Birthday Wishes

Cinderellacakecandles

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Birthdays were so exciting when I was younger.  Getting older was somehow an achievement, and I suppose it was, depending on how many risks were taken, or accidents met and survived the previous year.

Celebrating someone for their birthday is a wonderful time for connection, reflection, and, especially, festivity!

Time’s passage is tough the older I get because I want to keep the problems of the relatively young and not get any problems of aging.  Too bad, I know.  Perspective is a perk as time moves on, as well as caring less about how I’m received, but this ship of life I’m sailing leaves a wider berth the further I get from port, leaving some things smaller, although not less significant, as they recede and I travel on.

Even though I often feel that I’ve not accomplished anything, or much of what I wish I had done, I have traveled.  I won a ten-day tour of Switzerland, with a side trip to Liechtenstein.  I made it to Australia, where I stayed with my childhood pen-pal, and her family, and we met each other’s children (child in my case), and saw lots of Victoria, including a day in Melbourne, hiking in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, a rain forest walk in the Yarra ranges, and a gorgeous trip down the Great Ocean Road, ending in Warrnembool, and the site of the Twelve Apostles rock formations, during our stay.

I’ve driven through or visited at least half of the United States, including Hawaii, but not Alaska. I’ve been to Canada, and Mexico, though not extensively in either country.  I brought my son to Ireland for his high school graduation present, but really because I’d wanted to go my whole life and that justified the expense well enough – or at least, it did – until I just wrote that.

Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, was the last big journey I took, a gift that I’ve not well repaid seeing as I’m now an atheistic-leaning agnostic.

I’ve climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, back when you could do that, and have been on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, when it was free. (It’s hard to believe that anyone would pay $57 for the dubious privilege nowadays).

Contentment with my lot is the message I try to embrace, but my adventurous spirit doesn’t understand that sentiment.  There are so many more places to see, things to do, and the beautiful aspects of life on Earth that I’ll never have again.

As long as I can get through the rough patches, the pain, suffering, and challenges we all endure, and hopefully, surmount,  I will add more sweet than bitter to each year that I’m graced with, have more meaningful time with those I like and love, and be glad for what’s been given.

*

*

*

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

Writing 101, Day Fifteen, They Canceled The Fair

fryeburgfairnightHow many years has it been? Twenty-five, no, thirty!  I’ve been going to the Down Home Agricultural County Fair since I was seven or eight, and now it’s canceled.  Sure, there are other fairs, I suppose – other fairs that are not the Down Home!

I had my first kiss underneath the bleachers next to where Frank’s Fabulous Pigs raced. I had turned thirteen the previous September, and Jimmy Reynolds, my friend and secret crush since third grade, grabbed a hold of my hand and pulled me under the bleachers.  At first I thought we were just going where we shouldn’t be, maybe to look for lost money, him beaming that ten-megawatt smile at me, and me awaiting further instruction, when he leaned in and kissed me.  My heart pounded and my hands were instantly sweaty as I kissed him back, and we stood there until the sound of feet stomping above us broke the spell.

We held hands the rest of the night, and although it was usually hard to shut me up, I couldn’t think of a thing to say – and neither could he.  We just kept riding the rides, playing the carnival games, and sharing fried dough, and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Jimmy moved to Florida at the end of the summer, and we wrote letters back and forth for a while, promising to visit, which we never managed, and after a year went by the letters slowed, and by the next summer, I stopped hoping for a response to my last few letters.

The Down Home County Agricultural Fair was a near guarantee to see everyone I knew – and the chance to eat my fill of french fries with vinegar, fried dough, and over-priced lemonade, that I enjoyed watching the vendor make for me.  “You like it sweet or tart, honey?”  Sweet for me, tart for Jimmy.

Time wore on, and every year the events that attracted me changed from thrill rides to animal shows, and after my son was born I went with friends who had children, and we’d meet year after year, first riding with our children on the kiddie rides, our knees scrunched up, or wider hips not quite fitting into the tot-sized cars, and when they were big enough, putting our children on the kiddie rides alone, and watching with happy trepidation as they thrilled or freaked-out, and when they were older, bidding them farewell with instructions to meet later by the front gate, and having them pretend they didn’t see us whenever they’d pass by.

With my son in college, and friends scattered around, I went to the Down Home by myself last year, and spent most of my time looking at prize-winning quilts, home-made clothing, garden and preserve entrants’ displays, and shook my head at the carnies luring game players to win prizes not worth the two dollars to play one game.  Back in my day, I find myself thinking, it was a quarter, and the prizes were bigger, and better quality too.  I might as well start yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.  I catch myself and laugh, I don’t want to be in the ‘old coot’ category – not now, not ever.

*

*

*

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

 

Fair Days

Our fall harvest festival, The Franklin County Agricultural Fair, is here again.  I had wanted to enter some photography in their annual contest this year, but I always miss the deadline.  I also think there’s an entry fee, but I’m sure it’s not that much.

A dear friend gave me entrance tickets, and I’ll bring a sandwich, and my water canteen with me.  I don’t need to spend money on any attractions or food.  Just seeing so many people I know, and all the fair exhibits, is interesting enough for an afternoon.  It’s only a mile away from where I live, so I can even walk there.  Having no money doesn’t equal having no fun!

I look forward to seeing all the cows, sheep, goats, chicks, and ducks, and geese… and the surrey with the fringe on top!  Oh, sorry, I was in Oklahoma for a minute.  Maybe I’ll even find my very own Curly McLain there!  I played Ado Annie Carnes in The Country Players‘ 2008 production, and she is a far more interesting character than Laurey Williams is, even though Laurey is one of the main characters.  Ado Annie is the comic relief minor character, and it was so much fun to play that role.  As long as I don’t meet a Jud Fry at the fair, it’ll be a good day.  (I just realized I starting reading the words as I typed them in a mid-western accent.)

Maybe I’ll go around the fair using my Oklahoma accent and then switch to the English Country dialect I used for the Mutton & Mead Medieval Festival!  Well, the skies aren’t looking too friendly just now, so I better git while the gittin’s good!  Cheers!

*

*

*

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

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!

*

*

*

© 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! 😉

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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!

*

*

*

© 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!

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

© 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.

*

*

*

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