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, January 23, 2016

Luncheons, Lectures and Red Hat Ladies



 
We humans are creatures of habit. We sit in the same section in restaurants, churches and movies theaters. We take the same routes to the places we go routinely. Our lives have a rhythm even when we’re retired with no job crying out for our time and talents. After all these years of not being in the work force, I still do my laundry on the weekends, water my house plants on Sundays and at five o’clock daily the dog gets his denial care stick. The senior hall and Red Hat Society sets the monthly rhythm of my life but if my world was perfect, the activities I like doing with these two groups would be spread out across the month. Instead, the third week of the month will always find me going to a luncheon on Tuesday, a Red Hat Society tea on Wednesday and a lecture on Thursday. 

The food at the luncheons is always good and at a bargain price. The entertainment comes free after the meal and on rare occasions that's all it's worth. This week, it was a gray-haired singer whose pink paisley tie ended half way between his belt bucket and the beginning of his inseam. How could someone of his advanced age not know how to buy or wear a tie? Not that I’m a fashionista but it was distracting---or maybe at my advanced age I just needed an excuse to stare at a man’s crotch? While the others around me were swooning over his voice and the Jesus-is-the-answer song he was singing, I was wondering if he stood up straight and tall would his tie issue be resolved, or would a pair of scissors be in order. Lord help me if the filter in my brain that keeps me civilized ever gives out and I start acting on my old person thoughts.   

The following day at the Red Hat Society tea we packed bags of chocolates, cookies and Valentines for 65 nursing home residents and employees, then we planned a day trip via chartered bus to wine country up north to take place this coming June. It will fall in the same week the senior hall is planning a day trip south to a Shipshewana garden quilt tour. Woo-is-me, if I do both the dog will have to be in a kennel four nights because both trips leave too early in the morning for me to check him in the same day as the trips, ditto on getting back too late. I'm so torn, but I can't do both and live to tell about it! Besides the kennel issue, my bones and bladder are too old for back-to-back bus trips. And did I mention a third day trip that is calling my name? It’s to a prison that was once the biggest one in the nation. Nothing to fear. It’s closed now and has been re-purposed into an artist colony. The tour comes with lunch and a lecture on the history of prisons and would cost a $100 plus $54 for Levi to spend two days in doggie jail. Summer promises to be a good one this year. My niece is also talking about organizing a family weekend at her cottage. I'm totally geeked up about that idea.

The lecture I went to this week was interesting for anyone who has ever spent much time in my home state of Michigan. It was about the history of M-22 and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline. M-22 starts at Manistee and travels north 116 miles along Lake Michigan and up the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula and back down the east side ending at the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay. (That’s just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from to wine country). My husband would have loved all the vintage photos of gas stations, maps, lighthouses, camps, resorts and businesses, and seeing all those slides made me homesick for doing the M-22 tour again. They churned up good memories of Don and I taking the Corvette up along that highway. It was one of our favorite weekend trips and we always stopped at the Gravity Hill near Arcadia---there are two in Michigan and only 31 in the entire USA. I know Gravity Hills are just an optical illusion but it’s still fascinating to see balls and out-of-gear cars appear to roll up hill.

I hesitate to mention how happy I’ve been without the massive snow falls, ice storms and blizzards we experienced here in Michigan the past two winters. Bless the gods of normal winters. I haven’t been snowed in once and I haven’t had to shovel snow three-four times a day just to keep up. I hesitate because I know so many people in our country are facing a monster storm as I write this. If you’re reading this from the land of snowzilla, I hope you were able to stay safe and warm! ©

16 comments:

  1. Our Little Bit would not eat if we left her in the doggy prison. We quit leaving her and just planned house sitting. She tolerated that just fine.

    Sounds like you have lots of things on your plate. I remember last year you had cabin fever because of all the snow. Enjoy.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. The mild winter has made a huge difference in my mood this year. Knock on wood that it holds until spring.

      Levi doesn't eat the first day in the kennel but he's never been in one longer than two nights. I used to have someone near by who'd take him for a 10 hour day but she got a second dog of her own and now it's too hard for her with two males and a female. After seeing the stress-out dogs after Katrina---many of whom had never been in a cage before---I decided Levi needed to go to the kennel overnight at least once a year even if I wasn't going anywhere. You just never know when a dog will have a health or family emergency.

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  2. Gosh you are keeping yourself busy! I, too, prefer a break between activities ... just to let my mind rest!!

    Well ... Oregon sure has you beat in the pet care department! We would take our Schnauzer to a place that was set up and furnished like an apartment. A caregiver spent the night WITH them. They watched animal movies. Were allowed ON the furniture and were free fed. Spooky always GAINED weight!!

    Later, with another dog (or two) a friend started a doggie day care for older or injured dogs. They also had the run of her downstairs and usually 2 on her lap (and her husband's) They had a 7 acre narrow farm WITH a covered arena ... so dogs could play outside even in the rain. In the summer, she had a large kiddie pool. And she also did therapy in that pool ... as well as play time!

    I never had to be concerned about leaving a pup ....


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    1. You are lucky! I've heard of places like the apartments for dog but I don't think there are any around here. Maybe Honey can go back to Oregon with you?

      I trust the place I go. It's run by a woman who is an animal behaviorist/consultant for the Humane Society. She is the leading expert in the area for dealing with problem dogs and she teaches dog training classes. You can't board a dog with her if you haven't been through one of her classes. When Levi is there she used him to demonstrate obedience stuff so he gets a free refresher course. Levi is allowed to free feed there as at home but if he's not eating by the second day she's sit on the floor and hand feed him. And the dogs get play time out on a nice grassy place. She takes pictures of the dogs all lined up and smiling and emails them to you while you're gone. LOL

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  3. LOL, Maybe your singer felt the need of an arrow pointing at his equipment as a demonstration that it was still in working order. But I do love the image of you reaching into your bag for a pair of scissors and remedying the situation! During the last year of her life, my mother had a brain tumor that muted her internal filter so that she mostly said whatever she was thinking. She tended to have pretty sharp and witty (though not always kind) thoughts, so the results were often hilarious. -Jean

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    1. That thought crossed my mind, too, that he was pointing the way. LOL

      Like your mother's unfiltered talk, I've enjoyed my share of "old people" comments. I can only hope mine comes off the same, witty way when my time comes.

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  4. Thank you for giving me an understanding of the layers of a State that I have never spent any time in! I would opt for the quilt tour over the wine tour, if you have to choose (for a bit more inspiration for your studio work!)
    Although I am normally in Northern New York, which is too far north for the current east coast storm, I decided to leave for a while. After last winter, I decided I didn't want to spend the entire winter in the frozen North and as my husband spends a lot more time in England than I do, I am with him for five weeks. My winter jacket has been hanging in the closet since I arrived on Wednesday and I have been shedding layers. The daffodils are blooming in the surrounding gardens and it is hard to get used to the green grass after all the white landscape that I left behind.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Wine country tours are quite easy to find around here so I'm definitely leaning towards the quit show. The only thing pulling me the other way is that I know the Red Hat ladies better and know I'd have a warmer time people wise.

      I don't blame you for wanting to avoid the cold and snow of Northern New York. I've never traveled to another season, can you believe that! Daffodils in January would be wonderful and are appearing in the grocery store. I almost bought some last week. I always buy flowers when my house is really clean. LOL

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  5. I love M-22, have done the route a few times--also the Mystery Spot at St. Ignace. It IS fascinating. This is not a normal winter for Michigan by any means--we can thank El Nino', but what the East Coast is getting reminds me of a normal Michigan winter. It's just that there are sooooooooo many people living in such confined areas that they don't know what to do and don't have the equipment to do it. I really wish we did have 3 feet of snow--on top of our gardens for a good spring drenching when it thaws. Our flowers probably won't be as big or tall as they were this spring and I know, my Lilac bushes need a lot of fall rain and snow melt. Oh well--it has been a nice weather for getting around.

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    1. I love El Nino winters in Michigan but you're right about it effecting the spring plants. Still, at my age I wish they came more often. But the winter isn't over yet either so you might get your wish for more snow.

      Even in Michigan (unless you're up in the UP) we don't normally get 3 foot of snow falling in less than two days. No one can keep up with a snowfall like that in such a short time frame. Three foot of seasonal snow total on the ground, yes, that's common. Where I'm at the seasonal average snowfall is 75.9 inches, less on your side of the state. In the 30 years Don plowed snow only one time did we got dumped on as bad as they did out East in such a short time. That year we got 36.1 inches in 17 hours and it shut down the city just like in NYC. They even printed sweatshirts and bumper stickers that said, "I survived the blizzard of 1978." Don had a ton of blizzard stories that year and he loved every one of them. But that much snow on roofs got to be dangerous as roofs started caving under the weight of that much snow. People all over the city were shoveling their roofs to keep them from caving in.

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  6. LOL I can picture that paisley pink tie, traveling -oh so low. Wonder how much THAT subliminal message sent the ladies swooning and how much the songs did? Clearly, your standards for eye candy are still very high. Good for you, Jean.

    Do they hold these trips rain or shine? Party poop me would be one to cancel if it was raining cats and dogs. But if the weather is perfect, what a hard choice.

    That re-purposed prison trip sounds absolutely fascinating. >> shudder << I wonder if the artists have cleared out all the vibes the murderers and swindlers brought in there. I hope they have transformed the place inside and out. If anyone can, it's them, and I'd be fascinated to see how.

    12 - 20" snow here, with snow drifts covering a quarter of my driveway. I snuggled up reading as the wind howled, so thankful we weren't losing power. Yesterday was clean-up day. Thank goodness...my snow blower roared first try, and released me from my snuggly isolation. I celebrated with a huge stack of blueberry pancakes at the diner, and swapped survival tales with the nicest man at the next table.

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    1. The senior hall is tied to the school system in terms of building management. So the only time the senior hall events get canceled is if the schools get closed for weather. I don't remember that ever happening for rain. Trips are different they go rain or shine. I don't sign up for winter bus trips but I know they've had a couple that were scary on the roads. They tend not to go as far in the winter, though.

      The prison tour does sound interesting, does it. I guess they've gutted some of the cells to make a gallery and a few apartments but other areas are still original.

      Glad you survived the storm! I used to love going to restaurants after big snow storms. People always talked to one another then.

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  7. I live vicariously through all your events and trips. Everything sounds so interesting! Also, the guy and the tie. I have a "thing" about ill-fitting ties. I think ties are a bit ridiculous to begin with and I do always think they are big arrows pointing to the package. LOL Did I ever tell you my honeymoon trip was to drive from Chicago north to Milwaukee and then up and around Lake Michigan crossing at Mackinac Island and back down the Michigan side? I loved that trip and not just because it was my honeymoon, which after 43 years doesn't hold the same romantic charge (LOL). I thought it was so beautiful along the lake and in the woods. Growing up near Chicago and having relatives in Wisconsin and Michigan has always made the lake feel a bit like "home" to me.

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    1. The trips and events are the major reason why I'm leaning towards not moving out of the township I'm in.

      I always notice ill-fitting ties! It's one of the few things guy gets to wear when dressing up to show their personalities and so many guys blow it. I had a hard time giving Don's ties away.

      Don and I did that same trip. We drove the entire distance around Lake Michigan, one of my favorite vacations. The only part I didn't like was Chicago's traffic. We didn't stay there. I picture where you live now as much like the UP...lots of trees and quietness.

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    2. There are lots of trees for sure....and places of deep quiet. But where I actually live is pretty urban: 25 miles north of Seattle. But it's easy to find tranquility only a short distance away.

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    3. Tranquility only a short drive away is wonderful, even if you don't go there often. I have the same thing where I live.

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