Category Archives: Shopping

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 looks at new way of grocery shopping

vegetables-for-saleDo you like to pick out your fresh fruit and bread yourself at the grocery store? Do you hate crowded grocery stores and long line-ups at the checkout?

Loblaw has started a pilot project called “click and collect” to fix the former but you give up the personal touch. For a small fee, you can pre-order your groceries at certain Loblaw stores online using your smart phone or computer. But, you still have to go through Loblaw’s products online to choose, then go to the store to pick up your groceries, although the store’s personal shopper will bring it to your car. The scenario could even get as silly as you sitting in your car in the grocery parking lot and ordering your groceries from your i-phone. Doesn’t make sense to me. If I’m going to order groceries online from home, I want the store to deliver them to my door. I still have to pay extra either way. I also like to choose the fresh products myself. And what about if the store is out of a product that is not on sale. Can’t get a rain cheque for that.

When I was growing up we had three grocery stores within walking distance to choose from, although we lost one to a beer store. Still two left. Many people walked to grocery stores and wheeled their purchases in a bundle buggy. That’s what my late mom did except when she sent me to pick up a few things such as bread and milk. I made a point of shopping at Loblaw then because they had a huge magazine rack in the veggie and fruit department. I liked to stand there and flip through the movie star magazines and sometimes I even bought one.

After Dad died, Mom sold the house and we moved into a nearby two-bedroom apartment. I was working then so got into the grocery-shopping act. As I write in my memoir

I’m giving her part of my salary to pay for the food and with her help, I’m learning to plan menus and do a grocery list, based on the specials at the different grocery stores. I wheel the bundle buggy up the street to the IGA and sometimes if I’m early enough I don’t need the buggy – they will deliver. Or I go further up the street to the Loblaw’s. (Excerpted from You can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2014,  Sharon A. Crawford.)

Back then you ordered (by phone) from the Sears or Eaton’s catalogues and not food except maybe Christmas cake and candies. For groceries, you got off your derriere and went into the store, picked out your food, etc., went through the check-out and brought your groceries home. The only deliveries to your door were bread, milk and ice. Yes, I said “ice.” One of the neighbours down the street still had ice delivered – this was in the mid-1950s.

Methinks this new Loblaw’ trial project caters to people with cars, and smart phones, too. Although you can order from your home computer. But news flash Mr. Galen Weston Jr. and other big whigs at Loblaw’s. Many of us use public transit and our feet to bring our groceries home. If you are going to go the pre-order route, why not add in the delivery? Other grocery stores do – like Longo through Grocery Gateway.

Otherwise it is like having half the ingredients, half the service, half the experience.

And it is still work for the customer.

For stories on this new service go to

http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/10/24/loblaw_launches_clickandcollect_service.html

and

http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1164433/loblaws-preparing-drive-thru-groceries-pilot-project/

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, Fresh produce, Grocery Shopping, Loblaw Click and Collect pilot project, Sharon A. Crawford, Shopping

Only Child says foul to no toys

tree05The spirit of Christmas has disappeared from some of Canada’s department stores – at least for children. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I walked into the main Sears store in downtown Toronto on Sunday to find their children’s toy section had disappeared. Oh, a few selections of toys were scattered on shelves in the children’s clothing section but Children’s Toys were still listed in their directory posted on each floor by the escalators. Down the street at The Bay, children’s toys are no longer in their posted directory.

Santa’s rolly-polly stomach must be churning at this turn of events. The Grinch must be cheering – if grinches can cheer. Sure, toys are online (and in Sears case in their catalogue) but some of us like to get up close to choose toys for our children, grandchildren and in my case, a friend’s eight-year-old son. And what about the kids themselves? No more checking it out in person. Have we turned so technologically crazy that the personal touch has been booted out into cyberspace? Sure, we have stores such as Toys ‘r’ Us specializing in toys and more power to them. They haven’t forgotten the joys of experiencing toys up close.

When I was a child (back in the grey ages) it gave me great pleasure to look at toys in stores – whether big department stores (then it was Simpson’s and Eaton’s in Toronto) or what we then called “dime stores” such as Woolworth’s and Chainway. Afterwards, I would go to my parents and “Santa” and make my Christmas toy wish known. I usually received one toy that I wanted.

As I’m a former journalist I had to dig further about this toy disappearance. I asked a couple of sales clerks in the Children’s Section in Sears and received two different answers.

The first clerk lied. She pretended that there was a toy section but it was out in the corridor. She belongs out in the corridor at the very least. Clerk No. 2 was honest – she said Sears dropped in-store toys two months ago because children would knock them off the shelves, some were broken, but also in-store sales weren’t doing well, but toys are available at Sears online. I also talked to a lady in management and she said she didn’t know but to check online at www.sears.ca. I did and went to Sears Canada corporate section (see “Sears Canada Reports Third Quarter Results” http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=117881&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1757870&highlight=) and also read a Globe and Mail newspaper story, “How Sears plans to get its mojo back” by Marina Strauss, May 25, 2012, which is about the new Sears Canada President and CEO, Calvin McDonald. Read this story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/how-sears-plans-to-get-its-mojo-back/article4209711/ and decide for yourselves what you think. Among other things, Mr. McDonald planned to have Sears eliminate toys in-store (but not online) and other items not selling well from in-store to try and bring the profits back to Sears. I blame dismal sales partly on not enough advertising – in the past few months Sears flyers have been almost non-existent. News flash! If you don’t tell them, they won’t come.

While I may have to live with the new reality of no toys at these department stores, one thing stands out. If you are going to dump toys from the in-store roster, why do it two months before Christmas?

I won’t be ordering a toy online for my little friend next door. I’m headed for a bricks and mortar store that carries toys. I want to see and feel the toy first before I buy it.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas spirit, Grinch, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford, Shopping

Only child goes out into the garden

Only Child and her late Mom in the backyard garden. Mom is sitting in a Muskoka chair.

This morning before starting work I went out into the garden. I do this every day to relieve the stress before it gets to me. The plan was to transplant some basil, nasturtium and a coleus, and put the hose away because we are supposed to finally get some rain. Then I planned to sit out on the patio and eat breakfast.

Instead I stared at some of the many weeds and started yanking them. I know weeding is therapeutic (especially when you pretend the weeds are your problems and/or the problematic people in your life). However, weeding is turning into a routine almost every time I head out into the garden. This helps with decreasing the weed population – for now. But there is more to gardening than pulling weeds.

I am enjoying the lush early display of roses thanks to our early hot weather and snapped a few photos this morning. I do “tour” the garden (and snatch up weeds as I walk around) and I do sit out in the garden and actually do nothing but drink wine or water and read a book. And eat my meals out on the patio or on the veranda while sitting in my new Muskoka chair (a holdover from my childhood when that’s what you sat on in the backyard or on the veranda).  Maybe the weed yanking is also a family holdover. My mother was a gardener and she did a lot of weeding. She also grew beautiful rose bushes, including red roses climbing around an archway.

Still, I can’t help thinking that I need an attitude change here. I need to go into the garden to enjoy it – whether I am weeding or reading or planting or touring. This is my escape from the harsh realities of my life. Heck, most of the time I don’t even take the cordless phone outside. If anyone wants me they can leave a message – unless they are telemarketers – they can go, to put it politely, where the sun doesn’t shine.

And speaking of gardening and reading. A study at Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands featuring people spending time in the garden and spending time reading shows that gardening relieves stress more than reading. I wonder if reading in the garden would relieve stress even more. Check out the study published in 2010 at http://hpq.sagepub.com/content/16/1/3.abstract

I did transplant the nasturtium and basil but left the hose lying in the driveway. We’ve had so many wrong forecasts of rain in the past two weeks. I’ll believe it’s raining today, when it actually rains.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child’s late Dad under Mom’s rose archway

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Home first memoir, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child memoir, Problems, Reading, Roses, Shopping

Only Child does Retail Therapy

Only Child wearing the old now tattered jeans - obviously when jeans saw better days.

Retail therapy is good for you. It can increase your life span according to a study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Maybe my mother was on to something with our frequent shopping adventures to the department stores in downtown Toronto and the shops on the Danforth. As I write in my memoir:

The 1950s and early 1960s were the heydays of the big department stores – the Simpson’s and three Eaton’s stores downtown. The latter stores originated with a small Toronto shop, which Timothy Eaton opened at Queen and Yonge St. in 1869, and replaced with the four-storey flagship Eaton’s in 1883.  In 1930, The ritzy Eaton’s College St. Store opened at College St. and Yonge St. [See “Eaton’s” and “The Carlu” on Wikipedia.]  Mom turned up her country nose at it and steered me towards its opposite, The Eaton’s Annex, Albert St. Did Mom gravitate towards this store because its three storeys and basement sat on a downtown street carrying Dad’s name? Or was it the anticipation and joy of flipping through clothes and shoes stacked on tables in the basement and if you were lucky, you’d find a bargain that you weren’t embarrassed to wear?

More than the clothes and shoes, I remember the soft ice cream, the elevators and the escalators.

“Hold onto the railing, Sharon,” Mom says as we stand at the top of one of these escalators.

 As I dig my hand into the railing and look down at the ridges before me, I hesitate, then gingerly place toes, then the rest of my feet on the escalator floor. I expect the floor to change to steps, like those at the main Eaton’s store, but it remains a series of slabs rudely jutting out. Riding up makes me feel as if I’m on a conveyor belt in a factory assembly line; riding down is akin to standing on the poor person’s roller coaster without the safety bar across your front.

The elevators, off in their own hallway, are an earlier version of panoramic elevators, except the view is inside the shaft while you wait outside the glass door for the elevator’s arrival. I close my eyes, hang on tight to Mom’s hand and try not to think of freefalls.

But we arrive safely back in the basement or “subway” as Eaton’s calls it. I know that I deserve the soft white ice cream whirled into a cone sold at a stand near the underground walk to the main Eaton’s Store. I also deserve the hot dog sold there.

(Excerpt from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon Crawford)

The study, mentioned above, showed that among older Taiwanese people, at least twice weekly shopping could raise life expectancy an average of 27 per cent. Surprisingly, men engaged in retail therapy more than women. Researchers believed it was not all about the buying but companionship and exercise could be factors.

Not for me. I wanted to buy. However, I had two items in mind – a new mini stereo system to replace the dud that died in January after just over two years of “service,” and a pair of “good jeans” to replace the pair  now sporting rips and holes. True, I was thinking of my Mom’s and my trips downtown as I rode the streetcar there and walked through the Eaton Centre (definitely not there back in the day). But successfully purchasing the two items needed without hitting more than one store (Sears, if you want to know. I didn’t even enter The Bay which now sits on the old Simpson’s store). Even the sprinkling of rain on the way home didn’t dampen the expedition. I just opened my umbrella and held it over the box containing the stereo.

So, can retail therapy help? Maybe as long as you don’t play shopaholic. The life expectancy criteria is still off the table for me – I’m not quite as old as the study’s participants…yet. But it sure lifted my mood.

Check out these websites for a couple of retail therapy studies.

Shopping and Retail Therapy Makes You Live Longer – Totally Living http://www.totallyliving.co.uk/health/2011/04/08/retail-therapy-raises-life-expectancy

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health http://jech.bmj.com/ (to search for article on the above)

Retail Therapy Effective at Improving Mood http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/retail-therapy-mood_n_882062.html

Your thoughts on Retail Therapy?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Eaton's, Mother, Only child memoir, Retail therapy, Sears, Sharon Crawford, Shopping, Simpson's