Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘projects’

Up to No Good

Up to no good. That’s the answer I usually give when someone asks me what I’m up to these days. Ask my daughter the same question and she will give the flip answer, “5’7”.  She’s kind of a smart a**. How do you answer a question like that quickly?  I can’t.

I’ve been almost busy and mostly lazy. Catching up on reading blogs, or more accurately, trying to, but they come in a lot faster than I can read and comment.

The work on the house had slowed for a while. In between rainstorms, my son built a side yard gate. I held pieces and parts while he put it together, then I stained it. Holding pieces and parts is important work.

I wanted it to look like it's always been there

I wanted it to look like it’s always been there

We started painting the house again. My son did the high stuff on the roof line. I took the rest. It’s slow work with a paintbrush. I finally got a small roller so I can move a bit faster on the rest but the cold rain slowed us down.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Not before we tried our hand at using the paint sprayer for the underside of the back porch roof. Talk about a messy job. We tented the whole area and he wore a respirator so as not to breathe in over-spray. Days later, he says he could still smell the paint. It’s the only way to paint large areas over your head. More progress soon.

I have pulled lots of weeds and will get to them again soon. The entire upper hill was covered in them but I managed to clear enough to plant 3 lilac bushes. Planted a few daisies and more ground cover including some a generous neighbor gave me. She was clearing something out of her perfect yard that is called Snow on the Mountain and it’s supposed to be a good ground cover as well. Some of my hyacinth bulbs are coming up in spite of the fact I may have planted them too late.

I’d be outside working or working on a sewing project but it all has to wait a bit longer. I had cataract surgery on Thursday in hopes of correcting the blurriness in the only eye that’s useful. So far so good. It will take a bit of time to heal but I should be able to resume my work in a couple of days so I’m watching the weather for the perfect temp to paint and weed. Meanwhile, quilting and writing are on the back burner, simmering, smoldering, ready to ignite. Since my glasses aren’t working now, a new pair will be ordered in about 6 weeks when the healing is complete Good thing I can make the print big so I can at least keep working here.

 

So what are you up too? I hope it’s something interesting and fun or at least tall.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

That Spring Forward

Is it a spring and does it really go forward? Last Saturday evening, I turned the time on my watch forward an hour. It’s just one measly hour for goodness sake. I saw no spring anywhere. Not in the darn cold, wet weather, not in my body the next morning crawling out of bed at 5 a.m. which was actually 6 a.m. My son had a plane to catch so we had to move fast, like it or not.

I had just come home from a busy week in Phoenix. Trust me, I could find no forward spring here. Just one behind after another.


I took enough pictures while I was in Phoenix to make at least two posts. Too many for one, certainly. The first place I was taken after getting my luggage and joining my friend was my favorite independent bookstore.

 

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Tempe/Mesa best bookstore ever

Looking for books and other good stuff

Looking for books and other good stuff

Changing Hands bookstore is a new and used bookstore with a little bit of everything. Next door with no wall between the two businesses was the Wildflower Bread Company. In the early years of living in the Arizona Mountains, coming to Phoenix took almost four hours on winding mountain roads. You made those trips count. Along with a major grocery shopping, I checked into a cheap motel for four nights and spent three days in the bookstore going to workshops on writing, and meeting authors for book signings. Dan Millman and Allison DuBois were there that week. Ms. DuBois had dinner at a restaurant in our small town during ski season so I was delighted to hear her speak and have them both sign my books. I’m nerdy that way. I ate 3 meals a day at the Wildfire Bread Company, it was that good and not at all expensive.

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

Wildfire Bread Company. Yummm!

This trip to Phoenix was to see the friend who insisted I learn to quilt and join her mountain quilt group. She has been doing it for more years than I know and in spite of her major osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, she just keeps cranking those works of art out.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

Beginning of another fabric bowl.

My first visit back to the area was to check on this sweet friend who just turned her life upside down. It’s her story to tell so let me just say that after 56 years of marriage at the age of 74, she had to make major changes to save her own life. I needed to see firsthand how she really was doing. She always has a smile and a brave face.

Always a smile for everyone

Always a smile for everyone

The body often tells a different story. I trust the words of the body more than the words of the mouth. She was exhausted. I wanted to inspire, help in some way and not drain her more. We took care of some business that she needed to attend to and I walked with her and Charlie twice each day. Charlie keeps her moving in this difficult time. He’s a hugger. Literally! He puts his head on your shoulder and front paws on either side.


We went to three different quilt stores just to see what might move us or what we could learn. She had just downsized as I had in my many moves over the last 6 years. Fortunately, there is always something around to inspire and delight. Her work alone did that for me.

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Once I left and she had a little time, her sewing room was properly organized in her new rented condo to start creating beautiful treasures again, keeping her mind in a happy place. Making art in any form is good for the soul. She said she has a new spring in her step now. I need that spring! Where the heck is it?

Arizona style condo

Arizona style condo

Are you springing forward or still lagging behind? Or are you lucky enough not to be victim of the obnoxious daylight saving time? Arizona is one lucky state.

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 a Verdict

It’s been a whole month for goodness sake! I have not had the great news I wanted to pass on so I said nothing. I’m still waiting .

The eye surgery was technically quite straight forward and easy. Though I didn’t feel anything once the eyelid had been numbed, the surgeon scrubbed the eyelid…hard. After the second week, the sutures came out. Easy. I drove myself home so my daughter didn’t need to take another day off work. More antibiotic was required as soon as I got home and for that entire 2 weeks, no driving allowed. The antibiotic would leak into my eye and while it caused no discomfort, it did blur my vision.

Before the surgery. Where we started from.

Before the surgery. Where we started from.

The thing now is there are still spots of blur and I’m not sure why. So when I took my sister to the same eye clinic to get her cataracts checked out, the nice young man at the desk overheard our conversation and insisted I let the charge nurse know about it.  She called when time permitted and another appointment has been set. I’m trying not to be concerned. Maybe more healing time will be necessary given my age. There was almost no discomfort. I cut the pain pills they gave me in half and only took two so I could sleep through without rubbing my eyes in my sleep. I tend to rub way too much.  So the verdict is still out on this endeavor.

Right after before bruising sets in

Right after before bruising sets in

Looks worse than it was.

Looks worse than it was.

They look more equally baggy but no longer in my field of vision

They look more equally baggy but no longer in my field of vision

I watched more television in those first two weeks than I have in the entire year. I found some BBC mysteries on my son’s Netflix and did a marathon listen while trying to enlarge blog print so I could try to catch up. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. The background noise was pleasant and when vision permitted, I did a bit of hand embroidery and worked on a few projects that have due dates. A few squares for the October meeting of our quilt group and a first birthday gift for a friend’s son. The work outside had come to a grinding halt. Tech Support is back home after the month away for free lance work and now we will get busy again.

 

Added to a dozen more for a raffle quilt this Christmas

Added to a dozen more for a raffle quilt this Christmas

Our fall colors for Safe House quilt. Each of us make 2 squares.

Our fall colors for Safe House quilt. Each of us make 2 squares.

I also got the final verdict on my car last Tuesday. My engine went to death row. Parts broke off and sent metal into the engine. It’s final days are over and a new one will have to be put in its place. That sentence was so harsh, my poor son had to take me to lunch so I wouldn’t sob loudly in public. By the time I’d finished, I was ready to face music and pay the piper. I really thought my heart would stop after getting this news. I know it missed several beats.

We have autumn nights and summer days along with an invasion of thousands of stink bugs that are flying everywhere and come out when it gets a little bit warm. Makes it hard to do anything outside, especially paint. They seem to be worse on this street though everyone has some degree of infestation. It feels like a Hitchcock movie around here right now and only safe to go out after dark.

bugs

Any question as to why nothing is getting done outdoors? So this doesn’t stick in your mind, here’s the quilt I made for my friends little boy.

Is there anything you are waiting for a  final verdict on? Something you know for sure or is life still filled with so much mystery?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of What’s up

Have you ever been so tired that even your fingernails hurt? That’s how I felt the last few nights after a long days of manual labor. Hard physical work is good for the body but my body keeps screaming, “You’re too old for this.”

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

 

Once cooler weather arrived, I was out the door trying to get the projects done that were on the list from the HOA. These are required to be done for this home that was not well cared for the past 10 years. I let a lot slip by when assessing this place for purchase. Now I really pay. In addition, I have a list of my own of things that I want done outside. My mind is totally occupied with these lists and the work being done.

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

 

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

I pressure washed the driveway side of the fence.  Tech Support did most of the rest of the fences. Now all four sides are done and ready to stain. I’m ready to do it too. I’m not sure if my body agrees. Hopefully the weather continues to cooperates and keeps the intense heat at bay.

 

Each morning I have been planting flowers and ground cover called stepables. You can walk on them just like grass and don’t have to mow. I am tired of mowing weeds so they had to go. Ground cover went down a little at a time. I used a lot of cardboard then weed block cloth. We aren’t allowed to have weeds here. I think you can be evicted for them. They give you a warning first.

 

I had 5 yards of bark dust delivered. I measured the yard and asked how much it would take to cover it. I really thought they were wrong and almost ordered 10 yards. Tech Support talked me out of it. Thank goodness!

The amount is hard to explain. It's a LOT!

The amount is hard to explain. It’s a LOT!

 

It took 3 hours of me working alone to shovel it out of the driveway into a 4 wheeled cart so it could go out back. Then Tech Support arrived home and worked with me another 2 and a half. As we were getting to the last of the pile, a neighbor boy showed up who had helped move my boulders when I moved in. He wanted to help. He was bored, like most teenagers when school is out. He has some developmental difficulties but is a good young man and a hard worker. I offered him $10 dollars and he had the rest shoveled and in the back yard in less than 30 minutes. Best $10 I ever spent.

From the driveway to the other side of the house

From the driveway to the other side of the house

What’s left is spreading the bark mulch, placing landscape logs between it and the river rock that I placed around the perimeter of the house to keep mud off, staining the fences, painting the house, and pressure washing the front porch so it can be resealed. All before autumn rains.

Going this way too

Going this way too

In addition to all the planting on the terraces, I found a need to spray paint my plastic chairs that I keep up there to rest a minute. My next door neighbor on the porch side kept asking if I would give them back to her as she needed them now. She started asking other neighbors if they would get her chairs for her. Each time she asks, I explain they are mine and I brought them with me. That satisfies her for a few moments but with Alzheimer’s, it’s an endless loop. I spoke to her son and he had locked her chairs up because she kept bringing them into the house. I finally convinced him to put one on her porch for her. Making mine a different color was the easiest solution. Alzheimer’s is something I would not wish on anyone.

My chair on the hill

My chair on the hill

My Chair on the hill after

My Chair on the hill after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love summer because we can be outside. I enjoy all the work and find much of it meditative. It just doesn’t leave much of me for anything else. I’ll pop back by when I can but you can bet I’m probably up to my elbows in stain, paint or dirt.  Maybe next summer will be a little less work and leave more time for the writing I haven’t been able to concentrate on.

I didn't paint it but it's too true.

I didn’t paint it but it’s too true.

 

That’s what’s up in my world, what’s up in yours?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

In Search of that Grinder

You have my apologies. “What for, you ask?” I can’t seem to find the grinder that has ground my work here to a halt. What does it look like and where is it hiding?

Is the grinder in this load of laundry waiting to be finished?

Is the grinder in this load of laundry waiting to be finished?

In trying to keep up with blogs I follow, I am sadly ground down as well. I’m outnumbered and you have so many wonderful posts I want to read. Nothing else is getting done. My energy has waned and the cogs in my brain are slipping.

Is it in the pile of laundry waiting?

Is it in the pile of laundry waiting?

You’ll usually find me spinning in circles trying to figure out what needs to be done next. There are four quilt tops on my machine in different states of readiness for me to sandwich and quilt. No small task in there. Yesterday, I tried to seal the wood on a plant pot holder I had out front last summer to gray the wood. I dumped an entire can of sealer on the porch when I lost my balance trying to move it. Fortunately, I managed to contain the spill enough to finish the job.

Room is smaller than the work to do in it. Could the grinder be in there?

Room is smaller than the work to do in it. Could the grinder be in there?

My daughter needed my help with her move and that has taken more chunks of time. Friendships need nurturing and groups for handwork and quilting are vital to my mental health. It all takes time and energy.

Helping my daughter with the move. Several days of packing here.

Helping my daughter with the move. Several days of packing here.

There are things I want to write about, but don’t, so I write nothing. There is a battle waging internally about what should be done about this.

Could the grinder be in this box of photos to be gone through?

Could the grinder be in this box of photos to be gone through?

Of the 250 people who follow my blog, the most that read it are less than 30. I follow less than 50 because I want to read the blogs I follow. They have become very dear to me and it would be like losing friends. I cannot bear to part with friends.

Could all these books waiting to be read be hiding the grinder?

Could all these books waiting to be read be hiding the grinder?

Maybe the grinder is hiding here in all the yard work waiting for me to do.

Maybe the grinder is hiding here in all the yard work waiting for me to do.

Where do I need to go to find that grinder? How do you manage not to come to a grinding halt?

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