Family

In 1952 I was blessed to be born into a loving, caring and teaching family. For several years our extended family, two grandmothers, and a grandfather lived in our home. I have been thinking of my birth family often this past month.

Since my early twenties, I have been “on my own”, living far from all of them. I have always been a bit of a wanderer and decided early to use my career, as an RN to travel and live in different parts of the United States. After living for three to five years in each place, I would pick a new place, get a job and move.  I settled in southern California. I obtained my Masters in Holistic Health Education, and at the end of five years, just as I was getting ready to move on, I met Jim, my friend, partner, lover and husband and settled into the San Diego region.

Janet & Jim

Jim died in 2012, and in June of 2013, I bought my RV and my life as a nomad began again. The house is now sold and I live in my RV full time. It is small and comfortable and for right now it is home. I have traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada and have embraced this lifestyle to the best of my ability.

Although I have had curiosity and fondness for everywhere I have visited or traveled, I return again and again to the desert southwest and anywhere from the Rocky Mountains and west. I love the wide-open spaces, the quiet, the stillness and the breathtaking moments of awareness.

Enter the Coronavirus and I am in San Diego. I am staying with good friends. I am recovering from treatment for thyroid cancer. Cynthia is recovering from foot surgery. We are all helping each other. I have stayed in touch with my local San Diego friends thanks to Zoom and Facetime. We have been doing driveway meetups, practicing the art of virtual hugs (not as good as the real thing) and sitting at least six feet apart. It has helped to break the isolation that my solo friends are experiencing. I have a strong and good family of friends.


Since I have been sheltering in place, I miss my birth family. Despite our differences, I miss the family I was born into. My sisters live in different places, one in northern New Jersey, and one in Ohio. I know they do not live close but they seem to be in reaching distance of each other. I am not. The three of us have had one Zoom meetup and that has helped. I want to arrange a Zoom meeting with them on an ongoing basis. It is comforting to see them and just sit and chat and listen. My oldest sister and I call back and forth. I look forward to those times when we talk.Families are a big messy affair even if there are only a few siblings. We can argue, we can disagree, we can laugh, share stories, and enjoy moments in time. Even at our worst times, we are still family.

In mid-March, my one niece (in Ohio) gave birth to a beautiful little girl. My NJ sister and I got to meet her, thanks to Zoom. I would love to embrace and hold that little bundle. I would enjoy a hug from family, actually from anyone. My other niece and her daughter, Quinn, live in New Jersey near my oldest sister.

My Ohio niece, Brittany, loves family. She once said to me that if it was up to her she would have a compound of homes and all of her family would live there. She has been instrumental in drawing me back into the lives of my family. I remain grateful to her, for the ability to do this and include all of us.

 

As I sit here on a gray Sunday morning, my friends are downstairs listening to their church service. One of the hymns I heard wafting upstairs was:

“For the Beauty of the Earth”. The third refrain is the one that struck a chord in me at this moment of time. “For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, Friends on earth and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild. Lord of all to thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.”

Today I am thankful for all my family, friends, strangers and acquaintances. Today I am thankful for recognizing the longing to see and talk to my sisters and nieces. I am glad they are all safe and sheltered in place. I am thankful to be able to reach out over the miles and remind myself to be very thankful for a loving and strong birth family.

 

Looking for Acts of Kindness, Faith & Hope

At a time when life has changed and we are all learning to “shelter in place”, I have been looking for the good that continues to reveal itself. I have been looking for hope and faith.

Several times a week I take a walk around the neighborhood, and I find the innate goodness of people all around me. As we walk by each other, at a safe six-foot or more distance, people say hello, give a wave and a smile before we continue. I wonder in our hurried world pre-Covid 19, how many would be taking the time to say hello before moving on.

On my walk yesterday I found a neighborhood art gallery that someone had created next to the sidewalk. It is a unique way to encourage creativity and share it with the neighborhood. All ages are welcome. One simple act helps each of us feel a bit less isolated and alone. It helps foster a sense of community in a neighborhood.

Social Media helps me not feel isolated in this novel time. Facebook has helped me stay in contact with my friends scattered throughout the United States, Canada and further abroad. The Coronavirus posts I look at occasionally, however,  if there is news of family and friends I read it. It is a good reminder that we are all still out there in this big wide world. I am also enjoying all the funny videos and cartoons people are posting. It is good to laugh a little every day.

Via the Nextdoor App, I am reminded of the generosity of others. People can be generous in unique times. If someone makes a plea for hand sanitizer, paper towels or toilet paper, Nextdoor neighbors respond. people are shopping for the elderly. Yesterday someone was looking for a cap and gown to borrow so she could take photos of herself for her canceled graduation from college. Within the first few minutes, she had over six offers. When humans slow down and find themselves in unique situations they exhibit kindness and thoughtfulness that are often forgotten when we are hurriedly moving from one place to another. And…those folks on Nextdoor are still keeping an eye out for the ever-elusive Elsie the cat.

My Great Niece, Arden

Zoom, a meeting app, offers me the opportunity to say hello to my sisters, welcome a new great-niece into the world, take a Scottish Dance class with other dancers from all over the world, practice yoga with one of my favorite yoga teachers, and so much more. Zoom, Facetime and other communication apps, allow my world to remain large.

I do not need to look far for an example of generosity. My friends, Cynthia and Ward have opened their home to me. They have opened their arms and invited me in. I have my own bedroom and a big, real shower. And the view from my bedroom is lovely. We have been getting along well and enjoying each other’s company. It is good to be with others. Even I would grow tired of my own company.

I will continue to search for the unique in this very unique time. I am grateful for continuing signs of faith and hope small and large. I am encouraged by the kindness of strangers and friends. Today I am grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Am I Doing? How Are You Doing?

Give it a week or two, a day or two, an hour or two and all of our lives change. I never would have guessed that I would be in lockdown due to a novel virus. I would never have guessed that I would have to figure out how to self-quarantine in a tiny motorhome. I would have never guessed that I would not have to live alone in my rig. I would have never guessed.

I am doing well. Just days before the Coronavirus became overwhelming, my friend, Cynthia, had elective surgery. Her right foot was operated on and she is non-weight bearing on her right leg for five weeks. I had offered to help her and her husband, Ward with the recovery. I was moved into their home and then the Coronavirus hit. These good and kind friends invited me to stay for as long as need be (or until they are weary of me). So, here I am isolated in a nice home with two good friends. We chat, play games, watch Netflix or Prime and wait it out. When we need alone time we all go to our corners, my bedroom, Ward’s office, and Cynthia is in the downstairs of the house. So far we are making it work with ease.

Fanita Ranch

My rig is in the driveway so I can visit it. It also gives me a wee bit of freedom to find alone time if I need it. I can drive to a view and sit in my rig and enjoy the change. The other day I drove to Santee for a possible Elsie the Cat sighting. The cat did not pan out, however, I had the opportunity to walk out on some open land, Fanita Ranch and enjoy the spring flowers. I was the only one there.

For most of us, we are in an unknown state. As a nation, we are trying to figure it out. We are struggling to do what is right. Doing what is right takes a bit of “moral muscle”. On a beautiful day in San Diego can I really not go to the beach, bay or mountains? Yes! It is hard to stay away from places I love yet, for now, I will remain distant and wait. I will need to continue to ask myself the hard questions about what is right, over what it is I really want to do. Hopefully, the answers will remain the correct ones for each given situation.

I am concerned about my friends who are living single. I am very aware that I have found myself in a fortunate situation. One of my solo friends stated, “I am an introvert, I like to be alone, but I like being able to get out and visit with friends”. What do you other singles do to help with true social isolation? What are the unique things you have found to keep yourself entertained and patient? I reach out with phone calls or texts because this is the best I can do at the moment. This morning I discovered Zoom and was able to visit with one of my single friends where we could see each other and talk.

I have been learning new skills and reactivating old, unused ones. Since Cynthia is non-weight bearing on her right leg, I am the head chef in the house. I have great instructions (Cynthia) and cookbooks to guide me in my cooking. I have not cooked so much in years. And there are so many cool tools to use in this kitchen. I have found that the right tools make the job so much easier. Last night I made broccoli soup. It was delicious. I have cooked chicken a few different ways, created lunches and more. Cynthia helps out where she can. It helps that the freezer is stocked and we can order home delivery for veggies and fruit. Ward and I have figured out how to help each other in the kitchen. It is more fun to cook for others. Cooking for one is often a disappointing affair for me.

I wonder how my friends and others who follow my blog are doing? Please let me know. I hope you are all well and working on thriving in this very odd situation we find ourselves in. Know that I think of all of you, the world and the people within it, often with love and kindness.

Still finding small and large reasons to be thankful.

It has come to my attention, recently that some of you would like to receive notices of new posting on my blog without access to Facebook. All you need to do is scroll to the link on this page titled Follow My Blog (it is underneath the pic of my rig), click on it, and add your email to the link. That way you don’t have to find them on FB and can receive a simple notification via email when a new post is published. If you find this is not easy to do let me know and I can send you an invitation. 

Dollhouses, Kayaks, Moving Forward

An Example of a Queen Ann Style Dollhouse

Years ago, more than I can remember, Jim (my husband) and I decided to build a dollhouse. A good friend of mine had mentioned that she would love to have a Queen Ann style dollhouse. Sharon is someone we both loved. She wanted a dollhouse and so we built her a dollhouse. This was not just a wee dollhouse, it was at least 2-3 feet tall. We shingled, wallpapered, carpeted, painted it and more. It was an adventure we enjoyed together. I don’t remember how long it took us to build. It was months by the time we finished it. It was a labor of love. Every moment we worked on was rewarded by Sharon’s reaction when we presented the finished product to her

Building the first one was so much fun that we decided to build a second one for Jim’s niece. This second house was just as much fun as the first. After it was completed it went home to Chris.

Once the second dollhouse was complete we decided to move onto a much larger adventure. Jim and I had been planning to buy kayaks for some time. It was Jim’s suggestion that we try to build our own. After much research, we narrowed our search to two companies, Pygmy Boats, and Chesapeake Light Craft. Chesapeake Light Craft became our company of choice. Did we want to use their blueprints or build from a kit? What was the difference between the two? The blueprint meant we would have to find the wood, cut it into the shapes we needed and find all the components that were needed to put it together. The kit came with all the wood pieces cut into the shapes we needed. All the screws, nails, rolls of fiberglass, epoxy glue and more were included. We decided on the kit.

We were both working full time. The kayak building was done on weekends and nights. We were busy. Jim was certainly the lead on the building, I was a very active second in command. In approximately six months the first boat was complete. We painted her red and named her Whistling Woman. I was reading a book titled A Whistling Woman is Up to No Good. This book showed women of the ’90s how to express their wildness, describing how they can get in touch with their true natures and express themselves in a sometimes-disapproving society. The first kayak was mine.

It took us six more months to finish the second kayak. We had learned a bit from the first kayak so the second one was easier to put together. It was five pounds lighter. When it was complete it was painted forest green and named Ronin, after one of Jim’s favorite movies. The second one was Jim’s.

After launching them successfully on Mission Bay, in San Diego, our kayaking adventures started. We took classes through Aqua Adventures and an independent boating store. We learned how to capsize our boats, turn them over and re-enter them. Learning to come in through the waves on the ocean was a challenge. It was fun to get wet. Kayaking into a strong wind also presented us with new challenges.

The kayaks were frequently out on the water. Early, Sunday mornings often found us back on Mission Bay. We would kayak until the other boat traffic would get heavy, then retire to a coffee house to enjoy the rest of the morning. As we became more proficient with kayaking, the learning curve is quick, we ventured further afield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took them camping on the lower Colorado River, on the back bay at Newport Beach. When we finally felt brave enough we went camping and kayaking throughout California, making sure to spend time on the lakes and bays. It was fun to combine our love of camping with the joy of kayaking.

After Jim died I continued to kayak. My tactics changed. First I had to figure out how to get my kayak on the roof of the Subaru Outback. Then I had to figure out how to get it off the roof. I got very good at asking others for help. Kayakers are a nice group of people and I never had to search far for assistance.

Three years ago I started my nomadic full-time existence in my Roadtrek RV. I sold my house in Southern California, moved what I wanted to keep into storage, including the kayaks and began my full-time traveling adventure.

I have been thinking of the kayaks often over the past year. I have held onto them for emotional reasons. Jim and I built them. They were a precious reminder of our life together. They were a reminder of this very loving and unique man I married. Over the past year, I decided these kayaks needed to find a loving home, where they would be used and cared for. Keeping kayaks in storage is not the best use for any boat.

October 2019, I decided that I was OK with selling them. I had a few requirements.

  • They need to go to a loving home.
  • They need to be used.
  • I need pictures of them once in a while so I can see they will be enjoyed and loved.
  • They are not to return to a storage unit.

With Elsie’the Cat’s disappearance the kayaks, once again were put on the back burner. Trying to find Elsie was the number one priority. Unfortunately, Elsie is still missing.

Early in March, I decided to proceed with the selling of the kayaks. I spiffed them up, took pictures and after advertising them to friends, I put them up for sale on Craigslist, Nextdoor, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace. The offers started coming in. How was I going to choose? Just as I was preparing to sit down and sort out all the offers, a friend contacted me. He wanted to buy both kayaks and I would get visiting privileges. That, is a sweet deal. They will be going to someone I know. I have no doubt they will be loved and taken care of. Any time I want, I can ask Jon how they are doing. Maybe I will get an occasional picture. And…I have visiting privileges.

On a blustery afternoon in San Diego county, three of us loaded them on the top of Jon’s truck and off they went to their new home. It was hard to see them go, yet I know that it was the right thing to do. They weigh in at 40-45 pounds. I no longer have a car to haul them. They are 16 feet long, making them to long to fit in or on the back of my RV. The bottom line, I want them to be used and not just sitting and waiting to be used. It is the best way to honor them and to honor Jim.

I am content. I can look at this as a sad farewell or another step forward in my life. Maybe I can find a smaller kayak that will fit my needs better (12 feet sounds right to me). Maybe I can manage without one at all. Or maybe I will just decide to build myself another boat. the opportunities are endless as my life moves forward, one step at a time.

 

 

 

 

Updates & Plans

I am now three weeks out from my Radioactive Iodine treatment. It was much harder than I had anticipated, yet I am doing well and recovering on my own timeline. I now have to remind myself it is time to figure out how to get back to normal, whatever that is. Each day I am a little less tired and I begin to think about the future at least a little.

I have been getting questions from friends near and far, regarding how I am doing. Now that February and the first two weeks in March are over, I am realizing that I can begin to consider my future. I still deal with tinnitus but after a visit to my acupuncturist, Gayle the humming is a bit quieter. I appreciate that the birds don’t have to compete for my attention so much.

I am officially not glowing however, the Radioactive Iodine will continue to make it’s way out of my body for eighty days. I can still set off Geiger Counters and alarms at the borders. I have a card I need to carry with me until mid-May that I present if I am stopped anywhere. I will probably set off alarms if I drive into Arizona. I continue to do what I need to do to stay healthy. Drinking a lot of water is still first on the list. Getting enough rest is another.

I still have to wait until early April to have my labs drawn. These labs will tell if I am on the correct dose of Synthroid or whether I need to change it up, again. I will also get a Thyrogen level, which should be close to 0. I have had my full body scan which is normal. Yes!!! If all goes well then I am free to go for hopefully another year.

What is next? Well isn’t that just a loaded question. I have been offered a great opportunity to house-sit for friends on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Seattle for six months. Oooh, what is a girl to do? I am still in the considering phase but each day that I ponder this, I am more and more inclined to accept this offer.

Two years ago, Elsie (the still missing kitty) and I spent a summer in the northwest. I really liked it. I liked the small towns. I liked the people. I liked the access to the water and the mountains as well. I have been considering changing up my travel methods and have begun to plan to stay in places for longer so I can determine where I might want to settle. My first thought was to find a rental in Monterey. I love it there. Then this opportunity arose and well a woman can change her mind.

I started to write this post about a week ago. So much has changed in that time. I am holed up like so many in this country in the safety of my rig. I have wonderful friends in San Diego. Yvonne has kindly offered me her driveway for the past week or so. I sit on the top of a small hill, secure from the world, and have been practicing social isolation in the best of forms. Some mornings, I meet Yvonne in her hot tub. We have been catching up on movies and reality TV. Another day I drove to my friend, Nancy’s house and happily weeded in her front yard for three hours. I have been enjoying quiet and healing time.

Today, I am getting ready to move. My friends, Cynthia and Ward, who have helped me through all things Thyroid Cancer related are welcoming me back to their home. Several years ago I fell while hiking in the desert and broke my right ankle. I had to be off of that leg for seven weeks. I remember how hard it was to adjust to being down one leg, especially for the first few weeks. It would have been so much easier to have someone help me while I got used to my new temporary life. Tomorrow, Cynthia is going to have elective surgery on her foot. She will be non-weight bearing for five weeks. I have offered to help her and her husband out for a few weeks until they have their temporary lifestyle figured out.

This is what friends do for each other. This is all we can do for each other. We can lovingly and supportively help each other out. We can make life easier for ourselves and for others. This is what we do. Practicing kindness and caring is all I can do for myself and others. Even better is allowing myself to accept help and support and put my innate stubbornness on the back burner. So I am off to enjoy my friend’s company and help out the best way I know how. Maybe I will be able to learn a few new crochet stitches (Cynthia is my crochet mentor)  while I enjoy the company of my friends. And…I will continue to give my self the time I need to heal and gain strength.

For those of you who have asked or wondered, I am doing OK. I am grateful for your concern and questions. I am grateful for my friends. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

How I Am Doing, Friendship & More

Last Wednesday I took the Radioactive Iodine pills and immediately went into isolation. Everyone said it was easy. I would have no problems and I would be fine.

Here is what I want you to know. This Has Not Been Easy!!!!! Here is what happens when I have no thyroid hormone in my body. I took the pill at 10:30 a.m. By 4 p.m. I developed a ringing in my ears. It was more like a high pitched squeal. And I bottomed out. I have been exhausted and lacking in energy. But the ears are a big deal.

Finally, on Friday my endocrinologist ordered me back on my meds a day early. Hypothyroidism can create tinnitus (ringing in the ears). My squealy friend is still with me and I am exhausted often.

Sunset Over Mission Bay

I am patiently waiting for the tinnitus to go away. I continue to drink lots and lots of fluids and I push myself to take a short walk every day. Tonight I got far enough to see a beautiful sunset over Mission Bay. That certainly picks up my spirits.

This too shall pass. I am not complaining, I just thought you might like to know how I am doing.

I really can’t complain. I am camped at the end of a culdesac or driveway. It is private and pretty when the afternoon sun shines through my rig. I am slowly getting my taxes together and I finished and mailed in my California ballot. I am getting things done.

My friends, Cynthia and Ward, have gone way beyond being good friends and hosts. They designated a downstairs bathroom to me so I did not have to worry about using my bathroom in the rig for the past 5 days. I often slip through the front door with my key and they don’t even know I am in the house. It has worked out well.

This is a sign of true friendship, really true friendship. I am overwhelmed and grateful for their graciousness and caring for me. They have let me slip into their lives without a second thought, as far as I can tell. I am grateful for friends such as these.

Ward & Cynthia the day we took Jim’s Ashes to Sea

I met Cynthia and Ward through Scottish Country Dancing. I have known Ward since I moved to San Diego in 1985. He is a teacher for the San Diego Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. I have known both of them for many, many years. Cynthia and I have become good friends since Jim, my husband, died from cancer seven years ago. I have enjoyed getting to know her. I have been grateful over the years for their ongoing support. She is a very talented crocheter and stitcher. I have renewed my crocheting skills with her encouragement and teaching. It is a fun and ongoing relationship.

I will remain here for another week so I can recover at a snail’s pace if need be. I am aiming to recover a bit faster than that but my body will decide that point not me.

Tomorrow I can go back out into the world. I have to attempt it because I need to take care of my rig and get more propane. Life continues. on.

What is next? On February 28th I get a full-body scan to set a baseline. I am a bit nervous about this. I can do this, though. Nerves are just a part of the whole game plan. I get nervous every year when I get my mammogram. Cancer has a way of doing this to a person.

My ultimate goal is to get through this moment in time and move forward with my life. I know I will be in the San Diego area for a while. I need to make sure I am on the right dose of Synthroid (a synthetic thyroid hormone). It takes time to build in the body. My next labs will be in five weeks. If it is OK then I am good to go. If not, they change the dose and I wait another five weeks to get my labs drawn again. I may not have to wait here but if I do, it is not too much of a hardship to be in San Diego and surrounding areas.

I can do so much more with all your support. Today I am grateful to see another sunset. Today I am grateful for all those who love and support me. Today I am grateful.

Getting Ready to Glow

This past Friday I returned to San Diego. I am getting ready for the next part of the treatment for thyroid cancer. I needed to be in the city early for lab work.

Happily, at the moment I am parked south of town, on the bay. I love the convenience of the Bike the Bay Trail from here. It is a flat and often windy ride. I had plans to bike the whole thing but then I remember the horrible disrepair of the streets around Imperial Avenue and decided to bike the better section down and back. It is a great trail, mostly off-road and takes one around the south end of San Diego Bay and up The Strand to Coronado. It is a flat and windy ride and very pretty. On The Strand, the bay is on one side and the Pacific Ocean is on the other. As you arrive in Coronado there is a beautiful view of the Hotel Del Coronado, one of the grande dame of hotels built in the 1800s. This time I biked it without too much of a headwind, it made for a nice ride.

Tomorrow I leave here and move into my friends’ driveway for several days. On Wednesday I will drive to Kaiser, alone, take the pill and semi-isolate myself for approximately a week. My little home on wheels will become my sanctuary for this time.

sag wagon summer

Who knew my Roadtrek would ever be needed for this purpose. EmmyLou has been a sag wagon for a summer, driven friends to spend Easter with the family, and an art studio, and more. Now it is going to shelter me, continue to keep me from harm, and safe until this is over. She is definitely a wonder mobile.

I am a bit nervous and overwhelmed about this whole thing. I am putting this nuclear medicine into my body. It is a scary thing.

On the day I began a low iodine diet, I started reading a book titled Radium Girls. It is about the introduction of radium onto the world stage. Very shortly things started to go south for the women who worked in the watch factories where they painted radium onto the hands of the watches. I woke the morning of the diet and stopping my meds in sheer panic. I couldn’t do this. I mean, these women were dying from radium poisoning.

Thankfully I was staying across from Jim and Rhonda. I walked over there still panicking. They calmed me down, suggested that I return the book to the library (which I did) and then we talked it through. Jim reminds me a lot of my husband Jim. He was calm and insightful and asked the right questions. The final question he asked was “What would Jim say to me?” I looked at him and I said he would be compassionate and understanding and then say move ahead, get it done so we can move on with our lives. After all, there are adventures out there that are waiting.

It took a few more days for me to make a final decision to move forward. Once that was made, then I could enjoy my time in the desert with friends and sleep better at night.

Here are a few things I know. I choose not to die from cancer. After all the years working as a nurse, loving Jim through his disease, cancer is not kind. If I can, I want to remain cancer-free for the rest of my life. I know ultimately we don’t always have a choice yet there are some ways we can encourage that route not to occur.

Head and neck cancers come back. They are known for this. Not everyone experiences a second round but many do. Jim did. I choose to do everything within my knowledge to help prevent that from happening.

Once the radioactive pill is taken I know there are certain things I can do to help my body survive radiation treatment and I will diligently do all that is required, drink a lot of water, suck on hard sour lemon candies and stay on the low iodine diet for a few more days. I will be a very important part of the team that is assembled to help me through this. These people do not only include all the medical people, they also include my friends and family.

I am getting ready to glow and move forward. It is too bad I can’t become a superhero for a week and use this opportunity to fight for what is good and right. Oh wait a minute, I can do that without radioactive iodine.

My current mantra is:  “Get Through February”. Many of you ask what is next and although I know you are curious, it causes a bit of anxiety in me. Why? Because I don’t know. I need to get through the end of the month and the first few weeks in March and then, hopefully my world will open up a bit and I can explore what may be next. Currently, I need to get through February.

The desert helped me to feel strong physically, mentally and spiritually. I am in the best shape I have been in, for quite some time. For now, I want to take this forward and focus on today. Tomorrow can wait.

Getting ready to Glow.

 

 

 

 

It Takes Just One Person-It Takes a Village

Today I went on a bike ride. This is my last day in Borrego Springs for a bit and maybe until next year. I decided to bike to Henderson Canyon Road to see what the flowers looked like. Were they there? Were they big? Were they small? And off I went.

When I arrived at Henderson Canyon Road there were paper napkins all over the road. It appeared that a crate had fallen off something and smashed and it’s contents, the napkins were scattered far and wide. The wind was picking them up and blowing them into my desert. How could that happen? I propped my bike on a sign and decided to take action. I was going to collect every single napkin. I didn’t care how long it took. They were not blowing into my beloved desert.

