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, September 2, 2020

Talk about Awkward!

My doorbell rang this week which rarely happened before the pandemic and never since our state’s lock down started in March. I didn’t want to answer the door because it was nearly noon and I hadn’t gotten dressed yet. But I knew from the way Levi was acting as he peered out the window alongside the door that whoever was on the other side of the glass was someone the dog knew and liked. That narrowed the field of likely visitors down to a few neighbors and a half-dozen others who wouldn’t show up without calling first. Wearing my nightgown and long bathrobe I deciding that it was better to be embarrassed by my sloth-like ways than to have a neighbor call the police for a wellness check. On a wellness check, the police will walk around your house, looking in the windows and hoping not to find the stench of death in the air. Wellness checks can also happen if have worried, out-of-town relatives or you’re a senior citizen who hasn’t collected your mail from the box after x-number of days and the carrier reports it which is the only reason I have for going to the mailbox these days when it’s mostly filled with political junk mail and letters from car dealers claiming they have people desperate to buy my 2015 Chevy Trax. Do they really think we're that stupid?

At my door was an elderly man who lives around the corner and down the block. I don’t know his name but Levi knows him as the guy who sits in front of his garage door in the late afternoon asking if your dog can have a milk bone. I made a lame excuse for my appearance---just stepping into the shower for an afternoon appointment---and he asked me if I was interested in commodities which I thought was a strange question. “Not really,” I answer, “I was just at the bank checking on my investments and I’m good.”

“No, no, not that kind of commodities, he said, “I mean food baskets. We’re having an event up at the church on the corner tomorrow.” Still confused, I replied, “Oh, you’re looking for donations. I can do that.” “No, no!” This conversation was getting weirder by the minute. “My wife and I were thinking that you’re living all alone and maybe you might need some assistance and it’s free to anyone one in need. We put up boxes of produce and other things to pass out, no questions asked.” I thanked him for thinking about me but told him that I have a good income and the kindness would be better served if it went to someone less fortune than me. I don't think he believed me and it took a long time to get him off my porch. After he left I thought, Jeez, I really do need to update my wardrobe! I must have that bag lady look down pat. 

Change of topic: I don’t cook from scratch very often but Saturday I had the itch to make chili and raspberry scones. Chili, beef roasts, medium rare steaks, artisan bread, bread pudding and scones are my go-to things to make when I want to play Susie Homemaker and I can’t remember the last time I screwed up making any of these things…until Saturday. Worse pot of chili I’ve ever made in my life! How do you screw up making chili? you ask. By not checking the pantry before starting. I didn’t have red kidney beans so I used garbanzo beans. And I didn’t have a green pepper but the mixture looked so bland I decided to add a small can of corn for color.

I ate a bowl and froze the rest because the guilt of throwing out food is not an option in my world. If anyone has a suggestion for something else I can add to improve the favor profile of that batch of chili, I’m all ears. Maybe sour cream? Pasta? A can of the red beans? I’ve never been good at saving near-disasters in the kitchen other than to eat them up thus making the evidence disappear. I’ll tell you this, though, my Bucket List goal of making a white chili recipe that features garbanzo beans is crossed off. No way, Jose will that happen now. I bought that can of white beans back when I was planning to make hummus to expand my palate to include more plant-based snacks. But after trying a ready-made hummus I lost all interesting in wasting calories on something that tasted like cardboard…not that I’ve ever eaten cardboard but I've got a good imagination. Give me a spinach dip and I’ll eat it until the whites of my eyes turn green.

Speaking of plant-based treats makes me lust after the peaches, watermelon and blueberries my neighbor said would be in those commodities boxes. I buy a box of mixed fruit with every trip to the store and watermelon in season but the pandemic has me going to the store less often so sometimes I’m without fresh fruit in the house. And what’s even sadder is the fact that I haven’t been to the farmers market all summer. With our Pandemic Rules of Engagement in effect, it just doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do on a Saturday morning anymore. So I’ll keep my fond memories of the farmers market, thank you very much. Memories of no lines to get in and no pressure to get your stuff and go. Of leisurely molesting the melons and tomatoes and sampling the homemade breads and jams, of buying cookies to support a cause, of smelling caramel corn cooking and peanuts roasting and going home with homemade dog biscuits and flowers, blended butters and goat cheese along with farm fresh veggies and fruits. Those were the good old days of 2019 and before. I hope I live long enough to see them again. ©

47 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry you don't have a farmers' market availablel. It's the highlight of every Saturday I'm in town. There's always a musician along with the vendors -- last week it was a violinist, but the week before it was a Cajun acordion player. Things are a little slow in the veggie department now, it being the height of the summer heat, but fruit's still available, and I'm overrun with peaches. I'm going to have to freeze some tonight, just so they don't go bad.

    If you want, I have a terrific white (that is, chicken) chili recipe. I'd link it here, but two days ago my computer gave me the blue screen of death and is now at the doctor. I about died when they discovered that the external hard drive I've been using as backup also was corrupted. Talk about panic! My photos! I have a third device I back up to (a portable SSD) but I've not been as diligent as I should have been. I intend to become obsessive about backups in the future.

    I love that the fellow came to the house, inquiring about your need for some extra groceries. It's not uncommon for people who could use assistance not asking for it because of pride. As I like to say, you never ask, you never know.

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    1. I didn't mean to imply there is no farmers market available. We have several in the area but with social distancing in place you have to line up (six feet apart) to get in because only so many are allowed in at one time. Once in, you're encouraged to get your stuff and go. It was always the highlight of my week as well but I went for the experience more than the produce and from what I've seen on local TV it's not going to be fun within pandemic rules of engagement and no lingering, no samples, no socializing.

      Thanks for the offer, but white chili recipes are not hard to come by. And it was sweet of the man and his wife to think of me. From the way he kept asking if I was sure I'm pretty sure he thought pride was an issue with me. Still, it shocked me to have him view me as needy. My house and yard sure doesn't look neglected.

      Hope you get your computer woes sorted out! I really don't trust any of them to keep your stuff safe. I use a commercial cloud service that backs my stuff automatically. $100 bucks a year but I never have to worry and when I did have a computer puke out, it was easy to get everything downloaded to a new one.

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  2. Sour cream can cover a variety of ills. I use it often if only because i like my chili and so on milder than anyone else. I am also not a fan of hummus! Some folks just assume if you are a senior living alone that you need help.

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    1. Sour cream was my first thought but I didn't have any in the house. I'll get some before defrozing that batch. I like milder chili too but this batch was SO bland in looks and taste.

      Yup, I've crossed the line to being a stereotype old woman in a bathrobe at noon who looks like she needs help. LOL

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  3. I did not see where you story was going and it was a good twist. Sometimes real life can be delightfully perverse. I miss going to the farmers' market around here this summer. Only about half the vendors are there this year and with Covid-19 lurking everywhere I want to be, I've decided to rely on grocery store produce. It's not bad, just not as fun to buy.

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    1. We're in the same boat. I never know where my stories are going when I start writing. I agree that grocery store produce is good, but the farmers market produce used to come with great memories of chance interactions with others, with great smells in the early morning air and going out for omelettes afterward.

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  4. I appreciate the Commodities Gentleman's persistence. Some people with nice homes and yards are going hungry out of pride. Keeping up appearances is more important. Some older people are staying home in fear, too, and running out of food with no one to ask for help.

    Beef up your bad chili by adding more meat, perhaps, to take away from the garbanzos. And add the green (or red) pepper. I like garbanzo beans, but not in chili. Those things never really soften up.

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    1. The guy clearly didn't believe me when I said I didn't need the help. But I can sure identify with not wanting to go out to buy food. In the spring I put it off as long as I could and often since I've gone without produce because I didn't want to go to the store.

      I Like garbanzo beans in four-bean cold salads, and now that you mention it, the texture of them not softening up in the chili is one factor I didn't like. I think adding another 1/2 of hamburger and a pepper and maybe sour cream would save that batch. Thanks.

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  5. Too bad about the chili! How about using it for a taco salad? Then you can pile your chili on lettuce and top with fresh tomatoes, cheese, sour cream or whatever toppings you like. Or you could use the chili as a base for minestrone - adding more vegetables, little pasta shells and beef broth. Nice soup for fall.
    I am looking forward to getting out more when it is safe again. I am losing the energy to get busy and just waste days on the computer and sitting reading books. Ugh! Feeling sad, altho, I am lucky to have a good life. Then I feel guilty for feeling sad!?!

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    1. What great ideas for saving my chili! I think the minestrone idea would work great.

      I know exactly what you mean about felling guilty for feeling sad. I get that way too often lately.

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  6. I will only imagine the taste of that chili. I would remove the remaining garbanzo beans and toss them. Then use the remaining sauce with added chili powder, more onions and green or red pepper as a sauce over pasta or burgers.

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    1. My gosh, that would take more patience that I'd have. There must be 100 garbanzo beans in the pot. One thing is for sure, I will do something with the batch.

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  7. Must say I was smiling through out. Your sense of humor made the commodities man fun. Is there anything in your chili that Levi shouldn't eat? I know Callie gets most of my "oops" meals. She is not at all picky and loves my cooking.
    Molesting the fruit hit home:) It is frustrating now not to be able to fondle the fruit and smell the cantaloupe. Now if you touch it you are supposed to buy it. Sigh.

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    1. Dogs aren't supposed to eat onions so that's out. He's always had a touchy stomach so I'd be afraid to give spicy stuff. I make mild chili but even so it's more spicy than I'd give him.

      I hate that rule of pandemic engagement where you're not supposed to read labels or touch produce unless you buy it. It takes all the fun out of shopping as I used to be love reading labels and comparing salt, sugar and just be nosy.

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  8. I am always horrified if someone comes to the door in late morning and I'm not dressed yet, so I feel your pain. LOL. But your quick excuse was perfect...I may use that if need be. And I would agree that there are people who live in perfect looking houses who don't want to ask for help - but the produce sounds tempting, doesn't it? It's the best time of year for fruit around here.

    As for bad pandemic behavior: we attended an outdoor wedding up north (the U.P.) this weekend and about froze. It was 64 degrees with a 23 mph wind off the Big Lake, and frankly, I was more worried about pneumonia than Covid. Ha! Most of us were masked (at least the people I was near) and we skipped the reception, as I feared the interactions of young people after a beer or two. All in all, it was a nice getaway and I was glad to drive back down to 75 degrees.

    My produce comes from a farm market (not THE farmers' market) that I've gone to for years. I was happy that our new house is actually closer to it than the old one, so I've been buying produce there, although I still buy quite a bit of it at the Big Box Grocer.

    I got the 65+ flu shot today and added the initial Shingrix for good measure. I figure if I'm going to have a sore arm, might as well have two. And I'm hoping for brownie points from my doctor who has been bugging me to get it for over a year.

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    1. I got both Shingrix shots last year but not the 65+flu shot yet this year. I used to know a person who had Shingles and it scared the crap out of me to see it up close and personal. I didn't know you could get the flu shot this early. I need to get on that.

      Going up north to the U.P. sounds like a great get-away, cold or not. And you were wise not to go to the reception for the reasons you stated.

      I'm looking forward to resuming going to a farmers market again next year. I'll miss the cider and donuts!

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  9. As I sit here in my robe in front of the screen door! At 11am (just out of shower and I love to air dry for a while.

    I was offered a weekly food box via WLLO as well. Food donated by restaurant suppliers whose business went way down with restaurants closed.

    Flu shot? October is recommended time (google it or ask your Dr) Flu hits hardest in January.

    I think we should design some smart looking all day lounging outfits. Comfy as pajamas, but stylish. Matching cape or throw. Comfort, comfort, comfort!

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    1. If you find some lounging outfits like that be sure to post them. I could use something like that once I move.

      I've always gotten my flu shots in October but last year they ran short and no one in MI had them again until January. Not sure I want one THIS early because they don't last all winter then, but I'm not going to wait until mid-October again either.

      I've been panic buying non-perishable foods, but wish someone would give me meat. I can't believe how high priced it's gotten! And paper towel is no longer available again, which makes me nervous about toilet paper. No sure it's ever going to even out in our life time.

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    2. Just FYI, the pharmacist (?) who gave me my flu shot said they usually get a smaller supply of the 65+ dose, and they ran out last year. I was concerned about how long it would be effective, and she said if I got it now it should last past the worst of the flu season. Just a thought...

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    3. Good to know. I'm going to ask my big box store/pharmacy/grocer the next time I go in.

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  10. Oh, Levi. You'd sell your heart to anyone who would give you a milk bone. You are such a man.
    I empathize about the farmer's market. We went this morning, but it isn't the same. It's zip in and zip out as fast as possible. I hope we get back to normal soon.
    I am certain that you do not look like a bag lady.

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    1. You've got Levi's number. I really think they put something additive in those milk bones.

      With my wild pandemic hair cut, you might loss a bet on me looking like a bag lady. LOL

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  11. The only suggestion I have for your chilli is to maybe turn it into a soup? I had to do that once with a delicious hamburger stew I made in the early days of my 1st marriage. Hubs came home and flew into a rage because “You should know that you don’t make a stew with hamburger!!!!”. So he had to forage for himself for supper and I turned the leftovers into a pretty damn amazing soup which I served to his sister and her husband the next day. And received many compliments for, as to its tastiness. Hard to believe I hung in there for 17 years with that man...
    Anywho, that’s all I got.

    Deb

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    1. Someone else suggested the same and that sounds really doable.

      You sure have a right to be proud of how you've rebuilt your life at 17 years with him and all you dealt with after he died. You sure earned the wonderful retirement nest you've found/fought for now.

      Your husband probably would have literally killed me because I've always been a notoriously bad cook. My husband, however, loved going out for our main meal which we did for years and not just because of the food. He was a people person.

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    2. Oh, hubs #1 is still very much alive! I rarely write about him because he is still my kids’ dad, for all his (many) faults. I mostly have written about my 2nd husband on ye olde blogge - he’s the one that died. And for all #2’s (many) faults, he always appreciated me, and thought my ex was the world’s biggest fool for losing me.

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  12. That was really sweet of the fellow, and it's neat that Levi had already told you the fellow was a good guy.

    I agree with you about the farmer's market. The ambiance is no longer the same.

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    1. He and his wife are very friendly. The used to have a dog and I think he misses having one. I was actually surprised he knew where I live. They never walk the neighborhood. I figure he must have seen me take Levi to the mailbox.

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  13. Oops, I’ve had people ring or call and ask if I am okay, if there’s anything they can do for me. Twice I’ve asked people for some simple shopping, just a couple of items each, but they brought the wrong stuff back which I was too embarrassed to say. No farmers’ market for me either, just groceries incl. fruit and veg from my supermarket.

    I really don’t like hummus, it’s so boring and even the worthiness of the stuff doesn’t make up for it’s tastelessness. I am like you, if I make a cooking blunder I eat the mess. Usually anyway, although I am getting a bit better at chucking the final portion. Life’s too short.

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    1. It would be hard to have someone bring you back something that you didn't really want from the grocery store. I wouldn't say anything either.And who knows, maybe it would be something I liked better than what I thought I wanted.

      Glad I'm not the only one who doesn't get why hummus is so populate.

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  14. I went to our Farmer's Market last Sunday for the first time all summer. It was sparsely attended and far fewer vendors. But we got some yummy peaches and plums which was the goal of the visit. But it just wasn't festive. Yes, only in/out at designated entrances to keep the numbers "inside" low, lines at the stands to check out, no touching the produce...it just made us want to get our peaches and leave. So we did -- about a 20 minute errand. :(

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    1. Such a sad thing to make peace with isn't it. Hopefully, next here the farmers will still be there.

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  15. I feel the same way as you about farmers markets this year. I am embarrassed to admit how far I have been driving to go to farms to get corn, tomatoes, nectarines. I grew up in farm country and I simply cannot eat corn from a grocery store! So I hop in my car and drive for about an hour back to my home town and gather up the delicious produce while supporting local farmers. It doesn't feel quite as wasteful because it's really the only place I go.

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    1. Road side produce stands really help the farmers and the consumers. Glad you found a way to get what you need and help the growers.

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  16. It is nice to be thought of, even if you don't need any help at this point.

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    1. Ya, many people are going out of their way to be kind in these difficult times.

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  17. Oh, Jean, funny story. You're kind to forego the commodities for someone more in need. Yet, it may be a solution for the sparsity of fruit and you wouldn't have to go out. Greeting the neighbor in your bathrobe reminds me of a story. I was telling my neighbor about the buck deer that were near my steps and not frightened away when I went outside. They obviously aren't afraid of anyone in a pink housecoat. A few days later her husband called asking for permission to hunt on my property. "And may I borrow the pink housecoat?" he asked!

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    1. Oh, that is funny about the pink robe. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Cumin. My favorite spice. I probably use way more than most would in my chili but I love it!

    What an experience. In retro, maybe you should have taken the food basket just for the fruit! Does your neighbor know you're moving into a fancy schmancy place soon? Probably not. Well, still very sweet to ask.

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    1. I think I have some cumin. With all the suggestions I've gotten I'm actually looking forward to trying to save my tasteless chili with the bad texture.

      I don't know the man very will but I did tell him when he stopped that I'm planning to move into a CCC next summer. It was sweet.

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  19. The COVID restrictions have dampened my enjoyment of many things 'out in the world'. I shop for two other ladies and when their lists are long, my heart sinks...just because I don't know how much longer this will go on and shopping day is exhausting. I think that's what's causing the sadness. Most retired people are insulated from the worst of it, so no self-pity there, but the not knowing!!??

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    1. I know what you mean. I used to love going to the grocery store, but now that I go less often my lists are longer and it's exhausting. I don't see this changing until next summer at the earliest. It's wearing us all out, the worry and not knowing.

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  20. I worked a Faith Based Food Ministry for over 20 Years as a Volunteer and many Seniors are too Proud to admit they may need some supplemental help with basics, or, perhaps aren't able to get out often to do necessary shopping for necessities. So that is likely why the Neighbor pressed a bit, just so that you could accept and still save face if it was awkward for you and perhaps you did have needs not met. Anyway, it's nice they have that in your area since so many are in need right now I'm sure... Families too. Our Food Banks have long lines now, people who previously never had to ask for assistance, it's very humbling or even humiliating for so many of them to need something as basic as food or shelter now. Farmer's Markets, I miss them so much too... most of ours are now suspended... and if they make a comeback I'm not sure in which incantation it might be? Did Levi at least get his Gratuitous Milk Bone from the visit?

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    1. No, he didn't bring a milk bone down to the visit. LOL Now that would have been something.

      Our local news has shown the long lines at food pantries. I'm glad they have them but it's so sad there is such a wide-spread need.

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    1. Not to eat together. I make scones every couple of months and put most of them in the freezer to take out one at a time. And chili I've been making since my twenties. It was one of my husband's favorite dishes so I made it often back in the day. Never made a bland batch before this one!

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  22. Your cooking sounds like mine. I am often missing something I really need so half the time I just blow off cooking and the other half of the time Buddy might get a big share - not Chilie though.

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    1. I truly don't have an interest in cooking and never did. Glad I'm not alone.

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