Monthly Archives: April 2016

Only Child says focus and it might happen

Only child in doorway to her office

Only child in doorway to her office

Last week I blogged about Karma – what goes around comes around, something I firmly believe in even if I don’t see it. But there is also the belief that if you put it out there, the Universe, God or whomever might deliver.

No, I’m not turning into a believer here, but by accident I discovered a twist to this.

As many of you know I have turned into a very cranky angry person, thanks to all the crap that has been shoved my way and thanks to that, all the areas in my life where I feel cheated. So it has made me push a lot in my complaining. Besides the health area (which I will stay off this time), I have been complaining loud and clear about my financial position, about living below the poverty level. I just did my income taxes for 2015 and that confirms it – even lower income then for 2014 and 2016 was looking even worse, what with the powers that be at Service Ontario cum CPP, cutting back on my monthly CPP income and adding insult to injury by deciding to take off all the “extra” in May. Of course, I filed a dispute.

Along with this bad financial situation is the lack of sufficient work coming in for the first part of this year. I am teaching a fiction writing workshop at the S. Walter Stewart Library branch later this year in October.

So, I’ve been yelling about these two – financial and lack of work to bring in money – but also putting my invisible money where my mouth is, so to speak. I’ve been pitching both my writing workshops and speaking engagements for my Beyond fiction books to various branches.

Voila.

Late last Friday afternoon I received an email from a librarian at the North York Public Library branch. The writer/editor who usually teaches their four-session Memoir Writing Course in June has had to suddenly cancel (why is her business). So the librarian who looks after programing there emailed me and asked if I would like to teach the course and there would be financial compensation.

He had received my name from another librarian, Janet Nanos (and I don’t mind mentioning her name and you’ll see why in a sec) who is instrumental in my East End Writers’ Group meeting almost monthly at the S. Walter Stewart branch and also for that October fiction writing workshop. Turns out the NYCC librarian and Janet used to work together so he emailed her and she recommended me. And yes, I thanked her.

I have since talked with Val, the NYCC librarian and we have firmed up what I am to teach (pretty much up to me for the content) and he confirmed my fee (same as I get at other library branches per hour). This is for June. The write-up about it will soon go on their website and I’ll post that in future when that happens in case anyone is interested in taking this course. It is free to library patrons – the only catch being you can’t have taken another version of the course previously at that library branch.

So, sometimes putting it out there will bring in some help. Sometimes you just have to yell and complain a lot to be heard.

Now, I just have to figure out how to afford to get through May with no extra income and less CPP. I have gardening and yard supplies to get, trees to be trimmed, and one of my handyman to be here to do some tasks.

Plus I have a horrendous water bill – over $230. and a lot of that has to do with the City not billing often enough. Last bill was in December and this one that just came is due May 9. Plus there is a property tax bill, etc. etc. etc.

Looks like a few health-related issues may have to be put on hold.

But all that is for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under finances, God, Home and Garden, Librarians, Libraries, Memoir writing, Memoir writing course, Only child, Poverty

Only Child looks at Karma

Only child ponders ins and outs of Karma

Only child ponders ins and outs of Karma

Karma is defined “as the force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person” (Merriam-Webster online). That is taken in its broadest general sense. To break it down, if someone hurts someone else, the person doing the hurting will get their “just desserts” in the future. Or as some people (including me) believe – what goes around comes around, good or bad.

Problem with that is we usually don’t know what happens to someone who does us wrong or someone who helps us. This non-disclosure makes me wonder just how much Karma is taking place.

I do have a couple of concrete examples in my life of both good and bad.

First, leaving the good for last, here is the bad.

A few decades ago, when I worked in editorial for a legal publishing company in Aurora, one of the employees in finance, offered to drive me to work in the morning. It was her idea – I never asked her to do this – and as she lived near me and I was on her way there, I said, “yes,” gratefully.

She had a young child to drop off at daycare on the way – fine with me, even when she was a bit late arriving to pick me up. I knew very well that small children can slow you down. What wasn’t fine with me is this bitch (you will see why I call her this in a sec), suddenly blamed me for her being late – i.e., she said I was always late and never ready when she arrived to pick me up. I admit to a couple of times rushing out with the garbage as she arrived, but 98 per cent of the time I was ready.

Not only that – when she blamed me she said she could no longer pick me up and drive me to work. No warning, no giving me to the rest of the week at least. It was her prerogative to decide not to pick me up any more – but don’t blame me for her delay problems.

So, I started taking the infrequently running (then) Aurora Transit bus to work.

Karma arrived in a month or so when the bitch broke her ankle and couldn’t drive herself to work. She was then in my position – having to get someone else at work living near her to drive her (and the kid to daycare) to and from work. Perfect example of what goes around comes around. And I had nothing to do with making it happen.

The good Karma is with my son and me. When he was growing up I raised him quite differently than my mom and dad raised me. This is not a blame  on my parents thing here. Mom and Dad were elderly parents (Mom was 41 when I was born – not old by today’s standards) and Dad was 49). So they were overprotective, particularly Dad and Mom was strict. But the big blame, if you wish to call it that, here is the Catholic Church and how it infiltrated our lives in the 1950s and early 1960s. You couldn’t go to the bathroom without wondering if it was wrong and if you were committing a mortal or venial sin.

So, among other things, I treated my son as an individual. Although he went to Catholic schools (the property taxes went there and my ex who helped raise our son didn’t want to have him to got regular public schools), we didn’t do the weekly Sunday Mass thing. The Catholic Church then wasn’t so strict, which helped some. Instead of being strict with my son, especially as he got older –  age 10 on and into his teens, I used the actions result in consequences approach, something I learned from a friend. Sometimes I decided on the consequences, but I kept it reasonable and connected to what he did. One example was when he and some of his friends got into the liquor cabinet at one of the friend’s homes. He told me about it afterwards. At the time he was playing in a band, so I decided a complete grounding was not the right thing to do. Martin and I discussed all this including why you don’t drink at age 15 and 16. True, I told him he was riding a bike, not driving a car, but he could still have an accident. So, I said he was grounded from anything but school and band practices and gigs for two weeks.

One of my co-workers at school who got wind of this via a mutual friend whose daughter was one of the group into the liquor cabinet thought this was too lenient.

I didn’t. The incident didn’t have anything to do with my son’s band practice/gigs, so why punish the whole band for what he did?

That’s just one example. I also took him on trips via train and airplane in southern Ontario and to the east and west coast of Canada. Those were the days when I had money and had a good job.

And as a sidebar – my ex, who as I said helped raise our son – wasn’t strict either. He actually got our son involved in extra-curricular activities – but discussed them with me –  and also treated our son as an individual. You might say we made lousy spouses, but were in sinc with raising our son.

Today, the tables are turned and my son helps me a lot. He takes me out for dinner, paid for my new living room couch (his idea – the old one was very badly damaged, including some damage from the ex-boarder’s bloody cat), picks ups heavy stuff I need (which I pay him back for), such as a vacuum cleaner and salt for winter ice on the sidewalk and driveway. He also has bought me some electronic equipment such as a Kobo, a new scanner and a digital camera, plus helps me with computers – getting leased ones, setting them up, and helping with computer snafus.

It’s not only that. We have turned into friends and tell each other stuff. We have met each other’s friends, including Martin’s partner, Juni, and my grade school and high school friend, Margaret.  He is concerned about my health issues and so am I about his.

So, that’s an ongoing Karma for a longtime situation raising my son.

It’s just all the other crap happening where I don’t have to do some consumer advocacy stuff, that I would like to know that Karma is working. Happenings such as when a car nearly runs me down on my green light or a cyclist riding on the sidewalk instead of the road. And when a stupid bitch hit me in a parking lot and took off. What happened with them? Did Karma work? Did they get their just desserts?

Ditto for the good things, such as anyone on a bus, streetcar or subway who gives up their seat so I can sit down. Or somebody who chases after me down the street with a bag of fruit I had just bought and had unknowingly dropped on the sidewalk when I thought I was dropping it in my bag and hands me the bag, saying “you dropped this”?

Of course I thank them right then. But do they get their good Karma for their good deeds?

