Tag Archives: Family and Friends

Only Child on why I’m angry about Covid-19

Siting in the chair instead of standing on it.

It is 5.45 a.m. and I am standing on a chair and reaching over to my smoke detector. No, no fire and no smoke (a plus) but the damn thing woke me up with a beep, then a few minutes later, another beep, then… and so on.

 

You guessed it – the battery needs changing. Because of the Covid-19 I can’t get a friend, my son, a neighbour or the handyman (all of whom have helped me with this in the past) to do this. I can’t and I will not have them coming into my house (even if they would do so) because we need to self-isolate ourselves for our own and others’ protection from this virus.

 

So there I stand, first trying to get up on the chair and then standing on it to change the battery. The damn beeping woke me up and I won’t get back to sleep if I don’t change it now. So, I risk my health and safety to do so – despite having a bit of arthritis in my right knee, despite getting sporadic occurrences of sciatica in my left thigh, and despite being blind in one eye.

 

I am swearing and yelling as I do this task. One thing I have learned over the years (and not just from this virus pandemic) is anger gives me strength – physical and mental. The trick is to use it for something positive and that is definitely NOT going around killing people. So, I manage to figure out how to open this newer smoke detector model (the old one died a year and a half ago and had to be replaced – by the handyman) and I manage to change the battery. For good measure I also change the battery in the nearby carbon monoxide monitor, although it appears to be still working. At least this one is reachable from standing on the floor, and as I have done this change before, I know what I am doing.

 

While I’m at it, I want to mention one other big hurdle to overcome because of the fallout and repercussions from this virus. But first I want to give thanks and praise for our government leaders – Canadian federal and provincial and especially Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief medical officers of health, for what they are doing. I like Dr. Tam’s no nonsense approach, but she is informative and not rude, not condescending , not dictatorial. And she has experience in dealing with pandemics.  Yes, our Canadian leaders have made mistakes and could have done more – like started earlier with some of the “procedures”. But they are out and up there doing what needs to be done to the best of their abilities.

 

Having said that, I have one big bone to pick with part of one procedure – what has been kicked off the list of businesses in Ontario that are essential – hardware stores. They were on the first round of essential businesses that could stay open, but went out the door (literally, if you need to do business with them) the first weekend in April. I was shocked. I depend on Home Depot, almost as much as the grocery stores, and I am sure I am not alone here – if the lineups to get in (which I saw on the news just before they had to close their doors) are any indication. True, they have online ordering with the option of pickup outside the store. But to do that you need two things I as a low income senior do not have – a car and a cellphone (the latter is also because of my vision problem. While I can see and read what is on my computer screen, cellphone screens are too small and never mind increasing the size to see three words at a time). The way the pickup at the store works is they let you know by email when your order is ready for pickup. You drive there, and when you arrive in the car lineup to pick up your stuff you call them from your cell phone.

 

So, if I go that route what do I do? Phone from home just before I leave and lineup up behind the cars? I will be phoning Home Depot later this week to see what they have to say. I know from previously seeing people on the local buses carrying stuff bought at Home Depot that I am not alone in being a walk-in customer.

 

Yes, there is ordering online for delivery. But not everything in the store is on the online shopping list. No plants, no yard waste bags (Home Depot has garden centres) and God only knows what actual hardware is missing from the list. And except for a few items, you have to pay for the delivery. Most of my list (at this point) includes stuff not on the free delivery list and I resent that because I live just a few blocks from Home Depot. So, I would walk there and buy what I needed and can carry. For the annual garden supplies I would ask a friend or the handyman (if he was picking up stuff to fix something in the house anyway) and I would go with them to pick out the supplies and pay for them.

 

Can’t do that now. Not safe for anyone. We have to stay healthy and try to help others to do so as well.

 

For those of you reading this who think I am way out of proportion in my thinking, think again. Gardening (as well as writing, connecting on Facebook and Zoom with family and friends, reading and walking) is for my health – mental, physical and spiritual. This damn virus has just made it more difficult.

 

And all because of some stupid unhealthy practices at open markets in Wuhan and their government’s lax laws on food health and safety, which started all this.

 

So, I will fuel my anger to get the things done for my house and garden – even if it means standing on a chair at 6 in the morning.

 

How are you coping with Covid-19?

 

Backyard summer 2019. What about this summer?

Cheers.

 

Sharon

 

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anger, Family and Friends, Gardening, Health, Only child

Only Child Christmases Past and Present

Many of us have rituals on Christmas Day and I am no exception. Except my rituals have changed. When I was a child, after Mom woke me up, she, Dad and I had breakfast. Then I was allowed to look in and empty my stockings. Presents under the tree had to wait a bit. Mom, Dad and I headed to church first, often suffering through the pastor’s long, long sermon. Afterwards we  walked home.

And then we “attacked” the presents. Previously a few days before, Mom and I had wrapped each other’s presents and Dad’s – with her in the kitchen and me in the dining room and the door between firmly shut. Until she needed more paper or scotch tape. She would give fair warning though so I could cover up the unwrapped presents. But on Christmas Day it was usually me who crawled over to and under the tree for the presents and handed them out. Of course I was doing this to try and figure out what was in the wrapped gifts and looking for that doll or other toy I had asked Santa for. My mother had a habit of hiding any unwrapped toy and bringing it in while we were opening the presents. So I got my doll.

Afterwards we relaxed  – sort of. I played with my doll or any other new toy and mother went to prepare the bird for dinner. I say “bird” because it often was not a turkey. Sometimes it was chicken, or a duck, or a goose, but no matter it all tasted good.

Fast forward many, many, many years to now (and also a few years ago). Like my parents before me, I have one child (got to repeat history here, you know), Martin, who is well beyond being a child. So, yesterday he and his girlfriend, Juni, came bearing presents, a bottle of white wine and a container of juice (the latter for Martin as he was driving). I had snacks out on the coffee table and so we dug in to presents and food. At some point I had to get into the kitchen to prepare the bird and put it into the oven. Not a turkey – I’m allergic to turkey  – so chicken, along with baked potatoes, yams, and  a salad.

We stuffed ourselves so much none of us had room for the apple raspberry crisp I had baked the day before, so I sent some home with Martin and Juni.  After they left, I called a friend to wish her a Merry Christmas and thank her for her present, watched a Christmas movie on TV and during the commercials did the dishes.

But I forgot one more present and I didn’t discover it until after midnight. It was hiding under the Christmas tree, or rather under the end table where my tiny fake tree sits. I blame missing it on the cloth bag it is in  –  burgundy – same colour as the velvet cloth right under that tree. The present is for Juni (note: she had others from me). So this week I will have to restart my Santa Claus sleigh and deliver the present to Juni. Translation: I will take public transit and deliver the present to Juni. And hope no wandering reindeer are running around en route, although obviously Christmas Day we could have used Rudolph and his glowing red nose to find the present. Or maybe not – red is close to burgundy in colour and that mini-tree has all red lights and they didn’t help.

So  on this note, I will stop this rambling and wish everybody a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas tree, Family and Friends, Mom and Dad, Only child

Pictures can help you write your memoir

 

For those of us writing a memoir or who want to do so, sometimes we get stymied. Where do we start? What do we focus on? What happened in our life that really affected us?

Of course, we may have a specific area of our life we want to focus on. But our memories can play tricks on us. Our memories can “hide” a wealth of information about our past, the people in it and our emotions during those times – even if we think we know how we felt.

So, use pictures to trigger your memory and its whole enchilada. I don’t mean just old family and friend photos. But buildings – your school, the house you grew up in, streets, transit (cars and public), old new-story photos, old ad, even cemeteries.

And even the above which may not be your family photo, may not be a streetscape you are familiar with. You are thinking of the time and what is actually in the picture and transferring it (in your  mind) to your story.

As some of you know, I teach various memoir writing workshops and courses at Toronto Public Library branches. And as the above hints at, the next one, on April 16, is called Using Your Pictures to Create Your Memoir. Most of my memoir writing workshops and courses have something about pictures, particularly those old family and friend photos. An interesting thing I keep discovering is that even if the picture is of my family or friends or me or the house I grew up in – it will always trigger some memory (not connected to me) in some of the participants.

“Oh, the picture of your dad reminded me of my dad.”

“The picture of your house reminded me of the house I grew up in.”

“That picture of your friends reminded me of something that happened with my sister/some of my friends.”

The pictures take on a generic form. And that can happen with transit and streetscapes. For example, a picture of a streetcar can bring up memories of you riding in a streetcar in the past,  lead to something (good or bad) that happened to you while riding a streetcar. Who were you with? What was your relationship to them? And taking it beyond the streetcar ride, what else happened to you and them, especially if a sibling, parent, or close friend? How did you feel towards them? Does it bring up emotions – sad, happy, angry, etc.? And this can lead to more stories with them and maybe with the streetcars. Maybe your dad drove a streetcar or a bus. What were his stories about that?

You can see where a simple picture can lead you in your memoir writing.

Here are the details of my workshop. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in taking it, there is still time to register. And it is free. Yes, I get paid by the library for teaching these workshops.

Using Pictures to Create Your Memoir

Tue Apr 16, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
90 mins

Location

S. Walter Stewart Library

S. Walter Stewart

In this memoir-writing workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford shows how old photos, news stories, ads, streetscapes, and pictures etched in your mind can help create your memoir. Includes how to do picture research and research kick-started by pictures. Through discussion and writing exercises with feedback, you will get a start on your memoir. To register or for more information, please call 416-396-3975.

Meantime, look, really look, at the photo at the top of the post. And see where it leads you in your life.

And the picture below my signature.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Libraries, Life, Only child memoir, Writing workshops

Only Child why no posts for awhile

I have not disappeared off the face of the earth, although sometimes that sounds like a good idea. But I am stubborn and determined, despite being very cranky this winter. But for good reasons – and these reasons are why it has been awhile since I posted here.

My intent is to resume posting – at least every other week and hopefully getting back to weekly postings.

So what has been in my way?

Well, one of the biggies is sporadic or no Internet access – for just over a week late in February. Even my land line went on strike off and on. Combination of old phone wires and old modem and bad luck. I got a new modem and the fibre connection – which is fine with the Internet but I don’t like it with the phone. I have to keep the modem on 24/7 so the phone will work. The 24/7 is okay but not the phone’s dependency.

What’s wrong with this picture? The modem has a battery, but if there is a power failure the battery lasts for only 4 hours. For major power outages that is not acceptable. You might be able to phone the hydro utility, a family member or friend during that time. But if for some reason you have to call the family member or friend or 911 after that and can’t… I’m a senior and need my land line to be an actual land line – not off in cyberspace land. And don’t tell me to get a cell phone – they operate on batteries, so will run out of juice. During the big power outage in southern Ontario in December 2014 (thanks to the ice storm), my landline was my lifeline to my friends and my son. There was a boarder living here then – she had a cell phone and couldn’t use it because it needed recharging.

From another era. Are we too far in the other direction?

Bell Canada smarten up here.

The other biggie is the weather in southern Ontario (and elsewhere -no one has been spared). Too much snow, too cold, mixed precipitation, rain on its own, damaging winds (fortunately the power didn’t go here in Toronto then and I had just had the new Bell fibre system setup and connected two days before). Among other things, I have had to move a dental appointment three times because of weather. It is now on hold until spring, unless it turns into an emergency. Dealing with this weather is and has been horrendous. Below are a couple of shots I took of the outside – at the beginning of one of the big snowstorms.

Above photo – recycling bins waiting to go to the curb. Hah!

 

My backyard patio – where I eat in summer.

The list goes on and on. I swear on one of my pile of mystery books that 95 percent of my problems are not caused by me – they come from what I call “outside” but I have to deal with them. From what I hear from others, I am not alone with this scenario. Many others have been hit with a lot of bad luck since January 1 of this year.

I am a Sagittarius and for 2019 Jupiter is supposed to be my ruling house, meaning lots of good things happening. Well, you astrologers and would-be astrologers, that is bunk and some of us are living proof of it.

Could it be something in the air causing all of this?  Or? (You substitute what you think here).

And what do you think anyway. How is your 2019 so far?

For the record a few good things have happened in my life this year. But the balance of good to bad (or should that be bad to good?) is lopsided. They say that into our life some rain must fall – my emphasis on the some. But we are getting hit with torrents of rain (metaphorically speaking) t seems.

So, my personal way to deal with this? Go after the big trouble-makers/big problem causers and let the rest slide. Connect with the people in my life who really care and I really care about. And

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

I am a writer after all. See my website for more on that.

Like author John Irving once said
“Half my life is an act of revision.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Beyond Faith book cover

 

 

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Filed under Computer problems, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Good and Bad Luck, Life Balance, Life demands, Problems

New Year New Outlook

Teddy reminding me to slow down

I am one of many who is glad that 2018 is past, deceased, down the drain. It was a very bad year for everybody and for our planet. On my Facebook page, my New Year’s message for all is:

Happy New Year to all my family and friends. May 2019 be your best year yet and the best year yet for our world, especially earth. May we all learn how to slow down before we burn out.

That is what I base my intentions, goals, etc. on. I don’t do resolutions. Instead I do a few lists under headings such as “Want to do/have to do”, “Don’t want to do/have to do”, “Want to do/don’t have to do” and my favourite “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do”. The latter is a bit longer than other years – the first has the longest list, which is good –  it is always better if what you have to do is also what you want to do. What is on my list is for the whole year and I don’t intend to do all at once. But it helps me realize what I have not been doing and what I have been doing too much of. And the focus is on CHANGE.

And no, I’m not going to list the whole she-bang. Just a few highlights.

I have not been able time-wise to do as much reading as I like and enjoy – so that is on the want/have to do list. So is something that has been eating away at my psyche and my health for a few years.

Those of you who follow this blog have probably read my occasional posts where I complain about water getting into my basement sometimes with heavy rainfalls and why it happens. In 2018 a friend offered to pay to get the waterproofing done and so I interviewed five prospective contractors who specialize in waterproofing the basement. But there are two black walnut trees near the house and on my neighbour’s property – trees neither of us planted – the pesky squirrels did it. As digging is required for outside waterproofing and I was concerned about tree roots, I decided I better get in an arborist to look at the tree situation. I kept my next door neighbour up to date on everything.

The arborist came and said the trees had to come down. He was going to charge a  ridiculous fee, plus there is a permit to get, etc. etc. – so  more fees BEFORE the waterproofing could be done. No way did I want my friend paying for trees to come down – she had offered to pay for the waterproofing and I was grateful for that. Anyway, for other reasons, both my next door neighbour and I do not want the trees to come down (shade, etc.) – they have been trimmed in the past by another arborist (who didn’t return my calls to do an assessment).

These trees weren’t big enough to be in the way when the original contractor, one Nigel Applewaite, did the job and did it wrong. He didn’t dig down to the weeping tiles like you are supposed to. I distinctly remember him telling me then that he was digging down four feet (weeping tiles are 5 to 6 feet down at least). Of course, then I didn’t know any better.

The first two years no water got in and then it did – obviously from below where he stopped digging. After he told me to get the drains checked (I did – city workers said they were clear), he ran the hose against the wall in one area to see if any water got in (not from that spot)  and that was it. Never heard from him again.

So I’ve been letting people know not to hire him because of what he didn’t do – including my insurance agent’s manager when her basement flooded for the same reason. “Don’t hire Nigel Applewaite” became my mantra for all.

Well, I’m still suffering thanks to him. So, this year I’m going after him – all legal. I have some options up my sleeve for this.

The rest of my intentions for 2019 are not nasty unless you count dropping so-called friends who betrayed me in 2018. But from that and other experiences I have learned to treasure my true friends and to try to spend more time with them. To that end I am cutting back or deleting some of the unnecessary time-wasters from 2018. Or just saying “NO” to what other people think I should do.

 

I will still be writing (more than in 2018 I hope), doing book promo for my Beyond mystery books, editing clients’ manuscripts and teaching writing workshops. All that will be  covered on my author blog here. But I probably won’t get to this week’s post until tomorrow (Jan. 4, 2019). But posting weekly to both my blogs (as I used to before forces outside me took over it seems), is one of my 2019 intentions

So, happy, prosperous, joyful, productive, peaceful, etc. 2019 to all.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Basement Flooding, Family and Friends, Life demands, New year's resolutions, Only child

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’s thoughts after the big hurricane May 4 in Southern Ontario

Calm few days after the storm

The day after the big wind storm – hurricane wind levels in Toronto – I was on my knees clearing out my garden. Not debris from the wind, but part of the annual clean-the-garden-in-the-spring ritual. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the man walk by. Although I didn’t know him I said, “good afternoon.”

I’m glad I did. Turns out he was a friend of Marie one of the seniors across the street. Marie had some damage to her roof from the winds and “she was freaking out he said. Do you know of anyone who could help fix it?”

I sprang into action. For the life of me I could not recall the name of the company who put up my roof in fall 2009 but I did know some neighbours who would know somebody. I directed him to my next door neighbour who works in construction and another one across the street who just retired from working in construction. Next door wasn’t in but Larry across the street was. After the man clarified the name of the fellow across the street and went to bang on his door, I went into high help mode.

I had to find the name of the company that did my roof. I knew it began with “E” and wasn’t a person’s first and/or last name. Dived into a few files. Nothing. Finally found a few old (like a couple of years) small brochures of home repairs/improvements companies and voila – and my roofers were listed in one brochure. It didn’t appear that they did roof repairs but if Marie ended up needing a new roof, I could recommend them. So I copied over their number on one of those memo pads real estate agents drop off – you know the ones with your name printed on the top – their play to get more business, I suppose. And with the brochure and the memo sheet and my house keys, I locked the doors and ran across the street to Marie’s.

The friend’s truck was still in the driveway, the front inside door was open and an array of shoes were discarded in the front hall. I knocked and knocked but no answer, so ran around to the backyard. No one. Came back to the front and knocked again because I could hear voices. No one came, so I returned to the driveway and could voices from a window, so called  out “It’s Sharon from across the street.” The  man who had talked to me said he would meet me at the front door. I met him there, and Marie, and the man’s wife and their two kids and the wife’s sister and her husband. They were the family of Marie’s late boyfriend.

Marie told  me that Larry had been there and said he would call his sons and see if they could come the next day (The did. I saw them there). Marie also complained about the roof she had – newer than mine – she’s had the roofer back three times to fix shingles. That’s not a very professional job done. So I wrote down the name and info of my roofer with the caveat – the owner, who do the estimate don’t go on the roof and because of that they missed the correct number of layers of old shingles on my roof – and I got charged more. But the actual workers did an excellent job, including their foreman who found the third layer when he inspected it just before they began doing the work and told me – he should be doing estimates.

“Make sure they go on the roof to check,” I told Marie.

I also gave her the name and phone number of the handyman who does plumbing, painting, electrical and other repairs and Marie and I exchanged phone numbers. The latter we should have done within a year after I moved into my house. I’ve been here nearly 20 years.

My wake-up call. Especially after reading online yesterday and watching the 11 p.m. news and finding that 500 homes in pockets of Toronto still didn’t have their power restored. Didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the big ice storm in December 2013. True, there were downed trees and power lines from Friday’s hurricane but no ice. More likely not enough people doing the work. Again, didn’t Toronto Hydro learn anything from the ice storm of December 2013?

With this in mind and the below story in mind, where governments of all level in the US and Canada, forget about seniors during various hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, I decided it is really up to us who can do so to help. This story was published in Zoomer magazine last month and I’m linking to the online story. The photo (scroll down a bit) of the seniors sitting in water up to their waists in a nursing home because the authorities forgot about them breaks my heart. It took the son-in-law of the nursing home owner to Tweet about it to get any action. Then the National Guard came to the rescue.

Ageism is still around, unfortunately.

Here’s the link.

http://www.everythingzoomer.com/health/2018/04/19/seniors-natural-disaster-relief/

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Floods, Help and Support, Helping Others, Hydro power outage, Only child, Power Outages, Seniors, Toronto Hydro