Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

I have mentioned this before but it is well worth repeating again because it is happening more and more often these days. Because Michael is now home most of the time, Callie has gotten to know him much better and she has fallen in love with him like never before. Years ago, she liked him enough, but her relationship with him these days is on a whole other level. I will always be her first love, but a secret affair is much more exciting and fun for her. Callie has always demanded that when I go to bed at night, that she follow me upstairs to tuck me in. If I stay up later than usual, she becomes visibly agitated and tries to herd me to bed at my usual time.

Once I do decide to go to bed, up the stairs we climb after giving Michael a kiss and saying goodnight to him because he always stays up much later than me. When I am all settled in and I stop tossing and turning, she sneaks back out to be with him. She also likes to get me up early in the morning so that once I am up and sipping coffee, she runs back up the stairs to crawl back in bed with her secret beloved.

The other night I devised a little experiment of my own to see what she would do once I quieted down. I squinted my eyes and stayed really still in order to spy on her. We always begin our nightly ritual wrapped in each other’s arms with her purring loudly and me petting her soft fur and telling her what a good kitty she is. But once I stop moving, Callie will creep over to the foot of the bed and wait for a few minutes glancing back repeatedly. If she thinks that I have fallen asleep, she’ll jump off the bed and walk slowly and quietly to the door.

This time I watched her carefully and I noticed that she looks back at me several times with her tail flicking spasmodically and pauses just a second or two before racing out the door and down the stairs. As soon as she left, I texted Michael to let him know that she was on her way and to expect her soon. She adores cuddling with him while he works on his laptop.

She can’t be discovered though and will jump up nervously and spring to the floor if I come into the room and discover her in his lap. There is something very attractive to Callie about this clandestine affair and she much prefers to keep it a secret and not out in the open for all to see.

The Trials and Travails of Aging.

I am always delighted to share stories about my travels with Callie but thought that this morning I would interject a short piece on the trials and travails of aging. It is a privilege to grow older considering the alternative, but because I was so accident prone throughout most of my life, I am now suffering the consequences of these past injuries.

Tomorrow I have a neurosurgeon appointment to determine what can be done about the advancing numbness in both my hands and feet.* I suspect that two injuries, in particular, are to be blamed, but we shall see. Both were caused by numerous moves that were made in the past and my desire to do the heavy lifting all by myself. I was gifted with physical strength but not the good sense to ask for help when it was needed. I have wrestled with king size mattresses and table tops that weighed over 300 lbs and must now stare at them and resist the urge to force them into other positions all on my own. Asking for help isn’t one of my better features, but I had better learn to do so soon.

Just the other day I wanted to move my bed about 4 feet over to the other side of the room so that I could make space for a loveseat that once repositioned, would sit next to a balcony overlooking my desert pond. What could possibly go wrong? As I pushed and shoved and nothing happened, I looked down to find out that while the box springs and mattress were on wheels, the headboard was firmly anchored to the floor. I immediately felt a zing in my lower back and the numbness radiated all the way up to my knees. This is a flare-up of the old injury I received when forcing the 300-pound glass table top up and over and onto a rattan stand with my right thigh. As soon as I did it, I knew that I had hurt my back. What an idiot I am and you just have to wonder what it will take for me to once and for all get the lesson in life that I have to be more careful. Since moving furniture injuries top the list, automobile accidents and riding a free horse are much more exciting to talk about though!

Here is a quick rundown of some of the more memorable accidents I have experienced in the past!

I was hit by a car in 2nd grade while riding my bicycle; I came flying down an alleyway and pedaling as fast as I could to keep up with my older sister who was in front of me shouting, “clear if your hurry, dead if you don’t!” I attempted to make it across safely on my bike with a station wagon bearing down on me. Suffice it to say, I didn’t hurry fast enough and I suffered a head injury when the car and I collided and I was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Yes, my sister got into a lot of trouble that day but I did survive to tell the tale and relish all the attention I received for being a victim of such abuse. We both laugh about it now!

A head-on collision occurred when I was 21 years old and I was trying to make a left-hand turn while returning home from work at a local hospital in my Ford Comet. The road had narrowed from a 4 lane to 2 and I was just far enough over, and daydreaming when the car in the opposite direction collided with mine. My car was totaled! It probably saved my life because it was built so compact and sturdy, but I only had a lap belt on and my forehead hit the steering wheel. This time, my life flashed before my eyes, but I, fortunately, lived to see another day. Once again, I was rushed to a hospital by ambulance and this time, with a serious gash above my left eye.

Many years later, and since I had not learned yet another vital lesson, (listen to your inner voice) my younger sister had heard about a free horse that we absolutely needed to check out! Who could resist a free horse? When we arrived to find out that the horse was stabled in a backyard in the middle of a neighborhood, there were plenty of warning signs that my sister and I both promptly ignored. For example, the saddle was ancient and the leather, stiff and cracked and the owner’s raced inside and closed the curtains as we got ready. I saddled up anyway with Gayle holding the reins and asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this. “Sure, I replied!” Once on his back he pranced around with pent-up friskiness and enthusiasm while I attempted to balance myself properly. We circled around several times as I pushed down hard on the stirrups; this was another fatal move on my part. I was soon thrown off backward of course, still gripping the saddle between my knees because the cinch strap had broken when the horse, just being a horse, had gently crow-hopped with delightful energy. I was not aware that I was going down, but I did throw my arm out instinctively behind me as I fell and when I landed, I heard the snap and crunch of bone and thought that I had refractured my tailbone, ( this is another story for another time!)

