Looking for answers to life's questions

I’m really not trying to fool anyone here. I am no artist in any capacity but as I had all of Julia Cameron’s books out two weeks ago as well as my workbook, I was inspired.

When my daughter came for our Saturday together, I put on the tea kettle and she started her laundry. We sat down to decide what we would do with our day. I was thinking at first of helping her start on a summer dress that is waiting to be made. Then it occurred to me that I was ready for something out of the ordinary.

Ms. Cameron is very big on Artist’s Dates to unblock creativity. They should be done alone but I drive very little these days while my daughter is an excellent chauffeur. I suggested that after we had our brunch out at Bob’s Red Mill where she could do some grocery shopping for the following week, we go to a thrift store, a dollar store and another little junk shop nearby for some inspiration.

I found notebook paper for a dollar to put into the binder I’ve had for at least 20 years that has been only used for decor so far. It is now the holder of my morning pages. Then we decided to go look in a fun antique consignment shop in a suburb where she once worked to see any changes. It’s been three years at least since our last visit. This time I saw the soda fountain. How did I not notice it before? We purchased nothing but had a good time looking.

Directly across the street from where we parked was a new shop. K. Marie Vintage Ephemera. I had to go look. So much was French inspired and they were offering classes in making interesting things with paper and ribbons, etc. I know we spent a good twenty minutes browsing. I could have stayed much longer but it would have been rude as I would be purchasing nothing. Too many hobbies already.

Next door to the Vintage Shop was a…CHOCOLATE shop! My daughter, trying to be ever helpful of my diet insisted on walking me right past it and kept going. My two-year-old self almost had a meltdown. You could not pass this place and not go in! I opened the door for her and pushed her through. It was like time travel. Their chocolates and sweets were mostly from France and they had a Parisian theme going on as well as very vintage. It’s called “Enchante.” I was in love and there was as much eye candy as edible candy. It was like Alice going down the rabbit hole.

We left with only one piece of rich, dark chocolate each. I had to have a lemon marshmallow and my daughter got raspberry. We saw wish candles and tiny tiara’s plus so much more. We left with the wish candles and I think a tiny crown will find it’s way to her birthday package when I can get someone to take me back there.

Chocolate bees in the tree

I was feeling like an artist afterwards and inspired enough to continue work on a crazy quilt that has been on hold. More on that later. I think we will do this once a month.

Do you take yourself places that are out of the ordinary in your own town to inspire you or are you a strictly routine kind of person?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Bumper stickers

I’ve collected a few bumper stickers but I never put them on my car. No one on the road is interested in my philosophy. They just want me to get out of their way so they can go faster. I am not a slow driver in the fast lane and I don’t, for the most part, drive in the slow lane. On the road as well as in life, I tend to go with the flow to some degree. I will take a stand about something I believe in and if you are going too slow in the fast lane, I’ll find a way around you, carefully and with consideration. They won’t let me install a lift mechanism on the front of my car to move you physically so I have to do a mind meld.

 

My favorite

My sister puts lots of bumper stickers on her truck. She has a lot to say to the world. I love reading bumper stickers, but many make people want to hammer the vehicle or smack the driver on the back of the head and ask what is wrong with them. You know that feeling. Of course, I restrain myself because we are all going to see things from a different perspective. I’ll be nice to you even if yours is wrong.

An extension of my sister.

 

 

My license plate frame says “A creative mind is never tidy”. I really need that hanging from my front door to let people know what to expect if they decide to enter my home. Bumper stickers tell people a lot about you. Maybe more than you want them to know or is safe for them to know about you. I keep them for my own reference about who I am in case I get lost some days. I will never put anything derogatory towards anyone or anything out there. There is enough hate without adding even a slice of it to the world.

 

My beliefs are quite strong, and I’ve done my research. I’m sure everyone else feels the same way about theirs. I can hang my views in my home for all who enter to see. I do not want to start an argument or a debate. My verbal skills are too limited to make many understand my perspective. I also have a great deal of difficulty with confrontation of any nature. My sister is the brave one in our family.

All I fully understand is that whatever view I hold, it will always come from a place of caring and kindness. Nothing else matters. So I’m sharing some of my bumper stickers here where the only thing that can be hurt are my feelings and I’ll get over that quick enough. I still like to be mostly invisible on the road. My Angels have learned to move very quickly and keep the police radar guns aimed elsewhere.

Do you proudly display your bumper stickers or do you slide under the radar in traffic?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Morning Pages

I’ve been sitting on my front porch in the early daylight hours sipping my one cup of hot coffee, writing my morning pages. Julia Cameron, of whom I am a big fan, says there should be three pages but I’m hard pressed to take the time for one or two. Once my coffee is gone, so am I. The pages of drivel seem to others to be a waste of time and paper. I figure I can shred the paper later and put it in the compost. Writing in the morning sorts out my mind. Since I am alone with no one else to bounce ideas and thoughts out, they reflect back off the paper. I get all the muddle out in front of me, make my list of possibilities for the day, then see how much of that I can bring to fruition.

I took the 12 week workshop with many other women. Wonderful!

No day goes exactly as planned. I can deviate so quickly by a turn in my step. Finding myself organizing my shed when all I wanted to do is find the fertilizer to finish watering my plants. Then the pain in my foot will bring me back to my original intention of getting the watering done before the heat descends.

I’m sure she has written something I haven’t read yet.

Writing my morning pages is very different from what I write in my journal each night. Morning pages set intent for my day. My nightly journal page is a documentation of that day. Time, date and weather are included in both. Morning pages help me bring my intention into focus and clear my mind clutter. The nightly journal page, only one as I’m quite tired by then, helps off load my thoughts so I get a better night’s sleep.

When my children were young, I began the practice of reading to each of them separately at night as there was quite the distance in age, then ask how their day had gone. That’s the time when they would tell me anything that had troubled them or had been of particular delight. I was their nightly journal. Since both children have Dysgraphia, actual journal writing isn’t something they do. But mom still asks at the end of their workday how it went. My daughter spills most on her Saturday visits and my son calls daily to make sure I’m still among the living. He knows he can still share the good and the troubling. If it’s something big in need of working out, I still say, “WRITE IT OUT”.

Borrowed from the library and listened to it.

Like a piece of paper, I can fix nothing, just be the place to reflect back. Life is slower for me now. More solitude than many would find comfortable. Writing longhand on paper always clears things up in a way that writing on a computer does not.

There is scientific evidence of the brain to hand connection that does not exist with the computer. Long hand, free-flowing writing can unblock creativity and the next thing you know, you have a list of what can be done that day as well as a blog post all done for you. I may not be an artist but these books help unlock all kinds of creativity. Now I need to do another artists date. Hmmm.

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/writing-by-hand-benefits-brain-ainissa-ramirez

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/12/writing-on-paper_n_5797506.html

Have you found the benefits of morning pages yet or journal writing at night?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Once again, mom sent me out to find my sister, now four years old. Mom’s hands were full and she wasn’t moving as fast as I could. My sister also did not want to be found or confined in any way. The pursuit of freedom was her agenda in the world, along with a good time.

I looked outside first. Outside was the place to be. When that search was exhausted, I looked to the playroom. As I reached the fourth floor I looked into the playroom on our side of the building with no luck. There was another playroom all the way across on the second side of the building with the long hall housing maid’s quarters. I would head that way just in case.

 

A reminder of what it looked like.

We never saw the inside of those tiny rooms because they were always locked as was the common bathroom for them. That was not the case this day. Someone had left the bathroom door unlocked. There, leaning up on the sink was my little sister, trying to figure out how to turn off the hot water but the handle had become too warm and water was running everywhere. Lots of water. She told me her hands were dirty so she wanted to wash them. I quickly shut off the taps and walked her all the way across the top of the entire building and down the other side hoping to get her dry enough that the parents didn’t notice.

Unnoticed by our parents, no questions were asked when we slipped in the door. They didn’t notice things like my sister sneaking sips from their Cognac glasses while they played cards with friends either. She was much easier to put to bed afterward so I wasn’t going to tell.

I never gave the water incident another thought until several days later. I was up there again and noticed the wood floors in front of the bathroom and most of the way down the hall formed a little hill. The floor had lifted up in a way that you almost couldn’t walk on it. I knew, just knew, that this was a result of my sister letting the water run but I just did not know what to do about it. So, I stayed silent. Speaking out would have brought extreme consequences to my sister.

As it was, we were getting ready to move out of these apartments and back to the States. No one ever found out about the floors while we were there and my sister played outside.

For some reason, the move to the States slowed her antics down. Maybe it was because she was getting older as were my baby brothers. With less available for her to get into,  life became a bit less chaotic. She continued to tromp through life at full barrel, swinging off vines in the woods behind our Georgia apartment for the next five years.

Can you see it yet?

At the same time, my memory of her later antics started to fade. There were times that I would catch her doing something I knew would get her in big trouble and I would paddle her as only a preteen could and tell her not to do it again. I did not want heavy hands coming down on her. Her exuberance fed me.

Life was never easy for this child that refused to fit in any box. A creature of her own making, she is out to show the world that she will live life on her terms. And so, she has; with all my love.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

It’s here today and gone tomorrow. Spring finally showed up and I put out my welcome sign. In the next moment, we went back to winter then summer and finally spring again. What we had of spring was lovely  Everything is confused except the bees. I’m listening to them.

 

Dressing in layers is the only way to go these days. We get a cold rainy day then a scorcher.  One day I have lots of energy to put into the yard  The next day I’m spinning my wheels and sitting trying to decide if I can do anything of use.  I’ve been here in my cozy home for four years at the end of this month and made so many changes.

 

Spring is the month I can get the most work done outside and even inside. Once I could open all the windows, I took a day to clean my oven. Four years ago, it took 4 hours to clean that nasty mess the previous owner left for me. Now it’s taking me a whole day to clean a rarely used oven. Looks like some of my spring, sprang.

Ground cover spreading and front porch in need of serious help.

Weeding on the hill and the front yard took lots of rest periods that would never have happened four years ago. But the end result was worth it.

 

The entire top of the hill was covered in these sticker weeds. Birds carry the seeds everywhere as does the wind.

 

 

beginning of the weeding

 

Still more work to do but a good start. Lower bed is the Oregano and Thyme.

I have been gifted with pieces of many plants from friends around here. I take those gifts seriously and nurture them to the best of my ability. Of course, I gift in return. A neighbor came looking for Thyme to cook his dinner.He said what I gave would have cost him $5 for a small bundle, he wound up with triple for a thank you. I’ve offered my Oregano as well to anyone that wants fresh. I’ve passed on ground cover and anything that I’m growing that can be split. It’s how the world should work. I get a lot of my plants from a fellow blogger and photographer, Sabine.

There are lots of projects on the list. This week I had the distinct urge to take care of my window trim as it was the last cool, cloudy day on the sunny side of the house. If the butterfly bush blooms, it will be covered in bees which are not conducive to standing on the ladder with black paint. I’m embarrassed to say it’s taken two years to get to this. I’ll do the one on the front porch tomorrow. Then I must sand the stairs and railing on the front porch and re-stain. Today I can’t move. Old feet on ladders takes its toll. I’ll wait for the next surge of energy.  They don’t come so often anymore.

So I’ve hung up the Welcome Summer sign since my spring is sprung anyway. How about you? Are you ready to welcome the next season or is there still a spring in your step?

This one goes up Memorial Day and stays until after Labor Day.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

It seems a natural thing for children to dance, a spontaneous action to their inherent joy. It becomes an issue when children dance on high things and don’t always pay attention.

It took all her strength to sit still there

My younger sister liked to dance, anywhere, anytime without a care in her mind. She was as happy and playful as I was serious and responsible. Her joy and playfulness fed my soul. She had rhythm where I had none. Her balance came later. I have to admit to finding no photos of her dancing anywhere because our parents were too busy to take photos.

By the time the youngest was that age, dancing on the furniture was photo worthy.

I heard the cry and ran into our bedroom. Mom ran in too. Mom saw the blood and started to panic. The drawers were pulled out of the dresser to make stairs so my sister could climb them to the top. As she had been dancing on the top of the dresser, it dumped her over and her head hit the corner of a drawer.

There was blood everywhere and mom didn’t know what to do. This was a new one for us so it seemed like the thing to do was to ask someone who might know about these things for some help.

I ran upstairs to the apartment directly above us. Mrs. Markum had three boys. Rowdy, mean boys that were always tormenting me if they saw me outside and they were also always covered with scrapes and cuts from their antics. A younger one was my sister’s partner in crime. Mrs. Markum would know what to do with blood.

We were on the bottom left of this building. Mrs M was directly above Photos taken in 2006 when we returned for a visit.

 

These were big buildings with several rows of them behind us.

I knocked and she answered. I pleaded my case and she immediately ran downstairs to help. Putting pressure with a clean cloth on my sister’s head, the bleeding slowed and then she scooped up my sister and took her and my mother to the base medic. When they got back my sister has a couple of little stitches at her hairline and a Band-Aid. She was happy once again and mom had some color back in her face. I had stayed home to watch my brother while they were gone and mop up some of the blood from the floor. Who knew heads bled so profusely from small cuts.

Mrs. Markum said that when the head bleeds like that, just put a clean cloth with some pressure on the cut. I was happy she talked to me like a grownup and realized that I would understand and know what to do. Thank goodness because this was only the first of seven times in that year my sister would need to be treated for what I called “holes in her head” during that year. She was like a bull in a china shop, running, dancing and plowing into things that made her head bleed.

How could you ever be angry with a face like that? Age 3 inside our apartment.

Our dad would often comment when we said something he thought was not too bright that we had rocks in our heads. When my sister said or did things he would think not to bright, she had holes in her head. It never stopped her from dancing though.

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Bloggers are a different breed of people. I think most have a broader perspective of the world. Our world is larger in many ways even if it appears to the eye to be quite small.

I started blogging six years ago to enlarge my world created by a debilitating illness. I could no longer drive my car that had taken me thousands of miles across the country. Catching a bus to go shop was a major event that brought a great deal of fatigue. The blogging community rescued me from self-pity and taught me I could reach out as well.

African Violet loves the kitchen sink area. Happy day.

I have met (virtually) many who are in some capacity, more debilitated than I, offering great strength and courage. Their tenacity moved me forward. Even though we are somewhat debilitated or even disabled, we still have much to share with one another.

Over the last year, my local quilting friend Patti was working on a cross stitch that I fell in love with. It was a pattern company I was familiar with but had never seen this design. Already having given away all counted cross stitch patterns I had as I could no longer see the tiny squares, I asked Patti if I could borrow the pattern to copy and share with a blogging friend that I thought might enjoy it. I was hoping to pay this blogger to make it for me.

Patti said that as soon as she was done with the pattern, I could have it. True to her word, as I ogled the finished project, she handed over the pattern which I promptly forwarded to my friend Lois at Life in a Minimalist Farmhouse.

I have sent and received gifts from many bloggers over the years. They are cherished more than anyone can imagine. These people have never and probably will never meet me in person. Despite this, we have formed deep and personal relationships. Lois is one of those friends who inspire on a daily basis. She reclaims cast offs and re-purposes them, inspires neighbors to garden, repair and rebuild. I had a lot of pink fabric and no more little girls to use it on as well as a few children’s books and no more children. I passed them on to Lois who had grandchildren that appreciated what she made from the fabric and enjoyed the books.

Previous gifts from Lois

This is what I received from Lois soon after sending her the pattern. Now she is making one for herself from it and then sharing it with another friend.

She chose different colors than the pattern asked for. I LOVE them.

I can be quite slow about getting things framed but this was too beautiful to wait. After all the hours of her hard work, I had to get it up on the wall quickly. So. I went to Craft Warehouse and had a discount coupon to get it framed in a way I hope brings more attention to the art than the frame. Thank you, Lois. You do incredible work. Her work on holiday and celebration gifts are stunning. Stop by and pay this amazing woman a visit. She just posted her version of this design so stop by and take a look at it here.

The frame is the same color as the trees.

Have you enjoyed close friendships with other bloggers?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself