Looking for answers to life's questions

Up to No Good

Up to no good. That’s the answer I usually give when someone asks me what I’m up to these days. Ask my daughter the same question and she will give the flip answer, “5’7”.  She’s kind of a smart a**. How do you answer a question like that quickly?  I can’t.

I’ve been almost busy and mostly lazy. Catching up on reading blogs, or more accurately, trying to, but they come in a lot faster than I can read and comment.

The work on the house had slowed for a while. In between rainstorms, my son built a side yard gate. I held pieces and parts while he put it together, then I stained it. Holding pieces and parts is important work.

I wanted it to look like it's always been there

I wanted it to look like it’s always been there

We started painting the house again. My son did the high stuff on the roof line. I took the rest. It’s slow work with a paintbrush. I finally got a small roller so I can move a bit faster on the rest but the cold rain slowed us down.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Not before we tried our hand at using the paint sprayer for the underside of the back porch roof. Talk about a messy job. We tented the whole area and he wore a respirator so as not to breathe in over-spray. Days later, he says he could still smell the paint. It’s the only way to paint large areas over your head. More progress soon.

I have pulled lots of weeds and will get to them again soon. The entire upper hill was covered in them but I managed to clear enough to plant 3 lilac bushes. Planted a few daisies and more ground cover including some a generous neighbor gave me. She was clearing something out of her perfect yard that is called Snow on the Mountain and it’s supposed to be a good ground cover as well. Some of my hyacinth bulbs are coming up in spite of the fact I may have planted them too late.

I’d be outside working or working on a sewing project but it all has to wait a bit longer. I had cataract surgery on Thursday in hopes of correcting the blurriness in the only eye that’s useful. So far so good. It will take a bit of time to heal but I should be able to resume my work in a couple of days so I’m watching the weather for the perfect temp to paint and weed. Meanwhile, quilting and writing are on the back burner, simmering, smoldering, ready to ignite. Since my glasses aren’t working now, a new pair will be ordered in about 6 weeks when the healing is complete Good thing I can make the print big so I can at least keep working here.

 

So what are you up too? I hope it’s something interesting and fun or at least tall.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Where I write

I woke up this morning to a challenge. For some the challenge was met quickly. For me, it took the best part of the day. I needed a photo, it was dark so I waited for daylight.

Celie at The Kitchens Garden challenged all of us who follow her blog to post photos of where were write. She has a lot of people following her blog and they are called the fellowship. It’s almost like a family. They care about each other and we are entertained daily by a myriad of creatures with personality galore.

I find it fascinating the wide variety of people drawn to her blog about a tiny woman from New Zealand farming in the Midwest US. She writes wonderfully as well.

I’d like to be a better writer and maybe one day it will happen, but it has to happen from here.

I spend a lot of time here. Writing, hand sewing,readomg and watching a bit of TV

I spend a lot of time here. Writing, hand sewing, reading and watching a bit of TV

I don’t do a desk anymore. The heat that I can turn on in the back of this recliner is pure decadence. The old back doesn’t care for straight backed chairs anymore. Now if I could get this recliner to fit under the sewing machine, there would be so much more done in there too. I’ve done a little writing in my bed but I didn’t make it today. There hasn’t been time. It’s been a day full of surprise and changes in plan.

Where do you do your writing? Be sure to check out all the other places from which the following writes.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

My trip to Phoenix brought many wonderful experiences wrapped up in 5 days. I had mentioned we visited 3 different quilt shops during the week and they were not created equally.

The very last shop was visited on my last day. My friend couldn’t understand why they would put this quilt shop in such a hard to find place, an isolated shop in the back of a mega business park. As we walked in, I saw there was very little fabric in the store. It was small by most standards with a few beautiful things on display at the doorway. That’s as far as I got. For 10 minutes or more I circled the large baker’s rack that held the most beautiful quilt I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot.

CC Best Quilt EVER

CC Best Quilt EVER

First view coming inside the door

First view coming inside the door

I wanted it! I knew if it were for sale it would cost thousands of dollars. I tried to photograph it but my phone could only capture so much. My friend saw another acquaintance and they began a conversation about this work of art. My body then began to follow my eyes. There was one item after another that just left my mouth hanging open. Enough time and many questions later reveled the quilt was there for a class. There would be a class! And I couldn’t attend. The class would be held after I left, last several hours then a few months later another class for several more hours. Insert sad face here.

We gawked and chatted a bit more and another familiar figure popped out for my friend. It was her instructor of the pattern paper bird class. And the quilt, jackets and several other things were hers!!!

CC Original. My friend made one at this class

CC Original. My friend made one at this class

She would be teaching the classes on the quilts and my friend knew her. When she saw my lust for her works of art she showed me more. It just kept coming out of boxes and bags. Not all were my taste but all were unique and stunning in their own way. I thought my phone camera would overheat from use. Carol was delighted that I liked her work. I asked if she had it on Etsy or anywhere. No, but it might be necessary because there was so much of it and no more room at home. Hmmm.

Carol Collette published in Quilt magazine.

Carol Collette published in Quilt magazine.

Would we call this woman a hoarder? Not me. I’d call her a very talented fiber artist. And she was willing to share her skill with anyone that wanted to learn. Unfortunately, there are some things you can’t teach.

A website needs to be set up for her so she can showcase her Art and sell it directly from there. She had thought about a website but didn’t know how to go about it or if she could afford it. You shouldn’t hid this kind of talent. So I’m showing off for her and seeing what can be done to get her up and running.

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My friend had signed up for the class on the quilt and is hoping to have her knee healed enough from her fall to participate but they will not let her drive for 3 months after the seizure so it’s unlikely. Maybe the next time it’s offered. I would like to see classes like this offered here and she will travel if we can get a group and a sponsor. See me smiling?

Where do you find new and unique modes of Art? Have you seen any lately?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Is it a spring and does it really go forward? Last Saturday evening, I turned the time on my watch forward an hour. It’s just one measly hour for goodness sake. I saw no spring anywhere. Not in the darn cold, wet weather, not in my body the next morning crawling out of bed at 5 a.m. which was actually 6 a.m. My son had a plane to catch so we had to move fast, like it or not.

I had just come home from a busy week in Phoenix. Trust me, I could find no forward spring here. Just one behind after another.


I took enough pictures while I was in Phoenix to make at least two posts. Too many for one, certainly. The first place I was taken after getting my luggage and joining my friend was my favorite independent bookstore.

 

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Looking for books and other good stuff

Looking for books and other good stuff

Changing Hands bookstore is a new and used bookstore with a little bit of everything. Next door with no wall between the two businesses was the Wildflower Bread Company. In the early years of living in the Arizona Mountains, coming to Phoenix took almost four hours on winding mountain roads. You made those trips count. Along with a major grocery shopping, I checked into a cheap motel for four nights and spent three days in the bookstore going to workshops on writing, and meeting authors for book signings. Dan Millman and Allison DuBois were there that week. Ms. DuBois had dinner at a restaurant in our small town during ski season so I was delighted to hear her speak and have them both sign my books. I’m nerdy that way. I ate 3 meals a day at the Wildfire Bread Company, it was that good and not at all expensive.

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

This trip to Phoenix was to see the friend who insisted I learn to quilt and join her mountain quilt group. She has been doing it for more years than I know and in spite of her major osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, she just keeps cranking those works of art out.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

My first visit back to the area was to check on this sweet friend who just turned her life upside down. It’s her story to tell so let me just say that after 56 years of marriage at the age of 74, she had to make major changes to save her own life. I needed to see firsthand how she really was doing. She always has a smile and a brave face.

Always a smile for everyone

Always a smile for everyone

The body often tells a different story. I trust the words of the body more than the words of the mouth. She was exhausted. I wanted to inspire, help in some way and not drain her more. We took care of some business that she needed to attend to and I walked with her and Charlie twice each day. Charlie keeps her moving in this difficult time. He’s a hugger. Literally! He puts his head on your shoulder and front paws on either side.


We went to three different quilt stores just to see what might move us or what we could learn. She had just downsized as I had in my many moves over the last 6 years. Fortunately, there is always something around to inspire and delight. Her work alone did that for me.

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Once I left and she had a little time, her sewing room was properly organized in her new rented condo to start creating beautiful treasures again, keeping her mind in a happy place. Making art in any form is good for the soul. She said she has a new spring in her step now. I need that spring! Where the heck is it?

Arizona style condo

Arizona style condo

Are you springing forward or still lagging behind? Or are you lucky enough not to be victim of the obnoxious daylight saving time? Arizona is one lucky state.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Do you sense a theme here? Sleeping isn’t something I do much but the sleep I do get seems to be better. In spite of my discomfort with that horrid C-pap machine, I’m waking more “rested”.

Up until a few years ago, I had my little dog, Schatzie sleeping on my bed. She was quiet all night and never seemed to mind my tossing and turning or the occasional snore fest.

Lucille is my sister's new rescue. She is a year and a half and came to visit this week.

Lucille is my sister’s new rescue. She is a year and a half and came to visit this week.

Now I sleep with just books and notebooks in my bed. My headboard is littered with them and so is the bookcase beside my bed as well as the nightstand next to it. Everything in my life is designed to accommodate my books and notebooks. That includes e-readers.

The other side of the headboard looks just like this.

The other side of the headboard looks just like this.

I don’t read like a normal person. I can read four separate books in one night. Once or two chapters each. I may read a bit from a magazine, a short story book, a non-fiction and a fiction. That’s after I’ve done my journal writing and gratitude list.

 

My sister is reading and loving it now that I'm done. I'll have to order dinner next.

My sister is reading and loving it now that I’m done. I’ll have to order dinner next.

Recommending books is not something I usually do. The book a person is supposed to read will appear at the right time and place for them. I can be excited about one and tell you about it but you may not be ready for that book now…or ever.  These are just a few that I have read lately.

 

Some of the journals and books that sleep in my bed.

Some of the journals and books that sleep in my bed.

I’ve had books fall off the bookstore shelves at me, slide forward on my own shelves or just jump into my Amazon cart from nowhere. I have books on crafting, painting, sewing, quilting, writing, quantum physics, spirituality, children’s books, novels, short stories, and the list goes on. Who has time to sleep?

 

I'm not fond of white t-shirts but I loved this one so much it turned purple.

I’m not fond of white t-shirts but I loved this one so much it turned purple.

My e-reader is filled with self-help books of every manner. Many are filled with wonderful quotes that keep me in a positive frame of mind. I don’t naturally lean that way and must stay cautious. I want to learn something new each day by any means possible. Happiness to me is a bookstore or a fabric store and best viewed with a creative friend.

I couldn't put this one down.

I couldn’t put this one down.

 

There are novels on my e-reader written by fellow bloggers that only write e-books. I wouldn’t want to miss any of those. Some have to wait a bit to be read but I’m making shorter work of them as the winter projects draw to a close. I’ve read several by Maddie Cochere and Jackie Phillips. They are entertaining and light as well as have a bit of humor which sends me off to sleep with a smile. The only reading done early in the day are all the blogs I follow. That’s done over morning coffee.

This is the fourth book of Maddie's I am reading.

This is the fourth book of Maddie’s I am reading.

Jackie has this writing thing down pat

Jackie has this writing thing down pat

Another of Jackie's with more to come.

Another of Jackie’s with more to come.

As I take off for my trip to Phoenix to see a friend, there will be no hard copies of books going along. Just my journals and a notebook as writing sometimes requires pencil and paper to let the thoughts flow.

I loved this book on creativity!! Most helpful and I finished it quickly

I loved this book on creativity!! Most helpful and I finished it quickly

I will probably find a bookstore while I’m there. Hopefully my favorite in the Mesa area called Changing Hands It’s an independent book store; my favorite kind. I would probably sell my soul to own one. Right now the bookstores own me. If Heaven doesn’t have books, I’m not going.

What are you reading these days? Do you keep books by your bed or in it?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Procrastination is an art form born of fear. I tend to put things off knowing that somehow everything will be harder than it appears in the directions. Every report card I had in grade school had a small notation at the side saying “Marlene does not follow directions well.” I just never read them through properly resulting in my own unique version of the completed assignment. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Most of us are not direction junkies or follow written directions as a last resort. And I can tell you from a great deal of experience, most directions are not well written to start with so why bother with them only to be totally confused.

christmas braid done 2016

Christmas braid bought 7 years ago. Finally, finally finished. Not perfect but done.

christmas braid back

Happened to have the perfect match to back it and bind it. Lucky me.

Sewing is about following directions. It never goes well for me. Especially if the directions “ASSUME” I understand what they want me to do. I had a friend bring a “pattern for dummies” to me on making a shopping cart cover for her grandchild. We read the directions a dozen times each and I finally just said, “screw the directions” and showed her how to put it together. I think I’ve spent more time taking apart things than putting them together or had one square going one way and the next one a different direction.

MG done

After a year and a half, it’s completed with borders, binding and quilting

MG done Back

I even learned how to put a sleeve at the top for hanging. Had to do it twice to get it right.

But in the end, something winds up completed. There is always a learning curve for me as most things I tackle are brand new to my scope of experience. I’ve made many shirts. Every pattern puts them together in a different way. Quilts are like that too. Getting one to completion is a big deal. Machine embroidery is probably easier for me. I enjoy it because there are fewer directions to follow. I have a very simple brain and pleads with me not to keep pushing so hard but I’m relentless in my pursuit of knowledge. Who needs a crossword or box puzzle when I have quilts and sewing patterns? There is also a deep seated desire to be creative and make pretty things. It drives me beyond my limits daily.

MG tshirt

My quilt group is called Material Girls so I made this to wear to the retreat and to meetings.

MG shirt center

Some thread color choices worked better than others. It’s a learning process

The very best part is that I have something tangible when I’m done. I can see it, touch it, wear it, cover up under it or gift it which is my favorite part. Even putting up a post on my  blog gives me that sense of accomplishment. I can see where my hours and hours went. I can listen to a book while I do some of these creative activities or even with handwork, watch something on television and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my hours.

The quilt I started on retreat is going to be ready to go in the mail before I leave to visit the friend in Phoenix who started me on the long road of quilting. I have not hugged this sweet lady in almost 6 years. I think the art of quilting has saved the sanity of us both.

 

almost done sams

Just finishing the binding then mail for Sam’s 75th birthday. Son’s former father-in-law and good friend

back of sams

Fleece backing for the man who loves wolves.

With the built in friendships we make of any quilter either real or virtual, we can get through anything life hands us. Many bloggers fall into this same category. They reach out a hand to one another across the internet and lift each other with encouraging words, even sometimes a bit more as is the case here. I received this book yesterday from my friend, at Living in Denim.

farmers wife book big

There is a CD inside to help create new and interesting quilts. A thoughtful gift from Lois whose friendship I cherish.

 

The perfect ending to a perfect day spent with blogging friend Sabine who lives close by. It just doesn’t get any better. Life is just all good.

What gives you that sense of accomplishment or is it even important to you?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Patti shot through the door of the sewing room and that was her first question for our group that had arrived two days prior. She was only staying for the day but we were happy to have our resident pot stirrer in our midst.

Patti's pumpkins have binding now.

Patti’s pumpkins have binding now.

There were only six of us at this retreat for the week. Another that had planned to come had been overcome by food poisoning at a church function and was in need of Urgent Care We kept hoping for a quick recovery but it just didn’t happen.

I fell in love with the framed crochet

I fell in love with the framed crochet

There were two new women brought to the retreat by another member of our group. The three of them shared a room. I shared a room with the other two members of our quilt group. With five beds to a room and more than four bedrooms, we had a whole room to spare and then some. There were even beds in the sewing room office if we were in need of a nap. We ended up sleeping three to a room.

If you need a nap between sewing projects, extra beds in the office

If you need a nap between sewing projects, extra beds in the office

It turned out to be a very amicable mix of women. You never know how a group is going to blend. This group worked well together like old friends. Each willing to teach and to learn from one another. We were all there primarily for rest (not so much) and relaxation. Wine helped that a lot. We each brought some to share but somehow, it was still done in moderation. After all, we still had sewing to do and some nights it was well past eleven when we gave up and headed back to the house.

Binding and banter into the wee hours of the night

Binding and banter into the wee hours of the night

Working in our jammies in the early morning until breakfast was ready

Working in our jammies in the early morning until breakfast was ready

 

jelly roll Christmas quilt done in record time.

jelly roll Christmas quilt done in record time.

 

Sunrise out the sewing room window.

Sunrise out the sewing room window.

Once again, Nancy’s Sew N Go delivered well beyond
expectations. If she ever decides to give up the quilting gig, she can cook anywhere and I know we will follow. There was coffee ready first thing in the morning for those of us that rise early and a separate brewing station in the sewing room with anything you wanted including an electric tea kettle. Of course there were snacks, fabric if we needed something and every quilting tool necessary should we fail to remember something.

Once again I wondered if I would ever try a different retreat. Those more experienced at this sort of thing swear this one exceeds every one they have ever been to and who am I to argue with experience? Most of the ladies were cranking out quilts faster than I could count. It took me all three days to get one top put mostly together. I came home quite relaxed and ready to sleep. My top is complete now and pinned for quilting. I’ll show it completed next time. Every quilt they made inspired me even more.

Sam's quilt with a good start on it.

Sam’s quilt with a good start on it.

 

Can you believe this is a donation quilt for a fund-raiser?

Can you believe this is a donation quilt for a fund-raiser?

 

I love the free-form Art quilt

I love the free form Art quilt

Connie had to copy but there are hidden bunnies in hers

Connie had to copy but there are hidden bunnies in hers

No one complained or heard my C-pap machine. I wasn’t bothered by any snoring and we all had the best time ever. One of our new friends wanted to stay longer so she locked her keys in the car. I wasn’t driving so I had to go home with my driver but left with leftovers to feed Tech Support. He’s offered to help edit color on Sew N Go’s new calendar when Nancy has all her photos ready. He’s been officially bribed and ready to work.

Baked taquitos were scrumptious and healthy. I brought some home for TS and his sister to try. Yummm!

Baked taquitos were scrumptious and healthy. I brought some home for TS and his sister to try. Yummm!

I’m not sure when I’ll do this again but would love to take a few classes that Nancy offers and she even does craft classes. Tech Support offered to drive me the 45 mile distance.

We are very serious about our meals.

We are very serious about our meals.

There was a time I could do that myself. It ended six years ago today when Bells palsy stopped me in my tracks for many of those early years.  Don’t wait for the right time to do things. Do them now. Who knew that at 61 my driving and sewing days would be pretty much over? I can at least once again get to the grocery and do a little sewing and quilting so I’m counting my blessings and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

The next generation of quilters coming up after dinner of course.

The next generation of quilters coming up after dinner of course.

Have you been sleeping with someone new? Maybe pushed your boundaries and had some extra fun?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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