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

Only Child on public transit then and now

More modern TTC bus

Traveling on public transit (TTC) in Toronto when I was growing up was simpler than now. And yes, sometimes fun. I lived half a block from a major street. My street was partway between two bus stops so Mom and I would get to the end of our street, look both ways and see if a bus was coming. It it was, it became a judgement call – go to the left (closer, but a street with lights to cross) or go to the right (a little further, but no waiting for lights to change). We had some idea of the time the bus was supposed to show up and it usually was on time or close to on time. Sometimes the bus stop was just around the corner as the TTC had a penchant even back in the late 1950s and 1960s to move the bus stop.

Mom and I had several adventures on public transit – not heart-stopping or bad – but adventures for a little girl. Riding on old streetcars in downtown Toronto. Riding the King Street car to the CNE (yes, it did go to the CNE back then), coming home on the streetcar and almost falling asleep on the way home. Mom stayed awake (I think), but even if she fell asleep we were going to the end of the line.

Newer, but not newest TTC streetcars

Then the first subway line opened March 30, 1954 . We missed the opening day, but took lots of rides on it to downtown Toronto and back afterwards. Sometimes Daddy came along too if on a weekend and we were heading up north (North Toronto) to visit family. Sometimes we had to make a change to a bus at the Eglinton end. But in winter before the first part of what is now called Line 2 opened on the Bloor-Danforth, we didn’t wait down on an inside platform to go east. Instead we stood shivering on a somewhat open platform in the middle of Bloor Street, just east of Yonge. Our only “shelter” was a back wall with an overhang temporarily in place. The second phase of the Yonge line, the University extension, running from Union Station to St. George Station opened February 23, 1963.  But I didn’t take it until a few years later when I started working as a secretary at Queens Park.

The first phase of the Bloor-Danforth line from Woodbine to Keele opened in 1966 – just in time for me to take it to business school that fall. By the time I started work the following year, subway cars were getting crowed. People blocked doorways so getting on and off in rush hour was a challenge. In late 1969, when I worked as a clerk in Morality at Toronto Police headquarters (it was on Jarvis Street then), I often ran into a couple of the detectives in Morality. One day, they decided to teach one of these door blockers a lesson. Mr. Door Blocker was the only one who wouldn’t move out of the doorway to let people in or out. He just stood smack  in the middle of the doorway. So the two detectives decided to teach him a lesson. No, they didn’t arrest him. Instead when the  three of us arrived at our stop – Sherbourne – they each grabbed one of the blocker’s arms and took him off the train. I followed and watched. The detectives held him there on the platform until the train’s doors closed and the train sped away. I stood there and laughed.

Fast forward to today and it is too complicated and not as gentle. Yes, we have more subway lines but not enough to get people to work and everywhere else without them being stuffed up against each other. Subway stations, particularly the ones to transfer to another line, are jam packed, particularly in rush hour or of there is some big event on in Toronto on weekends (read “every weekend”). Passengers have escalated the rudeness and inconsiderateness to high (low?) levels. They not only stand blocking doorways while absorbed in their digital devices, some of them think they are entertainers and swing from the poles or overhead racks where you hang on for dear life. There are blue seats for us seniors, those with disabilities (I qualify for both although the latter is somewhat invisible), and pregnant women. But in crowded subways who is sitting on some of these seats – young men and women too busy with their digital devices to see if there is someone else who needs to sit there. Not all are like that and I am grateful for those who have given up their seat for me and without me even asking But I’ve had a few words with those who don’t. And despite the TTC criteria for who can sit on those seats, if I see a parent and young kids sitting in the blue seats, I don’t say anything. I think they need to sit there too.

The infamous blue TTC seats not usually empty

There are also all the TTC subway renovations, signal problems, track problems, closures and bus drivers who can’t seem to stick to their schedule. But that’s for another post. I have stories here. Stay tuned.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Public Transportation, Toronto public transit, TTC buses, TTC Subways

Only Child asks: Is honesty the best policy?

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

My late mother was a stickler for honesty. Unlike Gibbs on the NCIS TV series, who had his 10 rules for living written in a small notebook, Mom’s 10 rules were in her head, perhaps some buried in her subconscious. She couldn’t tolerate lies.

Some of the stories spanning out from this, could get complicated, sometimes funny, and sometimes leaving me at a disadvantage some way – but at least I was doing the right thing.

One that comes to mind is when one of my classmates who I hung around with was messing up in marking math exercises. We were in grade three and the teacher had us  pass our exercises to the person sitting in front of us for marking. My friend sat behind me so I got hers to mark. She had some questions wrong and I marked them with an X. When she got the exercise back she changed he X to a tic.

That really ticked me off. But I was too shy then to say anything to the teacher. So I told Mom.

Her solution was for mr to tell the teacher. Mom even offered a 25 cent reward if I did this. I sold my friend out for 25 cents. But, hey, I told the truth.

However, when Mom learned that this same friend and I were cutting through the laneway behind houses and shops to come home from school, she told me I couldn’t do this because it wasn’t safe. But I was more afraid of getting the ire of this friend again, so I followed her like the proverbial Pied Piper, through the alleyway. What the heck. Nothing looked bad. The most menacing thing we saw was a man unloading food from a truck for the IGA store.

When I returned home from school Mom asked, “Did you go through the alley?”

“No,” I replied. And didn’t feel good about it.

Not so with sneaking out the back and dangerous way over to the park the girl gang I hung around with played in. Mom had definitely said I couldn’t take the dangerous route. I was supposed to go the long and boring way along the street and cross the busy street intersection at the lights, then continue walking along the sidewalk to the park.

Nope. I followed the ringleader (my math marker cheating friend) and the others to the end of my street to the dead end street and over to the steep steps down to dangerous, curving and busy Don Mills Road. And this was in the late 1950s before the Don Valley Parkway was built nearby with a major exit from Don Mills Road just a bit north of where we landed on the road. There were no sidewalks there, but if we did continue further south, sidewalks were on the part of Don Mills Road close to the busy intersection. But the shorter back way into the park was before that on the other side of the road. So we waited for a small break in traffic and darted quickly across to the other side. We always made it there safely.

I never told Mom; but she never asked on this one.

Looking back, except for a few of these diversions I told the truth – or more often kept my mouth shut as I was shy.

Fast forward too many years to now in the 21st. century. Not a big truthful world. There are scams, frauds, lies, etc. etc. happening non-stop everywhere. You know who in the States is a master at this. It is hard to think that anyone is honest anymore.

However, I have met some honest people, people who do their best to tell the truth. Which is my policy now, with more complications. For one thing, I am no longer shy and I can be blunt and sarcastic when truthful. Sometimes words seem to come out of my mouth without my mind connecting first. This ties in with my sense of justice versus injustice and people being inconsiderate and doing the wrong thing, often making the situation unsafe. For example if I see someone acting badly, I often just chastise them…in public.

One of my biggest peeves is people who block the subway stairs just so they can stand there and muck around with their digital device. They stand at the top of the stairs. They stand at the bottom of the stairs; and they stand partway down (or up?) the stairs, oblivious of anyone going up or down the stairs.

So, there I come, senior citizen with bad feet and a bad left eye. I’m hanging onto the railing and carefully looking down at the steps and what is or isn’t ahead.

“You’re blocking the way,” I say to the person in front of me. Are his feet glued to the step?

He turns around and we get into a heated discussion.

“I’m a senior and I have to hang onto the railing and not have to go around anyone,” I say.

“There is another railing over there.” He points to the other side of the steps.

“Yes, but that is for people coming up the stairs to hang onto.”

And so it goes back and forth a bit. But he does move out of the way. (I can be persistent as well as honest and blunt). Afterwards I wonder what would happen to him or others who do the same in rush hour when people are zooming up and down the stairs and assume everyone else is doing the same. What if someone accidentally pushed against the digital device fanatic and the person fell? Seems like a hard lesson to learn for being stupid and inconsiderate.

So, I don’t feel bad about being honest telling these digital menaces off.

But I try to use another of my mom’s characteristics, one she may have had difficulty using – being diplomatic. You can’t always be bluntly honest. Sometimes using some diplomacy and tact can go a long way.

I am also working on going up to people I see doing some good and complimenting them. For example, when I was at the CNE in August, the young woman (probably a student doing a summer job) who was cleaning the Ladies Room was doing an excellent job and going about it quietly without getting in anybody’s way. When she was cleaning the sinks, I walked up to her.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She turned around and looked at me.

“You’re doing a good job,” I said. “I know it must be tiresome.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Honesty has many ways to present. Unfortunately so does dishonesty.

What do you think?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, Ethics, Honesty, Learning Experience, Mother and Child, Only child, Seniors

Only Child on rebooting your life

House front of my childhood home

Growing up an only child can often unleash a myriad of feelings. In me, the negative ones  were fear, loneliness, and often being the victim of bullying. My late mother used to help combat this by setting up a restful situation which I now call “rebooting my life”.

I was still in grade school, around eight years old. On sunny summer mornings when no one was around to play with, Mom would set up the card table, a chair, my big box of crayons, my colouring books and me outside on the front veranda. I could colour to my heart’s content. But more so, I got the chance to look around at the green grass which my Dad (sometimes with my help) mowed with the push mower, at the shrubs and  roses and at the quiet neighbourhood. Occasionally I heard a bird chirp. Seldom would a car whiz by on the street which I faced and never would a wasp dare to come near me – at least  not that I remember. But once in a while someone, maybe a neighbour I knew or didn’t know, would walk by on the street below. We would give each other the friendly eye and smile.

Today I do my own version of Mom’s rebooting my life. When things get overly problematic and/or busy (which they have this summer) I go out into my garden. I may dig in and remove weeds, pick berries or collect vegetables, but often I sit outside to eat my meals at the patio table in the backyard. Sometimes I sit in the shade of my neighbour’s overhanging black walnut tree and look out at the garden or read. Sometime I take photos of my garden. And yes, I do sometimes sit out front on my veranda, but I don’t colour. The recent trend (probably now passe anyway) of adults colouring in adult colouring books never caught on with me. Could be because I am a professional writer and amateur photographer. You really wouldn’t want me drawing anyway. I can’t even draw a straight line – with a ruler.

View of today’s backyard garden from patio

Dusk view from my current front veranda

However, looking back at my childhood (I know – my age is showing), I realize Mom had cottoned onto a good idea. We all need to reboot from all the stuff in our lives.

Only Child’s home and garden for her health circa 2011

Do you reboot? If you reboot, how do you reboot?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under 1950s, Crayons and coloring, Gardens, Life Balance, Mom and Dad