Tag Archives: Tiniest weasel

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!

Buying the Canadian Dream

Sometimes, when you’re young, you do something that goes in a direction you’re not expecting. Like when you’re explaining how you’re going to ride this tray down the stairs, and you just put your foot on it, to show it slides and…WHOOOSH! You’re rocketing down the stairs, nearly balanced on one foot and suddenly very concerned about how you’re going to stop. That, in metaphorical terms, was this weekend.

It was always going to be busy. Tiniest Weasel was turning six, and we had a party planned. That was scheduled for Sunday, the day of her birthday (and, coincidentally, Valentine’s Day). Saturday was going to consist of light shopping, healthy walks and generally recovering from watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony the night before. So the first part of Saturday went well, with slow starts for everyone, phone calls made and Mrs Dim and Eldest Weasel hitting the shops before lunch. But then things started to slide a little, because we decided to visit a couple of houses. We’re in the market for a new house, after all, so when we saw these two properties were available for viewing, it made sense. Loading up the weasels and Moose, we zipped over to the first one, planning to catch the second one immediately after and then go for a walk on the Mountain. The first house was a bust, being too small and too expensive, although it was in a nice location. The second one was further away, but much more reasonably priced. It was old too, by Canadian standards, maybe as old as seventy years. The refurbishing had done a great job of the entrace floor and the upstairs, but the basement was still bveing worked on. That, and the odd visible sign that woodwork outside needed replacing, seemed to put off a lot of the viewers. I liked it, and Mrs Dim was looking thoughtful The layout inside is odd, but that’s the way the current owners did things, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way. So we talked it over as we drove on to the Mountain.

Releasing balloons on Burnaby mountain

Me, weasels and Moose releasing balloons. Mrs Dim is behind the camera

We were there to release a balloon for our friend Candy’s daughter Tali, a beautiful girl who had sadly died just a few days before. Candy and her friends were releasing their balloons in the UK on THEIR Saturday, and though we couldn’t be there, we wanted to take part in spirit. Middle Weasel also wanted to release a balloon for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Luge Competitior who died on Friday. As we released the balloons, she said she hoped Tali would be happy in heaven and that Nodar could continue his career. Sometimes kids can give you some much-needed perspective on the important things in life, even when they’re tiny weasels the rest of the time.

When we got back we called our Realtor, Frank. We haven’t been a lot of use to him, setting such vague parameters for our ideal house that it was difficult for him to pin anything down. Now we had a solid prospect for him, he became a dynamo. Within minutes, we were agreeing to arrange a building survey for the following morning. I changed into my tux, because we were going out to a Murder Mystery Evening across the street, and Mrs Dim made phone calls. We arrived a bit late, and I had to make a few more calls during the evening (missing at least one vital clue. I accused Mrs Dim of the murder anyway. She seems the type. Trained killer, you know.) By the time we got back to our own house, we were on for a busy Sunday.

Tiny Weasel came with me in my car to collect a couple of friends on the way to the party, while Mrs Dim took the other weasels direct to the party location to install the cake and check the arrangements (because I made them, and could therefore have booked the wrong place, the wrong month or for eighty kids instead of eight. These are, so it seems, important details to get right.) Once I’d delivered my set of partygoers and made sure the other parents were happy to stay with Mrs Dim, I hopped back in the car and zipped over to the Prospective House (trying not to think of it as the New House yet…) to meet the Building Inspector and Frank. The news was pretty good, at least in the verbal report, with a lot of work that COULD be done, but nothing so pressing it would prevent anyone living in the place while they did the jobs. I brought Frank back to the Rental House and we met Mrs Dim and the Weasels, then talked House-y business for a while. First time I’ve made lunch for a Realtor… By the time Frank left, we’d decided to put an offer in on the house. We’d signed papers. Putting an offer in on a house we hadn’t even seen 36 hours before. Crazy? Not as crazy as the speed of real estate over here. Before the weasels were in their pyjamas we’d heard back from the owners. We were the only people making an offer. Did we want to change our offer at all? We did, and minutes later we had the verbal assurance that we had the house. In under forty eight hours we had gone from viewing to owning.

Now, don’t ask me about completion, title deeds, mortgage arrangements and so on. That’s all by-the-by. Important, oh yes, but by-the-by for now. We have a great house, a new hobby (fixing stuff, mending stuff, painting stuff…) and a packed schedule for at least the next three months. In the next post I’ll talk about the Elephants Theory of Time Management, but for now, I have to go, my head is spinning again.

Ok, I got a job….Now what?

Me, with a real Olympic torch

A real Olympic torch, a real author....

So, that went well. Interview number three, that is. I actually got to feel like a genuine, caring parent, because I made sure Moose got walked before the school run and drove the Weasels to school so I could read to Tiniest Weasel in “Parent Reading Time”. Having rushed through “The Cat in the Hat” (I love the classics) I leapt back in the car and made it to the prospective employment zone in time to meet the Store Manager.

Now, as a point of policy (and not to bore people beyond belief) I’m not going to write about the people or the place where I work unless A: They give me explicit permission to do so or B: It becomes clear that no one there knows or cares about this blog. Since B seems to be the prevailing attitude of the entire world, you may get to hear about it all anyway. But not today.

One of the things I love about being in Canada is the National Pride. Folks love being Canadian. You see it in the advertisements, the fact that the McDonalds arches have a Maple Leaf in the middle, and you can’t miss it right now anywhere in BC. Vancouver is hosting the Winter Olympic games and you can’t move for people in Canada tops, hats, scarves or Olympic mittens. The cars are all festooned with snapping Canada flags, and flags drape the houses, fill the windows, are in every aisle of your favourite Home Improvement Retailer…

It so happens that a couple of our favourite television programmes are on a channel called CTV, and they just happen to be the channel that is screening the principal Olympic coverage. Naturally, their adverts have been saturated with Olympic imagery in the last few weeks, but it’s not just “Watch CTV for the Olympics”, it’s almost all “Support Team Canada” and “Go Canada Go!”. They did a brilliant series of introductions to Canadian Olympians, which made me think – how many members of the British Olympic team could you name? The only one I could really remember was the snotty fourteen year old kid in the posh diving competition*, who blew it at the last minute. What was his name? Exactly. But now we hear about different Canadian Olympians every day. they’re in the papers, on posters in the bus stops, everywhere. I watched the theme song to the Winter Games “I believe”, sung by Nikki Yanovsky and found it very moving. I think I’ve mentioned before, Canadian Pride is a very interesting and non-threatening thing. It’s not about being better than everyone else, not about putting anyone down because they’re NOT Canadian, it’s celebrating the fact that WE ARE Canadian, eh? There are some dreadful commercials by the food suppliers President’s Choice, saying how they supplied some of the food the Canadian Olympians have eaten, and it ends with this “So if they win gold, we’ll take a little of the credit…But not much. After all, we ARE Canadian.”

So tonight, I won’t be celebrating getting a job. Yes,  I’m pleased, it’s a relief and the start of a new phase of life (again!). I’ve noticed how much more I’ve got done in the last few days when I thought I was losing all the time I’ve had at my disposal since we arrived, and I hope I can maintain that momentum when the pace really does pick up. But tonight we’re gathering together as a family and watching the opening ceremony, with popcorn, hot dogs and probably ice cream too. It feels like there’s a great big party here in our adopted hometown and whether there’s any snow up those mountains or not, the world is looking at Vancouver and it would be churlish not to smile and wave. Well, it would be un-Canadian.

*I realise that this may not be the correct name for the event.