Monthly Archives: August 2016

Only Child admonishes cyclists who ride the sidewalks

thumb_bicycleEarlier this summer I was walking on the sidewalk across the Woodbine Bridge. Traffic going by on the road was noisy and my left ear doesn’t hear as well as it used to. I thought I heard a faint bell but wasn’t sure. Then someone spoke from behind. A made adult cyclist was behind me and he demanded to pass by me. I told him I don’t hear too well, but I was also ticked off at his sense of entitlement – illegal as it turns out. Try as I might I could not convince him that riding on the sidewalk is illegal in Ontario. He kept saying it was and rode off.

So many things I could have said to him if my mind wasn’t on hold from shock. Besides it being illegal, that is. I could and should have told him the kicker – i.e., why is the City of Toronto adding bicycle lanes on the road and not the sidewalk if it isn’t illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk? The other point is there is a notice on this sidewalk at the end to “walk your bikes.”

When I arrived at my destination – Shoppers Drug Mart – I saw a police cruiser in the parking lot and stopped them to just verify that is is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. In my upset I was even wondering if I had it right.

I did. After one of the officers verified I meant an adult on a bike, he said it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk but it is hard to catch those who break the law here.

As a former cyclist back when I was a kid and in my mid-twenties, I never rode on the sidewalk. Just looking at the sidewalk in where I grew up in Toronto made me worry I wouldn’t even be abler to keep the bike on the sidewalk. My dad taught me to ride my bike, albeit a bit late (I was nine and a half) but he always had me ride on the road in our neighbourhood – not busy with traffic right there.

My favourite place to ride a bike was on country roads – the gravel ones where the only vehicles you might encounter were the occasional car or tractor. I would ride with my cousins near their farm and it would depend on who I rode with which bicycle I used. If I rode with the girls, I borrowed one of the guys bikes – and vice-versa.

In the mid-70s, when my then husband and I moved to Aurora, Ontario, we used to ride our bikes all around Aurora – on the road and I actually liked riding on the busy road in the lane by the sidewalk. What I hated was having to wait to make a left turn – and this wasn’t even on the busy roads. Trying to balance on the bike while waiting wasn’t exactly my favourite position.

After our son was born, I lost interest in bicycle riding.

But not the law. So adult cyclists who ride their bikes on the sidewalk, look out if you are near me. Now if I can find my whistle I might bring that along and blow that at these cyclists who think they are entitled to ride wherever they please. It isn’t safe. Many seniors have much worse hearing than me and may not be able to walk as well as I usually can.

And what about mothers pushing baby carriages (despite my opinions on them blocking the aisle on buses) and worse, young kids with our without a parent walking along the sidewalk and some jerk adult on a bike comes up behind them and scares them ringing the bike bell or if no bell, using his voice (and the men are more likely to ride the sidewalks than the women – at least what I’ve seen so far). Or no warning and…

Comments on this please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

2 Comments

Filed under Cyclists and Entitlement, Only child

Only Child loves the B bugs

Butterfly on Only Child's cap

Butterfly on Only Child’s cap

I love bugs, insects and the like whose first letter is a “b.” So that includes bees and butterflies. As Wikipedia states about the latter:

“Butterflies are insects in the clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera, which also includes moths. Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.”

Last week I saw thousands of butterflies up close when on holidays in southwestern Ontario. My cousin Anne took me to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, Ontario. The actual conservatory itself runs from April to October and is an amazing and beautiful butterfly and moth sanctuary. There are also birds such as dove and quail peaking out from the many plants and shrubs. You can see butterflies in their pre-stages of larvae; ugly beetles which are not butterflies, and get the grand tour from knowledgeable staff.

But the best part is walking around in the conservatory and just letting whatever will happen do so. Butterflies land on your hands and for some reason my beige cap was a big attraction. Anne took the photo above. I also took some photos – obviously not of butterflies landing on me – I am not ambedexterious.

There are also two rooms outside of the conservatory which have photos of butterflies with information posted near them, a gift shop and a cafe.

I think I got interested in butterflies 30 or so years ago when I lived in Aurora and went to an  art and craft shop which held monthly openings for its current exhibiting artists. Then I would write a story about it for the local newspaper. One artist had captured butterflies in an artistic arrangement. While I prefer to let butterflies be free or be set free, the arrangements were beautiful.

Then in 2003 I interviewed a fellow Ken McGrath who raised butterflies in his apartment and then in a rented room. It was his own business and he would mail them out to clients who wanted the butterflies to set them free at weddings, memorial services and the like. My very short story on Ken was published in Toronto Life magazine. Four years later when I interviewed Ken again for another magazine story, he had acquired a business partner and expanded his business – so I interviewed  her as well. That story, a longer one, was published in the now defunct Centre of the City magazine. After that Ken moved his butterfly business to rural Ontario. Today he is an artist who has traded butterflies for spider webs, which he uses in his pendants. He is now nicknamed Spider Web Wrangler. More info on Ken at the Pazan Gallery site where his creations have appeared.

Meantime, when out in my garden I look for butterflies landing on my ecinaccea, fennel and black-eyed susans. And check out my blog’s garden page here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Gardens, Only child

Only Child says we are at the mercy of bad weather and bad forecasts

black_umbrellaI admit it. I am a Weather Network junkie – both online and on TV. So I see videos of the horrible weather and its havoc worldwide. The number one horror this summer is floods, with its downside of droughts.

No matter what country the videos cover, everyone and everything seems to be drowning. Except in a few places like southern Ontario – so far. Keeping toes crossed that we don’t swing over to the opposite. Yes, we need the rain, but in these unsettled (to put it mildly) times, rain usually means torrential downpours, severe thunderstorms, flooding and the like. I can count on two thumbs the one day and one night this summer that Toronto had a normal rainfall where each lasted about six or so hours – medium rainfall, steady, no thunder, no lightning, no flooding on the streets. Just what we need.

But except for those rainfalls, that is not what we are getting.

Here in southern Ontario we have drought conditions – not the highest in numbers but getting there. But the gardens seem to be surviving so far. Perennials, for the most part are bigger and better, and the vegetables and fruits are doing well. For the first time in several years I am getting a decent-sized, almost large (for just me) crop of carrots, lettuce, onions and beans with some peas in there for good measure. The black raspberries were numerous and the rhubarb is about the same as other years. So, the turnips aren’t doing well – some plants even died. So, the lawns turned brown. Some lawns (including mine) have started turning green again – without me watering it, although a few small pathways probably got some water when I watered the perennials, shrubs, trees and vegetable and herb garden. I made sure they received the water but at the same time tried not to use too much water.  I know the farmers need more rain although the ones with vegetables and fruit at the farmers`markets seem to be doing okay.

But do we really want the opposite? And all that could bring? Flooded streets and basements, sometimes to the point we lose our homes and have to swim or take a boat through the flooded streets, or climb to the roof and hope a helicopter will rescue us.

These days you can’t really live anywhere without this fear hovering overhead (literally). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Climate change has a lot to do with it. But, it is also like the lady on that bus in May 2015 said: “God controls the weather.”

So, I try to spend time in my garden – if I’m not weeding or picking beans, or watering the garden, I like to sit out there and read, look around, and dare I say it? just think.

It’s what I think about that has changed as has the weather – a lot of the changes in all areas, not just weather, are not for the better, and it seems to have gotten much worse since we entered the 21st century.

That’s my 10 dollar’s worth anyway.

Well, costs have risen too, although the Canadian dollar is in the toilet.

Sorry, bad connotation – the water element.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Extreme rainfall weather, Extreme Weather, Floods, God, Home and Garden, Rain, Weather

Helping lost people turns into something personal

GO train on the go

GO train on the go

This summer I am making it my business to help people who are having difficulty finding their way around Toronto. I don’t actively seek doing this but when I see someone who appears lost – or if they are asking for help getting around – I do my best to help them. Some days when I’m out nothing happens; some days there are a couple of instances. But last Saturday it got personal as my friend K. from Oakville had to return home by GO train and the situation for boarding was very vague.

K, N and I had spent a day at Harbourfront and N and I walked K back to where she figured she would go to get her GO bus. It was where she had exited.

The long waiting room with windows on one side and entrances to stairwells to some of the platforms on the other side was not very helpful. Neither was the Departure schedule on one of those changing digital boards. All the upcoming GO trains and Go buses were listed, but the boarding platform was not listed until five or 10 minutes before boarding time. Instead, you saw the word “Wait” beside the trains and buses. There were no officials around to ask; no indication where the nearest washroom was, and no seats to sit on.

K has back problems and other medical issues. N has a hip problem and I have a couple of digestive disorders. We would have appreciated at least a place to sit and someone official to ask if we were even in the right place. With this Union Station in construction flux, this latter part isn’t unreasonable. Last time K came to Toronto in the fall, she boarded her GO train at the other end of the large Union Station. So it wasn’t inconceivable that there was another place with platform entrances, particularly as the ones we saw here didn’t go up very far in numbers. The wall maps were useless.

So we waited, fretted and oh, did I forget to mention – no air conditioning so it was hot and humid inside. By continually checking the departure board I figured out that all GO bus platforms were numbered in the 40s. I also figured to get to them, you would go to the end of this long room, through the doors and there would be an indoor walkway to take you across the street to the GO bus terminal. Not for trains, though.

Five minutes before K’s GO train was scheduled to leave (they were running every hour only on the weekend because of construction) a platform number appeared. By that time, there were a number of people huddling around and they all proceeded through that numbered door. K hugged N and me and followed the others through the door to board her GO train.

I was so outraged by this major consumer service flaw, that I filed a complaint with GO online using their complaint form. Besides what I mention here, I also suggested they take a page from VIA rail (also goes through Union station but in the main area), i.e., that they list the platforms for all GO trains and buses departing – all the ones on the screen as they appear. The one word “wait” which they have, should deter people from entering the platform ahead of time in case there is another GO train or bus departing or arriving there before then. VIA does this and it is not unusual if you arrive early for your train when you go to the place to line-up, there is another line-up for an earlier departing train. VIA rail also has updated announcements via loudspeaker. That wasn’t happening a this GO waiting area. So that makes you wonder what blind people do? Maybe GO is in some violation of accessibility laws.

There was a notice in the waiting area and GO online that the platforms would be changing August 10 for construction so I also suggested they implement my suggestions when they do their construction.

If they can’t get their heads around giving good customer service to regular GO riders, they need to remember this is the big tourist season in Toronto and if regular riders (K does take the GO but in her area only, not into Toronto usually) get confused, what about tourists?

What do you want to bet that the powers that be at GO Transit all drive cars?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Consumer action, Friends, Getting lost, Helping Others, Only child, Public Transit, Union Station Toronto, VIA Rail

Flash flood rainfalls cause havoc in Toronto

Front of Only Child's House

Front of Only Child’s House

Toronto finally got rain last week and depending where in Toronto you live, that’s when you got it. My son and his girlfriend got the big rainfall on Sunday July 24 overnight. When they woke up Monday  morning they found rain pelting down from their ceiling – on the second floor of the house they live in. There is one floor above them. Their landlord fixed it – it was a pipe going through the ceiling.

My situation is a bit more complicated. While I do believe that God controls the weather and also that climate change has a lot to do with the extreme weather we are getting worldwide, I have an added factor – NIGEL APPLEWAITE – and I don’t mean the Hamilton  football player  who has an “h” in his last name, although it is sometimes misspelled without the “h” . I don’t know this fellow, don’t have a beef with him, so I do not mean him here. I wish this Nigel Applewhaite well.

I am referring  to Nigel Applewaite who supposedly fixed the water getting in my  basement through cracks by waterproofing it on the outside in the spring of 2011. It worked until late spring 2013 when water started coming in again in the laundry room and the rec room. Of course I called Nigel right away. He came over twice but would not take responsibility. He kept saying it could be the drains and to get them checked which I did. The City of Toronto supervisors checked it twice and the drains were fine – no water back up here and no blockages here. Nigel came back and made a half-ass attempt to find the cracks he had missed (He didn’t dig down as far as the weeping tiles like he should have and this “should have” I only found out from other people after the fact). Nigel put the hose on full throttle against one area of the wall and said to leave it for a few hours and he would have to check it like this over all areas. Then he left and never came back.

I wasn’t going to get anything from him that way and because the area is so small, other bigger contractors who do this work can’t get their heavy equipment in – not that I want that to happen with my perennial garden in front. They also don’t dig by hand. And I don’t have the money to pay for this either. Because Nigel is not a BBB member and I don’t have the time or money to sue him, I have made it my business to make sure everybody knows that he does shoddy work and to never hire him to water proof their basements. In particular, if I find out someone is needing their basement waterproofed I tell them “Don’t hire Nigel Applewaite because…” And I tell them my story.

Nigel Applewaite has no online presence – yet. I’m going to make sure he gets one though. People need to be aware of those so-called professionals who mess up any kind of home repairs. It is our homes we are dealing with.

Now, just wait until I go after the very incompetent handyman I had (the one who took three visits to get the sink drain working right) a few years ago;

I also like to praise the repair people who do a good job. So, although I’ve mentioned him by first name only, here is the name of the current fellow (since early 2014) I have hired for electrical, plumbing, painting and other repair jobs)  – Mike Ouillette  – don’t k now if he has an online presence, but he is located in the Toronto, Ontario area. He does good work and his fees are not cheap but not expensive either.

As for the flooding this time round on July 27 evening  – just a bit in the laundry room. But I still had to get two neighbours to help me move the washer, dryer and freezer so I could wipe up what was actually just damp – no puddles, probably partly because I have towels, mats and long foam sticks along the walls in the laundry room and the rec room. Yes, folks, that’s how I “decorate” the floor of my rec room, thanks to NIGEL APPLEWAITE.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

As a P.S. here, I have received some of the money that was owed me as mentioned in last week’s post. Still waiting for more government money and the rest of the client’s fee payment.

Leave a comment

Filed under Consumer action, Extreme rainfall weather, Floods, Leaky Basements, Only child, Rain