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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cottages and Long Holiday Weekends

It’s no secret that I had a hard time getting through the first two 4th of July holiday weekends after Don died. I was bored, lonely and envious of people on Facebook who rode off at sunset to see the fireworks and who got mustard stains on their sandals from eating hotdogs at the beach. Woo was me. I could hardly stand myself. I used to say the 4th was my favorite holiday because I loved the small town parades and spending time at either my folks’ cottage or in later years at Don’s brother and sister-in-law’s wheelchair friendly cottage. We were never without an invitation for a red, white and blue themed potluck and opportunities to swap stories around a warm circle of family. Those parties have dwindled out in recent years as the older generation passed on and cottages got sold. Still, I miss my favorite holiday traditions and I didn’t look forward to spending another long weekend with just my memories and the dog to keep me company. He's shallow and his storytelling abilities suck but don't tell him, he thinks he's perfect.

Enter The Plan: 2014. The plan involved diving into a project that would take up a lot of time. This 4th of July that project was to chalk paint a doll bed and table and chairs set that I used to play with when I was a little girl. The bed will get used for a dog bed for Levi and the table and chairs will go at the end of my dining room in place of a 1940’s coin-operated motel radio/bed stand that I’ve got up for sale. I’ve never liked the radio, as quirky and fun to talk about as it is. It was Don’s and it’s time to let go and claim a bit more of the house as my own. What a project! My childhood furniture had been down in the basement and it grew mole after my flood last year. So I had to scrub it down with bleach water one day then I painted it with a sealer the next day, and after that I spent time two days in row painting them with two different colors of chalk paint. A chalk paint project isn’t done when the paint dries. Next comes the distressing and waxing to give the pieces that “shabby chic” aged look. The Plain worked. I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself, imagining the whole world was off having fun in the sun.

But I did manage to get some sunshine on my head and water on my feet recently. Three second cousins I used to babysit in my teen years, their mother, my oldest niece and my brother got together for an afternoon at the cottage where we all have special memories attached. It used to belong to my parents and when my dad died five months before my husband’s stroke, my niece bought the cottage then she presented my brother and me each with a key so we can come and go as we like. It’s not wheelchair friendly and since the ‘key ceremony’ I hadn’t had many opportunities to use the cottage so I christened my use of the place this week with my little cousins’ party. We had so much fun bringing my parents back to life through conversation and photos and recreating our many boat rides down the channel aka the jungle back in the old days. I even served the homemade peanut butter cookies and lemonade that I remember fondly from my youth. My mom and dad were like grandparents to my cousins---two sets of twins---so they were at our house and cottage often. I was also their 4-H leader and their “adult” supervisor on camping trips when I was in college. (No, I didn't teach Animal Husbandry or how to make blue-ribbon winning pies. I was teaching the fine art of apron and moo-moo making.)

I stopped by to see my sister-in-law on the forth. She’s ten years older than me and used to own the wheelchair friendly cottage where I took part in many holiday potlucks. She jokingly calls me Mother Superior because she thinks I give such sage advice when we get to gossiping about her family. I wish she would have asked me for advice before she sold the cottage. I would have told her, “No, F-ing way should you do that! It will scatter the family!” But she didn't ask and maybe that's a good thing because she would have died of shock to hear the F word coming out of me, her "wise nun" who always knows the right things to say. (Don't I have her fooled.) Like I said, I miss the old traditions---families on the 4th, food of all descriptions, the fireworks, the boat parades and even the mosquitoes because they liked me best. But life changes and we must do the same. Roll with the punches. Adapt. Keep a stiff upper lip. Can you think of any other platitudes I left out?  So, all long holiday weekends from now on will be project zones here on Widowhood Lane. If I remember. I'm old and I might forget. ©
 

After the first coat of soft blue, the next coat was a cool gray.

The finished dog bed. Levi needs to do a better job making it.

9 comments:

  1. Where in the world are the photos of this wonderful project--which I would adore to do myself? Get those photos on here so we can see!

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    1. It's funny you should say that. After I got my first coat of chalk paint on I said to myself, "Judy would be taking pictures and now it's too late." But I just added the only photo I took (above). I have not done the distressing yet so I'll try to remember to take some before and after shots.

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  2. Does chalk paint mean graffiti's encouraged? I guess it's good that we have that censor in our heads, everybody can get so offended. But to write whatever we want in erasable chalk... You going to put a can of colored chalk next to these?

    I'm curious. Do any of your family read your blog to know what's up on widowhood lane?

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    1. LOL I think your kidding but in case your not, you're thinking of chalkboard paint. Chalk paint is different in that its made with a heavy concentration of plaster of Paris in latex paint which can be built up in as many colors as you want. Once you have it on you wet sand down through the layers to get various colors to show, looking aged. It's a velvety matte finish in the end but does chip easily which is why you can put the bee's wax on it, if desired.

      My family and friends all know I keep I blog---I put it in a Christmas letter once---but none read it on a regular basis as far as I can tell except a friend from out of state. But my nieces and some other relatives have read the book form when the first two years of my blog were printed and they've read my dog's blog in print form. When they were first available to buy, I posted a link on my Facebook page. My dog's blog book outsold my widowhood books. LOL But in all seriousness I strongly felt and still feel that having everyone know that I blog keeps me more honest (fair and balanced in how I view my life).

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    2. I've never heard of chalk paint. Now that makes more sense! LAL (live and learn).

      My experience and reason re bloggoing is exactly the same as yours, except that I haven't printed even .one copy. But, I totally get that dogs are a hotter topic than widowhood. LOL

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    3. I thought it was because Levi the schnauzer is a better writer than me. LOL

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  3. BELLA RUM: I am so sorry but I accidentally clicked on on 'delete' instead of 'publish' to put your comment through to the blog. I remember you saying you've never used chalk paint and was curious about the process. I've never used it before either and I'm not sure, yet, if I'm going to like it. They say it chips easily which works with the shabby chic look but if you have kids around I would think it would get too shabby in no time. I haven't got the bee's wax on but they say it smells just like honey. I'm going to take a class on it later on. A woman from the antique mall I'm in is going to teach it. She can hardly keep up with the amount of furniture she is able to sell once she paints it. That kind of makes me sad to see nice oaks and fruit woods covered up like that. But 20 years from now stripping it off will probably become a hobby. LOL

    You also talked about missing your dad on holidays. I guess most of us with our loved ones who've passed away miss them most on holidays. Holidays trigger so many memories, don't they.

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  4. Hi Jean! I've been away and trying to get caught up on blog reading. Skimming along, I see this post mentioning chalk paint -- I just did my first project! I'd never heard of it either, but it seems to be all the rage and I love the look it provides. My first project wasn't great, but I'm doing more. It does sell like crazy at our local antique stores too. It does seem a shame to cover that wood grain, but man is it easier than stripping and refinishing! :)

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    1. I wasn't completely happy with my first project either but I'm going to do more also. It's so easy to wet sand too far down and I wished I'd reversed the first and second color. Live and learn. The flea market decorating magazines have done articles on in in recent years. We did a similar process back in the late 60s using more enduring paint and I have a steamer trunk from the era to do over. It held up great but the colors are wrong for today's decor. Hope you post about your project.

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