Looking for answers to life's questions

In the middle of last week, fully (almost) recovered from my birthday blowout and some intense yard overhauling, I had a chance to do something I’ve only had the opportunity to do a few times before. I met a former blogger, Jan, from https://mommermom.wordpress.com/. She is no longer blogging but we have kept in touch through email and snail mail. I received a card several weeks ago that she had a little time before her flight from Portland airport and would I be available to meet? So, of course, I rearranged an appointment to go meet her in person. She was with a friend from college meeting other friends from college so it was lively conversation.

Satiated with lunch at Beaches

We had a lovely lunch and of course, we all had lots of questions. Jan no longer has a reliable computer and felt blogging was taking too much precious time from her large family. We all know how that is with more commitments than time.

Lunch was good, conversation was better.

Jan’s friend is a retired librarian and asked why I blog. I explained why I started blogging when I became so ill that I could do little else than read or write. No television, no sewing, no driving and barely being able to ride or walk without tipping over were a fact of life for well over two years. The more I thought about it the more I realized I didn’t fully answer that question. Why do I still blog when it crosses my mind like so many other’s whose posts I enjoyed, to give it up?

My birthday t-shirt. So very true

The simple answer is in the last line of the September t-shirt I wear. I have a mouth I can’t control. I’m a blabbermouth, a storyteller, a communicator. I love to converse and I will tell you about myself to get you to tell me about you. There is a level of trust involved here and I’ve never been let down and work hard at not letting anyone else down.

Thank you, Jan.

I don’t have time to blog. I also need this community more than it needs me. As I’ve healed from one profound illness and face another, bloggers have helped sustain a positive focus. Giving this up is like cutting a main artery. Friends I have made here will always be friends in my heart. The people I meet virtually all have good hearts and are trustworthy. Getting to meet them in person is an extra bonus. So, thank you Jan, for including me in your visit to the area. You and your friend were a delight to spend time with and I felt like we had know each other for years.

Asters in full bloom

Have you had chances to meet fellow bloggers? How was your experience of it?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

There has been so much going on that I almost can’t remember it all. The last two weeks of August and the first weeks of September were so packed that I slept a lot of last weeks trying to get my bearings.

My son (TS, tech support) came from Arizona to bring my daughter his car. They had three older cars in the driveway and his was not used except for long trips. It seemed logical to have my daughter pay her brother a reasonable amount each month instead of a bank. They both win. He will eventually get something more suited to his snow-covered mountain area. She will have AC in the summer and back warmers in winter, something she has been without for almost 10 years now.

My son took me for birthday lunch at my favorite German restaurant where we ate lightly, so we had room for my favorite birthday dessert. Yes, I had it twice this year. Then we proceeded to work it off in the back yard. He bought me a yard of ¾” rock for my birthday and unloaded it from my sister’s pickup. I helped by directing. We moved the landscape logs and added more so he could complete his vision for my back yard. He loves to move things around. Last time it was all the furniture.

TS shoveled it all.

He worked on my daughter’s old car finding that what the mechanics had said was wrong with it, was not. When I took mine in for an oil change, they told me the water pump was leaking and plugs and wires needed to be replaced. I had a new engine put in four years ago and all of that was done then. He called them on it and they verified it. We are looking for a new mechanic but I think it will always be the same story. My daughter needed the hinge on her old car door fixed. He broke the windshield but he fixed the door. I love that kid. Then he anchored an upright post the roofers failed to do. Does anyone need a lazy kid? Let me know if you find one. He’s not it.

Since my birthday fell on Labor Day weekend, my daughter and I had three days to celebrate. On Saturday we drove 30 minutes to the Swan Island Dahlia Farm for their yearly open house. This was my first visit since moving here. I had to share a few of the hundreds of varieties they grow. Can you find the bunnies in the mix?

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Sunday was breakfast at Bread and Ink downtown and then on to the Chinese Gardens for a little walk around and tea. Then to our favorite metaphysical bookstore, New Renaissance. They had a porch sale!

Three food groups, maybe? Waffle, fruit and whip cream.

A late lunch/dinner was at the Ram where I got my free birthday ice cream mudslide pie slice. Most of my dinner came home with me for later. Ice cream pie won’t keep.

Ice cream and hot fudge has to be shared.

Monday my sister joined us and bought lunch and dessert at Papa Haydn’s. If you ever get to Portland and have a sweet tooth, they have two locations and both have criminal desserts.

My sister also bought me a half yard of rock to fill in what the first yard did not. My daughter pulled a lot  out  with a hoe. Then the three of us pulled the canvas cloth off the plastic one onto the driveway. The guys at the landscape yard thought this was genius as it worked when they loaded the wrong size in the truck and I took it back for the right size. I was not going to settle for something that wouldn’t work for me.  It only took me one morning to get it all moved to the back yard. I ask for odd things for my birthdays. I’m a very practical Virgo.

Flowers from a very kind friend

Tuesday, I went on a diet that will last till my daughter’s birthday in April. I’ll pass on the holiday goodies this year. Birthdays are more important to me. I want another one..

I had another adventure this last week I’ll tell you about next time. Do you prioritize birthdays over holidays?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Plants

It’s been the busiest, craziest summer in so many ways. I’m supposed to be slowing down at this time in life. I’m thinking that as we age, most of us realize we are running short on time and want to stuff as much life and action into what’s left rather than just take it easy.

I have taken a hiatus from my sewing fun and friends as well as blogging to concentrate as much time as possible to getting chores around here completed. Once the carport was repaired, we concentrated on purging, gardening and getting expenses managed so my daughter could afford a car that ran to more than the mechanic. Mission accomplished. More on that next time.

This is the 1997 that’s finally going to get sold, hopefully

Next came getting 3 pickup loads of yard mulch. My sister volunteered her pickup and we did our best to off load it with a little help. My niece looks 12 but is 20 and worked like a trooper on the second load. I’ll tell you about the third load later too. The mulch goes around the plants so they don’t require so much water. The front is getting an update as well.

Rosemary has been trimmed back, lavender harvested so very early and the Albizzia tree that my son bought a couple years ago and planted has had several trims this summer just to get around it. I did not know it would be so large and unwieldy. It’s not in a good spot for the size it will get. Should have done more research.

Albizia is an invasive species in Hawaii

My Aster has started blooming three weeks early! Never before has it bloomed before September first.

Asters blooming in August

Asters later

I have a new plant given me by my friend, Sabine and it’s showing off it’s first bloom. I truly love being in the yard and playing in the dirt as long as it’s not very hot or sunny. I don’t see all that well in the bright sunlight even after getting a new prescription and glasses.

 

Pineapple Lily

Things started out well enough though I noticed I was having difficulty seeing clearly when looking down at the ground. I was using a shovel to lift the stepping stones so I could move them out. That job has not been completed yet since I found another kind of plant in the process.

The steps were buried under the ground cover. Time for a face lift.

 

A different look for me too.

You have heard of the Face Plant I’m certain. I thought I did marvelous in staggering over the shovel handle on my way down and only winding up with some serious road rash, bent my new glasses but no broken bones of any nature. All the padding makes me bounce well.

Face Plant with road rash

Since I don’t care much for that kind of plant and don’t want any more of them, I called my daughter to drive me to the eye care clinic. She was more than happy to leave work early on a Friday. It took the new optometrist three tries at a prescription due to childhood optic nerve damage but looking down is still a problem. So, no shovels will be left laying down. I prefer my plants upright, thank you very much. It did slow things down a bit but I’m almost back in business now. More to this story coming. I won’t dawdle this time, promise. I’ve missed you all.

My birthday t-shirt. So very true

Welcome to September. Have you had any unusual plants in your garden?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

What defines success?

I no longer have a clear answer. We spent days sifting through boxes and tubs with a brutality that neither my daughter nor I have ever embraced; purging two households into one manageable one. If there were duplicates one of us released the copy. I have a fully stocked kitchen and some of my daughter’s had seen better days.

Dogwood blooming finally.

So, we decided to do a yard sale. I know, I can hear the “I told you so’s” from here. It was a lot of hard work and my house still looks like a tornado hit. I have let go of so many hopes here but each time I put something on the pile, I felt lighter.

Made bowl cozies for the sale. Sold 4

It turned out to be a perfect day for it. I had missed the community yard sale due to my carport repair and we are so far out of traffic’s way that I had hoped a lot of free advertising would help. It didn’t.

My driveway is 60 ft. long and 13 ft. wide. I borrowed a few small tables from a neighbor. When I returned them the next day, I paid with homemade banana and pumpkin bread. We had two bookcases filled and more tables loaded our driveway. We brought forward the table and red umbrella from the back deck to draw in attention. I had extra help enlisted to keep eyes on shoppers and answer questions.

She’s making progress.

Was the sale a success? Depends on how you look at it. We sold almost nothing with the top shoppers being my sister and Crystal. One or two other items found new homes and we gave away as much as possible. I met a few neighbors and had nice conversations with others that did come by.

Vintage set along with lines will be listed online.

It turned out to be a fun afternoon with my sister, niece, daughter and fellow blogging friend, Crystal sitting around the table talking about everything imaginable. We had a pizza lunch and kept hoping for someone to stop by. We are one mile down in the park so not a lot of traffic here.

Orange flowers gifted by Sabine @ https://incahootswithmuddyboots.com/

What was left was sorted the next day into boxes. I loaded those that were ready into my car and when I couldn’t get anymore in, drove it to the donation center. We’ll load it up again this weekend. As soon as we can get an appointment at SCRAP, we will be dropping off more crafting supplies.

Our one customer with two of us trying to sell her something.

We lightened our load so my daughter can have a much smaller storage unit. At some point it would be nice not to have any at all but this kind of purging takes time. I still have a lot of velour, flannels and fleece as well as dressmaking material. It will all find a new home…I hope.

I’d call that a success. How about you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

*Two huge bags of fleece were donated to a neighbor making dog coats today and Friends of the Library can’t take my books. Onward.

The summer has started out with freezing cold and then oven temperatures then back to cold again. It’s in transition, just like many of us. Summer brings so many more projects than hours in a day as many of you know from experiences of your own. No more leisurely moments under a cozy blanket reading and writing. Summer always brings hard work even though it’s deeply enjoyable.

These are gone now but so pretty I wanted to include them again.

Mine has had an explosion of work, starting with getting my carport repaired. My son connected with someone who is somewhat family, (long story) and this sweet young man squeezed me into his very busy schedule while giving me the friends and family discount. (Still not cheap) It turned out there was a lot more rot and incorrect construction than originally anticipated. I expected that and made provisions for it.

Those kids (to this old lady) worked darn hard and did an outstanding job. I painted the plywood white before they put it up and the new support beams the color of the house so they would fade into the background. They should have been put there when the carport was built 14 years ago. I’ve had to wait 5 years to get it done but the next owner will feel so much safer now.

 

We are coming into inspection season in our park so my list is long. I have a yard sale planned for the last week of June to raise money for our animal shelters and lighten my load. I will be pressure washing my house, fence and porches then painting all that has worn down in the last year or two.

Free oregano that no one wants.

The garden is perking up nicely and several containers of green waste (weeds) have been recycled to compost. I will be painting the underside of the rest of the carport, the shed attached to the carport and some railings that succumbed to the rain this year. There are so many chores that need doing in the summer months that I almost don’t look forward to the warm weather. I don’t get as much time to write or sew. I’d like to sit under my trees with my feet in the dirt and know everything is in order. I’m sure I’ll get there by September. Maybe.

My kids say I create work for myself and then lament over the fact that I can’t get it all done in record time anymore.  I’m my own worst enemy. They may have a point.

So there you have it. My explanation of why I blog or visit your blogs rarely during the summer months. This weekend will be about getting stuff out of storage and ready for sale and donation.  I’ll try to visit again soon.

Happy Summer Solstice to you all. We will celebrate tonight wrapped up warm. It may get to 70 degrees today for a minute.

How about you? Are you finding time for things other than chores? Are you your own worst enemy or do you find the hard work creative and fulfilling?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Perfect Gifts

Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day. The list goes on. It’s even Graduation time and wedding season. This is the time of year you hear from people that never call or write, inviting you to things they know you can’t attend. It is gift giving time.

I want for nothing. My cupboards are full to the brim and my children are at wits end when they want to gift me and the same is true in reverse. We are a nation of too much stuff looking for ways to pass it on to those that are in need. Most of us are more than generous in our sharing but what do we do about our desire to gift?

Maggie Magellan hard at work.

I have found the best gifts are those of experience. My daughter’s birthday was last month and I gave her the class schedule for adult community education. I suggested she pick something she wanted to try and I would pay for it for her birthday. She chose a watercolor class. It happened to be at the same time, in the same building as the memoir writing class I’ve been wanting to take. Each Monday night for 6 weeks we go to our separate classes together. Yay!

Who needs navigation. Just follow the car in front of you.

Mother’s Day just paid us a visit and my children know better than to buy me more things. My son used my audible points to buy two books I had on my wish list. Then he put the cash in my checking account. I found a use for it.

Mother’s Day was a quandary for my daughter. She called me and said we needed a beach day. She made reservations for two nights with a great motel discount from work. It was cool, grey and internet was sketchy. Couldn’t have been better. I loaded the cooler with food for dinner and off we went through Tillamook to Newport and Nye Beach. The money my son put in my checking account gave me a bit to buy some cheese and jam at a great place along the way in Tillamook as well as ice cream at the creamery. We played all the way there and just chilled on the beach barefoot. Now that’s a good gift. So is listening to a favorite book in bed after wearing myself out walking in the ocean.

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I have a grandniece who just had a birthday earlier this month. At 18 and ready to graduate, I no longer knew what she would enjoy since we rarely connect. Smart girl that she is; with a generous heart, she posted a link to her Facebook page to donate to her local animal shelter directly. I didn’t even know you could do such things! I hope there is something similar for her graduation gift. I don’t know them well enough to pick something out.

Tillamook Creamery. Cheese and Ice Cream along with some learning

Sylvia Beach House high on the hill. Each room named for a different author. A favorite of mine.

I prefer handcrafted gifts but they are not very popular with young people. Since I’m so swamped with too much on my plate again, I’ll beg you all for ideas. My brain is on hiatus and gave no forwarding address. What do you do for such difficult gift giving situations? I’m open to all suggestions. Especially inexpensive ideas.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

All winter I mentioned  to my son that when he came for a visit, he should fly out and rent a large truck and take lots of stuff back with him. He had to drive one of those when he moved his things back to Arizona and it wasn’t fun. It was January, cold and lots of snow and ice all the way. It’s summer now, almost.

All 3 lilac bushes in the memory garden are blooming.

Does he listen to his mom? Not usually. I was hoping he would wait another month to come out until I was a little more rested and ready for the chores and clearing I was preparing to get done. Instead, they show up two days after I get back home from my trip visiting them driving the father-in-law’s pickup truck. I was absolutely certain that everything I had for him to take home would not fit.

They came to work. Tools in the back taking up valuable space but they came in handy. I had a list of big and little jobs for getting this place inspection ready and for the future sale when that should need to happen.

 

They worked hard each day completing projects that I had asked to be done and many that popped up out of current need.

Because my daughter is now living in the room they usually slept in, we had to make adjustments. I gave them my queen bed and tried the air-mattress in the sewing room floor. Didn’t do it for me so we tried to put it in the den and moved out the TV into the living room.

All the books had to be moved. I slept in there a night and it was slightly better. Mentioning it to my sister, she suggested we come get the full-size bed she wasn’t using. After the hour drive to her house, the kids did a good job of getting it down her stairs, into her open bed truck, then set up in my den. I now have a guest room again. I slept very nicely the rest the two weeks they were here. We had a giant inside shuffle.

My son trimmed the shims under the master bedroom toilet and caulked it, replaced the flimsy skirting we had originally put around the new raised deck after the fire and hauled all the wood out from under the deck. It had to go. They pressure washed the old deck wood and cut it to fit in the truck. Then we went to the shed and got four large boxes of Dept 56 village pieces, several boxes of Christmas ornaments and trims, a space heater, pictures and knick knacks that would eventually be his anyway. He took books and anything else I could give him. If he didn’t take it, I threatened it would be sold in the yard sale.

 

They also arranged several contractors to come look at my carport to see about repairing it. It’s leaked since I moved in and I can’t sell it like that. The main roof has to wait…indefinitely. It’s not leaking yet.

A bribe for one of the contractors. His two sons are my step great grandsons. Long story.

They wouldn’t let me pay them so I took them to my new favorite place for breakfast.

In SE Portland, Hawthorne street is an eclectic, artistic area where hippy and creative types hang out.  They have great shopping and fun little restaurants. Not a chain to be seen. So, it was breakfast at Bread & Ink for all with my sister joining us. My sister and niece introduced me to this sweet, busy restaurant. Breakfast was my daughter’s contribution because she was always at work. We love the atmosphere and the food. Here is the link to the history of this wonderful little place. They stand for an hour to get a table on weekends. https://www.southeastexaminer.com/2016/01/bread-and-ink-cafe/

Then came the stuffing of the truck. My DIL is quite skilled at fitting 40 pounds of stuff in a two-pound bag. Son took a large portion of what I had set out but there will be more. The truck needed to be a bit bigger.

How do you deal with the unexpected and are you good at stuffing?

Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.Jim Rohn

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself