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

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Scaredy-Cat Widow and the Artist

 My Red Hat Society Chapter is planning a wine tasting tour next month near the top of the state, a trip that is estimated will take about twelve hours start to finish. Sounds like fun, right? I did this same trip with 100 people from the senior hall in 2012 and I’ve always loved going up to the area. The views of Lake Michigan are plentiful along the Leelanau Peninsula and the air smells so fresh and clean. So, what’s my problem with going again? I’m turning into the biggest worry-wart living on Widowhood Lane! The chapter has rented a fifteen passenger van and two women over 70 are planning on driving it. Mind you, neither one has ever driven a vehicle larger than a SUV but they aren’t worried. “I'll be fine,” one of them said, “we won’t be going in the middle of tourist season so we should be able to find parking without having to back up anywhere.” Ya, sure. I have driven a 24 foot motor home in a past life and as much as I never wanted to back up, sometimes you just can’t plan your way out of situations that require things you’d rather not do while on the road.

Twelve ladies signed up for the trip at our last tea so I need to make up my mind quick if I want push past my fear of dying alongside a highway in a cloud of red and purple hats, feathers and dresses with wine from broken bottles soaking through to my underwear. A couple of ladies are planning to buy a year’s worth of wine. Boxes of it, riding home in the non-existence extra space in van. I bought a bottle up in wine country in 2012 and I still haven’t opened it. My Italian ancestors are probably rolling over in their graves. Not that I don’t have my own indulgences. If I we were going on an ice cream tour, I’d be sitting on a cooler full of Ben and Jerry’s on the way home.

I told the ladies at tea that I have to do some math to see if I can afford to go because in addition to splitting the cost of transportation, the tour and lunch I’d also have to pay $71 of kennel fees for Levi. That was a white lie---not the kennel part, but I’d have no trouble paying for it all if I decide to go. Ohmygod, what kind of person am I turning into? Telling lies! And what happened to the woman who once happily spent an entire day in the mountains of Colorado on roads that were so narrow we had to fold in the mirrors on the truck or risk falling off the edge of the mountain to sure death? Other days out west in the boondocks we had to use come-along cables to ratchet ourselves out of the mud and we were as happy as a litter of piglets after a rainstorm. I know. I was young and in love and I trusted Don to take care of any situation and he would never, ever leave me behind. A bus load of older women? They could get half way home before they remembered to do a head count.

Speaking of spending money, I finally got to the new art studio in my adopted hometown, to ask about art classes. The guy who owns the place used to be an instructor at a near-by art school that has a international reputation for being one of the best in the U.S.A. I’m pumped up! (He also writes books.) The only hang-up is I’d have to do private lessons at $30.00 for two hours to get what I want---not a bad price, but I was hoping for more human interaction. All his group classes are just for what I call pop-up “art” classes. Classes for bridal shower or birthday party guests, etc. Two hours start to finish they copy a simple painting while they eat and drink and have a good time. It pays his overhead so I can’t fault him for that. He showed me his work and that of the other “real” artists who sell their work in the studio's show gallery. And we talked about what medium/s I should try after 35-40 years of being away from the world of art. We settled on Prismacolor pencils because they are “cheap” and not too messy for me to work with at home since at present I don’t have suitable studio space.

I left the studio, went directly to an art supply place and spent over $80.00 on the “cheap” stuff. I start my classes in a couple of weeks when I can move my eBay stuff out to the garage, freeing up my dining room table. In the meantime, I need to put together some of my old artwork to show the guy so he’ll have a gauge of what I once was and what I might be able to achieve again. (Knock on wood.) While down in the basement looking for stuff to take, I found a ton of oil pastels that are still good. One set of 48 pastels had the original price tag of $3.75 on the box and I’d just seen a set that size at the art supply store for over a hundred dollars. And no, I wasn’t using them to paint on the walls of caves. Although, that gives me an idea. The cost of canvas and paper is so high, now, I just might be using the walls of my house as I progress with my new trip to the land of would-be artists. ©

14 comments:

  1. Decision made!! Art classes and supplies instead of the trip!! When you said "top of the State" I thought you were talking about Munising or Houghton and thought, "I would NEVER do that--too much of a ride," but now I see it is tip of the little finger--it might be okay.,.EXCEPT--you are going to take art classes and you need the money for that. :-) Go ahead and lie about it, if you feel the need. I would just say, "No--I don't want to go this time." and be done with it. Remember--we are not into people pleasing at this end of life stage, LOL.

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    1. I knew I was going to get in trouble with Michigan readers for calling the Peninsula the top of the state---as I should.

      I really have made up my mind that I'd rather now ride that far in such close quarters. My old bones get crackly when I can't stretch out often. I shall have to practice up my Nancy Reagan 'just say no' persona. LOL

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    2. Wow! Good for you for getting in touch with your artistic side. I need to find something fun to do for a hobby. I guess really my knack is entertaining. Rather organizing some entertaining things. Most people just need someone to get it going. Wine and cheese I think!

      And I don't blame you for not going on the ride. If you even have to THINK about it, go with your first instinct. Come over to Oregon wine country and I'll drive my Grandmother mobile! We have great pinots!

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    3. You have skills I always wished I had...entertaining. I can organize like crazy though. Art is where my heart is though.

      I have never been to Oregon but I always wanted to go see the red woods.

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  2. I have laughed and laughed about the two 70 yr. old "bus drivers". When I was in my late 50's I needed to drive to Las Vegas from southern Utah to pick up visitors arriving at McCarren Airport. That meant I had to drive alone through "the gorge" on the freeway that is so important to drunks returning from some oasis south of us. I crept out onto that freeway. There is no room for error, no room to get out of anybody's way. Suddenly I was passed by an old woman with white hair whipping out her open window as she flew by me at 70 mph. She gave me such courage and confidence, and ....shame. I floored it and whizzed through that 13 mile gorge! 13 miles of blind confidence fearless of the cross winds and oblivious to the semi trucks and giving nary a thought to the drunks. I made the trip safely but I haven't been the same since.

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    1. Funny story! Older women CAN be inspiring to others. I need that etched in stone because I'm not a very good example of how to be fearless.

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  3. Age plus70 ladies with no experience at the helm of a mini bus?? I'd want a drink just to make the trip! I guess we have to decide which fears to conquer and when.

    How wonderful that you're feeding the artist in you! I still have oodles of art supplies forty years old and I'm glad I hung on to them. Adding up the cost of supplies, let alone lessons, makes it hard to 'play with abandon' creatively. Keep us posted on your artistic flowering. One thing we older people bring to art efforts is our maturity and self awareness. Try to leave the critic and the penny pincher out of this and have fun!

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    1. I need to feed my inner artist. I have visions of ending up in a nursing home crafts room and some recreational director taking credit for discovering the next grandma Moses. I would hate that title. LOL No kidding about the cost of art supplies. I have all my oils, too, and they still seem to mostly be okay. I saw an easel like I have in the basement at the art supply store and it costs $500.00! I'm so glad I kept mine.

      I really don't fear the mini bus trip as much as I would dread being cramped in like sardines for such a long period of time. Writing about it made me realize this and I'm 90% sure I'm not going.

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  4. Do either of your lady friends have commercial driver's licenses? It is illegal to drive a 15 passenger vehicle unless one has that license. Take it from a teacher who drove students all over the state. Seven was the most we could have in one van at any one time with our regular driver's license. What with all the recent bus mishaps, I would be real leery of getting into said vehicle with these ladies as drivers.

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    1. No, they don't. I was surprised the rental company would rent it to them without a special license but they claimed it wasn't necessary...I suppose all states are different. I think we should be hiring a young, good looking guy to drive----young as in forty something. LOL

      Thank you so much for the comment backing up my instincts. It's just too much of a vehicle for an inexperienced driver and with that much distraction on board.

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  5. I laughed out loud at the 70 y.o. bus drivers. I think you are wise to reconsider.

    I'm so enthusiastic about the art lessons. I hope you will share some photos of your work. Yesterday, at Easter dinner, we got into a discussion about how the fickle artistic gene in our family favored some of us and passed over others. I'm one of the ones riddled with jealousy because it jumped over me.

    I would never take a twelve-hour trip. Between the exhaustion factor and the old bladder that would object strenuously, I'd be miserable.

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    1. Actually, the bladder thing does enter into my decision to go or not. When I travel with the senior hall group, they take a bus with a bathroom aboard.

      I am getting excited over the art lessons. But I'll blog about that soon.

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  6. Ok I'm hooked - you're a wonderful writer and so much fun to read, really making me laugh out loud with all these adventures!! So glad to have found you. And inspiration for the artist I was before Mike died...I need to get back into that. Come on Stephanie, what are you waiting for???

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    1. That would be great if you started some art endeavors again! Two widows at the easels. What could happen? LOL

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