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Moving in the summer: how to do it right

Moving in the summer can be very hot and sweaty, but sadly it is the most popular time to change homes because the weather is nice — no one wants to move in the snow, right!? With proper planning, patience and a good attitude, moving can go from being a gruelling experience to a fun adventure to your new house. And Women’s Post is here to help you out with these easy tips.

The first thing you need to do is to plan how you are going to move your belongings from one residence to another. If you are moving cities, renting a truck and finding a driver is ideal. Don’t forget to compare rates of rentals ahead of times to save on costs. If you have fewer belongings and are moving a short distance, try asking a friend to borrow a car or a truck for the day instead. Don’t forget to be nice and pay for gas!

Once you have figured out how to get your furniture and knick-knacks from one home to another, the next step is to transfer services to your new residence. Call Canada Post and organize a mail forward date to your new home. Also, call your utility provider — Internet, cable, and hydro — to notify them of your move so that you aren’t paying bills for your house’s next tenants. If you are moving out of the city, ensure your Internet provider is offered in your new destination. Being without Internet in a new home is a pain and is easier when taken care of before moving day.

The next step is to make the ultimate packing kit of the century, which must include packing boxes and buckets, packing tape, markers, coloured labels, and scissors (or an x-acto knife). To make your move slightly more green, invest in recyclable containers that can be re-used after the move at your new home. Use dresser drawers as packing space instead of emptying them. It is a space saver in the moving truck and helps reduce the amount of boxes or buckets needed.

When you begin packing, remember to have towels and linens on hand to protect fragile items. Don’t forget to label each box of else you will have to go through every box to find your favourite mug (label: kitchenware). Organize boxes into different areas so that the movers (or your friends) will have an easier time loading belongings into the truck. Using colour-coded labels is an easy way to make sure each box goes to the right area in the house.

On moving day, leave out tools and allen keys to deconstruct furniture. Also have tape and ziplock bags on hand to attach the relevant tools and screws to the piece of furniture — no one wants an Ikea moment (I’m sure it’s fine with only four screws…). Load heavy pieces first while the moving crew has more stamina and then load the lighter boxes when everyone is beginning to grow tired and there is less room in the truck. Finally, purge any unwanted items. Moving is a great way to get rid of any extra crap in your home.

Most importantly — and DO NOT forget this — provide cold refreshments and a thank-you pizza and beer for your friends and movers. It is hot and heavy work, and no one will help you again if you aren’t courteous about their efforts. Other than that, enjoy your new digs and happy unpacking!

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The smell of home

By Diane Baker Mason

They say the closest memory-related sense is scent. It is not a sight or sound that triggers nostalgia, but a smell: the odor of mom’s baking bread, or of the hayloft in your cousin’s barn, or of the pine-tree-shaped air freshener that hung from the rearview in your Grandpa’s Chevy. Not the taste of the bread, not the feel of the hay, not the roar of the engine. It’s the smell of these things that takes you home.
Home is on my mind lately, since I am considering moving. One of my boys has moved out, and the other is soon to do so. I have fallen in love with the Beaches in east Toronto, and although I can’t realistically afford to move there, reality has never stopped me in the past, so move I intend to do. Therefore, I have had to take a hard, mean, look at my own condo apartment, which has deteriorated over the last three years to disaster area status. I tend to be away on weekends; my sons were not. Nor were their friends. And I had long ago given up on trying to cajole/nag/train them into doing even basic tidying (which I don’t like to do either). So my condo not only looked awful — it smelled awful, too.
I hired a trio of disaster-area cleanup experts and together with my remaining son, we stripped the condo of debris, and applied paint-stripper-quality cleaning fluids to all surfaces. Even the guinea pig got a “Total Home Makeover,” with a bleach-and-scouring pad treatment of his cage bottom, and cedar shavings. Instant memories of my pet hamsters, from when I was twelve years old: suddenly, with the smell of the cedar, I could feel those tiny soft bodies wriggling in my much-smaller hands.
Despite the cleaning, my apartment still doesn’t feel like home. Maybe it’s because I never saw it as home, but as a place I bought in a panic, to give myself and my then-barely-teenage sons a place to live. I don’t love it the way I loved my other houses or even the bachelorette flat I rented when I left my marriage eight years ago. And despite its professional cleansing (and my remaining son’s sudden, almost-religious conversion to Tidy Clean Person, something for which I’m hugely grateful), I still don’t get that “welcome home” feeling when I walk in the door.
Part of the problem is that the cleaning hasn’t kept the smells at bay. If smells could make a sound, my apartment would be a cacophony. First of all, there is our rancid dog. Licorice is a Lab mutt, and she loves the water (unless it comes in bath format). In the mornings, she prances through the Humber River; in the afternoons, she fords the streams winding through High Park; on weekends she is either swimming in Lake Ontario or sitting (yes, sitting) for hours at a time in the shallows at Bass Lake, hypnotized by the minnows. The problem with all this water is that it leaves bacteria on her underfur, which dies, which decays, which causes my dog to stink like a week’s worth of rotting garbage. I’ve had people get off the elevator to avoid sharing it with her. Baths and deodorant powders help for only a day or so. The only cure is winter, when all that water freezes over.
So there’s the smell of dog. There’s the smell of our musty old furniture. There’s the smell of my son’s cooking (he loves curries and fried corned beef). There are my son’s friends and their beer and cigarillos. There’s the guinea pig’s cage (a mountain of cedar shavings won’t cover the fact that it’s still a guinea pig cage). The place just doesn’t smell like me.
Hopefully there will be an animal-loving, beer-swilling, curry-eating tribe of Visigoths interested in buying a three-bedroom two-bath condo in a park-like setting, to whom it will smell just like the place they grew up. As for me and my bacteria-soaked dog, we’ve got our sights on someplace new. And she’ll either have to learn not to smell like dead fish, or I’ll have to learn to associate that smell with home. I guess anything’s possible.

*** First published in the Nov. 2005 print edition of Women’s Post