I Wish I Had Learned This Sooner!

pomodoro timer

Do you find yourself procrastinating when there is a deadline approaching, or something unpleasant needs doing?  Welcome to the club!

However, in Learning How To Learn, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Coursera.org, taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, through, UC San Diego, I learned that procrastination can be overcome!  Understanding why procrastination happens, and what to do about it, has helped me enormously.

The pain center in our brain lights up when we’re faced with something we’d rather not do, so your brain experiences procrastination as a form of pain.  Staying in the process of what you’re working on, rather than focusing on the finish, or result, helps eliminate the ‘pain’ associated with what needs doing.

A great technique described in the course is setting a timer for 25 minutes, or perhaps a reasonable amount of time to complete, or make good progress, on the task, and rewarding yourself.  Maybe it’s a nap, a walk, or some other, healthy, bonus for working through your allotted time.  Known as, the Pomodoro Technique, this helps to focus on working, as well as setting a limit, while knowing you’ll give yourself a treat for work well done.

Another important aspect of the Learning How To Learn course, was understanding our two modes of thinking and learning.  We all know about the focused mode, but I didn’t know about the diffuse mode of learning and thinking.  This relaxed mode happens during sleep, where our brain works on problems without our consciously thinking about it, and when we are doing other activities, like walking, or other exercise, or when we’re taking a shower, or just ‘spacing out’.

We sometimes gain insight into a difficult problem, or come up with seemingly random solutions, by letting go of our focused mode of attack, and giving our free-form, unconscious mind a chance to work on it.

Spaced-practice, or spaced-repetition, is another concept I learned that helped me a lot.  In learning how to play my guitar, I began by practicing for hours, going over notes, chords, theory, and playing, which got me bleeding fingers and not really much gelling in my head. When my fingers healed, I applied spaced learning, by taking a break for a day, then returning to practicing no more than a half-hour a day (understand that it was super tough for me to let go of trying to master the guitar in a month…), and to my delight, I’ve begun understanding more, and next week I’ll be at Carnegie Hall!

OK, I’ll be cleaning Carnegie Hall, but one day I could be playing there!

There is so much more I gained through this course that this could be the longest blog post I’ve ever written, but I suggest Dr. Oakley’s wonderful book:

A Mind For Numbers, as well as taking Learning How To Learn, Dr. Oakley, and Dr. Sejnowski’s, 4-week MOOC, where they include lots of excellent guest-speaker videos that further illuminate their subject.

Happy learning all!




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current



Trouble, Trouble, Trouble

UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Fred Rogers, the host of the children's television series, "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980's. (Photo by Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)

UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Fred Rogers, the host of the children’s television series, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” sits for a promotional portrait in this picture from the 1980’s. (Photo by Family Communications Inc./Getty Images)

I keep remembering what Fred Rogers, (Mr. Rogers), said about times of trouble – to look for the helpers.  There are so many helpers everywhere.  We should take in all the refugees we can – they are desperate to leave their homeland.


There is nothing there for them but desperation, sickness, torture, and death.  They want to live.

Will they bite the hand that feeds them?  Would you?  Maybe someone will, but that’s a sick soul, and maybe those sick souls will find healing instead of more ways to hurt.  We have many sick souls born here – children killing children, men and women shooting up schools, theaters, restaurants – all seemingly random – or told to them by terrible voices in their heads.

We’re not going to rid the world of evil, but we can minimize it with goodness.  It’s the only advantage in the face of evil – our way to ‘light a candle instead of cursing the darkness’.

It takes logistics, money, volunteers, or paid workers, to help house, feed, clothe, and educate refugees – so much that is beyond my abilities – but that will be good use of government.  Accepting refugees will put more people to work, give more people purpose, and certainly give those tired, hungry, and poor, some hope.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

November, Present

The balmy morning, so unusual in the Northeast for November, beckoned me outside, even though the heavy grey clouds threatened rain.  Chancing a walk, break-through sunshine rewarded me with its warmth as I stood with upturned face, grateful for the bounty.

Do the trees, and hills, and sky feel my appreciation?  Is there a quantum transfer leaving us both changed?

I sit, watching the mill brook water rush over the ledge and rocky stream bed on its way to a river, which will eventually deposit in the sea.  A rush of ochre-hued oak leaves tumble into the flow – most being swept downstream – while many other leaves jam up on an exposed ledge, several breaking away when the rock can hold no more.

How many years has this pattern continued, and how has the ledge been worn by the water and weather’s destruction?  I’m not looking at the same stream bed I saw last autumn, I know, but it feels unchanged except for the knowledge that new leaves are falling into new water.

A tree trunk lies along the stream bank – had that been there last year?  Was the slim, young birch pulled over like that, appearing as if to sip from the clear pool below it?

Another, older birch, its white bark illuminated, shines like a sentinel among the dark wooded oaks and pines, three thick, crooked branches jut into the air, appearing like a trident, perhaps, forgotten by Poseidon.

The dank, musty air, particular for autumn, stimulates undefined memory, and I thank the land for making me richer this rare day.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

For What It’s Worth

I understand this makes me an insensitive cretin, but I wish collections would be taken up for those of us in dire need, but not having some dread disease.  It seems that’s the only time people are willing to help – even a dollar or two – if that’s all they can do.

Terrible diseases and disaster compel people to give, perhaps as a bulwark against ever facing that illness or circumstance themselves, paying it forward, in a sense, or maybe just as a caring human being, but only willing to help when the need is life or death, and not just poverty’s scourge.

Poverty is viewed as self-inflicted, so less worthy of help – especially from a stranger.

Disaster impels us in a way that ‘ordinary’ trouble doesn’t.

Except, I have a friend who has always been there in my darkest hours, offering hope, if not some tangible sustenance, and I’ve been that for her as well, but as both of us have been in deep poverty, we can never offer more than a bandage, even if those stop-gap measures have helped us through many extra-rough patches.

I don’t want a terrible illness, and I wish for those people to get well – and I’m grateful that people give to defray medical costs, or other ease for those sufferers.

A champion is required for me, as it’s seen as gauche to plead on your own behalf.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Back In Time With You

I missed you more intensely this year.  Remembering our trips to the library every year, you picking out books you wanted to read, or have me read to you, and me picking out scary and fun Halloween stories to read together.  I miss how you’d cuddle up on my lap and play with my ear as I read to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad you’re grown up and handling your adult life beautifully, but sometimes I feel like we’re near strangers, and I struggle knowing what to talk about now.  Wanting a separate life with little contact is understandable – I remember being your age – although I can’t know your perspective as a man.

