Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Settling Down

Hey All,
well what a week. We are now over a week from Station Close and things seem to be settling into a rhythm here now. It is so much quieter on station now.When I walk to MAPO I only hear the snow rustling across the ground and the wind in my ears; less snowmobiles and machinery grumbling, no planes roaring past five, six times a day. Very pleasant.

I have been up to my ears in computer glitches this week, but at last we are finding some solutions instead of more problems! Despite these, we have had a very successful month of observing. I don't want to say that too loud in case I jinx myself (but I think I've already done that).

The mercury is drifting ever downward, along with the sun. The light here is so unusual at the moment, though I am sure it is only going to get stranger in the next month towards sunset. It is a late-afternoon sun, which gives out lazy, golden light, especially viewed through your sun-goggles. The sastrugi cast out long shadows which make strange grey shapes on the ground that circle their small mountains in the course of the day. The cold is finally defeating my brave attire: I have had to switch to my big blue boots. My favourite, dying pair of hiking boots can't protect my tosies from freezing now, and they got pretty chilly a couple of days ago, so now i have the big clunking things on...

In the Station, people are closing down the summer accomodations, 'winterizing' them, which means removing to a safe place all fittings and electronics that would break if frozen, then they turn the power off, board up the windows and doors to stop snow getting in, and then let it get cold. This year is more eventful that usual as they are closing down a number of buildings in the much-loved Dome, which will be dismantled next summer. Our fuel shortages mean they need to close down and pull down a few of these buildings this winter, and this has started with the old galley, and the very much loved Bar above the galley. These rooms are chock-full of memorabilia and they had to be declared off-limits before the dismantling toavoid (understandably) light fingers among all station crew. The whole set of buildings in the Dome and the Dome itself has beein promised to two theme parks in the US if you can beleive it! It will be very strange to see the inside of the Dome empty - but even stranger to see it gone completely. I am glad to be wintering in the last year it is here, I can't imagine it gone.

One interesting (well, slightly) occurrence was that an astute person at our managers meeting pointed out a new concern in only our second week of winter. One piece of cargo that didn't make it in from the coast for our winter supplies was stationery. With eight months to go, we are down to a couple of boxes of red pens and one pallet of paper! No books, legal paper, printing paper or a blue pen anywhere. The hoarding has already begun. I have a little stash out here at MAPO and will be willing to charge great rates by October... ;) I suppose we have to look on the bright side. At least the loo paper made it in...on that note though, another interesting problem thisweek was that our sewerage well has an ice plug in it! (Yes they are certain it is ice, and not a change in our diets...) It is about seventy feet down, so they are having trouble getting rid of it. We are currently on our 'emergency' well, but this doesn't have the, erm, capacity to take care of the job for all of us for the whole winter, so we are hoping the ingenious U.T.s figure out a solution. Otherwise it may not only be showers they ration...

Well, hasn't this been a delightfully informative diary! On that note, Iwill leave you then :) Feel free to drop me a line anytime, you know how exciting it is to get emails - particularly from a bunch of my friends I haven't heard from in ages?! Slack buggers. Anyhoo, love you all to bits.

hope this finds you all well and happy (and hot?)

smiles
Jess

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