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 10, 2019

My Second OFFICIAL Downsizing Report

If you’ve ever cleaned out a house of an elderly person and wondered why on earth they accumulated so many of a certain item when a couple of them would have been enough, you’ll know how shocked I was to discover that I had over 25 bird feeders tucked away in my Three stall garage. They were sent to the local auction house to sell in three lots. There were ones so big that once they were filled with seed, I couldn’t lift them, ones a good wind would dump all the seeds on the ground and ones the chipmunks could crawl right inside and make themselves at home. The feeder experiments/war was ongoing for a lot of years and it gave us great pleasure to think we could outsmart nature if only we had a different style bird feeder. Color me embarrassed to have kept them all.

I’m still making my self-imposed quota of ten e-Bay auctions a week which might not sound like much but do the math. Ten a week times 52 weeks amounts to 520 collectibles over the next year, 490 in my case because I don’t do e-Bay between the holidays. That should put me in super great shape in the collectibles department. Done. Gone. Off to their new homes with my blessings. Ten is also all I can handle and do it right. The research is time consuming, photographing and writing up descriptions is time consuming. Packing is time consuming. Life is time consuming. But in most cases I'm glad to pass the collector’s torch on to guys like the high bidder on my pair of 1899 Cobb Bean handcuffs. He was thrilled to find something he'd been looking for since he was a kid and saw Houdini put on a pair. He e-mailed me that he was able to pick the lock and get them open. How cool is that!

Speaking of passing the torch, I gave my oldest niece the original wallet and papers that my grandfather immigrated with and carried on him every day of his life in America. She was properly in awe holding them in her hands. She’d seen copies of them in the family history book I wrote, but it’s different seeing an actual Italian Army discharge paper dated 1896, a U.S. Citizenship paper from 1898 and a Coal Miner’s License from 1916 and knowing that the five generations between my grandfather and my great-great nieces and nephews are all here because he had the guts to travel the ocean with one wicker suitcase and a dream of a better life. I gave that suitcase to my niece last summer and the papers will go inside where she has it displayed on top of a china cabinet. Once a teacher, always a teacher; she will make sure the little ones in the family hear the story of one of their ancestors when they visit the cottage in the years to come. 

I even gave away my geode rock that I've been carrying around since I was fifteen. My niece is giving it a place of honor in with her collection of travel rocks. The poor thing hasn't 'lived' outside since I brought it home from Indiana. It's going to miss my sun porch come winter. At least I have visiting rights and my niece has my blessings if she wants to crack it open to expose the crystals within.

This morning I dropped off a trunk load of stuff at hazardous waste recycling---paints and gardening chemicals that the son-I-wish-I-had helped me bring up from the basement yesterday. Last time he was here I dropped off three huge boxes of my husband's slides at media recycling. (Have I mentioned how much I hate going to media recycling? It's in the same smelly, busy building where people dump trash off their trailers and pickup trucks, and a frontend loader picks it up and puts it in to their large hauler trucks. It's a good place to pick up nails in your tires, too.) Several years before Don died we went through the slides and picked out the 100 best of the best---he was a prolific, amateur photographer. I had planned to convert those slides into a format to use in a photo frame slide show and recycle the others. But my husband pitched a fit about doing the latter so I never got around to doing the former. I've still got the 100 slides set aside and will drop them off to a place that can put them on a memory stick for me. Just another one of those side trips you take when you're on the Downsizing Turnpike. 

The-son-I-wish-I-had also brought up all my old artwork and art supplies for me to sort in the garage. Sorting that batch will be a long walk down Memory Lane that will fill up my trash bin a few times. There's a bunch of drawing of naked guys in that batch, just sayn'. The basement is nearly finished---just some teddy bear making supplies left that I'm not ready to part with yet and a couple of boxes of political memorabilia that I won't sell until closer to the election and, of course, we'll have to vacuum down there but not until I'm closer to listing the house. 

And for my last story from the Downsizing Front, I unpacked a box that hadn’t been unpacked since I move here nearly two decades ago and I found a framed one dollar bill, the first one I made from my bridal bouquets business. My husband’s doing. He was so supportive. He insisted that I sell him a boutonniere, then after he paid me the dollar he took it back and put it in that frame. How could you not love a guy like that? Now the dilemma. Do I sell it on e-Bay where I can get three or four bucks for that 1957 silver certificate one dollar bill or what? Maybe someday…. For now the frame got donated and the bill got tucked away where the next time I see it, it will make me feel loved all over again.  

I probably should consider renaming my blog The Downsizing Saga since they'll be more posts like this as the downsizing decisions move into the house and get more complicated, and I can hardly wait to see what makes the cut at the end of all this.  ©


  1. I've never heard of a media recycling center. What is that? We have lots of stuff around here, too. Every year or so I get rid of some of it, but not with the plan + enthusiasm you've shown here. My motivation comes and goes. Wish more of it would come, so that more of the stuff would go.

    1. Here's the list of things that are supposed to be taken to media recycling:

      Answering Machines
      Rechargeable Batteries
      Blender Cables
      Cellular Telephones
      Circuit Boards
      Coffee Pots
      Computers – Desktops, Laptops
      Computers – Main Frames, Tablets
      Docking Stations
      DVD Players and VCRs
      External Disk Drives
      Fax Machines
      Gaming Systems
      GPS Units
      Hard Drives Internal
      Ink and Toner Cartridges
      Keyboards and Mice
      Medical Equipment – Non-Hazardous
      Miscellaneous Small Appliances Mixer (hand and stand mixers)
      Monitors – Flat Screens, CRTs
      MP3 Players
      Networking Equipment
      PDAs – Blackberrys, Palm Pilots, iPhones
      Power Cords
      Power Tools – Electric Only
      Server Racks
      Slow-cookers Speakers
      Stereos and CD Players
      Tape Back-ups
      Telephone Systems
      Toner Cartridges
      UPS Battery Back-ups
      Various Media – Floppy Disks, CDs / DVDs
      Various Media – Memory Sticks
      Various Media – VHS Tapes, Movie Reels
      Various Media – Cassette Tapes
      Advanced Technology Recycling (ATR)

      As I understand it, some of that stuff has things in it that shouldn't be buried in landfills and some of it has medals in it that are taken out. And some of it has the memories wiped clean and are repaired to send to third world countries.

      We have a huge recycling place here that I wrote about in the past and I'll bring it up to the golden oldies at the top of the right hand corner. After taking a tour there I've been super committed to recycling.

  2. Wow, what interesting experiences, hobbies and work you and Don shared. You are doing an amazing job of making significant headway. How are you feeling about the clearing out?

    1. For the most part, I feel good about it, especially when an e-Bayer will share a story about why they bid on something like the handcuffs and the wool bedspreads that replaced ones exactly like them that were lost in one of the big fires out west. But it's hard work and I know if I waited a few years to downsize I'd probably not be physically able to do it. So the timing is right to downsize, even if something falls through on my planned future home at the CCC. Come winter I will slow down to harder sorts and downsizing in the house.

      Looking back we did have an interesting life together.

  3. I really admire your organization. Having the goal of selling the house and moving is a great energizer!
    Good luck with it all.

    1. Organizational skills has always been my longest suit. I will be downsizing for the next year because I have the entire main floor to do after the basement and garage are finished.

  4. I agree, once I cleaned out my parents' home, I vowed never to make someone go through all my stuff. My mother (she died suddenly) would have been mortified by some of the stuff I cleaned out.

  5. We went to an estate sale once where the old man who lived there had labeled just about everything in the house, kind of like explaining why he kept what he kept. I find myself doing that with things that came down through the family.

    My mom had saved a pair of silk and lace panties with tiny buttons up the side. I'd often wished it came with a note attached.

  6. What an amazing task you have set for your self. Fortunately it sounds like your niece is a mini Jean and will take in those things with great memories attached.

    1. Yes, she will. She's into family history and has even been to Europe where she's visited ancestral homes of her family and her husband's. When I published my family history books I got enough copies that all five of my brother's grand-kids would get a copy. My hope is that a hundred years from now at least one copy will have survived or at least sent to the place out west that welcomes books like that.

  7. Congrats to you my friend! You have certainly gone through a lot of stuff and made the decisions. You must be an EXPERT at organizing and storage ... that is a lot of big items with extra big memories. You two were peas in a pod!

    Since I downsized, I still find things I haven't used in a year, so I put them in the goodwill container we keep. Jesse cherry picks items so when I'm thinking (just recently) about getting something to carry my laptop and cords in ... I asked him first. He had saved Mr. Ralph's newest briefcase.

    Keep up the good work and the blogging! I love it.

    1. I hope you didn't think that list above about media recycling was a list of stuff I took there. It's not. I copied it from their website to answer Ally's question. I really haven't gotten rid of a lot of big things but the little things add up and took up a lot of space. We're thinking of having a Facebook Market Place sale here in September for big items like a butcher block, dollhouse, tool chest, etc.

      It would be easy if I just loaded up everything and took it to Goodwill but I've got plenty of time before the house will go up for sale so why not make as much money as I can?

      You couldn't stop me from blogging if you tried. LOL It's too deeply ingrained and part of what I consider to be good metal exercise.

  8. Wow! I'm impressed at all the work you are doing/have yet to do. Thank you so much for blogging about it. I'm glad you could pass some of the precious things on to your niece.

    1. I've been to a lot of estate sales where family history stuff should haven't have been included, should have been offered to family. I didn't want that to happen.

      You all will be sick of my downsizing saga a year from now.

  9. You will feel "light as air" when you are finished downsizing. I know that I did.

    1. It's funny but there are things I've sent here or there and a few days later I found a need for. I've made mistakes and realize I'm being too ruthless. But generally, you will be proven right, I'm sure.

  10. I love reading your blog. I live in Byron Center and among many things, I wonder where/what is the resturant you mention visiting. Also what flower shop did you work at. I worked at Eastern Floral many years back.
    It is interesting to read about your downsizing. We have been through that too. In a condo now.

    1. Thank you! I know Byron Center!

      I don't like to name actual businesses, towns, people and places by name that I go to or live in. I was stalked decades ago which is why I'm vague about stuff like that. But the restaurant you can probably guess, since you know West Michigan. It's a chain of 6 places and is set up like a cafeteria. It's been around for decades. I call it the Guy-Land Cafeteria because at the time of day I usually go it's filled with old retired men and earlier in the morning when my husband I used to go after working all night it is filled with men on their way to work.

      I worked at the floral shop with 4 acres of greenhouses attached on Madison Ave, just south of 28th St. It's no longer in business but Eastern is. Small world, isn't it!

  11. I bow down to your ability to jettison so much so efficiently... my Process is so painstakingly slow and addled by comparison! I'm Inspired tho' and since Autumn is coming, with cooler weather, I might be able to tackle my Garages again and empty them out? As for the interior of Villa Boheme', well, it's a Work in slow Progress.

    1. I am slowing down and that's not good. I still have a long way to go and I don't work as well in the winter than I do the warm weather months. You at least have an extra set of hands around when needed.

  12. I can't imagine all the work you're doing, just with the Ebay stuff. That's an incredible amount of meticulous effort! And the record-keeping! I know you were disappointed that you weren't moving into the new place as early as you thought, but maybe it's a good thing after all. You're getting a big chunk cleared now, and if you are slowing down a bit, you can rev back up again a couple more times before Crunch Time.

    1. I will need all the lead up time it takes and that was one of the attractions to moving into this place instead of others around. The others all have waiting lists and when they call you have to move in within a month...not just pay for your place but actually live there within the month. I would/could never move that fast. Even if something with the new place falls apart, at least I have that deadline to meet with downsizing and I would be more mobile after that to get on those waiting lists.

  13. I'm so impressed with your progress and so happy some of your family members want the old family memento/history stuff. It would feel good to me to know some of the most meaningful things I've ended up with would be kept within the family. As for the rest -- I admire your "let it go" mentality. I have to idea how to do Ebay and likely have nothing of worth anyway. I think all my stuff will end up in a resale shop or a landfill.

    1. My goal is to not have things in up in a landfill. Recycling in now my middle name.

      Me too on family taking stuff. If I could, I'd load up everyone's house. LOL

  14. A basement nearly finished? Yikes. You are AWESOME!!!

    And that's so special about your grandfather's papers -- she had to be over the moon to be trusted with something so important and historic. I love it.

    Thanks for all your visits! I wish I could reply without writing on your blog but you come as no-reply so I can't. But every visit means a lot! And yes, time to go to the Island -- but go on your own. Grand Hotel is highway robbery!

    1. The basement is nearly finished because all the art stuff is in garage now...this week's sorting project. After that, I can actually start working on the garage. I'm thinking of having a Facebook sale this fall to unload some big things like a Hoosier cabinet and butcher block.

      I think about my grandfather never wanting to be caught without his naturalization papers on his person and I can't help wondering if relates to the kind of thing Trump is pulling now with immigrants. I know my the Italian neighborhood where he lived was hassled by the KKK.

      The Grand Hotel is more doable than Nantucket. I need to change my dream.

  15. I'm exhausted reading this.
    To me, all the memories found and remembered is harder than the physical work.
    You are a woman of great stamina!!!

    1. The memories keep me up at night. And I'm not allowed to get exhausted until winter gets here but just between you and me, I'm feeling my age!

  16. This topic is so important not only to widows but those of us aging. I sure don’t want my sons to have to go
    Through all my stuff. Good reason to make downsizing part of a daily routine!

    1. It really is, isn't it and it's shocking the stuff that I find. Today it was a stash of DeCon to kill mice. They were stock piling it the pellets!

  17. Congratulations on all the progress you're making on your downsizing. It sounds as though you're good at setting manageable goals and sticking with them.
    p.s., I wish we had a "media recycling" where I could bring all that stuff!

    1. Thanks. Are you sure you don't have a media recycling in the area? Or a hazardous waste recycling? I find it hard to believe that other counties don't put out a list of where to take what. Our county puts out a booklet once a year with that information.

  18. Those media recycling centers are the best. When my printer/scanner died and I had to get a new one, I told the lump of dead metal to ours. It's only open one Saturday a month, but that's fine. It's over on the NASA property, and it's wonderful. You drive up,someone asks what you have, and directs you to the proper line. We have a monthly one for hazardous waste, too --- like paints and such.I'll be visiting them, soon.

    My saga's on a different timetable than yours. I have about three weeks to get stuff sorted, dispersed, and packed up for the moving crew. Maybe a bit more, since I don't have a date certain for the move, yet. But it's coming, and the packed boxes are piling up. I'll say this -- Amazon has become a fine source of boxes. Everyone around here clearly buys from Amazon, and a trip past the dumpster every day provides pretty much what I need!

    1. I love the fact that they have media centers to keep the stuff from filling up space under ground. Here, some of it even gets fixed to send to third world countries. I envy you your Amazon boxes but I'm not quite ready for that phase of moving yet anyway.