Natasha's Journal

...or the musings of a day dream believer

93 Days Until June 20th!
March already? It’s been awhile, I know, I know. I’m a horrible blogger when it comes to doing a monthly update, as I totally skipped over February. A few things have happened since my last post. So let’s get this thing started, shall we?

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. My first Valentine’s Day with A and I’m not even home to enjoy it. He was so sweet about everything. Multiple ways of telling me that he loves me. E-mail, phone call and a package in the mail. I love the cards he sends to me. I’ve always loved getting cards anyways, but they’re more special when they come from him. The silver Pandora earrings were also a very nice touch. I’m looking forward to next year when we are together for the most romantic day of the year. To think, I use to loathe this day of the year. What was I thinking?

So, little Miss Sophie Ann has departed Apartment 189B. She and Mia made their way down to the Clarenville SPCA and have both been adopted. Since they left, we’ve had another litter of pups. Baby Jay, Lex, Minnie and Mickey. The four little poopers were alternating between houses, so they were only with us every third night. They have also flown the coop. Baby Jay is adopted, but currently living with S and C until they can bring him out over the Spring Break. Minnie is currently at the Happy Valley-Goosebay SPCA and Lex and Mickey were brought to Litters-n-Critters in Halifax. They were adopted together by a wonderful family. There were seven other dogs in between then and now, but they’ve all been sent out. Lola, who was my biggest regret from last year, was finally sent out and will be heading the Clarenville SPCA. Now, my shared apartment is quiet with only two dogs: puppy Milo Marshmallow Snicklefritz and Gus (who used to be a store dog, but is now a teacher dog).

All this talk about dogs brings me to my next topic. One that has given me and a lot of dog lovers a lot of grief. Last Monday, March 11th, there was supposed to be a dog cull. Any dog that was not tied on would be seized and shot. All thanks to one dog that bit a little girl on the face. Thankfully, it did not happen to its full extent. The dump dogs were put down, but that’s as far as it got. An anonymous source leaked the notice to VOCM and from there on, negative feedback went crazy. VOCM did a few reports on it, including talking to the clinical therapist who was told that he was to give up three of his six dogs. Then CBC got in on the dog cull reporting. had a petition going that reached over 1600 signatures, including some from Australia. In a smart move, the Chief of Natuashish closed down the cull and asked the HV-GB SPCA for help. One of the RCMP officers assured the Chief that there was a small, but strong, army of dog rescuers already in town that had been shipping out dogs for a long time to help with the dog population. Since last year, myself, N and J have rescued close to 75 dogs. My goal is 100, but we’ll wait and see if that actually happens.

Lastly, Spring Break is soon upon us. If I wanted to get specific, it’s only six days away. Like last year, I’m opting to stay. I could have started putting money away, but I decided that if I stayed for the break I can have my student loan paid off in June. As much as I love the idea of going home, seeing A, my family and my dogs, having that weight of debt gone is just more overpowering. That’ll be my personal line of credit and my student loan gone in under two years. Then I’ll just have to concentrate on Mr. VISA. I’m hoping that my tax return will cut that down a bit, but I’m not holding my breath. Either way, now compared to last year, I am 30,000$ less in debt.

Debt aside, I’ll be spending the break alone. There are a few people staying, but none that I really hang out with. I’ll be occupied Easter weekend, though, with the kids that will be making their first communion. I’ve been helping Sister Sheila with that since she started the classes. I’ve also been asked to work in the store that same weekend to help with count inventory, but I have my doubts that I’ll actually be able. I got the impression from the guy that runs the place that if I can’t put all of my time in, then not to bother. The money would be great but I had already promised Sister Sheila that’d I’d be there on Saturday and Sunday. Helping out in the church is far more important to me than getting a little bit of extra cash. It’ll be a lonely break, but I’ll have company with some furry animals that will be staying for the break as well. I’ll also get a lot of reading done.

Guess that’s all for now. I’ll try my best to update sooner.

Winter? Snow? What's That?
Another blustery day in the north.

Friday, January 18th, was deemed too cold for school as an extreme wind chill settled in over much of Labrador (-51 anyone?). Today, January 21st, there’s a blizzard raging outside. I and a select few others showed up at school only to find out that school had been cancelled for the morning. This is what you get for being on time; if we had been late then we would have received the call giving us the good news that we could go back to our beds to get some much needed rest. I chose to stay at school, figuring that I was already there so I might as well get some work done. I worked long enough to find out that school would remain closed for the rest of the day. Hurrah for an extra-long weekend!

The last couple of weeks have been a little hellish. One of our foster dogs, Mia, is currently going through her first heat. If we don’t constantly clean up after her, our apartment looks like a murder scene that you might see on CSI. All the male dogs know that she’s here and are barking and fighting at all hours of the night. I don’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep. Even our little deck looks like a murder scene. The fights have resulted in lots of blood all over the deck, including the door. I’m about 95% sure that Mia will be having puppies in the future. I’ve brought Westley’s kennel with me, so she will be sent out when I can get her out.

On the topic of puppies, Sophie has entered my life. While I was volunteering at the church, when a lady approached us (by us, I mean the teachers who help out). She had heard that there was a teacher that takes dogs and she had a puppy that her son had found. She wanted to keep it, but her daughter was having an allergic reaction to it. She also told us that it was too cold for the little thing to be outside. That teacher she was talking about, of course, is me. It wasn’t a full week before Sadie entered into N and J’s life. S and his wife, C, also have two puppies: Moxy and Manny. All five will most likely be heading to the SPCA in St. John’s, unless we find homes for them.

School is going relatively well. My students are too much like zombies to make any noise or create any destruction. Two of my girls are gone off for treatment. One even surprised me by giving me a hug before she left. They’re not bad kids; they just had some really tough lives and made some bad decisions. I hope this time out works for them and they come back with a more positive outlook on life knowing that there are people out there that do care for them and want them to do well with their lives.

A and I are going well, even with the distance. We talk every day through Facebook or Skype. My favourite, of course, is the hours long phone calls that we have. Sometimes we don’t even talk much. It’s just nice to know that he’s on the other side. He’s a good match for me in so many ways.

I think I will leave it there for now and go enjoy the quiet. All dogs are cuddled together and sleeping happily. Time for some tea and a good book.

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening?
My class and I have been counting down the days with the Advent calendar I made for the classroom. For them, they are counting down the days until Christmas. For me, I’m counting down the days until Christmas break. I’m looking forward to going home to see my friends and family, my fur babies and A, my wonderful boyfriend.

My students are starting to get into the Christmas hype, as is every child across Canada I suppose. Their attention spans are getting smaller by every day. This means I need to come up with more things to keep them interested, like sliding and making ornaments out of salt dough. This week, I’m not sure what to do. Maybe kitchen time or skating will be in order. Maybe I will have them teach me how to dance Gangnam Style. I’ll just have to watch out for those iPods, don’t want them videoing me, haha. I don’t want that on the internet.

As for students, they have been much better behaved than the last month. The only thing that is frustrating me is their work. They know how to do it when we work together on the board, but as soon as they have to do it by themselves all I hear is “I don’t know how!” or “IDK!!!” It’s not that they don’t know how to do it; it’s just that they don’t want to do it by themselves. Many times I’ve had to restrain myself from banging my head on the board. There are a few students who do need the extra help, but I can’t give them the one on one attention that they need when the other students are acting like this. On a happier note, one of my students returned from St. John’s. He was heavy into sniffing gas, so his mother had taken them out of the community to get away from it. He’s been back a couple of weeks now and I can’t believe the change in him. He still says a few things that are inappropriate, but he’s not climbing the walls and he’s actually doing work. I’m very proud of all of his hard work and I hope that he continues this way.

Apartment 189B is puppy-less. Tiny Tim, Lois Lane and our newest addition, Wilson, left Thursday morning. Sam the RCMP officer picked them up and got them on the plane for us. Maggie (from the same litter as Tim and Lois) and Wilson are both staying at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA, while Tim, Lois and Lizzie headed down to Heavenly Creatures in St. John’s. I love sending animals to HC because there is a slim chance that I may run into them someday. I also get to see picture updates on the Heavenly Creatures Facebook page. My next rescue mission is getting Mia out. She’s about the same age as Westley and has the same owner as Pirate, who was sent to Heavenly Creatures last year.

So, that's the entry for now. Short and sweet. There's not a whole lot excitement here in Natuashish the second time around considering I did it all last year.

Mid Term Blog
Time seems to be dragging slowly by. I’m finding that I am not very into this year for some reason. It’s harder than last year. I’m a little more stressed than last year and I can’t seem to find the energy that I had last year. I had to send Westley home which was really hard. Kids were throwing rocks at him and he was beginning to chase cars when I would walk him. Gas sniffers were coming closer and I didn’t want them near Westley. Now there is talk of wolves sulking around the community. Somebody even saw a wolf going off into the woods with a puppy in its mouth. One of my students even told me that her dog was eaten by a wolf on Wednesday. Bad way to go for a dog. Hopefully we won’t see any wolves around the teacher apartments. All I need now is for Westley to behave while I’m not there. He’s not doing so great, behavior-wise right now and I don’t think they enjoy his company at home. Scruffy might though. I can’t wait to go home to see him.

Puppy rescue is going very well. My roommate, K, and the Grade 6 teacher, S, rescued 7 puppies almost two weeks. S and his wife are looking after 5 of the puppies, while I and K are alternating nights with the other 2 puppies. We’ve named our 2 Little Lois Lane and Tiny Tim (who is slowly turning into Tubby Tim). I’ve never seen puppies so small before. When we took them in, we estimated them to be about 2 weeks old. They were a little malnourished and some were not very developed, like Tiny Tim. Now that we’ve had them almost 3 weeks, they’re completely different puppies. Before they could barely walk and now they scurry around chasing after one another in the house. We are hoping that they will be heading to the Happy Valley – Goose Bay SPCA on Monday. I’m hoping they become part of the Mushkadoodle Express and find happy homes somewhere in Canada.

I got to spend a few days in Goose Bay last week. All the teachers had professional development days in Sheshatshiu. Some of the session we did were really good, others not so much. I mostly enjoyed the time. I really needed a break. The eating out, the little bit of shopping and the few drinks that I had were well needed. It was therapy, pure and simple. I wish I could have bought more crafts however. There were some craft stores with some really beautiful seal skin slippers and mittens, as well as Innu tea dolls. I hope to own one of these dolls someday.

Christmas break is approaching. My students keep asking if I am coming back. Of course, I tell them. The next school year, however, I will not. I’m looking forward to Christmas break this year. My dad is home this year for the holiday, which is always great. It’ll also be my first Christmas with A. I’m looking forward to this very much. The only thing I wish is that I had a longer break home. I don’t want any more stress. All I want is a happy holiday.

That’s it for now.

I'm a Slacker

Wow.  Just wow.  I’ve really slacked off with my little old blog.  Since last I’ve written many things have happened, like summer vacation for instance.  So, let’s get started.

First to begin with.  The Grade 6 class trip went really well.  I was really surprised at how it all went.  They kids were just fantastic and I would easily take them again.  It actually made me tear up from time to time, just seeing their eyes big in wonder at the little things we take for granted.  Escalators, for example.  Some of the students were nervous about going on them, but thought they were the coolest things once they got the hang of it.  I think my favourite part of the trip was visiting Ste. Anne de Beaupre Basilica, just outside Quebec City.  St. Anne’s is where many of them pilgrimage to during the summer.  They took over for the tour guide and gave myself and the other teacher the tour, telling us all about the building.  I bought a rosary and they made sure that I had them blessed before we left.  All in all, the entire trip was an amazing experience. 

The only bad thing that happened to me in Natuashish happened on June 15th.  Took my class and the Grade 5 fishing, and when I got back it seems a lot of people were looking for me, including the RCMP.   I had my gigantic suitcase down at the O&M building because I was shipping it home through cargo.  It turns out, that the building was broken into and everything in my suitcase littered the wooded are behind the building.  Thankfully, all I was missing were my magnets that I bought on the class trip, a glass penguin I bought at the BioDome and the soapstone sculpture that I had bought in Hopedale.  Now, I am also beginning to think that my skidoo gloves and snow goggles were also stolen.  I guess I learned my lesson:  never leave anything at O&M.  A good thing, however, the thieves didn’t make off with my Guess purse or my Coach purse.  They obviously didn’t realize how expensive they were.

The summer was also an interesting experience.  It was my first summer off since the summer of 1999, since the following summer I started working with the Department of Recreation.  I’ve started dating someone and he’s been super fantastic.  He’s more than I could have hoped for and I don’t feel the weight of “forever alone” on my shoulders any more.   He’s funny and sweet and perfect and that’s all you need to know.

September is almost over.  The start to this year has been harder in some ways and easier in others compared to last year.  Controlling the students and getting settled into a routine is easier since the kids already know me and how I teach.  Harder in terms that the community is going to hell.  There are more gas sniffing kids in the community and anyone who works with the Band Council have been delayed in getting paid.  There’s no money in the community, so people have no money which obviously means that the adults have more money for smuggling in drugs and alcohol.  The town is going insane.  We’ve already been on lock down once.  Three people were high on gas and walking around the community with guns that they had stolen.  There was even a

 I’m even sending Westley out.  I feel that he isn’t safe here.  Kids have been throwing rocks and driving recklessly around the apartments.  Just a few days ago, a member of the community tried to throw (or smash) a large rock into the head of another teacher’s dog.   I’m also afraid that if I leave him here over Christmas break and if someone breaks in to steal stuff they may have a negative reaction to Westley and hurt him or worse.  Then I’ll come back to no Westley and that will result in me dropping the atomic bomb on the community and going to prison for a very long time.  It probably also get me a spot on A&E’s Serial Killers Biography. 

Puppy rescue is in full swing and it’s like the puppies know I’m back in town.  My roommate and I are on our second set of two puppies.  Four puppies since we’ve been here.  I’m exhausted already and can’t wait for a break from them.  If they were trained, it wouldn’t be so bad, but they’re not.  Having two puppies in the house means an awful lot of pee and poop to clean up if we don’t catch them in time to take them outside.  It’s hard work and I may complain about it a lot, but I know I’m doing a good thing for the puppies. 

And that concludes the first entry for the new school year! 

Peace, Love and Poptarts.

It's Spring Break...sorta

The two week cultural holiday is slowly coming to an end.  They went by rather fast even though I chose to stay here in Natuashish.  I would have loved to have gone home, but I would have spent too much money in St. John’s and I would have had to find someone to watch Westley for those two weeks.  Some parents of teachers came to visit and my roommate’s boyfriend also came up to visit for the first week of the break.  I had no one visit.  Sad.

I didn’t do much on the break.  Watched a lot of TV (Sons of Anarchy anyone?), read a lot and sunbathed on a garbage dumpster.  Yes, you read that right.  I sat on top of a dumpster used for garbage in the sun and read my book.  I got a little bit of sun, enough to make my freckles come out.  I haven’t had freckles since I was little.

April 30th to May 2nd were spent in Hopedale.  It was short visit, but worth it.  It was a nice change from living here in Natuashish and by that I mean eating at a restaurant and being able to have a few alcoholic drinks.  Maybe a bit too many drinks at the lounge.  One man called me a dirty girl, while another one, who also kept putting his hands in my hair, called me a predator.  I should have told them to back off, but it was too hilarious at the time.  Myself and the girls also had quite the ‘heart to hearts,’ which something that I don’t do often.  Talk about my feelings, that is.  I usually prefer to keep them locked deep inside.

There wasn’t much shopping, which was a little disappointing as I wanted to pick up some more crafts.  I did manage to get a magnet, a keychain, a mug and a soapstone walrus.  We did, however, manage to score a free helicopter ride around Hopedale for 20 minutes.  One of the guys we met at the lounge flies a helicopter for Bell Aliant and offered us a flight.  We happily took him up him up on his offer the next day.  It was an awesome experience.

Wednesday morning we were on our way back to Natuashish.  I was a little anxious to get back and see how Westley did without me.  I was happy to hear that he only had three accidents and he was more than excited to see me.  I think Westley may have some separation anxiety issues.  He freaks out a little when I’m not there, or so I’ve been told.  I’m not sure how he’ll manage next week when I will be in Montreal with my Grade 6s. 

That’s it for now!

In the Bleak Mid-Winter, Stormy Winds Do Blow

I am well into the month of April here in Natuashish.  February went quickly, March, however dragged its legs slowly.  I didn’t have as many cold days or snow days as I thought I would have, but the school did have a good number of PD days. 

February was an exciting month.  One of our PD days was an Innu Culture Day.  The Innu staff and the teaching staff went together, either by skidoo or van/snowshoe (which I chose) and built a traditional Innu tent.  There was much to do: gather the tree boughs for the inside of the tent, gather trees to set up the tent and then finally, setting up the tent.  It was hard work….I think.  I mostly watched and took pictures.  The food was delicious.  Natalie made a tasty soup, but that wasn’t all.  There was caribou, banak and partridge (which was killed by one of the teachers and skinned by another teacher).  The caribou was my favourite. 

March, albeit long and painful, started off with a skidoo trip with the grade 6s and 7s to Davis Inlet.  I was on the back of a skidoo that was taking the kamatik.  Needless to say, there were many delightful screams from the girls riding in it every time we hit a bump.  The closer we got to Davis, the quieter our passengers got.  It was an eerie feeling as we passed the deserted airport and other buildings.  The kids took us on a tour of the school which was much smaller than the one that I teach in now.  It was like something out of a horror movie.  All those empty classrooms, some with students’ work still lying around and murals painted on the walls with past students’ names.  One  of the grade 7 students, even took me to the place that his family used to live.  A few of my boys gave me the grand tour of the church, but they refused to go down to the basement.  Me, ever the thrill seeker and always looking for a good scare, had to venture into the basement alone.  With every room, hallway and corner I passed, I expected some scary movie villain to jump out.  It was a little nerve wracking.  Overall, I would love to go back to Davis Inlet, but in the beginning of the school year when it would be easier to walk around the island and see more.  The only problem then is that I would need a boat.

The first week of April was a bit of bust when it came to school.  There was an event called “The Gathering” happening that entire week.  The Gathering simply meant going out to Twin Lakes, setting up tents and living traditionally for a week (sometimes two weeks).  For that entire week, I had no students.  It was a nice little break.  Myself and a few others rode out on skidoos on Thursday on what turned out to be the bumpiest skidoo ride of my life.  The ride was a little over an hour long, went over slushy frozen lakes and down a few large hills through wolf country.  The tent that was set up for the school was cozy inside, even if it was full of visiting children.  I was thinking about staying the night in the tent, but the thoughts of constant children in and out of the tent made me change my mind.  If there hadn’t of been children constantly around, I would have stayed.  It’s not that I mind the kids, but when you have to work with them and live around them, a break is greatly needed.

The two week break for is only nine short school days away.  I’ll be staying in Natuashish, but hopefully going to Hopedale for two days.   I’ll be good and ready to come in June and even more ready to head to Montreal with Sister #2 in July. 


Writer's Block: Tears of Joy
Still waiting for that day.  Seeing the Great Wall of China was a great day though.

I Come From the Land of the Ice and Snow

The cold month of January is nearing an end and I’ve been back in Natuashish almost three weeks.  The snow is piled high and the wind is bitterly cold.  Some days are cold enough to close the school, while on other days, you can see the teachers of Mushuau Innu Natuashish School trudging across the street dressed as different coloured marshmallows.  7:55 am sees me scurrying to make coffee, put a sweater, an extra pair of socks, heavy winter boots, a jacket two sizes too big, scarf, mittens and a hat on.  On the not so cold days, I leave my hood down.   When the hood is up and fastened, I’m lucky that I can see at all.  It’s a  bit funny how I find – 15 degrees a bit warm.  Strange how times have changed from my days from Korea.  When I returned home from that beautiful, warm (and much missed) country, I found + 10 degrees a bit chilly.  *sigh*

There are currently two and a half dogs that keep us company in the night time.   I say half because we share “Bru” with another apartment.  “Pirate” and “Blackie” are our constant residents.  Winter is a hard time for puppies.  Last Friday night, we saved a little one from being torn apart from bigger dogs.  I took her and named her “Winter.”  I fell in love with her, most likely because she is how I imagine “Scruffy” to have looked like when she was a puppy.  Then on Monday, a little husky mix was almost run over, I wasn’t long taking him to a fellow dog lover’s (J1) home.  He was “Alfie.”  The RCMP has been a great help to us here in this remote community.  S and his wife J2 are also dog lovers and have assisted us in getting puppies out on the RCMP plane and into the welcoming arms of the SPCA in Goosebay.  “Alfie” and “Winter” left on the plane today.

School is progressing well, even if the stress of it has been making me sick on occasion.  I can see myself returning to teach here again next year.  Although, I think I might try a younger grade.  I enjoy working with students, even if they give me gray hair.   ^-^ So far this term, we’ve have cold days and a snow day.  I think I’m enjoying the time off more than the kids.  On a bright note, the teachers have managed to get more preps.  I have gym, music, Innu, crafts and art!  This is quite the change from last term when I only had two preps per a seven day cycle.  I’m not as stressed or run down as I was before Christmas.

It’s going to be six months before I’m home again.  I’m choosing to stay here in Natuashish during the two week break at the end of April.  I figure it’s a good way to save some money and possibly check out some of the other communities along the coast of Labrador.  I am looking forward to having two months off come June, I just need to find something to bide my time.   Suggestions?

Writer's Block: National Hugging Day
natashakane mother, I think.  I'm not much of a hugger.


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