Category Archives: Gardening

Only Child’s Mom and gardening

Only Child at entrance to Mom’s garden.

I inherited my love of gardening and my green thumb from my late Mom. She could grow everything from roses to currants to beans to tomatoes. It was this latter that gave a new meaning to green thumb for Mom as we shall see in this gardening scenario from my memoir.

One August day, Mom comes in the side door from the garden. She is carrying an open tomato juice can and she is almost scowling.

“Sharon,” she calls as I stand at the top of the stairway. “Have a look.”

Not knowing what to expect, I hurry down and join her at the door. I lean forward, my nose almost touching the can when Mom reaches inside and hauls out a wiggling creature, a mini-Martian with aerials and a big, ugly body, green mixed with white and black. I jump back before it can attack me.

“Green hornworms,” Mom says. “They won’t bite, but they will gobble up all the tomato leaves, and then the tomatoes won’t have anything to hang onto because the branches will collapse. Sharon, they won’t hurt you.” She shoves the tin closer to my frozen face. This time I just want it all to go away; I want to run up the stairs, but I can’t tear my eyes away from these creatures. So, I move closer and stare again into the can and the squirming critters within. Mom shrugs, turns around, and takes the can of wrigglers outside. I peek through the screen door at the same time she turns around again.

Is she smiling? What’s so funny? Those little monsters are worse than the blackspot on Mommy’s roses. I’m glad she is taking them away from the house. The house must be kept safe. We must be kept safe.

I don’t get it. I am still too young to realize that sometimes evil grows from within.

(From Chapter 2 Practicing Gardening and Religion, The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir, Copyright Sharon A. Crawford, 2020, published by Blue Denim Press)

Not my Mom’s tomato plant, but one in my garden this summer. So far no little green creatures.

There was more evil in my childhood than tomato hornworms. But there was also some good that has carried forward to this dayt. And that includes my love of gardening. I write about gardening to honour my Mom for passing down the gardening bug. That is something I relish doing and find it helps bring my stress level down. Sometimes I wonder if Mom’s gardening helped her cope with Daddy’s cancer.

Read more stories of my growing up the only child of elderly parents when your dad “gets” cancer.

The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir is available from

Amazon

Chapters/Indigo

Barnes and Noble

Happy Reading – and to enjoy even more – read while sitting in the garden.

Cheers.

Only Child Writes

Sharon A. Crawford

Leave a comment

Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Gardening, Hereditary, Mother, The Enemies Within Us - a Memoir, Tomatoes

Only Child Honours her late Daddy on Father’s Day

My Dad long before my time

My daddy was often mistaken for my grandfather. He was old enough for that, pushing 60 when I was 10. Perhaps his age and being a first-time father at 49, his age when I was born, and father of an only child to boot, had something to do with it. Certainly, he tried to protect me (and sometimes one of my friends) from the Bully and her gang when they were on the warpath. Once he locked Dorothy and I in the basement to protect us. That didn’t stop the Bully from making ugly faces at us through a locked window. At least we were safe…then.

My daddy taught me to ride a two-wheel bicycle, when I was nine, way later than when my friends learned. He also let me help him mow and water the lawn. But one day that was put in jeopardy because my friends and I (the Bully wasn’t there then) overstepped our bounds in the garden.

The actual flower, vegetable and fruit gardens were Mom’s territory, but besides the lawn, Daddy had a hand in the shrubs growing on our property. Here’s what happened one day.

In the summer my girlfriends and I play outside with our dolls. Give us green grass and trees, or at least big shrubs, and we are happy. We spread our blankets on the grass, sit our dolls on top, stand up the open doll suitcases for walls and hang their clothes inside. Then we set out our dolls’ clothes and go hunt for dinner.

The raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes in mother’s garden don’t interest us. We are after the big green. Marie grabs a branch from the snowball over by the Swans’ garage, and, one by one, picks off large velvety leaves. Dorothy, Jan, and I do the same and arrange the leaves on our doll plates. We are just sitting down to dinner with our dolls, when Daddy comes through the archway. His stroll turns into a leap of rage.

“What are you girls doing? Stop picking the leaves.” His face is red, and if he doesn’t slow down he’ll vault over the fence into the Swans’ driveway.

The four of us stare at him, our mouths suspended open.

“Don’t you know you are hurting the trees?” he asks.

“Sorry, we didn’t know,” Marie says.

I say nothing. What’s up with Daddy? We have to feed our dolls. However, our dolls’ food now seems like poison.

That evening after dinner, Daddy hauls out the lawn mower and starts pushing it along the front lawn. I step out onto the verandah, but stay back, still reeling from the afternoon. Daddy catches me watching him, stops and beckons to me.

“Do you want to try it?” His voice sounds like the normal Daddy.

I must have nodded, because he invites me over to the mower and patiently explains how it works, First, he helps me steer it, then lets go. Pushing is heavy work on my own, but I shove it forward and at his instruction and encouragement, move it around to our starting point.

(Excerpted from Chapter 3 – Practicing Gardening and Religion from The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir, © Sharon A. Crawford, 2020, Blue Denim Press)

Although it is almost 55 years since my daddy died, I still think of him. He had cancer during the last six years of his life and that was hard for a 10- to 16-year-old to deal with, especially as I had to find out he had cancer from someone outside the family. It affected our closeness. But something almost miraculous happened the day daddy died.

If you want to read more of what happened, you will have to read The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. And timed perfectly with Father’s Day, my memoir just arrived at three Toronto Public Library branches and is circulating. The link to my memoir listing at the Toronto Public Library is here.

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy, and to all the fathers in the world.

Cheers.

Sharon

Leave a comment

Filed under 1950s, 1960s, cancer, Dad, Father's Day, Gardening, memoir, Memoir content, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child on why I’m angry about Covid-19

Siting in the chair instead of standing on it.

It is 5.45 a.m. and I am standing on a chair and reaching over to my smoke detector. No, no fire and no smoke (a plus) but the damn thing woke me up with a beep, then a few minutes later, another beep, then… and so on.

 

You guessed it – the battery needs changing. Because of the Covid-19 I can’t get a friend, my son, a neighbour or the handyman (all of whom have helped me with this in the past) to do this. I can’t and I will not have them coming into my house (even if they would do so) because we need to self-isolate ourselves for our own and others’ protection from this virus.

 

So there I stand, first trying to get up on the chair and then standing on it to change the battery. The damn beeping woke me up and I won’t get back to sleep if I don’t change it now. So, I risk my health and safety to do so – despite having a bit of arthritis in my right knee, despite getting sporadic occurrences of sciatica in my left thigh, and despite being blind in one eye.

 

I am swearing and yelling as I do this task. One thing I have learned over the years (and not just from this virus pandemic) is anger gives me strength – physical and mental. The trick is to use it for something positive and that is definitely NOT going around killing people. So, I manage to figure out how to open this newer smoke detector model (the old one died a year and a half ago and had to be replaced – by the handyman) and I manage to change the battery. For good measure I also change the battery in the nearby carbon monoxide monitor, although it appears to be still working. At least this one is reachable from standing on the floor, and as I have done this change before, I know what I am doing.

 

While I’m at it, I want to mention one other big hurdle to overcome because of the fallout and repercussions from this virus. But first I want to give thanks and praise for our government leaders – Canadian federal and provincial and especially Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief medical officers of health, for what they are doing. I like Dr. Tam’s no nonsense approach, but she is informative and not rude, not condescending , not dictatorial. And she has experience in dealing with pandemics.  Yes, our Canadian leaders have made mistakes and could have done more – like started earlier with some of the “procedures”. But they are out and up there doing what needs to be done to the best of their abilities.

 

Having said that, I have one big bone to pick with part of one procedure – what has been kicked off the list of businesses in Ontario that are essential – hardware stores. They were on the first round of essential businesses that could stay open, but went out the door (literally, if you need to do business with them) the first weekend in April. I was shocked. I depend on Home Depot, almost as much as the grocery stores, and I am sure I am not alone here – if the lineups to get in (which I saw on the news just before they had to close their doors) are any indication. True, they have online ordering with the option of pickup outside the store. But to do that you need two things I as a low income senior do not have – a car and a cellphone (the latter is also because of my vision problem. While I can see and read what is on my computer screen, cellphone screens are too small and never mind increasing the size to see three words at a time). The way the pickup at the store works is they let you know by email when your order is ready for pickup. You drive there, and when you arrive in the car lineup to pick up your stuff you call them from your cell phone.

 

So, if I go that route what do I do? Phone from home just before I leave and lineup up behind the cars? I will be phoning Home Depot later this week to see what they have to say. I know from previously seeing people on the local buses carrying stuff bought at Home Depot that I am not alone in being a walk-in customer.

 

Yes, there is ordering online for delivery. But not everything in the store is on the online shopping list. No plants, no yard waste bags (Home Depot has garden centres) and God only knows what actual hardware is missing from the list. And except for a few items, you have to pay for the delivery. Most of my list (at this point) includes stuff not on the free delivery list and I resent that because I live just a few blocks from Home Depot. So, I would walk there and buy what I needed and can carry. For the annual garden supplies I would ask a friend or the handyman (if he was picking up stuff to fix something in the house anyway) and I would go with them to pick out the supplies and pay for them.

 

Can’t do that now. Not safe for anyone. We have to stay healthy and try to help others to do so as well.

 

For those of you reading this who think I am way out of proportion in my thinking, think again. Gardening (as well as writing, connecting on Facebook and Zoom with family and friends, reading and walking) is for my health – mental, physical and spiritual. This damn virus has just made it more difficult.

 

And all because of some stupid unhealthy practices at open markets in Wuhan and their government’s lax laws on food health and safety, which started all this.

 

So, I will fuel my anger to get the things done for my house and garden – even if it means standing on a chair at 6 in the morning.

 

How are you coping with Covid-19?

 

Backyard summer 2019. What about this summer?

Cheers.

 

Sharon

 

Only Child Writes

3 Comments

Filed under Anger, Family and Friends, Gardening, Health, Only child

Only Child getting through winter

As a child growing up in the mid-50s to mid 1950s in Toronto, I actually enjoyed winter. That included slogging to and from grade school three times a day (we went home for lunch), to ice skating. The winters I was seven and eight I learned to skate at home  – outside of course. Dad turned the hose on our backyard and overnight instant skating rink. Next day, and several days afterwards, Mom taught me how to skate. She wore boots and sometimes Dad’s old hockey skates on her feet. I wore brand new white figure skates but I did not cut a good figure. Even the heavy coats and mitts couldn’t help as I dug my hands into Mom’s as she walked or skated backwards and she tried to get me to move forward. Finally when I was eight, she figured I was ready for the big time – skating at the public Dieppe Park. There I learned that the best way to keep my balance was to skate forward clutching  a skate guard in each hand.

Today, as a senior, I hate winter with a passion. I do not find the white stuff outside as it comes down and when it stops,  a winter wonderland. I hate the cold. I hate all winter precipitation and with our climate change, that can include rain and variations of the mixed stuff. Strangely enough I don’t mind shovelling snow (when it isn’t a lot – then I get the guy I hired to shovel snow to do so) – probably because it is like hitting back at the weather. I wield a mean shovel, but my target is only the snow. I do like the sun in winter (when the sun does actually show up) and going for walks. Not as many as in spring, summer and fall. And I don’t go out much evenings – besides the cold I have a fear of falling on ice, especially after three friends and colleagues took bad tumbles on ice last winter. My hairdresser suffered the worst. She broke one leg in two spots after falling on the ice in her driveway.

So I spend a lot of time inside a lot. Plenty to do, including stuff I detest, such as dealing with house problems – the latest being an ornery freezer. But I write a lot, read a lot (although not as much as I would like), watch some TV (Weather Network addict here, plus some regular mystery and the like TV shows and movies), and purging the excess paper in my office.  And email and Facebook my son and friends. And chat on the phone with them. Also get together with them – but not as much as in the summer. It took five weekends before I could get down to my friend Maggie’s because of bad weather each weekend – some that snowed me in. But this weekend is my son’s birthday and the plan is for me to take him and his girlfriend out for brunch (mind you, at a restaurant near me) and then we are coming back to my place afterwards.

Meantime I have something else that is visual to see and create – and not bland like snow. My houseplants, some of which are flowering. And also I am going through the seed catalogue to order some seeds for this coming spring and summer’s garden. And planning the garden in the process.

How are you spending your winter? Or if you are south of the equator  – your summer, where some of those who live “up north” go in winter.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Gardening, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Winter Weather

Gardening between the rainfalls

Mom in her backyard garden 1944

I come from a long line of gardeners and farmers. My grandparents had farms and my mom grew up on one of them. When she came to Toronto to work, met my dad and married him, when they bought their first house, the one I grew up in – they made a garden, It was like a ritual every spring and when I came along, even at four and five years of age I got into the act. Each spring, Mom and Dad turned the soil, Mom planted vegetable seeds and I helped her do the latter  – with a lot of instructions from  her. After the soil-turning, Dad looked after mowing the lawn – with a push mower.

Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April

I also use a push mower to cut the lawn and like my mother I have to have my garden.

But in order to have a garden, you have to be able to get out there and work the garden, remove the weeds, plant the seeds, baby the perennials coming up again.  This year it’s been raining too much in southern Ontario so I am literally sometimes out there gardening between rainstorms. Meantime, out in British Columbia and Alberta it is dry, dry and there are spreading wildfires. Somebody up there got the weather mixed up – we need the rain to fall in western Canada and eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces) need some dry periods – like more than just a day, or just a few hours.

So, I’ve been slowly making my garden beautiful. At least it is green and the perennials are coming up and blooming. So is the lettuce and onions I planted.

Do you garden? How does your garden grow?

Here are a few early photos of my garden. Enjoy

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

Waiting to be planted

 

Waiting to assist with the planting

 

A few perennials among the weeds

 

Rhubarb ready to pull, cook and eat

 

Bringing some flowers inside

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1950s, Gardening, Mom and Dad

Only Child asks: Spring flowers bring heavy showers?

Snow flower in my outside garden Apr 9

Still too cold outside but at least the sun is shining  for now. I’ve been doing indoor gardening and took some shots of that as well as outside.

Yes, I saw the first flowers outside – a lone crocus and some snow flowers and a few clumps of irises and tulip plants trying their best. Took some photos yesterday and Sunday. I’m going to need this hope for good spring weather because of what’s coming in a few days. I’m worried and on basement watch and warning.

Because it is coming again – more rain  – too much rain – too many mm of it over five or so days. With wind mostly from the East there is a big risk of water getting in my basement and others’ basements too.  See The Weather Network for Toronto. This is my big nightmare mostly caused by that contractor Nigel Applewaite who messed  up a few years ago supposedly waterproofing my basement. He didn’t dig deep enough and then had the nerve to blame it on the drains. Well, I had the city check the drains twice and they showed fine. After a half-ass attempt by contractor Nigel Applewaite to find out where the cracks were he had missed or new cracks in the part not waterproofed – he bailed out, washed his hands of it. He isn’t a member of the BBB so I  make a point of blacklisting him through word of mouth and word of blog.

Meantime, here are a few more garden photos – inside and outside that I took. Enjoy.

Tulips and Irises trying

And inside the house

Poinsettia still in April

Flowering begonia on bedroom windowsill

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Gardening, Heavy Rains, Indoor Gardening, Life demands, Only child

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

 

 

Leave a comment

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

Only Child on gardens for sanctuary

The past few days I have been spending time in gardens. Not just mine but others and one big public one. I really needed to do so because of all the busyness in my life. Sometimes I feel like a top whirling around non-stop – until I enter a garden for sanctuary and healing.

Gardens and gardening to heal are not new. Way back in the times of the Egyptian, court physicians, instead of prescribing drugs, prescribed garden walks for royalty who had mental problems. What a novel idea. Maybe more physicians today should do that.

I am blessed that I belong to the East York Garden Club. While I don’t make it to all their meeting and events I did go to their annual pot luck dinner in a member’s garden – where else – last Thursday evening. I brought a fruit salad that I put together in a record 10 minutes – but most of it got eaten, so… In fact at first it looked like we would be feasting on mainly desserts until more members arrived with main dishes.

I talked gardening with many other gardeners, met a few new gardeners and caught up on news (not just gardening) with an old friend from school days – we had re-connected four years ago at one of the schools we went to.

And I looked at the garden and enjoyed the peace, the shade and just being there.

Saturday I roared over to one of the Pop-up Gardens of an East York Garden Club member a few blocks away. She is also a Master Gardener and very knowledgeable. She is getting shrubs etc. in her garden pruned and this was the before looksee. We talked about her pruning and the fact that both of us have special day lillies from a now deceased member of the garden club.

Sunday it was off to the Toronto Botanical Gardens and Edwards Gardens – both are together and it is hard to find the dividing line as the gardens just blend into together. I checked out the gift shop first as it closes before the gardens and then began walking through the gardens, stopping occasionally to rest on one of the benches and of course, look at and smell the flowers. And wouldn’t you know it – I ran into another member of the East York Garden Club,  a lady I have known for a few years who lives a block away from me.

Then there is my garden – I’m out there  on the back patio or front veranda to eat meals and absorb the garden. I walk through it to see how everything is doing. Lots of lettuce which I pick daily to eat. The black raspberries are finished for this year but the beans are starting up and the tomato plants have blossoms – some have small green tomatoes forming. I pay attention to what needs watering – in the pots or in the ground.

And yes, I also attack the weeds. That is my direct therapy to deal with all the crap shoved my way by individuals, companies and governments. I also sometimes name the weeds as I pull them and throw them in the yard waste bins for city pickup to carry off to the …well not the dump for yard waste.

So when the going gets tough, go to a garden. Pull weeds, absorb, return to normal.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden Clubs, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Gardens, Public Gardens, Uncategorized

Gardening helps heal this troubled soul

Tulip poking through euonymus shrub in Only Child’s garden spring 2017

One of the few things keeping me going this spring is my garden (the others are my writing, my son and friends who help me, reading, and even some TV shows). The latter two are much needed diversions and distractions from bad health with pain of some sort at some time during each day), and the Noah’s Ark-like weather – the latter worry mostly to do with that Nigel Applewaite the construction worker who messed up his contract and work to fix the basement leaks. And didn’t fix his mistakes. But that’s another post.

With all the rain we’ve been getting in southern Ontario (and elsewhere too), everything is coming up green outside – including the weeds. The latter are very prolific this year. So are the flowers and onions coming up from some planted last year, and the herbs and rhubarb. Already eating those latter three.

I remember my late mother’s garden – vegetable and flowers and the big shrubs. She and Dad would be out there digging up the garden and planting in April. That was in the 1950s. The world is a much wetter and colder place now. The latter doesn’t just refer to weather, although that was cold in April and for the most part (except for two or three days) this May, too.

So, I plan my gardening around the weather and all the other stuff I do. Doing a bit of gardening at a time is the way to weed a somewhat large garden and get things planted. And weeding gives me a safe outlet to deal with the oppressors and oppressions in my life. I have lost count how many weeds I’ve pulled with the name Nigel Applewaite.

Gardening also seems to revive my energy and provides some purpose. So does enjoying what is in the garden. Unless pouring with rain, daily, I take a walk around and in my garden. And sit out on the veranda and/or patio to eat, read and just enjoy the view.

The patio also brought forth another hurdle to get over. I needed a new umbrella to provide shade at the patio table – the one I had for seven years – second hand and a gift from a friend – finally stopped working late last summer so it went out to the curb for pickup.

You would think that getting a new umbrella would not be a major operation. Well I did check them out at Home Depot – too pricey and way too heavy to carry home – even thought it was only four blocks. So I checked Canadian Tire on line for selections and sale, then I asked one of my friends if she could drive me  – we had talked about his possibility before and she has helped me before (and her husband helped me get my bags of topsoil at Home Depot). She said she could do it on last Monday but when I phoned Monday morning to see about a time suitable to her, I got her husband and he told me in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t do it because they were going away for a couple of weeks and they would be busy for a week after they got back. And she had too many things to do before they went away.

Excuse me? Can’t she speak for herself and if she said she couldn’t do it because of time problems I could understand that – although a refusal when I first asked would have been best.

So, I asked my son if he could pick one up at Canadian Tire on his way here Saturday and I would pay him back. He said “no” because of having to lease a car to do it but offered to pay for a cab so I could come home with it. I said okay and I’d have to find out how to go about doing that from a store with no pay phone (remember I’m too poor to have a cell phone).

But I got lucky. Most of the patio umbrellas at Canadian Tire were light enough and packed in one of those carry bags (like you get fold up cloth patio chairs in) and I could carry it. Also the clerk I spoke there gave me info about getting a cab – if you need one when you pay tell the cashier and she or he will call a cab. So, I ended paying about half the price of those at Home Depot and got the umbrella home for free. I slung the umbrella pack over my shoulder and walked  block and a half to the bus stop and took the one bus home. When my son was here this Saturday, he set up the umbrella and showed me that it also can slant  (which I didn’t know). So the umbrella is there on the patio and if it is warm enough for lunch I just might sit out there with it open. The weekend was not good for that – too windy Saturday and yesterday and raining on Sunday.

So, I guess despite all the crap happening in my life, I still am a persistent stubborn so-and-so.

When I stop being that, then it is time to worry.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Extreme rainfall weather, Garden, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Mom and Dad, Spring

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

Leave a comment

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