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, September 1, 2021

Story Telling at its Best - West With the Giraffes


I shouldn’t be reading this month with all the stuff that I’ve got going on in my life but a book going off Kindle’s Free Unlimited sale caught my eye. I promptly downloaded West With the Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge thinking if 77% of 29,289 readers gave it a five star review it should be worth my time. I was look for a slow read, something that was easy to put down and ignore for days at a time. Boy, did I miss that mark. I read it in two days, then bought a copy and started listening to the audio venison.

West With the Giraffes is a work of fiction that was inspired by a true event that happened in1938 during The Depression. An event that was followed by over 500 newspapers across the country as they tracked two young giraffes that survived a hurricane at sea and spent twelve days getting from New York to the San Diego Zoo. They rode in the back of a tricked-out farm truck escorted by a crusty old zoo worker and a homeless teen victim of the Dust Bowl. Following in a car was a young woman who aspired to be a photographer for Life Magazine. Amazon’s blurb says this about the book: “Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.”

The author writes the book from the point of view of the teen boy only he's very elderly and is looking back at the many perils they found along the way. I couldn’t put this book down. Aside from the adventure aspect and the descriptions of the people they met along the way, I loved the philosophy sprinkled through out like: "...destiny is a mobile thing—that every choice you make, along with every choice made around you, can cause it to spin this way and that, offering destinies galore."

Here’s a couple more of my favorites passages:

“Time heals all wounds, they say. I’m here to tell you that time can wound you all on its own. In a long life, there is a singular moment when you know you’ve made more memories than any new ones you'll ever make. That’s when the moment your truest stories---the ones that made you the you that you became---are ever more in the front of your mind, as you begin to reach back for the you that you deemed best.”

And: “I had quit going to the zoo, spirit willing but body worn out. What I hadn’t noticed is my mind was wearing out, too. Time plays its cruelest trick without you knowing it. Even the memories a body holds most dear becomes like scratchy old phonograph records played too long, fading in and out with little sound and even less fury. Until you’re only another old man sitting in a wheelchair…”

I did a little research on the author and found out she’s an animal lover who has spent time with giraffes but I didn’t need to know that to know that she sure can write wonderful descriptions of them---their movements and personalities right down to what it feels like when they sneeze snot all over you or lick your head, smell your crotch. I love it when an author’s cadence---rhythmic flow of language pleases my ears while the words themselves spark my imagination. Lynda Rutledge did that for me in this book. Or maybe I was just ready to break out of genre reading with something that made me think instead of just mindlessly popping words off pages like eating popcorn at the movies.  

This post is a tad shorter than I usually write and with the long quotes I included it didn't take me long. I'm assuming all my posts in September and half of October might be short but I'm hoping not to miss any of my bi-weekly commitments to myself. I might even reach into the archives to re-post some of my favorites, although I don't like to do that if I can avoid it. Just warning you all ahead of time. ©

34 comments:

  1. That sounds like a fascinating read. I have always been curious why older people slow down and don't show as much interest in going, going, going. As I age, I'm understanding it more and more. Perhaps some of it is pandemic related, but I have to admit, my energy level isn't what it used to be.

    As for memories, I couldn't agree more. A man who taught H.S. in our small town died this week, and the memories we are all sharing are extensive.

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    1. It really was fascinating with lots of surprises and twists along the way. Chapter breaks usually came in the form of very short present day stuff in his nursing home. If not for that snap-back I would have reading the book non-stop. Hard to put down.

      I love those kinds of memories services where people share memories. You truly get to see sides of the deceased you didn't know about, not matter how well you thought you did.

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  2. I love the photo of the craft with the giraffes head sticking out. I suppose the other one got to look the other way but my goodness, how did they care for them as the journey must have taken a long time.

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    1. They could stick there heads out of the top of the crates as well as out one side, and they didn't leave those boxes the whole 12 days it took to go across the country except when one escaped when someone tried to steal her. The boy often slept on top between to guard them at night.

      I was shocked when I saw those crates in photos. I thought they'd be bigger. The insides were thickly padded.

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  3. Gosh, that sounds like a terrific story. I have put the book on hold at my library so I will get a chance to read it. I bet someone makes it into a movie one day. Sounds like the kind of story that people would like to watch.
    The time until your move is certainly winding down now. I bet you are excited and nervous at the same time. It will all work out and your next chapters of adventures will begin!

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    1. It's an amazing story and all the more amazing because it's based on a lot of research into the actual journey and the era.

      Time is running out and I just gave away my living room couch and chair, two antique chairs, antique table, an ice cream set and my library bookcases. The new owners asked me to give them a price on this stuff and I weighed up the pros and cons of trying to sell/donate elsewhere if they didn't like my prices and just leaving this stuff behind, so I made them a deal they couldn't refuse---all for free. They're supper happy and said they felt greedy taking it all but I assured them they were helping me out, too.

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  4. Sounds like a good read, Jean. I'm reminded of Water for Elephants.

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  5. That’s neat you found some people who appreciated getting your furniture. I think it’s healthy for you to be taking mini vacations by reading. You’ve been working so hard. ❤️

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    1. I really am working hard. I'm exhausted, but it also rubs me the wrong way to have to pay someone &$75 an hour to pack for me. I am hiring help to pack my closet and kitchen on the 15th. After that I'll be living out of a suitcase and eating off paper plates.

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  6. I don't know how you find the time to read!! I'm doing not much of anything and am still finding the heart to write. LOVE to look forward to Weds and Sat!!!

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    1. I don't live with four other people taking up my time, like you do. LOL Writing is my relaxing time.

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  7. Oh, I definitely have to find this book and read it. Thanks, Jean! As to your posting schedule etc., be kind to yourself - we will understand - and if you end up only replaying your "greatest hits", we'll be fine with that too! (And anybody who isn't can come and speak to me...hehehe!)

    Deb

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    1. Anyone who does not like that book, can't be my friend. I'm sorry. hehehehe

      It's getting creepy close. We ordered the truck yesterday for the move.

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  8. Sold!!! My goodness what is not to love about that book? Well the small crates maybe. Going to find it now. Thanks.

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    1. Let me know how you like it after you finish. It starts out in a year in the future---the old man in a nursing home---which was an odd author choice but that's the only thing I not to like about the book.

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  9. I'm in! I've been starting to read more, and will definitely read this book. Not sure if I can fit it in before all the craziness starts with our move, though. I know you understand, Jean. I think it was a wonderful and generous idea to give some of your furniture to the new owners. We're leaving quite a bit behind, too, and I know we'll have absolutely no regrets. Take good care of yourself, Jean. Gotta stay strong for your move!

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    1. It was instant relief when the new owners said they'd take it all. I have no regrets and two pieces I was really sentimentally attached to. Knowing they love antiques to makes it work for me. The are planning to finish off the basement with a new bedroom, bath, 2nd living room and exercise room. Coming from out of state they weren't planing to ship everything and will need lots of stuff.

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  10. The idea of a boy, giraffes, at sea reminds me a little of Life of Pi, which I loved. This really does sound like a wonderful book. I'm glad you could lose yourself in it!

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    1. I didn't I didn't read Life of Pi but I've heard good thing about it and have been meaning to read it. The hurricane didn't didn't take up much space in this book, a page or two. I don't often get excited about books anymore, but this one sure did it for me.

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  11. Loved those Quotes from the Book. Glad to be back in The Land as my Old Computer crashed and the recovery was convoluted to buy a new ridiculously expensive yet far superior upgrade and get the Tech GEEK Squad to finally transfer Data... those people are in high demand, even once you've spent a fortune at their Store buying a top o'the line system. I went thru serious withdrawal, everyone was concerned and genuinely worried about me being MIA for so long, which was touching, yet I couldn't respond until I got back Online. So much is done Online now, I didn't even know when our irrigation would be scheduled, lucky for me T.J. knew, you can't miss that once it's ordered, it's coming. You're on the Home stretch now for the move, so excited for you, trying to now catch up with what I missed while I went Dark and off grid.

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    1. I'm SO GLAD to see you back! I combed your blog site a few days ago looking for an email address or something that give me a way to check on you. I figured there was a 50% chance of your absence being computer related and a 50% chance it being health related. If you have a Kindle Fire you can do blogs from that device, annoying with the small screen but doable to leave a short note to your readers.

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    2. Don't have a Kindle and my Smart Phone wouldn't let me comment as myself, had some Google problems with Passwords since about 4 months ago I had a hacker attempt and had to change everything and then couldn't recall what I'd changed it all to?! *LOL*

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  12. That sounds like a wonderful story. I'll have to see if Library or Overlook has it. Love that it is based on something real and that picture is to die for.

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    1. It's a wonder they didn't literally die. They were in those crates at sea as well as across the country.

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  13. I just finished that book, my first to hear via Audible. Long ago, I used to love books on CD when I traveled, but my inherited form of hearing loss made it more and more difficult to understand speech with any background noise, such as road noise. My newest set of hearing aids makes it possible again, so I heard six hours of that book as I crossed parts of Texas three hours to and three hours back from my infusion appointment at my rheumatologist's office. On the way back, it took me away from the stress of arriving at my rheumatologist's office to learn that all supplies of my infusion drug, Actemra, had been appropriated for Covid patients. As you may know, once you stop a particular biologic, you often build antibodies to it and can never go back to it. However, it turns out that was a happy push away from a drug I'd been limping along with (literally) to one that's already helping me move better and be in less pain. A happy trip altogether.

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    1. Back when I spent a lot of time in my pickup truck I went through 3=4 books on tapes. I hate that the newer vehicles no longer can play them. Now I don't spent enough time in my car to learn to do go the blue tooth route with a device. I can see how listening to a book while going to an infusion appointment help a lot, if it's a good book. Glad your newinfusion is helping!

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  14. I very rarely read about a book that appeals to me these days -- but this one does. For one thing, I've been in love with giraffes ever since the day I got close enough to one to realize how long and silky their eyelashes are. They're such cool creatures.

    As for re-posting old material -- why not? For one thing, after some years there are new readers, and the old readers may have enough memory loss that they've forgotten what you wrote 'back when.' Besides that, we listen to favorite songs, or watch favorite movies, or read certain books over and again. Why not offer up a summer re-run or two -- especially if it helps during this tumultuous time in your life?

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    1. I fell in love with giraffes reading this book. There's a few chapters where they traveled through Texas that I'll bet you'd find fascinating as well.

      You make a good point about listening to old movies and rereading favorite books, I think I'll put a couple of oldies in a draft just in case I need them, which I'm sure I will that first week in October.

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  15. I just ordered that book! Thanks for the great review and recommendation!

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