Only Child’s thoughts on son turning 40

Sharon and Martin

My son  Martin turned 40 on Saturday and that opens a whole she-bang of emotions and thoughts. Some are probably obvious, like we are all getting older. In this crazy world (and “crazy” is being kind), I’m not sure living to a ripe old age is a good idea. No, 40 isn’t a ripe old age, but getting into and being in seniorville – let’s just say the downs often overshadow the ups.

But, one of the ups is Martin – at 4o or 20. He  may not always answer my emails or phone calls promptly, but he helps me a lot – not just with computers (that’s his line of work) but with some life-threatening events. Events, such as the big unwelcome and uncalled for prolonged ice storm December 2013 in southern Ontario. The storm caused power outages, sporadic in locationa (a friend living near me had no power outage; Martin didn’t either) but I did and so did everyone on my street  for 48 hours. Others were without power for longer. Martin was on the phone constantly to me (I used my old landline phone on the wall which still worked – as long as I didn’t touch the wireless landline extension) to see how I (and the boarder and her cat living with me then) were coping. He told me what to do to remove the ice on the veranda and for a path down to the road without just hacking away with an axe and shovel. And when the temperature was going to dive down he insisted that we go to a downtown hotel and stay – at his expense. I just had to pay for the cab to get there. Martin also took us (not the cat) out for dinner at a nearby restaurant after he got us settled in (the cat, too) and got my laptop hooked up to the hotel’s wi-fi system for guests. He also phoned me when the power had come back on in my neighbourhood. He had found out from my friend next door who had texted  him. And he was there with a leased car and a ham and potatoes for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. And drove us home. He did stay out of it while the boarder and I pitched stuff still in the fridge that hadn’t fit in the temporary fridge (an old closed up from the outside milk chute) and a very few items from the big freezer. But he did cook dinner and we all exchanged Christmas presents.

He was raised by both parents, despite my ex and I being separated since Martin was a toddler. At first it was dicey, but once some routines were agreed on  – with the flexibility factor included – I think this joint parenting worked. My ex was good getting Martin into things like scouts and soccer   – just as well as I don’t drive, but we both kept tabs on Martin’s experiences in school, including going together to parent and teacher evenings for grade school. One year, Martin’s spelling was terrible (he was seven or eight) and so my ex and I, as a team, descended on the school, prepared to give his teacher hell for ignoring this spelling problem…until we arrived to meet her and saw her leg in a cast. We downplayed our anger to concern. The following year Martin had a teacher very concerned with his students’ spelling.

I wasn’t a harsh disciplinarian with my son, preferring to use what I had learned from a friend who had raise three children – the consequences method – all actions had consequences. Some of my work friends condemned or made fun of this attitude, but that and talking things out with Martin seemed to pay off. To paraphrase another friend, my son turned out well and I am proud of him.

Martin is also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and lap steel guitar with a local Toronto band called Beams. This Friday, Feb.23, Beams is holding the launch party for the release of its second CD at a bar called Little Budda in downtown Toronto. They will play around 11 p.m. but the opening band is earlier. My friend, Carol and I plan to go. Click on the Beams link HERE for their website with info on the CD and song excerpts and go to their Facebook page for tickets.

And oh, yeah he hasn’t missed any of the three book launches for my three Beyond mystery books.

He has been spending time with his dad and his dad’s wife and friends across the pond but now that he’s back I will be taking him and his girlfriend out for dinner one evening next week. I did email him a birthday greeting last week, complete with a 40th birthday cake graphic inserted in the email (e-cards got too confusing for me to work – they used to be easier to send).

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Actions Consequences, Help and Support, Martin Crawford

Only Child plows through overwhelm

Teddy keeping track of time

That little fellow sitting on the clock is going to continue to show up in at least some of my blog posts until I get a better handle on this time thing. But despite all the crap coming from outside, I have made some progress. In another post I’ll go into all the problems that have been shoved my way since last week. The ones I don’t cause but have to deal with the fallout for. No doubt more will zoom in before that.