I knew it was going to be a chore, but I got started. A few minutes passed and another bicyclist rode by. He looked back, turned around, got off his bike and started to pick up napkins. Two more saw us, they got off their bikes and joined our effort. Four more came saw all of us, got off their bikes and started picking up napkins. Before I knew it, every single napkin was in someone’s hands.

What to do with those napkins? Someone had a bag and in they went. Others got stuffed into a day pack. The rest got stuffed into pockets. Except for the smashed wood bits no one would have ever known that a few minutes before there were hundreds of napkins on the road, blowing off into the desert. We picked up every single one.

When the first biker stopped, I laughed when I saw him start picking up napkins. When the others stopped my heart glowed. None of us talked very much, we just went to work. What a team. I enjoyed this moment in time. I truly had no idea this would happen.

One person’s action can have a chain effect. And that is why I titled this post “It Takes Just One Person/It Takes a Village. My action triggered everyone else and for those few moments, we became a village. It was companionable and fun. And when it was done, we thanked each other, mounted our bikes and left. I was proud and delighted.

If I hear someone say, “What difference can just one person make? What difference can I make?” I now know it can make a difference. It is a simple lesson with impactful insight.

It was a good day today.

 

 

 

 

 

Friends in the Desert

A majority of the time I travel alone in my Roadtrek. I hike alone. I bike alone. I have gotten used to my own company, quirks and all.

On January 6, I left San Diego for the desert, Borrego Springs and the Salton Sea (all part of the California Desert). I love to visit the desert to breathe the air, hear the quiet and contemplate. The gentlest of breezes catch my attention. It is my time to renew, refresh and think things through.

The past two years have been different. I meet friends, travel with them, hike with them and more. Most of them I only see once a year, in the desert, in the winter. They arrive from Washington, Oregon, California and further. They come for a few days, a week, or the season.

I feel like I have been a social butterfly.

Peggy and Roger greeted me as I arrived. Peggy and I met traveling in our small B class RVs. Peggy has moved up to a larger rig since she met Roger. Usually, they are here for the winter season. This year they changed it up as they are heading east to take a cruise out of Miami in February.  I had about a week and a half with them before they started the meander east. It’s always fun to meet up with Peggy, she likes to play Bananagram.😁We talk and chat our way through hikes, catching up on everything.

Upon my arrival, Cori was here for a night in her Roadtrek Zion. Cori, like me full times in her little rig. Although our visit was brief we were able to get an evening hike in before dinner and a visit. The following day she pulled out for Quartzite, AZ.

Hiking with Sandy & Pat

On Jan 21 I had to leave for San Diego for a few days. Dr appointments waited. Three days later I arrived back at my free campground to meet up with Sandy and Pat. They own an older Roadtrek and travel each winter. I love these people. Last winter when we met up I had a hard time keeping up with them on the trail. They used to be ultra-marathoners. This year it was much easier. I am in better shape and have been hiking or biking most days since I arrived here.

I never know where I will meet up with Sandy & Pat. One July they were traveling from Britsh Columbia back to the United States and they found me in northern Montana camped next to a lake. We celebrated the Fourth of July together, got some kayaking in, hiked, and had a good steak dinner, then we were on our way in different directions once again. I have met them in Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and California.

Forster’s Tern

Salton Sea

 

Sora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After they left I headed for the Salton Sea. I love birds, all kinds of birds. At this time of year, the Sea is full of migratory and stationary birds. This winter, I have been there three times. It has yet to disappoint. I went for a day with Peggy & Roger (see paragraph 3), once on my own and this time to visit Rhonda and Jim at the Fountain of Youth RV Resort & Spa. Michigan is harsh in the winter so these folks head south in their Roadtrek for a few months every winter. A benefit of the Fountain of Youth are the mineral hot springs that are available when one lodge’s there. They are delightful people and I am glad to have met and become friends with them. I also like that they are up for any adventure. While we visited and caught up, we hiked to palm groves with thousands of palm trees, known as the Dos Palmas and Adreas Grove.

Jim, Janet, Rhonda & Cricket

We also had time to explore the eclectic and funky town of Bombay Beach, and have dinner at the American Legion (the lowest one in altitude in the United States).

I also had serious conversations on this visit with them. I miss Jim, my husband who died from cancer seven years ago, I miss having someone to hash things out with. I am glad my friends are willing to come forward and fill that role when I need someone to talk to. They asked the right questions and hopefully, I found the right answers.

Another day we bird watched along the marshes of the Salton Sea always ending with a visit to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge to see the resident burrowing owls. Beyond cute! While I was visiting there Gary, another full-time RV’er came in the night before I left to say hi and visit for a couple days. Gary gave me his knee scooter when I broke my ankle five years ago. He and Penny have been on my radar ever since.

Karen & Larry

I left The Fountain of Youth and drove up the street about twenty miles to meet up with Karen and Larry. I met them through my friend, Zee, who is in Mexico for the winter. I first met them on a river trip in Northern Montana on the North Fork of the Flathead River. This is my second year of meeting them in the desert. They are from Oregon and travel in the winter months. The added attraction of my meet-up this year is they have two kitties that travel with them. I needed a kitty fix.

Solei

They followed me back to Borrego Springs and we have been hiking and four-wheeling and of course, talking. There are marvelous things to explore everywhere I go. It is often much more fun to share it with someone else.

The flow of people in and out of my life is something I miss when I am traveling solo. This winter has more than made up for the social side of myself. On days I when I want some solo time I am able to say “I am going biking today” and I get that alone time I need in the desert. It is also nice to retreat to my Roadtrek and close the door when I need to. We all seem very respectful of the time we spend alone and together. Friends do that for each other.

Friday I am returning to San Diego. I am camping posh at an RV resort in Chula Vista for a few nights and then will be camping in another friend’s driveway for several days as I finish with the treatment for thyroid cancer.

I have family that I love and care for and hopefully, they feel the same for me. Yet, I have a true family of friends all over the country and Canada. I am grateful that they include me in their adventures, great and small. I am thankful they open their arms in greeting. I am thankful that they accept me in whatever shape I am at the moment.

Today I am thankful for true and good friends. Today I am thankful.

A Girl & Her Tools

When Jim and I were a team, I used to tease him about trips to Home Depot. He would walk into the store and immediately developed this glazed look in his eyes. He loved Home Depot and any other store that had tools and other items that he could dream about.

While I still owned my home, I began to appreciate his tools. I soon found myself walking into Home Depot and developing that same glazed look on my face. My first purchase was a battery-run drill. I love that little drill. It is in a cool orange case with different drill bits. I have added new bits as I have needed them.

Since then I have purchased more tools. With each one, I read about them and learn how to use them properly. I carry my tools with me in my rig. I actually find I enjoy looking at them and trying them out.

My second purchase was a riveter so I could replace the cabinet latches in my rig. When I first tried it out, I was so excited to see how easy it was to complete the job. The right tool makes it so much easier.

I recently decided to take Jim’s Dremel Tool out of storage and add it to the items in my rig. I really like the Dremel tool. I have used it with a diamond sander to repair my windows. They now fit so much more snuggly. There are no leaks and when it gets cold, down to the 30’s tomorrow night, my Roadtrek is warmer. The right tool for the right job, that is what I say now.

 

Two weeks ago I sold a computer desk and file cabinet out of my storage unit, in San Diego. The people who bought it were having trouble putting it in their SUV. We needed a screwdriver to take screws out of a shelf so there was more room to fit the two pieces in the car. Those screws were tight. I immediately said, “wait I have a drill” and went to my rig to get it out. Within a few seconds, all the stubborn screws were loose. Both the desk and the file cabinet fit into the back of their SUV and they were on their way.

More evidence to prove the right tool for the right job.

When I first purchased my sweet little Roadtrek, I told myself that if anything went wrong with it I was going to find someone to repair it. It is amazing how that has changed. Unless it is totally out of my league, I will attempt to fix it myself. It is not unusual to find me creeping under the rig to look around. If something is held in place better, with a few zip ties, out they come and the job is done.

I appreciate the encouragement other RV owners have given me to try solutions first. When something is new I ask for instruction, in person or on the web. If it looks doable and will not cause irreparable harm I will give it a try.

Being involved with repairs has helped me to learn more about my rig. I find I don’t panic as much when something goes wrong. I can take a deep breath, and see if I can figure out a solution.

What is fun for me is to be able to offer my tools to men and women in need. I can even tell them how to use them. I was proud of my little drill in the orange case the other night. I was proud that I could bring it along and get the job done.

I am proud to be a girl and her tools.