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.

DPChallenge: Dystopia, The Musical

Set Present Time. Suburban neighborhood. Backdrop sunny, blue sky, distant hills, but a dark pall hugging charred tree tops, suggesting recent fires, and dank atmosphere.

Act I
Scene I
Chorus in black-hooded robes, heads bowed, arms folded tight to body, hum discordantly – low in front of curtain. Curtain rises on street scene: once beautiful homes graffiti-ed, broken windows, smashed bird bath, broken fountain. The chorus retreats US center, in a crescendo-ing hum, then silence as grey-ish filtered early morning light rises on a disheveled lone female quickly searching through a garbage bin on the sidewalk.
A shot is heard – the female rises erect, alert, looking around for close danger. No one appears. The woman relaxes her stance, continues her search, and finds a torn one-armed rag doll. She stares at the doll a moment, then holds it close, silently weeping as music begins. She wipes her tears as she sings:

 What have we done? What have I become? Is this reality now?
I can’t believe this awful dream, I’ve got to wake somehow.

She puts the doll in her coat pocket.

Enter two children, dirty & hungry, salvaging. They see the woman and turn back.

“No, stop! It’s ok – I won’t hurt you!” The children stop hesitantly.

“I’m looking for food too. We can look together.” They look doubtful. The woman takes the rag doll out of her pocket. “Look, you can have this, if you want it?” She holds out the doll to them.
The boy steps in front of his sister, stopping her from going closer.
“I know you don’t trust me, but I’m really not going to hurt you, or take anything from you. I’d just like to help – and have some company.”

The boy relaxes and lets his sister take the doll.
“If we stick together, we can try to help each other, alright?”
The children nod in expressionless agreement.
“Are your parents alive?” The children look down, unanswering.
“Oh, you don’t know? I’m sorry.” The woman looks toward a fenced compound on a near hill. “Sometimes the Citadel cooks throw out scraps or bones, but you’ve got to get there early and be fast to get anything. Do you want to come with me?”
The children look hungry, but doubtful. “You don’t have to go near, you can wait by the trees, and I’ll try to get what I can – if there is anything today.”
The children follow the woman off SL.

Scene II

The woman and children enter in front of the curtain, SR, through a line of trees.
“You wait here. Don’t eat the mushrooms, they’re poisonous.” The woman points to mushrooms growing around and on the trees. “And if you see anyone, pick some and pretend you’re going to eat them, but don’t really put them in your mouth. The juice can make you very sick, especially when you haven’t eaten anything else. They’ll think you’re stupid and won’t bother you because they think you’ll die soon anyway.”

The choir chants low ominous sounds, becoming louder as the curtain opens to reveal barbed wire fencing with a metal prison-door like gate, and security cameras facing all directions. Choir falls silent.

The woman walks up where a window is seen from the fence, her face obscured by a tattered scarf. She searches the ground for scraps and finds none. As she waits, others begin gathering. The woman stands more erect, but does not look at anyone. A figure appears in the window looking out at the gathering crowd, and closes the curtain. Some soft cries and groans are heard among the crowd, the signal that no food will be thrown today. They begin shuffling off stage L&R. The woman and three men remain in hopeful expectancy. One man puts his hands on the fence as the others are too late to warn him. The shock jolts him, and he cries out from the powerful surge.

The window curtain opens slightly, and the figure in the window looks at the remaining few. Two large meaty bones are thrown out over the fence. The woman has drawn a knife and readies for a fight. Choir takes up chant, pantomiming the actors with voice and action in their group. DS man draws a knife and the woman lunges, slashing his arm. He retaliates, narrowly missing her shoulder as the woman ducks and slashes again, missing his leg. US man has grabbed a bone and the woman lunges at her foe’s face with her knife, meeting his shin with her foot, stomping down. Choir finishes tones in triumphant harmony, reforms original stance.

The woman grabs the remaining bone and runs, the man limping after her in pursuit. The choir takes up a crescendo-ing chant for the chase. As the woman nears the line of trees, the man catches her shoulder, but the children rush out screaming and running toward them, the woman using the moment to plunge her knife in through his ribs and twists it in deep. He falls dead. The choir ceases their chanting through rushing expelled air.

Act II
Scene I
Curtain opens on the woman and children sitting around a fire where a pot containing the meaty bone and gathered roots has cooked. They share one cup, sipping the broth. The woman watches the area for intruders, but none come.
The woman speaks: “When I was your age, my parent’s left my sister and me in the care of the Citadel home while they went to look for work – before the Citadel fell to Bolinger. They never returned, and my sister and I tried to find them when I was old enough to travel longer distances on our own. She knew about wild plants – what could be eaten, or used for medicine. Bolinger’s guards found us. My sister died defending me. I had fainted and they left me alone in the woods. I came to next to my sister’s body, and I cried through the night. No one came to help, and I had nothing to bury her with, so I covered her with nettles, leaves, and branches. I wandered through the woods hoping I’d find some help, and came across a family that let me travel with them, probably because I was still young enough that I wasn’t a threat, and acted as a look out for them when they hunted or stole food and things they needed. I learned to steal too, but I never got used to it, and I finally found work washing clothes for food and shelter at the Citadel. I spoke up to Bolinger’s men mistreating an older woman, and was beat and thrown out. I’ve been on my own ever since. I’d like to know what happened to you, if you’re willing to tell me?”

The boy looks at his sister, and back at the woman, and speaks: “We woke up one day last week and our parents were gone, and they haven’t come back”.
“Did you live far from where I first saw you?”
“No, we left our camp trying to find something to eat – and then we met you…”
“It’s OK. I know what it’s like being alone and lost – inside and out.” The woman smiles, and gestures toward his sister. “Does your sister talk?”
“Yes, but not since our mother and father left.”
“I’m sorry. I hope they find you again soon. We can stick together until then.”
“I’d like that.” The boy looks at his sister who has moved closer to him, and he says – “We’d like that.”
“We need to find somewhere to sleep tonight, and maybe I’ll find somewhere to work for food tomorrow.”
“I can work too”, the boy says.
“I think your work is taking care of your sister. It looks like you both could use a washing, so we’ll go to the falls. Have you been?”
“No. My father said to stay away because it’s too dangerous. The rocks are slippery and you could fall and die on the jagged rocks under the falls, and there are bad people who live there that like to eat children.”
“It’s trolls who like to eat children, and they don’t live at the Falls. They live in fairy tales and made up stories. Your father was right that the rocks are slippery, and there are jagged rocks in the water below, but that’s where the sweetest fish are too – when there are any to find.”

As the woman and children walk through the woods, the chorus begins a low hum and appear in staggered relief in the woods. They cease humming as forest dwellers who have been watching the woman and children’s progress step out to confront them.
A man speaks: “Where do you think you’re going?”
The woman says: “We mean you no harm. I am bringing my children to safe sleep for the night, and then we’re on our way out of these woods.”
“There is payment required for safe passage.”
“But we have no coin or goods to offer.”
“Then you’ll turn back the way you came, and hurry through, or you may not make it out at all.”
The girl holds out the rag doll which the man takes and rips off the other arm, throwing the doll roughly back at the girl.  The men laugh coarsely.
“That was all we possessed.” The woman picks up the doll putting it in her pocket, takes the girl and boy by the hand and turns back the way they came.  She speaks quietly and urgently to the children: “Don’t look back, and walk quickly. They’ll leave us alone if we don’t stop.”

Scene II
The sound of a waterfall is heard as the woman and children walk in front of curtain. Two of the forest-dweller men trail them at a distance. The woman turns to pick up the girl to quicken their pace, and glimpses one of the men. She pretends not to notice as the curtain rises revealing jagged looking rocks and cascading water. The choir appears on an US riser, intoning rising cacophonous sounds as the men move in for the kill. The woman lifts the girl to a higher rock, telling the boy: “Take your sister over these rocks staying as far from the water as you can. You can make it, but you must not stop, no matter what. There is a Citadel corn field down below that you can hide in and wait for me. Now go!”
As the children disappear over the ridge, the woman takes the opposite, more treacherous path by the water, slipping toward the edge of the falls, but finding crevices for her hands and feet as she goes. She finds the opening she once knew under the falls which the men do not see, and comes out onto the opposite side, stepping out onto a rock where the men will see her. She mimes difficulty ascending as the men leer at her and begin climbing to reach her. One of the men grabs hold of a rock protruding from the Falls, assuming that was the woman’s path, and loses his footing, falling to his death on the rocks below. The other man looks for an alternate route, and slips onto a jagged rock, lying there in obvious pain as the woman expertly climbs her way over the outcrop of rock and disappears over the other side. The choir has been rising and falling throughout, emphasizing the man’s demise, and the woman’s triumph. Close curtain.

Scene III
The children huddle at the edge of the cornfield below the stage, anticipating the woman’s arrival. Unfamiliar sounds, an owl hoot, or coyote howl, are heard in the distance, causing fearful reactions as they wait. The woman, scratched and hurt, limps toward the cornfield in front of the curtain, checking around her as she goes. As she comes offstage toward the cornfield, she spots the children and reunites.
“Are you alright?”

The children nod yes, but the woman sees a gash on the boy’s arm. “We’ll have to get that cleaned out so you don’t get infected. We can’t stay here because Bolinger’s guards will soon pass by, if they haven’t already. Did you see anyone since you’ve been here?”
“No one has gone by since we got here. I was afraid you wouldn’t find us.”
“I was afraid too, but we’re OK now.  We can rest for the night in Fairwoods – it’s near the brook where we can wash up, and if my old mistress is in her cottage, we might have something hot to eat.”

Exit SL

Scene IV

The woman and children are seated DS, the wooded area behind them, their faces are clean, and they are eating stew from an old chipped porcelain bowl.

“You’ll clean the bowl in the brook when you’re finished.  I’m going to try to catch some fish and we’ll leave it at my old mistresses door for feeding us such good rabbit stew.”  As the woman walks toward the brook the Chorus enters with low, ominous chants.  A lightning storm stirs up and thunder crashes as the Chorus chants the louder, urgent cacophonous tones as a bruised and limping man brandishing a machete lunges toward the woman from SR.  The boy sees the man and picks up a large rock, coming DSR, throwing it and connecting with the man’s head, just as the man has slashed the woman’s shoulder and arm with the machete.  She cries out, badly hurt. The man has fallen, unconscious.  The girl cowers US with the doll in her hands as the boy does what he can to help the woman USC and helps her sit.  He takes the shirt off the man and tries to staunch the woman’s wounds, but the woman is fading.

“Go and tell my old mistress – that I am done for, and you will work – for her – if she can take you.  Help – your – sister.”  The woman dies.  The girl cries and hugs the woman, and keeps crying as her brother puts his arm around her, pulling her away, and leads her off SL.  Curtain closes.

Scene V

The boy enters SR, a rough shack is USL, in a wooded area.  The boy has a large fish that hangs partially over in the chipped porcelain bowl.  He goes to the shack and knocks, but gets no reply.  After a few knocks with no response, he leaves the fish in the bowl in front of the door, and turns to leave with his sister.  A window curtain is slowly pulled aside in the shack and we see an older woman peering out at the backs of the children, and she closes the window curtain again.  The Chorus has been chanting slow, quiet, tones, and stops as the light fades on the shack and comes up diffusely focusing on the girl who has dropped her doll and stoops to pick it up.  The boy has stopped to wait for her.

The girl sings, with a quiet echo of the woman’s voice in the air:

What have we done? What have I become? Is this reality now?
I can’t believe this awful dream, I’ve got to wake somehow.

The children exit SL.

End.

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

Evolution Of A Boy

I found this letter/ode I had written to my son in a bunch of old papers I was going through to recycle today.  I wrote it when he was twelve, and pulling further and further away from me – right on schedule!  But just because biology dictates a thing so, doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrible for me…

                                 Evolution Of A Boy

When you were born I held you close, rocked you, walked you back and forth while you screamed with colic – or was it protest at being out in this cold, drafty world from the temperature controlled, fluid womb?

You stayed in a crib until you were two and a half and began crying to me of your needs in the night, or in the morning, coaxing me with “Up, Mommy? Up, Mommy – peas.  Peas, Mommy?”  How could I ignore that?  You asked so politely, so pleadingly.

As a toddler, and ever since you were born, I read to you day and night.  It became the bedtime routine: books and a back rub until you fell asleep.  Often you would play with my ear – a throw back from your nursing days – a comfort habit that never bothered me.  Whoever held you until you were four or five would have their ear manipulated by you.

Nighttime was our time.  It was sometimes the only peace in the day.  I was really present most of the time for you then, and we both knew it wouldn’t be a struggle of wills; it was a time any outside observer wouldn’t question my parenting skills.

That nighttime routine when you wanted me to lay down with you after reading and rubbing your back until you fell asleep – or nearly – lasted until you were eight or nine.  I would sing Mockingbird – replacing Papa with Mama, of course – and Lily Of The Valley, three or four times each, and sometimes you would sing along.  Then we would always play the ‘I love you more than’ game.  “More than chocolate cream pie with ice cream and marshmallows, and a ton of whipped cream” – or whatever we would dream up.  A phrase we had read: “I love you to the moon and back”, began a long tradition of sometimes jokingly arguing over who loved the other more – “I love you the most – eternity, infinity!”

