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The pandemic was declared official mid-March.  I remember that because both my daughter and son-in-law were instantly working from home… and my two grandsons became my daily charges while their parents worked.

Thank goodness for the 10-yr old as I still had my Alzheimer’s client four afternoons a week.  I’d feed them an early-ish lunch, the 2-yr old would go upstairs for his nap, the 10-yr old would do homework and I’d go to my client.  When the little guy woke up, his big brother would entertain him until my daughter – who’d changed her work shift to start at 7:00 AM – finished at 3:30.

I’d be home by 5:00 PM, walk the dog, have dinner and go to my office to work as late into the evening as I could… until it was wine-time!  I didn’t really drink that much wine… in fact I often said I drank more often but certainly less… because I’d be asleep on the couch sometime during the first, maybe second, glass.

Can’t Blame COVID For This:

In January of 2020, my ground floor suite flooded.  Not all of it, just the grandchildren’s playroom and my dining room.  Just my beautiful Persian carpet got soaked with muddy water and the full wall of wooden shelves that my grandchildren’s toys and books were on (you know books – those heavy things that go on the bottom of a bookshelf.

I worked overtime with my shop vac trying to pull water out of my carpet, moving all my dining room furniture off the carpet and trying to figure out something/anything to save the carpet as I watched some of the beautiful reds and blues start to run together with mud-brown overtones.

COVID was already a “thing” in China and apparently that’s where my landlady could be found, which meant the property manager was having difficulty tracking her down to make a decision about next actions.  I was offered a rent decrease in exchange for not using the playroom.  I put everything that mattered upon blocks away from the water seep, turned on fans, closed the door and hoped for the best.

Can’t Blame COVID For This:

Spring and Summer disappeared in a blur of isolation and Grade 5 and play.  Summer concluded with the sudden and unexpected death of my client.  I think a few rules were bent as her husband was allowed a few visits as she slipped away.  I felt most for her sister though, who in the Spring lost their other sister and her husband, none to COVID, but still…  In a few short months she lost her siblings and her husband – doesn’t that sort of isolation suck.

By the end of August we had found alternate accommodation.  Nothing had been done about my water issue and I needed to be gone before the rains returned.

A lovely big house not too far away became our next abode – same as before, my daughter and family upstairs, me in a suite downstairs.  With no certainties about COVID, being under the same roof made a lot of sense.

Can’t Blame COVID For This:

However… the big back yard was also an attractive resting place for some of the deer in the neighbourhood.  What I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet is that I have a dog.  She’s a mid-size golden retriever cross.  Two years ago she got attacked by a deer while lying out under a tree in her own back yard.  She doesn’t like deer, especially on her property.  Late one Friday night 5 weeks in, I let her out for her last pee.  She has this bad habit of eating grass when left to her own devices and then I get to wake up in the night to the sound of her heaving the remains on to any convenient (for her) surface.  So I put her on leash for the last pee so I maintain a wee bit of control.  This particular Friday it was a bit too much control.  It was late, I was relaxed in my jammies, I clipped the leash on to her collar and reached for the door knob.  She smelled that thing before the latch moved.  The second she had two inches through which to wedge her nose, she was gone.  It was so unexpected that I didn’t have a split second to think.  Still attached to her leash I was basically airborne.

I do remember watching the cement step coming at my face and thinking “sometimes when people do face plants on cement it doesn’t end well”. I didn’t even have a chance to put my hands out to break the fall.  I connected, face first, with the cement step that was just outside my back door.  I won’t go through all the stunned details here (yawn) but suffice it to say my entire face was swollen beyond recognition and by morning I had more than a black eye – basically most of my face was red and black and purple.

Life goes on however and I hid away for a week or so and wore sun glasses when I did need to go out. The pain was so bad I did try to go to the clinic a couple of times but the clinic situation during COVID has been a bit weird.  I did finally jump through all the hoops as my cheekbone did seem to have been slightly rearranged.  X-rays ordered, no fractures, apparently a calcified hematoma.  Great.  Despite all my heat applications and gentle massage, I still have a bump on the side of my face and pain whenever I touch it.

Can’t Blame COVID For This:

At the end of October, just in time for Hallowe’en and all that face paint, the dryer died.  Well it didn’t exactly die but the drum wouldn’t turn.  The heat worked just fine but that only spelled fire risk.  The landlords had a spare in the garden shed so they came by and hooked it up. With promises of a repairman in our future they decided to leave the broken one in the laundry room too.  Really?  we already have your spare fridge in there that we don’t use.

Can’t Blame COVID For This:

Then it was November.  The rain set in, it was cold. Part way through November, I realized I had water dripping from a corner of the ceiling in my kitchen.  For two weeks, my upstairs family and I tried to figure out what caused it.  Then one Saturday morning I was standing at the sink when water started spewing and gurgling up the drain.  And running down the wall where it had dripped previously. I called my daughter right away and asked what was happening upstairs.  Their dishwasher wasn’t draining properly so my son-in-law had washed dishes in the sink and he had just pulled the plug.  Time to call the landlord.

I won’t say much about our landlords.  They are really nice people but the person responsible for maintenance is not on the ball.  Takes days to respond to texts or emails.  Finally, a week later, he dropped by right after I’d left for work.  My daughter could explain the situation.  She sent her partner upstairs to put water in their sink to demonstrate.  No problem, said the landlord, I can see where the wall has been wet.  Silently my daughter stood there.  She heard the water release from the upstairs sink and she looked at the landlord.  The water burbling into my sink didn’t phase him but when the ceiling leak became a shower his eyes grew to the size of saucers. Now do you believe us?

Again, I’ll save you all the trying details.  Plumbers were called, insurance was called, contractors were sent… you know where I’m going with all this, right?  Too many players, most of whom don’t use the word ‘communication’. I will throw the words asbestos, mold, abatement in here. Oh, and cracked marble counter upstairs.

As Christmas came closer, we realized we would have Santa sidling between cupboards torn down and lying everywhere, dishwasher in the middle of a kitchen, sinks in front of Christmas trees or leaning up against dining room sideboards, walls stripped to the studs, a dining room table in the living room straining under the weight of most of my kitchen belongings sitting on top.  Merry Christmas, children!

Can’t Blame COVID For This:

I don’t want you rolling your eyes here and saying, Oh, no, Agnes, not at Christmas. Because… because when I awoke Christmas morning I had a tooth ache.  I went upstairs to watch the children open stockings and to wish my older grandson a Happy Birthday, then I went back downstairs to deal with my pain.  Enough pain for me to recognize this was possibly an abscessed tooth, not your average toothache. Christmas Day. Not a dentist to be found.  Found an open drugstore and bought the fastest strongest pain meds I could.  Finally found a medical clinic and was sent off to fill a prescription for antibiotics.  That done, I was on my way home when I came so close to being hit by a speeding car that I’m sure my guardian angel was working overtime that day and stood on the brakes for me.  The air turned blue, I clamped my jaws together… crap! as major pain went shooting through the top of my head.

I pulled into my driveway, went into my house, locking doors and pulling curtains behind me and prepared my Christmas dinner.  A bowl of tomato soup, and it tasted so good.  I set my alarm for 11 p.m. so I could get a second dose of antibiotic into my system and went to bed.

So, 2020 has been an interesting year for me.  Enough weirdness that my friends might be tempted to avoid me even if it wasn’t the COVID recommendation.  One friend emailed me to acknowledge what a bad run I was having.  My reply was obvious: I bypassed bad and went straight to ridiculous.  And once you hit ridiculous all you can do is laugh.

So laugh we do.  I mean not when the contractors are there.  They think they’re doing us a favour by showing up at all.  But in the quiet moments when we start trying to figure out tomorrow… that’s when we laugh.  It’s been ridiculous, so we laugh. We still have a roof and a bed and groceries so we’re a hell of a lot better off than many.  Thank the Universe for that.

30 hours to go and it’s 2021.