Tag Archives: packing

Step 70: Final Detritus Expands to Fill Space and Time

Despite your best attempts, despite all well-laid plans, despite everything, the last few items in your house on moving day will suddenly expand into piles and mounds of inexplicable flotsam and jetsam, which you must dispose of before you can leave.

I was tired. I was exhausted. My brain was mush. I chose the least elegant solution possible – leave it on the curb!

To all my neighbours, I am deeply sorry. (I hope there was something in there you could use?) To my garbage collectors, likewise, sorry sorry. To my friends to whom I left the last trip to Goodwill and the last bags of excess garbage… I grovel before you in abject sorryness.

(In my admittedly lame defense the reason for the desperate ditching act will be elaborated in the next post…)

(re. photo above: fabulous, no? Art installation by Moreno di Trapani, photo by Gianpietro Malosio)

Step 69: A Condiments Cleanse

One of the last tasks of the last day was the final emptying of the fridge. (Yeah, should have done it sooner. Didn’t. Okay? Don’t judge me!)

I can’t be the only one who collects bizarre condiments and keeps them for eternity. The crabapple jelly. The fish sauce. The curry paste. The ginger syrup. The odd chutney that I didn’t really like but kept. The salad dressings (why so many?). The mustards. The capers. Pickled preserves and congealed jams. Take-out packets of soy and plum sauce. Ancient tabasco sauce and prehistoric HP.

When you’re just moving across town your condiments come along for the ride. I mean, why start all over, right? The beauty of a loooong-distance move is that there is absolutely no temptation to keep any of these items. It was a clean sweep and I felt a wild sense of liberation. Free as a bird!

I would recommend this to anyone feeling down, in a rut, in need of a big change but paralyzed with doubt about what exactly to change. Just go and throw out all your condiments! You will feel fantastic!!

Step 64: Load the Truck

Inflict another annoyance on soon-to-be-ex-neighbours, as monster truck pulls up. Grovel about asking people to move their cars. Panic over last minute packing. And then panic some more. Marvel as movers manoeuvres the piano. Then get back to panicking. Hyperventilate and dash about. Repeat.

And I KNEW I didn’t need a truck that big! My stuff only took up about 1/4 of the space in that thing. Even so… I came by train to Toronto 24 years ago with all my belongings in a trunk. The accumulation of detritus is sobering. I am a tiny snowball rolling down a hill, transforming effortlessly into a colossal town-crusher of an ice bomb.

But, I hasten to emphasize, I didn’t FILL the truck. I didn’t. I hope my neighbours don’t think I filled the truck. How many of them saw the truck anyway? My belongings only took up the front part of it. I really don’t haveĀ that much stuff. I am not a candidate for that hoarders show! (Am I?)

(Hmm. Why am I so embarrassed by my possessions? I rather like my possessions – that’s why I possess them.)

Ah well, back to work. Bubble wrap the artwork, seal up the boxes, stay out of the way of the movers, make the keep-it-or-toss-it decision about a million times in rapid succession… The boss grew weary of the whole procedure pretty quickly, and defected to a friend’s place for the afternoon. I soldiered on, until…

… bye bye stuff! See ya on the other side!


Step 63: Accept Chaos as Inevitable

Moving Day. It came, it went, and here’s the nugget of wisdom I have gleaned from that experience:

Unless you are some kind of minimalist freak with no possessions, Moving Day will Always be a Train Wreck.

It doesn’t matter if you start packing and organizing six months in advance. It doesn’t matter if you are pathologically methodical about it. It doesn’t even matter if you have a killer packing list app. No matter what your state of preparedness, the last day will be a crazy mess. And you will be a crazy mess too, flinging things into boxes willy nilly and dashing about on the brink of total mental and physical collapse.

Despite all your hard work and cleverness, Moving Day will be a disaster. Accept this, take a deep breath and move on…

Step 46: Moving out the Furniture

I’m finding buyers for the larger furniture, thankfully. And during the Boss’s toy sale (see Step 44), we were actually emptying her room of bed and dresser!

rooms are starting to look like this

Also now gone are the basement couch/futon, the kitchen table and toy storage bins. I sent out an email with photos of everything to friends and neighbours, with fantastic results: 8 large items offered up, and found homes for 6 of them within 24 hours!

Step 45: Live With the Boxes

a bouquet fresh from a friend’s garden

Step 43: Pack a Box. Repeat.

I started with the boxes months ago, feeling all uber-organized and efficient. Slowly I prowled the house looking for detritus – the not-to-be-purged tchotchkes and doodads I could whisk away into perfectly labeled, stackable cubes.

And now, at box #90, the place is starting to look a little sparse. Starting!


And it’s so soothing to pack a box. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the to-do list spiralling out of control, I just sit down and pack a box. (contented sigh)

The secret to Happy Packing lies in your supplies. These days the Most Valuable Player in my household is this:

O tape gun! I love you!

Step 35: House Staging

For those of you who have never staged a home to be sold, this involves slowly, carefully and meticulously stripping your home of every last molecule of personality.

You’ve also got to remove furniture and possessions until every room seems ridiculously spacious.

A stack of stuff to wave my wand over and make disappear.

The illusion we want to create is that the inhabitants of this house just have so much room they don’t have a clue what to do with it all! They’re probably moving to a smaller place, to escape the sheer oppressive Vastness of this House.

We’ve got so much space we keep all our furniture two feet away from the wall.

Our home is now so spare that it echoes, and there is nothing useful at hand. We’ve gone from 4 couches to just 2, so there is a lot less lounging going on. We do have quite a number of hard benches to perch on though, birdlike…

Perching porch

And the place has become a basket-fetishist’s dream…

How to Annihilate Useful Storage Space: Teeny Baskets!

Stylistically, our house’s fashion makeover was like going from –

Eddie (right)…

… to Twiggy

Now be honest. Who would you rather party with??

Eddie and Patsy

or Twiggy?

Step 19: Get Boxes. Repeat.

I thought this was a no-brainer: the best boxes bar none for packing books are liquor boxes. Strong, durable, and not too big. (I’ve had movers thank me specifically for not putting books in big, too-heavy boxes.) The larger liquor stores have stacks of them by the front wall and I always thought I was doing them a favour by taking a few off their hands.

Until I was scolded by a fretful store manager, who limited me to three boxes from the wall-full he was straightening.

Is this commonplace? Is this a Toronto thing? Whenever I asked if I could take boxes before, the cashier gave me a “of course, what are you even asking for?” look.

New box strategy: visit liquor stores on weekends, when manager isn’t working.

Step 11: Find a Packing App

Oh yeah, I am now one of those. Got the iPhone and use it for so many things that I’m surprised when it rings and I remember it’s a phone.

Not for everyone, not gonna proselytize here. And yes, I am wary of spending every minute staring at the damn thing instead of interacting with real living breathing people.

But it does have its uses.

There are millions of apps for this gadget so I figured there must be something for making lists of boxes and contents, etc. Naturally there’s not a lot to choose from and they are pretty elementary (as opposed to the stunning graphics and complexity of more important things like games!) But I did find one which is doing the job quite nicely – I type in items as I pack them and upon arrival I can do a search to find out which box my automatic card shuffler is in. (Yes, I have one. It belonged to my grandfather if you must know.)

There was one app that was just too obsessive-compulsive, even for me. For each box you could print out a bar code sticker, and as they are unloaded from the truck you scan each one so you know right away if any are missing. Whoah nelly!

The one I picked in the end is called Moving Van, and it’s quite good, with one major flaw: there doesn’t seem to be any way that you can find out how many boxes there are! Doesn’t that seem a) fairly elementary and b) incredibly useful?

Oh well, it was only $2.

Silly me, wanting an app for an actual useful, practical, Real Life, Non Play purpose! Back to Angry Birds now… (No! Not really.)

p.s. This kind of app is only good for those, like me, who are packing way in advance, ie. one box a day. For those with a shorter deadline, doing all that typing would probably just take too long.