Once on the ground, I turned around to locate the source of the loud cracking sound, and noticed that my wrist was in the shape of a U and did not look normal to me. I quizzically looked around to figure out what had happened because I still had the saddle underneath me but the horse was standing on the other side of the pen with my sister. I then looked closer and upon inspection I saw that my sister was staring back at me with horror. I realized then that I had fractured my wrist and got up slowly before the pain descended and brushed myself off with my good hand. We were only told afterward that the gelding hadn’t been ridden in many years and was probably just super excited about the prospect of being rescued and a chance to escape its backyard pen.

This time I didn’t arrive at the hospital by ambulance but only because my sister had to nervously drive me there herself after grabbing a bag of frozen peas off of the stunned owners who were hiding in their kitchen. I am sure they were worried about being sued. She then placed the bag on my horrifically swollen wrist and we set off in a controlled panic to the hospital which was about 40 minutes away.

So the moral of the story is that if you are going to make it to old age and only have aches and pains to complain about, but thankfully not cancer or other diseases, you must learn from your past mistakes and try not to repeat them. I hope that this message becomes loud and clear to me before I succeed in accidentally killing myself. But who knows, only time will tell.

In the meantime, here are some cute images of Callie enjoying her life in the RV as I write and post photographs in 500px!

* The appointment was rescheduled for April. There was a mixup with my health insurance. I am a firm believer in healthcare for all. A healthy society and a strong middle-class are paramount to a thriving economy and country. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Travels with Callie

I am documenting my life on the road with a beautiful calico cat named Callie. My husband and I are sharing this experience with her in a 24 ft Class C Icon RV. It has been a rich and extraordinary several years on and off the road and I look forward to many more to come.

And because I am an avid photographer, and due to the obvious fact that Callie is so photogenic, I have upgraded my site to business so that I can have unlimited storage. I was recently given a Nikon D850 from my husband of 41 years for my birthday, and I am now shooting in RAW. This means that my images will be in a much larger format and they will take up a lot more room.

I want to once again personally thank all of my viewers past and present for following me on this unique adventure. I propose a toast to good health and another fun year of travel and adventure with Callie the cat!

Peeping Thomasina

Callie is very averse to meeting new cats! She does not like them but also doesn’t wish to fight if at all possible. She is bold though and if I am hanging around outside to back her up, she will run the neighborhood beach kitties off of her property. She also screams at full volume if a cat dares to come up to introduce itself. The boys are always smitten by her good looks, and the girls seem puzzled by her anti-social attitude. Shouldn’t girls stick together, they say?

So I have devised a fabulous plan where she can feel safe in the RV, but also check out the goings on of her small town neighborhood by hanging herself out the kitchen table window and spying. Just call her,” Peeping Thomasina” It is a win-win for all!

Life in the Desert

With the Arctic Vortex blasting much of the United States, the Sonoran and the Mojave Desert are a seasonal paradise for many creatures including Michael, Callie and me. There was another lovely rainstorm last night and I am hoping for a super-bloom of wildflowers this spring. I have a pond behind the house that is a temporary home to Canadian Geese, Mergansers, Mallards, American Wigeon’s, a lone, lost Double-Breasted Cormorant that kept looking to the sky for his fellow travelers, a single, male Vermilion Flycatcher that I have affectionately named- Romeo, my darling Costa’s Hummingbird that I have aptly called, Sweet Pea, Say’s Phoebes, frogs that have just started to emerge from hibernation that are croaking out their romantic mating call, and of course the coyotes, desert foxes, and numerous predators that hope to make a meal of all of the above.

Callie has a ringside view of the scene playing out below her from a love seat that I have positioned by the window. She can watch bats swoop back and forth in search of insects at night and the ducks loudly quack and squabble during the day and even one lone male coyote that has as of yet failed to catch a bird in the late afternoon. When it gets chilly out, and it sometimes does, Callie makes short order of the lovingly prepared bed that I have made and crawls underneath all of the blankets when she gets chilled.

Wildflowers such as the tiny red chuparosa shrub are in full bloom already and this is the favorite food for Sweet Pea, the hummingbird. The Painted Ladies, a lovely butterfly which favor the golden yellow brittlebush are unfortunately often consumed by the flycatchers, and the bats and frogs attempt to catch the rest at night. It is quite the ecosystem playing out right before my eyes. It has really inspired my photography and the new Nikon D850 camera that my husband gave me for my 63rd birthday has improved my skills; I rarely take iPhone pics anymore.

We are moving the RV back to the Riviera possibly this weekend after having all the batteries replaced and the loss of hubcaps too! This particular RV seems to like to ditch them on the roadside along with blowouts that we have had with just about every tire. It must be a flaw in the design of the Class C and the fact that Michael has a hard time replacing them if there is still plenty of tread. The weakened sidewall is the issue and a gentle warning to all who RV, don’t be fooled like we have. Blowouts are dangerous and costly, not to mention the inconvenience and discomfort you have to go through in such an emergency. We also had the generator oil replaced and are now ready to park it back at the coast. I am looking forward to another adventure though soon and our first one may be to head up to Lake Cuyamaca or Agua Caliente if it is still too cold. Such is the good life of an aging retired couple and their adorable cat named Callie.

Badd Ass Catt

Callie is doing really well and has adjusted to a life in the desert that only allows her to be walked outside with a leash. There are just too many predators in this wilderness area that could harm her. She seems to know it and has accepted her loss of freedom and not to be able to climb her beloved olive trees. When we take her to the beach where we have the RV parked, Callie will be allowed to explore outside once again. In the meantime, I am taking lots of photographs and appreciating the abundant wildlife that either call Anza- Borrego Desert State Park home, or are just passing through.

Another Year has PASSED!

Yikes, the time is flying by so quickly. All is good with Callie and us. We finished a wonderful trip to Vegas to meet our daughter and to camp at Valley of Fire and Death Valley. Callie got a spooky, bright red, furry tarantula for Christmas and we are back home in the desert once again. It is a big, beautiful world out there in spite of the government shutdown. We hauled all of our trash out of Death Valley when we left and most people were doing the same. Happy New Year to all of you and may this year be filled with peace, joy, and happiness.

Joan and Callie

Peace and Joy be with You!

It has been a long time since I have posted an update on Callie. She is doing really well and loves this desert house with a view of a pond. She spends hours in the evening watching bats swoop back and forth and in the morning she has hummingbirds and a beautiful male Vermilion Flycatcher that is absolutely gorgeous. Coyotes head out in the evening to hunt and return when the sun starts to climb in the sky. We are planning on hitting the road again during Christmas and may go to Death Valley again. Thank you all for checking in and may the holidays be joyous and full of peace and joy. Happy New Year too!

Living a Life of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this blog post. I have much to be grateful for and one of my greatest pleasures is to share my experiences of traveling with Callie the cat and my husband in our 24 ft Class C RV. We have recently parked the RV at the Riviera RV and Mobile Home Park in Encinitas, California to give ourselves a rest from being on the road and to enjoy our home in Borrego Springs for the winter. The desert has some of the best weather in the country now and to stay there for weeks at a time is a luxury instead of an inferno!

For Thanksgiving, we decided to go to a local restaurant called: Captain Kenos that provides a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, carrots, corn, stuffing, hot buttered roll, and pumpkin pie to the needy, lonely, and homeless. They welcome all with open doors and arms, and a shout out of Happy Thanksgiving with big smiles on their faces, as guests enter to partake of a delicious feast. If you can afford it, a $3.00 donation is warmly welcomed, but otherwise, it is totally free, no questions asked. We made a small donation so that others could eat, and then sat down to a community dinner that was served until 6:00. The doors had opened up at noon and there was a steady stream of people lined up at the entranceway receiving a much needed meal.

People of all walks of life, most of them poor, stood patiently with plates in their hands, now had a warm and cozy place to eat and to be served by respectful and cheerful volunteers with Christmas lights twinkling merrily and rock music playing in the background. The owner actually sat at the bar and chatted with his guests as if he were rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. It was such a welcoming sight that I just had to go up and speak with him briefly in order to thank him for his generosity. Gerry Sova, the owner also provides another feast for those in need on Christmas Day and he has been doing this for over 36 years!

Michael and I then drove over to Moonlight Beach to watch the beautiful sun set in the Pacific Ocean as people played volleyball and sat around hot, roaring campfires. We listened to Bob Dylan on the radio and reflected on past Thanksgivings we had shared together. Our first date was 41 years ago on November 6th and our first Thanksgiving, Michael braved visiting my entire family of 6 sisters, their boyfriends, 1 brother, and my mother and father and paternal grandmother. He survived that gathering and then we went over to meet his parents and 2 brothers and their girlfriends. And here we are today, 41 years later, still miraculously married and with an adult daughter and an adorable cat we are very fond of.

Marriage is not for the meek of heart. It takes a great deal of love, grit, forgiveness, patience, respect and most importantly, only one of you can be angry at the other at one, single, time. If you survive young adulthood together and merge into middle age and then on to becoming senior citizens, your hormones are no longer raging but you now have aches and pains, disease and the joy of getting old. I can honestly say though that this is becoming some of the best times I have shared with my husband. We have a rich and vast history together and have been through more than most couples would have tolerated. So, I am feeling particularly grateful for hanging in there, at least it is how I feel today; it is always subject to change. Smile!

So Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Give thanks if you can, for LIFE can be incredibly difficult. It waxes and wanes though, and tomorrow could bring either hardship or joy, pleasure or pain. The act of being alive means to live, get out there and live your life to the fullest. This is not a dress rehearsal! Thanks for reading my blog.