Monthly Archives: May 2016

Remembering Dad for his birthday anniversary June 4

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

Growing up – back in the grey ages of course, I spent some time with my dad doing simple things. He seemed to take on the role of teacher as well as parent. Family members used to say he was proud of his little princess. Yes, that was me. Hard to believe it now as I’ve turned into a motor-mouth opinionated person. There is a back story there but that’s not for today’s post. Today, I want to honour my late father – Albert Louis Joseph Eugene Langevin – because the anniversary of his birthday is this Saturday, June 4.

Dad was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1899. The Langevin family moved to Toronto when Dad was five – or so I’ve been told. Doing research in the Toronto City Might Directories for the early 1900s doesn’t show the Langevin family living anywhere in Toronto until  a few years later. And believe me I have looked in all the earlier directories – bending on my knees and moving four heavy directories at a time to a table on the second floor at the Toronto Reference Library. But some of the family history I didn’t know comes out in these short, simple directory listings. For example, I knew Dad didn’t serve in either World War – too young for the first war and too old for the second. But one of his brothers, Uncle Paul, did serve in the First World War. Considering Paul’s age at the time it wouldn’t surprise me if be lied about his age to get in. That was done back then.  From 1918 Dad worked for the Grand Trunk Railway and then the Canadian National Railway when the latter swallowed up the former. Dad worked in the main Toronto office, then on Front Street and connected to the big Union Station on Toronto’s Front Street. Most of his work life there was as a time-keeper. That might explain his penchant for insisting everyone and everything always be on time – no excuses. But his job gave Mom and I free train rides and that’s how we travelled for our summer holidays – to my Mom’s family farms near Lucknow and Mildmay, Ontario and longer trips to Detroit (more of Mom’s relatives there), Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and Quebec province.

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Dad married my Mom, Julia, when he was 40 in November 1939 and by the time I came along he was 49. He was often mistaken for my grandfather with his then grey, and later white hair. Yes, he spoke French in his earlier years, but lost that ability over the years living in Toronto. It was actually embarrassing when he, Mom and I went for a holiday in Quebec province when I was 14. We got away with English only in Montreal but not in Quebec City. Dad had to find a bilingual cab driver who helped us find a bed and breakfast to stay.

Only Child's late Dad under Mom's rose archway

Only Child’s late Dad under Mom’s rose archway

Mom was the gardener in the family – with me learning the green thumb tricks from her. But Dad had a few up his sleeve. When he mowed the lawn – with a push mower – he also showed me how to do it and let me do a bit. Same for watering the lawn. But when it came to the trees and shrubs in the front and back yard, he could be a bear.

You see, my friends and I used to set up our dolls and their “houses” (turned over doll or small people suitcases) for rooms. We would have kid-sized dishes and then we would go get “food” for our dolls. “Food” wasn’t berries from the garden, but we would pick and pull leaves from the big and small shrubs. Dad caught us at it once and came charging out into the backyard and gave us you know what for doing damage to trees.

Dad also taught me to ride a bicycle – but not until I was almost 10. I would sit on this 28 inch wheel bike with my short legs and feel barely reaching the peddles and feel terrified that I would fall off. But Dad held onto the front handle with one hand and the back of the seat with the other and steered me along the street. That got me some teasing plus from my friend the Bully. But I did learn to ride the bike on my own, albeit just on the immediate neighbourhood streets which had little traffic. My favourite place to ride a bike was on country roads by my cousins near Lucknow, Ontario. I would ride one of the boy’s bikes or one of the girl’s bikes – depends on whom I was riding with. The terrain might have been tough (gravel roads, not paved) but the only traffic – if any – was the odd car and tractor.

Dad also was very protective, perhaps over-protective as shown by his teaching methods. But I still loved him.

But, when he got cancer in his brain when I was 12, things changed so much. I found myself distancing myself from him. In hindsight I think it was a protective measure for when he was gone. Mom and I knew that the cancer would eventually kill him and it did when I was 16. He was 66 when he died.

I still miss you Dad.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child with her parents at grandpa's farm near Mildmay, Ontario

Only Child with her parents at grandpa’s farm near Mildmay, Ontario. Sharon is holding one of her many dolls

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Albert Langevin, Canadian National Railway, cancer, Gardening, Mom and Dad, Only child, Toronto, Train travel

Gardening for health and pleasure

Spring in Only Child's front garden

Spring in Only Child’s front garden

Finally some spring going into summer weather and I was out in my garden every day this long Victoria holiday weekend.

My body and soul needed it. For the pain in my body from the complications of a lower digestive disorder to just feeling fed-up at the crap shoved my way in this world, I needed to be in my garden.

But I took it slowly (except when pulling weeds) and a little at a time each day. Overdoing it just wouldn’t do. And so I also ate meals out on the patio, and sat out in my garden, reading the newspapers and more in the latest mystery novel I’m into.

It is so joyful to see all the green (even the weeds – they do have their purpose for me – like pretending each weed I pull is the person or company causing me grief) and the colours of the flowers starting, blooming and even those, like the tulips,which are just finishing up for the season. Right now the coral bells, peonies and irises are getting ready to open out; and coreopsis is in full bloom as are the multiplying blue and white forget-me-nots. The forget-me-nots in the front come back every year somewhat in the same area. But the ones in the backyard garden came lush and plentiful for the first year. They came under the fence from next door. Tanya, my friend from there who died of lung cancer in February, planted the forget-me-nots last spring in her garden. Their name is very appropriate as every time I go out in my garden I expect to see Tanya out there, saying hi and then the two of us talking together and helping each other in some way. I see these forget-me-nots as her gift to me, a remembrance of our friendship from when she and Alex moved in next door, 10 months after I had moved this neighbourhood,

I still  miss Tanya and feel her spirit when I am in my back garden.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under cancer, Friends, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Health, Only child, Perennials

Empire Life Insurance apologizes and Hudson’s Bay reimburses

The garden is one way I have to heal

The garden is one way I have to heal

Last Friday, I followed through with phoning Empire Life Insurance and got a reasonable person in the call centre. After explaining the situation, she said she would look into it and get back to me Monday after 12 noon when she was back into work. When I said I had a dentist’s appointment that afternoon, we sorted out that I have vm and she could leave a message.

She did a couple better than that. She waited until 6 p.m. yesterday to call to make sure I was back home. And she fixed it. She checked my computer file and said there was a flag on it since 2013 to not send the letter and to automatically up the premium at the beginning of each new fiscal year in August. She explained that the letters are generated (from the computer) automatically and  sent out automatically unless someone follows the flagged info and someone missed doing that this year. She said it was human error and she apologized for the company. She also told me the amount of the increase which starts with the August bill and confirmed that the amount on the quarterly bill I have is the right one to pay by June 1  and to ignore the amount in the letter and the letter itself.

I accepted her apology. So, no repercussions for Empire Life Insurance Company now.

The companies doing something to fix their errors continues. I have mentioned before having problems with my prescription glasses which I bought at Hudson’s Bay Optical in December 2014. Unfortunately their warranty is only for one year – which covered the replacement of one pair of sunglasses last fall because the one frame handle kept falling off and could not be screwed back in – only could be temporarily glued. They still had one more frame like it, so the lenses were switched to those frames.

Last month the same thing happened with the new frame and in I went and had it glued back on with the caveat that new prescription glasses would need to be purchased as these glasses frames were no longer available.

Mother’s Day at the restaurant the frame side fell off again. My son snapped it in. Then two weekends ago, the right lens popped out of the regular prescription glasses. When I went in to have them popped in (this is free), I ordered a new pair of prescription glasses and of course had to pay full price as the warranted expired in December 2015.

The saga continues. Last Saturday the lens again popped out of the regular glasses and in a very bad mood I took public transit to Hudson’s Bay Optical. They didn’t mind popping it in again and did so. I was wearing the sunglasses and so just put the regular glasses back in their case. They did check and said the new sunglasses had left the manufacturers on Thursday and should arrive this week, Tuesday or afterwards. They also said the manufacturer is in the United States, which would explain the long time frame (pun intended).

Does this also explain the poor quality of the glasses? Because I decided to complain to the manager about all this nonsense. By then I was out of the optical department and walking through the cosmetic department. One of the cashiers called the manager and he came down.

We discussed the glasses problem with me making comments about the poor quality of the glasses and I never had this problem with Sears and had only switched to Hudson’s Bay Optical because the Sears store downtown had closed and the mall locations of Sears are too far for me to go on public transit. I also said I had been wearing glasses for 46 years and had never had lenses pop before. I also complained of the one-year warranty Hudson’s Bay policy compared to Sears two-year warranty policy. He said he would see what he could do about that.

Then he decided I should get half the amount back of what I paid for the sunglasses and had the clerk in cosmetics do the transaction.

While we were talking he noticed that the frame on my sunglasses had again become detached. I handed him the offensive glasses and like my son had done, he snapped it back it.

The next morning at home I noticed that the lens for the regular glasses hadn’t been popped in correctly – it was the same as I managed to do to pop it in with one corner not all the way in.

I’m hoping it stays until I go in later this week to pick up the new sunglasses. And I’m not wearing the sunglasses much if at all in case the frame falls off again. I cannot pop it back in.

The glitches/snafus are getting to be too much and they have affected my health. Last Thursday, I dealt with five problems – all sorted out; Friday was calling the insurance company. Yesterday I finally had that filling put in the back bottom tooth, so hope that is now going to be okay

What all this stress, all this having to be my own consumer advocate is doing is making my IBS and the like worse and it is scaring me. I’m making some changes – more exercise as in walking and gardening (neither of which was done from Saturday to yesterday because of the cold weather). Today it is still too cold to do more than collect fresh flowers but I hope to get out for a walk. I am changing my diet slightly, but mainly starting to drink more water as I’m sure I’m dehydrated. Have also done some more research on the Internet and will see a nutritionist at the Health Planet for suggestions on supplements to help.

And do some meditation regularly and other stress reduction things. Plus get more sleep. Eliminate some stuff from my life and postpone some.

All this may be very well. But God will have to do his part, i.e. stop sending me so many problems in all areas to deal with. And send me some more money to ease the financial burden. The latter is starting to happen. But the first part has to happen or all the lifestyle changes in the world may not be enough. I don’t have the good fortune to have a partner to help with things so the burden of all falls on me. Lessening it would be very helpful.

That’s my take anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Consumer action, Digestive disorder, finances, Gardening health benefits, God, Healing through gardening, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Life Insurance, Meditation, Older Women living alone and health, Pain, Worrying

Only Child declares war on Empire Life Insurance

Only child prepares to battle more human screwups

Only child prepares to battle more human screwups

Mother’s Day was good. My son Martin and his girlfriend Juni took me out for brunch and afterwards he came with me back to my house to do a few odd jobs and talk computer and other stuff with me. He removed the cover from the air-conditioner (the jury is out if and when the a/c will be used this year with the cold weather still) and put in the heavy top part of the patio umbrella. He didn’t have to hammer the nails back into the patio table as the arborist did come through and fix their damage. (See my added comment from last week’s post). Martin also helped me save and include old newspaper photos into Power Point (from the Toronto dailies online through the Toronto Public Library research connections). These are  for the memoir writing course I’m teaching next month.

I walked with him to the bus stop and after he boarded the bus I went to the nearby Home Depot to buy some bone meal. Because the weather included sporadic short showers I didn’t do any gardening and accepted that. Spent time reading newspapers and a book. Okay will all that.

Then yesterday – Monday – arrived and all the shit that brought. Again due to other people’s bad judgement/stupidity. Sheesh! I can get into enough trouble on my own without all this outside stuff.

First I got through five (yes, five) issues – some health-related but most connected to snafus with the house, city services and a utility. So, I phoned the dentist’s office to book an appointment but couldn’t get one until next Monday, did follow-up phone calls on the windows manufacturer coming to fix a problem with a window (under warranty but appointment has been postponed several times partly because of weather and partly they only will come when their techs are in the area), the city for follow-up on my complaints about garbage not being picked up two weeks ago – only one on the block, Rogers for a falling-down cable outside in the back, and my house insurance company for something else (this one was not a screw-up – I just didn’t understand the info mailed to me).

The other item in the mail is one of the big problems now.

Empire Life Insurance where I have my life insurance – they picked up my policy from a company they absorbed a few years back – are up to their old tricks. In a nutshell, they increase your premiums annually if you are a senior and don’t have any extra saved in your premium fund. So, they send a threatening letter (worded politely) if you don’t send X number of dollars – basically one quarterly premium payment increased – they will cancel your policy.

Is this right? Sounds like they are taking advantage of us seniors.

They have done this before and I have waged war and called them on it. Two years ago, after several angry phone calls to their call centre, I was connected to someone who could do something. We talked and she said that she would arrange it that I would no longer get these letters and that the increase would automatically be applied. She followed up with a letter.

Last year, thats is what happened. This year? Empire Life Insurance is back to their old tricks. I have the threatening letter now, when the fiscal year for the premiums isn’t until August. I have the current May bill to pay (with 30 days grace – I’m waiting for my government pension later this month or the deposit from the new editing client after the Victoria Day weekend when she is back from holidays – then I can pay).

So I am on the warpath again. I will collect all my information from the last time and phone to try to get it straightened out – AGAIN. I am also going to try to sic CARP (I’m a member) on them. Two years ago I tried the Insurance Bureau of Canada complaint department but they weren’t helpful. If this isn’t solved I will have to cancel my policy and have no life insurance unless I can find something else suitable that I can afford (I’ll ask CARP) so my son can pay my funeral costs and debts without using his own funds. Life Insurance is paid out before any will is processed.

Empire Life Insurance will also get bad PR from me.

You know the old saying about life being a bowl of cherries with the pits. I seem to be living it against my will.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under CARP, Consumer action, Family, finances, Health Seniors, Life Insurance, Only child, Problems, Worrying

Only Child says beware the silver lining

How I may have to view my garden - standing up on the patio

How I may have to view my garden and eating outside – standing up on the patio

Silver linings are used as something to look for in times of trouble. For me, it seems to be a weird, perhaps perverse variation. When a silver lining event happens, always an underlying troubling event or events (to put it nicely) connected to it happens. And 95 per cent of the time the bad event comes from out there. So no control at my end.

Here are a couple of recent examples.

You probably gathered from recent postings that I am in dire financial straits – this month especially because all my regular bills are showing up to be paid. But if I can stick to my strict budget, June is supposed to be much better because – drum roll for silver lining events – I have three writing, editing and/or teaching writing gigs coming up. The first one is for a client I already have. He informed me last week we could meet to get going on what he wants me to do (writing and editing) the week of May 24. A few months ago he paid me a retainer (long gone on paying bills), so I can’t exactly ask for more money until I work through this retainer.

Starting June 6 I am contracted to teach a four-session (every Monday afternoon) Memoir Writing gig at the North York Central Library branch in Toronto.

And this Friday I meet with a potential editing client for a possible manuscript evaluation gig – but it won’t start for two weeks until after she returns from holidays.

So, while June looks good (I also don’t have to pay a property tax bill in June), May is turning into the month from wherever.

The opposite to the silver lining under all this good fortune is something I never expected to happen. I had done my homework and saved enough money over the previous months to get some necessary tree pruning done. Job done very well and so I paid. Way after  the guys left (and I had another set-back that sidetracked me here. Coming to that shortly). ‘Without my permission and without even telling me, they had moved my patio table a metre and a half or so on the patio. This was supposedly so they could get the ladder up against the wall to go up to do some trimming of the walnut trees from the neighbour’s which were hanging over my roof. It was not necessary for them to move the patio table – the fellow who cleans my eavestrough doesn’t and he gets the ladder in there behind the patio table and to the right of it. The arborists could have done the latter. They also did not put the patio table back to where it belonged. I don’t usually allow it to be moved because it has a hole in the top to match up with the hole in the cement so I can put in the umbrella. I even waited to do this because I knew the umbrella would be in their way.

So what’s the thanks I get? When moving the patio table, nails on both ends joining the seats to the rest of the picnic table, came out. I phoned and called them on it and got “well, it was okay when we moved it.” I don’t think so. As soon as I lifted the table to try to move it back, I could tell something was loose.  The fellow said they would swing by and check on it (and hopefully hammer the nails back in and move the table back to where it belongs) either late Sunday or late yesterday or possibly today.

No show Sunday or yesterday. So, I left a vm message this morning and while I was polite, this time I mentioned why I don’t usually let the table be moved and could they please clarify if they were coming after 4.30 p.m. today or in the alternative, same time Thursday.

I cannot afford to pay a handyman to fix these arborists’ screw-ups. They did a good job with the trees (and I told them that) and were courteous enough to check with me after they did part of the job (before they were in the backyard) to see if it was to my satisfaction. I already paid them with a cheque and am contemplating putting a hold on it at the bank until they fix the patio table damage. But they do deserve to be paid for the tree trimming. Too bad you can’t hold part of the cheque amount back.

The other big silver lining is last Thursday at the ophthalmologist’s, after the eye exam, I got really good results, better than either of us expected. My good eye – the right one was seeing letters smaller and better. Even the left eye was too. But the best news was the double content prescription eye drops are not only stopping the pressure behind my left eye, but the pressure has gone down from 33 to 18 (whatever the measurement is for that). And the drops aren’t supposed to lower the pressure, just keep it at bay.

The shit in this silver lining? Saturday, besides gardening and having the arborists here, I was doing some laundry. What I didn’t hang out went in the clothes dryer. When transferring towels from washer to dryer I felt something fall from my glasses into the towels.. I figured it was the frame handle (again, it was glued on temporarily last month) from the sunglasses. Being in and out of the house a lot I sometimes keep the sunglasses on.

Uh, uh. It was my regular prescription glasses, the more important ones. One of the lenses had popped out. This had never happened to me before. I managed to get it in most of the way, but it still required a fast trip right then (I did eat lunch first) to the opticians. They popped it in, no charge, but while there I decided to order the new pair of sunglasses before the frame handle fell off again. I had enough left over from what I had saved for the tree trimming, so I picked out the glasses; the optician measured for them, and put the order in. The warranty for the original sunglasses  was only a year so is gone. I paid cash.

Then I went home and found the patio table situation when I went out back to do some garden clearing.

There are many more crappy incidents in the silver lining, but these are the two biggest ones – all unexpected. Before all this I had already cancelled me going to two events that require a fee and also postponed another event until next month.

What do I do now? Stop eating, or at least buying food, the middle of the month?

So, when people thinkI bring this stuff on and/or I create it – not true. Most of the shit coming my way; most of the things going wrong, I don’t cause them. And no I’m not going into the God stuff here, I’m saying that a lot of it is other people’s mistakes.

Is it something in the air or the water that makes people so stupid? Or are they just naturally careless?

Sheesh!

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes (and yells a lot lately)

 

 

 

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Filed under Arborists, finances, Good and Bad Luck, Home and Garden, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Silver Lining, Snafus