COVID, kindness, and beautiful trees


Wow, what a surreal past few days.

I’m still definitely experiencing COVID symptoms. Taking it a day—and a moment—at a time, as my body does what it needs to do on its own timeline.

I’ve received some wonderful feedback from some of you about my last post. (Even a few donations, and my first house-sitting offer! Thanks so much to all of you. All of your support means so much to me.)

Yesterday was rough. A large swath of Canada—including Ottawa—was nearly paralyzed by a telecom outage. Rogers Communications, which supplies mobile phone service and internet, was down for nearly 24 hours. This meant I had no WiFi here in the guesthouse, which was problematic on a few levels.

First, although mercifully I was able to use my own Verizon phone plan for both phone and data, I could not stream video since that would use too much bandwidth. So, although my health dictated that I needed to stay in all day and rest, watching videos was not an option.

Second, even just using Facebook and email apparently overtaxed my Verizon plan: by midmorning, I received a text saying that I needed to pay an extra $5 or else face drastically reduced speed. I paid the $5, but then got a similar message several hours later. I didn’t want to pay extra again, so my internet access was severely throttled for the late afternoon and evening. Argh, such bad timing! Even doing crosswords online became impossible because they wouldn’t load.

Third, the payment system at the guesthouse was down due to the outage, so I was required to pay cash for my room for the night. I have almost no cash on me, and definitely no Canadian cash. So this meant I had to drag my beleaguered body out at 9:30 am to walk to a gas station ATM ten blocks away, to be charged exorbitant fees to withdraw the cash for the night. (And even though internet was restored overnight, I ended up having to reprise the trek this morning because apparently the payment system here is still down.)

Meanwhile, the manager here was being kind of weird and cagey about whether I would be able to book another night here for today. So, on top of everything else, I was worried about finding another place. All other hotels in the area are about twice as expensive as this place (which isn’t all that cheap either) and of course I couldn’t stay in anyone’s home with them while contagious.

I guess when one sets out bold intentions, sometimes challenges and apparent obstacles are the first things to follow!

The good news?

I have been absolutely floored by the kindness of strangers. Truly, humbled almost to tears.

A woman who had initially offered to host me here (before I tested positive) offered to bring me vegan food every day, and she has been doing so. It has been plentiful, healthy, and delicious, and sometimes even homemade. She has also offered to bring me things like masks and sanitizer if I need them. And, she still wants to host me in her home as soon as it is safe to do so. I’m not sure if the timing of that will work out (I had already planned/hoped to leave for Toronto today, which obviously isn’t happening, but I do hope to maximize my time there) but regardless, her generosity and kindness have been invaluable.

Meanwhile, I put a post out on Facebook yesterday, thinking I might not be able to stay here tonight, and asking if anyone knew of an empty home, or maybe hosts who had recently recovered from COVID themselves, or possibly an empty dorm or something… I needed to brainstorm options, with the help of others. I haven’t ever known anyone in Ottawa (except one Facebook acquaintance, who happens to be in Montreal right now) so this seemed an especially tall order.

Shortly after I made the post, a Dallas, Texas friend of mine—whom I had met in person for the first time earlier on this journey—tagged an Ottawa friend of hers.

That Ottawa friend shared my post to her local network.

A friend of hers contacted me to say that her mother had just sold her house, and it was empty and available for me to use if needed. (Although it was completely empty, and no WiFi! I hated realizing how much the WiFi issue caused me to hesitate, but it happened to be right there in my face as all this communication was happening.)

The friend said they could set up a cot and linens for me, and that I could stay as long as I wanted.

Humbling doesn’t begin to cover it. I just cannot believe how kind and helpful people can be. (I’m also continually in awe of the power of networks, including social media.)


As it turned out, I could indeed stay another night here, which I think is better for a few reasons, including the safety of whoever stays in this room after me, as well as my own self-care of not having to pack up and bike 30 or so minutes to the new place.

But I’m so grateful. (And still might go to that empty place tomorrow night, depending how I’m feeling/how I test.)

I also had a cool conversation last night with a fellow resident of this guesthouse, who checked in for a month (long-term stays are OK here too, in some cases I guess!) ten months ago. He shared his own challenges with living in such a small space—with no laundry or stove—for much longer than he had planned. He has a chance at a place of his own about a half-hour drive out of town, a month from now. I hope he gets it.

Meanwhile, the previous day—when my symptoms seemed mild and I foolishly imagined that my “COVID experience” would only last two or three days—I ventured out to the nearby arboretum. I hope the 20-minute bike ride in each direction didn’t set back my healing process, but it was absolutely lovely to walk among the trees, and sit on the shady benches, for a couple of hours in the evening.

This life is a trip, man. A day at a time, eh? It’s all an adventure.

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4 thoughts on “COVID, kindness, and beautiful trees”

  1. I’m glad that people are helping you out! In a no wi-fi situation I would ask that person bringing you food to bring you an interesting book to go with it 🙂

  2. Wonderful cloud pictures! So pretty. I’m glad all is working out. With your positive attitude, I think it always will. Warm wishes for a speedy recovery and increased ease along your journey! 💖

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