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Archive for the ‘My thoughts about things’ Category

A Short Long Story

I’ve been ruminating on how best to write a sad story where no one ends up feeling sad. My goal in life has always been to look for the silver lining in every event no matter how challenging. Challenges follow all people throughout their lives. The Golden Years are no exception and not always as golden as one would hope.

The sun keeps rising no matter what else is going on.

If one looks at the challenges that are in front of them honestly, one will always see there was probably some part they played in creating the challenge. That’s where I’m standing now. I take full responsibility for the challenges that are now ahead of me and will find the silver lining in them.

There are decisions ahead that I really am not looking forward to making. The ruminating on the best course of action is one that so many have made. I’m not unique here. I just need to keep pressing in a forward motion.

I’ve made 8 so far with material to make more. I wish I sewed faster

A week ago, my last husband passed away after a long and hard illness. He had just had his 79th birthday and I have not seen or spoken to him in the last 5 years. Though I had hoped we could remain on friendly terms, his adult children had other plans. I have missed him even though I knew the choice I made was the best one for everyone concerned. He is now no longer in distress or discomfort and I have never wished him anything but good. This is where I keep the long story short.

There are often rainbows before and after storms

I am now faced with a significant reduction in income that I found out last year was going to happen. Trying to ready myself for it did not happen fast enough. I think it’s been boiling in the back of my mind for months but I couldn’t figure out a good plan. Denial only works so long.

 

As I talk to other women my age who are living on their own quite happily, I find many are also trying to keep their heads above water in so many ways. While speaking with a neighbor about the possibilities of employment, she offered some insight as well as admitted that she would never be able to stop working even though she is well past retirement age as am I.

It’s not a comfortable place to find oneself. I saw my own mother outlive her money after my father died. Like I said, I am not unique here. I’m trying to bring in a little light to a subject that I think needs attention as well as explain my distraction and absence. It’s life in session and I’m in class. Lesson learned and more to come.

You can almost see where the bottom of the rainbow landed

Do you have a little light?

 “She must protect herself. There would be no one to do it for her. A plan started to prick up its ears inside her, slowly, but getting stronger.”
~ Catherynne M. Valente, “The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There”

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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What Spring?

It’s here, technically. Too warm to snow must mean spring. April showers and all that stuff. Well, we have had plenty of those. We had our wettest March on record and April has been no slouch. Our flowering trees didn’t.

Add high winds to that rain and you have a disaster in the making. My neighbor directly across from me has lost a major portion of her back yard and the two on either side of her have lost quite a bit as well. When I finally got a look at it, I was thinking a moving truck was in order immediately. Somehow, everyone there seems comfortable sleeping at night. The management, landscape and work crews from the park as well as the owner are here almost every day to check and see if anything has changed. There are no trespassing signs up and plastic fencing to keep everyone away. I didn’t get a photo being too stunned by what I saw. The buck is being passed around quite liberally.

High winds took down the fountain and brought someones metal roofing into my yard.

Two doors down from the major portion of the slide I noticed a rather tall tree that I don’t think had been leaning before taking direct aim at the house where an infirmed woman lives with her grandson. I was concerned. So I did what I could. I talked to the neighbor that knows everyone and everything. She said she would mention it to one of the work crew. I watched the tree as our April winds picked up and lo and behold, there was the entire entourage from park owner, management and crew watching as a professional outfit dressed to tackle the job. I have to admit, I got very little done that day other than watching the process. An old friend’s words came back to me as I watched, “You can’t beat a man at his own game.” The professional tree trimmer made short, safe work of the project.

My friend, Emily was coming over to organize fabric with me and I had to admit to my preoccupation with watching the poor tree come down. I hate to see trees get cut but this one had clearly lost its footing and was possibly going to hurt several people.

This week was a bit more productive. My friend, Sabine brought me a Forsythia bush she had started from one of hers and some ground cover. It took all day for me to carry buckets of heavy, wet clay out of a hole to the top of the terraces so I could plant the shrub. I got my exercise that day. The ground is a soggy mess with no drainage. I’ve added amendments and quality soil to give it a good start. The climbing rose bushes I dug out by the front steps last fall have oddly survive the serious neglect they got before going into more of that miserable clay in the back. The two lower terraces have been weeded, and hydrangea’s trimmed up.

 

In between my naps, visits with friends, and some organizing, I somehow got a baby blanket made getting some of baby girl flannel out of my tubs and to good use. I also was able to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her at a new Tea Shoppe. They were very nice but the food left something to be desired. I was just happy we could spend the day together before she headed to the beach with friends.


So how is your spring shaping up? Is the cold hanging on or is it being skipped for shades of summer already?

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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A Cheerleader

Each of us has our unique gift to the world. My friend (such a nice word) Emily’s is quilting. This weekend the place in Vancouver, Washington where we go for retreats was hosting an open house. Nancy’s SewNGo was making some changes including the name, now “The Countryside Quilters” and wanted to show off the new classroom as well as give newcomers a view of the wonderful facility without charge. Since I cannot as yet drive that far on my own, our friend Patti offered a ride if I could meet her on the other side of the highway as she had a couple other quilting friends going along with her as well. I could do the 10 minute drive easy and Patti did the rest with ease. I was more than delighted to be included. (Another nice word)

On the wall at Nancy’s

 

Apparently, some of us missed the memo. Patti with white t-shirt and biggest smile.

Part of the open house was a showing of my friend Emily’s quilts. She was the featured quilter for 3 days. Emily is my neighbor and also a member of the quilt group I joined right after moving to this town. She started quilting after she retired and at 80, is a most prolific quilter. As her hands have succumbed to arthritis, she has leaned more to applique quilting. It’s her favorite way of expressing her art. She took around 70 of the quilts she had at home to be displayed. I didn’t include them all here. This does not include her Christmas quilts, the quilts she has gifted to family and friends or her many donation quilts. She and Patti regularly get together for weeks at a time somewhere away from home to quilt together and challenge themselves and each other. They are both willing to help and teach a newbie like myself in the quilting art.

Emily in the foreground

Emily was just stunned that her quilts deserved their own showing. She was just overwhelmed with emotion that she was the recipient of all those accolades. I can guarantee she deserved each and every one.
My gift in the world will probably never be quilting. I enjoy it but not as much as I love cheering about the success of someone else. To be able to write and tell you about it is the gift I have to share. I relish others success and am an avid admirer of the wonder of their gifts. Someone has to be the cheering section and I’m that person. I get so excited about the things my friends make that I almost can’t contain myself.

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I’m also not the best photographer in the world. My hands are starting to shake somewhat as I’ve noticed many of my photos too fuzzy to view. So you get to see what’s passable. We signed up for more classes at the retreat center that are just one day events. I’m so excited to get to go play again. SewNGo has their own Facebook page so you can pop over and see more wonderful photos. I borrowed a couple from Nancy that were better than mine. She won’t mind.

Taking photos with the cell phone.

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What is your unique gift in the world?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Seeing

It’s been too long but I see the light! Winter is a favorite time of year…usually. This year was long, dark and exceedingly wet. I’ve plodded along trying to summon up the energy to do things. My friend and fellow blogger at incahootswithmuddyboots.com came by to cheer me with signs of spring from her yard.

First signs of spring from my friend

The struggle with my vision has really slowed things down. I finally wised up and went back to the optometrist. My glasses that are eight months old were not working and I was scared. “Well no wonder” he says. “You’ve lost a whole diopter of vision since this last prescription.” Now I have no idea what a diopter really is even after my son explained it to me. “What caused it” I asked? He seemed to think it was because of excessive dry eye. That eye doesn’t blink as well as the other and leaks tears since the onset of Bells Palsy 7 years ago. Why am I losing so much vision now?

I bought 5 of these for my sewing group as a Christmas gift. This is mine finally finished.

The back is pink, not my favorite color but it’s cheerful.

It’s possible the C-pap machine that blows wind in my face all night might be drying out the eye if I’m not keeping it well closed in my sleep. I didn’t think that could be the answer so I made another appointment with an ophthalmologist and she verified that the eye was indeed quite healthy and quite dry.

So onto finding solutions. I put in a gel at night for better lubrication and have an eye mask to cover the eyes. My son’s ex-wife saw something online that she thought would help and I checked it out. This morning on my trip to town for lunch with friends, I stopped at the sleep study center and asked if they had it or could they get it for me. In 15 minutes, they saved me the more than $100 and handed one over after a fitting. I practically danced out of the office. No more wind in my face all night. Granted, it’s not terribly attractive but I’m hoping it fills the bill.

The wind is at the top of the head with this one.

So the second pair of glasses that were made a few weeks ago works quite well for distances but I can’t read the computer with them. Back to the old pair when I’m on the laptop. The optometrist will try to come up with another prescription that works better for both. It’s frustrating but there’s still so much I want to do, read and write. Vision seems essential to those desires.

I’ve been working on this forever it seems. Now comes the quilt around it.

In the meantime, the clutter has continued to be cleared. All of the industrial shelving from my son’s storage unit were sold and are gone from the yard. I am continuing to pare down but have found it’s a good idea to go through the boxes carefully before donation. I found a whole bundle of embroidery patterns that I bought almost 10 years ago for over $60. Everything else in the box went, the patterns are now being lined up to work.

I’ve managed to get a few other things done.

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So how are you seeing this time of year? Signs of spring or signs of autumn becoming more clear? Are you starting to perk up or wind down?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Best Valentine’s Day Ever

I know, I know, it’s over and old news. Something kept gnawing at me that I should write about it anyway. There is a lot of flak about this supposed amorous day that has turned so horribly commercial. I would grouse about its commercialism as well since I didn’t have a Valentine.

These hearts are new after Valentines day for next year. I needed more bookmarks for friends

These machine embroidered hearts were made after Valentines day for next year. A positive experiment. I needed more bookmarks for friends

I’ve been alone for many years now and I like it. When I was married, Valentine’s Day was not high on our list. We were practical people and the price of a card could go a long way to filling the gas tank or buying a few groceries. Valentine’s Day just wasn’t in the cards.

This year was different. Not because I met someone special but because my friends and I did something special. Our hand sewing group of six became five last spring when one of our members was moved to a retirement home by her daughter. She is in her late 80’s and her daughter had to move so it seemed time. The Retirement home is in downtown Portland and access for most us is difficult.

I gave Dolly a bookmark for the book she is reading. She reads, knits, and quilts.

I gave Dolly a bookmark for the book she is reading. She reads, knits, and quilts.

I got a text the night before from Emily that we were going to see Dolly the next morning for Valentine’s Day and have lunch with her. We couldn’t get there at Christmas because of the snow. Several of us carpooled with Emily to Pattie’s. Pattie drove us all downtown to see Dolly. The light in Dolly’s eyes was so bright and she was so happy to see us all that it lifted all our spirits. I can’t say that I have ever had a better Valentine’s Day in my life.

She even made little paper heart decorations that morning when she found out we were going to come.

Dolly made one for each of us. What a surprise.We wore then down to the dining room for lunch.

Dolly made one for each of us. What a surprise.We wore then down to the dining room for lunch.

We brought our hand work, enjoyed the cheerful company and had a show and tell. Making someone who doesn’t get out often so happy was the best way to spend that day and hopefully we can do it again soon.

I think this will change how I look at that date on the calendar from now on. How about you? Did you do Valentine’s Day in an unusual way? Any ideas for next year?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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A Cure for the Blahs

It’s almost the middle of February! Where the heck did the time go? And where has everyone been? Like myself, so many other bloggers that I follow have been curiously absent. After the holidays, and the push to get my place livable again, I found myself sitting in my chair in the den after waking up in the morning and staying there till it was time to feed the body. I read, watched some news, always in fast forward with the sound off until they came to something that didn’t make my blood pressure rise and then I was tired and took a nap. It was a bad routine of sitting and barely motivating myself to read much less write a post.

Maybe it was the full moon that caused the blahs?

Maybe it was the full moon that caused the blahs?

I was lucky to see it will all the cloud cover

I was lucky to see it will all the cloud cover

Research was necessary. I found my journals from previous years and discovered  there was a pattern. The after Christmas letdown. Some years it was like I had gone into hibernation. When you don’t have a job, it’s easier to do but I think the need was there even when I was working. Retirement age makes hibernation easy. It seems so many are struggling with a lethargy from the post-election time through the holiday until the first signs of spring peaks through.

A new book to cheer me on.

A new book to cheer me on.

I’ve been sending out e-mail and cards to blogging friends and other friends to check on them. I learned years ago that the quickest way to feel better was to reach out to others. Many of us get caught in a rut and don’t know which way to go next. We feel…blah.  My friend at Gardening Nirvana must have had the same idea.

Today started out slow again with good intentions. You know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell being paved with them. By mid-afternoon I forced myself out of my chair to the top of the terraces in order to bury more green waste. I had planned a walk that didn’t happen so instead I grabbed the rake and shovel. After digging two large holes and burying the green waste, I raked a great deal of the debris that had fallen from the trees in the last wind and rain and snow storms this winter. That’s pretty good exercise for me. Getting ready to invite spring. Then I noticed spring was popping up its little head. I’m thinking that spending more time out there will smack the blahs right in the tush and get me moving again.

The blueberry bush was a gift from my friend that also blogs at “incahootswithmuddyboots”

 

Are you coming out of the winter blahs or do you just power through without a problem?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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The Best Laid Plans

I’m a planner.  My son, plans very differently from me. I will ask what his plan is and he shrugs like a teenager instead of a full grown adult male. I’m sure something is working itself out in his head but I don’t see it. My plan was to have less stuff, his was to move anything that he couldn’t sell and pay less for storage.

I have plenty of  stuff and I’m working feverishly to pass most on or make use of it. We have both sold a great deal and given away more. My little corner of that storage unit is now in my house, driveway and shed along with some of his stuff. I figured I’d go through it this week as he drove his 26’ rental truck to the Northern Arizona Mountains where he has a shipping container purchased and placed conveniently and inexpensively. No more storage costs. The container can later be used for other projects.

This driveway was clear before Christmas

This driveway was clear before Christmas

The pile kept growing. We tried to sell the chain saw at the 100 degree yard sale last summer. Bargain rate if you are interested.

The pile kept growing. We tried to sell the chain saw at the 100 degree yard sale last summer. Bargain rate if you are interested.

There was a time frame to do all this as his navigator/alternate driver/friend flew in to ride back with him. It took us two days to pack the truck with some unprofessional help. A teenager thinking about the video games he was missing and a wonderful blogging friend who was a tiny force of nature. Crystal worked circles around the teenager and me. My son was methodical in a way that was testing my patience. It was cold in a way this city hasn’t seen in decades. Once it was all loaded, he began to be concerned. It fit but felt too heavy. The morning he was going to pull the truck out of the storage area, the gates froze shut and wouldn’t come open. Obviously a clear sign of things to come.

Four layers and I still got too cold when the sun started down.

Four layers and I still got too cold when the sun started down.

By 9 a.m. my son and his navigator/2nd driver managed to get the gate open by hand. The manager stood inside his office door in his long johns with his hands flapping in the air looking helpless to assist in any way. Once the gates were open, we fled after pulling them closed again.

My boxes in the back corner. Only the Holiday boxes will stay.

My boxes in the back corner. Only the Holiday boxes will stay.

Is this the end of the story? Oh, no. It took one stoplight for it to register fully that this load was not going to fly. An attempt was made to rent a tag-along trailer to distribute the load. There wasn’t one to fit the truck. Just go ahead they said at the rental place.

My wise son took the truck to our refuse and recycling center and had it weighed. 6000 pounds over is significant. So the next option was to call mom. That’s what we are for, right?

All but the tan posts go with this unit

All but the tan posts go with this unit

They spent the better part of a precious driving day, offloading his commercial steel shelving into my back yard along with anything too heavy and no longer worth the move. It would have to be sold from my place with him negotiating long distance. As they drove down the highway in the very late afternoon, I got a call that the truck was behaving nicely and all was well.

All together and full of stuff

All together and full of stuff

I wish I could say that there was rest for the weary after all this. I cleaned out the unit the next day in slightly warmer temps, loaded the third seat back into my vehicle by myself to get it out of the incoming weather and moved and sorted things to go to different places. Their truck made it into Utah and headed across to Arizona. Ahead of the weather I’ve been mentally holding back for them. I thank everyone who kept good thoughts with me for this to be a safe journey.

Cleaned out and empty. Ready for the next customer.

Cleaned out and empty. Ready for the next customer.

Anyone interested in a commercial steel shelving unit with the plywood shelves or several different weight bench thingies? I have some of my mom’s end tables that might go to the thrift store in the next load unless you want them?

P.S. They made it safely all the way. Yay!!!

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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