Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Thanks, Granddaddy! Sort Of.

Every time I take a cloth out of my pocket to wipe the sweat off my face and fold it up and put it back into my pocket, I feel as if I am channeling my grandfather. How many times did I watch him do the same as he worked outside in the Roseland summer heat? As he sawed palm fronds away from their tree, as he turned the compost, as he dug holes to plant things in down on his river lot, as he chopped wood and stacked wood, as he started the trash fire in the burn barrel, as he trimmed and as he sawed and as he hammered and as he went about the incredibly busy life he led in his retirement.

Perhaps this is where I get my seemingly unending need to always be doing something. Something physical. Something outside, mostly. Something that at the end of the day has my bones wracked, my joints sore. I am almost certain I got my need to suffer and feel guilty from him. I can't tell you the recipe that was used to feed me these useless emotions but it probably involved horehound candy, sulfur water, overdone roast beef, and quite honestly, a great deal of respect.
Oh, my granddaddy. I wish I'd known him more as an adult but I certainly did know him well as a child. Or as well as a child can know a god-like figure in her life whose rules were never disobeyed, whose proclamations were taken as seriously as the words Moses brought down from the mountain, engraved in stone.
Don't ever get crumbs in the butter.
Don't finish his sentences for him.
Don't ever lie to him. Ever. It won't go well if you do.
Never, EVER borrow anything from his shop without asking.
Always make your bed.
Always clean or polish wood WITH the grain.
A place for every thing and every thing in its place.
Follow directions! They are given for a reason!
And my favorite- Spread your honey on your toast with your fork and then you can lick the fork.

I am thinking of him right now because I have wiped the sweat from my brow over and over in the last few hours. It has finally felt like summer here today, although not the broiling summer of July or August, but still- enough to get an inkling of what it's going to feel like.
It was cool enough when I walked this morning but I still sweated enough to soak my hair through. If horses sweat and men perspire and women glow, I am a horse.

After my walk, Jessie and the boys came out to see the chicks and hang out and that was a sweet time. We had lunch and August was not much interested in it, but did dart in once in awhile for a bite.

And Levon was a happy boy, sitting on his Mer's lap. 

He wants to grab everything within reach and most of what's not in reach too. It is impossible to read August a book while holding Levon because he WANTS THAT BOOK and he wants it badly.

We cleaned out the baby chick pen and we took the two Buff Orpingtons out to live with the Jungle Fowl because they are getting huge and appear to have enough feathers to weather the cool nights. We gave the outside birds more food and fresh water and the Buffs seemed to take the change in residence right in stride.
There are charts which tell you how old your chicks need to be to withstand specific temperatures and at what ages they can go outside but as with almost all of the chicken information I've gotten, it would seem that it's all pretty arbitrary and that chickens are mostly hardy and not very fussy and, like newborns, are far more sturdy than they appear.

And then I read August some books including one that I really have to throw away because I hate it and when he asked for it, I said, "I don't like that book, August. Let's not read it."
"You like it," he told me with grave authority.
"No, I do not like it."
"You like it," he said again, opening up the book.
He, too, has figured out that he is the boss of me. Everything on this planet is the boss of me.
How did this happen?
I do not know.

I do know, however, that my kitchen and laundry "room" and the little bathroom off the kitchen are now clean and feel like silk on my feet and smell of Fabuloso and vinegar. Would this be so exciting if I mopped those floors more than once a season?
I think not.

I just know that I'm exhausted again and have almost suffered enough to assuage my sense of guilt for a few hours and that I'm going to go make a rice and spinach casserole.
And that I need a shower in the very worst sort of way.
And also, that my grandfather did not keep chickens in Roseland but that he did keep them on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee when my mother was growing up. She used to tell me stories of having to collect eggs from hens who did not want them taken.
I wish I could talk to Granddaddy about his chickens. What kind he kept, what he fed them, if he felt any sort of affection for them or if they were just little machines that laid eggs for the family.
I wish I could talk to him about a lot of things, one of them being why in the world he liked horehound candy. Was that part of HIS need to suffer?
Oh well.

Carry on.

