Tag Archives: Home and Garden

Only Child says snow snow – yech!

Last evening and overnight, Toronto, Ontario got blasted with the first snowfall of the year. At 14 cm it is certainly not the biggest snowstorm, but being the first one of this season, it seemed like way too much. Especially if like me you had to shovel all the white stuff. Especially when the two guys you used to hire to shovel your snow the past six to eight years seem to have disappeared.

As a senior, I shouldn’t be shovelling the results of big and/or heavy snowstorms. Especially as I am just now getting over a 48-hour virus – which was probably caused by an allergic reaction to too much dust. I don’t have time to dust my place very often and I certainly don’t have time to shovel snow – repeatedly during the winter season. Cutting the little lawn I have repeatedly in the summer is a different story. Especially using a hand mower as my late dad did.

Dad also shovelled the snow when I was growing up – until he got cancer.

But storms weren’t as bad as now back then (1950s and 1960s) – at least on a regular basis. Yes, we had some doozy winter snowstorms. I remember walking home from school at lunch time (yes, we didn’t stay at school for lunch unless we lived too far away) and the snow was up to my thighs. But I was so much shorter then and not so wise, not so knowledgeable, and well, a kid. Now, I’d just like to skip winter – not just for the snow but we get too much of this mixed precipitation and then there are the ice storms.

Actually shovelling the snow was very invigorating. Lucky my virus seems to have either disappeared or got buried for now. But I would still rather go for a walk…in the freezing cold? Temperatures nose-diving later today and will stay that way for the next couple of days. Brr!

Below my signature are a few more photos  of the snow on my property  before I dug in and shovelled.

Do you shovel your own snow or does somebody else? Or do you live in a rental apartment or a condo?

Do you consider snow shovelling a winter sport?

You can probably guess what my answer is as I don’t take part in real winter sports. But I like to watch figure skating – probably because I used o skate as a child and young adult – nothing fancy, just enough to keep from falling as I glided around the rink – outdoors or indoors.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Recycling bins snowed in back of driveway

 

Backyard patio snowed in

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Life demands, Only child, snow shovelling, Winter Weather

Only child’s take on dining out(side)

Only Child with Mom in the backyard

In the stifling hot days of summer, my mother would haul out the whole paraphernalia for our family of three to eat outside in the summer. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s when air-conditioned homes were not the norm. But at suppertime, our backyard had shade.

So, with some help from Dad and me, and several trips – from the kitchen, down the side stairs, out into the driveway to the backyard went a small card table, three chairs, table cloth, serviettes, cutlery, plates, and all the dishes of food – depending on what we were eating. And yes, it was often hot food. But the entrance to the backyard was inviting – an archway of red roses.

Only Child’s Dad under the backyard entrance

It was enjoyable eating outside in the breeze. But when even the temperature in the shade rose too high, mom used her backup plan – eating in the basement. Before the basement renovation, we would sit in our own private dining room with black floors, huge cement pillars, a furnace turned off for the summer, the old coal bin (which remained after the switch to oil heat) and mother’s pride and joy – her root cellar where all her canned jams, pickles, green tomatoes and the like were stored.

You could say it was all a labour of love combined with necessity – either roast or eat the roast, be cool or sweat.

But Mom had a dirty little secret, one which was shared among some of the women on her side of the family.

Except for cooking, canning and sewing, my mother hated housework.

I don’t recall her even doing a weekly housecleaning, except for laundry and it got hung out (even sometimes in winter) until she purchased a clothes dryer. But vacuuming and dusting, cleaning bathrooms, etc.? Only if company was coming.

Then it was the big hustle to make everything neat and clean. Put away in closets and drawers were all her sewing paraphernalia – including the portable machine. You see, the home for all of that was the dining room table. And we needed that for the dinners for company. Company was mostly family and some friends. Mom did love to cook and bake and our family loved to eat.

But cleaning the house. Not in our genes.

