2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.




We called it “The Move From Hell.” Okay, we didn’t literally move “from Hell” but from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, more like Paradise than Hell. Yet, our move proved to be “hellish.” In May and June 2015 we made what we sincerely hope is the last major move of our lives from Vernon, British Columbia to downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Two moving companies contributed to making our move less than ideal: Two Small Men With Big Hearts (TSM) in Kelowna, BC and AMS Transportation Ltd. Inc. headquartered in Dundalk, Ontario. The latter company was the most “hellish.”

In 2007, we had used TSM out of Winnipeg, Manitoba for a previous move from Winnipeg to British Columbia without a hitch. However, our circumstances were different. Eight years ago, they moved a number of already packed and stored boxes plus four small items of furniture: a cedar chest, a teak secretary desk, a captain’s chair and a teak three-drawer filing cabinet. These we had stored in Winnipeg for over two years while we were on a long-term adventure in Mexico, having sold the rest of our furniture and household goods before we took off for Mexico in 2004 in a 35-foot motorhome.

This year’s move in 2015, we had a houseful of furniture (bought when we moved back to Canada from Mexico in 2007), myriad boxes of books and all the household goods we had not downsized. We were moving from a house with two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, plus a den, a porch and garage to a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with the hopes of eventually moving into a two-bedroom apartment once it became available in the same seniors’ life lease apartment building. We also had to move out of our house several weeks earlier than we would have liked, would have to put our household goods into storage for about six weeks, would have to travel for about a month and then have our goods moved to an apartment which we had not yet had assigned to us, though we knew the apartment building to which we would be moving.

Ian has moved households “about a thousand” times (according to him) from Scotland to Canada and then all over Canada from east to west and back and forth. I have moved households from the US to Germany and back (with almost a year’s storage in Germany after we left) and from Wisconsin, USA to Winnipeg, Canada. This was to be Ian’s and my first “major” household move together.

I had asked a friend who had experienced a number of major moves throughout Canada over the years to recommend a moving company. After meeting with a pleasant estimator from that company, we were floored to receive an estimate of almost $13,000–way more than we had anticipated. At the time I didn’t appreciate the fact that the price included packing, storage locally for about a month, plus transportation and unloading, all by one company. That was when I decided to contact TSM, a company I knew would be less expensive and with whom we had had a good moving experience in the past.

NOW I know that I should have been much more cautious about checking out the entire process of packing, moving into storage and moving from storage halfway across the country, considering that two companies would be involved in the move, a situation I had not anticipated.

Here is a brief list of the problems we encountered:

  1. Our household goods were neither properly inventoried nor tagged. After the move was completed, TSM declared that they did not inventory items that went into storage but just labeled the boxes (usually) and delivered them to storage. They further declared that AMS always tagged and itemized the boxes and furniture when it picked them up from storage. In contrast, AMS declared that TSM should have itemized the items when they were packed. In other words, each moving company blamed the other for neglecting to tag and inventory the household goods.
  1. During the move-in on June 19th, when I noted that the movers were not leaving room to set up the bed, dining table, entertainment unit and living room couches/recliners, the driver of the AMS van declared that he had neither instructions nor tools to assemble any of the furniture that the TSM packers had unassembled. After numerous calls to both moving companies, the driver was finally instructed to see that the furniture was assembled (they only did the bed and the dining table) but I had to borrow tools from our apartment building’s maintenance man for them to use.
  1. The two local-hire personnel who were hired to unload the van and carry household items to the apartment were not always attentive and, at times, clumsy or careless. No matter what room was labeled on the boxes, about half of the time they unloaded the boxes into the wrong room.
  1. Not all the TSM-packed boxes were labeled, so it took some days after delivery to find essential belongings. Finding them in the wrong rooms only exacerbated the confusion. The worst problem was the four-day delay before the cable company could complete setup of our TV and component parts. All parts were in the living room except for the main TV cord which I eventually found in an unlabeled box under four other boxes in the bedroom.
  1. I itemized the extra money we had to pay to hire someone else to reassemble the entertainment unit and living room couches and recliners, plus replacement value for those items that were damaged or broken and the costs of long distance telephone calls to both moving companies on moving-in day. AMS refused to pay us compensation, citing a $300 deductible about which we had never been informed. TSM also denied knowing about this deductible. To their credit, TSM volunteered to pay the money we had claimed and declared they would no longer be doing business with AMS. (Donna, the estimator from TSM was very gracious and helpful to us.)

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: In hindsight, we offer the following recommendations to anyone undertaking a major move that includes storage for a time before household goods are moved on to another address:

  1. If you can afford it, go with a major international moving company that can handle all of the tasks of moving such as packing, loading into storage, storing the goods, moving out of storage, transporting to, unloading and reassembling at the new address. That way you have one point of contact to deal with any questions or problems you might encounter during the move and will have all the information you need in writing.
  2. If you cannot afford moving with a major company, be sure that the company you do go with spells out completely that they will itemize and inventory all your household goods during packing.
  3. Be present when that moving company delivers your goods to storage and leaves the inventory at storage so that whoever picks up the goods for moving on to your destination checks that inventory as they load their van.
  4. Have contact information on the company who will be picking up the goods from storage. We were merely told that another company would be picking up the items from storage but never had anything in writing from that company until after the fact (thus we knew nothing of a deductible). However, they did call us before pick up from storage and demanded our credit card information so they could charge us $5041.95 for their part of the move before they picked up the items. (We were two provinces away from the storage unit when they called us so had no way of checking that our items were truly picked up and on the way and had no contact information about them.)
  5. If at all possible try to insure that only one franchise does the entire move. The company we booked with recommended the second company over their own franchise in Winnipeg. I wish, at that point, that we had gone to another franchise that would have completed the entire move.

Incidentally, the move cost us a total of $8,451.00, including costs for both moving companies, the storage facility and extra boxes we purchased. I had packed many boxes of books and other non-breakables prior to the packing day to reduce the packing costs. Yes, we saved around $4000 but also had a great amount of extra work, frustration and dissatisfaction as well.

For anyone who is interested in reading the entire correspondence regarding our move, I am including that herewith. I hope our warning will help anyone contemplating a similar move.  Continue reading




Sat., April 25, 8 am-1pm

House #69, Lakepointe, 6688 Tronson Road

Mexican clay masks and artifacts; antique Norwegian handmade wooden kitchen tools & a rosemaled bowl; unique German crystal punch bowl with wrought iron & copper stand & hanging crystal cups; small exercise bike; BBQ; zero-gravity chairs; artwork; hand, electric & garden tools; aluminum stepladder; shop vac; carpet cleaner; book collections; large garbage containers; lamps; glassware; extension cords (many sizes); electronics; Christmas decorations & lights; & much more.

Thankfully our moving sale was a great success and now a thing of the past. Gayle can begin in earnest to pack for our upcoming move to Manitoba. The above photo shows us the day after our sale celebrating that the sale is over. Since we will be downsizing a great deal, we were happy for the popularity of re-cycling. We have had good use and pleasure from many of our possessions which have outlived their usefulness for us and can now be re-used by others. Last week was truly an ordeal. Gayle had been gathering and culling things for weeks, placing them on display in our garage and leaving the car out on our driveway exposed to the elements and various bird droppings. Ian had managed to sort through many of the tools he had collected and used for years on various machining, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and repair projects but had to be banned from the pricing job Gayle and her neighbourhood helpers were doing. He was appalled at the low prices they put on his items but reluctantly agreed that we needed to get rid of his ‘treasures.’ (A word to the wise: Never put a Scotsman in charge of pricing–or paying for anything for that matter.)

Unfortunately, Ian took a turn for the worse on the Monday prior to our sale, waking up at 7 a.m. without the use of his right arm. He quickly woke Gayle and, while he was describing his symptoms, he lost feeling in his whole right side, including movement of the right side of his mouth. Recognizing that he was having a stroke, Gayle called 911 and within a few minutes Ian was being taken away by ambulance. He was paralyzed on his right side for about three and a half hours when suddenly, as quickly as the paralysis had occurred, it went away, with Ian able to move his right arm and leg and return to talking normally. The diagnosis was that he had had a TIA – transient aschemic attack, sometimes called a mini-stroke. Later in the day he had another TIA, with the same kind of paralysis occuring and then abating within an hour. A hospital stay of five days with new drug- and physio-therapy followed. He came home from hospital the afternoon before our moving sale and the next day slept through the entire sale, along with our dog Misty who kept him company, having missed him terribly for the five previous days. Now Ian is recuperating at home, having missed out on acting as cashier for our moving sale and manning a book signing table as planned. He also managed to re-read his novel, Beyond the Phantom Battle: Mystery at Loch Ashie, while in hospital and even sold a few copies of the book to staff. Here he is resting on our front porch and enjoying our lovely spring weather.


 Besides all the wonderful help from Nell, Sue, Marlene and Polly, four of our neighbours who assisted with setting up and running the moving sale, there were two memorable happenings during the actual sale. We so enjoyed the young boy, about seven years’ old, who arrived with a small money pouch and his mother and aunt in tow. He had lots of coins, amounting to about $3.00. Immediately he eyed a large mounted puzzle of about 30 colourful tulips in a vaseTulip puzzle as it leaned against the side of our house along the driveway. Announcing that he wanted to buy it for his grandma “who was sick”, he headed into the garage and, after a few minutes, came out with a plastic recorder (flute) and some pink and red valentine leis. Then he started worrying whether he would have enough money to buy all of these items. Gayle assured him that, even if he was a bit short, she was sure they could strike a deal for the lot. Not to worry, though; he had exactly enough change. Well, his smile was big enough to make the whole day a success. Then Marline pointed out the box of “freebees”–items that we probably couldn’t sell but just wanted to get rid of. He loaded up on a baking pan with lid that had a broken catch, filling it with a number of cassette and VHS tapes as his mother gently reminded him that they didn’t have a cassette or VHS player to play them on. He took them anyway,happily piling up his load of goodies, and anxious to get home. His mom just rolled her eyes and followed him back to their car, as the boy muttered, “Won’t Grandma be happy. She’s sick, you know.”

The second unusual “sale” was rather pathetic. We were reluctant to part with any of the seven clay masks we had brought back from Mexico but knew that we wouldn’t have room to hang all of them in our new home so decided to list them in the moving sale but would not part with them at “garage sale prices”. Gayle had investigated the cost for Mexican clay masks with a local dealer who said she would no longer be carrying them because they had gone up so much in price. What we had paid the equivalent of $40 for in 2005 was now selling, even in Mexican gift shops, for over $100. We had decided to price them at $10 (for one that had been broken and repaired) to $25 for the smaller ones and $35 – $40 for the larger ones. Towards the end of our sale a man came into the garage, made a bee-line for the Mexican table, picked up a smaller mask with a snake running down the face, snakemancarried it along with him as he perused a few more tables and then headed out to the driveway. Gayle followed him out and asked if she could help him. He then replied, “I just want to buy this piece. It’s quite a bargain.” As he handed Gayle a quarter, she laughingly informed him that the price was 25 dollars not 25 cents! She returned the quarter to him and he returned the mask to her! We are not sure if he was trying to pull a fast one or just rather dense.