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

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

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

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

What A Day, December 21, 2012

I picked my son up from Boston yesterday for our family Christmas gathering this weekend, and experienced torrential rain and blustering wind most of the way down.  Being December 21st, with all the hype of impending apocalypse, it was somewhat unnerving to drive through the deluge, but if the end were near, what better way to spend it than trying to get to my child?

When I visited my father in Florida many years ago, there were several days of intense downpours that I was caught in while driving, once so heavy that I had to pull over and wait for the storm to pass.  Yesterday reminded me of driving in Florida except I only considered pulling over once, and then the rain let up enough that I didn’t have to.  I’m sure people thought I was crazy as I passed them, but I could see well enough, and never got near hydroplaning speeds.  I did hit a patch of water on an overpass that made me veer to the left, but I was lucky to not be with other traffic then.

Just as I hit the four lane section of Route 2 outside of Boston, the wind died down, the rain subsided, the sun shone through patches of separating cloud cover, and I saw a northerly rainbow.  Coming into Boston proper, the sun was out in earnest, with only cumulus clouds floating in scattered clumps, as though the fearsome tempest had never occurred.

After getting my son, who was in a happier mood than when I last saw him, I had him drive back.  There was heavy traffic leaving the city, and Route 2 was bumper to bumper cars until we passed Concord.  As we headed into Western MA, the cloud cover grew steadily, and the rain picked up once more.  We didn’t experience any more downpours, but the steady rain and moisture kicked up from car tires, combined with the growing dark, made for a dismal drive home.  We rewarded ourselves with dinner out once we got back to town, and my son was vivacious and chatty the whole time, creating a stellar end to my day.

I realized that my son’s moodiness during the Thanksgiving break had far more to do with the slump he was in than not wanting my company.  It’s important for me to remember that I’m his safety in the sense that he’s completely himself when he’s around me, so if he’s non-communicative, it’s about him, not me.  My job is to love and accept him, regardless of anything else, which I’ve always done – even if I grumble about his attitude at times.  I have more information than I had before, and now I’ll have better suggestions next time I hear or see his discontent.

For now, I’m grateful he’s with me over the holiday, and I’m glad we’re all still here – even though there wasn’t any apocalyptic danger associated with yesterday’s date.

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

Losing My Place In Line Got Me Closer To The President

I spent a sleepless night Friday because I drove to New Hampshire at 3 a.m. so I could get in line to be among the first getting into the rally for President Obama and the James Taylor concert.  I had no idea how many people would show up, but it was free, and I love James Taylor’s music, and respect our President.  I don’t entirely agree with our President, but as far as policies go, he’s on the right side of history.  The republican agenda against women – and against anyone but the monied elite, quite frankly – is just too repugnant to sit this one out.

It was a bit chilly, but the people who were directly in line behind me hailed from my area, which felt serendipitous.  We banded together and did our best to get up as close as we could near the VIP paddock, but there were still so many people in front of us that seeing the President would be difficult.

Sadly, I had drunk a large coffee earlier, and as the people continued to press in, I couldn’t wait any longer to use the bathroom, and figured I’d never get back to where I was because the porta-potties were far away from where I was standing.  I gave the people I had met my email address and asked them to send a picture of the President, if they were able to get a good one.

After using the bathroom, I tried to get as close as I could to the area I had been before, and started walking toward an open area.  A volunteer standing there asked for my pass, and I told her I had been standing over there and had gone to use the bathroom and was just trying to get back, and I guess I was the straw and she was the camel, and she blew up at me a bit, and said ‘Oh, just go!’.  So I did.  I didn’t realize until then that it would lead me right into the VIP area, and I was a hundred yards closer to the President’s stage than I would have been if I hadn’t had to use the bathroom.

I was still about six rows back from the fenced area in front of the podium stage, and I so would have liked to hug the President, or shake his hand, or get a fist bump even, but I didn’t want to try to push through to the front, and felt grateful to be as close as I was!

After the rally was over, I saw the people I had stood in line with in the same area I was in, and asked them how they got there.  Someone had opened up the gating and several of the people standing there got in the VIP area before security realized the breach and closed the gate off again.  My acquaintances had gotten to shake the President’s hand, even though they didn’t get as close to the President’s stage as I did.  Maybe I’ll get to meet the President at some point in the next four years during his second term. 🙂

I was so tired driving home, but so grateful for the experience.

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement

I decided to add a Photo Challenge.  This may have been a prior challenge, I’m not positive, but if so, I missed it!

I was on the train home from Penn Station in Manhattan two days ago, and think this image captures movement pretty well:

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirits

This picture my son took in Ireland feels like a good fit for this challenge.  I think it’s a statue of basketball players, but I’m not sure, because it also looks like someone holding the cookie jar above every one else’s heads!  However, I love the rainbow in the background.

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Two Subjects

This photograph of The Twelve Apostles and my son, is from our trip to Australia several years ago:

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

Back Home

I traveled with my son to Oregon to see his big sister and meet her family this past week.  It was an amazing trip, and not nearly enough time.

I’m sad today because we’ve been home two days now, and I finally caught up on sleep, and necessary life tasks, and have time to reflect on our short visit and how much I miss being with my son, and how we hadn’t seen his sister for ten years!

She’s always been in my heart, and I think I waited for her to make contact because I’m not really anything to her except her brother’s Mom, since her Dad and I parted (and her Dad and I had a strained relationship for so long), and I didn’t want to impose on her.  She was busy with college and work and living.

I think I was wrong.  I should have pushed it more, then all that time wouldn’t have gone by without connection.  Mostly, I felt that it was up to them.  My son and his sister kept in touch by email, and with Facebook, and I don’t care what the new ‘norm’ is – Facebook, Skype, email, etcetera – do not replace meeting in person!  No electronic media approaches being in someone’s physical presence.  There are articles saying that people have less need to meet in person because they’re so connected electronically.  Excuse me?  These are human beings were talking about, right?  Does anyone remember the psychological studies about the need for touch?

I don’t doubt that we connect through social media – and it may even save people’s lives – but it cannot replace face to face contact.  Being present with those we love fosters communion, strengthens bonds, and rejuvenates our spirits.  Physical presence stimulates all sorts of neuro-chemical reactions that help us thrive.

I never think I can love someone more than I do until I am with them.  Maybe I don’t love them more, but I am reminded anew why I feel so strongly about them, and how much they add to my life.  Maybe Skype, and the like, approximates that because you can see and hear the other person, or people, but you can’t touch them – and that will always be missing – even when ‘touch’ becomes available artificially.

Regardless, I know that saying: ‘don’t be sad because it’s over; be glad that it happened’, and I am, but also, stop trying to take my sadness from me!  Being sad is as much a part of my condition as being happy is.  I’d like the balance to reflect more of the ‘good’ feelings, as do we all, I would hope.  I’ll feel better in a few more days as our trip recedes into deeper memory, but the feelings are visceral now because I know what I’m missing.  I don’t want ten more years to go by before we’re in their presence again!

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrast

I took this picture of a ‘singing-stone’ path at the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel, when I was on pilgrimage in 2004.  The tinkling sounds of the Terra-cotta as people walked was lovely to hear, and I especially liked the contrast between these two paths.

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

Holiday Get-Aways

I am on several e-lists of vacation-hawking sites, and most of the time I look at the Grecian seaside pictures, the trips down the Nile, to the Great Pyramids, and the Sphinx in Egypt, the azure waters of so close, yet so far away locales, drooling over them all.  After wiping the drool off my computer keyboard, I sigh, and think: someday, I’ll get to all of those places.  Then to console myself when reality sets in, I remember that most of the places the brochures depict are aerial shots on perfect days (and often air-brushed or otherwise tweaked) that never show cockroaches, bed-bugs, or the final room bill…

Yeah, if you need a sour-grape story, I’m your girl!

Just a while ago, I was looking at one such travel site advertising an Inn in New  Hampshire (basically my neck of the woods), for a lovely winter vacation spot.  First off, my idea of a winter vacation is somewhere more southerly than New Hampshire – and I don’t mean Rhode Island.  Secondly, the picture the site shows makes me think of the Stanley hotel in Colorado that inspired Stephen King‘s novel: The Shining:

Mountain View Grand Resort, Whitefield, New Hampshire

I know it’s a beautiful resort, and it’s probably a lovely place to stay, but it creeps me out.  Now, if they wanted to pay my way to stay there for a weekend and write about my experience, I wouldn’t turn them down.  I just wouldn’t think of it as a ‘vacation’ per se, but maybe more like an investigation.

Just for reference, here’s a photograph of the Stanley Hotel:

I know that there are many people who look forward to, and really enjoy, cold weather, and snow, and all the winter activities therein.  I, however, would rather write about those frigid climes and enterprise from the warmth of an Aruban beach.  Heck, I’m not picky, any equatorial or South Pacific locale suits me just fine.

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

Westward Ho!

“I just can’t take it anymore,” I complained to Tammy, cradling the phone with my neck while I finished washing the dishes.  “I need a serious change and I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, why don’t you come live out here with me and Dean?  That way you have a place to stay for a while until you get on your feet, and I’m happy to help out.”

I was quiet on the phone for a minute. “Wow”, I finally said through my tears.  “Really, you’d do that for me?   You do remember what it’s like to live with a three-year old, right?”

Tammy laughed and said: “Yes, and I miss having a little boy around.  Danny wants to continue living with his father in New Hampshire, and that’s been really hard for me, but he’s thirteen, and he has good friends there, and I just have to accept that I’m only going to see him for vacations.  I think it’ll be good for both of us if you come live out here.”

“Let me think about it some more, and I’ll get back to you.”

“I’m here for you, whether you stay in Maine, or come out to San Diego.”

“Thanks, Tammy.  I love you.”

“Love you too.  Bye.”

“Bye.”

That conversation in March of 1994 changed my life.  I had a new option, and while I had friends and some support where I was, I was a single mom in poverty, with no car and only a part-time job that I was about to lose.  It snowed over a hundred inches that winter in South Portland, Maine, and I was very close to giving up my son to his alcohol-addicted father, and committing suicide.  I had a plan, and I was getting the courage to implement it when chance circumstances re-connected me with a friend I hadn’t talked to in nearly ten years.

Imagining a different life helped make the life I was in a bit more tolerable, and I began preparations to make the move.  Several friends and relatives told me that it would be stupid to move so far away with someone I hadn’t seen in so long, even though we had been best friends through high school, and I had a young child to consider, and what was I thinking, dragging him across the country?

The other contingent, whom I sided with, saw it as an opportunity to better myself and give my son a chance at a better life too.  As I went, so went my son, type of thing.

I made my decision, and Tammy, who was going to fly back East in July to stay with her father for a few weeks while spending time with her son, decided to drive out with a friend, and bring me and my son back out with them on their return trip.

She had a pick-up truck with a tall shell for the truck bed, which she furnished with a mattress, and I was to sell my beds and other large belongings because they wouldn’t fit in the small trailer we’d rent for the trip back to California.  She had a guest room with a bed that my son would sleep on, and I would stay on the couch until I found work and could buy new beds.  I sold all of our big furniture, and kept my son’s books and most of his toys, as well as dishes and whatever else could fit in the trailer, because we’d be taking turns driving while one of us slept in the back of the truck.  I ended up paying for one night in a motel room so we could have a shower and get a decent night’s sleep.

My boyfriend at the time and I had a rocky relationship, but we liked each other enough to work through issues.  He asked me to stay in Maine, but conceded that he didn’t know where he saw our relationship going.  The week before I left, he told me he would have asked me to marry him if I didn’t have a child.  After he said that, I knew leaving was the right decision.  So many choices in my life translated to ‘damned if I don’t, damned if I do’ propositions.

August 4th, moving day: Tammy and her friend, Ann, were to arrive around Noon.  I spent the morning cleaning my apartment, and bringing whatever didn’t sell, and I didn’t want, outside to bring to the dump when my friend arrived.  My son was upset that most of our things were gone, and he didn’t want to go anywhere.  By the time Tammy got there, I was sweaty and irritated, and wondering if this had been such a good idea after all.

It was really good to see Tammy, and Ann and I pretty much instantly disliked one another. She made some remark about my attitude, and I was kind of stunned that this person I barely knew was openly judging me after having worked my ass off all morning, with a crabby child in tow, and no other help.  “Fuck you”, I wish I had said, but having a bit more grace than her, I fluffed it off and asked Tammy if she’d bring the junk pile to the dump, while I got some lunch for my son and played with him for a while. She, being a parent herself, was completely empathetic about my state of mind, and told me to take a break, and she’d deal with the trash and help me finish whatever cleaning was left to do later.

It took several more hours than expected to finish up, rent the trailer, and make sure we were ready to hit the road.  We left Maine around 5pm, with my son and I in the back of the truck for the overnight drive.  Luckily the truck’s motion put my son to sleep fairly soon, but I had too much anxiety, so I slept very little.

We drove through the night, choosing a route through the Poconos, which Tammy later told me creeped her out because Ann had fallen asleep, and my son and I were out of view in the way back – the window into the cab being hidden behind boxes, blankets, and pillows – and she was thinking about the Sleepy Hollow legend, imagining seeing the Headless Horseman as she drove through the darkness, with few other travelers that late.  We could have kept each other company, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving my son in the back of the truck where I wouldn’t know what was going on with him, or with Ann, who wasn’t fond of children.

I drove the next morning, our route taking us through most of Ohio, and then down through Kentucky, and finally into Tennessee where we would stay on I-40 for the bulk of the trip.

We stayed in a motel in Tennessee the one night we didn’t drive through.  One bane of the trip was automatic flush toilets, which seemed to be installed at every stop we made, and which my son was afraid of, along with any loud, not-easily understood noises, so we had to find rest stops with a Port-A-Potty (or a wooded area) for most of the journey.

By the third day, we were all miserable, and my son was the only one vocalizing it freely and frequently, to which Ann questioned my child-rearing style of just letting him complain. I told her I had learned to tune out most of what he said, and did my best to keep him entertained by imitating his favorite Sesame Street characters voices, while making up stories, singing songs, and playing games, which seemed to annoy Ann, and made it even more pleasurable for me.  Poor Tammy was caught between trying to support her friend, but enjoying being with my son, grumpy or not.

I’m sure Ann was most happy when my son and I were riding in the back of the truck, or when she was back there sleeping.  I was most happy when it was just Tammy, my son, and I, riding up front.  I was driving when we neared Flagstaff, Arizona, and I saw a ‘Grand Canyon, 50 miles’ sign.  Ann was riding up front with me and my son, and I asked her if it would be ok if we took a detour as I had never seen the Grand Canyon, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity.  Ann said she’d rather not, but if Tammy was willing, then she’d go along with it.  The hitch was that I’d have to wake Tammy up to ask her, and I didn’t want to interrupt her sleep, so we continued on into California where Ann took over the driving until we reached her apartment in Ocean Beach.

I’ve always regretted not making a unilateral decision and just driving to the Grand Canyon because I still have not been there.

I was talking to Tammy on the phone the other day, both of us amazed at how much time has gone by, and she suggested I move back out once my son is through college, and I’m seriously considering it.

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

Cape Cod!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is how the day looked once I got outside:

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

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

What A Trip

A few women friends and I are trying to plan a trip to Ireland this winter.  I will have to put most of the amount on credit, and while I’m used to living this way, I’m also hesitant because I know that the trip will end up costing twice as much as it would if I could pay outright.  Still, it’s an opportunity for adventure, and maybe have a better experience than the last time I was there.

Part of planning is trying to get the best deals on flights and lodging, but then there’s food, transportation, and incidentals to consider.  One of the women used public transit when she was last there, but having a car means more scheduling freedom.  I’m open to whatever works best for all of us, and is the least expensive.  We’re also thinking of staying in hostels, and I stayed at a hostel while I was in Israel, and it was fine.  I actually enjoyed rooming with others, and my luggage was safe.  Plus, when I was in Israel, I was on my own, and stuck up for myself when a rip-off Sherut driver tried to make me pay twice.  He acted like he was going to keep my luggage unless I paid him again, yelling at me in either Hebrew or Arabic, or Farsi, or whatever language he spoke, pretending he didn’t understand what I was saying, but I just kept shaking my head ‘no’, and repeating “I already paid”, until finally, he threw my bags down at my feet and got back in his taxi grumbling loudly as he went.

Living on a shoestring budget is difficult, and I know I have to pay for what I get, but the last time I traveled, the plane tickets dropped by a hundred dollars a week after I bought mine.  The airline gave me a credit to use within a year, but I couldn’t because one trip every five or ten years is the most I’m willing to pay off long-term.

I’m still paying off the last Ireland trip and that was only a few years ago.  I know I’m privileged compared to a large portion of the world’s population to even consider leisure travel.  I am very grateful for the trips I’ve taken, and for living in the United States as opposed to somewhere like Uganda or any other impoverished and/or war-torn nation.  It’s all relative.

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

Cruisin’ Back To School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where I Belong

I was excited and happy to be in Boston yesterday.  I love the bustle, and variety – maybe not so much being stuck behind a garbage truck for miles – but I don’t like that at home either.  The smells of the city are more concentrated, not having anywhere to go from being hemmed in through sky-scrapers and a labyrinthine road system that’s always in the flux of disrepair and repair somewhere along the routes, and usually in several areas at once.  The same is true in the hill towns, but it’s not as oppressive as it seems in a more concentrated environment.

I enjoy the challenge of successfully navigating through the crush of people and traffic.  I practiced letting go of control while my son drove through the city on our way in.  We very nearly hit a pedestrian, and it would have been that guy’s fault crossing against the green light, his eyes only on his destination – meeting someone on the other side of the street.  If I hadn’t been there to call out for my son to stop, that guy would have been hit because my son said he never saw him.  I’m glad we averted that tragedy, and that my son didn’t have to bear that responsibility, but I hope the event made him a more aware driver.  This is real life, son.  People are idiots – including myself…

On the drive home, I started to relax, as I usually do, once I headed into wilder country.  Seeing the hills of home in the distance at about the half-way mark between here and Boston is like a drug kicking in and I feel like I belong to that land.  I know my friends and some family members are there, but it’s the actual vista that claims my heart.  I will probably die here, or ask that my ashes be sprinkled from a plane over the hills. (Can you imagine being those hit with my ashes? “What the he-” choke, cough.)  Maybe I can have someone just spread my ashes on the forest grounds.

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

White Mountains Trip

Two of my best women friends and I headed out to hike in the Franconia Notch State Park, located in Lincoln, New Hampshire.  We hiked the Cannon Mountain, Kinsman Ridge Trail very leisurely.  The temperature was around 80°F, but we were in shade most of the day, and the trail followed along the Pemigewasset River stream.  The water level was low so the falls along the way were not as dramatic as they must have been this spring after such a snowy winter.  The bridge that leads to Lonesome Lake was washed out this winter, and we saw other testaments to the power of the river in trees that had been uprooted or broken off, and even a large metal beam torn from the bridge and deposited nearly a half-mile downstream.

We could have trekked up the river bed for the whole hike, but it would have been more challenging than we wished to tackle yesterday because the entire way is strewn with boulders and rocks of various size.  There were many people swimming and wading in the glacial pothole pools and other places where the river water pooled deep enough to swim in – and even jump off the rocks into – all the way up the trail.  Unfortunately, I have a wound on my wrist that I couldn’t get wet, so I only waded in the water.  Otherwise, I’d have been jumping off the rocks into the wonderfully cool water with everyone else.

We arrived around Noon, ate our lunch out on one of the rock faces (smoothed over by the last ice age’s receding glacier and by water action), and we finished our hike around 5pm.  Then we drove down into the town center and had dinner.  On our drive back through Deliverance country, we rode through a small town with a big sense of humor.  There were more ramshackle houses that looked like something out of The Beverly Hillbillies (before they got rich) than there were houses that increased the property values.  There was “Red-Neck Mini Golf” and a ‘mall’ that was one building with the word ‘Mall’ painted in large block letters across the side of the building – which could have had a few shops inside – but it looked more like a joke painted on someone’s barn, and if it wasn’t a joke, I’m very glad I don’t live there…

The disparity between those with and those without money, or as former President Bush so humorously called the former: “the haves, and the have mores” was alarmingly clear.  I could feel the need for a soap-box coming up, but I quelled my desire and remained silent.  An acquaintance recently remarked how it’s not the fault of the wealthy that they’re smarter, harder workers, and I couldn’t hold back then on such an ignorant remark.

The rest of our drive back home brought us through areas of gorgeous landscape that reminded me how beautiful and varied this part of the country is.  I was glad to get a shot of the lovely pinks, purple, and orange tinges of the clouds as the sun set.

It was a perfect frame to a mostly perfect day.

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

Doors Of Dublin

On my Ireland trip in 2009, I took pictures of doors that I had hoped to make into a poster after seeing various ‘doors of’ posters in the past that I thought were cool.  I don’t have the best camera, and am an amateur photographer (obviously), but here is my attempt (click on the smaller image to enlarge it):

I thought it strange that several doors have their knobs in the middle of the door, but that is an exception as most of the places we went had the knobs on the side of the door.  I wish one of the doors with the knob in the center of the door had belonged to a public venue because it would have been interesting to see if it felt as odd as it looked to open the door.

This back-garden hedge entry is not in Dublin, but I liked it so much I wanted to include it in this post.  It’s from a Bed & Breakfast that we stayed at in County Cork that made me feel like I’d enter Narnia by going through it, or at least into the Secret Garden:

I hope to take another trip when I can spend more time in one area instead of trying to sight-see the country in a week…

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

Leaving Colorado

When I was nineteen I moved to Boulder, Colorado, to live with one of my sisters who couldn’t find a roommate, so she asked if I would move out there, find work, and help her pay her rent until the lease was up and she could move back east.  I was only out there for six months, but it was quite the journey for me.  We lived near the Flatirons, on Baseline Road.  My sister worked for the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I found office work about a week after I arrived.

Boulder is a beautiful city and my sister and I had a lot of fun doing things like walking around the Pearl Street Mall, and frequenting The Dark Horse, a really cool bar and restaurant just down the road from where we lived.

Our apartment complex had a pool and I taught a few of the younger kids who lived there how to do flips off the diving board.  I remember one girl, Michelle, who was about ten, flipped too close to the board and slammed her head on it.  What an awful moment that was.  I think she got a concussion and came through it alright, but I stopped teaching anyone how to flip after that.  Michelle became one of my constant companions when I was home, and even though she was a kid, I was emotionally immature enough that we got along well.  I think of her now and then and wonder how her life has turned out.  I hope she has had (and is having) an amazing life.

My sister made plans to visit her best friend in Seattle, who was about to have a baby, and I told Michelle that she could come to the airport with us to see my sister off.  I had made friends with a few people from work and they were going to see Jimmy Buffet, at Red Rocks (a gorgeous natural amphitheater concert venue in Morrison, CO), and invited me to go.  I was so psyched for the concert but it fell on the same day as my sister’s departure.  My sister understood and was fine with me not seeing her off, and I decided to just blow off my promise to Michelle about taking her to the airport.  What I didn’t understand was how excited Michelle was about going.  I knew she’d be disappointed so I waited until that day to tell her (hey, I was nineteen and an idiot!).  She wasn’t just disappointed, she was devastated.  I didn’t go to the concert, but was sullen and resentful for most of the way to Denver Airport.  I finally got over myself and had a lot of fun with Michelle, and I’m glad I did the right thing.

The summer went by quickly, as it always does, and my sister mapped out our journey back east.  She wanted to go to Yellowstone Park, and see the Old Faithful geyser on our way back, so off we went.  The small U-Haul my sister rented with the car wasn’t enough to hold all our belongings, so the back seat and the roof of the car was also laden down with our belongings.  We probably should have rented one of the small U-Haul trucks, but it either didn’t fit our budget, or they didn’t have one available.

Our trek back home is memorable for some of the mishaps and not just getting to see the amazing landscape as we went.  Our journey was to take us up through Wyoming, into Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and finally Massachusetts (where I was going back to), and my sister would be driving on to Vermont (where her best friend had moved back to from Seattle).  It was a long, tedious drive from Boulder to Yellowstone Park, but my sister had booked our route to stay at specific motels along the way, so we had a schedule to maintain – which was good – but also added the stress of keeping to a time schedule.

After leaving Yellowstone we were anxious to make it to our motel for that night, and decided to take the advice of a local for a quicker route to our destination.  We were movin’ along, singing and enjoying our journey into Montana when we came upon a sign declaring: Welcome To Wyoming.  We both exclaimed ‘WELCOME TO WYOMING?!’ at the same time, stunned that our hours long drive had taken us back to the state we just left.  Trying to find our way to the right route with only a national map (GPS’s not having been invented for the general public yet, nor had cell phones, or the internet) took us through a small town on a winding road where my sister negotiated a sharp turn too fast and we lost some of the belongings that were tied to the roof.  We found what we could in the dark, secured the load on the roof, and finally made it back to the highway and on to that night’s destination.

The rest of the trip went more smoothly, but we did experience a harrowing ride in rush hour traffic on the outskirts of Chicago.  My sister lost a few more of her belongings on the highway, which we couldn’t stop for, but got the rest tightened up again after that.

While it was wonderful to see so much of the United States, and experience some of our national treasures, and other interesting features along the way, I was never so happy to get back home.  My sister felt much the same, but on her way to Vermont, the rental car broke down, or ran out of gas, I think.  She got some help, but when they got back to the vehicle, someone had stolen the rest of her belongings from the roof of the car.  It was a disappointing end for my sister, having already lost so much on the journey home.

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