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?
Only Child Writes
As a child growing up in the mid-50s to mid 1950s in Toronto, I actually enjoyed winter. That included slogging to and from grade school three times a day (we went home for lunch), to ice skating. The winters I was seven and eight I learned to skate at home – outside of course. Dad turned the hose on our backyard and overnight instant skating rink. Next day, and several days afterwards, Mom taught me how to skate. She wore boots and sometimes Dad’s old hockey skates on her feet. I wore brand new white figure skates but I did not cut a good figure. Even the heavy coats and mitts couldn’t help as I dug my hands into Mom’s as she walked or skated backwards and she tried to get me to move forward. Finally when I was eight, she figured I was ready for the big time – skating at the public Dieppe Park. There I learned that the best way to keep my balance was to skate forward clutching a skate guard in each hand.
Today, as a senior, I hate winter with a passion. I do not find the white stuff outside as it comes down and when it stops, a winter wonderland. I hate the cold. I hate all winter precipitation and with our climate change, that can include rain and variations of the mixed stuff. Strangely enough I don’t mind shovelling snow (when it isn’t a lot – then I get the guy I hired to shovel snow to do so) – probably because it is like hitting back at the weather. I wield a mean shovel, but my target is only the snow. I do like the sun in winter (when the sun does actually show up) and going for walks. Not as many as in spring, summer and fall. And I don’t go out much evenings – besides the cold I have a fear of falling on ice, especially after three friends and colleagues took bad tumbles on ice last winter. My hairdresser suffered the worst. She broke one leg in two spots after falling on the ice in her driveway.
So I spend a lot of time inside a lot. Plenty to do, including stuff I detest, such as dealing with house problems – the latest being an ornery freezer. But I write a lot, read a lot (although not as much as I would like), watch some TV (Weather Network addict here, plus some regular mystery and the like TV shows and movies), and purging the excess paper in my office. And email and Facebook my son and friends. And chat on the phone with them. Also get together with them – but not as much as in the summer. It took five weekends before I could get down to my friend Maggie’s because of bad weather each weekend – some that snowed me in. But this weekend is my son’s birthday and the plan is for me to take him and his girlfriend out for brunch (mind you, at a restaurant near me) and then we are coming back to my place afterwards.
Meantime I have something else that is visual to see and create – and not bland like snow. My houseplants, some of which are flowering. And also I am going through the seed catalogue to order some seeds for this coming spring and summer’s garden. And planning the garden in the process.
How are you spending your winter? Or if you are south of the equator – your summer, where some of those who live “up north” go in winter.
Only Child Writes
Mom in her backyard garden 1944
I come from a long line of gardeners and farmers. My grandparents had farms and my mom grew up on one of them. When she came to Toronto to work, met my dad and married him, when they bought their first house, the one I grew up in – they made a garden, It was like a ritual every spring and when I came along, even at four and five years of age I got into the act. Each spring, Mom and Dad turned the soil, Mom planted vegetable seeds and I helped her do the latter – with a lot of instructions from her. After the soil-turning, Dad looked after mowing the lawn – with a push mower.
Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April
I also use a push mower to cut the lawn and like my mother I have to have my garden.
But in order to have a garden, you have to be able to get out there and work the garden, remove the weeds, plant the seeds, baby the perennials coming up again. This year it’s been raining too much in southern Ontario so I am literally sometimes out there gardening between rainstorms. Meantime, out in British Columbia and Alberta it is dry, dry and there are spreading wildfires. Somebody up there got the weather mixed up – we need the rain to fall in western Canada and eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces) need some dry periods – like more than just a day, or just a few hours.
So, I’ve been slowly making my garden beautiful. At least it is green and the perennials are coming up and blooming. So is the lettuce and onions I planted.
Do you garden? How does your garden grow?
Here are a few early photos of my garden. Enjoy
Only Child Writes
Waiting to be planted
Waiting to assist with the planting
A few perennials among the weeds
Rhubarb ready to pull, cook and eat
Bringing some flowers inside
Only Child’s spring garden 2018
Today, spring officially arrives. Exact time depends on where you live in the northern hemisphere. Here, in Toronto it is today at 5.58 p.m. and I plan to celebrate – not with a drink, but with buying a plant, a pansy, providing the garden centres (read Home Depot here) have some in. I want to put the plant front and centre on the small red table on my front veranda. Pansies can survive temperatures down to 26 F and it it gets too cold temporarily, I can bring the plant inside for a bit.
Back when I was a child (in the grey ages of course, i.e., mid-1950s), my mom and dad were already out in the garden digging and doing other prep work to plant vegetables – well in early April, not March. But April is coming soon. I was not far behind, waiting to get into the garden and learning what to do from my mom. Guess that’s where I got my gardening bug.
But I am doing some gardening preparations. Finally got my seed order into the seed company – as usual in mid-March. But all those problems (which still keep coming) stole and steal my time from what I want to do and need to do. Often those coincide but when the latter means fixing big problems, I resent that.
So, I hope the sun, spring and warmer weather will kill all the problems and maybe “burn” the perpetrators a little. And “burn” can be taken in other ways than fire. I don’t wish the latter on anybody.
Enjoy the spring. Meantime, here are a few photos from my gardens past to enjoy.
Four-year-old Only Child ready to garden in April
Only Child in her backyard patio
Backyard Garden 2018
Tulips in bloom spring 2018 backyard garden
Snow flower in my outside garden Apr 9
Still too cold outside but at least the sun is shining for now. I’ve been doing indoor gardening and took some shots of that as well as outside.
Yes, I saw the first flowers outside – a lone crocus and some snow flowers and a few clumps of irises and tulip plants trying their best. Took some photos yesterday and Sunday. I’m going to need this hope for good spring weather because of what’s coming in a few days. I’m worried and on basement watch and warning.
Because it is coming again – more rain – too much rain – too many mm of it over five or so days. With wind mostly from the East there is a big risk of water getting in my basement and others’ basements too. See The Weather Network for Toronto. This is my big nightmare mostly caused by that contractor Nigel Applewaite who messed up a few years ago supposedly waterproofing my basement. He didn’t dig deep enough and then had the nerve to blame it on the drains. Well, I had the city check the drains twice and they showed fine. After a half-ass attempt by contractor Nigel Applewaite to find out where the cracks were he had missed or new cracks in the part not waterproofed – he bailed out, washed his hands of it. He isn’t a member of the BBB so I make a point of blacklisting him through word of mouth and word of blog.
Meantime, here are a few more garden photos – inside and outside that I took. Enjoy.
Tulips and Irises trying
And inside the house
Poinsettia still in April
Flowering begonia on bedroom windowsill
Only Child Writes
Only Child in shadow in the Japanese Garden at Canada Blooms
Saturday my friend Carol and I headed for Canada Blooms, the largest Canadian garden show held in March every year. I’ve been going for almost 20 years so have seen the changes including in location. I still like the original location best – the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto – on two floors – lots of halls with exhibits, a large roomful of plants and garden related products. I still remember one year when I went with another friend and she brought four of her friends too. So, in the market room, there were six of us wandering around and getting separated from each other constantly. I kept thinking of those mittens with the yarn joining them so you could thread it inside your coat for a mitten to come outside each sleeve. Mothers, including my Mom, used to knit them. For Canada Blooms, the yarn would need to be extended to join all six of us, so we would stay together
The past four or five years it has been held in the Enercare Centre located in the CNE grounds – still downtown by Lake Ontario but a little to the west. Here, the CB location is one room only for exhibits – much smaller and in places dark, plus a small brighter room with garden stuff for sale. The first year I complained in an email to the organizers about that dark room and the almost inaccessible area for a speaker in a wheelchair . The latter was fixed but the lighting, while improving in some areas is still dark. The marketplace is still small but has expanded into the main area. But this main area is all the National Home Show and it is daunting to try to get through it all. Carol and I decided to avoid looking around there except for the Kitchen Stuff shopping and a booth selling really good cookies – a small enterprise. We both bought some packages of cookies – gluten-free. Unfortunately, to get where we wanted to go and to even find it required going through the National Home Show area. The two are now together and you can get in to the two for the price of one. Still I prefer when they were separate and Canada Blooms was at the Metro Convention Centre.
Tree of Roses at entrance to Canada Blooms Marketplace
Still CB was better this year in other places despite some dark areas in the bigger room. The speaker on fusion garden was excellent but we didn’t like the backless wooden benches we sat on for the talk. Carol’s neck got sore from it and my feet couldn’t reach the floor. Canada Blooms was also a welcome break from all the snafus and problems I’m still dealing with. That ugly nasty-looking guy may well be back here in next week’s post.
But neither of us could find a plant we wanted to buy. So no plants bought at Canada Blooms. First time for me. Next day I bought a hyacinth at my local garden centre/florist to make up for it.
Meantime , below are a few more shots I took of a fraction of the exhibits at Canada Blooms.
Wooden frog at Canada Blooms
Backyard Garden at Canada Blooms
Only Child Writes
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.