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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Bright Lights

I’ve been a little under the weather for the second time in the last four months, so that meant I had to postpone all the chores on the list, just sitting with my computer in bed until even there, fatigue and coughing won out. I tend to wear myself out with the holiday that I love so much. I almost get it all up when it’s time to take it all back down. I do not like the last part.

Gracie is done with Christmas too.

The part of the Christmas holiday that I like most of all is the lights. It was fun to see all the Christmas decoration I kept after a deep purge two years ago. I knew my next place would have limited space, I just never expected it to be quite so limited. There was almost not enough room for the small table top tree my DIL found at the thrift store. The  LED lights on the tree also brightened my spirits and I didn’t have to turn them off. I was the only person in the courtyard area to have outside lights thanks to my genius kids. I think I mentioned they put the outside lights up with paperclips to protect the siding. The lights are Christmas for me.

It was still snowing

It was still snowing

One evening before Christmas, my son called to see if I wanted to see the lights the cities put up and some of the homes that they found extra delightful. Our cities are very small. I wasn’t expecting much from these communities. What a surprise I was in for when the kids drove me all the way up the mountain (heading south) to the smaller town to find one whole street lit up in a way I have never seen other than on TV.

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In the darkest hours of December, there were so many lights, moving parts and synchronized music that it was like a fairy land. My DIL drove with me up front for a clear view and my son walking ahead to get more clear photos. The lights, action and music brought out the child in each of us hoping to capture the feeling and hold onto it for another year.

The news of these lights got around quickly. My 87-year-old neighbor, Everett had seen these displays a week earlier. He spoke of them with great exuberance. You are never too old to feel that childlike wonder. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to get out there. We drove quite awhile to every area that had gave their best shot at cheering their community up with the lights.

By this time my tree is down (not yet put away) and the lights had been turned off on the porch when another neighbor lamented that she missed them so much on my porch. I did too; so in the evening hours, I’ve turned them back on to give us here a slight lift as we go through the shift to more daylight. Now that I’m feeling so much better, the rest of the holiday decor will be placed back in its respective container before the next snow comes in and makes it impossible to get it to the rented storage space.

It looks like lace

The last thing to go in a box will be the Christmas gnome the kids painted for me with lights. It’s been on every night on the kitchen island. It will be sorely missed.

What are you missing most now that holidays are gone?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Phil’s Christmas

I mentioned before that we had hoped over the last year or two that this would be a more international trip than it has been. While watching all the episodes of “I’ll have what Phil’s having” and “Somebody feed Phil” on Netflix we got caught up in Phil Rosenthal’s childlike wonder at every city and country he visited and the food he tasted. It was our happy place during the Pandemic. A hopefulness that enveloped us when the days seemed too grim to bear. Phil made us laugh and feel his joy.

A Phil mug for each of us.

It was not to be. Everywhere we wanted to go got tighter and tighter restrictions and we understood. So, we confined out trip to just memory lane with a little added bonus here and there.

My daughter-in-law was caught up in our wonder herself. She decided that a joint Christmas gift for my daughter and I would represent the idea of global travel. She did extensive research and pulled together foods from everywhere possible and labeled their origin, wrapped them beautifully and placed them in two baskets for my daughter and I. My son supplied encouragement.

Each package labeled where the food originated

I wanted to share just a bit of our fun at opening each and every one of these dozens of packages before we left on our trip. We all sampled a few and the rest are awaiting our return. I’m not expecting to do more traveling but never say never. I’m wishing you an adventurous heart to your Christmas and sending lots of love and hugs to each and everyone that has sent en-courage-ment as we trek through the country of my birth. We are celebrating a quiet thoughtful Christmas and New Year as we delve into the unknown future that awaits.

There is so much here

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for going on this journey with us.

My daughter’s water color for her brother.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself.


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




A Month in a Flash

I’ve wanted to write everyday but either my brain or body were just too frazzled to make any sense of it all. So, bear with me here.

Christmas gift that lasted through the new year. Thank you dear friend.

Christmas was small and quiet. Only five of us for dinner. The focus this year was my niece who is in her second year at University. She and her mother are Jewish but they do Christmas with us because we love each other. It was a very practical year. She received a simple white robe from my sister and an extra set of sheets for the extra long twin they have in the dorms from me. I washed them both and mailed them after personalizing the robe so it didn’t wander off while unattended.

The rose is significant and larger than I thought it would be.

After a week of recovery and dealing with leftover food, the process of taking down Christmas began. There are rules here in this park. No outdoor decorations after January 15. I picked the first dry day and took down all outside lights. Since Christmas is my favorite holiday because it’s so festive, I have a lot to put away. More is being given away.  Paring down takes time. Grieving must be allowed.

When you add in the fact that my daughter is moving in with me and her things must have some room, we have utter chaos in play. I had to completely unload the ‘guest’ room and figure out what to do with it all. Crafting and its accoutrements had filled the closet and spilled out everywhere. She brought in kitchen spices and things she needs for her kitchen that must fit in mine. Most of her things are going into storage or being sold, donated or dumped. We are really ‘fluffing the Chi’ in our homes this time. Nothing is untouched.


A gift from my son. Kinder as in Children.


From my son to his sister. I have seen it all now.

My feet revolted so I went to use the exercise bike at the gym on Monday to stay off them for a couple of days. I ended up at the store afterward buying two of the two cubic ft. bags of planting mix for my Lemon Cyprus that was blown over in the wind Saturday night. It felt just under tornado strength from the way my windows in the bedroom whistled most of the night. I will move its mate this weekend while we are having a short dry spell and give it more room. So much for staying off my feet.


Today I ignored the waves of foot discomfort again to walk the mall and have a long coffee break with a friend before things get really crazy around here. By the first of February, things should be only slightly chaotic which is normal for me.

My sewing friends enjoyed the last Christmas potluck party on Tuesday and now I wish I had taken photos. The table was so pretty, the food so good, and the company inspiring.

Today is the start of more normal, healthy eating. I don’t think my clothes or my feet could wait another day.

Did the last month go by in a flash for you as well? Is this new year shaping up to have lots of changes for you too?


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself



Have you noticed that the months of November and December go faster than any month of the year? It’s like these two months are on speed and I’m on molasses. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas always finds me totally unprepared and way behind schedule.

Set myself up an assembly line in the den so I can watch Christmas movies while I work.

We know it’s coming with 12 months notice. It comes the same time every year and each year I’m behind in my list of things to get done. I’ve even shortened the list to a minute fraction of what it once was.

Someone apparently likes pink. Not my favorite..

Sleep doesn’t come easily when your mind is letting you know all night what’s left to be done before mailing is no longer possible. Since I make most my gifts from what I have available, my creativity has to work overtime as well.


Many days are taken up with fun things. Last weekend I went to the Hazelnut Festival in Mt. Angel, Oregon with my blogging friend Crystal, at Conscious Engagement.  There are better photos on her blog. She did the driving, I bought lunch. Santa was on the porch calling us to dine.

Having a chat with Santa

It’s less than an hour away from my house and two from Crystal’s. It turned into a beautiful day but quite chilly. They were wise enough to hold it in a large hall out of the elements. I bought a lovely hazelnut cake made by the Benedictine Sisters to share over the holidays. There was Chocolate hazelnut handmade pasta to make as a dessert. I can’t wait to try it. Hazelnut butter and so many things made with them I had a hard time leaving it all behind.

I’m dancing to the music

Next week will be full as well. Sewing group will have their all day (5 hrs) gathering to share our finished projects and our gifts for each other. Mine are ready for the bows.

Each one is a little different. For quilting friends.

Even the Pulmonary Fibrosis support group my sister, daughter and I attend will have their monthly gathering at a restaurant downtown. Thank goodness my daughter is a wonderful chauffeur. The drinks (if we imbibe) will be on us but the nibbles are gifted by the foundation. The chauffeur never imbibes and drives. I taught her well.

My first visit with Santa in over 30 years.

This holiday is once again going to be quite different from others. I’ve been gifting from my collections and making lots of bowl cozies for family members to give as their gifts to friends. Since they already have theirs, the making of these others will be my gift to them. I’m slower these days but finding a rhythm.

6 cozies made for my sister so far. She gives them as gifts

Today will be baking day. A favorite for both my daughter and me. We usually spend Saturday’s together and baking in my better-appointed kitchen than she has is fun and tasty. I can only say, I wish you were here. Now it’s time to start our breakfast.

Beginning of baking

How are you doing with timing?


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

SUZY Q: Her Name

Dad called her Suzy Q all the time though that was not her actual name. Sue was her middle name. I asked him once what the Q was for. He said it was for questionable. I think the question was mostly what she would get into or up to next. Right from the very beginning with her first toddler steps, it was apparent my sister was a pistol and born without the fear gene. Tiny toy pistols were exactly what Santa got her for her first Christmas.

We celebrated it in Colorado Springs. Dad was reassigned to Fort Carson after he got back from his tour of duty in Korea. He found a little house for us to rent and part of the rent was refinishing the floors. After sanding the floors and putting fresh finish and wax on them, mom would set the two of us on an old GI wool blanket and drag us across the floor to polish it. The polishing was done once a month and it was our favorite activity. Mom developed a very strong back and arm muscles dragging us around.

Mom had to keep my sister in jeans and a t-shirt all the way back in the 50’s. Sis was not still enough to keep dresses intact. Rough and tumble, into everything, mom ran herself ragged trying to keep her out of danger and mischief.

Keeping an eye on sis

If sis was no longer interested in eating the soup we had for lunch and mom refused to remove the bowl, sis would turn the bowl upside down on her head letting the soup drip over her face and clothes. Quite pleased with herself, she cared not one whit about the spanking that followed. Food was not something that we were allowed to waste, no matter how bad it tasted. Mom was not much of a cook and groceries were not plentiful. There were plenty of spankings but she would just strap on her toy gun belt with twin pistols and charge on.

bowl on her head

On that same Christmas, I received a doll. Only one gift each, it was quite precious to me. I came home from first grade after the holiday and could not find my doll. My one-year old baby sister had somehow managed to get the doll past our mother and take it outside, tossing it in an open sewer pipe. Fortunately, she had only tried to bury it, not dismember it. She told us in what words she had that she didn’t like the doll. It had to go.

We were only there six months, then it was off to Fort Riley, Kansas for another six months before his next tour of three years in Germany. Oh, what fun my sister was going to have there.


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

The Appearance of Old Age

My son came for a three-week visit across the Thanksgiving holiday this year rather than the Christmas holiday. I didn’t want a replay of last year’s fiasco of a three-hour drive to get 20 miles on icy snow. Pick up from the airport was much easier this time with just a bit of rain.


The last of fall is so beautiful

fall over

Fall is over but the work remains

He spent the first week here recuperating from the pneumonia he caught just before leaving his home. I made him Matzo Ball soup to help him get well faster. It’s what mom’s do. We enjoyed the last of the fall falling and had simple Thanksgiving plans. Gratitude runs deep in this house and it runs daily.

The day after Thanksgiving, his ex-wife joined us to celebrate my son’s 50th birthday. This is always a day of deep gratitude for me as his doctors were certain he would not live after he was born, and they said if he did, he would probably have brain damage. (some days, we still wonder) But he is here in all his glory, coming to celebrate growing older with his mother. It’s an odd feeling when your children have reached that mid-century mark. If he is old, what does that make me?

ur old

My daughter found these candles and we couldn’t resist.

He has spent the last of his time here with his sweet partner setting up the fake tree, clearing up some of the mess in the shed, putting up all my outside lights, scrubbing moss off my roof and cleaning out the gutters for a start. They work as a team and I cook to keep them moving forward.

Towel bars were tightened, lighting updated so I can see better, and a myriad of tiny chores were taken care of by the two of them. He has also rearranged my furniture…again.

tree up top

Getting down Christmas for old mom.

My son has a sweet tooth which he indulges when he comes home. He found an empty can that had contained almond toffee candy and I had no idea he even liked it. It was left from my sewing group and I kept the can to put bits and pieces in. Is this what old age can look like?

the can is empty

It’s empty! So sad!

He baked some cookies and we watched sappy Christmas movies together.

baking cookies

He followed the directions quite well.

cookies off the sheet

Taking cookies off the pan

They will be back later in the dry season to see if we can get a new roof on this place. I have an invisible shield over it this winter hoping to keep it from leaking through. So far, it’s working. Getting the moss off is a good start at helping.

next project

What’s the next project that needs doing?

elf in the house

We have an elf in the house doing Christmas chores but needs cookies first.

At what point do you decide someone is old? Do you believe in the old adage that you are only as old as you feel?


With age comes wisdom

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

What’s New?

I’m trying to figure out this New Year thing. Saturday turns into Sunday and everything is supposed to be different? My house looks like the same mess it was in yesterday. In other words, same stuff (putting it nicely), different day. My mind is as chaotic as my home is right now so forgive the fragmented writing, please.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

I was awakened at midnight by the fireworks that sounded like gunshots going off in my neighborhood and it took a while to go back to sleep. I’m a very early riser. Why do we humans like to celebrate things? Maybe  to keep life from being mundane. Animals don’t do celebrations. Every day is good to them. I know there is a lesson in there.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

Christmas is over. I love/hate Christmas, though this year was unlike any of them. I had a lot to do this year that just didn’t get done. I spent most of my time working on a quilt for my son. He is moving all his stuff to snow country. After expressing a fondness for a soft plain quilt he saw in a craft show, I made it my mission to get one made before Christmas so he would have it with him. I had no idea what I was doing and no pattern or measurements. He wanted “soft” so that’s what I made. Flannel on one side, Minky® on the other. Other than an embroidered fleece blanket for my niece to take to college next fall, the quilt is the only thing I finished this year.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Isabel Rose is her name.

Isabel Rose is her name.

When the truck pulls out with everything from his room and the storage unit, I will start my new year. Sorting and selling. We have already sold many things through a neighborhood website that just popped up. Yay!!! I still have a village to sell and all its inhabitants. There is nowhere to store them year to year anymore and nowhere to display them. Anyone need a collection of dust catchers?

Alpine Bakery

Alpine Bakery

New for me this year will be just one thing. Find ways to move more. Just my body, not my house.  None of what I do involves a lot of movement. I’m also planning to try new things this year. Maybe connecting with more blogs that ask us to write something specific, and possibly take some classes to meet new people. I tend to be a hermit. One of those extroverted introverts. People scare the dickens out of me but we need each other.

People sharing ideas and good fun

People sharing ideas and good fun

Also new this year, we’ve had an unusual amount of snow already and extra cold temps. Looks like more is on the way. I won’t mind once the kid has his rental truck safely where it’s going. I don’t wish driving in this crazy weather on anyone.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

It already feels like a very different year. In my bones different. Let’s hope it brings more good than not. So are you really expecting anything NEW about this New Year?


From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself







I thought I had loads of time to get it all done. Every year the same thing happens. I hear everyone commenting about the stores getting ready for Christmas in September, not even waiting till Halloween is done. Well let me be very clear here, three and a half months is not enough time for me.

All are welcome here

All are welcome here

Somehow, and I can’t imagine how it happens, Christmas is creeping up on me with less than four days to go. Where the heck did all the time go? It was there just a minute ago.

Could it have gone here?

Snow barely covered the ground but kids were enjoying every drop.

Snow barely covered the ground but kids were enjoying every drop.

The first snow this year. I spent too much time watching the children play in it from the sewing room window where I should have been working.

Oh, to be a kid again.

Oh, to be a kid again.

Could it have gone here?

It all froze. First time in the last 4 years we have had this much snow and freezing rain.

It all froze. First time in the last 4 years we have had this much snow and freezing rain.

Our second snow this season brought the city of Portland to its knees. The aftermath is beautiful but the 3 hour ride to cover the 22 miles from the airport after picking up my son complete wore us both out. Cars were littered over all the roads and interstate. No one was prepared for the amount of ice on the roads. My son, the expert driver, got us home without bending anything.

Nothing but gray skies as far as the eye can see.


It sure is pretty if you don’t have to leave the house.


I’ve been busy working on things, some of which I can’t show you right now. Shh, they are presents. Here is one I made for my son’s birthday last month at his request.

My son has a great sense of humor

My son has a great sense of humor

I had a tiny photo of my tree skirt on a previous blog and a better photo was requested. I have more started but the details I add take a great deal of time. I think I’ll start on them next month.

The whole tree skirt

The whole tree skirt

Lots of added detail like the gold bows sewn on before it's assembled

Lots of added detail like the gold bows sewn on before it’s assembled

There is a spot to hide a gift under the heart.

There is a spot to hide a gift under the heart.

My son flew home for Christmas and collecting all his belongings to move them into a shipping container on a friends piece of property. The shipping container was less expensive than a year’s storage fees and when it’s no longer storage for his things, it can be used as a shop and work space. So along with the Christmas decorations and preparations, we are getting ready for another shuffling of stuff and moving it. Not the best time of year for it but storage unit fees are getting astronomical. Is anyone starting to question our sanity?

Someone has to make use of these things.

Someone has to make use of these things.

I also made time to walk my daughter through a project she wanted to do and we were flying by the seat of our pants with no real pattern. We made it up as we went and it turned out pretty good for her first time. She likes using my machine so I can hover and calm when fear arises. It’s a gift for a hard to gift friend of hers. We are both proud of her.

I still have a dozen projects to finish in the next three days. What are the odds? Will the baking get done? How about you?

Is Christmas creeping up on you like a cat stalking a bird or are you ready to smack it down?


Since I most likely won’t get another chance, I’m wishing you all the joy this Christmas season can bring and hope that the New Year will bring a new start and peace in your heart.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself






Life Lesson #1

I’m an old woman by some standards and very grateful to have reached old age. Not all are as fortunate. I hear a lot of comments about “old age isn’t for sissies” or “getting old is a bitch”. While both might be true, I’m always delighted that I get to wake up again and start another day full of the ordinary and extraordinary.

Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I have nothing left to learn. Some of my lessons have been a long time coming. Having trudged through life as a nomad, I’ve always had the feeling that I did not fit anywhere. I’ve talked about this before and such an ingrained feeling is a hard one to shake. But shake it I have. The lesson came when I was invited back to the same retreat I went to almost a year ago in April. I had a great time. I worked hard to keep going back to my quilt groups with that kind of feeling. I’ve finally come to the realization that the feeling isn’t a fact. I know this intellectually but to feel it deep in my heart was a big step.

I'm obviously not the only one struggling with this.

I’m obviously not the only one struggling with this.

My presence was requested at this slightly different group of women at the same retreat place! It finally at that moment settled into my cells that my feelings were just that, feelings.

It will be a different experience because you can’t step into the same river twice. Every experience is unique. I’ve decided that I will have a good time and learn as much as possible while there. It’s always my choice to either relax and enjoy or live with the fear of fitting in.


Only three nights with two half days is long enough for me. I’m hoping to finish a project that has been waiting a very long while to be started. As a beginner, I need all the help I can get and welcome it. I’ve almost completed two other projects I’ve been working on for quite a while. Photos to follow shortly.

In the meantime, here are photos of a gift I sent off before the holidays but didn’t get time to post. It’s a cheaters quilt panel but the colors were to fun to pass up. I put a couple of borders on and the backing and binding along with minimal quilting. There is also a sleeve in back for hanging. My first ever.

We also did a second little Christmas for my friend’s son. This way he wasn’t so overwhelmed with gifts at Christmas. I’m hoping to see more of him as the weather gets better and I feel more rested. I’m still waiting for that to happen.

I've open all the presents, read the books, played with the toys, now what?

I’ve open all the presents, read the books, played with the toys, now what?

Do you ever have feelings that should be questioned?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself