Looking for answers to life's questions

How much can you cram into a short day and a half? Well, if I’d been younger and in better shape, probably a whole lot more than I did. Crossing borders is hard work.

Our next destination for the day.

Our next destination for the day.

We left Butchart Gardens early Saturday afternoon so we could drive 3-5 minutes down the road. Another place that I wanted my children to see was the Victoria Butterfly Garden. I have been a collector of anything butterfly related for many years. They represented freedom to me which has been my quest for most of my life. It’s also a part of my personality. I flit. From project to project, book to book, experience to experience. It’s like being in a bakery, tasting a little of everything and going back and tasting again. That’s what these butterflies did too.

Old banana peels and orange slices enticed these diners to sit a spell

Old banana peels and orange slices enticed these diners to sit a spell

An indoor tropical oasis that is climate controlled at 80% humidity and 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit). If it wasn’t so warm in there, I would have stayed for days. As it was, we spent almost two hours. It was a little harder to photograph as our models kept flitting around. Some were tiny, some were quite loud and vocal. The pink flamingos were the loudest edging out the parrots. The turtles, as silent as the butterflies. They didn’t have any snakes in this jungle but they did have an iguana. I didn’t get a photo because it was way up high and blended in fairly well to the background, but my son got a great shot. He has a better camera and vision.

Can you see the Iguana hiding in the green?

Can you see the Iguana hiding in the green?

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This was a day of surprises for me all the way through. I saw my very first dragon fly that morning at Butchart and had a parrot land on my arm for a long and meaningful conversation in the late afternoon.

Th
I don’t know what the rest of the day could have brought had we tested it further. My daughter found out butterflies like red toes. This one circled her feet for several minutes.

This butterfly thought those toes might be a flower

This butterfly thought those toes might be a flower

Departure day brought relief at the end of our hotel stay. Super 8 had the idea that a “climate controlled” room means being controlled by the climate. The AC unit was totally non functioning. I wouldn’t recommend that one as the fans were only slightly helpful. It was on the edge of the city and available. Very few options in our price range with short notice.

Thank goodness there was no heat wave as the AC unit did not work.

Thank goodness there was no heat wave as the AC unit did not work.

We had a lovely breakfast at a place called Cora’s, which was recommended by the nice young man at the post office on that fine Sunday morning. This is a place I can recommend. They had everything on the menu but the kitchen sink and it was all good and the place was exceptionally clean and welcoming. Then parking our car in line for the ferry, we traversed the town of Victoria. At least as far as I could hobble.

The Empress Hotel was as impressive as ever. My daughter found a nice t-shirt in the gift shop but we didn’t stay for tea. The view at Butchart has them beat as far as I’m concerned.

The Empress Hotel. She wasn't home. So daughter bought a t-shirt in the gift shop

The Empress Hotel. She wasn’t home. So daughter bought a t-shirt in the gift shop

The architecture and the feel of the city make you feel right at home. The one way streets, not so much. We found an outdoor artist market but left the wares behind. I am totally enthralled with that city and could have stayed many more days exploring. Everyone there was helpful, warm and welcoming. Next time, I’d like a week or more and see much more of Canada. I hear it’s pretty big and they have beautiful butterflies.

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Are you a flitter or a sitter? Do you go from one thing to the next or do stay with it till it’s time to move on?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

I’m a foreigner. That holds true in every country I go. Even the one I was born in. What is it about borders that make us want to cross them and explore? I’ve been doing just that my whole life.

Crossing large bodies of waters was a normal part of my life.

Crossing large bodies of waters was a normal part of my life.

My children, adults that they are, have not used their passports. My son was very young when we went to Taiwan via the military and I don’t think we needed them at that time. He didn’t remember crossing any borders. My poor daughter has been landlocked her whole life. Until now.

Life on the water. Wouldn't it be lovely?

Life on the water. Wouldn’t it be lovely?

Ferry captains were impressive in their skill.

Ferry captains were impressive in their skill.

We were brave and reckless. Driving the five hours to Port Angeles, Washington. After a wonderful brunch and a trip through their quilt store (yes, I had to look) and their wonderful bookstore (one or maybe two came home with us), my son drove the car onto the ferry and we rode the 90 minutes to another country. This dizzy lady did just fine. It took my daughter a bit to get her sea legs. A lot of distraction and good humor kept her even keeled and we made it safe and sound to Victoria, BC Canada. Now to be truthful, I’ve been there before without a car. We used public transport and that worked quite well. It was a LONG time ago.

They had beautiful stuff but I was very strong. Love this store

They had beautiful stuff but I was very strong. Love this store

So what do you do when you cross the border? You go see pretty flowers and look around the town. Just to warn you, I will have to break this very short visit into two posts. I took over 360 photos. This is a lady who rarely ever took photos. Since I don’t see well, I point, shoot and pray that they can be fixed. My kids took even more.

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First thing on our list was a real food breakfast. We found a lovely place across from our motel. They were so polite and kind that it made our first taste of Canada even better. Then we were off to find a post office. I decided to see if I could mail a package to a Canadian friend from Canada for a bit less than mailing it from the U.S. Cost cut, one third! Do you know they have post offices open Saturday’s and Sunday’s? I was delighted and surprised.

The ABC restaurant was a nice start of our day. I wanted to take this stove home.

The ABC restaurant was a nice start of our day. I wanted to take this stove home.

So is Butchart Gardens worth a second trip? I could use a third and fourth. My feet were protesting but my camera had its buzz on. I just couldn’t stop, until lunch that is. We (my daughter and I) had high tea in the conservatory. My son had a very nice looking hamburger. He’s a guy. The food tasted so beautiful in that room and the tea was something new for them. Lemon grass and ginger. Yum. I didn’t get a photo of the food. I was lost is a sea of bliss by then. The butterflies had nothing on me that day.

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After lunch we waddled over toward the Japanese gardens passing something so fragrant it took my breath away. I felt light headed and overcome with emotion. The tears started to flow and I just couldn’t contain them. I stood there a moment trying to get a grip when the dragonflies did a dance for me and landed softly right where I could get a clear shot. I have never really seen one before. They were always so far away I could not tell what they were. As we came back out of the Japanese Garden, the same thing happened again. The smell was like lilacs but they were not. The feeling, one of unmistakeable happiness.

Who knew they were so beautiful. I was enthralled.

Who knew they were so beautiful. I was enthralled.

I don't know yet what these are but the scent was wonderful.

I don’t know yet what these are but the scent was wonderful.

We finally had to sit a few moments before shopping the gift stores and caving in to happiness and beauty overload. And our day was not done yet. That was one border I would gladly cross again and again.

A great spot to sit a spell and reflect on the wonders of the morning.

A great spot to sit a spell and reflect on the wonders of the morning.

How about you? Do you cross borders?

Stay tuned for part two.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

I had something else in mind for posting today but as I was going through my photos, this was the first to pop up. I think I’m being summoned.

That was his spot. Everything in his late life happened there.

That was his spot. Everything in his late life happened there.

My father has been gone 16 years now and Fathers’ Day was hard for us when he was alive. He wasn’t the warm cuddly kind of dad. He wasn’t “likable” to his children and we really didn’t get to know him. I learned much later in life that he was a voracious reader. So books became the thing to buy him. When I found out we were reading the same spiritual books, it finally gave us something to talk about. He was thinking about his end, I was working on my present.

My day always sat in that chair with a book or magazine in front of him. He wore only blue and mom had a hard time getting the clothes he wore to the washer. Now he showered every day, He just liked his clothes soft and lived in. They would be threadbare before she could sneak them away to toss. Because he’d worn a military uniform most of his working life, the blue shirts, pants and sweaters were his new uniform.

Sometimes warm and cuddly isn't what we need for life. We were well prepared.

Sometimes warm and cuddly isn’t what we need for life. We were well prepared.

Since I have no father living, my children have no father living and my son is not a father, what’s the point of even thinking about Fathers’ Day? I guess it’s to remember them and the gifts they gave us along the way. My dad always said the most dangerous thing in the world was a closed mind. I found that comment interesting coming from him.

My son said the thing he learned from his father was what kind of father he didn’t want to be and how much he wanted to handle frustrations in a better way. His dad thought it was his job to make the living and mine to do the rest. There was no balance. These dads didn’t know how to be daddies. I think there is a difference. There was no place for them to learn. They did their best as did we. Happy Father’s Day to all that are fathers.

He smiled a lot too. Can you see the smile? No, me either

He smiled a lot too. Can you see the smile? No, me either

My sister sent a text this morning to wish me a happy summer solstice. Now that my dad has had his say, I’ll go back to celebrating the solstice in my garden before they turn the oven back up later this week.

Do you find reasons to celebrate dads’ day?

“Fathers never have exactly the daughters they want because they invent a notion of them that the daughters have to conform to.”
Simone de Beauvoir, The Woman Destroyed

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Rhodi

When I moved into my house last year it was the end of June and I had a lot to do. My back yard was starting to bloom and overrun with weeds but I had no idea what anything was out there and not much time to find out. We had a garden in California, much different from here in the Pacific Northwest and very little grew at our home in the mountains of Arizona. Our seasons on the mountain were snow, wind, fire and rain.

Mine bloomed just before the visit to the gardens

Mine bloomed just before the visit to the gardens

Can you see the big fat bumble bee in this one. It boomed after my trip. Who knew they could be so pretty.

Can you see the big fat bumble bee in this one. It boomed after my trip. Who knew they could be so pretty.

There were 4 or 5 bushes that did not that had no appeal for me. Turns out they were rhododendrons and peonies and they must have bloomed before I moved in. This year they finally bloomed so I could see what they looked like. Just in time, at least for a couple of them, for my field trip to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens.

 

In all the years I have come up to visit my sister, who incidentally lived within a couple of miles of this place, I had not known it was there. Thank goodness for our wonderful Senior Center. It was fun this way as we had a tour guide with a lovely German accent. She was 82 and a volunteer at the garden. She walked that entire garden with us and there was a LOT of walking.

All the gardeners are volunteers as well. According to Wikipedia, so I don’t get my facts incorrect:

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens are botanical gardens located between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course in southeastern Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon. The gardens, at Southeast 28th Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard, cover 9.49 acres (3.84 ha), and are named for Crystal Springs Creek, which flows along its western side. Crystal Springs Gardens feature more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants in a setting of small lakes, paved and unpaved paths, fountains, and small waterfalls.[1]

In addition to the manicured areas that make up most of the gardens, patches of less orderly shrubs, upland forest, marsh vegetation, and submerged logs attract wildlife, especially waterfowl, most prevalent in winter. The Rhododendron Society has counted 94 species in the garden, including grebes, herons, ducks, Canada geese, wigeons, gulls, thrushes, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others.[2]

 

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In addition to the lovely walk through the gardens, we stopped for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. I had a nice salad and then we were sent to wander the streets of nearby Sellwood in search of antique shops. Me, I found the craft store instead. Oh dear.

One last view of the water for that peaceful feel. Come for another visit anytime.

One last view of the water for that peaceful feel. Come for another visit anytime.

Do you have Rhodri’s in your garden and what’s your favorite of the colors? Have you taken any fun field trips lately?

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.”
Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

I’m not talking about my son here. That boy is NOT lazy in any way, shape or form. He has worked long after I have melted into a puddle in the shower to ease my aching muscles. It’s the reason I have a hard time with summer. The outside work takes so much more muscle and energy than the inside work in the winter.

Quilting and sewing are easy in comparison to trying to replace lawn (if that’s what you call the close group of weeds). There was no way to grow a real lawn since there was no real dirt under it. Just thick oozing clay mud. All winter it was soggy and slippery as I did my careful squish, squish, squish dance to get to trash and recycling containers for weekly pickup. I layered cardboard in as many places as I had cardboard available from my move and anywhere I could find some used.

Looks kind of puny in there doesn't it? Half a yard was quick.

Looks kind of puny in there doesn’t it? Half a yard was quick.

It’s dried out a bit and that meant outside work must begin. First we rented a trailer after putting the hitch back on my car. Then we went to the landscape supply place and bought a half yard of river rock. It sure looked puny in that big trailer.

After we shoveled out the first load, back we went for two yards of bark dust. I had spread out some weed block and we shoveled even faster to get that out of the trailer. Then one more trip the next morning for a full yard of rock. Can you say ow? We (I) still have to spread all that wonderfulness. It goes a little at a time as the area is prepared. I also think there is a flaw in my plan as the entire property is slopping toward the house and rock around it. My brain hurts from trying to figure out a cheap fix.

Did you think I’ve just been running around on field trips and retreats? Well, I’ve done some of that and watched as my son put in two electrical plugs on the front porch where there were none. Now we can plug in Christmas lights and laptops to sit outside. He put up a flag holder out front and railing off the back porch so I don’t wobble off and started one up the terrace steps. Right now he is working on my car (something about steering linkage) and I pulled weeds, moved rock and spread more mulch. I have the easy work.

Tech Support being a mechanic aka Genius

Tech Support being a mechanic aka Genius

More work to do but at least something to hold onto.

More work to do but at least something to hold onto.

One post is in. Several more to go. The work never ends

One post is in. Several more to go. The work never ends

In time for Memorial day to fly his flag.

In time for Memorial day to fly his flag.

The easy work was only so easy. I was still trying to find a direct path from my shower to an available Lazy Boy. I must admit it was more of a waddle than a walk to find it. It did not disappoint.

Comfy spot at the end of the day in my reclining lazy boy

Comfy spot at the end of the day in my reclining lazy boy

Do you have a lazy boy that brings comfort at the end of a long day? How many summer projects do you have lined up?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Bison

I’ve been taking field trips with the Senior Center for a while with my neighbor, Shirlee and sometimes by myself. The one I took a few weeks ago was to Jackson Bottoms Wetlands Wildlife Preserve followed by visit to a Bison Ranch.

Our little bus and driver.

Our little bus and driver.

It’s good to see that seniors, no matter our physical limitations, have not given up on experiencing life. Some of us were in only slightly better shape and health than others but we each enjoyed something of the day.

Several were hanging back from the wind and chill

Several were hanging back from the wind and chill

I would never know about these places nor get to see them other than going with our little shuttle bus from the Senior Center. Getting to know more of my community is important to me since I’m not native to the area. We always have a stop for lunch and it’s a good chance to visit with people I would not otherwise meet.

There have been several trips I have not had time to write about yet but we’ll catch up soon, I hope. This trip was extra interesting as I love all animals but Bison are almost like dinosaurs. They have been walking this earth about that long and have adapted to their environment since then. According to our hostess, the Bison has reduced its size as its environment reduced. These animals were stunning to see but we were kept at a good distance. They are not cuddly animals that allow petting. They can be quite dangerous if you get to close and especially in calf season. Bison herds will surround the calves until they are mature. Our hostess had a large number of stitches in her leg to prove it.

Bits of bright but no fuzzies or flutterbys

Bits of bright but no fuzzies or flutterbys

Our hostess had so much to say about the Bison that I just couldn’t remember everything. Next time, I’ll bring a notebook or a tape recorder.

Another pretty find on mt walk around the preserve.

Another pretty find on mt walk around the preserve.

These were raised primarily for their meat which is supposed to be more nutritious than beef. Also because of the limited availability, more expensive. But they are majestic animals and it’s sad to see them dwindling because there is no room for them to roam. Boy, do I know how they feel. Those big guys have knocked down every tree in their enclosure scratching against them. That’s some muscle

For a number of years there were Bison on a ranch near my home in the mountains of Arizona. They were a gimmick to bring attention to new summer homes for Phoenix/Tucson snowbirds. By the time I moved away, the Bison were gone too. Not sure why. Maybe they went in search of greener pastures. There numbers are finally coming back up but who knows for how long.

bison close

What animals do you find fascinating in our ever declining animal world? Any interesting field trips on your list?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

You have my apologies. “What for, you ask?” I can’t seem to find the grinder that has ground my work here to a halt. What does it look like and where is it hiding?

Is the grinder in this load of laundry waiting to be finished?

Is the grinder in this load of laundry waiting to be finished?

In trying to keep up with blogs I follow, I am sadly ground down as well. I’m outnumbered and you have so many wonderful posts I want to read. Nothing else is getting done. My energy has waned and the cogs in my brain are slipping.

Is it in the pile of laundry waiting?

Is it in the pile of laundry waiting?

You’ll usually find me spinning in circles trying to figure out what needs to be done next. There are four quilt tops on my machine in different states of readiness for me to sandwich and quilt. No small task in there. Yesterday, I tried to seal the wood on a plant pot holder I had out front last summer to gray the wood. I dumped an entire can of sealer on the porch when I lost my balance trying to move it. Fortunately, I managed to contain the spill enough to finish the job.

Room is smaller than the work to do in it. Could the grinder be in there?

Room is smaller than the work to do in it. Could the grinder be in there?

My daughter needed my help with her move and that has taken more chunks of time. Friendships need nurturing and groups for handwork and quilting are vital to my mental health. It all takes time and energy.

Helping my daughter with the move. Several days of packing here.

Helping my daughter with the move. Several days of packing here.

There are things I want to write about, but don’t, so I write nothing. There is a battle waging internally about what should be done about this.

Could the grinder be in this box of photos to be gone through?

Could the grinder be in this box of photos to be gone through?

Of the 250 people who follow my blog, the most that read it are less than 30. I follow less than 50 because I want to read the blogs I follow. They have become very dear to me and it would be like losing friends. I cannot bear to part with friends.

Could all these books waiting to be read be hiding the grinder?

Could all these books waiting to be read be hiding the grinder?

Maybe the grinder is hiding here in all the yard work waiting for me to do.

Maybe the grinder is hiding here in all the yard work waiting for me to do.

Where do I need to go to find that grinder? How do you manage not to come to a grinding halt?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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