Memoir and Mystery authors sharing book promo

Can authors who write in different genres share virtual book promo?

Yes, especially if one author writes both, which I do. As I write on my author blog,

And if you are thinking what the heck does a mystery have to do with a memoir? Besides both genres beginning with an “M”? Well, I do brand myself as The M and M Creator of Mystery and Memoir. And my memoir The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir does have some mystery in it – an old unsolved murder case in the Toronto Police files, which my friend, The Bully and I, became fixated on. The murder victim was a girl, age 12. The Bully and I were 10. And I delve into some of the other occurrences in my childhood that would end up pointing me into a writing career – both nonfiction (journalism) and writing murder mysteries.

The blog post also gives a bit of info how mystery author and journalist Rosemary McCracken, author of the Pat Tierney mystery series, and I have joined forces to promote our latest books – Uncharted Waters (Rosemary McCracken) and The Enemies Within Us a Memoir (Sharon A. Crawford). There is also a link to her blog Moving Target where she posted her interview with me about my memoir.

So here are the links you need for her interview of me on her Moving Target blog post and a few more of my ramblings about memoir and mystery on my author blog post

Comments and questions always welcome.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

aka Only Child writes

Author of The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir and the Beyond mystery series. More info on my website

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Filed under Author Joint Book Promo, Beyond Mystery Series, Memoir and Mystery books

Reading memoir and other books good COVID-19 distraction

Memoirs are supposed to be big sellers now. Especially true in these COVID-19 times. We are stuck at home under STAY HOME regulations, so we read (and watch TV too). Sure, we are watching and reading the latest news on the virus. But for our sanity we need some escapism. So we read mysteries and memoir.

I write both (and read both) so maybe have some insight on this, from a personal point of view. I am not a medical professional and don’t profess to be one.

The beauty of memoir is it is a genre that deals with past events – even if only recent past. Memoirs are written by celebrities and by some of us who aren’t really famous. When you read a memoir, you are transferred to something in the past. The story may not be the happiest, but it is not now; it is not COVID-19. It is a distraction and, in my opinion,, a good one. And I’m not saying that because I write and have published memoir. Studies have been done on this and articles written on this. Here are a few links to check out. Some were written before COVID-19.

This one goes into the benefits of reading. If you scroll down far enough you will find the Section on Stress Reduction

This one references some studies, what we expect from a Psychology Today article.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-men/201905/can-reading-books-improve-your-mental-health

This one is specific to COVID -19. I like the message in large print right at the beginning. “Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley.

https://mhpl.shortgrass.ca/blog/reading-save-your-sanity

My recently published book, The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir, is set in the 1950s and 1960s (the grey ages as I call them), mostly in Toronto, but some scenes in southwestern Ontario, Detroit, Michigan, and New York City. Although the main focus is my relationship with my dad and his cancer, there is a lot of humour (not with the cancer) with my family – including cousins and aunts and uncles and my school days. I am a firm believer in finding the humour in situations where possible, but at the same time being serious about serious matters.

Here is a brief blurb about The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir.

“Your dad has cancer.” Ten-year-old Sharon hears these words. Not from her parents. They lied. Set mainly in 1950s and 1960s Toronto, this  is Sharon’s story before and after Daddy’s dirty little secret surfaces. Before, she is Princess to her elderly father’s King. He protects her, a shy only child, from best friend, The Bully. Sharon also deals with a bullying nun at school. She distracts herself playing baseball and piano, riding the rails with Mom and railway timekeeper Daddy, and visiting eccentric Detroit and rural Ontario relatives. After learning the truth, Sharon withdraws from Daddy. At 13, she teaches Mom to play the piano. Then Daddy gets sick again, and again…and dies.

Sharon A. Crawford’s memoir is a powerful, sometimes humorous, account of a young girl’s lessons learned from difficult teachers – bullying, betrayal, and cancer.

More about The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir is on its blog page connected to my author blogs. This page also gives you links to where my memoir is available should you be interested.

Comments about the content of this post and/or my memoir are welcome. I do reply except to spam.

Cheers.

Sharon, aka Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, The Enemies Within Us - a Memoir

Only Child Resurfaces with Memoir

I have been absent for too long but have not disappeared. Been busy rewriting my memoir – the one I sometimes alluded to in my posts. Finally finished and The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir has been published by Blue Denim Press and it was released October 1. I have been posting in my author blog including about this new book. So I’m going to copy and paste a few excerpts from my postings there.

But first, a looksee at the cover of my memoir.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-enemies-within-us-smaller.jpg

Drum roll here: After 18 years of on-and-off writing, through several versions with several different content, The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir is done. And it is about time. I’ve been teaching memoir writing workshops for 10 years, so now the teacher has to put her pen where her mouth is  – or something like that.

So, folks,  meet meet me from age four to 22  in my memoir THE ENEMIES WITHIN US.

Oh, oh. PI Dana Bowman, who is not in my memoir, but the main character in my Beyond mystery series is insisting she step in now. She wants to introduce the new book. She is already doing that elsewhere, Give someone an inch and they will take a mile. And don’t ask me to put that in metric. When I was a child we measured in feet and inches, not centimetres and metres. Okay, over to you Dana.

PI Dana Bowman from the Beyond mystery series

Sharon wrote a memoir about her childhood  way way back in the 1950s and 1960s. Unlike me with my fraternal brother, Bast, she was an only child, her parents were what she calls “elderly.” She won’t tell you this, but the book’s title wasn’t the first. She went through many titles and finally her publisher, Shane, at Blue Denim Press  came up with

THE ENEMIES WITHIN US  – a Memoir

And here it is…again

Another drum roll please.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-enemies-within-us-smaller.jpg

Okay, back to you Sharon.

About time. Dana eluded to some of the memoir’s content. Perhaps the best way to summarize what the book is about is to post the synopsis on the back cover of the book.

“Your dad has cancer.” Ten-year-old Sharon hears these words. Not from her parents. They lied. Set mainly in 1950s and 1960s Toronto, this  is Sharon’s story before and after Daddy’s dirty little secret surfaces. Before, she is Princess to her elderly father’s King. He protects her, a shy only child, from best friend, The Bully. Sharon also deals with a bullying nun at school. She distracts herself playing baseball and piano, riding the rails with Mom and railway timekeeper Daddy, and visiting eccentric Detroit and rural Ontario relatives. After learning the truth, Sharon withdraws from Daddy. At 13, she teaches Mom to play the piano. Then Daddy gets sick again, and again…and dies.

Sharon A. Crawford’s memoir is a powerful, sometimes humorous, account of a young girl’s lessons learned from difficult teachers – bullying, betrayal, and cancer.

In future blog posts I will quote here and there – sometimes – from the content, but I also will ask questions (and give a few tips) about memoir writing. Here’s a question to start you off,

Who reading this is also writing a memoir or has written a memoir? What is the memoir about (briefly)?

Okay, that was two questions. I’m a writer, not a mathematician.

The books’ arrival I alluded to at the beginning are my author’s copies, which this time the publisher sent directly from the distributor to me. Yes, we authors get our own copies, but at half price. The traditional reason for author copies is for us to sell them at readings, festivals, presentations, etc. we attend but the venue is not in a bookstore or the publisher isn’t there to sell the books.  Or we want to give complimentary copies, for example to people who helped us with research, media book reviewers, etc.  In these COVID-19 days in-person presentations, etc. are on hold. But hopefully sometime in the first part of 2021, things will change for the better. So why the author’s copies? Because some of them will go with my virtual book launch in November, which will have a bookstore (as in bricks and mortars) involved, although anyone will be able to purchase The Enemies Within Us at

Amazon and Chapters/Indigo online. Amazon also has the print version.

And some of those complimentary copies, and I suspect a few books sold, will go out to the buyer via Canada Post  – for those who want to get their book directly from the author (i.e., a signed copy). Hey, these are different times and we authors, like everybody else, have to adjust.

 I’ll leave you with a sample of one of the photographs from my childhood. It shows Daddy, Mom and I on the veranda of the house I grew up in. In my memoir, I sometimes refer to the house as “139.”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Blue Denim Press, Books, memoir, Memoir writing, The Enemes Within Us

Only Child on why I’m angry about Covid-19

Siting in the chair instead of standing on it.

It is 5.45 a.m. and I am standing on a chair and reaching over to my smoke detector. No, no fire and no smoke (a plus) but the damn thing woke me up with a beep, then a few minutes later, another beep, then… and so on.

 

You guessed it – the battery needs changing. Because of the Covid-19 I can’t get a friend, my son, a neighbour or the handyman (all of whom have helped me with this in the past) to do this. I can’t and I will not have them coming into my house (even if they would do so) because we need to self-isolate ourselves for our own and others’ protection from this virus.

 

So there I stand, first trying to get up on the chair and then standing on it to change the battery. The damn beeping woke me up and I won’t get back to sleep if I don’t change it now. So, I risk my health and safety to do so – despite having a bit of arthritis in my right knee, despite getting sporadic occurrences of sciatica in my left thigh, and despite being blind in one eye.

 

I am swearing and yelling as I do this task. One thing I have learned over the years (and not just from this virus pandemic) is anger gives me strength – physical and mental. The trick is to use it for something positive and that is definitely NOT going around killing people. So, I manage to figure out how to open this newer smoke detector model (the old one died a year and a half ago and had to be replaced – by the handyman) and I manage to change the battery. For good measure I also change the battery in the nearby carbon monoxide monitor, although it appears to be still working. At least this one is reachable from standing on the floor, and as I have done this change before, I know what I am doing.

 

While I’m at it, I want to mention one other big hurdle to overcome because of the fallout and repercussions from this virus. But first I want to give thanks and praise for our government leaders – Canadian federal and provincial and especially Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief medical officers of health, for what they are doing. I like Dr. Tam’s no nonsense approach, but she is informative and not rude, not condescending , not dictatorial. And she has experience in dealing with pandemics.  Yes, our Canadian leaders have made mistakes and could have done more – like started earlier with some of the “procedures”. But they are out and up there doing what needs to be done to the best of their abilities.

 

Having said that, I have one big bone to pick with part of one procedure – what has been kicked off the list of businesses in Ontario that are essential – hardware stores. They were on the first round of essential businesses that could stay open, but went out the door (literally, if you need to do business with them) the first weekend in April. I was shocked. I depend on Home Depot, almost as much as the grocery stores, and I am sure I am not alone here – if the lineups to get in (which I saw on the news just before they had to close their doors) are any indication. True, they have online ordering with the option of pickup outside the store. But to do that you need two things I as a low income senior do not have – a car and a cellphone (the latter is also because of my vision problem. While I can see and read what is on my computer screen, cellphone screens are too small and never mind increasing the size to see three words at a time). The way the pickup at the store works is they let you know by email when your order is ready for pickup. You drive there, and when you arrive in the car lineup to pick up your stuff you call them from your cell phone.

 

So, if I go that route what do I do? Phone from home just before I leave and lineup up behind the cars? I will be phoning Home Depot later this week to see what they have to say. I know from previously seeing people on the local buses carrying stuff bought at Home Depot that I am not alone in being a walk-in customer.

 

Yes, there is ordering online for delivery. But not everything in the store is on the online shopping list. No plants, no yard waste bags (Home Depot has garden centres) and God only knows what actual hardware is missing from the list. And except for a few items, you have to pay for the delivery. Most of my list (at this point) includes stuff not on the free delivery list and I resent that because I live just a few blocks from Home Depot. So, I would walk there and buy what I needed and can carry. For the annual garden supplies I would ask a friend or the handyman (if he was picking up stuff to fix something in the house anyway) and I would go with them to pick out the supplies and pay for them.

 

Can’t do that now. Not safe for anyone. We have to stay healthy and try to help others to do so as well.

 

For those of you reading this who think I am way out of proportion in my thinking, think again. Gardening (as well as writing, connecting on Facebook and Zoom with family and friends, reading and walking) is for my health – mental, physical and spiritual. This damn virus has just made it more difficult.

 

And all because of some stupid unhealthy practices at open markets in Wuhan and their government’s lax laws on food health and safety, which started all this.

 

So, I will fuel my anger to get the things done for my house and garden – even if it means standing on a chair at 6 in the morning.

 

How are you coping with Covid-19?

 

Backyard summer 2019. What about this summer?

Cheers.

 

Sharon

 

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anger, Family and Friends, Gardening, Health, Only child

Time for a change

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When I was a child I didn’t pay much attention to when the sun rose and when it set. Oh sure, as a teen I hated getting up early to go to school, no matter what the season. It is different now, particularly as I am a senior and one of the banes of being a senior is you don’t get as much sleep as you used to. More than that, as a senior with limited eyesight, I hate it getting dark so early evenings in the late fall and winter. Well, now we are getting a reprieve – drumroll here –

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS STARTS THIS WEEKEND IN CANADA.

Well sort of. There are still parts of Canada that ignore Daylight Savings Time and stay on standard time. How can they? How can they put up with the shorter evenings in spring and summer? It’s true that at the start of the switch to Daylight Savings Time, you may get up in the dark – depending on when you get up. If I stay in bed about 10 minutes more than my usual wakeup/get up time, it will start to be daylight. And the daylight will just increase at both ends of the day in the next few months. It will be glorious to go out in the evening in daylight, even just to go grocery shopping. I don’t grocery shop in malls, so enter grocery stores and small shops from the street. So the potential for lots of daylight evening strolls is there.

I feel I am literally living in the dark evenings in winter. Even when I stay in and am working on my writing, or editing a client’s manuscript, I hate doing it in dark late afternoons or early evenings – artificial light, not matter how great just doesn’t do it for me. When the sun is shining in the evening I feel like I’m shining; I feel like I am living a lighter life with some promise. And when gardening season gets going (i.e. snow and all that other winter weather crap is gone for another season) I am out in the garden and just enjoying it all.

Bye bye to this

 

And hello to this – soon

And I need to stop raving about DST here and state a few facts. Not all of Canada switches over to Daylight Savings Time. The province of Saskatchewan is one of those areas, plus parts of Manitoba. The latter even wants to extend this no change – year round standard time.  I would second that no change – but with year-round Daylight Savings Time, not year-round Standard Time. Apparently British Columbia’s premier wants to extend DST to year round and the Yukon Territory is on the same enlightened (pun intended) change – to stay permanently on Daylight time once they change to it this weekend. Here is their story.

Here are some links to more stories on Daylight Savings Time:

British Columbia’s Story

Manitoba’s Story

Time Travellers Guide to Daylight Savings Time

Where you live:

Do you have to change your clocks twice a year?

Would you like the same time setup all the year?

Which do you prefer? All Daylight Savings or All Standard Time?

Why your preference?

Cheers.

Sharon (who may get less sleep Saturday night, but worth it in the days and months to come)

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Only Child getting through winter

As a child growing up in the mid-50s to mid 1950s in Toronto, I actually enjoyed winter. That included slogging to and from grade school three times a day (we went home for lunch), to ice skating. The winters I was seven and eight I learned to skate at home  – outside of course. Dad turned the hose on our backyard and overnight instant skating rink. Next day, and several days afterwards, Mom taught me how to skate. She wore boots and sometimes Dad’s old hockey skates on her feet. I wore brand new white figure skates but I did not cut a good figure. Even the heavy coats and mitts couldn’t help as I dug my hands into Mom’s as she walked or skated backwards and she tried to get me to move forward. Finally when I was eight, she figured I was ready for the big time – skating at the public Dieppe Park. There I learned that the best way to keep my balance was to skate forward clutching  a skate guard in each hand.

Today, as a senior, I hate winter with a passion. I do not find the white stuff outside as it comes down and when it stops,  a winter wonderland. I hate the cold. I hate all winter precipitation and with our climate change, that can include rain and variations of the mixed stuff. Strangely enough I don’t mind shovelling snow (when it isn’t a lot – then I get the guy I hired to shovel snow to do so) – probably because it is like hitting back at the weather. I wield a mean shovel, but my target is only the snow. I do like the sun in winter (when the sun does actually show up) and going for walks. Not as many as in spring, summer and fall. And I don’t go out much evenings – besides the cold I have a fear of falling on ice, especially after three friends and colleagues took bad tumbles on ice last winter. My hairdresser suffered the worst. She broke one leg in two spots after falling on the ice in her driveway.

So I spend a lot of time inside a lot. Plenty to do, including stuff I detest, such as dealing with house problems – the latest being an ornery freezer. But I write a lot, read a lot (although not as much as I would like), watch some TV (Weather Network addict here, plus some regular mystery and the like TV shows and movies), and purging the excess paper in my office.  And email and Facebook my son and friends. And chat on the phone with them. Also get together with them – but not as much as in the summer. It took five weekends before I could get down to my friend Maggie’s because of bad weather each weekend – some that snowed me in. But this weekend is my son’s birthday and the plan is for me to take him and his girlfriend out for brunch (mind you, at a restaurant near me) and then we are coming back to my place afterwards.