I finally figured out how to tackle and get somewhere with clearing out all the paperwork in my office. And if you think my desk is piled with random paper scattered everywhere, uh, uh, no. What gets put on the desk while I work usually gets put away at the end of my work day. Ditto any filing that lands in the tray on top of the file cabinet. There is, however, a small metal rack on  my desk by the printer and some of that still needs clearing. But last Sunday I managed to sort out the papers that were lying under my daytimer, also beside the printer, and tackled some of the stuff in envelopes in that rack. Until I got down to the bits of paper, envelopes and the like that have addresses on them that need to be put in my address book. I know there is Outlook and the like online, but having tried some of that, unless it is email addresses and a list of family addresses and phone numbers, I prefer old-fashioned address/phone book – the small kind. As for those big fat Bell telephone books (do they even print those anymore), unless I want to check out how to use some of the extras with my phone service, I don’t use those phone books. I do check people’s addresses and phone numbers, restaurants, etc. online, though, plus search for items I need to buy (like humidifier filters) before I head out the door. And yes, I do by some online. But some items I just like to eyeball in person or with clothes, especially shoes, try on first.

Anyway, while tackling the items on that wire rack, I hit some business cards and that got me started on sorting them out. I have almost a whole side drawer of my desk filled with old business cards; most in those folders with plastic inserts to hold the cards. Those went back over 10 years when I was doing a lot of networking for my business. My “business” is much different now. I’m not into networking with small businesses per say. Besides the age of the cards (and some sticking to the plastic insert), what struck me is the ambiguity of the information on the cards. Yes, there was a person’s, name, phone number, email address and website. But their business names in 90 per cent of the case were so vague, you couldn’t figure out what they were doing. And no clear tagline to state what they do.

My business cards (designed by my son) read on one side:

To the right of my photo (see head shot near the top of my blog itself. It’s my brand photo that follows me around online):

Sharon A. Crawford

Writer/Editor/Instructor

We make words sparkle.

And my phone no.,  city and country, website and email address.

Other side features the front covers of my two latest Beyond mystery series Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith with above and below that:

Author of the Beyond mystery series

Published by Blue Denim Press

and the publisher’s website URL

 

Clarity is important.

And clarity is something I am using to tackle streamlining my life – business and personal. That card and other paper sorting and purging took one and a quarter hours. I figure one and a half hours a weekend will get the job done eventually and in a steady way.

Meantime, I came across a fabulous website that has all sorts of articles on reining in what you do. It is geared more towards business but there is some personal included. For example, one article states it isn’t a good idea to use separate calendars for business and personal because you could over book yourself. I already was following that. My “daytimer” has one page for each day and I draw a line (with a ruler) down the middle. At the top of one I put “Biz “and at the top of the other I put “Personal”.

One thing this article also said was a big reason people get overwhelmed with their day and just don’t get things done is they put first what others want them to do and put themselves last. The article says to do the latter. I agree, although if you have work deadlines you need to consider them. However, I am finding that some of the things I do for others, like workshop and course development and outlining, book promo (often for some of us authors together) I really like doing. So putting that first is like putting something I am doing for me first.

But that’s a whole other topic.

Here is the page with the article.

If you Google “fast company and scheduling” you’ll get a whole list of links to their other other articles.

As that egg commercial says, “get cracking.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Cover of Beyond Faith on back of my biz card

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond Faith, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child needs a time management boost

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

My late father used to sit at the kitchen table and re-set his watch based on the wall clock above the table. At dinner time. It annoyed my mom no end. But Dad was timekeeper for CN Railways (then CNR), so what did Mom or I expect?

I’ve inherited Dad’s penchant for keeping track of time and the related getting things done. Dad may have been better at it than me, and I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping the watch regulated – at least for me.

Despite going through the annual goals, etc. list (including purging unnecessary tasks, etc.), I am still in a big stage of overwhelm and spending too much time doing what isn’t a priority for me. Lots more has to be deleted from what I do and lots more has to be shoved onto the back burner, some maybe indefinitely and then eventually scrapped when I can stop holding onto them and let them go.

And letting go of the guilt that goes with dumping things you do, and even people, from your life. The latter sounds harsh, but I have had to evaluate who in my life I need to well, dump. This includes the obvious people I don’t like and/or we have nothing in common.

But I also have to consider where our values don’t jive. For example, being a responsible person and keeping promises is very important to me. So is being decisive. Here, I’m talking about something as simple as two friends deciding to meet at a specific event at a specific time, and one waffles either about if she will get there as she has so much else to do – or promising she will meet there and then she never shows up and I don’t get a phone call about it.

This the modus operandi of one of my so-called friends. There was even another friend involved for one event. Friend No. 2 and I were to meet the irresponsible one at at the annual Zoomer’s Show. The two of us waited and waited outside the show area for ages and guess who never showed up. At least we were waiting inside.

Let’s face it – stuff happens beyond our control. High on the list are getting sick and bad weather. But these are exceptions.

Also on my list is something that is harder to deal with but is a big time waster – problems that come from outside me and yes,  outside my friends and my relationship. Problems from utilities, governments and insurance companies. In most cases, they have caused the problem but I’m stuck with trying to get it straightened out. I can’t exactly cancel using the utility, or not pay my taxes, etc. Unfortunately, these things take time, my time.

And I resent it.

So, I’m going through my goals and the like again and weeding out more.

My health depends on it.

And dealing with health issues is another time-waster. However,  I have taken the recourse of doing what I have to do for my health – but if it is beyond what normal healthy people do for their health, then I do it when it is convenient for me. At least that’s what I’ve been trying out the past few months. Yes, sometimes I forget the damn eye drops, but you know, if it was safe to put one type of eye drop (three prescriptions although two are together), right after the other instead of waiting five or 10 minutes for the second drop, it would help. I don’t have time to stand around for five or ten minutes, so I go on to something else.

Then, forgot to put in the damn eye drops.

And don’t get me into wasting a half day at the ophthalmologist’s – two and a half hours minimum  in the waiting room. I have politely spoken to her about it, even suggested she hire another ophthalmologist, but that didn’t sit too well with her.

Do any of you have any ideas on time management? How do you manage your time in your daily living?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child on problems and anxiety

Pondering problem solving

A couple of weeks ago I had a fast lesson in something I believe in. It is something a bit off kilter from the usual psychological thinking about anxiety and problems. A lot of the thinking is on getting the anxious person to calm down, meditating, etc.

Well, folks that never worked with me because that doesn’t make the problem go away  or solve it. And I have almost a lifetime experience of being anxious and worrying. I come from it honestly – both my parents (my mother, in particular, were worry warts. Mom, could have won a prize as Biggest Worry Wart). So, maybe it is in the genes.

First, a disclaimer here – if the above don’t count as disclaimers – I am one of many people who have too many problems to deal with – often at once, at minimum one right after the other.

So, my lesson.

It really was something stupid. As often happens for whatever reason – health issues getting in the way again, too many things to do – I was running late to get out of the house and get to something very important – a TV taping for my latest book Beyond Faith on the Liquid Lunch at thatchannel.com. I am known for being really early or somewhat late, but this time I wanted to be a bit early.

After piling on all the winter outer clothing (another reason to hate winter), I raced outside. I had checked online for bus times, but of course, I got a later bus – but didn’t have to wait long for it. On the bus, I was practically having a panic attack, demanding that I get there on time to you-know-who.

For some reason I looked at my watch and had to look again.

According to my watch I was one hour early. I had to check the watch several times to make sure it was running. The second hand was going around at its usual speed, so the watch was working.

That was confirmed by the digital time at the subway station when the bus arrived there and I went down to the platform.

Somehow, while on the computer doing work before leaving I had misread the time on the computer.

Thank you, God, I said in my head.

And the worry, the anxiety suddenly left me and I felt calm and relieved and I had extra time, so stopped in a shop to get something I was going to get afterwards and did a bit of walking. I arrived about 20 minutes early – plenty of time to chat with the producer and sign the form and get inside the actual studio for the taping.

And I didn’t meditate or do any calming exercises. The problem disappeared and that was that. Not that all problems will disappear this easily. Many require a lot of work. But I still believe solving the problems is better medicine than meditation, etc.

Now, I have to apply my beliefs with two problems I now have – the guy I was paying to shovel my snow  didn’t show up this morning to shovel yesterday afternoon’s/evening’s and overnight’s snow – just under 10 cm. And of course with my precarious health, I am having more respiratory-virus related problems.

So, I will have to shovel the snow, which is not good for my health. Also I am a senior, so add that to health issues.  I may do some shoveling today and some tomorrow.

As for that snow shovellng guy – unless he is sick or his kid is sick, he will get the “gift of my wrath.” Those who follow this blog know I tend to treat people as they treat me – good and bad.

And that interview about my book? Here’s the link to where thatchannel.com posted it to You Tube. It is also archived on their website.

Meantime I’ll be doing this.

And this is how I feel about it all.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Actions Consequences, Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Meditation, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, snow shovelling

Only Child weighs in on Toronto’s plans to mitigate extreme weather

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University Toronto. Sharon A. Crawford photo

Continuing on from last week’s post on extreme weather and the devastation it causes, some places are actually doing something. The City of Toronto, for example is tackling the flooding issue by upgrading its storm and sewer systems in the older parts of Toronto. I live in one of them and because a previous council and Mayor screwed up back in 2000, with the sewers in my area (they put in the wrong type that apparently don’t do the job), it all has to be done again. My area is scheduled to have the streets, etc. dug up in 2020 or 2021. Because of the mess and more than inconvenience to me and the others in my neighbourhood with that fiasco, I am on watch and warning and have let my councillor know and why.

But the city councillors may have learned some lessons in that all upgrades will be done with other repairs, upgrades in the area at the same time, finishing up one area with all – sewers, street lights, intersections, streetscapes on the main street-  before going to the next. And we will have contact people and their info to nail if things go wrong. They are also going to make sure we know where to put our garbage and recycling during that time as that was one of the big complaints in 2000.

Logistics covered, what exactly is the point of the new storm sewers as far as basement flooding is concerned? I know from experience that not all basement flooding is caused by sewer systems that can’t hold all the excess rainfall water. My situation of basement flooding has a lot to do with foundation cracks, most of which are the fault of that jerk contractor Nigel Applewaite who didn’t do the water proofing correctly – he didn’t dig down far enough and when I called him on it, blamed it on drains and said to get the drains checked by the City. I did – twice – no problem then.

But, old storm sewers, catch basins and the like can factor in. I just have to look on my street and neighbouring streets to see how few catch basins there are and how the water puddles on the street. And why do I have two catch basins close together on my street when the others basins are so far apart? For those  more information on how storm sewers and the like operate go here.  As all this takes time, let’s hope it isn’t too little too late.

The other thing the City of Toronto has been doing  since 2010 requires new buildings of a certain height (and other criteria) to build a roof garden – this one is mainly to create more diversity, but also to help offset one aspect of global warming – help keep roofs and inside cooler on those extreme hot and humid summer days. Vegetation will do that. In fact Toronto has been touted as being the North American city with the most green roof space.

Then there is  global warming and one other thing cities seem to have way too much of – concrete. Concrete does not absorb water from rainstorms. Maybe the city should also consider getting rid of a lot of the concrete on the ground and putting in grass or gardens. Actually, there is some progress here. My area’s sewer replacement program includes putting in a water garden in the middle of one of the residential roads. Maybe we need more of that. And downtown open areas are being made into parks. Which is all good.

Here are some links to roof and other gardens.

Twelve of Toronto’s Roof Gardens

Toronto Botanical Gardens

High Park Garden in Toronto

Meantime, the extreme weather keeps barrelling in everywhere in the world. No place is safe anymore to live. God doesn’t seem to be doing much, if anything,  to help so we have to try to fix it ourselves.

I can’t put in a roof garden – even if I could afford it. My roof slants. But I have over the years planted perennial, herb and vegetable gardens in the ground – front and back of the house. I’ve had my downspouts disconnected and had extensions put on them, and have heat cables on the roof to try to melt snow and prevent it from changing to ice and ending up with ice jams, which when melting can end up in the basement. And letting others know who not to hire to water proof their basements.

What are you doing to offset global warming and the like?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University up close. Sharon A. Crawford photo

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basement Flooding, Gardens, Global Warming, Only child

Devastation from unholy weather continues in eastern Canada and US

Downtown Johnson, Vermont after flooding and snow. Dan Noyes photo

The disastrous weather continues and escalates. We in Toronto, Canada were spared – this time – with a bit of freezing drizzle and a bit of snow at the end of last week, but the east coast of Canada (particularly Corner Brook, Newfoundland and the United States (particularly Vermont) got flooded and iced out.

We are living in war zones, folks, and it doesn’t look like it will get better.

For those of you who blame all climate change on us humans – that  isn’t the whole story. When 20 to 21 per cent of climate change is caused by volcanoes, you can’t put the guilty tag on humans for that one. And there are scientific and historical facts that bluntly point to humans not being responsible. There is also plenty of the reverse – humans caused climate change and in doing so all the mess our climate is in now.

Here are a few links for both sides of the global warming issue. I’ll let you read for yourself and decide.

One hundred reasons why climate change is natural and not man-made

And a CBC story from Newfoundland with interviews, photos and videos of the devastation here
You can Google for more stories – pro and con.
My take? Some human causes; some “natural” causes.
And maybe “dog” spelled backwards has something to do with the natural causes – depending on what your beliefs are about God and how the world began.
One thing is clear to me. God does not seem to be listening to us most of the time when we ask to be spared from the devastating weather that destroys our homes, our cities and towns, our countries, our lives – yes, floods, ice storms, etc. kill people. Or help us when we ask for help in the aftermath. I am always amazed, and yes dismayed, when people who have lost their homes and are displaced thank God they are still alive. Be that as it may, I would like to revisit their stories six months down the road and see how they feel then.
So what is the answer?
I haven’t got one that will fix it all. But folks, I do know, we have to deal with all this devastation ourselves- prevention, when it happens, and afterwards. We are doing the latter  two – we are forced to. Prevention? Yes, some places had plans to fix that damn, etc., but then the floods came – with heavy rains. Too little too late.
Next post I’m going to show what the City of Toronto is doing towards the flooding issue (and let’s hope it is not too late).
Meantime, here is another recent flooding picture from Newfoundland

Washout near Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Anthony Germain CBC photo

Cheers.
Sharon
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, God

Only Child says snow and rain four-letter words

The weather outside is, has been and will be horrid this winter. This is not just in southern Ontario, but all over Canada, all over the US, all over the world. We can’t get away from it – no matter where we live. We cannot run; we cannot hide. This is a sad and sorry fact of life. And for those Pollyannas who look on the so-called bright side of the weather, unfortunately there isn’t much of a bright side with weather except for the sun when it is actually shining – not when the weather forecasts call for sunshine. What is called for and what is predicted don’t always match.

But often they do match – and it can get bad as the folks in Florida and other southern states found out a few days ago with the snow and freezing rain and in 2017 with the hurricanes. Then there are all the forest fires, floods, and tornadoes. As an example, if you want to put it in dollars and cents (definitely, not “sense”), the cost for all these “natural” disasters in the US for 2017 was $306 billion dollars. And these disasters also killed people. Read the story here in the Washington Post – story also goes into disasters around the world.

On a personal level in winter I am now in constant alert and have to do so many extra chores to try to protect my  small bungalow and its small property.  I have two sets of heat cables – one on the roof and in the eavestroughs and one around one downspout and its extension where ice jams form in below zero (Celcius) weather. I have snow on the roof to worry about and this year especially one corner where it piled up. This was in the Christmas holidays when no one was around to help me. So there I was standing on a patio chair and trying to remove the worst of it with a light-weight bamboo rake. To paraphrase a saying of a late aunt who was only 4’ll”, “I don’t know why the bad Lord made me so short.” I am only 5 ‘1″ and this is one of the few times I resent my lack of height. At that point I wasn’t concerned if it killed me, but because I was concerned about getting maimed, I was careful. I did manage to knock some off the eavestrough part, but the rest was stubborn – the heat cables were working for the rest of the roof and eavestroughs, but not that one corner  right in front of the chimney. I didn’t want and don’t want water getting into my attic or basement when it melts or my roof to collapse.

And for the first time in 10 years I don’t  have someone to shovel my snow regularly and for pay. Christmas Day, when my son and his girlfriend came to visit, they had to finish shovelling what I had struggled to do earlier that day. I notice some of my neighbours helping other neighbours shovelling some of their snow and without being asked.  But none of them bother with helping me with the snow shovelling when it is heavy. I guess they figure I’m out there shovelling and I can do it. Hah!

We have a warm spell now and it should help some. But not for long as we are going to get hit with a heavy storm Friday into Saturday – depending on where we live it might include ice. And that terrifies me because I remember the big ice storm here of December 2013, including its big power outage.

Monday morning there was a two-hour power outage and it included my area – this one had nothing to do with weather but everything to do with Hydro One screwing up with getting its power supply to Toronto.

Fortunately my street and the surrounding area was spared. A miracle? Does it give me hope for the future? Like snow and rain and hell, hope is a four-letter word. Over the years, and particularly the last 17, I’ve learned that particularly where weather is concerned, it is best not to wallow in being Polyanna. So I expect the worst because a lot of the time it happens. I have learned not to take much for granted. I have learned to be thankful for what is good that happens and to express my gratitude for it. But I have learned that unfortunately life contains a big hunk of darkness. Do I embrace this darkness? Never. But I am wary and try to keep informed.

Maybe that is my old journalist training. But it is more likely to be what I have learned from living. And I am a senior so I think I can truthfully say I have been around for a few decades.

Below are a few photos to recap the horrid weather in 2017

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Backyard patio snowed in

 

Williams Lake fire,photo courtesy of Stephane Livolski – from The Weather Network

 

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

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Filed under Eavestroughs and dowspouts, Extreme Weather, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Life demands, Snow, snow shovelling, Uncategorized