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, September 23, 2015

Moving Forward While Looking Back



The Farmers Market is a crazy, good place. Even this late in the season when---can you believe it---I saw my first Christmas commercial on TV! It’s not even October yet but you’ve got to get those Christmas presents put in lay-away, says K-mart. Hurry, hurry before all the good stuff is gone! Back on topic: the vendors at the market all must have produce coming out of their ears because Saturday they were giving unadvertised freebies. One of them gave me two pounds of string beans when I asked for one. The corn grower gave me ten ears of ‘peaches and cream’ instead of six. The green pepper and tomatoes dealer doubled my order. I smiled and thanked them all for their generosity, of course, but I can’t eat that much produce! And the guilt of wasting food always weighs heavy on my mind---especially now when there’s so many displaced and hungry refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland on the news.

Solution: At seventy-something years old, and for the first time in my life, I needed to learn how to blanch produce for the freezer. Pots, pans, boiling water and ice water. How hard could it be? Turns, out it’s not hard---just time consuming, especially if you count the part where you have to clean up the kitchen afterward. I didn’t think I could blanch the dozen peaches I came home with so I mashed them up like strawberries for shortcake. But I didn’t have a plan or solution for the extra tomatoes. Decades ago, I helped my mom make her famous chili sauce a few times but that was more complicated than I wanted to get into, so instead I’m eating tomatoes morning, noon and night. That’s a slight exaggeration but I did discover they taste good sprinkled with French’s Fried Onions. My mom’s favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes was sprinkled with sugar, my husband liked them with salt and pepper. I like them with McCormick Bac’n Bites but I didn’t have any in the house. I thought about using the dog’s Beggin Strips. They look like bacon, they smell like (rancid) bacon but they have yellow dye #5 in them and I’m allergic to that. Tonight I’m having a BLT for dinner made with bacon cheddar beer bread from the Farmers Market. I might have to make one for the dog. He loves everything that goes into BLTs. He’s very good about eating fruits and vegetables. 

Monday morning is my make-a-trip-to-the-auction-house day. The drive is about a half hour and it takes me through massive peach and apple orchids. Their picking is well underway. Packing crates were stacked higher than a house at several farms, ready to be transported to the canning plants. At one of the corn fields I went by there was a combine parked and ready to start cutting. It was old and probably paid for and it could only cut down four rows of corn at a time. When Don and I would go to heavy equipment bone yards to find parts for one of his three front-end loaders we’d run into farmers doing the same for their various farm equipment. 

Don could fix anything. One of my favorite memories involves going to a bone yard where Don and the owner spent several hours stripping parts off from an old Trojan loader while I sat in the truck reading. After Don paid the guy, the man handed me thirty dollars and said, “Make this guy take you out for dinner. You shouldn’t have rush to get a meal on the table after keeping him company all day.” Little did the man know I didn’t cook and going to a restaurant was a given. But the look on Don’s face when bills went from his hands to the guy’s, then three tens given to me was priceless. We would have stopped for hamburgers but I upgraded us to steak. When the owner of the bone yard died, his tombstone made the newspaper. It was a large, marble bulldozer and, of course, Don insisted that we had to go see it the next time we were down in that county.

I sold off all of Don’s heavy equipment within nine months of his stroke and this week I took his vintage toy farm and heavy equipment to the auction house. Already, Christmas stuff is showing up at the auction house and I did my part. I brought all of Don’s candles---ten sets---that were made by his favorite oil company, Socony-Vaccum. If you have any vintage Christmas candles and see a red Pegasus on the bottom you'll know you have angels, trees, snowmen, choir kids or deer that were made in the 1930s. I hated those candles. At vendor swap meets we had to keep them from melting in the sun and we couldn’t sell them on e-Bay in the summertime for fear they’d melt in shipping, yet Don kept buying every single one he saw at estate sales which only proves that not all dead husbands become perfect, pedestal candidates when they pass. He had his flaws…though time and distance do make them more endearing. ©

10 comments:

  1. My mother did a lot of canning in the summer months to make it through the long winters. It was the way of things back then. Not many folks do that anymore and I sure don't. Too easy to get stuff at Costco and the local grocery store. It's a thing of the past for many.

    I love reading about your memories.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Around here, young people are taking a new interest in canning. We have a "yuppie" cooking school close by that has one day canning classes and they fill up. They even have one that takes the class to the farmers market to teach people how to pick out produce! I won a couple of classes in a raffle and so I keep looking at the classes offered.

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  2. I suspect the reason all those farmers were giving away food is that they hate to see it go to waste, too. Last weekend, I did my annual tomato canning extravaganza. This year, I cooked 25 lbs of tomatoes down into sauce and canned them in pint jars. I ended up with 16 pints, which (along with the 2 pints still left from the last time I did this) should be enough to last for 2 years. In alternate years, I put up quarts of whole tomatoes. I'd like to try making "sun-dried" tomatoes by dehydrating them in the oven -- but I just looked at the directions and it sounds way more complicated than I'm up for this year.
    I love the story about Don, the owner of the bone yard, and the $30 dinner! Memories like that have to make you smile. -Jean

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    1. I had my mom's canned equipment but I sold it a could of weeks ago at the auction and was shocked at how much it went for. I'm kind of glad it was gone and I wasn't tempted to go back to the farmers market for enough tomatoes to make chili sauce. It's a lot of work but I'm not surprised at all that you've been canning. Maybe a dehydrator would be less work than in an oven? I've never read the directions to know how it's done. Someone at the farmers market sells dehydrated stuff in October, at least she did last year.

      I need to start writing more of my memories down. I'm starting to forget too much of my past and that bothers me. It's the little looks on Don's face when something like the money exchange happened that I love remembering the most.

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  3. Oh fun! I went through a canning phase that went along with my vegetarian phase. I even made catsup ... which I rarely use but gosh was it good. My Mom switched to freezing later in life. What a great treat to have Dad's veggies at Christmas. Mmmmmm. Ohio is a great place for corn and tomatoes!

    I love when you share a memory with us! I do think you should write things down as you think about them! So fun!

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    1. Don's mom made ketchup, too. It always seems like a miracle to me that a woman could make that in her home. Our moms were alike in their progression from canning to freezing.

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  4. Oh, my gosh. I've been looking and looking for those candles: choir boys, angels, deer, trees. Sigh. We had them out every Christmas, and they got "lost" somehow, and now I can't find them any more. The only ones I've found are the choir boys, at Vermont Country Store -- apparently they're made from the old molds, because they look just the same. If only I had known! But I guess the choir boys are good enough. I did like the angels, though.

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    1. eBay usually has them and probably will through Christmas. Right now they have the angels, deer and trees.You just have to do a search for "Socony Oil Tavern Candles". Look in antique stores, too. We saw them often in antique stores but not usually in boxes. And I would imagine you could find them at the online antique venues, too, with a search.

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    2. That's what I needed -- the name turned them up el pronto. Seaching for "mom's old Christmas candles" just wasn't going to work! :)

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