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 2, 2019

After the Storm and Selfies


The Guy Land Cafeteria was full to the rafters and it didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out why. Anyone with any sense stayed inside and out of the sub-zero temperatures all week as heavy, polar vortex inspired snow and cold descended over Michigan, but you can only stay home for so long and when a window in the weather opened up yesterday, we escaped our ‘prisons.’ I, for one, needed stuff. I needed to stop at the post office, UPS, the grocery store and Chow Hound where I had a nice conversation with a ‘sample guy’ giving away bags of freeze-dried meal boosters for dogs, the very product I’d gone to the store to buy. I discovered the product a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for something to fool Levi into thinking I’ve turned into a world class chef.

The sample guy was an official company representative who stood behind a card table handing out samples and $5.00 coupons. He was in his 40’s, a nicely groomed, super-fit and take charge kind of guy which begs the question of why a man like him would have a job handing out samples. There’s probably a hard luck story in there. If I had been a skilled conversationalist like my husband was, I would have found out his backstory but I’m not, so the guy remains a mystery to mull over in my idle mind. And my idle mind turned him into a FBI agent who's moonlighting because he fears another government shutdown.

But the backstory of a woman I sat near at the Guy Land Cafeteria was not hard to guess. She was old enough to have a five-six year old daughter with her in the booth, sitting on the same side where plenty of selfies were taken by the child. When the mother left to pick up their food after her number was called I noticed she was wearing two watches---a Fitbit and a man’s watch that wasn’t made in this century and didn’t fit her. I know watches. My husband had dozens of them and I gave several of his watches away after Don died. I even wore one of them myself for four-five months. Its band was too large and the face too big for a woman, but wearing something that Don had loved and worn in his last months on earth made me feel closer to him. The mother at lunch---I’d bet money on it---had lost her dad in recent weeks and she was wearing his watch. I’d also bet money that if I had made an admiring comment about the watch, she would have shared her loss and I would have said a few comforting words. Was it a missed opportunity that would have added to the pool of human warmth and kindness or would I have been invading her privacy? I vote for the former but as I age I second guess myself more and more.

Back to the topic of selfies. From where I sat at lunch I could see everyone at all the tables. It’s a big place but even so I was shocked at how many children scattered around were taking selfies. What is the fascination with taking photos of yourself? What is it going to be like for these kids growing up if they are so self-absorbed with their own images as children? I see a lot of selfies on my Facebook page, too, and I just don’t get it. A friend my own age even peppers her Facebook with her newest selfies. “Can you tell I lost a pound yesterday?” No, but I’d tell her I found it if I thought she wanted it back.

If I’m going to be honest here, I’d have to admit that back in 1967 when I was pen-palling with Vietnam soldiers, I took some selfies. Back then a selfie involved having a tripod for your camera and a timer to release the shutter. The timer gave you a few seconds to get back in front of the camera. My selfies served a purpose---strangers I met by mail had all suggested a photo exchange. I try to use that experience to identify with the selfie addicted and I wonder if phone cameras have been around back in 1967 would I have been caught up in Cult of Selfies?
  
Back in that era when I was a true camera buff, I mostly took candid shots of people who didn’t know I was shooting photos of them. Today if I tried that I’d probably get put on a pervert predators list. I took candid photos I thought I might like to paint in oil as well as for assignments in photography classes. “Ya, sure,” I can hear a cop in the park say in today’s world, “that’s what all the perverts say.” At a family gathering last year I tried taking photos of the toddlers in our family, but something strange happened. The minute I (or anyone else) pulled out the cell phone, the little kids stopped what they were doing, posed and froze a smile on their faces. I fear there will never be another candid shot of anyone ever again in Cell Phone Generation. I miss those kind of photos, the ones where body language or pensive looks off into the distance told a story. I miss a lot of things but mostly I miss having a steady enough hand to click/press a shutter without moving the cell phone. I cannot take a good picture with a phone and carrying a regular, heavy camera around makes me feel old. ©

33 comments:

  1. First, I'm glad you and everyone else is able to get out and about now. As a friend from Minnesota said, "We think we've had enough." I'm nervous about a different weather phenomenon: fog. We've got a full week ahead of us with fog and light rain in the forecast, and that means no work. I have a boat in a shed right now, and if it just rains, that's great. But that sneaky old fog doesn't care about roofs -- it'll do a lateral and soak everything in sight.

    I was so intrigued by your last comment, about a regular camera making you feel old. My reaction's just the opposite. When I'm out and about with my camera and those heavy old lenses, I feel like I'm a kid again, exploring the world. I completely forget that I'm a 72-year-old woman, until someone sees me on the ground in a ditch and stops to be sure I haven't had a heart attack, or been mugged, or whatever. Usually it's just nice people, but I am keeping a casual count of law enforcement. So far I've had two game wardens, three sheriff's deputies, and one truckload of US Fish & Wildlife guys stop. The only thing is, the USF&W guys just wave, now, since they know my white hair and my car.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a drastic warm up coming for Sunday and Monday and fog is a major fear with that as well because the warm up is coming with a light rain on the snow...perfect setup for fog. That can keep us all inside. I never realized that it could effect your work. I'm guess you get a lot of fog being so close to the water.

      That's kind of comforting that people stop to make sure you're okay and age has nothing to do with that. People need to look out for one another. Another blogger friend of mine wrote about falling on the ice and two younger guys nearby saw her go down and never even asked if she was okay, let alone help her back up again.

      I sold most of my camera equipment but I did keep one old digital and tripod and I can still take good close up photos with that....mostly of things I'm selling on eBay. I can still click that shutter without moving the camera...but now that I think about it a timer would even work to overcome a shaky hands if that becomes a problem with the 35mmm. I should probably try to get over my 'feeling old' with using it in public. I really used to love photography.

      Delete
  2. I don't have a cell phone, but I do have a small digital camera that takes good photos...if I can keep my hand tremor steady. The little kids don't notice the camera so I get some good candid shots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet they don't recognize a REAL camera. LOL I should try that at the next family function.

      Delete
  3. After my dad died, my mom took all of his watches and gave some of them to us the boys, grandkids and just gave the rest of them to other people. The two that she gave to me both of them didn't work and I kept them for a while. The real good one she kept for herself and after she died, no one knows where the special watch went.
    Jean, it's going to be into the 50's this weekend. Wow, but back down into the 30's. Oh well.
    Mary Lou & I just received our first cell phone, a flip phone. We don't need all the different things that other need. Just to be able to call. It was difficult for us to suddenly go from 85 to 90 and then drop into -35 wind chill. My body is still screwed up. I started my blog about our cruise. I'm going to take some time arranging the many different thing about the cruise. I hope that you and my other friends will enjoy the cruise. See ya my friend.


    Cruisin Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When someone dies things always seem to disappear...very sad.

      I can't imagine going on a cruise and coming back to -35 degrees wind chill. It's warmer and the roads are pretty good, but it's still very slippery and the intersections soupy. Tomorrow will be even warmer which means I'll be working outside, trying to rake some snow off my roof, open up the storm drain in front of my house and shovel my dog a bigger area. But I'm grateful for the weather break! I don't think I could have taken another day!

      Now that Google+ is phasing out, can't get on you blog anymore through there or with a direct link. Sorry.

      Delete
  4. So glad you got out and about. I don’t feel comfortable carrying a camera either. But I do miss having photo albums! Seems like we rarely get around to printing any!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I miss them too. I keep saying I want to get one of those photo frames you put a memory stick in to do a slide show of your digit photos but I haven't done it yet.

      Delete
  5. So glad your area got a reprieve and you could get out and about. Cabin fever is no fun. That was interesting how kids today know they are being filmed and actually pose. Guess we can take candid out of the dictionary at least for the younger set.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. I really needed a break as did a lot of other people. The grocery store was packed with grey haired people everywhere! Tomorrow will be a hard day of roof raking and shoveling what falls.

      I don't know if it's common to pose with all kids or just those in my family but all 12 of them sure have been programmed to do it.

