These past 2 weeks have been roller-coaster weeks. It all started with yet another trip to Pittsburgh on Saturday February 16th for one of the many dental appointments yet to come. This leg of the experience was definitely a ‘high point’ as we basically ‘sailed through’ the border. The friendly officer looked at our documents and waved us through telling us to ‘have a nice day’. Thank you all for praying!
The next experience was even better, as we got home just in time to meet friends for a late dinner, full of fun, conversations, and catching up on their latest trip to South America. That was followed on Sunday 17th by a great time of worship, followed by a fellowship lunch with our church family. It was so good to visit with these folks we have come to love dearly.
On Monday 18th, the dental appointment went smoothly enough with minimal pain, and getting out early, we squeezed in a long-overdue chiropractic visit… to relieve pain. We decided that we would take our time getting back to Canada over Tuesday /Wednesday since we had to shop for new phones.
You see, just as I was getting ready to leave Ottawa on Saturday 16th, I got a call from Trinidad, from one of my 13 (or so I thought at the time) surviving siblings of 15, that we just lost another sibling. Jude, had passed away. Louise had passed away in England in October of 2018.
When we got to Pittsburgh, as Tim was trying to execute a money transfer to Trinidad, his phone screen went black, and so, we were now down one phone. We had committed to helping with the funeral costs by sending some money soon.
My phone had started to do the same thing (black screen) on the way to Pittsburgh so we now needed to shop for phones. We unsuccessfully shopped for phones in Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning (19th) but had a pleasant, though impromptu, visit with our pastor before hitting the road.
The down came soon enough. We had booked a reservation roughly halfway between Pitt and Ottawa to overnight on Tuesday. The online pictures told us less than the thousand words that the proverb alleges, (A picture is worth a thousand words) so that my first reaction was shock and disbelief. For many reasons I can’t mention here, we couldn’t get out of this one without incurring extra costs. An emotionally painful experience.
Shortly after we arrived, we drove to the next city over, found one phone and had the transfer of data done. We had a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant and headed to our Airbnb reservation, planning to leave as soon as possible next day. Then, when I went to charge the phone overnight, I realized that the charging cord had been left at the Best Buy about 35 minutes away! They forgot to return it after transferring my data. Ugh!!!
Next morning, February 20th, we made the extra trip to Best Buy and was on our way for a Niagara Crossing. We had promised to meet with the manufacturer of our ‘Remembrance Products’ in Toronto to examine the tweak he was requesting. (I explained this to my subscribers in the email accompanying this blog) If you are not on my email list, you gotta sign up for the extra information I give to my subscribers. You can join our email list by entering your info in the pop-up box on the right of this blog.
We stopped in Toronto, met with our manufacturer, and headed to Ottawa, stopping along the way to look for a phone case for my bright, shiny, slippery, new phone. We had no success. But when we got to Ottawa, well after 7.30 pm, the weather predicted a snow storm beginning later that night into the morning. We were planning to move into our next location the following day.
Not wanting to move in the snowstorm, we quickly packed our things (in 2 hours) and tried to beat the storm. We barely made it out, driving in heavy snow for the last 25 minutes of the hour-long drive, getting there around midnight. A VERY STRESSFUL drive. Little did we realize that we would be jumping ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.
We had agreed to house-sit for someone. We knew that the house was being put on the market for sale. That was no problem. Cooperating with the showings to put the best face on the house so it would sell quickly, would be a ‘piece of cake’… or so we thought.
Shortly before the owners left for their 5 weeks away, they ran into a problem with dog-sitting their small dog for 2 of the 5 weeks. Now I’m not an animal person, so when they asked, my husband agreed to help because he grew up with dogs and was okay with it.
Only in the last 2 years have I reacted with some sensitivity to dogs. (Dander I assume?) The incidents were so far apart, that I did not remember my sensitivity to what I guess was dog dander from shaggy dogs. As I entered the house, even though the dog was elsewhere for a night, I had a full-blown allergic response – the kind of response I normally have with mold.
Out came the diffuser, essential oils and Benadryl. Next morning we borrowed a portable HEPA filter from a friend, changed the filter in the furnace, bought some candles, and a box of hospital masks. On Thursday 21st, I even taught Canadian History for an hour by Google Hangouts to my dear Katie. Boy was she surprised by my get-up and my masculine voice!
On Friday 22nd, I experienced the REAL difficulty homeowners have with showing a house and owning a dog. We had to make the house pristine and take the dog out of the house for an hour. That meant taking the dog in the car, with itchy eyes because of transferring dander to the car, and driving around while the house was being shown. Painful!
For the first time I realized the hidden slavery to owning a dog. I knew of the regular daily challenges, but not this. We were out of the house together after a grueling trip to and from Pittsburgh, a hurried move, a snowstorm, and a miserable reaction to dander and we could not even sit in a coffee shop and relax together as we were wont to do. So I sat in the parking lot while my husband took the dog for a walk. Emotionally painful.
Then came the early-morning Saturday (23rd) showing while I was in a ‘Benadryl haze’. I couldn’t leave the house. My husband took the dog out while I played ‘musical rooms’ with the potential buyers. Then came the Open House after church on Sunday 24th. Same drill. Pristine house, dog in car, visit friend whose kids distracted dog, returned home to being miserable.
The greatest surprise of all was that by Sunday night, my husband, who has never reacted to dog dander, was stuffy, his nose was streaming, was feeling miserable, took Benadryl, couldn’t sleep, and came to the conclusion with me that we can’t kill ourselves here. We would have to get out of this environment. And he was reacting even in the face of essential oils, HEPA filter, and candles.
So on Monday 25th, in tandem with the owners accepting an offer, we moved AGAIN!! What should have been a 5-week stay had become a 4-day stay.
So what have we learnt from this? That there is nothing FREE in this life. When you get a free offer, ask yourself ‘what am I giving up to enjoy this?’ I am sure my husband can find some sermon illustrations here. But for me, I have experienced God’s sustaining grace because it could have been worse requiring an emergency room visit. I now know I have to completely avoid places with dogs.
It is interesting how many people live in that environment and do not get sick. Their bodies have adapted to it. But someone who lives in a dander-free environment is made terribly sick and need to leave that environment quickly.
In the same way, think of the many things in your life that you indulge in or put up with, and your conscience/ values/ morals get corrupted until you do not see your soul’s danger. Whether it is addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, social media, entertainment, money, gossip or shopping, consider how your conscience has adapted to it.
What masks do you wear so you can keep doing the harmful stuff? What counter activity (activity ‘histamine’ as it were) do you do to make the bad stuff tolerable? In the next blog, you will hear about 2 more quick moves in the same week.
In the interim, we are now in a new apartment. Months ago, we had booked other accommodation to kick in after the 5-week stint. And in the meantime, we leave for another trip to Pittsburgh on Monday 4th, for the surgery that was cancelled in January. I am not looking forward to it, so please continue to pray for safe crossing at the border, quick healing, and endurance for this ‘momentary suffering’ so that we can truly look forward to the ‘weight of glory it is preparing for us’