Rainy Monday

“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” from Rainy Days and Mondays, Carpenters, 1971 album

I wish I could empirically know if it is my mother’s spirit that I feel in certain moments like this morning when I heard her voice inside me say “what a rainy day,” as I looked out over the tiny garden this morning.

Her voice came unbidden. I wasn’t thinking about her in that moment, but I’ve been thinking of her since.

Are there gardens wherever she is – if she’s anywhere at all anymore?

There must be gardens, because she’d create one.

Doesn’t all our creativity speak to something beyond us? We dream, and plan, and build. We create worlds within worlds – aquariums of fish sometimes replete with real or plastic plants, old time scuba outfitted people, little plastic treasure chests, or practical items like miniature caves or structures where the fish can swim through or hide.

There’s Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona – a town I once briefly lived in – where a dreamer designed and built a sustainable living environment for when we have thoroughly trashed this one (as we seem unable to stop ourselves from doing).

My mother was curious about everything. She pondered life’s mysteries, and whether we continually recycle into flesh beings – or whatever forms we might take in an endlessly diverse universe.

I could and did talk to her about anything, and while I still have my scholarly and philosophical friend who also ponders the extraordinary, and the mundane, my mother’s voice is silenced except for memories, and a few video and audio recordings.

But maybe her voice isn’t silenced. Maybe consciousness resides outside the body. Maybe my mother has just changed form, and carries all that she gained from being on Earth with her – willing her thoughts into my brain once in a while?

It’s frustrating that I can’t know for sure, and it feels like searching for the roots of truth in mythology.

I once read that God(dess) is an “unknowable essence,” but has sent, and will send, messengers throughout all time to tell the rest of us why we exist, and what It hopes from us.

My mother once read me some other sage’s words: “Why do you seek God(dess)? Does a fish seek water?” I don’t know the author of those words, but they often sustain me.

I sense my mother’s smile and encouragement too, and that will have to suffice.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Launch-pad Dreams

Maybe it’s a brain problem.

Years ago, Susan Skulsky, a college English professor who worked with me to improve to a B from a dismal D in my first year General Literature survey course, told me that my ideas were good, but my grammar was terrible.

I’m sure I confessed to her of having dropped out of school after 8th grade.

I did drop back in for my senior year at the urging of a friend who asked me if I had no better ambitions than to be a store clerk, or a server, all my life. I thankfully decided more education was better. However, I missed a lot of critical grammar work that made my English Language and Literature major hard won.

I should have chosen music or theater, but both subjects intimidated me too much, and my college advisor did not see that I was in the wrong major.

I took an introductory theater class, philosophy, and delved into geology, and oceanography, all of which were fascinating and gratifying, but I still longed to be a writer, and perhaps teacher, so I stayed with English.

I remember another English major describe herself as ‘highly trainable’ several years after we graduated and she was working as an insurance underwriter.

But I was going to write something worth reading, perhaps something worth remembering me for…

I never found ‘my thing’ back then, and I’m not sure I ever have.

Did all of my education go to waste? The experiences certainly didn’t.

I learned more about social strata than I likely would have otherwise, which may have been more valuable in some ways than the academics.

The woman whose daddy was giving her a ‘Jag’ upon graduating. The several women who had never done their own laundry. The ones only there to find a good husband, or because that was their social track.

My dirt poor existence could not have prepared me for the realities of the moneyed world.

The day I got my paper back with that big red D, and its accompanying “make an appointment to see me,” scribbled next to it, I sat in silent shock, while a girl sitting with some classmates at a table behind me was in tears over an A- she received.

What would she have thought had she known there someone who got a D sitting so near her?

Life moved on, as it does. I survived, and am still standing, even if my dreams did not become reality. I try not to justify my failures as ‘all for the best’. I simply failed.

Maybe it was a brain problem.

My dear friend told me about her daughter’s boss who said something like “Oh, you’re a scholar,” when my friend spoke of her interests and her life. She said it was a freeing statement to hear. She is a scholar.

Perhaps, I am a scholar too.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Summer Evening, Six Years Old

I am about six years old, and just finished my bath. My mother dries me off and tells me to get into my pajamas and wait for her while she finishes bathing my three year old brother.

She will braid my hair, like she has my older sisters who have already had their bath, but unlike them, I will have to go to bed right after my hair is braided and my teeth are brushed.

Those were the best times with my mother. Her love was fully present, and in those few moments her attention was all mine.

I stand looking at the rectangle of sky out of the window in the steamy bathroom, a soft breeze cooling my face as it carries in the evening songbirds’ chirping.

The open kitchen window is full of the dimming sky as I write this, the night birds singing me back to six years old – feeling my mother’s touch and love – the current ache of missing her lessened by this time travel.

Are the birds singing to their broods, hushing them to sleep? Are they, too, happy in their mother’s attention?

My oldest brother rushes into the bathroom: “Mom, look!”

He has a lightning bug in a jar. It’s buzzing against the glass, looking for a way out.

“That’s a special bug. You can look at it for a while, but I want you to let it go outside before bed.”

“Oh, alright,” my brother groans, ruing his decision to show her his prize.

My next oldest brother comes in with a lightning bug he smeared on his arm just as it had lit up. His experiment a proud success.

She tells him to go wash it off as my little brother and I start to cry at his seeming cruelty.

“It’s just a bug,” he sneers, and then they’re off, clomping back downstairs.

“You boys stay in now – and clean up,” my mother calls after them.

The darkening sky has quieted the birds, the light in my kitchen seeming brighter now.

I imagine a mother bird having fed her brood, and cleaned their feathers before bed – their crowded nest all cozy and warm.

A few late birds call out, and then all is quiet again.

The earth is turning from the sun for another night.

The fireflies are lighting up in the dimness, and perhaps my mother is right here, enjoying this moment with me.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Disaster Cake

It’s not the kind of cake you make for a disaster (although that might be nice when totally stressed out from a disaster?).

I have never made pineapple upside down cake before, but have always wanted to. My mother made one when I was a kid, and it was delectable (her chocolate fudge was amazing too).

I had some frozen pineapple from several months ago that I kept meaning to thaw and try this cake recipe with. (Frozen pineapple is also fantastic in smoothies, if you didn’t know.)

I bought a yellow cake mix because the recipe said that was fine if you didn’t want to do it all by scratch, which, in hindsight, would have been better.

I made up the mix, and carefully laid out the pineapple and brown sugar/butter mixture on the bottom of the pan, and then poured the mix on top – following the instructions to a T.

What I failed to notice was the *.

I mean, I noticed it, I just thought it didn’t pertain to my situation.

The asterisk cautioned that it was best to not use self-rising flour.

Cake mix is self-rising.

After a half an hour or so, I smell burning.

Burning?! It wasn’t even half-way done, and I had the temperature correct.

Oh bloody hell!

I looked into the oven to see cake batter rising up and bubbling over like an oversudsed washing machine, dripping down through the rack tines into a batter puddle on the oven bottom.

I shut off the oven, told my partner to open the front door and prepare for the smoke alarm while I took the still-uncooked cake batter in the pan out of the smoking oven, and set it on top of the stove.

I took out the oven racks, dropped the second one when it burned the side of my exposed hand, and screamed to my partner to back off as the rack clattered to floor. Fortunately, my barefooted partner was quick enough to jump out of the way.

He grabbed an oven mitt and picked up the rack, holding it gingerly over the sink because he was afraid that it would hurt the metal sink to put something so hot onto the cool sink bottom. I don’t think that’s a thing, but maybe it is, so whatever. It made him feel better.

Then we scraped off what we could of the burned mess, and I was lucky enough to get the burned batter pile on the oven bottom with a frying pan spatula as it had enough butter or oil in it to not be stuck too badly.

I decided to turn the oven back on and try to cook the cake the rest of the way, even though I figured it was ruined.

I had no idea how much longer to cook it, so I put it on for 20 more minutes at the 325°f setting from the instructions.

I wish I had taken a picture, but am also glad I didn’t. It looked as pathetic as you imagine.

It smelled amazing though.

20 minutes later out of the oven it came, and the toothpick I pierced the cake center with came out clean, amazingly enough.

I set the pineapple-blob disaster cake on the cooling rack for a few minutes, and then tipped it upside down onto a plate.

I had to get a knife to cut away all the baked-on batter that had congealed down the cake pan sides, but it, too, came away without too much effort.

Then came the big reveal lifting off the cake pan…

– it was a girl!

No, it was beautiful, and I still don’t have a picture (what kind of blogger is she?, you’re thinking). Not an astute one. I’ll work on that.

But it came out imperfectly perfect, and DELICIOUS! I wish I could share it with you!

It was light and fluffy and the pineapple looked almost like Martha freaking Stewart had made it. (Easy to say without a picture, but you’ll just have to trust me this one time).

So, here’s the metaphor the universe gave me:

Don’t give up.

Clean up my mess, and have a little faith that, sometimes, even my screw ups can work out better than my dreariest expectations.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

Battle-ready?

If you do not have depression I would like you to offer gratitude to your well-built brain right now – or your lack of childhood trauma events – or be especially grateful if you do not have depression even though you survived immense trauma.

You are a fucking miracle.

You may well be a miracle anyway – I suppose the fact we exist at all is miraculous.

How I wake up:

The weekend interaction with my next oldest sister and a ‘mutual’ friend swims into my consciousness with all its terribleness (and I say mutual loosely because when my mother died, said friend rushed to my sister’s side to comfort her in a haze of pungent smoke, but did not even give me a call. – Never fear, they all heard from me in the weeks after my mother’s death, and I yelled at him for not even thinking to call me when it was my world falling apart too).

Then remembering how my grown son has so thoroughly detached from me that it feels like a mortal wound every time I think of it. In my waking world I reason it all out, and comfort myself, and move on – but in my barely conscious, vulnerable waking moments, the hurt is as raw as a jagged broken bone.

I am genuinely happy for my son’s happiness. He got out of the poverty cycle. He did what every parent wants for their child – to do better than they did. He has a beautiful girlfriend that he just got engaged to, and I have every hope for a content life for them. They are well on their way.

And then she ‘girlfriend-splains’ my own son to me – as though I am just meeting him. And maybe I am.

And then the darkness moves in for its quarry.

All the joy has left my life. Death is a welcome friend. So how to do it? A bridge? A rope? Something quick. I make my plans, and get ready to go.

Something – grace, I guess – shakes me lucid.

No, not today motherfucker!

Now, I know her story is not like the battle I have to do, but the entity in me is just as vile as that nearly-was rapist.

I would like a working relationship with my son, but I do not know how to do that in a mutually satisfying way. I only know how to do extremes, unfortunately, so I am letting go.

I need to protect my heart that has been so battered the last few years. Maybe someday we can have a nice emotionally-distant relationship. I wish him the best life, and I love him with all that I have.

Letting go of the family I want is the next task. The past is gone, and I was probably always deluding myself that I had good relationships with my sisters.

Ahead of me is the hard work of leaving abusive relationships. I will not be my family’s pain receptacle any longer. It is literally killing me, and I want to die for something better than that.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

New Old Life

Nothing looks the same anymore. Maybe it’s still grief over my mother, and over several friends who have died in the last few years – one of them over twenty years ago who I have recently reconnected with.

It’s funny to phrase it that way, but it feels true. I had been stopping by the grave of one of my dear friends – filling her in on our crazy world now – and doing my best to let her know she’s loved and not forgotten.

I’m supposed to be writing an article for work, and I’ll get to it. It’s been such an orderly thing in my disorderly life.

I feel like a weirdo still grieving my mother’s passing. It was her time, after all. She got to live a long life, but it still came as a shock.

This has more to do with me now, I know that. I know it always had to do with me, really. I’m still here and she’s gone – on.

I’ve still not felt her around me. Maybe she’s left for parts unknown – or is just gone, if atheism is right.

Over the past year, it has taken a lifelong soul-sister friend to help me sort out what’s mine and what isn’t.

I had so much grief and rage.

I’m kind of surprised I’m still talking to any of my family members, but I think that’s guilt. I think it’s hope too, but at some point, it’s wiser to move on.

We were each others’ survival growing up as we were tossed about treacherous seas while those who were supposed to be in charge jumped ship. That forges a bond, even if it’s not ultimately healthy.

I love and loved my sisters dearly, but that affection was only really returned by one sister, who still told me her god is better than mine – and even though we got along the best – I know we can only share some of our heart now.

My friend told me I taught them how to treat me, and my acting differently will not cause them to respond well. In fact, I can expect them to act worse, or just continue as they’ve often been toward me.

Sometimes you get surprised for the better, and sometimes you find your true family outside of those you were born with.

Maybe it is my mother’s nudge from beyond this world that’s pushing me toward compatible love and friendship. At least it makes me feel better to think so.

I love you Mom.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) Debts To Pay, and Making A Way’s Blog, 2010 – current

Here Am I

You know how you ‘know’ how you probably should feel, or be, or do, but you feel otherwise?

Yeah, that’s where I am.

It’s not defiance. I don’t feel ‘choice’, it’s just how it is in this moment.

I understand feelings will shift, my attitude will likely change and I won’t have need of where I am – but when I’m here, I’m here.

And I’m angry that I have to manage the multitude in my head telling me why I shouldn’t be where I am emotionally, and then the litany of all I’ve ever screwed up, and opportunities I’ve missed – how, of course my life is not where I want it to be – look who I am.

What a shithead, right?!

I mean, if I could fire that jerk, and demand restitution for all it’s cost me – I’d bottle that and sell it – because I know I am not alone.

Not being alone in this miasma doesn’t have a ‘camaraderie’ feeling to it though. It’s not bested through others’ compassion, but only through self-compassion, and that is not currently in my skill set.

The best pharmacological offerings have not helped – and therapy does take the edge off – but this is a solo path, even though I desperately want company.

“The best way out is through,” as I have heard (and my inner rampaging self says to go screw yourself with your hollow platitudes).

And, yes, I know I’m arguing with myself, but it’s also all the therapists and self-help books that have not been the miracle cure I had hoped for.

Other wisdom reminds me that this is an ‘inside job’, and all I can think is that it would have been better to hire an expert.

“But you are an expert! You are the only expert on you!,” offers my cheery ‘friend’, who now has a black eye…

So, what am I going to do?

I’m going to go out and till the soil in the garden, because if I don’t do it, it won’t get done.

Also, speaking directly to my inner three-nager: I love you. I accept you. You matter to me, and it’s important to me that you get what you need.

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

The Longest Year

Pick your poison.

I’ll start:

COVID-19.

COVID-19 idiots, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, anti-truthers.

Death, and death, and death, and death – mostly preventable had we had non-psychopathic, demented leadership.

Way too many were cool with that. Way too many.

Were they deluded, or are they psychopaths too?

What is the anger? White people fearing that black and brown people will treat them like they’ve been treated?

I used to love my country – thought it was good, and just, and moral.

I didn’t know how naïve I was.

Did I forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki? WTF is wrong with me?

I believed a lie, but I still don’t want to kill black and brown people. I still don’t think white supremacy is the way, the light, the truth. Jesus was brown – deal with it.

I’m still good with socialist aspects of our capitalistic, ‘democratic’ republic. I believe roads, schools, police, fire, ambulance, non-profit hospitals, and all the other things we pay for through taxes, are worth it.

I’m a citizen. Don’t put me in your stupid box so you can dehumanize and demean me. I care about you getting what you need too, even if you suck.

We’ve been ever inching toward the ‘kill or be killed, survive or die’ wilderness.

The funny thing is you all need each other – you all find belonging in your hatred and disgust of those who get your nickel of support each week so that those without can barely survive another week.

Your absurdist argument of not wanting anyone to take your hard-earned money has been a joke since taxes were instituted. Turn your guns on those above you – the ones who are actually responsible for your misery.

Those below you are not sucking you dry, or even having a good life at your expense.

It is the rich folk, stupid. They are the ones who escape paying taxes, who are never audited, who, if not gleefully, purposely keep you impoverished. They are taking way more than your nickle a week.

They take 99% of the pie, and leave us scrabbling over the 1%.

But you can’t do anything about them, can you? So you beat up those with less to make yourself feel better.

Well, organize. Get those below you to join in your cause of being left behind because there is actually something we can do.

Stop giving those fucks your money. Stop buying their stuff.

Join co-ops for what you need – get local. Stop feeding the corporate beast, and one day, soon enough, they will falter.

Or keep doing what you’re doing, and die as angry as you are now. At least those fuckers will regret getting your nickle.

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

Come Visit Me

She’s been calling me for days. I thought I was making it up, but she is persistent.

Go see Mom.

“She’s not there,” I think. “You’re just chasing a memory. You’ll go and the stinky, moldy trailer will be empty, and cold, and you will leave empty and cold.”

“Go anyway.”

“Why, Mom?”

“Because I’m lonely.”

Wait, she’s lonely? I thought she could come see me anytime. I thought that when you’re in spirit, you’re free? Maybe there are things that need to be righted though. Maybe there is unfinished business.

Maybe those final days there were not days she would have wished for. It was not how she wanted to leave it. And my presence will bring love and companionship, even if for a minute.

It will suffice.

And I will keep going back, Mom, even if I’m making it up. I’ll keep going back to say hi until there are no more reasons to go, or no more tears to shed – I guess? I honestly feel like this isn’t just me.

That was your heaven on earth, you said. So I will visit your temple.

I will enter in prayer, and I will leave in prayer.

I wish you peace. I wish you abundant love. I wish you goodness, and light, and laughter all of your existence.

Joni Mitchell has been singing to me too, Mom:

“It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

Joni Mitchell, River from Blue, 1971

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

Late November

The sun shines brightly over the brown, leafless trees outside the kitchen window. A breeze ruffles the tan stalks of grass and hay poking up in patches of the neighbors back property like several days of stubble growth on earth’s face. The blue sky rimmed with white and grey clouds gathered near the horizon makes me think of the soft summer days recently erased – an artist ever changing its mind.

The chug of the tractor’s engine is heard well before the machine trundles into view. The stack of wood will warm us as the evening chill descends.

Ever turning.

Ever turning.

Each day a chance for a different thought, a different choice – until the chugging of my own heart ceases – and all the fuel has left my body.

Until then, my machine needs the same care any aging machine does – I can no longer skimp on maintenance.

Seeing myself with the same respectful reverence I have for that eighty year old tractor is a hard sell for me, but I keep trying.

I’ll keep trying.

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

I Should Have Gone

Earlier this year I was determined to skip the holidays and go hang out with my friend in Arizona until my inner storm blew over.

I couldn’t afford it, but I think I should have anyway. I should have gone the American way and put it on a credit card I’ll pay off for the next decade, but it would have been worth it.

Instead, I psyched myself up to make all these dishes tonight that I’ve never made before, and tomorrow we’ll cook a turkey, and be with my partner and his parents. I charged in doing the holiday thing, full steam ahead, and made biscuits and a cranberry orange relish, and stuffing, and cleaned up after myself, and then I broke down.

I glanced at the TV while I worked and saw an advertisement with some blue water in the background – maybe it was for beer, or maybe some tropical get away place – and I suddenly saw how fake everything is. Just stupid and pointless and it’s all made up. Life is just a big lie.

I should have gone to Arizona.

I told my partner we’re done – and not because of us, but because it’s all pointless, and I hate being here, and then I remembered last year.

My mom had been staying with one of my sisters, recuperating from a shoulder surgery in September, and we all met at my other sister’s house in Vermont for Thanksgiving.

I just wanted to be near my mom. So much so that I pulled up a stool to sit in front of her, and she sort of balked at me doing that.

It was a bit odd, but she had just been away for about two months, and I was glad to see her – but the subtext was an urgency to get whatever time I could with her.

Look, I know my mom was older, and didn’t take the best care of herself, but she fucking said she was going to live to 103 to beat her father’s lifespan by a year. All my life that is what she said. All my life.

So I can be forgiven for being crushed that she died at 89, alright?

I am grateful she lived that long, and things were far from perfect for most of my growing up, but we worked through so much baggage when I became a mom. She really stepped up for me. Selfish, self-centered, lost, clueless, traumatized me who needed a mom more than my son needed a grandmother, and she did both.

She showed up, and she stayed for months. She taught me how to be a mother in some ways – in the better ways. She loved being grandma.

I really miss her, and I intensely dislike the holiday season, and I don’t think I care to be in the world either.

I should have saved her somehow, but really, I should have gone to Arizona.

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

Time Slipper

Existential angst. Unanswerable questions – classic configuration: who, what, where, when, why.

Especially why. To what purpose? To a purpose?

Accidental? By design?

A soup of elemental goop, dividing, evolving, adapting – created the world we’re currently in?

Preposterous?

Yes and No.

The question has become: “does it matter?”

We get to determine what matters, and what to do.

I heard Jane Fonda say she is a repeater – and I realized that I am too.

I am a light receptacle. I travel the helper network, and have found so many others along the way.

There are other networks, some flashy, some dreadful, none as lasting or strong as ours – and we’re open to every single soul, forever.

It’s not really that “we win”. That implies competition, but it’s just a journey home.

I grieve for those who won’t make it home for a long time. I’m going home after this life is done.

In the meantime, I’ve got light to spread as I slip through this time.

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

Rise Up!

I understand why we are where we are now…

The hollowing out of public education – no longer teaching civics and good citizenship – and those in power feeding our fears, telling us to fear anyone who does not look, act, or believe as we do.

So much is happening around us it is overwhelming – on purpose.

As one person we cannot possibly hold onto all the terror.

Hitler rose to power and was followed so fervently because he, like Trump, knew how to manipulate and feed into fear. How is 150,000, and counting, dead Americans acceptable? How is taking children and babies from their mothers and families for seeking a better life in America not reviled?

Trump successfully got people to believe “those” people are the rapists, murderers, gang members, looters, lazy grifters – when he is credibly accused, with current court proceedings against him by at least 2 women, backed up by at least 32 other women, of rape and molestation, and several of those he harmed were children. He has robbed people of their wealth, and his wealthy ‘gang’ is wreaking havoc across our nation. I’d rather see a territorial street gang in one city, than a cross-country crime spree USING OUR MONEY!

But that does not bother anyone? That does not disqualify him?

Learned helplessness is a thing. But I am not helpless. There are answers, and they are not easy, and they require dedication and sacrifice – sometimes our lives – but not one movement has changed anything without great disruption to the status quo. My right to vote was granted through spilled blood. Our right to direct representation was a desperate fight.

We are there. Oppressed people, and thankfully their allies, have come to the point where their oppression is so onerous that they would rather die fighting mob and dictatorial rule than be stomped on anymore.

And the resistance to their uprising among other, mostly ignorant, citizens is painful to witness.

We are so good at xenophobic responses when it is the people who look like America’s idea of the “right” color and class status doing the greatest harm.

Yeah, I could calm down and go for a walk or something, and I do step away and recharge, but this is not ending.

Maybe this is what my life has been all about. I have seen the writing on the wall since I was young. I did not witness an assassinated President, and his brother, or Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X, or any other freedom fighters in our nation, but notice how the ones who are killed are fighting oppression.

Other modern presidents have had assassination attempts, such as Reagan, but it was a crazed person, not a coordinated effort to kill his message or movement.

This world is ruled by evil, but good gets to moderate it as best we can. I am sure I contribute to the evil in ways I might not even realize, but I am championing good to win.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Debts To Pay’s Blog, 2010 – current

After The Storm

Our summer has been hot and humid – and I’ve already heard “Hot enough for ya?” greetings where a nod and a commiserating look suffices in answer.

We have been edging into drought since late May again for the third year in a row. There was no rain for over a month, but then a string of storms descended, like a fire hose on a match, and the town crews got busy removing felled branches and trees in the aftermath, while the electric company restores power, and residents clean up their yards and assess damage to their gardens or land.

We were lucky. Our garden sits to the side of the house, looking like it has no idea what the bother was.

Our neighbor’s weren’t so lucky.

A large tree crashed down, gouging into a long swath of the neighbor’s prized asparagus patch, the tree branches swiping through most of the row of blackberry bushes he planted last fall – sending not-quite-ripe berries scattered through their yard. Their asparagus which had grown tall and spindly with seeds, is no more. The roots are deep though, and next spring will likely see a new crop – and if the neighbors are brave, they’ll plant blackberry bushes again.

We pick ourselves back up and move on, if we haven’t been flattened. Maybe pieces were scattered over our soul’s yard – crumpled, raw, and overwhelming to look at, but we start somewhere. Maybe picking up bigger pieces and try to salvage whatever we can.

The job is too big for a day, and time fills in with other necessary tasks, and days turn to weeks turn to months – but we see it out there. It’s not going anywhere until we do something about it.

After inspecting our oblivious growing garden, I pull on my work gloves and start picking up branches and twigs in the neighbor’s yard and put them on the burn pile for next spring.

My neighbor is pushing bigger limbs with his tractor back into the tangle of vines and poplar trees that line the back of his property. I wave and smile and after he’s through we look at the damage together.

“Could have been worse,” he says with a grimace.

“Could have been better too,” I think, but just give a sympathetic smile and return to picking up some of the debris before heading back into the coolness of my house.

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

Where Are You, Mom?

Doe, Winter 2014, by her chicken coop

“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!” I just kept saying it over and over for several days, as if I could conjure you. I was lost. My guttural howls could not take away the emptiness.

I knew I would not be prepared. How could I be?

I thought our relationship was solid and clean, but regret has inched in anyway. Why couldn’t I save you? Did I do enough? Was I a good daughter, Mom? Did you feel loved and cared about?

You were.

I am limited, and I wish with all my heart I could have made your life better. I never got beyond thinking about how to do that, and everything we talked about doing felt like moving a mountain.

I imagine you’re free and flying around in the spirit world – or have you reincarnated (which was your fervent desire)?

Doe taking direction from Jerri – “Come on, Mom, it’ll be hilarious!”
Doe having a great time: “Take the damn picture,” she said.

It breaks my heart to think you might have stepped into another life – abandoning me again. I was too much for you – your children were too much – so you left, even if not physically. I was a child and needed you Mom. All your children needed you. I still feel like I need you.

I can understand how difficult your life was, and I know you loved us, but love is also a verb.

I forgave you as life went on, and I thought we got whole. I guess the onion metaphor is apt, but how many damn layers are there?

You did make living amends when I had my son, your only grandson. You were such a great grandmother. You helped heal so many of my childhood wounds, but your passing opened them again.

Grandma Doe with Austen
Doe with her daughters and grandson 2017

I wanted you to be here my whole life, as unrealistic as that is. I would have kept you suffering in your painful body for my selfish desire to have you near me, like I owned you or something. Like you somehow belonged to me – and I think that’s a trauma bit from when I was so very little, and so much terribleness was happening in our family, and in the world – just like it is again.

You’re lucky Mom. You got out. You’re not suffering anymore.

Do you miss being here though? Or is it better “there”? Where is “there”? Are you conscious? Is consciousness outside of the body, and we just believe it’s in the brain, or are you completely gone?

Please forgive me for my lack, Mom. Please forgive what I couldn’t manage. I don’t know if it was my job to make life the best it could be for you, but it feels like I failed you.

I liked our conversations and our mostly shared values and morals. I am grateful for the time I got with you. I am so glad I was close enough physically and emotionally to help you and spend time with you regularly.

Doe and Jerri in 2010
Laurel Lake swim day

I had wanted to do a “Tuesdays with Morrie” thing with you, but never got it together. I was going to call it “Wednesdays with Mom.” I have never been accused of being original.

Today is Wednesday, so, I guess I’ve begun. If you’re answering me, I’m too dull to hear it. I keep waiting for a sign that you’re still around, but I would doubt whatever you would send me anyway – and you probably know that – so why waste your energy?

Energy is something I absolutely know you still have because of the first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed. It can only change form or increase. Physicist I am not. I don’t even understand much of it beyond the simplest of terms. Not that I don’t try. I blame my love of standing in front of Dad’s Lincoln Continental and breathing in the leaded gas fumes coming out of the car’s grill for my intelligence deficits. Sweet Jesus, why didn’t anyone stop me? I was 5? Did you even know about that, Mom? I doubt it.

Now, of course, we know that the leaded gas was spewing toxic lead into the air and landing everywhere, especially into my tender lungs and organs and bones as I stood there breathing deeply.

You wanted to make it to 103 years to best your Dad’s 102 years on earth, but you missed 90 by two months instead. Still, not a bad stretch.

I believed you though. My whole life you repeated that like a mantra. You were going to live to 103. It was just a fact we all accepted. You seemed to know, but obviously it was just hope.

Doe March 22, 1930 – January 2, 2020

And maybe you would have made that milestone if you didn’t drink so much, or if you had let us clean up your mildewing/ moldy stuff trailer while you lived – or if I was able to follow through on getting you a new-to-you trailer, or a tiny house that could have given you those 13 more years?

I know that what I was able to do was worthwhile. I have some sweet memories to savor. My job now is to keep the bitterness from spoiling them.

I love you Mom.

Doe circa 1936
High School graduation 1947
Doe 1950 something

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

I’m Tired Of It Too

I haven’t been here in a while. It’s all different, just like out in the world.

Pandemic, Epidemic

I’ve never been in one before – likely, neither have you. I say likely because there have been some epidemics – Ebola (continuing, but largely contained), MERS, and SARS (of which COVID-19 is one).

My partner and I have been sheltering-in-place for over a month, like most of America, and I just read an article in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/17/coronavirus-reopening-shopping-mall-georgia/?arc404=true

The article talks about a locale that has just ‘opened up’ and how everyone is feeling so chipper, and alive, and connected – and holy shit, isn’t that wonderful?

I get it. I do. But if/when they’re sucking air on a ventilator, or their loved-ones are, whom they blithely exposed to a deadly virus, will they feel the same?

I read with envy and despair.  A moment of pleasure means more to them than coping with hardship. They would totally eat the first marshmallow in the marshmallow challenge.

So, no amount of dead is too much for them. Some were quoted as how much this has been ‘overblown’. Did they see any fucking news for the last few months? Overblown?

Under-counted is the reality – but hey, whatever you need to tell yourself! Just stay the hell away from me and my family and friends. Cool? Cool.

The commune/cult I was in was fond of talking about Earth changes. They weren’t the prognosticator of such views/predictions, but they championed them. I see how they were on the right path in that instance. Even a broken clock is right twice a day…

The Earth has been ravaged by the worst among us – for years – and we’re finally paying the price.

I have been complicit too. I like my car. I like the open road, but not the pollution.

I don’t know what can be done about it. I weep for the Earth.  A dear friend of mine says she weeps because “we could have made the Earth a paradise”. That makes me weep too.

This year is barely half over and it has sucked like few other years have sucked in living memory.

I love my friends and I am grateful for the chance to try to help. Emphasis on “try”.  I have been selfish too. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had been one of those born with others as my raison d’être, but I’m trying – and I applaud all others who have that as part of their being.

I cannot abide what is happening in the country I love – so I rise.

I will be named among those who sought to stop the kleptocracy and cons, the users and abusers.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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