Monthly Archives: May 2014

Only Child goes from frenzy to calm

Part of front garden last year. It's getting there now slowly

Part of front garden last year. It’s getting there now slowly

Yesterday “everyone” wanted a piece of me to do what they wanted. My friend next door wanted to use my clothesline; my boarder wanted me to feed her cat when she was out, and the windows people were calling to book an appointment to install the three windows. And the person helping me apply for a Writer in Residence position was phoning about that. Of course, as my handyman, Mike said, it was a Monday.

None of those “requests”  etc. fit in with my Monday priority schedule. Monday, my focus was on Mike painting the picnic table and upgrading an electrical outlet inside; coaching a writing client, finishing the draft of a memoir piece for a magazine (on spec) and photocopying it for Wednesday evening’s critique of it. And gardening.

Gardening is what I was doing – planting a nasturtium – when the windows person called again. (I had been at a writing seminar Friday when she called). I do have a contract with them to get the windows installed but with all the other stuff going on – business and house and garden – I don’t want it done for a month. So getting back to her is not at the top of my priority list. There is another vm call from her now. I’ll call her back later this week or early next week when I have time. Unfortunately they keep “bankers’ hours so I can’t call back in my off-work time. My vm message states when I’m available for work calls and non-work calls.

Feeding the boarder’s cat – usually I do that when she is out at workshops, etc., but yesterday the cat’s lunchtime was during the time my client was here and so the client is what I was focused on. After that I had to hurry to the bank to deposit her cheque and withdraw the rest of the money to pay Mike for his work. Bank closes at 4 p.m. and I don’t do ATMs. I did throw some kibble in the cat’s dish as I ran out the door to the bank. The cat was sleeping when I had an early lunch; otherwise I would have given him an early lunch then.

I talked to my friend next door earlier today and she is okay with the clothesline situation. Until she gets a replacement clothesline for her broken one, there is usually no problem with her using my clothesline when she needs it and she always asks first. Yesterday, Mike was out there painting the picnic table and another small table so paint and stuff that had to be moved temporarily out of his way was taking up space.

The writer in residence app isn’t due until next week so I emailed asking if I could do it next week and that I might have questions later this week. The priorities for this week are now: putting the finishing touches on my mystery novel to get it to the publisher when due the end of May, a reading and round table discussion with other Crime Writers of Canada this evening at the Eglinton-Kennedy library branch in Toronto (6.30 p.m. for those in the Toronto area who may be interested). I still have my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point to publicize. Also my son who is back from his holiday in England and France. And my garden.

Yesterday, I got done what I had to get done – the high priority stuff.

This morning I was out enjoying my garden – doing some weeding and pruning the supposedly dead silver lace over by Tanya’s next door. Surprise! There is new growth at one end, so maybe all is not lost there. The big juniper and the boxwood in front are getting more new green “leaves” growing – slowly, so maybe all is not lost. I still need to get some quotes from arborists to at least cut back the silver lace and opinions on the “evergreens” (that word is a misnomer) and those take  higher priority than the windows.

Summer (late spring?) weather is finally here, albeit a month later according to what is happening in the gardens. Some trees in Toronto are still getting their leaves.

What are the weather and greenery like in your neck of the world?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Life demands, Prioritizing, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child has too many worries

Only Child contemplating her too stressful life .

Only Child contemplating her too stressful life

I have hit worry overload – many new worries popping up and some ongoing chronic ones.

In last week’s post I mentioned the garden-related problems from the extremely severe winter and late start to spring (is spring here finally?).  I have been closely watching the large juniper tree on my front lawn, the boxwood shrub in the front and the two silver lace shrubs winding on the back fences. And carrying on a heated dialogue with God. As you know I put the responsibility for this weather squarely on God. The silver lace will have to be cut down – one has signs of life near the bottom so may come back. The juniper is slowly showing more signs of green but still has quite a ways to go. The boxwood is coming along slowly, but still has a long way to go. If necessary I can trim it back.

But I don’t want to lose the big juniper. Getting it cut down will be over my dead body. God owes me to get it back at least to 95 per cent recovery. And God will have to send me the money from somewhere to pay for an arborist to cut down (and in one place remove) the silver lace. I have bills to pay for the home repairs already planned and scheduled and so far have the money for them. It’s the extra unplanned stuff I can’t deal with – financially or emotionally.

Unplanned like computer problems – both computers and both with security in one way or the other. Not surprising as that is a reflection of my life currently –  very unsettled and very little seems to be in my control. I choose to have more control of my life and to have less problems to deal with. I won’t go into more details but right now I have more crosses than I can bear.

Are you listening God?

My health – emotional, mental and physical depends on it. I have three auto-immune diseases (if you count allergies as one of them) and to manage them I need less stress and more sleep. Both those are wavering in the opposite to health direction.

When I do sleep I have weird sometimes frightening dreams and I know they reflect what I am going through and what I need. Would be good if my dreams gave me some answers.

Is it too much to ask to have only a few problems, what you can take? And not a lot of horrific unexpected ones popping up all the time.

The grass is green, so are the plants and the flowers are actually showing up in my garden. My garden is supposed to be my sanctuary but when I look at the juniper, the boxwood and silver lace I wonder about that. I can’t help wanting to go back to my mother’s garden when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s  and helping mom in the garden, picking berries, and sitting out in the backyard and reading an Agatha Christie or other novel borrowed from the library.

I didn’t know how good I really had it then. Life really sucks right now.

Cheers (I think)

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Anxiety, Healing through gardening, Health, Mother and Child, Only child, Overwhelm, Problems

Only Child’s perspective on gardens this spring

Only Child's front garden -  the way it should be with the beautiful juniper in front

Only Child’s front garden – the way it should be with the beautiful juniper in front

The terrible winter and early too cold spring wreaked havoc on my garden and the gardens of so many others. In my daily garden tours (excluding days of all rain), I keep finding more damage and I am sad and angry.

Saddened for the trees damaged and angry at a God who brought us all this weather mess – the ice storm, extreme cold so that almost everything in spring is a month or more late starting and damaged. The city of Toronto alone lost 20 per cent or more of its tree canopy – up to 2 million trees. And we can’t blame insect invasions for this one.

I can almost feel the pain my large juniper tree on my front lawn is feeling. Many of its branches and needle leaves are beige and a few are rusty. The rusty ones are dead – the beige – only time will tell. There is some green growing through and as long as that continues. I will not have that beautiful tree cut down. I do not like God’s damage here.

My silverlace may not come back. Only a few branches are starting to sprout leaves. If the silverlace by the fence into the backyard has to be cut down, at least there are large (and growing) bushy junipers there (the shrub kind). These junipers have a minute amount of beige and rust so they will grow taller and provide some privacy from people walking by on the street. What also irks me here is I might have to pay an arborist to cut the silverlace down. This would not have happened if not for the weather. And don’t give me the business about Mother Nature. No such person.

I don’t know about the other bushier silverlace that straddles the fence dividing Tanya’s and my property. It is always later to spring to life than the one by the driveway. If it goes there it will be somewhat bare unless the honeysuckle in front of it comes back. So far no signs.
Then there is my precious boxwood in front. The south part of it is all brown but there are signs of green leaves growing in from the back of the branches. This south and west winter burn, gardening expert Mark Cullen wrote in one of his columns, is from the powerful spring sun (from west and south) burning down on snow-covered evergreens. And we all know that snow rested on the branches way too late this year. (See http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/04/17/damage_control_in_your_garden_begins_now.htm. And yes, boxwoods are evergreens.

