Looking for answers to life's questions

Lucky 13

Growing up in our house was very interesting. My mother, it turned out, was very superstitious. No shoes on the bed for any reason, no black cats (or cats of any color) could cross our path, no walking under ladders and squeezing your thumbs could bring you luck.

At school, we learned more folklore superstitions. Don’t step on a crack, knocking on wood, throwing salt over your shoulder if you spilled any. It was much later that I learned that 13 was an unlucky number and Friday the 13th was to be spent under the covers hiding from bad things happening that day. Breaking a mirror brought 7 years of bad luck, winning the big side of a wishbone brought good luck and the list went on.

Scary statue

I have since worked my way through those superstitions one by one until none really apply anymore. The biggest being the bad luck of Friday the 13th. A number of years ago, on a Friday the 13th, I had a daughter. The last child I planned to have and of course in those days, we didn’t know what we were getting until we go it.

Moss grows on everything.

That Friday the 13th was my lucky day. My daughter was healthy and perfect. Since then, every time I pull the number 13 in a raffle, I win. Everything related to the number 13 brings something extra special.

Daisy umbrella dispels the gloom

Once again, my daughter’s birthday fell on Friday the 13th. This year we covered a lot of ground. First a trip on the MAX to the quilt/sewing show then getting off the MAX   (Metropolitan Area Express or light rail) for a little lunch and a big dessert with shopping in a couple of our favorite places. We had tea at the Japanese Gardens even though it was cold with on and off rain. It rained when we were inside somewhere and stopped while we were outside most of the time. My daughter is teaching herself Japanese for the challenge.

We always have a great time together now that she has grown up into an incredible human. She was an independent thinker (and still is) and a challenging child. She often tells me how grateful she is that I let her live through some of the stuff she pulled. It was her aunt that prepared me for her.

Tea t-shirt always a favorite. “I could say I love you more than tea but that would be silly talk.”

So, when I see a Friday the 13th coming or anything with the number 13, I realize how lucky I am. My perception has changed about so many things in life. I have two wonderful adult children, a sister I’m very close to and many good friends. I am the luckiest person in the world.

Did you know that Friday the 13th comes only once in some years, twice in several others and rarely three times in a year? Our next one is in July of 2018 and the next year that we get three of them is 2026.

How was your Friday the 13th? Are you superstitious?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

My little  sister wanted very much to go to school with me every day. At three, four and five, there was no school for her on our Army base in Aschaffenburg, Germany.  Our mother would have liked nothing better than to send this curious and very active child to school.

The school building was just a block away from our apartment building. There was no enticing playground equipment. It was a basic building in an L shape with no frills. Our days were spent inside trying to learn hard things like arithmetic. I loved school with all the pencils, paper and notebooks. I could bring mine home to do my homework. My sister loved them too. We started playing school where I was the teacher about that time.

One afternoon in the middle of class, an office worker summoned me to the principal’s office immediately. I had never been to the principal’s office and was very surprised to see my little sister out their window with her arms full of paper, pencils and crayons. She had a smile on her face and seemed so pleased with herself.

I was told to take her home and then come and clean up the mess she made by turning over the big trash barrels outside to get all this wonderful stuff that had been tossed out. Wow, I thought to myself! How did she know all that good stuff was in those trash cans and how did she manage to dump them over? When I asked her about it on our way home, she said she had seen them tossing stuff out and wanted some of it to play with.

My little sister caught up with me in size quickly. This was taken a couple of years later by the grandparents with a camera our parents didn’t have. I was 9, she was 4 here

Well, I couldn’t fault that or the ingenuity to get it done but when I looked down at her feet I realized she was wearing my slippers, not her own. I asked her why she was wearing my slippers outside and all she had to say was she didn’t want to get hers dirty. Mom would be mad at her if she did. There was that devious mind I knew and finally grew to love.

Remember the slippers? Our Oma gave them to us and we loved them. Mine were never the same.

Always the wise, resourceful little dickens but it was one more fun thing she was not allowed to repeat. I was really sorry about that.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

MEAN PEOPLE

Just a very quick note here. Someone or many someones have apparently tried hacking my account and e-mail where I get notifications. This has happened to other bloggers so if you see a like on your site that doesn’t feel quite right, ignore it. I’m making some changes and have informed WP. They are already working on this due to others having the same issues. I can’t figure out the point of this hacking. Most of us here have little to nothing so what’s the point of this other than just to prove they can and be mean. They sure wouldn’t like us doing it to them.

Just another word of caution. I had a warning blaring on my computer that I had been infected and to call the Windows number written below. Do not call that number. I called my personal tech support that had to deal with the same thing earlier. Many of you know these things. I’m no spring chicken here nor very techy but at least I didn’t panic. Took a photo of my screen and messaged it on my phone to my son. (tech support) I had hoped all was well but will be changing e-mail accounts as well as passwords.

Darn those mean people. Lets hope you don’t run into them.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

After Alys

It’s hard to explain but the best I can say about Alys’ visit is that a switch was flipped and I saw a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Clearing so much out of my line of sight seemed to lift a weight off of my shoulders. After a short rest, I walked into my organized sewing room and got to work.

All my projects were listed in order of priority. I started with making the kitchen curtains from fabric given to me by my sewing friends. They were coming to my house for sewing that week. It had been laying across the curtain rod since I decided that’s what I wanted to do with the fabric.

Butterflies and flowers

close up view of fabric

Then came a machine embroidery, quilted for a friend who I felt could use a little lift. I had planned to mail it as soon as I finished it but as I finished the binding at my sewing group, my friend Patti said she needed it for the Senior Center’s quilt show because they didn’t have enough to show. It was a fund raiser for the Senior Center and Meals on Wheels. How could I say no?

Next came the shirt Patti asked me to make for her almost 10 months ago. She gave me the fabric and I had to decide how to piece this puzzle together. It’s the first one I’ve made in at least 10 years. Patti seemed happy with it. It’s called a Big Shirt to be worn over another like a light jacket and this one is made of flannel.

I made a cover for the pillow I need in my car. The old one had long gone to the trash and I had a new form in my closet and even had the cover cut out. That’s as far as it got until the shirt was finished.The serger was out and ready for the shirt so pillow cover was next in line. I’m a little taller in the seat again now.

Since they were all sorted and sitting in a reusable zip lock I started on bowl cozies that had been waiting not nearly so long. Batting was already cut so I just cut fabric and marked it for stitching. They go quickly but not quickly enough for me to make for sale. I sew to make gifts. It’s not an easy way to make a living especially if you don’t see well and sew like I walk, wobbly.

There were fun to do but take a bit of time.

So now there is only one project that I’ve procrastinated on for well over a year, as the pattern is one I’ve never used and directions are sketchy. I’ll tackle that next week when the rain starts again. I expect a few uninterrupted days together to get started now that my courage is up there.

I’ve spent time working in my yard pulling weeds which always makes me feel calmer. That’s the plan as long as the rain holds off. bumble bees are working hard out there already so I have to time my work carefully. I’ll keep you posted but it’s already looking much better.

My Bunny Basket for spring. Painted back in the late 1980’s

Does organization make you more productive?

Happy Easter to everyone or happy spring.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Frau Zanker was a long time friend of my mother’s. We had apparently (I was too young to remember) lived close by when I was quite young. She had raised her two boys quite well. One of the Zanker boys was several years older than I and the other closer in age. We spent a great deal of time together in those early years prior to our leaving Germany for the three years my dad was stationed in other places. The friendship resumed on our return and they came to visit often.

With her two boys in tow, Frau Zanker had convinced my mother to let her take my sister home with her for several weeks. She knew I was needed as mother’s helper with two more babies in our home. Frau Zanker thought she would be borrowing a younger version of me. My mother relented, not having the energy to continue explaining to Frau Zanker that my sister was a larger handful than she could imagine. What could go wrong, right?

Augsburg was only 25 miles or so from our home and my mother had not learned to drive yet. Frau Zanker was going to bring her home and we were going to get some much-needed rest. Mom sent her off with six pairs of jeans and shirts. Of course, there were a few of the mandatory dresses all little girls wore.

Shortly after the incident with the neighbor lady accusing my sister of painting the bicycles in the basement, my mother got a call from Frau Zanker asking if mom could come and get her right away and please bring more clothes for her.

Mom had dad drive us down to Augsburg to get my sister. Their house was surrounded by a huge wrought iron fence and gate with pointed arrows at the top of each post. The fence was over six-foot-high and my sister was well under that at the age of three. She was safe inside the yard.

When we arrived, there was no sign of my sister. The distraught Frau Zanker said my sister had figured out how to get over the fence and disappear into the city leaving bits of torn clothing behind…daily.

It looked something like this.

I was sent to find her once again along with the younger Zanker, who had been hunting her down each time she escaped the yard. He had an idea of where she might go. We walked quite the distance and across a very busy street until we found the park. It took awhile and I was getting frightened by the large city traffic, noise and large amounts of people. We did finally find her and brought  her back in another pair of torn jeans covered in mud she found somewhere in her adventure.

Mom thought Frau Zanker was kidding when she said my sister needed new clothes. Every pair of jeans and all her shirts had been ripped as she climbed the fence or the trees in the park. My sister was on holiday and enjoying herself very much. She was having fun but not pouring paint on bicycles.

The one thing I can say about all those years with a sister like mine,  it was good preparation for when I had a daughter very much like her. Fearless little Houdini’s that could disappear in the blink of an eye over the tallest of structures. I wish I had one iota of that fearlessness.

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

I was in the house helping mom with my little brothers when the banging on the door started. Someone on the other side wanted to make sure they were heard. Mom went immediately to stop the noise before my baby brothers started to cry again.

The woman standing there was someone we didn’t know. She asked where that rotten child was because she had done a lot of damage and we were going to pay for it. Mom sent me to see what the lady was talking about. Off I went down to the basement on her half of the building. Not somewhere I spent any time. I  stayed out of the basement area because it didn’t feel safe to me.

Then the lady pointed to her children’s bicycles with paint dumped all over them. Oh, my goodness! That was a mess. I could see why she was upset but something didn’t feel right about it. The lady kept raging on about little kids running wild and being destructive as we walked back up to our apartment. She was absolutely certain my sister was the hooligan that had done all the damage. As I got closer to our door, I was trying to figure out why it didn’t add up. She was yelling so much I didn’t get a chance to think until mom opened our door and she told me to go find my sister and bring her home to be punished for the damage.

Then two things dawned on me. This was a destructive and malicious act which was not what my sister would do. She might be daring or thoughtless but not mean or malicious. As I started to think about where to find my sister, I looked at my mother and said “she’s not here, she’s in Augsburg with Frau Zanker this week.”

My sister was twenty-five miles away on loan to Frau Zanker for two weeks so she could have a little girl around for the first time. Frau Zanker had two boys closer to my age and was so envious of mom having girls that after much begging, mom had given in after a stern warning that things were often not as they appeared. My sister was a handful and Frau Zanker was getting in over her head. Two boys were nothing compared to my sister.

The yelling lady stopped yelling. My sister was not in town and could not have done that damage. My mother looked at me and I could see her mind trying to wrap itself around the idea that she had assumed as everyone had, that my sister had done this deed but also how she did not realize immediately that my sister was not there to cause it.

I don’t know if they ever found out who did that damage to the bicycles in this woman’s storage locker, but I was so happy my sister had nothing to do with it. This is not the end of this story though. More on the other end.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

This month has turned out to be all I had hoped for after my January letdown. My bookcase is plastered with the valentines I received from friends and family. I didn’t get any sent out. Other things called for my attention.

Valentines

As I’ve mentioned, I have been trying to clear clutter and make my space more user friendly. It’s been ongoing since I moved into my house. I have a lot of stuff for creative endeavors.

On Valentines Day I received a special gift. My blogging friend, Alys from Gardening Nirvana came to visit. It was our first meeting and I was looking forward to it as she is dear to my heart. Alys is an advocate for kindness, animals, and an uncluttered life. She has another blog that she rarely posts on entitled Organized at Heart. It’s how she makes her living.

Coming off the airplane I’d recognize her anywhere

Soups all gone Very tired traveler.

I spent many days cleaning and clearing before she arrived as you would guess. There is more company coming next week. I couldn’t think of where to take her to show her around the Portland, Oregon area. So we just let it happen. We had a simple dinner of homemade lentil soup and veggies,  The next morning we went to Bob’s Red Mill for breakfast. She buys their products but had no idea of what we would find there. Who knew it would be a huge birthday party for Bob’s 89th birthday with a band for entertainment. We even got a slice of birthday cake and a free cup of oatmeal to take home.

Entertainment getting ready

Bob at 89 stops in every weekend when he’s not working. The oldest working CEO in the country I think.

He looks great at 89. Saying happy birthday.

After breakfast we needed to walk a bit so I took Alys to Fabric Depot. It’s an acre of fabric and notions where you can find anything you can possibly imagine. She did find something that had to come home with her. I left it all there. I shop at home now. The party continued through the afternoon. Back at my house, I had to sit and rest my poor sore foot and Alys started to move like someone had set fire to her. She was everywhere at once. Asking how I felt as we proceeded. She immediately honed into the areas that were causing me the most grief and visualized an immediate solution. I was awestruck!

Right at home

We can make this easily

Watch yourself Vanna

Shelves were emptied and moved and other shelves were emptied and moved and then everything went back together looking like a department store had set up a beautiful display but she didn’t do what I was so afraid an organizer would do. She didn’t suggest I throw things away. I looked at things with different eyes and a lot more left to the thrift store. We found things my daughter wanted to keep with her.

Above the washer has never been so pretty. One day maybe a closing cabinet.

The next day, we had a light breakfast to fortify us for a trek through Powell’s City of Books, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. We only spent and hour and a half but managed to find things we couldn’t live without.

My sister had to drive us there as it’s out of my safe range. Then we went to have lunch at a nice and noisy restaurant friends of my sister own. We waddled out but stopped at Salt and Straw for our evening dessert to go. My sister drove us by the Rose and Japanese gardens but it was too cold and wet to stop.

Much lighter without the bookcase on top.

This bookshelf was on the kitchen desk.

That rack was originally in the laundry room looking quite ugly. Much better here.

Getting back home, Alys once more became more energized and the next thing I knew three more rooms had their Chi fluffed big time. I hobbled along the best I could but Alys was moving like lightning making changes to make my life so much easier. It’s like she read my mind and saw how I needed things to flow. I’m now able to do my sewing and crafts in a way that brings peace to my soul.

This was next to the desk in the kitchen. An emergency basket on the floor by the back door. I’ll paint this bookcase and the others this summer.

Will be putting a tension rod to cover the detergents.

 

My daughter came the next morning and was overwhelmed by how well Alys had read my needs and provided them. My daughter has dubbed Alys her new Goddess Hero for making my life so much lighter. She was gleeful as we moved more things around. In Feng Shui, there is a phrase that if you want to change your life, move 27 things. I think big changes are coming now.

Would you be able to let an organizer help you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself