Scholarships, Dinners & Donating to Good Causes

Two nights ago I attended the Chancellor’s Dinner for  Grossmont & Cuyamaca College. I was invited because, with the help of the college, I created the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship after my husband, Jim died six years ago. I am always a bit hesitant to attend these events. This dinner is held annually to thank organizers of the scholarships.

I usually feel a bit awkward and out of place at events such as this, yet I really wanted to go. What did I do to make myself feel a little more at ease? I invited a friend of mine, Yvonne, to attend with me. Yvonne worked at Grossmont College. She is a bit more outgoing than I am and I figure she would know some of the attendees. I am glad I invited her.

It was a lovely evening. We were greeted by a music trio, all students at Grossmont College. It was a delightful blend of jazz and blues. The lead singer had a strong, steady and good voice. The dinner was prepared and served by students of the Culinary Arts Program. It was a delicious if not over-filling meal. It was fun to see all these students show off their talents.

This time of the year is full of memories of Jim and myself. As I introduced myself to people and let them know I was Jim’s wife, people’s hands would rise to their heart and sigh. I am glad when that stopped, I really did not want tears to flow. It was good to know they all remembered him with such warmth. I know he would be embarrassed by this display, I am not. I feel grateful that people remember him with such kindness and warmth. He was a good human being and it is reflected in these spontaneous demonstrative moments.

As I enjoyed an evening at the college with others who care about student achievement, I couldn’t help but feel that creating the scholarship in Jim’s name was definitely the right thing to do. He cared deeply for the students and the staff at the college. I am glad that I followed through on this idea.

At this time of the year I usually give my readers information on how to donate to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This year the west has been inundated with some horrific wildfires. One of the latest is the Camp Fire. It destroyed the town of Paradise. I decided to forgo the scholarship donation request and ask, instead if you would donate what you can to help these people in CA who have lost everything. They will need to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Below are listed some options to donate financially to help these people.

Often we don’t think small amounts of money help, yet they do. Even a small donation may make such a difference. Please reach out if you can and help those in need. This is all we can do for each other and it makes a difference. It makes a difference in your life and in the lives of those that are in need.

Today I am thankful for the kindness of people.

 

 

 

House Sitting Review

Today is Elsie’s and my last day in this beautiful home. We have had a good month. Elsie likes the room to run and I have enjoyed the quiet and beauty of this home. I have learned a few things.

  • I don’t need 2500 square feet to live in. When I first arrived I went from my bedroom to the kitchen. After finally giving myself permission, I expanded my space to the den and sun room. The formal dining room and the master suite were areas that I explored very little, if at all.
  • I like being still. I liked having a place to come home to after appointments and walks.
  • I really like being surrounded by beauty.
  • A good hot shower was a delicious treat for me. The shower in my RV is a bit on the small side.
  • Another treat is having a washer and dryer handy.
  • I enjoyed Therese’s art room. It is light and airy and has really good vibes.
  • As I lay in bed at night it was a delight to hear the coyotes howling in the canyon. I really like coyotes.
  • I like chicken sitting but I would not choose to be an urban farmer. Fresh eggs were a treat to be savored.
  • When the hip bursitis got bad I fell in love with the couch in the den. It was one place I could lay without any pain. It is a magic couch.
  • Sometimes it is good to have someone take care of your home. A week ago one of the drip irrigation pipes broke. I went outside to find water rushing down the driveway. This neighborhood is so quiet, it may have taken a while before anyone noticed this.
  • I like the pool but I am not sure I would like the maintenance and upkeep.
  • I liked having a garden that I could play around in. I love pruning and making a yard look nice.

Here is the beginnings of a list of what I will look for when I am ready to move back into a sticks and bricks type home. The longer I stay in one place the more I begin to long for a sense of permanence. I continue to recognize the longing for community. It is hard to do when one is “on-the-road”.

I am not done with this house quite yet. I move back in for two weeks over Thanksgiving before my house sitting gig is done. It has been a fun and interesting adventure.

Today I vacuum and dust and clean. I want my friends to come home to a happy and well cared for home. I know they will have many tales to tell.

Tomorrow Miss Elsie and I move back into our small house on wheels. We are going to camp on San Diego Bay for a few days before venturing off to visit friends.

Today I am thankful for good friends, lovely homes and my Roadtrek RV.

 

Aging, Limping and Medicine

Aging is not always fun. My body changes shape. Wrinkles show up. Aches and pains are not as easy to get rid of. Words that I still have to get my brain around – hot flashes, menopause, osteopenia, cancer, arthritis, weight gain and more. My latest one is Bursitis.

