Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. 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. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Crisis Averted and Other News from Party Central


The house got cleaned for the party I WAS going to have on Monday---more on that later---and the carpet cleaners showed up and I got all the furniture back where it belongs. Then all the electrical outlets in my kitchen quit working and I had to add going to a funeral visitation into my planning schedule this week. The person who died was the father of the son-I-wish-I-had so I couldn’t not go to give my condolences in person. I didn’t know the father well but I know his son and grandkids quite well, been to all the special occasions in their lives for the past forty-eight years. The son-I-wish-I-had is very religious and is comforted by his belief that he and his dad will meet up again in heaven. The heaven-theory doesn’t work for me but I’m glad it works for these people I care about. It gives them a sense of peace---that it's not over when it's over---and that’s all that’s important when grieving. Whatever works, works.

When you’re having a party it’s kind of important to have working outlets in your kitchen and the gods of things that can go wrong were working overtime to come up with this snafu. I tried the reset button on an AFCI/GFCI outlet plug in the kitchen but it wouldn’t budget and I checked the circuit breaker box in the garage but I couldn’t see any changes in there. Failing the limits of handyman skills involving electrical problems I called my brother and left a message saying I needed to talk to him sooner rather than later. 

I didn’t know my brother was down in Nashville, Tennessee, with his two stepsons and, he said, they were dragging him from bar to bar. He sounded like he was buzzed but he used to do a lot of electrical work so I was still hopeful my brother could help. Long story short the AFCI/GFCI buttons are designed not to work if the power isn’t coming to the line and he told me to go back out to the garage to look at the circuit breaker box in the morning when I could see it better and sure enough when I was standing in front of it a second time with good light I could see the little red square on the switch marked ‘kitchen.’ As per instructed in our phone conversation I pushed it right then left and went back to the kitchen to test the outlets. One worked the rest didn’t. Oops! I had forgotten my brother had also told me I might have to reset the reset button on the AFCI outlet as well as the breaker switch. My brother had asked me what I had plugged into the line and I told him that the last thing I had plugged in was a nightlight that made a poofing sound and turned the bulb black inside. “That’s enough to kick the circuit breaker," he said, “they're designed to be sensitive to keep you from getting shocked. Throw that damn nightlight out!” Which all goes to prove that a person with a good buzz on can still give great advice. Crisis averted. 

Another crisis I averted was accomplished when I decided I’d better figure out which knife in my arsenal would cut the crusts off tea sandwiches the best. Can you believe it, in my entire life this week is the first time I’ve ever tried doing that! I did find instructions online---don’t laugh because I learned about putting the bread in the freezer until firm. I had to experiment with timing the “until firm” part and I went through six knives before finding the perfect one. I felt like I’d just planted a flag on Mount Kilimanjaro; I even woke up the dog when I yelled out, “Yes!” when I had cut four perfectly square tea sandwiches. He was a happy camper, though, because Levi got to eat the crusts and filling that fell out of my experiment. 

 And then Mother Nature decided that since nothing else has worked to throw me off my party game she'd give it a try. The weather people started warning us about a "major ice storm" coming our way starting Friday night through Sunday night with snow on top of it for Monday. I have a driveway with a hill that's not safe for man or beast under those conditions, not to mention older women who could break their hips. So I called everyone to reschedule the party and, thankfully, everyone can come on Wednesday. I also reworked my menu to recipes that didn't require any last minute shopping, then I ran out to shop before it got hairy on the roads. Moving the party was the right thing to do for everyone involved. When the weather people talk about ice thick enough to bring power lines and tress down, you take it seriously.

My husband’s and my birthdays, our anniversary, the sadiversary of my mom’s death and my parent’s anniversary all fall in the first half of April and in past years they have collectively brought me down. But this year, with my birthday party planning to distract me---the first in many decades---I didn’t feel the punches of depression trying to beat the stuffing out of me. I haven't had the time for that!  ©

43 comments:

  1. I agree having working outlets are key, especially when you are having a party, I'm happy that your brother steered you in the right direction to fix it and even to eliminate the source of your electrical problem.

    I am glad that everything is coming together so well and that you are enjoying life, Happy Birthday my friend and many more happy days for you and perfect pieces of crust for Levi.

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    1. Ya, I'm lucky I have a brother to call because I don't know anyone else I could have called except a service I've never used and they can be a pain.

      Thank you for the birthday wishes and Levi thanks you too. Too bad Dixie can't come by to help him eat crusts and filling on party day when I make those tea sandwiches for real.

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  2. I can't believe you've never cut tea sandwiches! That was one of the first "kitchen tasks" I learned as a kid. Whenever the bridge club was coming to our house, it was my job to cut the crusts off the sandwiches. We never froze them, though. That was a new one. I still can remember the fillings: egg salad, pimento cheese, cream cheese with chopped dates and nuts. It was such fun. We'd do little fingers, or triangles. If you ever want to really impress, get out your metal cookie cutters and use those to cut the bread before putting in the filling: hearts for Valentine's day, clover for St. Patrick, and so on. For bridge club, we'd do hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. Oh, my. It wears me out just thinking about it now, but it was great fun.

    I'm glad you were able to solve that GFI problem, and that everyone can come on Wednesday. Sometimes, things do work out.

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    1. My mom belonged to a bridge club but she never served tea sandwiches (it was salads) and for everyday eating we would have gotten in trouble for even suggesting we cut the crusts of bread and waste good food. I read that online about using cookie cutters. The hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades would have worked well for an Alice in Wonderland theme. Do try the freeze until firm thing. It works SO good---assemble the sandwiches AFTER the bread has been in the freezer ten minutes, not before. How far ahead did you make your sandwiches? I'm doing them the morning of the party but I read they can be done the day before and stored in an airtight container with wax paper in between layers and a moist paper towel on top.

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    2. Ha! My crust-cutting days are over, I suspect. I don't have a clue how far ahead the sandwiches were made, but I think it was the morning of the party. As for wasting good food -- no chance of that. Getting to eat the crusts was my payment for helping out!

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    3. The morning of sounds safer. Thanks for confirming my instincts.

      How are you doing without Dixie Rose?

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  3. Wow, I was sitting here typing while it was raining. By the time I finished my reply to shoreacres it quit raining, the temperature dropped and everything is a sheet of ice! I'm glad I wasn't driving! Can't believe how quickly that happened.

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  4. Glad your party is coming together so well and it is wonderful that everyone can come on an ice free day! Hooray for your brother who helped you solve your electrical issue. You've put lots of work and thought into the planning of your April celebration...hope it is great fun. Happy Birthday! Ann

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    1. Thank you! We've never gotten together that laughter didn't reign supreme. I suspect this day will be the same but I do hope I don't screw up anything food related to become the butt of a few jokes.

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  5. Wow you have been busy young lady. I am impressed with you and your buzzed brother. :-) I can not believe you are having bad weather yet again. My goodness winter just won't stop. We had 85 yesterday and today and then it will be in the 50's -60's the rest of the week with rain etc.
    Your comments on heaven made me chuckle. My cousin and I have said that when her dad and mine pass,(borthers) boy are they going to be disappointment to find there is no purgatory. (I know, bad Margaret)

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    1. Not bad at all. Funny, actually. I have said things to my cousins about our moms or dads getting together in heaven and listened to many others talk about similar stuff and have made supportive comments that I didn't really believe. If it gives people comfort, that's all that counts.

      But I had a sister-in-law once about a month after Don died tell me she could see him in heaven surrounded by his x-girlfriends. I got a little miffed by that and she said, "Don't you want him to be happy in heaven?" and I said, "No, not if it involves other women!" She was serious and so was I. Not a great thing to say to a newly minted widow. Still ticks me off.

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    2. If Don didn't believe in Heaven, why did his sister think he'd be there surrounded by x-girlfriends?

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    3. Because religion and thus heaven were topics he and I never talked about with his family. They just all assumed we believed....

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    4. OMG! (sister in law) Sounds like my family and words said that I have to bite my tongue. Even if you do believe that heaven stuff you don't say that to someone. And if she can see this, I'd ask if she can see the winning lottery numbers too.

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    5. She was famous for saying things that shouldn't be said...one of her best and worst traits all rolled into one. LOL

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  6. Yes a very thoughtless comment. Hard to believe people have that kind of mindset.

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    1. Lots of things people say to new widows are thoughtless, and sometimes we're overly sensitive and take things wrong. A comment like that two years out probably would make me laugh but two weeks out I wanted to strangle her.

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  7. We are having similar weather. Our car is now coated in a layer of ice. It is not even supposed to go above freezing today. Good luck for Wednesday. Our forecast of this icy mix looks set to continue into next week. Let’s hope Spring arrives soon!
    I hope the party goes well.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Wednesday we're suppose to get in the high 40s so I'm not worried about that but I'm supposed to go to my biannual doctor's appointment on Tuesday and the ice better be gone by then or I'm going to sit right down and cry.

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  8. All those catastrophes had a purpose. They kept you focused on resolving them and spared you thinking about who wouldn't be there. Kind of a blessing--as was your brother.
    I still want pictures.

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    1. That's what I was thinking and has been a blessing. I'll do (some) pictures...if I remember to take them. I'm bad about that.

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  9. WOW! This is an all out tea party! So glad you changed the day! What fillings are you choosing?

    And ill thought out comments to new widows is WHY I started my blog. I still cannot believe what people say! Sheesh! Even though it will be 5 years next month, words can still hurt my heart. i.e. Well he was a lot older than you, weren't you expecting that? Actually, no, neither of us were expecting his to get cancer ... it is pretty unrelated to age, you know!

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    1. Someone told me that now that my (disabled) husband was gone I could start having fun. Thought that was terribly rude BUT I know she didn't mean it to be. People who makes comments like you, I and every other widow gets think they are offering comfort. I let the lesson guide me when I go to funerals and visitations and really watch what I say.

      The tea sandwich fillings are: 1) tuna and 2) cream cheese, cucumber and spinach.

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  10. My goodness! You really had to EARN this party, and it's supposed to be YOUR birthday celebration, too. As you said, the Party Gods really want to be sure YOU are sure about this bash.

    So glad all your efforts will not go unappreciated, and can't wait to hear all about how Wednesday goes.

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    1. I am sure. I'm excited to have my gal pals over. They've never been here and may never come again so I'm happy to have a reason to celebrate and ask them over.

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  11. Jean :

    you are such organized person & planner, I bet your party going to be huge fun & success. happy birthday in advance & have fab one

    Asha

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    1. I was always a planner, even in childhood---probably got it from my mom---and it served me well when I was in the working world. In fact,I'm trying to learn to be more spontaneous. Walk on the wild side. LOL

      Thank you for the birthday wishes!

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  12. I cannot wait to hear about this tea party!!! It's happening on the day you normally blog-Wednesday. Does that mean we have to wait a day to hear all about it? I used to use playing card, spades, clubs, etc. cookie cutters to make little sandwiches for our ladies pinochle parties. HAVE FUN!!!!!

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    1. I can't decide whether to keep my normal blog schedule and do the party results blog for Saturday or try write one for Thursday. I'm leaning towards a Thursday post.

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  13. Perseverance, as usual, gets the job done more than anything. Kudos to you, Jean - for your perseverance and your resourcefulness! Lucky Levi, for getting to eat the byproducts of your experiments! I love mini-schnauzers (been lucky enough to have 2 in my family so far) and hope to get another one when I retire. Stay safe. It's terrible here too.

    Deb

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    1. I've never lived without a dog in the house accept when I went to college. As an adult I've always had poodles until I got Levi. Schnauzer sure have different personalities from poodles!

      You stay safe, too. This ice storm was so wide spread!

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  14. Good hint on the tea sandwiches and the freezer. I've usually had pretty good luck cutting otherwise but that's one to remember. Do you cut the crusts before your fill them? That helps, too. (Just learned that one, too -- and I've been doing tea stuff for ages. Just goes to show...)

    I hate electrical problems more than almost any except water. Talk about messing up your life. But it sounds like this has been good in the end, a little more time to prepare and be less harried. And good that it kept you somewhat diverted from the sadness.

    Our roads are a mess this morning. We just got back from breakfast with friends and ugh. Between the ice and the rain, not a good day to be out -- so huddle in!

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    1. Our roads are a mess too...well, I assume they are. I haven't seen any cars going anywhere and we have thin ice over everything. I think it will be gone by Tuesday went the temps go up. Crossing my fingers because I have a bi-annual doctor appoint then!

      Nope, the directions I found online and have been experimenting with on says to make the sandwiches before cutting the crusts off and it works like a charm with the bread "stiff" from the freezer. Then you take a paper towel wet it and ring it out and put one on the bottom of an airtight box, put in the sandwiches in and add another layer of moist paper towel and stick them in the refrigerator until serving. Still experimenting with how far ahead you can do that. It's been fun learning something I should have learned 50 years go. LOL

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  15. I'm sure happy that you re-scheduled your party. This ICE problem is correct.
    I guess I'm one of those who believe that I'll see my parents in Heaven when I die but not for awhile. I hope to enjoy living a lot longer if possible.
    I'm like you, when there is an electrical problem, I will need. I tried to stick a screwdriver to loosen you a section and I got electrified. No problem but it could have been bad if I had scrwed the wrong area. I'm so scared now I won't even touch a thing.
    Well, what time do I arrive for the party? Not really. I'm just joking. Have a great time with your friends Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I know enough about electric that you don't do anything to an outlet or switch without using a tester on it first to see if it's live, or not. I'm quite sure I could put in swap them out because I've seen it done a lot of times BUT I'm dyslexia and that's not a great mix with electric.

      Come if you can get her by 12:00, Paul. But bring your wife for protection. We are all widows. LOL

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    2. Thanks anyway Jean. I don't think that Mary Lou would enjoy the party. I might. LOL See ya.

      Cruisin Paul

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    3. Not enjoy a party with seven women known to laugh their guts out when we get together? Bite your tongue, Paul.

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  16. One of our local newscasters referred to this as "the winter that refuses to leave" -- a good description. I've started to think about this season as "sprinter." I'm hoping that that the snow and ice we're getting today and tomorrow is winter's last blast and that by a week from now spring will be here for good. I hope your party is fabulous! JeanP

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    1. Thanks! "Sprinter" is a great word for this April.

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  17. Enjoy your party tomorrow, just have fun and a good time with your friends.
    Groetjes, Lian

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  18. OH NO!!! Again, I'm so far behind, it's like binging your party story and I'm so eager to get to the next installment. But I'd be so disappointed and bummed. Sounds like you are keeping your spirits up and still on track....

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    1. The next installment brings a worse problem than the electrical issue. LOL

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