Have A Fabulous Halloween

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

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

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

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

Scarecrow

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

Photo credit: Jerri Higgins
Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

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

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Photo credit: Jerri Higgins
Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

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

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

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

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

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

Season’s Greetings

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

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

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

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Pressed autumn maple leaves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birthday Wishes

Cinderellacakecandles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Fair Days

Our fall harvest festival, The Franklin County Agricultural Fair, is here again.  I had wanted to enter some photography in their annual contest this year, but I always miss the deadline.  I also think there’s an entry fee, but I’m sure it’s not that much.

A dear friend gave me entrance tickets, and I’ll bring a sandwich, and my water canteen with me.  I don’t need to spend money on any attractions or food.  Just seeing so many people I know, and all the fair exhibits, is interesting enough for an afternoon.  It’s only a mile away from where I live, so I can even walk there.  Having no money doesn’t equal having no fun!

I look forward to seeing all the cows, sheep, goats, chicks, and ducks, and geese… and the surrey with the fringe on top!  Oh, sorry, I was in Oklahoma for a minute.  Maybe I’ll even find my very own Curly McLain there!  I played Ado Annie Carnes in The Country Players‘ 2008 production, and she is a far more interesting character than Laurey Williams is, even though Laurey is one of the main characters.  Ado Annie is the comic relief minor character, and it was so much fun to play that role.  As long as I don’t meet a Jud Fry at the fair, it’ll be a good day.  (I just realized I starting reading the words as I typed them in a mid-western accent.)

Maybe I’ll go around the fair using my Oklahoma accent and then switch to the English Country dialect I used for the Mutton & Mead Medieval Festival!  Well, the skies aren’t looking too friendly just now, so I better git while the gittin’s good!  Cheers!

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

2011 Christmas Day

It was such a lovely morning.  My son gave me a beautiful sweater, and he liked the few gifts I got him as well.  He really enjoyed his stuffed stocking, and it makes me so happy to see his happiness.  That’s the best aspect of parenting.  I don’t care how old your child/ren is/are: wanting for, and taking pleasure in, their happiness, and success, is paramount.

We had a scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast, and then we made our Gingerbread house.  We don’t have a good track record at that activity.  We’ve only made two of them before, both of which came out awful.  We didn’t name the first one, but we dubbed the second one: “Sucky, the Gingerbread House”, and this one my son named: “Mediocre, the Gingerbread House”.  We did have a lot of fun making it, and maybe any future attempts will give better results.

My son’s feeling mostly himself again, although he still has a cough, and he told me he woke up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night so he left his room and slept on the couch, where I found him this morning.

He left a little while ago to hang out with friends, and while I want him to stay well, it was really nice to have him home and wanting my help and company for the last few days.

Merry Christmas every one!

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

Festive Photos

I’m not sure if I wish I were a better decorator, or more into decorating, or if I wish I simply enjoyed the efforts of my friends and others, and leave it at that.  Decking the halls (any halls, in any season) is not my forte.  It never has been, and more than likely, never will be.  It’s so lovely when a home is made beautiful, and I can appreciate it, but I’m more of a minimalist.  That probably stems from having moved so often rather than any true life philosophy.

I know this looks like a sailor hat, but it’s really a Santa/Elf cap.  I didn’t realize how far back it had slid!

I like how my shaky low-light exposure picture-taking caused the lights to look like Christmas bells!  I should pretend that I meant to take the picture that way, but it would come back to me somehow.  I’d get asked to create more pictures like that, and never be able to replicate it! 😉

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

Trimmed Tree Pictorial Tale

It felt very odd to not decorate my Christmas tree with my son, but I didn’t want to leave it bare for two weeks.  I decided to put the tree in the corner by my bookcases, and I’m enjoying having one this year, even though I think I’m a bit allergic to it.

My lack of skill with a camera made this a kind of cool picture where the light trails remind me of Santa’s reindeer, flying through the air:

Christmas trees look so much better in the dark!

When I was four or five, until I was nine or so, I’d shimmy under the Christmas tree every year, looking up through the branches with un-focused eyes until the lights resembled something like this:

Almost every ornament holds a special memory, or marks stages of my adult life.  My first serious boyfriend and I bought frosted glass bulbs for our first Christmas together.  He got half of them when we broke up seven years later.  I doubt he kept his, but I’m glad I still have mine.

My son made a few ornaments during his grammar school years that bring back those Christmases to me when I hang them up.  A hardened dough, glazed, and painted bone he made in his sixth grade class, (the year my mother got a beagle from the animal shelter, and the dog was on my son’s mind when he created the ornament), and a variety of others from my son’s first Christmas, to this year’s ornament that the folks at the tree farm gave to everyone buying a tree, commemorating the volunteers who helped with clean up and salvage after Hurricane Irene’s flood devastation this past August.

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

Too Young To Trick-or-Treat On My Own

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 that night, which was one of my favorite dishes my mom made, but there would be no seconds that night.  I wanted to get out there and trick-or-treat until my pillowcase was filled to the brim with candy!  I never stopped to think how heavy it would be to actually fill a pillowcase full of candy.  Back then, there were no ‘fun-sized’ candy bars, only full-sized bars, but people often gave things like small boxes of raisins, or popcorn balls, or apples.  My mom would usually throw out anything that wasn’t store-bought, so I had to beg her let me keep a candied-apple one year, and she finally acquiesced after I badgered her so much that she told me it would serve me right if I found a razor-blade in the apple.  I also think I lied and told her I knew who it was who gave me the apple, so she could have them arrested if I died.

All week before Hallowe’en I walked home from school singing the Five Little Pumpkins song, and felt a chill up my spine when I sang, “Oo, ooh went the wind, and out went the light…!”  I would pull off any leaves still clinging to their branches that I could reach on my way home, as though that would hasten the arrival of the much-anticipated day.

My older sisters and brothers always ended up with more candy than I, or my younger brother ever got, and I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get as much candy as them.

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

Hallowe’en Decorating

I don’t think I put any effort into Hallowe’en last year; I wasn’t as motivated for whatever reason.  I didn’t remember how many cool decorations I have (mostly eerie candle holders), but even looking through my old costumes has been so much fun this year.  I forgot that I had picked up old clothes for a straw-man two years ago (or woman, or alien…), but it’s been raining off and on for the past week so I’m not going to gather leaves to stuff the outfit, or buy expensive straw.  I’m irritated when I see corn stalks selling for ridiculous prices because they’re ubiquitous around here.  I’ll go pick my own.  I was growing corn every year, and then using the stalks to decorate, but my landlord won’t let me have a garden, so the next place I move, I’ll make sure gardening is allowed.

Putting up my decorations brightened my mood and I feel happy every time I look at them.  I like Hallowe’en much more than Christmas, but I enjoy having a tree to decorate and singing carols as well.  I’ve always considered Hallowe’en to be the start of the holidays with Thanksgiving on its heels, and then right into Chanukah and Christmas.

I haven’t settled on my costume for this year, and I only have a couple of days left!  I prefer cobbling a costume together to buying a commercial one, but I’ve never been patient enough, or have the skill required to make one from a pattern, or design my own.  I suppose going to thrift stores and finding elements to make a costume out of is akin to making my own, but if I don’t settle on an idea, I’ll have to go with one of my old standbys.

I thought about dressing up as Medusa because I’ve never gone as her before, but I also like the idea of Cerberus.  I won a prize for the scariest costume when I went as a zombie prom queen two years ago, but I had longer to get that together than I do for something different this year.

Regardless of what I end up going out as, I’m just glad I’m having so much fun this year!

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

Cape Cod!

I drove to Boston to take my son out for a post-birthday lunch, and gave him some other little presents, that he loved, and one of my sisters was able to be there too, and she brought him some fun gifts too, and we had a really nice day spending time together.  My son wasn’t feeling well, but he seemed to enjoy our company regardless.

After the visit with him I drove to stay with a friend at her cottage in Eastham, MA, at the Cape.  It was a gorgeous warm and muggy day after the torrential rains we’d had the night before and through the early morning.

My friend’s place is right next to the ocean and is a lovely retreat.  Another friend of hers is there for the weekend too, and we had a great night talking and laughing, eating pizza and having a beer while we watched a beautiful sunset from her deck.  There is another cottage in front of hers that partially blocks the ocean view, but you can see enough to enjoy.

Today started out rainy and chilly, so I headed out earlier than I might have if it had been sunny when I woke up. 

I’m going to spend some time with one of my brothers in Hyannis before I head back home.  I stopped at a gas station and asked the totally cute attendant if he knew of a place I could get coffee that also had wi-fi.  He directed me to, The Hot Chocolate Sparrow, where I am posting this from, an off-the-main-drag, quirky and hip coffee and chocolate shop that also serves sandwiches, pastries, and other food and beverages, as well as a few ‘gift shop’ type items, like greeting cards and some locally made goods.

When I first arrived it was quite busy but it’s slowed down significantly since I got here about forty-five minutes ago.  My egg and cheese sandwich was one of the best I’ve ever eaten – and I’ve been hungry before and had such food – so it wasn’t just my hunger that made it taste so good!  Their coffee is sensational, and I just might have to purchase some chocolate on the way out…

The sun came out, and I can see enough blue sky to make a dress (which my Grandmother always said meant it would be a nice day) from the shop’s A-frame windows since I’ve been sitting here, so I might also go down to the shore and search for shells when I leave.

This is how the day looked once I got outside:

I could be happy living here on Cape Cod; I just have to figure out how to afford it.

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