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, December 29, 2018

Wrapping up 2018 with Shock and Awe



It’s unusual for Michigan to get all the rain we’re getting now instead of snow in December. It’s also unusual for our Broad-Winged Hawks to hang around this long; they should be well on their way to South America by now but today one of these 14” to 19” birds sat not six feet from my window, on my deck railing eyeballing the ground below my seed cake feeder. I think he was looking to make dinner out of the next small bird that came along. Not wanting to watch the carnage that I sensed was coming I decided it was a good time to run errands. 

The first stop I needed to make was at Pak-Mail to drop off the pet crate I bought for Levi that turned out to be too big. Amazon sure makes returns easy. I printed the label they generated and by the time I got back home I had an e-mail waiting for me from Amazon saying that $79.99 had been refunded to my credit card, and they only deducted $10 off what I originally paid to cover the return shipping. How the heck do they know I didn’t ship them back a box of rocks or an old, worn out crate? At that point in time all Amazon really knew was I slapped the label they generated onto a box and took it to Pak-Mail. They didn’t even weigh or measure it. I was shocked that a company as big as Amazon still trusts society do the right thing and that made me feel good.

The next stop was at Chow Hound to get some pill pockets for Levi. I’m pretty sure I could get the pills down the dog without the pill pocket/treats but who else do I have to spoil except the dust bunnies and I spoil them by letting them live under my bed. I planned my next stop to be at vet’s office to pick up Levi's prescription but I was so close to the Guy Land Cafeteria that I could hear it calling my name and I wondered why because when I first got there, people-watching was as boring as monitoring a shelf of empty canning jars. But it soon picked up when a young woman in skin-tight, capris length yoga pants and a tee-shirt tied just below her breasts came in, her whole midriff showing---35 degrees outside and no winter jacket. She put a baby on the bench seat of a booth across the aisle from a table of six old guys and she bent over to change the baby’s diaper. I was wondering if I was ever that physically fit and trim and the guys were probably wondering what ever they wonder when a woman’s ass is presented in a place where they couldn’t ignore it if they tried. A sense of awe was on a few of their faces.

It was clear she wasn’t wearing underwear, not even that ‘dental floss’ that passes for thongs and her pants came with a patch pocket on her thigh for a cell phone and she was using the pocket for its intended purpose. Can’t young people do an hour’s yoga class without being connected? If I was being charitable I might concede she could have been using the phone to play a guided meditation app. But at the moment I was being surly and thinking if the phone was set on vibrate, and she got a call, her pants were so tight she’s probably get an unintended thrill. And why that doesn't happen just walking around with her "camel toe" showing in the front is a mystery.

My brother and two of his guy friends have been taking Pilates classes for a couple of years and they got a new instructor who is making them want to quit. The problem? She’s been harassing them to get “proper clothing” for classes; they’ve been wearing loose fitting jogging clothes. He says all the women in class wear yoga pants but until I saw this young woman I didn’t understand why the guys were resisting. The day my older brother starts prancing about in yoga leggings is the day I’ll be able to pay him back for all the teasing I took from him growing up.

After lunch I stopped at a grocery store I’m not fond of but I go there when I don’t need many things because it’s small and easy to get in and out of in a hurry. Michigan is due to change back to winter soon and I wanted to pick up some stuff for New Year’s Eve in case I have to stay put until after 2019 arrives. Ms. Yoga-Butt-in-Our-Faces had me feeling guilty about putting ice cream in my shopping cart so I picked up a tray of mixed veggies and vegetable dip too, knowing it would put a hex on ice cream calories. I haven’t bought ice cream since last summer even though it’s my favorite food group so I didn’t feel too guilty about wanting to ring in the New Year with Ben and Jerry’s. Should I choose to munch on the vegetables instead I know I can count on Levi to beg for the cauliflower and I'll gladly hand it over. My niece gave me a bottle Red Moscato for Christmas and I may use it to toast in the New Year...if I don’t make wine floats out of it first. I’ve never done that before but, heck, what better night of the year to do something wild and crazy. ©    

