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 19, 2016

Another Past, Present and WTF?



This week I went to the monthly Gathering at the senior hall (for people looking for friends) and it was probably the most interesting one yet. It was a big group of roughly twenty-five people---about half were brand new to the group. We were asked to go around the room and answer three questions on a prompt card: What are we thankful for, what are we not so thankful for and tell about a holiday dish that is a tradition in our family. A man revealed his wife died two months ago, another woman revealed her cancer had returned and one woman pushed the prompt card to the next person and tearfully said, “I can’t do this!” But mostly we smiled at the gratitude list we were building, gave sympathy or encouragement when appropriate and laughed at some of the family traditions.

I answered those questions that I was grateful to have relatively good health, not grateful that winter is coming and for a tradition I told about my habit of adding comedic relief when it comes to bringing food to family gathering---especially when we’d go to my husband’s family parties where everyone was an accomplished, amateur chef. I’ve never cooked much or liked the process---we ate out a lot---but I have this theory that the best time to try new recipes is when there will be a lot of food at a potluck because no one will go hungry if my dish failed. For example, once I made a red beets and potato salad dish that looked so pretty in the picture, but it didn’t say not to make it ahead. When it got served it had turned pink. Everyone at the party and at the Gathering got a big laugh over that.

Following me to answer the prompt card questions was a prime and proper religious woman who shocked everyone when she told a story about growing up near “Cow Shit Park.” In the silent beat that followed I pretended to write that down in my notebook and said, “Can I quote you on that?” which set off another round of laughter---if they only knew how close to the truth that came to pass. I always leave that group being upbeat and happy.

As I sit here writing this I should be getting ready to go my Movie and Lunch Club but I decided to email my regrets instead. Ya, I know I shouldn't be passing up on opportunities to be around people when a long, lonely winter is just days away and if the movie chosen had been more to my likely I would have pushed past my tiredness to go. A WWII movie about the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor sounded depressing. From a storytelling view, though, Hacksaw Ridge’s premise is good---the guy saved 75 men in battle without carrying or firing a gun---but I’m still too concerned about our president-elect blowing up the world to separate a historic war from the possibility of an apocalypse coming soon to a neighborhood by you and me. Hey, don’t judge my pessimism! If people could stockpile guns and ammo when Obama was elected, I can stockpile cans of tuna and bars of chocolate now.

I’ve been looking for a winter knitting project. The year before last I made car seat baby blankets until they were coming out of my ears. Last winter it was toddler sweaters and mittens. But things have changed since then; my senior hall is no longer holding a Christmas Craft Sale so mindless knitting things to give away doesn’t hold the same charm. Instead, I ordered wool fingering yarn from Peru and a pattern for a shawl. It’s called an architectural design and it will be challenging. I’ve never knitted on the bias before plus it’s been decades since I’ve used fingering yarn and the small needles required for that weigh yarn, so I expect this project to take me a long time. Last night it took me nearly two hours just to ball one of the two skeins of yarn! (I've been spoiled by American pull-skeins that require no balling.) It's been decades since I’ve had to do that and it reminded me of sitting at my mother’s knee with my arms stretched out holding the yarn as she rolled it into a ball. She could make anything---Scandinavian style patterns with lots of colors, sweaters heavy with cables and sweaters with cowboys, Indians, trees, cows, snowflakes, chickens and you name it in the designs. I still have a sweater she made for me when I was in high school. A picture of me wearing it made it to the front page of our local newspaper with the headline of, “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” I love the past and I’m starting to understand why some old people regress back there in their heads to live where the good times float to the surface and the bad times no longer exist. ©

Photo About: That's the shawl I'll be making and I bought a color just a touch lighter. I have a lot of turtlenecks in various colors that will look good with it. I hope. 

38 comments:

  1. I love your blog! It's my favorite probably because I was a widow in 2013 and you inspire me to accept and press on with life. I keep busy like you do, but do find it harder to make new and lasting friendships, as I moved recently, but fortunately I do know a couple of ladies. I knit some and love this shawl...way beyond my capabilities!

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    1. Thank you! I've made a few inroads in the friendship department lately BUT I don't expect to ever find deep friendship again. It is what it is and I am happy to keep busy instead.

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  2. That shawl is beautiful. I love the comfy, warm look of a shawl. I bought a lightweight shawl (on sale) at the end of last winter. I wore it yesterday for the first time and I love it. It was a perfect day for it weather-wize, low 60s. They cover up a world of sins, too. Hides everything. Ha! I used to crochet, but I never really learned to knit. I wish I had. There are so many patterns.

    Your "Gathering" sounds like a lot of fun. It's such a great idea.

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    1. I've never had a shawl in my life but they and ponchos are the big fashion rage right now so I thought I'd give it a shot. They may be out of fashion by the time I finish this one. It's got a lot of stitches I haven't done before, but I like a challenge so I'm up for it and with YouTube, you can learn anything.

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    2. My shawl is sort of a cross between a shall and a cape. I didn't realize I'd like it so much. I hope you will show us your shall when you finish it.

      You're right about YouTube. My son and D-I-L's washer stopped working. She's more adept at fixing mechanical things than my son. She took the whole thing apart and found a sock that was stopping something. I said, "How on earth did you know how to do that?" She said, "You can find anything on YouTube. Ha!

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    3. Isn't that something! She probably saved them a bunch of money.

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  3. “Cow Shit Park.” love it, love, love it. I felt bad for the lady that said, “I can’t do this!” I like your three statements. My statements would have been 1. the fact that god gave a life when I was near death at 27 years old.2. not thank for my pain in my back and right leg. ( It's worse at time but what the hell, I'm still living ) 3.and the traditional dinner would have to be the Italian Wedding Soup that we make together. She makes the soup and I eat it. Ha,ha,ha. ( I make the little tiny meatballs for the soup. What a pain to make but everyone loves them in the soup )
    As for as Trump, I worry about him also. Some of my American friends voted for Trump while others voted for Hillary so I have to be careful of what I say. I have to remember that I'm Canadian and what I say doesn't really mean a thing.
    I'm happy that you are my friend Jean. Enjoy life my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

    P.S. If you would give me you address I would love to send you one of special Christmas cards that I create to some of my very special friends. I send one to Bee from Florida and Big Ed in Allen Park, Michigan. I would love to add you to my list.See ya.

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    1. Your making Italian Wedding Soup reminded me of my very Italian dad making an anchovy concoction on the stove. God awful smelling stuff that few people would eat. It was the only thing he ever cooked until after my mom died.

      That is sweet of you, Paul, to want to send me a card but I can't think of a way to give you my address that won't also give it to the entire world and I won't do that.

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  4. I laughed at your beet and potato salad even before I got to the end of the tale. I tried that once myself, and got the same result. Later, someone told me her trick: to wash the beets and drain them before adding them, so the juice doesn't leech into everything. That moved the recipe into the "too much trouble" category, in a flash.

    My mother was an accomplished knitter, too, and I used to hold the yard for her just as you did. I never followed in her footsteps, though. She tried, but I never got beyond casting on. I loved the things she made for me, but I was happier with my nose in a book. Eventually, I followed her into needlepoint, and enjoyed that. I don't do it any more, but I do have a couple of boxes of supplies and some canvas in the closet, just in case the urge hits.

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    1. You're the only person I ever ran into that tried to make beet and potato salad! I'm glad to know there is a trick but like you'll I'll never do it again.

      I think---but am not sure---I tried needlepoint once. If I did, I didn't like it much. LOL

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    2. I just love the shawl! Great color choice as it's very neutral. I can't wait to see a photo when you finish it. I would love to learn to knit. I crochet but never learned to knit. I so enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them.

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    3. I'm just the opposite, Denise. I can't crochet---even took lessons---but knitting I've been doing since my early teens.

      Thank you, sometimes I wonder why I'm still writing online and then someone like you comes along and reminds that it's worth it.

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  5. Jean, I understand. No problem See ya soon my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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  6. You do have some interesting people at your monthly gathering. I've never seen, nor had the chance to try that beet and potato salad. I'll bet it's good.
    Think I would have passed on that movie, too. It sounds like one of those 'expand your mind' movies. I would rather be entertained or distracted, this late in life. (Yep, back to childhood)
    That shawl looks lovely, I often wish I could knit and crochet again. I could use a shawl like that. A body gets chilled when it doesn't move much. Knitted patterns are so lovely and were one of my favorite things to do. Have fun!

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    1. I think you're right about the movie being a "expand your mind" because the reviews said the first half was about the guy's life before the battle and the second half after.

      I've always associated shawls with old ladies, but they seem to be in high fashion right now. This pattern has a "row instruction" for every single row and it's 8 pages long.

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  7. Was the trump topic off limits at the gathering? Or did no one bring it up? I am curious because I find that almost everyone I know feels a need to talk but no one is quite sure what to do. We had Arlo Guthrie in town on Wednesday and the concert hall was packed. He gave a very good concert but he never went anywhere near politics. From talking with people afterwards and sensing the mood in the audience, people were disappointed that he didn't acknowledge the situation in the country. He always was political and we expected him to be. Not only were people surprised, but people want some affirmation that their feelings are real and he would have provided that to some degree. And I can acknowledge that he might not have wanted to go in that direction for his own reasons. When people are lost, there is so much they are willing to grab onto.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. There are no topics off limits at the senior hall but rarely are they brought up down there. After the formal Gathering and some of went out for coffee we did talk about it, shock mostly for everyone who did speak up which was 5 of the 7 of us.

      Ario Guthrie! I would have loved to hear that concert! Given how political he was I would have expected him to acknowledge the election too. But I respect that maybe he had his own reasons not to. Sometimes it takes time to process feelings enough so you can write about them.

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  8. Sounds like the Gathering group is going well. Like you I'm not in the mood for a serious or dark movie at the moment. The shawl pattern is beautiful and I suspect you'll enjoy the challenge. I knit with nothing but fingering yarn on size #1 needles. I suffer from benign tremors and can no longer use larger yarns and needles. It's weird, I know. I knit only socks and plain socks at that. It's soothing to me while I listen to books.

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    1. Knitting plain socks is rare in this day and age. I'm impressed that you can use size #1 needles. #3 is the smallest I've ever used...much prefer #7 or #8's.

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    2. I have benign tremors too and can only knit with larger yarns and needles. Weird--the difference, Eh?

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  9. Your Senior Hall director really knows how to organize the fun for this monthly event. Starts the talking and laughing right away.

    You amaze me with all of your creative talent ... painting, knitting, writing. I must have the other side of the brain.

    Nostalgic memories are perfect for this time of year, I think. Holidays and family. A little forlorn for the widows/widowers among us, but we will muddle through.

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    1. I could never decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. I've even tried building furniture and wood carving. I like to work with my hands. I spend an entire semester in college carving marble.

      Thanksgiving is a hard time for widows, isn't it. Even if we have some where to go.

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    2. I usually have to organize holiday get togethers and now I make it potluck so I don't have to do it all. I'm cooking the turkey, dressing and gravy. Cleaning house, setting table and making it all look effortless ...

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    3. Can you believe, I've never cooked a whole turkey in my life!

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  10. The shawl is most elegant, and looks complicated to knit. I have an Aunt who, like your Mom, could knit beautifully. She likes keeping busy and the knitting distracts her mind.

    I think life is a circle (rather than linear) and the end (old age) approaches the beginning (childhood) so no surprise to regressing to childhood days. ~ Libby

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    1. I was sitting in front of YouTube videos last night teaching myself some of the stitches needed for the shawl. It is going to be a major distraction, but a welcome one.

      I just wish I had a better memory of my childhood.

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  11. Jean :

    O thought I knew u lot since I know u for more than 12 years, but you keep on surprising me with amount of artistic things you love to do paunting, knitting writing & list goes on, gives me complex lol I feel I m more like guy than women my interests r more into finance than any artistic thing. maybe because my right brain is damaged but I know prestroke also I was never interested in artistic things.

    Asha

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    1. There really is something to that right brain, left brain thing, isn't there. I've never liked doing practical things like cooking and dealing with finance, so you've got those over me. And those are better skills to have.

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  12. As a new reader, am enjoying your blog alot. I know from experience that staying busy is the key and yet keeping in mind that the choice is yours. Volunteering has been the
    answer for me. Looking forward to see the shawl as you work on it.

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    1. Thank you for chiming in. I'm always happy when someone new to my blog does that!

      I tried the volunteering thing, too. Stuck with it a year but it wasn't a good fit for me since my goal was to make friends and everyone at the small town museum had known each other for literally 40 to 50 years. Nice people but I would always be the outsider. I'm glad it is the answer for you.

      I may never get the shawl finished. Tonight I ripped out the inch I did last night and am starting over again. I'm not worried I can't learn to knit on a bias, I'm just a perfectionist.

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  13. I love your gathering; it sounds like fun but also like a place where people are willing to take off the "happy" mask and be real with each other too.

    I immediately thought the beets would turn everything pink. I can't go near a beet without spilling the red juice on me somewhere.

    I've taken a hiatus from my crocheting. Got tired of it, but may go back to it these long winter nights. The program I donate my baby blankets too never runs out of need for them. Your shawl looks beautiful. I remember holding the yarn for my grandma like you describe.

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    1. The facilitator of the group really knows her stuff...from have great tools to get people talking to knowing how to gently move things along if one person gets too long winded.It's quite interesting to watch.

      I like baked beets but I have the same trouble with them as you do, so I don't buy them often.

      I was surprised when this yarn came in that old fashioned skeins. But I don't often buy the higher priced wool either so it might be more common than I know.

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  14. The shawl is gorgeous! I started a cowl sort of thing in which every row was different. It is 1/4 done and sitting in the basket. I am finding crochet and cross stitch more to my liking right now.

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    1. Crafters like to mix it up from time to time or we get bored.

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  15. OOh, that shawl looks complicated. Not a knit-while-you-watch-TV project. Good luck! There's a new knitting group starting up here tomorrow. If I have the nerve to show up, I will bring knitting needles, yarn and questions. I've not even checked out a YouTube tutorial for how to cast on. First project I'll tackle - a scarf that doesn't require following directions, that I can knit while watching TV.

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    1. That's a perfect project for a beginner and/or for doing in front of a TV. The shawl is definitely complicated but I'm making progress and liking the challenge. Good luck with your class. If you get lost you cand find anything on YouTube.

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  16. That shawl is gorgeous! I envy your ability to knit. It's a skill I tried to learn many times, but my efforts always looked pathetic. -Jean

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    1. Keeping the tension is what most people mess up and that takes a little practice at first. I'll bet your efforts weren't nearly as bad as you thought.

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