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

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Fashion Shows and Petty Annoyances

If you are reading this it means I survived being a model in my first ever fashion show. When I got the email looking for people here at the continuum care complex to wear purple and walk a runaway for Alzheimer's Awareness Week I replied within minutes---before I could change my mind. It was not something that was on my Bucket List. In fact I’ve pretty much avoided fashion and truck shows all my life. But I had recently bought a long, purple kaftan, not knowing when or if I’d ever wear it so doing the show for a good cause seemed like fate was pulling the strings of my life.

I was excited about it until at dinner last Saturday when a woman I really don’t like said, “I hear you’re going to be in a fashion show and that you had a dress fitting today.” I’d only told one person so I knew where the gossip came from but I was taken back at how an off-handed remark at the elevator got twisted so out of shape. I was on my way to buy a new bra to wear for the show and I mentioned that to a neighbor coming back from shopping. I’ve had blood-boiling conversations with my accidental dinner companion before and I sat there trying to decide whether it was her or the elevator lady who twisted buying a bra into a fitting for the dress. I decided it could have been either one. Elevator lady gets confused easily and Dinner Lady is like vinegar to my oil. I pouted half a day over her taking the joy out of doing a ‘larky thing’ like a fashion show and I wondered how many others would be surprised when I showed up in kaftan when rumor has it I was getting fitted for a dress. Yup, “Jean is wearing a tent,” I imagined the run away announcer say, "especially fitted to her plump body."

Vinegar Lady rubs me the wrong way with petty stuff like her oh so prefect table manners and vast knowledge of proper British and Downton Abbey decorum. For example, we had dinner rolls at the table but no bread plates to put them on and the waitress was stretched too thin to catch her attention to get one. So I decided to just butter the roll and balance the bread on my butter plate. When I told her what I was about to do Vinegar says, “If this place were truly the fine dining experience they advertise it to be we’d have table cloths and then the proper place to put bread is right on the table cloth.” Good to know---just not in my world where table cloths and red wine are not my friends.

She also eats with her folk upside down and only cuts one piece of meat at a time which I googled to find the origin of doing that, having seen very few people in my lifetime eat that way. It actually made sense that by holding your folk upside down to cut then not turning it over to eat the bite on the fork that your elbow doesn’t stick out which makes it less likely to bump into someone sitting next to you. For a leftie like me that could actual be helpful and for a bonus point it supposedly looks more graceful. The next time I had meat to cut I tried the upside down fork thing but I reverted back to the way I was taught in a high school etiquette class in the ‘50s. My table manners are just fine except when I eat with Vinegar and she makes me feel like a bowl of volatile oil ready to burst into flames.

Besides her impeccable table manners she talks so soft I can barely hear her even with my new hearing aids. And she talks a lot, always telling about this place or that place in Europe and the doings at her church---she’s one of the ‘Catholic Kids’ who goes every day. When she gets interrupted by a waitress or someone stopping by our table to say ‘hi’ no matter how long the interruptions she always starts back in with, “As I was saying before the interruption…” If she were a husband I’d divorce her on that annoying habit alone.

I did try to not get paired for dinner with her, went so far as to tell the hostess who does all the seating charts to never put us together again. The hostess did try but twice Vinegar came in and decided to sit with me because I was there and her assigned table mate wasn’t. I didn’t want to put the hostess in an awkward situation so I whisper told her that it was okay. 

I feel like a cranky old woman when Vinegar is one-on-one with me and I keep thinking I’m putting out the same negative vibes I’d be putting out if I was having dinner with Hannibal Lecter. Apparently I’m not but I’ll bet I’m going to hell in a hand basket for being so such a petty person. Who gets their panties in a wad over minor stuff like this?  

The fashion show was fun. I decided if I was going to do it I was going to camp it up, play the game. It even gave me a chance to wear my old silver charm bracelet because I needed to have something to cover up the wide white band of skin that didn't get tanned under my smart watch. ©

62 comments:

  1. A caftan is very stylish. Good for you.

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  2. Good for you for participating in the show!

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    1. We had a lot of fun camping it up and afterward a dozen of us hang around and talked and laughed for a good hour, until they needed the room for a line-dancing class and had to kick us out.

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  3. Possibly not your intention, but you have convinced me that there is now way in h#ll a CCC is in my future. It sounds too much like junior high . . . not a period I would ever willingly revisit.

    A 55+, possibly.

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    1. I would have said the same thing four years ago until I realized how lonely I was living alone and I was trying to keep up a house I dearly loved. Then the pandemic came along and drove the message home. After the fashion show when a dozen of us sat around talking one of the ladies who is new asked us if are happy here because her family moved her in without telling her they were doing it. Naturally she's disorientated. Other than her all of us ARE happy here. We know that we will not end up in a substandard nursing home because those are the only ones with bed available when the need comes. We have a ton of interesting things to do here...or not. One woman with seven children says the CCC concept will save her kids from going through the arguments of what to do with mom if and when she can't take care of herself. A lot of my fellow residents have said something similar, There are also a fair amount of people like me here too, who don't have kids and we don't want some social worker who doesn't know us end up making decisions for us. Ya, you can think you lined up a power of attorney who can act for you but then the time comes maybe that power of attorney will have her or his own issues to deal with.

      People are people no matter where they're at in life---in high school, in a CCC, the PTA or a social club, etc., etc. People gossip. People misconstrue things and people like me who are insecure at times get their feelings hurt through no one's fault but her own. Please don't judge the concept of continuum care complexes on my experiences alone because that would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water. There are a ton of great things going on in places like this. People stepping up to help one another , showing kindness and compassion. If I chose only to write about what just the good stuff going on I'd sound like Mary Poppins and that wouldn't be real. I am a flawed person as we all are. I write diary style. My experiences will not be universal.

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    2. I am really happy to hear about your experiences at the CCC since I'm trying to figure out what to do myself in the future. Thanks for everything you write.

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  4. All smiles here... I actually love that kaftan! I've never been in a fashion show, but have bought clothes from one -- once! LOL Isn't it funny how some people just rub you the wrong way?? As for "Vinegar lady", I think I'd have to be a bit nasty and say something like, "I'm sorry, but I'm saving all of the seats at this table for friends who are expected any minute." (or something to that effect--thus cutting her off at the pass!)

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    1. That didn't work because the hostess did say that to her. I've decided to just may my reservation for a half hour later this Saturday and see if that works out. There are only about twenty of us who eat in the dining without a family member as our guests so we get seated together according to the times we asked for. So that might work. Fingers crosses. It is funny how certain people---perfectly nice people who do good things in the community---can rub you the wrong way. At my age I'm making it a hobby to figure out why.

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  5. I'm glad you had a fun time in the fashion parade and hope everyone enjoyed your catwalk style, even Vinegar! I suppose there are always a few difficult people in such a large lifestyle complex, even in my group of friends I have to sometimes zip my tongue and it seems more difficult now than it used to be. It would be very annoying having someone so perfect with her manners. Here in Australia, we were brought up to use our fork in left hand and knife in right hand, but notice it's different in other countries where the fork is used mostly in right hand. I have a silver charm bracelet too, so will start wearing it again, as the charms all had a memory of where I bought them.

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    1. Vinegar woman wasn't at the fashion show. She does a lot of outside activities with her church family so the only real time I see her is a meal one or twice a week. In the cafe` we don't have seat charts so it's easier to avoid her. And at a table with others included I can tolerate her better.

      I'm left handed so my fork is in my left hand but most people here use their right hands.

      It was fun having an occasion to wear my old charm bracelet.

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  6. Glad you enjoyed the modeling experience. What little attention I pay to the fashion world I've had the impression they're waking up to feature models of different sizes as it should have been all along -- all heights, weights, shapes and sizes. So, you are taking the movement forward in an age group that may have some who are slower to accept new trends. Do you think maybe you might want to stop second-guessing what others may or may not be thinking or saying if you're going to let it take the fun for you out of what you are doing?

    As for your Vinegar Lady, fwiw eating as she does. cutting one bite at a time can be a technique some people learn for various reasons, also sometimes taught in swallowing therapy to slow down their eating. Can also be what some do for wt control as people generally eat less. Of course she may have learned it for other reasons. I always counseled people with hearing loss, aided or not, if they had difficulty hearing someone, including soft speakers, it was their responsibility to share that information 'cause otherwise the person won't know to speak louder. Of course, maybe you don't want to hear all she has to say. ha

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    1. Interesting question you asked at the end of the first paragraph. I may have to write an entire blog post about that.

      Vinegar Lady loves the British Empire and all things to do with the Royal Family and I'm pretty sure that's why she loves talking about and doing 'correct' table manners. I have told her repeatedly that I can't hear her angel soft voice but she makes no attempt to project. It stresses me out trying to lean in to hear her and to react appropriately to what she is saying and do it for an hour and a half through a meal.

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  7. First of all, I just love your new purple caftan! I've been shopping for some online because they look so comfortable and come in so many colors. I live in jeans, shorts and t-shirts, but sometimes I'd like a change. I'm proud of you for taking part in such a worthy cause. Alzheimer's is a devastating disease and I'm guessing most of us have been touched by it. Poor Ms Vinegar. She must be one miserable woman. I used to have a neighbor whom I really tried to like and befriend. It was hard work!! She always saw the negative side of things and was hyper critical. It wore me out. I was actually relieved when we moved from that town. There's probably a good reason why people act that way, but they sure do rub off on others, and that's not good!

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    1. I got that Kaftan on Amazon and it was cheap. It washed beautifully though, I had to do it before wearing it because it came wrinkled but did not need ironing. I got it for setting on my deck and thankfully I hadn't worn it yet. It did steal the show. LoL

      They have a highly rated program here in their memory care unit so Alzheimer's awareness is never far away from us. Once a week they have a Support Group for families with Dementia and several of the women I know here have spouses who living in the memory care part of the campus. It's really ideal because they can walk over and visit, even eat breakfast with them if they want. A few others have spouses who stay in their apartments, not bad enough to move over there yet but the spouses will come down to pick up take out food, so we see them then. One of the ladies that was on the bus to see the Van Gogh exhibit was able to have get a sitter come in to say with her husband---one of the huge advantages of living in a CCC.

      Vinegar seems really happy to me. She's probably the best knitter I've ever seen in my life. Every day she wears something she's made and she does really complicated stuff. She knits a hour everyday for charity and volunteers at her church to help immigrant families. She reminds me of that Dolly Parton song, about the woman who "ould be a saint who give blankets to the homeless "but I just don't like her."

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    2. I never thought about the benefit of couples being able to live near a mate in the memory care unit. That would make life easier and so much better. I'm sold on the concept of a CCC! The woman who sold us our retirement home is pushing 90, and she moved to one and get this, we saw her on a tv ad for her ccc, and she was rock climbing. Yes, one of those great big, tall walls. There was our girl, Harriett, just grinning and holding on for dear life. There's so much to be gained by living in a nice facility, built with its residents' needs in mind!

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    3. That is so cool. I've always wanted to try a rock climbing wall. I might suggest that to our Life Enrichment Director. We actually have two full time and one part time directors whose job it is to keep us all busy and happy. We're getting horses on campus next week!

      One of the ladies who has a husband in memory care brings him over to her apartment once in a while if he's having a good day. It's really a great advantage to be within walking distance not only for a spouse but also for kids visiting their parents.

      Another advantage I see is when its time to go to the assisted living building we'll know people who we met in independent living and some of the staff work in both places as well.

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    4. Jean, if your Life Enrichment Director wants to call the facility that has rock climbing (to check on liability and other stuff), it is Westminster Village, in Terre Haute, IN.

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    5. We have to sign liability forms to use the climbing walls in my area---there are 4 or 5. I almost did one of them a few years ago but chickened out.

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  8. I was brought up using the fork and knife like that but backslid when I noticed I was alone in that approach and people looked at me like I was the backward one. My Mom was the one who insisted. She was raised like a posh Brit.
    Hope you can keep your interactions with Vinegar to a minimum.

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    1. I'd seen people in movies and on TV eat that way but never in person. For a left handed person who is always looking for the seat where I won't bump elbows with others, it would be a very practical habit to develop. I tried it for a whole half a meal. Next time I'm at a crowded table I hope I remember to to it.

      See above reply to ? I don't see Vinegar often.

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    2. First. How fabulous! I love that you are now a runway model!!! I love that you "camped it up". I'm sure it was fun. After all this wasn't Paris Fashion Week, even if Vinegar thought it should be. She sounds insufferable and incredibly insecure. I've found that the people who have to be arrogant and judgmental about every damn thing are miserable inside. But you say she seems happy. I'd call her out on it, but I bet she's not insightful enough to know what a complainer she is or why. Good for you for setting boundaries about sharing meals with her (most of the time anyway). As for the fork thing. I've actually always envied people who can do that. I'm a righty so I'd cut with my right hand, fork in my left. So I'd end up bringing the bite to my mouth with my non-dominant hand! It does seem very British or European to me, but not really la-di-da. Just different. But I just can't manage it and look klutzy trying. Oh well.

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    3. If I was younger I'd really practice eating that way. For a left-hander who always has to pick a seat on the end where I won't be bumping people it would be a great habit to have.

      We all camped it up and the one who did it the most really surprised me. We saw a whole new side of her. Me, I had a hard time walking in a straight line without my built-like-a-tan shoes on.

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    4. Not sure why that comment posted as anonymous...it's me! LOL

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    5. Thanks for laying claim to that comment. I hate it when I get two or three anonymous comments in the same thread and I'm trying to figure out if it's one, two or three people. I've had a few of my comments on other blogs go anonymous. I've learned to look above the comment box to see what it says.

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  9. If that's the caftan you wore, it's just wonderful and I'm so glad you did something fun. I learned one bite at a time, though I don't always do it. ut it does slow me down, especially if going for smaller portions. As for dining with Vinegar Lady, all you have to do is say whatever gets her goat and she'll find other friends. I'm sure you can pick that one out and do it very well!

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    1. Yes, that's the actual kaftan I wore. I got a ton of compliments on it and one of the guys wanted to have his picture taken the models and wanted to stand next to me because my dress was his favorite. He sent the photo to his son who texted back that it reminded him of the time he had his photo taken with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. So we spread the fun all over the country.

      You made me laugh out loud with your solution to avoiding Vinegar.

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  10. I like your caftan! It looks comfy and very boho. I think you should get several more in different colours and wear them often.

    I can understand that your Vinegar Lady may rub you the wrong way, but perhaps it's mostly because of a perception you have--a filter you've placed upon yourself. I wonder why she can make you feel so bad. Sure, she sounds a bit pretentious, but does she criticize you or offer unsolicited advice or anything like that?

    Certainly we all avoid people who just rub us the wrong way. Sometimes, that's enough reason, I guess.

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    1. No, she doesn't criticize me, just the wait staff which gets old quickly because it feels like I need to defend them. I think the reason why I don't like eating with her is that I only go to the fine dining restaurant once a week and I want it to be a fun experience like I know it can be with the right table mates. She brings me down talking about stuff I find boring. She not a bad person, I just don't enjoy her company.

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  11. I'll bet you rocked that caftan! Purple is such a great colour, and with silver jewellery? Yes, please! I've met a few Vinegar ladies aka snobs in my life. One of them proudly proclaimed that her town had the most "registered millionaires" in Canada. I said innocently, "Registered millionaires? Do they get their bellies tattooed like registered dogs?" She quickly changed the topic and the others in the group chuckled. Ahhh, I was much younger and brasher then...

    Deb

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    1. That's a funny comeback. I used to have a quick wit like that when I was younger. I wish I still did.

      It was fun being in the show. I can probably wear the same thing in next years show and people here are all so old no one will remember it. LoL I wear a lot of purple and I'm still thinking taking a page out of your book and getting some of it in my hair.

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  12. I don't pay much attention to how people eat their food. What does it matter?
    If someone annoys me, I wouldn't want to sit at the table with them either. I hope you can work out a way to avoid her as it sounds like she raises your blood pressure!
    Glad you did the fashion show - the purple caftan looks lovely!

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    1. She makes it hard not to pay attention to table manners because she is always bringing up stuff like that.

      Ya, I would do the fashion show again. It was fun.

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  13. I remember a phrase a co-worker said as another was leaving, as I entered her office: "Well she just sucked all the joy out of the room". This from a person who rarely said anything negative about others. It's disheartening to be around people who practice passive-aggressive behavior and don't seem to be aware of it. I hope the time change takes care of the issue.

    This post makes me want to get a few boho clothing items! I love the look

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    1. Me too on the boho look. One of the ladies her said she hopes my dress would start a trend here of where comfortable clothes in the evenings on the piazza.

      I like that term "suck the joy out of the room." Just like there are people who bring the joy to a room there are a few who do the opposite.

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  14. It feels like high school. I am certain you looked fabulous in that purple caftan. I'd have pranced like Giselle, like a horse, and made it fun just like you said. Good for you. Ms. Vinegar I assume is alone - someone left her or died to get away :-) LOL

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  15. Love your new look! And purple is a great color for you. I bet it is very comfortable as well. Somehow wearing a dress makes me feel "fancy" so I usually add a bit of jewelry. No words for the "suck the joy out of the room" resident!!!!

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    1. I wouldn't call it a new look because who knows when I'll be able to wear that dress again. I bought just to wear in the evenings on my personal deck. But it did feel good to feel elegant wearing it and having one of the guys give me some really sincere compliments.

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  16. No way you would see me in a fashhion show because I am short, fat and unable to walk without crying so I think you did amazing, just saying

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    1. Never say never. One day you might be walking without the pain or crying. And trust me I was not the only fat person in the show.

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  17. So glad you had fun with it despite Vinegar.

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  18. Remember when we would have called your caftan a muu-muu? I wondered if they really are the same thing, and discovered the answer is 'no.' Behold: "according to Vogue, a caftan (or kaftan) is a narrow cut, long robe with full sleeves, either with a deep open neck or fully open to the floor,” with origins in ancient Mesopotamia. The muumuu comes from Hawaii, and the word means “cut off” ― a reference to the original garment's yoke-less neckline."

    Whatever it's called, that purple is luscious!

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    1. Interesting!! The catalog listing for this dress called it a kaftan maxi dress which are two different styles. Maxi dresses have is form-fitted on top and hangs loose to the floor. Kaftan are basically one long length of fabric right off the bolt with a neck hole cut into it and sewn up the sides. I always thought muu-muus had a gathered neckline. yoke-less make sense for a construction description.

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  19. What fun! I love the caftan and I bet the fashion show was a hoot. Interesting discussion here, as always. There is always a person or two we don't like in any group, no? I think your work at managing avoiding her makes sense. And I love the Dolly Parton quote. LOL.

    As far as your CCC, I can say after seeing it, it is top of my list when/if I decide to move into such a facility. It is truly lovely. :-)

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    1. It really is a nice place, isn't it. But in our area there are 2-3 other new ones that would be worth checking out as well when and if you get to the point of doing a future plan.

      I admire Dolly's writing abilities. Not so crazy about her voice but she does such great things with here money that you can't help but want her to have one hit record after another.

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  20. jean :
    loved te faftan please post link to it, would like to buy it too. you are such a levelheaded person my hubby is like you, I really pray I go before him and stay independent in my health that no one has to take care of me, once at 34 was enough. you made best decision to go into CCC & found interesting group of people

    Asha
    Asha

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    1. It's from Amazon and really cheap compare to some of the beautiful Kaftans I've seen you wearing on Facebook but here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYKHP63?ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details&th=1&psc=1 It feels amazing to wear a garment like this, doesn't it. Or maybe it was just the novelty of it for me. I'm thinking of getting the black and gold one, too. Description says it has pockets in it but it doesn't. No biggie since it was so cheap.

      I did make a great decision moving here. Lots of comfort and knowing I'll be under the same umbrella of care until I die and know fellow patients if and when I need to go to assisted living or memory care.

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    2. thanks bought it, hope hubby also likes it.
      Asha

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  21. Vinegar is like a mean girl from high school who took pride in putting down everyone who didn't come up to her standards. I laughed at them then, I suspect I'd laugh at them in your situation. It's not being petty, it's being real.

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    1. You might be right about the mean girl thing but I have a hard time laughing at people who do good things with their spare time even if I suspect she does them for the bragging rights more than for the people she helps. Now whose being the mean girl here, I say as I point to my chest?

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  22. Sounds like Vinegar is trying too hard to impress everyone and be so refined... or mebbe she hasn't had anyone to tell all those Stories to for so long that they're all tumbling out now? *LOL* When I'm not comfortable around someone I have a very difficult time remaining Civil and Kind. So, I try very hard to not have them in my Orbit at all, but if I can't avoid them completely, limit my exposure so that they don't Trigger me to become ratchet. *Winks* Glad you did the Fashion Show in your Purple Kaftan and for a good Cause. If you suspect someone you said something to about it in confidence is a Gossip, I would be Guarded to provide any info to them in the Future unless you want it spread around. Some people don't respect confidentiality and spill the Tea about everything anyone ever tells them... those type I just don't Trust.

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    1. I'm going to start practicing 'Gossip for Good.' I don't know what that is yet but there are two ways to use that pipeline.

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  23. As a Brit you need to let vinegar girl know that the height of vulgarity (or being plain common) is to criticise or judge others at the table (or anywhere really) snobbery is not manners šŸ˜‰

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    1. That's good to know. I will have to come up with a one-liner about how talking about manners is the height of vulgarity in certain places. LoL

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  24. Hi Jean - just discovered your blog from The New Sixty - and have been reading backwards each of your posts. I was a happy blogger until I 'lost' my blog 'avintagegreen.com' in December 2022 when I was 1 day late in paying the coming year. After 13 years of writing I really miss it. Each post I have read (and I will continue reading back to your blog's beginning) has been a treasure.
    Joy

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    1. Oh, my god after 13 years to loss a blog would be SO hard! Thank you for reading here and I hope someday you'll be encouraged to start blogging again. The Blogger platform is free, just sayin'.

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  25. I have known several persons through the years that just got on my nerves like that. I spend so little time with other people that I want to enjoy being in their company, not grit my teeth the whole time. You are meeting people that are interesting and expanding your circle so don't feel bad when Ms Vinegar tries to invade your space.

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    1. I'm comforted by the fact that I'm not the only one who can't stand eating with her. Another woman here called a "snob" and she avoids her.

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