Category Archives: Winter blahs

Only Child can’t wait for spring weather

From my front veranda March 2018

When I was a child my dad shovelled the snow. We never had eaves trough problems, freezing ice on the ground (except for the skating rink my dad made in the backyard). Perhaps a few icicles. But that was the extent of our winter weather. No worries and none of the rigamarole I have to go through with when it snows more than a few centimetres. I’ve had to get heat cables on the roof and into and outside the downspouts tand downspout extensions  – the latter several revisions by  my handyman until something (hopefully) worked. He also had to extend the downspouts on both ends in the backyard way out, placing them on top of bins. So getting onto the patio, etc. is a winding exercise. Plus I have to calculate when to turn on the heat cables, and roof and downspouts ones can’t be on at the same time or it will shut that circuit off. I’m forever looking up a tthe roof to see the level of snow still there, salting parts of the driveway, veranda, etc. The list is endless and so is my time wasted. I do have someone hired to shovel the snow. All this costs money, my money. No wonder as the month gets closer to the end, I have, as they say, more month than moneyals

It it isn’t house-related, it is health-related that steals my money.

So, while the above photo may look bleak except for the sky, I prefer the dry no snow on the ground to snow. It has been dry on the ground in Toronto for a few weeks. Sure there have been traces of rain and a few snow flakes, but they are not staying on the ground. So it looks dismal, but hey, not snow or ice – at this point.

Spring arrived today (12.15 p.m. noon with the Equinox) according to the calendar. The meteorologists’ predictions call for more snow and rain  as we get into April. Some rain I can handle (as long as it doesn’t get into my house. The gardens need the rain. And I need my gardens  0utside – soon.

Meantime, I’ve finally planned my outdoor garden, sent in my seed order to the seed catalogue company, bought a few heirloom seeds at a garden show (indoors) at the Toronto Botainical Gardens last month, attended Canada Blooms, and in the food department bave some basil varieties just starting to grow in a sunny window, am growing potato plant indoors (I get a few potatoes, albeit small), and one of the three rosemary plants I brought in last fall  is still doing well (so far). Plus tending my other indoor plants such as coleus, palm, various Spring cactus and the one begonia that has survived (so far) being brought indoors last fall. Some of these latter two are starting to bloom.

And I’m taking photographs of the dead gardens, live ones indoors (like at Canada Blooms) and looking at last year’s garden photos. Here’s one below.

How do you survive winter?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Sharon’s Day Lily summer 2017

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dad, Only child, Snow, Uncategorized, Winter blahs

Only Child on dark days of winter

winter-13505549207QUThe sun is shining right now in Toronto, Canada. That is a rarity in winter. Usually the days are so dull, grey and dark that I need a flashlight to see the dirt to mop and dust in the house.

And even with lights on the subject, I find it hard to see using my laptop in winter…even with the sun shining. It just doesn’t shine like it does in spring to early fall.

My eyes are bad enough without this.

Used to be – even up to a few years ago, that something about winter interested me. As a child in the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s I slid down the hills in the school yard. I walked to and from school in knee-deep snow, threw snowballs. I didn’t have to shovel snow then. My dad did that.

In the early to mid-2000s I would cart along my camera and take winter streetscape shots. Once I went into the large Mount Pleasant Cemetery in mid-Toronto, stomping through crusted snow (some ice pellets had fallen a few days before on top of the snow) and snapped photos of tombstones in the snow.

Cemetery Knarled tree and cross

Not any more, even with a digital camera. It sits silent in the winter, except for family shots. I haven’t ice skated in decades and any winter sport does not interest me. Even going for walks in the winter is a chore. It is too cold and takes forever to bundle up. Then there is whatever is underfoot on the street to walk on or around. True, this winter in Toronto (so far) hasn’t been bad. And in December when we still had unseasonably warm weather I did enjoy going out and walking around. I know many other areas in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Japan are getting hit with worse winter weather. But it is all the winter season.

Now, just going out to mail a letter requires serious thoughts as to when. So does grocery shopping and shopping for health supplements. Despite my stocking up in the fall, there are some things you can’t stalk up on. And being a senior on a limited budget I do consider when what store has seniors’ discounts.

But to top it off, I miss my outdoor garden, now a white/brown desolate mess. That old Christmas carol titled In the Bleak Mid Winter (based on a poem by Christina Rossetti) says it all.

I’ve even resorted to planting lettuce and basil indoors, even potato eyes, although the latter will probably only produce a plant.

So, I look at gardening books and magazines, count the days until the big Canada Blooms show in March, and do some sorting of all the paper clutter (I’m the type who hides all that away in drawers). And write. The latter – always.

