Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘writing class’

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 Good Enough…Almost

I have written four or five of these start-up posts but have discarded each and every one. I’m beginning to think I should just post a sign on my blog that says “Out to Lunch” for the months of January and February. My brain is still out even though my body just keeps moving back and forth to the kitchen.

There are clues to what is going on but like a giant puzzle, I’m still trying to piece it together. Can I blame the weather? It’s been very odd this winter. I tried blaming the holidays but they are long gone. That did get my sugar rush going big time and I’m finally wrangling it in. Maybe I just have a broken brain?

When the apartment emptied out after the holidays, I breathed a sigh of relief, and another of regret. I miss having someone around. It’s a mixed bag. Lately,I’ve been trying to find ways to connect and make friends here and given my inability to get out much, it’s not as easy as it was when I had small children and small dogs. What ice breakers they were. Now, I’m looking for people to connect with that share my interest in sewing, quilting and machine embroidery. I’ll go back to the writing class next semester if I find any brain function is left.

For now, I’m trying to finish things that were started eons ago and continue to stare at me demanding my attention. I buried some of it deep enough I couldn’t hear the screams. I’ve arranged to pass some off to someone more willing to complete what was an expensive undertaking. My sister-in-law is going to make up the little girl dresses I have patterns and materials for, since I have no little girls anymore. She has a beautiful little granddaughter. You know that phrase “my eyes were bigger than my stomach”? Well that, for me applied to fabric, patterns and books as well as food. I had a huge appetite that went all the way to my toes. (no longer true except for books) That’s how much fabric I have. So I’m going to finish 2 more shirts that I have cut out and pray they turn out better than this last one.

It looked better in my mind when I planned it. I call it Dumb shirt instead of Big shirt.

It looked better in my mind when I planned it. I call it Dumb shirt instead of Big shirt.

I have no idea what happened with it, but anything that could go wrong, did. I actually made the collar upside down and sewed it on that way, only to have to take it all apart and put it together again. I asked my daughter what she thought of the shirt when she was taking the photo. “Honestly, she said, it was not your best work.” I’ll put the pockets on today and use it as an apron or just to keep me warm around the house. It’s like my brain was totally out of the loop on this project. Here is where I had to say, “Good enough” and let it be.

Full of good intentions but I can't put it in the rag bag just yet.

Full of good intentions but I can’t put it in the rag bag just yet.

I found a quilt group close to my house that allowed me to join them. All they ask is that I contribute a twin sized quilt to the foster care kids as part of their charity activity. I’m still trying to finish the one I started 6 years ago, but will give it my best.

Every project requires some embroidery. My daughter calls this old lady tramp stamp

Every project requires some embroidery. My daughter calls this old lady tramp stamp

Through a friend in my writing group, I met a lovely young woman who is German and has volunteered an hour a week to help me relearn my language. The grammar is the hard part since that part was never taught to me. I needed something else to do, right? Have to do my lessons early in the day as the old eyes are not happy with the tiny print, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s keeping me out of the kitchen. Guess it’s time to get to work and see what else will get done “good enough.” At this point in my life, that seems to be the operative theme.

Do you ever say “good enough” and move on or do you toss what isn’t working out well? Share your struggles with me so I know I’m not alone in this.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Optimism

We are getting a whole new year. At least I hope it’s a whole one. I’m looking for a better one than the last. Not that the last year was awful, just…challenging. Apparently it shows up in my writing.

My stories for our memoirs class had a run of sadness to them. The instructor asked me point blank if I always saw the glass half empty. I just looked at her and shook my head no. Of course my face was frozen up from the stress of reading my story, so speaking elaborately wasn’t an option. As they proceeded on to the next story reader, I thought to myself, “Sure, I see the glass as half full all the time. Someone just shot the damn glass full of holes”. My optimism leaks out and is replaced with pragmatism. I read “Mark and Angel“, “Abraham-Hicks”, “Tut from Mike Dooley”, and everyone else that has something positive to say daily.

This is my computer wallpaper

This is my computer wallpaper

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what optimism really is. The online dictionary said this is the definition: “A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.” That’s what my daughter does. She’s been out of work twice this year and after a month, she can’t pay the rent or anything else. I want to be optimistic, I really do, but this is not looking like a short term problem. She was out of work for two years before finding temp work. That’s all she has had for the last year and a half, temp work. What is the best way for me to be helpful? It’s very tricky. When people I love are struggling, it causes me to feel stressed with them and it affects my outlook.

I’ve been looking for the last year for a home to purchase. There is very little available in my price range. They showed me a lovely place where the bedrooms must all be passed through to get to the bathroom and had no foundation. The realtor got really frustrated with me for turning it down. I couldn’t afford to rebuild it. I’m optimistic that the right place in my budget is out there and my daughter will find a real job that she likes. I’m optimistic that my son will find work in this area that pays what he makes in Los Angeles. Ok, maybe not as optimistic as I’d like to be on that one. I’m optimistic that this will be the year I get well enough to drive where ever I want to go. Health will no longer elude me.

it's too big and expensive but a girl can dream, can't she?

it’s too big and expensive but a girl can dream, can’t she?

I’m optimistic that 2014 will bring us all the good we have all been looking for. Are you an optimist or like me, more pragmatic? Has your glass been shot full of holes as well? What are you expecting from this New Year? Whatever it is, I wish you the very best 2014 has to offer.

Don't know where this came from but it resonates

Don’t know where this came from but it resonates

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Bit More Time

It’s here, it’s here and as usual, I’m not ready. Where did the time go? I realize I’m a good time waster. I love to just sit and read or write or even watch a good sappy holiday movie on television. I know, I know. Some of you are telling me to get rid of the TV so I can get more done. Have given that great thought but in the healing process, sometimes you have to just sit there and do nothing.

My kitchen helpers are busy too

My kitchen helpers are busy too

I made my lists, checked them twice but unfortunately, timing is everything and nothing ever goes according to plan. I forgot to make a shirt my son had envisioned for someone on his list because I couldn’t find the right shirt in a good color. So once he was here, I let him pick out the shirt and I worked at doing the embroidery, praying (really hard) that it came out straight. Very small shirt on very large hoop made me break into a tiny sweat.

It's a play on her name and it came out straight

It’s a play on her name and it came out straight

I managed to finish another batch of snowflakes with each taking 45 minutes to stitch out. I did get some reading done while keeping an eye on the machine and replacing bobbins as they ran out. Hard work? Not really.

The bakery is open and the fat friars are working hard.

The bakery is open and the fat friars are working hard.


Groceries were bought in the early morning hours when others were having their first cup of coffee so that’s done. But somehow, with company in and out and stuff being moved from one room to another to accommodate and visit, I let myself get too relaxed, falling a tiny bit behind, as usual. I no longer stress about the holidays but I always want to do one more thing. I just need a bit more time.

I’m not signing up for the winter semester of writing class to spend more time getting sewing and embroidery projects done. I don’t have the stamina for all of it but I will miss seeing everyone. We had a grand time at potluck in mid-December. Santa even showed up and had brunch with us.

Even Santa had a story to read. It was quite moving.

Even Santa had a story to read. It was quite moving.

Today we go see family and deliver our gifts to the youngsters. None is all that little anymore. My daughter has done her usual magic and made our tiny purchases look like they came from Saks Fifth Ave. I’m always happy to have someone to feed and spoil a bit so having company is a bit of heaven for me. Cooking for an army is easy, for one, not so easy.

May your day be filled with all the good we received. Yummy!

May your day be filled with all the good we received. Yummy!

So as you can see, I’ve run out of time and space and I know you have so little time left you probably won’t get to read this till next week, but that’s ok. Cut yourself some slack and if you find a tiny bit more time, ENJOY it! That’s what I’m going to with mine…if it shows up. Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday to you and yours.

Just one question. Are you ready for it to be over or are you already planning for next year’s Christmas?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Happy Halloween

We don’t get trick or treaters here at the apartment complex. There are mostly elderly and college kids living here. An odd mix I’d say but the few children that live here go to churches or parks that have arranged entertainment for them. It’s a different world than when my kids were little. The mothers in our neighborhood walked together with the kids for safety and we knew our neighbors. I do imagine that is still true in many places.

My daughter made a great witch. Almost no movement until the kids got real close.

My daughter made a great witch. Almost no movement until the kids got real close.

Last year I decorated, hoping that a few stray children would find their way here. Now I know better. This year I put up the few decorations I have and had all but written Halloween off as a lost cause. It can happen as you age. Bummer.

web shooting squirt gun got the porch ready for Halloween

web shooting squirt gun got the porch ready for Halloween

Then comes the announcement in my writing groups. Our leader is a sugar junky too and looks for reasons to get us connected and having some fun while struggling to bring stories to paper. We are having a Halloween party in both creative writing and memoir classes so I have to bring some kind of treat both days. I’m off sugar again so it will be something relatively healthy. I’m not a kid anymore and the treats stay around way too long…on my hips. It will give a new twist to a day that has brought some tough times. I wrote about some of it in last year’s post. This week, I wrote about my most memorable Halloween for my memoir class. There weren’t many to choose from. I may post it as creative non-fiction after giving it some careful thought.

They are writers, really! Great imaginations.

They are writers, really! Great imaginations.

October 31 is also my two-year blogging anniversary. The reason for blogging was to connect with someone who could give me insight into why I still had Bells and how to get rid of it. Well, the Bells Palsy is still here but my reason for blogging has little to do with it. I am still on the search for the best way to move through life with as much fun and joy as possible in spite of the small hitch called Bells. I have learned so much from each person who reads my blog and those that I follow. I’m trying to read more because you are all so varied and wise in different ways. So this Halloween is the start of happy and different Halloweens. I’ve included pictures of my creative writing class party as we read, write and eat. What fun it was. Also a few of the Halloween at my son’s house two years ago. He has a great neighborhood for trick or treating.

They take their holiday seriously like their writing

They take their holiday seriously like their writing

I wish you all a very happy Halloween and a lack of extra girth to your mid-sections. Have your Halloween’s changed over the years?

We have a couple in their 90's all the way to the 30's An eclectic group

We have a couple in their 90’s all the way to the 30’s
An eclectic group

From my heart to yours
Marlene Herself

In Search of Creative Non-fiction

Writing class started again after a months break. Class has taught me many valuable lessons. The primary lesson, I don’t know how to do fiction. I’m not good at making up stories. If I get a prompt that I have no way to relate to, I sit for days trying to make something up and it turns out awful. What I can do, is take those tiny bits of memories and embellish them to fit the prompt. So it is with this story. Most of it’s as true as I can remember but the ending was added to fit the prompt. Today, I’ll share what I’m best at, telling bits of my life.

Are We There Yet?

The house was empty. The furniture and all our belongings had been packed and taken to be shipped to our new home. Even the car was gone. Little Jimmy was getting a bath by the mother’s helper when I walked in to check how much longer it would take.

That’s when the plan started to crumble. How could Margaret not see that Jimmy had spots all over his body? Running into the living room, I announced to my parents, “Jimmy has the measles.” Mom’s face went white and dad rolled his eyes. “Are you sure” they asked? Heck, I was only 9 but I knew measles when I saw them. “Go see for yourself” I shot back.

All I heard was panic coming from the bathroom. Jimmy was whisked from the bathtub, dried and dressed. Mom said no one was to mention measles to anyone. Not one word was to come out of our mouths. They dressed him in a jacket and put a hat with ear flaps on his head. As we sat at the NCO club waiting for the bus to take us to the Frankfort airport, mom gave Jimmy orange juice and said if anyone noticed the rash, he appeared to be allergic to it. They had to make the trip because all our beds and belongings were already gone. No way was she staying behind with 4 kids alone.

Once we arrived in Frankfort, another delay. A problem with the plane seemed to be the next hold up. So we were confined to one hotel room until another flight could be arranged. Finally, we were all on the flight. Jimmy was again dressed in the unseasonably warm leather jacket and cap. Once we were airborne, we couldn’t be left behind. There was some relaxation in the parents. Until…

Ours was green

Ours was green

We waited in New York for our car to come off the boat. More confinement in a hotel room. Finally we were underway and managed to get as far as somewhere in Virginia. It has to happen. Just as Jimmy was starting to get better, the baby came down with the measles too and it made him sick enough to require a doctor. They found an emergency room and the next thing I know, blankets are tacked up all around the back-end of the station wagon. They had to keep the car dark. It also kept out any breath of air. It was late April but with no open windows we were melting in there.

Dad drove until he couldn’t. Mom had just learned to drive and there was no way dad was going to let her get us lost here. Sleep was done at roadside rest stops, then more driving down the entire length of the coast to Georgia. Meals came from a loaf of purchased bread and a package of bologna. Four kids, two of them ill, one hyperactive and one bored to tears was almost too much for anyone. Somewhere in South Carolina, mom started to cry. Her head in her hands, she wailed “aren’t we there yet?” No, we weren’t and it just kept getting hotter.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Cure

There are so many fantastic food blogs out there and I have been following a few. It happened accidentally. Romancing the Bee is a mixed bag of wonderful information about bee keeping, gardening and amazing recipes using honey among other great topics.

Texana’s Kitchen was a find from another blogger. This lady is hilarious. I’m always learning something new from her as I dab tears of laughter from my eyes. She also has some very profound points of view that I enjoy.

One of my fellow writing class students writes a food blog for a local paper. I mentioned that I was not a foodie but would read it anyway. Then I find out that the phrase “foodie” is now an insult according to floreakeats. I found this through Texana’s Kitchen. Who knew?

Not only did I not consider myself a foodie, I’ve had a love, hate relationship with food my entire life. I love food, but since the age of 8, I’ve used food for comfort. It’s been my stress reliever and the cause of it.

Before I started my health routine

Before I started my health routine

Cooking food is also how I love others. I was never a great cook. I knew how to cook cheap and feed many. On my first date at 17, I didn’t even know how to cut the steak my date ordered for me. I’d never had one. No one ever got sick from my cooking and my kids liked most of it. It’s the kind of cooking my dad called “belly filling”. I learned from watching my mother cook. I make a few things very well but there isn’t much variety.

When my family first moved to southern California in the late 70’s, we moved into our first real house though it was still a rental. I got my first crack at gardening and I found great peace in being outside. Our next door neighbor was a genius at gardening. One afternoon, she came to the fence with a bowl of fresh strawberries and a container of whipping cream. I thanked her profusely, looking at the whipping cream and strawberries like they were foreigners. In fact, to me they were. I had never prepared fresh fruit of any kind nor seen real whipping cream. Thanks to her patient instructions, I soon became adept at making the luscious treat.

Taste buds are a requirement for good cooking. Mine are missing. For the first half of my life, food was often scarce. Spices were nonexistant. People wondered how I could eat stale popcorn, chips etc. It was easy. If I found it and it didn’t move away, I ate it. Yes, I’m an addict and I had treatment for it. There is appears to be no cure but I’m finally once again, getting a handle on it. My diet right now is minimal to keep the addictions at bay. I’m adding as much spice to my food as possible to fool my brain into thinking it’s getting wonderful stuff.

So much better, still a long way to go.

So much better, still a long way to go.

When my scale finally reads (HEALTHY), I might try a few of those wonderful recipes I’ve read. In the meantime, I love reading about wonderful food and enjoying it vicariously. Maybe one day we will be good friends again. Do you have a good relationship with food?

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

Erma Bombeck

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself