Looking for answers to life's questions

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

 

 

Silver Linings

A pandemic is nothing to sneeze at nor welcome. It’s been awful to watch the tragedy. The only thing we can do is help each other through it.

We need cozy now. Gracie has found my son’s quilt does the trick.

Even in this critical time where we are seeing the worst of the worst, people that are losing pretty much everything, lives of loved ones, even those in nursing care that were not afforded the luxury of holding a cherished hand while saying a final good bye. It’s heartbreaking.

It’s purple season

There are silver linings if you look for them.

My daughter-in-law owns a childcare business. There is no unemployment for those who own their own business but the safety of the children has to come first. The classrooms were empty for the first time in more than 39 years. She determinedly found a way to continue to pay her staff’s salaries while closed and get long overdue renovations made.

Bathrooms for the children were gutted by my son and rebuilt in way that could keep them cleaner. Kitchen dismantled and a complete paint job throughout. Floors have been leveled and foundations repaired. New durable, very cleanable floors are being put in so the children, if they do get to come back will have a fresh clean place to learn and play. The roof had been scheduled for repair by the insurance company after many storms took their toll was able to be replaced without children inside being bothered by noise. A new kitchen window is scheduled for replacement. It was the victim of a jointed ladder collapse as my son was getting on the roof.

Of course, there are no guarantees that things will get back to enough normal to not lose the whole shebang, but you have to seize the moment when it presents itself.

As for my daughter, she found she loves working from home and making sure I stay safe in all of this. Her company just figured out that this work from home thing is not so bad and they can save money down the road by having less office space. A work from home job is what she had been looking for (as do most hermits) and now it’s possible without changing jobs.

I am getting time to isolate enough to stop my sugar rush. I can’t tell you what a difference it’s making. I need a lot more rest, am sleeping better and getting more projects done because I’m more focused. Walks and all housework are harder when you pull the plug on carbs for a while so I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and just go with the slower flow. I also don’t have to worry about keeping my house company clean because no one is allowed to visit inside. I make messes when I’m creative.

Two bunnies in a neighbors yard. They are so rare to see around here.

The world needs economic stability. We all need to be able to keep that roof over our heads. There must be a way to do that without costing lives. In a time of horrendous stress, find your silver linings and breathe. They are there if you look for them.

 

Have you been able to find a few silver linings in your lockdown?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Walking Backward

We ended  another month! How does that happen and why am I  always surprised? We are all sheltering from something we can’t see so our activities are limited.

Deep purple Lily on my walk

My walks were getting a bit routine. I usually start up the hill, go around the first left corner and text my quilting friend that I’m on her street. Since she is being extra cautious, she comes out on her front porch to wave and say good morning. We have a little conversation the whole neighborhood can hear from six feet apart and she sometimes shares what she’s been quilting. It’s more fun when you can show your work to someone that appreciates it. I get there early in the mornings. (For her)

Then I walk up another steep hill and finally start down again. I decided yesterday to go the other way since I’d left even earlier and stop at Emily’s last. Maybe she’d be awake when I got there. Changing my routine had me noticing things I had not seen going the other way. I think that applies to life in general. If we keep doing things the way we have always done them, nothing changes. Going backward changed my perspective on the neighborhood. Now I am carrying that idea into other areas of life to see what I can shake loose.

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Today I finally finished the leftover quilt and the binding is attached to the front. I’ll hand stitch it to the back while I watch TV or listen to Ted talks or YouTube. I already have a project halfway done that I can’t show yet until all of our group are ready to share. I’ve also turned over the two charity quilt tops I finished first. Emily gave them to me already cut out. I did make some changes in the fabric since some went missing. It happens.

I’ve learned how to use Zoom to connect with our PF support group and wave at my sister at her house. We have learned to zoom together since we can’t get together. So many are using all kinds of media to connect. It feels a little backwards too. They kept telling us before to stay off the social media and spend more time in personal contact.

Metal sculpture puppy

While I Zoom, I do what I always do when listening a long time without speaking, I work on my embroidery. I did a lot of this at PF group so I don’t fidget. Embroidery keeps me focused on what I’m hearing rather than what’s playing in my head.

slow work in progress

#6 Hoping to start #7 soon.

The weather dried up enough to get a lot of weed pulling done. I filled the green waste can up and my daughter took it off the hill for me. It gets composted by the city and I’ve worked until everything hurts and yard looks almost nice again. As the rain comes to an end here, my list of outside chores goes up.

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I’ll be posting less in the summer due to other demands. You really don’t want to see the list. Bored is not in my vocabulary. In a given day I go from one thing to the other until sleep claims me. I spend my sleep hours thinking up more things that need to be done.

I am…enjoying the moments

Do you like to change up your routine to gain new perspective on old habits?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I thought they were talking about real bears when I first saw the title pop up somewhere. I was NOT interested in hunting bears. Then I popped over to my Facebook page and saw my friend, Alys at Gardening Nirvana had posted about the bear hunt too. Alys LOVES animals so I read the whole post.

The first bear I saw this week.

By golly, they are not real bears, just teddy bears and it made me smile. I had plans for this day. Writing wasn’t at the top of my list. It’s been hard to concentrate with all the racket across the street. Workmen sawing and hammering metal for the new neighbor’s carport. They have been at it three days already and I’m starting to fray at the edges. Alys’ post put that behind me.

My mom’s bear and a little German bear Hard to see in the window.

First order of business was to entice my daughter from work momentarily to help get bears in the window just so. They are hard to see with trucks in the way but later this weekend without mass construction vehicles, I hope they cheer a few passersby.

My daughter’s bear in his bowler hat.

Second order of business was my walk in the neighborhood to wave good morning to my friend, Emily and let her know (from the curb) about the bears. As I walked, I saw many bears in windows. When had that started. One has been there for quite some time but I didn’t know why. It was sweet to see.

Trio of bears on my walk

So, I looked online for where it started. Like Alys, I think it’s worth spreading to distract not just children but the rest of us from falling into despair over so much gloom. My walk was eye opening! So many bears in just a short distance. It was raining and my phone got a little wet along with me so who knows how many more there are in the neighborhood but I sure hope to spread the word and find many more when I get out in the dry air. I think this is a great way to cheer us all up. A way to say hi as our neighbors walk or drive by. Happy bear hunting to all of you.

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Are you finding interesting ways to cheer yourself and others?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

I’ve really had enough of it. I want to reach out and hug everyone I see these days. Social distancing is good for introverts and hermits. I like my quiet alone time but being connected helps me feel fully alive.

I went to see my therapist this week and we were the only people in the building. We gave ((air hugs)) instead of a real one. I go so I can say stuff that makes her laugh out loud. She has a contagious laugh and I go home feeling so much better.

Katy Daisy Calendar page is appropriate all the time

This week has been a lesson in social distancing for others as well. When arriving home from my outing to the grocery store at 7:00 in the dark a.m. and seeing my friendly shrink, I just made it into my driveway before all access was blocked. It seems I’m about to have a new neighbor.

Approximately three years ago, the hillside across the street gave way enough that the resident was forced to remove her home from the lot and move elsewhere until the hillside could be shored up. I was hoping they would do something lovely with the space but as you know, space is money. You can see it here

I put away my few groceries and walked out on my porch to meet this lovely older couple who are downsizing. Her sister already lives here in this park so they bought this house that was designed to fit that smaller lot. It’s brand new with it’s own little front porch. They seem very nice and I offered them my porch to sit on while they watched their home come down the road in two pieces.

On my porch watching theirs

It all happens very quickly or very slowly, depending on your perception. By days end, the two sides had been rolled together and today they are working hard to join the roof line and make it weather tight. It’s our last dry day. I heard lots of shouting as the remote-controlled tractor pushed and pulled the house into place about all the help not being six feet apart. The men moved away from each other but as the work progressed, there were inches, not feet between them. They did try but being outside with a good breeze, damp and cold air, maybe they will all be OK. It turns out some of the men were family and lived together anyway so they stayed away from those that were not family.  Today I saw one worker wearing a mask. Was it to stay well or because he was trying to avoid the sawdust flying?

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I suggested to my new neighbors that we could shake hands when the world was a little more normal again but, in the meantime, they could sit in my chairs and place them wherever needed to get a good view and good photos. We may not end up as great friends but we can be good neighbors even if we have to keep our social distance for now.

I’ll take some pumpkin bread over when they get moved in at the end of next week. In the meantime, sewing isn’t getting done because I’m being entertained by people working! Unlike my friend Cathy at NanaCathy2 in the UK, the movers for my new neighbors are going to be allowed to come and do their job of shifting furniture from one place to another. I’m off to the window again to see the progress.

How are you doing with social distancing?

Today, as I learn to be gentle with myself, I find there’s no need to do anything. But breathe.~ Pam Grout WP

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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