Looking for answers to life's questions

This week I have been a bit unsettled. Not sure what the cause is but it may be many things rolled into one. February itself is a rough month in many ways. I sent a birthday card to my last husband only to find out he had spent his birthday in the hospital and was still struggling to breathe on his own again. We are all sending our best thoughts his way.

My heart is a little raveled these days. Slightly worn.

My heart is a little raveled these days. Slightly worn.

Then on the 11th, I had my five year anniversary of the onset of Bells Palsy. Who would think the effects of it wouldn’t go away? It left me a little blue to know I haven’t unpuzzled the riddle to complete healing and recovery from the damage it left in it’s wake. But giving up is not an option.

Red and white courthouse steps pattern seemed appropriate for this month contribution. Too bad they were all 1/2 inch too small. Must redo at least one more. I haven't been entirely idle

Red and white courthouse steps pattern seemed appropriate for this month contribution. Too bad they were all 1/2 inch too small. Must redo at least one more. I haven’t been entirely idle

Then there is Valentine’s Day coming up. What can I say about that? That day has never been a big one in my life. All my married years it was of little significance. We had more pressing matters to deal with though I had fun doing valentine’s with my children. So now, with no significant other in my life to celebrate, how do you spread the love in the middle of an oddly balmy winter? I’m asking a lot of questions here, I know.

My hearts all red and fuzzy.

My hearts all red and fuzzy.

I’ve decided that I can spread the love by sharing a few new blogs that are just starting out. I know how overwhelming it was when first starting out. It’s still a learning process. Everyone seems willing to help. All you have to do is ask.

The Contented Crafter was the instigator of random acts of kindness that was a global endeavor. You saw many of the things I received as a result. Now I get to show you what I sent out and was finally received all the way in Tasmania. Stop by The Road to Serendipity and have a look. She’s been so hard at work there.

Before it was over, I made 3 rows. I couldn't let anything go to waste.

Before it was over, I made 3 rows. I couldn’t let anything go to waste.

 

A couple of fellow writing classmates have started blogs that are read worthy. The photography is excellent as is the writing. My friend, Sabine of In Cahoots with Muddy Boots, blogs here on Word press, my friend, Missy of Isabella Bird is here. So I’m going to try and find a few other ways to spread little bits of love around. Missy had some interesting ideas on what love looks like.

Hope your day is happy no matter how or if you celebrate.

Hope your day is happy no matter how or if you celebrate.

What ideas do you have for sharing little bits of love? What does love look like to you?

From my heart to yours,

Happy Valentines Day
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Break

It’s been hairy, hectic, and heavy. We’ve had a long week of shifting, shoving and shimmying stuff around.

The pods arrived and so did my former (ex) daughter-in-law. She worked like a trooper in helping my son and I build shelving in the storage unit. When he bought the shelves, I shook my head and shrugged, thinking this man is not playing with a full deck. No, I didn’t say it out loud. I just couldn’t see the picture he had in my own mind.

Just like a tinker toy, The beginning looks nothing like shelving

Just like a tinker toy, The beginning looks nothing like shelving

Once they were together, I had to admire his foresight. My stored stuff was placed on the first set of shelves moving from another location to this one closer to home. Then we had to make quick work to empty the first pod so they could deliver the second. The first one held all the heavy stuff like tools. The rest of the week was so exhausting that we all ate many of our meals out, showered and fell in our beds. Trying to squeeze five bedrooms, 3 baths, a 2 car garage and a shed’s worth of stuff into one bedroom and a 12 by 25 storage building along with my storage building worth of stuff was an exercise in mental hydraulics.

This is all my Christmas and crafts plus more sewing. If I ever get done moving it, I can use it.

This is all my Christmas and crafts plus more sewing. If I ever get done moving it, I can use it.

When the last pod was emptied, we celebrated. My living, dining, sewing room, and kitchen are NOT celebrating. It looks like I just moved in all over again. Next week we will make it better.

One pod empty, one to go and there is still lots of room in here

One pod empty, one to go and there is still lots of room in here

Needing a break, the rest of the time my DIL was here, we wanted to show her some of Portland.

Where do we take visitors who come to our town? Well, my son had to take her to Multnomah Falls. He has photographed it every time he visited here.

One of my favorite of his photos of Multnomah Falls

One of my favorite of his photos of Multnomah Falls

Then of course there is the infamous “Powell’s City of Books”. They spent well over two hours there. I spent a great deal of it in the café watching Portland walk by, buying NO books this time. There is no time to read what I have so more will have to wait. Since they sell new and used, the kids came out with a few, mostly my son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to collecting books.

Don't let the small appearance fool you. You need a map inside as it fills a whole city block

Don’t let the small appearance fool you. You need a map inside as it fills a whole city block

It goes on and on and on

It goes on and on and on

Then my sister met us for a tour of the Pittock Mansion grounds since the Mansion itself was closed for the winter. The view was breathtaking. I mostly enjoyed petting the dogs everyone brought.

My son managed to capture the mansion with no one in front of it.

My son managed to capture the mansion with no one in front of it.

only part of the breath taking view.

only part of the breath taking view.

One of the highlights of our town is that we live in close proximity to Bob’s Red Mill. They ship to stores all over the country and have started serving 3 meals a day. I love having breakfast there so we did. My son found the best ginger cookies I’ve ever eaten.

We timed it just right as they are always busy. They have outdoor seating for those that want to dine with their dogs.

We timed it just right as they are always busy. They have outdoor seating for those that want to dine with their dogs.

You can't miss it driving by.

You can’t miss it driving by.

Row after row of organic everything. They will even teach you how to use it.

Row after row of organic everything. They will even teach you how to use it.

For me a town is a lot about the food and Portland does not disappoint. Since we were in such a jumble anyway, we tried several of the restaurants. The Ram makes the best French fries in the world. I should know, I’ve eaten them everywhere. We stopped by the German deli, Edelweiss, for stuff my DIL needed to bake the German cookies I gave her the recipe for.

One of 4 Gustav's/Rhrinlander's in the Portland area, this one is very close to home

One of 4 Gustav’s/Rhrinlander’s in the Portland area, this one is very close to home

Then to cap off her visit, we had linner (combination lunch and dinner) at Gustav’s German restaurant. She tried the beer sampler with dinner and we all enjoyed the pretzel and cheese fondue. My son, I don’t know where he come from, had a hamburger, while my DIL and I enjoyed more traditional fare. It was LUSCIOUS! I took home a bowl of their lentil soup to see if I can figure out how they make it. Better than mine any day of the week. Of course, my son disagrees. The spaetzle was extra good with a Madeira sauce on them. Mom always used a meat gravy that we loved.

We had a cozier spot.

We had a cozier spot.

We arrived home to pick up the mail at the box up the street from the house. There were stacks of mail for my son and my sister. I had one piece. Just one, and it was happy mail! The Snail of Happiness, who was inspired to do so by The Contented Crafter, sent me snail mail. A happy package filled with her creativeness. We all admired her handiwork. How lucky am I!! Bloggers are wonderful people.

A bouquet of knit roses in wonderful colors

A bouquet of knit roses in wonderful colors


A tiny paper rose was hidden inside, all was placed in star studded organza bag

A tiny paper rose was hidden inside, all was placed in star studded organza bag

The vase of the roses in a perfect shade of blue.

The vase of the roses in a perfect shade of blue.

Now I’m inspired to finish a few projects of my own…as soon as I unearth the sewing room, again.

That’s what I do when I need a break.

At what point do you need a break and how do you go about getting one?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Stability

Has it been two weeks already? Where does the time go? Life has a way of setting its own time table and agenda.

My good friend made this calendar with all photos she took.

My good friend made this calendar with all photos she took.

As I’ve said for the last couple of months, my son was planning on moving up to the Portland area with us as soon as his house sold. When he lost this last job he knew it was time to make a major change. Over the last 25 years, the companies he has worked for have been sold off, taken over, or just folded. This last company has started outsourcing their work. Those that pay for their services no longer care about quality of work, only bottom line costs. My son made the decision that the career he wandered into when his father died, had lost its charm and is looking in a new direction.

Much in both pods was removed and left behind before pickup. They were overweight

Much in both pods was removed and left behind before pickup. They were overweight

The contents of a 5 bdrm house and 2 car garage are inside 2 small pods.

The contents of a 5 bdrm house and 2 car garage are inside 2 small pods.

So much for the illusion of stability. What he kept from his home is going into storage until he re-establishes himself. Much was given away or sold along with the house. The rest is in pods on their way here. He arrived safe and sound Tuesday evening, the loan for the buyers funded on Thursday afternoon. He is free and clear of the weight of making house payments without employment. Yes, we did a happy dance and celebrated with orange juice in a brandy snifter.

I have been busy clearing out his (guest) room of my sewing stash and finding other places to store (hide) it. I managed to get more sewing done this last week than I have in several months. I shipped off a package to Tasmania on Tuesday afternoon.

Organized chaos in the sewing room. Both machines working at the same time while I addressed cards.

Organized chaos in the sewing room. Both machines working at the same time while I addressed cards.

Leaving my quilt group early for a post office run, I sat in the parking lot chatting on my cellphone with my sister-in-law. I saw this happy face staring at me. He was so adorable and his mom kindly leaned over the seat so he could have a better look at me and I could photograph him more clearly. This fella was not camera-shy.

He saw me looking at him.

He saw me looking at him.

Take my picture please

Take my picture please

Quilt group is always fun because I learn something new each time. I’m a novice at this so there are lots to learn. I managed to finish a foster kid quilt that had been waiting and turned it in to them for distribution. This next year we will focus on providing quilts to the Safe House in our area. I’ve had so much going on that my sewing room looks like a tornado went through. Projects are stacked up and I must get down to work.

I just finished making the sandwich

I just finished making the sandwich


I used tissue paper to help the batting slide across feed dogs. Works like a charm

I used tissue paper to help the batting slide across feed dogs. Works like a charm

back of foster quilt

back of foster quilt

I spent some time in the last two weeks checking out storage facilities for my son. I still have one for my overflow of stuff that will eventually find its way here or out. My sister has a lot of her things here too. Walking in to the office of one closer to my home, I was met by a sweet, little lab mix. I knew this was going to be the place we would rent from. The manager and dog’s servant, mentioned he had Bells Palsy and it has plagued him for the last three years. He told me it presented just like a stroke would and they had to confirm by MRI that it wasn’t. He also had it present in February, a cold February just like mine. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t hit with the dizziness. That is the first person I’m met or talked to that had a similar experience with Bells. He can walk and drive quite easily. So my son and I will share a storage unit for a time. I know, I know. We shouldn’t need one. But sometimes when you are making so many major changes, you need time to review what the next chapter in your life will look like.

Mine feels like shifting sand under my feet and I think that’s true for so many people. Our stuff keeps us grounded till we feel stable again. My son watched episodes of hoarders while packing. It helped him let go of so much.

I think we have stuff to keep us stable when we don’t have roots. We take what’s familiar with us, especially if we are making changes alone.

What helps you feel stable?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Last week I lost my mind and discovered it had slipped away due to a short-term fever of unknown origin, caused by a vague and undetermined malady. After finally having the energy to get to the doctor, I gained his approval of my course of treatment. Liquids, rest and a sip of brandy every so often. Only a sip now, mind you.

I saw my mind peeking round corners blowing raspberries at me, taunting “catch me if you can.” I had to sneak up on it and it looks like I have a slightly better grip on it as of yesterday.

As I look back on the year behind, I count my blessings with deep gratitude. I gained the first home of my own. Nothing fancy, yet quite adequate in that it allows me to have space to share with those in transition. I’ve also gained the opportunity to look at my life differently.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

The world that I thought was shrinking, became so large that even I’m astounded. So is my mail carrier, Mo. Thanks to Jackie at To Breathe is to Write and Pauline at The Contented Crafter, I’ve received cards, letters, and even gifts from all over the world. In my little area of Sleepy Hollow, Mo rarely sees these postmarks on cards and packages. We are both having fun. Thank you both, Pauline and Jackie for initiating such fun.

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn't it?

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn’t it?

These are the results. First, from the lovely Pauline’s own art studio several much coveted postcards and note cards that will be shared with good friends. I’m still going to get one of her original works of art for my wall soon.

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

There is a beautifully stitched bag from mommermom that had my daughter and I peering at every angle of this piece. I have never made anything as well stitched as this. I would love to take some lessons from her.

It's like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

It’s like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

The outside is like an envelope

The outside is like an envelope

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A new friend I’m getting acquainted with courtesy of Pauline is Jem Arrowsmith who sent this lovely book and knit shawl. She wasn’t sure if I’d like the color. As you can see from the quilt I made behind it, it’s a color I would choose anytime and see everyday. The book was about her town. What a fascinating way to get to know someone! I looked around. There are no books on my little town but plenty on Portland. I’m finding other bloggers from this area as well.

I don't knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

I don’t knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

Gardening Nirvana has a new word this year. Connections. I had to point out that by first following her blog, then following her followers, I’ve made most of those connections. She has inadvertently been connecting people all along. Her talents are eclectic and here is just one small sample of it. I wish she lived closer as she is an organizer extraordinaire and that is my word for the year. Organize. It will be an ongoing project this year.

I couldn't decide what was the best part

I couldn’t decide what was the best part

hand made cards inside the card box

hand made cards inside the card box

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

The Eco-Grandma has moved this year as well. She’s been a little harder for me to follow as her moves included her blog as well as her home. I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like but hopefully with a little time, I’ll get more of her earth-wise advice. Another blogger with a huge heart who knows how to make a big statement with a little bit of thread.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn't have said it better.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn’t have said it better.

Just like most everyone this year, it’s been lose some and gain some. Pounds that is. The perpetual cycle. I’ve finally gained the understanding that I cannot diet. The deprivation sets me up for failure. So I’m trying a different tactic and I’ll let you know how it goes.

This year I’ve gained insights, books, information, and wonderful new friendships. The cards alone made my day. I’m an old school letter writer. With all the gifts and the vast amount of kindness I see in my world, there is no other choice but to pass it forward. I will share all the wonderful cards I’ve received with others and start making a few of my own creations to pass on as well.

Snail mail in addition to virtual is a great balance of old and new. These gifts though, were the kind that touched my heart. Thoughtfulness, kindness, and reasons to keep marching on. When you reach out, there is no limit to how your actions can affect others.

What have you gained that you’d like most to share?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Lost

Happy New Year One and All. I have never been so glad to see a new year as I have this year. I’m not saying the last year was bad by any stretch of the imagination. It was challenging at best and I’m totally worn out.

Having spent the last six months of it going from being quite content with my perfectly lovely apartment to moving into my own home brought about some surprising stresses. I lost things. While moving 5 times in the last 5 years, things went missing. Still have not found my saucepans and cannot bring myself to get others as I’m sure they will appear when I stop looking. I am missing a drawer caddy filled with crafting tools and as I was trying to make banana bread, the masher could not be located. It did eventually turn up as will all the other things I’m missing, I hope.
Arriving home late December 1 after being away for five weeks, I woke up and it was already January 1. Where had the time gone? So much had happened or not happened.

Wonderful gifts came in from perfect strangers (perfect in my opinion anyway) and new friends alike. I’ll show you soon. Somehow in the rush of it all, cards were detached from gifts so I couldn’t figure out where some things came from. There was a sweet bookmark with a paper cut snowflake and for the life of me I can’t find who sent it. I received a beautiful card with no return address and a signature I couldn’t make out.

Will the sender please let me know who you are. I so appreciate the gift.

Will the sender please let me know who you are. I so appreciate the gift.

I’ve lost time. Time to promptly send thank you notes for the wonderful gifts I’ve received. I’ve lost the time to make many of the gifts I wanted so much to send out. I lost my oomph for the holiday and just as I almost located it, the holiday was over. Darn. I may have lost my patience once or twice and I’ve lost my sister as a housemate. Though she’s delighted with and extra hour at each end of the day to do better things than to sit in the parking lot we call a freeway.

When I have some time.

When I have some time.

Here's how I thought time got away from me.

Here’s how I thought time got away from me.

I’ve lost my battle with the bulge. I’m hoping it’s not gone permanently. I’ve lost my home to a bit more clutter than I’d like and next week once the weather has warmed up to just cold, Christmas will go back in its boxes and I’ll hunt for clutter free surfaces again. A great deal of my clutter will find its way to an online sale.

Please let me know if you come across my mind. I haven't made it up yet.

Please let me know if you come across my mind. I haven’t made it up yet.

I’m sure you have all heard the old adage, “of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most”. Well, mine has been missing for quite a while now and I’m in desperate need of it. When something is lost you go back to the last time you remember having it. Oops. I don’t remember when that was. My mind wanders off alone, unsupervised so often, that sometimes I don’t realize it’s gone. If you happen to see it, tell it there will be a cookie waiting if it goes back home. That usually does the trick for a bit.

Another card with no return address to say thank you.

Another card with no return address to say thank you.

Next time I’ll tell you about my search for all the things I’ve gained. Don’t shake your head, I know what you are thinking here. I’m too tired right now to care about that and I want to give it proper attention. There is always tomorrow, I hope.

What have you lost that you would like to find in the New Year?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Tally

I read a comment on another blog I follow where one blogger is lamenting how little they have accomplished lately. We set such high expectations for ourselves and then beat ourselves up because we have not met those expectations.

my tree is up and tips a little to one side like me.

my tree is up and tips a little to one side like me.

I’m no different but I’m trying to take a different tactic when I start the mental abuse of myself. Yes, it’s self- abuse and most of us are very good at it. Every time I start beating myself up for what I have not accomplished by the required December 24th date, I start the list of things I have accomplished.

Decorations are up. This is what I do with old books.

Decorations are up. This is what I do with old books.

I’m usually behind this time of year. I have presents that need to be mailed and aren’t even wrapped. I’ve e-mailed a note of apology already. My mind has been elsewhere. You’ve heard the phrase, “of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most”. Well, mine wandered off alone and I’m still looking for it. I baked banana-nut bread the other day and somehow couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t look done. I kept adding a few more minutes but still it looked undone. I had in my mind that it baked 30 minutes when in fact, it needed an hour. I’ve baked that bread for over 40 years. What the heck is going on in my brain?

We made coal for the bad kids. Now that was fun.

We made coal for the bad kids. Now that was fun.

I got the quilt top started for quilt group enough to show some progress. I managed to get deviled eggs ready for writing group pot luck and a gift bagged for a friend’s new baby. That’s where I lucked into a bottle of homemade Limoncello from a good friend. Now that’s a very generous person. I had a tiny sip. It was luscious.

The problem comes because our hearts want to do more and our bodies just say “not now”. My mind wanders off for a rest from going to too many directions but things are getting done. The Christmas cards were mailed so all those I care about and those friendships I want to cultivate would know that I’m thinking of them. I actually send out lots of cards all year but this time of year gives extra meaning to it.

There are only a couple of presents under my tree from blogging friends and my former in-laws. My den door had lots of cards taped up so I can see them as I sit to write. The number of blogs I want to get read is staggering but I’ll have lots of time later this week to catch up.

I can see them each time I sit a few minutes.

I can see them each time I sit a few minutes.

My son won’t make it for Christmas, maybe not even till after new year’s day, but he will eventually get here and the tree will still be up, the cookies will taste all the better and our hearts will be even more welcoming.

My tally says I’m doing well enough under the circumstances and I’ve decided to just relax and enjoy what’s on the plus side. I can almost guarantee, this time next year, I can reprint this blog as it will probably still apply. All I can say is I’m doing the best I can and so is everyone else. So please enjoy the family, friends, sappy Christmas movies, indulge a bit and smile a lot. Tis the season for good cheer and that means to yourself as well.

Are you being as kind to yourself as you are to others? How does your tally stack up?
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

I arrived home late Monday evening after spending four hours waiting in a bookstore for my son to take me to the airport. I can’t tell you how difficult that was. (There was no room left in my suitcase for books) He insisted his waiting room at work would be too uncomfortable for that long. Then there was more waiting at the airport. The weather cooperated nicely and the pilots did an excellent job getting us up and down. I am always impressed by their skill. I do not like to fly even though I’ve done a great deal of it.

One of many tunneling around my son's back yard. He managed to capture this.

One of many tunneling around my son’s back yard. He managed to capture this.

I had a stop in San Jose, CA but no plane change and saw the ground was wet. Yay! They have been desperate for rain. We had some too in the LA area. You could see happy trees and plants everywhere.

My son took this California sky before the rain.

My son took this California sky before the rain.

The sale of my son’s house is back on as of Wednesday. Loan problems for the buyer resolved, for the moment. That means my son could be moving out across Christmas. It’s easy if you are moving across town, not 1000 miles through snow-covered mountain ranges. Getting moving help during the holidays is another tough trick. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. The right thing will happen in the right time. I’m optimistic.

This is getting left behind for the new owners. Too heavy to take back down the stairs.

This is getting left behind for the new owners. Too heavy to take back down the stairs.

Arriving home brought the usual chores; laundry, grocery shopping and contacting friends and neighbors. I hauled my Christmas decorations out of storage and put up my scrawny fake little tree. Some of the ornaments are on but I’m finding myself a bit…unmotivated.

These are the stairs. Have you ever looked under yours?

These are the stairs. Have you ever looked under yours?

Maybe after my daughter comes by tomorrow to bake more for her work, I’ll get a splash of inspiration and energy. Today I’ve decided to take the day off to rest, read, rejuvenate and right. Oops, (write). More than writing about all the things I have to get done for the possibly procrastinated Christmas, when my son finally makes it here, I’d rather be catching up on what every one of you are doing. I’ll be addressing Christmas cards for a blogging exchange started by my friend at To Breathe is To Write. It’s a good way to learn more about some of those that follow her and send cards to a few that have smaller personal circle for many reasons.

My Thanksgiving was entertaining. How was yours?

My Thanksgiving was entertaining. How was yours?

My card list is smaller every year due to getting out less, my divorce and too many moves. I like real mail. I think most people who write do. Snail mail is fun and prettier if you do it right. I’m running out of time to get international cards out and have given myself till no later than Monday. The rest will follow. There will be no crafting of any sort this year. With my move into this home and my son’s move out of his, I’m out of energy and time. Here comes that old phrase you’ve probably used yourselves. “Maybe next year.”

Do you like to give and get real cards for special occasions? Or have you opted to send only virtual greetings?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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