Susan D’Antoni in Ottawa, Canada: Tout se complique

26 June

After a long put off appointment at the local hospital, I am self isolating in our newly vacated rental house.  Being cautious and careful about the continuing presence of COVID 19 in our midst, we considered the wisdom of my venturing out of our family bubble for the first time since we returned home from France in early March.  Having had the comfort of being strict in our isolation to date, it felt uncomfortable to break it.  So I moved across the street to camp in our former home for two weeks.  Much of my time has been spent in my current abode anyway, cleaning up after the tenants departed in preparation for the arrival of our granddaughters.  Now I have the luxury of getting up from my couch/bed and being able to get straight to the cleaning effort without any pleasant distractions like having coffee with Drew and reading email and news.  Drew is not here and the Internet access is currently almost nil unless I go out and sit on the front porch, which I feel reluctant to do in my nightgown.

It is an instructive experience to be without Internet access.  It is not only a loss of the connectivity with friends and family through email and Facebook, but also the loss of Radio Classique France, my favourite streaming radio station, and no nightly movie entertainment.  I do have a radio, but have found that it offers only pop music over the available stations.  Even our national CBC does not offer pleasure to my ears. 

This is early in my period of isolation.  Day one was the beginning of withdrawal symptoms, but greatly alleviated by delicious dinner delivered to the front porch by Drew.  Day two was a bad night on the couch, the struggle with the radio and finally coming to terms with the fact that it was useless except for news.  However, a good book tempered my unhappiness.  Now it is day three and after a better night on the couch in a pleasantly cool temperature – a break from the heat wave we have been having – I feel the ongoing cleaning of the house and the books from the cache I have will be fine to occupy the day.  The computer does allow me to write this blog entry offline and then try to send it from the front porch.  A technical solution is being sought to remedy the lack of Internet access: I doubt that the granddaughters would survive one day without.

Ever since we relocated from France, the granddaughters have spent some time with us in the summer.  Here they have the freedom to walk –or run – about by themselves, in a way they do not in the big city in which they live.  But this summer is different.  This time they want to come to be safer from COVID 19, as Florida experiences a not unexpected spike in new cases, along with a number of other southern states.  As they prepare for their journey north, they are still waiting to hear from their respective universities, one in Vermont and one in Quebec, specific details about what the institutions will be able to offer them.  The youngest is just about to start university and is leaning towards waiting for another year to start her university experience in possibly better circumstances.  She plans to look for work here, and we would be delighted to see her stay. 

As the granddaughters prepare, I fret.  I am concerned about the logistics – their long drive here, the drive through the states that are considering requiring anyone entering to self isolate for two weeks, the uncertainty of the Canadian border crossing even though they are Canadian citizens, and their health insurance situation.  All this puts me in mind of the title of a favourite book by a famous French cartoonist, Sempe – Tout se complique.  For a Canadian, that phrase describes France rather well – everything feels complicated.  The phrase would serve quite well for our life with COVID 19: everything is complicated.

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