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> June 1, 2006, The House Mouse
post Jun 4 2006, 02:45 PM
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High Temperature: -22 degrees Celsius
Low Temperature: -18 degrees Celsius

Mr. McMahon, the House Mouse

Today I put science to the side to become the house mouse. “What is a house mouse?” you might ask.

It is one of the more important jobs at Summit camp. Do you remember seeing the Disney movie, Cinderella? The mice in the movie helped Cinderella do whatever needed to be done around the house so that Cinderella could go to the ball. At Summit, the house mouse spends the day at the Big House cleaning and helping the cooks. Without the house mouse, the Big House would be a very messy place.

I was looking forward to a relaxing day indoors. How tough could this “house mouse” thing be? I woke up at 8:00 a.m. and went to breakfast. After breakfast, I walked over the bulletin board to review the list of chores I had to perform today:

Choose the music
Put away food promptly after meals (1 pm. and 7 pm)
Wash and put away dishes after each meal
Wipe counters and table tabletops
Keep hot and cold water containers filled
Keep juice containers filled (and cleaned between new batches)
Ask cook about freezer runs and general help
Check water level and let staff know if we need a water run

After breakfast:
Restock bagels and English muffins from box on back porch
Tidy up and wipe down coffee/breakfast area

After lunch:

Fill napkins, paper towels, toothpicks, salt & pepper
Vacuum carpeted areas
Clean toilet, shower, and sink in bathroom

After dinner:

Sweep and mop kitchen, scullery, and bathroom floors
Empty and take out all trash (only if full)
Clean off back porch, flatten cardboard boxes and take to the trash
Clean both microwaves
Wipe down stoves and counters in kitchen and sink area in scullery
Clean coffee machine and posts and fill 2 pots with water
Keep hot water heater on coffee counter mostly full
Wipe down sinks and water dispenser

Wow. I am tired just reading how much work has to be done.

Thirty seven (37) people live at Summit camp right now. I soon learned that it is a lot of work to wash breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes for thirty seven people. Once you think you are finished with all the dishes, the cooks will cooks give you all their pots and pans to clean too.

Ok, I bet you want to see some funny pictures of Mr. McMahon being the house mouse. I won’t disappoint you.

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Sarah, one of our wonderful cooks, is making sure I am doing a good job washing dishes.

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After finishing the lunch dishes, it is vacuum time.

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The entrance to the "freezer" at Summit.

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The inside of the "freezer" at Summit. Can you see what the walls are made of? Can you see the ice crystals that are forming on the ceiling?

I like the way that Summit camp uses the arctic environment to their advantage. Instead of buying a huge freezer and flying it to the middle of the ice sheet, the staff created a “freezer” by digging a pit in the ground. The roof is covered over with strong boards and snow. Once you open the door, you walk down steps to the freezer. When the freezer was first built, there were not many steps leading down into the freezer. However, every year, snow will fall and cover the doorway. When that happens, new stairs are built and the door is moved up so the door is on the surface of the snow. Currently, there are 27 steps leading to the freezer. If you would like to see a photo of the freezer stairs, visit my photo gallery.

Although today was one of the most tiring days here at Summit, I learned a lot about how the camp is run. I also learned to appreciate keeping the Big House clean and to not use any more dishes or cups than was absolutely necessary. The mouse is a very hard job but it made my day when someone would say “Thanks, Mouse” or “Thanks for mousing today.”

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When I was the mouse, I found some hidden treasures while helping the cooks look for supplies.

Arctic fact of the day: The term “Eskimo” means “eaters of raw meat” in the Athapaskan language. The word is now viewed as a derogatory (bad) term in Canada and, to some extent, in Greenland.
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