Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘aging’

Back in Business

It’s been a very long month and there has been so much going on that there has been little time to share any of it.

My sister brought the plants for me to grow. These are delicious.

Tech support  (my son) put in a new hard drive and I got my files downloaded from Crash Plan. It took  a week  of leaving the laptop on while it did the work. Now I must do the filing and cleanup to get everything back where it belongs. The most important part has been my photos. There will be a lot of housekeeping going on to get them backed up to several places. I had to reinstall programs that I used every day as well.

Bet you thought I was sitting on my hands here just enjoying my down time. Ha! I wish that could happen one day. Only one yard of rock in my sister’s truck. She drove, I did the shoveling.  She’s not allowed.

We had a short spell of decent temperatures that were combined with so much smoke in the air from forest fires. First the smoke came down from Canada and Washington then the wind shifted and we got smoke from southern Oregon. In the interim, I managed to get a little outside work done as well as some inside projects.

mulch 2 yards

2 yards of mulch took awhile to move so the car could go in and out

This will be a bridging post for the next thing that’s been going on around here. Never a dull moment in Sleepy Hollow.

This fabric was a gift from my son when he went to Hawaii. Was it a whole year ago?

I’ve been making sets of placemats to sell and give as gifts.


With all the work I’ve done, there has been a lot I haven’t been able to get around to doing. My sewing room has been collecting dust for the last few weeks since before my company came and left. I have been looking at what is going to take priority in my life in the coming year. I love to make things for friends and family and will probably continue to do that on occasion but circumstances are changing and there is some writing that needs to be done sooner than later. Stories that need to be written for posterity while this old mind can still recall them.

So, quilting is taking a back seat for the interim. It’s been a hard decision to make as I love all the members of my group. I think they understand. As soon as it cools down just a bit; we are expecting 99 degrees this week and close to that most other days for the next 15; I will finish up preparing the outside for winter and settle into my writing almost exclusively. Losing my laptop for even a short period of time pointed out how much I enjoy the process of writing. It feels good to be back in the business of telling stories.

African Violet loves the kitchen sink area

Do you suffer any angst from losing something you work with daily? How about setting priorities and focus?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Time to Write

I’m a blabber mouth. Yes, it’s true. I’ll converse with you about anything, anytime. I had a teacher actually tape my mouth shut in grade school. I thought it was funny until I almost didn’t get the tape off before I got home. It would not have been pretty. We weren’t allowed to speak at home. I made up for it big time in school.

I love the conversations I’m having with my new neighbors. The blabber mouth part stops when the conversation is done. I don’t carry what I hear from one to the other. People fascinate me and to keep them talking, I spend more time listening and share only enough of my own story to let them know I understand who they are and accept them. I learn from each and everyone.

That roll of metal in the trailer becomes the white cutter coming out the back side. Oh, my. I had no idea how they were made.

That roll of metal in the trailer becomes the white cutter coming out the back side. Oh, my. I had no idea how they were made.

Almost 60 ft of gutter comes out the other end all in one piece. Amazing!

Almost 60 ft of gutter comes out the other end all in one piece. Amazing!


In the two months I’ve lived in my new home, I have meet almost all my neighbors. Some just briefly, others have chosen to spend a bit more time. One older gentleman passes by and checks on the progress of my front garden. He asked if I were growing rocks in it. That was mostly what remained from the previous owner. Of course I replied that I was and hadn’t they grown quite large in such a short time. They did look larger without all the cover.


Next spring when everything fills in the boulders won't look so big again.

Next spring when everything fills in the boulders won’t look so big again.


I have been so busy making my home my own, that I have had almost no time to write about it or anything else that has crept through my pea brain as I tilled the dirt endlessly. I get up early to write in my journal and have my coffee as it is part of my spiritual practice. There is always a portion of my journal dedicated to gratitude. Then the outdoors calls me to come play in the dirt. I am so lucky not to have to go to a job. I love my life right now. Old age has many benefits.

It still looks bare but by next spring maybe I can add some pizzaz and some much needed paint.

It still looks bare but by next spring maybe I can add some pizzaz and some much needed paint.


We are getting some much needed rain today so the outdoors will wait for a bit. I could be hanging more pictures and artwork or putting more sewing stuff in a proper home but it seemed to finally be the moment for which I have been waiting. To sit down to read and write.

I’ll have the next three days off with my daughter and while she rests I can read a bit and maybe get a more of that writing done that keeps my brain fidgeting at night.
We are going to the beach. Her birthday gift to me and she has to do the driving. She made reservations for Sunday through Tuesday coming home Tuesday evening. We will be going out as others are coming back from this Labor Day weekend. We will walk, talk, shop and REST.

My sister wanted to play too. Pressure washing the deck before re-staining it. The dark is slimy when wet.

My sister wanted to play too. Pressure washing the deck before re-staining it. The dark is slimy when wet.

This was a cakewalk compared to stump grinding. A lot more still to do.

This was a cakewalk compared to stump grinding. A lot more still to do.


I have been dropping into bed each night with every muscle in my body aching from use. What a wonderful feeling it is but looking forward to some down time and as the hint of autumn creeps into the late August air, I feel more coming. I was even persuaded to sign up for the writing class again just to be forced into sharpening my writing skills. I miss all the fellow students and it will be nice to see everyone.

Have a wonderful Labor Day everyone. How do you celebrate it?

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. ~ St. Francis of Assisi

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself


In Search of Versatility

I have received something I was not expecting. The Versatile Blogger award from Lisa Reiter at Sharing the Story. I am so very appreciative. Thank you Lisa. It’s taken me longer than expected to finish this blog.  Please bare with me a moment. As it happened, I finally gave in and called in tech support. (my son)

I have been nominated several times by several different bloggers for awards but unfortunately, I turned them down. Not because I wasn’t appreciative, but because I couldn’t figure out how to get them onto my blog page.

I’m in my mid 60’s (leaning a little to the far end here) and I work hard to keep up with technology. I can get a bit annoyed when folks my age say they have no need to learn new things. They hate technology. Same mentality that was present when cars were introduced during the horse and buggy era. We are not going backwards folks, no matter how much we miss the “good old days”. (Count me out on that one.)

I get a new laptop every 3 or 4 years and yes, I still swear at Windows 8. Please, someone fix it. I have a smart phone, know how to text, e-mail and use my GPS. I think it’s fun to learn new things. My motto has always been “if I don’t learn something new everyday, close the lid”. Yesterday, I learned to do a wire transfer over the internet. Whoo Hooo! Money all gone now! Today I’m going to learn how to paste the award on my blog courtesy of Lisa Reiter. Lisa did what I want to do and was exploring new blogs. She read many of mine and decided I was a candidate for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so much Lisa. Again, I am honored.


Now comes the fun part. The instructions are:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.versatile-blogger
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Next, select 15 excellent blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award – include a link to this site.
5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

This is not going to be easy but I have to try. Lisa made it so easy and also connected me with Sandra Bellamy at Quirkybooks to walk me through the process to get the image onto the blog. You just meet the nicest people on blogs!

So here are the Blogs I nominate as they have so many different things to educate and entertain:

1. Willow-Marie.real.
2. grevilleacorner
3. Living Simply Free
4. Gardening Nirvana
5. To Breathe is to Write
6. A View From My Summerhouse
7. The Contented Crafter
8. Boomdeeadda
9. Texana’s Kitchen
10. seeking life
11. What’s Green with Betsy?!?
12. pam grout
13. Writing Is My Drink
14. Eye-Dancers
15. The Garden Diaries

Now comes the hard part. List 7 things about myself. It seems easier when I respond to lists someone else comes up with. Things I can relate to, others not. So here is my attempt.

1. I have, but never want to start my day without a cup of coffee. (or two)
2. As much as I enjoy the company of people, I require a great deal of quiet, alone time.
3. I’m a collector of wayward fabric, books of every sort, butterflies and Angels
4. My favorite place in the world is a bookstore or a library. If it has food or coffee attached, so much the better.
5. I have moved 34 times in my life that I can remember. This month will be number 35. I think I’m done.
6. Most people don’t know that I’m terrified of them and struggle to make friends.
7. I love being older. It’s the best time of my life and I’m enjoying every tippy minute of it.

Thank you for reading and for the hours of education and entertainment you’ve given. I would like to read more blogs and as soon as the unpacking is complete and the boxes burned, (not literally). I will then settle in to widen my horizons.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Garden

I’ve had my glass of wine to celebrate. Only one tiny glass but enough to say “Yay!” I’ve been looking for a home in my area for almost two years now. I have a very tiny budget since I’m no longer married and have only Social Security and 1/12 of my ex’s pension. After 24 years of marriage that was quite a step back. We sold our house a year ago for what we paid for it 12 years prior and I got half the equity to invest. I promise, it wasn’t a lot but better than nothing at all.

Geraniums I planted at my son's 2 years ago. Fencing was to keep housemates dog from sleeping on them.

Geraniums I planted at my son’s 2 years ago. Fencing was to keep housemates dog from sleeping on them.

You know the thing about money sitting in the bank doing nothing? It seems to wander away like a child unattended. I have a tendency to want to be of help to those struggling and enjoy going out and seeing life from other perspectives. It was starting to dwindle as I was searching high and low for a home to purchase. With my meager budget, even a foreclosure was more than I could afford. By the time I purchased the home, I would have nothing left to bring one up to loveable standards. My standards are no longer all that high.

In my son's yard. Weeds have their place in nature. I'm looking forward to my own...ladybugs.

In my son’s yard. Weeds have their place in nature. I’m looking forward to my own…ladybugs.

All I wanted was a place to house myself and guests comfortably, a porch to invite neighbors to sit a spell and converse, and a garden area. The kitchen was inconsequential. Room for books and creativity were more important than food. I’d like to grow some of that food and composting is big on my list.

When I finally made peace with what I could afford and manage on my own as a senior citizen, the place popped up. It’s a manufactured home in a well-established and permanent park. I did my homework here. So many have been sold out from under residence that I had no desire to be caught in that fiasco. There are lots of rules about keeping homes up and cared for. It’s three miles from where I am now and the neighbors seem to keep an eye out for each other without getting in each others business. Yes, I checked that out too. No barking dogs at night and I’m at the back of the park backing up to forest with no one behind me.

Not my furniture yet. The front doors almost all face sideways. Not good Feng Shui but we will deal.

Not my furniture yet. The front doors almost all face sideways. Not good Feng Shui but we will deal.

The garden space is minimal but I’m in my later 60’s so that will be perfect. Just enough to do a little gardening and enjoy the nice covered porches. There is some work to do and I’m looking forward to making it my own. I looked at the photos of the Contented Crafter’s redo on her place and am very inspired by the fresh, clean, cheerful look of her place. I can only hope to achieve similarly cheerful results when all is said and done.

This is all the grassy area. The rest is terrace to the woods May lose the grass to planting.

This is all the grassy area. The rest is terrace to the woods May lose the grass to planting.

I’ve made my offer, and now waiting for all the paperwork to be finalized. Of course, I’ve seen sales fall apart at the last-minute, but I’m optimistic that all will go well. So it looks like I will be more than busy for the next month or so as I pack, unpack, paint, clean and clear out. It has always been my dream to own my own home that I had some say about. This is nothing fancy, but I’m looking forward to the peacefulness in this place that feels ever so healing.

I planted the mint but my son wasn't sure about the plant in the middle. Yes, it's a weed.

I planted the mint but my son wasn’t sure about the plant in the middle. Yes, it’s a weed.

My apartment was as good as they get. It was a wonderful apartment. The layout was perfect and location ideal. It’s served its purpose. I’ll miss the ducks wandering about most of all.

Do you dream of gardens in your sleep or hope for things that seem to have eluded your for oh, so long?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Happy Halloween

We don’t get trick or treaters here at the apartment complex. There are mostly elderly and college kids living here. An odd mix I’d say but the few children that live here go to churches or parks that have arranged entertainment for them. It’s a different world than when my kids were little. The mothers in our neighborhood walked together with the kids for safety and we knew our neighbors. I do imagine that is still true in many places.

My daughter made a great witch. Almost no movement until the kids got real close.

My daughter made a great witch. Almost no movement until the kids got real close.

Last year I decorated, hoping that a few stray children would find their way here. Now I know better. This year I put up the few decorations I have and had all but written Halloween off as a lost cause. It can happen as you age. Bummer.

web shooting squirt gun got the porch ready for Halloween

web shooting squirt gun got the porch ready for Halloween

Then comes the announcement in my writing groups. Our leader is a sugar junky too and looks for reasons to get us connected and having some fun while struggling to bring stories to paper. We are having a Halloween party in both creative writing and memoir classes so I have to bring some kind of treat both days. I’m off sugar again so it will be something relatively healthy. I’m not a kid anymore and the treats stay around way too long…on my hips. It will give a new twist to a day that has brought some tough times. I wrote about some of it in last year’s post. This week, I wrote about my most memorable Halloween for my memoir class. There weren’t many to choose from. I may post it as creative non-fiction after giving it some careful thought.

They are writers, really! Great imaginations.

They are writers, really! Great imaginations.

October 31 is also my two-year blogging anniversary. The reason for blogging was to connect with someone who could give me insight into why I still had Bells and how to get rid of it. Well, the Bells Palsy is still here but my reason for blogging has little to do with it. I am still on the search for the best way to move through life with as much fun and joy as possible in spite of the small hitch called Bells. I have learned so much from each person who reads my blog and those that I follow. I’m trying to read more because you are all so varied and wise in different ways. So this Halloween is the start of happy and different Halloweens. I’ve included pictures of my creative writing class party as we read, write and eat. What fun it was. Also a few of the Halloween at my son’s house two years ago. He has a great neighborhood for trick or treating.

They take their holiday seriously like their writing

They take their holiday seriously like their writing

I wish you all a very happy Halloween and a lack of extra girth to your mid-sections. Have your Halloween’s changed over the years?

We have a couple in their 90's all the way to the 30's An eclectic group

We have a couple in their 90’s all the way to the 30’s
An eclectic group

From my heart to yours
Marlene Herself

In Search of my Fashionista

I read a post last week by “To Breathe is to Write” that got my writing juices flowing. She hit on a topic of conversation that I can be quite verbose about given the opportunity. I’m taking that opportunity now. If you go back and read this post, you’ll see what got me going.

She mentioned not being a Fashionista. I could so relate. I’ve rarely had the funds for fashion. I barely had the funds for clothes and by the time high school arrived, I made three skirts in basic black, brown and navy stretch with six basic blouses.Then, in the 80’s and 90’s they were selling a lot of prepackaged color packets. I went to a seminar on personal colors. This seminar was about doing it differently and I was interested.

What I learned, after getting so hooked that I studied for a whole year, was that a lot of women dress in a way that makes them invisible. I actually had a client come back and ask me how to be invisible while traveling in parts of the world where her safety wasn’t assured. I knew the tricks and her travels went well.

During much of my life I have wanted to be invisible and as I’ve aged, found that to be quite easy. But that’s a whole other topic. Recently, I got rid of all my man shirts and have sought out a softer, more fun and feminine look. Since I can’t buy what I want, I’m trying to sew it.

My course taught me that color and style should reflect the personality and coloring of each individual. Family members often don’t wear the same colors. Age had little to do with it, personality and coloring was where the statement starts. I’m considerably more energetic than my daughter. My colors can be a tad brighter but not as bright or bold as someone who loves the spotlight. If you watch news anchors or talk show hosts like Ellen, see if you can tell when what they wear just makes their eye colors pop. That’s when they have your attention. The rest of the time you are looking at the color of their clothes. The clothes are wearing them.

If you are in business, a teacher, leader, boss, or anytime you need to get someone to pay attention to what you say, wear colors that draw attention to your eyes. It doesn’t need to be expensive or even the latest style. Your clothes should not command more attention than your face and specifically, your eyes.

I have never been a fashion slave. My style now is classic with pops of noisy, effervescence. Clothes should also tell the truth about who you are at first glance. Are you quiet, bouncy, take charge, artistic or walking on air with aloofness? The first 10 seconds tell people everything. Tell them the truth; not what some young designer wants for your truth to be. If you want to be invisible, go for it but understand you are creating that. That applies to men as well as women.

I wore a lot of monochromatic. It was my way of staying quiet. I'm really quite noisy. Now I wear more colors at a time.

I wore a lot of monochromatic. It was my way of staying quiet. I’m really quite noisy. Now I wear more colors at a time.

Also, no one is just one color harmony. We have two parents, and lots of grandparents. My daughter was a struggle for me in every way from the moment she could walk and talk. I could not even do her colors, taking her instead to my instructor. As an Autumn/Summer, her personality was strong and quiet at the same time. Talk about mixed messages. Her energy was slower than mine and her colors had to reflect that. We have been better friends since I learned her harmonies. And yes, sometimes she blows off what she knows looks best and wears what she just likes. Sometimes it’s just not so important.

I carrry these with me all the time. My couch matches my colors too.

I carrry these with me all the time. My couch matches my colors too.

Her brother has her same eye color but more energy, as his colors reflect. When talking to him about this post he reminded me that we most often pick out colors by how they make us feel or by how we want to feel. That said, I will tell you that everyone can wear every color. It’s the value and tone. Yellow is a tricky one but there is a shade of yellow for you. Yellow makes us happy. Blue, trustworthy etc.

There are colors I love, but they don’t love me. I like purple, but a warm berry doesn’t swallow me whole. I have to do purples in pens or vases. Even my quilts tend to be more my colors since I’m going to be sitting around them and I want to look nice near them. Oops, is that a bit of vanity creeping in.

Light was essential for clients sitting in front of me. Those drawers held Thousands of color swatches.

Light was essential for clients sitting in front of me. Those drawers held Thousands of color swatches.

Most of the time, it’s hard to find our colors in fashion. When I do, I snag it. I’m still in the basics but my shirts are more often in my colors

even my quilt has my colors. I'm drawn to them naturally now.

even my quilt has my colors. I’m drawn to them naturally now.

Like I said, this is a passionate subject for me and since I’m trying to make friends, it’s time to take off the cloak of invisibility. Do you ever wonder why the clerk at the store ignores you? How do you choose what to wear? Do you long to command respectful attention or be invisible?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Celebration

Today is my 64th birthday. I’m a little late in posting this weekend because I have spent the entire weekend celebrating my aging in unusual ways. Many think that we would not care to celebrate getting older, though I feel that each passing day is reason to celebrate. I’m still here and have another opportunity to make some difference in the world.

This lifetime has been a spiritual quest for me. I’m one of the many who question my reason for my very existence. The answer is still a bit elusive so it remains a quest. I am not speaking of religion though that was where my search started. It has a much broader spectrum now. Most days the question has been; how can I serve my world? Now it includes the question; how can I celebrate my life while serving.

Friday, I took the bus to our local mall. The driver is starting to recognize me. I did the early morning speed walk before the stores opened followed by an ice tea break then an hour or two in the bookstore. It’s where my sister-in-law always seems to catch me with her long distance calls. I think of her when I enter and sure enough, when I’ve found a quiet corner to browse, her call comes through. You can’t tell me telepathy isn’t real. Works every time. I found several great books and treated myself so I could add them to my personal lending library, The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Small in size, they are wonderful in content. They are a little help down the spiritual path.

I think there were at least six laps around that mall and several of them carrying books. So when my daughter picked me up after her early off day at work, we had a nice salad for a late lunch going home to read.

The next day my sister and her girlfriend wanted to take me somewhere I had not been before. Knowing my love of books, I was chauffeured to Multnomah County’s resale library in Northeast Portland. I picked out several wonderful books at an outrageously low price and my sister and friend made them a gift. The library makes a little for newer books. I was then taken to a lovely little pie shop where we sat in the sun and had wonderful conversation while watching people and their pets stroll by. The weather was PERFECT! We then all ambled through the one and a half-acre fabric store in Southeast Portland on our way home. I did go home empty-handed but inspired.

Today, my daughter and I had a lovely breakfast then drove to a local park to go Earthing. That’s a fancy word for taking off our shoes and socks and walking barefoot in the grass. It’s reconnecting with nature at its finest. I would never go barefoot in my son’s back yard because of all the stickers and lack of grass. Portland has lots of grass and everyone is welcome to stroll on it. That’s especially nice for all of us apartment dwellers. Nature feeds me just like a good meal with family and friends. That will be how I end my birthday.

We are going to a favorite German restaurant to have a good German meal and one cold German beer. Yes, I’m half German; the rest of me just likes any kind of food. When I get home to my daughter’s this evening, we will get more time to read and talk about the creative endeavors that we want to undertake this year. How much better can it get? Why is food such a big part of our celebration and our memories? If I celebrate much more, I’ll need larger clothes for my next birthday. I’ll toast to all of you tonight.

Laughter is the sun the drives winter from the human face ~ Victor Hugo

From my heart to yours,