Arriving & Departing

Two weeks ago I arrived in San Diego. It was hot, like really hot. Even though I don’t mind camping in all kinds of weather….the heat did me in. I lasted a day. I don’t care if I have air conditioning in my rig, I don’t care if my little home on wheels is super comfortable. When it is over 100 degrees at 7 pm, I give up.

I know I have told all of you this before but….here it is again. I have wonderful friends. They are caring and loving and giving. I feel fortunate. My dear friend Pat rescued me from the heat and took Elsie and myself into her home for most of the two weeks. I feel so fortunate and grateful to her. I got to sleep in a comfortable bed with air conditioning. Elsie had a large space to romp about in. Pat and I had ample time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. I am grateful to Pat and to those treasured shared moments in time.

Entering into San Diego this time was hard. I had a busy agenda. Most of what I needed to do is complete. I am signed up for Medicare. The next step of my dental work is complete. The rig is ready to roll. Once all that was done I had time to visit with friends. It was a busy couple weeks.

Emotionally I have been all over the place. Coming to San Diego really triggers all kinds of emotions and feelings for me. I feel vulnerable. I feel strong. I feel sad. I feel joy. Sometimes I am close to tears, more often I am not. Man those emotions really bounce around. I wonder sometimes if I don’t feel a sense of displacement when I arrive here. It is not unusual to have friends welcome me home and yet I am not sure this is my home. I am beginning to feel a longing to figure out where home is to me.

I don’t think I stayed here long enough. It felt rushed. I think when I return in November or December I will stay at least a month. Maybe I can find a rental and Elsie and I can settle in and see how it really feels. I don’t think I will spend all winter in San Diego. I have a longing to winter up north, somewhere in the Monterey Peninsula. That is a changeable goal. Everything is changeable. Life is change. I am certainly learning that and yet I  need to be reminded.

The view from close to where i am camping.

Tonight I am camped on Mission Bay in San Diego and am enjoying the temperate ocean breeze. Tomorrow morning I am heading inland. Elsie is going to visit a friend of mine in Colorado for about two weeks. She has been to Deana’s before. Deana and her sweet pup are going to care take Elsie for two weeks while I head to southern Utah and adventure off with my good friends Mary and Linda.

We are going into the back country of Canyonlands National Park. I am excited and looking forward to this next adventure. It is fun to have met others who like to do the same things I do. Some of this adventuring is a bit daunting on my own. When I am with others, it becomes a grand and fun adventure and less of a challenge.

The full package of who I am follows along with me each day. I am grateful to have friends I can call and share deep felt emotions with. I am grateful for friends to have fun with, share a dinner, share a movie or just sit and talk. I keep seeing and feeling the phrase in my mind “all we can do is walk each other home”. I am glad to have those around me who are willing walk the journey with me.

Tonight I am feeling so grateful and every other emotion in between.

 

 

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Totality


fullsizeoutput_8201My extended summer vacation is drawing to a close. I have had an adventurous and good time in Idaho and Montana. I can’t thank my friends, Linda (for her “cabin”) and Mary (including me in her adventures) enough. It has been a fun.

The finale to my time in Idaho and Montana, and a little bit of Oregon was watching the Eclipse in totality, with new friends. We were in Unity, Oregon. The eclipse was every cliche or phrase or word you have ever formulated for amazing. I had told myself that I would not take photos. I was just going to watch it. Well the best laid plans can go awry. I did get one good shot of totality. It was fun to take pictures of the people and the shadow, and the sunset. Yep it was downright awesome.

And to think, I almost missed it. What?, you may wonder. She was planning to do this since last spring. How could she almost miss it?

I have been out in the back country for most of the summer. I have hiked and biked and kayaked and more. I have spent a lot of time alone. When the news started coming in that they were expecting close to a million people in Oregon for the eclipse, I hesitated. McCall Idaho was expecting up to 100,000 people. People were worried about traffic. There was concern that gas stations would run out of gas. The more the reports came in, the more unsure I became. I was not sure I wanted to be around all these people. I have seen one other eclipse. I could easily head south and avoid the masses.

Mary & Janet waiting for Totality

What drew me to Unity to see the eclipse was my friend, Mary. I had made a commitment to her to share an RV site. I had made a commitment to be there. I like my friends and I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t break commitments very easily. So with some hesitation on my part, I drove to Unity, Oregon.

And the result? 

I had a great 4 days. The group I was with were delightful and easy going. The day before the eclipse we went to Unity Reservoir and mucked about on the water. Everyone got along. The town and the townspeople were welcoming and helpful. We had a great big grassy area to sit in, the morning of the eclipse. Other people outside of our group joined us. Everyone was having fun getting to know each other. There were no hoards of people. We left on the August 22. There was no traffic. We had no difficulty driving or getting gas. The trip to Medford Oregon was long yet easy.

 

I am glad I stretched myself. I am glad I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and mesh into a fine group of people. I believe that it is important for me to be a bit uncomfortable from time to time. The emotionally scary experiences help me to become more-more human, more whole, more of everything. I know several posts back, I spoke of fear. Fear has been pretty much a part of my day to day existence since Jim died. I can let it drown me or I can make it my ally. The trip to Unity is a good example of asking fear to be my ally. When I support this part of myself and push forward to a new experience I grow and fear becomes a tiny bit more distant.

Sunset in Totality

I am driving south. I am going to be in San Diego for two weeks, starting this Sunday. I have to visit the person I have an ongoing relationship with for another six months or so, my dentist.😁 I have to sign up for Medicare. Good heavens, I am 65 this October, how did that happen? The rig is getting checked out and serviced. It is time to get my eye exam and order new glasses. It will be a busy two weeks.

I am hoping to see all my San Diego friends. I have missed my major support group, since Jim’s death. You all know who you are. I hope to see each and every one of you in my two weeks in town before I adventure out again.

Tonight I am at the beach. I have missed the ocean and have felt a draw to the west to say hello to the Pacific, and Jim (he was buried at sea). It is time to get my shoes on and take a walk. It is time to say hello to the wide open ocean.

 

 

Bees & Distraction

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There are times in my life that I am given the gift of distraction. Sometimes distraction works well when the rest of life is a bit overwhelming. It also may bring with it small miracles, new friends and lessons, always lessons.

Chemotherapy is not fun. Mix it with radiation and it becomes even less fun. After Jim was diagnosed with salivary glad cancer, he had to endure a summer of this mix. It was a challenge and not much fun, at all.

IMG_1258Enter the major distraction of that summer. One afternoon at the end of June I was working in the yard when I happened to look down and there were bees swarming around my legs. They were not landing, I was just being paid a lot of close attention. I noticed they were going under our shed in the backyard. When I informed Jim that I thought there were honey bees under the shed, he brushed it off and said they were probably miner bees and would be gone in 6 weeks.

The next few days showed increased bee activity and still Jim’s response was unchanged. I finally took a few photos of the bees and started to do my own research. The following Saturday there was a free lecture on bees at one of the local library branches. I informed Jim that we were going to the talk. I knew if I went alone he might still doubt the outcome.

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Eric ready to work

Enter Eric, the man that both of us quickly labeled the bee whisperer. He confirmed my suspicions that we did indeed have a hive of honey bees under our shed. We wanted to remove the hive, alive. Eric came to the house and after observing the shed and the bees he gave us three options.

  1. Cut the floor out of the shed and he could remove them. Nope, Jim didn’t like this idea.
  2. Lift the shed up on that side and work with removing the hive that way. Nope, Jim didn’t like that idea either.
  3. Since we had already put a fine mesh screen around the bottom of the shed, Eric suggested putting in a one way bee door. This would allow the bees to come out but not to go back in. We would put a portable hive outside so that the bees might find a new home. Then we had to wait for the queen, herself, to emerge.
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Eric & Jim putting in the Bee Door

Jim chose option number 3. I, also, was good with this option. So began the six week saga of removing the bees. This was a practice in patience. The first bee door did not work, so we tried again. Eric would come by about every third night to see how things were progressing. We became friends with Eric. Jim and he had wonderful long conversations about many common interests. What I appreciated was that Eric never asked what was going on with Jim, they just got to know each other as people.

As more and more of the bees could not get back into the hive they started hanging in a huge clump on the side of the shed. On one of Eric’s stops at the house he brought a spray bottle with something that bees don’t like the smell of and sprayed it on the clump of bees on the shed. He did this in hopes that the bees would check out the portable hive and think it was a good alternative. With a huge swarm of bees circling above, Eric walked to the hive and got down on his knees and said “Oh look the girls are fanning their wings” He told us that the wing fanning meant they were sending out pheromones to let the swarm know they had found an alternative home. Within five minutes the bees were in the hive. It was amazing to watch.

Click on the photos above and it will become a slideshow.

A few nights later I noticed all these bees hanging on the side of the portable hive. Eric was called. When he arrived he took the lid off the portable hive and noted that the queen was inside. Success!!!! There were about 20,000 bees in that hive. Whoa! It took about 6 weeks for this to occur. After waiting a few more days, one night, after dark, Eric arrived, climbed into his bee keeping suit, smoked them so they would be drowsy, bungie corded the hive and took them to their new home in Rancho Santa Fe.

When Jim completed chemo and radiation and was feeling more normal, he spent an afternoon cleaning out the hive from under the shed. It was amazing the number of combs that he pulled out. It was a major hive, successfully removed. Once all of this was finished we re-meshed the whole underside of the shed and once again, were free of bees.

For most of the summer Jim and I stood on the deck every day and watched the bees. We had major discussions of what we would do if the alternative we chose did not work. Both of us looked forward to Eric’s visits. And, both of us learned  a lot about bees. We felt good, because we had saved a hive of honey bees. For those of you who are not aware, honey bees are endangered. It is important to save every single one.

The summer of the bees was a great distraction for Jim and myself. Rather than focusing inward, which is not uncommon, in times of crisis, we were given the opportunity to continue to be part of the larger world, thanks to Eric and the honey bees. We had a story to tell to our friends and family. There was something we needed to check on every day. Often you could find us sitting on the deck with our binoculars watching these little creatures do their thing. When Jim was feeling really awful, he would sit himself in one of the zero gravity chairs on the deck and watch. It got him outdoors and gave him a welcome distraction and something to tell his friends when he would meet them at the beach on Saturdays.  Those little honey bees helped us make it through that summer, providing a most welcome distraction.

Praise Bees-Praise Distractions.

 

 

 

An Idaho Summer

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My Idaho summer is coming to a close. Summer in a home surrounded by water and mountains, what more could I ask for? I knew very little about this state before I arrived. Although I have only explored a small section of a rather large state, I now know it is a place I will return to again.

I have relished my stationary time. I was able to nest and relax. I did not feel like I needed to be on the go every minute. There were many benefits to being here. An outstanding benefit-getting to know Linda better,strengthening our friendship and enjoying her company. It was delightful.

I became part of a community, if only for a short time. It doesn’t take long in a small town for the major players to take notice of a new person. The post office in Donnelly, by the time I left, knew me by name. They also told me they would see me next summer.😁 I have enjoyed becoming part of  a community even it was temporary.

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Elsie bathing in the late Afternoon Sun

Elsie also enjoyed the larger digs. I think she was glad to be left behind to nap at will. She enjoyed having space to run. It was hard for me to have to move her again. It was me being emotional, she really hasn’t seemed to mind.

We are in Boise this week. I am, once again, house sitting for Misty the Invisible Cat. When Linda asked me if I could help them out while they are off on vacation, how could I say no? They gave me their second home without hesitation. This is what friends do for friends.

I am, temporarily,  going to become an advertisement for Idaho as I create one of my list about why Idaho is truly the “Gem State”.

  • It is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in the state of Idaho. More than 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined from Idaho.
  • Idaho’s state seal is the only one in the U.S. designed by a woman. In 1890, Emma Edwards Green submitted the design for the State Seal competition sponsored by the First Legislature for the State of Idaho.
  • The drivers give wide berth to bicyclists. As a cyclist,  I noticed this again and again. It is greatly appreciated.
  • The lakes are beautiful and become warm enough in the summer to swim in. I really appreciate this, as I grew up on a lake in northern NJ and love swimming in fresh water.
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Cascade Lake

  • Outdoor activity is everywhere. Hiking? Yep. Biking? Yep. There are a lot of off the road bike paths, that are well maintained. I didn’t have to worry as much about traffic. Kayaking or Paddle Boarding? Yep.
  • Summer is full of special events. I spent one three-day weekend at the Roseberry annual Music Festival. There were three nights of great music. It was very much a family affair. Young children ran among the adults. I brought my folding chair, set it in place and wandered. The entertainment included local and nationally known bands. fullsizeoutput_80a9It was a great way to spend the weekend. The person who was in charge of parking gave me my favorite spot every night. Small towns are fun that way.
  • Wildlife abounds. I enjoyed all of it. The Sandhill Cranes called to me several times, early in the morning hours. I loved the fox that lived over near Roseberry and am happy that I got to take photos of her.

 

  • There were reminders that I was in the west. A favorite of my time here, was the day my friends and I came upon a herd of sheep, being herded by sheepdogs and people to the high country for the summer.
  • I looked forward to the drive across Cascade Lake every time I needed to go somewhere.
  • There were so many nicely graded dirt roads to venture off on.
  • Wildflowers abound. When one season is done the next one is coming into full bloom. Beautiful, just beautiful.
  • Have I mentioned the people? Everyone was welcoming. I could always find someone to aid me when I needed it. I walked into a dentist office, in McCall, and asked if I could make an appointment for a dental cleaning. No problem. They didn’t need x-rays, they didn’t contact my dentist they just got me in.
  • Water abounds. Lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and all were running wild and well above normal this past spring.
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    Sawtooth Mts & Stanley Lake

    I love water.

  • Idaho is home to beautiful mountain ranges. I loved the short time I spent at the edges of the Sawtooth Wilderness. It was stunning.
  • Boise is known for it’s Greenbelt. It was off-limits to me this spring (too much water) yet now I am able to get out and bike distance with little interference. It rides along the Boise River where a late summer past time appears to be floating the river in rafts and inner tubes.

I will treasure my Idaho summer for a long time to come. It has given me time to be introspective, have fun out there in the wilds and be reminded of the importance of community.

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Next stop, Oregon and the Eclipse.

 

Life is an Adventure

Sometimes I try to get creative when I write a new post. After leaving it for a few days, I come back, review it and am amazed that it sounds awful and pretentious. I delete it and start over.

When I first started this blog, I sat in front of my computer and tried to think creatively and I was an utter failure. I could think of nothing to say. Then this little voice inside me said “write from your heart”. I have been doing this ever since.

I just deleted a post I started a few days ago. What makes me think I can write as an expert or an authority on anything? I am mucking through my existence like most others. Each day I can look at what I have accomplished or not accomplished and realize I am still trying to figure “it” out. Some days I feel like I am a bit closer to knowing and some days it feels like I am just starting out.

 

Life is an adventure. When I was single, back in my 20’s and 30’s, I explored and questioned and found amazing things. Many topics helped me stretch my boundaries and grow in ways I would have never imagined. I traveled to exotic and not so exotic places. I studied with teachers. Everything I did shaped me into who I am today.

So the real question becomes, who am I today? I know I am an accumulation of my life experiences, which seems like a pat answer, with no definition at all. Over the past few months I have had time to reflect on this question and, guess what?, I still have no answer.

I like to think of myself as an honest and kind person. Most of the time I am there, yet, not always. I keep learning from others. Linda who, along with her husband, loaned me their “cabin” in northern Idaho has been a good example for me. We have had some long and interesting talks. I realized that I would like to follow her example of taking a situation and looking at it from many perspectives. There is no black and white, not really, in this world we humans inhabit. I realize that I do not have the whole picture in any situation I walk into. It is good to step back and observe more, create less opinions or judgement too early. By doing this I have met and developed some very good and loving friendships. I have grown in my own person and feel I am the better for it.

It is hard to acknowledge that I am full of human frailty, like most others. What I choose to do with this knowledge leads me in repeated and new directions. It helps me to grow and change and I would like to think become more bendable, like trees blowing in the wind. It is OK to be frail because within that is strength, determination, growth and kindness. I don’t mind bending like the wind, as long as I come back up straight, sure and strong and enjoying life as it is, in this moment.

 

 

Elsie Follow-up—-Because many of you asked.

Elsie asked me to let you know about her gear. Here it goes.

Elsie is chipped. She has been since she was a kitten.

She also wears two locators on her collar. The one I have had the longest is the Loc8tor. It is a small beacon that is on her halter. It can track her up to 400 feet. When I lived in San Diego and she had free run of the yard, all I had to do was turn on the handset and she knew her time was up. She would appear from wherever she was resting. I have this on my car keys as well. I tend to lose them. 😁

The Loc8tor has come in handy on the road. She has gotten out on me a couple of times, due to human error. I have found her each time. It is really handy with the car keys. I have lost them more than I like to admit.

The second one is called The Nut. It is that greenish round thing hanging from her collar in some of her photos. That one works with my iPhone.After you buy this you download a free App. It takes a little time to set it up. What I like about this one is that I can share the nut app with others, who house sit for her. Then they can find her as well. It is a little big but she doesn’t seem to mind it.

The hardest thing I have to remember with these locators is to carry extra batteries with me. The batteries last about 6-7 months.

Elsie is also command trained. Jim and I started training her when she was small. She is very responsive to commands. The first command she learned was “Elsie, Come!” along with three claps. One night while we were in Tennessee, I was trying out a different type of halter and she slipped out of it. It was pitch dark, trees from the bottom of the mountain to the top and thickly forested. I was a bit panicked. I said the above command and there was this little dark shape running into the RV. Whew! The other commands are:

  • “Collar”-to remove her halter when she comes inside.
  • “Outsie?”-If she wants to go out, this command is her cue to head to the door.
  • “Elsie Wait” accompanied by showing her my flat hand or a finger. She doesn’t always like this one and cringes sometimes as if I am going to hurt her. Like I ever would. She will stop and wait, though. It might be worth the effort to go back and re-enforce this one again so she doesn’t get so anxious. I trained her to this command by putting her on a short leash, and gently pulling up and saying wait, like I meant it. When I trained her she would sit down and wait. I chose this one because when I first began introducing her to the RV, she would sometime spring for the side door when I would open it. This is the one command she learned after Jim died. I figured if she was going to travel with me, I would need her to pay attention. She is a very good kitty and although a scaredy cat, aims to please.

She has some interesting dog-like behaviors. I can walk her on a leash with ease. I can take her to my friend, Nancy’s house for dinner or an evening. She really likes Nancy and has stayed with her. She walks in for the evening like she owns the place. I don’t have to bring her litter pan in. She is good at waiting. I bring her short leash with me in case I need to take her for a trip outside.

Her adaptability is what amazes me most. Then again my adaptability, since I was diagnosed with breast cancer,then Jim’s death has pretty much surprised me as well. 

Elsie is such a delightful traveling companion. I am glad I have her along for the ride. We are a team, all the way. I believe we have saved each other time and time again.

Elsie Steals the Computer

Whew it is hard to get this computer to myself. Janet puts it away or takes it with her and I have been wondering how to let my fans know about my adventurous life.

I know not many cats get to do what I am doing. I understand the owners and their own hesitancy. Here is what I want to tell all you cat people out there “Cats are Adapatable”!! I know, I am the world’s worst scaredy cat, yet I like to explore new places and see new things, as long as I have a home to return to when I want security, comfort and a good nap.

I have been to many places since I last posted here. Janet, me and the Roadtrek spent the winter in Arizona, I guess that makes us official snowbirds. I like the idea of Snowcats better. We returned to San Diego in the early spring. Janet says she needed more dental stuff done. I know dental means teeth. I keep trying to tell her that if she ate dry crunchies her teeth would be OK. I don’t know why she doesn’t listen.

Dharma the Dog

Finally in mid-April we left. Since then I have stayed in many interesting places. First stop was to visit a long time friend of Janet’s, Sharon. She lives in a place with “biggggggg…..” rocks everywhere. I had to get used to Dharma the dog. Whew it was hard. Dharma is big and I am small. I am not so sure about dogs but there she was. We stayed inside in a secluded bedroom. Every time I wanted to go somewhere Janet had to carry me. Who would be sniffing right behind? You guessed it Dharma the dog. During the day I would go to the RV so I could look outside and be curious. Who would be outside looking in, you guessed it? Dharma the dog. If we had stayed long enough Dharma may have worn me down and I would have become friends, of sorts, with her. Well maybe.

Since then I have been to the desert, the mountains, the ocean and more. We have camped, rallied (Roadtrek Rally, Monterey) and stayed in people’s homes. I like going back to homes I have been in before. For a while we stayed with Mary, a friend of Janet’s and mine in Medford, Oregon. I remember this house. I have been there before. I love the stairs. I haven’t seen many houses with stairs. They are so much fun to run up and down, over and over again. Janet calls it the rip and tears. I may be older but I love a good run as much as the next cat.

Me groveling with Andrew

For about three weeks we stayed with Linda and Steve and their son Andrew. First Janet was there, then she left, then she came back again. Where does she go? I am not sure. All these other people took good care of me, making sure that I got fed and skritched and loved. I really like Andrew. I am not much of a “guy” cat. Andrew is an exception to that rule. He would come in the room they had set up for me and visit. I admit I kind of ended up groveling a bit when he was around. A cat has to make the best of every situation, right?

These people had other animals. Poncho the dog, kind of ignored me. He didn’t seem to care about me at all. What is wrong with that dog? I am all nervous around him and he pretends I don’t exist. Dogs, go figure. Janet says, Poncho is such a dog. I am not sure what that means but I agree with it. The other animal was Misty the Cat. We didn’t see eye to eye. Whenever we met there was growling and hissing. Setting up territory is hard work.

When Janet returned we arrived at this lovely home that we have been in for about 3 weeks. I like it because, once again, I am the solo pet. I like it when I have Janet to myself. this place has birds and other animals to entertain me when she is out and about. It is nice that she brought my own personal sheepskin inside. I love “making bread” on it and resting in the window where I can watch the world go by. I dream of humming birds. Those swallows make me weary. The just seem to never stop, flitting here and there. I am not sure what birds are about but I like to watch their quickness. It keeps me entertained. Wouldn’t it be interesting to catch one?

Exploring

Janet says we are here to regroup. We have been traveling a lot for the past year. I like stopping for a while. I like the big house. This one has stairs too. I like being able to stretch. I love to rip and tear through this house. All my toys are here, so I can look at them with disdain when someone is looking. Late at night when no one is up I play with them and carry them around the house. They are fun. I pretend they are birds and mice and lizards. I love lizards.

I am not sure how long we are here. I will enjoy all the time I get wherever I am. Life is too short. When things get stressful I will retreat to a time out under the blankets. And when I want to explore the big wide world I will come out from under them and go off and check things out. It helps to have Janet here. She is my rock. I know she will always take care of my base needs. Once in a while when I want her to she will always be there to scratch, love and feed me. We are a team.