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Posts tagged ‘Gratitude’

A Little Bitty Party

I’ve been absent and can’t quite explain why that happened. We had excessive heat along with smoke from fires in every direction. I think my brain melts in hot weather but I was willing to tolerate it without (too much) complaint as I bargained with the heavens that I would be quiet about the heat if the weather cooled for my company.

September’s flower Aster in full bloom on Sept 2

I had lots of it. My son and his significant other spent 10 days here and my cousin and her grown children arrived just in time to spend three days celebrating our birthdays. This is the time of year so many I know are celebrating birthdays. There were three of us in my family here and one good friend in just over a week. More of my blogging friends have them in early September as well.

The beginning of Autumn Hydrangeas

Why the party? My cousin who is many years younger had her heart stop a while back. It took three tries to get it going again and then a pacemaker. It’s happening more and more to younger people. She decided life was now and no more waiting. It’s been 15 years since we’ve been in the same space. This was also my 70th birthday two days before her birthday and she was named after me.

2nd cousins all grown up.

Bloody Mary toast to 70 and not 70.

Even drink these out of a straw. Her son did the grilling.

Birthdays are no longer a given. I was informed last December that I am facing a major health challenge that can only be managed, not treated. so all my ducks needed to be lined up as I go about the business of continuing to live a full and happy life. Family and friends are a big part of that so the party seemed to take on a life of its own. It was a zoo here! My sewing friends were invited to visit the zoo and were made honorary members for their efforts.

Flowers from Patti

Wall hanging from my friend, Emily. It was her birthday week as well.

It was so much fun to see how everyone pitched in to make it work effortlessly. These last months have been very full and I have many partially written posts waiting to be finished. Now that fall has finally winked at us, I may have a bit more time. Of course the rain has still failed to materialize and we desperately need it.

All the den, living room and dining room furniture in one space so we are all together

I think birthdays should be celebrated more than any holiday we have. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity to grow older. Not everyone has that pleasure. My birthdays have usually been very quiet and sedate. This one, shared by my cousin, son’s partner and myself made it raucous and loud. A real party! I wanted no gifts as I’m in the giving away stage but some things were still gifted and deserved special mention.

A wonderful gift from my daughter for all of us. Another view of my favorite non cake. Doesn’t get better than this.

My son and his partner did many chores for me as well as putting new struts on the tailgate of my suburban. That door is quite heavy when it comes down on you. He also built shelves in the storage shed for better organization and put up more motion sensors for my safety. There is more to this but that’s another post.


Tech Supports favorite task when visiting.

My daughter and I went to see Christopher Robin at the movies several weeks ago and I mentioned after this wonderful and sweet story that I didn’t remember ever reading the Pooh stories. She said she had so I must have bought her a copy at some time. I am now having the childhood I missed the first time. I read myself a bedtime story each night. They are so lovely and I hope to catch up on more I missed.

Jennie at A Teacher’s Reflection’s entices me with her collection of children’s books. I feel quite young visiting her blog.

I love this book!


Do you celebrate your birthdays quietly or with a big slash?

Boccone Dolce for 3 birthdays and 10 people

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

Paying It Forward

This post is about gratitude. Deep gratitude. In the weeks since my last post, my gratitude list has increased exponentially. The kindness, support and ideas I have received from the blogging community has been almost overwhelming. It’s given me the strength and courage to press on, persevere and work on some of their ideas for helping others.

One of many roses that have bloomed to cheer me.

I ventured into our employment service here and registered as well as speaking with a Work Source assistant. She looked at everything I had filled out and realizing I had not held a job since the mid 90’s, with a spotty history of employment, (I  was the full-time caregiver for several family members after that time) she suggested that I check out nursing homes for possible volunteering, potentially checking out my next residence at the same time.  In not so many words it was gently implied that I am not particularly employable. I had an inkling of that fact already. I’m still not ruling it out. So on to option B. Whatever that may be.

We clocked the distance with the car. 1.5 miles straight up.

I take my walks now saying my gratitude’s out loud (softly, so the neighbors don’t think I’ve slipped a cog). I start with the list of what I CAN do. It’s quite lengthy. I CAN still walk.

I was able to help my 78 year old friend lift this into the cart. I CAN.

In all of this, I can still give. My friend, Emily gave me a couple of charity quilt tops she no longer wanted to finish. The pieces were all cut, all I had to do was sew them together following the pattern she gave me. I have one done. Finished this month’s quilt squares for the group charity quilt. I’m also still able to pick up a friend who is no longer able to drive and deliver her home.

Blogging friends have given me so many ideas that I have taken to heart. One has also suggested that in light of my understanding about how even the best of our plans can go sideways, sometimes we need a bit of a lift through a rough patch. I’m lucky that I have family and friends. Many are not so lucky. So we need to find a way to network and help each other.

I network here with local friends. We exchange plants so each of us can have something from the others. I’ve shared many pieces of my ever expanding ground cover, succulents, and exchanged several cordial glasses for a bottle of homemade Limoncello and a garden umbrella with stand to have on top of the terrace. Nice trade, right? I’m going to try making that friend a new swing cover. I’m looking at what I have here to work with to make, share or sell to help others as well as myself.

We are having a neighborhood yard sale this weekend. Hopefully some of my extra stuff can find new homes. Tech Support is here for the week and I’m hoping we can set up a website for networking while he is here. No outside projects this time. Instead of last year’s 100 degree temps, we have RAIN and 60 degrees!

The Rhodi’s where huge this year. Just needed a little love.

How do you find ways to pay it forward?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.~ Edward Everett Hale

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself






In Search of Thanksgiving

This is my only post this month. I’ve been needing down time. Thanksgiving is upon us here in the U.S. and for many, it’s just another day off. For me it’s extra special in many ways. First, it’s my son’s birthday week. His birthday always falls somewhere around Thanksgiving and sometimes on it.

There are a few more candles now and he doesn't need the chair

There are a few more candles now and he doesn’t need the chair

Second is Thanksgiving itself. I have a hard day on this holiday keeping tears in check. My gratitude overflows. Last year was spent at my son’s home that was all in boxes so there was no cooking and just the two of us. He had several invitations but chose to accept the one so he could be with his three God-children and their parents. It was an odd day for me to be a guest, not the host.

These will be added to a charity quilt for a little boy. Don't look too closely, You'll see my mistake.

These will be added to a charity quilt for a little boy. Don’t look too closely, You’ll see my mistake.

This year I thought it would be just myself and my adult children. I decided to invite my niece and her family that live and hour plus away. They graciously accepted and asked if their newly married daughter and son-in-law could be included. Of course. It turned out they had plans. Those plans fell through this week and with a few texts, they are coming after all.

My sister was going to the home of her daughter and her daughter’s other parent. Then I got an e-mail that her daughter wants to be with family. So three more will be at our multiple tables and odd assortment of chairs. I decided the sofa could be turned to face the dining room so sofa sitters could face the rest of the group. There is always a way to make things work.
This is my kind of Thanksgiving. The most I’ve ever had for a holiday dinner was 17. I always cook BIG so it’s easy for me. I’m sure there will be plenty of help.

A crowd for Thanksgiving is for what I am most grateful. Family, friends that are family and lots of happy chatter, playfulness, thoughtfulness, with lots of warm memories being made.

I was originally prepared for eight so I made that many placemats, trying to be festive. Who knew I’d need 13. I also made myself the first ever autumn apron deciding to not only line the pre-printed panel, but make it reversible with pockets on both sides. I’m grateful that I can sew. I am grateful for my home that has the room for so many in it. This will be my first Thanksgiving in this house. I am thankful every moment of every day but this one day is collect those around you to celebrate those moments. To top it off, I am deeply grateful for all of you who stop by to visit and share your hearts with me. It makes every day Thanksgiving.

How are you spending your Thanksgiving and for what are you most grateful?

Happy Thanksgiving
From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of the Texture

When you were growing up did your parents ever tell you as you walked through a store or someones home to keep your hands to yourself and don’t touch?

Mine were very strict about that and we never challenged them. I was somewhat like that with my children. It was the phrase, “it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” I was a bit more flexible than my parents and my daughter challenged me more.
Children learn from touching. I am still a very tactile person. Oddly, if I wander through a book or fabric store, I touch each piece I’m interested in to get the “feel” of it. I do it carefully and with clean hands but I love (almost need) to touch EVERYTHING!

Puyallup WA quilt show. How can you resist touching.

Puyallup WA quilt show. How can you resist touching.

We touch pictures, frames, trees and flowers. Everything in life has texture. Life itself has texture. I think the more texture it has, the more interesting it is. I wrote a comment on a blog one day not too long ago that I start and end my day with gratitude. The rest in the middle is texture.

another job finished. 2 green squares to add  to more for charity quilt. Pattern in fabric adds texture

another job finished. 2 green squares to add to more for charity quilt. Pattern in fabric adds texture

I think that’s why I like to work with my hands. Embroidery, by machine or by hand, quilting, sewing, crafting, especially nature crafts, even gardening are all tactile and full of texture. I can sometimes be heard moaning over a quilt square where the points don’t meet exactly and ask why can’t things just go smoothly? I learn more from the lack of smooth.

Reaching for more books

Reaching for more books

My son put up the last 2 shelves that had taken up residence on my living room floor. (I painted them there so they could dry quicker.) Things didn’t go as smoothly with that either so there are a couple extra holes in my wall. A little putty and paint will fix that but I would rather have the holes than the shelves still on the floor. It’s a quick easy fix. Each day we get a little further along on our respective projects. Each project adds a little texture. Sometimes even to our vocabulary.

Tech Support. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Tech Support. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Last weekend we made a trip to Portland’s Rose Test Garden to meet with my last husband’s granddaughter and her 2 and 5 year old sons. She only brought the 2 year old this time. I brought books. I always bring books. These books had texture and I’m so glad I picked them. This little guy took after mom’s side of the family. His glasses had been chewed by the dog and he was without them. There were no roses yet in bloom but the Camellia’s were. After he was finished touching the books and hearing some of the stories, I pulled a Camellia bloom off the bush and put it on his tray. Mom was a bit stunned but I wanted him to enjoy the bloom too. He enjoyed the texture of the flower until we left. When you don’t see well, touch is even more important.

He can't see the books well but he loves them. Great grandson

He can’t see the books well but he loves them. Great grandson

Time has flown by again this month. That’s what happens when the days are full. My son has been photographing the beauty of our neighborhood and I have been busy finishing projects. My two squares are done a month early, the charity quilt top I was given to sandwich, quilt and bind is finally done and the binding is almost complete on my teacup quilt.

I didn't piece the top, just but the layers together and quilted.

I didn’t piece the top, just but the layers together and quilted.

Back of quilt pieced from scraps.

Back of quilt pieced from scraps.

Part of the binding will be tonight's handwork project.

Part of the binding will be tonight’s handwork project.

That’s the final and most enjoyable part for me. Busy hands while I watch TV. Weeds have been pulled and more stuff sorted and organized. I have a lot of old magazines with craft ideas in them I wanted to save. Tearing out the pages that would get lost and separated didn’t seem like a great option, so I decided to photograph the picture and directions, putting them into a computer file. Sure takes up less room and the box of magazines and books can now be passed on.

More craft books to get moved on intact.

More craft books to get moved on intact.

It was a stunning view for a good week down to Sleepy Hollow.

It was a stunning view for a good week down to Sleepy Hollow.

There is still going to be a lot more texture and gratitude in my life.
How about you? Are you a tactile person who likes a lot of texture?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of What I’ve Gained

Last week I lost my mind and discovered it had slipped away due to a short-term fever of unknown origin, caused by a vague and undetermined malady. After finally having the energy to get to the doctor, I gained his approval of my course of treatment. Liquids, rest and a sip of brandy every so often. Only a sip now, mind you.

I saw my mind peeking round corners blowing raspberries at me, taunting “catch me if you can.” I had to sneak up on it and it looks like I have a slightly better grip on it as of yesterday.

As I look back on the year behind, I count my blessings with deep gratitude. I gained the first home of my own. Nothing fancy, yet quite adequate in that it allows me to have space to share with those in transition. I’ve also gained the opportunity to look at my life differently.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

An ornament from my ex-DIL. Still a sweety. Hers is the round one.

The world that I thought was shrinking, became so large that even I’m astounded. So is my mail carrier, Mo. Thanks to Jackie at To Breathe is to Write and Pauline at The Contented Crafter, I’ve received cards, letters, and even gifts from all over the world. In my little area of Sleepy Hollow, Mo rarely sees these postmarks on cards and packages. We are both having fun. Thank you both, Pauline and Jackie for initiating such fun.

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn't it?

Yes, I live in Sleepy Hollow. Scary, isn’t it?

These are the results. First, from the lovely Pauline’s own art studio several much coveted postcards and note cards that will be shared with good friends. I’m still going to get one of her original works of art for my wall soon.

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

Even a tiny Angel for the collector in me. The bookmark will be much used as I read several books at once

There is a beautifully stitched bag from mommermom that had my daughter and I peering at every angle of this piece. I have never made anything as well stitched as this. I would love to take some lessons from her.

It's like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

It’s like a surprise package just waiting to be opened

The outside is like an envelope

The outside is like an envelope

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A handmade card to go with the beautiful drawstring bag

A new friend I’m getting acquainted with courtesy of Pauline is Jem Arrowsmith who sent this lovely book and knit shawl. She wasn’t sure if I’d like the color. As you can see from the quilt I made behind it, it’s a color I would choose anytime and see everyday. The book was about her town. What a fascinating way to get to know someone! I looked around. There are no books on my little town but plenty on Portland. I’m finding other bloggers from this area as well.

I don't knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

I don’t knit but wish I could when I see work like this. Stunning and lacy.

Gardening Nirvana has a new word this year. Connections. I had to point out that by first following her blog, then following her followers, I’ve made most of those connections. She has inadvertently been connecting people all along. Her talents are eclectic and here is just one small sample of it. I wish she lived closer as she is an organizer extraordinaire and that is my word for the year. Organize. It will be an ongoing project this year.

I couldn't decide what was the best part

I couldn’t decide what was the best part

hand made cards inside the card box

hand made cards inside the card box

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

She made this one herself as well to send the rest. A quilted card.

The Eco-Grandma has moved this year as well. She’s been a little harder for me to follow as her moves included her blog as well as her home. I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like but hopefully with a little time, I’ll get more of her earth-wise advice. Another blogger with a huge heart who knows how to make a big statement with a little bit of thread.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn't have said it better.

The card held the perfect surprise. She couldn’t have said it better.

Just like most everyone this year, it’s been lose some and gain some. Pounds that is. The perpetual cycle. I’ve finally gained the understanding that I cannot diet. The deprivation sets me up for failure. So I’m trying a different tactic and I’ll let you know how it goes.

This year I’ve gained insights, books, information, and wonderful new friendships. The cards alone made my day. I’m an old school letter writer. With all the gifts and the vast amount of kindness I see in my world, there is no other choice but to pass it forward. I will share all the wonderful cards I’ve received with others and start making a few of my own creations to pass on as well.

Snail mail in addition to virtual is a great balance of old and new. These gifts though, were the kind that touched my heart. Thoughtfulness, kindness, and reasons to keep marching on. When you reach out, there is no limit to how your actions can affect others.

What have you gained that you’d like most to share?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Mixed Bag

I’ve had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Mine started on Sunday and went through Tuesday. My daughter made reservations for two nights at the beach in Newport, Oregon to celebrate my birthday. I love it there and was looking forward to the cool. It thrilled her to be able to pay for our room and buy our meals for the three days we were there or on the road. The drive takes a whole three hours and we took the scenic route.

A nice spot for reflection and grounding.

A nice spot for reflection and grounding.

For her it was the first time she has been employed well enough to have extra money for such a luxurious gift. Her gifts are always thoughtful, just usually required some thrift. I never minded, always just happy enough to hear from her or spend some time together now that we live close.

Doing some grounding of her own with gratitude.

Doing some grounding of her own with gratitude.


While she is settled in wonderful employment, my son has been laid off from a high paying, highly skilled job. He has always been able to quickly find new work. This time, the work has been outsourced. There are many like him, highly trained and skilled and willing to work long tedious hours that can find nothing left here that can use any of their skills. It’s happened to many industries so he’s in good company. There is a lot of swift activity going on to get his house sold as well as a relatively newer car before the hand of doom sweeps in. Realtors have been by in droves and we are hoping for the best. Keeping a good attitude has been the most helpful tool.


There are 100 steps. We did them up and down...twice. Life is like that. The good stuff is always at the other end.

There are 100 steps. We did them up and down…twice. Life is like that. The good stuff is always at the other end.

My younger sister is also looking for a fresh start with my new home as her base camp. She is hunting for short-term work at an age she would normally be thinking about permanent retirement. It could be easier if computers were her friend but that’s not the case. She will then try to find a place of her own that is affordable and not so far from where all her activities are.

 These are scenes that have played out over and over throughout history. When it’s happening to you, it seems like the sand on the beach was just washed out from under your feet.


Beach was littered with jelly fish that just couldn't get back to where they needed.

Beach was littered with jelly fish that just couldn’t get back to where they needed.

While my daughter and I played tourist, others around us and the world are losing their footing. My son is seeing it as an opportunity for a major life shift. This could well be his base camp in the near future. We’d be delighted to have him closer. Hopefully he can find a way to carve out a new career for himself here. Only time will tell.


Heavy machinery required to rescue a capsized boat. Sometimes we have to be the heavy equipment for each other.

Heavy machinery required to rescue a capsized boat. Sometimes we have to be the heavy equipment for each other.

Life is always a mixed bag. I’m a pragmatic Virgo. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other till you step on solid ground again. The climb may be steep but with tenacity, relentlessness, fortitude, or whatever driving force moves you in that forward direction, you persevere. I can bet 90 percent of you have gone through something like this at one time or another and come out the other side thinking that it turned out to be a gift in disguise. We are counting on it again. That was my birthday wish this year. All who are struggling with major change, let your light shine at the other end of that tunnel.


There is always a sweet ending.

There is always a sweet ending.



From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself