Ten Years


Ten years ago on October 17, my partner, husband, best friend and so much more, died. He had just turned sixty and just like that his life on this planet was over.

it amazes me that it is ten years. There are times it feels like yesterday. Then I look at the ten-year mark and am amazed. Where did this time go? How can it be ten years? Wasn’t it just last year that I dove headfirst into grief? And how can it be ten years and I still miss him so?

I will continue to make a commitment to his memory and my grief and loss at this time of year. It helps me acknowledge one of the highlights of my life on this planet. It allows the grief that is often floating somewhere deep below the surface to be acknowledged and loved as a part of who I am as a whole person.

Jim was a unique and special part of my life. He showed up at thirty-eight years of age, at a time when I was sure I was going to remain single for my whole life. He turned that one around. We were a team. I never thought I would meet someone who I was so compatible with.

It is not that we didn’t have relationship issues from time to time, we were both stubborn. We wanted to make this relationship work and we knew that it was of value to both of us. It was more than of value to me. He saw me in a way that no other has ever seen me.

  • I was a person of value.
  • For the first time, someone thought I was beautiful and sexy. (ooh it is still hard to say or type that last word)
  • What I said mattered.
  • He encouraged my art and although I have changed art forms since his death, his encouragement has continued to push me forward to explore new mediums.
  • Jim allowed me to see that the whole world was open to me. I could do so much when I had his support and love.
Jim & Janet

Since his death, I have realized that our relationship was unique and special. There were not the struggles that many describe when they speak of their relationships. We laughed together, tackled the hard stuff together, and when we hit a roadblock (otherwise known as stubbornness) we sought counseling and support so we could grow and move on. And we grew so much together. As Jim often said, “We’re a team”.

Jim was a supporter of higher education. He devoted his whole working life to helping students achieve. To honor this part of him I started the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. He believed that all could excel in college and there was no better honor that I could give to him than a scholarship that was inclusive of most students. The scholarship changes per each annual semester, one semester it is applied to the Arts and Humanities and the next semester it is applied to the Social Sciences.

If you would like to donate to the Scholarship, no donation is too small, please click below and you can help another student realize their dream.

The Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship

I am blessed and honored to have been a team with Jim. I miss him still and I acknowledge how much richer my life is because of him.

As I manage my way through another October, I know that I have the loving support of so many. For each of you, I am so grateful for your ongoing presence in my life.Thank you.

The Bumps & Dents of RV Ownership

The places we have been

A month after I bought my sweet little Roadtrek I had my first incident. What made me decide to back the rig into the driveway of my home in Santee is beyond me. I was still learning how to drive the RV forwards. Slowly I backed into the driveway only to hear a loud pop. I dented the rear passenger-side door and broke the glass. I was devastated. I felt like the worst RV owner in the world. How could this have happened? Oh, the shame!

The window was easily fixed but the dent has remained an ever-present eyesore. I swore one day I would get it fixed.

Throughout the years of ownership, I have added a few dents and bangs to my little home on wheels. There was that one night, in the dark, when I took the corner too sharp into a campsite. There was another little dent in the rig. Trees are often my nemesis. I have gotten better driving it and the incidences have calmed down, except….I have met up with a few curbs that were not my friends. I can proudly say I have, with the help of Jeff Curry, learned how to fix the steps with a bit of fiberglass, sanding, and paint. I am getting good at these repairs.

Mary & Me in the Anza Borrego Desert

Then there was the time in 2016, I drove over a rock, well maybe a small boulder, in the Home Depot Parking lot in Crescent City, CA. When I backed off the rock I took some of the bumper off the front end. With the loving help of a local auto repair shop and two very nice RV’ers who stopped to help, we fixed it so I could ride into Medford, OR to a body repair shop. I was devastated and embarrassed. I also felt a warm glow for how nice people were to help me. The positive outcome of this incident I met my friend Mary, who put me up in her home for a week. We have been friends, ever since. We meet up, usually once a year to play in the desert or on the rivers. I don’t regret this side trip to Medford, not one bit, except the bumper. Sigh.

Right after the 2016 election, I was to pick up Cat at the Mexican border. Remember Cat? She bicycled the west coast of the United States that summer. I was her sag wagon. Elsie and I accompanied her and her two dogs on a summer adventure. The day I picked her up I was a bit upset with the election results and probably shouldn’t have been driving. I drove out of a parking lot and ran into one of those side arms that let you in and out of the lot. I dented the driver’s side of the van deeply. I finally had to admit defeat and contacted my auto insurance company. I was fortunate, none of the water or propane were affected. It became a repair of the body only. It was an expensive repair and boy oh boy did I feel bad. I felt so bad about this one that this is the first public admission of the above-said incident.

Driving down a Chicago alley

Two years ago as I was returning to the west coast I visited my friends in Rogers Park, Chicago. They let me park in their parking space, down an alley, and into a gated parking lot. I have successfully managed it in the past. In 2019 I was not so lucky. See, there was this garbage bin….I dented my side sliding door and up to this point I have lived with it. Each time I look at that dent I feel sad that I did that to my little home.

After I sold my property in Colorado I decided to take advantage of some of the income and fix my major bumps. I retained money from the sale to get this expensive body-work done. I have put it off. About a month ago my side door got stuck closed. At least it was closed. When I stopped by the Sprinter Shop they were able to open it, yet I was told that the latch might be off because of the dent in the door.

It was time. Today my sweet little rig has been in the shop for a week. The side door and the back door are getting repaired. I may be without it for up to 4 weeks. They are busy. I guess others have had the same idea since we are Covid restricted and are getting things fixed.

I have learned valuable lessons from the above incidences.

  • I usually drive three to four hours a day at the most.
  • If I am distressed about something then maybe not driving for a few days is a good idea.
  • Don’t drive when I am tired.
  • I take time to really look at campsites. It is good to get out of the rig a few times to make sure everything is free and clear.
  • The most valuable lesson is to admit I am human. These things happen. It does no good to berate myself and feel unworthy. These things happen! It is time to get rid of the embarrassment and try to do a better job the next time.

I am thankful today that I am staying with Cynthia and Ward so that my rig can be lovingly taken care of. It is good to have friends who love and support me and give me a room in their home.

Driving the Backroads

I am thankful that I have the money for these repairs. I know others who are not in this situation. It is a bit humbling to admit this when I know others are struggling to make ends meet. Hmm, maybe it would be a good idea to donate some money to organizations that are helping those in need. Yes, definitely a good idea.

I have finally come clean about my dinging adventures with this lovely little rig. She has over 100,000 miles on her. I hope it will put on many more as I live this lifestyle. Hopefully with fewer dings.





A Break in Time


4 Desert Divas

This past weekend I met up with a two other Roadtrekers, Mary and Linda,  in the Anza Borrego Desert. There were four of us for part of the weekend as a local friend of mine, Phyllis came out for Friday night. We hiked, we toured, we laughed and had wonderful conversations. The wild flowers were in full bloom. It was a great time for photographers to be out in the desert.

As we were returning from our last hike together, I slipped on some loose scree and fell hard. The results? I fractured my right ankle. As I am lying in the middle of the jeep road, well thank my lucky stars, here comes a jeep. The couple in the jeep lifted me on board and drove me the two miles to the trail head and Linda’s Roadtrek. I crawled on board, laid on the floor, with my foot elevated and iced. Thank goodness for the RV lifestyle.

one break on the outside- one break on the inside

one break on the outside- one break on the inside

After double ace wrapping my ankle I actually was able to drive home. (Maybe not the best idea but the most convenient). Phyllis met me in the driveway and drove me to the Emergency Room. It was orthopedic night. I guess everyone shows up from their adventures over the weekend. Ah the weekend warriors.

Now I sit with my foot elevated, splinted and wrapped until after my appointment today. I am also on no weight bearing. I am getting used to crutches.

I have had my share of injuries over the past six years. Jim was still alive when I injured myself before. Now I am on my own. It is different. When someone is around on a daily basis, there is always help when I need it, someone to prepare meals, drive the infirmed, me, places. Now I have to figure it out on my own. It makes it a bit harder and I have to be a bit more creative.

I am re-discovering again, the fact that I have good friends. Phyllis was supportive and patient during the initial wait in the emergency room. She also helped me clean out my Roadtrek. Yesterday some work friends, Yvonne and Annie,  showed up with food and conversation. Today, another friend, Janet is driving me to my first appointment. Oh my goodness, I am so thankful for friends. All we can do is help and support each other. Every day I am thankful that I am cared about.

I am trying to do as much as I can on my own. I feel a need to challenge myself to do my daily life. My desk chair has become a good friend. It has wheels, I can wheel it around the kitchen to prepare my meals. I also wheel it around the house when I weary of my crutches. I am not immune to crawling. I have found that is a good way to get around too. It is OK to be humble.

