Looking for answers to life's questions

Roadblocks

I’ve signed up for a writing challenge through Daily Om as a gift to myself. Or maybe it’s another way to torture myself by adding one more thing to my to-do list.

My son’s Gracie loves Christmas too. Bring more paper.

The first prompt is about roadblocks. I’m aware enough to know that the only real roadblocks to anything are those that I place there. I have a closet full of them. I can take out whatever works that day.

We don’t want to take it down yet.

Usually, I get out the biggest obstacle. My lack of  formal education. I barely made it through high school partly due to another roadblock; my visual impairment. Textbooks and required reading were often printed so small that the letters would swim on the page after a short time.

A favorite ornament hand stitched by a friend. She never goes back in the box.

I made another roadblock of the fact that I spent my childhood caring for my siblings rather than on my schoolwork. I’m still trying to fill in all the gaps from a gypsy life and education.

Don’t go yet! The closet is still full of roadblocks. I like the one that says ‘my sister needs me’ as she is healing nicely after her lung transplant. She has a friend doing care giving and all that’s needed from me is telephone support while in isolation. Just so you know, that’s a sneaky way to slip in an update.

Zooming with my happy sister. She’s looking good.

I have more to-do’s than hours in a day and I can all but guarantee that most people have many similar roadblocks to getting done things they really want to do. Christmas was all over my cutting table to create a nifty roadblock to completing my quilts. I cleared it off before going to bed last night. Unplugging Facebook and the TV while I sit in the light of the Christmas tree writing has helped to eliminate another roadblock.

A very old and favorite that says it all.

I’m trying to be more mindful of those minefields buried deep on my path to any success. I was not groomed for success. It doesn’t come naturally. I was brought up to be hardworking, honest and ordinary. Big aspirations were considered “silly.” I think the parents were trying to shield us from disappointment. That has become a major roadblock I didn’t even realize was there.

I needed a FLOUR pot to transplant these little darlings. Bob’s Red Mill lines them with plastic and will do till I can go shopping this spring, maybe.

I think it could be helpful to look at all the areas in life where we set up these obstacles. Keeping cookies out on the table does not help my plan to drop extra fluff from my midsection. So, I got all dressed and ready to go for my walk when daylight finally shows itself. One roadblock averted. More to go. That’s what you do with roadblocks. Find a good way around them or eliminate them.

Pizzelli’s

I have 52 weeks of prompts on this agenda. How many of them will I find roadblocks to navigate? How about you? Are you aware of your roadblocks?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

My sister has never, ever been conventional or ordinary. Around 16 or 17 she left home for good without finishing school. They kicked her out. She was seen kissing another girl. Back in the early 70’s, that did not fit in anyone’s box of okay.

The end result was she left home because the reception to that was less kind than what the school handed down. She left with a friend and joined a traveling carnival. Who does that kind of thing? Really? Only my sister, who I love with all my heart. I was out of the country during that time so I was unaware of how her life was falling apart. Somehow, she keeps landing on her feet.

She has been living with friends the last few years. That  has allowed her to have a menagerie of dogs around to spoil. Only one is hers, the rest belong to her friends. All the dogs sleep with my sister and depend on her for their meals.

Feeding the dogs. Notice the only one with a leash is my sister’s green tether to the oxygen in the other room.

We were treated as well as the dogs this Thanksgiving. Suzy Q made the small turkey and potatoes, etc. We brought pies and rolls. She had to watch her intake to keep her weight in check. It turned out to be very important.

December 2, I received a text from my sister at 3:45 a.m. She had just received a call to go to San Francisco. The domino effect was in play. We waited and waited. Finally, the medical airbus was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Then, there was more waiting. Finally, a text that she was in S.F. at the UCSF hospital. Then a lot more waiting. Surgery took the entire night and into the next morning. Twelve hours of waiting and praying. We also prayed for the donor of those precious lungs and the family.

