Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘quilting’

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 a Retreat

I was invited to join some quilters I know to a retreat. What is a retreat? I had no clue. Never having been to one, I was a bit nervous (TERRIFIED actually). I’ve never been to a girl’s slumber party or anything of that nature. I’ve heard of them but the opportunity never presented itself. The only people I’ve ever shared a room with was my sister, daughter and mother.

Abby, who runs the place and everyone in it.

Abby, who runs the place and everyone in it.

I was told they would sew all day long except to eat and sleep. How was I going to fit in with my vision limited to a few hours of good sewing time at best? I almost backed out.

In the dining room the wall hanging welcomes you to your meal.

In the dining room the wall hanging welcomes you to your meal.

My friend, Emily, picked me up at 9 a.m. and drove another woman I had never met and myself the 45 minutes to Vancouver, Washington. I met Emily a few months ago and she and all the rest of the ladies going are quite well experienced quilters. I am not. We shall leave it at that.

More tools and inspiration.

More tools and inspiration.

The retreat began with an introduction to the quilting room. There were only eight of us which gave each of us an entire table to ourselves. We could really spread out and we did. Machines were up in a flash and suitcases set aside for later. The room was simple but filled with everything necessary.

Any size, shape or style was available and most were needed.

Any size, shape or style was available and most were needed.

Fabric by the fat-quarter or the bolt and even scraps should we need them were in every corner. Books, magazines for ideas and inspiration, and quilts hung in any spare spot that didn’t have a design flannel board. There were cutting tables, tools and ironing boards already set up for us.

Just a small sample of what was there.

Just a small sample of what was there.

We won’t mention the copious amount of snack foods, coffee machines, (drip and Keurig) tea and the list goes on. So will my words in this post, so bear with me please.

a scrumptious concoction created by our hostess

a scrumptious concoction created by our hostess


home made banana bread

home made banana bread

This place was the home of Nancy Fosburgh. She had stopped by to rent the barn for more space to manufacture her traveling ironing boards for quilters as the business had outgrown her garage. Nancy is a master quilter and instructor. She ended up leasing the whole house and the barn set on 10 acres. Nancy takes care of it with a little help from family and kind friends, many of whom are avid quilters as well.

Nancy fixed our toilet herself

Nancy fixed our toilet herself

Nancy is one of those women that make the energizer bunny look like a slacker. A strong, single mother of three now adult children, and an entrepreneur, her avocations have become a dream come true vocation.

Where the work and fun happen.

Where the work and fun happen.


A lovely walk to the house for dinner and rest

A lovely walk to the house for dinner and rest

The food Nancy prepared for us was phenomenal to say the very least. I must admit here that I’m a fussy eater. Childish, I know, but too true. I turn my nose up at so many things, though I am more open now than ever before. I will tell you I ate asparagus this week for the second time in my life. It’s the first time I liked the taste. Nancy was experimenting on us and can continue to do so forever on me.

Nancy's simple quilt we can pattern some charity quilts after.

Nancy’s simple quilt we can pattern some charity quilts after.

I went to bed one night aching from the amount I could not let pass me by. Scones and Devonshire cream, German pear pancakes or egg casserole with fresh fruit for breakfast, lunches had everything from sandwiches all homemade to soup. I was still groaning when we came in from sewing for dinner but I turned nothing away. Everything was homemade and scrumptious. If this quilting thing doesn’t pan out for her, the cooking thing surely will. I’d like to volunteer to help write her cookbook.

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We also learned a new craft from one of her volunteers, Linda. Round boxes made of paper. We all worked hard on those too.

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My fellow quilters were so patient with my learning curve and even took a square that I could no longer look at and finished it for me. I found a walking friend to keep working the kinks out and enjoy the beautiful scenery. No one complained that I was first each night to retire to bed with my journal.

Emily's selvedge quilt. Made of strips from the edges of fabric

Emily’s selvedge quilt. Made of strips from the edges of fabric


They come together in such a fun way.

They come together in such a fun way.


Emily finished 36 of these to be appliqued and then joined and quilted

Emily finished 36 of these to be appliqued and then joined and quilted

You really get to know people when you share a room. Half of us liked the window open so we shared a room, those that did not, shared another. There was no rowdiness at bedtime. We’d had our wine at our machines as we worked and bedtime was for rest.

4 of us with the window open for a great nights sleep

4 of us with the window open for a great nights sleep


Another of the bedrooms. Too cute.

Another of the bedrooms. Too cute.

Our favorite pot stirrer, (picture an imp) managed to keep us on our toes and giggling. Patti would point out near invisible threads left on the ironing board so someone (the culprit who left them behind) would make a big show of getting out the blue tape to make sure it was properly cleaned.

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I don’t know about other retreats but this one brought some real bonding.

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I know there are writing retreats, spiritual retreats, spa retreats but I don’t know that any would have all the elements that this one had. I witnessed a vast amount of comradery, creativity, generosity, and fun.

