Thursday, July 31, 2014

AWKWARD WIDOW NEW FRIENDS

syc·o·phant
ˈsikəfənt,-ˌfant/
noun
  1. a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.
    synonyms:yes-manbootlicker, brown-noser, toady,lickspittleflattererflunkylackey,
    spaniel,doormatstooge, cringer, sucksuck-up 


In just a few short months I have made a new friend here at the condos.  Mary Beth just happens to be our HOA Board Chair.  In the past we have agreed on so many topics with how the Board was working.  Not FOR the people.  But for themselves.  Interesting how such a tiny bit of power changes people for the worse.  Just like money.  When I would be outraged about stupid expenses that were not for the majority, or when the previous Prez abused the nepotism factor, and when she would spend money on things that were not budgeted for ... I would email people who would email people and that's how we first met.

Part of me feels bad about forming such a fast friendship.  We are about the same age (well, okay, I'm six months older).  She's funny, irreverent, thinking and upbeat.  The perfect combination.  She's erudite yet down to earth.  Has great self esteem but but knows exactly who she is and what she wants.

Best of all, she has invited me out for a few happy hours and convinced me to head up a committee that was out of control.  She also talked me into heading up the Newsletter which I really enjoy.

Tonight, after swim aerobics, I invited her over for "pink drinks" (her term) and a light supper.  Time flew and the Prosecco bottle emptied way too early.   I just don't want people to think I'm a sycophant!



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BEING AN AWKWARD WIDOW

As you might imagine, being a widow has brought a lot of changes to my life.  The sadness of missing him will always be there although the crying and depression are easing up.  Grief is a forever journey.

I have to say I feel pretty "free" about living, knowing everything that is on the calendar was put there by me.  My sleep schedule is totally not that of the typical senior citizen (although what IS typical?).  Usually I stay up too late and sleep my 8-9 hours.  I have turned into my parents having a S-L-O-W start with coffee and news and email and Facebook.  And then my volunteer duties.

But I manage to pack in many fun things into most every day.  A leisurely walk around the complex chatting with neighbors or just waving "hi" to them.  Going to the library usually followed by a trip to a coffee shop to get a start on my book.  Swimming and enjoying the Vitamin D poolside.  Often there is an errand to run or household chores to accomplish.  Call me crazy, but I even enjoy ironing!

My sister gave me a great book for my birthday last year (or was the two years ago ....) about living stronger, longer and happier (Master Class, by VP of Road Scholar, Peter Spieres).  The 50+ crowd should evaluate our schedule to ensure we include physical, mental, social and creative activities.  Some activities include all of these angles.

Mostly, I'm happier than I have any right to be.  I hope it is because I found the best combination of hustle and bustle things and restorative things.  It's time for me to add another creative outlet (besides cooking ... which I love!).

I'm an avid Facebook member and today's quote from Humans from New York just sums it up for me.

"I underestimated the pleasures of an unstructured life.”


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

There are 112 condo units in my complex, 8 units per building.  It is a beautiful neighborhood with mature trees just a block or two from the Willamette River as well as the lake in the other direction.  We have curving concrete pathways connecting us which are perfect for a little meandering.

We have a hired Property Management Company but the rest is up to volunteers.  The Board is five volunteers.  Several committees ... landscaping, communication, architectural, clubhouse, guest suite, pool and building captains.  

Like a little old fashioned neighborhood ... or the new and improved verbiage "village" ... we help each other out.  Our building captains are the first front for residents to ask questions.  This year the captains ask each resident to complete a form with some basic "in case of emergency" information.  This year they added another question ... who locally has a key to this unit besides you.

One condo is a vacation rental.  This winter the unit upstairs had a dishwasher leak into the downstairs rental unit.  The owner lives in southern California and no one here knew how to get into the unit in a timely fashion.  Of course it happened on a weekend which made it more difficult to contact the rental owner.  Most of us hide a key (and we all know where to find each other's) and some of us give a neighbor a key (which is what I do).

Early this summer, a son in Seattle received a phone call from his mother's employer.  She had not shown up for work on Friday (without calling, which was out of character for her and it was a relatively new job) so on Monday when she again did not come in, the employer called.  He spent the weekend calling and texting to no avail.  Finally he contact his mother-in-law who lives in nearby Vancouver, Washington to come knocking.

The police were called and the fire department broke in a window.  The owner was found dead in her bed.  Heart attack at age 59.  Shockingly horrible for all of us.  And sad and scary that she wasn't neighborly enough for us to notice she hadn't been seen for a while.

For all of us who live alone, it was a very unpleasant reminder that we should touch base every day with someone.  

Do you?

Monday, July 28, 2014

OREGON vs MAUI

Being near the little family is so much fun.  Especially when the weather is perfect for being outside and swimming.

Yesterday we went to the Zoo at 10:00 am while the animals are still active.  Kate brought along her 11 year old neighbor girl who has become a "mother's helper."  Jesse opted to stay home for a day of very quiet time ...

We spent about three hours and had a really fun time.  Complete with lunch and Dippin Dots (outrageously expensive tiny balls of ice cream) which I thought would be fun for the 3 year old yet really pleased them ALL.

After all that walking (yes, I took Alleve and Tylenol to keep the knees from being too big of an issue), we came back and enjoyed the pool for quite a while, then Braeden, Deacon and Mom took a nap while KJ and I had "races" in the pool.

Wow.  Did I sleep great last night!


I'm so much busier in Oregon, even if it were all just family stuff.  Honestly, I could see them every day for some reason (but I hold myself back to once a week or so)(and bribe them with a meal!).  When you add in my condo neighborhood (mostly retired folks), 30+ years of friendships, more retail therapy, my doctors/dentist, and the ability to take a road trip mini-vacation ... Oregon sure wins my heart.

But based on the two cool rainy days last week, I'm sure glad I will miss out on five months of that!  I could hardly make myself go out and I surely did not take a walk!  Most likely, I would hole up with the fireplace going.  With my bestest friend, my laptop.

Can't wait to see what Maui brings this year!

Friday, July 25, 2014

MISOPHONIA

Now that's a word that was totally new to me.  But it did bring this Awkward Widow some memories of Mr. Ralph and living with another.  Hopefully most people have had some irritating things about their spouse or significant other!!

These are usually small things in the scheme or life, but occasionally become a HOT topic in the midst of life.  Or a quiet moment.  When he chews his ice.  Crunch.  CRUNCH.  CRUNCH.  How can it be that loud (and remember, I didn't have hearing aids then ...)  I imagine it was the same for him when I'd have my potato chips in the evening while watching TV or a movie.  CRUNCH!

Just so you know  We had a really, really great relationship, but it wasn't always perfect.  In fact, rarely was it perfect.

In fact, I got the best compliment yesterday from our friend Beth.  We met her through another friend, we loaned her our Maui cottage, she had us over for dinner and to meet her new beau.  She recently married this wonderful man.  At lunch she said she so admired our 29 year relationship ... from what she could see.  That was her goal if she should ever marry.  And that's when she knew David was the "right" one for her.  Because he reminded her of Mr. Ralph.

But I don't think she knew about how he made a big loud harumph after he sneezed.  Every. Single. Time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WIDOW WISE FURNITURE

Oh my gosh.  I've gone and done it now.  After just a bit of research (well, and hours online at Pinterest, Wayfair, Amazon, CB2, IKEA, Overstock, etc) I just ordered a sofa and loveseat. Semi-custom made!

About five blocks from here is a little shop called Sofas by Design.  Never judge a book by its cover!  It's something I've driven by for years.  Rarely anyone in the parking lot. Turns out it's a one woman show helping people pick just the right piece of furniture ... for THEM.

I didn't know I could get a sofa a little higher than normal.  Or one with less depth for leg comfort.  And choose the firmness of the seat cushions!   For the same price as sofas at JC Penney and Macy's.  Of course I also got to pick the arm style, the leg style and color, the seat back cushions, two pillows and the fabric.

These new pieces will be much more scaled to the condo size.  I love love love my burgundy and navy blue oriental rug but was tired of oversized manly navy blue leather furniture.  Oh gosh, I can hardly wait the 6-8 weeks for delivery.


In addition to color, texture and coziness is very important to me.  The above photo shows the swatches during daylight on the carpet.


Here are the top four contenders on the wall (everything is vanilla!) with lamplight. 

I chose the greenish tinted one on the top row, all the way on the right.  Which happens to be the top one when lined up on the wall!  I hope I like it when it's all put together.

Then I splurged and got a really comfortable sleeper chair (converts to twin XL bed) for the den.  I may get two guests at the same time.  Someday?  I was prompted by Kate and Jesse and the two babies.  Braeden and I share the King high tech bed (two twin XL mattresses on a deluxe bed so it can sit one of us up and vibrate the other).  Kate and baby take the Queen bed in the guest room.  Poor Dad ... he got the aerobed in the living room.  SOOOO ... if we should ever need to all live here again ... everybody's happy.



In the meantime ... come visit!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

POO POURRI

As a follow up to yesterday's blog .....

A friend posted an ad for Poo Pourri on Facebook last year. As a joke.  It was a YouTube commercial by a beautiful young woman discussing the smell associated with pooping.  It was so incredible I had to find out if it was a real product.  It is!''



Because we all know there is no "aroma" involved with a bowel movement.  (Except for infants ... especially breast fed).  Perhaps more like ...



If your marriage was similar to mine, this was an issue we had.  Sometimes even air freshener didn't quite do it.  I'd change fragrances and brands every week because soon the hint of the cover up smell was as annoying as the actual smell.

The concept of Poo Pourri is that you spray the toilet bowl BEFORE you make a deposit.  It puts a slightly oily coat of enticing aroma (mine is an herbal blend of bergamot, lemongrass and grapefruit) on top of the water in the bowl.  Simply go about your business, then flush.  It really works!


It really made co-habitating a lot easier.  I even have a little spritzer I carry in my purse.  Isn't it nice to know you are not the ONLY person with this problem?

OK.  Tomorrow I'll move on to a different topic











Monday, July 21, 2014

PERFECT POOP

Hey!  If Oprah can do a show with Dr. Oz about poop ... surely this Awkward Widow can do a little blog post.  Regardless of the ICK factor, what we deposit in our toilet is pretty important to understanding our health...and any changes.

While Kate was in hospital for an obstructed bowel, the Doctor prescribed daily MiraLax for a few weeks to keep things running through smoothly.  It is a laxative which I didn't think I needed, but I decided to try a high fiber product.  I chose Benefiber.

It can be stirred into hot drinks or cold drinks.  No thickening or chunks.  I remember my parents using Metamucil and ICK on that stuff.  Metamucil uses psyllium which is a non soluble viscous-causing additive and is a laxative.  Benefiber is wheat dextrin (gluten free) which is a type of soluble fiber.  It is grit free, sugar free, taste free and dissolves completely.  Unlike Metamucil or Miralax, it is NOT a laxative. 

Miralax, on the other hand, is polyethylene glycol which draws water into the bowel.  After reading about all three of these ... I'm going to caution Kate to switch to either Metamucil or Benefiber.  Miralax does not sound like a good thing to be on forever.  Once she is more "regular" Benefiber seems the safest!

Hooray for the internet and Google for helping me with some information to share!  What you see and smell in your toilet can provide important information regarding your health.

Look, Listen and Smell Before You Flush

What's normal and what's not when you look into the toilet? The following table will help you narrow down what to look for, so that you aren't needlessly alarmed. Of course, there are a few signs that ARE cause for concern, and those are listed too. If you have a change in stools accompanied by abdominal pain, please report this to your physician.4
Healthy StoolUnhealthy Stool
Medium to light brownStool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining
Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of piecesHard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off
About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches longNarrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely warrant a call to your physician5
S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine6Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice; if you have black, tarry stools, it's best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider
Quiet and gentle dive into the water...it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little "whoosh" sound – not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a showerWhite, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician; antacids may also produce white stool
Natural smell, not repulsive (I'm not saying it will smell good)Yellow stools may indicate giardiainfection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert's syndrome – if you see this, call your doctor
Uniform texturePresence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)
Sinks slowlyFloaters or splashers
Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain

(http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/14/normal-stool.aspx)



So rest assured dear readers.  Things are working quite well in my life.  The shape, consistency, odor and color all meet Dr. Oz's guidelines. Check your deposits as well!

Positively perfect!



Sunday, July 20, 2014

LONELY LADY ....

Isn't this journey interesting?  Grieving is such a tumultuous ride.  As everyone has mentioned, time is just about the only thing that softens the trail.  Somewhat.



I have a special pocket for Mr. Ralph.  He's always with me when I need him. I feel him with me when I'm at his favorite places.... or doing his favorite things.  Sometimes I crave one of his wacky treats (which I normally do NOT eat)(donuts or ice cream!).  

Today I walked to the Farmer's Market.  For the first time, I didn't cry or get teary eyed.  That was one of his favorite things to do.  So I just enjoyed it for him.  Without succumbing to getting a fresh made donut.  In the past, if parking was an issue, I would jump out of the car, stand in line for donuts, then he would pick me up.

Memories.  Maybe I'm not so lonely after all.






Friday, July 18, 2014

OFFICIALLY OLD

Today I filed my application to receive Social Security.  

But I feel pretty hip since I did it online.  As you may remember, I went to my local Social Security office on my birthday but they told me that I could only choose one account on which to draw and if I started at age 62, I would receive 75% of my PIA (primary insurance amount) or 75% of my deceased Mr. Ralph's PIA (3 times the amount of mine) .... forever.

WRONG!  

Last night my local Adult Community Center had a presentation on Women and Social Security.  WOW!  There were just six of us ladies listening to a financial planner who has the most informational PowerPoint slide show.  Even better than that ... he answered each individual question from his audience!

I am allowed to take my PIA early, with the penalty.  In four years, I can collect his at the full amount.  


TGIF!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

MUSIC IN THE PARK

This Awkward Widow is enjoying finding low cost entertainment.  Especially if it can include being outdoors.

My city of Lake Oswego, OR (population 37,000) has an amazing Parks and Rec department.  All of our city parks have FREE wi-fi.  So even if I just want to be outside but not on my front patio (cute as it is), I can mosey on down three blocks to sit near the Willamette River or the little water feature river or the shelter house at Foothills Park.

Millennium Park, about four blocks the other direction, is on the lake and is home to our Farmer's Market.  This park has Friday lunchtime concerts as well as Sunday evening concerts.  They also show family movies each week in August.  We residents are pretty lucky!

During the summer, Foothills Park has free concerts on Weds evenings.  I have a little red wagon (Radio Flyer, made in America!) now to take my picnic blanket, snack, and Braeden.  It starts at 7pm and goes to 9pm.  

Lots of neighbors and friends also go.  Sometimes we get organized and go together .. usually it's last minute and we simply run into each other.  I try to go at 6:30 as I like being in the shade!!


Monday, July 14, 2014

AWKWARD HEARTBURN

Well sheesh!  I have had heartburn maybe once before in my life.  Tonight it is after eating fresh fruit and cottage cheese???  What's up with that?  I'm not meant to be healthy??  It's an omen.

My whole social life revolves around food.  Yesterday was a BBQ at our condo complex.  This morning it was gluten free breakfast with the couple who got married at our house all those 30 years ago.

So now I need some ideas of things to do that don't involve calories. Maybe I need a social worker!   Coffee is good (now that I no longer add cream).  What else???


Saturday, July 12, 2014

AGING WITH ATTITUDE

These three little words sum up my quest for the next 40 years or so.  I found this catchy phrase on Senior Planet while reading their "best of show" for electronics for boomers and beyond.

Recently I'm paying more attention to aging and how I will manage on my own.  Somehow having Mr. Ralph at my side allowed me to not bother my pretty little head on this topic.  I guess I figured we would work things out together.  

I joined my local Oregon Adult Community Center.  I'm volunteering to help set up a three town "village" which helps us remain at home but have access to services not provided by our friends and neighbors or church or senior center or county.  In hopes that I can pay it forward while I am able.

This week I'm attending a class about Women and Social Security.  No matter what phase of life I'm in, there is always something to learn.  And I sure like learning. I hope I stay open to that.

There are quite a few senior single ladies here at the condo complex and most of them are afraid of computers and unwilling to learn something new.  Heck!  They don't even want me to rearrange the pool furniture "because that's the way we've always done it."  

Don't let me be like that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

OWIE!

I know, I know.  I've not kept you informed.  Another crazy week!

In the middle of the night after the 4th of July fireworks, Kate tapped me awake to ask for a ride to the hospital.  Severe stomach pain.  She had mentioned earlier that she thought she might have food poisoning because she felt nauseous and was experiencing pain.

Fortunately, the Emergency Room at 3:00 am on/after a holiday was relatively calm.  No missing arms or legs or bleeding of any kind.  She had a great doctor and a bitchy nurse.

Because she was a pain killer addict, it takes a special kind of medicine that is not as addictive AND she needs a much larger dose.  Blood was drawn and an ultrasound performed.  Not gall bladder or kidney stones.

More doses of pain meds and she could finally straighten up for an x-ray ... which proved inconclusive.  Finally a CAT scan which showed a bowel obstruction!  Apparently the worst sort of pain ... more painful than kidney stones and labor and whatever.

At 9:00 am she was admitted to the hospital.

Meanwhile, back at the condo ... Jesse and I are managing both boys and the dog and trying to keep Braeden from being too worried.  We went for a short visit each day.  She wanted to keep the baby with her but it just wasn't practical.

Because of the medications, she had to pump and dump her precious milk.  We had some frozen breast milk that we could use for baby Deacon.  Her supply fell to less than half her normal amount.  They upped her intravenous fluids to try to help.

Finally was released ... she had to "toot" because she could get anything other than ice chips.  Once she made a "deposit", she could be discharged.  Talk about praying for a nice big dump!  Late Monday night I brought her home.  Naturally she was sore and weak, so they all stayed until late Weds night.

Here it is Thursday morning, almost noon, and I'm still in my pajamas!  What a houseful!  I had some major bonding with baby and with the Super Dad.  More on him later.  Needless to say, I'm very impressed with these guys!

Friday, July 4, 2014

MAKING MEMORIES

I am making new memories.  And it's all about the little things.  A lot are based on my past.

My family lives in Ohio.  Once a year, I would pack up my kiddo and we would spend a week or two visiting.  We always stayed with my parents which is where one of my (and Kate's) fondest memory is.  Kate would go to bed before the adults (for the first few years anyway).  My Dad had a sweet tooth and after Kate had brushed her teeth and gotten all settled in ... he would bring her a cookie!  When they started going to bed before she did, Grandpa would wrap a cookie in a napkin and put it on her pillow.


I could have raised a big fuss about clean teeth and sugar and processed food, but what a little bond she had with her Grandpa.  She thought it was such a fun "secret" between them.  I'm not sure she still knows that we all knew he was doing it!

My little secret is not food related.  Braeden and I read an age appropriate book once he is snuggled into my bed.  Clutching his bedraggled half stuffed lion, we quietly read and talk about the pictures (sometimes his parents don't want to linger over his million questions, but Gramma's always do).  Then ... when we think they think we are asleep ... we watch a baby video on the iPad.  Usually he is asleep five minutes into it.



So sweet.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FUNEMPLOYED WIDOW

Fun employed!  That is just the PERFECT word for my life at this stage of the game.  Not employed.  Not unemployed.  FUNemployed!  I saw this word on a beach bag today while I was out searching for the perfect wallet purse.

My goal was to have a wallet on a string that would also hold my cell phone.  For those times when I don't want to lug my gramma purse that holds bandaids, Dum Dum lollipops (just the right size for a bribe or reward!), bug repellent, cosmetics, wet wipes, spare diaper, nail file, tooth floss, Alleve (for those pesky knees), matches, small flashlight, tissues, gum, bottle of water, etc.

And at Nordstrom Rack I found the answer!  Twelve slots for cards, two slots for bills, a bit of room in between.  Handy spot on the outside for the iPhone.  And a wristlet.  I had no idea they cost so much since I usually buy my accessories at Target or Walmart.  But I needed something other than plastic or nylon.  I had been looking a few weeks ago and lamenting to my kidlet about paying $60.  She scoffed and told me that was a good deal for the Coach wallet I was eyeing.  Of course, today it was long gone.  



Once I was sure I was going to take out the second mortgage, it looked pitiful being put inside my well worn nylon Ameribag.  Said kidlet has been trying to convince me that wearing the Ameribag across my body was not flattering.  (Even though if she or the babies need anything, she is thankful it's all in there somewhere.)

The Marc Jacobs black and grey leather tote with hot pink handles took my breath away.