Looking for answers to life's questions

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

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

 

 

Plants

It’s been the busiest, craziest summer in so many ways. I’m supposed to be slowing down at this time in life. I’m thinking that as we age, most of us realize we are running short on time and want to stuff as much life and action into what’s left rather than just take it easy.

I have taken a hiatus from my sewing fun and friends as well as blogging to concentrate as much time as possible to getting chores around here completed. Once the carport was repaired, we concentrated on purging, gardening and getting expenses managed so my daughter could afford a car that ran to more than the mechanic. Mission accomplished. More on that next time.

This is the 1997 that’s finally going to get sold, hopefully

Next came getting 3 pickup loads of yard mulch. My sister volunteered her pickup and we did our best to off load it with a little help. My niece looks 12 but is 20 and worked like a trooper on the second load. I’ll tell you about the third load later too. The mulch goes around the plants so they don’t require so much water. The front is getting an update as well.

Rosemary has been trimmed back, lavender harvested so very early and the Albizzia tree that my son bought a couple years ago and planted has had several trims this summer just to get around it. I did not know it would be so large and unwieldy. It’s not in a good spot for the size it will get. Should have done more research.

Albizia is an invasive species in Hawaii

My Aster has started blooming three weeks early! Never before has it bloomed before September first.

Asters blooming in August

Asters later

I have a new plant given me by my friend, Sabine and it’s showing off it’s first bloom. I truly love being in the yard and playing in the dirt as long as it’s not very hot or sunny. I don’t see all that well in the bright sunlight even after getting a new prescription and glasses.

 

Pineapple Lily

Things started out well enough though I noticed I was having difficulty seeing clearly when looking down at the ground. I was using a shovel to lift the stepping stones so I could move them out. That job has not been completed yet since I found another kind of plant in the process.

The steps were buried under the ground cover. Time for a face lift.

 

A different look for me too.

You have heard of the Face Plant I’m certain. I thought I did marvelous in staggering over the shovel handle on my way down and only winding up with some serious road rash, bent my new glasses but no broken bones of any nature. All the padding makes me bounce well.

Face Plant with road rash

Since I don’t care much for that kind of plant and don’t want any more of them, I called my daughter to drive me to the eye care clinic. She was more than happy to leave work early on a Friday. It took the new optometrist three tries at a prescription due to childhood optic nerve damage but looking down is still a problem. So, no shovels will be left laying down. I prefer my plants upright, thank you very much. It did slow things down a bit but I’m almost back in business now. More to this story coming. I won’t dawdle this time, promise. I’ve missed you all.

My birthday t-shirt. So very true

Welcome to September. Have you had any unusual plants in your garden?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

What defines success?

I no longer have a clear answer. We spent days sifting through boxes and tubs with a brutality that neither my daughter nor I have ever embraced; purging two households into one manageable one. If there were duplicates one of us released the copy. I have a fully stocked kitchen and some of my daughter’s had seen better days.

Dogwood blooming finally.

So, we decided to do a yard sale. I know, I can hear the “I told you so’s” from here. It was a lot of hard work and my house still looks like a tornado hit. I have let go of so many hopes here but each time I put something on the pile, I felt lighter.

Made bowl cozies for the sale. Sold 4

It turned out to be a perfect day for it. I had missed the community yard sale due to my carport repair and we are so far out of traffic’s way that I had hoped a lot of free advertising would help. It didn’t.

My driveway is 60 ft. long and 13 ft. wide. I borrowed a few small tables from a neighbor. When I returned them the next day, I paid with homemade banana and pumpkin bread. We had two bookcases filled and more tables loaded our driveway. We brought forward the table and red umbrella from the back deck to draw in attention. I had extra help enlisted to keep eyes on shoppers and answer questions.

She’s making progress.

Was the sale a success? Depends on how you look at it. We sold almost nothing with the top shoppers being my sister and Crystal. One or two other items found new homes and we gave away as much as possible. I met a few neighbors and had nice conversations with others that did come by.

Vintage set along with lines will be listed online.

It turned out to be a fun afternoon with my sister, niece, daughter and fellow blogging friend, Crystal sitting around the table talking about everything imaginable. We had a pizza lunch and kept hoping for someone to stop by. We are one mile down in the park so not a lot of traffic here.

Orange flowers gifted by Sabine @ https://incahootswithmuddyboots.com/

What was left was sorted the next day into boxes. I loaded those that were ready into my car and when I couldn’t get anymore in, drove it to the donation center. We’ll load it up again this weekend. As soon as we can get an appointment at SCRAP, we will be dropping off more crafting supplies.

Our one customer with two of us trying to sell her something.

We lightened our load so my daughter can have a much smaller storage unit. At some point it would be nice not to have any at all but this kind of purging takes time. I still have a lot of velour, flannels and fleece as well as dressmaking material. It will all find a new home…I hope.

