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

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Toilet Paper and Other Casualities of the Pademic


I’ve found many things to laugh about during the pandemic and a lot of them have to do with the humorous toilet paper memes people have created for the amusement of those of us who cruise around cyberspace. But I never expected to find humor while shopping for toilet paper at Amazon. One listing had be laughing so hard the dog came from the other room to check on me, probably thought I was having a medical emergency that would interrupt his human treat dispenser and we can't have that happen in this household now, can we. 

The toilet paper was trounced as: “Silky Toilet Paper, Soft Professional Series.” Professional Series? What does that even mean? To the best of my knowledge there are no professional pee-ers and poopers or contests to see who can do it quicker or fill up the bowls fuller. No amateurs to turn pro like in baseball or hockey. Or maybe the professional series is designed for people who have achieved the status of a professional in the world of sports? Do the bathrooms attached to the locker rooms of the New York Yankees or those who play for the NBA require “professional” paper---not one ply, not two ply, but three ply toilet paper? Is it written up in their contracts that their tushies get best?  If so, I hope they keep a plumber on speed-dial because that “professional toilet paper” is sure to clog up the pipes without impunity.

I never did buy what I needed online. They were either sold in such huge lots of brands I’d never heard of or the prices were too high and I had visions of the product having been sitting around in warehouses for the past 30 years, moldy and smelly. At e-Bay the prices were even higher, at gouger heights, which makes me wonder if part of the so-called hoarders are actually profiteers, buying up locally and e-Baying them out for extra cash. $45.00 for a six pack of Charmin? No thanks. I did order a travel bidet with plans to use it for all my “front door” needs thus stretching out my dwindling supplies for my “back door” needs. I won’t run out for a week or two and if I do before I’m able to snag a pack at the grocery store (which is doubtful according to the local message boards), I’ll be grateful that I didn’t stop delivery on the Sunday newspaper. Always have a backup plan and I knew that long before I started reading Navy SEAL books. I've learned a useful acronym from all those books, though: FUBAR. Fucked up Beyond all Recognition. Yup, a pretty useful thing to say about the Covid-19 world we find ourselves living in. 

I dreamed about my mom last night. I haven’t done that in decades. My husband, yes, he’s often in my dreams. My dad occasionally. But today I woke up with a smile on my face after seeing my mom sitting in her rocking chair crocheting. The look on her face was one of peace and contentment, as she usually looked when she was knitting or crocheting, and in my dream I was running around stacking and unstacking boxes like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out that my dream was about a need for the kind of comfort and reassurance that only a loving mother can give. 

During this pandemic my thoughts often go to my parents, especially my dad. Their generation lived through so many hardships and the last pandemic had a profound effect on Dad’s life. My grandmother, his mom, died after nine days of fighting for her life during the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918-1919. She was 33 year old and left behind a husband and three children, the youngest of which was my father, age eight. It's estimated that 20 to 40 million people died of the flu in those two years nationwide and 32 thousand just in the state of Illinois where my family lived at the time. Over the years my dad and uncle had gone down to Illinois more than a few times, trying to find her grave and when I got interested in genealogy I sent for a copy of her death certificate and figured out they were looking in the cemeteries in the wrong town. And the search started again.

In a twisted game of fate it as almost exactly a hundred years after her death that my niece finally solved the mystery of where my grandmother was buried. She found a historian in Grandville, Illinois who said that most people who died during the Great Flu Epidemic in the hospital where my grandmother died were buried in unmarked mass graves in a particular cemetery. My niece was able to go there to see what is now a carefully manicured lawn marking that field of so much sorrow. Now, the dead in NYC are stacked up in refrigerated tractor trailers because the funeral homes are overwhelmed trying to keep up. The more things change, the more they stay the same.  ©

PHOTO at the top is of my grandmother's final resting place.
 

36 comments:

  1. Jean, I remember using paper to wipe our butts in the outhouse. Christmas was exciting not only for the anticipated presents but because we got the oranges individually wrapped in tissue paper - much gentler on the butt, perhaps a "professional" grade. What I'm going to wipe my butt with is really the least of my concerns during this pandemic. I trust we will get through this.

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned tissue paper. I have a whole drawer full of that probably would have gone to Goodwill before I move. We had an outhouse at the cottage for years but I don't remember ever not having toilet paper.

      Yes, wWe will get through this, but some poeople are going to be really hurting coming out other side from the economic fallout.

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  2. Laughed out loud at your front door/back door analogy. I've always had a pretty solid supply of paper products laid in, so I'm not worried yet. But I can see how it could become an issue in the not-so-distant future. We do have newspapers and tissue paper for gift wrap around, so I'll be holding onto those. :-)

    The warmer weather is making people antsy. The other day we had a couple want to walk our property, although they weren't allowed in the house of course. It's odd to have people out the window driving my dog nuts and not be able to let them see our house while it's for sale. My realtor also had me to make a walkthrough, since neither he nor a videographer is allowed on site and he had a couple requests for a virtual walkthrough. It was a fun project actually...not that I will be going professional any time soon. LOL.

    And I've sewed six masks for my 88 yo mom, her husband, a friend, her boyfriend, etc. Wouldn't want to sew for a living either. I think being retired at this point is a real blessing given all the people I see trying to home school, work at home, etc.

    My mom says even given all the things she's lived through, this is the strangest thing she's every seen.

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    1. I've always had a healthy supply of paper products, too, in case I got snowed in the winter, but without being able to replace what's used I'm watching my cache dwindle. I'm not leaving the house this week because of what they've said about this being the worst week for community spread but next week I'm going to have to do a serious hunt around town.

      One of my Gathering Girls pals made me a mask. What a lot of work goes into a little thing like that! I'm sure your recipients really appreciate you taking the time and effort to make them masks. I know I appreciate it. The irony is I sold my heavy old sewing machine earlier this year and was planning to buy a smaller one around Mother's Day. Never thought I'd actually need it.

      I always wanted to make a video walk through of my house for insurance purposes, now I see them on line a lot on realtor sites.

      What a weird world we're living in now. I hope this doesn't spread into May!

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    2. Yes...these masks are simple but "putzy" as my husband would say. I still have a heavy early 70's sewing machine that I've often thought of parting with, but the new ones all have too many options on them for me. ha! With you on hoping this ends some time soon! Cabin fever is real.

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  3. So many parallels between 1918 and now. So interesting that you found out about your grandmother at this point in time. I cannot get over how TP has become THE topic of conversation. I tried to make a mask from a bandana and apparently this is a skill I need to work on. Got the time to do so. šŸ™„

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    1. I, too, am fascinating how something private as toilet paper use has become a national obsession. Our local community message board every day is post after post of people asking which store has it.

      My grandmother's death caused a real division in her family. Her parents were opposed to her being taken to the hospital where patients were overflowing and laying on the hallway floors. She blamed my grandfather's decision to take her there for her death. They never spoke again. My dad and uncle had a tombstone made for her grave and took it back and forth to IL several times trying to find her grave. Finally a Catholic priest took pity on them and let them leave it at his cemetery, which turned out to be one town over from where she was likely buried.

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    2. Wow, "ironic" is a poor representation. What a difficult choice your grandfather was faced with and one that is probably being replication during this pandemic.

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    3. Ally, I haven't tried to make one out of a scarf, either, but it looks like it wouldn't stay in place without a lot of adjusting it as you move around.

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  4. Bless your poor grandmother. What a sadness. I'm glad you all were finally able to find her after searching so diligently.

    My heart goes out to you in Michigan. I know things are tough there; tougher than here in Ohio (at least thus far). Take care.

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    1. They just extended our stay-at-home orders to May 1st. I feel so sorry for our lawn care, nursery and construction people who are not getting exemptions. We are in the top five hot spots right now.

      I never knew my grandmother, obviously, but I did so much research on her that I feel like I did. Neither one of my parents had a mother in their lives after ages 8/9. I've often wondered how different my parents would have been if they hadn't had those loses in their lives so early on.

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  5. wow what a story about finding your grandmothers grave. That is wonderful that your niece found her.
    I do wonder now if Rick could win some money on that pee/poo professional series. We could use the extra money with him no longer being able to work. :-)

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    1. My dad had passed away before my niece found the mass grave site. I'm not sure if it would have brought him peace disturbed him to know the truth.

      Oh, Margaret, if Rick could hear you now.... LOL

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  6. I guess I am lucky.
    My grand parents, greats and my parents, although living through that time of the Spanish Flu epidemic, lived on farms--away from the cities where all the sickness was.

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    1. My grandparents lived in a small rural town. From what I've read, the Spanish Flu was brought over by soldiers who'd been fighting or stationed in Europe.

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  7. Wow, all this time I’ve been using amateur grade TP and offering the same to my guests. The shame of it all!šŸ¤¦‍♀️

    Deb

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    1. And I've been doing even worse...using it to kill bugs!

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  8. Family history is really amazing! Hopefully this quarantine/virus doesn't rip apart too many families.

    I think Oregon hit the TP button a month ahead of you. While you can still only purchase one pkg at a time, we can still find it. Just did a Costco run a week or so ago and got the BIG pkg. And I love my "add on" inexpensive bidet. I'm going to have to look up the travel bidet!

    Our schools are closed for the rest of the academic year. I'm glad the boys are so young that we are able to continue teaching them. The Montessori school is teaching via email to the parents. Once a week the whole class meets at a video conference. Sad for the Seniors missing out on the pageantry.

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    1. I kind of think the senior high kids will get a delayed graduation ceremony and prom. Teachers are really stepping up to the plate to help kids. My great-niece who teaches advanced creating writing (not sure of the correct name of the class) is doing old fashioned letter exchanges with her students.

      I wish they had started limiting quantities you could buy on toilet paper early on.

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  9. I read a good article about TP. The home had to increase TP. In the past, the majority of the country used the potty at work or school eight to ten hours a day. Now those wipes happen at home. You actually hit on that. The industrial TP supply is overflowing....all over the place. The household TP is a completely separate market and is being strained by butts held up at home all over the world. Makes sense to me---finally!
    Love the video house selling. I see a future in it.

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    1. It does make sense and I didn't realize it was a problem world wide. You can even find those super large rolls that go stores and offices on Amazon.

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    1. No problem. LOL I'd still like to know who uses professional toilet paper.

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  11. I read through all the comments and didn't see those two little words: "Sears catalog." No one ever threw away that catalog. You kept it in the outhouse for reading, and other purposes. And of course, as an old Iowa girl, I know exactly where the phrase "rough as a cob" came from!

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    1. We used an outhouse at our cottage as I was growing up and I don't remember having the catalog experience. I have heard the jokes about doing so. It makes me cringe thinking about the corn cobs. LOL

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  12. I had been waiting for you to Blog again Woman! I NEED some levity and you always Deliver! Thank You. Yes, Profiteering is rampant and I suspected it would be at all levels, including Government. You know that people will unscrupulously exploit this situations for Gain... the Rich especially, just because they can and get away with it. A Bidet, I've thought of that too. And Silk Professional Series TP had me ROTFLMAO! I have a Septic here at Forever Boheme', so couldn't go for the indestructible TP, no matter how Silky and Boojee it was... at $45 a six-pac, well, Hi Grade Drugs would be Cheaper, wouldn't they? *LOL* I'm glad you found your Grandma's Grave, how sad, mass graves, hopefully it won't come to that during this Pandemic? The Man and I have pre-paid Funerals, so allegedly that would have to be respected? Mortuaries will profit considerably, that's for certain. I fear this will Bankrupt the Medical Structure in place... you just know many will never be able to afford to pay back whatever it costs for such a lengthy recover and being on a Ventilator in ICU... astronomical costs that will be per Patient!

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    1. You're so good for my ego and I wish I could promise to always delivery levity, but I can't. I feel a giant pity party coming on soon.

      I truly am worried about the collapse of our economy coming after this summer and another Great Depression thereafter. It's not as if our government has unlimited funds to bail everyone out. See what I mean, I'm about to pity party for what MIGHT happen and there is something so wrong about that picture.

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  13. That's fascinating about your grandmother and how these cycles have occurred. I had to laugh about the professional quality toilet paper. That's pretty amusing! I'm down to five unused rolls. Rick, fortunately, has some, so we're good for awhile. But I must admit, I am very careful with overusing.

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    1. I find is scary/amusing that for the first time in my entire life I'm counting the number of squares I use. In the past I'd just spin the roll with no care whether or not I needed it all. I even started a fresh roll on Monday morning in an effort to figure out exactly how much I actually use in a week.

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  14. It is a challenge to try to calculate needs when one cannot plan very far ahead and yet have to consider needs three to six months out. I am starting to feel guilty every time I use anything.
    My new way to conserve paper towels is to use old yellow pages and the like. Was up the page, smooth it out, repeat three or four times. Then it is pliable and absorbent. I don't use them directly next to food but it works like a charm for spills on the stove or for wiping out a greasy pan or one that has had tomato sauce. I saw this hint on a youtube video where the guy was using these for toilet paper. I found that same second rate paper in an expired Humana booklet.
    I have an Apple and cranberry crisp in the oven. Used a whole stick of precious butter. But it is Easter and I am out of chocolate!

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    1. Paper shortages put a new spin on the junk mail and catalogs doesn't it. I cut my paper towel up into 4 inch squares which do a surprisingly good job for spills.

      I just baked a batch of brownies. Your apple crisp sounds healthier.

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  15. Jean, Your musings about what it would mean for toilet paper to be "professional" quality had me laughing out loud. I have discovered in this pandemic that preferring products that are unpopular with others is an advantage. All paper products that I buy are made of 100% recycled paper. For some reason, most people seem unwilling to buy toilet paper made from recycled paper. (Do they think it's made from recycled toilet paper raked out of the sewers??) The result is that when I did a big grocery shopping last week, there were two 16-roll packs of my favorite 7th Generation toilet paper sitting in the otherwise empty TP aisle. (I only bought one, leaving the other one for some other environmental nut.)

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    1. I've wanted to try 7yh generation products but my favorite store doesn't carry it and until now I haven't wanted to buy it online. I did look at in on Amazon but they are currently out of stock and you have to buy 4 packs of 12 rolls, if they had it. I really like that company's mission statement, if you can call it that.

      I laughed at your remark about raking it out of the sewers to make recycled 7th generation.

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  16. Don't know how I missed this one. Yep, I am now counting sheets also. My sister and I have plead guilty of being wasteful in the past.
    As for the 1918 Pandemic, I am reading about that now in John Barry's book. Just too many parallels to today, especially in leadership. I saw last night the mass graves they are using in NY where they are burying them 3 deep in long trenches. Just too sad. I lost an aunt in that.

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  17. Professional??? That's funny! My husband bought a "toilet seat bidet" set up a couple years ago (Costco impulse buy.) I thought it was silly. Now I'm sorta grateful for it. LOL

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    1. If nothing else, this pandemic is going to sell a lot of bidets and save our city sewer systems a ton of money.

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