Power Over

Is there anyone who hasn’t been oppressed, or been an oppressor? In small or large ways domination shapes the mammal world.

Who’s the boss? Our parents often oppress us rather than guide us well – with a mix of aggression or passive neglect. Lucky are those who have balanced parents – they’re in the minority.

Teachers, police, employers: all oppressors, unless we’re self-taught, self-regulated, and self-employed.

I oppress myself, hard-wired as I am from even the prenatal stress of my father’s battering my mother and my older siblings, continuing until we escaped at the end of a loaded gun.

Well did I learn that my being was subordinate to others. I was made ripe for predation.

I am resilient. I did survive, but I didn’t thrive.

Drinking and drugs were a fantastic escape, until they weren’t – and I’m lucky – I didn’t drop down into hell, but swirled in purgatory – unable to stop destructive behavior, cowardly in both suicide attempts and pursuing life.

My half-hearted suicide attempt during my last drunk set in motion a stay in the hospital’s mental health unit, which, while little more than a warehouse for the acutely mentally ill, I found a thin title I walked by several times, eschewing the idea it presented, until I finally picked it up. The title: Living Sober.

No white light, or heavenly choir filled the room as I read, but I was struck sober, finally willing to entertain its contents. Nearly every word I read I could identify with. I had wanted to stop drinking for several years, teetering on the line between stopping of free-will, or tumbling into unrelenting addiction.

It’s been four months since I last drank, and the first month was free. I’ve earned the last three. It’s not a craving, like I might crave chocolate, it’s more the idea that I can’t anymore. It’s an inner tantrum, and it’s exhausting.

I’ve gone to AA meetings, and while I appreciate, and can relate to stories, the cult aspect chills me. Having lived in a cult, I hear the ‘us vs them’ mantra & many variations of ‘we’ll die/fall apart/suffer’ unless we attend meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, do service & never leave. I was in 12-step recovery for ten years, and nothing subdued my mental illness.

I understand Alcoholics Anonymous works for many, but not for me. SMART recovery is few & far where I am, as well as SOS, Rational Recovery, or any other secular, non-cultish program.

Two meetings I regularly attend don’t push god like they used to push drugs. The spiritual aspect came to me in that dingy room, turning each page of Living Sober, more and more certain I was done drinking. I was free, but remaining free while mentally ill is challenging.

The only power I have over this is the power to not pick up the first drink, and to not romanticize drinking, but remember my last drunk, or any time I said ‘I’m done’, but wasn’t.

Two ideas from AA remain: I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and in order to remain sober, I need to work with another person seeking sobriety. I have already met and surmounted – so far – besting my defenselessness, and my goal is to find something that works for me that doesn’t require relinquishing my hard-fought autonomy.

I’d love to hear others’ experience of being sober without AA, and thriving rather than merely existing.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Love Legacy

Fiona Sargeant, who moved to South Africa from England to teach ballet, has very little time left fighting cancer, leaving her ballet school, in an extremely poverty-stricken township, shuttered without our help.

The good news: many are doing what they can to help. The tough news: we have a long way to go to make sure her legacy continues.

Our team is #MishaBearsLovesCherryPieBombs in this year’s GISHWHES – What is GISHWHES?

Please donate on here: Crowdrise Change A Life

Here’s a message from some of the dancers: Zolani Dancers call for help to further their education

Another: Misha Collins talks about supporting Fiona Sargeant’s school

If you’re moved & willing to do this, please use the Crowdrise link to donate & you are so amazing.

Thank you.

 

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

 

Fifty Shades of Green

April’s snow melted a few weeks ago, with the rest of this winter’s accumulation, as warm days and rain cleared it away. Unfortunately it’s been a wildly swinging weather ride from up and down temps of hot days to frost-laden mornings, and several jags of cold rain and biting winds, and mainly overcast days for the last month.

The few warm, bright days we’ve seen so far revived the asparagus patch, and we can’t eat it fast enough. However, the latest frost killed the bountiful apple blossoms on the two old trees in the neighboring yard. Luckily, the peaches and blueberries were past their blooming, so they should be fine.

But the greening of the yard and forest is striking this year. A scant few weeks ago, the yard and bordering forest was a mass of dull greys and browns, but glancing out the window the other day was like watching the original, Wizard of Oz, going from black and white to Technicolor in the Emerald City.

Well, maybe it’s not been that spectacular, but when you’ve got the blues, and don’t believe an end to the cold, wind, and rain – these shades of green, teasing spates of sun, and sounds of the spring peeper chorale, incessant bird song, and other emergent wildlife, are a ‘shot in the arm’, indeed!

Greening grounds 1
Greening grounds 2
Greening grounds 3
Greening grounds 4
Greening Grounds 5

The awe-filled sensory stimulation of the fresh greenery will recede with summer’s advance, even though I will continue to step back and appreciate the verdant seasonal abundance.

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

Spring – Hopes Eternal?

Here in Western MA, the first day of Spring has graced us with sun and warmth. Trees and shrubs are budding, blooms readying within.

The willows bordering the brook running through the bottom third of the backyard’s long, gentle slope, are soaking up the snow-melt, their tops’ new growth a muted chartreuse, diversifying the reddish haze of surrounding maples, and the changing hues of the black walnuts, oaks, sumac, and poplars.

Robins who arrived several weeks ago but scattered after last weeks foot of heavy snow, returned by the brook too, worms and other insects a plenty.

Yesterday, we spied seven deer donned in their dark grey-brown winter fur, drinking at the water’s edge, and eating any new grass shoots appearing there. Four were mature does with three yearlings in tow, who gamboled through the snow while their parents, or other herd members, stayed close to the stream, raising their long necks in alarm every few moments before determining all was well. A flock of turkeys seeking nourishment several feet further downstream kept disappearing in the deep snow and soon trotted off into the woods while the deer lingered several more minutes.

Seeing the deer made it through the winter – and hunting season – was gratifying. The stretch of land between the cabin and the neighbor’s house is a wildlife corridor, and a nature preserve, of sorts. There are several haying fields here, surrounded by woods with the brook running through, elements conducive to safe and productive wildlife.

Soon the does will calf, and we’ll witness the circle of life anew as the stand of trees behind the garden shed offers ample shelter, and the growing hay fields will provide safety for the fawns while mother seeks nourishment during the day.

Welcome, but less amenable to sleeping in, will be the raucous mating bird calls who seem to favor the eaves above the bedroom window, of course…

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

New England Awe-tumn

Though I’ll post some pictures, if you live, or been in New England’s autumn, you understand the awe while driving or walking down our country roads, or along trails and wooded paths.

It started slow this year, and seemed as though it would be a mostly yellow leaf-covered horizon & ground, but a preview of winter’s chill jump-started the leaves’ colors and now glorious neon-hued oranges, peach, deep, and bright reds, have dominated the summer’s green.

Understanding that it’s dying leaves doesn’t make it less dazzling or soul-stirring – or perhaps it is because this is the leaves’ legacy – that it’s all the more poignant and breath-taking.

It’s my reminder that we’re headed into darkness, already in less light, but yet there is reason to celebrate.

Dance, sing, laugh, breathe fully – this time emphasizes that everything – all of us – experiences these cycles.

For now, exuberance spreads through me as I drive down the narrow road nearing my home: the birch, maple, oak, sumac, and other flora dazzles with a daily changing palette – through sun or cloud – and even more dramatic in rain and wind, as leaves pirouette and glide in showers of glimmering color.

I shore up these treasures, knowing the pictures I took cannot do justice to the show before me – just as a live performance holds an immediate relational experience to the audience that a recording can never reveal.

Wendell MA October 2016

Montague, MA October 2016

Montague MA tree Oct 2016

Hinsdale NH tree October 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Sounds Of Summer

Summertime - and the livin' is easy
Summertime – and the livin’ is easy

Summer’s constant buzz and song fills my house.  Crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, and a myriad of other bugs and birds create a constant background hum – either that – or I have horrible tinnitus.

These muggy August nights feature crickets’ constant ‘chee, chee, chee, chee’, while tree frogs sound their ‘bdrrrrr, bdrrrrr’ calls echoing around our hill, quieting close to sunrise, continued by the crickets until long after sunrise when other insects and birds take up the daytime chorus.

