Monthly Archives: May 2012

Only child goes out into the garden

Only Child and her late Mom in the backyard garden. Mom is sitting in a Muskoka chair.

This morning before starting work I went out into the garden. I do this every day to relieve the stress before it gets to me. The plan was to transplant some basil, nasturtium and a coleus, and put the hose away because we are supposed to finally get some rain. Then I planned to sit out on the patio and eat breakfast.

Instead I stared at some of the many weeds and started yanking them. I know weeding is therapeutic (especially when you pretend the weeds are your problems and/or the problematic people in your life). However, weeding is turning into a routine almost every time I head out into the garden. This helps with decreasing the weed population – for now. But there is more to gardening than pulling weeds.

I am enjoying the lush early display of roses thanks to our early hot weather and snapped a few photos this morning. I do “tour” the garden (and snatch up weeds as I walk around) and I do sit out in the garden and actually do nothing but drink wine or water and read a book. And eat my meals out on the patio or on the veranda while sitting in my new Muskoka chair (a holdover from my childhood when that’s what you sat on in the backyard or on the veranda).  Maybe the weed yanking is also a family holdover. My mother was a gardener and she did a lot of weeding. She also grew beautiful rose bushes, including red roses climbing around an archway.

Still, I can’t help thinking that I need an attitude change here. I need to go into the garden to enjoy it – whether I am weeding or reading or planting or touring. This is my escape from the harsh realities of my life. Heck, most of the time I don’t even take the cordless phone outside. If anyone wants me they can leave a message – unless they are telemarketers – they can go, to put it politely, where the sun doesn’t shine.

And speaking of gardening and reading. A study at Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands featuring people spending time in the garden and spending time reading shows that gardening relieves stress more than reading. I wonder if reading in the garden would relieve stress even more. Check out the study published in 2010 at http://hpq.sagepub.com/content/16/1/3.abstract

I did transplant the nasturtium and basil but left the hose lying in the driveway. We’ve had so many wrong forecasts of rain in the past two weeks. I’ll believe it’s raining today, when it actually rains.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child’s late Dad under Mom’s rose archway

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Home first memoir, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child memoir, Problems, Reading, Roses, Shopping

Only Child clarifies the aloneness issue

Only Child with son, Martin, and two of the Michigan cousins

Got an interesting comment to my post last week (see Comments). While I’ve tried living with other onlies (mostly boarders) and found it didn’t work, reading Jen’s comment helped me clarify what I really mean. The problem isn’t living alone per se, but being alone. There is a difference.

Let me explain by using the example of a friend of mine who used to live down the street. She and her partner didn’t live together but spent weekends together, usually at her house. He was also there sometimes during the week, if only for the evening and helped her a lot with her house. She pulled her own weight as well. She also got to know his three sons from when he was married. (He was separated.) My friend and her partner travelled together throughout the US and Canada. They were considering moving in together after he retired or a few years later after she retired. And if you are wondering why the past tense, no, they didn’t split up. Their relationship lasted seven years; then he died suddenly from brain cancer.

Which again reminds me of one of my ex-boyfriend’s comments (which I’ve also posted before). “Life isn’t fair.” I have a corollary to that, something I’ve learned from what I’ve seen, heard and read and from personal experience.

Whenever someone is experiencing happiness, enjoy it, because it may not last.

The other thing Jen helped me look at was the siblings’ issue. Obviously I don’t have any. But I have cousins  – there are six in one set and seven in another. I know, rather large numbers, but we’re talking Catholic born in the 1950s and 1960s. I have noticed how close they are and how much they help each other with problems. Two examples: when one cousin was building her backyard deck, many of the cousins (including the inlaws) helped her. On a more serious note, when my godfather, father to the six cousins, got to the point where he had to go into a nursing home, they all worked together on this. And when he was living there, they not only spent a lot of time visiting him, they also held sibling discussions on how things were going there. I know because I went with many of them on the visits and two of them discussed their dad’s life at the nursing home, including how he was treated by the staff, when I was out to dinner with them.

This is what I mean by siblings helping each other. They are very close although it does help that all but one live near each other. Some of their kids are changing the geography, but my cousins go out of their way to bring us all together. Last summer when I was visiting one cousin couple, their oldest son, now living in California, was coming up with his girlfriend to visit them. My cousins arranged a family lunch get together (homemade pizza – everyone chose their own topping).

And these cousins go out of their way to help me with my visits to them. I don’t drive, so I take the train where I can to get to their places. But they not only pick me up at the train station, but organize who I stay with (several live in Stratford, Ontario) and one takes me up to their cottage. Last year two of them took me to public gardens (Yes, we are a family of gardeners, except for one couple). And two more cousins from Michigan made a special trip up in their mobile home to visit with us all when I was there.

Before you think my relationship with all my cousins is perfect – we have differing views on religion, how to treat others, and what to do when we personally get too old to manage on our own. But we try to respect our differences. That is probably harder for me than for them.

And of course I have my son and his partner who help with some things.

It’s just the what I call “house crap” and “computer crap” that jumps out at me and often the lack of enough money and time that upsets me. Some things where a partner could share – like with my friend who used to live down the street. If truth be told, I probably would be a “bear” to live with now. And maybe I wasn’t that easy to live with when I was married many years ago.

Perhaps that’s the legacy of growing up an only child.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Aloneness, Family and Friends, Family Flak Memoirs, Happiness, Help and Support, Only child, Sharon Crawford, Siblings and friends

Only Child looks at helping friends living alone

Only Child contemplating how to help friends and not neglect herself.

After last week’s rant on the perils of living life as an only person, I had some sense knocked into me. I emailed one of my friends whom I hadn’t heard from for a few months. Turns out her health is in turmoil (and I suppose her life because of it.) She has a very bad back condition and can barely move.

But she is also living  on her own. That tells me something I posted last week rings true. I bet if I did a survey of older adults (take your pick on where to start age-wise), that those living alone have more difficulty coping with financial problems, health problems, house (and other residential) living conditions, etc. Okay, I know some “older adults” are rolling in money but if they live on their own, there are still the other conditions. And unfortunately, it is we women who seem to suffer the most, at least in my experience – not just personally, but what I’ve seen and read about.

So where does this leave us onlies with no partner or sibling support? My friend’s condition jolted me into deciding that we onlies have to support each other. If not, who else will? The problem here is the time-old one of well, time. How do you find the time? How much are you “your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper?” How much should you intrude in others’ lives? You can’t just go in and say, “Okay, Annie (or whatever your friend’s name is), we/you have to do this. You have to move. You have to get assisted living help. You have to eat healthier. You have to slow down. Put yourself in your friend’s place. How much interference and downright dictating do you want from even a close friend. What is the answer?

One thing I decided is to be more aggressive in getting my life in balance, so there can be time to help my friends. I am going through everything that I do with the proverbial fine-tooth comb and stuff is getting the boot. So far I’ve reinstated not working on weekends, even answering business email or returning business phone calls. I also am not doing another session of my Yoga classes. Some of you may call that a bad choice but I’m finding the once-a-week class (at 6 p.m.), although it helps my health, is also in the way of doing other things that take priority. And rushing to Yoga class right after rushing to finish work for the day crosses out any benefits from the class. Trying to do a few gentle Yoga stretches a few times a week might be better. I’m also active in the garden now and walking more. Now, what else can I dump? I can certainly cut back on the housework, something I don’t like doing unless it is clearing out stuff.

As for my friend, I talked very briefly to her on the phone as she was just taking another pain pill. She has to clean out the garage attached to where she lives because the landlord is tearing the garage down. She asked if I knew anyone who could help her move her stuff stored in the garage (She does have another garage down the road to store her belongings in). I got busy on the phone and found three possibilities (two are brothers and would work together). However, she hasn’t been able to do anything more about it – she has to see how able she is to move herself first. My ex used to tell me when I complained about something that there are others much worse off than me. I used to hate that. Perhaps he was right. When we are in the throes of a problem we don’t want to hear about others starving or in poor health. That’s human nature.

So, what do you think? How can we help our friends, especially those on their own,  without imposing ourselves like little dictators and still not neglect our own lives?

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Friends, Health, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Pain, Sharon Crawford

Only Child chased by technological woes

How Only Child feels about her laptop’s operating system and the company that makes the system.

I want to go back a few years, at least to the mid 1990s when computer technology wasn’t so complicated and we still had email. Or maybe back further to the early 1960s – at least my parents were still alive. Living the life of an only person is getting tougher and tougher financially, especially when technology gives me a hard time to the tune of dollars and no sense. I’m ready to throw a very hot towel at a few companies. For my own protection I’m not naming companies, although readers can probably guess one of them.

Here’s what is going on:

  1. Last week, my computer techie (no, not my son. I do hire a computer tech service biz for some things) had to reinstall my laptop software because Windows 7 refused to get me connected via my password. Fortunately, my techie is good, so he found Windows 7 hidden on my hard drive, as well as some other programs and my files, plus downloaded/installed the others. But it was Windows 7 from when I got my laptop two years ago. So 98 updates had to be installed. Done by me, no less after the techie left. Yesterday I decided to check the updates downloaded and “ready” to be installed (I have a suspicious nature thanks to past experiences), Guess what stared me in the face? A service pack update. My techie just installed that five weeks before the password problem. No matter how many times I removed the tic mark before that one (or five other updates) and despite hitting “ok” afterwards, when I checked back, the same damn updates were clicked again, including the service pack update. As soon as I shut down the laptop, it would install. That sucker takes an hour to install and does it in stages. I wasn’t comfortable about doing it last time so had my techie do it; and I wasn’t comfortable doing it now. So I had to leave the laptop on overnight until this morning when he arrived to fix the system. He did and there were several more updates connected plus he installed an updated version of my anti-virus program. He gave me a discount but the two visits cost me just over $400.. I’m still going to try and collect from you know-what company – I can hear you now “Good luck.” However, I subscribe to Windows Secrets, the newsletter put out by Windows guru Woody Leonhard and I’m going to email them about my situation.
  2. My cable TV service provider lied last year. When Canada’s TV services went from analog to digital a techie at my cable company reassured me that if I have cable service I didn’t need to get a digital converter or adapter. I’d still get the service. At the end of April I received an important notice from the cable company. Guess what? All cable TV stations are being converted from analog to digital – gradually this year. The first wave starts May 31. They are providing a free digital adapter and free courier delivery, with no extra monthly fees, but are vague about who pays for the installation. The key words are “it is easy to install.” Yeah, right, if you’ve done it before” as a friend told me. I am also still waiting for delivery of the adapter seven business days after ordering by phone (all recorded voices). You get a phone number to call for initialization when it’s installed. Initialization? What is this? A credit card? Also, nothing is free as my rates went up one month before this notice arrived. I called the company’s billing number. As I suspected they’ve run out of adapters and it’s on order and should be here near the end of May. There is a charge if their technician installs it but I’m getting $5. off my monthly bill for a year because I’m a longtime customer, which I’m told is not connected to installation charges for the adapter. Really? A promotion that is run concurrently with this adapter nonsense?
  3. No. 2 brings up another technological problem in the electric department. The outlet by the TV is an old-two prong (the house was build in 1949 and not all outlets were upgraded to three-prong). While the adapter itself is two-prong (with an adapter – pun intended – plug-in) when you add in my TV and a lamp, I need a power board. Power boards are three-prong. The alternative is to run an extension cord across the front of the covered radiator to the other side of the room for the lamp. That outlet is three-prong. My neighbour across the street, an electrician, suggested doing this when I asked him if he would upgrade my electrical outlet. He refused to help me. Even if I could afford a digital TV, the outlet would still need to be changed to a three-prong. I’m going to ask the handyman I hire to do odd jobs as he is also trained in electrical work.

These are the fallouts from being an only person – no siblings and no partner to help. “Help” is a four-letter word which can mean anything from “money” to “knowledge and experience” to “moral support.”

Usually I like to take a learning experience spin on these setbacks. However, the only lesson learned here is to continue to be suspicious, to read between the lines and to ask questions and get facts. Be like a good journalist. Remember the old saying, “buyer beware.” That seems to apply beyond buying scenarios.

And to pile on more client work to pay the bills.

Comments from readers?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Aloneness, Computer problems, Consumer action, finances, Learning Experience, Only child, Problems, Sharon Crawford, Technology problems, TV digital analog problems

Only Child on blogging and ABC award nominees

Only Child reading some of her writing scribbles

Now that I’m one of the recipients of the ABC Blog Award, it’s my turn to nominate a few bloggers whose blogs I like. As far as I know they haven’t been nominated for this award.

But first let’s look at another post that inspired me and I hope inspires you from Bloglovin.

http://www.feelgoodtribe.com/2012/04/30/crazy-talk-the-do-what-you-love-guide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=crazy-talk-the-do-what-you-love-guide  (Sophie has posted an inspirational article by Leo Babauta), I can really connect with the message, especially the number one point: “If you don’t think it’s possible, do a small easy test. Don’t think you can start a blog? Sign up for a free WordPress.com or Blogger.com account and do a short post. Don’t tell anyone about it. Just write a post. It costs nothing, risks nothing, takes almost no time. But you will learn you can do that one little thing, and if you pass that test, you now know your theory of impossibility was wrong. You can do this with any skill, btw, not just blogging.”

That was me. I’ve wanted to blog for years and I knew it had to be something about writing, but what? I am involved in so many areas of writing – writing short stories, writing memoir, writing personal essays, writing a novel (or rewriting, more accurately), writing magazine and newspaper articles, teaching writing workshops and courses, and the other side of the fence – editing books and short stories. Encompassing all that in one blog could put the posts all over the place.

Finally I decided to centre my posts on the memoir which (at that point) I was still writing and fan out from its main focus – i.e., growing up in the 1950s and 1960s as the only child of elderly parents when your Dad is dying of cancer. Sometimes I quote excerpts from the memoir, where appropriate to the post, but often I’m into the fallout of being an only child (now only person) and what I have to face alone. That gets me into health issues, social issues, and well, writing a memoir. And being an “old journalist” I have to do research, so I hit the Internet. My Blog Link list is very long but it’s there so anybody can find more information.

So, with purpose and focus in hand (on my laptop actually) including my About the Blog and a sample first post, I went down to my son, Martin’s for help getting set up on Word Press. He’s the computer expert. That was the beginning of November 2009. Occasionally I still ask him a question about something in Word Press but I’ve learned a lot on my own.

I’ve also learned a lot from my readers, although I don’t have as many as Bloglovin or Leo Babauta  http://zenhabits.net. It is great to connect and share ideas (even though I am sometimes a bit slow getting back). Often what other bloggers write inspires me for my post (like today’s); often it is something in the news; often it is something happening in my life. Whatever it is, as Leo says, it is something I feel passionate about – whether it is gardening or writing or something on the down side, such as when a car hit me in a parking lot  or I got lost in the fog. These things all have deeper meanings than what occurs on the surface. Lost in the fog, for example, also means I sometimes feel lost (and overwhelmed) in what is going on in my life. That is an indication I need to take some action and will probably be learning another lesson.

And these bloggers have taught me much and they are the ones I am nominating for the ABC Award:

Bloglovin  http://www.feelgoodtribe.com/ Sophie has inspiring posts for a healthy mind, body and soul.

Alex Leybourne http://alexlaybourne.com/ He is another author – short stories and novels who posts about his writing – really gets to the gut of it. Inspiring.

Stephanie Miller http://livelighter.org/ She has a scientific background but gets down to the nitty gritty to get healthy. She’s recently tapped into her spiritual side and hopes to live to 120. Disclaimer: I know Stephanie personally.

Happy blogging and reading.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, ABC Blog Award, Blogging, Fog, Health, Life learning, Martin Crawford, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Sharon Crawford