Monthly Archives: May 2013

Only Child says snafus change priorities

Only Child with her parents in happier times at her grandfather's farm

Only Child with her parents in happier times at her grandfather’s farm

The house repairs, snafus, flakey help, etc. continue. But there is a silver lining in here.

Remember I ended my last post with talk about miracles?

I think I got my miracle and I am grateful.

Two friends recommended someone else to deal with my air conditioner problem. After two phone calls to one person which gave me endless phone ringing and no voice mail, I went on to number two recommendation. He answered and was available the next day. And (drum roll here), I turned on the A/C; he checked out the old air conditioner, looked inside the front of it, fiddled with the thermostat there and some buttons outside and voila – we got air (and not just the fan). I ran around closing windows and doors and we left it on for awhile while he went to the next problem. The house got cooler. The former handyman last fall had pronounced the compressor dead in this A/C and said it was cheaper to get a new one. I’m glad I had the A/C covered outside for over winter. Toes crossed that this A/C continues to work the rest of spring, summer and early fall – when I use it. I’m frugal and picky here.

The next problem is turning into another nightmare – the leaky tap in the main floor bathroom. The leak was from the bottom of the tap onto the sink back, not the spout. When he took the tap apart he found a couple of things not working so we went up to Home Depot to get new parts and a few other necessary items such as stain paint for the picnic table and the veranda railing. One part from Home Depot, despite being the same size, wouldn’t work for my taps. The handyman had a couple of used taps in his van and just needed a replacement part for the one, which he got. He installed it and it works.

But that’s not the end of the story. This tap leaks from below (not the drain) when turned on. He is coming back later today when he can get his van started. Thanks to the rain (not his fault; he doesn’t cause the weather conditions),he’s having van problems. I suspect the tap leak might be some caulking needed where it joins. When the four-year old tap (the one removed) was put in, the plumber had to come back to caulk.

Rain is forecast for all but Friday in the Toronto area – not good painting-outside weather.

And the fellow who is doing my heavy yard work? He was here last Wednesday and dug up part of my backyard garden – lots of deep weeds and grass that had grown back in. Instead of listening to my instructions to put just a bit in each bin because I have to carry them to the curb on yard waste collection day, he overfilled to above the top of two bins – there were three empty bins he had to work with but he left two stuck together and when he’d filled them, he couldn’t separate them. It started to rain (not his fault) but he said he would come by in a day or two to finish the digging and put the weeds dug up into bags. Meantime he covered the two overflowing bins with a tarp (so they wouldn’t get all soggy and heavy from the rain) and I put a couple of cement slabs on top to hold the tarp in place.

It is now six days later and he hasn’t showed up. Last evening I sorted out his mess, lifting the heavy slogs up and shaking what soil I could from them into the garden and putting some into three bags (not full so I can carry them to the curb tomorrow evening). I moved the bags and some of the bins into the driveway by the side of the house front and covered them with tarp and the cement slabs.

Now, I’m wondering if when you get a miracle, you get other stuff taken away or screwed up? Sort of like to keep life in balance?

And speaking of life balance, I’ve taken another look at priorities and realize that not all my priorities are my choice. Having to deal with everything on my own is a big fault factor here. I’ve had to bow out of something that I wanted to do (that was in my priority choice) because of all the other stuff I’ve had to deal with and still am (in my blog post last week).

But there is something else that gives me satisfaction. I’m firing the former handyman I had for many years and also the fellow who was doing heavy yard work. When the latter finally shows his sorry ass up at my front door I will tell him off – “Never darken my doorstep again,” is my message to him.

My mother was so lucky to have my dad as long as she did – even though he was sick with cancer, and ulcer and a heart condition for part of the time. He was loyal and he was a damn good house painter. Then there was his friend Ken, the opera singing plumber (and despite hitting the high notes, he was reliable).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Family and Friends, Gardening, Help and Support, Helping Others, Home and Garden, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child on eliminating big stressors

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

It all came together like a light bulb exploding inside my head. Three occurrences within the same time period.

Yet another editing client’s manuscript had big formatting problems beyond the usual editing – second one in a few months. I was beginning to wonder if it was my computer software programs. Nope. Checked other clients’ manuscripts from earlier this year and even my writing manuscripts and they were fine. I have to charge extra for this extra re-formatting which isn’t part of copy editing (unless the client can fix it himself) which doesn’t always sit too well with clients. But I didn’t create the formatting problem. No quandary with the first client here a few months ago.

My digestive disorder is acting up and giving me lower back pain so that sometimes I have difficulty standing up straight without pain. I find just moving around (gardening and longer walks) and drinking peppermint tea seem to help temporarily. I’ve also added some supplements, changed a bit of my diet, and play relaxing  music when editing. But stress and stressors trigger these attacks. (I have plenty of house and money-related stress and spent a good part of Friday on the phone trying to straighten some of them out only to find when I finally got around to checking my snail mail that the bank officer I’ve been dealing with screwed up my minimal RRSPs’ renewal – she didn’t listen to what I originally said and didn’t even return my phone call. I left her a blunt voice mail indicating that I was upset; she better fix it, and to call me Wednesday morning when she is back from her extended long weekend).

The final “wake-up call” was when my police consultant – a police officer and novelist of police procedures said he is  retiring  next year and he “just wants to write.”

Bingo.

Early next year I should be getting the OAS pension and can apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement – that with CPP, hits on my small amount RRSPs (if the bank officer fixes them now so I can get at some) plus income from teaching writing workshops and courses, writing, doing manuscript evaluations and writing marketing consulting – hopefully I will be able to live modestly on that. Meantime I plan to get more gigs in those areas. By this time next year I plan to quit doing copy editing of book manuscripts. If the CAA Toronto branch still wants me as their Writer in Residence I’ll still do that – it’s only 30 pages per client and is often manuscript evaluation and for the latter it doesn’t matter how messed up the formatting is. I’m picking a year from now to tie in with when I would have to renew my Editors’ Association of Canada membership next year (not renewing then). Those few months will also give me some time to see how the new way goes.

I don’t know if it’s a taste of “like mother, like daughter.” As I’ve posted before, my late mother had to quit working as a secretary, then a proofreader for an insurance company because of severe arthritis. My medical condition is different and there are other stressors coming at me too. But I can imagine my mother had a lot of stress about her situation because she was a worrier too and also didn’t have a partner as it was after Dad died. Maybe the lack of a partner is “”like mother, like daughter.”

Now, I have another big stressor to deal with – getting help with and getting the window air conditioner replaced.  Wish me luck or maybe a miracle – maybe I might actually believe in miracles then.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Burnout, Decisions, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Old Age pensions, Only child, Pain, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only Child faces more worries and snafus

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

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

Last Saturday was wasted dealing with worries and snafus, including a new one – the cable part of the cable TV not working. Late Thursday evening the picture started breaking up on four channels but not on the rest. One program showed fine on the US station but not on the Canadian station doing simultaneous airing. The cable TV tech department booked an appointment for Saturday between 4 and 6 p.m. but put me on a waiting list for anything sooner.

Saturday I had to go out to deal with another house repair/replacement issue, so called the cable company and they sent someone right away. He fixed it but it took him over two hours because he couldn’t find one end of the cable in the basement (I didn’t even know a TV cable was down there as previous cable tech visits had concentrated outside or with the TV in the living room). So this clown decided he would have to drill holes in the inside wall (living room) and the outside brick wall to set up the new cable there. He got the permission form which I signed but he didn’t and got to work. After he drilled four close-together holes in the inside wall, he had another look downstairs and found the other end of the cable. He told me and when I asked about the holes he’d drilled he said he put an electric outlet cover there. He also made a mess with the foam insulation in the basement laundry room but did vacuum upstairs in the living room. I seldom fill out surveys but filled out the automatic one that comes when you phone the call centre – the comments section was where I “blasted” the technician’s work – but I kept it factual and polite (although I threw in the “senior’s card”).

The errand to deal with the other issue – replacing the defunct window air conditioner turned into a customer service mess. I had done some online research but I like to see the air conditioner up front. I had already checked out Home Depot but wanted to see what else was available before buying one. So off to Canadian Tire as they are supposed to carry one brand of vertical window air conditioners. Also there was some indication they do installations.

It was like a civilian version of Keystone cops or Keystone-like service snafus. I talked to four employees (when I found them). The first staffer said “oh we don’t do installations” and gave me the wrong aisle for air conditioners – at least none were there – the ones on sale (not vertical) were at the front and I finally found them with a note for installation to call an 800 number or speak to staff. I was there so staff it was. Canadian Tire’s customer service is both for returns and product information with one clerk handling a long line up of customers with returns. I asked a couple of other staffers who were up at the counter for other things. Both phoned the person responsible for the air conditioning section. No one arrived. Then I nagged another clerk, explained the situation and asked to speak to the manager. He looked for him, returning a couple of times with a progress report. Eighteen minutes later (he counted) he returned and said he hadn’t found the manager, this wasn’t acceptable, gave me his first name and an 800 number to complain about the manager. Of course, you can probably only get someone on weekdays. News flash. I work weekdays, albeit from home and resent any house-related problems I have to dealt with then. But I’ll call sometime this week. Guess where I won’t buy my air conditioner.

A friend said that nothing is perfect in this world. But I know there are too many screw-ups caused by too many people. And if you mess up – at least where it concerns others – you should be held accountable – one way or the other.

I certainly don’t remember my parents having to deal with all this nonsense but maybe that’s my child’s view and remembrance. I do remember for plumbing problems that Ken, a friend of dad’s from his work area (geographically), would come and fix the situation, although Mom, Dad and I had to listen to Ken sing opera. That might be why I’m not a fan of opera. But Ken recommended a carpenter to build our rec room and he did a good job. One shoddy job – after Dad died (he had been the house painter and was so good he is still the benchmark for excellence here), Mom hired a painter who did a so-so job… and spilled paint on the front lawn which killed that spot of lawn. But whenever the TV needed fixing we called in a repairman and he came in and fixed it.

One good thing – the friend mentioned above – removed all three of my old computer and printer equipment (she rolled them up the stairs; I helped her carry out the heaviest one into her van’s trunk). She hauled them away to the recycling depot.

At least the water meter installers/retrofitters can’t complain about space to get to the water meter. They better not.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Family and Friends, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, Responsibility, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only child on being a Worry Wart

Only Child contemplates worrying

Only Child contemplates worrying

In my memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, I write

Try not to look ahead at what might happen tomorrow, next week, next year, or the worry might kill you. Mom and I could tie for first prize as Worry Wart of all years, always putting our minds through gymnastics about what could happen. (Copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford).

Yep, that’s me. How much of a concern is it for people who worry? Dr. Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D of Cornell University received a shock when he asked hundreds of seniors what their greatest regret in life was. Time spent worrying was their biggest regret.

Not me. When I thought about it, it is not the time spent worrying but all the crap that gets shoved my way, all the stuff I have to deal with on my own because I don’t have a partner. In particular, the stuff I can’t (physically or skilfully) do myself. The current list includes: getting a new window unit air conditioner because the old one died late last summer – and getting someone to remove the old and put in the new; getting someone to help me bring home a few bags of topsoil and a bag of mulch for my garden (I don’t drive and don’t have a car so although Home Depot is three blocks from me I can’t physically carry the bags home. And I can’t rent one of their vans to do so). The two male friends I usually ask can’t this year – one has cancer so no way for him and I understand – the other won’t because of his car. I don’t ask my son because he has back problems and he is out of country on business for most of the month.

So a female friend to the rescue – Tanya next door will take me to Home Depot to get the topsoil bags and get her husband Alex to bring back the mulch in his truck – a bigger bag, mainly because she wants a number of mulch bags for her own garden projects and I’ll just buy the one bag from Alex. This one worried me for some time because it is something I can’t do on my own. I know it’s supposed to be “ask and you shall receive” but is it?

The other current worries are of the bureaucratic red tape stuff that involve work equipment or the house, i.e., renewing an extended service warranty on the laptop which after the three-year lease is no longer covered under the monthly laptop lease fee – but I can get the laptop lease itself extended on a month-by-month basis. I have to get a one-year extended warranty which can’t be transferred to the new laptop I plan to lease from this fall (the old laptop goes back to Dell then). Or I can take a chance on the hardware all working. Considering that I’ve had a memory card and keyboard replaced in a couple of previous laptops (with the warranty – so no monetary cost), guess what I will do.

The other is from the City of Toronto Water and Waste department – the notice in the mail says it is “mandatory” to get replacement water meters (or in my case where the meter was replaced 9 years ago – a retrofit) put in. If the old meter is behind a wall in the basement they will remove the wall and not replace it – just put on a cover that can be opened for any future shenanigans (my word choice). For replacing my old water meter back when, no walls were removed – it’s in a closet with lots of space in front and around it but a wall in back – they just moved out items beside it. Who knows what they will do for a retrofit. I haven’t called to book the time – too busy dealing with other worries. But I will be pretty clear on when they can and can’t get in – not until after the middle of June as my work, house and garden schedule is too busy until then.

Back to the seniors’ study on regretting worry. I don’t regret spending time worrying; it’s the “stuff” coming at me and overwhelming me to worry that is my concern. And that’s not regret; that’s resentment.

The “study” does give some advice from some of the seniors. I find one a good idea. Live one day at a time. I just think about the late John Lennon getting gunned down at 40 and his philosophy on living – something about life being what happens when you make other plans.

The article about Dr. Pillemer’s study is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-a-pillemer-phd/how-to-stop-worrying-reduce-stress_b_2989589.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Family and Friends, Gardening, Helping Others, Home and Garden, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Worrying