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Bright Lights

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

Gracie is done with Christmas too.

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

It was still snowing

It was still snowing

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

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

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

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

It looks like lace

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

What are you missing most now that holidays are gone?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Creative Adjusting

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

My birdhouse dangling is our snowy courtyard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everett’s Charlie Brown tree

Another wife is way down on his bucket list

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

Vicki loves cross stitching santas

Liz made this from her jewelry collection

Vicki’s cross stitch on paper

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


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

Thanks for visiting here

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

Peggy’s door wreath

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

Peggy’s wall hanging

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

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

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

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

What is your take on secrets and surprises.

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

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

My Wildest Dream

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

Part of my how to write books

More of my how to write books

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

One of Sharyn’s books on Feng Shui

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

Flowers from Sharyn

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

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

The first anthology.

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

Out today with my little part in it.

It’s real

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Bit of Halloween

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

11 Year Anniversary Achievement

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 11 years ago.

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

My Austere halls

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

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

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

Candy keeps disappearing. We have gremlins

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

Potted pumkin

My little witcu

Killer dust bunnies. Do they scare you?

My home sweet home

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

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

My hall wall hanging

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

Crystal isn’t a real scarecrow

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

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

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Ten Days

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


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

Willamette River from my daughter’s balcony

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

Perfect stitches, every one.

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

Beautiful quilts everywhere in Patti’s Playland

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

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

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

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

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

A new big shirt waiting to be made now

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

Do you need vacations after your vacations?

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


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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