Category Archives: Healing through gardening

Only Child views downtown Toronto

 

Sailboats on Lake Ontario at Harbourfront

Sailboats on Lake Ontario at Harbourfront

A few weeks ago my friend Carol and I were driving home from an event near Toronto’s waterfront. We drove onto Queen’s Quay coming from the west. The view in front of us showed opposites. On our right was Harbourfront Centre, which although touristy, has some calming natural areas, such as the garden and walking along the boardwalk by Lake Ontario and the boats.

The other side consisted of big high-rise condos. In front of us, more tall buildings. The road sloped down and the view came across to both of us as something from the future, something from a science fiction movie.

The other side of Harbourfront Centre on Queens Quay

The other side of Harbourfront Centre on Queens Quay

Is this what my city, my Toronto has come to? The downtown core, once filled with historic buildings (some still standing, but hard to find), is now overloaded with high futuristic buildings. Not pretty. Not aesthetically pleasing. No wonder I don’t go downtown much anymore, but just as far as mid-town, unless over by my son’s area where there are still old beautiful houses. And yes the main street near there looks a little shabby in places. But it is a damn sight better than futuristic downtown.

Where did the developers and city councillors, mayors, etc. go wrong? We have leaned too much towards progress instead of combining it gracefully with history. Sadly, this seems to be the way globally.

There is an old axiom about learning from history. Well, when I look at the futuristic high-rises in downtown Toronto, the only history lesson here is to forget any history and build build build. People want to live downtown; houses are too expensive; condos not as expensive, so build up and up and up.

Beyond the aesthetic aspect, what about the utilities? Many of the utility infrastructures are old and wearing out and if not now, but soon, at this rate of growth, will not have the capacity to take all the overbuild. What happens then? A few instances are already happening. Floods from heavy rains. One high-rise condo had re-occurring power outages in under two weeks. Broken watermains.

If that weren’t enough, some of the glass panels (and I don’t mean the windows, but the walls)  of some of these condos have fallen off, shattering when they hit the street. It is a miracle that (so far) no one has been injured.

Take a look at the photos above and below. And check out these links. This one shows a tight cluster of condo locations in downtown Toronto.  This one a photo of one part of downtown Toronto.  One historic building The Ironworks manages to rise out among the big buildings.

No wonder I tend to gravitate towards Toronto areas that are still pleasing. Not just where I live and where my son and his girlfriend live, but other older areas. Just to clarify – there are still a few colourful areas who have managed to retain their history while being vibrant and interesting, such as Kensington Market and China Town, which (no surprise here) are next to each other. And another  clarification – some older areas of Toronto are not aesthetically pleasing in any way. They are boring and just there. But they still have one thing going for them – they don’t look like something out of science fiction.

Do you think historical buildings and common sense progress are being sacrificed for big modern progress only? Not just in Toronto, but where you live?

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Part of Habourfront Centre Music Garden

Part of Habourfront Centre Music Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old building on King St. Toronto

Old building on King St. E., Toronto

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Filed under Cities, Condo Sprawl, Healing through gardening, Music Garden, Only child, Streetscapes, Toronto

Only Child becomes frenzied gardener

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

I love gardening. To me it is life and without it a lot would die inside me.

So why the past week have I turned into the frenzied gardener? Setting aside time slots on weekends, mornings before work, evenings and rushing outside to frantically dig, weed, trim and plant?

It’s the weather folks. And having too much else to do. And dealing with ongoing health issues. The latter and all the extra stuff I have to do for them is something I resent. If nothing else, with all the thing going wrong with my health in the last year, I learned that you can spend too much time dealing with health stuff – finding out what the heck is wrong – including making medical appointments and dealing with medical professionals’ bad judgements and the fallout from that, and of course what I have to do for my health.

First of all, I am not a big fan of prescription drugs, but I am thankful for the double content prescription eye drops my ophthalmologist prescribed. Not only have the drops stopped the eye pressure from decreasing, but the actual pressure has decreased. The latter is not something that is supposed to happen.

No, it’s dealing with all the nonsense related to my digestive disorder – this one has no cure and I’ve been living with it for years and since then it has taken on tentacles, so to speak. I’m not even going to go into my daily regimen for that. Suffice to say, to help ease the pain, help ease the situation, I take a lot of natural supplements and the like. And yes they help. But when I go to make what used to be a simple breakfast, it turns into a major production.

So, my garden is my lifeline and if I’m out there pulling weeds and digging up a storm, please excuse me. It does make me feel better and even drives the digestive disorder pains away. I get great joy looking at my garden and once the tomatoes are in the garden (yes, I’m over a week late with them thanks to the weather – too dry and fluctuates between too cool and too hot – more the former), I plan to sit out more in the garden and just read and enjoy.

And  yes, I’m taking yet another look at what (besides the aforementioned health stuff) is stealing my time and some of it is either going on the back burner or going out the window. I also have a lot of client work (for which I’m grateful) now and that is a priority. So is family, reading and walking. Too much social is not – I’m cutting back or at least spreading it out and that includes replying to email. Don’t get me wrong. I love email – it and the Internet were my first forays online back in the mid-1990s and except for blogging (which I love doing) I much prefer email and  searching on the Internet to trying to keep up with social media. And I’m cutting back on one thing with social I seem to get roped into – arranging work and school reunions of small groups of old friends. I still want to get together with them, just not do all the organizing.

It seems no one else wants to or has the time to organizes these lunches or dinner get-togethers either.

So, it will be one-on-one (or two or three) with friends getting together. That way I’ll see some of them, at least.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Roses in bloom late spring

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Time management

Empire Life Insurance apologizes and Hudson’s Bay reimburses

The garden is one way I have to heal

The garden is one way I have to heal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my take anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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

Only Child has too many worries

Only Child contemplating her too stressful life .

Only Child contemplating her too stressful life

I have hit worry overload – many new worries popping up and some ongoing chronic ones.

In last week’s post I mentioned the garden-related problems from the extremely severe winter and late start to spring (is spring here finally?).  I have been closely watching the large juniper tree on my front lawn, the boxwood shrub in the front and the two silver lace shrubs winding on the back fences. And carrying on a heated dialogue with God. As you know I put the responsibility for this weather squarely on God. The silver lace will have to be cut down – one has signs of life near the bottom so may come back. The juniper is slowly showing more signs of green but still has quite a ways to go. The boxwood is coming along slowly, but still has a long way to go. If necessary I can trim it back.

But I don’t want to lose the big juniper. Getting it cut down will be over my dead body. God owes me to get it back at least to 95 per cent recovery. And God will have to send me the money from somewhere to pay for an arborist to cut down (and in one place remove) the silver lace. I have bills to pay for the home repairs already planned and scheduled and so far have the money for them. It’s the extra unplanned stuff I can’t deal with – financially or emotionally.

Unplanned like computer problems – both computers and both with security in one way or the other. Not surprising as that is a reflection of my life currently –  very unsettled and very little seems to be in my control. I choose to have more control of my life and to have less problems to deal with. I won’t go into more details but right now I have more crosses than I can bear.

Are you listening God?

My health – emotional, mental and physical depends on it. I have three auto-immune diseases (if you count allergies as one of them) and to manage them I need less stress and more sleep. Both those are wavering in the opposite to health direction.

When I do sleep I have weird sometimes frightening dreams and I know they reflect what I am going through and what I need. Would be good if my dreams gave me some answers.

Is it too much to ask to have only a few problems, what you can take? And not a lot of horrific unexpected ones popping up all the time.

The grass is green, so are the plants and the flowers are actually showing up in my garden. My garden is supposed to be my sanctuary but when I look at the juniper, the boxwood and silver lace I wonder about that. I can’t help wanting to go back to my mother’s garden when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s  and helping mom in the garden, picking berries, and sitting out in the backyard and reading an Agatha Christie or other novel borrowed from the library.

I didn’t know how good I really had it then. Life really sucks right now.

Cheers (I think)

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Anxiety, Healing through gardening, Health, Mother and Child, Only child, Overwhelm, Problems

Only Child hits the stress factor

Only Child's relaxing corner  in the backyard - when the garden finally flowers

Only Child’s relaxing corner in the backyard – when the garden finally flowers

There are many studies and articles about how stressed-out we are. It seems to be the norm to be over-busy and stressed out. It’s the so-called remedies that I don’t agree on. One in particular – change your attitudes on your life.

Yeah, right. As if that would get rid of the stress in your life. If it would work, I would try to change my attitude. However, as I mentioned in last week’s post, as one stressor goes, another one pops up to take its place.

Let’s consider changing your attitude. There is a big risk here of going into denial, i.e., you don’t have any problems so you don’t solve them. You might also fall into the Pollyanna attitude. And we all know what happened to Pollyanna. In the 1960 Disney movie of the same name, Pollyanna fell from a tree and was crippled.

So attitude change won’t work for me.

I’ve decided on a three-prong approach:

1. Take a long hard look at just what my stressors are and try to eliminate what I can. I know I said that one will pop up as one is deleted. But there just might be some that can go for good – so that would be one or two less included in the stressor list.
2. Learn to relax – that’s the biggie – but meditation has helped me in the past. It won’t eliminate the stress but might help the cortisol level and my immune system. Because of some physical medical conditions, I already have a compromised immune system and stress capulted it into high gear. No wonder I’m having a hard time getting rid of a viral respiratory condition in my neck and cheek glands, which started as sinusitis and is threatening to include that again. Here, my garden (whenever this weather decides it is actually spring – plants are about a month late this year) can help, both gardening and sitting in the garden and reading.
3. Solve the damn problems – and pick and choose wisely, which ones to tackle. And try not to tackle all at once – if it can be helped.

Here are a few articles and studies on ways to eliminate or reduce stress. I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with them, but here they are anyway.
Stress and Positive Attitude
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
Stress and Aging http://www.economist.com/node/18526881
And my favourite – Eliminating Stress Brings Pain Relief
http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/stress-and-pain.aspx

 

How do you tackle stress? Is it killing you? I’d like some comments.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

 

Only Child Writes
Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under Gardening, Healing through gardening, Health, Only child, Overwhelm, Pain, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress

Only Child agrees with Canada-wide CMA Health Study

Only Child's home and garden  for her health.

Only Child’s home and garden for her health.

If you live in poverty it affects your health according to a recently released study by the CMA (Canadian Medical Association).  “Poverty kills,” said Dr. Anna Reid, the CMA president.

You bet it does and even just living a tiny bit above the poverty level can be hazardous to your health. Add that to my post from last week as I can count up to eight areas where I have health problems and some have a) b) and c) parts. Not having enough money to live on means not being able to afford to do all the things that make and keep you healthy.

Healthy food is necessary (and enough of it each day is important, but so is decent shelter). I mean how healthy is living in a rat or roach-infested apartment? Or a shelter?

Then there are the health “extras” – those necessities not covered by government health plans. Those of you who live in the United States think we here in Canada have an ideal health plan. No. Each province has its own health plan and you are supposed to be able to use your province’s plan if you get sick when travelling in another province. But more disturbing is what provinces are taking off the plate as basic coverage. For example, in Ontario, eye checkups (with some exceptions) and physio-therapy are among the deleted list (although there are some changes with partial coverage being added to the latter August 1, 2013). Other health therapies are partially covered – like podiatrists (but not the devices needed). Some were never covered and should be – like basic dental. That means getting private health insurance, something not palpable for those of us living below or near the poverty level,  just for some basics. Most cosmetic surgery isn’t covered and unless it’s reconstructive after an accident or injury, that is as it should be. If you want a nose job, etc., to make you look better you should have to pay.

We seem to be taking backward steps closer to before Ontario had health coverage. I wonder how my parents managed – I believe hospital stays in wards were covered or I hope so when first my dad, and then after he died, my mom had their times in hospitals. Before Ontario health coverage any coverage might have been covered by Dad’s employer.

In Ontario the other bad thing that returned is partial payment of OHIP coverage. When OHIP (which had a slightly different name then) came into existence, payment was required – often an employer paid part or all. Well, the recently retired premier, Dalton McGuilty (as my friend calls him – it’s McGinty), added in a health premium into your income tax payments. So once a year when you pay taxes you have to include an amount for health care premium if your taxable income is $20,000 or above. That’s taxable income, not total income before taxes, so we who live in poverty or just above poverty, don’t pay it. But we get hit somewhere else in the tax filing. Unless you have paid large amounts for extra health care (alternative medicine and supplements not included) you can’t use it as a tax deduction because of the convoluted figuring. So if it’s the year I pay a fortune for new glasses, it will count, but if it’s a year where I just get my eyes tested and don’t need new glasses, it’s no deduction.

And that’s what I have to do with all the extra health stuff I should be doing/using. Choose. I can’t afford them all, so I choose looking after my eyes and taking vitamins and minerals and other supplements. My poor feet get over-the-counter medication; my teeth get brushed and that’s about it, except for a few steps I can take – eat healthy (at least I can afford that, partly thanks to my garden and paying close attention to the weekly grocery flyers/sales), the actual gardening and walking.

I’m working on getting enough sleep but all that stress and anxiety from not enough money coming in is keeping me awake some nights and affecting some of my physical ailments, which in turn keep me awake some nights.

Vicious circle.

The CMA has some advice for governments, including starting a Canada-wide program of a guaranteed annual income and say governments need to be pushed to take action. Amen to that.

You can read an article about this CMA study, generated from town hall meetings of Canadian citizens across Canada. Article is at http://www.timescolonist.com/life/health/canadians-see-income-housing-education-as-determinants-of-good-health-report-1.564578

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Healing through gardening, Healthcare coverage, Mom and Dad, Only child, Poverty

Only Child finds solace in her garden

Part of Only Child's rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Part of Only Child’s rose garden in front by the sidewalk

I’ve been seeking solace in my garden to get away from all the crap that has been shoved my way the last month or so. That is when one of these stressors – weather, i.e., heavy rain and winds – hasn’t gotten in the way. And the crap keeps piling up. Now the CRA messed up my tax returns on the notice of assessment and when I called they admitted their mistake and it will be fixed. Meantime, “the system”  won’t know this and so unless it is fixed before early July, the amount the Notice of Assessment says I still owe (but don’t) will come off my GST rebate for July and I won’t get my provincial tax credits (also July) until the situation is fixed. All for some clerical error at CRA. Not fair. I need that little extra to survive, or once the property tax and utility bills are paid, I do without somewhere (read health expenses for one).

My garden is my lifeline to comfort and some food. When I walk out into my garden and see they symmetry of the perennials, the shrubs, the raspberries starting to form, the onions and other vegetables coming up – even the ground where recent seeds were planted – I get some solace. The blend of colours – some white, red, yellow, blue, greens, silvers, and lots of shades of purple – the only spiritual nourishment in my life as I get no spiritual nourishment and help elsewhere such as traditional or non-traditional religion and faith. Faith and trust don’t seem to be in my vocabulary these days and it’s not by choice but from what’s been happening.

So I go out into my garden and absorb – sight, sound (birds), fragrance. I literally smell the roses which are now just beginning to bloom.

But there is a dark side to when I’m in the garden. Pulling weeds and digging are good ways to vent your anger and frustration. Each weed I dig up or yank out symbolizes the people, etc. who make my world worse. The pulled weeds are placed in the yard waste bins for city “garbage” collection to be dumped somewhere to go back to the earth. Appropriate. When we die our bodies disintegrate (if not done for us with cremation) back into the earth. A fit place for my stressors.

Sitting out in the garden in the sun or shade, reading a book, eating meals on the patio, or just taking in all the garden or collecting flowers are (along with writing) how I cling to sanity. Whatever sanity means these days.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Income Taxes, Life demands, Only child, Rain and wind storm, Roses, Sharon A. Crawford