Tag Archives: vacation

Only Child rides the rails

Only Child with her parents at her grandfather’s farm – one of the destinations of now obsolete train routes.

I felt like I was riding history when I travelled during my holidays the past week. Especially last night when returning and I wondered if I was going to make it home or become part of this history.

Like my father before me I ride the rails when on holidays. Not the same railway that my dad worked for and he, Mom and I travelled on for our holidays. Dad worked for the CN when it ran passenger trains. Some years after he died CN quit the passenger service to focus on freight. VIA Rail was created and it started a passenger service.

Now VIA plans to cut service on a few lines within its busiest corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec, as well as cut back on the number of times per week the Maritime line runs. One of my cousins commented that we’ll all have to travel by car. Is this VIA decision a good one when we are living in pollution and too many vehicles clog up highways (space and time, too. Think road rage).

So while on vacation visiting my many cousins in southern and southerwestern Ontario, I rode the last of some of the service being ditched. Going to Grimsby from Toronto it was the evening Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario run. Come October it will be gone and there will only be the early morning run from Toronto to Niagara Falls and vice versa in the evening.

Coming home last night on the last of the Sarnia to Toronto run at that time, I thought the service was being cut early. I got on the train at Kitchener and the first hour and a half was a great ride which I was enjoying. Then we just pulled out of Brampton and suddenly the main lights went out; the train stopped and the emergency ceiling lights went on.

Panic – at least for me, inside. I hate to be stranded. The VIA attendant did make an announcement that the power had gone off and that she’d let us know what was happening when she knew.

We passengers were left wondering what was going on, when 15 minutes later the regular lights went on. A few people yayed. Not me. We still weren’t moving and from what I could see out the window (not much as it was dark) showed cars on a street much lower than where the train stopped. Were we on a bridge?

After some time we received another announcement along the lines of they were trying to get the train started and if not, they would have cabs available soon to drive us to Union Station. Right. How would we get to the cabs? Walk along the embankment or the bridge more likely with little space and then where and how would we get down to street level? I kept thinking “I want to go home” – when I wasn’t darting to the seat across the aisle to try and see out that window. Even darker over that way.

Finally after 45 minutes of doing the stall, the train started. No one yayed this time. I couldn’t even go back to reading my Alfred Hitchcock Mystery magazine because I figured if I did, we would stop again.

Was this occurrence some foreshadowing of what is to come in October? Will I ride the rails again? Sure…on the lines still running.

But I know two things. My Dad is probably rolling over in his grave. He was always critical of CN service. If he were still alive he would be saying a variation of his “Typical (add railway here).

I think I would agree with him. Especially as 24 to 30 of us got off at the little flag station of Grimsby, Ontario on a Monday evening last week. Seems like VIA is cutting off its nose to spite its face. They are of course crying “government cuts.” The buck always stops at the consumer.

What says you about services such as train and bus being cut? (And yes, the bus service between Kitchener and Stratford has already been dumped).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child

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Filed under Canadian National Railway, Family, Holidays, Mom and Dad, Only child, Public Transportation, Railways, Sharon A. Crawford, Train travel, VIA Rail

Only Child says Carpe Diem should be your motto

Only Child and son, Martin, on Mother’s Day 2012

I know I’m in stress overload/overwhelm, whatever you want to call it when I keep losing and misplacing items. Some, like the sunglasses left out on the patio overnight, turn up. Others, like my property tax payment receipt, seem to linger in limbo. A big pile of files waiting atop my file cabinet to be filed just adds to the confusing milieu. My late mother had another version of this – she’d mix up things, such as haul the bacon, instead of the steak, out of the freezer. Guess I don’t have to be concerned about doing that – my freezer contains neither bacon nor steak.

Add in all the client work deadlines, plus doing another proof of my mystery short story collection (Beyond the Tripping Point, due out this fall from Blue Denim Press), the stuff I’ve been worrying about, a couple of health issues I’ve been dealing with, etc. etc. and I’ve been spiralling around in big overwhelm the past week or so. I’ve been heading out to the garden a lot to work off the excess anger/energy with weeding and trimming the silverlace and to just sit, relax, read a book and the newspaper, and eat my meals.

But I’ve still been tumbling around like a top gone awry. And feeling resentful.

Then I got the bad news from one of my “old” school friends about her cousin, another school friend. The cousin (who used to walk me to and from kindergarten) just lost her son. He died suddenly last week. He was 43. That’s too young and no parent should outlive their children. I know with war it happens a lot, but…

It gave me a jolt. I immediately emailed my son and his girlfriend who are in London at the Olympics to see how they were doing and enjoying their holiday. Haven’t heard back yet, but it is less than 24 hours since I sent out the email.

The situation with my old school friend does put things in perspective. Got me thinking, that we all need to slow down. How much of what we cram into each day really has to be done? Can we slow down, move something to another day, delete doing something, and just try to live and enjoy each minute of the now? I know John Lennon’s words of wisdom – “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” definitely enters the picture. But you never know what will happen tomorrow…or later today.

Gives me some clout to cut back on my business email time without feeling guilty about it. Today, I heard on the news about a Canadian professor who when going on vacation, emails all her work connections not to email her during her holiday time because their emails will be deleted.

I send out an email notice to clients about my vacation and ask that they don’t email or phone me then. Not all pay attention. Should I add the “your email and voice mail messages will be deleted and you’ll have to resend/ phone again?” Food for thought.

Meantime, check out these studies on taking email vacations and how it can reduce your stress. http://storify.com/ucirvine/email-vacations-decrease-stress-increase-concentra

Oh yeah, don’t forget Carpe Diem. Check out its origin and real meaning at http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/carpe-diem.html.

You never know what lurks around the corner.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Carpe Diem, Death and Dying, email overload, Life demands, Mother and Child, Only child, Overwhelm, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress

Only Child clarifies the aloneness issue

Only Child with son, Martin, and two of the Michigan cousins

Got an interesting comment to my post last week (see Comments). While I’ve tried living with other onlies (mostly boarders) and found it didn’t work, reading Jen’s comment helped me clarify what I really mean. The problem isn’t living alone per se, but being alone. There is a difference.

Let me explain by using the example of a friend of mine who used to live down the street. She and her partner didn’t live together but spent weekends together, usually at her house. He was also there sometimes during the week, if only for the evening and helped her a lot with her house. She pulled her own weight as well. She also got to know his three sons from when he was married. (He was separated.) My friend and her partner travelled together throughout the US and Canada. They were considering moving in together after he retired or a few years later after she retired. And if you are wondering why the past tense, no, they didn’t split up. Their relationship lasted seven years; then he died suddenly from brain cancer.

Which again reminds me of one of my ex-boyfriend’s comments (which I’ve also posted before). “Life isn’t fair.” I have a corollary to that, something I’ve learned from what I’ve seen, heard and read and from personal experience.

Whenever someone is experiencing happiness, enjoy it, because it may not last.

The other thing Jen helped me look at was the siblings’ issue. Obviously I don’t have any. But I have cousins  – there are six in one set and seven in another. I know, rather large numbers, but we’re talking Catholic born in the 1950s and 1960s. I have noticed how close they are and how much they help each other with problems. Two examples: when one cousin was building her backyard deck, many of the cousins (including the inlaws) helped her. On a more serious note, when my godfather, father to the six cousins, got to the point where he had to go into a nursing home, they all worked together on this. And when he was living there, they not only spent a lot of time visiting him, they also held sibling discussions on how things were going there. I know because I went with many of them on the visits and two of them discussed their dad’s life at the nursing home, including how he was treated by the staff, when I was out to dinner with them.

This is what I mean by siblings helping each other. They are very close although it does help that all but one live near each other. Some of their kids are changing the geography, but my cousins go out of their way to bring us all together. Last summer when I was visiting one cousin couple, their oldest son, now living in California, was coming up with his girlfriend to visit them. My cousins arranged a family lunch get together (homemade pizza – everyone chose their own topping).

And these cousins go out of their way to help me with my visits to them. I don’t drive, so I take the train where I can to get to their places. But they not only pick me up at the train station, but organize who I stay with (several live in Stratford, Ontario) and one takes me up to their cottage. Last year two of them took me to public gardens (Yes, we are a family of gardeners, except for one couple). And two more cousins from Michigan made a special trip up in their mobile home to visit with us all when I was there.

Before you think my relationship with all my cousins is perfect – we have differing views on religion, how to treat others, and what to do when we personally get too old to manage on our own. But we try to respect our differences. That is probably harder for me than for them.

And of course I have my son and his partner who help with some things.

It’s just the what I call “house crap” and “computer crap” that jumps out at me and often the lack of enough money and time that upsets me. Some things where a partner could share – like with my friend who used to live down the street. If truth be told, I probably would be a “bear” to live with now. And maybe I wasn’t that easy to live with when I was married many years ago.

Perhaps that’s the legacy of growing up an only child.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Aloneness, Family and Friends, Family Flak Memoirs, Happiness, Help and Support, Only child, Sharon Crawford, Siblings and friends