Looking for answers to life's questions

Clear Sight

I’ve had limited vision since I was 4 years old when a bad case of measles along with a picture window framing the snow outside left me struggling to see what everyone else took for granted. There is a gift in that. There is no sunrise, sunset, bloom or cloud that fails to leave me breathless for a moment.

 

Clear view through clean windows

Clear view through clean windows

Seeing things clearly is on the top of my list. I’ve had new glasses made, had the cataract removed, and recently, had my windows professionally cleaned. It was an extravagance that felt necessary. I love to be looking out my windows. I can see the sunrise from the chair I write in, the sunset and the moon on its journey from my bedroom, the coming and goings of the neighborhood from front windows and my lush fern covered hill from my kitchen window.

It looks very different through a dirty window

It looks very different through a dirty window

To tell the truth though, I’m used to seeing things a little fuzzy so it’s normally no big deal until I took photos of things at my windows. Not a pretty sight before the cleaning. My attempts at it left them not much better. I wanted to show off a couple of wonderful things so in came the cleaning man with his miracle cleaner. Now I can show you the lovely danglers that the very talented Pauline King  at the Contented Crafter made for me.

 

Too beautiful for words

Too beautiful for words

This is the larger purple dangler that hangs in my sewing room to inspire me. So much prettier with clean windows.

This is the larger purple dangler that hangs in my sewing room to inspire me. So much prettier with clean windows.

Each one is personalized for the individual she makes it for. I have Angels, butterflies, books, and things related to sewing on mine. One hangs in my sewing room window as it gets the first light of the day and when the sun hits, the crystal sends rainbows all through the room and down the halls.

The other hangs in my bedroom so I see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night reminding me that there are wonderful, creative and caring people in the world.

 

Blues and greens are the colors in my bedroom.

Blues and greens are the colors in my bedroom.

I also wanted to show you the shelves and lace curtains I made for some of my windows. I wanted lace to have a tiny bit of privacy but still allow in the light. I can see out better than anyone can see in through them.

My inner hoarder was brought to light when I made the curtains. Living room and my bedroom are panels that I had from the house we owned in the early 90’s. I saved them and found they worked quite nicely with some cutting and hemming.

Recycled curtains saved me time and money.

Recycled curtains saved me time and money.

The curtains in the den, dining room and kitchen were made from one of 2 bolts of lace I had left over from making curtains for the last house I lived in. I bought the lace at Walmart so inexpensively that I just couldn’t give it away knowing I might make use of it someday. Well, it’s someday. I still have another bolt left and now I can increase the fullness of the curtains or make valances. Nothing goes to waste here but I do hoard a bit. I looked in stores for lace curtains and they are a thing of the past, as am I.

Clear Vision isn’t only a matter of the eyesight, it’s also a matter of the heart and mind. Trying to get clear focus on your heart’s desire or your direction is a job from the inside out. Not so easy to hire help for this but it can be done. My tools for that are meditation and writing. A good friend, family member or coach willing to speak the truth you need to hear also helps.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. ~ Helen Keller
How clear has your vision been lately? What tools do you use to get clear?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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I had some down time today. Since my birthday I was feeling rather odd and worn, so after all the well-wishing had been completed, I put myself to bed early as I rarely feel under the weather. Why now? I guess getting older required a bit more contemplative time than doing time. I was ready. So I took a box of tissue and several (dozen) large hardy paper towels to my bed and read, sneezed and sleep. I think it’s a great way to spend the Labor Day weekend.

My son had just left with the car loaded inside and out with tools he needed for the work he’s doing in Arizona. Before leaving this time, he completed a few more little projects here. We thought the pump had gone out on the fountain he had just wired up. Turned out the outlet was bad and needed to be replaced. He put up two more rods in the front bedrooms because I had acquired some free curtains from my daughter.

He also helped me put the completed china cabinet back together. I was racing to get it done before he arrived just for that reason. We also retrieved my boxes of tea cups from storage so they could finally be home again. I have wanted to redo this piece of furniture since my sister decided it wasn’t a piece she wanted. Our parents bought it for their first home in 1966 and only our dad really liked the style. But good furniture is hard to find. Solid wood is now rare. I’ve never been a fan of painting wood but this piece was so heavy-looking that I just felt like lightning it up. I have a lot of white in my home now as my vision needs things that reflect light rather than diminish it.

I also seriously underestimated the amount of work this would take. The back had to come off to get to the inside. It took a while to get it off alone without toppling the cabinet off the cutting table that was on wheels. I also found out that I could not clear the back door frame, so it had to be painted in the kitchen. The bottom part of the cabinet I put on a towel and pulled it outside. Only needing to lift over the threshold. Later, I will show you the other projects that have been completed but this one deserves its own post. Some liked the end result, some didn’t. I’m quite happy with it and until I’m not, it shall remain as is.

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Note the bright red hardware my daughter thought would be a nice choice in the dining room. Good Feng Shui says that since it’s in the fame area of my home, pops of red are recommended. I want to be known for my hospitality. You are always welcome to tea.

Some rearranging still needs to be done but they are back where they belong.

Some rearranging still needs to be done but they are back where they belong.

You can cast your vote either way. I’m always open to new ideas. Please share your thoughts as well as projects you’ve been working on.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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

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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