Meantime I have something else that is visual to see and create – and not bland like snow. My houseplants, some of which are flowering. And also I am going through the seed catalogue to order some seeds for this coming spring and summer’s garden. And planning the garden in the process.

How are you spending your winter? Or if you are south of the equator  – your summer, where some of those who live “up north” go in winter.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Gardening, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Winter Weather

Only Child’s Sleep Deprivation Continues

There is a reason – several reasons – why I have been so tardy posting here lately. It is a combination of too much to do and too little sleep. The first also has something to do with not getting enough sleep. Because some of the consequences of not getting enough sleep are hitting me, I have decided I really must take measures to get more sleep.

For example, with not enough sleep, I don’t think as clearly, I don’t always do the smartest thing and realize this afterwards, some of my writing isn’t as good, I get angry oftener, I give myself hell for not getting the important things done, stress rears its ugly head, and I fall asleep in front of the TV. These are only a few.

However, one good thing about my not getting enough sleep is 95 percent of the time when I actually get to bed I fall asleep quickly and stay asleep until the alarm clock dings. Or the phone rings with one of these telemarketing scammers. I don’t pick up the phone then, but when I check messages later, if there is a message from a scammer I loudly curse them. Because did you know that for some of these telephone scams if you just pick up the phone when they call you are automatically transferred to someone far away and immediately start accumulating phone charges?

But that is for another post. First here is some info on not getting enough sleep. From research and other info on line and the personal.

Some sleep experts insist we need 8 or more hours sleep each night. I disagree and that is from personal experience. My experience (when I get enough sleep) shows that my optimum sleep time is 7 hours and 15 minutes. As I’ve been mostly getting 5 to 6 hours most nights, it’s obvious I have to change that. But not to 8 or more hours. Here are links to what the experts say on this. Read them and decide for yourself.

How much sleep do you need? This one is a bit more balanced and gives requirements for all age groups. And they make sense, especially giving sleep hour ranges. For the record, I’m a senior, so my 7 hours and 15 minutes requirement fits in here.

Here’s one I definitely disagree with. To this expert I say “in YOUR dreams”, “get real” and “Do you get 8.5 hours of sleep EVERY night?”

 

Fortunately I have figured out the two big culprits about why I don’t get enough sleep. If I can conquer the first one, then I can conquer the second one.

Overwhelming schedule

  1. I have too much to do each day, and do some chores very late at night into the wee morning hours.. So, as I have previously posted I have a Do Not Do list. This is for stuff I do that can be tossed out of my life, or at the very least postponed to a later date. On New Year’s Day I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Instead I do A, B, C, D etc. lists of what I have to do and don’t want to do (that would be housecleaning for one), what I have to do and want to do, etc. etc. Since then I am adding to the “Don’t Do/Kick Out of my Life list and the “Postpone” List. FYI posting regularly (for me that is bi-weekly like I used to a few months ago) on this blog is on the Want to Do/ Have to Do list. So is my author blog. As I used to, I plan to alternate weeks of posting with the two blogs.

  1. I have difficulty tearing myself away from the TV at night, partly because I sometimes fall asleep in front of the TV. This is NOT regular shows or late night movies, but the news and weather station. I am a former journalist so need my daily news shots, even though I do read a bit of it online and get the weekend print papers and weekly local papers. So, I’m trying to limit my time on those TV programs and get going to bed between 11.30 p.m. and midnight. It will be around 12.30 when I get to bed. I get up regularly at 8 a.m. every day (don’t try to catch up by sleeping in late on weekends), so that should make my 7 hours and 15 minutes of sleep. After a quick check-in with The Weather Network, the TV must be turned off. And I must not do any chores afterwards. Just getting-ready for bed rituals and actually get in the bed. So I have to follow point 1. More closely.

The first one should help the second one, although I will still need to make the effort to shut off the TV and get up off the couch at midnight. Perhaps an old Dick Van Dyke skit quote might help to repeat. In the skit (from many many years ago and not sure which TV show he was guesting on but it could have been The Carol Burnette show as I watched that one regularly).

Dick Van Dyke is sitting in a comfortable chair and can’t seem to get up. So he yells out, “Prune juice.” And he jumps up.

For those having sleeping issues, how do you deal with them? Let’s get a discussion going here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Sleep deprivation

Only Child Christmases Past and Present

Many of us have rituals on Christmas Day and I am no exception. Except my rituals have changed. When I was a child, after Mom woke me up, she, Dad and I had breakfast. Then I was allowed to look in and empty my stockings. Presents under the tree had to wait a bit. Mom, Dad and I headed to church first, often suffering through the pastor’s long, long sermon. Afterwards we  walked home.

And then we “attacked” the presents. Previously a few days before, Mom and I had wrapped each other’s presents and Dad’s – with her in the kitchen and me in the dining room and the door between firmly shut. Until she needed more paper or scotch tape. She would give fair warning though so I could cover up the unwrapped presents. But on Christmas Day it was usually me who crawled over to and under the tree for the presents and handed them out. Of course I was doing this to try and figure out what was in the wrapped gifts and looking for that doll or other toy I had asked Santa for. My mother had a habit of hiding any unwrapped toy and bringing it in while we were opening the presents. So I got my doll.

Afterwards we relaxed  – sort of. I played with my doll or any other new toy and mother went to prepare the bird for dinner. I say “bird” because it often was not a turkey. Sometimes it was chicken, or a duck, or a goose, but no matter it all tasted good.

Fast forward many, many, many years to now (and also a few years ago). Like my parents before me, I have one child (got to repeat history here, you know), Martin, who is well beyond being a child. So, yesterday he and his girlfriend, Juni, came bearing presents, a bottle of white wine and a container of juice (the latter for Martin as he was driving). I had snacks out on the coffee table and so we dug in to presents and food. At some point I had to get into the kitchen to prepare the bird and put it into the oven. Not a turkey – I’m allergic to turkey  – so chicken, along with baked potatoes, yams, and  a salad.

We stuffed ourselves so much none of us had room for the apple raspberry crisp I had baked the day before, so I sent some home with Martin and Juni.  After they left, I called a friend to wish her a Merry Christmas and thank her for her present, watched a Christmas movie on TV and during the commercials did the dishes.

But I forgot one more present and I didn’t discover it until after midnight. It was hiding under the Christmas tree, or rather under the end table where my tiny fake tree sits. I blame missing it on the cloth bag it is in  –  burgundy – same colour as the velvet cloth right under that tree. The present is for Juni (note: she had others from me). So this week I will have to restart my Santa Claus sleigh and deliver the present to Juni. Translation: I will take public transit and deliver the present to Juni. And hope no wandering reindeer are running around en route, although obviously Christmas Day we could have used Rudolph and his glowing red nose to find the present. Or maybe not – red is close to burgundy in colour and that mini-tree has all red lights and they didn’t help.

So  on this note, I will stop this rambling and wish everybody a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

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Only Child and the Do Not Do List

Only Child and Dad

My late father was a fanatic about time. He would drive my mother crazy at the dinner table when he did a time check with his watch and the wall clock. But the height of his time fanaticism was when he, Mom and I went on holidays. En route to Toronto’s Union Station by cab, he always mapped out the quickest route there and insisted the taxi drive follow it. We also left a couple of hours earlier than train time and were always the first in line to get on the train. Daddy also kept an eye on all the train procedures and he was always saying “typical CNR”. I suppose he had some rights here as Daddy worked as a timekeeper for the CNR (And it gave us free train rides).

Which might explain my penchant for time, including keeping a daily “to do” list. It doesn’t seem to be helping with all the stuff I seem to have to do. I constantly run around in overwhelm, get cranky and am up way too late doing things around the house. And not getting enough sleep. It is now affecting my health. So I am putting my foot down. I decided I am doing too many different things and some have to go – or at least get postponed. I know; I’ve been this route before. But I have come up with a new idea that might work and that I would like to share.

Teddy reminding me to slow down

Starting with this month of November, I am now doing a monthly “Do Not Do” list . The list has things I will not do this month but will do next month. The list has things I will never do, including things others want me to do, and one off events that I really don’t have time to go to and aren’t important in my life, at least now. This is an ongoing list as no doubt more of these events and other things will pop up as the month goes along. It is my incentive to say the big “NO” more often and focus on what I need to focus on this month.

The big three to focus on doing this month are finish rewriting my memoir for my publisher – it is due the end of November and I am fed-up with just doing bits and pieces of it at a time. The rewrite is coming along, but I can do better. No. 2 is to catch up on the bookkeeping for this year for my writing and editing business. Number 3 is also something I’ve been doing in bits and pieces – but not just because of time, but the weather. I’m talking about preparing the garden and house for the season I hate with a passion – winter. I don’t do all the prep. myself as I have hired a fellow who cleans the eavestroughs and Mike, the main handyman. Of course I  have to organize all this and I even have hired a new fellow to shovel the snow when that four-letter stuff arrives. What they do and what I do are on a couple of “to do” lists – one for house prep. and one for garden prep.

Yesterday I was outside on a rare afternoon when it wasn’t raining. But it was so cold. Among other things I had planned to plant the rest of the bulbs, but only got one planted. However, I managed to do three things: cut down some plants hanging over into the driveway (in the way of snow shovelling), do a little more with the tool shed (I’m clearing out most of the stuff in there as the shed is in bad shape), and I brought in my mannequin, Raggedy Annie, who sits out in the front garden in the summer.

Raggedy Annie

So, from that I learned to do three things each time outside and hopefully  it will all get done in time. But it is the “Do Not Do” list that may be my saving grace. As long as I stick to it.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Time management

Only Child prepares house & garden for winter

Daddy & Mommy in charge of house and yard winter prep

My parents had rituals for preparing our house and garden for winter. They would do it all themselves, unless there was a plumbing problem. Dad was in charge of the windows. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, windows were not all-inclusive. In autumn, you had to remove all the screens (we had at least a dozen) and replace them with the storm windows, stored for the summer in the garage, with the reverse in the spring. So Daddy had to climb up on a ladder and do the switch. Obviously I don’t get my Vertigo from him.

Mommy focused on clearing out the garden and finishing the canning. She canned some horrible concoction with green tomatoes (I didn’t eat them), rhubarb strawberry jam, currant jam and jelly, and pickled yellow beans, among other things. I’ve never been one to try canning as I’m always afraid of messing up and poisoning everyone. So, I stick to freezing extra vegetables and fruit and drying herbs.

Somewhere in the fall, Mom ordered a delivery of manure which she and Daddy spread on the lawn. Most of my lawn has been turned over to garden – flowers and some vegetables and herbs. So if I cut the little lawn left, I consider the job done. I focus more on bringing in the rest of the tomatoes when the weather gets too cold, which I did last evening.

One of Only Child’s pepper plants in a pot

The pepper plants (grown in large pots) are inside right now but if and as the weather warms up a bit, they will go back outside, at least for during the day. And they are still getting peppers – all sizes as they grow, mostly green, but some turning red if I don’t eat them right away.

I find there are many fall preparation for winter tasks with my house and yard – besides the garden. Although it is a bungalow similar to the one I grew up in, and windows and screens don’t need to be switched, there still seems to be more things to do. Over the weekend I finally made the list for this year. Some things have been done; some still to be done. I don’t do them all as I have a couple of handymen who do some of these jobs, like cleaning  the eaves troughs (remember, I have Vertigo and standing on a chair is as high up I climb). And one of the handymen just measured for the new bathroom window so that should be here for him to put up in a few weeks. It will be nice to have a bathroom that isn’t freezy in the winter (despite a radiator spewing out heat). I’m slowly replacing all the house windows, one every fall (can’t afford more than that at a time). Most are done, but still a few more to go.

And I have a new snow shoveller for when that dirty white stuff (snow is a four-letter word) arrives. The fellow literally landed on my doorstep looking for customers and he has a few in my neighbourhood. So hope he works out. I deserve a pleasant person who does a good job shovelling my snow after last winter’s bad experience with the Bully from down the street. It started out with the teenage son shovelling my snow – he was a recommendation from another neighbour. The teenager was fine and also friendly…until his Dad marshalled in and bullied him and me.

I’ve been talking to the neighbours at various times during and after this bad experience, and find they see Mr. Bully the same way. Good to know my journalistic skills at reading people still works, albeit after the shovelling started. Now I just need to turn psychic so I can sense what will happen before it does. My consolation is knowing that what goes around comes around. My feeling is Mr. Bully is not having a good 2019.

Now back to some yard prep including planting some of those narcissus bulbs I finally got around to buying two days ago. Here’s a fall photo from my garden taken over the weekend.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Home and Garden, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, snow shovelling, to do list