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

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Trying Something New

Saturday morning I woke up expecting I’d be doing my normal routine of drinking two cups of coffee while reading and replying to comments on my latest blog post. But that didn’t happen because what I discovered (by subscribing to my own blog) is that Mailchimp didn’t send email notices out to any of my subscribers that I had something new posted, thus I only had one comment from someone who wandered in from another source. Long story short the company has recently changed or started enforcing a policy for their free accounts and I’ll either have to start forking over $156 a year or comply with the limitation of sending only 1,000 notices out per month. That translates into me writing six blogs per month instead of the eight I usually do, But it was a choice to make on another day because Sunday I had guests coming which meant I had sinks and floors to clean and party stuff to get ready.

The party was for my brother who is getting harder and harder to take out to restaurants because it takes two of us to walk him in---one to make sure his walker isn’t getting hung up on sidewalk cracks or chair legs and the another person to hold doors open and thank people who step out of the way when he’s about to run into them. So I offered to have my brother’s kids, their spouses and his girlfriend come down to my apartment to a birthday celebration. We only live one building apart, a half a block ride in the courtesy wheelchair. It gave Jerry a change of scenery and us more privacy than doing a gathering in the dinning area in the building where he lives. It’s a common practice with couples on campus where one spouse is living in Assisted Living or Memory Care and the other one is Independent Living. The party worked out perfect; I have ten chairs and I entertained nine people. My building does have a private space with a kitchen that residents can rent for bigger family parties and we can even get parties catered by our restaurant crew.

One of the biggest stress points my brother’s dementia causes for himself and the family is he’s always worried and arguing about not having any money to carry around. But the problem with giving him some is he either losses it, hides it or it gets stolen or a combination of all three. When my dad was in Hospice a night shift worker was stealing money from his wallet that he kept under his pillow each night until I got wise and filled the wallet up with Monopoly money. Dad didn't know the difference. He'd just see the edges of the bills and was at peace that he had plenty of  "walking around money" and I wasn't going broke on a daily basis when Dad asked to bum some cash from me.

For my brother’s birthday one of my nieces found some ‘theater money’ online that looks like the real thing---it fooled me. She told me afterward that it says ‘copy’ on them but with the bills under $20 it’s written in a small font and she doesn’t think her dad will notice. At the party she gave him a wallet with enough “cash” to make him happy. The day after the party I talked to my brother on the phone and he said, “One of the bills doesn’t look right,” and I thought, “Well, that didn’t last long.” But he went on to explain that on one side it says $1 and the other side says $5. I let out the breath I was holding and I told him new money like that sticks together and if that’s not what’s happening it’s a rare error bill like my husband used to collect and I told him I’d look at the next day. 

But the next day when I go there the entire wallet was gone and all the theater money along with it. My niece called the building manager and Jerry’s room got a thorough search and I even patted him down in case he had it in a forgotten pocket. I can only hope if someone did steal it that they get caught trying to spend fake money and they’d have to try to explain to the police where they got it. If they did figure out it wasn’t real money the chances of the wallet showing back up again are pretty high. Stay tuned.

And now for the my decision on what I’m doing about this blog. I like to think I’d write posts even if no one is reading them but that would be a lie. Not having a way to let subscribers know when I publish something new cuts down on my pleasure in keeping a blog and paying to get a subscriber’s list sent out is not going to happen. So, I’ve decided to cut back to posting every Wednesday (4 or 5 posts a month)---drop the Saturday posts. I may experiment with making the Wednesday posts longer in content and/or throwing one or two extra posts out during each month if something special is going on. (I can do six without having to pay to have notices sent to subscribers.) Working out a new rhythm to my life is going to take time but Mailchimp’s curve ball just brought to the surface something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now. Next Wednesday I’ll tell you all about the painting class I started this week.  ©

Edit to add: Yes, I know this email notice went out on Thursday which was Mailchimp's doing not mine. (It actually got published on time.) But I'm delighted none the less because now I know the day of the month when they roll me over to a batch of 1,000 email notices.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Mystery in the Blogs

Bloggers is doing strange things in my blog. I’ve used this platform since 2012 and recently I noticed they’ve changed the font size on older posts, presumably to save bandwidth. They also dumped a bunch of short comments into my spam folder. I noticed this because in the past I’ve always kept just ten comments in that folder (Repeat offenders I want to remember) and when I’d notice an eleventh I’d know I accidentally sent a good comment there that was meant to go through to public viewing. Last week when I opened my dashboard I had over a hundred comments in the Spam folder and I was almost afraid to open it and see what had grown overnight. 

For them to by-pass the normal path of first going into the 'Waiting Moderation' file for me to manually decide their fate had never happened before so I expected Bloggers had added a new feature, an auto-bot and it threw a bunch of x-rated comments in that file or the guy who plagued older bloggers with his  “I hate Baby Boomers” comments got out of internet jail and was back sending his nasty-ass crap. Or maybe the woman from India who wants to improve our sex lives with a special herb to help our mates grow their penis sizes was hoping one day I'll accidentally send her ads through for public viewing. Finally, I opened the folder and found mostly my own comments like, “LOL” or “So true”----stuff like that and all of it over a year old. (A bandwidth pruning.) So I deleted them and thought that would be the end of it. It wasn’t. 

A week later a few more old and short comments showed up in my Spam folder plus a longer one from an “administrator”(or someone posing as one) written two days earlier who commented that my title didn’t match the content in a particular post. How it got into the Spam folder without being in the 'Waiting Moderation' folder would be a mystery if not for the fact that long ago and faraway I used to be an administrator on a website with a message board, chat room and blog community and I had the power to do all kinds of things on the backside of that place. One of my jobs was pruning older threads when I wasn’t deleting inappropriate topics or monitoring fights between members in case one or both stepped over the line and I needed to put them in internet jail for a couple of days to cool down. I just never thought a place like Bloggers---as big as they must be---would have humans pruning or moderators. Even back when I was doing that kind of work, pruning could be done automatically but I talked my boss into letting me do it in my spare time because mass pruning would have dumped too many still useful-to-our-members topics.

I’ve never had a knack for naming my posts or anything creative for that matter. My husband could. He named most of the art pieces I did for college art shows and all the photographs we entered in contests way back when I stalked little kids with my camera and he stalked wildlife with his. He even named my sister-in-law’s hair salon. Knowing how often editors change titles of articles and books it never bothered me much that I don’t have the skill to name my posts. But if my posts start getting pruned for not having titles that match the content, then I’m going to have learn at the ripe old age of dirt.

Of course there’s the very real possibility that I moved that "Admin" comment to the Spam folder and I’m having short term memory problems and don't have the brain cells to remember dong it and that a real human isn’t messing with me. 

I tried clicking on that commentor’s profile but it took me to a message that read, “The Blogger profile you requested cannot be displayed.” People do that when they have an invitation-only blog. It's like knocking on the door of an old speak-easy. Someone would open a little window in the door and ask you who sent you before admitting you in. I doubt real administrator for Bloggers would have a profile like that. It’s a mystery.

It's also a mystery to ponder why if I did move his/her comment to the Spam folder why would I have done that. I don't make a practice out of not publishing comments that are critical of something I've written. (Case in point, read the comments on the wedding dress post where I was chastised for body shaming the bride.) In fact when I write about certain topics I'm prepared for a little push back. Conflict can is good from time to time. It has the potential to make us grow if all parties involved stays on point and don't disintegrate into name calling which on the website mentioned up above was the tipping point for time outs in internet jail. (Internet jail, if you haven't figured it out by now, is just using a person's IP number to lock them out from getting on a website for set length of time. They can still communicate with the administrators but protesting your time out, just gets you a longer one.)

If I had published the comment I would have replied that sometimes I purposely come up with titles that don't match the content like if the topic contains sexual, money or religious matters. Long time bloggers know better than to put certain words in the title line or first paragraphs because the internet crawlers are looking there for the spammers to dump their stuff in the comment sections. That was not the case with that particular post title and content but I'm just sayin' it's a better excuse than saying I screwed up. ©


Added this morning: Is anyone else getting notices from Mailchimp wanting you to buy "additional credits?" I've been on their free plan to notify subscribers but this morning none are getting the notices. I have no clue what "additional credits" are. When I go to their website directly there is no mention of 'credits'.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Life Stories, Laughter and Old Ladies

I don’t do a lot of talking around here. Mostly I listen and occasionally I throw in a comment here or there. The other day it dawned on me that I’ve heard all the details of marriages, education, children and grandchildren, travels, and what others consider to their biggest achievements in life but they know very little about me. My life path is so unconventional compared to theirs I wouldn’t know how to explain the fact that, for example, my husband and I were a couple for 42 years but we didn’t get married until after his stroke. We didn’t live together either except as my husband would say to anyone who'd ask if we were married, “Only on the weekends.” We lived a mile apart and spent more time together than most married coupled we knew. And we certainly talked more than other couples we knew.  

People who knew us would agree that our businesses didn't mesh well. I had a wedding floral business in my house (always neat and orderly) and Don was trying hard to be a hoarder in his as well as run a parking lot maintenance business. The only reason we started selling in antique malls was in an effort to prune the quantity of stuff he had. It turned out to be one of worst ideas in my life because it just gave Don an excuse to buy more stuff. At one point in time we had booths in four malls and were vendors at two Gas and Oil Collector's Conventions/Swaps Meets in the summers. I did all the pricing, inventory and booth servicing while he did all the procuring, carrying heavy stuff and researching the history and prices of the things we sold.

What would people around here take away from that story, if I tried to explain our unique relationship? I'd get a few sentences into telling it and someone would interrupt with a question and they'd only hear the "hoarder" and "not married" part and those words can't possibly paint a true picture. I don't lie but I never offer the raw truth either. If asked I'll say "we were together for 42 years" and change the topic. Ya, we had a wedding I could describe---at the court house with our brothers and sister-in-laws present, a reception at a steakhouse near by with the six of us and we "honeymooned" at a mega-theater across the street. Whoop dee doo.

Recently at lunch the contrast in my life experiences and others here at the continuum care complex came front and center when a woman was asking how she was going to carry a bottle of water with her newly acquired cane and I jokingly said, “You could get one of those hats that have the beer can holders and plastic straws for hand-free drinking.” And several ladies at the table thought I was making that up, that it wasn’t something already on the market. One woman said, "You have quite the imagination" to which I replied, astonished! “You've never seen them at sports events or music festivals?” Finally a woman said she'd seen them and that's what it took for the others to believe I wasn't weaving a tale for their amusement. I said, “See, that’s why you need a blue collar person around like me, to expand your world.” They all laughed, of course, because that’s my self-appointed job here is to make people laugh. Every so often, like with this conversation, I'm surprised by something I though was common knowledge that I know and others don't. Of course, it works the other way around, too, especially when they start talking about world travel. 

Unfortunately my senior years are making me funny when I don’t intend to be. Like at mahjong last week I said, “The filter in my brain is not working well today. I keep wanting to swear and I’ve had to bit my EAR several times to stop myself.” We all laughed so hard at my expense that I’m quite sure a few ladies peed their pants. I couldn't tell them but I can tell you guys that I had been working on the post about making a sow's ear into a silk purse that morning and I had pig ears on the brain. Not that that's an excuse for word search issues in the elderly but the older I get the more it's going to happen so I might as well make the best of it when it happens. 

Speaking of biting your TONGUE to keep from saying stuff, we recently had a discussion about the saying, "you guys" instead of "you ladies" and how much it offends them. It came up because a waitress said, "How are you guys doing over here?" and one of the ladies at the table wrote a comment card complaining about it. Out of the six of us only two of us didn't mind being addressed that way and I was the only one who admitted to saying it all the time. Oops, my blue collar was showing again. 

I wish I'd had my Kindle with me at the time because after that dinner I consulted my device and sure enough, the fifth definition listed for the noun 'guy' was "persons of either sex; people." I would no more think to write a complaint about a waitress saying "you guys" than I would pee on a pancake and send it back to the kitchen for tasting weird. Word usage change over time. Case in point: using the word 'gay' in today's world means being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex but during Victorian times it meant you were "bright and pleasant and promoting good cheer." And with that bit of who-the-hell-cares trivia I end this post. ©