Tag Archives: Only child

CRA gives seniors short shrift

It used to be important to get your annual tax returns in on time. Then it could take up to six weeks to get your Notice of Assessment – to find out if you did your returns correctly and if you owed more or less or were getting a return. Not anymore. Now the CRA is saying to wait eight weeks.

But that’s not correct. A friend of mine who is a senior filed a few days before deadline and she just got her Notice the first week in July – that is one week later than eight weeks.

But my situation is worse. I had to phone the CRA customer service line and did so July 11. Here is my story.

I mailed my tax returns for 2016 on April 28 (our deadline was May 1, 2017 because April 30 was on a weekend). I sent the returns Priority Post with a signature required. They arrived on time and there was a signature. Because I tracked it online I was able to print out the signature before it disappeared at the site a few weeks later. I also had my mailing receipt from the sub-post office. So I had proof of filing on time,

Nothing had arrived in my mailbox and so July 11 I made my phone call. The customer service person was good. She checked and found that the last entry they had for my tax returns was that it had been inventoried as received the third week in May (three weeks after they received it). She suggested she do a Status Enquiry which is basically what it says  and is a reminder that the clerks who are checking the returns better get off their asses and go through the return. She said it could take up to four weeks and then I should get my N. of A. So I authorized her to do so.

Nothing happened for weeks. As the one month deadline approached, I again called the CRA customer service and the fellow there checked the status. My return and notice of assessment would be completed August 11 and then mailed to me.

August 11 is exactly one month after the Status Enquiry went in.

I received my N of A Tuesday, August 15. As I had figured out I owed no money and was getting nothing back – everything in that area is a big fat zero. I was a few dollars out in my calculations. But I am still living below the poverty line.

But the kicker is a lot of the extra seniors’ funds I get from both the federal and provincial government depends on this Notice of Assessment. No Notice of Assessment by mid-July and I don’t receive (if only temporarily): my Ontario Government Energy and property tax monthly grant payment, and from the Federals the quarterly HST/GST tax rebate, my Ontario Government Seniors Grant – a lump sum of $500. you can get once a year if you apply for it, which I did. I also lost the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) which with my low income I had become entitled to. And my Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors (provincial) ran out the end of July and I got notice I would have to re-apply because they hadn’t received my Notice of Assessment from the CRA. That was the same reason for the GIS stopping and I have to re-apply. I have re-applied for the drug plan – at least the application time deadline is the end of September. The rest I am supposed to get at some point in time. I still have my meagre Canada Pension Plan money and the actual Old Age Security payments coming in.

In the meantime, excluding the lump sum for seniors and the quarterly GST rebate, since July I have been receiving $500 less a month. Fortunately in July, two editing clients paid me installments for work I am doing so that has carried me over to mid-August. But the bills keep coming in including the big quarterly water and waste utility bill. I am not taking holidays this year – I can’t afford to travel.

Now, I’m living on a few hundred dollars until the next CPP/OAS payment the end of this month – plus all the other money I’m waiting for.

But I’m not holding my breath. In fact, I’m going to exhale all the way down to my federal MP’s office to complain. Clearly the timeline for CRA vis-a-vis seniors payments has to be extended if they can’t get the tax returns processed even within their own timelines.

So, I ask you: is the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) short changing seniors?

What do you think? Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 2016 and 2017, finances, Old Age pensions, Only child, Seniors

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 on gardens for sanctuary

The past few days I have been spending time in gardens. Not just mine but others and one big public one. I really needed to do so because of all the busyness in my life. Sometimes I feel like a top whirling around non-stop – until I enter a garden for sanctuary and healing.

Gardens and gardening to heal are not new. Way back in the times of the Egyptian, court physicians, instead of prescribing drugs, prescribed garden walks for royalty who had mental problems. What a novel idea. Maybe more physicians today should do that.

I am blessed that I belong to the East York Garden Club. While I don’t make it to all their meeting and events I did go to their annual pot luck dinner in a member’s garden – where else – last Thursday evening. I brought a fruit salad that I put together in a record 10 minutes – but most of it got eaten, so… In fact at first it looked like we would be feasting on mainly desserts until more members arrived with main dishes.

I talked gardening with many other gardeners, met a few new gardeners and caught up on news (not just gardening) with an old friend from school days – we had re-connected four years ago at one of the schools we went to.

And I looked at the garden and enjoyed the peace, the shade and just being there.

Saturday I roared over to one of the Pop-up Gardens of an East York Garden Club member a few blocks away. She is also a Master Gardener and very knowledgeable. She is getting shrubs etc. in her garden pruned and this was the before looksee. We talked about her pruning and the fact that both of us have special day lillies from a now deceased member of the garden club.

Sunday it was off to the Toronto Botanical Gardens and Edwards Gardens – both are together and it is hard to find the dividing line as the gardens just blend into together. I checked out the gift shop first as it closes before the gardens and then began walking through the gardens, stopping occasionally to rest on one of the benches and of course, look at and smell the flowers. And wouldn’t you know it – I ran into another member of the East York Garden Club,  a lady I have known for a few years who lives a block away from me.

Then there is my garden – I’m out there  on the back patio or front veranda to eat meals and absorb the garden. I walk through it to see how everything is doing. Lots of lettuce which I pick daily to eat. The black raspberries are finished for this year but the beans are starting up and the tomato plants have blossoms – some have small green tomatoes forming. I pay attention to what needs watering – in the pots or in the ground.

And yes, I also attack the weeds. That is my direct therapy to deal with all the crap shoved my way by individuals, companies and governments. I also sometimes name the weeds as I pull them and throw them in the yard waste bins for city pickup to carry off to the …well not the dump for yard waste.

So when the going gets tough, go to a garden. Pull weeds, absorb, return to normal.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Garden Clubs, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Gardens, Public Gardens, Uncategorized

Only Child on stealing my time and line

Not really my landline. Mine is the touch kind.

Over the weekend I had my phone and Internet connection stolen. I say stolen because the  utility company techie who came to fix it found the cable had been cut, probably by vandals and the same thing happened in another nearby area of Toronto. He put in an order for the guys who fix the cable to come but said he didn’t know when but within 48 hours.

Not good enough, especially as I don’t have a cell phone (can’t afford one right now – more on why in a future post). I made two trips to my friend and neighbour Ev across the street to use her land line to call Bell, the utility company. I needed the exact status on my phone repair this second trip. But before I made it to her place I was called over by Jan down the street. Ev was there. Jan said the line went dead around 9 p.m. Friday evening (this was now late Saturday morning) in the middle of a call she was making. She had to borrow another neighbour’s cell to call it in to Bell. Unlike me, who got a customer service rep in tech support almost right away, she was on hold for an hour and a half. And the neighbour needed his phone because he was going away for the weekend. Because it was late Friday evening Bell wouldn’t even book a techie to come.

So, we had three seniors with no cell phone and Ev’s line working only because she was across the street and on another feed.

What’s wrong with this picture?

So, back to Ev’s and this time I put on my consumer advocate cum former journalist hat(s). Calling  Bell was not straighforward either as their Toronto lines kept giving me the message “this number is no longer in service.” Huh? That’s the number on my current phone bill. I had to call the Television section, tech support to get the 800 number to call for the phone and Internet. And yes I got through then. But the customer service person had no idea why the Toronto line didn’t work and did check – nada.

However, I can’t complain about the help from customer service – especially after I pulled the senior’s card – seniors living on this street and we don’t all have cell phones. The guy couldn’t get the cable techs to come any sooner (the recorded message had said the service would be restored no later than Monday at 10 p.m. which was NOT acceptable) and it would probably be sometime Monday because the techie who fixes cables in my area is off for the weekend.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I continued to push for a solution, hitting on the senior angle and no cell phones (both true) and after doing some checking the customer service guy was able to arrange for temporary complimentary cell phones to come Sunday for Jan and I – and there was a record of her call Friday night so I got her ticket number as well as mine.

We didn’t get our cell phones but the service was back by 1.30 p.m. on Sunday. Guess advocating for us seniors helped. And if they had to get the cable repair guy in to work on a weekend, too bad. They need more than one for each area of Toronto and they should be on call, even on a rotating basis.

But the time it stole. Jan was more upset than I, although if it had happened on a weekday when I need the Internet to work, I would have been more upset. The situation did give me a chance to visit with a couple of neighbour friends. Jan and I talked at her place for a couple of hours when I returned there to let her know what Bell were doing and gave her her ticket number.

Now I’m back on track, sort of. Still wrestling with time stealers and putting my foot etc. down. I have made a list of what is important to me to be doing right now and for the near future – just the subject/topic or whatever. In no particular order they are family and friends, work (including clients and my new mystery novel Beyond Faith coming out this fall – anything with the latter, house (including grocery shopping and basic cleaning)  garden, cooking, health, reading, walking and some TV for relaxation.

Anything else is out the window and that includes volunteer stuff (excluding facilitating my East End Writers’ Group writing critique meeting tomorrow evening). Out the window are other volunteer stuff, especially when others in the groups (not EEWG) bug me with questions that they can’t even keep to one email. Out the window are requests to help other writers figure out how to do their business – especially when they are on writing and editing listserves and could get info from many people there. Out the window is anything more than the basic housework and there better not be any repairs – emergency or other – that can’t wait.

Now, let’s hope I can keep to this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

What happened to Only Child’s phone line

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Filed under Help and Support, Helping Others, Seniors, Time management, Uility Disruptions and Vandalism, Uncategorized

Canada Day got rained on

People walk through puddles on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day 150. (Fred Chartrand/THE CANADIAN PRESS) See story and more photos here.

 

This photo from a Canadian Press story gives one instance of the many Canada Day celebrations in southern and eastern Ontario which were pelted with rain. Ottawa, Canada’s capital was filled with puddles in the main celebration vein on Parliment Hill. Here in east Toronto, I finally made it to the local celebrations at Stan Wadlow Park. It is my Canada Day tradition to do this – check out all the vendors, stay around for some of the music performances, walk through the Rockery Garden and sit by the garden for a lunch that I make and bring. After that, I usually go for a long walk in that neighbourhood to look at and see the front of people’s gardens and their Canada Day flags and other celebration paraphernalia. In this walk, I wind my way back to one of the main streets and get on a bus to go home.

Not this July 1. I had visited all the booths and was just heading across the grass for the Rockery when the rain started to come down. It had been grey skies with a little sun when I left home but I had taken my chances. This was Canada Day and I wanted to celebrate. So, I brought rain gear – umbrella and raincoat and wore my rain-proofed shoes.

Might as well have worn an evening gown. All the good that rain gear did. I made it to under the big overhang of the clubhouse – as did several other people before it came down harder. No point hanging around until it stopped as the grass would be puddles and messy. But the rain gear didn’t really help when I stepped out to leave, so it was back under the overhang until the rain trickled down to a drizzle. Then, shaking my fist at the sky, I left.

So much for celebrating at a community event. I didn’t bother going to the fireworks after dark as I didn’t want to sit on damp ground.

The rain returned in batches of heavy rain and thunderstorms on Sunday too. But I manged to get back to Stan Wadlow park and walked through the Rockery. And I brought a lunch which I sat on the bench and ate. But no long walk around the neighbourhood. I had barely finished eating when the dark skies were back so I hurried to the nearby bus stop, and got on the bus just before  it poured. But this time I wasn’t heading for home. This time I headed down to Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto where the festivities were supposed to be continuing. There was something going on, but I had missed the best of it. At least it had stopped raining and the sun was shining. Maybe I should have headed down to Sugar Beach for the Redpath Festival. By the beach on the lake was parked a very large rubber duck. Despite it’s lack of appropriateness for Canada Day per se, the rubber ducky was appropriate for all this wet rainy weather. Mr. Duck was in the right place at the right time.

Monday, yesterday was fine – lots of sun and warm. I walked locally for a mile and a quarter and did some gardening as well as some weekly housecleaning. And I cooked. Nothing stopped me from cooking this weekend. And eating. And raising a glass of white wine to toast Canada Day 150.

But all this rain we have been making me think. Especially as my hose is still curled up from when the handyman fixed the tap and put on a new attachment at the other end of the hose – over a month ago. I haven’t needed to use that hose yet. We are really being rained off this earth – if you look at all the photos and videos from around the world. With the exception of a few places like parts of California, earth has turned into a huge washout. Is there a  message in this? Should we start building arks or going to outer space?

I also decided to check out a few rain statistics. Here are a few links to check out

National Weather Office in Georgia

The Weather Network (pick your city and pick your video).

And less we forget about just one of the big rainfalls this spring and early summer. Here’s one town in Quebec.


François Lussier rows along a flooded street in the town of Rigaud, Que., west of Montreal, on May 8, 2017.
GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

In Toronto, Toronto Island, across one part of Lake Ontario, is still closed to visitors. Only those who live there and make deliveries are allowed. No ferry boats of tourists. But on a good note the water on Woodbine Beach is receding.

And here’s my dormant hose.

 

Perhaps if we all shook our fists at the sky. Collectively. Like a reverse rain dance. Never mind what your beliefs of why the rain. All this rain, heavy winds, tornadoes and the like come from the sky.

One two three. Shake that fist.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada Day, Extreme Weather, Floods, Only child, Rain

Only Child joining in for Canada Day 150th anniversary

Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and this Saturday, July 1 is the big day. Lots of events  happening all over Canada, including Toronto – local community, downtown in City Hall Square, Harbourfront on the waterfront (if all this too much rain hasn’t drowned it). I plan on going to some of them – weather permitting.

But I also want to spend time in my garden. It has been a challenge to get seeds planted and plants transplanted and the weeds. A friend described her yard akin to something for snakes in the grass.

Gardens and gardening are something Canadians do and enjoy. There are so many public gardens throughout Canada including Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC,  Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens in the Niagara Peninsula area in Ontario, The Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario and Halifax Public Gardens. Toronto also has its share of public gardens – The Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre, The Toronto Botanical Gardens and Edwards Gardens, Allen Gardens Conservatory, and the gardens at High Park to name a few. You can get a more extensive list with links to the gardens across Canada, province by province here.

And my garden – weeds and all. I have gradually done weeding and the garden is starting to look presentable in most places. The lawn needs cutting then and it would have been done Sunday but just as I came outside to mow the lawn it started to rain.

But my garden has roses the colours for Canada Day – red and white. See the photos I took later on Sunday. Yes, the sun came out but the lawn was too wet to mow, even with the old fashioned push mower, which I have. And yes, I also hang out some of my laundry.

Happy Canada Day to all Canadians and to my American followers, happy July 4 as that is also coming soon.

Peace and good weather – no rain please. People are being flooded out of their homes and farmers are bailing water from their crops.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada Day, Gardens

Only Child says overwhelm causes forgetfulness

The look of Only Child in overwhelm

For just over a week I lived in overwhelm. I knew I had too much on my plate and started a “program” featuring the three D’s – do, delay and dump. The idea was to decide what was  most important in my life, what wasn’t important, and what was stealing my time. And as I found out stealing my mind. The number of items that disappeared in my personal black hole increased. Some have surfaced; some have not. It reminds me a bit of when my mother, when in her late 50’s she took bacon instead of steak out of the freezer for our supper. I, then in my late teens discovered the mistake long before the meat had thawed. Not exactly losing or misplacing items, but close.

My mother was having a hard time dealing with living life without my dad who had died a few years earlier and her escalating arthritis. So she had loss, grief and health. Money was not an issue

My misplaced items signify more and some are different. For example, I wanted to wear a specific sleeveless black T-shirt which I had owned for many years. But I couldn’t find where it should be or where it shouldn’t be and I looked several times both in artificiahav

Nada.

Yet I was 99 per cent sure I hadn’t at any time put it in the used clothing for the Diabetes Association bag. Ever.

Something strange was going on here.

It wasn’t until I returned home after a shopping expedition to buy a replacement T-shirt ( and didn’t find anything suitable) that I found the missing T-shirt. I was still furious about it being yet another item gone missing that I meticulously checked all the places again. And I found it in one of the places where it should be, i.e., the drawer where I put items that I’ve worn once or twice but they still don’t need to be washed.

I’m sure all the fuss about finding that T-shirt has something to do with wearing something I am familiar with, especially when you consider the chaotic unpredictable world we live in.

A few other items still remain lost in inner space. One is corn cushions for the soles of my “bad” feet. I know I bought two packages at the Rexall store – two because that is the only drugstore that seems to carry the padded ones and I don’t live close to a Rexall Drug Store. I paid for two and I know that the two packages came home and that I put them in the drawer where I keep all my bad feet paraphernalia. That burns up more than my feet because it costs me, as does all the health crap I have to buy or get done for my health. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

The funniest one is when my son was helping me remotely with transferring library books in e-pub once downloaded from my computer to my Kobo. Yes, I had the Kobo all right. But I couldn’t find the short cable that connects the Kobo to my computer. I told my son that I had the charger (I finally ordered one that you can plug in your Kobo to recharge it without turning on your computer) and the cable in it, but couldn’t find the cable for the Kobo to connect it to the computer. All this while I was frantically checking through desk drawers.

“That is the cable,” my son said. At least he didn’t laugh.

I knew the cause right away for forgetting that the charger did not come with a cable.

All the while my son and I were doing the computer remote fixing, I felt like I was coasting – almost like my voice, my body and my mind were separated.

And that is the way I had been feeling for a week and a half before trying to get too many things done to meet too many deadlines, and deal with weather and possible water in the basement and one of my many health issues acting up.

Immediately after Martin and I got off the phone I started to tidy up some of my office – my desktop and the few files needed to be put away.

That only brought on more forgetfulness, misplacement of items, and anger and frustration. I couldn’t seem to find the bills I knew I had paid at the beginning of the month. Finally found them in my Problems to be Solved folder. They  weren’t the problem – they had been paid. But I discovered in my bills to be paid was an unpaid phone and Internet bill for this month.

I am never late paying that bill but the utility company moving the date due up five days didn’t help with my memory.

The problem was twofold – I had too much on my plate to do so didn’t do some of the things I regularly do – i.e. keep a budget up to date including keeping track of bills that need to be paid and paying them on time. Of course I paid the bill online right away and through my account let the utility know I had just paid it and where, so I have a numbered receipt now.

But when I did that and when I looked at my now tidy corner of the office where I work, I felt better.

Next day, which was yesterday – Monday, I still started out sluggish and feeling overwhelmed. But I was determined to plow through as much of my “to do” list for the day as I could. When I did and saw what I had accomplished, I felt even better.

Maybe taking the time to do some gardening and going for a short walk had something to do with it.

But there are still things to rein in – like email. I have to get off some of these meet-up things I’ll never go to and some of the writing groups and other interest-related stuff that just takes up my time. I need to delete some of what I do (and one I thought I had came back today and I have to deal with it. This is one where the people in charge weren’t clear about what had to be done and I’m not the only one confused here).

And then there is all the crap I have to do for my health and when I have to do it. Yes, I’m reining in that too. Doing what I have to but where I can, when I can. Not dropping everything else to spend a lot of time doing this and that. If I forget to do something for my health once, so be it.

It is like I told my friend Maggie when I finally had time to call her early Sunday evening. “I don’t even have time to call my friends.” Now, that’s sad and unacceptable.

So is not getting enough sleep at night. But the last two nights I’ve had no problem falling asleep. It’s just that I wake up two to three hours before the alarm goes off and have trouble getting  back to sleep. Or don’t get back to sleep.

The weird thing is that happened Sunday night into too early Monday morning. And Monday – yesterday – is the day I got some of my equilibrium returned. Go figure.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

How Only Child wants to be and feel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Burnout, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Memory loss, Stress, Time management, Uncategorized