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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Travelogues and Starbucks


Feast or famine. That’s the way my social life goes. This week was the latter, having had only two thing on my day planner. One was my house cleaner who came to do her monthly magic, and two I went to a travelogue about river cruises in Europe, Asia and South America. Avalon, the company that owns the river ships, has eleven tours and when their very enthusiastic speaker was finished giving her talk even I---the non-traveler---wanted to sign up. They have two sizes of ships. The smaller size holds 126 passengers and the large one hold 160. I want to call them boats because they aren’t tall and stately like the ocean liners and they don’t have on-board entertainment. No pools. No floor shows but the speaker made a point of repeatedly telling everyone that all the beds face windows. (Does that mean passengers are the floor show for people on shore if they don’t close the curtains?). They gave us all a glossy, 260 page book outlining the details of all their tours, the rates and schematics of the ships plus gorgeous, scenic photos---costly, slick printing. I felt guilty taking one since I have no intentions of going on a cruise but they count on word-of-mouth advertising so caulk up this blog entry to me dispensing myself of my self-inflicted guilt.

If I was signing up for one of their tours it wouldn't be on the one the travel escort service that works out of my senior hall is setting up for 2017. They’re doing ‘Amsterdam to Amsterdam’ during tulip time which seems weird considering we have large tulip farms and a tulip festival within a 45 minute drive from my house. They draw in tour buses from all over The States and then some. Another tour  that Avalon offers would be more fascinating to me. It's on the Burmese river named Irrawaddy (see the photo above). Or their trip on the Yangtze River that takes you through China and Tibet. The day trips on land in China are ones my niece recently did and she couldn’t say enough good things about the country and travel there except for maybe the fact that she couldn’t get Wi-Fi in all of China. The Egypt’s Nile River tour would be awesome, too. I just wish I wouldn’t have to get on an airplane to do any of these trips. I’ve flown to Washington D.C., Denver and the Bahamas. I did not enjoy the experiences and that was long ago when airplane seats were bigger, the crazy people all took buses and the flight attendants were from the “coffee, tea or me” era of passenger service.

Speaking of crazy people, I cannot believe that a front-runner for the President of the United States is calling for a boycott of Starbucks because they are using a plain red cup for the holiday season! Not only that he’s talking about not renewing Starbucks leases in his Trump Towers all because some whack-a-do made a video that went viral claiming the all red cups are a war on Christmas. The topic was trending on Twitter and Facebook for several days and late night comedians were having a field day with the controversy. The political debating sites racked up pages of posts about Starbucks’ so-called war on Christmas and YouTube videos on the issue are exploding. Even Bristol Palin weighed in accusing liberals of trying to "make Christians look stupid.” Say what? What is stupid, Bristol, is calling for a boycott because of a plain red cup! I swear I’m going to be so jacked up on caffeine through the holidays that I’ll be talking a mile a minute; this topic made me so mad I vowed I’d stop at Starbucks every time I’m near one. If I was Starbucks, next year I’d use a plain white cup and put a box of color crayons by all their cash registers so people could make up their own designs of whatever won’t offend their tender sensibilities. 

Starbucks is one of the most socially responsible corporations on the face of the earth. They give their full AND part time employees health insurance and reimburse them for college tuition. They practice ethical sourcing for fair-trade coffee and have set up Farmer Support Centers in key coffee growing regions. This year they opened up five “military stores” (and have ten more planned) that are entirely staffed and run by veterans. And contrary to what the boycott rumor mill says, they don’t script their employees on what to say or not say to customers in the way of a holiday greeting other than to “make them feel welcome and glad they came.” Trump, who loves to wave a Bible at his rallies, ought to sit down and read it sometime. Starbucks does not deserve to be used as pandering bait to get votes. Rant off.

If this week was void of things to do then next week will more than make up for it. I have eight things penciled in on my day planer including a tour of the non-public areas of the airport. I’m looking forward to that tour although I’m kind of surprised the TSA allows people into the areas we’ll be going. I guess they don’t think a bunch of elderly widows from a senior hall could be terrorists. And that’s a good bet to take. The most militant thing I’m likely to do is to walk past the ill-informed sign holders in front of Starbucks and say, “Happy Holidays” just because I know it will annoy them.©

2015

18 comments:

  1. I can't believe we're talking about red cups with everything that's going on in the world, but I like your white cup idea. I didn't know all those things about Starbuck's. I do know their caffe mocha is my cup of tea... err... coffee, and their blueberry muffin is to die for.

    I'm ever amazed at the trips and activities your senior center offers.

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    1. I know! It ticks me off that people like Trump and Richard Land are picking on a company with a conscience like Starbucks. What they do for farmers in war-torn areas alone makes them worth supporting. Ethical sourcing is a big deal in the coffee industry and many of us are willing to pay a little more because they practice it.

      The senior hall on the richest side of town doesn't even offer half the things offered at the one by me. It sure complicates the decision to move or not. Even though I haven't formed any close friends there at least I have developed many friendly acquaintances.

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  2. I have often thought I would like to do a river cruise. I'm not fond of boats on water, but it seems like it would be better than a big ship on an ocean. Of course, having to fly to wherever the cruise starts would be my undoing, so...........................

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    1. After going to that travelogue I was impressed by the river cruises and think they would be more interesting than the big ocean liners which are really more like luxury hotels where you go to get pampered. I don't care about that kind of vacation and would prefer the sightseeing. I like the idea of always being able to see a shoreline. Ya, me too on flying to the starting point. Too bad they don't have river cruises that start here in Michigan. LOL Travelogues are fun.

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  3. We did the big cruises and we would rather boat on our boat so no more cruises. We have so much fun on our own boat and it is far less expensive.

    Don't go to Starbucks and I don't care what color the cups are. I don't care for anyone that's running for president on either side of the aisle. They all suck.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Whenever I go to the marines along Lake Michigan it's easy to see how much fun the people who rent slips there are having. A lot of people come over from Chicago for the weekends. You are so lucky to be doing what your love in your retirement.

      The field of candidates sure doesn't offer a lot, does it.

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  4. Ah ha ha, the red cups. Another case to point out people should do their homework before jumping on the Facebook bandwagon!! I'll be saying Merry Christmas to everyone, starting Dec 1. And change my ringtone to a Christmas song.

    I think we would be happy on a river cruise but since you don't fly, I'll have to fly to Michigan and then we can drive to whichever river cruise we want to do! Maybe we could rent a very comfy van with extra large seats and lots of cup holders and we will stop at every Starbucks we pass!!!

    I know, when it rains it pours. Just four days left .... and I still have to buy a used suitcase ... and sort through the boxes of paperwork in my room to decide what to pack .... taxes, etc! ARGH!

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    1. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings---I'll say them all, repeating what ever anyone says to me but mostly I hear Merry Christmas around here.

      Oh, my gosh I can see a van full of red cups! We wouldn't get far because we'd always be looking for rest rooms. LOL

      Have fun packing....

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  5. My husband and I did one of those River cruises about 6 years ago from Amsterdam to Basel in Switzerland. It was very good. There is a lot to be said for only unpacking your suitcase once (on board) and having a comfortable sleep while the boat moves smoothly from place to place. The accommodation was very pleasant (we sailed with Avalon) and it is all very well organized. The tour guides are all very professional and informative. One of the attractions for me was the smooth sailing...i have crossed the Atlantic several times and do get seasick but this was pleasant. It really is a good way to get a taste of places you haven't previously visited.
    I am not a Starbucks user (I drink my coffee at home in the morning) and I didn't know much about the company other than it is extremely popular. And I think someone who we all are familiar with from centuries ago coined a phrase for what you are describing: much ado about nothing!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I was sincerely impressed with what I saw of Avalon and for all the reasons you mentioned it looked like a great way to travel.

      "Much ado about nothing!" Perfect saying for this situation. Other than the wide variety of drinks Starbucks has, I think a lot of their popularity is based on the fact that the company is socially responsible with things like water conversation, recycling, fair trade sourcing and above the norm treatment of employees and farmers. In the spring they even give away their used coffee grounds to anyone who wants them for their garden. I usually get a 10 lb bag for some plants that loves them. Other places have some drinks that are as good but Starbucks fans are willing to pay a little more, knowing what we know about the company.

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  6. Jean :

    I love starbucks &love his CEO howard Schulz & his policies, even though as a investor I like starbucks company I don't like their coffee its too strong & expensive for my taste. I will rather drink my special coffee at home on my swingsan & get same or more joy while enjoying my cup of coffee. We have yet to do river cruise though have done enough cruises, I enjoyed our cruise experiences & river cruises sounded similar maybe small number of people & small scale entertainment.I enjoy traveling with my husband I make all traveling plans & he make sure to get us in & out of our vacation spot in one piece. I can see why many people don't like traveling, it does put you out of your comfort zone. There is lot of things which is out of your control when traveling no wonder lot of people don't like traveling. I enjoy traveling due to hubby's glass half full attitude cause I know everything will turn out to be fine if he is by my side & it usually does, I trust his decisions.

    Asha

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    1. Hi Asha, welcome home. I love your vacation photos. When I traveled with Don I had 100% trust that he could get us out of any bad situation in one piece and that sure made a lot of difference. I'm glad you can trust your husband the same way. You two go to some interesting places.

      Starbucks coffee is strong but most people who go there don't drink a straight, cup of coffee. The blends are strong so they hold up with all the flavorings and milks they use with their coffee. Just a few weeks again I finally found a supermarket coffee that I like. Green Mountain Organic Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. I used to just buy whatever was on sale, but not anymore. When I get to town I'm going to a coffee bean store to see if they carry it.

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  7. A 260 page book? What a big advertising budget this cruise company has - advertising must account for 20% of the cost! I'd be reluctant to sign on for this cruise for reason alone. Reminds me of the ad budgets for some charities - a lot goes in to middlemen's pockets for all the glossy mailings.

    The tour of the non-public areas of an airport sounds really cool! Wonder if they'll let you photograph these areas.

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    1. I know! It's a very impressive book and that's why I felt guilty taking one. Our director of the senior hall has traveled with them and can't say enough good things about them.The trips cost between $2,000 to $3,000 without your airfare to get there included so maybe you're 20% figure is a little high? In a store you'd probably pay $20 for a book that size and quality.

      I won't be taking any photos but if I could it would be inside the control tower. Not sure if others will.

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  8. LOL, I knew there had been some kind of controversy about the Starbucks holiday cups, but I didn't know what it was. Thanks for putting me in the loop, however looney that loop is. I swear that if a novelist made up the Republican presidential candidates and put them in a satirical novel, people would say it was way over the top and totally unbelievable! ;-) -Jean

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    1. Isn't that the truth! Unfortunately there are only three that I think should ever get anywhere near the keys to the White House and they are low down in the polls. I like to see elections where even if MY candidate doesn't win at least I'm comfortable knowing the guy who did win is smart enough to not damage the nation.

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  9. I always watch those river cruise commercials on TV (on PBS, mostly) and they look so appealing. I'd do one in a heartbeat if I didn't have to be in an airplane to get to Europe. I'm with you Jean. I HATE flying. I do it, but I always dread it and am so relieved to be off the plane. Anything over 6 hours (Seattle to NYC or Seattle to Kauai) and I can't imagine it.

    Speaking of Seattle...I'm so proud of living where Starbucks started and love going to the original store at Pike Place Market. I'm a Starbucks snob. Lots of folks hate Starbucks now that it's a multinational corporation. But it's still the best in my mind. And I love the red cups! Trump is a joke. Unfortunately he's ahead in the polls of Republican voters which is sort of terrifying and makes our country look like a joke. I'll drown my sorrows in an Eggnog Latte or a Peppermint Mocha -- proudly flaunting my red cup.

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    1. Isn't it amazing what Starbucks has done world-wide in such a short time. I love everything about it. Every time someone says it's too expensive I tell them about their dedications to ethical free-trade sourcing and that shuts them up. I have four red cups sitting in a row now and I will have more before New Years. They are part of my Christmas decorations. LOL

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