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 25, 2018

Time Marches On



Saturday was one of those rare days where I got a big girl serving of family time topped like a cherry on an ice cream sundae with a wish that I could be a young again. It was the first tine this spring that was warm enough to go without a jacket and the sun was bright enough to require sunglasses as I drove out to the boondocks to my oldest niece’s log cabin in the woods. They built the house thirty some years ago and I love it as much today was when it was new. There’s a peacefulness that comes over me when I open the old fashioned, wooden screen door that slams with a thud. That sound calls back to my youth and it says, “Hey, I remember you, welcome home!” I’ve never lived in a log cabin but I grew up in an era when everyone had wooden screen doors that made that sound. Usually it was a soft thud but when my brother rushed in and out it could be a sharp banging. Mom got so mad at him for slamming the screen door once too often that she made him stand at the door and open and close it a hundred times. 

From her house, my niece drove us to a different boondocks than I’m used to going, to a brand new house where a party was going on for a one year old boy who shares the same name as my dog. Of the nine (soon to be eleven) kids under four who form the newest generation in my family, he’s the only one who will carry on the family name. When they found out the sex of the baby, his grandmother claims I was the first person they called because they knew how much I was rooting for a boy who will keep our surname from dying out. I doubt that story is true but it seems to be part of the family folklore now and that's okay. It may be the only thing Levi will ever know about his great-great aunt Jean when he grows up.

We left the party before they served the cake and I teased my niece for “rushing me out” before I got my sugar fix so she took me to a place near the lake where I spent all my summers growing up, to an ice cream store that still has the same name but, boy, has it changed. We got cupcakes and took them to the old family cottage that she now owns, where we had tea and cake on the screen porch. I told her, “I never tire of this view” and although it’s changed a bit (trees die and others grow) that lake view reminds me of the days when I spent hours playing in and on the water---swimming, canoeing, sailing and fishing. There were also the days when we’d put peanut butter sandwiches and Orange Crush pop in an old Army surplus knapsack and we “cottage kids” spent the day walking around the lake's shoreline. In those days there were only the six-seven cottages on lake and most of the land butting up to the water was farmer’s grazing fields alternating with wooded acreage. We loved the woods because one of them had jungle-like vines that were strong enough for us to play Tarzan and Jane and the other one had catalpa trees aka to us, bean pod trees. 

My niece is doing some redecorating inside the cottage, her second reincarnation of the place. She’s going from a fun, eclectic ‘40s vibe that I loved to the growing-in-popularity mid-century modern. Slowly the cottage of my childhood is disappearing and the ‘60s look of my niece’s youth is taking its place. Both my nieces are fans of the Mad Men series and my oldest watches it for the decor in the scenes like I used to watch Little House on the Prairie for the frontier antiques. Time marches on.

Time Marches On. Do you know that Tracy Lawrence song? I hear it on Country Classic Channel every time I drive to the boondocks. I’m fascinated with how a song writer can take 171 words and tell a story that covers decades. I’m going to hear it three times in May. I have appointments lined up to finally get my tooth fixed that I broke off in February. The dentist will drill down the old molar and its huge filling, built up a core and set a new cap. I hate getting caps but what are you going to do if you still like chewing food and you’re not ready to suck all your meals up through a straw.  

Have you heard about the movement nicknamed Straw Wars? ‘National Skip the Straw Day’ took place in February so I’m late to the party. If you are too, let me introduce you to the cause. According to National Geographic Magazine Americans use 500 million plastic straws DAILY. They are a particularly insidious pollution because they are often the cause of death for marine animals. Plastic straws are an unnecessary pollutant because there are Eco-friendly wax coated paper straws and reusable stainless steel to take their place or we can go straw-less altogether. I watched a video of a sea turtle getting a straw removed from his nose, putting the big guy in obvious, bloody pain that lasted eight minutes before they got the whole thing out. That made me a believer in getting my own Eco-friendly straws to carry in my purse. Time marches on but we all need to be marching with it to solve the problems mankind created. Do what we can, where we can is a promise we can all make to the newest generation in our families. ©

Warning: Strong language at the beginning of the video.


24 comments:

  1. I grew up with a screen door in the back. I can hear the sound now. It's funny the sounds from our childhood that we never forget. I grew up in Fla. with no AC, but many oscillating fans and a train ran at night in the near distance. All those, I can still hear in my mind and it takes me back in time and it can feel rather sad, as it's all gone now.

    And man has indeed made a mess of our planet. We all better change or we'll reach the point of no return and the big corporations aren't going to change, especially with the mindset of the republicans and trump with deregulation of environmental protections and undoing so much, not to mention this Pruitt fella. It's all very discouraging and to think 40% of the people support trump. I just don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They say if you like antiques most collectors are trying to buy back their childhoods which probably explains why I have a small, vintage oscillating fan in my bedroom. I can hear trains at night where I live now. Come spend the night, you can experience two of your three childhood sounds.

      Pruitt is evil if you believe in clean water and air! Fortunately a lot of states are not lowering their standards to match his lowering of federal laws. I believe that even Trump's supporters are weakening in their trust in the guy. The proof will be in the next election. There is hope.

      Delete
  2. Oh that would be nice if our favorite blogs and frequent commenters could get together once a year to really meet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Built and they will come." I've heard of blogger convention but I'm pretty sure its for the kind of blogs that are trying to make money with them, not personal bloggers. :(

      Delete
  3. Jean, I really loved this blog. It remembered the time when I as young, my family went to spend some time at my aunt's & uncle's cabin along Lake Huron. It was such a special time. Uncle Jesse kept yelling us about a place called Grindstone City and he would take us there. I was so excited and one day he took us there. It was along the lake and I kept looking for this city. He said we're here. Whoa! Where is the city I asked. He said look down in the water. Grindstone City was no more then two gigantic stones in the shape of a circle. That was Grindstone city. We laughed and even to this day I will never forgot the look that Uncle Jesse had when he laughed at me. These are the things that you remember until the day you die. Aunt Bertha and Uncle Jesse gave us more then gifts, they gave us memories.
    Now that video, Oh my God. I will never use a plastic straw again and I'll make sure no one else will. That poor turtle. Thanks for showing ua that video.
    Enjoy Wednesday Jean. See ya my friend.


    Cruisin Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love your memories of your aunt and uncle. And you are right about memories being wonderful gifts.

      The video is hard to watch but I'm glad I did because you'll never look at a plastic straw the same way again.

      Delete
  4. I eschew straws; have for a long time. Another insidious form of pollution is those scrubby microbeads in facial and hand soaps. They are supposed to be outlawed, but they turn up in stuff anyway.

    Banging screen doors is a familiar sound from so many people's childhood! One from my own is the sound of cars driving on a brick street at my grandmother's house as I lay upstairs at night. And the call of mourning doves is another.

    A blogger meet-up can be anything you want it to be. It's as easy as picking a central location and a date. You know how you love to plan! LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gave up scrubs with microbeads a year or two ago There again, there are other products that don't contain them so it's an easy thing to give up. They have gutted fish from Lake Michigan and found them in large enough quantities that they could be seen with the naked eye.

      I'm not sure I've ever heard a car driving on a brick street but I hear mourning doves every night. I love them. So when Mary above comes to hear my fan and trains you can come hear my doves. LOL

      Delete
  5. Oh the screen door slamming brought back a ton of memories. Namely, my mom screaming at us to not slam the door. :-)
    Is this "cabin" on Lake Michigan? Nothing better than a home away from home for your soul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish it was on Lake Michigan. If it was my niece would probably have to get me a police escort for me to leave. I'll bet our mothers weren't the only ones who got mad about slamming screen doors. My brother only moved in one speed---fast---so he slammed the door more often than I did.

      Delete
  6. Yeah--I got yelled at for letting the screen door bang shut--I was always running, so by the time mother yelled, I was too far away to pay any attention. I am so very lucky to still have my home places lived in by family. I can still drive out into the boonies, sit on the porch and see the same view I had as a kid. Now that daughter Pam is away for while, I think I'll just stop there some day, sit on the porch and get the view I had while raising my kids in that house. HAH!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm surprised Pam is going to let the house sit so long without renting it out. I'm glad you can get your fill of porch sitting though.

      You and my brother gave our mothers a few headaches I'll bet, with the door slamming.

      Delete
  7. What a neat place to go to recharge your mind and batteries. I have a lake like that from my past the sadly I now only get to visit via pictures from my childhood friend who still lives there.
    I just recently heard of straw wars and have decided to refuse those in restaurants in the future and drink from the glass or cup like I do at home. Small protest but at least a protest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My niece has invited me several times to come spend the night at the lake. I will probably do it this summer but the down side is that the dog will have to go in a kennel. He'd be okay but I couldn't trust people coming and going not to let him out and he'd be gone.

      The key to winning the straw wars is to get businesses and chains to make the switch to paper straws. I brought a yellow paper straw to a restaurant today and when an employee came to bus the table she remarked about it. So I used the opportunity to depart a little education.

      Delete
  8. That video is a heartbreaker. I bought stainless steel straws for Dad. He liked a straw.

    We had a vine that we used as a Tarzan swing that swung out over a stream. So cool.

    That mid-century look is very popular. I keep seeing the dressers used in living rooms on Pinterest. I got rid of my mother and father's triple dresser after Dad died. I really didn't have a place for it, and it didn't fit into my decor, but I do like seeing them reused.

    I remember that screen door sound, too. A nice sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw another video of a sea turtle getting a plastic fork pulled out of his nose. That poor creature! I don't think I could give up straws in restaurant but I will buy myself a stainless steel straw when I find one. The papers work well in the meantime.

      I hated mid-century when it first came around and it's growing on it now that my niece has embraced its comeback. I used to have a lot of lamps and pottery that was designed to go with that style. Too bad I still don't have it. My mom had a very few pieces of it at the cottage and that's what my niece remembers. You always want what was new in your grandparent's era That's why antique collecting and prices go up and down. I wish I could have a blank canvas again. I'd go beach cottage decor with washed out whites, blues and salmon/pinks.

      Delete
  9. What a lovely post...well up till the poor sea turtle, but that is so necessary to spread awareness! Thank you Jean. I am going to look for an eco-straw myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! I found paper straws at the grocery store and now have the pack in my purse. Amazon has the stainless steel but I'm hoping to find one locally before I order one online.

      Delete
  10. You say things so beautifully. And I know what you mean about the cottage. So far, our old family cottage (my cousins have it now) is relatively the same, save for a wall knock-out several years ago, new windows. But it looks the same. True, there are a few newer things that each of the cousins has added to it, but it's still the same place my mom and aunt grew up in. Sort of the same with mine. We still have much of the 1963 furniture, with some additions from home as things have been replaced here. New art on the walls but the same look and feel. Rick and I fight over one badly worn chair and the sofa. He says "It's the cottage, it's ok to look like this" and I say "But it's uncomfortable!" But one day it will be someone else's. Will they whitewash the knotty pine walls? Carpet it? Change the kitchen? (I'd do that in a heartbeat if I could afford it) or knock it down and build a big house. I'm glad I won't be around to see.

    On another note, thanks for popping in to today's post. I'm delighted to know I wasn't the only five-year-old who grew up with a collie. Great dog! And I'm sorry about the Hoosier cabinet. I love the idea of things staying with the family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cottages are the source of so much fun in most families. I have remodeled and redecorated our family cottage a dozen times in my head and never once would have thought about mid-century modern, even though my mom did have some of those '60s pieces. I'm so glad my niece owns the place so I can follow its reincarnations over time. I love whitewashed walls! We think a lot a like!

      I enjoyed the memories your blog brought to mind.

      Delete
  11. I've known about the problems straws create, but never really thought much about it in detail. I've never used straws, even as a kid. Every now and then I'll get one in a drink at a restaurant, but I just take it out and set it aside. A good first step would be for restaurants not to give them out unless someone asks for them.

    One quick amendment: I never used a straw for drinking, but I do remember my cousins and I tearing off one end and blowing the paper wrappers at one another. That was about the screen door era.

    There are times I really envy property owners. I never have, and never will, but the thought of having such a place to go to -- well, it's special. I'm glad you had such a good time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Back when you were blowing the paper wrappers at one another and we were blowing them toward the ceiling to make them stick they were wax covered paper straws. I've never used straws at home but I do at restaurants because of germs on the edges of the glasses from busboys, waitresses and dishwashers. I've only been to a few places since I started carrying my own and no one has said anything. If they do I'm prepared with a little Eco-friendly message about saving wildlife.

      You have your boats to ground you to memories of long ago, I suspect, and trust me others envy that.

      Delete
  12. I have always wanted one of my homes to have a wooden screen door just to bring back those childhood memories. Interesting how many love that sound.

    It's funny how people decorate depending on age. I love 40's decor, but I'd never think to decorate ala Mad Men or any decade after that because I lived through them and they are not interesting to me as a decorating choice. All that stuff is cool to see as a museum piece or a nostalgia, but not in my daily life. Still, if someone is passionate about it, they will likely do it right.

    HUGE "single use plastic" awareness going on around here. There are lots of kids' crusades to ban plastic straws -- a group of elementary school kids spoke to an environmental group my husband is in and asked them to add it to their activist agenda. Any plastic that is used once and thrown away (plastic serving utensils is another big one) is discouraged. A couple of years ago I started carrying a stainless steel straw in car for Starbucks drive through (with my reusable mug). I don't like the sound or feel of stainless steel though, so recently I bought hard plastic multiple use straws -- still plastic, but I use them over and over and over, soaking them on hot soapy water between uses. They seem to get clean. Hope so. I noticed on a recent trip to Hawaii many places used the wax covered paper straws. All plastic bags are banned from grocery stores there too. Most people bring their own or pay 5 cents for a paper bag at the check out.

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been using the wax covered paper straws for a couple of weeks now, until I can find a stainless steel one. I grew up with paper straws but they begin to break down near the end of my drinks. Amazon sells stainless steel with rubber tips for your lips and little bushes for cleaning them. They are in sets too big for me so I'm looking locally before I order. So happy to hear that kids are joining the ban the plastic movement!

      Delete