The oppressive, humid air makes sleep nearly impossible, even with the fan on high, but I rarely need moisturizer this time of year!

Wisps of hair curl up near my temples and forehead, and a cool shower takes down some of the night’s heat.

A long ago Key West morning suffuses my memory.  I’m stepping into a slightly chilled saltwater pool at our motel in Islamorada.  The surrounding air, so much like this morning, makes me long for the palm tree setting, while nostalgia’s softening gaze helps me forget any of the stress or conflict of that trip as I feel myself cutting through the cooling water of the pool on that lovely morning.

Islamorada Pier - Guy Harvey Outpost
Islamorada Pier

That memory is a happy place I will call to mind as I attend to today’s stress, work and monotonous chores.

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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

 

Earth Day 2016

my_blue_marble_by_vileyonderboy
http://img11.deviantart.net/ea36/i/2010/152/f/d/my_blue_marble_by_vileyonderboy.jpg

It’s your day, Earth.  We set one day aside to honor you – kind of like Mother’s, or Father’s, Day.  I can only speak for mothers, but I know most of us work hard all year, but it’s one day for special notice.

And like the aforementioned days for recognition, you’re pretty much taken for granted the rest of the year, Earth.  We trust there’ll be breathable air, livable land, and drinkable water every day –  no matter what we do to you.

But more people, who wouldn’t call themselves tree-huggers or hippies, are waking up to the Earth’s needs – regardless of motivation.

Lots of trees were planted today, and many people cleaned up road and river ways in your honor, Earth.  Children danced and sang, wrote stories and poems, painted pictures, and marched in parades.

But what happens tomorrow?  Making every day Earth day is a significant challenge, and I am as bad as anyone because I drive, and use electricity, and eat, and breathe, and use unsustainable goods.

How do I change – impoverished me, who can’t go buy a hybrid vehicle, build a ‘green’ home, has no regular public transportation, and deals with chronic pain among other issues, making biking or walking everywhere unrealistic?

I suppose my carbon footprint is less by virtue of my poverty, but if I were wealthy, would I care?  I hope so, but I absolutely would do more if I gain wealth in my life.

I’m grateful for others’ creativity – those addressing problems of our industrialized world: industrial and agricultural pollution, rubbish, mindless consumerism, etc.

Cows are one of the major methane producers, and I wonder if an enzyme could be put into their feed to reduce their gas emissions, much like Bean-o does for humans.  There has to be solutions to help us and Earth without going back to being hunter/gatherers. I have no interest in beating my clothes against a rock in the local brook to clean them.  I don’t think life has to get harder to get better for all of us.

Maybe oil-based materials and products will use new substances, known, or as yet undiscovered, that won’t require oil, coal, tar, or other noxious materials to create or operate.  ‘Plastic’ can be made from plant fibers, for instance, that will degrade without as much damage to the world as current plastics are.

There are many smart, driven, compassionate, and caring people who can tackle these issues, but government needs to provide funds for success much like it did with the space program – a program now focused on getting humanity off this polluted world rather than solving pollution issues.

Maybe humanity screwed up other planets in the solar system a long time ago, and luckily found a livable planet here, but pretty much directly started destroying it…

My father thought we were the scourge of the universe and ours is a penitentiary planet – keeping us from serious interstellar harm.  I think we’re an immature species, smart enough to get ourselves in real trouble, but not insightful enough to stop ourselves.  So, until that happy day when we’re mature, we suffer the consequences of our actions rather than celebrate how far we’ve come.

Who knows how long I’ll live, but I could reasonably live another forty or fifty years – and I’d like to use whatever time left giving back to this beautiful blue interstellar marble, and do my best to decrease my destructive tendencies and do more good than harm.

Regardless, I wish all a beautiful Earth day, and hope it will carry all through the year.

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

 

Gratitude & Happy New Year

Happy 2016 WordPress!!!!

(and all you fabulous WordPressers)

 

Happy 2016!

I am very thankful for all who have read my blog, have become friends – regardless of how often we make contact – I know I have your support, and I hope you know you have mine!

Many new readers have stopped by this year, and some of you have subscribed, and I appreciate that so much.

Depression sometimes absorbs so much time, so I don’t respond as often as I read your, and others’, blogs, but I appreciate the wealth of viewpoints and creativity here on WordPress, and other sites as well.

I have learned so much from so many bloggers, and I appreciate the different perspectives and topics you bring.

You never know how much a random thought, a poem, a fictional work, personal challenge posts, songs, other art, and especially humor, have helped me throughout the year, and will continue to.

Thank you all so much!  Your interest means a great deal to me.  Your comments are precious, and I hope you all find what you need and hope for in 2016!

Rock on, WordPressers!!

Cheers!

Jerri  aka Abstractly Distracted & seekingsearchingmeaning blog.

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

California Morning

San Diego via www.marriott.com
San Diego via http://www.marriott.com

You know those moments you have: you step outside and the scent, and feel of the air, the time of day, the light’s slant,  and shadows interplay, perhaps – or the trees, and several things in your surroundings at once – brings you through time?

I could have been back in 1995, San Diego, California, yesterday.

My ride dropped me off, and as I stepped out, swirls of mist rose in the morning sun steaming off the pavement and walkway ahead of me.  The warm day, odd for this time of year,  added to the sense of somewhere else, and the aroma of damp leaves and earth, the look of the concrete steps and iron railing – the experience’s totality – was remarkable. (Thus, I am remarking?…)

The moment was imbued with the best of my experience of that time.  Heading to the Small Computer Repair course I was taking then, I passed the handsome coffee-cart guy every day, and more often than not, two or three leggy, beautiful, younger, blonde girls were flirting with him while he made their lattes or macchiatos – whatever was hippest to drink back then.

So it was surprising that he paid any attention to me at all.  The times I could afford a coffee, he chatted me up rather than vice-versa; asking me questions about my classes, how it was going, or wishing me a great weekend on Fridays.  I passed by him every day and he never failed to say hi, or wave if I was rushing to class that day.

I sometimes wonder if I had had more money to spend on coffee if it would have ended in a date with the cute barista, or if I was refreshing because I wasn’t the typical beauty vying for his attention, or because I didn’t fawn over him.  If only he knew that it was that I didn’t consider myself in the same league, having been told directly by more than one guy I wasn’t anything special. Their jerk-factor notwithstanding, I felt I was attractive, I just wasn’t spectacular.

So much of my time in California is a blur now.  I remember being there, but don’t remember day-to-day feelings, especially when depression threads its constricting tentacles around and through me, dulling my memory as well as my present.

Being granted that visceral time snippet helped me remember I am fully alive, that I have been present to myself and others, and I put that sweetness in my mental ‘cope box’, hoping I’ll know, or be able, to open it when depression barges in again.

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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

 

 

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

Where Do I Go From Here?

If I could design my life, I’d live somewhere on Cape Cod.  Brewster, maybe, or Eastham, or Chatham.  Clearly, money wouldn’t be an issue.

I’d live in a two bedroom cottage.  Something simple, and easy to clean.

A few examples are:

http://www.vrbo.com/292223
http://www.vrbo.com/292223
http://www.homeownerscollection.com/page/PropRisasCottage?utm_source=June+Featured+Properties&utm_campaign=JUNE+FEATURED+PROPS&utm_medium=email
http://www.homeownerscollection.com/page/PropRisasCottage?utm_source=June+Featured+Properties&utm_campaign=JUNE+FEATURED+PROPS&utm_medium=email
http://www.seasideoregonvacations.com/seaside_vacation_rental_home.php?home_id=32
http://www.seasideoregonvacations.com/seaside_vacation_rental_home.php?home_id=32
https://www.vacasa.com/unit.php?UnitID=642
https://www.vacasa.com/unit.php?UnitID=642

 

Being by the sea has always been a draw for me, and being in a sweet cottage or house would be wonderful.

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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

Spring To Summer in A Flash

It’s supposed to hit the mid-80°F’s today, and it’s been in the high 70°F’s & 80°F’s for nearly a week now.  We had a few true spring days, high 50°F’s & 60°F’s, but now it’s ‘spring unhinged’, or an impatient summer.  I’ll take it!  I’m in love with the world today, and I’ll ride this pink cloud into the ground, I know, but it’s a happy cruise now.

The blossoming trees, bushes, blooming flowers, glorious green grass – nature’s eye candy, and its spell is working.  Getting dumped by nature will suck, as it always does, but life’s intermittent reinforcement is working, and I’m charmed all over again.

The crab-apple tree next door is ‘tickle-me-pink’ hued, more lush and vibrant than last year, and standing under it, the light honey-ed apple scent, and the electric-field buzz of hundreds of bumblebees gathering pollen is nearly over-whelming.

Crab Apple in bloom, Montague, MA Photo: Jerri Higgins
Blooming Crab Apple Tree, Montague, MA Photo: Jerri Higgins
Blooming Crab Apple Tree, Montague, MA
Photo: Jerri Higgins

If there’s a heaven, I hope it’s a lot like this, without things like having to stop writing so you can pee – that’s so annoying!

If you’re in this part of the world, in the Eastern time zone, or better, I hope you enjoy this gorgeous day.  Cheers!

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

Signs of Spring

Wrapped by this bright day’s light, I know it’s still cold outside, but it’s nice to pretend the air is balmy, with warm spring breezes tinkling the chimes hanging from the porch outside our front window.

Winter’s quiet, now broken by trilling birds seeking mates, claiming their territory, and readying their nests over this side of the hill, is another welcome sign of Spring.

As the day wears on, clouds dim the sky, but not our hope.  The steady drip of snow off our roof belies winter’s frigid grip on the land, and it won’t be long before my fingers feel the warmth of soft, rich, dirt as we sow our garden’s first seeds.

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

Happy Thanksgiving Meal

My mother brines and dresses the turkey, cramming the cranberry and celery stuffing into the rinsed cavity, and then trussing the legs before placing the bird in the black and white speckled enamel roasting pan.

Percolating coffee on the stove draws me near, and I perch on the kitchen stool next to the stove, watching as the hot water browns more with each eruption into the glass top of the percolator.  I wish my mother would let me drink coffee, but she makes me a weak ‘tea’ out of cinnamon, and sugar in warmed water, with a splash of milk.  She calls it Cambric Tea, although she substitutes cinnamon for tea.

One of my older brothers is washing a mound of potatoes, carrots, and turnips, while my next oldest brother is on peeling duty. Never a turnip lover, I hate that she mixes them with the carrots, but at least she keeps the potatoes on their own.  My sisters will do the mashing later, while my little brother and I squirm in our impatience, and our pleas of when dinner will be ready, is met with ‘every time you ask me that, it will take longer’, by my mother.

Around 1 p.m., relatives begin arriving into the now steamy house.  Most of my cousins are older and don’t pay my little brother and I much attention, but we always eavesdrop on their conversations until told to go away by our older siblings.  Sometimes we get to play Monopoly, or, Life, with my cousins, although, Mouse Trap, is my favorite.  My older brothers consider Mouse Trap a baby game, so usually my little brother and I play that on our own, or with my next oldest sister, but it turns out that, Mouse Trap, is the only game we have they don’t, so we play it several times.

My aunts keep council with my mother in the kitchen, placing the desserts and sides they brought up on the refrigerator – and out of the reach of any hungry marauders, and then they set the main table, while enlisting me and my brother who made the mistake of coming into the kitchen, to set the card tables.  My father and uncles arrange the card tables and the folding chairs they brought, and then retreat to the den for cocktails, while they smoke and watch football.

There is nothing better to me than sitting on the kitchen stool and listening to the laughter and chatter of my mother and aunts.  They fill an otherwise stressful and dreary house with fun and good cheer.  Even my father is approachable as the relatives take his mind off of everyday life too.

Once everything is ready and platters fill out the tables, my father comes in and carves up the turkey.  Then the assembly line of passed plates circles the room until everyone has their dinner in front of them.  My father intones the Thanks-giving prayer over our bowed heads, and then the happy moment of digging in begins.

Dark meat is my favorite, drizzled with the turkey dripping gravy, a pool of which floats in the center of my mashed potatoes.  I manage to feed our dog the carrot and turnip mash, even though she will throw most of it up later from so many helpings of rich food greedily chowed down.

My mother’s cranberry relish is one of my favorite dishes. Most of the cranberries are ground up well, but an unmixed half a cranberry made it through the mixer, so tart I need a mouthful of potato, or a sip of milk to swallow it.  Hot, buttered, rolls steam on the white cloth napkin in their straw basket, and we know that later on, after the adults have retired in the den for talk and more coffee, and we children have finished the dishes, dessert would finally be served.

Pumpkin, Pecan, and Minced Meat pies, cinnamon rolls, and bread pudding with homemade whipped cream.  Even though we are stuffed from dinner, we’ll find room for dessert!

All too soon the relatives begin saying their goodbyes, and proceed out: our uncles and aunts, laden with the card tables, chairs, and extra dishes, followed by our cousins, start down the cement path, the chilled air swirling into the front hall, as my little brother and I call out tearful goodbyes, knowing a bath and bed are soon to follow.

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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.

Spring Into Action

The snow melted from the field behind the cabin two weeks ago, and the yellow-brown grass and dark leafless trees of the forest beyond are changing with each day.  The field has chartreuse coloring now, and darker green has begun to infuse some patchy spots. The enormous Willow towering among the other trees has brightened, though her foliage remains darker yellow.  A red fuzz has touched the tips in most of the low brush, with darker reds outlining the trees beyond.

The deer still blend in when they stand at the edge of the field, but they’re rooting out the left over crab-apples now, standing in the open, ever ready for a hasty retreat.

We’ve spotted a bobcat sniffing around the shed where some woodchucks have taken up residence, while robins have been the most plentiful, grabbing up the easy worm crop after all the recent rain.

The songbirds awake far earlier than I wish to be hearing them, but their busy mornings remind me that Spring is truly here, and it’s time to air out the cabin from its long, dreary, slumber, filling me with hope and energy at my corner of the world renewed.

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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.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

There are hundreds of family pictures I looked through while searching for photographs for this challenge, and other pictures of places and things that fill my heart, and love is such a vast topic that it was difficult to narrow down.

Love is more of an essence, permeating every area of my life, through every cell and fiber of my being, and, in its finest sense, love is beyond example or explanation.  As I looked at the pictures I have on my laptop I’m posting with now, a few hit the center of my heart: one of my mother and I that I took when we were at one of my favorite lakes a couple of summers ago, and one of my son and I at his High School graduation:

meandmom2010

Austen & me, June 2009

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

Daily Prompt: Musical

Michelle W. posted this prompt yesterday, January 26, 2013:

What role does music play in your life?

Having sung since I can remember (and far before that, my mother tells me), music and song are inextricable from my life.  It’s no happy accident that movies are scored, and that specific tones evoke or heighten emotion.  Music has helped me survive loss, and hurt.  Music bolsters my courage, energizes me, and connects me to others.

When I sing, I feel like a separate entity is within me, making beautiful sound come out of me – especially wonderful if I’m feeling ugly in any sense of that word.  Music is that in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

I am definitely a rock-n-roll woman, TrainWreck Sept. 22, 2012

although I appreciate many musical genres, and instrumentation.  While I can’t listen endlessly to certain genres, cultural influences, whether regional or global, enthrall me.  Music through the ages and across cultures fascinates me with its many variations and combinations of sound and style.  If you’ve been exposed to music from around the world, you can listen to a piece and likely know what part of the world it’s from, and I find that astonishing.  We bend and re-shape genres more and more these days, mixing old world in with new, in ever-expanding creative expression.

I can be moved to tears, called to action, and filled near bursting with joy – all from one song!  My inner homeland soundtrack includes: America The Beautiful, The Star-Spangled Banner, This Land Is Your Land, and dozens of others, while other country’s anthems and signature songs connect me to people and places I might not otherwise feel any affinity toward.

Music helps us learn, and moves uniquely through our brain.  A fascinating look at this can be found here: This Is Your Brain On Music.  The academic writing and science made it difficult for me to follow some of it because of my learning deficits, but it’s remarkable material and well worth reading.

Beyond the scientific data, we know that music touches us as few other things do.  I find it incomprehensible that there once was a movement to banish music, and some people still believe that music is somehow ‘evil’, and responsible for humanity’s downfall.  Yes, emotions are heightened, but the same thing can be said about prayer, and anytime people gather for a common purpose – with or without music.

To me, music is life.

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