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, May 8, 2024

A Murder Mystery, Outlander and a History Lesson, Oh My!

President Biden posted that, "Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate the resilience, culture, and heritage of generations of Mexican Americans." That might be true but in Mexico May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, marks the anniversary of the 1862 Battle of Puebla when Mexican troops were victorious over French troops. When I first read that I was surprised that France had boots on the ground in our neighboring country but then a few brain cells kicked in and I remembered (with a little help from Wikipedia) that France once owned all the land "from Quebec and from the middle of Manitoba to the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande River and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains." In other words at its peak (1710), the French colonial empire covered 3,900,000 square miles of what is now a major slice of the United States. So I'm not surprised that I don't know anything about the history of Mexico. I barely remember my own country's french connection. Duh, the Louisiana Purchase. How could I forget such a colorful part of Southern Culture?

Oui, mademoiselles and other valued readers, we could be speaking french if not for the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Year Indian War, a war that had all the Native American Tribes lined up to fight along side either Great Britain or France. And I only know about the treaty because a new season of Outlander started on Netflix and I went down a research rabbit hole trying to figure out which side the Cherokee Indians fought on. Jamie on the long-running series just became the Indian Agent in North Carolina and I can't binge-watch fast enough for me to get ahead of my curiosity.

If you like historical romances or time-travel movies and books---and there was a time when they were my favorite genre---you'll know about Diana Gaboldon's Outlander series. I read recently that she claims that all of her characters fall into one of three categories: mushrooms, onions and hard nuts. The mushrooms pop up in her writing with no forethought. The onions are like Jamie and Claire who she develops in layers, but the hard nuts are characters, like Jamie and Claire's daughter, who have to be there for the structure of the time-travel but Diana said she doesn't always know what to do with them.

Back to my own life: Here in the continuum care complex all Cinco de Mayo Day means is if we want to eat that day we have to pick and choose from a buffet of chicken or beef tacos, Spanish rice, mex corn on the cob, pinto beans, chips & salsa and churros. They did serve free margaritas and I always look forward to any event when free drinks at our bar are involved. It's the only time I "partake." Thankfully, I only have to walk across a small piazza to get home because my old brain gets a buss on a whole lot easier than it did when I was young and in my bar hopping days. Or maybe I've just gotten old enough to realize it's not safe to walk or drive when that happy, I-can-do-anything feeling kicks in.

Drinks were not free here the next evening when the CCC hosted our second annual Murder Mystery Party. And while the food was pricey we got a lot for our $29. (See the menu below.) That Peanut butter and Jelly desert was yummy and certainly the talk of the around the campus. Some thought it was a strange choice for an otherwise elegant dinner party. I don't know about that but I do know it was crazy good.

I was only going to watch the murder mystery dinner/play this year but the Life Enrichment Director was short of actors so I changed my mind at the last minute and I took the part of Maxine Cruise. My introduction script went like this: "The name’s Cruise, Maxine Cruise — and I’ve got a license to thrill-seek. I was rock climbing yesterday, snow-boarding today and I’m skydiving tomorrow — or at least I would be if I could afford the jump costs. I’ve also got a license to drive, which is cool because I’m Lady Cattersley’s chauffeur. She never lets me go over thirty though so it’s kind of boring."

My part called for me to be, "...adventurous, energetic and unconventional. Cruise eschews the traditional chauffeur’s uniform in favor of a bright Hawaiian shirt and black trousers, whilst his dark glasses show that he has exceptional eyesight in poor lighting conditions." If you've ever been in one of these murder mystery games you'll know that line about having exceptional eyesight played into the drama. I happened to own a pair of sunglasses that have a small corrective areas for reading and they were not too dark for me to wear inside the night of the party. They were perfect since there's always stuff to read on the fly when you take an acting part which is why they really should call them reading parts, not acting parts because we don't have to know our lines by heart.

We had a lot of laughs that night but unlike last year there weren't prizes for the best costume, the best 'acting' and the best ad-libbing. I think the Activities Director had too hard of a time picking last year. Regardless, the evening was the highlight of a very busy week and lots of fun. In addition to the Cinco de Mayo buffet and murder mystery dinner this week we we also had book club, a lecture on Death and Dying (which was actually kind of a comedy act put on by a Hospice worker), my writing group, mahjong, a Mother's Day luncheon, Crafter-noon, and lest I forget High Stakes Bingo, oh my! I needed a vacation to rest up after all these activities strung together and I got one. The next week's calendar is as boring as dirty dish water.

Until Next Wednesday. ©


The PB & J Dessert

Maxine Cruise

44 comments:

  1. That WAS a busy week! And it all sounds fun. I had eyelid surgery on Friday afternoon and am just now able to put on my glasses and am able to see through the swollen slits of my new eyes. Looking forward to being able to read without holding up and eyelid! Keep on having fun! Summer is arriving here tomorrow (Weds)

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    1. Eyelid surgery sure seems to make a difference. I haven't had it but other around me have. I didn't realize there was so much swelling involved! Duh!

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  2. Gosh, you were busy all week! Love your outfit for the murder mystery dinner theater. You really looked the part.

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    1. I don't know what is going on with our Enrichment Director. Lately her scheduling of events is just plain weird. One week we'll be super busy and the next week all that is offered are the same old, weekly exercise classes. But it does make the time go by quickly with lots to look forward to.

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  3. I love Maxine's costume! I'm so glad you showed us! That sounds like loads of fun. And the menu looks great too. Honestly, I don't know how you pull off all you do. I feel like such a slug reading this! The only thing on my calendar this WHOLE WEEK was a PT session, a haircut and a trip to the garden center on Friday! Well done, my friend!

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    1. You really would have appreciate the food, with your flair for entertaining that involves fancy foods. Our chef does a great job when she's free to get creative at parties. But you do table settings better, just sayin'.

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  4. Well, Maxine! You loo like someone who would be fun to get to know - a real "character" šŸ˜‰. Did you know Canada has 2 official languages - English AND French - and we have an entire province whose main language is French (Quebec)? As well, there are pockets of French speakers in Northern Ontario and our Maritime provinces - lots of people with Acadian heritage.

    Deb

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    1. I did know that and I love that about Canada. It blows my mind that such a little country once owned so many colonies in the Western world. Obviously, they couldn't hold on to them all. I just wish world history was as interesting to me back when I HAD to study it as it is to me today.

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  5. Sounds like a fun week! It's good to have time to relax now.

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  6. Gosh Jean, you and your neighbors have been busy! I think the ccc does a good job of making activities available. Hard to beat free margaritas!! And your dinner menu looked wonderful! I'm a big lover of all things peanut butter, so I would have probably enjoyed that pb&j dessert.

    Isn't it funny how most of us have unlimited access to unlimited information, yet we forget our basic history?!! When you were reviewing France's history in our nation, I have to admit I said, "Oh yeah...they were a very big deal during that time." And I used to be a teacher. Lord help us. I guess as long as it comes back to our memory, we can feel okay about the lag time to get there.

    Proud of you for volunteering to take a part in the play. You sure did look the part! Take care, Jean!

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    1. We are a culture-rich country BECAUSE we have so many international influences. I just wish some of the isolationists who are scared of immigrants could understand that.

      I took a part in last year's murder mystery and it was so much fun but I thought I'd have others a chance, since last year there was a waiting list. So I signed up to be in the audience. Turned out others did the same thus the shortage of actors.

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  7. Sounds like a fun and interesting week!

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    1. For some reason your blog isn't letting me comment. I do read you faithfully, though. I wanted to tell you there is a product that you can hook up to your hose that will wash windows by spraying it on with no rinsing required. It might not reach all your windows, depending on your water pressure but they use it here and it does a great job.

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  8. wow what a fun week, looking good james bond

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  9. A murder mystery always sounds like fun, it sounds like a fun but busy week

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    1. I think the person who invented these murder mystery games is from your country.

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  10. Thanks for the picture of you! It's too bad they couldn't spread the events out a bit, but they sound like fun.

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    1. In this case the kitchen staff planned the Cinco de Mayo buffet and the LE-Director planned the murder mystery without consulting each other about the dates. The outside lecturers we have to take when they are available.

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  11. I could have sworn I commented yesterday but I don't see it so maybe I forgot to hit publish! Or it went to your spam folder?!?
    Glad you had such a fun week and now you get a week to relax. How do you fill your time when there aren't events scheduled? Are you reading, painting, walking...?

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    1. This first one was in my spam folder and I found it because you posted that you left one yesterday. Sometimes I read and approve comments on my kindle where the buttons are too small and close together for me to be doing that.

      When we aren't busy with activities here I have started walking outside again plus I always set a day aside each week for laundry. My mornings are my computer times. Whether I eat in the cafe or the restaurant it takes 2-1/2 hours.

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  12. oh that James bond comment was made by me Asha, I forgot to put my name, I guess subconsciously it wanted to see whether you can figure it out or not lol

    Asha

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    1. I didn't have a clue who made that James Bond comment, but I thought 'Hawaiian 5-0' would have fit better. LoL

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  13. Your murder mystery sounds wonderful! I love your character and you look the part! What fun!!! And the food sounds delicious too! I swear my grandmother's assisted living was like that every week. I would visit in the evening and get warn out. Now that I am close to that age, it doesn't seem to pop like it used to.
    I recently was invited to a class in American History taught to seniors by a professor in a nearby community. What I have learned so far is that either I have zero memory from anything I ever learned in an American History class or I was never taught much American History in the first place. We just finished the constitution so I will look forward to these events. The comment the teacher made last week really stuck with me. She said at the time/era that the constitution was written, a man's word was his honor. Duels were fought over his honor. The reason the constitution is so ambiguous is that they did not conceive of the president being dishonorable and not doing things for the good of the country. Too bad being honorable is not an admired trait these days.

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    1. I'm glad to hear the American History is being taught for adults. I hope that's a fad that is spreading, we sure need it. I don't think social studies and government are being taught in schools anymore and I believe that contributes to the herd of people who don't trust the election results.

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    2. As you talk about the history, i would like to know what was the "Manifest Destiny" for US and indigenous of Americas . Can you explain ?

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    3. I've never even heard the term before reading it in your comment. But google gives this explanation: "There was a widespread belief that western expansion was for the good of the country and was the right of the American people. Manifest Destiny was what Americans believed they were meant to do. Other historians view Manifest Destiny as an excuse to be selfish."

      Thanks for the opportunity for me to learn something new every day. I'm going with the last line of it being an excuse to be selfish and not value the Native Americans who lived where the expansion took place.

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  14. There certainly are a lot of people who think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day; it's also amusing that, according to some friends from Mexico, we celebrate it in this country more than they do in Mexico. I suppose in that respect it's a bit like St. Patrick's Day, with cerveza and tacos subtituting for the corned beef and green beer!

    The French influence still is everywhere in Texas, although you need to know a little history to appreciate it. I used to pass through a town named LaSalle on a regular basis, and one of the greatest feats of historical preservation ever was the discovery and removal of the LaBelle, one of LaSalle's ships.

    I lived in the area for a while, and knew farmers who'd turned up ships' anchors in their fields while plowing. I don't know if they ever found out if they were French or Spanish: either could be possible. At the head of Matagorda Bay, I used to pass an Alcoa plant (now closed). It was years before I knew that it functioned as a Spanish shipyard, waaaaaay back in the day!

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    1. I'm guessing one of the reasons why we celebrate Cino de Mayo is the restaurants jumped on the idea to bring people for the theme dinners. We even have a parade up here in Michigan although I believe it's only in its 3rd or 4rd year.

      Interesting about the ship anchors in farmer's fields. Where they once wetlands or could they have been buried to hide them when the could have been melted down for other uses??

      Wow on the preservation of the LaSalle ship.

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    2. The land that they were plowing once was part of the bay system, with ships sailing around and anchoring to send parties ashore. Natural subsidence, and silting from all the rivers that flow down to the bays and the Gulf, have transformed sea into land.

      Once upon a time, the entire center of our country was covered with what's called the Western Interior Seaway. That's why, when I visit the hill country, I often find fossilized clams, whelk-like creatures, or snails in the limestone. All that country once was seabed.

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    3. I didn't get a note that my original comment went through & was awaiting moderation. If it didn't, you might check spam.

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    4. I just checked my spam and didn't find anything in it of yours but I did find another comment that shouldn't have been there.

      That's interesting about how the bays area can get transformed from sea into land. Here, with our great lakes it's the opposite taking place, where land is getting eaten people losing land.

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  15. You were busy. And doing fun things, which is important to focus on. Your menu looks delicious. I'm not big on Cinco de Mayo, but a murder mystery dinner sounds like fun.

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    1. Of the two events the Murder Mystery dinner was the biggest hit. We're still talking about it.

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  16. Quite the whirlwind of Activities, all sounded fun and entertaining, You're fortunate that the Activities Calendar there is so well put together for the Community, that makes it ultra-special. I know my Mom enjoyed the Activities Calendar there in Cali, they did a good job and my Brother volunteered often to be part of it and said his Life didn't have as much going on as Mom's did. *LOL* That Menu sounded opulent and the price was reasonable IMO for such a gourmet selection... nom-nom. You could have Photographed some comparable Food Porn Jean!!!

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    1. I thought about how I should have photographed that dinner. It was served in courses and would have been easy to do. And it was plated so artistically.

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  17. Cinco de Mayo is less about Mexico and more about having an excuse to drink and party. Looks like you had a fun day.

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  18. Love your Maxine persona! Just reading about your busy schedule made me tired! ;-)

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    1. I didn't get dresses until noon yesterday. I'm making up for my busy week by being a toad this week. LOL

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  19. I admire your enthusiasm for dressing up and loved the Maxine Cruise pic! I generally get dressed in old type clothes because I know I'll be out in the yard or painting walls and can't figure out how I get the weirdo stains on my 'good' shirts so better to just start out expecting to get dirty.

    Manifest Destiny sounds like something the MAGA folk would decide for themselves. I learn something new every time I read your blog!

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    1. I asked for a part that had an easy costume to put together. Some of them were really, truly great.

      I learn from my readers as well.

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  20. In school, I learned about the French and Indian War in American history and the Seven Years War in European history. It wasn't until a vacation in Canada as an adult that I figured out these were the same war! Love your Maxine Cruise get-up!

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    1. It's funny how much more interesting history gets as we age and can see our own selves on the time line of progress.

      I loved playing the part in the dinner mystery.

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