And I think this dislike, even hatred for doing housework, is in the genes. I can’t find any scientific proof, so I will use anecdotes. My mother’s youngest sister , my godmother, was the same – loved to cook and bake, garden, and can, but clean? However, my godmother was a farmer’s wife, so there was lots else to do that your average housewife of the 50s and 60s didn’t do. But that doesn’t explain one of my Detroit Michigan cousins – who loved to sew and cook but hated to clean.

Are you getting the picture?

As for me – well I love to cook and garden, but freeze and dry garden vegetables and fruit (sometimes from the Farmer’s Market, not just my garden). I used to like to sew but lost interest over the years – I blame that on other interests taking over, lack of sufficient time, but also bad eyesight. When I am forced to mend an item of clothing, I can take more time threading the needle because I can’t see the hole, than actually mending. And this from a woman who made all her maternity clothes and used to quilt by hand.

As for the weekly housecleaning – some of it gets done – the laundry, changing bed-sheets, clean kitchen counters and sinks, and vacuum or mop. Dusting? Maybe every six weeks – to borrow a friend’s phrase “too much work.”

But nothing beats going outside on the veranda or in my backyard patio to eat my meals. I have it easier than Mom. Sure, for the backyard, I have to use a side door like Mom. But there is a patio table and umbrella already out there, so it is just bring out the food, sit down and eat. And breathe in, feast my eyes and nose on the flowers and veggies in my garden.

Top of my patio table up close

 

And try to keep the wasps away. I’m allergic to them. But it’s my patio and my garden.  So when it’s not raining, I’ll sit, eat and enjoy.

Looking from the patio at fresh lettuce, rhubarb and oregano

 

So, do you regularly clean your house, condo or apartment?

Or do you have better things to do? And if so, what are they?

I’d like some comments about this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family, Garden, Gardening, Heat summer, Hereditary, Home and Garden, Mom and Dad, Only child

Only Child looks at fall

Soon to go inside for winter

Soon to go inside for winter

Continuing along the line of last week’s post on back to business in September, September also means a return to fall and then we know what happens after that.

The Weather Network presented their fall forecast last evening. I’m not going into that right now. You can view it here. It is what the word “fall” conjures up that is running around in my mind.

Back in the grey ages (1950s and early 1960), fall meant my dad had to change the screen windows for storm windows. Yes, that meant climbing up on a ladder and physically removing all the screens and putting up the storms – about a dozen windows. At least we don’t have to do that these days, but fall brings up more chores.

Clearing out the garden isn’t a chore, but everything else is. Cleaning the eavestroughs or getting someone to do so – in my case I hire someone but he has to come back several times to do more cleaning thanks to the black walnut trees which shed somewhat gradually (although you wouldn’t believe when you look at the ground) over six or more weeks. A few leaves have fallen down so far but most of the leaves on the trees (there are two walnut trees in my next-door neighbour’s yard that hang over – not complaining about that as they give me patio shade in the summer) are still green. Not holding my breath here.

Patio and verandah furniture will have to be brought in and the air-conditioner covered. There will still be a few more lawn mowing sessions. I finally got my eavestrough problem fixed – I hope, but that saga is for another blog post

For me, fall brings mixed blessings and curses. The latter is tied in a lot to what comes next – winter. And this one won’t be as mild in southern Ontario as the last winter according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

But the significant sign of fall for me is that my old patio umbrella finally stopped working. I had closed it for the past Saturday’s rain and wind storm. Part of the top blew off (thank you God, she said sarcastically). Still trying to decide if I should go through the time-consuming rigamarole of getting a new one now or leave it to next spring. There might be end of season sales on patio umbrellas but I could still run into the same problem as last spring when I was looking for a new one – there weren’t many suitable available and I did check out online and in person, sometimes with a friend. That’s another thing – besides the check online and in flyers for sales and availability of umbrellas, I have to get someone to either drive me to get it or pick it up and repay them. Not their fault, of course, but when you don’t have a car partly because you can’t afford a car and all its expenses….

Methinks I’ll just dump it at the end of the driveway later in the fall. If someone who can fix it wants it, good luck, they can have it. Otherwise the City of Toronto truck that picks up large items such as furniture can do so.

Now on to something more pleasant – fresh produce from the garden.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Fall, Garden, God, Home and Garden, Only child, Weather

Only Child says we are at the mercy of bad weather and bad forecasts

black_umbrellaI admit it. I am a Weather Network junkie – both online and on TV. So I see videos of the horrible weather and its havoc worldwide. The number one horror this summer is floods, with its downside of droughts.

No matter what country the videos cover, everyone and everything seems to be drowning. Except in a few places like southern Ontario – so far. Keeping toes crossed that we don’t swing over to the opposite. Yes, we need the rain, but in these unsettled (to put it mildly) times, rain usually means torrential downpours, severe thunderstorms, flooding and the like. I can count on two thumbs the one day and one night this summer that Toronto had a normal rainfall where each lasted about six or so hours – medium rainfall, steady, no thunder, no lightning, no flooding on the streets. Just what we need.

But except for those rainfalls, that is not what we are getting.

Here in southern Ontario we have drought conditions – not the highest in numbers but getting there. But the gardens seem to be surviving so far. Perennials, for the most part are bigger and better, and the vegetables and fruits are doing well. For the first time in several years I am getting a decent-sized, almost large (for just me) crop of carrots, lettuce, onions and beans with some peas in there for good measure. The black raspberries were numerous and the rhubarb is about the same as other years. So, the turnips aren’t doing well – some plants even died. So, the lawns turned brown. Some lawns (including mine) have started turning green again – without me watering it, although a few small pathways probably got some water when I watered the perennials, shrubs, trees and vegetable and herb garden. I made sure they received the water but at the same time tried not to use too much water.  I know the farmers need more rain although the ones with vegetables and fruit at the farmers`markets seem to be doing okay.

But do we really want the opposite? And all that could bring? Flooded streets and basements, sometimes to the point we lose our homes and have to swim or take a boat through the flooded streets, or climb to the roof and hope a helicopter will rescue us.

These days you can’t really live anywhere without this fear hovering overhead (literally). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Climate change has a lot to do with it. But, it is also like the lady on that bus in May 2015 said: “God controls the weather.”

So, I try to spend time in my garden – if I’m not weeding or picking beans, or watering the garden, I like to sit out there and read, look around, and dare I say it? just think.

It’s what I think about that has changed as has the weather – a lot of the changes in all areas, not just weather, are not for the better, and it seems to have gotten much worse since we entered the 21st century.

That’s my 10 dollar’s worth anyway.

Well, costs have risen too, although the Canadian dollar is in the toilet.

Sorry, bad connotation – the water element.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme rainfall weather, Extreme Weather, Floods, God, Home and Garden, Rain, Weather

Only Child becomes frenzied gardener

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

I love gardening. To me it is life and without it a lot would die inside me.

So why the past week have I turned into the frenzied gardener? Setting aside time slots on weekends, mornings before work, evenings and rushing outside to frantically dig, weed, trim and plant?

It’s the weather folks. And having too much else to do. And dealing with ongoing health issues. The latter and all the extra stuff I have to do for them is something I resent. If nothing else, with all the thing going wrong with my health in the last year, I learned that you can spend too much time dealing with health stuff – finding out what the heck is wrong – including making medical appointments and dealing with medical professionals’ bad judgements and the fallout from that, and of course what I have to do for my health.

First of all, I am not a big fan of prescription drugs, but I am thankful for the double content prescription eye drops my ophthalmologist prescribed. Not only have the drops stopped the eye pressure from decreasing, but the actual pressure has decreased. The latter is not something that is supposed to happen.

No, it’s dealing with all the nonsense related to my digestive disorder – this one has no cure and I’ve been living with it for years and since then it has taken on tentacles, so to speak. I’m not even going to go into my daily regimen for that. Suffice to say, to help ease the pain, help ease the situation, I take a lot of natural supplements and the like. And yes they help. But when I go to make what used to be a simple breakfast, it turns into a major production.

So, my garden is my lifeline and if I’m out there pulling weeds and digging up a storm, please excuse me. It does make me feel better and even drives the digestive disorder pains away. I get great joy looking at my garden and once the tomatoes are in the garden (yes, I’m over a week late with them thanks to the weather – too dry and fluctuates between too cool and too hot – more the former), I plan to sit out more in the garden and just read and enjoy.

And  yes, I’m taking yet another look at what (besides the aforementioned health stuff) is stealing my time and some of it is either going on the back burner or going out the window. I also have a lot of client work (for which I’m grateful) now and that is a priority. So is family, reading and walking. Too much social is not – I’m cutting back or at least spreading it out and that includes replying to email. Don’t get me wrong. I love email – it and the Internet were my first forays online back in the mid-1990s and except for blogging (which I love doing) I much prefer email and  searching on the Internet to trying to keep up with social media. And I’m cutting back on one thing with social I seem to get roped into – arranging work and school reunions of small groups of old friends. I still want to get together with them, just not do all the organizing.

It seems no one else wants to or has the time to organizes these lunches or dinner get-togethers either.

So, it will be one-on-one (or two or three) with friends getting together. That way I’ll see some of them, at least.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Roses in bloom late spring

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Time management

Empire Life Insurance apologizes and Hudson’s Bay reimburses

The garden is one way I have to heal

The garden is one way I have to heal

Last Friday, I followed through with phoning Empire Life Insurance and got a reasonable person in the call centre. After explaining the situation, she said she would look into it and get back to me Monday after 12 noon when she was back into work. When I said I had a dentist’s appointment that afternoon, we sorted out that I have vm and she could leave a message.

She did a couple better than that. She waited until 6 p.m. yesterday to call to make sure I was back home. And she fixed it. She checked my computer file and said there was a flag on it since 2013 to not send the letter and to automatically up the premium at the beginning of each new fiscal year in August. She explained that the letters are generated (from the computer) automatically and  sent out automatically unless someone follows the flagged info and someone missed doing that this year. She said it was human error and she apologized for the company. She also told me the amount of the increase which starts with the August bill and confirmed that the amount on the quarterly bill I have is the right one to pay by June 1  and to ignore the amount in the letter and the letter itself.

I accepted her apology. So, no repercussions for Empire Life Insurance Company now.

The companies doing something to fix their errors continues. I have mentioned before having problems with my prescription glasses which I bought at Hudson’s Bay Optical in December 2014. Unfortunately their warranty is only for one year – which covered the replacement of one pair of sunglasses last fall because the one frame handle kept falling off and could not be screwed back in – only could be temporarily glued. They still had one more frame like it, so the lenses were switched to those frames.

Last month the same thing happened with the new frame and in I went and had it glued back on with the caveat that new prescription glasses would need to be purchased as these glasses frames were no longer available.

Mother’s Day at the restaurant the frame side fell off again. My son snapped it in. Then two weekends ago, the right lens popped out of the regular prescription glasses. When I went in to have them popped in (this is free), I ordered a new pair of prescription glasses and of course had to pay full price as the warranted expired in December 2015.

The saga continues. Last Saturday the lens again popped out of the regular glasses and in a very bad mood I took public transit to Hudson’s Bay Optical. They didn’t mind popping it in again and did so. I was wearing the sunglasses and so just put the regular glasses back in their case. They did check and said the new sunglasses had left the manufacturers on Thursday and should arrive this week, Tuesday or afterwards. They also said the manufacturer is in the United States, which would explain the long time frame (pun intended).

Does this also explain the poor quality of the glasses? Because I decided to complain to the manager about all this nonsense. By then I was out of the optical department and walking through the cosmetic department. One of the cashiers called the manager and he came down.

We discussed the glasses problem with me making comments about the poor quality of the glasses and I never had this problem with Sears and had only switched to Hudson’s Bay Optical because the Sears store downtown had closed and the mall locations of Sears are too far for me to go on public transit. I also said I had been wearing glasses for 46 years and had never had lenses pop before. I also complained of the one-year warranty Hudson’s Bay policy compared to Sears two-year warranty policy. He said he would see what he could do about that.

Then he decided I should get half the amount back of what I paid for the sunglasses and had the clerk in cosmetics do the transaction.

While we were talking he noticed that the frame on my sunglasses had again become detached. I handed him the offensive glasses and like my son had done, he snapped it back it.

The next morning at home I noticed that the lens for the regular glasses hadn’t been popped in correctly – it was the same as I managed to do to pop it in with one corner not all the way in.

I’m hoping it stays until I go in later this week to pick up the new sunglasses. And I’m not wearing the sunglasses much if at all in case the frame falls off again. I cannot pop it back in.

The glitches/snafus are getting to be too much and they have affected my health. Last Thursday, I dealt with five problems – all sorted out; Friday was calling the insurance company. Yesterday I finally had that filling put in the back bottom tooth, so hope that is now going to be okay

What all this stress, all this having to be my own consumer advocate is doing is making my IBS and the like worse and it is scaring me. I’m making some changes – more exercise as in walking and gardening (neither of which was done from Saturday to yesterday because of the cold weather). Today it is still too cold to do more than collect fresh flowers but I hope to get out for a walk. I am changing my diet slightly, but mainly starting to drink more water as I’m sure I’m dehydrated. Have also done some more research on the Internet and will see a nutritionist at the Health Planet for suggestions on supplements to help.

And do some meditation regularly and other stress reduction things. Plus get more sleep. Eliminate some stuff from my life and postpone some.

All this may be very well. But God will have to do his part, i.e. stop sending me so many problems in all areas to deal with. And send me some more money to ease the financial burden. The latter is starting to happen. But the first part has to happen or all the lifestyle changes in the world may not be enough. I don’t have the good fortune to have a partner to help with things so the burden of all falls on me. Lessening it would be very helpful.

That’s my take anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Anxiety, Consumer action, Digestive disorder, finances, Gardening health benefits, God, Healing through gardening, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Life Insurance, Meditation, Older Women living alone and health, Pain, Worrying

Only Child says beware the silver lining

How I may have to view my garden - standing up on the patio

How I may have to view my garden and eating outside – standing up on the patio

Silver linings are used as something to look for in times of trouble. For me, it seems to be a weird, perhaps perverse variation. When a silver lining event happens, always an underlying troubling event or events (to put it nicely) connected to it happens. And 95 per cent of the time the bad event comes from out there. So no control at my end.

Here are a couple of recent examples.

You probably gathered from recent postings that I am in dire financial straits – this month especially because all my regular bills are showing up to be paid. But if I can stick to my strict budget, June is supposed to be much better because – drum roll for silver lining events – I have three writing, editing and/or teaching writing gigs coming up. The first one is for a client I already have. He informed me last week we could meet to get going on what he wants me to do (writing and editing) the week of May 24. A few months ago he paid me a retainer (long gone on paying bills), so I can’t exactly ask for more money until I work through this retainer.

Starting June 6 I am contracted to teach a four-session (every Monday afternoon) Memoir Writing gig at the North York Central Library branch in Toronto.

And this Friday I meet with a potential editing client for a possible manuscript evaluation gig – but it won’t start for two weeks until after she returns from holidays.

So, while June looks good (I also don’t have to pay a property tax bill in June), May is turning into the month from wherever.

