Tag Archives: Family and Friends

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

Only Child on connecting

Pondering life in the digital world

How do  you connect with those close to you and well, those not-so-close? And in today’s digital world what do you mean by close? Is it the friends on Facebook you post a like or comment to their posts or adding you own post about something? Or the quicker blasts on Twitter? Is it sharing a problem with a friend in person? Is it texting on your smart phone? Is it actually talking with someone on your phone? Is it playing voice-mail hell on your phone? Is it chatting with a friend, neighbour, acquaintance on the street? Is it yelling at someone who is blocking your way on a street or public transit steps because they are standing there texting on their phone?

Is it killing someone because that is the only way you can communicate with them or with anyone?

And note: I don’t condone murder. Even though I write about it in my Beyond mystery books.

This spiel of questions came from a conversation online with a friend about perhaps being Luddites. What we discussed is private, but it got me thinking about the way we communicate (myself included) today.

Fact: we live in an ever-changing and increasing digital world.

Are we any better for it? Should we roll back the timeline and go back to “the good old days” whatever era you think that should be?

Despite my writing my Beyond mysteries in the late 1990s when so-called digital was less onerous and could be handled, we are not going back there. We have to live with what we have now. But, it is how we do this that counts. And not all of us will choose the same path.

I tend to go along in the middle. No Twitter, but Facebook, no Smart phone but wireless – with voice mail – I definitely want to catch missed calls. Sitting on a bus texting away is not me. I look around and count the number of people in my area of the bus, the subway car, the streetcar who are shall we say involved with their devices. But I also look to see who is reading a print book, a newspaper or magazine (besides me) or even what I call low digital – an e-reader.

I also look and listen to see who is talking to another person – preferably in person sitting or standing beside them? Who is actually using their smart phone for the phone’s original use talking to family or friend – even the short phone conversation that begins with “I’m on the X bus and should be home in about 15 minutes.”

Personally, I think the overload in digital has cost us some of our humanity. Like I said we can’t go back. What we can do is reign in our digital time – well we can TRY. And try to connect more in person, on the phone with our friends and family. And some of the digital stuff can actually help here. Think Skype. Think of that commercial – I believe for an Internet service – where a grandfather is reading to his granddaughter and then they say goodnight to each other. That’s when the viewer realizes that they aren’t in the same room and it is online.

So, like most anything else (excluding murder), there is good and bad in digital. We just need to find our personal equilibrium here so we don’t lose our humanity. Like most anything else (except murder), moderation, not overindulgence works better.

Now, if I could just convince myself about that for chocolate.

Okay, cards on the table (not on the screen for a change) – my name is Sharon and I am a chocoholic.

Are you a digitaloholic?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

From  the past

 

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Filed under Communicating and Connecting, Digital World Madness, Life Balance, Life demands

Only Child’s thoughts on son turning 40

Sharon and Martin

My son  Martin turned 40 on Saturday and that opens a whole she-bang of emotions and thoughts. Some are probably obvious, like we are all getting older. In this crazy world (and “crazy” is being kind), I’m not sure living to a ripe old age is a good idea. No, 40 isn’t a ripe old age, but getting into and being in seniorville – let’s just say the downs often overshadow the ups.

But, one of the ups is Martin – at 4o or 20. He  may not always answer my emails or phone calls promptly, but he helps me a lot – not just with computers (that’s his line of work) but with some life-threatening events. Events, such as the big unwelcome and uncalled for prolonged ice storm December 2013 in southern Ontario. The storm caused power outages, sporadic in locationa (a friend living near me had no power outage; Martin didn’t either) but I did and so did everyone on my street  for 48 hours. Others were without power for longer. Martin was on the phone constantly to me (I used my old landline phone on the wall which still worked – as long as I didn’t touch the wireless landline extension) to see how I (and the boarder and her cat living with me then) were coping. He told me what to do to remove the ice on the veranda and for a path down to the road without just hacking away with an axe and shovel. And when the temperature was going to dive down he insisted that we go to a downtown hotel and stay – at his expense. I just had to pay for the cab to get there. Martin also took us (not the cat) out for dinner at a nearby restaurant after he got us settled in (the cat, too) and got my laptop hooked up to the hotel’s wi-fi system for guests. He also phoned me when the power had come back on in my neighbourhood. He had found out from my friend next door who had texted  him. And he was there with a leased car and a ham and potatoes for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. And drove us home. He did stay out of it while the boarder and I pitched stuff still in the fridge that hadn’t fit in the temporary fridge (an old closed up from the outside milk chute) and a very few items from the big freezer. But he did cook dinner and we all exchanged Christmas presents.

