Looking for answers to life's questions

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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A Cheerleader

Each of us has our unique gift to the world. My friend (such a nice word) Emily’s is quilting. This weekend the place in Vancouver, Washington where we go for retreats was hosting an open house. Nancy’s SewNGo was making some changes including the name, now “The Countryside Quilters” and wanted to show off the new classroom as well as give newcomers a view of the wonderful facility without charge. Since I cannot as yet drive that far on my own, our friend Patti offered a ride if I could meet her on the other side of the highway as she had a couple other quilting friends going along with her as well. I could do the 10 minute drive easy and Patti did the rest with ease. I was more than delighted to be included. (Another nice word)

On the wall at Nancy’s

 

Apparently, some of us missed the memo. Patti with white t-shirt and biggest smile.

Part of the open house was a showing of my friend Emily’s quilts. She was the featured quilter for 3 days. Emily is my neighbor and also a member of the quilt group I joined right after moving to this town. She started quilting after she retired and at 80, is a most prolific quilter. As her hands have succumbed to arthritis, she has leaned more to applique quilting. It’s her favorite way of expressing her art. She took around 70 of the quilts she had at home to be displayed. I didn’t include them all here. This does not include her Christmas quilts, the quilts she has gifted to family and friends or her many donation quilts. She and Patti regularly get together for weeks at a time somewhere away from home to quilt together and challenge themselves and each other. They are both willing to help and teach a newbie like myself in the quilting art.

Emily in the foreground

Emily was just stunned that her quilts deserved their own showing. She was just overwhelmed with emotion that she was the recipient of all those accolades. I can guarantee she deserved each and every one.
My gift in the world will probably never be quilting. I enjoy it but not as much as I love cheering about the success of someone else. To be able to write and tell you about it is the gift I have to share. I relish others success and am an avid admirer of the wonder of their gifts. Someone has to be the cheering section and I’m that person. I get so excited about the things my friends make that I almost can’t contain myself.

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I’m also not the best photographer in the world. My hands are starting to shake somewhat as I’ve noticed many of my photos too fuzzy to view. So you get to see what’s passable. We signed up for more classes at the retreat center that are just one day events. I’m so excited to get to go play again. SewNGo has their own Facebook page so you can pop over and see more wonderful photos. I borrowed a couple from Nancy that were better than mine. She won’t mind.

Taking photos with the cell phone.

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What is your unique gift in the world?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Seeing

It’s been too long but I see the light! Winter is a favorite time of year…usually. This year was long, dark and exceedingly wet. I’ve plodded along trying to summon up the energy to do things. My friend and fellow blogger at incahootswithmuddyboots.com came by to cheer me with signs of spring from her yard.

First signs of spring from my friend

The struggle with my vision has really slowed things down. I finally wised up and went back to the optometrist. My glasses that are eight months old were not working and I was scared. “Well no wonder” he says. “You’ve lost a whole diopter of vision since this last prescription.” Now I have no idea what a diopter really is even after my son explained it to me. “What caused it” I asked? He seemed to think it was because of excessive dry eye. That eye doesn’t blink as well as the other and leaks tears since the onset of Bells Palsy 7 years ago. Why am I losing so much vision now?

I bought 5 of these for my sewing group as a Christmas gift. This is mine finally finished.

The back is pink, not my favorite color but it’s cheerful.

It’s possible the C-pap machine that blows wind in my face all night might be drying out the eye if I’m not keeping it well closed in my sleep. I didn’t think that could be the answer so I made another appointment with an ophthalmologist and she verified that the eye was indeed quite healthy and quite dry.

So onto finding solutions. I put in a gel at night for better lubrication and have an eye mask to cover the eyes. My son’s ex-wife saw something online that she thought would help and I checked it out. This morning on my trip to town for lunch with friends, I stopped at the sleep study center and asked if they had it or could they get it for me. In 15 minutes, they saved me the more than $100 and handed one over after a fitting. I practically danced out of the office. No more wind in my face all night. Granted, it’s not terribly attractive but I’m hoping it fills the bill.

The wind is at the top of the head with this one.

So the second pair of glasses that were made a few weeks ago works quite well for distances but I can’t read the computer with them. Back to the old pair when I’m on the laptop. The optometrist will try to come up with another prescription that works better for both. It’s frustrating but there’s still so much I want to do, read and write. Vision seems essential to those desires.

I’ve been working on this forever it seems. Now comes the quilt around it.

In the meantime, the clutter has continued to be cleared. All of the industrial shelving from my son’s storage unit were sold and are gone from the yard. I am continuing to pare down but have found it’s a good idea to go through the boxes carefully before donation. I found a whole bundle of embroidery patterns that I bought almost 10 years ago for over $60. Everything else in the box went, the patterns are now being lined up to work.

I’ve managed to get a few other things done.

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So how are you seeing this time of year? Signs of spring or signs of autumn becoming more clear? Are you starting to perk up or wind down?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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