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

No. I Do Not Believe In Weird Stuff

I just watched a video and read an article about a completely distraught little boy who asked the Pope if his father, who had recently died and who was an atheist but who had had his four children baptized, would be in heaven. He said that his father was a good man, even if he was not a believer. And the Pope, that big Catholic Daddy, assured the little boy that God would be so pleased that the father, despite being an atheist, had had his children baptized that surely, he would not abandon him and that yes, he would be in heaven.
How compassionate of the Pope!
Bless his heart!
And what kind of a fucking church teaches children that people they love will not go to heaven but, in fact, will probably burn in eternal flames because they did not accept their particular beliefs? Not only teach children this but instill that belief into these sweet, innocent little children so that if one of their parents dies which has got to be one of the hardest things on earth to go through, they have to also fear for the very soul of their beloved mother or father.
Well, good for the Pope who seems to have at least a slight grip on reality and who has said some fairly shockingly humane things but it's not like he's actually changed any of the doctrine.
Nor will he.

Anyway, I just hope that no one gets ahold of my grandkids and tries to convince them that I'll be burning in hell when I die because I'm an atheist. Or at most a Possibilian.

I need to talk to them some more about energy and the impossibility of it being created or destroyed and reassure them that as long as they live they will not only carry me in their genes but also hopefully, in their hearts which will always know that I loved them even before I knew they were going to be born.

Okay. Enough of that.

Owen had a field trip to Panacea to visit the marine lab which we love so much and Lily had offered to chaperone and so Ms. Magnolia June came to the Mer and Bop house to hang out. We had a good time. She was quite amiable today and open to almost all suggestions. I made a little video and in it she says "Yeaaah!" in the way that only Maggie can do.

Those curls. Those cheeks. Those lips! Those pudgy little arms and that beautiful skin. She is a darling girl and she reminds me so much of her beautiful mama.
We walked to the post office where she charmed the post mistress completely.
"She's so cute!" she kept saying.
And then we took the requisite and traditional picture by the door of the former train station where the post office is quartered.

How much do you want a pair of purple velvet sneakers?
She walked the whole way there and back and I was very proud of her and I told her so.

She wanted to feed the goats and so we did that too. We also cleaned up the baby chicks' pen and fed some cornbread to the Jungle Fowl out in the coop. We read a book, we played with dollies and pretended to go to sleep and wake up, we hung clothes on the line, we talked to and played with Boppy. We also ate spaghetti. Which was delicious.

Lily came to collect her little Hummel Angel around two and she had Owen with her. He and I went out to the garden and picked some sugar snap peas and a carrot and the carrot appeared to have two legs and so Owen made him into a man.

I love that boy so much. Look at him with his unique Owen hair style, his bear claw necklace that his Boppy made him. His head comes up to my chin now. 
And he still lets me hug him whenever I want to which is about all of the time. 

We kissed everyone good-bye when they left to go pick up Gibson at the bus stop and then I did a little yard work and Mr. Moon did some car-related work. It's been a sweet, easy day. 

Here's a picture I got of Baby Levon. 

Well. You know I'm his grandmother but the fact of the matter is, that is one darling adorable little boy. Jessie reports that August has been saying, "I miss Boppy's house. I missssssss Boppy's house."
I think he would be perfectly happy to sit next to his grandfather in that big leather Lazy Boy and watch fishing shows and read Outdoor Life for days. Perhaps he would condescend to occasionally let his Mer change his diaper or read him a kid book or make him some pancakes. 
Right this very second Mr. Moon is down the road and through the woods a bit, fishing from a pond to see if it would be a good place to take the grands to catch some perch or bream which is about a million times more exciting an activity than weeding a garden is. 

But that's okay. Boppy may have the fun machines and camper vans and fishing poles and power tools and deer heads on the wall and a truck, but Mer has...well? 
Control of the bacon? 
Yeah. That's it. 
Control of the bacon. 
Maybe I should start making more cookies. 

Ah, they know I love them. Now and forever. Or at least they will know it for as long as they remember me. 
Cookies couldn't hurt, though. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Ms. Moon Litany

Busy, busy, busy all day long. Got up to find it chilly and gorgeous and took my walk which was once again a joy.
Well, you know- a joy for something involving walking fast for a fairly long way up and down hills. It's just so damn beautiful on that road. Yes, there are hills but they are gently rolling, and trees line my entire route, bending over me to offer shade and a feeling of grace. Today I saw two Florida cracker cows laying in a pasture, their horns so long and pointed that a matador would faint if he entered the ring with one of them staring him down. I accidentally flushed two quail who had probably nested on the side of the road and they flew up with great and dramatic wing fluttering which was as startling to me as I had been to them. I did walk past a house with two dogs sunning in the yard, one a rather large, fierce looking white German Shepherd mix and he barked a little at me but did not bother to come chase me and his companion did not even deign to make a sound.

I came home and got ready to go to town and picked up Lily and Maggie. Maggie was so happy to see me. She is in a very good mood right now, having her mama back home. She was carrying her dolly and wearing her purple glitter Mary Jane's and she reminds me so much of her mother when she was a little girl.
We met up with Jessie and Levon at Costco. August was with his daddy, having fun at the scrap metal place. So we ladies and Levon did our shopping.

Magnolia June in a hat. 

And then off to lunch where Vergil and August met us. We asked Lily lots of questions about her cruise. It really does sound like they had such a good time. Here is a good-bye kiss shot. 

August, as usual, is attempting with great success to ignore the whole process while Maggie is throwing her whole being into it. 

And then Lily and I were off to Publix for the things that Costco did not have or else which we did not want to buy great and huge amounts of and then to wait for Owen and Gibson's bus and then I drove them all home. 

I came back to my own home where I unloaded the groceries, put everything away and turned my attention to chicken tending. I cleaned up the Little's pen and boy, will I be glad when those chicks are big enough to take outside! My beautiful sanctuary of a bathroom with the Talavera sink has become a chick nursery with all of the attendant odors and mess and noise. It's all right and I really don't mind it but it will be nice when it returns to its true and beautiful purpose which is to delight me every time I walk into it. 

Also? I need a dust-buster. If you've ever tried to clean the chick feed out of the bottom of a Pack'n'Play, you will understand. 

Anyway, I gave them fresh bedding and food and water and greens and grapes and some crumbled up cornbread and then I took a bowl of the same out to the Jungle Fowl who survived the cold night just fine. They were excited to have the treats. 

And there was laundry to do and dishwasher unloading and bread making (I make the dough in the food processor so it's not really that hard) and spaghetti-sauce-starting. The bread is rising nicely, the sauce is simmering sweetly. It has zucchini, onion, red peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, cut-up leftover eggplant parmesan, grass-fed beef, and I'm about to go throw some spinach in it. Oh. And a cheater's jar of Paul Newman's Sockarooni! which was on sale at Publix. 
I don't think I'll bother with a salad. If that doesn't have enough nutrients in it, we'll just have to suffer. 

And I'm exhausted. 

i.e. Nothing new here.

Have you read this?
Adam Davidson's lips to god's ears. Or gods' ears. Or, oh fuck. Just let it be true. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Don't Know Shit, Part 1,407

What a strange day it's been for me. I woke up at 7:30 when Mr. Moon got up but immediately fell back to sleep. It was raining and I slept and dreamed and woke up three hours later to find that I'd slept right through a huge storm.
Eleven hours. I slept eleven hours last night.
And I mean solid.
It rained and drizzled on and off all day long and I just did little household things and started a sock monkey for Levon and my husband has (for once) heeded my instructions for him to spend all day relaxing with his foot up.
And now the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining so brightly that it's as if it's trying to make up for the entire day of hiding in the short time before sunset. It is getting chilly and is supposed to be down into the forties tonight.
I do not remember ever having weather this cool in April in North Florida.
But hey- I'm not complaining about it. I am so damn grateful to have these cooler days and nights. In fact, I would almost consider this to be perfect weather.

And oh god. Here I am discussing the weather.
And sleep.
And sock monkey dolls.
And chickens.
Wait. I haven't discussed chickens yet.


That's one of the babies. They are all so happy, these chicks. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a batch of chicks as healthy and problem free as this young flock has been. 
Knock wood. 
I've been debating about bringing the jungle fowl kids into the house again tonight but I think I'm just going to cover their little coop and trust them to cozy up in the hay. 
I don't know. 
I particularly feel as if I don't know anything today. 
I don't know shit, in other words. 
About gardens or chickens or children or babies or anything. 
Well, maybe about biscuits. I do know a few things about biscuits. I made some this morning that were excellent. 
And I know that I'm glad that Lily and Jason are home and safe, having had a wonderful time. Lily said that one of her favorite parts about the whole trip was going to the beach in the Bahamas and being so amazed at the color of the water. 

Well, since I don't know anything and since I don't particularly feel like making anything up, I guess I'll end this here.

Love...Ms. Moon

Saturday, April 14, 2018

He Could Not Have Been A Better Boy

August's overnight went absolutely perfectly! He was such a good, big boy and I think he had a wonderful time. He did not want to go home this morning.
He ate a good bit of supper last night- fried grouper and steamed potatoes and corn on the cob and green beans and carrots. Of course, ketchup and ranch dressing were involved. That child will eat anything accompanied by what he calls dip. 
His Boppy watched him in the shower after supper and it was a very, very long shower. Boppy finally had to pry him out of there. And then I put him in his jammies and we laid down on my bed to read some books and then I told him it was time for him to go to sleep in his bed.
He really wasn't too interested in that. He didn't cry or fuss and we did put Big Bear and a dolly in there but no, thanks, not yet. 
And then the sweetest part of the whole visit happened for me. I said, "Do you want to listen to some music?"
"Yes," he said.
So we found my music app on my phone and I played him a few things but he wasn't too interested in any of them until I put on Joni Mitchell's Blue. 
That he liked and we listened to those songs I know so well, by heart and by bone, Joni's voice and the piano, the dulcimer. I held that little boy in my arms and thought about how I used to listen to that album over and over and over again in that alien dorm room in that alien state of Colorado, all that was familiar and loved by me left behind because of my need to escape from that which was familiar and horrendous. How I never in a million years would have thought that one day I would be listening to those same songs again, holding my beautiful little grandson in my arms and smelling his clean, damp hair, feeling his warmth as he relaxed into sleep.
Jack came and got up on the bed with us and August petted him as he listened to the music and within a few songs, he had fallen asleep and I laid there with him a little while, still listening, wondering at how it's all turned out.
And then I carefully put him into the little bed set up by our bed and covered him with two light blankets and he stretched and turned and held on to the doll and I swear to you- that little boy didn't make a peep all night long.
He didn't wake up until 8:30 this morning and when he did, he stood up and looked around as if trying to remember how he'd gotten there and I picked him up and put him beside me in the bed and we looked out of the window and he said, "The sky is up!"
"Yes it is," I said. "Should we go find Boppa?"
"We call him Boppy," he said.
"Okay. Let's go find your Boppy."
And we did and they played fishing games and read Outdoor Life together while I woke up and drank some coffee.

I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he joyfully announced that he would like pancakes and so there were pancakes which he shoveled in like a machine. August can eat some breakfast. 
Here he is with his Boppy, about to go let the chickens out and play in the camper van while Mer makes breakfast. 

Pajamas and Mickey Mouse boots- the perfect Saturday morning outfit.
Exactly correct attire for pulling carrots.

When his mama got here I'd gotten the little coop in the big coop outside all set up for the four jungle fowl birds and we ceremoniously carried them out in a box and set them in their new home. 

I think they will be happy there until they get bigger and meanwhile, things are a bit more peaceful in the chick pen in my bathroom. This whole transition is going to be a process. All of the chicks are different ages and in different stages of having the feathers which make it possible for them to leave the inside nursery and go outside. 

And tonight it is only going to be me and Mr. Moon here. I called the other grandmother and she is insistent that she wants to do the entire weekend with Owen and Gibson and Maggie and I salute her and think she is very brave and probably far more adventuresome than I am. She says that all is going well and I am glad of that. She also said that she has next week off work which will give her time to recover. 

Mr. Moon has been boat cleaning all day since August left except for one of his famous power naps. I will admit that I took a nap too but it was probably a great deal more leisurely than his was. 

Jessie and Vergil reported that they had a wonderful time on their date last night and Lily reports that she and Jason are having a wonderful time on their cruise. I can't wait to hear all about it. 

I hope my little chickens sleep well outside tonight in their protected coop with the clean hay to cozy up in. I hope that August sleeps as well for his mama and daddy as he did for his Mer and Boppy last night. I hope that Lily and Jason sleep sweetly in their cabin as the great boat they are on steams towards home. And I hope you sleep well too. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, April 13, 2018

My Sweet Boys Are Here

I think that Jessie and I got five (or was it seven?) more chicks and we have vowed and declared we are done for now. This makes a total of seventeen (nineteen?) living in the baby bed and we do indeed have a sampler pack of chicken varieties and at this point I can't even remember what we have but I do think we will be having lots of fun watching these different types of birds display their own inherent behaviors and laying their own unique eggs.

Mr. Moon got home and August was already here and he immediately switched every bit of his attention and allegiance from me to his grandfather and proclaimed again that he is Little Boppy. Right now he is sitting with Big Boppy in the Big Boppy chair. Mr. Moon's foot decided to get weird again and he got himself to his regular doctor's office this afternoon where they sent him for an ultrasound. It now appears that he has a small clot in a superficial vein and it's not going to kill him but he's on blood thinners. He remembered that before all of this stuff started he'd banged that shin into a car door and sometimes a vein can be traumatized into creating a clot and this is probably what happened.
Ah-yi. Standing on his feet and fishing for days on end, not to mention doing carpentry and plumbing work at the island hasn't helped.
It sure is good to have him home where I can take care of him and right now I am grateful for August's presence because if he wasn't here, I know that man would be out there cleaning his boat and fishing equipment and doing all sorts of crazy things that he just does not need to do right now.

So that's the story and August told me that he wants to sleep in our bed with the fans on (and here he demonstrated how a fan moves the air with his clever arms and hands) but I think I have convinced him that he can sleep right beside us in his bed (another pack'n'play) and that the fans will still blow on him and he will be comfortable.
We shall see how this works.

I better go get some supper made. That boy didn't get a nap today and I have a feeling that being all warm and cozy in Boppy's chair is making him sleepy.

And oh! Today is not only Lily and Jason's tenth anniversary, it is also Jessie and Vergil's fifth anniversary and I would go back and snatch pictures from their weddings but I am just too tired and I hope that they know how much they are loved, how much their unions mean to our family in all ways, and how much we wish them every good wish for the rest of their lives for continued happiness and fun and health and joy.
And teenagers who are not too sullen.

Happy Friday, y'all.
Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, April 12, 2018


I walked on the beautiful road again and although there are parts of walking through the woods and fields I miss, there are many compensations. However, the abundance of American flags flying is not one of them. It would seem that almost every house has one and the bigger the house, the bigger the flag. This is just the truth. And there are some Christ Almighty big houses! The largest one I walk by is on the highest hill, of course, and I swear it must be a quarter of a mile from the beginning of their regally fenced and landscaped yard to the end of it.
It's like walking past Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas only not really.
That flag above is not the flag which flies in front of that house. That flag looks like something that might be flying in front of the White House.
But, you know, the shade, the lack of traffic, the little side roads that I can take which lead me into more woodlands are all so lovely.

An ancient tree stump, its gnarled roots still firmly holding on to the clay bank of the road. 
I can only imagine that there's an entire community of different critters living in it unless the fairies or gnomes have chased them all out. 

And so I enjoyed my walk and the hills seemed easy and gravity did not suck the way it often does and when I got home, Jessie brought the boys out for a visit and to visit the chicks. 

The first thing August wanted was the marbles and the rat so that this game could be played. 

Ratty picks up a marble.

This causes great hilarity.

Ratty plonks the marble in a bowl and there is applause and cheering.
It just never gets old.

Here's Levon with the very last of his long baby hair twisted up in an Alfalfa.

That child is chewing on everything. 

We had some of last night's eggplant parmigiana which was quite delicious if I do say so myself and we checked out the eggs, the garden, and fed the goats next door some collard greens. We cuddled and kissed the baby chickens. We gave them greens and grapes. We read books. And we kicked bamboo. 

And we played with bamboo.

And we collected bamboo.

Bamboo is endlessly fascinating. 
"Can I munch it?" asked August, bending his head to a broken stalk. 
"Sure," we told him.
He said it was delicious. I am pretty sure it wasn't. Remember when Owen used to take the youngest stalks and cut them up for me with a butter knife and serve them on a plate? 
Oh. All my little boys. 

And that was most of my day and perhaps tomorrow we will be going to Crawfordville for more chicks. Maybe. And speaking of chicks, Birdie sent me this video on Facebook. 

It cracks me up so much and I believe that everyone who has ever been in a classroom or tried to get educational with their own kids can relate.
A Lexington principal named Gerry Brooks made the video and it would appear that he's made a bunch of videos and I think I might need to watch them.

Lily and Jason made it onboard their ship and here's a picture.

Glamorous? Oh yeah. 
Some people are cruise people and some people are not. 
I have a feeling that Lily and Jason are. I am waiting for reports. 

All right. One more evening of solitude and then it's all going to get crazy. Mr. Moon will be coming home, towing his boat and carrying his fishing poles and his ice chests full of random foods and his duffle bag full of laundry and hopefully a fish or two. He sent me this picture last night from the island. 

I know he hates the thought of leaving that sort of serenity and beauty. But I bet he'll be happy to sleep in his own bed again. 

And August is coming to spend the night and then on Saturday I believe that all three of the Hartmann grands are coming over to spend the night and await their parents' return. 

It is so quiet here and I have collards and kale cooking and brown rice simmering and tofu being squished to make barbecue tofu with. Jessie inspired me with that idea. 
The chickens are singing their evening going-to-bed song, a crooning tune which is peaceful and pretty, soothing and sweet. 

I'm a happy lady. 

Love...Ms. Moon