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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Trip to Archaeology Heaven and Hell in the Same Week



The tomb of Egypt’s King Tutankhamun is said to be the most famous discovery in the history of archaeology and our senior hall organized an outing to tour an exhibit of over 1,000 of the more important findings inside his tomb. Not the actual items but rather life-sized, reconstructed and exact reproductions. (The real McCoy’s don’t tour anymore.) The over-the-top opulence of the stuff the Boy King intended to take with him to the Underworld was overwhelming. But no one could see this exhibit without admiring the skillful craftsmen and artisans (both past and present) who created these objects. The coolest thing was when they turned on the lights in a room set up to look exactly like it did when the archaeologist broke through a wall into the first room of the tomb and a voice-over read the words he wrote in his journal about the experienced. Howard Carter was a good writer and artist and a meticulous documentarian and hearing his words sent chills up my spine. We heard them again in the next room, where everyone took in an audible breath when a golden coffin was illuminated….well, one of them. He was found inside a set of golden coffins and boxes, one inside of another like gilded nesting dolls.

Carter had been looking for this tomb for years, in an area considered to have been completely excavated and taped out, but centuries of sandstorms had covered it over, putting the Boy King’s tomb many stories below the surface. He also got lost in history because a king who came to power shortly after his death (in 1341 B.C.) destroyed all records of the boy in a dispute over which gods to worship. Centuries went by and debris from building later pyramids covered over the entryway to Tut’s tomb. Now, he’s the best known pharaoh of them all which just goes to show that it might take a while for the universe to right itself from evil acts, but it always does in the end.

The discovery of King Tut’s intact tomb in 1922 influenced the final resting places of many upper class people back in that time frame. There’s even a small pyramid in the cemetery where my grandparents are buried---the one I went to last week---and there are many lion statues guarding the entries of other personal mausoleums in the same cemetery. The Tut discovery’s influence was wide-spread. As they pulled more and more artifacts to the surface, the world went crazy reviving the Egypt style arts, textiles and jewelry. Just this past weekend I mined a 1920’s era Egypt-style necklace out of my garage. Funny how everything we do connects.

This past week I did an archaeology-style dig of my own. Instead of century’s worth of sand storms to dig through, I only had to open up the row of metal cabinets in my garage. When we moved in over a decade ago I shoved boxes of stuff in the cabinets and thinking it was mostly Don’s stuff, I hadn’t looked inside those plastic boxes since. So imagine my surprise when I found a jewelry box that was full of three dozen pairs of earrings that came straight off my dresser top before we moved. At first I thought I shouldn’t even open that jewelry box, just put it in a box marked ‘donate’ or ‘auction’ and move on. That would have been a pat-myself-on-the-back moment if I could have done it, but I couldn’t. Eventually it did ended up in the auction box but not before I took out a dozen pair and replaced those with a dozen pair from the jewelry box in my bedroom. Am I on a downsizing roll, or what!

I did find another surprise in the cabinets, a tent that we thought got stolen during the move. It was inside an Army duffel bag that I assumed was full of Don’s uniform. My cabinet ‘dig’ in downsizing hell is not finished by any stretch of the imagination. But what gets me is how on the drive home from the auction house, this week, I caught myself dreaming about something I could buy with my new-found money. What the heck is wrong with me! I need a smaller house with less stuff not newer, different stuff.

Howard Carter was convinced there was a crypt for a young King Tut, despite the fact that his name had been expunged from all official documents and everyone else thought the Valley of the Kings had already given up all its treasures. He spent years unsuccessfully digging before his painstaking research paid off and he found archaeology heaven---the best preserved royal tomb ever discovered. Me? I wish I knew his secret for keeping yours eyes on the prize. I’m guessing it has to do with believing in yourself and your abilities. Will someone cross-stitch that on a pillow for me? I need to stay in archeology hell this summer but too often I have the attention span of a nit.  ©

NOTE: The photo at the top are a couple of the "nesting boxes" aka gold gilded caskets that the King's embalmed body was inside. The photo below was more of the "nesting boxes (my term, not theirs) and the above caskets were inside of here. If I'm remembering it right, there were five carved to fit the body and four square boxes. This photo below makes it look smaller than it was. It was probably 9 feet tall.

This is the way the first room in the tomb looked when it was found. That's chariot parts on the left, And those cat like things are actually beds. The king's childhood throne is to the right and those bags in the middle are grains. In another room are boats used on the Nile during that time frame and all kinds of stuff like make-up, perfume, musical instruments, carvings of servants and too much to remember.

Death Mask inside the casket

17 comments:

  1. Your Senior Center sounds fascinating. I have not yet participated in any of their organized outings. Gonna look into that right now! Right now I would need things that don't require much walking ....

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    1. That's the nice thing about going places with the senior center group. A bus drops you off right at the door, no standing in line for tickets---the director picks them up ahead of time and the bus picks you up again right near the door.

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  2. I read your posts and I feel like such a slug!

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    1. You're not a slug! I sign up for all this stuff because I want to interact with people. You have that already between the people in the park and your family. We all have something others wish we had. But going to things like this, I admit, gives me something to write about and sometimes that's the only reason I go. But when I get there, I do have fun. Keeping a blog pushes me to do more than I otherwise would do, I'm sure.

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  3. Went to a like place in San Jose many years ago. Most fascinating.

    We are downsizing here too. The garage is hubbies domain though and he's got a lot of stuff in there. We do manage to get both vehicles in there so I guess it could be worse.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I could get two cars in my garage, too, but it's an extra big one---three stalls and very deep stalls to fit a wheelchair van. One stall I'm using for my e-Bay and sorting station. Downsizing is hard!

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  4. Most amazing material that you have in your blog Jean. I really enjoy Archaeology and especially the material about King Tut. Well done my friend.
    Have a wonderous day Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Isn't it amazing! I'm so glad I got to see it. It's hard to wrap your mind around how all those golden things were made and the slaves it must have taken to build the four room tomb. Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I remember when the King Tut exhibition traveled to NYC many years ago.
    The difference between the archeologist focused on his task and those of us trying to downsize is that we relate to the 'stuff' that we are trying to go through because it is personal stuff. If I had an objective view of my stuff, like the archeologist, I would have managed to toss it all a long time ago! It is really hard when memories are attached.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Very true! I have no objectivity when the memories flow at the sight of something and that no doubt accounts for why it's hard to do that kind of purging day after day without stopping. Too many decisions, too many memories. I need to do more photo documenting when I'm sitting on the fence. A woman in my writing class had a three story house that had been in her family for several generations and she moved out with just her suitcases and didn't look back....sold the house with all it's contents included. She said it was "freeing." I don't think I could ever do that.

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  6. My husband didn't want to deal with our stuff. He was able to leave it. That is why he is there (in England) and I am here (in New York). I need to honor my past and in my case that means writing and making albums full of memories, photos and drawings to pass on to my children. They may not be interested but I know that I need to do this. When I am finished I will be able to leave but not yet. and I do think that at some point in their lives, they will appreciate it, as I do now with the memory albums that my mother left me.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Moving to another country would be so much harder to do than across town like I want to do in the future. I understand needing to honor your past and I do think your kids will appreciate it. After all, they ARE your kids and will value what you teach them.

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  7. This is amazing. I want very much to see this exhibit. Can you imagine the excitement surrounding this discovery. I think it's a good thing that they stopped touring with the originals. I'm sure the reproductions were equally stunning.

    You are on a downsizing roll. Congratulations. I'm so glad we donated and threw away so much stuff before we moved. We continued to discard things for a couple of weeks after we moved, but I think about finished. Well, I guess you're never really finished. I'm sure I'll find a few more things. We still haven't unpacked a few boxes that still lie waiting to be unearthed in the garage. Who knows what lies buried there? I'm sure it isn't a golden artifact, though.

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    1. I honestly don't think the real thing could have been any better. They used exact measurements and the same techniques and tools that the originals were made with. I'd have to believe the only "fake" thing in the whole exhibit was the gold although I don't really know for sure about that. I wish I had asked that question.

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  8. Your Tut adventure reminds me of when I saw the traveling exhibit in Chicago -- it must have been around 1977 or so. A group of friends and I literally "slept" on the cement steps of the Natural History Museum the night before tickets went on sale the next morning, to ensure we'd get in. Those days are over! I remember how awed I was at the artifacts. Truly fascinating.

    And way to go on your own "dig". I am always looking for things to get rid of around here too. I think my big old sofa with the ugly floral pattern (what was I thinking???) is on the chopping block soon. I don't care if the living room is bare; I can't stand that thing much longer! :)

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    1. One word: slipcovers. Slipcovers from Surefit.net

      I wanted to go to that same Chicago exhibit back in the 1970s but I couldn't find anyone who wanted to make the long drive with me.

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