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, October 1, 2016

Architecture, Material Girls and the Travel Club



My Travel Club, this week, sponsored a lecture about World Architecture. It was fascinating and made me wish I was young again and that the world was still safe to roam around to see the wonders of the world. The slide show started off with the pyramids and ancients castles and worked its way through the great churches, cathedrals and other religious buildings up to modern day concoctions that you’d be hard pressed to decide if you were seeing a building or a giant pile of salvage metal discarded alongside a highway. The cutie pie who did the lecture was probably in his late thirties and he worked for a company that designs public buildings all over the world, including a hospital in Egypt. Interesting side note: One wall in each patient room had to have an angled wall that pointed toward Mecca so they’d always know which way to face during prayers.

I was smitten with the lecturer’s confidence, his world-traveler experiences and his knowledge-base of a field of study I have taken a deep interest in since before my teens. Computers and 3-D printers have taken over many aspects of the field, giving rise to new ways of working. In the past, architects always worked from the inside out. Now, they can draw weird or wonderfully shaped buildings and design from the outside in. He also gave an example of how computers have expanded design options: a mall walkway roof made entirely out of glass---millions of pieces, no two alike, and a computer figured out all the shapes and sizes then cut them and barcoded each one as they were automatically produced so a human could install them in the right order. New materials and technology have always pushed architects to explore their possibilities.

The lecture bought two other interesting things into my day. 1) I got there ten minutes early and had a great conversation with another widow, nine years out. She’s in my new book club and it was the first time she’d been to my travel club. That’s been happening a lot lately---I’ll see someone in several places that I’m just getting to know. And 2) After having a small etching plate print haunt me for nearly 50 years, I finally found out what it was. One of the slides the architect showed was of the same structure and it turned out to be the “Arche De Triumphal” also called a victory arch---this one in Paris. They were first built by the Ancient Romans to commemorate someone conquering something and the tradition continued to where they’re all over Europe. I sold my print last summer and regretted it almost immediately. 

Yes, I am a Material Girl and I struggle with changing that aspect of my personality, not really sure I want to do it because I’m not dead yet and I still enjoy my stuff. If you remember Ms. Poetry from another blog entry (A Walk in the Woods) each morning on her Facebook page she has something from a site called ‘Becoming a Minimalist.’ We lived near a minimalist once; he borrowed everything from his neighbors so he and his wife didn’t have to buy or keep the tools it takes to maintain a house yet they bragged about how they’d simplified their lives. Great, learn to rent a floor scrubber or wet/dry shop vac instead of putting extra wear on your neighbor’s. 

Today’s message from The Minimalist site was: “Your life is too valuable to waste it chasing possessions.” How is it a waste if you enjoy the chase? Half my husband’s life was based on hunting old and obsolete things. Someone has to chase things like every Thomas Edison or Roy Rogers thingamabob ever invented otherwise they’d never end up in museums a 100 years later. I’ve already done two major downsizings in my recent history, and half my current frustrations come from feeling guilty for not doing more downsizing so my family doesn’t have to do it when I die. The other half of my frustrations come from being resentful that one day I might have to live in a couple of sterile rooms with no character or conversation pieces. I am fascinated by people who want to join the ‘tiny living’ movement but please don’t tell me I’ve wasted my life because I don’t want to live in 200 square feet with just two coffee cups and an iPad.

The day after the lecture I might as well have been a mushroom growing in a dark cave. My job list required dry weather and it rained and I didn’t have enough common sense to write a new one. I didn’t accomplish anything except writing a check for my snow removal service for this coming winter and taking a call about my upcoming bone infusion. Maybe I was just resting up for next twenty-five days when I have nineteen appointments/events on my day planner. I enjoy fall, long job lists always come with the season. ©


NOTE: The photo at the top of is Park Guell, a public park in Barcelona designed by Antonio Gaudi, a famous architect known for his colorful and playful designs, circa 1900. I could not live with that much color in my life but it would be fun to visit.

18 comments:

  1. The 3D computer design/printout with an individual barcode on each piece sounds amazing - like something out of Harry Potter, in fact.

    I'm glad I travelled when young. Now feel I'm past it and happy to view monuments on a iPad, sitting in my armchair. I would like to travel still but more to stay at a place and lookabout and feel the atmosphere, as opposed to checking of a list of Must-sees.

    After years of being a hoarder, I'm veering towards minimalist - but defn not on the back of neighbours' appliances!

    We've also been having lots of rain, and looking forward to a sunshiny day when (we're in Spring) the effects of the rain will be vividly visible in lush grass and flowering bulbs. The weather is *not* inducive to housekeeping - or so I tell myself - and more to web surfing, or reading. ~ Libby

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    1. I have read about who 3D printers work several times but it still seems like magic. I just can't wrap my brain around it.

      The thing about traveling you can't get on a screen is the smell and sound of places. I wish you could. I'd like to smell the mountains and oceans again but I'm contented, too, with travelogs instead of actual travel.

      I think for young people starting out being a minimalist is kind of cool (minus the take advantage of neighbors part for the extremists) but it's hard to change life-long attachments to the memories that come with so many of the 'things' in my life. 15 years ago I downsized from two houses and a 100 foot poll barn with two auctions. And then again when my husband died I auctioned off and sold a major collection of his. I have more downsizing to do but I'll never be a minimalist. I get tired of letting go of my past and I've been on a break. Next spring I'll probably start in again downsizing.

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  2. I wish I was young again, too! Can you imagine seeing all those fantastic places and taking our own pictures? We get to see them second hand and sometimes that makes me sad, but it is nice to see them nonetheless.
    I would like to be a minimalist, sigh, I simply have too much 'stuff.' Isn't it just the way though? Sell something and you're sorry. Never fails. Sorry about the print.
    I don't guess I need to worry about downsizing to save work for my family. DH says he is going to put everything for sale (which means he'll give 95% of it away), and sell the house when I'm gone. I refuse to sort and price things for him to have money for some fancy vacation, and meanwhile not have the things to 'play' with until I die.

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    1. My niece travels to some great places and takes photos that she can send instantly from anywhere. That sure is amazing. My husband's camera was a foot long and it took forever to get the prints back.

      Most of the things I've sold I don't miss but I have had to buy back a few things like hedge clippers that I sold when I thought I was going to buy a condo last summer. Funny, though, now that I know what my print was of I don't feel so bad about selling it. It was the mystery of it that I felt bad about letting go.

      The way widows and widowers dispose of stuff is always interesting but often sad as well. I've seen widows give away very valuable stuff when they could very well use the money they'd get from taking the time to research and sell it. Others hold on way too long. It's a balance we all have to find the balance that is right for us.

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  3. Fall is my most favorite season of the year. I always feel energized to prepare for winter. Everybody has to make their own decision about material things. I'm very happy with the choices I've made, not a minimalist and certainly not living in a 200 sq ft tiny house, but free of uneccessay clutter, debri, stuff, or whatever you want to call it.

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  4. You live in a condo, how much preparing is there to do for fall? LOL But I get why so many people like fall and all the color and crisp temperatures that comes with it. The only color in the universe I don't like is orange which is the basis of the fall color palette.

    The tiny house movement is big in your part of the world. At least that's the impression I get from HGTV. I love the watching people shop for those tiny houses.

    I'll bet my food pantry is less cluttered than yours. LOL

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    1. I enjoy fall even more because I don't have any jobs to do to prepare for winter. I can relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me and the colors are beautiful here. You are right, tiny houses are the rage here. I find them fascinating but have no desire to live in one myself. You are also right that no doubt your pantry is less cluttered than mine because I have a husband that keeps mine cluttered. I have a friend who kept asking how I did what we did. Finally I told her I wasn't going to talk to her anymore about downsizing because it was not in her DNA. I have a sister-in-law who's the same way. I don't care how much stuff they have. They seem to feel guilty that I downsized and they didn't. Give it up, downsizing is not for everyone. I have a relative in assisted living with her bell collection stacked in boxes in her room. She's not interested in displaying them, just knowing she still has them is enough for her.

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    2. We all have to find our comfort zone with downsizing. Isn't it funny that as we age so many of us feel guilty about not downsizing. It's not like it has to be a big burden on our heirs because they could make one phone call to dispose of it all with an auction service, estate sale service or donation.

      I've known people with curio cabinets in assisted living with their most prized mementos. I think that's nice and that's what I plan on doing.

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  5. We had a neighbor in MD who borrowed all the other neighbors' yard tools/machines, and on occasion, he returned them broken. It got so I didn't want to answer the door when he came knocking.

    In theory, I like the idea of minimalism, but I could never go that far. I do have spates where I get all religious and self-satisfied about boxing things up and taking them to the dump or Goodwill. I always feel better after doing that because I don't want the kids to have to go through so much stuff when we die. Do you remember that George Carlin routine about "stuff." It mocked consumerism and our penchant for more "stuff." You can find it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac

    For the most part, I do like my stuff... just not too much of it.

    Nice that you're running into acquaintances.

    I have to run now. I have the urge to throw something out. :)


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    1. I love George Carlin and I laughed out loud at your last sentence. From what I've seen of photos around your house, you have found a wonderful balance for your decor...much like my style with old and new blended.

      I'd like to be a minimalist in my cothes closet. I don't buy new stuff every year, hate shopping for clothing but I have trouble letting go of things. The idea of having fewer garments that all work together intrigues me but it seems like you'd be doing laundry all the time. And I'm sorry, but just changing accessories does not make something look enough different to fool anyone. If I one the lotto, I'd give it a shot though...start completely over again.

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  6. I, for one, LOVE being downsized. There's even room for more stuff to go!! I'm encouraging the kids to downsize the boys toys ... in preparation for birthday and Christmas.

    Having less clothing is interesting. When we went on our three week European trip, I did black and khaki. Every top went with every bottom. 2 skirts. 2 blazers. And several scarves. First and only time I wore everything at least once! On days where I just have half an hour before business dinner ... I'd add a little makeup, change my hair and add a scarf! I need to only have clothes that I wear ... and that fit my current size .... wishing ...

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    1. The minimalists wardrobe plan is like a vacation wardrobe but with only 10 pieces---1 pair of slacks, 2 jeans, 3 dresses, and 4 blouses. But you can add t-shirts, sweaters, outerwear, scarves, and special occasion clothes to expand it up to 25 pieces tops. If you lived in a tiny house, that's all the room you'd have for clothing but you'd be running to a laundromat all the time. Not sure I'd like that.

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  7. I LOVE fall....my favorite season and it always gets me thinking about "clutter busting" -- my own attempt at minimalist living. I've been doing some cleaning out and donating of "stuff" that is long overdue, but like you, I enjoy the things I treasure and don't want to get rid of items just to say I did. And I wouldn't want to live the "tiny house" life, which you characterize so amusingly!

    I once knew a guy who was so proud of not having a car -- not contributing to air polluting "emissions" and traffic problems. He called me for rides often, which put me out of my way to accommodate, thereby increasing my OWN emissions and traffic snarls. Self-righteousness is a self-delusional practice at times.

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    1. Minimalists do help the invironment but if they don't already, they need to also appreciate and thank their friends and neighbors who help them out. So many of the people featured on the tiny house shows on TV are parking they houses on land owned by someone else in their circle of influence.

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  8. William Morris, the English printer/bookbinder/designer, once said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." I took that as my guideline some years ago, and haven't looked back. Note that he leaves the control in our hands, too. No one else may think my birds' nests are beautiful, or my tumbleweed atop the bathroom linen storage, but I do. End of discussion!

    (There have been times when I've wondered whether the cat was useful or beautiful, but so far, she's managed to hang around.)

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    1. I'm a stone person. I have a lot of them in the house and I've been known to have birds nests with stone inside them. I would love your tumbleweed. We don't find them around here.

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  9. How did I miss this post? I visited Gaudi's park in Barcelona a few years ago. And his other architectural gems in the city. Magical! What vision and joie de vivre.

    I share your two frustrations exactly. I'm a material girl, too. Caught in a bind. I was taught not to be a spendthrift, and a spendthrift I became in order to populate my house with conversation pieces. Now I have too many conversations going on!

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    1. Wow, I can't believe you actually saw Gaudi's Park! Very cool experience, I'm sure.

      Art before food! Actually, a good piece of art is something you can usually live with for years. My favorite pieces are from the '70s and if I replaced them I'd have to step down to Hobby Lobby junk and no way will that happen. Downsizing is hard!

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