Category Archives: Before the move

Equipment Checklist for Home-Moving Persons

Post #11

Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 3

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 21

7 p.m. Friday Oct. 23

7 p.m. Friday Oct. 23

There are certain objects that a Moving Person needs to attach to herself somehow when she is packing; otherwise these objects disappear completely and she spends half her time looking for them, rather than packing.

I have put these objects (well, except the vacuum cleaner) in a plastic pail so that I can carry them around with me, or at least locate them when I need them.

The next trick will be to train myself to put the objects back into the pail after I have used them. 😦

Friday night

Friday night

  • packing tape
  • marking pen
  • stickers for labeling boxes
  • scissors
  • box cutter
  • polly filla
  • scrubber and/or abrasive cleaner for marks on walls
  • pliers
  • a container for extracted, re-usable screws and nails
  • vacuum cleaner

I’m having sushi for breakfast

Post #10

Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 6.5

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 24

Rule to live by: in the final five days before a move, you can eat anything you want whenever you want, particularly if it uses up something that is in the fridge, and as long as you also eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and take your vitamins.

Also, you don’t have to do the dishes unless you feel like it or run out of clean cutlery because everything else is in disarray, so who cares?

Life has a way….

Post #9

Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 8

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 26

Schedules are fine in theory but they tend to fly utterly out the window in the face of real-life events.

In the past week, I have learned of the death of my first cousin’s husband, who was only 45 and whom I loved a lot, as I do his wife and their young-adult sons. This meant I wanted to fly to the funeral in Vancouver, and I did, on Saturday. While I was there I learned by email of the terminal illness of a dear friend who is in her 90s but has not suffered a day of major ill health until this year.

I flew home and hosted a gathering of friends at Amigos here in Saskatoon yesterday, which was lovely but emotional. I am going to miss quite a few people who live here. And later yesterday I learned that I had become a grandmother for the first time (thanks, Matt and Nancy. You have made a beautiful little baby and thereby enriched my life in ways that I don’t have any inkling about now, and in ways that I already do).

LR Oct19 09Needless to say, none of these events has actually advanced the move that I am preparing for in any kind of physical way (i.e., the Brownie elves did NOT come in while I was in Vancouver and pack the books). As you will see from the attached photo, I am in more of a mess here than I was last time I took a photo. I think this is a good thing – a sign of some progress. But just now, at 4:30 on Monday afternoon, one week before the movers arrive, I noticed myself walking aimlessly from room to room, trying to remember what I was looking for and thinking instead about the people we learn to love, and the inevitability of loss.

So now I have sat down to try to prioritize what I absolutely must do and cross things off my lists that are not essential.

I decided one thing I could do right now was to write a blog post. And another thing I will do is to evaluate some work that has come in and figure out where I will slot it into my week. And I will put my furniture that is for sale on Kikiji. And that will be quite a bit of something, even if that’s all I get done for the rest of the day.

More soon.

Mover booked!

Post #8

Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 19

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 37

Today I finally found time to send out requests for estimates from movers. A tip for any moving company reps who might happen by and read this: I am so used to doing business on the Internet that if I found from the phone book or a website that I would have to phone rather than email to get an estimate (because no email address was provided), I didn’t bother with that company. It is so much faster to send an email request to eight movers at once (using bcc, of course) than to call them one at a time, phoning doesn’t seem worth the time. However, I did include my phone number with my emailed request for estimates, so that movers could call me if I hadn’t provided them with enough information.

Since my move is small, from a small two-bedroom to a storage unit, it was not necessary for the moving companies to come out and look over the situation before they were able to give me a quote. We ball-parked it — estimating that to load the belongings and take them to the storage unit and unload them would take two “men” (are they ALL men? That’s how they quote) three or four hours. One company estimated it would take three men five to six hours! They obviously didn’t want my business. But three others were fairly close to one another. I chose the company that phoned and asked a few questions, and assured me that they would wrap any valuables in plastic wrap and leave the wrap on them so that they were protected when they came out of storage as well. The two companies that haven’t got back to me yet are out of luck.

So Saskatoon Moving will be here at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, October 26. Once I had that settled, I booked a flight to Edmonton from Saskatoon for the next day on a seat sale. It was only $45! Plus tax (which doubled the cost, but still). Then I booked a rental car in Edmonton — and there I found one company’s cost varied from another’s by more than $100/week. Amazing.

Snow, Saskatoon, Oct. 8/09I find that in the mornings when I wake up, I feel as though I have lots of time to get everything done before I have to leave Saskatoon, but by the end of the day (as now), I find myself panicking that I will not. I hit what is likely to be the closest perspective to reality at about 4 p.m., I guess: and at those times, I know I will make my deadlines, but I also know I may not get all the fine sorting done that I had hoped to do before I go.

So there’s progress. And today there was a snowstorm in Saskatoon to help remind me of one of the reasons why I’m leaving. It was so beautiful here last week that I thought maybe I’d just been dreaming prairie winters all these years. Not.

I have finally started to pack!

Post #7

Estimated Days to Departure from Saskatoon: 22

Days to Departure from Western Canada: 41

I just returned from a very busy one-week visit to see relatives and friends in Alberta. One of the things I did before I left was to get a quote on the cost of having a moving-and-storage company collect my belongings, store them, and then bring them to me in Toronto when I find an apartment to live in. The cost was going be prohibitive: probably more than the actual belongings are worth. So as I was driving along highways in Alberta and Saskatchewan last week, I was thinking about Move09-Oct4alternatives—and talking about alternatives with my clever younger son, who was with me on the road for part of the trip. He can analyze problems and come up with solutions like nobody’s business. And now I have a modified plan.

I am going to get rid of everything I don’t need. I bought the furniture I have here because I didn’t have any furniture at the time, and I never was too happy with it, so I’m going to sell it. The only stuff I am going to keep is what pertains to me and my memories—my books (and bookshelves, of course. Bookshelves are always expensive and hard to find), my paintings and other art, some dishes, as well as stuff like pots and pans that people always need.  There are also boxes and boxes of manuscripts here, and other papers that I want to keep forever. I’ll take my television. My computers. The clothes I really like. The rest of my belongings will be sold or go to the Salvation Army. (The plants and a few other things like spices and house-cleaning products I am going to offer to local friends. They/you are welcome to say “No thanks!”)

I am delighted with this decision as it means I can sort and whittle down, something I love to do. (Time permitting, of course. It’s not like I have time to sort all my papers again or anything. I did that once about 10 years ago, and am planning to do it again in my 14th decade.)

While I am sorting, I am going to put everything I will need for my three weeks in Alberta and/or will need in the first few months in Toronto into one room, and the rest into the other rooms. And I am going to get a quote on moving whatever I don’t need immediately into a storage unit here. (I rented the unit itself yesterday.)

When I get to Toronto and find an apartment, I will replace the items I have just sold. I will get a new couch, chair, table, bed. (As many of you are aware, I know how to get what I want at auctions. :)) With the option to replace the basics when I get to Toronto, I will be able to function there (earn a living, write fiction, etc.) until I have time to think about getting a moving van that can bring the things I will have here in Saskatoon, plus the belongings I already have in storage in Edmonton (mostly my aunt’s things that I put there when she moved into continuing care). At that point, I may even look on-line for someone who is moving from Edmonton to Toronto and wants to share the cost of a mover. Even including everything in Edmonton and Saskatoon, I don’t have a lot of stuff.

At least this gives me options, and doesn’t require so much cash up front.

Somewhere I once read that the key to success in attaining a goal is being able to adjust your course of action when the original plan clearly isn’t going to work. My goal is to get to Toronto. My plan to hire a mover to get me there in one smooth transfer didn’t work. But now I have another plan for attaining my goal, one that gives me the advantage of an excuse to buy “new” (used) furnishings—things that I prefer over what I have now. So I am ahead of the game, and I am back in business.  And I am excited about and focused on the move.

(Anybody want to buy a couch—practically new?)

The search for a mover who is not a shaker

Post #6

Tomorrow I have an interview with a mover who is going to give me an estimate. My move is going to be complicated, and the cost is a concern to me, so it’ll be good to begin to get a sense of what I am facing.

The complications start with the fact that I need to put most of my belongings into storage for a couple of months or more until I get settled in Toronto, and then I need to have the belongings moved to my new place without my having to come back to Saskatoon to supervise. This means, ideally, that I will have a mover who also offers storage facilities, rather than having to find  a separate storage unit. (To add even more complications to the mix,  I still have a storage unit half full of stuff in Edmonton, but I’m not sure I can bear to think about that at the moment… even though the frame for my bed is one of the things that is in Edmonton. I’ve been living without a bed frame and without a dresser for four years now – I guess I can survive for a bit longer.)

I have moved often enough to know that you can get really, really bad movers and really, really expensive movers, and that bad movers can be expensive. (I have had some really bad and some really expensive moves.) The best option, if there is any way to manage it, is to use a mover you’ve used before, and liked. (The next-best option is to ask your friends who they used and to find a reliable mover that way. The worst option is to try to find the least expensive and most reliable mover yourself by starting from scratch with the phone book or on-line listings. I have almost always had a problem when I’ve had to start from scratch. I suppose one could try to find kudos or complaints on the Internet to expand one’s knowledge about individual movers, but it would still be a crapshoot, and a lot of work.)

I am fortunate in regard to the aforementioned options at the moment. I’ve used two movers in Saskatchewan and I did not like the first one at all (they were expensive and made me feel like I’d been ripped off) but the second one was great (and I got the name from a friend, by the way)—they were careful, quick and reasonable (quick is important when you are paying by the hour, and careful is important when you don’t want anything broken–because movers rarely pay for anything they break).

Therefore, tomorrow I am talking to the mover I used last time, and liked. This company has storage facilities and although it is a small Saskatoon-based company, it will be able to move me across the country—and even collect the things from the storage unit in Edmonton if I do decide to do it all at the same time. In addition, the manager wants to come to see what we are talking about in terms of square footage of belongings before he gives me a quote, and I find that reassuring.

My plan is to get a complete quote from this company for everything I might need, broken down on paper into modules (i.e., cost to move stuff to storage, cost for storage for two/three months, cost of moving from storage in Saskatoon to Toronto, additional cost to pick stuff up from storage unit in Edmonton and add it to what I am packing up here before coming to Toronto).  And then I will phone a few other moving companies and storage companies and get cost comparisons. If the company I like is in the ballpark, they will get the job.

I do have one card to play that will reduce my costs, I hope: I am flexible. I intend to move out of this apartment on a day that is mid-week and several days before the end of the month. I also hope to be flexible at the other end. I’d like to be able to wait until the moving company has another move to Toronto (or even try to make an arrangement with someone else who is moving to Toronto, even from Vancouver or Edmonton via Saskatoon. I’ll check Craigslist etc.) and combine my move with theirs. So even though I know this is going to be expensive one way or the other, I hope to make it as inexpensive as possible… if you get my drift.

A thought about giving notice – I have told the landlord I am moving at the end of October. I will provide them with official notice on September 30, but they asked me if I would give them as much notice as possible. In the past doing this has never served me well, and I have a feeling it’s not going to serve me well this time, either. I’d advise anyone else not to do what I always seem to do. Just give notice on the day you’re supposed to give it. As soon as you are moving, you are no longer a cherished tenant. You immediately become an impediment to all kinds of things the landlord wants to get done before the next tenant moves in. I am an idiot not to have learned this from my own experience.

The move is becoming more real, and I am beginning to wonder if I will get everything done in time. This is a normal part of the moving process, but it is still making me crazy and I have noticed in the past few days that my temper is even shorter than usual. I will draw a few deep breaths, cross at least one inessential off my to-do list, and try to fit a run in tomorrow somehow. All those things will help.

A break in a lifetime of box-collection blues

Post #5

I had a great experience yesterday. After procrastinating for hours and hours on Friday, for reasons I shall explain below, at about 10 a.m. on Saturday morning I screwed up my courage and went into the Saskatchewan Liquor Store at 8th St. near Circle Drive and asked one of the cashiers if she had any boxes I could use for my upcoming move. Liquor-store boxes are definitely the best kind of boxes for moving books, of which I have too many, and often for dishes and other things as well: a box that is sturdy enough to hold 8 to 12 bottles of wine or alcohol and small enough that you can still lift it when it is full is a perfect size for many things.

The cashier asked me how many boxes I wanted. I was hoping I might get at least five, and maybe six, but I told her I’d love to have as many as I could get in my car, or as many as they could spare. She told me to drive around to the back of the store and they would see what they could do.

When I arrived at the shipping door out back, a man was waiting there for me with about four good solid boxes. He asked if I was moving, and I said I was. He said, “I’ll give you the bigger ones then.” He proceeded to choose excellent packing boxes for me, and I kept putting them into the vehicle I’d rented until it was full. When I drove away, I was one happy camper.

This whole experience was a huge contrast to my box-collection efforts during previous moves. In Edmonton, there often seemed to be a regulation about how many boxes one person could take from a liquor store—do not ask me why. I generally was permitted about five, and had to go to another liquor store to get five more, and another for five more, etc.

In addition to setting limits, liquor-store employees seemed to greet requests for boxes with expressions of condescension if not actual rudeness. Again I cannot explain this. Perhaps the cashiers felt that a more dignified person would get her boxes from a more dignified place than a liquor store: perhaps, for example, a truly civilized person would buy boxes at a box store. (Are there box stores? I have no idea. But if there are, I’m sure they charge good money for the boxes, which seems ridiculous. Boxes are essentially wrappers for other products. They ought to be recycled.) Perhaps the liquor-store employees felt that moving itself was an undignified activity. Or perhaps they felt inconvenienced by the request – although I’m not sure why they would, as it is customary for the box-collector to be the one who does all the carrying in these situations. (I never had this problem when I wanted FULL boxes of liquor, by the way, only empty ones.)

After experiencing this negative reception several times, I reached a point where I found it difficult to walk into a liquor store and ask for boxes: I knew that the response would be preceded by a deep sigh and delivered in a tone that might be appropriate if the employee had needed to tell me exactly the same thing every single day for weeks: “We only have boxes on Wednesdays. They are left out back of the store in the lane,” or “The empty boxes are over there.  You are welcome to have four.”

In Alberta, rather than face indignity, I sometimes tried going to grocery stores instead. But grocery-store boxes are often flimsy and many have holes in them to allow the fruits and vegetables that originally came in them to breathe. Banana boxes just don’t make it when you are trying to pack a house. I could think of no other kinds of stores that would have boxes in the numbers and dimensions that I needed. (I have recently discovered that some moving companies will provide boxes that are sturdy and a good size, but they generally charge for them and/or require you to return them. As many of my boxes are going to be in storage for a while and then end up in Toronto, returning them–at least this time– is not an option.) So, tail between my legs, I’d go back to begging from liquor stores.

During one horrifically complex move in Alberta, I decided that what I needed to do was to save all the boxes from one move so I would have them for the next move. You need a whole lot of extra space to be able to pull this off, but I was determined. I folded all the boxes flat after I’d unpacked them, and I put them all away. Several months later I had another good idea—which was to lend my boxes to other people who were moving. Unfortunately, the first person to whom I lent my cache threw them into her back yard as she emptied them, where they were all turned to mush by an out-of-season snow storm.

So for one reason and another, mainly involving not having enough space to store boxes where I am now, I’m back again to collecting from scratch. And so far this time it is going unexpectedly well. But if it seemed to the kind folks at the 8th St. liquor store in Saskatoon that I was a bit over the top in my gratitude yesterday… well, I did have my reasons.

In which my mind wanders to security deposits and the securing of boxes

Post #4

Yesterday I worried about my security deposit. (For those of you who haven’t rented since the 1970s and are not landlords yourselves, this used to be called the “damage deposit.”)

I’ve caused no wear and tear to my current apartment that could be described as anything but “normal,” and I’ve always got my security deposits back in full from places I’ve rented in the past (although I’ve also always worried about whether I would or not). But in this case, something happened between the time I signed the first lease and when I signed the second: the ownership of the building changed, and the new owners decided that they didn’t want people putting nails in walls to hang their pictures on, and they didn’t want people putting adhesive things on the walls to hang their pictures from. This seems to be a trend of some sort, as a correspondent from Toronto who is a renter mentioned the other day that they aren’t allowed to hang pictures on their walls.

This floors me. (Walls me?) I have no idea how you can possibly consider any dwelling a home if you can’t hang pictures. Those hanging on my walls now include some that have been in the rooms where I’ve lived since childhood, others that were gifts, a few that I purchased myself. All are as vested with memories as are any of the books on my shelves. I can’t imagine what I’ll do if the place in Toronto has a similar restriction — but the penalty for contravention is hefty. It involves paying to repaint the entire apartment at a cost that is is even greater than the amount of the damage deposit–which is almost a full month’s rent.

Before I signed the second lease, I pointed out that since i had moved in under the previous lease and therefore had already put lots of holes in the walls so I could hang my pictures, I could not comply with the new clause in the new lease. I crossed it out. I initialled it. Yesterday I noticed that despite a verbal agreement to do so, the landlord’s agent did not initial that clause before mailing me my copy. Hence the worry. Since I’m already at odds with the landlord’s agent because my air conditioner hasn’t worked all summer, and am requesting a discount on my October rent as a result, I am a bit tentative about raising another issue before the first one has been decided. But I guess I’ll need to follow up on that.

On a more constructive note, yesterday I booked a rental car for one day this weekend so I can start accumulating boxes and do a few other errands in preparation for The Pack.

A place to stay — and a place to run

Post #3

Last week, I sent friends and relatives on my email contact list an announcement of my impending move, and a link to this new blog. That list includes several people I’ve known since childhood. A family friend I haven’t seen in at least 40 years responded almost immediately to invite me to stay in her basement bed- and bath-room suite in North Toronto while I am looking for a place to rent. I have now accepted her kind offer with deep gratitude. (Thank you again, Pat!)

I had intended that this week I would start to look for a furnished suite that I could rent for a few weeks while I was looking for a permanent address. I’d had a look at Craigslist and a few other on-line sites that advertise furnished suites that are available on a weekly or monthly basis. I was going to follow up on those more seriously, and put a notice onto a few of my on-line forums to see if anyone wanted to sublet for a month or so. However, to have now had that part of my to-do list eliminated before I even really started on it is simply wonderful, and the fact that Pat is centrally located and close to public transit is icing on the cake.

One of the first things I did after I accepted Pat’s invitation was to figure out how far she was from the Toronto Running Room stores and/or the Y. I was delighted to discover that there is a Running Room less than a kilometre from her house. The Running Room stores all have “run clubs” that go out on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, with different groups doing different paces. Everyone at every stage and speed is welcome. (Increasingly these stores now offer walking clubs as well for those who are not into running.) These and similar outlets are great resources for finding safe running trails in unfamiliar cities.

I am not an athlete. I’ve never been one—I skated in winter and swam in summer as a kid, but that was about it. Just after my second son was born I took an aerobics class, and ever since then I’ve been a recreational-level fitness fanatic (although admittedly an inconsistent and often inactive one. Sometimes my weekly exercise consists only of admiring people on television who are cycling or running). Running (or, more precisely, “jogging” in my case) is my favourite activity. Even my slow pace is enough to get the endorphins firing after twenty minutes or half an hour and the fresh air and small calorie burns are bonuses. Even at nearly 60, running is still a pretty good activity for me—especially when I do it.

One of the biggest drawbacks to living on the frozen prairie is that there always comes a point in the winter when running outside is not possible for an extended period—it is too cold and/or the roads and sidewalks are too slick. Getting downtown to the Y to find an alternate activity also seems to require too much courage in such weather. So inevitably, I stop. Getting started again when spring comes and the sidewalks are finally less treacherous is always hard. I worry that some year I will not start again at all, and so I had this thought: if I move to a place where I don’t have to stop running for more than a few days in a row, and if I keep on running all year round, then I’ll never have to start running again. This reasoning makes perfect sense to me: especially when I’m high on endorphins.

I finally have got myself back to the point where I’m running four days a week. I know that one key to my successful transition to Toronto is going to be to ensure that I continue to work out consistently. If I let that go during the move, it will be hard to get started again – there will always be something else I need to do more. In addition to boosting my spirits and my self-confidence, of course, exercise also builds my energy and strength. I’m going to need lots of those resources if I’m going to get all the packing done and do everything else I need to do in the next few weeks and months. I can’t afford to let the workouts slide.

So the Google map of Toronto with its little red balloons that showed the proximity of Pat’s house to a Running Room was a very welcome sight.

The geographics

Post #2

In the past couple of years, thanks to my involvement with on-line writers’ forums including the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition and Authonomy, I have been fortunate to acquire writing buddies all over the world. While most of them know pretty much where Canada is, their knowledge of specific cities and provinces can be kind of fuzzy. So I made a map with Saskatoon and Toronto on it. I also added Edmonton to it so you could see where I will be flying from on November 15. (Edmonton is where I lived for many many years and where my elderly aunt, who I visit regularly, is in continuing care.) I also put Vancouver on the map, because that’s where the winter Olympics will be next February! (Okay. Idiomatically speaking, it was not I who “put Vancouver on the map.” It did that for itself.)

If you click on the image, you will go to the original where you can zoom in and stuff.

If you click on the image, you will go to the original where you can zoom in and stuff.

FYI: It is 2700 km or 1684 miles from Edmonton to Toronto. From Saskatoon to Toronto, it is 2227 km, or 1384 miles.

The response to this blog has already been so positive and supportive — I have such great friends! Thank you! In addition to a great deal of cheering and moral support, one person in Toronto went to all the trouble to go downstairs and talk to a neighbour about whether her apartment might be available to me while she is snowbirding this winter (thanks, Gordon!) and another has offered me a “granny suite” to stay in while I am looking for a place to live (thank you Pat!).  So I am grateful and overwhelmed.

What else I have done toward getting moved so far? I have stopped replacing things like Mrs. Dash when I run out of them because I don’t want to have to pack and store any more than I need to. I am not freezing too much fruit this year, or buying any more cans than I can use up in the immediate future.