Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Birds, Dogs and a Widow's Book

 
I’ve started reading a book by a fellow widow blogger. Her husband died after spending three days in ICU following a stroke caused by a motorcycle accident. I thought I was far enough out from Don’s passing that this sort of reading---stroke and ICU details---wouldn’t bother me, but now I’m not so sure it was a good book choice for me. I ended up taking a sleeping pill last night because I couldn’t turn my thoughts off after reading just two chapters. She’s a good writer, though, so I’ll stick with the book. For now. If it gets too hard, I’ll move on. I had originally thought that because she was widowed young in life with three small children, we wouldn’t have a lot in common---I didn’t know about the stroke part when I bought the book. Research, woman! I should have done my research.

Friday I was supposed to meet my Movie and Lunch Club to see Monuments Men, a film I really want to see. So I was bummed out when the weather station was predicting blowing snow on top of icy roads. Chicken that I've become about winter driving, that morning I made the judgment call not to go and it was a good thing that I did. By afternoon they were warning people to stay off the roads and by night they were calling it the worst day of the entire winter season in terms of roll-over accidents, slide-offs, intersection accidents and pile-ups on the expressway. The roads were treacherous!

On the home front, Friday was just plain weird---what was going on with the neighborhood wildlife. The back 50 foot of the lots on my side of street are what the developer called a wildlife track. I own my 50 feet, as do my neighbors, but the 50 foot wide, block long track was left in its raw state with trees or meadow-like undergrowth and no landscaping. That gives the wildlife a place to travel back and forth to a small, virgin lake leading to a golf course, a couple of riverside parks, and eventually connecting to nature trails that go on for miles. Having a schnauzer in the house that, by ancestral instinct, thinks it’s his job to chase small ‘varmint’ he’s like an alarm bell whenever a squirrel, rabbit or other four-legged creature comes along. And Friday it was like Grand Central Station back there. I’d never seen anything like it. All day long, in the blowing snow the squirrels and rabbits went back and forth, dipping into yards to raid bird feeders. Since my feeders are the only ones without baffles my house was a popular pit stop and the competition was fierce. Even the birds were feeding in the blowing snow which is very rare around here for ANY wildlife to be out during a storm. I thought  maybe an even worst storm must have been on the way, or maybe the world was coming to an end. If there had been a pan of brownies in the house, I would have followed suit and eaten them all. Why die without chocolate coursing through your veins?

With all the activity going out back, I pulled a chair up to a back window and held the dog on my lap for a long time, thinking it was the perfect time to try to teach him the difference between squirrels and rabbits. Squirrels he’s allowed to bark at, but not the rabbits. So it was back to obedience 101 and lessons on ‘settling.’ The ‘settle’ command is a useful command to teach the Fido's of the world. It involves holding your barking dog on your lap and tightly wrapping your arms around him or her while giving the ‘settle’ command. When the barking stops, you lighten your hold, when the barking starts in again, you tighten the hold and give the command again. The goal is to eventually get your dog to be able to settle themselves with just the command. Settling is also useful for dogs that tremble during storms, etc. It teaches them that they can calm themselves when they get scared. Technically, Levi is too big at 27 pounds to be a lap dog, but when he needs to settle himself down he’ll come lean against my legs so I can give him a few reassuring pats. He’s supposed to be able to settle himself where ever he’s at but I obviously didn’t work on that part long enough. Maybe I should work on teaching myself the ‘settle’ command as I continue reading the above mentioned book? But then again it would be hard to wrap my arms around myself and read at the same time.

This winter I’ve had the strangest woodpecker coming to my feeders and he was also here during the snow storm. He’s got the body markings, coloring and black throat of a Northern Flicker but his head is almost a solid red like the Redheaded Woodpecker. (See photos above.) He’s as fat as a mourning dove, a big guy who likes the seed and suet cakes and he’s very camera shy. It sounds like I’m writing a profile for eHarmony Match, doesn’t it. Loves long afternoon flights, drumming on trees and sunflower seeds. This handsome bird is seeking a life partner to share sunsets, insects and migratory trips. If anyone knows what kind of woodpecker he is, please let me know. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t find him in the bird identification books. And it bothers me even more that I care so much about identifying his sub-species, given the fact that I used to make fun of old people and their birds. Feel free to laugh at me. What goes around, comes around. Oops! ©

That object in the center of the snow drift is the post of my 3 foot high fence.

11 comments:

  1. Hi Jean, Is it possible your visiting woodpecker is a red-bellied woodpecker? They're about the same size as the red-headed woodpeckers. The bird's shape would look bigger if it was cold weather, since they plump up their feathers as insulation.
    We seem to have a lot of birds here who have blown in on high winds. One day last week, when I was walking back to my office after class, I passed a flock of about 50 robins. I've never seen that many robins together before, and I thought they must have been on a migration rest stop. -Jean

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    1. It could be a yellow-bellied sapsucker expect my bird doesn't have the black by the eye, the red comes down to almost the neck and the speckles are on the entire breast, not just the sides. I'm thinking the bird might be a mutation? That's interesting about them plumping up their feathers for insulation. I didn't know that and this bird definitely always looked plumped up to the point of looking like he needs a good grooming. LOL I love woodpeckers and have a lot of them coming to my seed cakes and peanut butter feeder log.

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  2. Oh, I'm looking forward to watching the birds in Oregon. We've always had bird feeders so I'm SURE this is not another little old lady thing .... right????

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    1. Back before I knew Don I went on a date with a guy but he forgot to tell me ahead of time that we would be going birdwatching.... so to answer your question, yes there are some people who aren't old who love to watch birds. He was in college to become a conservation officer and that was probably the craziest date I'd ever been on in that point in my life. I was not ready for bird appreciation back in those days. LOL

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  3. Jean,

    He might be a common flicker. I get one at my feeder and for the life of me I can't figure out why they're called 'common'. I also want to compliment you on your description of your backyard. It is so compelling!

    Oh, goodness - about this book. Let us know how reading it turns out for you. I so want it to have a happy ending, what ever this means to this author. This widowhood business is a long treacherous road, with its own icy patches and sudden spin offs. I'm glad you decided to stay home Friday. With old age comes good judgment, right?

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    1. I'm leaning toward it being a common flicker with more red on the head than most of the pictures I've seen. You're right they shouldn't be called common. This is the first one I've ever seen in my life. He sure is beautiful and shy! I can't walk to within five feet of the window pane and he's gone.

      I love my back yard. The neighbors on the other side of the nature track are on a hill so it's almost like I don't have any back there. I can see the houses but there's no 'over the lot line' contact. We have a woodchuck burrow in the side of the hill and I can watch its comings and goings during the spring and fall when the underground doesn't get in the way.

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    2. P.S. I will probably blog about the book again. I read another two chapters last night, these covered the funeral which was SO different than Don's that it made me realize how much in control of my senses, etc., I was. I was happy with the way Don's went and many people told me it was the best funeral they'd ever been to where the author of the book was just the opposite, probably mainly because too many people had their fingers into the planning. I do think she's going to have a happy ending though...I know there are chapters on dating again.

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  4. Yours sound like a lovely property. I can see why you'd be disinclined to leave. I was thinking more... Might it be a Sapsucker male?

    P.S. Oh? Chapters on dating?!

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    1. I'm so confused on my bird. I'm going to try to get a photo and post it on a birdder's website. The chest doesn't look quite right for the sapsucker.

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  5. What a way to give in to winter and just enjoy the show.

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    1. It really was. You can't teach 'settling' unless you're in a situation where your dog has a lot to bark at and he sure did that day.

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