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

Thursday, August 6, 2015

From Soylent Green to Sunflowers



I have totally trashed my garage, digging in boxes brought up from the basement. I’ve been sorting stuff to go to Goodwill, the auction house, to give to family, or to keep a while longer. Piles here and piles there and while I have a system, it would not be readily apparent to anyone just walking through. I’ve made six trips to the auction house, two to Goodwill, one to recycling and have filled my trash container each week since I’ve been on this purging kick. Who knew I’d ever part with my college papers and catalogs, for example? Boohoo, now I don’t have any proof that at one time I was smart enough to pull in a few A’s on papers and tests. I’m quite sure, though, that I threw out many with lower grades, probably shortly after receiving them. If nothing else, I know how to put my best foot forward.

I also had a large box full of index cards with handwritten notes made during slide shows in art history classes. I read a few before throwing them away. It’s hard to believe at one time I had all that knowledge inside my head. Where did it all go? Is it still there in the form of intuition? Oh, I love that painting but I don’t remember why it’s good! Or is all that book learning buried deeply under the other stuff our senses take in over the years---those junk TV shows, movies and books, those run-on days of hacking out a living? Do old memories and knowledge get so compacted in our brains that they look like a Soylent Green wafer, there to nourish our souls but don’t you dare ask how that wafer was made? There are no sacred cows in our brains; if my husband’s stroke taught me anything that was it. Add water a Soylent Green wafer (or blood in the brain) and you never know what you’ll get.

From “my school days” box I saved the very first ‘A’ I got on an English term paper. I got it during my first year of college---quite an accomplishment considering in high school my grades lacked luster. The professor in that English Composition class had a way of teaching that got around my mild dyslexia and she made everything click in place. My niece, who was a special education and reading teacher before retiring, said it was a matter timing: brain changes plus a good teacher coming together at the right time when I was striving to learn. I also kept the very first set of blueprints I ever drew. They were made back in the days when blueprints were actually blue. I’d designed houses before and after that set but, what can I say, I’m sentimental. Your first blue is your first blue. In my case it turned out to be my only blue because the college adviser in my third year of college didn’t think girls should be architects. But I’ve told that story before so I’ll just add this: Thank you, Betty Friedan! Her wake-up call came a little too late for me but I’m so proud of how she changed the landscape for women.

At three o`clock this morning I took a sleeping pill. I missed that window where you feel drowsy enough to fall asleep but for some reason you fight it, then it goes away and you’re wide awake again. My brain wouldn’t turn off! I was thinking about the online auction I followed for several hours that evening as it closed. I had over 40 items in it and it was nerve racking for several reasons: 1) It doesn’t matter if something is worth five cents or five thousand dollars, they start everything out at a dollar; 2) We’ve had some long and wide spread power outages in the area and it’s hard to predict how that affected the bidding; 3) This particular auction house allows you to bid on your own things (not a common practice elsewhere). But the strategy of doing so is tricky and not a game I’m willing to play because the name of the game is to sell stuff, not end up paying commissions on your own stuff because you shot yourself in the foot and ‘won’ it all back; and 4) They have “soft closings” which means if no one has bid on something within five minutes of 9:00, it closes then, but if someone has placed a bid in that time frame, that auction item stays live until no one has bid for five minutes. One of my things, last night, went ninety minutes in overtime. I’ve hear tales about some things going three hours into overtime!

Today I had to go to the bank to sign papers for moving some money around. I hate doing that sort of thing. But on the good side the bank is right next door to the Breakfast Only Café where I ordered my first BLT of the season. Very tasty but my fellow diners were as dull as dishwater, just ordinary people enjoying lunch. On the way home, though, I passed by a field filled with sunflowers. Glorious sunflowers so pretty in the sun that I turned the car around to take few pictures. I hadn’t seen a field of sunflowers since 1999 when I was share-caring my dad and drove the back roads to his cottage in the country. This field is close enough that I could walk there, if I wasn’t addicted to sidewalks. How cool is that! ©

16 comments:

  1. It's very cool! We have quite a few fields of sunflowers around here. The owners harvest them and sell to the local tractor supply stores and other stores to sell for bird feeding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the way their heads follow the sun. I've wanted to take that photo above for about a week but I had to wait until they faced the right direction from where I could park.

      Delete
  2. I've gotten to the point where I have tossed most everything. I do remember to take a photo so I have it "saved" without taking up any space. Even tossed his high school year books recently. I have one bronze baby shoe from each of us, and one ceramic one of Kate's. Didn't do anything for the grands.

    I love sunflowers! Thanks for the photo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm doing great tossing things I've had for years if they have no momentary value but I can't do that with collectibles. I just don't have it in me to throw out things that have been around 75 to 100 years, specially when I can use the auction money. I just sold a 1930 fishing license for $125 and it doesn't even measure 3 inches. I keep running into things like that that need to go to someone who will enjoy them.

      Delete
  3. I am interested in how the mind works on a very basic level...in other words where the information goes and how our brain categorizes it. Where does it all go and how does it make connections with other things? And what happened to all that knowledge that we had in high school and college. I, too, feel that as a female I was not guided into paths that I really would have liked to take and I, too, feel that architecture and mathematical design would have been a good fit. I know that now but it took me a lifetime to understand that! However, no regrets...making lemonade out of the lemons is a better mindset.
    Regards,
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't really have regards either meaning I don't sit around saying, "If only I could have been an architect my life would have been better." But as we get older we like to compare the content and direction our lives have taken to the direction of social growth in the nation and the world. I see myself as part of the second wave of feminists that paved the way for the current generation of women and I am proud of that.

      There are a couple of movies with themes about taking a pill that allows us to access our entire brain power. I'm fascinated with the idea that everything we learn, see and do is still "in there" even when we seemingly can't access it or remember. (I want one of those pills! LOL) For me, I really think it turns into intuition while reading situations and stimulus that's coming at me....the little flashes of warning or approval you get about people, things, etc. Don used to say to me, "How did you know that was going to happen?" And I never knew. I just think I trust my intuition more than most people...it's like the unconscious part of my brain is put its two cents worth in.

      Delete
  4. Soylent Green was a frightening movie and I loved it. I'll be thinking about that movie all day and that's a good thing. Might have to watch it again.

    I know stuff is in our brains and sometimes the appear at the weirdest times and I ask myself, what made me think of that after all these years.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I was researching the spelling of 'Soylent' I noticed you can watch it online. I may do that soon, too.

      Delete
  5. With all of the processed foods and big-farm practices now, I sometimes wonder if we're eating Soylent Green. We don't know what we're eating, but hopefully not Soylent Green.
    I'm so impressed with your determination to continue to purge. Good on you. Reading this, I think you have as much stuff as I did before we moved back from MD. That amount of junk scared me enough to force me to keep it down to a mild roar. It can take over your life, but of course, you and Don were collectors. That's not the same as junk, but I know it's a responsibility that you want to get behind you. Don't you feel good every time you take a load to the Goodwill or the auction house? Just keep plodding along. It will get done.

    I love sunflowers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes I just feel guilty when I take things to Goodwill because I look at the money wasted on things I got tired of owning...like I should have made better choices. I really struggle with how much money I've wasted. I'm taking a couple of bags of books each week to the library.

      When I take things to the auction house I get scared for a few days, worrying that the bids won't come in. So far, it all evens out: A few things go too low and a few things go higher than I guessed but the bottom line per load is good. If I died, all the stuff I'm selling there would probably get trashed because people wouldn't understand the value of some of the stuff Don collected. I will still do the higher end stuff on e-Bay after the weather turns bad. Don was a pack rat with collectibles, me it was more with books and art.

      Things I'm able to give to family I feel good about. Don had kept a pinafore his mother wore to college in 1919, for example, and I offered it his brother. They are going to frame it. My nephew is taking a really cute camp stove that was my dad's before he got married. It's going to be freeing when/if I get done.

      Delete
  6. Jean :

    I can't believe in this country teachers frown on girls becoming architect or engineer. I am grateful that my parents were so forward thinking in allowing me to become engineer in that time period when there was no return on investment, and they were not very rich people , since as a daughter I will not be taking care of my parents financially. Its funny how I even became engineer even when parents wanted me to become doctor. It was more out of rebel if my brother is engineer then why cant I be. I m smarter than him anyways lol. you can always connect dots looking backward how our life turned out to be. I get amazed by your cleaning spree luckily not as motivated to do ours lol

    Asha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Asha, My experience was back in the early 1960's before the Feminist Movement of the mid '60 and '70s changed everything. There were women in the professions back then, but they fought the system to do if and I was too naive and young to know that back then.

      "Connect dots looking backward on how our life turned out"...I love that sentence. How very true. Your parents must be very proud they have a grandson who is studying medicine.

      Delete
  7. I really admire your determination to keep paring. I still remember my mom's move from Iowa, when I threw away all of my high school annuals. Once she was ensconced in her new home in Kansas City, I went up to visit and found -- my high school annuals!
    She'd pulled them out, and carted them along with her.

    She and dad were both collectors (stamps and coins for him, depression glass and etc. for her) and I got the bug, eventually. For me, it was Ohio Valley china, c. 1880-1940. I was so glad for hurricane Ike. I didn't lose any of my collection, but no one needs as many sets of dinnerware as I had. I gave a whole bunch of them to people who'd lost everything in the storm. Yes, they needed clothes and blankets and all that, but a nice set of china made some women really smile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband was into stamps and coins, too. For me, it was carnival glass though I don't have much anymore. And Ohio Valley china has graced my home from time to time but I wasn't into enough to be a real collector. What a wonderful thing to give such nice dinnerware to people who lost everything to the hurricane. I know it would have meant the world to me to have something so nice after losing so much.

      Delete
  8. I, too, am so grateful for the opportunities for women these days compared to "our day". I'm a bit younger than you, so the door was slightly ajar, at least in terms of activism. I rode the wave the the Feminist movement and worked for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, but the world was still divided into "women's professions" -- nursing, teaching, secretary-ing -- and men's -- everything else.

    Those auction things you do sound super stressful to me! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age there are STILL some people who think like that. But, as they say, "We've come a long way, baby!"

      Delete