End of Chemotherapy-Yay

 

This will not be a long post but….I wanted to let my followers know that today my great nephew Ward got to ring the bell. Chemotherapy is done. Yay. Today Ward and his family and friends celebrated the end of this phase of his treatment. There was a party at National Children’s Hospital of Columbus (Ohio) to celebrate this milestone.

 

Ward arrived at the Magic Forest, off the lobby of the hospital, to be greeted by friends and family to celebrate. With the help of his parents he rang the bell and the celebration was on. Cake was eaten, well Ward, I heard, ate enough icing for four adults.

 

 

 

 

Below are photos of family celebrating for Ward in different areas of the country.

Aunt Adrienne

Grandparents and parents

Florida Grandparents

 

Great Uncle Frank

Cousin Quinn

 

Great Aunt Ginny

Now everyone is home and probably tucked in for the night. My sister Ruth and her husband, Joe are there and I am sure everyone is taking a deep breath and letting it out. No more chemo trips to Children’s for them.

Although frequent CT scans are in the future for several years to come, right now Ward can become a toddler. He will have to be careful to stay away from the sick adults and children. He will, however be able to do more and more and become a normal social toddler.

I could not be more proud of my niece and her husband. They function as a loving and caring unit. I am glad they are part of our family.

It was a good day today.

Ward Revisited

Flight 93 National Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am on my way west. I have been traveling west, though Pennsylvania and Ohio for a week. It has been wonderful to meander west without too much hurry. I pushed east last March to arrive in the Columbus area to help my niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip with their son, my great nephew-Ward. On this westward journey, I have the pleasure of stopping and seeing all kinds of interesting places, including my niece and her family, once again.

Ward is still in active treatment for childhood cancer. The good news is, he has one more chemotherapy treatment, next Friday. At the end of that visit he gets to ring the bell at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, marking the end of this phase of his treatment. Whew, I believe we will be happy to see this phase of treatment end.

Dad & Ward

Throughout treatment Ward has remained a rambunctious and active toddler. He will celebrate his second birthday in early June. Since I saw him in March he has grown and his hair has become fairer. He is putting his words together a little more. He remains an absolutely charming young boy.

It has been interesting to revisit with this part of my family again. Brittany and Trip continue to support each other and Ward. I appreciate their honesty in dealing with a most difficult situation.

Next month Ward has surgery to remove his port. Quarterly CT scans will continue to be apart of their life for many years. Now this might sound routine yet I know how much this will create stress, with each scan for years to come. they will hold their breath until the results come back. Ward on the other hand will continue to grow as a strong, young boy should. He will not hold his breath, we will all do that for him.

He has a most loving and supportive family around him. My sister, Ruth and her husband, Joe now live in two states. During the warmer months they will be in Ohio. They have bought a condo in a town near this young family. They are here to babysit and help in whatever way they can. Ward will return to day care and pre-school, part time, in the fall and will return to full time in the New Year. Ruth and Joe will remain in Ohio until he returns to full time. They also have a home in northern Florida and will probably be glad to see it when the snow arrives in their Ohio home.

I am glad this family has welcomed me with such grace and loving, open arms. I know it will be quite a while until I see all my family again. The west is calling and I must go. It helps me to travel and explore knowing I am loved and supported by all of my families. Who are these families that I speak of?

Tomorrow I will leave here and begin first to travel north to the south shore of Lake Erie, visit with a long time friend of mine in northern Indianna, mid-week and then head west.

Today I am feeling especially thankful and grateful for my family and the time I have had to visit with them. Now it is time to continue my adventure-Life.

Getting ready to move on, Miss Elsie and me.

A Sight Seeing Day

Late last week I said a regretful farewell to my sister, packed Miss Elsie and me back into the Roadtrek and began to meander west through northern Pennsylvania. It has been a pretty ride.

