Looking for answers to life's questions

It’s in my front window this year but doesn’t photograph as well there.

I missed St. Patrick’s Day and many others. This month was first about planning for my family to come visit. I haven’t seen my youngest brother more than 10 years at least. My son was coming to see his uncle and cousin with her family here since it’s been even longer for him. I saw my niece and grandniece a couple of years ago when they came for a short visit.  All trips have been canceled.

My last visit to our grocery store!

Then I had four days of excruciating pain from a handful of cashews. The doctor mentioned in passing I had diverticulitis. I’d never experienced any discomfort from it so I just ignored it. I won’t make that mistake again. No more nice crunchy nuts for me.

I have been so distracted that I even missed a friend’s birthday and had to send a belated card to him. When I noticed I was starting to slip off the crazy edge, I started looking for ways to ground myself. Since all my sewing groups have been canceled, (we are all at risk aged) I sat myself at my machine to work on starting and finishing a few projects.

The start of a scrappy charity quilt and a learning project

Then I started catching up on my blog reading and looking for funny and inspirational. I found funny here. Barb Taub always hits my funny bone.

Inspirational I found here. Pam Grout blogs on Word Press too and she always brings my monkey mind back to center with so much wonderful humor as well.

Something so droll to read turned flat funny.

I’m no good at cloistering. As an extroverted introvert, I need people as much as I need quality alone time. People are how I know I’m still connected here.

Donkeys all done

My daughter is working from home for the next month. She is determined to keep me well and at home. She is an introverted introvert. Another words, a hermit. She’s happy to work in her room and only come out for meals. I can sometimes hear her on the phone helping co-workers with the problems they are encountering since they have all been switched to a whole new computer system. Like her brother, she is amazing at virtual tech support. My son fixed my embroidery program issues by connecting to my computer from his earlier this week. That saved me more money than I cared to admit. I tell him to send me a virtual bill and he laughs.

Practicing making wonky stars

I, like so many of you are struggling with this new situation. The physical costs to life are enormous. Then there is the financial aspect where so many have been laid off jobs as so many businesses have been forced to shutter. Our world is connected as a whole whether you want to accept that thought or not. What affects one, affects the whole somewhere down the line. I know there is a silver lining in here somewhere. Jennie found one that she shared. I love this wonderful person and what she does. Pop over and have yourself a little smile.

What are you doing to cope with the craziness and the isolation?

“Control your own mind. Or somebody else will.~ Tony Robbins

Stay well and connected virtually.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

A Road Trip

There has been a lot going on here and I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about some of it. If being honest is a core value for me, then write about it I must.

I love this mug.

As you may know, I started this blog while healing from the most debilitating case of Bells Palsy even my doctors had ever come across. There was little else I could do at the time but sit in my bed writing and resting. February 11 was the 10-year anniversary of it and I have come a long way in healing. There are still many residual effects but nothing that can’t be handled. At this point, it’s just history and not worth mentioning again since I found no one that had encountered a similar experience.

It’s hard to embroider with Leo’s tail on it.

My focus now has been making the best use of my time since being diagnosed with IPF. My mother had it and my sister is in late stages with it. Seems to run in the female side of our family. The ‘I’ stands for idiopathic, which means unknown origin. Perfect word if you add the letter T, I think. I was not a smoker which is what most people ask but many around me did smoke.

It’s waiting for me to quilt it.

A series of synchronicities occurred that caused me to decide a visit to a medical intuitive, so I made an appointment for my daughter and myself. We had to wait months for an appointment. Sigh… I didn’t want to tell anyone about this alternative therapy appointment. The session was extremely helpful and I would recommend it to those who need a little help in the right direction or those the traditional medical community have nothing  left to offer. Reiki was part of the treatment along with instructions to take my mind from what ails me and put it on something fun. Where attention goes, energy flows.

We met at Portland’s New Renaissance Bookstore. Took 2 years to decide to see her. The book says it all.

During our trip, we had some fun taking a ferry to Poulsbo, Washington. Bless the inventor of GPS! We arrived around 1:00 p.m. and ready for lunch. There was a Europub that claimed authentic cuisine. A few bites and the rest of my lunch went to the trash. I don’t throw away food but this couldn’t be salvaged. We walked a lot that day to see the sweet little Norwegian settled town. Their ice cream shop made up for the lunch. It was outstanding in its unusual flavors and quality.

We also stopped at a very lovely quilt shoppe where I found a perfect coordinating fabric for my donkey quilt. I really had to force myself not to buy anything that I wasn’t immediately needed. Fabric is more addictive for me than sweets and just slightly less than books. Now you see what’s usually on my reading list. We found one more quilt store close to our motel and had great fun in there. Yes, I bought just the yardage I needed for another project I’m working on. Most creatives have dozens at once. There is no cure.

Just for a bit of uplift, I left my Bluetooth headphones accidentally wrapped in the bedding. As we were many miles outside of Seattle, the hotel called to let us know they had them and would send instructions on how to get them mailed back. Housekeeping had turned them in!  They are now back with me.

Now we are restored and moving forward to optimum health.

Have you had any interesting road trips lately? What’s you thought on going outside mainstream medicine?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

A Roll

It’s been a while since I’ve done any creative work. First one must dig out and put order into the space where creativity happens. There has been no shortage of projects placed in my hands in the last two months or more.

It was clean yesterday

First, here is one I finished for Christmas and forgot to photograph. My son and his wife really want to live at the beach so I made this panel up for them. They have no wall space left so it hangs in front of his desk.

Seating for two at the beach. I think it needs pressing from the shipping.

Many of us have found projects we no longer chose to do so the reasonable thing is to pass them on to someone who is more inclined to finish them. I have  fabric that I’m going to pass on to a quilting acquaintance who does quilts for Veterans. I like the word ‘finish’ and hoping that’s the word for our winter as well.

Another quilting friend gave me two sets of embroidered donkeys. Her heart was a little broken looking at them as her granddaughter thinks quilts are for old people and didn’t want one for her  baby boy. The joy of making something for her great-grandson was lost. So I will do my best to complete it and find someone that will cherish it. I did make a mistake right away by letting myself get distracted when trimming them down. They are going to be much smaller now than I originally thought.

At our last gathering for hand sewing, Emily had each of us reach into a paper bag and pull out a 5” charm pack to make something from. A couple of us are not very creative on our own so Emily brought me a pattern to use and walked me through the first part. The wonky stars have turned out to be quite the challenge for me. Emily eventually remembered how they were done and will take me through it this week.

I also finished five embroidered aprons out of seven in the last year or so and am starting on the last two. I’m also hand sewing  the binding on a quilt top Emily didn’t want to finish. I put on the border, batting and back then quilted it before machine stitching the binding on to one side. Now I have simple handwork for our groups gathering.

My son uses the phrase “an object in motion stays in motion” often. Let’s hope this object stays in motion once on a roll.  It will be a slow roll.

“Creativity takes courage.” –Henri Matisse–

Are you finding new momentum to roll with in this new year?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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

 

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

 

In the middle of last week, fully (almost) recovered from my birthday blowout and some intense yard overhauling, I had a chance to do something I’ve only had the opportunity to do a few times before. I met a former blogger, Jan, from https://mommermom.wordpress.com/. She is no longer blogging but we have kept in touch through email and snail mail. I received a card several weeks ago that she had a little time before her flight from Portland airport and would I be available to meet? So, of course, I rearranged an appointment to go meet her in person. She was with a friend from college meeting other friends from college so it was lively conversation.

Satiated with lunch at Beaches

We had a lovely lunch and of course, we all had lots of questions. Jan no longer has a reliable computer and felt blogging was taking too much precious time from her large family. We all know how that is with more commitments than time.

Lunch was good, conversation was better.

Jan’s friend is a retired librarian and asked why I blog. I explained why I started blogging when I became so ill that I could do little else than read or write. No television, no sewing, no driving and barely being able to ride or walk without tipping over were a fact of life for well over two years. The more I thought about it the more I realized I didn’t fully answer that question. Why do I still blog when it crosses my mind like so many other’s whose posts I enjoyed, to give it up?

My birthday t-shirt. So very true

The simple answer is in the last line of the September t-shirt I wear. I have a mouth I can’t control. I’m a blabbermouth, a storyteller, a communicator. I love to converse and I will tell you about myself to get you to tell me about you. There is a level of trust involved here and I’ve never been let down and work hard at not letting anyone else down.

Thank you, Jan.

I don’t have time to blog. I also need this community more than it needs me. As I’ve healed from one profound illness and face another, bloggers have helped sustain a positive focus. Giving this up is like cutting a main artery. Friends I have made here will always be friends in my heart. The people I meet virtually all have good hearts and are trustworthy. Getting to meet them in person is an extra bonus. So, thank you Jan, for including me in your visit to the area. You and your friend were a delight to spend time with and I felt like we had know each other for years.

Asters in full bloom

Have you had chances to meet fellow bloggers? How was your experience of it?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself