Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Looking for Unicorns and Rainbows


I decided to write about anything other than The Pandemic or the stay-at-home lock down or other related woes of the world. Jeez, it’s like looking for unicorns and rainbows, I bemoaned more than few times as I sat with my fingers resting on my keyboard. The dog wasn’t doing anything cute or annoying. My blog readers are probably sick of my ‘Tales from the Downsizing Side’ or hearing about the military trash books I’ve been hiding inside and I haven’t been anywhere or watched anything worth writing about. Nothing was making my fingers itch to type. I did see my first housefly of the season, stuck in between my window and its screen, but I wasn’t sure I could turn that event into a 900 to 1,000 word essay. I was, however, getting desperate enough to try.

Every morning for years I've made myself write for at least an hour, whether I produce anything keep-worthy or not. Some mornings I’ll write until my brain hurts, then delete every word I produced. Other times what I produce goes in a file titled, “half written posts.” And twice a week I actually write an essay that ends up going live as a blog post. That's not saying its always good or always interesting. I can, however, say it's always on schedule. But the day I set out to write about anything other than The Pandemic the more it seemed like I was searching for unicorns prancing under rainbows. Finally I thought, Screw it, just writing about unicorns! Don’t we all need to believe the nightmare we’re living through could be wished away as quickly as unicorn stickers can put smiles on little girl faces? Ya, I could do something with that premise, I decided.

If you look online for the definition of ‘unicorn’ you’ll find two listed: 1) a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead, and 2) something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain. Little girls seem to have a special affinity for unicorns and not having much experience with children I wondered why. And guess what, I am not the only one. Google found me a MIT graduate student who wrote a paper about why little girls are attracted to unicorns. She says, “Horses and dolphins and unicorns — these are all borderland creatures; gateway animals to other worlds. They help us imagine wonderful other ways of being in the world. They let us be cowgirls and oceanographers and mermaids and princesses…” 

Unicorns are not just an American thing. They can be found in all cultures around the world. They’ve been around and associated with little girls from Medieval times in the form of an iconic myth (?) of hunters who used little girls as bait to lure unicorns to come check them out because…well, everyone in ye olden days knew that a virgin’s purity, youth and beauty attracted unicorns---and probably a lot of biting insects as well, but the storybooks don’t mention mosquitoes in those woods where the virgins waited while the hunters hid. Fast forward a lot of centuries and I hear tell that modern girls will say that unicorns only show themselves to those who believe in them. They are pure spirit like believing in the power of God or the power of Self. 

Narwhal whales with their ten foot, single horn are real which begs the question: Could land-dwelling unicorns at one time have walked the earth? I found the answer and, yes, they did according to an article in Natural Ecology & Evolution. They existed in Eastern Europe and Central Asia but climate change made them go extinct as recently as 39,000 years ago, which means they did co-exist with the human race.

A decade ago researchers were able to study the DNA of a single horned, four-legged fossilized animal but what they found was that those ancient unicorns were nothing like the pastel creatures that today roam across notebooks, backpacks, tee-shirts and little girl’s PJs. No pink or purple pigmentation. No mane to hold on to hold on to while flying over rainbows. And certainly no way to sprout wings when needed. They were downright ugly if the drawing above is an accurate depiction. But seeing that drawing, I can very well imagine they were hunted for a food source. And I’m betting little boys or goats would have lured them into a trap as well as little girls. Girls, however, have always been more expendable through the ages---that’s my spin, being a card carrying member of the Feminist Movement. But you'll have to agree that hunters in primitive tribes have always elevated chest-beating males and milk giving goats above the demure gatherers who cooked the meat and kept the home fires burning. Thus you now understand why I used a question mark after the words 'iconic myth.' The connection between little girls and unicorns is real and iconic but it's not hard to jump to the conclusion that the myth could actually be based on fragments of facts and therefore not a myth at all. (I have too much time on my hands, don't I.)

Rainbows are real and we all know where and when we’re likely to find them. There is something powerful about seeing a rainbow after a storm. They restore our sense of awe and wonder and make us smile in delight. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, however, is not real. Still, the legend of fairies and leprechauns burying their gold at the end of the rainbow remains as an uplifting symbol of how after a storm there is always a reward. In time the storm ravaging the world known as The Pandemic will pass and we’ll pick up the threads of our lives to weave them back together. In time we’ll put on our rose-colored glasses and see mostly the positives these trying times brought out in each of us and in society---and there will be many positives mixed in with the stresses, the losses, the politics and the pain. We just have to believe that day will come and believe it with the tenacity of little girls who believe in unicorns.  ©

34 comments:

  1. I would never tire of your Downsizing Posts, you are the Jedi Master of Downsizing and I am taking Notes! *Winks* I wandered around the RV Garage Today, it is hoarded to the hilt with what won't fit into the New Home... and dammit, I've got Two... No, 1.3 Banana Boxes only filled with what I intend to Hawk when the Antique Mall opens back up... IF it ever opens back up?! I too have attempted to Write about Positive things, I can't muster it most days lately and poncing around the Property looking for Blog Fodder when I don't even remember what Time, Day or Date it is anymore is futile! FUTILE I tell you! I Love to Write, to Blog, to Photograph shit... and some Days I got NOTHIN'! So... I commiserate with you my Friend, but keep on Keepin' On.

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    1. Deciding what to 'hawk' isn't going to be fun in the next year or two when so many people won't have extra money to spend of non-essentials like you and I both have to downsize. I bounce between wanting to keep my blog fodder real regarding my feelings and fears of the pandemic and its fallout and not wanting to add to the public pool of stresses the pandemic is bringing.

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    2. I vacillate widely for exactly the same reasons. I think many of my Visitors come for a respite from Life and to enjoy some visuals that are pleasant, so I don't want to damper that with tough reads too much! I'd rather be Uplifting and Positive... it's a challenge right now to know which Platform to choose!?

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    3. In the end, it's the same choice it's always been even before the pandemic. Do we write for ourselves or for an audience?

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  2. A narwhal's horn is actually a tooth. I've seen groups of them off of Baffin Island on a sea kayaking trip. We were in folding kayaks so there was some concern they might inadvertantly spear and sink us.

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    1. Wow, that makes it the horn/tooth all the more extraordinary, Dean. You're sure had some memorial experiences.

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  3. Well, I believe in unicorns. After all, look what was parading down a Nassau Bay, Texas street last Saturday.Unless I miss my guess, it's a modern incarnation of a unicorn. Your post is more on target than you might have imagined! She (he? it?) even has the dog along. Who knows what the dog thought about it all.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that. It made me laugh right out loud. If I can figure out how to nab it for this post, I will.

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    2. I intended to use it on my blog -- would you mind taking it down?

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    3. Done and I can't wait to see it inspired you to write.

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    4. Thanks so much- I should have said it was for "your eyes only"! LOL!

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  4. You know, I never did go through the Unicorns, Horses, and/or Rainbows phase as a girl. I wasn't a tomboy, either. I was just bookish, I guess.

    Now, it's all Disney and Princesses and commercialized stuff like that. You can't even find a simple colouring book that's not based on a licensed character.

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    1. I'm way too old to have passed through the unicorns and rainbows thing, but 'Black Beauty' was a thing. But even in the '40s there were plenty of franchised merchandise for children...lots of radio premium you mailed after of characters G-Men, Howdy Boys and tons of western movie stars memorabilia. Disney commercialization of characters has been around since the 1930s. It's just that fads go around the world at a faster rate now, so it just seems more is out there.

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  5. Oh goodness, now hoarders will be stocking up on puffy unicorn costumes to use as protective gear! Enjoyed your post! Thanks!

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    1. Thank you! That would be funny. A month ago if a man walked into a bank wearing a costume, they'd think he was robbing the place, now you'd think he's just trying to stay germ free.

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  6. Never really heard about unicorns till I was an adult but as a child I was obcessed with horses. In books, plastic or stuffed and finally my own live pony. Kind of like kids today with the horned version.
    Laughed out loud at the biting insects.

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    1. I was in love with horses, too, until I spent the summer riding them ever chance I got and having my thighs break out in hives which I hid from my mom because I had a crush on a guy who worked at the stables. Oh, and do I remember those horsefly bites as well. LOL

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  7. For some reason, the unicorn craze came along after my girls were older, but I do remember them having My Little Pony, which looked all rainbow-y and like a predecessor to a unicorn. As for narwhals, I don't think I ever knew heard of one until our grandson became obsessed with sharks and narwhals. ?? Kids are funny...they seem to settle on something that obsesses them at a young age. It will be interesting to see if his interest continues. He's also becoming interested in racing/sports cars, which is quite a departure from sea animals. LOL

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    1. I never heard of narwhals until I was researching for this post. That's one of the things I love about blogging and reading other people's blogs. You never know when something new and interesting is going to peak your interests.

      What little boy doesn't develop an interest in sports cars...and most of them never give it up until they have a midlife crisis and buy one.

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    2. Haha...ain't that the truth!

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  8. I, for one, NEVER tire of your downsizing adventure. And thank you for not writing about pandemic or politics or the economy. I come here read and relax and learn something new. THANKS!

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    1. Can't promise I'll stay away from those topics. I have no life. LOL

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  9. I read a lot about COVID-19 but I don't worry about it, just take precautions and look for bright spots. They are starting to learn a lot about it, which is interesting. I mostly don't write about it because there are still a lot of good things happening in the world. Writing short daily posts keeps me occupied.

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    1. In a sparsely populated state like you live in I'm sure it's easier to view the pandemic as something of interest but something that probably won't touch you. In my state last count we had 12,774 cases and 479 deaths. The businesses areas look like ghost towns and all appointments are canceled until who knows when. People in the grocery store that used to speak or smile as you passed by one another now turn away. Facebook is filled with lots of good things people are doing but it's never far from your mind that things will take a long time to go back to normal again.

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  10. Wow, that picture of the unicorn looks like a hairy rhinoceros with an over-achieving horn. Kinda like some say the idea of the mermaid came from some sailor that saw a manatee. Must have been after his daily ration of rum...LOL! Give me the pretty, mythical versions in both instances please!

    Cute post, Jean!

    Deb

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    1. That's the thing about stories that are passed down from centuries past...each person the story or myth passes through slants it a shade or two. I want my unicorns in the form of eatable candy.

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  11. I never even heard of or thought of unicorns as a kid. I don't think I heard of them till I was quite old -- maybe high school or college as I became more aware of classical art and first saw the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. The lore is fascinating. I'm thinking this fellow looks more like a rhinoceros. Ah, but a rainbow -- that's always a good sign. It means the sun is out somewhere.

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    1. Unicorns weren't a thing in my youth either. I saw my first unicorn in a college art history class and learned about the myth.

      The fellow at the top was the illustration from the "Natural Ecology & Evolution" article. The DNA they studied is a sub-species of a rhinoceros called Elasmotherium sibiricum, known as the ‘Siberian unicorn. Apparently, the new DNA tests have the people who study such things all a twitter because they previously thought they'd gone extinct 200,000 years ago.

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  12. I enjoyed your essay and learned a lot. My granddaughter has a unicorn toy and tee-shirts with unicorns, she is 5 years old. I was a little girl during WW2 in Paris so did not have many toys and did not know about unicorns. My ideal animal then was a camel. My aunt lived in Cairo, Egypt, and when she came to visit she brought me a small leather camel toy – I loved that camel and always dreamed to ride one. Luckily as an adult I have, several times. I still think that I was more scared watching German planes and their bombs at night in the sky than I am of the virus, and the warning sirens, oh the sirens....

    You hope that the Pandemic will pass … not so sure they’re won’t be another one. Both my daughter and son-in-law are physicians epidemiologists and tell me that because humans keep encroaching on animal’s territory there will be more zoonotic diseases outbreaks. (Zoonotic diseases are diseases, bacteria, viruses, parasite, etc, that jump from animals usually to humans.) Bill Gates in 2018 said that the world should be “preparing for a pandemic in the same serious way it prepares for war,” and he invested heavily in that fight. But President Trump slashed the CDC budget studying zoonotic diseases and proposed slashing the 2021 CDC budget by another $700 million – not approved yet fortunately. I don’t think we’ll be out of the woods in future years.

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    1. Wow, what an interesting comment. Thank you for sharing your childhood memories. I have seen camels twice in my life time, even fed a baby. I knew they were big but I was not prepared for how BIG they really are.

      What you've written about Zoonotic diseases is fascinating and scary and is yet another example of how shortsighted and stupid Trump is. Thankfully we have people like Bill Gates in the world who will keep this issue in the forefront.

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  13. So from the drawing, it looks as though the unicorn was an ancestor of the rhinoceros. I wonder when they came to be depicted as looking like horses, which is probably a big part of their attraction to little girls. Did the path from horse-crazy little girls (I was one) to unicorn-crazy little girls go through My Little Pony (with all those rainbow colors)? Fascinating.

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    1. In my reply to Jeanie up above I said the 'Siberian unicorn' is sub-species of a rhinoceros called Elasmotherium sibiricum. The first unicorn I ever saw was in a painting from the early 1600s "Taming the Unicorn." Early unicorns were always depicted as white as far back as the Greeks who believed they were from the natural world, not the mythical. There is a tapestry of a white unicorn that dates back to the 1490s hanging at the Metropolitan in New York. The change from white to rainbow colors really could have morphed through My Little Pony. I haven't found anything on that but it's recent that's for sure. A fascinating topic the more you dig into it.

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  14. I believe many creatures were once real and the world was much different than the one we know now. They have discovered so many dinosaur bones in this area, along with the bones of giants.
    I still think of a friend who said, while describing a lady she knew from church, that "..she was all unicorn farts and cherry blossoms" and I knew just what she was referring to.
    I went to the grocery store early on Sunday and was able to get most of the things on my list. I got excited when I found potato hamburger buns. There weren't many shopping at that time but I only saw a few people wearing masks. We don't have any curbside pickup services here. I decided I would make this run as perhaps there won't be another opportunity to be as safe or perhaps our supply chain will be broken. I had a map and a list when I went in and hurried my mission. There was no flour, but there was a few bags of sugar. I was also able to get two dozen eggs and two lbs of butter.

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    1. I was going to go to the store this week but then they said this week was going to be the worst for MI and I decided I can wait until next week. Must be a lot of people baking because flour has been in short supply here as well. I bought some bread mixes in case I couldn't get bread. I have not used curbside pickup but it's all over our city. You order and pay online ahead of time.

      I love the expression 'unicorn farts.' Got to look for a place to use it.

      Stay safe Penelope ...and everyone else reading this!

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