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?

 

Going Solo, Well Not Really

An Idaho Summer

Just before I arrived in Idaho this summer I had a text conversation with Linda, who has opened her and her husband’s second home to me. She was concerned about me coming to Idaho. Covid-19 was on ¬†upsurge in the state and she was concerned. Linda’s statement to me was she wasn’t sure I would have allies up here. I told her as a single or solo person I can’t rely on having any allies.

Guess who was wrong? Me. A week after I arrived in Idaho I got sick. I had a sore throat, it was really sore. After spending a weekend self-treating I decided a visit to the clinic associated with St Lukes Hospital was in hand. I was apprehensive. I worried that I had Covid-19. I was worried that I could have infected others. I was worried that things could get worse. I was disappointed in myself that I had exposed myself to this ugly virus. I was feeling alone.

I had a car appointment. I wore a mask and never got out of my car. The NP who saw me was gowned, gloved, and masked. My whole visit was conducted without moving from the driver’s seat. My heart rate was a little high and I received the lecture about drinking enough water at elevation. My throat was red and sore.

I was tested for strep which was negative and then for Covid-19. I was told I should self isolate until the results came back. Three days later the results were in and I was negative for the coronavirus. Yes!!! I am happy to report I am back in full working order and what was a scary moment in time is now in the past.

My friends came to the rescue. I notified Linda that this was happening. She immediately texted me and told me to hang tight. Over the next few days until the results came in we texted back and forth. Her support was a comfort to me and made me realize I am not alone. My sister, Ginny, was in touch and anxiously waiting for the results with me. Friends in Oregon, Mary, and Wanda, awaited the news and supported me via social media. Hmmm, I was not alone. I have allies.

Kayaking the North Fork of the Payette River

This event has made me realize I am never alone, not really. I have friends and allies all over the country and world who continue to love and support me and encourage me when I feel the most vulnerable and worn down. I have friends who support and celebrate with me when life is on an upswing. I have friends who make me realize I am not alone. I may be solo and adventuring out on my own but I carry all these people with me, in my everyday life. They are only a phone call away.

This summer I am up in the mountains. I am safe. I am biking, kayaking, hiking and taking plenty of photos. I am social distancing and wearing a mask. I am taking care of myself as best I can. And I am not doing it alone. I have allies.

Today I am thankful for my immediate family and my family of friends who love and support me, no matter what.

Idaho Summer-Sheltering in Place

Two weeks ago I bid farewell to my friends that I have been sheltering in place with, moved into my RV and began a journey north and east to Idaho for the summer.

After feeling safe and protected in San Diego it was a bit of a surprise to get out into the rest of the world. I decided to drive up the coast. I am not one who delights in hot weather so I decided that sticking to the coast was my best option.

BIG MISTAKE!! As I traveled toward Santa Barbara and up the Big Sur Coast I discovered that many out there in the world must not believe the whole Covid-19 thing exists. There was no social distancing, no masks and the coast was packed. I have seen few people until this and it was a rude awakening. I kept driving until I arrived in Monterey (night 2). I stayed in a campground near the ocean for the night. Thankfully that beach was quiet and essentially deserted.

After a short visit with friends in Medford Oregon, I traveled east and arrived in west-central Idaho for the summer. I am blessed with many good friends in my life. I appreciate all of them every single day I am alive.

Linda in pink & Mary on the White Rim Trail

I met Linda Roadtreking in the desert east of San Diego. Yes, she was there for my fateful fall and broken ankle event. It appears that sealed our friendship. We have traveled together since, most notably the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park with another mutual friend, Mary.

Three years ago she offered me the use of her cottage (really a summer home) near McCall, Idaho. It is in the mountains. I enjoyed my time there so much. I went hiking and kayaking and biking and enjoyed the magic of a mountain spring and summer.

I am back. When I was trying to decide how to give my San Diego friends their home back I thought of this lovely home in the mountains, not being used. I asked Linda and her husband Steve how they would feel about me accessing their home again. The answer was a resounding yes. And, here I am ready for another summer in the mountains. And more importantly, I feel safe once again. McCall has a masks on policy. Albertson’s has a grocery curbside pick-up. I have even stopped on my one grocery outing to grab a banana pancake breakfast to go.

