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.