      Delete
  6. I love my regular camera and don't have a phone that takes photos. But I don't think I'd use it for such if I did, just now and then in a pinch. Some are very good but I like a camera. It's also interesting when someone says, "I never see those anymore," or when you hand it to a server to take a photo of your table and have to tell them how to use it. (Hit the big black button.) Not rocket science, folks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL When I try to take a photo with my cell phone I often end up turning the phone off because I'm so use to pushing a real button and not pushing a spot on a screen. I need to get over feeling like a dinosaur with taking photos in public with my 35mm.

      Delete
  7. I have been catching up on your posts from the last few weeks because we just returned from a family reunion in Florida. Florida is not my favorite place to visit but it was certainly a good period to be gone. We arrived back in Ottawa and had to spend too much time digging our car out in the airport parking lot. I think next time we might splurge on the parking garage!
    I use a small digital camera. I took it with me yesterday when I was snowshoeing in the woods behind our house but the camera was too cold and would not oblige: the mechanism wouldn’t work properly. Here, too, it is supposed to warm up tomorrow. The snow is actually very pretty. It’s the cold that is difficult. If it was my decision, I would like it to stay above freezing always!
    Good luck with raking the roof. That sounds far too difficult.
    Regards,
    Leze

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great!! I'm allowed in to comment today. Just to say that I follow your posts, and identify much with you. I don't understand the fascination of taking selfies and then putting them on social media, waiting for gushing (and false!) comments about how beautiful they look!!! The few times someone looks *really* good, everyone is silent.

    While you freeze, Down Under it HOT!!!

    Libby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to hear from you again, Libby! Google+ is making some changes that effect comments but I really don't understand their mumble jumble tech talk. But maybe you being allowed to comment is a good sign of things to come.

      Send some of that hot air up our way and I'll send you a little cold air.

      Delete
    2. I don't get that Google+ either. I didn't even know I had it! I'll go Google it ....

      Delete
    3. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/01/closure-google-plus-everything-you-need-to-know

      Delete
    4. I did some reading up on it and I don't think it will effect comments that are made on our blogs unless, just those on our Google+ profile page. I never liked that page anyway so I spent some time figuring out how to get old Blogger profile working again. I never used the Google+ widgets to take followers so I'm hoping when the Google+ completely goes away followers will bookmark me in other ways.

      Delete
  9. We've had snow in my fairly temperate corner of England - just one inch or so and only for a couple of days. Even so, it seems the whole area ground to a halt! We're just not geared up for snow here! As for the woman in the cafeteria, I think my husband would have talked to her but I am more reticent and probably wouldn't. As for selfies, the less said the better! I can't see the need or attraction in constantly taking photographs of myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep forgetting you are in England. Snow is probably more dangerous when it comes to areas that rarely get it because people don't know now to drive in it.

      If I had been standing next to the lady at the cafeteria or could have made eye contact I would have talked to her but in general my husband was much better at that sort of thing. There's a knack for reading people and knowing who is open to a conversation, I think. Sounds like your husband had it too. Mine was so well read he could talk to anyone about anything. I do miss that interaction with strangers.

      I don't see the novelty of selfies wearing off anything soon.

      Delete
  10. Do you follow Humans of NY? I love those stories of strangers and I think you would too. (instagram, FB and video on FB) The documinute will explain (FB video)
    Men styles watches are what is "in" to wear as a woman today. I have one and I love it. The face is so big, don't need my glass to see the time. :-) But you know watches so her's had a story. I wish I could be like you, I'd have said something of how I admired her watch. Adding that my husband and I were collectors. Then the story could have unfolded. I'm nosey aren't I? I talk to too many.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No you're not nosey. Society would be better off if we got friendlier in public. It's easy to tell when someone isn't receptive to an overture and you can back off.

      I'll take down Humans of NY. Thanks, I'm always looking for something new to follow.

      I did not know that about men's watches being "in" now for women. Boy, could I be in style but I'm addicted to my Fitbit and I can't image wearing two.

      Delete
  11. We here in NEO hit the 40s and 50s and I can see GRASS in my yard! Talk about grateful. Rick has been cooped up recuperating from spinal surgery since 18 January, so yesterday's stroll on ice-free sidewalks was like a Governor's Reprieve.

    As you know, I'm not on FB or Instagram, so I am largely spared the social media narcissism, but what really alarms me is the number of parents (and grandparents) who plaster pictures of children all over the Internet. Especially icky are the ones who use the children as their own avatar/profile pic. I don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't have grass or ice free sidewalks yet but the 40s sure feels really great. I live close to the river and have to worry about fog with melting snow and warmer temps, though. Thankfully it cleared by the time I wanted to leave.

      It alarms me, too, how parents and grandparents put photos all over Facebook. If you don't have your cameras settings right there is a way to even track down the exact location they were taken. They probably feel safe because they only share with handpicked family and friends but those shares could get shared to people they don't know. When Levi was younger and cuter than he is now I even worried about him being kidnapped. I sure wouldn't put a child's photo online!

      Delete
  12. The temperature got up to 50 here today with sunshine, with another 50+ day expected tomorrow. It's the kind of weather that can trick you into thinking spring is here. Of course it isn't; no matter what the groundhog does or doesn't see, winter will last at least another 6 weeks here in Maine.
    Count me as another person who doesn't have a phone that takes pictures. My full-size digital SLR doesn't make me feel old; it makes me feel like a serious photographer. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We got two really nice days here that were in the high 40s but tomorrow we're expecting an ice storm for Tuesday and Wednesday. Crazy weather!

      I need to get over feeling old with my 35 mm! What am I, a twelve year old who needs to keep up with the other girls at school?

      Delete
  13. Been tracking weather there for my family. Had to chuckle on the coldest day to the descriptive response I received to my text inquiring about weather — “We’re warm.....it’s brisk outside.” The understatement of the year as I recalled way below zero days and nights, walking through wind-driven icy snow biting flecks with drifts higher than my head in another Great Lakes State. Stay warm, keep the water pipes from freezing, and make sure the car’s antifreeze strong enough. Recall BIL utility exec having to go out one long holiday weekend as power outage and all company hands had to be called forth due to a particularly bitter storm — no fun. Glad you’re coping so well and have good neighbors, family, helping and checking on you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ya, that "it's brisk outside" was an attempt at humor. For some reason this storm brought that out in people. Glad your family was okay. I got my haircut today and her shop stayed open the whole time...crazy but she said some people did show up. It took her over an hour to make the drive back and forth to work each trip that usually takes her only 15 minutes each. People who had to be out and about had it worse than retirees.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I hope it is warmer in your area. Here in Nashville it is 70 F today (21 C.) with a bright sun. I need to go and walk because it is supposed to rain tomorrow. I realized that my husband would remember our outings if I took pictures and showed them to him later on my blog, even though he had suffered from Alzheimer’s for years. So I always took my camera along. Now that he passed away 3 months ago I just keep my little digital in my purse, but I like to take good pictures with my Nikon if I go to an exhibition or walk in a pretty park. Now, because of him, I am keeping the habit to use a lot of photos in my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're having a nice day in mid 20s today but tomorrow and Thursday we're supposed to have freezing rain/ice. Can't wait until spring.

      I'm sorry to hear about your husband's Alzheimer's and his passing. My brother went through that with his wife before she passed. It's probably the hardest caregiver role to be in.

      I've got to start carrying my camera again. I'm a bloggers. Bloggers should do that! I checked out your blog. Wow, talk about a deep dive into topics. You could teaches classes on that. You could also open up a used bookstore with all your husband's books.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  16. What serendipity that the "sample guy" was giving away the same product you were there to buy.

    My son made fun of me one time for making up a backstory for a woman who was leaning against the bank crying. I figured she'd just found out that her estranged husband had withdrawn all of her money. I can't help myself. Everybody's got a story.

    You are right about the selfies. People have gone 'round the bend. We never take them, but even H and I took one a few weeks ago because we were all dressed up. I sent it to my son.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Making up back stories is so much fun. I wonder how many of us do it compared to those who don't. I kind of thing it's a writers past time.

      The only selfies I have taken were: 1) when I had a case of the hives really bad and I was afraid they'd disappear before I got to the doctor's office. They did. They never take you serious if they can't see how widespread they are. And 2)I took a selfie of the top of my head to show a new haircut in a long ago blog.

      Delete