Tag Archives: packing

Countdown to 3 a.m. departure

Cuba: Day 1 Minus 1

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 5.28.26 PMOur house is in a state of disarray as we pack suitcases and attempt to get all of those things organized that it is necessary to organize before one goes away for any length of time.

Our plane leaves at about 6:30 a.m. tomorrow, and the airline says we have to be at the airport three hours ahead of time – which seems ridiculous, but there you have it. So we will be leaving the house at 3 a.m., which means that we will be trying to get to sleep REALLY early tonight. And that in turn means that all the packing and sorting and checking of lists needs to be done before early evening. We’ll see how that goes, since it is almost early evening already and I haven’t packed anything yet.

Tomorrow we fly from Toronto to Varadero, Cuba, and then take a bus from the airport at Varadero to our hotel in Havana, where we are meeting with our group for dinner. Even though Havana is in the same time zone as we are here in Toronto, it is going to be a long day. But I am so excited that I probably won’t sleep at all tonight.

In preparation for this trip, in addition to the copious materials sent to us by our tour guides, I have read the introduction to the Lonely Planet travel guide to Cuba, and I am looking forward to reading the entries for our particular destinations as we approach them. Our trip will include stops in Bay of Pigs/Playa Girón, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Vinales and Havana, and will wind up with a couple of days at an all-inclusive in Varadero. I will post something about each place we see, but not necessarily as we go, as I understand that internet is iffy in Cuba, and that wireless internet is almost non-existent.

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 5.33.34 PMIn addition to the Lonely Planet book, I’m taking the Wallpaper City Guide to Havana, a gift from Arnie’s nephew Paul Resnick (thanks, Paul!). And as far as communicating while we are there, I’ve downloaded a Spanish-English dictionary onto my iPad and iPhone and I am hoping that this – combined with the past couple of months of refreshing my Spanish on Duolingo – will see us through.

In regard to Duolingo, I love the app/site and think I will take up German next. My biggest problem with Spanish (aside from being only about half way through the course now that it’s time to leave) is remembering vocabulary, and trying to change verbs to the past tense. But I can stumble along. I am looking forward to hearing Cuban Spanish, which is I’m sure much different from the Spanish I heard in Mexico and the southern U.S. – and to what I heard on Duolingo.

On my last day on Duolingo, I wrote this on Facebook: “I am now ready to go to Cuba. According to Duolingo, I can say ‘This car has no battery’ perfectly in Spanish.”

The next day I posted this  (utterly unrelated) thought:

I have been looking over my travel insurance in preparation for my trip to Cuba.  I am wondering why it is that if something really awful happens to you when you are out of the country and they have to ship the pieces of you back to Canada, they refer to the process as “repatriation.” The word makes me feel as though the insured, demised though she may be, is expected to rouse herself on arrival back in her home country at least to the point where she is able to salute.

So on that upbeat note, here we go.

Hasta luego.

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)

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

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.