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, February 26, 2020

Marie Kondo Would Throw up a Kitten if She Saw me Downsizing

My recent computer meltdown freaked me out because it made me realize---again---how fragile the whole process of downsizing is, how interdependent each step is to another. At least the way I do it which is so not the KonMari way. Add to the computer malfunction was the fact that I couldn’t get a hold of the-son-I-wish-had who is slated to help me get my house ready to sell next summer and physically move my stuff when the time finally comes to do it. Last summer he hauled stuff off to the auction house, and I have another big batch ready to go—maybe the last, but I said that once before. By mutual agreement we didn’t have anything planned until March but he’s good at settling my nerves when I start obsessing about getting my downsizing done in time. I called but his voice mail was full for two days and I felt cut off from the emotional support I needed. Being old school, it didn't occur to me to text him a SOS. If something, God forbid, happens to Tim I’d be in a world of trouble. I need a backup plan just in case. It’s never good to have all your eggs in one basket.

Downsizing Saga Chapter Five, if anyone is counting: My husband collected cigarette lighters and amassed nearly 400 of them. Lighters are small and you wouldn’t think they’d take up a lot of room but they actually did because they were all stored in black, velvet lined boxes especially made for that purpose. His collection covered all the decades in the twentieth century including WW I and II trench lighters and tons of new old stock commemoratives put out by Zippo. In addition to old lighters he'd find at flea markets and estate sales, Don had befriended a Zippo district salesman and was buying stuff wholesale to keep for investment. Yup, the guy’s version of collecting Beanie Babies only they did actually turn out to be decent money makers. Over half of his collection sold on e-Bay for $50 to $125 each, many others went in the $35 range and six sold for $250 to $410 each. Now I’m down to the lesser quality ones that I’m selling in lots of five to ten.

Prepping lighters for e-Bay sales has not been easy because they are so shiny it’s hard to get good photos of them. The Far East and Mid-Eastern buyers who are big-time into collecting lighters bid higher when you have good photos of all sides of the lighters, their boxes and their guts. I finally, just this week, took my last photos and wrote up my last listing descriptions of the last forty lighters and I have them all boxed up ready to list and ship as they sell! Then I have all the collector display boxes to list but those will go in three large lots without a lot of fuss. I also have a shoe box full of empty lighter boxes. Believe it or not that will go for around $50. All of Don's lighters had been separated from their original boxes so they could go in the display boxes. You should have seen my dining room table when I tackled the Great Box-Matching Project and try as I might I just couldn't match up that last dab of boxes with their proper mate---an important goal with any collectible because it increases its value.

I did set aside two lighters for sentimental reasons and I’m trying to talk myself into letting go of one them go. Marie would tell me to toss both since I don't smoke and she is not fluid in speaking Sentimental Attachments. One of the lighters I bought for my husband on a trip out West. It’s a one-of-a-kind with a silver inlay added by a silversmith after leaving the Zippo factory and my husband loved it. He carried it when he was all dressed up for special occasions. The other one would have been another $300-ish sale if Don hadn't had it engraved with his full name. He carried it daily so I'm trying to gauge how I'll feel if I put it up for auction and it goes for peanuts. Military lighters don't seem to lose value if they're engraved but Military collectors are coming at the hobby from a whole different prospective than others do. Decisions, decisions. No matter what I decide to do, I’m absolutely ecstatic to be so close to ending the lighter saga and if you're still reading this I'll bet you're as sick of 'lighter talk' as I am.

Now I can move on to downsizing something else like my collection of fifty spaghetti poodles from the ‘50s. I will probably take a bath on those because the market has dropped so much I doubt I’ll even be able to sell them, but I’ve gotta give it a try. I might be crying my way all the way to Goodwill to donate them. I have a small, tabletop Zippo showcase that could hold six poodles and I’m desperately trying to figure out a place in my new unit where I could put that showcase. I am too sentimental for my own good. I’d keep all fifty poodles if I could. I like poodles. I had a poodle skirt back in the ‘50s and I didn’t talk to my mom for a full week after she gave it to my cousin. It didn’t matter that I out grew it, I would still have that skirt today if she hadn’t snatched it out of my closet. Mom was evil like that, but she sure made my younger cousin happy. At every family reunion Judy reminds me of how much she loved getting my hand-me-downs. Her favorites were my favorites and she can describe them in detail---the pink circle skirt with black poodles dancing around the bottom, the forest green velvet dress with the lavender ribbon belt and nosegay of violets at the waist, the chiffon, summer white wonder that made us both feel like we were a walking cloud.

My cousin is the most saintly human being I’ve ever known and I've never told her about rift those hand-me-downs caused between my mom and my adolescent self. It would make Judy feel bad and then she'd offer a sincere apology and give me a hug that would make me feel bad for being a petty kid who decades later still wishes I at least had a photo of me wearing that poodle skirt. Big sigh here. Poodle "adoptions" start in March. Stay tuned...and Cindy (my niece) if you are reading this you need one to go with your mid-century decor. The pick of the litter is yours if you want it. ©

This is the lighter I bought my husband out West on the day I label the happiness day of my life. It would not be an acceptable photo for e-Bay because of the reflections but I like the arty-farty look they create.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Happy, Happy, Happy Until I Wasn’t Anymore

It was already a beautiful day in the neighborhood with the bright sun making the newly fallen snow sparkle like an explosion in a glitter factory when I opened my email and found an invitation waiting for me. I jumped right on it with my RSVP since it said space was limited. With any luck weather-wise, in March I’ll be going to a fancy-schmancy country club for lunch and a presentation titled “Organizing and Preparing for the Move.” The Continuing Care Campus where I’ll be moving early next year sure knows how to keep our interest peaked. I got to pick between two dates which means I won’t be seeing all my future neighbors but I’m hoping they’ll be a few faces I’ll recognize from past events. Either way I love being around the sales coordinators. They get me, my sense of humor and silly side. Or, maybe they are just pretending they get me because they’re good at their jobs? Nah, they might be able to fake-smile at all the right places but they can’t fake the twinkling eyes that go with those smiles. 

This email came on the heels of an open house I went to this week at the CCC where they had all the interior package choices spread around the sales building for us to see and get samples of to take home. Next month we have to make one-on-one appointments to finalize our choices of flooring, carpeting, backsplashes, counter tops, paint color and appliances. Those will be an easy choices for me since I love silver, grays and white and I never get tired of living with those colors for the bones and basics. We also get to choose our light fixtures and that’s my biggest dilemma. Do I go with a throw-back to mid-century or with the ultra-modern cylinder style or bubble-like things that look like you'd need a safe cracker to change its light bulbs. Not that changing lights bulbs will be an issue because their maintenance department supposedly will be at the ready for all us oldies-but-goodies to present them with our To-Do lists. I have a month to drive myself crazy over my light fixtures. First world problems…what can I say other than I know how incredible lucky I am not to be living on the back streets of Calcutta and depending on foraging in garbage piles for my next meal. 

While at the open house I got to watch a man have a mini melt down and tell the sales coordinators that he wants his deposit back (while his wife didn’t) because he just found out the place is going to be firearms free. He found this out by asking how big the elevators are going to be because he has a huge gun cabinet that won’t fit in a normal elevator. He was also concerned that his kayaks won’t fit either. He has eight and plans to store them all in their spare bedroom! I guess he didn’t get the downsizing memo. I’m not sure I want to live near a guy who wants to be ready to take out a mass shooter from his third floor balcony. (Yes, he really did say that.) But on the other hand he’d probably make good blogger fodder when he accidentally sends a kayak down the staircase and takes out a few unsuspecting souls at the bottom. Fifty-two units, fifty-one stories (besides my own) I'll be able to tell. Sounds like blogger's heaven to me.

And then my week went downhill faster than an Olympic, two-man bobsled. I was happily doing my thing on my keyboard having a wonderful time loading up my e-Bay listings when everything froze up. I have a desktop model and I rushed it down to the computer repair shop, thinking I had no time to waste if I was going to get it back in time to close my next e-Bay auctions and print the necessary shipping labels. The geeks share a store with a cell phone repair service and as I stood at the counter using old-lady speak trying to explain what happened to my computer I swear the guy’s eyes glazed over. Usually they are able to translate what I’m saying and give me a theory of what the problem entails and how long it will take to fix it. Finally I said, “You’re the cell phone guy, aren’t you.” “Yes, the other guys will be in tomorrow.” 

I went home and fired up my backup laptop, tested it to make sure my printer was still attached through the magic of Wi-Fi. It was. But after a couple of hours the Wi-Fi quit working. Talk about Panic City! I tried every trick I knew and nothing helped. Okay, time for backup plan three---trying to access e-Bay on my Kindle. If worst came to worst I could hand write shipping labels but I ended up setting up a whole new e-Bay account! I still don’t know how that happened. I blame those tiny keyboards and a wrong box checked which only reinforces my pledge to never, ever do banking on my cell or Kindle for feared I’d transfer a bunch of money to a scam artist/Algerian who supposedly is going to release a billion dollars to me once I’ve paid the taxes. When I was finally able to get my desktop back I asked the geek about my Wi-Fi issues and he said they hear that a lot and there are drivers in laptops that can wear out. Who knew!

Now, I can’t get my printer back online! It’s always been finicky, losing its drivers whenever Windows does one of their mystery downloads in the middle of the night but usually I’ve been able to get them back. Not this time. I uninstalled and reinstalled that printer at least 15 times. Color me stressed out and no longer happy, happy, happy. But on the bright side, in the First World money solves almost everything. If I can’t get the printer working soon I’ll go buy another. ©