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, June 25, 2022

Honey Bees, Horseflies and Communal Husbands


The outside of my windows are so dirty I can barely see out of them when the morning sun is shining. The CEO of our continuum care complex claims the earliest they could get a company contracted to wash them is in August which, of course, is unacceptable to a choice few of my neighbors. At our recent Dialogue Meeting the same 2-3 out of 50 were complaining. They complain about everything---some things are reasonable complaints, some aren’t but then again everything is relative. I’m satisfied, for example, to get a professional manicure like never and others here feel awful if they don’t have one every 2-3 weeks. I find that fascinating because we grew up in an era when women did their own nails, guys cut their own lawns and washing windows was a family affair. Now, you can make a living doing manicures, window washing or cutting grass.

The unemployment rate in my county is down to 3.2% which accounts for why this area (and probably others around the country) are having a hard time finding staff for the food service industry and other low paying jobs. Not to mention that some who used to work as waitresses and busboys are delivering food now, a whole new-to-this-area thing created by the pandemic and apparently well liked enough for it to stick around now that our Covid numbers are down.

I hate broken records and those ‘choice few’ who don’t seem to understand or care that things chance want to blame the lack of window washers and wait staff on “those lazy welfare people who don’t want to work.” They repeat the same old, tired rhetoric and stereotyping that’s been around forever. We had this discussion recently and it was mainly a few liberals up against our resident racist. I’m glad I’m surrounded by mostly compassionate, well educated people who understand the world isn’t black and white. (No pun intended.) Systemic poverty is not caused by individual laziness. Ya, I’m a flaming liberal but I’d rather error on the side of compassion that be a hard-nosed person who thinks we need to get rid of all forms of welfare. 

The debate over welfare has been going on since the 1930s when all the alphabets were put into place, SSA (Social Security Act), ADC (Aid for Dependent Children), AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependant Children), CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp), PWA (Public Works Administration which also earmarked money for daycare) and last but not least the Agricultural Trade Act that paved the way for school lunches. The debate will probably go on for the next hundred years as well. 

Why? Because the people of the world are a mass of opposing energy, which until recently I believed was a good thing because the constant pushing back and forth kept things centered. Maybe I’m just getting old and cynical but nothing seems to be centered anymore. We are facing a Constitutional crisis that could destroy our democracy and it seems like there are too many big moneyed people who want to turn the country back into the Wild, Wild West. Then we have The Handmaids Tale leaving the realm of fiction to become our reality with the newest Supreme Court Ruling. It’s like we’ve all become like honey bees up against the horseflies. One sucks the blood out of living things and the other helps pollen all of earth’s vegetation including our food supplies. In decades past we were all honey bees only we were pushing back and forth about which fields to plunder next to move Mankind forward, both sides having good intentions.

Last night at dinner one of the guys got started on how Climate Change is all B.S. and how “it’s nice if we pick up trash on the ground but Mother Nature is starting the forest fires and causing the seas to rise and nothing Man is doing is contributing to climate change.” No one said a word as he blustered and burned out on his angry outburst. What got into his craw is anyone’s guess but he’s kind of like everyone’s husband in a sea of women so we take our clues from his actual wife and don’t challenge him when he’s in a surly mood because they don’t last long. She often uses humor to defuse him and haven’t most spouses been there, done that? In all honestly it surprised me because Communal Husband is one of a half-dozen or more hardcore ‘Catholic Kids’ around here who goes to church 4-7 times a week. 

His out burst about climate change blew my theory that devoted Catholics all follow the lead of their Pope. Saint Francis declared some time ago that climate change science is real and it’s everyone’s duty to be good stewards of the earth. But like all families do---and we are forming a family here---we are learning to accept each others foibles. At Communal Husband’s age does it really matter if he doesn’t understand the connection between global warming and carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and the chain reaction that sets off in our forests and oceans? Maybe his denial is a form of guilt pushing back against the thought that our generation has unknowingly committed crimes against the environment? It’s not as if other generations haven’t done the same thing. We do better when we know better---at least that's the theory. Let's all hope that in the honey bees vs the horseflies fight for world domination it's the communal effort of the bees that wins on the timeline of history. ©

41 comments:

  1. Recently a Dollar General or Dollar-something in our small town closed overnight because the only remaining employee, the manager, got a job making much more money than she was making there. Outrage at the "welfare" people who don't want to work was rampant the discussion about the closure in one neighborhood page. Others more sanely and humanely replied that unemployment was low, as you have commented, and she and the other previous employees could not reasonably have been expected to stay at a lower-paying job just to keep a store open for someone else's benefit, but that didn't seem to stick. I'm tired of all the roiling, seething, blaming others, entitled behavior. As you did in your instance, I have stopped expending my energies--limited by autoimmune illnesses anyway--to try reasoning with the unreasonable. Also like you, I had always thought it was a good thing to have different opinions, to keep each other in check. I no longer think we can achieve that by reasoning with people. So, today, I spent the morning stunned and then, to maintain hope, I made another political contribution, small as mine must be, and also volunteered for a postcard sign-up-to-vote campaign. Immunocompromised and with a chronic illness, door-to-door campaigning is out for me, and this is a way to encourage more to vote. I learned that one adult daughter took training last week to help people register to vote. An attorney/writer friend who has written a book used in classrooms on the Miranda warnings is composing an editorial on the SCOTUS ruling about Miranda rights. I'm made weary over the need to fight another fight, but encouraged that I am not alone. I had hoped that, having raised two intelligent women, I could retire from such engagement myself. A gay brother and gay grandchild, and all my grandchildren are in need of my engagement.

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    1. It's so disheartening to have to fight yet again so many of the same fights that we thought were settled. Every law that is based on the right to privacy is now going to get challenged in the Supreme Court in next few years. At least the younger generation is smart about organizing. Right now I'm so angry. But you are being proactive as much as your energy level will allow it. We all need to step up our game and do whatever we can. For me that means checking in again about following the news and speaking up wherever, whenever I can. And of course, make donations to help turn the Senate and hold on to the House and presidency.

      It amazes me how some people can blame the poorest class in our nation for so many things but not care about corporate welfare and giant taxes breaks for the wealthiest.

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  2. I like the honeybees vs the horseflies analogy. Although I was born into a conservative home, I believe I've always had a liberal heart. Before I finished college, I got a job in our county's social service office. I did clerical work (back then, we mostly typed and filed) for the social workers. Oh my goodness! My eyes were truly opened to reality. Not everyone has the benefit of being raised in a loving home. One thing I know for sure: People need to help one another. And since that doesn't always happen, we need leaders to help oversee the well being of our citizens. During that time, I got certified to be an emergency foster parent. Sometimes I wish more people (especially the ones who complain the loudest about misuse of tax dollars to support the poor), could have the opportunity to care for a foster child. It changes how you think. You begin to understand why we need to pay more taxes to care for those in need. My father was sort of a horsefly type. Way back in 1980, I got a call on December 23, asking if I'd be willing to foster a 9-year-old boy. My heart said yes and my brain hadn't caught up before I spoke. I took him to my parents house for Christmas, and that was the beginning of our family's understanding of accepting and supporting others. I saw my dad, the stern horsefly, gradually melt into a loving grandpa. After two years of fostering this child, I was able to adopt him. One of the very best decisions of my life. He's bright, stubborn, hardworking, and incredibly committed to all of us. He served our country for 20 years in the Air Force, in Special Ops. I truly believe if people just open up their hearts a little bit, and help others, it could change our world. (Okay, now I'll get down from my soapbox).

    BTW, this is real big news, Jean! Your caftan inspired me so much that I bought a cute summery, flowy dress at Walmart the other day. It's so light and cool. I'm thinking maybe that's the way to go for summer!

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    1. I love your what you wrote, what you did with your life. Most people don't see the poor as individuals with stories of hardships that what too many endure through no fault of their own. Aren't you what is lovingly called a foster care failure? Your adopted son sounds like an amazing person.

      Now you are inspiring me to get another flowing dress.

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  3. Your last question is an interesting one -- at his age, does it matter if he doesn't understand. Yes and no. He'll be gone in a few years, not affect voting or all that in time. Trouble is, time is running out. And anyone who vehemently preaches will pick up a fan or two somewhere, someone on the fence or looking for a conspiracy theory, or just ignorant. I'm surprised no one jumped in to argue but maybe that isn't that appropriate at the time and place. I'll say one thing -- y'all do have some interesting conversations there!

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    1. I get that, it does matter. But he was standing up and speaking in a loud voice across the entire cafe`. If he had been sitting at a table I think someone would countered his words, gotten into a discussion. To do it in that situation would have been so awkward and would have caused a shouting scene.

      We have interesting people here thus once in a while the conversations follow suite. Usually they're frivolous and fun. Superficial. Can't wait until election time to see how/if that changes.

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  4. The horseflies have a role to play, too. Just because they annoy us doesn't mean that they don't have an imporant niche in the natural order of things. Only the female sucks blood, and only when the time has come to produce eggs. The male flies from flower to flower to suck nectar, and aid pollination -- just like bees. In fact, there are plants that rely on horseflies for pollination, rather than bees.

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    1. Oh, gross! You just blew my analogy. I still hate horseflies. They used to bite the heck out of me when I was a kid and I got huge welts from the bites that lasted for days. Where to the horseflies lay their eggs? I always thought it was on the wounds of animals but I know you'll know for sure.

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    2. I wasn't sure, but now I've got the answer. They lay their eggs on leaves, twigs, and rocks. They prefer aquatic vegetation and populations are higher in wet and wooded areas. I wondered, too, about the difference between deer flies and horse flies. It turns out there's not a lot of difference, except the horse flies are bigger, and there are some color differences. But it's the females of both species that do the biting. I had my first bite a couple of years ago, and I didn't have any idea what had attracted me. Then, I looked at the car, and it was covered with them. I left, el pronto.

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    3. I accidentally sent this comment to spam so I apology for its late appearance. We had a lot of horseflies at the cottage where I spent my summers so what you've found makes sense. It was wild and woody and swampy back then, not the cultivated lawns it is now.

      So horseflies don't lay their eggs where I thought, but there is one kind of fly that does, one I've probably never seen but only heard about. Google found: "Cochliomyia hominivorax is a screw-worm fly that lives in the southern USA and Central and South America. It usually lays eggs in the desiccated surfaces of wounds that are a few days old. The larvae hatch from the eggs in about a day."

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  5. Well said, Jean. I shake my head in disgust at yesterday’s news. And I know for a fact there are “horseflies” in Canada who are saying “how can we eradicate abortion rights here too?”

    Deb

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  6. I'm so discouraged right now, but like you and others, I have to keep moving and doing what I can. One thing that did blow my mind today: My 90 yo mother told me she had an aunt that died of a botched abortion. Never heard this...I thought I knew all my mom's stories. And she said (this is a serious, serious Catholic woman) that while she herself couldn't have an abortion, people will do what they have to do, and it's not up to her to tell others how to live. Bowl me over with a feather.

    As for the Pope and his views on climate change, of course he is right. But the Catholic Church is divided pretty much like the country right now with the loud right wingers making the most noise. Many of the moderates are silent and many left thinking folks have walked.

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    1. Good to know that about the Catholic Church. I had no clue about the division.

      Someone needs to collect stories about what it was like before Roe vs Wade. Stories like your aunt's. I remember reading/having a book like that back when the law was being considered and it opened people's minds. And Clarence Thomas need to step down from the bench! My god that man wants to go after birth control, gay rights and a host of other laws based on the right of privacy that the court just ruled no one has a right to anymore.

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    2. Exactly! Who knows what they'll go after next? And any of them saying it won't happen? I don't trust them for one minute. They lied under oath and would do it again in a heartbeat.

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    3. The last three Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump lied about Roe vs Wade and they did it knowing full well they were planing to overturn it. A person's right to open carry a gun now has has more rights than a woman has over her own body.

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    4. And just in...5,000 protesters in AZ got tear gassed and flash banged for daring to care about who has control over their own bodies.

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    5. The intense Heat in June makes us Phoenicians testy enough to risk getting tear gassed and flash banged for a Good Cause. *winks*

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    6. If is a good cause but I can't help thinking the protests should have been taken place before not after the ruling.

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  7. Clarence Thomas better hope they never go back to outlawing interracial marriage..of course they’ll make an excuse for him…

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  8. This is truly a scary time for women. Think we are on a very slippery slope and unless we who care get out to vote, no telling where we will end up. If we women aren't careful, we may lose that very weapon of the polls.

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    1. Something very dark is happening to our country when 80% of us want to keep abortions safe, rare and legal yet a 50 year old law can get overturned.

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  9. It is hard to talk over someone that stupid and why are they always so loud? I still cannot believe the Supreme Court overturning Roe. Thankfully the three West Coast states will still allow procedures and some of the larger companies based here will provide $$$ for their employees to come here and have it done.

    BUY more dresses! I have one for every day of the week!

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    1. Good advice on the dresses LOL

      The conservatives are now targeting the drug companies who make the morning after pill to it banded from moving across state lines. A lot of the states are making laws that reward people for turning people who help women get abortions in any way. Your states will get targeted.

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  10. Unfortunately there are way too many of us now, even honey bees. Sorry to be a Debby Downer, but global warming and overpopulation is real.

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    1. There's going to be even more of us now with the Supreme Court Ruling and the fall out to come.

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  11. I don't get why some people enjoy complaining about everything and anything, I am one to complain about things from time to time but not over and over again about the same thing can't see the point.

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  12. It seems like some people of our age group think that Global Warming is not real. It's really scary. People are complaining about the economy when we lived through the gas shortage in the early 70's. I'm afraid that if it happens again, people will just shoot you.

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    1. We've lived through a lot of scar stuff and survived but allowing people to open carry guns scares the crap out of me. Way too many nut cases with short fuses out there. And way to many mass shootings not to panic when we see a gun in public.

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  13. It's fear and resentment that the old familiar way of life is gone...and gone it is!
    To be obsessed with personal freedom but continue voting for politicians who erode those freedoms and do little to make our lives less stressful, baffles me.

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    1. I don't get how some people think things should never change. But I know you're right about the fear of changed being behind so many of the crazy things going on now. Too many people are shallow thinkers and really can't connect the dots between who they vote for and who causes their freedoms to erode.

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  14. I have learned the hard way that "devote Catholics" whatever that means, are the most horrible people and talk out both sides of their mouth. Granted that is MY experience and it has never veered. I hope others have a different experience. It's a pick and choose religion. You can say you're catholic but you don't actually follow ALL the rules or the Pope. It's funny, but cults are like that I suppose. I do have trouble with a lot of things these days I don't understand clearly, but because I don't understand, doesn't mean they are wrong. I just need to learn more I think so that I feel more comfortable with these changes. I know my father was very uncomfortable with women being equal, but over time even he changed. (having 5 daughter may have helped)

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    1. There are three Catholics here who are super good people who walk the talk and three others who talk the talk but who have a major flaw that keeps them from being truly good people in my opinion and two others who I don't know well enough to judge yet. My father's family were all good, practicing Catholic who followed the Pope religiously. I haven't been around many Catholics in recent years so I'm finding my neighbors an interesting study project.

      If a man can't change his opinion on women's equality after having five daughters then the jokes on him isn't it.



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    2. The World is in Chaos and quite polarized when it comes to points of view. Instead of coming together to formulate Solutions, it seems that most just want to either be in denial there is a Problem, or play the Blame Game, which isn't Helpful. If we're not part of the Solution we become part of the Problem. The Communal Husband clearly has his Trigger Topics and I suppose Climate Change is one of them. I'm often Surprised to hear the Point of View of some people who I once thought to be intelligent and imagined they trusted reliable sources for their information to discern facts and investigate something before they run with it as factual. As for the Complainers, some people are just naturally Malcontents and I find that ilk to be too annoying to want a lot of exposure to. The Black Cloud People just have such Negative Energy that I find if I have to be around them very long, it's toxic and I'd rather be around Positive Energy People who are Grateful and inclined to acknowledge whatever Privilege they are enjoying and have Compassion for those who don't have much, if any.

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    3. The disinformation campaign to deliberately fool people worked really well in our country. It's down right scary how well it's worked.

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  15. I wonder how many of the people complaining that "those people" are too lazy to work at dead-end, low-wage jobs would be horrified by the suggestion that their own grandchildren or great-grandchildren should step up and take some of those jobs.
    I've been reading Fiona Hill's memoir, There Is Nothing For You Here, and was struck by the contrast she draws between the way others see those who are down and out and the way they see themselves. She writes powerfully about her own experiences of social class discrimination.

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    1. I'll bet that's an interesting memoir. The older I get the less I understand how racism can still have such a hold on the minds of so many people.

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  16. You have more patience for folks like Mr. Climate Denier than I do. Good on you! I'm so dismayed about how some people think these days and where their allegiances lie. I'm fine with a healthy debate based on KNOWLEDGE AND FACTS, but those for whom knowledge/education is seen as "elitist" and for whom facts are dismissed with "Well, I don't believe it" leave no room for finding middle ground, do they?

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    1. If he had been sitting down with us I think some of us might have tried to try to talk with him but he was standing up to leave and spoke loudly to about twenty of us. probably wouldn't have done any good anyway because provable facts don't matter when you've been brainwashed.

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