Tag Archives: Only child

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 on preparing for winter

Are you ready and all prepared for winter?

Today is the last day of the warmer weather in southern Ontario. Temperatures  start nosediving later today and it’s all downhill (literally, and I don’t ski) from then. We can look forward to snow, shovelling the white stuff,  freezing temperatures, winds, walking in slush and snow, but I hope no freezing rain and ice storms of any kind. Every time I think of the big ice storm her of December 2013 I want to hide away.

Hide away is part of what I plan to do this winter. I will go out if I have to – business meetings, book promotion events, and some dinners with family and friends – but less than in spring, summer and fall. Weather permitting, I also want to go for a walk a few times a week (in daylight). I am hoping to keep the running around doing grocery errands to a bare minimum so have been doing my usual winter grocery stockup, particularly when items on my list are on sale. Now if someone with a car would only drive me to get thses groceries, the running around would be less. Taxis and having grocery stores deliver (the very few that do and I do like to pick out my groceries personally) are too expensive for my budget. Kind of crosses out buying on sale anyway.

So what are you doing to prepare for winter?

Besides the grocery stock-up, I have had the eavestroughs cleaned and other house and property-related winter repairs and the like done. And the garden and  yard cleanup and the like is done except I have to put burlap on the junipers. Hoping to do that tomorrow. And for once I have my Christmas decorations up early (most before the end of November).

Now I’m looking at all the unread books to read and looking forward to curling up and reading them. And watching TV and listening to music/

And hoping one of the guys who shovelled my snow in past years will be available this winter.

At least I don’t have to worry about snow tires. Non-existent cars don’t need them.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Grocery Shopping, Home and Garden, Snow

Only Child hits beauty scam in Toronto’s Yorkville

It’s a good thing I was a journalist for 35  years. My instincts about when to be wary and question what is going on are still with me. Like yesterday when I was walking along Cumberland St. on the way back to Bay St. and was stopped by two young men in dark suits standing outside 108 Cumberland. No, not Jehovah Witnesses. As much as some of us don’t like their tactics, at least they are real and upfront.

Not so these young men and the bitch sitting inside the beauty shop. One young man handed me a packet of some face cream and gave me a talk about it. I mentioned something about allergies and have to be careful what I put on my face and he lead me inside the store to show me something else they carry. At first I thought it was another sample packet, but he gave me a demonstration of some under the eye reducer of puffiness. Okay, so far. Then he opened a photo album and showed me some before and after photos of his mother who he said was in his 80s in relation to another product, an anti-aging cream

Then the bitch sitting at one of the tables jumped into the act. The young man at first said she was his eye doctor and she only worked three hours a day. But when she went full force into her act it was clear she was not that. She worked for this store and was probably the manager. She went into a big spiel about I look like someone famous (the name of who escapes me now) and I said I was not her but was a mystery writer. Her tirade went on something like this.

I have nice skin on my cheeks but there are wrinkles around my mouth and my neck is a disaster.

I was wearing sunglasses because the sun was shining and my eye doctor (a real ophthalmologist) says I must wear my heavy duty-prescription sun glasses out in the sun. Ms. Bitch said, “you won’t even remove your sunglasses for me.”

She tried some collagen cream on me – said it was hyper allergenic and then went into her try to get me to buy the product spiel. Non-stop she went and when I said I couldn’t afford it she said “it’s not that you can’t afford it, you are just cheap.” She said I should do something for myself and insinuated that writing was not doing something for me.

She obviously knows nothing about writing. Writers write because they have to – for whatever reason – but they are doing it for themselves; if for no other reason it is their creative outlet. But what does this bitch know – she is too wrapped up in scamming people.

I told her I needed to see if the product caused an allergic reaction before I even considered buying it. She said that I could return it in two weeks and get a full refund if I got an allergic reaction.

No! No! I needed to see if the sample gave me an allergic reaction first. But she kept on with her spiel, which included lowering the price of the cream and then saying she would throw in  for free he other product which the fellow had put under my eyes. She said one time offer and if her manager (who she said was away) found out, would not like it. Really? I bet she is the manager.

And the guy? He wasn’t as bad, but give him a few months more of practice. No way his mother is in her 80s as he is around 35. She would be just past menopause when he was born then. Do the math. The woman in the photo may not even be his mother.

Ms. Bitch kept pushing and pushing for me to buy. I finally said, “I don’t like to be pushed.” And walked out of the store.

I didn’t look back to see the looks on their faces. But I’ll bet they didn’t see that coming.

As I continued walking along Cumberland, I could feel some reaction with the cream near my mouth. I whipped out a facial tissue and wiped and wiped. Fortunately I seemed to have caught it in time. Strangely, the cream under my left eye gave me no bad reaction and actually reduced the puffiness temporarily.

Back at home, on my laptop, I did some Google Research. The number 108 Cumberland Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, appears to have three different businesses. One, Forever Flawless, seems to have been taken over by Lionesse Cosmetics and Bar. Lionesse Cosmetics is a US chain and has a reputation for these hard sells and some even call them scams – at least at their Cumberland Address and their Las Vegas address. The company is not a member of the Better Business Bureau in Canada or the US.  Here’s a link to what others who have run into this have to say about this Cumberland location on Yelp. And for their Las Vegas location. Read down a bit and you’ll see the scam part. Sound familiar to my experience?

I felt elated and empowered that I stood up to this scam – and without yelling at them. Just that one sentence “I don’t like to be pushed.” And walking out.

What do you think? Have you ever been scammed? Or caught a scam and ?

Comments, please. The public needs to be educated and warned.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumerism, Only child, Seniors

Only Child on writing a memoir using the senses of smell and taste

Mom and Only Child in Backyard

The senses of smell and taste often go together – at least where food is concerned. There are, of course, some smells you definitely don’t want to associate with any taste – like a skunk’s smell.  But maybe that will bring in some taste in your memory. It does for me.

A friend of mine always had at least one dog. And one of these dogs was forever colliding with a skunk. You can imagine the stinky and messy results. My friend used to try to remove the smell by bathing her dog in tomato juice.

Tomato juice is a taste I like and it brings back some memories – my mother growing tomatoes. My mother making some God-awful relish from green tomatoes. My mother calling me to the side door of our house where she stood on the other side with a large tin can in her hand and showing me what was inside the can. Not tomatoes she had picked, but horrible green tomato worms. I remember her laugh here.

So you can see how taste and smell can work together to trigger something from your past. That something might just be a story you want to include in your memoir.

For those writing a memoir, using the six senses to kick start your memoir is one way to get your mind, feelings and emotions (latter two very important) back in your past.

When you walk into a Tim Hortons and smell the coffee, what does that remind you of? And when you taste the coffee? Does that enhance your memory?

This Tuesday, November 21 I’m teaching another workshop on Kick starting your memoir using the six senses. This time I’m at the Forest Hill Library Branch in Toronto. There is still room in the workshop for participants for anyone living in the Toronto Ontario Canada area who is reading this before the workshop time  (2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.) and day. You can either phone the library at or just show up. More details here.

I’m posting this a day early because the workshop is Tuesday, when I usually post to Only Child Writes.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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

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Filed under 1950s, Family and Friends, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Writing

Only Child on memoir writing using the six senses

Only Child with Mom and Dad at her godmother’s farm in the early 1960s.

I’m not talking about common sense here, although it could be a seventh sense. And yes there are six senses – sight, taste smell, hearing,  touch, and the sixth is intuition. And I’m teaching two workshops called Kick Start Your Memoir Using the Senses – this Friday, November 17 and next Tuesday, November 21.

As the title suggests we will cover those six areas. But the workshops are geared to the participants, not me, so I find out what they are writing and help them get organized to do so –  with tips on research and putting all that you find together, finding your memoir muse and getting started.

Here’s a peak at one of those things we will cover. First things first.

Why do you want to write a memoir?

Are you writing for family? To get something off your chest? For publication? Discussion using the below for kickoff.

What is the most interesting area of your life that is also different than the usual?  For example, your teen years, did you overcome an addiction, dysfunctional family? Ask yourself: what is your most vivid memory, the memory that evokes the strongest emotion from your childhood, your teens or your young adult years?  Your school years and school friends. Bottom line is focus on your theme or area of your life.

Decide. Hone in on the one that is the strongest and the one you can develop into a memoir. Ask yourself if you learned something from your story – that can be a key to deciding.

In next Tuesday’s blog post we’ll take a peak at one of the senses. But if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, you might want to consider attending a workshop. Both are at Toronto Public Library branches and are free. But you have to register first. Here is the information on my website.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Teenage Only Child with her Mom

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Filed under Memoir writing, Toronto Public Libraries, Toronto writing seminars, Writing, Writing workshops

Only Child asks: Is this good customer service? Part 1

Your customer service rep today

Customer service is becoming non-existent in my life if the past two weeks are any indication. Here is one of those real stories.

The Bank and the Safety Deposit Box

For 19 years I have had a safety deposit box at the same bank branch. The box’s location? Floor level. Not great for a senior with bad knees and bad feet and a bad temper when the first two act up.

So, I decided I would get the box changed to one higher up. Might as well get up in the world.

Well, pardon my knees – maybe I should have gotten down on them and screamed bloody murder.

No one at the bank branch seemed to know what the procedure was. First time near the end of the rental year for the floor box, when I went in about it, a teller told me to come in a few days before the actual fiscal year end. So I did and those who should know better were running around like the proverbial chicken with no head – except the chicken would score higher on the intelligence level.

The teller didn’t know but at least had the sense to check with Debbie, the Customer Service Manager. Debbie didn’t know how to close it either. Isn’t it her job to know the ins and outs of customer service? I was told that only the teller named Tina knew what to do and to come back the day it closes and she could do it all then.

It was beginning to sound like some secret ritual.

So I showed up the last day of the rental contract, the last day I could pay. Tina was there and transferred my payment from my chequing account. Tina tried to close the account and open a new one so the box could be moved.

The computer couldn’t do it. Tina said it would have had to be done a few days before and I said I did come in then but nobody knew what to do. She figured it would work on the Monday so said to come in then. Monday arrived and I was too busy with writing work (and dealing with other snafus – for another post), so decided to be courteous and call the branch and leave a message for Tina.

And ran into recorded voice mail hell. You can no longer just leave a voice mail message for someone at the bank branch. You get this female robot voice asking what you want – of course their less than pea-sized robotic brain has a limited number of what they will recognize. So the voice asked for my bank card number. Which I gave her. She said it wasn’t recognized and I immediately got back to square one when you call in.

I ended up calling the main line, complaining, and a very nice and smart representative named Dennis got me transferred to the branch…to Debbie, the customer service manager – oh excuse me, her voice mail. So I just left a message to pass along to Tina that I couldn’t come in today and was just calling as a courtesy. Tina called back shortly and I said I couldn’t come in before Friday but she wasn’t going to be in Friday. Friday is the only way this damn bank branch is open to 6 p.m. and I couldn’t see why I should steal from my work time to waste time at a bank because they don’t know what they are doing.

So I went in around 3 p.m. Thursday and got into the line. The manager, Vince, was walking by and I told him loudly all about my problem and that only Tina knew what to do to change safety deposit boxes, etc. etc. And that the others, particularly Debbie,  the customer service manager needed some retraining. He apologized – but I wasn’t impressed. He always comes across as an unintelligent jerk – a yes man who doesn’t listen. The previous bank manager, a woman, was so much smarter and helpful. She was quick to straighten out a mess one of her tellers made including writing the utility companies involved to tell them it was a teller’s error and I always pay my bills on time. But she’s not there and we are stuck with Vince and Debbie.

Tina did straighten everything out and I got my new safety deposit box at eye level. Tina also got my up-to-date email where  she said I would receive a survey. and I could tell what happened.

I expected the survey, but not a place to put everything.

The survey, not only had a place for comments about what happened, but asked the question “What would correct this situation?”

My answer? Get rid of Vince; retrain Debbie and train the rest of the staff.

Then I rated them: Tina A+, everyone else at the bank involved F-

Now when I go into the bank branch I’ll be looking to see if Vince is Gone Boy.

There are many more customer service snafu stories in the city of Toronto. Hang on – I’ll be writing more in upcoming posts. No one will be spared and sometimes I will name full names.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Actions Consequences, Banking, finances, Problems

Only Child – some hope on cancer

In the wake of Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie dying from brain cancer, I think we need some hope, some good news about this horrid disease that strikes and kills too many.

I don’t know how many of you watch The Weather Network on TV or online (I do both). But one of their meteorologists, Kim Macdonald, has been off for ten and a half months with breast cancer.

But Kim is back and she is winning over cancer. She is such a bubbly friendly person and I always enjoyed her weather reports, especially her 60  second roundups from across Canada. Often they featured animals doing funny weather-related things. Kim always used the right tone – not insulting or patronizing but more a showing of the fun when animals meet weather. She has been appearing on the weather casts late evening, sharing the time with other meteorologists – as has been the trend lately on that channel. Here is her blog Weathering Cancer. Inspiring.

Welcome  back Kim  – we missed you and glad you are better.

And on a personal note, one of my cousins who was first misdiagnosed with something else – but then correctly diagnosed with cancer when it spread to her lungs last year. She is getting better and the horrible chemo is actually shrinking the tumour. She credits family support and spending the summer at the cottage also with helping. Kim also had good family support.

Which maybe tells us something. You need friends and family to get through this cruel world.

I’ll end on another positive note with a link to actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus photos on her chemo session. Got to love her sense of humour here.

And what Kim Macdonald posts at the top of her blog:

I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt and friend. I’ve made my living on television talking about what Canadians love to talk about… the weather.I have breast cancer. It is not who I am. It doesn’t define me and it doesn’t make me special. It is my adversary and as such it will challenge me like nothing has. I think that’s worth documenting.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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