Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘quilting’

A Little Heart

Life has been a three-ring circus for the last month. Spending an extra amount of time getting ready for my son’s visit that was rudely interrupted by local fires and a outrageous amount of smoke was not a great way to start off my 72 year. We had some rain and then a short respite from the smoke.

It came back but not nearly as bad but enough so that outdoor activities for me were curtailed until the inversion layer lifted. In the meantime, my sister came to spend a couple of nights so my daughter could take her to a neighboring community for yet another test my sister needed to have done prior to a three day round trip to San Francisco.

Suzy Q and her very caring, competent friend made the 10-hour drive from my house to San Francisco through some more outrageous smoke to talk to a lung transplant team. Always the intrepid adventurer, my sister is taking on the possibility of getting new lungs while there is time. According to her doctors, her lungs have 6-20 months left. But she is a good candidate for new ones though only 15% of the population has her blood type and only 20% of lungs are viable. Not a lot to be optimistic about but we are giving it our best. So, you see there has been a lot occupying my mind and heart lately. It’s interesting that she spent the beginning of her years here in Oregon in the Forest Service doing a lot of back burning to stop forest fires.

This is what it took to get there and refilled to get back

I have been keeping busy all along to distract my mind from more troublesome thoughts. Perusing Pinterest one day I found something that spoke to me so deeply that I had to give it a try. Paper pieced hearts. I was told it would be too hard for me to learn but decided the struggle would be worth it. It’s my form of puzzle. The results were worth learning a new technique and I get to send out little bits of my heart.

Fabric goes on the back and you sew from the front!

I’m also going to show you what the end result looked like for the challenge we were given at my sewing/quilting group since we may not get back there again this year. I started and finished it right away but have been keeping it under wraps until our January meeting that won’t happen now.

Another challenge for my brain. Table Runner.
Back has all the colors of the front

These are the kinds of things that keep me out of bars and off the streets. Everyone has a vice and those, along with reading too many books at once and trying to get blogs read and one written are mine.

Are you finding ways to share a little bit of heart in your life?

From my heart to yours,

I’m always thinking of you

Marlene Herself

ISO Intelligent Conversation

I’m letting it all hang out here today. I’m normally an optimistic person but this Covid crap has been pushing my optimism to its last edge. Thank goodness for my monthly therapy appointment. This wonderful woman gets paid a little bit to help me live a full life as I face my mortality. I can’t afford to slide into the well of hopelessness.

It starts out with white blooms and by summers end they are purple.

The first thing I did was bring her a present to make her laugh. It worked. She has the best laugh I’ve ever heard and it makes me so happy to make someone laugh. She got the joke and her laugh filled the near empty building. I ordered this after the TP crisis.

I brought her one roll of this.

After that I unloaded my bag of frustrations.

I’ve been locked away far too long for this extroverted introvert. I love people and there have been so few around during this sheltering in place isolation. I struggled to make myself write, sew, garden or much of anything. Turns out it’s not the best time to be on a rigid diet either.

Book one of this series. I’ve read through book four. I can’t put them down.

I did finish four cozy mysteries in two weeks time.  Doc said many of her clients were feeling the same. I explained that one of my friends had become so lonely she was talking to Alexa on a daily basis. She would ask Alexa questions and wait for answers. Quite the learning experience. I don’t have an Alexa so we came up with other ideas to help me snap out of my funk.

Can anyone tell me what I’m growing here?

First, she had me mask and glove up and head for the bookstore. My daughter freaked out at the idea. I took all possible precautions.  The mall and bookstore echoed hollow. So few were there. Walking it helped anyway. Then it was suggested I write a post about it as so many others were struggling with this as well. Another block overcome.  Though my daughter is living with me, she’s a hermit so I’m still mostly alone.

I have been In Search Of so many things on my blog. Finding people that I can talk to about the bigger picture in life is at the top of my list. Without outside relationships, we can lose inspiration and feedback. I have acquaintances I can talk about some things but not have those deeper more serious conversations.

My daughter finished this. Her philosophy.

Good conversations were hard to find before we were in lockdown, now they are even more difficult. How many people are excited to talk about quantum physics or secular spirituality?

Love in the mist playing with the oregano and thyme.

