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, April 19, 2017

Doctor Happy and the Bunnies and Butterflies



Easter Sunday was noisy here in Levi-the-Mighty-Schnauzer Land where he spent the entire afternoon in voyeur mode watching and barking at four rabbits trying to mate in the back yard. The lady rabbit/s were playing hard-to-get. Every so often I’d let Levi out on the deck and when the rabbits ran by he’d bark and they’d freeze in place like plastic toys on a cake. It was probably the only rest they got all afternoon, it was a regular rodeo back there. I can’t tell the bucks from the does, so in three weeks we could have one, two or three new mom’s making nests in the neighborhood. Most years I get one under my pine trees just 6-7 feet from the dog’s pen. Crazy momma. She’ll sleep in that nest all night long even when Levi goes out to pee and to bark at her from the other side of his white picket fence. In the daytime she’ll leave the babies on their own so she doesn’t draw the attention of predators. I always have to make sure my lawn care guy doesn’t disturb the nest when he puts down the new Pacific Northwest pine needle mulch in May. I know what you’re thinking: Who buys pine needles to put under their pine trees? I’ll try to remember to take a photo when he’s done. It looks so much better than bark mulch under those three trees and along my near-by cattail bog.  

For Easter dinner I grilled a steak, steamed some asparagus and had strawberry shortcake and, yes, Levi got a little plate of his own of everything. He especially likes strawberries and when I make protein shakes in the mornings, he’ll come running to the kitchen when he hears the blender where he knows he’ll get a few bites of whatever fruit I’m using that day. I expected my big Easter dinner to show up on the scales Monday morning. It didn’t. I’m saving the traditional Easter ham I bought for later in the week because I didn’t want the salt to show up at the doctor’s office in the form of a higher blood pressure reading and added water retention. 

My bi-annual appointment with my internist was Tuesday. The doctor was pleased. I was pleased. Even his young, tag-along student doctor was…well, he couldn’t have cared less. I think he was bored with this old lady with no real problems to solve. I did get permission to go faster on the treadmill as long as I don’t let my heart rate get over 135 on my Fitbit---like I could actually go faster than the 1.35 miles in 30 minutes that I’m already doing. I was glad the doctor thinks doing the treadmill a half hour 2-3 times a week is ideal, that I don’t need to walk longer, just a tad faster, if I can work up to it, using my heart rate as my guide. He also said that strength training and exercise is more important at my age than at any other time in our lives. 

The day before Easter I got to spend time with eleven members of my family---me being the oldest person there and the youngest one is just a few months old. We met at our local sculpture garden to see the Butterflies are Blooming exhibit in the tropical conservatory. We were there all morning and the baby woke up just once to nurse but otherwise slept contentedly in one of those baby slings that keeps babies close to their mother’s stomach and chest. Why did it take so long for those slings to get popular in modern society? Indigenous people all over the world have been using them since way back when the earth was still thought to be flat. The two, two year olds with us took quite an interest in the butterflies. It was fun watching their faces light up and it was heart-warming when Little O held my hand for the first time. Until now, he’s been standoffish to me, the little girl is just the opposite. I don’t know how to interact with children anymore like I did back when my nieces and nephew were young, but I don’t see these kids often enough to re-learn. Big sigh of regret here.

I started going to the butterfly exhibit after my husband died as a life-affirming pilgrimage around all of my April sadiversaries, then last year when my youngest niece heard that I was going she wanted to meet me there. Five of us went last year and that grew to eleven this year. I’m hoping we’ve started a tradition that will last a while. The park is huge with lots of things for kids to do as they grow older. For me, I don’t think I’ll ever lose my fascination of seeing thousands of butterflies all in one place and I still haven’t gone after dark to one of their butterflies and flashlights events. The exhibit has the power to slow us down to pay closer attention to our environment---the sun patterns through the foliage, the kaleidoscope of colored flowers that draws the butterflies to land and the warmth of the conservatory that previews what’s to come outside as April creeps forward into May. And of course, the amazing and mysterious cycle of chrysalises and cocoons that turn into beautiful creatures that live for such a short time but while they’re here they do their work in making sure their species continues. Life affirming. Oh, yes! ©

My great-great nephew and niece. I don't like to post pictures of kids without their parent's permission---adults either---but since no one can see their faces here, I'm making an exception. In the one up above Little O is taking a close-up look at a butterfly and the photo below was taken in the children's garden at the sculpture park.

35 comments:

  1. Congratulations on passing the medical with flying colours!

    Please do post pictures of the pine needles mulch under the pine trees (I'd have thought they'd have dropped enough themselves to form their own Mulch). I also did nt know you could buy pine needles mulch

    Thank you for a beautifully written post. The description of your butterfly outing was poetic and wonderful to read. (No typos/grammatical errors - even the well regarded NYT suffers from them nowadays.) ~ Libby

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    1. The pine mulch from out west is twice as long as the white pine needles here in Michigan. It's long enough that they can bundle it up to sell. It's not something commonly used around here because it's more expensive than bark mulch, but my lawn care guy suggested for this particular spot. I like it because it looks so natural.

      Oh my gosh, if you knew how hard I have to work at writing (and especially spelling and proof-reading) you'd know how much your compliment in the second paragraph means to me.

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  2. (Typos because of smartphone- glasshouses/stones comes to mind). ~ Libby

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    1. I don't know how anyone can type on those tiny phone keyboards without making typos!

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  3. Under the picture there is a slight typo where you wrote "I'm making an exception" but I'm not complaining...just saying!
    One of the things about being retired and being older is regrettably loosing connections with younger people. I don't have any grandchildren and rarely have connections with young people these days. I do find that unfortunate. It is too easy to form stereotypes and prejudge people if you don't have connections with them.
    Focusing on the beauty of nature is important these days!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I'd rather have a typo pointed out than find it myself a month later, knowing how many people read it. But funny note here: even after you pointed it out, I couldn't find it. I corrected something else later in the sentence on my first attempt. :)

      I find it hard to communicate with not just toddlers but with people their parent's ages. I try to keep up with what's going on in the world on all levels but my words just don't come out in conversations as quick or as accurately as I'd like anymore. I've even been thinking about writing a blog entry about that.

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  4. Leze/Jean R. - did see the 'except' typo, but after seeing typos in publications like NYT, it was piffle. ~ Libby

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    1. I wonder if publications like the NYT even have proof-readers anymore. It's really hard to proof-read your own work because in the process of writing the writer often ends up accidentally memorizing what she/he thinks she/he has written. So when you think you're proof-reading you're not actually seeing the words on the paper or computer screen but rather the words in your head. That is my problem BIG TIME. Publishers may even be depending on auto-correct too much and we all know how that can end up. LOL I turned my off!

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  5. Sounded like a lovely day with the butterflies and children Jean.

    Congrats on going to the dr and them being bored because you are well, we all need that kind of appointment. :-)

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    1. It was a great day.

      The best part about seeing my doctor is he's moving his office near the sculpture gardens so as a treat after seeing him, I can stop there and spend some time. The dog always gets to go to the pet store after a trip to the vet, now I'll have my own special treat. LOL

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  6. Way to go on the great check up. You are doing your share in maintaining your health. Medicine can only do so much, the rest is in our hands.
    The butterflies sound like a great tradition to keep going. The excitement of children is contagious.

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    1. Yup, good health comes from three places: your own self care, your genes and a good health care system.

      What I love about being around four generations of my family is not just the littlest ones but also seeing what great parent0s and grandparents the other generations are.

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  7. Your Easter dinner sounds good. It was probably wise to hold off on the ham, I have the same problem.
    Nice to hear that your visit to the doctor went so well. You weren't expecting any thing less, were you?
    The family excursion to see the butterflies sounds like a good plan. I think it will make a great tradition that the 'kids' will continue long after you're a fond memory. For quite a while, I have had a problem with little kids, I'm sorry to say. 2 hours is my limit, and then they get to me with all their bouncing and high pitched voices. I suppose it's because it's a once in a blue moon occurrence.

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    1. For the past two months I've been working my butt off to get my weight down for this appointment. A higher weight can effect blood pressure and I didn't want those meds adjusted. Plus it was just time to start turning that weigh gain train around before it got hopelessly out of control and effects my life.

      Little kids sure are busy little creatures, aren't they. I bet we all have our limits...for me it's probably four hours.

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  8. CONGRATS on great check up. My Easter ham showed up on the scale yesterday morning. UGH. Now I must follow your lead and build some strength along the way.

    It is sometimes difficult for me to talk to MY kidults. It's like they are from another planet. And three hours with two busy boys and I need an hour of quiet!! I like early morning or right before bed when we can talk about ideas and places and look them up on Google. They are sponges for knowledge. As well as snuggles. Mr. 6 sat on my lap for 30 mins last night while we talked about ancient kings and queens ...

    Thanks for writing! It always seems effortless to me!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble talking to millennials. I think we care about the same issues but each generation approaches things differently. I know you are very computer savvy and so am I but I'm always shocked at how shocked some millennials are when it becomes clear that we know our way around cyberspace. This would make a good blog topic.

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    2. It would make a great topic. There's a company here in Houston that's building and marketing computers for "seniors." Their advertising is so filled with contempt for older people, I've nearly called them a couple of times. Then I decided life was too short to devote any energy in that direction.

      Besides, even if we aren't completely tech savvy, we have other kinds of wisdom to share: if anyone under 30 would be interested.

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    3. I'll bet I've seen those computers for seniors. I'll bet their marketing doesn't appeal to many of us.

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  9. It sure sounds like you've begun a magical spring tradition with Nature's Disneyland. It would be wonderful to watch everyone's eyes get as big as saucers. What a wonderful way to knit a family together! hmmm...I'm thinking butterflies'd be terrific therapy. Once you marvel together, can you still argue together?!

    I agree with Libby - this is a beautifully written post. I laughed about the bunnies doing their thing, and pictured those pine needles spread underneath the pine tree, like the poor pine tree hadn't quite shed enough by itself, so its needles need the chums you provide.

    Every once in a while I'd like to share what I'm up to - but do it sloppily! I'm quite relieved I have no more writing assignments.

    Of late... I've been away on another spiritual odyssey, driving home from the airport before dawn this morning, after a red-eye flight from California. Now that I've taken a wee nap, your blog was the first thing I checked when I returned to my computer. Coffee and kitty are at my side. Good to be back in touch!

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    1. Now you've got me feeling like I've insulted my poor pine trees for not producing enough needles to suit me. LOL I hope this year I get some of the giant pine cones that sometimes come in the bundles. I might have to hide them from my white pines.

      Should I put your blog back in my "blogs I follows" list in hopes that you might be back to writing from time to time? Sharing is good for the soul. Either way, I'm honored that you come back to 'see' me.

      I thought of you this week when a new person jointed our Gathering at the senior hall. When it was her time to talk the first thing she said was that she very spiritual and that she likes to go to retreats. Her latest was to Colorado where they were all silent.

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    2. Hey, to be sure you could try asking the pine tree if it'd like more needles underneath. I hear there are people who can communicate with trees and plants and horses and dogs...

      Nope! NO need to add my blog back on to your list. If I ever feel compelled to show and tell, I'll start afresh. I can't get into spilling my life onto Facebook. More likely I'd start a sloppy blog named 'My Kindergarten Years'.

      One of the two spiritual gatherings gave us name tags we wore round our necks. 'Flo' on its front; "In silence" on its back. I flipped it over a couple times! In between retreats I stayed in a tiny cottage overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a really remote area of northern California. I do the hermit thing well.

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    3. I like the idea of having a way to signal to each other at a retreat that you're open to talking or want to be silent. You sure are adventurous with your travels. The tiny cottage overlooking the Pacific sounds wonderful, I just wouldn't enjoy doing it all alone.

      You have my e-mail. Do let me know if you start another blog.

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  10. Isn't it nice when your doctor is pleased with your progress? We are works in progress. I'm a believer in exercise and strength training at our age.
    We had a papoose-type thing that we carried our son in when he was little, but it was worn like a backpack on the back. He liked it.
    My mother always used pine needles, and I'd use them too if I had pine trees. I like the look.

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    1. I get a kick out of buying bundles of pine needles because my lawncare service is one that my nephew owns and when he was a little kid he tried to sell bundles of pine needles from their property to passer-bys. He was ahead of his time.

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  11. That whole bunny thing reminds me of a dinner out with friends recently where I had to confess my ignorance of the animal world's mating habits. I'm a city girl with no experience in how the birds, bees, bunnies, or dogs...or any other creature beyond human, actually mates. Well, I get the general idea of course, but when my dog breeding friend described to me what it's actually like to be at a "date" with her bitch and the boy, well, I'm not a prude by any stretch, but I nearly blushed. Who knew all that was happening and how...well...intense it could be? (Articulated penis???? I had no idea about that! LOL) So, never too old to learn stuff that should be common knowledge, I guess.

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    1. I'd just as soon not see dogs breeding. If that makes me a prune then so be it. LOL Female rabbits pull their own hair out to line their nests if they've been successfully bred. Aren't we glad humans don't have to do that.

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    2. Yeah, well, my kids made me pull MY hair out too! LOL

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  12. I'm so glad your doctor visit went well. You certainly have been diligent about every sort of thing -- starting with that weight loss. You're a great role model!

    I've got an exercise room available to me right here at my apartment complex, and I'm thinking I need to start using the treadmill. In the winter, I'm much better about walking, but the heat and humidity are lurking around, and I'm never motivated enough in summer to get up and walk at 5 a.m. like so many do. If I establish the habit now, maybe I'll stick with it.

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    1. I'm really not very diligent. I go in streaks with exercise and diet, with everything really. In a couple of months I'll be back to finding excuses for not doing it. You are lucky to have a room available, though. The YMCA is costing me $55 a month plus the cost of personal training sessions isn't cheap. Once they end, the challenge of being diligent really starts for me. I need the accountability to stay motivated.

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  13. Butterflies and kids sounded like a wonderful time, you just may have started a tradition, a good one too.

    Yes it seems we get out of practice dealing with kids but all in all we can handle it, posting the faces of kids I understand but have been guilty of posting my grandson, I guess that's just expected ha ha

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    1. Most grandparents know how their own kids feel about posting photos online of their children. Some care, some don't. Some turn off the GPS markers when they take photos, some don't. But oh is it tempting to post all that cuteness all over the place! Don't blame you.

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  14. I don't post photos on FB, but I do on here. My blog feels safer to me plus, none of my kids know about the blog, so they aren't apt to see the photos. LOL There IS a method to my madness. I have never been in a butterfly house. I would so love to go. Wish we had one nearby. I would just sit very still somewhere and hoped they'd come to light on me.

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    1. It's not hard to get the butterflies to land on you at a butterfly exhibit, especially if you wear brightly colored clothing. When I was there with royal blue on many of them would get within 6-8 inches before realizing I wasn't a flower change course.

      I've got over 380,000 hits on my blog and I'd like to think they are all friendly, nice people but it only takes a one or two to steal photos and geeks can find the GPS markers on them to trace where the photos were taken, thus potentially finding out where the kids in the photos live. I wouldn't even have posted these photos if they hadn't been taken a public places. Some young parents are very careful about things like that, so I just follow their lead.

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  15. Hi, I accidentally found your blog and it feels like meeting a friend. Though space and age separate us, the life perspective seems so familiar. Even the the paintig used for your avatar is the one my friend used as an inspiration for a costume for a party. I once stumbled upon another wabpage which is sometimes soothing and sometimes inspiring for me, so I wonder if you would find it interesting too, or maby find something worth reading in the choice of books they provide: http://bookpickings.brainpickings.org/ By the way, if you would find idea of making a voyage to Europe worth thinking of, please let me know. My flat in Krakow is a hospitable place. Even if that is not something you would consider seriously, I hope the idea of this unknown place waiting for you will be somwhat joyfull for you. :) Regards.

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    1. Welcome, Anna. I just went to a travelogue last night that included Wrakow. Looks like a beautiful place to live. I don't plan to go but I like learning....

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