Gardening helps heal this troubled soul

Tulip poking through euonymus shrub in Only Child’s garden spring 2017

One of the few things keeping me going this spring is my garden (the others are my writing, my son and friends who help me, reading, and even some TV shows). The latter two are much needed diversions and distractions from bad health with pain of some sort at some time during each day), and the Noah’s Ark-like weather – the latter worry mostly to do with that Nigel Applewaite the construction worker who messed up his contract and work to fix the basement leaks. And didn’t fix his mistakes. But that’s another post.

With all the rain we’ve been getting in southern Ontario (and elsewhere too), everything is coming up green outside – including the weeds. The latter are very prolific this year. So are the flowers and onions coming up from some planted last year, and the herbs and rhubarb. Already eating those latter three.

I remember my late mother’s garden – vegetable and flowers and the big shrubs. She and Dad would be out there digging up the garden and planting in April. That was in the 1950s. The world is a much wetter and colder place now. The latter doesn’t just refer to weather, although that was cold in April and for the most part (except for two or three days) this May, too.

So, I plan my gardening around the weather and all the other stuff I do. Doing a bit of gardening at a time is the way to weed a somewhat large garden and get things planted. And weeding gives me a safe outlet to deal with the oppressors and oppressions in my life. I have lost count how many weeds I’ve pulled with the name Nigel Applewaite.

Gardening also seems to revive my energy and provides some purpose. So does enjoying what is in the garden. Unless pouring with rain, daily, I take a walk around and in my garden. And sit out on the veranda and/or patio to eat, read and just enjoy the view.

The patio also brought forth another hurdle to get over. I needed a new umbrella to provide shade at the patio table – the one I had for seven years – second hand and a gift from a friend – finally stopped working late last summer so it went out to the curb for pickup.

You would think that getting a new umbrella would not be a major operation. Well I did check them out at Home Depot – too pricey and way too heavy to carry home – even thought it was only four blocks. So I checked Canadian Tire on line for selections and sale, then I asked one of my friends if she could drive me  – we had talked about his possibility before and she has helped me before (and her husband helped me get my bags of topsoil at Home Depot). She said she could do it on last Monday but when I phoned Monday morning to see about a time suitable to her, I got her husband and he told me in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t do it because they were going away for a couple of weeks and they would be busy for a week after they got back. And she had too many things to do before they went away.

Excuse me? Can’t she speak for herself and if she said she couldn’t do it because of time problems I could understand that – although a refusal when I first asked would have been best.

So, I asked my son if he could pick one up at Canadian Tire on his way here Saturday and I would pay him back. He said “no” because of having to lease a car to do it but offered to pay for a cab so I could come home with it. I said okay and I’d have to find out how to go about doing that from a store with no pay phone (remember I’m too poor to have a cell phone).

But I got lucky. Most of the patio umbrellas at Canadian Tire were light enough and packed in one of those carry bags (like you get fold up cloth patio chairs in) and I could carry it. Also the clerk I spoke there gave me info about getting a cab – if you need one when you pay tell the cashier and she or he will call a cab. So, I ended paying about half the price of those at Home Depot and got the umbrella home for free. I slung the umbrella pack over my shoulder and walked  block and a half to the bus stop and took the one bus home. When my son was here this Saturday, he set up the umbrella and showed me that it also can slant  (which I didn’t know). So the umbrella is there on the patio and if it is warm enough for lunch I just might sit out there with it open. The weekend was not good for that – too windy Saturday and yesterday and raining on Sunday.

So, I guess despite all the crap happening in my life, I still am a persistent stubborn so-and-so.

When I stop being that, then it is time to worry.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme rainfall weather, Garden, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Mom and Dad, Spring

Church closure sign of declining church attendance

Another church closes its doors – Presteign-Woodbine United Church in the eastern part of Toronto offically closes its doors in June. But services have already stopped and it recently held its last annual spring variety show.

The church is merging with another church – but this is another sign of declining church attendance in Canada. The percentage of decline is not consistent in reports and surveys, but some show as high as 60 percent.

I’m more interested in the why than the what as I believe (pun intended) the what follows the why.

So, here is my somewhat biased take on declining church attendance. Disclaimer or whatever. I don’t go to church anymore except for funerals and weddings. And unfortunately at my age, the latter is more prevalent. The latter is also often taken out of the church and to that I say, good. We want to celebrate someone’s life, not their church attendance record when they were alive.

So why the decline?

It is all too easy to blame it on societal trends, i.e., from religious to secular. To me that is only a part of the whole. Yes, people are too busy and have to prioritize what they do or run around in overwhelm.

But when they do prioritize is church attendance near the top of the priority list? Not for many it seems.

More important, religious denominations are not giving us what we want and need. And on a deeper level, some people have turned away from God because they have either stopped believing that he exists or they just don’t think he is listening to them. They feel they are praying to dead air. And when they look at the extreme weather, terrorism, etc. in the world today, that only adds fuel to their fire. No, I’m not saying God is to blame for all that. But when people turn to their church they don’t get answers, they don’t get help, they don’t get peace.

In other words, churches and their services are no longer relevant for many people. And some, who may be angry at God, take it out on the closest to God place they know – i.e., churches, and just don’t attend services any more.

All the Yoga classes, dance classes, daycare, etc. held in churches won’t keep the church doors open – as a church at least. Perhaps if the building turned into a community centre, it would be more relevant.

As for Presteign-Woodbine United Church closing – the building could end up in the hands of a developer, although at this point I don’t know of anything concrete. It was speculated in a news story on Global TV over the weekend. Unfortunately, this church is not an old enough building to get historical status – it looks too  modern inside and out (No, I didn’t attend services there, but a few years ago, took Yoga classes there). But a community centre function even with some structural additions would beat tearing it down and building a condo.

And to get back on the decline in church attendance. Sources can’t agree on that one. Just Google “Canadian church attendance decline Statistics 2016” or Google that without naming a country.

Interesting reading.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Beliefs, Church Attendance, God, Life demands, Only child, Prayer

Devastating Floods sign of what’s to come?

Toronto Island Flooding

 

The floods came this past weekend – from southern Ontario to southern Quebec to New Brunswick to…

Hey, wait a second (not a minute – you could drown in a minute) – this isn’t just happening in Canada – it is occurring all over the world on an ongoing basis.. And I don’t think it is one big coincidence.

First, a disclaimer. As many of you know, I am not religious. But religious or not, I can’t help feeling that those who believed that the end of the world would come in October 2012 are not far off the mark. They got the date wrong, but not the end result. The floods and fires and tornadoes and hurricanes that are now a regular weather occurrence, provide a lot of meat to this theory. And I don’t think doing a Noah, i.e., building a big ark is going to work.

The photos make the water getting in my basement Friday into Saturday seem almost paltry as I was able to contain it using many towels and many towel changes – including setting the alarm clock for 4.30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Of course, all this work, the wet, the damp and the worry just made my health worse. Multiply that many thousands of times to those flooded out of their homes and the situation is almost incomprehensible.

And there is the danger to trees, the soil and other parts of nature. It isn’t only we humans who are hurt.

Being a former journalist I, of course, need to know why.

If you take the “end of the world” theory, you can take it from there to see where perhaps a lot of the blame lies. And not necessarily only with people. Remember not all global warming is caused by what people do and have done. For example, volcanoes cause 20 to 21 per cent of global warming.

Methinks we all need to do two things. Help those who are hit by disaster – where and how we can. Don’t forget nature – plant more trees once the waters recede.Tell your loved ones that you love them. And try to live one day at a time.

I’ll end with another photo and a link to more at

The Weather Network

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes


François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under End of World Predictions, Extreme Weather, Floods, Life demands, Only child, Weather

My health gobbled my life part ??

Only child contemplates health and stats

I figure that since January 1 this year I have wasted at least three weeks dealing with unwelcome health issues. Not three weeks at a time but if I tallied up all the time. From dental extractions to complications from them, my ongoing disgestive disorder and its complications (malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies that cause other problems), eye problems, sinus problems, etc., etc.

You can get the picture.

So, instead of just complaining I thought I would do a little research on health statistics for seniors and well, all adults. One source, the CDC puts the percentage of seniors (65 and over who aren’t living in seniors’stitutions) in poor health as 21 per cent. When it gets into specifics, such as hypertension those figures escalate. The page has several links for more health info about seniors.

For all of us, no matter how old we are, stress plays a big factor. And if you take stress into another level – what is causing the stress, you can not only rack up why you are getting sick (physically or mentally) you can get in a loop because being sick causes more stress. And all that steals from your valuable time, steals from your enjoyment of life.

I’m not providing any answers today – that is for another post or posts. Today, I’m just providing some links to information, particularly with statistics. They say misery loves company. I say “misery NEEDS company”.

Here are a few more links.

Symptoms of Stress statistics here

What’s stressing the stressed? See Stats Canada info here

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Worrying

Using Fiction Tools to Write Memoir (continued)

Only Child in Grade 12

In our last memoir writing session this week, we covered the topic of using fiction techniques when writing your memoir. Today, we discuss setting. There are similarities with using setting  in memoir and in writing fiction, with a few differences.

Always, you need to remember, memoir is not fiction, so you can’t make stuff up. True, settings in fiction often are real settings – at least countries, cities and the like. But sometimes the city or town is fictional, as are the residences and businesses and of course the streets.

Setting in memoir can give the writer an advantage, though. For example, you can write about the place you grew up in – as it was then (and a lot of that is how you remember it. Look at those old photos) and you can go back and see how it is today. Is the house you grew up in still standing? Or is it now a huge ugly condo or a paved parking lot?

But the narrative of setting in both fiction and memoir is stronger and more interesting if you skip writing it like a travel piece and put your character (you, in the memoir) right there. Show yourself going into that high school for the first time – how did you feel? Who did you meet? And blend in what you saw? For example, when my friend Nancy and I switched high schools for grade 12, (in the mid-1960s),  we had a heck of a time finding the most important classroom – the study hall. I don’t know how many times we walked around the whole top floor of the high school (it was walking in a square – that’s what it felt like and the actual shape of it). Finally another classmate with a study period helped us find the room.

So, you can see how that could generate the setting of just this school floor as Nancy and I wandered around lost. And the emotions, some dialogue and the actual study room when we finally found it and entered it.

Here’s one of the exercises I had my class do for setting. If you have time, you could try it.

  1. Exercise: Take a scene from your past and write about it with you in it. This could be the backyard of the house you grew up in, your bedroom, the kitchen, the street where you live. Note: if your memoir is about a particular time in your life use a scene from that as opposed to a scene in your past that won’t have anything to do with your memoir. The purpose is to create the atmosphere as you remember it in one location important to your life and learn how to show it to the reader from your unique POV. For example, if you were terrified of thunderstorms and hid under the covers when one came, and your brother liked to run outside in thunderstorms, the two of you would definitely have differing points of view. (copyright 2017 Sharon Crawford)

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1960s, classmates, Friends, Memoir content, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, School days

Only Child says Memoir reads like fiction

Only Child and Dad few years later

In today’s Memoir Writing session I deal with the different ways you can write your memoir. It can be humorous, serious (or both), in chronological order (or not), but most of all it contains emotions and feelings and people. Although the people are real, from your life, there is a resemblance to fiction – in the way you write your memoir.

You don’t just want a list of events. You want to engage your reader. You want your reader to see your life and the family, friends, and enemies, too, in it.

So write it fiction style. Emphasis on the word “style.” The difference here is memoir is not fiction, it is your truth, your story. So the characters, the people, must be real, and the events must be real. Unlike fiction, you are not making it up. The emphasis is on how you tell your story.

Probably the best way to see how that is done is to read published memoirs. The list of memoir authors would cover several blog posts and I’m not going to post my starter list here. Just Google “memoir writers.”

Below is an excerpt from my memoir-in-the works, but I have shortened it and reworded it some, so it is not exactly as in the memoir. This particular piece of prose deals with being bullied as a child. But it covers a lot more as you will see.

The Bully Gang – Vera, Mare, Shannon (the Bully’s younger sister by two years), and the Bully – line themselves against Dorothy and me. They pursue us up and down the street. Then we run throughout the Harmon front yard, onto the street, back to the yard. This time Dorothy and I chase the others and we trap them inside the yard.

They are jumping up and down, and through the steel gate, yelling, “Nah. Nah, Nah.” I am rolling on a high and nothing and no one can stop me. I pick up a fist-sized rock from the ground, glare at them, squeeze the rock as if it is my new best friend. You’re in for it, Bully. I raise my arm over the gate and throw the rock… smack into Mare’s forehead.

No. No. Not Mare. I like Mare. I can’t understand why she’s hooked up with the Bully. I stand still and shocked. We seem lost in this sudden limbo second. The rock falls to the grass and we jolt into screamland.

Then the Bully Gang breaks free.

“You’re in for it,” they say. “We’re gonna get you now.”

Dorothy and I turn and fly towards my place. The Bully Gang is a posse on our tail. My Dad, on holidays from work, shoves Dorothy and me downstairs. He locks the outside doors for our safety. I look up and peek towards the basement window. The Bully and her followers shake their heads and waggle their hands. Then the Bully flattens her face against the window and ugly intent and uglier looks mesh into what could pass as road kill. I shiver and turn to Dorothy. If we looked in a mirror, our facial expressions would show us resembling twins. We back away and I wish Mom had made curtains for the window. But there is no bright light, no feeling of freedom in running around inside an unfinished basement with its white cement pillars and tarred concrete floors. Dorothy and I are the victims. Why are we the ones confined inside?

Excerpted and shortened from Chapter 4, Protecting the Princess – from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2017 Sharon A. Crawford).

What are some of the fiction techniques used in the above passage?

Until next week.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Dad, Family and Friends, Memoir writing, Only child memoir

Only Child on research for your memoir

Grandpa’s farm back when

“Have you found Grandpa’s farm?” my cousin Leona asked me when I called her just after arriving in Walkerton, Ontario.”

This is all part of my research for my family history on my mother’s side.

Today’s class is on doing research for your memoir and beginning your memoir. In this post we will briefly focus on the research part.

Research can vary depending on your memoir’s content. For example, if you were born in another country from the one you now live in – you will be doing research in different countries. And if you are going back to your ancestors, that likely means another country.

I’m in Toronto, Canada, so some of the points I cover below will be from that perspective.

Last week’s post on family photos and how to use them to write your memoir, have another purpose. They not only can kick-start memories, but can provide possible people to interview about your shared past – and in the case of family – your ancestors. When I first began researching for my memoir, I went to my cousin Anne who is the family genealogist (on  my mother’s side). Anne and I went to visit her father – my uncle and godfather – in the nursing home. Now, I’m a former journalist, but Anne did most of the work, showing her dad old photos (which I did supply) and asking him who was in it and to tell us a bit about what was going on. The photo showed a group of then young women, including my mother’s older sister who appeared to be waving a book around. At any suggestion that this aunt of mine was being frivolous, my uncle basically said that no, she was a good girl.

So photos can lead you to point people to interview and in turn they can lead you to others to interview, a good thing with me as only two uncles remained alive then (both since died) to interview. But another cousin, Anita, who used to go with her mother to visit extended family, put me on to one of her mother’s best friends who was still living. Got a lot of family information from her.

Besides photos of family and friends, there are diaries (maybe like me, you kept one or two or more). I went through most of them (I keep them in a box) and pulled out one or two with excerpts that could be used. You might also have access to family letters and documents such as wills and house sales. I have some of the latter.

Anita was a big help in my search for Grandpa’s farm where I used to visit with my parents every summer. They could drive there – the two miles from Mildmay, Ontario, but didn’t know the exact lot and plot numbers. You need that to find out who currently owns the property. And we had no intention of just landing at the farmhouse and banging on the door.

The search taught me two things.  Serendipity plays a big role and your research is never all online or all in person and phone.

Churches and the area assessment office often have records. So I phoned both – no luck with either. So onto the Internet and to the area’s main library branch in nearby Walkerton, Ontario. Yes, they had land registry info so I booked a day’s use for the micro fiche machine, contacted cousins Anita and Leona for our actual visit to the farm after, b00ked a motel room in the main area of Walkerton (no hotels), got a bus ticket, packed my bags and off I went.

The librarian who booked the micro fiche wasn’t in that day and the librarian who was didn’t know how to work the micro fiche machine. Neither did I, but she figured it out and handed me six possible micro fiche rolls. If you have ever used micro fiche, it is labour-intensive, not easy like digital (Note: some larger libraries in big cities have their daily newspapers digitized from when the newspaper began to up to two years ag0 and with a library card you can access it from your laptop anywhere). I found the info in the sixth roll but did discover another couple of properties that my grandfather owned. I was so excited until I discovered the info went up to the early 1980s  and we were now in the 21st. century.

So I asked a librarian for the Land Registry phone number, phoned them for their hours and location.

They were still open for half an hour and were one block from the library.

I paid for the micro fiche copies, gathered my belongings and ran out the door. And stood on the corner.

Which way to go? I asked somebody and charged down the street, just in time to get inside, look at the latest piece of information, get it photocopied and pay for that. Then it was back to the motel to make some phone calls to the current owners and my cousins.

I had an answer to Leona’s question and she and Anita met me at the motel the next morning. And we were off. But that’s another research story.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Memoir writing, Memoir writing course