Hello, I’m Karen. Welcome to my cyber suite. I’m not Merle, that was my father, but I’m honored to give my blog his name. He was hilarious, difficult, loving, and complicated, and his presence is filtered throughout these pages.

My very first post featured a letter my great-grandfather wrote to his daughter, my grandma Lalla, and was published here 100 years to the day after it was written. That post is called WHY GRANDMA CRIED.

Elsewhere on these pages you’ll find just about everything else that suits my fancy: photography, hiking, retirement, quilting, rescue cats, cooking and baking, gardening. I live in the Pacific Northwest and my husband and I try each summer and fall to hit the hiking trails as often as we can.

Please stop by the Say Hi! page so I can get to know you. Enjoy!

Me and our newest rescue, Otis.

Here’s a bit more about me.

The size of your britches?

I don’t care.

Whatever our calling, profession, race, religion, talent, politics, income level, gender identity, or size, I believe what matters most in this life boils down to one simple thing:

How we treat each other and how well we get along.

I don’t believe in blind acceptance of come what may, but I believe life is a whole lot better sprinkled with kindness.I believe we can disagree, with kindness and intelligent conversation. I believe in supporting one another and being positive.

Most days I’m incredibly content and find life to be very good, but sometimes life can be messy.

I write to cleanse.

I’m still learning (i.e. finding merle me).

Why am I here?

I want answers just like you. Now we’re getting somewhere.

I believe that our time is now, that we must live fully (and eat the chocolate).

Keep learning and keep living.

Finding Merle, dedicated to dad.

❤ Thank you for reading. ❤

  27 comments for “Merle

  1. February 23, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Great site Karen. Isn’t it exciting to be beginning a new chapter in your life. The best is yet to come…. It’s going to be fun tagging along on your journey and seeing the world through your eyes and words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 24, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Thank you so much! Yes, will be nice to see what you are up to through the pages of your wonderful blog. Thank you for the follow as well. Have a great weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. January 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Hi! It’s great that you named this blog after your dad. And that your first post was about your grandma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 19, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      Hi, thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Yes, they were both quite influential, and I miss them both every day. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  3. June 28, 2016 at 5:09 am

    Thank you for being a part of the willows #SHOUTOUT

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

      This is such a wonderful idea! Thank you as well. 🙂


  4. June 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Karen! I’m so glad that I stumbled across your blog. There is so much to explore! I just nominated you for the three-day quote challenge. There’s no pressure to participate, but if you’d like to read more about it, you can here

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      Lulu, Hi! I hope you are well. I must apologize: I just today discovered that many of my messages went to my trash file without my permission. This was one of them, so I aim now to go back and rectify this with a response, albeit delayed. I LOVE the three day challenges, but I did not see this until now. I am so sorry. Anyway, I thank you very much. I appreciate your thinking of me. How are you doing? I hope this finds you well. Again, my apologies. K.


  5. June 8, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Roxie is now in love with Gandalf because he’s beautiful and looks just like her. It appears from the photo of her in the vet’s sink, they’ve had similar experiences and react the same way. I think you have Roxie’s doppleganger!

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 9, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Claremary, this cracks me up! I missed your Roxie when I first perused your pages. She looks like a very sweet cat. Our Gandy is solid gray, not a speck of another shade can be found, so his full title, of course, is Gandalf the Gray. He is sleek and lithe, and moves like a panther; i.e. he appears to have a somewhat serious, scary demeanor. And, inside, he’s total mush. He’s a rescue cat therefore we know little of his past. I brought him home in early January and not once has he asked to go outside; it appears to scare him. She’s no longer with us, but when our 17 year old Blossom was here, if Gandy got too close, her sharp left hook had him running for cover upstairs and under the bed. He outweighed her by eight pounds. Total mush.

      Thank you for stopping by, and for the follow as well. Have a great day!

      P.S. I have a friend whose given name is Mariclaire, but she goes by Toni. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • June 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

        I am always happy to find another cat lover among our blogger friends. Blossom and Gandy are certainly lucky to have been taken in and loved by you. ZuZu was a baby barn kitten and Roxie needed a home, so we took them in. Roxie pretends to be an only child and treats ZuZu a an unwelcome visitor, although both arrived on the same day. When I was a child, I attended a French grammar school and was referred to as Marieclaire for many years. Does Toni know we have a French magazine named after us? Have a lovely weekend, Karen and thank you again for leaving such a nice comment. Clare aka Marieclaire


        • June 10, 2016 at 7:30 am

          Many thoughts come to mind, here. First: a French grammar school? I am a teensy bit envious. Please, spill the beans. Was that in the US? How long did you attend (and is it any wonder you write so well)? I studied French for six years and can read it better than I speak. I’d be lying if I said I speak French. Imagine living Portuguese while studying French. I was an exchange student (Brazil) during the summer of 1976. I was 17, and I’d had five years of French under my belt by that time. I visited again in ’06, and to my sheer surprise–not much writing or contact in the interim–I recalled much of that language. When I try to speak French, an odd Frentuglish comes out. 😉 I do better with our self-created Portugles (the language my Brazilian family and I use).

          I’m bettin’ Toni does know about your magazine. She’s a retired Spanish teacher and well-traveled.

          So, your given name is Claremary, but you go by Clare? Such beautiful names, Mariclaire and Claremary.
          Enjoy your weekend as well. Thanks for stopping by again. I will be reading more about Roxie and ZuZu soon. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • June 10, 2016 at 8:24 am

            Karen, Our educations followed a similar path. In RI, within our towns are many churches and the people who attend them belong to that parish. Although I was from an Irish family, I went to the local French-Canadian Catholic elementary school. No one in my family spoke or understood French, but being young, I learned it very fast. Just as you can recall your French, it all seems to come back to me when I need it – like on our trip to Paris a few years ago.
            I think you will enjoy the Roxie posts. I’ll be visiting your site again today and I look forward to it. Clare


  6. May 24, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Hey Karen, found my way here via Jessica from Unmeasured Journeys. Your site looks gorgeous and I can tell I already resonate with a lot of what you love. Family life, baking, photography, red wine … mmm, definitely things here I love. Nice to meet you. Cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 21, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Miriam, I am sorry for the delay in responding. I just today found out many messages went to my trash file without my permission, so I aim to respond to each kind person who wrote. You are one of them. That said, I am also glad you found me. As you know, we were recently hit with cancer at our house, but our news is good now and we are in a good place. I love your blog and love how you write. I’m trying to get back into this and do more reading. I usually read, but don’t comment–yet–because I am so far behind. Anyway, I am here…finding my way back. Thanks again for your kind comments. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 21, 2018 at 5:01 pm

        Hi Karen, I’m so glad to hear from you and I’m especially so happy to hear that your news is good after the cancer scare. You must be incredibly relieved. Thank you for your kind words here and I look forward to reading more from you. Writing’s such an incredibly powerful way of moving forward. Enjoy. ❤️


  7. April 23, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Stopped by to thank you for following and take a peak here. I love your about page. I too stalk high quality fabric stores. They wouldn’t let me move in. Your blog sounds interesting and I’ll be popping by again. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 23, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Thanks so much! 🙂 I will be checking yours….I love quilting and feel like getting back into it after a several-years hiatus. 😉 I love the title of your blog as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Thank you so much. Haven’t had much time for quilting lately. I’ll get back to it soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Amy
    December 8, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Thanks for following, and I am going to follow you on your journey as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • karenlee
      December 8, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Amy: you’re welcome! I love the paper trail and post about your aunt Elaine. This is fascinating. We have a fabulous paper trail, and I’ve finally decided what to do with great grandma’s letters from 1940-1952. I’m making a historical diary of sorts, using her letters, and it’s near ready to debut. I won’t sugar coat that she was often unkind (the why will be revealed as I “blog”), but this is the reason for the title The Malevolent Matriarch. Should be fun. I’m going to scour your family tree pages and see what names I may recognize. Your site looks great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy
        December 8, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        Thank you for the kind words! I can’t wait to read about your great-grandmother. It sounds fascinating.

        Liked by 2 people

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