Looking for answers to life's questions

This is the first Thanksgiving I have spent at the home of my son and his wife in way too many years. We will also be celebrating his birthday while we are here on the mountain in Arizona. He’s still busy working though; even after knee replacement surgery. Obviously, it went very well.

It took a while to get here. First a day’s drive to Redding, CA. Hot, dry and windy we headed out the next morning for the San Fransisco Bay area to visit for a few hours with fellow blogger, Alys and family. We had a lovely dinner together with a lot of chatting. I was privileged to view her garden up close. I could be jealous but I am always grateful for all I learn from her. Getting there was no party though. It’s California traffic after all.

The next night was Bakersfield, CA. There was so much dust and pollutants in the air the it was in the unhealthful range. I did have the best Cobb salad I’ve ever had anywhere. Then a night in Flagstaff to get acclimated slowly to the altitude. Even with oxygen, it left me huffing and puffing as I still am where my son lives. Thanksgiving dinner will be another 1000 ft higher. I won’t need wine.

Right now, I’m very grateful we made it here for a unique celebration of gratitude with family and their friends. Only eight of us but lots of food and I hope friendly conversation. I’m making Watergate for a side dish/dessert. My son’s favorite German dinner is the order of the day for his birthday. I’ll be the chef of the day for that meal.

The day I found out escrow had closed and I had to go sign papers on my house, I was having a lovely soup and salad with my quilting friend, Patti. Her son lives close by with his partner in life. They were away so Patti had to check the mail and house while we were out. She had to show me how her son’s partner had already set the entire dining room for their version of Thanksgiving. She apparently has a flair for making things very festive as their dinner will be including several friends without family. I was in love with it so I took copious photos.

How will you do your Thanksgiving?

I wish you all things good and much for which to be grateful.

From my grateful heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I’m sitting in the motel’s breakfast room writing this but can’t get it posted right away. It will have to wait for a secure internet connection later.

Good Ship Pumpkin. Too cute for words.

We just completed three days of intense packing of all the things we thought we couldn’t live without. Then we finally got the last of our things into storage with a great deal of help from my sister and a couple of my daughter’s friends. Lastly, we cleaned house for the buyer to move into without worry about putting things away. I wanted her experience to be different from mine moving into this home.

As we drove away to give the keys to my realtor, I fully expected a sad farewell. It didn’t come. I must have been too tired from all the details of the sale and the work but I was oddly somewhat relieved to pass the torch to the next younger owner.

Last view on a stormy day.

We listed the house September 10 and signed closing papers November 10. Wow! Apparently, I found the only realtor who really works for their client and goes the extra mile. I have had realtors while buying and selling other places that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I think Debra and I would have been friends had we met before.

No path left

I dawdled and lollygagged with the packing earlier, thinking we had lots of time. Maybe till spring. Here we are, officially homeless with no permanent forwarding address. What 73-year-old woman with health issues does that? Yes, I have checked in with a professional that assures me I’m not crazy. Maybe a little slow in the brain department.

We have had a short night’s rest. I woke at 2:30 this morning. A loud voice in my dreams called my name and brought me straight up and out of slumber. Not wanting to turn on the lights in our room so my chauffeur could get quality sleep, I wandered in here to visit with you.

Mt Shasta I think

We won’t leave until past daybreak for a 7-hour drive to the next motel. The following day I get to visit my friend and fellow blogger, Alys at Gardening Nirvana, dropping off a fairy garden for her gentle care while my daughter and I travel on to Arizona to spend the rest of the month with my son and his family. After which we hope to board a flight for Germany and anywhere else that we can get to see.

This whole trip and experience took on a life of its own. We are traveling in winter during a pandemic with heavy outbreaks in many places. It’s a bit scary but if not now, when?

More bowl cozies

The hardest part was taking down my sewing room. I did manage to finish a few projects that were sitting there waiting. Bowl cozies half done and I couldn’t leave them that way. I’ve already sold four of them to my realtor who had never seen them before. Now I have to hope that I find a place that will allow me space to continue being creative.

Wine and cork cozies

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

10 Halloweens

10 Year Anniversary Achievement

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Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

Definitely Autumn

Happy Halloween Everyone. I’m not doing Halloween at all this year.  Our decorations are all in storage as it looks like the house has sold and we are in the process of moving out. I don’t want to have as much leftover candy as last year. I’m still wearing it around my middle. The kids rarely come this far down the hill and the wind is wild out there. Halloween is another holiday that has fallen victim to Covid.

Coffin it up
My photos of that same house outside of the park

Just hanging out

Since I’m short on time this Halloween, I’ll let my friend and fellow blogger, Crystal entertain and scare you with photos she took on her way home from visiting me. We don’t get to visit often enough. This place on the main road must have access to a warehouse of decorations because the do it up big for every holiday.

Wicked fence

Tilted coffin

How has your celebrating changed this year?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


There is so much going on in my life these days that a lot of things are just not getting the top priority they deserve.  I’m befuddled, discombobulated and seriously distracted.

Sonar holding down the mouse. This photo from my son calms me.

Autumn came VERY early this year. Then summer made a momentary encore. It brought the stink bugs with it. I thought we had been exceptionally fortunate this year but just as my son arrived to help with some really hard jobs, the darn bugs showed up. The rain was kind. It let us get our outside jobs done and only rained when we had inside stuff to do.

This was the first of October!

The house is in escrow. Inspection has been completed and appraisal today. We were asked to put in a new hot water heater even though it worked just fine for a 16-year-old tank. All the smoke detectors were too old so up the ladder he went five times. We worked together to get stuff shifted in storage while we had the help.

Finally done with the current shift of 2 households

The real muscle behind the job.

My son trudged on for over four days to get done in time to get home for knee replacement surgery on Nov 4. Yes, he really loves his mother. It was two 12-hour days driving each way to be so overworked. We did fill up the Suburban with things I will never use again to send home with him.

Extra points since nothing rattled on the way home.

You never know how much you miss things until they are locked away. I’m missing my library, tubs of fabric, dressers and even my hair dryer that I rarely use. I’m going to miss my ice-maker in the freezer A terribly decadent luxury. The repairman for the ice-maker came 3 times before he admitted the dispenser would not work again. Packing time was put on hold while he muttered under his breath at the **** machine

I miss time to sew which is on my list daily and never crossed off the list.

I hadn’t had the brain bandwidth to write a post so we go back to the old phrase ‘of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” The charger for my watch has gone missing with all the shuffling of stuff. Poof! Into thin air.

I miss my routine. Nothing is routine anymore. I make a plan for the day and before the first cuppa is finished, it goes in the bucket.

Taking mom shopping. I forgot a cane so holding on tight.

Plans?? It’s impossible to make any because we don’t know if or when escrow will close with great certainty. Partway through the process, the second potential buyer decided the loan percentage rate was not to their liking and started again. Delays mean a later start to our trip running us deeper into winter months. Hopefully that means we will miss the crowds in the places we are going to visit. My birthplace being first is never crowded.

Basically a one street town.

I missed seeing my sewing friends too. Emily has already moved to Independent Living but managed to come visit a couple of times. Patti called to offer help and take me to lunch. We poured old wine down the drain together. A good day all the way around. I’m going to miss that too for a while.

Most of all, I miss being here and popping in to see you regularly. Let’s hope that changes soon.

Do you have anything you find you miss when it’s out of reach?

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. ~ Mother Teresa

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Next Chapter

Are you like me and always curious about the next chapter in the book? Or maybe what you’ve read so far has been a bit too intense or too mundane to make you want to read further?

Right now, I wish I could open the book and read the last page of the last chapter so I would know what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been written yet. That’s my job and I’m winging it. ­

My first typewriter. 13th Christmas.

I never expected that after just over seven years I would be putting my beloved trailer up for sale. After exhaustive research and contemplation, I find I no longer have the physical or financial capacity to care for this place that has given me so much, the care it needs. ­­It was an agonizing decision and I have no firm answer to what the next chapter in my life holds. I’ve long exceeded my sell by date and that gave me time to get all my business affairs in order so my family doesn’t have to deal with it later. This will be the last detail.

I’m thinking it’s time to have a little fun, see some new places, taste new foods and let my gypsy loose again. Maybe this will turn into a travel blog for a bit.

Destined to be a gypsy reader and writer. Germany 3rd grade again.

I’ve looked at independent living facilities. Cost prohibitive for most of us especially in more metropolitan areas. My needs are simple. Somewhere to house my books and do a bit of needlework and sewing. My main requirement is living on my own with provisions within walking distance. Much more research will be required.

The time to sell is ideal. I put the house on the market 2 weeks ago and have a full price offer even after making sure the buyer was aware a new roof would be necessary. The inspection would obviously disclose that but I prefer to be up front. The time to travel is not ideal.

I don’t think anyone can see the sign in the window

I keep remembering my last husband asking me to wait a year to travel back to Germany with my mother hoping funds would be more available. I went with minimal funds. Mom was gone by the next year. I’ve learned some things shouldn’t wait.

Not allowed to put a sign in the yard.

There are no guarantees in life or in the offer on my home. It could go any direction but I’m staying optimistic. We’ve spent the summer getting everything sorted, cleaned, painted and patched. Work a little, rest a lot. It’s been a grueling summer that has hopefully paid off so I can start a new adventurous chapter. I’m looking forward to more time to visit friends here virtually and in the world.

Once the house was show worthy, I took a little time to start working on unfinished projects. I machine quilted a top that my friend Emily made as a donation quilt. Not sure who will end up with it but for now, I’m relaxing while binding it.

I also FINALLY got the hand embroidered aprons I’ve been working on ‘forever’ sashed and waiting for me to decide how to finish it up. It needs something.

A couple years in the making

I had a few dozen bowl cozies cut and ready to sew and I’m about halfway through. I waste a lot of time watching Hallmark movies so I try to do handwork then. Helps ease the anxiety.

The start. 2 layers of fabric, 2 layers of batting.

bowl cozy production

There is a lot more work to do here. Packing, dispersing and letting go. Then let’s see what the next page brings.

Are you writing any new chapters into your life?

The next best thing after finishing writing a chapter is starting a new one.Author: Chris Almeida

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Cats and Kittens

We didn’t have pets growing up as a military family. Every time we moved, very little went with us. We had a dog for a short time  when my dad decided he needed a hunting dog to help bring home dinner. Yes, it got that hungry out back then. When the family left Georgia, the dog didn’t. I was already staying with my grandparents so I had little connection or time with that sweet little beagle. She was not a pet for us.

We never had exposure to cats at all. I was middle aged when I realized my mother had a deep, unreasonable fear of anything feline. When my daughter was in grade school, her dad decided she should have a cat that would be all hers as the dog belonged to her brother and slept with him. He hoped the cat would keep my mother from visiting. Since my daughter had allergies, her dad found a Himalayan. Beautiful, sweet and gentle, she immediately became a member of the family and the dog was her mom. Blossom and Buffy were great with each other.

My daughter loved Buffy so much.


How can you be afraid of this?

How can you be afraid of this?

I still couldn’t understand how mom could be afraid of something so sweet. It wasn’t dislike, it was climbing on the washer or running into traffic to get away from a kitten – deep fear. I finally took her to a hypnotherapist I trusted and we got to the bottom of that sad story so there was no more running in front of cars.

We found the bunny outside at night. It was tame so we brought it in hoping to find its home.

Blossom thought the bunny was a new playmate. Everyone did well.

Best friends and playmates Blossom and Buffy

My son’s wife loved cats and through their years together have had several that lived extraordinarily long lives. Love will do that. The cats are all rescues. When Buddy passed at 18, she rescued Gracie at a gas station.and Gracie has reigned supreme for over 10 years when the DIL heard a tiny meow under their porch. A search brought a new kitten into their home and when they finally saw they could trust Gracie not to hurt him, he became a member of the family.

Baby Sonar. Just too cute

Sonar has circles in his hair pattern and plays like a dog. I get photos almost daily of Sonar’s antics. He plays fetch with the small cloth mouse, jumping high in the air to catch it and then actually taking it back to my son to throw again. This can go on for quite some time.

Sonar loves hands and feet

Gracie barely tolerates him and will not share the window mats I made for her. You will always find one of them laying on the mat, not the sill.

Gracie tolerating Sonar in her window

The kids (son and wife) had to run an errand while men were on the roof of the pre-school installing a new AC unit. Kids were all out in the yard with the teachers to watch the big crane do its job. (staying safe) When they came back the men on the roof told them they had watched a woman drive by and drop a box out her window into the yard across the street. Guess what was in that box.

One by the hat too dark to see

Too cute kittens

Yes! They found 3 tiny kittens squealing for all they were worth. Fortunately, they didn’t get time to wander into the road yet or get hurt. Inside the house they came; to be examined and cared for. There is a teacher at the school who already had 3 foster kittens and all the supplies necessary so she volunteered to foster these little guys too. After dinner my kids went back outside with flashlights to make sure they didn’t miss anyone. The neighbor came to check on what was going on and had indeed found a fourth kitten her husband would not let her keep. That little guy went to stay with his siblings until they are all ready to go to good homes.

Little throw aways

I understand fear and phobias, but when did kittens become garbage? I’m so grateful that so many, including my kids are there to facilitate a rescue.

From Home Town HGTV

Have you ever rescued a creature?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself



The Rush

I drove myself to the grocery store at a time where there would be fewer people in there. I wanted to go without my daughter who has a tendency to edit my cart. You know what I mean. You don’t need those chips or cookies mom. They aren’t good for either of us. I do know and that’s why I like to go alone. I can stroll through leisurely and look at everything. For me, every trip out of the house is a social event. Especially these days when we rarely go anywhere or see anyone.

Pineapple Lily larger than an older Lemon Cypress tree next to it.

I’m always masked and gloved. There were only two check stands open and my favorite checker was at one of them. She’s fast and smart so I always try to go to hers. There was no one in line behind me but I realized she was still rushing. I mentioned that it was a shame that we could no longer take a moment to chat with one another as in days gone by. You knew your clerks and they got to know you. She calls me ma’am since she doesn’t remember me from one visit to the next.

Asters in full bloom Aug 2019

Asters Sept 1, 2021

Her response to my comment was that she should know better than to rush through life as she had died once as had her husband due to a car accident. They had obviously lived after lifesaving medical care but still never stop to enjoy life. This woman has a Master’s degree but health insurance and getting kids through college are her impetus.  I’ve gleaned bits and pieces from many small moments. I like that she is on task but I’d also like to see her take a moment to catch a deep breath and have everyone in line take a moment too. Maybe speak to the person in front or behind you. When did we stop connecting with the people that serve us? Why are we all in a rush all the time? Granted, I don’t have a job or a young family but I want to actually see and know the people that pass through my life even for brief moments. They are all fascinating.

I made certain not slow down the process for her in our brief encounter. She noticed my mask reads “Just a girl who loves her books”,  saying she loved to get grounded as a child and sent to her room. It gave her time to read. She also mentioned that she hoped there were books in heaven so maybe she’d have time to read there. I told her if there were none, I wasn’t going there.

I remember my dad saying one day when I was feeling sad he was so ill, he didn’t mind because now he could read guilt free. Mom was a bit of a taskmaster and we were shamed for not being busy working on something. Poor dad. Even in retirement, he had a long list of honey-dos. I’m hoping he found that library in heaven.

I decided to come home, sit on my front porch enjoying the beautiful day and write while thinking about what the rush is all about. I’ve been rushing too much as well. I’m trying to get it all done before my timer runs out.

What’s the rush about in your life or are you taking time to breathe deep and read some good books. Right now, I’m reading a book on synchronicity.

Print is too small so it’s taking a while.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

As I’ve said, I walk very early in the morning; just before daybreak in the summer months is best. Air quality has become another qualification to the time and day I walk. I also walk best on an empty stomach. Somehow, digesting breakfast of any nature slows me down so I wait until I get home for food and coffee. I know many of you have to have coffee before anything. I prefer my coffee with company so I wait until I turn on the laptop.

Yes, I still have to drink my coffee through a straw.

August has its own supply of breakfast on the go. As I’m rounding the next to last turn on my downhill trek to home, there are bramble bushes that are laden with ripening blackberries. I found I could have a few on my way back to the house and feel quite satiated. Some are quite sweet and some – not so much. They are free, organic and have lots of microbes for a healthy gut. A perfect meal. I don’t stop long but it feels so good to eat fresh from the bushes. Someone from the park cut them way back the other day. I’m struggling to reach high enough now to feed myself.  I’m still looking for the donut tree.

I’ve been trying again to grow a tiny bit of a garden in a raised bed. The cucumbers were prolific in the short run they had but something has had its way with most of my tomatoes. I’ll keep hoping to get a few more this summer. Most of what I grow is for the bees and birds anyway.

There is one less thing growing in the back yard right now. A very determined tree that was unfortunately left in a very bad spot. It began to push the terrace retaining wall forward probably as soon as it was erected long before my time in this home. I loved the tree even though I worried at each storm if it would come down on the shed or house. When park maintenance looked at it after the ice storm, they determined it had to go. I posted the photos back in February of it leaning over the shed. Watching the crew that was hired to take it down last week left me drained and relieved. It’s hard to lose any tree.

­I recently received a surprise gift from a special gardening friend and was inspired to create a fresh new fairy garden from it. We are big fans of fairies and the little garden had me looking up the proper spelling of the word. What a surprise I got thinking it was just a difference in spelling.


It’s been quite blistering out on many days so I’ve been able to hide the little garden in shadier spots to keep it from burning. I do that for myself as well.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~Alfred Austin

Are you a breakfast person and would you share it with the fairies?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


Do you sense a rant coming? I’m not going in that direction. The last two months have been a whirlwind. I get up at 4:00 a.m. I write a morning page as most days there isn’t time to write more. Coffee happens sometimes. I then dressed for my walk and once home again, get started.

First there were all the dressers to sand down after the kids left with my huge one. I’d do yard work until I was allowed to run the sander at 8:00 a.m. Then came the painting of them. I’m not 100% impressed with the outcome but they are done and in use.

Next, I repainted the shed, fascia boards on it and the back deck roof. I’ll rephrase that, my daughter did the high stuff while I painted the lower supports on the deck fencing where the pressure washer had removed the paint. Finally, I got to the major job that I wanted done for the last 7 years but just couldn’t muster the energy to do. Now that it’s done, I’m thrilled with the results. My body, not so thrilled. Why now?


My house needs a new roof. It will hold a bit longer, I have been told, but it’s coming. The floor of the shed is sinking in one corner from water going underneath. It was built into the carport which makes any change difficult. Those repairs are beyond my capabilities and I see my options dwindling.

The back of the shed sinking

So here comes the rub. I was never, ever prepared for the life I lead. It wasn’t in the original script. I’ve been in massive survival mode for most of it. Maybe all of it when I look back.

I see many others who are also scrambling to figure out how to make things work in a world they were never prepared to manage. I am so much more fortunate than many. I have a roof over my head even if it might leak.

My manufactured home was a perfect solution 7 years ago. Now, I see it as a constant source of never-ending work and worry though I delight in it every day. I’m getting old-er.

So, what are my options now? I can sit it out and pray the roof on the house doesn’t leak this year though I know the porch roof has been leaking in places just like the carport did until I had it redone three years and $5000. ago.  I can try to sell, take a little of the profit to do a bit of traveling while my health will still allow it and move into an apartment or independent living where I have no outside maintenance. I’ve been asking a lot of questions trying to come up with the perfect solution.

I’m leaning toward a simpler life though I would miss my garden. I guess pots can work instead. Apartments come with their own grief as I well know. More costly in some respects while less in others.

I’m watching the for the cogs to click into place. Signs I’m making a right choice. I vacillate a great deal when I’m in my head. My heart says it’s time for a change. Why do I work so hard to make a place beautiful and then walk away from it? Is life about not getting too comfortable?

Do you struggle with the options life has handed you? Have you found good solutions and how?

In life, we should explore options outside our comfort zone.” ~ Dani Alve

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself.

Everyone I know can hardly wait for the warm weather of summer. The only part of it I really like is more daylight hours and seeing the pretty flowers. For me, summer is that time where. even with extra daylight, I am always behind. I have this same conversation every year. I want so much to embrace the summer and enjoy all it brings. It just doubles my work in the same amount of time. I have outside work to do as well as inside.

Sonar in his basket. He’s a permanent resident for my son and DIL

To start my summer off, my son and his wife came out early to avoid fire season. We enjoyed a cool drive to the beach for one night before coming back home to move every bit of furniture so they could replace the original molding in the common rooms of the house. Did you know they use pressed paper for window sills and molding in manufactured homes?

paper door frame, new plastic floor molding

When I had laminate flooring put in seven years ago, the molding was never put back properly. The dynamic duo made short work of a very hard project. It looks wonderful and fresh with the plastic that will hold up to cleaning so much better.

They cut new top boards for the fence as they were starting to disintegrate. Now I need to get them painted when the heat wave gives us a break. I do all my work very early in the morning before the rest of the world gets up. Heat is not my friend. They also cleaned my gutters and moss off the roof. How is that for a vacation?

After giving a great deal of thought to my age and vision, I decided to have my son take my beast home and have it looked at by his mechanic whom we both trust and decide if they want to keep it or sell it. Either way, I will probably not be doing much or any more driving. It’s not worth the risk to others on the road unless something changes at the eye doctor visit next month. This was a very hard decision with a lot of waffling back and forth. It’s like my house, I can no longer maintain it on my own. I also gave them my dresser which has always been too big for the space.

It was packed but not quite full this time. Dresser fit.

Moving that dresser was quite the feat. I suggested backing the car up to the bottom of the steps so they didn’t have to lift it so high. The dresser is oak with cedar lined drawers. Even taking the drawers out and the mirrors off, left it a challenge for the two of them. But it worked! My DIL held her breath, expecting the car to slam into the porch rails knowing they would have to help fix them. It went without a hitch. I picked up a smaller dresser at a thrift store while we were at the beach. Now I’m sanding and painting it and another old one that has needed a lift for YEARS!

It went straight across and slid right in.
A final goodbye to a trusted vehicle

One thing leads to another, doesn’t it? It’s that time of year…again.

Is summer a favorite time for you or just twice the work load?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself