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, April 8, 2017

Hats, Contractors and More Hats


My Red Hat Society Chapter will be fourteen years old this fall and I was a founding member but two years later I had to drop out because I couldn’t leave my wheelchair bound husband alone for more than two hours and that didn’t mesh well with the out-of-town outings the group was doing. Fast forward to after Don passed away and I found my way back into the group and to this week when I took part in a long standing yearly event…helping the residents of our adopted nursing home become honorary members of our chapter. We bring red visors and bling and marry the visors and bling of their choosing together using our trusty glue guns. Cookies and punch are part of the deal. We also fill holiday goodie bags for all the residents three times a year, do a cupcake and slow motion bingo party in the fall and we have volunteers who rotate memorabilia in and out of a showcase. I’ve never volunteered to do that because, I guess, I’m too picky (or selfish) about where I leave my antiques and collectibles.

Last year I felt too old to be at our visor party, like I could easily be mistaken for one of the resident and as the event got closer this year I gave myself a good scolding lest negativity found a comfortable chair inside my head again. It worked. I went knowing I could do this! I could smile at the guy who took ten cookies off the sugar-free tray but still wanted more when I was passing around the regular cookies. I could be exasperated with the woman who wanted to hoard the whole bag of stick-on bling before it could be passed around to the others. I could laugh at the fact that my chapter sisters all were required to wear rubber gloves to set up the cookie trays but when it came time to pass them out half the residents mauled a number of cookies before making their final choices. As I drove home, I wondered which one I’d be in the future---the cookie hoarder or the bling hoarder? Either way, I hope I’m good natured about it like the guy was. He knew he was doing wrong but he wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. The woman was a bit of a bitch. If she’d had a fly swatter handy I would have gotten smacked when I got near her.

I got my first estimate on the cost of replacing my roof. It was from the company that did my neighbor’s in one day and they called me cold canvasing the neighborhood. I read through 200 online reviews after making the appointment, most were happy but there were 4-5 people complaining that the company wouldn’t do an estimate without husbands being present with their wives. That explained why the sales rep making the appointment made a point of saying twice, “I’ll see you AND Levi at 2:00.” On my outgoing phone message I say, “You have reached Jean and Levi…” After Don died, I didn’t want my message to give away the fact that I was living alone, so I added the dog’s name when I took my husband’s off the message. The company must have called once when I wasn’t home and assumed Levi was my husband.

After I introduced the guy to my Might Schnauzer the look on his face was priceless and I was prepared for the little-woman-can’t-understand-estimates treatment. I didn’t get it but he did ask if I was related to---and he named my brother. “Yes!” I replied. “How do you know him?” “We did his roof last year. Let’s call him,” he said as he pulled my brother’s contact information up on his phone and put it on speaker. Thankfully, my brother wasn’t home because the last thing I wanted to do is listen to two guys "help me" decide if I should spend $14,400 on a new roof. I am woman. I make my own decisions thank you very much! I decided that what looked like gender bias in the reviews was just the company’s awkwardness in wanting all the legal home owners present so they don’t have to do their presentation twice. Still…. The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and while I was prepared not to be won over by the sales pitch, I was impressed enough to keep them in the running. 

Yesterday I woke up with snow on the ground but spring supposedly will be here on the weekend. In the meantime, I packed up my knitting in hopes that will signal Mother Nature that’s it’s time to get her tail in gear and bring us some warm weather and tulips. In the past few months I’ve made twenty-eight hats for my family---for next Christmas---although there are four I might do over if I still don’t like them in the fall. My mom made hats for everyone every year and I never appreciated her efforts until I tackled the job this year. I used my mom’s looms and the hats might be a tad out of fashion but with their double thickness they are warmer than bread in a toaster. Darn, now I wish I had some bread in the house! I haven’t had carbs in so long I’m dreaming about them. ©

 
 
 


The set I don't like.

32 comments:

  1. Those hats are cute. What a nice gift. I crocheted seven afghans for Christmas gifts one year. That was a long time ago.

    Much luck with your roof. I hope we don't have to replace ours yet, but it's getting old. It's such a big expense.

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    1. My mom once made afghans for everyone, too. I'd forgotten that! What a lot of work that would be!

      It's tempting to let my roof go a few years but if it starts leaking, then it will cost more and already there are many signs it's time to do it.

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  2. How big IS your house? The estimate floored me - inflation is getting kind of out of control or you live in a huge house. When Ruth had to do her roof, she went through the same thing and ended up having her son come to "help" her. I guess they need a witness to their price gouging.
    Cool looking warm hats! I would lean toward the bright colors.

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    1. My house it 1500 square feet with a three stall garage and a porch. I was expecting $10,000 but I was floored at that price, too.

      When I was picking out colors, I search Facebook for the colors family units liked wearing.

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  3. Jean R. - the ability to see others as we may well be as we grow older!! I often think along the very same lines. I would definitely be the cookie guy, and sigh, can even see signs of the glitter lady in me. I hope not. I keep packets of biscuits for visitor and never tempted to open one for myself (in which case i'd scoff the lot in one day); I now have half-slice of toast when I want something with my morning cuppa; etc BUT I have a roll of fat around my middle as I sit in front of the computer too long (damn Donnie and his daily tricks). I loathe the gym machines, but the 30 mins walk each way to the gym thrice a week (since I pay I will make myself go!) is good for me - the exercise classes that I go for are meh (although every little bit helps I suppose).

    I got a quote a few years ago for replacing my heating system and the guy refused to budge on price. My son (with the same guy) got a better deal, free add-ons, etc. The son rang up the guy and just the man-voice, got $50 knocked off my bill (son didn't make reference to his own personal dealings or anything). The sum wasn't much but it was the fact that he could get a deduction when I couldn't that really got to me!! I don't know where I went wrong (other than I was female), but having said that I know plenty of hard-nosed female hagglers.

    Beautiful hats - hope the family appreciates them. But even if they don't, I know you'd have enjoyed making them and that's important. ~ Libby

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    1. A couple of the reviews I read said that the company keeps calling up to five times if you don't sign right away and they'll lower their price along the way. That sort of thing ticks me off! The guy told me if I wait until after April the price will go up because their summer labor costs are higher. That makes no sense to me at all!

      I'm just the opposite with exercise. I like the machines better than walking around the neighborhood. I'm afraid I'll get tired too far from home!

      You have more will power than me. I couldn't have a bag of cookies for company in the cupboard for very long before I'd be opening it. That's what always gets me in trouble around the holidays. I have the company cookies and have to keep replacing them because I eat them.

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    2. Higher summer labor costs make perfect sense to me. Roofing in the summer isn't as pleasant as spring or fall. I'm sure it's not as bad up there as it is here, but as the temperature rises, the number of people willing to spend the day on a roof decreases. When the labor pool is smaller, business owners have to pay more to get workers.

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    3. The issue we have up here is that new builds are really going strong and roofing companies have to compete for labor and good roofers would rather do new than old. But heat makes senses, too.

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  4. Okay these hats are great! Can I be a part of your family? Do you ever sell these on Etsy?

    I dispise these companies that won't give an estimate unless "the man" is there. I had a window company tell me this after I called them, not a man, but little ole me. When he said that to me I told him I did not want to work with them if that was their attitude. He said that it was necessary because a woman will end up telling us she has to ask her husband. I asked, "Is this 1950? I called you. The appointment is canceled. And a tip, how do you know there is a husband and not another woman?" and I hung up. While you know I have a husband and I am not married to a woman, it just bugged the !@#$! out of me so much that I didn't wish to give them my money. I've had 2 companies pull that @#!$ and not once has my husband been told, we can't do this unless your wife is home. Nope, get your money elsewhere bubb!

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    1. I have given hats to the senior hall to sell, but that's it. I'm thinking about making them for the Purse Project my Red Hat Society is doing for next Christmas.

      Isn't that crazy in this century to ask for the husband! I had rehearsed saying, "This isn't 1950," if needed. Calling my brother for reinforcement irritated me enough but it happened so fast I couldn't say anything. I will call him myself, but I didn't want him to have to talk front of the company representative and I don't need him to tell me what to do.

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  5. I really like those hats too! Very nice colors.
    Our roof cost 17,000 quite a few years ago so I am not surprised. And we got the... lots of men on the roof in a short period of time...deal!
    Good luck
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I'm glad to hear your cost! I guess sticker shock hit me when I heard the price. The only other price I've heard recently was $8,000 for a small house that the son-I-wish-I-had knew about. That price was from a guy who worked alone and that doesn't appeal to me. I really do like the idea of the roof getting done in one day.

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    2. I think all your hats look nice. Expect judgement, maybe even impulse control may well be an issue for some of those patients in skilled nursing you described. If so, probably when aides serving them they likely kindly gently do a hand-over-hand limiting a patient, give immediate verbal instruction as likely some short term memory issues, or would be careful to not offer lots of choices for handling cause they know the patients. People coming in from the outside wouldn't know but aides might stay out of it cause their actions can be misinterpreted none too favorably sometimes by other individuals who don't understand the limitations. Socially appropriate rules don't always apply for some SNF patients I can attest to knowing from experience in those settings however nice the place. :-). I think it's admirable that your group gives them so much attention throughout the year as some may really be starved for it.

      Yes, I, too, have wondered if I became one of that small percentage of people who go into a SNF if my mental facilities would all be intact as some people's are, or if I would be one whose medical condition would include a diminished mental state and what would I be like? That said, I've seen and provided services for a number of individuals who were sharper and had more positive outlooks on life than some people on the outside in their age fifties and up. One such accomplished woman in her own right professionally, was also the mother of a prominent TV network newsman. There were others, even over ninety years.

      I've also been annoyed at efforts to want both spouses, but was told if only one, bidders would find from experience the other might overrule so they don't want to waste their time risking that. I think pricing to a woman isn't always as negotiable, so the more we can familiarize ourselves with intricacies of job to casually inject as we go along, or with questions to ask we can let them know we're not pushovers. Getting several bids is a must. My husband rode heard on exterior house painters observing daily for various things they did. Ironically, he died the night they had finished the job. Years earlier, when he was still living, I got annoyed with car sales people catering to him even when I told them I was purchasing the car.

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    3. What you're saying backs up a suggestion I was going to make for next year...of limiting the number of cookie choices. Each of us brought two bags thus we ended up with at least a dozen choices per tray. A lot of people had trouble picking out a couple. And you are right, the staff at the home does stay away while we're there in the dining area. They tell us that our holiday gift bags are the only thing a few of them get for Christmas. That will be me since I don't have children and grandchildren.

      I had typed out a list of questions for the roofing guy and I was hands-on for every step of designing and overseeing the building of our house. I've helped my dad and husband with tons of DIY projects. I'd stack my knowledge base up against the average guy any day and I really don't like salesman who treat me like we can't.

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  6. My roof cost $3,500 in 2004.(without replacing the boards under the shingles). We had another estimate at $5,500(with replacing the boards). We lived in a ranch so the roof is larger than a colonial in my neighborhood. $14,000 seems high to me.
    The worst is car shopping, the salesmen either ignored me or used high pressure sales tactics.

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    1. At least with buying a car if you don't like it after you bought it you can sell it again. This guy brought a 2 inch square pieces of shingle to pick out colors! No way would that work for me.

      Funny thing, I called my brother today and he said, "I would shop around." He said once they got the old shingles off and saw the boards underneath they jacked up the price from $14,000 to $19,000! He wasn't happy but felt he had no choice but to move forward.

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    2. Keep asking around until you find someone who has used a straight up roofing company. Ask at your gym, your new group of friends, anyone you talk to!

      Good companies don't have to do cold calling and they don't pull the trick they used on your brother. It should have been stated up front how much extra it could be if there were problems with the roof sheathing. Nor does a good company say anything about a husband needing to be present. Good grief! If you ask around enough, you'll start hearing the names of the reputable roofing companies. Most composition shingle roofs last 20-25 years, and two layers can be applied before the shingles have to come off.

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    3. Good advice, Lauren. My husband and my dad before him always replaced our roofs over the years---cottages, houses and rental property so I've never had contact with roofing companies before.

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  7. Our tile-looking metal roof was $9,000 for 2,200 sq ft house and one out building. In 1994! Get another bid or two for the same product? And ASK for any discounts ... senior citizen, AARP, AAA, cash payment (I got 10% off at my dentist for cash! Check)

    Love those hats. What a great idea!! You sure get a lot done!!

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    1. $9,000 was a lot of money 23 years ago! But for metal, I suppose it was worth it, especially in areas where they have fires.

      I am going to get more bids. Supposedly they gave me the "sister discount" and all that did was irritate me. I hate the game playing with discounts---one price for one person and another for someone else. I can see a discount for cash though, with no paperwork.

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    2. Still paperwork, but no payment plan with a chance of NOT getting paid. Charge cards cost the Dentist 7% so paying by check saves him that! That roof is still going strong!

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    3. I forgot about them charging merchants every time we use a credit card...I rarely do though.

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  8. Wow, roofs are expensive. The two times we has new roofs insurance paid for them. I'm not sure I could afford a new roof at today's prices. Once people reach the stage of needing a nursing home all filters are usually gone, they will say or do just about anything. Your hats look wonderful. I've never done a hat with double thickness, just not that cold here.

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    1. The roofing companies do have no-interest financing plans. I asked the guy what happens if you die before it's paid off and I couldn't get a straight answer out of him other than, "Then you don't have to worry about it." A few more questions later didn't help clarify if a lean goes on the property or the estate or what. I guess we're just supposed to not worry about little details like that.

      The lack of old people filters can be entertaining unless you hear yourself saying and doing things you wish you weren't. LOL

      Double thickness hats are hard to find in store bought hats but most people love them for the warmth.

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  9. I got a big laugh out of the roof guy making his pitch to you and your dog. It seems like this company needs to join the 21st century! I've been lucky in contractors who treat me like an intelligent person who can make my own decisions.
    Love your hats. -Jean

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    1. At least I know my outgoing phone message gives the impression I wanted it to do. LOL

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  10. I thought you knitted those hats, but you said you used your mother's loom? I have made crocheted afghans for my 4 children and all 9 grandchildren and am on my last cross stitched baby quilt for them all to have for their first child. I'm not a Party Girl like you, so I have lots of time to keep my idle hands from the devil's workshop. LOL LOL

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    1. Loom knitting is knitting, looks exactly the same. I've made hats with needles too. I would go devil-crazy doing as much cross stitch as you do. Your stuff is beautiful, though. I started a cross stitch in the 70s and only work on the piece when someone is in the hospital and I'm in the waiting room. I've got a square inch to go.

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  11. Those hats are great. My aunt used a loom to make some jackets. She's far more patient than most of the family, but even she gave it up after five of them. But my goodness, were they warm. Remembering my jacket, I have a good sense of how warm those hats would be.

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    1. They last forever, too. I can't imagine making five sweaters on a loom, though. What a great gift that would be.

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  12. Those hats are fabulous and brought a tear to my eye. My mom knitted hats and slippers for everyone all the time! I didn't appreciate how much work went into them then...like so much I failed to appreciate, I guess. But I do now and I love that you shared yours with us in photos!

    Give my regards to Levi...I hope he says "yes" to the new roof. ;)

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    1. Kids are kids and accept everything as their due and that's what we were back then.

      Levi might have to go to a kennel when the roof goes on so he's happy to wait.

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