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, January 13, 2021

The Condition of your Bed is the Condition of your Head

God, I don’t know where to start this post. All areas of my life and the world at large are in turmoil. My clothes dried chose this past weekend to quit working, my house is a major mess because before all hell broke loose in D.C. I had decided to make a major push to get some odds and ends listed on e-Bay which is a long process of cleaning, photographing, writing up listings, packing stuff for shipping and finally uploading the photos and descriptions to e-Bay. I had four rooms set up for staging this process. Turns out I was thankful I had that stuff to do so I wasn’t tempted to crazy-glue my butt down in front of the TV watching the ugliness unfold. I still had the TV on because I’ve always believed that it is my duty as an American to bear witness to the major events of living history that have the power to change the trajectory of our nation. If people can personally experience those events like 9-11 or insurrectionists storming the Capital I can at least watch them unfold from the comfort of my own home. But I don't want to write about the Demigod in the White House and his disgusting supporters; I did that in my last post. This post is about my personal mayhem.

My bed hasn’t been made all week and to quote one of my favorite blogger friends, Dawn at Bohemian Valhalla, “The condition of your Bed is the condition of your Head.” Like I told her, “I admit to being a person who is bi-polar with bed making. I go in streaks that last a week or two. Right now I'm in the not making it cycle.” What I didn’t tell her is that when I’m in the oppose cycle I’ve been known to start making one side of my bed while still in it in the morning. It’s a talent, trust me. When it comes to Dawn’s theory of the head-bed connection I don’t know what she thinks comes-first-the-chicken-or-the egg but I decided if making my bed could help my scattered frame of mind it was worth trying.

I stripped my sheets off, threw them in the washer and it was when I moved them to the dryer that I found out that my dryer didn’t work. Ohmygod, what message do you think the universe was sending me!? I’m one of those persons who washes my bedding and puts the same set back on. I didn’t remember where my backup set was because I’ve been cleaning and reorganizing closets. And what do you do with a washer full of wet sheets on a Sunday when you can’t get a repair person out? The first thing I did was search my pantry for a non-existent bag of cookies or something else that would put me on a sugar binge. Damn January diet plan had me coming up empty. Somewhere along my mini meltdown I had a few choice words for Dawn for putting the notion in my head about the state of my bed has something to do with the state of my brain. (Just kidding, Dawn. I still love you.) Seriously, though, I haven’t seen a laundromat in years although I still have roll of quarters that I’ve been hoarding for twenty years when I used to go to one. A lot of good that would do me now because I hear tell the prices as gone up a tad since then.

So what's the second thing a woman does on a Sunday morning after learning that she’ll have to find a dryer repair person next week? She goes out to the street to bring in the Sunday paper. But for the first time since she’s been getting the Sunday paper---a tradition passed down from her father---she discovered that the front section was missing. And since she’s one of only two people who gets the paper on the cul-de-sac she couldn’t help thinking someone stole the front section out of her mailbox. It probably had a lot of coverage of the brutal insurrection at the Capital. Since she was planning to cancel her subscription the next time it was due it really didn’t matter, but can anyone tell me why, in this paragraph, I started talking about myself in the third person? Is that weird or what!

By Monday morning I had read trouble-shooting stuff online and managed to fix my dryer woes. It’s a newer model, the kind with a computerized motherboard and like other computers, I had to cut the power off and turned it back on, which meant I had to do it at my circuit breaker since I couldn’t access the plug on the wall behind the washer and dryer. I let it sit for six whole hours, just to make sure its computer had plenty of time to do whatever it does to reformat itself back to factory settings. I held my breath when I finally pushed the button and found the dryer working again! Tech warrior at your service.

I felt like a tech warrior last week too because I also repaired my laptop computer after the mouse drivers got knocked out. I have to reinstall my printer drivers on my desktop fairly often so it wasn’t a big deal, but for some reason the new drivers reversed the mouse’s right/left functions. Talk about buying me a ticket on the Crazy Train, that sure did and it took me two days to figure what was causing my computer to act like an over-caffeinated, sleep deprived mother of three screaming toddlers. (Or maybe it was me acting like an over-caffeinated, sleep deprived mother of three screaming toddlers.) Either way, it was a simple fix once I identified the problem. Now I ask you---Dawn---if my brain was as messy as my bed would I have been able to be my own tech warrior? Now, if I could only figure out why my Kindle books quit syncing across all my devices I'd earn another bead for my tech warrior vest which reminds me that I sold my box of Camp Fire merit beads last summer. Boohoo, I didn't want to do it. ©

Photo Note: Painting by Patricia Larkin 

P.S. On Wednesday the front section of the Sunday paper showed up in my mailbox with no indication that it was printed late. Which ever neighbor "borrowed it" was nice enough to return it. LOL  

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Sad and Angry Week in America

I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to write a political post today or one about current events. I was looking forward to less drama in Washington D.C. that I thought will come when Trump is finally no longer our sitting president. Just a few more days, I thought, and he'll be gone. Already I was sleeping better. Then all hell broke loose and the national news was too big to ignore. The post I had prepared for today was about mindfulness, of all things. Happy, happy, happy and how to achieve contentment. Well, I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel contentment. I’m angry! But what I’m not is surprised. How can anyone be surprised that a bunch of Pro-Trumpers stormed the Capital in an attempted coup. Yes, a coup to overthrow an election, to overthrow Democracy. There is no other name to call what they attempted to do when they did it at the direction of Trump himself, who that very morning stood in front of a rally telling those in attendance the lies that he won the election, that it was being stolen from him and he urged the crowd to walk up to the Capital and “get wild” and “have fun” and “I’ll be right there with you.” He needs to be charged with inciting an insurrection!

No one should have been surprised when that crowd at Trump’s 'pep rally'---the Proud Boys, the Qanons, White Supremacists and others who are not smart enough to come out of the rain---took him at his word and stormed our Capital. It was all planned in plain sight online and instead of trying to smother the flames he threw gas on them with Rudy Juiliani at his side calling what they were about to do, "Combat Justice." They took over the Capital on the day when our government was supposed to certify the results of the Electoral College’s vote. If you were watching the beginning of that certification process you saw Mitch McConnell actually grow a pair of balls right in front of the camera. Now, that did surprise me. But it was too little, too late after all the blow jobs he’d given The Donald over the past four years. If you don’t like my crude language, I’m sorry. Expect some more. On a day that will go down in history as the day a sitting president tried to orchestra an insurrection it’s perfectly acceptable for a chorus of ordinary people who don’t usually talk in fluent Marine slang to shout out, “What the fuck is going on?!"

Even when the president finally did make a public statement to call off his 'mad dogs' he was insincere, like someone was making him do it. In addition to telling his out-of-control supporters to go home he also said, “We love you!” and “you’re special people!” To the very people who were still inside the Capital breaking windows, shooting bullets in the walls, forcing doors open and they managed to get to the floor of both chambers of congress where they went through desks and stole stuff including papers containing sensitive material that could put our country at risk. They stole things from offices, too, and hoisted them in the air like trophies for their photo-ops. These are the same people that Mitt Romney and others are calling “lawless insurrectionists” and Trump was calling 'patriots'. While watching all this all unfold, I’ve never wanted a bag of cookies more than I did then. There’s never any damn comfort foods in the house in January and I plan to fix that before inauguration day.

Congress did their job during the wee hours of January 7th, they certified Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the victors of our last election. They will be our next President and Vice-President and nothing Trump can do will stop that. His plan to incite so much violence in D.C. that he could declare Martial Law and postpone the inauguration indefinitely didn’t work. This time. What will he do over the next eleven days? Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have all suspended his accounts which will make whatever he does a tad harder. It’s surreal that we have a president walking around with the nuclear codes but he can’t be trusted with social media accounts.

Five members in my husband’s family are rabid fans of Trump. The day before this all went on they started a Facebook thread about how the election certification needed to be postponed to investigate election fraud. I try really hard not to engage them but that day I commented:  “Trump has filed 60 lawsuits contesting election processes, vote counting, and the vote certification process in multiple states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the Supreme Court. They have all been thrown out. The only one screwing with the integrity of the election is Trump. Did you see the letter 10 former Secretaries of Defense signed and sent to Trump over the weekend condemning him for entering into dangerous territory for our democracy with his not adhering to a peaceful transfer of power and for suggesting he'll use the military to stop Biden's win? He lost and needs quit listening to the dark web's conspiracy theories which are based on zero evidence.” As was predictable I was called, brain-washed, delusional, stupid and a person I never met called me a "bitter old bitch" based on what I wrote above in this paragraph. Trump has taught his disciples the Art of Insults well.

After the violence in D.C. these same family members were on Facebook again blaming Antifa for all that went down at the Capital. Antifa is like the imaginary twin my brother had in his teens who Jerry tried to blame all his missteps on. At least my brother had a double exposure photograph from Kodak to give creditable to twin Jim’s existence. He carried it around in his wallet for a long time. It was a mirror image of him sitting on the opposite ends of our couch and at least one girl bought the lie for why she got stood up for a date Jerry didn’t keep. But I digress.

The FBI is activity trying to identify those Trump fans who did damage in the Capital. The ringleaders won't be hard to find because they've been posting their plans to storm the Capital for several weeks and posting selfies while they were "going wild" inside the People's House. And if found guilty they can thank their president for the time they'll spend in federal prison because back when confederate statues were being destroyed Trump signed an executive order to give those caught doing damage to Federal property minimum sentences of ten years. I just hope law enforcement won't bring formal charges until after the 21th so Trump can't use his pardon power on those who left a disgusting and long-lasting stain on our country. ©



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Pig’s Feet and Chicken Soup

When I came in from working in the garage it hit me like a pie in the face only better. It was the distinctive aroma of chicken soup cooking on the stove. Homemade chicken soup in the making to be more precise. I had set a picked-over rotisserie chicken in water to boil the meat from the bones which is something I only do two-three a year. For the next seven or eight minutes I stood over the pot, straining and picking bones and skin out of the boiling broth, my cheeks getting red from the steam, my hair getting frizzy. I cut some mini-peeled carrots up like little orange dimes and added them into the pot followed by a couple of envelopes of Lipton Vegetable Soup and Dip Mix. I would have used their chicken soup mix but I’m trying to use up pantry items so my “cooking” between now and when I move will be---shall we say---more creative than usual. I had a third of a bag of Amish extra wide country noodles to use up so they got tossed in the pot as well. Ya, I admit it, I cheat like crazy when I “cook.” And while my soup looked and tasted really good, I’d never serve it to anyone or drop off a container to someone who is sick. I’d never trust that I got every little bone strained out and if someone is going to die from getting a bone stuck in their throat it’s going to be me. I eat my chicken soup very slowly, letting my tongue be the finally judge on whether or not I got every bone out before swallowing. With this batch I never did find the wish bone which makes me wonder if the universe was trying to tell me something. No more wishes for you, Old Lady! You’ve wished your life away.

My mom made a lot of soups---good soups---and she never used a recipe. I did the watch-and-learn exercise a couple of times trying to root out her secrets. But she never measured the spices or other ingredients she used and she always incorporated left-overs into soups so I never got a single recipe out of my once serious attempt to write down Mom’s recipes. And to this day there was one spice she used in just about everything soup and stew that I still can’t identify. It looked like baby spiders floating on the top and growing up that’s the only name I knew it by. "But Mom I've got spiders in my soup!" I once complained. "Just eat them,” she replied. “They're dead!" I’ve written about her ‘spider spice’ before so if this sounds familiar you’re not imagining it. I’m old and I’m starting to repeat myself.

Trying to learn how to cook from my mom was an impossible task---at least for me. My brother didn’t seem to have the same trouble as I did. He’s always been a better cook than me and he's has a lot more experience doing it than I’ve had. He started cooking in his teens, eager to learn, and I had to be brought to the stove kicking and screaming when I was that age. Mom would tell me I was never going to get a husband if I didn’t learn to cook. But it was her fault that I was in my twenties before I could even identify cuts of meat which was a problem back in the day when you had to tell a butcher what you wanted from the other side of the glass case. Growing up, when I’d ask my mom what she was cooking she’d say things like, “An old dead pig” or “road kill” or “an old dead cow.” To the best of my knowledge we never ate road kill but for some reason Mom thought it was funny to make me eat mystery meat. At my brother's house, however, if he told me he was cooking road kill I would 100% believe him.

Fast forward through the years I still can’t scratch cook and I really don’t care anymore. But I did go through ‘70s getting good at baking bread. Then again in this century I was doing artisan breads until I had to stop because of my husband’s diabetes. I’m looking forward to getting back into baking after I move. I’ll be the apartment from which delicious smelling breads will seep into the hallway every Sunday. I just hope I don’t acquire a neighbor who cooks pig’s feet and sauerkraut. My mom cooked that combo often in fall and, boy, did that stink up the house when my mom boiled the crap out of them. (And, no, we don’t have a drop of Polish blood in our ancestry.) Can you even buy pig’s feet in the supermarkets these days? That was about the only meat I could identify growing up. Those and chicken necks. 

Talk about tiny bones that can choke you I do wonder, now, why my mom bothered boiling batches of chicken necks. Maybe we were poorer than I thought we were? I do know Mom must have had a better way of straining the bones out of broths than I do because to be best of my recollection no one ever had a near death experience at our dinner table and I don’t recall her ever warning us to be on the lookout for bones. I found two in the bowl of soup I ate today. Just sayin' there are some tricks I wish I had learned back in the days when I had to use a step stool to peer into the pot cooking on Mom's stove. ©