I limped into San Diego. Yes limped. By the time I arrived here a month ago I had a sore right hip and knee. The IT band felt like it was on fire. Immediately I started the rounds. Chiropractics and laser helped some. Acupuncture was another good alternative. Myofascial Release and Massage also helped trim the pain. Nothing was getting rid of it.

After this past week, continuously being sore in my hip and leg, I decided it was time to visit the Doctor. Off to Kaiser and a meet up with a very nice doctor. After reassuring me that he did not think this was cancer he did several tests, including kinesiology (how cool is that for a western doctor?). I was diagnosed with Bursitis in my hip.

He recommended a cortisone shot into the bursa in my hip. I was hesitant. We spoke of the side effects and the expected outcome. He told me that he was glad to see I was being a strong advocate for my health care and he would do whatever I would consider best. I left with my first cortisone shot ever.

By the time I went to bed last night the pain was essentially gone. Wow!!! It felt good, really good. I got a good nights sleep and today my world looks a little brighter. I have exercises I need to do, probably for the rest of my life. I am OK with that. Most of them are very yoga like. I really enjoy yoga.

His instructions were to ice it, exercise but if it starts to get sore stop that exercise. My chiropractor tells me not to sit so long behind the wheel of my rig and walk around frequently, both good suggestions. I guess I will be back to setting my alarm so I get out of the RV every hour.

Now that the pain is mostly under control, I will now work with all my practitioners to help to heal my bursa. I am not giving up dancing or hiking or walking or cycling. As long as we all understand that then, as a team, we can work on healing my sweet hip.

I have my Masters in Holistic Health Education. I have always been an advocate of a holistic approach to my health. Holism means that I use the best of all worlds of medicine that are available to me. I also believe that it is important to go from least invasive to most invasive, and that was the path I chose when I returned to San Diego.

It is OK to employ western medicine. I mean there is so much out there to help, why wouldn’t one use it? I went to school with so many people that despised anything to do with doctors and hospitals. As a former nurse, and holistic practitioner I had a hard time grasping the concept that western medicine could be so evil and bad. I saw how much it helped so many. Doctors and hospitals are not the enemy and I for one am thankful that I can include this medicine in my holistic approach to my health care.

As I limp a little less into my day today, I am thankful. I am thankful for Dr Ceccilio who encouraged me to be active in my choices. I am thankful for all my healthcare team who can support me in the choices I make. This morning I am thankful for that little shot of cortisone.

Now it is time to go to the storage unit and go to work. Yep, like I said I am not stopping.

Birthdays, Breast Cancer, & This Time of the Year

As October winds down, I am feeling relief. Relief that this month is done.

Every year since I had breast cancer (I was diagnosed February 2010), this month has been a bit hard for me. I don’t like pink, never have and never will. I feel kind support for those who walk for breast cancer, who shout about being a survivor, however I am not one of those people. I have found nothing to be grateful for, for having been through the experience of a breast cancer diagnosis. Mostly I find I have residual anger, residual PTSD, and residual everything surrounding this diagnosis. I am grateful to be alive and I would like to see this event take its place in the far reaches of my memory. As you might tell, I am still working on it.

Each year at this time I worry a little bit. Is my mammogram going to be normal? Will my surgeon and oncologist find anything? Is that weird pain in my hip cancer? Ay Yi Yi Yi.

Jim

Jim, my husband, died from cancer 6 years ago on October 17. Shall I mention that this is the day after my birthday? He went into the hospital the day before his 60th birthday (October 10) and died the day after mine. Well there is something to get through. I have not enjoyed celebrating my birthday in big bang up way. I like to be quiet now and contemplative.

I describe those three and half years between my diagnosis and his death, like a deck of cards. They were thrown up in the air the day of my diagnosis. Just as I was beginning to pick up the cards, boom, the next event happened and the cards flew into the air again. I have been slowly picking up the cards ever since. I still can’t find some of them, ergo, I remain living in my RV and drive to the next destination hoping to find another card. This has been an adventure, a painful process, a lonely one too, times of great fun and exploration and everything in between.

Here is what I am appreciative today.

  • My kind and wonderful friends from all over the world who call, email, text and contact me through social media. When I need someone to talk to, out of the blue one of these friends will call. They have saved my day, my life, my moment more often than I acknowledge.
  • I am financially comfortable. I could buy a cute and fancy RV and move in. I can afford the repairs (they don’t come often), the gas and everything that supports this nomadic lifestyle.
  • I am alive and able to go on grand adventures, both small and large.
  • Elsie the cat-what would I do without her? She is one of the most adaptable and loving companions I could have. We are into our fourth year of adventures together. She remains a delight.
  • I am glad to be able to see the sunrises and sunsets. Each day I wake, is another day to be grateful for everything.
  • The doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturist, massage therapist, myofascial release practitioner, and all those other health care workers on the broad holistic spectrum that keep me tuned up and moving.
  • My friends and acquaintances that offer me a bed in their home, whether it is a visit or house sitting. Sometimes I need a respite from my little living space.
  • I appreciate everyone waiting and giving me room to figure out what is next? No-one else is judging me. I need to stop judging and being hard on myself. You know that saying, “It is all about the journey, not the destination”-I still need to learn this.

