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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day Trips, Long Trips and Super Powers



Wouldn’t you know it, the one day this week when I was supposed to go on a day trip to a tourist town on Lake Michigan the weather report included rain, snow, sleet and ice. When the alarm clock rang this morning I got up and turned on the TV, looking for that crawler at the bottom of the screen that announces cancellations. There was none for the school district where our senior citizen hall bus driver comes from. The trip was still on. But the traffic at my bird feeders was extra heavy, indicating they expected to be spending the rest of the day huddled under the tree branches trying to avoid having a crust of ice hanging from their tiny wings. It was snowing hard---3 to 5 inches predicted---and the temperature was creeping up toward the freezing mark where the snow would turn over to freezing rain. The counties south of here where our bus would be heading were already reporting soppy sleet and slide-offs. I made a decision. It might be an adventure to be out in the thick of bad weather but it was an adventure I could do without. I emailed my regrets.

And that decision makes me wonder why I’m seriously considering signing up for the 14 days trip to Alaska the summer of 2016. I went to the monthly travelogue recently and as I sat there looking at slides of Alaska I got nostalgic over the fact that going to Alaska was on Don’s and my Bucket List. I’m not getting any younger, I thought, and going with a bunch of people from the senior hall will likely be the only chance I’ll ever get to go. All day long I thought about the pros and cons of going. I certainly have the time and money to go. On my cons list I only have three things listed one of which is I have to pee about every hour and a half. How’s that going to work out on the planes, trains, buses and cruise ships we’d be on? I could bring a bunch of corks but that would probably earn me a body cavity search at an airport, if they use one of those x-ray screeners. Nope, I’d have to quit drinking liquids but that could earn me a heart attack or stroke. I could try bladder “stretching” again but it didn’t work when I was a kid, so I doubt it would now. 

A bigger problem, though, would be Levi. Fourteen days is a long time to be at a kennel when we’ve only been separated for two days at a time in his entire life. I could put him in a kennel for a five day stretch this summer and see how that goes. I’ve made it a point to take him there every summer for two days, even when I wasn’t going anywhere just so he’d understand that he gets picked back up again, should I have an emergency. I started doing that because of Hurricane Katrina.  Seeing all those stressed out dogs, many who’d never been in a cage before---they said---drove the point home to me that dogs need to be cage trained. I bought one for Levi but I never close the door. He goes in there when he takes his afternoon naps, when I leave the house and when I have workmen around. I’m afraid to close the door for fear I’ll die and he’d starve to death before I’m found. He’s got a self-feeder that will keep him alive for five days, after that he can start eating my fingers. 

The third con on my list is I wonder if the emotions of going alone on a trip that Don dreamed about for so many years would get to me. I’d hate to pay that much money just to see the place through a veil of tears. Would it even be fun without his spirit of adventure and curiosity mixing us up with the locals? 

New topic: On Super Bowl weekend I had gone to the grocery store and I wrote about how busy it was and how it would be nice if they’d move the sample food people over to the checkout lanes to keep us all from fainting from missing lunch. This week I was at the store again when their cash register system went down for seven minutes and the checkout lines got back up again. Lo and behold, a couple of girls walked around those of us waiting in line and they were handing out sugar cookies from their bakery and sample sized cups of Starbuck’s cappuccinos. I love that store! If I ever get homeless I’m going to find a way to live there. They’re open 24/7/365 days a year, it should be do-able.

I have to be careful about what I wish for...I think I’ve accumulated some super powers. Recently I was bemoaned that fact that I wanted a new blender for no other reason than I wanted to change colors. But I couldn’t justify a purchase for that reason, I’m too old school to start that mindset. Less than a month later my trusty white blender broke right in the middle of a making a shake. It wouldn’t crush ice anymore and it made sick noises on some of the other speeds and it was leaving what looked like black sand where the top and the bottom connected. To the trash it went and I now I have the stainless steel model I had lusted after. Hum-mm…what should I wish for next? I know! “I really do want world peace,” to quote Sandra Bullock in Miss. Congeniality. Not going to happen, though, I fear my super powers are confined to things like getting free cookies at the super market and breaking blenders. ©

24 comments:

  1. Well, I wait to see if you go on that cruise to Alaska. I do get that it's riddled with 'what ifs'. You'll figure it out before you commit.

    Loved the blender story. That was really great.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

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    1. That's the nice part, I have a long time to think about it before money down is required on the trip. And there are lots more travelogs to go to in between now and then to ask questions.

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  2. The first time I went on a vacation alone (a camping trip on the downeast coast of Maine), the summer after my divorce, I left home feeling sorry for myself because I had no one to go with me. By the time I got to a state park that turned out to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, I had discovered that traveling alone is a much different experience than traveling with others, but not worse. When I'm alone, I notice things that I would never see if I were with another person because I would be too busy worrying about whether the other person was having fun. I've also found it much easier to meet people when I'm traveling alone. This was particularly true the year I spent a month traveling in Alaska (still one of my all-time best vacations). I wasn't on a cruise ship, but I kept running into the same people over and over again on buses and ferries. I woman from England that I met at a B&B the night before we got on the Alaska state ferry invited me to join her for a day-trip to the Tracy Arm fjord when we got to Juneau, which turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. We met up again at Denali National Park where she shared my tent for a night. On the three-day ferry trip back from Alaska to Seattle, two couples who were traveling together "adopted" me. They were not people I would ever be friends with in my ordinary life, but we enjoyed each others' company a great deal for those three days.
    I think traveling alone requires that same shift as making friends as a singleton; you have to be open to it as a unique experience and not expect it to be like marriage. I have become addicted to traveling alone and now find it hard to imagine traveling with a partner. -Jean

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    1. That's certainly encouraging! And it makes a lot of sense, the part about noticing things that you'd never see because you were too busy worrying about wither the other person was having fun. Couples really do do that! Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. My dream travel destination if Alaska. I don't want to go on a "guided" tour--Fred and I planned on driving--up through Canada, through the Canadian Rockies, and onward. For me to go on a cruise or a group of people probably wouldn't be much fun. I am too apt to want to strike out to a different location than the planned ones. It might be wonderful for you, however.

    Lucky you--hour and a half between potty stops? I'm lucky to get an hour. Small bladder all my life. A friend once told a group, "Judy knows every rest area from here to Orlando!"

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    1. That's the way Don and I wanted to do it, too, and that's something I would never do alone, so a group tour is the only option left if I want to see Alaska. This tour covers just about everything. My niece and her husband went last summer on their own and she'd been to all the same places the tour package covers. I like that the travel agenda also has everyone change seats and seat mates every day so you don't get stuck with someone you don't like for very long. There are also options in many places where you can go off on your own or go with the group.

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    2. I saw on TV where someone came up with cell phone app that tells you were all the bathrooms are and rates them. I can't wait until they have one that covers my town. LOL

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  4. The first trip was the hardest but I found I actually love cruising alone! We loved cruising as much as breathing so I was afraid like you but no, it's wonderful. You have to live and do what you want to do, isn't that what Don would want you to do? Isn't that what you would want for him if you went first? Be open to new experiences and talk to people!

    Hugs, Bee
    xoxo

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    1. You're right Bee, Don would want me to do what I want to do. He was my best cheerleader and wanted that while he was alive. The thing is, I was never really that fond of traveling in the first place. My idea of an ideal vacation would be to go to an artist colony on Lake Michigan or to rent a cottage over there.

      I do talk to people every where I go but I don't enjoy the shallowness of most conversations that take place between strangers. I ask the questions and listen to the answers and get to know them, make them laugh, and they walk away seemingly happy that we talked. But rarely do they ask me anything.
      Two weeks of doing that on a trip is not all that appealing just to see Alaska. Actually I want to smell Alaska more than see it. LOL

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  5. Jean :

    you will love Alaska cruise. Its beautiful. I loved our hawaii cruise better than our Alaska cruise since in our Hawaii cruise I enjoyed staying outside on deck due to mild weather versus alaska was too cold for me to do adventure like those., though we did those fun things wearing jackets & scarfs in alaska too. You should defintely go I bet Don will be happy to see that atleast you got to fulfill your bucket list adventure. hope you have figured out how o upload your mobile pictures in your blog.

    Asha

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    1. Hawaii is on the tour list, too, and I have been weighing the pros and cons of each place. They have Italy, France and Ireland as well and they are tempting to me. Alaska was on OUR Bucket List but I'm not really sure if it's on my Bucket List, if you know what I mean. I will keep going to the monthly travelogs until I sort it all out.

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  6. The fourth con that I would add to the list (but I know that it is your list!) is that I do not want to see icebergs or snow on a trip! Maybe it is because it is March and I had to clean the snow off the car again this morning and my February blues have rolled over into March! A lot of people I know from this little corner of Northern NY cruise in Alaska and I am quite sure that the beauty is spectacular but by this time each year I feel that I have seen enough ice and ice related formations to last me a long time!
    Someplace tropical would be interesting to smell but I don't associate any real smells with Alaska except pine forests.
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. Oh trust me, that thought has crossed my mind and is a factor. In turn it's a factor when I think about going to a tropical place in the winter...I'm not sure I'd want to fly through snow/winter to get there. I guess I worry too much to be a good traveler.

      I imagine Alaska as smelling very clean and although I'll bet the tropics smells beautiful, a lot of perfumes make me sneeze. I'm afraid the real floral smells do the same...not that that would stop me from going.

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  7. I'm not adventurous and would never consider traveling alone. The most adventurous thing I've ever done was to drive with a twelve-year-old from Wichita, KS to San Diego, Ca. I was terrified most of the way; worried about car trouble (and we did have some), worried about rapists and sociopaths (didn't meet any), worried about being robbed (didn't happen). However, the trip was to reunite with my first husband after a separation HE wanted, so he could "find" himself. My son and I should have stayed where we were -- instead we wasted two more years with the self-centered brute before he decided we were "holding him back" in life.

    I am even more fearful as I grow older of people looking to take advantage of a little old lady, especially one on her own far from home. Maybe I've read too many murder mysteries.

    And, like many people who have survived this horrible winter (at least so far), I wouldn't want to go to Alaska to see any more snow! In fact I've seen enough snow to last me for a lifetime right now!

    I also have pets and wouldn't want to kennel them that long either.

    And, you're right, no one seems to want to know about me, only want to tell me about themselves. And I'm tired of being a "good listener." lol

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    1. I hear you about worrying about traveling alone. (And other things as you grow older.) I don't go far on my own either. Sorry to hear about your experiences with your first husband. I guess that's why he's called your FIRST husband.

      The only reason I'm even considering going is because the people I'd be traveling with would mostly be coming from the senior hall where I know most of them by sight, if nothing else and they have get-to-gathers ahead of time so you can get to know your travel mates before you go. The trips come with an escort to keep everyone organized and accounted for and guides at your destinations to show the group the sights. That takes some of the scare factor out of it.

      I'm glad you mentioned putting a pet in a kennel for that long. Only another pet owner understands how BIG that really is. I'm really not sure I can do that to Levi. I used to have a niece-in-law who kept Levi when he needed a sitter but she has since gotten a second dog of her own and a baby and now it would be too much to ask of someone.

      Being a good listener is a pain sometimes, isn't it. Maybe that's the reason I like to blog. I get to say things. LOL

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    2. You know, your niece-in-law just might want some extra money for taking care of your dog for a couple of weeks -- you never know unless you ask. After all, if she already has a couple of dogs, adding one more isn't much more work as long as the dogs get along with each other.... We did once kennel a dog and a cat for two weeks once and I'm convinced that they were put in small cages and kept there for the whole time. I felt so guilty when we picked them up that I swore we'd never do that again. Well, we no longer have the dog, but we still have the same cat....

      I guess I wouldn't go on an extended trip just because I had nothing better to do. But then I'm basically lazy and would just as soon stay at home anyway.

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    3. I could ask but my niece-in-law absolutely will not accept cash to take Levi for the day. I end up buying her gifts just to pay her back. But you make a good point, one more dog might not make much difference and for a two week stay maybe she would take money if I paid her the kennel rate..

      I'm lucky that I really trust the kennel I use not to cage dogs the whole time they are in her care. The owner only takes dogs who have been through her dog training classes and she's a well known animal behaviorist in the community. When he stays over night, she sends pictures of him having fun in the exercise area with the other dogs.

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  8. I think you read my blog posts last August about my first cruise and Alaska trip. I decided cruising is not for me, but most people would call me crazy. Our cruise line was luxurious (Celebrity) and we had perfect weather. Being from western Washington, we just felt the scenery was very similar to "home" I most liked the domed train ride (solid ground!) after being on the water and Denali Nat'l Park was beautiful. I'd always wanted to see Alaska and I'm glad I did. Early August seemed like a great time to go. I'm not very adventurous and not much of a traveler...it's when my demon anxiety issues rear their ugly heads. (Damn them!) But I am better about it when with people I know well. I admire your courage to do this! As for kenneling your baby; that's a tough one and I totally understand! We used to have to leave our dog at a kennel and it was a lovely place and we paid a fortune to leave him there, but I worried and fretted every time. But he always came home just fine. :)

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    1. I do remember your Alaska blogs and I read them with great interest. I'm not sure if I'll go or not but I'm thinking strongly about it. My niece said she'd go to Nantucket with me which is definitely on my Bucket List and might be a shorter trip for the dog kenneling issue.

      I have anxiety issues traveling, too, but I always felt safe with Don. I might have to write a blog about some of the hair raising situations he's gotten us out of.

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  9. That is so funny about your supermarket. Ha! They know a good idea when they hear it. Such a simple thing and yet. Maybe all the best ideas are simple..... or not.

    My brother drove from Virginia to Alaska with his second wife. Boy, you better like the person you're with when you do that. The pee breaks would be enough to squelch any plans I would have of going to Alaska with a group. I know my limitations in that area. On the other hand, I have a friend who lived in Alaska for awhile. Both she and my brother were overwhelmed with the raw beauty of it. It might be worth it. I found a blog years ago. The author is a young woman who lived and worked in Alaska one summer. Her photography is beautiful - http://theroadislife.blogspot.com/search/label/Alaska
    That's the link to the Alaska section of her blog. Decisions, decisions.

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    1. Thanks for the link. I'll check out her blog. I'm so gold right now, Alaska would be going to a warm place. Seriously.

      What your brother did was what Don and I wanted to do. We did most of our traveling in a motor home which is a great way to go. When I go to my lunch and movie club I'm the only one who has to get up before the movie is over to use the restroom. And we're all about the same age. It is an issue when traveling with groups and one I'm going to ask the escort about at one of the travelogs.

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    2. My brother and his wife really enjoyed it. I'm so glad he did it. She died a few years later and he still talks about it occasionally.

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  10. I have a low tolerance for cold temperature but I'd love to go there too. Good luck to me.

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