Saturday, May 18, 2013


My herb plants were getting too big to still be sitting in their disintegrating peat pucks, so I knew I needed to replant them. Easier said than done. The hardware store carries a few cheap plastic plant pots, but only much larger than would fit in my kitchen window. I could try to use yogurt containers like I've put the beans into, but we've kinda cooled off towards yogurt for a while I think... The same tub has been sitting in the fridge for about a month now (I suppose I should go check and see if it's green and fuzzy... ). Also, for something on display in my kitchen window, I'd like it to look prettier than a yogurt container. I'm vain about my kitchen.
Also, when I bought our sets of dishes, they came with these 8 ridiculous tiny mugs. We are a coffee loving family... we like our coffee. And we like a lot of it. These little cups hold about half of what my normal mug does. Good if you've got a lot of company I guess and you want the coffee to go further, but frankly I'd rather just make a second pot than get stingy with the good stuff. So we had some never used mugs pushed to the back of our cupboard. See where I'm heading with this yet?
They may be too small for coffee, but they're just about right for a kitchen supply of culinary herbs. Also, is it just wishful thinking (and perhaps reflections of the herbs in the glass) or do I actually see hints of GREEN!!!!! in our lawn!?! The last few days have been rather nice, and while the place is still looking a little dull, there is some greening up finally happening out there, little by little.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ugly Spring

Spring in this land is not a time for lushness, and idyllic flowers sighing on light breezes and baby animals gambolling about. Spring here is just ugly. I can't comment on whether this is the case every year, but this year spring is ugly.
 This is my front yard, looking out towards the road... there's construction debris everywhere which doesn't help things of course, but the sullen earth is barren so far, and everything is painted in greys and browns. There are deep sinkholes in the lawn where the earth was never properly resettled after this place's foundations were dug up. .
 And this is the view along the property towards the rear. I assume the posts mean a deck will be built at some point in the future? Honestly I have no idea. Again, the only thing green are a few patient spruce trees way in the back.

These next pictures I took down by the water, and I must admit they have a rather harsh, striking beauty about them, but it's not quite the May I was looking forward to either.
 Chunks of river ice left high and stacked on the river bank after the flood waters receded. I didn't have anyone with me to photograph, but that stack of blocks is taller than I am. Makes you wonder if spring break up in the rivers in this country weren't the muse for inukshuks.
 More ice littered along the shoreline. Again, the scale of these huge ice boulders is pretty magnificent, but it's hard to appreciate in these pictures
This picture is from a bit of a lookout on a higher bank further along the river. You can really see the colour of the water here. It changes between a muddy brown colour when it gets itself all stirred up, and a flat leaden colour that just looks severe and cold and uninviting.

Welcome to spring in the north. I just finished getting caught up in game of thrones, and I can't help but imagine that perhaps this is what spring looks like in Winterfell as well.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


This week I took the plunge and made my first ever batch of homemade pasta. And it wasn't nearly as scary or hard as I was afraid it would be. Good upper body workout for sure. But not really tricky. Thought I'd share the recipe so you can try it too!

1 cup flour
1 egg
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 bowl cold water

That's it! Sounds easy so far, right? Ok, so here's the instructions that go with it:

Pour the flour onto your clean counter top. Add the salt, mix it in, then mound the dry ingredients up and make a well in the middle. Crack your egg into the well, then slowly work it into the flour by making swirling motions with your finger. Add a tbsp of oil and start pressing with your hands, trying to form a cohesive dough. It will probably be crumbly and grainy. Here's where the bowl of cold water comes in. The recipe I found calls for "1-2 tablespoons of water until your dough has the right consistency". Personally I find that hard to judge by the tablespoon full, and I'm a rather tactile person, so I like to just wet my hands and work that moisture into the dough, and repeat until it finally sticks together and just forms a smooth dough that doesn't crack when you fold and knead it. The recipe says knead 5-8 minutes, but I figure by the time I get my dough to the right texture I've already been working it over for a few.
If you have a pasta machine, here's where it gets easier. If not, grab a rolling pin and get ready for the upper body work out part. The dough is springy and likes to shrink back on himself. You'll have to roll, and roll, and roll to get a sheet of dough anywhere close to thin enough. You can cut the dough any way you want at this point, I chose to use a drinking glass to cut out circles, then stuff them, fold them, and then call them tortellini. You can make whatever kind of pasta you like!

I stuffed mine with cheddar, ricotta, parmesan, asparagus and onions, but you can stuff nearly anything into pasta and have it turn out delicious. In the future I'll try to roll the pasta a little bit thinner, but I'm so glad I finally tried it. And there will be a next time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


We have some arts and culture... see? lol

All joking aside though, this guy's really got some good stuff. This song is called James Bay is Calling Me, which I think is also the title of his album. I think this video might have been shot at our curling club. Kinda cool.

I'm also trying to get my hands on "Through Black Spruce" (I think? perhaps it's three black spruce?) which was written by a man from up here. It's a fiction novel, but apparently if you actually know the history of the area it's not quite so fictitious, just slightly embellished. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent and such, but a lot of it happened. There was a plane crash with a drunk pilot at the yoke. Mention it, and the locals know exactly which crash they're talking about. That was so-and-so's plane, he was in no shape to be flying. Two characters who die in the book can be visited at the local cemetery, their names on two little white crosses. I think it would be neat to read.

In terms of more visual arts, a lot of people up here dabble in different things. Anything that has "traditional native" connotations is big business up here, from paintings of very tribal style animals, to soapstone carvings, and geese woven from tamarack twigs and stuffed with sweet scented herbs. There's a gift shop that caters to our trickle of a tourist trade. A lot of artists hit up nurses, doctors, medics and teachers with their wares, knowing that we're likely to want a piece of James Bay to take with us when we inevitably move back south. They aren't shy about it either. They'll walk up, knock on your door, show you a piece they've made and tell you what they'd like to get for it. Especially in the areas that are known to be teacher and hospital housing. Enterprising youngsters, I'll give them that.

Ps. The water levels rose enough to make even the Elders, who are familiar with a life time of break-ups feel edgy, but they appear to be receding now. The emergency level on Moose Factory has been downgraded, and the water has dropped a bit. Now, apparently there are two more dams further up river that still haven't been opened, and we can expect there might be another slight rise in water levels, but we should be mostly out of danger now, though the local radio station frequently reminds us to stay prepared and vigilant.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring Thaw

The river has broken up, and great slabs of ice are tumbling over one another, piling up against the shores as the river desperately tries to make a break for it down river. Unfortunately, that same relentless driving current has pushed too many slabs of ice into narrower parts of the river, collecting more and more ice and other debris until the river all but stopped. This happens often in the spring, but it's bad news, and worse this year than most. The island of moosefactory has several important buildings surrounded completely by water already, the hospital has been evacuated, and any high risk citizens as well (seniors, pregnant women, people who require regular medical care at the hospital etc.). The same sort of at-risk population is being evacuated from Moosonee as well (since our only hospital is the one on the island). But it's not a state of emergency yet, oh no. It's not considered a state of emergency until the bridge to the airport is under water. Which makes it very difficult indeed to evacuate people. They're about 12" away from that point now, and it will likely cover the bridge some time today. Did the town call the people who run the train and ask them to add more cars and expect an influx of refugees later on today? Oh silly, now why would they do that? The train has already left Cochrane, it will arrive here around 2, and leave again at 5. If evacuation was even a potential at any point today, with the airport unaccessible, the train needed to know before 9 this morning. Great job folks.
Now, all is not dire. People with stairs down to the river, and docks, and even boat houses are in it for sure right now, but no actual homes or community buildings are flooded right now in Moosonee. Our building is up fairly high, for all that it's close to the river, and so far even our sump pump hasn't had to work overtime, and the crawl space is dry. There are no standing puddles anywhere near us, and thankfully it's been a pretty dry spring so far, and right now the only real threats are melting snow (which is becoming less of a problem in our immediate vicinity) and the overflowing, choked up river. That being said I've heard it's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow and I can only hope and cross my fingers that it's just a half-hearted drizzle and that rainwater will not compound our issues.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Home Sweet Hope.

Let me tell you a little bit about this charming little house. It's right in the middle of town, a convenient walk to just about everything you could possibly need. It's a storey and a half tall. It has three bedrooms, and two and a half bathrooms. It's about 1750 square feet. One of those bedrooms is on the main level, right near the main door. Perfect to turn into a massage clinic. The master bedroom is a loft, with a railing that overlooks the living room. The third bedroom is in the basement, which was fully gutted and refinished last summer. The kitchen is an efficient U-shape. Not huge, but well laid out. There is a breakfast bar, with a pair of stools on one arm of that U. The entire main floor (except for the bedroom and bathroom of course) is all open. The light and warmth that comes in through those big windows at the front is just lovely in the living room. There is an outdoor workshop, not quite large enough to be called a garage, but it has a light and a heater, and affords some space to putter about and indulge hobbies. The backyard has lilac bushes, a fire pit and even a kid's play castle. There are gardens, and even most of a clothes line (one anchor post and the line and hardware are all there, but they took down the rotting post at the other end. It would be easy to put up another post). In short, I'm totally in love with this little house.

And it could just be ours.

The man who owns it now is a paramedic up here at the moment, but he's pursuing an upgrade to his education that will allow him to work out in BC. He will be moving south while he takes the necessary classes, and then moving out west, so his house is being put up for sale. I only mention this because it's a unique opportunity for us, in that he wants to get rid or the house and responsibility for it, but isn't in a huge rush for the money from the sale of the house, because he's not planning to buy another right now.

What we've offered to the home owner, is a rent-to-own agreement. We don't yet have a down payment together to apply for a mortgage, but we feel that in a year we will. So we rent the home from him for a year, save independently as well as having a portion of our rent go towards the purchase of our home. At the end of that year, we buy the house from him.

Obviously, if he gets a better offer, someone offering to give him his asking price and do it right now, he will take it. It only makes sense. But there is a timeline, which is encouraging. He wants to be out of the place by June. We only have to be the best offer for the duration of this month. Secretly I relish every day that he puts off hanging the for sale signs, nearly as much as I relish the news that nobody else has met with him, to sit down and talk about the options, or to ask for a tour of the house. I also relish the fact that there are a record 11 houses for sale in town right now. There is still time, but right now our long shot offer isn't looking all that bad.

I have my fingers and toes and every other digit crossed that it goes through. I am really REALLY in love with this house, I can't imagine a more perfect one for us. We could have a real garden, get a dog. Even think about kids some day. It feels like a necessary step, and with a little luck and a whole lot of hope and good timing, we might just be ready to make it now.

Wow... It's been a big year.. Big move, new job, new marriage... and maybe now we'll be first time home owners!