Tag Archives: Ice Storm

Only Child’s meaning of Christmas

The Christmas tree decorated brings Christmas joy to Only Child

The Christmas tree decorated brings Christmas joy to Only Child

Christmas means different things to different people. To show what Christmas means to me, I’m going to take you back to last December 2013. Close your eyes and remember.

Early morning December 22, 2013, the lights, the furnace, the fridge, the freezer, the heat suddenly went off. Ice pelted down on southern Ontario and Toronto was badly hit including many fallen trees on power lines. Toronto lost about one-third of its tree canopy. It was like the wrath of God was unleashed full force and we were being punished.

The boarder and her cat (still living with me then) and I were stuck. We had water, including hot water because that is a separate utility here and the hot water heat is gas-run. So is the furnace but years ago turning on the gas furnace switched to an electric-turn on.

Mid-day Sunday, my son Martin phoned. He still had power; so did downtown Toronto. He wanted to put us up at a downtown hotel. We resisted at first – partly because of the boarder waffling and partly because I was worried about leaving the house. He gave me advice about removing the ice from the veranda and driveway (put down salt and a couple of hours later go out with a shovel and hack away/shovel it). I did that.

Next day, the Monday, the phone woke me up (a land line, my life line then). Martin again insisting we had to go into a hotel downtown because the temperature was plummeting later in the day. The room included the boarder and her cat. So, after talking to some of my friends on the block and elsewhere, I got the house situation straightened out (except for no power and no heat, so I left a tap in the laundry room on dripping).

We took a taxi to the hotel and Martin met us there. He got us checked in and helped me set up my laptop with the hotel’s Internet while the boarder fed her cat. Then Martin took us out for dinner at Fran’s Restaurant and left me with a Starbucks gift certificate for hot chocolate for the boarder and me. Much later after Martin returned home, he phoned me at the hotel. Tanya, my friend next door had just texted him that the power had just gone back on. I called Tanya.

We stayed in the hotel for the two days booked. Christmas around noon, Martin in a leased car arrived, paid for our stay,  and drove us back home. That wasn’t all – he brought Christmas dinner – ham, potatoes, cream cheese, rosemary and cooked it. I supplied green beans and the dishes.

Looking back, I realize this is the true meaning of Christmas. Friends and family helping each other and celebrating Christmas together. To me, that includes taking time through the year to get small but useful presents for those close to me. I do it bit by bit when on holidays and afterwards. The only mall part was going to the Hudson Bay Company – but in a smaller mall and I focused on the department and the person I was buying for. To me Christmas is not about playing shopaholics at the mallChristmas is not about sitting in a church for Christmas services. You might say my take on Christmas is secular/spiritual, but definitely not religious. My Christmas spirit is (no, not in a bottle, although I like the occasional glass of wine) connected to family and friends, and helping others when and where I can. My Christmas spirit is listening to Christmas songs – secular and religious – it’s the music I like, watching Christmas movies – old and new – on TV, looking at decorated Christmas trees and decorating my two foot high artificial tree,  and walking around outside looking at the Christmas lights. May not be able to do that this year either as according to weather forecasts we are supposed to get very high winds with rain. Not happy about that and I’ve told God what I think about that and what is the right thing to do.

That’s my Christmas story and I’m sticking to it.

Happy holiday to all. And may it be safe, especially from bad and extreme weather.



Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Christmas spirit, Extreme Weather, Hydro power outage, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child says why I won’t vote Liberal June 12 –it’s the laundry

Only Child contemplating voting June 12 .

Only Child contemplating voting June 12 .

We have an election coming up this Thursday in Ontario, Canada, and I’m not voting Liberal, the incumbent party for too many years where Dalton McGinty (McGuilty as my friend Kathy calls him and she’s right) screwed up in so many ways, in so many issues.

True he had to resign (where were the rotten tomatoes when he did so?). And I have respect for Kathleen Wynne, who took over from Mr. McGuilty. However, it was too late when she got in. She is not perfect and I don’t agree with everything she says and does, especially the fiasco of handing out food vouchers for those who had food spoliage from the ice storm that hit south western, southern and eastern Ontario in late December 2013. Pickup places were set up first in Toronto and then south western Ontario but it turned into a near riot. Not enough vouchers – twice when it was held in one place, for example. I didn’t bother going as I didn’t really lose much and others needed the payback more.

It could have been handled differently. Those Toronto people on Ontario Works received a cheque or direct deposit to their bank accounts for the $50 allowed. Excluding the small amount, why couldn’t this method have been done for others? The province of Ontario has our bank account info for direct deposit from our CRA tax returns for provincial sales and other tax credits.

And it’s not the big big expense over the cancelled gas plant and its repercussions that is the reason I won’t vote Liberal.

It’s my laundry and my high continually rising Hydro costs.

I can’t do my laundry when I want to because of Mr. McGuilty’s stupid hydro rates set-up. Peak time, Mid-Peak time and Off-peak time. The latter, with the lowest usage rates is 24 hours on weekends and statutory holidays, and weekdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. This means in spring and summer if I want to hang out my laundry during a weekday I have to put it in the washer and do the wash cycles after 7 p.m. in the evening to hang it out the next morning.  I don’t get up until 7.30 a.m. and with the little sleep I have time for I am not getting up at 6.30 a.m. or earlier to do a laundry. So I’m confined to weekends (can get tricky when there is a boarder also doing laundry) or have to do the washing cycles before I go to bed and leave the wet clothes sitting in the washer or laundry basket(s) until I’m up and can get them out.

The second one ties in with the first – the extraordinary and unnecessary rise in hydro cost for the consumer in Ontario the last 10 months – three increases – much of which is to pay back a hydro debt for mess-ups by Hydro One and Mr. McGuilty and the rising cost for delivery of the actual power to our homes. Besides creating the peak/non-peak rates, Mr. McGuilty also brought in these smart metres to record our exact usage of hydro. Pay-as-you-go would be fine except for where the money is going. In Toronto, water and waste bills increased a lot – but the City is using that money to improve and restructure old sewer and water systems. Hydro One messed up with some customers bills. I didn’t get hit – yet, but then I’m under Toronto Hydro. But some customers in Ontario received inflated incorrect bills in the thousands.

Smart meters? Right!

I also won’t vote Conservative because Mr. Tim Hudak will take us back beyond the dark ages of the 1990s. Remember the Mike Harris era? Hudak has been compared to Harris and Hudak comes out much worse. Hudak would eliminate 100,000 jobs (service cuts for Ontario employees – government and government related – teachers and health professionals). I’m not a big fan of unions, mainly because of the strike provision and believe many more services should be made necessary with no strikes allowed. But eliminating jobs to save money and here’s the stupid part – create more jobs? I’ll admit I don’t know all the ins and outs and ramifications. Apparently Mr. Hudak doesn’t either as critics have said the math in his equation doesn’t make sense, doesn’t balance.

I wonder who did the math for Mr. Hudak.

So, I will be voting New Democrat. And before those that remember yell “Rae Days” (after the first Ontario New Democratic premier Bob Rae), hold on a minute. Rae created these days of unpaid holidays to be taken one-day at a time because the province was in debt. Andrea Horvath, the current ND head, isn’t Mr. Rae. She’s not perfect, but I’m willing to give her a chance.
Unfortunately, I can’t vote for her directly. Unlike voting in the municipal elections where I can vote for who I want as my area’s councillor, I can also vote for who I want as mayor – this can’t be done for provincial (or Federal) in Canada. The New Democrat person in my riding, Michel Prue, is fine by me. He has been elected for the past few elections and he (and his administrator) helped me with my problem obtaining a photo ID card which I blogged about a few months ago.

So, that’s the way it stands with me. I don’t need complicated. Just the main issues that affect us the most.

As for the laundry issue, my mother might turn in her grave. She could do the laundry whenever she wanted and hang it out. She did the latter sometimes in winter and brought in frozen, but dry clothes.


Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Ice storm Toronto, Water Rates

Only Child says bury 2013 in manure

Only Child and son Martin in better weather conditions

Only Child and son Martin in better weather conditions

I was going to stay up late tonight to kick out one of the worst years in my life and also in the lives of all but two of the people I asked. But 2013 is not worth it.

Instead I’m saving that bottle of wine for New Year’s Day 2014 with the hopes that 2014 turns out much better.

Before I get into my year end diatribe I want to apologize for a mistake I made in last week’s post which a commenter corrected me on. Benedict is not the present Pope – he is the former Pope of the Catholic Church. Benedict is still writing the book on the life of Christ and in his research discovered that Christ wasn’t born on Christmas Day. So Xmas it is to me.

The year 2013, from a personal perspective, could be my year of living on a precipice. No matter what happened, attempts to solve it led to more problems and complications; new problems kept popping up and many are still hanging in there waiting to be solved. It was a year of little money coming in most times and that only picking up in the last couple of months when work came in. Now that I’m officially senior, I should be getting my first OAS check near the end of January 2014. Note the year. I know the government has set it up for seniors to receive the first cheque the month after turning 65. Not complaining about that but I am stating that it is my “luck” I was born in December.

The expenses with the house including repairs and utilities, particularly the latter are awful. Hydro and water rates in Toronto are unbelievable in their escalation the past year – two rate increases this year alone in Hydro and water rates are on a schedule of increases every year – 9 per cent. I know with a boarder we use more hydro and water – but the bulk of the increases are those rates and with hydro the delivery of the hydro is $79 with each bill (every two months). Hydro rates are because of the screw-ups made by the provincial government and water because the Toronto finally decided a few years ago that maybe it should fix an outdated water and sewer system. Not arguing with that but even as a senior I’m stuck paying the bills – although with water I can get it transferred to monthly deductions from my bank account. (My late Mom and Dad must be turning in their graves – they didn’t have such nonsense). Then there was all the fuss with Rogers Cable but with me yelling “bloody murder” (so to speak) at their corporate communications office (after the billing office refused to comply) I have $10 off per month for the next year only. But I did find out they have a pilot project (not in my geographic area) for seniors. There has also been dealing with Canadian Revenue Agency and having to pay extra for something I missed in the guidelines (yes, I paid; they were correct).

The list goes on and on, leaving me floundering around in overwhelm. However two things are consistent for all:

1.      Lack of enough time to deal with all of these things (I blame that for my tax return error). Focusing on the paperwork for becoming officially senior, which is where my focus should have been, got railroaded by all the other crap thrown at me, some directly connected with the senior paperwork (like trying to get an Ontario Photo ID card and not having a valid laminated birth certificate accepted as backup document by Service Ontario clerks). The ice storm and other extreme weather conditions and what it did and could do to my property land in here big time.

2.      Not being listened to when I prayed to God. Gee, a little help from the almighty might have helped with all these problems. I’m not asking for a perfect world but the ratio of good to bad is well, bad.

I figure that ratio for me is 25 percent good (and most of that is because of the help from my son and my friends Tanya and Alex next door during the ice storm the past week. The rest is my garden and gardening, my writing, promoting my book – the readings were and are a lot of fun, being still physically able towalk so going on long walks, and to a certain extent having a house to live in). That leaves 75 percent for the bad stuff that happened. And here I’m expanding a little to include what also affects others – like the weather, terrible consumer service, health problems, money problems, etc.

Something is wrong here. Shouldn’t the good be much higher than the bad?

Despite all the crap I intend to make the most of 2014 but there will be some changes. Among those are I am changing praying to God to using my instinct and intuition. During the daylight hours before the lights went out here I kept getting the “urge” to get a lot of things done as if it was the last day to do so – everything from laundry and other housework to getting a plumbing problem fixed. And in the days before the ice storm I kept worrying and talking about it and it happened – worse than I thought.  So I need to develop my intuition, not just to avoid trouble, but for the more positive as well. Clearly what is inside me can work better than asking help from blocked ears.

I am also focusing more in what I do with my writing, editing and teaching writing and also in what else I will do. Time management will be a big priority and it will be used for what I need and want. A lot will be deleted or ignored and if certain others don’t like it – tough. They’ve infringed on my life enough. And I will use my senior status to get whatever bargains and discounts I am entitled to and raise the roof (if necessary) to do so.

If I sound like a hard-ass only, think again. I intend to spend time with the softer nicer things like reading, listening to music, spending time with family and close friends, and my garden – the latter once this “f****** winter is over.

And don’t tell me to move to BC or Florida for better weather. The former has hurricanes and BC – well it’s earthquakes that could happen, but BC has an evacuation plan as my ex-husband now living out there tells me.

Let’s hope 2014 is much better than 2013 for everybody. And not as this so-called psychic on CP 24 TV news predicted– that 2014 will just intensify what 2013 had. Let’s ship this psychic out to Pluto. We don’t need her negativity.

Happy 2014 to all.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under 2013, Family and Friends, God, Ice storm Toronto, Life demands, Prioritizing, Problems