Birthday Wishes

Cinderellacakecandles

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.

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

Consequences

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.

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

Just Suppose

Just suppose you had a mother who had brought you to a hippie commune, when you were ten, that turned out to be a cult, and even after she left – because the money managers wouldn’t let her have a bit of extra cash to do something she wanted, although she was one of the reliably highest earners – you stayed because all your peers were there, even though there were predators too that you had to try to stay away from, and after your mother knew what happened to you, and her other children, she described her time there as the ‘highlight of her life’, and then, as time went on, and you underwent therapy, and groups, and medication, and everything you could think of to try to heal from the trauma of that place, your mother went to a ‘reunion’ they have every year, and even though you have told her several times that you want nothing to do with many of those people, or that place, she calls you on her cell phone while she’s there, and you know this because she broadcasts her call, telling you that ‘everyone says hi and sends their love’, and you are taken aback, but say hello to your mom, and quickly end the call, left in confusion: is my mother trying to convince me that my time there was valuable?, or is she under pressure from the group-speak who told her that her children should be there, or are missed, or whatever fucking control they are still exerting, and you are left feeling ten again, unprotected, left to the wolves, but then you realize that you are in control of your destiny – as far as life will let you – and you want to scream at your mother, but she’s your mother, so you hasten your goodbye, and you don’t know if you should disconnect from your eighty-five year old mother, whom you love, or try to compartmentalize this shit – again – and then you’re completely pissed off that she chose them over you – AGAIN – but did she?  Did she ever do any de-programming? And then you realize that she never did, that it’s as relevant to her as it was all those years ago, and you do have to compartmentalize her brain-washed mind, but it’s tough because you loved so many of those people too.  They were your family for a long time during a crucial developmental phase of your life, but you remember your mother was an adult, already through her developmental stages, and you can’t make excuses for her anymore.  You resolve to tell her, yet again, to please not mention that place around you, or call you from any reunions she attends.

It hurts that you are so utterly alone, but you are also proud that you claimed your autonomy.  You passed the test.  You are healed.

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© 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.

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© 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’.

 

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© 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.

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

Inside Out

Shame.

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?

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© 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.

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©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.

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© 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.

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

The End

This life was always a hard sell.  I wasn’t sure what I was doing, pretty much ever.  I got in over my head from day one, and I’ve tried to sort it out ever since.

Does it matter if I’m angry, or sad, or disillusioned? I don’t know why I came with expectations.  How did that happen?  Was it television?  Did I believe the fantasy family shows I saw were real?

I existed in my family – I endured.  I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  Life was what it was. I didn’t know I had any other choice, and none was offered to me.

When my mother moved us to a commune/cult when I was ten, I thought that was the other choice.  I thought my mother finally made the best decision for us – and maybe she did.

Or maybe she was another messed up person in this world who couldn’t do the right thing, and her children suffered for it, and blah, fucking, blah, right?  There’s no redemption.  There’s no ‘making up for it’.  There’s nothing.  We’re where we are.

The world says, ‘what are you going to do now?’.  The world is only curious if it’s interesting or somehow commendable.

I love prevailing stories.  I want people to win, to better their circumstances, to get revenge, and if they can’t get direct revenge, to come out better in the end.  I want the assholes to suffer.  I want them to hurt.  I am so not compassionate toward those undeserving.

I saw the guy who molested his eight year old foster daughter – the girl who moved to his & his wife’s house to flee another predator.  I wanted to hurt him.  Several years have gone by & there is no difference in how I feel. No softening, no compassion. I want him to die. He is useless, and I have difficulty knowing he yet lives. He manages to fill his days instead of hanging himself, as he should.  Maybe he doesn’t have to hang.  He could shoot himself, or poison himself, or a myriad of ways to leave this world, and yet, he’s still here.  I’m still here too.  My molesters were never charged or payed for what they did either.

I’ve concluded that whatever ‘god’ exists does not concern itself with us.  There might be some over-arching energy or force, but it cannot care about what happens here and affect it.  Or, if it does, and chooses not to, I have no allegiance or fealty to such a being, force, presence.

My life is my own.  I don’t commit my life to any person, place, or thing.  No nouns own me.

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

Motherhood Ruined Me For Traveling

Going away on a whim used to include making sure I had my toothbrush and a change of clothes, and depending on the time of year, my bathing suit and sunblock.

When my child was born, I tried to keep spontaneity alive, and suffered for it.  Oh, no – I forgot his red blanket!  We have to turn around!  He won’t sleep without it, therefore I won’t sleep without it, therefore anyone with me will be miserable – I’ll make sure of that…  Suffering in silence just isn’t fun.

Today, my child grown, and no longer needing his red blanket – I think – probably takes off on a lark all the time. May the pox of child-rearing fall on his house!

I now pack a minimum of three days worth of crap.  It’s ingrained. I’ve tried to make do, to be free again, but I need the earplugs – and this lamp.  And this ashtray…  I can’t sleep without them.  Sure, we could pick some up at the store, but for me, it would be steal them from the store because our budget is so tight  – yeah, yeah, first world problem – there is no room for anything else.  The credit cards are maxed, and the goal is to pay down, not add.  No, not even $5 which will be closer to $25 by the time the debt is paid down.

A detailed list is a must for me, and the stress surrounding trips takes a lot of fun out of it, for sure. Personal items, check.  Three pairs of underwear for two days.  Yes.  Two pant choices, three shirts, two pairs of shoes, and my sneakers. Should I bring those shoes?  Will I want my sundress?

My mind is an unforgiving landscape, a dark back alley where the worst of humanity gives me a wide berth. You crazy, woman!

Snacks!  We’re on a budget!  Pack sandwich making supplies in smaller containers.  Don’t forget the water!  Who knows if it’s drinkable where we’re going!  Beach stuff, bug spray, sunblock.  Holy crap, we almost forgot the tent!  I guess we could have slept under the stars for a night.  Except, we’ll be in a crowded campground with screaming babies and marauding teens.  Wildlife bothers me much less – at least they’re quiet.

My S.O., on the other hand, packed one day’s worth of clothing, and his toothbrush.

He’s also never been a parent.

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

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Gets In…

For the past several days we’ve been inundated with much-needed, but plan wrecking, rain.  An outdoor party on Saturday had to head indoors and with a new musical type: a kitchen band.  Table and chairs hastily crowded into any space available to set up the music, but the revelers were intrepid & carried on – after all, there was still beer – and plenty of it!

The showers turned into a deluge and the end of the night left a muddy path from their kitchen out to our cars after slogging back and forth through the muddy side yard with equipment and other paraphernalia, and I was grateful it was someone else’s house, but felt some guilt at the mess they’d have to clean.

It was so fun to sing and make merry, and I was glad that I only had a couple of beers so I got to watch the party-goers devolve into drunks by the end of the night without the morning regret for me.  I’ve been on the miserable end too much in the past several years as alcohol wooed me again.

In AA’s parlance I’m considered a ‘yet’, and I don’t take that lightly, but it’s very hard to give up when you’re at those crossroads still having choice.  I’ve witnessed many good people done in by alcohol and other drugs, and I don’t want my story to end that way.

Yesterday, it was overcast again, having rained heavily the day before, and getting through the day enervated me so much it was a triumph to get supper going.  Luckily my S.O. helped me rally, and while we were eating our turkey burgers and veggies, the sun rolled out from the thinning clouds like a mercy from the gods, and S.O. said we should go out & play catch.  I balked inwardly, feeling full, and wanting the TV to passively entertain me, but I surprised myself and said yes.

We got outside and the air was warming and fresh as we lobbed the baseball back and forth.  The few clouds left were puffy, some lazily stretched out across the western sky, outlined in various hues of pink, red, and orange, and the bugs were few for about a half-hour.

We switched to hitting and my S.O. puts me to shame with his two and three base hits, while I can barely get mine out of the infield.  I haven’t played ball for many years, figuring I’d be hurt more than I’d have fun, but I was wrong.  I might not throw as hard, run as fast, or hit any better than I ever did, but our time outside, having fun, and just being in the moment created more joy than I’ve had in a while.

I tend to live in fear most of the time because that’s what I learned will keep me safe, as superstitious as that is.  It’s tough to break out of that when it’s wired in my brain.  I make different choices when I’m able, and sometimes I conquer myself, and sometimes my PTSD wired brain does, but I’m most glad that I can appreciate beauty, that my love is intact, and that endorphins still course through my body when I play.

This is probably life’s intermittent reinforcement at its best, but I’ll take it!

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

Oh, How The Garden Grows

I’ve weeded once.  It’s rained 3 times since then.  I can hear our plants calling out for help as they get crowded out by the faster growing crab grass and weeds – or maybe that’s my guilty imagination.

I’m glad we got it planted reasonably early this year, and as in most things I attempt, I’m not all that enthusiastic about the work, but I do enjoy the harvest.

I’ve also learned to not trust our plants no matter how well we take care of them, and having to compete with the bugs and other critters.  The blight took all our beautiful, plentiful, tomatoes last year, and several cucumbers, and peas failed to thrive too.  The carrots were a bitch to weed and thin, and their yield barely made up for the back-numbing, knee-wrecking work.

Makes you want to run right out and start a garden, doesn’t it?

I do enjoy knowing where and how my food was grown, and that we’re growing organically – no toxic pesticides or GMO’s for us!  I understand the world is full of pesticides and pollution – we can’t escape it all – but I’m not going to help Monsanto or Syngenta, et, al., in any way possible.

Geneticist friends insist GMO’s on their face are bio-identical, but I’ll not have fish genes in my tomatoes – thanks.  I’ll deal with the disappointment of blight and learn how to better care for them without trying to pretend I know better than billions of years of evolution because when geneticists say no negatives were found in test studies, it’s because negatives were not tested for.  That makes a neat solution, but not a livable one.

People can read all the pro and con literature and raw data and make up their minds, or trust that geneticists have their back and don’t need to pander to their funders in any way…

Our garden grows regardless of the tending, I know, but our care, along with nature’s course, will show our final yield.

In the meantime, on we go, bug hats, water, music, and mulch.

Cheers and all the best to the gardeners out there – reluctant or not!

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

Revisiting

I read through previous posts, revisiting some days and periods in my life.  I changed the links to my stories & recollections to titles for easy reference:

http://seekingsearchingmeaning.com/recollections-and-life-lived/

I’m still reconciling this part of life, feeling like I never really lived the first half – that I was just shuffled through some cosmic crowd or queue – and the line finally thinned enough for me to get up front, but I missed so much I’m craning my neck trying to see it all before it’s forever lost and the only way I could see it is to do it all again, but not only is my ticket one-way, one show only, I might not get a better perspective anyway.

This part of the ride is fine.  There is plenty to see and do, even though I’ve been standing so long my legs and my back hurt, along with my neck from the aforementioned craning.

I’m remembering how, The Velveteen Rabbit, made me cry every time I read this excerpt where Rabbit asks the Skin Horse if becoming real hurts, and how it happens:

The Velveteen Rabbit

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

THE Velveteen Rabbit OR HOW TOYS BECOME REAL, by Margery Williams

Illustrations by William Nicholson DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC. Garden City, New York

This eBook is courtesy of the Celebration of Women Writers, online at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/.

This generation, and all after it, shall grow, and hopefully become wise. I dreaded becoming like the Skin Horse when I was younger because I saw how elders were treated – either infantilized, ignored, or worse – and I want to stay relevant and valued.

I know it’s up to me to demand dignified treatment as I grow old, to continue to take up space, and value myself, but some days are easier than others.

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

Weight Of The Day

I grieve in the morning, before I’m fully awake, the weight of things done and undone open to attack.

I’m as undressed in my psyche as I am on my body, and it takes my beginning routine to shake it off.

Make the bed, start coffee – unsettling thoughts crowd my mind while thinking about the day ahead.

Dreams can be the impetus for the unwelcome feelings as I recall specters of children I might have had, old friends and new, and a parade of strangers helping or hurting.

I had a baby in last night’s dream.  She was beautiful, but I couldn’t get to her, I had so much else to do in preparation.

My purpose is the baby, I think, dying from neglect, while I’m desperate to get to her.  Perhaps she is my core self, the unblemished bit of me needing attention.

The dream doesn’t account for the weight I’m shouldering, and then I remembered how I shared some of my story to help an interviewer understand the needs of those abused, how we pay even in the telling, but how necessary the sharing is for change and healing.

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

Dear Son, Sorry

I was reading lists of things to teach your children before it’s too late on my news feed.

To quote former Texas Governor, Rick Perry: ‘oops’.

I didn’t teach you about money very well.  You need to pay your rent, and your bills, and your student loan, and get food, for godssake!  Oh, for all that, you need to budget.  Don’t know what that is?  I didn’t either, yet somehow, we both lived.  Yeah, I have about $8,000 in credit debt, but they’re the ones who gave me the cards!  Also, my debt is down from $15,000, and if I helped you with math, you’ll know I’ve paid down nearly half!

Interest.

They charge you to keep that pretend money  – often a lot! – especially if your credit rating sucks, which mine did.  Because I managed to pay back nearly half, I have better credit now – will they ever learn?

Food.

You really shouldn’t eat all the crap I fed you until I found out that it was crap I was feeding you.  McDonald’s didn’t get rich off us, but we loved their french fries, and sadly, the proof is still in our arteries.  I’m sorry!

Sugar isn’t your friend, fat isn’t either – unless it’s good fat, and then – not too much, OK?

Are you exercising?  Yes, I made you go out and play – holy crap – I managed to do something right – but are you keeping your muscles and bones strong and safe?

I was a helicopter parent, or maybe a light experimental craft, because I hovered, but not to the extent I’ve read about some parents – sheesh!  I can at least feel good about that while I’m wringing my hands over what I failed to teach you.

Teachable moments.  I missed so many.  Again, sorry.  I was winging it.  I did have positive reinforcement skills – telling you to use an inside voice, use your walking feet, and gave you choices – even if it was a choice between two shitty options.

Also, I didn’t swear much when I was raising you, and that was a huge accomplishment, believe me.  I fucking swear all the fucking time now, and before I had you.  I was trying to teach you, and myself, that swearing isn’t necessary, it’s just fun.

I wouldn’t, however, swear when talking to your boss, or anybody who might ever possibly have power over you.

People suck, and life isn’t fair.  Did I tell you that enough?  There are many good people too, they’re just harder to spot, and are suffering from being dumped on by all the jerks.  Be nice to them.

Remember this mis-attributed Mark Twain quote:

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

There are so many things I forgot to teach you, but thankfully, you’re smarter than me, so you’ll figure it all out before you have children – if you have children – which I recommend and I don’t recommend.

If you know that I love you, that you conquered my selfishness, that you made me a better person, that I always wish the best for you – wish for stamina to withstand all the challenges you’ll face, keeping your humor, your hope, and your humanity intact, then I’ll believe I’ve done a good enough job.

Love,

Mom

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

Hike Come Hell Or High Water

Chicken of the Woods mushroom Photo: Andy Kostecki

Chicken of the Woods mushroom
Photo: Andy Kostecki

My beau & I won a White Mountains 3-day Adventure package through the Appalachian Mountain Club at the Boston Globe Travel Show this year.  The biggest mountain I have ever hiked was two years ago, Mt. Chocorua.

The hike was moderately challenging, but soul-soothing through the woods and past streams and waterfalls.  However, when we got above the treeline, I panicked.  I thought the wind was going to send me tumbling out into the forest below, as though there was less gravity up there.  I asked my beau to please not let me fall off the mountain, and he promised I’d stay put unless I jumped on purpose.  There was a further rocky peak, maybe fifty more feet up, but my courage left me, so I sat and watched his progress in the too wide open air from my safe perch in the middle of the granite slab.

After a while, I was able to get up and walk around, even peer over an edge to the valley below.  The view was well-worth my challenge getting there.

Today we took our first hike in preparation for the Presidential Range, but I think I’ll only make it as far as Congress did.  We hiked just over 5 miles to Mt. Toby’s summit and back, and I’m achy, cranky, and wondering how this ever gets addicting.

We pressed on through the torrential downpour for about a quarter of the hike, and we believed we were prepared for rain, but found a few chinks in our system when our rain hats poured water down our backs, and our jeans grew heavier with the soaking.

Along with benefiting from exercise and fresh air, we saw many orange salamanders along the path, a couple of garter snakes, and a friendly dog, that we at first thought might be a bear.  Outside of a few more hikers on their way down, we had the mountain to ourselves.

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

Photo: Andy Kostecki

We were thoroughly chilled by the time we got back to the car, and hungry, making our arrival home that much nicer as we got into warm, dry clothes, and sipped the morning’s leftover coffee, still hot enough from the carafe, while we made some soup and grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches.

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

Structuring The Blog

I have a couple of pages for my blog, and am thinking about a new theme too, but it will have to be one that supports pages, unless all themes do.

This link makes shorter work of finding posts from my youth and young adulthood, as well as more current adventures.

http://wp.me/PSXDe-U3

My other page is about my blog, about me, and a bit of why I write.  Mostly I write because I need to, whether it’s read or not.  Getting thoughts out on paper or on the screen helps release some of the charge, and I’ve been fortunate to read others who inspire, and comfort, and lessen the burden.

I purged many old posts the other day, and it was good to let so much go.

Cheers all, and happy writing & reading. <3

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

Clothes Shopping

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/20/old-navy-plus-size_n_6180846.html

An employee organizes clothing at an Old Navy Inc. store in Santa Monica, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, a survey which measures attitudes about the economy, is scheduled to be released on Oct. 10. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Does anyone else get anxious going into a clothing store?  I like clothes, adore cute styles, patterns, textures, and varied material, but I ordered shorts online, and they were too big – a happy problem, for sure – but going to the store to try to find the right size was a freakish experience.

Shopping has never been my favorite past time, but I was struck with too many possibilities, and yet, variety is the spice of clothing!  Maybe it wasn’t having a lot of time to wander around and try on everything that caught my eye, but it felt visually overwhelming.

Would I look good in those cute sailboat pattern Capri pants?  What about the palm tree print?  Oooo, the flowered cut-offs?  Wait, that pretty star-spangled skirt is so cute!

Oh, do I even have a shirt to go with it?  Well, hold on, I’m just here to switch the cute flower-patterned khaki linen shorts I got, and I can either stick with those or choose one of these others.  Oh, no, I can’t.  I got the shorts because they were significantly marked down, and all the other things I’d like are full-price.  Maybe there’ll still be a few items at the end of the season.

The thought of the end of the season depresses me further, because time moves faster now that I’m older, and then I’m enervated and look for the right size shorts, which of course they don’t have, and the sales lady suggests I go online and maybe they’ll waive the shipping fee if I find the size I want, but in the meantime, is there anything else she can sell me, uh, show me?

My S.O. watches my changing state from our store entrance to our store exit, and he’s learned to not say anything, but takes my hand, and kisses my cheek.

What I need is a personal shopper – who works for free. Ha, ha, ha, ha.

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

All I Want To Eat Is Crap

I have apples, oranges, cheese, yogurt, kale, lettuce, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, beans, rice, potatoes – and all I want to eat is junk.

If I could survive on chips and chocolate, I’d be a happy woman.  I try to diet, I do.  I try to make salmon and kale my best food friends, and I eat them like one being forced to eat sludge.  I made Maple-glazed salmon, faithfully executing the recipe, only to choke the shit down.  I nearly ate a box of cookies later to make up for it.

Why can’t I like what’s good for me?  Have you tried eating kale?  I think even cows pass it over because of all the chewing.

Sugar and caffeine, two of my favorite things in the world are slowly killing me.  One of my favorite people in the world died when she was 99 – and she lived a happy life eating her Georgia-peach pies and drinking pots full of coffee.

I exercise, and laugh, and play, and my waistline keeps increasing from all the love I shower myself with in the form of chips and hummus and guacamole.

Moderation.  I’m told that’s the key, but my brain doesn’t distinguish between ‘full’ and ‘time to stop eating’.  My mother is in her eighties, rail thin, and eats pints of ice cream at a time.  She has a fast metabolism, I do not.  I’d call her a bad word, but she’s my mother…

I’m doing the tricks to make my metabolism faster – taking specific herb and spice combinations, drinking water first thing in the morning, interval run/walking.  I can white-knuckle it with the best of them – not giving into cravings, until finally, I do – and then I’m off & running again.

I know there’s a better way, but my brain would like me to shut the hell up and keep the chocolate coming.

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

 

Summer Day, Twelve

The cool breeze and shade diminished the heat of the sun as I walked down the road to Marie’s house.  I watched the big maples and oaks as I walked, their leaves rippling and swaying in the wind, the sun filtering through them creating dappled patterns, moving kaleidoscope-like on the pavement.  I tried leaping into spots of sun but the dance was too fast, I kept losing the game.

The rustle of chipmunks and squirrels startled me as much as I startled them, leaving me relieved to see them scampering under the leaf cover, over a log, or up a tree.  When the woods got thicker, the sun spots all but disappearing from the road, I worried about hungry bears and wolves attacking me, and I’d quicken my pace, but never run.  Running was cowardly, and the rule was, I’d only run if I actually saw a bear or wolf, otherwise, I just had to feel the fear, knowing that it wouldn’t be far until the trees thinned out, giving way to the fields, where I’d be back under the hot sun, hoping the breeze kept up.

Some days, when there was no breeze, I’d pretend I was lost in the desert, the shimmer of heat up from the pavement was a mirage – that wasn’t Marie’s house up ahead, really.  It would disappear when I got closer, my parched lips, dry mouth, and swollen tongue would find no respite.

The game ended when I reached her driveway, and sometimes she would be outside waiting for me, and then we’d go off, away from her nosy little brothers, and play games with her Barbie and Ken doll – marrying them and then making them get divorced for various reasons.  The hottest days, when she was inside, I’d revel in the cooler inside air, going over the kitchen sink, helping myself to a long drink of water – rescuing the poor desert wanderer.

My parents had divorced about two years then, and I liked being at Marie’s house where her mother and father were together, and they lived a life as normal as I wish I had.

It was many years later, when I had my child, that I realized what it must have seemed like to Marie’s parents – that no one wondered where I was, that I could stay over any time I wanted, no permissions needed.  Her parents talked of wanting to adopt me that summer, a conversation I heard and related to my mother, begging her to let me live there.  My mother, her pride kicking in, refused, thus sealing my fate – and I wish I had known how to ask skillfully, maybe requesting to stay at Marie’s for the summer, and not mentioning adoption…

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

 

I Forgive Me

Maybe I’ll get a wide-screen view of my life when I die, and I’ll have the perspective of a stranger, seeing all I did and didn’t do, and perhaps it won’t be as terrible as I fear.

I know where I fucked-up, and I know where I tried to right things, and I know where I did well.

I parented a child mostly on my own, and I finally forgave myself for all that I wasn’t.  I can catalog a list of what I didn’t do to him that was done to me, and I can catalog a list of what I did, and didn’t do that could have made his life better.

Sometimes I was a real shit.  Sometimes my selfishness, and lack of perspective, or just self-righteous justifications, ruled the day.  I wish I had done better.

I forgive me because I haven’t yet.  My guilt and shame have made my life a tough place to be, and I yelled and lived so much in my anger when I was raising him, and I’m sure that caused lasting harm.

I think I made him afraid of emotions, afraid that they would always overwhelm him, so it’s better not to have them.

I forgive myself for causing his anxiety, or adding to his challenges in this unforgiving life.  While I appreciate his forgiveness, it’s most important that I stop adding more shame.  At my worst, I worry that I’m unable to change – that I wouldn’t be any better if I could do it over.  I’m grateful we need not find out.

I forgive me for not caring enough about myself, for not having a fight reaction when my flight reaction was dissociation rather than getting myself out of the situation.  I forgive myself for not being stronger, more willful.

I’ve learned how to fight – how to scratch, and kick, and tear skin – to make sure I have some DNA.  I almost welcome anyone to try to mess with me now, now that my rage is outward, and I’m no longer cowed.  I could have prevented so much harm, but I think it’s better to learn late than not at all.

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

One Of Those Days

I woke up sad.  Like someone close just died sad.  I can’t seem to connect today, have no interest in talking, but I thought maybe writing would help, and I’m sure there are many folks out there who can relate.

There’s nothing wrong, and life is going on as it always does.  Nothing happened, nothing’s coming up, and as far as I know, no one I’m close to has died.

My gratitude list includes my health, my senses, my friends, my lover, and the beautiful area I live.  I’m safe, I have food, and clothing, and shelter.

The sky is blue, the grass and trees are green, the lilacs are blooming and a clipping sits in a vase on the counter where I can inhale its lovely scent.

There is work at home I’ve been intermittently doing, and I’ve been exercising, but I’ve also been tearing up all day, the sense of loss hitting me intensely, then subsiding.

I’m staying away from social media where I will only feel worse, and I’m doing what typically helps on days like today, but I’m still battling surging emotions that make me wish I could go home – the longing for some existential comfort I’m failing to find in myself today.

Perspective is knowing this will pass, and believing I’ll get through it.

I’m trying to find a reason I feel as I do, but maybe the answer is that I’m human, and some days suck – no matter how hard I try to make it better. I don’t need to wallow in my feelings either, but maybe I can just accept that this is how it is today, and with luck, I will feel glad again sooner rather than later.

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

Spring To Summer in A Flash

It’s supposed to hit the mid-80°F’s today, and it’s been in the high 70°F’s & 80°F’s for nearly a week now.  We had a few true spring days, high 50°F’s & 60°F’s, but now it’s ‘spring unhinged’, or an impatient summer.  I’ll take it!  I’m in love with the world today, and I’ll ride this pink cloud into the ground, I know, but it’s a happy cruise now.

The blossoming trees, bushes, blooming flowers, glorious green grass – nature’s eye candy, and its spell is working.  Getting dumped by nature will suck, as it always does, but life’s intermittent reinforcement is working, and I’m charmed all over again.

The crab-apple tree next door is ‘tickle-me-pink’ hued, more lush and vibrant than last year, and standing under it, the light honey-ed apple scent, and the electric-field buzz of hundreds of bumblebees gathering pollen is nearly over-whelming.

Crab Apple in bloom, Montague, MA Photo: Jerri Higgins

Blooming Crab Apple Tree, Montague, MA Photo: Jerri Higgins

Blooming Crab Apple Tree, Montague, MA
Photo: Jerri Higgins

If there’s a heaven, I hope it’s a lot like this, without things like having to stop writing so you can pee – that’s so annoying!

If you’re in this part of the world, in the Eastern time zone, or better, I hope you enjoy this gorgeous day.  Cheers!

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