The New Life

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That sounds really dramatic – a new life.

But EVERYTHING is different in the new town, the new house, new car, new Vet, new theater, new friends.
I still stay connected to a few of my old friends, but I was never a social butterfly, and as I look at possibilities for the upcoming years, there seems to be nothing but questions about my immersion into a new community.
Two nonprofit boards have approached me to join, and I have accepted. I just cannot come into a community and not expect to contribute to the organizations that make it work. The two that I have agreed to join are the homeowners association for my little group of town homes, and a regional theater company. I have not decided whether to work for compensation yet. My memory has never been great, but all the challenges of the year have left my cognitive abilities at a woefully inadequate level. I would love to teach piano and college level courses again, but both require more development. The last time I taught a full studio of 30 students it took about three years to build.
A fellow widow that has been providing friendly support since my husband died has been proofing my blog entries, sharing her own experiences, and talking about a continuing education curriculum for widows which will probably be the next challenge to complete. There is a local community college here, and the curriculum continues to take shape. Hopefully, after the holidays, I can find an appropriate group and venue for offering the curriculum. Last week a group of us chatted over dinner, especially about the challenges of widowhood: the feeling of isolation, the lack of a road map for how to deal with the reinventing of a life. They encouraged me, again, to work on the “class”.
But it is hard. Reading (of course) could infinitely defer/delay/derail the process. It is so tempting to just pick up a book and leave your life for a few hours. But then when I close the cover, I am back exactly where I was before.
I need to move forward.

As, a CPA, I am compelled to do it in an ordered, substantive manner. So – there needs to be some type of method of measuring progress. There must be a measurement tool, and a definition of items to measure, with a weighted evaluation scale. Ah, now I think I have my next project. Look out for the Widows Measurement Tool for Social Reintegration (maybe I can find a little more euphemistically acceptable name). That will do for a working title (WMTSR).

Let me know if you have a more creative title or experiences you would like to share!

Small Towns and Cable Challenges

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I have now been living in Small Town, USA for two weeks.

One of the first things I did on arrival (two weeks ago) was call the local cable company and ask them to install cable in my townhome. I had consulted several people about the various available options. There was already a dish hanging off the back balcony, but I really wasn’t interested in that choice.  There was also a manly movie option that offered no local programming, and one group offering cable but no phone and no internet. I really need all three, and really don’t want to work with three different vendors for those services.

I was spoiled, as are most people living in large metropolitan areas, by the availability of one major vendor who provided phone, internet and cable.  With VERY rare interruption, we enjoyed the world at our fingertips, including internet that was always there, cable channels that offered sports from around the world 24/7, a choice of 20 movies (most of the time) and LOTS of network options. My favorite relaxers were crime dramas – “Castle,” “Bones,” “Criminal Minds,” “Cold Case.” I was also a fan of the old movies.  Not long before I moved, one evening I ran across the old John Wayne film The High and the Mighty – a great tale of a plane full of passengers with engine trouble on the long flight between Hawaii and California. Those shows were my usual “downers” – a great old movie, a kitty or two for company, and a mug of warm tea. I know I could have rented the movie, ordered it from Net Flix, or found it several other ways, but there was always the joy of finding something that you would never have ordered right there on your screen, the perfect relaxer after a stressful day.

I also spent some time each day developing and coordinating the up and coming world of widow friends, through meetings, classes, web posts, and working on a curriculum for that group. Much of the new ideas came from surfing the net, finding little gems, sharing them with others, refining the course.

Now, all of that is pretty much dead in the water.  I called the cable company after a week and was told that they would get to me as soon as possible.  I called after two weeks, and was told that there was a long line of installations, and they would get to me before Christmas (it is now early November).

My sister lives in the same town (15 minutes away), but they already offer much support (unloading boxes, clearing the garage, introducing me at church) that I am working on alternative internet sources. There are several places in town, including the local coffee shop (an upstairs room with tables and great coffee), and the Big Grocery Store with a Starbucks (where I am now).

And so it goes for now (until Christmas??)

You will all hear the celebratory whoop when the cable man comes to my door, and the cats and I can surf the cable options for those lovely old movies and travel shows.

Halloween is alive and well

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In the large city where I lived for the last 30 years, Halloween had all but died.  When my children were small there was still a neighborhood pool, and we all knew each other (adults and children) from the summer swim meets.  There was a hay ride at Halloween, and caroling at Christmas.  But when the pool had to close, the mortar of the community was lost, and my children were no longer small.  By the time I left my very polite large city home, I knew only a few families. On Halloween, I would never get more than ten trick-or-treaters.

Tonight was Halloween in my new, small community.  I had been warned by the neighbors on our cul-de-sac of town homes that there would be A LOT of trick or treaters, and had bought a big 230-piece bag of goodies.  The revelers started coming about five o’clock despite chill temperatures and a slow drizzle (snow is forecast later tonight). By 6:30 my 230 piece bag was all but gone, so I called my sister who lives across town and asked if she had any candy remaining. She had no goulish guests, so she said she would bring me her bag (about 70 pieces).

But just getting into the cul-de-sac proved a challenge. By the time she arrived, I had handed out protein bars, individual bags of Trader Joe’s Omega Tek Mix, and (to a group of three high school guys), cheese sticks, telling them that they were lucking into to the healthy snack tonight. My sister left me a (laughing) message saying that she could not get up the hill to my house for all the revelers.  Eventually she arrived with the extra pieces.

The “official” end to the event must have been 7 o’clock, because the number of visitors dropped exponentially after that point.  I continued to give out the remaining treats, then ran out of treats at 7:30, and turned off my light. What a delightful experience it was!! There was every type of costume, from the very professional princesses, to wonderful improvisational “mud man”, and everything in between.  It was a great, polite crowd of all ages.

I love my new home.  I can’t wait to see what happens on Halloween when the weather cooperates! We’re already planning a party for all our Burnsville family members next year, with appropriate adult beverages, to enjoy the fun.

 

Moving Day

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Moving Day

Lots of people helped me get ready for the Big Move…my family (sister, brother, nieces, nephews,  sister-in-law, cousins…you get the idea – this was a major family project), friends, acquaintances, contractors…all helped prepare for The Move.

About a week prior to the vans’s arrival, we decided that we really needed help with packing.  I had spent a couple of days in our attic, and unloaded most of the things in the closets, and the bookcases (I think that even after purging I had over 700 books), but I had not even started on the kitchen. My kitchen had a lovely bookcase with too many cookbooks, plus a desk area with cabinets above, and two large file cabinets, plus china cabinet and (yes, really) 29 cabinets doors, two pantries, 38 cabinet doors and 16 drawers.  It was not going to be pretty. So I just asked the moving company to pack the kitchen and the balance of the attic. It took the team of four guys most of a day (Tuesday).

Wednesday was the final “prep” day. Thursday was Moving Day.  Thursday dawned a beautiful clear day with moderate temperatures. The movers were at the house about 5 hours putting boxes on the truck. We already had two storage spaces from the “staging” clean-out and other pre-move boxing, so they proceeded to those areas.  It was not pretty.  We ended with two 16-foot trucks (they were afraid they would need three, but stayed within two thanks to one of the most efficient truck loaders I have ever seen).

The drive to my new home was about five hours.  I thought I would meet them there about noon, but somehow did not hear the communication that they would leave at 5 am. Luckily, my sister was ready in the mountains with a key and they started putting furniture and boxes in the town home two hours prior to my arrival about noon.  The final clean out of the house with my Move Manager had taken about two hours . The cats and I left on our new adventure. They did amazingly well on the trip.

Boxes, boxes everywhere.  I did not make a final count, but estimate about 350 boxes. Oh, my.  The trick was to get all the furniture in, get the car in the garage, and then put unopened the boxes in the middle of the rooms.  There was barely room to walk.

And of course, my idea of where things were going to go did not fit the space sometimes, so things had to be relocated. I have to say, the four young men that made the final outloading were amazing and exceptional young men. They were always respectful and polite even the second (and on one occasion third) location for items. They did not leave until I agreed that all was where it should be.

To say that the house was overwhelming at that point would be the understatement of the year. At this writing, it is ten days later.  I still have about fifty boxes to unload (in addition to the garage storage shelves). It is beginning to feel like home – and the vision for the house is evolving.

But there is still a very long way to go.