Greeting Card Passion

Ever since I was a young girl, I have loved greeting cards. There is nothing better than walking through a Hallmark store or other specialty stores that have unique and wonderful cards to look at and touch.

As I grew into adult-hood I became card hoarder. I would buy cards believing that a special occasion would come along and I would have the perfect card. The occasion would arrive and I would decide I needed to buy a different card. I was too attached to the original one to let it go. Was the person special enough? Was the occasion the right one for that card? What if I found a more perfect card?

I continued to collect greeting cards from all over the world. I had boxes full of them. They were all so pretty and special. Some were funny , others were mushy (a little), some were ponder-some. The photos were breath taking.  I loved to find the ones that showed the wilderness or our National Parks. I love cards. Small ones, large ones, all sizes and types.

When I moved from my home I gave many of the cards away. I did keep some and found them the other day in my storage locker. It was a joy to meet up with old friends.

My Hand-made Christmas Card

This holiday season I received a hand made card from a good friend. I hope she knows how much it thrilled me to receive this card. It is now sitting on my front visor so I can see it when I get in the rig to drive somewhere. It and Beth continue to make me smile.

 

Along came the world wide web. I slowly stopped sending cards opting for e-cards on the free or almost free web sites. Jacquie Lawson is my favorite. I love receiving and sending these cards. There are many other sites and when I get a little blue I will peruse these sites, enjoying the novelty of animation and the beauty of the card. I even got one from a friend this Christmas that was an animated Santa who knew my name and talked to me like I was right there.

A few days ago I was meandering through Target while my Roadtrek was being worked on and I came across the card aisles. The pleasure of seeing paper cards has not decreased. I love to hold them and read them and enjoy a moment with this simple pleasure. Sometimes I just enjoy looking up and down the aisles and see the plethora of cards in front of me. What a simple delight.

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I have become practical living this small home lifestyle. I read on my Kindle app or through the library, I watch Netflix on my Apple TV or my computer and I send cards on line. I am content, yet there is this wee little part of me that looks forward to the day when I can once again go out and buy a paper card. It will be good to be able to pick the perfect card for the perfect person. Until that time though I will meander down those store aisles and enjoy the beauty of all those cards.

Now don’t get me started on pens.

Plans & A Change of Plans

I am getting ready to become mobile in my Roadtrek with Elsie the Cat. Around this time I start to get questions from  others: What are your plans for this year?” “Where are you going next?” I often hesitate because I really don’t know the answer.

I was hoping to go to mainland Mexico with friends for the winter. The rig is ready, diesel fuel supposedly can be found better on the mainland than Baja, Elsie is set (records and shots are up to date), and then…..

I am staying within a day’s drive of San Diego for the next few months. Why? Yes indeed, why, is a very good question to ask.

Returning to San Diego is always an unknown. Can I come in and get back out without anything too caustic happening? This year I limped in and I am walking out, however, I will be back sooner than planned.

Surgery is pending on my thyroid. A pesky little nodule that was found seven years ago, following a bicycle accident, is growing a bit too fast. It is growing a bit too fast for the endocrinologist and my surgeon and me. The biopsies have been benign and the choice of what to do was left to me. Oh great leave a decision up to a Libra (sic).

After weighing all the alternatives, taking into account my history of breast cancer and my favorite surgeon retiring in a year- I decided now is the time. Now is a relative term. Sometime in the next twelve weeks I will get a call from Kaiser giving me a date for surgery.

Although heading for the desert is my goal-I plan to leave on January 8-the desert is going to be a little closer than originally planned. It is time to rediscover the Anza Borrego and the California desert. Palm Springs is on the agenda, too. When I get “the call” I will be a comfortable day’s drive back to San Diego.

So these are the facts yet the truth is, although I made the decision with wise and good input from people I respect, it is still surgery. If I take the time to let this chain of events into my every day consciousness, I am a bit nervous and unsure.

i don’t know the outcome. I don’t know what surgery will be like. I don’t know what recovery will be like. I know I will need to go on medication. What will that be like?

And even more basic questions involve the logistics. Where am I going to stay? How do  I get to day surgery and how do I get home? Where is Jim when I need him? How do I do this on my own? And the list goes on.

Here is what I do know. I want everyone to support me in the most positive way they can. I don’t want to hear any horror stories. You don’t need to share surgical or medical horrors with me. I already know them, remember I used to be a nurse. I don’t need anyone second guessing my doctors or the medical health care system I am a part of (Kaiser).

Please don’t suggest alternatives. You can trust I have researched them. My full medical team includes all of the above doctors mentions and an acupuncturist, a massage therapist and more. Hopefully I have got it covered.

What you can do is to tell me good stories and good outcomes. Give me a call. Divert my attention. Love me a lot or love me a little.. And if you can’t be positive then be silent and wish me well.

Meanwhile it is time to finish up in San Diego and get some hiking in. I need to find a few slot canyons and, hopefully enjoy a bit of warmer weather. It is time for Miss Elsie to roll in the desert dirt and sand. It is time to adventure into the New Year with as much gusto as I can.

Happy New Year and on to new adventures.

Tis the Season

“Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thanks or acknowledgement.”

Christmas is arriving very soon, five days to be precise. I chose, years ago to forgo giving presents to my family. The reaction from my family members was across the board. Some were upset. Others seemed relieved. I got tired of sending gift cards to people because I did not know what they wanted.

No gift giving has giving me a freedom to enjoy the holidays a bit more. I don’t have to try to find a place to park at the mall. I don’t have to deal with tired children and weary parents. I am content to stay away from the craziness this season often causes in all of us. It has allowed me some simpler pleasures.

This year for the first time since Jim died I decorated my little home on wheels. It makes it feel warm and cozy. I feel like I have taken a step forward in the “who I am now” process. I did not go all out but a few small battery run tiny trees with lights and lights around my kitchen window have made me feel like I am celebrating grandly.

Recently I read an article about a little boy being told the truth about Santa. The sentence at the top of this post, is what stuck in my head regarding how the father explained to his son what Santa really means. I like to think I can be Santa Claus all year long. I like the idea of giving for the sake of giving. Instead of doing it now I like to give when I find the perfect little item or card. I hope people enjoy the fact that I think of them and care for them all the time. Sometimes giving means that I hand my spare change or few dollars to the homeless. Giving from the heart, in the moment, is the true freedom of giving without expectation.

I treasure phone  calls from friends and family or when someone sends me an e-mail. It is personal and makes me feel special. Often phone calls come just when I need them. This coming year I would like to commit myself to calling my friends and family more often. They feel cared about and I feel less alone. It may even deepen our relationship. How much fun would that be.

As the season comes to a culmination I am celebrating in my own way, enjoying dinners with friends, wandering the San Diego Zoo during Jungle Nights, attending the Nutcracker, and even watching a live performance of La Traviata from the New York Met at a nearby movie theater with a friend. It is varied and such a lovely way to catch up with friends.

My birth family is approximately 3000 miles away. This year I will have to wave at them across the miles, enjoy their phone calls and watch for their posts on Facebook. Often this is how my family and I have celebrated many Christmases since I headed west in my mid-twenties. Ah this is the price of the adventurer in the family. Although I miss them, I have no regrets about exploring this huge and grand country and stretching my wings.

Christmas this year is in the home stretch. Hopefully most gifts are obtained and wrapped and ready to go. Dinners are planned and celebrations are near the grand finale. I know that I will contemplate a warm and wonderful day with friends. I look forward to enjoying the laughter and joy with Pat and her family. It is good to have good friends. It is even better when good friends are near by and want to include me in their holiday fun.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Whatever you celebrate. Embrace your family and friends and enjoy the day the week.

Miss Elsie says Meow.

 

 

 

 

Assumptions

Lately I have become aware of the common assumptions many of us make. As an example, “I didn’t invite you because I didn’t think you would be interested”. This is a very common one, one that, I am so sure, I have made many times over the years, without considering what I have done. Why we make assumptions about others appears to be a very human condition. Is it a good idea to make these assumptions? I am beginning to think that it is not. It short changes me and it short changes others.

An assumption directed at me, recently,  is that Christmas and the holiday season is not a big deal to me. When Jim was alive we usually spent the Christmas holiday with his family. I enjoyed the company and fun day we all had together. It was good to be with family and friends. I love gatherings.

Since Jim’s death I have been wading around in uncharted territories. I don’t know what to do with myself. I mean, I would love to spend the holiday with others, however,  it is a time for family and often family forgets that there are those of us who are single and alone. I find myself hesitant to invite myself to other’s homes. I don’t want them to think they have to say yes. It becomes a trap for both sides. Instead I buck it up for another year, find things to do to keep myself occupied and move on.

Our society has become more and more insular. As it has become so, many people, such as myself, are trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. I find the holidays to be a lonely time for me. My family is 3000 miles away. Friends who are involved with their church or others are busy and often don’t remember to include solo friends in their plans. Do I let everyone know I am sad, or I have no-one to celebrate with or do I buck up and tell everyone that the holidays are no big deal to me? It is a conundrum. I don’t feel comfortable with either statement

Jim and I loved to include others. We invited our single friends to go on vacation with us. Our hosted dinners were an inclusive affair, everyone was invited. You didn’t have to be a member of a certain group of people. Singles and couples were invited. I know I tried my best to include everyone. I love my friends in all their forms, single, married, living alone, living with others. I find it easier to be inclusive than exclusive. It sure makes for a more animated and fun event when others get together.

Before I met Jim I was single for my whole adult life. I was also working as a nurse. I often would work the holiday shifts, money was good, and it allowed others with family to have the time off to enjoy their holiday. If I wasn’t working I went back east to my family’s for the holidays. Now I am many years older and still trying to figure it out.

I love adding events to my calendar. So far there are two and I look forward to both of these parties with anticipation and joy. I have decided to go see the Nutcracker. I know it is a bit of a cliché but I love the ballet. I would have gone to the Nutcracker with Jim, but he was somewhat of a bah humbug when it came to this holiday. I believe I need to find the events that speak to me and take action on them.

Today I left my house and chicken sitting job for the last time. Elsie and I have moved in and are in east county San Diego, to camp and enjoy some time at Santee Lakes. I will remain there through the holidays. I am looking forward to being back in my small home on wheels. I am gradually looking forward to the Christmas season. I may stumble my way through it ,yet, I will seek out those moments of joy and fun.

And, for the coming year I am going to attempt to be aware of the assumptions I make regarding myself and others. I would like to stop assuming. If I want to include others in my adventures, I will out right ask them to come along. If they say no, I will try to remember it is not personal. Sometimes others may have other things to do or they just aren’t interested. And, just maybe, when I invite others along, one of them may say yes. Oh what fun will ensue.

Working my way into December. Feeling thankful.

 

 

New Friends

Last week I spent six days with friend of mine, Mary and her dog, Shay in Idyllwild CA. Idyllwild is in the mountains approximately one and a half hours north and east of San Diego. It is a delightful small mountain town that relies on tourism and second homes. Mary gets to enjoy this town as her first home.

Jim, my husband, was first the Director of Admissions and Records and then the Dean of Counseling at Grossmont Community College, in San Diego County. He had many people working under him. More than half of them were women. I heard many stories about these colleagues of his over the twenty one years we were married.

After his death, six years ago, several of these women stepped forward to support me in this life change. We went to dinner. We went to the movies. We walked on the beach. We talked, a lot. Over time, as expected, many of these friendships have faded. There are a few that remain and continue to deepen over time. I am grateful for these few.

Mary & Janet-finished the raise bed garden

Mary is one of those friendships that started while Jim was still living. Since his death we have met up several times. Over the past few years we have become closer friends. I enjoy spending time with her. We walk, we talk and mostly we enjoy each other’s company. Mary inspires me with her political and social activism. She inspires me with her can do attitude. There is a comfort level between the two of us that is often found in much more mature friendships than ours. In the six days Elsie and I spent with her we did projects (put together a composter, built a raised bed garden, stained boards for her new deck) and boy did we talk. When stupid accidents happened (I am the queen of these), we laughed, cleaned it up and moved on.

I am so thankful for our growing friendship. It is important to me. I like friendships that show promise of deepening and strengthening. I like friendships that make me laugh and encourage me to grow and become more.

Yvonne is another woman I initially met through the college. She and I are tour guides in San Diego. Since Jim’s death Yvonne and I have found time to do “stuff” together. We explore pubs together. There is nothing better than sharing a beer and catching up with a good friend. When I am on the road the phone will ring and there is Yvonne calling to catch up. I appreciate these calls when I am alone out there in the world. Each one means so much. For that moment in time I feel a little less alone. It reminds me I am part of something greater than myself. It is a good reminder.

Today I am thankful for Mary and Yvonne. Today I am thankful for my family of friends.

 

 

Shay the Dog vs Elsie the Cat

Hi I am Shay the Dog. I wanted to get my two sense in first. I live with my human, Mary in the mountains. It is really pretty here. I love to chase deer. Several days ago this other human, Janet showed up. She is really nice. I like her a lot. I put my paw on her arm and leg and ask kindly for affection. She gives me rubs and pats and talks really nice to me.

There is an issue with the above situation. Janet showed up with a little kitty named Elsie. I immediately knew that I did not like having her in my house. She lived in the front bedroom while she was here and I couldn’t get to her because the door was closed. I tried to break in the sliding glass door without success. I tried to jump up and down so I could see her in the front window. That didn’t work either.

And here is the real truth of the matter. I am afraid of that little 6 pound kitty. I am glad they are leaving soon. I like Janet but Elsie can just leave. I don’t want her in my house.


Hi, this is Elsie the Cat. Shay the dog is a pain. He barks and paws at the doors. He think he can get to me. Well bring it on. I may be small but I am mighty. I blow myself up big and dance towards the door. I just dare him to get to me.

Jeez I don’t why Janet keeps introducing me to these somewhat awkward situations. I love traveling with her. I like adventure but sometimes other animals are a bit too much. I was scared of Shay because he is big, and, then I heard Mary say he is really scared of me. Ha, Bring him on.

Tomorrow we return to the chicken house. I will take chickens over a noisy, scaredy dog. What a life I lead.

Arf Arf, 🐕 Meow Hiss. 🐈😼

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.