Category Archives: Home and Garden

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 says beware the silver lining

How I may have to view my garden - standing up on the patio

How I may have to view my garden and eating outside – standing up on the patio

Silver linings are used as something to look for in times of trouble. For me, it seems to be a weird, perhaps perverse variation. When a silver lining event happens, always an underlying troubling event or events (to put it nicely) connected to it happens. And 95 per cent of the time the bad event comes from out there. So no control at my end.

Here are a couple of recent examples.

You probably gathered from recent postings that I am in dire financial straits – this month especially because all my regular bills are showing up to be paid. But if I can stick to my strict budget, June is supposed to be much better because – drum roll for silver lining events – I have three writing, editing and/or teaching writing gigs coming up. The first one is for a client I already have. He informed me last week we could meet to get going on what he wants me to do (writing and editing) the week of May 24. A few months ago he paid me a retainer (long gone on paying bills), so I can’t exactly ask for more money until I work through this retainer.

Starting June 6 I am contracted to teach a four-session (every Monday afternoon) Memoir Writing gig at the North York Central Library branch in Toronto.

And this Friday I meet with a potential editing client for a possible manuscript evaluation gig – but it won’t start for two weeks until after she returns from holidays.

So, while June looks good (I also don’t have to pay a property tax bill in June), May is turning into the month from wherever.

The opposite to the silver lining under all this good fortune is something I never expected to happen. I had done my homework and saved enough money over the previous months to get some necessary tree pruning done. Job done very well and so I paid. Way after  the guys left (and I had another set-back that sidetracked me here. Coming to that shortly). ‘Without my permission and without even telling me, they had moved my patio table a metre and a half or so on the patio. This was supposedly so they could get the ladder up against the wall to go up to do some trimming of the walnut trees from the neighbour’s which were hanging over my roof. It was not necessary for them to move the patio table – the fellow who cleans my eavestrough doesn’t and he gets the ladder in there behind the patio table and to the right of it. The arborists could have done the latter. They also did not put the patio table back to where it belonged. I don’t usually allow it to be moved because it has a hole in the top to match up with the hole in the cement so I can put in the umbrella. I even waited to do this because I knew the umbrella would be in their way.

So what’s the thanks I get? When moving the patio table, nails on both ends joining the seats to the rest of the picnic table, came out. I phoned and called them on it and got “well, it was okay when we moved it.” I don’t think so. As soon as I lifted the table to try to move it back, I could tell something was loose.  The fellow said they would swing by and check on it (and hopefully hammer the nails back in and move the table back to where it belongs) either late Sunday or late yesterday or possibly today.

No show Sunday or yesterday. So, I left a vm message this morning and while I was polite, this time I mentioned why I don’t usually let the table be moved and could they please clarify if they were coming after 4.30 p.m. today or in the alternative, same time Thursday.

I cannot afford to pay a handyman to fix these arborists’ screw-ups. They did a good job with the trees (and I told them that) and were courteous enough to check with me after they did part of the job (before they were in the backyard) to see if it was to my satisfaction. I already paid them with a cheque and am contemplating putting a hold on it at the bank until they fix the patio table damage. But they do deserve to be paid for the tree trimming. Too bad you can’t hold part of the cheque amount back.

The other big silver lining is last Thursday at the ophthalmologist’s, after the eye exam, I got really good results, better than either of us expected. My good eye – the right one was seeing letters smaller and better. Even the left eye was too. But the best news was the double content prescription eye drops are not only stopping the pressure behind my left eye, but the pressure has gone down from 33 to 18 (whatever the measurement is for that). And the drops aren’t supposed to lower the pressure, just keep it at bay.

The shit in this silver lining? Saturday, besides gardening and having the arborists here, I was doing some laundry. What I didn’t hang out went in the clothes dryer. When transferring towels from washer to dryer I felt something fall from my glasses into the towels.. I figured it was the frame handle (again, it was glued on temporarily last month) from the sunglasses. Being in and out of the house a lot I sometimes keep the sunglasses on.

Uh, uh. It was my regular prescription glasses, the more important ones. One of the lenses had popped out. This had never happened to me before. I managed to get it in most of the way, but it still required a fast trip right then (I did eat lunch first) to the opticians. They popped it in, no charge, but while there I decided to order the new pair of sunglasses before the frame handle fell off again. I had enough left over from what I had saved for the tree trimming, so I picked out the glasses; the optician measured for them, and put the order in. The warranty for the original sunglasses  was only a year so is gone. I paid cash.

Then I went home and found the patio table situation when I went out back to do some garden clearing.

There are many more crappy incidents in the silver lining, but these are the two biggest ones – all unexpected. Before all this I had already cancelled me going to two events that require a fee and also postponed another event until next month.

What do I do now? Stop eating, or at least buying food, the middle of the month?

So, when people thinkI bring this stuff on and/or I create it – not true. Most of the shit coming my way; most of the things going wrong, I don’t cause them. And no I’m not going into the God stuff here, I’m saying that a lot of it is other people’s mistakes.

Is it something in the air or the water that makes people so stupid? Or are they just naturally careless?

Sheesh!

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes (and yells a lot lately)

 

 

 

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Filed under Arborists, finances, Good and Bad Luck, Home and Garden, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Silver Lining, Snafus

Only Child says focus and it might happen

Only child in doorway to her office

Only child in doorway to her office

Last week I blogged about Karma – what goes around comes around, something I firmly believe in even if I don’t see it. But there is also the belief that if you put it out there, the Universe, God or whomever might deliver.

No, I’m not turning into a believer here, but by accident I discovered a twist to this.

As many of you know I have turned into a very cranky angry person, thanks to all the crap that has been shoved my way and thanks to that, all the areas in my life where I feel cheated. So it has made me push a lot in my complaining. Besides the health area (which I will stay off this time), I have been complaining loud and clear about my financial position, about living below the poverty level. I just did my income taxes for 2015 and that confirms it – even lower income then for 2014 and 2016 was looking even worse, what with the powers that be at Service Ontario cum CPP, cutting back on my monthly CPP income and adding insult to injury by deciding to take off all the “extra” in May. Of course, I filed a dispute.

Along with this bad financial situation is the lack of sufficient work coming in for the first part of this year. I am teaching a fiction writing workshop at the S. Walter Stewart Library branch later this year in October.

So, I’ve been yelling about these two – financial and lack of work to bring in money – but also putting my invisible money where my mouth is, so to speak. I’ve been pitching both my writing workshops and speaking engagements for my Beyond fiction books to various branches.

Voila.

Late last Friday afternoon I received an email from a librarian at the North York Public Library branch. The writer/editor who usually teaches their four-session Memoir Writing Course in June has had to suddenly cancel (why is her business). So the librarian who looks after programing there emailed me and asked if I would like to teach the course and there would be financial compensation.

He had received my name from another librarian, Janet Nanos (and I don’t mind mentioning her name and you’ll see why in a sec) who is instrumental in my East End Writers’ Group meeting almost monthly at the S. Walter Stewart branch and also for that October fiction writing workshop. Turns out the NYCC librarian and Janet used to work together so he emailed her and she recommended me. And yes, I thanked her.

I have since talked with Val, the NYCC librarian and we have firmed up what I am to teach (pretty much up to me for the content) and he confirmed my fee (same as I get at other library branches per hour). This is for June. The write-up about it will soon go on their website and I’ll post that in future when that happens in case anyone is interested in taking this course. It is free to library patrons – the only catch being you can’t have taken another version of the course previously at that library branch.

So, sometimes putting it out there will bring in some help. Sometimes you just have to yell and complain a lot to be heard.

Now, I just have to figure out how to afford to get through May with no extra income and less CPP. I have gardening and yard supplies to get, trees to be trimmed, and one of my handyman to be here to do some tasks.

Plus I have a horrendous water bill – over $230. and a lot of that has to do with the City not billing often enough. Last bill was in December and this one that just came is due May 9. Plus there is a property tax bill, etc. etc. etc.

Looks like a few health-related issues may have to be put on hold.

But all that is for another post.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under finances, God, Home and Garden, Librarians, Libraries, Memoir writing, Memoir writing course, Only child, Poverty

Only Child’s thoughts on living poor

Only Child and her son Martin who helps her survive.

Only Child and her son Martin who helps her survive.

Except for a couple of years, I have been living on or below the poverty level for nearly 18 years. So I think I speak with some “personal authority” on how it goes.

It is a mixed bag, but unfortunately you lose more than just money. Many not-so-good traits and habits happen. Living constantly in survival mode has turned me into a skeptic, made me cranky, angry, sometimes rude, pessimistic or overly optimistic, which I know doesn’t make sense. I have learned to watch the optimism because that can too soon change to the opposite.

Money may not buy you love (the jury is out on that one), but without enough money to live on, I do some things others might find crazy or unbelievable. My biggest financial issues don’t usually include food (more on that one in a sec), but health and home  (including utilities’ escalating costs and repairs). Despite scrupulous monthly budgeting, my health expenses always go above budget – the last few months hundreds over budget. The latest is my prescription eyeglasses which have to be replaced. My vision (excluding the glaucoma) is the same as when my eyes were tested the end of 2014 when I purchased my new prescription glasses, so getting a new pair of glasses now doesn’t please me, to say the least.

Saturday I had just returned home from the first round of grocery shopping, placed my bags of groceries on the veranda between the front doors and hauled out my keys. The keys slipped from my fingers and fell to the ground. When I bent down to retrieve them, my sunglasses fell off, landing on the soft bags. One frame side (the part attaching to the ear) fell off. I was very angry at God (not watching out for me)  and after putting the groceries away and eating a light lunch, I rushed to The Bay Optical where I had originally purchased the glasses. They can’t be fixed permanently because of how it broke off and the company doesn’t make those frames anymore. So, a whole new pair of glasses. Of course, the one-year warranty was up but the optician glued the frame back on and after I went into my poor senior-living status and I asked, she did agree it could be glued on again until I could afford a new pair. Because my vision is the same, so same prescription, the cost is a bit lower – but still more than I can afford now, what with house and property repairs – the eaves trough situation I had blogged about previously and the one property thing I was saving for – some tree and branch removal issues. Hopefully the temporary remedy my son suggested for the eaves trough will work a bit longer than planned. Trees must be done this spring, the earlier the better before leaves appear and plants around the trees pop up.

The health issues escalate the supplements and now there are the monthly eye-drops and having too much income to qualify for the Ontario government drug co-payment play for seniors. The government scrapped the increase on this plan (I would still be above a few hundred dollars in income to qualify). But the deductible starts all over again each Aug.1. Fortunately my son will now pay the difference.

That brings up something on a broader scale. CARP (formerly  Canadian Association of Retired Persons) has stated that many seniors don’t get prescriptions filled because they can’t afford them. CARP is lobbying the government for a Canada-wide drug prescription plan for seniors – heck everybody could use one, at least up to a higher income level.

As for food, I do budget and usually stay within it each week, occasionally go a few dollars higher, but then sometimes I’m under budget. Not easy. Here’s my little secret – I ration my food, not only spreading out meat and fish dishes into several meals, but dividing up some fruit such as oranges into two or three meals (depends on the size of the orange). I buy lots on sale and yes, there are some tinned meats and fish in my food repertoire. In spring and summer I have a vegetable and herb garden, so that helps.

The garden is one big reason I continue living in a house. I also like this house (despite the property problems that crop up). My garden, my writing, my family and friends, reading, TV, walking help sustain me.  They have to. I can’t afford even a few concerts and plays, travel only to visit family (I am grateful for that) or the occasional day trip to Aurora and the like. Bucket list? Can’t afford to carry through with anything on a bucket list.

Living poor is a struggle. Perhaps the only plus is learning to be resourceful. But at what cost? Your health? And one thing I have learned from experience – mine and others. You can’t depend on God to help. Just look at all the poor people, especially the homeless. God helps those who help themselves? More like, just help yourself – if you can.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under CARP, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Home and Garden, Life demands, Old Age, Poverty

Only Child celebrates birthday

Birthday_birthday_cake_3Today is my birthday. Didn’t the Beatles have a song that started out something like that? Which would be appropriate as I was and still am a Beatles fan. And yes I went to a couple of their concerts at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and screamed my throat out – back in the mid 1960s.

Some people reflect on their year and what is ahead at the end of each year. I do some of that, but the annual birthday may be just as appropriate, if only for the “I’m getting older” factor. Birthdays are a reminder of that. When you are a senior, like me it is very mixed.

Yes, I would like to be  around 10 to 15 years later – if I could have my so-called wisdom and experience and my son would be the same age as he is now.  And be in good health and afford to live.

First the bad side of getting old and I will paraphrase my neighbour from down the street (also a senior). When I mentioned that I had been experiencing a lot of health issues the past five months, she said that this time in your life it is supposed to be when we can retire and enjoy life. She said it as if she didn’t believe it anymore.

She is right. Life in the senior lane can be awful. The body fails; the mind fails and for some people it can be very lonely. Add in living in poverty, despite all those glowing retirement ads and stories. Not all of us are rolling in money. Some (myself included) live below what Statistics Canada states is the upper level for singles (all ages) living alone.

Heck, last year when I had that dreadful boarder living here (I finally kicked her out and am glad I did), my net income was lower than the year before when she was living here only five months, not 10. Turns out she drained my electricity and water and that upped those bills.

And utility bills, with or without boarders, are high. So are property taxes and not just for seniors. Many of us live on a budget and certain things (like extra health coverage for health areas not covered by government health plans). Many of us don’t have access (via our or spouses’ retirement plans) to extra health plans, so we do without. We may have to choose one extra area to focus on. Eventually the others will fail us in old age.

And more things happen. So far my memory and forgetfulness haven’t worsened – I don’t think. On days when I have too much going on, too much bad being shoved my way to deal with, I wonder about that. That’s why I’m continually trying to prune what I do and also get rid of the clutter still left in my home. Right now I’m focusing on all the excess paper in my home office. The laundry room and storage there is next – but a lot of that is garden stuff dumped inside now that garden season is about over. I say about as there are still a few more things to do out in the garden and the weather might just be co-operating this coming weekend.

So, what do I give thanks for on my birthday? What do I still like in my life?

My outside garden obviously. In winter I try to compensate with lots of plants inside, but it’s not the same – so I do plan for next year’s garden.

My writing – particularly my Beyond mystery series and personal essays. And promoting my books. And something new I just started and enjoy – doing short skits as public presentations where I dress up as my main Beyond Blood character Dana Bowman.

Teaching writing workshops/running my East End Writers’ Group and helping and connecting with other writers.

Reading (and yes, print mainly although I do have an e-reader), walking, watching favourite TV programs and movies on TV. I’m old-fashioned enough to want to watch TV on a TV, not a computer, although I do watch short videos about the weather, gardening, health, writing and the like on the computer, also like cooking, and dining out with family and friends, going to street festivals, going into unique shops with crafts and the like (mainly “window shopping). And living in this house which I love (despite all the things that need fixing).

What do I want to do in the future?

Continue collecting info on my late father’s ancestry and reconnecting with cousins on Dad’s side of the family (particularly another one doing some genealogy research in that area), travel more – but not by plane. I don’t like all the excess security for those of us who are not security risks. I think my ex put it best when he said something about removing shoes was what got to him. But he and his current wife do still travel. Me, I want to travel more by train to Quebec province (where my dad was born), the train trip out west to BC through the mountains, and to my cousins’ in a medium-sized town in Michigan. One cousin has offered to pick me up at Windsor or Sarnia and I’m hoping to take him up on that later next year.

And more money to come in to pay for extras including house problems and travel.

I also wish for my health not to get any worse.

To tag on to the above two -house and health. If the latter gets too bad I don’t want to hang around. And I don’t want to go into a nursing home or even a retirement home. My next stop, I say, is the urn.

If I have 10 to 15 more good years (see above for what I consider good/not good), that will be fine. Living to an old age for most people isn’t worth it if you are sick in mind and/or body and are just wasting away.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening, Genealogy, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Old Age, Only child, Poverty, Reading, School reunions, Seniors and Happiness, Seniors Hobbies and Interests

Only Child’s hearing returns – problem list still long

Martin, Juni and me on the new couch. I'm the sloucher

Martin, Juni and me on the new couch. I’m the sloucher.

My hearing is back to normal thanks to the ear drops and the doctor flushing out my ears again. I’m grateful for that. A few days after that some of the respiratory gland stuff died down – at least it looks that way. Still have the tinnitus in one ear and some sinus problems but the latter could very well be from allergies. I want to get tested for allergies in the next few months.

This big scare made me think about all the problems – health and otherwise – I’ve had to face during the summer and the fall so far. One of my friends says I have a hard life and he is right. Sometimes I think someone or something has put a curse on me.

Won’t rehash my whole life – that’s for the memoir books. But a partial list of the problems over the last six months is scary enough. Besides the ear and respiratory problems mentioned above, the following has been happening.

  • got stung by a wasp with a local allergic reaction in August
  • tripped over picture hanging wire some asshole left on the sidewalk
  • water got in the basement with the rainstorm Oct. 28
  • constant problems with eaves troughs and tree overhanging and squirrels (I’ve been yelling “roadkill” a lot lately)
  • more house and property repairs/upgrades for safe living
  • many other ongoing health problems including oste0arthritis in my neck
  • too many wind and heavy rain storms causing worries about power outages, roofs, trees, etc. (Another one due here this Thursday – garbage collection day, of course)
  • too many good dishes falling down when I’m not near them – and of course breaking
  • vacuum cleaner hose detaching from vacuum
  • Utilities and businesses screwing up my accounts
  • Dealing with the city for partial green pickup and getting the sewers cleaned

To offset some of this I have a wonderful son and some wonderful friends. Many of you know that my son Martin paid for the new chesterfield that I purchased in August. Sunday, Martin, his girlfriend Juni and my school friend Margaret came over for dinner. But not just dinner. Martin drove Juni and Margaret here and Margaret brought a ton of fresh fruit, cakes (one gluten-free) and two bottles of wine (no we didn’t finish them and Martin as DD didn’t drink any) and Martin and Juni brought some lettuce greens for me to make a salad to go with our dinner. Juni helped me transfer digital photos from my camera to my laptop. I can never get the hang of it. Martin did some other computer stuff and also some minor house fix-its, like taping that vacuum cleaner hose solidly to the vacuum and changing the battery in the smoke alarm in the basement ceiling.

So, there are good and bad. Sometimes the bad is more than the good. It should be more good than bad, but when you look outside at this world (the weather is a good example – but more on that in another post) and see all the crap going on, all the bad things, no wonder people’s personal lives are a mess. It’s like constant uphill living. No smoothies except the drinks.

Like I said before, someone or something put a curse on me – perhaps right when I was born.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Bug bites, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, November Weather, Only child, Power Outages, Problems, Rain and wind storm

Only Child deals with time stealers

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am so fed up with unwanted and unasked for time-stealers. Over the past four months it has been difficult to get things done. Sometimes I feel like I am in freefall, in overwhelm, running around in the proverbial circles. Was it ever like this, even remotely, for my Mom and Dad when I was growing up? You know back in the grey ages in the 1950s and 1960s.

I don’t think so because the world, society moved at a slower pace then and there just weren’t as many “things” happening, so not so much coming at you.

Well, I’ve had way too much going on – a lot of it bad, some of it good, but it needs to be sorted so it’s not all happening at once.

First, the bad – only a short list or we’d be here until doomsday.

My health – this summer I’ve had to deal with sinus/gland infections (still traces but I see improvement with the third natural remedy I’m taking), being stung by a wasp and getting a localized allergic reaction. I’m now on wasp alert and when I killed one the other day I felt a lot of relief, felt the situation had evened out (I know, probably not the actual wasp that stung me), and getting injured from a fall caused by some careless dingbat leaving a picture hanging wire outside. Somebody got cursed then.

Consumer stuff – this is an endless list but I’m only going to focus on travel. The business with VIA rail delay because of US/Canada border problems when I was returning home from Grimsby earlier this month. Now, a much bigger issue is happening locally – Toronto Transit in its “wisdom” is upgrading/renovating two consecutive subway stations at the same time, including closing them to buses and bus platforms and moving the bus boarding a few blocks away in one case. I will enlarge on this one in a future post. Suffice to say I’m composing a letter to the CEO of Toronto Transit about that.

Too much in my life personal and writing going on at the same time.  And much of it not asked for, not expected.

That’s enough complaining for now. So, what am I doing?

First of all I am focusing on the most important to me each month, each week, each day. The rest can go to hell or limbo – for now. I will only take on so much at a time and let others know. If they don’t like it, too bad. My health issues this past summer have taught me that. I have also started to say “no” to things, even if I’ve already signed up for them. Case in point. Signed up for an entrepreneur seminar all day later this month. No cost. But when reason finally prevailed, I realized it starts too early in the morning for me to get out. No, not get up, get out. Some of my health issues are worse in the morning so I can’t get out of here until after 10 a.m. at the earliest. So health first. I’m not attending this seminar.

House and property work (excluding gardening) – I have made a list of who does what and that includes the two handymen. And I ride herd on either of them to get them here to do the job. Also hinging on the when for the main handyman is when I book a furnace cleaning, so the two don’t happen the same day. See what I mean by too much going on at once? I’m also following my cousin Ron’s advice about housework/housecleaning, i.e., lower my standards about what I do and do less. So just basics weekly on weekends – laundry, vacuuming and cleaning kitchen counter, sink and stovetop. Dusting only every four to six weeks and cleaning the bathroom – maybe every two to three weeks. Sorting stuff out – winter project. We are still in fall.

Have also made a gardening – fall cleanup list and am going through it now – this one is a pleasure. Also connected to this is preparing food for the winter and that is not going well – time problems again. I want to dry some of the oregano that’s in the garden and try to dry some apples and bananas. I’ve at least bought the dehydrator (used to have one until it died a few years ago). For fresh vegetables and fruit for the freezer – so far a few corn-on-the cobs I bought at a farmer’s market, plus local wild blueberries purchased from a greengrocers, and the black raspberries and rhubarb from my garden. Still need beans for sure. Problem? Finding time to get to a farmer’s market including when I can actually prepare the vegetables right after purchase. That’s being sorted out after….

I sort out my writing and book promo and speaking engagements. Too many too close together although I’m not complaining about doing well selling  books at Word on the Street on Sunday. But it’s the upcoming stuff – two big ones. Now I plan to focus on one per month – for October my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary celebration/presentations. The other one I’m involved with doesn’t happen until the end of November, so my participation in organizing my group’s part (not EEWG) will not start until November 1. I also have to use my timer more – sometimes when a lot of email needs answering (not today – so far) I set the timer and when it rings I only finish the current email. Then there’s my third Beyond mystery book, which I’m not spending enough time writing. That is changing this week.

Some help from God would be appreciated.

To pull it all together I’m doing an update on the A, B, C, and D charts I use. Each has headings like “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do.” That one ties with “Want to Do/Have to Do” as my favourites.

My mother would be proud. She was very organized.

I’d like some comments on how you cope with time management (outside of shooting the clock).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Balance, Gardening, God, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Writing

Only Child on end of summer

Garden front of house

Tomorrow Sept. 23 is the first day of fall. So today is the last day of summer and winter is getting closer and closer. For someone like me who hates winter, that means I need to focus on something positive.

Every year about this time I start preparing for the big winter hibernate. No, I don’t go underground like the bears (although sometimes I wish I did); however, there are other things I do before I wind down somewhat – at least in how often I go outdoors, and softening the negative vision I see when I look out the window in winter – like snow, ice, dead brown trees and dead brown plants. I do not get anything positive from winter scenes and neither like nor participate in winter sports.

So, I focus on the preparation. I make lists of fall cleanup/fix-up repairs inside and outside and gardening cleanup, actual doing down some veggies and fruits (some from my garden and some from the farmers’ markets), and my list of and buying of grocery items – big items like toilet paper I really don’t want to cart home in the snow and other winter weather. Food items – yes, some canned, but many in bottles and dried – again so I have them here in case of bad winter weather. For October and November I add a bit more to my weekly grocery budget so I can gradually get all these supplies home (yes, batteries and the like included). No car, so have to do it gradually anyway.  And who will shovel the four-letter bad word for winter – snow.

My house and garden list has a column called “Who?” as in “Who will do?” I’ve already contacted my main handyman Mike to set up what he will do and when in early October. My friend across the street, Al, has given me a battery-operated tree trimmer and said he would trim the overgrown yews this time so in future I can keep up with it regularly (he said to remind him, so I have to do that). The fellow who cleans out the eaves troughs – mostly from all the black walnut leaves and branches from the trees next door (branches hang over into my patio but they give me summer shade) has already done one cleaning. There will probably be two more before mid-November.

At least the squirrels will disappear – as long as it’s not in my attic or anywhere on my property. So far they have made a mess with their bad “table manners” chewing on the walnuts – ruined the colour of the two patio chairs and dug up potted plants. One of my favourite phrases lately is “roadkill.”

So, on this last day of summer I am posting a couple of photos from my garden.

Then I have some last minute prep for a Memoir writing workshop – Writing Your Memoir from Pictures I’m teaching this evening at the Brentwood Library branch in the west end of Toronto.  It is free, although I do get paid to teach it.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

Roses in bloom late spring

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child's front garden

Raggedy Annie guards Only Child’s front garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Gardening, Grocery Shopping, Home and Garden, Lists, Memoir writing, Only child, Shopping, Snow Removal, Weather

Only Child trudges uphill

Teddy  points out my  time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Except for my garden, actually writing and meeting with old friends, this summer seems to be one big uphill venture for me. And that includes last Wednesday’s fall down – yes two days after being stung by a wasp. Then there is this on-again off-again respiratory sinusitis thing and other “normal” for me health issues.

My friends and I keep saying it’s just because we are getting old. I’m wondering if it is just that. We are all getting older and may not be able to do as much in a day as we used to. Our health may not be as good as when we were younger. But to yet again paraphrase that old Peggy Lee song “Is that all there is (to it)?”

My fall last week was 100 per cent someone else’s fault and I don’t mean God. No one pushed me either. But some careless b****** left picture wire outside and it blew onto the sidewalk up the street from me. I was wearing sandals and walking quickly to the main street to catch a bus. Normally I look ahead where I’m going, not on the ground. You guessed it, the unseen (then) wire got caught in a sandal and I went flying forward, sustaining a nasty large bleeding scrape on my right arm up to my elbow, a smaller scrape on my left knee, and bruises, bruises on my arms and legs. I’m still finding more bruises.

Of course with dripping blood from the arm I had to go home and apply first aid. But not before cursing the son of a ***** who left the wire out. So help me, if that person was around/and or I somehow could find out who he or she is, let’s just say they would be sorry.

It’s like I told my friend Carol the next day. This summer I have cursed so many people I don’t know for menacing acts.

It’s just turning into one of those summers, what with house issues and trying to find time to get things done. That includes my writing. When I finish dealing with the injuries and “ill health issues,” trying to organize my holidays and well, just getting out to get groceries it seems, I don’t have as much time to continue writing my third Beyond mystery book and promote the second one, Beyond Blood. Once into promoting and writing I get somewhere, but all that time I have to waste on the problems, etc. aggravates me.

Part of the problem is I have to deal with all of this on my own. No, I never want to live with anyone again, but a live-out partner would be nice.

Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. I am getting together with some old friends and more of that is in the works. Sometimes looking back is better than looking forward.

And those who keep saying “moving forward” (I hate that overused expression) can take those two words and stuff them

My toonie’s worth.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Falls prevention, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Life demands, Living alone, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Writing

Only Child on building and removing neighbourhood fences

Front of my yard onto street - no fences

Front of my yard onto street this spring – no fences

Good fences make good neighbours. That old American proverb is playing out in my neighbourhood.

Across the street a lady who has lived there with her son for a couple of years and hasn’t exactly been friendly with the neighbours is having a big, big fence built. She does talk to her next door neighbours, my friends Carol and Al. Good thing because at least she consulted Carol and Al about this fence. Al is keeping an eye on it and talks to the guy putting up the fence. Carol showed me this huge fence dividing the backyards. The fence looks over 8 feet high, well over the requirements for a backyard with a swimming pool, which this backyard doesn’t have…yet. The fence is solid wood, not lattice and continues at the back of this neighbour’s driveway at the entrance to her backyard. If I understood Carol correctly, the fence is supposed to extend along their neighbour’s driveway right out to the street. That means it will be against Carol’s lawn, making it look ugly.

So far there has been no sign of this fence extension and the fencers haven’t been around for over a week. Fences around front lawns usually look awful. It makes me think the people are building walls to keep out everyone, as if to say – nobody allowed here except us who live here.

Lower fences, ranch style in front look okay and if you have a corner property, higher fences are a good idea. People like to run onto corner properties and throw garbage on them. But make the fences the steel chain line ones. That’s what most of the neighbours on the corners have built.

Contrast this with my neighbour behind my next door neighbour. Yesterday morning he was actively tearing down the old fence dividing his property and my next door neighbour’s. He was over in the next door neighbour’s backyard. As I picked the annual crop of black raspberries (yes it is that time of summer), I wondered if I should say something to him. But I didn’t’ just then. A bit later when I was sitting at my patio table and eating breakfast, he called me over. In his hand he held a bunch of invasive weeds which he had pulled. He started talking about that and we introduced ourselves. Gary has been there also two years and has been getting to know his neighbours since. He knew something about the neighbours behind me that I didn’t know. He offered to pull those weeds from my garden along the fence from my side – with my permission. I said I had done a big sweep pulling weeds before the raspberries came out, but give it a week or two and when the raspberries are finished he could do so. We also talked about the racoons who are taking over the neighbourhood and he said they even tore open a bag of bonemeal he had on his deck. I asked him if my next-door neighbours knew he was in their yard. He said, “yes” and the two of them were going to build the replacement fence together.

A fence made of wood lattice – with open spaces in it.

What a difference a neighbour makes.

Good fences make good neighbours.

Which neighbour would you rather have?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Open front yard only Raggedy Annie on guard

Open front yard only Raggedy Annie on guard

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Filed under Friends, Gardening, Home and Garden, Only child, Raspberries, Sharon A. Crawford