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, September 17, 2016

Mannequins, Movies and Mice



One of the ladies from The Gathering invited me to be her guest at a meeting of the local chapter of the American Sewing Guild. We’d been taking about needing inspiration and, she said, that was the place to get it. She wasn’t kidding. The ASG, according to their pamphlet, “was founded in 1978 for the purpose of preserving and promoting the sewing arts through sewing education and activities for sewing enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.” The night I went the speaker talked about the benefits of making your own duct tape mannequin. Yes, duct tape. I used to sew my own clothing starting back in high school and the two decades that followed---even took tailoring classes in college---but I never had my own mannequin. A google search will find tutorials and photos galore of duct tape mannequins. I never knew it was a popular trend! Oh my gosh, if I still sewed clothing for myself I would have signed up for one of the classes that, by the end of the day, would have you walking out with a duct tape version of your own body type---flaws and all. The speaker had a wonderful sense of humor and had us laughing frequently. 

After Mannequin Lady finished and snacks were serviced there was a show-and-tell which was also punctuated with laughter as women told the kind of stories all sewers can relate to---happy and sad accidents and one-of-a-kind treasures. One woman made a wonderful suit but discovered after making both pieces that the fabric dye lots for the top and bottom are noticeably different. She’d bought part of the fabric online and the other part locally and no way could she wear the two pieces together. It was clear there was a lot of talent and creativity in the room of fifty women and a few men. Some wore their show-and-tell and others did a “Vanda White” as they displayed an assortment of bags and purses, showing off techniques they’d learned at a recent retreat. One quilt top blew me away with its unusual color scheme and 1920s art deco vibe, a project started by a mother years ago and a daughter took on to finish.

As much fun as I had that night, I’m not sure if I’m going to join the guild. I was hoping there would be more handcrafts but that was probably my misunderstanding of the ASG and I’m thinking a quilters bee or knitters club would fit my area of crafting interests more at this point in my life. I can barely keep my computer, printer, and other tech stuff running without pulling my hair out, I can’t imagine adding the stress of keeping stitch tensions on a sewing machine operating smoothly. It also wouldn’t be as much fun to sew for my old woman, pudgy body as it was to make A-lines dresses to go with my go-go boots back in my clubbing days. But all the ladies at the guild were friendly and excited about what’s going on in their world and I could see my younger self in their enthusiasm. It was time well spent.

The next day the son-I-wish-had came over to work on the Mouse Project. For the last three winters I’ve had mice in the basement and I wanted to see if we could figure out how they’re getting in and plug up their entrance point. It won’t be too many more years before I’ll get too old to go downstairs every few days to bait them and it wouldn’t take long for them to breed their way upstairs. (I killed nine last winter.) I had a pretty good idea where to start looking and sure enough we found two places to block with a foam sealant by Great Stuff, PESTBLOCK, especially made to block yucky things including mice. We also replaced a twelve foot section of insulation where we found signs of nesting and vacuumed up the mice droppings so we can tell if they come back. I shouldn’t say “we” because he’ll have to check since I don’t do ladders and this area is at the top of the basement wall where it meets with my sun-porch. Next I’m getting some mothballs to throw under the porch. He swears by mothballs for keeping mice out of boats and cars in storage and Google confirmed it. I have latticework around the porch so no animals will get the mothballs, but they will melt if they get too wet. Worth a try anyway. If they last through the fall, the mice will have already found homes somewhere else before the snow flies.

Yesterday my Movie and Lunch Club saw the new Tom Hanks movie, Sully, which was about the 2009 water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 dubbed the ‘Miracle on the Hudson.’ The film focused mostly on the aftermath that was not made public at the time---the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation while Sully was being treated like a hero in public. The board was pushing the narrative that Sully needlessly endangered his 155 passengers and crew when he didn’t turn the plane back to the airport. Eventually, Sully was cleared of any wrong doing and a lot was riding on that decision: large insurance claims involving the airline and manufacturer, not to mention Sully’s pilot license and pension rights. We all walked out of the theater feeling good about our movie experience. It was an engaging story, well told. ©

23 comments:

  1. Oh my, I spent many hours of my young adult life at a sewing machine. Our daughter is an excellent seamstress. Neither one of us sew now. I could never get into quilting. I'm a knitter and have knit enough socks to last me a life time. That's good because I've lost my knitting mojo. Remains to be seen if it will return with cold weather. Bob never reads a book but we both read "Sully" because he grew up in Texas on property that joined Perrin AFB where Bob was stationed at one time. That's where Bob was stationed when we married.

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    1. I'll bet the majority of us in our age bracket sewed when we were young. Had to take it in high school and ready made clothing wasn't as plentiful.

      I don't knit in the summer months either, but I'm starting to look for a winter project. Last year it was toddler sweaters and mittens, the year before baby car seat blankets. I've never made socks.They sound boring to make. LOL

      The Sully movies was, of course, based on the book. Tom Hanks did an excellent job playing him.

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  2. I am sewing challenged. I had classes in high school and have taken project-based classes over the years and some turned out great. I admire you guys who are so talented!!

    Thanks for another great blog! Your life is full of NEW stuff!

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    1. I do better when I'm exposed to new ideas to think about. When I was younger I had to try everything but now I'm content just to look and admire.

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  3. I used to love to sew. Yeah, Home Ec - sewing was a requirement. I wonder if schools still teach all that, the place settings, manners, how to write an invitation, besides cooking and sewing. First I made my clothes, then my kid's clothes, and then DH wanted work pants with 'tool' pockets in them. They were pretty popular, everybody wanted a pair - I told them NO Way! Lots of extra fussing. I did the quilt thing too. I did knit and crochet, a lot more than I should have.
    I think maybe a mouse is back. I heard the dog food bag rustle when no one was in the kitchen. Grabbed the bag shut in a hurry and took it outside on the porch, opened the bag and went back into the house. I'm sure he was scared silly! He was gone later on when I checked. Have set the trap again.
    I have heard several people say they liked the movie "Sully." Guess I will see it when it comes on TV. I like Tom Hanks too.

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    1. I doubt school teach Home Ec classes these days but I don't know for sure. Classes you pay for are all over the place, though, and popular.

      I have an airtight container that closes to put Levi's dog food in because it has to sit in the garage. It's clear plastic so if a critter were to get into I'd see it. So glad you heard your mouse. I don't wear my earring aids and I wouldn't have.

      Sully would be good on TV. It's not something that is not enhanced by a big screen experience.

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  4. A wonderful information-packed post, and excellent title!

    China's affordable and good quality clothing has spoilt home sewing for me - just not worth it any longer! Plus lost the mojo for it with my increasingly poor eyesight.

    I have a possum in the garage. It seems to be spending some days elsewhere (I couldn't figure out the reason, but now think it could be because there's a dog in the neighbour's backyard some days?). Also have mice in the roof - apparently most houses have them, as evidenced by their droppings - and I've thrown, through the roof manhole - both poison, and moth ballast intervals. Just checked out Pestblock but doesn't seem to be available here.

    I didn't know that pilot had been investigated - only remember him being feted as a hero. ~ Libby




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    1. I'm guessing the "Great Stuff Pestblock" is just an ordinary foam sealant with a special name. I have never heard of "roof manholes!" At first I thought it was something unique to your part of the world but I found some on Google, so apparently not. I still don't understand their purpose. Interesting!

      I didn't know about the investigation either, but I guess it shouldn't have surprised me. All crashes and forced landings are investigated. I was also surprise had how many people are a part of that board.

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  5. Whenever I go to a craft meeting, I am amazed by the talent and creativity. I had sewing in Junior High School and I remember us bringing in our blue jeans to taper the legs! I think we had to make a dress or two. I'm sure I had to bring it home for my mother to fix it!! I do quilt but I do what seems to be termed thread sketching on fabric which is very mindless in a pleasant way!!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I just googled 'thread sketching on fabric' and discovered I used to do it back in the early '60s! I called it free form embroidery and I incorporated old jewelry parts in it. I should try it again! That looks like fun and faster than quilting. Thanks for sharing that!

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  6. I used to sew a lot--my clothes the girls clothes, on and on. Now when I sit down at the sewing machine, just to make a simple pillow top, I get so nervous! It's weird. I'll stick to knitting, crocheting and x-stitching. At least I have confidence I can still do those things correctly.

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    1. My biggest issue with trying to sew clothing again is that I just don't need a lot of clothing anymore and to try make stuff for the newest generation in the family won't work because I don't see them enough to know sizes and color choices, etc.

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  7. The sewing machine in its 1970's cabinet is the one piece of furniture that doesn't fit any room decor-wise. Right now it's in eyesore limbo in my hallway. Sewing was a huge part of my coming-of-flower-child-age. For the past forty years I've only used it for curtains, pillows and torn seams. About duct tape mannequins... nothing would motivate me to lose weight and exercise more than making one of my own body.

    There's no end of the spirited group interests you unearth! I sense you really want to sink your teeth into something creative, with a show and tell component. I can't imagine life without show and tell! We readers don't hug or wink or giggle over inside jokes (though if you had an open house, you'd find we do.) I know it bothered me enough, when I stopped pining for those hugs, winks and inside jokes I wasn't getting enough of, to trudge inside myself to see why. But you are as sane and funny as they come, so it's simply a matter of time before your hobby and social cylinders are firing.

    Nine is far too many mice, and think of how many skittered past the traps. Kudos to you and your helper to do that dirty work. I've six traps in my basement. I usually forget to check until I smell something. I'm convinced these little mice are not idiots. You see one tail poking out the end of one, you're not about to sneak into the next one to get the cheese. Let us know if your efforts pay off in fewer mice, OK?

    I've heard about mothballs, but haven't wanted that horrid smell seeping into my living quarters. Keeping my fingers crossed that the two large sonic devices will suffice for the RV, but I will put mothballs under the sink the minute I see the black poop. ...Hah! You've given me an idea - put a pan full of mothballs UNDER the RV. Off to the store!

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    1. I just bought the mothballs and they came in mess bags so they'd be easy to pick up out of your motor home again in the spring, and a day's airing would get rid of the smell...don't you think? Not sure.

      My sewing machine and table is taking up an entire closet. In theory I could sit down and use it. I do love the show-and-tell aspect of the group I visited. And I've done a lot of thinking about whether or not I want to get back into sewing again. For me the bottom line is probably the same thing I learned about myself when I went back to college in the 80s and professor told me that I enjoy the PROCESS of learn and am not motivated by the final process. So maybe I need to change my language from 'searching' to 'discovering' for new things. I guess blogging about my discoveries IS my show and tell. Thanks for that thought! I love it.

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    2. I just bought some mothballs on amazon, in 4 oz. boxes. I'll see if putting them underneath the RV works. Might just chase them straight into my house.

      Discoveries. Yes. Your excitement when you write is palpable.

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    3. I have the same fear about putting the mothballs in the wrong place, like a highway pointing them where I don't want them to be. LOL

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  8. I still can see, in lurid detail, the full skirt gathered onto a waistband that I made in 8th grade home ec. It had chickens marching around it as a border print. Lordy, I hated that thing. I wore it exactly once, for the class "fashion show," and that was that.

    If you decide to give knitting another go, there are wonderful websites out there. One of my readers has a second blog devoted to patterns and techniques and etc. She's really good, and has the ability to make things understandable -- or so it seems to me. I'll drop her link here, for your future reference, if you're interested. She has links to other good sites, too -- like Ravelry.

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    1. Thanks for the link! I'll check it out. One of my readers---Judy---test patterns for a website. It's amazing how women have meshed old fashion hobbies into modern tech stuff to share with one another.

      I have knitted all my life and quite a bit in the last few years with all the new babies in the family. But I'd like to try out one of the groups in the area. I think I need that show and tell.

      You had chickens, I had poodles in my home ec. project. I love mine, though. It had a circle skirt, not gathered at the waist. I remember making an apron with a gathered waistband for my first project.I don't think anyone likes their first project in sewing.

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    2. Wow, Ravelry is one huge show and tell. Love it!

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  9. If I had gone to your ASG program, I probably would have joined on the spot. Sewing my own clothes again is one of my intentions for retirement -- although right now I'm about 2 years behind schedule in getting my old study converted into a sewing room. Alas, no ASG chapters in my area (the nearest is Boston, about 3 hours away). -Jean

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    1. The ASG meets less than five minutes from my house and I thought about you when I was at the meeting. You would have loved it. Just trying to guess which clothing that ladies were wearing were custom made or store-bought was fun. Lots of artistry walking around. I wonder what it would take to start a local chapter? Some of the women worked in fabric and craft shops, some were seamstresses who altered clothing as a business but most just seemed to lov to sew. In addition to the monthly big meeting they have smaller groups around town where they take their sewing machines and sew together, help each other. The national sponsors retreats, too, where they can take classes.

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  10. I want to see Sully. I thought he handled himself well publicly during the aftermath. I'm always impressed with private people who are thrust into the public eye and handle themselves well. I can't imagine how I would fare. I remember, in a funny moment, he admitted that he'd been "getting lucky" with his wife more often after all the attention and his newly found "hero status."

    I heard that mothballs keep lizards away, too, but I looked it up, and it's a myth. Shucks. It's always nice to find something that works for these type of pests that is not toxic.

    I sewed a little when I was younger, but I never liked using a sewing machine. I like handwork better. I always enjoyed crocheting and cross stitch. I'm not sure the old eyes would allow that kind of work anymore.

    "to breed their way upstairs" YUCK!

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    1. That's a funny line from Sully. It wasn't in the movie but I know you'd love it.

      Sitting in one room behind a sewing machine is not something I want to do anymore either. I tried cross stitch but like knitting better. So much to do, so little time for crafting we have to choose.

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