On the Move, a Family Visit & Cancer

After a long and somewhat grueling drive across two thirds of the country, I made it to Ohio two weeks past. I found the drive grueling because I could not meander. I love to meander the backroads. I was on a mission to reach family in northern Ohio. So I pushed on.

It has been a good visit. I spent a week with my niece, Brittany, her husband, Trip and their toddler, Ward. I arrived to help this young family, while Ward is undergoing chemotherapy for childhood cancer. Well that sucks. Elsie and I got settled in to the spare bedroom and I met my grand nephew for the first time. And what a cutie he is.

Thomas the Train

I forgot how exhausting a one and half year old can be. I got up early and by the time I went to bed at night I was exhausted. As adults our main job is to entertain a young somewhat housebound toddler. It is hard to be out and about when one is immuno-compromised. I read books, put together puzzles, played numerous kinds of games and watched Thomas the Train many, many times. One knows when they have watched Thomas the Train one too many times. You know the characters by name, you know the plot and try not to roll your eyes when a little one asks to see the same movie three times in one day. 🙄

Brittany and I have had time to share our cancer stories and the stress that accompanies this diagnosis. There are a few clubs I wish I had never joined. The cancer club is definitely one of them. Cancer is a very personal diagnosis. The physical diagnosis is only a small part of the broad picture that cancer plays in someone’s life. Each diagnosis of cancer carries it’s own story. Each story is different. I believe that only those who have been slammed with this diagnosis can understand each other’s story on a different level than those who have not had that experience. We shared stories. Brittany asked questions about my diagnosis (breast cancer) and Jim’s. For those of you who are new to this page, Jim, my husband, died from metastasis of a salivary gland cancer over five years ago. All I can do is be honest with her. All I can do is support her and her husband’s process. And amid the stress, we can have fun and laugh and go out for a beer. The stress is not always visible but remains a presence even if lingering in the recesses of our daily lives.

Ward Rocking His Last Weekly Chemo

The good news is that Ward has completed ten weeks of weekly chemotherapy. He now moves on to chemo once every three weeks and will finish up in late May or early June. The story doesn’t stop there. He will continue to have CT scans at intervals for an undetermined time. Although cancer will recess into the further quiet reaches of the mind the stress revives with each doctor appointment or scan. All we can do is be there for each other.

Elsie and I moved into a lovely old hotel near my family. Grandma from Florida arrived today. She moved into the Porch house and we moved nearby. As it has sleeted and rained outside, we have been having a quiet day inside.  It is time to catch up and rest and plan.

I will be here for another week connecting with my sister, Ruth and continuing to support Brittany, Trip and Ward. Then I will begin to meander. I expect to be in northern New Jersey in early April to visit my other sister and plan time to visit friends as I travel in that direction. I did not expect to be in this part of the country, yet here I am. I want to make the best of it and it gives me the opportunity to visit and see places that I usually would not direct myself towards. Why???? Because I love the west and I miss it when I am gone. While the weather is cold and wet here in Ohio, I miss it even more. I will be heading west again sometime this spring. Those wide open spaces continue to call my name. How did a girl from Delaware end up calling the west home? Well this photo below may demonstrate a reason why.

Until I head west again, I will enjoy my time here in the east with family and friends. Life is just one big adventure.


Miss Elsie the Cat Checking In

Hi, Miss Elsie checking in. Where the heck am I?

Elsie in her tiny home.

Just as I was getting used to the studio at the beach, one day, Janet picks me up, puts me back in my tiny home on wheels and off we go. We drove and drove and drove. At nights we would stop and I would get a chance to go out on my leash. The next morning back into the house I would go and we would drive some more.

I had no idea where I was going, but as long as I was with Janet and in my familiar home on wheels I was good. I ride shot-gun now. I try not to tell Janet how to drive, yet  I keep an eye on the road, just to be sure. Janet says we drove through Arizona, Texas (for many days), Arkansas, Tennessee, and Ohio. It all looks the same to me when we drive. When we stop the smells are different and so is the scenery.

I am good at the riding. I used to sleep under the blankets all day. One day I got brave and came out to have a look around and discovered that it wasn’t so bad riding up front. Since that day, I have not gone “back to the blankets”. Janet bought me a soft fuzzy blanket for my front seat. I think she is a bit jealous of my blanket because I see she takes it and covers up in the evenings while she reads. I am OK with sharing, well, as long as it is not my food or my toys or the catnip.

Look at that little boy run.

After about six days we stopped and out I came and into another house. I am getting pretty good at finding my safe spots when we move into a room or house. I figure it out pretty quickly. This house is a bit more of a challenge because there is this little boy who runs around with a loud inside voice. He scares me some. He runs too fast, and startles me.

And then there is another cat….we have met through the glass door. I am outside and she is inside. There has been some growling but so far I am not too interested. there is so much else to absorb. The other kitty is name Callie. She is bigger than me. She is the princess of her house and I am the princess of mine. I am not sure how she puts up with that little boy. Whew.

Callie & Elsie meet

Callie keeping an eye out for Elsie









I have my own bedroom suite. My safe spot is under the bed. I have discovered many safe places under beds. I discovered a box with clothes under this bed, and I have been pulling those clothes out so I can make a comfy spot under there.

My favorite times of the day are as follows:

  • Going outside. Each day Janet puts my halter on, carries me downstairs, keeping me safe from the other cat and the little boy and I go outside on my leash. I like being outside. I have found warm places in the sun to rest and watch and maybe even catch a catnap.
  • I really like the time I spend with Janet. She seems to disappear for longer periods of time. She says she is babysitting. I am not sure what that means but it gets a bit lonely. Then I curl up and take another nap and before I know it there she is.
  • I have decided recently that I really like my wet food. I love when Janet serves me my one meal a day. It is always a surprise. Sometimes she serves me outside, sometimes on the bed, and most times where all my other food is. That is just so common.
  • At night I sleep with Janet. She moves, I move and then snuggle in again.
  • I love my skritches. I have found if I ask, I usually get what I want. Hmm, there is a lesson there.

It is cold here. I am so glad that I have my fur to keep me toasty when I am outside. Janet seems to whine more about how cold it is. And then, there is this white stuff that occasionally comes out of the sky. It is snow. It is kind of fun to watch. I am not sure what snow is but it seems to come with the cold.

Janet says we are moving again, even though we are staying in the same area. Janet says that we are still not staying in our tiny home because it is “winterized” and it is cold and she is a “wuss”. I am not sure what that means, yet I am ready to take on the next adventure. Hopefully there will be no little kids involved.

Bring it on.



Friendship & Reality & Aging

Yesterday I had breakfast with a good friend. She is 85 years old and her company is delightful. We play scrabble when I am in San Diego. She has been concerned about her mental health for some time now. She is fearful regarding her memory. She worries about Alzheimers, which runs in her family.

In the past when she would mention that she felt like she was forgetting more, I was one who said, don’t worry about it, it is just age. When she told me yesterday that she is being tested and she may be in early stages of Alzheimers, I stopped and thought about what I have said to her on occasion over the past year. Don’t worry. It is just age. Your doing fine.

Yesterday I made commitment to stop using these phrases. Although not a definitive diagnosis, this is a real and valid concern for her. It does not help to support her or anyone by brushing it off. So yesterday I truly listened to her and made a vow to support her in an honest and up front way. I will no longer say such things. My question really needs to be, I am sorry you are dealing with this and what can I do to support you. That is a much more helpful response than brushing it off or speaking lightly of it.

We spoke yesterday about the importance of having our houses in order. As single women we don’t have the privilege of relying on someone else to do anything and we really need to take care of our personal life. I have considered this a lot since Jim’s death. I think as humans we always think there will be someone there to help us. The truth is, we are all in this alone. Even in a good relationship, someone has to die first. I know that sounds morbid and I don’t mean it that way. It is a honest fact.

What do I need to do to get my house in order?

  • Finances-I go through a yearly review with my financial institution to be sure I am on track with my money?
  • If you have a trust, is it up to date. What about a living will? What about a power of attorney? Is that up to date? What do I want done with my body if I should die?
  • My friend, is going to investigate extended care facilities so that she knows what her options are. Did you know that most retirement facilities offer a staycation. You can stay 2-4 weeks and test it out. I really like this idea.
  • Miss Elsie the Cat

    What about pets? My friend, Nancy has offered to take Miss Elsie if something should happen to me. Once a year I check in with her to make sure she is still good with this plan.  I have also provided money for my kitty’s care. Did you know there are cat retirement centers at places such as The National Cat Protection Society. They will take care of your cat until death.

  • Does the family know of my plans? I have no children so it is important that at least one of my sisters is aware of my decisions.
  • What happens if I have no family left. What if I really am alone? Well, I am not in that situation yet but I think it might behoove me to consider this and what my options would be at that point in time.
  • I realized that I need to look for services that could help me maintain my independence: carpet cleaners, maid services, grocery stores that let you shop from home and have your groceries delivered, and handyman services.
  • What about my home, when I have one again? Putting handheld shower heads in all the bathrooms might help if I ever need a chair to sit in while I take a shower. What would make my life easier?
  • It is important to tap into your circle of friends. Some of those friends may be my life line if I need assistance. Asking for help and assistance is not a sign of weakness. Most people are more than willing to give of their time. I have to be the one to ask.

I know this list could go on, yet it a list I often ignore. I am in good health, I have new teeth 😁, and I still believe that I have that 20 and 30 something mentality, well I am going to live forever. The truth is, I am aging. I am alone and I need to be prepared.

Yes, I do carry a copy of my important records with me in my rig. Sorry they are hidden so I can’t tell you where they are. I try to remember to update my sister before I start traveling again. I am fortunate to have friends who I believe, though I don’t know, will gather around if I need help.

Today I am going to create a check list and get my own “house in order”. I believe I am pretty much set, yet I know I am not complete when it comes to this topic.

Today I make a commitment to my friends to really listen when important topics arise. Fear is fear and concerns are concerns and if I can help to lighten the load, even briefly, I will sit and listen and honestly try to understand and support the other person.

All we can do is walk each other home.


Getting Ready to Move

I am in packing mode. Yes indeed, Miss Elsie and I are moving back into the RV on Wednesday. I am nesting. I am packing and sorting and rearranging. It is amazing how spread out one can become when they move into a place with space. Where did all this stuff come from and how did I get it all in my rig?

Pacific Beach

It will  be hard to leave the beach. I have really liked it here. Every day I walk to the bay, it is only two blocks away. About three times a week I walk the few miles to the ocean. It has been a tough existence (sic). The traveling gene is calling and I am heading out.

I have accomplished a lot in my three months here.

  • The dental work is done. Yay!!!! I have two new teeth and one is bionic 😏. Just kidding. I may be financially a little poorer, yet I have two shiny new teeth that I can show off.
  • Taxes are in process. They don’t need me to be present to finish them up.
  • All annual medical appointments are done. It is good to leave knowing I have a clean bill of health.
  • After many visits, chiropractic, massage, myofascial release, and acupuncture my back is feeling soooo….much better. I am seriously going to attempt to stay upright. No more falls are allowed, off my bike, off burros, or slipping on the sidewalk. Ay Yi Yi.
  • My Roadtrek has been checked out and inspected and fixed and is ready to roll.
  • My scooter has been tuned up and is back in my storage unit, ready for my next visit.
  • Thanks to the help of my therapist and the psychiatrist who orders my meds, I am emotionally feeling a bit more alive and ready to face the world. Thank gosh the sunlit days are getting longer, it helps my attitude so much.
  • I have had the opportunity to visit with friends. I have even made a few new ones. Sweet.
  • I finally found that document that was hiding in the dregs of my storage locker. Whew.

Shortly after Jim died, I started a scholarship in his name at Grossmont Community College. The accomplishment I feel strongest and happiest about, has to do with the scholarship. I donated the remaining amount of money needed to make this a perpetual scholarship. This scholarship will now continue indefinitely. Donations will still be greatly appreciated and the Go Fund Me site will remain on this blog page. It has taken the pressure off of me to raise the money needed. It feels very good to know that I have accomplished this very important goal. I have not done this alone. I have done this with the support of so many of you who gave either directly to the college or the Go Fund Me site. It was a team effort all the way. And I thank you.

I know there is more I could list here, these are the ones that come to mind at the present. Now my mental direction is shifting and getting ready to travel.


Where am I going? I am going to be driving across the southern part of the USA, and plan to be in Ohio by the 7th of March. I am going to help support my niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip with their son, one and half  year old, Ward. I posted about him back in December. Ward was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor in December. Since then he has had his right kidney and the tumor removed. He is now going through 21 weeks of chemotherapy. My sister, Ruth has been staying with them but she needs to head home for a short trip. I am going to be her replacement while she goes home. It is good that this young family has as much support as they can get.

I am going to enjoy meeting Ward. I have yet to meet him in a person. My personal hope for this time is that I might be able to relieve Brittany’s and Trip’s stress just a wee bit. This is what family and friends do for each other. We all help the best way we can. For me it has given me a direction when I get on-the-road.

I am off to pack some more. Stay tuned. The adventure continues.


