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, May 29, 2021

Hometown Shopping Adventures

 

For more months than I’d be willing to admit---okay, you dragged it out of me. It's been over a year---I’ve been online shopping for cushions for my grandfather’s wicker settee and chair. And just so you'll know that I'm not total indecisive I settled on a fabric called Fretwork Pewter from Sunbrella early on in the process. That was the easy part. I wanted a light and airy look that would go well with whatever colorful or campy throw pillows or gaudy area rug I could come up with, but finding a company who sold the size I needed was more complicated. I felt like Goldilocks with her bowls of porridge. Some cushions were too long, some too short, some were the right length but not the right width. It was enough to put me on the Crazy Train with nothing but a tooth brush, a baby-powder scented stick of deodorant and a couple of Wet Ones.

Recently I got depressed at the hunt and briefly considered going the route most people would take---ditch that settee idea and order some normal furniture for my future living room. (I can’t use my current sofa and side chair because they are scaled for a space twice as big as I’m moving into and they’re navy blue. Ya, I know. What was I thinking back at the turn of the century where they were new? Navy blue with gray carpeting and walls might appeal to Dallas Cowboys fans, but I’d stick my fingers down my throat if I ever had to host a game night party.)

Fretwork Pewter

Then it hit me that I live in a town of over a million people. Surely someone local must have cushions. I started at a place that sells everything you could ever want for your back yard. You want a fancy-schmancy outdoor kitchen or a play palace for your kids? They’ve got them. You want a grill that costs more than your mortgage payment or a gazillion piece, outdoor furniture grouping? They’ve got them by the dozens. They also advertise that they sell replacement cushions. So off I went armed with photographs and the patterns I made for the size cushions I need but the first question the sales girl asked was, “What brand is the settee?” “It was made in the 1920s,” I answered, “If it had a brand stamped on it back then its long gone now.” She measured my patterns and she really tried to find cushions in her catalogs of cushions that would fit. Ohmygod, and did she have a LOT of catalogs---a one foot thick pile! Finally she said, “If you want to do that settee justice you should have custom-made cushions.” And she sent me to a place she said could do the job. I thanked her profusely and off I went to a little hole-in-wall business seven minutes from where I live. Online I'd traveled from coast to coast looking in vain for the right bowl of porridge when I should have been looked under my nose.

The cushion guy is my new best friend. It’s going to cost me three times what ready-made, ill-fitting cushions would cost but I’ll be getting very firm and very thick core foam that will make the wicker far more comfortable than the cushions I’m using now or could order online and get this, he’s going to come over to the house to do a “dry fit” part way through the process. That takes the fear out of spending so much money and having them turning out too big or too small. We just have to get past the hurdle of him getting the fabric I picked and if he can’t get it, I’ll have to go back and wade through his books of sample fabrics. I’ll only have to wait five weeks for the cushions to be made. Real living room furniture now is taking four to five months if you don’t buy off the showroom floor. 

Custom cushions really are expensive but compared to buying a new sofa and chair I’ll be saving a huge chunk of change. And why not? I'm not a living room kind of person. Unless I have company---which is rare since entertaining people freaks me out---I'm always in my computer chair or dinking around with a craft project. The living room is like fly-over-land. I walk through it to get to other rooms. Been that way my entire adult life and I'm not kidding about my ineptness at entertaining. I'm as awkward as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. He at least will offer a hot beverage on occasion, I forget even that basic courtesy from Hospitality101.

After the online experience I had with bistro set I doubled down on finding a computer desk locally. I went to a couple of stores, ending at the Amish Oak place where I’ve bought five pieces over the years and I was armed with a drawing of a what I wanted in a desk. By now, some Amish carpenter has my order on his 19th century, orders-in spindle. My desk will has a pull-out work surface for left-handers, a keyboard tray and a computer tower cubby behind a door. It will be small---only 48” wide by 24”---but its finish will match the other antique, golden oak stain I already have on furniture I'm keeping and it will have mission style details. Its back will be finished, too, giving me the option to use it in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows in my living room instead of in my tiny den space which would turn my fly-over living room into a destination point. This custom order won’t come in until mid-October which works out perfect for my move-in date of October 5th.

I don’t want to admit what that desk is costing me but all the other small desks I’ve been finding aren’t made with real wood and they won’t last five years before they get saggy and I plan on living another ten years. So I’m looking at it like my Amish desk will cost me $245 a year and with all the time I spend sitting in front of my large monitor and curved keyboard, I’ll get my money’s worth. Did you see what I just did there? Yup, I’m a master at justifying what some might think is foolish spending. Desks with computer trays and monitor cubbyholes are going the way of buggy whips in this age of laptops and tablets.  

Next up I need to order the La-Z-Boy I’ve had my eye. Last time I was out to the store they said it’s taking five months to get them in. I just have to wait on the settee fabric first, to make sure I don’t have to pick something difference to coordinate with the chair. This is the fun part of moving. All the planning, all the work, all the pandemic enhanced stress is finally resolving and things are coming together. Oh, and did I mention that my eye doctor just pronounced that my cataracts are "ripe" and they need to be removed? I am officially not legal to drive at night, he said. Surgeries will get scheduled for mid and late October...just in time for me to see colors again when I'm sitting in front of my painting easel for the first time in years. ©

 

NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBER'S SIGN-UP: Those of us who use the Bloggers platform got a notice that in July Feedburner will no longer be able to give notification to our readers who want to follow us by email. In my right hand column you'll see a new sign-up box that is run by Mailchimp and it was set up by Linda at My Fairy Blog Mother. There are lots of directions online on how to do it yourself but I didn't have the time to mess with learning how to migrate my email subscription list to another service thus I hired Linda. Jeanie at 'The Marmelade Gypsy' wrote a post about the extensive work Linda did for her blog that you can find here. Jeanie is telling her readers to look in their spam folders for an email from Mailchimp if they haven't received notice after signing up. If you find a notice there, be sure to mark it 'not spam.'

If you didn't get a notification with a new, header that looks like the sign-up box to the right and one isn't in your spam folder, please fill out the new form to get my posts delivered to your email box. (I wish it was smaller but beggars can't be choosers.) During the transfer nearly 500 subscribers got dumped for looking like bots or spammers and I'm guessing some 'good ones' could have gotten purged accidentally in that batch? You can also follow with the new Bloggers link added to the side bar.

33 comments:

  1. So exciting that things are coming together and you're getting some lovely Custom pieces that will be perfect. I am a fan of Investing in Custom, it always pays off versus buying anything mass produced and ordinary, you will not regret the splurge at all. To get exactly what I want I'll pony up, which a lot of people who know me think is stark contradiction to how frugal I am about so many things. Some things I just won't compromise on the quality of and getting exactly what I envision. We use our Living Rooms a lot, but in every Home there have been those Spaces rarely used and almost a waste of Space... at the McManse there were too many of those so it seemed silly to keep a Home where so much of it was never used. I'd say the entire Upstairs there was pointless, tho' Fabulous... this Home is probably most functional of any we've owned, there is virtually no Space going unused in the Main House. So, I guess that means we found the Ideal Home for us and the right amount of Living Space finally. *LOL* The Historic Home had 2.5 Kitchens and so the huge Kitchen and Kitchenette was really not used much... nor was one of the 3 Bathrooms in the Main House. When you think about what Spaces are most used it can be interesting. My most used Space is always where ever I end up putting the Computer... natch. *winks*

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    1. Since living here my husband and the dog used the living room but we didn't like watching the same things on TV and I was always busy doing other things. In my other house I had my office where I took appointments with my brides/clients in a room across from my living room--both just inside the front door---so I had to keep the living room really clean thus we never used it. Back then my husband spent most of his time working or in his garage.

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  2. Nice to see the progress you have been making! When we moved last year, I had a piece of fabric I had hauled around with me for years from my days as a textile rep. Our new home had a perfect spot for a cushion, and I too found a custom cushion guy. He was SO worth it...I love the cushion and it's perfect in its entry way bench spot. I hope you love yours as much as I love ours. :)

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    1. How nice that you had a place for a cushion that really speaks to you! I had to give up a piece of fabric I'd been hauling around since the '60s that just didn't work color-wise. Funny how you can get attached to something like that.

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  3. You will love how colors look when your cataract surgery is done. I’m also guessing you are going to be very happy with your new computer desk and cushions. Things are really moving along positively.

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    1. I've been dreading getting cataract surgery because its something I need to ask for help with...driving to the surgery center and one appointment after which is really four favors because they don't do both eyes at the same time. But I'm looking forward to seeing colors again. It's one of the reasons I haven't taken up painting again after my husband died. But asking for help will be easier from my new location.

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  4. That furniture will look great with the new custom cushions. When you were describing your cushion search quest, I thought custom might work. Glad it is turning out!
    You will love your vision after cataract surgery. I remember my Mom was amazed afterwards and she recovered so quickly!

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    1. I don't know why I didn't think of custom cushions before. My mom and dad used to get them made for their motor home.

      I've seen art created by artists before and after cataract surgery and it depressed me for starting to paint again and I'm sure a lot of the older women who put make up on that looks like clown make-up have cataracts influencing their heavy handedness. The eye doctor would do the surgery right away but I'm too one tracked to fit in on my master plan right now.

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  5. I like your sign-up widget and glad it worked well with Linda. I'm glad you mentioned/recognized that having the custom covers was much less expensive than buying new furniture because I was going to remind you of that if need be. No need! It will be beautiful. (I know what you mean about navy. My sofa is navy. I wish it wasn't.)

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    1. Navy must have been a 'thing' back when we were shopping. LOL

      Linda made quick work out of it when it would have taken a a good long time for the learning curve to do it myself, although I think I could have after ringing my hands and stewing about it for a week of so.

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  6. I was going to suggest custom cushions but glad you found them yourself. The price would chase me off but glad you are OK with it.
    Everyone I know who has had the cataract surgery has been amazed. They didn't realize how much their vision had slipped.

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    1. I'm hoping I'll be able to see the print on my computer screen and devices better. Most of the fonts are so lacking in contrast to the background that I really strain to read. And white on black backgrounds drive me crazy if the font sizes isn't jacked way up.

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  7. It's wonderful that you have your grandfather's settee. Of all the things I've sold/given away in the past, I truly regret getting rid of a wicker settee (similar to yours) and two old rattan chairs (in mint condition). You were wise to hold onto yours! Besides, I've been looking at furniture for our new place, and it's very hard to find decent quality. I've actually decided to keep some of our older stuff. As for custom ordering your desk, don't feel a bit of guilt. You know exactly what you want and I have a feeling you will love the custom built one. This lousy pandemic has thrown everything off kilter. I'm thankful we didn't go through with building a new retirement home, but we're spending more to remodel a kitchen than we spent on our first home, 33 years ago. I sure enjoy reading about your experiences, Jean. Thanks for taking all of us along!

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    1. Major life decisions like where to retire and live are so hard, made harder by the pandemic. I'm glad you're happy with your idea to stay put. Make sure you put in some aging in place features while you're remodeling...a few wide doorways to key rooms, eliminate steps for at least one outside door, bathroom with grab bars and a high toilet. When you need that stuff you may not have the time or ability to do them.

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    2. I misspoke. We're still moving, but we're fixing up our second home (a little brick ranch style on one level), and selling our main home (our farm) to family. We'd actually thought about living in the little brick house while building a new retirement home near there. The pandemic changed that, though. We have no desire to spend what it would take to build a new home during these times. We're just going to fix up that little brick house and enjoy life! Thanks for the suggestions to add grab bars while we have carpenters on site. I'm definitely gonna do that!

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    3. That really sounds nice to sell the family farm to family but still be able to visit and see the changes new blood will put into the place. My niece bought our family cottage and it's so nice to still see and enjoy it from time to time like this holiday weekend. I can hardly wait.

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    4. Hope you have a great Memorial Day, Jean!!

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  8. I was happyhappy when I saw your mention of Sunbrella. That's one fine fabric, and it works up well even for things a little more complicated than cushions. I have a woman here I recommend when people need new boat cushions, and she does excellent work. As a matter of fact, I had her make a Sunbrella slipcover for my mom's favorite chair years ago. I have the chair now, and the fabric looks as good as it did ten years ago. If you end up with Sunbrella, you'll like it.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. I got a sample of it in the mail and it sure looks like it would hold up well. I had a small chair recovered about 15 years ago and now it's so sun-faded that it looks 100 years old. So I knew I had to pay more attention, this time, to the quality and not just the color.

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  9. Wow. You are one smart cookie, trimming all the precious detritus down until you can expand with decorating the jewels you have kept. I have visited once in a while but haven't been able to bear all your posts about downsizing. I've been doing the same for 4 years for the sake of my age-in-place remodel and it's painful. It's like slow motion death! I'm so sentimental about every item's links to heartfelt memories. And loathe to admit when I've made an investment in an exercise machine I trusted would motivate me to recapture youth. While you were selling off items during the pandemic I was thanking my lucky stars that downsizing was put on hold by the CDC to protect me from contracting a disease that would be the big goodbye. Of course I don't sell via eBay. Anyway, now that we're through this pandemic inflection point we can break out the hope! I love your settee and chair and your methodical plans to get the exactly the right cushions in the right fabric. Yes, forward we go!!!

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    1. Downsizing IS painful, especially for widows I think. I call it living your life in reverse because everything you pick up to consider downsizing brings up a memory. It's tough letting go but they you get to point where your vision takes over and it gets easier and fun.

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  10. Shopping online can be stressful as it can be relaxing

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    1. boy, isn't that the truth. Usually, I like it because I've never really enjoyed shopping in brick and mortar stories either.

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  11. Sounds like you are getting all the important things just your way. And why not!?? You can even use rooms for different things, not a living room if you don't entertain! While married, we tried all four bedrooms until we chose the one that worked best for us (put exercise equipment in master suite and we slept in tiny guest room). We change the small dining room into an office and made the family room into huge dining area (we entertained a lot) and 1/4 of the room into a TV nook. HAVE fun and do what you want!!!

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    1. Oh, I love what you did to rearrange the purpose of your rooms. Makes sense. I've often thought I'd like to make the bedroom function two purposes. It's a lot of real estate for just sleeping.

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  12. I think you made wise choices about the furniture. After all the work you've been doing it's important to love your new home.

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    1. It is, isn't it. As we age we spend more and more time in our houses. I've always been a visual person.

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  13. If you can't spend your money on what you know you'll love and appreciate, then what good is it? I'd say you made some wise choices.

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    1. So true. I don't spend money on clothing and shoes and fancy beauty products so it's all a matter of where our priorities are.

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  14. I'm happy to hear you found someone who can make the cushions for you. Nothing like getting exactly what you want.

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    1. Yes, and it's not like I haven't been making money for along time selling off stuff. If I was spending money I didn't have that would be a different story.

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  15. I'm glad your treating yourself to the custom-made cushions. You deserve it!

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    1. This even turned into a pandemic influenced saga because the fabric I picked out was on back order until September. But turned out good in the end...which I'll explain in my next blog post.

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