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Archive for the ‘My thoughts about things’ Category

A Little Heart

Life has been a three-ring circus for the last month. Spending an extra amount of time getting ready for my son’s visit that was rudely interrupted by local fires and a outrageous amount of smoke was not a great way to start off my 72 year. We had some rain and then a short respite from the smoke.

It came back but not nearly as bad but enough so that outdoor activities for me were curtailed until the inversion layer lifted. In the meantime, my sister came to spend a couple of nights so my daughter could take her to a neighboring community for yet another test my sister needed to have done prior to a three day round trip to San Francisco.

Suzy Q and her very caring, competent friend made the 10-hour drive from my house to San Francisco through some more outrageous smoke to talk to a lung transplant team. Always the intrepid adventurer, my sister is taking on the possibility of getting new lungs while there is time. According to her doctors, her lungs have 6-20 months left. But she is a good candidate for new ones though only 15% of the population has her blood type and only 20% of lungs are viable. Not a lot to be optimistic about but we are giving it our best. So, you see there has been a lot occupying my mind and heart lately. It’s interesting that she spent the beginning of her years here in Oregon in the Forest Service doing a lot of back burning to stop forest fires.

This is what it took to get there and refilled to get back

I have been keeping busy all along to distract my mind from more troublesome thoughts. Perusing Pinterest one day I found something that spoke to me so deeply that I had to give it a try. Paper pieced hearts. I was told it would be too hard for me to learn but decided the struggle would be worth it. It’s my form of puzzle. The results were worth learning a new technique and I get to send out little bits of my heart.

Fabric goes on the back and you sew from the front!

I’m also going to show you what the end result looked like for the challenge we were given at my sewing/quilting group since we may not get back there again this year. I started and finished it right away but have been keeping it under wraps until our January meeting that won’t happen now.

Another challenge for my brain. Table Runner.
Back has all the colors of the front

These are the kinds of things that keep me out of bars and off the streets. Everyone has a vice and those, along with reading too many books at once and trying to get blogs read and one written are mine.

Are you finding ways to share a little bit of heart in your life?

From my heart to yours,

I’m always thinking of you

Marlene Herself

Notebooks

Happy Fall everyone. I’m so ready for it.  Time for a change. Agreed?

Cathy at nanacathy posted about her notebooks recently. That led to an online discussion when I said mine were not so pretty, mostly utilitarian. I have more notebooks in my house than dishes. She challenged me to show them. Since my children insisted they not be left for the fire to burn,  I had many in one location; the floor of the car. Do you know how heavy years of journals are?

A box of large journals and a couple of small notebooks

Some years writing was sporadic, others more consistent. I told my daughter they should just be shredded and forgotten. After all, my journals were full of frustrations about my behavior and everyone else’s in my life. When I looked back at my writing, I realized that I often complained about the same thing.  Then I realized it was finally time to make changes and the journals were for planning a new attitude. They helped me see my patterns and come up with ways to change those patterns.

I’m a person with little proper sense of time. Not like the kind where you are late for everything. I will never be late. It’s rude to think someone’s time is less valuable than your own. If you ask me when something happened in my life, I often can’t tell you. I have to look it up. Even if it was last week. Time is fluid for me so keeping it on paper helps ground me.

Cathy also keeps a daily planner. I had stopped doing that when I got a smart phone. It remembered and reminded me of everything. My grocery list went to my phone because I always lost my paper list in the store. That still holds true. When I decided to go back to see when I’d last had a haircut or a doctor’s appointment, everything but major holidays were GONE!

Now I keep a small daily planner and Cathy gave me new ways to use it. I’m making a brief note of anything I might need to remember later. It’s quicker than looking back through the journal like the day our city caught fire and we had to evacuate and another note when we were able to finally come home. It’s working out quite well and the planner takes less room to store.

Not much going on.

I have a separate small journal that is used nightly, no matter what to write what I am most grateful for that day. Just one line on a page to focus on what is really the blessing in my day. I can expound on that in the nightly dump journal which is only one page long.

Newest gratitude journal

I am still doing morning pages though sometimes it’s only one side of a notebook page. Other times it will be all three pages as I work through the days challenges and give them some order. Then I wander out for a cuppa and watch those plans go right in the bucket. It gives me something to laugh about at night.

 

Do you keep notebooks and are yours pretty or serviceable?

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open” ~ Natalie Goldberg

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Deep Breath

What I’d like right now more than anything else is to take a deep breath and read a good book. Seems like life has other ideas. A deep breath is not a good idea and though I have a good book, several in fact at hand to read; life has decided to write one all over me this month.

Birthday flowers from friend and fellow blogger. Thank you again.

I don’t quite know where to start and may end up backtracking if I lose my way here. I managed to have another birthday. Not normally anything to make a fuss over but I don’t take birthdays for granted anymore. My son and his lady made it a point to be here this year in spite of Covid. The kids (yes, they are kids to me) know that life holds no guarantees.

Boccone Dolche to share gift from my daughter and lunch for all.

A very dear blogging friend and artist passed to the next level of life on her 71st birthday. Blogger and friend Alys at Gardening Nirvana wrote a most beautiful tribute that I wouldn’t even try to surpass here. Pauline was more than a friend I’ve never met, she was a mentor and adviser during the most trying of life’s challenges. I will never stop missing her presence here but know she is still with me when I call to her.

Pauline and Siddy

Before the kids arrived, I was working fast and furious to get my home inspection ready. Inspections may take a bit longer to get done right now but other than cleaning up the debris from high winds and ash, the house is quite ready. The winds came up on Labor day and forced me to take down the flag put up at sunrise early. Right after taking it down, the power went out until the next afternoon. So no AC or fans and the windows shut tight against the blowing dust and debris, we munched on anything not in the fridge or freezer. Wonderful workers finally found the problem the next afternoon.

Quiet time hard chores

Pressure washing can be fun until the next day.

I’d sanded and repainted the front porch steps and started on the back. My daughter and I teamed up this year to run the pressure washer on the steps, deck and driveway. She thinks it’s a lot of fun but her whole body hurt for days after.

While the kids were here, they completed a project I’ve wanted done since moving into my place; painting the underside of my carport. I had the carport re-roofed but signs of the leaks were still visible. It was back breaking work but they did the job with a loaned paint sprayer in one day. I was almost some help.

My daughter and I are at an airport motel right now. We all shared a room so the kids could catch an early morning flight home after their birthday visit with me. It seemed the wisest place to set up camp and wait. Going home wasn’t a sensible option. We left our house at 4:00 pm and it took us 3 ½ hours to drive the 20 miles to the airport. Our entire area was at a stage 2 evacuation with fire slowly encroaching. The worst part is air quality. You can’t take a deep breath because right now it’s at a hazardous level. The airport hotel is in no danger of fire but the air quality isn’t better. I’m to stay indoors, not exert myself and not breathe deeply.

We are not alone. There are THOUSANDS out here with us wondering what will happen next. I’m confident that the fire will eventually get pushed back and under control but my heart aches for the many who have lost everything with fires up and down the entire west coast. Keep good thoughts for all of them, please.

View from my porch

Flat scary skies

In the meantime, I’m going to find the books I packed from my waiting to be read stack and get started on one. I have some hand embroidery to do while I listen to an audible book as well.

Are you able and getting time to take a deep breath?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Right Book

Happy Book Lover’s Day, Everyone. I wrote this post a couple of days ago but it sat here waiting for…something. Now I know what it was. Book lovers day.

Very old bunny with old books in old ladies house.

We had blessed rain for the first time in over a month. It wasn’t very much but I went on my front porch to observe and express my gratitude. There would be no walk that morning (maybe later) so I had a few moments before my daughter got up to make her breakfast, read our lesson from Pam Grouts version of the Course in Miracles to grab the original version and read it from there. The original is a hard slog to comprehend but I like to compare the points of view.

While I was pulling the book off the shelf, I noticed another that seemed out of place. It looked unread. Hmmm. I pulled it off the shelf and saw that it was a small Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Where did that come from and when did I buy it? Inside the cover said it was copyrighted in 2012. It appeared to not have been read. As I looked through the table of contents, I realized that I needed this book NOW. It was meant for me to read it at this time.

I think I planned to donate it so it hid.

This happens to me a lot. I will peruse the bookstore and a book will stand out, sending a signal that it needs to go home with me. Some of you will understand this and those who don’t will know my varied therapist has verified that I’m not certifiable. Books call to me and often I don’t get to them right away but when the time comes, they wave again or jump to a different place so I notice them.

Our public library has been closed for months now so I’m grateful to have a stash of my own, no longer needing to apologize for hoarding books. That was the plan all along. Right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Our library doesn’t have all the books I want to read most of the time and I’m a very slow reader. I usually have to renew the book or pay fines. My library at home is substantial and when the moment it right, the book appears.

I have given away so much of my personal library because I needed to make room in my home for other family members to shoehorn their things in while living with me. I love my family but I miss those books. Looking for one I know was on my shelves a year ago and not finding when I wanted to read it made me realize that very few will wander out of my door again. People ask what was my favorite book. I honestly can’t answer that question. Each has value in its own time. Some have resonated so deeply that I purchased two or three copies.

P. S. I found a red dot on the spine while I was reading this Chicken Soup book that I place on some of my books to indicate they have been read. Another blessing of old age. I can read an old book and it’s brand new to me again. 

During one of my many moves, I gave away my copy of Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom. I regret it every time I see the title. It’s a staple reference book. Silly me. I think I’ll get another copy gently used.

Some books are worth reading often. This is one.

‘A house without books is like a room without windows’ ~Horace Mann

Do you keep a stash of books for emergencies like pandemics or rely on your library?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Answer

I’m always in search of the answer to so many questions in life but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to give up blogging. I made lots of excuses.

It takes so much of my time and energy was a big one. Summer is so full of other chores that each summer I struggle to find presence of mind to write intelligently.

Remember this mystery plant?

Surprise! Mystery Potatoes.

Right after my last post in June, my heat pump stopped working. It didn’t make a sound. Just died a quick silent death. I have insurance on my appliances which saved me a great deal in the end but the time line was three weeks long and we had to tough out an excessively hot week. It took two different service men to find the problem. I was a puddle in the floor unable to think or do. At first, I thought it was just the heat that was slowing me down.

Yesterday I received a card from a former blogger. We have kept in touch and even met once. Jan from momermom said someone she knew passed on the phrase “Covid Fatigue” that really resonated with both of us. I’m not sure where it came from but after almost four months of home quarantine, I found myself unable to sustain the desire to sew, write, or do basic chores.

A tired neighbor’s car. She’s obviously a nurse

We worry about every exposure and at night, sleep is fitful and brief. We can’t plan anything or hang out with friends unless it’s just a few and we’ve taken “precautions.” Everyone is trying to find ways to stay upbeat, but the fact is, it’s taking its toll on us.

I was going to put just these 8 in a wall hanging. Have been persuaded to do a 9th.

I  recently had a nice call from another friend. Linne who blogged at A  Random Harvest and she spoke to this feeling as well with ideas and encouragement. Today I read another post from Sarah at Art Expedition  that addressed how she was handling the stress of this same issue. Another blogging friend, Sue at Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary has also found this to be relevant. She’s offered much encouragement.  Most of us are using as much humor as we can muster. I’ve read through book six in my cozy mystery series that was a mix of mystery, quilting and flat funny, devouring them like they were cookies. Well, yes, I’ve been devouring cookies too. Sarah has nothing on me there.

Albizia and hydrangea need trimming.

This weekend my daughter found one of our local breakfast places was doing take out so on our way home from grocery shopping, we ordered over the phone and picked up something different than we have been eating for the last four months. A simple pleasure but it helped. I’m still not getting a whole lot of sewing projects done but the work outside is coming along nicely and everything should be ready for the four-point inspection on each house in a few weeks. That adds a bunch of stress though now that the heat is back to normal hot, I think it will go well.

Since I realize now that I’m not just being lazy and this fatigue is something so many are experiencing, I’m relaxing a bit more between pushes to get it all done in time. Now to see if we can get the stubborn pressure washer started without pulling out my shoulder.

Tiny new hydrangea variety.

Are you itching to go play with your friends on your regular playgrounds?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

ISO Intelligent Conversation

I’m letting it all hang out here today. I’m normally an optimistic person but this Covid crap has been pushing my optimism to its last edge. Thank goodness for my monthly therapy appointment. This wonderful woman gets paid a little bit to help me live a full life as I face my mortality. I can’t afford to slide into the well of hopelessness.

It starts out with white blooms and by summers end they are purple.

The first thing I did was bring her a present to make her laugh. It worked. She has the best laugh I’ve ever heard and it makes me so happy to make someone laugh. She got the joke and her laugh filled the near empty building. I ordered this after the TP crisis.

I brought her one roll of this.

After that I unloaded my bag of frustrations.

I’ve been locked away far too long for this extroverted introvert. I love people and there have been so few around during this sheltering in place isolation. I struggled to make myself write, sew, garden or much of anything. Turns out it’s not the best time to be on a rigid diet either.

Book one of this series. I’ve read through book four. I can’t put them down.

I did finish four cozy mysteries in two weeks time.  Doc said many of her clients were feeling the same. I explained that one of my friends had become so lonely she was talking to Alexa on a daily basis. She would ask Alexa questions and wait for answers. Quite the learning experience. I don’t have an Alexa so we came up with other ideas to help me snap out of my funk.

Can anyone tell me what I’m growing here?

First, she had me mask and glove up and head for the bookstore. My daughter freaked out at the idea. I took all possible precautions.  The mall and bookstore echoed hollow. So few were there. Walking it helped anyway. Then it was suggested I write a post about it as so many others were struggling with this as well. Another block overcome.  Though my daughter is living with me, she’s a hermit so I’m still mostly alone.

I have been In Search Of so many things on my blog. Finding people that I can talk to about the bigger picture in life is at the top of my list. Without outside relationships, we can lose inspiration and feedback. I have acquaintances I can talk about some things but not have those deeper more serious conversations.

My daughter finished this. Her philosophy.

Good conversations were hard to find before we were in lockdown, now they are even more difficult. How many people are excited to talk about quantum physics or secular spirituality?

Love in the mist playing with the oregano and thyme.

I have a new 25 year old neighbor renting the place next door from her uncle. She’s still in college to become a practicing behavioral therapist for autistic children. I’ve warned her she will be asked a zillion questions and she’s willing to answer in exchange for gardening tips. It’s a start and I am willing to learn from others while I share over the fence what I’ve learned in life. I keep walking the neighborhood and talking to anyone in hopes of expanding my bubble about life.

My wonky Dogwood bloomed later than all the rest in the neighborhood.

Are you finding intelligent, inspiring conversations while still isolating in place?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Silver Linings

A pandemic is nothing to sneeze at nor welcome. It’s been awful to watch the tragedy. The only thing we can do is help each other through it.

We need cozy now. Gracie has found my son’s quilt does the trick.

Even in this critical time where we are seeing the worst of the worst, people that are losing pretty much everything, lives of loved ones, even those in nursing care that were not afforded the luxury of holding a cherished hand while saying a final good bye. It’s heartbreaking.

It’s purple season

There are silver linings if you look for them.

My daughter-in-law owns a childcare business. There is no unemployment for those who own their own business but the safety of the children has to come first. The classrooms were empty for the first time in more than 39 years. She determinedly found a way to continue to pay her staff’s salaries while closed and get long overdue renovations made.

Bathrooms for the children were gutted by my son and rebuilt in way that could keep them cleaner. Kitchen dismantled and a complete paint job throughout. Floors have been leveled and foundations repaired. New durable, very cleanable floors are being put in so the children, if they do get to come back will have a fresh clean place to learn and play. The roof had been scheduled for repair by the insurance company after many storms took their toll was able to be replaced without children inside being bothered by noise. A new kitchen window is scheduled for replacement. It was the victim of a jointed ladder collapse as my son was getting on the roof.

Of course, there are no guarantees that things will get back to enough normal to not lose the whole shebang, but you have to seize the moment when it presents itself.

As for my daughter, she found she loves working from home and making sure I stay safe in all of this. Her company just figured out that this work from home thing is not so bad and they can save money down the road by having less office space. A work from home job is what she had been looking for (as do most hermits) and now it’s possible without changing jobs.

I am getting time to isolate enough to stop my sugar rush. I can’t tell you what a difference it’s making. I need a lot more rest, am sleeping better and getting more projects done because I’m more focused. Walks and all housework are harder when you pull the plug on carbs for a while so I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and just go with the slower flow. I also don’t have to worry about keeping my house company clean because no one is allowed to visit inside. I make messes when I’m creative.

Two bunnies in a neighbors yard. They are so rare to see around here.

The world needs economic stability. We all need to be able to keep that roof over our heads. There must be a way to do that without costing lives. In a time of horrendous stress, find your silver linings and breathe. They are there if you look for them.

 

Have you been able to find a few silver linings in your lockdown?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Walking Backward

We ended  another month! How does that happen and why am I  always surprised? We are all sheltering from something we can’t see so our activities are limited.

Deep purple Lily on my walk

My walks were getting a bit routine. I usually start up the hill, go around the first left corner and text my quilting friend that I’m on her street. Since she is being extra cautious, she comes out on her front porch to wave and say good morning. We have a little conversation the whole neighborhood can hear from six feet apart and she sometimes shares what she’s been quilting. It’s more fun when you can show your work to someone that appreciates it. I get there early in the mornings. (For her)

Then I walk up another steep hill and finally start down again. I decided yesterday to go the other way since I’d left even earlier and stop at Emily’s last. Maybe she’d be awake when I got there. Changing my routine had me noticing things I had not seen going the other way. I think that applies to life in general. If we keep doing things the way we have always done them, nothing changes. Going backward changed my perspective on the neighborhood. Now I am carrying that idea into other areas of life to see what I can shake loose.

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Today I finally finished the leftover quilt and the binding is attached to the front. I’ll hand stitch it to the back while I watch TV or listen to Ted talks or YouTube. I already have a project halfway done that I can’t show yet until all of our group are ready to share. I’ve also turned over the two charity quilt tops I finished first. Emily gave them to me already cut out. I did make some changes in the fabric since some went missing. It happens.

I’ve learned how to use Zoom to connect with our PF support group and wave at my sister at her house. We have learned to zoom together since we can’t get together. So many are using all kinds of media to connect. It feels a little backwards too. They kept telling us before to stay off the social media and spend more time in personal contact.

Metal sculpture puppy

While I Zoom, I do what I always do when listening a long time without speaking, I work on my embroidery. I did a lot of this at PF group so I don’t fidget. Embroidery keeps me focused on what I’m hearing rather than what’s playing in my head.

slow work in progress

#6 Hoping to start #7 soon.

The weather dried up enough to get a lot of weed pulling done. I filled the green waste can up and my daughter took it off the hill for me. It gets composted by the city and I’ve worked until everything hurts and yard looks almost nice again. As the rain comes to an end here, my list of outside chores goes up.

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I’ll be posting less in the summer due to other demands. You really don’t want to see the list. Bored is not in my vocabulary. In a given day I go from one thing to the other until sleep claims me. I spend my sleep hours thinking up more things that need to be done.

I am…enjoying the moments

Do you like to change up your routine to gain new perspective on old habits?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

National Bear Hunt?

I thought they were talking about real bears when I first saw the title pop up somewhere. I was NOT interested in hunting bears. Then I popped over to my Facebook page and saw my friend, Alys at Gardening Nirvana had posted about the bear hunt too. Alys LOVES animals so I read the whole post.

The first bear I saw this week.

By golly, they are not real bears, just teddy bears and it made me smile. I had plans for this day. Writing wasn’t at the top of my list. It’s been hard to concentrate with all the racket across the street. Workmen sawing and hammering metal for the new neighbor’s carport. They have been at it three days already and I’m starting to fray at the edges. Alys’ post put that behind me.

My mom’s bear and a little German bear Hard to see in the window.

First order of business was to entice my daughter from work momentarily to help get bears in the window just so. They are hard to see with trucks in the way but later this weekend without mass construction vehicles, I hope they cheer a few passersby.

My daughter’s bear in his bowler hat.

Second order of business was my walk in the neighborhood to wave good morning to my friend, Emily and let her know (from the curb) about the bears. As I walked, I saw many bears in windows. When had that started. One has been there for quite some time but I didn’t know why. It was sweet to see.

Trio of bears on my walk

So, I looked online for where it started. Like Alys, I think it’s worth spreading to distract not just children but the rest of us from falling into despair over so much gloom. My walk was eye opening! So many bears in just a short distance. It was raining and my phone got a little wet along with me so who knows how many more there are in the neighborhood but I sure hope to spread the word and find many more when I get out in the dry air. I think this is a great way to cheer us all up. A way to say hi as our neighbors walk or drive by. Happy bear hunting to all of you.

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Are you finding interesting ways to cheer yourself and others?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Social Distancing?

I’ve really had enough of it. I want to reach out and hug everyone I see these days. Social distancing is good for introverts and hermits. I like my quiet alone time but being connected helps me feel fully alive.

I went to see my therapist this week and we were the only people in the building. We gave ((air hugs)) instead of a real one. I go so I can say stuff that makes her laugh out loud. She has a contagious laugh and I go home feeling so much better.

Katy Daisy Calendar page is appropriate all the time

This week has been a lesson in social distancing for others as well. When arriving home from my outing to the grocery store at 7:00 in the dark a.m. and seeing my friendly shrink, I just made it into my driveway before all access was blocked. It seems I’m about to have a new neighbor.

Approximately three years ago, the hillside across the street gave way enough that the resident was forced to remove her home from the lot and move elsewhere until the hillside could be shored up. I was hoping they would do something lovely with the space but as you know, space is money. You can see it here

I put away my few groceries and walked out on my porch to meet this lovely older couple who are downsizing. Her sister already lives here in this park so they bought this house that was designed to fit that smaller lot. It’s brand new with it’s own little front porch. They seem very nice and I offered them my porch to sit on while they watched their home come down the road in two pieces.

On my porch watching theirs

It all happens very quickly or very slowly, depending on your perception. By days end, the two sides had been rolled together and today they are working hard to join the roof line and make it weather tight. It’s our last dry day. I heard lots of shouting as the remote-controlled tractor pushed and pulled the house into place about all the help not being six feet apart. The men moved away from each other but as the work progressed, there were inches, not feet between them. They did try but being outside with a good breeze, damp and cold air, maybe they will all be OK. It turns out some of the men were family and lived together anyway so they stayed away from those that were not family.  Today I saw one worker wearing a mask. Was it to stay well or because he was trying to avoid the sawdust flying?

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I suggested to my new neighbors that we could shake hands when the world was a little more normal again but, in the meantime, they could sit in my chairs and place them wherever needed to get a good view and good photos. We may not end up as great friends but we can be good neighbors even if we have to keep our social distance for now.

I’ll take some pumpkin bread over when they get moved in at the end of next week. In the meantime, sewing isn’t getting done because I’m being entertained by people working! Unlike my friend Cathy at NanaCathy2 in the UK, the movers for my new neighbors are going to be allowed to come and do their job of shifting furniture from one place to another. I’m off to the window again to see the progress.

How are you doing with social distancing?

Today, as I learn to be gentle with myself, I find there’s no need to do anything. But breathe.~ Pam Grout WP

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself