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Loose Ends

I was so grateful to see a new year come in with a little hope attached to it. My first few days were primarily about rest. Having my morning coffee and making to-do lists.

I still need a straw to drink coffee.

It took another week or more to take all of Christmas down and put it back into storage. Then there are thank you notes to be written to some extra generous friends.

Gift from a most generous friend

I did take some time to do a little something fun. My son recommended a movie so I walked the mall for exercise first and bought a ticket. I saw the film “Last Christmas” It was NOT what I expected. I was so excited about it; I went again with my daughter on a weekend day. There were 6 people in the theater both times. It was one of the best movies that I have seen in years. It had a little of everything including an ending I didn’t see coming. My daughter loved it too and had fortunately brought plenty of tissue. It’s one I’d buy to have in my small library of movies.

Last Christmas movie

I meant to tell you about our unorthodox holiday. We celebrate everything. Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and Christmas time birthdays. It’s a very fattening holiday season. Christmas Eve, my niece and her mother came to celebrate with us. We had matzo ball soup for dinner then my niece and her mom lit the menorah candles and we watched them burn as they said their prayers in Hebrew.

Lighting first candle together

We exchanged a few small gifts with each other. My daughter and I added to their Jewish/Christmas tree ornaments that gets put up in my nieces home each year. Her mom has a crazy sense of humor as the Angel and the star of David are hanging sideways on the tree. She says it’s because she is height challenged. It was a lovely and peaceful way to incorporate all ways of looking at life. It’s really not that hard. Just being respectful of each other.

Hanukkah/Christmas Tree

In case anyone is curious about my daughter’s car that was donated to the Humane Society, it auctioned off for $975. Most of that goes to the animals.

 

I’m working on a new health routine this winter. I’m still walking five days a week. We often get breaks in the rain and it only takes 30 minutes. Because of the chronic cough from IPF that plagues my days and sleep I’ve found some new tools to help me. We used to joke about my aunt and her love of Jagermeister. But now that she has reached the age of 84 and outlived her entire family, I decided to take another look at it.

When I read the ingredients, I was stunned. Turns out it’s a wonderful cough suppressant. I’ve been sleeping much better and longer. It doesn’t take much. I use a small cordial glass and put an ice cube in it.

My philosophy is in sync with Mary Englebeit’s

One cough drop in my mouth just before falling asleep and I’ve been getting almost 7.5 hrs. Works much better than Brandy or medications. I’ve tried it all.

My daughter’s philosophy.

Now I’m ready to get back to work here and in the sewing room. Wish me luck. Lots of projects are waiting for this procrastinator.

Is your new year off to a good start or are you still trying to get a foothold on it?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Solstice

Yesterday and today the sun rose and set at the same time. I’m waiting to see what happens tomorrow. Will we get that extra minute or two of daylight? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE winter and all it brings. Mostly the lack of blistering heat, though I am solar powered so lack of daylight really seems to be slowing me down. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It has nothing to do with age, right?

Molly Ann Dahlia

October starts the countdown with dragging out Halloween decorations. I tried to make something new this year but it failed twice. Once the machine messed up and the second time, I did. I’ll try again later after the new year and see if I have better luck.

The Halloween mistake, machine embroidery

Then November gets darker and days are even shorter. I finally get Autumn decor out and looking nice when I have to take it all down and replace it with Christmas. I’m still not ready. I made an embroidery for a friend who is a bird and animal whisperer. They always pose for her so beautifully. I was hoping to add a little levity to her special day.

machine embroidery for a giggle

December is filled with activity. We had a quilting/sewing meeting at a member’s home for a potluck. Pam went all out to make it look so festive for us. Her husband joined us for lunch and wondered if we were always so talkative and noisy. But of course! Her husband helped make the cute flower pot pants for each of us. He did the wood part; she did the pants part. We each went home with one of these adorable sitting pants pots. We were also stuffed to the gills.

Then came the potluck at my pulmonary fibrosis support group. We always get a lot of good information there but this time we had food. I brought a meatball and noodle dish in the crock post. The rest was finger food and dessert. I also made Watergate and brought pies since my daughter was joining us as my chauffeur and caregiver. It was a small group this time as the rain was coming down buckets. There are no pictures of this event. Too busy asking questions and feeding myself.

In between all of this, I’ve been trying to do a tiny bit of sewing. I can’t show you all of it because one is a gift. I made a panel wall hanging that I put in the sewing room window. It’s been waiting a long time to get done. I also made window sill pads for Gracie with Christmas flannel. My son asked me to find a way to keep them from slipping off the sill when Gracie gets up. Hope the nubby slipper bottom fabric does the trick.

Solstice for me is a time for quiet reflection. According to CNN Travel, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.

Winter in the window

We give some thought to our new direction for the longer days to come. In the meantime, I just finish a batch of pumpkin bread to go with the banana bread that will be gifts along with four pans of dark chocolate brownies. They go into gift baskets too. We are in our weekly cleaning mode with an extra push. I’m having the sewing/quilt group here on Monday this week and they have requested Matzo Ball soup. Brownies are for dessert along with pudding shots. They went over very well and Pam’s pot luck. Old doesn’t mean you have to be stodgy.

I haven’t been walking as much this month but when I do, the scenery is very interesting. Most people here don’t decorate outside for several reasons. Expense and ladder fears. Most of us aren’t allowed on a ladder anymore but I have my daughter to help. We make a good team. These are neighbors decorations. I just have a few lights.

Do you celebrate the Winter Solstice in any way?

Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too. Happy Everything. Celebrate life and all it has given us.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Thanks Giving

How did it get here already? I was up getting turkey, stuffing and rolls ready while others brought wine, potatoes and cranberries. The house is “company clean.” Tomorrow I rest.

I’ve said before the months from October through December fly faster than any months of the year. Thanksgiving means different things to each of us. I give thanks all year long, each and every day but this day is special. We gather; without regard to religion or ethnicity. We have a meal together and take a few moments to acknowledge our blessing of life.

This year we are also taking time to be thankful for the giving we can and have done. I’ve shared, donated and passed on so much and my daughter has followed suit. She has actually given away almost everything from her last apartment. Yesterday she donated her old car to the Humane Society here in Portland. It was costly for ads to sell it and in need of repairs. The car will be auctioned off. We don’t itemize so a deduction was never the reason for the donation. We truly want to help animals.

I also gave a lot of fabric to my friend Emily and she has done wonders with the beginning of it. She’s made some quilt tops with parts and pieces and added some of her own. Then she hands the tops off to our friend Patti, who sandwiches the quilts and ties them. Together they donate them to an organization that distributes them. Emily and Patti have very creative minds.

Pillow panel and backing fabric turned out cute

Sweet bears were languishing in a tub far too long.

Just so you know, Patti has a secret helper when she works on her part of the quilts. Olive does her part to make sure Patti appreciates her work and entertainment.

Olive helping Patti tie the quilt. Yes that’s a needle she is pulling on.

I am giving thanks that I have enough of everything that I can share with others.

I give thanks every morning that I’m here, breathing and able to still do a great deal for myself.

I give thanks for my wonderful supportive family and friends. And my list goes on.

Do you have a list of things to be thankful about giving?

You will all be busy today doing Thanksgiving things but Thanks Giving is more than just one day. Enjoy yours.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Way to Honor

I was not intending to write anything this morning. Then I remembered that I was planning on putting out my flag just at sunrise today. Sunrise comes late now; just after 7:00 a.m. so I had to hurry to get shoes on. As I walked to the end of my porch, I could see men getting ready to work on the lot across the street again. I put the flag into the holder and tightened it down just as the sun was rising. The view left me breathless and I felt humbled.

Sunrise 11/11/2019

My father and my children’s father both served in the Army. My father was in the Army for twenty years but I never knew exactly what he did. We didn’t talk about it or much of anything else. He was gone a lot, often for a year or more at a time. We were strangers to each other.

My children’s father served in the Signal Corps. He had to keep lots of secrets but I had a vague idea of what he did for a job in the military. Those three years changed him. Service to one’s country comes with a price. For some men and women, it’s the ultimate price, for others, the price is extracted for a lifetime.

I don’t celebrate Veterans Day or Memorial Day. I honor them in my heart. We don’t say have a Happy __ Day on these days. We take a pause to remember our servicemen and women and the price they paid. I wish you a thoughtful day.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Big Eyes

BIG EYES are watching you

It’s Halloween again! All that candy in the store has my eyes BIG and wide with anticipation. Of course, I’m trying to abstain. You’ve heard the phrase “my eyes are bigger than my stomach.” That’s not how I lived my life if you remember how I celebrated my birthday. I have discovered that my big eyes affect so many areas of my life. Which is why the purging is so hard. I have big eyes for candy, cookies, great meals, and especially hobbies. Everything I see I want to try. I go overboard on quilting, sewing of all manner of things, decorative painting, crafting, ribbon, hand, and machine embroidery, plus read till my big eyes fall out and write as much as I can squeeze in not to mention gardening.

Witchy Poo comes every year

Franky never dies

When I see the decorations on homes, I see some that do it up BIG and others are basic minimalists. I’m working toward minimalism now. I decorated a little inside but not at all outside.

I see less well, breathe less well and have so much less energy for the fun things. Even chocolate! Oh, no! Sometimes I’m not as present here as I would like to be but I’m not ready to give up the GHOST yet.

No ghosting out. My heart is in this.

 

Head is ghoulish

It’s the eighth anniversary of my blog. Why would anyone start a blog on Halloween while her adult children were dressing in costume and decorating the outside of the house? Maybe I was feeling particularly ghoulish that day. I know I couldn’t help so I decided to take on a BIG challenge. So far, so good. I’ve learned a lot and made so many wonderful friends here.

Real looking and scary

We are having perfect weather for kids to trick or treat here. It’s colder than a witch’s nose but dry and clear. Since my daughter is living with me this year and dressed in costume for work, we will open the door to the little goblin’s that brave the cold dark night.

Our family witch

What are your plans for scaring the little munchkins out of their wits this year or are you going have big eyes and eating all the candy yourself?  Happy Halloween to all. Boo!

Go A Head. Have a piece

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

On My Oct. Walks

 

Ten Chicken Soup books are on their way out.

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

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

One of my hills to walk

Cold weather requires ears covered

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

Can you see the smoke in the air?

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

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

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

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

Yucky job but better than dishes

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

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

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

The Rest of the Story

There has been so much going on that I almost can’t remember it all. The last two weeks of August and the first weeks of September were so packed that I slept a lot of last weeks trying to get my bearings.

My son (TS, tech support) came from Arizona to bring my daughter his car. They had three older cars in the driveway and his was not used except for long trips. It seemed logical to have my daughter pay her brother a reasonable amount each month instead of a bank. They both win. He will eventually get something more suited to his snow-covered mountain area. She will have AC in the summer and back warmers in winter, something she has been without for almost 10 years now.

My son took me for birthday lunch at my favorite German restaurant where we ate lightly, so we had room for my favorite birthday dessert. Yes, I had it twice this year. Then we proceeded to work it off in the back yard. He bought me a yard of ¾” rock for my birthday and unloaded it from my sister’s pickup. I helped by directing. We moved the landscape logs and added more so he could complete his vision for my back yard. He loves to move things around. Last time it was all the furniture.

TS shoveled it all.

He worked on my daughter’s old car finding that what the mechanics had said was wrong with it, was not. When I took mine in for an oil change, they told me the water pump was leaking and plugs and wires needed to be replaced. I had a new engine put in four years ago and all of that was done then. He called them on it and they verified it. We are looking for a new mechanic but I think it will always be the same story. My daughter needed the hinge on her old car door fixed. He broke the windshield but he fixed the door. I love that kid. Then he anchored an upright post the roofers failed to do. Does anyone need a lazy kid? Let me know if you find one. He’s not it.

Since my birthday fell on Labor Day weekend, my daughter and I had three days to celebrate. On Saturday we drove 30 minutes to the Swan Island Dahlia Farm for their yearly open house. This was my first visit since moving here. I had to share a few of the hundreds of varieties they grow. Can you find the bunnies in the mix?

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Sunday was breakfast at Bread and Ink downtown and then on to the Chinese Gardens for a little walk around and tea. Then to our favorite metaphysical bookstore, New Renaissance. They had a porch sale!

Three food groups, maybe? Waffle, fruit and whip cream.

A late lunch/dinner was at the Ram where I got my free birthday ice cream mudslide pie slice. Most of my dinner came home with me for later. Ice cream pie won’t keep.

Ice cream and hot fudge has to be shared.

Monday my sister joined us and bought lunch and dessert at Papa Haydn’s. If you ever get to Portland and have a sweet tooth, they have two locations and both have criminal desserts.

My sister also bought me a half yard of rock to fill in what the first yard did not. My daughter pulled a lot  out  with a hoe. Then the three of us pulled the canvas cloth off the plastic one onto the driveway. The guys at the landscape yard thought this was genius as it worked when they loaded the wrong size in the truck and I took it back for the right size. I was not going to settle for something that wouldn’t work for me.  It only took me one morning to get it all moved to the back yard. I ask for odd things for my birthdays. I’m a very practical Virgo.

Flowers from a very kind friend

Tuesday, I went on a diet that will last till my daughter’s birthday in April. I’ll pass on the holiday goodies this year. Birthdays are more important to me. I want another one..

I had another adventure this last week I’ll tell you about next time. Do you prioritize birthdays over holidays?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself