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

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Hanging Around the Cafe`


I’ve been in my new apartment a little over three weeks. Right now I'm sitting in the cafe` while people watching over steak sliders and fries looking for inspiration the way I used to do at the Guy Land Cafeteria. There are plenty of people here to watch but writing about people I may come to know well seems creepier than writing about strangers passing through my life by happenstance. There’s a woman here, for example, who is put together better than a fashion plate for Senior Living Magazine. She has model perfect hair and makeup, perfectly fitting high quality clothes. She’s a dignified, fit and trim lady with proper decorum that makes me think of mansions on The Hill. In my head I call her the Jewish Matriarch because whenever I see her I find myself sitting up straighter, making sure my knees are tucked in close together and I'm ready to say, “Yes, ma’am” if she tells me to spite out my gum. I don’t chew gum but you get the idea. In another century she’d be the Lady of the House and I’d be the scullery maid. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about myself if later on I find out my assumptions about her and others here are too far off base. Maybe it would kill my favorite head game of daydreaming back stories for strangers? But would that be such a bad thing? Their real stories might be better.

The people who work here already know my name and apartment number. It might have something to do with me being the third person to move into the complex on their second day on a new job because early on the concierge ladies, the activities director, the cafe` workers and others call me by name which shocked me because at that point I hadn’t even considered learning theirs. So I shifted gears, knowing these people are my new tribe now and I needed to make an effort to chit-chat when I have business within their job descriptions, get to know them as people. One of the concierge ladies---who others  here compare to Julie from the Loveboat---says I’m helping to train them because I’ve been the first to ask about lots of stuff like how do I get an overnight parking pass for my niece, how does the complex define ‘cardboard’ to go down the cardboard only chute, and when Amazon asks “where do I want packages left at my apartment building” which box do I check? 

The Cafe` on another day: It was last Saturday and I was trolling for blue collar people to connect with by wearing my “Fisher Body Gone But Not Forgotten” sweatshirt. For anyone who might not know it between 1908 and 1984 some of the GM/Chevrolet factories used to be named Fisher Body. My husband retired from the corporation where he was a die maker back before computers did the math involved in building the dies that stamp out the fenders, hoods, doors and other body parts on new model cars and trucks. It took a long time to build those dies and test them before sending those giant dies off to stamp out cars parts. (In case you're confused, the parking lot maintenance business he owned was his side job which paid better than his skilled trades job at Fisher Body/GM. Don was a certified workaholic which made me one too if we ever wanted to see each other.)

Anyway, I live in a town where Fisher Body once employed a hefty portion of the population and anytime my husband or I worn our FB sweatshirts---which wasn’t often---someone would always start a conversation that went something like, “My so-and-so worked at Fisher Body…” Not this time. I saw a couple of people’s eyes tracking across my chest as they read my shirt but no one said boo. Other than t-Shirt Tom I haven’t seen anyone else wearing t-shirts or sweatshirts with writing on it. And I decided that we---meaning me specifically---can’t dress in Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes every day if we’re going to be living here 24/7/365 days a year. I was making a stand, declaring that, yes, I have clothes that are 37 years old and on cold days, I like to wear sweats. 

I didn’t stay in the cafe` long because just after I got my turkey club four or five people poured in and asked the manager to change the TV channel so they could watch the University of Michigan football game. Coming up soon---actually, on the Saturday this gets published---we’re having a tailgate party here and I might go for the hot dogs and beer assuming I can hide my disinterest-bordering-on-disdain for contact sports long enough to eat. I watched ten minutes of the game today, noted the knitter in the cafe` throwing her arms up in the air a couple of times, probably losing a whole row of stitches with her enthusiasm. I have her pegged as an x-cheer leader. She’s a cute little thing who in a recent class we both attended declared, “I’m through with men!” Okay, then. It will be worth going to the tailgate party just to see if t-Shirt Tom hits on her. He's fan of college football as well. ©

If I was picking a sport based on uniforms alone, I'd pick baseball. What's not to like about them compared to a football uniform? We get to see poetry in motion and facial expressions with baseball. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

No Rest for the Wicked


There’s no time for lollygagging here in the Daydreamer’s Den. If I was into walking I could have joined the Senior Walking Group at 9:30. But that’s not going to happen for me until spring, if ever, but at 10:30 I went to a meeting called Game Room Orientation where I was hoping (and succeeded) to whip up some interest in a monthly or by-monthly Monopoly game. They’ve already got a Cutthroat Pinochle group started and one called Mexican Train Dominoes plus a Scrabble group which---with my inability to spell without Alexa at my side---would be sheer punishment. I hate that game with a passion. 

After that I grabbed a quick vegetable panini at the cafe` so I could make it to a Gym Equipment Orientation at 12:30 followed by another class called Appliance Training at 2:00. The latter class was by far the most popular. All of us are having trouble learning the ends and outs of the high tech programmable thermostats and the dishwashers that likes to start themselves if you lean against them. Computer savvy person that I am I learned early on how to use the complex’s app to fill out a work order to have a guy come to cancel the program in the thermostat so I now have what is virtually a manual with only a few things to remember: Press plus or minor to change the temperature and mode to get air conditioning, heat or off.

Also today I put in a work order to get my floor cleaned with a power scrubber so I can order my area rug. There’s a foot wide strip across the floor where the drop clothes the workmen used must not have covered and the normal cleaning crew couldn’t get the film off with normal mopping when they prepped the apartment for me to move in. In the meantime I ordered a two by three foot rug in the same pattern and color as the seven by ten rug I need just to make sure it looks good with my wicker and new La-Z-Boy. It’s worth that extra step to know I wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of returning something that big if I don't like it. And it came today. 'Love' is not a strong enough word for how much I like it.

After a full day of back to back classes I felt like I was in college again and just like back in those days one of the ladies invited 5-6 of us in to see her apartment. Everyone raved about her linoleum kitchen floor that looked like cork that she paired with high pile cream, wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room area. It wasn’t an option for the masses but she hates gray and did both floors as an upgrade. She had that same white and stainless steel kitchen as me but with the light cork colored flooring didn’t look all that good in my opinion and where her carpeting started she had a huge, L-shaped creamy white couch with it’s back to the kitchen, a hard division of space. Where my wicker furniture is probably a tad too small in scale for the space her furniture was without a doubt too big for the space. She could seat an entire football team on her disco lounge style couches. A TV and coffee table completed her decor except for a single piece of art on the wall of a dainty bouquet of flowers that looked like it was straight off the walls of a place like Home Goods.

I told her she’s going to hate my apartment because I love gray. My love affair with that color dates way back to the ‘80s when we started painting houses, buying vehicles and dogs in shades of gray and, of course, my husband’s and my hair turned silver. We joked that we were the Gray Family all matchy-matchy grAy with a little grEy thrown in for variety. It’s going to be fun seeing what each of us has done with our similar space. Someone mentioned we need to set up a tour around the holidays. Sign me up.

After being gone most of the day I came back to clean windows and summer screens installed. And we got a promise of pull cords attached to our blinds because no one is tall enough to reach them without a ladder. I don't get how we're supposed to get them back up again without a ladder, but I don't care because I will never put mine up all the way to the ceiling anyway unless drones come peeking in the windows which is a possibility. I saw one today in the green space across from my apartment.

I also learned more about the painting classes that will on campus. It’s not going to the kind I'd hoped for. They’ll be like the Wine & Painting parties you hear about for bridal showers, where you all paint the same picture only this one is designed to complete a painting in three, one hour long classes rather than one three hour class like with the party painting. (one painting per mouth if you keep them up). I hate to be an art snob but it sounds like a step above paint-by-number ‘art’. Still, I signed up just to get a paint brush in my hands again. On the other side of the coin I have a confession to make: when I was a kid I absolutely adored paint-by-number kits and ten years ago I tried another and found it just as appealing---kind of like meditation or doing jigsaw puzzles, even sold that sucker on e-Bay because collecting finished paint-by-numbers was a thing when I was downsizing. So who knows, with enough wine I might become queen of the painting party concept, and yes, we can bring wine if we want. I asked. ©

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Public Places and Private Faces

Today I’m posting some photos of the public places around my new continuum care campus. It was hard to get some of them because we’re not supposed to post photos online that have any people in them unless we have their consent. One of our move-in forms dealt with this issue and we were asked to sign a paper allowing or not allowing our image to appear on their website and Facebook page. And we can’t post pictures directly to those places because they have to go through a filter that blocks out the ones who checked the “no” box. Since the only crime I’ve commented that makes me camera shy is I ate too much and exercised too little I cut the CCC some slack and I didn’t forbid them to use group photos with me in the image. If I’m having a bad hair day or bad weight day, I’ll just look down or off the in another direction if the marketing director has her camera is aimed my way. 

I didn't take the photo up above. I grabbed it from the CCC's website. A guy living in the condo section is a frequent photo contributor of the wildlife on campus. But it's a small lake and the swans are not hard to find, especially if you were to take the mile long, paved walking path that goes all the way around the lake. I'm not up to walking that far yet, but by spring I hope to do it. And I do have this fabulous picture window (below) at the end of my underground parking space. Do you think if I put in a work order I could get that window washed? I still can't believe the 23 people who got to pick their spaces before me didn't snap this one up. It's the first thing you see when you get off the elevator and the first thing I see when turn it to my space and turn off my car.

The photo below was take standing at the door to my building. The first window you see sticking out on the white wall is my painting easel corner. 


This next photo was taken standing in the same spot only looked the opposite direction toward the main building where the concierge desk, the cafe', the restaurant, the mailboxes and most of the classes are held. Rain was about to burst from the sky. Otherwise these outdoor areas would have looked more inviting.

As I round the corner where my building ends and before the main building begins there's a piazza, a fancy word for a patio where there is a fire feature and of course a view of the lake. They plan to use this for a lot of nice weather events. One is coming up next week, put on by our local Bird Rehabilitation Center. I hear there a lots of birds of pry on our campus that gobble up the little birds in flight. Gross, but Mother Nature is not always good to her weakest creations. 

This next photo is of the cafe` looking toward the service counter and the photo below that one is taken from the same location looking toward the main entrance and my building. The concierge desk is just on the other side of that glass wall. Behind my back are windows looking out to where the kitchen gardens will go in next spring.

The next two photos show the areas to the right and left of the concierge's desk. The fireplace area seems to be where people gather waiting to get into one of the class rooms and the long table is used for the daily 'Coffee & Conversation' meet-ups. I haven't been to one yet but they alternate between afternoons and mornings and it's on my list of things to try. 



The table was made from one tree that the construction company had to cut down for this building project and they made the table for us. It's supposed to be used like a farmhouse table in a restaurant---if you're alone and feel like talking the idea is that you sit there and others will join you or you can join others without fear of rejection.

I would have had photos of the restaurant and bar which is small but elegant but I said, "Hi," to a woman from my building and she took it as an invitation to talk my arm off which at first annoyed me because one-track me was on a mission. Then I had a talk with myself about being open and friendly so we walked together back to our building. When she took the elevator up to her floor I slipped into the gym and snapped a few photos without turning the lights on.

Window looks out on the piazza.

The machines in these two photos are around a corner and under twenty-steps from my door. I have to take an orientation class before I can use them which will come next week.

That ends the tour.
By the way, I had my cataract surgery on Tuesday on the eye with with the macular pucker so I'll be in eye-drop hell for the next eight weeks between this and the next surgery. ©