What have I been doing? I have been biking and hiking and walking and really taking lots of pics of the beautiful still blooming wildflowers. I am still acclimating to altitude so I am giving myself time to adjust, though I am up to 15-mile bike rides at present. Soon I will go and discover the kayaking rentals and get on the lake. Cascade Lake is close to my door and there is a kayak rental place nearby. I am ready.

The nice thing about being in this home is that Linda has given me Carte Blanche. I have been weeding and yesterday I moved two small pine trees to new homes on the property. It is nice to be able to work with my hands and be in the gardens and yard.

I am not a stay at home type of girl. I will plan some camping trips to nearby National Forests and campgrounds. There are new places for me to hike and explore. I am sure there are plenty of photos waiting to be taken as well.

Here I am, feeling grateful, feeling thankful and enjoying my summer in the high country.

 

Getting Ready to Roll in the Time of Covid

My Roadtrek

In RV lingo – I am getting ready to roll.  I am going


to be moving back into my sweet little Roadtrek and heading out into the wide-open spaces of the American West.

All good things come to an end. My time “Sheltering in Place” with my friends, Cynthia and Ward is coming to a close. It is time to give them their home back. We have gotten along more than well, not one argument. I will miss them. This three-month adventure has made me realize that community living is definitely possible.

Where am I going?  I am heading north. As I am sitting in the middle of a Santa Ana and things are warming up in San Diego county I realize it is time to head for the coast and the mountains in search of cooler weather. First I will venture to Ventura for a few days to meet up with Dan Neeley of Dan Neeley RV Services who knows all things Roadtrek. It is time to get some work done on my rig. We have been trying to get together since January, without success.

I have good friends in so many places. It makes it easy to travel and feel safe from all those germs out there. A few summers ago Miss Elsie the Cat and I spent most of a summer in Donnelly, Idaho. My good friend Linda and her husband, Steve, offered us the use of their cabin in the mountains. It was a beautiful summer of hiking, biking, and using the lakes, that are generously dispersed throughout this beautiful country. It was also a summer of getting to know Linda and Steve better.

I am returning sans Elsie. I asked Linda if their second home might be available and without hesitation, she said yes. Why not shelter in place there? Why not enjoy the mountains and water? Why not?

My 1st Summer in Idaho

Ooooohh there are so many possibilities.

It is time to clean out my rig and put what is not needed into storage for the next several months. I am spending time cleaning and getting things done while still enjoying the company of my friends. My new bikes are getting excited. I occasionally hear their chains rattle in anticipation.

This will be the first adventure out since Covid 19 arrived on the American scene.

What will I do differently now than when I traveled before?

  • Wash my hands often.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it.
  • Wear gloves when I pump gas. It had not occurred to me until Covid that touching a gas pump handle is dirty. Think of all the people who touch a handle on any given day. I have disposable gloves or work gloves that I will use when I pump gas.
  • I have masks, thanks to Cynthia. I will use them when I encounter others and will faithfully wear them.
  • The free tours of my rig are on hold for now. ūüėē
  • I will eat at home almost exclusively. I have a small but efficient kitchen in my rig and it will be used.
  • I am so thankful for my own bathroom. I will be able to avoid public restrooms. And I can shower at ease in my rig.
  • It will be unique to visit others while socially distancing (6-8 feet away), but at least we can visit.

There will be challenges as well. How do I approach laundromats to wash my clothes? I will have to enter a grocery store. I haven’t seen the inside of one since early March.  Remaining alert and attentive will help me weave my way through the challenges as they arise.

This will be a good getaway for me. I have had a lot to deal with in the past six months. I know this adventure out will not be truly normal, yet I hope I still have the excitement of seeking out new adventures and places. This year I will be on a careful and watchful adventure. Normal times are not here yet.

And if things bottom out again in the next week and a half…..it is not a bad option to remain “Sheltered in Place” with my good friends in San Diego.

Today I am thankful for good friends, my rig and knowing how to safely, move through my world.

 

White Privilege – The Elephant in the Room

Last January I attended the Annual Borrego Springs Film Festival. It begins on Thursday and ends the following Monday. The films can be anywhere from a few minutes long to an hour. You buy your tickets in blocks. At the end of the block writers, producers, actors, and more come to the stage and the audience can ask them questions about the movies. Some of the films are unique, others just OK and then there is a film that will leave a significant impact on the viewer.

Brooklyn in July” -“It is the summer of 1945. The War is all but won. The U.S. is riding a wave of triumph even as the undertow of unresolved issues roils beneath. Frank, like so many other African-Americans of the time, is drawn to New York by the promise of a better life only to be confronted by the same realities, fear, and hatred he hoped he had left behind. He is a man scarred by a past that is lurking skin deep.” This film is about the racism that most people of color endure on a daily basis, then and now. It was horrific and sad and very moving.

The movie was approximately 20 minutes long. It was one of the more uncomfortable 20 minutes I  remember enduring in a long time. At the end of the block, I discovered that it was an uncomfortable moment for this mostly white audience. The questions that were posed to this writer and producer were around this discomfort. Did he realize how uncomfortable this film was for his mostly white audience? What did he hope to achieve? What made him write this? Who were the actors and how as people of color did they feel in these rolls?

The writer and director stated that if it made us feel uncomfortable, then he had done his job. He had chosen the north to write this film because many people believe that racism did not exist in the northern states. He stated that racism in the northeastern part of the United States was not acknowledged. This type of racism can be stronger and more powerful and dividing than what we can blatantly see in the south. He mentioned that “White Privilege” continues to exist today. If we are white we experience “White Privilege”. This statement¬†immediately made me experienced discomfort.

This topic has continued to be a part of my thought process since January. When I returned to San Diego my friends, Cynthia and Ward are studying,  Sacred Ground A Film-Based Dialogue Series on Race & Faith through the Episcopal Church. Since I am now sharing their space we have discussed this subject more than once.

“White Privilege” has made me feel uneasy. I don’t like the term and I especially don’t like this term in describing me. I am part of the white race and so I need to find a way to comfortably address this discomfort. There is no more important time than now to address this Elephant in the Room.

I have done reading on white privilege and institutional racism since January.  It remains an uncomfortable topic yet maybe a bit less so since I have been researching and exploring it.

White privilege is‚ÄĒperhaps most notably in this era of uncivil discourse‚ÄĒa concept that has fallen victim to its own connotations. The two-word term packs a double whammy that inspires pushback. 1) The word white creates discomfort among those who are not used to being defined or described by their race. And 2) the word privilege, especially for poor and rural white people, sounds like a word that doesn‚Äôt belong to them‚ÄĒlike a word that suggests they have never struggled.

This defensiveness derails the conversation, which means, unfortunately, that defining white privilege must often begin with defining what it’s not. Otherwise, only the choir listens; the people you actually want to reach check out. White privilege is not the suggestion that white people have never struggled. Many white people do not enjoy the privileges that come with relative affluence, such as food security. Many do not experience the privileges that come with access, such as nearby hospitals.

And white privilege is not the assumption that everything a white person has accomplished is unearned; most white people who have reached a high level of success worked extremely hard to get there. Instead, white privilege should be viewed as a built-in advantage, separate from one‚Äôs level of income or effort.”¬† (from the article: What is White Privilege Really)

I experience white privilege every single day of my life. I have the freedom to move around as I please (except now due to Covid-19). I can move through the world and know or expect that my needs will be met most of the time. Books, even Children’s books usually have white characters.I don’t have to look in special sections of a store for hair or beauty products. I am¬†less likely to be followed, interrogated, or searched by law enforcement because I look ‚Äúsuspicious.‚ÄĚ My¬†skin tone will not be a reason people hesitate to trust my credit or financial responsibility. My skin tone will not be a reason to look at my admission to institutions of higher learning as unique or impossible. ¬†I can be comfortable in my world most of the time. And these examples are just a few of many. The more I have explored this topic the more I have come to realize that White is everywhere Color, well, not so much.

Institutional racism has been responsible for slavery, settlement, Indian reservations, segregation, residential schools (for American Indians), and internment camps. While most of these institutions no longer exist, they have had long-term impacts on our society. As a result of institutional racism, racial stratification and disparities have occurred in employment, housing, education, healthcare, government, and other sectors. While many laws were passed in the mid-20th century to make discrimination illegal, major inequalities still exist.” (from the article Definition¬†and Analysis of Institutional Racism)

This past weekend has been painfully necessary for this country. In the 1960s Institutional Racism was addressed in many of the same ways it is being addressed now. This is a wake-up call for all people, no matter the race. It is time for us to address Institutional Racism and move towards equality for everyone. It is time for us to ask our police to treat lives as if All Lives Matter and to recognize that All Lives Matter only when All People of Color Lives Matter. It is time to address the Elephant in the room.

What can I do about this? The first step is to educate myself so I can learn what it may be like for someone else to live in a world that is not as comfortable to live in as mine. When I talk to my friends or even strangers of color I will stop, and really listen to what they have to say. I will remember to listen, really listen. When people of color speak to their experiences of oppression, it’s important for me not to question their experiences. I can use my privilege to make these voices heard and help create change.

I would like to recognize the times when I should speak up. All people need to take the lead on anti-bias work. All people need to intervene when something offensive is said. If I hear racist remarks, I will speak up. If I see opportunities to educate fellow white people about race, I will. As an ally, my privilege can be a tool to reach people who may be more likely to listen to me or relate to my educational journey.

I can stand up for inequality, in whatever way I can. I can acknowledge that it is OK for me to feel uncomfortable and move ahead anyway. I will support education and learning. I plan to explore more tools I can use to more comfortably address this elephant.

Although I am not actively protesting(Covid), I support those that are. (Please understand I support peaceful protest, not rioting) I have watched some of the protests on television and admire these groups for their stand. It is time we come together as all people, dialog, and create change. Then, maybe then I will become more comfortable with the term White Privilege and it will no longer be an Elephant in the Room.

Anything that is highlighted in Orange, you can click on and it will take you to the appropriate article or page on the web.

Bicycling in the Time of Coronavirus

“Janet, I just read your latest entry and it made me think. In our conversations we skirted around the afterlife, and spirits, and much more. It makes me think, now more than ever that spirits do exist. Not in the ghostly, rowdy, animated Hollywood way, but truly they do exist. How well you knew him shapes your thought processes. How much you loved him gives you strength and empathy for others. He is always with you. As we spoke, I began to know your Jim. We never met but I began to know him, to hear from him. I began to see you in ways that maybe very few people have seen you, though I am certain Jim did. In some way he guided our conversation. Not as a “medium” casting voices into my head, but with his spirit I felt him come to you through our conversation. You love him deeply and he loves you. There will be many more times he will come to you through others. His generosity may be shown through the acts of others you may not even know yet. His kindness will aid you in your endeavors through the kindness of others. His thoughtfulness will allow others to point the way through conundrums large and small. As we talked I felt something of his love for you and his insistence to be helpful to you. He will continue to do so as long as you are open to him through others. Bless you, Janet, we all love you.” J.P.

The one activity, bicycling, that Jim and I did together, is one I continue to fully embrace and enjoy as a solo. As many of you know about three weeks ago I had my Jamis Road Bike stolen. It was heartbreaking to see that bike disappear from my life. It had been my ride for many years, Jim bought it for me and I had to let it go. It has not been easy.

Carbondale M300 Mountain Bike

Shortly after this event, within two days, I became the owner of a cute blue Carbondale M300 Mountain Bike. A fellow local tour guide, Jay gave me the bike. It has since been cleaned up, had it’s maiden ride and is ready to go. I am cautious about mountain bikes, my history with them has not always been a positive one.

The first time I was on a mountain bike, I was biking to Point Reyes National Seashore, hike, and bike camp with a friend. I met up with a boulder, flipped over the front end of the bike, the bike came over on top of me and as I was laying on the ground trying to figure out where I was wounded, my friend came up to me and said, “Wow, Janet that was really cool”. I couldn’t be angry with him as I bet it was really cool to watch. He made up for it by taking me to Calistoga Hot Springs to recover. I ended up with whiplash to my neck. I have tread carefully around mountain bikes since that experience. Now, several years later I hope that the ride will be smoother and safer.

Even with a new mountain bike, I knew I wanted another road bike. I began the search. I looked at new bikes, fancy, clean, and smart and expensive. I contacted a friend of mine whose husband “does bikes”. He asked me questions:

  • How tall are you? This helps to size a bike.
  • What did I want it for? I wanted it to ride.
  • Did it have to be new? No.
  • Was weight important? Yes, at least a little. I need to lift it on and off my bike rack.
  • How much was I willing to spend? As much as it took to make me happy with my ride.

