Monthly Archives: August 2012

Only Child rides the rails

Only Child with her parents at her grandfather’s farm – one of the destinations of now obsolete train routes.

I felt like I was riding history when I travelled during my holidays the past week. Especially last night when returning and I wondered if I was going to make it home or become part of this history.

Like my father before me I ride the rails when on holidays. Not the same railway that my dad worked for and he, Mom and I travelled on for our holidays. Dad worked for the CN when it ran passenger trains. Some years after he died CN quit the passenger service to focus on freight. VIA Rail was created and it started a passenger service.

Now VIA plans to cut service on a few lines within its busiest corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec, as well as cut back on the number of times per week the Maritime line runs. One of my cousins commented that we’ll all have to travel by car. Is this VIA decision a good one when we are living in pollution and too many vehicles clog up highways (space and time, too. Think road rage).

So while on vacation visiting my many cousins in southern and southerwestern Ontario, I rode the last of some of the service being ditched. Going to Grimsby from Toronto it was the evening Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario run. Come October it will be gone and there will only be the early morning run from Toronto to Niagara Falls and vice versa in the evening.

Coming home last night on the last of the Sarnia to Toronto run at that time, I thought the service was being cut early. I got on the train at Kitchener and the first hour and a half was a great ride which I was enjoying. Then we just pulled out of Brampton and suddenly the main lights went out; the train stopped and the emergency ceiling lights went on.

Panic – at least for me, inside. I hate to be stranded. The VIA attendant did make an announcement that the power had gone off and that she’d let us know what was happening when she knew.

We passengers were left wondering what was going on, when 15 minutes later the regular lights went on. A few people yayed. Not me. We still weren’t moving and from what I could see out the window (not much as it was dark) showed cars on a street much lower than where the train stopped. Were we on a bridge?

After some time we received another announcement along the lines of they were trying to get the train started and if not, they would have cabs available soon to drive us to Union Station. Right. How would we get to the cabs? Walk along the embankment or the bridge more likely with little space and then where and how would we get down to street level? I kept thinking “I want to go home” – when I wasn’t darting to the seat across the aisle to try and see out that window. Even darker over that way.

Finally after 45 minutes of doing the stall, the train started. No one yayed this time. I couldn’t even go back to reading my Alfred Hitchcock Mystery magazine because I figured if I did, we would stop again.

Was this occurrence some foreshadowing of what is to come in October? Will I ride the rails again? Sure…on the lines still running.

But I know two things. My Dad is probably rolling over in his grave. He was always critical of CN service. If he were still alive he would be saying a variation of his “Typical (add railway here).

I think I would agree with him. Especially as 24 to 30 of us got off at the little flag station of Grimsby, Ontario on a Monday evening last week. Seems like VIA is cutting off its nose to spite its face. They are of course crying “government cuts.” The buck always stops at the consumer.

What says you about services such as train and bus being cut? (And yes, the bus service between Kitchener and Stratford has already been dumped).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child

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Filed under Canadian National Railway, Family, Holidays, Mom and Dad, Only child, Public Transportation, Railways, Sharon A. Crawford, Train travel, VIA Rail

Fix what ails you – go into your garden

Only Child standing beside Black-eyes Susans and in front of black walnut tree in backyard

I’ve blogged about the healing garden before, but apparently without actually noticing what my garden is telling me this summer.

Although I’m not big on Feng Shui anymore, I do believe a garden will tell all, including some answers for what is bugging you. And I don’t necessarily mean the bugs in the garden. However, maybe I should look into the bug aspect as I’ve been stung twice. Both times I accidently shoved a finger or hand where a “stinging insect” rested and disturbed it. Maybe my answer here is I’ve been shoving myself into too many things without intention and getting bitten for my efforts.

The real thing my garden is telling me is to notice what is growing so well in it. With the drought this summer until the beginning of August, it is amazing that anything is growing at all. My bean plants are stunted and that tells me I shouldn’t be eating some types of beans right now. But it is the huge and taller-than-usual clumps of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) that catch my eyes and my soul with an “aha” moment. Black-eyed Susan is a misnomer as the middle is dark brown, not black (although the perennial also gets called Brown-eyed Susan). The main part of the flower fans out from this centre in individual petal strips that are bright yellow. The Rudbeckia is growing all over the front and back of my garden and when I sit outside I can feel the flowers penetrating my body and soul. Yellow is the colour for healing and this summer I am having a particularly hard time with my digestive disorder.

Then there are those two black walnut trees on my friends’ property next door. The branches hang over my property and provide much needed shade in a corner of my patio. It’s not the leaves or the shade, but the earlier-than-usual walnuts that have been falling off the trees, bouncing loudly like a ball against the house. The message: I need to take the homeopathic black walnut for my digestive system. At this point the jury is still out whether that will help, but once I started taking it, the walnut-dropping stopped except for an occasional late jumper. A reminder to keep taking my medicine?

My garden is full of signs about what is going on in my life. I just need to look and listen.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Horticultural Therapy, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child says you can’t fix everyone’s problems

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 where Only Child grew up

Every time I see or read in the news that someone has lost his or her home to fire or needs a life-saving operation that costs money, I want to help. If friends need something, I want to help.

Newsflash: I can’t fix everything in the world. Superwoman I am not and I don’t think anyone is.

This wanting to help goes back to my childhood. I remember one of my best friends injured her arm. Her older brother was chasing her around their house and when she got to the front door she shoved her arm through the glass. I sat on my veranda and looked over to their house where she was playing and could see her arm in a sling. I wanted to go over to comfort her but being shy I didn’t know how and didn’t have the nerve to do so. So I sat in the Muskoka chair and tried to will my comfort through the air across the street to my friend.

The other motivation was a fairy tale about the little match girl? Anybody remember that story by Hans Christen Anderson? Animated films about the story have been made and a version appears on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYmKb_8y96E

In this classic story, a little girl is selling matches in the cold on New Year’s Eve and not doing well at it. She is afraid to go home because her father will be angry if she hasn’t sold any matches. She envisions her dead grandmother who is the only familymember who treated her decently. The kicker is the little girl freezes in the cold overnight and dies.

That one will get you wanting to help others.

There’s only one problem. I can’t fix everyone’s problems; I have neither the time nor the money. When I try to, I jump all over the place and end up resenting it. So, I’m learning to focus on one area where I am good at helping others – with their writing. It’s why I continue running the East End Writers’ Group (writing critique) in the east end (where else?) of Toronto. It’s what I do in my writing, editing and writing instructing business. It’s also what I do on my author blog at http://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/.

And while doing this I learn a lot from other writers – whether veteran writers or aspiring writers.

A lesson lurks in there somewhere – focus in one area to help others (and I don’t mean forget your family if they aren’t the big focus), and learn from those you help. It’s a two-way street.

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Filed under Helping Others, Life learning, Little Match Girl, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child says Carpe Diem should be your motto

Only Child and son, Martin, on Mother’s Day 2012

I know I’m in stress overload/overwhelm, whatever you want to call it when I keep losing and misplacing items. Some, like the sunglasses left out on the patio overnight, turn up. Others, like my property tax payment receipt, seem to linger in limbo. A big pile of files waiting atop my file cabinet to be filed just adds to the confusing milieu. My late mother had another version of this – she’d mix up things, such as haul the bacon, instead of the steak, out of the freezer. Guess I don’t have to be concerned about doing that – my freezer contains neither bacon nor steak.

Add in all the client work deadlines, plus doing another proof of my mystery short story collection (Beyond the Tripping Point, due out this fall from Blue Denim Press), the stuff I’ve been worrying about, a couple of health issues I’ve been dealing with, etc. etc. and I’ve been spiralling around in big overwhelm the past week or so. I’ve been heading out to the garden a lot to work off the excess anger/energy with weeding and trimming the silverlace and to just sit, relax, read a book and the newspaper, and eat my meals.

But I’ve still been tumbling around like a top gone awry. And feeling resentful.

Then I got the bad news from one of my “old” school friends about her cousin, another school friend. The cousin (who used to walk me to and from kindergarten) just lost her son. He died suddenly last week. He was 43. That’s too young and no parent should outlive their children. I know with war it happens a lot, but…

It gave me a jolt. I immediately emailed my son and his girlfriend who are in London at the Olympics to see how they were doing and enjoying their holiday. Haven’t heard back yet, but it is less than 24 hours since I sent out the email.

The situation with my old school friend does put things in perspective. Got me thinking, that we all need to slow down. How much of what we cram into each day really has to be done? Can we slow down, move something to another day, delete doing something, and just try to live and enjoy each minute of the now? I know John Lennon’s words of wisdom – “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” definitely enters the picture. But you never know what will happen tomorrow…or later today.

Gives me some clout to cut back on my business email time without feeling guilty about it. Today, I heard on the news about a Canadian professor who when going on vacation, emails all her work connections not to email her during her holiday time because their emails will be deleted.

I send out an email notice to clients about my vacation and ask that they don’t email or phone me then. Not all pay attention. Should I add the “your email and voice mail messages will be deleted and you’ll have to resend/ phone again?” Food for thought.

Meantime, check out these studies on taking email vacations and how it can reduce your stress. http://storify.com/ucirvine/email-vacations-decrease-stress-increase-concentra

Oh yeah, don’t forget Carpe Diem. Check out its origin and real meaning at http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/carpe-diem.html.

You never know what lurks around the corner.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Carpe Diem, Death and Dying, email overload, Life demands, Mother and Child, Only child, Overwhelm, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress