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?

One, One-Thousand

Growing up I learned to count by seconds saying “one/one-thousand, two/one-thousand” and so on. This counting device has been rattling around my brain all week as I pondered my 1,000th post. I considered other titles but you know how it goes: this one (one thousand) stuck.

Of course as soon as I realized I was a couple of posts away from 1,000 I panicked. Should I write something profound? What if I don’t have anything profound to say? Could I just keep writing and ignore the milestone? Who would know or care?

Is it time to check my ego at the door?

After all, it’s just a number. I don’t remember my 100th post or my 650th post either.

Somewhere along the way I transitioned from being a writer who blogs to a blogger who writes to connect with kindred spirits around the world. To blog is to be a part of a community. I found my people!

Of course it didn’t take 1,000 posts to figure this out. I wonder, though if I would still be blogging without you. Here is what I know:

Bloggers are kind:

gifts from bloggers

Beautiful and creative gifts from fellow bloggers

After starting a blog, trips to the mailbox became fun again. My heart still skips a beat when I see postage from another country on the top of a package or on the corner of a postcard. There is a special thrill receiving happy mail the old-fashioned way. It’s ironic too, since bloggers meet in a uniquely on-line medium. When my sweet Slinky died, I received heartfelt condolence cards in the mail. They meant so much to me. I love the sweet notes and the clever postcards you send and I’m aware of the time and care that goes into sending them. We all hear about on-line nastiness, but I seem to reside in a bubble of blogging kindness.

Bloggers are generous:

Blogging give-aways

Framed picture,left: Pauline made this art using my father’s vintage stamps. It’s a stunning piece. Framed picture, right: A blogger give away (artist Pauline King) Bavarian quilt in background, right: A a blogger giveaway from Dani who sadly is no longer blogging.

Where do I start?  Bloggers carefully and thoughtfully read your posts, then leave amazing comments. It’s an extraordinary gift. It’s also common to find that a fellow blogger took the time to do a bit of research, before dropping a link relevant to the topic at hand. Several of you have hosted generous blog give-a ways. It’s always something clever and unique. I’m delighted when I win, which has happened twice! and equally charmed to see others take home the prize.

Bloggers are creative:

When I first learned about blogging, I thought of it as words without pictures, more of a log than anything else. Boy was I wrong. I follow mixed-media artists, painters, and card-makers, as well as bloggers who sew, quilt, knit and crochet. Extraordinary photographers expand my world while brilliant writers can make me laugh or weep. I’m learning about weaving, what it means to throw a shuttle and how to turn an IKEA chair into a work of art.  I took part in a Sisterhood Traveling Sketchbook, a Craft it Forward Project and a Cards for Katherine celebration. Beautiful art graces my wall and a light-catcher bounces sunlight around my kitchen. Each year a growing number of hand-made Christmas ornaments decorate our tree.

Bloggers are a wonderful excuse to travel:

Bloggers here, bloggers there, bloggers, bloggers everywhere: New York, Alexandria, VA, Washington, D.C, Jasper, Alberta, Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada, Radford, VA

Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine owning a mobile phone the size of a deck of cards that doubled as a camera while holding all my contact information, allowing me to listen to music or watch silly cat videos. Five years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would travel to Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York, Victoria and Edmonton to meet and spend time with fellow bloggers. Blogging opened up a whole new world. Friendships cultivated online continue to grow and thrive in person. It’s extraordinary.

And finally, what anyone who blogs, knows: A blogger’s comment can make your day.

Here I am at the end of my 1,000th post. Have I written something profound? Definitely not. But the experiences I’ve gathered along the way are profound. I owe it all to you.

Two, one-thousand…

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Friends Who Blog and an Enchanted Light-Catcher

Washington DC and Virginia

The Gathering of the Bloggers, Washington DC and Virginia, Spring, 2015

A year ago last spring, I spent an extraordinary week gathering with bloggers from around the world. It was an experience I’ll never forget. We traveled from Canada, parts of the US and as far away as New Zealand, gathering in Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

Laurie of Life on the Bike, and Julia of Defeat Despair, invited us to stay in their homes. They were excellent tour guides, showing us the sites and sharing stories about their community. Shelley, of Peak Perspective hosted several of us for an engaging afternoon atop a hill in Virginia. We enjoyed laughter and an amazing spread of food under the watchful, curious eyes of Haggis the dog.

Lisa of Arlingwoman provided local perspective as she guided us through the enormous Washington Mall. Her knowledge increased my enjoyment of the incredible history that resides there. We toured Lisa’s community garden and learned about her Plot Against Hunger.

We shared a meal with Lisa as well as Stacy of  Visual Venturing and Patti of Displaced Beachbums.

Rounding out this amazing journey: Kelly who blogs at Boomdeeadda and Kelly’s Korner  and Pauline of The Contented Crafter.

What started as “blogging friends” became “friends who blog.”

One of the visual reminders of our time together is my beautiful light-catcher. Pauline made one for each of us, selecting charms to reflect our interests and our lives.

You can see the amazing details in the short video below.

Five years and 940 posts later the most amazing statistic is this: there are nearly 16,000 comments on this blog. Comments become conversations, conversations lead to friendships and in this great big world of ours,  interesting, like-minded, bright, clever, talented, and wonderful people from around the world, log on and add sparkle to my day. I can’t thank you enough.

When Ordinary is Extraordinary

Sleeping Fairy Baby

Sleeping Fairy Baby

There’s nothing extraordinary about gathering around the table on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you’re eating a slice of toast or reheating your tea. It’s a cool, early spring day.

But this isn’t just any old Sunday. Gathered around the table is a group of women who’ve met through blogging. We’ve formed enduring friendships across the miles that allow us to sit comfortably in our pajamas, talking and laughing and sharing gifts. It feels as though we’ve known each other for a lifetime.

Aristotle said that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s how I felt the entire trip. Our shared energy and enthusiasm for each others lives was palpable. The ordinary seemed extraordinary.

On that same Sunday afternoon, Pauline who blogs at the Contented Crafter presented each of us with a hand-crafted, personalized glass and bead dangler. We were all ‘in the moment’ and didn’t stop of course to capture her words, but now I wish we had. Pauline gathered crystals, beads and charms then infused them with one-of-a-kind reflections of each of us. It was moving hearing her thoughts as she shared each one.

Once home, it was tricky photographing the full length of this charmer without sacrificing the detail. Instead, I’ve photographed it in sections, so you can see the charms up close. I took pictures of the dangler in my garden to maximize light, but when not on a photo shoot, it hangs in my living room window. It’s 22 inches (55cm) long.

Pauline captured my love of fairy gardening at the top. There is also a fairy baby since I enjoy nurturing the small children next door. The teapot represents sustenance (and also happens to be my beverage of choice). There’s a small clock in honor of my passion for organizing and a tiny book, celebrating our Little Free Library. There’s a cat of course, sitting on the moon. Isn’t it just like a cat to make itself at home anywhere?

There are two separate hearts, entwined to show our friendship and a third heart that says ‘Made With Love.’

I’ll say!!!

Pauline enriched the rest of the dangler with gorgeous stone, glass and crystal beads.

Here it is:

section one

Garden fairy, clock book

section two

Crystal beads in warm browns and purple hues, tea-pot and butterfly, cat on the moon

section three

Two hearts = friendship

section four

Beads, hearts and crystals

section five

Bottom half of fairy baby, butterfly and beads

DSC_0040

Part of a long strand of gorgeous beads and silver fixings

section six

Crystal globe

We’re all back home now continuing with our lives, but changed profoundly by the experience. When I see the dangler reflecting the light, I’m reminded that what makes ordinary, extraordinary is friends.

Generous Spirits, Caring Hearts

The goodness of bloggers abounds.

Bloggers near and far filled my mailbox these past several weeks with treasures of hand-made goodness. I’ve never  met the bloggers at In Search of it All or Garden Sunshine. Before blogging, I’d never meet Boomdeeadda either. Yet they all have one thing in common: a generous spirit and a sharing heart.

Once upon a time there were pen pals. You mailed letters to someone you didn’t know who  lived on the other side of the world. If you were lucky, they wrote back.  Now we blog.

Gardening Nirvana came to life as a place to write about the things I love.  I never dreamed of the community that would gather around it.  Who could imagine the connections, the learning, the support and the fun that blogging had in store? I came for the writing and stayed for the friends.

If you blog with regularity, you know what I mean.  If you’re new to the medium, you have wonderful things to look forward to. Finally, if you’ve never blogged, start today.  You’ll be glad you did.

In Search of it All

The lovely, lace embroidery, below was a ‘just because’ gift from Marlene Herself at In Search of It All. Isn’t it beautiful? Marlene blogs from the northern state of Oregon. She describes herself as “a young at heart senior citizen that still has more questions than answers.”  She enjoys reading, sewing, quilting and of course writing. Pop on over to her blog to read her unique perspectives of the world. You’ll be glad you did.

Embroidered lace snowflake

Embroidered lace snowflake by Marlene Herself

embroidered lace

More embroidered lace from Marlene

Garden Sunshine

Diane blogs from Ontario, Canada. She shares her gardening progress on  7+ acres of land at Garden Sunshine. Her photos and projects are stunning. Garden Sunshine sent the blue heart pin, cotton square and calendar, lovingly crafted while she waits for the sun to shine again. Apparently I’m her top commenter. Who knew? Thank you for the shower of gifts.

Stars and hearts pin

Stars and hearts pin crafted by Garden Sunshine

Hand-knit cotton square

Hand-knit cotton square by Garden Sunshine

flower calendar

Garden Sunshine photo calendar and notebook

Boomdeeadda

For those of you familiar with the “Boom Room”, it will come as no surprise that this little treasure arrived from Edmonton, Canada via Boomdeeadda. Kelly describes herself as “living the dream with Mr Right and two rescue cats, Petals & Blossum. Life and Love is enhanced by the many on going projects.  This is a Journal of these and other bits along the way.”

Through blogging we’ve formed a close friendship. We celebrate our kindred spirit, which extended beyond blogging into texting, phone calls, Skype sessions and in-person visits. Next stop, the Ellen Show.  😉

layered card and envelope

Hand made goodness from Boomdeeadda

Virtual Gifts

versatile_bloggerSpecial thanks (and apologies for not acknowledging this sooner) to Pauline at The Contented Crafter. I appreciate your kindness and support.

sunshine blogger awardA warm thank you to Val at Nikitaland for passing on a bit of sunshine. Much appreciated.