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, September 19, 2020

Bees and Cleaning Ladies

The exterminator came to terminate the lives of some very ugly and active ground bees. I thought they were wasps coming and going under the metal siding of my house but the guy said differently and who am I to argue over the point. They were entering under the last row of shingles but then, he said, they were following a crack along the cement and going into the ground. As I stood 25 feet away, he made them very angry as he used a long, skinny tube and a hand sprayer to get a white and smelling powder down in the hole and under the siding. The guy repeated the action at least ten times over the course of a half hour causing bees to shoot out and fly around his body. One of the tallest guys I’ve ever seen in my life, he was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt that wasn’t long enough and it gave him something in common with plumbers who show off their butt cracks and the man didn’t wear any protective gear, not even a pair of gloves when his hands were only inches away from the nest. I, however, had wished I was suited up for space travel. Neither of us got stung, thank goodness, or I wouldn’t be here to write about it. I wasn’t too worried about it, I’d been studying their flight pattern for three weeks so I knew they never came near the area where I was standing, and being allergic to bees I’ve learned over the years to calm myself when one is near me. Apparently he knew that trick too.

I was told to stay away from the area for 24 hours because bees who make their way out past the powder were going to be “madder than a wet hornet.” I don’t know how they gauge wet hornet anger against powdered bee anger but, again, who am I to question a guy who does that kind of work for a living? Twenty-four hours later I went out to pick up dead bee bodies because I didn’t want the frogs in the area to eat them and get sick. They did that once when I killed some bees with Raid---ate them, but I don't know if the frogs got tummy aches. Dead, the flying death machines puffed up huge with their load of white poison. I didn’t feel one bit sorry for them. The exterminator said to be eco-friendly I should have sprayed them with equal parts of water and vinegar and if he knew why my bottle traps didn’t work, he didn’t share that info with me. He got distracted admiring a restored, antique ECO air pump in my garage that caught his eye. I told him it’s promised to the son-the-I-wish-I-had to cover $2,000 toward the cost of him helping me move next year and the exterminator had me take his personal contact information as a back up for a quick sale in case that deal with Tim falls through. I love back up plans.

The guy said I might still see some bees up to two weeks and after that if I see any I’m to call back within 15 days and they’ll come spray again for free. You can bet I put that date on my day planner so I don’t let it slide and miss the deadline. The service cost $189.00 but I didn’t have a choice. If the gods of the pandemic allow tricker-or-treaters this year they’d have to walk right in bees’ flight patterns as the mail carrier did when she picked up my e-Bay packages and I’ve been doing to take Levi for walks. 

The next day I had to get acquainted with my new house cleaner. If you follow my blog, you’ll know I loved my old cleaner for both her OCD cleaning abilities and our conversations. Purity has a hard luck history that includes childhood sexual abuse, rebellious teen years, giving up a baby for adoption---all leaving her with some serious issues that sound like you're picking random letters out of your alphabet soup. But she is street smart, determined to make her own way in the world, wise beyond her years and she had too much potential to be working a dead end job cleaning houses for the rest of her life. So I was both happy and sad to lose her because she’s going back to school to become a vet’s assistance.

Who knows, maybe my magnet that I placed on the refrigerator where she had to keep cleaning around helped give her a push in the right direction. It’s a George Eliot quote that says, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” More than likely her going back to school was triggered by the fact that she’ll be aging out of a state-aid program that helps kids like her with tuition money and that window will close on her 25th birthday. I’m happy for her and when she left she said, “You have my phone number, if you ever want to meet for coffee call me.” I was frankly shocked by that offer but I managed to say, “I’ll do that.” Maybe, just maybe she got as much out of our conversations as I did over the past three years...or maybe the coffee offer came because I had just given her a $50 going-away tip.

So many people come and go through our lives and we never really know how or if we’ve had an impact on each other. I do know when I’m around young people like her I have a tendency to try to be like my father. He had a sly way of teaching values and life-lessons, of planting seeds of wisdom that I didn’t fully appreciate until I was much older and cousins and lake friends would tell me how much he'd influenced them. I don’t fool myself in to believing I have his gift but he did pass it on to my nieces. I see my dad in them every time they're around young kids....their warmth, their patience, their positive reinforcements, the teachable moments they find are right out of my dad’s playbook. ©

31 comments:

  1. Wow! I'm glad you are getting rid of those bees...they would terrify me and I'm not even allergic to them.

    That was sweet of Purity to give you her phone number. I wish her all the luck in the world.

    Did you have trouble getting a new house cleaner?

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    1. I use a house cleaning service that vets, bonds and insures their cleaners so the transition isn't something I had to worry about. The bad part about using a service they don't pay them as well as those who work indepentantly so the turn over is greater. But with those who hire themselves out if they get sick there is no one cover for them and if you want to fire them for some reason you have to do it to their face instead of just calling the service and saying you want someone else.

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  2. You lost me on butt cracks!! I can picture all us standing around watching the exterminator showing off his physique. So, I'm a horny ol' lady...gimme a break. Counting the days with you...he just may return, and I will be there...ogling.

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    1. LOL Since that first day I've only seen dead bees three days in a row and no live ones and it's been a week. I'm pretty sure Butt Crack guy won't have to come back. :( he was quite the talker.

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  3. I always hate to see bees killed, but in this case, I understand the decision. I'd always assumed that ground-dwelling bees were solitary, and it turns out that's both true and sort of not true. They don't live in a common residence, like honeybees in a hive, but they like to set up housekeeping next to their friends, so where there's one there can be many. Interesting stuff.

    One of the sadder aspects of life is that we often don't know how much we've been influenced by someone until it's too late to tell them. That happened with my dad, and it happened with one of my favorite professors. After years and years, I decided to give him a call and tell him. Unfortunately, I happened to choose the very day of his death to call, and got his daughter instead. Oops. That taught a lesson, believe you me.

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    1. I know what you mean about killing bees unnecessarily. If it had been a honey bee hive they could have moved it. With these bees there was no way to get to my front door without walking right in their flight path.

      That's too bad about not being able to tell your favorite professor about his influence. I'm sure his daughter treasures you making the effort to tell him. I think when it comes to teachers if we write or talk about the ones who influenced us, and put it out in the world, it gives all teachers a point of pride thinking that they, too, had positive influences on their students..

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  4. Oh, I so wish the very best for Purity. She keeps on keeping on, and she wants better for herself and her kids.

    I think it IS important to try and remember that we never really know what impact we may be having on people at any given moment. We could help lift a person at a tough time in his/her life simply by a kind word or act. Or ignoring a rudeness when that person is not at his best.

    My personal motto: Kindness is my default.

    You just never, ever know.

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    1. I love your motto! I actually know a lot of people who live it.

      Purity only has the child she gave up in an open adoption and she really would like to have another that she can keep, but she wants to be in a better place financially before she and her boyfriend will do it. He's another person with a hard luck past. He's a window cleaner so next year I'll have a reason to contact him when mine need doing and I'll see how they're doing.

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  5. I’m glad you could get rid of the ground bees. I didn’t know they existed until we moved here and within two weeks my dog had been stung and had to be rushed to the vet with an allergic reaction. Our vet does quite a bit of business treating dogs who have been stung. That and the consequences of eating infected bunny poop - or dog candy as he calls it - are good income streams for him.

    I can see how your chatting with and listening to Purity would lead to her sincere desire to retain the connection. Sounds like you have your dad’s talent in that area.

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    1. Between the dog eating bunny candy, toads and the possibility of getting stung I've had to keep an eagle eye on Levi when he's outside.

      It's often a challenge---for me---to talk to young people. It doesn't come easy as I have to tamp down my impulse to give unasked for opinions/advice/commentaries when all most people really need is a sounding board so they can come up with their own solutions or resolutions. What I like about Purity is our conversations were never shallow or guarded.

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    2. I hope you call her to have coffee in a way that is comfortable during the pandemic. Sounds like she values your friendship.

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    3. To be truthful, she kind of scares me. LOL

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  6. I think you probably are a good and wise influence on Purity, and you may never know how much your words affected her present and future decision-making. Young people often can't or don't express these things, but that doesn't mean the seeds of your words fell on concrete instead of fertile soil. My daughter works with young people in her job as a social worker, and she often despairs that she is not being effective, based on lack of feedback from her young clients. I think she is being heard, but she may never know it because they just can't or won't express their thoughts due to past trauma and their age. Some of her clients have suggested meeting up for coffee as friends once their sessions have ended and that to me is proof that she is indeed being effective in a positive way in their lives. As Purity has suggested, for you!

    Deb

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    1. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree with your daughter, does it. Sounds like you two have a great mother/daughter rapport. Social work is full of unsung heroes.

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    2. Thank you, Jean. We do. I couldn’t do social work; it would eat me alive. Thankfully others can.

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  7. So glad you are now safe from a serious bee sting. Didn't know there were ground bees- just glad you are now out of danger. The exterminator sounded like a trip. No protective gear? He knows something.
    Sorry you lost Purity but it may be partially your fault. Wonderful that she is making the effort to better herself and I thought the offer of coffee shows how much you mean to her. Time to feel sad but good.

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    1. He claimed he'd never been stung. I sure wouldn't have had gloves, a hat and long sleeves at least doing that kind of work.

      Ya, I was really sorry to lose her but I was glad the service gave me an opportunity to move my cleaning up a week so I'd have a chance to say good-bye at least. I didn't get that with another I'd had and really liked.

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  8. Your Dad's Playbook was an excellent one and I'm often surprised at how much a Young Person will listen to a Senior that is able to connect to them in a different way than a lot of older people don't even try to. I think too many Seniors get so old they forget what it was like to be young... I refuse to do that. So I have a lot of Young Friends who include me like they do their peers. The real irony being, when I was their ages, I had more Friends that were Seniors than I did my own Peer Group! So now the tables have turned, or mebbe gone full circle, and most of my Friends are my Kids or Grandkids ages and I don't Connect so much with other Seniors, except mebbe here, since there are more Kindred Spirits you run into in vast cyberspace. Glad you got your Bee problem taken care of, shocked he wore no protective gear, did what he had to do and didn't get stung! Glad and sad you lost Purity, she sounds like a Lovely young resilient Soul, I hope she achieves her Dreams and has much Success and Happiness, she's so deserving of it I'm sure.

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    1. I can see how you connect well with young people. You're such a free spirit that they no doubt feel free to be themselves around you, warts an all plus raising a granddaughter at your age keeps you into the culture, so to speak.

      I don't connect well with any age bracket. I was one of those women who let my husband make all our couple's friendships, didn't bother to network with women on my own because I really didn't have the time or much in comment with the typical women around me who were raising families. Not having kids or grandkids makes it hard to connect with my peer age bracket because they fill up so much of their conversations.

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    2. Once I was raising Grandchildren some of my Older Friends didn't want Youngsters around and it didn't fit in to what they were doing together. It did keep me into the Culture, around more people still Raising Families or around Young Singles who had similar interests, despite the Generation Gap. I've never felt like an Old Person, I never saw my Parents as Old People because they didn't talk or act like most people their advanced Age. Mom had as many Young Friends in her 80's as she'd ever had, but few other Octogenarian people she could relate to, what filled up so much of their conversations didn't interest her. The Man isn't very Social, I'm the more interactive one, he's very Introverted, so we compliment each other Yin/Yang.

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    3. My husband was the interactive one and me the introvert. It does work out complimenting each other doesn't it.

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  9. We had a yellow jacket nest in the siding of our house a few years ago and they were getting in the basement! After the exterminator sprayed we must have had hundred of dead ones in our basement. Nasty little buggers and apparently no use to the environment according to the exterminator!

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    1. Wow, I didn't have any where near 100 but I don't believe that they'd been in that spot longer than a few weeks. Yellow jackets are really nasty and aggressive.

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  10. You be careful of those bees. My friend accidentally stepped on a nest and disturbed it, kicking dirt in the hole, thinking it was a mole or vole or some hole like that. Nope. They came out in force and she looked worse than the kid in Willy Wonka -- nine or ten stings, mostly on her legs and some on her arms. I think she might still be on steroids -- they got it some, not all so gave her more. Be careful.

    My cleaning people moved and I haven't had anyone since. And yes, you can tell... sigh.

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    1. I will and am. I never walk barefoot in my yard because of bees and I watch before pulling weeds, etc. Your friend was lucky that many bee stings didn't kill her!

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  11. YIKES! Bugs of any kind bother me but especially stinging or biting kind. Thankful we have people to get rid of them. Even honeybees. I have a friend who rescues hives and puts them in her backyard.

    Why does Purity scare you?

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    1. I'm glad I don't live near your friend but I'm glad she's saving honeybees. It's become quite the thing to do around here on campuses.

      It was a half joke but she can be pretty intense.

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  12. Bee's like that are scary many are allegic without even knowing it

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    1. I know! I wish I had asked the guy if he had been tested for bee allergies. Seems like a company would do that.

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  13. Arrggghhhh...those bees! Glad they've been dispatched. I always feel sad when we have to kill off a whole bunch of pest-y things, but with your allergies I guess it's survival of the fittest. The idea of not knowing who we might influence is one that I both love and find sad. I often wonder if I've made any impression on someone at all, have helped, or been a role model in any way...I hope so, but with few exceptions I guess we never know.

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    1. They were just too close to my door to avoid killing them.

      You've got to see your influence in your granddaughters and of course, your son. You and your husband are so passionate about the things you care about and donate your time to so many good causes, they couldn't have better role models.

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