Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. 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. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Marketplace, Old Donkeys and Young Men

I’m quickly falling in love with selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace although I’m still struggling a bit with learning the ropes so that I’m not getting overrun with messages of offers. One thing I’ve learned is I need to be up and presentable for pickups before listing something because the serious Marketplace buyers want to come over right away, presumably to nudge the competition out of the running. But unfortunately it took me two weekends to figure out not to list two things within a few minutes of one another because all the action comes within the first two hours and having multiple messenger boxes open up across my screen stresses me out. One time I sent a reply meant for a person asking a question about a small showcase I had listed to a guy asking about a leather donkey footstool. (This was the second showcase I've sold on Facebook and it's the one that held my collection of spaghetti poodles.) This showcase went to the owner of an antique store who offered me twice what I had it listed for. Before she came out to pick it up I quickly staged my work table in the garage with some things I’d hoped she’d be interested taking.

But the thrill of the weekend was selling my prized donkey. I really didn’t want to sell him for peanuts or send him off to Goodwill and the high cost of shipping would have killed his sale on e-Bay not to mention he’s a little rough looking due to Levi having pulled his tail and ears off several times when he was a young. I got them back on but the tail was significantly shorter and thinner. The ad I wrote described my donkey this way: “This vintage leather, donkey footstool will add a sense of whimsy to any room. He measures 27” from butt to nose and is approximately 9” wide. His leather shows some stains and he has some age-related issues with his ears and butt but who doesn’t when you’re over 80 years old. (See photos #7, 8 & 9 of those flaws in his character.) Help me find a home for this much loved guy. He can't go to independent living with me.” I asked the young man who bought him if he collects or owns a donkey. Nope. He said he and his wife are slowly furnishing their home with Mid-Century, unique things. Bless those Mid-Century collectors! I see myself in them when I was hot and heavy over Early American primitives. I wanted to kiss him goodbye---the donkey, not the buyer---but I resisted the temptation. 

By the way, a collection of 6-7 of those primitives are going with me when I move...whale oil and other small lamps from so many centuries ago. But did I mention that I also sold a dozen cobalt blue wine bottles that were on my bottle tree in the back yard? The girl who bought them is using them with lights inside for her wedding this summer. That appealed to the old florist buried in my distant past. And, no, I didn't get those bottles from drinking that much wine. Some I fished out of the recycling dumpster and some I bought off e-Bay. Cobalt blue is a much sought-after color in the world of weddings according to my hairdresser.

For those of you who are concerned with strangers coming to the house. They don't actually come inside. I have a large overhead garage door that I open and I have pickup items just inside that door. One time I counted how many windows in the neighborhood have a direct view inside my garage and it's a LOT. I'm on a slight hill and my garage is a regular fishbowl. I also make sure I leave a note on my day planner and one other place about who is coming and why for the CSI team that might have to solve my murder. No one is completely anonymous on Facebook or e-Bay if someone has a crime to solve. Pickups are really no different than having a garage sale, except you're only sharing your address with the buyer and not the general population. 

On the art/e-Bay front, I sold a sculpture for a HUGE chunk of change and I have two similar pieces to list as soon. The buyer turned out to live in Michigan, too, and she has memories of going to the artist's studio as a kid to watch him work...she lived nearby his place and is eager to see my remaining two sculptures. Fingers crossed she's got good credit or a disposal income to buy them. This gal and the donkey guy gave me hope that the world isn't getting run over with minimalists and fan of Marie Kondo.

Next week I'm signed up to take a virtual tour of my future home---the buildings inside and out and the campus. And in April I'm signed up to do an in person tour and the son-I-wish-I-had and my niece both want to come with me. They are in full marketing mode to fill up the unsold units. There media ads are everywhere and every week starting in April they will be doing small group tours and will have a sample unit finished and furnished to view.  It's getting real, people. © 

The former home of my poodle collection.

The day Levi removed the donkey's tail and they still weren't speaking.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Waiting Room Hell

 

There’s a Chevy dealership 8-9 miles north from where I live, a quick hop on the expressway ramp within three minutes of my house and I’m there in no time at all. I’ve bought and sold three vehicles there over the past 18 years and I’ve gotten all our service work there as well. The place is in the middle nowhere but in between several small towns and their waiting room is usually full of friendly, country people who talk to each other---no heads buried in their phones. 

Until a few years ago, they had young female service manager who really knew her stuff. My husband adored her and no wonder. She looked like Pete Pan, talked diagnostics and was one of the few people in our world who actually understood how to interact with someone who lost their speech due to a stroke. One time I asked her how she got interested in working on cars and trucks and she said her mom was a single mom who drove cars that were always breaking down so she got books from the library to study what was wrong with them. By the time she was 10-12 she was changing spark plugs and air filters which eventually led her to getting a degree in automotive technology and repair. I’ve loved that service center. There's always a good back story to glean from someone.

I had to go up there this week for an oil change and tire rotation and when the newish service guy came out to the waiting room to get an estimate approved for a few other Mickey Mouse things that needed doing he said he’d measured the tread depth on my tires and I needed a new set to the tune of $667. I laughed and said, “Are you telling me I came in here for an oil change and you want me to leave with a new set of tires?” “Pretty much,” he answered. “How long is all this going to take?” I asked him. I had another appointment to get to so I had him schedule the tires for another day. I think it shocked him with how easy his sales pitch went but what he didn’t know is that getting new tires was on my list of things to do before I move. My money will be much tighter afterward and I figure they’ll be the last tires I’ll ever have to buy. He also didn’t know that back in my heydays I questioned the depth of tire treads on some of the trucks my husband owned so often that he bought me my very own tread depth checker. I kept it on my key chained and with nine pickup trucks, 3 front-end loaders, a street sweeper and a Corvette it became a joke that whenever we’d be near one of those vehicles I’d be checking out the tires. The joke was on me, though, because I officially became the person who got sent down to the tire place to wait when tires needed replacing.

I’m back from my walk down Memory Lane and let me tell you my recent wait at the dealership service center was not the pleasant experience I usual have in the place. It started out with me and another woman in the room but soon after I sat down a man showed up and announced that he wasn’t going to sit by me because I was wearing a mask and he didn’t believe in them. They are still state-mandated in my state but I didn’t say a word. I just got my Kindle out, pretending I didn’t hear what he said. The other woman, however said, "You're talking my language."

That began my hour spent in Conversation Hell as the two of them talked hardcore Trumpism---the “stolen” election and how he'll be back in the White House, illegal immigrants, how Black Lives Matter caused more violence than "what happened at the capital", the recent mass shootings and how the Democrats are staging them to take their guns away. There wasn’t a topic/conspiracy they didn’t cover. They are both anti-vaccines and she said, "only old people die from the virus anyway." Hello! I thought, I'm old and I can hear you over the six feet that separates our chairs! He told the woman his brother's whole family is sick with "they say its Covid" but he thought it was the common flu and the doctors were lying because "they get $2,000 every time they write that on a medical chart." 'They' are over-achievers these 'they' people, I was thinking. 'They' also put illegal immigrants up in $100 a night hotel rooms. I just kept silent, no way was I wadding in their dirty pool. Even when the guy said he has a hidden bunker with over 3,000 rounds of ammo, 28 guns and enough food to last him two months for the civil war that’s coming, I just sat there re-reading the same page over and over again on my Kindle. Not saying a word, not making eye contact.

After the woman left the man says to me, “I hope we didn’t bother you” and I didn’t even lower my Kindle when I replied, “Nothing I haven’t heard before and I don’t need to hear it again.” “Sorry,” he replies. Finally I looked at him, really looked into his eyes and said in a cheerful voice I didn't feel inside, “No need to apologize it’s a free country. You get to say whatever you want and I get to disagree with every single thing you just said in here.” The look on his face was almost funny, like the proverbial, frozen-faced deer caught in your headlights. He got up and without another word he wandered into the new car showroom. Not man enough to be in the presence of a 'they' person I presumed.

As I was driving home I knew I shouldn’t have said what I said. People as delusional as Mr. Hidden Bunker could have turned violent and he was carrying a handgun. He was a regular gold mine of information---where he lived, his name, where he worked, how much money he has hidden on his property because 'they' are going to close all the banks, you know. If I have been an FBI agent, that guy would have gone on 'watch list' and as much as he talked, I'll bet he's already on one. When I go back for the tires I hope I'll be waiting with nicer people. It's the last time I'll be going there because I'll have to find something closer for car service after I move. The last-time-I-be-doing-this experiences are adding up fast. ©

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

My Super-Doper Ordinary Day

My life is both speeding up too fast while still moving too slowly. How can both of those things be true, you ask? You can ask from here to Kingdom Come but I’m not sure I know how to explain what is going on in my head. The pandemic has put all our lives on hold, restricting where we go, who we can see, what we can do. Yet we still keep getting older by the day. We still have to pay our bills and we still have to get up in the morning to start our days. That latter thing---get up in the morning---is something I didn’t want to do today. But Mother Nature painted a wicked grin on her face and kept calling me. I tried to ignore her and snuggle back into my dream but that only worked for so long. I flipped her the bird and did her bidding, my eyes barely open.

By the way, I’ve been using the phrase “Kingdom Come” my entire life and just bothered to google its meaning for the first time and now I’m confused. Something about the Lord’s Prayer, salvation, DC comic books and the Justice League? Since I don’t read comic books and never did even as a kid, one can only assume I'm using ‘Kingdom Come’ as an idiom for eternity, the next world, the hereafter, the end of time---take your pick. But my curiosity was peaked about the comic book. The blurb for the comic Kingdom Come at Amazon reads, “Set at the dawn of the 21st century in a world spinning out of control, Kingdom Come is a riveting, alternate reality story pitting the old guard--Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others--against a new, uncompromising generation of heroes in a war that will determine the future of the planet.” 84% of those who reviewed the comic book gave it five stars and only 1% gave it one star. 84% is pretty high. The Bible only has a 79% on the high end and 3% on the low. I only read books with at least 75% of the reviewers dishing out a 5 star rating. I may read a lot of smut but a girl’s gotta have some standards when reading kissy-face books.

Back on topic if I can remember what that was…oh, ya, my super-duper ordinary day. The second thing I did this morning after a trip to the bathroom is what I do second every morning. I hopped on the scales which often sets my mood for the entire day as I compare my morning weight to what it was just before I went to bed. Yes, I’m one of those females who is obsessed with how those two numbers can vary from three to seven pounds. I like water. I drink a lot of it and it comes back out during the night plus supposedly the moon phases also effects overnight weight loses. Thank goodness I still get up for those "comes back out" events. Somewhere along the pandemic I’ve gotten into a pattern of waking up at 7:30 and I hate getting up that early or at least that’s what I tell myself as my sleepy brain tries to catch up with my body as I’m shuffling towards the kitchen to start my four cup coffee pot. (They call it a four cup pot but it's really only two cups unless you're using a little girl's tea party set with tin cups.) Everything is better once I’ve had my Starbucks Breakfast Blend with Italian Sweet Crème.

Today I had a mission to accomplish. I was scheduled to get my second Covid-19 vaccine---not a very ordinary thing to do but I was having trouble naming this post, so just go with it, okay? After getting the vaccine I visited a Petco where the internet said I could buy live canaries and finches. Last summer I bought myself an Audubon Bird Call and I often sat on my deck in the late afternoon, teaching myself how to use it. When I decided to explore the idea of replace Levi my dearly departed schnauzer with a canary I looked for my bird call and I took it as a sign that I hadn’t downsized it out of my life. Petco was disappointing, though. They only had a couple dozen parakeets and one canary and she was the center in a parakeet sandwich the whole time I was there, never woke up from her nap so we could make eye contact. A couple of summers ago I went to a place that had a walk-in bird aviary with hundreds of finches, canaries and budgies inside. You could buy sticks that were covered in bird seeds and you’d hold the stick out so the feathered creatures could line up on your arm to politely take their turn grabbing a seed then taking off so the next guy in line could grab a snack. I got it into my head that Petco would be like that---have an aviary I could walk into and have a bird pick me instead of the other way around. Ya, I know. It's Petco and I should have known better.

I am still open to the idea of getting a canary. I’ve done my homework and will now let it simmer on the back burner over the summer. My city does have another place to buy birds---that's all they sell---plus everything that goes with them. It's been around since I was a kid. Heck, I went past the place twice a day for ten years when I was working on the south end. When I'm in a serious buying mode, I'll bite the bullet to drive the dreaded S-Curve through town to get there. In the meantime, I don't want to tempt myself too much until I'm 110% sure I'm ready to close the door on getting another dog. I miss Levi and reminders are still popping up when I least expect them. I put on a spring jacket today, for example, and found baggies in the pocket I used when we went on walks---things like that are like pulling a Band-aide off a wound that is still trying to heal. ©

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Pet Birds and Apple Pie

My mom had parakeets when I was a kid. If my memory isn’t playing tricks on me she had them trained to do amazing things. Well, maybe not amazing but I do know she could make a sound with her tongue and they’d fly across the room to land on her outstretched finger. Mom was a tee drinker and I have a couple of photos of her with a tea cup in her hand and a bird or two perched on the edge of the cup. It’s a wonder she didn’t get sick with salmonella bacteria drinking from a cup that bird feet had been walking around. Maybe she did and it got blamed on handling raw chicken.

Why am I trying so hard to remember Petie the Parakeet and his side-kick whatever her name was? Because it dawned on me that in my Post-Levi-the-Mighty-Schnauzer era I should explore other options for a pet besides dogs. Anything that is living, trainable and depends on me might be enough to make me feel needed, and if some other kind of animal has a shorter life span and a lower price tag than a puppy all the better. I allergic to cats, rabbits and horses so those are out of the running. I’m not fond of Guinea pigs, gerbils or ferrets. Pet rats or snakes would have me boarding up the windows and running away from home. I had tropical fish at one point in my life and all the water bubbling in the tank at my age would have me peeing too often.

Narrowing my search down I landed on Domestic Canaries and Zebra Finches and what it takes to keep them as pets. Both are said to wake you up by singing an ode to the sun and if that got too annoying I could just fry them up for dinner. JUST KIDDING! Canaries have been bred in captivity and caged since the 17th century so if there’s a protest group out there wanting to free all the breeders’ birds they should know that pet store birds are not the same as wild birds and probably couldn’t fend for themselves in the great outdoors. Or am I just buying into the bird breeders’ publicity campaigns? Either way, they have a lot of positives to recommend them for a senior companion. They supposedly are curious about what their humans are doing, smart, will sing back and forth to the birds outside your window, can be left alone for two days if you want a weekend get-away, and they can sit outside with you on your deck during nice weather. “Hi, neighbor! Whatcha got in the cage?” 

Another selling point---at least for me---is that the only vet in town who treats sick birds is located close by where I’ll be moving. Before Levi died I worried about moving so far away from the dog and cat ER here in town. And just to add another point on my list in favor of getting a canary is the fact that my grandfather was a coal miner during an era when they actually used them to test the quality of the air down there. I could give one of their descendants a better life than working in a coal mine. There's that screwball logic of mine again.

Another reason to consider a bird is the canaries only cost $25 to $200. Zebra Finches are $25 to $100. Cages aren’t a huge investment either, but when I looked at used cages on Facebook Market Place---not that I'd buy a used cage and maybe bring a bird virus home along with it---I was shocked at how many were listed. Does that mean I’m not the only one who gets excited by their birds-as-pets research then they lost interest down the road and have used that fry-them-up-for-dinner option? AGAIN, just kidding! Both these species of birds only live five to seven years, sometimes ten. Heck, by then I’d probably forget to feed whatever kind of pet I end up with which makes it too bad these birds can’t "sing" like a tomcat when its hungry or horny. A parrot could be taught to cry like a cat for its food but I’m grossed out every time I see someone walking around with a parrot on their shoulder and bird diarrhea running down the back of their shirt. I see them often in the summer which---come to think about it---makes me wonder if I’m really only seeing one person who happens to travel in the same radius as I do, whose face I couldn’t pick out in a lineup because I’m so focused on that poopy shoulder. And parrots are creepy if you look them in the eye!

Anyway, to wrap this up I invested a whole day studying pet bird care and training and I am/was still open to the idea until I googled how to clean a birdcage and found out the best way is to use bleach on them once a week. Bummer! I'm highly allergic to bleach. When I get my second Covid-19 vaccine, I'll be near a store that sells live birds so I'll stop by, ask a few questions, see if I can smell some of the commercial cage cleaning sprays. Over this past few days I've talked myself into a canary and depending on what I learn at the bird store I may have talk myself back out of the idea. Ya, if you're still reading this post and aren't fed up with my pet dilemma by now you can expect the topic might pop up again as I work through trying to fill the silence Levi's death left behind in the house.


New Topic: I baked my first apple pie since I helped my mom back before my teens. It wasn’t exactly a pie because I donated my pie tins to Goodwill thinking I’d never use them, but if I’m anything I’m good at research so I consulted Mr. Google to learn how to make a pie without a pan. Tip for the day: a cookie sheet and parchment paper. The only reason why I attempted this feat of Womanhood is because last fall a lady who lives down the block and around the corner walked to my house to give me a bag of fresh picked apples. I don’t like raw apples but it seemed rude to turn them down after she’d carried the heavy bag all that way to my house. I’m not replacing things in my pantry when I run out because of my upcoming move so in my pie I substituted almond flavoring for vanilla, and Truvia for real sugar. (I’ll be using that bag of Truvia for the rest of my life but it was the only "sugar" available back when the pandemic started.) My end product looked more like strudel, but it taste great and held together in slices better than a lot of pies at potlucks. I never want to have that many apples in the house again, though. It was too much pressure. I can't throw food away, the waste would make me feel too guilty. But they kept reminding me of how often I had to sit at the dinner table until bedtime when I didn't want to eat what my mom was serving---most notably, liver night once a week. One pie and a batch of apple sauce cured my apple problem. It's spring, they had to go! ©

 

 

 

Male American Singing Canaries are bred for their singing abilities and are happy to live as low maintenance bachelors. You can't put two males together or they fight and if you put a male and female together they make babies easily. Two females will sing but not make up long songs like the males.
According to what I've read this little guy is a great starter bird but I don't like the implication of the term 'starter bird.' I've heard of old ladies who keep adding cats to their households. Are there old ladies who keep adding birds to their home? Could I become the Bird Lady in Building One?