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, July 23, 2022

The Water's Edge and Angel Wings

Two perfect swans glide on the cloud’s reflection, their babies in tow as they approach a Great Egret standing on skinny stilts stalking minnows. The family stops to pluck their weedy dinner from below the water’s stillness. Geese touch down on the far side of the lake and Father Swan sets off on a mission to let the geese know the welcome mat is not out for them. The swans want to keep the aquatic plants all for themselves and the white creatures wins this round over the flock of honking, dark Canadians. But the war is not over at the water’s edge. It never is when territory is fought over to the amusement of those watching from the shore. 

Someone on the bank used their Boy Scout skills to build a tepee of sticks and twigs and they wove white swan feathers into a pattern at the bottom of the tepee, like spokes on a wagon wheel. I plucked three feathers from a pile of those not attached to the shire and carted them home. Three of anything is a collection. The longest one is 19 inches long and its a flight feather. I know that because google told me how to tell the difference between tail and flight feathers. “Tail feathers are balanced left and right of the center. Flight feathers have a wider and narrower side. This makes them better for flying because they can cut through the air with very little resistance,” according to Arizona's 'Ask a Biologist' website. And try as I might I cannot separate the barbules and hooklets. 

Carrying my stolen treasurers home, someone along the trail told me it's illegal to keep them but my fear of going to feather hoarders’ prison didn’t last long. Google told me that people are selling them in plain sight. Yup, you guessed it. I fell down the rabbit hole of learning everything there is to know about features including how bags of white feathers are sold for weddings and others have their quill ends sewn on webbed ribbons and sold by the yard presumably to those making Native American ceremonial costumes or Victoria Secret type angel wings and capes. Those angel wings the models wear, by the way, are made of ostrich feathers and they weigh between 12 to 18 pounds. If you’ve always wanted one you’re in luck because there are tons of DIY videos online on how to make your own wings which begs the question: who is making themselves a set of wings and where do they keep them when they aren’t parading them around in the bedroom or on Halloween? There are videos on how to make your own feather capes and headdresses, too. 

But down duck and goose feathers sold by the pound make me sad thinking about all the birds that had to die in some smelly processing plant and get their feathers plucked out moments after death. No time to grieve their friends also going down the line to get their heads ground off in the cruelest looking machines I’ve ever seen. (Remember Sarah Palin doing a promo at Thanksgiving while a turkey was being jammed head first down a machine in the background and the guy holding the bird by its feet was waiting to pull the headless bird back up after the cameras quit rolling?) We mammals pride ourselves on standing upright and living in houses but we are no different than the swans. We take what we want from lower down on the food chain. Some of us more cavalier about the process than others. Native American's in the movies of my youth, at least, thanked the spirit of the animals they kill for dinner. Sarah Palin laughed at the reporter who asked if she really wanted to do the interview in front of the turkey guillotine.

I thought my collecting days were over when I downsized and moved here last October. But now I have a collection of owl and swan feathers and I am resisting picking up goose and duck feathers. What are the possibilities they’ll give me salmonella? Growing my mom caught me licking a turtle once and gave me my first salmonella lecture. What are the possibilities an apartment filled with nature’s discards won’t lead to me becoming what I’ve always feared---that in my old age I’ll start saving creamer cups and picking lent off the hall floors and hoarding my ‘treasures’ in a dresser drawer. My husband’s mother did those things in her dementia. 

Lately I’ve been spending more and more time at the water’s edge. I come prepared with my notebook and book of inspiration, intending to go back to my writing roots when my teen-self tried to create poetry. But so many people walk by on the trail and stop to talk that I don’t get very far trying to channel Mary Oliver. I carry around her book, A Poetry Handbook as if just holding it will give me an ear for meter and rhyme. It’s not working. Nor did the two times I actually read the book impart me the ability to do more than learn to look longer and harder at nature and write opening lines like, “Two perfect swans glide on the cloud’s reflection, their babies in tow as they approach a Great Egret standing on skinny stilts stalking minnows.” ©


Sarah Palin

 P.S.  I ran across a blog post that might help those of us having trouble posting comments on our own and/or other people's blogs---they come out as anonymous instead of with our google account name and link. Life and Linda has helped many of us bloggers with technical stuff and gives great, detailed instructions. I followed her directions for Firefox but she gives them for Chrome and Safari as well. A Fix for Anonymous Comments.  Good Luck!

