Monday, May 18, 2020

Comic Art Collection 12: Champions


Champions #25, page 23. Art by Max Dunbar.

So, let's keep it rolling, shall we?

The page above is from an issue of Champions and, among other characters, features Amak Aliyah who is an Inuk super hero called Snowguard. The reason I'm writing about it now is there was a little social media blip about her recently, courtesy of this tweet:


Anna Lambe is a promising young actress who starred in the made-in-Nunavut movie The Grizzlies and a lot of people think would be a good fit for the new Avatar, the Last Airbender series that is gearing up on Netflix. I don't know much about that franchise, so I can't say one way or another if she would be. But she would make a great Snowguard. I'm not the only one who thinks so, based on the number of reactions that tweet got. Including from Snowguard's creators Jim Zub, Nyla Innuksuk, and Sean Iszaake.

However, up until recently I would have said the odds of Snowguard making the leap from pages to the screen was small. She is still a new character with maybe 2 dozen appearances. But Simu Liu was politely teasing Marvel about casting him as Shang Chi, which they then did. Plus, Disney/Marvel clearly have plans for their younger heroes on the Disney+ streaming service. There's a Ms. Marvel show debuting next year and rumours exploded a couple of weeks ago that there's an Ironheart show in the work on the service. That's a chunk of the Champions team right there. So who knows? Maybe she gets a call from Marvel. I certainly hope so.

As for this page, ever since Snowguard debuted I'd been looking to get a page of art with her on it. Just one problem. A lot of the artists on the book during that first year were working digitally. I would have bought a page from her first story arc, but Sean is a digital artist. There was an annual featuring Snowguard returning to Pangnirtung by Toronto artist Marcus To. Except he also switched from pencil to digital a few years ago.

However, last year (or possibly 10 years ago. Time is fluid) when I was at Emerald City Comic Con I got the chance to meet Jim Zub and get a bunch of books signed, including a over a dozen copies of the Champions annual signed and personalized for Cathy's Grade 5 class that year (I just found out via Twitter it's also Jim's birthday today, so this is good timing. And Happy Birthday). Sitting next to him was BC-based artist Max Dunbar. Jim and Max share a massive love of all things Dungeons & Dragons and the previous year there was a Champions story arc where the characters get thrown into an alternate dimension (it happens) where they also change personalities and become people who closely resemble the type of characters you might play in Dungeons & Dragons.

It's a fun story arc, but what caught my eye was Max Dunbar. It was the kind of art that makes you wonder who the hell is this guy and where did he come from. Great detail, lots of energy, not afraid of big, complex action sequences and putting ridiculous effort into splash pages. I knew he was going to be at the con, and that he would have pages for sale. It took me all of about 30 seconds to settle on this page. Amak with a big ass hammer, a cool looking Ms. Marvel...it was a no brainer.

I don't pretend to know Max well, but he appears very generous with his art. I remember he gifted Jim with a stunning two-page spread from that Champions run. He recently gave away a stunning piece of Marvel mash-up art....all you had to do was prove you donated to a charity or that you were a first responder for a chance to enter the contest. 

Seriously, just look at this thing....

He quoted me a price for that page that was more than fair, and then added "But if you think that's too much, I can come down a bit." Jim and his partner Stacy were at the table next to him. I swear one of them was going to go over and shake him before I said "I don't haggle with artists. That's a great price."

I actually own another piece of Max's art, but that's for another day. That Champions page currently is hanging near my cubicle at work.

Last Five
1. Meeting in the aisle - Radiohead
2. Blue skies over bad lands - Matthew Good
3. While we were hunting rabbits - Matthew Good*
4. Restless - Alison Krauss and Union Station
5. My time is coming - The Hives

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Bubbles within bubbles

Two months ago today Cathy and I were just starting to walk to work because our car was not behaving and couldn't be trusted. I felt my work phone buzz and was told my manager to turn around, head home and send a message out to all the staff. The office was now closed. All staff were to work from home.

There have been two things I've tried not to keep track of over the last couple of months. The first, oddly enough, is how long the self-quarantine has been going on, but it kind of leaped out at me a couple of days ago. But as a rule, I haven't been paying attention. I don't think it'll do my head any good.

The other is the death toll and infection rates. Again, I don't think it does my head any good to dwell on those numbers. Also, I don't think they accurately reflect the reality. I think the infection rates, especially in the United States, are grossly underreported. The same with death rates. And as I've read, the other effects of the disease is also underreported and terrifying.

It's a fine line to walk between being informed enough to protect yourself and not wanting to curl up in a ball in your closet for the next two years. For the most part, I think Cathy and I have managed. So, what's been happening the last two months?

1. Still zero cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. We had one scare a few weeks back, but it was a false positive. The Government of Nunavut is going to roll out it's plan to reduce self-isolation rules next week, which should be fascinating. I titled this post 'Bubbles within bubbles" because that's where Cathy and I are. Canada is a bubble (except for Quebec) when compared to the madness that is the US. Nunavut is in the fortunate position of having no cases. In Iqaluit, social distancing has been.....erratic....at best. Downtown Iqaluit....not so much, except at places where it's enforced like stores or the post office. But we live away from downtown, so other than people walking their dogs, we hardly see anyone.

We've been sticking to our house pretty closely. Once a week, maybe twice, I'll head out and get groceries and pick up the mail. That's about it.


2. Like everyone, there have been scrapping of plans. I had planned to take a couple of months off this summer and travel. That plan has absolutely been scrapped. The fallback was that we would go out for two weeks, do a sealift and maybe get back to Newfoundland and see some family. That plan is about 95% scrapped as well.

I've been saying that anyone who thinks they can predict what's going to happen over the next two years is basically writing fan fiction. No one knows what's going to happen next. There's too many balls in the air. I've been mentally bracing myself for things getting back to a semblance of safe ("normal" is something else entirely) in 2022. But I absolutely will not be surprised if Nunavut keeps its quarantine rules in place indefinitely, meaning you can certainly leave, but you have to self-isolate for two weeks in Ottawa or other centres first.

Why would they lift it? They know the effect COVID-19 will have on Nunavut communities. They got phenomenally lucky that no cases came in before they restricted travel. The territory is being resupplied with only some hiccups. I'm sure some might grumble about not being able to travel back and forth with ease, but welcome to the new reality. Nothing is easy.

I'm also not blowing two weeks vacation so I can sit in a hotel room in Ottawa. So yeah, I think we're going to be in Iqaluit for quite awhile.

3. I'm continuing to work, which is good. Work is not discussed on this blog, but it keeps me busy for several hours a day, which is good. Cathy has done as much as she can with the school at this point. It's cancelled until September. So she's trying to keep busy as best she can.

Honestly, we're well built mentally to handle this kind of thing. We don't have kids (cranky old dogs don't count), we're introverts and we genuinely like each other's company. We wouldn't want to do this for years, but we haven't been fighting or snapping at each other over the last couple of months. We're handling it well.

We had a small bit of drama the week when a culvert got blocked up on the street behind our house. The water found an alternative route that involved coming down the hill and pouring down under our house.  It's Iqaluit, so the house is on pylons. But it was washing out our driveway and making a mess of things. So we had an hour or so of fun trying to find ways to divert the water around our house while waiting for city council workers to deal with the situation.

That's literally been the most excitement we've had the last two months.


4. If there's been one source of stress it's been our car. Our good and faithful Equinox, which we've had for nine years, had a very bad start to this year, making some weird noses. This was attributed to the block heater not working, which we overpaid for and replaced at garage #1. After that the car was still having problems and no longer trusting Garage #1, we made an appointment at Garage #2, which we had to wait two weeks for.

Then the pandemic hit, so the parts they needed took a month to get here.

When we finally got her back on Tuesday, and after spending another couple of thousand dollars, we found out that basically the engine had been significantly damaged and was going to stop working.....soonish. Could be a couple of weeks, could be a year. But it was coming. The car also acquired a delightful rattle, meaning that even if I wanted to be an unethical dick and sell it, she makes so much noise that no one in their right mind would buy it. It's basically good for parts at this point.

Which means a new car.

We had planned to get a new one next year. We really wanted one more year for the Equinox. Fortunately, as we're not travelling anywhere, all that money we had budgeted for vacation can now go towards the car! Yay!

sigh

The mildly frustrating thing is that I was looking forward to properly shopping for a new car. I've never really done it before. I've had used cars, and one on a lease. Cathy bought one 20 years ago which involved walking onto a dealership lot and saying "give me that one." So yeah, I wanted to hit a few dealerships. Test drive a few cars. See what the best deal was going to be.

Instead, we contacted Subaru and said "give us that one" and we now have a new Subaru CrossTrek en route to us. The dealership dropped it off to our shipping company last week. They'll transport it to Montreal. And assuming all goes well, sometime in mid-July we should have our new car.

Mildly anti-climatic. Here's hoping she works out because ideally we'd like her to last until we leave in about 10 years time. Guess we'll see.

And that's it. Tune in next month for another update.

Last Five
1. Elephant (live) - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit*
2. Picadilly sand farewell - Ron Hynes
3. Songs for teenagers - Gaslight Anthem
4. Spark man - Mark Bragg
5. In California (live) - Neko Case

Thursday, April 23, 2020

On a slightly weird week....

So, that got a little weird in a hurry.

By now most of you know that mom celebrated working 40 years at Shoppers Drug Mart last Saturday. That's because, in a first for this blog, the post went viral.

How viral? Well, let's put it in some perspective. The previous three posts had the following amount of traffic.

Comic Art Collection: Thor - 45 clicks.
Comic Art Collection: Supergirl and Batgirl - 46 clicks
Settling in (how things are going up here) - 93 clicks

The top picture is from opening day 1980 with her former
boss John. The bottom two are from 2019.
The post on mom's anniversary? - 10,250 clicks. And it's still climbing, although at a much slower rate. There were 8,000 page view on Sunday alone.

The previous best for the past three years was my last update to the Moving to Iqaluit FAQ back in 2017 (which reminds me, I need to do that again), and it had 4,061.

But the numbers for all of this are astounding. Yes, my blog experienced a massive spike in traffic, but that's only part of it. NTV reporter Jodi Cooke put out a congratulatory tweet on April 18. It has 28 retweets, 73 comments, and 642 likes. Then I got an email from CBC's Krissy Holmes asking if we'd like to appear on the Morning Show. I think mom was a bit nervous, but it was fun. All I had to do was  remember I was the sidekick and let mom do her thing, which she always does.

You can listen to the whole thing here. Or read the story here.

And how was the reaction to the CBC story? The story was shared 84 times, with over 1,300 likes and 234 people commented on it.

Two sitting MPs extending congrats to her. And after the story she told about Danny Williams' mom I'm half surprised a new car hasn't shown up in her driveway.

On top of that mom said she's had a lot of people wave at her at Shoppers and congratulate her on her anniversary. She's threaten to put me up for adoption because of all the attention, which is a nice blast from the past....she hasn't threatened me with that since I was 16. But she loves it. I know she does.

But here's the thing that truly blows my mind. I haven't read all the comments and tweets, but I've read a lot of them. Nobody said anything bad.

Not one snarky comment. No one from PETA coming out of the woodwork and bashing the cosmetics industry. No one with a "bad" customer experience coming to correct everyone. Everything was positive. They congratulated her. They told happy stories about their interaction with mom.  They talked about what an important part of their lives she's been over the years (One 53-year-old woman said she's been buying make-up from mom since she was 15). They said how much they loved her.

If you bring a wee dog into the
store, mom has to say hi.
I'm not one to idly throw around the word "miraculous" but in this day of instant outrage and anger on social media, this is as close to one as you will find.

But it's mom....I am utterly unsurprised.

But the nice thing isn't just the numbers and the outpouring of love....it's that mom can get to see it all. It occurred to me that this kind of thing often happens....after the person is no longer around to hear it. Mom's going to be around for a long time yet, but it's nice that she can see all of this. It's one thing to know you're good at your job and for people to compliment you, but this kind of wave of adoration it is a rare thing. I really hope she's soaking it in and enjoying it.

And now, one last mom story. Because I'm kicking myself for not putting it in the original post, and because it's honestly hilarious to me.

It's not just that mom's been working at Shoppers for 40 years, she's also worked Christmas Eve for every single year she's been with Shoppers. Hell, from mid-November to Christmas she rarely takes a day off because it's so busy.

But my favourite thing about her working Christmas Eve is that every year, every year, there's a group of men who discover around 4 pm that it's Christmas (funny how that can just sneak up on you) and maybe they should buy something for their wives. I think the record for someone coming into the store was at 4:55 on Christmas Eve when they close at 5.

If you're a woman who lives in the East End and you've ever received a suspiciously nice bottle of perfume for Christmas....well, odds are your husband was at Shoppers 20 minutes before close the day before.

I know it amuses mom, although she never takes advantage of them or tries to oversell them. She tries to find out what their wife likes, and if she's ever shopped there before, and tries to find the best thing for them....all before the store closes in a few minutes.

I've said that mom should get an award for the number of marriages she's saved. Hell, she's probably prevented a few murders.

So there you go....the last Daphne story....for now.

Man, it's going to be hard to top this for Mother's Day next month....

Last Five
1. Heart to heart with Lionel - Joel Plaskett Emergency
2. Slow disco - St. Vincent
3. Battlefords - Hawksley Workman*
4. Making a noise - Robbie Robertson
5. Growin' up (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Saturday, April 18, 2020

40 years at Shoppers

My record for longest stint at a job is the one I'm currently in. This June it will mark eight years. And if you throw in the 16 months I did earlier, went away, and then came back to the job, I have a little over nine years at this gig. It marks an almost unheard of level of job stability for me. Previously, I've tended to bounce around. I think if you ask most people my age or younger, the number of people who have spent decades at a job are relatively rare.

And even if you do spend a few decades at a job, you normally retire. Teachers tend to go at 30 years, for example.

Mom and I, Christmas 2012 at Shoppers.
Then there's my mom. Today marks her 40th anniversary working for Shoppers Drug Mart on Torbay Road. Hell, if you toss in her time at the Zellers that used to be in that mall, she's spent 45 years on that parking lot. If there was ever a demand for a history of the Torbay Road Mall, it begins and ends with my mom.

I have a vague recollection of mom starting at Shoppers. The store was opening in the mall (Zellers was on one end, Dominion on the other, in-between was a CIBC, Shoppers, a doctor's office, a Chinese restaurant, and several smaller stores) and it was a big deal. First one on the east end of town. She'd been working at Zellers for years and was excited about not just getting a new job, but also becoming head cosmetician. It was a big deal for her.

And it's still a big deal for her. Mom loves her job. Odds are you've never loved a job the way my mom loves hers. Lord knows she doesn't do it for the money. She just loves people. She loves helping people and chatting with them. I've spoken to mom more times than I can count at 11 pm after she's just finished an eight hours shift and she's fine. She normally hangs up to go and get her cup of coffee. And then she's back to work for a 10 am shift the next morning.

That's not something she did years ago. That's something she probably did this week.

Yeah, she's still working. I've asked her to stop working during the COVID-19 crisis, but she keeps going in. She's not selling make-up right now; she's just helping out around the store, trying to be useful. It makes me nervous as hell, but she keeps working. Because it's what she loves doing. Working and being helpful.

If you've walked into that Shoppers and talked to my mom, odds are you have a story about her. If you've talked to her for more than a few minutes, odds are you know something about me (I've long since given up asking her to not do that). She's sold makeup to news anchors, make-up artists on film/TV productions, and others. One of her absolutely favourite customers was Danny Williams' mom. She got a kick out of that and always took good care of her.

Then again, she always takes good care of everyone.

She's outlasted everyone in the store. The original owner retired years ago. I wouldn't place a bet against her outlasting the current owner. And the one after him. I'm not giving up here age here, but she shows no signs of retiring. I imagine I'll be updating this in 10 years time when we celebrate her 50th anniversary at the store.

My favourite mom story? This would have been around 2012. I was back in Newfoundland for Christmas and discovered, to my horror, that mom was working Christmas Day. I asked her why, as she obviously had the seniority to get that day off.

"Well, most of the rest of the cosmetics staff have young ones or young family and they should spend Christmas morning with them rather than being in here. And you're old enough to not need me there Christmas morning and I knew you'd understand. So that's why."

The photo above is from me going in that morning and spending an hour or so with her in the store, before she shooed me home out of it. Which has always been the way when I visit her at the store. She's happy to see me and chat, but if there's a customer who looks like they need help, she'll stop mid-conversation to go over and take care of them.

Odds are she's not celebrating this day the way she wanted. She's been looking forward to this day for a long time. It likely won't be the celebration she wanted, but I hope they do lots for her anyway. I've always thought Shoppers has never appreciated her the way she deserves.

For years, I've had some variant of this conversation:

"Well, I'm never sure how much longer I'll get to do this, Craig. I'm not sure how long they'll want someone my age in cosmetics."

"Mom, the number of women you bring into that store who want to know the secret of how you look so good at your age should mean you get to stay there forever."

And she does. Mom has consistently looked 10-15 younger than she actually is. She has, on occasion, passed me off as her younger brother. Which amuses her, and makes me roll my eyes, but whatever. It gives her a laugh.

And women do come in and ask her secret. And she's happy to sell them some moisturizer she uses, or some other products. And they go away happy. But she never tells them the real reason why she looks so young.

Just love what you do for 40 years and be a kind and amazing person. Works every time.

Happy 40 years, mom. Here's to at least another 10.


Monday, April 13, 2020

Comic Art Collection 11 - Thor

Thor by Walt Simonson, 9 x 12

I can still remember how excited I was to get this sketch. It was at New York Comic Con in 2008, which as I've said before was my first con. Most of those days were kind of stumbling around Artist Alley getting random sketches from artists. I was perfectly happy doing that. But at some point I made my way to the Hero Initiative booth and realized that Walt Simonson was going to do a commission session.

From one of the best issues in
Simonson's run on the series
So, two things. First, for those of you who don't know, Walt Simonson is one of the legends of the comic book industry. His run on Thor in the 1980s is cited by pretty much everyone as one of the greatest and most important runs on the character. I'm not saying he saved the character for Marvel, but no one has been particularly excited by him in quite some time. Then Simonson came on board, doing both story and art, and everything changed. There was energy, dynamic storytelling, beautiful sound effects (Simonson is a master at cool looking sound effects in comics) and more. There's always so much energy on a Simonson page, even when it's characters talking. It just feels like something big is about to happen, just as soon as you turn the page.

Second, he was doing this for Hero Initiative, an amazing organization that should not need to exist. Who are they? Well, this is straight from their website:

The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit creators with more than $1 million worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.

It's one of the most aggravating things about the comic industry. Creators who have worked for decades, who have created characters or storylines that have made movie studios millions, often are left struggling. Especially as they near retirement age and comic book companies become less interested in their work. Or that many creators still working can get into trouble so quickly if they have the slightest personal or health emergency.

I fear Hero Initiative is going to be overwhelmed in the coming months.

Anyway, in this case I saw that Simonson was going to be doing sketches for the organization. In over two hours.

You have to make that call sometimes at comic cons. I want this thing, but I'm going to have to line up for hours, and how much other cool things could I do during that time? In this case, it was a pretty simple call. I got in line. I was #2. By the time Simonson started sketching, there were about 30-40 people in line, which meant most were going to be disappointed.

I was nervous because I figured everyone was going to ask for Thor and you can never be 100% sure how an artist will react to being asked to draw the same character over and over again. Fortunately, the guy in front of me wanted Batman. So I was the first person to ask for, and get, Thor.

That sketch took about 20 minutes or so. I happily paid my money to Hero Initiative. I got a great sketch from a legend comic artist and I helped to support a great cause. I've done it several more times since. If Hero Initiative is at a comic con, I always go there, sometimes multiple times, and get a sketch.

I'm not saying this is the sketch that got me hooked on collecting comic art, but it might have been the one to seal the deal. I'd had a blast wandering around Artist Alley that con, getting fun stuff. But the notion I could get something from an artist of Simonson's stature....that this was a thing that I could do....that was probably the final nail in the coffin.

You can read all of Simonson's Thor issues via Comixology or if you want the Omnibus is still available. It is pricy, however, going for around $150.

Last Five
1. We don't deserve love - Arcade Fire
2. Helpless - k.d. lang*
3. Conversation piece - Kings of Leon
4. Selkie - Tori Amos
5. The skies will break - Corinne Bailey Rae

Monday, March 30, 2020

Comic Art Collection 10: Supergirl and Batgirl


Supergirl and Batgirl by Mike Maihack. 9x12
Top: Original pencil and ink
Bottom: Digitally coloured print

Sometimes, publishers hate making money. Case in point - Mike Maihack.

I'm pretty sure I came across Mike's artwork via Tumblr. And it was probably one of his delightful  Supergirl and Batgirl strips. He does these strips infrequently, sometimes only once a year, but they're always fantastic when he does. The strips are basically an exasperated Batgirl trying to deal with her best friend, a very high energy Supergirl. Through good luck, he put one out this week dealing with our twin heroes being stuck in doors while "Joker Gas" is endangering Gotham City residents. It's showed up a lot in my social media feeds by friends of mine who like knitting.

There's a lot more examples on his website, where you can buy prints.

The most recent Supergirl/Batgirl
strip
They're so much fun that it's genuinely baffling to me that DC never came to him and said "Hey, how would you like to do do a 100 page graphic novel based on their adventures?" I would buy it in a heartbeat and given the speed at which these comics spread online, so would a lot of others.

Part of the reason this might not have happened is that Mike's been busy the last seven or eight years with his Cleopatra in Space graphic novel series through Scholastic. It's the story of the Cleopatra who as a kid accidentally gets tossed across time and space and finds herself in the far future. She also discovers that she's a prophesied saviour of the galaxy. And if that's not bad enough she still has to go to school, and most of the professors are cats. It's a huge amount of fun.

 Cathy has a set of the books in her classroom and it's perfect for elementary school kids. Or, you know, big kids like me.

As for the piece above, I believe it came about when Mike put out a call that he was taking commissions and I quickly jumped at it. This was the first piece of art I bought from Mike, but not the last. I have at least three others which will make their debuts at some point in the coming months. 

And one day I hope to meet him at a con. I'd like to be able to thank him in person for how much enjoyment I get out of his work. And, you know, maybe get him to draw something in my sketchbook.

But what I like about this is he through in the digitally coloured print for free. I just thought I was getting pencil and ink sketch, so the print was nice. They're also framed side by side so when you look at them you can really see the difference colour makes to the art.
The last Cleo book (boooo) coming out
in late July/early August,
As for why I like Mike's art so much, it's just fun. It's been interesting watching him grow as a visual storyteller in Cleo. There's a huge difference between the first book and the fifth. He's much more confident, polished and willing to try bigger and more complex scenes and action pieces. I look forward to reading his stuff for some time to come.

And DC? The last Cleopatra in Space book is coming out this summer. It's not too late to throw some money at Mike to get him to do a Supergirl/Batgirl book. Just sayin'....

Last Five
1. Bones of ribbon - London Grammar
2. Desire - Ryan Adams*
3. Snow angel - Ron Sexsmith
4. Execution day - The New Pornographers
5. Hard to tell - Young Galaxy

Friday, March 27, 2020

Settling in

Proof of life, March 27, 2020
So, somehow, I now seem to live in one of the safest places on Earth.

That might be the scariest sentence I've typed in my life. I'm just superstitious enough to wonder if I haven't just jinxed things up here. If you think that's nuts, and things don't work like that, keep in mind that no one who uses Twitter in Iqaluit will say the name of the world's largest company for fear that they will stop shipping for free up here.

So no cases so far. There's still a bit of a backlog of tests, so we still might get something jumping out at us. But right now we're ok. And this week, the territorial government brought in some of the strictest travel rules in Canada about who is and isn't allowed into the territory. You want in? You have to:

- Be a Nunavut resident. If you want to come here, you need to have an address here.
- Be a critical care worker.
- Sit in quarantine for two weeks at  government monitor buildings in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Yellowknife.

And that's it. You can't drive here and, for at least another three months, you can't sail here. Those rules kicked in on the 24th, so theoretically by April 8 (give or take a few days) and if there are no cases, we might be in good shape.

There's any number of reasons to hope it never comes here. This Politico story touches on some of them. If/when it gets here, it could rip through some of the smaller communities and do severe harm. Or, for that matter, Iqaluit. We're around 8,500 people these days. Politicians and the health officer are begging people to go home and practicing social distancing. But with no cases here, I think compliance is half-hearted at best. One of our neighbours has a hockey rink built by the side of his house and we've walked past with 10 kids playing together in close quarters.

Today was my weekly trip out of the neighbourhood to do a mail run and pick up some groceries. Cases or not, we take it seriously. I get the mail, get groceries, come home and then toss everything I'm wearing in the washer and get a shower. And it's just a little weird out in town. It's quieter. The flashes of friendliness between residents seems rarer and when you do see them it makes you worry if they're being careful enough.

Weird days.

As for Cathy and I, we've settled into our routines in the house. This was always going to be easier for us than many others. The lack of kids, for one thing. Plus, we're used to spending a lot of time with each other anyway. Before all of this most of our days consisted of going to work, coming home, having supper and hanging out together (reading, watching tv, playing games, talking).  It's not that hard a shift for us. I tend to be busiest at work in the morning so Cathy gives me a little more space.

I find I'm writing more, which is nice. I read an actual, honest to god, book this week. You know, the kind without art in it. It was Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey, in case you're wondering. A pretty solid Potter-noir story, where a Muggle PI investigates a murder at Hogwarts, er, Osthorne Academy. The mystery was a bit too easy to solve, but the characters are fun and the world building is pretty good.

So we're good. We're in a safe place, being careful, and still have our jobs. NorthMart was fully stocked when I went out today, so groceries are no problem at the moment. And honestly, the next 6 weeks are the best time of the year to live in Iqaluit. The temperatures warm up, so that's it's cold, but more than manageable. The daylight is normal - not too much or too little. The light on the bay when the sun is out is not easily described or captured by camera, but "magical" is about right. And at night you can still catch the Northern Lights.

And right now, that's all I need. It's more than enough.

Last Five
1. Ms. Behave - Rosie and the Riveters*
2. Paradise by the 'C' (Live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
3. We both go down together (Live) - The Decemberists
4. Little shadow - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
5. Throw your arms around me (Live) - Crowded House