Archives for posts with tag: love

Living in a sixteen foot travel trailer definitely qualifies as “tiny house” living believe you me! You MUST be comfortable with being organized and well oiled in order to get from one section of it to another as well as packing and rearranging your belongings.

I have always attempted to live in organized chaos. Raising two very challenging children alone made it a necessity because, although Carl, my son, leaned toward neatness, even he had his moments of scattered squirrel syndrome! My daughter, Ava, on the other hand, never had organized chaos. She preferred the purity of chaos out of fear of throwing something away which might be important…even junk mail…which I was to learn was a A.D.D. tendency. Ava’s father had that tendency as did my mother. My A.D.D. takes on other characteristics of the more “squirrel” variety…easily distracted by fast moving or shiny objects! However, living in this small space MAKES me stay focused because I could break my neck if anything is left on the floor or the frustration of never finding my pliers if I’m not diligent about vigilantly watching and putting things back every single time in the same place.

Therefore, I’ve developed a system of plastic removable varying sizes of drawers placed inside the cabinetry for dishes, seasoning, kitchen towels, silverware, etc. Having traveled the back roads of USA for ten years, I’ve learned you can’t predict the weather you’ll face so I’ve also developed the plastic tub way of packing for winter, spring, summer, shoes and miscellaneous needs. I use stacking baskets for immediate food needs combined with under seat storage for food supplies. And, although I got most of my organization right during my initial packing, I found the need to do a little tweaking each time I landed somewhere for more than an overnight stay or where I’d put new items when I bought something. At home, I have the rule that one new thing in means one old thing must go out. Not true here. Yet.

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Well, that rule ain’t working so well for me here as I’ve been lucky enough to hit up on some amazingly talented women here at the RV park in Bullhead City, Arizona who had true art for sale and I ain’t getting rid of nothing at this stage of the game.

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This is a throw that Linda made. She creates beautiful Southwest Art machine quilting!

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I asked her to make this wall hanging for me and she added some embroidery in places!

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I’m so in love this “table cloth” which will never see any table top! I love each of these!

Also be prepared to scale down your needs to just the necessities. I decided not to bring any pots or pans as my cooking, even at home, mostly consists of frozen meat nuked to perfection atop salad. In Utah for a month quickly taught me I’d over packed dishes, glasses and cups and winter clothing. But, in my defense, I’ve hit some pretty crazy weather these last ten years where I wished I had winter clothing handy. Note to self: Don’t pack a whole tub of it!

However, I do insist on making this trailer my home with my favorite things and I’ve done that with prints of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Toulouse and Matisse art on my walls next to pictures of Carl and Ava and their own art hung with those Command hangers. I have adorned my vent hood with Ava’s favorite refrigerator magnets and repurposed my shower to be my closet with sturdy adjustable, spring rods and a plastic hanging clothes organizer, now horizontal, on the shower floor to hold my immediate- needs clothes and shoes.

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And, as this is the first Christmas since 2007 I’ve been excited about decorating, I bought an eighteen inch $5.00 tree complete with decorations at the Family Dollar store when I was in Utah. I added a Wonder Woman skirt which I embellished with glitter glue, made Wonder Woman ornaments from the same fabric and coated local rocks with glitter glue to spank it all up with something local and fun.

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Wonder Woman Christmas Tree

 

As for driving through the Mohave Desert, don’t let the fact that most of it is on Interstate let it lull you into thinking there will be service stations or anything, for that matter, for miles and miles and miles! So, my rules are: watch your MPG average; fill up IF you see an exit with gas and hold on tight! I believe I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth repeating.

Also, don’t let the 70 MPH speed limit on these very straight expressways let you think you can drive any speed you want. If the winds 30-40 MPH winds with 60-80 MPH wind guts don’t slap you back into reality then the police will! The police may just not be where you think they should be! Just sayin’! Also, take plenty of water and food with you in the unlikely event of being stranded in one of those canyon vortexes where cell service just disappears when you need it most. I prefer to play it safe than sorry.

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California Mohave Desert

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I’m seeing, getting to know and meeting so many wonderful Wonder Women on my adventures this whole year! I’m also meeting some amazing Super Men, too! I’ve been trying to put together my story of meeting these Wonder People but their stories are too deeply layered to synopsize. It just wouldn’t do them justice. For starters, I can say I visited a new BFF in Victorville, CA who randomly invited me to join him and a friend of his to attend a grief group meeting. When they started sharing their stories, I was amazed at how diverse their grief was. The woman who started this group did so because she couldn’t find the right group twenty years ago so she created one! Losses were as long ago as decades (like my son’s death) to as recent as six months ago.

It was very special sharing my crazy journey with both Carl and Ava and discussing the subject of “the” book predicted twenty-five years ago which “we” are writing now. As it has always shown me, helping others find hope helps us. Too many were in deep depression and guilt over their grief struggles. I reached out to each with my cards for both this Blog  and Ava’s Corner, Inc. in the hopes they could find encouragement in either website and for them, with this loving reminder, to send me an email to let me know how they’re doing.

And, because I don’t believe in coincidences, the fact that the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” happens to be playing at this moment in time means I need to sign off and watch my all time favorite Christmas movie. When my sister and her daughters came to visit Mom’s, I made them sit down and watch it with me! I hope it’s a warm, fuzzy memory for them as it is for me. Yup. It is a wonderful life and I’m just starting to feel alive again and that ain’t bad. And, to think last year I thought I would never get out of being depressed over all the lost loved ones; the death of Montana, my Service Dog; or my future without all of them but this year I found those voids filled with love from existing and new sources! Praise God!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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Anyone who “knows” me knows I love to “spank” an area with color. It’s the art training and my DNA that creates this process which I find myself in at this writing. I’m in the process of “spanking” my Wolf Pup Travel Trailer into being Gypsy ready! All the browns and tans in it are depressing to me so I’m taking everything marigold and red I have in my home and spanking the heck outta my new soon-to-be home away from home.
 
This is the “before” part. It’s okay but horribly boring to this artist, writer, traveler, wanderer, gypsy spirit!
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First, I added memory foam to both the queen bed and the lower bunk and topped them  off with marigold and red as well as hiding some of the offending colors with Ava’s belly dancing scarves, a gauze drape from yesteryear and some favorite prints.
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I framed my favorite red and yellow Toulouse Lautrec, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’keeffe and Matisse prints and hung them all over the cabin. After all, this next journey is all about writing “the book” and I must keep the energy flowing inside and out!
 
I’m still pondering where to hang the last picture taken of Carl (my son), Ava (my daughter) and me taken in 1984 right before Carl disappeared. Gotta have the three of us together to get this book written properly. They both have already come to me in this past month tutoring me on how, what, where and when.
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The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in that same month.

 
Not to be left out would be a picture of my dad’s mom who joined Jenni and me on a part of our trip through Utah. She’s the one who insisted I go West to write this book. She said to head for the desert to write. Well, that was her thang. Mine is more prairie or canyon lands.
Grandma Irene was quite the renaissance woman who continuously re-invented herself as an actor, Deputy Clerk of Fulton County Superior Court, nurse, health magazine writer and writer of books of tales of the Old West from interviews of actual cowboys, outlaws, gold and silver miners and a free spirit outliving seven husbands! Reckon I know who Ava and I took after! 
Hattie (Harriett) Irene Friend (grandma)
Still need to find a place to put a picture of Montana as no trip is possible without her. I’m thinking of printing the one I took from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls soon after Ava died with the three rainbows behind her (although you can only see two in the photo below). Seems right now that she’s crossed that “rainbow” bridge and all.
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Montana had to have her picture taken with the double rainbow too!

As I don’t know how long I’ll actually keep this travel trailer, I am only making temporary modifications even though the desire to eradicate ALL the tans and browns slaps me in the face every time I walk inside. I will, however, refrain…maybe!

 

Happy Trails and Tales…until we meet again!

WOW! Lord knows I love a travel challenge! After all, I’ve driven over 130,000 miles alone on US Interstates, backroads and dirt roads to explore my country. I have been to eastern Canada before and had a rough time with the aggressive behavior of the drivers in and around Montreal as well as the poor directional signage. The signage from Montana to Canada wasn’t bad but confusing…even at the border…and staying on the only main east/west Canadian Highway 17 wasn’t even an issue as there were few or no options to get off!

That last two hundred miles to Sault Ste. Marie was a bugger of a drive because of the restricted 20 to 55 MPH speed limit (70 KmPH) depending on numerous (too many to count) stops and slowdowns due to construction of all kinds, dangerous curves, rough pavement, and so much more!

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Canada Hwy. 17 East

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More lakes!

Add to that way too many “squirrels” of the Donna variety also way too many to count: lakes, rock outcroppings, rivers, wildflowers, trees, disappearing roads, lake beaches, mountains and road signs!

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Disappearing roads

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Beach at the Lake?

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More lakes?

There are NO places to stop in that last 200 miles that are quickly discernible (you see them only when you pass them), no pull-off friendly shoulders (all down-sloped and graveled), vehicles on my bumper pushing me to exceed speeds I was already exceeding and way too much company to cop-a-squat (a friend just taught me this saying)!

By the 130th mile since my last stop, not only was my head swirling but my bladder was bursting. I had to find a place to stop or figure out how I was going to clean up my truck in time for my trip tomorrow to North Bay! So I pulled a “Dukes of Hazard” style brake and 90 degree swerve in an emergency action to a graveled cut off. It wasn’t until I could spell “relief” that I noticed huge cloven hoof prints all around my truck! I hope it wasn’t watching! That’s a lie. At that point, I didn’t care! LOL I tore that gravel up getting away from that moose/Sasquatch/Nessie whatever!

I was so road weary, I drove through KFC! By the way, all the KFC’s have moved from US and are now in Canada! They don’t have the same menu or great chicken, but it was protein, easy and no other real choices on the right side of the road before I collapsed into the entrance way of the hotel de jour!

Tomorrow? UGH! I sure hope the road to North Bay is better that the last 16 hours I’ve driven!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

 

 

My good friend, daughter-by-another-mother, confidant and outstanding travel companion just flew home to get back to work and her life. We almost cried at the airport but promised new adventures for another day and she’s already conjuring one up for next year! I miss my Jenni already.

However short in the greater picture, it was incredible in the amount of quality time, fun, laughter, insanity, states, cities, places we left our unique one-two-punch of us…two very confident, powerful, exciting women with great laughter and joy to share!

Today, we decided to go back to West Glacier to hike the one trail I wanted to revisit from my 2003 trip which was the Great Red Cedar trail.

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Where I come from, this AIN’T no creek!

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Western Red Cedar

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Along the Cedar Nature Trail

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Roaring water is a bit of an understatement!

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Temple of Hemlocks, Red Cedars and Cottonwoods

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My baby’s great great granddaddy! Too bad you can’t see how big the base of this Big Daddy is but figure two people can comfortably pass each other on this boardwalk and compare the width of that with the tree at the end. Four feet? 

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This HUGE boulder is covered in a lush carpet of moss. There again, tough to describe how big!

Tomorrow? Waterton Park and Prince of Wales National Historic site (just across the border of East Glacier) and then on to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Yeehaw!

Last but not least, some of Mother Nature’s art to ponder ’til we meet again!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK! PERSONALLY, I’LL TAKE ALL THREE!

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One bites the dust and leaves a most outstanding piece of art for us to love & enjoy…even if for a minute or two. Don’t you just love Mother Nature? If you don’t, try getting to know her before she’s been totally destroyed!

I’ve always loved seeing how the roads to/from destinations take on a different perspective much like how the Impressionists studied the same view in different light. Monet must have studied, drawn, painted Notre Dame 50 times for many hours to get the impact of the change in color and depth perception. That’s how I feel as I drive south on the I-15 to LA and back again. Wow! How the topography changes!

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North I-15 toward Vegas Baby

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North I-15 closer to Vegas Baby

The good news about my trip from LA back to Vegas Baby is that I, nor my car or TomTom, were abducted. It was smooth sailing out of town but I’ve left my heart. It’s okay, though, because it was never mine but belongs/belonged to others. JD has my heart and I’m so blessed to have his mama and daddy in my life for them to give me such a gift.

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JD – my beautiful, old soul, step-grandson (although I claim him as my grandson)

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JD & me. Wow. I miss him so much! And, yes, I’m very tired even after lots of sleep and relaxation. I guess I’ll get caught up when I’m home and that’s okay by me!

My beautiful, talented daughter, Ava, continues to bring new Chirrens to me. I’d met Kev in a Messenger long-distance way through Ava’s friend, Elisa Furr, who I visited recently in Branson doing her Celine Tribute performance at the Legends in Concert. Kev had a great deal to say to me that night from Ava. No great surprise to me, Elisa or anyone else who knows how vocal she’s been these last five years!

As Kev lives between LA and Vegas Baby, we’d planned a real visit. Boy oh boy! What a visit! He walked in with confirmation messages from Ava that only a very few of us know about…like the name I gave her at birth, that she and Mom called themselves the  “September Girls” because of their birthdays being in that month, that Edwin (my dad), Carl and others were all there in a great big family reunion!

Ava told him to ask about the rocks. I said I was a rock-aholic and Mom, Carl, Ava and I had always collected rocks. But Kev said she was now telling him about a stick or pole that stood upright in the rocks and it hit me! The Zen Memory Garden I built for Ava!

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Focal Point is the Heart-of-Pine standing tall with the help of the rocks Carl brought back from his mine 45 years ago.

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Kev said the “Pole” pointed toward a star. Yes it does! Sirius…the star which got my attention by tapping out morse code like signals to me each night that first year!

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Kev asked about the “beach” and shells. Well to the left of the triangle are the shells Mom, Carl, Ava and I had collected over many years of going to our favorite Florida beach.

I hauled no less that 400 pounds of sand and 600 pounds of pebbles up the hill to create this in her memory. All the pebbles scattered in her garden represent the love she has for others and they have for her. The space in the sand triangle is the time she and I had…way too short but amazing and precious forever.

And when I thought it couldn’t get any more amazing, Kev says, “Carl says, ‘I’m there too!'” Yes! Carl has a memory garden as well. Kev says, “It’s below Ava’s…like down a hill.” Yep! Nailed it again! It sits just below her garden down a the hill to his left just like in the last picture taken of us three.

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The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in the same month this was taken.

But it’s all good because Christ has told us that (paraphrased) “in my Father’s house, there are many rooms, if it were not so, I’d tell you.” We’re not to know everything because if we were, we’d know more than just 10% of the brains function or more than 3% about DNA or the miracles of two cells joining to form children or pets.

I believe Mother Earth is a living, breathing entity which must be respected. When she exhales, we get volcano;, when she inhales, we get earthquakes; when she gets hot flashes, we get rising temperatures (not to discount our own donations to this very real reality). How do I know? Because if you study geology, history (ancient and more recent), you can’t help but see the truth. Plus, God has told us so. Every thing is precious.

Next, you may ask? Canyons and cowboys, oh yeah! Yeehaw!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS! YOUR PICK!

As I traveled through the middle of northern Oklahoma’s wheat fields into the lush mountains and valleys of northeastern New Mexico to finally stop in the arid terrain of Santa Fe in such a short period of time, is always exciting and underlines why I do what I do…the backroads of our wonderful, diverse country.

As an amateur geologist, I LOVE to see the result of millions of years of erosion which  emphatically defines the dynamics behind the peak formations of mountains…striations of different rocks forced in vertical, instead of horizontal positions. The drive from Albuquerque to Las Vegas is one of the finest areas to experience this natural phenomina.

The driver from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, however, defines a vastly different natural occurrence of underwater ocean beds of the dryest terrain varying from vast salt beds and desert to arid mountains and valleys.

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This what greeted me as I left the desert of Nevada and crossed over into California!

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And this is when I knew LA was near!

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I knew I was getting close to LA when a pack of about thirty motorcycle gangers went whizzing between lanes on the expressway going about 90 MPH! That, and the insane expressway traffic of $200,000 cars pulling Speed Racer tricks in and out of lanes to get five feet closer to an exit lane confirmed (as if there was any doubt) that I was approaching LA.

As I neared my destination (45 miles outside LA), I was abducted by aliens. I’m sure that could be the only reason why my phone stopped working, my Bluetooth didn’t recognize  my phone, my GPS (Tom) sent me around in circles telling me to go in a direction only to have me immediately exit to go back from when I came and never got any closer than that same 45 miles to Rachel (my LA daughter-by-another-mother)! Tom never adjusted the distance to Rachel nor did my gas gauge change from a quarter of a tank during this time warp.

In all fairness to Tom (my GPS) has taken me close to 150,000 miles of backroads and interstates since I started in 2009 and this is a first. Finally, after being on every interstate, state road and street between me and Rachel for over an hour, I called her to find out what roads I needed to take. I admit to surprising the urge to throw Tom (my GPS) out the window. But remembering that he has a 99.9% success rate and I do love Tom, I realized his malfunction wasn’t his fault at all but the result of an alien abduction. After I told on him to Rachel, he straightened right up and got us on the right road.

When I finally got on the right road (I-10 W), Tom kept saying, literally every miles and a half, “stay in the left lane” over and over and over again like I was the one who screwed up! Humph!

I got to Rachel’s and my phone worked but my Bluetooth never recovered but I certainly did the minute I saw my special angel, Rachel. I’ve loved her from the first moment I met her at age eleven. I walked into her home full of angels! Rachel, her wonderful husband and baby are very special people to me. It’s a safe haven of acceptance, love and respect.

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Rachel, Noah and Itty Bit

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A loving daddy!

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My angels! See us in the mirror?

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The three of us!

I am truly blessed! Thank you, my loves, for being you!

Next? I go back to Vegas, Baby to pick up the Queen of Electra Brass (Jenni Lee) to take our annual trip to new and exciting places!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!