O, Canada!: Updates from Up North

We’re almost at the one-month mark of being temporary residents of our northern neighbor and so far, so good.  Elliot’s been busy at work with one-to-one meetings with his team, but he’s liking his new role. I’ve been keeping busy (see below), and we’re both discovering all sorts of things about our new home.  It’s high time I posted an update, so you’re welcome, eh?

Welcome to Canada!

Ain't nuthin but a chicken wing

Ain’t nuthin but a chicken wing thing

Every person we’ve met, when they learn we’re from the States, enthusiastically says, “Welcome to Canada!” And you know what? I think they really mean it.  We applied for NEXUS cards so we can travel easily to and from the States and, like TSA pre-check and the Global Entry program, we had to be interviewed.  The earliest interview slot for the nearby Toronto Pearson airport wasn’t until mid-December, so we drove down to Fort Erie near Buffalo for our interviews last weekend.  Going grocery shopping at Wegmans and getting wings in Buffalo were also factors in this decision.

For NEXUS, you have to be interviewed by both US and Canadian border patrol agents and complete country specific identification checks (e.g. iris scan for Canada).  The Canadian border patrol agent actually said, “We’re happy to have you” and offered her advice on the best coffee in Canada.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t Tim Horton’s…..it was McDonald’s.  A few weeks prior, the head mover delivering our household stuff said the same thing, although he had suspicions that McDonald’s was using Tim Horton’s old recipe.  He asked Elliot to try to get to the bottom of that scandal.  I’m sure that’s at the top of his to-do list.

While we were greeted with cheerfulness and coffee rec’s by the Canadian border gal, we got nothing but “Why are you here?” and annoyed sighs from the US agent.  When she asked me to confirm my address, I told her that we moved into a new house and had brought the signed lease in case she needed to see it.  She stared blinking at me for what felt like forever.  You’d think I’d just told her that we lived in a house made of skulls.  Finally, after what seemed like 20 minutes but in reality was like five seconds, she let out a loud annoyed sigh and asked for the new address.  You win this round, Canada.*

*To be fair, the next US border agent was super sweet and even told me I reminded her of Elsa Pataky.  You know, THOR’S WIFE.  I don’t see it, but hey, I’ll take it.  Besides, Elliot’s way studlier than Thor.

We have a lot of stuff

Our moving situation was unique to say the least.  We got the keys to our semi-detached house on November 1st, and movers with our Chicago storage stuff (that’s been in there for two years, mind you) came the same day.  Our sea shipment from London arrived the next day, and then we had to move our air shipment and bags over from the temporary place.  Our floors were literally covered in boxes, and there was so much wrapping paper (like to wrap items for moving, not decorative wrapping paper) around that I could have Scrooge McDuck’ed into it.

Because it’s been two years since seeing two-thirds of our belongings, Elliot and I had completely forgotten about most things we owned.  It was like Christmas, and the crockpot and I were happily reunited.  It was also a “come to Jesus moment” as Elliot and I realized that we own way too much crap. “Oh…. ANOTHER crockpot” ::said after already unwrapping two::  We’ve got a hefty pile of things to donate, so at least they’ll be going towards a good cause.

Twenty days, fifteen leg bruises, and one broken toe after moving in, the house is completely unpacked, the empty boxes have been collected, and the art is on the walls.  Given our travels, we have a ridiculous amount of framed posters, making our house looks more like a gallery. “And this is the French room”  No, really, we have a room that’s all French-themed posters.  Sacre bleu!

Looking for work

At first, it was super convenient to not yet be working as I was able to spend the days getting the house order.  Now that that’s been sorted, I’m starting to get antsy.  Still I persist, and hopefully some place throws me a bone.  Elliot’s ready for me to work/have regular human interaction, because the second I hear him come home from work I’m like:

via GIPHY

Unless I’m bingeing on a full season of Mindhunter, I’m not a big fan of sitting around at home, so I’ve been finding random ways to keep busy.  I signed up to be a Salvation Army Christmas kettle bell-ringer, riding the tram through the city (no car yet), explored different neighborhood coffee shops, and have raked and bagged leaves in our yard twice now.  Yesterday’s adventure was using a Magic Eraser to get the scuff marks out of the wall, and today I went to multiple Italian delis in search of our pasta sauce.  I don’t have a dealer yet, so gotta shine a Batman-style tomato signal into the sky and hope some masked Italian shows up with the goods.  Sigh.  I need a job…

Waiting for Sean and Bell Mobile and the door guy and the electrical guy and…

The owners insisted that we had to move in November first, but we quickly saw that there were things that still hadn’t been finished in the house.  Our building was apparently a group home for schizophrenics until a few years ago, and the current owner completely renovated it and divided it into two units.  The positive thing is that everything in the house is brand new.  The downside is that everything is brand new, so things haven’t yet been completed.  Much like my experience in Spain waiting for Paco, I’ve had to wait at home multiple days for contractors to put the finishing touches on the place.  Annoying when you want to get out and explore your new surroundings.  The house is pretty great though, not gonna lie.  Once we donate our stuff, I’ll post some pics.

All’s good in the new ‘hood, but crime doesn’t pay

We love our new neighborhood, Leslieville.  It’s diverse, multicultural, has a ton of fun restaurants and shops, is easily accessible to downtown, and everyone is so damn nice.  The other night, I was leaving the house, and two older gentlemen who’ve lived in the neighborhood for 38 years introduced themselves.  They kept saying that we would love the neighborhood, and that they were one house down if we needed anything.  A few days later, one of them rang our bell and told me how the city garbage collectors almost didn’t take our trash because we had the wrong bin.  He told them that we had just moved in (true) and had ordered a bin (not true) so they would take our garbage.  That NEVER would have happened in London or Chicago.  I’m not saying our neighbors there were assholes; we just didn’t have much interaction with them.  In London, there was a couple who lived above us in the same 90% commercially-occupied building.  It was just us and them, and we STILL never spoke a word to each other, even when they were sitting on the step next to our basement flat entrance.  I don’t even think we made eye contact, so them going out of their way to get our trash collected wouldn’t have ever happened.

Some monsters don't hide under the bed

Some monsters don’t hide under the bed

There IS a dark side to Leslieville though.  The other day, I passed a sign that was on my neighbor’s fence that warned of the “Leslieville Garden Thief”.  There were surveillance camera stills of some middle-aged woman stealing potted plants from yards and leaving behind cigarette butts.  In London, we had to worry about the spate of acid attacks in our neighborhood.  In Toronto, they give monikers to gnome bandits.

Anyway, not too much else going on here.  Thursday is Thanksgiving, but not CANADIAN Thanksgiving so not a holiday here.  We’re still making a turkey dinner and will do our best to feel festive.  Other than that, we’ll continue exploring our new home and prep ourselves for our first Canadian winter.  Until then, we’ll be keeping a close eye on our back yard….

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