Tag Archives: Alone

Only Child on rebooting your life

House front of my childhood home

Growing up an only child can often unleash a myriad of feelings. In me, the negative ones  were fear, loneliness, and often being the victim of bullying. My late mother used to help combat this by setting up a restful situation which I now call “rebooting my life”.

I was still in grade school, around eight years old. On sunny summer mornings when no one was around to play with, Mom would set up the card table, a chair, my big box of crayons, my colouring books and me outside on the front veranda. I could colour to my heart’s content. But more so, I got the chance to look around at the green grass which my Dad (sometimes with my help) mowed with the push mower, at the shrubs and  roses and at the quiet neighbourhood. Occasionally I heard a bird chirp. Seldom would a car whiz by on the street which I faced and never would a wasp dare to come near me – at least  not that I remember. But once in a while someone, maybe a neighbour I knew or didn’t know, would walk by on the street below. We would give each other the friendly eye and smile.

Today I do my own version of Mom’s rebooting my life. When things get overly problematic and/or busy (which they have this summer) I go out into my garden. I may dig in and remove weeds, pick berries or collect vegetables, but often I sit outside to eat my meals at the patio table in the backyard. Sometimes I sit in the shade of my neighbour’s overhanging black walnut tree and look out at the garden or read. Sometime I take photos of my garden. And yes, I do sometimes sit out front on my veranda, but I don’t colour. The recent trend (probably now passe anyway) of adults colouring in adult colouring books never caught on with me. Could be because I am a professional writer and amateur photographer. You really wouldn’t want me drawing anyway. I can’t even draw a straight line – with a ruler.

View of today’s backyard garden from patio

Dusk view from my current front veranda

However, looking back at my childhood (I know – my age is showing), I realize Mom had cottoned onto a good idea. We all need to reboot from all the stuff in our lives.

Only Child’s home and garden for her health circa 2011

Do you reboot? If you reboot, how do you reboot?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, Crayons and coloring, Gardens, Life Balance, Mom and Dad

Only Child says don’t order me around

My Mom and Dad

When I was a child my mom and dad told me what to do. And so they should – that was part of their job being parents. Fast forward too many years to now and people are still telling me what to do – or trying to. I’m a senior and should be able to make up  my own mind, including weighing in on pros and cons of different situation.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for help, for suggestions from friends and family – the big word here is “ask”. It is the unsolicited advice – sometimes almost like orders I’m talking about.

That also doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to experts talk/suggest in well, their area of expertise. For example, with my handyman, Mike, if I call him in with yet another house repair problem. Sure, we can get into a discussion. But I listen to what he says and will probably have him do what he suggests – as long as I can afford it. Sometimes, the work just gets postponed until I can afford it – like the old rec room window that last month just started letting water ub during heavy rainfalls. That’s a closed window, folks.

And for medical/health advice, I listen to the experts and read expert info – although in the end,  a lot of that is up to me. But I don’t pretend to know everything. As a former journalist I am very familiar with the word “research” and do lots of that.

It’s when people who think they know what I should do start in. For example telling me to get the basement waterproofed now. When I explain there is the window to see to first, then they try to draw up a schedule for me to get it all done. They know I am a writer and have my third Beyond mystery novel to promote, etc., etc., so…

News flash: I don’t have a husband or any other type of partner. I’m in this myself so that means I have to do and/or organize everything in my life.

Not that I wouldn’t want some help and sometimes friends gift me their help – but they are not ordering me around. My son is also a big help, not just with computers but with a few practical things that surprise me. But he doesn’t push it.

Tbe big one that really gets my goat is this: If I am having so many house problems why don’t I sell it and move into a condo?

Oh, For you-know-whose sake! Is that the answer for us seniors living in our own homes? To those  who think this, I think “Get a life – preferably yours, not mine.”

Throughout my life I  have lived in apartments, townhouses, two-storey houses and bungalows. I live in a bungalow now and it’s the only type of home that appeals to me. So, I have a short answer for these meddling busy-bodies who ask “Why don’t you sell the house and move into a condo?”

Because I would rather be dead than give up my garden.

That shuts them up.

Sharon on patio backyard garden

Of course I have more practical reasons. But I am tired of going into them.

So, I say, I am a senior and as long as my brain is still working, I think I can decide what to do and when to do it. And I reserve the right to change my mind or move the timing of it and when to ask for help.

What do you say?

How do you deal with unsolicited advice to well, run your life?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Decision Making, Family and Friends, Garden, Help and Support, Life Balance, Only child, Problem solving, Seniors

Only Child stranded by public transit

Only Child and Mom

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child my late mother and I used to travel on Toronto’s public transit (TTC). We t00k buses, streetcars and the subway. It was like an adventure with Mom leading the way. I always felt when travelling with her we were good, and any problems that arose, she could fix them.

I wish Mom had been with me last Thursday when I ventured onto the TTC to an area I’ve only been to a couple of times before. These previous two times I returned home a different way from going there because I had errands to do. This time I wanted to come right home.

In preparation I did a trip planner on the TTC website. I might as well have mapped out a trip to Mars – the angry red planet – for all the good my planning did. And Mars would have been appropriate for some of what I felt when I finally returned home. The problems were caused by stupid bus drivers and even stupider bus schedules on the Woodbine C and D bus lines.

When I boarded the bus near my place I tried to verify with the driver that this Woodbine bus at some point goes all over Hell’s Half Acre in residential land instead of straight up to Lawrence Avenue. Bus driver verified that and told me to get off at Underhill. When I mentioned the trip planner online suggested another street beginning with “C” he had no clue. When the bus was arriving at Cardiff (voice and digital stop announcements are done electronically on Toronto buses), I rushed up to the front and told the driver “that’s the street.” His reply was how complicated it was to get to the stop going west on Lawrence as where I actually saw the bus stopped on Lawrence was going east (it appeared to be going west).

So, I stayed on to Underhill and got off. When I asked about getting on around here to return home he said I could get on at Underhill but it was better to stay on to Victoria Park and transfer there from the Lawrence bus. That was going out of my way and made no sense because it’s the Victoria Park bus line there and why would I want another bus change (and another transfer from the Victoria Park bus) to get home when the Woodbine bus was supposed to take me right home?

I noted tha on the south side of Lawrence the street was called Railside, and boarded the Lawrence East bus to my destination – the Toronto Botanical Gardens library to do some research for a personal essay. After that I walked back to Don Mills Road to the public library to pitch my writing workshops and crime writing talks to the librarian.

Then I walked to the nearest bus stop on the south side of Lawrence just east of Railside. Common sense told me that the Woodbine bus that turned up Underhill when I was going west, would come back that way and turn east on Lawrence. What goes up must come down.

Not exactly. I waited for almost half an hour. I talked to another woman waiting around and she said she thought the Woodbine bus came back down Underhill and turned left onto Lawrence.

Wrong!

Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw a Woodbine bus (C or D – couldn’t make that out on the front from the side) come barrelling down Underhill right across Lawrence and down Railside. It stopped at the stop just below Lawrence. I ran there – but I had  to cover part of a block on both streets and missed.

There was a map of sorts on the post at this Railside stop. Very confusing as it didn’t show where the Woodbine C and a B came back from Underhill and York Mills. A D bus  route was drawn in using broken lines – but only for the Railside portion. Times given for its arrival at “my” stop were only for rush hour and didn’t coincide with when the bus I missed had arrived.

I felt scared and alone. How was I to get home? I couldn’t afford a cab – even if one came by. None did. But several Woodbine C buses came by along Lawrence going west and turning north on Underhill. None of them came back.

The Woodbine D finally did (and not at the scheduled time) and I got on. I asked the driver  where does the C bus gets back to Lawrence.

He said “Cardiff.” The same bloody intersection where the C bus driver when I was going to the TGB library told me not to get off at. If I had, this would not have happened.

This D bus driver wasn’t all that knowledgeable either because when I asked him how often the D bus ran he said “I don’t know.”

And this D bus did get me home but not before going over to Victoria Park Ave. – which is not on the route going the other way. So I panicked and charged up to the front of the bus to make sure the bus was going to my stop. Now it was clear what the bus driver going had meant by taking the Lawrence bus back to Victoria Park. I have also noticed on previous Woodbine bus rides from the south end to my place that sometimes the bus drivers take 20 minute breaks at the south end. From what I can figure out, it’s not all their fault. It’s the wonky schedule.

Of course I put in an online complaint to the TTC, including the Woodbine bus schedules need overhauling so that routes going and coming travel the same way (well in reverse order to each other of course) to avoid confusion. Only exception would be extra rush-hour service (like the Railside diversion). And I suggested they fix the bus time schedules and the map signs at the stops.

Now if my mother had been there….

I’ll write in a future post about my experience at the Toronto Botanical Gardens library. Only good thing happening last Thursday.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Mother, Mother and Child, Only child, Public Transit, Toronto, Toronto public transit

Only Child in scary storm watch

Winter storms now constant worry

Winter storms now constant worry

I’m doing this week’s post early (but setting it to go live the usual late Tuesday morning). Why? We’re in winter storm watch in southern, southwestern and southeastern Ontario from suppertime. Depending on where you live it could include snow mixed with ice pellets, freezing rain and then transitioning early morning to just rain for light rain Tuesday. High easterly winds coming with all this until 11 a.m. or so on Tuesday. Maybe power outages but hopefully not.

This week’s post was supposed to be my year-end tally of the good and bad that have happened in my corner of the world. That will have to wait until next week’s post. If I posted this week the bad would outnumber the good by a lot. May still outnumber the good, but maybe not so much as this week. Who knows? We live in a scary horrible world where no place is safe – and I don’t mean only the weather

One of my close friends is very sick with cancer. She was rushed to the hospital yesterday. Her son isn’t well either, so her husband is doing everything. For privacy’s sake I’m not naming them or giving any more details. Just saying they are among the friends who have helped me a lot and I am trying to help them where possible.

I am also trying to reach my son and his girlfriend. They were here Christmas Day and evening and we had a lovely visit, chatting and eating Christmas dinner. They brought the cooked ham (I’m allergic to turkey) and Martin did a few quick odd jobs around the house. Martin and Juni (who is a graphic designer) designed the background colours for my new website in the works. I’m working on content, but the three of us sat at my desktop computer (with Martin doing actual computer stuff) to sort out content layout and even content and where it should go.

Boxing Day early morning they left early for the Ottawa Valley area in eastern Ontario. Yesterday that area got hit with hours of freezing rain. I have emailed but no response so don’t know what their situation is. They are staying at the home of Juni’s aunt and uncle. I’m going to try phoning my son’s cell but who knows if there is cell reception there or what.

The three of us did talk about the impending storm for the Greater Toronto Area and beyond coming today and they thought they might wait to leave to come home until Tuesday. But more storm is coming their way then. I suggested we keep in contact by phone and email Monday and Tuesday because of this weather.

I hope they are all right.

Meantime, back on the home front, I’ve gone into emergency disaster mode – everything from batteries to non electric radios (I have an old Walkman, although it’s difficult to see what station you are on and the old ghetto blaster can be used with six C batteries – if you get them all in correctly). Have a land line with cords (can’t use the wireless landline extension during power outages) so hopefully the phone service doesn’t go. Don’t want power to go either. But have flashlights (and extra batteries), candles (but I’m leery about using them much for safety’s sake). Have done most of the emergency profile/info from the Ontario government page – to help me do what I need to do – as much of it as I can.

It is all a big worry.

Not safe anywhere in the world – England has floods in York area, southern and midwestern USA – tornadoes, twisters, rain, snow, floods.

Yuck.

Anyway, let’s hope 2016 is much better in all ways for everyone.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Floods, Hydro power outage, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Leaky Basements, Mixed Perceptation, Only child, Uncategorized, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child on living barely above the poverty level

Only Child  contemplates some harsh financial realities

Only Child contemplates some harsh financial realities

I received a shock on Sunday when I was interviewed for a survey at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. For one question, “What is your income level?” the lowest category started at $40,000. I just looked at the guy and asked, “Could you repeat that?” My reply? “Below the lowest category.”

I almost had to laugh when he asked how much I was spending that day at Harbourfront. Should have said “nothing, because I can’t afford to.” Instead I said “I don’t know.”

This is the way it is for those of us who live barely above the poverty level. In case you are interested, the poverty level for a single person on his or her own in Toronto is just under $19,000 annually.  Sometimes my monthly income from all sources is below or at the level that some of my friends have to pay monthly for renting a two-bedroom apartment. So, despite all the crap with the house, I am grateful that I do live in a house and have no mortgage.

I’m reminded of my parents and the everlasting budget, no doubt instigated by my practical-minded mother. In my memoir I write:

Late at night, long after my parents think I’m off in the land of nod, they discuss the family finances. Their loud whispers seep under closed hallway and bedroom doors.

“But we can’t afford that,” Mom says.

“We need . . .” Dad’s voice seems to hit the hallway door.

I throw off my bedcovers, sit up and strain to listen. I never get a clear idea about their plan until it happens or my parents discuss the revised version at the dinner table the next day, (Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford)

We didn’t live beyond our means but we were never in debt. Not so with me. My only ongoing debt is that line of credit but I try not to get into it if I can help it. All other credit purchases I pay off in full when due.

What irks me is those unexpected expenses coupled with client work expected to arrive and it doesn’t because it is not ready for editing or evaluating.

That’s what happened this month. I budgeted to pay for those  two new window blinds, long needed. (The kitchen one fell on me last summer and the bedroom one was falling apart bit by bit for years). I ordered the service at the annual Home Show and Sears gave me 10 per cent off. This month I did receive a couple of extra payments including the final fee from a client whose worked I finished late in June. There should have been enough for the regular expenses and to pay Sears for the blinds.

However, I had to buy a dehumidifier, pay my lawyer for updating my will (he does give me a discount because I’m an old childhood friend), and the city water and waste bill usually coming in August arrived this month. (Is this a permanent schedule change that the city officials forgot to tell us?) When I totalled all that up, guess what? It’s about the same amount as I owe Sears for the blinds. So without the new work and its deposit payment, I have to hit the few and dwindling RRSPs – again this year – to pay my Sears bill on time.

The race is on which will go first – me or the RRSPs. No bets on this end and at this point I’m not sure I care.

My garden and writing are my salvation – the former for many things including a food source and the latter to help earn a living and to write about the highs and lows of living poor and also writing fiction – sometimes with ideas from my life, often creating disturbing stories.

Maybe you have to live hard in order to write good stories. My mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, fall 2012) attests to this. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC505OMPiVNy27zCFfND_8WA    which has videos of me being interviewed about my book and one (three minutes long) where I read from one of the short stories, “The Body in the Trunk.”  A disclaimer here. No, I have never transported a body in a trunk or any other way for that matter. After all, I don’t drive and can’t afford a car.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Budget and budgeting, finances, Gardening, Home and Garden, Mom and Dad, Money, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford

Only child on being a Worry Wart

Only Child contemplates worrying

Only Child contemplates worrying

In my memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, I write

Try not to look ahead at what might happen tomorrow, next week, next year, or the worry might kill you. Mom and I could tie for first prize as Worry Wart of all years, always putting our minds through gymnastics about what could happen. (Copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford).

Yep, that’s me. How much of a concern is it for people who worry? Dr. Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D of Cornell University received a shock when he asked hundreds of seniors what their greatest regret in life was. Time spent worrying was their biggest regret.

Not me. When I thought about it, it is not the time spent worrying but all the crap that gets shoved my way, all the stuff I have to deal with on my own because I don’t have a partner. In particular, the stuff I can’t (physically or skilfully) do myself. The current list includes: getting a new window unit air conditioner because the old one died late last summer – and getting someone to remove the old and put in the new; getting someone to help me bring home a few bags of topsoil and a bag of mulch for my garden (I don’t drive and don’t have a car so although Home Depot is three blocks from me I can’t physically carry the bags home. And I can’t rent one of their vans to do so). The two male friends I usually ask can’t this year – one has cancer so no way for him and I understand – the other won’t because of his car. I don’t ask my son because he has back problems and he is out of country on business for most of the month.

So a female friend to the rescue – Tanya next door will take me to Home Depot to get the topsoil bags and get her husband Alex to bring back the mulch in his truck – a bigger bag, mainly because she wants a number of mulch bags for her own garden projects and I’ll just buy the one bag from Alex. This one worried me for some time because it is something I can’t do on my own. I know it’s supposed to be “ask and you shall receive” but is it?

The other current worries are of the bureaucratic red tape stuff that involve work equipment or the house, i.e., renewing an extended service warranty on the laptop which after the three-year lease is no longer covered under the monthly laptop lease fee – but I can get the laptop lease itself extended on a month-by-month basis. I have to get a one-year extended warranty which can’t be transferred to the new laptop I plan to lease from this fall (the old laptop goes back to Dell then). Or I can take a chance on the hardware all working. Considering that I’ve had a memory card and keyboard replaced in a couple of previous laptops (with the warranty – so no monetary cost), guess what I will do.

The other is from the City of Toronto Water and Waste department – the notice in the mail says it is “mandatory” to get replacement water meters (or in my case where the meter was replaced 9 years ago – a retrofit) put in. If the old meter is behind a wall in the basement they will remove the wall and not replace it – just put on a cover that can be opened for any future shenanigans (my word choice). For replacing my old water meter back when, no walls were removed – it’s in a closet with lots of space in front and around it but a wall in back – they just moved out items beside it. Who knows what they will do for a retrofit. I haven’t called to book the time – too busy dealing with other worries. But I will be pretty clear on when they can and can’t get in – not until after the middle of June as my work, house and garden schedule is too busy until then.

Back to the seniors’ study on regretting worry. I don’t regret spending time worrying; it’s the “stuff” coming at me and overwhelming me to worry that is my concern. And that’s not regret; that’s resentment.

The “study” does give some advice from some of the seniors. I find one a good idea. Live one day at a time. I just think about the late John Lennon getting gunned down at 40 and his philosophy on living – something about life being what happens when you make other plans.

The article about Dr. Pillemer’s study is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karl-a-pillemer-phd/how-to-stop-worrying-reduce-stress_b_2989589.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Family and Friends, Gardening, Helping Others, Home and Garden, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only Child weighs in on eating to lose weight

Eat fresh foods where possible to lose weight http://www.arthursclipart.org/vegetables/veggiescol1.htm

Eat fresh foods where possible to lose weight

I’ve never been obese…yet, even as a child. The most I’ve ever weighed was when pregnant. In high school I came close to that pregnancy weight. After gaining five pounds over this past winter, I decided to do something about it.

“Thou shalt not” doesn’t sit too well on my stomach and when your tummy is your main problem due to a digestive disorder (that’s me), maybe looking at what you eat would help. So I trolled through the articles on http://www.besthealthmag.ca and found something really interesting – a slide show (not video) on Top 20 Flat Tummy Foods at http://www.besthealthmag.ca/swap-and-drop/top-20-flat-tummy-foods?slide=1.

Some of the foods and beverages included surprised me. Although one of my favourites, ice cream, didn’t make the list, dark chocolate did. Also included are green tea, olive oil, onions, lemon, cinnamon, cucumber, low fat yogurt, legumes, chicken, turmeric, quinoa, pears, berries, salmon, miso, eggs and greens (especially spinach). At some time or other, I eat or drink all but the olive oil, turmeric and quinoa (although I have the latter and when I figure out what to do with it, I’ll try it). This list has got me motivated to drink or eat more of the other items.

Comments for each slide go into the benefits of each food item – for your tummy and other benefits such as antioxidant (berries, for example). Green tea may take the cake (which is not on the list) because it has a great effect on your metabolism – drinking it often can increase weight loss (as well as bathroom visits, no doubt) but it also slows down fat absorption and is an antioxidant. My green tea supply has disappeared but this three-prong piece of information may get me going to replenish the supply and drink it.

Another article tells you how to beat belly fat http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/prevention/7-ways-to-beat-belly-bloat?slide=1. This one goes into some of the belly fat problems such as gas, bloating, etc. and references IBS. Suggestions include cut down on the salt, drink more water, peppermint tea and a baking soda-water combo (and live in the bathroom – it doesn’t say that).

For those who are focusing on the belly, you might also want to read Five Reasons Your Stomach  Hurts http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/health/5-reasons-your-stomach-hurts – it covers acid indigestion, IBS and hits on the gut-killer – too much stress. Pointers include to cut the stress, calm your nerves and slow because we are always in a chronic state of stress.

That last point says it all. You can try to slow down all you want but will that get rid of the stressors? Getting rid of the stressors has always been my idea of reducing the stress level. However, that is not always easy, especially if, like me, you are alone in the world and have to do and organize everything yourself. Sure, you can try to cut back on what you do (and I’ve blogged about that before), but in reality the stressor may be something you have to do (for example, a painful treatment for a disease, which some people have to go through). And what if the stressor is a person in your life? You can’t go around killing your stressors.

But…I am a writer and journaling about it, putting the “stressor” (disguised and fictionalized, of course) into a short story or novel, works wonders. A relative who really irked me was the inspiration for a bad person in one of my short stories.

And I can pay more attention to what I eat and drink from those 20 food suggestions. I’ll get over ice cream not making the list but…isn’t it written somewhere that we can cheat one day a week? Or eat our favourite food in moderation?

Ice cream does contain milk.

Happy eating.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under antioxidants, Digestive disorder, Health, Only child, Overeating, Stress, Water