Looking for answers to life's questions

Two months after my fifth birthday my mother came home from somewhere. I don’t remember her being gone but I do remember her placing the baby in my arms. Somehow in my mind, that baby was a gift for me and she was mine. We were living in a tiny flat above Leo’s market across the street from my father’s family while he was doing a tour of duty in Korea. My sister was already several months old before he ever met her.

Kindergarten school photo.

Our mother had been very ill during her pregnancy. I tried to take care of mom when she was too ill to do the dishes or pick up a bit. A lot of her illness may have been about missing our dad or a lot of homesickness. We left Germany before my sister was born and my father’s family was not particularly pleased that we were part of his life. The rest of her illness was because there was apparently an RH factor involved and my sister needed complete blood transfusions after she was born.

Waiting for delivery

There was also not much in the line of groceries in our house or even in my grandparents’ house for that matter. Times were tough and tight with lots of tension all around but that baby made everything feel better. Of course living above Leo’s market helped a lot. I would smile and be rewarded with a treat or carry up something we needed.

In my best apron taking care of mom

This new baby was mine to care for and love. I learned to feed her and watch her when mom put her out on the porch in her pram for fresh air. Mom said babies needed fresh air no matter the temperature outside. She would be bundled up with only her fingers and face sticking out. I would come home from Kindergarten every day to take care of my baby. My baby sister was my first child.  As she grew up, I made it my responsibility to  keep her safe, entertained and hopefully out of the trouble her curious mind always seemed to find.

Pleased as punch with my baby.

That day began a journey that spanned more than 60 years. We are and have always been each other’s friend and adversary on occasion. No one realized what an adventure her life would take us.

Let the story unfold.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Beginning


I missed Halloween. It was my 6-year blogging anniversary and I just couldn’t get caught up enough to do anything about it. So goes the story of my life.

Today is my younger sister’s birthday. She likes low-key celebrations and this year is no exception. We had breakfast yesterday at Bob’s Red Mill after I picked her up from dropping her truck off at the mechanic. Everywhere we went, we saw geese. So many geese taking a rest from their flight to warmer climates.

Too far and too many for a good shot.

They wander on the road here. Everyone stops.

Her birthday would not be something I would ordinarily write about but right now she is mostly all I write about in my personal writing. I have started to recall all the hair-raising episodes of her life and want to quickly compile them into a booklet form. This photo should tell you that as soon as she could walk she was railing at the world and grasping life with both hands loudly and with abandon.

Don’t mess with me.

This year she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. It apparently tends to run in families. Our mother had it so we know what it does. I have cut back on many of my other activities to spend more time with her and to get her stories written and pictures collected and scanned. My sister is what is referred to as a character. I’d like to share some of them with you over time.

Mom, me and sis

 

Everything is changing and everything that ends brings with it a new beginning. The leaves on the trees are changing though many haven’t quite made up their minds. Our weather has the trees so confused. The time is changing this weekend and we fall back an hour. It’s so hard to adjust. My perspective on life has changed as well. I’m examining each moment for hidden treasures.

In full splendor

Undecided about changing

On Halloween afternoon as I was trying to write this, my internet died. When I called my cable company after doing the things I should to check and see if it was something I could fix, I finally got a sweet young woman on the phone. Brianna said she would try to work her magic and see if it could be repaired from there. After several moments she came back on the line and said my modem had sent an “end of life signal”! I laughed at the irony of it. She did get it working again for the time being.

Today, a giant of a man, made his way to the den with plastic booties over his shoes and laid the modem to rest, replacing it with a newer model He was shocked I still had the old model as they had all been brought back last year. How had mine survived? I told Brianna that the gremlins finally got it. There was a lot of treasure in these moments.

Life is a little uncertain right now.

Are you seeing the treasures in the moments? Do you have “characters” in your life you like to tell stories about?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

A Bit of Fluff

I’ve been putting off writing, waiting for a more positive frame of mind. There is so much going on out there in the world and in my own little world that I just want to focus on a little bit of fluff. Fluff is such a light and happy word that you would never think it can be used any other way. That will be another story, another time. I’m an old believer that where attention goes, energy grows. I’m aiming for the positive.

During the last trip to the metaphysical bookstore my daughter and I made, she brought my attention to some bumper stickers. She does not put them on her car nor do I put them on mine. She intends to tack hers up somewhere in her cubical. I really have nowhere to hang them up where I will see them every day, but I’m working on that.

I’ll pop one in here on occasion so I don’t draw any attention to myself on the road. It’s best to blend in out there. Here, if you are offended, you just click the button to close my site.

I’d kind of like this on a t-shirt too.

I’m ruminating a great deal these days on things that are not fluffy. Mostly when I take my walks. Five days a week with a minimum of two miles each day. With good weather, uphill. Yesterday it was done early at the mall before the stores open. I then took the MAX downtown to have lunch with my sister and a friend even though it was raining out. I like to wear yellow on gorpy days.

This was purchased in 1997 for a trip to Germany. It’s held up well and cheerful.

Walking is my meditation time. Driving is when I can be seen talking out loud to no one present asking the big questions. I noticed the music in the mall could cover that same kind of out loud conversation and these days, people don’t look at you as strangely. Maybe they think I’m on a blue tooth talking to the powers that be, asking very pointed questions. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the answers to our questions came the same way? I have a lot of serious questions these days.

One of my favorite T-shirts

What do I get for answers? Sun glistening through the clouds and the drops of rain on the windows. Breaks in the rain when I had to drive or walk to the restaurant. Most don’t notice those little things. I seem to notice everything these days. Traffic was lighter than usual, making my way back and forth easier.

This was my souvenir from 2004 or 95 from a trip to Victoria BC Butterfly Garden

Despite all that struggle in the world, the sun keeps doing its thing whether we notice or not. Life for some keeps going on while for others, it comes to a grinding halt or stops suddenly. I’m going to keep looking for the sunshine between the clouds. The view is so much better.

Are you noticing any good fluff in your life right now?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

My favorite month is half over in the blink of an eye. Two weeks gone but they were fully loaded. You remember the lonely Aster flower on September first?

This Aster has its own calendar

Well two weeks brought quite a change in the plant and in the weather. We are going from the upper 90-degree temps to mid-70’s and starting next week, we will get to the 60’s with a full week of rain. This is what I call race weather. I race to get everything outside done and buttoned up for whatever comes next. There is no second guessing the weather these days. You must be ready for anything.

Asters halfway through September

September is a busy month around here. It starts out with lots of birthdays. I get mine early and then many friends and family fall in line until the month is just one big celebration. My daughter and I had a simple Saturday together on my birthday. I felt a little giddy as I waved farewell to the last of my 60’s.

A special blogging friend knows me so well. I really wanted that book too.

First, we visited our favorite metaphysical bookstore downtown to see what was new. I spotted the pretty journals that I did not need but this one made it into my daughter’s shopping bag. I’m going to write my goals and dreams for the next year in it to start the 70’s out right. It was presented to me over a luscious lunch at a tiny Italian place within walking distance of the bookstore. They are known for their criminally delicious desserts of which we had to partake. There was a candle in the cake and Happy Birthday written on the plate.

My son gifted me with the laptop, refurbished with a hard drive that should not break if it was jostled. Now I can visit with everyone again.

Some of the cards that graced my day.

On the way to lunch, wait for it, we saw there was no line at the Salt and Straw!!! It was only 11 a.m. but I had never been able to get in to try their ice cream. It’s famous in Portland, Oregon for its locally sourced and organic ingredients. Lines usually going around the block all day. Dessert before lunch? Well it was my birthday and they were all but waiting for me. I had to try it once.

We did a lot of walking that day to work off the lovely lunch getting home as the 90 plus degree temps invaded our day and we settled in to sit and read.

The first and last part are most applicable to me.

September is my favorite month as the autumn descends upon us and cool things down. Remind me of this post when you see me lamenting the cold and gloomy months ahead. I love the cold over heat but will miss the fresh tomatoes from my garden that I munch on as I work outside.

The big ones had a hard time, The little tomatoes were prolific

I will miss the hard physical work of hauling mulch up the terrace steps and the weeds that always seem to grow better than the flowers. Mostly, I will miss the long daylight hours as days shorten into longer nights. This is the month of transition from summer to winter as autumn here, only gives us a brief wave and moves on.

Are you ready for the changing seasons? What is your favorite month?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

 

 

Observation

I have started walking at least five days a week to get at least 7000 steps according to the fitness tracker my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day. It helps me challenge myself not to spend so much time sitting. Everything I do is sitting. Reading, writing, sewing, heck I can even garden sitting.

No photographic evidence of me sitting but I have proof my sis does.

My walk is one mile up hill and one mile down, minimum. I can add to that by wandering all the side streets. I find that this neighborhood of slightly over 500 manufactured homes has a lot of diversity. I put on headphones, not always to listen to happy, fast-moving music that gets me up the hill, but more often to just keep the wind out of my ear. After the Bells Palsy, the left ear is extremely sensitive to any wind or cool. When I don’t have music playing, I’m more prone to notice things around me so occasionally, I’ll start doing little posts about what I might find interesting on my walks.

I have become so much more observant since I started blogging and even more so since I started walking again. Now that I’m old, I notice what I didn’t have time to see before.

In this political climate, I was surprised to find this sign in a car window. Not being a political person, I didn’t fully understand it and maybe I still don’t.

It was there for a couple of days, then gone. Hmm.

The sign seemed to bother me even though I did not understand it. I guess because they used the words hates and racist in it. I’m glad the sign is gone.

Another morning I was truly surprised to see this as I rounded the corner. Looks like someone was either playing a very good prank or they were delivering a gift. That woke me up a bit.

Was this a joke?

The other side gave no clues either.

 

I like to look at landscaping as I go down each street. There are no sidewalks here. Guess they don’t encourage walking here but I do it anyway. I saw this tree and took a good look. It had a familiar feel to it.

Very large tree with familiar feathery flowers. My son is in for a huge surprise.

As I was coming a little closer to the end of my walk, I observed this tree. I studied quite intently. I’m sure the owner of the house was wondering why I kept looking at their tree. Once I was sure, I photographed it and marched on home.

This one is a little younger

Here is the photo of the tree my son planted last summer before he moved. He saw the tree in Hawaii and fell in love with it so we had to go to a nursery and find one. I thought for sure it had not survived the unusually harsh winter but here it is in all its spring glory. I don’t think we picked a good spot for this little tree. I had no idea it could get that big and he had no idea it flowered.

Are you more observant when you are walking? Do you find ways to enjoy walking?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Permanence

This has been a year where many have faced extreme challenges in so many areas.  Seeing some of it is hard on the heart. We, as humans are creatures of habit and like things to be the way they have always been.

My neighbors house directly across from me

I’m no different but life and 35 moves has forced me to learn to be more adaptable than most. I’m extremely grateful for that ability as it makes life so much easier to cope when things change and change they will.

Last spring, I mentioned the heavy rains we received here in the Portland, Oregon area. I love the rain and would really like some of it now though others are praying for it to cease. I was in a place, that for a bit of time, gave me pause for concern. As it turned out, my neighbor directly across the street was not as fortunate in location as I turned out to be in. She ended up losing a good portion of her back yard as land eroded from under her.

The land washed away

Giant hole too hard to tell from here.

Owner and management waited most of the summer for the ground to dry out and finally we were inundated with workers preparing to remove the house she was forced to move out of and start stabilizing the ground. There are two other homes on either side they don’t want to have to remove. There were months of negotiations while they found someone to purchase the vacated home and pay to move it elsewhere. That was only the beginning.

Men doing the hard work

If you are not familiar with manufactured homes, they are brought in and out, in sections. There are a lot of preparations to make the house itself moveable. All plumbing and power must be disconnected and then the concrete blocks they are sitting on are removed and axles and tires are placed back underneath.

Axles have to be reattached.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I spent the best part of the last few weeks watching the comings and goings here. Any wonder why I accomplished little else? It was quite entertaining as I observed the conflab between the powers that be around here making decisions with Engineers, heavy equipment operators and assorted professional crews including tree removers. So many trees had to go. Many precariously held to the earth, many already dead. NOTHING is permanent.

Lots of trees cut down and trucked away.

 

It’s hard to watch all the changes for some people but today I had a sign that things are still very much under control. Just not by me.

Aster’s are September’s flower. I planted these that had been in a pot when I first moved into my apartment five years ago and then put them in the ground here two summers ago. Today is September 1. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the very first bloom on my Aster plant. Do they have a calendar or what?

This Aster has its own calendar

 

How do you deal with impermanence?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I am so far behind with my reading of posts, books on my bedside stand as well as so many other things that want my attention but this grabbed it first thing this morning and I can do nothing less than share it. I  was overwhelmingly moved by the writing as well as the story.

I met Cecilia here in Portland at the Press Publish conference a couple of years ago. She is a little bit of a thing running her own farm by sheer force of will. I heard her story as she was one of the speakers and we met in the hall afterward. This tiny dynamo has a heart as big as most countries. I know her heart and hold her dear.

Painted in 1988. A first project

Each morning, even though she never reads my blog, I go see how things are at The Kitchen’s Garden. She barely has time to feed herself but she feeds everything else and my soul so I stop by every day no matter what.

Take a few moments to stop by there. It will be worth your time. Enough of my words now. Time for you to read hers.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself