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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Project What Did I get Myself Into!

The fear of moving---more accurately I should say the fear of not being able to downsize everything in time---is setting in. Before they changed the move-in date to the continuum care complex (known as the CCC after this) from fall of 2020 to the spring I was calm and I thought it was doable. I would have had all summer to downsize collectibles, and next summer to get the house up to snuff, sell furniture, get the house, listed and sold. Now, the major stuff outside like staining the deck has to be done before fall, I have some trim to paint and the beds around the foundation need thinning. And I have to decide if I should re-roof now at pre-China tariffs prices or wait and see if the roof passes the inspection and chance paying 30% more at post-tariff prices. I have an appointment next week with the realtor the CCC place works with and I hope to get answers to that burning question and one I have about whether or not banks are still doing bridge loans. I may need one to make this all work with the shorten time-line. 

In the meantime, I’ve downsizing on e-Bay until I can get hooked up with a quicker method. One thing I just sold was my Pendleton twin bedspreads left over from redecorating project last winter, got $350 for them plus shipping costs. I really didn't want them to go to Goodwill and I found the perfect buyer. She had a set just like mine but lost them when her house burned down in one of the big fires Out West last year. (I was sentimentally attached---but no more, after hearing her story.) I got another $271 for an 8” Texaco sign that hung in our bathroom before I went all girlie in there. And the ladies/men Texaco signs I also had in our master bath went went for $77. Right or wrong my thinking is to sell off the rest of my husband’s gas & oil memorabilia collection before the downsizing specialist (who from here on will be known as D.S.) gets her thumbs in my pie because she won’t have a clue what she’s looking at and won’t care if guy-things have value and she tells me to trash it all. 

Speaking of the D.S., I have an appointment with her next week, too. I’m at such a loss on how to proceed and I need a second opinion/battle plan. I’m not worried about normal household stuff. I can sort out the ‘donate’ or ‘trash’ stuff from the estate sale stuff. Lord knows I’ve been to enough of those kinds of sales to do that. But it’s the sheer volume of highly specialized collectibles and art I’m worried about selling. D.S. people charge a referral fee anything they help you sell plus the estate selling or auction services they hire does too, but 50% of whatever is better than paying a junk man to pick it up. The son-I-wish-I-had is in that line of business---picking up stuff left over from estate sales---and he makes a good living doing it.

I haven’t ask my pseudo son yet but I’m hoping to barter with him to sell and ship four very heavy/pricey items that will require a freight company to pick up if sold on e-Bay in exchange for an antique air meter he’s been lusting after since my husband died. He should jump at that barter because the air meters usually e-Bay for 1,000 to $1,800. For one, he deals with freight company pick-ups and e-Bay all the time and we’ve been bartering back and forth for decades. I should have let the air meter go the first year after Don died when the other big stuff got sold. But emotions got in the way. Having the air meter restored was the last Christmas gift I gave him---just a month before he died.  

I had lunch with my Gathering Girl pals this week and my mouth was running a mile a minute. I couldn’t help it! They offered to help me if I have a garage sale, which was a sweet surprise. But I’ve lost faith in garage sales being worth the time, opting instead to donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army but Trump took away the tax write-offs on donations so that’s a bummer. By the way, when you donate collectibles, etc., they never make it to the floor. They’ve gotten smart over the years and now have online sells divisions.

Can’t wait until next week’s appointments with the realtor and the D.S. In the meantime I have two fun appointments this week: one a meeting with some of my future neighbors for a “guided conversation” at the CCC and one with my niece who is coming up to tour the CCC. She will go home with the table and chairs my brother and I used when we kids. Anyone I see or visit before I move gets a door prize when we part. ©

Some of the "smalls" I need to sell. Bet you can't find my old decoder ring from the '50s in there.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

This post is called putting the horse before the cart because that’s exactly what I did this week. I ordered the folding wagon to the right to use at the place I want to move to that isn’t built yet to haul the dog and groceries to and from the underground parking garage. It was my way of celebrating that my application got accepted into the CCC (continuing care complex) and by the time you read this I will have paid my first 10% to hold the unit. They’re breaking ground in the fall and have pushed the move-in date up from September to March 2020. I’m having a mini panic attack over that change. I’ve got a LOT to downsize!

After much hand wringing and changing my mind back and forth between the three available first floor, one bedroom units, I chose the unit that's the closest to the entrance to the ‘hub’---two restaurants, an exercise room, art studio, mail room, meeting room and the concierge---a 200 foot walk from my front door on a heated sidewalk for winter safety. The other two units were ideal for getting to the wooded trail (a male dog's idea of heaven) to walk the dog but were a block away from the underground parking. The unit I ‘bought’ is twenty steps away from an elevator going down to the parking garage. The deciding factor for picking that unit was the fact that I’ll probably out live the dog and as I age being closer to parking and the hub will be a distinct advantage. The dog will just have to suck it up and adjust to more things to bark at (being near the hub) or he’ll find himself in an anti-barking collar that sprays citronella in his face when he does. But I told Levi about the lake and all the nice trees he’ll be able to meet-and-greet so I think we have a bargain.  

Before I handed over the $20,575 check I asked if the financial people really, REALLY went over the numbers super-thoroughly enough to know that I won’t run out of money and will be eating dog food down the road.  She said they’ve got all kinds of graphs and charts and cross-checked everything that predicts all the aspects of my future. She said if/when I go into their nursing home $50,000 of my $205,000 entrance fee with go back into my checking account to help pay anything that isn’t covered by Medicare and Blue-Cross, and if that runs out they’d cover 100% of everything for the rest of my life, any balance left after I die goes to my heirs. At my age and health their graphs and charts estimate I’ll live in this independent unit for 8 years, in assisted living for two months and one month in skilled nursing. I’ve always worried that CCC places like this have a ‘hit-man’ on speed dial who smothers you in your sleep if you start costing them too much, but I guess I can postpone that end-of-life fear for 7-8 years. Besides, I think I’m going to fool their graphs and charts because this week, with all the excitement and increasing Levi’s walks, I’ve started losing weight again. Walking Levi more frequently than he gets now, after I move in, will be good for my health.

Plotting my next chapter isn’t the only thing I’ve been doing. I’ve managed to go to a movie at the senior hall about the Holocaust---walked out 15 minutes later when I discovered it was all in subtitles---and I went to book club. I had planned on dropping out that day, but I enjoyed the discussion so much I didn't. I still want to because I don't need to be reading fiction when I’ve got over 60 years of diaries to finally let go of plus slides, photos and other personal things that need downsizing. 

Destroying personal papers is a pain but thanks to another blogger (The Awkward Widow) I learned about the existence of wide rolling inkers to use on junk mail to block out addresses in one pass. It works so much faster than shredding papers. Also, shredded papers can’t be recycled so that roller is a win-win. I had an inch high stack of round-robin letters from the ‘90s and all I did before throwing them out was to run the roller right down the middle of each page. Slick and quick. And I’m proud to announce that I only kept two out of all those letters. One was about a surprise party that my husband planned for my 50th birthday. And the other was about my brother and I going to court to have my dad declared mentally incompetent. In case you’re confused about how I got all those letters that I wrote to other people, that’s how round-robins work. You get an envelope with six letters and you take your old letter out of the batch, add your new one and then send them all to the next person on the round-robin mailing list. 

I also spent time using a hammer on 40+ floppy disks. Why did I keep them long after I had a computer that could read them? And why did I find it necessary to smash them before taking them to media recycling? Over the coming months I’ll probably bore everyone with posts about downsizing. But here’s the cliffhanger...maybe I’ll turn into my nemesis Marie Kondo. ©

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
Paulo Coelho