End of Chemotherapy-Yay

 

This will not be a long post but….I wanted to let my followers know that today my great nephew Ward got to ring the bell. Chemotherapy is done. Yay. Today Ward and his family and friends celebrated the end of this phase of his treatment. There was a party at National Children’s Hospital of Columbus (Ohio) to celebrate this milestone.

 

Ward arrived at the Magic Forest, off the lobby of the hospital, to be greeted by friends and family to celebrate. With the help of his parents he rang the bell and the celebration was on. Cake was eaten, well Ward, I heard, ate enough icing for four adults.

 

 

 

 

Below are photos of family celebrating for Ward in different areas of the country.

Aunt Adrienne

Grandparents and parents

Florida Grandparents

 

Great Uncle Frank

Cousin Quinn

 

Great Aunt Ginny

Now everyone is home and probably tucked in for the night. My sister Ruth and her husband, Joe are there and I am sure everyone is taking a deep breath and letting it out. No more chemo trips to Children’s for them.

Although frequent CT scans are in the future for several years to come, right now Ward can become a toddler. He will have to be careful to stay away from the sick adults and children. He will, however be able to do more and more and become a normal social toddler.

I could not be more proud of my niece and her husband. They function as a loving and caring unit. I am glad they are part of our family.

It was a good day today.

Ward Revisited

Flight 93 National Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am on my way west. I have been traveling west, though Pennsylvania and Ohio for a week. It has been wonderful to meander west without too much hurry. I pushed east last March to arrive in the Columbus area to help my niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip with their son, my great nephew-Ward. On this westward journey, I have the pleasure of stopping and seeing all kinds of interesting places, including my niece and her family, once again.

Ward is still in active treatment for childhood cancer. The good news is, he has one more chemotherapy treatment, next Friday. At the end of that visit he gets to ring the bell at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, marking the end of this phase of his treatment. Whew, I believe we will be happy to see this phase of treatment end.

Dad & Ward

Throughout treatment Ward has remained a rambunctious and active toddler. He will celebrate his second birthday in early June. Since I saw him in March he has grown and his hair has become fairer. He is putting his words together a little more. He remains an absolutely charming young boy.

It has been interesting to revisit with this part of my family again. Brittany and Trip continue to support each other and Ward. I appreciate their honesty in dealing with a most difficult situation.

Next month Ward has surgery to remove his port. Quarterly CT scans will continue to be apart of their life for many years. Now this might sound routine yet I know how much this will create stress, with each scan for years to come. they will hold their breath until the results come back. Ward on the other hand will continue to grow as a strong, young boy should. He will not hold his breath, we will all do that for him.

He has a most loving and supportive family around him. My sister, Ruth and her husband, Joe now live in two states. During the warmer months they will be in Ohio. They have bought a condo in a town near this young family. They are here to babysit and help in whatever way they can. Ward will return to day care and pre-school, part time, in the fall and will return to full time in the New Year. Ruth and Joe will remain in Ohio until he returns to full time. They also have a home in northern Florida and will probably be glad to see it when the snow arrives in their Ohio home.

I am glad this family has welcomed me with such grace and loving, open arms. I know it will be quite a while until I see all my family again. The west is calling and I must go. It helps me to travel and explore knowing I am loved and supported by all of my families. Who are these families that I speak of?

Tomorrow I will leave here and begin first to travel north to the south shore of Lake Erie, visit with a long time friend of mine in northern Indianna, mid-week and then head west.

Today I am feeling especially thankful and grateful for my family and the time I have had to visit with them. Now it is time to continue my adventure-Life.

Getting ready to move on, Miss Elsie and me.

A Sight Seeing Day

Late last week I said a regretful farewell to my sister, packed Miss Elsie and me back into the Roadtrek and began to meander west through northern Pennsylvania. It has been a pretty ride.

I wandered to State College to visit some other Roadtrek people. Mary Jane and Toby were delightful. They gave the whole front of their home to Elsie and me. People are so kind and generous. This was the first time I met them. I was given a wonderful tour of the town and the campus of Penn State. Mary Jane and I spent most of the time talking and enjoying each other’s company.

Today I began to head south and west again. I did not get very far. I became distracted by one of those familiar brown signs on the side of the highway, which usually indicate something of national interest. This time it was a sign that said Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. Well, I just had to see what it was so I exited and took a tour, self guided.

At the top of the incline there was a train barn.

Pennsylvania, it seems was concerned about losing population and business to New York, so they decided to build a canal, east-west, across Pennsylvania. It just so happens that the Allegheny Mountains got in the way, so, if you can’t go around them, then darn it you are going over them. As part of the canal system they built a railroad system of ten inclined planes, five up and five down. They rigged up a fancy pulley system, put the boats on the rail cars and hauled them over the mountains. It was a part of the canal system. With the completion of the Mainline Canal they could move goods and people across the state in five days instead of almost a month.

Skewed Arched Bridge-the trains went through this

Now, I love trains and I had no idea of this history or this site. It was a fascinating morning and worth the stop. I spent time in the visitor center before I hiked to see all the areas that remain of one of the inclined planes. It was well worth the stop.

When I was finished with this tour, I move southwest a little more and visited the Flight 93 National Memorial. Whew-what a touching place. I debated whether I wanted to go there or not and I am glad I chose to go. It was very peaceful and very well done. I along with many others left a little prayer for the spirit of the place. I am glad they have done something like this in our country to remember the events and the people involved of 9/11.

This is the entrance to the visitor center. The black walkway indicates the path of descent of the flight.

A 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center is this wall with the names of the passengers and crew etched into it.

 

 

Now I am camped on a beautiful lake and trying to figure out my day tomorrow. Elsie and I took a walk after we arrived here but she got nervous about the water so I carried her on most of the walk.

I find after I have been visiting with others I enjoy the quiet of the evening alone. It is my regrouping time. I know I need keep moving west. Pennsylvania is another big state and I could spend a lot of time here. Everywhere I go there is so much to see.

Tonight I am grateful for another day on this earth.

Plugged in & Getting Ready-Time to Head West

This morning after  a run to the post office, I returned to my sister’s, backed into my parking space and plugged EmmyLou the Roadtrek into shore power. Today was different though. Today I turned on the refrigerator. Today I did the wash. Today I began the prep for departure. Yes it is May and the west is calling.

Three generations. My two sisters Ruth & Ginny, Adrienne my niece and her daughter Quinn-just turned 2.

It is also good not to overstay my welcome. My sister, Ginny would never turn me away, but I also know it is time to go and give her and her husband and Kitty Lepore their home back. It has been a marvelous stay. On this trip east I have gotten to see all of my birth family. That is unique unto itself, especially when one lives in Florida, another in Ohio, and more in northern New Jersey. Oh and even though I sold my home in San Diego, I know the west will always be home. Like many in this large country we are scattered throughout and this is no small country.

I have no plans except to head west. Elsie and I will take it one day at a time. I am looking forward to meandering west rather than driving those long hours like I did to arrive in Ohio. I came across the south part of the country coming east. Going west, I will drive across the north part of the country as I head for Boise, Idaho.

Why Boise?, one may ask. I have been offered a wonderful opportunity. In early June I am going to Alaska for 2 weeks on a small cruiseship,  in the Inside Passage, southeast AK. The ship holds up to 75 people. I will be traveling with a friend of mine, Leslie. These ships get into places big cruise ships cannot. It is an active tour so there will be hiking and kayaking involved. I have always wanted to explore this part of Alaska more intimately, and now I have the opportunity to do just this.

Elsie cannot cruise with me. She is going on holiday in Boise with friends of mine, Linda & Steve. We seem to exchange animal sitting duties. El will be hanging out with Poncho the pup, Misty the, usually, invisible cat and Ophir who spends most of his cat time outside on gopher and mole duty. Although she may not be fond of the mix, she knows all of them so she will adjust for a few weeks while I am gone. And my heart is warm and glad that I can turn to this wonderful couple, my friends.

For the next few days I will be packing and putting everything into it’s proper place. Each time I stay somewhere for a while I find the need to nest again. There is usually a transition period, too. I get used to being around people and I find there is a period of adjustment that I need to make, when I return to my solo and nomadic life. This is an interesting phase of travel. When I was younger I consciously planned to be single my whole life. There was no need for a period of adjustment. I was happy and content. Then I met Jim. Since his death, over five years ago, being solo and single is different. I need to explore this period of adjustment, embrace it and allow it to be. Sometimes I get frustrated. I have been known to delay a trip by a few days, because I don’t feel well. I associate this with stress and needless worry and fear. I think it has gotten better. The first trip in 2013 I delayed by a week. Once I am in and on board I turn to enjoying myself as I explore new places. I really do enjoy my little home on wheels. Buying my Roadtrek was the best decision I ever made. I explore in comfort and at my leisure.

Time to pack.

 

 

Have a Look Around

imagesHave you ever taken a look around this blog?  Depending on whether you have a phone or lap top or computer, the site looks different but all the logistics are there. I know many of you read my blog through Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. With the current issue regarding Facebook and Cambridge Analytics, I know some people are considering pulling out of Facebook. You may want to follow this blog another way.

There is another way to read and follow my blog. If you are on a computer or laptop or a tablet (iPad), on the left hand side of the screen, and you scroll under the picture of my Roadtrek, you will find a message that either says that you can follow this blog or that you are already following it. If you click on this it will lead you to a form to sign up to follow the blog. With each new post you will receive an e-mail informing you that there is a new post. There is no advertisement, no signing in. All you need to do is give an e-mail so you can receive a notification.

Next down the left side is a photo of my website. After five months of preparation my photography web site went live about four months ago. If you click on this picture it will take you to my web site, jarnoldarts.com. You can explore and enjoy the photos. All photos are for sale.

The green Go Fund Me is a way that you can contribute to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship was set up shortly after my husband, Jim, died of cancer. He was involved with the Community College system in California for 25 years. His belief in higher education never wavered. He supported the college and the students one hundred percent. The scholarship is now perpetual, yet, donations are always gratefully received.

As most of you know my great nephew, Ward is dealing with cancer treatment. He is almost two years old. He has one month of chemotherapy to go. Caring Bridge is a web site where you can follow Ward’s story. It has been helpful for his parents not to have to tell his story over and over again. You can leave messages of support.

Underneath this information are books that I have read that I really love and yes if you contact me I will add others. Some of the websites that I follow and are important to me are underneath the book dropdown list. You may want to check some of these out. They are varied and interesting.

The Archives finish this left side. If you click on them you can read past posts. These date back to July 2013 when this blog was first started.

There it is. Take some time to explore. It is always good to pause and read more than the post on many blogs. I enjoy exploring the blogs I follow. There are often little tidbits on these sites that I find interesting. I get to know the person a little bit. I enjoy the photos and it helps draw me back to read more.

 

Coming Home to Yoga

36083733c10b9844a11f2915930b3131
Have you ever had these moments in your life where it felt like you were coming home, invisible arms are there to welcome you? It may not be a physical place, it may not be an emotional place but still it feels like you are welcomed in and it is comfortable and real and important. It is your place.

I have been practicing yoga since the 1970’s. Those early classes were quite interesting as the eastern Asian flavor of those classes were strong. I would practice faithfully for a time, sometimes a semester, sometimes for years and then it would be abandoned, although, obviously not forgotten, as I would return to it again.

Jim, my husband who died 5 1/2 years ago, and I practiced yoga for a number of years. We started with a private center that eventually closed and we did not practice much. One day Jim asked me if I wanted to take a yoga class at  Grossmont College. Jim was a dean at this school. He had heard that the teacher, Jennifer, was getting rave reviews. Once again I returned to yoga. We took a several semesters and yes the students were correct. Jennifer is a superb teacher.

We also belonged to they YMCA. One day, at our local class they had a guest instructor, Lisa. I realized I had met another extremely good yoga teacher. I immediately went home and told Jim. We began a regular Sunday morning practice at the McGrath YMCA, where Lisa is a regular teacher. Jim and I practiced yoga routinely until his death. We even did yoga in his hospital room.

Both of these women continue to be dynamic teachers. Even better, they are both my friends. After Jim died, Jennifer invited me to attend classes at the college when I felt up to it. I was always invited. She also took me, as her guest, to Rancho La Puerta. The Ranch is a spa just south of the border, in Mexico. I could practice yoga to my heart’s content and enjoy many other amenities of the spa. I felt loved and taken care of.

Lisa and I have remained in touch, although I no longer belong to the YMCA in San Diego County. I delight in our continued contact and remain inspired by her as a teacher and a friend.

As I have begun to travel more, yoga has gone from a regular practice to an infrequent one. I know I could practice on my own, yet I feel much more inspired when I take a class and practice with others. I have gotten lazy and dealing with depression last winter did not help. I preferred to hole up rather than venture out, even when I know yoga is something I love doing and knew it would help me feel more whole and complete.

Today I attended a yoga class at the Kula Wellness & Yoga Center. As I walked through the front door I felt like I had come home. It was warm and inviting and welcoming. The people and the teacher were glad to see me, even though it has been more than two years since I had been there. I felt like I belonged. The class was a mixed level class and focused more on poses than a flow. We took a short time to meditate and relax before and after class. The breathing exercises cleared my sinuses. There were people of all ages in attendance. My body was happy to stretch and get the kinks out. My spirit is extremely happy at the moment and I am generally very content this afternoon. When I practice yoga, the world looks just a bit brighter, even on a gray and somewhat rainy day.

Why is it that those good things I do for myself often get shoved to the side? Why do I postpone or put them off? Is it the human condition? Who knows. I often have to remind myself that it is OK to stop my day and go to class. There is nothing else that I may be doing, which cannot be put off for an hour or two so I can focus on all levels of my being by taking just one class. Slowing down is OK. Being aware is OK. Taking care of myself is OK and a must.

Today I bought a 5 class pass. Since I am going to be in NJ for a few more weeks, the pass will encourage me to return to Kula for more yoga so I can continue to feel happy and content and stretched out. On these gray days, I choose not to be on my bicycle or hiking when it is only 40 degrees out (brr), yoga is a good and thoughtful alternative for my whole being.

Once again I have returned home. Ahhhh…..

 

Volunteering to Help Animals-BARKS Garage Sale

These past 4 days have been busy. I volunteered to help my sister, Ginny, who lives in northern NJ, with the semi-annual BARKS  Garage Sale. The money from this super big and somewhat crazy garage sale goes to help the local animal shelter in this rural community.

For two days I helped set up. People were coming in trucks and cars and sometimes U-Hauls to drop off their “stuff”-soon to become someone else’s treasure. It is amazing the things people have and the things that people no longer want. All the volunteers helped sort through the boxes and put things up on tables. There were drinking glasses everywhere. The used electronics tent was filled to the max. Every holiday treasure that is no longer considered a treasure was delivered to us. The volunteers in that tent had their hands very full with unloading and sorting and placing objects-Christmas-Easter-Halloween-Thanksgiving and more. I am sure you get the idea. The Art tent was burgeoning with paintings, photos, and frames. Crafts supplies?, come to the garage sale.

Bicycles, Furniture, Toys, Clothes, Linens, Dishes, Books, Games, Puzzles, Shoes, Suitcases, Sporting Equipment, Lamps and Shades, Tools, Silverware, Glasses, Candles (melting in the sun), Jewelry, and even the Kitchen Sink. Chotskies galore-you too could have walked out with your very own treasures. One definition of chotskies is garage sale crap (I love this definition).

Finally, Friday evening arrived and we were done. Now we waited.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We awoke to a perfect day, with temps to the 80’s F. and the sun was shining. My sister and I arrived around eight in the morning. The parking lot was already bordering on full. There were U-Hauls ready to take away treasures. The line of people waiting for the 9 a.m. start was snaking along the fence. Some were standing, others were sitting in their chairs. There were people with plastic sleds and wagons to haul out their treasures. Once we were through the gates all was quiet, except for the volunteers doing their final preparation. We were ready, the “stuff” was ready and there was an air of anticipation.

The gates opened and people quickly dashed in, well walked fast as they were told not to run. First stop was the suitcases which people took off to other areas to fill. Shoes?-gone. Computer Screens?-gone. By late morning we had sold approximately half of the furniture. By the end of the day about two thirds of the furniture was gone. Dressers, tables, desks, chairs, vanities, pieces of Italian marble and odd looking things that I am still not sure what they were-all gone.

It was interesting to talk to some of the people and find out what they were going to do with their new treasures. One woman was using an old wood mirror (sold for $15) in her garden. Old iron bedposts became a good trellis to use in the garden as well. A huge marble table that was almost too heavy to move, went to another person’s yard. There was a unique folding screen that was bought by an elementary school to use in a play. The play had a scene where the young actress had to change outfits. This screen would help her change without being seen, while it suggested more. The same school also bought several other pieces as props.

By the end of Saturday my sister and I were crazy tired. We were dirty and hot and done. Each day when we arrived home we immediate shed our clothes and threw them in the wash. Showers couldn’t happen fast enough.

Ginny Ready to Work

Was it fun? Yes. I enjoyed spending time with Ginny. We have always been friends, even though we live 3000 miles apart. It was an different sort of fun. As a one time event, yes it was fun. If it was something I had to do over and over again, well maybe not so much fun. BARKS took good care of it’s volunteers. We were watered and fed. Most of the volunteers worked well together. I met people who, if I lived closer, I might be interested in knowing better. One woman belonged to a group of people who are sectional hikers on the Appalachian Trail. They have almost completed the AT, with about 200 miles to go.

The end result is all about money. BARKS was introduced in 1973 for the purpose of rescuing and fostering sick, injured, abandoned, and abused animals.  The shelter sponsors proper veterinary care and foster homes until the animals can be placed in loving permanent homes.  Each year BARKS finds homes for over three hundred and fifty cats and kittens and one hundred dogs and puppies. All these animals are homeless or abandoned and many, because they are ill or injured, require extensive veterinary care as well as socialization to make them suitable for adoption. It is a very successful organization, which is evident by the number of adoptions which are achieved through a careful screening and application procedure.

BARKS is a non-profit organization. All revenues come solely from private, individual donations, adoption fees, and fundraisers. All donations are tax deductible. The organization is 100% volunteer driven. All donations go directly for the care and maintenance of the animals.

Like many small towns and communities they rely on donations and support from the local population and beyond. If you would like to make a donation just click on the BARKS link here. It will take you to their web site. They will be grateful for any amount you would like to give.

Now I am no longer a novice volunteer for the semi-annual garage sale. If I am back on the east coast at the right time of the year I would gladly offer to help again. I love animals and support organizations that help support animal welfare. And, maybe the next time I will find my treasure at the BARKS garage sale.