Tag Archives: outdoors

Only Child says SNOW is a four-letter word

Snow plough like the one Only Child takes issue with

Snow plough like the one Only Child takes issue with

Some of you already know I hate winter – the cold, the snow, ice storms, blizzards, etc. However, it is what the City of Toronto road ploughs are doing with the snow that has got my consumer hackles up and running.

First of all, the bureaucrats can’t agree on who does what or what the procedure is supposed to be. All I know is what I saw and found. First, the sidewalk plough fellow is doing an excellent job and no complaints there. However, the person manipulating the road plough is another matter. Apparently side streets are unfair game for homeowners if what happened in the so-called clean-up after the big snow storm Toronto got hit with overnight Boxing Day and into Dec. 27 is any indication.

The street plough had done its job; I had shovelled my driveway, veranda, and cleared over the one catch basin still covered in a little bit of snowfall on the road at the end of my property. (There are two catch basins close together there). For those who don’t know, catch basins have to be kept visible with no leaves or other debris covering them in spring to fall. In winter it is the snow – otherwise there is a risk of overflow of water during a thaw or rainstorm and it could land in the basement. Even the City of Toronto advocates keeping the catch basins uncovered. Somebody forgot to send the memo to the road snow plough person or as I suspect, this guy is stupid/doesn’t care/lazy – take your pick.

Just after I finished my snow shovelling job, this plougher (for want of a better word) started pushing all the snow in the middle of the road over by the side of the street in front of my house and part of the neighbour’s. Not content with piling it three feet (almost a metre) high, he let it fall over onto the sidewalk, leaving about the equivalent in width for one human foot to get through. The fellow who shovels my snow took care of the sidewalk after the next snowfall but the dumped snow on the road was too heavy then for anyone to shovel manually.

So I phoned 311 – the number for all complaints, etc. for city work. Without going into a detailed harangue, here are the different stories I got from two 311 people (I phoned twice, so far), my councillor’s assistant and my councillor (my comments are in brackets):

  • The supervisor for the department handling snow removal came to the site and took photos and said the contractor would be coming to remove the snow. Once the contractor is notified they come “soon” (“Soon” must be another four-letter word because it is now January 8 and no one has showed up to move the snow dump).
  • The contractor is monitoring the situation but nothing more now (How? By invisible noise-free helicopter?).
  • The City of Toronto looks after road and sidewalk ploughing but the snow removal is looked after by a contractor.
  • The City of Toronto looks after sidewalk ploughing but a contractor looks after road ploughing and snow removal.
  • The weather forecast calls for the possibility of a bit of rain tomorrow, but heavier rain is  coming this weekend.
  • Sunday it warmed up a little and about 8 inches of one catch basin was showing on the sidewalk side of the road. I managed to shovel a bit of it to make it a little larger but not by much and I couldn’t find the other catch basin and it was too hard to shovel through the snow dump. The height was still up to the top of my thighs.
  • Today is sunny so after lunch I will go out and see if I can remove more snow but I suspect I will be phoning both 311 and my city councillor’s office yet again. This time I won’t be polite.

I don’t remember my parents having to put up with this nonsense. Dad shovelled the snow; the ploughs did their job with the road snow and that was that. I also don’t remember ever having water get in the basement from anything outside. My late mother used to say we were safe because our house (and the houses in the neighbourhood) stood on a hill. Well, my house is up high, too, and only a few miles from the house I grew up in.

Sometimes going back looks like the better option. Time machine anyone?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


Filed under Consumer action, Mom and Dad, Only child, Rain, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Snow Removal, Toronto, Winter Weather

Only Child reboots and relaxes in the heat

Longshot of Only Child’s front garden where she now lives  and that Muskoka chair on the front veranda.

It’s getting hot and humid outside but I love it. When I was growing up I would sit outside in the backyard shade or sometimes the front veranda in the mornings. As I write in my memoir You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons:

On sunny summer mornings, she [my late mother] parks me outside with my colouring book and crayons at the card table on the front veranda. I sit there in the slowly receding shade from the house and carefully pick out crayons to colour in the trees, flowers, people, and cartoon characters of my vast colouring book collection. Boxes holding only eight crayons are not good enough; I prefer at least 24 crayons because then I can pick out different browns for the hair and different greens for the grass and trees. I pull out a crayon, lift it to my nose to inhale the waxy smell, then apply it to the drawings of people and places. I make sure my crayon stays within the outline and that I shade evenly. No wisps or coloured lines scattered all over the page. Already I am realizing that I need some order in my life. But not without the spontaneous sweetness of nature. Often I lift my head from my shading to stare at the green grass and trees along the block and listen to the birds tweeting. Occasionally, a neighbour strolls by. We don’t wave or say “hello,” but I sense the peacefulness, not just between us, but overall. The neighbourhood is quiet now and I need to absorb this. It is more than just breathing – it is my reboot into living after confrontations with the Bully. Of course, I don’t figure this all out then. I am just content to soak up the moment without any angry outbursts.

(Copyright 2012 Sharon Crawford; excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons)

In the above, I am cooling off from much more than hot weather but from yet another encounter with The Bully.  However, on these hot humid summer days, we are more concerned with keeping our cool in another way. You’ve probably all seen those newscasts of parents leaving kids in steaming hot cars while they went inside an air-conditioned mall to shop. Or someone left a dog in an overheated car. Are these people stupid, careless, or has the heat gotten to them?

You never leave anyone or any animal in a hot car in the summer if you will be away from the car for more than the time it takes to fill the car up at a gas station (and then you are right there). If your car has air conditioning, it goes off when you turn off the ignition. Just think hot seat when you return to your car and sit down.

In fact, if you leave your car in the heat, take your children and dogs with you.

The mortality rate from heat exposure (not just in cars) is higher than dying from a lightning strike or a flood. In the United States, the average fatality rate for death from heat wave exposure is 400 a year. And during the Chicago heat wave of 1995, about 600 people died from heat exposure within five days. Check out the Wikipedia article and its references at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_wave#Mortality for more information about the perils of heat waves.

Today, tomorrow and Thursday, I am going to restrain myself from excess walking and even heavy gardening. When I see a weed (or two, or three, or…) I will say “on the weekend.” Instead I will sit in the shade and enjoy my garden or sit on the veranda, as I do most mornings with my coffee, now that I have a Muskoka chair – shades (pun intended) of my childhood. After an intense session of editing or writing (rewriting more likely) inside (air conditioning on when necessary, although I try to use open windows, fresh air and ceiling fans only, when possible) I need the change to absorbing beauty, calm, peace.

If that doesn’t motivate me, the Wikipedia article will. And yes, I’ll be dressing cool in shorts and tank top and using sunscreen and wearing my big sunglasses and a hat. For more information on protecting yourself from the heat check out http://triblocal.com/gurnee/community/stories/2012/06/health-department-provides-hot-weather-health-tips/

More garden photos from this month are posted below. Enjoy.


Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Blue sea of Forget-me-nots which popped up in May – now finished for this season.

Raggedy Annie swings among the roses of the comeback rosebush (died, then resurrected itself in 2009)

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Health, Heat summer, Home and Garden, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Only child memoir, Peace and quiet, Reboot, Roses