In Search of a Way to Tell This Story

Today is a special day for me and my son. It’s his birthday so the other post I have written will have to wait a day. I woke this morning knowing I had to write about him.

18 month old in Taiwan.

18 month old in Taiwan.

It’s really hard for me to come to grips with the idea of my child being 47 years old. In the blink of an eye he went from being a tow-headed mischief-maker to a shiny domed, salt and pepper bearded mischief-maker. Some things never change. This man who is my son, lights up any room he goes into and makes people smile. His patience is legendary. I don’t know how many false cuts he had to make on molding to get it just right, but not once did he lose his temper and walk away. Nor would he if someone else had done it.

The work just never ends

The work just never ends

The story of his birth is one I have tried to write many times. I’m going to attempt it again with my new writing group next year. The sum of it is we almost didn’t get to keep him. He was born with Hyaline Membrane Disease, also called infant respiratory distress. As soon as he was born, they put a gas mask on me to put me to sleep. I didn’t see him for 10 days

The prognosis was grim. No oxygen right away meant likely brain damage and possible or probable death. I was a very young mother. It was beyond my scope to understand but I knew one thing for certain. If I was going to lose him, I wanted to hold him or at least see him. They threatened to tie me to my bed to keep me away.

Many hours had passed from his birth to when the doctors came to tell me how bad it was. I can promise you that if I was being told I would be tied to my bed, the drugs had long since worn off. My in-laws were called to come back to the hospital to be with me and help me cope.

After the bastards doctors left my room, I did what most mothers would do in this situation. I prayed, hard. When I got to the point of the prayer of acceptance for whatever outcome was handed me, I had the most profound spiritual experience of my life. It changed me, and my outlook. When the in-laws arrived, they thought I was nuts. All I could do was pat MIL’s hand and tell her my son would be fine. I was comforting her. I was unconcerned with the diagnosis of brain damage, though we sometimes still question that with some of his antics. I was certain death was not on that day’s agenda.

oops. Can I leave them this way?  Naw.

oops. Can I leave them this way? Naw.

His birth taught me many things. Our children are on loan to us to love, nurture and release. They are a gift, not a possession. At any moment we must be ready to release and trust. I know of many women who have lost children; infants or adult children. I understand their pain. That day changed me from a religious person to a deeply spiritual one.

Dancing around the molding to paint it.

Dancing around the molding to paint it.

He has dimples where our Angel kissed him to remind us of how much love there is in the Universe. I learn from him daily what love really looks like. He holds my hand to make sure now that I don’t fall like I did when he was young. His kindness and honesty inspire me to be a better person. He makes me the envy of many mothers on how he makes sure I know I’m loved and appreciated.

I won the lottery with both my children but today is his day and his story, told to the best of my ability in fewer words than I would like to use. I could get quite effusive here.

Happy Birthday son of mine. Let there be so many more.

Have you ever had a spiritual experience that changed you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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In Search of An End To This Madness

It’s been two weeks already. The photos I have taken make it look like it’s till Halloween. We didn’t dress up for Halloween but any of these get-ups would have worked quite well.

I'm the holder of the balance pole. I

I’m the holder of the balance pole. I

Ninja painter? Scary job

Ninja painter? Scary job

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have moved a great deal. I forgot to mention that many of those times my children moved with me. It’s become contagious. They have moved more than most of their friends too. Obviously, I don’t think they are done either.

What is it about moving that stirs up so many contrasting emotions? Delight at new possibilities, fear of the unknown, grief over lost friendships and familiar surroundings are all part of those emotions.

My son did the entire job by himself. There was no tub in the master bath.

My son did the entire job by himself. There was no tub in the master bath.

He had a good start before I got here with the important stuff...books

He had a good start before I got here with the important stuff…books

I was discussing with my son the other night after packing his glassware under layers of baking pans that I should hire myself out as a packer. I pack to get stuff where it’s going undamaged. He reminded me of all the times I helped to move him and his sister as well as my own sister from their places of residence.

In the beginning. The top started out backwards.

In the beginning. The top started out backwards.

It's complete now but no photo.

It’s complete now but no photo.

How do two small women move an extra heavy king sized mattress down the stairs and across the parking lot to a waiting rental truck? My daughter and I couldn’t lift it so we slid it down the stairs to the front door. Then I started laying out cardboard boxes one in front of the other. As we slid the mattress over one set of flattened boxes, I’d pick them up and place them in front of the mattress again and keep sliding. Then we tipped the mattress into the truck with brute force. Yes, two little women can conjure up brute force when the conditions are right. That was another long story that I will tell one day.

Spray painting is the way to go in very high places

Spray painting is the way to go in very high places

Here’s how I pack artwork without paying for expensive packing. They always make it to their destination safe if properly wedged in somewhere.

Painting slid into still flat box and all the edges taped.

Painting slid into still flat box and all the edges taped.

When my last husband and I moved from the home he originally shared with his first wife, we moved a 58 foot 18 wheeled truck jammed full of stuff. They put an 8 foot box on the back of the trailer and we drove a pickup and car…filled. That was the pared down version of my ex’s collection of stuff. I’m living a much simpler life now and never moving it again… I hope. My books are happy just where they are.

So our next project before inspection and appraisal is the moldings around the doors and floors. The main bathroom has had the slow drain problem repaired after the wall had to be cut open. The plumbers installed a clean-out valve so the new owners don’t have to go through that again. It was 90 degrees here today. I’m ready to go home and watch it rain. And rain. And rain.

The hole in the wall bandit at work.

The hole in the wall bandit at work.

We took the slow way home so nothing blew off. The box lifted molding up for better visibility and we needed one that size.

We took the slow way home so nothing blew off. The box lifted molding up for better visibility and we needed one that size.

Moving is madness but sometimes it’s a must. Things happen and we must adjust. Are you dug in deep or still feeling the pull of wanderlust? Can we bring an end to this madness or must we go bust?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of Something Spooky

It’s Halloween again. I have to admit it has not been my favorite holiday but it’s growing on me thanks to the blogging community, especially the queen of Halloween herself at Gardening Nirvana. She made her own costume and it’s incredible as are her pumpkins and cards. Here is my daughter’s version of pumpkin carving. She had so much fun doing it.

My daughter had a pumpkin carving contest at work. Her's is spooky...ish

My daughter had a pumpkin carving contest at work. Her’s is spooky…ish

Halloween is my blogging anniversary. This is my third Halloween. I re-read my first blog and it was a sad thing indeed. I’ve learned one or two things since and hope to learn and grow even more with your help of course. Every time I thought I should give it up, one of you cheered me on.

They glow and make noise if you jiggle the battery box. Spooky?  eh. Not so much

They glow and make noise if you jiggle the battery box. Spooky? eh. Not so much

This year was going to be different. I decorated the outside of my new/old home. My daughter loves Halloween and really gets into it so we made a trek to the Halloween store and picked up many things to put in my yard. It was the first time ever to decorate outside. I got out all the cute things I had for inside the house but they were never put into place.

reaching from the grave. Is it at all spooky?

reaching from the grave. Is it at all spooky?

You know that phrase “make plans and watch God laugh”? Well the heavens opened up with a belly laugh. I’m not home for Halloween this year. I’ll be painting all day on my son’s halls and stairwell. Let me tell you, if I hand out candy after a day of painting, I’ll scare everyone, not just the kids.

We hung orange lights so  the skeleton wasn't scared at night. It's spooky out there in the dark.

We hung orange lights so the skeleton wasn’t scared at night. It’s spooky out there in the dark.

Bedrooms and molding also have to be painted hopefully before the appraiser comes by. I’ve packed a few more boxes and held up lighted mirrors as he screwed them to the wall. I let in the contractors that put in the new counter top and sinks in the master bath taking photos so he could see the process while at work. Someone will have a beautiful master bath that has not been used yet. We are expecting hoping for a flawless escrow and to be out of here by Dec 1.

Those chains on that little fence won't scare me. How about you?

Those chains on that little fence won’t scare me. How about you?

My son will be at work till late on Halloween. (Not bad for a guy that was just laid off from a job) He’s doing freelance to keep paying the bills and so far it’s working. That’s spooky if you ask me. Having a huge mortgage and no job. Somehow, everything just keeps working out. He’s in escrow without a realtor. Yes, that’s scary too.

Here is something that really spooks me. Especially when I don't see them ahead of time. Creepy crawlies.

Here is something that really spooks me. Especially when I don’t see them ahead of time. Creepy crawlies.

My daughter and sister will be at my house handing out candy to the kids that brave the rain. I’ll be sitting out front with the rest of the neighbors here in the warm dry weather. There has been no significant rain here in the last year. That’s scary but not spooky. My daughter made her costume this year herself. The hat she wears all the time to start conversations was the starting point. You can barely see the earrings hanging from the horns. I’m tickled with the whole look of it.

She's quite proud of the final look. Me too. Can you tell she's part Swedish?

She’s quite proud of the final look. Me too. Can you tell she’s part Swedish?

She even decorated the backpack she uses every day on the train.

She even decorated the backpack she uses every day on the train.

I would never have thought of all this.

I would never have thought of all this.

Not much really spooks me anymore. How about you? What spooks you?

Happy Spooky Halloween.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of the Next Big Adventure

Things change fast in my little world. I was finally catching my breath. Completing the simple pillowcase dress that is going with many others to an orphanage in Haiti, and 2 quilt squares for my quilting group that scared me to pieces. Quilts do that to me. I was ready to get on with the unpacking and putting away of MORE BOOKS.

Simple drawstring dress for little girls with so little

Simple drawstring dress for little girls with so little

bottom border of the dress

bottom border of the dress

I bought 3 more bookcases so I could get the rest of my books out of storage and eventually get a smaller, more inexpensive unit. I have more to give away and more to sell. There has been a lot of work going on here and a lot of play. Let’s break this down into bite sized chunks.

This was the prototype (experiment)  to see how the final one would look

This was the prototype (experiment) to see how the final one would look

I thought about making another like this prototype but changed my mind.

I thought about making another like this prototype but changed my mind.

My house is starting to look like a home and my sister who has been with me for the last three months is looking for a place of her own closer to her new job and all the places she goes to regularly. My place puts a lot of miles on her truck so the search is on.

Now I’ll be heading back to California for a month of working with my son to pack and paint his house. He has an offer on his home and they want a 30 day escrow. There is no realtor involved so they must do the paperwork. After putting my home together with the help of my children and sister, I’ll be helping to dismantle his.

ready to turn in and combine.

ready to turn in and combine.

A closer look at my take on a quilt square

A closer look at my take on a quilt square

This little birdy faces the other way.

This little birdy faces the other way.

My quilt squares were turned in this week and I thought they would be put into a big quilt and raffled off. That wasn’t the case. They were divided in two and names drawn to win each of the stacks of 12 blocks. I won a stack and now I’m supposed to put it together and bring it to the Christmas meeting. It’s obviously not going to happen. I doubt I can get it done when I get back in time for the December meeting but maybe for the party after Christmas. It will be a keepsake of each member that made a square.

We all started out with the same 2 fabrics. Then added our own touch. Now the fun begins...in December.

We all started out with the same 2 fabrics. Then added our own touch. Now the fun begins…in December.

Can you see why my mind is a little scattered these days? Our weather went from hot to canoe weather. Wish I could send some of it to those who need it. My son hasn’t seen significant rain in a year. I’m grateful every day I found this perfect place to be a platform for transitions. That’s the story of life. Nothing every stays the same. It’s all one big adventure, if you choose to see it that way. Go with the flow, that’s what the canoe is for. Paddle in the direction of the current, not against it.

Home is where we can ground ourselves and share with others. I hand embroidered this piece.

Home is where we can ground ourselves and share with others. I hand embroidered this piece.

Life has offered many challenges opportunities. Even my health challenges have an upside. Since my mouth doesn’t work as well as it used to, I spend more time listening and learning. So much for being the biggest talker in the family. On to this next adventure. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s your next big adventure?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Posted in journey to health, My thoughts about things | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

In Search of My Favorite

There aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in a year. I don’t think there is enough lifetime to pick my favorite. I could be talking about a lot of things here. In my mind I am but for this moment, I’m talking about quilts.

quilt of valor for our servicemen. This is why I quilt. Generous hearts in these quilters

quilt of valor for our servicemen. This is why I quilt. Generous hearts in these quilters

3 Native ladies

3 Native ladies

If you are not a quilter, please don’t despair and think this post is not for you. If you are an artist or an appreciator of art, as I am, than you will surely find something here to delight you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I like some art more than others but the creativity in others never ceases to astound me. Please don’t let me open a Pinterest page. I’m gone for hours.

A soft colored landscape made completely from fabric, but how?

A soft colored landscape made completely from fabric, but how?

Even letters and postcards can be made into fabric art

Even letters and postcards can be made into fabric art

I couldn't begin to sew on this since I'm already dizzy.

I couldn’t begin to sew on this since I’m already dizzy.

Modern look for a traditional pattern

Modern look for a traditional pattern

There was every form of fabric art imaginable at the NW Quilters Show. It’s a small show and I pared my photos down to a few of those that came out in spite of bad light. I wish I had room to show them all and if I knew how to do a slide show, I would. Maybe I’ll learn that this winter.

I see these ladies at every quilt show in their skirts made from  ties.  I have lots of ties to create with, just not enough hours...yet.

I see these ladies at every quilt show in their skirts made from ties. I have lots of ties to create with, just not enough hours…yet.

Something simple.

Something simple.

This has taken a while to post as I’ve been quite busy on my own projects. More on that later. I’m almost ready to catch my breath. The quilt show inspired me to keep trying to quilt and try new techniques. A day of appreciation is always inspiring.

What inspires you and which was your favorite.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of Truth Serum

Blogging 101 assignment: Write on the daily prompt on truth serum, who would you give it to (with permission) and what questions would you ask? Make it personal.

I would bet most everyone has seen the movie “Liar Liar” with Jim Carrey. It was a silly movie but spoke volumes about our culture. I laughed during the movie, then went home and cried. Speaking the truth was something I had to teach myself to do.

If I had truth serum, I would take it myself. I was taught early in life to evade the truth in favor of saying what others wanted to hear. Even when I spoke my truth, no one would listen or the consequences were dire. The person I lied to the most was quite obviously myself.

I’ve learned over many decades to read people and I can usually tell when I’m being lied to. I was not as good at recognizing when I was lying to myself. Telling the truth no matter what, is a skill that I have been working on for many years now. My kids taught me how to do that. They are remarkably honest and forthcoming no matter what the circumstances. How did that happen? Maybe because I was always delighted when they told the truth. Discipline was milder when the truth was told.

What questions would I ask myself? There is only one that still needs to be answered at this point in life. It’s the same one many of us don’t know how to answer.

What would make me so excited about life that I wouldn’t have to drag myself out of bed in the morning? Followed quickly by, what am I really in search of? Why do I keep eating junk when I know it’s bad for me? Am I insane? Crud, I already know the answer to the last question. So do you, I bet. I’m a writer after all. No truth serum necessary on that one.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of What Can’t Be Left Behind

Blogging 101 gave us another assignment that I’m tardy in completing. I tend to get bogged down with the technical assignments as in widgets and the blogroll vs blogs I follow. This assignment is to write about what prompted my comment on a new blog I’ve read and link you to it. This assignment was easy since a new blog I’ve started following inspired many thoughts.

Shaku Dreaming has so much fodder for thought I almost didn’t know where to start. We have a few things in common. We both left our country of origin leaving much behind. I was only four, she a grown woman. My mother had the same issue of what had to be left and what would be brought along. Mom snagged two pots her mother used to make the much sought after bread balls that go under luscious meat gravy. I don’t think she asked her mother before packing them. My toys were left behind as well.

I keep these within reach now.

I keep these within reach now.

As a person with ample belongings, I wonder if the start we had here contributed to the collecting of stuff. Shaku takes us through her reasoning process of what had to come along on her journey and what was left behind. While reading, I was reminded also of another time that decision was forced on me. Moves always bring those thoughts about but so does a fire evacuation. We experience that during Arizona’s Rodeo-Chedeski fire in 2002.

We at least had some warning and time to think about what to take and leave behind. When you are filling vehicles you look real hard and ask a lot of questions. Mostly, what can be replaced and what is irreplaceable. I have to be very forthright here. I never expected the fire to get to our neighborhood. The Governor had a home right across the road in a gated community. We also backed up to the Apache Reservation. I have to admit I was a bit casual about it at the time but evacuation wasn’t a choice.

Welcome to the parade. Thank goodness for tail lights.

Welcome to the parade. Thank goodness for tail lights.

Obviously there are photos, family videos, personal papers that can’t be replaced like my naturalization papers, passports and insurance documents. Computers but not sewing machines found their way into the vehicles. Dog food and blankets to make sure my best friend was always cared for. We brought very few clothes. It turned out we were evacuated for a mere 10 days. We also brought a cooler filled with some food and drinks. That came in handy in our drive across the desert in 110 degree heat. My daughter was following us in our pickup when the AC quit. We had her drop towels into the ice water and wrap them around her neck to keep heat stroke at bay.

It's fire proof but too necessary to be left behind unless necessary

It’s fire proof but too necessary to be left behind unless necessary

In my new house, those pots will soon find a spot on my wall with the other artwork created by my mother. They are no longer cook worthy but very much a memory. I think my car will be much lighter if I have to pack it again. Go by and see what Shaku found important.

There are many situations in life that bring us back to basics. What is really important? Have you thought about it lately?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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