Cruel Chisel

There is a cruel chisel of hardened steel running through me.

It wants to harm everything it sees.

That impulse has shown through and marked everything in my life.

My better nature can push that down, or aside, but it’s always there – that cold rage and destructive nature.

Is that God?

God cannot then be infallible, and therefore not God.

If we’re ‘made in God’s image’, then god is, or was, human.

Maybe there are a succession of human gods – each dying off as a new one takes up the mantle.

Sometimes it’s a kind god telling us how we can be noble and creative – that we can use kindness and gladness through all our interactions and deeds.

Sometimes it has a deadly raging instinct and sees our worthlessness. We are a scourge on this earth. We are not ‘good’ or ‘noble’ or worth saving.

We are selfish, self-seeking, self-absorbed creatures fighting for status, relevance, power and greed.

We could have had a paradise.

We could have had a paradise.

We could have made this a paradise.

How will the next iteration fare?

I wish them better skills – better access to their higher natures.

I wish for their hardened steel to melt and reveal their gold.

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

Dental Revolution

Our teeth are so important to full functioning, and well-being. Mouth health is an important indicator of our overall health.

A dental revolution is important – worldwide. While hampered by circumstances like disease, accidents, disasters, drought, poverty, war, and greed, or other reasons for lack of access to good nutrition and care to keep their natural teeth, either full implants or implant-supported dentures is the way to go.

It’s currently prohibitively expensive for most, but that’s due to price setting. It’s inexpensive to make durable implants and caps, but skilled dentistry is needed for placement, and then good health practices while jawbones heal and continuing.

Or you can just get all your rotten teeth pulled and have to suffer with no dentures or dentures that won’t respond as your mouth changes over time (which is why my preference for all is permanent implants over implant-supported dentures).

Maybe there is bone disease or other illness that makes implants impossible, but a good friend who really wants to eat has dentures she hates, can’t taste her food with them in, and already has trouble feeling hungry due to multiple bouts of cancer and how that, plus radiation and chemotherapy, ravaged her body. She’d love a good steak. She can’t bite into it, and can’t really taste it with her dentures in.

The sooner an implant is placed – like immediately after a tooth removal if possible – the better the prognosis. Sometimes there isn’t enough bone, so a bone graft is needed before the implant body can be placed. It takes another six months or so to heal and set so that the implant can then be placed, and then more special care while that heals before the cap is finally placed.

Now, the cost is anywhere from $7,000 to $90,000 for implant-supported dentures: http:// https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwikzoDLoq3jAhXoUt8KHZ0mDnoQFjALegQIARAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.authoritydental.org%2Fimplants-cost&usg=AOvVaw0wVKKhkrbGzb_9XM5JXCm_

And the cost for a complete set of implants can be $30,000 – $90,000, according to one dental site: https://www.spiritdental.com/blog/individuals/the-cost-of-dental-implants-broken-down&highlight=WyJicmlkZ2UiXQ==

However, those costs are wildly variable depending on where you get them, and what dental insurance covers. Besides that, with education and lobbying, there is enough tax-money that could be diverted and used to help defray the costs of permanent teeth for all – at least in the U.S. Foundations and charities also exist to help with costs not covered by insurance, or could be set-up to help cover costs.

Proper nutrition and keeping our natural teeth our whole life is best, of course, but humans chronically lack consistent good care for a myriad of reasons, and keeping teeth is more valuable than is currently recognized. Not only does it increase self-esteem to have proper teeth, but our communication and even our facial structures change when we lose our teeth and jawbone anatomy.

Medicine is constantly improving and evolving, and there may be further dental care improvements with 3-D printing, and laser surgery, but until those are perfected, life-long teeth, with its associated less suffering, is achievable. We just have to have the will to see it through.

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

Dreamed A Dream

Let’s Go Back To Sane Governance!

The numbers were coming in for voting and the Democrats were winning big. We were going to be okay. There would be a lot of damage to undo or repair, but we weren’t succumbing to dictatorship. The worst elements among us were shown the door. You want a theocracy? Why don’t you move to Saudi Arabia, or any of the desert nations that control their populations under the only version of belief allowed. What if your religion is banned? You think dictators have it right? Move to your beloved Russia where they routinely kill, poison, or maim those who disagree with the party line. What if YOU were against their policies and practices? Better get a food taster, or keep your opinions to yourself…

We can co-exist, and it will be an uneasy alliance, but it will work because while we don’t all get all of what we want, we will get most of what we need. We will shore up our Constitution, and follow it. We can be a better version of Democracy, or we can vanish with something you will not want in its place, but it will be too late to do anything about it then, so I hope it’s to your liking – and that you’ll remember you did it to yourself. To those of good will: Vote Democrats, all the way!

 

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

 

Who Are We?

Citizens.

Fourth of July parades, honoring those fighting, allegedly keeping America ‘safe’, or trying to topple the powerful of other nations committing atrocities.

At least we always said they were atrocities.

Now we’re doing it, and the administration wants it to be as heinous as possible so we’ll capitulate to their demands, and to satisfy their base.

What kind of people their base must be if that satisfies them? They’re a cabal of bullies, and America thinks that’s a good fit for us?

Is it?

Nursing mothers having their babies taken from them. That makes you glad? That makes you proud? That makes you think America is strong, and won’t be fucked with?

This is no country our ancestors would recognize. We had the idea that we would be the ‘shining city on the hill’. We would stand for goodness, compassion, fairness, negotiating, inclusion – help!

We all came from elsewhere, and now we’re all: “I’ve got mine, too bad for you.”

We can do better. Our immigration policy can evolve. Hint, it won’t be a wall. Ever hear of tunnels? Air travel? A wall is symbolic, and in history, walls have never stood for justice.

Dictators, autocrats, heinous deeds done in our name, are not inevitable. They’re allowed through apathy, disengagement, and complicity.

Ben Franklin retorted: “A republic, if you can keep it”, when asked what the founders had wrought after our bitterly hard-fought sovereignty and our Constitution’s creation.

We are always negotiating who we are, what we stand for, and how we wish the world to see us.

That light we carried – that hope we offered – is nearly out.

It’s up to us citizens to keep our Republic, to shore up our ideals, and to pull the reins on the powerful factions ever trying to re-make us in their own image.

We were never perfect, and we’re never going to be perfect, but we’ve had a pretty great template for a relatively balanced society and country.

Oppressing people works for a while, but we eventually rise up when the burden becomes too onerous. I think we’re at that time, and I hope America puts down this latest attempt to change our fundamental ideals.

Only those who want to take your power tell you voting doesn’t matter.

Don’t let them, and if you’re too cynical to believe that, then don’t make it easy for them.

Change The Policy!

Change The Policy! End Family Separation!

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

 

The Bullshit of Aging

Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).

Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.

What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.

My nemesis.

I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.

We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.

I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.

I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.

I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

You & I, Dylan Thomas, you & I.

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

 

 

Back To School

The way forward has become clearer in the last few months. Becoming an organizer, public policy maker, lawyer, or other community leader has become attractive. I’ve always cared about social & economic justice, but I’ve not had much personal power.

I’ve read four books in the last few months that have been very illuminating & instructive. Thomas Frank’s, Listen Liberal, helped me see how we got where we are, along with George Packer’s: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which details through personal narratives how America lost it’s center, while Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance reveals another facet of America’s slow, and not-so-slow, decline.

My favorite book, however, and the one which drives my ambition to organize is: A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflictby Peter Ackerman, & Jack DuVall, which is available on film as a PBS documentary.

As I’m boycotting Amazon, I suggest streaming online using iTunes, or Hulu, or borrowing the books and film through your local library. Amazon has become a predatory company with abysmal working conditions and unfair pay for many, if not most, workers.

The Woman’s March was affirming, and there are more planned marches in the works as the new authoritarian regime takes shape and we stand to lose ever more of our Constitutional rights.

Democracy requires participation, and while subtle stripping of our rights over the last few decades in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ quieted many, we can no longer complain from the sidelines as we see bolder disassembling of our republic by those elected who follow their own agendas rather than the majority’s consent.

We can’t have everything, and we do need to compromise and find common ground where possible, but we resist attempts by the monied class and other interests to ruin our environment, or remove our Constitutional guarantees to seek redress for wrongs, to peaceably assemble, and for free speech.

https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg
https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg

Power is derived from the governed’s consent as our Declaration of Independence reads, in part:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

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

Resisting Hate Culture

The rise of Donald Trump has been budding for some time. As odious as he is, he speaks to bullies and miscreants everywhere, as well as those who were able to overlook his maladaptive behavior, or precisely because of that behavior, to vote for him.

He also had help from Russia, but it was homegrown hate that put him in the White House.

I won’t normalize his Presidency, and he cannot act ‘Presidential’.  He has no couth, and cannot stop using his Twitter account like a sulky five-year old.

Thankfully he has the lowest approval ratings of any incoming United States President, which gives me hope for the work ahead to boot his ass & his republican shysters in Congress out.

Voters were angry – especially old, white men, and single issue women, i.e., those who want abortion rights repealed. I don’t think a clump of cells are a human and I never will. The bullshit emotive argument that fetuses have as much or more rights as the mother is why I will always fight that ignorance.

If you’re religious, don’t have an abortion. I think your ‘god’ is a fable. I think the ‘bible’ is fiction mixed with historical events, attempting to give it legitimacy, but it fails. It succeeds through inculcation and fear-mongering, so yeah, a bunch of lies because anything that has to bully to get its way knows it has no actual power or validity.

Digression aside, Trump is an albatross on our Republic’s neck, and more closely resembles Ferdinand Marcos, or Slobodan Milošević.  I hope America will be rid of him sooner than not as his unconstitutional conflicts of interest, and his treasonous relationship with Russia are impeachable offenses, and his self-aggrandizing makes him best suited for reality television, not reality.

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

 

 

There’s No Common Ground

Nope. I really wanted to find it. I tried to start at the sisterhood, right?! The SISTERHOOD! We know what it’s like being harassed. I have no idea what my black & brown sisters go through because I’m white & privileged to only have been sexually harassed & abused, not subjugated to having race enter into my humiliation & defilement, but trust me, I know what the fuck it’s like to be abused.

I am so angry there is race & culture that enter into it too – like Dante’s circles of hell.

I’m tired of reading intellectuals spout bullshit at each other, especially those who sit back as though they’re so much better than everyone else they deign to engage with. Step. the. fuck. OFF.

America is in dire straits. Not the band, the actuality. We are entering the totalitarian zone with the rise of drumph, the admitted sexual predator, and narcissistic sociopath, whom a sibling, and at least one close friend voted for. WOMEN I know voted for that cretin. I understand men voting for him, but women? I guess I can fathom, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, why women would have thought he’d be – nope, can’t do it. Stepford Wives comes closer to an explanation, or being drugged, or deluded.

Well, I can move abroad, right? I don’t have to stay for the shit show. I have friends & relatives in Canada & Australia. Being a refugee sucks, but it depends on what you’re leaving behind.

Good luck folks – I hope you like your new dictatorship. You all get what you deserve!

Cheers!

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

Here We Are

Oh no, this is not a new ‘reality’.  This is not acquiescing to ‘what is’, or any other platitude.  We are in horrific times, pergatorious times – and yes – I just made up a word because that’s the kind of times we are now experiencing.

A joke is our President-elect.  Make no mistake, an unqualified hack will be the leader of this quickly sinking country – perhaps a harbinger of the fabled ‘end times’.  Yeah, I know I’m giving legitimacy to fiction by naming it as a thing I believe we’re approaching, if not already in, but, hey, ya gotta start somewhere…

The end times described in antiquitious texts is when the current system, way of life – whatev – is abandoned and a ‘new way’ implemented.  Or it’s when all the ‘worthy’ people will be ‘taken’ and the rest of us – most of us – will be left with the stinking cesspool those assholes helped create.

God looks the other way while Rome burns – or America and the European Union – at any rate.

Thankfully there are many, MANY, folks not burdened by fictional works who are left scrambling to hold onto the tattered remains of honorable, inclusive, compassionate society.

It sucks that it takes a horror show to jolt the fighters among us, but enlivened we are.

Peace be on those deserving peace.

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

 

 

Living Nightmare

So, the goodness I thought would reign didn’t manifest, and the people chose darkness.

They chose hate, fear, misogyny, and it’s the first time a known sexual predator was elected to the highest office in America.

We are lower than we’ve been since John F Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassinations.

Healthcare – such as it is – will be repealed, and people won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions.  Women’s rights – even the right to vote – risk decimation.

Supreme Court justices who are anything but just will be installed, and America will not get over this ruination.

President Obama barely got us out of the hell President George W. Bush got us all into, but at least we were making progress.

The bully elect will knock down and crush the building blocks so painstakingly erected over these last 8 years of a do-nothing Congress, that America also saw fit to continue.

I am bereft, bewildered, and sad for my fellow Americans, especially us women, and for the children who will wonder why we did this to them.

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

 

Hillary, I Apologize

clinton-hI imagined you as out-of-touch with the real needs of impoverished and middle-class Americans, and I was wrong.  I’m sorry.  I believed you untrustworthy, and in league with those who feed your coffers – the Wall Street ilk – and how you’re indebted to them, at the 98%’s expense, and I hope I am wrong about that too.

You don’t struggle over what food you can buy, or how to pay a medical bill, or afford living, but I think you’ve witnessed enough of life’s misery to understand those challenges without experiencing them.

I believe you have compassion, and strength, and wisdom.

Watching you in the first debate with Mr. Trump, I was so impressed with your composure against his bullying, lies, and abusiveness, and I appreciate your ideas to help guide our country.

You won me over with your competence, regardless of your flaws and missteps, and I know you’ll make a stellar President.

I believe you’ll fight for justice, for all of us, as much as you can – and I understand that the Presidency is beholden to the Congress – so we need a Congress that will uphold its Constitutional duty, and work together on our many serious problems, domestic and foreign.

You’re faced with economic and social injustice and unrest, and I don’t envy you in trying to create harmony and peace in our nation, while also attending to good relations in the world, and trying to right the injustices we’ve helped create abroad.

I hope my faith in you and your leadership won’t leave me wanting.

Thank you for your lifetime of public service, and please keep defining why we should vote for your Presidency, and not focus on your opposition as a horror show we know he is.

We’d much rather be uplifted than scared witless.

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

 

 

 

Tell Me

So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.

Are you happy?  Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?

If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life.  Balance is key.  Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.

I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear.  Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.

My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you.  For sure, ‘love’ is a big word.  It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.

Life is learning.  That never stops, so I’m still learning too.  My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.

Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.

I am grateful.

The Day You Were Born

At the beach
At the beach

Austen & me June 2009
High School Graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man/ Boy and Mama Aug. 2012
Summer Before College Graduation

 

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

Love To Andy

In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.

I am.

Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.

I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.

But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.

So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.

You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.

This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.

Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.

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Andy & me at Yaquina Head light, Oregon, June 2016

 

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

 

 

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 occurs when your attention is on other things like when you’re walking, or other exercise, or when you’re taking a shower, or just ‘spacing out’, as well as during sleep – as long as you were focusing on the problem(s) before going to sleep. Your brain works on problems when you’re not consciously focusing on them.

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!

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© 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.

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 head.

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’.

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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.

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© 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.

Scarecrow

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!

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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.

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© 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!

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

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

Writing 101, Day Fifteen, They Canceled The Fair

fryeburgfairnightHow many years has it been? Twenty-five, no, thirty!  I’ve been going to the Down Home Agricultural County Fair since I was seven or eight, and now it’s canceled.  Sure, there are other fairs, I suppose – other fairs that are not the Down Home!

I had my first kiss underneath the bleachers next to where Frank’s Fabulous Pigs raced. I had turned thirteen the previous September, and Jimmy Reynolds, my friend and secret crush since third grade, grabbed a hold of my hand and pulled me under the bleachers.  At first I thought we were just going where we shouldn’t be, maybe to look for lost money, him beaming that ten-megawatt smile at me, and me awaiting further instruction, when he leaned in and kissed me.  My heart pounded and my hands were instantly sweaty as I kissed him back, and we stood there until the sound of feet stomping above us broke the spell.

We held hands the rest of the night, and although it was usually hard to shut me up, I couldn’t think of a thing to say – and neither could he.  We just kept riding the rides, playing the carnival games, and sharing fried dough, and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Jimmy moved to Florida at the end of the summer, and we wrote letters back and forth for a while, promising to visit, which we never managed, and after a year went by the letters slowed, and by the next summer, I stopped hoping for a response to my last few letters.

The Down Home County Agricultural Fair was a near guarantee to see everyone I knew – and the chance to eat my fill of french fries with vinegar, fried dough, and over-priced lemonade, that I enjoyed watching the vendor make for me.  “You like it sweet or tart, honey?”  Sweet for me, tart for Jimmy.

Time wore on, and every year the events that attracted me changed from thrill rides to animal shows, and after my son was born I went with friends who had children, and we’d meet year after year, first riding with our children on the kiddie rides, our knees scrunched up, or wider hips not quite fitting into the tot-sized cars, and when they were big enough, putting our children on the kiddie rides alone, and watching with happy trepidation as they thrilled or freaked-out, and when they were older, bidding them farewell with instructions to meet later by the front gate, and having them pretend they didn’t see us whenever they’d pass by.

With my son in college, and friends scattered around, I went to the Down Home by myself last year, and spent most of my time looking at prize-winning quilts, home-made clothing, garden and preserve entrants’ displays, and shook my head at the carnies luring game players to win prizes not worth the two dollars to play one game.  Back in my day, I find myself thinking, it was a quarter, and the prizes were bigger, and better quality too.  I might as well start yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.  I catch myself and laugh, I don’t want to be in the ‘old coot’ category – not now, not ever.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

Writing 101, Day 10, Favorite Food

From: http://shortorderdad.com/?p=1734
From:
http://shortorderdad.com/?p=1734

“Why can’t I go with Lisa and Trudy?”, I begged mom for the third time in twenty minutes.  She was cutting up carrots, and celery –  and she gave me and my little brother a half a celery stalk for a snack, before adding the rest into the pea mash in the big stew pot simmering on the stove.

“For the last time, you’re too young to go out by yourselves.”

“But their moms are letting them go!”

Mom stopped chopping and eyed me, her lips whiting around the edges.

“Well, they are not your Mom, and your older brothers will take you after dinner, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go at all.”  She wiped her hands on her blue and white-flowered apron before picking up the ham-hock and adding it into the pot. “And, it’s the first year your little brother is going Trick-or-Treating, and you’ll have to stay with him”  She turned around starting to chop the onions, and I knew I’d be in trouble if I said another word, but I couldn’t help groaning, and I left the kitchen when I saw her raised eyebrows.

I laid down on the couch in the other room to pout, and listened to the wind blowing leaves against the side of the house, and after a while mom began humming, and I could hear my brother playing with his Lincoln log set on the kitchen floor, the sounds making me sleepy.  The celery hadn’t made me any less hungry, but mom would just get irritated again if I started asking if supper was done.

I got up and went into the kitchen anyway, and sat at the rectangular Formica table with the bumpy metal trim I liked to run my fingers along.  I didn’t like the kitchen chairs in the summer when my legs stuck to the plastic seat.  My brother got his head stuck in between the chair top and seat last summer and mom buttered his ears to get his head back out.  The stupid kid tried to do it again but mom warned him that she would just leave him there this time.

I thought that sitting at the table would make supper get done sooner, but instead, it seemed to take longer.  I liked the way the windows were steaming up though, and I went to draw a finger picture on the window but mom yelled at me that it would leave grease marks, so I sat back down and laid my face on the cool table-top.  Mom told me to get up and get the bread out of the pantry and put it on a plate, and then get the bowls and spoons out.

I didn’t grumble this time because I was so hungry and I knew that meant supper was ready!  I even got the butter without being asked.

Mom sat my brother on top of the phone books on his chair, and she told me to get my brothers and sisters for supper.  I yelled from the bottom of the stairs, making my mom yell at me from the kitchen to walk upstairs and get them, but they were already stomping down.

We all sat and ate our dinner, my older brothers finishing first, and my sisters close behind.  I loved the soup so much I wanted another bowl, and mom said there was just enough for seconds.

I hated having to wait for my little brother to finish, but mom let me go get my costume on while she cleaned up my brother.

After Trick-or-treating, the house still smelled like the pea soup, but I was too full of candy to want any more.  Mom made us pour out the rest of our candy to see what we could keep, while I smirked at my secret of already eating several pieces until my stupid brother told her we ate some on the way home – and I had told him he could have some only if he didn’t tell mom when we got home.  She told us to go straight to bed, adding that if we were poisoned it served us right for not listening to her, but when my brother burst into tears thinking he was going to die she relented and let us stay up another half-hour.

Through the years, Halloween has held a special memory of my mom’s pea soup, but I’ve yet to have, or make, pea soup as good as hers.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Willing Life

Chester smiled at Bree, squeezing her hand, “What an absolutely gorgeous day!”

“I know! After all the rain, it’s nice to feel the sun again.”  Bree lifted her face toward the sun, she and Chester standing still for a long moment on the park’s dirt path, just past the weathered magnolia tree not yet in bloom.  “The air smells so clean, doesn’t it?” Bree inhaled and exhaled, looking at Chester who nodded his affirmation, his eyes still closed against the sun.

Bree clasped her fingers through Chester’s and they walked on, enjoying the greening grass, the azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwood, cherry, and ornamental pear trees in varied states of blossoming.  Spring was the hardest for Bree, the time of re-birth and awakening, but this was the fifth spring without Jason, and Chester seemed to sense her thoughts as he brought her hand up, kissing her fingers.

