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, June 27, 2020

Picking Out New Eyeglass Frames

Picking out eye wear in the age of Covid-19 was complicated in a shop full of signs that all read, "Do not touch the frames." There is something about signs like that that makes some of us want to do the opposite of what they're warning against, but for the sake of preventing mass extinction of the human race I kept my hands to myself. Hundreds of off-limit frames in that place and they all looked the same anyway. If you read my last post you'll know I went into the place lusting for either gaudy rainbow colored glasses or big, horn-rimmed librarian style frames that I could hide behind. Be still my heart, while looking for a picture of my dream glasses online I found a pair on James Bond that he wore in A View to Kill.

Over the past twenty years I’ve often fantasized about being an international spy. (Family caregivers gotta have a fantasy in place for when the medical community swallows you up while endlessly making you waiting for tests, appointments and therapies.) Being in the spy business, James Bond’s horn-rimmed glasses were tricked out so he could see through tinted windows which could be quite useful if you’re trying to shoot someone in a moving car. I won’t need that upgrade but I do like spy gadgets. Have I mentioned that I still have my Captain Midnight secret decoder ring that I got by sending cereal box tops into the Great Giver of Tiny Toys? I also have a ring with a signal mirror. Spy gear has come a long way since my youth and I’d be hard pressed to find a use for one of Bond’s classic cigarette and toothpaste bombs but you’ve got to admit a Lotus Esprit that turns into a submarine would be pretty cool.

Back on topic: At my appointment to pick out new frames masks were required, my temperature was taken and I had to stay in my car until they came to escort me into the place. (Same procedure for the blood lab, eye doctors' office and the hair salon.) "But how on earth do you pick out eyeglass frames while wearing a mask?" you ask. I was wondering the same thing. Turns out I'd point to ones I liked and they put them in a box. Then I took the box into a room all by myself where I was allowed to take the mask off. Supposedly they sanitized the room in between appointments.

I didn’t mind being in the room alone because the last time I tried to pick out frames the salesperson was pushy, trying to talk me into a particular pair with gold frames. I never shop well with a Helpful Hannah on my heels and even telling her I never, ever wear gold jewelry didn’t penetrate her sales pitch. I hated her guts by the time I left. Remember the Color me Beautiful fad that was going around where you got 'colorized' at a party or department store by a person who draped you with a bunch of fabrics, then told you what season your skin tone is based on the four seasons? I still have my book of winter color swatches and I still use it as a guideline. No gold accessories for winter women! Thank you very much.

I don’t like the frames I got this time as well as the frames I came into the shop wearing. At first glance they look like they should have a piece of masking tape holding them together while some kid finishes playing the basketball game where the bridge got broken. On second glance you notice they’re a dark plum, not black, and they flash plum, lavender and turquoise as the light catches them. When they come in I’m getting new prescriptions put in my old glasses so I’ll have a choice of eye wear. Can you believe it will take between two to five weeks for them to make the glasses. Covid-19 supply chain issues. Or so I was told.

The day I got a haircut I was belly aching about all the junk my ears had to hold up---glasses, hearing aids, earrings, mask and headband. No, I didn’t forget I wrote about that in last blog post but I didn’t tell you that the stylist asked me if I had contact lens that I could wear. Do you ever have the perfect answer to questions two hours later---or is it just me? Either way, I should have told her I can barely find my glasses when I’m not wearing them, how would I ever find my eyes to plop contacts in? But I gave her a one word, boring “No.” 

Sometimes I wish I could hook a tape recorder up to my brain so all my best thoughts didn’t get lost in the inertia of going through my daily routines. If I had that recorder back in my caregiver days I probably would have had spy thriller novel listed on Amazon by now. I wish a lot and I also wish I still had the quick wit and easy come backs of my carefree youth. But in the past five years I can’t always trust what comes out of my mouth. I’ll be planning to say one thing and something else pop out. Full disclosure: it big-time ticks me off because I’ve worked so hard to overcome dyslexic when I read and write only to develop another tick in my communications skills? And if you’re thinking somewhere along the line I probably had a TIA in the speech and language hemisphere of my brain, that’s my theory too.

One time when I was talking to my husband’s neurologist about the stroke damage in his brain and I asked the doctor what happens to a person who is dyslexic and has a stroke since our wiring is half-assed backward to begin with. His eyes lit up and he said, “That’s an interesting question!” Don’t you just hate non-answering answers like that? Actually, he did add a few more blab, blab, blab sentences that scared the crap out of me so I promptly erased them from my memory bank because he might as well have said, “Your brain is going to be a pile of runny scrambled eggs.” Fortunately, I like scrambled eggs so maybe I can work it, rock it and own it. ©


New frames -colors hard to photograph
Old frames - stainless steel also hard to photograph

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wearing Masks and other Mandatory Ear Adornments


Before the pandemic April and October used to be my busiest months for yearly and bi-annual appointments for medical stuff and house and car maintenance. I liked getting it all condensed and out of the way so I wasn’t driving during winter snow storms or in the season of overheated cars and impatient drivers. With the stay-at-home orders in Michigan from March 26th to staggered re-openings starting in June It’s been a long haul and now everyone is scrambling to get months’ worth of missed appointments back on the books. Even places that didn’t require appointments are doing so now in order to ensure social distancing. I called the eyeglass place, for example, to see if they were open and was shocked to learn I had to make an appointment a week in advance to pick out new frames.

We still have mandatory orders in place to wear masks and do our six foot social distancing when we are in public. And oh how important my ears have become to the point that I’m paranoid checking them every few minutes because I’ve discovered that taking off your mask can also send your hearing aids flying across a parking lot. Before I was able to get a haircut my ears also had to contend with a plastic headband holding my hair off my face in addition to their usual job of holding up my eyeglasses and having earrings sticking through them. It’s just too much junk coming together in one place! On the good side, I'm saving money on my Bert’s Bees Watermelon lip gloss because it hasn’t come out of my drawer much since masks became part of my wardrobe. 

I have five masks now. My first two were made by one of my Gathering Girls pals, delicate and cute floral patterns. Then I ordered two that literally came on a slow boat from China. Both have pockets for filters and one is black, the other is a black and white print. Finally my local grocery store started stocking them and I got a gray mask to match my hair and it's probably too thin to do any real good. With all those masks to choose from I still want another---one with a ventilation breathing valve which probably defends the whole purpose of wearing a mask in the first place. I’m a shallow mouth breather and I’m having trouble getting enough oxygen through any of the masks I own.

Eyelashes---I can’t find mine anymore to wear mascara and since I wear silver and black glasses with rhinestones on the bows no one looks past those to see my eyes anyway. I’ve always been obsessed, however, with my eyebrows and that obsession has been jacked up on steroids since masks became standard fare. I have one dark brown and black eyebrow and one white and brown brow and I never leave the house without painting a little color over my eyebrows to even them out. Aside from that oddity, in my teens I had a unibrow that I over plucked and am paying for now that I know the ‘rules’ for where I should have quit plucking. And have I mentioned that I have the classic thinning of the last third of my eyebrows due to my hypothyroidism? I have to pencil in an 1/8 of an inch at the center ends of my brows and fill in near the other ends or I feel naked. Eyebrows on, I'm good to go anywhere. I just wish I could wiggle them independently...learn the language of eyebrow flirting in the age of Covid-19. I just made that up but the language of eyebrows should be a thing.

I've had the prescription for new glasses for a few weeks but I was waiting until after I got my post-Covid-19 lock down haircut to pick out new frames. The frames I’m using now are nearly a decade old. The last two times I’ve needed new prescriptions I hated the frames available and I ended up getting my new prescriptions put in those old frames with the rhinestone bows. I wanted something flashy with a rainbow of colors. I still want that and if I can’t find them this time I’m going with big, horn-rimmed librarian glasses. You know the kind...the kind that hides your sexiness and when you free your hair from its ponytail and whip off your glasses guys swoon at your feet. Ya, I know, sometimes I forget I don’t have a ponytail and guys don’t swoon at the feet of septuagenarians. Who said dementia can’t be something to look forward to when you have a good imagination. And who are these goober guys in romance books who can't tell if a woman is sexy if she's wearing glasses? I'm guessing they're the sons of Clark Kent and Lois Lane?

As least I’m not as delusional as a man I saw at the grocery store this week. He was hooked up to an oxygen tank that he was pushing around in his cart. On his head was a red MAGA hat and he was wearing a t-shirt with a serpent in the middle surrounded by the words, “Don’t Tread on Me! Liberty or Death!” He was not wearing the state mandated mask and his angry resentment of his fellow shoppers who were wearing them was palatable. “Give me liberty or give me death.” He’s picking his poison and I just hope he's not spiking the punch of others like me as he invaded our six foot bubble of supposed safety. As author and columnist John Pavlovitz says, "A mask is a stupid hill to die on in America." ©

“… Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace.
The war is actually begun!
The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears
 the clash of resounding arms!
Our brethren are already in the field!
Why stand we here idle?
What is it that gentlemen wish?
What would they have?
 Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased
at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take;
 but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Sir Patrick Henry 1775 in his call to arms against the British.