The dilemma of a single person is certainly in the forefront of my mind. There are many of us out there, in the world. When you have a partner there is often a false sense of security. I always assumed Jim would help me out. Now that he is not here I have to be creative in figuring out solutions. In the next few days I plan to start investigating services that might be of use to me. Some of the local grocery stores have home delivery. How do I get around? What if I want to go to the library or a coffee house? Unfortunately I live in an area with limited bus service. Uber might come in handy.

What about exercise? I am not one to sit around. I don’t mind having my foot up for a few days but then I want to move. Gary, has offered me his knee scooter and I think that would be a good solution. A scooter is certainly a better solution for me to go a bit further afield, down to the end of the street to get my mail. I can do some yoga poses so I will continue to practice. Maybe I will even adventure to the gym for some upper body work. I hope they will let me in.

I am so glad that the house has not gone on the market yet. I can delay that. Thank goodness. Right now I am set up in the living room in Jim’s and now my favorite big red Lazy Boy chair. I have the computers close by, the phone is my best companion, and I can see the finches at the feeder outside. I also have four library books sitting next to the chair. Now that is what I call a good set up.

Living alone is easy when one is healthy and able to take care of themselves 100%. With on little slip that can change in an instant. So here is what I know.

  • Ask for help. Be as independent as possible but never, ever be too proud to ask for help.
  • It is good to have friends.
  • Get a good rolling chair in your house, seriously, it helps so much.
  • Ask your HMO for services to help you out. I plan to do that this morning.
  • Investigate your resources.
  • If not on a good diet make yourself get on one. Food heals. This is an important one for me. I have not been very good regarding eating as a single person. Now it will become one of my focuses.
  • Drink plenty of water. That helps heal too.
  • Apple TV helps. I can watch a lot of current movies and documentaries.
  • Get some good books to read.
  • Now is the time to catch up on the chores I don’t want to think about, update all the financial stuff, balance the checkbook, pay bills, clean the desk off while sitting in my rolling chair.
  • Have the phone nearby so I can talk to friends and make calls with minimal effort.
  • Keep the spaces clear in the house so I have a good path for said chair and crutches.
  • And don’t mope, it could always be worse. I haven’t done the moping part yet and I don’t plan to.
  • ASK FOR HELP-this is the one I need to remember most of all.

    Linda, Phyllis, and Mary

    Linda, Phyllis, and Mary

I always thought that as I got older personal growth would slow down. I would have reached “it” whatever that is. Instead, every day I am growing as an individual on this planet. This is one more life lesson for me. Why I needed it might not be clear and that is OK. I find I need to accept this latest incident as just another place to discover thankfulness and gratefulness. Even though it has only been a few days, already, I am soooooo…..grateful to so many. Grateful to Yvonne who stepped in at the last minute to take a tour I was suppose to lead this week. Grateful for Nancy who fixed my fence last night so Miss Elsie the cat can still venture into the yard. Grateful to that couple who picked me up and drove me two miles down the hill. Grateful to Linda and Mary for all their assistance. Grateful to Phyllis who is always there when I need her. Grateful to Gary who is going to loan me his knee scooter. Grateful to everyone else who is out there loving and supporting me as I continue to explore the life of the single person. Sigh.

And here is why I was in the desert in the first place.

Desert Sun Flowers

Desert Sun Flowers

Sand Verbena

Sand Verbena


Desert Primrose


Desert Liliy

Desert Lily

How I Am Doing

Jim & Janet on the lower Colorado

Jim & Janet on the lower Colorado

I have managed to get through another birthday and another anniversary of Jim’s death with grace. Since these two dates are 24 hours apart it is hard to mention one without the other. I am not sure that I will ever mark another year without connecting it with the other mark on the calendar. And, it is OK.

I know my last post was about Jim and the scholarship, yet I never thought of mentioning how I am doing. Now that I have been asked by several people, I thought I would try to answer that question here. Since you have been such a faithful audience over the last few years maybe you would like to know and if not, that is fine too.

I am doing OK. Some days, I am doing great, others not as great but not bad either. I am glad to say that I am doing more than just surviving. I would like to think and feel that I am embracing life as much as I can on each given day. Sometimes it is more than others. I, however, am not sitting in my house with the curtains drawn.

Jim and I always embraced life. It was one of the things I liked about him. We were always able to marvel at life and the world. I want to continue doing that. My RV is certainly helping me achieve this. Miss Elsie the cat is also helping me achieve this. All my friends, near and far, help. Everything helps.

Miss Elsie

Miss Elsie












Grief is a funny thing. There are days when it is strong and there are more days when it is not. Someone once told me that grief softens over time. I would agree with this statement. I like the mental image that creates for me. I am not sure if grief ever completely goes away. Now I am not sure about this because, I am traveling through it and not observing it from afar. Sometimes I think it is gone and then it shows up again. If grief is going to continue to present itself to me in my life then I would like to think there is a way to make it my ally. One definition of an ally is to form or enter into an alliance with. If I can make it an ally I can grow with it and let it teach me and maybe then it won’t grip me so strongly, when it presents itself.

Grief will definitely be a continuing part of my life. As I age things happen to people I know. If fortunate, when I reach the age that my father reached (95) I may know no-one my age as I may be the oldest still around. I wonder as I reach into my 60’s how my parents and friends in their 70’s and 80’s reach an acceptance that death is a natural progression of life. I know that I am not there yet.

If you read this blog, you know what I have been up to in the past year. Traveling is certainly a big part of my life. I love to see what is out there and learn new things. Exploring will certainly continue to be a part of my life. As long as I can move I will venture off to see new places and visit those beloved places as well.

Me * RT

Me * RT

Since Jim’s death I have avoided large groups of people. They have overwhelmed me and I am not comfortable there. This year I have decided to put myself out there a bit more and try out larger groups of people. It is kind of like trying on clothes; if they fit then I may keep them and if they don’t; I will put them back. My first adventure into this realm was riding in the “Bike the Coast” event two weekends ago, in northern San Diego. The biking was fun. After the ride I met two very nice women. We sat in the shade and talked. I felt like this adventure out into the broader world was a success for me.

I want to take advantage of the groups that meet around the greater San Diego area and try them out. It feels like I am also testing out what it feels like to be single. Until this point of time I have not felt single, or married, or widowed. I have been just living and being. I am not sure what being single is, it has been so many years yet, like groups I might just try them on for size and see what if feels like.

This year I want to focus on abundance in my life. I want to know that I am open to abundance in all it’s unique and unusual forms. I want to continue to be thankful for each day and for the people who help support and lift me up. Without all those known and unknown to me who have encourage and supported me I know I would not be as far along as I am in discovering the latest chapter in my life.

Today I am open to receive abundance in my life.

Today I am thankful for making an ally of grief.

Today I am thankful for those who love me and support me, no matter what.

Today I am thankful.

Birding in Patagonia….Arizona

Have you ever been to Patagonia??? Arizona??? I just returned from a week in southern Arizona visiting my friend Cat. Remember her…she was biking across the United States with her two dogs. She got as far as east of Tucson and had to change her goals once again.

Cat's home

Cat’s home

Cat’s doctors informed her that the “Bike across America” would need to go on an indefinite hold. She was without a home and wasn’t sure what to do. Cat fell in love with my small Roadtrek RV. Thinking that an RV would give her a home anywhere she wanted to be…she bought a 5th wheel (much bigger than mine) and moved in.

For the foreseeable future Cat is making Patagonia home. I decided that seeing her new RV was worth the drive and the visit. It was a great re-connection. When I arrived Dory the dog, came running out and up to the door of my RV and waited for it to magically open. She really likes me and my home on wheels. You might remember a previous post where I met up with Cat and the pups in Yuma.

What a fun 5 days that was. I have learned that people go to Patagonia to bird watch. I mean these are serious birders, folks. For a 5 day stretch I became a birder too, and, it was fun. There are a lot of birds there, of all kinds. We hiked the Nature Conservancy Reserve with  binoculars in hand. We went back to the Paton House, managed by the Audubon Society three times while I was there. For five days my binoculars were around my neck and my camera was close at hand.It was so relaxing and fun.


Violet Crowned Humming Bird


Gambles Quail



Yellow Rumped Warbler

When I was young I was in the 4-H. One of my projects was bird watching. I remember it as a time when I had a close connection to my mom, as she helped me with this project. I have never lost the interest in wild life. I have found that since Jim’s death, I have become interested in birds again. There is something soothing about watching birds. And…they  are such pretty colors. Being outside also is another bonus for me. It is a challenge to photograph them.

Cat & Janet at Paton's

Cat & Janet at Paton’s

Spending time  with Cat was also special. She and I mutually inspire each other. Our friendship is new so we are still learning about each other. I love our conversations. They are so easy and natural. Her sense of adventure exceeds mine, although I could be right behind her. She is an example of taking one day, one hour, one minute at a time and never, ever giving up. This is a reminder to me as I age, gracefully, I hope, to be willing to accept the changes that occur in life and if need be, change course. I don’t need to stop just change course.

Friendships are important. Each one is of such great value to me. I would have been very alone without my friends to support me and helping me to keep looking forward. Mostly I am happy they are more than willing to come along with me and have fun and explore our world. Each trip I take reminds me again of the value of good friends. And…I am thankful.

Cat & Janet

Cat & Janet

For those of you who are reading my blog you will notice something new. On the left side bar is now a button that says Go Fund Me. This is something new I have started at the suggestion of friends to help raise money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship. This is a scholarship honoring my husband’s dedication to education. It is a quick and easy way to donate anything from $1 on up.

One Year Tomorrow



Sunday, November 17th, 2012 eighteen good people took Jim’s ashes to sea. Jim had requested being buried in the Pacific Ocean and so on an incredibly beautiful, sunny day we took him to sea. We sailed on the Aolani, a 58’ Sunchaser American Catamaran with a wonderful crew.

The week prior to this sailing I worried. It was a blustery and cold week here in San Diego and we had rain. They were predicting rain for that Saturday So I fussed and worried. On Saturday morning I got up and the sky was filled with clouds and sun. We were a go. At 10 am The Aolani sailed with all 18 on board. Even my 88 year old mother-in-law, Dotty, went out front and sat on the rigging. As we set sail the clouds disappeared and the sun shone down on a glassy, quiet ocean. It was amazingly beautiful. Sailing out the boat was accompanied by 2 dolphins and it was perfect.

Barbara & Henry

Barbara & Henry who helped make this day happen.

Beth singing Simple Gifts

Beth singing Simple Gifts

Reaching past Point  Loma the motor shut down and we all improvised a ceremony to say farewell to this kind and wonderful man. Therese read a song in Japanese. Beth sang Simple Gifts. Cynthia handed out carnations which we tossed into the water with the bio-degradable urn that held the ashes. Henry emptied a bottle of Guinness Stout and Dotty tossed a small bell that Jim had been given at his birth. I like to think that the Dolphins now have that small bell.  Jim’s best friend, Brian and I floated the ashes out to sea. Everyone that was aboard that day felt the specialness of the occasion. It was a very unique moment in time, fitting for Jim who was a unique being.

Drew, mom, Judy, Janet, Beth & Michael

Drew, mom, Judy, Janet, Beth & Michael

Therese reading

Therese reading




After we said farewell we went inside and ate chocolate. This was also fitting for the man who loved good chocolate. For two hours, on one day a bond was formed by everyone who was present on board this catamaran. We shared in a perfect moment in time. Even though it was hard and melancholic it was also perfect. I could not have been with a finer group of people. Their support was and still is so lifting and loving. I am loved by good people and I honor them.

Brian preparing to send Jim out to sea

Brian preparing to send Jim out to sea

floating on a calm sea

floating on a calm sea

When we returned to port Dotty and my sister-in-law, Judy started the drive north. They got about one  hour north of San Diego and were in the rain for the rest of the trip to Los Angeles. Ah, there was the rain we were expecting. It made me feel like we were surrounded in a bubble of perfection that only could have been here and on that bay for that one day.

I wanted to share with you this event in my life and the lives of the eighteen that rode with me. Everything except the boat ride was unplanned and spontaneous. It became a perfect farewell to a good man. By the end of these two hours at least two people planned to changed their will because this was so beautiful and  right. Was everyone there that wanted to be? No. I feel that those who needed to be on board the Aolani that day, were there.

I have been emotionally all over the place this past week. When the anniversary of his death was marked a month ago, it was not hard. I have been experiencing so many different emotions over this past week. I miss Jim. I miss his voice, our conversations, his arms and the fun we had together. I carry him very close at times as I am settling into this new lifestyle. I am allowed to miss him and I am allowed to move on. I can do all this  at the same time and it is OK. After I met him I never expected that I would be by myself so soon again. And yet, here I am. And I am doing OK. And I miss him.


Today I am thankful for the perfect moments I have experienced in my life. I am so thankful for my friends and their on-going love and support. I am more fully human right now than I have ever been before in my life. And…so are you. Jim is now swimming with the dolphins. When I go to the Pacific I see him everywhere and that is good. I hope somewhere someone is ringing that small bell.