This past week Jennifer of Nunablog posted some thoughts on "The Plane". An excellent post on what most of us think about the arrival of the plane.
It reminded me about a conversation I had shortly after I got here. I was talking to a person from Arctic Bay, and I was all excited because it was mail day. Back when we had jet service here, the plane, and thus the mail arrived two times a week.
As I went on and on about looking forward to getting mail the person said to me "You know Clare, it wasn't that long ago when mail arrived here once a year, by ship. There would be times when people who had left on the ship for medical treatment down south would pass away, and word wouldn't come for a year." Yeah, twice a week doesn't seem that bad then. Especially these days when you can get instant email, complete with file transfers, chatting and the rest.
I've decided I don't mind the relative dearth of planes so much. It's the thought of paying almost $5000 to fly south in one that irks me.
Thanks to that new father, Charlie Moores, I've added a new blog to my sidebar. Birdman, the blog of James Wolstencroft, a birder/tour leader from Tanzania. Check out this description of an emergence of flying ants from his latest post Mes Amis - Amurs.
"The plain is blanketed by a low-flying mist of ants emerging from bunker hollows in many a twisted Acacia mellifera
that skirt the plain. Close-up their abdomens shine juicy and black
like tiny succulent grapes. Queens and their male consorts - or perhaps
two different species are involved, one small, one large - thousands of them are being consumed by scores of territory-holding Red-capped Larks andGrassland Pipits who
can be seen rising vertically from the ground, to a height of a couple
of metres, before abruptly dropping back. This is happening away into
the distance as far as sight with bins can reach. A couple of the
Maasai Larks make clumsy, yet effective, near-vertical sallies in
pursuit of the feast from above."
I headed back to the office and, as we now knew where he was staying, Mark and Kevin headed to the Friendship Centre to get the numbers from the BC plate on the boat. I’d already run him on the computer and nothing had come up, so I needed to look elsewhere for information. From his Driver’s license I knew that his address was Incline Village Nevada, so I decided to start there. I tracked down who was responsible for policing Incline Village, and ended up talking with a Sheriff’s Deputy down there.
When I asked him if he knew Michael J. he said he did, but that not as a criminal. He said that he was a stock broker, who’d just gone through a messy divorce, and that he was kind of intense. He then said that there was a warrant for an outstanding fine, but nothing that we would be interested in. I was left, I thought, with nothing to go on.
The BC Trailer plate came back registered to another person, this time from Sardis BC. Again it didn’t come back as stolen, but I called both Victoria PD and Chilliwack Detachment to check with the registered owners and find out what was up with their plates. I then sat back and waited for Michael J. to arrive, not knowing as much as I would have liked.
Before he arrived, Victoria Police got back to me. They’d been to the address of the elderly couple that owned those BC plates. Unfortunately they had apparently moved out, and no one knew to where. Trying to track down a new address for them by computer was fruitless, and I just kept getting the original address. Now that I had nothing concrete but the ringing alarm bells I began to imagine worse case scenarios and began to think that Mr. and Mrs “Smith” were in a shallow unmarked grave somewhere.
When Michael J. arrived, one of the first things he said to me was “I remember my Uncle’s name now.” Oh? “Yes, it’s Joseph and Margaret Smith.” ??? Sorry, your UNCLE’S name is Joseph and Margaret Smith? “Yes that’s right”. Okay. (ding ding ding)
We started off talking about his vehicle, and I let him know that he could not drive it until it was properly registered, and he asked me how he was to do that. When I said that he’d have to contact whoever issued plates in Nevada he looked at me puzzled, and said that he wanted to register them here. I told him that he had to be a resident to do that, and when he persisted I just pointed him in the direction of the local license issuer and would let him explain it to him.
So I asked what brought him to La Ronge and he told me that he had come up do some fishing. When I pointed out to him that there was still four feet of ice on the lake and that fishing wouldn’t be open to non-residents for some time, he simply stated that he planned on sticking around until break up and fishing season and that he planned on camping out on the lake for as long as he could. What did he do in Nevada that would allow that sort of time? He told me he was semi-retired. From what I asked, and he told me he was a banker (ding ding). Oh, I see and did he have any family? His eyes rolled down in a look of despair, as he told me that his family was all killed in a fire. (ding ding ding).
But after a little more conversation surrounding the plates (How did you get them? My Uncle gave them to me) etc. I had no choice but to bid him goodnight, the alarm bells that were still ringing in my head were not getting any quieter.
La Ronge in April is a great spot. Spring is giving strong hints that it is coming, the promise of summer is in the air. It is not, however, a great time for boating.
I was on days off when I first saw it. A new white Ford Bronco pulling a 22 foot Lund Tyee boat, with BC plates. It was enough to set my alarm bells off, for there was still four or five feet of ice on Lac La Ronge. A couple of days later, while I was still off, I saw it again, still pulling this huge boat around. I promised myself that I’d stop it the first opportunity I had once I returned to work.
I didn’t notice the vehicle for the first couple of days back but one evening I was driving back to the office, when I met just the Bronco going the opposite direction. As it passed I looked at the plate (I’d already called telecomns before we were close) and ran it on the computer. Seconds later the reply came back, it didn’t show the plates as being stolen however showed that they were invalid and suspended. The registered owner was an elderly couple in Victoria, say Joseph and Margaret Smith, and armed with this information I spun around and stopped the vehicle.
It is hard to explain sometimes just why some things set alarm bells ringing. I think that, for the most part, we key on to subtle hints in behaviour better than we think we are. And when you get good at something, such as police work, you get better at picking up those subtle hints. By the time I reached the driver’s door my alarm bells were pretty hard to ignore.
Seated in the driver’s seat was a bearded man in his forties, obviously very nervous. I asked him for his driver’s licence, registration and insurance and he handed me a Nevada Driver’s Licence, a vehicle title from Nevada, an insurance card with a Nevada address, and then he searched the glove box in vain for the registration. Our exchange went exactly like this…
“I kind seem to find the registration.” Who is the vehicle registered to? (I loved asking questions I already knew the answer to) “My Uncle.” What’s your Uncle’s name?” “Ha, you’re going to find this funny but I can’t remember his name.” You’re right I do find that funny.
Now, normally what I should have done was tow the vehicle, and give the man, Michael J., a ticket for misuse of plates. I’d have kept the vehicle until it could be properly registered. It was obviously his, at least according to the insurance and the title. However, I knew, knew, that there was a lot more to this, and I wanted some time. So I asked where he was staying and he told me the Friendship Centre. I told him he couldn’t drive the vehicle, beyond taking it back to the Friendship Centre (“Seeing you’re a visitor here I’m going to give you a bit of a break.”), until it was properly registered, and I asked him to come back to our office in an hours and a half (his claim that he was on his way to church gave me some time to do some digging)
With that I headed back to the office, to try and determine what the real story was.
Every once in awhile I got a whole bunch of hits from a single search term. Now I'm not talking about hits on Purple Saxifrage which I get on a daily basis... from all over the world. I still have no idea why so many people are searching for it, but I digress.
Today it is Arctic Gull(s). Was there a TV show on? or is it a unit of study in school for the States? All day, from all over the US, California, Utah, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas, Ohio... etc.
Maybe it's a new band? Or Disney's latest Hockey Team?
The other day we got word that Travis needed to go down to Iqaluit the beginning of December for some dental work. This of course entails me having to fly down with him (Leah doesn't fly well). Now it's not that I'm so adverse to a small change in scenery (although Iqaluit is really, really far down on my list for a change in venues), but it is a major pain in the butt in terms of life in general and the House in particular. Now I'm madly trying to find someone to cook for clients for five days, while I try and fill my time down south (maybe Leah will let me take her laptop, although I kind of doubt it), and keep Travis both entertained and soothed. Currently I don't have anyone booked, and could just block off the time, but, quite frankly, we could use the revenue. And there is always the possibility that you lose out on a longer term reservation.
