Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Widow's Kitchen

 


I’d say I’ve got the kitchen as blinged out as I’m going to get it but, knowing me, I’ll find something more to add. I’ve still got a box labeled “small art” to find places for---frames of things under 8”x10” and another box labeled “medium art” of frames under 18” x 24”. I had a lot of stuff hanging on the walls at my old place but I’m hesitating about doing the same thing here and please don’t tell me I’ve gotten bitten by the minimalist bug because I think I’ll die if I have to turn in my Collector of Collections membership card. …still I’m loving the freshly painted, unmarred walls.

Let’s begin the tour starting with the view I get when I open the door from the hall (the photo up above). The cow painting over the sink is a homage to the diary farm near the cottage where I spent all my summers growing up. The farm is still there and when I was a toddler that’s how I knew we were at the lake, when Dad turned at the cow pasture. Today that farm is 3-4 times the size it was when I was a kid. Back then we cottage kids occasionally followed the farmer around when he did his milking. I have a lot of cow and cowpie stories to tell but that’s for another day. Let’s just say the Holsteins have an entire file all to themselves in my memory bank.

The mid-century canister set was one my mom used during that Great Aluminum Era when housewives all lusted after aluminum tole-ware, glasses, trays, bar-ware and canisters like mine. I have the complete set but I’m from the school of displaying things in odd numbers so the tea canister is cohabiting inside the coffee canister. Heaven only knows what they do at night when the lights are out.

The cow by the toothpick dispenser is a Lladro and if you see one for under $245.00 snap it up. That’s what the authorized Lladro dealers sells these antique porcelain cows for today. They’re from the past century and I’m going to cry if it gets chipped. It’s always been in a protective china cabinet until now. My husband hit a home run with that gift and his track record for doing that wasn’t the greatest. Look at me using sports metaphors. 

The Woman’s World magazine needs a proper frame but it’s the only woman’s magazine I didn’t sell off before I moved. I had maybe 30-40 women’s magazines from the 1890s through the ‘30s. I choose this 1932 one to keep because it hit all the right notes to go with my new color scheme plus the dinner table theme fit in the kitchen where I needed the touch of color. But mostly I love the teaser line on the cover because it speaks to my romance reader’s soul, “And They Lived Happily Ever After, a new Jane Story, ‘ Nothing Ever Happens’ and 15 other features.”

The calendar clock. I have two and they keep my head in the right century, month and date. Behind the clock is a plate my niece gave me and it matches the set my mom had at the cottage for years. It’s too big to fit inside any of my cupboards which is a happy-stance because now I get to see it every day. Lily-of-valley was her favorite flower and a close second of mine. 

Over the years I collected a similar china pattern from 50’s when they used to give them out as premiums with your grocery purchases. I have a complete set of eight all obtained piece by piece. I mix them up with restaurant ware from the ‘40s and Fenton glass from the ‘60s. I had a huge collection of the latter two and it was hard to downsize then to fit in this place. The restaurant ware represents a lot of flea market and antique store shopping over my entire adulthood years.

The green Hull’s teapot and the soapstone foot warmer below are vintage and all the rest are newer.  (The black rack was actually a pet store item to raise Levi's dishes off the floor.) I added felt pads on the bottom of the foot warmer and have always used it as a hot pad in my kitchen. In case you’ve never seen one, they are from the era when cars did not have heaters in them and people would heat the soap stone on their cooking stoves, then put them on the floor of their cars to keep their feet from freezing. I used to have two but one got downsized because of the move. The cutting board was one we used in the motor home and I use it a lot and it's the only one I have now.

 




The "you are my sunshine..." coffee cup is a homage to my dad. Him singing that song to me is one of my earliest memories. It makes me happy and I think of him every time I hear those lyrics.

This is the view standing with my back to my living area. The table and chairs were Amish built, the table a custom size so my husband’s wheelchair would fit better than at a standard table. The tiny dog standing by the door is a door stopper. I made it in shop class in high school (1950s), the first girl in my district to take the class. Eventually I hope to always have fresh flowers sitting in the center of the table. And for your amusement, I end this tour with the infamous silver gilded mirror that I dropped face down in the grass when I was painting it, a well document story in a past blog post.  


And just so you know I'm not finished finding things to laugh at myself about, I'm having a hard time remembering to use my right hand to turn on the kitchen faucet. I remember when the water hits my wrist. I could maybe reverse the dish drainer to the other side but I don't like the aesthetics of that with the cows and it doesn't function as well for making coffee or using the garbage disposal. ©

And I'm totally in love with this stainless steal roll-up dish drainer rack.

 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Angel Triangle

view off deck looking toward the main building
Exciting things are happening here at the Daydreamer’s Den. Let’s qualify that. It’s only exciting if you’re into getting new furniture delivered. The Amish built desk came this week and I have a promised delivery of Monday for my mid-century La-Z-Boy chair. I didn’t expect that chair until closer to Christmas! And you know what that means, don’t you? Yup, you get a Kewpie Doll prize if you guessed that I can finally order an area rug for my living room. It feels like an Angel’s Triangle is coming my way---kind of the opposite of a Bermuda Triangle---because the IT guy (the third angle of my triangle of good things) was here shortly after the desk arrived to hook up the TV, WiFi, printer ad other devices. I’ve been using the guest WiFi and living without cable TV for a week now. 

I do have a 20" TV hooked up to one of those tiny $10 antennas and it pulls down a surprising number of channels, especially if you like all the old shows like Barry Miller, Gun Smoke, Friends, Miami Vice, The Brady Bunch, Magnum P.I., Johnny Carson plus some live court and popular game shows. That TV will be moved to my den and I’ll get a smart TV for my bedroom if they ever get unloaded from the ships parked in the harbors. Apparently the TVs under 32" are in short supply which may or may not explain why I saw a TV get delivered today that was as big as a movie screen. They walked it by a pickup truck and the truck completely disappeared behind the giant box and they would have had to set it on end to get it on the elevator. The day I need a TV that big is the day I buy five acres of land and start my own drive-in movie theater. My picture could be out for a week and as long as the speaker still worked I wouldn’t notice.

I went to an orientation class on Campus this week and found myself in the center of another Angel Triangle of sorts. At first I was alone at a table for four when a woman sat down all friendly and excited to be there like a labradoodle puppy greeting kids getting off a school bus. She introduced herself as one of the pastors for the campus and come to find out she used to write for our local newspaper and I read her column back in my seeking-the-meaning-of-life days. She hadn’t changed her name when she got married and neither had I and she thought she knew me and I’m sitting there trying to remember if I fan-girled her column back in the day. I used to write a lot of letters to the editor back when newspapers were the communication devices most popular.

She knew lots of people coming and the fact that there were five of us named “Jean” in a room of twenty some people. One of the Jeans said, “We’re all going to have to be good or we’ll all get blamed” and my big mouth all on its own accord opened up and replied, “And if we’re not we can deny whatever the gossip rumors said we did and blame it on one of the other Jeans.”

I couldn’t help liking the pastor. She's one of those people who is gifted at getting everyone talking to each other and I want to nickname her Miss Labradoodle but I won’t out of fear that someone who isn’t a ‘dog person’ won’t recognize that as a high compliment. Labradoodles are friendly and sweet and always eager to please. She introduced me to another woman who spent her whole work life teaching art and she plans on starting a class on our campus. If that introduction isn’t enough proof that Miss Labradoodle is really meant to be Ms Angel, she invited two other out-going people to sit at our table---another pastor and his wife, retired and living in the condo in the older section of the campus. So there I was, the self-proclaimed agnostic in the center of a triangle of people who would probably all love to save me if they thought I was a lost sheep. He and I bonded over the fact that neither of us likes to wear our hearing aids in public places so our conversation was---well, perfect for two old duffers waiting for the presentation to start.

After the orientation class which was mostly about how to download and use the campus app to: 1) see what is going on each day, 2) find the staff and resident contact lists, 3) fill out forms to request various work orders we might need, 4) to reach the pastor who was sitting at my table, view her future videos and find out what her Friday Bible study group will be discussing, and 5) too many other things on the app to list here. 

I’m pretty computer savvy so I had already found the app before the class and while I was waiting for the others to download theirs I used it to request my address get corrected in the Resident Contact List. I wasn’t going to fill in the other stuff on my profile but after hearing the purpose for doing so I probably will. For example if I list my hobbies as knitting, quilting and painting those things are searchable in the app and we can message like-minded people to start up a group on our own. Mr. Big Screen TV Guy, however, might find it hard---even with the app---to find others who enjoy the hobby of counting the pores on the faces of people on their wall-sized televisions.  

This post’s photo section is a tour of my tiny laundry room which I’d call the hardest working space in the place but that honor goes to my den closet which I'll include for next week’s blog. The photo at the top shows how close I am to the building where all the action takes place. I'm glad I'm in the quieter building. There are only six apartments on my hall and it's very quiet. ©

The washer/dryer was surprisingly easy to use but I'll be doing laundry twice as often. The dryer I had at the other house was literally large enough for me to hide inside if an axe murderer happened to be looking for me.

This coat rack was not cheap but it functions perfectly for an apartment without a coat closet near the door to the hall. I love that I can hang my clothes up as they come out of the dryer and the bottom shelf is big enough for the three pair of boots that I own.

This family photo collage covers my parents before I was born to my great-nieces and nephews with me and my husband sprinkled in.

Not sure if this pile of old things will stay here but for now the basket holds an old Fuller brush---the travel size---an antique sprinkler top on the 7Up bottle, a wooden hanger from a dry cleaners, a house keeping rooms sign that needs highlight painting and a metal collapsible hanger.

 

The folding hanger was patented in 1906 but I'm too lazy to look up the patent to see what is actually is. I think it might be from a suitcase but it comes in handy for air drying things.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

You Probably Saw This Coming…

deck minus a splash of color

Okay, I'm going to get a few things out of the way first because living in an apartment building for the first time ever presences itself with situations where you have to learn to laugh at yourself or you'd die of embarrassment. 

Situation One - I learned the hard way that a pocket door tends to bounce back open if you close it too hard. I found this out while sitting on the toilet and gazing across to the where the closed door should have been and seeing instead the wide open bedroom window shade. Anyone walking by on the sidewalk would have viewed something neither one of us wanted them to see. To make it worse the bathroom is lit up like an airport runway with no other lighting choice in between that and total darkness. That pocket door bounce not only opens itself at inopportune times it also closes itself at inopportune times. After going in there without turning on the light the door closed itself and I ended peeing in pitch blackness. I followed that trip up by me digging around to find the box where I’d packed a few nightlights. 

Situation Two - You probably saw this one coming. I locked myself out of my apartment when I went into the hall to put some cardboard boxes out for maintenance to pick up. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been on Sunday and if I hadn’t just gotten out of the shower with my wet hair plastered to my head with clips to dry the waves out of it, and if the main entrance leading to the concierge’s desk---that great place that solves all our problems---didn’t have a gaggle of ladies waiting for the bus to take them to church. I was embarrassed right down to my fuzzy slippers. A side note here I’m going to have to dust off my bling because everyone else here seems to wear a lot jewelry.

Situation Three - Only half the residences have moved in yet so it’s pretty quiet here in the evenings and one night I was the only person in the cafe` eating when a tall guy came in who shall henceforth be known at T-Shirt Tom. I’ve seen him before and he’s memorable because he’s quick to introduce himself and he wears t-shirts with quirky sayings on them. He asked if he could sit with me and I graciously closed my notebook, set down my pen and we made small talk long enough for me to find out: 1) he’s got 100 or more t-shirts and that his grandkids buy them for him, 2) that he follows college football and soccer, and 3) that his favorite team is from the college where he got his law degree. 

Being the great conversationalist that I am---note the sarcasm here ---I was looking for a common thread so we didn’t look so much like I was a talk show host doing an interview. So I said that I’m not into sports but this summer I’ve been watching and learning about baseball. He looked at me like I’d pulled a giant turd out of my pants and laid it on the table. And I kid you not, the next thing he said was, “I changed my mind. I think I’m going to sit over by the TV so I can watch the game coming on.” It reminded me of a time in my twenties when a guy in a bar came over and asked if he could sit down. After a few minutes of conversation I excused myself to go to the restroom but instead I left the building. To this day I’ve felt bad about doing that. I was young and dumb and didn’t think twice about the guy’s self-esteem. Now I’m old and smarter and my self-esteem is high enough that I found the humor in karma finally catching up with me. 

Situation Four - There’s an intercom between the front door and our apartments. When someone comes to visit they’re suppose to punch in your apartment number and it rings like a door bell inside your unit and when we answer it we can see them on a camera. I have the first number in the building and I’m getting a lot of people wanting me to buzz them in---mostly moving company employees. Not going to happen if I don’t know them but one guy was quite insistent that he was my son. "Come on, Ma, quite fooling around and let me in!” In and out of the building he went all one day and every time he’d ring me instead of his mom. I finally I went out to the front door and showed him how to buzz the right apartment. If I was shopping for another son-I-wish-I-had it wouldn't be him.

Tomorrow my desk gets delivered and I can hardly contain myself. It was custom built by the Amish and I haven’t even seen it yet. But over the years I’ve bought five pieces of furniture from the same place so I have total faith that I’ll like it. 

That’s all for now from the Daydreamer’s Den --- yes, I picked a name for my place! I've always been a daydreamer only now I get to celebrate that aspect of my personality instead of feeling guilty over how much time I've wasted in the process. ©

 

My 'lovely' view of the road and parking lot off my deck. The building in the far view is our library and recreation center for crafting, book clubs or whatever we all vote to start up over there

This is the wall between my half bath door and the door to my den. I used to collect clothes pins---all different and the washboard now holds the six oldest, all that is left of my original 100. The baskets are running board baskets from circa 1905, made for touring cars. The ice box refrigerator is over 100 years old and speaks "cottage" fluently as that's what most of us had on the lake before we had electricity.

The idea for using old fruit jars to house some of my downsized collectibles I shamelessly stole from Dawn's blog, Bahamian Valhalla. That jar of watches is every watch I ever had in my lifetime, but I sold 50 or so of my husband's pocket watches. We used to collect political pin-back buttons and sold 100's of them on e-Bay but I screwed up and forgot to keep the best for my jar. Sewing buttons are in another jar and I didn't make that mistake again. I sold 1000's of sewing buttons. 100 wooden nickels takes up another jar. The largest jar contains the fool's gold and rubies my husband and I mined Out West on what I consider the happiest day of my life.

These now hold knitting yarn, but they are lined with tin to keep food cold.

I turned the inside of the ice box into a pantry which is going to work out good. The top left section is where a block of ice would have gone back in its day. The meat section is right below it. At cottages people used to keep these old ice boxes even after they got electricity and used them for keeping pop and beer cold at parties.