Monthly Archives: September 2015

Only Child deals with time stealers

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am so fed up with unwanted and unasked for time-stealers. Over the past four months it has been difficult to get things done. Sometimes I feel like I am in freefall, in overwhelm, running around in the proverbial circles. Was it ever like this, even remotely, for my Mom and Dad when I was growing up? You know back in the grey ages in the 1950s and 1960s.

I don’t think so because the world, society moved at a slower pace then and there just weren’t as many “things” happening, so not so much coming at you.

Well, I’ve had way too much going on – a lot of it bad, some of it good, but it needs to be sorted so it’s not all happening at once.

First, the bad – only a short list or we’d be here until doomsday.

My health – this summer I’ve had to deal with sinus/gland infections (still traces but I see improvement with the third natural remedy I’m taking), being stung by a wasp and getting a localized allergic reaction. I’m now on wasp alert and when I killed one the other day I felt a lot of relief, felt the situation had evened out (I know, probably not the actual wasp that stung me), and getting injured from a fall caused by some careless dingbat leaving a picture hanging wire outside. Somebody got cursed then.

Consumer stuff – this is an endless list but I’m only going to focus on travel. The business with VIA rail delay because of US/Canada border problems when I was returning home from Grimsby earlier this month. Now, a much bigger issue is happening locally – Toronto Transit in its “wisdom” is upgrading/renovating two consecutive subway stations at the same time, including closing them to buses and bus platforms and moving the bus boarding a few blocks away in one case. I will enlarge on this one in a future post. Suffice to say I’m composing a letter to the CEO of Toronto Transit about that.

Too much in my life personal and writing going on at the same time.  And much of it not asked for, not expected.

That’s enough complaining for now. So, what am I doing?

First of all I am focusing on the most important to me each month, each week, each day. The rest can go to hell or limbo – for now. I will only take on so much at a time and let others know. If they don’t like it, too bad. My health issues this past summer have taught me that. I have also started to say “no” to things, even if I’ve already signed up for them. Case in point. Signed up for an entrepreneur seminar all day later this month. No cost. But when reason finally prevailed, I realized it starts too early in the morning for me to get out. No, not get up, get out. Some of my health issues are worse in the morning so I can’t get out of here until after 10 a.m. at the earliest. So health first. I’m not attending this seminar.

House and property work (excluding gardening) – I have made a list of who does what and that includes the two handymen. And I ride herd on either of them to get them here to do the job. Also hinging on the when for the main handyman is when I book a furnace cleaning, so the two don’t happen the same day. See what I mean by too much going on at once? I’m also following my cousin Ron’s advice about housework/housecleaning, i.e., lower my standards about what I do and do less. So just basics weekly on weekends – laundry, vacuuming and cleaning kitchen counter, sink and stovetop. Dusting only every four to six weeks and cleaning the bathroom – maybe every two to three weeks. Sorting stuff out – winter project. We are still in fall.

Have also made a gardening – fall cleanup list and am going through it now – this one is a pleasure. Also connected to this is preparing food for the winter and that is not going well – time problems again. I want to dry some of the oregano that’s in the garden and try to dry some apples and bananas. I’ve at least bought the dehydrator (used to have one until it died a few years ago). For fresh vegetables and fruit for the freezer – so far a few corn-on-the cobs I bought at a farmer’s market, plus local wild blueberries purchased from a greengrocers, and the black raspberries and rhubarb from my garden. Still need beans for sure. Problem? Finding time to get to a farmer’s market including when I can actually prepare the vegetables right after purchase. That’s being sorted out after….

I sort out my writing and book promo and speaking engagements. Too many too close together although I’m not complaining about doing well selling  books at Word on the Street on Sunday. But it’s the upcoming stuff – two big ones. Now I plan to focus on one per month – for October my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary celebration/presentations. The other one I’m involved with doesn’t happen until the end of November, so my participation in organizing my group’s part (not EEWG) will not start until November 1. I also have to use my timer more – sometimes when a lot of email needs answering (not today – so far) I set the timer and when it rings I only finish the current email. Then there’s my third Beyond mystery book, which I’m not spending enough time writing. That is changing this week.

Some help from God would be appreciated.

To pull it all together I’m doing an update on the A, B, C, and D charts I use. Each has headings like “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do.” That one ties with “Want to Do/Have to Do” as my favourites.

My mother would be proud. She was very organized.

I’d like some comments on how you cope with time management (outside of shooting the clock).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Balance, Gardening, God, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Writing

Only Child on end of summer

Garden front of house

Tomorrow Sept. 23 is the first day of fall. So today is the last day of summer and winter is getting closer and closer. For someone like me who hates winter, that means I need to focus on something positive.

Every year about this time I start preparing for the big winter hibernate. No, I don’t go underground like the bears (although sometimes I wish I did); however, there are other things I do before I wind down somewhat – at least in how often I go outdoors, and softening the negative vision I see when I look out the window in winter – like snow, ice, dead brown trees and dead brown plants. I do not get anything positive from winter scenes and neither like nor participate in winter sports.

So, I focus on the preparation. I make lists of fall cleanup/fix-up repairs inside and outside and gardening cleanup, actual doing down some veggies and fruits (some from my garden and some from the farmers’ markets), and my list of and buying of grocery items – big items like toilet paper I really don’t want to cart home in the snow and other winter weather. Food items – yes, some canned, but many in bottles and dried – again so I have them here in case of bad winter weather. For October and November I add a bit more to my weekly grocery budget so I can gradually get all these supplies home (yes, batteries and the like included). No car, so have to do it gradually anyway.  And who will shovel the four-letter bad word for winter – snow.

My house and garden list has a column called “Who?” as in “Who will do?” I’ve already contacted my main handyman Mike to set up what he will do and when in early October. My friend across the street, Al, has given me a battery-operated tree trimmer and said he would trim the overgrown yews this time so in future I can keep up with it regularly (he said to remind him, so I have to do that). The fellow who cleans out the eaves troughs – mostly from all the black walnut leaves and branches from the trees next door (branches hang over into my patio but they give me summer shade) has already done one cleaning. There will probably be two more before mid-November.

At least the squirrels will disappear – as long as it’s not in my attic or anywhere on my property. So far they have made a mess with their bad “table manners” chewing on the walnuts – ruined the colour of the two patio chairs and dug up potted plants. One of my favourite phrases lately is “roadkill.”

So, on this last day of summer I am posting a couple of photos from my garden.

Then I have some last minute prep for a Memoir writing workshop – Writing Your Memoir from Pictures I’m teaching this evening at the Brentwood Library branch in the west end of Toronto.  It is free, although I do get paid to teach it.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

Roses in bloom late spring

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child's front garden

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child’s front garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Gardening, Grocery Shopping, Home and Garden, Lists, Memoir writing, Only child, Shopping, Snow Removal, Weather

Only Child has a ton of problems

Only child ponders too many problems

Only child ponders too many problems

Just got back last night from holidays visiting my cousins in various places in southern Ontario. Visit was relaxing and enjoyable but trouble began when trying to get home.

I like travelling by train. It is in my blood as my late father worked for the railway as a time-keeper. Since he died, railway travel has changed in many ways including the company created to run rail passenger service in Canada. VIA rail has not been exactly good to me.

When I reserved my “tickets” by phone they emailed me the boarding passes and a link to subscribe to their alert system for updates to my email. I don’t have a cell phone, so text wouldn’t work for me.

No problems on the train going to Waterloo, but the return trip from Grimsby turned into another nightmare (I have had issues coming home by train before in other years). I got my alert about half an hour before train time. The alert said train was arriving in Grimsby on time. So I shut down my laptop.

At the station my cousin who drove me there and I waited and waited for ages. There was no wi-fi in the area – she checked with her smart phone. So no point turning on my laptop and checking my email. She phoned her husband and had him check it out. He texted her back with a message that he had signed her up for the VIA text alert for this train (coming all the way from New York City early yesterday morning). She got two alerts of late times for it to arrive in Grimsby and before there in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

It finally arrived one hour and 15 minutes late. I was so upset that I fell at the top of the narrow metal stairs where you board the train. True, I had bags and my laptop in its padded case (well, I was travelling) but the VIA employee didn’t help me with the suitcases. They stand at the bottom so it is kind of backwards to take your bag up the stairs. I didn’t hurt myself and it appears all my belongings were okay.

But I was very angry and I screamed, but said “I don’t need medical aid – this train has been delayed enough.”

Then someone helped me carrying my bags to an empty seat.

Once settled and the steward came to check my boarding pass, I asked what caused the delay. He said something vague about at the US/Canadian border. I clarified that it was the Canadian border police, but he wouldn’t say what – just a vague answer that it can depend on the official at the border. He did say (in answer to my question) that it didn’t happen often.

The young woman across the aisle had heard all this and she came over. She said she got on at St. Catharines, Ontario (stop before me), the station there was closed and there was just a robotic announcement that there was a delay but no time given. The Grimsby station is just one of those tiny enclosed shelters that seats a dozen or so people, often not even open. It looks like a pop-up retail place.

The young lady went back to talk to the steward. She returned and told me there was a problem at the border – one family when talking to the border police (who come on the train) said they couldn’t find the husband on the train. There was a bit of a language problem (obviously not French as VIA rail employees are bilingual English/French – Canada’s two official language). Apparently the “missing fellow” had gone to another coach and had been processed by the border police okay. Finally the border police found him – we figured by taking a family member through all the cars until they found them.

The young lady and I agreed that the whole family causing the problem, in particular the man, should have been tossed out of the train and not allowed to stay in Canada for causing all those problems.

As the train arrived in Toronto (one hour and 15 minutes late), the arrival announcement was made and again (they did this last year too) they gave the farthest away place to get a taxi. VIA still doesn’t know that taxis line up right outside the west front door of Union Station.

VIA didn’t cause the problem; but they don’t handle all their notifications so passengers can find out.

Heads are going to roll here – when I have time to do something about it – at the very least send a complaint about VIA rail procedure – notifications and closed stations in particular.

But I have another problem – when I turned on my laptop and desktop computers this morning the Internet wasn’t connecting and then it came and went. Could get into my email program on both computers, though – so far. Called Bell Canada (my ISP) and they did some checking at their end. They think it is a cable at my end and are sending a technician who is supposed to be here today between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. He better show up and fix it. I have work to do and some of it requires being online and some requires phone calls which I had planned to do this morning. I also have to run errands to get some groceries.

I think that God might have it in for me – he didn’t cause any of these problems – but he didn’t listen to me when I asked that everything be working right with the train service home and my Internet service. At least I got home okay – finally. Now God has to make sure this Internet Cable problem get fixed pronto today without complications and it must stay fixed.

All these unwanted problems raise my stress level which affects my precarious physical health.

My garden is still lovely, though.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Alphabet list, Anger, Anxiety, God, Holiday Travel, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Railways, Stress, Train Stations, VIA Rail

Only Child looks back at going back to school

Only Child, age 14 in high school uniform

Only Child, age 14, in high school uniform

Back in the gray ages, each September was different when I returned to school. I felt different, depending on the circumstances. Looking back, the excitement and more positive outlook was definitely before I turned teen. I remember the excitement of buying new pencils and exercise books (I did say “gray ages” so before computers) and anticipated learning new things. The smell of the pencils and paper, new books, reading, even Math, and especially playing baseball with the other girls – my age and older, made me feel good.

Of course, it wasn’t all good. I was bullied in school – first by my so-called best friend and also a nun  in grade 2 and grade 8.

When I started high school, the first day of school and the “anticipation” hit high on the dread and scary scale.

High school grade 9 actually started a few weeks before as Mom and I visited the school (a Catholic one in Toronto) to buy my uniform. This outfit was enough to send you screaming in the street with its dark blue pleated tunic, long-sleeved white blouses, black oxford shoes and (wait for it) a choice of seemed nylon stockings or black leotards – old lady shoes and stockings we called them. However, I didn’t run screaming anywhere because I was just getting over a summer of being sick with the croup.

Great way to start high school? The next high school years’ start weren’t much better. On the first day of any high school year at the Catholic School we were herded into the auditorium to find out our home room and our schedules. For grade 10, some of us found out we couldn’t take the typing class we signed up for but had to take another year of sewing and cooking – both of which I could learn from my mom, thank you very much. It didn’t help that the new school addition wasn’t finished and I got stuck in a portable for the first time. In winter the ink froze in the ink wells (gray ages, remember?) and we had to put our boots, hats, coats back on and trail back to the main school and patrol through the halls looking for an empty classroom – usually the cafeteria for religion class. Was there some connection between food and religion?

As kids and teens traipse back to school today, many are filled with anxiety. Life is more complex now with all the technology, cyber bullying and the peer and other pressure to grow up way too fast – just to list a few things. But the interesting thing that psychologists haves found is that some people long out of school still experience the first day anxiety as adults and some don’t even know this is it. Psychologists equate it with the end of the summer holidays and coming back from vacation and getting back to school or work. The days are getting shorter and the weather cooler with winter now closer and that can affect some too, like a prelude to the winter’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD.)

I get the weather one. Near the end of August and particularly Labour Day, I am saddened that there isn’t much more of summer left. Sure, we still get warm days in September (heat wave right now in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and officially by the calendar summer doesn’t end until Sept. 21. And I do like the early part of fall. But once the cold arrives – once November arrives and we go back to standard time – it is all downhill from there until sometime in April. I hate winter with a passion – especially after the horrid last two winters – in particular the ice storm and the resulting power outage in December 2013 right before Christmas.

When September rolls around I keep wishing we could go back to July 1 and the Canada Day celebrations. So much summer promise of fun, hot weather, gardening, beaches, holidays, and somewhat taking it easy.  So, I hang onto what is left and garden as long as I can, bringing potted plants inside. Of course they won’t last all winter because the sun doesn’t appear that often or that long in winter.

Read the story “No more pencils, no more books? Fall blahs still hit adults” athttp://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-star/20150906/281505044989606/TextView

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anxiety, Back to School, Only child, School, School days, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child finds more solace in Aurora

Main street middle of Aurora looking south

Main street middle of Aurora looking south

So far this summer I have made three trips back to Aurora, Ontario, where I lived from 1975 to 1998. Twice to meet old newspaper buddies from our community newspaper writing days; but also to go to Aurora’s  Doors Open and with my friend Carol to the Farmer’s Market.

This is the small town (now a much larger town) where my ex-husband and I raised our son, Martin, where I kick-started my freelance writing, editing and writing instructing career. Where I became involved with community groups from a noisy ratepayers group to a horticultural society, to an arts and crafts group. And through my writing and the other parts of my life met and made many friends. Some I’ve kept in touch with or re-connected with.

Unfortunately, some of the older ones (i.e. older than me) have died (four I know of) and that’s scary, because it means the next of us in age, including me, are well, next on the dying list.

Death aside, just seeing Aurora – the changes and the sameness was interesting and soul-filling. I still like walking down the main street, which is a lot nicer now with the shops – some the same and many new. I can still walk along the side streets off the main street and see the old houses and their front gardens. But I do not like the big condo that looms right on main street almost right across from a boarded up grocery store (was the IGA-Sobeys chain – and my main grocery store when I lived in Aurora). I’ve heard that another condo is going up there. I kept my back to it when waiting for the big blue VIVA bus to take me back to Finch subway station in north Toronto.

I love zipping up and down Yonge St. between Finch and middle of Aurora on these sleek modern buses – once I learned how to use the machine to buy the tickets. It’s easy – just follow the step-by-step instruction which appear as you go along. And the machines are right by most of the bus stops. Service is much oftener than the old GO buses when I lived in Aurora. Same for the in town buses for Aurora and Newmarket – more often and better routes. These York Region buses also do some of the VIVA routes but make more stops.

It was good to reconnect with old newspaper buddies. I had kept in touch with  a few  –  Bob, Barb and Jim  over the years and one of the others I reconnected with – whom I didn’t really know very well back then in the late 1970s, Sheila, we have connected and phone each other and email sometimes. One of my former editors is ill and in a wheel chair but he and his wife want to join us on the next dinner outing there – sometime in October before winter rears its cold, wet, ugly head.

I also reconnected with one of the librarians at the Aurora library that I used to know. Reccia is sometimes down in Toronto, cat-sitting for her daughter when her daughter is away. Her daughter’s place is close to me, so yesterday I met Reccia for lunch at a cafe near her daughter’s place.

Reccia found me sitting on the park bench outside Aurora Public Library August 15, when I was waiting for Sheila and Rob to pick me up for dinner. It was just after the Doors Open – which gave me the opportunity to see the restored Hillary House in Aurora (doctor’s house it used to be called as there were four succession of doctors, from the mid-1800s. I actually knew the daughter of the last doctor there in the late 1980s and early 1990s  when she was in her late 80s. She has been dead for a few years).

I also got into somewhere I would never get in except for Doors Open – the Masonic Temple. It reminded me of a church – no wonder it was originally a church as I found out from the Mason who gave us the history. Currently, this carpeted place has sky blue velvet armchairs along the outer perimeters, a lectern at the back and three throne chairs on a small elevated platform at the front. Empty space in the middle except for a table with a Christian Bible, the Torah  and other religions’ “bibles.”

Carol and I drove up this past Saturday for the Aurora Farmer’s Market. Quite large and quite a variety – soaps, gluten-free baked goods, fresh produce from the farms, jewellery, etc. Yes, I bought something from each of those categories. Afterwards we drove (well, Carol did the driving) to Goodwood Ontario to Richter’s Herbs and I finally got my sage plant to replace the one killed over the winter, plus more rosemary, basil and some thyme. Afterwards we drove to Newmarket and ate outside at a restaurant overlooking Fairy Lake. By the time we got there, we were eating Lupper (Lunch and Supper).

And I plan to go back for that newspaper get-together dinner in October – on the blue VIVA bus.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Friends, Libraries, Only child, Public Transit