Well friends, we have successfully installed ourselves in Victoria.
It has been an incredibly eventful week.
On Wednesday May 8, I worked my last shift at Tofino Hospital. Many of you know just how much I *loved* my job there. The workplace culture is exceptional, the team spirit is strong, and as a hospital employee you know you are an important part of the whole West Coast community. I am dearly going to miss working there.
I have also had to say some heartbreaking goodbyes to amazing, and now lifelong friends. I am a tenacious friend, once we have bonded. It’s brutal to say so long for now, but I have a small handful of lifelong friends, and once added to the ranks of lifers, I find that we can always pick up where we left off with Skype / FaceTime / old fashioned phone calls, and in-person visits.
So Wednesday was hard… but something amazing happened that day.
It is hospital tradition to have a pot luck when a staff member leaves. It so happened that my last day was also the last day of another long-term employee, who felt gutted as well to be leaving but also had to go for reasons beyond his control. We were could understand each other’s feelings – accepting necessary change – optimistic for the future – but deeply grieving the losses.
The staff made poems for us to show their appreciation – I’ll post that in a later entry. There was cake and so much delicious food. Retired staffers came to bid us good luck! It’s such a special place!
And then, unbelievably, someone looked out to the ocean – pointed – and shouted “WHALES!”
Tofino Hospital faces an ocean inlet visible from the helipad, next to the picnic area. I have eaten lunch there for YEARS. I have heard of whales being spotted in that part of the inlet but never seen them… and guess what species?
The third time in my life that I see orcas, it’s my last day at TGH.
The first time was on a trip out of Tofino shortly after my grandmother died. The second time was on my honeymoon – and was the same pod, T109s, hundreds of miles away from my first sighting outside of Victoria.
This third time was on my last day at Tofino Hospital, my last week living in this place I have lived for 10 years.
Orcas. My magic whales, there when I’m joyful and sad, there to say hello from heaven, and everything will be fine.
Orcas, making a kill – every time I have seen them, they were eating, animated, thriving.
I couldn’t confirm exactly which pod was there, but checking in with local whale watchers groups, it seems likely the pod to bid me farewell was the T023s, who had recently returned to Tofino after several years’ absence.
Here is an older photo of a couple members of the T023 pod aka “Motley Crew” by Tofino Photography
Maybe one day, I’ll return to Tofino too. Maybe. I’m not going to shut any doors.
Thursday was a day of packing and gentle, occasional weeping.
Friday the movers showed up early! We were ready for them! They worked so quickly it was thrilling – but we still had a six-hour car journey ahead of us.
The movers wouldn’t be delivering our stuff until Saturday, (working hour regulations) so our plan was to drive down Friday with the cats, air mattresses, and a bare-minimum of stuff to get us through the evening and following morning. Our little car was STUFFED. Cats, cat food, litter box, litter, air mattresses, bedding, pillows, overnight bag – it filled up our compact Chevy Sonic very quickly! Sweetie even had a food bag stashed between her feet.
It was also record-hot on Friday. 30 degrees Celsius which is significantly hotter than it usually gets, and much too hot for a stuffed car with two cats and no air conditioning.
We ended up stopping by Sproat Lake in Port Alberni to wait out the hottest part of the day. Mikey was panting from heat and stress, and we were worried about him. We got both cats to drink water, and put two cold bottles of water in Mikey’s kennel which would sweat condensation for him to lick and helped cook the air around him, along with the cool breeze coming off the lake. Fortunately that worked – our backup plan was to take him into the concrete-build public washroom and change room which was several degrees cooler than outside, but the break proved to be enough to get him calm and cooler.
We arrived in Victoria at 845pm, and made our way to a friend’s house. She had saved the day by picking up our apartment keys for us, because the building manager wasn’t available after 5 pm (reasonable). If our friend hadn’t picked up our keys, and been willing to meet us at potentially late evening, we would have been obliged to stay in a hotel! Stressful for the cats, expensive for us, and we would need an early check out to beat the movers to our apartment! She saved us from a very stressful Saturday!
And she lent us a can opener to open the cat’s food, because of course I forgot to take the can opener with us.
We unlocked our apartment door by 9:15 pm and had our car unloaded shortly afterwards. We inflated the air mattresses, ordered food, and konked off to sleep by 11:00pm, interrupted every couple of hours by an anxious cat mashing his face against ours.
I explained to the cats that we were moving territories, because the territory we were living in was no longer meeting our needs, and I had found better territory.
Rupert had decided we were moving because our rental house, our old territory, was being “invaded” – which is how he interpreted the busy times of viewings where complete strangers let themselves into the house when we weren’t home, and did stuff like talk loudly, walk all over, and leave the front door open. Yes, they freaking left our front door WIDE OPEN. With our indoor cats inside the house.
It did feel invasive, so I didn’t correct Rupert’s interpretation of our situation at all.
Both cats understood why we were moving, but of course they were still stressed.
Sleeping in the empty apartment was eerie, and it took the cats most of the first night to settle down.
Saturday, with glorious efficiency, the movers arrived. They had our stuff moved in swiftly and were gone – worth EVERY PENNY. I’m so grateful we were able to hire movers this time.
We all feel MUCH more at home with all our familiar stuff around us, and since we didn’t have to bust our butts moving boxes, we had energy to unpack.
We successfully downsized from a 3 bedroom duplex with a large yard to fit into a 500 sq foot one bedroom apartment quite nicely!
The cat enclosure we had build for the old place we gave to Ukee Scat (Stray Cats About Town) a local cat rescue group who had recently fundraiser enough to build a shelter! Our cat enclosure will enable rescued cats to safely access the outdoors. We donated one of our indoor cat trees to them as well.
We had sold many things, gave away things that weren’t selling to people we liked, put a LOT of stuff for free on the curb, and shockingly, we filled an entire dumpster with stuff we couldn’t give away or donate anywhere.
I call that “the crapification of things” – when your chosen belongings can’t be sold, donated, and there are no takers – they literally become trash.
Here it is, Sunday, and we fit quite comfortably into our new place. I can’t clearly remember everything we didn’t bring, aside from a few distinct objects. It’s very clear we have what we actually need.
Tomorrow, I start my new job. I still work for the health authority, but in a completely different capacity, and I think I will consciously exclude those details from my blog. I’ll just say it’s going to be complicated, challenging, and I think I’ll be *very* good at it!
Wish me good luck, my friends!