Wednesday to Saturday

I’ve always liked Wednesday because of the Addams Family,

https://giphy.com/gifs/60s-1960s-the-addams-family-FYOxEpdW8K1H2/

although Thursday and Saturday are my all time favorites. Maybe I like the way Thursday looks or sounds because why Thursday? Wouldn’t Friday with its weekend association be a more likely candidate for favorite?

Saturday is a day you can like! It’s in hundreds of songs; it implies fun, adventure – ready for action – couched as it is between the end of the typical work week and the start of a new one. And let’s not forget the classic Saturday Morning Cartoons!  They’re not as great now – especially since they’re little more than a marketing tool, but they were so good in the ’60’s & ’70’s. No one has ever topped Mel Blanc for cartoon voicing, and caricature.

http://www.craveonline.com/mandatory/1047625-voice-actors-behind-many-of-your-favorite-cartoon-characters

Although Saturday is just another day for many in the service and health industries, my feelings about Saturday formed as a child, when school was the biggest responsibility I had. Even if I had homework, or chores, or later in my mid-teens and twenties, when I was a waitress (now server, of course), or a cashier, or department store clerk, Saturday still held magic.

We might leave for the weekend on Friday afternoon, but we had all day Saturday to enjoy.

Saturday is still special in our household as my S. O. has most weekends off, and we can sleep in or get up to work our agenda rather than someone else’s.

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

 

Out There

One of the wonderful aspects of being away is the perspective change, especially when the scenery is so drastic.

There's Your Sign...

I immediately found myself afraid and battled my fear to become curious. I’m visiting dear friends in the southwest – Arizona – and I’m finding myself again assimilating my life’s experiences and what it all means to me.

Watching my dear friend work and interact with the people of her life here is inspiring, and helped me open myself up – just that bit more – to not assume the worst in everyone.

It’s tough particularly now, in our heinous political environment, trusting that there are good people who deeply care about others’ lives. When I’m in unfamiliar territory, everyone is the enemy, and I’m hyper-vigilant, trying to stay safe.

My childhood friend is so open & loving – and not consumed with worries of things she can’t control, where I seek control over things I can’t stop worrying about. It’s not that she’s immune, or willfully ignorant, or tuned-out; she knows how to prioritize or allocate her emotional resources.

I came out here to step away from my life back east. I don’t know how to balance what I want and need with the wants and needs of my significant other. I didn’t come out here because of that, but it helps to be so far away when I’m so troubled about my personal life.

There are good reasons to feel as I do, and there are reasonable solutions which allude me more often than I’d like, leaving me feeling powerless and as though I’m consenting to less than what I desire. We do communicate, but there are always issues that hang in the air – never resolved – just sublimated, until the next time I try to stake my claim for my desires.

I’ve remembered, out in this vast, open, unfamiliar, and harsh landscape, that wherever I go, there I am. Will I succeed, or fail, or some combination I can live with?

It’s as if the stark contrast between the rocky peaks jutting into the sky and the cacti and other desert life dotting the valleys reveal life as it is rather than life as I wish it, but there’s still the ability to thrive. There’s still beauty and variety. There are abundant paths to choose from, or room to make my way – even this late.

Fear can stop me, or I can function beside my fear.

Walking out of the squat main office building, I turned right onto S. Veteran’s Memorial Highway, camera in hand.  The Galiuro Mountains to my left, and the Santa Catalina’s to my right, I felt prey for the vultures – avian or human. Walking briskly while the steady, and sometimes fierce, chilling winds pushed me along, I finally turned back after a few miles, where the wind gleefully made my uphill journey more aerobic.

The Saguaro sentinels greeted me in uneven intervals, sometimes solely, other times clustered, while Organ Pipe, Agave, and Prickly Pear cacti covered more ground among the Mesquite trees, and other desert plants.

San Manuel 1

The Long, Not Winding, Road

fuzzy Saguaro

Organ Pipe cactus

San Manuel sunflower

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Galiuro Mountain Range

I forgot what it was to see so far out, and while I wouldn’t want to live here, it’s been a gorgeous and welcome change of pace.

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

New England Awe-tumn

Though I’ll post some pictures, if you live, or been in New England’s autumn, you understand the awe while driving or walking down our country roads, or along trails and wooded paths.

It started slow this year, and seemed as though it would be a mostly yellow leaf-covered horizon & ground, but a preview of winter’s chill jump-started the leaves’ colors and now glorious neon-hued oranges, peach, deep, and bright reds, have dominated the summer’s green.

Understanding that it’s dying leaves doesn’t make it less dazzling or soul-stirring – or perhaps it is because this is the leaves’ legacy – that it’s all the more poignant and breath-taking.

It’s my reminder that we’re headed into darkness, already in less light, but yet there is reason to celebrate.

Dance, sing, laugh, breathe fully – this time emphasizes that everything – all of us – experiences these cycles.

For now, exuberance spreads through me as I drive down the narrow road nearing my home: the birch, maple, oak, sumac, and other flora dazzles with a daily changing palette – through sun or cloud – and even more dramatic in rain and wind, as leaves pirouette and glide in showers of glimmering color.

I shore up these treasures, knowing the pictures I took cannot do justice to the show before me – just as a live performance holds an immediate relational experience to the audience that a recording can never reveal.

Wendell MA October 2016

Montague, MA October 2016

Montague MA tree Oct 2016

Hinsdale NH tree October 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

All I Gotta Do Is, Act Naturally

1099375-clipart-movie-camera-filming-over-a-rainbow-splatter-and-film-reelsAt twelve I knew I wanted to act.  It was what I thought I’d be in adulthood.  I guess it was just going to happen naturally because I never had a plan. I failed to position myself for that occupation, relying on the ‘will of the universe’, or ‘fate’, or whatever my idiot mind told itself – so it never happened.

My first foray into Community Theater was in the early 2000’s.  I had auditioned for a play in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, but didn’t get cast, so I probably told myself I wasn’t ready yet.

I spent the better part of today as an extra in a film, driving over two hours to the set, and riding back home after 10 p.m., exhausted, and probably shouldn’t have been driving, but had I stayed at a motel, I would have spent more than I earned, and had I tried to sleep in a parking lot somewhere I would have been too paranoid to sleep.

This was the fifth movie I’ve been a paid prop in, oops, I mean background work, and I finally realized tonight, after almost getting a featured spot that the director, or the universe, or fate, decided to nix, that chasing acting is trauma re-enactment. I’m still trying to convince those in control that I’m worthy of notice.  I’m so tired of my psyche trying to  reconcile my neglectful past.  It’s not going to happen.

The same cast of characters appears each time, albeit in different physical forms. There are non-protecting bystanders, abusers, and victims.  (Victim is often a loaded word, so hear it un-weighted.)

Rising early, I rush about readying myself for the day’s work, ensuring I have collected all I need and might want, and set out into the dank, murky pre-dawn.  The creeping light flings itself out in eye-searing magnitude just as the crush of rush-hour traffic gathers at the crest of an eastward hill, and I jam on the car’s hazard button, hoping to avoid rear-collision while slamming on the brakes in what appears choreographed timing – as though the traffic were all swimmers breaking the surface one after the other in dizzying succession.

Surviving the first sun-caused hazards, we attempt merging with the big boys and girls zooming along on the super-highway at their break-neck pace: a feat reminiscent of double-dutch jumping  without tangling both jumpers in the ropes – only with higher stakes in the highway metaphor.

Once successfully merged, we soon come to several stand-stills, where many of us frustratingly shift from stopped lane to nearly stopped lane, seeing the traffic gods punish us with every lane but ours beginning to move.

An hour later, fleeing the chaos of four-lanes, for the migraine of two lanes, and a GPS with a shitty sense of humor, or probably just sadistic, I double back to the left turn it told me to take as I was passing it in the wrong lane, and I finally rumble into a bumpy lot, park, and kiss the steering wheel for getting me there without bodily harm or auto damage.

A dozen other, sleepy, hopeful stars ascend the shuttle bus stairs and settle in for our ride to the set.

Once there, we queue up to fill out our pay slip forms, find space to don our costumes, and then stand in the next line for hair, and then one for make-up, and finally find our way into the holding area where there is coffee and juice and cereal and muffins, and why are they feeding us all this crap when we’re trying to stay svelte for when we’re discovered the nineteenth time we cross that street when the director calls: ‘action’? So, I opt for coffee and a banana, and wait for our day’s adventure.

Extra work is similar to traumatic childhood in that we’re never told exactly what is happening that day, and what our role is.  We have to become ‘instant experts’ once we’re schlepped to location and placed.  Then we’re told that we’re excited, or mad, or confused, or disgruntled, or perhaps all of the above, and the day continues with each of us trying to out prop the other.

I swear the women who were behind us who ended up in front of us toward the end of that particular scene were going to end up in the car with the principal actors by the end of the shot.

And here’s the thing:  the principal actors are who matter.  Background is sound and color, and does serve a core purpose, but you wouldn’t know it by the haphazard treatment that I’ve experienced on every set I’ve worked on.

My goal is for principal actor roles.  My reality is that extra work will never meet that goal.  I need to change my approach, or nothing will ever change.  In life, or on film.

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

 

Slip Sliding Away Again

www.partymom.com
It’s always great at the beginning of the party http://www.partymom.com

Drinking makes me feel different, and better – if I don’t drink too much. I’ll be giddy, and happy, and in love with the world, and if I step over that razor’s edge line, I’m in hell, but it’s the insanity alcohol abstention programs talk about, the thought that I won’t drink too much this time, or that third drink won’t effect me so much.  It’s what drinking does rather than how much I drink, because I don’t normally drink a lot, and I stop if I get near the vomit line, but trouble starts before that.

I know I’ve crossed the line when my thoughts turn dark and I tell my S.O. we’re through, that I just want to move to a cave somewhere and finish out my days without the stress of human contact.

In other words, I’m certifiable when I drink that next half a drink?  quarter of a drink? more than two. Wine makes me reach the terrible place sooner – but there’s more alcohol per volume than beer or mixed drinks, which are more diluted and I drink them slower because I associate liquor with danger more quickly.

I’ve also found that three drinks causes inflammation, and my back and joints are in agony the next day.  I could take turmeric, and other less, or non-toxic inflammation cures, but then I’m just putting band-aids on the problem which is over-drinking, or probably, any drinking.

But I love alcohol.  I adore drinking culture – those false promises of an easy life for those few hours with friends and frenemies alike – all having a wonderful time until the hangover hits, or the ride on the vomit comet that one of my friends experiences every time she over-drinks, and the ultimate realization that most of your drinking buddies are just that, and they’ll fall away if you alter the terms of engagement.

www.dailymail.co.uk
Homage paid to the porcelain goddess http://www.dailymail.co.uk

My goal is quitting the booze for good, and I haven’t made my goal, which makes me think I’m in trouble.  I’m a functioning drunk, if I’m a drunk.  ‘Problem drinker’ sounds less horrible than ‘a drunk’.  But the word ‘problem’ is a clue that my drinking issue needs solving.

For my first week of nephalism, I’m going to write ‘enjoy the insomnia and inflammation’, and stick that on the door so I see it on my night out with my girls, or even with my S. O..

Of course, I’ll probably use the other door to leave – but I’ll still know it’s there.

I wish I could smoke weed.  It gives me panic attacks though.  Not just some vague anxiety but OH-GOD-I’M-DYING terror coupled with the need to get out of my body, which I can’t do without the actual dying part, or if got knocked out, which is why I have Klonopin, that I haven’t had to use for panic for a long time, thankfully.

Panic attacks used to be a daily thing in my twenties and thirties. That really sucked. I don’t remember when they stopped, I’m just glad they did, and if I ever need  a reminder of panic’s scourge, I can just have a toke or two, and it’ll all come back to me.

AA is useful, and I’m glad it’s there, but I dislike the cultish feel, and having grown up in a commune/cult, I tend to eschew groups.

Alcohol helps me feel freer, and happy – even if it’s fleeting – and that’s what I chase. I like escaping myself when I can, but it comes with a price – to myself, and worse – to those close to me.

www.dailystormer.com
What a great party… http://www.dailystormer.com

A new definition of freedom and happiness is needed, and the only will power I need is against picking up that first drink.

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

 

Summertime Songs

From musicals like Porgy & Bess, and Grease, to pop songs through every decade, summer songs create, or re-create feelings of freedom, ease, love – especially young love with all that angst and yearning – and even if the heat and humidity are hard to take in the moment, I look back fondly to sticky summer nights spent hanging out with my group of friends, skinny-dipping in the river, or pool-hopping around the neighborhood, with or without permission…

Songs heard in my youth stir me more deeply than newer summer-themed tunes, or even old ones newly discovered. Those tunes center me in time and place unlike most anything else in my life.

The following links worked at this posting, but you can always search the song names yourself if any links become broken.  Perhaps a few are already in your play list!

George Gershwin’s, Summertime, an aria in 1935’s, Porgy and Bess, evokes a haunting sweetness of that which is hoped for, however unattainable, for the impoverished Bess singing to her baby.

Another “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, from 1991, breathes summer’s relative freedom, and speaks to slowing down and enjoying summer’s romantic possibilities.

Eddie Cochran told us there’s no cure for the “Summertime Blues” in his 1958 rockabilly number, referring to his having to work and not getting to be with his girlfriend or friends all out having fun.

The Drifters’ trill about their relaxing seaside summer in 1964’s: Under The Boardwalk.  You can feel summer’s heat, smells, sights, and sounds, while taking a chance at falling in love near the surf, away from the boardwalk’s crowds.

1966’s, Summer in the City, by The Lovin’ Spoonful, brings you into the city’s grit and grime from the first guitar strains just as Under The Boardwalk conveys a carnival feel from the start.  And while the city heat shimmers off the asphalt, a cooler breeze and romance prevail at night.

Juxtapose that with, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry, 1970’s bubble-gum ditty, where finding a date was summer’s full-time pursuit – and dig the mutton chops, man!:

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s released several songs intoning summer’s graces and privileges for young and old alike.  Several appeared in the summer of 1972.

Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze, is more folk than pop, and makes me want to lie under my favorite maple watching the leaves sway and hush each other in the warm breezes.

Saturday in the Park, Chicago’s ode to summer, also invokes a festival atmosphere, celebrating old-time holiday conviviality with street vendors and singers.

Alice Cooper’s, School’s Outbrought harder rock and attitude to summer’s opening, and remains one of my top summer songs:

Hot Fun In the Summertime, 1969’s summer hit by Sly and The Family Stone, also speaks to freedom from school in a mellow blues style, just as memorable for its ease and friendliness as Alice Cooper’s is for its ‘screw you’ ethos.

Flash forward to 1977 and The Ramones punking out with Rockaway Beachanother of their non-stop, driving beats insistent on another popular summer pursuit, days at the beach.

I don’t think Sandy Olsson from, Grease, would have been as attracted to one of the Ramones as much as she was to Danny Zuko, because meeting him on the beach was more like a Beach Boys’ dream song than the tough guy he portrayed in front of his friends, confusing poor Sandy.  But, oh, what fun they had in those Summer Nights:

Sandy Olsson could have used Bananarama’s pop tune, Cruel Summer, to console her, but 1983 was too far in the future for the 1950’s character, and besides, it wouldn’t have been broody enough for our melancholy Sandy.  Many of us with broken hearts related to their pop ballad while we danced away our sad summer nights.

A year later, in 1984, Don Henley rocked out smoothly with
The Boys of Summer, crooning his heart out about the girl who got away – while those mean girls kept walking – pushing their Wayfarers a bit further up on their pretty little noses.

While this list isn’t in any particular order, excepting its mostly chronological look at summer songs, no list would be complete without Bryan Adams’, Summer of ’69the youth rockers ode and anthem – finding belonging, following a passion – both in love and artful expression, and the sweet remembrance of summers past.

Make sure you add your favorite summer songs and why you like them in the comments!

Cheers, happy writing, and happy Summer 2016!

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

 

Flagging Down Summer

http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/did-betsy-ross-really-make-the-first-american-flag
http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/did-betsy-ross-really-make-the-first-american-flag

Today is Flag Day.  We learn about and honor what our flag represents in our country, and how to respect our flag.  I was raised a patriot – a lover of America: ‘Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave.’  I believed in the Grand ole’ Flag, and the pledge of allegiance.  America the Beautiful and our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, still mist up my eyes with every hearing.  Yankee Doodle Dandy was one of my favorite songs as a child, and I even changed the lyrics to reflect being a girl.  I would sing: ‘…a real, live, niece’ – rather than nephew – ‘of my Uncle Sam’, as well as my ‘Yankee Doodle Sweetheart’ being ‘my pal’ to the end where ‘I am that Yankee Doodle gal’.  I never realized it was just a boat-load of propaganda designed to stir up nationalistic fervor and xenophobia.  Every nation on earth does it to lesser or greater extents.

A high wind is blowing all around as I write this out on the summer porch.  Whistling through the windows, I smell cut grass, honeysuckle, roses, and plowed earth on its way through – the scents of early summer.

Although the solstice is over a week away, Memorial Day has always signaled the start of summer for me.  Even though calendars declare that ‘Summer Begins’ with the June solstice, farmers and others close to nature’s cycles know that it’s really the half-way point of the season.  After that, daylight decreases daily with our orbit towards autumn.

www.timeanddate.com
http://www.timeanddate.com

But I’m not to think about that now.  Being here now is my goal as time tends to bunch up the older I get.  I want to have my younger self’s sense of time.  A leisure summer day could seem like a weekend then, but my adult life’s demands and concerns are often greater, along with the broader view of time that age affords.

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

Earth Day 2016

my_blue_marble_by_vileyonderboy
http://img11.deviantart.net/ea36/i/2010/152/f/d/my_blue_marble_by_vileyonderboy.jpg

It’s your day, Earth.  We set one day aside to honor you – kind of like Mother’s, or Father’s, Day.  I can only speak for mothers, but I know most of us work hard all year, but it’s one day for special notice.

And like the aforementioned days for recognition, you’re pretty much taken for granted the rest of the year, Earth.  We trust there’ll be breathable air, livable land, and drinkable water every day –  no matter what we do to you.

But more people, who wouldn’t call themselves tree-huggers or hippies, are waking up to the Earth’s needs – regardless of motivation.

Lots of trees were planted today, and many people cleaned up road and river ways in your honor, Earth.  Children danced and sang, wrote stories and poems, painted pictures, and marched in parades.

But what happens tomorrow?  Making every day Earth day is a significant challenge, and I am as bad as anyone because I drive, and use electricity, and eat, and breathe, and use unsustainable goods.

How do I change – impoverished me, who can’t go buy a hybrid vehicle, build a ‘green’ home, has no regular public transportation, and deals with chronic pain among other issues, making biking or walking everywhere unrealistic?

I suppose my carbon footprint is less by virtue of my poverty, but if I were wealthy, would I care?  I hope so, but I absolutely would do more if I gain wealth in my life.

I’m grateful for others’ creativity – those addressing problems of our industrialized world: industrial and agricultural pollution, rubbish, mindless consumerism, etc.

Cows are one of the major methane producers, and I wonder if an enzyme could be put into their feed to reduce their gas emissions, much like Bean-o does for humans.  There has to be solutions to help us and Earth without going back to being hunter/gatherers. I have no interest in beating my clothes against a rock in the local brook to clean them.  I don’t think life has to get harder to get better for all of us.

Maybe oil-based materials and products will use new substances, known, or as yet undiscovered, that won’t require oil, coal, tar, or other noxious materials to create or operate.  ‘Plastic’ can be made from plant fibers, for instance, that will degrade without as much damage to the world as current plastics are.

There are many smart, driven, compassionate, and caring people who can tackle these issues, but government needs to provide funds for success much like it did with the space program – a program now focused on getting humanity off this polluted world rather than solving pollution issues.

Maybe humanity screwed up other planets in the solar system a long time ago, and luckily found a livable planet here, but pretty much directly started destroying it…

My father thought we were the scourge of the universe and ours is a penitentiary planet – keeping us from serious interstellar harm.  I think we’re an immature species, smart enough to get ourselves in real trouble, but not insightful enough to stop ourselves.  So, until that happy day when we’re mature, we suffer the consequences of our actions rather than celebrate how far we’ve come.

Who knows how long I’ll live, but I could reasonably live another forty or fifty years – and I’d like to use whatever time left giving back to this beautiful blue interstellar marble, and do my best to decrease my destructive tendencies and do more good than harm.

Regardless, I wish all a beautiful Earth day, and hope it will carry all through the year.

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

 

Bugged Out

It sat for months, waiting to be sold.  Every time I went by I wished I could buy it, but $1500 was out of my range, even though it’s not much for a car.  I finally called to see if the price was negotiable and was told the lowest they’d let it go for was $1200, but I didn’t even have that – and even if I did – the cost to get it on the road would most likely be $1000 more.

I kept imagining myself behind the wheel, trying to remember what it was like when I rode with my sister when she had one.

This VW Bug was in great shape for being nearly forty years old, and allegedly it only had one owner, the guy’s mother, who maintained it well.

Of course he’d say that, and I hoped it was true.

After looking it over, the guy let me take it for a spin.  It was harder to drive than I imagined.  None of the pedals had padding, and my foot keep slipping as I engaged the clutch, which went way in – so different from today’s cars.  The steering wasn’t too difficult even though it wasn’t powered steering, but the fantasy I had created about how great it would be to own and drive the cute yellow Bug was bursting all over the run-down seats, a nearly rusted through floor, and lower side panel, and the flat windshield and tiny side mirrors that made me wonder how anyone ever liked driving it.

I thanked the guy for letting me take it for a ride, and told him I hoped someone would buy it, but it wouldn’t be me.

VW Bug
VW Bug

It shouldn’t have surprised me how the idea of owning and driving it surpassed the reality, as that is often the case in so many life circumstances.

Even though I don’t want to own one anymore, the VW Bug holds a tender spot in my heart, and I can always remember times I rode with my sister all those years ago – more precious for the fun and good company than the transportation.

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

Stormy Weather Again, *%&^%$!

Poor Lena Horne can’t stop singing, but of course, this isn’t about stormy weather in your life, this is actual stormy weather.

I admit the first tender flakes made me smile and think of making snow sculptures, and sledding, to sipping hot cocoa by the fireside, and I was taken in by the romance, like the blush of new love.

My giddiness lasted through the day, especially as the snow was light, sparkling, and easy to move.

It’s right that there’s snow in February in the Northeastern U.S., but I’d like it to end with February too.  Alas, nature thinks winter should continue through March, and sometimes well into April – even though the calendar plainly notes the vernal equinox – Spring – dammit!

Unable to leave for warmer, snow-free, climes, enduring whatever comes is our lot, so I’ll drink a cup of cocoa, pretending it isn’t going right to my hips, and try to enjoy the fire that rockets glowing embers, while belching smoke at me, filling my nose and burning my eyes with its acrid stench – no matter how often I change spots around the bonfire – and appreciate my efforts toward the graceful, artfully rendered sculpture in my mind’s eye looking more like quasi-moto than the angel it was supposed to represent, while begrudgingly appreciating nature’s ice I’m pressing my bruised tail bone against from the ill-advised sledding, and subsequent and spectacular ejection from said sled, earlier in the day.

At least I snapped a few photos before the worst:

Image by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Image by Jerri Higgins
Image by Jerri Higgins

By the way, while Lena Horne is famous for her rendition of Stormy Weather, among others, I think Ella Fitzgerald sings it better.

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

 

Changing Leaves, Changing Attitudes

I practically needed a crowbar to get myself out of bed this morning.

Way over-doing brush cutting and hauling scraps out to a pile at my mother’s place left me with contracting pain down my right arm, making it impossible to sleep, so I took a muscle relaxer, which; while it helped, also relaxed everything – and I still feel like my head weighs a ton.

We’re at another end of October, the summer’s retreat depressing, but autumn’s offerings somewhat eases the transition.  The turning leaves have been spectacular, and it’s been lovely to witness.

Montague, MA
Montague, MA

Our local Pumpkinfest took place this past Saturday, October 24th.  One of my girlfriends invited two of us to sing back-ups with her for, Curly Fingers DuPree, a great local band, so we debuted as the ‘Curly Q’s’.  It was so much fun, and as with most shows or events I’ve been involved in, there’s the anti-climax feeling when it’s over – like, ‘that’s it?’  Heavy sigh.

Photo Credit : Vinny Natale
Photo Credit : Vinny Natale
Photo Credit : Vinny Natale
Photo Credit : Vinny Natale

I broke up with the best guy I’ve ever dated, and I started listening to suicide’s siren call again.  If I go that route, I know I’ll cause irreparable harm to my son, my S.O., and many friends and family.

I actually opened my virtual ‘coping toolbox’, and found a reason to hang on another day.  I’m doing what I can to stay positive as the darkness and cold increases.  I’m using all the attitude adjusters I know to not slip down.

Sometimes keeping that guttering candle of hope burning is as easy as lighting a new candle with the old flame, but other times a bonfire is needed, and as many others before me have said, it’s better to have a full ‘coping toolbox’ when times are easier than trying to fill it when I’m desperate, and not in my right, or wise, mind.

I am where I am, and much like the late, great, Yogi Berra, said: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Oh, and my S. O. told me he’ll only break-up when I’m not depressed, then he’ll know it’s real and not from ‘the dark side’.  Amazing man, that one.  He is either an idiot, or he sees what I can’t.

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

Festive Autumn

Massachusetts Postcard

Autumn always filled me with excitement as a child – mostly the thought of Halloween and what I would be that year – and how much candy I could get…  I also loved making leaf piles and jumping in them with my best friend, and the pungent odor of fallen oak and maple leaves still brings those happy memories up front, as well as crunching through fallen leaves on a crisp October evening’s walk, watching curls of acrid wood smoke from various chimneys, the scent lingering on the air, reminding me of warming up by a bon or campfire on colder late autumn and winter nights, made especially nice by a steaming mug of coffee, or sweet, hot cocoa, and lively company.

Bonfire Night

Autumn tree

In honor of so many festivals and fairs celebrating the harvest and helping the (for me) tough transition from summer, I offer a listing of many Massachusetts fall events.  Unfortunately, a lot of them fall on Columbus Day Weekend, so choosing what to attend could need a print out of events and a dart board to tape it to. 🙂

If you’re not close enough to enjoy any of these events, I’m sure there are festivals and celebrations wherever you are too.

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Western MA Autumn Happenings:

 http://www.historic-deerfield.org/event/hands/focus-fridays-chinese-export-porcelain-tea-set-2/?eID=18260   Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA, Focus Fridays: Old Burying Ground, Oct. 2 & Oct. 30, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 http://warebca.com/fall-fest-2014/   Ware Annual Fall Festival, Oct. 3rd, 2015, various events & venues, 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

 http://www.fallfoliageparade.com/   Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade, North Adams, MA, 60th Anniversary: Sunday, Oct. 4th, 2015 – 1 p.m.

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~ Columbus Day Weekend ~

http://salmonfallsgallery.com/   Shelburne Falls Art walk & artist’s reception, Shelburne Falls, MA, Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://www.paradisecityarts.com/   Northampton Paradise City Arts Festival, Northampton, MA, October 10, 11 & 12, 2015, Sat & Sun, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Mon. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://www.thebige.com/   The Big E Fair, West Springfield, MA, September 18th – October 4th, 2015. Gates open 8 a.m.

http://www.topsfieldfair.org/  Topsfield Fair, Topsfield, MA, Fri, Oct 2 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, Oct. 2, opens 1 p.m., Oct. 3 – 12, 10 a.m.

http://www.ashfieldfallfestival.org/  Ashfield Fall Festival, Ashfield, MA, October 10 &11, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – both days – rain or shine.

http://www.berkshirebotanical.org/see-and-do/harvest-festival/harvest-festival-home-page/  Berkshire Botanical Garden Harvest Festival Stockbridge, MA, Saturday and Sunday October 10th and 11th, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – rain or shine.

http://exploreadams.com/play/ramblefest   Ramblefest, Adams Visitors Center, Adams, MA, Oct. 11, Noon – 5 p.m., – Oct 12, 2015, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

http://bazaar.culturalsurvival.org/amherst-common   Indigenous Cultural Survival Festival, Amherst Common, Amherst, MA, Sat. Oct 10 – Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.riversidebluesandbbq.com/   5th Annual Riverside Blues, Brews, and BBQ, Greenfield, MA, October 10th & 11th, 2015, Noon – 6 p.m. both days

http://www.townofgranville.net/   34th Annual Granville Harvest Fair, Granville, MA, October 10th – 12th, 2015, Oct.10, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Oct.11, Noon – 5:00 p.m., & Oct.12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

http://trinityspringfield.org/wp/?ai1ec_event=12th-annual-fall-craft-fair&instance_id=9168  Trinity United Methodist Church, Springfield, MA, Fall Craft Fair, Sat., October 17, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 http://www.parkhillorchard.com/art   Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA, Art In the Orchard, August 13 – October 31, 2015, a walking sculpture trail winding through fruit gardens

http://mikesmaze.com/   Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm, Sunderland, MA, is open Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays, September 12 – November 8, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/pumpkinfest   6th Annual Pumpkinfest, Turners Falls, MA, October 24th, 2015, 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.nrm.org/event/pre-halloween-tour-luminaries-exploring-stockbridge-cemetery-2/?instance_id=42778   PRE-HALLOWEEN TOUR Luminaries: Exploring Stockbridge Cemetery, October 29, 2015, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

http://www.craftsofcolrain.com/index.html  Annual Studio Tour, Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.hitchcockcenter.org/programs/adult-programs/natural-history-programs-series/#familyprograms   Pumpkin Carving, Thursday, October 22, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.  & The Enchanted Forest: A Non-scary Halloween Event, Friday & Saturday, October 23 & 24, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

http://ontrendcrafts.com/upcoming-events-72615/  OnTrend Fall Craft Fair, Hadley Town Commons, Hadley, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

MACropped

~ A few notable annual festivals and events in Central, Northeastern and Southeastern, MA:

http://www.wachusett.com/EventsActivities/AppleFest/tabid/362/Default.aspx  Mt Wachusett 32nd Annual Applefest, October 17-18, 2015, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

http://www.westendfallfestival.com/  West End Creamery, Whitinsville, MA, Corn Maze, and Fall Festival, Weekends Sept. 12th, through October 25, 2015

http://cmschamber.ning.com/page/harvest-festival  26th Annual Harvest Festival, Sturbridge, MA Town Common and grounds of the Publick House Historic Inn, October 17 & 18, 2015, Sat.,10 a.m. – 5 p.m. & Sun., 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Rain or Shine.

https://www.nantucketconservation.org/activities/cranberry-festival/  13th Annual Nantucket Cranberry Festival, Milestone Cranberry Bog, Nantucket, MA, Saturday October 10, 2015, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – rain or shine

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Jack-o'lantern 2012

~ Halloween Related ~

http://www.hauntedhappenings.org/  Salem, MA, Haunted Happenings 2015 Thursday, October 1 – October 31, 2015

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/poeinsalem/  Edgar Allen Poe in Salem, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

http://tslpresscom.ticketleap.com/thegravedetails/  The Grave Details, Wynott’s Wands, Salem, MA, Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

http://www.beverlyhistory.org/  Witch Stories by Candlelight, Hale Farm, Beverly, MA, Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.

http://www.edaville.com/explore-edaville/shows-events/   Pumpkins Aglow, Edaville USA, Carver, MA, Friday – Sunday in October, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

http://www.mirbeau.com/calendar/halloween-masquerade-ball-2/?instance_id=12477  Mirbeau Inn & Spa at the Pine Hills, Plymouth, MA, Halloween Masquerade Ball, October 31st, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

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Some sites for MA events all year, as well as outdoor recreation:

https://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/hf-510/

http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/09/western_mass_bucket_list_30_th.html

http://festivalnet.com/state/massachusetts/ma.html

http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/western-massachusetts-hiking.html

http://www.mass.gov/portal/articles/advanced-hiking-trails-in-massachusetts.html

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/

http://berkshires.org/business_category/festivals-special-events/

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

Falling For Autumn

While I didn’t get enough summer this year – does any of us ever? – I feel less sad about Autumn’s entrance.  I don’t appreciate the jarring way it barges in – twenty degree temperature drop, and chilling wind to boot – but I do like that harvest has come, and apples are abundant this year, and the days are still relatively warm.

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins
Photo by Jerri Higgins

Fall has always held the excitement of festivals, and of Halloween, the scent of falling leaves, of wood fires, and of hay stacks.  I’m glad I’m not allergic to those things, although when the leaves get mildewed after the rains come, then I’m suffering with sniffles, stinging eyes, or bleary from my allergy pills.

I’ve gone back to allergy shots this year, six a week for the foreseeable future.  I’m allergic to life, pretty much, and I feel bad that my son is too.  My father was very allergic, so I probably inherited it from him, but I hope the shots will decrease or eliminate my sensitivity.

The worst is the indoor dust mites, molds, and mildew as the cold season arrives and we’re shut up for the next five months.  I do what I can to keep the allergens down, but it’s a constant battle.

I’ll drown my sorrow with some hot cider and a slice of fresh apple pie – or will it be pumpkin – or maybe, both?  Tiny slices…

The calories tend to increase over the holiday season along with my waist line, so I’m trying to learn that morsels are better than nothing so I don’t feel too deprived  – and there’s nothing like salsa dancing to keep the weight down, and chase away the winter blues.

I don’t mind walking in the snow, but the below zero temps like we had too much of last year, makes outdoor time shorter and less enjoyable for me.  I’m not one of those hearty souls – or perhaps drunken fools – who can be out for hours in weather extremes.  I’ll drink my cocoa, keep warm by the fire, and they can tell me all about their frostbite.

But, September isn’t over.  We’re in for a week of seventy-degree weather, perfect for long walks, jogging, playing, and working outdoors, with lows at night in the forties and fifties, perfect for sleep, which I’ll take over the muggy nights of tossing and turning.

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

 

 

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.

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

No Mount Washington – Boo, hoo?

My S. O. & I won a 3-day adventure trip through the AMC – Appalachian Mountain Club – from a sweepstakes form we filled out at the Boston Globe Travel Show this past February.

We drove up early Thursday morning, visiting a dear friend of mine in North Conway, New Hampshire, before heading out to the Highland Center at Crawford Notch, N. H., for the first night of our stay.  It was sunny, dry, and in the low 70°F’s.  We had supper at the center, met a lovely couple who gave us some suggestions of an easier hike the next morning before we headed up to the Mizpah Spring Hut, where we’d be spending our second night.

A fire alarm went off at 1:30 a.m., and I thought it was some AMC hyper-awareness drill, but it turned out there was an electrical fire that started in the basement.  We didn’t learn this until the next day.  What we knew is that a fire truck showed up about 15 or 20 minutes into the ‘drill’, and by then I figured out it was a real thing, and my S.O. ran back for something he needed, stupid in hindsight, but it’s not like there was smoke or open flames or anything.

An hour and a half or so, and three firetrucks later, I decided to go back up to our room and grab our backpacks so we could at least try to sleep in our car – having no idea if or when we’d get back, and my S.O. hung back while I surreptitiously made my way up to the third floor, ducking low to keep out of sight – my adrenaline surging – as I imagined the place blowing up before reaching our room. After a minute or so, my guy was there with me, grabbing what we could, freaked out about being discovered, and the trouble we’d be in for being colossally stupid.  It would have served us right to be burned up, but thankfully we weren’t. Were there open flames or smoke, I’d have counted my losses, and not risked it, but I figured we weren’t getting back in, and I wanted to go get some sleep.

About 5 minutes after retrieving our packs, we were given the all clear to go back in. I understand the risk I took, and I’m grateful it was as I suspected, and not a crisis situation.

Three hours, and no sleep later, we got breakfast, and hiked a mile and a half up a smaller trail that was twice as steep as any I’ve hiked so far, except Mt. Chochura, which we hiked two years ago.  The pay-off was astoundingly worth it:

Me at the top of Mt. Willard
Me at the top of Mt. Willard
S.O. at the top of Mt. Willard
Mt. Washington Trip
view from Mt. Willard
Mt. Washington Trip
Us on Mt. Willard
Us on Mt. Willard

After that, we hiked down and chilled out before heading out for Mizpah Spring Hut, which we’ve heard referred to as ‘a brief jaunt‘.  I guess they’re professional hikers because I was wiped out halfway up. A brief jaunt?  Are you kidding me?

I’m holding back the ‘f-bombs’ as one of my aunts reads this and feels it’s unnecessary.  I understand that, but still type my satisfying swears, and then backspace…

The temperature had climbed to near 80°F, and the sweat was starting to drip off me.  My S.O. fared better, but it wasn’t a skip in the woods for him either.

We had supper at the hut, which was the best part of our being there, outside of meeting some really great people, as well as some not so great ones, and some truly odd folks, but sleep mostly eluded me and my normally easy and deep-sleeping beau, being in a full capacity three triple-bunk room, and not much space to move around in.

Being a hut, there was no shower – even if it were simply cold water – and we forgot to pack in towels, reading that they were provided at the huts during the high season (not true).  The only paper product is toilet tissue (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I totally get it, but I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE. I am not a super outdoorsy, mountaineering, person, and this didn’t charm me into becoming one.

We were supposed to continue to Mt. Washington, and stay at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, which sounds so fantastical, and dream-like, but it poured into the early hours, and was still lightly raining when we got up to have breakfast at 6:30 this morning.  We got out after 8 a.m., and headed for Mt. Pierce, where we decided to take the Crawford Path back down instead of trudging on into the 25 – 30 mph winds, rain, and thunderstorms forecast along the open ridge we’d be hiking.  Plus, the hiking boots I got had already given me a few blisters, and I had liners under my ‘smartwool’ hiking socks. The lovely Linda, a former nurse, and her friend, Carla, who had hiked up to stay for the weekend at Mizpah Hut, bandaged and taped my blisters and sore spots for the trek down – I thank their kindness and expertise!

My S. O. and I decided to hike the 0.9 miles to Mt. Pierce from Mizpah to at least make it to one of the 4,000 footers, but the beginning was intimidating.  It could nearly be called a ladder trail, if the ladder were unevenly spaced and nearly 3/4 of a mile long.

Our goal was accomplished, but the day being what it was, Mt. Pierce was enshrouded in dense fog, often an ominous deep grayish-green.  I was glad to make it up, but gladder to head back down.

Mt. Pierce geological survey marker
Mt. Pierce geological survey marker
Foggy Mt. Pierce
Foggy Mt. Pierce
Mt. Pierce summit cairn
Summit cairn, Mt. Pierce
Hiking to Mt. Pierce summit
Foggy Mt. Pierce approach
Fog bank, Mt. Pierce
Fog bank, Mt. Pierce

I’d like to hike Mt. Washington some day, but it won’t be a carefree romp.  I’ll have earned every foot, sweat out every meter.

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

Motherhood Ruined Me For Traveling

Going away on a whim used to include making sure I had my toothbrush and a change of clothes, and depending on the time of year, my bathing suit and sunblock.

When my child was born, I tried to keep spontaneity alive, and suffered for it.  Oh, no – I forgot his red blanket!  We have to turn around!  He won’t sleep without it, therefore I won’t sleep without it, therefore anyone with me will be miserable – I’ll make sure of that…  Suffering in silence just isn’t fun.

Today, my child grown, and no longer needing his red blanket – I think – probably takes off on a lark all the time. May the pox of child-rearing fall on his house!

I now pack a minimum of three days worth of crap.  It’s ingrained. I’ve tried to make do, to be free again, but I need the earplugs – and this lamp.  And this ashtray…  I can’t sleep without them.  Sure, we could pick some up at the store, but for me, it would be steal them from the store because our budget is so tight  – yeah, yeah, first world problem – there is no room for anything else.  The credit cards are maxed, and the goal is to pay down, not add.  No, not even $5 which will be closer to $25 by the time the debt is paid down.

A detailed list is a must for me, and the stress surrounding trips takes a lot of fun out of it, for sure. Personal items, check.  Three pairs of underwear for two days.  Yes.  Two pant choices, three shirts, two pairs of shoes, and my sneakers. Should I bring those shoes?  Will I want my sundress?

My mind is an unforgiving landscape, a dark back alley where the worst of humanity gives me a wide berth. You crazy, woman!

Snacks!  We’re on a budget!  Pack sandwich making supplies in smaller containers.  Don’t forget the water!  Who knows if it’s drinkable where we’re going!  Beach stuff, bug spray, sunblock.  Holy crap, we almost forgot the tent!  I guess we could have slept under the stars for a night.  Except, we’ll be in a crowded campground with screaming babies and marauding teens.  Wildlife bothers me much less – at least they’re quiet.

My S.O., on the other hand, packed one day’s worth of clothing, and his toothbrush.

He’s also never been a parent.

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

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Gets In…

For the past several days we’ve been inundated with much-needed, but plan wrecking, rain.  An outdoor party on Saturday had to head indoors and with a new musical type: a kitchen band.  Table and chairs hastily crowded into any space available to set up the music, but the revelers were intrepid & carried on – after all, there was still beer – and plenty of it!

The showers turned into a deluge and the end of the night left a muddy path from their kitchen out to our cars after slogging back and forth through the muddy side yard with equipment and other paraphernalia, and I was grateful it was someone else’s house, but felt some guilt at the mess they’d have to clean.

It was so fun to sing and make merry, and I was glad that I only had a couple of beers so I got to watch the party-goers devolve into drunks by the end of the night without the morning regret for me.  I’ve been on the miserable end too much in the past several years as alcohol wooed me again.

In AA’s parlance I’m considered a ‘yet’, and I don’t take that lightly, but it’s very hard to give up when you’re at those crossroads still having choice.  I’ve witnessed many good people done in by alcohol and other drugs, and I don’t want my story to end that way.

Yesterday, it was overcast again, having rained heavily the day before, and getting through the day enervated me so much it was a triumph to get supper going.  Luckily my S.O. helped me rally, and while we were eating our turkey burgers and veggies, the sun rolled out from the thinning clouds like a mercy from the gods, and S.O. said we should go out & play catch.  I balked inwardly, feeling full, and wanting the TV to passively entertain me, but I surprised myself and said yes.

We got outside and the air was warming and fresh as we lobbed the baseball back and forth.  The few clouds left were puffy, some lazily stretched out across the western sky, outlined in various hues of pink, red, and orange, and the bugs were few for about a half-hour.

We switched to hitting and my S.O. puts me to shame with his two and three base hits, while I can barely get mine out of the infield.  I haven’t played ball for many years, figuring I’d be hurt more than I’d have fun, but I was wrong.  I might not throw as hard, run as fast, or hit any better than I ever did, but our time outside, having fun, and just being in the moment created more joy than I’ve had in a while.

I tend to live in fear most of the time because that’s what I learned will keep me safe, as superstitious as that is.  It’s tough to break out of that when it’s wired in my brain.  I make different choices when I’m able, and sometimes I conquer myself, and sometimes my PTSD wired brain does, but I’m most glad that I can appreciate beauty, that my love is intact, and that endorphins still course through my body when I play.

This is probably life’s intermittent reinforcement at its best, but I’ll take it!

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

Hike Come Hell Or High Water

Chicken of the Woods mushroom Photo: Andy Kostecki
Chicken of the Woods mushroom
Photo: Andy Kostecki

My beau & I won a White Mountains 3-day Adventure package through the Appalachian Mountain Club at the Boston Globe Travel Show this year.  The biggest mountain I have ever hiked was two years ago, Mt. Chocorua.

The hike was moderately challenging, but soul-soothing through the woods and past streams and waterfalls.  However, when we got above the treeline, I panicked.  I thought the wind was going to send me tumbling out into the forest below, as though there was less gravity up there.  I asked my beau to please not let me fall off the mountain, and he promised I’d stay put unless I jumped on purpose.  There was a further rocky peak, maybe fifty more feet up, but my courage left me, so I sat and watched his progress in the too wide open air from my safe perch in the middle of the granite slab.

After a while, I was able to get up and walk around, even peer over an edge to the valley below.  The view was well-worth my challenge getting there.

Today we took our first hike in preparation for the Presidential Range, but I think I’ll only make it as far as Congress did.  We hiked just over 5 miles to Mt. Toby’s summit and back, and I’m achy, cranky, and wondering how this ever gets addicting.

We pressed on through the torrential downpour for about a quarter of the hike, and we believed we were prepared for rain, but found a few chinks in our system when our rain hats poured water down our backs, and our jeans grew heavier with the soaking.

Along with benefiting from exercise and fresh air, we saw many orange salamanders along the path, a couple of garter snakes, and a friendly dog, that we at first thought might be a bear.  Outside of a few more hikers on their way down, we had the mountain to ourselves.

Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki
Photo: Andy Kostecki

We were thoroughly chilled by the time we got back to the car, and hungry, making our arrival home that much nicer as we got into warm, dry clothes, and sipped the morning’s leftover coffee, still hot enough from the carafe, while we made some soup and grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches.

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

Summer Day, Twelve

The cool breeze and shade diminished the heat of the sun as I walked down the road to Marie’s house.  I watched the big maples and oaks as I walked, their leaves rippling and swaying in the wind, the sun filtering through them creating dappled patterns, moving kaleidoscope-like on the pavement.  I tried leaping into spots of sun but the dance was too fast, I kept losing the game.

The rustle of chipmunks and squirrels startled me as much as I startled them, leaving me relieved to see them scampering under the leaf cover, over a log, or up a tree.  When the woods got thicker, the sun spots all but disappearing from the road, I worried about hungry bears and wolves attacking me, and I’d quicken my pace, but never run.  Running was cowardly, and the rule was, I’d only run if I actually saw a bear or wolf, otherwise, I just had to feel the fear, knowing that it wouldn’t be far until the trees thinned out, giving way to the fields, where I’d be back under the hot sun, hoping the breeze kept up.

Some days, when there was no breeze, I’d pretend I was lost in the desert, the shimmer of heat up from the pavement was a mirage – that wasn’t Marie’s house up ahead, really.  It would disappear when I got closer, my parched lips, dry mouth, and swollen tongue would find no respite.

The game ended when I reached her driveway, and sometimes she would be outside waiting for me, and then we’d go off, away from her nosy little brothers, and play games with her Barbie and Ken doll – marrying them and then making them get divorced for various reasons.  The hottest days, when she was inside, I’d revel in the cooler inside air, going over the kitchen sink, helping myself to a long drink of water – rescuing the poor desert wanderer.

My parents had divorced about two years then, and I liked being at Marie’s house where her mother and father were together, and they lived a life as normal as I wish I had.

It was many years later, when I had my child, that I realized what it must have seemed like to Marie’s parents – that no one wondered where I was, that I could stay over any time I wanted, no permissions needed.  Her parents talked of wanting to adopt me that summer, a conversation I heard and related to my mother, begging her to let me live there.  My mother, her pride kicking in, refused, thus sealing my fate – and I wish I had known how to ask skillfully, maybe requesting to stay at Marie’s for the summer, and not mentioning adoption…

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

 

Marching Into Spring, and Smith College Spring Bulb Show

March is only calendar Spring, but it helps psychologically.  I’ve seen a foot of snow in April, and sometimes snow in May.  It melts more quickly, but with climate change, I have no idea what the weather patterns are doing.  Yes, we’ve had fierce winters forever, and there were ice ages too, but we’re in another change pattern facilitated by human industry – whether or not we believe it.

I found this article from The Guardian helpful in understanding the pattern change.  I also appreciated this Guardian article about consensus on climate change, and while it’s not going to change any minds that don’t want to be changed, it’s helpful for a way to talk about climate change.

Mostly I think about how to adapt.  Do I move – even if it’s only 4 or 5 months a year?  I love my area, its beauty, and familiarity, but I’m not coping well with harsh weather.  I know that no matter where I go, there is always something unfavorable, but it’s about what I’m willing to accept, or what I can deal with.

Likely, I am only fantasizing as I have no money to live in two places, and barely enough to live in one, but if there is work I can find to sustain me & my S.O. through a few months a year in milder climes, I will jump on it!

In the meantime, I really enjoyed the Smith College Bulb Show last week, and hope you enjoy these photos from our excursion through all of their plant houses from the tropics to the desert (if you click on a picture to enlarge it, you can click your browser back button to continue with the next photos):

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

Writing 101 – Hauntingly Interesting Person

Annie Keithline, owner/operator of the new, Valley Ghost Tours, out of Northampton, MA, met us in the square next to the town parking garage on a balmy September 8th, under the full, harvest, moon.  A mid-waist, black cape draped over her short-sleeved shirt, framed her slight figure, her ebullience apparent before she even spoke.

Several people had signed up for the evening, but she explained two couples had to cancel, and two more no-shows left just my man & I for the Haunted History Tour, which felt weird at first, but her confident manner and knowledge captured our attention and we eased into her introduction and tour explanation.

Just a few years older than my son, she shared what led her to start the tours, having walked across America(!), and still in college as a declared English major who loves history and sharing it with others.

Ours was more like a conversational walk than a dedicated tour, and I shared some of my paranormal experiences both as a student at Smith, where a few ghost stops were, and throughout my life so far, and my man shared a few ghostly stories he’s heard as well.

Her disarming manner, obvious intelligence, and conviviality made the hour and a half fly by.  I had hoped to see some of the apparitions she talked about, like the ghost dog that walks up and down the street where a Starbucks currently sits, to a floating partial-apparition of a man on State Street, speculated to be seeking pledges for investing in the failed canal, to the teen-aged specter down under the Coolidge Bridge on Route 9, seemingly inviting you into the water with him, but Annie believes he might have been a ferry operator who continues to offer passage across the river, and frowns at you when you don’t follow him.  But, as Annie says, with the River Styx symbolism, who would want to oblige him?

We ended the evening on the busy Main Street, outside of the Hampshire Council of Governments, where Annie told us of a worker at the nearby Shop Therapy, which had long ago housed a bank, who had seen a male apparition, dressed in a long coat, sporting a bowler hat, who walked toward the back of the store and disappeared.

We touched on, but didn’t explore, the old Northampton State Hospital, the institution housing long razed, but an eerie, someone-is-watching-me, creepy office building remained that I had a meeting at several years ago, and was all too happy to leave.  All of the buildings are now torn down, and condominiums are either being planned, or built, on the land. I expect many of those owners will experience paranormal events with all that traumatic energy concentrated there.

Annie spoke of other fairly well-known and not-so-known encounters, unexplained phenomena, legends, and personal experience that made my spine tingle, and I want to visit some of the places to hopefully experience a few ghostly scenes for myself.

Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, or the paranormal, Annie’s, Haunted History Tour, lends insight to Northampton, and the Pioneer Valley’s past, and how we’re always walking in history – and one day soon – we’ll be part of that pageant too.

May you live and die well.

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

 

Summer Times

Summertime reminds me most of my next oldest sister, Allona.  I think of my eldest sister, Rachel, too, but Allona was more adventurous and high-spirited.  Allona could also be intractable and bossy, but thankfully those times were less when we were younger.

Allona lived in several Rhode Island towns over the years, some areas better than others. She was gifted with a parrot when she was in her early 20’s, whom she still has.  Her parrot was cool when she first got him, except for his deafening jungle squawking early in the morning & whenever the humans around him got loud.  Now, he’s a cranky old bird who delights in going after exposed toes, or snapping at anyone foolish enough to try to touch him.  Allona has taken very good care of him over the years, but they’ve both grown more ornery over time.  I wouldn’t mind him so much if he could be trained not to squawk so piercingly.

Summers in the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s were often delightful, however.  We’d spend days by the shore, go dancing at night, and mostly enjoy each others’ company playing card games like Pitch or Spades.  Sometimes we’d go camping, my favorite part being the smell of brewing coffee on the camp stove those early mornings.  Camping lost its thrill for me as time went on and my body’s aches rebelled at bed rolls and even at air mattresses, but it was the least expensive option to go anywhere and stay for several days.

Life changed when I had my son.  I wasn’t as carefree anymore, and though we camped a few times when my son was a baby and toddler, it was more stressful than enjoyable.  I camped several times with my son and some of his friends in his pre-teens and teens, but after he was 13 or 14, my company was no longer desirable, which worked out because my body didn’t desire camping anymore either!

I always felt welcome at my sister’s house in my teens and twenties, and considered it a home away from home.  I am still comfortable at my sister’s, but I feel more like a guest these days.  Part of that is maturity – I’m more helpful and recognize that she has an order to her home that she likes, just as I have – so I try to keep my footprint small when I’m there.  In our teens and twenties, I didn’t think about respecting her space and resources – not that I was slovenly or over-consuming – it just wasn’t foremost in my mind back then, and neither was it in hers.

Allona was an energetic, adventurous, go-getter – and she still is – but now her efforts are more inwardly directed.  We figure out what’s important to us as we mature, and, often, our world becomes smaller as we let go of people and things that no longer serve us.

I don’t want to let go of Allona, or any of my family.  They’ve become more precious to me with time’s passage, and now that my son is grown, I feel I’ve reverted back to young adulthood – wanting adventure and close, happy, and carefree friendships to spend my time.  My body’s limitations tell me otherwise, and the sad distance between my son & I, when I had hoped to grow closer as friends once he was an adult on his own.

But today I feel a titillating warm summer breeze calling me to the beach, calling me to adventure, and I wish I were with Allona to share it.

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

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.

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

 

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.

Early July

Bonfire Night

I’ve moved into a fairly close-knit community with a vibrant social center in Western Massachusetts, and I went for a walk with my boyfriend downtown from our house on a large hill, late last night, to see if the town’s annual bonfire was still burning.
There’s only one street light at the top of the hill and we walked in near darkness until we reached the town center at the bottom of the hill. If my boyfriend hadn’t been with me, I probably would have turned back. The only marker’s we had were a few fireflies now and then, blinking in the grass and bushes at the road’s edge. Crickets and tree frogs filled the humid night air as we walked hand in hand – occasional rustling from some other animal breaking into the night chorus – filling me with fears of bears and wolves, while my real fear should have been skunks searching for grubs. Being sprayed by a surprised skunk would have kept away any bears or wolves, but everyone else as well!
As we walked down the street, we saw great flames and sparks streaming up into the sky, lighting a wide expanse around the park. We continued around the park’s edge to the playground and swung for a while, watching the emanated light show, and hearing the chatter of several generations around us.
I felt linked to all the people there, as well as those from bonfires past – and to cultures who’ve used bonfires to mark celebrations and festivals throughout time.
The fire and sparks shimmered in the night air, sometimes looking like mini-fireworks, other times looking like live creatures taking flight from their great burning mother. I stepped backwards for several yards as we left the park, mesmerized by the ever-changing, shimmering glow and off-shooting flares.
We walked back up to our house and laid down on the driveway to watch the night sky for a half-hour or so, later drifting to sleep on a comfortable bed, grateful for such a magical night.

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