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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fancy-Pants Dining, Haircuts and Mr. President




Practically in my back yard is a large culinary college that is listed in the top five in the USA. Every year our senior hall has a popular event where they’ll bus 100 of us (25 at a time on four consecutive days) down to their 5-star style restaurant. This week was my third year going and I’ll keep going as long as I can still spoon food into the biggest orifice in my head. The ambience and food are to die-for and out of the norm for my dining experiences. We sat at tables of six and the conversation focused on the food, the dessert cart and the chefs that came out to answer questions about unidentifiable flavor profiles in the dishes and how they were prepared. I had the “Caribbean Adobo Braised Pork” with sofrito and pineapple sauce and for dessert I practically had an orgasm devouring the tiramisu cake in an eatable chocolate dish served with a scoop of coffee ice cream on the side. Each time we go, we tour a different part of the college and the bakery was on slate this week. After lunch we went on a mystery side trip that turned out to be a tour of the fire department and its regional-wide training center. They had a “house” with moveable walls that can be filled up with smoke so the firefighters can’t see where they’re going. I swear they must have picked the cutest guy in the department to do the talk and tour. Dimples and tiramisu in the same day? It doesn’t get much better than that. 

I got a new hair style this week---breezier and easier for a spring that includes more showers now that I’m going to the gym three to four times a week. It seems like the longer you go to the same stylist the more they get into auto-pilot-cutting your hair and then you end up with a helmet head. At least that happens to me. So I searched for a photo to bring with me and when I showed it to the stylist she said, “That’s not going to work.” I didn’t expect resistance. “Why not?” I asked. “Because It’s longer than the cut you have.” Say what? I couldn’t believe it but I wasn’t about to argue with a lady holding a pair of sharp scissors. “I’m not married to that photo,” I said. “What do you suggest?” Instead of answering she asked me what I was trying to achieve and I told her I wanted to get rid of the bulk on top and be able to towel dry my hair after a shower and be good to go. Boy short. “Well, that’s not going to happen,” she replied. “As thick as your hair is if you go that short it will all stick straight up and there’s not enough jell in the world to make it lay down.” “So what should I do,” I begged, “walk around with a helmet in my arms so it looks like I have a good reason for having helmet hair?” She talked and I lost interesting in listening. Finally I ended her monologue with, “Why don’t you just surprise me.” She did. She gave me a cut that to my untrained eye looks like the one in the photo I brought in! “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” Well, I didn’t get the answer I wanted but my new cut is definitely ready for the sultry summer days.

A week or so ago a blogger friend, Bella Run, recommended signing up for The Word of the Day at Dictionary.com which I did and until yesterday I hadn’t received a word that I’d seen before or thought that I’d use in the future. Then an email came with this word: mumpsimus. “1) adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language, memorization, practice, belief, etc., out of habit or obstinacy, or 2) a person who persists in a mistaken expression or practice.” Who does that remind you of? Hint: He lives in a big white house. Oops, zip my mouth and slap me silly. My blog is in a controversy free zone. At least I’ve been trying to keep that way lately, but this past week has been a good week for those of us in The Resistance so I’m sticking my neck up like a periscope on a submarine. Feel free to take a potshot at me if you think the world is being unfair to Mr. Mumpsimus, if you don’t think Voltaire, the French philosopher of ye olden days, knew what he was talking about when he warned, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Speaking of The Resistance, I had lunch with my oldest niece over the weekend, an early birthday treat on her part. I love that woman! We talked about the Russian entanglements in the White House, the failed Trumpcare bill, the second Muslim ban that's been blocked by several district courts and I got caught up on all things family related. We each had to drive a half hour to meet in the middle and as I drove home after lunch I couldn’t help feeling wistful that we can’t do it more often. I miss having people around who’ve known me longer than a minute and a half---who knew me when my brain and my tongue worked at the same speed and who can fill in when my memory fails me. Magic mirror on the wall, why can’t I age like smooth-as-silk Jamaica Rum instead of Hire’s Root Beer that’s gone flat? ©
The haircut

My dessert
A hard choice that came in second



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Taxes and Treadmills



I’ve been going to the same Certified Public Account to get my income taxes done since Ring was a pup and he’s been died and buried under a rock in the back yard for over twenty years. I’ve never had a dog named Ring but that phrase was a favorite of my husband’s to denote that something happened a long time ago. Don didn’t have a dog named Ring either. He picked the phrase up from his dad who got it from Don’s grandfather who---family folklore claimed---actually did have a dog named Ring that resided in the back pasture with a rock rolled over the grave to keep wild animals from digging up his childhood dog. I love family verbiage like this and wish I had another generation to pass it down to. Today, out of curiosity I googled “since Ring was a pup.” (Or maybe it was suspicion that made me want to fact-check three generations of males who were all gifted storytellers.) I found ten listings for the phrase, three of which were links to my own blog entries, four to other people’s blogs and three appeared in newspapers dated 1911, 1914 and 1922. Oh how I would have loved to break that little tidbit to my husband! He would have laughed and loved to have one of his grandfather’s tales get exposed after so many years of blind faith in its accuracy. 

My taxes are much too simple to require the services of a CPA but he’s been doing my taxes since---well, Ring was a pup and Don and I both owned businesses and rental property. It was complicated back in those days of employees, depreciations and income and expenses coming in from all directions. Simple now or not, as long as I can still drive the dreaded S-curve to get to the CPA's office, I’ll keep going to him. He’s a straight-up, honest guy who plays by the rules and I like that. We’ve never worried about the IRS hauling us off to tax evader's prison.

The next day I had to go to the dealership for my Chevy Trax’s 10,000 miles free maintenance---tires rotated, oil changed and the fluids topped off. “Have you seen the new arrivals in the show room?” asked a salesman who stopped in the waiting room to refill his coffee cup. “Nope. The last time I did that I went home with my Trax." Can’t fool me twice. The day before my appointment I cleaned out the inside of the car of its winter clutter and when I was done I felt ten years younger. Why? Because I found a pair of prescription sunglasses that I’ve been looking for for weeks. I’m not a person who misplaces or loses things and every time I’d think about those glasses it would make me feel old, like it was a sign that I’m losing brain power. I tore up my reminder note about the missing glasses, quit obsessing about them and went back to believing that my brain might live to see another year before it descends into a pile of mush. 

Friday was my 15th time on the treadmill at the YMCA and I’m doing one and a quarter miles in a half hour. I decided not to follow my trainer Julie’s instructions to add five minutes every third time until after I see my doctor in April. He’s the boss of me not that tall, skinny-as-a-flagpole girl with her bouncy black hair and Marilyn Monroe red lips. If she ate an olive she'd look pregnant.

My Treadmill Playlist: From the top of the stairs to the treadmill is about a half a city block and I start my iPod playlist at that point so I can strut down the aisle with the Bee Gees singing, “Here I am, prayin' for this moment to last, livin' on the music so fine…” By the time it’s finished I’m on the treadmill and ready for what comes next, the Saturday Night Fever version of The Fifth of Beethoven. I love that piece! Years ago I used to plow snow to it---windows rolled down and the volume jacked up in an effort to keep myself awake near the end of my shift. My third treadmill walking song is by The Killers, All These things That I’ve Done. Until today when I googled the lyrics, I thought they were singing, “I got sold, but I'm not a soldier” They’re actually singing “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined a backstory for that line and now I have to start all over again. What the heck does that mean? The forth song is my favorite: Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. “Life is goin’ nowhere, somebody help me! Yeah, I’m stayin’ alive.” By then the treadmill is getting harder and I’m wishing someone could help me! 

Then comes the biggie, the 9.52 minutes long Finale from The Lone Ranger movie otherwise known as The William Tell Overture. I really love it but I alternate between wanting to let go of the treadmill to become a made-believe orchestra conductor (which would have me flying off the end of the machine) and trying to figure out which of the false endings is actually the end of the piece so I can slow down and cool down with Helen Reddy’s I am Woman. All I know for sure is when the bass oboes play I think I’m going to die if Finale doesn’t end soon. It doesn’t. I’m going to be three-quarters of a century old soon. I can practically count on my fingers and toes the number of days until it's cake and candle time and I can’t believe I'm doing this gym thing---that I'm actually ABLE to do this gym thing!  ©

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dogs, Downsizing and Cooking Class



Levi is an amazing dog. He adapts well to my schedule no matter how crazy it gets. When I leave the house I might get a dirty look once in a while when I kiss his forehead and say, “Be a good boy and don’t let any rabbits get in the house” but the dirty look goes away when I bribe with a Milk-Bone Trail Mix treat that he often gets with the goodbye kiss. He loves that trail mix. He’ll cooperate with anything you ask him to do if you use the magic word, “Treat.” Sometimes when he won’t come inside when I call his name I’ll use the magic word and he’ll make a beeline to the door. (More than a few times I've gotten the sense that I’ve been conned.) That beeline ends near the pantry where he’ll position his little butt smack dab in the middle of the doorway between the kitchen and the living room so I can’t pass by until he gets his promised trail mix treat.

The long awaited rotisserie Chicken class that I signed up for back on January 3rd finally took place this week. It wasn’t about how to cook them but rather what we can do with the store bought variety. The chef who taught the cooking class started by showing us how to break down the chicken and many of us we’re impressed by how easy she snapped the legs and thighs off with a simple trick of turning the chicken upside down first then pulling upward on that legs, both at the same time. (Or was it downward? I can't remember!) Next she flipped it over and cut down the center of the breast and since she was wearing plastic gloves it only took her seconds to have all the meat picked clean off the bones. When I do it I have to wash my hands a million times and I decided buying a box of those disposal gloves would be worth it, since rotisserie chicken is a staple around here. She talked about making her own chicken stock and chicken soup before she demonstrated making Chicken Shepherds’ Pie, Chicken Enchiladas and Chicken Salad on Croissants---all three of which we got to eat. I doubt I’d ever make the first two but they were good, and freezable recipes for four, but the class did inspire me to get more creative with my chicken salads.

The monthly Gathering (for people looking for friends) took place this week, too. I could go to this senior hall activity once a week and not get tired of playing the getting-to-know each other games the facilitator comes up with. Afterward six of us went to a near-by Tim Horton’s where they seem to have a knack for hiring the most inept employees but that works well for us because we can sit and gab for over an hour without the pressure of taking up a table in a busy place. Often we’re the only ones there.

We talked a lot about downsizing and how hard it is to find family members who want our good china, crystal and silverware---or even to sell it. Microwaves and dishwashers have single-handedly (or is it double-handedly?) ended the era of fancy plate settings. Young marriage minded couples no longer registered for crystal goblets, paper-thin butter plates and silver encrusted teaspoons in carefully picked out patterns that, back in our day, we knew we’d own a lifetime. Now, brides and grooms want either plain white or black ceramic or bright colored Fiesta ware that clashes with many of the foods that will be served on them. Hint: If you invite me over for dinner don’t give me strawberry shortcake in an orange bowl unless you’re prepared for me to upchuck on your table. Na, I wouldn’t actually do that but I’d sure write about it behind your back. A girl’s got to get her blog fodder wherever she can. I really do hate orange, though, and the thought of eating off that color does turn my stomach. There's no end to my first world complaints, is there.

We Gathering Girls brought our day planners to Tim Horton’s so we could schedule a get-together away from the senior hall. In two weeks we’re meeting for lunch and then we're going to a near-by consignment mall that sells a little bit of everything---crafts, up-cycled stuff and antiques. One of the Gathering Girls has a new booth in the mall and just hearing her talk about it brings back good feelings of the days when I had booths in antique malls. It can be a lot of fun but it's also a lot of work. I have to keep remembering the latter part lest I put my name on a waiting list to rent a stall. Let’s hope the practical side of my brain keeps overruling the dreamer side. The kinds of things I have left to sell needs a bigger market like eBay than a neighborhood mall. I did so much downsizing in the first three summers after Don died that I’m having trouble working myself up to jumping back into the game.

I want so much out of the coming summer: a skinnier and stronger body, less and newer clothing in my closet, more time spent bonding and hanging out with the Gathering Girls, and downsizing more stuff that no longer makes sense to own. So little time, so much to do and none of my summer goals are easily accomplished not to mention I’ve got to get through all the spring yard and house cleaning and maintenance that comes first. ©
 
I found this googling the word, 'downsizing' and thought it was too cute not to share.