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.

 

 

 

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Totality


fullsizeoutput_8201My extended summer vacation is drawing to a close. I have had an adventurous and good time in Idaho and Montana. I can’t thank my friends, Linda (for her “cabin”) and Mary (including me in her adventures) enough. It has been a fun.

The finale to my time in Idaho and Montana, and a little bit of Oregon was watching the Eclipse in totality, with new friends. We were in Unity, Oregon. The eclipse was every cliche or phrase or word you have ever formulated for amazing. I had told myself that I would not take photos. I was just going to watch it. Well the best laid plans can go awry. I did get one good shot of totality. It was fun to take pictures of the people and the shadow, and the sunset. Yep it was downright awesome.

And to think, I almost missed it. What?, you may wonder. She was planning to do this since last spring. How could she almost miss it?

I have been out in the back country for most of the summer. I have hiked and biked and kayaked and more. I have spent a lot of time alone. When the news started coming in that they were expecting close to a million people in Oregon for the eclipse, I hesitated. McCall Idaho was expecting up to 100,000 people. People were worried about traffic. There was concern that gas stations would run out of gas. The more the reports came in, the more unsure I became. I was not sure I wanted to be around all these people. I have seen one other eclipse. I could easily head south and avoid the masses.

Mary & Janet waiting for Totality

What drew me to Unity to see the eclipse was my friend, Mary. I had made a commitment to her to share an RV site. I had made a commitment to be there. I like my friends and I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t break commitments very easily. So with some hesitation on my part, I drove to Unity, Oregon.

And the result? 

I had a great 4 days. The group I was with were delightful and easy going. The day before the eclipse we went to Unity Reservoir and mucked about on the water. Everyone got along. The town and the townspeople were welcoming and helpful. We had a great big grassy area to sit in, the morning of the eclipse. Other people outside of our group joined us. Everyone was having fun getting to know each other. There were no hoards of people. We left on the August 22. There was no traffic. We had no difficulty driving or getting gas. The trip to Medford Oregon was long yet easy.

 

I am glad I stretched myself. I am glad I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and mesh into a fine group of people. I believe that it is important for me to be a bit uncomfortable from time to time. The emotionally scary experiences help me to become more-more human, more whole, more of everything. I know several posts back, I spoke of fear. Fear has been pretty much a part of my day to day existence since Jim died. I can let it drown me or I can make it my ally. The trip to Unity is a good example of asking fear to be my ally. When I support this part of myself and push forward to a new experience I grow and fear becomes a tiny bit more distant.

Sunset in Totality

I am driving south. I am going to be in San Diego for two weeks, starting this Sunday. I have to visit the person I have an ongoing relationship with for another six months or so, my dentist.😁 I have to sign up for Medicare. Good heavens, I am 65 this October, how did that happen? The rig is getting checked out and serviced. It is time to get my eye exam and order new glasses. It will be a busy two weeks.

I am hoping to see all my San Diego friends. I have missed my major support group, since Jim’s death. You all know who you are. I hope to see each and every one of you in my two weeks in town before I adventure out again.

Tonight I am at the beach. I have missed the ocean and have felt a draw to the west to say hello to the Pacific, and Jim (he was buried at sea). It is time to get my shoes on and take a walk. It is time to say hello to the wide open ocean.

 

 

I Am On The Move

When I look back to my last post, I am amazed it has been almost a month since I posted. What? How could that be? I have been on the move.

 

I left San Diego in mid-April. Once taxes were completed and the dental work finished it was time to figure out what to do with my summer. In classic Janet fashion, sometimes I find it hard to decide what direction to go. Sometimes when everything is planned a better option shows up and there I am, my typical Libra self, once again, contemplating and making plans and changing my mind.

Friends, near and far are a life line for me. I treasure my friends. This part of my journey has been about travel and friends, and new experiences.

A View of Zion Canyon

First stop on my rambling life, Zion National Park. I have a very good long time friend that lives just outside the park.  Sharon and I have known each other since I was young and I babysat her children. When I was in my early twenties I reconnected with this family and it turns out, it was the best thing I could have chosen to do. Sharon and her husband David always unconditionally loved and supported me. Unfortunately David died a little over two years ago. Now after a 60 year marriage Sharon is on her own. She and I have joined the same club, like it or not.

I spent my week in and around the park doing challenging hikes and helping Sharon around the house. One day of hiking was followed by a day of errands and yard work. It was a great combination.

Central Nevada

From Zion I drove across central Nevada heading to Monterey, CA. I have never spent much time in this state. The byways I took makes me want to go back and explore more. Another state goes on my ever-growing list of places I want to visit. I like the solitude of the area. When a badger crossed in front of my RV, I could stop in the middle of the road to watch it. There was no traffic. Nope, not one vehicle.

Roadtreks all in a row

After all the solitude I arrived at a Roadtrek Rally located at the Fairgrounds in Monterey. The rally had forty Roadtreks and about sixty people. For three and a half days we gathered for meals and other events. We explored each other’s rigs and new ones as well. It was three days of camaraderie and learning. I discovered that larger groups of people can be fun when I have a place to retreat to for quality alone time.  Another very good use for my Roadtrek. Meeting friends can be fun. I met several people who I have met on-the-road. It helped that there were a few friends at the rally. Charlotte, a good friend and the woman who married Jim and me lives in Monterey. We were able to slip a breakfast in and catch up on new and long time experiences. She is a magical, delightful person.

Oh so good friends-Gary on the left and Ron on the right as you look at the photo.

Now I am heading north. I will get to my summer plans in a few minutes. Two nights ago, at the last minute, I called friends in Santa Rosa who I have always threatened to visit and this time I did. First you have to know, I love Ron and Gary. They have always held a special place in my heart. They are both Scottish dance teachers as well as amazing musicians and delightful friends. Not only did I get to spend a wonderful evening with them, dancing and catching up…I got to dance. Oh it has been long. My ankle is not 100% yet but it is close. Being back on the dance floor was delight. Coming back to their house afterwards was even better. I love these two men and I am glad we are friends. I have known Ron for close to thirty years. He is special.

Where to next. Well here it is, in a nutshell. I am heading north to Lassen and then to Medford. It is time to meet up with my friend Mary again. She is the one I spent some time with in the Arizona desert this winter. I am looking forward to catching up and getting some wine tasting in.

Idaho is my destination for a part of the summer. Linda and Steve, more Roadtreking friends,  have offered me and Miss Elsie their cabin in Donnelly Idaho. I am taking them up on the offer. I am looking forward to being a bit stationary for a few months. Other events on the horizon? A river trip, the solar eclipse (oh Jim would be so proud) and later in the summer, Colorado. It is time to spend time on my property there. Late summer and early fall is a delightful time to be in the mountains.

I am grateful for the western United States. I always thought I would end up in New England. I often tell people I got to the Rocky Mountains and never looked east again. There is something about this part of the country, from the mountains to the Pacific that touches my soul. I am looking forward to my mountain summer. And….you know….if any of you are in the area please be in touch. I would love to visit and explore with you.

All my friends are treasures and I look forward to spending time with each and everyone of you, time and time again.

Today I am grateful for Friends and Friendship.

 

Challenges of a Small Home Lifestyle

Lake Jennings

I have been in San Diego County since March 19th. I have camped in two places since my return and I am getting ready to move to a third place. It is important to book ahead when Easter weekend looms on the horizon. My first campground was at Lake Jennings. It was a beautiful site, on a scenic reservoir. Now I am a bit closer in towards San Diego at another very nice campground, Santee Lakes. This weekend I will move once again and then when Easter is over I return to Santee Lakes.

Wood Duck Mama at Santee Lakes

When I really enjoy a place, where I have stopped to camp, I find it is hard to let go of it and move on to the next one. I think I, un-intentionally, like to set down roots. I believe many of us do. That is why we buy homes or land. That is why we nest.

I think it is a very good lesson to un-nest and re-nest once again. I have found, since I have taken on this experiment in living that there are two responses from people. The younger generation tells me how cool it is and that is what they want to do. The older generation ( people my age and older) don’t always understand what I am doing. I have to admit I don’t always understand what I am doing.  I do know that the longer I have been living this lifestyle the more comfortable it gets. Do I think I will do this long term? No. I miss my community of friends and eventually community will be what draws me back to settling in one place again.

There are challenges with this lifestyle, as there are with any. When I am back in San Diego I visit my storage locker a couple of times. I like sitting around what is familiar and loved. It feels like all these objects and belongings are waiting. Hmm…I am waiting too. I am not sure what I am waiting for, yet, I am waiting. My belongings know what they are waiting for. They are waiting for a home.

What are some of the challenges?

  • My living space is very, very small. Storage is always an issue.
  • What do I really need to live a comfortable life? This is a question I ask myself several times a month.
  • Things need to be orderly. I am somewhat of a slob. I am not dirty but I tend to lay my clothes and belongings other places than where they should be. I cannot afford to do this in this small space. If something is pulled out, when I am finished with it, it has to go back to it’s home instantly.
  • It is amazing how quickly this small place can become dirty. I clean every single day. The carpeted area gets vacuumed. The floor gets swept daily. The floor also get’s washed every other day.
  • I have a small “wet bath”. When I take a shower, the whole bathroom gets cleaned. This usually happens every other day.
  • The garbage cannot linger. I have to remove it every other day. Smells accumulate in a small space.
  • When I want to go somewhere in my Roadtrek, I can’t simply pull out. I have to disconnect the water, and electric. The refrigerator has to be moved to battery power. Are all the windows and doors closed and locked? And where is Miss Elsie the cat, usually sleeping in the driver’s seat.
  • I have two of everything. That means if more than two people come to visit, they either have to come with their dish in hand or I get paper plates and plastic ware, which I really do not like using.
  • When getting ready to travel, is everything in it’s place. I have a check list that, even after close to four years, I still look at. It is not unusual to miss one thing.
  • When I had a house I noticed when things went wrong, only after they had escalated. In a small space I notice more quickly if something needs attention. This is of course a house on wheels and all homes have issues over time. The time is just shorter in a small home.
  • It is amazing what I can lose in here. Now my keys go back where they belong as soon as I enter my home.
  • I used to have a whole file cabinet. Today, I have one portable file with all the essentials in it.
  • I usually do not read books. I read on my Kindle App. There is limited space for the real thing. I miss turning the pages. I would, however, prefer to read than not read. 📚
  • The cat litter cannot be ignored. That gets cleaned at least once a day. It took a bit of research, I finally found a type of cat litter that has minimal odor. Yay. Tracking means vacuuming.
  • If I have to take my RT in for repairs, what do I do with Elsie the cat? When I am in San Diego I can drop her at my friend Nancy’s (thank you, Nancy). When I am on the road I usually will put her in her cat carrier and if it is longer we find a hotel room.

I am sure that if I took more time I would discover more challenges. The challenges become a daily part of life and I don’t think about them too much. It is better to approach the unique situations as they come up. There is always a solution. The one nice thing about my RV is that if I break down somewhere (hasn’t happened) I have a place that is comfortable while I wait out the solution. That is nice.

I may just do another post on the benefits of this lifestyle. I have found there are many. Right now, though, today is moving day. I am off to Kumayaay Lakes Campground for Easter weekend. I am looking forward to staying here. Until about a year ago it was closed. Now it is open weekends and has come in handy when Santee Lakes was full. Time to do the process.

Happy Easter everyone.

 

 

Breezes of the Desert

75ccc72e53440b46961e7776d2add1faimagesEarly this morning I awoke around 1:30 am, windows open in my Roadtrek and the gentlest of breezes was beginning to blow. I love the desert. When the night breezes begin, the desert is beginning to cool down from the heat of the day. My RV begins to cool off and now it is a time where snuggling into the blankets begins to feel really good.

Coyotes are howling out in the countryside. Despite how I worry about coyotes and Elsie the cat, I love them. They remind me of the wild country before we had big cities. They remind me of Jim, (one of his major spirit animals) and they give me comfort. I embrace the wild-around me and in me. It gives me the will and desire to wander into uncharted territory.

Instead of worrying about not being able to sleep through the night, I accept the waking and explore the dark, welcoming the moon and the moonless nights. I listen to the wind. Reaching over I open another window so I can get a cross-breeze. I love the feel of the coolness on my face, arms and hands.

Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

Before I arrived on the outskirts of Tucson, where I am for the next few days, I was in the desert north of Ajo, AZ. I was boondocking(dry camping). I had driven about a half mile off the main road into the desert. Each day I would go on my own short walk-about, exploring my temporary home. For two days I sat in silence. My only conversation was with Elsie the cat. In the distance I could hear the occasional braying of the local wild burro population and the occasional coyote. Silence is hard to get used to at first. Then it becomes familiar. Then I embrace it. It is hard to let it go, when I go back into the city or even the small town. I hope that some of the silence follows me back into the noise of the everyday world.

Wild Burros

Wild Burros

In the quiet I can begin to hear and feel in a deeper and clearer way. I feel the gentlest of breezes and welcome it’s whisper, quieting my heart and mind.  The sky becomes clearer and the world around me brightens. Sitting out after dark I begin to hear the scurrying of little critters and have a passing hope that a pack rat is not setting up home in my engine, they do that.

When I first moved west I thought I was going to see sand and dirt and nothing.  The desert is so alive. There are plants big and small and so many different cactus. The birds and wildlife are varied. In Suguarjo National Park there are over 200 species of birds. They all have their own unique way of surviving in the hot summer months and cold winter months.

Late Afternoon Hike, near Gilbert Ray Campground

Late Afternoon Hike, near Gilbert Ray Campground

I would like to consider that I may also have my own unique way of surviving. This is why I sold my home last July. This is why I moved into my RT. This is why I accept my questioning spirit. This is why I know it is OK to grieve. This is why I know it is OK to roam and wonder what is next. Maybe just maybe when the wind whispers, I will hear the answer I am seeking.

 

 

 

 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

My Campsite north of Westport, CA

My Campsite north of Westport, CA

For the past few weeks I have been traveling the west coast in my Roadtrek. I have literally been traveling the coast following route 1 and 101 north from Los Angeles. I have been enjoying the cool air while so many were suffering through a heat wave.

When I arrived in Crescent City, California a good friend, Cat and her two dogs, joined me for four days. It was fun to have company and see a part of the United States I have never seen before.

janet & Cat getting ready to ride.

janet & Cat getting ready to ride.

 

Cat and I are getting ready to embark on a journey together. She and her two dogs are bicycling the Pacific Coast Route. Me, Elsie and the Roadtrek are going to be her support team, otherwise known as the “sag wagon”. We will start in Vancouver, BC and finish at the Mexican border. It is a long ride and I have no doubt it will be fun.

We were planning to leave this week past. There has been a delay.

I have not learned yet, how important it is, to stop driving before one gets too tired. On Monday, I was running errands, after spending a lazy day on the beach, walking and photographing.  At the end of the day I did one errand too many. I pulled into the Home Depot Parking lot, parked my rig, leaned over to pick up my wallet, and the next thing I knew I was rolling over a curb and a rock. My Roadtrek was obviously not in park. While backing off I pulled my whole front bumper off.

There are many nice things about a small town, one of them is the people. After calling my roadside assistance with Coach-Net a local body repair man, Mike came to my rescue. With the help of a couple other RV’ers and Mike the bumper was temporarily put into place. When I asked Mike how much I owed him, he just waved me off. I gave him a hug instead of money. His kindness was appreciated.

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Bumper Bandaids

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Bumper Bandaids

The next day I made my way, via a beautiful drive through the redwoods and a few stops to zip tie loose areas of my bumper, to Medford Oregon. Medford is close to Ashland where Cat and I are meeting up to start the journey north. Thanks to the Roadtrek Facebook page, when I whined about my dilemma, I soon had two offers of places to stay in Medford while my front end is secured back into place.

I have been staying with Mary. I first met her last winter in Anza Borrego State Park. A little over a month later she and I and two other women met up in the desert again. This second meeting is when I fell and broke my ankle, while hiking. Sigh. We did form a good start to a friendship, one I hope endures.

Mary has been a perfect hostess and friend. She has helped divert me from obsessing over my stupidity and has been introducing me to Oregon. The first day we toured Lithia Park (designed by John McLaren who designed Golden Gate Park in San Francisco)  in the town of Ashland, met up with Cat for lunch and went wine tasting in the afternoon. It was relaxing and fun.

Sometime that afternoon I began to realize that I could just chastise myself over and over again or I could let it go and enjoy my side trip to Medford and Ashland.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Yesterday Mary and I spent the day hiking and touring at Crater Lake National Park. Here is a one word description of this park “Beautiful”. I don’t believe that a bad photo could be taken of this place. It was amazingly beautiful. The lake within the crater is the most beautiful color of blue. It is said that the water is so pure that you could dip your cup and drink right from the lake. The water comes completely from snow melt and rain. What keeps it so pure is that there is only one place on the lake where you can actually get to the shore and even that is restricted use. It was an amazing day and I am glad that I finally was able to see this spectacular place. it was good to get some hiking in, something I have not done much of lately.

Janet & Mary hike to a waterfall

Janet & Mary hike to a waterfall

Today, Friday my Roadtrek made it’s way to the shop. I am hoping that it may be ready to go my next Wednesday.

Recreational Marijuana Shop

Recreational Marijuana Shop

I realize that I have several choices on how I choose to act in any given situation. I was not hurt, my RT was a little hurt, Elsie was OK and this is a very temporary set back on a grand summer and fall adventure with a good friend. The lesson here is, there are many times I can make lemonade when I am given temporary lemons. Very few episodes or events are so dire that I cannot, at least attempt, to turn them around and discover something positive about the situation at the time. The past four days have been fun. I have been exploring a new area of the country and having fun with friends. I have visited my first recreational marijuana store (it’s legal here) and I was able to visit Crater Lake National Park which has long been on my list of must sees. Deepening the connection with Mary has certainly been worth while. I have been having fun.

Hopefully I won’t have to make too much lemonade on this trip. It is good to know that I can if I need to. I am looking forward to what fun thing I will do tomorrow. Today I am thankful for lemons and lemonade, good friends and beautiful expansive, preserved wilderness that I am privileged to explore.

Click below for Photos of the trip, so far.

Photos

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Redwoods

Afternoon Bath

Afternoon Bath

 

Change-Big Change is Coming

Search-Colorado-Springs-MLS-Homes-for-SaleThis past Monday, my realtor and I went “live”. My home is up for sale. I have been working on the house since February getting it ready for this moment. My broken ankle slowed the process down for a few months. Now that I am walking and doing better each day, it is time.

Today, Tuesday, two interested parties came to view the house. When I received the first call, I was nervous and excited and a bit anxious and scared all at the same time. There are so many mixed feelings with this move.

cardinstallation_02@2xEver since I was diagnosed with breast cancer I feel as if my life has been tossed up in the air, like a deck of cards. While I was picking up the cards from this incident, Jim was diagnosed with cancer. Up went the cards again. Eight months later he was diagnosed with a metastasis from the original cancer, up the cards went once again. With his death all those cards have been taking their time coming down. I have been slowly picking them up, one at a time. Picking up each one has certainly been taking time. No set schedule here.

I thought I would sell our home  3 months after Jim died. I now understand that was way to soon. Grief needs time and I needed somewhere comfortable and secure and safe to manage the initial stages of grief and loss. There was nowhere better than the home where Jim’s and my relationship flourished.

Janet driving in the alley in Chicago(3)

Me & the Trek

I have been trying to figure out what is next in my life since Jim’s  death. I have been waiting for a grand moment of awareness. It has not arrived. I am going looking for it. Miss Elsie the Cat and I are going to make my sweet little Roadtrek into our home for the next year. It may be longer than a year or it may be shorter but I have decided to go traveling. I love to travel. I enjoy learning and meeting new people and exploring this grand country I live in. And to create some expansiveness, I am including Canada in my travels, as well.

Link to Listing

I don’t plan to set out until the house sells, unless it is on the market for a while. If that happens then I will be heading out before it sells. Maybe I will figure out where I want to live. If not it will be one grand adventure. I look forward to seeing friends, friends who I have known forever and newer ones as well.

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The nervousness and anxiety comes from the unknown. It is a little overwhelming to put my trust out there in the universe that all will be OK. I have moved several times in my adult life. Each time has been just a wee bit harder than the last one. I am not sure why that happens, but I do think it has to do with age. Maybe as I have gotten more mature I have found myself more settled with each move. I do have friends in so many places and I hope to meet up with as many as I can. It is time to catch up.

I am getting ready to roll. What should I take? What should I leave? Where am I going? Is this crazy?

Then there is the house. It takes a bit of effort to dismantle a house. I have been in the process of doing this for the past few weeks. I still have a ways to go, yet even this is manageable as long as I don’t get too stressed.

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Miss Elsie

And then there are the memories. Sigh. Even this is OK. It can even be therapeutic. And the bottom line here, is I need move ahead with my life. I want to create adventure and exciting, happy challenges. I am ready. Miss Elsie, well who knows but she is coming along for the ride.

Getting ready, change is in there air.