About JanetA

I am a nomad and adventurer. I used to travel for work now I travel for curiosity and fun. I started this blog when my husband of 21 years, Jim died of cancer on his 60th birthday. I started it because I wanted to have an easy way for my friends and family to follow me as I started a new adventure living in a small B class RV. I have a delightful little Roadtrek that I live in full time. It continues to be quite an adventure.

Those Tiny Blessings & Magic Moments

Happy New Year. It has been another odd and interesting year. Already I hear people saying, “Whew I am glad 2021 is over”. There are reasons that we might want to see this year go and welcome another year to try again.

It is so easy to reflect on the negative things that happened over the last twelve months, they were so in your face. I wonder how I might reflect on the year that has ended if I took a moment to remember some of the small moments of magic that helped 2021 not look so bad after all.

  • Kayaking on the North Fork of the Payette River, Idaho, early in the morning and seeing a mother moose and her baby, wading through the shallows. No one else around just me. Just me and nature.
  • Hundreds of snow geese flying around and over my rig. It was so amazing to hear their wings and feel a bit of the wind they created as they flew.
  • Seeing the first sunset from Jim’s and Sandy’s home, where I house sat on Whidbey Island. After a month I thought I would not have to take any more photos of sunsets and then I would turn around and there was another sunset that required another photo.
  • Long walk on the beaches. One day I watched a large flock of seagulls diving in to the water over and over again as they fished in a school of fish.
  • One day, one walk on a beach on the west side of Whidbey Island I almost walked right into an eagle who was standing on the beach. I was looking at birds out in the water and didn’t see him right in front of me.
  • Flowers, oh the iris, daffodils that transitioned through to the season of lilacs, rhododendrons, dhalias and more. It has been many years where I have seen so many wonderful flowers.
  • My friendship with a little brown bird, a song sparrow, that lasted for six months. He discoved me one day in the spring when I was playing a sound on one of bird apps, trying to identify his song. He would come every day and sit on my ankle, knee, arm and eventually made his way to my shoulder and head. He provided me with hours of entertainment and outright joy. As the seasons progressed towards fall, I saw him less. Every few days he would show up in the yard and we would greet each other like long lost friends. I am glad he still has his wild bird life and I am so grateful for his adventure into my life. I will never look at a little brown bird the same again

Click on this photo of my brown birdy and see him on my Head.

  • Friends, I am blessed with such wonderful friends. Thanks to vaccines and masks and cautiousness, I was able to see some of my friends in person. For a long weekend this July seven of us, all owning Roadtreks, gathered at a State Park along the Oregon coast to visit and hike and reconnect. It was a delight.
  • Some of my friends appeared on my doorstep while i was house sitting on Whidbey Island. It was a welcomed reprieve from spending so much time alone. I treasure my friends.
  • I had neighbors on Whidbey Island, Robyn and Tom who quickly became friends. I enjoyed being invited to small gatherings at their place. I also joined them for a movie night at a local theater in Langley. Tom was my go to person for anything I needed help with. I am grateful for my connection with them.
  • I visited my friend Pat on San Juan Island. She and I are both photographers. One day we discovered the foxes of the island. It was so exciting to see them and share that moment with someone who was as excited as I was.
  • Amazing Boondockers Welcome campsites in the Phoenix area. I met such lovely people and the sites were lovely to camp in.

Now I know I could go on yet I think you get the idea. There was a lot of magic out there in 2021. I don’t think any of us had to look far to see it. We just had to acknowledge it when it showed up.

What were your magic moments and tiny blessings from this past year? Take a moment and reflect back, I can almost guarantee you will find at least one moment that enriched and changed your life.

Today at the start of the New Year, I am glad to have had a chance to review the moments from 2021 that make me smile, knowing I have changed and grown because of them.

I am thankful for this past year and with excitement and wonder, I am moving into this New Year waiting to see how it will unfold.

Changing it Up

I have been blogging for several years. I finally decided to change it up and create a new look for my blog. Hmmm, sounds easy, doesn’t it?

I started working on the “New Look” on Christmas day. Although it is almost finished, I am still working on it. It was not such an easy process. What did I have to do?