 

38 comments:

  1. We find lots of raven feathers here as well as a few hawk feathers. I've picked up several and save them for the grandson who uses them in making fly fishing lures. He is a whiz at them and at drawing!

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    1. That's pretty cool! One of my husband's nephews makes fly lure, too and has quite a business doing it. After my husband died I gave him all of my husband's collector books of fishing lure. Some of those old lures are worth a lot of money.

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  2. I look just like that Victoria Secret Model when I'm wearing my Wings. *Winks* I Love Collecting Naturalist Objects too Jean, Nature is so Inspiring and so Perfect in it's Design.

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    1. So true about nature being a wonderful designer. I have jars and jars of stones and seashells----your inspiration to display them that way. Feather collecting is a newer thing for me to haul home.

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  3. I don't think you have to worry about Mary Oliver (apart from loving her work). Your own words and thoughts are perfection. I'll pick up feathers on the beach,too. I have no idea what they are, don't care. I just like them. (I will, on occasion, run a clorox wipe over them or the quill -- but not always. Swan would be beautiful.

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    1. The clorox wipe is a good idea! The owl feathers I know for sure where they came from because the giant bird was five feet in front of me when it lost its feature during a demonstration. He'd been injured and could no longer fly.

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  4. Thank you for the link to reset cookies. I’m going to try and possibly start commenting again! Regards Leze

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    1. I hope it works. I wish now someone could come up for a fix or reason why after I approve a comment to go live I have to sign out and back in again to write my reply to a comment someone else as made. That is truly annoying and time consuming. I know a few others are having the same issue. I'm betting it's also a cookie thing but I don't know how to fix it.

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    2. It's possible it *might* be a cross-tracking issue. Take a look at my response to PhilosopherMouseoftheHedge on this post. Depending on your browser, and whether Blogger has instituted similar changes, you might be able to get rid of the problem.

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  5. The clorox wipe does sound like a good idea. Hope you enjoy your feathers. Pretty sure I'd have brought them home too but with zero idea what to do with them. Careful of those daddy swans though. They can break human bones with those wings.

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    1. Now that I have them I don't know what to do with them either. I purposely chose three sizes so they'd look good together but I might put them on print of Chief holy Eage.

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  6. Who knew there was a now a law against owning feathers. Looked it up and it applies to native migratory birds and endangered non-native ones. The not covered list included several varieties of swans though and I don't think anyone is going to turn you in! It seems to be aimed at stopping the gathering and selling of feathers which often includes killing the birds.

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    1. I did not find that information! Thanks for sharing. Now it makes sense why you can't own feathers. Puts a whole different light on those selling feathers online---asking for trouble. These are mute swans which aren't protected in any way. If one is hurt in our state's DNR and rescue places won't even help them. And they are on a list I just found of feathers/birds NOt protected by the MBTA law so I don't have to worry about the swat team showing up at my doorsteps. The owl feathers I have are protected though!

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  7. Swans are one of my favorite birds. One of the most graceful creatures in the world. Maybe that's why I admire them--I struggle putting one foot in front of the other. I found it so interesting to hear about the various feathers. I had no idea!

    Jean, I really did think your opening paragraph was poetic. I could "see" everything you described.

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    1. I could sit and watch those swans forever. They are truly beautiful and will tolerate me which isn't true of everyone. They let their distress and aggression show quietly if they feel threaten.

      Thank you. I've turned that opening line into a poem I'm really happy with. I think I've found a project to do that mixes paintings and writing that I can share where with my peers.

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  8. Love that you share what YOU are enjoying with us. I used to collect swans after Mr. Ralph gave me a tiny crystal one with the most romantic note about how they mate for life. I saved about 5 when we downsized. And I smile at him every time I see a swan! Thanks for blogging.

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    1. My mom used to have a blown glass swan that she kept on a little round mirror. I wonder, now, what happened to it. They are so graceful.

      Thanks for being one of my long-time readers here....since your widowhood began which is almost as long as mine if I'm remembering correctly.

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  9. I don't collect things except for digital photos...we have gazillions of those and I try to keep them organized so we can use them as memory aids.

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    1. I've given up on digital photos. My hands aren't as steady as they used to be and it's so time consuming to organize photos. Wish these things weren't true for me.

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    2. Clueless doesn't even begin to describe Palin. Thanks for the hilarious video, I had never seen it.

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    3. It's classic Sara Palin, isn't it. The look on the guy's face holding the turkey is priceless, too. He knew it was bad optics to pull a headless turkey out of the machine in front of a rolling camera if she didn't.

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  10. Well, I have years' worth of natural 'gatherings' and I've yet to contract anything bad from them. I'll clean up seashells if something's living in them, of course, but otherwise the rocks, feathers, cicada shells, acorns, bones, and bird eggs are just memories, and not vectors of disease!

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    1. Good to know. I used to collect all kinds of stuff from nature when was growing up at the cottage but back then I didn't wash my hands as often as I do now and I had a habit of putting too many things in my mouth. LoL

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  11. So ... flight feathers are wide on one side and narrow on the other. That's cool.
    I'm not surprised that you wrote poetry when you were a teenager. You have a gift for seeing and describing the world.

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    1. When you really exam feathers they are truth amazing in their creation and purpose. Of course we can stay that about a lot of things in nature, can't we. Thanks for the awesome compliment. If it's a gift its one we both share.

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  12. You just keep living your life and collect those feathers😘

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  13. It's like watching the nature channel, only you don't need a TV! I love the fact that you did the research on swan feathers. I don't think I'll ever understand why anyone would want to make themselves wings like a Victoria's Secret model.
    I've never been much of a collector -- except when I walk on rocky beaches; I don't seem to be able to resist picking up stones and bringing them home.

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    1. I'm still stalking the five deer I've heard are roaming our campus but I'm not up early enough and since moving in I haven't taken the path through the woods where Levi and I was supposed to hang out---I did several times when we'd visited during the building process. So who says 80 years can't have goals.

      I can't resist picking up tones and shells on the beach either. I have glass jars of them sitting around.

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  14. Just stumbled on your blog via somewhere and been reading back about the place you live. It sounds as if you have good fun (mostly). I don't think we have villages like that over here.
    Like the story about your book club

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    1. Welcome! The continuum care complexes like this are not new in this area but I really didn't know about them until about five years ago and back then it seems like 3-4 new ones were being built and marketed to the public at a time when I was looking to downsize.

      I checked out your lovely blog but I couldn't get the system to let me comment!

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  15. My father used to play golf and walk the course himself. He'd collect stuff as he did, and he'd stash it all in his golf bag, then in the trunk of his car, then in the garage. You cannot imagine the stuff we found in those spots when he died. (And he did not die of salmonella, either.) Enjoy your nature collecting, but please be more judicious than my dad. ;-)

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    1. What a wonderful story. I'm glad you shared it. And who would ever guess a golf course would yield anything worth picking up on their manicured grass?

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  16. You just have collecting in your genes. Good thing you weren't a pioneer walking across the country collecting rocks, feathers and sticks. At least your wagon would have been light from the collection.

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    1. I think it was the other way around. People on wagon trains had to periodically leave something near and dear to their hears along the way to lighten the wagons. LoL

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  17. Can't we please keep Palin out of D.C.? Thanks for the Anon info link. Now will see if I can decipher it.

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  18. She's like a bad penny that keeps turning up like someone else we know...

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. If you are using ANONYMOUS please identify yourself by your first name as you might not be the only one. Comments containing links from spammers will not be published. All comments are moderated which means I might not see yours right away to publish through for public viewing as I don't sit at my computer 24/7.