Eight Years Ago


Jim, my Husband died on October 17, 2012. On November 17th that same year, good friends and family and I took Jim to sea, scattering his ashes out in the Pacific Ocean on an amazingly beautiful morning. There was no planned ceremony we were friends and family who had gathered, one more time, to send him off in an intimate and loving ceremony, to wish him well.

when this anniversary arrives I set time aside to reflect and remember him, before cancer, before death. I treasure the moments I had with him. We were together for 21 years. The time was too short. The time with him was valuable. The time was fun, happy, loving and complete. I miss him.

This year, for the first time, I made it through Jim’s birthday (10/10) my birthday (10/16), and his death (10/17) with little sadness. I was staying with good friends in Boise and despite my insistence to not celebrate my birthday, we did anyway. I had a red velvet cupcake. Yummy. It helps to be with friends. It helps to feel loved and acknowledge that I am cared about and valued. It really helps to be with others.

Each year when I return to San Diego I make time to dip my feet in the Pacific Ocean and say hello to Jim. I know he is not out there, yet this is the last place I put him, so I go to greet him and visit. I think of him often. I still look upon our time together as a valued gift. I loved him for twenty-one years and I love him still. I know I can carry him forward into my future. He and our relationship has shaped who I am today and it will continue to shape who I am tomorrow.

All love is to be valued and not taken for granted. This love, this relationship-Jim and I-will never be taken for granted and it certainly was about love and understanding, laughter and friendship.

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to Jim. And hello to another year. I am still moving forward. Today I am grateful for Jim, a good twenty-one years, and the continuing love and support of so many good friends. 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Full Circle

Idaho Summer

Last June I left San Diego and traveled north. I spent most of the spring living with two good friends, Cynthia and Ward. I initailly moved in to help Cynthia after elective surgery. I ended staying with them through the emergence of Covid and our country in some form of lockdown. I sheltered in place with Ward and Cynthia from early March until I headed north, in June,  for a summer in Idaho.

Every year I return to San Diego to get my medical and dental work done. I get busy with appointments, doctor visits, a mammogram, and lab work.

This year I headed south driving ahead of cold weather. Eastern Idaho, nope, too cold. Northern Utah, nope, too cold.  When I reached Nevada it became much more tolerable, despite the high winds. Eventually, I made my way into San Diego and after almost two weeks at my friend, Pat’s house I have moved back in with Cynthia and Ward. I will remain here through the end of the year.

La Mesa Sunset

It is really good to have such kind and wonderful friends. I feel so honored to be part of such a good network of people throughout this country, Canada, and further. Like attracts like.

When I stayed in La Mesa I had amazing sunsets and I was close enough to walk to the “Secret Steps of La Mesa” (489 steps). It is a workout. There are actually more than one set of stairs. I would climb one and return on the other set, completing a loop back to the house.

La Jolla Shore

Bay Park (I am here now)  is close to Mission Bay and not too far from the Pacific Ocean. I can walk to the Bay. It is only a few miles away. I can hop on my bike and complete a 15-20 mile ride from my current home without a problem. Today I drove the short distance to La Jolla Shores and walked the beach at low tide. It is nice to be near the water.

I am back sheltering in place with two other people. After spending five months mostly alone, it is nice to be with others again. I enjoy the company and hope they do also. We got along well when I was here in the spring and I am sure that will be the case this time. It is nice to move into a place where I am wanted. The nice thing is if we get tired of each other, I can go camping for a few days, come back and everything will be fresh again.

Here I am for the holidays. Enjoying my semi-nomadic lifestyle, visiting friends and completing things that need to get done before I head east at the New Year and take up residence, once again in the desert.

Today I am thankful for good friends, beatiful places where nature abounds and my willingness to explore all of it.

 

 

Back in San Diego

Every year I return to San Diego for my medical and dental check-ups. On October 30 I arrived back in the city. I thought it was going to be a hard entry returning to a big city, with Covid still rampant in this country. It turns out that I had a much easier entry than I expected.

Cold weather spurred me southward. I am talking cold weather. One day in Idaho, it was in the ’70s and the next day I awoke to 14 degrees F. Well, brr…it was time to head south. By the time I reached northern Utah they were predicting single digits for the low, I kept moving south. When I reached Lake Mead in Nevada the weather was definitely more acceptable. I meandered my way south. I did a little hiking and some biking as I camped each afternoon.

Lake Mead

Hoover Dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met up with a friend, Peggy at the Sprouts Parking lot near Palm Springs. Practicing safe social distancing, we sat on the side steps of our rigs and chatted. Even if I can’t hug my friends I can at least visit and enjoy their company from a distance. Masks were at the ready if we needed them. It was a good visit.

As I traveled south I began to communicate with friends in San Diego. If I want to visit with my local friends I needed to let them know of my pending arrival. Pat is a very good friend of mine. We worked together, meditated together, and over time have become close. When I let her know I was on my way she offered me her San Diego home for a few weeks.  She and her sisters own a home in San Felipe, MX. As the weather cools off her family spends more and more time south of the border. She is there now and she offered me her house in San Diego. I am here until November 10. This house sits on a hillside and I get amazing views of the sunset every night.

A friend of mine said I am lucky to have such good friends who offer me their homes and other opportunities. I don’t know if I consider this luck. I believe like attracts like. I am offered these opportunities because I am a person of value and worth. My friends are people of value and worth. I am honored that people offer me wonderful and unique opportunities and their homes. I value each gift that comes my way. It makes me feel treasured and loved. I treasure and love those that are part of my life.

 

Each and every day I am thankful and grateful for my friends. I am grateful for their love and ongoing support. I treasure them.

 

 

Finding Lessons Everywhere

This past summer I became involved in an online game for photographers called GuruShots. I have belonged to this site for a while, using it as a way to explore what photographers are doing and expanding my skills and knowledge. This past summer I decided to join a team and explore what this aspect of the game was about.

The team chooses a theme challenge and competes against another team. For example, the current theme is “24 Hours”. The challenges last from a few hours to a day. What do we win? Knowledge, points, and a progression up the board of the game.

I joined the Photography Friends team. I chose this team because of the team description.

“Our team objective is to share in the joy of photography and learn from each other in a friendly atmosphere. Although winning matches and advancing our team is great, it is not our primary goal. If this sounds good to you, please join us.”

I have been learning a lot. I have discovered photos that I had forgotten about and have been amazed at some of my work. I have also been making new friends from around the world.

“Freedom” was the theme of a challenge a few weeks back. The team chose it because it seemed to be an easy challenge to find photos that represented the theme. I began to think about what freedom meant. It would be easy to put up a photo of an eagle or the Flag. This is an international community and those photos lose their meaning once you embrace the world.

I entered photos and they did well. Do I think they represented the topic? No, not really.

These are the four photos. You can double click on them to enlarge them.


Freedom means more to me with each passing day, during this current state of affairs in this country. Freedom means that my voice is heard. When did this country stop respecting the freedom and respect of religious choice? Freedom means I can walk down the street and feel safe and secure. I may feel safe and secure, yet not everyone has that choice and that walk is not free to all.

Freedom means one thing to people with wealth. Freedom may have another meaning to someone homeless and on the streets or existing on a low-income wage.

The more I thought of this contest and the pictures I added the more I felt like I copped out. This was an opportunity for me to address freedom. It may have taken more effort to go out and find symbols of freedom to photograph. What would those symbols be? The freedom to protest. I believe I could have found a symbol of this today. Black Lives Matter. There would have been many opportunities to find symbols of religious freedom. A photograph of the word Voice would have been appropriate and meaningful.

What began as a simple contest evolved into much more as I began to contemplate what freedom really means to me, to this country, and to the world.

Today I would like to commit myself to help others experience freedom without fear. Today I am grateful to experience freedom in all its unique and usual forms. I also make a promise to myself not to cop out when a topic such as this surfaces again.

Rounding up the Wagon, Heading South

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I am reluctantly leaving Idaho for points south. Why? This weekend it is suppose to drop to the teens (F) at night and the temperature is also going to be chilly during the day. I don’t do cold and I don’t do snow. It is time to head south.

A Beautiful Fall Day

It is hard to leave Idaho. I love the country here, yet more importantly, I love my friends Linda and Steve. I have felt safe and secure in their borrowed home about 2 hours north of Boise. I have been in Boise at their full-time home for the past couple of weeks. I have enjoyed the company and the ease of our companionship. We have walked and hiked and talked a lot. Linda and I are both birders so we have been out searching for the birds and enjoying beautiful fall days.

Now it is time to venture south. Before I do, however, I will be heading east and to the Camas Wildlife Refuge to find the Sandhill Cranes. I love them. I follow those birds everywhere. The best part of heading four hours east is… Linda will be taking her Roadtrek and joining me. We are both photographers and bird watchers. It is fun to have company to explore a new area. It is fun to have someone to ooh and ahh with. I am looking forward to the company and the fun.

Sandhill Cranes

Friday I will drive south looking for warmer weather. By the end of the month, I will arrive in San Diego. I will get all my medical and dental checkups done, visit with friends (from a safe distance). No later than January I will head east to the California Desert and points east. It is desert season.

The adventure of my current lifestyle continues. I am getting ready to get on-the-road. I hope you will continue to follow along on my adventures. 

 

 

How Plans Can Change in a Moment

This morning I drove to McCall to pick up my groceries and run a few errands. Everything was fine. I began the return trip to Donnelly and all of a sudden my rig wouldn’t go over 45 mph. What!!! I had trouble getting my sweet girl to get up the minor hills. I was glad to get her back to the house.

With one phone call to Coach-net, my roadside assist, they gently and kindly took the decision making out of my hands. After a few conversations, they had contacted Mercedes Benz in Boise. After another conversation, I found that the towing will be included. It is 94 miles to Boise from here so I am thankful for the free tow. Did you know that if you have work done on your Mercedes within a year Mercedes will free tow your vehicle? Sweet!!! Coach-net told me the towing would be covered no matter what. Sweet!!!

Now I have an appointment with Mercedes Benz in Boise for the third week of this month. I am going to winterize my rig, just to be safe. Next week they will pick up my rig and tow it to Boise. My friend Linda and the owner of my summer home in Idaho is coming to pick me up next week. Together we will winterize the rig, and close the house for the winter. I have a home to wait in in Bosie while I wait for the rig. I have friends to visit and stay safe with. Maybe I will even get a cat, back on my bed.

Small town living has its bonuses. I called the Chamber of Commerce in McCall to inquire about rental cars. They guided me to the local small airport. They will have a car for me tomorrow. Since I don’t have a way to get to McCall they are coming to pick me up. Small towns are marvelous for personal service. I am feeling blessed. I am thankful for being in a small town where everyone will pitch in and help.

 

This afternoon I am thankful for so much. I am thankful that I was not on the road somewhere remote and distant. I am thankful I was able to drive my rig, slowly and carefully back to my summer home. I am thankful for Coach-net who took me into their hands and guided me to the right contacts. I am very thankful for Linda and Steve who are taking me into their home in Boise. First, they offer me this place and now their home. It is good to have such good friends.

Things can change at a moment’s notice.

 

An Idaho Adventure Approaches an End

Coming to an end. So much of my life is about coming to ends. So much of my life is about beginnings. My summer Idaho adventure is coming to a close. Each time the temperature drops I think about leaving. Then the temperature warms up and I make the decision to stay longer. Fall is a glorious time to be in the mountains. It is warm during the day and chilly at night and the colors of the trees are changing.

I have had a quiet, relaxing, and wonderful summer here in the mountains of Idaho. It is hard to leave. I like being in the country. I like riding my road bike for miles and not have to worry about cars. I can hike a trail or take a walk and not see another soul. I have walked more than hiked. I love being able to walk outside my door and go.

I love that people are nice to me when I have adventured into the public. These adventures in public have been minimal. I see my chiropractor-he is the only one who I see on a regular basis (masks up, hands cleaned and table wiped down). Every Wednesday I go to the Farmers Market in Donnelly (managed by nurses, masks, and social distancing a must).

I have not always been happy being alone yet as the summer and early fall have progressed I have found comfort within myself. I have finally given myself time to grieve over the loss of Elsie. I can finally look at pictures of her and smile. I am still working on the guilt of leaving the RV door open, yet even that is softening. Things are hard at times in all of our lives. The country and the kindness of people have helped me soften and be kind to myself.

I have adventured out. I have discovered places that I love and return to often. As the Cascade Lake and Reservoir has drained due to lack of rain and need of water for the cities south of here, the dry-lake bed has become one of my favorite places to explore. I have gotten mucky and dirty, yet I return there again and again. The birdlife has been wonderful. Noone else is nearby. I can spend hours on the dry-lake bed.

I usually walk to the lake at least three times a week. I found the Sandhill Cranes active on the dry bed and they alone, draw me back time and again. There are large flocks of White Pelicans that entertain me every time I am there. They are beautiful to catch mid-flight. I am not so good at identifying the myriad of ducks but love to see them doing their duck things and catch them in flight. It is peaceful and relaxing. I spend a lot of my time sitting and waiting to see what will happen next. Waiting is what wildlife photographers do best. The cranes are so quiet in flight (as long as they don’t make a sound), and often surprise me when they fly right over my head.

 

 

 

 

A few weeks back the owners of the house and dear friends came for a week. Linda and Steve have been social distancing in Boise. Steve works for Micron where they test their employees frequently. Linda is recovering from medical issues so she has been distancing. After some discussion, we decided that we would be OK to be in the same house. Isn’t it interesting that this has to be part of the subject of conversation now?

Dusky Grouse

We had a good low key week together. Like many places in the western US Idaho has been dealing with smoke. The week that Linda and Steve were here the valley was smoked in. The smoke was not encouraging us to go out yet, we did manage an adventure into the mountains north of here. It was a special moment when we saw a dusky grouse near Upper Payette Lake.

I absolutely enjoyed the company and am planning to camp in their driveway in Bosie for a few days when I leave here. It is good to have good friends that like and enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. To top off the visit I also had the company of three cats and Poncho the Pooch. The true delight for me? Misty the cat slept on my bed every night. It was so comforting and a delight to have a warm body next to me once again. Needless to say, I enjoyed the company of a kitty on my bed once again.

Over the past week, I have been getting my rig ready to roll. Cleaning, dusting, washing, waxing, and more. She is beginning to look spiffy. She is looking like she is ready to roll.

As I enjoy my last days here, this year, I am looking forward to the next new adventure, another new beginning.

A Teaching Moment

Yesterday I took a bike ride. I rode one of my favorite routes to Cascade Lake. I like to go to this State Park Day Use area, sit on the rocks and watch the activities on the lake. I started out in the partial sun and arrived back at my current home in smoke-filled skies. What a change a few hours can make.

Something I will never do.

As I was riding on the paved trails I encountered a small garter snake. It was trying to cross the path as I was biking by. If you have read my previous post Snakes! you know that I am not fond of snakes. In fact, I am a bit afraid of them. They always surprise me and cause my heart to race.

Here is this poor snake, it sees my bike and I see the snake. I immediately think “Oh my God, I am going to run over this snake and it is going to get stuck in my spokes and be tossed on me. I freaked. The snake freaked. It started to squiggle back and forth rapidly on the trail, not knowing what direction to head to avoid that big object coming at it. Know that this all happened in a few moments of time.

After this event I began to think of this poor snake, rapidly moving back and forth on the trail trying to escape my bike and find safety. It finally succeeded and moved off the trail into the undergrowth. I was thankful and I imagine it was thankful too.

How many times have I done this in my life when confronted with the unknown and challenges and stressful moments? Do I move rapidly in many directions before I finally recognize the obstacle and figure a way to overcome the situation I am in? How long do I move back and forth and go through the darkness of indecision before I finally find my way out of my predicament? Is it a split second, days weeks, or years?

I believe that as humans we all do this at times in our lives. When confronted with the unknown or stress or the need to make a decision, we have to move back and forth and around, trying to figure out the best approach to find the most correct result. Sometimes the best thing we can do is move back to where we previously were. Sometimes we force ourselves forward to achieve that next goal or slip through the obstacle that confronts us. Sometimes we slither back and forth rapidly on the trail.

Avoiding decisions or opportunities is not possible, something will move us forward. We have to move in one direction or another. If one approach doesn’t work then it is important to look at other possibilities. Just like that little, harmless snake, we try out different things until the right way presents itself.

Who knew that this moment in time would give me reflection on a much larger and broader subject. I have thought about this snake a lot since I saw it yesterday. Symbols are important to me. Sometimes one word or act allows me to see the much larger picture or the smaller details. Maybe this garter snake was simply feeling everything out in a nanosecond and unconsciously chose the quickest way out. For me, it represented a bit more than the quick way out. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on this topic.

Cascade Lake

Today I am thankful for all living things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling a Sense of Accomplishment

Biking the Idaho backroads

This past spring I acquired a new-to-me bicycle. I have been making it mine.

First, there was a new saddle. I added the saddle myself and with the help of a local San Diego bike shop adjusted it to fit. I added new peddles. I got a new tool to help me get the old ones off and put the new ones on. I love tools. I have added my rear and front lights, and a speedometer. I bought a new saddle bag and new water bottle and I was ready to ride.

Cascade Lake

I have been enjoying the long-empty expanses of roads in Idaho. I can ride forever. Since I am staying near a lake I get to explore different sections of Lake Cascade. I take my cell phone with me so I have a library book with me. I can stop and sit near the lake and read. I can watch the activity on or near the lake. Yesterday I found two balk eagles sitting in a dead tree.

 

I had noticed that my handlebars were going to need new handlebar tape. Areas were getting thin and worn. After researching handlebar tape I took the plunge and bought the tape and decided that this was a project I could do.

Since Jim’s death over seven years ago, I have found YouTube to be a good friend. I turn to YouTube like it is a friend who might have the right answer for my situation. Sometimes I end up acknowledging that the project might be a bit more than I can handle. I then look for the experts to help me out.

Wrapping my handlebars appeared to be something that I could challenge myself to do. Yesterday afternoon after watching one more video I removed the old tape and started to apply the new. Nothing is as easy as it looks. It took me two hours to finally complete the project. I stretched and slowly adjusted the tape around each bar. It was work and my hands were a bit sore and raw feeling by the end of this home project. Yet I walked out of the garage feeling accomplished and proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often when it came to home projects, Jim was the one to take the lead. I was second in command. Now I have to take the lead. I am the lead and the second in command. Projects don’t have to be large or complicated to make me feel a sense of accomplishment. Each time I do something and it is successful, I feel pride in myself. I took another project on and was successful. If I need to do it again, and I will, I know I can tackle it again and it will go a bit smoother and quicker than the last project.

Now it is time to take a ride and test out the new handlebar tape. I keep moving forward one step at a time

Snakes!!!

I am not fond of snakes. They are startling and sneaky even if they don’t mean to be. They startle and surprise me and I am not fond of them.

When I was young my mother and father built our family home on a piece of farmland in Delaware (the second smallest state in the nation). Since there were three children we were responsible for “doing the dishes”. In case you don’t know what that is, it means that after dinner we were responsible for washing, drying, and putting away the dinner dishes.

One spring evening my sisters and I were about to embark on our dishwashing duties. My mother noticed I did not have shoes on and told me to go and put a pair on before I helped with the after-dinner task. Merrily I meandered into my bedroom, not watching where I was going, I stepped on something slimy and slithery and it dashed into my closet. I screamed, ran into the kitchen yelling about the snake. All three girls ran out of the house and ran circles around my parents in the garden, yelling about the snake. We wouldn’t return to the house until my father captured the poor wee garden snake and killed it.

I have no doubt that my fear of snakes began at that moment. I have been known to go out of my way to move around a snake. It is not unusual for me to turn around on a hike when I encounter a slithering thing on the trail, especially one with rattles. I am wary of snakes. I will never put a snake of any sort on my shoulders. I will never hold one, although I have touched a few.

One time I was hiking in the Tetons with a good friend, Diane. We hiked the Cascade Trail into the heart of the Mountains, our destination a lake. We were sitting on a log, dangling our feet in the lake when I looked down and there were these squiggly things all around our legs. Watersnake hatchlings!! Oh my!! My breath quickened. I told Diane my fear of snakes, so we moved to the rocky shore, only to discover more small slithery things among the rocks. I finally told Diane I had to go. So we hiked out. After were safely back at the campsite my hiking companion told me that she had seen more of those little things on the hike out. Remembering that still can cause a catch in my breath.

I have had other encounters with snakes since then and I admit to being a bit better with the confrontation of those sneaky reptiles. I have encouraged myself to learn about them. l have researched them and read about them. I know all the good they can do. They are an important part of all ecosystems. With the San Diego Zoo close to my home for many years, I would often go to visit. I always made sure to go to the Reptile House. I figure that it would help me get over my fear. I figure they were safe behind glass. Then Harry Potter came into the picture and I have to admit, I hope the glass holds when I go into the “Snake” House.

 

While in South Africa Phyllis and I got to see some really colorful snakes at one of our stops early on the trip. They are pretty and colorful. Even there I had to tell Phyllis after a short time that I needed to leave. One of them coiled and jumped towards the glass and that was it. I had enough. Ah, snakes!

Why am I telling you this? I was kayaking on Cascade Lake and the North Fork of the Payette River earlier this week. I was paddling north enjoying the birds and the dragonflies and all the nature around me. Suddenly I saw a small head moving across the water. Quickly I realized it was a small (very small snake). I turned around and began to paddle towards it. I wanted to look at it. As I turned to do so, it turned right towards my boat. Instantly fear took over and I went into flight or fight mode. My heart rate picked up. I was sure that the snake was going to swim to my boat and get in. I panicked and turned that kayak around and paddled as hard as I could to get away from it. It felt like I paddled hard for five minutes or more. However, I think I paddled hard for maybe a minute at most. That little tiny snake was not going to get me. Why did it have to turn and swim toward my boat? Once I was sure that the little wiggly thing was not behind me I slowed down and continued to enjoy my morning. I kept an eye out for all things squiggly for the rest of the kayak.

Fear of snakes, Fear of spiders, Fear of water, whatever the fear, it is not rational. These are phobias and most of us live with one or more of them. I know my fear of snakes is not rational. I know I can control the situation. I have proven that to myself in the past. On the river, I did not prove myself to be brave and fearless. That little snake made me realize I still have more work to do.

What are you afraid of?