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, December 17, 2016

From Dogs and X-cons to Light Bulbs




The day after a city has dug itself out after a snowstorm and a bright sun has turned the white landscape into sparkling crystals you can’t help smiling. All the postponed errands and canceled appointments go back on the table, we’re out and about and happy about that. Yesterday I dropped Levi off at the Canine Foo-Foo Beauty Parlor, then I took myself out for a western omelet with an English muffin and orange marmalade. I ask for a takeout box right away and put half the omelet inside before I’ve had my first bite. Out of sight, out of mind because old habits die hard---if it stayed on the plate I’d keep eating beyond what it takes to satisfy my hunger. My check came to just under ten dollars and I left a three dollar tip. It doesn’t matter if the check comes to six or sixteen dollars, I leave the same three dollars. Basing a tip on how much you eat seems stupid to me. The waitress comes to the table the same number of times to take and deliver an order, to refill coffee and leave the check. Once in a while I’ll add a fourth dollar if I’m sitting next to someone from the Lunch and Movie Club who just leaves a dollar behind for the waitress to split with her busboy.

My favorite place to have omelets always has a couple of heavily tattoo busboys and/or cooks. Arms, hands, necks and faces tattooed everywhere. It’s a local, three restaurant chain and I've been going to the chain for over thirty-five years. My husband and I suspected that they hire right out of an x-prisoners-needing-jobs catalog. Years ago it was the only place that was open all night long and we’d go there to get our coffee thermos filled during the night or to get breakfast at dawn when our lots were all plowed. The place was just down the street from the police station and the officers were doing the same thing so it didn’t take long to get over the fear of being around scary looking, inked-up guys who knew how to cook and clear tables but seemed not to know how to talk to customers. They remind me of a line from Shawshank Redemption when a newly paroled guy was bagging groceries and asked, “Permission to piss, boss” and the grocer replied that he doesn’t have to ask to use the bathroom and the x-con thinks but doesn’t say out loud, Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can't squeeze a drop without say-so.

I have no discipline what so ever today. Here it is 1:00 in the afternoon and I still haven’t had breakfast or gotten dressed. But my keyboard is hot from being on the computer since nine this morning. Don’t get alarmed. My not getting dressed isn’t an old-lady-loses-interest-in-life thing. I come from a long line of bathrobe dwellers. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I did manage to feed the dog and give him fresh water. Levi's too mouthy for me to ignore in the morning. Thanks goodness for that or he’d look like one of those malnourished dogs in a Humane Society ad campaign to get donations.

John Grogan, author of Marley and Me wrote near the end of the book: “A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things---a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” 

Clearly, Levi has taught me many of the same things but he’s also taught me that barking in front of the cupboard where I keep his Milk-Bone Trail Mix is as annoying as a kid beating on a drum. He’s taught me that barking at cats, rabbits and other dogs all require a different pitch of intensity and that when someone comes to the front door it requires a combination of excited yipping  and tail chasing. Even if a tattooed x-con came was standing on the other side of the glass, Levi would happily welcome him or her into his circle of people to judge by their actions and not their looks.

The day I dropped Levi off at the groomers I still had a couple of hours to kill before I could pick him back up again, so after my omelet I went to Lowe’s in search of a full spectrum light bulb. They say they are good for wintertime depression and since I’ve been doing a couple of hours of knitting every evening, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone…err with one light bulb. While looked up and down the row of bulbs I ran into something called a C-Sleep light bulb. They are Bluetooth enabled to work with an app on your phone that helps you change the bulb between three settings, one of which is supposed to set you up for a sleep cycle before bedtime. I didn’t buy one but I went home thinking that the world is getting too complicated. Can you imagine spending forty years in prison and coming out to all the new devices and app tricks we have now? Heck, I’m still bummed out that we can’t get telephone directories with white and yellow page sections anymore. ©

Photo Above: That's Levi after having fun digging in the snow.

28 comments:

  1. Poor Levi. Do they trim his feet or do you have him wear booties? He looks as if he was moving all that snow with his nose. LOL. Cute pic.
    Unless they snarl at me, guys with tattoos have never bothered me, and BTW, I really never had one snarl at me ...
    Good idea to box up half your meal - they serve way to much!

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    1. I can't even get Levi to wear a sweater, I can't imagine putting boots on him. He gets trimmed everywhere and his legs are taken up a little shorter in the winter months because of the snow. Otherwise he'd never dry out. He loves to tunnel in the snow.

      There are tattoos and then there are prison tattoos. These guys don't bother me, either. But I really don't like tattoos on anyone.

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  2. Great post! We don't have tipping (Oz has a fair minimum wage). I'd been thinking of asking your readers re tipping, especially at hotels for the cleaning staff. Google advised leaving $1 or 2 per guest, per night on the dresser - does that sound right?

    The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favourite films.

    I'm guessing most of us are from that generation that were taught not to waste/leave food. I also put aside food that I know will be too much for me. I hate that over-full feeling.

    I don't have a pet, but can relate to the lessons learnt from a dog. I'm reminded of that song about the travelling cowboy and his pack of cards being his almanac. I have a few magpies that swoop around in the yard, and always seem to be hungry. They've swooped me - right under the covered porch - when they've caught me eating outside in the winter sun, so I've stopped doing that. I throw them tidbits and find it amusing how fussy they can be at times turning up their beaks if its not to their taste. They'll also come if I'm raking leaves/digging - for slugs? - and I keep a wary eye on them as I hate to be swooped. I'll say "Hi Maggie" and they'll cock a beady eye at me, and strut closer to rummage amongst the raked leaves. They're apparently very smart and recognise humans.

    During renovations, I was taken aback at the CHOICES. In everything from light bulbs, kitchen/bathroom hardware, etc etc. And they keep on making things more complicated!!! My less than 3-year old new expensive toilet started to leak - apparently it couldn't cope with the mains water pressure. I never had an issue with the old toilet which was abs fine after over 20 years sterling service. I was not impressed. The plumber (The Plumbing Pope!!) said they've over-engineered them - he couldn't use a generic washer for its dainty innards. He had to order an entire inner piece from which he removed the small washer required, discarding the rest. And so are the Days of My Life. ~ Libby

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    1. I haven't got a clue about hotel room tipping. Maybe someone will come along to weigh in for your.

      Shawshank Redemption is on my list of top 10 movies. I watch anytime it's on plus I own a copy.

      Wow, that's interesting about the magpies. Don't have them around here. I feed the birds but the swooping would be creepy.

      Here, it's hard not to buy toilet parts without buying them in a kit.



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  3. I'm not one to rant, but that app-controlled light bulb nearly set me off. Never mind why -- if I told you, I'd be risking the same rant, and it's way too lovely here this morning for that.

    The photo of Levi is such fun. It reminds me of the days when tunnels of snow were part of life, and your mention of the sparkly way the light plays after a heavy snow, likewise.
    There used to be a woman from Yellow Knife, up in the Northwest Territories, who blogged about life up there. She'd post photos of her dogs out on their walks. Believe me, they wore booties, and were happy to do so. Of course, she lived on a houseboat that spent months frozen into the ice on the lake, so there's that.

    I'm sitting here with every window in the house wide open. The high today's going to be in the upper 70s, and the low tonight is going to be in the lower 30s. Hello, winter!

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    1. If I lived where Levi had to walk on salted sidewalks, the battle for boots would be worth it. Over the years I've tried it with other dogs, you almost have to start when they are puppies. The dogs we had refused to walk with them on.

      You sure know some rugged individuals. I love to read about them, but I don't want to be one.

      The light bulb with the app still gets me, too. Apps that control other things in your house seems to be a step too far except for someone in a wheelchair. Don't be so dependent on a cell phone!

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  4. Your omelet sounds so good that H is making one for me right not. Levi looks so cute in that photo. I keep telling H we should get a dog. I keep reading blogs of people who have dogs, and they get so much good stuff from their dogs. It's a big commitment, though.

    My new hairdresser has tattoos on her arms. I just can't love tattoos.

    The world is getting more complicated. If you relax for only a minute, you're in the dark about all kinds of stuff. "Gotta keep up," I keep telling myself.

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    1. I get an omelet every six weeks, when I drop Levi off to the groomers. I look forward to them so much!

      Dogs are a big commitment. Right now Levi isn't feeling well. He's vomited a couple of times yesterday and I had to do a load of laundry because he was on the bed. I don't know why but he'll end up at the vet if he quits eating, too. They'll problem tell me to cook him some rice and eggs to let his stomach calm down which I'll do today.

      Good luck keeping up! I've been researching Google Home and Amazon Alexa and have got myself almost talked out of getting one.

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    2. Poor Levi. My daughter works at a holistic health pet store ... food for 24 hours, then rice with chicken broth in 4-5 servings the next day. And then back to normal if all is good.

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    3. Forgot about chicken broth. Thanks for reminding me of that. He ate the egg and held it down. So he'll get the rice and chicken broth tonight. I think what happened is he was begging for some oranges I was eating and I gave it to him and he's never had them before. Hope that's all it was. He vomited a LOT of volume!

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  5. If only I could teach my beloved little chihuahua to NOT bark at animals on TV, life would be so much sweeter. She refuses to stop, and I just hate the thought of putting a bark color on an animal that only weighs 6 lbs. LOL

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    1. Some breeds are just natural barkers, aren't they. I've had poodles my entire adult life until I got my current Schnauzer and they hardly ever barked and could be trained to stop when you tell them. Levi is one of the many reasons why buying a condo is on hold.

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  6. Tattoos are certainly common where we live. I look at some of them and think to myself "someday you're going to be sorry you did that." You really made my 'get a dog' juices start flowing again. Daughter tells me to wait until I'm living alone but I so want one now. I've about decided on a poodle for the breed because they are so smart. I know they are a serious commitment so I keep postponing it because Bob doesn't want a pet.

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    1. Poodles are definitely smart. The dog I had before Levi was a poodle and the one before him could do ANY circus trick he was taught. If you ever want go read what it's like to raise a puppy during it's first year and also take care of a dog near the end of his life, read my dog's blog linked below. (only about 100 posts in all.) Start by clicking on the "First Entry" link in the upper right corner and then keep clicking forward through the posts to get them in the order written. It has some pretty funny posts if I do say so myself. After a few posts my old dog dies and he becomes an angel dog looking out for Levi. Dog blogs are written from the dog's voice and lots of fun to write.

      http://cooperthedogs.blogspot.com/

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  7. I so look forward to your blog! And appreciate your schedule!

    Dogs ARE a big commitment but something that helps with being single, in my humble opinion. A bit of a cost (money as well as time and effort) and a reason to stay on a schedule.

    Portland is icy still with a winter advisory until 10pm tomorrow. Braeden has a wicked chest cold so he is home with Gramma. Jesse and Deacon took a bus to a family Christmas party (an hour commute) and Kate crawled her way to work. I made her a large coffee, packed an English muffin with cream cheese for breakfast on the way, and a nice lunch as well. Boy did I get a hug this morning!

    Then both boys came out for snuggles, quiet play and Daddy got an extra hour of sleep.

    Tattoos both me. I guess because I associated them with convicts, gangs and drunk servicemen. So many beautiful young women now have them all over their body. If they want to do this to their bodies, I just wish employers would require they be covered while working. Ugh I've turned in to an old lady!

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    1. Our local Starbucks do require tattoos to be covered up. I found that out last summer when I remarked about a guy's long sleeves at the take out window.

      Hope your ice goes away soon. We got another six inches of snow.

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  8. I remember the inmate tattoos from my years in corrections and how different they are from the professional jobs done on the street! I don't even want to think about the liquids they used that probably got into their blood streams. And it is likely that a lot of inmates go into catering employment as it is usually one of an ever diminishing number of jobs that don't require background checks.
    Here's something interesting: a lot of the inmates seemed to know a lot more about electronic devices and commercial products than I did. Admittedly it wasn't difficult: I don't have a TV and am selective about what I read on line. They, on the other hand, watch a lot of TV, and for them, that involves a lot of commercials of the latest products and devices. They miss touching it but unless they had been inside for a long time, they had some understanding of new developments.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Inmate tattoos do look different than street tats. No birds, dogs and angels for one thing. LOL I never thought about the lack of real inks, though! I'm pretty sure the owner of the restaurants took part in a program to employ x-cons. Vaguely remember reading about it once.

      You've had an interesting life. I wish you blogged!

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  9. You have an interesting way of calibrating a tip. I'll revisit my own equation. Right now I give one dollar for breakfasts up to $5 and two dollars for breakfasts from $7 to $12. Like you say, the service doesn't vary by the size of the meal, so it makes more sense to tip for the service.

    It's totally refreshing to read your post, because it isn't one mention of the holidays. Depending what mood I'm in, the holidays are either a black hole sucking in my time and money, or a useful reminder to appreciate people more than I usually do. Gone are the days when holidays were some big extravaganza to look forward to.

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    1. Tipping definitely varies from person to person, doesn't it. I'm glad you shared your way of calculating. I was hoping more people would.

      I think my next blog will mention Christmas but not in a happy, happy dimples-in-my-cheeks showing way.

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  10. I so enjoy reading your blog and the commenters. I use to live in Asheville and there are many many tattooed folks there. It's a college town and also quite progressive. I left for warmer climate, smaller home after my husband died. I'm in a more conservative area now and you don't see that as much here. I had Yorkies in the past and I adored them. Would like another dog now but being older, I'm considering a rescue cat.

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    1. I think this is your first comment? Either way, welcome Mary!

      Yorkies are so cute. This time of the year I have to repeatedly talk myself out getting a second dog. Even getting a cat has crossed my mind but I'm allergic. Cats are definitely easier for seniors than dogs.

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  11. I just wanted to say hi Jean. This morning my back hurt so much even now at 6:30 the pain is still bad. I hope that tomorrow will be better. Have a good night sleep my friend. See ya. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Gosh, I wish your back would stop that! You've got a cruise coming up.

      I'm still having trouble sleeping.

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  12. I'm a morning person, but I also tend to drift slowly in the direction of getting dressed for the day and eating breakfast, especially if I get interested in what's on my computer screen first. Your tipping philosophy makes sense to me. -Jean

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    1. Computers are evil that way. I keep thinking I'd like to get the Google Home so I would walk around doing stuff and have it read my the news---oh, wait I have a TV for that.

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  13. I can't keep up with all this new stuff nowadays--including people with tattoos that cover their entire body. Yikes--think of the pain! I do love my Broad Spectrum light bulb however--it helps me get through the month of February.

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    1. What gets me about tattoos is what do you do when you get tired of looking at them? Most people wouldn't think of wearing the same dress for ten years because they'd get bored with it, or even the same paint color on walls for decades. Tats are too permanent and getting boring.

      I have high hopes for the light bulb making a difference. So many people say it does.

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