  • First I had to pick a theme. Easy, right? Not! WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose from. I tried out several themes before I chose the final design. Whew, I am glad that is over.
  • How many pages do I want? Each page represents a part of the finished blog. If you want to contact me, all you have to do is click on contact and just like that there is the form. I need to create that contact page. I needed to create a Bio page. Pages, pages and more pages. These all help to create a clean and complete look.
  • What fonts do I want to use? How large do I want them?
  • Links take you to other places. What links should be included? This part I have not finished yet I am not sure what links are of value to my readers.
  • I had to create a link to my Photography website, jarnoldarts.com. Don’t look too closely at this site. It is my next project. I plan an update.
  • All parts had to be done correctly so that when you as the reader click on any part of the site the correct information shows up.

WordPress has representatives that, via chat, will gladly guide and answer questions. I really like this service. Each time I fumbled or could not figure something out all I had to do was go to a representative and ask questions. Not only did they give me written answers, but they also sent me short videos to watch. The videos were created by the representative on the spot. These people know what they are doing.

This morning, four days after the process began, I have a new and updated page. I hope you enjoy it. Even if I was frustrated at times, I am pleased with the results and hope you as the reader will be also.

Any suggestions? Please do not hesitate to speak up.

Today I am thankful for perseverance and updating my Blog.

Desert Rat-2 : Janet Won!

I have been very fortunate with my RV. Shortly after I bought my Roadtrek, I had one incident with a small creature and took care of it quickly. I blocked holes so it could not get to my food and quickly it departed. Since then I have been critter-free, until recently.

When I first arrived in Phoenix I stayed at a marvelous Boondockers Welcome site north of the city. It was rural and wildlife was plentiful. It was warm in the desert, so I decided to leave my front side windows open. I have screens to put over them. No longer traveling with a kitty I decided the windows could stay all the way down. BIG MISTAKE!

No sooner had I climbed into bed than I heard scurrying sounds in my rig. What the heck was that? Then I felt something running down my legs, on top of the covers. Arrgh, stop already! I got up turned on the lights and of course, there was nothing there. Feeling gullible I decided I had scared whatever it was off and returned to bed.

FAT CHANCE! So began the saga of Janet and the Desert Rat. First I put all the food away. Nothing remained on the counters except the bananas. The next morning there was a bite out of one of the bananas. This was war! I love bananas.

The next evening I did a double-check and everything was put away. That little mouse was quite ingenious and I could hear it scurrying up the wall between the interior and exterior of my van. Oh no, it was making a home. I knew it was time to get serious about getting rid of this invader. Oh, but it is so cute, well at least the pictures on the internet are.

Now going on close to five days I had not been successful. I started with “Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent – Environmentally Friendly, Keeps Mice Out”. I placed it what I thought were strategic spots. It added a pine scent to my RV but it did not seem to deter the determined rodent.

I decided it was time for the big guns. I was going to buy mouse traps. Did you know there are many kinds of mouse traps? There are the ones I grew up with that just snapped and hopefully killed the mouse when it reached for a piece of cheese. Now there are ones that look like a little house. You still bait them but when they go inside the deed is done and all you have to do is throw out the trap. There are sticky papers which I think are kind of cruel. Live traps are also an option. If you research mouse deterrents the choices are plentiful.

Round one-a live trap. I really did not want to kill anything. If I could catch it alive that would be the best solution. The first night I set it out I had no luck. After hearing it crawl up and down the wall that night, I decided that I was going to have to be a big girl and get a kill trap. I bought a couple of the house-type traps. On night seven I set out the live trap and two of the house traps. I could hear the darn thing as it got braver and braver in its wanderings.

Ah, there it was, the sound of something catching a cute little desert rat. I could only hope. I turned on the lights and there was the little culprit caught in my live trap. Ah-ha, I had prevailed. The mouse was still alive, I could only hope it was the only one. I duct-taped the ends of the live trap and put it outside until morning.

When morning came I took a half-mile walk into the desert and once I felt I was far enough from the rig, I opened the trap and the little rat ran into the desert to create a new home. I went back to my rig and got out of there before it could find its way back. Now I had to hope it was the only one.

As I have not heard anymore moving up and down the walls, I have gone back to my slovenly ways, leaving a few nuts, and fruit on the counter and so far nothing has touched them. The other day I was looking at my water pump which is hidden under a compartment inside the rig. I found little pieces of cloth and threads in there. I recognized what they belonged to. I cleaned those out, made sure the Fresh Cab was in place, and closed the compartment. Those pieces of thread and cloth certainly indicated that the little desert rat was making a home somewhere in the walls.

One day I was cleaning out one of the cabinets where my food is. There was more evidence it had been in that cabinet. It had bitten into the uncooked rice and chocolates. Chocolates! If I had known that earlier, the war would have escalated sooner. That cabinet is the only one with a hole in it. I moved all my canned and glass goods into that space and all other food moved into a cabinet with no entry points.

I think I have been successful.

Living this lifestyle presents unique challenges. I have to consider things I would not usually think about. It allows me to be creative in a thought-provoking way. It gives me a chance to meet up and win a challenge with a determined yet cute desert rat.

Today I am thankful that I was able to catch and release this little rat instead of killing it. Today I am thankful the rat is gone.

Another Year

Fall represents a time of coming in. The harvests are in and hopefully, people are celebrating a bounty. The daylight hours shorten. It is a time of coming in, physically inside, inside the heart, inside the mind.

When October arrives I begin to brace myself for the journey through Jim’s birthday, October tenth. Jim (my husband) died in October 2012. The day before his birthday was his last hospital admission. Then my birthday arrives, October sixteenth. October seventeenth in the early evening hours, my husband of twenty-one years died. On November seventeenth we took his ashes to sea on a glorious San Diego morning.

Each year I wonder what this period of time will look like. Will I want to be with others? Will I want to be alone? Will I celebrate my birthday? It took me two years after his death to celebrate my sixtieth birthday. Will I be sad or grateful for this time in my life?

This year I found myself wanting to be alone and settle with my heart. It was a quiet day on Whidbey Island, where I was house sitting. I decided I really did not want to take phone calls. I was in a good and quiet place and I wanted to savor that time and the contentment I felt.

I still have a small amount of Jim’s ashes, ready to be given to the Rocky Mountains, when I get there. Three weeks before my house sitting gig was finished on Whidbey Island, I took two teaspoons of the ashes to Callahan Firehouse Glass in the town of Langley and had a memorial pendant made. I did not want a pendant for my neck, I wanted something larger so he could ride on the mirror in my rig. I gave them my order and told the artist to be creative.

Just before I left Langley I picked up the pendant. The woman who creates this artwork was at the store to give me the pendant. She told me that she does ceremonies around each pendant she creates. She spoke with Jim while blowing the glass. And remembered the stories I had told to the woman who had taken my order.

The pendant is beautiful. The blues in it match his eyes(light blue) and his Modern Morgan Kilt(darker blue). The white that sparkles through are his ashes. Now Jim gets to see my world. When the sun hits it just right there is a diamond flare of light that hits the bottom or top of the glass. I think it is Jim winking at me.

This feels like another step in the continuation of moving forward and embracing my life. This year there was a settling in, a feeling of comfort within myself that has not been there since he left.

And, speaking of Jim…Today is Giving Tuesday. When Jim died, with the help of Grossmont College where he worked most of his adult life, I created a scholarship in his name, the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. These scholarships help students afford to attend college and create careers for themselves. I have met a few of the students and each semester the college sends me a letter that the student who was awarded the scholarship writes. When I read these essays it gives me hope for the future no matter what the age of the student

If you would like to donate to Jim’s Scholarship today or any time please do so. Here is the link to the Change Makers site. Change Makers are students that achieve if supported. If you donate today the scholarship will receive double the amount of your donation. I already did my yearly donation earlier in the day. In the memo section type in Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship so that the donation will be directed to the appropriate area. It is a good time to donate. Remember that tax season is right around the corner.

I am feeling grateful for another year. I am glad that I allow myself to adventure into my feelings, good or bad. Each year I see my own growth and am thankful. I am thankful for the time I had with Jim. I am thankful that I am still here and growing. Today is a good day.

A Week in Phoenix

Phoenix

I don’t like big cities. There is too much traffic and often there is a lack of courtesy for other vehicles on the highways. I avoid these large cities when I can. I can only endure the busyness for a length of time before I need to disappear into my little home on wheels and shut the door.

A week ago I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. With a population of 1,660,272, Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States. It can take over an hour to drive from the west side to the east side. There are freeways and highways going in all kinds of directions. It is busy.

I began to fuss about going there on my drive south from Washington. I think I may have even whined a little. Sometimes I am my own worse enemy. 

Why was I going to Phoenix? 

  • While I was house sitting in Washington State, I learned that the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. It was going to be in Seattle. I delayed buying tickets. When I finally got around to buying a ticket, they were sold out. Where else could I see it? It was going to be in Phoenix, Scottsdale to be precise. 
  • I have a good friend, Yvonne, that lives in Goodyear (the West side of Phoenix). I gave her a call asked her if she would be interested in going to the exhibit. Yes. I began to plan a visit to the big city. 
  • After the above plan was put into action I discovered another good friend, Leslie, from Anchorage, AK was in the lower forty-eight. After visiting in San Diego she was going to Phoenix to visit family. After a short discussion I decided to come into the area a few days early so I could meet up with her before she flew home.
  • My friend Mary lives with her menagerie, 2 cats and a dog in Apache Junction (the East side). It has been four years since we have seen each other. Another planned visit took shape. 

Phoenix was not as bad as my fussing about it was. It is a big city, sitting in one of the richest deserts in the world. If you get tired of the rushing and moving about, in twenty minutes to a half-hour you can be in the desert, kayaking on a lake, or hiking into the mountains. When things get too rushed one can disappear into nature and breathe. This is a very good feature of this large metropolis.

My two night stay in Cave Creek

Upon my arrival to the greater Phoenix area, thanks to Boondockers Welcome, I found a lovely driveway to camp in for two nights. I pay an annual fee to this organization. It allows me to contact hosts wherever I might be traveling and stay in their driveway or back yard for a few nights before I move on. I have had good experiences wherever I have stayed. My first two nights were not disappointing. I stayed at Cave Creek Botanicals. Joni and Bill were the hosts. Their yard was lovely. It was a mix of cactus and sculptures. Joni is an artist and one can see her artwork throughout the yard. On my last morning, I sat and had coffee with them on the front porch. I now have places to stay in Nevada and Alaska.

Cave Creek put me in a good location to meet up with Leslie the following morning in Scottsdale. It has been several years since we have seen each other. We spent half of a day together and I feel that we barely had begun before it was over. A small amount of time, if done right, can be just as valuable and treasured as weeks together. I am glad for this brief meetup with Leslie.

Yvonne lives in Goodyear on the west side of the city. She lives in one of the many fifty-five and up communities that are spread throughout Phoenix. She has lived there for about a year. twelve or more of her relatives also live in the metro area. When one has a choice between North Dakota or the desert Southwest in the winter many choose the warmer climes of Arizona. I got to meet some of her extended family. I also got a personal tour of Pebble Creek. She was an excellent tour guide.

One day we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were so lovely. They have been there since the 1930s. It always amazes me to see the diversity of plant life in an arid and warm environment. We strolled through the gardens in the morning ending at the Butterfly Pavilion. Oh, those butterflies!

The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit was amazing. If you get a chance and it is anywhere near you…Go! It was interesting and beautiful. The music enhanced the exhibit. I stood in a room full of color and Van Gogh paintings. They swirled around me and reflected off the floor. It was definitely worth a visit to the city.

Next stop, Apache Junction on the east side. Another Boondockers welcome host awaited my arrival, just a few miles from my friend. Mary lives within view of the Superstition Mountains. These are rugged desert mountains. When you go into them there are many canyons one could disappear in and never return. There were lakes and hiking and biking trails. It was fun to be with another adventurous soul. It had been four years since Mary and I met while traveling in our Roadtreks in Southern New Mexico. We have remained in touch. Meeting up with her was just like yesterday. And…she has cats!!

Buddy
Boo

After a morning in the mountains, we returned to Mary’s home, picked up Roxie the dog, and drove to the Salt River, a favorite place of Mary’s. The day was perfect. The temperature was just right and the sky was an amazing blue. And there, just as we got to the river, were a band of the Salt River Wild Mustangs. Did you know I love horses? Oh my, I love horses. I really love the wild ones. I have always wanted to own a mustang. These horses were eating eelgrass growing in the river. This was a perfect ending to my week in Phoenix.

Everywhere I have traveled and explored has been unique and interesting and, well, different. My week of adventure in a big city reminded me that there is something the city has to offer the intrepid traveler. I love art and museums and culture that can only be found in larger populated areas. Like most large cities Nature is not too far away. It can be in a Botanical Garden or in the rugged terrain that often surrounds these larger metropolitan areas.

Phoenix was not as bad as I had imagined. I am glad I went. I am very glad for a visit with such good friends and enjoyed what this metropolitan area had to offer.

Today I am thankful for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, just a little to enjoy my week in Phoenix and connect with good friends.

On to San Diego. Oh Lord, another big city.

 

Getting Ready-Heading South

After so many months it seems a bit strange to say I am “getting ready to roll”. Yes, the owners are returning to their lovely home on Whidbey Island. My time is up and I am heading south. I am ready for a bit less rain and warmer temperatures. It has been raining a lot lately. One week it rained for almost a whole week straight before the blessed sun returned to the sky and everything dried out.

I have enjoyed my stationary time. Well mostly stationary. I have made a few excursions to the Oregon coast to meet up with friends. After a week away I returned to Whidbey and the house. I also have been to the Olympic Peninsula twice. I love exploring our national parks.

I have lived full time, well mostly, in my tiny RV for more than five years. Staying in one place has been a new experience for me. I have had plenty of time to explore. I have experienced the changing of seasons in the Pacific Northwest. I arrived at the beginning of spring and am leaving halfway through the fall.

For the first time in years, I have experienced changing of the seasons. It started rainy and blustery. As the spring progressed the rain stopped and everything came alive. I discovered when the rain stops in the spring everything greens up and flower season begins. After living in southern California for almost thirty years I thrived on the green here. There are so many tall trees. Walking in the woods smells wonderful. It really helps when that walk often ends at a beach.

This year I got to watch the progression of flower seasons. When I first arrived Daffodils and Tulips were everywhere. I was able to meet up with a good friend and enjoy tulip season in the Skagit Valley. It was breathtaking.

Tulip season folded into Rhododendron season. There was color everywhere. I discover private and public gardens to explore on my walks and bike rides. The east coast lilacs I grew up with competed for attention with the Rhodies. I love lilacs and it was a joy to have them in vases in the house. I would walk downstairs in the morning and smell the lilacs as I entered the living space. What a wonderful smell.

As the season rolled into summer the flowers faded, replaced by green, sunny, warm days. I got my fair share of kayaking, walking, and cycling in. Except for a few days, the temperatures were mild. It was good to be outside.

The flowers made a reappearance this fall when the Dahlias stepped forward to fill the flower void. Oh my, there were dahlias everywhere. They were on display at roadside stands, farms, yards, and even my front yard. I love dahlias. 

I have also seen a progression of birds as the season’s change. Hummingbirds were here and then they were gone, while they raised their young, and then they reappeared. Recently the crows who have been around all summer have disappeared. Where have they gone? I have seen eagles, osprey, sparrows (golden-crowned, song, white-crowned), finches, and flickers. My joy this summer was seeing Harlequin and Pintail Ducks for the first time. I have treasured the birds and the time I have to enjoy them. 

And then, of course, there is my special little brown birdy, who has made me feel so important, special, and unique. I see him every few days. He always acknowledges me. I enjoyed the times that he seems particularly thrilled to see me, flying over to visit and sitting on my foot or leg. I will miss him. I also know he is OK out there in his birdy world. 

I have made friends on Whidbey. One of them, Lela is going to join me for part of the trek south. She owns a Roadtrek RV as well. My neighbors, Robyn and Tom have been such a great resource and a delight. I am glad to have met them. 

All in all, it has been a very good way to spend another Covid summer.

Thank you Jim and Sandy for loaning me your beautiful home with the drop-dead gorgeous sunsets. I will always be grateful for this opportunity. 

Now the days are shorter. It gets dark early in the afternoon and stays dark later in the morning. I find I am longing for the sun and the warmth. It is time to go.

Today I am feeling thankful for the opportunities that present themselves to me. Today I am thankful I can recognize them. Today I am thankful for life.

 

My Mother & the Crows

October fourteenth would have been my mother’s one hundred and tenth birthday. It is hard to believe that she has been gone for thirty years. That is a long time to not have my mother here.

My mother was an amazing woman. She traveled as a single woman when it was not a common thing for an unattached woman to do. My father and she married in their late thirties. I was born, the youngest of three when she was forty-two. She managed a household of three daughters, three grandparents, my dad and numerous cats and fish. She was a “Stay at Home Mom” before the term was popular. She worked hard. She always had time for all of us. Her faith was important to her as was the several gardens she maintained. She was a kind, compassionate and fun mother.

My mom died shortly after Labor Day in her eightieth year. When I was visiting the summer before her death, she mentioned to me that the “Spirit Babies” were in the backyard. When I questioned her further, I learned there was a family of crows that she had been watching grow through the spring and into the summer. She had named them the Spirit Babies.

A few years prior my sister had given me a small painting of two crows sitting in a grove of aspen. It was called “The Spirits”. According to some Native American traditions and tales, the crow is believed to be the messenger between the seen and unseen worlds. Crow medicine is strong medicine.

Shortly after Labor Day, my mother died after a long illness. I wrote a letter to her and included one of the crow feathers from the backyard with the letter. I tucked it in her casket.

My mother was buried in northern New Jersey. As we were preparing for the drive north from Delaware, I noticed my father had laid a crow feather on top of his overcoat, lying in the back seat of the car. I asked him what he was going to do with the feather. He said he wasn’t sure, so I suggested that he put it on her casket at the graveside. And so it was.

After the graveside service, we went to lunch with friends and family. Before my sisters and my dad and I headed to “The Lake”, my dad wanted to return to the cemetery. I drove with him. When we arrived we got out of the car. There were a dozen or more crows in the trees over my mother’s grave. As we stood there the crows lifted up in the air and flew. I was in awe. My father was too. I believe this was my mother’s farewell. I like to believe that she is now one of those messengers.

Since that time I have met up with my mom on occasion. When I am struggling and I wish she was here so I could talk with her, a crow often shows up. It may sit on a light post or a fence and well, crow. It is comforting to me to feel my mother’s presence. It is comforting to know she is still supporting me.

Do I believe that those who have died can appear in other forms? Does this side of spirituality exist? Over the years I realize that the answer to these questions is not really important. What is important is for me to accept comfort and support and guidance that is offered, no matter what form that may take. If having my mother there in another form is comforting and helps ease my journey through this life, then that is enough.

Today I am thankful for the years I had with my mother. I am grateful for her ongoing presence in my world. Today I am thankful for crows.

Everyday Heros

A hero is a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. People need heroes because heroes save or improve lives by inspiring others. Heroes have the ability to turn others into heroes as well.

A few days ago while I was traveling in Oregon I met Pebble and Dick. They were standing on the jetty in Newport, Oregon bird watching with their spotting scope and binoculars. Dick had all the latest gadgets so he could take iPhone pictures on the scope. They were avid bird watchers. Did I forget to mention that Pebble and Dick were just short of their ninetieth birthday? Pebble had fallen while out birding four years ago and broke both her ankles. Yet here she was standing tall on a cold day. I also noted how they have continued to embrace and change as technology has advanced. Just because one ages, doesn’t mean they have to be stuck in the past. As with anyone they continue to grow and change and learn. 

I used to hike with the Sierra Club while living in San Diego. It was the Wednesday in the Mountains group. Most hikers were retired and moving at a pretty good pace. Paul was close to ninty and was still hiking (most often in the lead) and every year traveled to Mexico to teach ESL to students. 

Another man in this group had hiked the Grand Canyon each decade. When he was reaching his ninetieth birthday he had to cancel his hike because his son was sick and needed someone to help him out. 

Santa Fe, NM-closed sign during Covid

Many years ago I was a regular attendee of Quaker Meeting. Sitting in silent worship and waiting for the voice of God to speak through you was not always an easy task. I started attending Meeting for Worship because of a man I was dating. I stayed a long time after the relationship had disappeared. The quality I admired in most of the attendees was their call to action. They didn’t preach about what needed to be done, they were active in their beliefs. If they felt called to help refugees coming across the southern border, they were helping out. One woman spoke about her experience in Nicaragua sitting with a child whose father was kidnapped by the rebels. They thought the wife and child would be taken too. Someone stayed with the mother and child twenty-four hours a day. If they were taken while people sat with them it would then become an international incident, not just one more disappearance. 

I must not forget the nurses, doctors, firemen, policemen, teachers and other civil servants who put their lives on the line every day to help the rest of us maintain a good and positive life. 

All these people and many of my friends are my heroes. There are so many out in the world who help without being noted in the paper, on the news, or anywhere else. There are many very fine people in this world who through their actions and beliefs change my life and your life for the better. 

These everyday heroes, inspire me to do better, to be kinder, more patient, and loving towards others. 

Today I am thankful that I can recognize the everyday hero when I meet one. Today I am grateful to meet those who inspire me and help me to create good in my life. I am thankful for heroes.

Ferry Riding in the Pacific Northwest

I am waiting in line for the ferry. At least twice a week I can make this statement. This is what happens when one lives in the Northwest and wants to connect to the mainland or to other islands.

Maybe after living here long enough the ferry rides are no event but currently, well I just love the ferries. I like short rides. I like long rides. I love being in the front and once I was in the very back. I was the last vehicle on board.

Ferries are extensions of roads. When the schedule gets off, it affects a lot of people. Once I was on Vancouver Island in Canada and my ferry was canceled. I had to find a different route to get off the Island and get on another ferry to go to another island. It was messy but it worked. I understand after that event, ferries are essential for those who live on the many islands in Washington state and British Columbia.

Why am I waiting for a ferry? Where am I? Where am I going? Twice a week I travel from Whidbey Island to the mainland to see a sports medicine chiropractor. I have issues with my left Achilles and with his help, my heel is slowly improving.

One day my friends, Melissa and Will, and I took the ferry as walk-on’s to Port Townsend for the afternoon. We wandered, had lunch, and then returned late in the day. All that for $4.30. It felt like I was on a mini-vacation.

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

A week ago I took the ferry on my longest ride yet. I went to San Juan Island for a week to visit Pat, a friend, and a fellow photographer. Pat has lived on this island for many years and I feel fortunate to have such a knowledgeable friend and guide. We talked and had fun and took pictures.

We traveled a lot on the island. We hiked to interesting and unusual places. One day we saw Orcas. Every late afternoon we would drive to this gravel road and wait for the foxes to come out. Yes, foxes. There are red foxes on this island and if one is fortunate you will get a chance to see them as they hunt in the fields and ditches. The first night we saw several, I really can’t remember what the count was.

After that first night, we decided to take our dinner and sit in the rig, on the dirt road and wait. There were never as many foxes as that first night. It didn’t seem to matter we were happy with what we saw.

This is the fun of being with another photographer. We share a common interest. Both of us got excited when we saw any moving thing. It didn’t matter how long we sat there and waited. When the next late afternoon would arrive we would look at each other and say “Foxes!”. And off we would go.

Mulkiteo Lighthouse

Now I am back on Whidbey Island and enjoying my short ferry rides to the mainland and back. I find the ferry rides add a bit of adventure and excitement to my day. I have to time my departure from the island to make it on time for my appointment. If I arrive on the mainland side early, I spend time exploring the port town of Mulkiteo. There is a beautiful lighthouse on the “Sound”

My time on Whidbey Island is winding down. I will be heading south at the end of October. I will miss my ferry rides. These are moments to relax, contemplate or read a book. I have learned patience and discovered a bit of joy in the wait.

Today I am grateful to have discovered island living and the fun of riding the ferries.

A view from the stern of the Ferry

The Continuing Saga of the Little Brown Bird

I left Whidbey Island in the middle of June shortly after Sandy and Jim arrived home. The night before I left I introduced them to my little song sparrow. By the end of daylight, it was sitting on Jim’s head and singing. I felt I left this bird in good hands.

Throughout the month that Sandy and Jim were home the relationship with this song sparrow continued. Sandy told me that as the time came closer to them leaving for their next campground hosting job they began to dissociate from him as they were concerned about how he would get along when the house was empty.

Robyn and Tom, the next-door neighbors, said they saw this charmer once about a week after the owners had left for their next hosting job in Yellowstone National Park. Then the bird was on his own.

I returned to Whidbey the first week of August. I arrived late in the afternoon, put my things down, and went out to the deck to see if a little brown sparrow was still about. Sure enough, just like that, there he was, singing and chitting just I like I had never left. I was so happy to see my bird. I felt like I was greeting a good friend.

Things were different between me and this sweet little bird. He no longer sat on my head and was often more comfortable sitting on the post near me and chitting rather than singing. One day I noticed he had only one tail feather. The next day both were gone. I was worried. I researched song sparrows and molting online. Sure enough, he was molting. It took very little time before the new tail feathers appeared and grew. Sparrows and most birds molt twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

His colors are more muted now and not the orangey-brown of springtime. He sings less often. Some days I see him once early in the day and not again. Other days, if I had been out and about I might not see him at all. Two Saturdays ago, my friend Melissa was visiting. He came into the bushes near where we were sitting and chatted to us for quite some time. When I tried to approach him he flew away. Sigh

No Tail Feathers

The next morning I went out on the deck to find him and welcome him for a visit. He was not there. It felt different. He had left. Then I noticed there were no sparrows around at all. The White-Crowned sparrows had disappeared. All the sparrows were gone. The Chickadees, Nut Hatches, Finches, and other birds were there and plentiful but not a sparrow in sight. What had happened?

Do sparrows migrate and where do they go? I put a post on Facebook to the Birders in the Northwest region and discovered sparrows migrate to Texas and southern climates for the winter. I assumed my bird friend was on his way south to stay warm and find plenty of food and maybe a mate.

Five days later he returned along with three other song sparrows. I was still in bed when I heard a familiar song out in the back and there he was along with his buddies. My heart was glad. I was immediately up and down the stairs to welcome him back. He remains a bit more distant. His singing has returned and it was a delight to welcome my sweet little birdy friend back to my Whidbey Island life. I am told that when they molt they disappear into the bushes.

The seasons are beginning to hint at change. I know he must go. I am glad that I have let him be a bird. I have not hand-fed him or encouraged him to be anything else other than a little wild bird who has welcomed me into his circle. One time I found a large dead moth and presented it to him as a gift. I have never seen him so excited. He looked down onto the bench where I had laid it. He snatched it up and disappeared into the brush to enjoy a meal.

I don’t know how long he will be here. I see less and less of him now. Often I will hear him early in the morning. I am immediately up and outside to say hello. Some days he is not here at all. When he does come it is usually early in the day.

I am glad I have had some practice at his not being here. It is a bit hard to admit that I grieved for this little bird when he disappeared for those five days. Next time I hope I will buck it up and wish him well and send him on his way. However, I have to remember if this little bird was human I would feel the grief of loss just like when a friend moves away or stops communicating.

By allowing me into the circle of his life he has become more than just another little brown bird. He has become my friend. I feel blessed to have been chosen by this little bird. I have learned a lot about myself and life through this unique and special friendship. There is an unspoken yet very recognizable responsibility when one becomes friends with another. It is important to nurture these friendships, no matter how long they may be in one’s life. The value of friendship is what makes a being unique and special in my heart.

I have spent a lot of time outside and have had time to observe and breathe nature. Many birds come to the feeders, each one is unique. I have witnessed the change of seasons from early spring into fall. The circle of seasons in the yard is special to be a part of. The birds have gone from their spring glory of color to more muted colors. They sing less now. The hummingbirds disappeared for about two weeks while nurturing their young before they returned to the feeders again. My sparrow has grown from a young bird into full maturity. Often he sings for the joy of it, but it is also a way to get the girls to notice. As these little birds come to the feeders I have allowed them to recognize and trust a safe environment. None of them except one little brown song sparrow allowed me to become more intimately involved in their natural life.

I will treasure this moment of time in my life. This wee little bird crept into my heart and opened it to experience the joy of friendship in this somewhat lonesome time. (Covid) It has been a joyous and welcome respite.

Oh yes, truly, today and every day I am so grateful for moments in time that awaken my heart. Today and all days to come I am thankful and so grateful for this sweet little Song Sparrow who happens to be my friend.