Preparing For the End of Winter

I would like to express my gratitude to all the responses I received from my last post “Struggling Through Winter”. All of your comments were so supportive and helpful. I have read through them more than once. It has eased the feeling of aloneness I felt this winter. It has reminded me, once again, that those of us who struggle with depression and sadness are not alone. I am forever grateful to all of you.

As the daylight hours lengthen I have found I have more energy and interest in the world around me. And, I am beginning to prepare…prepare to move back into my rig and begin the life of a nomad, once again.

I wasn’t sure what direction I was heading when I left the bay and ocean, in San Diego. I kept waiting it out, in hopes that a small “aha moment” would appear and I would have it figured out. I now know my first destination. I am going to driving across the southern United States and then cutting north to Ohio by the second week in March. I leave my rental on February 28th. I will spend a few days at a campground, just to adjust and then I am on my way.

For those who have been following my blog, you may be aware that my one and half year old great nephew, Ward, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor right before Christmas. After successfully removing the tumor and kidney, he recovered and is now in the process of receiving chemotherapy for several months. His family is adjust to this unexpected time in their lives. This is not an easy adjustment and they certainly can use all the support they can get.

My sister, Grandma to Ward, has been in Ohio  since the tumor was discovered. She is in need of returning home. I am going to be helping my niece and her husband out for a while. I will now have time to meet and get to know my great nephew. I am looking forward to meeting this little one and loving my niece and her husband.

This is what family does for each other. We may not always agree, or get along but when any of us struggle, my family is there to support and love each other. It is my honor to actively support and love this lovely young family.

As February begins to wind down, I am getting busy with my Roadtrek. I am getting it cleaned up and completing  all my little and medium size projects in the rig. I am cleaning, making lists and starting to figure out what I want to take with me and what will return to my storage locker.

Miss Elsie the Cat is making her own checklist. She wants to make sure she has all her creature comforts with her. 

I am looking forward to being on the move. I am looking forward to spending time with my niece and her family. I am looking forward to exploring places I have not been before. I am looking forward to meeting people along the way and visiting with friends. I am looking forward to figuring out my spring and summer. I am looking forward. Looking forward means that depression is lessening and I am entering back into life. Oh I am so glad for this. It has been a long few months.

Next winter I might go to New Zealand so I can experience summer all year around. 🌞

Stay tuned—-Life is picking up.




Struggling Through Winter

I have struggled, emotionally, this winter. I am not whining, I am not maudlin, I am not anything other than appearing normal on the outside. Inside my brain, my heart and my being has been in overdrive.

From the outside, everything looks fine. I exercise, I eat (well some), I talk nice to others and I feel compassionate and kind. Inside, I am confused, alone and worried that there might really be something wrong with me.

Three months before Jim died, my counselor strongly urged me to try antidepressants. After three and half years of the whirlwind of cancer for both Jim and myself, she and the psychiatrist who recommended the medicine felt that I was emotionally overloaded and depressed. Well, you think? I agreed to try an antidepressant to help get me through a difficult time. The dose started low but we had to adjust it upwards until I reached a dose that was acceptable for me. I come from a buck it up,  grin and bear it kind of family. Weakness is not in our thought process. It took a bit of encouragement to try the medicine.

Five years later I began to talk to the psychiatrist about coming off of the medicine. I mean how do I know that I really need it now that five years has gone by and I am much more together than right after Jim died? How do I know? Last June I began a slow weaning protocol. I did well until September and then I had to go back up on the dose a little. I remained there until I arrived back in San Diego.

Fall and winter are not my best times. I don’t like the shorter sunlit days, and I fight against coming inward and looking around in those quiet and sometimes shadow sides of myself. Winter is a classic time of being inward. I am glad I am at the beach because that has helped with this unguided annual review. Unguided means that I don’t actively seek out the coming within, it just seems to occur.

Did you know that depression is cyclical? I learned this from the psychiatrist. When people come off antidepressants, if a person is in an upswing they usually do well initially until depression once again raises it’s cyclical self. When I tried to take the final plunge to remove the medicine from my body I was in a more depressive cycle so I knew right away that this wasn’t good. My acupuncturist, Gayle, also relayed to me that she does not recommend for a person to come off these types of medicine as we roll into fall and winter.

So here I am, somewhat disappointed in myself that I could not take the final step to stop this medicine. I know it is not a sign of failure but it kind of feels that way, just a little bit.

Depression is nothing to take lightly. I have known others in my life who battle it in a way more severe form than what I am dealing with. It is easy to tell someone to get over it or deal with it or be positive, yet for those dealing with depression, these kinds of statements are painful and unsupportive. What would be a much better response, I think, is to say I am sorry you are going through this, what can I do to help? Or even better call them once in a while just to talk. Or even better, invite them to dinner, go to a movie, guide them gently in a different direction. No one wants to be sad or lonely or depressed.

Day at the tidepools-4

My therapist has given me some assignments. So I am trying these while I wait for spring and the longer happier days of that time of the year.

  • Set up a phone date once a week with someone I love and know loves and supports me.
  • Read up on the “Stages of Life”. I guess when you reach my age it is not unusual to review all of your life thus far and try to figure out what comes next.
  • Take my passion and do something with it. I have already been working on this with my photography and creating my web site.
  • Each month pick one thing that brings happiness or contentment into my life. Last month I started a photo a day project. It not only fuels my artistic side but it also gets me outside. this month, I am attempting to finally sit in meditation for five minutes a day.
  • Look for groups that have common interest and join in.
  • The worse thing I can do is to hole up. Each day I try to get out to walk, bike-be in nature. I do it alone and with others.
  • I have also decided to start a journal and write one thing I am grateful for every day.

This is just a sample yet I believe you get the idea.

As I write this Miss Elsie the Cat and I are in Idyllwild, CA visiting a good friend, Mary. This has been the best thing I could have done. I have been able to casually visit with Mary over the past few days. I am out and away and in the mountains. Each day I have been here I have felt better, emotionally. Mary and I are embracing each other’s company, sharing our woes and all our good and interesting times since we last saw each other. It is a marvelous catharsis for us both.

It is hard to admit this type of stuff to yourself. It is hard to admit it to the broader world. I have sat on this post for over a week, wondering if I should reveal this much of myself to the rest of the unknown world. I reviewed some of my other posts and some of them have been just as raw and revealing. Why hesitate here. I believe that depression has a stigma that surrounds it. What if I admit that I am not strong. Well everyone is suppose to be strong all the time, right? Well guess what?  That is not true.

I see this as a continuing part of who I am and dealing with grief. This too shall pass. Maybe, just maybe by sharing this someone else may not feel alone or the odd person out. Well here is a fact so no one has to feel alone, over 350 million people in the world suffer from some form of depression.

I continue to embrace each day with as much fervor as I can muster. Some days that is easy and some days my embrace is just on a tinier scale.  And…I keep telling myself, spring is coming, it is just around the corner.



A Very Early Morning

Yesterday morning I woke at 4:45 A.M. After attempting to return to sleep, I gave up and laid in bed and listened to the quiet. On a Saturday morning it is so quiet that, even though the ocean is about a mile or two away, I could hear the breakers. What a peaceful and relaxing sound.

There are times I really don’t mind waking up in the wee hours. There is a peacefulness to those hours. It is  time to contemplate and maybe, just maybe, be.

I find that these times are when I feel the most relaxed and comfortable in myself. I am not fighting with thoughts or feelings. Most of my aches and pains (from current accidents) are absent and I can rest. Miss Elsie the cat comes and lays on my tummy. Mmmm, such a special moment with her.

I especially love to hear the ocean as it breaks on the shore. The waves sound giant although they are only 3-4 feet this morning. I imagine a big ocean with great swells, even though it is quiet and the break is good. I love the ocean at it’s wildest moments.

When I was in my OB/GYN rotation, in my nursing program – many, many years ago – I followed a woman through the end of her pregnancy and birth. My mother gave birth in the very early hours of the morning. I remember sitting outside the hospital in Providence, RI just before dawn, smoking a cigarette (yes I did do this) and feeling content, happy, exhilarated and pleased with the whole world around me. Pleased with my self, pleased for a happy mom and dad and content. I listened as the city came alive on another normal day that was magical for a few of us.

The early wakeful morning hours are when magic comes alive for me. I am grateful to be here, relatively in tact and know I have time to stretch into my day a little bit at a time. I have time to read, to play games on my tablet and sometimes just lay there and be content. I like the content part most of all.

I can then stretch into my day at leisure. If I am not too lazy I can get up and catch the sunrise. If I am too lazy I can slowly get the day together. Elsie gets her leash on and goes outside. I have time to contemplate what might be on my agenda for the day. And then the day begins.

Today I will try to remember my sleepless nights and be grateful for the gift it gives.