Fire Engine Red

Somehow while in the midst of a storm- the sun breaks through the clouds to remind me that there is hope.

And by hope, I mean knowing that come summer, I will have:

  1. A cabin of my very own – With a PINK outhouse! – Not to mention fabulous studio space
  2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (I am so thankful for Yukon Healthcare)
  3. Mountain Bike as transportation, and fingers crossed- maybe my darling of a Chevy, Ol’ Blue-  will make the trip up the Alaska Highway from B.C. with me behind the wheel (Spring road trip in the making? Possibly)
  4. AND – As of tonight- I have a job lined up for the summer being the Museum Manager for the Dawson City Firefighters Museum

Now to just survive the final days of school, holding on tight to the last bits of sanity that I have.

Here is one of the vehicles I saw in the museum today!


 

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ELMER GAUNDREAU WITH THE CLAPP AND JONES FIRE STEAM PUMPER

1897 Clapp and Jones Fire Steam Pumper

– Put into service with the Dawson Fire Department in 1900, this was the second engine to be purchased by the city. Capable of pumping 500 gallons a minute, the double engine meant that one pump was always running, thus resulting in a near constant stream of water. The steamer had two suction and discharge openings, allowing either side to be connected for use. The frame of the steamer rests on springs, which would have helped it to run smoothly on the rough roads of early Dawson.

For more information on Firefighting and it’s history in Dawson City : Click here

 

 

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Getting Plastered On A Thursday.

And by that- I mean getting my face plaster casted for my assignment dealing with prosthetics.

 

First Step: Cover entire face, neck, ears, hairline, eyebrows, lips, etc. with a thick layer of Vaseline.

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Oh yes, and don’t forget to put some up into your nostrils.Image

 

 

 

Step two: Have two assistants that you trust and that have previous plaster casting experience to assist you. You will be completely useless and blind in a matter of moments. So pick your assistants wisely.

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I chose Bronwyn and Justice. The super-couple of SOVA. Both very talented artists. Watch out people- this duo-power is out to crash and conquer the art world!

Step 3: Have your assistants begin to plaster your face. It is honestly a rather relaxing experience. This picture was taken before they blinded me for the next hour or so.

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The perks with having artists do this- is that you will have a two people who can think on their feet, strategize, and always have aesthetics in mind

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Step Four: This is where I am completely unaware of what these two goof balls do whilst working on my face. I can hear, smell, but not speak or see. I have asked them to document the process- and document they did. With lots of “selfies” – Oh how I love my friends.

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Finishing touches on my nostrils.

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Strips of plaster had to be cut and specially fitted for the bridge, nostril, and delicate parts of my nose, eyelids and other parts of my face that proved finicky.

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There seemed to also be a plaster war going on while this was happening as well.Image

Step Five: Soon- I am fully plastered, and ready to sit still , try not to move to much, and allow the plaster to dry. I am completely blind, but can make some squeaky noises through the air pocket between my lips and the plaster. I sound a bit like a dolphin with a paper bag on it’s head.

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Hearing giggles, and feeling hot breath on my head- I am intrigued as to what the hell is going on. Image

It is not until I check my iPhone after the whole process is completed that I realize what these two guys where doing…Image

Remember- I am completely unaware of what is up. All I can do is squeak and grasp blindly into the air to try to catch one of there bodies to somehow ask what is going on. I hear laughter- I can’t help but dolphin muffle and laugh as well.

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Step Six: Soon it is time to peel off the mask. Bronwyn and Justice walk me over to the work desks, where I can sit on a stool, and start to scrunch and move my face beneath the mask, creating air pockets. What a weird sensation- From wet warm plaster strips, to cooling and hardening, to becoming itchy, to the peeling, pulling, and finally popping off of the mask!

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The bright light of the classroom is blinding, and I feel super icky. The Vaseline saved my eyebrows, eyelashes, and hairline from being ripped out, and also just for general comfort of the skin on my face.Image

And here it is! My face cast! I am happy to say that it looks like me! This is step one in my prosthetic project, more strange things to come.

Thanks again Bronwyn and Justice for helping me out!

 

 

 

Plaster Casted Upper Ventral Region

Yes, that means boobs.

 

As an artist- sometimes you need help, and if you have a wicked idea that involves body parts, well, you kind of need to go on a search for willing appendage donors (is a breast an appendage? never mind – you know what I mean)

So Friday after school I was an appendage donor and had my breasts plaster casted, for my friend Dana’s homework assignment on prosthetics. I am really excited to see the final project, as there will be roughly 25 sets of breasts casted for this project. You should be excited too- as I think her assignment will blow the gallery show out of the water.

So to spread the good karma, and to satisfy my curiosity- we set up shop in the wheelchair washroom and got to work. And because I am way to curious for my own good- I requested another student (Props go to Lucy) to film and help me create a stop-motion film documenting the process. Because hey, it’s not everyday you get to create art with your rack, am I right ?

I found the whole experience relatable to a tea party with friends, it was very casual, and had lots of laughter, the only thing missing was the tea. Weirdly enough, this was something that I truly needed since my mental health has decided to play dangerously with my well being these days. It was also a nice pick me up- it’s nice to be part of someone’s art project. Even if it is just your breasts. I like to help out where I can, what can I say?

I think the practice of being a nude model for KIAC drawing nights helped with some of my body confidence/acceptance issues- and to be honest- this whole getting naked for art thing is quite liberating! To be able to find the beauty in someone else’s, as well as your own body, is such a wonderful thing.

I look forward to creating this stop-motion film. I feel like the title should be something along the lines of “They’re Just Boobs”

Here are some quick iPhone photos of the “tea party in the washroom”

Here are the “Facebook Proof Photos”

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And then here is a shot of my plaster casted upper ventral region.

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Oh- The things we do for art.

Thanks for the opportunity Dana.

 

Improvising. Like The True Small Town Girl That I Am.

Hello !

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Here I am beside the Yukon River, with not my snowmobile- but the Doctor’s snowmobile. (I was on my own for the month of January, with a broken down skidoo- so he graciously lent me his Bravo so I could get to school and back in the cold temperatures- “my contribution to your education” he calls it. Very thankful for all the helping hands in Dawson City)

For school – we are to write about our experiences and art created at Yukon School of Visual Arts. Well, as some of you may know- My experiences at SOVA have not been of a quality that I am willing to post about on my blog. Challenges are good, yes, but this circumstance has become more of a burden than an enjoyment. More of a heavily medicated experience than an invigorating one. I don’t work in the studios unless I have too. I don’t spend time at that school unless I absolutely have too. Believe me when I say I try to enjoy every shred that I can while floating through the semester on anti-anxiety meds. Definitely not what I thought Art School was going to be like, but hey, what can I say- this is just a bump in the road, I will learn something from this (I have already learned many things while overcoming this) and I will keep on producing art. Preferably in a less medicated manner, as I do not like this whole icky, floaty, strange feeling. (But it was that or super depressed/panic mode – so I had to prioritize)

So like any small town kid would- I looked to my family, friends, and community (both Fort St. James and Dawson City) for help when times got lonely, confusing, and stressful.

Sure you could say that SOVA brought me to Dawson City- But the people who call Dawson home, that is what has really made this whole crazy first year of art school experience really worth it.

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The VICTORS – Snowshoe Baseball team that I was lucky enough to be apart of!

So thank you, everyone who has held out a hand and let me grasp it and really, well, pick your brains and gain such rich and inspiring knowledge that has influenced my art and myself not only as an artist, but also as a well-rounded, strong young woman on the journey to self-healing through the practice of making art.

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At the Traditional Feast- gifting a painting I created at a painting workshop at Myth and Medium to a very inspiring and talented Nunavut Artist- Mathew Nuqingaq

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I have worked very hard to be successful at art school. Knowing that I learn best in a one-on-one teaching environment – I took advantage of any opportunity that presented itself. Including when my father stopped by from driving down from Tuktoyatuk, where I got to spend a weekend with one of my favourite people, being tutored to help me with a difficult project, I spent that day learning about gears, motors, and general mechanic knowledge that became very helpful for me to create my kinetic sculpture.

Hopefully- I will get the marks saved for posts regarding SOVA put towards posts that showcase the fabulous people and resources that have been available to me in Dawson City, outside of school. My fighting argument is well- if a student is struggling in Math class, he/she is allowed, even encouraged to get a tutor. So when an Art student is struggling in Art school, and feeling that her expectations are not being met, what is so wrong about turning to her newfound community for assistance? Here are a few events, places, and people who have been such amazing resources for me during my school year.

  • Myth and Medium 2014
  • Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Community
  • Dawson CIty Community
  • Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department
  • KIAC
  • Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
  • Robert Service School
  • Mayor of Dawson City
  • The countless people I’ve interviewed for my short documentary
  • My family in British Columbia
  • My close family friends in Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Elder Victor Henry, as well as many other Elders of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in community
  • My inspirational roommate
  • My supportive friends
  • Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department Library
  • Community Library
  • Dawson City Medical Clinic and their wonderful staff
  • Visiting artists as well as local artists
  • My Sweat Lodge family
  • My Yoga Community down in Vancouver
  • My pen pals
  • My neighbours on the Old Dome Road

So you see, I would not have moved to Dawson City if I knew that school was going to be such a brutal experience, but then, I would not have discovered that an organic approach to gaining a well-rounded education of not only the required “foundation year” curriculum, but also the land, community, and local artistic practices does not start in the classroom, it starts with the first hand you shake, the first time you acknowledge whose lands your lucky enough to live on, and the first time you get the wool pulled over your eyes by a cheeky elder. SOVA is a young school- I have hope that they will adapt and evolve to recognize and include such experiences and opportunities for future students, I know they will, change takes time. We all know that. This experience has given me a lot to think about and a lot to smile about, and it simply reminds me that yes, it does have to get pretty dark to be able to see the beauty of the stars that the universe has gifted you to see. And the stars I have found! Oh how thankful I am.

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I am also a Canine Companion and Dog Walker- this is Ziggy. Who helps me by providing smiles, howls, and laughter every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Thank you, Musi Cho, Namaste

What is Myth and Medium You Ask?… Well, Sit Down and Lend Me Your Eyes.

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Myth and Medium is an exploration of First Nation (FN) and Inuit stories and the many ways one can celebrate them. Visual and performance art, as well as storytelling, has always been a very important part of FN and Inuit cultures, used to communicate with each other as well as the natural and spiritual worlds that surround us. FN and Inuit objects and actions are not utilitarian, rather, they symbolize powerful legends, myths, and history. These people of the land are powerful storytellers in their own right, who are slowly regaining their strength that has been tampered, even destroyed, with the arrival of european of settlers. By investing time, interest, and support, we all can create a vibrant and healthy environment where we can celebrate the rich culture of FN and Inuit people.  I was lucky enough to join in on this fantastic celebration. The goal of this gathering was to explore the saying- We have a story to tell 

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Photo above: Myself, Georgette, and Elder Percy Henry at one of the Lectures (I am completely in my happy place- soaking up all the amazing information!)

FN and Inuit culture is not dead. Trust me, it is very much alive, but not like the “old days”. I admire and respect the elders that went through residential school, and the drastic changes of their livelihoods, and send healing thoughts their way. I am excited for the youth, who are given the opportunity to turn back to their elders, to gain a better understanding of their culture, and I send strength and clarity their way, as youth (not just FN and Inuit, but youth of all cultures) are faced with many obstacles to overcome, like drug and alcohol abuse. It is this community of young and old, wise and innocent, this mixture of new and old that will help FN and Inuit communities Canada-wide heal. I am no expert in these matters, this is merely my intrinsic feeling about the situation. 

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Photo above: Myself and Elder Victor Henry, having one last dance at the Traditional Feast

This week of lectures, activities, film screenings, performances, and workshops open to everyone was held in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. And I was lucky enough for it to land on my reading week break! Thank you universe for gifting me such a wonderful week with so many amazing people.

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Photo above: Han singers and dancers take to the floor to amaze us with wonderful song and dance. (My favourite was the Grandmother song)

Mahsi Cho (Thank You)  to all the organizers for hosting such an amazing gathering!

Stay tuned for more posts about this wonderful gathering !

My First Yukon Quest Experience: Part Two

Hello again!

If you would like to refresh yourself on Part One of my Yukon Quest Adventure, click here: https://sallyann16.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/my-first-yukon-quest-experience-part-one/ 

Just to have a small recap here is how the last post ended…

So my Saturday began in the dog tent, tucking in the sleepy sled dogs with yellow fleece blankets, and then covering them with straw. – Again- I was more than happy to be given a task, I was outdoors, with furry sweethearts, and there was no homework to be spoken of! Just frosty ears to be rubbed and more dog poo to be avoided. 

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If I had a comfy leather arm chair and a nice drink to sip on while my feet warmed by the fire- that’d be great.

Unfortunately I am feeling sick to my stomach about school. So I will do my best to leave behind the stresses and dip back into Yukon Quest weekend, -30 below temperatures, and wonderful memories.

All the photos unless otherwise stated were taken by Nicolas Schneider. Thank you Nico for all of you wonderful photographs!

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So – It is Saturday Morning- Maybe 5am, maybe 6am, what I do know is that it is bloody cold- and my mind hasn’t even registered if I put my boots on the correct feet. But first- blanket the dogs.
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These sweethearts barely moved an inch while we tucked them in. First, small yellow fleece blankets, then a thick layer of straw- some of the dogs were dead to the world, tucked in their little tight balls of warmth (feet tucked under bodies, nose tucked under tail, eyes squeezed shut) while others were wide awake, shivering, pacing, peeing, and well, pooping.
Not even my neck warmer pulled up over my nose could stop the wretched stench from making me scrunch my nose and grimace.
Ah yes, any appetite that I did have soon disintegrated.
I did what I could to warm up the dogs, and soon it was time to feed. My mind was slowly coming back to a regular working fashion as the frost gathered on my hair peeking out from my parka hood. Was it minus 30? minus 40? I don’t know- thank god I packed extra socks.
I don’t think I will forget the smell of the dog’s breakfast either- this meat, that meat, and more meat, kibble, water, all coming to a boil. Looking like week old porridge.
Interesting.
Feeding, walking, poop scooping, day light arrives- we soon head into town to have breakfast at The Downtown Hotel.
Oatmeal.
I was thrilled that instead of beaver meat, I had brown sugar instead- and that it did not smell like what the dogs ate earlier that morning. Though it sure looked like the dog’s breakfast.
Nico, Alex, and I head back to camp to do chores. I felt a bit like a puppy following the guys – as this seemed old hat for Nico and Alex. For me it was all new- besides hauling firewood.
It might be 830am or 9am…My roommate Glenda would still be in her housecoat, sipping coffee by a hot fire – I smiled to myself as I found myself once again trouble shooting on how to pick up the dog crap with scrap plastic so to as not dirty my only pair of cold weather mitts. For some wild reason- I was still thrilled I was over in West Dawson doing outdoor chores- because if it had been a regular Saturday- I would be worrying about school.
No time for that here.
Jerry would be leaving tonight- so all eyes were being kept on the dog’s wellbeing, as well as Jerry’s.
The amount of work involved in mushing is beyond what I expected, especially when the universe deems your run to be a difficult one. Jerry had already totalled one dog sled, and after he left Dawson- he will yet again break another sled.
Nico, Alex and I finished the chores early and were able to warm ourselves up by the small woodstove in the wall tent for a short while.
It was great conversation- as I literally jumped two feet in the night before, volunteering with complete strangers, it was nice to swap questions and short stories. I admire both of them immensely- the work ethic and stamina needed to be a dog handler is not something that just anybody could do. And I envied their plans of adventures. Oh how I wanted to drop everything and just explore!
This is Nico and Alex at the Banquet (End of Yukon Quest) – Thank you Susan Mooney for the photo!
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Afternoon rolls around- I have to head back to Dawson to meet up with a local (Jim) who has offered to try to fix my snowmobile.
I hitch a ride with Nico on the snowmobile across the ice road.
I arrive home, strip down to one piece longjohns, open the fridge, and EAT.
My roommate simply observes with a raised eyebrow as my inner lumberjack scarfs down the food like a I myself ran the Yukon Quest.
Followed by falling asleep for a quick cat nap- (I did not even make it under the covers)
Sled was tinkered with, and after a shower and a new set of wool socks and longjohns, I make my way over to West Dawson- This time on my snowmobile. It was dark when I left my home on the dome- and I decided to zip down the “long way” to town- to get on to the ice road in a more efficient manner. Between the mist, the darkness, and my worry of my sled breaking down, the trip across the river was a bit tense. The only thing guiding me was the small little wooden posts on the edge of the ice road- showing me where to turn, what path to follow. Little did I know I was operating a machine with a faulty battery- so I think myself very lucky that I did not strand myself in the middle of the Yukon River that Saturday evening.
I arrive in the midst of chaos. I see a skimmer and tarp with misclaneous objects strewn all over the ground beside the wall tent. I see Jerry and his dog sled,  I see five headlamp orbs bouncing around the dog tent, wall tent, and the tarp, there is a feeling of excitement, but also stress in the air. I find Lisa, and ask what I can do to help, and I am immediately sent to the dog tent to check and walk the dogs. Some of the dogs are fast asleep, some refuse to eat, and some are pacing, ready to run, ready to go. Once again I find myself coaxing and massaging, talking gently to the tired dogs, convincing them to stand up and proceed to walk out of their comfy warm straw beds to go for a quick walk.
I am also put in charge to watch who is eating. Some of the dogs are turning away from their food and water, letting it freeze to the bottom of the bowls. No matter how much I push the bowl closer to their noses, dump it on the ground in front of them, they simply tuck their noses back under their tails and close their eyes. Lucie gives me a bag of frozen meat- “They will eat this!”.  I am reassured by Lucie’s quick thinking  when I start handing out the frozen chunks of beaver meat.
The photo below is of Charles and Lucie at the Yukon Quest banquet.
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Dogs are eating. Check. Back to Lisa, I am soon given tasks such as fetching straw with Nico, changing headlamp batteries, feeding Lisa’s dogs with Alex and Nico, wherever I can be of service, I make myself available. I am soon given the task to tell Lisa what time it is- every 5 minutes.
It seems that every five minutes that pass, the excitement in the air becomes more and more apparent, but also, the panic becomes more and more apparent as well.
Jerry is behind his schedule. The sled is not fully packed, the dogs have not been hooked up to the sled, and his departure time is looming closer and closer.
Once again I am amazed by Jerry and Lisa’s commitment and teamwork. Feeling that I am now more in the way than being helpful- I step back to simply observe. I would not say Lisa and Jerry are polar opposites- but their differences push and pull at each other, creating a powerful melody that sets Jerry up to succeed. It was fascinating to witness all the tasks that needed to be done, and by done, I mean done in mere seconds. There was no time for stumbling around, and asking questions. Now was not the time to ask for detailed instructions on how to pack a sled.
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The night before- I remember asking Lisa when she began mushing. It seems if my memory serves me correctly,  mushing and crossing paths with Jerry happened at the same time, when Lisa was 19. “It’s a lifestyle” she said. A real commitment, both financially and well, just everything. Your whole life revolves around the dogs.
I found this so fascinating, to be able to experience a lifestyle I had never known, a lifestyle I had only seen from the outside. Yes the glamour was still there, but it was buried, buried deep below much more important things. Responsibility, a hard work ethic, passion, and a bit of crazy, among other things, that makes up this hardy lifestyle called Dog Mushing.
Here’s a photo of Nico and the dogs
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Soon I am hooked back into the chaos- which is now becoming more and more heated and frantic. I am given the task to bring the dogs down to the sled, to hook them up. (I am not even sure I am using the proper terminology for any of this by the way, so bear with me!) One dog, two dogs, I don’t know and don’t care what I had just kneeled in, the dogs needed to be out and ready to pull. Every five minutes I shout the time to Lisa. Jerry should have been at the send off by now. But as cool as a cucumber (at least on the outside) he was checking his bag, checking his sled, and now preparing to put boots on the dogs. I am sent to grab the dog jackets, and count the dog blankets to be placed in Jerry’s sled. I catch myself running from sled to dog tent, more than a dozen times in under a half hour.
Coats- check
Boots- check
Howling like wolves?- check
Everything is a blur, Lisa is running around, checking everything twice, three times, four times, checking on Jerry, Jerry checking on dogs, Nico holding the leader at the front of the sled, there are too many people, too many people, the chaos just became way more congested, I run over and catch Lisa by the arm. She is squinting in the dark trying to fix the clasps on the rope. She keeps fumbling at her forehead, looking for the headlamp that is  always strapped there. Only now Jerry has it as backup, packed away. I rip off my headlamp and place it in her hands, then step back out of the chaos.
It seems much quieter, just three feet away, from all the running, howling, and orders. I take a deep breath and look skyward.
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The lights had come out to play once again!
Slipping, sliding, twirling, I could feel my eyelashes start to freeze as I watched the lights caressing the river, mountains, and trees, shimmering in all shades of green, pink, and purple.
I blink.
And the noise returns, the howls, the calls for Jerry to get on the sled, the good luck hugs, the scraping of the sled, the sound of the dog’s claws digging into the icy snow, it was time to head to the sendoff point.
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Lisa and Jerry hang on together, while Nico runs with the dogs in the front. The rest of us follow behind on foot, walking fast paced like excited children, I am talking with an old timer, Harvey, about my snowmobile. He tells me it’s time for me to get my own sled and dogs. Harvey chuckles and adds, he never has a problem starting them (his dog team) in the morning. I laugh, but also do an inward groan. I really hope my sled will start once Jerry is on his way.
Jerry gets to the sendoff point. The dogs are rearing to go. After a few questions and one last check, Jerry is on his way. Gliding onto the Yukon River, Jerry heads south to Whitehorse, the final trek of the race. We see him on the river, passing the campsite- Lisa calls out to him one last time, we all cheer, his reply “I should have eaten dinner!”.
Oh dear.
We get back to the campsite, everyone is wet, cold, and exhausted. I make eye contact with Lisa, she smiles, and pulls me into a big bear hug. I thank her for letting me be her shadow for a couple of days, and also apologize for any time I may have gotten in the way. She shakes her head, she thanks me for coming along. For rolling up my sleeves and diving in for some tough work.
Inside my soul- I am beaming, tired and cold, but beaming with joy. What a fantastic weekend, a wonderful break away from the things that stress me most. I thank Lisa again. I am so thankful for that “Yukon Hospitality” , the opportunity to learn new skills, to challenge myself, to be with like-minded people, and what a bonus, like-minded people close to my age!  *Nico and Alex*
What is also happening inside my soul is a little cloud of sadness, brewing slowly. Soon, these people will have to leave, soon, I will be back to school drowning in frustration. I hang on to every thread of happiness this spectacular weekend has gifted me. I thank everyone who made this weekend so fantastic! And thank you Nico for sharing your wonderful pictures!
Due to another penalty from breaking a sled, Jerry ended up winning the “Red Lantern”, even though he crossed the finish line before others, his penalty was added onto his race time, thus placing him in last place.
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But really, it is not the prize money that makes the Quest. It’s the adventure that is the true reward.
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Enduring the extremes, pushing the boundaries, and mushing through Alaskan and Yukon backcountry. Completing the race. That is the true reward, both for Musher and Dog.
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 I feel so very blessed to have had such a wonderful weekend with the Joinsons, Nico, Alex, Charles, and Lucie, and everyone else at the Yukon Quest Dawson City Checkpoint ! Thank you- and I hope we stay in touch and cross paths again!

Heading North.

Hello dedicated blog subscribers – and to the innocent reader that stumbles upon my blog.

I’m sorry.

A lot has happened since last time I sat down to write.

So let’s have a quick re-cap. (In the most non-naracisstic way)

My summer was spent in Fort St. James – My homeland.

I left Vancouver with mixed feelings.

Knowing that it will be a while before I call the rainforest home again – (if ever) – I left with a tinge of sadness, mixed with the excitement of knowing I’ll be charting unknown waters in the months to come.

At this point- I had no idea what or where or how or why or when. I did not know what the universe had in store for me come September.

All I knew was that I was coming home. And it was a beautiful and frightening feeling.

Gone are the Vancouver supermarkets and chaos,

to be replaced with the Vegetable gardens I grew up in and my silly puppies greeting me with wet noses and waggy tales.

I had put out a question to my friends and family in the Fort.

“Would you attend yoga classes if I was to teach?”

The response was amazing.

The interest in yoga blossomed in little Fort- and I was so thankful to be able to share the gift of a gentle, holistic Hatha yoga to those who had come searching for it at the gym, the classroom at the Enterprise Centre, the health unit, or at Kwah hall and at the tale end, the beach. My goal was to make yoga accessible to my community and what an adventure that was.

This was exciting and anxiety triggering – I loved the feeling of stepping out of my comfort zone, and stepping on to the instructor’s mat at the front of the room. But could I do it? Were my students happy? Was I skilled enough? Can I do this?

Yes. I can do this.

and by the end of the summer- I wished I was teaching yoga full-time (in a perfect universe this would make enough funds to get me through Art school…) as I had such an amazing and enlightening time with my students. It was as if every time I stepped onto my mat to teach, I myself walked away with a new lesson learned.

This little community I discovered by teaching yoga really opened my eyes to the beauty of Fort St. James.

If you have been, you will have seen the lake, trees, mountains, snow, wildlife, etc.

But that is not the beauty I am talking about.

The beauty I found was within all my students. Every single one- even if they just did one class- they helped me open my eyes to all the amazing people I was surrounded by. It gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it.

Every class I taught- I felt more and more whole. Working with your community does that.

*I just can’t help but get all mushy – it’s what I feel and what drew me into the life of a yoga teacher… ALL THIS LOVE!

Teaching 5 yoga classes a week as well as working as a Customer Service Representative at Hub International (Insurance Office/ICBC mini branch) was a big commitment. But in both jobs- I learned so much and worked with amazing people.

I was very busy- the summer went by too fast it seemed.

Summer seems to always slip through my fingers- I’m sure you can agree with me on this.

The weekends where I could simply lounge in a hammock and read my novel, whilst indulging in the sweet breeze drifting off the neighbour’s field were few.

But that does not mean the Summer was meaningless.

The quality time spent with my family, friends, puppies, co-workers, and students made this summer something out of this world. No, I did not lose enough weight to prance around in a bikini, but I was able to plan and execute an Art Show, Apply and be accepted to Yukon School of Visual Arts, and run a mini nomadic yoga business while learning how be a good employee at Barton’s. Mixed with family dinners, laughter, bonding with brothers, meeting the older brother’s lovely girlfriend, campfires, sweat lodge ceremonies, and a healthy dose of dog walking. Somehow looking at it that way- I don’t think I would of had the time to “prance” around in a bikini because life had handed me a plate full of responsibilities. And I took it with Gusto. I also learned that one piece bathing suits are PERFECTLY FINE.

Just have to make sure you stay away from the frumpy ones.

So yes- in mid summer or so I learned that my next journey in life would be heading north.

Dawson City.

So with the help of family and friends I packed up all my things, said my goodbyes and thankyous, and gave each of my dogs a big, long, teary emotional hug. (Just thinking about them makes me tear up right now. My little darlings. I miss them so much.)

Mom, Dad, Daniel (younger brother) and I then hit the road- It was a fantastic road trip. I am so glad I was able to drive there instead of fly- as it was a great adventure for all of us.

That trip deserves a post of it’s own –

When we rolled into Dawson City- we hunkered down at Klondike Kate’s in a little cabin. The next few days were spent touring around my new town- since the tourist season was winding down- we caught some of the last tours of the season.

Time once again went by too fast. And soon I found myself moving into a little cabin by the Yukon river and saying goodbye to my family.

Once again the tears, turning into sobbing and consoling each other and those hugs where you don’t want to let go of each other ensued – That was my mother and I. I may or may not have seen dad shed a tear, as I was completely immersed in a bear hug surrounded by dad’s soft flannel work shirt. I then really broke down into a teary, snotty mess when hugging Daniel. The youngest of the family is also the tallest and broadest of shoulder, so once again I felt completely surrounded by his hug. Being siblings and being a teenage boy- getting a hug from Daniel is a very special, rare thing. So I made sure to get the most I could while I had him there. Which also meant he climbed back into the pickup truck with a rather soggy, snot covered shoulder. I could tell he was completely grossed out- as now he would have to drive back to Whitehorse with his older sister’s snot on his shirt. Oops.

I am not a glamorous cryer.

It did not matter how many times I hugged my family goodbye. It felt like I needed another hug, another kiss, another confirmation that yes, I could do this. I can do this. I will do this. All that fear of being on my own hit me like a in the gut. And I think my family could see this. So the hugs continued. More kleenexes were handed out. And more kisses were given.

When the pickup pulled out of the driveway, and drove down front street, I watched it until my family disappeared into the horizon.

Back to B.C.

Taking a deep breath in – the fear parted like ripples in water to allow my excitement to come out of it’s little hiding spot.

I may be scared, but I CAN do this I thought to myself.

Once in my little cabin, I unpacked my pink afghan, sat on my bed, and looked out my window.

That’s when I realized my cabin slightly tilted to the left.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

Most buildings in the Yukon that are built on permafrost have a quirky tilt.

I slipped off my sandals and snuggled up under my pink afghan, looking up at the ceiling.

Before drifting off to sleep (saying goodbye to the most important people in your life is a tiring ordeal) – I could hear the Australians next door start to play the guitar and sing.

With I smile, I let myself relax.

I could hear the chugging of the Dawson Ferry cutting through the strong current of the Yukon River.

My eyelids began to close, the chugging ferry becoming a purr, the yodeling of the Aussie next door turning into a soft murmur.

Another deep breath in, and the little smile turns into a toothy grin.

“Welcome to the Yukon” I thought to myself as I let go of my fear and slipped into a little afternoon nap.

xx

Photo below: Boo and I 🙂

1378483_10200699959605827_21229472_n

People can and do recover from Depression, and so can you (:

It’s no secret, and I’d rather not hide behind a mask.

So any family members reading this, don’t be shocked this is me just being me.

Maybe if I take the mask off it might help someone who is unable to face tomorrow.

Ever been depressed?

Its kind of like having your heart broken but a little bit more tragic, really no words can describe the pain you feel, personally I’d rather have my heart broken by some boy then feel like you’re disappearing into the shadows of your own life.

You lose control in a way, like you are trapped inside your body. Your thoughts are not your own it seems, they are scary, violent, twisted in ways.

People sometimes commit suicide because they don’t think they will ever escape that feeling. At one point I thought I wouldn’t escape either.

Interesting that they call it “committing suicide”. My thoughts on this, (or at least in my experience) it is not a commitment, it is a surrender. You are surrendering to the pain you carry within you.

You do not want to die, you just don’t want to live like that anymore.

Trust me, I know what that feels like.

I chose to write about this tonight is to make my voice heard, I am not trying to get attention but simply the opposite. I want to GIVE attention to a matter that people do not want to talk about. Hello, this is not the 1950’s. I am just a teenager, so why pay attention to me, well you are already reading so really, how long will this take out of you time? 10 minutes maybe? All I am asking you for is to listen to what I have to say and maybe it will change your thoughts about depression.

First of all, whether you know it or not, you probably know somebody who is affected by this mental illness. Some people choose to talk about it, while some keep it hidden. I used to keep it under wraps, but that did more harm then good in my situation.

Second of all, Depressed people ARE NOT SICKNESS-RIDDEN ZOMBIES so don’t treat them like one, because  really thats just cruel to do that to somebody.

Third of all, Depressed people are not just selfish childish human beings, telling them to “be a big girl now” does not help. Do you think I’d be crying if I could help  it? No. Have some compassion and empathy for these people.

Educate yourself whether you are a coach, teacher, friend, mother, father, goldfish. I don’t care how old you are or who you are. I am not speaking for all the depressed people in the world but there are triggers, there are days when its a struggle, and there are days when you feel like you’re doing okay. Its different for everyone, so that is why I think Depression should be treated like a sprained ankle, broken arm, or even a concussion. It is not something to be afraid of. Just because it may be a bit more tricky to deal with does not mean it should be kept a secret. Coaches know how to wrap a sprained foot, so why shouldn’t they know at least a few tips on how to coach a player with a mental illness. Even just saying “I am here for you” really is such a beautiful sentence to somebody who feels so lost. Picture this, you give a kid an ice pack for when she has twisted an ankle, think of giving empathy to a kid when she looks like she is struggling.

I used to hide from my friends and family but in the end I was so desperate for someone to talk to. This is me healing. For I would never had told a soul other than my close family about my Depression a few months ago…

I used to think my depression was my weakness, it was something to hide from friends, boyfriends, family, teams,etc. It was something to hate and to despise that I had it. But that took up so much of my energy there was no energy to live life the way i wanted to: True to myself. I felt like i was living a lie, unable to admit that I have a mental illness,  that has become a  great challenge for me. I am not saying I am completely healed, for I have a long journey ahead of me, but I will say that I have made progress.

For now I look upon my Depression as a strength.

A challenge that was not easy,

harder then any video game

no gold coins gained, just a lot of tears lost. But I am still alive, I have seen the darkest moments but I held on to the wisp of colour and life that was left inside of me, and like a seed, when you nurture it. It can grow into something beautiful.

Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I truly believe that. And for all of you that are dealing with Depression. Hold on. Life has so much to offer, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are people that are there specifically for that. Mothers, Fathers, and if you can’t talk to them, go to friends, counsellors, a teacher, anybody. Because there are people out there that truly care about you so don’t feel like you are giving someone a burden.

take a few minutes out of your day and educate yourself.

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/mi-mm/depression-eng.php

http://www.depressionhurts.ca/en/symptomchecklist.aspx?WT.srch=1&DCSext.srchsrc=Google&DCSext.sitetrg=&DCSext.loctype=search&WT.mc_id=FY12_DepressionSymptoms&WT.seg_1=symptoms%20depression&DCSext.adid=9085124190

http://www.depressionhurts.ca/en/recovery_journey.aspx

People can and do recover from Depression, and so can you (:

xx

 

“Hey, you retard stop stealing the blankets!” *China Diary* ~ 1

Early start to the day,

Well, no scratch that.. Actually my trip started on the 15th. We left Fort St. James in the late afternoon to drive 2 hours to Prince George. Both my mother and I were catching early flights to Vancouver and didn’t really feel like waking up at 2 am then proceed to drive to the airport straight from home. We got to our hotel in the evening, and here is the weird/funny/ what ever you want to call it part of the story.

Originally my mom had booked a room with 2 double beds thinking that it would be just herself and me. In the end my father and my little brother wanted to see us off at the airport so they tagged along as well.Little did they know that they would have to share a double bed that night. My mom and I managed to sleep somewhat comfortably in a double bed, but throughout the night I would wake up to the sound of :

“Hey, you retard stop stealing the blankets!”

or : “Move over, you’re taking up the whole bed”

as well as something along the lines of: “SsSSHhhhhhh both of you be quiet!”

from my mother …and so on.

I have mentioned in earlier posts that my little brother, well is not so little. He was graced with size 13 feet and a height of 6 feet. And he is only 14 years old. my father is 6’1 and is built the same. Thank god I didn’t have to sleep with either of them. I probably would have ended up sleeping in the bathtub that night.

Anyways it was one of those moments when you put 4 people in a room, a very tiny room that you realize how much you love your family. No matter how bizarre, weird, or how loud they snore. I laid there in bed beside a giggling mom, joined in by the roaring laughter of my brother and dad and that’s when I realised:

” yeah I’ve got a weird family, but I wouldn’t have it any other way”.

Its moments like that happen simply to remind you just how lucky you are.

So that was July 15.

Now July 16,

Who wants to get on a plane at 6 in the morning?

(If you raised your hand, seriously…. You’re alone on this one)

This was the first time I was going to meet the girl who was joining my two friends and myself on this trip. Jessy, is a redhead also; so of course we automatically clicked!

So it was the 3 gingers and Grady. “4G”

Parker, Grady and I have traveled to europe earlier in the year, but having Jessy come along with us to China really made things ten times more fun.

We left Prince George to meet up with the rest of our group from Vancouver Island at Vancouver airport.

Photo taken by: Carmen Denomme

From left to right: Brooke, Ashleigh, Sam, Emily, Heather, ME!, Jessy, Grady, and Parker

It was similar to first day of kindergarten, or first day of highschool. The shy game was played for a few hours then we all warmed up to each other quite quickly. I had a feeling that this was going to be an epic trip.

So we board the plane, and of course we are booked to sit in the economy section. What did you think? A small town girl reclining in first class with all the foot rest, comfort, and special treatment? Pfffft. Nope. To the back of the plane we go. When I went to Greece my seat was quite close to the airplane toilet. Ya no, don’t ever book your seat there unless you have a bladder of a gerbil. It was not a good place to sit. Anyways back to this plane ride. I went to my designated seat only to find that it was occupied by another traveler. “No big deal” I thought as long as I find a place to sit. But have you ever noticed that if you stop moving in the aisle on an airplane while people are boarding it turns into a barbaric race to seats? People pushing, leaning awkwardly over people’s laps, people being konked in the head by someones bag being put in the overhead compartment and of course the grand daddy of all the awkward moments. Some old man’s butt in your face as he attempts to pick up his pen/newspaper/bag of cheezies/whatever he dropped. Then being in the midst of chaos, decides to back the trunk up where? right in your face. Yeah, I caused all just by standing in the way.

I catch an attendant’s eye, and notify him that my seat has been taken and ask where should I sit now. He glances behind me and sees the Twister game of scrambling passengers and says “one second I’ll be there shortly”. Alrighty then, back to the grind/awkward fest in the aisle I go. I didn’t really care if I got my seat, I just wanted any seat.So I didn’t have to stand there and get looks like “MOVE WOMAN!”.  I hate causing a problem but there was no way to not cause a problem. Another attendant sees me so I repeat my plea. She looks at the passenger sitting in my seat and asks for her plane ticket.

Long story short, this girl sitting in my seat was supposed to sit where this girl was sitting, but that girl had switched seats with an old woman for a window seat and that old woman well, she wasn’t even sitting in the correct row.

The first attendant came back with a flustered look on his face, and both the attendants attempt to shuffle everyone to their  right seats. The old lady scurries to her seat and seeing how much more chaos this would create by moving 2 more other people I just offer to sit in the seat that the girl in my seat should be sitting in.

I didn’t realize that finding a seat would be so hard.

I don’t have any pictures from the plane ride over to Beijing. Why? Because I was completely into  the book “Water for Elephants” Go to the website below to find out more about this novel:

http://bestsellers.about.com/od/fictionreviews/gr/water_elephants.htm

So the 10 hours plane ride went along the lines of this:

Reading, attempting to sleep ( emphasis on “attempting”), and  playing the game “what’s this?” with my airplane food. ( For those who travel frequently and need something to entertain you on long trips, or you are traveling with  small children, this is an excellent way to pass the time while you wait for you lump of something to finish cooling off, solidifying, liquefying, growing eyes… etc but I must warn you… If you get to into the game you just may lose your appetite.)

Closer to the end of the flight I made friends with the girl sitting beside me on the plane. Like how can you not talk to the person beside you if you have shared an armrest for 10 hours. She was also going to Beijing to attend the camp.

There was also the trips to the claustrophobic bathroom, hah can you imagine hitting turbulence while being in the airplane washroom? I wonder if anybody has. Not being a fan of those port-a-potty closets, I have never experienced it, I am probably not the only one who tries to stay away from those things. Ever try to brush your teeth in one of those things with the awkward sinks and taps that don’t seem normal at all? Like how can those flight attendants look even half decent making a living on a plane.

If I was an attendant you wouldn’t catch me in a pencil skirt and red ribbon tied around my neck. I would be serving your breakfast in bunny slippers and be outfitted in Lululemon or some other comfy get up. Maybe a onesie?

Anyways don’t picture me in a onesie. Here is a picture of the girl I shared an armrest with,her name is Cicyetkwu.

So plane lands, we all get off, collect our luggage, and meet out in front of where the arrivals come out. This is my first taste of China.

There are people EVERYWHERE. People hugging,kissing,talking,smiling,laughing,pushing past you,staring at you, ( I guess red hair stands out quite a lot over there), and last but not least there was a crazy amount of people sweating. I know you must be thinking:

“why? what? why would you notice something like that? EW!”

But hear me out okay? The heat there was intense, and the humidity exaggerated the feeling of I don’t how to explain it. It’s like you have a thin layer of heat always on you and there is no way to escape it. So like, you were always sweating…Yeah I write about peculiar things. But that is how my mind works I guess.

Another thing I noticed was that our group was being filmed and photographed. Somewhat weird, but I guess this camp was a big deal so there was going to be some footage of it being used in the future. So once all the Canadians were gathered and counted like baby chicks, we were ushered out into the real China, the China past the airport exit. The heat hits you once you step out of the airport, and god does it ever feel nice. My summer back in Canada has not been hot at all so to feel this was amazing. Finally I’ll be able to wear my short shorts and not get goosebumps!

But boy was I ever craving a shower and a real sink to brush my teeth in…

Long flights are not glamorous at all but hey I wasn’t looking forward to the airplane. The airplane was just being used to get me to my destination. I was coming to China and that was a big deal for me, so at that moment I really didn’t care if I looked like a little rug-rat that just fell out of a hay stack. I WAS IN CHINA! Working almost everyday since school ended and saving every penny that I possessed brought me here! (well… as well as some very generous parents…)

So we stuff our suitcases in the bottom of a tourist bus, and all clamber on. Here is Parker and I after our flight. Both of us are a little messed up from the 15 hour time change. But hey we survived the noxious plane food, closet toilets, and hours of sitting in a chair that is far from comfortable.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I absolutely love Chinese Characters. They are much prettier to look at than English.

But do you think I could write you a love poem in Mandarin?

Nope.

I don’t posses those skills, and i don’t think I could wing it either.

It would probably look like worm tracks in mud or some vulgar abstract creation.

So we arrive at our campus, a High school with a dormitory and I soon learn that my room, Shared with Jessy, Parker, and Jacqueline ( a student from Vancouver) was found on the 6th floor and that there was no elevators. So we busted some muscle and trudged up the stairs with out suitcases.

Thank god I packed light, I could pick up my suitcase by the handles and carry it while others dragged their’s up, step by step, as if they had packed a midget clown in their suitcase that had weighed a good 100 pounds.

This is my good friend Parker 😉

After we got settled in, we went for dinner in the cafeteria. Our first real taste of chinese food, made in China. This is not like the chinese restaurant that resides in my town, with the neon pinky red sweet and sour pork, chow mein, and deep friend prawns. This was REAL chinese food.

 

Parker’s dinner (with the juice cup in the picture), Jessy’s dinner (with the weird powder puff fluffster thingy on the plate)

I would describe what the meals tasted like but here is the sucky part. Even though there was a large selection of food, some that I have never ever seen before, I have an eating problem, so I have a very, very restricted diet.  So I lived on a very bland diet while I was there which included:

Rice,

Rice,

French fries,

and wait…MORE RICE!

Thinking the food would be a problem, my suitcase was packed with energy bars and mints. ( I’m addicted to scotch mints) So I survived. I got pretty excited when they had fresh fruit out, because I soon learned that I would be eating rice 3 times a day while I was there. This lasted for about 6 days into the camp when I finally scrounged through my suitcase and found instant oatmeal. I was very excited to eat oatmeal, VERY excited.

I still cringe when I see rice.

I have had enough to last me a while now.

After dinner, Michael, one of the teachers at the camp took us on a tour of the classes. He was teacher of class 5. Our teacher Gaby, was teacher of class 6. There were very helpful and  charming. They were excellent teachers, and soon became fans of Canada!

Gaby on the left, Michael on the right, with gifts from the Canadian students.

After our tour we head back up to our rooms, on the way we pick up our uniform, our study books, and a book with the itinerary and other helpful tid-bits inside. We also got a lanyard with our name and nationality on them. When I say uniform I mean this:

We looked like a mob of grapes everywhere we went.

Or an invasion of life-size purple smarties.

There was absolutely no way you could make this shirt look sexy, or even cute. The sizes where huge, so when I wore mine it hid my shorts looking like I had gotten distracted while getting dressed, and simply forgot to wear shorts.

Just to calm down any conservative people out there I always wore shorts under the shirt,

I am not that crazy.

Moving on,

It was bedtime for the sleepy Canadians, so we climbed into our metal framed bunk beds and laid down on the non-existent mattress. It was like sleeping on the floor, not carpet really but similar to linoleum. Our air conditioning was set to high, and our blankets were super thin, but just enough to be comfortable in that hot weather.

I didn’t care about the mattress right then, I was just so happy to be sleeping horizontal and not in the sitting position so I rolled over and passed out almost immediately.

ahhh time to get horizontal ^

xx