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On My Oct. Walks

 

Ten Chicken Soup books are on their way out.

Another month more than half gone. Time is in super speed from September through December. We’ve had some very interesting weather this month. One moment it’s nice and warm then comes the cold with near-freezing temperatures followed by massive amounts of rain and then we get a little of all of it in a week or even a day.

One thing is consistent. I walk. Five days a week I do as many miles as possible to count as exercise on my fitness tracking device. Unless I get my heart rate high enough, long enough, it won’t matter how many steps I walk. So, I have been pushing myself up hills that I didn’t think I could do anymore. My oximeter lets me know how hard I’m struggling and that I need a moment to just breathe before pressing on.

One of my hills to walk

Cold weather requires ears covered

I like to see what’s going on in my neighborhood, talking to new and familiar neighbors if they are out. I usually walk very early but sometimes the weather says I have to wait a while. I’ve also found that on cold days, a lot of people use their fireplaces to warm up. I have to dress differently on those days. While I love a warm fire, it’s no longer a good idea for my lungs.

Can you see the smoke in the air?

Since I have the option unlike many people who are employed, I get to shop or go to public places when the number of people is minimal. Did you know many respiratory illnesses are most contagious the week before the person even knows they have it? Bronchitis is like that so I wear a mask so I don’t catch it from others. It’s not the most flattering look even if I put my earrings on to distract you.

Cold and smokey days require a mask. Yes, I’m getting a better one.

When I’m walking, I see more of my neighborhood than when I drive through it slowly. I always get some kind of show. This is a car my neighbor boy works on and rents out. It’s not popular with many of the neighbors but I figure it keeps the kids busy and out of trouble. They need something to engage their minds and hands other than their electronic devices.

I also get to look closely at landscaping, mine, and others around me. I’m done with the outside chores for now. I had to enlist my daughter this year to clean the gutters. She doesn’t even like to do dishes so it was not high on her list of fun things to do. The kids don’t want me on the ladders so I do dishes and she climbs.

Yucky job but better than dishes

I have still been purging with 4 more tubs of fabric going to various charities and many of my books heading off to the senior centers. I’m happy to have finally started some holiday gifts and quilting now that I’ve unburied my machine.

I will get it done, I will get it done. So many more to go.

Purging is messy work. I see more of the fun stuff ahead now that it’s cold and rainy again. I really do enjoy walking in the leaves and wind.

Do you enjoy autumn walks and check out your neighborhood for changes?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

My Latest Adventure

In the middle of last week, fully (almost) recovered from my birthday blowout and some intense yard overhauling, I had a chance to do something I’ve only had the opportunity to do a few times before. I met a former blogger, Jan, from https://mommermom.wordpress.com/. She is no longer blogging but we have kept in touch through email and snail mail. I received a card several weeks ago that she had a little time before her flight from Portland airport and would I be available to meet? So, of course, I rearranged an appointment to go meet her in person. She was with a friend from college meeting other friends from college so it was lively conversation.

Satiated with lunch at Beaches

We had a lovely lunch and of course, we all had lots of questions. Jan no longer has a reliable computer and felt blogging was taking too much precious time from her large family. We all know how that is with more commitments than time.

Lunch was good, conversation was better.

Jan’s friend is a retired librarian and asked why I blog. I explained why I started blogging when I became so ill that I could do little else than read or write. No television, no sewing, no driving and barely being able to ride or walk without tipping over were a fact of life for well over two years. The more I thought about it the more I realized I didn’t fully answer that question. Why do I still blog when it crosses my mind like so many other’s whose posts I enjoyed, to give it up?

My birthday t-shirt. So very true

The simple answer is in the last line of the September t-shirt I wear. I have a mouth I can’t control. I’m a blabbermouth, a storyteller, a communicator. I love to converse and I will tell you about myself to get you to tell me about you. There is a level of trust involved here and I’ve never been let down and work hard at not letting anyone else down.

Thank you, Jan.

I don’t have time to blog. I also need this community more than it needs me. As I’ve healed from one profound illness and face another, bloggers have helped sustain a positive focus. Giving this up is like cutting a main artery. Friends I have made here will always be friends in my heart. The people I meet virtually all have good hearts and are trustworthy. Getting to meet them in person is an extra bonus. So, thank you Jan, for including me in your visit to the area. You and your friend were a delight to spend time with and I felt like we had know each other for years.

Asters in full bloom

Have you had chances to meet fellow bloggers? How was your experience of it?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Why Go Back?

The last three weeks have been more than a little hectic for reasons than I can’t explain here. It started when my friend of almost 20 years finally called to let me know she was back out of the hospital again. It’s like a catastrophe cloud follows her everywhere. She went to Hawaii last year and at the end of a wonderful trip, she stepped down off the bus wrong and broke several bones in her wrist, ankle and shoulder. Just when she was finally on the mend, she would take another fall. I mentioned to my son that I would like to go see her because she sounded so disheartened, I didn’t know if she had it in her to recover one more time. My son and his wife decided to buy a plane ticket for me to go see her.

An earlier trip she made to Hawaii

I knew we would not be visiting for long periods and on seeing my friend, a one-hour visit seemed almost too long. She is in a beautiful assisted living facility with 24-hour help. It was a lovely apartment and so expensive I couldn’t even stay one month, much less the year she had been there. She had another fall the week before I got there. So, on seeing her fatigue, I said my goodbye after the hour visit and promised to stop by on my way back to the Phoenix airport.

She felt much better at our second visit. Always the smile.

Then we headed up the mountain where the rest of the visit was with my son and see what they had done to the house and the pre-school his wife owns. This was going to be an interesting trip. I left there nine years ago after becoming debilitated by an extreme case of Bells Palsy and had no desire to ever return.

Gracie making herself comfortable on the sofa bed

Gracie trying to figure out why I was there. She had plenty of staff already.

Since being diagnosed with IPF, I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the altitude of 6000-7200 ft. It was harder than expected. I was able to visit with a few other old friends and we tried some new and old favorite restaurants. They are a world apart from what I have here in Oregon.

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I thought about the home I had up in the Arizona mountains where it was often difficult to get things to grow. My son drove us by my old home and every tree I had planted there was still present and thriving. We had even gone into the forest and dug out a bundle of three tiny trees growing together that stood little chance of thriving where they grew. I didn’t want to damage any roots by separating them so they came all together. Three different conifers all growing as one tree still thriving after 19 years.

These trees were knee height when I planted them.

The house has changed, with an expensive copper roof and the little wishing well my husband  built getting one too. There were small changes like a house being built-in the empty acre directly across the drive from our house. I preferred looking at the empty lot of trees.

The new house in the lot across from my old house. Everything changes.

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The manufactured home next door that my mother had owned still had everything I planted there as well. It did my heart good to see the stand of Aspen trees, butterfly bushes, lilacs, an assortment of evergreens all still standing. It was a lot to walk away from but I could no longer manage it all in the condition I was in.

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That seems to be the case again now, so more changes are taking place. Two days after arriving home from my trip, my son and his wife arrived at my door with a borrowed pickup truck. Stay tuned.

Have you gone back to an old homestead? What feelings washed over you?

“Tears are words that need to be written.” ~Paulo Coelho

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

A Beginning


I missed Halloween. It was my 6-year blogging anniversary and I just couldn’t get caught up enough to do anything about it. So goes the story of my life.

Today is my younger sister’s birthday. She likes low-key celebrations and this year is no exception. We had breakfast yesterday at Bob’s Red Mill after I picked her up from dropping her truck off at the mechanic. Everywhere we went, we saw geese. So many geese taking a rest from their flight to warmer climates.

Too far and too many for a good shot.

They wander on the road here. Everyone stops.

Her birthday would not be something I would ordinarily write about but right now she is mostly all I write about in my personal writing. I have started to recall all the hair-raising episodes of her life and want to quickly compile them into a booklet form. This photo should tell you that as soon as she could walk she was railing at the world and grasping life with both hands loudly and with abandon.

Don’t mess with me.

This year she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. It apparently tends to run in families. Our mother had it so we know what it does. I have cut back on many of my other activities to spend more time with her and to get her stories written and pictures collected and scanned. My sister is what is referred to as a character. I’d like to share some of them with you over time.

Mom, me and sis

 

Everything is changing and everything that ends brings with it a new beginning. The leaves on the trees are changing though many haven’t quite made up their minds. Our weather has the trees so confused. The time is changing this weekend and we fall back an hour. It’s so hard to adjust. My perspective on life has changed as well. I’m examining each moment for hidden treasures.

In full splendor

Undecided about changing

On Halloween afternoon as I was trying to write this, my internet died. When I called my cable company after doing the things I should to check and see if it was something I could fix, I finally got a sweet young woman on the phone. Brianna said she would try to work her magic and see if it could be repaired from there. After several moments she came back on the line and said my modem had sent an “end of life signal”! I laughed at the irony of it. She did get it working again for the time being.

Today, a giant of a man, made his way to the den with plastic booties over his shoes and laid the modem to rest, replacing it with a newer model He was shocked I still had the old model as they had all been brought back last year. How had mine survived? I told Brianna that the gremlins finally got it. There was a lot of treasure in these moments.

Life is a little uncertain right now.

Are you seeing the treasures in the moments? Do you have “characters” in your life you like to tell stories about?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

A Bit of Fluff

I’ve been putting off writing, waiting for a more positive frame of mind. There is so much going on out there in the world and in my own little world that I just want to focus on a little bit of fluff. Fluff is such a light and happy word that you would never think it can be used any other way. That will be another story, another time. I’m an old believer that where attention goes, energy grows. I’m aiming for the positive.

During the last trip to the metaphysical bookstore my daughter and I made, she brought my attention to some bumper stickers. She does not put them on her car nor do I put them on mine. She intends to tack hers up somewhere in her cubical. I really have nowhere to hang them up where I will see them every day, but I’m working on that.

I’ll pop one in here on occasion so I don’t draw any attention to myself on the road. It’s best to blend in out there. Here, if you are offended, you just click the button to close my site.

I’d kind of like this on a t-shirt too.

I’m ruminating a great deal these days on things that are not fluffy. Mostly when I take my walks. Five days a week with a minimum of two miles each day. With good weather, uphill. Yesterday it was done early at the mall before the stores open. I then took the MAX downtown to have lunch with my sister and a friend even though it was raining out. I like to wear yellow on gorpy days.

This was purchased in 1997 for a trip to Germany. It’s held up well and cheerful.

Walking is my meditation time. Driving is when I can be seen talking out loud to no one present asking the big questions. I noticed the music in the mall could cover that same kind of out loud conversation and these days, people don’t look at you as strangely. Maybe they think I’m on a blue tooth talking to the powers that be, asking very pointed questions. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the answers to our questions came the same way? I have a lot of serious questions these days.

One of my favorite T-shirts

What do I get for answers? Sun glistening through the clouds and the drops of rain on the windows. Breaks in the rain when I had to drive or walk to the restaurant. Most don’t notice those little things. I seem to notice everything these days. Traffic was lighter than usual, making my way back and forth easier.

This was my souvenir from 2004 or 95 from a trip to Victoria BC Butterfly Garden

Despite all that struggle in the world, the sun keeps doing its thing whether we notice or not. Life for some keeps going on while for others, it comes to a grinding halt or stops suddenly. I’m going to keep looking for the sunshine between the clouds. The view is so much better.

Are you noticing any good fluff in your life right now?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Observation

I have started walking at least five days a week to get at least 7000 steps according to the fitness tracker my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day. It helps me challenge myself not to spend so much time sitting. Everything I do is sitting. Reading, writing, sewing, heck I can even garden sitting.

No photographic evidence of me sitting but I have proof my sis does.

My walk is one mile up hill and one mile down, minimum. I can add to that by wandering all the side streets. I find that this neighborhood of slightly over 500 manufactured homes has a lot of diversity. I put on headphones, not always to listen to happy, fast-moving music that gets me up the hill, but more often to just keep the wind out of my ear. After the Bells Palsy, the left ear is extremely sensitive to any wind or cool. When I don’t have music playing, I’m more prone to notice things around me so occasionally, I’ll start doing little posts about what I might find interesting on my walks.

I have become so much more observant since I started blogging and even more so since I started walking again. Now that I’m old, I notice what I didn’t have time to see before.

In this political climate, I was surprised to find this sign in a car window. Not being a political person, I didn’t fully understand it and maybe I still don’t.

It was there for a couple of days, then gone. Hmm.

The sign seemed to bother me even though I did not understand it. I guess because they used the words hates and racist in it. I’m glad the sign is gone.

Another morning I was truly surprised to see this as I rounded the corner. Looks like someone was either playing a very good prank or they were delivering a gift. That woke me up a bit.

Was this a joke?

The other side gave no clues either.

 

I like to look at landscaping as I go down each street. There are no sidewalks here. Guess they don’t encourage walking here but I do it anyway. I saw this tree and took a good look. It had a familiar feel to it.

Very large tree with familiar feathery flowers. My son is in for a huge surprise.

As I was coming a little closer to the end of my walk, I observed this tree. I studied quite intently. I’m sure the owner of the house was wondering why I kept looking at their tree. Once I was sure, I photographed it and marched on home.

This one is a little younger

Here is the photo of the tree my son planted last summer before he moved. He saw the tree in Hawaii and fell in love with it so we had to go to a nursery and find one. I thought for sure it had not survived the unusually harsh winter but here it is in all its spring glory. I don’t think we picked a good spot for this little tree. I had no idea it could get that big and he had no idea it flowered.

Are you more observant when you are walking? Do you find ways to enjoy walking?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Happy Halloweeny Anniversary

Why on earth did I pick Halloween to start a blog? Was I on a sugar rush or just enjoying the festivities of the ghoulish decorations at my son’s house while living with him.

Would you have asked her for candy?

Would you have asked her for candy?

Five years ago I was extremely debilitated by many unusual symptoms of Bells Palsy. I could no longer drive and as a passenger, I had to close my eyes, especially at night. I couldn’t sew because seeing the needle move up and down turned my brain into mush with an odd nausea. Television had its own terror. If things moved too fast on the screen, I had to close my eyes and look away. The cane is still necessary to keep me balanced and upright. The symptoms aren’t gone but they are far better.

Standing guard

Standing guard

The symptoms were a reflection of my life. Writing was all I had left to pull the terror of where I was in that moment into a cohesive plan for some kind of a future as a 62 years old freshly divorced and debilitated woman. Social Security advised I qualified for disability. I was not employable. That was scary enough.

The very act of writing helped train my damaged brain to find words again. Mimicking a stroke in many ways, this virus left my brain unable to put full sentences together without long pauses. I couldn’t find words I knew were there. Friends and family started finishing sentences for me. My writing was simpler five years ago. Gradually, I’m making progress, I hope.

This spider is tickling my nose.

This spider is tickling my nose.

In five years, I’ve found an online support community of bloggers. Who knew such a thing existed? Every time I got discouraged, there would be a comment, e-mail or even happy snail mail loaded with lovely things to cheer me on.

Corny wants a book with his treats

Corny wants a book with his treats

I scrounged together enough money after the home I shared with the last husband sold to put a down payment on a small manufactured home for myself, my books, fabric and other crafting tools. Slowly, I’m able to do little bits at a time of my cherished creative endeavors. Making this house my home has taken a lot of energy. Naps are on my daily agenda when tackling any project. It’s the brain that gets tired before the body so I’m exercising my brain as much as my body.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It's said to be glow in the dark.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It’s said to be glow in the dark.

This Halloween will be different again from the last. Aren’t they all? Not so many outside decorations as we’re having the wettest October on record and today brought high winds. Power has been intermittent. Inside, I’m ready for any brave little goblins that make it past the real bugs and spiders out there. It’s so warm, they have swarmed like an apocalyptic army. They scare me more than zombies any day.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

I’m curious to see what the next five years will unfold. Heck, I’m curious to see how today will unfold. Thank you all for being on this journey with me and cheering me on. Have a Happy Halloween with lots of sweet treats and no tricks.

No candy in this pumpkin

No candy in this pumpkin

Is there anything that scares you more than a zombie apocalypse?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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