Category Archives: Snow Removal

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 lives in survival mode

Winter - will it ever end?

Winter – will it ever end?

I am tired beyond the proverbial eyeballs with living in survival mode. This has been going on for several months and it is eating into my writing time and well, any time to enjoy life. Not to mention the financial problems it is causing.

Last week’s post covered all these issues. The insurance one has been resolved and the ice jam in the eavestrough and one downspout area as well – for now. Didn’t need insulation. The cause? The awful winter (and whatever/whoever causes that). Lots of people are getting ice jams on the side of the roof where the sun shines – apparently caused when it’s cold and the sun shines there from the west (afternoon sun) as my handyman Mike found out from asking around. One of the roofers he spoke to had it happen at his house and he had his attic insulated to the max.

Not everyone is getting the added “blessing” of icicles forming on the outside of the downspout when it is cold and water dripping from the downspout joins when the temperature (plus sun shining) goes up a bit in the day. So, the water drips on the patio and when it freezes overnight – well you can imagine. That is also the corner where I have my rain barrel for summer use. Late fall I had shut off the downspout going to it and that part seemed to be working. So I’ve been busy trying to stop the ice and drips to no avail. Enter my handyman who had to remove the lower downspouts and one of the connections to the rain barrel and put in a very long extended “downspout” (sidespout?) out to the lawn where water can drip out. He also blow-torched the downspouts that remained, put roof melt pellets on the eavestroughs and cleared out the dangling icicles and the ice on the patio (salt in the area plus hacking the ice with my garden shovel).

Mike said he found no obstacles (leaves and branches) blocking the eavestroughs or downspouts. I told him the guy that cleans does a thorough job – three times because of the trees on the other side where there is no ice problem.

“You do what needs doing and then you get screwed,” was how I put it to Mike.

And all this begot unexpected financial hardship. Luckily my ex-husband sent me an e-transfer for part of the work. My April and May financial situation is very bad – property taxes just started up and then there are income taxes and a huge water bill in April. I will also need to get a new rain barrel (plus get a few other outside repairs not connected to the eavestroughs ice jam) done in the spring.

Gee, maybe it is good that spring will again be late and gradual this year – it will take April and May for it to become real spring weather, according to the weather network. Although I am fed up with all the excess snow shovelling and dealing with the city to get their d*** snow plough contractors to stop dumping the snow at the end of my driveway. Not to mention keeping downstairs taps dripping and insulating drains with newspapers to try to prevent frozen broken pipes when the temperature dips way way down.

I wonder how much damage to property and gardens God will have happen during March, April and May? We have snow falling down now and the weather forecast includes ice pellets and maybe some freezing rain in parts of Southern Ontario.

Remember I don’t believe in Mother Nature – no such person.

On a lighter note. Did anyone see (on the weather network, of course, my Bible) the video clip about Oklahoma US Senator James Inhofe who brought a huge snowball into the senate as a symbol that he doesn’t believe in global warming? Amen to him even though he got blasted for doing so. Watch it at http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/us-senator-fails-basic-science-tries-to-use-snowball-to-disprove-climate-change/46281/

And read some follow-up at http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/climate-skeptic-senator-burned-after-snowball-stunt/

With the past two winters in Canada and the US I also don’t believe in global warming. Climate change definitely. I just don’t believe in the cause given for it.

That’s my take anyway.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, finances, God, Life demands, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Snow Removal, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child on the winter snow blahs

winter-13505549207QUSouthern Ontario got blasted with a big snowstorm Sunday night into Monday – the first big one this season. Unlike winter sports enthusiasts and people who just love snow, I was and am not happy about all this. When I see people-on-the-street interviews on TV I just want to throw snowballs at the interviewees happy acceptance of snow.

Maybe if they had to shovel several driveways of snow in an afternoon they would change their minds. No, I didn’t. Had enough trouble shovelling my own driveway etc. Got part of it done and then came inside for a break. One of those itinerant snow shovellers knocked on my door to do the rest and $30 less later (Canadian so not really that much with the loonie’s rate under 80 cents on the dollar), it was cleared.

But my mind filled with worry isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I may hate winter with a passion, but I can accept the deep-freeze temperatures as long as we get little or no precipitation. And we were doing so well in Toronto, Canada up to Sunday. Small or smallish amounts of snow would arrive and then it would gradually warm up and the snow would disappear. Sure, it looked bleak outside but when I walked around I was grateful that it was dry. Even the smallish amount of snow we got last Thursday could have melted slowly.

Then we got dumped with 20 cm. Sunday into Monday morning.

So why do I worry?

  1. Getting it cleared out, obviously.
  2. Being able to get around for errands, meetings and to see friends and family. That includes public transit, some of which can’t seem to handle even small amounts of snow (like the buses in my area).
  3. Connected to the above, there is the risk of falling in slush, ice (when that snow freezes over), etc. I’ve already fallen on ice once this year, although before the big snowstorm. Luckily my thick coat saved me from injury.
  4. The snow ploughs cometh and park the ploughed snow in inconvenient places. I have to keep an eye on where so they don’t cover up the cache basins in case of…see No. 5 below. And yesterday a big road plough backed up and hit a car behind it. I didn’t see that but I sure heard the woman yelling at the plough driver. I was backing her 100 per cent.
  5. The inevitable meltdown (of the snow, not me), which will probably include some rain somewhere down the road and then I have to worry about water getting into my basement. Why? The ground is frozen; there is a lot of snow on the ground, and when rain falls on it, it can’t all get absorbed into the ground. The evestroughs and downspouts are filled with ice and get blocked. Often we get a snow and rain mix (one after the other) to make it even worse. With the little snow we had up to Sunday and slow melts in the sun, even some rain would not have poured water into my basement.
  6. When accompanied by high winds, there is the worry of fallen trees, fallen tree branches, fallen utility wires, and power outages.

Although I see no beauty in snow, I was glad last evening after dark when I saw three boys around 12 or 13 throwing snowballs at each other from the snow piled up by the snow ploughs. At least they weren’t indoors on the computer. However, I was not outside, but looking out the window in my front door.

Remember, snow is a four-letter word.

Shovels up or should that be down?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Snow, Snow Removal, Weather, Winter blahs, winter falls, Winter Weather

Only Child leans toward being wary

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

The wariness/trust issue took a different turn this weekend. I need to rethink my attitude here because guess what? I got betrayed.

For the winter I had hired someone to shovel the snow when more than just a few centimetres landed. Last Thursday evening into Friday, Toronto and other southern Ontario regions got blasted with a blizzard – 30 centimetres plus of snow. The fellow who was supposed to shovel the snow showed up twice to do it and afterwards made two points of knocking on my door promising to finish the rest – first he was going to shovel first thing the next morning. Of course he didn’t. He showed up early afternoon and said he would be back after lunch to do it and for me to just leave it for him to do – he’d be back in a couple of hours. He also made a point of all the seniors he shovelled snow for and that he couldn’t let them down.

If I’d have waited, I’d still be waiting. After five hours I went out there and hacked away at the snow still in the driveway, sidewalk and by two sides of the house. Sunday I was out there trying to remove the pile-up left at the end of the driveway (the sidewalk plough had removed some overnight) and the snow (layer by layer) over the two cache basins (but not the road spanning out from them). Then I went inside and phoned the 311 number for the City of Toronto and complained about the snow plough dumping the snow over the cache basins.

As for my “trusty” snow shoveller, because I prepaid for some of the weekend’s shovelling (I know; shouldn’t do this) he owes me at least half price for another snow shovelling job. Forecast is for a fair bit of snow here in a week. If he shows up I’ll get my half price deal and then I’m going to fire him with a lecture.

I also now know where he lives so am debating whether to bang on his door.

In the “good old days” when I was a child (back in the grey ages), my dad shovelled the snow and after he died Mom did the job until we moved into an apartment. As most of you know, I’m an “only person” here, so those two words are my key.

People have to earn my trust. Some close family and friends have, but some friends have messed up the trust issue as I’ve blogged before. Some clients also can be trusted. But for others – I will put on my journalism hat and be wary.

Unfortunately, as my late mother-in-law used to say, “that is the way of the world.”

On a lighter note, I will be taking my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) to the Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Library this evening to do a presentation and reading featuring my eccentric characters and quirky plots. At least here I have some control over what happens – the ones doing wrong get their just desserts in some way. For those in the Toronto area, my reading presentation starts      at 6.30 p.m. and the address is 2178 Bloor St. West, Toronto. More info on my Beyond the Tripping Point web page http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

And you can see and hear me read one of these stories, “The Body in the Trunk” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOKYgBfAwY&feature=youtu.be

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Betrayal, Beyond the Tripping Point, Friends, Learning Experience, Life learning, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow Removal, Trust

Only Child says SNOW is a four-letter word

Snow plough like the one Only Child takes issue with

Snow plough like the one Only Child takes issue with

Some of you already know I hate winter – the cold, the snow, ice storms, blizzards, etc. However, it is what the City of Toronto road ploughs are doing with the snow that has got my consumer hackles up and running.

First of all, the bureaucrats can’t agree on who does what or what the procedure is supposed to be. All I know is what I saw and found. First, the sidewalk plough fellow is doing an excellent job and no complaints there. However, the person manipulating the road plough is another matter. Apparently side streets are unfair game for homeowners if what happened in the so-called clean-up after the big snow storm Toronto got hit with overnight Boxing Day and into Dec. 27 is any indication.

The street plough had done its job; I had shovelled my driveway, veranda, and cleared over the one catch basin still covered in a little bit of snowfall on the road at the end of my property. (There are two catch basins close together there). For those who don’t know, catch basins have to be kept visible with no leaves or other debris covering them in spring to fall. In winter it is the snow – otherwise there is a risk of overflow of water during a thaw or rainstorm and it could land in the basement. Even the City of Toronto advocates keeping the catch basins uncovered. Somebody forgot to send the memo to the road snow plough person or as I suspect, this guy is stupid/doesn’t care/lazy – take your pick.

Just after I finished my snow shovelling job, this plougher (for want of a better word) started pushing all the snow in the middle of the road over by the side of the street in front of my house and part of the neighbour’s. Not content with piling it three feet (almost a metre) high, he let it fall over onto the sidewalk, leaving about the equivalent in width for one human foot to get through. The fellow who shovels my snow took care of the sidewalk after the next snowfall but the dumped snow on the road was too heavy then for anyone to shovel manually.

So I phoned 311 – the number for all complaints, etc. for city work. Without going into a detailed harangue, here are the different stories I got from two 311 people (I phoned twice, so far), my councillor’s assistant and my councillor (my comments are in brackets):

  • The supervisor for the department handling snow removal came to the site and took photos and said the contractor would be coming to remove the snow. Once the contractor is notified they come “soon” (“Soon” must be another four-letter word because it is now January 8 and no one has showed up to move the snow dump).
  • The contractor is monitoring the situation but nothing more now (How? By invisible noise-free helicopter?).
  • The City of Toronto looks after road and sidewalk ploughing but the snow removal is looked after by a contractor.
  • The City of Toronto looks after sidewalk ploughing but a contractor looks after road ploughing and snow removal.
  • The weather forecast calls for the possibility of a bit of rain tomorrow, but heavier rain is  coming this weekend.
  • Sunday it warmed up a little and about 8 inches of one catch basin was showing on the sidewalk side of the road. I managed to shovel a bit of it to make it a little larger but not by much and I couldn’t find the other catch basin and it was too hard to shovel through the snow dump. The height was still up to the top of my thighs.
  • Today is sunny so after lunch I will go out and see if I can remove more snow but I suspect I will be phoning both 311 and my city councillor’s office yet again. This time I won’t be polite.

I don’t remember my parents having to put up with this nonsense. Dad shovelled the snow; the ploughs did their job with the road snow and that was that. I also don’t remember ever having water get in the basement from anything outside. My late mother used to say we were safe because our house (and the houses in the neighbourhood) stood on a hill. Well, my house is up high, too, and only a few miles from the house I grew up in.

Sometimes going back looks like the better option. Time machine anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Mom and Dad, Only child, Rain, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Snow Removal, Toronto, Winter Weather