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, October 17, 2020

Pandemic Park Promises

There was a time---before the pandemic---when I tried to balance out the themes of my blog posts. By that I mean I’d alternate what I called arty-farty or deep thoughts themes with sentimental journeys down Memory Lane or play-by-play accounts of my daily routines. Every so often I’d throw in my attempt at writing humor or a current events post because sometimes that elephant in the room is too big to ignore. Before the pandemic I also routinely wrote movie and book reviews and reports on the lectures and travel club presentations I attended, none of which are back on anyone’s calendar since large gatherings still aren’t allowed in my state. Then there’s the dog’s antics that are always good for a paragraph or two. Pity parties, insecurities, widowhood issues, outings with friends and conversations in my head have all made the pages of my blog. And for a while I was obsessed with filling up my biweekly word count with my adventures and missteps in the world of downsizing and e-Baying. Expect a few more downsizing posts because---well, just because moving related issues will still be a major focus in my life for the 6-7 months. I truly miss the things I can’t write about right now because that outside stimulus isn't there to inspire me or anyone else living in Pandemic Park.

“We worry about tomorrow like it’s promised.”
— Anonymous

But what I miss the most is human contact, feeling part of a herd of people all joined together because we had a common interest---if only for an hour or two---in the same subject matter. If the pandemic has taught me anything it’s taught me that I didn’t value causal interactions with others nearly high enough. I need them to feed my soul and hunger for gathering blogger's fodder. It’s also taught me that most humans want to be part of a herd whether it's the selfish vs the selfless, the wise vs the foolish or the kumbaya crowd who just wants to have a unified society vs the arm-chair warriors who want to fight about everything. And oh how I wish I still had my illusions back regarding how I used to believe most people were smart enough to believe the science and logic coming out of world health organizations over the P.T. Barnum---“there's a sucker born every minute”---in the White House. 

 “Each day I have to make a new promise to myself.
To be braver than my past.
To be stronger than my struggle....”
— Chrissie Pinney

I've always known the entire universe is made up of polar opposite energy forces pushing against one another, every particle in space, every human action and emotion. But for just one week, just one day I wish it wasn’t so much work to keep the energy force centered and inching ever so slowly in a positive direction---if in fact historians a hundred years from now will look back and view our current decade as a turning point toward a higher plane of existence. We’ve already had a super-sized, mind-altering turbulent decade in my lifetime. Maybe we only get one of those per lifetime, counted out like candy to greedy children? I hope not. I hope everything we’ve been going through with the World-Wide Pandemic, the Black Lives Matter, Save the Planet and the Me Too Movement turns out to be more than just minor bumps on the timeline of world history. And I sincerely hope Mother Nature is finally getting our attention with her bitch-slapping us with massive forest fires, floods and hurricanes. She needs our help, people!

“I promise you, these storms are only trying to wash you clean.”
— Jessica Katoff

Writing and reading blog posts during a pandemic takes more effort, does it. There are more deep thought posts, more expressions of frustration... and gratitude for the small things we still can enjoy. There are far more political and current events posts, more comparing pandemic experiences across the blog community. Less fluffy, silly stuff. It’s nearly impossible to know how to strike a balance of topics so that we bloggers don’t turn off those who have read us in the past and expect a certain level of whatever we were known to deliver before the pandemic took all those implied promises away. All I can say is that writing blogs is my lifeline. It makes me feel like I’m part of that yin/yang of opposing herds thingie I mentioned up above. All this windup is me trying to say that I can’t always make you laugh. I can’t always make you cry, but I can promise to always show you what’s on my mind. ©

“I don’t have much to offer, but I promise you can have the best of me.”
— Anonymous

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Over Active Bladders

Over active bladder, is there anything I won’t write about? I guess not. Today, I’m crossing over that line, exploring a topic that demure little blog writers should probably ignore. Maybe it’s all those commercials they play on TV for over-the-counter drugs to cure a problem I really didn’t think was a problem that had a cure until they planted that seed in my head. Maybe it’s the fact that every time I go out to a movie with friends I insist on getting an aisle seat in case I need a potty break in the middle of the film that has me wondering. Or maybe it’s the fact that I get up three to four times during the night to pee that has me starting a “liquids in, liquids out” chart to take to my bi-annual checkup coming up in a few weeks (assuming the Pandemic doesn't put the appointment on the back burner. Again). I even used my husband’s old blood sugar monitor a few times to rule out diabetes. Why do I even need a doctor? Give me a computer and a symptom and I can diagnosis myself. But the 64-million dollar question is this: Do I have an over active bladder or an under-sized bladder and do they need to do an autopsy to know which one? Either way, I’ve had it all my life and I can give you a review of every bathroom in the city plus the locations of every unlocked church---they have the cleanest restrooms---and other places like office buildings where I don’t feel compelled to buy peanuts, juice or a pop on my way out. I do, by the way, always buy something if I use a restroom at a gas station in exchange for using their water and toilet paper. It's only fair.

So do you think the doctor will believe me when I tell him my parents were still carrying a coffee can aka emergency toilet in the car when I was ten because I couldn’t even make a 50 minute trip to our cottage without having to go? Do you think he’ll believe me when I tell him a doctor had the eight year old little girl inside of me doing “exercises” to expand my bladder? If my current doctor suggests those same kind of hold-your-urine-until-you-cry-from-the-pain “exercises” I’ll call it elder abuse and dial my local 211 system to report him. All I want to know from him is this: Is there a downside/danger in using the patches that keeps the bladder muscles from contracting as the bladder is filling? And if you're wearing a patch do you have to looking in the mirror to see if the whites in your eyes turn yellow to know when you actually do need to pee again? Those are the kinds of questions the buy-my-product websites don’t answer. If the doctor will answer those questions to my satisfaction, I’ll be out the door and down to the pharmacy in a flash. (I really need a good night's sleep!) And doctor, don’t give me the speech about leakage is common with 'women your age' (which I decidedly don't have). That’s just going to make me feel as old as Moses. Don’t pat my head and say I’m exaggerating or ask if I have a daughter who can come with me the next time. Not that he’s ever treated me that way but I’m ever so diligent in looking for that first time when he'll patronize me with his humor-the-old-woman "charm." 

Note to anyone who might be visiting my house in the next few weeks: Don’t use the toothpicks in the bathroom. They are yucky, full of germs! They are my keeping-track tools and are moved from one pile to another after I pee. It’s a cheaters’ counting trick I learned by watching programs on the Food Network like Mystery Diners, Restaurant Impossible and Restaurant Stakeout. We all probably do quirky things like that that others coming into our homes wouldn’t figure out in a hundred years but as I age I’m finding myself wanting to leave notes explaining myself to that anonymous social worker I fear so much. You know who she is, she’s the newly minted professional who might one day be coming to visit us all at a certain age to take our mental competency temperatures and could find us “off” enough to be incarcerated in a place where we'd have no access to toothpicks and other quirky things that she doesn’t understand. Young people, what are we going to do with them except wait until they get old and have one giant 'Aha! Moment' of understanding of what it’s like to be old and know stuff young people don’t.

Oh, in case you don’t watch the Food Network and have never heard about the counting toothpicks trick, this is how it works: Dishonest bartenders use this trick to count how many times they overcharge customers so they’ll know how many dollars they can sneak out of the till at the end of their shift and still balance. So the moral of this blog post is this: Never-ever use tooth picks in my bathroom or grab one from behind a bar while sitting there watching a stud muffin pulling draft beers from the tap. And let's all hope the bars and restaurants are able to fully open back up again by mid-2021. While I haven't sat at a bar in over a half a century, stud muffin surveillance time sounds pretty darn nostalgic and I might take it up again when we all get out from under house arrest.  ©

Saturday, October 10, 2020

What a Mess!

A man I didn’t know well but who was a good friend and business associate of the son-I-wish-I-had died in his sleep at 51 of still unknown causes. He owned the auction house where we’ve been sending stuff from my house as I’ve been downsizing and where I had planned to send at least two more loads---one before the end of the month with some furniture and miscellaneous antiques and another before listing/selling the house. Tim is still in shock. He’s says the auctioneer had no known health issues, worked hard every day and was very fit. Better than half of Tim’s livelihood depends on having access to an auction house since he deals in closing out estates. Banks call him, real estate agendas call him. People like me downsizing call him. At this point in time, it doesn’t look like anyone in the family can take over the business---even temporarily to deal with the advertised auctions in the queue. He had four brothers, two teen daughters, a contentious x-wife who cheated on him and no will or other paper work to give anyone a legal standing to take charge. What a mess!

It affects me, yes. But at least I have plenty of time and I have confidence that Tim will find another auction house to work with before the spring when I have to switch gears and start getting the house and yard ready to list it. I had decided before hearing this news to quit all my e-Baying except for a few first edition books and send whatever collectibles I still have worth selling to the auction house. I quickly reversed that idea so now it looks like I’ll still be e-Baying until the end of the year even though I'm thoroughly burned out on doing it. Ya, I can hear the voice out there in cyberspace saying, “Why don’t you just donate what’s left?” and to that I’d point out that I just sold a beaded Victorian purse for $49 on e-Bay and I have a few things left like a German built pencil sharper from the 1800s that will sell for over $300 and I’m not willing to let a picker shopping at Goodwill to buy stuff like that for a song then resell it when I still have time left to sell it myself. Down the road closer to the move I will donate, sure, but not now.

This week I met four of my Gathering Girls pals at the Guy Land Cafeteria for a two and a half hour lunch. We decided that we’ll meet two more times this fall, then suspend our bimonthly tradition until the end of January. With flu season coming and holiday and family parties that could turn out to be super spreaders for Covid-19 it seems safer to avoid public places. We always have such a great time and I wish Zoom meetings were an option for us but half the ladies aren’t computer literate enough to even do a Facebook Group chat---we tried that already---so Zoom would never work. Life goes on, and my social life sucks.

I was disappointed to see the manager/chief cook at the Guy Land Cafeteria wearing one of those little 2-3 inch wide plastic shields that rides on your chin that don’t look like they’d contain germs, and germaphobic that I am I asked him if he thinks that style mask does as good of a job as those all the other employees were all wearing. He said the health department approves them and I have no reason to think he’s fibbing about that. I've been going in that place for nearly two decades and I know the guy well enough to have that conversation but at the Breakfast Only Café across the street, where I also stopped this week, I wasn’t as civil. Three of their five employees were wearing their masks with their noses hanging out and when I paid my bill, I said to the cashier, “When you have three people walking about with their noses hanging out of their masks it doesn’t inspire people to come back until after the pandemic has past. You might want to pass that on to our boss.” (Usually I just think these thoughts and never speak up.) She glared at one of the waitress’s near-by who had her nose hanging out, and replied, “I will.” I could tell it bugged her as much as it made me mad. I was mad because I’ve missed going to this place and I wanted to feel safe there. 

However, I'm not sure for how long any of us in my state are going to feel safe going forward. When I got home I heard on the news that the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that our governor "lacks the authority to extend or declare states of emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic." Every thing Governor Whitmer put into place to prevent the spread of the virus---mask requirements in public places, social distancing, limiting capacity in certain businesses, etc., etc. Out the window. Now Democrats are scrambling to stop the reversals of her mandates by rewriting them as health department mandates and you know those will get challenged with new cases working their way up to the state Supreme Court. Some people are determined to live in a super spreader environment. Time to donate to her legal defense fund. They are burying the governor in lawsuits. What a mess!

And in late breaking news: the FBI just arrested thirteen militia members for plotting to kidnap Governor Whitmer then put her on 'trial' for treason followed by executing her. They pooled their money, bought explosives, a high powered laser and even did a couple of practice runs while other militia members planned a takeover of our state capital in an armed insurrection. She's a gutsy woman, though. After the plot was publicly announced she called Trump out for encouraging the militia groups involved when he tweeted "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" He gets daily briefings on all threats foreign and domestic. He had to have known about the plot when he sent that tweet out a couple of times, which makes me wonder how anyone can doubt he dog whistles to the darker side of humanity. Why he does it is the only question in my mind. What a hot mess America is in right now! ©