Settling In to Victoria Life…

Well my son, Alan Blake, will be pleased.  I finished reading the first novel of my Father’s Day gifts from him pictured above, Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch.  I am now reading the second novel, Moon Over Soho, which picks up right where the first novel ended.  Then I will move on to the third novel, Whispers Underground.  After that I shall have to purchase the other four novels in the seven novel series (so far).  Set in London the novels recount the experiences of a local constable who is a wizard apprentice learning the arts of magic.  His master/mentor and he investigate the London crimes that are suffused in some way with magic aspects.  Yes, the London police have, deep in the background, a magic division.  Truly good reads so far.

My Telus television service includes DVR recording functionality so I have recorded over two dozen movies so far to watch at my leisure, blowing away the three minute commercial breaks with fast-forward.  If I ever see a Hallmark Mysteries & Suspense film like Aurora Teagarten, Garage Sale, or Fixer-Upper mysteries on the channel guide, I always record them, even if I saw them before the move to Canada.  I don’t actually have the Hallmark Channel up here, but the movies appear on the guide on other channels, so I am not complaining.  I am also recording and viewing the fourth season television series of Lost Girl having seen the first three seasons before the move.  And every day I record and view later in the evening the NBC Evening News with Lester Holt.  So television viewing goes well.

Come Tuesday we hope for some relief.  This part of the Pacific Northwest has been suffering under what locals call a “heat wave” these past three weeks.  In Seattle, 81 miles away, their temperatures are running in the mid-90s and here in Victoria we have been in the high seventies, even eighty degrees a few times.  Cooler north air is expected by Tuesday dropping our temperatures here back into the seasonal mid-sixties.  Of course, for me, temperatures in the mid-seventies are NOT a heat wave in any sense of the phrase.  But the mid-sixties in the afternoon will be most welcome.

Even after the people at Sound Solutions installed a mechanical on/off switch for the after-market backup camera in my car, the battery was still being drained continually at the rate of 2.4 amps when the car engine and accessories were  switched off.  A totally dead battery last Thursday evening validating that fact again.  So on Saturday the Sound Solutions people uninstalled the backup camera system and on/off switch placing the car back in the condition in which I drove it off the Glen Oak Ford lot the first week in July.  So far, so good.  Maybe the amperage drain has stopped.

Being Sunday I made the morning worship service at the Shelbourne Street Church of Christ.  Afterwards I joined the lunch group and we went to the Food Court at Hillside Mall across the street from Hillside Coffee and Tea (where I went Friday evenings for poetry readings).  I found my lunch at the A & W counter.  Their root beer is as good as ever.  Onion rings were tasty too.

Since 1991 there has been each summer here the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival with outdoor productions on the Lansdowne campus of Camosun University, some seven miles from my door.  So on two occasions I have read Shakespeare’s play in the afternoon and then viewed the play in the evening at the Festival.  Over the last two weeks I have read and viewed Pericles, Prince of Tyre and The Tempest.  The Tempest was the last play penned by Shakespeare, scholars think.  Good productions, both.

In today’s Victoria Sunday paper, the Times Colonist, I noted that there are three separate newcomer’s clubs for women, all of which end membership on the fourth anniversary.  I guess they really only want true newcomers.  So now I know.  Live here four full years and will cease to be a newcomer.  There also listed was The Greater Victoria Men’s and Newcomers Club.  So I went online, read all about the men’s club, and joined up and paid the $25 CAD annual fee.  I have left a voice message for the coordinator of the Book Club which meets monthly.  And I have spoken to the coordinator of the Social Bridge Club as well.  Tuesday evening I will drive to his house and we will go from there to the home of that evening’s host and hostess for Social Bridge playing.  I will simply watch them play since I last played a game of Bridge in the seventies.  I am out of practice.  Then the following weeks I will become one of the participant players.   I have also RSVP’d the Pub Luncheon on Thursday from 11:30 am until 2:00 pm at the Glo Restaurant in Burnside about five miles from my door.  So going forward I may well be making a weekly luncheon, a weekly bridge game, and a monthly book club evening as a part of my membership in the Men’s and Newcomers Club.  And I can remain a member of the group so long as I live here and pay my annual dues.  No automatic being thrown out on the fourth anniversary.

Oh, one sad, sad event yesterday on Saturday.  I was in the mood for Mexican food so online I found a place downtown, La Tortilla Mexicana Restaurant.  I ordered the Guacamole Salad appetizer and the entre Chicken Enchiladas with Chipotle Sauce.  Well the salad was not at all like in Texas being mostly a veggie salad with chunks of avocado thrown in.  An enchilada was a small, round soft corn tortilla with shredded chicken folded over inside.  No cheese. No spice. No sauce inside.  Folded, not rolled.  The entree salad was shredded raw cabbage with a tomato slice on top.  The rice and beans were quite unremarkable. Bland and tasteless as again, no spice or cheese on top.  Even my accompanying Mango Margarita was rather tasteless.  In fairness, the server told me up front that the food was Mexican NOT Tex-Mex.  I guess he noted my Texas accent when I said “howdy” upon his arrival at my table.  In any event, he was so right.  That was not the “mexican” food that I had in mind.  Cross that one off the list.  I did leave a ten percent tip, as it was not my server’s fault that the Kitchen staff had no idea how to cook mexican food, cheesy and spicy in every universe I have ever lived within.

And now you know, reader, what I have been up to as I have been settling in to my new life here in Victoria.  Come Wednesday I will have been living here for one full calendar month.  Wow.

Hasta La Vista, Adios until next time.  Gary


Ground Suite Photos (again)

And here are the last of the interior photos of the ground suite from top left to right: View from the front door on the side of the residence down the hallway to the living area, kitchen, and dining nook; bath room featuring the Phantom of the Opera from the Phantages Theatre in Toronto over the toilet; bath room mirror, sink, and counter; bedroom looking inward from the windows; bedroom looking from the hallway door; and bedroom looking inward from the closet area.  With these photos and those in the prior posts the entire interior of the ground suite here in Victoria, British Columbia, have now been displayed for your viewing pleasure.

On Thursday, 19 July, I spend part of the afternoon reading William Shakespeare’s play Pericles, Prince of Tyre.  Then after trying out a recommended Greek restaurant nearby, Il Greco Restaurant and Pizzeria, I drove the six miles or so over to the Camosun College’s Lansdowne Campus for the local Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival held annually since 1991 to view outdoors the play, Pericles, Prince of Tyre.  I should have taken Dad’s blue sweater as the temperature dropped by nightfall to 58 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fortunately, the Festival provided blankets.  I will repeat the read-the play-then-view-the-play one day next week for the Festival’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  I will take Dad’s sweater next week.

My 2009 Chrysler 300 Signature Series sedan finds itself back at Sound Solutions this Friday morning where they are again attempting to solve the “drain the battery of power” problem caused we think by the recently installed back-up camera.  Today they are installing a mechanical automatic power switch for the camera that supposedly will switch the camera on when the car engine is started and switch it off when the engine is cut off.  They also will make sure the radio stations play properly as they have not done so since the sedan’s last visit to their shop.  Hopefully, today’s intervention will solve the problems.

A few recent firsts here at the ground suite have included using the two-patty George Foreman Grill to prepare a couple of hamburger steaks, using the stovetop to whip up some Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, using the stovetop to prepare some Original Aunt Jemima pancakes where I burned the first three of them.  But the other five pancakes turned out just fine, buttered, with Canadian Maple Syrup, and accompanied by pre-cooked out-of-the-package bacon slices.  I managed to make my final, I think, stock-up-the-pantry visit to Quality Foods.  From now on, visits to Quality Foods, a supermarket, should be just to replace things eaten.

Tonight the PlanetEarthPoetry Collective holds their open-mike poetry reading at Hillside Coffee and Tea.  Tonight food poetry takes center stage as we are having readings from Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food.  The anthology was compiled by Rachel Rose (former Vancouver Poet Laureate).  Island writers reading tonight include Stephen Berg, Kate Braid, David Eso, Wendy Morton, Emily Olsen, Pam Porter, and D. C. Reid.  If so moved, I must write a food poem today to read at the open-mike tonight.

Since my one-way airplane flight landed here 30 June, it is interesting to note that I have been here as a resident for a full three weeks, twenty-one days.  Wow.  My how time flies.

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Cherrio, till next time.  Enjoy the photos here and in previous posts.  I think the interior of the ground suite turned out really well.  Feels like home, almost.  Still feels a bit like I am on vacation.  But I am not on vacation I tell myself.

Ground Suite Office

Day Sixteen of my retirement here in British Columbia.  A Yellow Cab brought me back this morning to this ground suite from the GlenOak Ford dealership where my new pre-owned Chrysler 300 Signature Series four-door sedan is being serviced today.  Saturday evening the engine would not turn over.  Road Assistance sent a tow truck and the driver successfully jumped the battery to start the engine.  He suggested I drive forty-five minutes on the highways to recharge the battery.  So I made the fifty-mile round trip from here to the BC Ferries (to Vancouver) on the north end of this peninsula of Vancouver Island.  The car started up to make the Sunday trip to church and again for the return trip home.  But this morning it, again, would not start.  My gracious landlord, Joe de Frias jumped the battery and I was able to drive the car to the dealership for service.  Joe thinks it sounds like a failing alternator as opposed to a bad battery.  I shall learn later today when they call me what was the ultimate problem and fix.  Glad I purchased the four-year extended mechanical warranty when I purchased the car.  Today’s repair cannot cost me more than $150 CAD out of pocket, whatever the total invoice charge.

And here are six photos of my ground suite second bedroom never intended for a bed, but rather to be my home office.  My application for a Right of Permanent Residence in Canada Card with the Immigration posse in Sydney, Nova Scotia, asserts that I am moving here to engage in self-employment as a Poet and Writer.  Well now, one cannot do that without a properly outfitted office from which to solicit avenues of publication of one’s poetry, memoirs, and the like.  Much of what I shipped up here from Midland was for the office as you see in the photos.

More Photos

And here are more photos of the residence all in order.  From top left to right: Dining Area with my attractive cardboard table and two folding chairs; Dining Area adjacent to the living area; Kitchen seen from the Dining Area with Living Area to the right; Living Area seen from the kitchen; Living Area seen from the hallway to the Living/Kitchen/Dining Area; and the Living Area television seen from the recliner, love seat, or sofa.

Enjoy the views here in View Royal municipality part of greater Victoria, British Columbia.  So fine to have everything unboxed and arranged properly.

Finally! All Boxes Empty

As you can see from the photo above of the living area, I am now completely moved into my new residence in Victoria.  All the boxes are unpacked, books on the shelves, wall hangings on the walls, everything.

Well, I did run out of book shelf space and had to repack two small (10″ cubic) boxes with left-over books.  I have ordered from The Brick, a local furniture outfit, two cherry wood three-shelf bookcases which when placed side by side will fill a nice space next to the refrigerator in the dining area (out of site on the right above) which will be the home for those books.

I will spare you all the gory details of the getting-the-residence ready process which was my primary daily activity since my last post below.  I did take time out to make poetry nights on Friday evening and then Wednesday evening at two locations, both with an open mike.  I read my “Rusty Cat Sunning and Still” poem at both venues and at the second one I began with the “Sci Fi Channel” since the time limit there was five minutes.

Mary Nell suggested I name the 2007 Chrysler 300 Signature Series sedan after its beach sand colour, so “Sandy” it is.  The car now has 35,340 miles on it (I had to do the math since the odometer is expressed in kilometers).

I have about twenty more or so photos of the interior of the residence to post here, but I have yet to figure out how to post more than one image on a blog posting.  Expect to see more photos in coming posts.

All for now.  Adios.



First Four Days Report–Willis’s Tired

Above is another picture of the new pre-owned car.

My flight landed Saturday, 30 June, at the Victoria International Airport which is in Sidney a half hour drive north of Victoria.  Rented a car and headed south to locate the Eagle’s Rest Bed and Breakfast where I stayed for three nights.  Excellent breakfasts and conversation with my hostess.  Ran by the ground suite to pick up a key from my landlord and lady in the event they might be at church the next morning when Telus was scheduled to show up to install my wireless internet and cable television services.  The ground suite was immaculate and quite empty of the prior tenants.  I must remember how clean and in order the place was for when the day comes I move on to another residence (or have to leave Canada), I must leave it the same way.

The Telus technician showed up promptly on time at 11:00 am Sunday and took three and one half hours to get everything done.  The Sunday was a national holiday, Canada Day, so he was being paid a premium by Telus to service my residence.  Just before he left, he gave me his business card and told me to call him directly if anything goes wrong the next thirty days.  No service provider in Texas ever did such a thing.  Five Star Service for sure.

After he left I drove to Ashley Home Furnishings (I think we have one in Midland, Texas) to shop for a bed.  I purchased a queen size powered electronic bed frame, mattress, mattress cover, a media chest for one of my two televisions, and a matching dresser.  All for about $2,400 USD.  Not bad.  Delivery was arranged for Tuesday, 3 July.  At the suggestion of the Ashley saleslady I went next to Winners Homestore where I purchased queen sized fitted sheet, flat sheet, two pillows, pillow cases, comforter, and matching pillow shams.  I then stowed the purchases at the ground suite.

Then it was fish and chips at the Mile Six Restaurant and Pub on the Island Highway.  Excellent.  Best such I have had in many, many years.  Then I headed to the Bed & Breakfast and called it a Sunday.

The national holiday was observed on the Monday meaning government offices were closed but most everything else was open for business.  First up was shopping for cleaning supplies at Quality Foods.  I had a full basket of just that kind of stuff included a broom and mop.  After stowing all of the supplies at the ground suite I headed to Walmart.  Microwave oven, toaster oven, mixer, food chopper, utility utensils, hand-held dust buster and such like filled my basket.  With all that load squirreled away in the residence, I returned to Quality Foods for food.  On this foray I took it easy and was quite judicious making it a point not to go overboard.  I recalled that I had three boxes coming on the moving van with canned goods.  With all that put away at the ground suite it was time for supper.  I tried out Jasmine’s Family Restaurant down the road from Six Mile Pub on the same highway.  Fish and chips again only onion rings instead of French fries.  Not near as good as the prior night, but for desert the strawberry shortcake was a grand slam hit.

Then it was time to crash at the bed and breakfast and call it a Monday.  I do make it a point to telephone Mary Nell Baird with my report for the day.  We talk from 25 to 45 minutes each evening.  Likely we will keep up the daily conversations until my residence is put fully in order with all my stuff and new purchases in place.

Tuesday, 3 July, was a stellar day.  First up was being present for the delivery of the bedroom suite purchased on Sunday.  At one point I went to my local credit union to trade my US cash dollars out for Canadian dollars. While there I applied for a Canadian VISA credit card to go with the debit card I already had in hand.  I was approved with a beginner credit line since I have no credit history in Canada just yet.

I returned to the Glen Oak Ford dealership to see if they had come through on the assignment I left them with that first week of June.  Find me a pre-owned Lincoln Town Car or Lincoln MKZ to purchase.  Sadly, none could be found as Lincolns are not common in this part of the world.  Taking all the afternoon and some of the evening I did ultimately drive off their lot in my freshly purchased set of wheels.  They even turned my rental car in to National for me.  From the prior post, you can see that I purchased a 2009 Chrysler 300 four door sedan with only 35,000 miles on it.  It was a great deal.

I also purchased a comprehensive four-year warranty on all the mechanics.  If, say, an alternator needs replacement, I pay $150 deductible and am done.  My sister and brother-in-law are big on the warranty thing, so I took the plunge.  I also paid for a year of my insurance at a great price as a senior driver with no Canadian driving history (to drive up my premium).  One million Canadian dollars liability as well as comprehensive and collision coverage in the policy.  I am all set.  Still need a name for the car, people.

The dealership had to fetch the cars from another dealership mid-day (I was looking a two possibilities), so I headed over to a furniture store named The Brick to look for some living room furniture.  For $500 USD including delivery I purchased on clearance a three-person sofa and a two-person love seat in mocha brown.  Definitely pre-owned showing some wear, but what a bargain.

After supper at the McDonald’s drive through I called it a Tuesday and set my alarm for early, early Wednesday morning.

At 8:30 am Monday I met my Quality Move Management, Inc. driver, Mike, in downtown Victoria at the Customs Office.  There was some dicey moments in the conversation with the customs officer.  While my application for a Right of Permanent Residence in Canada Card is being processed, I am now here on a six-month tourist visa.  The officer said most tourists show up with a couple of luggage bags and a carryon, not a moving van full of personal effects and furniture.  I had all my paperwork with me and was able to show the officer that I was financially secure and could afford moving all my stuff out of country should things go sideways with the Immigration folk and my application requiring me to leave Canada.  So he approved my stuff being unloaded at the residence by Mike and his helper.

From 9:45 am until noon, Mike and his assistant unloaded the van and by noon all my effects and furniture were in the residence.  They left and I left for lunch of some Greek ribs, broccoli, and garlic-cheese bread at Joe’s Original Restaurant and Bar.  From 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm I unpacked boxes and put things away.  Then I had had enough.  Off to Quality Foods for some more tea for the residence fridge and some spring rolls from the deli for supper.  I am typing this as I make the spring rolls disappear.

My agenda for Thursday, 5 July, consists of being here all day to receive the delivery of the sofa and love seat and to unpack boxes and put things away.  I am saving unboxing the books for next to last.  I will unbox the wall hanging last as they have to be hung up on the walls.  No books or wall hangings will be addressed tomorrow.

Oh, the one big delivery glitch?  My five foot long, five foot high, wooden bookcase fell apart and the moving company, at present, has mislaid one of the six support posts.  My landlord and I have conferred and together we can put the bookcase back together, making a new support post if the lost one stays lost. The minor glitch consists of three broken crystal glasses, one West Point Academy wine goblet, and a china salad bowl.  Could find a few more as I unpack the rest of the boxes.  I am not losing sleep over the broken glass and china items.

Well, time to post this report, call Mary Nell for the nightly chat, and catch some sleep.  I haven’t opened the television boxes yet, so I will not be tempted to watch anything tonight.  In case you missed it, I slept here for the first time last night, Tuesday.  Oh, Happy Independence Day.  Can’t say I miss the fireworks.

Till next time, cheerio.

PS  Too tired to proofread the above report.  Sorry for any errors.  Retired English teachers are sensitive on the subject of good grammar and spelling.







Needs a Name

I am open to suggestions for a name for my new set of wheels purchased today at Glen Oaks Ford in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. About 35,000 miles on this single-owner Chrysler 300 four door sedan.  Suggestions?

Been on the ground here now for some 80 hours or so and will sleep in a bed in my leased residence for the first time tonight.  I was at a Bed and Breakfast the first three nights as there was no bed here to sleep on.

I would go on and on about the last three days, but it is a pain to type on my keyboard sitting on the floor.  My desk is on the moving van which might be unloaded tomorrow.

So in the comments make name suggestions or send me an email.