Have Blog, Will Travel: Meeting the Marvelous Marlene

How do you measure the success of a trip?

Is it the time you spent laughing?

Laughing out loud at Fabric Depot. We don’t have anything like this at home. It’s an acre of fabric and sewing notions

Posing with Marlene in her lovely home with Pauline King’s original art work in the background

Trying to find our good side.

Perhaps it’s the wonderful meals you’ve shared?

Breakfast at Bob’s (see Marlene behind the piano player)

Can you define success by the unexpected moments (for instance going out for breakfast, only to discover you’re at a birthday party for Bob Moore)?

Bob Moore, CEO of Bob’s Red Mill on his 89th birthday

Maybe it’s the “eye candy” spotted along the way?

BBB = Big Beautiful Building for lease. I love the colors and shapes

Plants of Portland

As I write this I’m reminded that some of the best moments aren’t captured on a camera chip, but stored in one’s heart.

I’ve been following Marlene’s blog In Search of it All for nearly six years. We’ve followed each other around the blogosphere, too, gathering like-minded friends along the way.

The stars aligned on Valentine’s day and I got to meet the marvelous Marlene in person. I boarded a plane from San Jose to Portland, and finally delivered on that promised squishy hug.

Portland bound: San Jose Airport, Valentine’s Day, 2018

We recognized each other immediately. Steps after leaving the gate, I wrapped Marlene in a long embrace and I don’t think either one of us wanted to let go.

We spent our time together talking about family history. Marlene has a rich and interesting past, much of which she’s shared on her blog. What you get in person, though, are the rich details that deepen understanding and expand friendships. Who doesn’t love the give and take of a good conversation?

If you follow Marlene’s blog, you know that she has a devoted younger sister and a loving daughter and son. They’re always checking in by phone or text, looking out for one another in an endearing way. Marlene is a mama extraordinaire.

Marlene’s sister drove us to downtown Portland for an afternoon. We spent over an hour at Powell’s City of Books, which is like saying you spent an hour at the Louvre.  Powell’s City of Books occupies an entire city block. It’s the largest independent book store in the world! Powell’s has three floors with color-coded sections to help you find what you’re looking for on the map. Yes folks, if you’re looking for a book on crafting or art or…well, anything, you’ll need the store map. It’s the kind of bookstore that requires lots of time and a pair of comfortable shoes. Be still my heart. I can’t wait to go back.

Powell’s City of Books: a multi-story, new and used bookstore. It’s so big you need a color-coded map.

Marlene’s sister lives in Washington, but drove down for the day. She treated us to lunch at her friend Sheryl’s restaurant, then drove us around to some of the sites. It was cold and damp so we didn’t venture too far, but I’ve been making mental lists for future visits.

Marlene and her sister refer to this as the “mushroom house”.

Mushroom house windows

A spectacular view from the hills of Portland

I met Marlene’s lovely daughter Saturday. Marlene made us breakfast, and then we spent the day hanging out at home and doing a few organizing projects before my all-too-quick visit ended.

Together we moved this bookshelf into Marlene’s craft room. Check out her gorgeous button collection on the top shelf

Marlene also blogged about our time together. You can read her post here. I’m almost embarrassed to share it as to hear her tell it, I walk on water. My ego may never deflate. (Oh wait…I still live with a teenager. I’ll be back on the ground in no time.)

Thank you, Marlene for your generous hospitality including rides to and from the airport, the satisfying, home-cooked (vegetarian) meals and for all those shared cups of tea.

Have you met a blogging friend? Are you planning a gathering in the near future?

32 thoughts on “Have Blog, Will Travel: Meeting the Marvelous Marlene

  1. I was so truly delighted with your rendition of our visit. I’m going to steal the photos to keep in my personal folder. You get some great photos of us and all we saw. You have such nice details that I missed. I loved our visit and can never thank you enough for your vision and kindness. You have made my life so much easier so let the head swell a bit. I never imagined anyone could do what you did. And so quickly. I am eternally grateful. Giant squishy hugs. M

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. Alys, your photos of Marlene are so lovely, I think she should change her avatar photo to use one of them! I love hearing about blogging friends meeting, and the couple of times I’ve done it, I’ve gone away feeling that I have a much richer understanding of that person, having seen her in context. I am, of course, deeply envious of your visits to Fabric Depot and Powell’s….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I realised as I read this post that Marlene rarely mentions the incredible city she lives in – the big over-exuberantly coloured building is stunning eye candy! The purple plant – what is that? – amazing! A book shop that goes on forever; Joanna and I will be visiting soon!! And that incredible ‘mushroom’ house – I want to go live in that!! I hear little bits about Portland being an alternative place, a fun and interesting city, just a bit bohemian and you showed immediately why that might be so. You waved your magic wand around Marlene and made her glow – the photos of the two of you are just beautiful. You both look so happy! I feel a little bit like I was there with you both, listening to the conversation, enjoying the sights and rummaging happily about in those super dooper gigantic stores…….. What a wonderful visit you two had, I’m so glad you could spend that time together just sharing on a deeper level and smiling eye to eye and heart to heart. Wonderful!! Much love to you both xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Looks like a brilliant visit – for both of you. I have met a few fellow bloggers, but many of my correspondents are so far away. Kate Chiconi and I do chat via Skype, which is lovely, and there are several people who I write real letters to. This May, however, we are going to Scotland and I will get to meet Jenny (I am simply hooked) and maybe even Linne (A random harvest) who will be there at the same time (although logistically that might not be possible).
    I love the photos – the mushroom house, the painted building that lovely purple plant (looks like kale!) and wow! that’s a book store I’d love to visit.


  6. I just read Marlene’s version of the visit and what a great time you both had! Her spiffed up house looks so nice–what a great help you gave her. And I’m glad you got to see some of Portland–I’ve only been once and would love to go back. You’re a good friend, Alys!


  7. I enjoyed every bit of this post. What a wonderful visit – and city! It’s so thoughtful of you to help organize; you deserve your ‘walking on water’ status, even if it is only temporary – lol.


  8. Mushroom house!! ♡♡♡ Perfection. What a delightful little trip, Alys. Laughter is definitely a staple in my trips with friends. I love the community you share with your bloggy pals. I got to visit one friend in her town and several others at a blog conference. Can’t wait to meet you and Boomdee one day.


  9. Oh, how marvelous … EVERYTHING about this post is so heart-warming, Alys! You and Marlene really do seem like two peas in a pod; I’m so glad you were able to have this time together.
    PS: Jealous you got to meet Bob Moore! I love his products and have always been curious about the man behind the brand.
    PPS: V. jealous you got to visit Powell’s Books, too. Your description of it was perfect.


  10. What a nice trip, Alys! I’ll be going over to Marlene’s next, but I bet you reorganized!!!! And I have long wanted to go to Powell’s. A real bookstore is an amazing find nowadays!!! I would love to meet some of the bloggers I follow in New England, and may go up there this year. I think this actual meeting is a really good idea!!


    • Hi Lisa! We did indeed do some organizing and had a good time doing it as well. The time went by in a flash. It was great meeting Marlene as well as her sister and daughter. All told, we really packed in a lot for such a short trip (three nights and not quite three days). I’m happy to hear you’re considering a meet-up with other New England bloggers.

      Powell’s is extraordinary! New and used books, rare books, a coffee shop, fun cards and gift items, and of course that wonderful bookstore vibe. Someone asked “what are you looking for” and I think I was dumbfounded. One of the joys of any good bookstore or library is the browsing. I’ll know when I find it! I took my smallest suitcase, so I had to show restraint.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I popped over and read Marlene’s account of your visit and now have visions of you whirling around her house like a dervish in Wonderwoman fashion (maybe not wearing your knickers on the outside) stopping only for the odd bit of eye candy and refreshment. Sounds like you’ve made a big difference in Marlene’s life and enjoyed yourself at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn, you always make me smile! I love organizing and space planning. It was a treat working in Marlene’s space, finding ways to make things flow a little easier. I know she’s happy with the results, which makes me feel wonderful. We had a terrific time.


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  13. Alys, this is such a lovely post. I’m so pleased to hear you were able to visit Marlene. She has been raving about your blog to me for years. And YES! I have met one of my blogger friends in real life and it was Marlene herself. I haven’t met her daughter yet, but have met her sister and Tech Support. Isn’t her home beautiful and comfortable? I met another blogger friend who lives near Vancouver, BC. I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I get to meet Bloggers Laurie in Virginia and Derrick and Jackie in New Milton, UK. Those visits will take a little more planning….


    • Hello Crystal! How nice to find your note here. Thanks for all your kind words. I just spoke with Marlene this week, interestingly enough. I’ve not met Tech support but have met her daughter and sister so between us we’ve covered most of the bases. ;-). Marlene does indeed have a comfortable home, filled with all the things that make it uniquely her and also inviting. She made the most delicious meals for us when I was there, served wrapped around her soup cozies. I wish I knew a blogger in Vancouver, BC as it would give me yet another excuse to visit again. It’s been years! I’ve recently learned of Derrick but I don’t think I know Jackie. I hope you’ll meet them both one day. I’ve not met bloggers in three countries (the US, Canada and New Zealand) and I’m game for may more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My blogging community has really been a life support for me a couple of times. It is thrilling to meet them in person and find out they are exactly who I expected, and more! Marlene is particularly special and her love is so valuable to me. If you have read Derrick’s blog, then you’ve probably heard him mention the Head Gardener, wife, cook, mother, comedian and visionary, Jackie.


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