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, April 30, 2022

Screen Doors and New Neighbors

Maintenance here at the CCC can be a two edged sword with one side sharper than the other. On the sharper side, the system for writing up service requests works well for those of us who are computer literate. With the exception of that time a maintenance man was on vacation and an office girl closed out the work order about my water without sending one of the guys around to check it out, I have no complains. And yet here I am finding something to get picky about---the dull side of the sword: They’re not good at giving us prior notice of when they’ll be stopping to do things.

This week I got an e-mail saying they’d be installing screen doors on our units starting next week, but two days later two guys showed up at my apartment with a box containing my screen door. I had just stepped out of the shower, had my hair wrapped in a towel and my heavy winter bathrobe was buttoned up to my neck so I said, “Okay.” I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of saying come back later because you get downgraded to the bottom of the list. They have their way of picking through jobs so they keep their tool carts in certain areas for as long as possible. Two hours late I had my brand new screen door in just in time to greet spring if it ever gets to my part of the world. 

Mine was the second one installed in the complex and the neighbor who got one that same morning wasn’t home when hers was put in. She was unset because “they didn’t put the screens in! What are we supposed to do? Call them to change the glass and screens twice a year? Are they going to store them for us?” I tried to tell her that the screen was self-storing and rolled up (like a window shade) at the top of the door but I wasn’t getting through to her. I might have through the same thing if I hadn’t looked at the door online before I ordered one and I understood what I was getting. Word to the wise for anyone who isn't already computer literate, get there while you can because even in places like this upper middle class Continuum Care Complex life is easier if you can keep up online. We have our own app the covers sixteen areas of our lives including phone directories for staff and residents, dining menus, pastoral services, Life Enrichment schedules and so on.

There is a woman who moved in two weeks ago that I swear is going to worry herself to death. She walks around with a schedule of what’s going on for the week in her hand that one of her kids printed out for her. She seems to think if she doesn’t find the right room for, say, an exercise class or she misses the dining hours that she’ll get punished or kicked out. She doesn’t grasp the concept that no one in charge of anything cares if we show up or not. The word 'independent' in the term 'independent living' seems to be a hard concept for many people to understand. All of us have friends and family who've asked questions making it clear they think we moved into something like the Witness Protection Program only for old people hiding out from scouts looking for residents to ship us off to nursing homes.

Anyway, if our new resident gets moved out it will be because maybe she should have gone directly to memory care and by-passed independent living. And maybe deep down that is what she fears? I sat next to her at our baked potato buffet one night and she asked me four times when I moved in. To be fair, most of us moved in together in October and it was hard to keep our back stories all straight when you’re trying to learn them all at once. She needs to relax and give herself time because there is no Litmus Test coming. Well, there is actually but there is only one question: Are we residents a danger to ourselves or others? But even if we are they can’t move us out of our independent apartments without the consent and full cooperation of the person/family member we named as our power of attorney. And people with money could in theory even hire  live-in or part-time caregivers if they didn't want to move on down the food chain of a continuum care complex. There is a business associated with our CCC that covers all kinds of stop-gap services if we need them but we don't have to use that one in particular company.

The new resident has a three year old Chocolate Lab that nearly tipped me over jumping on me and I’m not a small, frail woman. She has no control over that dog and if anyone gets kicked out her dog might be asked to leave if it hurts someone. Its owner just lets go of the leash when the Lab sees someone it wants to greet. It did a full gallop and a two legged bounce against me. 

Now that spring is here I’m seeing a lot of dog walkers, mostly from the surrounding community who like taking our road and walkways through our wooded property. I don’t blame them. It’s one of the major reasons I bought here---the fact that it's so dog friendly. Now that I’m settled in, though, and my raw grief over losing Levi is in the rear view mirror I’m 95% he was my last dog. Just the right dog would have to fall in my lap for that decision to change. 

I still missing living with a dog. You can’t have a dog in your life 78 years out of 80 without feeling like a part of you is lost. Heck, neighbors called me the Poodle Lady for years, the one who threw birthday parties for her dogs and taught them circus tricks. But I keep reminding myself that all my life I’ve had my own back yard and I didn’t need to walk my dogs. That changes everything in the grand scheme of growing older. ©

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Blinging on Art Supplies

Do all wanta-be artists and writers beat themselves up? Do we all spend too much money on new supplies thinking if we had just the right paint brush or a new book of inspirational quotes our mojo will come back from the dead? I signed up for a watercolor painting class here at the CCC. 

I hated working with watercolors in the past and I downsized all my watercolor supplies and books out of my life when I moved here. So don’t ask me why I signed up for one of those wine and paint afternoons guaranteed to help you produced a “fine” painting by dinnertime. Then the class got canceled at the last minute because only seven of us here at the CCC signed up and the instructor required ten. I guess she’d rather not work that day than to accept $140 for two and half hours of her life when she places a $200 value on them. I don’t know what to think about that. Yes, I do ---My first boss would had said, "A bird in the hand is worth more than two in bush."

I was a pouting, unhappy camper after the cancellation. I had myself all psyched up about that class, thanks in no small part to the posts of Jeanie at her Marmalade Gypsy blog. She’s been taking part in the Sketchbook Revival, which if I’m understanding it right is a daily prompt kind of thing to get your creative juices going. I tried to sign up for their free workshop but for some reason the sign-up link kept taking me to a 100 day course for $97, so I backed out. 

Then I got a bug up my nose and googled art subscription boxes and obsessed for several days over comparing them. You should see my Facebook page now because google apparently got a few cents  referral fee from every art subscription company on the face of the earth and my feed is filled with colorful art and free demonstrations. For once I don’t care that my online information is being tracked and sold. I’ve tried the DuckDuckGo search engine, by the way, that doesn’t track you but I don’t really like it because there are times I want to go back in my history and find a site I saw earlier.

Back to my art obsession: I ended up on Amazon and bought a medium-to-low priced watercolor set, some paper and a workbook designed to teach you watercolor techniques. I have visions of myself sitting out on my deck teaching myself to like watercolor and I have Jeanie to blame for that. Her work is so colorful and fun and playful that I decided I’ve always taken art too seriously. I’m going to teach myself how to play. I’m also a gadget person and I’m fascinated by the new-to-me water brush pens. The paint set and paper came and by Tuesday I’ll have the workbook so if all goes according to plan I’ll be famous by Saturday. Just kidding of course, but I’d at least like to be good enough not to be embarrassed by my explorations if someone walks by my deck and wants to see what I'm working on.

I did order an art box from a company that does single sales and subscriptions both and they sent me a half off coupon for being such a good searcher on Google, I’m guessing. I ordered a watercolor lesson on doing portraits. I may do an unpacking-the-box post on it like Deb from The Widow Badass does with her subscriptions to treats from around the world. It’s all her fault that I’ve wanted to have a monthly subscription of something. After reading her last post about Universal Yums I’ll admit I spent too much time googling food subscriptions. Funny thing, though, none of those searches resulted in my Facebook page getting filled up with ads for a monthly delivery of chocolates, cheeses or other goodies. Thank goodness, because apparently my willpower against buying stuff I don't need is at an all-time low.

Back in the ‘70s I once subscribed to a perfumes from around the world service. I still had one of the perfume bottles up until I downsized last year. I absolutely loved it but you can no longer buy. The bottle was empty but it still held the scent. I tried to google it and found people selling used bottles with varying amounts still left in the bottle and they wanted a small fortune for it. Evidently I was not the only person who loved that heavenly sweet perfume from India. I did a makeup subscription once as well, but I didn't see any, now, curated for old women. I loved and still do love getting things by snail mail.

After ordering the portrait box I took an inventory of all my art supplies and discovered I have pastels, acrylic paints and pencils sets curated for doing portraits. If I’m anything at least I’ve been consistent over the decades. No matter what I try I keep coming back to my first love---trying to depict people with words or paint. ©

Photo at the top is of a pastel drawing I did of my nephew back in my heyday of doing art --- late '70s, early '80s.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Two Plumbers, Two Swans and Two Mahjong Lessons

Two weeks ago I had four blog posts in my scheduler which meant I could take a breather to wait for something interesting to happen in the wonderful world of---wait, let me rephrase that. I’m old and I shouldn’t be waiting around for things to happen. I should be making them happen, taking control of my time instead of waiting to see if Suzy down the hall got her mole removed or to see if enough people signed up to go to the Navy Band Concert downtown. In truth I couldn’t care less about either of these things but I mention them because someone out there probably does want to know the full range of activities that goes on in a continuum care complex like the one I’ve been living in for just over six months now. I care more about the watercolor set and paper I just ordered from Amazon. Don't ask me why but my acrylic paints and I are are not on speaking terms right now and I'm hoping a new media will inspire me.

I’ve been thinking about doing one of those betting pools like you can set up at Baby Bookie or BabyHunch to guess when a human baby will arrive only with my pool the residents here would be betting on when the swans will hatch their eggs. The only reason I don’t make that pool happen is because my apartment is not facing the lake so I couldn’t pinpoint the exact date and time the cygnets will emerge from the eggs. Did you know it can takes 2-3 weeks for all eggs to be laid and only then will the incubation period begin and that lasts for next six weeks? That way the hatching will be synchronized. How the pair of swans decides how many eggs they want is a mystery but experts believed it has something to do with the abundance (or lack there of) food the nesting pair thinks they'll be able to gather to feed their family once they are born. Birth control based on a couple's ability to support their babies; what a concept.

What I do know for sure is that no one is supposed to go near the nest until well after the eggs have hatched unless you want to risk the wrath of mean-spirited parents-to-be. They aren’t like humans who are nesting and they want to show off all the neat baby gear they’ve accumulated for the big event. 

Have I mentioned I’m taking a class to learn how to play Mahjong? Today was my second lesson and we are learning to play by the National American Mahjong League Rules. From what little I’ve learned online the Chinese version looks simpler, and it doesn’t requirement players to buy new score cards every year to go with your set of tiles---sounds like a scam to make more money to me but I’m a total newbie so what do I know. Back when I was involved in the senior citizen hall in my old neighborhood they filled 8-9 tables of players once a week. But they weren’t friendly to newbies. They only offered to teach newbies once a year and then you had to sit and watch them play for x-number of games before you got a chance to be a sub unless they had enough newbies to form their own table. 

With the first lesson here, we had a table of five of us (two people pairing up as one player) and the instructor walked around the table approving or suggesting tiles to discard. I didn’t understand the combination I was trying to build based on the score cards in front of me and I kept trying to build poker hands with my tiles which, of course, didn’t mean jack diddly squat in Mahjong. Today’s game was easier because I’d done some research and studying online but it was still confusing until about half way through and a light bulb went off in my head. I ended up winning the game with a lot of help from blind luck. Who draws five jokers early in the game? Me that’s who and there are only eight jokers total. None the less I was so excited. I think I’m going to love Mahjong so in the future if you want to rob my apartment do it on a Wednesday between three and five o’clock. 

Remember the milk colored water issue I was having in my bathroom? The one where someone in the office closed my Maintenance Request without even sending anyone out to investigate. Last time I wrote about it I had gone to the CEO who sent a maintenance guy over who in turn wrote up another work order to get a certificate plumber to stop out. 

One morning two plumbers and a maintenance man stopped on their way to doing a bigger job. I was still in my long, chenille bathrobe and let me just say it was a good thing I remembered to use my exhaust fan before they showed up unannounced. That could have been embarrassing with the four of us all crowed in my bathroom. Turns out my apartment is the first one in the whole complex to get water from the city line and the day I got drenched with water, and the milky colored water started, was the day they put a booster in the line to increase the water pressure. 

They did some experiments and proved to me without a shadow of a doubt that the milky appearance is caused by microscope air bubbles and it's perfectly safe. If I don’t turn the faucets on full-force the water runs clear, if I turn them on all the way the water is milky colored. The milkiness in a glass does dissipate in two minutes but I think I’ll just get an opaque bathroom cup so I don’t have to remember not to turn the water on full force like I’ve been doing my entire life. Out of sight, out of mind. I've always had great water pressure, but the people on the third floor didn't thus the power booster worth a couple of grand was added which helped them but created the weirdness for me. Google University backs them up so I'm good now. ©

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Quirks and Rituals plus a Bedroom Tour

I’m a person who does better with routines but we’ve had this conversation before so I’ll move on to the topic of the quirks and rituals that seem to define who I am. For example, when I get up in the morning the first thing I do is pee which probably doesn’t vary too much from what you do. But do you then check the color of your urine to judge whether or not you’re drinking enough water? You can’t go by smell alone because if you’re smelling your pee you’re way past the point where you’re not getting enough water. Run don't walk to the nearest water faucet and stick your mouth under the running water. (That ends the Public Service Announcement portion of this post.)

Then I shuffle out to the kitchen to put my coffee pot on before shuffling into the den to start my computer. After drinking my allotted two cups of Trader Joe's or Starbucks for the day---that coincides with my computer time---I’m back to the bedroom to 'half make' my bed. I call it a ‘half make’ because I don’t pull the quilted comforter all the way to the top in case I want to lay across the bed to watch something on Netflix before bedtime. I don’t want to lay across the comforter because I love it and don’t want to wear it out. Having only one smart TV in the apartment influences my quirks and rituals. At my old house I didn’t have Netflix's or a smart TV to watch them on and I rarely had anyone drop by unannounced so my bed often went unmade. Here, I’ve had a half dozen or so ladies who've wanted to see my blackout shade combined with a translucent shade so I’ve had impromptu bedroom showings on the way home from a class or dinner. There are other occasions where I've had maintenance calls so I like to keep my apartment looking presentable thus I make half make my bed every day but Sunday.

I've never given you a virtual tour of my bedroom so this seems like a good detour to take here. The first photo below shows my 'half made' bed. The second photo is of my window (with its two shades) and smart TV corner and moving around the room to my bookcases. The desk in the next photo is one I refinished back in the ‘60s when I was hot and heavy into Early American décor. I used it to do all my writing on in the days before I owned a computer and I couldn’t bare to part with it. Now I use it just to hold my day planner. I have to walk past it each time I go to the bathroom so I have no excuse for missing what needs doing on any given day.

The last photo on the tour is at the top of the page and it shows a close-up of what's inside the white antique dental cabinet seen in photo with the desk. It's what's left of the massive collection of old and sentimental stuff I had in my old life. Some things are valuable while most are only special because of the memories attached. The funny thing about that stuff is when we had it (and much more) in a huge glass showcase visitors were always curious and spent time in front of that showcase, taking it all end and asking questions. Here, not a single person has even noticed the dental cabinet much less what’s inside. Who would have ever thought I'd miss show-and-tell time but I do. The next time my niece visits I think I’ll make her humor me while I show her my collection of radio and cereal premiums. You never know when the Lone Rangers' silver bullet ring will come up in a conversation and if it does she can say she’s seen one.

Another quirk I have is I am not using the garbage disposal. I had the one in our last house removed because I hate it. My husband had one in the house he had before we got married and he was always getting silverware chewed up and it scared the crap out of me that one day one of us would lose a hand because of that disposal. Here, I have a wire mesh sink stopper over mine and I keep my garbage in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until the night before the trash gets picked up at the bottom of the building’s trash shoot. Don’t tell anyone I do that! I make sure that any raw garbage I have isn’t mixed in with anything with my name or apartment number on it. Not that I accumulate much in the way of raw garbage since I don't cook much and I eat my main meals elsewhere on campus, but still it’s a dirty little secret I don’t want spread around.

Actually, not using appliances here isn’t all that quirky. I know of 4-5 people who have never run their dish washers and wash what they have by hand. Some say it’s to save on their electric bills, others will admit that you need a degree in Modern Technology to run the damn thing. I have the manual bookmarked on my computer and have to refer to it from time to time because my hips reprogram that touchy key pad on a regular basis. Yes, yes, I know I can lock the program I prefer into the dish washer but I'm only willing to learn so much, not to mention I accidentally locked my oven door playing with its program and it took me a half hour to figure our how to deprogram that mistake. And have I mentioned that bringing up the washers and dryers around here is a sure way to liven up a conversation because they are not user friendly models and they take forever and a day to run cycles. Others here don’t run their stoves or microwaves because the planners with their charming excuse for wisdom didn’t have the foresight to get easy-to-use appliances with less bells and whistles for the demographic they were building for. 

I have more rituals and quirky things to write about but my bedroom tour ate up too much of my word count to share them now and it's just as well because as a post topic it turned out to be a rather dull topic to write about. Can't help it. As the ancient Scottish proverb so gleefully declares, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. ©

Saturday, April 16, 2022

From Going Blind to Jigsaw Puzzles and Gritty Netflix’s


The Association of the Blind put on a presentation at my continuum care complex. I’m not in danger of going blind anytime soon but knowledge is power and my threshold for boredom is pretty low which is why you’ll find me at most of the informational experiences offered on this campus. You can always find something useful and this time I learned about these things called ‘Bump Dots.’ When the woman talked about how putting these tiny rubber dots on things like stoves, washers/dryers and electronics can help the blind I knew I wanted a couple for my microwave. That sucker has a black panel that is hard to read unless you have a flashlight in your hand. I happen to have a card of ‘Bump Dots’ marketed for another purpose---for the the bottom of vases and things you don’t want to scratch the tops of your furniture---and the minute I got home I dug them out. Well, not the same minute, I had to pee first but you don’t need to know that. I can’t believe that two little dots on my microwave have made so much difference. No longer do I need to keep a flashlight handy just to heat up some water for a hot beverage or to heat up my bean bag/foot warmer in the microwave at bedtime. (And aren’t we all glad the beanbag season is almost gone.)

The community jigsaw puzzle table has been entertaining since it arrived 2-3 weeks ago, but not for the reason you might imagine. It’s been bounced around to different locations Goldilocks and the Three Bears style. One room was too cold, another too far off the beaten path and the just right place in the lobby, the marketing director didn’t like. She was cagey like a fox and went to the CEO to get it moved yet again. But as the concierge correctly said, “If there’s ever going to a protest march on this campus it will be over the puzzle table.” Six of the puzzle workers went to the CEO in mass and told him the marketing director doesn’t live here and shouldn’t have a say it it. Not to mention they’re marketing this place to people over 55 and old people like to do jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle went back to the lobby.

But that wasn’t the end of the puzzle drama. We finished one puzzle and Mr. And Mrs. Matchy-Matchy started another puzzle only they started it with the top of the puzzle running along the side of the puzzle table so it’s hard make any sense of what you’re looking at and they laid out all the pieces to one side of the of the border pieces instead of on both sides making it hard for anyone but them to work on it. One of them sat in front of puzzle-in-progress and the other stool blocking all the pieces. With the first puzzle we could get five people around the table working together. I don't know what to think about the group puzzle experience. I also just found out that someone took a puzzle piece home so he could have the satisfaction of putting the last piece in place. With the second puzzle, two people did it. Someone needs to remind them they're not twelve years old. And once I was standing with a piece in my hand when another resident took it out of my hand and said she knew where it went. She didn’t. Why did she have to have that piece when there were 500+ others on the table to choose from? It's one of the old people mysteries I can't solve except to say I'm wondering if a community puzzle is bringing out some long, lost sibling rivalries.

On to my latest Netflix obsession. If you liked the gritty, character driven series In the Dark you’ll probably also like Hap and Lenard. It’s based on Joe Landsdale’s book series by the same name. It’s set in East Texas in the late 1980s and I’ll quote a Salon article to describe what it’s about. “Hap is a former 1960s white radical and hippie. He is best friends with Leonard, a black gay Vietnam veteran who is also a Republican. Together in their small corner of the world they try to do the right thing in keeping with their own code of honor about respecting the human rights and dignity of all people. The television series and novels are compelling on a number of levels, but what is perhaps most striking is the authenticity of the relationships between the characters and how Lansdale's humane values shine through in what he describes as his Southern noir-influenced 'mojo' style of storytelling.” 

I will add that Hap and Lenard became friends in early childhood after a drunk driver killed both their fathers. Honest to God, some of the seedy situations they get themselves into had me sitting on the edge of my bed in the wee hours of the morning more than a few times. It’s not a series everyone will like, but if you like crime/thrillers you might want to try Hap and Lenard. It got canceled during the Trump administration when racial tensions heated up and the show became too hot for Sundance TV. A good article about it can be found at the web address below. For some reason the Bloggers platform isn't allowing me to embed the link today.   ©


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Mishap Month, the Milky Water Mystery and War


April 5th I had an appointment card in my hand, written by a receptionist at my internist’s office that said my appointment was for 1:00 on Tuesday April 5th. It was 12:30 and I was trying to register on their stupid, self-serve check-in computer which wouldn’t let me past the screen asking if I was a walk-in or if I had an appointment. Finally, the girl whose job it is to check on the five of us trying to register, to see if she can speed things along came over to help. She says the system doesn’t show I have an appointment. Duh, I knew that much already and she asked me to step over to another computer where she verified that I’m not on the books until the next week, the 12th at 3:15.

“I didn’t make that appointment,” I said, “I haven’t made an appointment for anything after 2:00 in over 20 years. “Do you want to cancel it?” “No, I need my yearly physical in April!” Changing it would have delayed it several months to get on the books again. She offered no apology or explanation for how my appointment got screwed up. Even showing her my appointment card didn’t lay a little guilt trip at her door. I was the victim of multi-tasking, I’m sure, but she acted like I was just another old person who showed up on the wrong day. If she cared that I’d have to psych myself back up again to get half naked in front of my doctor, she didn’t show it. And that twig of a girl wouldn’t care if that late afternoon appointment adds extra bloat pounds to stand next to me on the scales. I can only hope that late time slot doesn’t also shave a few IQ points off my brain because this is the hour long physical that includes the infamous set of Medicare questions.

Meanwhile on the home front I woke up one morning, turned on the faucet in the bathroom and got completely drenched down the front of me. It wasn’t long after when I discovered that the water coming out of the tap looked like 2% milk. The rest of the day I worn my Nancy Drew Mystery Solver hat and investigated the situation. Milky water was only coming out my master bath faucets and five of my close neighbors weren’t have any issues with being reminded of Bessie the Guernsey when attempting to brush their teeth or wash their faces.

The following morning I filed a Maintenance Request and asked if they could take care of it sooner rather than later because I’ll be using bottle water in the bathroom until the water runs clear again. Two days later I got an email saying that it was "coming from the city municipal and the power booster" (that the complex added over a month ago to a building I don't live in) and the anonymous person answering the request closed it! I don’t get mad often but that dismissal ticked me off. I knew from a google search that it was probably from air or a broken aerator in the line and was safe to use and far less likely it was c-zone disinfectant the city uses but either way I shouldn’t have been blown off like that. So I marched myself down to the CEO’s office and asked him who I see about a response to a Maintenance Request that I’m not happy with. “You can tell me,” he replied. So I told him my sob story from the start to finish and he promised to call their city contact and their plumber and get back to me. 

The next morning the maintenance man I love stopped by to see my milky water, take a photo of my faucets and to try a simple fix that the plumber suggested. But it didn't work, so a new service request got written up and bumped up the ladder for the plumber to get involved. The saga continues...

All things are relative and my problems are minuscule compared what the people in Ukraine are dealing with. I haven’t written about what is going on over there because, like everyone else, I’m frustrated and angry that something like this is even happening right before our eyes. I don’t even want to call it a war because it’s actually an invasion with the occupied country forced to fight back and its going to rival the Holocaust if something isn’t done soon to stop Putin. 

But what can any of us do personally while sitting in our well-cocooned and privileged lives other than what I’ve done already which is to wring my hands and make donations to humanitarian groups working over there: The International Red Cross, The International Humane Society, The World Kitchen and Doctors Without Borders? 

I see the worry here at the CCC whenever the topic comes up which isn't often because someone always shuts it down as being too "depressing." "Can't even watch the news!" is a common refrain. Ya, I get that. I'm good at avoidance too. Then the avoidance makes me feel guilty wondering if this is the way those who sat by watching the Holocaust unfold felt at the beginning. At times like that I ask myself again and again, when is empathy not enough before we invite WWIII to our own doorsteps? Do we only care about the inhumanity and atrocities others commit when they come for us? 

On the other hand, is it more humane to sacrifice Ukraine like a virgin thrown into the eye of a volcano to save the world from Putin starting a Nuclear Winter that will kill the entire planet? He's already sent unprotected Russian soldiers into the radioactive dust in Chernobyl's Red Forest only to get sick and track it farther outside of the hot zone. Why? Why do any of the old men with power want more of it when they could retire and live happily after on a tropical island? He doesn't care about his own people, he's unpredictable and has no soul. I would hate to be one of the world leaders right now as they debate and struggle to weigh all the difficult responses to Putin.  ©

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Lady Shoutsup Meets American Baseball

I shall call myself Lady Shoutsup for this post…to set myself apart from the notorious Lady Whistledown of Bridgerton and author of the Whistledown Society Papers, a scandal sheet of the first order not unlike an episode of Gossip Girls. Or so I’ve been told.

Commencing forward, “the social season is upon us” as Lady Whistledown would say. Only instead of writing about which debutante dallied in a dark corner with a gentleman at the last soirée I’ll be spilling the beans about the coming baseball season as it was celebrated here at the continuum care complex.

Summer in Regency-Era London is, of course, a far cry from watching professional league baseball in the U.S.A. In London all eyes and ears were trained on the virtues the lovely ladies of the court with all it’s drama and glamour where as fans of baseball will be comparing and measuring and singing the virtues of who can hit and spit the farthest. And while Lady Whistledown might be watching to see which young woman is stuffed so tightly into her lace-up corset that she passes out or that her nipples pop up above her dress in the season's first infamous wardrobe malfunction, Lady Shoutsup on the other hand will be watching to see if any of those Tight Buns of Baseball have pantie lines. Are they called pantie lines when a guy has them? Seems like there should be a more masculine term for evidence of tighty whitie or boxers or---gasp!---just a jock strap. 

At the continuum care complex it’s become a popular custom to have theme buffets on Tuesday nights. Staffing in the food industry is so shorted handed now and as much as Lady Whistledown would mourn the fact that the world at large has dismissed the idea of having butlers and footmen lined up to take those once coveted jobs in The Service, it’s safe to say those days are long gone. The pity. As Lady Shoutsup I would have loved to get my Tuesday night stadium style hamburgers, brats, chicken, potato and pasta salads and chips served by a guy dressed up in fancy-dancy livery. 

But atlas the buffets are self-serve. We do have a tall, very dark and handsome guy who wears a black chef’s cap and a side buttoning, black culinary arts shirt who tends the chafing dishes. I would never admit this but Lady Shoutsup would tell you that the first time I saw this young guy without his pandemic mask in place I embarrassed myself by blurting out, “Wow, you’re really cute!” He’s got a wide white smile, deep dimples and a rich voice and the elderly ladies here all love him. He's also good at his job; we've burned through a lot of so-so servers since I've been living here.

But of course a ballpark themed buffet is not a Débutante Ball and the only bit of gossip this author found at the event worth sharing was a conversation over-heard where one of the residents was telling a story about when she was helping her mother pre-plan her funeral. "Do you prefer a burial or a cremation?" the woman was asked. Apparently the mom didn't like either choice and finally declared, “Oh, just surprise me!” 

The real Débutante Ball took place here on Friday in the form of an Opening Day gathering to see the Tigers playing at Comerica Park and you can be sure that Lady Shoutsup was at this viewing party and the happy hour in the bar afterward. And what an exciting ninth inning it was for the Tigers win! As you may recall last year I tried to teach myself about the game but because of the pandemic I had no one to share the experience with. 

I’ve never been to Comerica Park and I'm not sure I’d actually want to ride across the state to see a game in person, but Lady Shoutsup dug up the tidbit that they've introduced something new this year. A traditional food in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where it’s a mortal sin for a traveler not to have a pasty before leaving the area. This season Tiger fans can get a Coney Pasty (crust stuffed with ballpark frank slices, coney sauce, mustard and diced onions), a Polish Pasty (crust stuffed with cheddar and potato pierogis, grilled smoked sausage and sauerkraut) or an Apple Pasty (tender apples and cinnamon baked in rich, flaky crust.)

Well, dear readers, it's time for Lady Shoutsup to quit playing with words but not before revealing that this blog owner is mourning the fact that she just viewed the last episode of Downton Abbey. While the ending was satisfying and wrapped up all the loose ends, there's no coming back from leaving all the couples destine to live happily ever after, no end of season cliffhangers. No who shot J.R. And now if you'll excuse me I have a pot of tea to prepare. All kidding aside, have you tried pouring coffee the way the English pour their tea, by putting the creamer in the cup first? It makes a surprising difference. ©


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Queen of Denial

Three times over the past few days I’ve developed an alarming brain fart, I’m calling it. I was sitting with fellow residences and I kept getting their names reversed. For example, I called Diane ‘Linda’ and Linda ‘Diane’ and once I said “hi Tom" knowing full well his name is Jack. (I kind of wish Tom's name really was Jack because Tom is an ass and Jack-the-ass has a better ring to it than Tom-the-ass.) The worry wart in me thinks I could have had a TIA. I had them before back in my 40s before I started getting treated for high blood pressure. 

This time I’ve had no other symptoms of a transient ischemic attack so I’m not hurrying off to the ER where they’d run tests to check for one side weakness, vision problems and slurred speech. They’d spend hundreds of dollars doing brain scans just to say, “Yup, you had a TIA. See that little spot on the film. That’s it.” In my 40s I had 4-5 TIAs before I finally went to the doctor to see why I was having trouble picking up my foot. Ya, I know I should have known the signs back then but no one ever hailed me for being the brightest color in the Crayola box.

One time a neurologist I'd gotten to know pretty well was showing me scans of my husband’s brain and I asked him what happens when someone who is dyslexic and left-handed has a stroke? "Do the neurons that are scrambled since birth un-scramble?” It was a feeble joke and I expected him to give me throw-away joke answer but instead his eyes lite up and he said, “There isn’t much research in that area. It would be an interesting study but hard to get funding for and it would probably turn out that things would just get scrambled more.” Thanks, doc. That’s just what every left-handed, dyslexic person wants to hear.

I do a lot of things to exercise my brain but I do next to zero to exercise my body. There is a woman here who does just the opposite. She says it’s her job to stay healthy and she's out walking in all kinds of weather, takes all the exercise classes on campus. My husband’s cousin who I sat next to at a party in March also took great care to eat right and exercise daily and 2-3 days after I saw her she dropped over dead from a massive stroke. It should have been me. She was thin, had no known medical issues, didn’t even have a piece of birthday cake because “sugar is bad for you.” I consume empty sugar calories nearly every day. I'm far from thin and I sit too much. I say again if you didn't hear me the first time, it should have been me. 

There’s another woman here who is a party machine, always ready for a good time but she constantly talks about how she’s not going to be around in six months. She’s not sick nor does she have a medical condition to base her prediction on. She says that based solely on her age. I finally told her to stop talking that way, that she was going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” I truly believe the brain is powerful enough to do that and since we’re all about the same age, I don’t like hearing someone say we’re all on a six-months timer. There are lots of ways to face our own mortality, aren’t there. Denial is my personal favorite.

When we’re young we don’t think of our lives in terms of our own mortality. In truth I never thought about of death at all until my mom died. I was 41 but I never had grandparents to act as training wheels for how to let go of a loved one. I took it hard. Over the next few years I tried to hold on to her by taking up Mom’s genealogy research and with the help of the internet I took it to heights she could not have imagined back in the ‘80s. Then I wrote several books about our family history. If you’re in a history book you’re immortal, right? Or so I thought.

But it doesn’t work that way, does it. Books by average folks fall by the wayside and only the extraordinary stand the test of time. The best we can do to achieve a sort of immortality is to contribute to the pool of goodness in the world and hope together we can keep civilization moving in the right direction toward a better world. A couple of us had that philosophical discussion here at the continuum care complex. It was interesting because we didn’t even agree on how to define “a better world” which is a good indication of how hard it will be to achieve one. Going back to '50s values where anything bad in society was swept into a dark corner was not acceptable to some of us; others thought the openness of talking about the ills of society like we do now only breeds more of the same.

I thought I’d written about immortality back in the days when I was doing my tongue-in-cheek Sunday Sermons but doing a search of my blog I couldn't come up with anything. So I'll leave you with another meme that pretty much sums up the key to finding immortality and points out why I'm so screwed out of any hope of achieving it.  ©