Arlene on Bottom Left made these for granddaughters musical. We thought it would be fun to pray for more wine.

Arlene on Bottom Left made these for granddaughters musical. We thought it would be fun to pray for more wine.

Would I do it again? In half a heartbeat. What is your idea of a retreat?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Lost Arts

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not writing as much these days. I’ve been busy reading all the blogging 101 posts everyone else has been doing. It’s a tough job but someone must take on the task. I can’t seem to catch up no matter how many I read in a day. I’m also trying to finish projects that are stacked up in every corner of the house.

The teacup quilt is finished, the Christmas quilt from my quilt group has the top complete with names embroidered on each square the person made. My memory is starting to fade so putting it in writing is essential. I’ve made progress on another quilt I’ve started and of course starting something entirely new.

This is what happens when we each make 2 squares.

This is what happens when we each make 2 squares.

What's hanging over the other side. Can you find my blocks? This one will go to safe house when quilted by someone else.

What’s hanging over the other side. Can you find my blocks? This one will go to safe house when quilted by someone else.

Last weekend was filled with surprises. A quilting friend invited me to the local quilt show at the senior center. Sure, no problem. In and out in an hour. The surprise was that Bill Volckening, a longtime collector of antique and vintage American quilts, specializing in the identification, documentation, valuation, calling himself a quilt magnet. was giving an hour long talk. He owns quilts that are exhibited all over the country and the world. What an education I received that day. We have come a long way in fiber arts but the original art form was quite fascinating. I’m hoping it’s an art form we can keep growing through the generations.

The quilt magnet himself

The quilt magnet himself

Very colorful with history. Mr. V is a local

Very colorful with history. Mr. V is a local

Vintage Red/white/Blue with hand embroidery

Vintage Red/white/Blue with hand embroidery

Free form from the best

Free form from the best

There were so many wonderful quilts done by local quilters that I just have to pare them down to a few of the more unusual.

A mini quilt with pearls and buttons.

A mini quilt with pearls and butons.

This one is for Alys. Cat and Mouse. Only the cat is called Mouse.

This one is for Alys. Cat and Mouse. Only the cat is called Mouse.

Can you see the screening it's done on?

Can you see the the screening it’s done on?

Corsets of course and 3 dimensional just for some fun.

Corsets of course and 3 dimensional just for some fun.

I rarely go out at night but my daughter found an event at the New Renaissance bookstore in downtown Portland she wanted to attend and wondered if I’d be interested. We’d have a quick bite to eat first. New Ren is a metaphysical bookstore and our favorite hands down. It’s dangerous in there for both of us.

We spend hours in there. It smells good too.

We spend hours in there. It smells good too.

We watched her documentary on DVD and listened to the film maker explain her need to make it and a little about the book. There are a lot of healing arts that are struggling for survival against big pharma and modern medicine. Like her, I seriously hope we can save the healing plants that are being bulldozed under and look at augmenting ancient healing practices with current modalities. I promise you, if I’m in an accident, I want someone who can patch me together again. But I’m very much into self-healing naturally as much as possible. I found the author-film maker delightful and honest. We had our book autographed to both my daughter and myself. Now to get it read.

Talking Story book.

Talking Story book.

Marie-Rose Phan-Le' Talking her story

Marie-Rose Phan-Le’ Talking her story

This coming weekend will be filled as well with a WordPress event, again in downtown Portland OR. An all-day series of mini seminars. I don’t think there will be much picture-taking there. More like a lot of note taking. I’ll let you know. So now I have to get back to my reading.

Do you have any interest in the lost arts? Creative or healing arts?

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 a Way to Spread the Love

This week I have been a bit unsettled. Not sure what the cause is but it may be many things rolled into one. February itself is a rough month in many ways. I sent a birthday card to my last husband only to find out he had spent his birthday in the hospital and was still struggling to breathe on his own again. We are all sending our best thoughts his way.

My heart is a little raveled these days. Slightly worn.

My heart is a little raveled these days. Slightly worn.

Then on the 11th, I had my five year anniversary of the onset of Bells Palsy. Who would think the effects of it wouldn’t go away? It left me a little blue to know I haven’t unpuzzled the riddle to complete healing and recovery from the damage it left in it’s wake. But giving up is not an option.

Red and white courthouse steps pattern seemed appropriate for this month contribution. Too bad they were all 1/2 inch too small. Must redo at least one more. I haven't been entirely idle

Red and white courthouse steps pattern seemed appropriate for this month contribution. Too bad they were all 1/2 inch too small. Must redo at least one more. I haven’t been entirely idle

Then there is Valentine’s Day coming up. What can I say about that? That day has never been a big one in my life. All my married years it was of little significance. We had more pressing matters to deal with though I had fun doing valentine’s with my children. So now, with no significant other in my life to celebrate, how do you spread the love in the middle of an oddly balmy winter? I’m asking a lot of questions here, I know.

My hearts all red and fuzzy.

My hearts all red and fuzzy.

I’ve decided that I can spread the love by sharing a few new blogs that are just starting out. I know how overwhelming it was when first starting out. It’s still a learning process. Everyone seems willing to help. All you have to do is ask.

The Contented Crafter was the instigator of random acts of kindness that was a global endeavor. You saw many of the things I received as a result. Now I get to show you what I sent out and was finally received all the way in Tasmania. Stop by The Road to Serendipity and have a look. She’s been so hard at work there.

Before it was over, I made 3 rows. I couldn't let anything go to waste.

Before it was over, I made 3 rows. I couldn’t let anything go to waste.

 

A couple of fellow writing classmates have started blogs that are read worthy. The photography is excellent as is the writing. My friend, Sabine of In Cahoots with Muddy Boots, blogs here on Word press, my friend, Missy of Isabella Bird is here. So I’m going to try and find a few other ways to spread little bits of love around. Missy had some interesting ideas on what love looks like.

Hope your day is happy no matter how or if you celebrate.

Hope your day is happy no matter how or if you celebrate.

What ideas do you have for sharing little bits of love? What does love look like to you?

From my heart to yours,

Happy Valentines Day
Marlene Herself

In Search of Stability

Has it been two weeks already? Where does the time go? Life has a way of setting its own time table and agenda.

My good friend made this calendar with all photos she took.

My good friend made this calendar with all photos she took.

As I’ve said for the last couple of months, my son was planning on moving up to the Portland area with us as soon as his house sold. When he lost this last job he knew it was time to make a major change. Over the last 25 years, the companies he has worked for have been sold off, taken over, or just folded. This last company has started outsourcing their work. Those that pay for their services no longer care about quality of work, only bottom line costs. My son made the decision that the career he wandered into when his father died, had lost its charm and is looking in a new direction.

Much in both pods was removed and left behind before pickup. They were overweight

Much in both pods was removed and left behind before pickup. They were overweight

The contents of a 5 bdrm house and 2 car garage are inside 2 small pods.

The contents of a 5 bdrm house and 2 car garage are inside 2 small pods.

So much for the illusion of stability. What he kept from his home is going into storage until he re-establishes himself. Much was given away or sold along with the house. The rest is in pods on their way here. He arrived safe and sound Tuesday evening, the loan for the buyers funded on Thursday afternoon. He is free and clear of the weight of making house payments without employment. Yes, we did a happy dance and celebrated with orange juice in a brandy snifter.

I have been busy clearing out his (guest) room of my sewing stash and finding other places to store (hide) it. I managed to get more sewing done this last week than I have in several months. I shipped off a package to Tasmania on Tuesday afternoon.

Organized chaos in the sewing room. Both machines working at the same time while I addressed cards.

Organized chaos in the sewing room. Both machines working at the same time while I addressed cards.

Leaving my quilt group early for a post office run, I sat in the parking lot chatting on my cellphone with my sister-in-law. I saw this happy face staring at me. He was so adorable and his mom kindly leaned over the seat so he could have a better look at me and I could photograph him more clearly. This fella was not camera-shy.

He saw me looking at him.

He saw me looking at him.

Take my picture please

Take my picture please

Quilt group is always fun because I learn something new each time. I’m a novice at this so there are lots to learn. I managed to finish a foster kid quilt that had been waiting and turned it in to them for distribution. This next year we will focus on providing quilts to the Safe House in our area. I’ve had so much going on that my sewing room looks like a tornado went through. Projects are stacked up and I must get down to work.

I just finished making the sandwich

I just finished making the sandwich


I used tissue paper to help the batting slide across feed dogs. Works like a charm

I used tissue paper to help the batting slide across feed dogs. Works like a charm

back of foster quilt

back of foster quilt

I spent some time in the last two weeks checking out storage facilities for my son. I still have one for my overflow of stuff that will eventually find its way here or out. My sister has a lot of her things here too. Walking in to the office of one closer to my home, I was met by a sweet, little lab mix. I knew this was going to be the place we would rent from. The manager and dog’s servant, mentioned he had Bells Palsy and it has plagued him for the last three years. He told me it presented just like a stroke would and they had to confirm by MRI that it wasn’t. He also had it present in February, a cold February just like mine. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t hit with the dizziness. That is the first person I’m met or talked to that had a similar experience with Bells. He can walk and drive quite easily. So my son and I will share a storage unit for a time. I know, I know. We shouldn’t need one. But sometimes when you are making so many major changes, you need time to review what the next chapter in your life will look like.

Mine feels like shifting sand under my feet and I think that’s true for so many people. Our stuff keeps us grounded till we feel stable again. My son watched episodes of hoarders while packing. It helped him let go of so much.

I think we have stuff to keep us stable when we don’t have roots. We take what’s familiar with us, especially if we are making changes alone.

What helps you feel stable?

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