Monthly Archives: September 2012

Only Child cut off from communication

Only Child wonders if we should go back to simpler technology, like the rotary phone

Both my phone line and Internet suddenly went dead yesterday. I’d spent most of the morning emailing and then stopped to put dinner in the crockpot, something I should’ve done earlier. When I returned to the computer I couldn’t get to any website on the Internet. Then the ISP reboot menu popped up. But rebooting didn’t work this time (It has before). I picked up the phone. Dead. So were the extensions. So I panicked.

I felt like I was living a version of the new TV series Revolution but the electricity, gas, and water continued to function. Some of you may know I don’t have a cell phone. I refuse to be plugged in 24/7 and on a practical level I cannot afford the high cell phone rates charged in Canada.

I don’t remember the phone service being cut off for any reason when I was a child. Ever. Even during the big electrical blackout of 1965 on the northeast coast of the United States and going into Ontario, the phones worked. That was back in the grey ages when everything wasn’t electrical. Fast forward to the big blackout in Ohio and Ontario in August 2003 and my phone still worked – providing I used the “old fashioned” wall phone in the kitchen. If I had tried the electrically-connected phone in my home office, then I might have disconnected the phone service.

The situation gets weirder. I ran to my friend’s across the street (the one next door wasn’t in). Maybe just as well as the one across the street has the same telephone service provider as I do and next door doesn’t. The former’s phone worked fine and I booked a technician to come and fix the service for later yesterday.

I returned home to more weirdness. The Internet was now working. Okay. But so were the phones. (I have a DSL service which splits the Internet and phone service so if one is down the other usually isn’t). So I had to contact the phone company repair again to say – “It’s working.” But I requested the technician come anyway to check all the wires. They complied because I have phone care warranty. An hour or so later someone else called me from the phone company to say that all was working and they were cancelling the tech call. No. No. No. I went into my concern blurb and the phone care. This person said it could be one of their roving (as in a vehicle) repair people stopping to fix something and that would shut off the service for an hour or so. I’m supposed to guess that this is what happened? I’ve had phone disruptions/problems twice before in the past year and a half so I take no chances. When the tech person arrived and checked it out he found some bees in the phone box outside (he chased them out) and a frayed wire which he fixed. Scary stuff especially as I was stung three times by insects this summer.

The whole situation makes me think…again. I believe in conserving my use of utilities, but not to the point where I’m left in silence in the dark. That situation, or even partial situation, sends me into a big panic. Being an only person here doesn’t help…at least for moral and emotional support. However, no matter how many people are around when a utility stops working, the bottom line is you are isolated. Some people may want to go out and congregate with a lot of others. I tend to go out to get help only if I can’t phone for help. And stew and steam about it until it is fixed. That part comes from being alone.

Another thought: have we as a society become so wrapped in too much technology that when it goes it affects us more than say during the 1965 blackout? (I didn’t panic then. But I was a teenager at home with my mother; it actually happened while we were in a grocery store.) Has too much technology too fast doomed everything (appliances, computers, phones, sound systems, utilities, etc.) to a short shelf life filled with snafus and bumps along the way?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Living alone, Only child, Phone and Internet problems, Problem solving, Technology problems

Going soon summer – Only Child dreads winter

Only Child’s front garden – soon to go dormant for winter

It’s raining outside and when that is over it will start to get cool in Toronto. A reminder that fall is very near (this Friday to be exact). I don’t mind early fall, except for frost which sends me running out into my garden in the evenings to cover tender plants. Just trying to lengthen their season because I know the tomato plants, the nasturtiums, etc. will soon die and the perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, phlox, artemesia and rue will soon die down for the winter.

I dread winter. I don’t get SAD but winter makes me want to hide inside; then I get somewhat claustrophobic and want to get out but hate the cold, snow (walking through and shovelling), the ice and cold weather. So I bundle up and go out to walk and meet up with friends and colleagues. And try not to fall down.

To tell the truth I want another “winter” like last winter. The weather was rarely cold and the snowfall so little my snow shovel might be stiff from lack of exercise. One and a half bags of sidewalk/road salt still remain inside and I hope they can stay in the same position this coming winter. Some people complained about the grey weather with little sun but I prefer that to cold, snow and ice.

Cold or cool/warm winter, one thing will be the same. My garden will go dormant and it will look grim and dungy in the front and back of my property. One year I took photos of all the bleakness of winter. Perhaps I will do so again this year. I will also bring my garden inside – well, what I can of it – some herbs, coleus, English ivy, citronella, even a couple of pepper plants (one survived indoors through last winter and went on to blossom and produce peppers outside this summer). I will take cuttings from some of my plants to create more and visit the nearby garden centres/florists for more indoor plants to create my own indoor garden oasis of coloured leaves and some flowers. Come late winter/early spring I’ll fill my windowsill with seedlings – the start of tomato plants, flowers and herbs for next summer’s garden.

As for walking – if it’s slippery and snowy, I may resort to mall walking or go to what is called The Path – a winding indoor walkway featuring shops and connecting to various places in downtown Toronto.

When “hiding” inside my house, I can continue rewriting my mystery novel.

One has to try to look on the bright side – even if the weather doesn’t.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Indoor Gardening, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Walking, Winter blahs

Only Child contemplates worrying

Only Child in worry mode

To worry or not to worry that can be the question. Some of us live a life of worrying. I’m one of those and I come by it with good genes. Both my parents worried, especially my late mother. She could easily have won the Worrywart of the Year Award – if such an award existed. Worrying is inherited –if your parents were worriers so are you.

I remember when I was 15 my mother tried to get me to stop worrying. She handed me Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and told me to read it. Apparently it didn’t help me. Many, many years later I still worry on a daily basis and I could win the Worrywart of the Year Award.

But I don’t plan to try to stop worrying despite the implications to health. My worrying history is testimony to that, despite 40 per cent of stuff we worry about never happening (see 12 Techniques to StopWorrying by Cindy Holbrook Statistics came from studies. Ms Holbrook didn’t get them out of the air). Some of our worries do happen. A personal example is the incident with the new freezer delivery and removal of the old. I told a friend that I was worrying about problems with the latter. The freezer was a big old heavy upright and although the stairway was open from the basement to the side door, there was a steep turn there. My friend said it would all go okay.

It didn’t. The company (an independent, not a chain) whom I’d done business with before without any problems delivery or otherwise, balked at moving the freezer outside to the end of the driveway (that after I’d arranged with them in the store to do so, including paying a fee, and also to send a junk dealer to pick up the old freezer). The delivery duo were full of excuses – and one of them had helped remove my big old fridge upstairs three years before so should have known better. I went into full persuasion mode and pulled out all the stops from crying to yelling at the owner on the other end of the phone about the promise to remove the freezer. He finally sent a third fellow to get the freezer out. They did and it wasn’t too bad.

I didn’t thank them. But when the junk dealer showed up within half an hour and was collecting, I stepped out on my veranda and thanked him.

As for the premise that it is needless to worry about something because it probably won’t happen, I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me so many times here. I’m not talking about acts of God (read your insurance policies – these are not called “acts of nature”) – floods, tornados, hurricanes, etc. I refer to the unexpected – the bad unexpected. Two recent examples: when I arrived home from my holidays I found my air conditioner no longer sent out cold air; it has to be replaced and I can’t afford it. The other example I blogged about two weeks ago – the train stalling with power outage on my way home from my holidays. In retrospect I probably should have worried about train problems, especially when the train arrived an unprecedented 10 minutes early where I boarded it – that should have been my warning. As for the air-conditioner, I put it out there every day (to God, the universe, etc., take your pick with your beliefs), to have all go well with my house and the stuff in it. And I give daily thanks for what works as I am truly grateful here.

Count your blessing is one of those 12 techniques to stop worrying in Cindy Holbrook’s article. I don’t agree with all 12 – but this one I do – with an addition – I also put it out there what I am not grateful for in my life.

And that latter brings about some interesting points related to worrying. The percentage of what I’m grateful for/not grateful for runs at about 70% for grateful to 30% not grateful (my health problems, not enough money coming in, for starters). The latter percentage runs close to the percentage of worries that don’t happen but way above the 4% for our worries that never happen, but is dead on for what we worry about that has already happened (30%).

Should I stop worrying about this 30%? Not my health – worrying motivates me to do something to improve my health. Ditto for the money situation. Maybe I need to focus my worrying – perhaps one worry a day. I also like to get the problem solved as quickly as possible or it tends to hang around in my mind. Factor in being an only person with limited help resources and not always enough money to hire people to fix things, and I have more worrying obstacles.

There is a silver lining to all this worrying. Another study has linked high intelligence with worrying a lot (Worrying and Intelligence – Scientists Find Link by Lee Dye, April 18, 2012

So, does that make me an intelligent worrywart?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Worrying

Only Child rides the crowded streetcar rails

Toronto streetcar circa 1980s like the one Only Child rode to the CNE

It happened again – a “train” I was riding stalled. This time it was the streetcar to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.  First it was a long wait for any streetcar to show up at the Bathurst Station. Extra streetcars were supposed to be running for this final weekend of the CNE but I guess they were invisible or maybe they were up in the air with the airplanes in the air show.

I don’t remember it being this bad when I was a kid travelling with my Mom on the streetcars (yes, we had to take two streetcars then) to and from the Ex. Sure we lined up to get on a streetcar to come home, but it was an adventure and mom always snagged a seat with me sitting on her lap and falling asleep.

Not this past Sunday’s ride.

When I surfaced onto the streetcar/bus platform from the subway below, I gasped. A long double-line up wound its way from the other end of the platform (where you board the streetcar) to way-way back and around the other side of the station platform. Ms Goody-two Shoes here went to the end of the line and waited and waited for a streetcar to show.

Fifteen minutes later (for me –others could have been waiting up to an additional 15 minutes) one double streetcar, followed by another arrived. Those at the front of the line-up got on the first streetcar. When I noticed a secondary line-up fanning out from the main one near the front and no third streetcar was in sight. I kicked off my Goody-two shoes and darted up to the end of the second line. I got on but had to stand almost all the way. When we arrived about one-sixth of the way we stopped for another 15 minutes at an intersection. The traffic lights were working and traffic was moving both ways except for Streetcar No. one ahead of us. To keep our sanity some of us were making sarcastic comments about the delay. These old streetcars (circa 1980s) may look magnificent but they are hotter than Mr. Devil’s house.

Punishment for moving up to the shorter line? Not exactly. An older woman (older than I) offered me her seat a few stops before the end of the line. Under normal circumstances I would refuse, but I do have feet problems. When I arrived at the CNE entrance to meet my friend (who came in by air-conditioned Go Train with no delays) I found she had purchased our CNE entrance tickets and wouldn’t take any money from me for it.

And here’s the kicker – late Sunday night when I rode the streetcar rails home (service normal and fast) the lady who sat beside me had been on the first streetcar that stopped ahead of mine going to the CNE. She said there was something wrong with that streetcar.

More fodder for my complaint, which I sent online the next day. Can’t help wondering if there is some serendipity or compensation working here?

Not that I want to travel in hell temperatures to receive compensation. It can get hot enough inside my home some days when the temperature and humidity go up too far – now that the air-conditioner doesn’t work properly anymore since I returned from holidays.

I suppose that’s my “reward” for taking time off from work for a vacation.

What says you? What’s the public transportation like where you live? Especially if you don’t drive.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Mom and Dad, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transportation, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto public transit