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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frozen days.....

The weather has become ridiculous lately.

Of course I (for some strange reason) forget that I live in the arctic, and when the blizzards blow in and we get to -70 degrees at night with wind chill...I am surprised.

It is really hard to describe to people what that type of cold feels like. It's not only the feel of the cold on your being, but the emotions that it produces, the mentality of the it all. There is no being 'warm' in the winter. It's more just making sure you are not going to suffer permanent damage. You learn to breathe a certain way so that the cold does not make you gag and so you don't suffer from lung shock and end up coughing for half an hour. You turn your head at that perfect angle so that the wind doesn't steal your oxygen away. You blink rapidly and squint a bit to make sure the ice freezing on your eyelashes doesn't prevent you from seeing. You try and relax your muscles so that they don't waste calories shivering. But most of all you change your mental perception. It's hard to do when every cell in your body is in shock.

Like every winter the extreme cold created an earthquake of symptoms. Our tub drain quit working, and now we do a daily dance of hair dryers and boiling water to try and thaw it out. Frost crept up a corner in the pantry. We increased the calories the dogs were eating, and decided to let one of the stay in every night as she has a thinner undercoat. Trips outside we're shortened so had to be planned accordingly. I had to brush off two feet of snow that caked the satellite dish. I broke one of the dogs chain clips because I tapped it against the shovel to try and dislodge some ice inside the mechanism, and so now rope is being used. It is a bit like having an annoying relative stay at your home; you love them, you tolerate the stay, but you know it will only last for a little while.

Our only unfixed female dog gave birth to two tiny pups during the coldest part of this winter. We bred her with our husky and we knew that she was going to whelp, but her tummy was pretty small so we figured she had a few more weeks to go. I checked on her daily and one chilly afternoon I could not get her to come out of her house to change her bed straw. Tiny little mews were tucked against her tummy. So now she and her pups are in the house with us. Momma dog has a annoying habit of taking treats and leftovers and 'burying' them around the house wherever she can find a nook or cranny. Everyday I pay a gross version of an Easter egg hunt and look for her stashes. It works to beat cabin fever.

That and satellite tv.

I have kept myself busy with chores and with planning a vegetable garden this summer. I get excited just thinking about it, it's the same feeling that I got when I was elementary school and we sprouted beans in damp paper towels.

On another note, I am looking for other bloggers who would like to sample my natural products and write a review about them on their blog. I have done this a couple of times and it was always amazing! So if you know someone or you write a blog and would like to write a review let me know! You can email directly at: If you want to see the products visit my etsy store at: Stay warm everyone!

A quick drawing I did of a arctic wolf.  It's tiny.  And fitting as winter is the season of the wolf.  visit it at: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

yeck. hospitals.

Fate has a sense of humor it seems.

My husband was planning a long winter camping/hunting trip into the arctic wilderness during my bi-annual shopping trip over the Christmas break.  The night before the trip my husband and his traveling partner somehow started chatting about various collarbone fractures that friends and family had suffered over the years.  Of course this meant that the next morning as he was finishing packing his sled, my husband slipped while carrying a 15 gallon jug of gas and slammed himself collarbone first into a grub box corner.  He broke it into four pieces.

As it looked and felt like a major fracture at the time (though they couldn't tell for sure) the clinic here in Anaktuvuk Pass sent him to Fairbanks where I picked him up and we trotted over to the Native Hospital for a late night visit to determine what would happen next.  We had been told that we were expected.

Anyone who is in the Alaska Native Health system knows that service is spotty and difficult.  It can range from outright insulting and frustrating, to competent and amazing.  It just depends on the waxing and waning of the moon.  As someone who has spent their whole life in the system all I know is that it will ALWAYS be a task.  And tedious.  And will normally take a very, very, very long time.    When I was teaching for the NSB I had the opportunity to enjoy my own health and dental insurance.  It was like a fantasy science fiction world all clean and bright and shiny.  I remember having that service as a wonderful and amazing dream.  *sigh*

In reality we showed up at the Native Hospital at about 5pm and were greeted with a few grunts and puzzled looks.  My husband sat in a chair grappling with the mind numbing pain that ensued from being jostled and bounced around in a tiny plane for an hour and half.  I was informed that it was just a 'common collarbone fracture' (though this person did not even examine my husband) and that we should come back tomorrow morning for x-rays.   I told them that he had only been given ibuprofen for the pain and that it was not helping, and if it was possible to get something a tiny bit stronger for the night that would be great.  This person started sputtering about how my comment will 'red flag' us....etc etc.  There was emphatic arm swinging and grandiose comments and other stuff I wasn't listening to.  I sat there frowning, biting my tongue.  They finally agreed to actually look at his shoulder, and once seeing it gave him something to help with the pain as it was a pretty impressive.  The next morning we arrived early only to have to sit in the waiting area for six hours.  In the end we were told that my husband would have to go to Anchorage for surgery.

I think in blogs people find it easy to use them as a pathway to complain about things, but this experience has left me dumbfounded.  Mostly because once we arrived in Anchorage the experience was such the polar opposite.  Again they knew we were arriving and we were helped and tended to during the whole experience.  Our waits were an hour or less.  The staff was professional and pleasant. The surgery went well and the surgeon and nurses were very kind and efficient.  We stayed for a couple of days and then left, me clutching a thick pile of papers with various instructions on aftercare and my husband sporting a new metal collarbone with 8 screws.

I am adjusting to taking on most of the chores in the household and we are both recovering from that whirlwind travelling and exhaustion marathon. I'm currently fighting a sore throat and head cold, of which I will not discuss it for fear of it actually occurring.  The hardest thing though is watching my husband figure out a way to survive 4 more weeks in a sling, as this is the season he usually does a lot of outdoor stuff like trapping and caribou hunting.

So I apologize for the future spotty blog posts this month!  I hope this finds you and yours all warm and healthy and that you all had a amazing Christmas and New Years!