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, June 11, 2016

Sundials and Day Trips



When my husband, Don, retired I gave him a Fossil brand wristwatch that had no moving parts. It was a sundial, good only when the sun is out. A few years later in his travels through an antique mall, a second hand store or flea market he came across another Fossil watch exactly like it and knowing that I suffered from sundial watch envy, he bought it for me. You could always tell when we were ready for a laid back road trip because we’d put on our Fossil sundials, take the T-tops off the Corvette, pack up the dog and drive the back roads towards Northern Michigan where there are more trees than anything else. I still have them both though I haven’t worn mine since Don died. I love the quirkiness of those watches and they had the power to strike up conversations where ever we’d go. "God winds up our sundials and the moon puts them to bed," was said a few time.

In case you need a refresher on the history of the earliest archaeological sundials, they were found in the Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and are believed to be circa 1500 BC. Wikipedia says, “Presumably, humans were telling time from shadow-lengths at an even earlier date, but this is hard to verify. In roughly 700 BC, the [Old Testament] describes a sundial — the "dial of Ahaz" mentioned in Isaiah 38:8 and II Kings (possibly the earliest account of a sundial that is anywhere to be found in history) — which was likely of Egyptian or Babylonian design.” 

Recently I’ve come to wonder if a sundial watch might actually be more practical in bright light than the currently popular watches with digital screens. Clocks in cell phones aren’t much better in sunny situations. I found this out the hard way when I went on a day trip through the senior hall. Neither my Fitbit nor smart phone screens were readable as I strolled around the tourist town we visited. Thankfully, the place had a town square with a working clock because the senior hall bus waits for no one. Watches are synchronized before we get off the bus and the fear of God is drilled into us when someone on the bus invariably brings up the fact that our tour facilitator left her own mother behind when she didn’t meet the bus on time. In a foreign country, no less. My day trip reminded me of my sundial watch and on my next senior hall trip---to an out-of-state Amish quilt show---I may line my arm up with my Fitbit, my sundial and for good measure a watch or two with actually hands that go around. God knows I have enough watches in the house to choose from---Don had a watch fetish. 

It was a beautiful, bright day yesterday and I could have used the sundial watch when I went to the orthopedic doctor’s office for my annual bone density scan, a full body scan done from a zillion views. (I love my bone doctor. He’s the one who tells me if insurance won’t cover yearly scans---the norm is every two years---that he’ll cover the cost.) I had looked up the options for getting to his office on Google Maps and they suggested four routes ranging from 15.1 to 16.9 miles and taking from 25 to 44 minutes. I nixed the highway route and another where I knew construction would be a problem. Surprisingly, the route I took---the 25 minute route---is very rural, a two lane road with a deep woods coming right up to the road and forming a canopy of lushness overhead. Every so often a house would open up a place to peak through to the river that the road follows and gives it its name. It’s a road that dates back to when the Indians used the river with a foot path near as their modes of transportation and there is a nature trail between the road and the river for bikers, dog walkers and joggers. Every time I’d see a patch of the trail I couldn’t help daydreaming about the Native American encampments that took place along that part of the river. People still find museum quality artifacts every so often. Needless to say, driving back and forth to the doctor put nostalgia on tap and since that was the case, I decided to have lunch at one of my husband’s favorite places, inviting his ghost to tag along for the ride. It's an out-of-the-way place we reserved for days when sundial watches slowed us down and made us more in tune with nature.

In the 21th century we all tend to forget how our ability to make observations has advanced civilizations. The sundial, for example, would have never been invented if not for the careful observations of nature nor would the cylinder-like shape of lighthouses or the principles that make helicopters fly---and who could forget the work of rock star mathematician and physicist, Isaac Newton? Observations led to the invention of music, art and science. In our ordinary lives most of us will not make civilization-changing discoveries but when we slow up enough to observe nature we can connect with the continuum of time---past, present and future. We see it in the rocks and rivers, in the valleys and mountains, in the shadows cast by the sun and the moon, and in the way living creatures take care of their young in the spring and gather supplies for the winter. ©

30 comments:

  1. New to me, never heard of a sundial watch until today. Very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wouldn't want to depend on it without a compass handy. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fred Flintstone must have worn a sundial watch! Goodness,what unique people you and Don were, and you very much are! One of the many reasons I enjoy your company here.

    Interesting, that with nature we connect with the continuum of time. Takes a couple more ingredients - curiosity, knowledge and a fertile imagination, which you have. I feel happy inside with that continuum of time through inner reflection, and also when I'm camping or cycling in the countryside.
    No two people are alike. Some connect with the continuum of time through baseball and football and beer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fred Flintstone actually did wear a sundial watch in a couple of episodes and they sold a kid's toy tie-in version back then. When Fossil first introduced them for adults they cost $16.00 and now they go for around a $100. They have reintroduced them once since but they aren't nearly as cool as the first ones.

      I admire that you cycle and camp. I used to love camping and think cycling would be so good for you. Be careful though! Nine bikers got run over last week in a town near me. Five died, four badly injured.

      Delete
    2. That was on everybody's mind the last time we rode together. We feel safer in a group but... So sad what happened.

      Delete
    3. Even before he hit the bikers reports were coming in that he was driving weird on the road. Hundreds of bikers showed up for a memorial ride and ghost bikes mark the place it happened.

      Delete
  4. How the sundial watch work? Don't you have to have the same position? Latitude and longitude? Thankfully, now, I'm not too into time. I just keep my phone in my purse and push the button ...

    I'm thinking of getting back into bicycling ... but I'm concerned about tipping over and not being able to get back up. Guess what? They now make adult training wheels!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You point them to true north. If you look at the face in the photo at the top you'll see the N,W,S and E markings. If you happen to have a compass with you, they actually do tell the time fairly well. But they are really just statement watches..."Look at me, I'm running on vacation time."

      What kind of screen do you have on your phone that it shows up in bright sun?

      Delete
    2. No special screen ... it's just dark enough inside my purse that I can read it.

      Delete
    3. Ah, I will have to try that. Thanks.

      Delete
  5. I'd never heard of a sundial watch either.

    My dad was like your bus tour coordinator - he once left mum behind at home when she wasn't ready for an important dinner. We got into the habit of getting ready and waiting outside the house when we had to go out!

    How did your bone scan go? I've got osteopenia - also beginning to get a hump from huddling over the computer (note o self: reduce your computer time!) - and not looking forward to getting my next scan. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
  6. Addendum: my comment makes out my dad as a bad guy - he wasn't. He is a man of his word, honourable, punctual and hates to be late for appointments. Mum is a loving mother and well, between caring for a sick child and getting ready for dinner: the former won easily. I lucked out in my parents. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Couples always find a way to work things out like your mom and dad. Our tour guide is a wonderful woman who just happens to believe that no one in a large group has the right to hold up the others who make an effort to be on time. I told her once if I'm ever late it's because I'm died.

      I won't know the results of the bone scans until later this month. Doctor doesn't ready them on the spot. I'm hopeful. I'm doing the infusions now after two years of daily shots. I have the hump started too and that's one thing I ant to talk to him about.

      Sundial watches are the direct opposite of the techie watches with all the gadgets and info reading stuff on them. They don't do anything but make people laugh.

      Delete
    2. P.S. Libby, I once left my husband behind when he wasn't ready on time. LOL

      Delete
  7. I love low-tech solutions and am charmed by the sundial watch.
    Not surprisingly, I also prefer the two-lane back road routes to the highways if I'm only traveling 50 miles or less. (Of course, that's an easy choice to make in a state that only has two highways!) -Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We traveled extensively in Maine one year, looking for moose and every where we'd people would say, "You should have been here yesterday or a few hours ago." LOL We never so much as saw a squirrel there but had a good time. The people were great and lots of back roads to explore.

      Delete
  8. It's fun to learn where/when/why things originated. I agree about paying attention to nature. Our family is pretty in tune with it. My father and brother worked on, in or around the water throughout their lives. When livelihood and life are dependent on being observant, you tend to keep you head up and your ears tuned in.

    Your sundial watch sounds like a talisman that you can strap on when you want to leave the real world behind in pursuit of something different. I suppose it could get you in the mood, much like hearing the music at the beginning of an old and favorite movie. When you strap it on, your spirit probably knows you're in for some fun or adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Exactly like a talisman. Both Don and I grew up changing our clothes when we got home from school to put old ones---me so I could go play and him so he could go work on the family. Certain rituals set a mood.

    I'll bet there are some interesting stories about working on the water you could tell about your family. I think we (or maybe just me) tend to romanticize your family's professions because they are still bring people close to the earth.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I never knew there existed a Sun Dial watch! And, it's waterproof!!! I am very in tune with nature. Probably from growing up on a farm? I watch the clouds and can tell when a storm is coming in or going around us. I still tell time by where the sun is in the sky, DST really screws that up however. When the barometer falls I get kind of fuzzy headed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyone who really needs to know what time it is wouldn't depend on a sundial watch. LOL I do believe that farmers can tell time and weather by observing nature. We probably all could in past centuries.

      Delete
  11. Recently I have been thinking about buying myself a watch. I don't wear a watch and haven't for most of my life. I don't like it on my wrist. But I have been relying on the time on my cellphone and as you pointed out, it is hard to see in the sun. I have had the problem enough times that I have thought about buying a watch. I have also noticed that there aren't a lot of clocks around in stores and on buildings.
    And I think I better get a watch with hands before they become extinct. I was at a lecture a few months ago about the common core curriculum and the teachers mentioned that they no longer teach conventional time telling to elementary children as they all read digital time!
    Regards,
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right about not being able to buy a watch in few years, at least a traditional one without a digital screen and they can't been read in the sun.

      It's hard to believe that kids actually understand the passing of time if they don't learn on a regular clock. (What's a quarter of an hour?) I'll bet one day they won't even have to learn math because their cell phones can do it all. Cursive is already off the curriculum in a lot of places. Who would have ever guessed the stuff we struggled to learn could become obsolete!

      Delete
  12. I love sundials in gardens. They made me more aware of the relationship between the various components of nature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've lust after a garden sundial for years. I hope you have one.

      Delete
  13. The Greeks had two words for time. Chronos we know through chronology, or chronometer -- our traditional watches. Chronos is regular, measureable, tick-tock time. But their other word, kairos refers to event-filled time: a time out of time. Greeks would have used kairos for springtime, or for expressions like "when the time is right..."

    I've never heard of sundial watches, but I'll sometimes joke that I'm wearing my kairometer -- especially when I'm traveling or on vacation. The principle is the same, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting! I learn something new every day.

      Delete
  14. LOVE THIS: In our ordinary lives most of us will not make civilization-changing discoveries but when we slow up enough to observe nature we can connect with the continuum of time---past, present and future. We see it in the rocks and rivers, in the valleys and mountains, in the shadows cast by the sun and the moon, and in the way living creatures take care of their young in the spring and gather supplies for the winter. ©

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Sometimes when I write something like that I wonder if I'm not being too corny or sappy.

      Delete
    2. I think this sounds like a poem.

      I think my blogs are often too sappy. In real life I can have more of an edge, but for some reason my blogs take on a different voice. Sometime I may just write a blog from my rebel girl persona. LOL

      Delete
    3. When are you going to do a chapbook of your poems? I would give anything to have a talent for writing poetry.

      In 'real life' I wish I could edit my words and sentence structure as much as I do when I write. I sound dumber in person. LOL

      Delete