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. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) 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

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. 




50 comments:

  1. Three weeks--it doesn't seem possible that you've been at your new home that long. I'm happy for you--especially since winter is fast approaching and you won't have to worry about snow removal or venturing out to the grocery store in bad weather. Being able to get out and mix with people, if you want, then go back to the privacy of your home is an advantage, too. Jean, keep on wearing the clothes you enjoy! I don't understand why you haven't seen more sweats. Maybe the fact that you're wearing yours will encourage others to do the same. In my opinion, you can't beat sweats during cold weather. Really impressed that the workers are interested in getting to know the residents. Hoping that continues!

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    1. I see some form fitting work out clothes but that will never be me. It's been my intent since before I moved it to take stock of what others wear and then update my wardrobe in the spring. It's needed updating for a very long time. Many of the women here have all been professional women who are essentially wearing their old work clothes or at the very least used to wearing a better grade of stuff than I've done since the '70s.

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    2. Perhaps everyone is just Dressing Up becoz they are Newbies, all... and want to give an Upgraded First Impression? See if it holds, perhaps then everyone will relax and be 100%. I liken it to going to Events, I usually Dress Up to do that because it's the only time I can wear my nicer ensembles really... for so many Residents this might be the most Socializing and being Seen than they've had in a very long time?

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  2. You have a wonderful attitude about meeting new people.

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    1. See if you can still say that after my next blog post. LOL

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  3. Oh I do envy your Cafe. Food prepared for you and live entertainment. What's not to love? Not knowing the story about Fisher Body, I had all kinds of weird thoughts about your shirt. I was trying to remember if fishermen had particular body types:)
    I adore baseball but really like the football uniforms better. Exaggerated bulk and tight butts. Hope you are enjoying the Series.

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    1. The sweatshirt has the large, Cinderella coach logo on the front with the words. Anyone whose lived around here before the '80s would know the logo as we had several plants to drive past. But that's funny about your first impression. I couldn't believe that shirt was that old until I did the math.

      Oh my gosh, did I start a debate about which is sexier---men's butts versus their faces? LOL

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    2. OMG I thought the same thing as Patti about your Sweatshirt Jean, not knowing the Company I was thinking Fishing and Body Types...

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    3. A nice Ass will forgive a multitude of Sins about the Face, just sayin'. I was thinking Jean, get to know ALL the Staff as Friends, it will go a very long way for you in a Sincere way. I always get the Hood Hookups as my Friends and Family call it, since I am Friendly to everyone at every place that provides Services to me. I've gotten to know all of those people as Casual Tie Friends over the Years and I look forward to interacting with them all when I see them. I know more about their Lives and Families than some of their real life Friends, they've told me it's because I've shown Interest in their Lives as Real People and not just people who provide me a Service.

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    4. I actually feel more comfortable talking with staff than residents and I don't know why that is but I'll figure it out.

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    5. Me too, Patti! On the shirt and the butts! ;-)

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  4. The Lansing Fisher Body plant was right across from my high school. Long gone now, a sadly neglected brownfield. Pity.

    I love hearing about your new experiences! Yes, the cafe would be quite the place to people watch. Just make sure that they don't know about your blog if you're going to write about them!

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    1. They torn down the plant here about seven years ago. It sure looked weird seeing all that open space. I heard there is an industrial park taking its place, growing slowly but I have not seen it.

      I need to come up with a cover story for why I'm always writing in a notebook because sooner or later someone is going to ask. Do you think anyone would believe me if I say I write to exercise my brain? That's partly true.

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  5. First off, baseball all the way. Could not agree more.

    I am betting once your place fills out more, not everyone will be dressed "to the nines" as my mom says. But what if they are? I agree that you should wear what you want. And who wants to dress up every time they go outside? Not me. My neighbors probably think I have nothing but black leggings and blue jeans. But I'm retired. And comfortable. LOL.

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    1. there are people here in leggings and jeans but, of course, I notice all the smartly dressed professional women's clothing. I do think once the place is fully occupied and we all settle in everyone will relax and realize this isn't a resort but where we live.

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  6. It doesn't matter what others are wearing - you should always be comfortable and wear the clothes you want. But you also shouldn't judge a book by its cover, like you pointed out - it will be interesting for you to learn other peoples' stories!

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    1. Judging a book by its cover is a long-standing tradition. LOL But I know what you mean. When my husband was working with asphalt and gassed up truck we designated just for that messy work woman would treat him the exact opposite as they would when he was dressed up and looking like a stud.

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    2. Have you read "The Thursday Murder Club"? It is set in a place like yours and I think you would get a kick out of it!

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    3. No but maybe that would be a good suggestion for our book club starting up this week. Thanks.

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  7. Three Weeks in already, that hardly seems possible, Time is warping by! I have been looking forward to you giving Nicknames and Dirt on the new Neighbors, but I did want to say perhaps it will be best you don't let them know you Blog so's you can keep it 100% and not assume some Neighbor is lurking and passing intel along to the others. *LOL* Most people I know don't Blog or read mine... but, if they want NOT to be put on Blast here, best to be Nice to me. My Family know I Blog about them all, it keeps them in Line. *Bwahahahaha* The Man likes T-Shirts with some Statement for a conversation starter since he's an Introvert and it's awkward for him to be Sociable to people he doesn't know well or at all. I've never met a Stranger so I cannot relate. *Smiles* That Classy Lady you described reminds me of a Customer we have named Peggy, she's Top Shelf and as Beautiful a Soul as she is on the Exterior, I really like her and have Imagined much about her. She's in her Mid-70's and is still a stunning Beauty, tiny as a Sprite and dresses with Simple Elegance and such Style! I run into her at Chazzas all of the time and she's not the least bit embarrassed to be seen there even tho' I know enuf about her now to know she is a Retired Corporate Executive too. She once invited me to a Christmas Party at her Home and I would have Loved to have gone and seen how she Decorates/Lives but Caregiving made it so I had to decline... dammit! I Wish I could look like Peggy. I'd not be the Chambermaid, I'd be the Gypsy she goes to for her Fortune Telling. *ha ha ha*

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    1. After my husband's stroke wearing t-shirts with statements on them was his conversation starters too, and I could tell how much he wanted to talk on any given day by how long it took him to pick out the statement shirt that day.

      I don't plan on telling others here about my blog. A few people in my family know and even fewer read me. Same with a few well chosen friends who know. For me it's a real trust issue before I reveal it, I have to trust them not to be a tally-tail about what they've read here if I share something negative. Other bloggers and people who like to read blogs understand our stream of conscious observations is just our opinions on any given day, subject to change on a whim.

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  8. I suspect everyone is trying hard to make a good first impression, with their clothing choices. Brava to you for taking a stand, and therefore allowing others to consider dialling it back down, should they so choose. I tell myself one can be casual/comfortable and still well put-together...at least that is the look I am aiming for...hah! I think it would be tiring to be dressed to the nines every day...OTOH, I kinda miss dressing up once in a wee while...

    Deb

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    1. I suspect the same thing---the first impression we're all trying to make.

      I'm obviously landed in a place where the women have had had very different life styles than me and their every-day clothes would be my dressing up clothing. I need to quit blogging about this topic lest everyone thinks I feel inferior when I'm just making observations to help me decide how I want to reincarnate myself with a new wardrobe next spring---part of my master plan for this move. I've been living in working class jeans and t-shirts, caregiver sweats and pandemic clothes for so long I've forgotten that I once loved fashion. And I'm enjoying the inspiration around me. In the end I'm sure comfort will still be the ruling force behind my purchases.

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  9. I generally put on paint stained clothing because I generally plan on either painting or doing something outdoors, but that wouldn't do in a CCC I can tell. Too many opportunities to step outside and be seen at my worst. Considering everyone there has reached 'comfort first' age, and we have become such a casually dressed society outside the corporate world, the thoughtfully well-dressed have become the outliers. She may become more casual as time goes on but her effort to remain 'put together' is undoubtedly heavily ingrained and there's nothing wrong with that either. Reading how first impressions might change will be fascinating blog material.

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    1. We had a fire alarm situation already at 7:00 in the morning so we got to see each other on the sidewalk in our mostly sleepwear, no makeup or jewelry. I of course had on my ratty bathrobe that I considered getting rid of just before the move. But I think everyone was too busy worrying about how they each looked to see what others looked like.

      Yes, first impressions have changed for t-shirt Tom already and that's coming up in another blog I just wrote.

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  10. The Parade of Pretty People! I'm so out of the habit of wearing makeup even knowing I look 20 years older without it. My clothes are all about the comfort but I no longer wear sweats. I wear black v-neck 3/4 sleeve and black boot cut leggings. If I want to fancy it up I add a scarf and/or a hat! COMFORT is my middle name.

    I love the names you are assigning to neighbors and staff. This is the most fun I've had since moving from Maui!

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    1. Skinny, little people like you can wear anything and look good. I will never, ever wear leggings, having seen them on over-weight people and hate how they look on them.

      I am probably going to end up looking like a L.L.Bean catalog. I already have coats, vests and sweaters from them and a few flannel shirts. I need mostly to spicy up my color palette and not be afraid to get rid of the older stuff in my closet for fear I'll run out of money to buy replacements.

      Not only to I have to remember real names here but also the names I'm assigning them. I started a cheat sheet that is never leaving my apartment.

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  11. Looks like you've settled in happily and are busy sorting the wheat from the chaff in your own head. You mayn't become friends with everybody but it seems you are well on the way to choosing 'people like me' for further exploration.

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    1. It's a lot like going back to high school and figuring out your social life. I want it all figured out like right now but I know it takes a lot of time...it does for me anyway.

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  12. I've been trying to leave a comment for ages, it never works.

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    1. You left three this time. Are you sure you're just not seeing that notice about them having to be moderated before they should up on the blog? I've done that a few times with other people's.

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  13. First I am not much in just hanging around,it hurts my neck............
    As long as you are comfortable and happy bugga everyone else, unless you're naked then nojust no....................

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    1. I think if anyone shows up here naked they would be moved down to the next building which is the memory care building.

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  14. The Fisher Body was a new one on me. I didn't understand initially. Now I can wait to share my new found information. Hum, how to work it into a conversation.

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    1. The Fisher Body Division of GM started with brothers from Germany who built carriages and coaches that horses pulled so the change over to making bodies for motorized cars was a natural. They family built carriages going back to Neapolitan Era and their logo was was always a classy looking Cinderella style coach. We used to buy and sell employee service awards with the logo...still have some to sell. They are dime size and the only thing I kept for e-Bay someday.

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  15. The more you write about your new place, the more interesting it is, on a number of levels. What amazes me is that you've been there for three weeks. It doesn't seem possible -- like seeing a youngster after an extended absence and realizing they've grown a foot. Is there anyone there who just wears jeans and shirts? Those are the ones I'd be looking for!

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    1. Yes, one of the ladies from my building always wears jeans and sweaters and we seem to run into each other constantly. I'm sure there are others but when you people watch---or I should saw when I people watch I seem to concentrate the ones who stand out from the crowd. I don't NEED friends to be happy here. I'll be content to find a few companionable people to chat with when the mood strikes me. I'll continue to have my deep, soul reveling 'talks' here in my blog.

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  16. When I first retired, I wore a more casual version of my teaching wardrobe. I still looked dressy to most people, probably. As the years have gone by, I've ditched a lot of that aesthetic and now I'm firmly in the black leggings and jeans camp with comfy tops and flat shoes, usually some form of walkers.

    I'd be making friends with staff, too. They make your life easier there, and it doesn't hurt to be nice to people who are in a position to help you out. (Not to mention the fact that it's just Common Human Courtesy.)

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    1. The staff here are all easy to like. And I'm amazed at how quickly they learned their jobs. Julie from the Love Boat was in the corporate world of financial planning before working here which is quite a switch.

      I don't blame people for wearing what was essential their work clothing. Professionals don't wear their cloths out traditionally. We had the same thing at the senior hall I used to belong to only here there are a lot more retired professional women here that out-number those of us who aren't.

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  17. Your new place really does sound interesting and I have a feeling that it will give you plenty to write about.

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    1. Oh, my gosh, I'll need to start blogging 3 times a week to write about all the interesting things going on

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  18. Well it certainly sounds like your are getting on typically for a new home and surroundings. I'm sure the well heeled woman may be in sweats come February. :-)

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  19. I bugged out of blogging for a few months and you're in your new place. I'm fascinated with how it's going for you. I'd never think to learn names either, until like you said, this is your new tribe so you'd better do it.

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    1. Ya, we're so used to going to restaurants, etc. where we might not return for months that it seems pointless to learn the names of the wait staff and cooks. And cleaning staff etc. Not true in my forever home.

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  20. I'm so glad you're safely there before winter sets in.

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  21. Sounds like you are having fun settling in and making acquaintences. Yeah, go to the parties for the food and occasoinally cheer for the home team...no one will be the wiser. LOL

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    1. A couple of ladies said that did that with our tailgate party and they had fun, didn't who won. The CEO is really into sports so I'm sure that wouldn't be the last party like that.

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