How are you spending winter?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

King St

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mom and Dad, Only child, Snow, Walking, Weather, Winter blahs, 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 on weather and moods

Only Child on patio - not quite like this in January but warm enough for a light jacket.

Only Child on patio – not quite like this in January but warm enough for a light jacket.

What a difference a day’s weather makes. Last Saturday I woke up to the sun shining and the temperatures rising. Toronto hit a record high of 15 degrees Celsius and the next day temperatures reached the same. Only difference was Sunday started out grey and rainy – but that soon dissipated into sun patches. Didn’t matter to me. I noticed a big boost in my mood and attitude especially when I saw the snow melting.

I took full advantage of the day – walking to and from the grocery store (about a mile and a quarter all tolled), and went out in the garden. In January I dug up some of the turnips and carrots still out there, found two green onions, and clipped some euonymus branches (a pretty pink, white and green blend) which I placed in small vases to eventually replace two poinsettias which will soon be finished for the season.

And I sat outside on my patio to eat lunch and read the newspaper.

In  the middle of January.

Sure beats the winter blahs. I don’t get it as bad as those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and need to use artificial light therapy to raise their spirits (see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195 for more info). The most I get is feeling cranky about the dark days with some energy loss at different times. I also resent the short days and long nights so when we get sun (even with the cold weather) the whole day looks different…as long as we don’t get snow.

Snow may look pretty when it first falls down – until the road ploughs and salters do their work. Sloshing through slush and skating on ice patches don’t sit too well with me – in fact that is the position I sometimes end in thanks to these weather conditions.

I don’t do winter sports – skiing, snowboarding or even ice-skating. I used to do the latter in my “earlier years” (and that includes as a young adult) but gave it up because it was too cold for my comfort and enjoyment. Twenty years ago I gave away my figure skates to a co-worker for her daughter.

It wasn’t that way when I was a child. My father hosed down the front part of the backyard and overnight it became instant skating rink. Mom was determined to teach me to ice skate – it took two winters, when I was seven and when I was eight. I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt from my memoir about skating as a child.

Like a dance instructor trying to teach steps to a nervous wannabe, she grabs my hands and tries to get me in motion.

“Come on Sharon. Just slide your feet, one foot in front of the other.”

My feet, tucked tightly into new white figure skates, scrape and totter along the ice and my fingers dig into her hands, my mittens no protection for the hard petrified squeeze they give her. I do not want to fall. I might break a leg. I’m terrified of losing control, so I continue to cling to Mom as she steps backward, sometimes in her rubber boots and sometimes in an old pair of Dad’s black hockey skates. I follow forward like a drunken clown.

Two winters of this private slide and lurch pass. The December I turn eight arrives.

“You’re ready for Dieppe Park,” Mom says. (excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford)

Happy winter.

During the dark days of winter, please check out the video of my interview about my short story writing and mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, October 2012). Interview was with Hugh Reilly on Liquid Lunch (thatchannel.com) which my son finally edited and my publisher posted to You Tube. Here is the link – you can watch it here or click on the You Tube button and watch it on You Tube

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Beyond the Tripping Point, Family, Gardening, Ice Skating, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, short story collection, Snow, Winter blahs

Going soon summer – Only Child dreads winter

Only Child’s front garden – soon to go dormant for winter

It’s raining outside and when that is over it will start to get cool in Toronto. A reminder that fall is very near (this Friday to be exact). I don’t mind early fall, except for frost which sends me running out into my garden in the evenings to cover tender plants. Just trying to lengthen their season because I know the tomato plants, the nasturtiums, etc. will soon die and the perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, phlox, artemesia and rue will soon die down for the winter.

I dread winter. I don’t get SAD but winter makes me want to hide inside; then I get somewhat claustrophobic and want to get out but hate the cold, snow (walking through and shovelling), the ice and cold weather. So I bundle up and go out to walk and meet up with friends and colleagues. And try not to fall down.

To tell the truth I want another “winter” like last winter. The weather was rarely cold and the snowfall so little my snow shovel might be stiff from lack of exercise. One and a half bags of sidewalk/road salt still remain inside and I hope they can stay in the same position this coming winter. Some people complained about the grey weather with little sun but I prefer that to cold, snow and ice.

Cold or cool/warm winter, one thing will be the same. My garden will go dormant and it will look grim and dungy in the front and back of my property. One year I took photos of all the bleakness of winter. Perhaps I will do so again this year. I will also bring my garden inside – well, what I can of it – some herbs, coleus, English ivy, citronella, even a couple of pepper plants (one survived indoors through last winter and went on to blossom and produce peppers outside this summer). I will take cuttings from some of my plants to create more and visit the nearby garden centres/florists for more indoor plants to create my own indoor garden oasis of coloured leaves and some flowers. Come late winter/early spring I’ll fill my windowsill with seedlings – the start of tomato plants, flowers and herbs for next summer’s garden.

As for walking – if it’s slippery and snowy, I may resort to mall walking or go to what is called The Path – a winding indoor walkway featuring shops and connecting to various places in downtown Toronto.

When “hiding” inside my house, I can continue rewriting my mystery novel.

One has to try to look on the bright side – even if the weather doesn’t.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Indoor Gardening, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Walking, Winter blahs

Only Child on grabbing happiness in winter

Only Child age 8 but obvsiously not on the skating rink.

If I go back to when I was 8 years old, I see a time when I embraced winter – snow, cold and especially ice. After Mom taught me how to skate on the backyard rink Dad created, she turned me loose in Dieppe Park. I write in my memoir:

I clutch the skate guards, one in each hand, and stagger slowly. I look around and see people – old, young, even some wielding hockey sticks – they’re supposed to be in the hockey rinks. I take a cautious step onto the ice and almost lose my footing; when I point one skate guard out, I find my balance. I put one foot in front of the other, hold both skate guards out and I’m off.

It is exhilarating and scary but I am skating around the rectangular rink. No one can call me stupid now. I am gliding and… One of those hockey-wielding teenage boys nearly crashes into me as he takes the corner too fast. I clutch the skate guards and skate on the spot. Then I get my momentum. I can skate.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

Not anymore. I gave away my skates 20 years ago and just the thoughts of snow, cold and ice are enough to make me wish I could afford to spend winter in a warm climate…almost.

You see, I may regard the beginning of each winter day without much joy – getting up as daylight tries to poke its way out (sunrise 7.51 a.m. – it expands about a minute a week) is not my idea of bright joy. Too cold to go out into the garden and if the sun doesn’t actually show up then, having to turn on a light to see the coffee pot on-switch is pathetic. But once I get a few cups of coffee in me and get dressed, usually I see things in a brighter light. And if the sun actually comes out (as it did just now), my whole atmosphere changes drastically to big smiles.

The health experts and studies show that this lack of light in winter can cause some people to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Because I snap back fast usually (unless one of my eight health problems is acting up or I have too much administrative consumer stuff to deal with) and retain my joy and passion in most of what I do, I don’t believe I have SAD. If you want to read more about SAD, go to Pub Med’s article on Seasonal Affective Disorder at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/ You will be surprised as it is not all lack of light.

So, if like me, you sometimes get a smidgeon of winter blahs and your budget won’t let you visit warmer climates, what can you do to get some happiness? First I suggest you do some reading on what exactly happiness is. There are many books and Internet postings on the subject and everyone has his or her own idea. Just Google it. You might want to check out an Ipsos study done on Canadians’ happiness last year. It has some startling, yet not-so-surprising results. According to this study, 18% of Canadians are extremely happy, 43 moderately happy and 39 are what the study calls “downright testy.” The study showed three main factors that tipped the happiness scale: living debt-free, living in a romantic relationship, and having some sort of spirituality. High on the list also was having a passion for something you are doing in your life. (See http://www.creditcards.ca/credit-card-news/author-qa-debt-and-the-happiness-equation-1278.php)

According to that study, I fall somewhere between testy and moderately happy. I have some sort of spirituality (wacky, some people might call it) and I am doing what I have a passion for – writing, teaching writing and editing, gardening (in the summer, although I try with indoor plants in winter), reading, walking, etc. This study has shown me that happiness is a combination of outside factors and inside factors. A psychiatrist once told me that it might not be happiness per se you seek but some form of contentment. The bottom line to me is you have to work with what you’ve got to lift yourself out of the blahs and make some happiness in your life. For each of us that may differ.

Here’s my personal list to start on the road to happiness.

Do something you feel passionate about – daily.

Express your gratitude for what you have – daily.

Go for a walk or get some exercise – what you like, not what others say you “should” do – daily.

Listen to soothing music.

Read a book.

Watch a movie, TV programs you like (but not more than three hours max. a day).

Meditate and take deep breaths.

Solve your problems – one at a time.

Get together/talk to and email friends and family – but watch they don’t take over your time.*

Get enough sleep.*

In the next couple of postings I’ll be blogging about time issues and sleep issues and how they get in the way of our happiness. Meantime, read The Happiness Plan by Sarah Treleaven and
Astrid Van Den Broek http://www.chatelaine.com/en/blog/happiness_plan and books about happiness, such as The Happiness Equation: The Human Nature of Happy People by John Hallward (Price-Patterson, 2011) and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Craft Rubin (HarperCollins Canada, 2009).
How do you deal with the winter blahs?
Cheers.
Sharon Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Happiness, Ice Skating, Only child memoir, Passion, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Winter blahs