He was raised by both parents, despite my ex and I being separated since Martin was a toddler. At first it was dicey, but once some routines were agreed on  – with the flexibility factor included – I think this joint parenting worked. My ex was good getting Martin into things like scouts and soccer   – just as well as I don’t drive, but we both kept tabs on Martin’s experiences in school, including going together to parent and teacher evenings for grade school. One year, Martin’s spelling was terrible (he was seven or eight) and so my ex and I, as a team, descended on the school, prepared to give his teacher hell for ignoring this spelling problem…until we arrived to meet her and saw her leg in a cast. We downplayed our anger to concern. The following year Martin had a teacher very concerned with his students’ spelling.

I wasn’t a harsh disciplinarian with my son, preferring to use what I had learned from a friend who had raise three children – the consequences method – all actions had consequences. Some of my work friends condemned or made fun of this attitude, but that and talking things out with Martin seemed to pay off. To paraphrase another friend, my son turned out well and I am proud of him.

Martin is also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and lap steel guitar with a local Toronto band called Beams. This Friday, Feb.23, Beams is holding the launch party for the release of its second CD at a bar called Little Budda in downtown Toronto. They will play around 11 p.m. but the opening band is earlier. My friend, Carol and I plan to go. Click on the Beams link HERE for their website with info on the CD and song excerpts and go to their Facebook page for tickets.

And oh, yeah he hasn’t missed any of the three book launches for my three Beyond mystery books.

He has been spending time with his dad and his dad’s wife and friends across the pond but now that he’s back I will be taking him and his girlfriend out for dinner one evening next week. I did email him a birthday greeting last week, complete with a 40th birthday cake graphic inserted in the email (e-cards got too confusing for me to work – they used to be easier to send).

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Actions Consequences, Help and Support, Martin Crawford

Only Child needs a time management boost

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

My late father used to sit at the kitchen table and re-set his watch based on the wall clock above the table. At dinner time. It annoyed my mom no end. But Dad was timekeeper for CN Railways (then CNR), so what did Mom or I expect?

I’ve inherited Dad’s penchant for keeping track of time and the related getting things done. Dad may have been better at it than me, and I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping the watch regulated – at least for me.

Despite going through the annual goals, etc. list (including purging unnecessary tasks, etc.), I am still in a big stage of overwhelm and spending too much time doing what isn’t a priority for me. Lots more has to be deleted from what I do and lots more has to be shoved onto the back burner, some maybe indefinitely and then eventually scrapped when I can stop holding onto them and let them go.

And letting go of the guilt that goes with dumping things you do, and even people, from your life. The latter sounds harsh, but I have had to evaluate who in my life I need to well, dump. This includes the obvious people I don’t like and/or we have nothing in common.

But I also have to consider where our values don’t jive. For example, being a responsible person and keeping promises is very important to me. So is being decisive. Here, I’m talking about something as simple as two friends deciding to meet at a specific event at a specific time, and one waffles either about if she will get there as she has so much else to do – or promising she will meet there and then she never shows up and I don’t get a phone call about it.

This the modus operandi of one of my so-called friends. There was even another friend involved for one event. Friend No. 2 and I were to meet the irresponsible one at at the annual Zoomer’s Show. The two of us waited and waited outside the show area for ages and guess who never showed up. At least we were waiting inside.

Let’s face it – stuff happens beyond our control. High on the list are getting sick and bad weather. But these are exceptions.

Also on my list is something that is harder to deal with but is a big time waster – problems that come from outside me and yes,  outside my friends and my relationship. Problems from utilities, governments and insurance companies. In most cases, they have caused the problem but I’m stuck with trying to get it straightened out. I can’t exactly cancel using the utility, or not pay my taxes, etc. Unfortunately, these things take time, my time.

And I resent it.

So, I’m going through my goals and the like again and weeding out more.

My health depends on it.

And dealing with health issues is another time-waster. However,  I have taken the recourse of doing what I have to do for my health – but if it is beyond what normal healthy people do for their health, then I do it when it is convenient for me. At least that’s what I’ve been trying out the past few months. Yes, sometimes I forget the damn eye drops, but you know, if it was safe to put one type of eye drop (three prescriptions although two are together), right after the other instead of waiting five or 10 minutes for the second drop, it would help. I don’t have time to stand around for five or ten minutes, so I go on to something else.

Then, forgot to put in the damn eye drops.

And don’t get me into wasting a half day at the ophthalmologist’s – two and a half hours minimum  in the waiting room. I have politely spoken to her about it, even suggested she hire another ophthalmologist, but that didn’t sit too well with her.

Do any of you have any ideas on time management? How do you manage your time in your daily living?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child on Christmas present

Martin and Juni by Christmas tree

I play all the Christmas songs over and over again because they  may be our only hope for good times in this world, not just during the Christmas season but in 2018. And since I promised in last week’s post that this week ‘s post would deal with what Christmas means to me today, here goes. Things have definitely changed. The only magic about Christmas is in those songs and the Christmas (new and old) movies on TV. So, I’m going to do a summary of some of the things that got messed up in my lead-up to Christmas and well, on Christmas Day too. It serves as an example, personally, but sadly some of it is the way it is elsewhere.

1. I got sick with a throat infection including a cough December 11. It lasted about a week. I had to cancel going to the Christmas dinner held by the writers networking group I belong to. Turns out three others were just getting sick and probably not going.

2. That same week I was sick, we had some rain mixed with snow and because some snow was already on the ground, some water got in the basement in the corner by the entrance from driveway to backyard. Not the usual place for water to get in and not anything to do with the contractor who messed up waterproofing on the other side. Just weather and we know who controls that and it’s not The Weather Network or Environment Canada. So I had to get the handyman in to add heating cables to the outside of the downspout. Now I go from roof heating cables to downspout cables as turning both on at the same time will cause the circuit breaker for that area to kick in and I lose power in that area of the house – inside and out.

3. I decided to take two weeks off from client work and book promo from December 19. Because of the house crap and being sick I got behind in getting the little bit of food and two more Xmas presents I still had to buy. Because I don’t have a car it was numerous trips on public transit  three afternoons in a row. I ended up returning home in rush hour which was particularly slow and miserable  the third day because some of the subway service was cut out for a few hours a someone jumped onto the tracks at a subway station. While I usually have empathy for someone so troubled they want to end it all, that doesn’t extend to jumping in front of a train because it messes it all up for thousands of commuters. Enough said here.

4. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We already had a white Christmas from a previous recent snowfall and didn’t need anymore. But I guess God decided otherwise. Christmas Day I got out there to shovel at least the veranda and enough of the driveway so my son could get his girlfriend’s dad’s car in. But it was too much and I was out of breath and shaking my fist at the sky. When Martin phoned I told told him about the situation and he said just to shovel a narrow path for them to get in and he would shovel the driveway, which he did with Juni’s help around the back of the house. But not before…

5. The power suddenly went out late Christmas morning. “No! No! No!” I yelled, shaking my fist at the sky and telling God to get the power back on – after all it is Christmas Day and as I found out when I called Toronto Hydro – it was widespread in East York and Scarborough parts of Toronto. For once God must have heard (must be because of many thousands of people affected) – power went back on five minutes later, so I adjusted the only two electric clocks I have in the kitchen. Then the power went off again and I did my fist-shaking at the sky scenario again. But it came back on two minutes later and stayed on. But I left the wall clock as is,  hanging crookedly, just in case.

These are just a few things. You didn’t want me to summarize them all – that would be at least a book chapter. But, if you go through them, you can see that at least four of them are representative of what is going on in the world today. Some places in Canada, and elsewhere, got worst weather and had longer power outages. And not just at Christmas. This is a year long thing and is indicative of the world going to hell (or should that be heaven?) in a very over-sized basket.

And then there are the crowds shopping before and after (Boxing Day sales – I no longer do the latter) although online buying is helping to diminish the in person shopping and crowding. Getting sick with viruses and other things is way up in winter all over. For example, the Weather Network’s graph of flu occurrences shows widespread in southern Ontario. And that’s just one area. It looks like the world is killing us. Because of all this, personal and worldwide, church attendance and religion (except for the extreme fanaticism) is down. With the weather New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day, attendance was lowered it even more.

Okay, there was one bright spot at Christmas – Martin and Juni spending Christmas Day here with me. We exchanged presents and had good conversations sitting in the living room near the tree. (See photo above for my tiny not real Christmas tree – rather appropriate but more because my tiny house has no room for big trees). Dinner which I cooked was good – we cleaned our plates and dessert dishes – despite me overcooking the brussel sprouts and the chicken – which I had placed upside down in the roasting pan. Martin had brought the fresh strawberries I had asked him to bring in case I didn’t get the apple crisp made. I did make the crisp on Christmas Eve. So we ate some strawberries with ice cream for dessert and I sent some of the apple crisp in a plastic container home with them.

Martin also did some updating/upgrading of the operating system on my Mac laptop – which took four and a half hours but he just had to check it occasionally for the downloads and then do the installation. They also got here safely and back home safely.

So all that made my Christmas. The rest is all true over the world. Unfortunately. God needs to listen to us and help us. Clearly, we aren’t doing it right and maybe can’t do it alone. I’m not holding my breath, though. I am someone who has learned from experience and what I have learned doesn’t bode too well for planet earth.

But let’s hope I’m wrong. May 2018 be better for all of us.

Next week I’ll go into New Year’s Resolutions, with a twist.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Sharon and Martin Christmas Day

 

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas stress, Church Attendance, Extreme Weather, Family and Friends, Only child, Problems, Snow, Winter Weather, World Environment

Only Child on writing a memoir using the senses of smell and taste

Mom and Only Child in Backyard

The senses of smell and taste often go together – at least where food is concerned. There are, of course, some smells you definitely don’t want to associate with any taste – like a skunk’s smell.  But maybe that will bring in some taste in your memory. It does for me.

A friend of mine always had at least one dog. And one of these dogs was forever colliding with a skunk. You can imagine the stinky and messy results. My friend used to try to remove the smell by bathing her dog in tomato juice.

Tomato juice is a taste I like and it brings back some memories – my mother growing tomatoes. My mother making some God-awful relish from green tomatoes. My mother calling me to the side door of our house where she stood on the other side with a large tin can in her hand and showing me what was inside the can. Not tomatoes she had picked, but horrible green tomato worms. I remember her laugh here.

So you can see how taste and smell can work together to trigger something from your past. That something might just be a story you want to include in your memoir.

For those writing a memoir, using the six senses to kick start your memoir is one way to get your mind, feelings and emotions (latter two very important) back in your past.

When you walk into a Tim Hortons and smell the coffee, what does that remind you of? And when you taste the coffee? Does that enhance your memory?

This Tuesday, November 21 I’m teaching another workshop on Kick starting your memoir using the six senses. This time I’m at the Forest Hill Library Branch in Toronto. There is still room in the workshop for participants for anyone living in the Toronto Ontario Canada area who is reading this before the workshop time  (2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.) and day. You can either phone the library at or just show up. More details here.

I’m posting this a day early because the workshop is Tuesday, when I usually post to Only Child Writes.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Sharon’s backyard garden. No green hornworms on my tomato plants.

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Filed under 1950s, Family and Friends, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Writing

Only Child – some hope on cancer

In the wake of Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dying from brain cancer, I think we need some hope, some good news about this horrid disease that strikes and kills too many.

I don’t know how many of you watch The Weather Network on TV or online (I do both). But one of their meteorologists, Kim Macdonald, has been off for ten and a half months with breast cancer.

But Kim is back and she is winning over cancer. She is such a bubbly friendly person and I always enjoyed her weather reports, especially her 60  second roundups from across Canada. Often they featured animals doing funny weather-related things. Kim always used the right tone – not insulting or patronizing but more a showing of the fun when animals meet weather. She has been appearing on the weather casts late evening, sharing the time with other meteorologists – as has been the trend lately on that channel. Here is her blog Weathering Cancer. Inspiring.

Welcome  back Kim  – we missed you and glad you are better.

And on a personal note, one of my cousins who was first misdiagnosed with something else – but then correctly diagnosed with cancer when it spread to her lungs last year. She is getting better and the horrible chemo is actually shrinking the tumour. She credits family support and spending the summer at the cottage also with helping. Kim also had good family support.

Which maybe tells us something. You need friends and family to get through this cruel world.

I’ll end on another positive note with a link to actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus photos on her chemo session. Got to love her sense of humour here.

And what Kim Macdonald posts at the top of her blog:

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt and friend. I’ve made my living on television talking about what Canadians love to talk about… the weather.I have breast cancer. It is not who I am. It doesn’t define me and it doesn’t make me special. It is my adversary and as such it will challenge me like nothing has. I think that’s worth documenting.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Health and Support, Kim Macdonald, Surviving Cancer, Tragically Hip