The path turned onto the broader paved bike lane where concrete benches sat every few hundred yards, and shade trees offered respite from the sun.  A calm breeze ruffled the edge of Bree’s new spring skirt and she hoped the wind would stay mild.  She bought it because she needed something new and pretty, but more because it was Chester’s favorite cerulean blue, and he liked it when she wore something other than jeans and t-shirts.

A woman sat knitting on a bench, and Bree felt her stomach tighten as she noticed it was a small, red, sweater.  Chester put his arm around Bree’s shoulder as he felt her trembling, and guided her beyond the bench.  Tears welled up in Chester’s eyes at the memory of Jason at two years old, in the red sweater Bree had knitted him, the sweater he was wearing that awful October day.

Bree had been doing laundry down cellar while Jason napped.  He had fallen asleep on their drive to the store and hadn’t woken when she brought him inside.  She put him in his crib and rushed to get some chores done while she could.  She had just finished transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer when she was seized with terror.  She ran upstairs and into Jason’s room to find him hanging over the side of the crib, the neck of the sweater having gotten caught and twisted on the crib’s edge, choking him.  He wasn’t breathing, his body tinted a grey-blue, and Bree heard herself scream but it seemed that someone else far away was screaming.  She frantically untangled him and began CPR, but it wasn’t working.  She scrambled to get the phone, her shaky fingers missing 911 twice before she connected.

She begged them to call Chester at work, not able to remember where he was at first.  The first responders found her clutching Jason to her, her face swollen from sobbing, and unable to speak.  She heard herself growl as they tried to pry Jason out of her arms, and she came back to herself when they told her she would have to let them help her child.  She thought that meant he was alive and she jerked herself up holding Jason out to his redeemer.  She didn’t notice the other responder had taken her arm and was pulling her back.  She heard soothing tones, but she didn’t know what he was saying.

Jason wasn’t coming back to life, and Bree felt hers slip away too as the edges of her sight narrowed and she was no more.

She woke up in Presbyterian Hospital, Chester holding her hand, looking gaunt and vacant. “Hi, love”, he said, bringing his face closer to hers, taking her face in his hands, and kissing her. “We almost lost you, too.”  Tears dropped onto her face, mingling with her own.

“He’s gone.  Our baby’s gone, isn’t he?  They lied. They didn’t save him.”

Chester kept his face next to Bree’s.  “They tried, honey.  They tried with all their might. I love you so much, please stay with me.  I can’t lose you too.”

Bree wailed, the sound chilling to all who heard her grief, and Chester dropped his head down to her shoulder, sobbing along with her.

The next year went by in a blur for both of them.  Their families and friends rallied around them, providing them with meals, comfort, and distraction.  They decided to sell the house and move into a condo.  Chester and Bree took leaves of absence from work, and it was several months before Bree stopped contemplating suicide daily.

Several years passed until Bree’s mourning was less surface, and she and Chester were learning to live side by side with their grief.  The first time Chester and Bree laughed felt like a new ability to Bree, but she felt guilty for having mirth, as though the world should be in black and white now, and always raining.

Bree had a psychic friend who came to tell her that Jason needed to see her happy.  He was waiting for her, just out of sight on the ‘other side’, and her joy would make him glad, and comforted.  Bree wasn’t sure she believed her, but she appreciated her friend being kind and consoling, and trying to guide Bree into the present.  Chester often looked lost and not as ready with a laugh or a joke as he used to be, but he went back to work sooner than Bree, and he started telling her about his daily routine again.

This year Jason would be seven, and Bree saw Jason in any boys about his age, wondering what he would be like.  She and Chester thought about trying to have another baby, but neither of them were ready yet.

Bree forced herself to breathe deep and slow, and find an object to focus on.  A beautiful maple tree grew several hundred feet off the path, and Bree noticed the tiny yellow-green leaves against the dark wood branches.  She looked at Chester who was also admiring the majestic tree.

“Life keeps going, honey.  Maybe we can think about trying to have another baby before we’re too old.”

Bree let the statement hang in the air, but she held Chester closer, and murmured, “I love you so much.  I’m happy to be with you, but I’ll think about more.”

Chester leaned in, kissing Bree full on the mouth, kissing her across her face and down to her neck.  He knew it embarrassed her, but he couldn’t help himself.  Being together in the beautiful day with his gorgeous wife, having survived such loss, but willing to risk again made life feel new for the first time in many years.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Things Remembered

When he was a boy
When he was a boy

101 Dalmatian pajamas, 4T. I breathe into the fabric, trying to catch the scent of my little boy, but I forgot that I washed them before packing them away in the box of baby remembrances when he had outgrown them.  The box also contained his cloth Madeleine doll, which showed where the scar was from her appendectomy, and the yellow rubber duck received at his baby shower that he had to have at every bath time.  I say ‘contained’ because when his sister, my nearly step-daughter, had her first child four years ago, I sent the rubber duck, after sterilizing it, with a letter, saying that I hoped her daughter would like it, and if she remembered how her brother had loved it when he was a baby.

His sister emailed me after she got the package, telling me how sweet that was, and her daughter liked it too.  When we went to visit them a few years ago, it was gratifying to see the rubber duck in among the bathtub toy collection.

She mentioned in a post how her daughter was enjoying the Madeleine books, and I knew it was time to send along the Madeleine doll, so beloved by my son at her daughter’s age, along with a little monkey puppet for her latest family addition, who is now a year old, and I haven’t yet met.  I got a note the other day telling me they received the package, and her daughter asked if she could keep the doll forever.

It seemed overly sentimental and silly to keep those few things from my son’s childhood, but I have no keepsakes, and no pictures from mine, so it was important to me, and I thought my son would one day appreciate the link back to his youth.  He thought it was cool that I had sent his niece the Madeleine doll, and we spoke about how he used to watch the Madeleine cartoon, and have me read the books over and over.  Rather than merely keeping useless things that only had meaning to me, the items became an heirloom of sorts, and re-connected my son and I with a happy memory from the past, as well as furthering my son and his sister’s bond, with her children too.

Keeping sentimental things just adds to my pile of stuff, so I’ve done my best to pare down, taking pictures of things before giving them away or recycling them. Having some tactile link to the past is important to me though, so the 101 Dalmatian pajamas will remain in the (now smaller) keepsake box.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Full Moon in Wendell Brings A Coffee House

Last Saturday, January 18th, Livingston Taylor played in bucolic Wendell, Massachusetts, at their monthly fund-raising Full Moon Coffee House.  The day had been snowy off and on, my boyfriend and I wondering if the event would be cancelled, or if we should attempt the winding back-road drive in the now heavy-falling snow, but it was so worth the risk getting there and back!

Taylor’s voice is higher toned, although of similar timbre or resonance as his older brother, James’ – but Livingston has a playfulness and sardonic sense that’s evident in his music and story-telling.  He grabs your attention from the start and holds it to the end through his self-effacing stage presence and excellence.  Whatever talent he defers to his older brother, he has himself, regardless of public acclaim differences.

The show opened with Carrie Ferguson playing the piano and singing several of her songs with her lilting, tremolo, vocals and sweet sound.  Taylor took a few moments after her performance saying that’s a tough act to follow, and then continued with ‘notice how I’m standing here, waiting for the memory of what you just heard to fade.  I’ll give it a few minutes more.’

From that opening, to his songs such as Life Is Good, Never Lose Hope, Pajamas, I Will Be In Love With You, Everybody’s Just Like Me, and several more entrancing tunes, he wove stories, and musical history through a magical hour and a half, bringing us snippets of Yip Harburg’s pop song work, who was inspired by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert, and Harburg inspired others such as Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart, who also clearly enthralled Livingston Taylor, informing his musicality and love of music history.

Livingston Taylor teaches at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and his performance made me want to take his classes, and become the best musician I can be.  I bought his book: Stage Performance, and asked him to sign it for me, to which he readily obliged.  When asked to whom he should address it, I said ‘to Jerri, and add how wonderful it is to meet me, and what a great time we’ve had…’  His droll smile illuminated his face as he penned: “Wow! What a time!  To Jerri, Livingston Taylor”  I’m most pleased that I made him smile.

Taylor’s performance closed with his sweet rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, to which we all joined in, and it was a truly lovely ending to a superbly entertaining show.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Morning Joe

Dumping the remaining coffee from my cup onto the frozen lot outside my car,

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I stepped deftly over the pooled scar

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But later I slipped – much to my chagrin,

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On the coffee-ice that formed where the puddle had been.

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I smiled grimly through my ache, realizing that this was my first

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True coffee-break.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.