Mr. Cullen gives us some hope. He says to do nothing about this situation because in late May/early June “for the most part your evergreens will look fresh as daisies come late May/early June when new growth pushes past the dead, brown foliage.” He also adds that if we had applied Wiltpruf last fall the burn would have been avoided – sort of a sunscreen for evergreens. He didn’t apply it either. I didn’t know about Wiltpruf, but I will apply it this fall – if my evergreens all come back. Surprisingly, my two yews have very little damage – other years there has been more.

In my daily garden tours I look for new buds and more green. The grass is growing and is a bright green. Tulips and other bulb-flowers are blooming, albeit a month late. The raspberry branches are on time getting their leaves – probably my clearing out the dead branches and weeds a few weeks ago helped. The walnut tree hanging over from Tanya’s onto my patio finally started showing leaves yesterday morning. I can see it from my bedroom window.

One thing is on time – the rosebushes that flower early and flower only once per season are getting their leaves. And maybe planting vegetables – the ones that can take colder weather – is also on time. Sunday I planted the first batch of peas, radish, lettuce (the seeds) and onion sets. I have brought in some tulips and hyacinths for flower arrangements.

I continue gardening. Gardening will help me heal. In order to heal in my garden, I need the trees, the plants to grow, to be healthy and to be alive.

God owes it to us to make that happen.

More articles at http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/01/16/we_must_rebuild_the_canopy.html

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/12/30/ice_storm_damage_to_trees_may_take_years_to_heal.html

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/4340352-toronto-tree-canopy-suffers-huge-loss-during-ice-storm-deputy-mayor-calling-on-millions-for-restora/

 

And another photo of the way it should be now in my garden.

Blue sea of Forget-me-Nots which usually pop up in May by my drivesay finished for this season.

Blue sea of Forget-me-Nots which usually pop up in May by my driveway.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Garden Destruction, Gardening, Ice storm Toronto, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto, Uncategorized, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child hits the stress factor

Only Child's relaxing corner  in the backyard - when the garden finally flowers

Only Child’s relaxing corner in the backyard – when the garden finally flowers

There are many studies and articles about how stressed-out we are. It seems to be the norm to be over-busy and stressed out. It’s the so-called remedies that I don’t agree on. One in particular – change your attitudes on your life.

Yeah, right. As if that would get rid of the stress in your life. If it would work, I would try to change my attitude. However, as I mentioned in last week’s post, as one stressor goes, another one pops up to take its place.

Let’s consider changing your attitude. There is a big risk here of going into denial, i.e., you don’t have any problems so you don’t solve them. You might also fall into the Pollyanna attitude. And we all know what happened to Pollyanna. In the 1960 Disney movie of the same name, Pollyanna fell from a tree and was crippled.

So attitude change won’t work for me.

I’ve decided on a three-prong approach:

1. Take a long hard look at just what my stressors are and try to eliminate what I can. I know I said that one will pop up as one is deleted. But there just might be some that can go for good – so that would be one or two less included in the stressor list.
2. Learn to relax – that’s the biggie – but meditation has helped me in the past. It won’t eliminate the stress but might help the cortisol level and my immune system. Because of some physical medical conditions, I already have a compromised immune system and stress capulted it into high gear. No wonder I’m having a hard time getting rid of a viral respiratory condition in my neck and cheek glands, which started as sinusitis and is threatening to include that again. Here, my garden (whenever this weather decides it is actually spring – plants are about a month late this year) can help, both gardening and sitting in the garden and reading.
3. Solve the damn problems – and pick and choose wisely, which ones to tackle. And try not to tackle all at once – if it can be helped.

Here are a few articles and studies on ways to eliminate or reduce stress. I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with them, but here they are anyway.
Stress and Positive Attitude
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
Stress and Aging http://www.economist.com/node/18526881
And my favourite – Eliminating Stress Brings Pain Relief
http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/stress-and-pain.aspx

 

How do you tackle stress? Is it killing you? I’d like some comments.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

 

Only Child Writes
Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under Gardening, Healing through gardening, Health, Only child, Overwhelm, Pain, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress