Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘blogging’

Comment Oops

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

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

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 This time, I wrote a comment, copied it to a word document that I keep for unpublished comments and began to delete the comment from his post.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

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

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

Books in the den

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

Books in the kitchen

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

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

Books saying goodbye… maybe.

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

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


An Organizing Goddess

This month has turned out to be all I had hoped for after my January letdown. My bookcase is plastered with the valentines I received from friends and family. I didn’t get any sent out. Other things called for my attention.


As I’ve mentioned, I have been trying to clear clutter and make my space more user friendly. It’s been ongoing since I moved into my house. I have a lot of stuff for creative endeavors.

On Valentines Day I received a special gift. My blogging friend, Alys from Gardening Nirvana came to visit. It was our first meeting and I was looking forward to it as she is dear to my heart. Alys is an advocate for kindness, animals, and an uncluttered life. She has another blog that she rarely posts on entitled Organized at Heart. It’s how she makes her living.

Coming off the airplane I’d recognize her anywhere

Soups all gone Very tired traveler.

I spent many days cleaning and clearing before she arrived as you would guess. There is more company coming next week. I couldn’t think of where to take her to show her around the Portland, Oregon area. So we just let it happen. We had a simple dinner of homemade lentil soup and veggies,  The next morning we went to Bob’s Red Mill for breakfast. She buys their products but had no idea of what we would find there. Who knew it would be a huge birthday party for Bob’s 89th birthday with a band for entertainment. We even got a slice of birthday cake and a free cup of oatmeal to take home.

Entertainment getting ready

Bob at 89 stops in every weekend when he’s not working. The oldest working CEO in the country I think.

He looks great at 89. Saying happy birthday.

After breakfast we needed to walk a bit so I took Alys to Fabric Depot. It’s an acre of fabric and notions where you can find anything you can possibly imagine. She did find something that had to come home with her. I left it all there. I shop at home now. The party continued through the afternoon. Back at my house, I had to sit and rest my poor sore foot and Alys started to move like someone had set fire to her. She was everywhere at once. Asking how I felt as we proceeded. She immediately honed into the areas that were causing me the most grief and visualized an immediate solution. I was awestruck!

Right at home

We can make this easily

Watch yourself Vanna

Shelves were emptied and moved and other shelves were emptied and moved and then everything went back together looking like a department store had set up a beautiful display but she didn’t do what I was so afraid an organizer would do. She didn’t suggest I throw things away. I looked at things with different eyes and a lot more left to the thrift store. We found things my daughter wanted to keep with her.

Above the washer has never been so pretty. One day maybe a closing cabinet.

The next day, we had a light breakfast to fortify us for a trek through Powell’s City of Books, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. We only spent and hour and a half but managed to find things we couldn’t live without.

My sister had to drive us there as it’s out of my safe range. Then we went to have lunch at a nice and noisy restaurant friends of my sister own. We waddled out but stopped at Salt and Straw for our evening dessert to go. My sister drove us by the Rose and Japanese gardens but it was too cold and wet to stop.

Much lighter without the bookcase on top.

This bookshelf was on the kitchen desk.

That rack was originally in the laundry room looking quite ugly. Much better here.

Getting back home, Alys once more became more energized and the next thing I knew three more rooms had their Chi fluffed big time. I hobbled along the best I could but Alys was moving like lightning making changes to make my life so much easier. It’s like she read my mind and saw how I needed things to flow. I’m now able to do my sewing and crafts in a way that brings peace to my soul.

This was next to the desk in the kitchen. An emergency basket on the floor by the back door. I’ll paint this bookcase and the others this summer.

Will be putting a tension rod to cover the detergents.


My daughter came the next morning and was overwhelmed by how well Alys had read my needs and provided them. My daughter has dubbed Alys her new Goddess Hero for making my life so much lighter. She was gleeful as we moved more things around. In Feng Shui, there is a phrase that if you want to change your life, move 27 things. I think big changes are coming now.

Would you be able to let an organizer help you?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Something Special

I am so far behind with my reading of posts, books on my bedside stand as well as so many other things that want my attention but this grabbed it first thing this morning and I can do nothing less than share it. I  was overwhelmingly moved by the writing as well as the story.

I met Cecilia here in Portland at the Press Publish conference a couple of years ago. She is a little bit of a thing running her own farm by sheer force of will. I heard her story as she was one of the speakers and we met in the hall afterward. This tiny dynamo has a heart as big as most countries. I know her heart and hold her dear.

Painted in 1988. A first project

Each morning, even though she never reads my blog, I go see how things are at The Kitchen’s Garden. She barely has time to feed herself but she feeds everything else and my soul so I stop by every day no matter what.

Take a few moments to stop by there. It will be worth your time. Enough of my words now. Time for you to read hers.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Happy Halloweeny Anniversary

Why on earth did I pick Halloween to start a blog? Was I on a sugar rush or just enjoying the festivities of the ghoulish decorations at my son’s house while living with him.

Would you have asked her for candy?

Would you have asked her for candy?

Five years ago I was extremely debilitated by many unusual symptoms of Bells Palsy. I could no longer drive and as a passenger, I had to close my eyes, especially at night. I couldn’t sew because seeing the needle move up and down turned my brain into mush with an odd nausea. Television had its own terror. If things moved too fast on the screen, I had to close my eyes and look away. The cane is still necessary to keep me balanced and upright. The symptoms aren’t gone but they are far better.

Standing guard

Standing guard

The symptoms were a reflection of my life. Writing was all I had left to pull the terror of where I was in that moment into a cohesive plan for some kind of a future as a 62 years old freshly divorced and debilitated woman. Social Security advised I qualified for disability. I was not employable. That was scary enough.

The very act of writing helped train my damaged brain to find words again. Mimicking a stroke in many ways, this virus left my brain unable to put full sentences together without long pauses. I couldn’t find words I knew were there. Friends and family started finishing sentences for me. My writing was simpler five years ago. Gradually, I’m making progress, I hope.

This spider is tickling my nose.

This spider is tickling my nose.

In five years, I’ve found an online support community of bloggers. Who knew such a thing existed? Every time I got discouraged, there would be a comment, e-mail or even happy snail mail loaded with lovely things to cheer me on.

Corny wants a book with his treats

Corny wants a book with his treats

I scrounged together enough money after the home I shared with the last husband sold to put a down payment on a small manufactured home for myself, my books, fabric and other crafting tools. Slowly, I’m able to do little bits at a time of my cherished creative endeavors. Making this house my home has taken a lot of energy. Naps are on my daily agenda when tackling any project. It’s the brain that gets tired before the body so I’m exercising my brain as much as my body.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It's said to be glow in the dark.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It’s said to be glow in the dark.

This Halloween will be different again from the last. Aren’t they all? Not so many outside decorations as we’re having the wettest October on record and today brought high winds. Power has been intermittent. Inside, I’m ready for any brave little goblins that make it past the real bugs and spiders out there. It’s so warm, they have swarmed like an apocalyptic army. They scare me more than zombies any day.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

I’m curious to see what the next five years will unfold. Heck, I’m curious to see how today will unfold. Thank you all for being on this journey with me and cheering me on. Have a Happy Halloween with lots of sweet treats and no tricks.

No candy in this pumpkin

No candy in this pumpkin

Is there anything that scares you more than a zombie apocalypse?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself



World Teachers Day

One blog I follow is: //charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/

Professor French has given me some wonderful tips and encouragement on writing. His kind and generous comments have kept me posting here when I was ready to throw in the towel. It’s like getting an education via blogging. I have not had the funds or the opportunity to pursue a higher education so I learn everywhere I can. Had I achieved that goal, I would have chosen to be a teacher.

It speaks for itself

It speaks for itself

This morning he re-blogged a post from: https://surfingtheseagard.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/world-teachers-day-2016-celebrating-the-jobs-and-art-of-two-of-my-favourite-teachers/

As you know I don’t normally re-blog though this post stirred something in me. I value education and good teaching. Not all teachers are good but a great deal are and so very under appreciated. It’s like any profession; you get some good and some that should find other work. But here is my comment on that post:

When they celebrate teachers the way they do actors, musicians and football players, the world will be right and proper. Someone taught them all those things. They are our front line and should be paid like doctors and lawyers. I have always felt that way and it bothers me that no one seems to get it. I’ll get off the soap box now.

Dr. French suggested I not get off the soapbox, rather post on it. So I’m looking for a bigger soapbox. I feel VERY strongly that the teaching profession is undervalued and as a result, we are not getting the quality of teachers we should have nor are we keeping those that inspire and challenge our children.

My children were bored out of their minds in school. One teacher complained that my daughter was growing books in her desk because each time she took one away, my daughter came up with another to stick inside the textbook she had already read the first week of school. My son had to go into gifted classes, when they were available, to be challenged enough not to yawn through school.

Teachers are often struggling with the same bureaucratic nonsense to which other professions are subjected. It’s not their fault they aren’t allowed to push a little harder. As a responsible parent, the best I could do was provide them with any book available and a public library to feed their curious minds. They had to be taught how to learn on their own as much as from school.


There are many ways to teach and I applaud and appreciate them all. Those who write books were taught how to do that and I buy books to keep them coming. To me, a good day is a day I learn something new. I have a teacher to thank for that and I did. Maybe one day I’ll post the letter I wrote to her.


Do you have a teacher to thank for where you are today?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself


That sense of Accomplishment

Procrastination is an art form born of fear. I tend to put things off knowing that somehow everything will be harder than it appears in the directions. Every report card I had in grade school had a small notation at the side saying “Marlene does not follow directions well.” I just never read them through properly resulting in my own unique version of the completed assignment. Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. Most of us are not direction junkies or follow written directions as a last resort. And I can tell you from a great deal of experience, most directions are not well written to start with so why bother with them only to be totally confused.

christmas braid done 2016

Christmas braid bought 7 years ago. Finally, finally finished. Not perfect but done.

christmas braid back

Happened to have the perfect match to back it and bind it. Lucky me.

Sewing is about following directions. It never goes well for me. Especially if the directions “ASSUME” I understand what they want me to do. I had a friend bring a “pattern for dummies” to me on making a shopping cart cover for her grandchild. We read the directions a dozen times each and I finally just said, “screw the directions” and showed her how to put it together. I think I’ve spent more time taking apart things than putting them together or had one square going one way and the next one a different direction.

MG done

After a year and a half, it’s completed with borders, binding and quilting

MG done Back

I even learned how to put a sleeve at the top for hanging. Had to do it twice to get it right.

But in the end, something winds up completed. There is always a learning curve for me as most things I tackle are brand new to my scope of experience. I’ve made many shirts. Every pattern puts them together in a different way. Quilts are like that too. Getting one to completion is a big deal. Machine embroidery is probably easier for me. I enjoy it because there are fewer directions to follow. I have a very simple brain and pleads with me not to keep pushing so hard but I’m relentless in my pursuit of knowledge. Who needs a crossword or box puzzle when I have quilts and sewing patterns? There is also a deep seated desire to be creative and make pretty things. It drives me beyond my limits daily.

MG tshirt

My quilt group is called Material Girls so I made this to wear to the retreat and to meetings.

MG shirt center

Some thread color choices worked better than others. It’s a learning process

The very best part is that I have something tangible when I’m done. I can see it, touch it, wear it, cover up under it or gift it which is my favorite part. Even putting up a post on my  blog gives me that sense of accomplishment. I can see where my hours and hours went. I can listen to a book while I do some of these creative activities or even with handwork, watch something on television and not feel like I’ve totally wasted my hours.

The quilt I started on retreat is going to be ready to go in the mail before I leave to visit the friend in Phoenix who started me on the long road of quilting. I have not hugged this sweet lady in almost 6 years. I think the art of quilting has saved the sanity of us both.


almost done sams

Just finishing the binding then mail for Sam’s 75th birthday. Son’s former father-in-law and good friend

back of sams

Fleece backing for the man who loves wolves.

With the built in friendships we make of any quilter either real or virtual, we can get through anything life hands us. Many bloggers fall into this same category. They reach out a hand to one another across the internet and lift each other with encouraging words, even sometimes a bit more as is the case here. I received this book yesterday from my friend, at Living in Denim.

farmers wife book big

There is a CD inside to help create new and interesting quilts. A thoughtful gift from Lois whose friendship I cherish.


The perfect ending to a perfect day spent with blogging friend Sabine who lives close by. It just doesn’t get any better. Life is just all good.

What gives you that sense of accomplishment or is it even important to you?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Five

Happy Halloween. It’s here again. We have the perfect Halloween weather, though not for the kids. It’s windy, raining and spooky. The wind is knocking down decorations right and left whipping them down the street to be recovered later.

Tombstones went flying.

Tombstones went flying.

My daughter, son and I have combined our meager collection of decor and put out everything we had here at my place. This is where we will be tonight eating the candy that was intended for the neighbor kids. I don’t think any will brave the rain. Most go to city sponsored functions anyway. We have candy just in case.

I’ve been trying to race the weather to get my outside work done before the rains came. Guess who won? I had to pay someone to paint the front of my house. My son is not good with ladders and paint buckets. My sister spilled half a bucket of paint trying to do just the trim so I call in help. I did manage to get the porch area painted with 2 coats. It’s hard to see the difference but it feels so much happier to me. The soft yellow is so much better than the dull beige. Got it finished and cleaned up in time for decorating. I know the bugs schedule now and I’ll do the rest of the painting first thing next spring.


the differemce 2

I put up the metal quilt square to show that this is a quilt friendly home.

I put up the metal quilt square to show that this is a quilt friendly home.

Halloween marks my blogging anniversary. I’ve been doing this four years now and wondering about the merits of a fifth. I know I want to reevaluate where I’m going with this. This last year and a half has been challenging in many ways. What am I saying? They are all somewhat challenging. So the weather has brought us inside and that’s where I need to go. Inside for some deep soul-searching. There is that word again. Searching. Do I still have anything of value to offer? Your time is precious. I never have enough time. So I’m going to take a moment to ponder the number five.

Corny wants a book with his treats

Corny wants a book with his treats

I hope you have a festive Halloween with more treats than tricks.

Are you ready to come inside?


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself