Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Northern Shift

I will briefly summarize for you how it all happened...moving that is.

August 1-3 Boxing Days, Medina
Although we had spent a great deal of time packing we found that the final push to put all our belongings into boxes was a daunting task.  Assuming the most essential items are the last to go in a box when moving it is interesting to note that among our last items were toothbrushes, clean underwear, phones, and the coffee maker.  We also needed far more boxes than we ever imagined.  Collecting boxes became a life’s lesson regarding persistence.  Ingrid and I found that out when asking stores to provide us with boxes.  Here is an example conversation...

Matt:  Do you have any boxes I could have? (I have a big smile)

Store Employee:  I’m sorry, story policy won’t allow us to give out boxes.

Matt:  OK.  Thank you. (I then walk about thirty feet to the next store employee)

Matt:  Do you have any boxes I could have? (I have another big smile)

Store Employee #2:  Sure, here you go.  (and I am given many boxes)

I have to say that folks were generally very helpful and accommodating.  Even though they were often busy when I asked them for boxes they would stop what they were doing and find me some and wish me luck on our move.  This was especially true the night before we were to move.  As we tiredly packed I realized we were going to be about ten boxes short.  Panicked, Ingrid and I set out around 9:30pm in search of more.
There are many things we know now about boxes.  We know that the best boxes are designed to carry fruit, eggs, and frozen chicken.  We also know that the best time to procure boxes is when food is being stocked.  But one of the most important things to know when collecting boxes is that they are generally crushed after five pm.  Because of this my confidence of success was low as Ingrid and drove off in search of boxes.  But I had an idea.
I had worked with Gordon Food Service for fundraising before and I remembered they had a few large bins full of empty boxes for their customers.  I visualized these boxes and hoped against hope that I could gain these storage devices to pack away the rest of our junk so we would not have a pile of loose items when our movers arrived in the morning.  When I turned onto GFS’s street my heart jumped as I saw that the store was lit up.  I drove into the parking lot and Ingrid and I jumped out of the van figuring the store would close in about fifteen minutes (it was 9:45pm by this time).  Then we realized the awful truth as the store hours listed showed an 8pm closing time.  Looking through the glass front doors I could see the pile of empty boxes by the registers.  They were perfect...and so close...but unreachable!  I imagine we looked pitiful in that moment.  Two adults with their noses practically pressed against the store front glass looking longingly at boxes.  Then I spotted a flash of red between one of the aisles.
Could it be?  Is someone in there?  We started to shamelessly bang on the windows.  First it was a tap and then a rapping that went unnoticed as we saw a few more GFS employees stocking goods.  So we practically pounded on the doors until finally a concerned looking manager came to the front door and opened it a crack.  Before she could say a word we began to plead our case while apologizing and acknowledging that they were closed.  “We are moving tomorrow morning,” Ingrid said.  “All we need are ten boxes,” I added.  She looked at us for just a moment and then opened the door.  Ingrid and I raided their stash of boxes and carted them away.  As the store employee opened the door to let us out she smiled and said, “Good luck in Canada.”

August 4 Moving Day, Medina
Early Thursday morning our movers arrived.  It took about four hours for them to pile everything into the truck and off they went.  We spent the next four hours cleaning our home for the next owner.  Yes, we did sell the house, YEA!  We looked over our empty home and reminisced about our eleven years.  I couldn’t help but think of all the work we had put into the house.  We had spent many days removing wall paper, painting, putting in floors, etc.  There were so many great memories too.  In this home we started our family and had so many firsts.  But when it was empty I was reminded that it was just a house after all and we didn’t linger.
Then we went to pick up our children from my sister’s house where I hugged and tearfully said goodbye to her as I had my other sister the week before.  Then we went and slept at a friends house where we stayed up late.

August 5 Travel Day, enroute
It is about 330 miles from our area of Ohio to Waterloo.  It usually takes us about seven hours but this time it took us about an hour longer.  It was a bit of a melancholy drive as my eldest daughter had a cry at the Michigan Visitors Center.  We were mindful to be extra kind to each other recognizing we were all sad...except for Z..., our four year daughter.
Z... had an excitement that picked us all up by brightening our spirits.  She shouted enthusiastically, “We’re going to Canada!” to all who would listen.  This included people behind counters, toll booth officers, and strangers at the rest stops.  In the van she sang a song about making new friends.  Her joyous spirit carried us north.
I knew I was in Canada at our first rest stop past the border when the person in front of me ordered poutine (french fries smothered in gravy and cheese).  We didn’t get to our destination until late in the evening where we were greeted enthusiastically by Oma and Opa.  We chatted briefly and then went to bed exhausted.

August 6,7 Cleaning Days, Waterloo
Knowing our earthly belongings were to arrive on Monday we spent the weekend cleaning our new home.  For two days we scrubbed, vacuumed, washed, and swept our new abode.

August 8 Moving Day (Part 2)
After two hours at customs (a whole other story) our stuff was cleared and the movers filled our new home with boxes.

August 9,10,11 Unboxing Days
We spent much of the week unpacking boxes and making the home livable.  Ingrid’s Aunt and Uncle came and helped us unpack and pull weeds one day.  The phone company set up a working line but we were unable to find our phones after a thorough search.  We borrow a phone from Ingrid’s parents and we are finally connected to the outside world.  However, the weak battery only last for about eight minutes.  In very brief conversations we update family and friends.

August 12 First Night
For the first time we sleep in the new home and everything is strange.  We are extra lenient with the girls as they push their waking hours well past their bedtime.  The Northern Shift has is now official.  We comfort each other thinking of all the people and things that we miss.  We remind each other that there is much to discover and that there are many new experiences ahead of us.

August 13 The Hand Incident
Z... has her hand smashed in a door.  We watch with concern as her hand doubles in size.  Z... is obviously in pain but she is also amused by the alarming inflation of her hand.  Our first experience with Canadian Healthcare is mixed.  We wait four hours for someone to see her at urgent care.  When they finally do see her they take three x-rays and inform us that no bones have been broken.  Then they tell us we must pay for the x-rays immediately and seek compensation later.  They tell us this apologetically but we are quick to agree.  The bill for the x-rays is $23.  The paucity of the bill almost makes up for the length of the wait.

August 14-16 First Guests
Our first guests from Ohio arrive.  D and B and their two children are a godsend.  For two days we forget the business of the previous week and we have fun.  The kids all have places to sleep but we don’t have a spare bedroom for D and B.  They happily sleep on a mattress on the floor in our unfinished basement.  They seem to actually enjoy it.  It’s almost like camping.  In fact, the move does not seem real.  It seems as though we are on vacation and will go back home in a few weeks.

August 17-23 Getting Settled
We continue to fine tune the unpacking.  I bought new phones so we could have lengthy conversations with Ohio folks.  I am helping Ingrid’s dad with some of his work.  We buy a season pass to conservation areas and visit a few lakes and trails.  The best trail we have found is connected to our neighborhood.  It is lined with ripe blackberries and raspberries.  We get lost in Kitchener Waterloo several times.  We appreciate the novelty of living close enough to stores that we can walk to them.  We walk to Dairy Queen.  We visit Oma and Opa and the girls run around in the back yard.  Their favorite thing to do is ride a green Jeep.  The sale of our house is finalized.  The return policy on the new phones expires.  I find our old phones.

August 24 Lightning Storm
Dark clouds quicken the darkening of the day and the girls are treated to popcorn and a movie.  The rain comes with a lot of thunder and lightening so we allow the girls to stay up late.  There is a big flash and the lights go out.  It is completely black as the whole street is out.  We use our reading lights to break the darkness.  I go in the basement and dig through boxes for more flashlights batteries.  I find them and go back upstairs where Ingrid and the girls are huddled on the floor.  For the next hour (way past bedtime for the girls) we watch Max and Ruby on the battery powered laptop.  Then we lay on the floor with our flashlights and make hand shadows.

In the middle of the storm we are finding ways to have fun. Such is life.


  1. A fantastic read at what I thought was a long day. Good luck with the upcoming works.

    - Voo

  2. Weeks rather. Again, long day. But but not as long as yours.