I’d call that a success. How about you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

*Two huge bags of fleece were donated to a neighbor making dog coats today and Friends of the Library can’t take my books. Onward.

The summer has started out with freezing cold and then oven temperatures then back to cold again. It’s in transition, just like many of us. Summer brings so many more projects than hours in a day as many of you know from experiences of your own. No more leisurely moments under a cozy blanket reading and writing. Summer always brings hard work even though it’s deeply enjoyable.

These are gone now but so pretty I wanted to include them again.

Mine has had an explosion of work, starting with getting my carport repaired. My son connected with someone who is somewhat family, (long story) and this sweet young man squeezed me into his very busy schedule while giving me the friends and family discount. (Still not cheap) It turned out there was a lot more rot and incorrect construction than originally anticipated. I expected that and made provisions for it.

Those kids (to this old lady) worked darn hard and did an outstanding job. I painted the plywood white before they put it up and the new support beams the color of the house so they would fade into the background. They should have been put there when the carport was built 14 years ago. I’ve had to wait 5 years to get it done but the next owner will feel so much safer now.

 

We are coming into inspection season in our park so my list is long. I have a yard sale planned for the last week of June to raise money for our animal shelters and lighten my load. I will be pressure washing my house, fence and porches then painting all that has worn down in the last year or two.

Free oregano that no one wants.

The garden is perking up nicely and several containers of green waste (weeds) have been recycled to compost. I will be painting the underside of the rest of the carport, the shed attached to the carport and some railings that succumbed to the rain this year. There are so many chores that need doing in the summer months that I almost don’t look forward to the warm weather. I don’t get as much time to write or sew. I’d like to sit under my trees with my feet in the dirt and know everything is in order. I’m sure I’ll get there by September. Maybe.

My kids say I create work for myself and then lament over the fact that I can’t get it all done in record time anymore.  I’m my own worst enemy. They may have a point.

So there you have it. My explanation of why I blog or visit your blogs rarely during the summer months. This weekend will be about getting stuff out of storage and ready for sale and donation.  I’ll try to visit again soon.

Happy Summer Solstice to you all. We will celebrate tonight wrapped up warm. It may get to 70 degrees today for a minute.

How about you? Are you finding time for things other than chores? Are you your own worst enemy or do you find the hard work creative and fulfilling?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Perfect Gifts

Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day. The list goes on. It’s even Graduation time and wedding season. This is the time of year you hear from people that never call or write, inviting you to things they know you can’t attend. It is gift giving time.

I want for nothing. My cupboards are full to the brim and my children are at wits end when they want to gift me and the same is true in reverse. We are a nation of too much stuff looking for ways to pass it on to those that are in need. Most of us are more than generous in our sharing but what do we do about our desire to gift?

Maggie Magellan hard at work.

I have found the best gifts are those of experience. My daughter’s birthday was last month and I gave her the class schedule for adult community education. I suggested she pick something she wanted to try and I would pay for it for her birthday. She chose a watercolor class. It happened to be at the same time, in the same building as the memoir writing class I’ve been wanting to take. Each Monday night for 6 weeks we go to our separate classes together. Yay!

Who needs navigation. Just follow the car in front of you.

Mother’s Day just paid us a visit and my children know better than to buy me more things. My son used my audible points to buy two books I had on my wish list. Then he put the cash in my checking account. I found a use for it.

Mother’s Day was a quandary for my daughter. She called me and said we needed a beach day. She made reservations for two nights with a great motel discount from work. It was cool, grey and internet was sketchy. Couldn’t have been better. I loaded the cooler with food for dinner and off we went through Tillamook to Newport and Nye Beach. The money my son put in my checking account gave me a bit to buy some cheese and jam at a great place along the way in Tillamook as well as ice cream at the creamery. We played all the way there and just chilled on the beach barefoot. Now that’s a good gift. So is listening to a favorite book in bed after wearing myself out walking in the ocean.

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I have a grandniece who just had a birthday earlier this month. At 18 and ready to graduate, I no longer knew what she would enjoy since we rarely connect. Smart girl that she is; with a generous heart, she posted a link to her Facebook page to donate to her local animal shelter directly. I didn’t even know you could do such things! I hope there is something similar for her graduation gift. I don’t know them well enough to pick something out.

Tillamook Creamery. Cheese and Ice Cream along with some learning

Sylvia Beach House high on the hill. Each room named for a different author. A favorite of mine.

I prefer handcrafted gifts but they are not very popular with young people. Since I’m so swamped with too much on my plate again, I’ll beg you all for ideas. My brain is on hiatus and gave no forwarding address. What do you do for such difficult gift giving situations? I’m open to all suggestions. Especially inexpensive ideas.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself