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Another One

Another month whooshed by in the blink of an eye and I’ve had another birthday. I love birthdays. Mine, yours, anyone’s birthday. Any excuse for a party will do. These days, I’m finding so many fun ways to celebrate. Another of our Knit Wits had a birthday a week after mine. I brought a chocolate mousse cake for us and the group ordered pizza for an early lunch. It was quite rowdy for a bit as we wished Kathy a happy 85th birthday. There will be another birthday girl next month. I can hardly wait.

Magnets holding birthday cards

I personally, asked for no gifts. There is no room left in my tiny place for one more thing. Someone let it slip that my front door is a metal fire door, so I can put magnets on it. Now the magnets are holding my birthday cards since I have no wall space left. I can see them there all day.

An unusual birthday card.

Mother Nature gave me several spectacular gifts this month. I walk VERY early in the morning. Preferably when it’s a twilight and the sun hasn’t fully graced us with her presence. I’m a huge fan of cloudy mornings and some days they are just so stunning I wish they were a piece of fabric to quilt for my bed. Mother Nature does it best.

My morning walk gifted me this sight

Moon was still up as the sun was coming up

My son and DIL had other ideas about the gift rule. I’ve become almost superstitious about my Boccone Dolce Cake. I’ve had one every year for my birthday spent in Oregon. I want another year so I need another Boccone Dolce. Those sweet kids tried twice already to make it and have finally felt they had it right. At this altitude, meringue is harder to get right. There was so much love in that cake it tasted extra good.

Boconne Dolce made with love.

They also made what could have been a simple request, all dolled up. I needed a sturdier rack to hold up my printer than the wiggly wire one and instead of just plain wood, or at best, throwing some paint on it, they covered it in fabric! It’s functional and beautiful!

Covered in fabric to match the kitchen and living room

Just to prove we all have a good sense of humor; they gifted me with this fun t-shirt. I laughed myself silly over it and wear it often now.

It suits me perfectly. Aisle six has the sweets and salty treats, I’m sure.

There has been a lot going on this month, even for me. There was a visit from my friend, Arlene from Oregon with her sweet husband. I made them some Matzo Ball soup for linner. (late lunch/early dinner). My new chair that was ordered in early April, arrived the day before they came. Perfect.

Arrived just in time for company

I also had two appointments with separate nurse practitioners. I’m in really great shape for the shape I’m in. Just need to stop walking down aisle six.

I’m heading to Portland next weekend for a visit with my daughter, sister and friends, buy some new shoes and then be back here in a couple of weeks.

My motto for life

Has this month zipped by faster than usual for you as well?

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. ~Khalil Gibran

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Weekly Activities

I’ve had some full days of a new exercise that consisted of 500 diddly squats. It was a hard week. I had only three days of walks due to my cart that carries the oxygen tank and miscellaneous needs, falling apart while the kids were gone and I was house/cat sitting.

It was a tough job to watch Gracie.

Sonar is a hard cat to catch.

The same day the cart fell apart, my suburban, that I gave my son, wouldn’t restart in the apartment parking lot. Dead battery that had worked fine only moments earlier. Fortunately, the pre-school was still open and one of the DIL’s co-workers came to get me so I didn’t have to climb that hill in the heat.

On the following Wednesday, I had three separate walks and by the end of the day, had 11,763 steps! I walked everywhere I needed to go that day since the kids had worked together when they got home to fix that poor old cart. I purchased it in Germany in 2000 and it’s been tagging along behind me a lot lately.

My days are usually packed full and I had a lot that needed doing but just felt like I wanted a personal day. I read a few blogs, looked online for gifts, (there is no good shopping here,) and edited a story I’m submitting to a friend for her anthology. We shall see how that goes. At least I’ve tried my hand at it.

In an effort to stay as independent as possible, I’m learning how the shuttle bus for this small community works. What I found out is an outing takes a lot of time and if I want to go to several places, I’ll need the better part of a day. It’s best not to go on extra hot days nor days we are expecting thunderstorms with lightning. That leaves almost no days to go out this month. I did ride the bus over the hill so I could walk the rest of the way to get my pedicure at the salon and then to the florist to order flowers for my DIL’s birthday. If you have to work, you need flowers to get through the day. My son took me the last few blocks in the car. It was quite warm by then.

DIL’s birthday flowers

In the next few weeks I hope to take the bus past the Walmart/Hospital stop and see all the stops and how long it will take.

I also tried my hand at machine embroidery again after almost a year. One of our ladies at Knit Wits is leaving for the valley permanently. That happens a lot up here so I made this card and then brought some sweet snacks so we will be remembered. She has a tough time ahead.

We all signed the inside of the card. Fits on half a page of card stock.

I also tried a more complicated machine embroidery that could have gone much better since (in the hoop applique) embroidery is new to me. I’m going to have to try it again until I get it right.

I need some serious practice on this. Not happy with the results.

How is your week shaping up? Full, frustrating, or a little bit of relaxation?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Party Atmosphere

Have you guessed that I love to celebrate pretty much anything? I do. Life is supposed to be a celebration, especially in the worst of times. I know way too many people that say they don’t want to celebrate their birthdays because they are getting old and it’s silly. Birthday celebrations are for kids. Well, I was never really a kid, so I’m making up for lost time. I’ve posted many of my birthday celebrations since not having a birthday isn’t on my “to do” list right now.

Celebrating by stuffing the face with lunch

I have this tendency to go around and ask people I see and talk to regularly about when they have a birthday. I write it down. I collect them. Here at my independent living complex, birthdays are no longer a given and many people here have no family available. To many, that day is just another day. Not if I can help it. Many people here stay to themselves and have no desire to interact but there are a few that are just too nice to ignore. Everett is now 87 and is a happy person who enjoys cheerful company. So, I mentioned to the kitchen how much he loved the chocolate cake they had baked for the director’s birthday and asked if they would make it for his.

Everett and his cake

Then I mentioned to several of the ladies around who he converses with regularly (when he’s not watching NASCAR) if they would like to help him celebrate on his special day. I was the last one to get to the dining room when the kitchen said they had no candles. I didn’t either but I had something that might do, though it was a bit irreverent. I brought down the candles and we had a sort of birthday ­­party. Everette had a good laugh at the candles trying not to offend anyone’s sensibilities. I’m going down the list and trying to find out who is next and what can we do for them to make the day special.

Looks like a party to me.

Birthdays aren’t the only thing that makes a party. Our stitching group, Knit Wits, collects a dollar each week from those that show up. I haven’t been here very long but there was a good amount in the bucket so we decided that we had ­­more than enough for several pizzas. We had enough to go have a real lunch.

Thoughtful bunch with food.

Unfortunately, one or two of our members have a hard time getting out and about so I suggested ordering lunch in from a guaranteed good restaurant. I would order early in the morning from the list we made and my sweet son would pick it up and deliver it halfway through our group time. Of course, he was happy to do that. I took an order for him and his wife too. That would be my personal treat for their kindness.

The oldest will soon be 94. That will be a celebration.

The group plus a daughter that delivers mom.

We are a very noisy group and had an extra good time that day. Our delivery man was smothered in gratitude by all of us hungry women then went to have his lunch at home.  There is still enough cash for a pizza lunch later.

Do you celebrate anything or do you shy away?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Finally Finished

It’s hard to write a blog when everything you do takes so long to finish. I have been very busy completing projects that have been in the works for years!  I have a bad habit of starting several projects simultaneously. These are  two more in line, ready to be started. I’ve washed, starched and pressed the fabric needed. Cutting will take a great deal of thought as to what pattern I use for each; plotting and planning the layout.

Cultivate kindness will go outside my door in the hall.

The quilt for my new couch.

Can’t seem to capture the color of the couch. It’s the lightest shade of the teal.

I’ve been doing a lot of hand embroidery the last few years because it’s portable and takes up very little room when I’m on the move. I take it with me when I house-sit for my son, or go to visit friends and other family. A couple of these projects traveled to Germany and back with me and I worked on them when good light was available.

Embroidered on these since before covid started. Turned out too big.

I need nine days a week. One for writing and one for gardening

This one was half embroidered by a friend who was no longer interested in completing it. It was small and appeared quite simple. Looks are definitely deceiving here. The border directions made me what to pull my hair out. ( Marlene does not follow directions well, on every report card.) It looked so simple but somehow, my brain balked. I called my son and told him if I didn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, I’d have him come and help. It was so simple and made ridiculously hard that I really want to do another and see if I can make it easier the next time. Yes, insanity runs in my family.

How hard can it be?

Finally finished

Gingerbread blessings has special instructions to color next to the embroidered lines. I bought crayons to try it but I have not been courageous enough yet to finish that part of it. I also have another one exactly like it ready to work. I’m thinking of using more colors on the next one. It felt a little boring like this but I loved it when my friend, Arlene framed hers. She does amazing work and always inspires me to try my hand at things.

Ready but not colored

Finally finished also

What to do?

Should I color it?

This last one looked a lot harder than it turned out to be. I fell in love with the design and wanted it done right away. There are tiny beads at the tops of the pins and a button that give it dimension. The border turned out to be simple enough for me to finish without blue words. It needs outline stitching and after starting it, I pulled out the stitches and drew a faint line all the way around. I sew crooked…everywhere.

Still needs some work

Lines will disappear later

I’m writing this in the Senior center away from so many distractions because my apartments air conditioning is not working. Someone will be here later to see about it being repaired. I have all the coffee I can drink and I’ve had breakfast here as well. How lovely and convenient is my life!

Do you ever regret projects you start on but make yourself finish anyway?

The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t. Joshua Baker

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Little Gifts

These last few weeks have been so very interesting. Of course, that’s how my life goes. I’ve never been bored and always looking for the little gifts’ life leaves for us unexpectedly.

My son’s Orchid with 2 ft. of flowers!

One morning this week I went out for my walk before day officially broke and headed up my first short hill. At the top and to my right, I noticed a rather large black and white cat sitting on a mound of dirt. I have never seen this cat before. I approached more slowly wondering why it was out there. As I turned around to go back down the hill, I saw why cat was sitting there. Its job was to slow me down and pay close attention.

Moving along

So many rocks, so easy to hide

Two steps down the hill, I came to a complete halt. On the embankment opposite the cat was the most beautiful baby deer. It stopped and looked at me as well. I wondered if I could successfully get my phone out to photograph this never seen before bit of joy in time. The deer did not seem the slightest bit disturbed at my movements and I captured a few very shaky shots. As the deer move down the hill, so did I. I finally decided to move ahead of it as it was heading toward the larger street and I wanted it to move away from traffic however limited at that dusky hour. I was so blessed that morning to see this baby deer/elk so up close that the rest of the day I was floating on air. There are rewards for getting out of bed in the dark.

Deer/Elk nibbling

Deer/Elk? close

The next day I had plans to meet a blogging friend for dinner as they were passing through on an extended trip. They drove an hour each way to stop by. We have been corresponding by snail mail since she stopped blogging several years ago. Prior to leaving for dinner, I sent a text to my son. “I have a lizard in my house.” Now, I am not afraid of them and they eat bugs so I had no intention of bringing harm to this creature. It would starve in my place though. Along with my lack of speed and vision, I was not the one likely to catch this little critter. So, the kids came early to pick me up and quickly came up with a plan. The DIL found a clear plastic container that I had in the discard box. There was also had a small cardboard box (delivered by Amazon just moments before) as they approached from two sides. He lowered the clear container on it and scooted it into the cardboard box closing the lid quickly. She said they don’t see the clear container coming at them. Then she took it outside and placed it back in its own environment.

Very confused house guest.

Jan and I at dinner

So off to dinner we went to enjoy some lively conversation with some very nice people. Dinner for the great hunters was on me as my son had also put up a new ceiling fan earlier that day to give me better light in my sewing room. I don’t know what I’d do without these great kids. Hope I never have to find out.

Do you get gifts from nature on occasion?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself.

Birthing

I was wondering (though I knew the answer deep down) why I was so tired all the time and feeling like someone had pulled my plug from the current?

In the last nine months, I have fixed up my home of seven years and put it on the market to sell. The house sold and there was more work. Packing, purging, making arrangements for a life that I could not see in my minds eye. Then there was a month-long trip to Germany during winter and Covid. Finally, there was the possibility of a new landing spot far from my friends and familiar surroundings.

The last three months have been about settling into a place I really didn’t want to be in but decided it was probably for the best and turning out better than I’d imagined. It has required new health care protocol, trying to make new friends, and deal with entirely different weather and living conditions.

In essence, I have given birth to a whole new life in the last nine months. A lot work went into creating it so it’s time to take a good look my life now and claim it.

Running in circles leaves no air for me.

I realized I had become habituated to eating what was cheap and easy. Is that who I am? A cheap, easy addict? So, I decided to take charge of this new life I’ve birthed and feed it properly. I’ve been gradually increasing the length and intensity of my walks as I’ve become slightly more acclimated to the altitude of 6300 ft. I fasted for a few days and then continued with a healthy low carb lifestyle for the duration.

The hardest part of this new life? Giving up being cheap and easy. The interesting part is the cough has quieted and my creative energy is returning after allowing myself extra resting time. The apartment is still more cluttered than I’d like but things are still on the move here. Mostly out the door. My new sofa and chair may arrive this month but I know better than to have expectations.

First project in the new sewing room. A gift

I finally found my essential sewing tools packed in odd places and am beginning to start sewing again. My very first projects were gifts, as it should be and I tried something new for fun. I’ve attended two card making classes at the Senior Center. Had a very good time but will not succumb to another expensive hobby.

Back shows embroidery stitching better

I have been able to cat/house sit for the kids three times since I’ve been here. Change of pace for me and a way to give back a bit for all they do to help me. Gracie is now an official curmudgeon and Sonar a tormenting toddler.

Have you ever given birth to a new idea, project or lifestyle? Were there labor pains in the process?

Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. ~Alice Morse Earle

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

ISO an Island

It’s been longer than even I expected since my last post. Squeezing forty pounds of stuff into this two-pound bag has taken determined effort. It seems as though we bring in things that work better for my apartment and the kids carry out things that will go to a thrift store or yard sale.

First they finished my sewing table. He wanted to make sure it wouldn’t cave in from the weight of the machine. I couldn’t find filing cabinets to hold it up so he improvised.

 

 

Once the newly built by my son bookcases were complete and installed, I realized how many books I actually gave away. There is room for more on the new shelves! How did that happen? The last one is 4’ wide by 10” deep, built to fit the area in the hall. The bathroom door is so wide, it takes all the hall width to close it. Everything is strategic. My son decided after seeing the books on the shelves, the 4’ would need bracing in the middle.

In the search of more drawer space, (I have 2) we looked at all possibilities. Again, I wanted only things that could serve multiple purposes when I no longer need them. I looked at prefab cabinets of drawers out of wood and they were inadequate. Walking through the big box home improvement store, found us looking at a tool roll-away in black (On Sale). It had several colors listed but after much research, found the colors other than black were hard to come by. This apartment is just too dark for black so my son foolishly suggested spray painting it any color I wanted. Little did he know what can of worms he had just dumped on himself.

 

It’s the same color as my blog background this month.

It took longer than expected since they had a 10-day trip in the middle of it all but the end result of his ingenuity and fortitude was priceless! I was in love with my new island. Both he and his wife worked on this masterpiece. I want to have a showing with people lined up in the hall to see this thing of beauty and practicality. I’m still trying to decide what goes where and that still goes for much of the rest of the apartment. Things keep shifting until it feels just right.

 

 

My DIL trolls Craigslist and the thrift stores which can make some people roll their eyes but my goodness, she has found some really handy and beautiful things. I now have a sweet little bistro set for my porch at less than a fraction of what the original owner paid for it.

 

They brought a second little white wicker end table for my Mother’s Day gift found at a thrift store in perfect condition and it has a ‘drawer’! I love white wicker as it lightens up dark, heavy spaces.

I love white wicker

I also found a sweet little quilt rack on Craigslist that was here locally but we were all so busy that I couldn’t get over to see it and I was undecided if it was practical. I sent a note to the owner and he brought it to me. We couldn’t make one for the price I paid for this little sweetheart. I can put my napping quilts on it and not have to dig one out of the chest each day. I’ve met some very nice people through Craigslist. Maybe I’m just lucky that way but I guess right now I’m living on an island of delight.

 

Have you ever used things in an unconventional way?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Ugly Truth

It’s been hard to come up with the bandwidth to post since my life has no routine right now. My mind is a reflection of the chaos in my new home. It’s much easier to share my accomplishments than my shortcomings.

Would it fit? We got a bigger truck just in case

I decided to tell you the ugly truth here. I’ve had my ‘stuff’ here for over a month already and my place looks very much like a hoarder’s home. There is stuff everywhere and nowhere to put it…yet. It’s a total embarrassment as progress is slow.

As before in my manufactured home, I wanted the house to tell me what it wants. I hung no pictures so everything is sitting on the floor waiting. For what?

I sold three large bookcases that I didn’t want to move again. They were starting to show wear due to many moves. IKEA has no inventory in this area of the bookcases I like and there is nowhere here to buy anything similar. So, my son is building some to fit what little space I have to put anything. That will take time.

Where does it all go

I also left behind the flimsy drawers that held up the sewing table, which is a 2×8 sheet of plywood.

The move was hard in many ways. The movers came late in the cold day. We were already exhausted shuffling around things and chilled to the bone. The movers tied nothing down so my son did his best to tie up what was obviously going to come crashing down.

It worked and very little broke. At least nothing I couldn’t live without. I can thank my son for driving the 1500 miles very gently. The offloading was quick. Again, I had hired help. It was worth it to save our strength to put things away. The kids helped me so much getting things where they needed to be when I could no longer do more than point. I’m ever so grateful for that help.

When I put the quilt Emily made on my bed, I was home and cozy.

I’ve unpacked almost everything except some books. Until there are shelves, they remain in stacks of boxes. I look at it all and shaking my head, make a cup of tea and head to bed hoping the next morning will bring a fresh round of energy.

Still no home yet.

In the meantime, I’ve had appointments with a new pulmonologist, chiropractor, and have been lucky enough to get into pulmonary rehab. That just means that they make me exercise while tracking my oxygen level, blood pressure and heart rate. I was rewarded with a handicap placard and 24/7/365 oxygen supply.

my leash inside. Oxygen concentrator.

I’m acclimating to the altitude a second time and doing quite well in spite of the fact that some sort of oxygen apparatus follows me everywhere now. The rehab techs are impressed with my tenacity. I’m hoping to need less oxygen as time goes on. That’s the goal. Sewing is the next goal.

Clutter and shopping cart that now carries oxygen tank

Paring down  is on the list too. As much as I gave away and sold, it just wasn’t quite enough. We are working on unusual storage solutions and I’ll show you what we’ve come up with next time.

How do you feel about sharing the ugly truths in life?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Final Address?

I knew I had to find another place to live when I sold my manufactured home which was address # 35 but had very few clues to where that might be. I was looking for somewhere that I could live comfortably, have easy access to things like groceries and the post office without driving. I sent a deposit that would put me on a waiting list at the place my friend Emily was living in the Portland area and checked many others online. Independent living is very expensive and since covid, all the perks and activities had been canceled with guests often not being allowed in. They didn’t change the prices.

While I visited my son during Thanksgiving, we looked at what little was available in his area. Again, we could not enter one building due to active covid contract by residents. All I could see was floor plans and in the other I could see the common areas. I was not impressed by any of them.

My son sent an e-mail with photos of the place three blocks from his house that was available when I arrived home. In Portland, I was still on a waiting list with no availability.

I signed the lease online while in Germany so I had a place to land when arriving home. I remembered the place as dark and depressing. It had adequate space and was attached physically to the very quiet senior center. They serve lunch and cook for meals on wheels having procured a new chef. I would make the best of it.

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There are thousands of women that can’t even afford to live here much less the nicer places. I talk to them everyday as they struggle to find a safe spot in the world. I consider myself very blessed to have what I do.

I’ve been here over a month now and barely getting adjusted to the altitude. Coming from sea level to 6300 ft hit the old lungs hard. Perseverance is my middle name so each day we did something to make life workable until I could get my things out of storage.

The kids brought over an old sofa bed that I had given them years ago belonging to my last Mother-in-law. I’d recovered it years before passing it on and it still looked nice. With the mattress topper, it slept well enough until a new bed was bought and delivered. In the meantime, my daughter-in-law had collected a few things to make the kitchen and bathroom function. They offered back an old second hand dresser that my mother had used for fabric storage. It was functional so I sanded it down in the kitchen and repainted it.

Original

We haunted thrift stores for a few things and I found a cute little end table some young man had probably made in wood-shop. It received the same treatment. Before it was all over, I had most of the furniture I needed and now all that is left is to fly to Portland and have my stuff loaded into a U-Haul for my son to drive back so I can set up my sewing room. That’s my favorite part. I can hardly wait. By next week, I’ll be eating off my own dishes and cooking in my own pots. The senior center lunch room may rarely see me.

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Have you thought about your final address or are you already there?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

The Total Opposite

The Universe is all about contrast and so it is in our world. After Stuttgart, we were certainly looking for some contrast. My daughter had an agenda as we approached Mannheim. First thing on her list was a laundromat. That was her GPS coordinates rather than the hotel. A couple of times around the block and we found it and then parking. We left the car loaded with luggage and found the typical laundromat. After a few moments there, many others had the same idea.

My daughter is still laughing that a older German man was having to explain to a 20 something young German woman how to work the machines. My daughter figured it out without speaking or reading the language. Some wore masks, many didn’t. We did. No one wants to be sick in a foreign country.

The contrast started at the laundry and continued to the hotel. It was a new high-rise at the end of the old city buildings. Our reception was a great deal warmer. Once we were settled and laundry sorted to suitcases, we made our way back to the reception desk and ask about finding dinner. We were kindly directed toward the street with many shops and told the metro line was just out front that would take us anywhere.

Our hotel

First, we walked and found some take out sandwiches and called it a night. The next morning, we were directed to the breakfast room where, as before in other places, masks were required while in the food area but once seated away from it, we could eat in comfort and safety. The food was abundant, offering even dessert with breakfast. I NEVER turn down dessert. I even took a roll and sandwich meat and cheese back to our room for lunch. I eat small amounts at a time so this wasn’t an extravagant amount of food.

Breakfast, lunch and dessert all in one

After our scrumptious breakfast, we were asking directions to a grocery and explained to the reception clerk that we had been denied entry to anywhere except grocery stores in Stuttgart over the QR code. She shook her head and asked to see our vaccination documents again explaining that she didn’t understand why we had been denied and said she thought it could be remedied. Quickly making a phone call and then directing us to an Apotheke (Pharmacy).

This one was in the Cologne shopping center. If we had only known.

We walked down the wrong street but found an Apotheke explaining to the pharmacist what we were after. She looked at our vaccine records and went into her office. Then she asked a few more questions and back into her office. I was getting concerned but finally after 10 minutes she came out with two sheets of paper with the QR code printed on them. One for each of us. It coincided with our vaccine code number and said that should take care of us. Oddly, we never needed it in Mannheim. Everyone was helpful and kind not to mention accepting.

We wandered the streets taking in the sights and used the metro rail to our hearts content having the best time in spite a bit of drizzle on and off. This city gets five stars for hospitality. The clerk even gave me two batteries for my oximeter when it ran down so we didn’t need to walk to the grocery store again.

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It makes me wonder how we treat foreigners to our country who don’t speak the language. Would we go to those lengths to make their visit to our country a pleasure or wish they would just be gone?

 

“Everything I was I carry with me, everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.” ~ Ma Jian, Red Dust: A Path Through China

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself