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Only Child Revisits Aurora

Only Child revisits Aurora where she lived for 23year

Only Child revisits Aurora where she lived for 23 years

I went back to Aurora, Ontario where I lived for 23 years. This wasn’t my first trip back since moving to Toronto in 1998, but my “first” since 2009. That and the two garden centres outside Aurora that Carol and I visited provided a welcome distraction from the kerfuffle of the consumer screw-ups and mis-communications of the past few weeks.

So, on Saturday, Oct. 12 Carol and I drove (well she drove) a bit north of Toronto to the first garden centre – Black Forest just north of King City. I’d never been there before. The entrance of plants and structures was interesting and inside – well, I’m sure it is very colourful earlier in the season with flowering plants. But that Saturday it was somewhat bare over in the plant section. No offence to Black Forest but more a harbinger of what is to come. With the switch to standard time lurking (first November weekend) the roll to all being downhill weather-wise has started.

The garden ornaments were interesting and inspiring. But Carol and I bought some bulbs, which is what I had come for. I bought tulip bulbs.

On to Pathways to Perennials – a truly fairytale place to visit to temporally escape all the crap in the world. P to P has a winding road (with forest on both sides) into the actual centre and an outdoor/indoor cafe. We didn’t go to the cafe but stepped inside the gift shop. More bulbs – I bought narcissus and hyacinth and Carol bought a small mirror. Outside we toured their small garden and here’s where the impending doom of winter showed with only a few perennials still blooming or not yet dormant.

From there we drove into Aurora – lots of changes even since 2009. The pub where we would eat (outside in the summer) is no longer there but we found another one, a small chain, but one with great food and it was even warm enough to sit out on the large patio which almost surrounds the outside. Afterwards we wandered around the unique plaza, St. Andrews Village, this Shoeless Joe pub is in, including into Starbucks. The IGA grocery store (or one of its derivatives) is no longer there and neither of us could remember its actual store location.

Carol left her car parked in the parking lot there and we walked down the few blocks to the centre of Aurora. The plan was to visit the somewhat newly renovated Aurora Museum (now the Aurora Heritage Centre) but it closed at 4 p.m. and we missed it by about 20 minutes or so. Carol had never seen the newer Aurora Public Library so we made a quick visit there. Then we headed up the street a bit and crossed over to see my old friends Mike and Lorraine Evans who run the Aurora Downtown Hardware Store http://auroradowntownhardware.tel/ They’ve been there (with varying store names) for 39 years.

Mike and Lorraine are a phenomena in these times of crappy customer service. When I lived in Aurora, I would go into their store, let them know what I was looking for and one of them would either find it or order it in. When I had to buy a new microwave, Mike even drove me home with it because I don’t drive and the microwave was too heavy to carry. The duo (they are married) also provided me (and other regular customers) with the names of reliable and competent handymen and I used to hire one of them regularly.

They are an interesting couple – in their mid-sixties – she has long grey hair and comes from New Zealand. He has grey hair (and it’s all there) and might be a few years younger than her. They have a daughter in her mid-thirties. And they have a cat, Leo, whom Carol and I met. Leo was sitting in Lorraine’s chair near the back and looked very content.

And yes, both Carol and I bought a few items we were looking for. When we walked in the store and I introduced Carol and said “hi” I went right into “I need to get a few things which I can’t seem to get in Toronto and don’t get the service there that you and Mike give” – or something like that. So Lorraine went into action, finding the merchandise and asking questions about what we particularly wanted from the selection they had. She even pointed out something on sale in one category.

Too bad we can’t “lift” them and their business into Toronto.

After that we drove back to Toronto and all my problems.

No, I don’t want to move back to Aurora. I know I’d just get bored after a few months. I need the city for the many cultural, etc., events and my friends here. But it was a respite from hassles. And with the great bus service up and down the main drag into the north end of Toronto, I realized I can do the visit myself. Not in winter, so not before the end of March (I have a reading from my book Beyond the Tripping Point, along with other Crime Writers of Canada members at the Aurora Public Library March 24).

I told Lorraine and Mike about it and they said, “See you on March 24.”

Check out Aurora, Ontario, Canada at http://www.town.aurora.on.ca

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Libraries, Peace and quiet

Only Child finds solace in her garden

Part of Only Child's rose garden in front by the sidewalk

Part of Only Child’s rose garden in front by the sidewalk

I’ve been seeking solace in my garden to get away from all the crap that has been shoved my way the last month or so. That is when one of these stressors – weather, i.e., heavy rain and winds – hasn’t gotten in the way. And the crap keeps piling up. Now the CRA messed up my tax returns on the notice of assessment and when I called they admitted their mistake and it will be fixed. Meantime, “the system”  won’t know this and so unless it is fixed before early July, the amount the Notice of Assessment says I still owe (but don’t) will come off my GST rebate for July and I won’t get my provincial tax credits (also July) until the situation is fixed. All for some clerical error at CRA. Not fair. I need that little extra to survive, or once the property tax and utility bills are paid, I do without somewhere (read health expenses for one).

My garden is my lifeline to comfort and some food. When I walk out into my garden and see they symmetry of the perennials, the shrubs, the raspberries starting to form, the onions and other vegetables coming up – even the ground where recent seeds were planted – I get some solace. The blend of colours – some white, red, yellow, blue, greens, silvers, and lots of shades of purple – the only spiritual nourishment in my life as I get no spiritual nourishment and help elsewhere such as traditional or non-traditional religion and faith. Faith and trust don’t seem to be in my vocabulary these days and it’s not by choice but from what’s been happening.

So I go out into my garden and absorb – sight, sound (birds), fragrance. I literally smell the roses which are now just beginning to bloom.

But there is a dark side to when I’m in the garden. Pulling weeds and digging are good ways to vent your anger and frustration. Each weed I dig up or yank out symbolizes the people, etc. who make my world worse. The pulled weeds are placed in the yard waste bins for city “garbage” collection to be dumped somewhere to go back to the earth. Appropriate. When we die our bodies disintegrate (if not done for us with cremation) back into the earth. A fit place for my stressors.

Sitting out in the garden in the sun or shade, reading a book, eating meals on the patio, or just taking in all the garden or collecting flowers are (along with writing) how I cling to sanity. Whatever sanity means these days.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Income Taxes, Life demands, Only child, Rain and wind storm, Roses, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child pines and whines for her garden

Only Child is waiting for this - and so is the Muskoka chair

Only Child is waiting for this – and so is the Muskoka chair

Tomorrow is the first day of spring – by the calendar. Most of Canada is still stuck in winter. Parts of British Columbia, particularly on Vancouver Island aren’t. Gardeners there have seen plants growing, been cutting the lawn and visiting garden centres for a month now. Here, in southern Ontario, Toronto specifically, a few plants were seen poking their heads out of the ground on Sunday. Last night (and overnight) more of that nasty winter stuff – snow-ice pellest- rain sloppy mix – what depending on where you live came down. So I was out at 11.30 p.m. last evening shovelling heavy snow it as it started to rain to try to avoid another session of water leaking in the basement.

I’m fed up beyond my eye teeth (and yes, I still have my own – so far) about all this winter crap. I want to get out in my garden and well, garden. When I was growing up, Mom, Dad and I were out there in April turning the soil and planting seeds. Not going to happen here this year at this rate.

Sunday, my friend Carol and I headed down to Canada’s largest garden show – Canada Blooms – for the annual early sniff and see of green, colour and GARDENS. Even with all that walking indoors, it still raised the spirits. And outside, at least it was sunny and dry, with most of the previous snowfalls’ aftermath melted. I bought two more houseplants – a spring cactus and another African violet.

Now we are back to square one. It’s supposed to be cold all this week. Next week more of this nasty mix of rain and snow – which as I previously posted we never used to get until the late 1990s.

At least we have daylight savings time with daytime lasting an hour longer and increasing in the evenings. When we hit late May sunset will be around 9.30 p.m. That’s my kind of season. You can guess what I’ll be doing outside most evenings then – maybe even after sunrise. My friend Tanya next door and I have been known to be out there pulling weeds in our gardens at dusk.

My Muskoka chair stares at me every time I go down the stairs to the basement. Soon, I’ll be able to get it back outside on the front veranda.

Meantime I’m pouring through the seed catalogue, getting my order, in well order. Now that I have received payment from an editing client (he wasn’t slow paying– it was two countries’ postal services – the US and Canada), I can actually buy the seeds. And growing extra coleus to bring outside (along with some other potted plants like the Rex begonias, rosemary, ornamental pepper and citronella) in late spring – if it ever arrives.

Anybody else anxious for the real spring to arrive? Or if you are in the southern hemisphere, do you dread the coming winter?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Canada Blooms, Extreme Weather, Gardening, Home and Garden, Indoor Gardening, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Spring, Weeding, Winter Weather

Only Child saves sanity through creativity

Edge of Only Child’s fall garden facing the street.

After my take on irresponsibility and sleep-walking through most of last week, I finally “woke up” Friday. The last residues of it all got blown away in the wind when I hit the gardening ground running this weekend. Then I took it inside to the kitchen.

We had a warm Sunday and first part of Monday, so I raked and swept leaves, cut off  the messy dead leaves from some perennials going into winter dormancy – hostas, day lilies and peonies, brought in some flowers – yes a few of those still around– pansies, chrysanthemums, lamium, and leaves with berries from the euonymus shrubs. Then I took it indoors – floral arrangements for the front hallway, kitchen table and kitchen windowsill. I also planted seeds indoors in pots for cinnamon and lime basil. I have some potted plants that you don’t usually bring indoors, but I did a few weeks ago – a tomato plant and pepper plant – both are still getting blossoms turning into cherry tomatoes and peppers, a lobelia  (annual) still flowering, and a dianthus (perennial). I carried on this indoor gardening into today and along with what was already there (coleus, African violet, Christmas cactus which believes Christmas is in November for flowering, jade, aloe vera, etc.) my indoor garden “centres” in the livingroom and bedrooms are growing (pun intended).

Sure, I had to pitch a few dead plants outside , but they taught me – when something is dead, bury it and move on. So, I’m trying to do that with friends’ betrayals, irresponsibility, etc.

My creativity continued with cooking (even dessert – I seldom make dessert from scratch, but this time did a rhubarb crisp from garden rhubarb frozen). And I did a few twists on some main courses. Today, I’m making soup for supper.

Doing all this creative stuff calmed me and filled me with hope for the future. It also cleared my mind. So did hibernating somewhat this weekend – only one phone call and a few emails, with the only “trips” away from home to get groceries or go for a walk – sometimes combined.

I don’t recommend being a permanent recluse – but the occasional getting away from the madding crowd can put things in perspective and kick-start you.

Now, I’m revved up for rewriting more in my novel, promoting my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point and editing clients’ manuscripts.

That doesn’t mean I forget about cooking and gardening and even cleaning the house. It means putting what you do in balance, including figuring out what is important. Obviously, some of the stuff I blogged about last week isn’t at the top of my list anymore.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Gardening, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Home and Garden, Indoor Gardening, Only child, Rhubarb, Sharon A. Crawford

Going soon summer – Only Child dreads winter

Only Child’s front garden – soon to go dormant for winter

It’s raining outside and when that is over it will start to get cool in Toronto. A reminder that fall is very near (this Friday to be exact). I don’t mind early fall, except for frost which sends me running out into my garden in the evenings to cover tender plants. Just trying to lengthen their season because I know the tomato plants, the nasturtiums, etc. will soon die and the perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, phlox, artemesia and rue will soon die down for the winter.

I dread winter. I don’t get SAD but winter makes me want to hide inside; then I get somewhat claustrophobic and want to get out but hate the cold, snow (walking through and shovelling), the ice and cold weather. So I bundle up and go out to walk and meet up with friends and colleagues. And try not to fall down.

To tell the truth I want another “winter” like last winter. The weather was rarely cold and the snowfall so little my snow shovel might be stiff from lack of exercise. One and a half bags of sidewalk/road salt still remain inside and I hope they can stay in the same position this coming winter. Some people complained about the grey weather with little sun but I prefer that to cold, snow and ice.

Cold or cool/warm winter, one thing will be the same. My garden will go dormant and it will look grim and dungy in the front and back of my property. One year I took photos of all the bleakness of winter. Perhaps I will do so again this year. I will also bring my garden inside – well, what I can of it – some herbs, coleus, English ivy, citronella, even a couple of pepper plants (one survived indoors through last winter and went on to blossom and produce peppers outside this summer). I will take cuttings from some of my plants to create more and visit the nearby garden centres/florists for more indoor plants to create my own indoor garden oasis of coloured leaves and some flowers. Come late winter/early spring I’ll fill my windowsill with seedlings – the start of tomato plants, flowers and herbs for next summer’s garden.

As for walking – if it’s slippery and snowy, I may resort to mall walking or go to what is called The Path – a winding indoor walkway featuring shops and connecting to various places in downtown Toronto.

When “hiding” inside my house, I can continue rewriting my mystery novel.

One has to try to look on the bright side – even if the weather doesn’t.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Home and Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Indoor Gardening, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Walking, Winter blahs

Fix what ails you – go into your garden

Only Child standing beside Black-eyes Susans and in front of black walnut tree in backyard

I’ve blogged about the healing garden before, but apparently without actually noticing what my garden is telling me this summer.

Although I’m not big on Feng Shui anymore, I do believe a garden will tell all, including some answers for what is bugging you. And I don’t necessarily mean the bugs in the garden. However, maybe I should look into the bug aspect as I’ve been stung twice. Both times I accidently shoved a finger or hand where a “stinging insect” rested and disturbed it. Maybe my answer here is I’ve been shoving myself into too many things without intention and getting bitten for my efforts.

The real thing my garden is telling me is to notice what is growing so well in it. With the drought this summer until the beginning of August, it is amazing that anything is growing at all. My bean plants are stunted and that tells me I shouldn’t be eating some types of beans right now. But it is the huge and taller-than-usual clumps of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) that catch my eyes and my soul with an “aha” moment. Black-eyed Susan is a misnomer as the middle is dark brown, not black (although the perennial also gets called Brown-eyed Susan). The main part of the flower fans out from this centre in individual petal strips that are bright yellow. The Rudbeckia is growing all over the front and back of my garden and when I sit outside I can feel the flowers penetrating my body and soul. Yellow is the colour for healing and this summer I am having a particularly hard time with my digestive disorder.

Then there are those two black walnut trees on my friends’ property next door. The branches hang over my property and provide much needed shade in a corner of my patio. It’s not the leaves or the shade, but the earlier-than-usual walnuts that have been falling off the trees, bouncing loudly like a ball against the house. The message: I need to take the homeopathic black walnut for my digestive system. At this point the jury is still out whether that will help, but once I started taking it, the walnut-dropping stopped except for an occasional late jumper. A reminder to keep taking my medicine?

My garden is full of signs about what is going on in my life. I just need to look and listen.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Digestive disorder, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Horticultural Therapy, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child muses on raspberries and roses

Burgundy Iris among the white roses in Only Child’s front garden

I’m discovering new ways to relax in my garden. I don’t have to just sit out in the garden, looking and reading. I can relax while I’m doing. Just as well because my raspberries have appeared two weeks early this year because of our early summer weather. So for the next few weeks I’ll be out there almost daily picking raspberries.

Then there are the roses. The white ones in front were spreading their branches and flowers all over the place including over my driveway. I don’t drive but some of my friends do, so to avoid any vehicles brushes against the roses, I cut the bushes back.

It hurt me to do so. But as I trimmed them back, the process turned into almost a meditation, a ritual. And this morning when I went out in full raspberry-picking gear (long pants, long sleeves and wide-brimmed hat to avoid getting scratches from the branches) much the same thing happened. Instead of rushing through it all like I was battling time, it turned relaxing – even when I dropped a berry; I thought, “That’s one for the birds.”

I’m not sure my late mother actually sat and relaxed in her garden, except when I was a toddler –and here the photos tell that story. Mom was always out in the garden picking red raspberries, beans, and currants, until she persuaded me to do so. I loved picking beans and raspberries, but not the currants. They don’t taste good raw and they seem to attract bees. Mother’s busyness in her garden paid off in the many fresh raspberries, plus her own version of canned currant jam and jelly and mustard beans – the latter I’ve never been able to find since. And unlike me, she pruned her raspberry bushes properly so she didn’t have to pick in a maze the next season. I use the “hit or miss” procedure although I do keep in the new shoots for next year’s berries and cut back the deadwood – what I can reach. Somehow I don’t get it as smooth and clean as Mom did.

Maybe, Mom did relax in her garden after all – by picking berries and trimming the bushes.

Then there were her rose bushes – but that’s for another post.

For now, those of you in Canada, enjoy the July 1 Canada Day holiday weekend coming up and those in the United States, enjoy your July 4 holiday…in a garden, if possible. Next week I’ll get more serious. Meantime, I’ve added a few more pictures of my garden.

Enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Fushia pink roses by the sidewalk of Only Child’s house

Poppies popping up among the chives by Only Child’s veranda

Front view by steps to veranda shows yarrow, coral bells, chives under the boxwood. Raggedy Annie among the rosebushes is in the background.

Only Child as a toddler in the backyard with her late Mom who is sitting in the Muskoka chair.

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Filed under black raspberries, Fruit, Gardening, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Mother, Mother and Child, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Raspberries, Roses, Sharon Crawford