Another new adventure on a medical airbus. Oxygen onboard

Now my sister has new lungs to take a fresh new breath of life. We wait to see if they get along with each other. There will be three months of healing before she can go back home. Her good friend, a retired nurse is with her for the duration.

Finally awake and looking good.

How do you repay someone who gives up three months of their life to help save your sister’s life? How do you let the donor’s family know how much the gift has meant?

Breathing on her own with gifted lungs

We have had some sleep deprived nights and filled in with a nap to keep functioning around here. There will be a new normal for this Christmas season. My sister received the gift of life and is now on a new adventure. I am certain she will make this adventure exciting as has been her entire existence. The staff apparently commented that she was the strongest lung transplant patient they have ever had.

Thank you for bearing with my being so distracted. The year 2020 had a lot that was hard to deal with but as far as I can see, there has been a great deal to be grateful for as well. Has it been a mixed bag for you also?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Autumn/Winter?

There seems to be some confusion as to what season we are in at this moment in time. I was walking my neighborhood like I do at least 5 days a week. I can do more of that in spring and summer. I love looking at the changes in a neighborhood I see everyday. Looking with fresh eyes is best if you can’t change location during these Covid controlled days.

Brilliant red and some green. But it’s really Autumn

I put up amber colored lights on my front porch this year for a touch of fall to be used through Thanksgiving. Then of course I will put up my colored Christmas lights but still not sure whether we will do any further decorating. Some of my neighbors seem to be in a hurry for winter or at least for Christmas.

Wait! What! There is no snow here nor has Thanksgiving arrived yet.

This plant thinks it’s spring and quite cheery.

I’m not far behind but still have too many things to accomplish to rush things. I’m truly enjoying the autumn right now. We’ve had some massive rain, which we love but the drier moments are stunning.

Further up the street is this delicious golden orb of a tree

There was enough dry time to trim my rosebushes and the rosemary along with trees and shrubs in front. I’ve received mail after sending out hearts so I know they have reached their destination.

I keep a list in my phone and in a notebook my blogging friend Alys gave me for my creative projects. Even though I keep getting things done, the list keeps getting longer.

Is someone adding to it in those few hours when I’m sleeping? I’ve been so busy with the making, so now it’s time to do what Alys taught me and clean up before the next project gets underway. She was a lifesaver in the organizational department. Now I know where everything is and waste less time.

One of 10 so far

Two done, 8 to go which includes Santa. Then it will become a quilt if I’m determined enough.

There was even time to read a short book that has been on my headboard waiting way too long. Everything has it’s right time and I had a night where sleep just eluded me. The book fell on my head wanting to be read and I couldn’t put it down. I’ll get back to the sewing tomorrow. Maybe.

Autumn or winter? Which is it now? Do you have a distinct marker of change or do they blend?

 

From my heart to yours,

 

Marlene Herself

Yes it’s really Halloween and I’m wishing everyone a safe and satisfying day. I was checking my comments late last night and saw this message from WordPress.

9 Year Anniversary Achievement

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!You registered on WordPress.com 9 years ago.Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

Made one for us and one for my son

It’s shocking to me that I have been here this long. Is it time to retire now? I’ve given it some thought since so many that I started out with have already done so. I still try to keep in touch with them. I mailed out three more hearts yesterday to former bloggers. I want them to know they may be gone from here but are never forgotten and I miss their input.

We weren’t sure Halloween was going to happen around here as it’s a large community of about 550 manufactured homes and many are older and unwilling to open their doors to strangers. There are a few with children and this year a list was started in our community of those giving out candy. I am one of 52 who signed up. I’m a full mile at the bottom of the hill and these kids and parents still have to walk back up those hills. Quite the price to pay for a little candy.

My daughter and I slipped on our latex gloves and put wrapped chocolate into treat bags and twist tied them shut. Then they were placed in the cauldron to put on the porch in front of the door so I can see through the glass screen who comes and goes in their costumes. We never connect and each child can take one bag of candy without touching anything else. I have orange lights strung along the porch so the kids can see where they are going. We have rarely had more than 10-15 children coming this far down. I’m hoping the map list brings more children this year.

Being safe for the kids

Just so you know, I have not learned to manage the new WP block method and do not like it so if you see something odd here it’s because this is a change I haven’t learned to deal with…yet.

Change is Inevitable. Growth is Optional~John Maxwell

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Little Heart

Life has been a three-ring circus for the last month. Spending an extra amount of time getting ready for my son’s visit that was rudely interrupted by local fires and a outrageous amount of smoke was not a great way to start off my 72 year. We had some rain and then a short respite from the smoke.

It came back but not nearly as bad but enough so that outdoor activities for me were curtailed until the inversion layer lifted. In the meantime, my sister came to spend a couple of nights so my daughter could take her to a neighboring community for yet another test my sister needed to have done prior to a three day round trip to San Francisco.

Suzy Q and her very caring, competent friend made the 10-hour drive from my house to San Francisco through some more outrageous smoke to talk to a lung transplant team. Always the intrepid adventurer, my sister is taking on the possibility of getting new lungs while there is time. According to her doctors, her lungs have 6-20 months left. But she is a good candidate for new ones though only 15% of the population has her blood type and only 20% of lungs are viable. Not a lot to be optimistic about but we are giving it our best. So, you see there has been a lot occupying my mind and heart lately. It’s interesting that she spent the beginning of her years here in Oregon in the Forest Service doing a lot of back burning to stop forest fires.

This is what it took to get there and refilled to get back

I have been keeping busy all along to distract my mind from more troublesome thoughts. Perusing Pinterest one day I found something that spoke to me so deeply that I had to give it a try. Paper pieced hearts. I was told it would be too hard for me to learn but decided the struggle would be worth it. It’s my form of puzzle. The results were worth learning a new technique and I get to send out little bits of my heart.

Fabric goes on the back and you sew from the front!

I’m also going to show you what the end result looked like for the challenge we were given at my sewing/quilting group since we may not get back there again this year. I started and finished it right away but have been keeping it under wraps until our January meeting that won’t happen now.

Another challenge for my brain. Table Runner.
Back has all the colors of the front

These are the kinds of things that keep me out of bars and off the streets. Everyone has a vice and those, along with reading too many books at once and trying to get blogs read and one written are mine.

Are you finding ways to share a little bit of heart in your life?

From my heart to yours,

I’m always thinking of you

Marlene Herself

Notebooks

Happy Fall everyone. I’m so ready for it.  Time for a change. Agreed?

Cathy at nanacathy posted about her notebooks recently. That led to an online discussion when I said mine were not so pretty, mostly utilitarian. I have more notebooks in my house than dishes. She challenged me to show them. Since my children insisted they not be left for the fire to burn,  I had many in one location; the floor of the car. Do you know how heavy years of journals are?

A box of large journals and a couple of small notebooks

Some years writing was sporadic, others more consistent. I told my daughter they should just be shredded and forgotten. After all, my journals were full of frustrations about my behavior and everyone else’s in my life. When I looked back at my writing, I realized that I often complained about the same thing.  Then I realized it was finally time to make changes and the journals were for planning a new attitude. They helped me see my patterns and come up with ways to change those patterns.

I’m a person with little proper sense of time. Not like the kind where you are late for everything. I will never be late. It’s rude to think someone’s time is less valuable than your own. If you ask me when something happened in my life, I often can’t tell you. I have to look it up. Even if it was last week. Time is fluid for me so keeping it on paper helps ground me.

Cathy also keeps a daily planner. I had stopped doing that when I got a smart phone. It remembered and reminded me of everything. My grocery list went to my phone because I always lost my paper list in the store. That still holds true. When I decided to go back to see when I’d last had a haircut or a doctor’s appointment, everything but major holidays were GONE!

Now I keep a small daily planner and Cathy gave me new ways to use it. I’m making a brief note of anything I might need to remember later. It’s quicker than looking back through the journal like the day our city caught fire and we had to evacuate and another note when we were able to finally come home. It’s working out quite well and the planner takes less room to store.

Not much going on.

I have a separate small journal that is used nightly, no matter what to write what I am most grateful for that day. Just one line on a page to focus on what is really the blessing in my day. I can expound on that in the nightly dump journal which is only one page long.

Newest gratitude journal

I am still doing morning pages though sometimes it’s only one side of a notebook page. Other times it will be all three pages as I work through the days challenges and give them some order. Then I wander out for a cuppa and watch those plans go right in the bucket. It gives me something to laugh about at night.

 

Do you keep notebooks and are yours pretty or serviceable?

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open” ~ Natalie Goldberg

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Deep Breath

What I’d like right now more than anything else is to take a deep breath and read a good book. Seems like life has other ideas. A deep breath is not a good idea and though I have a good book, several in fact at hand to read; life has decided to write one all over me this month.

Birthday flowers from friend and fellow blogger. Thank you again.

I don’t quite know where to start and may end up backtracking if I lose my way here. I managed to have another birthday. Not normally anything to make a fuss over but I don’t take birthdays for granted anymore. My son and his lady made it a point to be here this year in spite of Covid. The kids (yes, they are kids to me) know that life holds no guarantees.

Boccone Dolche to share gift from my daughter and lunch for all.

A very dear blogging friend and artist passed to the next level of life on her 71st birthday. Blogger and friend Alys at Gardening Nirvana wrote a most beautiful tribute that I wouldn’t even try to surpass here. Pauline was more than a friend I’ve never met, she was a mentor and adviser during the most trying of life’s challenges. I will never stop missing her presence here but know she is still with me when I call to her.

Pauline and Siddy

Before the kids arrived, I was working fast and furious to get my home inspection ready. Inspections may take a bit longer to get done right now but other than cleaning up the debris from high winds and ash, the house is quite ready. The winds came up on Labor day and forced me to take down the flag put up at sunrise early. Right after taking it down, the power went out until the next afternoon. So no AC or fans and the windows shut tight against the blowing dust and debris, we munched on anything not in the fridge or freezer. Wonderful workers finally found the problem the next afternoon.

Quiet time hard chores

Pressure washing can be fun until the next day.

I’d sanded and repainted the front porch steps and started on the back. My daughter and I teamed up this year to run the pressure washer on the steps, deck and driveway. She thinks it’s a lot of fun but her whole body hurt for days after.

While the kids were here, they completed a project I’ve wanted done since moving into my place; painting the underside of my carport. I had the carport re-roofed but signs of the leaks were still visible. It was back breaking work but they did the job with a loaned paint sprayer in one day. I was almost some help.

My daughter and I are at an airport motel right now. We all shared a room so the kids could catch an early morning flight home after their birthday visit with me. It seemed the wisest place to set up camp and wait. Going home wasn’t a sensible option. We left our house at 4:00 pm and it took us 3 ½ hours to drive the 20 miles to the airport. Our entire area was at a stage 2 evacuation with fire slowly encroaching. The worst part is air quality. You can’t take a deep breath because right now it’s at a hazardous level. The airport hotel is in no danger of fire but the air quality isn’t better. I’m to stay indoors, not exert myself and not breathe deeply.

We are not alone. There are THOUSANDS out here with us wondering what will happen next. I’m confident that the fire will eventually get pushed back and under control but my heart aches for the many who have lost everything with fires up and down the entire west coast. Keep good thoughts for all of them, please.

View from my porch

Flat scary skies

In the meantime, I’m going to find the books I packed from my waiting to be read stack and get started on one. I have some hand embroidery to do while I listen to an audible book as well.

Are you able and getting time to take a deep breath?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Right Book

Happy Book Lover’s Day, Everyone. I wrote this post a couple of days ago but it sat here waiting for…something. Now I know what it was. Book lovers day.

Very old bunny with old books in old ladies house.

We had blessed rain for the first time in over a month. It wasn’t very much but I went on my front porch to observe and express my gratitude. There would be no walk that morning (maybe later) so I had a few moments before my daughter got up to make her breakfast, read our lesson from Pam Grouts version of the Course in Miracles to grab the original version and read it from there. The original is a hard slog to comprehend but I like to compare the points of view.

While I was pulling the book off the shelf, I noticed another that seemed out of place. It looked unread. Hmmm. I pulled it off the shelf and saw that it was a small Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Where did that come from and when did I buy it? Inside the cover said it was copyrighted in 2012. It appeared to not have been read. As I looked through the table of contents, I realized that I needed this book NOW. It was meant for me to read it at this time.

I think I planned to donate it so it hid.

This happens to me a lot. I will peruse the bookstore and a book will stand out, sending a signal that it needs to go home with me. Some of you will understand this and those who don’t will know my varied therapist has verified that I’m not certifiable. Books call to me and often I don’t get to them right away but when the time comes, they wave again or jump to a different place so I notice them.

Our public library has been closed for months now so I’m grateful to have a stash of my own, no longer needing to apologize for hoarding books. That was the plan all along. Right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Our library doesn’t have all the books I want to read most of the time and I’m a very slow reader. I usually have to renew the book or pay fines. My library at home is substantial and when the moment it right, the book appears.

I have given away so much of my personal library because I needed to make room in my home for other family members to shoehorn their things in while living with me. I love my family but I miss those books. Looking for one I know was on my shelves a year ago and not finding when I wanted to read it made me realize that very few will wander out of my door again. People ask what was my favorite book. I honestly can’t answer that question. Each has value in its own time. Some have resonated so deeply that I purchased two or three copies.

P. S. I found a red dot on the spine while I was reading this Chicken Soup book that I place on some of my books to indicate they have been read. Another blessing of old age. I can read an old book and it’s brand new to me again. 

During one of my many moves, I gave away my copy of Rachel Naomi Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom. I regret it every time I see the title. It’s a staple reference book. Silly me. I think I’ll get another copy gently used.

Some books are worth reading often. This is one.

‘A house without books is like a room without windows’ ~Horace Mann

Do you keep a stash of books for emergencies like pandemics or rely on your library?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Answer

I’m always in search of the answer to so many questions in life but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to give up blogging. I made lots of excuses.

It takes so much of my time and energy was a big one. Summer is so full of other chores that each summer I struggle to find presence of mind to write intelligently.

Remember this mystery plant?

Surprise! Mystery Potatoes.

Right after my last post in June, my heat pump stopped working. It didn’t make a sound. Just died a quick silent death. I have insurance on my appliances which saved me a great deal in the end but the time line was three weeks long and we had to tough out an excessively hot week. It took two different service men to find the problem. I was a puddle in the floor unable to think or do. At first, I thought it was just the heat that was slowing me down.

Yesterday I received a card from a former blogger. We have kept in touch and even met once. Jan from momermom said someone she knew passed on the phrase “Covid Fatigue” that really resonated with both of us. I’m not sure where it came from but after almost four months of home quarantine, I found myself unable to sustain the desire to sew, write, or do basic chores.

A tired neighbor’s car. She’s obviously a nurse

We worry about every exposure and at night, sleep is fitful and brief. We can’t plan anything or hang out with friends unless it’s just a few and we’ve taken “precautions.” Everyone is trying to find ways to stay upbeat, but the fact is, it’s taking its toll on us.

I was going to put just these 8 in a wall hanging. Have been persuaded to do a 9th.

I  recently had a nice call from another friend. Linne who blogged at A  Random Harvest and she spoke to this feeling as well with ideas and encouragement. Today I read another post from Sarah at Art Expedition  that addressed how she was handling the stress of this same issue. Another blogging friend, Sue at Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary has also found this to be relevant. She’s offered much encouragement.  Most of us are using as much humor as we can muster. I’ve read through book six in my cozy mystery series that was a mix of mystery, quilting and flat funny, devouring them like they were cookies. Well, yes, I’ve been devouring cookies too. Sarah has nothing on me there.

Albizia and hydrangea need trimming.

This weekend my daughter found one of our local breakfast places was doing take out so on our way home from grocery shopping, we ordered over the phone and picked up something different than we have been eating for the last four months. A simple pleasure but it helped. I’m still not getting a whole lot of sewing projects done but the work outside is coming along nicely and everything should be ready for the four-point inspection on each house in a few weeks. That adds a bunch of stress though now that the heat is back to normal hot, I think it will go well.

Since I realize now that I’m not just being lazy and this fatigue is something so many are experiencing, I’m relaxing a bit more between pushes to get it all done in time. Now to see if we can get the stubborn pressure washer started without pulling out my shoulder.

Tiny new hydrangea variety.

Are you itching to go play with your friends on your regular playgrounds?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I’m letting it all hang out here today. I’m normally an optimistic person but this Covid crap has been pushing my optimism to its last edge. Thank goodness for my monthly therapy appointment. This wonderful woman gets paid a little bit to help me live a full life as I face my mortality. I can’t afford to slide into the well of hopelessness.

It starts out with white blooms and by summers end they are purple.

The first thing I did was bring her a present to make her laugh. It worked. She has the best laugh I’ve ever heard and it makes me so happy to make someone laugh. She got the joke and her laugh filled the near empty building. I ordered this after the TP crisis.

I brought her one roll of this.

After that I unloaded my bag of frustrations.

I’ve been locked away far too long for this extroverted introvert. I love people and there have been so few around during this sheltering in place isolation. I struggled to make myself write, sew, garden or much of anything. Turns out it’s not the best time to be on a rigid diet either.

Book one of this series. I’ve read through book four. I can’t put them down.

I did finish four cozy mysteries in two weeks time.  Doc said many of her clients were feeling the same. I explained that one of my friends had become so lonely she was talking to Alexa on a daily basis. She would ask Alexa questions and wait for answers. Quite the learning experience. I don’t have an Alexa so we came up with other ideas to help me snap out of my funk.

Can anyone tell me what I’m growing here?

First, she had me mask and glove up and head for the bookstore. My daughter freaked out at the idea. I took all possible precautions.  The mall and bookstore echoed hollow. So few were there. Walking it helped anyway. Then it was suggested I write a post about it as so many others were struggling with this as well. Another block overcome.  Though my daughter is living with me, she’s a hermit so I’m still mostly alone.

I have been In Search Of so many things on my blog. Finding people that I can talk to about the bigger picture in life is at the top of my list. Without outside relationships, we can lose inspiration and feedback. I have acquaintances I can talk about some things but not have those deeper more serious conversations.

My daughter finished this. Her philosophy.

Good conversations were hard to find before we were in lockdown, now they are even more difficult. How many people are excited to talk about quantum physics or secular spirituality?

Love in the mist playing with the oregano and thyme.

I have a new 25 year old neighbor renting the place next door from her uncle. She’s still in college to become a practicing behavioral therapist for autistic children. I’ve warned her she will be asked a zillion questions and she’s willing to answer in exchange for gardening tips. It’s a start and I am willing to learn from others while I share over the fence what I’ve learned in life. I keep walking the neighborhood and talking to anyone in hopes of expanding my bubble about life.

My wonky Dogwood bloomed later than all the rest in the neighborhood.

Are you finding intelligent, inspiring conversations while still isolating in place?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself