Tag Archives: Family and Friends

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).



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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?



Only Child Writes



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.



Only Child Writes

Sharon and Martin Christmas Day



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.



Only Child Writes


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


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.




Only Child Writes


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

Only Child warmed by strangers’ kindness

Originally published on my author blog. But it also fits here as it deals with something an only child/adult runs into. And yes, it has to do with that trailer/shopping cart causing me big grief. I will add one thing to the story. I was able to return it to Canadian Tire and get my money back. Read all about it and how this author blazed unexpected trails here.

All thanks to the kindness of one friend and many strangers.



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Filed under Books, Family and Friends, Gratitude, Help and Support

Gardening helps heal this troubled soul

Tulip poking through euonymus shrub in Only Child’s garden spring 2017

One of the few things keeping me going this spring is my garden (the others are my writing, my son and friends who help me, reading, and even some TV shows). The latter two are much needed diversions and distractions from bad health with pain of some sort at some time during each day), and the Noah’s Ark-like weather – the latter worry mostly to do with that Nigel Applewaite the construction worker who messed up his contract and work to fix the basement leaks. And didn’t fix his mistakes. But that’s another post.

With all the rain we’ve been getting in southern Ontario (and elsewhere too), everything is coming up green outside – including the weeds. The latter are very prolific this year. So are the flowers and onions coming up from some planted last year, and the herbs and rhubarb. Already eating those latter three.

I remember my late mother’s garden – vegetable and flowers and the big shrubs. She and Dad would be out there digging up the garden and planting in April. That was in the 1950s. The world is a much wetter and colder place now. The latter doesn’t just refer to weather, although that was cold in April and for the most part (except for two or three days) this May, too.

So, I plan my gardening around the weather and all the other stuff I do. Doing a bit of gardening at a time is the way to weed a somewhat large garden and get things planted. And weeding gives me a safe outlet to deal with the oppressors and oppressions in my life. I have lost count how many weeds I’ve pulled with the name Nigel Applewaite.

Gardening also seems to revive my energy and provides some purpose. So does enjoying what is in the garden. Unless pouring with rain, daily, I take a walk around and in my garden. And sit out on the veranda and/or patio to eat, read and just enjoy the view.

The patio also brought forth another hurdle to get over. I needed a new umbrella to provide shade at the patio table – the one I had for seven years – second hand and a gift from a friend – finally stopped working late last summer so it went out to the curb for pickup.

You would think that getting a new umbrella would not be a major operation. Well I did check them out at Home Depot – too pricey and way too heavy to carry home – even thought it was only four blocks. So I checked Canadian Tire on line for selections and sale, then I asked one of my friends if she could drive me  – we had talked about his possibility before and she has helped me before (and her husband helped me get my bags of topsoil at Home Depot). She said she could do it on last Monday but when I phoned Monday morning to see about a time suitable to her, I got her husband and he told me in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t do it because they were going away for a couple of weeks and they would be busy for a week after they got back. And she had too many things to do before they went away.

Excuse me? Can’t she speak for herself and if she said she couldn’t do it because of time problems I could understand that – although a refusal when I first asked would have been best.

So, I asked my son if he could pick one up at Canadian Tire on his way here Saturday and I would pay him back. He said “no” because of having to lease a car to do it but offered to pay for a cab so I could come home with it. I said okay and I’d have to find out how to go about doing that from a store with no pay phone (remember I’m too poor to have a cell phone).

But I got lucky. Most of the patio umbrellas at Canadian Tire were light enough and packed in one of those carry bags (like you get fold up cloth patio chairs in) and I could carry it. Also the clerk I spoke there gave me info about getting a cab – if you need one when you pay tell the cashier and she or he will call a cab. So, I ended paying about half the price of those at Home Depot and got the umbrella home for free. I slung the umbrella pack over my shoulder and walked  block and a half to the bus stop and took the one bus home. When my son was here this Saturday, he set up the umbrella and showed me that it also can slant  (which I didn’t know). So the umbrella is there on the patio and if it is warm enough for lunch I just might sit out there with it open. The weekend was not good for that – too windy Saturday and yesterday and raining on Sunday.

So, I guess despite all the crap happening in my life, I still am a persistent stubborn so-and-so.

When I stop being that, then it is time to worry.



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Filed under Extreme rainfall weather, Garden, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Mom and Dad, Spring