I have a new 25 year old neighbor renting the place next door from her uncle. She’s still in college to become a practicing behavioral therapist for autistic children. I’ve warned her she will be asked a zillion questions and she’s willing to answer in exchange for gardening tips. It’s a start and I am willing to learn from others while I share over the fence what I’ve learned in life. I keep walking the neighborhood and talking to anyone in hopes of expanding my bubble about life.

My wonky Dogwood bloomed later than all the rest in the neighborhood.

Are you finding intelligent, inspiring conversations while still isolating in place?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Walking Backward

We ended  another month! How does that happen and why am I  always surprised? We are all sheltering from something we can’t see so our activities are limited.

Deep purple Lily on my walk

My walks were getting a bit routine. I usually start up the hill, go around the first left corner and text my quilting friend that I’m on her street. Since she is being extra cautious, she comes out on her front porch to wave and say good morning. We have a little conversation the whole neighborhood can hear from six feet apart and she sometimes shares what she’s been quilting. It’s more fun when you can show your work to someone that appreciates it. I get there early in the mornings. (For her)

Then I walk up another steep hill and finally start down again. I decided yesterday to go the other way since I’d left even earlier and stop at Emily’s last. Maybe she’d be awake when I got there. Changing my routine had me noticing things I had not seen going the other way. I think that applies to life in general. If we keep doing things the way we have always done them, nothing changes. Going backward changed my perspective on the neighborhood. Now I am carrying that idea into other areas of life to see what I can shake loose.

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Today I finally finished the leftover quilt and the binding is attached to the front. I’ll hand stitch it to the back while I watch TV or listen to Ted talks or YouTube. I already have a project halfway done that I can’t show yet until all of our group are ready to share. I’ve also turned over the two charity quilt tops I finished first. Emily gave them to me already cut out. I did make some changes in the fabric since some went missing. It happens.

I’ve learned how to use Zoom to connect with our PF support group and wave at my sister at her house. We have learned to zoom together since we can’t get together. So many are using all kinds of media to connect. It feels a little backwards too. They kept telling us before to stay off the social media and spend more time in personal contact.

Metal sculpture puppy

While I Zoom, I do what I always do when listening a long time without speaking, I work on my embroidery. I did a lot of this at PF group so I don’t fidget. Embroidery keeps me focused on what I’m hearing rather than what’s playing in my head.

slow work in progress

#6 Hoping to start #7 soon.

The weather dried up enough to get a lot of weed pulling done. I filled the green waste can up and my daughter took it off the hill for me. It gets composted by the city and I’ve worked until everything hurts and yard looks almost nice again. As the rain comes to an end here, my list of outside chores goes up.

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I’ll be posting less in the summer due to other demands. You really don’t want to see the list. Bored is not in my vocabulary. In a given day I go from one thing to the other until sleep claims me. I spend my sleep hours thinking up more things that need to be done.

I am…enjoying the moments

Do you like to change up your routine to gain new perspective on old habits?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Little Less Crazy

It’s in my front window this year but doesn’t photograph as well there.

I missed St. Patrick’s Day and many others. This month was first about planning for my family to come visit. I haven’t seen my youngest brother more than 10 years at least. My son was coming to see his uncle and cousin with her family here since it’s been even longer for him. I saw my niece and grandniece a couple of years ago when they came for a short visit.  All trips have been canceled.

My last visit to our grocery store!

Then I had four days of excruciating pain from a handful of cashews. The doctor mentioned in passing I had diverticulitis. I’d never experienced any discomfort from it so I just ignored it. I won’t make that mistake again. No more nice crunchy nuts for me.

I have been so distracted that I even missed a friend’s birthday and had to send a belated card to him. When I noticed I was starting to slip off the crazy edge, I started looking for ways to ground myself. Since all my sewing groups have been canceled, (we are all at risk aged) I sat myself at my machine to work on starting and finishing a few projects.

The start of a scrappy charity quilt and a learning project

Then I started catching up on my blog reading and looking for funny and inspirational. I found funny here. Barb Taub always hits my funny bone.

Inspirational I found here. Pam Grout blogs on Word Press too and she always brings my monkey mind back to center with so much wonderful humor as well.

Something so droll to read turned flat funny.

I’m no good at cloistering. As an extroverted introvert, I need people as much as I need quality alone time. People are how I know I’m still connected here.

Donkeys all done

My daughter is working from home for the next month. She is determined to keep me well and at home. She is an introverted introvert. Another words, a hermit. She’s happy to work in her room and only come out for meals. I can sometimes hear her on the phone helping co-workers with the problems they are encountering since they have all been switched to a whole new computer system. Like her brother, she is amazing at virtual tech support. My son fixed my embroidery program issues by connecting to my computer from his earlier this week. That saved me more money than I cared to admit. I tell him to send me a virtual bill and he laughs.

Practicing making wonky stars

I, like so many of you are struggling with this new situation. The physical costs to life are enormous. Then there is the financial aspect where so many have been laid off jobs as so many businesses have been forced to shutter. Our world is connected as a whole whether you want to accept that thought or not. What affects one, affects the whole somewhere down the line. I know there is a silver lining in here somewhere. Jennie found one that she shared. I love this wonderful person and what she does. Pop over and have yourself a little smile.

What are you doing to cope with the craziness and the isolation?

“Control your own mind. Or somebody else will.~ Tony Robbins

Stay well and connected virtually.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

A Road Trip

There has been a lot going on here and I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about some of it. If being honest is a core value for me, then write about it I must.

I love this mug.

As you may know, I started this blog while healing from the most debilitating case of Bells Palsy even my doctors had ever come across. There was little else I could do at the time but sit in my bed writing and resting. February 11 was the 10-year anniversary of it and I have come a long way in healing. There are still many residual effects but nothing that can’t be handled. At this point, it’s just history and not worth mentioning again since I found no one that had encountered a similar experience.

It’s hard to embroider with Leo’s tail on it.

My focus now has been making the best use of my time since being diagnosed with IPF. My mother had it and my sister is in late stages with it. Seems to run in the female side of our family. The ‘I’ stands for idiopathic, which means unknown origin. Perfect word if you add the letter T, I think. I was not a smoker which is what most people ask but many around me did smoke.

It’s waiting for me to quilt it.

A series of synchronicities occurred that caused me to decide a visit to a medical intuitive, so I made an appointment for my daughter and myself. We had to wait months for an appointment. Sigh… I didn’t want to tell anyone about this alternative therapy appointment. The session was extremely helpful and I would recommend it to those who need a little help in the right direction or those the traditional medical community have nothing  left to offer. Reiki was part of the treatment along with instructions to take my mind from what ails me and put it on something fun. Where attention goes, energy flows.

We met at Portland’s New Renaissance Bookstore. Took 2 years to decide to see her. The book says it all.

During our trip, we had some fun taking a ferry to Poulsbo, Washington. Bless the inventor of GPS! We arrived around 1:00 p.m. and ready for lunch. There was a Europub that claimed authentic cuisine. A few bites and the rest of my lunch went to the trash. I don’t throw away food but this couldn’t be salvaged. We walked a lot that day to see the sweet little Norwegian settled town. Their ice cream shop made up for the lunch. It was outstanding in its unusual flavors and quality.

We also stopped at a very lovely quilt shoppe where I found a perfect coordinating fabric for my donkey quilt. I really had to force myself not to buy anything that I wasn’t immediately needed. Fabric is more addictive for me than sweets and just slightly less than books. Now you see what’s usually on my reading list. We found one more quilt store close to our motel and had great fun in there. Yes, I bought just the yardage I needed for another project I’m working on. Most creatives have dozens at once. There is no cure.

Just for a bit of uplift, I left my Bluetooth headphones accidentally wrapped in the bedding. As we were many miles outside of Seattle, the hotel called to let us know they had them and would send instructions on how to get them mailed back. Housekeeping had turned them in!  They are now back with me.

Now we are restored and moving forward to optimum health.

Have you had any interesting road trips lately? What’s you thought on going outside mainstream medicine?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

A Roll

It’s been a while since I’ve done any creative work. First one must dig out and put order into the space where creativity happens. There has been no shortage of projects placed in my hands in the last two months or more.

It was clean yesterday

First, here is one I finished for Christmas and forgot to photograph. My son and his wife really want to live at the beach so I made this panel up for them. They have no wall space left so it hangs in front of his desk.

Seating for two at the beach. I think it needs pressing from the shipping.

Many of us have found projects we no longer chose to do so the reasonable thing is to pass them on to someone who is more inclined to finish them. I have  fabric that I’m going to pass on to a quilting acquaintance who does quilts for Veterans. I like the word ‘finish’ and hoping that’s the word for our winter as well.

Another quilting friend gave me two sets of embroidered donkeys. Her heart was a little broken looking at them as her granddaughter thinks quilts are for old people and didn’t want one for her  baby boy. The joy of making something for her great-grandson was lost. So I will do my best to complete it and find someone that will cherish it. I did make a mistake right away by letting myself get distracted when trimming them down. They are going to be much smaller now than I originally thought.

At our last gathering for hand sewing, Emily had each of us reach into a paper bag and pull out a 5” charm pack to make something from. A couple of us are not very creative on our own so Emily brought me a pattern to use and walked me through the first part. The wonky stars have turned out to be quite the challenge for me. Emily eventually remembered how they were done and will take me through it this week.

I also finished five embroidered aprons out of seven in the last year or so and am starting on the last two. I’m also hand sewing  the binding on a quilt top Emily didn’t want to finish. I put on the border, batting and back then quilted it before machine stitching the binding on to one side. Now I have simple handwork for our groups gathering.

My son uses the phrase “an object in motion stays in motion” often. Let’s hope this object stays in motion once on a roll.  It will be a slow roll.

“Creativity takes courage.” –Henri Matisse–

Are you finding new momentum to roll with in this new year?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Solstice

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

 

 

 

On My Oct. Walks

 

Ten Chicken Soup books are on their way out.

Another month more than half gone. Time is in super speed from September through December. We’ve had some very interesting weather this month. One moment it’s nice and warm then comes the cold with near-freezing temperatures followed by massive amounts of rain and then we get a little of all of it in a week or even a day.

One thing is consistent. I walk. Five days a week I do as many miles as possible to count as exercise on my fitness tracking device. Unless I get my heart rate high enough, long enough, it won’t matter how many steps I walk. So, I have been pushing myself up hills that I didn’t think I could do anymore. My oximeter lets me know how hard I’m struggling and that I need a moment to just breathe before pressing on.

One of my hills to walk

Cold weather requires ears covered

I like to see what’s going on in my neighborhood, talking to new and familiar neighbors if they are out. I usually walk very early but sometimes the weather says I have to wait a while. I’ve also found that on cold days, a lot of people use their fireplaces to warm up. I have to dress differently on those days. While I love a warm fire, it’s no longer a good idea for my lungs.

Can you see the smoke in the air?

Since I have the option unlike many people who are employed, I get to shop or go to public places when the number of people is minimal. Did you know many respiratory illnesses are most contagious the week before the person even knows they have it? Bronchitis is like that so I wear a mask so I don’t catch it from others. It’s not the most flattering look even if I put my earrings on to distract you.

Cold and smokey days require a mask. Yes, I’m getting a better one.

When I’m walking, I see more of my neighborhood than when I drive through it slowly. I always get some kind of show. This is a car my neighbor boy works on and rents out. It’s not popular with many of the neighbors but I figure it keeps the kids busy and out of trouble. They need something to engage their minds and hands other than their electronic devices.

I also get to look closely at landscaping, mine, and others around me. I’m done with the outside chores for now. I had to enlist my daughter this year to clean the gutters. She doesn’t even like to do dishes so it was not high on her list of fun things to do. The kids don’t want me on the ladders so I do dishes and she climbs.

Yucky job but better than dishes

I have still been purging with 4 more tubs of fabric going to various charities and many of my books heading off to the senior centers. I’m happy to have finally started some holiday gifts and quilting now that I’ve unburied my machine.

I will get it done, I will get it done. So many more to go.

Purging is messy work. I see more of the fun stuff ahead now that it’s cold and rainy again. I really do enjoy walking in the leaves and wind.

Do you enjoy autumn walks and check out your neighborhood for changes?

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

 

Speed

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