    Jim & I flying to Baja for a week on a deserted beach.

There are three days left in this month. I don’t count them down anymore. I feel I have made progress in acknowledging this month and not feeling quite as sad or out of sorts. One of my friends asked me this month, how I felt about the “whole Jim thing”. Well there is a loaded question. Each moment of the day the answer could be different. I believe I have come to a softer acceptance of this month, of the events that transpired six years ago and I still miss by dearest and best friend. Jim saw things in me that no one else has ever seen and I will always miss this about his love for me and mine for him.

I bid farewell to October, thankfully doing a bit more than just getting through the month. I embrace and welcome November. I embrace and welcome each day I wake up in the morning and am able to figure out what small adventure I will take myself on that day.

Today I am grateful for all of my friends, acquaintances and all of the followers of my blog,  who send me messages of support and encouragement. Today I am grateful for people.

Cat Naps, Sleeping, & Everything Feline

Whew, I finally got a hold of the computer. It is hard to figure this out when Janet isn’t around. I think of posting but then I see a lizard or a bird flies by and I get distracted. And then there are my frequent naps, after all I am a wild animal and I never know when I might actually need to chase down my next meal. Like that is really going to happen, yet it is good to be prepared.

Did you know that cats are among the top sleepers in the animal kingdom? We have to save up strength to catch our next meal. In the wild that means all sizes of kitties need to rest a lot. However, we are never “off the clock”. Even when I am dozing I am alert to everything around me. If a strange noise wakes me up I am immediately ready to act, even if it is to run and hide. I am really good at that. Us felines sleep about 16 hours a day. I have to be ready to hunt at a moments notice. Where is that can of food?

Janet and I are staying in a really large home. After being in our tiny home, this is pretty amazing. I still sleep a lot, however I also have a huge amount of space to rip and tear. I like to start at one end of the house and run like crazy to the other end. I do that a few times. Then I am ready for another nap.

This house has interesting animals called chickens. They are white and reddish brown, make funny sounds and live in a small area that is penned in. I am not sure what their purpose is, maybe they don’t have one. Janet goes out to see them a few times a day. I try to ignore them because they make funny noises that scare me and they flap around if I get too close.

There is something else about this house I am not sure of. In the backyard is a “pool”. It is a big pit filled with water. What the heck is that for. Janet has gone swimming in it a few times. When she calls me over I blow up my tail and run for the door. What is it about humans and water? No cat in it’s right mind would go swimming in water. Not me, not ever.

There is so much I don’t know or understand about the world.

Even though this house is big and quiet and pretty, I like to stay pretty close to Janet. We are buds. If she is having breakfast in the sun room I sit in there and give myself a bath. When she is watching a movie I lay near her. We may not always say much but we are a team, the perfect friends.

I don’t know how long we are here for. I like being in one place, and I look forward to getting back into my tiny house on wheels and seeing what is around the next corner. There is just so much for me to explore and know. I am glad I have nine lives.

Another Year

Today is my birthday. As I have gotten older, I appear nonchalant about this day, not much ado, just another day. Secretly, inside my heart and mind I want someone to remember, to call, to drop off an unexpected gift, to remember. All of this changed six years ago.

My birthday is October 16, Jim my husband died on October 17. Well there is a heck of a marker for this time of the year. It took two years after my 60th birthday to celebrate my 60 years. How could I choose to remember a milestone when Jim’s death was a much larger milestone and has over shadowed this time of the year. Sometimes I look at October as a month to get through. This year is a bit different and it feels like I might be returning to honoring myself on this day, at least a little bit of me is shining through.

I always had to be careful what I wished for when Jim was around. If I wasn’t careful those wishes would show up on or around my birthday.

  • A four hour horseback ride in the mountains. Please don’t even ask about the trick riding that ensued.
  • Soaring in a Sky Plane above Warner Springs. It was good while I was upright. When they turned it 90 degrees to the ground, I broke out in cold sweats and told the pilot  to turn it back up or I was going to throw up all over the his back. Jim didn’t go on this one.

    A Janet Original

    He had a thing about heights. When I landed he put his had on my back and said “your back is wet”. After I told him the above story I think he was doubly glad that he had not gone up.

