Monthly Archives: January 2013

Only Child lives in two worlds

A no-no for Only Child on technology-free day

A no-no for Only Child on technology-free day

Lately I seem to be yo-yoing between living in today’s technological lifestyle and in so-called simpler times. I think today’s fast-pace and too swift changes are getting to me and I need the comfort of the past.

Not all past and some of it isn’t even my past. And no, I don’t want to move back into the past. I had enough of outdoor privies as a child visiting my grandfather’s and aunt and uncle’s farms, thank you very much.

This winter I’ve started to bake again (beyond the bread in the bread maker which I began doing a year ago) but cookies and crisps and soon muffins now that my son and his girlfriend gave me two muffin tins as part of their belated Christmas present (Note: we have our Christmas dinner here in January when both are back from visiting various other family members outside Ontario, over and beyond the Christmas season). Sunday I loaded up on baking and other supplies (Basmati rice) at The Bulk Barn. Now all I need is time.

Time may be a big clue why I’m “regressing” in how I live. As I posted last week time and its close relative, money, can be in short supply and when you add in the high cost and frenzy of living, something’s got to give and something’s got to change. So I bake, make soups from the proverbial scratch, and watch TV shows set during the Second World War (before my past). These shows Foyle’s War, Land Girls and Bomb Girls are set back home (Great Britain for the first two and Toronto, Canada for the third) depicting the lives of those who didn’t go off to war. Of course, the war impacts what happens and my interest here is not in glorifying war. I am also watching a couple of TV series set in the 1960s (Vegas and Heartbeat) which is my time as a child and teenager. Some of you probably watch Downtown Abbey. Not that any of those times were without difficulties and problems and some of the ways of life in the past I wouldn’t want repeated today (women stuck at home as homemakers only comes to mind). And with many fresh fruits and vegetables skyrocketing in price (grapes and lettuce, for example), I’m eating a lot of root vegetables and frozen vegetables and fruit (some from my garden and some from the Farmer’s Markets of last summer and some store bought). Fresh vegetables (outside of root vegetables) are limited to cucumbers, peppers, bananas , apples, oranges, grapefruit nd strawberries – which, except for apples,  are all trucked in from warmer climates. I would prefer local, but at this time of year what do you do? You need some fresh.

However, do we really need all the excess technology – the constant tweeting, texting, and being forever stuck to our smart phones or BlackBerrys? And don’t forget the reams of passwords. Many people go to bed with these (or their laptops) and the last thing and first thing they do is check e-mail or text. Studies are also showing that this glued-to-technology is affecting our brains, including short-term memory and our ability to multi-task (for videos  and “print’ stories go to–your-brain-online). Hey, I thought technology was supposed to help us multi-task. Apparently not.

Confession here: I have a laptop and an e-reader but no cell phones – smart or otherwise. Just my landline. At some point I might get a very basic cell phone for safety’s sake but not before the exorbitant  cell phone rates in Canada go down down down. My TV is not inherently digital – I had to get a digital adapter. I actually buy CDs rather than download music and play them on my mini stereo system, but I also have a very old turntable from my teenage days. And I’ve started having one technological-free day a week (Saturday or Sunday) – no computer stuff although I’ll read using the e-reader and watch TV but I also use the landline to phone friends and I still read books in print. Compromise.

Maybe that’s the answer. Find the happy medium between past and present. It might be better for the mind, body and spirit. See another Toronto Star story “Tips to Reduce the ‘Infobesity’ in Your Life “–tips-to-reduce-the-infobesity-in-your-life

Now, excuse me, while I return to rewriting my prequel mystery novel – set in 1998. I wonder why.

Comments anyone?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, email overload, Life demands, Multi-tasking, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Technology overload

Only Child on time and money dilemma

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Time or the lack of enough is worrying me. This time (pun intended) it is connected to money. Already I’m juggling editing one client’s work with trying to finish the rewrite of my novel which my publisher wants to see and doing PR (including workshop related prep) for my first published book, Beyond the Tripping Point. Two more ongoing clients’ work are due to arrive for editing the beginning of February. So far, I think I can manage the time with all of this (and it is all work I enjoy doing). However, I have another repeat client needing another book edited. The catch here is the book is very long; the timeline is very short, and the client has a budget. The money part? I may need this potential client’s money to pay bills next month.

Such is the dilemma of freelancers who work on contract. Add in my situation (which some others have too) – what I call “only person,” I have to factor in personal and house stuff which beyond the odd snow shovelling job, I can’t afford to pay someone else to do. I do try to limit how much I do, but still I am up late doing bits and pieces of housework that needs doing before morning.

Then there are people who want free writing and editing advice and take up my phone and email time. Right now I deal with this on a priority basis – if it doesn’t look like it might lead to work or it’s beyond a reasonable follow-up to work already done, I reply when I can squeeze it in. This may sound harsh, but to borrow a phrase, “business is business.” Or as someone once said, “I’m not running a charity.”

Which brings me to the prospective client with the large book and my time constraints (which this person knows about – right now the situation is at a “maybe”). I will have to expand my parameters – money- and time-wise and if it doesn’t work with this person, then so be it. I will need to hope that the other editing prospects delayed because the rewriting of the manuscript is taking longer than expected (and I understand that from personal experience) will come my way sometime later in February. I will manage on what I have even if it means yet another hit on the decreasing RRSPs. I am my late mother’s child after all. Mom didn’t work (it was the 1950s and early to mid-1960s) until my dad was in the last stages of brain cancer – and after he died her arthritis kicked in and forced her to quit working. Mom was very good at budgeting and making do with what she had.

One more year until I can collect the Old Age Pension – I received my application yesterday and that will get filled out and sent in this week.

Next year I hope to cut back on the editing, even though I like doing it, and focus more on writing and writing workshops and readings, as well as other PR.

To paraphrase my mother’s making do with what she had, I am good at making do with what I don’t have.

And as I’ve mentioned promoting my book Beyond the Tripping Point, below is  a link to a three-minute video of me reading an excerpt from one of its short stories, “The Body in the Trunk” when I appeared on the Liquid Lunch Show on

Book is available in print and e-copy at both and as well as other venues.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Beyond the Tripping Point, Budget and budgeting, Decision Making, Life learning, Mom and Dad, Old Age pensions, Prioritizing, Self employed and cash flow, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child on weather and moods

Only Child on patio - not quite like this in January but warm enough for a light jacket.

Only Child on patio – not quite like this in January but warm enough for a light jacket.

What a difference a day’s weather makes. Last Saturday I woke up to the sun shining and the temperatures rising. Toronto hit a record high of 15 degrees Celsius and the next day temperatures reached the same. Only difference was Sunday started out grey and rainy – but that soon dissipated into sun patches. Didn’t matter to me. I noticed a big boost in my mood and attitude especially when I saw the snow melting.

I took full advantage of the day – walking to and from the grocery store (about a mile and a quarter all tolled), and went out in the garden. In January I dug up some of the turnips and carrots still out there, found two green onions, and clipped some euonymus branches (a pretty pink, white and green blend) which I placed in small vases to eventually replace two poinsettias which will soon be finished for the season.

And I sat outside on my patio to eat lunch and read the newspaper.

In  the middle of January.

Sure beats the winter blahs. I don’t get it as bad as those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and need to use artificial light therapy to raise their spirits (see for more info). The most I get is feeling cranky about the dark days with some energy loss at different times. I also resent the short days and long nights so when we get sun (even with the cold weather) the whole day looks different…as long as we don’t get snow.

Snow may look pretty when it first falls down – until the road ploughs and salters do their work. Sloshing through slush and skating on ice patches don’t sit too well with me – in fact that is the position I sometimes end in thanks to these weather conditions.

I don’t do winter sports – skiing, snowboarding or even ice-skating. I used to do the latter in my “earlier years” (and that includes as a young adult) but gave it up because it was too cold for my comfort and enjoyment. Twenty years ago I gave away my figure skates to a co-worker for her daughter.

It wasn’t that way when I was a child. My father hosed down the front part of the backyard and overnight it became instant skating rink. Mom was determined to teach me to ice skate – it took two winters, when I was seven and when I was eight. I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt from my memoir about skating as a child.

Like a dance instructor trying to teach steps to a nervous wannabe, she grabs my hands and tries to get me in motion.

“Come on Sharon. Just slide your feet, one foot in front of the other.”

My feet, tucked tightly into new white figure skates, scrape and totter along the ice and my fingers dig into her hands, my mittens no protection for the hard petrified squeeze they give her. I do not want to fall. I might break a leg. I’m terrified of losing control, so I continue to cling to Mom as she steps backward, sometimes in her rubber boots and sometimes in an old pair of Dad’s black hockey skates. I follow forward like a drunken clown.

Two winters of this private slide and lurch pass. The December I turn eight arrives.

“You’re ready for Dieppe Park,” Mom says. (excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford)

Happy winter.

During the dark days of winter, please check out the video of my interview about my short story writing and mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, October 2012). Interview was with Hugh Reilly on Liquid Lunch ( which my son finally edited and my publisher posted to You Tube. Here is the link – you can watch it here or click on the You Tube button and watch it on You Tube


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Beyond the Tripping Point, Family, Gardening, Ice Skating, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, short story collection, Snow, Winter blahs

Only Child says SNOW is a four-letter word

Snow plough like the one Only Child takes issue with

Snow plough like the one Only Child takes issue with

Some of you already know I hate winter – the cold, the snow, ice storms, blizzards, etc. However, it is what the City of Toronto road ploughs are doing with the snow that has got my consumer hackles up and running.

First of all, the bureaucrats can’t agree on who does what or what the procedure is supposed to be. All I know is what I saw and found. First, the sidewalk plough fellow is doing an excellent job and no complaints there. However, the person manipulating the road plough is another matter. Apparently side streets are unfair game for homeowners if what happened in the so-called clean-up after the big snow storm Toronto got hit with overnight Boxing Day and into Dec. 27 is any indication.

The street plough had done its job; I had shovelled my driveway, veranda, and cleared over the one catch basin still covered in a little bit of snowfall on the road at the end of my property. (There are two catch basins close together there). For those who don’t know, catch basins have to be kept visible with no leaves or other debris covering them in spring to fall. In winter it is the snow – otherwise there is a risk of overflow of water during a thaw or rainstorm and it could land in the basement. Even the City of Toronto advocates keeping the catch basins uncovered. Somebody forgot to send the memo to the road snow plough person or as I suspect, this guy is stupid/doesn’t care/lazy – take your pick.

Just after I finished my snow shovelling job, this plougher (for want of a better word) started pushing all the snow in the middle of the road over by the side of the street in front of my house and part of the neighbour’s. Not content with piling it three feet (almost a metre) high, he let it fall over onto the sidewalk, leaving about the equivalent in width for one human foot to get through. The fellow who shovels my snow took care of the sidewalk after the next snowfall but the dumped snow on the road was too heavy then for anyone to shovel manually.

So I phoned 311 – the number for all complaints, etc. for city work. Without going into a detailed harangue, here are the different stories I got from two 311 people (I phoned twice, so far), my councillor’s assistant and my councillor (my comments are in brackets):

  • The supervisor for the department handling snow removal came to the site and took photos and said the contractor would be coming to remove the snow. Once the contractor is notified they come “soon” (“Soon” must be another four-letter word because it is now January 8 and no one has showed up to move the snow dump).
  • The contractor is monitoring the situation but nothing more now (How? By invisible noise-free helicopter?).
  • The City of Toronto looks after road and sidewalk ploughing but the snow removal is looked after by a contractor.
  • The City of Toronto looks after sidewalk ploughing but a contractor looks after road ploughing and snow removal.
  • The weather forecast calls for the possibility of a bit of rain tomorrow, but heavier rain is  coming this weekend.
  • Sunday it warmed up a little and about 8 inches of one catch basin was showing on the sidewalk side of the road. I managed to shovel a bit of it to make it a little larger but not by much and I couldn’t find the other catch basin and it was too hard to shovel through the snow dump. The height was still up to the top of my thighs.
  • Today is sunny so after lunch I will go out and see if I can remove more snow but I suspect I will be phoning both 311 and my city councillor’s office yet again. This time I won’t be polite.

I don’t remember my parents having to put up with this nonsense. Dad shovelled the snow; the ploughs did their job with the road snow and that was that. I also don’t remember ever having water get in the basement from anything outside. My late mother used to say we were safe because our house (and the houses in the neighbourhood) stood on a hill. Well, my house is up high, too, and only a few miles from the house I grew up in.

Sometimes going back looks like the better option. Time machine anyone?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Consumer action, Mom and Dad, Only child, Rain, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Snow Removal, Toronto, Winter Weather

Only Child looks at the old and new year

Only Child contemplates changing for new year

Only Child contemplates changes for the new year

Carpe Diem!

The world is still here despite predictions of otherwise for late 2012. So, I am here too and starting out this new year with good intentions and goals. My modus operandi for 2013 is to live creatively, efficiently, simply, frugally and be healthy. In there I will also try to help my friends who need it most and perhaps be more grateful for what I have, but I’m still expressing my non-gratitude for what is lacking that I need because it is here I can possibly find ways to change. One of the latter is time, which went way out of control in 2012 and that can’t happen anymore. I’m a year older and need to rein in my time and what I do and will not do in it.

Today I’m especially conscious of making the most of 2013 one day at a time after talking with a friend on the phone last evening. To respect her privacy I’m not naming her or describing her situation except to say, like me, she is an only person (but she does have siblings in another country). She also faced serious health issues last year and continues to do so this year. She is someone I want to help where I can – despite her stubbornness and independence. She does realize her situation is a wake-up call for change and has already embarked on making changes.

Talking with her also reinforced what I have to do – make changes. This is my year of transition in work and personal before the beginning of 2014 when I can finally start receiving the Old Age Pension (I wish the Canadian Government would change the name). But that’s for next year.

This year, I will do what the late John Lennon did – try to live one day at a time.

Happy New Year. May we all know what our necessary changes are and have the courage to make these changes daily.

And read the book 18Minutes by Peter Bregman to get some ideas where to start. See for more information.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Carpe Diem, Family and Friends, Goals, Health, Only child, Peter Bregman, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management