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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Canadian Capers

"What are you doing in the elevator?"

The questioner was one of two arrogant-looking twentysomethings standing in the hallway of a 1924 Rochester apartment building. I had loaded my 'accompanying' goods into the ancient machine while waiting for my neighbour who was to drive me and Gizmo to Canada. He was late. Yoga session. Which would not have been a problem if it weren't for the pair trying to get me out of the cab.

"I don't see what gives YOU the right to use it," the blond whined.
"I'm moving and I announced this move several months ago."
"Well, I'm moving!"
"Well, I'm NOT moving until my neighbour gets here," I said, privately imagining a scenario that began with them trying to forcibly remove me and my things, and ended with my landing a punch on a snub nose. The blonds left.
The neighbours arrived. We manhandled the huge computer box, cat box, document box, spare pots, small suitcase, cat and me into the rented "time share car", a Honda Element SUV, if that is not an oxymoron. Its name was actually Eastman. This was somehow significant. One of the seats had to be removed to accomodate Mr. Computer and Mrs. Monitor. Damn computers anyway.

Somehow everything fit, just. Gizmo, dumped unceremoniously into her cat carrier, howled as I shoehorned her and me into the remaining back seat. The howls were repeated at hourly intervals on the way to Lewiston. Since there was nothing else I could do, I picked her up and held her so that she could see the drivers (her old friends) and some of the outdoors. She quieted for a while after each session.

"Don't you want to even see the cat's rabies certificate?" I asked the customs agents at Lewiston.
They showed no interest in any of my documents other than the work permit. They were surprised that I already had it. I'd gone to Buffalo to get it a few days earlier, to prevent standing in line with Gizmo at a border post and minimize the stress for her.
There was no line in Lewiston. In fact, there was only one other person asking for border clearance.
"Do you need to see my contract or lease or degrees?"
"No. You already have the work permit. Do you have a car following, or plan to bring one in the future?"
"Then get out. Welcome to Canada."

The moving truck with three tons of stuff cleared Customs in about five minutes a week later. The clerk said my papers were so well put together, she could find nothing to change.

The truck driver informed me that he deliberately chose that particular office since the clerks were generally pleasant. "Nine times out of ten you will get someone like that clerk. The tenth time will be a dragon. If I'd taken you to one of the other posts, there is a 90 per cent chance that your goods would have been impounded and gone over with a fine toothed comb."

The new apartment at Queen Mary Drive was a real change from the Rochester apartment in more ways than one. I formerly thought the closets were ill planned and located. They swallowed the books easily and will take the shelves that I have yet to build (once I get them out of their boxes.) The super and his wife and their grandson have been extremely helpful, even cat sitting for Gizmo when the movers came. They wanted to keep her too, but they had just bought a small Siamese kitten and Gizmo promptly slapped it upside the head. Once the two were kept separately, Gizmo was a neat and considerate house guest.

"She's part Siamese," they told me. And when the kitten mewed at me in Gizmo's voice, I believed them. This explains her 'talkativeness', her gutteral growls and occasional babylike wails, her high intelligence and slim figure (no pet owners are NOT all like our pets! I only wish I had Gizmo's build and turnout.)

Things are starting to change, though. I got a medical exam before leaving and the incredulous doctor told me that I'd lost ten pounds. "Get out of a job, get a new job, leave the country, pack up three tons of stuff," I suggested. I guess packing is sort of weightlifting with a reward.

The welcome has been great across the board. On June 7 I attended a party at the home of WE MOVE TO CANADA'S blogger and author Laura Kaminker and Allan Wood in Port Credit. The Oakville resident's association can count me as a member and I'll attend their picnic next weekend at Foster Park. I have been to Friends Meeting in Toronto and took in the "Woofstock" dog show afterward near the St. Lawrence Market, copping enough free food for Gizmo to keep her in cat chow til September.

The studio and printer will be set up today, and I have a little work to do with hooks and so on before the animation desk top can be attached to the metal shelving. The Mighty Wurlitzer will make an admirable control center for teaching materials.

And my boss has asked if I could do some extra work this July, so there may even be a little money coming in.

The three ceiling fans are working hard, but the heat hit 100 for two days (40 C) and I was actually about to knuckle under and get an AC when the most violent lightning storm I've seen in years broke and washed most of the yuck away. The humidity level rivaled Savannah's for a day or so.

Now that I have the bicycle (which fits neatly into the storeroom along with the shelves!) I plan to do some exploring. Watch this space.

Canada is a lovely country and I'm happy to be here. I was surprised to hear that some Americans do not like living here and go home after a while. Whatever for?
The most obvious difference I've noted is that people here are a lot more polite. Strangers say Hello to you in the street just the way they do in the American South. This is a custom that I enjoy.
And there is, how do I say it...less tension here. As if I crossed through a curtain of it when crossing the border, and now I'm on the other side. It's not Heaven, but it's what used to pass for normal.
Maybe I'm just reacting to not having to plan for the move. It's done. The unpacking will take most of the rest of June, but at least everything is here.

I'll try to post when things happen. Lots more will be happening here than in Rochester, that's for sure.


David said...

"The humidity level rivaled Savannah's for a day or so."

Ah, they didn't tell you about the summer weather in Oakville , eh ? ;-)

"Canada is a lovely country and I'm happy to be here. I was surprised to hear that some Americans do not like living here and go home after a while. "

I quite agree with you. I'm envious. I'd be happy to live there again if it's anything like I remember it.

Nancy said...

Yes, they did tell me it got pretty hot, but I really did NOT expect the humidity here to be like Savannah's. It's not the tropics here! Fortunately it's beautiful today with normal humidity, middling cool temperatures, and birds singing outside the windows. No more motorcycles running outside the windows at 2 AM!

Come visit if you are in the neighbourhood, eh? (I'm in Canada now so I have to talk like this.)

Floyd Norman said...

Damn kids. You should have beat them up.

Nancy said...

I wanted to be nice. It would not do to have a police record when trying to enter Canada! And besides, it was one more reason to be happy to leave Rochester.