Looking for answers to life's questions

Speed

Have you noticed that the months of November and December go faster than any month of the year? It’s like these two months are on speed and I’m on molasses. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas always finds me totally unprepared and way behind schedule.

Set myself up an assembly line in the den so I can watch Christmas movies while I work.

We know it’s coming with 12 months notice. It comes the same time every year and each year I’m behind in my list of things to get done. I’ve even shortened the list to a minute fraction of what it once was.

Someone apparently likes pink. Not my favorite..

Sleep doesn’t come easily when your mind is letting you know all night what’s left to be done before mailing is no longer possible. Since I make most my gifts from what I have available, my creativity has to work overtime as well.

 

Many days are taken up with fun things. Last weekend I went to the Hazelnut Festival in Mt. Angel, Oregon with my blogging friend Crystal, at Conscious Engagement.  There are better photos on her blog. She did the driving, I bought lunch. Santa was on the porch calling us to dine.

Having a chat with Santa

It’s less than an hour away from my house and two from Crystal’s. It turned into a beautiful day but quite chilly. They were wise enough to hold it in a large hall out of the elements. I bought a lovely hazelnut cake made by the Benedictine Sisters to share over the holidays. There was Chocolate hazelnut handmade pasta to make as a dessert. I can’t wait to try it. Hazelnut butter and so many things made with them I had a hard time leaving it all behind.

I’m dancing to the music

Next week will be full as well. Sewing group will have their all day (5 hrs) gathering to share our finished projects and our gifts for each other. Mine are ready for the bows.

Each one is a little different. For quilting friends.

Even the Pulmonary Fibrosis support group my sister, daughter and I attend will have their monthly gathering at a restaurant downtown. Thank goodness my daughter is a wonderful chauffeur. The drinks (if we imbibe) will be on us but the nibbles are gifted by the foundation. The chauffeur never imbibes and drives. I taught her well.

My first visit with Santa in over 30 years.

This holiday is once again going to be quite different from others. I’ve been gifting from my collections and making lots of bowl cozies for family members to give as their gifts to friends. Since they already have theirs, the making of these others will be my gift to them. I’m slower these days but finding a rhythm.

6 cozies made for my sister so far. She gives them as gifts

Today will be baking day. A favorite for both my daughter and me. We usually spend Saturday’s together and baking in my better-appointed kitchen than she has is fun and tasty. I can only say, I wish you were here. Now it’s time to start our breakfast.

Beginning of baking

How are you doing with timing?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I’ve been looking through as many of my photos as I can get to and can find almost none of our Thanksgivings. Especially the meals. I asked my son about it today and he said it was because I was always busy cooking and never had the time to really enjoy it. That’s not going to happen this year.

The last of fall is so beautiful

I didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving. It’s an American holiday and my mother had a hard time grasping its purpose. As a young war bride, she had seriously limited cooking skills. You could actually say very little that came out of her kitchen was tasty for most of my growing up years.  We ate it anyway.

Our first Thanksgiving  at age six in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was fraught with frustration. First there was little money for all that food and turkey was foreign to her. A kind and generous neighbor brought over the very first turkey mom had ever seen. Unfortunately, it still had its feathers and head. The neighbor was asked politely to take it back home with her. That sweet woman plucked and prepared the turkey to go in the oven explaining to mom how it was done. We invited another hungry military family to share it with us. That’s how many military families survived.

This says it all. I don’t know where I got it so long ago but it still resonates

While in elementary school on base in Germany, we were asked to bring in a washed potato to make an art project. It was destined to become a turkey with paper tail feathers. Mine never made it to art class. I was hungry and the raw potato tasted just fine to me. I didn’t need that paper going to waste. We didn’t have Thanksgiving dinner at our house until years later.

Many later Thanksgivings were spent by my own young family with in-laws, or out of the country where we had no stove, much less an oven.  Tradition was fluid and flexible.

Just the in-laws long ago. Very formal

When we had our own home, the first Thanksgiving was such a big deal because we had invited both sets of parents to join us. Mine had far to travel and my mother-in-law was a great cook. Nothing like setting the bar all the way at the top. I cooked a 30-pound turkey that year and with my dad’s direction and advice, it came out PERFECT!

Every year, Thanksgiving is different. The number of people who show up for dinner, the food changes with some of the old favorites showing up repeatedly until they don’t. I’ve gone from making everything myself from scratch with lots of leftovers to quick and easy for only a few. This year my daughter, sister and I will go out for a buffet lunch/dinner in a restaurant. Maybe I’ll take photos this time.

The one thing that never changes in all the years of Thanksgivings is the thanks. No matter where the food comes from, I am grateful to have it. I’ve had 17 at my table and once there were only two. I’m grateful for the restaurant that cooks when I just don’t have the energy and  for family to share the meal. I’m grateful for the air I get to breathe and a body that can move and work. It’s the little things that matter. Having family at the touch of a button or within grasp. When I wake, I’m grateful for another day to choose what I can make of it. I’m grateful for the rain we desperately need and so much more.

While I was looking through my photos, I found this and thought it was a good time to share it. I’m grateful for the ability to put pen to paper and wish everyone a great day of gratitude and a full stomach.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Haunted

I’ve been haunted this year. Not by ghosts but by memories. There are seven years of memories that haunt my waking hours and keep sleep at bay.

Haunted

Today is my seventh anniversary with WordPress. My first post was on Halloween night. The haunting started at my son’s home while he and his sister terrorized the neighbor children with frightening sights and sounds.

It’s also the anniversary of my father’s death. But he doesn’t haunt me. Unless I’ve misspelled a word or used it incorrectly.

Frankie ate the candy so he brought flowers for his coffin

What is haunting me is whether I have the capacity to keep blogging in the face of all the new challenges ahead. I have a cemetery of unread posts and another of unfinished posts to write. You know about the well of dead plots, I’m certain.

Halloween here is quiet, deadly quiet in my neighborhood. It’s rainy and not quite cold enough to keep the ghouls away.

Witchy Poo

My lights are on and the snickers are louder than ever before. Calling me to step outside and put my hand in the cauldron with the chance that my hand may never come out of it…empty.

Frightening

The moon is covered so we can’t see the witches fly by it or the ghouls creep up the steps. I have my bowl of popcorn and a host of Halloween hilarity waiting. I’m no good with the horror of this night and will stay hidden until it’s all over, hoping next year will be better and the haunting comes to an end.

Have you got hilarious or horrific plans for your Halloween/Anniversary?

From my heart to yours

Haunted Marlene Herself

Falling

No, not me. At least so far so good. I’m old but upright.

Leaves, temperatures, temperaments, daylight hours, rain, even the number of posts I’m writing. Everything is falling and changing. That’s the natural order of life. We all want it to stay the same. One person worships the warm weather and constant daylight. Another, like myself, prefers the falling temperatures and rain. Odd for a person who is solar-powered but I am not one who does well in the heat.

Finished with scrap fabric

My expectations of myself are always rising, but my results have fallen a bit. This year, as the autumn closes in with a tease I find myself moving more slowly, introspectively.

Hydrangea in the spring

 

The seasons of weather are much like the seasons of life. The leaves of my mind blow here and there, not quite coming to a place of rest. Energy in the fall can seem quite scattered. I say that’s why I blow from project to project not quite completing any of them. Lot’s of works in progress.

Showing off for sewing friends Now I need to finish the back and bind it.

 

Only 10 years in the making. It started out in a class.

Even my plants are showing me that fall is here. My Hydrangea went from a soft blue to green and shades of purple as the fall came blowing in. Our clocks will be falling back an hour on November 4th. Not a fan of changing the clocks because the body takes so much longer to pick up the rhythm.

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

 

They started out light blue.

 

From light blue to dark purple

The whole world is in a cycle of change like the weather. If we can love each season for the good it brings with it, we can weather the storms and find ourselves with the beauty that was always right in front of us.

Beautiful colors against a clear sky

I love the colors of fall

There are many dealing with storms of all kinds this autumn. My thoughts are with you and wish you well. I’m going to enjoy the wobble of weather from cold to warm and back again along with the lovely changes in the colors of leaves. How are you dealing with the Fall?

This is where they end up. Glad it’s not me.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I’ve been absent and can’t quite explain why that happened. We had excessive heat along with smoke from fires in every direction. I think my brain melts in hot weather but I was willing to tolerate it without (too much) complaint as I bargained with the heavens that I would be quiet about the heat if the weather cooled for my company.

September’s flower Aster in full bloom on Sept 2

I had lots of it. My son and his significant other spent 10 days here and my cousin and her grown children arrived just in time to spend three days celebrating our birthdays. This is the time of year so many I know are celebrating birthdays. There were three of us in my family here and one good friend in just over a week. More of my blogging friends have them in early September as well.

The beginning of Autumn Hydrangeas

Why the party? My cousin who is many years younger had her heart stop a while back. It took three tries to get it going again and then a pacemaker. It’s happening more and more to younger people. She decided life was now and no more waiting. It’s been 15 years since we’ve been in the same space. This was also my 70th birthday two days before her birthday and she was named after me.

2nd cousins all grown up.

Bloody Mary toast to 70 and not 70.

Even drink these out of a straw. Her son did the grilling.

Birthdays are no longer a given. I was informed last December that I am facing a major health challenge that can only be managed, not treated. so all my ducks needed to be lined up as I go about the business of continuing to live a full and happy life. Family and friends are a big part of that so the party seemed to take on a life of its own. It was a zoo here! My sewing friends were invited to visit the zoo and were made honorary members for their efforts.

Flowers from Patti

Wall hanging from my friend, Emily. It was her birthday week as well.

It was so much fun to see how everyone pitched in to make it work effortlessly. These last months have been very full and I have many partially written posts waiting to be finished. Now that fall has finally winked at us, I may have a bit more time. Of course the rain has still failed to materialize and we desperately need it.

All the den, living room and dining room furniture in one space so we are all together

I think birthdays should be celebrated more than any holiday we have. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity to grow older. Not everyone has that pleasure. My birthdays have usually been very quiet and sedate. This one, shared by my cousin, son’s partner and myself made it raucous and loud. A real party! I wanted no gifts as I’m in the giving away stage but some things were still gifted and deserved special mention.

A wonderful gift from my daughter for all of us. Another view of my favorite non cake. Doesn’t get better than this.

My son and his partner did many chores for me as well as putting new struts on the tailgate of my suburban. That door is quite heavy when it comes down on you. He also built shelves in the storage shed for better organization and put up more motion sensors for my safety. There is more to this but that’s another post.

 

Tech Supports favorite task when visiting.

My daughter and I went to see Christopher Robin at the movies several weeks ago and I mentioned after this wonderful and sweet story that I didn’t remember ever reading the Pooh stories. She said she had so I must have bought her a copy at some time. I am now having the childhood I missed the first time. I read myself a bedtime story each night. They are so lovely and I hope to catch up on more I missed.

Jennie at A Teacher’s Reflection’s entices me with her collection of children’s books. I feel quite young visiting her blog.

I love this book!

 

Do you celebrate your birthdays quietly or with a big slash?

Boccone Dolce for 3 birthdays and 10 people

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Book Lovers

Today is National Book Lover’s Day. I had it saved on my calendar from last year. Dr. French has a post this year on the subject and he was the one who alerted me to this great day last year. I am always ready to celebrate a book.

This has been hanging on my walls for 15 years through many moves

I have often threatened to show photographs of my small book collection. It’s a good thing that my shelves have been culled and many passed on. There is a box waiting at the back door to go to “The Friends of the Library” bookstore. They sell used books so the library can buy new offerings.

One side of the living room

I have loved books since I discovered them at about the age of 12 when my parents bought eight for my Christmas gift. I had four Donna Parker and four Trixie Belden books. I had four of the books read before they were even wrapped and placed under the tree. Somehow my mother was suspicious of my over enthusiastic reception at Christmas. I sat on top of the refrigerator and read when mom was away and I was babysitting. They were hiding in the cupboard over the fridge with our school paper. Silly mom.

I have replaced some of
the original childhood books from that Christmas. When we moved, everything non-essential was left behind.

There was also a library on our base for the first time in my memory. Moving every six months to every couple of years left huge holes in my education so the library helped fill in the blanks. I started devouring books anytime I could get my hands on them which was not often enough.

the other end of the living room. I scrounge for book cases and space to put them.

My dream has always been to have a library in my own home, own a bookstore or at the very least work in one. I didn’t have the education to be a librarian but oh how I envied them.

In the den with the TV

My children are huge readers as well though only my son has kept enough to sink a battleship with the weight of them. My daughter reads as much but lets them go on so much easier. I’ve been a lending library for friends and family. My sister will often come and peruse my shelves looking for her next read.

At the end of the kitchen.

If you can read, you can do anything. I taught myself to cook, sew, quilt,  paint, meditate, and how to be a better person in the world from reading. I learned to garden and craft from a book. Books have kept me company when I’m alone and let me share when I’m not.

I had to stop accumulating so many books as I was afraid the floors of my factory crafted manufactured home would not hold much more weight. I’ve always joked that the books, soft and hard cover are insulation against the weather and holding down the house so it won’t blow away. I will buy a book before I buy food in case I can’t do both. Books will always be a  priority in my life. I need to learn something new every day and a book is a good place to do that.

Are you a book lover too? Do you have favorites or are they all friends?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Lost and Found

Last night, while reading my Chicken Soup story just before dropping off to sleep, I saw a rather large (in my peripheral vision it was the size of a small tarantula) spider run up my bed to my pillow. I will not tell you the stream of words that came out of my mouth.

I jumped up out of bed and stripped off my nightgown to make sure it wasn’t hiding on me somewhere and before I started stripping my bed., I put on snug fitting pajamas just so I would know for certain I had nothing on me.  I then got out the vacuum and tried to move the bed. It weighs a ton and I was shaking so much my strength was missing. I gave up and went to sleep on the sofa for all of four hours.

Camellia to take your mind off spiders.

What does this tell me? I need to do some more cleaning out. I have been continuing to purge since Alys’ visit but last night set up a more in-depth purge. I had bags of fabric (hiding) under my bookcase headboard that I’ve been wondering where it should go. After pushing the bed out and dragging all those plastic bags of “I’m gonna” fabrics out, they are now in the thrift store box. Vacuuming and searching brought no results for the spider so I’m still quite jumpy.

Bags in the going box

 

Going through bags to go

I will admit that going through things is a good idea and have been bragging to anyone who would listen about my Alys adventure. I was looking through a bag on it’s way to the thrift store when I found a treasure rolled up in other things. My mother had finished this needlepoint for me well before my move to Arizona in 1999. I couldn’t figure needlepoint out but mom excelled at it and I loved the design. With everything that happened during the ensuing years, this needlepoint went missing. When I showed it to my daughter, she was stunned and agreed that it had to be framed and hung. She helped me to pick the mating and frame since it will one day grace her walls.

My mother’s handwork more than 20 years old

 

On the wall where it belongs.

My Alys worship affected one of my sewing friends who frequently spoke about buying a new, easy to carry machine. She knew just what she wanted and was going to go shopping. But first she had to do a little closet cleaning so there would be room for her machine. At the next gathering of our sewing group, she had to do a show and tell. It was her new machine and it’s little carrying casethat she found in the back of her closet! It had been there so long, she had to refresh herself on how to use it. Of course, we had to help her get it all figured out so she could quickly enjoy her find.

I’m having a glass of wine tonight in hopes of a real night’s sleep. Cheers.

good stories start with alcohol

Have you ever lost things only to find them years later right where you put them? What does it take to get you to part with things that you “were gonna” use? Hopefully not a big spider.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself