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, August 12, 2020

Confessions from the Downsizing Front

 It’s early in the morning and I did my best to sleep in. It didn’t work. Last night I took an Ambien sleeping pill because for a week I’d been waking up every two hours and having trouble falling back to sleep. I felt sleep deprived because---duh!---I was. The pill helped in the sense that I only woke up once during the night but by 7:00 the sounds of birds chirping and far-away dogs barking in their back yards woke me up and try as I might I couldn’t will myself to ignore them. Getting up with the birds is happening often enough that I’ve thought about digging out the ear plugs I used when my husband was alive to block out his snoring but if I did that I won't be able to hear if an axe murderer sneaks into the house. Levi likes company so all he’d do is smell his boots, wag his tail and Jedi-mind message the guy to follow him into the room where I sleep.

My husband was a sound sleeper so I don’t know why I trusted him to wake up during a ‘Here’s Johnny,’ Jack Nicholson moment, but I did. He wouldn’t start a fight in a million years but he wouldn’t have backed down from one either if he couldn’t man-to-man talk his way out of one. I swear he was good enough with his mouth that he could have left the axe maniac in The Shinning laughing instead of chasing people around. God I miss that man. He worked hard and played hard and although he wasn’t much for sweet-talking he had a deep, country-song-singer's voice that could get the job done better than any of my romance book boyfriends. I miss his voice, too. I heard it on tape recently and once again decided that downsizing sucks the stuffings out of all your best memories.

Getting up that early makes me feel old. I’ve never been a morning person but by this time next year, I’ll need to change my mind-set whether I want to or not. Once I’ve moved to the continuum care campus were I’ve put money down on a unit being built I’ll need do get up early because my unit is just off the lobby and across from the gym and all those old people I’ll be living near will be coming and going to get their yoga-at-dawn workouts in. Shoot me if I ever talk about signing up for that class. I don't do sunrises or wear pants that look like they've been spray-painted on. These are the details that wake up in the middle of the night and I get obsessed with questions like when will I be taking my showers? Now I do it around 11:00 after spending time on the computer and having my breakfast at 10-ish. But now I can just let Levi out the back door to his dog pen to take care of his morning needs. I’ll have to get dressed and walk him. The idea of taking a shower early in the morning or late at night makes me gag like a cat with a hairball…makes me wake up in the middle of the night vacillating between 'I'll hate doing that' and 'I’ll cowgirl up, make it happen even if I have to give myself a new secret agent name of Mary-F-Morningstar!' And the 'F' won't stand for Frannie if you get my meaning.

And that brings up another downsizing decision that has caused my eyes to pop wide open in the middle of the night. Do I sell Don’s favorite Stetson cowboy hat or keep it? I sold his other Stetson earlier this year but the hat he’s wearing in the photo above, I’m having trouble letting it go. Even used they’re not cheap but am I willing to exchange it for money I don't really need? And don't suggest I gift it to someone. I live in Michigan. Aside from migrant farm workers no one here wears cowboy hats. Dressing in Western attire was Don's happy place, the equivalent of wearing a Kris Bryant jersey and hat to show support for the Chicago Cubs. The song, I Should have Been a Cowboy easily could have been written with Don in mind. Me in mind, too, if truth were told. I recently sent my framed postcards of Gene Autry off to the auction house. That star of old black and white westerns was my first love.

But I am excited about another downsizing project I accomplished this week (see the photo below). Even before the son-I-wish-I-had moved one of my oak bookshelf units out of the library and into the laundry room I started plotting what would go on it. I thought it was silly to sell a good oak piece and buy a cheap metal or plastic utility shelf that I’ll need in my future laundry room for everything from pantry items to shoes to mittens to appliances to medical stuff. I unloaded the wall cabinets in my present laundry room, a shelf in the garage and a few things from other places to fill up my now ready-to-move organized shelf. I’ve got some small chalkboard label tags coming from Amazon that will attach to the baskets, then I’ll be finished. Not all of those gray baskets have stuff in them in, one row is earmarked for pantry goods that won’t fit in new, limited kitchen cabinets. My future unit doesn’t have a closet near the main door, but the laundry room is near-by so another row of the gray boxes holds hats, gloves, scarves and Levi’s walking gear.

The hard-to-get-into white boxes on the third row up from the bottom hold medicines, vitamins, and stuff like a blood pressure monitor, cold/hot packs and other health related junk no one needs to see. I’ve never kept prescription medications in a bathroom or out on the countertops because I’ve known a few people who pilferaged meds from family and friends to abuse or sell on the street, and with a housekeeper and other service people in the house, I’d rather not make it easy for someone to lock themselves in a bathroom and rummage through my medicine cabinet. That being said, here’s my parting Public Service Announcement which might make me sound paranoid but drug addiction is a serious problem in this country and we all need be aware of how we might unknowingly be feeding into it: When you’ve had surgery don’t leave your pain pills out in the open. Don’t hold on to unused pain pills once you’re recovered. And don't flush them! Take them to a prescription pill collection box. Here, they’re in the lobbies of police stations. Call around to find out where to drop them off. You might save another family a whole lot of grief. ©

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dogs and Good Friends


It’s been thirteen days since the dog has three teeth pulled and his gums treated with a process where they put cement-like stuff along his receding gum line to keep bacteria and germs from getting down inside and causing puss pockets. A normal dog has 42 teeth, Levi has fifteen left and the ones he has left are the most important ones for eating and keeping his tongue from falling out of him mouth. He’s twelve years old and in human years that makes him 84, way older than my great-niece who had a Facebook posting today announcing that she’s scheduled to get most of her teeth pulled and will end up having a full denture plate on top and a partial plate on the bottom. I was shocked. She has children who aren’t even old enough to be in school yet. She wrote that the pain was daily and she couldn’t stand it anymore and she didn’t want any lectures on how she should have taken been care of her teeth. I left a comment about sending healing thoughts and hugs her way and Levi got an extra helping of sympathy at the same time. I’ve only had one tooth pulled in my entire life, knock on wood, and if I’ve ever had a toothache it wasn’t bad enough to remember.

Tomorrow Levi can go back to having hard food and treats again and not a minute too soon. He’s been a royal pain with his fussy eating and begging and I’m SO ready for him to go back to his regular fare. I bought him two weeks’ worth of canned foods that he had zero interest in so I gave it to my house cleaning girl for her dog rather than return it to the pet store and possibly exposing myself to Covid-19 again. Frankly I don’t blame Levi, that stuff looks disgusting. In its place I’ve had to soak his regular kibble in warm water for him to eat. I don’t know what that stuff is made of but it takes FOREVER to soften up…a good half hour. It’s a half hour of hell and frustration because I keep forgetting to factor that into our dinner hour. He likes to eat when I do. Don’t let anyone tell you schnauzer stubbornness is a myth. I’ve had dogs all my life and even after twelve years Levi and I are still fighting over who is the boss in this house. Hey, lady, where is my dinner? You should have served me fifteen minutes ago! I swear he’s got a clock in his head that gets the signals sent out from Fort Collins in Colorado that keeps all the atomic clocks in the our country in sync.

Thursday the son-I-wish-I-had was here to pick up a load of stuff to drop off at the auction house. I love that guy and it pains me that he’s a Trump supporter. He’s also a devout Christian, a straight-as-an-arrow honest person with a wild sense of humor and a ton of grandchildren. He married his childhood sweetheart, both virgins on their wedding night and they are totally devoted to one another. I try so hard to understand how he can support a man with no character, no moral compass, who lies about all things large and small. All I can really pin point regarding his support for Trump is that he lives in a small town of under 3,000 people, in the reddest of red rural counties and he’s totally surrounded by people who are FOX devotees. 

When I asked him how he can support such a mean-spirited person whose words and actions are so un-Christian he said, “I’m not voting for a minister, I have one of those.” I told him the president has made us lose our standing in the world but he sees that as plus, likes the go-it-alone isolationism that Trump brings to the table. On the pandemic he said that Trump can't do anything more than he does because we're not supposed to be a Federalist country and it's up to the states to deal with it. I didn’t try to change his opinion on anything, where would I even start? But hearing him talk I'm worried about the election because I know so many people who are planning to vote Trump back into office. I’ve even questioned if I’m not the one who is brain-washed, that I’m not seeing any of the so-called good things that Trump has done for our country. And I keep coming back to ‘hell, no!’ All I see is divisiveness, disrespect for the Rule of Law and incompetence.

