Monthly Archives: June 2014

Only Child asks: Plan or not Plan

Only Child - an old foggie or just the times?

Only Child – an old foggie or just the times?

You know the old saying about the best laid plans…? That and the over-uncertainty of the times we live in, have made me wonder – is it worth it to make ANY plans when too often they get screwed? Blame it on other people, God, Murphy’s law – whatever you believe in, but make no mistake life, society has become too uncertain and maybe too unbearable.

I believe it started to escalate and change once we hit this new millennium. True, there were signs in the 1990s but life was still bearable then. Now it is not. I absolutely hate the world we live in, for the most part. The technology is changing too fast and there is too much of it with the result that many people spend more time glued to their smart phones than actually talking to people on the phone or even what is now considered old-fashioned – email. People are in too much of a busy-rush and seem to be doing too much at once. Then there is what I call “rude rage” which I believe is the result of what I said in the last two sentences. Extreme severe and uncertain weather is now the norm year round everywhere in the world. Hurricanes and tornadoes, for example, used to be infrequent but are now common occurrences.  If you don’t believe me go to The Weather Network http://theweaternetwork.com/ and check out anywhere in the world. Then there is people’s sense of entitlement where it shouldn’t be.

I’m going to stick my neck out here as a senior and say seniors are excluded to a certain extent. We have lived 65 plus years and hopefully contributed to society including our family friends. (Of course not all have.) Add in the government pension plans and for those who are lucky enough to receive them – private pension plans from companies or government departments where you worked. We are entitled to that. We are also entitled to a seat on public transit. And chivalry is not completely dead here. However, more women have offered their seat to me than men – and I’m talking young men – too busy with their smart phones to notice I guess. So a certain amount of entitlement for seniors is okay (including those retailers’ senior days). And I do my part to give up my seat for other seniors in worse shape than I am – men or women or anyone else who seems to need assistance. Except the people and those like them mentioned in the next paragraph.

However, entitlement doesn’t apply to those parents who take over the public transit space with their oversized buggies. I touched on that in last week’s post. Another place where entitlement doesn’t apply is those stupid jerks who stand in the subway doorway (when there is lots of room to move in – I’m not talking crowded rush-hour subways when there is no choice) and won’t move. I had a run-in last week with this late-teens-20ish b**** who was blocking the subway doorway. I wasn’t looking at the floor but straight ahead so accidently stepped on her toe. Because she was blocking the doorway I didn’t apologize – otherwise I would have because stepping on someone’s toes or heels is awful in my opinion. As I walked by, she grabbed my arm and said something rude to me. I said “you are not supposed to block the doorway.” She said something else rude so I pointed to the sign on the glass partition in the doorway which says “Please do not block doorway,” looked at her and said, “Read.” Then I noticed her feet. No wonder I stepped on them. They were sticking out almost halfway in the doorway. She was still there blocking traffic and listening to her music with her headphones when I got out. This time I took care not to be near her.

It is times like these that I wish I had the powers of a witch.

So, there isn’t much I like about this world – but there are a few people and things I do like – my son, my cousins, some of my friends and colleagues, writing and teaching writing, editing, my garden, my books and other reading material, my computers (surprise, surprise – but I’m talking writing, email , blogging, and Internet research here), walking, and sleeping – what little I can get of the latter.

Some of the changes are for the better – for example, the inclusiveness for gay people, especially gay marriages and the total acceptance for that in Ontario, especially shown in our election June 12 with the first openly gay premier. That wasn’t even an issue leading up to the election. And I am not gay.

As for the weather, I prefer summer but I can no longer feel safe where weather is concerned and that’s year round.

And making plans? I do some, much of it is contingency planning. But I don’t hold my breath that they will be a reality. Seeing is believing.

How do you feel about today’s world?

Just sign me a grumpy old foggie who no longer cares that she is cranky.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, God, Only child, Planning, Public Transportation, Seniors, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child disses new Toronto streetcars

The older (since 1980s) Toronto streetcars which Only Child likes

The older (since 1980s) Toronto streetcars which Only Child likes

Toronto gets new streamlined streetcars starting the end of this August. I had a look at one, inside and out, during Toronto’s Doors Open a few weekends ago. I don’t like the new streetcars.

They look more like subway cars than subway cars without all the space of subway cars. These new streetcars are supposed to hold more people. Like the new subway cars there are extensions joined together and people can walk through to each one for a seat.

If they can find an empty seat. These new streetcars are built for more standing room. That does make sense, but when you look at what is available on them for sitting, I have to shake my head. What works on the Viva Blue buses in York Region just north of Toronto doesn’t work on these new Toronto streetcars, i.e. both have seats facing each way. True, the streetcars have room for cyclists to put their bicycles and hopefully for people to put those overlarge baby buggies which the old streetcars definitely don’t have room for. Don’t know if space to park their bloody buggies out of people’s ways will get rid of some parents’ entitlement issues with their big baby buggies. Don’t get me on this topic – let’s just say that I’ve had to tell one Mrs. Entitlement off about her buggy blocking the way for a senior to get on the bus and another time I praised a couple who pushed up two bus seats (set up for wheelchairs and scooters) and put their big baby buggie in that spot – out of everyone’s way.

There is also something disturbing about the setup in these new streetcars. At the Doors Open display I was talking to a TTC rep because I had seen those Presto scans where you scan your pass in. The rep said that for now until Toronto gets into that system, payment will be on the honour system like the Viva in York Region. The difference here is that you pay before you get on the Viva bus and don’t show proof of payment to the driver, but there is often a supervisor on the bus who checks. I’ve had that happen and yes, I had paid. The TTC rep let it slip that when the Presto system is in full force it will hurt seniors and others on low incomes. My journalistic and consumer antennae revved up so I asked, “What do you mean?”

“It t is going to be pay as you go.”

“What about us seniors who get the discounted metro pass mailed to us each month and the monthly fee comes out automatically from our bank accounts?

He didn’t know the answer as it hadn’t been worked out. He did say to get after Andy Byford (the big cheese at the TTC) and my city councillor.

You bet I will, especially as there is a city election this fall. And I hope anyone else on limited income – seniors or not – will raise a big stink about this. Presto cards or not, there has to be a way to set it up so that we can still pay only a set amount each month.

Otherwise the TTC may lose service, as you can bet that some people – low income or not – who have cars but use the TTC will go back to taking the car to work and defeating the purpose of improving the traffic flow in downtown Toronto.

For more info on the problems with these new streetcars, some photos and a video go to http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ttc-s-new-streetcars-raise-concerns-with-riders-1.2672486

And for the schedule to put the streetcars in place, see https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Projects/New_Vehicles/New_Streetcars/index.jsp
Fortunately it will take to 2019 to get them all up and running on Toronto’s streetcar line. Maybe some of the problems will be straightened out by then. I’m no holding my breath.
The old streetcars may be cumbersome but except for the stairs and the too-high-for-us- shorties-to-reach easily line to pull for a stop request, I prefer these older streetcars. If the newbies were designed like Toronto’s new subways (and I really like them – much better than the oldies which are still on Line 2) and the Presto setup was scrapped or at least modified to take in monthly pass amounts, I would go for the new streetcars.

At the Doors Open display, two older versions of Toronto’s streetcars sat in the TTC parking lot for us to go inside and experience all but the actual ride. There was a fellow giving us the history of the streetcars and pointing out their features. The middle-aged one (i.e. between the old streetcars and the present) is the one I remember travelling on a lot as a child. And the aisles were very narrow in them. I remember once getting on one of the oldest version – maybe when I was around six years, in downtown Toronto. It might have been when they were being phased out or actually phased out but needed to supplement for passenger use. I wouldn’t know that back then. Just remember getting on one with Mom to go home after finishing some shopping downtown.

They call this progress – but one thing progress advocates often forget – retaining some of the old features, or at least new features to keep the old functions that work still operating, and the payment setup are both important.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Nostalgia, Only child, Public Transportation

Only Child says why I won’t vote Liberal June 12 –it’s the laundry

Only Child contemplating voting June 12 .

Only Child contemplating voting June 12 .

We have an election coming up this Thursday in Ontario, Canada, and I’m not voting Liberal, the incumbent party for too many years where Dalton McGinty (McGuilty as my friend Kathy calls him and she’s right) screwed up in so many ways, in so many issues.

True he had to resign (where were the rotten tomatoes when he did so?). And I have respect for Kathleen Wynne, who took over from Mr. McGuilty. However, it was too late when she got in. She is not perfect and I don’t agree with everything she says and does, especially the fiasco of handing out food vouchers for those who had food spoliage from the ice storm that hit south western, southern and eastern Ontario in late December 2013. Pickup places were set up first in Toronto and then south western Ontario but it turned into a near riot. Not enough vouchers – twice when it was held in one place, for example. I didn’t bother going as I didn’t really lose much and others needed the payback more.

It could have been handled differently. Those Toronto people on Ontario Works received a cheque or direct deposit to their bank accounts for the $50 allowed. Excluding the small amount, why couldn’t this method have been done for others? The province of Ontario has our bank account info for direct deposit from our CRA tax returns for provincial sales and other tax credits.

And it’s not the big big expense over the cancelled gas plant and its repercussions that is the reason I won’t vote Liberal.

It’s my laundry and my high continually rising Hydro costs.

I can’t do my laundry when I want to because of Mr. McGuilty’s stupid hydro rates set-up. Peak time, Mid-Peak time and Off-peak time. The latter, with the lowest usage rates is 24 hours on weekends and statutory holidays, and weekdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. This means in spring and summer if I want to hang out my laundry during a weekday I have to put it in the washer and do the wash cycles after 7 p.m. in the evening to hang it out the next morning.  I don’t get up until 7.30 a.m. and with the little sleep I have time for I am not getting up at 6.30 a.m. or earlier to do a laundry. So I’m confined to weekends (can get tricky when there is a boarder also doing laundry) or have to do the washing cycles before I go to bed and leave the wet clothes sitting in the washer or laundry basket(s) until I’m up and can get them out.

The second one ties in with the first – the extraordinary and unnecessary rise in hydro cost for the consumer in Ontario the last 10 months – three increases – much of which is to pay back a hydro debt for mess-ups by Hydro One and Mr. McGuilty and the rising cost for delivery of the actual power to our homes. Besides creating the peak/non-peak rates, Mr. McGuilty also brought in these smart metres to record our exact usage of hydro. Pay-as-you-go would be fine except for where the money is going. In Toronto, water and waste bills increased a lot – but the City is using that money to improve and restructure old sewer and water systems. Hydro One messed up with some customers bills. I didn’t get hit – yet, but then I’m under Toronto Hydro. But some customers in Ontario received inflated incorrect bills in the thousands.

Smart meters? Right!

I also won’t vote Conservative because Mr. Tim Hudak will take us back beyond the dark ages of the 1990s. Remember the Mike Harris era? Hudak has been compared to Harris and Hudak comes out much worse. Hudak would eliminate 100,000 jobs (service cuts for Ontario employees – government and government related – teachers and health professionals). I’m not a big fan of unions, mainly because of the strike provision and believe many more services should be made necessary with no strikes allowed. But eliminating jobs to save money and here’s the stupid part – create more jobs? I’ll admit I don’t know all the ins and outs and ramifications. Apparently Mr. Hudak doesn’t either as critics have said the math in his equation doesn’t make sense, doesn’t balance.

I wonder who did the math for Mr. Hudak.

So, I will be voting New Democrat. And before those that remember yell “Rae Days” (after the first Ontario New Democratic premier Bob Rae), hold on a minute. Rae created these days of unpaid holidays to be taken one-day at a time because the province was in debt. Andrea Horvath, the current ND head, isn’t Mr. Rae. She’s not perfect, but I’m willing to give her a chance.
Unfortunately, I can’t vote for her directly. Unlike voting in the municipal elections where I can vote for who I want as my area’s councillor, I can also vote for who I want as mayor – this can’t be done for provincial (or Federal) in Canada. The New Democrat person in my riding, Michel Prue, is fine by me. He has been elected for the past few elections and he (and his administrator) helped me with my problem obtaining a photo ID card which I blogged about a few months ago.

So, that’s the way it stands with me. I don’t need complicated. Just the main issues that affect us the most.

As for the laundry issue, my mother might turn in her grave. She could do the laundry whenever she wanted and hang it out. She did the latter sometimes in winter and brought in frozen, but dry clothes.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Ice storm Toronto, Water Rates

Only Child on going it solo

Growing up an only child had its peculiarities – some good, some bad. On the bad side, there is the obvious – no siblings to confide in, to help you get through your life especially if like me, you were bullied. Of course, siblings fight and tease each other, but for the most part I would suppose that is normal. There are always exceptions.

Throw in elderly parents – where one (Mom) pushes being pro-active where the Bully is concerned, and the other (Dad) is over-protective and you can be left going from one extreme to the other in dealing with what gets shoved at you in life.

Some only children withdraw into themselves and don’t have any close friends.

Following this going to opposites mentioned above, I did have close friends (besides the Bully) but I also kept my own counsel on many things. And I found I was confiding a lot in my mother – not everything, of course. She didn’t need a blow-by-blow account of my dates as a teenager, although she did almost embarrass me once, when a fellow was walking me home from a teen dance at the church. That was our agreement. I could go to these Sunday evening dances but Mom would meet me halfway walking home. In my memoir I write:

After putting on boots, coats, and hats (well, I did the latter), we amble up Donlands, past the bungalows. While we talk – I have no idea about what, probably about where I live as he thinks he’s taking me there – I dart looks in front. No Mom yet. Are we early?

We cross Plains Road and walk by Vince’s Jewellery Store, beyond the Donlands Cinema. I’m cranking my head over towards Joe, then down, supposedly to watch my footing in the snow. I sneak a look up the street and there she is.

Mom is heading our way and I want to duck into the Donlands Restaurant with Joe but I’m too chicken. Maybe it’s closed, I tell myself. But wait. Mom is doing her diplomatic thing. She pulls into a doorway, Hurst’s Drugstore, I think. Joe and I keep on talking and walking. I can feel Mom’s eyes on us.

When we stop for the lights at O’Connor, I turn to Joe.

“I can walk home the rest of the way myself,” I say. “Yeah. It’s just up there.” I point to my right.

“Okay. I’ll call you sometime during the week.”

“Okay. Good night.

“Good night.”

Fortunately, he doesn’t kiss me. Mom catches up with me. Now I’m in for it.

“I didn’t want to embarrass you so I stepped into the doorway,” she says. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford).

Growing up solo did give me the background to learn to think for myself. Problem was it took me nearly 30 years to start doing so. When you grow up an only child cocooned by elderly parents, particularly if one or both are protective, throw in losing your dad to cancer when you are 16 and your mother to a brain aneurysm when you are 22, and then you get married three months later, you aren’t exactly prime material for sticking up for your rights. Instead you lean towards others taking care of you.

How can you change?
First you have to have a child; then get separated from your spouse or partner, and then get hit with medical and financial problems.

 

But growing up an only child can teach you to problem solve – mainly because you have to learn to go inside yourself and pull out some possible solutions. The flip side is you may have trouble asking others for help. And when you do, it comes out as a big whine.

 

It didn’t all come right away, but I’ve turned into a fighter- finally. True I’m often cranky and come on strong in anger, but I’d rather be that than a perpetual doormat.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Elderly parents, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Social skills only children