The Life I've Lived

From my 30s through my 60s | © All Rights Reserved
I'm the youngest of three sisters, whose mother died when we were very young, and whose father was a Navy man and always gone. To keep us together, we were "shipped off" to live with our maternal grandmother and step-grandfather. Our lives there were a mixture of torment (emotional, physical, & sexual abuse) and privilege (swimming pool, amusement park visits, & dance lessons). My sisters left as soon as they legally could and I, being several years younger, remained. (Grievously, our beautiful middle sister, Jacqueline, died unexpectedly and much too young in 2010. 😢)

Margaret, Jacqueline, and me—1964 - 1981 | © All Rights Reserved

I visited my sisters once in Colorado and then several times when they moved back to San Diego. I even moved into the home where my father retired to there, but I missed the Arabian horses my grandmother had that had been my saviors. So, back I went. We moved out of the house in Simi Valley where I lived for 13 years on my 18th birthday when my step-grandfather retired. We moved to Shasta County in Northern California with several horses, two dogs, and two cats. (I had to leave my beloved German Shepherd, Country, behind with the people who bought our house.) My grandmother passed away the following year. Sadly, it was after she miraculously turned over a new leaf and became considerably kinder to me. I remained with my grandfather to settle her estate and to place most of the horses, as he generously gave me two of them. 

The following year I moved to Santa Ynez in Santa Barbara County for a job (described below under Arabian horses). After that job ended I moved back to Shasta County, for another job (also described there). When that job didn't work out I moved back to San Diego to live with my sister, Margaret. I remained in San Diego. Started a retail job (described below under Companion Animals). Got married and many years later got divorced. I moved to Portland, (Flickr Album: My Portland Home) in 1995 where I continued working for the same company. In 1997, I met my future 2nd husband online and moved to Virginia where I was a stay-at-home wife and mother for about nineteen years (Flickr Albums: Virginia Home Number 4 and Virginia Home Number 5). After divorcing in 2016, I returned home to San Diego, where I once again live with my sister, while my daughter, whom I miss profoundly, resides in Virginia. I am very contentedly single but want much more time with my daughter!

My darling daughter and me 💕 | © All Rights Reserved

I am not a total hermit despite my tendency to go that way. I don't make friends easily, but my true friends have stuck with me for many years. I consider myself to be fairly friendly but also socially awkward and conversationally challenged. As I truly feel more comfortable with my fictional characters, I feel the term "booktrovert" fits me all too well. I'm most definitely a neatnik and consider organizing to be a great source of personal enjoyment. I'm a lifelong animal lover, even though all of my own beloved companions are gone. I'm a homebody and a happy camper, as I enjoy both very much. I feel relieved to be as smart as I am in spite of my dropout status and I'm thankful for what common sense I have.

After decades of heavy lifting, several horseback riding accidents, and an automobile accident, my body has more than its fair share of aches and pains. I also suffer from multiple physical and anxiety disorders. Despite these "nuisances" I still feel rather productive on most (cool) days, remain quite busy, and am never bored.
I have been a vegetarian since the mid-1980s and vegan since 2016. Each step was motivated by devastating events and my guilty conscience. There were also numerous inherited health issues. It was all too obvious to deny. That guilty conscience is no more, and my health is benefiting. Better for me. Better for the animals. Better for the planet. I'll leave it at that. 

When I'm not accompanying my sister on RV camping and road trips in her Roadtrek I live in her lovely 35’ fifth-wheel coach. After a lifetime of moving my furniture and belongings from one sticks and bricks home to another, I now prefer living small and eventually hope to have my own home on wheels to live and travel the West in. 

Living and camping in comfort. Roadtrek (van) and Cameo

I share personal updates, photos, and videos with trusted friends and family on Facebook. (There are nearly eight thousand photos, documents, and videos on Flickr and numerous videos on YouTube here and here.)

Schools ('60s - '70s)

 Simi Valley, CA

Organizations ('60s - '70s)

California Cavalry Command
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Arabian Horses

At the age of eleven, I got my first horse. By the next year, my grandmother, Rose Kennedy, bought our first Arabian; from there my life progressed to nearly full-time caretaker and trainer status. I was particularly passionate about Arabian horse research, visiting farms, and attending shows. At most, we had 13 horses. I took hundreds of hours of riding instruction for Stock Seat, Saddle Seat, and Dressage disciplines.

We boarded our horses at the old Barbara Worth Stables in Simi Valley, which was across the street from the Simi Valley Drive-In Theater. We were there when it was called the Rockin' S Ranch (1970-73) and Livingston Ranch (1975-77). We also kept the horses at Rocken (Rockin') S Ranch (1973-75) on Happy Camp Road in Moorpark.

I took riding/driving lessons from Nicki (Oppegard) McGinnis in Moorpark (1973-74), Claudia Thompson in Moorpark and Simi Valley (1974-76), and Arlene Benschoff (1976-77) in Malibu.

In 1979, I went to work at Pereira Arabians in Santa Ynez, California, with the title of Mare Manager. However, my job consisted of many different things, including, but not limited to: halter training the foals, grooming all of the horses, assisting the veterinarian and farrier, exercising and showing the stallions (Khemosabi++++//, Justin++, Gai Champion, and Toi Soldier), communicating with mare owners, and giving tours of the ranch. In 1981, I took a full-time position at Wheeler's Arabians in Red Bluff, California, where I was involved in all horse-related areas, including feeding, cleaning, grooming, foaling detail, training, and showing. Later, I worked part-time for Stallion Oaks Arabians (Cal-O-Bask) and lastly for North Arabians. In 1982, I left the business of Arabian horses to enjoy spending time with my own mare. I may have sold my last horse in 1997, but my heartfelt devotion to their memories remains.

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Companion Animals

Spanning my adolescent and teen years, I had goldfish, tropical fish, reptiles, hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs, a rabbit, cats, dogs, and horses. Even though most were labeled as mine, I ended up having little say in their remaining so. To earn money to care for my companions, I babysat and took care of other peoples' horses.

I began a 15-year career
with Petco in San Diego in 1982. I started as a sales associate in December 1982 at the La Mesa store. I was promoted to assistant manager of the Clairemont store in 1983 and manager of the Escondido store in 1984. I managed the Encinitas store from 1985 to 1988 and the Poway store from 1988 to 1995. I transferred to Portland, Oregon, in 1996, where I continued in management at the Clackamas and then Hayden Meadows stores. I transferred to Petco in Alexandria (VA) in 1997 and requested a demotion to sales associate to accommodate my health during my pregnancy. I retired after 15 years, one month before my daughter was born. 
During my employment, I attended a vast assortment of animal care classes, seminars, and trade shows. I trained new employees and assisted with product development and merchandising. I regularly hosted adoption and education events for several animal welfare organizations. In addition, I fostered dozens of animals of numerous species for different rescue groups. Throughout this time I had my own horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, birds, and fish.

Up until I retired and became a mother I was known as "Animommy" because my life was dedicated to my many beloved animal companions. I never thought I would be without at least one special companion, but since losing my precious Corgi, Lizzie, in March 2018 I have discovered a crippling emptiness that cannot be filled by anything else. I miss my precious girl very much.

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alternative (tiny) living, animal welfare, camping, genealogy, homemaking, organizing, photography, READING, sightseeing, traveling, veganism

Favorite Books

most sub-genres of romance, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, history, maritime history, memoirs

Favorite Music

alternative rock, classic rock, hard rock, indie rock, adult pop, and rhythm & blues

Favorite Movies

adventure, English period dramas, romantic dramas and comedies

Favorite Television Shows

crime dramas, forensic dramas, legal dramas, police procedurals

Favorite Quotes

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." — Maya Angelou

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." — Maya Angelou

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." — Maya Angelou

"The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies." - Albert Schweitzer

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mohandas Gandhi

"To be a vegetarian is to disagree---to disagree with the course of things today. Starvation, world hunger, cruelty, waste, wars--we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement. And I think it's a strong one." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." - Roger Caras

"We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies." - Shirley Abbott

"I trace my family history so I will know who to blame." - unknown

"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots." - unknown

"Any family tree produces some lemons, some nuts, and a few bad apples." - unknown

(rev. 12/23/2023)