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

Monday, July 6, 2020

Extra, Extra! My Holiday Trip Back to the Future



This is an extra edition post because if I put it in my scheduler you'd be reading it on July 15th and who wants to read about a 4th of July trip two weeks later. Okay, it wasn’t a huge, all day 4th of July party/trip to my in-laws on a lake like I’ve gone to the same number of times as I have fingers and toes on my aging body. It wasn’t a camping trip like my husband and I loved doing where we’d set up a tent at a state park along Lake Michigan and wake up the morning of the fourth to the sound of waves slapping the sand. It wasn’t even a day trip like when we’d throw the dog in the back of our old Corvette and head for the highway that would take us along the western shore of Lake Michigan, the tee-tops off, the wind whipping through our hair, the air conditioner trying to compensate for the sun overhead. But this year I did take a mini trip that helped to put a little pep in my step, a little giddy-up in my go. 

Enough of the teaser, intro-to-the-subject sentences, time for me to spill the beans. (Jeez, it's going to be a clichés and idioms writing day, isn't it). On the spur-of-moment on the 4th of July I decided that the traffic would be light and it was good time to go down to check on the progress at the continuum care complex where I’ve got money down on an independent living unit. I hadn’t been there since the ground breaking that took place not long before the pandemic forced them to quit working for four months.

I got a bug in my undies---notice how I changed that cliché just enough to keep the writing police off my back? Anyway, I got the bug in bonnet---oops, bug in my undies that I wanted to find out what direction my unit’s windows will face and I heard on the grapevine that the footprint of the complex was far enough along to show its orientation. The house I’m living in gets a lot of light from all four directions and I'm worried that with all the unit’s windows facing the same way it will be like living in a cave where the sun never gets a chance to fill the depths of place. I had planned on taking a compass with me to help me judge the sun’s path outside my future windows.

I have three compasses. One is on the top of a ring, a cereal box top premium that is part of my childhood, secret agent collection. One is an antique pin-on brass compass, circa 1940s, made for deer hunters that hasn’t changed in style since Marbles, Michigan first started making them. Both my dad and husband had one...this compass just happened to be my husband's. It has no real value other than sentimental which is why I keep on my media cabinet to remind me that I'm grounded and never lost when I've got a compass to help me find my past, present and my future. The third compass I discovered while I was prepping my husband’s pocket watches to sell on e-Bay. I had saved what I thought was a U.S. Army, cavalry era pocket watch to sell last, thinking it was the most valuable of the collection. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and discovered it was a WWI military compass. It was made by a well known watch maker but they were made in such a large quantity that they’re only valuable if you consider $65-75 a lot of money. I'm keeping it.

If you've guessed by the bread crumbs I've been dropping---cliché #6---that I left all three of my compasses at home, you’d be right but as my mom was fond of saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a kitty.” (Idiom #2, the writing police are going to fine me for sure!) I lined up the back of my car with the front of my future unit and used the compass on the car’s dashboard to determine I’ll be a facing northeast. Just enough east to get morning sunshine across the planned wildflower garden which will be open maybe the length of a football field away to a tree line. And I'll be facing just north enough to get the perfect Artist’s North Light. My painting easel will feel right at home parked next to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room.

While I was there taking pictures a couple of guys were walking on the road that goes though the new and older parts of the complex and they stopped to talk. They told me where all the walking trails are and not to take my dog on the one through the woods or he’ll give me poison ivy. (Duly noted and appreciated.) They told me about the hawks and owls that will be hunting right outside my windows and the swans down at the lake. I told them about the restaurants that will be in this new section that they’ll also be able to use and about the farmhouse table concept one of the restaurants will have and that led to a conversation about travel experiences.

They asked a lot of questions about the layout of the units and I asked them a lot of questions about the management of this non-profit CCC and they spoke very highly about everything they do. They live in the two bedroom condo part of the complex, one had a wife in the memory care building. When I told them it was going to be like moving in to a college dorm when we all move in at that same time and one of the guys said to the other one, “We’re going to have to watch this one” then to me he asked, “Are you going to be hanging a bra on your doorknob when there’s a little action going on inside? Remember the ties on the doorknobs back in our day?” I laughed and replied, “No way! Bras cost too much these days.” The other guy looked away like he was embarrassed that his walking partner brought up the topic of bras and ties on doorknobs while I tried to decide if these guys were twins or just dressed that way. Twins, I decided. We must have talked a half hour and on the way home I was happy I’d made my 2020 4th of July trip to my future.  

That night, though, was scary. With so many public fireworks displays canceled, way too many of my neighbors were setting them off. On all four sides of my house and as far in the distance as I could see. It felt and sounded like a war zone. And it was like I had strobe lights inside my house---yellow, green, blue and red pulsating on the walls with the loud booming and hissing that also vibrated my floors and windowpanes. Levi, in the past, has not been afraid of fireworks but this year he made his displeasure heard and for awhile I pretended to be one of those thunder-shirts while I wedged him between me and the arm of the sofa. I thought they'd set the house or woods behind me on fire so turned on my wrinkling system just in case sparks fell in my yard and I was grateful I'd gotten my eaves-troughs cleaned out recently. The icky icing on the cake was my house filled up with the eye-watering smell of gun powder smoke. Happy 4th of July from Pandemic Park. I hope I never have have to end another one end like this one did. ©

 It was hard to get any pictures with the chain length fence covered in black plastic, but this photo shows the end of my building in relationship to the lake which is closer than it looks here.

This photo was taken from a different vantage point and you can see the "L" shape of the complex taking form. Those two structures in the distance, right of center are two elevator and stairway towers and I'll be right next to the one at the far end.
 
The photo at the top shows one side of the lake, this one shows the other. All those buildings are part of this CCC's independent living condos, and there is a paved path the entire distance around the lake, a one mile walk. (I was standing on it to take this photo.) I got to see the swans and their babies but they were too far to photograph. I'm going to treat myself to a new camera just before I move in.

37 comments:

  1. This is exciting. Good that those two guys had positive things to say about the non-profit CCC. I hope you post pictures after you move in and get settled. It looks like a beautiful setting.
    We heard a few fireworks going off in our neighborhood, but nothing like what you had. For the most part, it was pretty quiet here.

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    1. I will probably drive everyone to boredom the closer to move-in I get and after, as I did when I was first making the decision to buy into the place.

      I heard on the news that the complaints about fireworks were up 300% from last year and did cause some fires that were quickly contained.

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  2. What a lovely setting! Glad they are making good progress. It must be hard to wait at this point.

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    1. I swing between wanting it completed yesterday and being panicked that I won't be ready when the time comes. The timing to sell my house is going to be a very scary step.

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  3. Nice that you got first hand info on the competence of your builders and a poison ivy warning. Also now you know you need to find an old bra that you can use on the door knob--but make sure it is a pretty one:)

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    1. As I told the guys, "I did my homework on the CCC, it's nice to know I did it well."

      LOL on the old bra.

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  4. Good idea to take that drive! It was rewarding in many ways for you.

    The firework situation is countrywide. We've had them going off since June. I hope it won't be all summer.

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    1. It was good. I needed the reminder of way I'm selling so much stuff.

      Here, fireworks are legal so many days before holidays, can't remember how many but it's too many. The people behind me don't have a safe place to shoot them off but that doesn't stop them.

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  5. Looks like it's going to be beautiful when it's done. Exciting and scary at the same time!

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  6. How exciting and the pictures you took are lovely! A wonderful setting for your next home. My new place is northwest facing and as a result I have one small west-facing window (because I am on the corner of the building) and the rest are mostly north facing. I too thought I had signed on for a dark cave, but I am quite liking the light. No fears about direct sunlight fading my furnishings, and the plants I have brought into the place are thriving as well. The light will be very good for art projects I am thinking (not there yet), as you mentioned. I also don't have to worry about my place overheating (no a/c but from what I understand not really needed in this climate). I'll have to let you know what the place is like in the winter months - could be dreary? Oh well, light a candle or 10 I say and embrace the cozy!

    Deb

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    1. You mentioned plants and I have one that I've had since 1960. It never bloomed until I moved here nearly 20 years ago and it finally could be in a south window. It's flowered every year since. I may have to find it a new homes since the flowers are so beautiful.

      Deep into my unit is the kitchen are that will have under-the-counter lighting. I suspect it will be on all the time.

      Here in Michigan we have to worry about winter winds blowing snow up against north facing doors but I won't have to shovel it so that will be interesting. Lots of new experiences to get used to and you're going to be like a trailblazer for me. LOL

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    2. Same with my kitchen...windowless and the undercabinet lighting (which I am so grateful to have, in a rental) is on almost all the time! There are so many pretty plants that do better in indirect light and I am filling my place with them.

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  7. I'm glad you are directionally pleased with your new home! And how great to meet some people there already!

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    1. Before the pandemic closed the state down, the CCC was having monthly get-togethers for those of us who had bought into the new section so were were getting to know each other. I'm hoping they will find a way to do that again. It kept me motivated.

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  8. You will NEVER bore me with the journey to your new digs and life in general. Enjoy every blog!

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  9. That new development is coming along! Exciting! And nice that you met some residents with good things to say (well, maybe not the bra comment...haha). I love that lake...it's a really lovely area. I lived in the condos across the street when they were first built, and I have always enjoyed that lake from the dentist's chair, too. LOL.

    Good light exposure! Yaay! I was worried about giving up all my southern exposure windows when we moved, but I'm finding the light here quite nice. And less baking hot sun on us especially this week.Of course, winter will tell the tale. But we're big fans of under counter lighting, too. I had two giant jade plants that sat in my southern windows, and someone snapped them up on FB Marketplace in the first 15 minutes I offered them free. They were in lovely ceramic planters, and I'm sure I could have given away 10 times as many. ha! But I'm finding less responsibility very appealing right now, and that includes giant plants. DH insisted on keeping one and it's in a new spot that it seems to like better, so there you go. There are many things I'm enjoying that I didn't anticipate, and I'm sure you will too!

    I totally understand your angst about selling and moving/timing/etc. It's so stressful, but you are working right along and doing better than we did - trust me. We're now emptying boxes that are being sorted and I'm back at Goodwill off and on. Oh well. So it goes.

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    1. I'm going to be changing to that dentist's office sooner than I planned because my dentist just sent me a letter that he is retiring. Going to my next appointment but then I'm changing. That dentist office is offered that property to the CCC but the CCC says they want too much, but will snap it up down the road someday when they are ready for phrase three.

      I've never done FB Marketplace but that's part of my July plan...do drop back on e-Bay and switch to selling bigger stuff on Marketplace. Hope it works!

      I love those jade plants, but I'm trying to resist buying anything new until after I move. Will need a smaller desk and that is the hardest thing to resist because I'm at my desk a lot of hours and I don't want to rush my choices just so I can get up and running after I move.

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  10. OH, and the fireworks! So annoying. I literally got up to see if something hit the house the other night. SO loud. Someone commented that it's like a war zone...and it sounds like one. Yuck.

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    1. It really was the worst I've even seen in terms of it being too close and too loud for a neighborhood. When they light up the interior walls of your house it's very scary.

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  11. That looks like a Lovely setting, I'm glad you went and met some Fun Residents, sounds like it will be easy to make Friends there and have a Social Life!

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    1. It will be easy to make friends. The management does a lot to help with that...parties, community gardens, bus trips, clubs, etc., a volunteer corp and more.

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  12. What a clever idea to use the compass in your car! It sounds as if it would have been a great day except for the fireworks at night. I hate fireworks! Except if they're far enough away so I don't hear the noise.

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    1. I don't get why people like to set off fireworks in close neighborhoods where there are bound to be veterans and dogs who hate them and the chance of fires. Fortunately the next night, the 5th, there were only a 1/10 of what was set off on the 4th.

      Otherwise I had a good 4th. Hope you did too.

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  13. How exciting to visit this spot you will one day call home -- and the visit with the guys sounds like it was both informative and fun. It makes it seem more real somehow, doesn't it?

    I hate July 4 fireworks (the neighbor kind). Hate them. In Lansing the day after they had air quality warnings because of all the leftover smoke and such. I wouldn'tm mnd a permanent ban on everything
    except sparklers!

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    1. It does help to go down there where I'll be living next year. Every time I go I try to explore a little of the area. Very dense area for retail stores and restaurants, Trader Joes.

      I don't understand what lobby it is that prevents those anti-fireworks bills from passing. When I went to bed I was worried that I'd have an asthma attack.

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  14. Your move will be such an exciting adventure for you! I will be following to see how it all goes. I may have to make a move like that one day and it will be good to see what works for you. I wish you much luck and fun adventures during this big, brave change you are making! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. No doubt I'll be blogging about every step and misstep. Already did a lot of that last year when I was making the decision to put money down on a unit. I'm not sure everyone would be up to waiting for a new place to be built but for me, with all the downsizing I had to do, it fit a timeline I could live with...that is until the stupid pandemic came along and no one could have predicted that.

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  15. Wonderful!!
    Makes ya feel like a young girl when the guys flirt--even if they are old guys. LOL
    We have a rule in this park of no fireworks--no one takes that rule seriously. The noise doesn't seem to scare the cats as much as it does me.

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    1. Funny, I never heard of a cat being afraid of fireworks like dogs are. It can really be serious with dogs. My mom used to sit in the bathtub with one of our dogs when they were going off and a couple of others need medication.

      I know what you mean about harmless flirting. It's good for you and these guys were not bad looking and very pleasant to talk with.

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  16. What a great idea for self-entertainment on the Fourth! I'm envious of the north light.
    Ditto on the fireworks. Noisiest year ever. Not sure if the advocates of all that noise and debris think it's a form of patriotism, or if they just like the noise and sulphur smells. Another reminder that we've become a far more selfish nation.

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  17. A beautiful setting and friendly neighbors -- good omens.

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  18. They are going to have raised garden plots for their restaurant to grow their own veggies and herbs and we can get a plot too if we want one. On their other campus they are already doing this and I've tasted the food from their fresh grown last fall. Just so favorable.

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  19. Your new home sounds so perfect! I'm glad you got to have that conversation...fun.

    We had way too many "home" fireworks this year too. I'm not a fan of them....and it was obnoxious this year -- with little to no enforcement in our "No fireworks ordinance" city.

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    1. I'm hoping next year the fireworks will be back to normal with people going somewhere to see city sponsored displays. Just too many people stuck at home this year. Not safe!!!

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