It might be nice to know. Because it would certainly raise the little trust I have overall in this world of 2016.

My two dollar’s worth anyway.

What do you think?

Comments please.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Actions Consequences, Believing, Elderly parents, Family, Karma, Life Balance, Mom and Dad, Only child

Only Child stranded by public transit

Only Child and Mom

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child my late mother and I used to travel on Toronto’s public transit (TTC). We t00k buses, streetcars and the subway. It was like an adventure with Mom leading the way. I always felt when travelling with her we were good, and any problems that arose, she could fix them.

I wish Mom had been with me last Thursday when I ventured onto the TTC to an area I’ve only been to a couple of times before. These previous two times I returned home a different way from going there because I had errands to do. This time I wanted to come right home.

In preparation I did a trip planner on the TTC website. I might as well have mapped out a trip to Mars – the angry red planet – for all the good my planning did. And Mars would have been appropriate for some of what I felt when I finally returned home. The problems were caused by stupid bus drivers and even stupider bus schedules on the Woodbine C and D bus lines.

When I boarded the bus near my place I tried to verify with the driver that this Woodbine bus at some point goes all over Hell’s Half Acre in residential land instead of straight up to Lawrence Avenue. Bus driver verified that and told me to get off at Underhill. When I mentioned the trip planner online suggested another street beginning with “C” he had no clue. When the bus was arriving at Cardiff (voice and digital stop announcements are done electronically on Toronto buses), I rushed up to the front and told the driver “that’s the street.” His reply was how complicated it was to get to the stop going west on Lawrence as where I actually saw the bus stopped on Lawrence was going east (it appeared to be going west).

So, I stayed on to Underhill and got off. When I asked about getting on around here to return home he said I could get on at Underhill but it was better to stay on to Victoria Park and transfer there from the Lawrence bus. That was going out of my way and made no sense because it’s the Victoria Park bus line there and why would I want another bus change (and another transfer from the Victoria Park bus) to get home when the Woodbine bus was supposed to take me right home?

I noted tha on the south side of Lawrence the street was called Railside, and boarded the Lawrence East bus to my destination – the Toronto Botanical Gardens library to do some research for a personal essay. After that I walked back to Don Mills Road to the public library to pitch my writing workshops and crime writing talks to the librarian.

Then I walked to the nearest bus stop on the south side of Lawrence just east of Railside. Common sense told me that the Woodbine bus that turned up Underhill when I was going west, would come back that way and turn east on Lawrence. What goes up must come down.

Not exactly. I waited for almost half an hour. I talked to another woman waiting around and she said she thought the Woodbine bus came back down Underhill and turned left onto Lawrence.

Wrong!

Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw a Woodbine bus (C or D – couldn’t make that out on the front from the side) come barrelling down Underhill right across Lawrence and down Railside. It stopped at the stop just below Lawrence. I ran there – but I had  to cover part of a block on both streets and missed.

There was a map of sorts on the post at this Railside stop. Very confusing as it didn’t show where the Woodbine C and a B came back from Underhill and York Mills. A D bus  route was drawn in using broken lines – but only for the Railside portion. Times given for its arrival at “my” stop were only for rush hour and didn’t coincide with when the bus I missed had arrived.

I felt scared and alone. How was I to get home? I couldn’t afford a cab – even if one came by. None did. But several Woodbine C buses came by along Lawrence going west and turning north on Underhill. None of them came back.

The Woodbine D finally did (and not at the scheduled time) and I got on. I asked the driver  where does the C bus gets back to Lawrence.

He said “Cardiff.” The same bloody intersection where the C bus driver when I was going to the TGB library told me not to get off at. If I had, this would not have happened.

This D bus driver wasn’t all that knowledgeable either because when I asked him how often the D bus ran he said “I don’t know.”

And this D bus did get me home but not before going over to Victoria Park Ave. – which is not on the route going the other way. So I panicked and charged up to the front of the bus to make sure the bus was going to my stop. Now it was clear what the bus driver going had meant by taking the Lawrence bus back to Victoria Park. I have also noticed on previous Woodbine bus rides from the south end to my place that sometimes the bus drivers take 20 minute breaks at the south end. From what I can figure out, it’s not all their fault. It’s the wonky schedule.

Of course I put in an online complaint to the TTC, including the Woodbine bus schedules need overhauling so that routes going and coming travel the same way (well in reverse order to each other of course) to avoid confusion. Only exception would be extra rush-hour service (like the Railside diversion). And I suggested they fix the bus time schedules and the map signs at the stops.

Now if my mother had been there….

I’ll write in a future post about my experience at the Toronto Botanical Gardens library. Only good thing happening last Thursday.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mother, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit

Only Child does more consumer advocacy

Only child ready to confront companies who mess up life her way

Only child ready to confront companies who mess up

Businesses, government and utilities screwing up keep me on my toes. I like to pick my battles because you can’t deal with everything. However, lately, the screw-ups have been coming too fast and furious and I’ve had to take action for my own benefit.

Here’s the scoop on one of them.

The company?  Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. Formerly Swiss Herbal, but taken over a few years ago by that drug company (Swiss Herbal is a division of Valeant). That should say it all. After the big takeover, many natural supplements (including one that I was taking) disappeared off their roster. When I contacted the company about it, the response was anything but helpful until I pushed.

Last week I had another confrontation with Valeant This time the natural supplement Micro-Lactin which I take to keep the osteo-arthritis in my neck and joint pain in my right hand (and yes, I am right-handed) at bay, seemed to be gone from the usual retail outlets where I purchase it. The Big Carrot had ordered more in March 21 and when I was in their dispensary, it was March 29 – even the clerk there thought that was too long. Healthy Planet had none in and when I followed up to put in a special order the next day (by phone), and they tried to do so, they couldn’t. The nutritionist there called me back and told me there was a problem at Valeant as they were temporarily out of stock and didn’t know when the item would be back in stock. She advised me to find a place that still has some and to stock up.

I did that and one better.

First, I let Mr. Google help here.

A check with the Healthy Planet chain website showed that the product Micro Lactin was “out of stock.” Big sign under the product picture and caption. But when I went to Valeant, nothing about the product being out of stock. Just the product picture and caption. But they even had the nerve to put the company history upfront (under About US)  – back when it wasn’t owned by a drug company and was just Swiss Herbal in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

I was out for blood, so to speak. But first to get my supplements.

Mr. Google helped me out again and I found a pharmacy not far from me that carried it (even with a $10. online coupon – but for in-store purchase only). So I phoned them and the fellow I talked to said they could order it in and it would be in the next day. I told him about the out of stock business but he seemed to think they could get it in. I decided to do a “wait and see.”

Meantime I went after Valeant. After much pressing and getting transferred to their complaint department,I tried to get some answers. The reason it was out of stock was vague -something to do with manufacturers – yeah, pass the buck. I did find out they would have more in stock April 4 and with enough pushing about the pharmacy that was ordering it in – I gave them the pharmacy name Pharma Choice, and she said she would put a rush on the order there. I also launched a formal complaint about no notice on their website about the product being temporarily out of stock and that I had to find this out from going to the Healthy Planet website.

So, complaint went in.

Today, April 4, I checked the company product website. And they have temporarily out of stock posted with the product.

And when I phoned the pharmacy back on the Friday I planned to pick it up, the lady who answered the phone said it was in. I said I’d be down there that day before their closing at 5.30 p.m. but unfortunately with bus problems and the fellow I had previously talked to at the pharmacy giving me a wrong location (don’t they know where they are?) I couldn’t make it on time. But after an apology phone call to them on Saturday and getting correct location, I headed out there yesterday and got my Micro Lactin with the $10. off.

Lesson to be learned.

Businesses etc. need to be more open to customers. Sure, problems can occur with products, but if you don’t let people know right away right upfront, that creates bad business, no goodwill and bad reputation for the company. It also wastes consumers` time.

I will still buy Swiss Micro Lactin – my arthritis needs it.

How do you handle screw-ups with businesses, utilities and government. Let`s get a dialogue going here about this. We can all learn from each other.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Health, Life demands, Only child, Problems