So much happening, so little reporting

OK, OK, so it’s been a while since I did an entry here. Like 8 days.

It isn’t as if noth­ing’s been going on. Life has been turned upside down by try­ing to do two things that are nor­mal­ly all-con­sum­ing when they are done on their own: sell­ing your house, and buy­ing a new house. We’re now doing them simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Oh, and the buy­ing part is near­ly entire­ly by long-dis­tance in anoth­er coun­try, and on anoth­er coast. But you knew that last part, dear reader.

Where to start? Well, with our house now on the mar­ket, it means that we still had to decide what to do about where to live in Van­cou­ver. While I was there in March, I hap­pened to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion at the Mas­sive Tech Con­fer­ence with a fel­low named Ter­ry who just hap­pened to be mov­ing back to Toron­to from Van­cou­ver. He offered to show off his con­do (in Cana­da these are called apart­ments, but the asso­ci­a­tion that man­ages them is called a ‘stra­ta’. Don’t ask me why, but that’s the term.) On a whim, I took him up on it. You nev­er know, right?

It turned out that the place is small, but prob­a­bly just right for us. So after talk­ing it over and ago­niz­ing over the deci­sion, Pam and I sub­mit­ted an offer for Ter­ry’s place. After some nego­ti­a­tions, we agreed on a good price (for both par­ties, I assume), we also agreed that the offer was good con­tin­gent upon the sale of our place here. Tomor­row a home inspec­tor will take a look at it and send us a report (com­plete with dig­i­tal pho­tos — I won­der if we could have done any­thing remote­ly like this 5 years ago!), and next week we meet with a Bank rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Van­cou­ver to get a small mort­gage. We decid­ed that rather than cov­er the entire place with the pro­ceeds from our house here, we’d take out a rel­a­tive­ly small mort­gage, main­ly to start to build up a his­to­ry of good cred­it in Cana­da. We also would­n’t want to raise any red flags about us being drug deal­ers or some­thing like that, buy­ing a house 100% with US cash.

The apart­ment is indeed small, but it has some key fea­tures that make it par­tic­u­lar­ly attrac­tive to us; it is on the sec­ond floor of an 11 sto­ry build­ing, and set on a hill over­look­ing False Creek. It has a large patio/deck, rough­ly the length of the place full of plants, includ­ing a set of tall bam­boo trees. The view faces north toward the city and Grouse Moun­tain. The deck is large enough for a table and chairs, as well as anoth­er seat­ing area, so it’s essen­tial­ly anoth­er room. Also, the com­plex has a secure front lob­by entrance, under­ground park­ing, a health club, steam room and jacuzzi. The loca­tion is near the Granville Bridge and Granville Island to the north­west, and a great neigh­bor­hood with many restau­rants and shop­ping to the south and south­east. It’s extreme­ly close to near­ly all of the main bus lines into Down­town Van­cou­ver, but in good weath­er is no more than a 20 minute walk from most of the places we would want to go. It’s has easy access to the main road south­ward toward the US, as well as the air­port. It has a gas fire­place, good kitchen (with high qual­i­ty gas stove, oak cab­i­nets and gran­ite coun­ter­tops), broad­band inter­net and a heat­ed floor for the mas­ter bath­room. There is only one bed­room, but I think we can make the den dou­ble as a guest bed­room via fold-out couch or mur­phy bed. Rather than put up pho­tos of the new place — and we have some —I’m think­ing I’ll post them after our fur­nish­ings are in place. Ter­ry and his part­ner’s (inci­den­tal­ly, in Cana­da, ‘part­ner’ can refer to the sig­nif­i­cant oth­er of the same sex or the oppo­site sex — so Pam is my ‘part­ner’) taste in fur­ni­ture and gen­er­al decor are very dif­fer­ent from ours, and I want us to show the place as ‘ours’ rather than ‘their’s and about to be ours’.

That said, there is anoth­er nice fringe-ben­e­fit of hav­ing to show off your house for so many prospec­tive buy­ers: it looks nice, for a change. So I post­ed a set of pho­tos of the inte­ri­or to Flickr. On Sat­ur­day, a spe­cial video­g­ra­ph­er will be com­ing over to do a video tour of the place. I hope we get to take some of his footage with us as well. It’s nice to have a record of the place you lived, espe­cial­ly when it was look­ing it’s best, with most of the fur­ni­ture and art you fur­nished it with.

So we’re off.

Not a minute too soon, either. I’m get­ting more and more upset with each evening news­cast, as the Chris­t­ian Tal­iban con­tin­ues it’s inex­orable progress toward tak­ing over the gov­ern­ment, media and lives of cit­i­zens here. This last week­end was ‘Jus­tice Sun­day’, where politi­cians and church lead­ers broad­cast nation­wide their inten­tions to take over the Judi­cia­ry. That would be the last branch of gov­ern­ment they don’t have a firm grip over. It feels more and more like the nov­el The Hand­maid­’s Tale of Mar­garet Atwood. I used to feel like we were leav­ing because I felt that this was no longer the coun­try that I grew up in. Now it’s even worse than that; it’s a coun­try that I’m begin­ning to fear and loathe.

Getting Closer to the Move Here

So here we are, back in what we hope will be our new home. This time Van­cou­ver is once again cov­ered with many dark clouds, but instead of con­stant rain, it’s far more like Seat­tle rain, which has usu­al­ly been light sprin­kles inter­persed with tan­ta­liz­ing patch­es of sunshine.

We land­ed and got through cus­toms by about 3:00 Van­cou­ver time, or 7 PM our body clock time. Pam had tak­en a slight­ly ear­li­er plane than I did, so she picked up my bag and wait­ed for me for about an hour and a quarter.
So, what do you do when you see a patch of blue in a week fore­cast­ed to be anoth­er mon­soon? Get thee to the park, of course. We took a bus from more or less the cen­ter of town to Stan­ley Park, which was clear­ly wear­ing it’s spring out­fit. We took a short walk and vis­it­ed the edge of the aquar­i­um, where Pam played with one of the seals, and we also saw some beau­ti­ful bel­u­ga whales, swim­ming like pale blue ghosts in their pond, the ponds they have at this aquar­i­um are incred­i­ble. If you’d like to build a pond of your own, vis­it Swell UK to find all of the infor­ma­tion need­ed to main­tain one.

We are going to spend a lot of time in that park. I can see mak­ing a park vis­it my week­ly Sun­day after­noon, and look for­ward to the day when I can hang out there with oth­er fam­i­ly (my broth­er, sis­ter-in-law and niece, for a start).

Today it was also part­ly cloudy, so after some arrang­ments for an inter­view with a recruiter, we took the Sky­train in a large loop to the East (went as far as Sur­rey, the end of the line), and then back again. Pam got off at the water­front and I came back to our hotel.

I real­ly like this hotel, the Sand­man Suites on Davie. It has near­ly every­thing I need in a hotel, includ­ing the most impor­tant lux­u­ry: a kitchen, com­plete with stove, pots and pans, dish­wash­er, uten­sils and plates! It’s also in a ter­rif­ic neigh­bor­hood, full of restau­rants, cof­fee shops and stores. So break­fast was home-cooked, and there was an organ­ic gro­cer and 24-hour reg­u­lar gro­cer with­in a 2 block area. Two doors down was a Star­bucks for cof­fee grounds for our cof­fee-mak­er, and next store to that was a superb bak­ery. Pam chose a seed bread, which they sliced thing for us. It is won­der­ful. We also got organ­ic sal­ad, straw­ber­ries and plums. Today I picked up a tru­ly mag­nif­i­cent papaya and some nice tan­ger­ines and tangelos.The hotel staff has also been extreme­ly help­ful and pleas­ant. I can see return­ing here for our next trip.

Besides being thrifty and healthy, this kitchen and bed­room set­up real­ly feels like we are start­ing to ‘live’ here, rather than act as pure tourists. Toward that end, we treat­ed our sky­train trip as a sort of Real Estate tour, tak­ing notes on what neigh­bor­hoods looked good, which high-ris­es were going up, where there self stor­age places are (and where the IKEA is). If I can just line up employ­ment, I think we can look for­ward to a real­ly nice life here. After all, what’s more to life than a pret­ty pub­lic park, fresh cof­fee, good bread and a high-speed Inter­net con­nec­tion (albeit in the ‘busi­ness cen­tre’ near the front desk) and cheap mod­ern fur­ni­ture? Please, dear read­er, don’t answer that.