Life changed when I had you.  My life was no longer solely my own, and becoming a parent changed me in ways you can’t know unless you become a parent.

The struggles we endured as you grew have not faded, but I think I handled them well.  An image flashes of you at fourteen standing stock still while I hugged you, telling you I love you, and even though you were changing, I was not.  You did, at least, allow me to hug you.

We got through those dark times, even if sometimes the memories still tear me up, and I wish my best memories with you were more current, but I’m reminded of our sweet and happy times together every year.

Holidays heighten my old loss with you, that necessary loss we all experience, and even though I’ve spent time reading to other people’s children at a play-group, or with the children I cared for, it isn’t the same.

The sadness only lasts a few days, and sweet memories are there too, but missing you pushes out better feelings I try to invoke, and it’s OK to feel this – especially as I have little control over its insistence.

Shame that I’m not wiser, happier, better, more emotionally balanced, presses in, and my best weapon is non-resistance.

This is depression’s scourge, my trauma brain – whatever – and minimizing my reality by suggesting I ‘choose happiness’, or other platitudes, only increases isolation.

It took all this to say I miss our connection; I miss the boy you were, even if I celebrate the man you are.

Halloween, S. Portland, ME Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

I hope you had a fun Halloween.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Have A Fabulous Halloween

What type are you?  Like to throw lavish parties, or perhaps a more intimate gathering?  Whatever your festivity profile is, here are some simple steps to make this Halloween fabulously fun!

If you like lavish costume parties, or unhooked dance-a-thons, you’re a planner, so you have nearly everything ready; but, if you’re like me, it seems party day comes up all too soon.

Don’t have that scarecrow you were going to have made yet?  Neither do I!  Dig out some balloons, if you can find them, or if you have them – or go buy a package at a dollar store.  Long skinny balloons fill the arms and legs nicely, and round balloons will fill the body.   * Tip: Bigger balloons are better to fill the main body, but you might like a variety of sizes – experiment!

If you don’t fill the balloons too much, they’ll be less likely to pop when you’re stuffing, or moving your scarecrow into position.  You can use a pumpkin-shaped bucket with a straw hat for the head, decorate a large balloon, and tie a hat on it, or sew a head-shaped pattern, draw your scarecrow’s face, put a balloon in the opening you left for stuffing, and then blow the balloon up, or stuff  your scarecrow’s head with fiber-fill or some other suitable material, and add some straw coming out of the hat, as well as straw sticking out from the cuffs of the sleeves and the pant legs.


This year, I shoved a bunch of cornstalks up against the garage, meaning to make an artistic arrangement later, but I never got to that either, so putting a pumpkin next to it makes it look rustic – and I saved myself a bunch of time!

Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

Making your home festive is a snap too!  Press a few vinyl clings on your window, or glass door, get a Halloween or fall-themed dish towel, some pumpkins, gourds, and a few pots of mums, and you’re done!

20151028_115617 20151028_115624 20151028_115726 20151028_115729 20151028_115733 20151028_115755 20151028_115815

Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

Now for the invites.  If you’re a planner, you’ve already sent them, and because your parties are always fab, you’ve gotten RSVP’s too.  However, if you’re like me, you’ll have to contact everyone by phone, email, and social media to alert them of your event.

Of course, they all already have plans, so they won’t make it, but I can freeze my Harvest Pumpkin Soup, my Cinnamon-Nutmeg Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and my roasted Brussels’ sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes, for another day.

The pumpkin pie, and meticulously made (ordered) graveyard cake will last forever in pictures, even though the scent of the hot-buttered rum cider can’t be captured, and it will be drunk – and I’ll be drunk – by myself, as my S. O. rarely drinks, and doesn’t like rum.  Yo, ho, ho…

It’s too bad I ran out of time to carve the pumpkin, it really was the perfect shape.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Changing Leaves, Changing Attitudes

I practically needed a crowbar to get myself out of bed this morning.

Way over-doing brush cutting and hauling scraps out to a pile at my mother’s place left me with contracting pain down my right arm, making it impossible to sleep, so I took a muscle relaxer, which; while it helped, also relaxed everything – and I still feel like my head weighs a ton.

We’re at another end of October, the summer’s retreat depressing, but autumn’s offerings somewhat eases the transition.  The turning leaves have been spectacular, and it’s been lovely to witness.

Montague, MA

Montague, MA

Our local Pumpkinfest took place this past Saturday, October 24th.  One of my girlfriends invited two of us to sing back-ups with her for, Curly Fingers DuPree, a great local band, so we debuted as the ‘Curly Q’s’.  It was so much fun, and as with most shows or events I’ve been involved in, there’s the anti-climax feeling when it’s over – like, ‘that’s it?’  Heavy sigh.

Photo Credit : Vinny Natale

Photo Credit : Vinny Natale

Photo Credit : Vinny Natale

Photo Credit : Vinny Natale

I broke up with the best guy I’ve ever dated, and I started listening to suicide’s siren call again.  If I go that route, I know I’ll cause irreparable harm to my son, my S.O., and many friends and family.

I actually opened my virtual ‘coping toolbox’, and found a reason to hang on another day.  I’m doing what I can to stay positive as the darkness and cold increases.  I’m using all the attitude adjusters I know to not slip down.

Sometimes keeping that guttering candle of hope burning is as easy as lighting a new candle with the old flame, but other times a bonfire is needed, and as many others before me have said, it’s better to have a full ‘coping toolbox’ when times are easier than trying to fill it when I’m desperate, and not in my right, or wise, mind.

I am where I am, and much like the late, great, Yogi Berra, said: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Oh, and my S. O. told me he’ll only break-up when I’m not depressed, then he’ll know it’s real and not from ‘the dark side’.  Amazing man, that one.  He is either an idiot, or he sees what I can’t.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

California Morning

You know those moments you have: you step outside and the scent, and feel of the air, the time of day, the light’s slant,  and shadows interplay, perhaps – or the trees, and several things in your surroundings at once – brings you through time?

I could have been back in 1995, San Diego, California, yesterday.

My ride dropped me off, and as I stepped out, swirls of mist rose in the morning sun steaming off the pavement and walkway ahead of me.  The warm day, odd for this time of year,  added to the sense of somewhere else, and the aroma of damp leaves and earth, the look of the concrete steps and iron railing – the experience’s totality – was remarkable. (Thus, I am remarking?…)

The moment was imbued with the best of my experience of that time.  Heading to the Small Computer Repair course I was taking then, I passed the handsome coffee-cart guy every day, and more often than not, two or three leggy, beautiful, younger, blonde girls were flirting with him while he made their lattes or macchiatos – whatever was hippest to drink back then.

So it was surprising that he paid any attention to me at all.  The times I could afford a coffee, he chatted me up rather than vice-versa; asking me questions about my classes, how it was going, or wishing me a great weekend on Fridays.  I passed by him every day and he never failed to say hi, or wave if I was rushing to class that day.

I sometimes wonder if I had had more money to spend on coffee if it would have ended in a date with the cute barista, or if I was refreshing because I wasn’t the typical beauty vying for his attention, or because I didn’t fawn over him.  If only he knew that it was that I didn’t consider myself in the same league, having been told directly by more than one guy I wasn’t anything special. Their jerk-factor notwithstanding, I felt I was attractive, I just wasn’t spectacular.

So much of my time in California is a blur now.  I remember being there, but don’t remember day-to-day feelings, especially when depression threads its constricting tentacles around and through me, dulling my memory as well as my present.

Being granted that visceral time snippet helped me remember I am fully alive, that I have been present to myself and others, and I put that sweetness in my mental ‘cope box’, hoping I’ll know, or be able, to open it when depression barges in again.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Paradoxical Life

I re-read that many suicidal people, if not most, want to end the pain, not their life.  Lately I wake, usually in serious pain, and my first thought is how I can die with the least suffering for those around me.  How and where to end my life, what arrangements I should make.

After moving around, or doing my PT stretches and core exercises, as well as just getting on with the day, the desire to die lessens, and I think about how to make my life more manageable and more pain-free.

Drugs definitely help the pain, but have other effects, like addiction, or severe itching, as well as other unpleasant side effects.

I don’t enjoy events, or my friends, as much as I used to.  It’s not a big leap to go from here to not here anymore.

Gray days like today increase my dark mood, and I have to remember that I have a full-spectrum light-box to start using this time of year.  I also turned on all the lights in the common area, so I’m not sitting in gloom.

Time-management is super tough for me.  The to-do list is large, and taunts me with nothing being checked off, except, I am writing.  I will make food.  Laundry is being done.  It wasn’t on the list, so I put it on, and cross it off.  Maybe more gets accomplished than I know, and I’ve created a poor list.

The new list reads:

Get out of bed


Drink water

Eat something

Brush my teeth


Start household tasks

Tell myself I’m doing well.

Look at the big TO-DO list and see if there is one thing I can accomplish.  Can I do it now? Remember there is nothing I can do about the past.  Ask for forgiveness of self and others, and move on.  Focus on what is getting done – stay there.

I understand my day’s list is some else’s ten minutes, but that someone else probably isn’t anxious and depressed.  That someone manages well – has good skills.  I manage damn well for where I am.

Smile – even a half-smile – like an exercise move.  Stop the self-hate, and the judgement.


Keep breathing.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current


The Blue Guitar

Once there was a girl who sang.  She sang her heart out to all her favorite songs on the radio, to songs others made up and sang around her, and to her own songs that she kept in her heart and mind, but didn’t know how to strike the chords to bring out what she played inside her.

She bought a guitar and tried to play it – so many times – but it wasn’t like singing.  She had trouble with her fingers on the strings to make chords, and didn’t understand things like thirds and fifths and sevenths – it all sounded like calculus to her, and she was terrible at math.  So, she gave up.  She didn’t get rid of the guitar, and did learn to play one song on it.  It was a folk song her best friend had sung when they were twelve, and she never wanted to forget it, and if she could only ever play one song, that was the one she wanted to play.

Time passed.

She had a son, and he sang all the time once he figured out language, and she sang too, but the guitar sat in its case.  At least it wasn’t gathering dust.

She brought out the guitar and played her one song now and then, but even that song was hard to switch chords, and she never got the hang of it and thought she must be that stupid.  She could sing but she wasn’t smart enough to know music.  Her guitar became art.  It reminded her of all the beautiful songs she had ever heard, and all the vibrant, robust, sad, powerful , joyful, ecstatic sounds that came out of that one instrument.

It was a savior and a nemesis.  How could that be?

She finally closed the guitar in its case and thought about selling it.  She brought it to the music store and the man behind the counter came around and took her guitar and started strumming.  He told her that it was a beautiful guitar and he could not give her the amount it was worth, and if she thought she wanted to play, she needed to keep it.

The guitar sat while she looked longingly at it for another year.  One day, she saw an advertisement for another guitar – shhhhh – is it even okay to get another guitar when you aren’t playing the one you have? – please don’t tell!

This one is blue, and smaller, and it’s blue!

photo by Jerri Higgins

photo by Jerri Higgins

She loved it so much she got out her old ‘Standard Guitar Method’ book one, and began.  It’s been two weeks and she hasn’t stopped practicing.  Her fingers hurt, and she’s frustrated, and feels stupid, but every time she picks up her Blue, she feels like she’s home.  It’s OK to be stuck at level 1 forever, if that’s all she can do, because she has never felt so happy to be so terrible at something.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

As it Is

Long ago,  I was told that I asked for or created everything that has happened and will happen in my life, and although my wise mind knows that’s not quite the truth, the rest of me battles to remain alive.

I’m not sure why I’m here, or why I should stay, except for my son.  A therapist told me that if I leave, I give my son permission to leave too, and I wonder if that’s a bad thing.

This is not a kind world.  It’s a world you have to be tough in.  You have to be strong and pliable, and that’s a survival of the fittest thing.

Am I here on purpose? If so, to what purpose? Did I fulfill it already by having my child?

If I could design my life, it would look so different from what it is.

I’d live by the sea in a moderate home, leaving as small a footprint as I could while still enjoying my life.

My bucket list would be empty, or very low.

Bills would be paid without anxiety of what else would suffer, and all my medical/dental needs would be taken care of.

Life might not be a lark, but it sure would be easier.

I think of the few 1%er’s in American society, and perhaps the world, and what it must be like to not worry so much about your life – to have your needs met, even if you don’t get all your ‘wants’.

My son told me he’d be sad if I were gone, and I understand, but he’s not seen the true suckage of life yet.

A psychic that I lived with when my son was a pre-schooler told me that she was fighting entities off every night for me when I lived with her, and it was exhausting so I needed to deal with them myself.  I remember that the ceiling popped every night but I thought it was just the roof cooling off or something.  After my housemate told me I had to deal with whatever the spirits wanted from me – that I ‘owed’ them – I talked to what seemed the air one night, saying that I was sorry for whatever was happening because of me, that I wanted them – whatever – to go to the light, that I didn’t know what I owed them, and please forgive me, and whatever else I could think of, and the next night, and every night after, the ceiling never popped again.  My housemate told me that whatever I did or said, worked – that she was no longer being bothered by entities that weren’t getting through to me.

I messed up my life so much, and know I can’t recover without a bona fide miracle, but I’m still here.  I’m too afraid, yet, to take my life, but I’m hoping I’ll overcome the fear.  If something else happened that was better than that, I’d be so happy.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current


Festive Autumn

Massachusetts Postcard

Autumn always filled me with excitement as a child – mostly the thought of Halloween and what I would be that year – and how much candy I could get…  I also loved making leaf piles and jumping in them with my best friend, and the pungent odor of fallen oak and maple leaves still brings those happy memories up front, as well as crunching through fallen leaves on a crisp October evening’s walk, watching curls of acrid wood smoke from various chimneys, the scent lingering on the air, reminding me of warming up by a bon or campfire on colder late autumn and winter nights, made especially nice by a steaming mug of coffee, or sweet, hot cocoa, and lively company.

Bonfire Night

Autumn tree

In honor of so many festivals and fairs celebrating the harvest and helping the (for me) tough transition from summer, I offer a listing of many Massachusetts fall events.  Unfortunately, a lot of them fall on Columbus Day Weekend, so choosing what to attend could need a print out of events and a dart board to tape it to. :-)

If you’re not close enough to enjoy any of these events, I’m sure there are festivals and celebrations wherever you are too.


Western MA Autumn Happenings:

 http://www.historic-deerfield.org/event/hands/focus-fridays-chinese-export-porcelain-tea-set-2/?eID=18260   Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA, Focus Fridays: Old Burying Ground, Oct. 2 & Oct. 30, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 http://warebca.com/fall-fest-2014/   Ware Annual Fall Festival, Oct. 3rd, 2015, various events & venues, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

 http://www.fallfoliageparade.com/   Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade, North Adams, MA, 60th Anniversary: Sunday, Oct. 4th, 2015 – 1 p.m.


~ Columbus Day Weekend ~

http://salmonfallsgallery.com/   Shelburne Falls Art walk & artist’s reception, Shelburne Falls, MA, Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://www.paradisecityarts.com/   Northampton Paradise City Arts Festival, Northampton, MA, October 10, 11 & 12, 2015, Sat & Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Mon. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://www.thebige.com/   The Big E Fair, West Springfield, MA, September 18th – October 4th, 2015. Gates open 8 a.m.

http://www.topsfieldfair.org/  Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, MA, Fri, Oct 2 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, Oct. 2, opens 1 p.m., Oct. 3 – 12, 10 a.m.

http://www.ashfieldfallfestival.org/  Ashfield Fall Festival, Ashfield, MA, October 10 &11, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – both days – rain or shine.

http://www.berkshirebotanical.org/see-and-do/harvest-festival/harvest-festival-home-page/  Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival Stockbridge, MA, Saturday and Sunday October 10th and 11th, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – rain or shine.

http://exploreadams.com/play/ramblefest   Ramblefest, Adams Visitors Center, Adams, MA, Oct. 11, Noon – 5 p.m., – Oct 12, 2015, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://bazaar.culturalsurvival.org/amherst-common   Indigenous Cultural Survival Festival, Amherst Common, Amherst, MA, Sat. Oct 10 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.riversidebluesandbbq.com/   5th Annual Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ, Greenfield, MA, October 10th & 11th, 2015, Noon – 6 p.m. both days

http://www.townofgranville.net/   34th Annual Granville Harvest Fair, Granville, MA, October 10th – 12th, 2015, Oct.10, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Oct.11, Noon – 5:00 p.m., & Oct.12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

http://trinityspringfield.org/wp/?ai1ec_event=12th-annual-fall-craft-fair&instance_id=9168  Trinity United Methodist Church, Springfield, MA, Fall Craft Fair, Sat., October 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 http://www.parkhillorchard.com/art   Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA, Art In the Orchard, August 13 – October 31, 2015, a walking sculpture trail winding through fruit gardens

http://mikesmaze.com/   Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm, Sunderland, MA, is open Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays, September 12 – November 8, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinfest   6th Annual Pumpkinfest, Turners Falls, MA, October 24th, 2015, 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.nrm.org/event/pre-halloween-tour-luminaries-exploring-stockbridge-cemetery-2/?instance_id=42778   PRE-HALLOWEEN TOUR Luminaries: Exploring Stockbridge Cemetery, October 29, 2015, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

http://www.craftsofcolrain.com/index.html  Annual Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.hitchcockcenter.org/programs/adult-programs/natural-history-programs-series/#familyprograms   Pumpkin Carving, Thursday, October 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.  & The Enchanted Forest: A Non-scary Halloween Event, Friday & Saturday, October 23 & 24, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

http://ontrendcrafts.com/upcoming-events-72615/  OnTrend Fall Craft Fair, Hadley Town Commons, Hadley, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.


~ A few notable annual festivals and events in Central, Northeastern and Southeastern, MA:

http://www.wachusett.com/EventsActivities/AppleFest/tabid/362/Default.aspx  Mt Wachusett 32nd Annual Applefest, October 17-18, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.westendfallfestival.com/  West End Creamery, Whitinsville, MA, Corn Maze, and Fall Festival, Weekends Sept. 12th, through October 25, 2015

http://cmschamber.ning.com/page/harvest-festival  26th Annual Harvest Festival, Sturbridge, MA Town Common and grounds of the Publick House Historic Inn, October 17 & 18, 2015, Sat.,10 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Sun., 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Rain or Shine.

https://www.nantucketconservation.org/activities/cranberry-festival/  13th Annual Nantucket Cranberry Festival, Milestone Cranberry Bog, Nantucket, MA, Saturday October 10, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – rain or shine


Jack-o'lantern 2012

~ Halloween Related ~

http://www.hauntedhappenings.org/  Salem, MA, Haunted Happenings 2015 Thursday, October 1 – October 31, 2015

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/poeinsalem/  Edgar Allen Poe in Salem, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/thegravedetails/  The Grave Details, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.beverlyhistory.org/  Witch Stories by Candlelight, Hale Farm, Beverly, MA, Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.

http://www.edaville.com/explore-edaville/shows-events/   Pumpkins Aglow, Edaville USA, Carver, MA, Friday – Sunday in October, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

http://www.mirbeau.com/calendar/halloween-masquerade-ball-2/?instance_id=12477  Mirbeau Inn & Spa at the Pine Hills, Plymouth, MA, Halloween Masquerade Ball, October 31st, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.


Some sites for MA events all year, as well as outdoor recreation:











© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Seven Things To Do Today To Increase Productivity


  1. Get off social media, or set a timer for fifteen minutes, and when the timer goes off, so does Twitter, Ello, Facebook, et. al.  There are apps that will kill my sessions if I lack will power to stop.
  2. Write down what I can reasonably accomplish today, allotting time to each task before beginning work.
  3. Focus on my most important task, determining how long I need to be at it, and break it up, again, setting a timer so that I stop, stretch, look outside (focusing my eyes on something further away to exercise them too), get a drink of water, and maybe a snack  before continuing.
  4. While I’m taking a break, pick up things lying around that need to go back to their place – I’m making ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ a mantra.  Seeing the clutter gone helps my mind focus better.
  5. Practice 5 minutes of mindful relaxation before getting back into work or starting a new task.
  6. Remind myself what my goals are.  “I’m clearing this area so I have more room to work, thus reducing my stress level too”.  “I’m writing several pages today, not the whole book.” “I’m making my living space a place I enjoy being, and feel good about inviting others into”., etc.
  7. Reward myself intermittently.  Psychological studies have shown that intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful type of conditioning, eliciting better responses than continuous positive reinforcement. The reward needs to be consistent with my overall goals, so if I’m rewarding myself for writing several pages with a piece of cake, I’m ignoring my goal of healthier eating or weight loss.  But if cake makes me happy – a bite is better than a whole slice for my overall goals.

Having A.D.D.  and anxiety makes it hard to get down to work, and as I’ve learned to do with exercise – I ignore my thoughts about it and just begin.  Exercise is easier because I have a routine, so I know where to start.  My clutter and procrastination happens because I’m overwhelmed with so much that needs doing that I can’t start.  Once I started narrowing in on ‘one thing’, I tend to get in a zone and try to do everything, which is also counter-productive because it makes it less likely that I’ll do that again knowing that I’ll have a hard time stopping, so I have to set a timer as soon as I do or finish that one thing, knowing I’ll only continue for a half-hour, or whatever I can do at the time, but usually never more than an hour, unless it’s a dedicated task I’ve allotted a few hours to.

Dealing with brain disorders is daunting!  It’s not a personal failure, but I tell myself that anyway.  Shame is part of the package for me, but I can lessen it by remembering that I’m limited.  Not to give myself a pass, but to remind myself that my accomplishments are harder earned, and any progress is great progress.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Falling For Autumn

While I didn’t get enough summer this year – does any of us ever? – I feel less sad about Autumn’s entrance.  I don’t appreciate the jarring way it barges in – twenty degree temperature drop, and chilling wind to boot – but I do like that harvest has come, and apples are abundant this year, and the days are still relatively warm.

Photo by Jerri Higgins

Photo by Jerri Higgins

Photo by Jerri Higgins

Photo by Jerri Higgins

Fall has always held the excitement of festivals, and of Halloween, the scent of falling leaves, of wood fires, and of hay stacks.  I’m glad I’m not allergic to those things, although when the leaves get mildewed after the rains come, then I’m suffering with sniffles, stinging eyes, or bleary from my allergy pills.

I’ve gone back to allergy shots this year, six a week for the foreseeable future.  I’m allergic to life, pretty much, and I feel bad that my son is too.  My father was very allergic, so I probably inherited it from him, but I hope the shots will decrease or eliminate my sensitivity.

The worst is the indoor dust mites, molds, and mildew as the cold season arrives and we’re shut up for the next five months.  I do what I can to keep the allergens down, but it’s a constant battle.

I’ll drown my sorrow with some hot cider and a slice of fresh apple pie – or will it be pumpkin – or maybe, both?  Tiny slices…

The calories tend to increase over the holiday season along with my waist line, so I’m trying to learn that morsels are better than nothing so I don’t feel too deprived  – and there’s nothing like salsa dancing to keep the weight down, and chase away the winter blues.

I don’t mind walking in the snow, but the below zero temps like we had too much of last year, makes outdoor time shorter and less enjoyable for me.  I’m not one of those hearty souls – or perhaps drunken fools – who can be out for hours in weather extremes.  I’ll drink my cocoa, keep warm by the fire, and they can tell me all about their frostbite.

But, September isn’t over.  We’re in for a week of seventy-degree weather, perfect for long walks, jogging, playing, and working outdoors, with lows at night in the forties and fifties, perfect for sleep, which I’ll take over the muggy nights of tossing and turning.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current



Slanted Life

I learned to lie when I was young.  One of the first lies I was taught, was if a teacher, or anyone, asked, my bruise was from falling.  Next, my older sisters taught me to steal candy from the store, and I remember my next oldest sister’s vicious pleasure while saying that if I told on them, they would tell on me. Thieving was power – the first I ever had – and feeling powerful was addictive.  I was good at it, being a cute little kid that no one would suspect of criminality.  I didn’t feel the shame then that I do now.

I understood that it was a dog eat dog world at six years old, and I knew which dog I wanted to be.

Thankfully, I also grew to be a kinder, more thoughtful, and aware of consequences, person, and I ended my nefarious ways – mostly…

I’ve hurt people I never wanted to hurt.  Please accept my apology.  Accept my apology for those who’ve hurt you and never copped to it.

There is a quote about how everything that happens is necessary for ‘your soul’s progression’, and I think that’s such total bullshit.  What the hell does that person know?  They just found another excuse to justify awful things happening.  That quote certainly didn’t surface about welcome events.

Humanity is responsible for close to 90% of the hell in this world.  Nature, or the cosmos, or the universe, or just crappy luck, is responsible for 5%, and our stupidity is responsible for the rest.

Life goes on regardless of anything that happens.  I remember hearing about ‘earth changes’ when I was a kid in the commune/cult, and find it sadly funny about how none of it came to pass.  We’ve been killing our planet since the industrial age, and fossil fuels, atomic energy, commercial farming, genetic modification, etc., will eventually do us in if we don’t change how we get and use energy, and where and how we get our food, but life will go on – even if it’s without humanity.

There are people and organizations addressing these issues, and they are changing life, but it might be too little too late.  Then again, we love a good David & Goliath story – where the little guy prevails against all odds over the big guy – and it’s that hope that keeps us going.  That, and ignorance.

My little life pales in comparison to these major problems, but my area of immediate concern is who I am, where I’m going, and what I want as my legacy.  Of those who will remember me, I’d like happy remembrance.  I want my eulogy to be sincere, and not merely out of respect for the dead…




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Season’s Greetings

August is the beginning of Druid autumn, I found out several years ago when telling a friend that I feel mournful in August, even though it’s still summer.  Learning that the Druids considered August the beginning of autumn resonated with me, and gave me a place for my sadness this time of year.

It’s now September, and the physical signs of change are showing.  Red and yellow veined green leaves began spotting the road under the maples about a week ago.  Some are fully red now, and although a harbinger of the coming cold season, they are so pretty.

I picked up several of my favorites, and as my mother showed me when I was little, I placed them between sheets of waxed paper and ironed them together.  I put a rag underneath and on top of the waxed paper, and kept checking to make sure it was working.

Photo by Jerri Higgins

Pressed autumn maple leaves

My S.O. wasn’t all that impressed when I showed him later, but its a simple craft helping me ease into autumn.  I’m sure I could have created something more sophisticated, but I also enjoyed its childhood link.

As the earth has moved in its orbit, the garden is now burgeoning with tomatoes, green beans, squash, carrots, and late corn – harvest time well under way.  Maybe I’ll learn to can food this year, but it feels too much like work… :-)

I suppose we could dry the tomatoes, freeze some of the corn, carrots, and green beans, as well as what we’re doing, which is making as many recipes possible with all the fresh food.

It’s also nice to know where and how our food was grown, and I feel more connected to our land than before I started gardening.

The cooler breezes are more welcome than the humid dog days we’re leaving behind, and sleep is more restful with cooler air too.

I’m not ready to give up summer, and wish it lasted at least another month, but I’ll savor all the warm days ahead, and do my best to accept rather than resist – or figure out how to move to warmer climes!




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Birthday Wishes


Tomorrow is my birthday.  Birthdays were so exciting when I was younger.  Getting older was somehow an achievement, and I suppose it was, depending on how many risks were taken, or accidents met and survived the previous year.

Celebrating someone for their birthday is a wonderful time for connection, reflection, and, especially, festivity!

Time’s passage is tough the older I get because I want to keep the problems of the relatively young and not get any problems of aging.  Too bad, I know.  Perspective is a perk as time moves on, as well as caring less about how I’m received, but this ship of life I’m sailing leaves a wider berth the further I get from port, leaving some things smaller, although not less significant, as they recede and I travel on.

Even though I often feel that I’ve not accomplished anything, or much of what I wish I had done, I have traveled.  I won a ten-day tour of Switzerland, with a side trip to Liechtenstein.  I made it to Australia, where I stayed with my childhood pen-pal, and her family, and we met each other’s children (child in my case), and saw lots of Victoria, including a day in Melbourne, hiking in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, a rain forest walk in the Yarra ranges, and a gorgeous trip down the Great Ocean Road, ending in Warrnembool, and the site of the Twelve Apostles rock formations, during our stay.

I’ve driven through or visited at least half of the United States, including Hawaii, but not Alaska. I’ve been to Canada, and Mexico, though not extensively in either country.  I brought my son to Ireland for his high school graduation present, but really because I’d wanted to go my whole life and that justified the expense well enough – or at least, it did – until I just wrote that.

Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, was the last big journey I took, a gift that I’ve not well repaid seeing as I’m now an atheistic-leaning agnostic.

I’ve climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, back when you could do that, and have been on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, when it was free. (It’s hard to believe that anyone would pay $57 for the dubious privilege nowadays).

Contentment with my lot is the message I try to embrace, but my adventurous spirit doesn’t understand that sentiment.  There are so many more places to see, things to do, and the beautiful aspects of life on Earth that I’ll never have again.

As long as I can get through the rough patches, the pain, suffering, and challenges we all endure, and hopefully, surmount,  I will add more sweet than bitter to each year that I’m graced with, have more meaningful time with those I like and love, and be glad for what’s been given.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current


My task is learning to deal with negative reactions. A while ago I heard ‘Mean Tweets’ on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and the horrible things people say about and to celebrities, and how those celebrities deal with that. Mostly they made fun of it, and humor is a great way to diffuse that kind of derision. Writing or speaking publicly about my life experience, and negative fall-out, is best handled by ignoring those comments, but if I want a dialogue, I need to respond, and be thoughtful about how I do that.

I have differences of opinion all the time, and do my best to be respectful, and kind – even if I feel the opposite at the time. I’ve had shared experiences with family and with friends, and we didn’t incorporate events the same way, but trying to invalidate my position with ad hominems or other aspersions only shows their lack of credibility.

Being liked and well-regarded matters to me, but speaking my truth is more important. Accepting the consequences is hard, but I’m not shutting up. They are as free to not read or listen to me, as I am to disregard their opinions.

In the 1980’s, when child sexual abuse was nationally disclosed by Oprah Winfrey, I’m sure she had backlash from family and from strangers. Then ‘false memory syndrome’ was coined by some asinine psychologist, and then applied to anyone who disclosed childhood abuse as an adult.

Sometimes traumatic events get blocked because your psyche cannot cope, and because all energy must go somewhere, that trauma ‘leaked’ or manifested in other ways, be it mental illness, or self-harming behavior. I think most people compartmentalize their trauma and get on with their lives, but triggering events happen eventually, or something brings it front & center, like a major illness, or mental break-down, forcing them to work through it, or face sometimes dire repercussions.

My goal is contentment, and serenity, and working through my issues is the only way I know to get there, regardless of how messy that might be, and if my words help anyone in similar circumstances, then it’s worth not shutting up.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Not Just A River In Egypt

No to the creaky knees, no to the aching joints.  What the hell is my problem, I think.  I am not that old!  I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when I’m really old – do I even want to make it that far if I’m already in daily pain?  Wtf?

I’m in denial.  Aging is a slow progression.  You don’t wake up one day ‘old’.  How the fuck would that be?  No, you get to hurt slowly, like a mild torture device that can be full throttle any time.

The problems begin to add up.  Oh, your eyes aren’t seeing so well anymore, and you ignore it, it’s temporary.  Soon, though, you begrudgingly get the dollar reading glasses, because why are you going to pay very much for this bullshit condition? – and you know you’ll lose them eventually…

Oh, you can still drop it low, my friend.  The twenty year olds have nothing on you – until the day that dropping it low causes a twinge that you have a hard time getting back up from, so you sort of slide into what you hope is a cool-looking dance move, and then, oh, you’re just too hot to keep dancing.  Hot flashes have descended (ascended?), and it’s only 11:30, still another hour & a half before you can go home with a modicum of youthful dignity.

The girls want to do another shot?  Ha, ha.  OK, sure.  Let’s drink to partying forever – hell, yeah! – oops – mine spilled, ha, ha.  Oh, well, that’s fine.  I had a shot while y’all were dancin’, and I’m feelin’ fine!  Wooo, hooo!  Because, if I had had another shot, my whole day would have been ruined, and I know I’m not going to sleep much anyway, because – idk – thanks Obama?

I feel like the chaperone more and more, and I’ve probably been looked at like one for far longer than I realized.  This isn’t about them, anyway.  They have their own shit to contend with – their young shit, which I am honestly grateful to not be in the midst of anymore – but here I am with a new set of sucky life issues to navigate.

I don’t want to be old or get old, but the only way to prevent it is to die, and I’m not ready for that yet either.

Whatever ‘god’ worked this design out is an idiot.  Hopefully he was fired and a woman was put on the job so the men can start evolving with all the hell we’ve had to endure, oh, sorry, continue to endure.

I do all the things that I can afford to not age.  If it weren’t a psychosis, there wouldn’t be a thousand products on the market promising to keep or make us younger.  I really don’t think they made all those anti-aging formulas just for me.  Those companies know I’m broke.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Marie and Me

Stepping out onto the front porch, I visualize Marie sitting on the old wood-slatted metal glider.

She came back East to see some family, and help her brother struggling with issues Marie had dealt with before.  I had moved in with her and her husband in California when my son was a toddler, spending two years in San Diego, and when I knew I couldn’t make it out there, I came home to Massachusetts, where I’ve been ever since.

Marie spent an overnight with me up here – us falling into the easy friendship we’ve had since the fifth grade – but I also saw us with fresh eyes too.  She and I went through so much together, and we’ll always be soul-sisters, but I saw our differences, and somewhat prefer my idealized version of her.

Those differences haven’t ruined our bond, but I see how much I’ve changed from the inexperienced young woman I was to who I am now.  It shouldn’t have affected me so much – it’s simply that we’ve matured differently, even if our essential selves are intact – but I felt a loss – of innocence perhaps? – of youth?

Maybe her presence emphasized time’s passage, and what we can never get back, or never attain, but also, that I like who I am, that I’m comfortable with my beliefs, or lack thereof, and mostly of where life has led me.  I can’t do anything about what I didn’t accomplish; I can only do the best with whatever time I have left.

Remembering the sweetest times of our visit, driving to the old farmhouse where she lived when we first met, as well as the house I lived in by the railroad tracks, both laughing and tearing up as we pondered the past.

I didn’t know that my dearest memory would be of her sitting on the porch glider that bright summer morning, the humid air sticking exposed skin to the seat, us breathing in the heady scent of honeysuckle wafting on the scant breezes, saying how nice it was at the same time, with me winning the first to tap her arm and say ‘owe me a Coke’.





© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Where Do I Go From Here?

If I could design my life, I’d live somewhere on Cape Cod.  Brewster, maybe, or Eastham, or Chatham.  Clearly, money wouldn’t be an issue.

I’d live in a two bedroom cottage.  Something simple, and easy to clean.

A few examples are:


Being by the sea has always been a draw for me, and being in a sweet cottage or house would be wonderful.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Inside Out


How small a word, how big a consequence.

It’s high summer, nearly the start of August, and I am unchanged.

The message board at a favorite pub has creative endeavors, artisans advertising their wares, therapeutic services offered from a High Priestess teaching you the true Wiccan way, to Reiki, and other esoteric healing arts, plastered over it.

My mind swirls with contradiction, dismissing, reviling, but also believing.  Shame enters.  I’m smarter than that, but I’m so desperate for help that anything sounds plausible.

Miracles happen, prayer sometimes works – or maybe it always works and the answer is no – or maybe it never works and yet sometimes seems to.

People describe angelic intervention, things beyond our understanding or perception. I’ve never experienced this, and I’ve asked, begged, screamed to the cosmos for help – for many years.

You can’t convince me that some god wanted my life this way.  That this is what I asked for, or what’s necessary.  Mental illness just is.  It’s not a punishment.

A therapist described medication as a tool to get you where you can deal with your messed-up perception.  So far, medication hasn’t worked for me.  I’ve tried different modalities, and suicide feels like the only definitive.

But what if I’m left with the hell in my head and this is the only place I have a hope of changing it?  Am I eternally screwed?  Am I in limbo, or purgatory, now?  Am I paying penance while I yet live?  Another therapist introduced a Sufi idea that suffering here brings great honor wherever we go from here.  I don’t want the honor.  I’d rather live without the hell.

Not all days are like this, but enough of them are.

I also get the irony that I am sitting on a beautiful screened porch, looking out over a gentle-sloping lawn, flower-filled fields, and forest area beyond.  Puffed clouds float easterly, while the Poplar trees shimmer in the breeze that also bends and waves the hay.  Various bird song and cricket chirping fills my ears along with the rising wind.  Heaven could hardly improve the scene.

What is wrong with me?




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Dog Days In The Garden

My shorts and shirt cling wherever they touch, sun scorches my back as I rip weeds between the tomatoes. Grass roots deep, but not deeper than my three-pronged cultivator snares them, ripping through the packed earth. Some grass and weeds grow close to the garden plants and removing them is like surgery.

The shadows lengthen across the yard, my work only half done. Water dribbles down my chin, cooling the narrow channel it finds to run down to my damp bra.  I’m tempted to dump most of the bottle over my face and neck, but drinking it is more refreshing for now.  My knees and back complain after several minutes of stooping, or staying in one position for too long.

A stray mosquito buzzes my ear – it won’t be long before the outlier signals the army for a blood meal on me, and I stride over to the carrot bed, some grass indistinguishable from carrot at the soil.  I thin nearly a dozen more carrots than I meant to, deciding to leave the rest for the next day.

The corn and squash languish in the sun, chicken manure and water are needed, but they’ll have to endure until tomorrow.

Dirt-smeared, sweat-stained, but satisfied with a day’s work, I trudge up to the cabin, dumping the last bit of water over my face, enjoying the rivulets that careen down my face and chest, even though I know a cool shower is not far off.

I say a prayer to the Universe that blight doesn’t strike the tomatoes this year, and, come harvest, that we get more crops than the bugs have.




©seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

No Mount Washington – Boo, hoo?

My S. O. & I won a 3-day adventure trip through the AMC – Appalachian Mountain Club – from a sweepstakes form we filled out at the Boston Globe Travel Show this past February.

We drove up early Thursday morning, visiting a dear friend of mine in North Conway, New Hampshire, before heading out to the Highland Center at Crawford Notch, N. H., for the first night of our stay.  It was sunny, dry, and in the low 70°F’s.  We had supper at the center, met a lovely couple who gave us some suggestions of an easier hike the next morning before we headed up to the Mizpah Spring Hut, where we’d be spending our second night.

A fire alarm went off at 1:30 a.m., and I thought it was some AMC hyper-awareness drill, but it turned out there was an electrical fire that started in the basement.  We didn’t learn this until the next day.  What we knew is that a fire truck showed up about 15 or 20 minutes into the ‘drill’, and by then I figured out it was a real thing, and my S.O. ran back for something he needed, stupid in hindsight, but it’s not like there was smoke or open flames or anything.

An hour and a half or so, and three firetrucks later, I decided to go back up to our room and grab our backpacks so we could at least try to sleep in our car – having no idea if or when we’d get back, and my S.O. hung back while I surreptitiously made my way up to the third floor, ducking low to keep out of sight – my adrenaline surging – as I imagined the place blowing up before reaching our room. After a minute or so, my guy was there with me, grabbing what we could, freaked out about being discovered, and the trouble we’d be in for being colossally stupid.  It would have served us right to be burned up, but thankfully we weren’t. Were there open flames or smoke, I’d have counted my losses, and not risked it, but I figured we weren’t getting back in, and I wanted to go get some sleep.

About 5 minutes after retrieving our packs, we were given the all clear to go back in. I understand the risk I took, and I’m grateful it was as I suspected, and not a crisis situation.

Three hours, and no sleep later, we got breakfast, and hiked a mile and a half up a smaller trail that was twice as steep as any I’ve hiked so far, except Mt. Chochura, which we hiked two years ago.  The pay-off was astoundingly worth it:

Me at the top of Mt. Willard

Me at the top of Mt. Willard

S.O. at the top of Mt. Willard

Mt. Washington Trip

view from Mt. Willard

Mt. Washington Trip

Us on Mt. Willard

Us on Mt. Willard

After that, we hiked down and chilled out before heading out for Mizpah Spring Hut, which we’ve heard referred to as ‘a brief jaunt‘.  I guess they’re professional hikers because I was wiped out halfway up. A brief jaunt?  Are you kidding me?

I’m holding back the ‘f-bombs’ as one of my aunts reads this and feels it’s unnecessary.  I understand that, but still type my satisfying swears, and then backspace…

The temperature had climbed to near 80°F, and the sweat was starting to drip off me.  My S.O. fared better, but it wasn’t a skip in the woods for him either.

We had supper at the hut, which was the best part of our being there, outside of meeting some really great people, as well as some not so great ones, and some truly odd folks, but sleep mostly eluded me and my normally easy and deep-sleeping beau, being in a full capacity three triple-bunk room, and not much space to move around in.

Being a hut, there was no shower – even if it were simply cold water – and we forgot to pack in towels, reading that they were provided at the huts during the high season (not true).  The only paper product is toilet tissue (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I totally get it, but I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I am not a super outdoorsy, mountaineering, person, and this didn’t charm me into becoming one.

We were supposed to continue to Mt. Washington, and stay at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, which sounds so fantastical, and dream-like, but it poured into the early hours, and was still lightly raining when we got up to have breakfast at 6:30 this morning.  We got out after 8 a.m., and headed for Mt. Pierce, where we decided to take the Crawford Path back down instead of trudging on into the 25 – 30 mph winds, rain, and thunderstorms forecast along the open ridge we’d be hiking.  Plus, the hiking boots I got had already given me a few blisters, and I had liners under my ‘smartwool’ hiking socks. The lovely Linda, a former nurse, and her friend, Carla, who had hiked up to stay for the weekend at Mizpah Hut, bandaged and taped my blisters and sore spots for the trek down – I thank their kindness and expertise!

My S. O. and I decided to hike the 0.9 miles to Mt. Pierce from Mizpah to at least make it to one of the 4,000 footers, but the beginning was intimidating.  It could nearly be called a ladder trail, if the ladder were unevenly spaced and nearly 3/4 of a mile long.

Our goal was accomplished, but the day being what it was, Mt. Pierce was enshrouded in dense fog, often an ominous deep grayish-green.  I was glad to make it up, but gladder to head back down.

Mt. Pierce geological survey marker

Mt. Pierce geological survey marker

Foggy Mt. Pierce

Foggy Mt. Pierce

Mt. Pierce summit cairn

Summit cairn, Mt. Pierce

Hiking to Mt. Pierce summit

Foggy Mt. Pierce approach

Fog bank, Mt. Pierce

Fog bank, Mt. Pierce

I’d like to hike Mt. Washington some day, but it won’t be a carefree romp.  I’ll have earned every foot, sweat out every meter.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

A Sticky Situation

Bare legs stick to the wooden seat, pulling up as though it were a bandage I’m pulling off as I rise to find my hoodie.  It’s not cold, but the clammy air has me chilled.  The bloated sky threatens rain, and the dead air hangs inside too – all the open windows and doors allowing in a subtle mist, evening out the airscape – as I wonder if this is what it’s like to be in the horse latitudes.

The napkins in the holder on the table facing me are slumped over as though drunk, and my feet are uncomfortable on the gummed-feeling floor boards.

I slip on my flip-flops, and take off my recently donned sweatshirt as it proves too warm, and sultry is too good a word for the day.  Oppressive is too harsh, so dull, or limp, fit better, but still doesn’t capture the quality.

I once stayed on my sister’s boyfriend’s refurbished tugboat, and we moored in the harbor for the night.  That was a sultry summer night, wisps of my hair making ringlets from the damp air, our faces shiny and tacky from the humidity as we talked, laughed, ate, and drank until well into the early morning, and I finally drifted off to sleep on the padded bench I was sitting on.  Someone had covered me with one of the wool blankets my sister’s boyfriend had stowed several of for such occasions, and I woke up early, scratchy from the blanket, and clammy from the still misty air, but grateful for the covering when I saw that the blanket was wet with beads of dew, as though I had been lightly rained on while sleeping.

The clouds finally burst as I write, and I think at least the garden is grateful for the rain, but the pitter-patter and constant hum makes me sleepy, although I have so much to do.

A third cup of coffee might help me stay upright and on task.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current