Tag Archives: anniversary

A very Canadian Crime

When our car was shiny and new...

The crime scene - No weasels were harmed in the taking of this photo...

We’ve been very lucky as a family. None of the houses we’ve lived in have been burgled (or, if you’re North American or read tabloids “burglarised”. Sheesh.) In our last few months at the Wonkey House some drunk muppet ran off with a garden ornament that Mrs Dim had bought me for our Anniversary. It was a shame it was stolen (it was ceramic pig with wings, called Clothilde, since you asked) but at least we didn’t find the shattered pieces strewn across the road. Maybe it has a happy new home in someone else’s garden somewhere. A little later I neglected to lock the car one night and someone (maybe even the same person) took my phone charger and the road atlas. The atlas was two years old, which is probably why I found it thrown into the garden three houses down the road. The phone charger was so obscure that I found it almost impossible to buy another one. The salesman in the phone shop actually laughed when I told him what model phone I had. I’m not a trend setter with mobile technology.

  Anyway, this came to mind this morning when a neighbour knocked on our door and said my car door was open. Someone had rifled through the contents of the car and left the door ajar. I checked through the inside, and only the parking change was missing – maybe three dollars in total. They had left my bluetooth earpiece, all the cds, the ownership and insurance documents (including the very transferable and expensive sticker that goes on your license plates to show you’re insured. That’s a bit like someone breaking into a UK car that has a brand new Tax Disc without the car details filled in and not taking it. We are not talking about a criminal mastermind here.) But whoever it was had also gotten to at least two other cars along the street, and talking to the neighbours, there are suggestions that this may not have been the first time this particular opportunist has been down our way. But still, it’s only a little more aggressive than the guys on the street asking for your spare change. Considering what could have been taken (up to and including the car itself!) we got offpretty lightly. Almost a polite crime. Very Canadian.

Stil, it’s made me a little more nervous about going away for a week, but everyone is going to be vigilant now, and we did call the RCMP in to have a look round. I’m taking backups of all my important files away with me just in case. Our friends across the street were saying that this was their first ‘first hand’ experience of any type of crime since moving in here three years ago. That’s not a bad record, considering the reputation Vancouver in general has for Cannabis production and usage. I can’t help thinking that last night’s thief could’ve made more cash by going through the bins and handing in the recyclables to Return-It, but maybe he didn’t fancy the walk there.

It’ll be a shame if one of our final memories of living here is a sour one, so I’m hoping our last couple of days will include some neighbourly fun and beer drinking amongst the frantic packing. In fact, we might have to arrange it, just to make sure.

Almost an anniversary

The Tiny Weasels on Arrival Day

The Tiny Weasels Pose, reluctantly, in Vancouver airport

There are still four more days until we reach the one year point, but I’m aware that time is flying at the moment and we’ve already booked a restaurant for that evening – the first place we ate in, as it happens, a lovely place called Milestones on English Bay. It’s part of a chain of eateries, but each one is quite distinct, and this one was our favourite.

I’ve been thinking, on and off, about what I feel about living in Canada. There are still moments of amazement, when the fact that we live so far from family come home to us. There are still days when I worry about driving on the wrong side of the road. Come to think of it, there are still days when I get in the car and wonder where the steering wheel is…

Were there any things I thought I would never get used to? Seeing mountains. When I arrive for work, if the day is clear, I can see mountains on almost every part of the horizon. The reason I can’t see mountains behind me where I park is because the skytrain track loops around the store there, and that’s an amazing view in it’s own right. When I was a kid I used to read “2000ad” and the futuristic city of Mega City One had raised roads that curled and swooped through the cityscape. That’s what I think of when I see the Skytrain.

I still convert currency in my head. Most of the times it’s to reassure myself. I look at new books on sale and think “$30! My God!” and then think, “No, wait, that’s about eighteen quid…Fair enough.” I was surprised when I converted the price of our new house though. Surprised, then ashamed. I will not speak of it.

Some things still strike me as odd though. In the UK I made lasagne, using mince, pasta sheets and two sauces. The red sauce I made from scratch, the white I got out of a jar. Over here they don’t seem to have those jars. I can get pretty much any type of pasta sauce I want, except that white sauce. Last week I made the white sauce from scratch too, and it was brilliant, but it does mean more washing up.

Laundry is great here. In the UK, we didn’t have a tumble drier. Well, we had one once,but we were too eco-conscious to use it much. And it broke down. Over here there was already a huge washer and drier lurking down in the laundry area of the basement. No guilt attached, they’re already here, use ’em! Did you know that when you wash socks and dry them in a tumble drier, they come out soft? Actually soft! My socks used to retain the shape of the radiator….

Hmm. That’s something I haven’t got the hang of. There are vents in the floor of this house that should produce heat when it’s cold. They’re supposed to be controlled by the tiny LCD screen on the wall over there *Dim points*. Mostly I don’t touch it, because I don’t understand it, but on occasion I stare at it in frustration. It can get quite cold here. Then I have another cup of coffee, because I CAN work the coffee machine, which is something else I love about here. The instant coffee is dreadful, but I’ve got the hang of setting the machine before I walk the weasels to school and when I get home, there’s a jug of fresh coffee waiting for me. And it stays hot for two hours! Coffee is a big deal over here. I used to see people carrying take out coffee cups on their way to school and wonder where they had picked them up. Later I realised they might have gone out for coffee and come back to do the school run. I still get surprised to see people walking into the store where I work carrying Starbucks cups. Mind you, I only learned the other day that pets are allowed. Who takes their dog to go shopping for home improvement materials? Well, quite a few people, as it turns out.

I’ve nearly got used to hearing Eldest Weasel’s Canadian accent when she talks to her friends, because it upsets her if we wince. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing Tiniest Weasel gliding around on ice skates. She’s only just turned six! All three weasels have proved themselves adept at the winter sports, taking to ice skating, skiing and sledging like they were born to it.

It’s funny, reaching March and starting to recognise some of the things we saw fresh when we arrived. There’s a regular promotion in Tim Horton’s (a coffee shop chain), where you roll up the rim of your coffee cup to see if you’ve won a prize. That’s just come round again. It’s tax time here too, with many reminders going out for folks to get advice, download free software and so on. I’m in negotiation with the Inland Revenue, since in the midst of the excitement of moving I missed my last self-assessment. Yes, I owe the Inland Revenue a fine (if I’ve made a profit on writing in 08/09) but it’s now in the hands of the accountant we’ve finally sorted. He has a lot to cope with, what with royalties going into the UK bank account, Mrs Dim’s Military Pension, and both sets of Canadian wages being paid over here….

But one whole year. That’s pretty immense, any way you slice it. We arrived here in the middle of the night, relieved to get through Immigration – and it seems stupid now, but we had no “plan B”. If Immigration had turned us around (as they could have) we had no idea what we would have done next. No house, no jobs, no school for the weasels… When I think about it like that, it all seems much more of a gamble than we ever thought. I don’t know how Mrs Dim was looking at it, but I was focussing on one thing at a time. If you asked me five hours before we left for the flght what my biggest worry was, and I would have told you it was packing everything we needed into the nine suitcases we had. At the airport it was whether we’d catch the flight, and then whether the weasels would behave on the flight. Then it was getting through Immigration, finding a taxi, getting into the accommodation we had booked. Even when we were all in The Rosellen Suites and had our cases, I was worried about what we would eat for breakfast.

And now? Well, the house was really the last thing on our list. We came to Canada to improve our lives, to give the weasels more opportunities. We came to find some space, somewhere with some wilderness left. We have jobs, the weasels have a school, we have a dog, we have a house that we couldn’t have afforded in the UK. We are, I would say, settled. Now we’re looking forward to the holiday, to the move, to the visitors that will begin to arrive days fter we move into the New Wonkey House and will continue to stream in all through the long (hopefully hot) summer. Though the first year is coming to a close , I’ll continue to blog because the adventure isn’t over.

 The adventure doesn’t end.