Don began to look for road bikes. The day after our conversation, he sent me a link to a road bike on Craigslist. It had everything I wanted. It was the right size, it has great components, and is lightweight, weighing in at about 14 lbs. The price was within an acceptable range. My friend Ward and I went to look at the bike. It was in very good condition, the ride was smooth. I needed time to think. Edwin, who was selling it, recommended I take a few days to think it over. That was a very kind thing to do.

I went home and began to consider whether this was the bike for me. I contacted another friend, John, who knows a lot about road bikes and he agreed the bike was a good option. Then I asked Jim, my deceased husband. He loved bikes. I know it sounds odd to ask a person who is no longer here yet I did.

I ¬†met up with my friends, Jim and Rhonda, in the desert this past winter. At the beginning of this post I placed a quote that was the continuation of a conversation Jim, Rhonda, and I had when we met in January. I was struggling to make a decision regarding my treatment for thyroid cancer. The conversation we had helped guide me to make the best right decision to follow through with treatment. The question “What would Jim say to you?” helped me find the answer I needed. I too believe that my Jim continues to help, love, and support me in odd and interesting ways. Remind me sometime to tell you the story of lost items being found when I have asked Jim for help. He does continue to shape who I am. There are many times I am thankful for that invisible support.

K2 Mod 5 Campagnolo Road Bike

I did ask Jim about this bike. I strongly felt, even though it was the first bike I looked at, it was meant for me. I believe that Jim (my husband) was pushing me towards this bike. It was a clear and insistent message.  A week later I contacted Edwin, we bargained on the price and now I am the proud owner of a carbon and aluminum frame  K2 Mod 5 Campagnolo racing/road bike. I have been riding it and it rides like the wind. It is a beautiful bike, well taken care of, and my new ride. I am definitely happy with my choice.

And….I get to buy new accessories as several of mine disappeared with my Jamis bike. Sigh. Shopping for sporting goods ranks at the top of the list of types of shopping I enjoy doing.

Jim, my husband

It is a good time to bike. Roads that are often filled with cars are free and wide open. The city of San Diego has been repaving so the rides are smooth. I wear my mask and have begun to learn where I really need to wear it. There are certain areas where people tend to congregate. Wearing a mask has been a learning experience when exercising.

I really enjoy the sense of freedom my bikes offer me. I am ready to ride.

Jim will always be with me. I choose to let him continue to be a part of my life. I like that I can reach out to him when I need clarification. I do believe that he reaches me through others. He certainly did that day this winter, speaking through my friend Jim. (Whoa there are just too many Jims) I can keep moving forward and still have him with me. And trust me he is a great finder of lost items.

 

 

NextDoor

I have been staying with friends in Bay Park, a community in San Diego since March. Yes, we are still getting along. We are all healthy and “sheltering in place”. This has meant that we get our groceries and other necessities delivered to the house. I have not been inside a grocery store for over two months. Wow.

Why are we doing this, well, we are in the demographic that needs to be careful (67 years young), I was treated for thyroid cancer in February and Cynthia is recovering from foot surgery. We have all felt it is best to stay away from the stores.

Since early March we have been diligently trying to find disinfectant sprays that are recommended for Covid-19. Do you know how hard they are to find? Some stores have it but you have to go to the store and pick it up. We continue to choose to social distance from others. ¬†Amazon delivers on-line but they are “out of stock”. Walmart, CVS, Riteaid, Target, Home Depot…..Out Of Stock!!

Enter Nextdoor.com. I have had experiences with this social media platform since Elsie the Cat disappeared from my rig, November 3, 2019. The people in the community of Santee have been amazing and continue to be so. When I posted my lost cat on Nextdoor, I met Tanya. She is all things animals in the east county area. Although I have never met her I feel like she became a friend. And, to this day the Santee community is keeping an eye out for my now, 15-year-old kitty. I am so thankful for their caring, for a little lost kitty.

I noticed that as we began to “shelter in place” the communities on Nextdoor reached out. They have reached out to their neighbors, to seniors, and to anyone in need. Some people even set up tables near the street with extra items. People would come and pick up something they needed and drop off what they had in excess. They also shopped for people who could not go to the store.

When I moved to Bay Park I signed up with Nextdoor in this area. Out of frustration and running extremely low on disinfectant spray and toilet paper I posted on Nextdoor and offered an exchange of paper towels for anyone who had what we needed.

Within a very short time, the answers started coming in. I was told what stores had toilet paper. Then the offers started. Thanks to Emma, we now have Lysol disinfectant and TP. She even threw in some Clorox wipes. Thanks to Howard we have enough TP not to worry about running out. Today I got another offer for TP. I turned the offer down and told Bobby to hold onto it until the next person in need surfaces. I have now experienced another amazing Nextdoor community and I am grateful.

Nextdoor has shown me a sense of community. The kindness of people has shone through. The willingness of individuals to help others continues to be a wonderful experience for me. It has shown me the kindness of others, and the willingness to help, no matter what the crisis is. People care about their neighborhoods and they care about each other. They may not always agree yet they continue to support and help each other. They create strong communities through this social media platform.

Besides communicating and pleas for help, Nextdoor also had a market place where you can shop locally for free or sale items. Because it is local all one has to do is drive somewhere in the neighborhood to pick it up. Local Businesses, Real Estate, Lost & Found, Events and more are listed. I have to admit I have not taken the time to explore it in depth. I do know that Nextdoor will remain a part of my life wherever I roam in my little RV.

I will always be grateful to those who reached out to me and my friends when the plea for supplies was posted. Thank you, Bay Park, thank you, Santee, and for all those communities that are out there helping, supporting and caring about each other.

Tour Guiding-A Stolen Bike & A New Bike

Guiding at Torrey Pines Golf Course

In 1997 I quit my career as a nurse. After taking a year off, going back to school and having fun,  I began a search for a new career. A small ad in the local newspaper guided me into a career that continued until I retired. For fourteen years I was a Tour Guide in San Diego and a Tour Director, taking seniors and other ages, on tours throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, and South America. It was a great job and one I was well suited for. Often I was the one who stood at the front of the bus with a microphone in hand, giving tours, maintaining a sense of humor, and guiding everyone to have a good time.

What makes up a good tour guide or director:

  • Knowledge. One has to be willing to research often on the places they guide. Guests expect you to know every rock, tree, flower, and more. In San Diego, I took avail of any local tours, refreshing myself on the local facts and lore. I read books and asked lots of questions. When I was planning an outbound tour, I was often busy for up to six weeks before a trip, preparing and refreshing my knowledge.
  • Humor. When all else fails a good sense of humor will push one through the roughest of patches.
  • Kindness and Caring. What made me so well suited for this job was the fact that I really cared about each person, even the difficult ones, on my trips and tours around San Diego. My goal was to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. I always hoped there might be a “wow” moment for each individual.
  • A willingness to lose sleep. Long after my guests were off to dreamland I was up studying for the next day. If someone was ill in the middle of the night, I was up with them.
  • Flexibility and no I don’t mean that I can touch my toes. When things go wrong on a trip or tour, a good tour guide or tour director needs to be able to change things on the fly.
  • Generally, we need to know how everything works. Where do we meet guests at the airport? Where can the motorcoaches pick up and drop off? How do we register these guests for a conference? What roads do I take to get from point A to point B? The list goes on.

What really made this job worthy of my time, especially on a local level was the sense of community among the local tour guides. Part of work, was meeting up with the other tour guides. I looked forward to seeing everyone I worked with. The tour guides in San Diego are a tight-knit group. We all know each other, we lament with each other, share the joys and gossip, and enjoy hanging out with each other. I love the local tour guides.

My sweet red bike

A few days ago my beloved road bike was stolen. Sigh. As with almost everything I own, it carries a story with it. It is a fast little red Jamis road bike.  Jim, my now deceased husband bought it for me. I loved that bike. I loved riding it with him. After he died I found that riding my bike was the type of sport I still loved the most. When my bike disappeared I was heartbroken and at a bit of loss about what to do.

I immediately discovered grief, again. I know I have to grieve for the loss of this precious bike. Life is about impermanence and this is being taught to me again. Sigh.

I know that I will get a new road bike. I love riding too much to be without one. Until then what was I suppose to do? I went on Facebook (yes I know some of you are not fond of social media) posted on my personal page that I had my bike stolen, and was wondering if anyone had a bike I could borrow until I could buy another bike. Within an hour, yes an hour, a fellow tour guide, Jay, posted on my page that he had a bike that was given to him by another tour guide, Bev, and he wanted to give it to me. I went to his house which is very close to where I am staying, took it for a ride, and came home with a Cannondale M300 mountain bike.

My New Ride

How incredibly cool is this? How kind and caring. The tour guide community in San Diego is strong. Even though I have retired from guiding, I still meet up with guides, catch up on all the gossip, and know that if I need anything at all, I can reach out to most of the guides I know and if they can help, they will. I want to thank Jay for stepping forward and being generous and kind and caring to my need. It is not unusual that people will step forward in a crisis (big or small). It brings out the best in most of us. It certainly brought out the best in Jay and I will be forever grateful for to him and to this blue mountain bike, currently getting tuned up.

In a few days’ time, I will be out on my new bike, learning the ins and outs of a completely different style of bike. It will help me gain new knowledge and skills. I am anxiously waiting to ride it around the bay. I am anxiously waiting for my first ride.

Today and each day I ride that blue Mountain Bike I will be grateful for Jay’s gift to me. I will be thankful for a job that gave me the opportunity to meet and know such fine people. Today and as always I am grateful.

Thank you, Jay. You are the best.

 

Family

In 1952 I was blessed to be born into a loving, caring and teaching family. For several years our extended family, two grandmothers, and a grandfather lived in our home. I have been thinking of my birth family often this past month.

Since my early twenties, I have been “on my own”, living far from all of them. I have always been a bit of a wanderer and decided early to use my career, as an RN to travel and live in different parts of the United States. After living for three to five years in each place, I would pick a new place, get a job and move. ¬†I settled in southern California. I obtained my Masters in Holistic Health Education, and at the end of five years, just as I was getting ready to move on, I met Jim, my friend, partner, lover and husband and settled into the San Diego region.

Janet & Jim

Jim died in 2012, and in June of 2013, I bought my RV and my life as a nomad began again. The house is now sold and I live in my RV full time. It is small and comfortable and for right now it is home. I have traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada and have embraced this lifestyle to the best of my ability.

Although I have had curiosity and fondness for everywhere I have visited or traveled, I return again and again to the desert southwest and anywhere from the Rocky Mountains and west. I love the wide-open spaces, the quiet, the stillness and the breathtaking moments of awareness.

Enter the Coronavirus and I am in San Diego. I am staying with good friends. I am recovering from treatment for thyroid cancer. Cynthia is recovering from foot surgery. We are all helping each other. I have stayed in touch with my local San Diego friends thanks to Zoom and Facetime. We have been doing driveway meetups, practicing the art of virtual hugs (not as good as the real thing) and sitting at least six feet apart. It has helped to break the isolation that my solo friends are experiencing. I have a strong and good family of friends.


Since I have been sheltering in place, I miss my birth family. Despite our differences, I miss the family I was born into. My sisters live in different places, one in northern New Jersey, and one in Ohio. I know they do not live close but they seem to be in reaching distance of each other. I am not. The three of us have had one Zoom meetup and that has helped. I want to arrange a Zoom meeting with them on an ongoing basis. It is comforting to see them and just sit and chat and listen. My oldest sister and I call back and forth. I look forward to those times when we talk.Families are a big messy affair even if there are only a few siblings. We can argue, we can disagree, we can laugh, share stories, and enjoy moments in time. Even at our worst times, we are still family.

In mid-March, my one niece (in Ohio) gave birth to a beautiful little girl. My NJ sister and I got to meet her, thanks to Zoom. I would love to embrace and hold that little bundle. I would enjoy a hug from family, actually from anyone. My other niece and her daughter, Quinn, live in New Jersey near my oldest sister.

My Ohio niece, Brittany, loves family. She once said to me that if it was up to her she would have a compound of homes and all of her family would live there. She has been instrumental in drawing me back into the lives of my family. I remain grateful to her, for the ability to do this and include all of us.

 

As I sit here on a gray Sunday morning, my friends are downstairs listening to their church service. One of the hymns I heard wafting upstairs was:

“For the Beauty of the Earth”. The third refrain is the one that struck a chord in me at this moment of time. “For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, Friends on earth and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild. Lord of all to thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.”

Today I am thankful for all my family, friends, strangers and acquaintances. Today I am thankful for recognizing the longing to see and talk to my sisters and nieces. I am glad they are all safe and sheltered in place. I am thankful to be able to reach out over the miles and remind myself to be very thankful for a loving and strong birth family.