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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Techno Overload, La-Z-Boys and Old People Woes

For the past 23 months the only times I’ve sat in the living room was when I had company.  Last week I decided to make the room my own and to take over Don’s La-Z-Boy. I swapped his chair and my uncomfortable chair around, giving me more light to read by and to use my laptop while watching TV. I moved a steamer trunk in to use as a side-table in my new sitting space. It wasn’t wheelchair friendly to have it in the room when Don was alive and it’s been down in the basement since we moved in. I’ve owned the trunk since my teens and it was like greeting an old friend to haul it upstairs. It’s not quite the right color for the room but I threw a quilt sampler over it and the trunk will do until I can refinish it.

That night as I settled down to watch a movie in my newly claimed room the dog was having a fit and wouldn’t stop barking. He usually just stares when he needs to go outside but I thought maybe he was having a “body function” emergency so I vacated the chair and quickly headed for the back door. Levi had other plans. The little snot jumped in the La-Z-Boy I had just vacated and curled himself up for a nap. Levi has been using the La-Z-Boy since Don passed away and I guess he thought he had ownership. Poor baby. We had a little talk and I explained the principle of change and moving on and that he would have to use the davenport from now on. It’s going to take time. Levi is a stubborn dog but I put my foot down about me being the “alpha dog” in the house and if he wants to continue enjoying heat, electric and kibble in his dish he’ll have to comply. Widow's work never seems ends, does it.

Last Friday the cable guy was here all afternoon to install a bundle the includes WiFi, on-demand/HD TV, internet and cable phone---it was one of the reasons for the living room remade, the other being the new bundle is actually going to save me $100 a month to get rid of my old land-line phone and 4G service on my laptop. But all this new tech stuff had my aging brain in overload mode.  Voice mail replaced my old answer machine. Whoopee doo.  Learning how to program this, that and the other thing plus use the apps on my first smart phone and keep them all straight wore me right out. But worst of all is the new remote for on-demand/high definition TV in the living room. It has 57 buttons, replacing a remote with just ten.

Two hours after the cable guy left I had to call customer service because I couldn’t remember how to turn the darn TV on and off---it takes a three button sequencing. The agent on the phone insisted he needed the serial number off the back of the HD box so he could send a ping and he got a little snippy with me when I told him the number wasn’t where he told me it was supposed to be. I bit my tongue to keep from asking him if he talks to his grandmother in that tone of voice. Instead, I hung up, called again to get a different agent who sent a ping without even asking for a serial number. I knew, of course, that a ping wasn’t going to solve my issue but they have their procedure to follow before listening to their customers. When I finally got it through to her that I just needed to be told which buttons to push in what order on the remote, I felt like I was taking part in an Abbot and Costello comedy routine. “Who’s on first?” “Who.” “That’s what I want to know! Who’s on first?” Gone are the days of just walking up to a TV, turning a nob and it works. The installer said all TVs in their cable service will be required to have HD boxes next summer, that everything is going to high definition broadcasting. Oh goodie.

When my dad was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s my brother and I got more calls about his TV remote than anything else. We got so frustrated by having to straighten out his TV that my brother finally put the TV on a timer and I used bits of card-stock to cover over all the buttons he didn’t need and that kept getting him into trouble.  And therein lies the source of my current depression Doctor Freud. Between getting a techno overload and missing the Red Hat party last week because I was afraid to drive in the snow, I’m feeling old and obsolete. Heck, I want to be like the woman in the cartoon up above! I want to feel like I can be tech-savvy enough to embrace whatever comes along.

Today I was supposed to go to another party, at the senior hall, but this time instead of pouting about getting snowed-in I took a look at the long-range weather forecast then I called my niece-in-law and invited her to lunch at the sculpture garden on Saturday.  They have an exhibit of Christmas trees decorated in the traditional customs of 40 counties and I’m excited about seeing it. So wish me luck that the weather forecasters got it right here in West Michigan this the weekend. I need to get out of the funk I’m in! ©


  1. Hooray! At least you realize you are on OVERLOAD! That's the first step. The next 358,294 steps are just trial and error. Yes, Grasshopper ... you can do it! My laptop is now an extension of my body. I have a lot of office furniture to sell when I return to Oregon.

    P.S. I bought a laptop desk because they get HOT when you use them!

  2. Thank you, Guru, for the encouragement. LOL

    I have one of those laptop platforms to disperse the heat but I'll never be able to give up my desk top computer---unless they start making them with an ergonomic wave keyboard. I hate writing on a laptop. And I'm still lusting about a tablet and a Bose sound system with satellite radio, but they are going to have to wait many, many, many months.

  3. As you know, I like using trunks and old big boxes for end tables/hideways, so I love your idea. First of all, I gave Fred;s big leather Lazy Boy to my daughter--which freed up about 10 square more feet in my living room--thus I can have the Christmas tree right where I want it. I reclaimed my house (except for Fred's very substantial desk) just 3 months after he died. I have the bundle too--is cheaper in the long run, but I do not have an HD box--oh Lordie--if they make me go to that it is going to cost more then I can afford!!! Warm and rainy on Friday, then cool off and maybe more snow/ice/rain on Sunday. Looking forward, Christmas Eve looks nice for me to drive on up to The Farm. Bad enough to drive after dark--I don't need snow or rain on the trip home.

  4. Don's La-Z-Boy is a lift chair which cost a fortune and although I really don't need one now I'd hate to get rid of it and then need one in a few years when I might not be able to afford one.

    I really need to do more reclaiming of space if I'm going to stay in this house. I admire you for doing it so early on. I didn't bother because I thought I'd be moving to a condo by now. I need room for hobbies and crafts now have time to do.

    Don't be too sure a HD box will cost you more than you can afford. I'm not even getting charged an installation fee and only $3.00 a month to rent the box. They are making deals to get people to up grade.

  5. The trunk is a fab idea. My coffee table in the family room is a trunk that belonged to one of my husband's long-lost relatives. Your doggie saga had me laughing out loud -“body function” emergency. I had a friend who had a beagle, Wags. Wags knew he was not supposed to get on the couch. Every morning when she came downstairs, she heard Wags jump off the couch before she could catch him. So smart.

    About fifty percent of the time Dad would fat-finger the phone when I called him. The caregiver would have to call me back.

    All the electronics drive me crazy. They're like men... can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. We changed our "bundle" a few months ago and got more for less money, but it's an adjustment. The remote is entirely different and so is the screen setup. And if all that were not enough, the font is way smaller. This is an issue. Whew!
    I hope you enjoy that sculpture garden. That was a good save.

  6. I hope someday when I actually need simplified electronics someone will design a TV that is like the Jitterbug phone for old people and the computer that is advertised in AARP.

    Dogs are so smart, aren't they. And entertaining.

  7. I predict that any day now, you'll be sitting in that La-Z-boy chair, thumbing through that remote with the finesse of a Olympic high jumper. If not, a little cussing does wonders to coax these nitwit devices into submission.

    It's really cool that you've reclaimed the La-Z-Boy... has dear doggie adjusted?

  8. I hope you're right. I'm very careful not to accidentally press the wrong buttons and go off to who knows where. LOL As for the dog, he is still sitting in the La-Z-Boy whenever he can. It now has the added advantage of him being able to see both the bird feeder and me at my desktop computer at the same time and he's not going to give that up without a fight.

  9. That's great you stood up for yourself with the customer service guy. And I like that your rearranging of furniture is following your hobbies, and the tree display sounds lovely. Finally, these things you want to learn? They have classes for them! And how fun would that be?

  10. Tech classes are a good idea, Fichereader. I think of a couple I could use. They also have a once-a-month drop-in day at the senior hall where we can bring all our questions....if you can wait that long. I usually can't and will Google the heck out of something until I figure it out. I've been to the tech zoo days at the senior hall even when I didn't have a question just to see what tips I can pick up from others asking questions.

    I am happily knitting every night since I rearranged my furniture. :)

  11. This post brought back memories. I'm trying to remember how long after my father's death it was when my mother claimed his big comfy recliner as her own. At least she didn't have a dog to fight off in order to stake her claim :-)! Clearly Levi needs to learn how to choose his change. -Jean

  12. Oh, he's still choosing to take the La-Z-Boy when ever he gets the chance. LOL