Slowly, Very Slowly Moving East

Zion National Park

Mojave Desert

After a beautiful drive across the Mojave Desert, last Monday, I arrived in southern Utah. I planned on a few days outside Zion National Park (ZNP) and then would be on my way east. I am here a bit longer than I expected.

A good and very long time friend, Sharon, is in need of some assistance so I am going to be here through the end of the holiday weekend and depart next Tuesday. She was in an accident and is bruised and banged up with a few fractured ribs and sternum tossed into the mix. This is what friends do for each other. They help each other out. It is my honor.

This is not a hardship. I have known the whole Hatfield family since I was a girl and I love this woman dearly. We have ample time to talk and relax in each other’s company. And when she is off to take a snooze, ZNP and surrounding areas are there for me to explore. It is amazing country out here and I never tire of walking off down a wash to see what I can find.

Sharon has a lovely yard. It is big and currently needs grooming. Since she cannot tackle it, in her current state, I am gardening for her. There is nothing I love better than getting some gardening gloves on and digging, prune the trees, pull up weeds, and get things organized. It is probably the one thing I miss, living my current lifestyle. I love the smell of dirt and loam. Earlier in the week it was raining, which brings all the smells forward. There is no other smell like it.

Elsie and I are camped in the driveway. I chose to live in my small space this time, rather than finding a bedroom to sleep in. I have gotten quite comfortable in my cozy tiny home on wheels. Miss Elsie the Cat has too. I spend my day letting Elsie out and into the rig. She has discovered the catmint in the driveway and is a happy camper lying in the midst of it. When Elsie is out, Dharma the dog is in. When Dharma wants to go outside, Elsie goes back into the rig. I am the animal monitor. Who is in and who is out. I definitely need to stay on top of this. Dharma would like to meet Elsie but Elsie is not so fond of this idea. So I remain the door monitor.

Having been to this park many times before (it is good to have friends that live so close), I have not felt a great urge to hike every trail. Instead I have wandered from Sharon’s home and explored what I can find on foot. The Virgin River is at the end of the drive. It is an easy walk. Currently there is a lot of water in the river which adds so much drama to a river visit. When not there I have wandered the town of Rockville. I have visited the cemetery and meandered the side roads. This is a delightful and quaint little town. And, how convenient that it is so near the entrance to ZNP. On Monday I may decide to explore it by bicycle. That would be a new experience for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so my adventure unfolds a bit at a time. I have rather enjoyed the slow pace yet I know that I need to move east. Africa awaits. Next stop southern Colorado.

On a Roll

Miss Elsie the Cat and I decided it was time for an adventure. This morning we packed up and headed north and west. The coolest thing is that for once, I timed the traffic right in Los Angeles and rolled through that major traffic jam without a hitch. Whew, thank goodness.

My goal is Pismo Beach, on the west coast of this nation. There is going to be an informal Rally of Roadtreks for four days. We are gathering at an RV Campground and doing something. I am not sure what, but I am going. It is time to walk away from stress and decision making for a few days and have some fun.

The funny thing with a diagnosis of cancer, I immediately am sure that I am not going to live to see tomorrow. I wonder  if it is a bit of let down to see the sun rise the next day. I just don’t think so. A brief update before I move on to brighter and better subjects. I am putting a puzzle together. As each piece fits into place, my decision gets closer to being complete. I have all the pieces but one. May 15th, I have a second opinion at the Moores Cancer Center in San Diego. Hopefully, the visit to the Moores Cancer Center will give me the last piece of the puzzle, for now. The decision I need to make is: Am I comfortable with delaying surgery and the radioactive iodine treatment until fall, or do I have it done now? What confuses this decision, a good friend of mine and I have a two month trip to Africa coming up in July. Although everyone has told me to go and have the surgery in the fall, I am still needed a bit more confirmation. I have had a lot of indecision around this and finally saw a therapist to help me sort it all out. So stay tuned.

Steve, Debbie, Lynn, John

Meanwhile, back at the beach…..I have decided that I do not want to drive long distances any more. I want to have enough energy at the end of my day to enjoy a walk or a bike ride or a hike. I don’t condone exhaustion anymore. Once I was through LA, I thought I would head into the hills, ah the beach was calling and the hills will have to wait. There are these funky campgrounds between the railroad and the ocean as you drive from Ventura to Santa Barbara. I have always wanted to stay at one. Tonight is the night. Our view is the ocean. Yup right out the back door of the RV. I am not sure Elsie is as happy with this situation as I am. She takes a few looks and then heads to the front of the RV. Silly cat.

 

Tonight I met Debbie, Steve, Lynn and John, newly retired and testing out the RV lifestyle for two years. They are jovial and fun and have offered me dinner. Well yum. I enjoy meeting other people. I did the whole camping experience this evening. I had a burger with all the fixings and S’mores for dessert around a campfire by the ocean. I am still needing to give myself encouragement to interact with those I don’t know. I have struggled with this since Jim, my husband, died. It is fun when others make the first move. I am then more comfortable chatting it up and enjoying dinner and companionship.

Currently Elsie and I are bundled up inside our warm and cozy home. The ocean is our backdrop this evening. Hopefully the waves crashing just below me will lull me to sleep. If not, I will enjoy lying here listening to them.

Tomorrow will bring another day of wonder.

I am thankful today for good and kind people.

I am thankful today that I woke up.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Last evening Elsie and I had a visitor. Well, I had the visitor, Elsie ran in fear for her life. Cats.

I was walking the beach at sunset when I happened upon an odd scene. There was a sandpiper kind of swimming and kind of drowning in the waves. I noticed that there was a bird of prey stalking it from the air. It would dive down and the piper would duck under the water. It was pretty drowned. I stood near it so whoever thought it might be his dinner would leave. But that bird was determined. It tried picking it up once and dropped it. When that happened I waded out into the cold Pacific and picked that poor drowned rat of a sandpiper up and took it onto the dry sand. I wrapped it in my extra shirt and sat with it for a while. Then I brought it home.

What does one do with a rescued bird? I researched the Project Wildlife web site. They said to wrap it and keep it dry and toasty with the room temperature between 70 and 80 degrees. It wasn’t quite that warm in my studio yet warmer than outside. Interestingly enough they also said not to give it water or food. I converted the bathroom into the nursery. I made sure it was warm and dry and bundled. I turned off the lights, checked on it when I used the bathroom and left it alone.

This morning I unwrapped the poor shell shocked bird. It was really cute. I put a towel down on the floor of the bathtub and decided it was time to check for injuries. That little bird stood up immediately, went to the bathroom and started walking around. I checked his wings and everything looked in tact.

Next stop was my enclosed patio. I unwrapped him. The sandpiper stood up, hopped to the edge of the box and flew. Bye Bye Birdie.

I have some issues regarding what I did. I mean, that hawk needed to eat too. My interference did not allow for the survival of the fittest. As a human being it is hard to stand by and see this whole scene play out. It is even harder when the food source for the hawk is struggling so hard to survive. it easily could have had internal injuries that I could not assess. Did I do the right thing? Maybe and then again maybe not. This morning, however, I felt good to see this little bird recovered and ready to meet another day.

Elsie

is

once again,

glad

to be a

solo pet.

Oh The Places I Have Been-a post by Elsie the Cat

Elsie the Cat here. I have been one traveling kitty. I have seen big mountains and lots of sand and met up with some more dogs. I am one traveling kind of kitty.

It is hard for a little six pound kitty to see the big wide world. I am so glad for my tiny house on wheels. When things get to overwhelming I run for the rig. I know this is my safe place. Every kitty needs one. It becomes a bit hard for it to be safe when Janet, says, “Oh bring that dog in, Elsie is used to them”. Hmmm, I wonder how she got that idea. Being used to them and having them inside are two totally different stories.

Sonny

While we were staying at City of Rocks State Park, I met up with Sonny. He came in my house but only stayed a little bit. He was skittish and so was I. What is that dog doing in my house? He didn’t stay long, so it was OK. Sonny belongs to a new friend of Janet’s, Connie. She rides the same kind of RV as Janet.

Roxie

Then I met Roxie. She belongs to Mary. Another Roadtreking fool. Roxie was a different story. Roxie and I got to hang out for the greater part of an afternoon, while the people went off somewhere. This was not our choice. I even had to give her a hiss a swipe, just to let her know who was in charge. I couldn’t even get a decent afternoon nap. I had to keep one eye on Roxie all the time. I let Roxie have the back bed and I laid on the counter top so I could keep watch. I slept really good that night.

Roxie travels with her own kitty, Frank. I think Frank is a bit nuts to tolerate a dog. Janet better not try getting a dog while I am around. Whew, I was glad when that day was over.

Roxie & Frank

Now Janet and I are back on our own. I  like that. It has been a while since I have had her all to myself, although most of the time it doesn’t matter because I like to sleep a lot. Sleeping is really important to me. I love it. I really love it when I am undisturbed.

I am braver now. For the past month or more I no longer sleep under the sheepskin. I now sleep on the passenger seat. I think it is important to keep an eye on Janet. She tends to take the road less traveled.

For the last three weeks we have been way more social than what I am used to. I am not sure I like this social stuff, yet I am getting used to it. Although everyone has their own rig, Janet has been hanging out with other travelers. I have had to get used to the fact that Peggy often took my seat in the evening. She said that it was actually Janet who took my seat but I know better. I protested a little and then went to sleep on the front dashboard.

Where have we been since we finished up riding with another Mary, in September? With Janet’s help, here is a list.

  • Our land in Colorado-near Durango
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains State Park (I really liked it there), and Marfa
  • Big Bend National Park-lots of mountains and a big giant river. I saw my first Javalina-a strange and interesting looking thing.
  • Silver City, NM
  • Gila National Monument
  • Guadalupe National Park-we camped in a parking lot.
  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • City of Rocks State Park-there were a lot of coyotes there and owls.
  • Oliver Lee State Park
  • White Sands National Monument. This one was just one huge giant sand box. Janet took me out and I did not like it one bit. The wind was blowing and sand was everywhere. I like my litter box-thank you very much.
  • Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area and Campgrounds
  • We stayed at the St Clair Winery in Demming, NM for two nights. We could here owls right outside our house at night.

Now Janet says we are on our way to San Diego. I know I have been there before but I am not sure why we are going there. Janet says we are staying put for a few months. Hmm, that should be interesting. I will wait for this to unfold as I am sure it will. Until then I believe it is time for me to get some sleep. Nap time!!!

Another Year-Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The day after tomorrow will mark the sixth anniversary of Jim’s death. Time stands still. Time flies. It is amazing that it is six years since I last saw him. It is amazing that it has been six years since I last heard his voice. Well this whole process is pretty amazing and not always much fun.

I grieved when my mom died. I grieved when my dad died. I have grieved over the loss of friends and over the loss of others in tragedy, which we have seen so much of this year. The loss of Jim was different. I lost my life partner, my friend and my companion in mischief and dance. I describe the three and a half years leading to his departure, like a deck of cards thrown in the air. Just as they started to come down and I was picking them up, something else happened and the cards were thrown back up in the air again.

I am still picking up cards from six years ago. I didn’t know there were so many cards. Yet I have accomplished a bit along the way and each day I attempt to live life to its fullest. Some days it is a wee, tiny bit and other days are big a luscious and overflowing with awe and beauty.

I am beginning to realize that I may never have an answer to the question “What’s Next?” At my best I look for the large and small around me and find some marvel in it all. At my worst, I still find I can treasure my current surroundings and who I am.

  • I am not homeless.
  • I have this lovely little Roadtrek to call home.
  • My home is heated, which feels good on these chilly fall nights.
  • Elsie is always my faithful companion, in adventure and silence.
  • I know, oh how I know, I have many out there that support me daily, mostly in thought and prayer. Yet I know you are out there.
  • There are many books to read. On days where I don’t have much energy, I sit and read.
  • When I was younger I went through a short, period where everything was gray. I appreciate that I have never gone back to that place. I still can see and marvel at the loveliness of the places I visit and the people I meet. Color is a wonderful medium.
  • I have a family, sisters and nieces, that though not often heard from love me and support me.
  • And there is always my camera-I love taking pics even at my lowest.

There is always hope. In this coming year I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. I really don’t need to make far reaching decisions about anything. I want to focus on what is best for me at this moment in time, in this day and in this year. I want to experience a little more joy, wherever I can find it. And, although I am not sure I may want to settle down. I shall see on that statement.

I now understand a bit more of the statement from others that “you can move forward, while treasuring the moments Jim and you had”. I know that I can do both. And, ever since Jim’s passing he has been very good at helping me find my car keys. I have called on him more than once. This is one of the important reasons to keep him nearby as I adventure forth into life.

If you look on this site you will see a Go Fund Me tag. I have been raising money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship for 6 years. I am close to my goal of $25,ooo to make this a perpetual scholarship. I have about $8,000 more to go. I have been constant and steady in trying to raise this amount. If you would like to donate, small or large, some student out there at Grossmont Community College will thank you for your efforts.  I treasure each donation because I know about the thought and caring behind it. If you would prefer to donate directly to the college, here is their information.

Mail your donation to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Contributions are tax deductible

On to another year of discovery. Who knows what it will bring. I will continue to follow my own path, carrying the memories of my time with Jim forward. This year I pray that it will be just a wee bit easier. Each year seems to be getting that way. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for 21 years of love, caring and relationship. I am thankful for being able to have those memories to help me move forward with my life, no matter what direction it takes.

Today I am thankful.