Tag Archives: Mrs Dim

The Great Canadian Adventure is FREE!

Great Canadian cover

Yes! To celebrate the fact that it’s been EXACTLY 7 years, 2 months and 14 days since we arrived in Canada, I’m giving away my account of our first year here for FREE!

It’s filled with fun pictures and interesting facts! It’s an e-book, so people won’t see it on your shelf and ask why you bought it! It’s free, so you won’t regret spending money on it! And it’s an Amazon product so you can leave reviews warning others away from making a similar error!

(I may not be good at this marketing thing.)

You can get your copy from Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk . If you live somewhere else, check out your local Amazon site and see if it’s free there too!

And ok, yes, it may not be because of the timing, but because i haven’t given away any of my e-books in a long time. There’ll probably be other giveaways coming up soon. I’m busy working on a new play, co-writing the next pantomime, and there’s a side-project running over on Wattpad that I’m not convinced will be worth publishing, but is making me smile. Also, I haven’t made any kind of replica film prop for more than a week.*




*There may be a complete set of plans for a Cyberman head in the bottom drawer of my desk. I refuse to comment.

They make you swear, they really do….

Actually, that’s not true. In the Citizenship Oath, you have the option to swear OR affirm.


It wasn’t that long ago that I shared this post about sitting our citizenship exam, and we began the wait for the Oath ceremony. Certainly the exam was the more nerve-wracking of the two – though there were several dire warnings about what could happen if you failed to repeat the oath, or didn’t produce the required documents.

The main difference this time was taking the entire boatload of weasels along. Only Eldest Weasel was actually required to make the oath, the other two being below the age of fourteen, but we made this emigration as a unit, and we signed in as a unit too. They seated us together, a row of five seats on the right hand side of the same room we took our exam in. The clerk explained what would happen when Judge Nguyen (pronounced “Wen”) took her seat and began proceedings. The judge was a calm, smiling presence, and took the opportunity to tell us about her own history – nine escape attempts from her home country when she was only a little girl. At least six trips to “Re-education camps” before the successful escape which led to a refugee camp and finally Canada. Mrs Dim and I exchanged glances. Suddenly the various stresses and panics we’d suffered in the run up to our own arrival here seemed very, very minor.

The flags were waiting for us on our seats, along with copies of the Oath and little Maple Leaf pins

The flags were waiting for us on our seats, along with copies of the Oath and little Maple Leaf pins

We were all asked to state our full names in loud clear voices, one at a time. I was happy to note that even Tiniest Weasel had no trouble with this, and then we were reciting the Oath in English and French. After that it was a simple matter of lining up to receive our certificates and take photos with the judge.

DSCN0837After that it was much like the day we took our exam – with a beautiful day outside and no one having to really be anywhere for a while, we walked the seawall all the way up to Milestones on English Bay. Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time will know that’s the first restaurant we visited after arriving in Canada. It’s just round the corner from the apartment we rented during our first month, and we’ve celebrated at least one arrival anniversary there. Since we missed the five year anniversary meal out, this seemed like a great opportunity for a double celebration.

Walking the Seawall. I love Vancouver.....

Walking the Seawall. I love Vancouver…..

Messing about in Milestones. Good food, though!

Messing about in Milestones. Good food, though!

Every time I think “Ok, that’s it, now we just start living…” another big moment pops up. Is there more to come after gaining citizenship? Now we have to apply for passports and things, and I already miss the security of carrying my Permanent Resident Card with me. But I can vote now! I get to take an active interest in the things going on around me, because I have a voice and I am going to use it. Local, Provincial or Federal, I will get out there and use my vote!

Fan Expo Vancouver 2014

Thor and Loki, fighting as usual...

Thor and Loki, fighting as usual…

This was our third visit to FanExpo Vancouver, but only the second year we actually got inside. We’d been planning the day for ages – tickets bought well in advance, Weasels’ costumes worked out – but the last couple of days before were a blur of activity. Somehow, this did not include me getting the adjustments to my own costume done. Next year. Maybe.

Tiny Weasel had settled on a version of Ana from Frozen who is only onscreen for a few moments during the song “Do you want to build a Snowman?” but it came out pretty well, thanks to Mrs Dim’s sewing skills and some decorating on my part.

Tiny Weasel on the right, with a borrowed Olaf, meeting an older version of Ana.

Tiny Weasel on the right, with a borrowed Olaf, meeting an older version of Ana.

Middle Weasel had chosen the slightly more obscure computer game character Juno Eclipse. I built the hat, the gun rig, the rank badge and belt buckle, and Mrs Dim produced an awesome uniform jacket that will see plenty more use in everyday life.

These two members of the 501st made a good honour guard for Middle Weasel's arrival.

These two members of the 501st made a good honour guard for Middle Weasel’s arrival.

Eldest Weasel is usually quite shy and retiring, but she wanted to be a Time Lord, so Mrs Dim produced some fabulous robes, and I put together a headpiece based on the one worn by Timothy Dalton as Rassilon. She walked everywhere with an amazing poise and confidence, even though she was stopped every few feet by people wanting photographs – even at Subway!

This TARDIS cosplayer has used latex to make Gallifreyan writing appear burned into her skin. Amazing job.

This TARDIS cosplayer has used latex to make Gallifreyan writing appear burned into her skin. Amazing job.

This year the venue was larger, and we arrived early on the Sunday, so things were quieter for the first hour or so. We had a good chance to wander the booths and chat to the vendors and exhibitors, and saw some of the big names arriving for their signing sessions – Tom Felton, Charisma Carpenter, Eliza Dushku, Robert Englund…. (No photos of them this year, sorry!)

Attending in costume, even if only through the Weasels, was a very different experience to last year’s plain clothes day. There’s more of a sense of cameraderie with the other cosplayers, and it’s such fun meeting with other groups and taking photos together, or swapping notes on costume choice and construction.

I’m going to end with a photo reel without comments : These pictures have been posted on my Facebook page and my G+ account, so I’m all commented out, but feel free to ask for explanations or identifications!

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Paving the way with good intentions

This blog can get a little repetitive. Here comes another post about entering the employment market…..

Life used to be about careers. You’d learn a wide variety of stuff in school, go on to specialise in college, or get an apprenticeship. Then you’d take on the first job, and work your way up.

Things aren’t like that these days. The internet will tell you that an astonishing percentage of the kids at school today will go into jobs that DON’T EVEN EXIST NOW. You know, they’ll be Herfenshirper Empowerers. Or they’ll be Blorking the VIFFs that run all our e-mookers. (Yeah, you think it’s weird, but wait ten years. You won’t know how you ever got by without your e-mooker…)

Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that careers don’t seem to be my thing. The companies I join have a nasty habit of losing their franchises, shutting down, or even burning to the ground (though in my defence, that’s only happened once and I was a long way away. With witnesses and everything.) As some of you will know, my latest company has recently ceased to be, and now the wrapping up is done, I’m out in the real world again.

I did what I usually do when the hammer falls, I went out looking (somewhat reluctantly) for other positions. I’m not highly qualified, and I don’t have a great deal of useful experience, expecially over here in Canada, since I’ve only had the two jobs in three years. I was looking for work to match my responsibilities, so something from 9am to 2pm would be fine, because I have the school run to do, and the kids do activities outside school hours.

As usual, there weren’t hundreds of opportunities out there. But then Mrs Dim made a brave suggestion. She said if I did get another job, I’d likely be starting it in May or June, and that’s right on the edge of the school holidays. What use would I be starting a new job with no holiday time built up, just when the kids were going to be slobbing around the house needing some adult supervision? Why not, she said, take the hit on my salary, admit I wasn’t going back to work until September and work on my writing projects in between?

It was a brave suggestion because it’s Mrs Dim who makes all the numbers dance in our household accounts, and me not being at work would mean smaller numbers for her. On the other hand, I hadn’t actually improved the income from my writing in the last year, and this was an opportunity to produce some new material and raise that number a bit. Plus, if I was around in the summer, we wouldn’t be spending so much on camps to keep the kids supervised.

So it’s a different kind of adventure for a while. I have to be more businesslike and organised about my writing, and I have to keep my eyes open for new work opportunities that may occur. I have to remember my jobs around the house and not let them slide because I’ve got stuck at the keyboard, and I have to limit my social media interaction, because after a while it’s not networking, it’s procrastination.

I’m glad I found a wife who is brave enough to give me this time, and I hope I don’t let her down.

Contradiction : a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent

It’s the end of February, but feels more like a time of contradictions. Eldest Weasel is visiting the local High School for taster days, but at the same time she’s more involved in her elementary school than ever before, with choir, band, speeches, decorating committees. The Tinier Weasels received excellent reports recently, but both still need help staying focussed on tasks, both at home and school. Mrs Dim is happier than ever with her job, but the cold morning starts are tough, and the glimpses of sunshine through her office window only serve to remind her there’s loads of plans for the garden she hasn’t got to grips with. I’m glad that my day job hours have been cut back, though annoyed that brings in less money. Then again, with more time at home, why don’t I have more writing to show for it? And if I’m spending writing time doing domestic tasks, why isn’t the house spotless and the children geniusses..genii..cleverer?

The weather isn’t helping. The sun is beautiful, a very welcome sight after the combination of rain and snow that seem to have been taking turns since August ended, but it’s COLD out there! So cold that yesterday I wore a hat that makes me look stupid, but it’s warm and I didn’t care.

The contradictions are seeping into my writing time too. I spent yesterday swinging wildly between projects – I lost an hour searching for a file I know I had started, but it wasn’t anywhere it should have been. It wasn’t a lot of work, only five pages or so, but the thought of starting over was too depressing. In a fit of madness I researched a completely different career, and then sent a spur of the moment pitch to a new magazine. Maybe it’s not the Tiny Weasels that need some lessons on focussing.

Today’s “To Do” list is manageable, and best of all, it includes some things that are just fun. With the weasels on a Pro-D day (Teacher training, for you UK types) we can take the Dog off on a decent walk, one that ends at a cafe with Hot Chocolate and Muffins. It’s Tidy Friday, the new Trasler Tradition that says everyone piles into housework on Friday afternoon before tea. We all have our allotted jobs and two hours to get it all done, preventing the place looking like a pigsty for the weekend. In the spirit of renewal and cleansing, I have three more items to post on Craigslist – the last few things went in a matter of hours.

We booked our tickets for the return visit to the UK last night. It’s funny, how hard it’s been to press that final button – waiting for the price to drop, or the dates to mesh better, or…well, for some kind of sign, I guess. We all want to see our friends and family, we know the trip will be epic and fun, but both Mrs Dim and I have our reservations about going (The Weasels are hyped about the flight, then seeing friends and going to the beach at Bournemouth. Oh, and we’ve promised Eldest Weasel we’ll take in the Dr Who Experience.) I’m worried about jet lag, driving, volcanoes, getting to see everyone, accidents, terrorism, rogue hedgehogs…pretty much everything. But we’re going. It’s part of the adventure.

When the going gets tough…

The real Terry Pratchett - I took this picture!

January’s going out with a whimper, as they often do. This is the point where the resolutions begin to flag, where being a REAL writer is hard. But there are rules about writing, folks, rules we must obey. Trouble is, they’re not easy rules, like “Do not walk on the lava!” or “Remove your hat before showering.” No, these are hard rules, and the hardest one of the lot is Rule Number One: Keep writing.

A few years ago Terry Pratchett came to the Winchester Children’s Book Festival and I stood in line to get him to sign a couple of books. As he signed, I nervously asked what advice he would give fledgling writers.

“Get a proper job! Do ANYTHING else! Buy a farm and raise chickens! Writing means you blow your life to bits and then use the bits to make books!”

Oh. Thanks Terry, just the boost I was looking for… Though to be fair, he calmed down a bit, signed the first book, and went on:

“Read a lot. And write, write four hundred words a day. Every day. Even on the day your father dies. In fact, those will probably be the best ones you write…”

But getting those four hundred words down every day is harder than we expect it to be, especially once the glow of the New Year’s Eve champagne has faded. Like going to the gym, or cycling to work, they are a responsibility we shirk too easily.

And now, as Mrs Dim points out to me, we feel guilty about them. This time of year is replete with dire warnings about abandoned resolutions, lapsed gym memberships and running shoes thrown to the back of the wardrobe before they have had a chance to get really smelly.

“What people want this time of year,” says my sage wife ” is a bit of hope.”

Ever eager to please, here’s a suggestion. Look at the targets you set yourself back when the year was only minutes old. Just for a fortnight, reduce them. Cut them in half if you like. Divide them by a factor of ten, any size reduction you like, just DON”T STOP! And to prevent any attendant guilt, feel free to print out the card below to hand to any fierce “I do a million words before breakfast, I do, and I compose a haiku while I butter me toast..” types you might meet.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but nobody said they had to be big steps, and running all that way isn’t good for you, especially after a heavy meal. Take it easy.

Even considering the subject of this post, I spent WAY too long making this...

Happy New Year, eh?

Watching the eagles at Brackendale - this year, we actually saw some...

The trees are still up and there are still strings of lights festooning houses down every street, but people’s thoughts have turned from Christmas to the coming year. And, of course, to the year that’s past.

It’s a funny thing about this emigration lark. We didn’t arrive in Canada on the first of January, but it’s hard to avoid thinking of this as the end of our second year.  End of the year is what it’s all about, after all.

One of the truths we’ve come to understand in this second year, is that it was both easier and harder than the first. The things that seemed so strange and difficult at first have become everyday. I know where to shop, I know how to get to a doctor, dental checkups are a snap. Mrs Dim and I both have jobs. We have friends, and as much of a social life as we can cope with. So much for the hard things. But this year we have felt some of the strain of being so far from family and old friends. Technology has been a big help, with Skype, email and FaceBook keeping us up to date with events and even helping us send real-time video greetings to my family on Christmas morning, but it’s not the same as the regular visits to and by friends. Or even the sporadic visits. Or those ‘Didn’t know we were coming, but found ourselves in the area” visits. The recent ructions over my working weekends and weasel wrangling showed us how much we missed the support of our families when it comes to getting a break from the weasels, or giving them a break from us.

A stranger relaxation comes from the acceptance that we’re here for the long haul. Mrs Dim was saying today that she’s not in such a tearing hurry to try all the winter sports on offer, or visit every corner of British Columbia RIGHT NOW, because she finally feels that there will be time for all of that. We’ve accepted, for example, that Middle Weasel really doesn’t want to give skiing a go again this winter. She got cold last year, she said, and she doesn’t want to do it again. That was a blow, because if she’s not skiing, then one of us has to not ski too. Brilliant grammar, Dim, try again. If she’s not skiing, then one of us has to stay with her, and the other has to ski with Eldest Weasel (who is competent) and Tiniest Weasel (who is a natural disaster on skis, hurtling down the slopes like a football in a helmet, but armed with two sharpened poles….). So, as you read this, I shall be off to the Mountain with Eldest Weasel only, taking my last ski of the year. Also, as it happens, my second ski of the year, but I’ll take what I can get.

We’re homeowners now, able to bore folks with our tales of renovation, and feeling a lot more Canadian because we have a piece of the land to call our own. In a year we’ve gone from being Newbies, renting and living off foreign earnings, to landed Canadians, paying tax and contributing to our community.

Back in March, celebrating our first anniversary of landing, I said we’d pretty much run out of firsts, but I think I spoke too soon. I’m finding, like a lot of people, that there are many, many firsts in a lifetime, and many more that you don’t regret having to do again and again. In the year to come we’re facing Eldest Weasel going up to High School, further employment ambitions and business expansions and the hope of a Christmas trip to the UK. Whether those things will be problems or challenges we’ll have to wait and see, but we’re ready for them either way.

Happy New Year, eh?