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, August 31, 2019

Cool Cottages and Fancy-Ass Fashion Shows



"cottage"
Decisions! Decisions! I sat outside the senior hall trying to decide if I wanted to go back home and get my hearing aids or not. I had the time before the lecture began if I wanted to give up my prime parking space, one that allows for a quick escape after lectures are over and a 115 cars are funneling out of a single exit. Defensive parking, I call it. The senior hall is a great place to get your car dinged, bumped, backed into and scratched. While I was sitting there I had a brilliant idea. Why on earth don’t I just keep my hearing aids in the car? I never wear when I’m alone in the house and I always remember them when I’m in a parking lot waiting for an event to start or an appointment time…I’m a habitual early bird.

I opted not to go home because the deck crew was there finishing up and I didn’t want the dog to think he was getting an early release from his bedroom prison. He stays there all night long by choice but add a baby gate to the doorway and he gets his nose out of joint. He’s used to having the run of the house when I go away but with people working on my wrap-around deck, the dog barking to protect his domain would drive them crazy and their noise would drive him crazy. The deck, by the way, turned out great although it took them forever. Partly because people over 60 don’t work fast and partly because they only worked two to three hours at a time and I was getting truly sick of seeing them around. They not only stained the wood but also replaced the lattice work and had to dig down almost a foot through a tangle of roots to get at the bottom runner. The depth of that runner keeps small animals from burling under but it doesn’t stop them from chewing their way in and out from underneath my deck. Nearly twenty years of chewing really did an evil number on the lattice. 

The lecture was titled, “The Historic Cottages of Mackinac Island.” People outside of the Great Lakes area may not know much about Mackinac Island---a popular summertime tourist place that draws a million visitors between May and November---but those who do know, know that the word ‘cottage’ is a misnomer. These places are more like mansions that line the eight miles of bluffs overlooking the waters of Lake Huron in between lower and upper Michigan. Gables, wrap-around porches, widow’s walks, bay windows, turrets and towers. The lecturer was speaking my favorite language. The few places that are currently up for sale are listed between three and five point five million. Yes, for a place you can only use in the summers. Only one house on the whole island is occupied year-around and if that isn’t quaint enough for you there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Getting around is by foot, bicycle, horseback or horse drawn vehicles but on Sundays people often take their yachts to church. Which begs the question, what happens to the horses in the winter? The internet had the answer. The majority of the 400 draft horses are taken to the Upper Peninsula by boat for the winter, a process that takes two weeks to move them all. Those left behind are used for sleigh rides for Christmas parties for those who venture over to the island across the frozen water on snowmobiles.

The lecture wasn’t the only fun thing I did this past week. I also went to an event called Sip and Shop sponsored by the CCC where I will be moving. It was a fashion show in an upscale store that was all marble, glass and chrome. I don’t know if champagne and yummy appetizers are served at all fashion shows because fashion and shopping are not my thing but I wanted to go because the other invited guests are my future neighbors, and I’m jumping into these get-to-know-each-other games full throttle. My wardrobe is so outdated it’s practically back in the last century so I decided to buy a new top to wear. I found one I liked but after getting it home I was bummed out that what I thought was a small black and white pattern was really navy blue and white. The only thing I have in my closet that is navy blue is a pair of underpants and underwear don’t have to coordinate with blouses in my world unless maybe I’m going to a doctor’s office. I looked at the calendar, breathed a sigh of relief that I could still wear white. So I paired the stupid blouse made for younger people with better eye sight with white pants and black sandals and called it good enough. 

I had a great time, laughed a lot and was the source of a lot of laughter because I couldn’t keep my sense of humor under wraps. If you care about the fashion trends coming here’s what you need to know to be in with the in crowd: Fake fur paired with tweets and animal prints are going to be everywhere. Dark floral prints are also going to be hot as well as blazers. And ankle length dresses and more fitted waist lines are coming to get us again. Someone did ask about the white-after-Labor-Day rule and, yes you can wear it. But you have to pair the white with heavier weight stuff like sweaters, scarfs or boots and put your scandals and airy fabrics away.

I really like the management team for the CCC. I'm trying my best to just be me around these people and my future neighbors, not the filtered Jean I usually show the world. So far, so good. One of the ladies from higher up in management than the two I usually deal with came over afterward and introduced herself and said, "I won't forget you." Why, you ask? Because I was in a wise-cracking mood and called out stuff like, "Now she looks like she just had sex" when they were demonstrating how a hair product "puffs up" limp hair. The model was quick-witted and replied, "You've been talking to my husband haven't you!" which had everyone laughing. Like I said I had a good time and I needed that. ©

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Freaking Out


I’m in the Bermuda Triangle of Emotional Insecurity. What brought that on? Angle A of triangle is our nonsensical president trying to start pissing contests with anyone and everyone who hurts his wee-little feelings, his threatening high tariffs and generally sounding like a demented jackass and stooge for the NRA and his White Nationalist advisor Stephen Miller. I’ve had it up the proverbial eyeballs. I admit it, he pushes my buttons and he’s been pushing them big time with his announcement not to allow people in detention at the border to get flu shots, his bragging about gutting the EPA of 80 regulations that protect our air and water, his gutting of the Endangered Species Act, his wanting to buy countries that aren’t up for sale, his wanting to use atomic bombs to stop hurricanes, his trying to order U.S. companies to do what his own Trump Enterprises isn’t doing. Where is his U.S. factory making sheets, towels and pillows for his hotels or making clothing for his and Ivanka’s clothing lines? 

I was watching the morning news a few days ago when the head mucky-muck from a national retailers association was on and he said people better get their Christmas shopping done between now and next Sunday when Trump’s 30% tariffs are supposed to take effect. That was enough to bring my mother's voice in my head. That fear over shortages she instilled in me during my growing up years sent me straight to my bra drawer looking for a box label for the size and bra style I’ve been meaning to buy. And if that wasn't enough to put me over the edge when I tried to buy my favorite panties at a huge box store I was told they no longer carry the Just My Size brand. "You're kidding!" I said. I was shocked and it's getting too cold to go commando.

Angle B on my Triangle of Emotional Insecurity came from the-son-I-wish-I-had who told me a few days ago that he needs to go in for heart surgery after Labor Day. That hit me hard on two levels, first he’s truly my best friend and I don’t want anything negative to happen to him and his family. He has the same A-Fib condition my husband had that lead to his stroke. But pretend son’s doctor is being more aggressive with his A-Fib and the operation is supposed to correct what is keeping the rhythm from staying in sync. Scary stuff that could end up being successful or causing a stroke on the operating table. Second, on a more selfish level, I don’t know how I’ll get through the next year of my downsizing goals without his help. I don’t have a Plan B for that scenario. I won’t make a Plan B in the near future because I don’t want to jinx anything. And my move got more real this week because the financial company loaning the money for building the complex sent out a questionnaire basically verifying the honesty of the non-profit applying for the loan based on having pre-sold x-number of units. Both parties involved say, “this verification process is a normal requirement for financing construction for projects of this type.”

Angle C of my triangle is coming from within. This past week I've felt like I’m frozen in slow motion, doing very little when I should be taking advantage of the good weather while I can. It took me two days, for example, to unload my floral cabinet in the garage when I should have been able to do it in a half a day tops. The cabinet consists of five, thirty inch shelves. Two of the shelves were filled with seasonal decorations minus Christmas which is still downstairs with plans to downsize those boxes around the holiday. The decorations in the cabinet were easy to pack up for Goodwill but the sixty-something flower vases that took up the other shelves was something else! You’d think with twenty years of experience in the floral industry deciding what to keep and what to pack up would be easy-peasy, but it was agonizing!

I went into this project thinking I’d keep just six vases but after two days of dragging my feet and cleaning the easily discarded vases to make them sparkle---one batch for Goodwill and another for the auction house---I ended with one full shelf of vases left and a promise to myself that I’ll pay close attention to what I actually use---I buy fresh flowers often---and downsize them again this time next year. Maybe then my mom won’t be sitting on one shoulder and Trump on the other making me feel like I’ll never be able to replace a favorite shaped vase if I make a mistake. Then again, what does it matter? What does any of it matter because the way our president is acting the world as we know it is literally being destroyed. How can I worry about silly things like arranging flowers when Trump is busy humping his ego at our expense? What is the point of caring about anything when the legacy we are leaving for the next generation is so dark and depressing? I told you I was in a bad, Bermuda Triangle of Emotional Insecurity. 

I should have known I was due for a major freak out. This whole summer I’ve backed off from watching TV. I’ve purposely gone weeks without seeing more than a half to an hour of national news a day when I’m used to seeing far more. I’ve done this before so I wasn’t concerned, knowing I’d tune back in the world around me at some point, renewed and strengthen by the break. I don’t want to become a person who tunes out permanently, who doesn't join the fight for what is right, but when I realized that my media blackout went hand-on-hand with me stopping all donations to causes I care about, it shook me! I’ve let the envelopes stack up and the higher they got the madder I got at the costs of swimming against the current that Trump is causing. Everything he does is turned into a request for money from the Southern Law Poverty Center to the Save the Honey Bees and all the do-good organizations and 2020 candidates in between. And granted they need it, but we need another president more!

This summer I've listened without comment to two good friends try to explain their loyalty to Trump. Honest to God, I don't get it! Both consider themselves to be good Christians. Both are willing to overlook Trump's "flaws"---his lying, his rudeness, his bullying, his mean-spirited personality and actions, his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to governing. Both plan on voting for him again. Why do they accept in a president what they don't accept in their own grandchildren? If Christianity allows you to pick and chose what values you apply and when then I'm glad I'm agnostic. ©