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, February 3, 2018

Party Time and Wasting Time on Widowhood Lane



I nearly forgot to write my Saturday sacrifice to the gods of cyberspace because all week I’ve been burning up the internet shopping for birthday décor for a party that isn’t going to happen for two and a half months. I’m so one tracked when I’ve got a bee in my bonnet like that. I should be working on my income taxes or cleaning the insides of my kitchen cabinets which I usually do this time of the year. I’ve got a whole house full of similar projects I could be doing but, no, instead I’m driving myself crazy looking at Alice in Wonderland theme napkins, drink me bottles, keys, pocket watches, pink flamingos, tea party menus and other things that have nothing to do with the age of the guest of honor. And who would that be, you ask? Me. I’m throwing myself a party. An English Afternoon Tea Party with finger sandwiches and eatable gemstones---rubies, sapphires and diamonds, oh my! Well, unless I change my mind which I’ve been doing all week.

I’ve probably driven my best friend since kindergarten crazy right along with me with e-mails flying back and forth. N.B. is my go-to person when it comes to questions about cooking and entertaining. She’s spent most of her adult life creating fabulous menus for parties and get-togethers out in suburbs of Washington, D.C.  She creates and cooks. I buy and warm up. She loves entertaining. I fall apart at the very thought. She owns lots of china and linens in different patterns and colors. Back two years ago I decided to downsize my large collection of Buffalo 1940s diner dishes that I used every day and instead I completed my mom’s set of lily-of-valley dishes by Primrose China to make up place settings for six plus a few serving dishes. The internet is great. It only took me a two month of shopping e-Bay and the China Replacement LTD and more money than I care to admit to find what my mom probably got free with her groceries. It seems fair since my brother and I were probably responsible for breaking more than our share of her favorite dishes back when we were kids.

I got off track here. Back to the party. This week I’ve been to Hobby Lobby twice. Once to buy and once to return the table décor. In between I discovered that my one and only table cloth isn’t big enough when I put the extensions in the table so the color scheme I was going to use had to leave town before dark. Can you tell I don’t entertain enough to even know a basic fact like that? That wouldn’t happened to N.B. and I panicked over the discovery. She had a great work-around solution only by the time I read her e-mail I had combed the World Wide Web and found a set of six placemats that will go with my mom’s dishes and my vintage moss green Fenton thumbprint stemware. Yes, the party will be small---my Gathering Girls friends---and I’m not sure what I’m going to do for a seventh place setting but I’ll come up with something for the birthday girl.

What I’m most proud of finding on the web are little glass bottles with corks and tags that read, “Drink Me!” Do you think women in their 70s and 80s---my guests---will remember that Alice drank a potion from a bottle to shrink her size so she’d fit through the door to the magic garden? I’m thinking of buying the “Eat Me!” tags too to put on cherry tarts like Alice ate but I think we all know that eating sweets makes us grow bigger. I may have to read Lewis Carroll’s book again in case someone quizzes me on how some of the Alice in Wonderland things fit into the story, include pink flamingos, pocket watches and Victorian keys.

At Hobby Lobby they had an entire featured display of flamingo stuff---from pillows to signs to salt and pepper shakers to glasses and dishes. They grew on me as I walked around and around the display. They made me smile and reminded me of vacations with warm weather and blue skies. If the dollar store has some flamingo yard ornaments this spring I might buy one to put by my front door for the party and make a sign saying, "Go this way!" But I'm not sure how many adults will remember the book well enough to know about those signs and flamingos.

In my travels around the internet this week I found an article at Smithsonian.com titled, The Tacky History of the Pink Flamingo. I wasn’t really surprised to learn they’ve been around since 1957. Talk about staying power! They were first created in Massachusetts, of all places, by an art school sculptor who’d been hired by a local plastics company and the rest is history, a history that early-on included Andy Warhol helping to make the fake birds become a cultural pop-icon. And that’s your retro-cool aficionado lesson for today. Oh, no! Should I/could I change my party theme---again---this time to Flamingo City? This week should go down in The Big Book of Wasted Time as a classic example of a widow with too much time on her hands. ©

32 comments:

  1. The party sounds like great fun, and it sounds like you're enjoying planning it!

    I constantly wonder what we'd do without the internet. Like most people, I rush to it to answer my most basic queries. ~ Libby

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    1. There were a lot of years when I'd go to the library twice a week with a list of things to look up. But now the only time I go is if they've got an interesting lecture planned. Though when the weather is better I need to go and have them show me how to borrow books with my Kindle Fire.

      I have been having fun planning a theme party.

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  2. If you go with the pink flamingo by the front door, combine it with a croquet ball, and that ought to do it. Who can forget the image of playing croquet with a flamingo? Do a Google image search for "playing croquet with flamingo" and you'll get some remarkable results -- and maybe a few ideas.

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    1. I had actually forgotten how the flamingos fit into the book but your right, a few more visual clues would help. I've been all over the internet looking for stuff and it finally dawned on my that I have stuff in the house that would fit it....like a large white rabbit, pocket watches, a dollhouse table with a tea set and cake and a tiny handmade rabbit that could sit at that table. I'm off to google "playing croquet with flamingo."

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  3. I used to decorate my classroom with pink plastic flamingos and other pink flamingo decor just for fun.

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    1. Over the years I've been tempted to get a flock of flamingos for my yard and move them around the yard in the middle of the night. But I guess in some neighborhoods it's a big prank to move a flock around different people's yards. That's what stops me from buying them. If I pay for them, I don't want to lose them!

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    2. We've had some serious discussions lately about a flamingo or two for our yard-we could always put it in the tiered back yard. Although, we already have five different cement trolls circling our tree that no one has messed with. So maybe we might risk it.

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    3. Trolls have a way of disappearing too, I hear. Glad you've had good luck with yours staying home.

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  4. I admire your pluck but could never in this life time tackle such a project. Have fun and I do hope you take lots of pictures.

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    1. I've only planned two parties in my entire life and have only had people over dinner 3-4 times so this could be a huge disaster. But these ladies are so much fun I'm sure anything that that went wrong would be accepted as just part of who I am with no criticism.

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    2. Oops, make that three parties. I forgot I hosted the very first queen crowning of my Red Hat Society with 20 some people, but others did bring food. The planning and decorating was all on me. It was fun.

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  5. OMG this party theme/idea is FREAKING BRILLIANT!!!! And I hereby give you permission to buy one more place setting, as your birthday gift to the birthday girl (yourself.) I'm just gobsmacked at how great this theme is! (and I'm much more like you - for lack of room and motivation- than your friend is, re gumption on party and entertaining.)

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    1. When I first decided I wanted to do a party---to make up for all the ones I didn't get as a kid (or an adult)---I knew I wanted something that reminded me of childhood. When I settled on Alice in Wonderland I couldn't believe how much stuff is available. I truly am having a hard time editing my choices down because you could spend a freaking fortune if you got it all.

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  6. Sounds like a lot to bite off at our age. I remember doing up the big themed parties for my kids ... lots of work and lots of clean up. I hope your party is a big success!

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    1. I never had kids to plan parties for but I'll bet that was fun. The food part is the only thing that will stress me out and I'm keeping it really simple by doing a tea party theme.

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  7. This party sounds FANTASTIC! I wish I lived closer ... we had a Let's Flamingle party last summer ... our Dollar Store did have tall metal flamingos ... I stuck them in pineapples for potluck tables. Amazon had straws with flamingos, sox with flamingos and you are right you can spend money fast! HAVE FUN!

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    1. Trust me, I'm lusting over those straws at Amazon. I got their napkins with Alice holding a Flamingo. I was thinking today it would be easier to have a bigger party than just seven because then I could using a catering service. The fun part is the shopping for stuff. Oh, well, on my 100th birthday I'll do that.

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  8. What an excellent theme! The party sounds like it will be a blast as it is driven by your enthusiasm!

    I love the little bottle idea. I feel like filling a couple of them with colored water for the kitchen window with Warning Do Not Drink Me. You Will Shrink!

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    1. Those little bottles are so cute and I'm already trying to figure out how to use them the party is over. I love your variation on classic "Drink me!"

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  9. I see the comment above but I must admit that I didn’t remember the flamingos in Alice in Wonderland. It’s the caterpillar and the cat and the tea party that I remember. I guess I should revisit the book! It is always an entertaining reread. You could have a black and white checkered tablecloth and play chess (or some variation).
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. Party supplies places sell black and white checkered tablecloths for Alice themed parties but they are plastic and I wanted it be more Victorian elegant than kid friendly Alice. I don't remember the caterpillar at all! There are so many possibilities for decor' to go along with that theme. That's why I keep changing my mind. I saw a platter of sandwiches set up like a chest set, but I won't have enough tea sandwiches for that. But you've reminded me that I have a miniature, magnetic set in the car that I might be able to work in some place. If it's plastic coated it might even work on top of the cake. The cat is a great character! Love the cat.

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    2. P.S. Maybe I'll pull lines out the book to attach to the things I use.

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  10. Love, love the Alice theme, and I want to hear all about this party and see pics too, but why, oh why did you bring up taxes Jean???!! I hadn't given that a single thought until just now. I almost had to breathe into a paper bag!

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    1. I actually started on my taxes today but I didn't get very far before my paper shredder gave out and I lost interest. I do not like this yearly ritual.

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  11. Oh for goodness sake! What fun!!! I'm so glad you still have your kindergarten friend. Mine's been gone nearly 6 years and I still find it harder to be without her than it is to be without Fred. Pink Flamingo lawn ornaments have been around since 1957? Well, so have we!!!

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    1. What impresses me is that pink flamingo has had such staying power. How many cheap, fads have done that? I actually remember them from a vacation we took in the late fifties. I still have some of the postcards we bought.

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  12. What fun, you better post the photos of your hard work!

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    1. The danger of starting this early is I'll be bored with the whole thing by the time the party actually happens.

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  13. I love your Alice in Wonderland birthday party theme. I wouldn't know all those allusions to the book, but who cares? The gaps in memory of the book could provide a wonderful opportunity for guests to pool their knowledge to puzzle out the decorative themes. I've also been thinking about what I can do to make this year's birthday special, but I'm not as creative as you are. -Jean P.

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    1. I'm thinking of writing out some quotes of famous lines from the book that connect with a particular iconic thing like the flamingos, maybe put one by each place setting.

      I was dreading my next birthday but I'm not anymore, now that I'm planning something positive. Picking a favorite book, poem, author or hobby is a great place to start with a party theme. The ideas will write themselves once you make the that first decision.

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  14. What a fun theme....and the party will be a blast! I'm with you on cooking/entertaining. I can do it, but I'm not a "natural" and I get obsessed with making everything more "perfect" than I have a clue how to execute. I had forgotten most of Alice from reading it, but loved the Johnny Depp version of the movie, so I remember most of what I know from that. :)

    We have a Hobby Lobby here that got some of my biz when helping with my son and daughter-in-law's wedding. I always hoped my friends wouldn't see me going in there -- the Hobby Lobby politics is on the "boycott" list amongst my friends. I haven't been back since (2013), but they had just what we needed at that time, so...I declared an emergency and shopped there -- have since paid penance. Ha

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    1. It kills me to go to Hobby Lobby for the same reason your friends boycott the place. My excuse is I had exhausted all the other local and online places so I guess I had an emergency, too. :)

      I'll have to see if I can find the Johnny Depp version to watch before my birthday. I'd forgotten about that.

      From the photos you've shared of your house at holiday time I think you under estimate your ability to do the perfect party decor.

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