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Mini Christmas Trip


My brother had three kids and those three nearly perfect human beings (in my eyes, anyway) had five children between them. As it happens in all families, my brother’s grandchildren grew up, got married and started having babies. Now, our family has eleven little ones under four plus one ready to greet the world any minute now. Counting all the spouses that brings my family up to a grand total of twenty-nine going on thirty. With all those little “activity machines” running around, my nieces have been renting the community hall in a small village for our Christmas Eve parties. Due to Michigan’s snowy weather, the distance and me not driving at night, I don’t always make it out to the party. This year, however, Levi the Mighty Schnauzer and I got an invitation to stay overnight at my oldest niece’s so my drive out of town and back home again could be in the daylight. And with no snow in the forecast, I accepted the invitation, thrilled that I’d actually wake up Christmas morning to a tree standing next to a cut stone fireplace in a log cabin that could easily be featured on the cover of Holiday Magic Magazine. 

Let me tell you, Levi getting invited was a big deal and I wanted to be sure he was on his best behavior with all the comforts he enjoys demands at home. I’d use the same packing list for Levi whether it was for an overnight or a month's stay: a crate, crate pad, blanket, old towel (to clean his feet when coming inside), brush, anti-itch pills, food, water and their dishes, leash, treats, winter coat and microchip information. Sounds simple, doesn’t it, to pack for a dog and it would have been if when I got his travel crate up from the basement I hadn’t discovered that Levi no longer fits unless I could teach him how to imitate a headless sardine in a tin can. (I haven’t used the crate since before my husband died and Levi was still a growing boy.) That crate wasn’t a good option so I made a mad dash to three pet stores in the area and none of them had what he needed. 

Amazon had a soft-sided folding crate in a color I could live with, in a size that I thought would be perfect for him. I ordered it, paid extra for two day shipping and Amazon got it to my door at 9:30 PM the day before I was to leave. I unpacked and set it up, loved the style but it was big enough to hold a whole litter of Levi’s which would have been okay-ish except it didn’t fit in my car which kind of defeated the whole purpose of having a travel crate. Oops. When I called my niece to explain my problem she said she had a baby gate we could use to confine Levi in bathroom while we went to the party. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t push it over trying to escape if not for the fact that my niece has a cat. Worry wart that I am, I had visions of coming back to the log cabin after the party to find out that Levi had busted out of lockdown, chased the cat up the Christmas tree, tipping it over into the fireplace and fire department was just putting out the fire as we drove in. 

Thankfully, the cat---bless her heart---hid out in the basement the entire time we were there and Levi amused himself by letting his nose track the “mythical” cat around the house. But he’s afraid of steps and the cat’s afraid of dogs so it was a match made in heaven. As a house guest, Levi was a model of doggie decorum. He didn’t bark at anything, didn't beg at the table. He didn’t jump on the rich, brown leather furniture grouped in front of the fireplace. And he didn’t pee on the Christmas tree or anything else in or outside the house that wasn’t his designated porta-potty area. 

The photo at the top is of the two youngest babies in the family. They’re not twins but their mom’s accidentally bought them the same party dresses. I don’t believe in putting photos of kids online without parental permission---and I’d never ask---but you can’t really see their sweet little faces and, of course, no one knows who Santa is but one of my niece’s is rumored to sleep with this one. At one point or another both these babies were nursed while their mom’s sat in the mayor’s chair on the dais at the front of the hall.

You’re not supposed to have favorites in a group of babies and toddlers, but one little girl who hasn't been walking very long captured my heart. In my younger days, I would have been down on the floor with my camera following her every move. She has black hair that was caught up into a Peddles from the Flintstones topknot and when she wanted to pick something up from the floor she’d do a sumo wrestler pose that cracked me up. She could hold that pose for the longest time, her dark eyes laughing while her red dress hiked up over her outstretched knees and her diapered bottom nearly touched the floor. Oh course, any toddler who isn't afraid of me is a winner in my book and this year there was quite a few at the party.

Except for the dog crate I have to exchange, it was a wonderful Christmas mini trip. ©

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Men in My Life


Monday was the dog’s appointment at the groomers. He was sixth in line with the schnauzer specialist and it wasn’t even noon. Glen says Levi has the best temperament of any schnauzer he’s ever met. I used to worry that I’d bring the wrong dog home sometime---that breed all looks alike---but the older he gets, the more I think that might not be such a bad thing. Puppies and old dogs spend more time at the vets. Glen says the salivary gland issue Levi has is common in the breed and to expect it to happen on the other side of his mouth as well. He says to rub a little Bag Balm on the area every day and that will help keep the gland open. One of the jobs my husband had growing up was to milk the family cows morning and night and they used Bag Balm on cow udder ouchies and he swore by it for healing and softening rough hands. It’s amazing that I’ve had that product in the house for nearly a half a century and I’m still hearing about new uses for it.

While the dog was enjoying his spa day I had errands to run---get the car washed, go to the post office, go the candy store and have lunch at the Guy Land Cafeteria. I forgot how busy everything gets so close to Christmas. The first carwash I went to had twenty plus cars in line so I went to another where I was fifth in the queue. I hate that second carwash but I hate waiting in line even more. At the post office I was also fifth in line with ten holiday-jolly people behind me and the window wasn’t going to open for another ten minutes. I try to avoid the post office this time of the year but I had my two 23 & Me DNA kits to mail and I wanted to get them to their lab before all the people getting kits for Christmas come flooding in. Registering that 23 & Me health kit took FOREVER. If you don’t want to answer a bunch of questions about your health history, don’t get one. If you plan on living a life of crime, skip both the health and the ancestry kits.

I also had thirty-something Christmas cards to mail that I could have dropped in the outside box but then I would have missed seeing the woman sitting on the post office floor boxing up her gifts in priority boxes and the others in line not prepared for the task at hand. Who waits until they are standing in line before putting addresses on their Christmas cards? My cards included a one page, typed letter and the first paragraph read: “Dear Family and Friends, I’ve been writing Christmas letters for many years and I’ll bet a few people wonder why I keep doing them when even sending Christmas cards is falling out of fashion. The answer is simple, it really is but I forgot what I was going to say so there you go.” The letter went on in this silly manner and ended with, “As you can see, I’ve been keeping myself busy since my second __th birthday and now if I could only remember why I keep writing Christmas letters you might not be inclined to start a rumor about me losing a few too many marbles in aging my head. Wishing you a holiday season full of whatever makes you feel well loved and happy.” 

The candy store was so busy I couldn’t find a place to park so I decided I could do without buying the little boxes I usually hand out like---well, like candy---whenever the situation moves me to do so. At the Starbucks window, on a table along with my tip, in line at the Dollar store, to the Salvation Army bell ringer, etc., etc. This place makes all their own, pricey chocolates and you can get tiny gold boxes that hold one perfect truffle. So this year, another long-standing Christmas tradition bites the dust here on Widowhood Lane. I didn't even bring the wreath for the front door up from the basement.

At lunch an old guy two tables away was either staring at me or sleeping with his eyes open or dead. I couldn’t decide which. He was a grumpy looking man in a flannel shirt and an Elks Club hat with an untouched coffee cup sitting in front of him. He creeped me out and I tried looking anywhere but straight ahead at him. Off to the right was a guy in a pink tie who was a fine piece of eye candy who came dangerously close to making me remember what it was like to be horny. To my left was a roly-poly guy chewing on a plastic straw and using it like a tooth pick to clean his teeth. I was fascinated that anyone could do that. 

At one point the guy with the straw threw it on his plate, then picked it back up and licked ketchup off it before sticking the unchewed end back in him mouth. While it was on his plate he was an animated talker and telling a story that required him to pretend he was peeling bills off a stack of money. I didn’t have my hearing aids in so I could make up my own version of what he was telling his co-worker and I was writing in my notebook as fast as I could about the lap dance he was probably getting. Grossing myself out on that story, I glanced over at Mr. Pink Tie. Except for the blond hair, he still looked just like Princess Charming and so out of place surrounded by men like the dead-eyed guy and Mr. Roly-Poly who was dressed in Carhartt bib-overalls. Those overalls and his wind-whipped complexion pegged Roly-Poly as a man who works outdoors in the winter. Finally, these men in my life left. Sighing my disappointment, I closed my notebook. Thank goodness for the Guy Land Cafeteria. It's the best people watching place in my kingdom. ©

P.S. Lest you think I'm vain about my age, my actual Christmas letter did have that blank filled in on the copies I mailed. I've been blogging on the internet for almost two decades in one place or another and from the start I've had a rule about making it too easy for bot crawlers to find my the exact date and place of birth and other information that can be abused.