I wandered to State College to visit some other Roadtrek people. Mary Jane and Toby were delightful. They gave the whole front of their home to Elsie and me. People are so kind and generous. This was the first time I met them. I was given a wonderful tour of the town and the campus of Penn State. Mary Jane and I spent most of the time talking and enjoying each other’s company.

Today I began to head south and west again. I did not get very far. I became distracted by one of those familiar brown signs on the side of the highway, which usually indicate something of national interest. This time it was a sign that said Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. Well, I just had to see what it was so I exited and took a tour, self guided.

At the top of the incline there was a train barn.

Pennsylvania, it seems was concerned about losing population and business to New York, so they decided to build a canal, east-west, across Pennsylvania. It just so happens that the Allegheny Mountains got in the way, so, if you can’t go around them, then darn it you are going over them. As part of the canal system they built a railroad system of ten inclined planes, five up and five down. They rigged up a fancy pulley system, put the boats on the rail cars and hauled them over the mountains. It was a part of the canal system. With the completion of the Mainline Canal they could move goods and people across the state in five days instead of almost a month.

Skewed Arched Bridge-the trains went through this

Now, I love trains and I had no idea of this history or this site. It was a fascinating morning and worth the stop. I spent time in the visitor center before I hiked to see all the areas that remain of one of the inclined planes. It was well worth the stop.

When I was finished with this tour, I move southwest a little more and visited the Flight 93 National Memorial. Whew-what a touching place. I debated whether I wanted to go there or not and I am glad I chose to go. It was very peaceful and very well done. I along with many others left a little prayer for the spirit of the place. I am glad they have done something like this in our country to remember the events and the people involved of 9/11.

This is the entrance to the visitor center. The black walkway indicates the path of descent of the flight.

A 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center is this wall with the names of the passengers and crew etched into it.

 

 

Now I am camped on a beautiful lake and trying to figure out my day tomorrow. Elsie and I took a walk after we arrived here but she got nervous about the water so I carried her on most of the walk.

I find after I have been visiting with others I enjoy the quiet of the evening alone. It is my regrouping time. I know I need keep moving west. Pennsylvania is another big state and I could spend a lot of time here. Everywhere I go there is so much to see.

Tonight I am grateful for another day on this earth.

Have a Look Around

imagesHave you ever taken a look around this blog?  Depending on whether you have a phone or lap top or computer, the site looks different but all the logistics are there. I know many of you read my blog through Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. With the current issue regarding Facebook and Cambridge Analytics, I know some people are considering pulling out of Facebook. You may want to follow this blog another way.

There is another way to read and follow my blog. If you are on a computer or laptop or a tablet (iPad), on the left hand side of the screen, and you scroll under the picture of my Roadtrek, you will find a message that either says that you can follow this blog or that you are already following it. If you click on this it will lead you to a form to sign up to follow the blog. With each new post you will receive an e-mail informing you that there is a new post. There is no advertisement, no signing in. All you need to do is give an e-mail so you can receive a notification.

Next down the left side is a photo of my website. After five months of preparation my photography web site went live about four months ago. If you click on this picture it will take you to my web site, jarnoldarts.com. You can explore and enjoy the photos. All photos are for sale.

The green Go Fund Me is a way that you can contribute to the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship was set up shortly after my husband, Jim, died of cancer. He was involved with the Community College system in California for 25 years. His belief in higher education never wavered. He supported the college and the students one hundred percent. The scholarship is now perpetual, yet, donations are always gratefully received.

As most of you know my great nephew, Ward is dealing with cancer treatment. He is almost two years old. He has one month of chemotherapy to go. Caring Bridge is a web site where you can follow Ward’s story. It has been helpful for his parents not to have to tell his story over and over again. You can leave messages of support.

Underneath this information are books that I have read that I really love and yes if you contact me I will add others. Some of the websites that I follow and are important to me are underneath the book dropdown list. You may want to check some of these out. They are varied and interesting.

The Archives finish this left side. If you click on them you can read past posts. These date back to July 2013 when this blog was first started.

There it is. Take some time to explore. It is always good to pause and read more than the post on many blogs. I enjoy exploring the blogs I follow. There are often little tidbits on these sites that I find interesting. I get to know the person a little bit. I enjoy the photos and it helps draw me back to read more.

 

Catching Up


This morning I realized that it has been a while, 3 weeks since I last posted. Oh my goodness where does the time go? Where does my discipline go?

I have been on the move. I left my niece’s home at the end of the third week of March. All the grandparents descended on Ohio and it was time for me to give them room. Room to love their grandson and their children.

I had some time to visit with my sister, Ruth. We haven’t seen each other in a few years. It was nice to have the time to spend with her and her husband, Joe.

Ward is doing well. His first three month CT scan came back clean. Yes!!! All of us are breathing a sigh of relief. He will continue with frequent scans until he is three. I wonder if we will need to breath a sigh of relief after each one.

After leaving Ohio, I headed south. It was cold up north and snow was expected. I wandered my way through the New River country in southern West Virginia. It was day of beautiful waterfalls and water. I rolled through close mountains and gorges until I crossed the border of Virginia. All of a sudden the vistas opened up and I moved into rolling country.

Afrter spending a few days in Charlottesville I drove to North Beach, MD. I spent a few days with a long time good friend, Joy. We have been friends since high school. The two of us drove to Raleigh, NC to spend Easter with her family.

Best Buds

The thing you must remember is that I am now on the east coast. The states back here are close together, especially when you look at them from north to south. It is not like California here. It does not take two days to drive through one state. In six hours Joy and I went from Maryland to Virginia to North Carolina.

Whirligigs

My Easter was marvelous. I have not seen Joy’s sister since high school. Dee and her husband, Ken were delightful. They were the perfects hosts. We biked the greenway twice while we were there. It is pretty cool to accesss a paved bike system from you house. It was really nice. They toured us around Raleigh. We spent a part of day in the town of Wilson, where we met the mayor while we toured Whiligig Park.

The best fun was all the laughing and talking. We dyed Easter eggs. All of us pitched in to make a delicious Easter supper. It has been a long time since I have been part of a family for a holiday and this one was delightful. I would return again.

 

I left Raleigh two days ago. I am driving north to New Jersey to visit with my other sister and her family. I have been waiting for the nor’easters to clear out before I approached this area. And they are still having snow. Go figure.

Currently I am on the Delmarva Peninsula.  I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on a glassy, still day. There was no wind to worry about on the 23 mile drive across the Chesapeake Bay. I have been wandering up the peninsula since. It has been many years since I have been out here and I am enjoying slowing down and enjoying where I am. I took time to visit one of the Nature Conservancy properties and despite the front that was coming in, took a hike through the preserve. I even saw a flock of white ibis. It was a new sighting for me and I was excited.

Last night I spent until sunset on Assategue Island National Preserve. Although I saw the ponies at a distance, remember Misty of Chincoteague?, my real joy was the birds. Many of the migratory birds are gone yet it was still great to see all the local wildlife. I was going to bike it this morning but it was 37 degrees F. I drove it. The egret rookeries were very entertaining. I also walked the Atlantic for a few miles before I decided I was just too darn cold.

Now I am rolling north and seeing what I can find to entertain myself as I drive. Elsie as always has been a delightful companion. Well mostly, she sleeps a lot. If all goes well I will take the Lewis-Cape May Ferry to New Jersey and maybe be at my sister’s tonight.

Since I left San Diego this trip has been about family. I love the ease of loving and being loved by all my families. I don’t have to struggle with what is correct. All of us just accept each other for what we are. I need easy in my life right now and family, no matter which one, helps me to be at ease in my skin, in my body, in my head and in my life. Family is not just the one we were born in to. It is friends who have been around long enough to feel that ease. I am glad for all my families.

Today I am glad for my life in all it’s imperfect and perfect forms.

 

 

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.