The opposite to the silver lining under all this good fortune is something I never expected to happen. I had done my homework and saved enough money over the previous months to get some necessary tree pruning done. Job done very well and so I paid. Way after  the guys left (and I had another set-back that sidetracked me here. Coming to that shortly). ‘Without my permission and without even telling me, they had moved my patio table a metre and a half or so on the patio. This was supposedly so they could get the ladder up against the wall to go up to do some trimming of the walnut trees from the neighbour’s which were hanging over my roof. It was not necessary for them to move the patio table – the fellow who cleans my eavestrough doesn’t and he gets the ladder in there behind the patio table and to the right of it. The arborists could have done the latter. They also did not put the patio table back to where it belonged. I don’t usually allow it to be moved because it has a hole in the top to match up with the hole in the cement so I can put in the umbrella. I even waited to do this because I knew the umbrella would be in their way.

So what’s the thanks I get? When moving the patio table, nails on both ends joining the seats to the rest of the picnic table, came out. I phoned and called them on it and got “well, it was okay when we moved it.” I don’t think so. As soon as I lifted the table to try to move it back, I could tell something was loose.  The fellow said they would swing by and check on it (and hopefully hammer the nails back in and move the table back to where it belongs) either late Sunday or late yesterday or possibly today.

No show Sunday or yesterday. So, I left a vm message this morning and while I was polite, this time I mentioned why I don’t usually let the table be moved and could they please clarify if they were coming after 4.30 p.m. today or in the alternative, same time Thursday.

I cannot afford to pay a handyman to fix these arborists’ screw-ups. They did a good job with the trees (and I told them that) and were courteous enough to check with me after they did part of the job (before they were in the backyard) to see if it was to my satisfaction. I already paid them with a cheque and am contemplating putting a hold on it at the bank until they fix the patio table damage. But they do deserve to be paid for the tree trimming. Too bad you can’t hold part of the cheque amount back.

The other big silver lining is last Thursday at the ophthalmologist’s, after the eye exam, I got really good results, better than either of us expected. My good eye – the right one was seeing letters smaller and better. Even the left eye was too. But the best news was the double content prescription eye drops are not only stopping the pressure behind my left eye, but the pressure has gone down from 33 to 18 (whatever the measurement is for that). And the drops aren’t supposed to lower the pressure, just keep it at bay.

The shit in this silver lining? Saturday, besides gardening and having the arborists here, I was doing some laundry. What I didn’t hang out went in the clothes dryer. When transferring towels from washer to dryer I felt something fall from my glasses into the towels.. I figured it was the frame handle (again, it was glued on temporarily last month) from the sunglasses. Being in and out of the house a lot I sometimes keep the sunglasses on.

Uh, uh. It was my regular prescription glasses, the more important ones. One of the lenses had popped out. This had never happened to me before. I managed to get it in most of the way, but it still required a fast trip right then (I did eat lunch first) to the opticians. They popped it in, no charge, but while there I decided to order the new pair of sunglasses before the frame handle fell off again. I had enough left over from what I had saved for the tree trimming, so I picked out the glasses; the optician measured for them, and put the order in. The warranty for the original sunglasses  was only a year so is gone. I paid cash.

Then I went home and found the patio table situation when I went out back to do some garden clearing.

There are many more crappy incidents in the silver lining, but these are the two biggest ones – all unexpected. Before all this I had already cancelled me going to two events that require a fee and also postponed another event until next month.

What do I do now? Stop eating, or at least buying food, the middle of the month?

So, when people thinkI bring this stuff on and/or I create it – not true. Most of the shit coming my way; most of the things going wrong, I don’t cause them. And no I’m not going into the God stuff here, I’m saying that a lot of it is other people’s mistakes.

Is it something in the air or the water that makes people so stupid? Or are they just naturally careless?

Sheesh!

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes (and yells a lot lately)

 

 

 

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Filed under Arborists, finances, Good and Bad Luck, Home and Garden, Life demands, Only child, Problems, Silver Lining, Snafus