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, May 31, 2014

The Day Trip and the Fancy-do Restaurants

Thursday I went on a restaurant hop to a tourist town along Lake Michigan. Restaurant hops are popular events at my senior center and they do a couple a year. The way these restaurant hops work is we’ll have a salad or soup at one swanky place---this year it was on the fifth floor of a hotel with ceiling-to-floor glass walls on two sides. Needless to say, the views were as incredible as was the spinach almond salad with dried cherries and bacon balsamic vinaigrette with a side of warm flat bread that I had pre-ordered before the day trip. Then the 50 of us split off into little informal groups to shop for an hour and half along the tourist hub of specialty stores before meeting up at another restaurant for the main course. That was at an Irish pub and those who had them claimed the beer floats were incredible. I’m not a beer drinker and can’t wrap my head around the concept of ice cream and beer together in a glass but West Michigan is getting quite the reputation for its micro-breweries and unusual offerings in the higher end bars. I had turkey breast slices layered with avocado, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion with Chipotle aioli on grilled sourdough bread plus cottage fries. It was great!

More shopping was on the schedule after that and before the dessert course of wonderful creations served on the whitest tablecloths you can imagine. It was an elegant place in a converted, 120 year old storefront on Main Street where we could watch the tourists walking by. I had coconut panna cotta with pineapple, tapioca and cilantro. Very different than anything I’d ever had before which is why I choose it and it was easy on the palate---light but flavorful. On day trips like this I love sitting down in a restaurant and having your heart’s desire brought to you without having to go through the ritual of everyone at the table reading a menu and changing their minds a hundred times. When we sign up for these trips we all pre-order from a choice of three things for each course.

I’m not a fan of window shopping (or purposeful shopping for that matter) and if I would have remained alone on this trip I probably would have found a shady place to people watch or read part of the time and I would have been perfectly content doing it. But another widow who lost her husband a year after I lost Don and I are slowly building a relationship and she invited me to tag along with her and another woman as they checked out the boutiques. They are going to Ireland in the fall with a group from the senior hall and they were using this day trip to get to know each other better since they will be sharing a room on their overseas adventure. The senior hall sponsors a guided, overseas trip once a year and if I was inclined to go abroad I’d feel safe traveling that way. If they ever pick Paris or Alaska as a destination I will probably be tempted beyond my ability to say no. It’s not on my Bucket List to travel but I’d love to see the Louvre in Paris and Glacier Bay in Alaska via an inside passage cruise. Thankfully, I’d have nine months to “train” and get in better shape for a trip like that. The day after the restaurant hop I was so wiped out I could hardly move. Walking in the sun and riding in cramped seats and my old bones don’t mix well.

In case anyone is wondering what a restaurant hop costs, we each paid $36.00 and that included the 3-course meal and non-alcoholic beverages, gratuities and transportation. Our senior hall doesn’t make money off any of our trips and events so they are as affordable as they can possibly be for what we get in return. Next month I’m going on another day trip, this time to our state capital where we’ll be dining on a riverboat cruise.

I have been known to "bring Don along" on these day trips via my ash locket with his picture and date of birth and death inside. I sometimes wear it for courage and Thursday I noticed that my shopping companion had an unusual pendant on her necklace. It was a circular glass piece surrounded by diamonds and it held her husband's wedding ring. Inside of the glass---in the center of the ring---were tiny things floating around---a cross, a yellow ribbon, a boat, etc., that represented different parts of his life. I like my more discrete heart-shaped locket with its tiny pocket for ashes better BUT if I had seen one of those pendants first, before having Don's ring incorporated into a beaded necklace, I would have bought it. See what I missed by not being a fan of the Home Shopping channel!  ©


  1. Jean,
    I am green with envy every time you mention your senior hall events. As far as I know, we don't have those kinds of activities available to seniors that are offered by any one group. Our neighboring county does offer things like yoga and hiking and such associated with parks and rec. I took yoga for 55-plus, but I'd love to participate in trips/events like your restaurant hop or museums or gardens or Capitol visits, etc. I agree about traveling abroad or other big trips. You need to be in shape and if you're like me, you better take your digestive/laxative type meds. I always get constipated when I travel. I know, TMI. Sorry.

    I don't think ice cream and beer is a culinary adventure I want to try. Your sandwich and dessert sound wonderful, though.

    I like the idea of your discreet locket.

    1. I'd want to take the whole pharmacy with me deal with rashes, hives, allergies and digestive issues. I have a day's worth in my purse at all times now and I rarely get far from home.

      Our senior hall director just got her job turned from a part time job into to a full time job so think the hall activities are going to get better and better. And I don't take part in half the stuff they do...like going to plays and musicals.

  2. Sounds like fun, but I just can't walk that far with all the shopping AND--I dislike browsing, shopping or anything like that. I'm one of those, know what I need, do and get it and get home, LOL I'm glad you can do this and take Don with you. I have a small Black Hills Gold cross that I wear all the time and sometimes, I find myself holding it in my hand for courage.

  3. I much prefer doing the shopping part of these trips on my own then I can stop and rest whenever I like, but you can't build friendships by being anti-social around your pool of potential friends. So I went along from store to store to get along. LOL

    I love Black Hills Gold and I'm glad your cross gives you courage when needed.

  4. All three restaurants sound dreamy, and you probably walked off every single calorie. You're quite a good sport joining the two women, doing something you'd rather sit out, just so you can continue getting to know your new friend better. I hope you had a good time. I'd probably be the one to wander to the sidelines to locate my courage, taking a deep breath where it's quieter. The locket sounds interesting and comforting and useful.

    Do you see yourself doing group things for the rest of your life, or winnowing those down as you settle in with a few good friends, going on smaller excursions?

    1. I will continue doing the group trips and outings. 1) Driving long distances for people in my age bracket will just get harder and less safe to do as we age, and 2) I've kind of given up on the idea of finding a couple of close friends. But I'm coming around to being okay with that....not there yet, but stranger things have happened. LOL

      I wouldn't exactly call it being a good sport to tag along with the other women. I've always been a 'blender' and 'go-along-with-the-flow' kind of person. My tastes are not mainstream around here and it is what it is.

      I added another comment on your last post. Did you see it?

  5. The restaurant hop sounds like a delightful event -- although, like you, I have low tolerance for shopping. I'd be okay if one of the stores was a good bookstore, and I can last a little while with tools or housewares, but I get bored in clothes stores after about 2 minutes.
    Paris and Alaska are two of the places I want to go back to again. -Jean

    1. They are fun. Most of the restaurants are to places above my normal budget for eating out but they give us the banquet rates. We usually have 3 buses, one each 3 days in a row.

      Shopping in bookstores, craft stores or antiques stores I don't mind but I very much dislike shopping for clothing and shoes!