel looked under the bed, said “nope” and immediately left the room to get a drink.

I’m now sitting in the living room with my feet on the coffee table for safety while Daniel tears apart the bedroom to find the damn thing and get rid of it. Like he has literally taken the bed apart at this point.

I am also thanking the heavens that we brought a crib with mesh sides for Jeremy because the thought of one of those things getting close to him actually makes me feel ill. Unless that’s just my body’s reaction to the poison I’ve been injected with.

Now I’m on Facebook enjoying the pictures people posted of winter. I love snow, man. Snow is clean and centipede free.

***

Daniel did finally find the centipede after taking the mattress out of the room and flipping up the box spring. He trapped it in a Tupperware container and left it outside, where I set it free the next morning – I wanted to see if it was actually as terrifying looking as I remembered it and was not ready to face it right away. I’ll let you decide for yourself how you would react to one of these crawling around on your pillow in the middle of the night… But, if you are seriously bug-phobic, I recommend just scrolling really fast past this picture. Shudder.

*shudder*

In my mind, the whole incident played out exactly like this scene from Dr. No (in the book, by the way, the part of the tarantula is played by A CENTIPEDE! I have essentially been attacked by a real life James Bond villain).

I did actually get back to sleep that night, briefly, but I dreamed I was being chased by a giant spider, and it was awhile before I was willing to sleep in that room again.

I don’t want to think about that anymore so here’s a picture of some orange trees

In the distance from our place you can see a village on the very top of a giant hill that piqued my interest, so one of our missions was to see if we could find our way to it.

Who could resist trying to find the white town on the mountaintop?

While I intended to just head out on a road we don’t know to find a town I didn’t know anything about,¬†somehow we wound up being less adventurous when we accidentally got directions from the neighbours. But it worked out well anyway as this little town was a gem so I’m glad we got there directly and did not wind up getting sidetracked or lost!

Playing up its history as a fortress from the 1500s

This is the town’s cemetery – quite a sight on its own!

“The Balcony of the Axarquia”

Unfortunately it was a bit hazy but apparently you can usually see all the way to the Mediterranean

This place called itself the Balcony of the Axarquia (the area we were), but we also visited the Balcon de Europe, in Nerja, a town on the coast where we went for a few days to get a taste of the slightly warmer weather outside of the mountains, and to see the Sea.

The Mediterranean!

Beach!

Like, practically our own private beach

We thought we pretty much had the town to ourselves, until we went to the Nerja Caves, apparently one of Spain’s biggest tourist attractions. The caves are about 5kms long and are big enough that they actually hold concerts in them!

We also went to¬†what I later learned was another of Spain’s main tourist attractions, El Torcal, according to Wikipedia “one of the most impressive karst landscapes in Europe”. Whatever karst landscapes are, they’re pretty neat!

En route to El Torcal

Where’s Waldo?

Very Wild West!

Aside from these two outings, though, our experiences have been pretty off the beaten track. I think we will be on the main track a bit more when we move to our new locale in Marbella, for the next month. Till then, adios!

Episode 29: So long and thanks for all the fish!

Yellowknife has some pretty delicious fish. I had a whole paragraph written in my head all about the fish, but unfortunately I wasn’t at a computer when I wrote it and now it is completely forgotten.¬†There was some sort of clever¬†segue into the fact that this will be my last blog post as meginthenorth, as the fam and I¬†will be moving¬†to more southern climes in November.

It’s gone though, so back to the fish.¬†Not only¬†is it relatively easy to catch your own, if¬†sitting around¬†waiting for a fish to jump into your boat (that’s how it works, right?) isn’t your cup of tea, you can also just buy some from the back of a truck outside the grocery store. Sometimes there are even two trucks to choose from!

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Yesterday, I¬†had a wonderful¬†Yellowknife moment. I took J-bear for a walk so we could find some fish for supper. We were disappointed to discover that¬†neither of the fish trucks was at the grocery store, and turned to head¬†home empty-handed. When what did we see parked outside the convenience store minutes from our place, but the fish truck? And just as we were going by, the guy came out of the store. I ran up to him, asked if he was selling any fish today. Yup! He was just on the way to the grocery store now. Could I get some right there? No problem! Two pounds of whitefish in the back of the stroller, feeling very pleased with ourselves, J-bear and I continued on our way.¬†¬†Hurray for happy coincidences! Or just good¬†timing…

I actually just took the fish out of the oven, and am waiting for the potatoes to finish cooking so we can have supper, which provides a convenient segue to my next topic: gardening! Winter being upon us, I dug the garden up weeks ago, and was quite pleased with the results. A nice batch of carrots and beets, a few measly brussels sprouts (but not none), lots of tomatoes that did require some assistance to ripen, and a few zucchinis although sadly the plants did succumb to the white mold in the end.

“What about the potatoes?” you ask. Well, I dug up one plant at the end of August to see how things were coming, and the results were not promising. There were what you could call potatoes attached to the roots, but they were TINY. Like, smaller than a finger nail. My heart sank.

 

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Do those even count as potatoes? No. No they do not.

So when finally I was ready to dig the rest of the plants up a couple of weeks later, my expectations were very low:¬†I¬†was just¬†going through the motions in order to clear up the garden for next year’s tenants. Imagine my surprise when I discovered¬†a GIANT potato in the dirt. And another! And another!!!

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Yellowknife gold!

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A sink full! (Banana for scale)

Otherwise, life has been pretty quiet lately. J-bear is a big fan of napping¬†in the stroller, so¬†I’ve been spending a lot of time walking¬†– luckily there is a nice nature trail just up the hill from where we live.¬†It has been very pleasant to watch the seasons change.

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Where I spend a lot of time

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There definitely could be worse views

One day I came across something new:

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“Why would someone take a chunk out of the trail’s fence?” I thought to myself at first. But wait… Someone, or someTHING??

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Something like … a beaver!

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It’s amazing how quickly that beaver dam got built. It’s like he was in a rush to get ready for winter or something.

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A pretty good idea – the lake is already starting to freeze!

Well, that seems like a pretty short post, but that’s just about all the time I have. I thought I would close with a quick rundown of¬†a year’s worth of archetypical Yellowknife experiences:

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Staying snug and warm in a parka and mukluks despite the frigid temperatures, in January

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Exploring the winter wonderland, in February

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Sliding down an ice slide in a snow castle, in March

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Lazing around on the frozen lake like a “beach”, in April

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Playing with the candle ice, in May

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Leaving the dark and windowless bar at 2am and being greeted by daylight, in June

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Jumping in the technically unfrozen but still very chilly lake, in July

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Grasping onto the last rays of sunshine before the sun goes down, in August

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Driving to the Arctic Circle via the Dempster Highway, in September

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Looking out for ptarmigans in their new winter coats, in October

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Freeze up! in November

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Leaving the dark and windowless bar at 2am and being greeted by spectacular northern lights, in December

It’s breaking my heart to¬†leave this¬†amazing place with so many adventures left to experience (canoeing the Nahanni, exploring the East Arm of the Great Slave Lake, one more slide at the snow castle! ……) but our time here is up – for now. Thanks to the amazing people in Yellowknife and all over the north who made our time here so wonderful. And thanks for reading!

Stay gold!

– meginthenorth

Episode 28: Tales of a Northern Farmer

Some of you may recall last year I mentioned wanting to get into gardening. It was a little impractical when we were on the boat, but this year there is a community garden about 2 minutes away from our place, and we managed to snag half a plot. Living the dream!

Now, calling myself a “farmer” is a bit like calling myself an “early childhood educator” just because I have a baby that is learning things, occasionally from me. But I did manage to plant stuff that is currently growing!¬†I was a bit late getting the garden in this year, but luckily I had even thought ahead and started a few tomatoes, zucchini and broccoli from seed way back in March. They were all ready to go and I had some beets, chard, spinach, carrots and cucumber seeds that I also wanted to get going. On a whim I picked up a few brussels sprouts that were already started from the garden centre.

Here is a quick rundown of the emotional rollercoaster that was the beginning of my farming experience:

Day 1: Digging out the weeds, organizing a few rows and putting the seeds and seedlings in was pretty satisfying. Feeling pretty darned awesome about myself and my accomplishments!

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June 12: There’s something kind of satisfying about this – like a blank canvas

Day 2: Panic sets in. What if nothing sprouts and everything just dies? What was I thinking? My humiliation will be even worse than any previous gardening attempts because this is a community garden so everyone will see what a crappy human being I am!

Day 3: Yes I know that everything I planted is supposed to take a week to sprout, but WHY IS NOTHING SPROUTED YET?

Day 4: Sigh. At least the brussel sprouts are still alive.

Day 5: Don’t even bother to check on the garden. It will just break your heart anyway.

Day 6: Wait, is that a weed? No, a few plants seem to actually be trying to survive!!

Day 7: YES! I DID IT! And I could do it again! The broccoli didn’t do so well, but everything else came up/transplanted very happily. We have a garden!

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July 4: Stuff’s still alive!

I started some new broccoli seeds, with which I went through the exact same emotions again, although they took a full ten days to arrive so the agony was a bit longer. Then, it was just a matter of trying to remember to water the garden regularly, get rid of the occasional weeds, and wait for the payout!

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Our first haul: fresh beet greens!

Except …. bolting! Dammit.¬†Apparently the spinach and the broccoli found the twenty hours of sunlight a day to be a bit much and panicked. I decided to let them go to see what happens.

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So that’s what broccoli looks like when it’s gone to seed.

I did also try¬†starting another bunch of broccoli but that one didn’t even bother showing up. A new batch of spinach made a paltry attempt at survival before¬†joining the first batch.

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And of course there was the incident with the white mold (or at least that’s what Dr. Google suggests is going on) with the cucumber, and my zucchini that I had planted in a separate container.

 

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It might still be ok?

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This one might be OK? At least it has a zucchini fruit (?) growing

Overall, however, I would say that I’m pretty happy with the results so far.¬†We’ve managed to get some chard, beets, and lots of carrots so far, with more on the way. And the brussels sprouts seem to be currently brusselling, so that’s good.

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Not a total disaster

Not to mention the tomatoes, that are looking pretty awesome, especially compared with  previous attempts.

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And my crowning glory so far: my first attempt at potato farming!

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This summer, of course, has not been just about gardening. We’ve continued to introduce J-bear to various new experiences, such as…

His first music festival, Folk on the Rocks:

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An advantage of going to FOTR with a baby is not having to deal with the Beer Garden line-up. This is the end. The start is by the orange canoe…

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You can still see the stage. Kind of… Good enough!

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All the cool kids have the purple headphones

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Taking some quiet time

He got to go on his first boat ride:

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“What is this new devilry?”

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“I do not approve.”

And his first houseboat:

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“Now this is living!”

A couple of people have been asking how his musical education is going. His top favourite so far is Paul Simon’s new album – he can’t stop grinning anytime I put it on! What can I¬†say, the kid has taste!

And finally I will close with a series of photos that I call “J-Bear tries to eat things”:

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“Mmmm, delicious hand”

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“Zebra, you say?”

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“Nom nom nom!”

 

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“Hmmm, pig sounds delicious”

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“No, piggy, I will not eat you. Together we will sit and reflect on¬†the mysteries of existence.”

Episode 27: In which we attend our first bike auction

I’ve been waiting for a rainy day to descend on Yellowknife to catch up on some of my computering, but have finally given up as the forecast just continues to be amazing into the foreseeable future. So, I’ll fit in a quick blog between outings to enjoy the sun!

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I know, I post a picture like this every year. But it’s pretty hard to beat summertime in Yellowknife – sunny day and night!

Obviously life with a baby operates at a very different pace than our pre-baby lives, and the type of adventures we get up to has changed considerably. We’re enjoying getting out and showing our little J-bear the World, but we’re still¬†sticking pretty close to home for the most part. Getting out for a walk to the lake or out for tea at Yellowknife’s newest cafe are pretty much all the adventure we can handle lately. We DID buy a larger tent that can accommodate our newly embiggened family and are very much looking forward to getting our little bear out on his first camping trip (where we hope not to encounter any real bears).

Sometimes getting out into the back yard is all the adventure we need. "I say, old chums, anyone interested in a spot of cricket? Or perhaps some lawn bowling?"

Sometimes getting out into the back yard is all the adventure we need. “I say, old chums, anyone interested in a spot of cricket? Or perhaps some lawn bowling?”

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“No? Fine, I will just stay here and smell the flowers.”

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Time for some light reading. We’ve made it to page 42!

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The grandparents visited and brought us fresh lobster and mussels from the maritimes ūüėÄ

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And also a new ride and a cozy blanket, perfect for those brisk arctic mornings (that were a real thing up until about a week ago).

On one of our recent outings we did manage to knock something off of my own bucket list: attend and participate in an auction. Daniel has been in the market for a new bike and when we heard that the Rotary Club was holding a bike auction downtown we figured we had better check it out.

This experience really highlighted a difference between Daniel and my respective approaches to shopping. When we arrived, we spent a few minutes perusing the bikes that were on offer. I picked out a couple that I liked the look of, thinking I¬†might keep an eye on during the bidding in case I could get them for a song. We then went into what I call “hemming and hawing mode”, where we spent what seemed like quite a long time while Daniel closely examined the ones that he was interested in. Back and forth he went between one and the other, then adding a third one to the mix. He closely examined the tires, the gears, the seats, and wheeled each around a little bit. Finally, he chose one favourite and we asked one of the people in charge when it would be going up on the auction block.

Luckily, the order of bikes was entirely dependent on someone showing interest, so we didn’t have to wait for long. Up went Daniel’s chosen¬†bike, and was it ever exciting! Daniel got into a bidding war with two other people but seemed to finally have the upper hand, right at the upper limit of how much he’d decided he was willing to pay. But then!¬†Someone else swooped in out of the blue and snatched the win out of his grasp!

 

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I swear that there were more people than just us at this auction. Not a lot more, but enough to make a difference.

Dejected, Daniel returned to the lot to see if there were any other potential bikes for him to take home. I decided to stay and watch the rest of the action, since one of the bikes I kind of had my eye on was coming up. First, though, one other bike – a rather dejected looking Triumph that was a¬†satisfying red colour. “Do I hear $20?” the auctioneer asked. Silence. “$20? It’s a great little bike.” Silence. “OK, how about $15?” You could practically hear the cricket sounds. “No one? $15??” I was starting to feel sorry for the poor bike.¬†Seeming to have a will of its own, up shot my arm. “Sold!” Bewildered, I proceeded to the cash station to pay for my new acquisition, totally forgetting to watch what happened with the bike that I was actually interested in. Up close it was apparent that my new Triumph was going to require a lot of love and attention. But it was mine! And I had participated in, and won, an auction!

Feeling pretty satisfied with myself, I wheeled my new bike over to Daniel¬†(with some difficulty, as one of the brakes appeared to be stuck). Daniel looked alarmed. “Where did you get that?” he asked. “I bought it!” I proclaimed. “I see,” said Daniel. “It’s a bike for you!” I said. “Um, great. Thanks.” He looked skeptical. I told him I would push it back home and send him and J-bear in the car. Creaking and squeaking, the bike and I made our way home. Now we just need to find the time to fix it!

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Triumphant!