Monthly Archives: December 2014

Only Child’s good, bad and ugly 2014 list

Only Child's damaged evergreens and new growth

Only Child’s damaged evergreens and new growth

As 2014 soon ends, many people are making resolutions for 2015. Before I do that, I have to let go of 2014 with my summary of what I thought was good, bad and ugly. Here is a partial list. Some individuals/organizations/ things are on both because they behaved both well and badly. The ugly are the worst offenders – what I never want to see again.

The Good:

  1. My son Martin – he is at the top – for helping his old mom out so much, not just helping with computer stuff, but helping with house stuff, including offering to pay for a much-needed living room chesterfield when I get one this coming spring. Hot on his heels is his girlfriend, Juni, for helping me sort out my digital camera usage and photos. More on Martin’s goodness in last week’s post (for what he did in December 2013). See https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/only-childs-meaning-of-christmas-2/
  2. My garden (spring, summer and fall) for providing a sanctuary of colour, fragrance and creativity.
  3. My health – what is good about it. I can still walk most days and garden and still am able to live in my home.
  4. My home, especially now that the boarder has moved out and I have my home back.
  5. God, for when he does listen to me – on a few big things such as getting the boarder out and making my new novel publication and book launch, etc. happen.
  6. My city councillor, Janet Davis and her staff for helping me out when city departments don’t do their job and/or are rude.
  7. The incredible Grace in Bell Canada’s resolution department for straightening out bad service issues including incompetent, unfriendly and rude technicians and call centre and billing department staff. And for taking $50 off on my Bell bill for the company’s screw-up and bad service.
  8. My bank branch for being so helpful, especially when one of their tellers screwed up when I paid a bill and took it from Utility (water and waste) instead of Property Taxes. The manager went out of her way to get the funds transferred back to me, including the interest charges for “late payment” and wrote a letter to the City of Toronto Property Tax Department about teller error not any non-payment on my part. So I still have my stellar paying-on-time status here.
  9. Mike, the handyman, for being top-notch and quick in repairing/upgrading in plumbing, electrical and also painting, etc.
  10. My friends who help me, especially Bob (who recommended Mike), Tanya and Alex, Marlene, Kathy, Carol and Al, and the librarians at the Toronto Public Library branches who are supportive of my books, doing readings and teaching workshops at library branches.

The Bad:

  1. God, for the too many times when he doesn’t listen, for the horrible weather he brought us worldwide in 2014 (and December 2013 too) and not repairing all the damage he caused to all our trees and gardens from the December 2013 ice storm in southern Ontario, Canada .
  2. The boarder for turning into a pain in the ass, taking over rooms in the house she wasn’t entitled to, leaving a dirty mess when she moved out – she was a boarder, not a renter.  Note here: I did take her in when she had nowhere else affordable to go. She overstayed her “welcome.”
  3. Any of the six utilities and their staff who screwed up with service.
  4. Toronto 311 call centre for one person’s rudeness and patronization and at first not even going to put in a complaint and request. I sicced Janet Davis’ staff on him.
  5. Toronto’s garbage collectors – or two from the garbage truck that picks up the green bin (veggie and the like scraps, used facial tissues) who missed one bag (not the same bag each time) three times in October and even after my complaint, did it again in December. Don’t have these problems with the actual garbage bins and recycling bins as they are handled by machine from the garbage truck.
  6. Telemarketers and their comrades in email. The pox on them.
  7. The weather itself – it is extreme all over. Nowhere on earth is good and safe to live.
  8. Time for running off at more than the mouth with the result we are running around in circles.
  9. Any stressors who interfere with people’s health.
  10. Health again – not just mine but many of my female friends between 50 and 70 have so many health problems, some big, some not. But all interfere with our quality of life. I don’t believe this is just from getting old.

The Ugly:

(the worst from the Bad list): the extreme weather, God (the bad parts), the former boarder, health issues and time-stealers.

So, what will 2015 bring? We shall see. I’m planning on tackling the time issue and will be deleting and delaying as much as I can. And focusing on what is important.

Happy, prosperous and healthy 2015 to all.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bank service, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Garden Destruction, God, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Ice storm Toronto, Martin Crawford, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Time, Time management, Toronto

Only Child’s meaning of Christmas

The Christmas tree decorated brings Christmas joy to Only Child

The Christmas tree decorated brings Christmas joy to Only Child

Christmas means different things to different people. To show what Christmas means to me, I’m going to take you back to last December 2013. Close your eyes and remember.

Early morning December 22, 2013, the lights, the furnace, the fridge, the freezer, the heat suddenly went off. Ice pelted down on southern Ontario and Toronto was badly hit including many fallen trees on power lines. Toronto lost about one-third of its tree canopy. It was like the wrath of God was unleashed full force and we were being punished.

The boarder and her cat (still living with me then) and I were stuck. We had water, including hot water because that is a separate utility here and the hot water heat is gas-run. So is the furnace but years ago turning on the gas furnace switched to an electric-turn on.

Mid-day Sunday, my son Martin phoned. He still had power; so did downtown Toronto. He wanted to put us up at a downtown hotel. We resisted at first – partly because of the boarder waffling and partly because I was worried about leaving the house. He gave me advice about removing the ice from the veranda and driveway (put down salt and a couple of hours later go out with a shovel and hack away/shovel it). I did that.

Next day, the Monday, the phone woke me up (a land line, my life line then). Martin again insisting we had to go into a hotel downtown because the temperature was plummeting later in the day. The room included the boarder and her cat. So, after talking to some of my friends on the block and elsewhere, I got the house situation straightened out (except for no power and no heat, so I left a tap in the laundry room on dripping).

We took a taxi to the hotel and Martin met us there. He got us checked in and helped me set up my laptop with the hotel’s Internet while the boarder fed her cat. Then Martin took us out for dinner at Fran’s Restaurant and left me with a Starbucks gift certificate for hot chocolate for the boarder and me. Much later after Martin returned home, he phoned me at the hotel. Tanya, my friend next door had just texted him that the power had just gone back on. I called Tanya.

We stayed in the hotel for the two days booked. Christmas around noon, Martin in a leased car arrived, paid for our stay,  and drove us back home. That wasn’t all – he brought Christmas dinner – ham, potatoes, cream cheese, rosemary and cooked it. I supplied green beans and the dishes.

Looking back, I realize this is the true meaning of Christmas. Friends and family helping each other and celebrating Christmas together. To me, that includes taking time through the year to get small but useful presents for those close to me. I do it bit by bit when on holidays and afterwards. The only mall part was going to the Hudson Bay Company – but in a smaller mall and I focused on the department and the person I was buying for. To me Christmas is not about playing shopaholics at the mallChristmas is not about sitting in a church for Christmas services. You might say my take on Christmas is secular/spiritual, but definitely not religious. My Christmas spirit is (no, not in a bottle, although I like the occasional glass of wine) connected to family and friends, and helping others when and where I can. My Christmas spirit is listening to Christmas songs – secular and religious – it’s the music I like, watching Christmas movies – old and new – on TV, looking at decorated Christmas trees and decorating my two foot high artificial tree,  and walking around outside looking at the Christmas lights. May not be able to do that this year either as according to weather forecasts we are supposed to get very high winds with rain. Not happy about that and I’ve told God what I think about that and what is the right thing to do.

That’s my Christmas story and I’m sticking to it.

Happy holiday to all. And may it be safe, especially from bad and extreme weather.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas spirit, Extreme Weather, Hydro power outage, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child on Christmas and other year-end expenses

tree01

Ho-Ho – are we all running around malls etc. doing last-minute Christmas shopping? And maxing out the credit card?
Not me. While I enjoy choosing gifts for family and friends, I don’t like crowded stores and malls. I don’t like all the buying frenzy and overspending in today’s world. Despite online shopping, the in-person furor still occurs. And I cannot afford to spend a lot of money. When you have limited finances you have to watch it. For the past few years I’ve made sure that I paid cash – whether crisp bills (now plastic in Canada) and coins or debit for Christmas presentst. I don’t want to pay for Christmas in January and February. Those two months are dismal enough without throwing Christmas debt into the picture.
Back when I was growing up (the grey ages, of course), gift-giving was much simpler and had more meaning than in today’s overly-commercial world. Mom would be at the kitchen table wrapping my presents and Dad’s presents and I would be at the dining room table wrapping what I had bought for her and Dad. We were separated by a closed door. When Mom needed the scotch tape she would give warning and I would quickly cover the presents with wrapping paper. None of us spent a lot of money. We didn’t have a lot, but my parents, Mom especially, were good at budgeting. I remember hearing bits and pieces of their late night budgeting talks after I had gone to bed and they thought I was asleep.
Today I try to emulate Mom’s frugality and generosity. Back in the summer while on holidays I start buying small gifts and try to match the gift with the person. Some shopping is left until December, but except for the wine, I’m done.
Just as well. December also brings a lot of year end expenses – both business and personal. I have the invoices for the business ones but I’m still waiting for two mammoth utility bills – hydro and water/waste. It’s hard to budget when you have to gestimate costs.
And I probably will need new glasses this year as it’s been four years and I’m squinting as I write this. My eye exam is this week. Fortunately I have funds left over from my holiday savings as I didn’t use them all up (didn’t travel to one place I had planned to) and my son, bless him, gave me a Hudson’s Bay department store gift certificate for my birthday this month. So, these two source should cover ¾ or even more of my glasses cost at Hudson Bay’s optical department. I’ve been there to get – you guessed it – a gestimate of the cost.
There is always the worry of unexpected emergency costs with house and computers and I keep my toes crossed. Can’t type with crossed fingers.
Next week’s post I’ll talk about what this holiday season means to me and what it doesn’t mean.
What do you think about the current Christmas spending frenzy? And Boxing Day?

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas, Debt, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Looks at Sleep Deprivation and Daytime Overload

Teddy on clock 2I need more sleep. Six hours or less a night is just not enough. I am not alone in this nightmare turned daymare. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has declared not getting sufficient sleep an epidemic. The results, it says, include depression, skin aging, weight gain. And 61 per cent of people crave sleep more than they do sex. Although sex (or lack of it) factors into the CDC information on it. See http://bettersleep.org/better-sleep/the-science-of-sleep/sleep-statistics-research/infographic-lack-of-sleep-a-public-health-epidemic/

What is interesting about this posting is what isn’t there. True, it is geared more towards individuals in a relationship. But relationship or not, people seem to have a common denominator about lack of sleep.

We are just too damn busy to get enough sleep. Sleep is way down on the priority list even if we say we must get more sleep. And the results are more than the CDC says. Sleep deprivation makes me stupid and slow on the uptake, not to mention getting around in the morning. I may then last okay until late afternoon, then I just don’t get it in a lot of areas. Areas I am normally sharp in. Not dementia…yet.

Take it from me, a sleep-deprived senior. I just have too much to do each day, much of it late-at- night stuff. Most is routine but often a few one-time extras. The past week I had stabs at trying to finish up all this routine nightly housework shit earlier. But it doesn’t always work. Often I’m out at a meeting or doing grocery shopping. For the latter, because of some store closing times, I go out directly from work and eat supper on my return. Even if I do eat before I go out, I’m still left with dishes, coffee pot preparation for the next morning, refilling the humidifiers, etc. etc. when I get home. It drags on.

True, when home I watch TV but there is before TV and during commercials to do all this stuff. My goal is to stop watching TV after part of the 11 p.m. news – right after the full weather report. Trouble is I often nod off during that time and miss the weather report, then I have to get it elsewhere.

And therein lies the problem – too much to do and when to do it.

I’ve been keeping track (mentally, no time to write it down) what exactly is consuming my time. Besides the late night chore shift, two other things stand out – too much email and too much time spent on it – and this is just the business email. And too much client work all at once– although some of that is suffering because of the email situation, and some of that email is from clients – some necessary of course.

So, starting Dec. 15, I am taking three weeks off for the holiday season. During that time I will do no client work. I bcc emailed all current and recent clients about this decision and basically said (but diplomatically) to leave me alone during that time. If they need to email me, including sending me work, please do it this week or wait until January 5, 2015 week.

I intend to spend more time with family and friends (including emailing them), working on the next novel in my Beyond mystery series and of course keeping up with social media (that is suffering too with this time thing) and any Beyond Blood book promo  to set up for 2015 that comes up. And figuring what in my life I can streamline more and even eliminate. I have already figured out what I want to do in my writing, editing and writing instructing business – and some things have been discontinued. Now, I have to spread out what’s left.

It’s the meetings, organizations I belong to (and what I do there), plus some personal stuff that needs a pruner, maybe even a shovel.

And more sleep. If I don’t get my required 7 1/2 hours sleep each night next year, the culprits will be sorry.

I am serious. My health and sanity depend on it.

 

Cheers.

Only Child Writes

Sharon A. Crawford

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Filed under Life Balance, Life demands, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation

Only Child looks at bleakness outside

Another look at this bleak tree photo. Bleak, bleak, bleak.

Another look at this bleak tree photo. Bleak, bleak, bleak.

There is an old traditional song called In the Bleak Mid-Winter, which Sarah McLachlan composed new lyrics to, arranged and sings on her 2006 CD Wintersong.

The song is so right about now, November, one of the bleakest, if not the bleakest, months of the year. The sun rarely shines. Each day is dark, grey, miserable. Even when the temperature does an unseasonable rise to 14 Celcius, there is little or no sun. Instead it is rain and wind at the worst and those clouds at the least. Inside the house you need a flashlight to go from room to room. You have to turn on the lights to see the dirt to vacuum and dust it away.

As I did on Sunday when the temperature rose to14 Celsius. I did revel in that warm temperature and wearing my running shoes and spring/fall trench coat while outside briefly in the garden, moving fallen leaves to under the juniper tree in front and putting up more burlap, this time around what is left of the boxwood after God’s destruction of last winter.

Still have to spray the big juniper – at least what came back after last winter – with the protection for windburn this winter.

The rest is all hope and a determination to press on with living and thinking of what is good when the weather isn’t.

For me that is my writing, planning the 2015 garden, indoor gardening, reading, listening to music, walking, even watching favourite TV programs. And friends and family.

Especially family.

Especially my son Martin and his girlfriend Juni.

They took me out to dinner for my birthday last evening. Afterwards we walked the few blocks to the Hudson Bay store and looked at the Christmas scenes in the windows. Christmas scenes of old-fashioned Christmases from the 1800s and how people celebrated Christmas then. And how Santa and the elves prepared before and recuperated afterwards. Some of the elves at Santa’s Christmas dinner table pound their cutlery on the table demanding their Christmas dinner.

One of my favourite scenes here is the basement scene, underneath the family doing last minute Christmas prep. This basement scene shows the house mice all tucked in sleeping in match boxes.

Not really how mice live in a house they infest. But it is in keeping with the scene.

An nary a nativity scene – which suits me just fine.

More on what Christmas means to me in my pre-Christmas Eve post.

Until then, listen to Sarah McLachlan sing In the Bleak Mid-winter at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phhRrGTKa5w

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, November Weather, Only child, Rain and wind storm, Sharon A. Crawford, Trees and Shrubs, Weather, Winter Weather