  • Water Color lessons. Jim bought me my first five lessons and supplies. I studied with Hannah for over a year. This small gift became a move into something I loved doing until Jim died. I believe I lost my muse.
  • Diamond Earrings. I used to tease him about not having a diamond engagement ring. Several years later the earrings showed up.
  • Massages for both of us at Esalen Instiute on the Big Sur Coast. What could be better than sitting in a hot tub looking out over the Pacific while waiting for our massages?
  • We both celebrated our birthdays rafting down the Grand Canyon with AZRaft. The river guides baked me a delicious carrot cake in a dutch oven.

I assume you get the idea. How do I find my own way back,  to celebrate this time of the year? Does it matter? Wow there is a loaded question. I believe it matters because I have now lived a full 66 years. In a human life span, I believe that this is worth noting. Not everyone makes it that far. Jim didn’t.

Continuing with the theme of feeling better around small groups of people, I am going to a movie with a friend of mine later today.

Currently I am sitting on the sun porch enjoying a leisurely breakfast, looking out over the pool. As I look down, here is Miss Elsie the Cat sitting by my leg and watching all the back yard activity. This house is huge, she could be anywhere, yet there she is hanging by my leg. I like to think we are both enjoying a moment of companionship. This alone is a very good birthday moment. I am glad for this little cat who has adapted to a nomadic life.

Today I am finding my way back to being grateful to be alive. Today I am thankful for Miss Elsie the Cat. Today I am thankful for all my friends and social media friends who have taken a moment out of their day to wish me a happy day today. Today I am thankful that I am still here. Today I am thankful.

 

Friends & Urban Farming

I have been in San Diego for a week. My re-entry to this community is usually a bit hard. I don’t think it is the memories. I feel it has more to do with me trying to decide if this is still my home.

Last winter I rented a studio at the beach for 3 months. It was delightful to be near the beach, yet I found I was lonely. When one disappears from their friends for a long period of time, well they move on and in some ways so do I. I wondered how I would feel coming back this fall.

My month long home

Things are different this time. For the first month I am here I am house sitting for good friends in a large, beautiful home that has a feel of a retreat in the middle of a busy city. Both Elsie and I are enjoying the space. There are ample opportunities to sit outside, by the pool, looking over the canyon and a cozy, protected side deck and yard.

Having this space has offered me the opportunity to invite friends over and enjoy their company. Many of my friends are curious about my current home, so they arrive in ones or twos to visit, catch up and take a look around. And, because the house comes with six laying hens, people can go home with fresh eggs.

I am learning about chickens. When one stopped laying a few days ago, I was concerned. Like all good techies or techie wanna-be’s, I headed to the internet to read up on why one of the girls is not laying.

  • Did you know that when daylight hours are decreased hens will stop laying? Yep…so I wonder if this is the reason that she has stopped laying. Chickies need 15-16 hours of light to lay eggs. Our daylight hours are decreasing, so this might be a normal event.
  • A chicken needs around 20 grams of protein to lay an egg. In addition to protein, chickens need: calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, fat and water.  A chicken also needs a lot of protein to grow feathers; feathers are approximately 80% protein. So a chicken only has enough protein to either lay eggs or moult, it doesn’t have enough protein to do them both at once.
  • Too many goodies-table scraps and such may also cause them to stop laying because they are not getting the nutrition they need from their main food source. OK I admit it, I have been table scrapping them. This stopped yesterday.
  • If they are dehydrated they will also stop laying. Chickens will drink around three times as much water by weight as they will eat. I don’t think that is a worry as I change their water every other or third day.
  • Are their nesting boxes clean? They don’t like them damp or dirty. Guess what I am doing this afternoon?

Now, you too may know more than you ever needed to know about the urban chicken craze. I had two pet chickens when I was growing up. I am enjoying being around them again. They are funny and personable.

I am house sitting for a month and then plan to camp and visit other friends for about 10 days and then return to chicken farming for another couple of weeks. It has certainly upped my game. I am relaxed and sleeping in and am enjoying exploring my new neighborhood. It is a beautiful area. For those who know the city I am in Tierra Santa and some of the trail heads to Mission Trails Regional Park are a mile away. Sweet.

I am enjoying seeing all my friends, a little bit at a time. I still do better in small groups. Large crowds continue to overwhelming to me. For all my San Diego friends. I am back and I plan to stay until January 2019. Please give me a call or email or text. I love this time of the year because I catch up with all of those who have been part of my social community for almost thirty years. I love all of you.

Today I am grateful for friends near and far. Today I am grateful for this lovely home and retreat. Today I am grateful for chickens. Today I am grateful.