Category Archives: During the move

The final phase of the move begins

Post #21

At the end of April, I am going on a business trip to Saskatoon. This will offer me the opportunity to see some of the people from that city I’ve been missing, but it also means that I will finally be able to spring my furniture loose from the storage unit and move it to Toronto.

In the next few weeks I will be posting on Kijiji and Craigslist (and other places anyone suggests) to try to find someone who would like to share a moving van from Saskatoon to Toronto in late April. If you know of anyone in that situation, let me know!

Two months after that, I will be in Edmonton to collect the last of the items remaining in the storage unit there. This means that as of June, for the first time in about ten years I will have all of my possessions consolidated at one address in one city. I am really looking forward to being in that position.

The only problem I’ll have then (possession-wise) is that I will probably have too many things to fit in my apartment here. However, I am quite happy to consider being overcrowded for a while after feeling like I’m in a campground for what will have been six months by then. (What I am anticipating most is having a real bed again—no one wants to alternate between sleeping on an air-bed and a couch for six months: trust me.  Next in importance will be getting my paintings and bookcases up on and against the walls. This place is barren and it makes me feel barren in my head. I need my books and art.)

The next phase—sorting – can happen when it will; like Goldilocks, my ultimate goal is to  create a situation that is exactly right . . . mainly so I can stop thinking about my immediate surroundings, and get back to focusing on my work (and my recreation of course!)

One thing I have learned through all of this is that it is desirable to be in a position where one can take one’s living quarters for granted. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done that.

East is East and West is West

Post #20

Note to self: Next time someone gives you an address in Toronto, ask that person whether there is an East or a West involved. Do not simply look the address up on Google Maps and assume that Google Maps has given you the correct and only answer. Many addresses in Toronto do not have an East or a West attached to them. But those on major streets that fall on one side or the other of Yonge St., for example (like Bloor and Sheppard) do.

If you take this simple step of finding out exactly where you are going before you go there, you will never again find you’ve headed off in the wrong direction from the subway stop, and that you are therefore arriving one-half-hour late for—let us say—an ophthalmology appointment with your hair as damp and bedraggled as your spirits because you’ve walked 15 blocks farther than you needed to through a downfall of wet snow.

Just a suggestion. An auto-suggestion, as it were.

Home is where the stuff is

Post #19

On a Tuesday in mid-January, I was called suddenly and unexpectedly to Alberta when my 89-year-old aunt fell seriously ill. Since her illness had come on so quickly, I had to pack and go very quickly. In fact, before I could even get to her bedside, she had died.

The next five days passed in a whirl of emotions and administrative responsibilities as my sister and my cousin and I made arrangements to memorialize my aunt, sort her belongings, and begin the executorship of her estate. Five days later, on a Sunday morning, I found myself back on a plane to Toronto, still feeling overwhelmed with what had just happened and what still needed to be done, but relieved to be heading home again.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I reflected on how surprising it was that after having lived in Toronto for only two months, I already thought of it as “home.” I had lived in Edmonton for nearly forty years, and in Western Canada for at least 45, but after eight weeks it seemed I was already adapted to my new spot half a block off Yonge near Eglinton.

I thought back to when I moved in the opposite direction at the age of 14, from London, Ontario to Edmonton. I had gone there against my will, when my mother died and I was left to relatives I barely knew. I swore I would return at my earliest opportunity, and every time I went back east for a visit, which I did every two years or so, I renewed my vow. It wasn’t until I was finished university and newly married, enjoying a holiday in London with my new husband but looking forward to getting back to our place in Edmonton, that I realized that I had finally started thinking of the West as “home.”

Perhaps my rapid adaptation this time is because I grew up in Ontario, but I don’t think that’s it. Perhaps the fact that I chose to move to Toronto rather than being required to do so has made the difference, but I don’t think that is the entire explanation either. I feel that I have reached a point where I think of where my stuff is as home, no matter where that is. Where my stuff is now is in Toronto. If it were in Timbuctu, that would be my home.

However, just because Toronto is home doesn’t mean I know very much about it yet. I’m still learning. I keep discovering new things to like: such as the fact that for three dollars I can get onto a bus and then a subway and then another subway and then another bus and one and a half hours later I am at the airport. A cab takes half the time, but it costs $50.

I may be the only Torontonian (!) who is still in love with the Toronto Transit Commission system which took the amazing step last week of making an apology to the public for its past sins, promising better service and more pleasant and helpful customer relations in future.

I also continue to eat my way around my new city: I have found a great Mexican restaurant (Chimichanga on Yonge, just north of Eglinton) and my friend Mari-Lou took me to an authentic Hungarian restaurant where she ate regularly when she lived in Toronto many years ago: the Country Style on Bloor east of Bathurst, where we had a tasty chicken paprikash with home-made spaetzle.

If I moved here in part for the weather, I picked the right winter. We have had a few days of cold, but for the most part it’s been so mild that even long-time Torontonians are remarking on it. I have walked out in the morning and thought that the streets and sidewalks had been dusted overnight with hoar-frost, then realized that what I was seeing was the rime of the salt that was sprinkled weeks ago on then momentarily slippery streets.

Of course, it’s only February.

Speaking of stuff, I am really looking forward to consolidating mine in Toronto before too much longer. I have a tentative commitment to do some work in Saskatoon and am going to combine the trips. I am tired of “camping out” in my apartment.

Aside from that, it’s good to be home.

Stepping out

Post #18

Despite how it may have sounded in previous posts (and how it sometimes feels), I have not spent all of my time in the past six weeks moving boxes and their contents around my new living space or wandering around Yonge Street and the roads that intersect it looking for Crazy Glue, Mrs. Dash (original version), a doormat and some Christmas presents.

Here are some of the places to which, so far, I have ventured beyond my home turf:

  • Sotto Sotto Trattoria on Avenue Road near Bloor—apparently one of Toronto’s toniest restaurants, and who am I to disagree? At 8:30 p.m. on the warm Saturday evening in November when a friend and I dined there, would-be patrons formed a line down the block, waiting for the first shift to be finished so they could get to the tables they’d reserved. And when we were finished our dinner at close to 10:30 p.m., another whole phalanx of the chic and slender were waiting to take our seats. The entryway and several walls at Sotto Sotto feature photos of famous people who have eaten there—Brad Pitt, Tim Robbins and Elton John, to name a few. The proximity of the restaurant to the upscale hotels where film folk often stay when they’re in town is rumoured to be a reason for its popularity (according to one review I read, the locals come there either to see who they can see, or not to be seen themselves, depending on who they are), but the food has something to do with its acclaim as well. The fare was outstanding from the antipasto to the espresso, although pricey—as one might expect from a tiny award-winning restaurant that is nevertheless big enough to have its own sommelier. I had a magnificent veal entrée that I am certain would have been capable of melting in my mouth if I had given it the time. The atmosphere of the restaurant, which is  several steps below street level, is candlelit and intimate—effectively evoking a grotto, as intended;

    CN Tower in the rain

  • Bloor Street United Church, where a friend and I attended a recital by soprano Maria Knight. Ms. Knight, who looked beautiful and sang stunningly as well, proved herself a trouper by hitting each sweet note bang on in spite of the fact that the heat in the church was on the fritz and her arms were bare. The rest of us were so chilly we kept our coats on. Ms. Knight was accompanied by an outstanding pianist, David Eliakis, and the Artelli String Quartet from Guelph supported her exquisite rendition of Chausson’s “Chanson perpétuelle.” I was also beguiled by the occasional rumblings of the subway making its way through the ground beneath our feet. I am in love with the subway;
  • The waterfront of Lake Ontario, downhill from the elegant and lovely old section of Toronto called The Beaches, where a friend and I skipped stones into the water (I am no better at that in November than I am in July, I discovered. In the west, lakes freeze in winter, and skipping stones becomes much easier) and ate brunch at The Beacher Café. I spent some time considering how nice (and expensive) it would be to live in an apartment across the street from Lake Ontario;
  • Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, where I heard Handel’s Messiah performed by Tafelmusik. At $25, my seat put me in perfect line to see the shoes of the orchestra and the noses and skirts/trouser legs of the soloists, but the sound was unimpaired and it was an outstanding presentation. Tafelmusik is considered by many critics to be one of the finest Baroque orchestras (and chorus) in the world, and many of the musicians perform on period instruments, and I was honoured to have heard them perform in their own space;

    I also went out to Yonge St. on December 17 and watched the Olympic Torch go by

  • The Monarch Tavern near Korea Town for a well attended launch of four books by Mansfield Press, not to mention the celebration of the nomination of one of the press’s poets, David McFadden, for a Governor General’s award;
  • Sherwood Park near my apartment, which is a beautiful section of the miles and miles of well-treed valley through the city. I look forward to running and walking there frequently;
  • The Toronto Centre for the Arts to see Jersey Boys – the musical that tells the tale of the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The music was great and the facility was outstanding: there is not a bad seat in the house (and I know because I was in the back row, and only occasionally even felt inclined to put my opera glasses to use).

I have also been to a Starbucks on Queen Street near Strachan (pronounced “Strawn”) where I met my friend Mary who was visiting from Edmonton, and I’ve walked down Bay Street to Front Street near Harbourfront (where I once read) with my friend Nik from Regina. We admired the art-deco architecture of the Bay Street bank buildings and he introduced me to two of the more interesting bookstores I’ve ever been in – Ben McNally Books on Bay, and Nicholas Hoare on Front. I’ll be going back to both as soon as my ship comes in. (The stores are handily located near the waterfront, so it won’t take me long to get there from the ship.)

Art-deco entranceway, 320 Bay Street

I have managed to get myself to all these places by subway and trolley bus, almost without a hitch. (I do have to stop and orient myself sometimes before I can proceed.) I love the transit system here.

You say tomato and I say tomato

Here is a list of a few more things I have found unfamiliar in Toronto. I don’t know whether the unfamiliarity is because I have been living in western Canada for so long, or because I have been living in smaller-than-Toronto cities for so long, or because Toronto just has its own way of doing things (and therefore these things would be unfamiliar even if I came from Montréal), but:

  • Rather than parking meters, one per car, there are ticket dispensers, usually one per block, where a person buys a ticket for a given length of time to place on the dashboard, like in a parking lot;
  • There are little apron-sized parks, maybe a quarter of a city block square, that are called “parkettes” and are named after people or things;
  • I hear people on the street say the word “fuck” far less often than I do out west;
  • (on the other hand) I hear many more drivers telling other drivers to smarten up by blasting their car horns at them;
  • There are more hybrid cars here, I think, than there are in Edmonton or Saskatoon (or in New York, for that matter).  I often notice that there is a lot of traffic, but hardly any car noise;
  • Lesser streets meet major streets in a staggered fashion. The stoplights are usually at the bigger intersections, and the only crosswalks are there too, so often one needs to walk at least four blocks to legally cross a major street. This creates interesting strategy problems when it comes to choosing how to hit specific stores on a shopping excursion without walking miles farther than necessary;
  • There is one major intersection somewhere (I can’t remember where I saw it) where all the lights turn red at once, so pedestrians can cross in any direction—including diagonally—at the same time;
  • Liquor stores are still run by the government, and so is the place where you have to go to get a driver’s license, a new health-care card, or other documentation from the province. Good old Ralph Klein really spoiled us Albertans in this area with all his privatization: the wait to apply for an Ontario driver’s license was  2.5 hours the day that I went to the Ontario Services office near Bloor and College (and that was during a strike by people who do the road tests which would,  I think, have reduced the number of people waiting in line considerably from the norm).

Speaking of that application…  as of earlier this week, I have an Ontario driver’s license! I must, therefore, be an Ontarioan. An Ontarioite? A Torontonian, at least. But until I stop noticing the strange things that happen here (and appreciating the weather) I won’t really be a Torontonian.

In the meantime, I’m happy to report that the people here are much friendlier and warmer than most people who live in Western Canada think they are.

Don’t forget the can-opener, and carry your umbrella

Post #17

Why would anyone bring 25 bottles of nail polish with her to Toronto, but leave her can-opener and every single knife, fork and spoon she owns in a storage unit in Saskatoon?

My "I need it now!" belongings arrive from Saskatoon

This is just one of the many odd decisions that have come to light as I was unpacking all the boxes and suitcases I’ve been schlepping around with me for a month. But I have done it—unpacked and stowed it all.

Almost everything survived the Greyhound shipment from Saskatoon to Edmonton and the subsequent shipment from Edmonton to Toronto in good order—with the possible exception of the boxes themselves, which arrived in coherent but poor condition. I have the feeling that if they had been transferred between vehicles one more time, they would have fallen to pieces and my belongings would have been strewn everywhere.

I would recommend to anyone who wants to ship by Greyhound that they eschew cardboard in favour of something sturdier, like large Rubbermaid containers. Also, they should take into account during the packing phase that some of the items are likely to arrive upside down. But in general, I was most satisfied with the condition in which my goods arrived: only one item was actually damaged, and that was an umbrella that apparently came unsprung during the trip—its handle emerging through the corner of one of the cardboard boxes where it was exposed to the vicissitudes of life in the fast lane.

The busted brolly

In short, I highly recommend Greyhound—to the point where, with the cost of taking luggage onto airplanes, particularly in the U.S., I would even give serious consideration to shipping some of my belongings by Greyhound if I were going on an extended vacation.  (As long as I could be sure the luggage would arrive before I was leaving for home again. But that can be a problem with luggage that goes with you by air as well.)

My New Apartment

The apartment I selected (and to which I have now signed a one-year lease, as is fairly standard around here) is near Yonge St., about a kilometre from Eglinton. A friend from Toronto tells me that the nickname of this part of town is “Yonge and Eligible,” and there are certainly lots of young, well dressed and attractive people living in this area, but “Yonglinton” seems easier to say so I am going with that.

The rent in this apartment is sort-of equivalent to what I paid for a similar-sized space in Saskatoon — when you take into consideration that there utilities were extra and here they are included. This place also offers a microwave in addition to the dishwasher and air conditioner (the latter of which works, I hope, unlike the one in Saskatoon). On the other hand, I have no storage to speak of. (Mind you, at the moment I have nothing to store, so it is fine.) There is also no parking. But I don’t have a car.

Sleeping quarters with no bugs

You may be amused to know that one of my considerations for taking this apartment was that it did not appear on The Bedbug Registry. Bedbugs are a big issue here in Toronto, as they are in apartments and hotels in other parts of North America, particularly in the east, and I’ve seen more than one mattress sitting on the sidewalk out front of a Toronto apartment building waiting for the garbage truck.

Seating area

Positive features of this neighbourhood include lots of small (and several chain) shops, grocery stores, produce outlets, flower shops, ethnic, funky and classy restaurants and a lot of movie theatres. I had the best piece of pizza I have ever tasted (maybe I was just really really hungry. It was pesto pizza. It was great) at a tiny Italian place just around the corner from here, and the next day bought olive oil, balsamic vinegar and grapeseed oil at another Italian take-out. In the past two weeks, I’ve eaten at one of several Thai restaurants in the neighbourhood and demolished an outstanding burger and a great curried-chicken wrap. (It is lovely to have no groceries, cutlery or can opener for several days, but the party’s over now. Speaking of parties, I also enjoyed a cupcake, chocolate icing on chocolate cake, for my birthday, from a cupcake store. There is also a chocolate shop which I’ve been avoiding, and a tea store that I am looking forward to visiting.) I have shopped at a place that sells boxes and trays and hangers to help get you organized, a kitchen shop, a bath and bedding shop, and I even bought a shirt and skirt, on sale. I’ve also done a lot of window shopping: a person with a lot of money could have a very good time here.

On Monday, after I had picked up the key to my new apartment, I rented a car for 24 hours and went downtown to the Greyhound express courier station on Front St., and collected my packages and luggage. Then I tried to think of all the other things I should do while I had a car, and to get as much of it done as possible. That included some shopping at Canadian Tire and Future Shop, and retrieving the luggage I had been using while I was at my friend Pat’s house. (We had a lovely farewell supper at her table, attended as always by about four of her six cats. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my camera at that point.)

The Dining Area

The days since are a bit of a blur but I’ve nearly walked my feet off getting all the things I needed to get in order to subsist until I can figure out how best to get my stored belongings here from Saskatoon and Edmonton. There is still lots to do, but I have the important stuff at last—a home phone number, a local cell number, high-speed internet and television (go, Riders!). I took the subway to Staples at Yonge and Marlborough to buy a table for my computer, then took a cab home. Then I did it again the next day because I liked the table so much I decided I wanted two! (I have now put the phone number to Beck Taxi into my iPhone so I don’t have to look it up again.)

One evening I walked 2.5 k to a Home Hardware to pick up cleaning supplies, and another day I walked back up to the dentist’s on Lawrence and Yonge for part II of my root canal. I’ve done several hikes for groceries. So I am really beginning to feel as though I belong in this area, and today I even got some work done on my novel, so I am also feeling inspired. I’ve also seen two movies—mainly just to take a break before the TV got hooked up.

Home Entertainment Centre

The work area: ready to go!

As you will see from the photos here, I am what could be described as “sparsely furnished” at the moment, but I have everything I need to resume work as a writer and editor, so I am good to go.  In a few days, I will write a post about the places I’ve been outside this neighbourhood (no moss on me!) and a few more differences I’ve observed between Toronto and the West. I’m classifying this as a “during the move” post because I still don’t have the furniture, books, etc. that would allow me to consider myself completely “moved.” But I’m on track and feeling optimistic.

CN Tower in the mi(d)st

In which Mary is grateful for a pair of good shoes

Post #16

Today I went to drop off an application to rent an apartment. The apartment itself is near to where I am staying now, but the rental-management company’s office is closer to downtown; it is, according to Google maps, 6.3 kilometres from here. It was a lovely day for a walk and I decided that I could use the exercise — and that by walking, I would gain a better sense of at least a small portion of my new city. There was no way I could get lost (even if I hadn’t had the Maps app on my iPhone, which I do): from the house where I’ve been staying, a few blocks north of Eglinton, I simply needed to walk straight down Yonge Street to a few blocks south of Bloor, then turn east for three blocks. Simple.

I planned that after I dropped off my application, I would stop for a coffee, Google some information about the transit system, and return home either by bus or subway.

Would-be transit users stranded at Bloor and Yonge.

I enjoyed my stroll, which took just over an hour. I noticed lots of stores and restaurants and a library I intend to investigate more fully when I have more time—not to mention the scenic expanses of Mount Pleasant Cemetery (“We have lots of vacancies!” the sign outside announces) which clearly merits an investigation of its own some day.

When I got to Yonge and Bloor, however, I began to suspect that my return trip might be more complicated than I’d hoped. I could barely get past the subway station there because hundreds and hundreds of people were standing on the sidewalk and more were pouring out of the station (thousands, I learned later), being herded into line by TTC security and police. The streets out front were jammed with cars, buses, taxis, and television news trucks.

After I dropped off my application, I went to a Second Cup, where I checked the Toronto Star website.  The lead story told me that a private contractor had somehow damaged a tunnel near Bloor and Yonge and the subway line had been closed.

So I walked home again. I had lots and lots of company on the return trip – although most of the other pedestrians were on their cell phones trying to find someone they knew to come and save them from the enforced hike. The special “subway express” buses that had been pressed into service to help relieve the commuter congestion were packed, and cab drivers were taking on three or four fares with different destinations at a time. The happiest looking person I saw was a man with an electric scooter. Next happiest was a woman who was telling someone on her cell phone that she had decided she was “just going to walk. It’s a good day for a walk.” I agree with that approach under normal circumstances, but after 12.6 kilometres (most of the return trip of which was uphill) today, I am planning no expeditions for tomorrow.

Welcome to the big city, Mary.

The cultural/social differences between prairie Canada and Toronto continue to present themselves: albeit subtly. Yesterday, after I’d had Part One of an emergency root canal, I decided to get a frappuccino for a late lunch. I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I knew it was going to be hours before the freezing came out of my face enough that I could eat anything that required chewing. But when I placed my order at Starbucks, the barista looked astonished. She said to me, “You do know you have ordered a frozen coffee, right?” I assured her that I did know what I’d ordered. It wasn’t until I heard a few people complaining about the cold weather (I think it had gone all the way down to zero, but it was sunny) that I realized why she had asked me: I guess Torontonians don’t often order frozen coffees in November. I’ll have to be careful not to make myself stand out from the crowd in future.

Also in Toronto, as compared to Edmonton and Saskatoon, there are:

  • Many many more tailors, which makes sense because there are also
  • Many many more people who are perfectly tailored!

There are also

  • Fewer people who are overweight
  • More people who honk their horns at other drivers and
  • Many more people carrying cases containing violins, cellos and other musical instruments (unless they contain machine guns, of course. I didn’t think to ask).

My First Two Days in Toronto

Post #15

Mere hours after I had landed, my host and I were out walking through a balmy (for November) Toronto evening along Yonge Street near Eglinton – an area where I immediately felt at home. By the time we had returned to her house, I had started a list of apartments in the area with “for rent” signs; many of them are listed on or other similar websites, where there are photos and some general information you can look at before calling for the details.


The back garden of my host

Since there are so many sources of listings of apartments here, and all of them seem to divide up the city in different ways, it can be frustrating to try to figure out which apartments are in the part of town you are interested in living in unless you know the names of all the streets in the area – and the various names by which their neighbourhoods may be known.

The easiest way to find an apartment is to walk around and take pictures of the ones you like and jot down notes about them. Yesterday I took a couple of hours to do that – it allowed me a lovely stroll through well-treed old neighbourhoods. The temperature went to 13 (55F) yesterday so I was really too warm in my all-weather coat.

It is reassuring to see that there are quite a few apartments for rent. Some of them are well beyond my reach, of course, but some are manageable. It has been my hope to find a two-bedroom apartment in which I would use the second bedroom as a den and guest room, but last night I considered that perhaps I was being silly: I can make do with a one-bedroom for now, and conserve a little money every month. So I am open to renting either a one- or two-bedroom at this point, and it will come down to what’s available at what cost, what utilities need to be added on each month, the availability of laundry facilities on-site, and whether or not there is air-conditioning.

When I arrived at the Toronto airport on Saturday night I thought how much of a different feeling I would have had if I’d been arriving from Sri Lanka, Kurdistan or Hong Kong to start a new life here. But it still seemed pretty momentous. I have moments of great misgiving about what I am trying to do, but this is familiar territory to me and I am sure that I am doing the right thing for me, and that gives me confidence. So far the only “cultural” differences I’ve noticed between here and western Canada are that the taxi driver assumed I’d sit in the backseat rather than the front, which I prefer anyway, and (unlike in Saskatoon but similar to Edmonton) drivers actually come to a stop when there is a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

My host has been more than kind – and I’ve already booked an appointment with her dentist for the tooth that broke last Thursday and has been nagging at my tongue ever since. She has fed me, given me a comfortable bed to sleep in, and driven me all over this part of Toronto so I can orient myself. I am very fortunate to have been taken in by such a kind and helpful person!

I’m in the air!

Post # 14

Days to departure from Western Canada = 0


Descent into Toronto

This is it! Today I am flying on WestJet from Edmonton to Toronto, a 3.5 hour flight during which I lose two hours. I am writing this on the plane and so far it’s a smooth, smooth flight.

The adventure is about to begin in earnest!

The best part about the actual moving part of a move is that the time pressure is off. I want to find an apartment in Toronto by December 1, but if I don’t find it until January 1, it is not the end of the world (thanks to my friend Pat who is allowing me to camp out in her basement suite for as long as I need to!)

The 13 boxes and suitcases full of stuff that I shipped by Greyhound from Saskatoon to Edmonton, where I have had them with me these past two weeks (thanks, Bev and Phil, for putting up with me and them!), and have now shipped to Toronto, should arrive mid-week, and then I will have the basic requirements for survival until I am able to send for (or go and get) the rest of my books, furniture, clothes, etc. from the storage unit in Saskatoon.

For the first time in about two months, at the moment I have no urgent deadlines (I even managed to get two freelance jobs done on time, one in Calgary and one in Edmonton—both for clients in Saskatoon), and the relief is enormous. All my responsibilities have momentarily been attended to, all my goodbyes have been said. I feel as though once again I can start thinking about the future. And the future is looking good.

I will continue to post my thoughts here, more regularly I hope now that I have some time, and will let you know my impressions of Toronto. At the moment I am consciously aware of the fact that I am returning to the province where I lived from age 2 to age 15, but I have no idea what that means emotionally, financially, creatively or in any other way. It will be an interesting exploration.


The landing

I am not, however, concerned about feeling isolated: aside from the many friends who have assured me they will be coming to  visit me before I know it (including those Edmontonians – ahem! — who said they would come to visit me in Saskatoon, but never did; they insist that Toronto is “different”), several friends who live in the Toronto area want me to get in touch with them soon, and two friends (including one I ran into at the airport in Edmonton today!) have trips to Toronto already scheduled in the next month! Solitude is not likely to be an issue.

Some Moving Tips

On a more practical note, I have a few tips to share with any of you who are planning moves. They are totally unrelated to one another for the most part, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list – just thoughts that occurred to me during the past few weeks where I thought others might benefit from my experiences:

  1. Avoid scheduling a move for a Monday. Aside from the fact that the movers’ truck might not work on a Monday morning (which the one scheduled for my move did not), in the final hours before your move, you are likely to think of at least one and possibly several administrative things you need to do before your move. These might include, for example, getting your household insurance transferred to your new location, returning equipment to your phone company, acquiring more boxes, finding an auctioneer at the last minute or taking household items to a Salvation Army store. These are all chores where, depending on the town or city where you live, you may have problems getting business done on a Sunday–or even a Saturday;
  2. To prevent the loss of those little pegs that hold up the shelves in your book cases during moves, put them into a Ziplock plastic baggie and tape the baggie to the top of the bookcases or a horizontal surface on the inside—like a non-removable shelf.
  3. When listing the contents of boxes, mark the room (e.g., office, master bedroom) where the boxes should go as well as what’s in them (thanks, Merna), and be as specific as possible (without calling too much attention to particularly valuable items) so that you can find things when you need them at the other end. E.g., if you toss the coffee grinder into a box of Christmas decorations, mention the grinder on the outside of the box—or,  unless you moved on December 1, you are guaranteed to end up buying a new one (thanks, Gordon);
  4. Acquire more than one black thick felt-tipped pen for marking boxes (and a finer-tipped one for making lists of box contents. I used big label stickers for this) because if you only have one it will disappear in the uproar several times an hour;
  5. Eat. On two days of my move, I didn’t get food into me until about 4 p.m. This does not pan out well when you are also likely to get increasingly edgy as the day wears on and you become more and more convinced that you are never going to meet your deadlines;
  6. Look carefully around all the floors and check every rug before you leave. I am missing one diamond stud earring. I am sure that by now it has been sucked up into some steam-cleaning machine and is gone forever.  This is (as far as I know) the only major Unfortunate Incident associated with my move. My one remaining hope is that I vacuumed it up myself and when I am reunited with my vacuum cleaner, i will rip the bag apart with fingers crossed.

In (sic) glorious transit (Part 2)

Post # 13

Days to departure from Western Canada = 4

…continued from Post #12

Monday night/Tuesday morning, Oct. 25/26

Heading down the home stretch before my departure from Saskatoon, my primary accomplishment – as it had been throughout the moving process, it now seems in retrospect—was to whittle down the list of things I hoped to do until I got to the list of things I was actually able to do. (The list-making went on in my head as I worked: there was no time to make actual lists. :))

My goal with what remained after I had shifted most of my belongings to storage was to separate the wheat from the chaff. I had hoped to sort out what I didn’t need from what I did, throwing out such things as bottles of dried old nailpolish, leftover skeins of wool, account files that Revenue Canada no longer required me to keep, etc, etc. But sorting takes time and after the several family crises and moments of joy and farewell visits that had consumed my attention over the previous week or so, I simply didn’t have enough of it to do all that needed to be done.

1718As a result, the sorting I managed to do mainly consisted of trying to separate the things I’d need while I was in Alberta for two weeks and a bit, before the final move to Toronto, from the things I wouldn’t need until I got to Toronto. Even this attempt was only partially successful. Despite working on Monday evening until 2 or 3 a.m. and a resumption of activity at 6 a.m., by the time my apartment manager came to do the damage inspection at 9:00, I was throwing everything into boxes and suitcases willy-nilly. Since the manager stayed around to see if she could help until I left, I was distracted, and at the end I just filled and taped, filled and taped until everything was packed. Half of those boxes went unlabeled.

Finally at about 9:45 a.m., I told Maureen (the apartment manager) that I was either going to miss my plane and clean the oven and the fridge, or I was going to leave those things undone and she could deduct the costs of cleaning the two appliances from my damage deposit. She seemed to understand completely. She even looked a bit worried at what I still had to do before I caught the plane, and kindly offered to take the equipment from SakTel back to the store for me. I am eternally grateful for that, because I never would have made it if I’d had to go to the SaskTel store on top of everything else.

As it was, I still very nearly didn’t make it.

Ultimately I loaded fifteen boxes and suitcases, the vacuum cleaner and various odds and ends into the rented car—filling  nearly1714 every single square inch of space to the point where I could see very little road behind me because of all the luggage jammed against both rear windows and nearly up to to the interior roof light. My seat was so close to the steering wheel–allowing a suitcase to be jammed between the back of the front seat and the front of the back seat–that I could barely move my feet around enough to hit the gas and brake.

My first stop after leaving the apartment (forever, although I didn’t have time to absorb that information then) was the Greyhound station, where I addressed thirteen of the boxes and bags to myself in Edmonton, handed over $145, and breathed my first real sigh of relief.

The next stop was the storage unit in Saskatoon, where I left the vacuum cleaner, the pail (I brought the damp and dirty rags with me to Edmonton to wash) and a couple of boxes of things I’d neglected to send with the movers.

Next I drove to a gas station and filled up the rented car with gas. Then I drove the car to the airport, handed the keys to the staff at the Enterprise desk, took my suitcases to the WestJet counter, and picked up a boarding pass. I got myself and my backpack through security (fortunately, unlike on one previous trip, I’d remembered to pack the box cutter somewhere besides in my carry-on luggage), and walked up the stairs to the appointed gate–where my plane had already started boarding. I walked directly onto the plane, and sat down in my seat. For the next hour I simply marveled at the fact that I was on the plane.

I am looking forward to a similar time for reflection after I board the plane for Toronto on Saturday: I have barely had time to think about being a non-Saskatchewanian since I left that province two weeks ago, much less to consider that my adventure in Toronto is about to begin in earnest.

But it is!

In [sic] glorious transit (Part 1)

Post # 12

Days to departure from Saskatoon = minus 6! (below and to the right is a photo of the main reason why I did not post this update sooner Library - 1720: my first grandbaby, whom I am now visiting in Calgary is an attention grabber, to say the least.)

Days to departure from Western Canada = 12

Wow! I am no longer a resident of Saskatoon.

“Incredulous” is the only word that comes close to describing how I felt last Tuesday at noon when I walked onto the plane for Edmonton as scheduled. I cannot begin to count the number of times prior to that moment that I was absolutely certain I would never make any of the deadlines I had set for myself.

Here is how the final days of the move unfolded (fell apart) —

On Sunday, October 25, my state of mind went back and forth from energy-fuelled elation to despair. Depending on the hour, I was either certain that I would get everything into boxes before the movers arrived at 8 a.m. the next day, or sure that I could never finish, not even if I stayed up all night.

At about five p.m., my friends Mari-Lou and Albert dropped in. Mari-Lou looked around at the disarray in my apartment, took in my crestfallen expression, and then asked me a question that helped immeasurably.

She said,  “How much stuff do you actually still need to pack before the movers get here?”

Her question made me realize that until then, I had been trying to pack for two moves all at once. The first move, the one that would take place on Monday morning, was from the apartment to the storage unit. The other involved the belongings I would need immediately when I arrived in Toronto. That second part of the packing job didn’t need to be done until Tuesday.

Library - 1711

Sunday evening

So after Mari-Lou and Albert left (having offered to help with the packing, an offer I declined with thanks because no one could sort out the mess but me ), I went for a farewell bowl of noodles at the Nutana Café and then, reinvigorated, started shifting everything I would need immediately in Toronto (my computer, clothes, something to sleep on, linen, cosmetics, a few books, financial and work files, etc etc) into my bedroom. That left me with only what I needed to pack to move to the storage unit.

And there was still a lot to pack….

At about 2 a.m. I quit and went to bed, still completely uncertain I would  get it done on time. I planned to get up at 6, but I woke at 5:30 and started packing again right away. Fortunately the movers were an hour late, and an hour or so after they did arrive, I ran out of boxes. By then, I was almost finished packing the stuff for storage, so I put away the packing tape and marking pens, loaded a few paintings into my rented car, and started making all the phone calls I should have made on Friday if I hadn’t been too busy that day to remember that there were no business days left between me and the move.

The first place I needed to phone was an auction house. Since I had not received any inquiries in response to my furniture ads on Kikiji, and I was determined not to move furniture I didn’t want to Toronto, I’d decided to try to put these items up for auction. On the basis of an ad in the Yellow Pages, which made me think the company didn’t deal in junk but also wasn’t too exclusive or specialized for my furniture, I called McDougall Auctions. The owner, Terry McDougall, was very helpful, friendly, and sympathetic. Although he doesn’t normally do household auctions he agreed to take my couch, table, chairs and lamp and a few small other things, and to put them up for sale in a couple of weeks when he has some appropriate other items to auction.

The next item on my list was to cancel my internet connection and tv. Attempting to make contact with SaskTel of course led to half a dozen decisions about which buttons to push (why is there never any “back up one step” option?), followed by the usual wait and wait on hold for a customer service representative (who would “be right with [me]” according to a recorded voice I’ve come to know in the past four years better than I do the voices of many of my relatives). This (again as usual) was followed by great confusion at the SaskTel end because I no longer had a phone with them (VOIP is cheaper, folks), which meant that they didn’t know how to look up my account. I finally managed to get the service cancellation sorted out, but was then informed that I would need to come, in person, to the SaskTel store downtown — no other location would do — to return their equipment to them.

Library - 1715

Sunday evening

Thank you very much, SaskTel. I will not miss you even for a second.

I had intended also to call the utility company to get the power doused on Tuesday afternoon, and to phone my health insurance and tenant policy carriers, but by the time I was finished with SaskTel, the movers were ready to depart.

After a stop at the auction house to unload the items to be sold, we went to the storage unit, and the two young men unloaded my belongings there in short order. (I was very impressed with the efficiency of Saskatoon Movers, and recommend them. The one-hour delay was caused by a broken-down truck, and not their delinquency, and everything else went smoothly.) While I was waiting in the car for the movers to finish, I managed to find City of Saskatoon utilities on my iPhone’s internet, and cancelled my power effective the following day.

After the movers were finished, I had a few errands to run:

  • I took my aunt’s watercolour paintings to a shipper (Pack and Ship – they were recommended by a framing company I’d done business with previously) to send to my son and my cousin. We don’t want those valuable works of art spending time in an unheated storage unit
  • I got more boxes and more packing tape
  • I dropped off clothes and some household items I no longer wanted at Goodwill.
  • I went to my insurance company office, and got the storage unit added to the coverage on my tenant policy. (After I get to Toronto, I will have thirty days to find a new insurance company for my belongings–including those still in the storage unit in Saskatoon)
  • While I was at the insurance company office (where a  huge fish tank had just cracked apart along a seam, spilling gallons of water all over the rug, which added to the  feeling of unreality of the day. And no, I was not the only one to ask them if they had insurance), I realized that my driver’s license was about to expire. I didn’t want to have to get an Ontario license as soon as I arrived there, so I decided to renew in Saskatchewan so I would be valid until I had time to sort things out post-move.  Unfortunately this required a photo. So my new driver’s license photo features me mid-move, sweaty and wearing grubby clothes. I couldn’t find a hairbrush in my backpack, although it contained everything else but the kitchen sink. (It’ll probably turn out to be the best driver’s license photo I’ve ever had.)

I finally got home at about 4:30 and had a quick shower before going out to dinner—which turned out to be a feast—prepared by the aforementioned Mari-Lou in honour of my departure and a forthcoming natal day.  Rejuvenated (a little) I went home to tackle the final phase of the packing, the cleaning of the apartment, and a host of other odds and ends that needed to be done before my plane for Edmonton left at noon the next day.

(to be continued)