Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wakeup ‘Calls’ and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood


After sleeping a grand total of 3 hours and 4 minutes according to my Fitbit I got woke up by the dog having a hissy-fit while attacking the narrow glass panel that runs next to my front door. It was 5:30 in the morning with just enough hazy pre-dawn light coming in that he could see something out there. I know his that-dog-is-in-my-territory bark. This wasn’t it. I know how he enthusiastically greets expected guests and solicitors. This wasn’t it. This, as it turned out, is how he greets juvenile raccoons who do spread eagles on the window pane and act like Levi is the most interesting schnauzer they’ve ever seen. But let me tell you, before I found out what that dog was going pitbull-postal about, I was a tad worried someone was trying to break in.

I grabbed my emergency dialer off its charging cradle on my nightstand and cautiously approached the front door. A short press of the dialer button brings an emergency operator, a long hold calls the police. Or is it the other way around? I couldn’t remember but I approached the door window with my finger paused over the button. With Levi’s barking and a large human figure trying to hold him back, that curious raccoon wasn’t the least bit intimidated. Her small face was adorably sweet looking up at me and I got a wonderful view of her paws on the window pane. Even taping the glass didn’t scare her off. I’ve lived here for almost two decades and I’ve never seen a raccoon, not even road kill. But a couple of blocks away they’re cutting down a lot of trees to put a brand new street through wooded acreage, so I suppose I’ll start seeing more critters looking to relocate. I just hope little Miss. Raccoon doesn’t make a habit of visiting Levi in the night. 

It was Monday morning and there was no way I was going to fall back to sleep after that “wakeup call” so I put the coffee pot on and started my morning routine which doesn’t usually include watching the sun come up. If I had an ocean or lake view I would have been impressed but through the white pines all I got was an hour when I had to pull my venetian blind back down because the glare on my computer screen made it impossible to read. Sipping coffee with Italian sweet creamer I surveyed the week ahead on my day planner: Later that morning I had a brunch date with the Gathering Girls lined up and Tuesday it was an ice cream social at the senior hall. Wednesday a breakfast garden party with the Red Hat Society was on the agenda and Thursday I’ll be taking the dog in for his annual teeth cleaning before the crack of dawn. And Friday I’ll be up early again, waiting for the plumber who will probably show up closer to 9:00 than 8:00 of his arrival window. 

It frustrates me to no end that I have weeks like this where all the fun (and not so fun) stuff is bunched together and other weeks where I sit at home with only the dog and the wildlife to talk to. Even the vet and plumbing appointments weren’t as flexible as you might think. Unless it’s an emergency, the plumbing company only schedules calls to my neighborhood on certain days and I get a $100 discount at the doggie dentist, by getting Levi in within a certain time frame. I call this my Goldilocks Effect: One bowl/week of the month is always too cold, one bowl/week is too hot and one bowl/week of the month is just right. And while I’m bitching about something, who on earth decided to make socks right and left foot specific? I bought them, saw the L and R but didn’t believe they were made differently. They are and they do feel weird if you put them on the wrong foot. Now I’m trying to remember if the seven pair panties sets we had as kids with the names of the days embroidered on them, felt differently if we wore Sunday’s undies on Saturday.  But I digress. 

Have you seen the movie/documentary Won't you be my Neighbor? that's been on PBS and in select theaters? I haven't but from what I hear about it, I wish with all my heart that we could kidnap Mr. Trump, tie him down to a chair, gag him and make him watch all the episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the 1960s TV series produced for kids. Learning about kindness and empathy are obviously things he missed in his early childhood development. According to the New York Times movie review, Fred Rogers tried to teach children “how to navigate ‘some of the more difficult modulations’ in everyday life — might now be classified as emotional literacy. He acknowledged that anger, fear and other kinds of hurt are part of the human repertoire and that children need to learn to speak honestly about those feelings, and to trust the people they share them with.” Fred Rogers was a seminary graduate, a trained composer and contrary to what alt-right forum posters are claiming about him “ruining society with all that ‘touchy, feely’ crap” Mr. Rogers was the kind of person I would have liked for a neighbor. I could have called him early in the morning and he would have understood why that raccoon episode scared the crap out of me. ©


"Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It's something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength and other words--like aggression and even violence. Real strength is neither male nor female; but is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that any human being can possess." 
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Location 161).

"Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it." 
From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 111-114).

34 comments:

  1. Mister Rogers will always be the poster boy for non-toxic masculinity, for me. Would that all men, nay people, were more like him. He is right - real strength has nothing to do with aggressiveness or violence. People that choose those options are the opposite of strong. They are weak.
    Thanks Jean. I want to see this documentary too. Hope it comes to Netflix soon.

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    1. I'm so glad someone made the documentary and a new generation of people are seeing him and his approach to talking with children. It's been on PBS several times but I keep missing it. I haven't looked at On-Demand but I'm hoping to find it there soon.

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  2. Trump supporters need to watch this too, but you know it's all fake news.

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    1. LOL I was actually shocked to see some of his supporters putting Mr. Rogers down.

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    2. Dissing Mr. Rogers is un-American! And I'm starting to feel that seeing our flag fly on pick-up trucks means there's a white supremacist driving. What an odd time we're living through.

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    3. It creeps me out too when I see huge American flags in the back of pick up trucks. I think they are more likely Alt-right and it's an aggressive act, chip on shoulder sort of thing.

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    4. I'm visiting family right now in Tenn. In their paper this morning was an article about the vehicle tags with the confederate flag on them that had a huge increase in sales. Plus when they started to speak of taking down confederate statues, many pickup trucks were seen with very large confederate flags in the back all over this area. So very sad and disturbing to me that people in the South have so much hate and racism. I live in Fla. and I see it there too, but not as much.

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    5. It is sad! In my opinion, it's been there all along but first Obama's election scared the racists, then Trump's election gave them permission to show it openingly. The next few years are extremely important. The fight for the heart and soul of America is at stake.

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  3. Good morning Jean. I'm so glad that you didn't need to call the police. I don't like raccoons. Two large ones forced themselves into my attic and cost me a great deal of money fixing it. A company eventually caught the two at my neighbor's place.
    You know, if we had people like Mr. Rogers who were in control with the countries of the world, This world would be a better place. There wouldn't be bullies like Trump, Putin, Kim etc. But unfortunately the world is going to hell. Excuse my language.
    Enjoy the cool weather when we can. See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I hope raccoons don't become a problem. I know they can become pests, as cute as they are.

      I actually think we are getting near a point where good people will start standing up and saying, "Enough is enough! Let's stop with all the bluster and bull and start working together."

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    2. I agree with you but unfortunately there are still some people who believe he does no wrong. They are nuts. See ya Jean.

      Cruisin Paul

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  4. I loved the Mr. Rogers' show. Watched it with my kids every single day. He seemed so mellow, even back in those days, which were a bit stressed, but now in hind-sight seem comparatively mellow.

    Perhaps Miss Raccoon was looking for water? I had one on my porch railing last week and that has never happened before. I stepped out at 11:00 dark, to throw a bag of garbage in the pail and there he/she sat. I didn't realize how enormous those animals are. It took us both a moment to realize we were face-to-face and then he spun his little feet trying to get outta there.

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    1. Something rather big is moving my bird bath every night in my back yard. I'm guessing by jumping on the top and moving it off its base. One of these nights it's going to get broken. But I don't think it's the little raccoon I saw in the front.I don't think she was big enough to do it.

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  5. I would love to watch this before the movie is out. Tom Hanks is playing him in the movie version.
    As for your comment "kidnap mr trump" you could just stop there. No reason to have him enjoy a movie because he is neither smart enough to absorb the lesson or willing. Just kidnap him and allow him to live in russia with his buddy.

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    1. Russia or GITMO.

      Tom Hanks will be great in the movie version, won't he.

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  6. Levi will keep you safe but I kind of feel sorry for the raccoons being driven out of their homes.
    I almost don't want to see that documentary. It will make me desperately miss and long for Mr. Rogers. How stressless life could be if we just learned to be just a little bit like him. What a marvelous human he was.

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    1. In one of the reviews I read they talked about how everyone in the theater was sniffling when the credits rolled at the end. He was a wonderful human being an humanitarian.

      Levi's got a face that looks a little bit like a raccoon. I think that baby thought he was one of his own kind. I hate to see wooded acres get sold for building sites.

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  7. I can just see Levi protecting his territory.
    H once found a dead raccoon in our backyard at our last house. He called animal control, but they told him that they could only pick up dead animals if they were in the street. He scooped it up with a shovel and put it in a plastic bag. I think we then took it to the dump. They are the cutest animals, but they do carry rabies.

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    1. The rabies thing is the scary part when you have a dog in the house. She was so unafraid that it scared me. LOL But I am very safe if a cat or raccoon ever gets inside the house. Levi would fight it to the dead, I think.

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  8. Many, many people mistake kindness and sensitivity for weakness. Strength alone does not mean Strength Of Character. Sadly, those same people often lack the concern to ever learn of the distinctions.

    Mr. Rogers was so very Simply Kind. His lessons were basic and true. Anyone can understand them.

    Well, almost anyone. (And now we're back to my first paragraph.)

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    1. It's hard not to see the contrasts between someone like Mr. Rogers and Mr. Trump and not what kind of people admire which one. But I think some people are so afraid of looking weak or showing their feelings that it turns them into the bullies of the world.

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  9. My son has fruit trees in his back yard. For years raccoons have lived back there. They seem to love the cherry trees the most. This has gone on for years, but lately they’ve been getting braver. The stand on their back legs and look in the patio door. He has cats inside. A raccoon tore the whole rear end to pieces on our cat one time costing us hundreds of dollars in vet bills. They are beautiful animals but they’re still wild. Too bad man is taking away their habitat.

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    1. I wish they weren't so brave, peaking in windows! That's not a good situation. The last thing I do at bedtime is take Levi out that front door for a quick pee. I never used to turn on the light but I'm doing it now since the raccoon visit, hoping the light will chase her away. I got the stupid possum at the back door...only saw him once but that was enough to stop me from taking Levi out that way.

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  10. I have seen the movie (as I think you saw on my blog) and all through it I was thinking "Trump needs to see this" but he'd probably mock him like he does everyone. It's a remarkable movie and it should be required viewing for everyone.

    Ah, the old raccoon thing. I think we had a similar issue with Lizzie. She was defending her territory (the window) with growls and howls and hisses and I went to see what was up. I knew she wouldn't be doing that an intruder. Any intruder worth his salt here would have nothing to worry about, especially if they had treats for her. She'd sell her soul for a treat or glob of baby food. I went to look and she didn't hear me come behind her. I put my hand on her back to calm her and she turned around with the biggest hiss of all time. Needless to say, I let her go on with hissing at whomever was there! Glad the raccoon didn't get in the house and all is well.

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    1. Lizzie and Levi would make a good pair. Levi would lick a robber and lead him to the family jewels. He'd also sell his soul for a piece of Milkbone trail mix.

      I've been extra careful since I the raccoon episode to always keep my garage door closed. I wasn't before.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that about the Rogers' documentary!

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  11. I can definitely identify with how you would have felt being awakened in the manner you were. That’s what I noticed after my husband’s death, my increased sensitivity to sounds, etc. Even now I make certain to have some device in hand for emergency contacts whenever unexpected situations arise — such as someone at the door (have security screens now, too). Actually, I gradually had developed being the responsible person for safety in our household as my husand’s health and hearing declined.

    Your raccoon tale reminded me of a story written by a talented imaginative member of the writing group we used to have. He was visiting friends, observed raccoons coming to their patio door which prompted a short story he created. The raccoons actually were conspiring to take over the human world which he captured in such a way as to make it seem entirely possible. He had also just completed a marvelous book whose content he had shared as its composition progressed. Unfortunately, a heart problem unexpectedly developed requiring a transplant he initially refused, then changed his mind but it was too late. He was younger than any of us — a late Boomer.

    His book written as fiction was actually a family tale as he had discovered a grandmother likely was black. Southern family denied this appalling (to them) fact, so when he died they buried his book, too. He developed a marvelous male character and other generational ones in a story that was filled with realstic family evolutions, their behaviors and feelings. We were convinced his book would have been readily accepted by traditional publishers and not just self-publishing fodder depending on what he chose.


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    1. Raccoons sure don't seem to be afraid of humans or dogs and cats. My neighbor says they have a very large one that lives in a tree behind her house. I'm shocked I've never seen one around here before.

      That's sad about your 'later boomer' friend. I hope they didn't bury the only copy of his book with him. Books are meant to be read and family stories especially shouldn't get lost.

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  12. I meant to add a comment about Mr. Rogers as I recall some people used to make fun of him, his sentimentality, the slow program pace, even calling the content corny — unlike the fast-paced by comparison of Sesame Street which was developing during those years. I think now many of those unappreciative people view him in a much more positive light as he deserves to be thought of. I think the abominable behavior of our leader has caused those who are truly honest with themselves to realize Mr. Rogers more realistically demonstrates how a real man behaves. If our leader’s language is any indication of his mental functions, I think it’s highly unlikely he is capable of acquiring behaviors, without professional intervention, that most of us associate with being socially aware. Quite possibly some of his neural connections may not be such as to enable him to act differently than how he does, especially when he does not accept he has a problem, so sees no need to change.

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    1. Very well said and I totally agree. I was one of those people who probably didn't fully appreciate Mr. Rogers back in his day but then I didn't have kids so I didn't have reason to seek out good programing for kids on a regular basis. I've appreciated my much more in recent decades.

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  13. Agree also 100%. Trump is crude, has absolutely no class or dignity. He's nothing more than a mafia thug and a schoolyard bully. And his base are no different, if not in his crude obnoxious ways, but in their similar views and prejudices and ignorance.

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  14. Thanks for the tip on the Fred Rogers film. I immediately checked my public library to learn that they have it on order and that there are 22 people on the waiting list to borrow it. I guess it will be a while before I see it.

    I believe that there is something seriously broken in Mr. Trump's psyche and that unfortunately no amount of watching Mr. Rogers would endow him with empathy or compassion.

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    1. In addition to this documentary there will be another full feature film in the theaters next year about Mr. Rogers with Tom Hawks playing him.

      "Seriously broken" is a good description!

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  15. I'm so woefully far behind in reading your blog and I'm sorry! I feel like I've been in a cave but I've emerged! YAY! Anyway, I DID see Won't You Be My Neighbor and I LOVED it. But I'm a huge Fred Rogers fan. He likely saved my sanity when I was home 24/7 with a toddler and an infant (and even beyond those years into the preschool era). I'd turn it on every day and it was an oasis of calm and encouragement. When I felt like I was falling apart, a failure at everything, he said, "I like you just the way your are." What a treasure he was.

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    1. I never did get to see it, but I'm looking forward to next year when Tom Hanks will play in a full movie version of his life.

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