The other headache came this morning in the form of having too many clients. One of our clients was due out on today's plane but it was cancelled due to weather. Normally that shouldn't present a problem, 'cause if no one can get out, no one can get in. But I have a client who arrived yesterday, booked into the hotel for a day and booked in here for the rest of their stay. Four clients - three rooms.
Fortunately two of the clients, who are travelling together, are going to share a room, so that problem is resolved. Now I just have get baking for the meeting here tonight.
Earlier this afternoon, I had Hilary in my arms and was walking with her around the living room. As I looked out the living room windows I happened to see the unmistakable form of a falcon diving towards a raven flying about 10 feet off the ground. When the bird hit, the raven dropped slightly but kept flying, looking no worse for wear. As the much smaller falcon was climbing again for what looked to be a second dive I set Hilary down and grabbed my binoculars.
Unfortunately in doing so I lost sight of the falcon and it did not try again for that raven. I'm going to assume that it is a Gyrfalcon as the Peregrine's should have left some time ago. Alas I didn't get a good enough look to tell for sure. What ever it was it must have been hungry to take on a raven.
I think that I first had bannock in Nelson House Manitoba back in 1978 when I was a summer student with the RCMP. I thought that I had tasted ambrosia and have been a bannock fan ever since. In fact a sure way to get on my good side is to feed me bannock. Bannock is of course another legacy of the whalers in the Arctic (along with dance, the squeezebox, and a healthy smattering of DNA), and you can find it made in almost every household.
This is my bannock recipe. I usually make a double recipe, and make half with raisins, half without. I fall very much on the side of raisins in the raisins/no raisins in bannock debate, but have never been known to turn down bannock with out them.
Mix together 3 cups flour, 6 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a large bowl. Add 1 pint of milk. Mix into dough. You'll have to add more flour until you get a slightly sticky dough. Add raisins (I use a very generous amount of raisins, I like them in bannock alot). Roll out to a 1/2inch thickness and cut into biscuit size circles. Bake in oven at 400 for about 17 minutes (depending on your oven it could be 15-20 minutes.
They're best warm, but I'm mean who really cares, it's bannock!
Like most bloggers (or at least I hope it's like most bloggers, otherwise this is going to come off as pretty vain) I seem to have somewhat an obsession with stats. I visit StatCounter several times a day, and Typepads Stats occassionally. I like StatCounter the most out of the various stat programs I've tried, it's free (a big seller) and offers many different facets of your stats.
A couple of things I usually look for are the search strings that bring people to the blog (nothing really unusual lately, although people looking for the shocking dog collar video from America's Funniest Home Videos and people looking for Sgian Dbuhs have been big lately. And the everpresent searchers for Purple Saxifrage still visit me at least a couple of times a day. Mostly though I look at returning visiters and new visitors that visit a lot of pages.
I look at returning visitors because it's kind of interesting where people who keep coming back are from. Some I know because of the comments they've left, but most quietly keep coming back. It is especially nice to see new visitors who go back and read through the archives. Both are satisfying because obviously they are enjoying what they are reading. Yesterday, one new visitor went through most of my archives (49 page views).
Although I know who the new visitor is (they sent me an email and are interested in visiting Arctic Bay) and know who some of my regulars are, most are anonymous. I generally get about 150 to 200 hits a day, of which between 35 and 40 are returning guests. My curiosity gets the better of me wondering who they are. Who is the visitor from Japan? It's not too hard to figure out which visitors are my parents, but whos dropping by just a frequently from Fresno California? Hannah North Dakota, if memory serves me right has all of 25 people who live there (it's on the border of ND and Manitoba), but someone from there stops by on a regular basis. I know who comes by from Bella Bella, but not Sarnia.
So thank you to all who pop in, I hope it is worth your while. Maybe just this once, leave a comment, say hello. It's nice to meet you.