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, December 27, 2017

Cards, Cows and Another Year Under my Belt



Christmas has come and gone and not to brag but I got some nice comments written in cards that came in the mail. One of them said: “I really enjoy reading your Christmas letters. You have such a great sense of humor. I think you should have been a writer for a comedy show.” Instead of taking the compliment for what it was I thought about calling Allen on the phone and joking, “What’s with the SHOULD have been? I AM a comedy writer, I just have an exclusive audience limited to the names on my holiday card list.” 

Allen went on to say, “I always have great memories of the New Year’s Days we spent with your family. Your dad was so friendly, always a smile. I remember him doing magic tricks…” Yup, my dad was that guy who pulled quarters out from behind little ears and did magic tricks with cards to entertain himself and our friends. I tried to learn a few---and he was a patient teacher---but my sleight of hand moves were more like crawling up the rungs on a ladder. They got me where I needed to go but no one would mistake my moves for “smooth.” If there had been videos back then mine would have been labeled how-NOT to do False Cuts, Double Lifts and Pinky Breaks. My brother, on the other hand, did master the hide the quarter trick. I saw him do it with his two year old great-grand son recently. Not sure he’d fool anyone over ten years old but by that age if a kid knows how the trick is done they’re smart enough to keep quiet about it so they can keep collecting those quarters.

Allen’s mom and dad and mine were life-long friends and I can’t think of New Year’s without remembering the many sleep-overs he and his sister and me and my brother had together on New Year’s Eve when our folks and four of their friends would go off to another place for a house party or out on the town. Then they’d all gather in the morning where we kids stayed the night to cook a huge brunch before taking us kids to the roller rink for the afternoon. That tradition marked over a dozen New Year’s in my life. 

When I remember how close my folk’s circle of friends were I have to admit to being jealous. But it was a different era where people were less apt to move out of town, making it easier to nurture life-time friendships. They played cards every month for decades and took vacations together. Allen’s folks and mine also both had cottages on the same lake. Ohmygod, do I dare tell you about the time five or six Holstein cows got out of their field and Allen and I ended up in a tree to get away from them? We were up there so long that he had to poop. Yup, he did it, hung his bare butt over the branch of the tree and dropped his "little logs” down to the ground to the delight of the cows who all took turns smelling what fell from the sky. I thought we’d die up there in the tree but eventually as cows apparently all do, they did go home at milking time. 

So now you know the backstory on why I love my vintage De Laval advertising tin cows that are grazing on top of the doorway molding in my kitchen. For years I had to walk past a cow pasture on summer days to get to the grocery store where we spent our magic-trick quarters on ice cream cones and I was very brave so long as the cows were behind their electric fence. But after that day in the tree I swear the cows knew us and a few would come greet us and walk the length of the pasture with us from their side of the fence. In the animal kingdom when you’ve smelled another creature’s poop it means sometime and wouldn’t we all like to know that they were thinking. It probably went something like: “Hey, there’s that kid who eats Wheaties and bananas for breakfast and loves drinking our milk!” Allen ought to count his lucky stars that I didn’t become a comedy writer because I’ve got other stories about him I could exploit for cheap laughs. He was a supporting character in many of my childhood adventures.

Here I am with just New Year’s Eve left to get through in my fifth year of holidays as a widow. And I fared just fine. No ghosts in the house to haunt me with what-ifs, no bad flash-backs or pity parties. And I’m hoping to fill New Year’s Eve with good memories, a little sparkling cider, a few great movies and a small platter of party snacks that won’t make me fat---or fatter I should say, since on January second I start a take-no-prisoners diet that will have me begging for someone to put me out of my misery. ©

* Above - Pastoral Scene Cows Resting, painting by Janette Marvin. Below is my advertising tin cow collection. The three on the left are over a hundred years old. On their backsides they advertise cream separators for farms.



24 comments:

  1. I'm right there with ya on the dieting!

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    1. I suspect there will be a lot of us...too much stress eating in 2017.

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  2. Oh Jean what a great memory. It's true my parents had a circle of friends as well and they played cards and we kids all hang out together. It was holidays and vacation in the same way. Lovely memory for me today.. Thank you.
    I am glad your holiday was nice. Happy New Year!

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    1. Glad my memory triggers one of your own. My best friend's mother (in town) had a card group, too. At least I remember women sitting around card tables each with a fancy tea cup...each one different. It's too bad that kind of socializing fell out of popularity because they did a lot of talking around those tables.

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  3. Sweet memories.....and hilarious cow story.

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    1. I keep trying to remember if Allen and I ever told anyone in family that story. I need to ask my brother... LOL

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  4. The pooping from the tree is priceless. Allen has keep on your good side, you know too much about him.

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    1. We all have a lot of great memories of being at our cottages all summer. Even when it rained we spent hours playing Monopoly or poker...yes, they let us kids play poker. Allen's folks had a long table that seated 10 or 12 and we kids often filled it up.

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  5. My parents also played cards once a month ... 2-3 different sets of friends, so Sat nights were always booked. Then the girls had a euchre club and the guys a poker group. They took turns hosting and of course, all of the kids became buddies as well.

    Great memories! Thanks!!

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    1. Amazing how so many of us have the same memories. I think euchre was one of the games my mom's card club played. I wonder if they were influenced by something like a TV show. 'I Love Lucy'...?

      My oldest niece belongs to an all girl's card club that has been going for several decades but she's the only 'younger generation' person I know that does that.

      It's funny but one of my Gathering Girls friends wants to get us started playing cards. I'm game, but we need to be hosted and so far no one has volunteered. I can't do it in the winter because my driveway not good for older people to walk up if it's icy outside and two of us lives too far out of town to be practical in the winters. But you live in a condo community and could sure get a card club going if you are still looking for gal pals.

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  6. Oh, my goodness, what a story! And your theory as to why the cows later seemed so attached to you...hilarious, yet oddly reasonable.

    I have a tremendous affection for cows, and my entire kitchen is decorated in black and white Holsteins. Cows in general are of great interest to me, and it is not uncommon for me to ask my husband to pull over in order for me to get a better look at some belted Galloways or a particularly nice herd of Brown Swiss or Herefords.

    The fact that you have such great memories of a childhood well spent is but one reason you are a terrific writer. You can pull together these memories and see a common theme and thread of humanity and human behaviour; as someone said, Times Change But People Don't. You see Human Nature across Time and show it to the reader.

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    1. I want people to know that I don't pay you to say nice things about my writing. LOL But I want you to know that in my world liking the way I write is the most treasured compliment a person can give me. I got the ability to see humanity across time as a gift from my dad.

      I'm the same way about seeing cows in pastures! I've often stopped and watched them from the side of the road. I also have a cow theme in my kitchen.

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  7. My wife being a farm girl she's always given gifts that include a cow. When we were at Cozumal, Mexico I took a picture of Mary Lou sitting in a chair looking like cow.
    I wonder if you are as cold as I am? It's freezing around here. New Years Eve, we done do much, watch some TV, watch the ball falling in New York, kiss my wife and then go to sleep and no fooling around, just sleeping. I'm at that age to just enjoy sleeping. ha,ha,ha. Happy New Year Jean my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It's so cold here it's not funny. Below zero right now and it tries very hard to get to five above during the day. I am wearing so many layers of clothing I look like a mummy.

      I love my sleep, too.

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  8. Really cold here in northern New York too! -20F when I woke this morning.
    I read your previous post and comments but didn't get a chance to comment. Reading David Sedaris is good but try to find him reading his own pieces. He used to do a lot of pieces for the This American Life radio program.
    My mother was a majong player and each week it was in someone else's apartment. And yes my parents had certain circles of friends that got together regularly over the years. We kids were always around other kids. There really wasn't much opportunity to be solitary! There were a lot of us and we did a lot together...I don't mean that in a family sense but there were a lot in our generation and it was felt in all aspects of life!
    Have a Happy New Year and let's hope for a lot more sanity!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion about Sedaris.

      I'm still amazed at how many of us have common memories of our parents playing cards. There has GOT to be something that explains that. I know the Victories played a lot of cards but don't recall it mentioned in Colonial America. I think it's easier to explain why card clubs fell out of fashion with women going into the work force and having less time.

      Happy New Year to you too!

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  9. My parents played cards with friends, too: canasta. I'm still Christmas-card friends with the daughter of my parent's best friends. We used to spend time together every Christmas. I haven't seen her in 48 years, but we still send a Christmas note in our cards.

    Great memories, Jean. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm ready to get back on my diet, too. I've been a very naughty girl. It will be a relief.

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    1. That's what Allen and his sister are too me, too---Christmas-card friends now. But we all still write in them and have for the past 50 years.

      I got 24 cards this year, sent 40. Next year I'm cutting down to 24. It's a tradition I wish wasn't a victim of Facebook but that's one tradition that won't be coming back.

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  10. Social customs have changed over the years. We had a few close friends we'd invite over for dinner, and vice versa. It was good for the kids' socialisation. But, no more! Now, its easier to suggest to friends and family that we meet outside, at a cafe for a meal, or coffee. For me, its because I value my personal space; slothfulness; and, on my own, the logistics for shopping, prepping, etc are just too much.

    For me, Xmas and B'day cards went by the wayside after e-cards and the internet! It doesn't make any sense when postage is greater than cost of the card. ~ Libby



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    1. Postage over his no where near the cost of cards over here but I just don't think people have or want to take the time to send them anymore, especially since it's so much easier to keep in contact with people via their Facebook posts.

      But you're right. Social customs change as they have since societies began. The age of computers just makes them change faster than with previous generations.

      Hope you had a good holiday.

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  11. What a great post Jean! I talked a little about the card thing too, which has continually changed over the years. I wish you a safe and wonderful New Year filled with smiles and peace. Hugs...RO

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    1. Thank you, RO and I wish you the same. I have a feeling that I'll outlive sending Christmas cards out. They've become a victim to Facebook.

      I just saw the miniature food on your blog. Fascinating! I have some in my dollhouse but it's not eatable.

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  12. Only the Shadow knows for sure.
    I have nice Holstein cows too--on my kitchen shelf, and regrettably, they are covered in dust. When will I get in the mood to clean?

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