Category Archives: Cousins

Only Child’s win of ABC Blog award official

Only Child won this award. Part of the criteria when winning is to post their logo, so here it is.

One of the criteria for those who receive the ABC award from its creator, Alyson, of the Thought Palette blog (http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/abc-award/) is to nominate other blogs and also to share briefly something about yourself, from A to Z.

I  recently wrote about my blog being nominated for an ABC award in this  post

https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/only-child-abc-blog-award-nominee-on-memoir/ Now that it is official (thank you Alyson for awarding me this and Trisha http://trishadm.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/alphabet-soup-the-abc-award/for nominating me), it is time for me to do the A to Z list of  things which have meaning for me. In line with this blog’s content about writing my memoir, including all the offshoots into health, living the only person syndrome, time management, etc., and of course, my parents, cousins and my son and his partner, here is my short list.

A is for ABC Award (I couldn’t resist) but it is also A for my mother’s middle name “Amelia” and my middle name “Anne,” and for Alison, my son’s partner, and Alyson who gave me this award.

B is for blogging.

C is for Crawford, my last name.

D is for death, in relation to my parents. I still grieve.

E is for empathy with others who are only children – any age.

F is for my family.

G is for good, which despite all the ups and downs, I feel my life is (well 80 per cent anyway).

H is for my health, what is good about it, but maybe for some of the bad as it teaches me lessons and makes me curious to find answers.

I is for inspiration which fuels my imagination.

J is for Joker – a mild word to describe whatever causes the snafus in my life.

K is for Kleenex, something I use a lot, for allergies, for crying when sad, and when really exasperated.

L is for Langevin, my father’s last name and the name I was born with. I still use it, too.

M is for memoir, and also for Martin, my son.

N is for Nancy, an “old” friend from school – grade to high school, whom I reconnected with at a high school reunion almost ten years ago.

O is for ostrich, the way I used to handle problems and sometimes do now, at least as a delaying tactic.

P is for parents – mine – Julia and Albert.

Q is for quiet – something as an only child and now only adult person you can get lots of.

R is for retreat, something the nuns at my grade school and one of the high schools sent us to.

S is for my son, Martin and also my first name, Sharon. My mother once told me she had also thought to call me “Sheila.”

T is for Tim, a childhood friend who stood up for me against The Bully. I reconnected with him 12 years ago.

U is for umbrella – I had a synchronistic, almost psychic experience with an umbrella left in a park and my mother’s spirit in the fall of 2005.

V is for the first letter of the last name of three cousins on my dad’s side of the family. We used to go to their home sometimes for Christmas dinner.

W is for writing. What else for a writer?

X is for xylophone, which as a child I used to play (a very tiny xylophone).

Y is for yellow, the colour of the sun. In my childhood and today I prefer sunny (and warm) days.

Z is for Zoomer, what I am in age and partly in spirit now. My spirit is also with my childhood.

Now, it is my turn to nominate other bloggers for the ABC Award. I have a few in mind and will report in a future blog post once I have done so.

In the meantime, there is a Facebook page for ABC Award blog winners. Check out the comment with my blog post at https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/only-child-abc-blog-award-nominee-on-memoir/ and go to https://www.facebook.com/ABCaward?bookmark_t=page

Cheers.

Sharon Langevin Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under ABC Blog Award, Albert Langevin, Alphabet list, Blog Award, Cousins, Death and Dying, Family and Friends, Health, Lists, Martin Crawford, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Only child, School reunions, Sharon Crawford, Zoomers

Only child experiences unexpected serendipity

Patio oasis in Only Child's backyard still peaceful.

I admit it – I’m a jaded realist whose motto is “seeing is believing.”  This belief took an unexpected turn thanks to a severe wind and thunderstorm that hit Toronto on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t quite a tornado or hurricane, nothing as bad as Hurricane Hazel which stormed into Toronto in the fall of 1954. I remember bits and pieces of that one. It got really dark, wet and windy outside. Mom and I had just made it back from getting our TB tests at one of those mobile testing units parked outside Holy Cross grade school. Our house and garden received no damage because as Mom said, “We live on a hill, not in the valley.”

