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 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.


24 comments:

  1. Our dogs sure learn quickly, don't they? Mine usually get a milk bone when they come in for the last time at night. They troop in and sit on the rug waiting for it. They have asked to go outside again trying to con me out of another. We used to spell, but they know what t-r-e-a-t, p-i-z-z a, b-o-n-e, and w-a-l-k mean.
    I have so much stuff, no idea where to start. DH has no problem getting rid of my stuff, so I will leave it for him. I don't think anyone would want any of my things, except maybe my tools.
    My mother absolutely refused to drink coffee out of a green cup. I didn't understand that.
    Nice that you are getting good ideas what to do with the rotisserie chickens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How funny about your troop. People who aren't dog people never believe you you say that dogs can understand spelling but they do!

      I would imagine a green cup would make tea look weird but not coffee....can't be the way it looks that your mother didn't like them. We all have our quirks and its fun, sometimes, to find out where they came from. If I was making up a story to explain it I'd say when she was a kid her parents made her pee in a green cup when they went on road trips. LOL

      Delete
  2. A timely post for me. I am baby-sitting a bulldog (middle-aged in dog years) today. It really is like looking after a baby - she wanted attention at intervals and knew how to get it. I was taken aback at her intelligence - she wanted to play soccer with me ie kick the ball so she could pounce on it the second after!

    I know exactly what you mean by coloured china - cheerful to look at but impractical. In my early married life I picked out a Mikasa china set, with a delicate floral design. Now, I prefer restaurant-white pottery plates - best background for food.

    The decluttering .... I do it one day and then need several days to recover from all that decision making - what to throw/keep. The constant refrain in my mind is: chuck it all out, you don't need/want it. But somehow it seems to make a mockery of my life in that I worked hard to get it, and never really had time to enjoy it till now - when its just become too much for me to look after.

    I should follow your example and get out more. Exercise sorts out a lot of moods/ailments. ~ Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the cooking shows on TV have made the white restaurant pottery so popular. I eat off a set of 1040's diner dishes with a thin green line around the edge.

      De-cluttering is more than just getting rid of things. Like you said,it's the decisions (and memories) that wear you out more than the physical work. One of the things I struggle with regarding downsizing is the concept that I'm throwing good money away or that I made a mistake when I bought something if I no longer like it. Plus I'm still alive and hope to live another 10-15 years.

      Delete
  3. I just said to my husband we either have to move or start de-cluttering/downsizing. You see we have moved all over the country for years with his job or mine. Each time we'd have a move we'd purge. We have now been here longer than any one place in our lives so you can imagine how much we need to purge. :-) EAch move we'd ask, do we really need to take this with us? Can we take photos for our memories? Can we let it go and if not why? You would not believe Jean the conversations or the time it took but I always enjoyed the process as odd as that sounds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taking photos is a great idea. I have been tossing the idea around in my head to make a picture book of all my favorite things. When I'm living in a cardboard box I can at least have my picture book. LOL

      Moving often does teach you how to purge. That's part of my problem. I lived in one house for 59 years.

      Delete
  4. There are just some things I can get rid of and will leave that task to my daughters. I can hear their comments now. HAH!!! Dogs are very smart, but when the word "Food" or "Treat" is mentioned in this house, my two cats know exactly what that means. They also know what, "Time to go nite-nite," means and head to the bedroom. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cats are smart but they want humans to bend to their will and not the other way around. For that reason I think one of Levi's parents was a feline. Either that or it's his German gene that makes him so bossy. LOL

      Delete
  5. Callie is pretty good about coming when I clap--somehow I lost my whistle with age--but if she is really interested in something, "cookie" works every time. We are well trained aren't we.
    I would have loved that class. Right now all those chickens are good for are white meat for me, dark and skin for Callie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do train us, don't they.

      I was shocked to hear the chef say many people throw away the dark meat. I love it! Levi gets skin and a little bit of the white.

      Delete
  6. Love the downsizing photo! Pets and grandchildren know how to work us! What a great class! I usually slice the chicken for the first meal. Then do casseroles or salads. And I almost always make stock. I need to do that here in Portland ... helps keep the sicknesses at bay, in my opinion. We don't get a chicken very often here as there is not much room in the fridge. But if I ripped it to shreds and cooked the bones ... wouldn't be much to store!

    Downsizing is an eternal process. I'm helping my daughter downsize her clothing! She just has way too much of everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true, if you debone the chicken with that first meal and cook or freeze the bones right away the rest doesn't take up much room. I do love them but hated the greasy hands for which I get the plastic gloves.

      I hope to downsize my clothing this summer. I don't know how I ever had room in the walk-in closet for Don's clothes. I've completely taken it all over.

      Delete
  7. What a great post. It hit on so many interesting things. I love it when you write about Levi. You bring his personality to life. I'd like some pics of him. :)
    I've been looking forward to you writing about the rotisserie chicken class. I never do anything adventuresome with them. I know there are recipes online, but I haven't checked them out. Will do.
    I gave my good china to a friend's son when he got married. I still have my crystal. I keep thinking about selling it. My son and his family are casual types, and are not interested in any of that kind of thing.
    So happy the Gathering is working out for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should make myself an emergency, standby post featuring photos of Levi. Thanks for the idea.

      I don't know what I expected from the class but I was disappointed there weren't more recipes. But I guess they are common online. It was fun, though, to watch the chef work...her knife work, her confidence, the way she deboned that chicken. I could never cook in front of two people let alone 25!

      Check out your crystal at Replacements, LTD. They buy and sell worldwide. Sometimes selling wholesale to a place like that and bring more than you'd get locally. At the very least you can plug in your pattern and find out what THEY sell for so you'll have a ballpark idea of what they are worth...or not.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the crystal info.

      Delete
  8. That cooking class sounds great. I hate to cook, so I'm always looking for easy shortcuts that turn out tasty.

    Downsizing is always on my mind, then I read a story on a site I follow (Sixty & Me on Facebook) where a woman wrote about building her big dream house on 5 acres and loving it! She acknowledged she was going against the flow of her age-mates, but encouraged people to think broadly about what can be done. Still, I think most of us are looking toward "less" not "more" although it pays to be careful that we don't cut ourselves off from what we have/love as an insurance policy against a day when we can't have it anymore. I think the point of the article was to live for today.

    I have lots of old antique dishes passed on to me that neither of my sons (nor my one daughter in law) seem interested in. It sort of breaks my heart to think of just boxing them up and donating them (they are not worth anything), but one day that's what I'll do. As for my own dishes -- I've gone casual too. And I have a set of brightly colored plates and bowls for everyday use -- not fiesta ware, but similar. I'll be sure to use my plain white dishes when you come for a visit, Jean. LOL

    So happy to hear your Gathering Girls are a place of growing friendship. I think your summer plans sound entirely doable. You go, girl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recently added 'Sixty & me' in my blog roll. Small world. I read the up-sizing article. One of my bigger problems with downsizing is it feels like preparing for death and I'm not even sick yet. LOL

      The senior hall brings a chef in for classes about 8 times a year. I went to one about beans. They are fun and cheap compared to the others I've seen around town and we get to eat.

      Great on using the white dishes when I make it out to your part of the country. LOL

      Delete
  9. I use the carcass of a rotisserie - or home roasted chicken - to make chicken stock because it's better than the canned stuff and easy to keep in the freezer. My dogs get dribbles on their dog food each meal, so we all benefit!

    Your reply to Libby really struck a chord! Even though I know my son won't want a particular item and I don't want it any more either, it's still exhausting to deal with the emotional part of downsizing. And how is it we take up declining brain space with the price of things we bought 20 years ago?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great use of homemade chicken stock. My dog is getting to where he needs a little sensitive to eat his kibble.

      To make the downsizing even harder for me is in the last two years I've gotten rid of a couple of things that I've regretted doing. If you come up with an answer to your question, let me know. LOL

      Delete
    2. By the way, I just checked out your blog and your art work is amazing!

      Delete
  10. I went over to take a look at Sixty and Me, and ended up laughing myself silly at the article about how sweating can help you live longer. I guess I may have found the answer to why I keep clicking along. It's only March 23, and I've already had my first sweaty day at work. The humidity has been just ghastly, so that explains that.

    I laughed at your comment about the truly bad color combinations with some of the modern china. A photographer I follow did a series on donuts, which would have been fine, except he had them on plates that were the most horrid green I've ever seen. It's a good thing he wasn't trying to sell them, because I think they'd still be sitting in his store.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wish they had a search feature over on that site. I looked for the swearing article and couldn't find it. Then I came back here and realized you said sweating, not swearing. Darn, I would have liked to chalk up a few of my bad words to something that could make me healthier.

    Green dishes are almost as bad as orange!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm enjoying reading about your escapades. I would think such activity would keep you out of trouble, but there you are plotting with The Gathering Girls -- out running around -- heaven only knows what you may be up to next -- conning your dog with bribes ... leaving your impacted closet as is for another day as though engaging in some of life's pleasurable activities was more important. Where is your sense of guilt?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could write a whole blog about guilt! No matter what I'm doing I feel like I could be doing something more selfless. Then I remember I was selfless during my 17 years of caregiving between my husband and my dad and then I morph into guilt that I'm not spending more energy making up for lost time. LOL

      Delete