Looking for answers to life's questions

Why Go Back?

The last three weeks have been more than a little hectic for reasons than I can’t explain here. It started when my friend of almost 20 years finally called to let me know she was back out of the hospital again. It’s like a catastrophe cloud follows her everywhere. She went to Hawaii last year and at the end of a wonderful trip, she stepped down off the bus wrong and broke several bones in her wrist, ankle and shoulder. Just when she was finally on the mend, she would take another fall. I mentioned to my son that I would like to go see her because she sounded so disheartened, I didn’t know if she had it in her to recover one more time. My son and his wife decided to buy a plane ticket for me to go see her.

An earlier trip she made to Hawaii

I knew we would not be visiting for long periods and on seeing my friend, a one-hour visit seemed almost too long. She is in a beautiful assisted living facility with 24-hour help. It was a lovely apartment and so expensive I couldn’t even stay one month, much less the year she had been there. She had another fall the week before I got there. So, on seeing her fatigue, I said my goodbye after the hour visit and promised to stop by on my way back to the Phoenix airport.

She felt much better at our second visit. Always the smile.

Then we headed up the mountain where the rest of the visit was with my son and see what they had done to the house and the pre-school his wife owns. This was going to be an interesting trip. I left there nine years ago after becoming debilitated by an extreme case of Bells Palsy and had no desire to ever return.

Gracie making herself comfortable on the sofa bed

Gracie trying to figure out why I was there. She had plenty of staff already.

Since being diagnosed with IPF, I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the altitude of 6000-7200 ft. It was harder than expected. I was able to visit with a few other old friends and we tried some new and old favorite restaurants. They are a world apart from what I have here in Oregon.

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I thought about the home I had up in the Arizona mountains where it was often difficult to get things to grow. My son drove us by my old home and every tree I had planted there was still present and thriving. We had even gone into the forest and dug out a bundle of three tiny trees growing together that stood little chance of thriving where they grew. I didn’t want to damage any roots by separating them so they came all together. Three different conifers all growing as one tree still thriving after 19 years.

These trees were knee height when I planted them.

The house has changed, with an expensive copper roof and the little wishing well my husband  built getting one too. There were small changes like a house being built-in the empty acre directly across the drive from our house. I preferred looking at the empty lot of trees.

The new house in the lot across from my old house. Everything changes.

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The manufactured home next door that my mother had owned still had everything I planted there as well. It did my heart good to see the stand of Aspen trees, butterfly bushes, lilacs, an assortment of evergreens all still standing. It was a lot to walk away from but I could no longer manage it all in the condition I was in.

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That seems to be the case again now, so more changes are taking place. Two days after arriving home from my trip, my son and his wife arrived at my door with a borrowed pickup truck. Stay tuned.

Have you gone back to an old homestead? What feelings washed over you?

“Tears are words that need to be written.” ~Paulo Coelho

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Good Advice

I’ve said before how fond I am of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I typically read one story a night just before drifting off to sleep. I take whatever I’ve been reading or watching on television into my dreams so I work to keep things light. I bought the book The Best Advice I Ever Heard: 101 Stories of Epiphanies and Wise Words. I’m coming to the end of it and thought I would pass it on to my niece. She’s young, in college and asking a lot of questions while getting every imaginable answer. It made me wonder about the wisdom that’s passed down from generation to generation.

Heard anything astounding lately?

I didn’t get advice from my parents. They weren’t the kind of people who talked to their kids. My dad would drop little sayings on occasion. “Never vote for an incumbent”; ‘There is nothing more dangerous than a closed mind’; ‘He who hesitates has lost’. Mom told me one New Year’s eve after a little bit of celebrating, that no one would ever take care of me the way I could take care of myself. She was a little late with that advice and offered nothing to implement it with. On rare occasion, she would spill a little story of something that she had dealt with in a way that taught me I needed to be strong.

There was the time she had a flat tire with my siblings in tow. She called my dad at work. Apparently he was less than helpful and told her to handle it. She did, Once the tire had been changed, she drove to the nearest tire store and bought four new tires. Problem solved. It was a lesson for him as well. She always said that when someone (dad) told her no, all bets were off and she would find a way to do whatever he said no to. Like how she taught herself to drive when he was away on maneuvers and couldn’t stop her. Those were sound life lessons for me.

Our Nash Rambler with new tires. ALL 6 of us slept in it on trips.

I picked up what I know about life from books, life experience and the School of Hard Knocks. Then I found out some of the books were outdated. I’ve learned to listen carefully to advice from friends and other family members, smile and weigh it for a glimmer of good sense. Then do what I always do, trust my gut. It will never fail you if you pay careful attention. The truth for everyone depends on what filter people see information through.

What could I pass on to my impressionable young niece?

My niece is still the smallest in her class.

Always be truly yourself. It’s your job. Be kind and honest no matter what it might cost at that moment. Do what sings to your heart, the rest will take care of itself. Read and listen to things that are contrary to what you believe at the moment. Take everything with a grain of salt. Only part of it may hold true for you.

People are filled with good advice. I think most of us hear advice with a tunnel through our ears. You know, in one ear, out of the other.

Did you get any good advice and did you pass any on to friends and family?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Comment Oops

I have a hard time with certain blogs I visit. I also have difficulty with groups I belong to when it comes to discussing childhood activities.

I was never really a child. I sometimes think I was born old in a tiny body. Well, not so tiny, actually. Does 13 pounds qualify as an infant?

Dr. French often asks questions on his blog and I really want to answer. Especially since he has been so kind and encouraging of my continuing to write my drivel. Most of the time I click the like button and disappear. This time, I wrote a comment, copied it to a word document that I keep for unpublished comments and began to delete the comment from his post. I hit send instead. You can read the drivel I left here.

Another blog that makes it hard for me but I usually gush over even though I make no sense is Jennie’s. She’s the worlds BEST preschool teacher. Why on earth would I read that blog? I have no young children nor grandchildren. Jennie is no kid herself but her heart is so very young and pure. She shows me what could have been under different circumstances. Like when you get a teacher who cares with all her heart. Very often I weep at how far she goes to teach her preschoolers the most important things in life. I’m a little sad because I wasn’t even able to do that for my own children.

What do these two blogs have in common? Books and reading. The thing that keeps the blood coursing through my body. They are teachers who love books.

Books in the den

When I was filling out my advanced directive they asked when I would consider the quality of my life no longer viable and be ready for it to end. It’s when I can no longer read or listen to a book. If there are no books in heaven, I’m not going.

Books in the kitchen

I was supposed to go blind before I was 21. Fooled them. There were no audio books then and I wanted to read…anything and everything. Then science created contact lenses and saved a lot of vision for me. More time to read. Yay!

There are children in the good homes with no books who are not being read to by their parents. When it comes to gifts for the children in my life, books are the only thing I give unless it’s something I’ve made. So many children don’t have a Jennie to awaken in them a love of books, art and music. Dr. French tries to do that for his college age students. I’m not a fan of his genre but definitely of his love of reading, writing, kindness and honesty. So, I had to be honest.

Books saying goodbye… maybe.

Do you ever regret a comment you left or have second thoughts about leaving it?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

A Different Me

I’ve been trying to visit new blogs when I get a chance; to get new perspective and a little brain stimulation. I tend to visit blogs that many of my readers visit because I think we may have something in common. The cleaning out processes I’ve been on has not failed to touch so many in blog land.

When I read Luanne’s post quite late in the game, it had me looking at what I was doing in a whole new light.

So, I started hunting through my photographs to see if I could find any that had me wearing something I truly loved. A dress I had made for me in a soft pink while living in Taiwan was a favorite for a while.

A different me. NCO club celebrating a friends adoption of a baby.

I was never one to be stylish. In school, I bought skirts in brown, black, and navy with several shirts to go with each. Basic and inexpensive. I always have had to buy my own clothing unless my mother made it for me. Mom was quite the seamstress and I was always proud to wear anything she made. Sometimes it was too fancy for school but I wore it anyway.

Light blue taffeta with scallops. Where are my glasses. Sister feeling uncomfortable in her homemade dress and petticoat.

Another Easter Sunday with new outfits all around. Mom even made the suit but the littlest brother wouldn’t stand for photo.

In one of incarnations during this lifetime, I studied color and image consulting. It took a year of intense training as it was extremely individualized. It was my favorite occupation except for one small hiccup. I was supposed to dress at least one or two steps up from my clients. That just wasn’t who I was. I loved finding the perfect colors to go with a person’s personality and energy level and help them find their style.

Mine would always be pragmatic and basic with a little fun in the mix. I had a number of outfits that I felt really suited my personalities. Most of us have many facets to our personality that can be expressed through our clothing.

I tended toward monochromatic outfits for a more slimming look

When the day came that I no longer did consulting or worked outside the home, I put all my special and well cared for clothes in a suitcase and carried them down to the Safe House auxiliary store for women who needed nice things to find jobs. I still miss the feeling I had when I wore them. The dressing up and feeling like I was seen.

As an older woman it’s easy to become invisible. That works for us sometime but I have my moments when the little cap I must wear most of the time is what draws a tiny bit of notice so I can give my best smile and engage in a happy exchange with a stranger.

 

Sipping tea in my trusty cap.

Today, the exchange was over the greeting card section at the market where a woman laughed out loud at one and I was approachable enough in my cap to share the laugh with her. I suggested she have a fun day as she walked on. My caps, cane and crooked smile must do the job of pretty skirts and shirts now. They tell people if you are friendly or not. The smile is still getting better after eight years of paralysis and I can now make my eyes smile a bit better too. A smile is always your best outfit.

How about you? Do you have a photo of you in a favorite outfit? That applies to men as well.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goose

It has been the oddest week. Monday started out playing musical cars with my daughter as we had used mine all weekend. She was on her way to work at 6:30 a.m. I pulled out and waited for her to pull out next, then I would back into the driveway as she went off to drive to the MAX for the rest of her trip into downtown.

I looked back and her headlights started flashing. Rolling down my window and backing up a bit, she got out of her car to tell me her battery was dead and her car wouldn’t start. The mechanic where she’d recently had work done on the car mentioned that it was weak and suggested replacing it. There would be no more procrastinating. She ended up taking my car to the MAX and picking up a battery on her way home.

It’s still pretty for a 1997 Olds Bravada.

I must say, I was impressed with her tenacity to struggle with the bolts that held the battery in place; hunting for the tools she needed in the dark and cold to get the job done.

The next morning, I was cautious as she started her car after I pulled out to let her head to the MAX but off she went. I put mine back in the driveway. We are not allowed to park in the street which makes sense to me because they are narrow and emergency vehicles need easy access. Ten minutes later, my daughter was back in the driveway. What was wrong now? She got out of the car and came inside but she wasn’t alone.

She witnessed a medium sized dog running around the streets of our neighborhood dragging its leash behind. What could have happened to its person? So, she pulled her car in ahead of the dog and called it to her. This sweet thing came willingly and once she had it in the car, she brought it home for me to figure out the next step as she hurried to catch the light rail.

I did what any dog mom would do, I fed her and spoke soft sweet words to her. She was curious about everything including the chunk of ham from which I had just cut a piece. She was tall enough to reach to top of the kitchen counter to retrieve it herself so I quickly put it back in the fridge and sat to post an ad in our neighborhood site with a fuzzy photo and my phone number.

Where’s the food?

She had no tags nor name attached and was not going to settle down so I quickly dressed and put her leash back on. After giving her a few moments to wander my tiny backyard, we hopped into my car and I began the search for someone searching.

Riding shotgun. I could have kept this sweet girl but she wanted her own people.

It didn’t take long after a couple of stops to ask a neighbor or two if they were missing a dog or knew of one, to find a car slowly driving up and down roads randomly. I flashed my headlights at the car and it stopped. A young man (by my standards) got out and came to my window on the passenger side. Dog was in the back seat. I asked if he was looking for a dog. He was. It was his parents’ dog and her name was Goose! She jumped into the front seat as soon as she saw him and responded to her name. Goose was quite strong and I could see her easily pulling someone over in her playful puppiness. She had apparently seen something that made her run after it and off went the chase. Goose was finally back where she belonged and my daughter was relieved no humans were left lying in the street injured somewhere. Another rescue with successful results.

Is your week going according to plan or have you also had things pop up unexpectedly?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

One Thing

What comes immediately to your mind when you hear that phrase, ‘one thing’? Ok, now you can keep reading.

You know that old phrase “one thing leads to another”? Last weekend was a prime example of how we get lost in what we are doing and can be easily led astray.

Our Saturday chore was to try to make some sense of the kitchen pantry while incorporating my daughter’s dry goods in with mine. I’ve done that with each family member that moved in for a time. Who knew that this activity would become a wanderlust? We emptied out EVERYTHING! Then I washed down the shelves and we took stock of what was there.

It took all day to clean out and rearrange.

If you think pickled foods and stuff in glass will last forever if unopened, have a second think. So, I opened and dumped things, rinsing out glass jars and putting them in a recycle bin. My heart did a thud seeing the waste. I find it abhorrent. It all looked fine last I looked. Quite the wakeup call here.

All years past the use by dates. Too sad. I hate waste.

As we took a short break, we watched another episode of Marie Kondo’s Netflix shows to keep us encouraged while we had a hot bowl of the Matzo Ball soup, I’d made the night before with lots of garlic, leftover turkey and noodles to chase away the winter germs. Then we watched natures show of beautiful snow showers.

Once everything was placed in systematic order, ‘genius’ here decides to pull out everything from the liquor cupboard and see what’s there. Some was mine, my daughter’s and my sister’s. I played the game ‘what one thing is unlike the other’ and that led to cleaning the stove top. While I was at it with a vengeance, my daughter, seeing all the lovely liqueurs on the floor, thought it would be lovely to make a quick run to the grocery for ice cream. You see the link here, right?

Sorting and separating out what doesn’t belong

What are these doing down here with the wine and liqueurs?

Reds for some friends, white for others and the rest for ice cream. Yum

Liqueurs and ice cream go together and we needed to be rewarded for our hard work and the organizing of such wonderful goodness. It would appear that I’m quite the lush but the liquor has been there longer than some of the pickled foods I had to toss, some much, much longer. So, in the event of an apocalypse, you know now what will stay good and what won’t. Forget the food and keep the booze.

14-year-old stove but at least it’s clean now. One thing leads to another.

Next is the tea and spice cabinet. Oh my word, that could be problematic. I think the teas will need their own cabinet so what will have to go? Hmmm.

Many of the blogs I have been reading in the last couple of weeks are reverberating the same theme. Everyone seems to be clearing clutter and purging excess. Most people wait till spring to do these things. What pushes us to do it after the first of the year? Do you stockpile anything?

Happy Valentines Day everyone. Have a little loaded ice cream to celebrate.

 

Oops, wrong holiday. I think it’s time they go somewhere else

From my heart to yours,

From my heart to yours

Marlene Herself

 

A Shoehorn

The line between a hoarder and a creative collector is very delicate. I’m beginning to see how wobbly I walk that line. It may have to do with the intention behind it. The last few weeks in the process of moving my daughter into my house has had me looking at that line a lot more closely.

Still sorting and shoveling in the sewing room

I’ve emptied a closet full of crafting and fabric tubs, as well as the linen closet to make room for my daughter. She brought her bed, linens, dresser, while I provided an emptied bookshelf. Everything on the bookshelf had to go…somewhere.

We have both moved so much stuff last month that it’s giving each of us pause. Boxes have been filled for donation. She sold most of her furniture with only two cherished pieces in storage for now. More will be sold at the summer yard sale.

I managed to give away the queen bed and frame that was my guest bed to a young couple. My daughter’s box springs came to the house, her old mattress went to the dump. My sister and I took care of that. We are so proud of ourselves for all the lifting and maneuvering of heavy obstacles at our age and in our condition. My sister loves trips to the dump; chatting up everyone who works there with her friendly nature. Couldn’t have done this without her.

When expected help didn’t show up, my daughter and I looked at each other and decided we would manage on our own to move the last heavy item. Then there was the cleaning of 3 years’ worth of living in 400 square feet with appliances older than my daughter. We also had the free use of a moving van to move her stuff in storage closer to my house where she will have easy access to go through and continue to purge. We didn’t need a truck that large by any stretch of the imagination but she had fun driving it just to say she could do it. There is something very empowering in doing things you didn’t think you could do before.

We were both so tired that meals were catch-as-catch-can. To be honest, I didn’t know how exhausted I was getting until it was all done. Then it caught up with me big time. I went down for a week and could do nothing but sleep. Eating wasn’t going well either. So, I’ve been taking some gentle time for myself and doing next to nothing. Trying to read and leave comments was a short-term project most days and I’m not sure I was totally coherent nor were my comments. After a fair amount of rest with some exercise for good measure, we are both beginning to feel human again. The next move is up to someone else.

Sewing room shuffle

Do you ever have the tendency to push your limits too far? What do you do to recover? Did you find yourself purging excess in this first month of the year?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself