Tag Archives: holiday

Finding our feet

Still some unpacking left

Whatever you're looking for, it's probably in a box somewhere...

 I keep trying to remember previous moves. God knows, there have been enough of them, so why can’t I remember how long it normally takes us to get settled in?

Yes, it could be said that this was an unusual move. For one thing there was a sudden last minute delay, which scrambled things a bit, and we’d only just come back from holiday etc etc. But it’s been nearly a fortnight in the new house now, and I’m itching to be shot of the detritus of moving. I want all the boxes gone, I want the temporary piles of stuff sorted and put away. I want to be MOVED IN now, thank you.

Mrs Dim doesn’t quite agree. Right now we’re living a stripped-down version of our old life, with a lot of our everyday clutter still boxed up and in the basement. With no internal staircase, it’s all going to stay in the basement for a while, because retrieving it is a nause neither of us is interested in. The weasels haven’t noticed that they haven’t got more than ten percent of their toys available, and if we’re all getting by, then there’s the hope that instead of unpacking all those boxes, we can just shuffle them off to Yard Sales or charity shops….

We also have visitors on board at the moment. My brother and his wife have come out with their three boys, and despite Steve’s visit last September, they feel like our first official visitors. Is that because they’re family? Perhaps. They’ve rented a nice house on North Shore because we couldn’t quite put them up here (and let’s face it, if you’re on holiday, why not holiday in a nice house of your own, rather than camping out with relatives?). So, in between box opening, hanging pictures and fixing furniture, we’ve been doing the tourist stuff all over again, rediscovering why we love this area so much.

Last night we went out dinner and were gently questioned about our reasons for emigration. I went off on my usual rant about not running away from the UK so much as running towards better opportunity, better prospects for the weasels and house prices, and Mrs Dim cut across and said “Don’t be stupid! It was just because we were bored and hadn’t been anywhere exciting…” Folks, don’t make life-changing decisions just because you’re bored, that’s today’s advice. And men, never assume you know the answer to a question when your wife is in the room.

It was a lovely evening, but we came away having realised that we’ve been tremendously self-absorbed. That may be because of the emigration. Certainly we contracted to our family unit when we first arrived, since we knew no one and had only phone and e-mail to stay in touch with other family and friends. In the year that’s past we’ve expanded our circle of friends, but I wonder if all the people we speak to in the UK think we’re monomaniacs, out to convert them to the cult of Canada? We just wanted to reassure everyone that we were happy here, that it wasn’t a grim struggle for survival against the weather, the polar bars and the notion of driving on the right. Now that has given way to a genuine pride in the place that we live, a love of the life we have here.

Next time you call, Skype, or mail us, feel free to tell us to shut the hell up and listen for five minutes…..

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Sandy Sun Diego…no, wait…er…

Mrs Dim and I have a differing view of holidays. There are all kinds of examples of this, but the one I’m thinking of right now has to do with the journey versus the destination. For me, the holiday doesn’t begin until you get there. For her, the holiday begins as soon as you leave your house. That’s not to say that as we step out the door, Mrs Dim becomes some serene, floating goddess of benign goodwill. No, she can be tense and stressed, just like the rest of us. But she’s tense and stressed because there are things to be done. She’s also able to occasionally raise her head above the noise and nonsense of travelling weasels and see the beauty around her. I’m not.

I mentioned in an earlier post how the emigration went by in a blur of things to worry about next. This journey, though less epic in many ways, was still a challenge. We had to get out of our house with all our kit and dog, then drive to Sister-in-law’s where we would drop the dog. She would then drive us on to the local airport where we would catch a small plane for the hop down to Seattle, and then transfer to a proper plane for the ride to San Diego. Once we got there (assuming all went well up to that point) we’d pick up our hire car and try to navigate our way through an unfamilliar city to find the holiday home. THEN I could relax.

And with the benefit of hindsight, I can honestly say the journey was not that bad. We chose the Linden US Border crossing because it’s quieter, and the guards were in a jolly mood, actually smiling and giving us directions to the nearest coffee shop. Mrs Dim’s Sister and her husband live in a beautiful house that they built in a rural area near Bellingham, and their house has been a welcome refuge on several holidays and smells of peace and relaxation, even when you add three weasels and a dog. They produced a brilliant lunch and then we hopped back in the car for the trip to the airport.

Compact and bijou is an overstatement for this little airfield, but it’s an International Airport now, I think, and we waited patiently in line at one of the three check in desks while the lady in front bemoaned the regulations that would not allow her to bring her ukelele on as carry-on luggage. The plane was a decent-sized turbo-prop effort, not the bi-plane with seats strapped to the wings that I had been fearing, and we’d barely reached cruising height before we were heading back down into Seattle.

There was time to eat there before hustling to the next flight – we had to ride the train system to reach the right gate, which meant we could claim this was a planes, trains and automobiles holiday – and the next plane was a jet, but there was no tv. The weasels were a little disappointed, but the views were good through the windows, and the fizzy drinks were free and plentiful.

By the time we landed at San Diego airport, I was pretty much done. I’d not found the book I was looking for at Seattle, so I’d spent the flight twiddling my thumbs and doing far too much thinking. But the queues were loooong for the rental cars, and it was dark night by the time we got strapped in and launched off onto unknown roads. Luckily the directions were good, and we reached the house with only one stop for milk and sandwiches as breakfast offerings.

The house is incredible. When I have the resources at my fingertips again I’ll include the link, because you should come and stay here. It’s palatial, so close to the sea it’s obscene, and the local cafe’s do amazing breakfasts. The place is clean, the beds are comfortable and there are all the conveniences of home (including wireless, hence the holiday post….)

I’m writing this on Wednesday, by which time we’ve had our acclimatisation day (cafe, beach, big tea) and Middle Weasel’s Birthday (late breakfast, LEGOLAND, big tea) and now they’ve left me to write while they head for the beach again. I have plays to work on, of course, and reviews I could be doing, but as soon as I’m done with this post, I shall be striding off to the beach after them – this is a family holiday after all, and whatever the differences in expectations Mrs Dim and I have about holidays, we both want them to be full-family affairs.

Pre-tea appetizers

What we ate on the balcony before we had tea on the balcony....

The Elephant theory of time management

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with my memory…I’ve read all sorts of books, like the one by that guy…you know him, he does that show on tv… Anyway, nothing works. As Chief Homemaker in the household, I’m the one who should be in charge of birthday card sending, shopping, insurance renewal and all those trivial little details, but no matter how many calendars we have (and we have LOTS of calendars), no matter how many things that go “beep” I program, I forget.

The theory of memory runs that the more ludicrous an image is, the more memorable it is. Some people advise taking a list of numbers: 1,2,3,4,5 and so one, and assigning a rhyming word to each one. One is bun, two is shoe and so on. If you have a list of things to do that day, you can assign one to each number and not only remember all the things, but get them in order. So, you have to go to the dentist, then buy stamps, then feed the dog? First, visualise a dentist trapped inside a giant hot dog bun. Second, a shoe wrapped in a string of stamps and three, flinging dog food tins to your dog, high up in the branches of a tree (three is tree, you see?).
That’s all well and good, I think. I used dentist as an example for number one because that was the example in the book I read about that method in. Years ago. I can still remember that dentist goes with number one, but can’t remember to use the memory sequence in everyday life.

Here’s another method that works, and I know it works, because it’s how Mrs Dim is so damn efficient: Elephants. Every month consists, more or less, of four weeks. So, visualise a line of four elephants. Each elephant is a week of our month. In that first week you have to sign the kids up for skating and book a holiday in Mexico. On the third of the month you have to visit the dentist. Elephant number one is on ice skates and wearing a sombrero. One of his tusks is throbbing red, like in a cartoon, and has a big number three painted beside it. Can you see it? Skates, sombrero, toothache, three. All the cues you need for that week, how cool is that?
Well, it would be if you have good visualisation skills. Mrs Dim does. Her elephants troop obediently by, wearing ridiculous outfits, carrying placards, painted with dates and times. Sometimes as many as twelve elephants in a row.
I have badly trained elephants. I can’t manage more than four, and those four are shy. Shy to the point of refusing to get close enough to see them. And they don’t walk in a neat line. They try to hide behind each other. Have you ever tried to put a sombrero on an elephant who’s trying to run away and hide?

But what do elephants have to do with our Canadian Adventure? Well, I’ve had to bring my elephants out of mothballs. They’ve been lying on a beach somewhere back in my subconscious for far too long while I worked from home because I had so many reminder devices in front of me. Sitting at the computer all day means the Outlook calender is only a click away. But now the New Age of Work has begun, and all of a sudden I’m out of the house. I need to remember what’s coming up, what I’m supposed to be organising or going to. Here’s how it looks in terms of elephants:

Elephant number one is wearing a smart mortarboard (That’s a hat that teachers used to wear) because the Weasels are in school this week. He’s got work boots on his front feet, because I’m at work this week. He’s got Ice skates on his back feet because it’s the last week of Weasel Skating lessons.

Elephant number two is just wearing the mortarboard and the workboots. Easy week, work and school.

Elephant number three is exciting. He’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt, because it’s Spring Break for the Weasels, and I associate Spring Break with Hawaiian shirts. The shirt has an odd pattern for a Hawaiian shirt – there are nine Maple Leaves on it, because on the ninth of March we’ll have been in Canada for one year. Wow. He’s got work boots on, but instead of a mortarboard, he’s wearing a chef’s hat. The Elder Weasels are going on a cookery course. He’s got a nasty exterior head brace on his tusks because the Weasels will also be visiting the Orthodontist that week. (The cynical me wanted to have the elephant handing over wads of cash, but that could be ANYTHING…) Finally, he’s humming the song “YMCA” because that’s the entertainment for Tiniest Weasel that week – the YMCA childcare facility.

Elephant number four is wearing the mortarboard and workboots, looking at number three and counting his blessings.

Number five – yes, the first time in my life I’ve tried to keep five elephants in a row, and it’s tricky – is carrying a suitcase and wearing shades. He has a party hat on his head with the number nine on it, because Middle Weasel will turn nine while we’re on holiday.

They’re fairly non-specific elephants. I’m not trying to incorporate too many dates or any times. I want to get the poor pachyderms used to parading for me and wearing their silly outfits without embarrassment before I ask them to do anything harder. Memory is a muscle, it says in a  book by some bloke. Like any muscle, it needs exercise to become stronger. Believe me, keeping five elephants in line will have your memory muscles bulging in no time.