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Posts tagged ‘walking’

Little Gifts

These last few weeks have been so very interesting. Of course, that’s how my life goes. I’ve never been bored and always looking for the little gifts’ life leaves for us unexpectedly.

My son’s Orchid with 2 ft. of flowers!

One morning this week I went out for my walk before day officially broke and headed up my first short hill. At the top and to my right, I noticed a rather large black and white cat sitting on a mound of dirt. I have never seen this cat before. I approached more slowly wondering why it was out there. As I turned around to go back down the hill, I saw why cat was sitting there. Its job was to slow me down and pay close attention.

Moving along

So many rocks, so easy to hide

Two steps down the hill, I came to a complete halt. On the embankment opposite the cat was the most beautiful baby deer. It stopped and looked at me as well. I wondered if I could successfully get my phone out to photograph this never seen before bit of joy in time. The deer did not seem the slightest bit disturbed at my movements and I captured a few very shaky shots. As the deer move down the hill, so did I. I finally decided to move ahead of it as it was heading toward the larger street and I wanted it to move away from traffic however limited at that dusky hour. I was so blessed that morning to see this baby deer/elk so up close that the rest of the day I was floating on air. There are rewards for getting out of bed in the dark.

Deer/Elk nibbling

Deer/Elk? close

The next day I had plans to meet a blogging friend for dinner as they were passing through on an extended trip. They drove an hour each way to stop by. We have been corresponding by snail mail since she stopped blogging several years ago. Prior to leaving for dinner, I sent a text to my son. “I have a lizard in my house.” Now, I am not afraid of them and they eat bugs so I had no intention of bringing harm to this creature. It would starve in my place though. Along with my lack of speed and vision, I was not the one likely to catch this little critter. So, the kids came early to pick me up and quickly came up with a plan. The DIL found a clear plastic container that I had in the discard box. There was also had a small cardboard box (delivered by Amazon just moments before) as they approached from two sides. He lowered the clear container on it and scooted it into the cardboard box closing the lid quickly. She said they don’t see the clear container coming at them. Then she took it outside and placed it back in its own environment.

Very confused house guest.

Jan and I at dinner

So off to dinner we went to enjoy some lively conversation with some very nice people. Dinner for the great hunters was on me as my son had also put up a new ceiling fan earlier that day to give me better light in my sewing room. I don’t know what I’d do without these great kids. Hope I never have to find out.

Do you get gifts from nature on occasion?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself.

The Total Opposite

The Universe is all about contrast and so it is in our world. After Stuttgart, we were certainly looking for some contrast. My daughter had an agenda as we approached Mannheim. First thing on her list was a laundromat. That was her GPS coordinates rather than the hotel. A couple of times around the block and we found it and then parking. We left the car loaded with luggage and found the typical laundromat. After a few moments there, many others had the same idea.

My daughter is still laughing that a older German man was having to explain to a 20 something young German woman how to work the machines. My daughter figured it out without speaking or reading the language. Some wore masks, many didn’t. We did. No one wants to be sick in a foreign country.

The contrast started at the laundry and continued to the hotel. It was a new high-rise at the end of the old city buildings. Our reception was a great deal warmer. Once we were settled and laundry sorted to suitcases, we made our way back to the reception desk and ask about finding dinner. We were kindly directed toward the street with many shops and told the metro line was just out front that would take us anywhere.

Our hotel

First, we walked and found some take out sandwiches and called it a night. The next morning, we were directed to the breakfast room where, as before in other places, masks were required while in the food area but once seated away from it, we could eat in comfort and safety. The food was abundant, offering even dessert with breakfast. I NEVER turn down dessert. I even took a roll and sandwich meat and cheese back to our room for lunch. I eat small amounts at a time so this wasn’t an extravagant amount of food.

Breakfast, lunch and dessert all in one

After our scrumptious breakfast, we were asking directions to a grocery and explained to the reception clerk that we had been denied entry to anywhere except grocery stores in Stuttgart over the QR code. She shook her head and asked to see our vaccination documents again explaining that she didn’t understand why we had been denied and said she thought it could be remedied. Quickly making a phone call and then directing us to an Apotheke (Pharmacy).

This one was in the Cologne shopping center. If we had only known.

We walked down the wrong street but found an Apotheke explaining to the pharmacist what we were after. She looked at our vaccine records and went into her office. Then she asked a few more questions and back into her office. I was getting concerned but finally after 10 minutes she came out with two sheets of paper with the QR code printed on them. One for each of us. It coincided with our vaccine code number and said that should take care of us. Oddly, we never needed it in Mannheim. Everyone was helpful and kind not to mention accepting.

We wandered the streets taking in the sights and used the metro rail to our hearts content having the best time in spite a bit of drizzle on and off. This city gets five stars for hospitality. The clerk even gave me two batteries for my oximeter when it ran down so we didn’t need to walk to the grocery store again.

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It makes me wonder how we treat foreigners to our country who don’t speak the language. Would we go to those lengths to make their visit to our country a pleasure or wish they would just be gone?


“Everything I was I carry with me, everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.” ~ Ma Jian, Red Dust: A Path Through China

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself








National Bear Hunt?

I thought they were talking about real bears when I first saw the title pop up somewhere. I was NOT interested in hunting bears. Then I popped over to my Facebook page and saw my friend, Alys at Gardening Nirvana had posted about the bear hunt too. Alys LOVES animals so I read the whole post.

The first bear I saw this week.

By golly, they are not real bears, just teddy bears and it made me smile. I had plans for this day. Writing wasn’t at the top of my list. It’s been hard to concentrate with all the racket across the street. Workmen sawing and hammering metal for the new neighbor’s carport. They have been at it three days already and I’m starting to fray at the edges. Alys’ post put that behind me.

My mom’s bear and a little German bear Hard to see in the window.

First order of business was to entice my daughter from work momentarily to help get bears in the window just so. They are hard to see with trucks in the way but later this weekend without mass construction vehicles, I hope they cheer a few passersby.

My daughter’s bear in his bowler hat.

Second order of business was my walk in the neighborhood to wave good morning to my friend, Emily and let her know (from the curb) about the bears. As I walked, I saw many bears in windows. When had that started. One has been there for quite some time but I didn’t know why. It was sweet to see.

Trio of bears on my walk

So, I looked online for where it started. Like Alys, I think it’s worth spreading to distract not just children but the rest of us from falling into despair over so much gloom. My walk was eye opening! So many bears in just a short distance. It was raining and my phone got a little wet along with me so who knows how many more there are in the neighborhood but I sure hope to spread the word and find many more when I get out in the dry air. I think this is a great way to cheer us all up. A way to say hi as our neighbors walk or drive by. Happy bear hunting to all of you.

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Are you finding interesting ways to cheer yourself and others?

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 a Rhodi

When I moved into my house last year it was the end of June and I had a lot to do. My back yard was starting to bloom and overrun with weeds but I had no idea what anything was out there and not much time to find out. We had a garden in California, much different from here in the Pacific Northwest and very little grew at our home in the mountains of Arizona. Our seasons on the mountain were snow, wind, fire and rain.

Mine bloomed just before the visit to the gardens

Mine bloomed just before the visit to the gardens

Can you see the big fat bumble bee in this one. It boomed after my trip. Who knew they could be so pretty.

Can you see the big fat bumble bee in this one. It boomed after my trip. Who knew they could be so pretty.

There were 4 or 5 bushes that did not that had no appeal for me. Turns out they were rhododendrons and peonies and they must have bloomed before I moved in. This year they finally bloomed so I could see what they looked like. Just in time, at least for a couple of them, for my field trip to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens.


In all the years I have come up to visit my sister, who incidentally lived within a couple of miles of this place, I had not known it was there. Thank goodness for our wonderful Senior Center. It was fun this way as we had a tour guide with a lovely German accent. She was 82 and a volunteer at the garden. She walked that entire garden with us and there was a LOT of walking.

All the gardeners are volunteers as well. According to Wikipedia, so I don’t get my facts incorrect:

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens are botanical gardens located between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course in southeastern Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon. The gardens, at Southeast 28th Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard, cover 9.49 acres (3.84 ha), and are named for Crystal Springs Creek, which flows along its western side. Crystal Springs Gardens feature more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants in a setting of small lakes, paved and unpaved paths, fountains, and small waterfalls.[1]

In addition to the manicured areas that make up most of the gardens, patches of less orderly shrubs, upland forest, marsh vegetation, and submerged logs attract wildlife, especially waterfowl, most prevalent in winter. The Rhododendron Society has counted 94 species in the garden, including grebes, herons, ducks, Canada geese, wigeons, gulls, thrushes, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others.[2]


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In addition to the lovely walk through the gardens, we stopped for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. I had a nice salad and then we were sent to wander the streets of nearby Sellwood in search of antique shops. Me, I found the craft store instead. Oh dear.

One last view of the water for that peaceful feel. Come for another visit anytime.

One last view of the water for that peaceful feel. Come for another visit anytime.

Do you have Rhodri’s in your garden and what’s your favorite of the colors? Have you taken any fun field trips lately?

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.”
Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of my Spring Project

It’s really here! The snow is gone but not the cold. We’ve had some lovely sunny days that had me out walking the area once it warmed a bit. Of course, walking warms everything but the nose and ears. I did four miles last Saturday looking for a mobile home community. I found it but it was filled with homes that had long since passed their expiration date and there was no yard space to make a nice garden. The more I look around at what I can afford, the better my rented apartment looks.

As the spring buds start to pop, I seem to finally be doing the same. Winter is so hard on those of us who are solar powered. Oregon is probably not the best place for me but I thought I could afford to live here. I may have to rethink that idea.

Seeing these made the 4 miles worth the walk.

Seeing these made the 4 miles worth the walk.

This bush is thinking about spring but not ready to commit.

This bush is thinking about spring but not ready to commit.

In the meantime, I’ve been inspired by the wonderful Boomdeeadda to make better use of what I have available.

These things will stay somehow. The rest will stay boxed for now.

These things will stay somehow. The rest will stay boxed for now.

These are in with the regular dishes for now. I can't put them all away!

These are in with the regular dishes for now. I can’t put them all away!

I have scrapbooking papers in my garage that I have not been able to get to in the last four years and four moves. Seeing the beautiful stuff she creates, I wanted to get my toys out to play with again. So the beautiful teacups were packed away for another time. I have been rummaging in the garage and organizing as I go. Much of what was in this old china cabinet will one day be passed on to my daughter or son. Maybe we can even make use of it once I find a real dining table. In the meantime, the cabinet will hold my crafting supplies as well as some sewing supplies as they tend to cross over their uses. In bringing out things from the garage, a great deal has made its way to the thrift store. Two trips so far this week and I still have a trip to the antique store to sell off some things I no longer have space to use.

Finally finished and up. Is it warm yet??

Finally finished and up. Is it warm yet??

I’ve done a bit of sewing to get a new spring sign made since I gave my sister-in-law the last one. This one is larger than I wanted but my attention to detail seems adrift these days. I used some different colors and fabric and put a binding on for a change. I have three more charity quilts to finish this month so there is no shortage of projects but the projects that make you clean and organize are the most productive and fulfilling. I’ll take a photo when the change is complete. My poor daughter is aware that her Sunday will be taken up helping me carry boxes up and down stairs. I bribe her with dinner out somewhere. We’ll both be too tired to cook.

I took a two mile walk this week in the mall since it was going to rain again, arriving early enough to catch something I’ve never seen before. Moms getting ready for spring too. I was walking too quickly to get a photo of moms gathered doing standing exercises by a little used entry with their little ones close by. The next trip around the mall brought enough awareness to capture this of the moms in front of Macy’s before the store opened. Later you could see them in a brisk walk with strollers and youngsters working to keep up.

I was floored! In front of Macy's no less

I was floored! In front of Macy’s no less

What a lovely, inexpensive way for young moms to get together and keep their children out of day care. I imagine there was a treat somewhere for the little ones after because they were exceptionally well behaved. They probably went home as tired as mom. I saw a few in their yoga pants passing through the book store as I sat sipping ice tea, perusing magazines and collecting yet another book. Yes, I’m embarrassed.

They were oblivious to the mall walkers. All that work before 10 a.m.

They were oblivious to the mall walkers. All that work before 10 a.m.

I know my friend at Gardening Nirvana has her spring projects all lined up. How about you? Is the hint of spring for those of you who are still suffering with the wild winter, bringing out a desire to start something to bring new bloom to your life?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Celebration

Today is my 64th birthday. I’m a little late in posting this weekend because I have spent the entire weekend celebrating my aging in unusual ways. Many think that we would not care to celebrate getting older, though I feel that each passing day is reason to celebrate. I’m still here and have another opportunity to make some difference in the world.

This lifetime has been a spiritual quest for me. I’m one of the many who question my reason for my very existence. The answer is still a bit elusive so it remains a quest. I am not speaking of religion though that was where my search started. It has a much broader spectrum now. Most days the question has been; how can I serve my world? Now it includes the question; how can I celebrate my life while serving.

Friday, I took the bus to our local mall. The driver is starting to recognize me. I did the early morning speed walk before the stores opened followed by an ice tea break then an hour or two in the bookstore. It’s where my sister-in-law always seems to catch me with her long distance calls. I think of her when I enter and sure enough, when I’ve found a quiet corner to browse, her call comes through. You can’t tell me telepathy isn’t real. Works every time. I found several great books and treated myself so I could add them to my personal lending library, The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Small in size, they are wonderful in content. They are a little help down the spiritual path.

I think there were at least six laps around that mall and several of them carrying books. So when my daughter picked me up after her early off day at work, we had a nice salad for a late lunch going home to read.

The next day my sister and her girlfriend wanted to take me somewhere I had not been before. Knowing my love of books, I was chauffeured to Multnomah County’s resale library in Northeast Portland. I picked out several wonderful books at an outrageously low price and my sister and friend made them a gift. The library makes a little for newer books. I was then taken to a lovely little pie shop where we sat in the sun and had wonderful conversation while watching people and their pets stroll by. The weather was PERFECT! We then all ambled through the one and a half-acre fabric store in Southeast Portland on our way home. I did go home empty-handed but inspired.

Today, my daughter and I had a lovely breakfast then drove to a local park to go Earthing. That’s a fancy word for taking off our shoes and socks and walking barefoot in the grass. It’s reconnecting with nature at its finest. I would never go barefoot in my son’s back yard because of all the stickers and lack of grass. Portland has lots of grass and everyone is welcome to stroll on it. That’s especially nice for all of us apartment dwellers. Nature feeds me just like a good meal with family and friends. That will be how I end my birthday.

We are going to a favorite German restaurant to have a good German meal and one cold German beer. Yes, I’m half German; the rest of me just likes any kind of food. When I get home to my daughter’s this evening, we will get more time to read and talk about the creative endeavors that we want to undertake this year. How much better can it get? Why is food such a big part of our celebration and our memories? If I celebrate much more, I’ll need larger clothes for my next birthday. I’ll toast to all of you tonight.

Laughter is the sun the drives winter from the human face ~ Victor Hugo

From my heart to yours,