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, December 1, 2021

Weird Dinner Experience and Painting Class

 

I ran into weird situation that put me in a mini meltdown during dinner in the fine dining restaurant on campus. I’m getting used to having people invite themselves to sit with me or me with them but something happened last night that flustered me to the point I embarrassed myself, then tried to back-track so I didn’t hurt a woman’s feelings. But what about my feelings? Why don’t people listen to others when we say, "No thank you" so many times we sound like parrots in a pet shop? 

We were total strangers who ended up sitting across the table from each other and when her dinner came I remarked that I had ordered the cider chicken last week and it looked entirely different than what she was served. “How so?” she asked and I told her, “for one you got five times the amount of yams that I got and I didn’t get any of the dried apple embellishments on top.” 

I was wondering if the chef was reacting to complaints about not serving enough vegetables with his entrees or if someone else was plating stuff in the kitchen and I wish I’d said that out loud because the next thing I know she picked several of the dried apples rings off her chicken and was trying to hand them to me. “These are really good, try them” to which I politely rejected her more than five times before she handed them to her husband. Hey, I didn’t know where here fingers had been! For all I know she could have been expressing the anal glands on a gerbil before coming down to dinner.

Then she started spearing yams with her fork, a fork she’d had in her mouth already and she was putting them on my plate. “Take them. I can’t eat these all.” I panicked. “Please don’t do that! I don't want them," I said, my voice getting more demanding with each time I begged her to stop. She had eight cubes of yams on my plate before I took my spoon and started transferring them to my bread plate. I’d had enough of her pushing food at me. In my mind’s eye I could see cartoon-like germs about to jump off those cubes of yam and contaminate my sea bass.

“I can’t stand eating off other people’s plates or have them eat off mine!” I told her and everyone else within an eight foot radius. Call me a germaphobic if you want but swapping germs with a total stranger is not in my wheelhouse. Sure, if she had been a cute guy and it was 50 years ago and we were clearly headed toward a night of playing kissy-face I have shared food in that situation but that was then and this in now---whatever that means. I've even taken a few offered fries from someone I know well, but only if my fingers alone touched them. My husband and I never ate off each other’s plates---at least not after his stroke when I knew exactly where his one working hand had been and it wasn't under a water facet as often as it should have been---and this total stranger wanted me to stick food in my mouth that had her fork germs inside? During a world-wide pandemic no less!

Trying to explain my outburst I said, “It’s a childhood thing. I was punished at the dinner table for sharing food.” I didn’t mention it was the dog I was sharing foods with that I didn't want to eat and it was my brother who'd sneak food onto my plate that he knew I didn't like. I got caught, he never did. She snatched my bread plate full of yams off my side of the table and passed it her husband who then asked her if he could try a bite of her chicken. Shockingly she turned him down with a, “No, I like it too much.” 

There was a fourth person at our table. A woman from my painting class and we had a conversation about our last class before the couple joined us. She was upset with the teacher and says she’s not going back. When arriving at class she told the instructor she was expecting a call from a furniture delivery man, that she’d have to go let him in but would be right back to class after her new table was in place. When the call came and she got up to leave the instructor barked, “This is not a good time to leave! I’m teaching something important here.” She left anyway and who could blame her. 

When she came back the instructor ignored her and sat down at another student’s place and painted on her canvas for 15-20 minutes. I’d be livid if she done that to my canvas. That’s not teaching in my opinion. At one point she said, “It’s still your painting. I’m just moving the paints around.” Ya, sure.

When she critiqued my work, she said, “The side of your barn would be perfect if it was on other side of the building and not that one. It’s not dark enough. Remember the light ALWAYS comes from the right.” “Unless it comes from the left,” I said, not meaning to be antagonistic. It just rolled off my tongue. “No, remember the sun comes up from the east, so the light source is on the right side. Always.” “Maybe my light is coming from a sunset instead of a sunrise,” That time I did mean to poke the bear. She walked away shaking her head and I darken my barn's siding.  

To be fair, I'm not entirely sure if the instructor meant to say the east sun/right side "rule" applies to all paintings. It's more logical to think that she misspoke and meant just the canvases we were working. She did, however, plant doubt in my head about lighting rules so after class I looked through some art books and got reacquainted with the four basic light sources: back lighting, front lighting, form lighting and rim lighting.

That said, I need to once again post a disclaimer. I really do like this feisty Elf of a woman. She’s over 90 and speaks her “Truth” with conviction. Me? I have been known to panic with my Truth, letting my inner child's feelings get hurt (see top half of this blog entry). She also has me thinking art again and acting like a mouthy teenager and I like that. She’s also got what I don’t have---a great eye for mixing colors. It was amazing in an appalling sort of way to watch her turn my classmate's blue barn into a brown one. ©

47 comments:

  1. OMG! What's wrong with humans who can't take a hint. I often share with friends/family but I would be taken WAY aback by a stranger. UGH. Cooties! Especially in this day and age of germs and viruses.

    The painting with the little old elf sounds fascinating on the edge of frustrating. BUT at least you are painting again!

    Just love your posts, as always.

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    1. Yes, I would expect it's common to share food people wo live together like you do with your daughter's family but with strangers? Freaked me right out.

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  2. I am so with you in regards to not wanting to share peoples foods or germs. I had a melt down with my best friend once when she lifted up the bun of a sandwich to figure out if it was mine or hers. It was mine and I did not want to eat it, after she'd "manhandled" it!

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    1. I would have had the same reaction as you. But at least it was friend and you could jokingly slap her hand away.

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  3. Yikes. No, no, no. I would never let someone put their food on my plate with their already used fork. I'm with you all the way on that one. It's always crazy to me how some people just don't hear NO until you shout it. LOL. Loving your stories about the new place and your new neighbors and friends.

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    1. Ever since it happened I've been trying to figure out maybe eating off each other's plates was common in her household? But the way she treated her husband didn't jive with that theory. Another theory is she, too, grew up being forced to clean her plate/not waste food and that was her way to get rid of what she didn't want to eat. We're all in our 70s. 80s. and 90s. There are bound to be some weirdness going on.

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  4. Oh the joys of dealing with people randomly put together in the same place. Hopefully you are finding members of your tribe of people who you will chose to spend time with.

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    1. I'd still rather eat alone but that's not going to happen here with their 'cruise ship rules' as I call it. Last night for example, I started out with a woman in my building who is pretty down to earth but after we ate we got invited to the bigger table. I went, she went home. Those big tables groups are always random but usually fun and a better way to people watch than having just 2-3 at a table.

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  5. Here I was envying your lovely cafe. Didn't think about who one might be paired with. The long table sounds the best. More options.

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    1. This happened in the better restaurant, not the cafe' where the big community table is. And I do like it the best, just so much easier to carry on conservations because someone is always telling a fun story. Last night they got on the subject of how they met their spouses and their honeymoons. I didn't share but no one really notices in a big group like that.

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  6. My parents were like that with their food--it was their way of being loving and generous. My father was constantly offering "the best bite" of everything on his plate, even to our boyfriends/girlfriends. My mother now consistently forgets we're in a pandemic and still offers parts of her meal or dessert to us. Old habits are hard to break.

    Was your painting teacher an art teacher before, or is she just assuming the role at the residence center? It sounds like she wants everyone to be at the same point and is very Old School.

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    1. She's been teaching leisure time art classes since the '70s and has no formal training. She lives in the condo section of our campus and has been teaching classes at our sister campus for decades. I wouldn't take another from her but I am glad I took this one.

      I really do think the woman who shoved food at me was probably like your parents, but we are all old and set in our ways and her life experiences at the dinner table and mine were like oil and water

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  7. You were right to refuse her food. She should have asked first anyway and you could have said, "No, thanks!"
    You are so used to eating on your own, I can see why you might enjoy just sitting by yourself sometimes...

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    1. I do miss just sitting in the corner with my notebook and observing but that's not going to happen here. I will adjust, am adjusting and if I really want to be alone I'll just order my food to go. Lots of people do.

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  8. What is wrong with people that can't take a "no thank you" and just keep pushing through with what they want to do, regardless? That is so rude. Someone should be embarrassed but certainly not you, Jean.

    Yes, light comes from the right in the morning but only if you are facing north. I would have a hard time keeping it zipped with an instructor like that. ;-)

    Deb

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    1. I can give as good as I get in that class. I only wish I could have done that at the dinner table instead of panicking. I really do love the way the Elf of teacher carries herself. I've never been to Catholic school I picture the nuns there teaching just like she does.

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  9. Painting on someone's picture without their permission is not appropriate for a teacher. And of course the light is coming from whatever side you are working on because you are facing south -- or it's afternoon and it's already gone over the midpoint. Besides which, who the f cares. And as for the sharing food -- I'd MAYBE do it with Rick. MAYBE. But a relative stranger in a public setting. And I'd have a word with the chef, too. You are allowed to talk to them directly, aren't you? Or communicate directly? You should be -- you're paying enough. And no touching others' food -- ESPECIALLY in this day and age!

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    1. I talk to the chef several times a week. I'm one of those complaining about not having enough vegetables. He's a great guy, bought my dinner last night because I ran out of credit on my account the last day of the month.

      The painting teacher once made a comment that her favorite thing to do is to come back to the studio and fix student's canvases when she's all alone. Think about that one. When I feel confident about painting again, I'll take some classes at the sculpture garden close. For now she's keeping me in blogging fodder.

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  10. I find these stories so fascinating. I hope I never have to live in a situation like this because I just don't want to be around people all the damn time. Reminds me of cruising, of which I dislike immensely. I give you kudo's for doing this and for not yelling at her and she was shoving food at you or on your plate. My goodness! And the so called instructor is a bad one in my opinion. She can tell you it comes from the right but if you had said to me what you told her I'd laugh and say, that a girl. It's a paint class, it's not life or death. Let your freak flag fly and be proud and if you want the sun on the left go for it! It's the technique you're learning. So you paint a house with a purple roof, you won't see them in nature but it's your damn painting, paint what you will!

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    1. This place has been compared to a cruise ship quite a few times and we could do a lot worse when you compare this place with other places designed for senior living, where you have no controls over anything. I never thought I'd be living in a CCC either but without children to watch out for you when you're alone and aging it really makes a lot of sense. The good outweighs the bad. The bottom line is I didn't want to be at the will and whims of a hospital social worker should I be in situation where I couldn't go back home again, to a single family house. Even with my nieces in charge of me, they have their own families and might not be in a position to carry through when the time comes. You are with people as much or as little as you want here.

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    2. and hopefully not at dinner right? šŸ˜ I understand why one must chose this place and I may have to some day.

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  11. Apparently, the "food sharing" woman is out of her mind....or very rude. It sounds like she wasn't listening to you. Are you going to write a novel about your new neighbors?

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    1. She wasn't listening to me. But you have to remember we're all elderly and set in our ways, have earing problems, maybe even a touch of dementia. I don't pretend to know know what was going through her mind, but the whole thing freaked me out.

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  12. What the bloody hell.............
    Some people...............

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  13. I would have panicked too. Even it that was her at-home habit, she should know that isn't something you do with people you don't know. It's awkward when you suspect someone is trying to be kind or generous, but yes....the lack of awareness around simple interaction during a pandemic is sorta shocking.

    I hope you keep painting because you've been looking forward to it and have the ideal light. I envy you that. Don't let it bother you if she paints on your canvas. The beauty of acrylics is that you can wait 20 minutes and paint right over it. If you don't like the entire painting, you can gesso over it and do another one!

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    1. I do think she was trying to be kind...the food pusher. I'm going to be interested in watching her interact with others at a meal in the future.

      We are using oils in this class and I will be using acrylics in my apartment. I won't be sentimentally attached to this painting in class, but I'll have a whole $15 invested in it. The class was advertised as being 3 weeks long and when it was brought up that we won't be finished in three weeks at the pace we're going she said, "Oh, I don't go by that, we'll keep the class going until we finish the paintings." I'm guessing that will be be 2-3 weeks more. I don't want a painting of a brown barn so I'll probably leave it behind unsigned when the class is done.

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  14. Well, that was awkward. I'm not as much of a germaphobe as I should be, but I certainly would have been irritated when she kept spooning food on my plate. I can only assume that she came from a family that shared like she did. My sister and I share a taste sometimes but she's my sister, not a stranger

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    1. Yup, I'm going with the theory that she comes from a food sharing family. I know I didn't mumble my 'Please don't do that' and 'no thank yous' but she obvious was in her own little world of sharing.

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  15. That will teach you to not talk about someone else's food. OMG! I have a hard time opening up to new people because I have some weird reactions like that. Also, it sounds like you are too quick for your teacher. Have you always been a rule breaker?? :)

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    1. I'm not a rule breaker by any stretch of the imagination. But with any creative process there are no set rules so I didn't feel like I was breaking any. The teacher brings out the silliness me for some crazy reason.

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  16. I would have made my hands into a wall.

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    1. It happened so fast I didn't really have time to think about my reaction.

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  17. Expressing the anal glands of a gerbil...Ha! You crack me up. But I don't blame you, you never know if people wash their hands or not.

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    1. I don't even know if gerbils have anal glands like dogs do but I've had to do it on dogs. It sounded funnier on a gerbil.

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  18. I don't think you overreacted to Food Sharing Woman, even if a Deadly Pandemic wasn't going on, what was she thinking?! Yikes! I don't have germ phobias, but it's way too invasive for someone I don't know to assume it's okay to put their food on my plate without permission... I've not had people I know well ever do that, WTF?! That said, some Elderly folks do resort to doing things that small Children would do and don't mean it in any bad way at all... I've had more Old folks reach out and touch my Dreadlocks without asking... and even if they do ask to, it's a Weird moment, I mean, what do you say when it's just not okay that won't sound offensive, Right?

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    1. Remembering that we're all a bunch of old people with varying degrees of things like impossible control is something I need to keep reminding myself. Still won't keep me from getting creeped out from things like that but it will keep me from being too judgmental.

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  19. Your art 'teacher' may be a perfectly nice and accomplished woman, but that behavior has nothing to do with good teaching. I'd be out that door so fast I would have blown the sweet potatoes and apples right off that other woman's plate -- if she'd happened to have been in the vicinity, of course.

    As for potato lady: I can't imagine behaving like that. On the other hand, people develop their ways of being in the world over decades, and sometimes the downsizing before moving into a new environment doesn't include attitudes and behaviors.

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    1. It's fun to think we might have gotten up in the middle of a class and stormed out but in reality I'll bet you wouldn't have made that kind of scene any more than I did. It never even crossed my mind to leave. It wasn't as if she was whipping kittens. It's art. People disagree over art all the time and she's an old woman set in her ways, using an unfiltered tongue. I find her more amusing than abusive.

      Over the decades I've taken a ton of leisure time classes covering everything from photography to furniture repair and the instructors have come in all degrees of competency. I even taught classes in floral arranging in the leisure time program for adults. There is always something to useful to learn no matter what the teacher is like.

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  20. Here's to you saying NO when you mean it and to being a mouthy teenager when you need to. These people you deal with need to know your boundaries, and you're doing a great job of establishing them. Just saying

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    1. Thank you for saying that. We all have boundaries and when moving into a new community the need to set them seems to come at you from all directions.

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  21. OMG! Sounds like you need a partition to keep your plate safe from others. I can't imagine. Hopefully you'll not have to sit with them or have them sit with you in the future. Sit at a table for two so just you and your painting friend can chat. Or put your coat, purse or something on the other chairs to keep people from sitting down. What a weird and rude coupe they were. And, how rude of the instructor to be sniffy with your classmates. Am out blog walking today and spotted you on a mutual friends blog, so thought I'd pop in to visit. It's always fun to meet new bloggers.

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    1. Trust me, nothing works to keep people from inviting themselves to your table or you to their's. It's the cruise ship nature of the place. We're all new in a brand new place so I'm sure after we've all met each other we'll pick and choose more carefully or get our meals to go if no one is in the dining area we want to sit with.

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  22. OMG! I'm just getting to this post and gagging! That woman literally putting her food on you plate is disgusting! I'm so glad you spoke up and I would have likely also gotten up and carried my plate to a different table...or to my apartment! OMG! And I know you like your art teacher but whoa! She is way toooooo controlling for me! I'm doing alot of thinking about 'honesty' lately. It's a yoga thing (the ethical philosophy of yoga includes a practice of "refraining from falsehood". It is calling me to be more and more honest with myself and others and not "go along" or "white lie" my way through interactions. It's possible to be both kind and honest....and sometimes a firm boundary has to be set! I'm loving hearing about your adventures in living in your new community.

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    1. Picking up your plate and moving to another table would work if you weren't surrounded by people you see every day who'd turn you over to the gossip mill in a heart beat.

      Art class and the teacher yesterday was fun and I really learned some useful tips. She is controlling in her teaching methods but it also works for a few of the older people in class who don't seem to want to make a move on their own.

      The woman at dinner kept her word and didn't come back, and I saw her at dinner. She'd told the activities director to throw out her canvas.

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  23. Huh?? If you're facing a barn to your south, the rising sun would light it on the left. Your art instructor reminds me of a student who once got quite upset when I presented the class with a world map that had the south pole at the top. He insisted that, when earth hangs in space, the north pole "really is" at the top (as evidenced by photos taken by astronauts).

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    1. Isn't it funny how people can get a notion like that stuck in their brain ad not be able to see the logic in why they are wrong.

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