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, October 26, 2019

Favorite Places and Widow's Tears

 
Saugatuck, 1895

I needed a mini vacation and I got one last weekend when my niece and I went over to Lake Michigan to my favorite town, Saugatuck, to spend the afternoon driving the road along the beach to see the “cottages” and the waves crashing on shore before window shopping the Main Street shops and having lunch at the oldest restaurant on the coastline. When we left the city, headed to the Big Lake, it was sunny and light jacket or sweater weather. The fall colors were starting to show and Saugatuck was busy with others also wanting to get one last walk-around in this tourist town before the shops close up until spring. A lot of the stores we walked by were selling their stock for 75% off but all I bought was a jar of American Spoon apple butter which as far as I can tell never goes on sale. You could spend a fortune at American Spoon with all their yummy preserves, butters and curds. It’s a small, Michigan artisan brand with a big reputation and a healthy mail order service.  

The town itself was the first one settled in the county but long before it was a town, the first white settle came there by boat to build a log cabin on the mouth of the Kalamazoo River in 1830 where Mr. Butler and his wife traded sugar and whisky for game and furs with the Indians. Three years later they were joined by another white settle who opened up a tannery near-by. Lumberjacks were the next to come along. The log cabin Mr. Butler built has been a bar and restaurant ever since those long ago days and it still bears his name although the log building itself has been rebuilt after a fire or two and no doubt has expanded its size. 

When we got to The Butler we had to wait at the bar before we could get a table. The Detroit Lions were playing the Minnesota Vikings on a large screen TV just over our shoulders and there were a dozen hardcore football fans cheering and jeering while looking in our direction. A couple of young ladies were bantering back and forth about taking their differences outside. I could care less about any sport but I thought if we sat there long enough I’d find some blogging fodder. It’s been a long time since I’ve been surrounded by sports fans watching a game and I loved their animation but it’s too bad they weren’t watching the University of Minnesota game. It would have been interesting to watch this gang react to seeing Casey O’Brien getting The Hug from his college coach after holding the ball for the kicker in Sunday’s game. He’s a four-time cancer survivor with a back story that makes the sports casters’ jobs easy. That hug and Casey's backstory was all over the media. 

A good share of the tables at The Butler over-look the mouth of the river and a marina which---along with their good food---keeps people coming back year after year. Like a lot of tourist towns, it’s hard to find many businesses open in the dead of winter, but The Butler is one that never closes for the season. My husband and I used to do this same little mini trip on clear, January nights when the town looks like something out of a Bing Cosby Classic Christmas movie with its left over holiday lights giving extra sparkle to the snow covered and empty streets. In the winter The Butler can be counted on to have a collection of hardy locals lined up along the bar and snowmobiles rather than cars parked outside.

The last time we were there, my niece had the special---liver and onions---which is something my mom used to make once a week. I hated liver and onion nights but my niece likes the yucky stuff and she joked about my mom being there with us. This year it was a spooky coincidence (or was it?) that the special happened to be another reminder of Mom---pot roast and mashed potatoes. She served it often and The Butler’s special tasted just like Mom's did, confirming its moniker as a ‘comfort food’ in our family.

I was listening to the radio while waiting to hook up with my niece the day we went to Lake Michigan when George Strait came through the speaker singing, “…It's time to say goodbye to yesterday. This is where the cowboy rides away…” and out of the blue tears trickled down my cheeks. I had my husband’s Stetson cowboy hat listed for sale at the time and I wasn’t sure I’d get hold of myself by the time my niece appeared. I did, but I ended up telling her about those lyrics making me cry anyway. The mini vacation turned out to be a great day for conversation between two people who trust one another with each other’s life struggles and joyful thoughts and all manner of human experiences in between. ©

34 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you have your niece, and that you had a nice mini vacation. This is such an emotionally hard time for you.

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    1. She a neat person who does so much for so many people. I'm lucky to have her in my life.

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  2. My coffee is sitting on a Saugatuck beer coaster as I read!

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    1. I need one of those to extend the Saugatuck effect I feel when I go there.

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  3. Love Saugatuck. What a lovely getaway. (A minor quibble, which I understand you probably don't care about, but the Tigers play baseball and the Vikings play football. I'm guessing you were watching the Detroit Lions. lol)

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    1. Oops! Thanks for the correction. I'll go fix it. LOL I should leave it as proof positive that I don't follow sports.

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  4. I am so glad your neice was there and that you did share your feelings with her. Had to make you both feel a bit better. You for the release and her for knowing you trusted her enough to share the bad with the good.

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    1. She's the only person in my family who reads my blog on a fairly regular basis---the others just aren't that into computers to care if I have a blog. She knows all my ups and downs from reading here.

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  5. Love Saugatuck and next time we go there I'm going to eat at that restaurant! I wish it was close enough to me for a day trip! I'm glad you and your niece had a good time.

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    1. I keep forgetting that I have so many readers who live in Michigan. One of my favorite stores there is one you'd love. It used to be the town post office and they sell art and cards made out of are...lots of watercolors prints like you do.

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  6. What fun! Nice to do something interesting and enjoyable to call a mini vacation. Sounds like something I would like to do .. day trips!

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    1. I love that town. It has a way of making me slow down and enjoy the moment we're in. Been going there since I was a teenager so it's filled with lots of memories.

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  7. Beautiful post, Jean. Lovely slice of life.

    Deb

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    1. Thanks, my slices of life are getting smaller and smaller and smaller as I age.

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  8. Saugatuck sounds like such an interesting place and filled with warm memories of visits from the past. Apple butter, pot roast and mashed potatoes sound wonderful.
    I had to comment after reading your lyrics from George Straight's song, one of my favorites. When he first came out with it we could still get into the dance halls to hear him for four dollars in South Texas. That song reminds me of a cowboy I let get away.

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    1. I love the memory that song gave you. Everyone should have a cowboy in their past that got away. And I'm guessing most of us have a Saugatuck in our memory banks.

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  9. Besides giving me an enticing word picture of a place I've never been, your openness and honestly in dealing with all you have been through and continue to deal with, is refreshing. In a world where we tend to hide emotions and pretend all is well all the time, your take on life seems much more genuine to me.

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    1. I try to keep in genuine and thank you for noticing. It means a lot coming from an accomplished writer like you.

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  10. I love liver and onions, and I have to order it at restaurants since I am the only one who likes it. It's a treat for me to get it.

    And American Spoon Foods! I love their stuff! It really is pricey, but how wonderful it is. I was first introduced to it on a girlfriends' trip to Traverse City, and I was hooked. I get their catalog and often order from it for gifts. So so SO GOOD.

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    1. I was introduced to the brand in Traverse City, too, and the first time I saw in more locally in Saugatuck, I was excited.I love sampling all the unusual flavors they have.

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  11. I love this post, Jean. I love it so much. Saugatuck is such a wonderful spot and it sounds like you had a beautiful day with someone who loves you very much and vice versa. The story of the song was so touching. You write so honestly and beautifully, it touches my heart.

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    1. Thank you! I have often wished I could live there but it wouldn't be the same, would it. When you go to a tourist town you're usually in a great mood and ready to relax. If you lived there, you'd have the same stresses we have living anywhere.

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  12. What a perfectly lovely day Jean! I love these types of trips.
    That song and your story made me cry. I think that was for certain a sign.
    Do you know we had to eat liver and onions growing up quite often as well. It was okay. But then around age 10 a friend told me it was a pulsating organ. I could never eat it again and have not. Funny how that works.

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    1. I took it as a sign too even though the song was about a different kind of break up.

      Eating liver once a week was a superscription" for women with anemia. At least it was for my mom.

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  13. American Spoon! I got my fall shipment just last week. I always give in to their $10 shipping specials. I now have a small stash of blueberry and sour cherry fruit perfect,lemon curd, roasted tomatillo salsa, and apple and onion jam.

    I've never heard of Saugatuck, but from the comments it seems to have quite a reputation, and a good one at that. I'm not at all fond of tourist towns, perhaps because I live in one, but your description of it in winter sounds perfect. That's probably due in part to the fact taht my all-time favorite Christmas song is "Silver Bells," which came from one of "those" movies.

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    1. Saugatuck is a really interesting place with two faces, one that the tourists don't often see. There has been an artist colony there since the early 1900s that draws people from Chicago so the town is has a lot of art shows. And the town has been listed in the once secret tourist guides for the gay friendly communities since the 1920s. They have/had their own beach. It still is listed but those kinds of guides are no longer secret but you have to look hard to notice if you're just a day tourist. Once someone was setting fires at the gay-owned business and took three of them out. Not sure if they ever caught them but the fires stopped and the gay-business built back. Anyway, its history is fascinating.

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    2. Had to chime in and say I dated a guy from Saugatuck for a while when I was single, and he (and the other locals) HATED the tourist season. They basically stayed at home as much as possible until after Labor Day. My SIL says the same about South Haven.

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    3. I can imagine. Even my niece who has a year-around house on a lake is glad when the summer people close up their cottages for the winter and everything is quiet. Living in a tourist area IS different than visiting one.

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  14. Surely you've heard Jimmy Buffett's great song, "When the Coast is Clear." It describes our ambivalence toward tourists perfectly. I laughed at the first comment on the video -- someone wrote, "I always play this one the weekend after Labor day...."

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    1. I could watch that video of the waves washing the shore all day long! Thanks for sharing it. Jimmy Buffett's iconic music will never die.

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  15. Lovely post of lots of memories made in a special place. Your mention of George Strait reminded me of the Country Music documentary by Ken Burns on PBS. Did I already mention that to you? One who likes history and music and country tunes would love it. I am not a country music fan and still I was moved and motivated to keep watching. A slice of Americana.

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    1. I really need to look that documentary up. I love Ken Burns---he's a local guy and I know I'd love this documentary. If Don were alive he would have bought made me buy it. He watched PBS a lot.

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  16. As you can see I'm finally getting around to catching up on all my Blog Reading at some ridiculous hour of the Morning since my Mind won't stop racing with thoughts concerning moving, downsizing, you know the whole drill... so Blogging is a welcome distraction but I haven't been on a Photography Bender either in a minute, so no pixs mean no new Posts without rehashing old pixs... and I'm not sure about doing that even tho' I probably have lots to say in a New Post... winks.

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    1. Every New Year's I make a resolution to take and post more photos. You can see how well that's working out.

      I do my best blog reading in the middle of the night too.

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