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. Jean

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Report from House Listing City


The papers are signed. The Plan is in place. The listing is due to go live the 8th of July provided the-son-I-wish-I-had and I can get through our job lists in time. So much to do. If all goes well Tim’s part will be done in two days of work. He says. I say three. Got the window cleaning and house cleaning scheduled for the 5th of July and photographs the next day. I’ll be walking around in circles all next week trying to get my part done. Paint a bench on my front patio. Purge some more stuff in my closet. Find some papers for the realtor including a death certification for my husband. I’d already registered one with the county tax office but they didn’t take his name off the registered deed. I guess that’s not uncommon with government offices to not follow through with stuff like that so you can't close without that certificate at the closing.

We’ll accept offers until the 15th then look them over all at once. Randy, my trusty realtor---let's hope he is---thinks we’ll get multi offers with more than a few good ones. He says there's absolutely no houses in my price range in my school district for sale and that’s a major draw because I live in a School of Choice Zone between two very desirable schools. He’s also going to accent the wheelchair accessible features of the place, the 830 square feet garage and the privacy of my backyard with its nature strip which is in full bloom right now with orange lilies, Queen Ann’s Lace and yellow and hot pink flowers I’ve forgotten the names of.

My roll top desk was picked up while the realtor was here to hash out details of what I need to do and not do. That was kind of hairy, though, because the lady picking up the desk had a vehicle that wasn’t big enough and she came all the way from Maryland. The half hour pick up turned into an all afternoon deal because they had to go rent a small van and she and her partner will be driving back home separately, each taking half a desk with them. It was a hold-my-breath moment, hoping she wouldn’t ask me to cancel the e-Bay sale, return her money and leave my desk standing in parts. Hauling large object home from out-of-state was something my husband did on our vacations so I had some sympathy for the situation even though it was their own fault. But she was motivated to get the desk home and my bank account thanked her. And if she's like my husband was she'll turn the Tale of Desk Pick Up into a great story that will have everyone laughing and make her love it all the more.

Randy doesn’t believe a house needs to be so sterile that you can’t have things like my wind-chimes up or a Puff tissue box or toaster sitting on a counter top. He also doesn’t play games with bringing in rented furniture to stage a place. My house won’t be featured on a HGTV make-over show on how to make money for a staging company. And I can buy my own cinnamon bun scented candle if I want the place to smell like I just baked bread, thank you very much. Houses are selling in my area in 8 to 10 days plus he thinks the seller’s market will hold until the end of September. When banks can do foreclosures again---which they haven't been able to do because of Covid---it will be a game changer. Even if the happens soon, I should be okay because of how long the foreclosure process will take before a glut of houses will get dumped on the market all at once. Real estate boards are watching for that trigger switch to happen which can come any day now.

The number of things Randy wants Tim and I to add to our To Do List was short. But one of them took me nearly two hours to figure out where I put the instructions for adding a code to my front door key pad. I don’t have a tradition door nobs to put a lock box on. It was either add a code or buy a new deadbolt. I thought I’d put the instructions in a box I set up for the new owners. Not finding it there, I downloaded the manual online but my new computer wasn’t acquainted with my printer yet so I had to dink around with introducing the oldest machine in the house to the newest machine. And wouldn’t you know it, my old brain kicked in after all that and I remembered to look in the place I’d kept those instructions for the past decade and there it was. Oh, yes, I've got it all together. All my pickles are in the jar, all my goldfish are still swimming in their tank. If you believe all that, I have an ocean front cottage to sell you in North Dakota where the buffalo roam the sandy beach. ©

Edit to add: Foreclosures have started. And I was right about Tim. He's working his third and final day as this goes live on Wednesday---vacuuming cobwebs in the basement. I'll have to go to recycling and Goodwill on Friday but otherwise I'm ready except for the window cleaners and house cleaners on Monday while I dusting furniture.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Computer Woes Part Two


I’m sitting here typing on my new/used laptop computer that I got from one of the computer repair shops in a local chain. As you may recall I took an instant dislike to the guy running the place based on the only two facts I knew about him. 1) He reminded me of my uncle who followed the good weather across the United States selling Bibles, and 2) he advertised his relationship with God on an 8”x11” sign on his counter top. As I said in my other post about the sign, it’s not that unusual where I live so chose to ignore my first impression and go back in to see what he had to offer to help me get back my documents and files in the quickest way possible, since my old tower computer was fried. I’d already researched new computers online and the ones I wanted came with several months wait time before delivery, not something I could do while in the process of moving.  

The second time I was in his shop the sign was gone and another in its places that read: “My purpose is to bring glory to God.” Okay, I thought, it’s time to give this guy a backstory. And the backstory I gave him was one of a 30 something guy with no family except for the cute little shop dog he had who greeted new arrivals, a guy who was overcoming a substance abuse problem and he needed his daily God devotions as much as he needed oxygen to breathe to keep himself on track. Of course could have asked him what his story was over the course of the hour plus we spent together but I liked the fake one I gave him and I didn't want to give him an opening to evangelize. I've been living in the City of Churches all my life and know how to avoid the dark alleys. 

What I did learn is the chain bids on corporate computers whose leases are running out and then they customize them for people like me. I ended up with a 3 month old HP 15” laptop that sells online for $1,700 and I paid $450. (For that price I figure if I don’t like it I can get another after I move and keep this one as a backup. My old backup laptop is living on borrowed time and had no room for my lost files.) And that $450 price includes a one year warranty and all my recovered files and photos plus anti-virus software, a free replacement for Office that works with my Word files and he gave me demonstrations on how to access just about everything including some maintenance software and other bells and whistles I’ve never had before.

If he didn’t look so much like my uncle I might have warmed up to him, But we both stayed in total business mode although he did try to make a joke about one of the answers to a challenge question we needed to get one of my programs working again. I could tell humor was not a tool in his box of human relationships but I laughed anyway. I did like the fact that he didn’t talk down to me or too far over my head the way some of the sales people at places like Best Buys have been known to do to seniors.

He gave me back my old hard drive without me asking for it and he got a little upset when I said I was going to hit it with a hammer and drop if off at tech recycling. “No, no!” he said, “Keep it forever because if you need to recover your photos and files again I can get them off that hard drive!” When he was showing me my restored files and when he was asking about some apps he didn’t recognize it came out that I have a few book drafts and he even saw the cover of one of the books I self-published. I think he was impressed. “You have a lot of word documents compared to most people,” he remarked. He also said I was smart for being old school about keeping my passwords as on paper. He says so many people come in there with fried computers and many times they can't get their passwords back.

All and all, if I had been a blind person buying this computer where I did, I could be totally okay with the experience, the price, the computer and my decision to take the quickest route to get my online life back in working order again. Except for his signs he didn’t bring God in an of our conversations which I respect and appreciated but I still can’t get past the feeling that I just bought a computer from an off-spring of my uncle's. I don't know how good my uncle was about keeping it in his pants but if Computer Guy  turned up on my 23 and Me account as a possible relative I would not be surprised. ©

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Remind me, Who's Bright Idea was it to Move?

Remember the under the counter light fixture that fell in the middle of the night? I no more than got that one put back up when a few days later the second one fell. Why did all those screws that had been holding those fixtures in place for nearly two decades decide it’s time to give up on their sworen duty to preform?  Inquiring minds want to know. It’s one of the mysteries of life that fits in the category of being an inconvenience but not a disaster so I’m trying to keep these hiccups in prospective. Over 50 houses in the neighborhood were built within two years of one another by the same builder. If I had more time I'd start a support group for people with light fixtures that killed an assortment of countertop appliances.

One of the jobs on my To-Do list to get ready to list the house was to put new numbers on my mailbox. First impressions matter and my numbers were---well, old, faded out and tattered. I took my trusty single-edged razor blade and some Goo-Gone down to the street and managed to remove the old and stubborn numbers. I’ve never learned the fine art of letting the Goo Gone sit and do its job which means I end up making any job that require Goo Gone harder than it needs to be. Someone should learn from my mistakes but apparently it's not going to be me. As I was putting the new numbers on I noticed a wasp going in a finger hole on the back flap of the box, the box where I’d been putting my project supplies. I peeked inside and sure enough they’ve got a nest in there. I’m allergic to bees so I don’t mind telling you I felt like I’d suddenly found myself in a hostage situation. One wrong move and I’d be dead in five minutes. Finally, I catapulted into action and suited myself up with a long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves and a can of wasp and bee spray but when I pressed the button on the can that is supposed to spray liquid 18 feet it wouldn’t even reach the back of the box. So this simple To-Do job ended with a trip to the store for another can of spray and eventually I’ll have to swing by hazardous waste to drop off the can that didn’t work.

I’m sitting in front of my old laptop and making typing mistakes one right after another. I don’t get why the whole world isn’t rising up against straight-line keyboards and forcing companies to make a laptop with ergonomic keyboard built-in and banishing all the straight-in keyboards to the trash heap of bad ideas. They say there is a learning curve to learning how to use an ergonomic keyboard but I’m suffering the reverse learning curve. After only a few days I’m already feeling my carpal tunnel getting worse.

Since I'll have to go the county’s recycling center for the spray can I decided it will be a good time to go to the next building over to drop off my old Logitech Ergo keyboard along with my defunct computer tower. Once I move and get settled in to my new desk I’ll get another curved keyboard and until then I’ll limp though using the laptop like everyone else seems to do without complaining like I do. My old Ergo keyboard had developed a few skipping and sticky keys and I’d worn the lettering off the keys so badly that I had to buy the key replacement decals. Twice! And isn’t it interesting that they even sell key replacement decals for just about any device on the market. I guess it’s not so interesting, now that I think about it. You can still buy replacement letters and numbers for those old typewriters and cash registers from the early 1900s or at least you could two years ago when I bought a one cent key for a brass cash register that I was getting ready to sell. That little dime-sized disk cost a small fortune.

I’ve been so busy lately working on my To-Do List for getting the house up for sale. The carpet cleaners were here, the A/C maintenance guy, too. The son-I-wish-I-had started power washing the house but only got one side done because he had to leave to take his wife to ER. She was having severe chest pains. I hate that she/they had to spend two days in the hospital but I'm glad that instead of it being heart related it turned out to be steroid related. She’d been taking them for a case of poison ivy. Final answer to the question you’re probably asking: Yes, Tim and I are behind on our Master Plan but that’s okay. Thursday will be the very definition of a Three Ring Circus at my house. He’ll finish up the power washing (just in time for the window cleaners on Monday) while I’m inside talking to my realtor who is coming over to run some numbers by me and to see how close I am to picture taking time. Also on Thursday a woman from the East Coast is picking up my beloved oak roll top desk that she bought on e-Bay. Now, there's a lady who knows how to bring great souvenirs home from vacation. ©

Saturday, June 19, 2021

My Life on Post-it Notes

Note: This post was written and scheduled to go live earlier this week but it got bumped back to make room for the computer woes post. I still haven't had time to deal with that fly in my soup and the laptop I'm working on is too old to use as a landing place for my lost photos and documents that should be safety up in a cloud named Carbonite. Hopefully, next week I'll get at it.

Moving on: I'm a huge fan of Post-it Notes. One wall of my computer wardrobe is filled with the colorful little scraps of paper and I have a tin box filled with them as well. Or I should say one wall was filled with them. Everyday I've been working at dismantling bits of my office space inside the wardrobe and taking down my Post-it Notes is part of the process. Everything in the wardrobe is gone, now but the computer itself as it waits for help to move the wardrobe out of the kitchen. By the way, I've tried the Sticky Notes app to keep the clutter at bay and digitalized but I'm a visual person and it just isn't the same.

Over the years I’ve gotten militant about putting quotation marks around stuff I write on Post-it Notes that are sentences I’ve copied out of a book or heard on TV or in a song, so if I ever use that quote I can properly credit the line. I would hate it if someone plagiarized me and I wouldn’t want to accidentally take credit for someone else’s note-worthy thoughts. I often jot down my own phrases or sentences as well so the quotation marks are necessary on other people's words. Once in a great while I’ve found an unquoted phrase on a note and think that it couldn't have come from my brain. So I’ll do a google search to no avail which means, apparently, I do come up with a pleasing string of words from time to time. In past year, though, I’ve started adding “by me” to bits and pieces I think are Post-it Note worthy. I’m old and I need to learn that I don’t have the time to retrace my steps when if I did something thorough the first time I’d save a lot of head scratching and asking myself, Did or didn’t I write this?

A small orange note I’m looking at right now just says, “nuh-uh” while a larger blue note says, “Treasures of Darkness.” I know why I wrote the first one. I often want to use words like that when I write but I have no clue how to spell them or to get Alexa to do it for me. (She hates me and the way I pronounce stuff.) The “Treasures of Darkness” note I had to google to figure out that it was a book title of a book I actually liked and went on to read the entire series minus the one due out in December. Apparently, when I wrote the note I wanted to be sure not to forget about the author’s upcoming book which I did forget and I’ve vowed---yet again---to make the Post-it Notes I jot down a little clearer so I don’t have to waste time googling why I wrote them in the first place. (That last sentence is messy and murky but I assure you, it will makes sense if you read it over again.) And apparently, I like the word ‘apparently’ today because this is the fourth time I’ve used it.

Moving along: On a tiny yellow Post-it Note I wrote, “Fissured Tongue, 5% of Americans.” Yup, you get the door prize if you guessed that I have a fissured tongue which I found out in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and I obsessed that it was a symptom of some dreaded disease I’d picked from reading a book set on another planet. Nope, it’s not but I did start brushing my tongue after that night because those ridges and valleys can harbor a host of yucky stuff. But I’m comforted by the fact that my dentist checks for mouth cancer twice a year. I’m not suggesting that a fissured tongue has anything to do with cancer. It doesn’t. However, I figured if the dentist found anything else worth mentioning---like my fissured tongue---she'd speak up about it.  

A lot of my Post-it Notes are things I write down and don’t need to keep past the next day like the hours a certain place might be open or their address. Lately, I’ve accumulated a lot of notes with measurements…moving boxes, furniture, PODS. One note I just threw out had, “High Sierra by HBE” which was the company that made some canvas camping and travel gear that I was going to sell on Facebook Marketplace, but I gave them to Goodwill instead. Apparently---fifth time if your counting---I don’t purge my Post-it Notes often enough because I found a bunch of them about migrating my subscriber list on this blog from Feedburner which is a done deal now. (If you haven't migrated your subscriber list yet, that July 1st deadline is closing in on you.) Another note, a medium sized yellow one, lists foods that are rich in potassium---bananas, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes and cucumbers. 

And these lines from the website Escape Adulthood I though were Post-it Note worthy fun: "If you think the dictionary should be made into a movie. If you were disappointed to learn that Fifty Shades of Gray was NOT a home decor manual. These are signs that you might have Adultitis."

I tend to see my world as potential ideas for self-published books which comes from spending a life-time documenting where I've been and it occurs to me that if a person were to publish all the Post-it Notes they write in a year, it would tell a story of who that person is. My story would be of a frustrated, bad speller who is easily impressed by lyrical sentences, a woman who has the memory of circus flea. (Circus fleas, I’m assuming, have slightly better memories as other fleas roaming the earth.) Throw in a little germaphobic tendencies and obsessive planning and my Post-it Notes book would write itself.

Currently I torturing myself with a Post-it Note with the words: Maggie’s Song, Chris Stapleton. I heard it for the first time this week and burst out in tears. It’s a country western song about a dog and you know the drill with dogs that are featured in movies and songs---they always die at the end. Maggie’s Song is no different and I only have to look at the pink note to chock up with thoughts of Levi not making it to the finish line of us living on a lake come October. And sometimes in the dead of night I wonder if I will make it, if the stress will kill me before I get there. In the daylight the logical part of my brain takes center stage and I know I'm doing the right thing at the right time in my life, and for the right reasons and everything is going to work out according to plan. If not, I'll alter the plan to suit how it does turn out.

I leave you with another one of my Post-it Notes, a dedication that I found in a not-so-good book by an author new-to-me, T.L.Swan. The first line made me laugh but by the time I finished reading her dedication I'd moved over into the that's-so-cool zone: "I would like to dedicate this book to the alphabet. For those twenty-six letters have changed my life. Within those twenty-six letters I found myself and live my dream. Next time you say the alphabet remember its power. I do very day." ©

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Computer Woes!


There’s a chain of computer repair places around town and I’ve been using them for twenty years. I woke up a few days ago to find that my preferred internet browser (Firefox) was gone plus all my photos, documents and bookmarks were as well. I packed up the tower to drop it off but when I got to my branch I found a note on the door that said it was permanently closed and to go to one of their others locations. I walked in to the nearest branch and was greeted by someone new-to-me and I barely got the tower set down on the counter when he said, “I’ve got to be honest with you. Your computer is ten years old and is not compatible with the new Microsoft upgrades coming along. You’re probably going to need a new one.”  I’ve got a Carbonite subscription that should have my documents and photos backed up, I told him, and “Their website says I’m still in recovery mode so I probably didn’t know what I was doing when I tried to get my files back. Can you at least look at it?”

Alongside him, facing out to the customers was an 8”x10” piece of cardboard with handwritten letters written with a black marker that said, “God guides all my steps.” It’s probably based on a Bible verse but it annoyed the heck out of me. I don’t know why that’s important to announce it to your customer base. In my perfect world the only ones who would wear their relationship with God on their sleeves would be the men and women ordained by their churches to do so. I know it isn’t fair to judge the guy by that sign but it made me think I needed to hold my hand over my wallet, as my dad used said about certain people. And we can blame my uncle for that. He could have been the inspiration for the movie, Paper Moon. Only my uncle wasn’t a fictional character going across the country selling Bibles door to door and reading the obituaries and claiming the deceased ordered a deluxe Bible before passing away that had a hefty sum of money still due. My uncle really did earn is living traveling across the country, following the good weather to sell Bibles and other religious trinkets. 

The most memorable time I remember hearing a phrase like “God guides all my steps” was when Uncle Abe---not his real name but close enough---used it as an excuse for why he shouldn’t have to pay my folks back for a couple of hundred dollars he borrowed from them. Whatever he “invested” the money, it was lost---a land deal, a ponzi scam, the ponies, I have no idea but because God guided his steps Uncle Abe thought my folks should just forgive the debt and pray about it. “Only God knows where the money is now and God doesn’t make mistakes.”

For years my dad tolerated my uncle while he parked his camper in our driveway, using our electricity and water and tying up our phone for the 3-4 days that he would be there because it was the only time my mom would get to see her sister. They ate our food and while my aunt helped cook it they never contributed anything---my dad’s hard work that earning the money to put food on the table was chalked up to thanking God for "providing this wonderful meal.” My uncle’s prayers went on and on and I hated the oily way he looked at me while he was saying them. 

There’s a scene in a movie that I think starred Gregory Peck---I’ve tried to find it on the web but couldn’t---where he’s doing a smack-down disguised as a prayer that mocked the idea of giving praise for a meal to God, giving none to the farmer---Peck’s character---who planted and tended the fields, brought in the harvest that his wife then cooked. I saw that movie with my dad once and while he was too kind to ever say anything like that in the presence of his brother-in-law I always thought it would be fun if he did.

The computer guy at the new-to-me shop just called and told me the hard drive is fried. He wants to sell me a rebuilt machine and even though I have a backup at Carbonite he’s not promising he can get my photos and documents back on a new machine. I’m not sure what I’m going to do now but it’s an odd fact of my downsizing process that the day before my computer woes began I was about to take all my hardcopies of my first five years of blogging and the hardcopy of book draft I had to the paper recyclers. Thankfully I didn't. I wish this guy didn’t remind me of my uncle! It would make my decisions on what to do so much easier. ©

P.S. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate working on my laptop? It's old too so I'm crossing my fingers it stays running until I get my computer woes worked out. 

P.S. Again. Since so many people (including the computer guy) mention hooking my keyboard and monitor up to my laptop I think I've made a smart decision on what to do. My laptop is old too...11 years and living on borrowed time. I think I will replace THAT now and skip buying a new tower, etc. until after I move and get settle in. That way I'll be forced to give what everyone else seems to prefer doing a fair shot. Who knows maybe it will make a believer out of me and I won't even need to buy a tower later on. More importantly I won't feel forced to make a decision on what tower now just to put it in storage next month. I do need something to put transfer my photos and documents on now and my old laptop isn't going to cut it for that.