Only Child pays tribute to Dad for Father’s Day

My Dad

When I was growing up, dinnertime for Mom, Dad and me was sitting around the table in our small kitchen. Mom and Dad would sometimes be talking about the household budget while little ears lapped it up as well as the food – often leftover roast. But Dad had one habit that drove Mom crazy.

He looked at his watch, then up at the wall clock above the table, then back to his watch, lifting up the expansion band. I expected it to go “boing, boing,” but it was silent.

Not  Mom.

“Albert, do you have to keep doing that?” she would ask.

“Have to take it in to get regulated,” Dad replied. He had good reason for this.

You see, my late father worked for the railway, CN (or CNR as it was called back in the 50s and 60s). He was a timekeeper but he worked in the head office, then in downtown Toronto. As far as I know he wasn’t out on the tracks timing the trains. But who knows. The trains came in right by his office at Toronto’s Union Station.

Only Child loves train travel although engines aren’t steam anymore

He carried this penchant for time when the three of us rode the rails travelling in the summer. It was a free ride, and not just for Dad. Mother had the spouse’s free pass and until I turned 19 I had the child of the CN worker’s pass. Mom got unlimited free rides; I was limited to seven a year. But we never took more than three or four trips a year – and one would be not really a holiday. There were a lot of funerals in my family and a few weddings.

But that’s for another post. Today’s post is all about Dad and time. When we rode the rails, Dad made sure we arrived at Union Station early – sometimes two hours before train time. Did Dad think we would miss the train?  No. He was just doing his job outside his job. No one missed his scrutiny – from the cab driver who drove us to Union Station – via a different route than Dad had dictated to who carried our luggage (not the red cap porter) to the trainman who collected our tickets once we had boarded the train. Dad’s favourite expression was “Typical CNR” which could be taken as either a bad review or I suppose even a small compliment. At any rate Dad and his watch kept close company.

But riding the rails had its fun, interesting and now looking back – nostalgic times. Nothing like the murder and other crimes that occur on the train to Hanover in my short story “Porcelain Doll” (Beyond theTripping Point, Blue Denim Press, 2012).

Consider the times we were travelling in – mid to late 1950s and early 1960s. Right when train travel in Ontario was still in its heyday – although not for much longer with the almighty automobile starting to take over. (Note: my parents didn’t drive so we had no car).

Our main annual trip was to visit the farm relatives on my mother’s side of the family. That took us to Mildmay Ontario (a few miles from Walkerton, the town that had the bad water scandal in 2000), and Lucknow, Ontario. Then we had to take three trains, which meant two changes. But what rides and what differences. The trains from Toronto to Guelph had diesel engines. The one from Guelph to Palmerston still had a steam engine whose noise used to scare me and my constant travelling companion, my doll Darlene. Guelph was also an interesting ride through. As that second train started out from Guelph, looking out the windows you could see the train was running on a track right in the middle of a street. It is still that setup today (although the trains are more modern) and it still makes me hold my breath when travelling through. The third train, with its short ride from Palmeston to Mildmay, was the most interesting. The “coach” we rode in was actually a sleeper car and Daddy would go into a short talk on the closed dark wooden bins above which came down and turned the area into a bedroom. I also remember the texture of the seats – they itched the back of my bare legs.

Only Child at 13 with Mom and Dad at the Lucknow farm

Dad has been long gone (he died of brain cancer, at 66. I was 16). However, I have inherited his penchant for time. I must get what is on my daily to-do list done that day and God help anyone or anything who interferes (Telemareters and long-winded acquaintances on the phone pay attention). But I also go after transit that is not on time, but not the CN, or VIA rail which has taken over the railway passenger service in most of Canada. No, it’s the city public transit, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) which more times than naught, messes up on its schedules. So I sometimes complain online about the incident. Couldn’t do that back in the day.

Guess I do have my father to thank for to be aware of time. And in line with that, on this upcoming Father’s Day I will honour my late father by thinking of him and toasting him – not with his favourite drink – beer, which I don’t really like – but wine. It’s the thought that counts. I’m sure Daddy would understand.Happy Father’s Day Daddy (wherever your spirit is), from your little railway brat.

How are you honouring your Dad this Father’s Day?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

C

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Father's Day, Only child, Time management, Train travel

Gardening between the rainfalls

Mom in her backyard garden 1944

I come from a long line of gardeners and farmers. My grandparents had farms and my mom grew up on one of them. When she came to Toronto to work, met my dad and married him, when they bought their first house, the one I grew up in – they made a garden, It was like a ritual every spring and when I came along, even at four and five years of age I got into the act. Each spring, Mom and Dad turned the soil, Mom planted vegetable seeds and I helped her do the latter  – with a lot of instructions from  her. After the soil-turning, Dad looked after mowing the lawn – with a push mower.

Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April

I also use a push mower to cut the lawn and like my mother I have to have my garden.

But in order to have a garden, you have to be able to get out there and work the garden, remove the weeds, plant the seeds, baby the perennials coming up again.  This year it’s been raining too much in southern Ontario so I am literally sometimes out there gardening between rainstorms. Meantime, out in British Columbia and Alberta it is dry, dry and there are spreading wildfires. Somebody up there got the weather mixed up – we need the rain to fall in western Canada and eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces) need some dry periods – like more than just a day, or just a few hours.

So, I’ve been slowly making my garden beautiful. At least it is green and the perennials are coming up and blooming. So is the lettuce and onions I planted.

Do you garden? How does your garden grow?

Here are a few early photos of my garden. Enjoy

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

Waiting to be planted

 

Waiting to assist with the planting

 

A few perennials among the weeds

 

Rhubarb ready to pull, cook and eat

 

Bringing some flowers inside

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Gardening, Mom and Dad

Only Child’s Mother’s Day was mixed bag

Martin and I outside Allen’s  on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day in Toronto was grim, gray, cold, windy and later rainy. So I was looking forward to a bright light in the day – brunch with my son, Martin. At my request he had booked a table for brunch at Christina’s a different restaurant than usual. But when I arrived a few minutes after him and walked over to the table where he sat, I got a shock.

Martin told  me that when he came to the table he was told that they weren’t doing brunches today, only regular lunch and dinners. I spoke to the waiter and then the manager. They also told me they weren’t doing any breafasts and the owner said that this was just for today, not other Sundays. I looked around at the almost empty restaurant.

On Mother’s Day? What was the owner thinking? Does he live in another universe? And this obviously stupid move was NOT on their website. I had checked the website before Martin reserved..

Martin and I didn’t have to talk about this much. We agreed to leave and go elsewhere. So we walked out. He called our usual Mother’s Day brunch spot – Allen’s on the Danforth and managed to book a table starting in fifteen minutes. He started to call for an Uber but I said we could walk it and I had to stop in a green grocers on the way there to get some lettuce. Which we did.

Allen’s was like old home – food and service. And they had brunch including his favourite salmon and my two scrambled eggs with hash fried sweet potato. We told the waiter about our experience at Christina’s and said we should have come here first. So, Martin and I had our bright spot with Mother’s Day. And outside on the small patio, he took a shot of us – well fed and happy. I’m glad this worked out because I relish the time I spend with my son. We are both busy – him with work and the band he plays guitar in (Beams), so we don’t get together too often and  so connect on Facebook. I missed Martin’s partner, Juni, who usually comes with him, but she was just getting over food poisoning. I’ve had that before and it is not nice.

Both Martin and I discussed what to do about Christina’s. I said I was going to do a bad review on Yelp and he was going to complain via the company he reserved the table through online as they would email him a request for feedback. So, I joined the Yelp crowd and posted my review of both restaurants. For Christina’s and for Allen’s. And I just looked and it appears to not be there on  Christina’s. But I was straightforward, not rude. No reviews are posted there after May 10, so maybe. I’ll wait befoe reposting. Christina’s bad service does get a mention on my Yelp Review of Allen’s here. Scroll down. It’s under “Sharon C.”

So, I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

It is important to spend time with your family.

It is also important not to let businesses screw around with your well, business, and/or engage in false advertising (remember this change was not on their website).

It is also important to take nothing in life for granted or you will be screwed. Something I have to keep reminding myself.

A belated happy Mother’s Day to all mothers.

And the weather? It is supposed to be warmer and sunnier this week with just a bit of rain. But I’m not taking that forecast for granted.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Consumer action, Customer Service, Family, Martin Crawford, Resaurants

Only Child says anger not always bad

Only Child behind barbed wire

When I was a child I hid my anger under shyness and the belief that you don’t show your anger because others might retaliate and hurt you. Let’s face it I was a wimp when growing up. Perhaps it was due to my  personal background or just the mores of the times (1950s and 1960s). More likely both.

Nowadays as a senior, I am not afraid to show my anger.

Let me clarify that. It is only verbal and written. I do not condone physical violence and I don’t condone verbal and written anger  that is sexist and racist. There is never any excuse or reason for that.

But on a personal level I will tell someone off if they are blocking the subway doorway and I and others can’t get off or (and my big pet peeve), they are standing on the steps down to the subway platform and playing with their digital device. I also tell bus drivers off if they are really late arriving (although for this I am more likely to just not say “thank you” as I exit the bus). My usual exit is to thank bus drivers as I leave the bus. In the majority of cases bus drivers are just doing their job and some go out of their way to help passengers.

Not so the “clown” driving the Woodbine bus I took last evening. Not only was he late (the next bus was almost on his tail), but he sped away from the stop as soon as I used my Presto card to pay. As I struggled and lurched to get seated, I yelled, “It  might be a good idea to let us sit down first.” Fortunately I landed in a seat without injury. And why was this bus driver in such a rush? He just had to make the green light half a block away down the street. He missed it and had to wait. Thank God or somebody for Karma.

On a wider scale I am also angered by government cuts in funds to libraries, education and healthcare, something we in Ontario are now experiencing that the populist you-know-what Doug Ford and his Conservative cronies who rule the roost are doing. I am also angered by the lax sentences for murderers and other perpetrators of heinous crimes under the Criminal Code in Canada and I covered that in a recent post. And if you harm a child, harm someone who is disabled, you get my wrath too.

Anger, I find can be redirected into action with the forming of community groups and the like to make changes, for example public transit riders groups (I know; I seem to be on this public transit kick). Even just writing this post is a good redirection or writing a short story.

I am not alone in being angry some of the time. See Facebook and Twitter and news clips. t seems to be a sign of the times and the number of people being angry over specific things is increasing according to a Gallop Poll from last year which went through 142 countries. See here for the poll info which also covers worry – and that does go hand in hand with anger. The age bracket for most angry was not us seniors, but it went up to age 49.

So what about us seniors?

That’s fodder for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anger, Life demands, Only child

Pictures can help you write your memoir

 

For those of us writing a memoir or who want to do so, sometimes we get stymied. Where do we start? What do we focus on? What happened in our life that really affected us?

Of course, we may have a specific area of our life we want to focus on. But our memories can play tricks on us. Our memories can “hide” a wealth of information about our past, the people in it and our emotions during those times – even if we think we know how we felt.

So, use pictures to trigger your memory and its whole enchilada. I don’t mean just old family and friend photos. But buildings – your school, the house you grew up in, streets, transit (cars and public), old new-story photos, old ad, even cemeteries.

And even the above which may not be your family photo, may not be a streetscape you are familiar with. You are thinking of the time and what is actually in the picture and transferring it (in your  mind) to your story.

As some of you know, I teach various memoir writing workshops and courses at Toronto Public Library branches. And as the above hints at, the next one, on April 16, is called Using Your Pictures to Create Your Memoir. Most of my memoir writing workshops and courses have something about pictures, particularly those old family and friend photos. An interesting thing I keep discovering is that even if the picture is of my family or friends or me or the house I grew up in – it will always trigger some memory (not connected to me) in some of the participants.

“Oh, the picture of your dad reminded me of my dad.”

“The picture of your house reminded me of the house I grew up in.”

“That picture of your friends reminded me of something that happened with my sister/some of my friends.”

The pictures take on a generic form. And that can happen with transit and streetscapes. For example, a picture of a streetcar can bring up memories of you riding in a streetcar in the past,  lead to something (good or bad) that happened to you while riding a streetcar. Who were you with? What was your relationship to them? And taking it beyond the streetcar ride, what else happened to you and them, especially if a sibling, parent, or close friend? How did you feel towards them? Does it bring up emotions – sad, happy, angry, etc.? And this can lead to more stories with them and maybe with the streetcars. Maybe your dad drove a streetcar or a bus. What were his stories about that?

You can see where a simple picture can lead you in your memoir writing.

Here are the details of my workshop. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in taking it, there is still time to register. And it is free. Yes, I get paid by the library for teaching these workshops.

Using Pictures to Create Your Memoir

Tue Apr 16, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
90 mins

Location

S. Walter Stewart Library

S. Walter Stewart

In this memoir-writing workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford shows how old photos, news stories, ads, streetscapes, and pictures etched in your mind can help create your memoir. Includes how to do picture research and research kick-started by pictures. Through discussion and writing exercises with feedback, you will get a start on your memoir. To register or for more information, please call 416-396-3975.

Meantime, look, really look, at the photo at the top of the post. And see where it leads you in your life.

And the picture below my signature.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Libraries, Life, Only child memoir, Writing workshops

Only Child horrified at Humboldt truck driver’s light sentence

 

What’s wrong with this picture below?

The  truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who killed 16 members and associates of the  Humboldt Bronco hockey team and injured 13 more in Saskatchewan last April has been sentenced to eight years in prison for each count of dangerous driving causing death. He also received a five-year sentence for 13 counts of dangerous driving, to be spent concurrently.

The judge wanted to send a message and even though this is the highest sentence ever given for dangerous driving causing death in Canada, the sentence could be 14 years at its upper limits. Even though 14 years isn’t really enough for what Sidhu did, the message would have been clearer with the 14 years. And none of this serving the two sentences  concurrently. Adding the two sentences that were actually given together, that would then be 13 years.

It is possible that Sidhu, who is a  resident of Canada, not a Canadian citizen,  could be deported back to India after serving his sentence.

However, deportation or not, I am still incensed and troubled by the judge’s sentence. The message I’m getting is that Canada’s justice system  (such as it is – and I have said before that many of its sentences are too lenient for heinous crimes) seldom applies the full amount of years allowed in sentencing. Or rather the courts, i.e., the judges don’t. I am not sure how that sends a message to other drivers.

And yes, I know 100 years wouldn’t bring back those he killed. I get that. But there is something really wrong with all of this and some questions still sit uncomfortably in my mind.

And yes, I also know Sidhu pleaded guilty and showed remorse.He also offered his sympathy to the victims’ families.

“I don’t know why this happened,” Sidhu said. “They don’t sit alone. I have kids, too.”

And he wasn’t drinking when driving. No distracted driving issues seem to have come up in the investigation.

But…

The forensic report said that Singh did not brake for the stop signs. These signs were increased in size after previous accidents at the same location. The report also stated that no environmental issues (like trees) blocked his view.

It was clear outside and there were no weather issues.

I also have issues with the company he was driving for.

Sidhu had been driving for this Calgary, Alberta company for only a month.

The company, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd, is small and appears to have only one other truck and one other “staff” – the owner, Sukhmander Singh.

The company had only been in business since the fall before the crash.

Although before the Humboldt crash, the company had no serious charges or infractions, they did have one minor infraction found in a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspection defect from the Northwest Territories. The company violated the federal hours of service regulation.

The owner took the company’s other truck off the road right after the accident. The company also had its license suspended until the investigations were complete.

All this raises questions.

What kind of training did Sidhu have to drive a big tractor trailer?

Because he was driving a company truck, shouldn’t the company bear some responsibility for the crash? I couldn’t find any report of the truck not being fit for driving, but isn’t it usual when an employee commits a criminal act, the employer shares in the blame and the sentence? Or am I just being naive here? And I’m not saying it should be spread 50-50 because after all it was Sudhu, not the company or owner, who was driving the truck when he crashed into the bus.

Someone once said the law is an ass. I’m not sure what the context was then. But certainly not sentencing to the fullest when necessary does make the law (or some of its courts) look like the proverbial donkey.

Anyway, I suggest you read some of the stories about this horrific crash and its aftermath and decide for yourself. Reading the court records would be helpful.  Meantime, here are a few of the stories from newspapers, etc. published online and/or in print, some of which I perused for my information. However, opinions in this post are mine. You can Google for more stories.

Truck driver in Humboldt crash worked with Calgary company for ‘about a month’, by Ryan Rumbolt, Calgary Herald Local news, updated April 11, 2018

Jaskirat Sidhu: What we know about the driver charged in the Humboldt Broncos crash, by

Driver in Humbold crash gets 8 years, by Claire Theobald (Toronto) Star Edmonton, March 23, 2019 (print copy)

No wonder I write mystery fiction (Beyond series) where the criminals get their just desserts. And it is not always jail time.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Dangerous Driving and Canadian Law and Sentences, Highway Collisions, Humboldt Crash

Only Child says Spring is springing

Only Child’s spring garden 2018

Today, spring officially arrives. Exact time depends on where you live in the northern hemisphere. Here, in Toronto it is today at 5.58 p.m. and I plan to celebrate – not with a drink, but with buying a plant, a pansy, providing the garden centres (read Home Depot here) have some in. I want to put the plant front and centre on the small red table on my front veranda. Pansies can survive temperatures down to 26 F and it it gets too cold temporarily, I can bring the plant inside for a bit.

Back when I was a child (in the grey ages of course, i.e., mid-1950s), my mom and dad were already out in the garden digging and doing other prep work to plant vegetables – well in early April, not March. But April is coming soon. I was not far behind, waiting to get into the garden and learning what to do from my mom. Guess that’s where I got my gardening bug.

But I am doing some gardening preparations. Finally got my seed order into the seed company – as usual in mid-March. But all those problems (which still keep coming) stole and steal my time from what I want to do and need to do. Often those coincide but when the latter means fixing big problems, I resent that.

So, I hope the sun, spring and warmer weather will kill all the problems and maybe “burn” the perpetrators a little. And “burn” can be taken in other ways than fire. I don’t wish the latter on anybody.

Enjoy the spring. Meantime, here are a few photos from my gardens past to enjoy.

Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April

 

Only Child in her backyard patio

 

Backyard Garden 2018

 

Tulips in bloom spring 2018 backyard garden

Happy Spring.

Sharon

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Filed under 1950s, Gardens, Mom and Dad, Only child, Spring