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, January 15, 2022

The Man in the Shower Stall

The day was filled with crisp sunshine---the kind that leaves strong contrasts between the blueish gray shadows and the sparkling brightness of clean, white snow that fell the night before. I was alone in the cafe` eating a bowl of cauliflower soup so I hardly noticed the pristine beauty outside the window. I was enjoyed a rare moment around my continuum care campus when I got to write longhand in my notebook, the way I used to do at the Guy Land Cafeteria. I could see a gathering of office workers out in the lobby but they didn’t bother me nor did the concierge lady sitting on the other side of a glass wall. The maintenance men were setting up chairs in front of the fireplace for the Resident Dialogue meeting. I came down for an early lunch so afterward I could nab one of the chairs nearest to the roaring fire before the meeting got started. It’s the warmest place I’ve been able to find on these fridge Michigan days. The high that day was 12 degrees.

Our CEO opened the meeting up with a joke about how in the military they’d call meetings like this ‘Pitch-and-Bitch’ sessions but he prefers Resident Dialogue which is better than what he calls our cleaning services around here which is Environment Services. Don’t think that didn’t have us all scratching our heads, thinking it had something to do with recycling. At the meeting we were introduced to a new cleaning lady who is actually a black guy in his mid-twenties, a handsome young man who looks like he could grace the cover of a fitness magazine and, no, I have not imagined him without his shirt on. I’ll save that fantasy for warmer weather. 

So there I was with that inappropriate thought about a shirtless cleaning guy tucked in the back of my head when out of the blue someone at the dinner table that night said she didn’t think the Environmental Service guy will fit in her shower. I was shocked thinking her mind had taken her deeper into Fantasy Land than I had gone but then she added, “He’s too big to get down on his hands and knees to scrub that floor.” After getting my head out of the proverbial gutter, my next thought was that she’s more delusional than I am because I seriously don’t think any cleaning person in a place like this is going to do corners and grout to satisfy a bunch of women who’ve been cleaning their own homes for 50-60 plus years. At the meeting a couple of people tried to talk the CEO into letting them clean their own apartments and knock $40 off their monthly maintenance fee but it was a hard ‘NO!’ to that suggestion. I wasn’t surprised. Call me paranoid but I’m guessing the mandatory cleaning service person also looks for old people issues that are signs of trouble ahead: hoarding, rotten food piling up, burners left on, use of candles or Voodoo Dolls, signs of rodents, bugs and pet neglect. Fine by me if Big Brother is watching. I didn’t move here to live off the grid which it felt like I was doing before with the lack of human contact I was getting.

Remember the campus pastor who was in my painting class and I wanted to nickname her Miss Labradoodle but I didn’t out of fear that readers who aren’t ‘dog people’ wouldn’t recognize that as a high compliment? Labradoodles are friendly and sweet and always eager to please so I named her Ms Angel instead. She spoke at the Residents Dialogue meeting about a weekly thing she's starting. 

It's a fifteen minute guided meditation that is centered on nurturing spiritual grown withing ourselves" and it's open to people of all faiths or "no faith if you're a searcher." A searcher? How’s that for a new label and canned answer for me to use when I’m asked the Dreaded Church Question? “I’m a searcher.” Ohmygod that woman could have me turning in my Agnostic Club card if I’m exposed to her often enough. Thankfully we don’t live in the same building because with the exception of her calling as a pastor I want to be just like her when I grow up. She reminds me of my dad, always willing and able to extinguish any negative energy floating about.

On our schedule today is a live-steaming event billed as ‘Keeping It Nuanced: How to Have Grace-Filled Political Conversations.’ I’d love to go to that but today is the first time in awhile that the temperatures are going to be high enough for me to venture out to the big box grocery store. Those temperatures in the teens and below are too hard on my lungs. So I’m off to where it’s going to kill me to buy a muffin pan and a humidifier because I had both before the Big Downsizing of 2021. ©  

45 comments:

  1. I think you're going to have to take a picture for us all of your new cleaning man. As I read this I don't think I would have ever thought of him being someone else to keep an eye on you. To be honest with you I'd like that. Not in a hovering way but who stops by and cleans and leaves. As you said the last two years have been isolating and you lived alone this is a good thing in so many ways.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know the photo isn't going to happen. There are rules about that...

      I think it's a good thing too, if I'm right in my paranoid. Why else would they insist you have to have the monthly cleaning by their staff. We can bring in someone else if we want it done more often but we have to have that monthly cleaning anyway.

      Delete
  2. Amen to your reluctance to venture out into cold air because the cold air makes it incredibly hard to breathe, and we both like to breathe, yes/no?? LOL I have Asthma and COPD, so my lungs are not comfortable with cold air. In fact, they tend to shut down on me when exposed to cold air! BTW, how was the Cauliflower soup?? Intriguing... did it have cheese in it?? Just curious because I love Cauliflower with cheese sauce.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had Asthma most of my life and used to be treated for it but it went away when my husband quite smoking and they banned it from public places. I'll still have an attack if I'm round it though. And cold air, like with you, bothers me. I've even started going through the underground parking to get to the other build on campus because it's heated.

      The soup was really good but no cheese. I'll have to suggest some shredded cheese on top next time they have it because it looked bland. They make the best cream soups here, especially their tomato and I've never really been a soup person before.

      Delete
  3. Oh, boy--a Searcher. That term does not work for me. I'm not searching. I suspect you're not, either.

    I'm still loving the whole Cleaning Service idea for you, and I'm not above being jealous. Now that I know you have someone who is good-looking doing it, too, I'm even more wistful. Sigh.

    I hear you on the humidifier. We have one on our furnace, but it seems weak. My skin and lips are parched. I'll have my live-in maintenance man take a look at it today. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm having a good time wrapping my mind around the idea that a man is a cleaning woman. Sure, guys have been cleaning public places like schools and office buildings for a long time but to clean houses and apartments? That's new to me and a lot of others around here. The poor guy better have thick skin because there are a lot of people here with unrealistic high standards.

      I hope the humidifier helps. It's so dry and cold around here. Others who've got them, say they they are helping.

      Delete
    2. I've always thought a Hot Guy wearing an Apron was Sexy... winks. As for Candles and Voodoo Dolls, um, they wouldn't be okay then? *LOL* To keep the CCC Safe and Sanitary for all I suppose they would need to find a discreet way to check in with how well a Resident is keeping up with basic things, for their sake and everyone else's. Perhaps it's how they identify and evaluate who needs to be moved to another level of Care too? Not everyone might be Aware of their deteriorating condition or too Proud to admit it?

      Delete
    3. I should have thought about you when I mention candles and Voodoo Dolls. LOL

      Considering how many times old people end up with the city condemning their houses because they aren't keeping them up do to mental illness or hoarding I think it seems reasonable to keep tabs on everyone. They can't move us out without our power of attorney's permission no matter what but they can lean on our POA's pretty hard with evidence that we aren't safe.

      Delete
  4. Just be careful who you say you're a searcher to or they will help you "search" far beyond your desires! I hope the environmental services guy wasn't there at the meeting. He might take offense. I'd love it if someone cleaned my space regularly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was there at the meeting, introduced to us and we were asked to go easy on him. LOL He used to work at their other campus so he's not new to the management and I'm guessing he's been told we (as a group) are hard to please.

      Good point on the "searcher" term. I need to think that over some more.

      Delete
  5. I kind of like the idea of the cleaning man not being optional. He can make sure the apartments don't get overrun with bugs but also like you said, keep an eye on everyone for health or mental decline. Besides, who loves to clean?
    Thanks, I tend to borrow "searcher." It makes one seem open but not decided.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do too. Even if I'm wrong about it being a part of his job description to spy on us, I'm sure if anything like hoarding or bugs or unsafe were going on anyone in that job would bring it up to the management.

      That was my first take on the term 'searcher' as well. I've never heard it applied in the context of religion before. This pastor is definitely all inclusive. I might actually sit down and have a private conversation with her sometime.

      Delete
  6. You and your descriptions of fellow inhabitants, employed or rent paying, are too funny. How would it be if you started a 'Daily Sketch' for some kind of media outlet? You'd have a fanbase in no time. (Weekly would do too.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You want to get me in trouble? I already fear someone on campus finding my blog. To do what I do for a media outlet where would get me found out and no good could come from that. I'm happy just blogging twice a week and having the freedom to write what I want to write without worrying that someone's feelings could get hurt if they see themselves in my words.

      Delete
  7. This cold weather gives me a sinus headache pretty quickly if I stay out too long. And the wind in my face is worse.

    My mom is in an independent living condo, and she has the same thing. Her rent includes cleaning, and she is convinced it's also to check up on people. Both for safety and to make sure the property isn't being trashed. I will say, her cleaning person isn't hot. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you told me that your mom thinks the same thing about her cleaning service.

      "Hot" is getting harder to find with everyone wearing masks. The other day one of the restaurant workers had his mask off on his last day on the job and he was saying goodbye to us (from a safe 10 foot away) and I blurted out, "Oh, my god, it's a good thing we never saw you without your mask on before! You're cute and everyone would have been bringing their granddaughters down to meet you." Yup my filter is shot!

      Delete
  8. Don't you expect he would ask residents what they want him to do because it's uncomfortable for them, and let them do what they prefer to do themselves? Who wouldn't love that? We'll be expecting a report after his first visit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's pretty much what residents expected of the first cleaning lady who was let go because she only did what was on the list given to her from management which was cleaning floors, bathrooms, counter tops and high up dusting. So many people complained that they had to let her go. I personally think their expectations are too high for a cleaning that is only supposed to last 1 to 1 1/2 hours long for a $40 value. With the first lady we were allowed to be in our apartments when she worked, now we're being asked not to be so there will be no telling him what to do or not do. It's a learning curve for those who live here to understand the details of what we're supposed to be getting and for management to learn what residents are not willing to accept.

      We can schedule a deep cleaning for an extra charge where they'll do well, deep cleaning or you can get your own service in addition to theirs if want more than the basics.

      Delete
  9. Yeah, I think "searcher" would just open the door too wide to people who would want to help you find the "right" religion if given the chance. How about "questioner" instead? (If I were really being truthful, I'd say "skeptic.) At least living where you are now, you probably won't get Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on your door like I do. Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my gosh, I used to get J.W's where I used to live. Never let them but even during our first covid lock down when they quit coming around they started mailing their literature.

      You could be right about the opening the door. What would I say if someone asked what I was searching for? They could think it's a church while I'd be thinking I'm searching for the meaning of life or if God exists other than by definition of God being Love.

      Delete
  10. At first read I thought the mandatory monthly cleaning seemed a bit invasive, but as you explained it I agree that it's probably a less-invasive way of monitoring someone who might be needing extra care and doesn't yet realize or doesn't want to admit it. So long as the cleaning staff doesn't change too often...if there is some continuity there they can see what your "baseline" is, and when it starts to change. "Searcher"? I don't like that term much...it leaves the door wide open to those who figure they can end your "search", right smack dab at the door to their faith (or cult, if you wish).

    Deb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was really surprised that so many people were dissatisfied with the first cleaning lady but I think the CEO will be doing some push back on residents if he gets the same kinds of complaints about the new guy. He'd worked on their other campus for a long time so he has a track record that is known.

      Okay all of you commenters have convinced me that 'searcher' is a bad term, too ambiguous. I'll go back to "No, long story" when asked the Dread Church Question. LOL

      Delete
  11. You're a searcher, huh? Like when you go to the grocery store looking for a muffin pan? That kind of searching? Stay safe, have fun

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See my answer to Badass up above. Searcher can mean too many things, can't it.

      I was shocked at how much muffin pans cost so I got some cheap aluminum foil ones that were probably a waste of four bucks, But I wanted to try to fresh muffins instead of slices of banana bread. I should go to Goodwill and if I can buy back my old pans that didn't think I'd use again.

      Delete
  12. Always something going on in your neighborhood! I agree ... go to Goodwill to get muffin pans. I'd go for a new humidifier since you wouldn't know if there was mold inside!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazon should be dropping off my new humidifier sometime today. I really didn't want one but it feels so cold in here and everyone says it's because it's so dry.

      Delete
  13. Well, when people pay a lot they expect a lot. I think it would be hard to find a cleaning person that everyone is happy with because everyone has a different level of expectations when it comes to a clean home. I think it is good to set a standard list for cleaning and people can fuss on their own or pay extra if they want something extra done. Your place is trying so hard to keep everyone happy it sounds like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. It would be hard to please everyone. I had a cleaning service in my other house so I know that $40 an hour is not a lot to pay and only one of the girls they sent actually cleaned corners, ovens or grout. We are supposed to just get the basics once a month and if you want more, you can hire more from here or anywhere.

      Delete
  14. I need a cleaner, and I do not know why that's the thought t hat comes to mind oh and wanting a muffin...........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They have the best muffins here but they are $2.50 so I got it in my head I want to make them again and freeze them.

      Delete
  15. Appreciate the continued insight into your new life. LOVED the photo you chose to illustrate this post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am hopeless when it comes to cleaning help. Years ago, I had a great big older home and decided to hire some help. I dearly loved the cleaning woman. She was conscientious and light hearted. My only problem was that I felt compelled to clean up before she got there. I didn't do everything, but I was embarrassed for her to see our dirt. Crazy, I know. The Pastor really does sound like a wonderful person. As time goes by, you will be able to tell if she's the real deal. I have a feeling she might be. $2.50 per muffin is a little spendy. Good idea to bake some for freezing. If you want to keep it simple, Betty Crocker muffin mixes are pretty darned good and quick to put together. Krusteaz also makes good muffin mixes. Hope you're having a good weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are right...in time I will have a private conversation with the Pastor here. She's older than me but not by much so I doubt it will be a death bed conversation. LOL

      I pick up a little bit before a cleaning person is do...empty waste baskets, pick up and put stuff away but I did it because it made the price for the cleaning cheaper.

      I've got a box of Krusteaz here to try. Like you recommended them.

      Delete
  17. I don't think some of those Residents have ever cleaned their own Homes, just a hunch. *LOL* My Mind went where you Mind went, Two Great Minds thinking alike, if a Stud Muffin was in my Shower, a Clean Floor and Grout would be furthest from my Fantasy. I think the words Polite and Political when it comes to discussions of that topic these days are probably never happening. That roaring Fire sounded nice, we have no burn days around here when it's finally Cold enough to have a Fire in our Wood Burning Fireplace, dammit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I can understand no burn days for outside fireplaces but never didn't know they ever did them for inside fireplaces. Some of the dry conditions out your way, I can see why though. Bumper.

      You could be right about a few not have cleaning experience but I'm not the only one who has noticed our new guy's muscles. One lady at dinner tonight remarked that he must work out.

      Delete
  18. I love Krusteaz. Their cinnamon streusel coffee cake tastes exactly like what my mom used to make when the ladies "came for coffee" circa 1955 or so. I broke down and got myself some oversized muffin tins that aren't double a regular pan, but more like 1-1/2 times the size. The muffins that come out of those are big enough that I'm not tempted to eat two, so I think I'm ahead of the game!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Comfort foods baked the easy way, you can't beat that! I want to get back into baking something on Sundays but I've been too busy lately. I used to use a lot of King Arthur mixes but you can't buy them in the stores and I haven't got much room to store them here.

      Delete
  19. Who could NOT read this post with a title like that!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I appreciate your sharing your experiences with us, and I agree, you don't want to be found out. What a mess that would be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could not write the same way if people here knew I write about them. My perceptions are my perceptions and may or may not be shared by others.

      Delete
  21. I would like a cleaning person to come by and help out now and again. With my daughter living here with me now she does help out too now but she works all the time so not as much cleaning as I di and I hate cleaning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I started getting a cleaning service after my husband passed away and I always say it was one of the best luxuries I ever gave myself. It was getting so it took me three days to clean my house, braking it up into sections but when I was young I could go it 3 hours. Only once a month was enough to keep the place looking good with only a little touch up from me half way through.

      Delete