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, June 9, 2021

Post-Pandemic Socializing or Oh My, I'm getting Old!

Coming up with blog titles is not my thing. I had two for this one and couldn't decide which one to use, so you're getting them both. When my husband was alive he was the one who named any creative endeavor I did. He had a gift for boiling down what he was seeing or reading to a few well-chosen words which amazed me because as a storyteller he couldn't edit down himself. If you told him, "I've heard this story a thousand times!" he'd keep on telling it, full-throttle with all the details he always included. Friends would joke, "That's story number 42!" but he'd keep on telling it. Fortunately most of his stories were fun, so there was that to keep people from running in the other direction when they saw him coming.

Do you know how to tell if you're getting old? When you find out that the hair dryer you’re using is listed as a collectible antique. I kid you not that happened to me this week. I’ve been replacing things right and left for my big move coming in October and the dryer I have has a plug that is hard to get in and out of electrical sockets, and somehow after all these years of being that way I’ve started worrying that it isn’t safe to keep using it. So I googled the brand thinking I’d get their updated version because I really like that little hair dryer with its folding handle. That’s when I discovered that it was made in 1973 which means I’ve been using mine for nearly 50 years! If I was still doing e-Bay I could sell it and buy at least two new hair dryers for what I’d get. Who in the heck wants old hair dryers besides people procuring stage props? It boggles my mine and I’ve been around collectors most of my life. I wish I hadn’t looked it up because now I don’t want to junk the old dryer if it still has intrinsic value to someone but it doesn’t feel right donating something to Goodwill if it’s something that I don’t feel is safe use. No matter what I do with it it’s going to come with a serving of regret.

I got invited to go out to an Irish Pub for beer and hamburger night by a couple of women in my now-defunct Gathering Girls group. I felt silly asking about getting home before dark but I had to because I’m now restricted by law and common sense not to drive at night. As it turned out they said they’d go early enough to get us home before the stars come out but during our texts back and forth my cushion guy called and wanted to stop by after he closes the shop to do a fitting of the foam on my settee and chair. I didn’t want to do anything to derail that train coming down the tracks so I told the girls I'd have to pass and to ask me the next time they go.

And they did, we’re going out on the 14Th. I’ve been to this Irish Pub before. It’s dark and noisy and the bathrooms were built for midgets but it’s fun and it seems like a great choice to meet and greet our new after-the-pandemic life. Talking with strangers without masks on is weird after over a year of not seeing anyone’s faces and I’m still not completely comfortable doing it. But I’m getting there. The pub should help. The place is a middle-class hangout with good food where people friendly-flirt back and forth between tables and with people walking by. Friendly-flirt as opposed to sexy-flirt and there is a difference in expectations and goals and anyone in any age bracket from toddlers to octogenarians can friendly-flirt. It’s kind of fun in a voyeuristic way, though, to watch young people sexy-flirt in a bar. (Or is it just me, the Romance Book Junky who thinks so?) Watching them you know that if they don’t steal a few kisses out in the parking lot (or even if they do) that one of them is likely going home to a vibrator with a silly name and the other one is going home to burp the balded-headed guy in his pants who coincidentally has a silly name as well. (Why do guys do that, name their penises?) 

And speaking of socializing, I recently saw the unvaccinated member of my defunct group of six. We had lunch together in a riverside park. I loved catching up with her and her experiences having a vendor booth in a resale mall because sometimes I miss that part of my past. Puttering around changing displays and adding and subtracting stock to a little retail space often made me feel like a kid again. In fourth grade my teacher had a 'store' in her classroom where we took turns being the cashier or the customer to teach us how to make change. Now, counting back a person's change is an obsolete custom. I tell you, the signs of aging are all around us! By the way, my favorite job in the pretend store was lining up the can goods and wax produce. (I'm so old that plastic fruit hadn't been invented yet.)

After having lunch in the park, I swung around to small town's cemetery to dig up around his headstone to keep the quack grass from taking over. I’ve been doing it twice a year since he died in 2012. Once I’m no longer living in this end of the county I wonder how long it would take that pervasive grass to cover over the writing on the granite making it only visible after a killing frost in the fall if I don’t dig it up as often. 

I’m not a stickler about visiting and maintaining grave sites. But my husband was. Before his stroke we decorated nearly a dozen graves every Memorial Day and for a few years afterward until I put my foot down and told him it was too hard hauling him and his wheelchair around to four cemeteries and me doing all the plant hauling. I’d never met most of the people buried in those graves but my husband was keeping a promise he made to his mom and he was a man of his word. I know me, and I know neglecting his (and my) headstone in the future will come with guilt. I also know as I age my world and driving range will get smaller and smaller and the neglected headstone will become to pass.   

In the meantime I'm going to propose a few Irish toasts next week at the pub while I'm stilling living where I'm at and I'm starting with: "Always remember to forget the things that made you sad. But never forget to remember the things that made you glad." ©

P.S. I don't know when it happened but my blog view counter hit over 1,000,000 recently and I didn't even notice. Took me nine years but, what the heck, I'm not living the life of the rich and famous, so I'm pretty proud of that number. It should have been a moment to celebrate. It should have been a moment to thank everyone who stops by to read from time to time. So here's my belated 'thank you!' Life is a series of adventures and misadventures and I'm grateful, humbled, and flattered when others spend time reading about mine.

42 comments:

  1. Congratulations on a million hits--very impressive! Now you've got me wondering about a little Conair hairdryer we have from years gone by. I have newer ones, too, but the old one is little, so I take it on trips (ha--we used to travel, but haven't in ages).The Irish Pub sounds like fun. Isn't it wonderful (and a little weird) to be able live a normal life again? Yesterday, I went into a store unmasked and could actually breathe and enjoy shopping. I keep watching the news about the lousy variants that are popping up in various places across the world. God help us to dodge that bullet. Jean, I've gotta tell you your decision to save some of your keepsake furniture has me thinking maybe I should keep an old rocking chair that I found in an attic, back in the 70s. It has been with me everywhere, painted many colors. Heck, it's actually comfortable to sit in, too. Yep, I'm taking it! Now I have to find a sweet cushion covering man like yours!!

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    1. Thanks. This is the only hair dryer I've every owned. I used to have short hair and didn't use it much until the pandemic hit. I bought another this week but it's going back to the store because I don't have enough strength in my fingers to turn it on. I may be forced to keep my old one.

      My cushion guy doesn't advertise that he makes cushions. He's owns a small mattress company. I hope you can find a guy like him where you live. Your rocker sounds like it deserves to make it through your purge.

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    2. Jean, I forgot to add that the rocker is rattan and wicker. It's the last old wicker piece I own.

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    3. All the more reason why I'm glad you're keeping it. The "wicker" they make today is mostly plastic.

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  2. I love that you have been using the same hair dryer for so long! I haven't been able to keep one running that long, and my guess is that when you buy a new one, it won't last long. Mine is maybe 10 years old and I recently discovered that it's dead (since I've retired, I seldom take the time to dry and style my hair).
    Nina

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    1. I'm going to be keeping it longer now. I brought one home from the store and don't have the finger dexterity to turn it on!

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  3. I have a funny little hairdryer like that, too, just not quite as old. Maybe ten years younger. I got it in the days when one needed a travel hairdryer. Then hotels and motels wised up and made them standard in-room equipment, and it became the spare hairdryer. No wonder it still works.

    Have fun at your Irish Pub date. Celebrate your hit counter. And your new cushions!

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    1. My hair has been really short most of my life and I didn't blow dry it much like I have to do now with my new post-pandemic hair style which is probably why it's lasted so long.

      The Pub will be fun. I can't wait. It's been 3-4 years since I've been there.

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  4. Whoa! I can't believe you have a hair dryer with that many years on it. I had one of those folding models and loved it. But I think I've been through five since then. My current model started to smoke and stink a couple years back. It was kinda pricey (DH bought it for me for Christmas one year in hopes of not buying one every couple years), so he took it all apart and fixed something inside that was bent or some such. It works well again. Maybe it will outlast me. LOL.

    I grew up visiting our small town cemetery on a regular basis, as I had an older brother who died before I was born. I knew every relative in that section of the cemetery and most of the people in the cemtery TBH. #smalltownlife Consequently, I have an affinity for cemeteries...go figure. My mom likes to do the rounds and plant flowers for Memorial Day, too. My brother did it with her this year. There is something really peaceful about a cemetery and I often wander them on my travels. But I do appreciate that there is some real elbow grease involved in pulling them back every spring.

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    1. Since hauling one home from Meijer and not be able to turn it on, I'll probably hold on to my old dryer for a while.

      Every time I go to the cemetery I'm struck by how peaceful it is. And going with an older relative never failed to bring new stories forth from the family vault. Growing up I used to go with my dad but for some reason he quit going. I never minded going with my husband and his mom (when she as still alive) but those first years after Don't stroke I was so overwhelmed with caregiver issues I had to make cuts in my responsibilities. I know it hurt him to stop but he understood.

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    2. I didn't grow up going to cemeteries, but started about two years ago. I have a number of relatives buried in the area (an area that I did not grow up in).
      This Memorial Day I visited the site of an uncle (died at two days), my paternal great grandparents (both passed at the beginning of the depression) and a number of great uncles and aunts who passed either during WWI or from the Spanish flu.
      Huge cemetery in the "interesting" part of Baltimore. I went way early in the morning, hoping to stay relatively safe.
      I knew the section, grave site numbers, but there were a thousand just in that one section. Just about to give up and drive the two hours home...looked up....and there was the family marker. Rose Granite, so beautiful in the morning dew.
      I, too, dug around the edges and planted some flowers. Something satisfying to finally "meet them all" in person! Ancestry.com has brought a whole new light to my history, for sure.

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    3. Those of us who are interested in genealogy and family history all eventually find ourselves wandering around cemeteries. Glad you found what you were looking for.

      For years my family tried to find my grandmother's grave who also died from the Spanish Flu epidemic down in Indiana. Recently the mystery was solved when we learned that everyone who died in the hospital where she died were buried in a mass grave with no headstone/s listing all the names of the people who was there in a nicely kept field of grass.

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  5. How fun to see that your object organizing skills go back to elementary school. I hadn't thought about playing store for ages. I too had one of those hairdryers but it gave up the ghost long ago. The small one I have now is easy to turn on so I think it really is a matter of make and model. Have fun at the pub and glad you had a nice catch up lunch with a friend. Many of us are easing back into socializing but with reservations about how it will go as the crowds increase.

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    1. It's a great little hair dryer. The one I bought that is going back was the smallest I could find locally. I may have to go back to having short hair again! LOL

      I seem to be surrounded by people who haven't been vaccinated lately. Carpet cleaners and house cleaners and I made them keep on their masks. When they came to the door I said, I'm fully vaccinated and if you are too you can take off your masks. No one did and with the summer heat coming, they're going to regret that decision, I think.

      If anyone has a brand name of a small travel hairdryer to recommend, please do! Revlon's travel model won't work for me.

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  6. Over one million views is impressive. As for your collectible hairdryer that is equally impressive, and decidedly humorous. I haven't been in a bar or restaurant yet. Not really missing those scenes so not concerned about it. I'll get to them when I get to them.

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    1. I just had a thought. I wonder if I could have a new plug put on to my old hair dryer. You can rewire old lamps, so it might be worth asking around.

      I'm not normally a bar kind of person but once or twice a year it's kind of fun. So I'm looking forward to Monday night.

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  7. Glad that faithful hairdryer is still in the drawer though I guess you have to worry about its safety.
    I am still not comfortable mingling with non-vaxers yet as I am too high risk.I envy your ease with that. Be glad for the day I can do that again.

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    1. Having the vaccine does make me feel like I have super powers. LOL And I still social distance with everyone except those I know have been fully vaccinated. The Irish Pub will be the first place that I'll be going where that might not be physically possible to do.

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    2. The non-vaccinated didn't think out their objections too well because many of us who got vaccinated won't mind wearing a mask until we hit that 70-80% number.
      Congratulations on your views! Well deserved. Reading your blog is like getting a good letter from a friend.

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    3. Ohmygosh, thank you for comparing my blog to a letter from a friend. for two decades of my life I was really into letter writing. I was in quite a few round-robin groups so I had a lot of practice.

      You are right about vaccinated people being willing to wear their masks until we hit the magic number. I will carry my all summer and won't hesitate to put it if I feel the need.

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  8. Congratulations, Jean! I'm sure it will take fewer than 9 years to get to 2 million. Keep on writing, please!

    Deb

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    1. Thank you! I used to write humorous caregiver essays for a now-defunct Yahoo platform and my page had over a million views so I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched that Bloggers will still be hosting blogs long enough for me to get another million here.

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  9. Hope you enjoy your visits with friends. It seems like the long wait has made these visits even more special.

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    1. The pandemic has made us appreciate simple things like dinner with friends on a whole new level. So many people around the world didn't make it through get covid to be able to say that.

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  10. Congratulation on your viewer counts…that’s impressive. I’m like you, a letter writer at heart. Blogging is made for people like us. Andy and I still wear masks when we go out. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective for us octogenarians so why take chances.

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    1. That's why I never took to Twitter. I spent most of my life learning how to write just to boil it down to so many characters?

      If the covid cases go up in my state I will go back to mask wearing everywhere in a heartbeat.

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  11. WOW! 1M views is spectacular! Even during a pandemic. You go!!!!

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    1. Thanks! Probably helped along by the pandemic when people spent more time at home.

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  12. Whoa. A million is big. Isn't that funny that your hairdryer was built so well it lasted 50 years while a very expensive car will start to fall apart at 5 years.

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    1. Computers and cell phones, too. Everything is built to be disposable now days.

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  13. That's awesome to have that many views on your blog. Congrats!
    They just don't make things the way they used to. I seriously doubt that any hair dryer you bought today would last 50 years.

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    1. Mine might have to last another ten because the one I bought to replace it went back to the store today. The buttons were too tiny for me to operate.

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  14. A million hits is awesome
    Yeah we noice ourselves getting old by the amount of things that we nowr find annoying or stupid

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    1. I can't tell if people are getting more annoying or if our tolerate for stupid people is not as strong. Probably a little of both.

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  15. wow Jean

    congratulations million views amazing. I always love reading your blogs it gives me strength & teaches me to have good sense of humor about life

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    1. Thank you. Sometimes it's hard to keep our sense of humor when things aren't going well, but that's really the time when we need it the most, isn't it.

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  16. I'm glad you're getting out and around! And it sounds both fun AND productive. I wish I could hear your Irish toasts -- I bet they'll be good ones!

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    1. starting in July I've got a few arts and crafts project to do for my new place. Talked to one of the girls today and it sounds like they my be doing the Monday night Irish Pub on Mondays for a while.

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  17. Congrats on the Million Mark! Blog Milestones are reason to Celebrate, I'll drink a Toast to your accomplishment because for the first time in ages I have a couple Beers in the fridge because some Younger Company was supposed to come over to see our new place, but then had to work, so they had to cancel. I was so looking forward to some Socializing too! Hope the Pub Gathering goes well. That Hairdryer, perhaps you should Sell it since some people do Collect such obscure things that many probably didn't survive so they're a bit rare, tho' not all that valuable. I mean, how many Fifty Year Old Hairdryers do you suppose are still around and operational at that?! *Winks* We do have some folks we know who aren't Vaccinated and may chose not to be, it worries me they are taking such enormous risks that they don't have to... they're all Elderly and work at our Antique Mall, so are around a lot of people all of the time... and I really like them, I just don't understand their aversion or the Sources they choose to Believe without fact checking the information. I guess I've always been a fact checker, the Truth is so easy to find. BTW: You MAY have been Reading too many steamy Romance Novels... *Winks*

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    1. I don't get anti-vaxxers either when they say they haven't been tested enough. Millions have tested them around the world by getting them.

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  18. Where can you find out how many hits you have? Bloggeri s so different now I have no idea how it all works. However, many congratulations! Well done.

    You are brave to go out again, I am a bit scared. We are supposedly getting back to normal this month but there maybe a few hiccups yet.

    I know what it feels like to get old, I have probably as much experience of it as you. Still, let's keep going while we may.

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    1. Go to your Blog's dashboard (by clicking on 'design' at the top right on your blog page. (You have to be signed in to see it). Then in on the left hand side of the page the opens up look for 'stats" (right below the word 'posts'. You'll learn all kinds of interesting things. If you want to show your blog counter on your blog page like I do, keeping reading down that left column until you find 'layout' Click and then on the right side click 'gadgets'. When the list of gadgets you can add to your blog appears look for blog counter (or stats) and turn it on.

      I don't know if I'm brave or stupid, going out in public without a mask. But I carry it with me in case I'm in a situation that doesn't feel safe like there's a lot of anti-vaxxers around who won't social distance. And I watch the county virus stats every day. If they go up, my mask will stay on.

      I'm going to keep going until I'm 100.

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