Category Archives: Family

Only Child’s Mother’s Day was mixed bag

Martin and I outside Allen’s  on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day in Toronto was grim, gray, cold, windy and later rainy. So I was looking forward to a bright light in the day – brunch with my son, Martin. At my request he had booked a table for brunch at Christina’s a different restaurant than usual. But when I arrived a few minutes after him and walked over to the table where he sat, I got a shock.

Martin told  me that when he came to the table he was told that they weren’t doing brunches today, only regular lunch and dinners. I spoke to the waiter and then the manager. They also told me they weren’t doing any breafasts and the owner said that this was just for today, not other Sundays. I looked around at the almost empty restaurant.

On Mother’s Day? What was the owner thinking? Does he live in another universe? And this obviously stupid move was NOT on their website. I had checked the website before Martin reserved..

Martin and I didn’t have to talk about this much. We agreed to leave and go elsewhere. So we walked out. He called our usual Mother’s Day brunch spot – Allen’s on the Danforth and managed to book a table starting in fifteen minutes. He started to call for an Uber but I said we could walk it and I had to stop in a green grocers on the way there to get some lettuce. Which we did.

Allen’s was like old home – food and service. And they had brunch including his favourite salmon and my two scrambled eggs with hash fried sweet potato. We told the waiter about our experience at Christina’s and said we should have come here first. So, Martin and I had our bright spot with Mother’s Day. And outside on the small patio, he took a shot of us – well fed and happy. I’m glad this worked out because I relish the time I spend with my son. We are both busy – him with work and the band he plays guitar in (Beams), so we don’t get together too often and  so connect on Facebook. I missed Martin’s partner, Juni, who usually comes with him, but she was just getting over food poisoning. I’ve had that before and it is not nice.

Both Martin and I discussed what to do about Christina’s. I said I was going to do a bad review on Yelp and he was going to complain via the company he reserved the table through online as they would email him a request for feedback. So, I joined the Yelp crowd and posted my review of both restaurants. For Christina’s and for Allen’s. And I just looked and it appears to not be there on  Christina’s. But I was straightforward, not rude. No reviews are posted there after May 10, so maybe. I’ll wait befoe reposting. Christina’s bad service does get a mention on my Yelp Review of Allen’s here. Scroll down. It’s under “Sharon C.”

So, I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

It is important to spend time with your family.

It is also important not to let businesses screw around with your well, business, and/or engage in false advertising (remember this change was not on their website).

It is also important to take nothing in life for granted or you will be screwed. Something I have to keep reminding myself.

A belated happy Mother’s Day to all mothers.

And the weather? It is supposed to be warmer and sunnier this week with just a bit of rain. But I’m not taking that forecast for granted.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Consumer action, Customer Service, Family, Martin Crawford, Resaurants

Only Child on Christmases past

When I was a child (back in the grey ages, of course) there was no Facebook, no Smart phones and no Internet. We had phones – even party lines – at least in the country. We certainly didn’t walk aimlessly on streets or block subway stairs while texting. Things were somewhat simpler then, and although not perfect, perhaps we can learn from looking back into our childhood or for those who are under 45, we can talk to those whose childhood was in the 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s.

Here are a few of my remembrances to share for Christmas.

Before Christmas, my Mom and I would share our Christmas wrapping in a unique way. She would be wrapping mine and some of Dad’s presents in the kitchen and I would be in the dining room right next door wrapping hers and some of Dad’s. Mom had put away her sewing machine which usually sat on the dining room table to make room for wrapping,paper, scotch tape, presents, etc. A closed door hid what we were each doing. Paramount was keeping the gifts secret until Christmas morning. When either of us needed more wrapping paper from the other room, we would loudly give warning so the other person could quickly cover up the unwrapped presents. When wrapped they were all placed under the 6 foot tree in one corner of our tiny living room.

The tree was where Dad came  After it was brought home (and it was a real tree), he would work his magic fitting the tree into the stand – often a long tricky process that left me sitting in the kitchen (no presents around then) staring up at the clock and listening to Jingle Bells on the radio and waiting impatiently to help decorate the tree with the boxes of decorations and lights Mom had brought up from the basement. But when the tree was up, I had to wait even longer until Mom and Dad strung up the lights. Then the moment arrived when Dad plugged them in.

Nothing. No lights. Back then the only way to find out the dead light bulb, was to try each socket  individually with a bulb we knew worked until we found the culprit. But it was worth the wait, especially when we could add the ornaments, the tinsel and the angel on top (Mom or Dad did the latter. I was too short).

Sometimes just before Christmas Day, my godmother, my mother’s younger sister would make a “flying” visit (by car) from the farm for a quick visit. Then Mom would cook a bird. And she didn’t just stick to turkey – it was sometimes a duck, chicken or goose.

When Christmas morning arrived, I was allowed to check my stocking. Nothing else. That had to wait until breakfast and then Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church. We had no car, so either walked there and back or got a ride from one of Mom and Dad’s friends who lived nearby. At church, the pastor who was long-winded, did shorten his talk after the gospel reading but it was still too long for a kid impatient to open her presents and more important to see her parents open what she had given them.

Back at the house we unwrapped the presents. Yes, I got dolls from “Santa” but clothes and games, too. Dad got the usual dad presents of socks and ties. One year Dad and I went into a jewellery store to get Mom’s gift. But it wasn’t jewellery we were after. I wanted to get Mom a china decoration of fruit to hang on the kitchen wall. Dad, of course, had to pay for it.

If my aunt hadn’t dropped in, Mom cooked the turkey (or goose, etc.) for dinner and we stuffed ourselves. Or we took the bus and streetcar to Dad’s younger sister’s place in what is now Toronto’s Annex area. We shared Christmas dinner with my aunt and uncle, my grandmother, and their three daughters. One Christmas, the youngest one, my age, and I pretended we were private eyes, sure the grownups couldn’t see us through the banister, sitting on the stairs in the hallway My cousin and I peeked into the dining room and listened to the grownups talk and scribbled down notes. What we planned to do with them, we didn’t know.

Sometime our grandmother, who lived there, took us upstairs to her tiny attic apartment on the third floor for a private visit and chat. Always, there were three presents still under the tree and my aunt made it known that they were for her eldest daughter whose birthday was on Boxing Day and she couldn’t open her presents until the next day.

That was then. Now things are so different and not so nice in some ways in the world and that and personal experiences over the years have changed my view of Christmas  and how I spend it. And maybe some of what is important and what is not.

Stay tuned for next week’s post with a bit of what Christmas and New Year’s mean to me today.

How do  you spend Christmas? Is it different from your childhood Christmases? If so, how? And why?

Hope all of you have a good and healthy Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating and however you are spending it.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Christmas carolers showing the Christmas spirit in song

Only Child with her late Mom and Dad obviously not at Christmas

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas, Christmas tree, Dad, Family

Only child’s take on dining out(side)

Only Child with Mom in the backyard

In the stifling hot days of summer, my mother would haul out the whole paraphernalia for our family of three to eat outside in the summer. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s when air-conditioned homes were not the norm. But at suppertime, our backyard had shade.

So, with some help from Dad and me, and several trips – from the kitchen, down the side stairs, out into the driveway to the backyard went a small card table, three chairs, table cloth, serviettes, cutlery, plates, and all the dishes of food – depending on what we were eating. And yes, it was often hot food. But the entrance to the backyard was inviting – an archway of red roses.

Only Child’s Dad under the backyard entrance

It was enjoyable eating outside in the breeze. But when even the temperature in the shade rose too high, mom used her backup plan – eating in the basement. Before the basement renovation, we would sit in our own private dining room with black floors, huge cement pillars, a furnace turned off for the summer, the old coal bin (which remained after the switch to oil heat) and mother’s pride and joy – her root cellar where all her canned jams, pickles, green tomatoes and the like were stored.

You could say it was all a labour of love combined with necessity – either roast or eat the roast, be cool or sweat.

But Mom had a dirty little secret, one which was shared among some of the women on her side of the family.

Except for cooking, canning and sewing, my mother hated housework.

I don’t recall her even doing a weekly housecleaning, except for laundry and it got hung out (even sometimes in winter) until she purchased a clothes dryer. But vacuuming and dusting, cleaning bathrooms, etc.? Only if company was coming.

Then it was the big hustle to make everything neat and clean. Put away in closets and drawers were all her sewing paraphernalia – including the portable machine. You see, the home for all of that was the dining room table. And we needed that for the dinners for company. Company was mostly family and some friends. Mom did love to cook and bake and our family loved to eat.

But cleaning the house. Not in our genes.

And I think this dislike, even hatred for doing housework, is in the genes. I can’t find any scientific proof, so I will use anecdotes. My mother’s youngest sister , my godmother, was the same – loved to cook and bake, garden, and can, but clean? However, my godmother was a farmer’s wife, so there was lots else to do that your average housewife of the 50s and 60s didn’t do. But that doesn’t explain one of my Detroit Michigan cousins – who loved to sew and cook but hated to clean.

Are you getting the picture?

As for me – well I love to cook and garden, but freeze and dry garden vegetables and fruit (sometimes from the Farmer’s Market, not just my garden). I used to like to sew but lost interest over the years – I blame that on other interests taking over, lack of sufficient time, but also bad eyesight. When I am forced to mend an item of clothing, I can take more time threading the needle because I can’t see the hole, than actually mending. And this from a woman who made all her maternity clothes and used to quilt by hand.

As for the weekly housecleaning – some of it gets done – the laundry, changing bed-sheets, clean kitchen counters and sinks, and vacuum or mop. Dusting? Maybe every six weeks – to borrow a friend’s phrase “too much work.”

But nothing beats going outside on the veranda or in my backyard patio to eat my meals. I have it easier than Mom. Sure, for the backyard, I have to use a side door like Mom. But there is a patio table and umbrella already out there, so it is just bring out the food, sit down and eat. And breathe in, feast my eyes and nose on the flowers and veggies in my garden.

Top of my patio table up close

 

And try to keep the wasps away. I’m allergic to them. But it’s my patio and my garden.  So when it’s not raining, I’ll sit, eat and enjoy.

Looking from the patio at fresh lettuce, rhubarb and oregano

 

So, do you regularly clean your house, condo or apartment?

Or do you have better things to do? And if so, what are they?

I’d like some comments about this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family, Garden, Gardening, Heat summer, Hereditary, Home and Garden, Mom and Dad, Only child

Only Child on fears about getting old

Only Child with Mom and Dad in the early 1960s.

Only Child with Mom and Dad in the early 1960s.

A artist friend has sent out a survey of four questions on aging for those 60 years and over. The survey is in connection with an art show she is exhibiting in fall 2017. I haven’t done the survey yet, but the first question has really got me thinking. Her question?

As a woman approaching/over the age of 60, what is my greatest fear?

Before I answer it, I’m going back to my mother and my father as their lives as seniors or almost seniors are influencing me.

My father had some form of cancer the last six years of his life. An operation that removed half a lung stopped the cancer there, but it spread to his brain and surfaced twice in two different places. Radiation stopped it in the one area, but four years later it returned in another area of his brain. That one killed him. He was 66, So much for three times is a charm – unless it is a bad charm.  At least Mom and I were with him at the end. I was 16 and despite expecting this to happen, still felt the loss. We had all gone through so much suffering and for this?

After Dad died, Mom was never the same. She had lost her soul mate and her body began to betray her. Arthritis appeared in mega-doses – rheumatoid arthritis in her hands, feet and ankles, causing much pain and disfigurement. If that weren’t enough, God threw in something just as bad – schleroderma – which attacked her insides and her face – hard puffy cheeks and a low (as in not loud, not timbre) almost squeaky voice. She had lost her autonomy and no  matter what her youngest sister and I did, she got worse. She decided to downsize to an apartment and so began the long job of getting rid of stuff. Looking back, I wished I had done more. But I was a typical late teens adolescent, although I was working at my first job as a secretary for the Ontario Government. My boyfriend (later my husband) stepped in to help and organized the two of us to at least get some of the smaller stuff to the apartment, stuff we didn’t want to go in the moving truck. He didn’t have a car or drive then. So there we were, making many trips back and forth (a five-block walk) with as much stuff as possible crammed into her bundle buggy.  And once we were moved to the apartment, I took over most of the grocery shopping, including paying for groceries. But she helped – she taught me how to budget and how to shop. Something I use to this day.

Mom would visit her sister on her sister’s farm in western Ontario but that brought problems too. She fell on the steps (two steps) and back home, she fell off her vanity bench. The latter sent her into a coma and despite an operation, she died five days later, officially of a brain aneurysm. I say arthritis killed her. It happened to fast and I, at 22, was in a daze. Her sister, my godmother, took me back to the farm to heal. But a few days don’t heal. Especially when Mom died at 63.

So, here I sit, in my late 60s, surpassing both my parents in age, and faced with Ramune’s first question.

As a woman approaching/over the age of 60, what is my greatest fear?

It’s a multiple answer, hung together by three words “losing my health.” The litany for that goes something like this. “I fear getting cancer, any cancer, stroke or aneurysm, completing losing any of my senses (and in the last year I’ve had a taste of temporarily losing 85 per cent of my hearing and being threatened with going blind in one eye), losing my mobility and losing my mind.”

Any of those could put me over the deep end. I am not one to wait it out and/or live life not to its fullest. I would like to live to 80, barring the above happening (and I do have health issues which at this point I live with – complaining a lot of course). If any of the above in quotations happens, get me out of here.

Funny, I don’t even consider heart issues as a fear. Maybe I think I could deal with that?

What is  your greatest fear in life? No matter what your age now.

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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

Only Child at 13  and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

The teenage Only Child with her late mother who inspired her to do good deeds

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Albert Langevin, cancer, Dad, Death and Dying, Family, Health Seniors, Mom and Dad, Only child, Seniors

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 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 welcomes green Christmas

tree01Southern Ontario is going to have a green Christmas and I’m looking forward to it. Sure, a bit of snow falling and staying on the ground would be nice for between Christmas and New Year’s Day – as long as it disappeared for good January 2.

We’ve been experiencing milder than normal weather this month with the exception of a few days here and there. But it does make it easier to get around for that last-minute Christmas shopping or visiting family and friends.

Back the in the day when I was a kid (1950s and 1960s – the grey ages) we always got snow for Christmas – sometimes it froze over and it was quite slippery getting around. One Christmas Eve, when I was in my teens, Mom and I decided to go to the midnight Mass instead of doing the church thing on Christmas day. That was when I still believed in religion and all that stuff. I know it was when I was a teenager because it was just after Dad died, and I had just turned 17 earlier in December.

It was a cold dark night – no precipitation (you can tell I follow The Weather Network) but the snow had iced over. Mom and I hung onto each other as we walked to and from church.

Fast forward to Christmas 2015 – it is forecast to be sunny and a bit above normal. Christmas Eve will be much warmer and sunny with chance of isolated showers. Hopefully those showers will stay away so everyone can enjoy Christmas Eve. It’s going to rain on Boxing Day.

I used to chase around to sales on Boxing Day, especially when I lived in Aurora. One Boxing Day I did the sale thing with my son, Martin and his friend, also named Martin. The boys were in their teens and played in a band, so were knowledgeable about electronic products. I needed a new stereo set and they were along to help pick one out. And help me carry it home.

This year I would like to stay in Boxing Day and read and eat Christmas leftovers. Martin and Juni are coming for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day and bringing a ham. So we will spend Christmas together, exchanging presents and catching up.

Remember the true spirit of Christmas is not what’s in the bottle or boxes. To me it is spending time with family and friends and savouring the season, including the Christmas scenery I have created in my house.

How do you plan to spend Christmas Day? And Boxing Day?

Happy holidays to all for whatever you are celebrating.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas holidays, Christmas spirit, Family, Family and Friends, Mom and Dad, Only child, Snow, Weather

Only Child has hearing problem terror

Only child ponders new disability

Only child ponders new disability

I have another big medical problem – I am now hearing impaired, particularly in my right ear, my better ear. Had been having a few intermittent problems with the left ear with my respiratory problems. Now the right ear has joined in the whole bad occurrence.

I have been back and forth to my doctor’s. He has flushed out my ears (which helped some) and he gave me a prescription for ear drops and will do more flushing on my next visit there later this week. May have to see an ENT specialist, an audiologist and get allergy tests as that might be at least part of the problem. This medical clinic has an allergy testing clinic and the clinic is about 10 to 15 minutes walk from my house.

The big scare came Saturday morning when I woke up and could barely hear out of my right ear. I couldn’t hear people speak (in person) unless they faced me and shouted. I couldn’t hear a lot of peripheral noises and felt congested. Strangely I had (and still have as of this posting) no problem hearing people when talking on the phone and I can hear myself speak. It was strangely eerie and very scary walking through No Frills to get some groceries and I could hear nothing except a couple of guys yelling at each other.

Since then some of my hearing has returned in my right ear, thanks to the ear drops and not sleeping on my right side. I can now hear hear people speak as long as they face me and don’t speak in low soft tones. And I can hear others speak on the buses. But I don’t know if my hearing will ever return to what was normal for me. Some of it may be also due to age and what I have to say to that is – if your health deteriorates too much with age is there any point in people living really long? From what I see around me, with few exceptions, most people who live long do so with a lot of medical problems.

Still, I will keep on writing (and gardening in the spring, summer and fall). My saving grace perhaps.  Another saving grace is that both my son and my ex are going to help pay for hearing devices – the balance of what an Ontario program doesn’t cover.

And yes, one of my terrors from last week’s posting happened – some water did get in my basement from all that rain – started coming in just before I had to leave for my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary presentation, so I was scrambling around the neighbourhood to beg someone to please check on my basement a couple of times during the evening. I found someone although not the usual person.

On this note I will leave you with a link to info about seniors and hearing loss. Heck anyone and hearing loss. http://www.chs.ca/facts-and-figures

Getting old is a pain – in the ears apparently.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Helping Others, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Uncategorized

Only Child give kudos to Hudson’s Bay optical dept.

Only Child and son Martin - glasses run in this family

Only Child and son Martin – glasses run in this family

One of the few, maybe the only corporate entity I have dealt with lately, who has been exceptional in customer service is the Hudson’s Bay Company’s optical department. So, today, I’ll tell this story and leave the start of dissing the companies and organizations who are and have been maligning the phrase “customer service” to future blog posts.

Like my mother and father before me, I have been wearing glasses all my adult life. When I reached my 21st birthday (back in the grey ages), I was suffering from a constant headache. My mother was in the hospital for tests for her severe arthritis, so I was worried about that, so much so that I barely ate anything and lost a lot of weight. The other three ladies sharing a room with Mom suggested I go across the street to the optical company and get my eyes tested. So, scared, I did. I made sure I told them I didn’t want drops in my eyes because back then the drops left you temporarily sight challenged. I had first experience with this when my then fiance had his eyes tested and I had to literally lead him back to work because he had trouble seeing – except for pink elephants.

That optical company was not Hudson’s Bay. Over the years I have switched optometrists and opticians, depending on service and depending on where I lived. Last December, when my annual eye tests at my optometrist’s showed I needed new glasses, right away, I decided to go to the Hudson’s Bay Optical at their Bloor/Yonge Streets store in Toronto. I had gone to Sears the past four years and although their optical service was good, Sears management in its infinite wisdom decided to close their big downtown Toronto store. No way was I going to (and fro) the optical department in the Sears store in a mall in North Toronto – too far and too many transit changes for return visits.

So, I switched to Hudson’s Bay optical and I’m glad I did. Here is my story as I sent it to their customer service department.

This is praise for all the opticians at The Bay optical on the lower level at the Bloor/Yonge Store. I don’t have their names but they have been very courteous and helpful from when I brought in my eye prescription last December to last month and Wednesday when I had a problem with the frames on my prescription sunglasses.

 

Very helpful in helping me choose my glasses in December, even making sure the receipt was dated then (well, I did pay by credit card then) instead of early January when the glasses were ready (the date for tax purposes).

 

Early September when the arm of my sunglasses fell off – first when I called and said I couldn’t find my receipt and the optician said not to worry, we have you in the system so just come in. I did find the receipt anyway so brought it in.

 

Great service – even though the glasses frames were no longer being made I was told if none were still in stock I would still only pay the $20 (percentage not covered by the warranty for the price of replacement frames) because that wasn’t my fault that they didn’t carry the line anymore). They even glued the arm back on for the time being as I was going on holidays in a few days.

 

This past Wednesday (Oct. 7) I decided to get the frames replaced or whatever was necessary to be done. Again I couldn’t find the receipt, phoned again and was again reassured I was in the system so come right in. This time I did not find the receipt. The optician said that there was still brown frames (I had black originally) for my sun glasses. I tried that on and decided to take it. Only had to wait about 10 minutes for the lenses to be put in the new frame. And the optician, at my request, even wrote out a replacement receipt for the original order.

 

Now that’s customer service. I would like this put into each of the opticians’ personnel file.

 

A satisfied customer.

 

Now onto dealing with the idiots from other companies who have screwed things up for me. Next week, I plan to write about one of them.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Consumer action, Eye gkasses eye tests, Family, Hudson Bay Company, Mom and Dad, Only child, Opticians and Optometrists, Sears

Only Child’s thoughts on living below the poverty level

Only Child  contemplates living in poverty

Only Child contemplates living in poverty

A Google search on poverty levels in Toronto brought up this shocking information. The poverty level for a single person is $19,930 a year. That’s after taxes. Depending on your sources, that figure pertains to somewhere before 2014. See http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

Before or after 2014, that figure really hit home with me.

I just finished doing my 2014 income taxes in late April, so income before and after taxes was still in my mind. It turns out I am living around the poverty level for a single person – but before taxes, so I guess after taxes it is below the poverty level.

And that’s with having a boarder here most of last year – until late October – I kicked her out – with a few months leeway because according to her plan she could be here indefinitely until she found a job and was secure for six months in it. She is/was on social services (called Ontario Works here in Ontario). So the extra low monthly boarder rent income wasn’t making much difference to me as the poverty-line figure shows. My friends told me this boarder was just taking advantage of me anyway. But that’s a story for another post. At least my hydro and water bills are much less now.

I am also a senior and while I am grateful for the Old Age Pension and Canada Pension Plan, they aren’t high enough. Especially the latter, which varies with each person depending on how much you put into it when you worked. And being self-employed for the past 18 years, and before that, sporadic full employment from the late 1970s, doesn’t help increase the CPP. The Federal government does give you some extra CPP allowance (seven years I believe) to allow for raising a child from birth. There are tax credits that are doled out monthly and one in a lump sum – some are senior-specific. And I do get some alimony from my ex-husband.

My self-employment? Not as lucrative as even a couple of years ago.

The Feds also have something called the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which I signed up for when I signed up for the OAS. But I haven’t heard hide nor hare back about that – probably because your income has to be under $17,088 annually. See table at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/oas/payments/index.shtml

That’s  $2,842. less than the poverty level income for a single person. Something is wrong here.

All that isn’t enough for the rising costs of living. I have health issues and take natural supplements because drugs don’t agree with my body. Yes, there are drug plans for seniors and others but you are on your own with natural supplements. The basic Ontario medical coverage gets skimpier and skimpier in what it covers and purchasing extra health coverage from private companies is too expensive.

So I end up using my line of credit to cover the more monthly expenses than money coming in. And I don’t go on shopping sprees for anything and take only one holiday a year – visiting family. I forgo a lot of entertainment (like plays and movies and some concerts) I would like to go to because I can’t afford it. Free entertainment is what I look for. Street festivals and other free events and lectures outside home. I walk a lot, garden, read (mostly books from the library but I do buy a few from writing colleagues) and do readings and other presentations with other crime authors for my Beyond mystery series. I socialize with friends, an occasional meal out – sometimes they pay – and sometimes we go to garden events (free ones) together. I am fortunate in that I have a son who helps me with computer problems and takes me out to dinner for my birthday and Mother’s Day. He is even paying for a new chesterfield for my living room – his idea at Christmas – if I can find the time to finish looking around for one.

This all makes me wonder how others with less or even the basic poverty level income, can manage. I don’t have to pay rent as I’m a homeowner (and fortunately no mortgage), although with all my utility bills needing paying this month, plus other regular monthly bills to pay, the total here came to above what my May income is. And that’s before the cash items such as food and health.

So I grow some of my vegetables and fruit in the garden.

That is if I can get someone to take me to the garden centre to get some topsoil. Another long story here for another post perhaps.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot of the time. I think I have a right to be cranky.

Cheers.

 

Sharon

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Filed under Family, Gardening, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Income Taxes, Money, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Seniors