Monthly Archives: February 2015

Only Child looks at stress facts and fables

Only child contemplates the ramifications of stress

Only child contemplates the ramifications of stress

Stress, stress – it’s making us sick. Too much stress can lead to heart attacks, strokes and now studies add dementia to the list. Stress-soothers claim stress is all in our perspective, as if seeing all the stuff shoved at us in life will not cause us any stress if we only see it all as what? Good happenings? Blessings?

I think not. No matter what your perspective on a stressful event or occurrence, it is still coming at you. Attitude won’t make it suddenly disappear. And the idea that God only gives us as many crosses as we can each bear is a myth. Look at how stressed out most people are. Look at all the problems in the world. Etc., etc., etc. You can change your attitude until cows come home on roller skates and the problems are still there until you solve them.

I am living (at this point in time) proof of that. Just when I was trying to learn to relax, lessen the load of work and other commitments I carry (the delete and delay method), I get hit with way too many more stressful situations. The worst part is I didn’t cause any of them. Never mind who or what is responsible. The point is all these problems have come at me and some keep returning. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve been dealing with since the beginning of 2015.

  1. The Rogers Cable TV service disruption business – on and off since Dec. 31 actually. It took eight service calls before a senior technician finally found the problem – a line problem on a cable outside on a pole. Something I had already figured out. But I’m not a technician; I’m only the customer.
  2. The life insurance premium problem – back again this year. The insurance company that took over the one that originally handled my life insurance has a weird way of dealing with premium increases. This policy was set up for increased premium payments as you get older. Yes, not the best type of policy, but I can live with that. I can’t live with the company’s procedure – instead of sending you a notice of payment increase a month or so before your new fiscal year (mine starts August 1) and then increasing the premiums afterwards (I pay quarterly) they send you a letter about it six months into your fiscal year and if you don’t pay the full increased amount for the rest of that year, your policy can lapse. So I made several calls to the company – the call centre person, Jennifer, was useless so I took it higher up. Unfortunately I was dealing with problem No. 1 and No. 3below, so there was a lapse of a few weeks before I did this. But supposedly it got all straightened, and as instructed I sent this next quarterly payment with the added amount. That was supposed to settle it. Yesterday I got a letter that my policy had lapsed. Another frantic phone call to the company. The officer there who supposedly fixed it said that once they received my payment (in the mail since Friday) my policy would be reinstated. It better be or I’m naming the company in a future blog post.

 

Isn’t that bad business procedure?

 

  1. The weather – January wasn’t bad – despite hating winter with a passion, I could live with it. Just a few days of somewhat cold weather and a bit of snow, most of which managed to melt. Not February – it will be the coldest February in southern Ontario since 1978. But also lots more snow. I know not as bad as the Maritime provinces, but bad enough with the extreme cold and snow combination to cause ice jams on one side of my roof and in the downspouts going down from that side, as well as water leaking and freezing out the join in the downspout extensions. I now have to get that fixed plus get more insulation put in my attic. So I will have to go into my meagre savings to pay for that. I’ve asked my ex to pitch in to help, but I figure after I also do my income taxes and pay that, my savings will be very close to non-existent.
  2. So financial worries – hey I’m a senior and most of my income is government seniors’ pensions with a bit of alimony and editing and writing income thrown in. The only upside here is my hydro bill at least has gone down down since I kicked the boarder out. And I don’t think the paltry amount she paid (she was on welfare so social services had her “rent” set at a fixed amount) would help with No. 3.
  3. Health and injuries –maybe should be up at the top of the list. My son fell – he missed a stair at the subway station last Thursday evening – and sprained his ankle. Friday he couldn’t walk, but thankfully the ankle is almost healed and he can now walk. Me? My on-and-off again phlegm in the throat has gotten worse. Because of other health issues I have a compromised immune system and each winter get some respiratory-related thing (last year it was two months of swollen glands – something I hadn’t had since I was a kid). And the stress makes some of these other health issues worse.

 

I could go on and on. But I’ll end with a link to the study that links too much stress in middle-aged women leading to more dementia when they get older. http://www.alzinfo.org/articles/midlife-stress-may-increase-dementia-risk/

I am past middle age but I had a long list of stress in my life then.

 

And I don’t think forgetting all your problems in dementia is the answer. Dementia has its own problems for those who get it and their family and friends.

 

Makes you not want to live a long life, doesn’t it?

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Heart Disease, Old Age, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Suicide, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child celebrates her son’s birthday

Martin outside Allans Restaurant on Mother's Day

Martin and I outside Allans Restaurant on Mother’s Day

Today is my son’s birthday and we plan to celebrate this evening over dinner. Just the three of us, including his girlfriend, at an Italian Restaurant. Wine and pasta or maybe wine and pizza. And conversation.

My son, Martin, gives me a lot to be thankful for. Too much to list, so just a few. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but he paid for a hotel room for my then boarder, her cat and me for a couple of days in late December 2013 because of the ice storm in Toronto and its resulting power failure at my home. He’s there when my computers and their programs act up. He helps financially with some of his gifts – things I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. He doesn’t forget my birthday or mother’s day and takes me out for brunch or dinner. And we always celebrate the Christmas season with dinner here.

It’s not just a lot of food and meals. I think deep down it’s the mother-son connection. Some mothers and sons (or mothers and daughters for that matter) either have severed connections or the connections are shaky or gone sour. Perhaps the child grew up to be a criminal or drug addict, or worse. Perhaps the mother abandoned her child. You can probably imagine all sorts of heartbreaking scenarios.

Many of us raise our kids the best we can and sometimes are surprised when they turn out okay. In my case, Martin’s father and I split up when Martin was quite young. But – and it’s a big but – neither of us abandoned him. Martin had equal time with both parents. Not easy at first when my ex and I were fighting, but it smoothed out after a few years. This time with both parents gave Martin a more rounded growing-up period and hopefully with no feelings of abandonment. For my part, I tried to be fair and let my son work out a lot of his growing-up pains himself, often offering the listening ear and a few suggestions.

Not that there wasn’t some discipline involved when necessary, but never extreme. For example, when I had to ground him when he was 16 for something (for privacy’s sake, I’m not saying what, except it wasn’t drugs), I used common sense. He was grounded, except from school (obvious) but the other exception was he could still practice and perform at gigs with the rock band he played in. Why? Because there were others involved here and it wouldn’t be fair to them. Parenting is give and take – on both sides. I’m not saying I was the perfect parent. Far from it.

Something that came out of his growing-up years – he matured in thoughts and actions early. Others have commented on this. And he has a lot of common sense and logic in him.

But also lots of creativity.

Now he plays in another band (Beams, see http://beamstheband.com/) and is a computer programming expert.

But when you get right down to it the continuing love, the continuing bond is what’s important.

Happy birthday, Martin.

Cheers.

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, Martin Crawford, Mother and Child, Only child, Parenting, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child says Mercury Retrograde caused communication problems

Mercury in Retrograde at work.

Mercury in Retrograde at work

I call it the polar vortex of communications going haywire. I’m referring to Mercury in Retrograde – three or four times a year the planet Mercury goes retrograde. And before you think that’s woo-woo and/or I’m crazy, it’s not all astrology. There is some science involved.

Mercury is a planet which spins around the earth. Like we humans, it needs to slow down and does so three or four times a year. During those times it appears that it is actually stopping and then spinning backwards. The latter isn’t actually happening. That is when electrical and electronic devices and services can go bonkers.

Blaming Mercury in retrograde for that is where some sceptics draw the line. Here is my non-technical, non-scientific explanation. There are electronic waves out there in space and they have a lot to do with radio, TV (think satellites) and digital devices such as computer Internet and cell phone reception. And like anything else in our world, it does not all work perfectly 100 per cent of the time. Weather, of course, can interfere. But so can the planets.

Think about the influences of our moon – equinoxes on different occasions in and around planet earth. So, why not Mercury (and other planets for that matter)? When Mercury is in in retrograde I believe it slows down or even stops/interrupts communication services.

What’s been happening to me the past few weeks is a good example. This current phase of Mercury Retrograde began January 21, 2015. Since then I’ve had a wave (pun intended) of interrupted reception in my cable TV service, my Kobo e-reader froze, there have been computer problems (some weird) on both my desktop PC and laptop and my area of Toronto had an 8-minute power outage just after midnight one night.

That comes to four electronic/electric mishap items – although all but the power outage have branches.

When the Kobo reader froze last week (only the second time in its two year age), the usual unfreeze method of sliding the power “button” to the off and holding it for 10 seconds didn’t work. The techie support at Kobo had me taking a small paper clip, bending it and inserting it into a tiny hole at the bottom of the reader. It worked. I was in the middle of a murder mystery in the Julia Spencer-Fleming series so you can imagine how grateful I was.

The computers have had programs freezing, programs needing replacement or updates. My computer techie is making another visit tomorrow morning for another of these occurrences on the laptop.

The Rogers cable TV service is turning into a bad saga. Big company with too many departments and people. The problem with the cable TV service – sporadically it would pixel, garble the voices and then go to black with the message “We have detected a service interruption. Please call your service provider.” I did – seven times so far and seven techies (two of them the same ones) showed up and all had different ideas. My friend next door was also having the same reception problem but only with her TV upstairs – the downstairs one was working fine. A similar thing happened – but encompassing more of us on the street- in fall 2013. It dragged on with the parade of techies in and out until Rogers finally got some smarts and figured out it was a defective cable up the poles behind one of the houses and fixed it. Then I hadn’t said anything, but non-techie me had figured out it had to be a cable.

So this time I’m speaking out when each techie walks through the door. One has replaced one cable up the pole behind my neighbours (both our service is connected to that). However, these are all old cables outside and all should be replaced.

Each techie had different ideas what was the cause but unfortunately when they arrived the service had returned. I called when there was the actual service disruption but they won’t send a techie right away to catch it. So far, besides the new cable out back, the techies have done the following: replaced the digital cable TV adapter (the old one was working fine), updated some connecting device in the cable box outside on the house wall, replaced a cable from the digital box to the TV, and one “bright” techie decided I had too much reception (because I have only the one cable device with Rogers – the TV) and put something on the TV to adapter cable to decrease the reception. Makes sense, right? One of the following techies removed the device.

The most recent techie (yesterday), a senior techie, actually tested the TV reception with a device which he placed in front of the TV and then he did some settings with the remote. All seemed to be working then. (Of course, the reception had come back – it was three days since I had called in the problem to Rogers technical support). He also moved the electrical connection of the adapter from one electrical outlet to another because he said he had found that was the cause at another residence. He even knocked on my next-door neighbours to ask her about her TV reception and she said it was okay then.

This techie also said he had found nothing, but to try the electric outlet plug-in change for a few days and if the service is disrupted again to phone in and make sure I ask for outside maintenance or I could be charged if a techie again comes to the door to come inside.

What? I pay enough monthly for the service and part of that service is free techie fixes. I told him this and pulled my senior’s card.

If this techie is right and it was the electrical outlet, I will be grateful and do the equivalent of eating crow. But I will need at least three months of uninterrupted cable TV service before I even remotely believe that.

Meantime I have searched the Internet and collected info and contact info on the Rogers Cable executives – CEO and Vice-president of communications. And I also have the contact information for a media consumer advocate – for future complaint reference.

This round of Mercury in Retrograde is supposed to end February 11. We shall see what we shall see here.

I still am filled with trepidation when I turn on my TV and computers. Experience has taught me not to be complacent and not to take anything for granted. For there lies the way of getting the rug pulled from under you.

Unfortunately, that is the way of the world these days, a world I’m disliking more and more each day.

I am interested if any of you have experienced “communication” problems lately. It is not just devices but communication with others. For more information on Mercury in Retrograde, go to http://astrostyle.com/learn-astrology/mercury-retrograde/#sthash.Isy4UkBm.dpuf There are even do’s and don’t’s to survive Mercury Retrogades.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Hydro power outage, Kobo e-reader freezes, Mercury in Retrograde, Only child, Problems, Rogers Cable TV Service

Only Child on the winter snow blahs

winter-13505549207QUSouthern Ontario got blasted with a big snowstorm Sunday night into Monday – the first big one this season. Unlike winter sports enthusiasts and people who just love snow, I was and am not happy about all this. When I see people-on-the-street interviews on TV I just want to throw snowballs at the interviewees happy acceptance of snow.

Maybe if they had to shovel several driveways of snow in an afternoon they would change their minds. No, I didn’t. Had enough trouble shovelling my own driveway etc. Got part of it done and then came inside for a break. One of those itinerant snow shovellers knocked on my door to do the rest and $30 less later (Canadian so not really that much with the loonie’s rate under 80 cents on the dollar), it was cleared.

But my mind filled with worry isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I may hate winter with a passion, but I can accept the deep-freeze temperatures as long as we get little or no precipitation. And we were doing so well in Toronto, Canada up to Sunday. Small or smallish amounts of snow would arrive and then it would gradually warm up and the snow would disappear. Sure, it looked bleak outside but when I walked around I was grateful that it was dry. Even the smallish amount of snow we got last Thursday could have melted slowly.

Then we got dumped with 20 cm. Sunday into Monday morning.

So why do I worry?

  1. Getting it cleared out, obviously.
  2. Being able to get around for errands, meetings and to see friends and family. That includes public transit, some of which can’t seem to handle even small amounts of snow (like the buses in my area).
  3. Connected to the above, there is the risk of falling in slush, ice (when that snow freezes over), etc. I’ve already fallen on ice once this year, although before the big snowstorm. Luckily my thick coat saved me from injury.
  4. The snow ploughs cometh and park the ploughed snow in inconvenient places. I have to keep an eye on where so they don’t cover up the cache basins in case of…see No. 5 below. And yesterday a big road plough backed up and hit a car behind it. I didn’t see that but I sure heard the woman yelling at the plough driver. I was backing her 100 per cent.
  5. The inevitable meltdown (of the snow, not me), which will probably include some rain somewhere down the road and then I have to worry about water getting into my basement. Why? The ground is frozen; there is a lot of snow on the ground, and when rain falls on it, it can’t all get absorbed into the ground. The evestroughs and downspouts are filled with ice and get blocked. Often we get a snow and rain mix (one after the other) to make it even worse. With the little snow we had up to Sunday and slow melts in the sun, even some rain would not have poured water into my basement.
  6. When accompanied by high winds, there is the worry of fallen trees, fallen tree branches, fallen utility wires, and power outages.

Although I see no beauty in snow, I was glad last evening after dark when I saw three boys around 12 or 13 throwing snowballs at each other from the snow piled up by the snow ploughs. At least they weren’t indoors on the computer. However, I was not outside, but looking out the window in my front door.

Remember, snow is a four-letter word.

Shovels up or should that be down?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Snow, Snow Removal, Weather, Winter blahs, winter falls, Winter Weather