Last Sunday’s storm, the intensity of which was unexpected, may have had its intentional roots (at least for my property and me) in my Hurricane Hazel experience. I was answering personal e-mail on my desktop computer when I could see the sky in the northwest getting very dark. After a few mild claps of thunder, I thought, “that’s it,” and shut down my computer and turned the power board off. A few minutes later the skies opened and waves of water fell down and the winds shook everything around. I looked out the back window and couldn’t see my umbrella on its stand in the patio table. Then the power went out – for all of two minutes. I was frantically praying (yes, even with my attitudes on religion and God) that all would be well. I checked the basement (several times) and no water got in.

When the storm had died down to a trickle,  in a panic I went out to the back. At first I couldn’t get the gate open – the latch was sticking. After a minute it opened and I charged into the backyard and found my open umbrella, toppled over. It had knocked over my citronella plant and broken a few branches of it. I righted the plant and shoved the umbrella back into its stand. This time I rolled the umbrella down, more to see if it still worked than for any other reason. I did another check of  the basement – floors still dry. And made a mental note to thank the fellow that did the excavation before I again ask him when he is going to fix the picnic table leg he broke off when moving the table. Surprisingly, the five bricks and three remaining legs still held up the picnic table. The only other happenings were my big blue recycling bin rolled over and moved back and a strip of eavestrough liner (to catch falling leaves) had come loose and dangled outside my office window. It is still dangling and can continue to dangle until I get my handyman over to do a number of jobs.

Then I saw and heard what happened elsewhere in Toronto –  power outages for hours, trees down (including next door in the backyard – it fell on the telephone/cable wires cutting off four houses’ service – if they have Bell Canada and not Rogers Cable. I’m not one of those four as the box for my service is up a pole on the far side of the other house next door to me. And then there is Goderich, Ontario which got hit by an F3 Tornado. Goderich resembles a war zone and people are left homeless. This is the down side; this is destruction I can’t comprehend as right or fair…but life is not fair I’ve been told.

I have family just north and northeast of Goderich and I’ve e-mailed one cousin to see if they are all right.

At this point my garden is intact, the trees by the side and back of my house are intact, my house is intact, and I am grateful. Perhaps a smidgeon of my faith and trust in living has been restored. Perhaps I am learning that sometimes when you put it out there, you are listened to, but often in unexpected ways.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Believing, Cities and towns, Cousins, Floods, Goderich, Gratitude, Home and Garden, Life learning, Only child, Prayer, Rain and wind storm, Serendipity, Synchronicities, Tornado, Toronto, Trust, Water

Only child returns from holidays

Only Child's home sweet home and garden from the front.

You know the saying about holidays, “It’s good to get away but it is always nice to come home.” That seems to describe me when I go away for a holiday the last few years. I can make it for about a week and then I get homesick, not for the routine as one of my cousins suggested, but for my garden and house. Somehow seeing the homes and gardens of the many cousins I stayed with, gives me ideas; my mind follows that train of thought and you can get the picture here.

It didn’t used to be like this. When my son was growing up we flew to the east coast and west coast of Canada visiting friends and family. Often we were away for two or three weeks. I don’t recall becoming homesick although I do remember worrying about some fruit I forgot to put in the compost which was left to rot in the fridge. Well, some grapes left in the fridge this time round grew some white mold. But I had my friends next door checking the house and garden, watering plants, bringing in the little print mail I get, so when away I didn’t worry about the house and garden. I just missed them.

However, I needed this holiday away from work and dealing with the myriad of stuff requiring fixing, purging, etc. at my place. Therein is the crux for anyone working from home: sometimes you need to get away from it all wherever you chose as your destination (or in my case, five different destinations). While away I wrote nothing but personal email replies and edited nothing. In fact, I was so out of the writing/editing/loop that one of my Michigan cousins (a retired circuit judge) found a spelling inconsistency in road signs and pointed it out to me. But I took photos of cousins, friends and gardens and showed my garden and previous holiday photos to my cousins and friend, thanks to a memory stick.

Upon my return I went into a house sorting, gardening and then marketing (editing) frenzy, plus sorting out the business email (unlike some people I know, I don’t deal with business – online or by phone when on holidays and let my clients know beforehand.) That’s another key – don’t take the business with you, unless you are on a business trip. In this technology-based society, we forget to take breaks.

Take my two seat companions on the train to Strathroy, Ontario. No. 1 was a young male plugged into his Ipod until he got off one stop after the trip’s beginning. The young lady who next sat beside me began with her laptop, then moved to her e-reader and finally as the train rolled into London, Ontario, her Iphone. Except for the e-reader, where’s the relaxation in all that?

So, my only regret is I didn’t get my third train ride, the one home from Grimsby, Ontario. The train, coming from Albany, NY, got stuck for hours in Rochester. So VIA Rail arranged for a cab to pick up those of use coming from St. Catharines and Grimsby at the railway stations at train time. Good move for the six of us going to Toronto Union Station. The taxi (a big van) ride was smooth and we arrived about the same time as the train would have.  And I didn’t have to lug my bag and laptop up the steep train steps and try to make it along the narrow aisles without having my bag’s strap latch onto the back of the seat.

So, I tell myself. But, hey. I’m the daughter of a railway man and train travel is in my blood.

Now, I’m getting serious about taking the train to the east coast and west coast of Canada. Not this year. Now I have bills to pay, have to put food on the table, and there are house and yard repairs. (the hose sprung a big leak and needs replacing).

Where do you go to get away from it all? Do you go away? And do you keep yourself plugged in 24/7 like you do when at home and at work?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Cousins, Escaping problems, Family, Fruit, Gardening, Holidays, Home and Garden, Only child, Peace and quiet, Railways, Train Stations, Travel, Vacations

Only Child considers a bucket list

Only Child's home and garden respite - part of the "bucket list" already done.

One of my cousins has a bucket list  – you know a list of things you want to do before you die. Up to now I haven’t really given it much thought. My parents died in their sixties and I’m getting very close to the age when my mom died. And when you are busy dealing with the daily crap coming your way, it almost seems redundant to consider a bucket list.

But my cousin has got me thinking. I have a bucket list, for want of a better word, for my writing, but it doesn’t go beyond a year. I think I’m afraid to think beyond that because it might throw a curse on it. Looking at her and other cousins’ travel photos, I started asking myself – where would I like to travel? I’ve been across Canada both ways and the only provinces I haven’t seen are Saskatchewan and Newfoundland; I also haven’t been to any of the three territories. I would like to go to Newfoundland and Nunavit Territory (both preferably in summer). I’ve also been to England and Wales. And I like to ride on the train. I’d also like to return to the other Maritime provinces – a grade school friend is travelling in his RV to the Maritimes and I read his blog and I think I would like to go back there. You can take a train into the Maritime provinces. You can also take a train out west – takes a few days but the scenery and the experience would be more interesting than a five-hour plane ride where you look down and maybe see toy-sized buildings if the clouds don’t get in the way.

That is some of what I would like to do. I know I don’t want to jump from a parachute or go bungie jumping but I’d like to ride in a helicopter, even though I chickened out 15 years ago. I don’t want to go canoeing, camping, but maybe I’d like to go fishing. Perhaps the clue here is to brainstorm for a so-called bucket list and then prune it down. As for “scheduling” when I would do what – that would depend on time and money. Right now I just don’t have the money to travel a lot beyond southwestern Ontario to visit my cousins (but I get my train ride and some interesting visits with my family). And there is my house and garden, something on the “bucket list” already achieved. I’m living where I want to in my retirement home, a small bungalow and have slowly cultivated my garden of perennials, vegetables, fruit and herbs. The garden also provides a serene place to sit and read or just enjoy the flowers, butterflies and birds.

And maybe that is part of the answer. Try to take each day as it comes. If you plan too far into the future you can get screwed.

What do you think?

And my friend’s Maritime travel blog is Thinking Inside the Box at http://phil-brunette.blogspot.com/

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bucket List, Cousins, Death and Dying, Family, Gardening, Home and Garden, Maritimes, Newfoundland, Nunavit, Only child, Only child memoir, Peace and quiet, Reading, Retirement experiences, Risk taking, Seniors, Train travel, Travel, Trust

Only Child looks at research in writing a memoir

Two of Only Child's many cousins. The one on the right is the Canadian family genealogist.

The upcoming Memoir Writing Workshop I’m teaching for another Toronto Public Library branch is filling up fast. That tells me memoirs are still high on the trend list. A Google search of  “Memoir Books 2006 to 2011” produced a hit list of 5,300,000.  This continuing popularity gives me hope about getting my own memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons published.

What about memoir writing itself? I’ve covered some ideas on what to write in previous posts (See https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2010/05/). But writing a memoir isn’t just mining from your memories. Research is involved and sometimes where to begin can overwhelm you. Do I go through all those unsorted family photographs? Do I have to become a genealogy expert? Should I talk to family members? Do I…?

Hold it right there. Before you do your version of a chicken-with-no-head, focus. Make sure you have narrowed down what you want to write about in your memoir. Subject matter will determine research. If you’re writing about an area of your childhood and/or your parents, you might want to talk to family members to get the bigger picture. Maybe someone in your family is doing the family genealogy. On my mother’s side of the family, two family members – one close (as in relationship and in distance) and one in another country are researching family history.  Neither knew about the other until another cousin met the United States-based one and connected him to the Canadian one. This connection brought out one point. The Canadian cousin was researching both the Strauss and Schefter sides of my mom’s family. The US distant cousin was researching only the Schefters. On my dad’s side of the family, a cousin once removed (I hate that expression; sounds like the person was kicked out of the family) is doing a bit of research. If I hadn’t talked to several cousins (Although I have no brothers and sisters, I am blessed with many, many cousins) I would have been blindly going where no one has to go. (Sorry, Star Trek fans. I’m one, too).

As I seem to be wearing my teacher’s hat today, let me list some of the things you can do when researching for your memoir.

a)     Sort through old photos, diaries, letters, etc. for what is relevant.

b)    Read the diaries and letters you keep out. Make some notes.

c)     Talk to relatives (the older the better), especially the family genealogist. Bring a notebook, digital recorder or laptop to take notes. Or communicate via Skype and webcam, Facebook or e-mail.

d)    Talk to people with the same last name (yours and your mother’s maiden name in particular) even if you don’t think you are related.

e)     Look at the photos and see what stories they trigger about the family and friends in them. Bring photos when talking with relatives, preferably someone in the photo(s). Or post them on Facebook or on Flickr for online checking with family members.

f)      Visit the cemetery or cemeteries where your dead relatives (including those ancestors) are buried.

g)     Look at photos of the house where you grew up and see what stories that triggers.

h)    Revisit the “scene of the crime” that old house. See if you can get an appointment with the current owners. Compare house stories.

i)       Library – (Disclaimer: I am not a librarian – ask a librarian for more info on what to look for) Some things you can use here – books on areas you want to cover. Digital and micro-fiche records of old newspapers which might have stories about your family, and the time period you are writing about. Your memory isn’t 100 per cent.  If you have a library card, you can access digital files of newspapers from your home computer. Micro-fiche records of the ownership history of the house you grew up in, or at least the lot number may also be available at your library.

k)    If you must do some genealogical research, try: http://www.genealogy.com/index_n.html and Church of Latter Day Saints  (new site) https://www.familysearch.org/ which links to (old site) http://www.familysearch.org/eng/

Those are just for starters.

And for those in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area (shameless self-promo here) I will be teaching that Memoir Writing workshop at the Bloor/Gladstone branch of the Toronto Public Library, 6.30 p.m. March 31. Check out my website http://www.samcraw.com and/or the Toronto Public Library http://www.tpl.ca.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Cousins, Family, Genealogy, Memoir writing, Only child, Only child memoir, Research memoir writing, Teaching, Writing workshops

Only child visits cousins

A couple of those cousins I visited

I don’t get to visit siblings – they’re non-existent.  I get the next-best thing or is it better? I get to visit cousins. And as mentioned in a previous post I have lots of cousins. Earlier this month I finally took my annual summer holidays and stayed with some of my cousins in southwestern Ontario. And many of those I didn’t stay with joined me for a dinner at a restaurant in Stratford. I counted 10 cousins around the table – eight from my generation and two from the next generation down – sort of a mini reunion. We had one of those big family reunions in the summer of 2003 – a week after the big blackout in southern Ontario and Ohio. You know where you haul out the old photos and old stories – the former tell no lies but the latter often have varying versions but if you put it all together you get some great family history. Since then all the uncles have died and if we did another biggie reunion, I’d be part of the older generation. Scary thought.

But I couldn’t help thinking about family traits and values that I saw – what is different between us and what is the same. Some kept their religious upbringing but do religion very well. What I mean here is they manage to make it part of their lives (and thrive from it)  without shoving it on everyone else -not an easy task. Some cousins are more old-fashioned; some more worldly, some talkative, some quiet. But one trait comes across in all of them, in my generation, anyway. They are considerate of others and made me feel at home when I stayed with them or even just visited for a few hours. Yet, they politely made their plans known – if they had errands, etc. to do or wanted to just stay in, they let me know. And I didn’t feel I was a burden because I was visiting. Rather I found it easy to go along with their wishes. The bottom line is it was done in a friendly non-demanding way. If you think of anytime you may have visited a relative or friend and they treated you as if you were in their way for whatever they had to do or wanted to do, then think the opposite – this latter is what I experienced.

Not that my cousins are perfect. Some of them are die-hard hockey and baseball fans and I’m not. But isn’t that what makes us all tick – our differences? And many of my cousins are mystery novel fans – so am I.

Cheers.

Sharon

Onlychildwrites

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Filed under Consideration, Cousins, Family, Gratitude, Only child

Only Child grateful for responses

Only child (on right) and friend Barb who is not her next door friend

Last week’s posting (and an earlier one) seemed to resonate with a few people – but some of us (myself included) got waylaid by my flakey friends and their bad manners. The varying responses are interesting – from a zen-like one of acceptance to someone else running into similar situations as me. I guess it is all  in how the situation affects you and what you can do about it. When you have no brothers or sisters and your parents are dead, you look elsewhere for family. Besides my son, Martin and his girlfriend, Alison, I look to my cousins  – and I have a lot of cousins-  and, of course, my friends. Contrary to what I posted last week, I do have reliable friends. And I do realize that their lives are not mainly to do my bidding – so to speak.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that reading the comments from last week’s post helped me realize a few things: how much to depend on friendship and how much to depend on me. Being alone I have learned to rely on myself for many things but there is the other side of this fence. Someone once wrote that no man (person) is an island and that means we shouldn’t shut ourselves away from others. The trick is to find the delicate balance between aloneness and connecting with people on a personal level. The other point that clicked in after much ruminating was that as a friend, I, too, have to do some giving. And so I have.

My friends next door are building an upper extension on their house. Although the husband works in construction and is one of the three fellows doing most of the work (excluding electrical and plumbing), it is going slower than expected. They got the use of another house a few miles away but have to get out by next week. There was a basement flat that came available across the street from them and me. The “For rent” sign sat on the lawn for about a month. My neighbour and I talked about it last week and finally they decided to go for it. I passed along the agent’s name and phone number when my neighbour called from their current rental digs and provided her with some background information on the place as well as talking to the fellow in the upstairs unit of that house. I left it at that. Yesterday I received a call from my next door neightbour friend that they have the basement apartment and would I like to see it before they move in? She also thanked me for my help. So, this give-and-take-gratitude thing goes both ways. I knew that but I needed reminding.

The other comment, a “ping” to some of my earlier posts dealt with when are you ever ready for marriage, etc. And it made me think, too. I know I wasn’t ready to get married when I did in that I wasn’t mature enough, but I took that step – whether foolish or not. At that time I didn’t even consider if I was taking a risk, but I guess I was. Maybe that is what it comes down to with some of the life decisions we make. Are we willing to take the risk? Should we take this risk at this time? I’d like to hear from more readers what you think on this.

As for my deciding to get married when I did – it was a bad and a good decision – bad because it did end in divorce, but good because I got a great and talented son from it. But if I dig deeper, the split from my husband may have had a sliver lining (well, somewhat). I finally had to get off my ass and learn to grow up. Today, too many years later I’m still learning. And I still sit on my ass. Well, it is more comfortable than standing up when I’m at my computer.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only child writes

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Filed under Cousins, Family Size, Gratitude, Marriage and Divorce, Maturity, Only child, Risk taking, Siblings and friends, Trust