Saturday, October 31, 2015


DSC06935 (Copy)There is an upside to downsizing. My cousin Debbie collects postcards and while going through my stuff I found a scrapbook of a trip to Texas. I grabbed some pages and put them in a box to mail, thinking explanatory stuff might interest her. But, oh the memories.  Dallas/Fort Worth really does have more shops than New York, more music than Nashville and more thrills than Disneyland. We went to the stockyards and saw a cattle drive that was a life-sized sculpture of long horns crossing a river. Museums, art galleries, the Hard Rock Cafe, the White Elephant Saloon, a cooling water walk, Assyrian treasures at Kimball, Cavanaugh Flight Museum, a sewing machine museum, the H.W. Perry Homestead.  We followed the footsteps of Kennedy's assassin at Dealy Plaza and the grassy knoll.  We could easily have spent three weeks there, so much to see and do.
DSC06933 (Copy)Our method suited both my husband's and my personality. He would write for tourist information, we'd fly into the major airport, rent a car and do as much as we could during a 3 to 4 week period. In Houston, the Sam Houston Museum, the Astrodome, LBJ Space Center, San Jacinto Battlefield,  Missons. We toured the Battleship Texas, and the Funeral Services Museum. We really did go to Billy Bob's  Honky Tonk, (disappointing) and  Ruth's Chris steak house, but we didn't order steaks the size of a roast. George wanted to go to the Millionaires Club, just for a peek, but realized you need to be a millionaire.
DSC06936 (Copy)We drove to Galveston and visited the historic Moody Mansion, The Texas Seaport Museum where I got my art fix watching Anthony Blackman draw. The old downtown area is quite small and interesting. A Mardi Gras Museum,  History of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The best estimate of life lost was six thousand perished, one of the worst disasters in our nation's history. We took pictures of a mansion with a two  foot picket fence. The other four feet were covered in mud and the owners never rebuilt. They chose to live in what was the top two floors of the mansion.  I loved Galveston.
We drove to San Antonio to see the Alamo. Texans didn't set aside land around the Alamo. It sits on a city block with businesses surrounding it, smaller than you'd think.  The missions- magnificent edifices in stone, a cool place rest. The Arts are the heart of San Antonio at La Villita with glass blowers, candle making, stained glass, weavers, jewelry, etc. And, every where we ate Tex Mex, different from California Mex. The best River Walk in Texas, on the San Antonio River right through the middle of town. Cooling, breathtaking.
Then to Austin, to visit the State Capital building, the Governor's Mansion, LBJ Library, the amazing Bishops Palace resembles Chateau of France. George didn't want to see a bunch of bats, but I'd heard about Mexican bats living under a bridge in Austin and I worked to convince him. It helped to have a nearby journalism  museum.  We sat on the grassy banks of the river. When it got dark, the bats flowed out in waves of millions swooping up and down the river, wave, after wave, after wave.
Once we got home, the thing that impressed him the most of our entire trip was the bats. I enjoyed his enthusiasm for the bats, as he told everyone we met about them.
My favorite experiences from that trip? The bats, the funeral museum and the San Antonio river walk. American diversity, every state a marvel.

Friday, October 30, 2015


DSC06924 (Copy)When I moved to California in 1954, it was a flood year. Earwigs covered the side of the house, falling into my hair each time I entered our back yard. All of us thought we'd moved to a bug infested swamp and thought perhaps it wasn't a good idea to have chosen California. But then, the fresh peaches, apricots, multiple types of cherries, and plums. Fresh lemons and limes. Ten different types of beans; exotics like avocados, and to us, fresh cauliflower and broccoli were exotic in 1954, and later artichokes, though all are commonplace now..
And, best of all the weather. Dry easily weathered heat with cool nights that allowed you to sleep. I missed the green, green grass of Michigan, but eventually came to like the golden summers of California.
DSC06925 (Copy)I knew California was unique, but I didn't realize how unique until John Randell paraded California before me on a screen.
We have multiple climate zones. A Mediterranean climate just like Tuscany and Greece in a North Eastern section beyond Oroville, in Modoc County. I've never been there.
Then the coastal range of gorgeous, unique redwood trees, the sempervirons that at one time stretched from Crescent City to Monterey on the west side of the Sierra Nevadas. The East side of the Sierra Nevadas is known for its granite, its pines, unique ones like the bristlecones and stunted trees growing out of rock faces.  In the north, the redwood giganteas on the west slopes and then flowing down into one of two huge deserts , Death Valley and Mojave with the amazing joshua trees.  California's middle fertile valley's supply half the worlds fruits and vegetables and nuts.
The highest point in the continental U.S. is Mt. Whitney. We have 63 different fresh water fish;, 190 different mammals, and 30,000 insects, 8,000 plants, 96 reptiles and amphibians, 100 different species of birds. California has 5 bird species that only live in California. There is more, unique climate variations like the Bishop area,  mining minerals like borax, Anzo Barrego, the Salton Sea, an interior but smaller salt lake.  San Diego, considered the best place in the world to live.  Only three places in the U.S. have such diversity, California, Florida and Hawaii.
And, then of course, we practically ruined some of the most beautiful places in California. San Diego was filled and her wetlands given way to housing. Then she began to sink and now pilings hold up the houses.
Pollution was once so bad, raw sewage flowed into the ocean and San Diego stunk as did other places with dead lakes and nasty rivers filled with sewage and greasy soap. All have been cured as lessons were learned. Even the big 2000 year old blue oaks were cut by ranchers until they discovered that the rich green grass under the oaks is what the cattle liked. When the trees were cut, the sun bleached the grass to straw.
California is a leader in environmental progress. How far we've come. We've got bragging rights to be sure. And, I'm thankful I live here which brings me to the kitchen sink.
DSC06913 (Copy)My faucet leaked. The porcelain sink I had was permanently scarred and stained. Everything under the sink would get wet and created a constant problem.
DSC06916 (Copy)The plumber showed me my garbage disposal was also cracked and leaking.
DSC06915 (Copy)Because I have so much to do, downsizing and taking care of my house I'm working on a priority list. Trying to stay with a task until complete. But, with no water and the loud noise of the equipment, I seized the day, left the plumbers to their work,  and went to hear the wisdom of Naturalist John Randell. I'm so glad I did.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


DSC06919 (Copy)
Naturalist John Randell gave a slide presentation about trees and under-story plants in our neighborhood and then on up the hill to the top of the Sierra Nevadas. He lives on the same road as I and my neighbors live on, so it was journey through our own neighborhood.
DSC06922 (Copy)
Everything on this table came from nearby and it was a revelation. I tend to think we have two different type of Oak trees, the live oaks from my yard and the huge, magnificent blue oaks that line the road and fill up the hillsides. He showed us cones, and needles from valley oaks, white oaks, red oaks, black oaks. Our journey continued on up the mountain. We looked at and discussed sugar pines, ponderosa,  lodgepole and Jeffry pines that smell like butterscotch or vanilla. Huggable trees and what naturalists and scientists have learned from their adaptability. A good thing to think about during our present drought.
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In our neighborhood we have vine maples, big leaf maples, the invasive poisonous black locust, alder, Oregon scrub, huckleberries, canyon oak, and a host of plants all managed and used by the local Indians.
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What John did was place cards under the plant samples and asked us to guess what they were, from what we had learned in the slide show. The answers are on the cards. We got to roll needles between our fingers, and smell and pinch everything. What a delightful presentation.

Even more interesting, Dixie (whose last name I didn't get) prepared a wild dinner. We drank pine needle tea, ate pine needle cookies; there was edible seeds, shredded wild plant salsa, along with a rice based enchilada. A complete meal. On display were plant based medicines from Indian recipes.

Native Americans thanked the spirits for whatever they took from the land. They never used too much nor did they despoil the land.  (More tomorrow along with the kitchen sink.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


IMG_2657 (Copy)On my way home from a doctor's appointment yesterday, I stopped to take a picture of the nearly empty reservoir. The old bridge is visible and you can trace the  winding road from the Calaveras side of the river down to the bridge. Plus there is water, no longer just puddles. The Army Corps of Engineers ordered water flows to assist the salmon and other fish smelts. They need water that is cool enough to hatch. 
IMG_2656 (Copy)Seeing the old bridge brings me three distinct memories. My mother lived with me near the end of her life and she drove that route to Sonora and claimed it to be the worst road she'd ever driven. I chuckle because I love that windy road. Maybe being raised in the flat state of Michigan gave me an appreciation for the mountains and mountain driving.

The second memory is the white water rafting trips I took when the river was natural. It was so popular with rafters that a huge protest movement against damming the Stanislaus took place. One protester, Mark DuBois tied himself to a rock so they couldn't flood the place without drowning him. An activist is what I've always been, so I  protested the dam too, by writing letters.
 Mark DuBois had to give it up because it took over a year for the dam to fill by a strong rainy season. The Stanislaus has the deepest limestone canyon of any river in the United States, which is what made it such a good ride.
Our local paper had an article last week about Mark who returned for a rafting trip once again down the Stanislaus. Had I known ahead of time, I'd have gone on that trip with him. Well, actually, that is just wishful thinking.
Another memory I have of rafting that river is of friends, Howard and Gerraine Hoyt and their youngest daughter, a real beauty at about age 16. The guys who guided the rafts were a wild bunch of young guys who worked during the summer and went on welfare during the winter. They were obviously filled with testosterone and our guide had shorts on with no protector and everything he owned was hanging pretty loose. He couldn't take his eyes off of Kelly. At the end of the trip, Gerraine wanted a picture of Kelly with the guide and she very matter of factually asked him to tuck his stuff into his  pants before she took the picture. We could see him blush under his deep tan. It still makes me laugh because none of us found it offensive or fussed about what we all noticed. Ah, to be young again. Wasn't it fun?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


A couple days ago, I had to have a dead tree removed.
DSC06740 (Copy)DSC06739 (Copy)The guy had it down and cleaned up very quickly and I thought, better than having 25 dead deer in your front yard.
Jan and I visited the Butte Fire recovery center and placed what we could donate on a board in front of Senders Market. When Jim and I visited the burn area Sunday, that board was gone. But, Sara Watson saw it in that short period of time and found my list of stuff to give away. She called me last night and I am happy to have found a home for my stuff. I guess that is serendipity.

The board of supervisors was leery of allowing people to move back on their property for fear of people getting sick from the ash and suing the county.  They finally voted to allow it and give people two years to rebuild if they sign a waiver that they assume all risk.  Seems practical to me.

From what Sara told me she has two families in mind for my stuff.  Families without insurance get around $30 to $39 in settlement monies. Tough to build living quarters for your family on that. Another family has 25 dead deer in their front yard. My problems seem pretty minuscule.

Jim has told me people would trade problems with me any day. One task I've set for myself is scanning all my family pictures to digitize on-line. He did my old family photos for me and since I met him, I have not had  pictures developed and printed. I have about 19 albums to go. It seems daunting, is minuscule.

Monday, October 26, 2015


The motorhome is parked at Mary’s home in Murphys, California.
I’m planning to  depart November 30th. While here, I’ll do routine maintenance, minor repairs and major cleaning of the Bronco and motorhome.

Today’s subject: We’re Downsizing Our Relationship…
Downsizing is a popular word in today’s culture…in general meaning to make smaller. After seeking a word to identify what’s occurring in our relationship for the past several days, downsizing seems most appropriate. Down shifting-gears was a close second. It’s happening in our relationship and we wanted to share with you the what and why it’s occurring. October 26th (today) is an emotional day in our relationship. It was on this date Mary and I first met in face-to-face in 2008. Seven full years to the date we are making this announcement.
The initial contact was via the Internet on October 20th. At that time, my motorhome was 160 miles from Mary’s Home. After several chats, we agreed to meet about half-way for brunch in Tracy, California. Our brunch lasted five hours and the attraction was immediate on both of our parts. It ended with Mary extending me an invitation to drive the motorhome so that we might “get better acquainted”.
Here’s the first photo I took of Mary while at her home…

Mary 010RSa
Mary was anxious and ready to head out and see the United States with me. Three weeks after arriving, we headed out on to the road…much to the horror of her children. But, that’s another story…which fortunately has turned out well. Our agreement about our relationship at that time was: I WOULD TRAVEL AND SHE WOULD JOIN ME WHENEVER HER TIME ALLOWED, and it remains the same today. For nearly seven years she flew to meet me wherever I was to travel with me…more or less…two months on and two months off…and we had a wonderful time!
The only change that has occurred is that Mary has run out of time to travel with me on the road. September 26, 2014…a full 13 months ago, was the last night she has spent the night in the motorhome with me.
I departed her home in early December, 2014, alone. After my departure, we spoke on the telephone every day…sometimes several times a day. After spending the winter in the desert southwest hiding from the cold, I returned to her home in April, 2015 for a couple of weeks visit. It was during this time she said to me…we need to talk…not a good sign!
She did her best to describe that she has a very complicated and full life attending to her two homes, two rental properties, family and friends. Things were being neglected and she could not travel with me for the foreseeable future. She asked to be relieved of her financial obligations (sharing expenses) of our relationship and I agreed. Neither of us then knew quite what to do about our relationship, we loved and cared about each other, but the changed circumstances left us confused as to what happens next.
For many years I’ve known that THE ONLY CONSTANT IN LIFE…IS CHANGE. I was not the first person to invent that concept. It is generally attributed to Heraclitus…
So, as I headed out to the Pacific Northwest to escape the California summer heat, I told her…I ONLY KNOW HOW TO LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME…LET’S CONTINUE TO TALK DAILY AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. We did…and now I’m back at her home once again.
I arrived on October 15th, ten very emotional days ago. During that times there has been many hugs and some tears, but it has become clear to us what must happen next. Compared to my essentially stress-free life, Mary’s is full of stress…her obligations make it so. I’ve been in her position, but escaped 20 years ago when I managed to relieve myself of home ownership/working and the accompanying stresses that come with that lifestyle. December 23 of this year, I begin my 21st year of the full-timing RV lifestyle which I love and enjoy. Mary has told me that she hopes she might be able to travel with me once again for a week or two, once or twice a year…in a couple of years. I know that whenever we estimate how long it will take to accomplish something…it generally takes somewhat longer. Looking at Mary’s situation…I’m seeing five years before she’s available once again. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve come to the following conclusions AND AGREEMENT…
  • Most of Mary’s responsibilities require her attention, actions and decisions. Little that I could be of any assistance. So, I will continue to travel.

  • Mary sincerely desires to downsize her life, but the problem is for many years she has been a collect-aholic and has accumulated many things. She had a really full life when I met her and that full life has continued to stack up while she traveled with me. Her downsizing will be a slow and painful process, but she’s intent on accomplishing it.

  • We will continue to talk daily on the telephone…continuing to live ONE DAY AT A TIME.

  • I’m still welcome to stop and visit whenever I find myself in her area. She is welcome to visit me anytime she my find a small hole of time in her full life.

  • Because of the extended time frame potentially involved, last Wednesday we moved all of her possessions from the motorhome, so that I could “spread out” and be a lot more comfortable in my home. A lot of tears that day!

  • During the last 13 months, I have experienced an emotion that I have not felt in MANY years, a touch of loneliness. After having such a loving companion for nearly seven years (3,895 blog postings), it cannot help but to be missed. Mary has indicated to me that should I manage to find another travel companion…she would be okay with that. Mary really does not have time for a man-friend in her life.

  • On The Road With Jim And Mary is meant to be a travel blog. Should I meet a new travel companion, I would start a new blog. I’ve asked Mary to restrict her future postings to the travel topic. For instance her two-week to trip to India next February with her grandson would be most welcome. For those of you that enjoy the variety of Mary’s postings, you can follow her on her personal blog…Mary’s Ramblin’s. Here’s the link…

With those feelings between two people…we have every reason to believe that we will continue to be close and loving friends for the rest of our lives ONE DAY AT A TIME AND WE WANTED YOU TO KNOW!
IN TRUTH, it’s not all that much different from the way it has been between us these last 13 months. I said to Mary…it’s like driving the Bronco..we shift from overdrive to drive and continue rolling on through life.
Earlier on I indicated that we have shared much fun and laughter together. SO, I’ve decided I’m going to share my Mary photo web album with you so you can see all the fun we have had. Most of the photos show the many moods of Mary, with a few scattered of myself.
Here are a few from that album…
Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts…

061210 078

Salem, Massachusetts…
072310 022

New London, Connecticut…
081110 085a

Elkhart, Indiana…
RV Museum 082510 013

Murphys, California…
Mary 090a

Here’s one of my favorites…Mary becoming a creative photographer…
Monroe, Washington…

To see the other 525 photos in this album…
Note: to reduce the viewing time, I suggest you lower the default 3 seconds to 1 second. That way total viewing time will be about 9 minutes and you’ll still get the flavor of the many moods of Mary…or simply choose random photos for viewing. The photos in the album are not in chronological order…

Mary Photo’s


About 9:30 Sunday morning, Jim and I walked my rural road. Overcast- the air moist and heavy, pregnant with the portent of rain. The wind sang and danced the oak leaves in races across the driveway and roads. Change hung in the air. The seasons change. Our relationship changed.

Over tears and hugs we’ve talked and made hard decisions-diverted paths. For the foreseeable future, I am taking on long neglected projects, keeping promises made, that belong to a property owner with a lifetime of accumulated “stuff” and responsibilities.

My first task will be to join a genealogy class and finish a promise made to my mother who worked hard before she died to get five generations with proofs to register and publish in the Latter Day Saints Genealogical Library in Utah. A task entrusted to me that I must do.

My house in Oregon, a book I started to write, other promises to myself, my family and just realizing that in every life, nothing is more constant than change. I’m looking forward to changing the way I live more toward Jim’s philosophy. He says he only knows one way to live, and that is “one day at a time.”
We care about each other and hope to travel together in the future. We will maintain a loving friendship and I will do my part to accomplish my long put off tasks. And he will embrace his favored lifestyle without me for an unknown period of time. He estimates 5 years, I estimate 2 years. But, we shall see.

I was married for 40 years before my husband died. Then I had a wonderful companion for 4-1/2 years that also ended in death.
And, now, the future seems uncertain and deciding on separate paths has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. This transition was not a decision made lightly, but with respect, consideration and heartache, too. And we wanted everyone to know that we aren’t throwing rocks at each other.

I also want you to know that Jimmy the rat kicked me off our blog!! Dang!

Well, not exactly. He has long felt that my rants don’t belong on a travel blog. So, for those of you who are inclined to follow my blogs you can reach me on When I travel I will blog on all three sites, blog spot, SF. Chronicle and Jim and Mary. The Chronicle automatically puts my blog on FB where it reaches my back East relatives.
Jim threatened to post all the pictures he has taken of me over the years. I have plenty of his photos, too, but not all of them are in one file. But I did go through a bunch of favorites.
007 (Copy)My first bouquet of flowers from Jim. 016 (Copy).
IMG_2075 (Copy)What a ham.
IMG_1145 (Copy) (Copy)The Planner. Always charting our way with precision.
IMG_2080 (Copy)Biking the canals in Yuma.
IMG_2358 (Copy)The not so subtle message that it is too cold in my house.
IMG_2449 (Copy).
IMG_2452 (Copy)He took care of me during my shoulder surgery, helping me get dressed everyday and tending to my every need.
KITE MUSEUM-25 (Copy)Opening up fresh oysters on the barbeque.  (Notice the hammar)
IMG_8630 (Copy)Always the ham. We had so much fun.
The first picture I took of Jim the day we met.

Bye-for now.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Americans love their pets. They are intrinsically kind to animals. Some declare, they’d rather have pets than children. We are tied to, we are enriched by, and we need the wildlife that lives with us and around us everywhere.
In the U.S. extinctions are on the rise, even of major species like the leopard, the wolverine, panthers, fresh water mammals like the manatees, bull sharks. Sea corals whales, manta rays, and thousands of life forms, butterflies, bees, and birds are under threat.  Wildlife around the world is under siege.

Tigers in Sumatra have been declared extinct. This month, 300 elephants were poisoned for their ivory. The rhinoceros are so close to extinction, it is only a matter of time.

Up to 35,000 elephants are being poached yearly, and lions and other iconic species are also fighting for survival — and they’re running out of time. That’s why I’m promoting the Global Anti-Poaching Act, a critical bill to help stave off the poaching of  Africa’s wildlife. The bipartisan legislation — which aims to enable the U.S. government to work with partner countries in countering international criminal syndicates, rebel groups and terrorist organizations profiting from the illegal wildlife trade — would give wildlife crime a prominent place in the U.S. government’s national and regional security strategies. U.S. residents can help by taking a moment to send a message to their U.S. representative, telling them to support the Global Anti-Poaching Act.

I find when I get an email about a subject that is important to me, that sending a message to my US representative, telling them to support this issue or that issue, while it means something, it used to leave me with a blank spot.
Now, I make it a point to keep a list near my computer of who they are so that contacting them is easy. For me, it is just a phone call away. I can call Tom McClintock at either his Washington Office or his Roseville office and leave a message with the aide who answers the phone. They do keep records of how many calls on what subject. It is the same in every state, the way to be effective is to have the numbers handy. Tom’s number in Washington is: 202-225-2511.

If you are a Californian, State Senator Tom Berryhill, 916-651-4008.

The State Assembly Frank Bigelow, 916-319-2005.

Please help by cutting from the phone book the numbers and addresses you need and keep them close to your computer. Then do it!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


DSC06862 (Copy)The Resource and Recovery Center for the Butte Fire is all but closed. School children are still dropped off at the center where they can get a snack and wait for their parents to pick them up when they get off work. When we pulled in, this is what greeted us.
DSC06863 (Copy)Two kids on the left are 5th graders, two on the right are 6th graders, enjoying some chips and dip. They told me they were building houses out of cardboard boxes.
DSC06866 (Copy)A bit crowded to be sure. One girl held the flap open while I took the picture.
DSC06867 (Copy)This is a two room house, they bragged.  I was impressed.
DSC06868 (Copy)The 5th graders invited me into their house.
DSC06869 (Copy)Roomy and cozy.
DSC06870 (Copy)They had each made a cardboard bed with a cardboard stuffed pillow and an extra piece of cardboard for padding. Well done. I could see the signs of healing in their smiling faces.DSC06871 (Copy)As we walked away from the kids, I saw a woman watching them and she was hanging back. I told her they were building houses. She said, “I’m so glad my son is building a house. He needs that right now.”  We both got a bit emotional. I could not have predicted how much this fire affected me from my house burning down when I was about the same age as these kids.
DSC06873 (Copy)At the back of the Center is a tent city.
DSC06872 (Copy)A huge truck with washing machines provides laundry. I didn’t see it yesterday, but did the day I had volunteered. A sign also announces the showers are available between 8 am to 8 pm, every day. There are portable toilets on the grounds as well. Not the way you choose to live, but a welcome necessity.
DSC06874 (Copy)Stacks of rice straw are available to burn victims to distribute on their land to help prevent erosion during the coming rains of winter
DSC06893 (Copy)We drove up toward Railroad Flat. Jim got a first hand look at the devastation. One property had a sign, Looters Will Be Shot. Since my son’s place was burglarized during the fire, I could understand their fears.
DSC06880 (Copy)This picture really got to me. It was obvious at this site that the owners had gone through the wreckage and pulled things out and stacked them in painful little piles; a reminder of my folks doing the same thing. I remember searching for my rosary I’d just gotten for Christmas. My mother fascinated and tearful over a jar of change she’d been saving where coins and glass were melted together.
DSC06900 (Copy)We were beyond Mountain Ranch and here the power lines in two or more places were still on the ground. You can see the line temporarily attached to a tree to keep it up off the road so cars could pass under. Most of the power poles themselves survived the fire. Jim was amazed that so many trees were still standing. He thought they would be flat on the ground. Of course, many standing will die and have to be removed. Trees with an X on them scheduled for removal. I only saw one large tree with an L on it for leave.  Then we visited the local VFW and quaffed a beer and washed away the imaginary ashes in our mouths.