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Age and creativity

I am really in the sewing room this morning working on a shirt. There is just an illusion of me clacking away here at the keyboard. Wouldn’t it be nice to be in 2 or 3 places at once? I needed to write and couldn’t move until I did. Has this ever happened to you?

Finally finished and hanging in the hall.

Thursday is Knit Wit’s Day and all of us older women will gather at a table with our handwork and very loud chatter. Most of us are at some level of hearing impairment. The harder hearing one is, the louder the conversation gets.

Jan’s daughter and a knit witter holding it up

There is one that has excellent hearing and no voice range so I’m trying to watch for signs that this sweet woman wants to speak. She has a lot to say at 94 but a stroke a few years ago made that process very slow. It’s worth the wait, always. She received a scholarship to college in the 1950’s to become a physical education teacher and that’s what she did her whole career. She also raised four wonderful children, one of which brings her weekly to our group, teaches pottery at our community college and is an artist.

Jan learned to quilt at 79! She brings her knitting and embroidery to the group and occasionally, we do a show and tell as each of us women of mature years completes something.

The smallest, quietest one of the bunch. Always a smile.

Last week Jan brought in the quilt she made with a friend in her quilt group. I had been asked to make a label for that quilt the week before. What an honor for me.

Machine embroidered Krazi House Shuffle

To see a woman of 94, continue to be creative and not focus on what’s not working in her body keeps me inspired to push on. I hope each of us finds someone around that keeps moving us forward.

I also follow a blog that has taught me that you can’t begin too early bringing music and art into life. Jennie, at A Teachers Reflection, has taught preschoolers for 30 years.  She unleashes her students artistic abilities with great encouragement. There is none of the “you must color inside of the lines” in her classroom. She may have many artists and musicians in her Aqua Room that may one day make quilts at 94 or more. Her methods of teaching even inspire anyone that drops by her site or classroom. Several years ago, she brought in master quilter, Milly to bring the children’s art to life in a quilt. I wish I had been in her class.

Now a permanent display at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia

My knitting/quilting friend, Jan raised her children to be artists too. Her daughter that brings her to us teaches pottery at our community college. When I start to think that I’m just getting too old for this, I think of Jan,  Jennie and Milly and  continue to plod on.

Do you think creativity has an age limit or what keeps you inspired when you want to give up?

 “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


My Spring

I found this and it spoke to me.

This week, my spring got up and was snowed upon. Our weather can’t seem to make up its mind and neither can I. One minute I’m full of aspiration and the next I find myself looking with great longing at my bed. I’m blaming the weather and the straight line of the five planets. That has to be the reason. It can’t be procrastination, can it?

Made this years ago and it needed to come out in the hall to play

What do you do when your spring has sprung a leak? I did little things and waited it out.  This is a photo of what I woke up to this morning.


We get a clear, cold day followed by intense, high winds, more rain and then finally, hopefully, some real sun. Spring is by definition, confused. A foot in winter and one trying to remind us summer is on the way. I spent much of this month confused too. Wanting to move forward and realizing forward wasn’t ready for me yet.

A gift from my kids

My craft projects from the last two Tuesdays are still waiting to be finished. I’m trying not to see them.

I’m just not getting it done…yet

As I prepared the photos for this post, I realized how busy we have been in the last month! If I didn’t photograph everything, I would think myself a lazy slug. I’d rather be reading a book and have done that in bits and pieces too.

My last post showed a redo of sewing room and a promise of shelves minimally attached to walls. There are rules here. As promised, photos. Lots of teamwork involved.

The sewing room is in constant motion. I had a board made by my last husband almost 20 years ago that fit over the large ironing board to press large pieces of fabric. It was in dire need of new covering and padding. My son loaned me a tool that I wanted to adopt. It made my job so much easier! I’m so happy with the results. I think you can see the old cover in my last post. I also bought myself a new, cordless iron. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I do, very much.


April is knocking at the door and I have a small wall hanging cut to put up. The fabric in the panel that was cut apart turned out to be twisted and the measurements aren’t holding true so the putting together process will take a bit longer. There are only nine days till Easter but hopefully, it will read more spring than a single holiday. I have so much in the pipeline and am trying hard not to add more to the list. Helps to stay off Pinterest and the fabric sites in general. I, at least finish one thing and am almost done with another.

So as our approach to April is imminent, I’m hoping to find my spring back in my step and creativity.

I had the umbrella for years and $ store flowers . Found idea on Pinterest.

How about you? Is there a spring in your step as March has come to an abrupt end or are you still trying to bury your head under the cozy blankets?

Gift shop bucket on sale in November, thrift store gnome, add flowers and spring is here

“A woman’s dreams should exceed her grasp or what’s a craft room for?” (found on the internet, somewhere)

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself



It lasted mere moments after hours and hours of work. Then pouf, in the blink of an eye, it’s not, once again. I took pictures in that moment so we could all savor it. The next second brought more upheaval. The sewing room is only slightly caught in the fallout. A few crafts in progress on the kitchen island were taken to the sewing room until they are completed and put away.

I was happily working on projects in my nicely organized sewing room, when my DIL said she had a glass top stove for sale cheap. It was coming out of the preschool because they were getting a new one. I wanted to put it in my apartment because I had a burner that wouldn’t stay flat. I asked permission from our liaison manager. I was told if I got one, everyone else would want one. I could call the property manager and discuss it with them. No one returned my calls.

My DIL is a very good administrator and deals with bureaucracy on a daily basis. All preschools have that issue along with everything else. One phone call from her, and I was given permission to swap out their stove for the glass top.  Property management sent their worker to make sure it was properly hooked up and took my 20 yr. old stove to their warehouse. It was very clean so someone could use it right away. Now I must get busy cleaning the one freshly installed. DIL donated the old fridge to our Meals on Wheels kitchen in the senior center. Everyone was happy.

My new stove loves my color

Projects have been slow coming to completion due to many little interruptions but there has been a lot of creativity all around me. My craft group got together and painted clay pots for St. Patrick’s Day. Mine and one other were completed.

I took down Emily’s Valentine quilt and wanted to put up the first one I made in a class for beginners since it had green in it. It didn’t have a sleeve to hang it and it was years later when Emily taught me to make them. I added the sleeve last week.

Can you see butterflies machine embroidered in the 4″ squares?

There is only one other neighbor decorating for St. Pat’s Day. It was a simple store-bought thing that I would love to copy somehow. Maybe by next year. I’m excellent at borrowing ideas.

A neighbors decor

Each day is a challenge to keep things tidy and I give it my all. I just don’t think it’s the norm for me. Life is so full of fun things to do and my mind spends it’s nights conjuring up more projects. If I could find someone to come and clean for me, that would free up so many hours. Clean and tidy are two different things to me.

BTW, my son is on his way over to put up shelves over my sewing table. More moving things around. Makes me happy and more organized though.

Post-it notes that speak for me.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Smaller Bite

I haven’t been able to write lately. I had a blog written about the best movie I have seen in the last four years. Thinking about it, it’s much like recommending a book. My taste in media matter is so personal that other’s might not relate.

I bought this from my friend Emily. It keeps her close to me.

When I raved about “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, few of my acquaintances felt it was to their taste. The book was made into a Swedish movie a few years ago and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson felt it a good bet to make an American version. Hands down, he knocked it out of the park. He played Otto perfectly with an American twist on it. I was laughing and crying at the same time and so were most of others watching with me. I wanted to devote the whole post to it. Exuberance runs amok.

Makes me laugh every day.

I get excited about music, books, fabrics and so many forms of creativity. I want to share my love of those things with everyone. It often gets me into trouble. I lose focus with my finger in too many pies.

It got deeper by morning

Finally realizing that I was deep in overwhelm once again, I gutted my sewing room. I had crafts and painting books in there too. It’s next to impossible to think, much less create with so many distractions. To top it off, I get tired much more quickly.

I have two weekly groups for different crafts and a monthly group that volunteers to help a woman who is creating little paper gifts to go on the lunch trays for Meals on Wheels, Veterans and several other organizations. We work assembly line style to get the several hundred little things made in an hour or so.

My own personal crafts get started but not always finished on time. I cleaned off the island in the kitchen only to pile my crafts on there and try to get them done.

I got these done in plenty of time

I pulled out 2/3 of my painting books, more fabrics and unused journals that I have written only a few pages in for removal from my space. I made gifts of some small, still new journals that I know will never be used by me. How does a person write when the mind is so cluttered.

I’ve made enough progress in there that I should be done tomorrow with a full, uninterrupted day to get the last bit done.

No TV for my neighbor

I’ve come to realize I’m a person who takes on too big of a bite of life and then has trouble swallowing it all. While cleaning the sewing room, this card kept falling down off the wall. Three times I taped it back to the wall. I finally opened it up to read inside it.

I kept this in the sewing room.

Synchronicity smacked me right between the eyes. My stories for my kids have been on hold for far too long. That little card told me out loud that my priorities are out of order. It’s not staying in the sewing room anymore. I’m taping it up over my bed so I’ll see it morning and night. Thank you, my friend for the card and the constant reminder. I don’t know how long I’ve had the card since there is no date in it but the timing for the reminder is perfect.

The note inside was a wake up call.

I won’t be here as often so I can focus on the things that need to be done ASAP. I’m a major procrastinator so I want to curb that immediately. You can laugh now.

Do you take life in big bites or small bites?

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~  Charles W. Eliot


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Bright Lights

I’ve been a little under the weather for the second time in the last four months, so that meant I had to postpone all the chores on the list, just sitting with my computer in bed until even there, fatigue and coughing won out. I tend to wear myself out with the holiday that I love so much. I almost get it all up when it’s time to take it all back down. I do not like the last part.

Gracie is done with Christmas too.

The part of the Christmas holiday that I like most of all is the lights. It was fun to see all the Christmas decoration I kept after a deep purge two years ago. I knew my next place would have limited space, I just never expected it to be quite so limited. There was almost not enough room for the small table top tree my DIL found at the thrift store. The  LED lights on the tree also brightened my spirits and I didn’t have to turn them off. I was the only person in the courtyard area to have outside lights thanks to my genius kids. I think I mentioned they put the outside lights up with paperclips to protect the siding. The lights are Christmas for me.

It was still snowing

It was still snowing

One evening before Christmas, my son called to see if I wanted to see the lights the cities put up and some of the homes that they found extra delightful. Our cities are very small. I wasn’t expecting much from these communities. What a surprise I was in for when the kids drove me all the way up the mountain (heading south) to the smaller town to find one whole street lit up in a way I have never seen other than on TV.

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In the darkest hours of December, there were so many lights, moving parts and synchronized music that it was like a fairy land. My DIL drove with me up front for a clear view and my son walking ahead to get more clear photos. The lights, action and music brought out the child in each of us hoping to capture the feeling and hold onto it for another year.

The news of these lights got around quickly. My 87-year-old neighbor, Everett had seen these displays a week earlier. He spoke of them with great exuberance. You are never too old to feel that childlike wonder. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to get out there. We drove quite awhile to every area that had gave their best shot at cheering their community up with the lights.

By this time my tree is down (not yet put away) and the lights had been turned off on the porch when another neighbor lamented that she missed them so much on my porch. I did too; so in the evening hours, I’ve turned them back on to give us here a slight lift as we go through the shift to more daylight. Now that I’m feeling so much better, the rest of the holiday decor will be placed back in its respective container before the next snow comes in and makes it impossible to get it to the rented storage space.

It looks like lace

The last thing to go in a box will be the Christmas gnome the kids painted for me with lights. It’s been on every night on the kitchen island. It will be sorely missed.

What are you missing most now that holidays are gone?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Creative Adjusting

I’m facing another different Christmas. So many here in my apartment building for 55 and over have limited access to family and this is the time of year where it’s most noticeable. I’ve witnessed so many pull from the depth of themselves to be creative in their ways of celebrating this holiday. Many can speak of enduring traditions that have survived generations, when all of a sudden there are divorces, deaths, illnesses and other adjustments to life and the holidays in particular.

My birdhouse dangling is our snowy courtyard

Adjustment is also a form of creativity. How well we adjust to the size and style of our homes, family, country or condition says a lot about how creative we are. The kind of gifts we give or want is also a completely creative thought. “I need nothing this year” I said to my son. That I have Christmas this year is the gift itself.

I’ve put up a tiny 4’ tree on my cutting table with tiny ornaments gifted to me by a neighbor since I had already given all of mine away. It’s like a giant shuffle of stuff. My kids put up a few lights around my courtyard porch with paperclips to be gentle with the siding.

I helped decorate one of the entry lobby trees putting one of my many Angels on top. I’m so glad someone invented LED lights so I can leave mine on all the time. On occasion, the elf in me slips out the door when no one is about and makes changes to the trees. Wrapped empty packages appear along with new decorations.

I love seeing how others decorate and adjust to their space and lifestyle. Many are in poor health so they can do almost nothing to decorate their own space, so the manager decorates the halls with what has been collected over the years. Some, like me, decorate our entry areas. I photographed as many as I found done in the halls.

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Christmas means different things to different people. Some choose not to celebrate in any way. I think of it as a time to celebrate life. When I bake or make gifts, I’m celebrating all of life’s joys. I want to gift a little joy and lightness of being in the ever-changing world that requires adaptability at every turn.

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I’m going to be unlocking the outside perimeter doors to our buildings and plugging in the two lobby trees as I go each morning at 6:00 a.m. I volunteered since I’m always up anyway and the person that had been doing it quit. I’m going to sneak a bag of candy into Everett’s candy bucket on my way. He had mentioned at the Saturday morning coffee last week that he didn’t have so much as a Charlie Brown tree in his house. Becky, our “manager” said she could fix that, taking off for a few minutes. When she returned and presented him with this fun decoration, we all had a good laugh.

Everett’s Charlie Brown tree

Another wife is way down on his bucket list

Another neighbor, Vicki leaves her tree up all year. There is nowhere here to store anything. It’s a full-sized tree taking up a great deal of space in her tiny living room but the lights make her happy all year. She has found so many ways to be creative and we convinced her to put much outside her door for us to enjoy during the holidays. I would leave mine up but I need the cutting table for quilting.

Vicki loves cross stitching santas

Liz made this from her jewelry collection

Vicki’s cross stitch on paper

Have you had to adjust your creative habits and holiday traditions?

 “Creativity requires courage to let go of certainty.” ~ Erich Fromm

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


I am not a fan of secrets. They can be very destructive. I do think we all keep secret; often about ourselves. In truth, very little can be kept hidden for long. There are plenty of novels based on that fact.

Thanks for visiting here

We kept a small secret for a couple of months here and it was very hard for me to do it. When you tell your secret to anyone else, and of course it often has to be shared, you risk the chance of it slipping out accidentally. Sometimes, you need an accomplice to be complicit in the secret to achieve your goal.

Peggy’s door wreath

When I was in Portland with my daughter last month, we were chatting about the holidays and birthdays. She has a big one coming up next year and her brother had a significant one coming up around Thanksgiving. Because he is a VERY private person, I’ll try to be mindful of details. We agreed that Christmas was not the time to travel to our mountain area as weather can be unpredictable. My daughter wanted to surprise her brother by flying up for the Thanksgiving holiday and his birthday. I had to share the secret with the cooks so they had an accurate head count.

Peggy’s wall hanging

There was a small Thanksgiving lunch at the Senior Center that was free to all that signed up. Even our families were allowed to participate. I signed up four of us but told my son we were just three attending the noon group so his wife could attend. The plan was to have my daughter slip out and be seated at our table and have him see her there. He walked right passed her as we went to sign in. He said there were three of us to the person in charge and she looked at her list. It said four. That took a bit of fancy dancing for a moment but I came back later to make sure we had the numbers right for her records.

The holidays are full of secrets so we can have surprises. We do it every year to some extent. It was definitely a surprise for my son. He had asked weeks earlier if there was a chance his sister would fly out for Christmas. I could honestly answer that the was not a chance of that happening. I didn’t have to lie, just avoid the whole truth. I didn’t get pictures so I’m sharing photos of my neighbor’s Thanksgiving decor with you instead. She really does the holidays up in style, also my depth of gratitude, mostly for my family.

Found on the internet somewhere. Books bind my family too.

The end of autumn is here and we are in full swing of secret season. Secrets take a lot of energy but the end result can be good or not so good.

What is your take on secrets and surprises.

There are no secrets that time does not reveal. ~Jean Racine

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

My Wildest Dream

Have you had dreams for your life that you thought would be so wonderful to accomplish? Sometimes, they stay dreams because you just don’t believe they can become real. I had several of those dreams. I wanted to teach when I was very young and set up classrooms for my siblings and the neighbor children. Later in life, when books became available and my best friends, I thought that maybe I could share what I had learned from life by writing my own books. Since classes were rarely available, I tried to teach myself as I had with most things in my life.

Part of my how to write books

More of my how to write books

A few months ago, I was pushed way out of my comfort zone by a very sweet and long-time friend. We had not seen each other in almost 15 years but Sharyn has been a quiet reader of my blog for many years. Sharyn was teaching Feng Shui here in the Arizona White Mountains where she and her husband owned a couple of theaters and raised their children.  She’s an adorable, high energy, butterfly of a human.

One of Sharyn’s books on Feng Shui

A woman of many talents, Sharyn decided to collect stories from many women and some men sharing their wisdom from a long life. One day, Sharyn gave me a call asking me to write a story for a second anthology she was putting together. I laughed.  She sent me a copy of the first anthology so I could get a better feel for what she wanted from me. Again, I laughed and said I wasn’t qualified to be included with these well-educated and accomplished women. She called again to convince me that I was indeed proficient enough to do this and sent me the requirements.

Flowers from Sharyn

So, I wrote, and rewrote several times. I was then instructed to send my story to her editor for final review. Every day, I expected someone involved with the publishing of this book to say my story was not what they were looking for and thank you for trying.

Somehow, that didn’t happen. Sharyn let me know the final publication date of 11/11/22 was set. There was a link that day for the Kindle version of the book and I downloaded it and today the hard copy comes out on Amazon. I bought several copies to be gifted to the few who have supported my dream to write.

The first anthology.

I’ve had a hard time telling anyone about it. It didn’t seem like something that could be real for me. I write a blog post once in a while to a small group of wonderful followers. I’m not college educated with writing credits ANYWHERE. I just write because the need is in me to do so. Now, I can truthfully say out loud, I’m a writer. I have a published story?! Dreams do come true.

Out today with my little part in it.

It’s real

Have you ever had a wild dream come true for you?

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Bit of Halloween

Today is my 11th blogging anniversary. I was bedridden for the most part 11 years ago with the most debilitating case of Bells Palsy I’ve ever heard of from anywhere. I started posting here to see if I could find anyone else that had experience anything similar.

11 Year Anniversary Achievement

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You registered on WordPress.com 11 years ago.

That Halloween as my grown son and daughter finished decorating and passing out candy, I was here, looking for anyone who, like me, didn’t need a mask to scare the kids. Thankfully, after a few years of help and exercises, it’s not so noticeable or scary.

My Austere halls

Halloween has different significance to different people. We just celebrated a friends Halloween birthday in a small at home gathering. I made a little mug rug for her.

Halloween is also the day in 1999 that my dad chose to make his transition. A day no one would forget.

When I owned my manufactured home, we rarely got a child trick or treating. We were too far down the hill and I was the only one handing out candy. I blamed my weight gain on them. It worked for a while. The bucket full sat there for weeks as I whittled it down.

Candy keeps disappearing. We have gremlins

This year, I put out some of my candy into a small dish on the baker’s rack on Friday. Each night I would put a bit more in as the supply dwindled. Last night I came home from the birthday celebration and saw my dish was almost empty! I peeked through the door early one morning after hearing a noise at the door and saw my neighbor who swears he doesn’t eat sweets, stuff his pockets. I laughed quietly to myself. I know he has help from somewhere but I’m so happy to see that passers by are enjoying a little treat and at the end of the day, I’m absolutely certain, there will not be one piece of candy left for me to indulge in. Thank goodness.

Potted pumkin

My little witcu

Killer dust bunnies. Do they scare you?

My home sweet home

There are a few others that have done a bit of decorating for this holiday but I think one neighbor takes the prize. Peggy goes all out with every season change.

I’ve put the wall hanging that was in my front window in Oregon each year in the hallway to add a little color. My son said he loves to come in the outside doors and see it. It brightens up the place. Wish I could sew faster so I could cover all the walls.

My hall wall hanging

Halloween started for me in Milwaukie, OR when my blogging friend Crystal  and I went to dinner. Main street had quite the display that looked like a scarecrow contest. Even the tombs were so cute. I met Crystal when we both lived in the Portland area and we have been good friends since.

Crystal isn’t a real scarecrow

The day my daughter and I went to the beach, we found an interesting shop that intrigued us. It had quite the eclectic gothic feel and the owner gave permission to take photos. It got us quite in the mood for this haunted holiday.

Do these photos put you in the mood for haunting and do you still decorate or have you given up on Halloween?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Ten Days

Over two weeks gone in a flash. When you realize it’s time you will never get back, it makes you want to pay close attention to how you spend it. As far as I can tell, not one minute was wasted.


I can tell you right now that my brain hasn’t fully returned from this trip but some days, I think it’s been on permanent hiatus so, nothing new there. We ran at full speed after landing in Portland, catching my first meal of the day around 2:00 pm. That set the tone for the rest of my visit.

Willamette River from my daughter’s balcony

My friend Patti hosted me as my daughter’s second bedroom is a painting room. I got the sofa on the nights I stayed there. This allowed another good look at Patti’s sewing studio. It occupies her entire basement with eye candy at every turn. I’m green with envy in some ways but know I’m not as fast or good at the game to accomplish what she does. She found a couple pieces of fabric that will work for a couple of my projects. It’s like shopping without money in Patti’s Playland.

Perfect stitches, every one.

Midweek, I went with her to see a couple other members of Arlene’s sewing group I had attended until moving away. One of my projects was a gift Arlene had brought to me here in my little town. They were only here a few hours but I made Matzo Ball soup for her and hubby so they didn’t have to drive anymore. A Christmas wall hanging has moved onto the list.

Beautiful quilts everywhere in Patti’s Playland

My friend Emily’s new quilt. She always inspires me too.

My first couple of days in Portland were about completing my list of things to get done. Shoe shopping happened with two new pair. My daughter drove us to Craft Warehouse; a favorite of all craft stores for me after we had a grand breakfast at Elmer’s. I got 10,000 steps that day so I could indulge. Craft Warehouse is a place to be inspired, then followed by some grocery shopping and on to my old neighborhood to see my place looking as lovely as ever.

We had two days at the beach and a good long walk on it along with long walks in the shopping districts. I found some unusual items that ended up in my bag. Please remember, I haven’t been shopping since last February except for staples. It was going to be my last hurrah.

I had lots of lunches with my sister, niece and friends and we had meals in places we had never been before. Good finds, all of them. There was lunch and cake at Papa Haydn’s. They dressed the Bocconi Dolce up just for me. A month late but better than never. Leftovers came from every meal.

By the time I headed home, I was staggering from fatigue and stopped eating. I came home five pounds less than when I left. I’d overdone it but there was more on the list. My dad’s cousin Virgie is 89, lives in Phoenix, smart and spry and had a lot of genealogy information for me. We exchanged quite a bit with a promise to return soon.

A new big shirt waiting to be made now

Finally on my way to see the friend that got me hooked on machine embroidery. Her work is always stunning and prolific. She gifted my DIL and I with what she called little things. Also, some scraps. I was in heaven. I am also once more home filled with inspiration. Now that I have had a week to recover, I’ll start putting some of that inspiration from all my friends into action.

Do you need vacations after your vacations?

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” ~Unknown


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself