Looking for answers to life's questions

Summer Vacation?

August is just beginning and I’ve let two months go by without a post. I wasn’t sure I had another one in me. I think it’s because I’ve had so much going on that I didn’t have the brain energy to do more than journal about it at night. If I didn’t, I couldn’t remember what all I had done that day. I’m supposed to be retired and I guess that’s true, I’m re-tired. Over and over again. Tired when I get up, and beat when I fall into bed. It’s summer vacation time, right? I think I’ll declare today a vacation day.

So far my son, with my second pair of hands holding and fetching, completed the replacing of the old deck adding a second set of stairs. Stairs are not easy.

I painted three sides of my house and all the trim. He did the really high spots. He built two gates, I painted or stained them.

He used up some of the old wood from the old deck to build planter boxes.

I painted, with several coats the driveway divider between my place and my neighbors. It makes the driveway area much lighter. I planted the boxes to try my hand at gardening. Then there was the cleanup work of stuffing leftover lumber under the deck out of sight and putting up the skirting I painted.

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

We were shooting for a June first completion date with the expectation of this year’s inspection on the property. As life or luck would have it, we now have new property managers and so far, there has been no word of inspections…yet. We were also hurrying to get everything done including inside projects as my son was leaving to go help someone else out-of-state. He put up new outside light fixtures and curtain rods so I could get the curtains made later ( you’ll see those next time), then cleaned out his room on the off-chance of guests.

A little more girly now.

A little more girly now.

We have been moving stuff all spring and summer. I’m ready for a day or two at the beach. Instead, I pressure washed the deck, patio, and driveway.

 

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

 

If they want to inspect, I’m ready. Maybe now I can think straight enough to get some pictures together to go with this rambling. This isn’t all I did this summer. The rest will come shortly, I promise. The brain is starting to work again.

Have you had anything that looks like a summer vacation? I can live vicariously. Please share.

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Save

Save

Show no Mercy

Relentless is what I am when it comes to weeds. There are hundreds and thousands of them up on the hill and all through the terraced beds. The winter wind and rains whipped them down and planted them deep into the clay soil. Once it dries, it’s like digging in rock. There isn’t a weed that is safe around me. I show no mercy when I see one. So far I have filled the entire green waste can to the top three times and made a huge stack next to it. Once it’s emptied, I fill it back up again. My last husband thought I had a vendetta against weeds. The weeds were quiet.  I liked that about them.

Then comes the real trick. What to plant to crowd out the possible weeds that want to grow back in that empty space? You know the phrase, nature abhors a vacuum.

I am growing arm muscles now and stretching leg muscles as I attack those wily beasts.

During the last hard rain we had, I saw a neighbor out with her umbrella over her head, mud boots on her feet, looking down at her yard. Once I was back inside, I shot off a text asking what she was doing out there. Was she playing in the rain? No, came her reply. “I’m trying to intimidate my weeds.” I’m still laughing. She must be doing a good job of it because there are no weeds in her yard. At 76, with macular degeneration, profound hearing loss and her new cane for the blind, she is determined to keep up her yard. It’s beautiful, front and back. This lady lifts boulders to place around her plants. She shows no mercy to her weeds either.

For many of us, this kind of yard work is meditative. I can do it for hours unless the sun is being relentless as well. Covered from head to toe for protection from the sun, I can sit in the dirt and play quietly with deep contentment for hours. I need no music. Nature provides that. The birds supply my conversation and all my cares find themselves in that little red bucket with the weeds.

My 5 gallon red bucket gets stuffed then emptied

My 5 gallon red bucket gets stuffed then emptied

They have done their job for the winter months, holding the soil to keep it where it needs to be. Now I will do mine and mercifully plant something without stickers in their place.

Made from the wood of the old deck. Nothing going to waste. Shoveled 2 1/2 yards of good soil but didn't need it all.

Made from the wood of the old deck. Nothing going to waste. Old gate for the snap peas to grow on. Shoveled 2 1/2 yards of good soil but didn’t need it all.

There are many kinds of weeds in life. Relationships that no longer serve, old crafts that no longer call to you, even clutter is like a weed that needs to be culled to make room for something new and better. If you don’t replace it with something better, more clutter continues to grow.

Where in life are you relentless? What are the weeds in your life?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Last Wednesday found me once again in the ophthalmologists’ office. A different doctor this time, checking to make sure cataract surgery was healing as it should.

First the young (by my standards) technician came in to do the pre-exam work. What could I see? Not a lot yet but what I could see was more clear.

As she donned her pretty purple surgical gloves, I voiced my envy. I had just been to the hardware store to get more disposable gloves for painting my house. I’m a very messy painter but the job gets done. I could only find gloves that said “one size fits all.” How can that be?

Took these back to the store.

Took these back to the store.

I put them on and the gloves from the hardware store fell off. Well that wouldn’t work. How can a glove made to fit a much larger man, fit me?

I told the technician about my dilemma. She told me I could buy the kind they used there, at their pharmacy. What size did I need? I replied I thought a small would work. She handed me one. Yes, it did. She gave me a second so I had a pair. Off we went to the pharmacy and purchased a whole box of these lovelies. The cost was less than what I paid at the hardware or grocery for half as many. Just to let you know how messy I am, I buy an outfit at the thrift store for painting only. At the end of the seasons painting, it usually is so covered in paint, it just goes in the waste bin. Yes, I wash them in between. Painting is hot work.

I love these. Perfect color and they don't fall off.

I love these. Perfect color and they don’t fall off.

How many areas in life are we accepting the notion of one size fits all? Many clothes are made that way. How about one size fits some.

Education is designed to have one method of teaching for all the children in a class. All teachers must follow the one set of standards. If we only had one sized car, we either all drive a big beast of a vehicle or a family of 6 or 8 would have to cram into a Mini Cooper.

Different vehicles for different applications.

Different vehicles for different applications.

 

This would be a great one for short trips to the market. You couldn't buy much though.

This would be a great one for short trips to the market. You couldn’t buy much though.

They don’t make one sized can of paint or one brand. Why just one size glove? How would one genre of book work for everyone? We are all such unique human beings that nothing should be one size fits all. Who came up with this hair-brained idea? I think they need a smack on the back of the head.

Even thoughts don't come in one size

Even thoughts don’t come in one size

 

How many areas have you seen the “one size fits all” attitude inflicted on you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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

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