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

 

 

Spaced Out

An astrophysicist on TV proclaims that we need to find a new home before the sun expands, broiling us to a crisp, in about 5 billion years.

5 Billion years.

It’s amazing to me that anyone thinks we’ll last that long as a species, never mind resemble the beings that we are now.

Maybe we’ve reached the pinnacle of human evolution, but we are in the age of 3-D printing, not just objects, but limbs, and potentially replacement organs!

We’re in the age of brain study, mapping, and technology.  We know how to interrupt Parkinson’s disease brain patterns, for instance, and are looking toward controlling and perhaps, eradicating, many brain-caused conditions.

Neuro- (and other) scientists – and brain researchers are making new discoveries on an accelerated pace, and as artificial limbs and our electro-chemical processes are paired more and more, humanity will morph into a species that can handle an increasingly toxic environment, or so is the hope.

We might figure out better ways to get energy, use and share resources like clean water, breathable air, and arable land, or we’ll kill each other off with increasingly terrifying weaponry here, and orbiting our world.

New telescope technology hopes to not only see beyond our current limits, but to aid our quest for life-sustaining planets while we seek the answers to cosmic origins.

Meanwhile, back on earth, it’d be nice to find sustainable work, and I look forward to digging into a rich swath of earth, sowing our next garden – which is all the new exploration I can currently handle.

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

 

Picture Perfect Day

January afternoon, looking northerly:

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Afternoon Sky Late January 2016
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins

The colors of the camera don’t do life justice.  Subtle grays blending into blue,  with a smoky water-color appearance.

Nature wins again.

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

November, Present

The balmy morning, so unusual in the Northeast for November, beckoned me outside, even though the heavy grey clouds threatened rain.  Chancing a walk, break-through sunshine rewarded me with its warmth as I stood with upturned face, grateful for the bounty.

Do the trees, and hills, and sky feel my appreciation?  Is there a quantum transfer leaving us both changed?

I sit, watching the mill brook water rush over the ledge and rocky stream bed on its way to a river, which will eventually deposit in the sea.  A rush of ochre-hued oak leaves tumble into the flow – most being swept downstream – while many other leaves jam up on an exposed ledge, several breaking away when the rock can hold no more.

How many years has this pattern continued, and how has the ledge been worn by the water and weather’s destruction?  I’m not looking at the same stream bed I saw last autumn, I know, but it feels unchanged except for the knowledge that new leaves are falling into new water.

A tree trunk lies along the stream bank – had that been there last year?  Was the slim, young birch pulled over like that, appearing as if to sip from the clear pool below it?

Another, older birch, its white bark illuminated, shines like a sentinel among the dark wooded oaks and pines, three thick, crooked branches jut into the air, appearing like a trident, perhaps, forgotten by Poseidon.

The dank, musty air, particular for autumn, stimulates undefined memory, and I thank the land for making me richer this rare day.

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

Inside Out

Shame.

How small a word, how big a consequence.

It’s high summer, nearly the start of August, and I am unchanged.

The message board at a favorite pub has creative endeavors, artisans advertising their wares, therapeutic services offered from a High Priestess teaching you the true Wiccan way, to Reiki, and other esoteric healing arts, plastered over it.

My mind swirls with contradiction, dismissing, reviling, but also believing.  Shame enters.  I’m smarter than that, but I’m so desperate for help that anything sounds plausible.

Miracles happen, prayer sometimes works – or maybe it always works and the answer is no – or maybe it never works and yet sometimes seems to.

People describe angelic intervention, things beyond our understanding or perception. I’ve never experienced this, and I’ve asked, begged, screamed to the cosmos for help – for many years.

You can’t convince me that some god wanted my life this way.  That this is what I asked for, or what’s necessary.  Mental illness just is.  It’s not a punishment.

A therapist described medication as a tool to get you where you can deal with your messed-up perception.  So far, medication hasn’t worked for me.  I’ve tried different modalities, and suicide feels like the only definitive.

But what if I’m left with the hell in my head and this is the only place I have a hope of changing it?  Am I eternally screwed?  Am I in limbo, or purgatory, now?  Am I paying penance while I yet live?  Another therapist introduced a Sufi idea that suffering here brings great honor wherever we go from here.  I don’t want the honor.  I’d rather live without the hell.

Not all days are like this, but enough of them are.

I also get the irony that I am sitting on a beautiful screened porch, looking out over a gentle-sloping lawn, flower-filled fields, and forest area beyond.  Puffed clouds float easterly, while the Poplar trees shimmer in the breeze that also bends and waves the hay.  Various bird song and cricket chirping fills my ears along with the rising wind.  Heaven could hardly improve the scene.

What is wrong with me?

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

Dog Days In The Garden

My shorts and shirt cling wherever they touch, sun scorches my back as I rip weeds between the tomatoes. Grass roots deep, but not deeper than my three-pronged cultivator snares them, ripping through the packed earth. Some grass and weeds grow close to the garden plants and removing them is like surgery.

The shadows lengthen across the yard, my work only half done. Water dribbles down my chin, cooling the narrow channel it finds to run down to my damp bra.  I’m tempted to dump most of the bottle over my face and neck, but drinking it is more refreshing for now.  My knees and back complain after several minutes of stooping, or staying in one position for too long.

A stray mosquito buzzes my ear – it won’t be long before the outlier signals the army for a blood meal on me, and I stride over to the carrot bed, some grass indistinguishable from carrot at the soil.  I thin nearly a dozen more carrots than I meant to, deciding to leave the rest for the next day.

The corn and squash languish in the sun, chicken manure and water are needed, but they’ll have to endure until tomorrow.

Dirt-smeared, sweat-stained, but satisfied with a day’s work, I trudge up to the cabin, dumping the last bit of water over my face, enjoying the rivulets that careen down my face and chest, even though I know a cool shower is not far off.

I say a prayer to the Universe that blight doesn’t strike the tomatoes this year, and, come harvest, that we get more crops than the bugs have.

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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.

Oh Deer!

English: A pair of (Odocoileus virginianus) gr...
English: A pair of (Odocoileus virginianus) grazing from a tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August and September are melancholic for me.  I enjoy autumn, but I love summer. I mostly love the long summer days.  On the longest days, 9 p.m. saw the final light fading, as my side of the Earth turned away from the sun, and the early summer light made me feel happier.  But, the season is turning now, even though the humid August days belie what’s soon to come.

In July, I moved in with my boyfriend, and we’ve both been adjusting ever since, and trying to make it ‘our’ place, but I do not easily assimilate, which I suppose could be a strength in other circumstances.  Regardless, we’re living in a beautiful rural area, and I’ve seen more wildlife – alive and in road-kill form – than I had in the last several years.  Nearly every morning, and early evening, for instance, several deer graze on the far edge of the yard, near the tree line down in back of the house.  My boyfriend and I noticed a doe with three fawns this spring, and we’ve watched them eating nearly every day.  At first, the fawns mostly nursed while mama ate, but she was weaning them a few weeks ago.  She’d let them suckle for less than a minute and then shake them off – sometimes engaging in a sort of hip-hop dance getting them away from her.

Several weeks ago, mama deer came out with only two fawns over several days, and I was so sad that one of them must have died.  I imagined illegal hunters, and then maybe a coydog, or bob cat, or some other asshole animal, taking down the cute, innocent fawn.  Then, The Lion King, came to my mind, The Circle of Life song looped in my head over the next few days, and I moved onto acceptance in my grief cycle, when lo and behold, mama doe came out one morning with three fawns in tow!  My boyfriend and I wondered aloud what had happened.  He thought maybe it had been two deer families making separate appearances, and while that’s plausible, there’s only the doe and her three fawns out there everyday.  I thought the fawn must have been sick, and laid low for a while.

Which brings me to another thought: where the hell is their dad?  It must be rough for a single-doe family, raising three rambunctious fawns, while papa buck is out there – doing Goddess/God knows what – probably munching on fermented berries and fruits with all the other bucks, not getting back to the thicket until well after dark…

Then again, maybe some asshole mammal took daddy-buck out in the bloom of fatherhood.  The Circle of Life, indeed.

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

I took this photograph in October of 2011:

I like the way the cloud above the roof resembles a whale, which was quite àpropos because the image looks out over the sea.  Twilight is my favorite time of day, and tree silhouettes are among my favorite things, although a silhouetted ocean view wins out over trees for me.

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

I took these pictures last August, a day or so after Hurricane Irene swept through our area with her winds and flooding rains.  The ribbon of water that you can see is the mostly receded Deerfield River.  While the picture is bucolic, the damage that was left behind was staggering.  Sometimes a far view misses critical facts you’d see from a closer perspective.

The sun was starting to set, and this is clearly a westward image.  The other photographs were taken looking to the south minutes before taking this shot.

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

Last Night’s Storm

A huge crash of lightning and thunder snapped me awake at 3 this morning.  I lay in bed, watching as flashes of light illuminated the room, as though my neighborhood was enduring a crush of paparazzi.  What honor brought the heavenly clamor to my home?

The continuing storm unnerved me as it seemed stalled over the house, the pouring rain seeking entrance through the windows I rushed to close against the barrage.  Once secure, I lay in bed, wondering if the electricity would go off, but it didn’t.

Soon the winds and driving rain slowed, and the steady drum of gentler rain lulled me back to sleep.

The bright morning’s freshness required my appreciation as I stood on my porch this morning.  The sunlight’s slant highlighted my coffee steaming in its mug as I savored the fresh world around me: the Forget-Me-Not blue sky, the smell of ozone-laden air, the sparkling water-dropleted grass, and the deep earthen scent rising from the ground made me believe that my beloved Earth was sentiently grateful for the night’s drenching as much as I was to witness it.

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

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

As for many of us, nature is where I find the most peace.  I took this picture from Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation several years ago when my son and I went up for a picnic before school started that year.  I visit the Reservation a few times a year, but try to go as often as I can.  You can drive up to the top from April through November (or before the first snowfall), but hiking up is a good trek as well.

It’s not just the river and mountain views that sooth me, but the bucolic scene spread out before me lends a peaceful sense of order and rhythm, and even if I’m off-kilter, I usually feel harmonious, or universally connected, on sunny, quiet days such as the one depicted here.

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

Hurricane Irene’s Aftermath

I am so grateful that Hurricane Irene was a tropical storm by the time she blew through Western Massachusetts, but enough rain fell on already saturated ground that we’ve seen some of the worst flooding in over half a century in this area and in many areas of Southern Vermont where one of my sisters lives.

I am lucky enough to be on higher ground, and we didn’t lose power, but many millions did lose power, as well as having to deal with floods and downed trees.

Here’s some photos of the Eunice Williams’ Covered Bridge – where I had jumped from just a few weekends ago – and now it’s near collapse from the Green River flooding yesterday.

Before the flood:

Eunice Williams Covered Bridge, pre-flood

During the flood:

Flooded Green River at Eunice Williams Covered Bridge
Another angle Eunice Williams Covered Bridge flood
Walkway side, Eunice Williams Covered Bridge during flood
Closer view of Eunice Williams Covered Bridge walkway during flood

In this shot, all the water flow to the right in front of the now broken concrete overflow section had been solid ground and trees the day before yesterday.

Reservoir Area now flooded over August 28, 2011

Here is some video footage I took of the flooded Green River:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlaOlZIGlhs

The Deerfield River (of which the Green River is a main tributary) was also at least ten feet above its banks, flooding from Vermont through Massachusetts, where it exits into the Connecticut River, which was swollen as well but not at its flood stage as of this morning.

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

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

The Tree of Damocles

On my hike at Franconia Notch, this tree was hanging in mid-air, caught up by the branches of two or three trees growing over the river bed.

It looks like the spring run-off, or one of the intense storms that sent a surge down the river, made this tree vault straight up, where it now hangs.

I didn’t capture the full view with my camera, but I tried to shoot where the broken tree’s branches were caught up with the live tree branches above the middle of the river bed.

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