Frozen World

our iced over back yard SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

It was -0.6°F when I looked at the weather station around 8:30 a.m..  Glancing out the kitchen window made me pause, the whole back yard looked like a badly groomed skating rink, but I still wish I had a pair of ice skates.  I wouldn’t last very long at that temperature, but it could have been a fun (or disastrous) ride down our hill to the back field where my favorite Willow trees grace the tree line.

I wondered what it would have been like to live here before humanity figured out how to build houses.  Would I be huddled with my tribe in the woods?  Like the Inuit, or other Peoples, we would have figured it out of necessity – which is how any of our modern world came to be, really.  Once we decided on permanent settlements, becoming farmers and builders instead of hunter/gatherer nomads, we became ever more elaborate, continuing to separate ourselves from the land all the while.

I’m not complaining.  I’d rather have modernity than be huddled together in some sheltered spot for warmth, but I haven’t left the house in two days, so perhaps I’m not all that far from ancient ancestors.  Cold weather is like pain for me – I avoid it as much as possible.  I would move to warmer climes, but my life is here for now because of finances and family obligations, however gladly met.

This time of year is the toughest – but the season is turning, the light increasing, and my isolation is more by choice than by circumstances.  Depression dulls my activity, keeping my world small, but staying removed only increases my distress.  It’s a terrible syndrome, especially during the dark, lonelier months, but writing here helps because I feel more connected to my readers, and to those blogs I read, or discover through tags or recommendations.

There is also a loveliness of a winter morning’s quiet, as though the landscape is caught in the Snow Queen‘s frozen spell, and while I like the afternoon light, Emily Dickinson’s poem often comes to mind: (from The Poetry Foundation)

There’s a certain Slant of light (320)

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
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Reprinted electronically by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983, 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Although I resonate with that poem, the afternoon light isn’t oppressive when it hits the top of the three towering Willows, emblazoning their top branches in glowing yellow-orange light, gladdening my heart to see it.

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

 

All I Want For Christmas Is A Valium

My family came to celebrate our Christmas gathering on the Solstice, which worked out nicely for my mother and me, the two de facto pagans in the bunch.  My mother is more of a ‘in fact’ pagan as she follows the religion and I just like their ideas more than I like any other ideas, religious or spiritually speaking.

Mostly, I like the return of the light.  Summer cannot get here fast enough now.  Winter is still and lovely at times, but it’s also cold and depressing for me.  Spring is sweeter than I want to admit here, but I live for the season that won’t be here for several more months – so suck it up, I must.

Out of my two sisters, one doesn’t like me much, and no matter what I do, my actions, or inaction, are interpreted in the worst way.  My other sister and I get along much better, and we have mutual respect for each other, but religion will always be our barrier.

The brother who showed up is the youngest of our bunch, and because he’s intelligent and relatively typical, I forget that his brain is different.  He’s in the autism spectrum, as well as being a trauma survivor.  Various medications have left him paranoid at times, or haven’t helped his depression and anger.  He’s got a better doctor, new medication, and seems more even than I’ve seen him in a while, but he’s involved with an active alcoholic who only likes him when she’s drunk, but my brother has such low self-regard that he takes it.

He was hit by a car while riding his bike last summer and is waiting for his settlement to get a car again and maybe elevate his living circumstances, but I get the feeling this new love interest of his is just waiting around to see what she can get out of him, because he was also talking about the things he’d like to do for her once he has some money.  It’s good to be generous, but he doesn’t get that people suck and ‘hurt people, hurt people’.  I’ve never met the woman, but from the few times he’s spoken of her, she seems like a bucket of trouble.  Not that my brother isn’t, but he doesn’t need a bigger trouble-bucket, and because his brain doesn’t connect well socially, he cannot listen to reason, or accept that he’s being used.  Again.  For like the thousandth time.

No, you can’t have his number.

Then my S.O.’s family came to our place for Christmas Eve dinner, and while they’re nice people, and I love his folks, his brother’s kid isn’t given clear boundaries or consequences.  He was given an acoustic guitar among his presents, which he proceeded to slam on like he was a slash rocker, and every feeble ‘stop that’ resulted in about five seconds of quiet followed by doubled-down ‘playing’.  I’m still a nobody but I wanted to grab the guitar and show him how some rockers use to leave hotel rooms, or finish their shows in equipment destruction.  If one of his parents had taken the damn thing away from him and told him he could have it back when they left, or some other obvious solution, it could have been a nice end to the night.  As it is, I am investing in noise cancelling headphones for next year.

My boyfriend said that in past years, their son would jump on my boyfriend’s couch, and his parents half-halfheartedly told him to stop, which the kid never did because the parents suck at follow-through.  Because my boyfriend is family, he could have intervened, but he feels it’s the parents job to manage their child’s behavior.

I hate that I’m also the slowest eater of the bunch, and around the dinner table, the kid kept whispering to his father about how much longer I was going to take.  I took even longer after that.  It was immature, I know, but revenge is still sweet as he had to sit there and wait for me to finish.

After that, I excused myself, and like the Rolling Stones intoned many years ago, I went ‘running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper‘ – Valium.  The evening became much more enjoyable, and, of course, they got ready to leave shortly after.  That was fine because my anxiety was already so high that the sedating effects barely registered.  I considered taking another one, but didn’t want to feel like a Lindsay Lohan trainee anymore than I already did.

Christmas is over, but my plans for next year are already forming: they involve a beach, my boyfriend as a Cabana boy, and no other relatives anywhere in sight.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

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

Hospitality – Writing 101, Death To Adverbs Assignment

As for most of us, hospitals evoke a mix of feelings, and my hometown hospital memories reach back to the 1980’s, before it merged with a larger state hospital system, to today, where I’m sipping coffee in the beige-walled, wood-paneled cafeteria, while waiting for my mother’s testing to finish.

The rectangular fluorescent ceiling lighting casts unflattering shadows across the sitting area, while the laminate wood flooring bolsters whatever warmth this institutional setting offers. The square, white, cork board ceiling tiles absorbs some noise, but the clanging of pots and pans from the stainless steel inner kitchen area is still jarring.

A dozen wood-trimmed tables with aqua and tan faux stone tops – looking more like oxidized copper, or some strange chemical spills – block most of the sitting area, with three or four tables offsetting the conformity.

Four dark-grey enameled metal chairs with greenish-blue vinyl seats square each table, with white and black ridged plastic salt and pepper shakers centering each table.

Six greyish-blue column supports divide the room by a third, with local art hung a foot or so apart down each wall – all for sale – while you ponder the cost of your hospital stay.  What’s another four hundred dollars for a nice still-life to remind of you of your ruptured appendix for the rest of your life?

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

Writing 101, Day Seventeen, Fear With A Twist

One of my worst fears?  That the bartender won’t bring my drink soon enough!  That’s my fear with a twist – get it?

Fine, a real fear. I could say something pedestrian and banal like ‘I’ll never find love’, or ‘dying alone’, etcetera, but an honest fear is dying of AIDS, or being burned alive.

The context is ‘address one of your worst fears’.  Of the two mentioned above, being burned alive is probably the worst because there are good drugs for AIDS, but I watched a friend perish from AIDS, each day worse than the last, his broken body wracked with pain, blistering sores, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and he endured each new opportunistic bacteria, fungus, or virus that destroyed his fragile immune system.

Maybe being burned alive is a piece of cake after that, but I don’t know.  I don’t want to find out.  This was a stupid fucking exercise, and I’m not even sure why I did it, but there, it’s done.

Spring Into Action

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

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

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

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

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

Things Remembered

When he was a boy
When he was a boy

101 Dalmatian pajamas, 4T. I breathe into the fabric, trying to catch the scent of my little boy, but I forgot that I washed them before packing them away in the box of baby remembrances when he had outgrown them.  The box also contained his cloth Madeleine doll, which showed where the scar was from her appendectomy, and the yellow rubber duck received at his baby shower that he had to have at every bath time.  I say ‘contained’ because when his sister, my nearly step-daughter, had her first child four years ago, I sent the rubber duck, after sterilizing it, with a letter, saying that I hoped her daughter would like it, and if she remembered how her brother had loved it when he was a baby.

His sister emailed me after she got the package, telling me how sweet that was, and her daughter liked it too.  When we went to visit them a few years ago, it was gratifying to see the rubber duck in among the bathtub toy collection.

She mentioned in a post how her daughter was enjoying the Madeleine books, and I knew it was time to send along the Madeleine doll, so beloved by my son at her daughter’s age, along with a little monkey puppet for her latest family addition, who is now a year old, and I haven’t yet met.  I got a note the other day telling me they received the package, and her daughter asked if she could keep the doll forever.

It seemed overly sentimental and silly to keep those few things from my son’s childhood, but I have no keepsakes, and no pictures from mine, so it was important to me, and I thought my son would one day appreciate the link back to his youth.  He thought it was cool that I had sent his niece the Madeleine doll, and we spoke about how he used to watch the Madeleine cartoon, and have me read the books over and over.  Rather than merely keeping useless things that only had meaning to me, the items became an heirloom of sorts, and re-connected my son and I with a happy memory from the past, as well as furthering my son and his sister’s bond, with her children too.

Keeping sentimental things just adds to my pile of stuff, so I’ve done my best to pare down, taking pictures of things before giving them away or recycling them. Having some tactile link to the past is important to me though, so the 101 Dalmatian pajamas will remain in the (now smaller) keepsake box.

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