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 23, 2018

Senior Classes, Scams and Reading Addictions



I signed up to go to two, free back-to-back classes at the senior hall with lunch in between. I should have known when the company sponsoring the seminar is giving you a free lunch there will be a significant sales pitch involved. Still, the two topics were interesting---just not exactly what I expected. The morning class was all about scams, schemes and swindles and how to protect yourself against them and it all boils down to not being gullible---my word, not theirs. Apparently, there are still people out there who believe they can win lotteries they didn’t enter overseas or they trust that people who send them checks for hundreds more than something they are selling on Craig’s List made an ‘honest mistake’ and you can just go ahead, cash their (phony) check and make it right by refunding them the difference. And apparently, there are still people who will fall for the phone scam about grandsons needing get-out-of-jail-money or that your computer is being taken over by a virus but never fear, the guy on the phone can help you stop it. I didn’t learn about any scams I didn’t already know about, but on the other hand it’s a good idea to be reminded of them from time to time because who knows when your brain cells will get wiped out by a meteor shower. 

The afternoon session was all about the services of a company that was new to me but has been around our town for thirteen years, a group of eighteen---all women---CPAs and Daily Money Managers for seniors. It’s for people who are struggling with keeping up with mail, bill paying, filing receipts, budgeting, doing income taxes or who are trying to sort out their medical bills and their insurance issues. They’ll do everything but sign your checks which they are not authorized to do---it’s not a conservatorship---nor will they teach you about investing, which is what I thought the lecture was going to be about. My mistake, I didn’t read the class description carefully enough. I did, however, pick up a good resource for researching the background and experience of financial brokers, advisers and firms---BrokerCheck.org. It was on a handout they gave us and that handout was worth my time spent at these classes. Assuming, of course, that when I need those resources links I’ll still know where I filed the handout and I’ll remember how to use a computer. Those meteor showers can melt the marbles in your head if you're not wearing your tinfold hat.

One interesting fact about this group is that they are funded by a senior millage, one I voted for and they charge on a sliding scale from $3.00 to $48.00 an hour. Boo hoo, guess which end of the scale I fall in. The average person who uses the service has two, two hour house calls per month. I do not need a service like this but it’s nice to know it exists. And if you are poor and lonely it would be worth $12.00 a month just to get four hours’ worth of company. For me, at the rate of $48 times four ($192) I’d rather hire someone to take me out for a nice steak, a bottle of wine and a movie. And it bums me out that I’d be essentially paying twice if I use this service---in my county taxes to supplement their other clients and then again by check for myself. Still, I can see how a service like this can keep you living longer in your own home. When you’re old and alone in the world, if you keep forgetting to pay your utilities social services steps in and bing-bam-boom you're shipped off to a nursing home via way of a court order. (That's not a joke like meteor showers and tinfold hats, in case you're wondering.)

Change of topic: Reading has become my excuse for not doing stuff I should be doing now that summer is here. If it was a drug I should be in rehab to rid myself of the gotta-read-monkey on my back. If I’ve got a book or the Kindle in my hand, I can’t do exercise I desperately need to be doing nor can I deep clean my closet, prepare things to take to the auction house or organize a garage sale. In the past month I’ve read The President is Missing; The Handmaid’s Tale, The Woman who Smashed Codes; Murder, Curlers and Cream; The Good Widow; Born a Crime; and I just started reading two books at once: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry for book club and the Luckiest Girl Alive just because the title called me over to the book rack at the grocery store like a drug pusher promising me a good time if I’d just exchange a little money for what he’s selling.

The Handmaid’s Tale surprised me the most because I didn’t realize it was dystopian novel set in the near future after the U.S. government had been overthrown and taken over by a totalitarian, patriarchal society. (Silly me, I thought it was going to be a tale about a too-weird-for-words cult.) Thank goodness I don’t have Hula or I’d be binge watching The Handmaid's Tale seasons one and two. I long to know more! In the era we’re in right now, it’s easy to suspend my disbelief and imagine that something like the author wrote about could actually happen if we don’t reign in our collective intolerance and start doing some critical thinking about what it means to be the kind of nation our Founding Fathers envisioned---one that values Truth, Justice and Compromise. ©


28 comments:

  1. That's a lot of books, but I don't mean it in an addictive way, I mean it's impressive. I don't have Hulu too. I'm a little burned out on dystopian worlds, coz baby, we are living in one. :(

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    1. I've never really like dystopian worlds in fiction because I used to think we're better than that. I couldn't suspend my disbelief but now I not so sure....

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  2. I would need more than a free lunch to sit through those two classes. Best I can do these days is listen to audible books.

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    1. It's that widow's brain. No one I know could concentrate on reading and lectures in the first year of widowhood like you're in. It gets better. Took me 2-3 years to start reading again.

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  3. '1984' by George Orwell and 'The Handmaid's Tale' - were both prescient.

    Anyone can be a scam victim. The spammers just need to figure out your weak spot - greed, avarice, need for love/romance, whatever. It's good to attend these kind of workshops to stay alert. You did well to attend. ~ Libby

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    1. They said the same thing, Libby. They play on emotions and they say they are getting better at writing in English which makes them harder to spot.

      Lots of people here were reading 1984 when Trump first got elected because of the comparisons. I couldn't bring myself to do it, but it's still on my Amazon wish list.

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  4. Wow! You’ve been writing about some heavy duty stuff since I commented here last. Serendipity is a favorite word of mine, but I don’t have it mixed up with divine intervention.

    I’ve neglected my book club for about a year. The conversations there are never as confrontive as you describe, but the books chosen don’t really provide the opportunity for such. The books that actually make it to the reading list have to survive hurdles — the local library has to be able to provide an ample supply of loaners, now some have to be available on audio, others in large print — as the needs of members (some long time) have changed. I stopped going for awhile because I have so many more current unread books here at home, and some in an area of special interest right now that take precedence on my time. Also, I have another iron in the fire I’ll share in the future. I, too, get on reading jags, devouring one right after another sometimes.

    Yeah, I went to some Sr. presentations, too, at our Center. The scam one — I tend to view it that I’m fortunate to be aware of all the scams they brought up, so I didn’t really hear anything new. I did realize that not everyone keeps up in the way I do, for many reasons, and these presentations are designed for them. I know there’s a need for them because where I get my hair done, they’ve told me of people they know, some customers there, who have fallen for some of these scams — people who appeared to be competent ordinary people. Who knows what goes on there.

    The financial group you described is one more source for assistance, I suppose some might use, but obviously wouldn’t be advisable for many. The most recent Sr. presentation I attended here was on setting up trusts, etc. which is important if people haven’t done so, especially at our age. We never know when we’re going to get that meteor shower and heaven help us if we’re not wearing our tinfoil hats!




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    1. Our library has about 200 book titles that are available for clubs which means they have 12 copies plus two that are large print. People do fight over those large print.

      Lots of people at the lecture on scams knew people who had fallen for them. It really is good to be reminded that it can happen, especially as we age.

      The financial group has its advantages in that they are bonded and insured where when people ask healthcare aids or family members to help with their bills, they can't always be trusted and there is no recourse if they misuse your credit card numbers or steal checks. I was quite impressed by women we meant who started the service, I sat next to her at lunch as well as listened to her lecture.

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  5. '1984' (George Orwell) and The Handmaid's Tale were both prescient - truly remarkable.

    Its good to keep up to date with scams. No one is immune. They'll find one's weakness - avarice, greed for love/romance, whatever. You did well to attend that class. ~ Libby

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    1. Okay, I just realized this is a duplicate post and I was still half asleep when I put it through. LOL

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  6. Jean, I never I thought I'd ever get caught in a scam but I did and thank goodness my friend stopped me from giving money. It was the computer scam. It scared me so much that now I don't know whats good or bad.
    Wow, can you read many books. I would like to read more books but after about 5 to 10 pages, my eyes go looney and I have to stop.
    Truth, Justice & Compromise, I wonder if Trump ever read about these 3 words.
    I loved " I Opened a Book ". It me a lot of sense and usually a lot of things don't make sense. LOL. Enjoy reading your books my friend. See ya Jean.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. It is scary that you came so close to being scammed. Best to always be cautious. They told us at the class that scammers always want you to do things in a hurry or you lose the opportunity or the bad thing will happen. I accidentally gave a store clerk a $50 thinking it was a $5. That scared me to death, like a sign that I'm slipping. Thankfully, she never knew and gave me the correct change but I could have just as easily laid it on a table for a tip!

      Isn't that poem great!

      Mr. Trump sees compromise as a weakness instead of a strength. The other two words are not in his vocabulary.

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  7. I guess you have to answer your phone first to be scammed. If I don't know the caller, I just don't answer. Now if they come knocking at my door---?:)
    I am curious about the Handmaids Tale but haven't nibbled yet.

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    1. That is what they told us in the class...don't answer your phone. I don't take that advice and if I did I'd miss calls from places confirming appointments or follow up medical stuff, friends calling from the kid's phones and long lost relatives, etc. I never remember to look at the voice mail and scammers leave messages there too so you still have to listen. When I answer the phone I can at least push the 'block caller' button and that has really cut down on those types of calls.

      Scammers to come door to door. They talked about them and they most always want to do work on your house because "they are in the neighborhood" and saw you need such and such.

      It took me a long time to get a download of The Handmaid's Tale...curiosity finally got to me. It's really a weird book. LOL

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  8. We have had at least three people at condo complex get scammed big time. One was an email about a specific condo couple getting passports stolen while on a mission. Email was sent to man at condo who sent $3,000 ... without even checking to see if they were home (they were). He was ANGRY they wouldn’t reimburse him.

    Another was computer protection scam. Also in $1,000’s. And one that duped us (and others) was a well dressed young man whose car broke down on way to interview and he needed cab money.

    Always a cheater somewhere!

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    1. Wow! It sure helps to have a skeptical mind! Expecting a scammer to reimburse him just shows he doesn't understand what happened and shouldn't be in charge of his own money. Haven't heard about the car broke down on the way to an interview scam and that makes me sure that I'll sign up for this class again, if it becomes a yearly event. Gotta stay on our toes.

      Thanks for sharing!

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  9. ooo...how was The President is Missing? And I read the Handmaid's Tale years and years ago (maybe when it was first published). It was chilling. My son's GF watches the Hulu version and says it's really great. I just can't justify yet another premium pay channel. I used to read as voraciously as you. Several books going at at time, picking one up to fit my mood. I've really backed off as my eyes have been giving me fits and I have so much "resistance" work to do. LOL You inspire me to get back to reading for pleasure and broadened horizons.

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    1. The president snuck out without his Secret Service or press corp and was saving the world while everyone was wondering where he was.

      You still read a lot, just that you read for a purpose that's really important right now. I don't usually read this much fiction over such a short time, it's just been my way of avoiding life for awhile.

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  10. Jean, it just makes me sick when I hear of people being scammed especially when the scammer is preying on the individual's basic kindness and desire to help someone in need. We have beggars at the traffic lights here in town. They hold up signs that say they need money for food, but if you offer them food they swear at you so you know what they really need is money for drugs or booze.
    I read the Handmaid's Tale many, many years ago. I will put it on my list for a re-read. Did you know that they shot the outdoor scenes of the TV show in my town? I haven't watched it but will someday.

    Deb

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    1. We have beggars on corners too but they don't last long as there are ordinaries against it and the police will pick them up if they can.

      That's really interesting about The Handmaid's Tale series being shot in your town. It would be hard not to find a way to see those episodes!

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    2. I gave up cable TV a while ago so if it's its not on Amazon Prime or Netflix, I don't see it. It's hard to fine enough time to watch TV to justify the cost of cable. I'll bet our library has The Handmaid's Tale on DVD (if it has gone to DVD). Next time I'm at the library I'm going to check.

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    3. I never thought to look at the library for DVDs. Thanks for sharing that idea! I just saw The Stepford Wives, the Nicole Kidman version. That was fun.

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  11. Oh, I know what you mean about reading books. When I get into a good one it goes with me anywhere and it's very hard to get much else done!

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    1. I go in streaks...over due the reading then stop for a week weeks then I'm right back at it.

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  12. I used to read and read and read and read. I chose to teach English partly because I could teach books and the language for a living! But for the past 5 years or so, I've been unable to read a book--to "get into it" as I used to. I can't concentrate and stick with it. (And I used to read 10 books in a summer.) It is, for me, a terrible tragedy that I've lost my ability to read books, no matter how hard I try to regain it.

    But I keep trying.

    Count yourself most fortunate.

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    1. I lost my concentration for reading for a couple of years after Don died. I think it's pretty common with people who are going through stress or changes of any kind. If you want it to come back, it will. It just takes time and a partial or complete resolution for whatever it was the made your concentration wane in the first place.

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  13. One of my friends volunteers for the Daily Money Managers program; her role is to supervise the daily money managers.

    I classify my reading addiction as one of several "addictions that are good for me." When I was a child, my mother would take away my books until I had finished my chores on Saturday morning. The rest of the time, though, she strongly encouraged reading. We all had flashlights that we kept under our pillows, supposedly so that we could get up and go to the bathroom during the night without parental help, but really for reading under the covers.

    It's been thirty years since I read The Handmaid's Tale, but I think it's withstood the test of time pretty well. Even the opening, when the protagonist discovers that her electronic access to her bank funds has been denied, still works. -Jean P.

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    1. I was surprised to learn about the Daily Money Managers program. The women who did the talk seemed very caring and kind.

      I don't remember ever reading with a flashlight until this century because regular lights would keep my husband awake. But I remember writing in my diary with a flashlight.

      I was shocked to learn how long ago The Handmaid's Tale was written. It felt like it was projections of what what is going on now only, of course, in the future.

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