2011 Christmas Day

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas every one!

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

Festive Photos

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

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

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

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

O Christmas Tree

I’m really enjoying my Christmas tree.  Part of me feels bad that a tree was cut down so I could bring it inside my house to decorate and light up, only to discard it a few weeks from now.  I’ve struggled with that dilemma the last few times I got a real Christmas tree.  I didn’t even have a tree last year, but it really cheers up the room.  I’ve bought artificial trees twice now, and used them until I became really allergic (because of all the dust they gather – and likely some mildew too from humid summer weather), and the best option is probably a potted live tree that I can plant in the spring.  Although, not only do I like a taller Christmas tree than is reasonable with a potted tree, I’d have to get permission from the landlord to plant it, or find some other land to plant the tree on.  Seeing the top of my tree nearly reach the ceiling is satisfying somehow, and no artificial tree has the lovely aroma of fresh pine – no matter how much they ‘scent’ it in the factory.

Many years ago, my next oldest sister and I, along with our younger brother, went to Florida to spend Christmas with our father and step-mother.  Our father didn’t want to get a Christmas tree, but we kids decided he and our step-mother needed one, so off my sister, brother, and I went the next day, while my father and step-mother were at work, and bought a beautiful potted Norfolk pine that stood about four and half feet high.

We also bought decorations for it, and after we adorned it, and lit the tree up, the house felt much more festive.  A year or so later, my step-mother sent me a picture of the pine, which they had planted in their back yard.  It had filled out beautifully and grown about six more feet.

I’ve always felt glad that we ignored my father’s ‘waste of time and money’ objections and got the tree.  Even though my father has been gone for several years, and he and my step-mother had divorced many years before that, I wonder about that tree every Christmas.  It must be fairly majestic by now, if it’s still there.

Maybe I’ll get a potted Norfolk pine for my Christmas tree next year, although I’m not sure it would take well in our frigid climes.

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

Trimmed Tree Pictorial Tale

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

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

Christmas trees look so much better in the dark!

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

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

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

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

Son Day

I’m so excited to see my son today!  I get to have him home an extra day for the Thanksgiving holiday, even though most of his time will be spent with his friends who are also coming home for the holiday.  Just knowing he’ll be here feels so good to me, although I know it feels nearly opposite to him.  It’s not that he doesn’t like being home and seeing me and his other family, it’s that his life is at school now, with his own group.  He told me he doesn’t sleep well when he’s home, and doesn’t know why.  I think it’s because he’d rather be in his world.  We will always belong to one another, but he has his own life now, one in which he sleeps better than when he’s here…

It made me sad to hear that, but I got over it.  It’s not personal in a mean way, it’s just life stages.  I had a really different childhood experience, and was separated too early from my mother, after her divorce from my father (which was a very good thing for all of us, but still disruptive and chaotic).  My son got to have a healthy, self-directed separation, and he’s so much less emotional or sentimental than I am, so it sucks for me…

We have the same sense of humor and like to talk about a myriad of subjects (when he’s willing to talk), but when he’s home and not with his friends, he prefers to spend his time reading or working on the computer.

I’m doing my best to find common interests to connect with him on, but it’s tough when our personalities and styles are so different.  Maybe if he ever has children, we’ll get to re-bond then.

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

All Hallows

Rabbit, Rabbit.  The ancient Celtic year begins today, marking the start of winter.  Winter was already ushered in rather harshly with our recent Nor’easter dumping thirty inches of snow in some areas.  I feel lucky that my town escaped with just over a foot of the heavy, wet snow.  I was only out of power for part of a day, while some of my friends are yet to get back their electricity.

Yesterday, I visited my Mom because her phone was out and I wanted to make sure she made it through the storm alright, even though I know that one of my aunts was staying with her, and the guy who works for her and lives nearby would also have checked on her and I figured I’d have gotten a call if anything bad had happened.  Then I thought that all phone service in the area might be out, and I just wanted to visit regardless of anything else.  I was a bit worried that fallen trees or downed wires would prevent me from making it to my mother’s house, and it might well have earlier in the day because I saw evidence of cleared trees and other debris all the way there.

It was almost evening when I arrived, and I brought a flashlight in case it was dark by the time I left.  My mom doesn’t have electricity or running water, so the storm changed nothing for her except interrupted phone service.

The glow of the kerosene lamps, and warmth from the wood stove, enveloped and welcomed me even as I was welcomed by my mother and aunt.  They were happy for my unexpected company and we chatted about the snowstorm’s effects, and how weird it was to have a major storm before Hallowe’en, as we sipped coffee and evening began settling in.  I don’t know if it was the time of day and the way the lamplight glowed and cast slight shadows on the walls, or the steamed windows and cooking smells from whatever dinner my mother was making, or simply spending time with my mother and one of her sisters, but there was something so extraordinary about being there that I noticed and enjoyed in the moment, and that feeling, or experience, actually, has stayed with me since.

I left before it was dark and made my way up the path without needing my flashlight.  I noticed the stillness of the woods around me as I walked, and had a sense of being present to life in a way that I rarely sense.

I got up this morning and began working on things that I often think about doing rather than starting – or finishing.  I feel my life changing, almost radically (for the better), and I hope that’s true.

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

Spooky Hallowe’en!

Jack-O'Lantern in the snow

I’m looking out the window at the six inches of snow still on the ground, and it’s hard to get into the Hallowe’en mood.  There are still green leaves on many trees around here, and we haven’t really had a proper autumn.  These climate change indicators suck.  We had a hurricane two months ago, along with a record-breaking flood.  We had a tornado two months before that, which decimated several areas in Massachusetts.  If you had said that we’d have a tornado and a hurricane, a record-breaking flood, as well as record-breaking early snowfall, I’d have packed my bags and moved to – where?  Is there any place relatively unaffected?  We’ve had tornadoes for the past several years now, not like they do in the flatter mid-west, of course, but it is extremely unusual weather for this area, and it’s frightening how common it’s becoming.  I’d rather go through a haunted house or see a scary movie – at least I know that has an ending.

I suppose climate change is the spook this year, and giving it candy and sending it on its way is not going to appease it.  Any smashed eggs or strewn toilet paper tricksters might dole out do not usually cause dire consequences, however annoying it may be to clean up, but getting the power back on after heavy snows brought wires down and cut off electric service to millions, is not so easily remedied.

Trick-or-Treat, indeed!

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P.S. For anyone who looked for the hidden object in yesterday’s post, I updated the post with a photo pointing to the object.  Cheers!

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

Too Young To Trick-or-Treat On My Own

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallowe’en Decorating

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Stitch In Time

When I was about five or six, my family moved into a two-story house heated by steam radiation.  I used to try spinning on the twist knobs at the bottom of the cast iron radiators, and managed a three-quarter turn.  I stopped my efforts at a full turn when I fell and got a black eye after hitting the knob. 

My older sisters and brothers used to scare me and my little brother around Hallowe’en by taunting us before bedtime with a ghostly sounding chant of: “There’s a bad guy in the window!”, starting low and soft and reaching a high crescendo after the third or fourth refrain, and we’d run screaming up to our rooms.  A night or so before Hallowe’en that year, my brothers got the bright idea of cutting out a cardboard silhouette of a man, placing it in the upstairs window near my bedroom, and illuminating it with a flashlight behind the curtain.

While the 'bad guy' in the window didn't look like this, this drawing I found is creepy enough to represent what it looked like to me.

I got so scared when I saw it, especially because one of my sisters was chanting the ‘bad guy’ theme just before my brothers moved to reveal the cut-out, or somehow made sure I saw it.  I ran screaming with my hands over my eyes and my head down, directly into one of the cast iron radiators.  I cut the top of my head open so deep that my mother had to bring me to the hospital to get stitches.

I remember that when we got to the hospital and they were cleaning the wound, the nurse told me that the doctor was going to sew me up, but if I needed him to stop, just tell her it hurt, and they’d stop.  I was lying face down in a pillow, and yelled as loud as I could for them to stop because it hurt so much, but they didn’t listen.  My only consolation was that it took three nurses to hold me still enough for the doctor to finish sewing up the wound.  I was so mad at that nurse for tricking me.

Being lied to about pain when I was a child led me to always tell my son that shots, or stitches, etc., would indeed hurt, but that I believed he could handle it, and it would be over as quickly as possible.  Thankfully, there weren’t many times I needed to prepare him for pain.

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

Shivering Wind, Blustery Day

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Image via Wikipedia

Fluffy white, cotton-ball clouds are moving lazily through the bright-blue sky misleading viewers to the tempestuous scene closer to the ground as furious gusts of wind threaten to blow open the door and windows as I sit here typing this.

The young maple tree across the street is ablaze with orange and red leaves, the sunlight making them shimmer and glow as the wind tears at the leaves clinging defiantly to their branches, while hundreds of their brethren are ripped into the sky, a rain of color and twisting shapes in a flora danse macabre.

Leaves piled in a building’s alcove swirl up and around in a whirlwind, settling back down in drifts, and swirled around again in the next updraft.  Some of the leaves resemble tiny kites performing acrobatics, flying higher and higher until the wind changes and the leaves zig-zag gracefully down, or plummet violently in a wind shear.

This blustery day reminds me of Piglet and Pooh Bear, and I am once again missing my son and the happy hours we spent reading Winnie The Pooh, and watching the videos.  I have seen the movies, and read the books with the other children I watch, but it’s not the same.  I realize that I want another baby, but only if the circumstances were right.  I also know that desiring another child is a passing fancy, borne of the exciting autumn winds, and upcoming Hallowe’en, my favorite holiday.

I’ll decorate my house for my inner kid, who still craves the not-too-scary thrill of ghost stories around a bonfire with friends, and shivers in delight when the wind rattles the windows during the night, and the bare tree branches against the twilight and night sky look menacing, as though they could reach out and grab unsuspecting passers-by.

Maybe I’ll buy a pumpkin or two to carve later.  I’ve already been eating some of the candy I bought for Trick-or-Treaters, so I have to steel my will against eating any more, and buy what I don’t like next time!

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

Good Dog

My friend’s dog died two weeks ago.  He was one of my favorite dogs.  I met him a few years ago at a party I attended at my friend’s house.  I had a plate of food and sat down outside and there were at least twenty other party guests sitting around with a plate of food on their lap, but Cooper decided that he wanted to sit next to me.  He followed me all day long even though I never offered, or dropped, a bite of food.  I didn’t know it then, but we had just become friends.

Any time I went to my friends’ house after that, Cooper would follow me around and be so happy when I would pet him or pay attention to him.  He was a sweet bulldog and I’m so happy I got to know him.

I went to my friend’s house tonight after a fun night out on the town, and we were so full of our evening that I didn’t even absorb Cooper’s absence until I went into their living room, and it hit me so fully that he is gone.  I was misty-eyed as I remarked that it was so weird that Cooper wasn’t there, and my friend’s husband said: ‘here he is’, and pointed to the pretty box with his ashes.  I held the box for a while, even though I know Cooper’s soul isn’t in there, but I really felt that beautiful dog’s presence in the room with us.

There are very few times in one’s life that the feeling of unconditional love is encompassing, and tonight was one of those nights.  My friends said that Cooper’s spirit now lives on ‘Bulldog Island’.  When I was a child, and our dog had to be put down, my father told me that she went to live in the ‘happy hunting grounds’.

All I really know is that Cooper was a good dog, and he will be missed.

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

Thinking Of My Father

It was my father’s birthday yesterday.  He died in 2003 and I miss him a lot sometimes.  He had some charming qualities like his sense of humor, and his charismatic personality.  His moods and actions could change in an eye blink, but when he was ‘on’ there was no better entertainment around.  He was highly intelligent and quick-witted, as well as tall and handsome.

I sense him around me sometimes when I work out at the gym.  If it’s truly his spirit I feel, and not just my active imagination, I guess he approves of me taking care of my body.

I miss hearing him say: ‘Oh, run down, tired, used up – doing just fine’ – or several variations – when I’d call and ask him how he was.  He could bark exactly like Dino from, The Flintstones, and could make up fantastic ditties, poems and limericks on the spot.  He told me that he had gotten drunk at a party one time in his twenties and began ‘speaking in tongues’.  There was a woman at the party who told him he had just spoken perfect Gaelic.  My father is Scots-Irish, but never knew any Gaelic.

It’s unfortunate that we never developed a better relationship, but I am forever grateful that he apologized to me for his violence and terror when I was a child, and for not being the parent he should have been.  Regardless of that being somewhat ‘too little, too late’, it is certainly better than not at all.

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

Cape Cod!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is how the day looked once I got outside:

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

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

I Spy October

Rabbit, rabbit!  October feels like an appropriate month to open with a folklore-ish incantation.  As I trudge my way into the dark months, October at least carries a supernatural mystique as the month ends with All Hallow’s Eve.

I enjoy the metaphor of the changing leaves; their often brilliant, sometimes muted, but always beautiful colors defiantly – or perhaps joyously – meeting their end.  I hope to meet my death fearlessly and spectacularly!  I’d rather not have anyone piling my body with others to jump in, though, or leaving me out on the lawn.  Let the metaphor end with the flamboyant dying thing…

My favorite thing about October is Halloween and the excitement leading up to it.  The two boys that I do occasional childcare for, and I, made construction paper Jack-o’-lantern’s the other day, and the older boy drew a skeleton that was quite good.  He could be an amazing artist if he enjoys it enough to pursue it.  The younger boy, always wanting to copy his brother, yet make it his own, drew a skeleton with a pumpkin head.  The older boy started to criticize it, but I nipped that little dig in the bud, and told them how each one was unique and fantastic.  I know that’s what older siblings often do to younger ones – I was a fifth child out of six – but I do not let slights go unchallenged.  The younger one has enough gumption when encouraged to stick up for himself, but I also see how the older brother’s chiding affects his younger brother’s esteem.  They know, with me at least, it’s fair play, and helpful words, or time out.

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

Missed It By ‘This’ Much

Dammit, younger me!  I was back fifteen years ago for a few moments, clearly and completely.  The experience was less picture memory, and more intense sensory memory;

I was in San Diego, California, when I lived in the Clairemont neighborhood with a woman who remains one of my best friends, and her two girls, one of whom was five, and the other was two.  I liked living in that area, but I was failing in my life, nearly ending it before I was able to get help and start my healing journey.  I was trying with all that I had to be well and do well.  I took a small computer systems course that condensed a two-year program into eight months.  My son was four, and attending pre-school. When I picked him up in the afternoon, we’d play, and then I’d get dinner ready, and after dinner I got my son ready for bed, reading a book and lying down with him, rubbing his back until he fell asleep – or he didn’t fall asleep until I did – which was awful on the nights that no matter what I did he wouldn’t go to sleep.  Then I’d do homework until about 2:30 or 3am – every night – except weekends when I had the luxury of studying some during the day, and I wonder why I was such an emotional wreck!  I applied for dozens of jobs after the course and my internship was over, and all of the places I applied wanted someone with at least two years experience.

In our current political climate, I’d be told that I didn’t make a good choice, and if I wasn’t ‘making it’, it must be my fault, and too bad I wasn’t smart enough, or working as hard as those who were successful. But, I digress…

I wish I could convey what a complete experience being back there again was, but words can only lead – they cannot fully represent.  Words can suggest, hint, attempt, but they cannot encompass.  Encompassing requires several levels of sensation, and understanding requires being present, otherwise you can only approximate an experience.  Alas, it was gone before I could fully appreciate the scene.  It was a simple, ordinary slice of my life back then, and if it ever happens again I hope I get to stay there longer!

I tend to think I’ve heard, or read about, or encountered, everything life is capable of, and then I get surprised by a new paradigm.  Life sure has been an interesting trip.

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

On The Eve Of My Son’s 21st Birthday

Twenty-one years ago I was pregnant with my son.  I had wanted more children, but it didn’t work out that way.  I can still have a child, but wouldn’t want to.  It was a beautiful, balmy, late September day today, but it started out more overcast and muggy than it was twenty-one years ago.  It was sunny by this afternoon, and I decided to take a drive in the hills.  The leaves are just starting to turn, but the scenery was lovely anyway.

All those years ago I had woken up feeling fine, and had to run some errands.  My mother was staying with me at my apartment in Vernon, Vermont, to help out after my son’s birth.  I began feeling strange shortly after waking up, but thought it was just Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I went about my day, driving my mother into Brattleboro later that afternoon to do some grocery shopping.  While we were at the grocery store, I began feeling more odd and nauseated, but I didn’t feel like I was having contractions because I had some serious contractions the week before and gone to the hospital in the middle of the night where I was chided by the nurse on duty for not knowing false contractions from true ones.  If it were all happening again, I’d tell her what a stupid thing that was to say to someone who, a) never had a baby before, and 2) could have been in real labor regardless of what she thought.  I know she was just taking out her bad day on me, but I wish I had been more outspoken back then!

So, I reluctantly went to the hospital so that they could run a monitor strip on me to check contractions.  I got to the hospital around 5pm, and my mother and I were put in a room and the nurse on duty asked us if we wanted something to eat while we were waiting as it was dinner time.  I had some peanut butter crackers because I wasn’t feeling very well, but thought I should eat something, and my mother got a meal.  It was after 6pm by this time, and I was still waiting for the nurse to come and hook me up to the monitor when my water broke.  My mother started laughing as I blurted out “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit”, while trying unsuccessfully to make it into the bathroom – as though I had an uncontrolled bladder issue…

The nurse came in moments later and said: “Well, you’re not going anywhere now!”  I got moved into a room in The Birthing Center, and I told my mother she could just take my car back to my apartment until I had the baby and would have my sister drive me back, but my mother no longer had her license and didn’t feel comfortable driving in the dark anyway.  My sister was living fairly close to the hospital so she was able to get Mom and have my brother-in-law bring her back to the apartment after my birth coach arrived.

My son’s dad was living in New Jersey during the week for work and told me he couldn’t get back until that Friday night or Saturday morning, and it was only Tuesday.  That was disappointing, but not really unexpected.  My birth coach, Ruth, was a friend I had known since college, and she had two teenaged girls and was probably the best person to have with me.  I had decided to forgo any drugs, and even an episiotomy.  (I’m just grateful being tied to a tree wasn’t still in vogue.)  I was determined to do everything ‘right’.  I ended up with forty-two stitches that my doctor said would have been less if I had let her do an episiotomy.  Lesson learned, doc!

Not to be too graphic, but my response to the more intense contractions was throwing up.  Ruth ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I was resting, and I had to ask her to please chew some gum, or somehow get rid of the smell of peanut butter on her breath because it was making me more nauseated than I already was.

She laughed because I was worried about hurting her feelings.  At the height of contractions (nearing the, literally, eleventh hour of labor) I told Ruth that I didn’t think I could keep doing it, and to her great credit she didn’t laugh at me, or roll her eyes, but just squeezed my hand and told me that I could, in fact, see it through.  I didn’t freak out and scream like the clichéd ‘woman having a baby’ motif, but it was the hardest, most painful, experience I’ve ever endured.  After my doctor sewed me up I told her that I was never going to have another baby.  She said “If I had a nickel for every patient that said that, I could retire now!”

At 5:49am on September 26, 1990, I gave birth to an 8 lb.,1 oz., 19.5 inch long, beautiful boy.  He remains the absolute best thing I have done in my life, and I would do it all again.

I love you, my dear son, more than I have ever loved anyone else.  I am so happy I got to be your Mom.

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

September 11th, 2011

Ten years ago I had woken up around six-thirty am, so sick I could barely see, and called my upstairs neighbor whose son and mine went to the same school, to ask her if she could bring my son to school.

I woke my son up to get ready for school, telling him our neighbor would bring him in.  Not only was I physically sick, but I was so emotionally distraught that I was telling my son how sorry I was for anything I had ever done, or that he was sad about, and that I loved him and wanted him to be okay in his life.  I’m sure it frightened him but I had no control over what was happening to me and thought I might not make it through the day.  I was sobbing and hugged my son goodbye, telling him I loved him.  I suppose I should have gone to a hospital, but I just wanted to go back to bed.

Several hours later I woke up feeling much better, and realized I had missed an appointment so I called to apologize and reschedule.  The woman on the phone sounded incredulous that I’d be calling over something so petty as she said “don’t you know we’re under attack?”  I said, “What?!”, and she said, “Haven’t you been watching TV, or listening to what’s happened?!”  I felt defensive and responded that I was ill and just got up and hadn’t done anything yet except to call her office.  She softened her tone a bit and told me to go turn on the TV, and then we hung up.

It was just after ten am, and I couldn’t fully grasp what had happened for quite a while, and in a daze from whatever strange illness (now gone) that had overtaken me, and the events that had happened while I slept, I got dressed and drove to my son’s school to bring him home early, and went to pick up my mother to come be with us, and then I rented four comedies that I cannot remember the titles of.  I find it interesting now that in my shock I wanted my son, and my mother, and to laugh.

There was a gathering in the local park for anyone who wanted to process the attacks as a community, and I went to that, still in shock. It felt so incongruous that it was such a gorgeous, sunny day.  It seemed that it should have been raining and dark at the very least.

It took several weeks to really process it all, and I canceled going to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park within the first few days of the attack because Boston was on alert for terrorist attacks, and Fenway Park was a target – as was anywhere with a large gathering of people at that point.  Nothing happened, of course, and I’ve always regretted not going as though by that act I let the terrorists win, but I wasn’t willing to put my son or myself in danger for an ideal.

During that time I found out how much my son was affected by the attacks when he told me he was afraid that the terrorists were going to blow up the bridge we drove over every day on the way to and from his school.  I told him that the terrorists wanted to harm what they perceived as our money and power centers most of all, and that I hoped he could stop feeling afraid because now that we were aware that some people wanted to cause America harm, it would be much harder for them to do that again.

I think it took about six years before I stopped being so hyper-vigilant about traveling, especially because I flew to San Diego in 2005 and there was a high terror alert when I changed planes in Maryland.  I suppose it was good to be aware, but unless I wanted to take a bus home from there, there wasn’t much I could do about it.  It was a very anxious plane ride back to Hartford that night, and while I love flying, I’ve not been able to relax on a commercial flight since September 11th, 2001, and that fear has only been reinforced by the various attempts at blowing up a plane since then.

I thought about my sickness that morning of the terrorist attacks, and how utterly emotionally out of control I was, and I believe I had an empathic premonition of the attacks.  I have no other explanation for the extreme state I was in, and how it was gone a few hours later when I woke up, except for feeling somewhat groggy.

I am so sad for the loss of life that occurred, and sadder that it led our country into a war on false premises.  We lost far more people in Iraq through the actions of a President and politicians opportunistically ramming through their agendas while the populace cowered in fear and allowed actions to be taken in our name which we would never have allowed otherwise.

If there is a prayer-answering God, I pray that will never happen again, but I understand humanity well enough to know that we’ll always be duped when you drape the flag across whatever crisis you’re trying to sell and shame people into feeling unpatriotic if they disagree.  Now I need to go get some Freedom Fries and slap a magnetic yellow ribbon bumper sticker on my car…

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

County Fair

This is the weekend of our yearly county fair and it’s always fun.  I only like roller coasters these days, so the rides don’t attract me, but I enjoy people-watching, and looking at all the offerings of food and merchandise.

It’s still hilarious to walk down the game aisle, listening to the hawkers trying to draw customers in.  My favorite is the Quarter Game.  It’s an easy win game that takes in a lot of money because there’s no limit to how many people can place quarters on a square.  The game isn’t gaffed because the house already always takes in much more than it gives out.

I like seeing if I can figure out how the other games are gaffed.  I read an article on that once, but can’t remember how most of the games cheat the player.  Several games cost so much to participate now that it’s not worth trying to win something.

The fairs in my area are mostly agricultural, and have sheep-shearing and cow-milking contests during the day, as well as all the prizes for best in show for all the farm animals and poultry entered.  Farmers, gardeners and other hobbyists enter their produce or creative works in the hopes of taking first prize, and the big parade that officially opens the Fair is also a prize-winning venture for the best float.

During the Fair there are tractor-pulls and pig races, comedians, magicians, and even a death-defying act or two.  The biggest draw is still the Demolition Derby held on the last day of the Fair.  I think my favorite aspect is the food.  It’s the only time I eat fried dough (with maple cream) from one of the local farm vendors, and of course, french fries with salt and vinegar.  They never taste as good as they do any other time I’ve had them outside of the Fair.

I used to go with my mother and my son every year, which my son tolerated for his Grandmother’s sake as he entered his teens.  He’d spend the day with us and go off with his friends for the rides in the evening.

It’s especially fun to see people I almost only see at the Fair, whether they be vendors, or the bathroom attendant who has such a big personality that I’m sure she garners the most tips.  She told me that she travels to all the fairs up and down the Eastern Seaboard during the summer and fall, and makes enough money to live on the rest of the year.  I can’t imagine doing that for a living, but it obviously works for her as this is the sixth year I’ve seen her at the Fair.

There is something about a carnival atmosphere where personality aspects not normally present are coaxed out – much like Halloween.  I feel like that most of the time around my group, but it’s so fun when others meet me there.

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

Cruisin’ Back To School

My son and I rode to Boston this morning.  He drove and I did my best not to be anxious.  I had to trust, yet again, that he was paying close attention.  Even if the potential consequence was a smashed car and no injuries, I can’t afford losing my vehicle, or having to get major repairs.  I got a ticket for speeding on our last trip back from Boston, and I made sure to stay with traffic this time, or to only go a few miles above the speed limit.  I, unfortunately, love driving fast.  It is so hard for me to plod along wasting my time driving when life is waiting for me to get where I need to be.  I am not one of those who looks at the journey as part of the experience unless I’m traveling where I’ve never been.  If I could teleport, that probably wouldn’t be fast enough for me most of the time.  I want to live in the future and be able to come back to the past at my leisure while everyone else is catching up with me.

The hundred-dollar ticket would have been worth it if my insurance didn’t also go up as a result.  Today, ironically, I didn’t pass one police cruiser on the way home, but the people behind me sure were annoyed with my reasonable travel speed when the double-lane road changed to two-way traffic.  I could have driven in the breakdown lane to let people pass, which I sometimes do, but I was going over the speed limit, so they needed to wait to pass me on a straightaway, and glared at me as they went by.  I always hope that people like that will be stopped up ahead because I appreciate a good comeuppance, but I also hate it when that happens to me, so I just thought: ‘whatever’, as they zoomed out of sight.

Driving in Boston is always a hassle when school’s starting up because people triple park sometimes, or the usual two lanes which are already choked with traffic becomes one lane for miles, and blaring horns are just a pressure release valve because no one can go anywhere no matter how long or insistently they beep.  I’ve become better at not adding to gridlock.  I’ve learned to stop before a cross-walk, or at a yellow light, if I can see that traffic up beyond the intersection isn’t moving.  I try to drive considerately, and I have had excellent luck driving into and out of Boston over the last few years.  It helps that I’m getting to know the city somewhat as well.

I do think I could enjoy living in the city but, like most other people, I’d rather live outside of the constant din of traffic and people.  I’d rather have my home in a more bucolic setting and my career in the frenetic city center.

My son’s dorm is closer to the campus center this year, and I hope that will be a nice change for him.  He’s anxious about the work-load and being disciplined enough to maintain decent grades, and I reminded him that his scholarships depend upon him staying at a B average.  He’s motivated enough that a poor mid-term showing would kick him into high gear, but it’s more stressful that way.  I was one of those students whose every paper turned in may as well have been soaked with sweat for how hard I had to work at it, and while other classmates of mine breezed through and gathered A’s, I rarely got higher than a B for my efforts.

My son will get through it, regardless of the stress or ease, and it will be sooner than he could imagine now.

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

Six and Four

That’s how old the boys are that I provide child care for occasionally, and spent my day with at a lake yesterday.  I used to watch them regularly but changed jobs last year.  The older boy was just two months old when I started the job.

My son was in full-blown adolescence then so it was perfect work for me to watch a child who needed and wanted me as my child was pulling away.  The difference between my son as a baby and the baby I was caring for was so stark.  I didn’t know a child could be so easy to care for.  My son’s pediatrician told me that my son was a ‘high need’ baby as I sat in his office back then, crying from lack of sleep and feeling so inadequate as a parent, and indeed, I was nursing him every two hours, which continued for seven months before he stopped nursing so voraciously, and he was colicky as well.  My mother came to help me during that time, while my son’s father was two states away at his job, coming back on weekends.  My son’s father and I weren’t happy as it was, and having a child only put more stress on our relationship.  We broke up and I moved out when our son turned a year old.

When my friend’s second boy was born, I began watching him at two weeks old, and he was an easy baby as well.  I loved caring for those boys.  It was so good for me because I wasn’t watching a whole group of children as I did when I worked at a daycare center, and I didn’t have twenty-four hour responsibility for them.

I still had parenting duties with my son, even though it wasn’t very joyful anymore, but I had enough positive experiences that dealing with my son’s adolescent angst and unpredictability was more manageable than it might have been.

I would give my son hugs and tell him that I loved him every day, as he stood there, arms by his side, at least allowing me to hug him briefly.  I would say that although he was rapidly changing, I was not, so it was going to take me far longer to adjust.  It was so painful for me to go from living with a boy who wanted to be with me, who called out to me several times a day that he loved me, who enjoyed spending time with me, to the stranger who I now occupied the same physical space with, but could hardly be further from emotionally.  Oh, and did I mention I was living with treatment-resistant depression, and I was a single parent?

I might have screwed up far more than I did with my son if it hadn’t been for my childcare job.  As the boys got older, they were somewhat in awe of my son, especially the older boy I watched.  When my son was there the older boy wanted to follow him around and it was sometimes a challenge to help my son have private space when the boys were with me.  I would usually see if my son could spend time with one of his friends during school vacations or days when I had the boys and my son was around.

I took those boys on many adventures during our days together, but our favorite pastime was finding cows.  I’d drive them to farms and we’d visit with cows and read books about cows, and while other animals were included, cows ruled.

I don’t think I could love those kids anymore if they were my own, and I’m so grateful when I get to watch them now.  The last few times I spent with them, the older boy has been questioning me about why they don’t see me that much.  I explained that I had another job, and they have school now, and days that I could see them their schedule and mine didn’t work that often.  He looked at me and said, “Well, we just don’t see you enough.”

So, I can’t get adult relationships right in my life, but I have a six year-old who knows how to work a room!  Yesterday before I left he hugged me and said “I just don’t want to let go.”  I said, “I know, me either!”  The younger boy and I have a happy, loving, and super fun connection too, but the older boy knows how to articulate what he’s feeling, and isn’t shy about telling me.

I have to figure out how to spend more time with them because they’re going to be seven and five in a few months, and the opportunities to spend significant time with them grows slimmer with each year.  While I so enjoy working with children, it can also be heart-wrenching.

I’ll be bringing my son back to college in a week, and he’ll be back home for Thanksgiving and his winter vacation, but he won’t be back next summer.  We know we love one another, and our bond is solid, but he’s a man now – no matter how much I wished to keep him a boy – and I feel the grief about losing him rising up all over again.  I don’t need to be consoled through platitudes or pity – not that anyone is trying to – but I do need a new purpose and I don’t know where to go or what to do yet.

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

Long Ago Summer Night

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, by, Meatloaf, is playing on a humid July night. I’m reading Pardon Me, You’re Stepping On My Eyeball, by Paul Zindel, on the hood of a friend’s Chevy Cavalier, waiting for a few of my other friends to show up and decide what we’re going to do with the rest of the night.

It’s quiet on the Avenue, but I hear the strains of Meatloaf out of the jukebox coming from the bar next door, and I look up from my reading to watch the moths and other night bugs swirl around, looking like aberrant snowflakes in the street light above the car I’m perched on.

My shorts and top cling to me in the sticky humidity, and I hope we decide to go swimming in the Green River, or at the Leyden Glen.  We had been removed from there by police officers the week before, but they couldn’t be there all the time, so we took our chances going back on hot, humid nights.

I had worked at, Zapmia Pizza (baby), earlier that evening, and was glad to be done with my shift on such a hot day. I was anxious to meet up with my friends, and hoped they would show up soon.  Debbie was the first to arrive. I was so absorbed in my book that I didn’t notice her until she hopped up onto the car hood, causing it to buckle a little as she plunked down, but the hood popped back up as she shifted her weight toward the center next to me.

We exchanged greetings and then chatted about the book for a few minutes, and finally other friends started arriving so we made our evening plans.

I remembered this so strongly tonight that I could feel the night air around me as I did back then, and hear how the music sounded muffled until a patron went in or out of the bar and the music would blast out from the entrance for a few moments until the door was shut once again.

While I don’t miss that time of my life, and especially what was happening to me, I dearly miss my friends and the closeness we shared.  A part of my soul is back there with them – maybe it’s even trapped in some odd space/time continuum – or perhaps less trapped than enshrined.  I get to visit the museum exhibit in my mind, but it’s an empty picture of the vibrant life that was actually there.

They were the people who knew and understood me on a level that no one else will ever come close to, but they live on in my heart and soul, and I hope I live on in theirs.

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

The Wild Ride

It was in the high nineties yesterday.  I helped my mom run some errands and then we had lunch and I brought her home.  The path down to her place made me feel like I was walking through a rainforest with the sounds of various bird calls, insects, and the weak sun filtering through the tree canopy on such a hazy, humid day.  I imagined that life was this way before we humans arrived, and would continue long after we leave (provided the Earth hasn’t been sucked into the sun by then – or whatever event precedes Earth’s demise).

I knew a storm was forecast for later in the day, and as I drove home, I could feel it coming on.  My gas warning light came on a few miles before I was near a gas station, but I was fairly confident I would make it as long as I didn’t have to idle anywhere.  I vaguely wondered if it would use more gas to turn off and on my engine if I did get stuck in traffic, but I wasn’t hindered by anything.

As I pulled into the gas station, however, the ominous clouds I had seen forming on the far horizon were now headed over the gas station canopy, while another cloud bank was converging into the one over me.  There was eerie greenish light in the storm clouds and a fierce wind picked up while torrential rain poured down.  I don’t know why I didn’t just stay there and wait out the storm.  I think I was worried about the gas station not being a safe place to be, so I pulled out, barely able to see through the rain pounding my windshield, even with the wipers on fast.  Traffic was stopped at a tree that had fallen across the road, so I made a U-turn to take another street.  I watched the tree limbs above me bending and swaying and while I was prepared to stop quickly, I had already decided to keep moving unless forced to stop.

I took the least tree-lined route, instead of my usual one, and at first I thought I had gone the best way; the rain had lessened in intensity, but the storm continued with lightning flashing and the wind still whipping as I turned up another side street hoping to avoid traffic or any accidents.  There was a tree in the road ahead of me, and a pick-up truck drove over to my side of the road, narrowly missing me as the driver careened around the tree and then corrected to get past my car.  I rounded the corner to see another tree down, but it had fallen at an angle with a gap large enough for my car to pass under it – which was really dumb of me, I know – but I was in amygdala/panic mode, not neo-cortex/processing mode.  I got through that to see another tree up ahead and someone ahead of me getting out of their car to check it out.  I put my window down and yelled at her not to touch anything if there was a wire down.  She ran back a moment later saying that there was a wire in the road.

My car has four-wheel drive and I told her I could avoid most of the tree top by driving up the hill around it, and she told me she was going to follow me.  I knew it would be easy to navigate that, and I waited to make sure the other driver got around it before continuing on.  I called the police to let them know that three trees and a wire were down on that road.  There were lots of tree limbs and other debris scattered about the road, but no more whole trees.  The storm was passing and I had turned on my radio after leaving the gas station in case there were any emergency broadcasts, but there was only regular programming.  I thought that was weird because it was such an intense storm, but I guess I was unlucky enough to be at the head of it.

The shape of the storm front reminded me of some kind of alien craft.  The entire edge was rounded while lower clouds were being kneaded into the larger mass, and it was very fast-moving.  I feel stupid now that my last act could have been putting gas into my car and trying to dodge being tornado fodder.  The best thing I could have done was to go inside the store and wait out the storm, or at least park beside the nearby open field.  I’m not sure getting into a ditch would have been a good idea unless I actually saw a funnel cloud because the rain was pouring so hard the ditches were flash-flooding.  Death by drowning might have been preferable to being sucked up into a tornado, but that’s a tough call.  Thankfully, I didn’t need to choose.

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