Colly, Jan, Sherman and Archer somewhere in “Happy Valley”.

Colly, Jan, Sherman and Archer somewhere in “Happy Valley”.

  “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor.  Do you know your next-door neighbor?” 

Mother Theresa

My dear friend Jan Nelson (The Mountain Gardner), in the early morning hours last Wednesday, walked into my Ben Lomond home with a look of sheer bewilderment on her face, a look I never want to see there again.  Jan, along with her Bonny Doon neighbors were all faced with the same fate, evacuation from homes they may never see again.

And then the incredulous ‘thing’ happened.  We, Jan and me along with her dog and cat, were told to evacuate that same afternoon.  Now it was me who wore that look coupled with where do we go?  Without hesitation, Jan’s friends Mike and Cathy, offered their home to us, and last Wednesday afternoon our addresses changed to somewhere in Happy Valley, California.

We settled in to our ‘new’ home, Jan and me, safe and secure for two days, and then the horrific firestorm in Bonny Doon took away dear Jan’s home. In an instant gone was her ‘security blanket’.  Memories are all that is left.

Three years ago, Jan, along with others, was my ‘rock’ when I lost my Hubby; and then four months later I was Jan’s rock as she lost her dear fiancé.  We cried together, we laughed together, and we drank Prosecco together along with our other three YaYa Queens.  As Jan said with tears in her eyes and with hands outstretched and holding a glass of Prosecco…”who would have thought?”

We, Jan and me, have a wonderful support group of five women from our beautiful valley who have dubbed ourselves ‘The YaYa Queens”.  The name just came to us, it sounded good and fun, and so we five, Linnaea Donlin, Susan Kampreth, Nancy Lambing, and Jan and me became the YaYas.  Five loving and giving women of good character who give of ourselves, helping make this beautiful valley a charitable place in which to live and raise your families.  We and their Hubbies VOLUNTEER …Valley Churches United, Boys and Girls Club in SV, LOARC horse therapy program, Sheriff’s Office patrol and substations.  Some of us give of our time to writing columns for this newspaper and as well as service to the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury.  We are the Valley along with countless others, and we will continue our giving as soon as our valley is able to accept our works.

During this week of living in Happy Valley, we made a plan.  Jan, along with her dog Sherman and cat Archer have a new address…mine.

Grateful beyond measure that Ben Lomond was spared, my home will now become Jan’s new home for as long as Jan wishes.   My home, too quiet at times, will now be graced with love, laughter and who knows what to come.

After losing both of our partners, we are now on a new road, two great friends, together.

As Jan has said…”who would have thought”!

Design – put the below “recipe” in a colored box, maybe a heart?

From my Happy Valley is this Recipe for Survival:

1 cup of Patience

1 cup of Kindness

1 cup of Mercy

1 cup of Compassion

1 cup of Tenderness

1 cup of Humor

Stir all ingredients together and serve at the beginning of each day, remembering that “one act of kindness can change a person’s life forever.”

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