The son-I-wish-I had was here for two and a half hours and we had a great visit! We touched on a dozen topics, swapping e-Bay stories, sharing memories of good time. We talked local auctions verse Market Place and we bartered a couple of great deals that made us booth extremely happy. He’s going to paint my porch ceiling and four outside door trims in exchange for me giving him my 1920s Hoosier cabinet. And we bartered him digging up Levi’s fire hydrant so I can sell it and moving an oak bookcase from one room to another for a 1902 Malt Maker that I had put in the auction lot he was here to pick up. He’s lusted after both pieces for a long time. It was a win-win deal for both of us and it felt like old times. We've had a bartering history that goes back nearly forty years. ©

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August Goals and a Question for Other Bloggers

Have I mentioned how happy I am that August is here? I’m old so if I’m repeating myself I’ve got an excuse. Yes, I’m not above playing the Old People Card or the Absent Minded Flake Card or the Woman Card---whatever works for you.

August, for me, means new goals and a break from e-Baying to do Facebook Market Place sales.  Hopefully. I’ve never done them before but others seem to make them work. I’ve got a Hoosier cabinet, a vintage butcher block/kitchen island, my childhood dollhouse, an antique fire hydrant, a dog cage that Levi out grew, a large glass sided showcase and some art I’m hoping to move. I’ve already started ganging this stuff up in my garage so buyers won’t have to come inside, but I have to wait for the son-I-with-I-had to help me move the showcase into the garage. That sucker is big and it held hundreds of tiny things that I’ve mostly sold off over the past year. And you have my heartfelt promise if I ever get married again to a collector he’d better collect classic cars or something easier to dispose of than obscure-but-valuable tiny things that nearly wore my brain and eyes out to research.

August will also include sending another lot of stuff off to a local auction house. With the last load I sent off in the spring I proclaimed it would be the last one and I proclaimed the same thing with the lot before that one. But I keep identifying stuff that I’m ready to let go of locally---lower prices with less work than shipping with e-Bay, so I’m playing the Woman Card here that says it’s our prerogative to change our minds. I’ve got the lot almost ready to be picked up and it includes stuff like my husband’s teddy bear, a WWII helmet, glassware too fragile to e-Bay and some cast iron collectibles too costly to ship and still be a good buy for those who want them. My beloved antique folding chairs are going this time, too, because let’s face it I’m too old and ‘fluffy’ to be sitting on antique chairs created two centuries ago when butts were obviously small and compact. Ditto on the 1854 patented piano stool I’m sending. I’m up to 94 items readying to send off. My goal is 100. Gotta admit, though, that pickings are getting slim and choices are harder. Mostly I’ve got rare books and art left to sell and neither are good candidates for the local auction house where all bids start at a dollar.

August will also bring me something exciting to do---actually two exciting things unless our state slaps another hard, lock-down on us. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. The first ‘something exciting’ is a hardhat tour of my future home at the continuum care campus that is being built that I have a deposit on. Apparently by mid-August there will be enough progress for us to see to get our excitement level back on track.  Masks, hardhats, orange vests and goggles required plus social distancing and we had to read and sign a safety-on-the-site document. Before the pandemic struck in March, the non-profit building this place was holding monthly get-togethers as part of their marketing budget. I’m hoping they will re-schedule a few of their programs that got canceled. I was just starting to get to know (and remember) some of my future neighbors. The second exciting something I’m looking forward to doing is making a trip out to my oldest niece’s cottage and we’re working on getting my youngest niece to come over too. I haven’t seen either one of them in forever…at least a year. We keep in contact with occasional emails, Facebook messages and text messages but it’s not the same as being in the same physical space where organic conversations take place.  

Okay, I’ve got to ask those who read here who are also bloggers a question. Are you getting a daily dose of a comment that promises a naked photo if you click on their link? I been getting them for a couple of weeks now. They usually come with a meant-to-be-playful line that includes kissing, begging and teasing, short but just as obnoxious as the long, anonymous commenter whose been hitting us all for months with the baby-boomers-are-evil nonsense. Putting these comments in the spam folder does absolutely nothing as far as I tell, not like when you put them in your e-mail spam folder that your provider evidentially finds and stops them from coming. So I pulled out the Delusional Card thinking I could find some help at the (fictitious) Blogger support forums but all they say is to just delete and forget the comments and change our settings to not to accept anonymous comments.

So my second question: if you stopped accepting anonymous comments did that stop the flasher and/or the hates-baby-boomers comments? Some of my favorite commenters use the anonymous feature and I don’t want to shut them out if the juvenile spammers just find a way around that setting change. I double these spammers even read any of the blogs they poop comments on but just on the off chance one is reading this post I liked to say, quit playing the Dumb-Ass Card! You will never, ever get past the moderate comments feature. ©