Lessons of Nature

I left San Diego at the end of April. I am thankful for slow and easy journeys in my Roadtrek. As I moved north I had time to stop and explore. I love the coast of California. Actually, the whole west coast is pretty magnificent. It has got to do with water and rugged nature. Much of the Pacific Coast in the United States is a cold and rough ocean.

Carpenteria State Beach

I arrived at Carpenteria State Beach, near Santa Barbara, for a four-night stay. I have learned to speak up if I don’t find a campsite to my liking. I was originally in a parking site between two rigs. There was no picnic table and I felt like I was in a parking lot. When I spoke to the ranger, he gave me three sites to look at. I found the perfect site. Although the park was busy my site was quiet. I remained there for four nights.

There are moments in time that are special in my life. One of them occurred while camping at Carpenteria. This is spring and the Snowy Plovers were sitting on eggs or managing their young. They are protected, so the area where they are nesting was closed off to the public.

I spent a morning sitting outside the roped-off area watching the babies and adult Plovers. I have seen signs for the Snowy Plovers before, yet this is the first time I have actually had the opportunity to see the adults and babies.

Here are some facts about these sweet little birds.

  • Snowy Plovers are pale brown shorebirds, that forage for invertebrates on ocean beaches and in desolate salt flats and alkaline lakes. Snowy Plovers make nearly invisible nests on beaches, where they are easily disturbed by humans, dogs, and beach vehicles.
Adult Snowy Plover
  • They are endangered. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 31,000, of which an estimated 24,000 breed in the U.S. Presently, fewer than 2,000 breeding plovers remain in the Pacific coast population.
  • Their camouflage is perfect for their environment. If I took my eyes off the young ones it took a bit to find them again.
  • Young Snowy Plovers leave the nest within 3 hours of hatching and are able to forage unassisted almost immediately (though the parents still brood them periodically to keep them warm). If a predator approaches, the parent gives a signal and the chicks flatten themselves against the ground.
  • Snowy Plovers often raise 2 broods of chicks a year. Females occasionally desert their mates when the chicks hatch to begin a new nest with a different male.
  • The oldest recorded Snowy Plover was 15 years and 9 months old when it was spotted in Oregon and identified by its band.

It was an honor to see these little birds and photograph them. Their curiosity was infectious. They made me laugh and feel joy. They remind me of the fragility and strength of life in all forms. It is important to support all life that is left in this world, even these little shorebirds. Every time another species disappears, I feel that a little of you and me disappears as well.

I am so grateful to be given these opportunities in nature. Nature gives me the opportunity to grow and strengthen, to experience joy and delight.

Today I am thankful for the Snowy Plovers. Today I am thankful for nature. Today I am Thankful.

Where I Have Been-Where I am Going

After my last post, I received questions from a few people asking where I am. I am not being a very good blogger because I have not let people know of my continued journey since I left the desert.

By April the desert is warming up. It in fact is getting pretty hot. As much as I love the desert, I am not a lover of extreme heat. I was there later than usual this year. I arrived late so left late. I got to visit good friends, do a little kayaking, and get my desert fix once more.

Mary, Shay & Rocky

I left the desert at the end of March and climbed into the mountains to visit a good friend, Mary from Idylwild, CA. The temperatures cooled off and signs of earlier spring began to show themselves. The daffodils were blooming and a few tulips were popping out as well. I spent a lovely week with Mary and her two dogs, whom I have pet sat for. Shay and Rocky were glad to see me. It was fun to be out walking with them and catching up on Mary’s life. I even had a bed companion, it is fun that Mary is willing to share Shay the dog.

Since then I have been in San Diego. I am camped on Mission Bay. It has been spectacular weather. The days have been sunny and cool and just perfect. I had my follow-up dental visit. I am on course for good healing from surgery. I get a two-month reprieve before I have to return for a dental cleaning. It won’t be in San Diego as I am going to be heading north.

It is not unusual for friends and strangers to ask me what is next. I don’t know, is frequently my answer. I have never been a good planner. It would drive Jim, my husband, nuts. He had a job that required us to plan vacation time. I did not. I know he found it hard to pin me down and it would be a point of frustration. I would breathe and sit down and within a few days, we would have a plan.

I still have a hard time making decisions. I mean, what if something better comes up? Plans do not have to be set in stone and they can change. I remind myself of this when I am struggling to see what is next. It does cause me some anxiety. It helps to breathe through anxiety. The world is not going to fall apart because I don’t have a plan.

On Sunday, April twenty fourth I am leaving San Diego for the summer. First I am going to Santa Barbara, CA for a week. I will be camping on the beach for a few days. Dan Neeley, who works on my rig is just outside of Santa Barbara, to the east. He is all things Roadtrek. Many of us on the west coast head to him for annual maintenance and help with any other issues. After four days on the beach, I will be going to an Airbnb for a few nights just in case my RV has to spend a night at the hospital.

Upon leaving Santa Barbara, I return to Salinas and Woody the Cat. He and I will be hanging out for most of May. I am getting a second cat fix. I am looking forward to seeing Mandy and Woody again. It also means I get back out on the Elkhorn Slough in my Kayak. That is a very good thing.

I will continue to head to the Northwest, visiting friends and seeing magical things along the way. I have been asked to house sit for the same owners on Whidbey Island, Washington. I am looking forward to another summer in the Northwest. Hopefully, I will see my little Birdy Boy. I will be back in the land of the magical sunsets over Puget Sound.

Sunset over Puget Sound

And there is my summer. A lot of this came together in a few days. It seems that one moment I had no idea what I was doing after my dental appointments were complete and then it took shape and then I had a plan. That plan goes into action tomorrow when I leave San Diego for the next several months. I will meet up with wonderful friends along the way and I am sure I will meet new ones as well.

It Is Always An Adventure

Desert Rat-2 : Janet Won!

I have been very fortunate with my RV. Shortly after I bought my Roadtrek, I had one incident with a small creature and took care of it quickly. I blocked holes so it could not get to my food and quickly it departed. Since then I have been critter-free, until recently.

When I first arrived in Phoenix I stayed at a marvelous Boondockers Welcome site north of the city. It was rural and wildlife was plentiful. It was warm in the desert, so I decided to leave my front side windows open. I have screens to put over them. No longer traveling with a kitty I decided the windows could stay all the way down. BIG MISTAKE!

No sooner had I climbed into bed than I heard scurrying sounds in my rig. What the heck was that? Then I felt something running down my legs, on top of the covers. Arrgh, stop already! I got up turned on the lights and of course, there was nothing there. Feeling gullible I decided I had scared whatever it was off and returned to bed.

FAT CHANCE! So began the saga of Janet and the Desert Rat. First I put all the food away. Nothing remained on the counters except the bananas. The next morning there was a bite out of one of the bananas. This was war! I love bananas.

The next evening I did a double-check and everything was put away. That little mouse was quite ingenious and I could hear it scurrying up the wall between the interior and exterior of my van. Oh no, it was making a home. I knew it was time to get serious about getting rid of this invader. Oh, but it is so cute, well at least the pictures on the internet are.

Now going on close to five days I had not been successful. I started with “Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent – Environmentally Friendly, Keeps Mice Out”. I placed it what I thought were strategic spots. It added a pine scent to my RV but it did not seem to deter the determined rodent.

I decided it was time for the big guns. I was going to buy mouse traps. Did you know there are many kinds of mouse traps? There are the ones I grew up with that just snapped and hopefully killed the mouse when it reached for a piece of cheese. Now there are ones that look like a little house. You still bait them but when they go inside the deed is done and all you have to do is throw out the trap. There are sticky papers which I think are kind of cruel. Live traps are also an option. If you research mouse deterrents the choices are plentiful.

Round one-a live trap. I really did not want to kill anything. If I could catch it alive that would be the best solution. The first night I set it out I had no luck. After hearing it crawl up and down the wall that night, I decided that I was going to have to be a big girl and get a kill trap. I bought a couple of the house-type traps. On night seven I set out the live trap and two of the house traps. I could hear the darn thing as it got braver and braver in its wanderings.

Ah, there it was, the sound of something catching a cute little desert rat. I could only hope. I turned on the lights and there was the little culprit caught in my live trap. Ah-ha, I had prevailed. The mouse was still alive, I could only hope it was the only one. I duct-taped the ends of the live trap and put it outside until morning.

When morning came I took a half-mile walk into the desert and once I felt I was far enough from the rig, I opened the trap and the little rat ran into the desert to create a new home. I went back to my rig and got out of there before it could find its way back. Now I had to hope it was the only one.

As I have not heard anymore moving up and down the walls, I have gone back to my slovenly ways, leaving a few nuts, and fruit on the counter and so far nothing has touched them. The other day I was looking at my water pump which is hidden under a compartment inside the rig. I found little pieces of cloth and threads in there. I recognized what they belonged to. I cleaned those out, made sure the Fresh Cab was in place, and closed the compartment. Those pieces of thread and cloth certainly indicated that the little desert rat was making a home somewhere in the walls.

One day I was cleaning out one of the cabinets where my food is. There was more evidence it had been in that cabinet. It had bitten into the uncooked rice and chocolates. Chocolates! If I had known that earlier, the war would have escalated sooner. That cabinet is the only one with a hole in it. I moved all my canned and glass goods into that space and all other food moved into a cabinet with no entry points.

I think I have been successful.

Living this lifestyle presents unique challenges. I have to consider things I would not usually think about. It allows me to be creative in a thought-provoking way. It gives me a chance to meet up and win a challenge with a determined yet cute desert rat.

Today I am thankful that I was able to catch and release this little rat instead of killing it. Today I am thankful the rat is gone.

Saying Farewell

After two and a half months, today, I leave Whidbey Island. I am certainly leaving with mixed emotions. For those of you who have not been here, this place is amazing. And…while many of you are suffering in heat…it has been in the low seventies and beautiful here.

Each day Puget Sound sparkles below me. The Olympic Range shows in the distance. It is so relaxing and comfortable here. The sunsets continue to be amazing. I keep telling myself I do not need to take more photos of sunsets and each evening I, once again, will be out on the deck with my camera. I have enjoyed the opportunity to walk the beaches, kayak the lakes, and Sound and bike the byways.

Every day I see Mama deer walk through the yard with their fawns wandering behind. Yesterday I found a fawn laying and hiding in a flowerbed by the rig. We kept startling each other.

The sweet little sparrow still comes around every day. He sings at the windows and doors. I have tried to alienate him a bit but he is quite persistent. I was reading recently that young birds can attach themselves to humans. As they grow they will leave this attachment behind. I keep telling him I am leaving so hopefully he picks up on this vibe.

Yesterday I was over at the neighbors house visiting and saying farewell. I had left the front door open as I had been going in and out frequently. On my return to the house guess who was in the house? You guessed it. That little bird had taken the opportunity to check out my digs or to find his buddy. He was not happy because, of course, he could not figure out how to get back out. Ay Yi Yi. He did find his way out again with a little encouragement from me.

I will miss the water life. I will return. I love the north country in the summer. It is usually too hot to stay south for too long. I do look forward to visiting with family and friends that I have put off seeing due to covid. I am looking forward to the company on the thousand-mile drive south. All of it will be fun and a wonderful adventure. Yet I will look at all my photos with longing.

I feel so blessed by the people I have come to know since Jim’s death. I had no idea that buying my Roadtrek would open me to so many new and wonderful adventures. I had no idea I would meet and become friends with so many good and kind people. I had no idea I would be house sitting on Whidbey Island.

I am grateful that I have been able to stretch and reach beyond my comfort zone to embrace and live an unusual lifestyle. It has become quite the adventure.

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.

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.

 

Ward Revisited

Flight 93 National Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Dad & Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting ready to move on, Miss Elsie and me.

The End of Daylight Savings Time

Does anyone else dislike the shortening days of fall? I have found that for several years now, I am not as tolerant of the shortening days and the less brightness and warmth of the sun. Maybe I don’t like introspection. Maybe I just like more day light. I am certainly not looking forward to the end of daylight savings time. Whose idea is DST any how?

In many of the traditional cultures fall is the time to come inwards. It is a time of harvest and reap the rewards of hard labor. Preparation is on for winter. Without storing enough grains and foods you might not have enough to help your people make it through the coming long winter months. It was time to make sure that their homes were secure, there were enough blankets and bedding. It was a community affair. It was a busy time.

Many animals are also preparing for winter. They are gathering food stuffs for their nests. Bears are eating their fill, in preparation of sudo-hibernation in the lower 48. Birds and rodents are busy gathering nuts and seeds. Ants are doing the same.

Although my culture does not follow the traditional cultures, in many ways we do the same thing. My sister and her husband make sure they have enough wood for the winter, so they can stay toasty warm in their northern NJ home.

I grew up in a family where we put by food for the winter. August and September were spent canning our garden harvest. Although we could go to the grocery store, that old tradition of putting up food for the winter continued. We had a cold cellar to store all the canned goods and potatoes.

Spiritually, fall is also a time to come inwards. It is a time to reap what we have accrued over the past half year. It is a time to begin to come inward and begin to reflect on what we have sowed.

There are times I find it hard to come inward. It is then that I realize I still have a ways to go regarding grief and loss. I find I am more lonely now. Reflection is not always easy and yet necessary as long as it doesn’t drag me too far down. It is good to look at my progress. It is good to take time to be quiet. I just wish that the sun was not dimmer and the days were not shorter.

I am chasing the sun. I am now in southern New Mexico. I have spent the last week in Silver City, NM. The past two days I have been at the Gila Cliff Dwelling in Ruins. It is in the most amazing valley. Yesterday I saw the ruins and a spotted owl. It is interesting, the story of these native peoples. It is even more amazing to see where they lived.

Today I am hiking along the West Fork of the Gila River. It is definitely fall here. I am camped along the river at a natural hot springs. I go soak before I go to bed at night and when I get up in the morning. Not a bad way to contemplate life.

The Gila Cliff Dwelling Ruins

click on the images to enlarge

From here I will continue to head south. My goal is Big Bend National Park. And when I am done there I will be heading for San Diego for at least a few months. My relationship with my dentist continues. And, it is doctor time. I have all my annual visits coming up. It is another way of coming in after a year of basically feeling healthy, on-the-road.

I wait hopefully for the return of the longer days. I celebrate the winter solstice every year, even if it is in a quiet way. I look forward to the warming sun and the longer days. Knowing that is coming helps me make it through the fall and shortening days. Chasing the sun helps too.

I guess I should be more like Miss Elsie and find a sunny spot, curl up and take a nap. Not a bad idea.

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.

 

 

 

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.