Wednesday to Saturday

I’ve always liked Wednesday because of the Addams Family,

https://giphy.com/gifs/60s-1960s-the-addams-family-FYOxEpdW8K1H2/

although Thursday and Saturday are my all time favorites. Maybe I like the way Thursday looks or sounds because why Thursday? Wouldn’t Friday with its weekend association be a more likely candidate for favorite?

Saturday is a day you can like! It’s in hundreds of songs; it implies fun, adventure – ready for action – couched as it is between the end of the typical work week and the start of a new one. And let’s not forget the classic Saturday Morning Cartoons!  They’re not as great now – especially since they’re little more than a marketing tool, but they were so good in the ’60’s & ’70’s. No one has ever topped Mel Blanc for cartoon voicing, and caricature.

http://www.craveonline.com/mandatory/1047625-voice-actors-behind-many-of-your-favorite-cartoon-characters

Although Saturday is just another day for many in the service and health industries, my feelings about Saturday formed as a child, when school was the biggest responsibility I had. Even if I had homework, or chores, or later in my mid-teens and twenties, when I was a waitress (now server, of course), or a cashier, or department store clerk, Saturday still held magic.

We might leave for the weekend on Friday afternoon, but we had all day Saturday to enjoy.

Saturday is still special in our household as my S. O. has most weekends off, and we can sleep in or get up to work our agenda rather than someone else’s.

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

 

Summertime Songs

From musicals like Porgy & Bess, and Grease, to pop songs through every decade, summer songs create, or re-create feelings of freedom, ease, love – especially young love with all that angst and yearning – and even if the heat and humidity are hard to take in the moment, I look back fondly to sticky summer nights spent hanging out with my group of friends, skinny-dipping in the river, or pool-hopping around the neighborhood, with or without permission…

Songs heard in my youth stir me more deeply than newer summer-themed tunes, or even old ones newly discovered. Those tunes center me in time and place unlike most anything else in my life.

The following links worked at this posting, but you can always search the song names yourself if any links become broken.  Perhaps a few are already in your play list!

George Gershwin’s, Summertime, an aria in 1935’s, Porgy and Bess, evokes a haunting sweetness of that which is hoped for, however unattainable, for the impoverished Bess singing to her baby.

Another “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, from 1991, breathes summer’s relative freedom, and speaks to slowing down and enjoying summer’s romantic possibilities.

Eddie Cochran told us there’s no cure for the “Summertime Blues” in his 1958 rockabilly number, referring to his having to work and not getting to be with his girlfriend or friends all out having fun.

The Drifters’ trill about their relaxing seaside summer in 1964’s: Under The Boardwalk.  You can feel summer’s heat, smells, sights, and sounds, while taking a chance at falling in love near the surf, away from the boardwalk’s crowds.

1966’s, Summer in the City, by The Lovin’ Spoonful, brings you into the city’s grit and grime from the first guitar strains just as Under The Boardwalk conveys a carnival feel from the start.  And while the city heat shimmers off the asphalt, a cooler breeze and romance prevail at night.

Juxtapose that with, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry, 1970’s bubble-gum ditty, where finding a date was summer’s full-time pursuit – and dig the mutton chops, man!:

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s released several songs intoning summer’s graces and privileges for young and old alike.  Several appeared in the summer of 1972.

Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze, is more folk than pop, and makes me want to lie under my favorite maple watching the leaves sway and hush each other in the warm breezes.

Saturday in the Park, Chicago’s ode to summer, also invokes a festival atmosphere, celebrating old-time holiday conviviality with street vendors and singers.

Alice Cooper’s, School’s Outbrought harder rock and attitude to summer’s opening, and remains one of my top summer songs:

Hot Fun In the Summertime, 1969’s summer hit by Sly and The Family Stone, also speaks to freedom from school in a mellow blues style, just as memorable for its ease and friendliness as Alice Cooper’s is for its ‘screw you’ ethos.

Flash forward to 1977 and The Ramones punking out with Rockaway Beachanother of their non-stop, driving beats insistent on another popular summer pursuit, days at the beach.

I don’t think Sandy Olsson from, Grease, would have been as attracted to one of the Ramones as much as she was to Danny Zuko, because meeting him on the beach was more like a Beach Boys’ dream song than the tough guy he portrayed in front of his friends, confusing poor Sandy.  But, oh, what fun they had in those Summer Nights:

Sandy Olsson could have used Bananarama’s pop tune, Cruel Summer, to console her, but 1983 was too far in the future for the 1950’s character, and besides, it wouldn’t have been broody enough for our melancholy Sandy.  Many of us with broken hearts related to their pop ballad while we danced away our sad summer nights.

A year later, in 1984, Don Henley rocked out smoothly with
The Boys of Summer, crooning his heart out about the girl who got away – while those mean girls kept walking – pushing their Wayfarers a bit further up on their pretty little noses.

While this list isn’t in any particular order, excepting its mostly chronological look at summer songs, no list would be complete without Bryan Adams’, Summer of ’69the youth rockers ode and anthem – finding belonging, following a passion – both in love and artful expression, and the sweet remembrance of summers past.

Make sure you add your favorite summer songs and why you like them in the comments!

Cheers, happy writing, and happy Summer 2016!

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

 

Younger-er

There’s a new series on TV called, Younger, starring Sutton Foster, that is so fun.  The concept is of a newly divorced mother trying to re-enter the work force at 40, and being turned down due to her age by interviewers in their 20’s.  While ridiculous on its face, there are truths, or at least issues, I can relate to.

http://www.tvland.com/shows/younger
http://www.tvland.com/shows/younger

Not a fan of aging, or of people complaining about being old, or how old they are, and blah, blah, blah, I so relate to this character.

The ideas of youthful freedom are as tantamount as the inexperience and relative irresponsibility of being young.  So while I complain about those who complain about being old, I see the bounty of perspective.  I see how each and every day led to me to where I am, and I wouldn’t care to repeat much of that time.

I learned about betrayal, heartache, false friends, misguided trust, and self-reliance.  Being my own best friend was hard-gained, and learning that being alone was alright took several years.

It was miserable when I saw younger people see me as older.  It was truly fucking awful, but what could I do?  I couldn’t afford surgery to try to stay perpetually 20, and even if I could, why would I want to?  I was there!  So, my twenties sucked – a lot of it.  I also had a lot of fun.  My thirties came quicker than I expected, but there ya go – it happened, and so did my forties…

Acceptance is a bitch sometimes.  If I could disguise myself and be seen as young, and get a do-over, what a different time it would be.  It’s universal: the desire to be young and yet have a wise perspective.  Twenty-somethings might never feel that way, but wait until they hit forty.  The difference is like looking out, or down, from a high cliff rather than ground level.  Whether you know what to do with that vantage point is dependent on many factors, but the lucky few who understand their worth and their abilities get to make a pretty good life for themselves and their loved ones.

It’s not a magic formula, I know.  There are those who are confident and capable and life is a douche-bag to them anyway, but usually, perseverance can lead them through the rough patches.

And there will be rough patches.  I don’t care how gilded a life is, it isn’t exempt from some form of hell.  Perhaps I’d gladly exchange my hell for theirs, but hell it is.

So, unless I can radically change my life, it would be wiser for me to accept where I am.

I guess I can accept it, but I don’t approve of it.

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

Bugged Out

It sat for months, waiting to be sold.  Every time I went by I wished I could buy it, but $1500 was out of my range, even though it’s not much for a car.  I finally called to see if the price was negotiable and was told the lowest they’d let it go for was $1200, but I didn’t even have that – and even if I did – the cost to get it on the road would most likely be $1000 more.

I kept imagining myself behind the wheel, trying to remember what it was like when I rode with my sister when she had one.

This VW Bug was in great shape for being nearly forty years old, and allegedly it only had one owner, the guy’s mother, who maintained it well.

Of course he’d say that, and I hoped it was true.

After looking it over, the guy let me take it for a spin.  It was harder to drive than I imagined.  None of the pedals had padding, and my foot keep slipping as I engaged the clutch, which went way in – so different from today’s cars.  The steering wasn’t too difficult even though it wasn’t powered steering, but the fantasy I had created about how great it would be to own and drive the cute yellow Bug was bursting all over the run-down seats, a nearly rusted through floor, and lower side panel, and the flat windshield and tiny side mirrors that made me wonder how anyone ever liked driving it.

I thanked the guy for letting me take it for a ride, and told him I hoped someone would buy it, but it wouldn’t be me.

VW Bug
VW Bug

It shouldn’t have surprised me how the idea of owning and driving it surpassed the reality, as that is often the case in so many life circumstances.

Even though I don’t want to own one anymore, the VW Bug holds a tender spot in my heart, and I can always remember times I rode with my sister all those years ago – more precious for the fun and good company than the transportation.

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

Stormy Weather Again, *%&^%$!

Poor Lena Horne can’t stop singing, but of course, this isn’t about stormy weather in your life, this is actual stormy weather.

I admit the first tender flakes made me smile and think of making snow sculptures, and sledding, to sipping hot cocoa by the fireside, and I was taken in by the romance, like the blush of new love.

My giddiness lasted through the day, especially as the snow was light, sparkling, and easy to move.

It’s right that there’s snow in February in the Northeastern U.S., but I’d like it to end with February too.  Alas, nature thinks winter should continue through March, and sometimes well into April – even though the calendar plainly notes the vernal equinox – Spring – dammit!

Unable to leave for warmer, snow-free, climes, enduring whatever comes is our lot, so I’ll drink a cup of cocoa, pretending it isn’t going right to my hips, and try to enjoy the fire that rockets glowing embers, while belching smoke at me, filling my nose and burning my eyes with its acrid stench – no matter how often I change spots around the bonfire – and appreciate my efforts toward the graceful, artfully rendered sculpture in my mind’s eye looking more like quasi-moto than the angel it was supposed to represent, while begrudgingly appreciating nature’s ice I’m pressing my bruised tail bone against from the ill-advised sledding, and subsequent and spectacular ejection from said sled, earlier in the day.

At least I snapped a few photos before the worst:

Image by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Image by Jerri Higgins
Image by Jerri Higgins

By the way, while Lena Horne is famous for her rendition of Stormy Weather, among others, I think Ella Fitzgerald sings it better.

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

 

Selling Elvis

My S.O. has a velvet Elvis he’d like to sell.  His mother brought it home from donations to their church tag sale.  She thought being musicians we’d like it, and it is the King of Rock -n- Roll, but we’d rather see the painting go to an appreciative home.

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins

The velvet Elvis craze began in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, and Mexican kitsch artist David Ortiz was prolific not only with Elvis paintings, but also known for clowns, and animals, on velvet, usually in a decorative wood frame.

Many other kitsch artists in Tijuana copied Ortiz, and there was a glut of ‘VElvis’ paintings, which have become collectibles today.

Every time I pass by the painting, I remember how adored Elvis was when I was a kid, and I never understood his appeal until I was older.  I enjoyed films like, Jail House Rock, and I was in a staged version of, King Creole, several years ago with, Travis LeDoyt, an uncanny Elvis tribute artist, who tours around the world bringing mostly Elvis’ early career to audiences young and young-at-heart alike.

Regardless of how much VElvis’ are disparaged by ‘serious’ art critics, they have endured, and increased in value, even if only for sentimental, kitsch, and niche collectors.

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

Worthy Goal?

Hey WordPressers,

I’d love to have 1,000 fellow bloggers following me this year, and if there’s something that you’d like me to write about that would interest you enough for a follow, please comment in this post.

Why 1,000?  Because 1,000 feels like success.  If I don’t reach that, I’ve not found something interesting enough to blog about, or I’m not interesting enough, and I get that.

I’ll cry for a while, but I’ll be over it eventually.

Maybe.

If you have suggestions on how to have a more successful blog, please let me know that too.

Comments are only open for a week or whatever WordPress’ cut off is because when I’ve left comments open indefinitely, I got a LOT of spam.

Thank you so much, and if I can help you meet a blogging goal, let me know!

Cheers.

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

 

Have A Fabulous Halloween

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

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

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

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

Scarecrow

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

Photo credit: Jerri Higgins
Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

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

20151028_115617 20151028_115624 20151028_115726 20151028_115729 20151028_115733 20151028_115755 20151028_115815

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

The Blue Guitar

Once there was a girl who sang.  She sang her heart out to all her favorite songs on the radio, to songs others made up and sang around her, and to her own songs that she kept in her heart and mind, but didn’t know how to strike the chords to bring out what she played inside her.

She bought a guitar and tried to play it – so many times – but it wasn’t like singing.  She had trouble with her fingers on the strings to make chords, and didn’t understand things like thirds and fifths and sevenths – it all sounded like calculus to her, and she was terrible at math.  So, she gave up.  She didn’t get rid of the guitar, and did learn to play one song on it.  It was a folk song her best friend had sung when they were twelve, and she never wanted to forget it, and if she could only ever play one song, that was the one she wanted to play.

Time passed.

She had a son, and he sang all the time once he figured out language, and she sang too, but the guitar sat in its case.  At least it wasn’t gathering dust.

She brought out the guitar and played her one song now and then, but even that song was hard to switch chords, and she never got the hang of it and thought she must be that stupid.  She could sing but she wasn’t smart enough to know music.  Her guitar became art.  It reminded her of all the beautiful songs she had ever heard, and all the vibrant, robust, sad, powerful , joyful, ecstatic sounds that came out of that one instrument.

It was a savior and a nemesis.  How could that be?

She finally closed the guitar in its case and thought about selling it.  She brought it to the music store and the man behind the counter came around and took her guitar and started strumming.  He told her that it was a beautiful guitar and he could not give her the amount it was worth, and if she thought she wanted to play, she needed to keep it.

The guitar sat while she looked longingly at it for another year.  One day, she saw an advertisement for another guitar – shhhhh – is it even okay to get another guitar when you aren’t playing the one you have? – please don’t tell!

This one is blue, and smaller, and it’s blue!

photo by Jerri Higgins
photo by Jerri Higgins

She loved it so much she got out her old ‘Standard Guitar Method’ book one, and began.  It’s been two weeks and she hasn’t stopped practicing.  Her fingers hurt, and she’s frustrated, and feels stupid, but every time she picks up her Blue, she feels like she’s home.  It’s OK to be stuck at level 1 forever, if that’s all she can do, because she has never felt so happy to be so terrible at something.

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

Festive Autumn

Massachusetts Postcard

Autumn always filled me with excitement as a child – mostly the thought of Halloween and what I would be that year – and how much candy I could get…  I also loved making leaf piles and jumping in them with my best friend, and the pungent odor of fallen oak and maple leaves still brings those happy memories up front, as well as crunching through fallen leaves on a crisp October evening’s walk, watching curls of acrid wood smoke from various chimneys, the scent lingering on the air, reminding me of warming up by a bon or campfire on colder late autumn and winter nights, made especially nice by a steaming mug of coffee, or sweet, hot cocoa, and lively company.

Bonfire Night

Autumn tree

In honor of so many festivals and fairs celebrating the harvest and helping the (for me) tough transition from summer, I offer a listing of many Massachusetts fall events.  Unfortunately, a lot of them fall on Columbus Day Weekend, so choosing what to attend could need a print out of events and a dart board to tape it to. 🙂

If you’re not close enough to enjoy any of these events, I’m sure there are festivals and celebrations wherever you are too.

***fryeburgfairnight

Western MA Autumn Happenings:

 http://www.historic-deerfield.org/event/hands/focus-fridays-chinese-export-porcelain-tea-set-2/?eID=18260   Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA, Focus Fridays: Old Burying Ground, Oct. 2 & Oct. 30, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 http://warebca.com/fall-fest-2014/   Ware Annual Fall Festival, Oct. 3rd, 2015, various events & venues, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

 http://www.fallfoliageparade.com/   Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade, North Adams, MA, 60th Anniversary: Sunday, Oct. 4th, 2015 – 1 p.m.

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~ Columbus Day Weekend ~

http://salmonfallsgallery.com/   Shelburne Falls Art walk & artist’s reception, Shelburne Falls, MA, Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://www.paradisecityarts.com/   Northampton Paradise City Arts Festival, Northampton, MA, October 10, 11 & 12, 2015, Sat & Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Mon. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://www.thebige.com/   The Big E Fair, West Springfield, MA, September 18th – October 4th, 2015. Gates open 8 a.m.

http://www.topsfieldfair.org/  Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, MA, Fri, Oct 2 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, Oct. 2, opens 1 p.m., Oct. 3 – 12, 10 a.m.

http://www.ashfieldfallfestival.org/  Ashfield Fall Festival, Ashfield, MA, October 10 &11, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – both days – rain or shine.

http://www.berkshirebotanical.org/see-and-do/harvest-festival/harvest-festival-home-page/  Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival Stockbridge, MA, Saturday and Sunday October 10th and 11th, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – rain or shine.

http://exploreadams.com/play/ramblefest   Ramblefest, Adams Visitors Center, Adams, MA, Oct. 11, Noon – 5 p.m., – Oct 12, 2015, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://bazaar.culturalsurvival.org/amherst-common   Indigenous Cultural Survival Festival, Amherst Common, Amherst, MA, Sat. Oct 10 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.riversidebluesandbbq.com/   5th Annual Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ, Greenfield, MA, October 10th & 11th, 2015, Noon – 6 p.m. both days

http://www.townofgranville.net/   34th Annual Granville Harvest Fair, Granville, MA, October 10th – 12th, 2015, Oct.10, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Oct.11, Noon – 5:00 p.m., & Oct.12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

http://trinityspringfield.org/wp/?ai1ec_event=12th-annual-fall-craft-fair&instance_id=9168  Trinity United Methodist Church, Springfield, MA, Fall Craft Fair, Sat., October 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 http://www.parkhillorchard.com/art   Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA, Art In the Orchard, August 13 – October 31, 2015, a walking sculpture trail winding through fruit gardens

http://mikesmaze.com/   Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm, Sunderland, MA, is open Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays, September 12 – November 8, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinfest   6th Annual Pumpkinfest, Turners Falls, MA, October 24th, 2015, 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.nrm.org/event/pre-halloween-tour-luminaries-exploring-stockbridge-cemetery-2/?instance_id=42778   PRE-HALLOWEEN TOUR Luminaries: Exploring Stockbridge Cemetery, October 29, 2015, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

http://www.craftsofcolrain.com/index.html  Annual Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.hitchcockcenter.org/programs/adult-programs/natural-history-programs-series/#familyprograms   Pumpkin Carving, Thursday, October 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.  & The Enchanted Forest: A Non-scary Halloween Event, Friday & Saturday, October 23 & 24, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

http://ontrendcrafts.com/upcoming-events-72615/  OnTrend Fall Craft Fair, Hadley Town Commons, Hadley, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

MACropped

~ A few notable annual festivals and events in Central, Northeastern and Southeastern, MA:

http://www.wachusett.com/EventsActivities/AppleFest/tabid/362/Default.aspx  Mt Wachusett 32nd Annual Applefest, October 17-18, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.westendfallfestival.com/  West End Creamery, Whitinsville, MA, Corn Maze, and Fall Festival, Weekends Sept. 12th, through October 25, 2015

http://cmschamber.ning.com/page/harvest-festival  26th Annual Harvest Festival, Sturbridge, MA Town Common and grounds of the Publick House Historic Inn, October 17 & 18, 2015, Sat.,10 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Sun., 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Rain or Shine.

https://www.nantucketconservation.org/activities/cranberry-festival/  13th Annual Nantucket Cranberry Festival, Milestone Cranberry Bog, Nantucket, MA, Saturday October 10, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – rain or shine

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Jack-o'lantern 2012

~ Halloween Related ~

http://www.hauntedhappenings.org/  Salem, MA, Haunted Happenings 2015 Thursday, October 1 – October 31, 2015

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/poeinsalem/  Edgar Allen Poe in Salem, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/thegravedetails/  The Grave Details, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.beverlyhistory.org/  Witch Stories by Candlelight, Hale Farm, Beverly, MA, Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.

http://www.edaville.com/explore-edaville/shows-events/   Pumpkins Aglow, Edaville USA, Carver, MA, Friday – Sunday in October, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

http://www.mirbeau.com/calendar/halloween-masquerade-ball-2/?instance_id=12477  Mirbeau Inn & Spa at the Pine Hills, Plymouth, MA, Halloween Masquerade Ball, October 31st, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

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Some sites for MA events all year, as well as outdoor recreation:

https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/hf-510/

http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/09/western_mass_bucket_list_30_th.html

http://festivalnet.com/state/massachusetts/ma.html

http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/western-massachusetts-hiking.html

http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/advanced-hiking-trails-in-massachusetts.html

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/

http://berkshires.org/business_category/festivals-special-events/

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

Falling For Autumn

While I didn’t get enough summer this year – does any of us ever? – I feel less sad about Autumn’s entrance.  I don’t appreciate the jarring way it barges in – twenty degree temperature drop, and chilling wind to boot – but I do like that harvest has come, and apples are abundant this year, and the days are still relatively warm.

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins

Fall has always held the excitement of festivals, and of Halloween, the scent of falling leaves, of wood fires, and of hay stacks.  I’m glad I’m not allergic to those things, although when the leaves get mildewed after the rains come, then I’m suffering with sniffles, stinging eyes, or bleary from my allergy pills.

I’ve gone back to allergy shots this year, six a week for the foreseeable future.  I’m allergic to life, pretty much, and I feel bad that my son is too.  My father was very allergic, so I probably inherited it from him, but I hope the shots will decrease or eliminate my sensitivity.

The worst is the indoor dust mites, molds, and mildew as the cold season arrives and we’re shut up for the next five months.  I do what I can to keep the allergens down, but it’s a constant battle.

I’ll drown my sorrow with some hot cider and a slice of fresh apple pie – or will it be pumpkin – or maybe, both?  Tiny slices…

The calories tend to increase over the holiday season along with my waist line, so I’m trying to learn that morsels are better than nothing so I don’t feel too deprived  – and there’s nothing like salsa dancing to keep the weight down, and chase away the winter blues.

I don’t mind walking in the snow, but the below zero temps like we had too much of last year, makes outdoor time shorter and less enjoyable for me.  I’m not one of those hearty souls – or perhaps drunken fools – who can be out for hours in weather extremes.  I’ll drink my cocoa, keep warm by the fire, and they can tell me all about their frostbite.

But, September isn’t over.  We’re in for a week of seventy-degree weather, perfect for long walks, jogging, playing, and working outdoors, with lows at night in the forties and fifties, perfect for sleep, which I’ll take over the muggy nights of tossing and turning.

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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

Motherhood Ruined Me For Traveling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s also never been a parent.

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

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Gets In…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hike Come Hell Or High Water

Chicken of the Woods mushroom Photo: Andy Kostecki
Chicken of the Woods mushroom
Photo: Andy Kostecki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki

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

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

Summer Day, Twelve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Marching Into Spring, and Smith College Spring Bulb Show

March is only calendar Spring, but it helps psychologically.  I’ve seen a foot of snow in April, and sometimes snow in May.  It melts more quickly, but with climate change, I have no idea what the weather patterns are doing.  Yes, we’ve had fierce winters forever, and there were ice ages too, but we’re in another change pattern facilitated by human industry – whether or not we believe it.

I found this article from The Guardian helpful in understanding the pattern change.  I also appreciated this Guardian article about consensus on climate change, and while it’s not going to change any minds that don’t want to be changed, it’s helpful for a way to talk about climate change.

Mostly I think about how to adapt.  Do I move – even if it’s only 4 or 5 months a year?  I love my area, its beauty, and familiarity, but I’m not coping well with harsh weather.  I know that no matter where I go, there is always something unfavorable, but it’s about what I’m willing to accept, or what I can deal with.

Likely, I am only fantasizing as I have no money to live in two places, and barely enough to live in one, but if there is work I can find to sustain me & my S.O. through a few months a year in milder climes, I will jump on it!

In the meantime, I really enjoyed the Smith College Bulb Show last week, and hope you enjoy these photos from our excursion through all of their plant houses from the tropics to the desert (if you click on a picture to enlarge it, you can click your browser back button to continue with the next photos):

smithbulbshow04 smithbulbshow06 smithbulbshow07 smithbulbshow10 smithbulbshow15 smithbulbshow16 smithbulbshow20 smithbulbshow21 smithbulbshow24 smithbulbshow28 smithbulbshow38 smithbulbshow42 smithbulbshow52 smithbulbshow66 smithbulbshow75 smithbulbshow86 smithbulbshow96a smithbulbshow102a smithbulbshow108a smithbulbshow109a smithbulbshow110 smithbulbshow128a

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

Top Ten Why I Don’t Drive So Fast Anymore

10. Wanting to join the hypermilers.

shutterstock_hypermiling_edited-1-620x349

9. Avoiding those damn squirrels is harder the faster you’re going.

8. Having to brake for a line of just moving cars after hitting all the other green lights on that road.

I didn’t expect this!

7. Stupid people in rotaries, traffic circles, or roundabouts

Taking control of the traffic circle?

6. Speeding tickets.

Kid gets speeding ticket
Kid gets speeding ticket

5. Insurance rates going up.

Pffffttt!!

4. Hitting potholes at 50 mph.

Dum de, dum de, dum de, – AHHHHH!

3. Getting the finger from the normally sweet dog-walker lady on my road.

Slow down! _http://i600.photobucket.com/albums/tt84/ericuzialko/OLD-LADY-MIDDLE-FINGER.jpg

2. Hydro-planing isn’t just a fun-sounding activity.

And the #1 reason for no longer driving so fast:

I no longer have a car.

Sigh…

Writing 101 – Hauntingly Interesting Person

Annie Keithline, owner/operator of the new, Valley Ghost Tours, out of Northampton, MA, met us in the square next to the town parking garage on a balmy September 8th, under the full, harvest, moon.  A mid-waist, black cape draped over her short-sleeved shirt, framed her slight figure, her ebullience apparent before she even spoke.

Several people had signed up for the evening, but she explained two couples had to cancel, and two more no-shows left just my man & I for the Haunted History Tour, which felt weird at first, but her confident manner and knowledge captured our attention and we eased into her introduction and tour explanation.

Just a few years older than my son, she shared what led her to start the tours, having walked across America(!), and still in college as a declared English major who loves history and sharing it with others.

Ours was more like a conversational walk than a dedicated tour, and I shared some of my paranormal experiences both as a student at Smith, where a few ghost stops were, and throughout my life so far, and my man shared a few ghostly stories he’s heard as well.

Her disarming manner, obvious intelligence, and conviviality made the hour and a half fly by.  I had hoped to see some of the apparitions she talked about, like the ghost dog that walks up and down the street where a Starbucks currently sits, to a floating partial-apparition of a man on State Street, speculated to be seeking pledges for investing in the failed canal, to the teen-aged specter down under the Coolidge Bridge on Route 9, seemingly inviting you into the water with him, but Annie believes he might have been a ferry operator who continues to offer passage across the river, and frowns at you when you don’t follow him.  But, as Annie says, with the River Styx symbolism, who would want to oblige him?

We ended the evening on the busy Main Street, outside of the Hampshire Council of Governments, where Annie told us of a worker at the nearby Shop Therapy, which had long ago housed a bank, who had seen a male apparition, dressed in a long coat, sporting a bowler hat, who walked toward the back of the store and disappeared.

We touched on, but didn’t explore, the old Northampton State Hospital, the institution housing long razed, but an eerie, someone-is-watching-me, creepy office building remained that I had a meeting at several years ago, and was all too happy to leave.  All of the buildings are now torn down, and condominiums are either being planned, or built, on the land. I expect many of those owners will experience paranormal events with all that traumatic energy concentrated there.

Annie spoke of other fairly well-known and not-so-known encounters, unexplained phenomena, legends, and personal experience that made my spine tingle, and I want to visit some of the places to hopefully experience a few ghostly scenes for myself.

Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, or the paranormal, Annie’s, Haunted History Tour, lends insight to Northampton, and the Pioneer Valley’s past, and how we’re always walking in history – and one day soon – we’ll be part of that pageant too.

May you live and die well.

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

 

Summer Times

Summertime reminds me most of my next oldest sister, Allona.  I think of my eldest sister, Rachel, too, but Allona was more adventurous and high-spirited.  Allona could also be intractable and bossy, but thankfully those times were less when we were younger.

Allona lived in several Rhode Island towns over the years, some areas better than others. She was gifted with a parrot when she was in her early 20’s, whom she still has.  Her parrot was cool when she first got him, except for his deafening jungle squawking early in the morning & whenever the humans around him got loud.  Now, he’s a cranky old bird who delights in going after exposed toes, or snapping at anyone foolish enough to try to touch him.  Allona has taken very good care of him over the years, but they’ve both grown more ornery over time.  I wouldn’t mind him so much if he could be trained not to squawk so piercingly.

Summers in the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s were often delightful, however.  We’d spend days by the shore, go dancing at night, and mostly enjoy each others’ company playing card games like Pitch or Spades.  Sometimes we’d go camping, my favorite part being the smell of brewing coffee on the camp stove those early mornings.  Camping lost its thrill for me as time went on and my body’s aches rebelled at bed rolls and even at air mattresses, but it was the least expensive option to go anywhere and stay for several days.

Life changed when I had my son.  I wasn’t as carefree anymore, and though we camped a few times when my son was a baby and toddler, it was more stressful than enjoyable.  I camped several times with my son and some of his friends in his pre-teens and teens, but after he was 13 or 14, my company was no longer desirable, which worked out because my body didn’t desire camping anymore either!

I always felt welcome at my sister’s house in my teens and twenties, and considered it a home away from home.  I am still comfortable at my sister’s, but I feel more like a guest these days.  Part of that is maturity – I’m more helpful and recognize that she has an order to her home that she likes, just as I have – so I try to keep my footprint small when I’m there.  In our teens and twenties, I didn’t think about respecting her space and resources – not that I was slovenly or over-consuming – it just wasn’t foremost in my mind back then, and neither was it in hers.

Allona was an energetic, adventurous, go-getter – and she still is – but now her efforts are more inwardly directed.  We figure out what’s important to us as we mature, and, often, our world becomes smaller as we let go of people and things that no longer serve us.

I don’t want to let go of Allona, or any of my family.  They’ve become more precious to me with time’s passage, and now that my son is grown, I feel I’ve reverted back to young adulthood – wanting adventure and close, happy, and carefree friendships to spend my time.  My body’s limitations tell me otherwise, and the sad distance between my son & I, when I had hoped to grow closer as friends once he was an adult on his own.

But today I feel a titillating warm summer breeze calling me to the beach, calling me to adventure, and I wish I were with Allona to share it.

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

Full Moon in Wendell Brings A Coffee House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early July

Bonfire Night

I’ve moved into a fairly close-knit community with a vibrant social center in Western Massachusetts, and I went for a walk with my boyfriend downtown from our house on a large hill, late last night, to see if the town’s annual bonfire was still burning.
There’s only one street light at the top of the hill and we walked in near darkness until we reached the town center at the bottom of the hill. If my boyfriend hadn’t been with me, I probably would have turned back. The only marker’s we had were a few fireflies now and then, blinking in the grass and bushes at the road’s edge. Crickets and tree frogs filled the humid night air as we walked hand in hand – occasional rustling from some other animal breaking into the night chorus – filling me with fears of bears and wolves, while my real fear should have been skunks searching for grubs. Being sprayed by a surprised skunk would have kept away any bears or wolves, but everyone else as well!
As we walked down the street, we saw great flames and sparks streaming up into the sky, lighting a wide expanse around the park. We continued around the park’s edge to the playground and swung for a while, watching the emanated light show, and hearing the chatter of several generations around us.
I felt linked to all the people there, as well as those from bonfires past – and to cultures who’ve used bonfires to mark celebrations and festivals throughout time.
The fire and sparks shimmered in the night air, sometimes looking like mini-fireworks, other times looking like live creatures taking flight from their great burning mother. I stepped backwards for several yards as we left the park, mesmerized by the ever-changing, shimmering glow and off-shooting flares.
We walked back up to our house and laid down on the driveway to watch the night sky for a half-hour or so, later drifting to sleep on a comfortable bed, grateful for such a magical night.

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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.