Looking for answers to life's questions

Where to start

It would seem an easy decision. It is not. This month has been so busy that I didn’t know how much to tell you about or where to start. I guess I’ll start with a day trip my sister and I took.

I’ve lived in my house for three years  and my apartment for two after visiting Portland many times over the previous 20 years. My sister has been my  tour guide, knowing this area like few natives do. Driving for Tri-Met (Portland’s city bus co.) for 15 years gave her an advantage not many have. Her passengers were always treated to a dialog of great information about the city if they were from out-of-town.

Beautiful wood carving

Her daughter has been accepted into the honors program at the University of Denver in the fall and sis is going to help get her settled. Yes, sis came to parenthood very late in life in a nontraditional manner but the deep love and caring are just as intense.

my sister at the mt

Little sister in front of Mt Hood

As a precursor to the upcoming trip to the mile high city, sis thought it would be wise to observe how well she could handle the altitude. Given her geriatric age (I’m sorry little sister, I just had to) and the fact she has pulmonary fibrosis, I agreed. So off we went to somewhere she had never taken me to see. The infamous Mt. Hood. It is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc of northern Oregon according to Wikipedia.

getting close

Almost there. Nice highway to it.

 

I see it clearly every time I drive down the main street to my neighborhood. It’s quite impressive all covered in snow. But I couldn’t photograph it well while driving.

Only an hour from my home, the ride was not difficult. Sis does all the driving since I can’t go that distance anymore. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was lovely. I must say though, when we got there, I was not quite as impressed. Being on the mountain is very different from looking at it from a distance.

not so impressive

High desert is just like where I lived in Arizona. Not so impressive close up.

Timberline Lodge was built by the WPA in 1936 to 1938 and it’s beautiful. We had a rather expensive buffet lunch where I ate my money’s worth making it my only meal of the day. By the time we were done with lunch and started walking back to the truck, the 6000 foot elevation began to signal her it was time to drop down a few feet quickly.

Dining room for the buffet lunch. Good food and great view

I knew I could drive if necessary for a short distance though it turned out not to be required of me. Sis has checked in with her medical team to decide what can be done to make elevation a bit easier to do. There is no question she will make the trip to Denver. It was quite an eye opener for us. I lived at 7200 feet before moving here and neither of us had a problem at that time. Lungs are a delicate thing.

I have been busy enough that more will follow shortly. Have you had any experiences you have waited a long time to enjoy?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

This rhyme was first recorded in A. E. Bray’s Traditions of Devonshire 

This popped into my head this morning on waking. My mind had it wrong. It kept singing Thursday’s child works hard for a living. Since I’m a Thursday child I figured that’s why I push so hard and work so hard. The joke’s on me. I do remember thinking once when reading this rhyme correctly, that “the far to go” part had something to do with all the moving around the world I’ve done. It’s such a sweet rhyme, I think sometime my children were so fortunate to both be born on Friday’s. For them, the rhyme holds true. They are both loving and giving with tender hearts. Mother Goose, who this rhyme is attributed to, got it pretty darn close.

My son took this and sent it to me. He said this is what hard works looks like. Me sitting down on the job.

I was raised by parents that thought if you were sitting down, they would find something for you to do. If we wanted to just sit, it was done outside and out of their view.

I changed the oil, now help me up please

Working hard comes natural to me and I still do it though as I age, with much less vigor. My daughter bought a little sign for me that says “Don’t just do something, Sit there” I make her tired just watching me. There is a lot more sitting going on these days but rest assured, if I’m sitting, I’m still doing something. Reading your wonderful blogs, writing in my many journals, or doing handwork.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to sit and watch television without having my meal at the same time (yes, I know it’s not good to do that), have my laptop working or some kind of needlework to keep my hands busy.

Sewing and quilting is not as much sitting down as jumping up and down. You sew a seam and get up and press the seam. It keeps one from getting stiff from sitting. My motion tracking device reminds me hourly to get up and move just in case my knees don’t. Most days during the summer months, that’s not a problem.

There has been so much to get done that I have to make a list of priorities. My driveway is clear again so there can be no complaints from the management. Don’t look in my shed or under my beds though. Every day is “clear something out day.”  I reorganized my sewing room to store an extra board, and the top of my closet because the shelf was off its brackets. I so wish my organizing friend lived closer.  With all the work I have done, I still have far to go.

Slowly, ever so slowly the process goes

How about you, does your day of the week apply?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Puzzle

I am not always good at solving puzzles. I don’t “do” puzzles for fun. A sewing pattern or quilting directions are puzzle enough for me. If I buy box furniture that has to be assembled, I call my sister. She has a better spatial sense and reads directions better.

It all together and in place.

My sister thought it was fun to put it together

My son, “Tech Support” was here for 10 days to attend a couple of graduation parties and to deal with what was left behind last winter that was too heavy for his rental truck before the management decided to write a complaint. The have been across the street every day since my neighbors back yard started disappearing down the creek. That means they are looking down my driveway. So far they have been distracted.

We started that weekend with a community wide yard sale. Last year on this weekend it was 100 degrees and nothing sold. This year it was 60 and raining. I managed to sell my dining room table and chairs. None of his stuff sold so it all had to be moved.

It was too big and heavy-looking so it finally sold to a neighbor.

My son has excellent skills with puzzles and they were seriously tested this week. They didn’t test him, they tested my ability to watch him put this puzzle together with confidence. I didn’t get nearly enough photos of the progress. To save money on fuel, my son drove his small car instead of a friend’s bigger pick-up truck from his home in Arizona. It doesn’t tow much weight and he had a lot of heavy steel to tow. Rental trailers were heavy and expensive.

He actually reads and understands the directions!

So then comes the brilliant idea to buy a trailer. I suggested we take my Suburban to fit the box in the back with more ease. Tech Supports eyes got big. “I thought they came all put together.” When I expressed doubt, he made a phone call. Sure enough, it came in a box to be put together at home. He had one day to put it together and one day to get it loaded before his long drive back. Tools had to be purchased and of course there were hitches that didn’t quite fit, lights that were broken and wiring that needed to be done. When I needed a trailer, I rented one, let them hook it to my hitch and drive away.

His sister is pretty good with puzzles too but mostly offered moral support and maybe a hand once in a while.

I was greatly surprised at the lack of blue words coming off the driveway as this puzzle was systematically put together. Many trips were made for replacement parts and other tools. I’m an old woman. I have very few tools here. The extent of my help was to hold onto things, hand others and feed the machine that figured everything out. I must admit, I shook my head a lot thinking this tiny trailer was never going to hold all that weight.

We started with it upside down, added wheels then flipped it over.

Can I tell you how impressed I was that Tech Support got this puzzle solved and everything loaded by 10 p.m. his last night here? We were up very early to load up clean laundry and snacks along with other miscellaneous items that had been previously left behind. I fully expected a call if he got as far as the top of our hill saying that the tires had popped. Instead there were the calls to report that he was sitting in standstill traffic and finally the one I most wanted. He had made his two day driving destination into California to attend the memorial service for his step-father. He won’t be alone on the last leg of his trip to Arizona so I can retire my worry beads and get some much needed rest.

Nothing moved as it was all quite heavy. He had the car packed heavy too.

It was cold and wet in Oregon, baking hot in California

How are you at following the directions that come with products? Are you a fan of puzzles?

“Sometimes the hardest pieces of a puzzle to assemble, are the ones missing from the box.”~ Dixie Waters

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

This post is about gratitude. Deep gratitude. In the weeks since my last post, my gratitude list has increased exponentially. The kindness, support and ideas I have received from the blogging community has been almost overwhelming. It’s given me the strength and courage to press on, persevere and work on some of their ideas for helping others.

One of many roses that have bloomed to cheer me.

I ventured into our employment service here and registered as well as speaking with a Work Source assistant. She looked at everything I had filled out and realizing I had not held a job since the mid 90’s, with a spotty history of employment, (I  was the full-time caregiver for several family members after that time) she suggested that I check out nursing homes for possible volunteering, potentially checking out my next residence at the same time.  In not so many words it was gently implied that I am not particularly employable. I had an inkling of that fact already. I’m still not ruling it out. So on to option B. Whatever that may be.

We clocked the distance with the car. 1.5 miles straight up.

I take my walks now saying my gratitude’s out loud (softly, so the neighbors don’t think I’ve slipped a cog). I start with the list of what I CAN do. It’s quite lengthy. I CAN still walk.

I was able to help my 78 year old friend lift this into the cart. I CAN.

In all of this, I can still give. My friend, Emily gave me a couple of charity quilt tops she no longer wanted to finish. The pieces were all cut, all I had to do was sew them together following the pattern she gave me. I have one done. Finished this month’s quilt squares for the group charity quilt. I’m also still able to pick up a friend who is no longer able to drive and deliver her home.

Blogging friends have given me so many ideas that I have taken to heart. One has also suggested that in light of my understanding about how even the best of our plans can go sideways, sometimes we need a bit of a lift through a rough patch. I’m lucky that I have family and friends. Many are not so lucky. So we need to find a way to network and help each other.

I network here with local friends. We exchange plants so each of us can have something from the others. I’ve shared many pieces of my ever expanding ground cover, succulents, and exchanged several cordial glasses for a bottle of homemade Limoncello and a garden umbrella with stand to have on top of the terrace. Nice trade, right? I’m going to try making that friend a new swing cover. I’m looking at what I have here to work with to make, share or sell to help others as well as myself.

We are having a neighborhood yard sale this weekend. Hopefully some of my extra stuff can find new homes. Tech Support is here for the week and I’m hoping we can set up a website for networking while he is here. No outside projects this time. Instead of last year’s 100 degree temps, we have RAIN and 60 degrees!

The Rhodi’s where huge this year. Just needed a little love.

How do you find ways to pay it forward?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.~ Edward Everett Hale

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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Memory

I’m sure most of you have wonderful plans for this special day. We have the perfect weather here for celebrating. Cloud cover and not much above 80 degrees which is a break for us.

I spent yesterday repairing my son’s flag that had become a bit tattered from catching on the edge of the roof last year. No wind today will help keep it nice. I have lots of reasons to memorialize today.

Flags are out

Welcome to my humble porch.

Today would be the day my dad would have celebrated his birthday. Happy Birthday, dad. He served 20 years in the Army and felt quite lost when he retired. Here is his photo when he first enlisted and didn’t even have a name on his uniform yet. I do not believe he was 18 yet. Many lied about their ages then.

Just a baby really but he found a home

My first husband served  three years in the Army during the era of drafting so he chose to enlist. That worked out much better for him. It also changed him much like it did my dad.

He is with his parents so his sister keeps the markers looking lovely

So today I remember all those who have served and sacrificed for us as well as all those who hold a place in our hearts though no longer in our arms.

Have a wonderfilled day.

America is hope. It is compassion. It is excellence. It is valor. ~ Paul Tsongas

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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I’ve been ruminating on how best to write a sad story where no one ends up feeling sad. My goal in life has always been to look for the silver lining in every event no matter how challenging. Challenges follow all people throughout their lives. The Golden Years are no exception and not always as golden as one would hope.

The sun keeps rising no matter what else is going on.

If one looks at the challenges that are in front of them honestly, one will always see there was probably some part they played in creating the challenge. That’s where I’m standing now. I take full responsibility for the challenges that are now ahead of me and will find the silver lining in them.

There are decisions ahead that I really am not looking forward to making. The ruminating on the best course of action is one that so many have made. I’m not unique here. I just need to keep pressing in a forward motion.

I’ve made 8 so far with material to make more. I wish I sewed faster

A week ago, my last husband passed away after a long and hard illness. He had just had his 79th birthday and I have not seen or spoken to him in the last 5 years. Though I had hoped we could remain on friendly terms, his adult children had other plans. I have missed him even though I knew the choice I made was the best one for everyone concerned. He is now no longer in distress or discomfort and I have never wished him anything but good. This is where I keep the long story short.

There are often rainbows before and after storms

I am now faced with a significant reduction in income that I found out last year was going to happen. Trying to ready myself for it did not happen fast enough. I think it’s been boiling in the back of my mind for months but I couldn’t figure out a good plan. Denial only works so long.

 

As I talk to other women my age who are living on their own quite happily, I find many are also trying to keep their heads above water in so many ways. While speaking with a neighbor about the possibilities of employment, she offered some insight as well as admitted that she would never be able to stop working even though she is well past retirement age as am I.

It’s not a comfortable place to find oneself. I saw my own mother outlive her money after my father died. Like I said, I am not unique here. I’m trying to bring in a little light to a subject that I think needs attention as well as explain my distraction and absence. It’s life in session and I’m in class. Lesson learned and more to come.

You can almost see where the bottom of the rainbow landed

Do you have a little light?

 “She must protect herself. There would be no one to do it for her. A plan started to prick up its ears inside her, slowly, but getting stronger.”
~ Catherynne M. Valente, “The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There”

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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What Spring?

It’s here, technically. Too warm to snow must mean spring. April showers and all that stuff. Well, we have had plenty of those. We had our wettest March on record and April has been no slouch. Our flowering trees didn’t.

Add high winds to that rain and you have a disaster in the making. My neighbor directly across from me has lost a major portion of her back yard and the two on either side of her have lost quite a bit as well. When I finally got a look at it, I was thinking a moving truck was in order immediately. Somehow, everyone there seems comfortable sleeping at night. The management, landscape and work crews from the park as well as the owner are here almost every day to check and see if anything has changed. There are no trespassing signs up and plastic fencing to keep everyone away. I didn’t get a photo being too stunned by what I saw. The buck is being passed around quite liberally.

High winds took down the fountain and brought someones metal roofing into my yard.

Two doors down from the major portion of the slide I noticed a rather tall tree that I don’t think had been leaning before taking direct aim at the house where an infirmed woman lives with her grandson. I was concerned. So I did what I could. I talked to the neighbor that knows everyone and everything. She said she would mention it to one of the work crew. I watched the tree as our April winds picked up and lo and behold, there was the entire entourage from park owner, management and crew watching as a professional outfit dressed to tackle the job. I have to admit, I got very little done that day other than watching the process. An old friend’s words came back to me as I watched, “You can’t beat a man at his own game.” The professional tree trimmer made short, safe work of the project.

My friend, Emily was coming over to organize fabric with me and I had to admit to my preoccupation with watching the poor tree come down. I hate to see trees get cut but this one had clearly lost its footing and was possibly going to hurt several people.

This week was a bit more productive. My friend, Sabine brought me a Forsythia bush she had started from one of hers and some ground cover. It took all day for me to carry buckets of heavy, wet clay out of a hole to the top of the terraces so I could plant the shrub. I got my exercise that day. The ground is a soggy mess with no drainage. I’ve added amendments and quality soil to give it a good start. The climbing rose bushes I dug out by the front steps last fall have oddly survive the serious neglect they got before going into more of that miserable clay in the back. The two lower terraces have been weeded, and hydrangea’s trimmed up.

 

In between my naps, visits with friends, and some organizing, I somehow got a baby blanket made getting some of baby girl flannel out of my tubs and to good use. I also was able to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her at a new Tea Shoppe. They were very nice but the food left something to be desired. I was just happy we could spend the day together before she headed to the beach with friends.


So how is your spring shaping up? Is the cold hanging on or is it being skipped for shades of summer already?

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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