The mornings nearly always had me picking you up and carrying you into the kitchen for breakfast until you were about seven years old.  It seemed to help you wake up just that little bit more.

Sometimes you would jump up into my arms for a hug and you did that until you got too heavy for me to grab you up into a hug like that.

Now you’re twelve.  You are on that precipice between knowing you are not a dependent child to knowing you are not quite grown-up either.  It can be confusing, frustrating, and scary – but exciting too.

You are, at times and often, so much more than you think you are.  You have so much to offer this suffering world.  She needs boys and men who care, as you do.  Societies may seem indifferent or hostile to boys and men who care, but that is because societies are not grown-up either.  They don’t know how to accept the whole boy or the whole man – but they are learning.  Just as I am learning to let go – but I have built a path from my heart to yours – and there is a path from your heart to mine too – so that we’ll always know there is a home for us, especially when you find the need, or just to be reassured that it’s there.

I love you my dear child.

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

Kit-Cat Klock

kit-cat klock
Kit-Cat Klock (Photo credit: World of Oddy)

KitCat Clock

I bought a Kit-Cat Klock for my son one Christmas, nearly ten years ago now.  He had it hung up in his room, and when we moved, I was happy to see that he put it back up on his wall.  I really like the way its eyes and tail move back and forth, but it’s not the most accurate time piece.  This one is battery operated, but I think the original Kit-Cat Klock was electric.

When my son went to college, the clock remained here, even though I suggested taking it as a memento of home.  I removed the battery and put it with his things that I’m keeping in case he wants it in the future, which I realize isn’t likely, but you never know.  If he ever has kids they might enjoy stuff that was once their Dad’s, or at least having a physical connection from the past to the present.

I was cleaning the other day and saw the clock and decided to dust it off, put a battery in, and stick it up on the wall.  I forgot how much pleasure I take in simple things, and I’m so glad I decided to claim it, and went through the trouble to put it up.

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

Air Waves

I turn on my hometown radio station almost every morning.  I feel comforted hearing the DJ’s voice – a guy who’s been on that station since I was a teenager and the only way to hear the latest songs back then, besides going to see bands, or buying random CD’s to try out, was to listen to the radio.

The station had been family owned since its inception, but was sold, or became managed, by one of the larger market outfits a decade ago, when they tried to make the format more hip by adding a morning talk component with one of the DJs who’s still there, and a guy who did a regular sports spot and was a substitute DJ.  The new format was a clumsy intrusion, and didn’t change their listener numbers.  The format changed back over to the main DJ within a year, I think.  I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

I’m glad the station is still there.  I don’t have cable, or get any stations on my television, so I turn to the radio and internet for my news.

This morning I turned on the radio and was transported back to the days of getting my son ready for school, the days before I woke in terrible pain every day, the days that I still wouldn’t trade for today unless I could be a different person.  Nostalgia colors the past in pastels so often.  But my life was harsh in other ways.  I was severely depressed, single parenting, in poverty, and don’t know how I got through, but I’m grateful because now is better, even if still somewhat desolate.  Back then I was assured that life would get better, I just didn’t know it would take ten years…

Radio is quaint now with our smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices streaming music and video, our mp3 players shutting us out from collective experience.  I don’t have a smart phone and I don’t think I want one.  I think there are going to be a lot of neck problems in a few years, and I know firsthand how youth’s disregard exacts payment later.  I asked my doctor what causes our bodies to break down over such a short lifespan and her answer was: “Walking upright”.

The DJ is bidding his listening audience a good day as his shift ends and signals the shrinking time I have left to get out the door myself.  I realize that tuning into this station most mornings isn’t an unconscious habit, but part of my ancestral drive for continuity – for being part of a collective, even if the mode seems trivial.  It’s this DJ, this radio station, that has barely changed from my youth throughout my adult years.  I moved from Maine to California, and finally ended up back where I started, and that station remained mostly as is while much around me has changed, indeed, while I’ve changed too.

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

What A Day, December 21, 2012

I picked my son up from Boston yesterday for our family Christmas gathering this weekend, and experienced torrential rain and blustering wind most of the way down.  Being December 21st, with all the hype of impending apocalypse, it was somewhat unnerving to drive through the deluge, but if the end were near, what better way to spend it than trying to get to my child?

When I visited my father in Florida many years ago, there were several days of intense downpours that I was caught in while driving, once so heavy that I had to pull over and wait for the storm to pass.  Yesterday reminded me of driving in Florida except I only considered pulling over once, and then the rain let up enough that I didn’t have to.  I’m sure people thought I was crazy as I passed them, but I could see well enough, and never got near hydroplaning speeds.  I did hit a patch of water on an overpass that made me veer to the left, but I was lucky to not be with other traffic then.

Just as I hit the four lane section of Route 2 outside of Boston, the wind died down, the rain subsided, the sun shone through patches of separating cloud cover, and I saw a northerly rainbow.  Coming into Boston proper, the sun was out in earnest, with only cumulus clouds floating in scattered clumps, as though the fearsome tempest had never occurred.

After getting my son, who was in a happier mood than when I last saw him, I had him drive back.  There was heavy traffic leaving the city, and Route 2 was bumper to bumper cars until we passed Concord.  As we headed into Western MA, the cloud cover grew steadily, and the rain picked up once more.  We didn’t experience any more downpours, but the steady rain and moisture kicked up from car tires, combined with the growing dark, made for a dismal drive home.  We rewarded ourselves with dinner out once we got back to town, and my son was vivacious and chatty the whole time, creating a stellar end to my day.

I realized that my son’s moodiness during the Thanksgiving break had far more to do with the slump he was in than not wanting my company.  It’s important for me to remember that I’m his safety in the sense that he’s completely himself when he’s around me, so if he’s non-communicative, it’s about him, not me.  My job is to love and accept him, regardless of anything else, which I’ve always done – even if I grumble about his attitude at times.  I have more information than I had before, and now I’ll have better suggestions next time I hear or see his discontent.

For now, I’m grateful he’s with me over the holiday, and I’m glad we’re all still here – even though there wasn’t any apocalyptic danger associated with yesterday’s date.

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

Holiday Events

The town next to me has a theater built in the late 1870s.  It has seen several revivals of sorts throughout the years, its most infamous use being when the Renaissance Community – the commune/cult I grew up in – owned it.  I spent many days and nights in that theater as a teenager, so it has a difficult history for me, but that history has become less overwhelming since 2000 when I auditioned for my first play at what is now the Shea Theater.  Its renovation removed the gaudiness that Michael Rapunzel (née, Metalica) imposed on the once beautiful theater, but the balcony was removed, leaving only a light and sound booth for shows, and tiered rows of seats down to the ground floor of the theater.

The other night, several community groups helped present a large screen showing of: It’s A Wonderful Life, for free, but people were encouraged to bring canned goods or monetary donations for our regional food bank and local food pantries.

I wasn’t going to go, but I wasn’t born when that movie was first shown in theaters, so I thought it would be fun to see on a big screen, even though I suspected I’d be in a largely empty theater.  Boy was I wrong!  The theater was packed and there were many families in attendance.  It was a festive experience to see the film with all those people, some seeing it for the first time, and probably plenty for the last as well.  I mean that last part to convey that it’s an outdated movie whose quaint filming and content don’t satisfy a movie going public in the way it might have when it was first released.

After the show, the crowd was told that the pub across the street was serving ‘flaming rum punch’, a drink that Clarence, the angel (second class), tries to order at Martini’s in the alternate world he’s escorting George Bailey through.  I decided to go over, and again, thought I’d be among very few, but the pub was crowded, with more filing in after me, and many there had just come from seeing the film.  It was a very jovial crowd, and it felt somewhat surreal, like we were all characters from the story somehow. I half expected a saxophone rendition of Auld Lang Syne to play over the pub’s stereo.

The rum punch was just spiced cider with rum, but it was warm and soothing on a cold, dreary night.  The people sitting next to me at the bar started chatting with me, and I asked them if they had ever seen the movie before, and they hadn’t.  They said they liked it, and thought it was a great idea to offer, and hoped there would be more community events like that.  A young woman related that she had always wanted to see the film, but her mother hated it, saying it was too depressing, and turned it off any time it was on television, so the woman just assumed she’d hate it too.  She was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more uplifting than depressing, even if set during the Great Depression and World War II.

It was a lovely oasis in a difficult time, not only for recent tragedies, but for this dark time of year that starts my yearly descent.  I hope this will be the year I fall no further.

Enjoy each other, tell those who matter that you love them, tell strangers you’re glad to meet them, be helpful, and kind, and you may receive no heavenly reward, but you will uplift humanity, and I think we can all use more gladness, even if momentary.   Peace.

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

Powerless

Will gun control help?  The argument goes that law-abiding citizens don’t commit crimes, criminals do, or the mentally ill do.  A twenty year-old who shot and killed twenty-seven people, twenty of whom were grammar students is also dead, so there’s no further discovery into his motives, his thoughts, his state of mind.  It should be obvious, I know: he was mentally disturbed.  He lacked empathy, he wasn’t rational – because who could shoot and kill anyone without being insane if you’re not on a battlefield or otherwise defending yourself?

But, what happened to him?  What did he live with that made him deliberately kill children?

There are many who disagree with me, but I think we need more restrictive gun laws including the types of guns citizens have access to, the types of ammunition, and yearly mental-health check-ups of registered gun owners.  That won’t stop the criminals, but it might limit some of the guns, or some types of ammunition.  I think citizens need the 2nd Amendment because a well-regulated militia is necessary for the people to defend themselves against enemies foreign and domestic, and we’re at a point in our history where we already live in a de facto police state as we’ve seen the police grow more militarized, and we’ve seen how police in America uphold corporate and government interests above the citizenry’s interest.

I’m brokenhearted for the families who lost a child, or children, today, and in my powerlessness, all I can ask is ‘why’, and ‘what can we do to lessen the chances of repetition’?

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

My Grandfather’s Birthday

Today my maternal Grandfather would have been 129.  He died in the Spring of his 102nd year.  My mother’s side of the family enjoys longevity, my father’s side, not so much.  My mother’s line comes from hearty French-Canadian farming family stock, and my father’s came from Scots-Irish and English fighting family lineage.  My father’s side carried the banner of anger and scrappiness, while my mother’s touted ‘get along and go along’.   My father’s ancestors were outwardly ill-fitted to society, while my mother’s forebears had more decorum, but certainly had their fair share of dirty laundry, so to speak.

I loved my maternal Grandfather, but never really knew or cared for my father’s father.  I remember him being a somewhat grumpy old man with a mean little Chihuahua named, Tippy, who would growl at you if it wasn’t trying to hump you.  That dog summed up my father’s side of the family to me.  My uncle, Chuck, was a burly man, like my father, whom I barely recall, but I do remember his wife, my Aunt Shirley, who was so kind, and pretty, having what my mother called ‘spanking blue eyes’.  She also had long fingernails and would chase my brothers with her hands curled, claw-like, toward them.  She was the only good thing about my Dad’s family, as far as I was concerned.  I don’t remember my Dad’s mother at all.  I think we visited with them twice, that I can remember, because they lived in another state, several hours away.

My mother’s family lived mostly nearby, which is probably why I have such a drive to stay near my siblings and mother as well.  I often think about my mother’s family in terms of how we all ‘turned out’.  My mother was the last of eleven children, all born in the depression era, five boys and six girls.  My mother was the surprise baby, born after my Grandmother thought she was fertile anymore.  My mother was born into a hard-working family, my grandfather and several of his sons worked on the railroad, while several others made military careers.  The women in the family mostly ran their families, and a few held outside jobs, or pursued passions other than domestic concerns, but they all fared well, mostly.

My mother is the only child whose marriage ended in divorce, the only child who married an unpredictable, angry man, and the only child, that we know of, whose first child was the outcome of a rape, that she was nearly disowned for keeping after being sent to a home for unwed mothers with the express purpose of giving up her child upon birth.  My mother stayed with one of her older sisters for a while, and her parents finally relented and let her go home with my eldest brother.  She flailed for some time, but found work, and an apartment, and shortly after met my father.  He was in the navy, handsome, and fresh out of a hellacious home life, and a disastrous first marriage.

I saw Back To The Future, when it first came out, and I remember thinking that my life would have been so much better if my mother had made a better choice to begin with.  Of course, were that the case, I likely wouldn’t have been born, so it was a moot point, but I would gladly not have been born to have spared my mother from my father.

My grandfather was kind to me, and used to call me ‘tiger eyes’.  He would also buy me Lucky Charms cereal, a treat my mother would never have approved of, but he also used to give me Jordan Almonds, which I hated, and still do.  I enjoyed visits from my Grandpa Brousseau, and vaguely remember my Grandma Brousseau, who died when I was just three.  It’s odd that I still feel connected to her even though I never really knew her.  I suppose it’s a testament to how much my grandfather meant to me that my grandmother means just as much.  My grandfather was kind to me, but he was also strict.  One of the first things he’d demand upon seeing us was to show him our fingernails.  It was important to him that we keep our hands and fingernails clean.  I guess that was his determination of good breeding.  Thankfully, we usually had enough warning of his visits to clean our fingernails before he arrived.

I remember visiting my grandfather in the last few years of his life, and he said how tired he was.  He could barely hear anymore, and was fairly blind, losing his two favorite pastimes: listening to baseball games on the radio, and reading the newspaper.  He said he didn’t know why he kept waking up every day, and that was one of the saddest things to hear.

It’s hard to see someone you remember as robust seeming so frail and lackluster.  During my last visit, when I was in my twenties, he asked me to come sit next to him on his bed, and then he asked me to comb his hair.  I wish I had the understanding that I do now.  I was so embarrassed because it seemed like such a silly request to me then.  I’d give anything to go back with the understanding I have now and comb his hair – and he still had a fair amount of hair even at a hundred.  I recognize his request as a way to connect with me, but I was too self-conscious then.  It wasn’t like when I was eight and would have combed his hair gleefully.  I can’t get that time back, and all I hope is that my grandfather’s spirit knows that I understand now, and that I’m sorry I was so awkward then that he took the comb out of my hand and said ‘never mind’.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa.  I love you, wherever you are.

Here’s a video link to a short video shot by one of my cousins when my Grandpa Brousseau was 101: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV-gmdb-w3A

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

Streetcar Dreams

I brought a new character into the play, in my dream, last night – a child.  In the beginning of the dream, the child wasn’t known to me, but later she was a girl I have worked with on a couple of other shows.  She threw up in the rehearsal space/apartment the cast was staying at, and she threw up on the stage.  No one was cleaning it up, and I couldn’t find anything to mop it up myself.  I was so anxious about not stepping in it, and of getting it cleaned up before we would be performing that evening.

An old boyfriend of mine was outside in a parking lot, perhaps of the theater we were bringing the show to.  He was taller and broader than I remembered him, and was aged several years, as he would be, and I thought, ‘oh, maybe we’ll get back together!’, but when I said hello to him, and asked about his life, he looked somewhat disdainfully at me and told me he’s married, and works for himself.

Houses represent the self, so perhaps this show is helping my ‘inner child’ purge the emotional vestiges from my young life, or perhaps the opposite is true and I need to purge Blanche’s character out of me.  No matter what the similarities are, we are not the same.  I have options, and I am availing myself of those options.

This has been a lonely experience, but also a gratifying one in learning the lines, and being present to the other actors as best I can, bringing an excellent production to the community.  We have two more shows before the run is through, and I am looking forward to re-organizing my life once the play closes.

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

First Show Weekend Done

The intensity of playing Blanche DuBois is slowly receding, but we have a pick-up rehearsal on Thursday, and then the last shows over next weekend.  I’ve been sad that we’ve had a sparse audience, but happy that we’ve got a great show – well worth the $12 dollar ticket price.

It’s been an interesting journey, and I have much more confidence that I can tackle most anything now.  I understand Blanche the way I was always going to understand her, but more deeply now.  She has much more depth, and even strength, than I’ve heard most people attribute to her, but Blanche is doomed, no matter what.

My dreams keep writing Blanche’s character differently.  She has more to say, and isn’t alright with her fate as written.  That’s good news, isn’t it?  My psyche isn’t willing to resign her to what’s been told.  In my mind, she heals in the institution.  Her psychotic break isn’t permanent.  The beauty of that ending is that I know it happens.  People go through horrific things and continue on, relatively intact.

I gave my best performances, and will continue to.  I have enjoyed evolving through each night.  I find a different nuance to Blanche’s character, or a better way to interact with the other characters.  Theater is beautiful because unlike life, you get to do the same thing over and over, and maybe not create different results, but bring something more to each performance.

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

Halloween Is Here Again, DPChallenge, I Wish I Were

I wish I were a child again – experiencing the night as I did all those years ago, the anticipation and fun.

I wish I were a young mother again – getting my son ready for Halloween night, and how much fun it was to roam the neighborhood with other moms and their children, witnessing the excitement, and helping create the sense of magic about to happen.

Spooky Halloween everyone! I hope you enjoy the day, and especially the night! Have fun and be safe. Cheers!

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

Abstractly Distracted

On Hallowe’en, when I was around five or six (maybe even the same year I split my head open), my older siblings were allowed to leave on their own to go trick-or-treating, but I had to stay home until I finished my supper, and wait for my mom to get my little brother in his costume.

I remember thinking how completely unfair it was that I had to wait for my baby brother, and be treated ‘like a baby’, when my next oldest sister was only two years older than me, and she got to go out with my other sister and brothers.  After enough complaints, my mother warned me that she could leave me home while she brought my brother around if I kept harassing her.  I don’t think I uttered a word after that until we finally went out into the chilly night.

We had split-pea soup…

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Scarecrow’s Night

The pumpkin was now a Jack-O’Lantern lighting up the night, a visage peering from the porch to give the kids a fright.  A scarecrow without a head sat listlessly nearby, he had no eyes to see with, so couldn’t even cry.

Little Gretel Gardner saw what needed to be done; she bravely picked the Jack-O’Lantern up, though it made her want to run.  She set it down upon the neck of the body filled with leaves, and then stood back, no longer afraid, and feeling very pleased.

She thought she saw the scarecrow wink, and release a happy sigh, but knew, of course, it couldn’t be, it was just the breeze passing by.

Gretel went upon her way – she didn’t see the scarecrow turn – and didn’t hear him say, “I wish she wouldn’t go, for now I want to play!”  The scarecrow did his best to rise upon his shaky legs, but found he wobbled much too much, so stayed upon his ledge.

Oh, but the sights he saw that night!  A skeleton, a witch, a vampire, and a ghost – there was even an angel walking with a heavenly host.  Each came by and admired him, and he felt flushed with pride, but a terrible monster frightened him – even worse than the monster’s bride.

The night grew late, the pageant thinned, and the Jack-O’Lantern’s candle began to dim. The scarecrow knew that his time would soon come to a close, and he sighed again, as a tear dripped into his nose.  It was a sad little sigh, a lonely sigh, but just before the end of his light, he saw one last wondrous sight.

Little Gretel Gardner had slipped out from her bed, with a thought to bring the scarecrow a pillow for his head.  She felt sad to see how dim his glow, and said how she would miss him so – then kissed his cheek and hugged him tight, and told him how glad he had made her, this very scary night.

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

Wild Wind

The wind has been stirred up all day.  Tonight’s temperature is milder than this morning’s was, even though the wind never let up today.  Today started with yesterday in its mood although not composition.  It was a summer-like day yesterday, temperatures in the mid-seventies, barely any wind, and mild until after I got home around 11pm.

I had a late rehearsal for A Streetcar Named Desire, last night, and wasn’t feeling well when I got home, but attributed that to the local Pumpkin Festival’s Thai food vendor’s fare I had earlier in the evening.  I woke up this morning still feeling badly, so I laid low except to retrieve some items from my car, which is when I noticed how cold it had become overnight, with the wind punctuating that discovery.  I felt better as the day wore on, and studied some of my lines, and eventually got myself together to make band practice in the later afternoon.

The ride to my band mate’s house involved several enchanting moments of swirling autumn leaf showers, and a visual feast of bright and muted colors as I passed russet colored oak leaved trees, red, orange and yellow-leaved maples, yellow-leaved birches, brilliantly red-leaved sumacs, and other dazzling autumn colors in the many shrubs and vines I passed on my way.

It was fully dark outside by the time practice was over, but the wind had persisted and rushed around me as I made my way to my car.  The quarter moon hung low and deeply yellow-orange in the starlit sky, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to have entered another dimension.  (It would have been horrifying if I’d entered another dimension, just not surprising.)

I lingered at every stop sign on the way home tonight to hear the wind while I watched the moon.  I was reminded of several nights when my son was three or four and we lived in South Portland, Maine, and I would sit in my wicker rocking chair gazing up at the moon, while listening to the night wind.  I think those moments reside more potently in my memory because of how difficult my every day life was back then.

Tonight, however, was a night of power.  This month represents possibility to me, even though its natural significance relates diminished, rather than increased, potential.  Nothing new can start without shedding the old, and if the ancient religions had any validity, this time of year heralds the meeting of the seen and unseen worlds more strongly than at any other time of the year.

At the very least, I felt somewhat transported by the whispering winds’ incantations as I sat entranced in the glow of a bright and low quarter moon.

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

September 26th, 2012

Happy Birthday to my beautiful son.  He is the best thing I have ever done, although I take no credit for his amazing capacities and talents.  He is his own person; I just ate well while he was growing inside me, and then made sure I fed him good food, gave him as many opportunities as I could afford, or could imagine, and taught him to appreciate reading, which he now loves.  His cognitive intelligence exceeded mine when he was about twelve, but my emotional intelligence stills beats his – hah!

He is bound to fare better in his life than I did in mine, and that is the best a parent can ask for.  I love you, my dear boy/man.

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