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, June 19, 2021

My Life on Post-it Notes

Note: This post was written and scheduled to go live earlier this week but it got bumped back to make room for the computer woes post. I still haven't had time to deal with that fly in my soup and the laptop I'm working on is too old to use as a landing place for my lost photos and documents that should be safety up in a cloud named Carbonite. Hopefully, next week I'll get at it.

Moving on: I'm a huge fan of Post-it Notes. One wall of my computer wardrobe is filled with the colorful little scraps of paper and I have a tin box filled with them as well. Or I should say one wall was filled with them. Everyday I've been working at dismantling bits of my office space inside the wardrobe and taking down my Post-it Notes is part of the process. Everything in the wardrobe is gone, now but the computer itself as it waits for help to move the wardrobe out of the kitchen. By the way, I've tried the Sticky Notes app to keep the clutter at bay and digitalized but I'm a visual person and it just isn't the same.

Over the years I’ve gotten militant about putting quotation marks around stuff I write on Post-it Notes that are sentences I’ve copied out of a book or heard on TV or in a song, so if I ever use that quote I can properly credit the line. I would hate it if someone plagiarized me and I wouldn’t want to accidentally take credit for someone else’s note-worthy thoughts. I often jot down my own phrases or sentences as well so the quotation marks are necessary on other people's words. Once in a great while I’ve found an unquoted phrase on a note and think that it couldn't have come from my brain. So I’ll do a google search to no avail which means, apparently, I do come up with a pleasing string of words from time to time. In past year, though, I’ve started adding “by me” to bits and pieces I think are Post-it Note worthy. I’m old and I need to learn that I don’t have the time to retrace my steps when if I did something thorough the first time I’d save a lot of head scratching and asking myself, Did or didn’t I write this?

A small orange note I’m looking at right now just says, “nuh-uh” while a larger blue note says, “Treasures of Darkness.” I know why I wrote the first one. I often want to use words like that when I write but I have no clue how to spell them or to get Alexa to do it for me. (She hates me and the way I pronounce stuff.) The “Treasures of Darkness” note I had to google to figure out that it was a book title of a book I actually liked and went on to read the entire series minus the one due out in December. Apparently, when I wrote the note I wanted to be sure not to forget about the author’s upcoming book which I did forget and I’ve vowed---yet again---to make the Post-it Notes I jot down a little clearer so I don’t have to waste time googling why I wrote them in the first place. (That last sentence is messy and murky but I assure you, it will makes sense if you read it over again.) And apparently, I like the word ‘apparently’ today because this is the fourth time I’ve used it.

Moving along: On a tiny yellow Post-it Note I wrote, “Fissured Tongue, 5% of Americans.” Yup, you get the door prize if you guessed that I have a fissured tongue which I found out in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and I obsessed that it was a symptom of some dreaded disease I’d picked from reading a book set on another planet. Nope, it’s not but I did start brushing my tongue after that night because those ridges and valleys can harbor a host of yucky stuff. But I’m comforted by the fact that my dentist checks for mouth cancer twice a year. I’m not suggesting that a fissured tongue has anything to do with cancer. It doesn’t. However, I figured if the dentist found anything else worth mentioning---like my fissured tongue---she'd speak up about it.  

A lot of my Post-it Notes are things I write down and don’t need to keep past the next day like the hours a certain place might be open or their address. Lately, I’ve accumulated a lot of notes with measurements…moving boxes, furniture, PODS. One note I just threw out had, “High Sierra by HBE” which was the company that made some canvas camping and travel gear that I was going to sell on Facebook Marketplace, but I gave them to Goodwill instead. Apparently---fifth time if your counting---I don’t purge my Post-it Notes often enough because I found a bunch of them about migrating my subscriber list on this blog from Feedburner which is a done deal now. (If you haven't migrated your subscriber list yet, that July 1st deadline is closing in on you.) Another note, a medium sized yellow one, lists foods that are rich in potassium---bananas, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. 

And these lines from the website Escape Adulthood I though were Post-it Note worthy fun: "If you think the dictionary should be made into a movie. If you were disappointed to learn that Fifty Shades of Gray was NOT a home decor manual. These are signs that you might have Adultitis."

I tend to see my world as potential ideas for self-published books which comes from spending a life-time documenting where I've been and it occurs to me that if a person were to publish all the Post-it Notes they write in a year, it would tell a story of who that person is. My story would be of a frustrated, bad speller who is easily impressed by lyrical sentences, a woman who has the memory of circus flea. (Circus fleas, I’m assuming, have slightly better memories as other fleas roaming the earth.) Throw in a little germaphobic tendencies and obsessive planning and my Post-it Notes book would write itself.

Currently I torturing myself with a Post-it Note with the words: Maggie’s Song, Chris Stapleton. I heard it for the first time this week and burst out in tears. It’s a country western song about a dog and you know the drill with dogs that are featured in movies and songs---they always die at the end. Maggie’s Song is no different and I only have to look at the pink note to chock up with thoughts of Levi not making it to the finish line of us living on a lake come October. And sometimes in the dead of night I wonder if I will make it, if the stress will kill me before I get there. In the daylight the logical part of my brain takes center stage and I know I'm doing the right thing at the right time in my life, and for the right reasons and everything is going to work out according to plan. If not, I'll alter the plan to suit how it does turn out.

I leave you with another one of my Post-it Notes, a dedication that I found in a not-so-good book by an author new-to-me, T.L.Swan. The first line made me laugh but by the time I finished reading her dedication I'd moved over into the that's-so-cool zone: "I would like to dedicate this book to the alphabet. For those twenty-six letters have changed my life. Within those twenty-six letters I found myself and live my dream. Next time you say the alphabet remember its power. I do very day." ©

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Computer Woes!


There’s a chain of computer repair places around town and I’ve been using them for twenty years. I woke up a few days ago to find that my preferred internet browser (Firefox) was gone plus all my photos, documents and bookmarks were as well. I packed up the tower to drop it off but when I got to my branch I found a note on the door that said it was permanently closed and to go to one of their others locations. I walked in to the nearest branch and was greeted by someone new-to-me and I barely got the tower set down on the counter when he said, “I’ve got to be honest with you. Your computer is ten years old and is not compatible with the new Microsoft upgrades coming along. You’re probably going to need a new one.”  I’ve got a Carbonite subscription that should have my documents and photos backed up, I told him, and “Their website says I’m still in recovery mode so I probably didn’t know what I was doing when I tried to get my files back. Can you at least look at it?”

Alongside him, facing out to the customers was an 8”x10” piece of cardboard with handwritten letters written with a black marker that said, “God guides all my steps.” It’s probably based on a Bible verse but it annoyed the heck out of me. I don’t know why that’s important to announce it to your customer base. In my perfect world the only ones who would wear their relationship with God on their sleeves would be the men and women ordained by their churches to do so. I know it isn’t fair to judge the guy by that sign but it made me think I needed to hold my hand over my wallet, as my dad used said about certain people. And we can blame my uncle for that. He could have been the inspiration for the movie, Paper Moon. Only my uncle wasn’t a fictional character going across the country selling Bibles door to door and reading the obituaries and claiming the deceased ordered a deluxe Bible before passing away that had a hefty sum of money still due. My uncle really did earn is living traveling across the country, following the good weather to sell Bibles and other religious trinkets. 

The most memorable time I remember hearing a phrase like “God guides all my steps” was when Uncle Abe---not his real name but close enough---used it as an excuse for why he shouldn’t have to pay my folks back for a couple of hundred dollars he borrowed from them. Whatever he “invested” the money, it was lost---a land deal, a ponzi scam, the ponies, I have no idea but because God guided his steps Uncle Abe thought my folks should just forgive the debt and pray about it. “Only God knows where the money is now and God doesn’t make mistakes.”

For years my dad tolerated my uncle while he parked his camper in our driveway, using our electricity and water and tying up our phone for the 3-4 days that he would be there because it was the only time my mom would get to see her sister. They ate our food and while my aunt helped cook it they never contributed anything---my dad’s hard work that earning the money to put food on the table was chalked up to thanking God for "providing this wonderful meal.” My uncle’s prayers went on and on and I hated the oily way he looked at me while he was saying them. 

There’s a scene in a movie that I think starred Gregory Peck---I’ve tried to find it on the web but couldn’t---where he’s doing a smack-down disguised as a prayer that mocked the idea of giving praise for a meal to God, giving none to the farmer---Peck’s character---who planted and tended the fields, brought in the harvest that his wife then cooked. I saw that movie with my dad once and while he was too kind to ever say anything like that in the presence of his brother-in-law I always thought it would be fun if he did.

The computer guy at the new-to-me shop just called and told me the hard drive is fried. He wants to sell me a rebuilt machine and even though I have a backup at Carbonite he’s not promising he can get my photos and documents back on a new machine. I’m not sure what I’m going to do now but it’s an odd fact of my downsizing process that the day before my computer woes began I was about to take all my hardcopies of my first five years of blogging and the hardcopy of book draft I had to the paper recyclers. Thankfully I didn't. I wish this guy didn’t remind me of my uncle! It would make my decisions on what to do so much easier. ©

P.S. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate working on my laptop? It's old too so I'm crossing my fingers it stays running until I get my computer woes worked out. 

P.S. Again. Since so many people (including the computer guy) mention hooking my keyboard and monitor up to my laptop I think I've made a smart decision on what to do. My laptop is old too...11 years and living on borrowed time. I think I will replace THAT now and skip buying a new tower, etc. until after I move and get settle in. That way I'll be forced to give what everyone else seems to prefer doing a fair shot. Who knows maybe it will make a believer out of me and I won't even need to buy a tower later on. More importantly I won't feel forced to make a decision on what tower now just to put it in storage next month. I do need something to put transfer my photos and documents on now and my old laptop isn't going to cut it for that.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Bits and Pieces


This post is going to be filled with bits and pieces of disjointed topics. If I’m lucky I might get a paragraph out of each topic I bring up starting with something that occurred to me while I was standing in line to return a hair dryer that had buttons so tiny and stiff that I couldn’t operate/push them. It occurred to be that I was happy I’ll soon be living across the hall from a gym and finesses center. Opening things like pickle jars has gotten to be a real struggle and, yes, I’ve got 4-5 styles of openers that were supposed to be heaven-sent for seniors. After I move I’m just going to pop across the hall with all my pickle and peanut butter jars and announce that I need help. And if none of those old duffers like me can't do it, I'll start timing my "pop overs" around a scheduled class when they'll be a young instructor on site.

One step forward, one step back: I’ve got a job list of things to do before July 1st but it seems like when I cross something off, I have to add something new to the list. I was in the bedroom when I heard a crash coming from the kitchen. It was night and dark in the house and at first I thought someone was breaking in. But when I got to the kitchen---finger poised over the 911 quick call button on my emergency dialer---I found one of the built-in, under the cabinet light fixtures (3 feet long) had pulled loose and was hanging by the wiring at one end. Eighteen years it’s been up there, why now? Does the ghost in the house not want me to leave? Is he trying to sabotage my planned listing? All six screws that used to hold the fixture in place are stripped and there is no way I can fix this on my own. I can’t even change the bulbs inside that fixture on my own because I can’t get the glass hood off with my lack of arm strength and finger dexterity. I cut a couple of pieces of foam core (for art projects) to prop the fixture up, to take the pressure off the wiring, and right now I’m giving it the Scarlet O’Hara treatment of postponing worrying about it until another day. I'm lucky the toaster and coffee maker underneath the fixture came through the 'attack' unscathed. It could have been worse.

Pandemic inspired hair styles: The hair around my face is pure white, a color most people generally would not label as ‘sexy'. In fact there is nothing about me that's ever been labeled 'sexy' except maybe a book I might have in my hand. But recently three people have called my hair ‘sexy’---yesterday from a total stranger. Other people lately have given me less shocking compliments, but I’m guessing the ‘sexy’ label comes from the fact that I now have long bangs on one side that touches the frames of my glasses and covers my entire right eyebrow. I hate that eyebrow, it’s all white while my other one is a mixture of black, brown and white. I almost got them dyed once but the girl about to do it dripped dye in my eye and I thought I’d die or go blind or both so I chickened out.

Hair and Wind: My hair is thick and I’ve learned since I’ve been growing it out that hair is not like memory foam. I go out in the wind, it sticks straight up in the air but it won’t come back down on its own, it doesn’t want to remember where its been. Hair spray doesn’t help keep it from getting wind-whipped nor does that waxy crap that is supposed to hold your hair in place, so I’ve resorted to doing an imitation of James Dean the minute I step out of the wind; I whip a ‘boyfriend pocket comb’ out to tame my mane. It’s the thinnest steel comb I’ve ever seen and it’s designed not to spoil the line of your butt in your tight designer jeans. I don’t have designer pants or buns that deserve to be in them but I do love that comb. I’ve accumulated a lot of hair care products since the pandemic. It’s become a mini obsession but between the wind and not finding a new hair dryer my longer hair style is getting close to its expiration date.

I bought a cheap poster quality print (photo at the top) to fit a large Nielsen frame I didn’t want to dispose of. The original print I had in the frame got badly sun-faded on my porch over the years and I was excited about this new one. I swapped the old print out, put the new one in, not bothering to use a mat. It looked wonderful but if you’ve had any experience in framing you can probably see my rookie mistake coming. I proudly hung up the new print but in the morning I was horrified that it was full of wrinkles. It’s been four decades since I was hot and heaving into framing and I forgot paper needs breathing room. Damn! I had a perfectly good mat on the sun-faded print I could have used but I took it to recycling before I realized my mistake. So I unframed the new print and took it to a frame shop to have them get the wrinkles out then dry mount it on core foam so it won't wrinkle again. You might say I turned my $35 print into a $70 print because of my own mistake. I wouldn’t recommend dry mounting an expensive print, by the way. It destroys it value to most collectors. 

Sometimes it feels like my entire life this past year has been a giant series of steps forward and steps backward. And I haven't even told your about my latest hiccup. My computer lost all its settings, photos and documents just before I was getting ready to pack it up to put it in storage. It's getting the Scarlet O'Hara treatment until next week when my Worry Bucket won't be so full. ©