Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventeenth Post

I woke up this morning dreading going to check on the little one and my fears were justified. The poor thing died in the night. I buried her in the little garden bed beside the kitchen door where her kinfolk spend so much time, clucking over and pecking the kitchen scraps I throw out for them under the bananas.
It was sad, that sweet little body so still and lifeless but if one has chickens it's just not a good thing to get completely wrapped up in any one of them, newly hatched or older.
As we all know by now.
The rest of the chicks are fine with no more of the eggs showing signs of hatching. I am going to toss the remaining four out tomorrow if there is no activity tonight. Mr. Moon and I just went out to see them and I told Darla, "Well, you killed your child."
She was completely unconcerned.

So I did an odd thing today. For me. May's birthday is coming up in two days and I went to town to shop for her a present. And I actually rather enjoyed it. May asked for presents this year that will make her feel pretty. I sure do understand that. She also said that no one had to get her a present at all and it wouldn't hurt her feelings but hey! She's my baby. So I went to a place that sells pretty-making things and I won't go into it because she might read this but I literally spent an hour walking up and down aisles and I didn't get stressed out at all. I'd stopped into an Old Navy before that and ended up getting all my toddler grands each an outfit on major sale. Little shorts and shirts for all. Now THAT got sort of stressful. Do you KNOW how many different T-shirts Old Navy has for little kids?
And after all of that I went to another store where I swear to god- I came THIS close to buying another purse. I am still in the honeymoon phase with the last purse I bought but this one was so soft. SO soft. And smooshy. My favorite. And it was a backpack bag. Which I have NO NEED OF WHATSOEVER and yet, how I wanted it. I could envision buying it, bringing it home and hiding it in my closet. Hiding it from myself because my husband certainly wouldn't mind. I imagined how I'd feel with a tiny spark of knowing that there was a brand new, completely squishy lovely bag in my closet, just waiting for me to determine it was the right time to use it. And it was on clearance!
Somehow, though, I managed not to buy it. And no, I didn't steal it either.
By the time I finished up all of this shopping, it was after three and I had not eaten lunch. I thought about going and getting a sandwich somewhere but I kept thinking about the tacos we had last night that I made with that fresh ham that I'd roasted in banana leaves. They may have been some of the best tacos I ever ate and I am not kidding. I marinated that meat for twenty four hours and then wrapped it and the marinade in banana leaves from one of my plants and then in aluminum foil and cooked it in a very slow oven for hours and hours and by the time I unwrapped it yesterday it was so tender that shredding it could have been done with spoons. It was completely unlike farm-raised pig in that it had almost no fat to it and yet, it was as juicy as could be. I mixed up the shredded meat with a sort of sauce I'd made with chili's and lime juice and tomatoes, cilantro, and a little vinegar and it looked like this.

I did a quick pickling of some finely sliced cabbage and red onions and heated up corn tortillas. The meat, the pickles, some avocados, and a little sour cream were the whole deal and we ate those tacos like we were in Mexico. 
Seriously, they could hardly have been better. 
And so I wanted more of them for my lunch and I came home and had some. It was worth the wait. 
And if you can't tell, I'm sort of proud of that meal. I am not sure I've ever used banana leaves in my cooking before but I'll be doing that again. 
And quite frankly- I'll take all the small wild pigs you bring me. In case you're wondering, there really is no such thing as a "wild" pig. Not around here, at least. They are actually ferals who have descended from escaped domestic pigs and they are considered to be a nuisance animal as they are not native and they do cause a lot of destruction to the native habitat of the indigenous animal population. 
Obviously, I have meat-eater guilt. At least I admit that. 

And one more thing- today is the 12th anniversary of the very first post of blessourhearts. I want to say that for twelve years now I have been so incredibly lucky to be able to write out my thoughts, to record births and birthdays and marriages and accomplishments and troubles and joys and gardens and chickens and insanities and Mexican sunsets and friendships and yes, even deaths of people whom I have loved tremendously. Not to mention recipes and household hints. This is a place where I've been allowed (by me!) to be profane and blasphemous and to share what is holy in my heart. 
And the community of YOU has sustained and comforted me, educated me and made me laugh for twelve years. 

Thanks, Hank! You told me to do it and I did. 
As always, my children are the boss of me and that usually turns out for the best. 

Thanks, y'all. Alla y'all. 

I love you dearly.

Ms. Moon

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fucking Summer Already

I am miserable today. Just purely miserable. This heat is already overwhelming me. It's not even June yet and I'm not seeing how I am going to last the summer unless I spend most of my time indoors which is a little bit like being in prison for me. A beautiful prison but still- I am NOT an indoors-all-the-time person. I'm not what you'd call an outdoor woman. At least not in the sense that I like to hike and cycle or whatever it is that outdoor people do. I just like to mess around in my garden and in my yard and hang the clothes on the line and take my little walks and that sort of thing.
Which I am not tolerating as well as I used to.
It got up to 95 today and is supposed to be at least 99 this weekend.
And the GODDAM yellow flies are absolutely the worst this year that I've ever seen. I got bit on my ankles and feet today and the bites swelled up and itched and it's a sort of itching which drives me to just this side of madness. They are such fierce fuckers and when I slap them, they bleed my blood like mosquitoes but the difference in being bitten by the two insects are vast.
I think I probably post this picture every year.

This is what they look like. I always say they resemble B-52 bombers and I don't know if that's true but the way they fly so stealthily and land and start to suck and sting before you even know they're there does indeed remind me of warfare. They are also incredibly nimble and able to escape a human hand intent on smashing the life out of them. 
In other words, I hate them. 
There are few things in life that make me more apt to curse and cry than being very, very hot and having big knots of yellow fly bites itching me to distraction. 
And so it went today. 

This morning I noticed that another one of the eggs in Darla's little coop had a tiny hole in it with a little beak trying to break the shell to free the chick attached to the beak. I was cheered by this and checked the progress all morning and I could tell, eventually, that the chick was a dark colored one, unlike all the rest. Of course, Darla has been sitting on eggs that were laid not just by her but by her sister hens as well and the chances of getting a brown or black chick were good. I think that this egg was laid by Big Mama who is black and white but mostly black. I merely took note of this as an interesting fact but when I went back to see how things were going a little while later, I found the just-hatched baby with its down still matted and Darla was pecking the shit out of her. Or him. 
I watched in horror and then quickly picked the chick up and brought it in the house and set it in a large bowl lined with a dishtowel and covered it up with another and put it in my bathroom which is far warmer than the rest of the house because the vents into that room have been torn out by some creature. 
Probably an armadillo or possum. 
I had to go to the store and so I did and when I got back, the little one was still just huddled in the folds of the cloth, still matted from the hatching, not really moving but able to peep loudly if I touched it. 

After I put the groceries away I made it a better shelter in an ice chest with a heating pad set on warm covered with two towels and with food and water available. 
Y'all. I don't think she's going to make it. I think that she is perhaps too badly injured. She is just lying there, not even trying to get up. 
Nature can be so cruel. 

I researched this issue on the internet and it is not uncommon for a mother hen to peck (and kill) a chick who is sickly or who is a different color than the rest. I suppose that this is an evolved behavior which helps to protect the genes of the mother and to make sure that there is more food available for what she perceives to be her own offspring. 
Who knows? 
Certainly not me but it's sad. 

Meanwhile, the other five chicks are fine and fluffy and doing what chicks do and Darla is still being incredibly protective of them and still sitting for periods of time on the other eggs which have not hatched. 

Add all of this together- the heat, the yellow flies, the chick abuse- and I'm just, as I said, fairly miserable. Owen has a baseball game that I should be attending but I swear to you, I would die if I had to sit outside for two hours. 
Okay. Maybe not die. But close enough. 

I just went and checked on the little one. She is more fluffed and puffed and she has pooped. These are good signs, I think. I stuck her little beak in the water but I don't think she drank any. 
Time will tell. 
And just watch- I'll save that little bitty biddy life and it'll turn out to be a rooster. 
Still- thoughts and prayers, people, thoughts and prayers. 
Just kidding. 
But I think that if this one lives and it does turn out to be a rooster, I'm gonna name it Keith. 
And if it's a hen, I might name her Keithalina. 

Is that disrespectful? 

I don't think so. 

Hoping for a better tomorrow.

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, May 20, 2019

Short And Sort Of Sweet

Went out this morning to discover that once again, I do not know shit and one of those eggs was a good one and I had five little chicks whereas yesterday I had four. Not a great picture but I was trying to get all five babies in the shot. Anyway, I'm giving the rest of the eggs a few more days. I'd hate to murder the unborn.
(Eye roll.)

Here's the most interesting thing I saw on my walk this morning.

Now THAT'S a scarecrow. 
She'd scare me, at least. 

A little after lunch, Jessie and Vergil and the boys came out and Mr. Moon came home from work. Vergil had generously agreed to help my husband with the electricity situation for the dryer and he did. The boys liked the baby chicks. 

I asked August what we should name this one and he said, "Dixie" which is the name of one of Jessie's chickens but Dixie Chick is a great name and there's plenty of room in the world for at least two of them. So Dixie she shall be. I swear, Darla does NOT want me to pick up her babies. She pecks me aggressively. 
I don't really blame her although you'd think that by now she'd know that I am not much of a threat to her or her babies. 

After the electricity project, the men moved on to a boat-steering project. What I had thought was going to be a two-hour max situation has turned into something else entirely which is fine. I wrapped up my pig roast in banana leaves (yes, really) and aluminum foil and put it in a ceramic crock in a very slow oven and that's cooking but it's not going to be ready for a supper so I'm improvising with other leftovers to create an entirely new menu item which will serve four adults and two children. Luckily, that is my magic talent. 

Levon's magic talent is playing ball on the steps with his mother. 

I spent so many hours with Owen doing that same thing. 
August and I have read books and we've all played outside but had to come in because it is buggy and hot as hell. 

So that's the quick report. 

Oh! Here's a beetle I found in my library today. 

You know, I've seen some large beetles in my life but that one sort of astonished me. I wrapped it up in that paper towel and set it outside. The chickens came to examine it and a few actually pecked at it but it was too big for them. 

Florida. Such a great place to live. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Life Just Keeps On Happening

The forming blossom of the lace cap hydrangea. 

We spent today in domestic chores. First off, we had to go to Monticello to visit the Tractor supply to get chick starter feed. When we went out this morning to see how the hatch was coming along, we found four chicks and no activity visible going on with the other seven eggs. Last night when we shut the hen house up we looked under Darla again and there were still just the two chicks but one egg was being pecked from the inside, the process wherein the baby uses its egg tooth to make first a small round opening in the top of the egg and then to go from there to breaking the entire shell open enough for it to step out into the world of mama and fresh air and siblings. 
It is a long process and one that many of us want to help along, especially if we are watching the process take place in an incubator but that does the chick no favors. The whole of it is important to the chick's development and if a chick isn't strong enough to peck her way out, she probably won't be strong enough to survive. 
That's just the way it is. 
But here's what Darla and three of the babies looked like this morning when we ambushed her from behind the nest and Mr. Moon held out her wing so that I could get a good picture. 

I fretted about what to do while I made breakfast and we decided that we should clean up the little tractor-coop where other babies have been raised and I now recall that Dearie spent some time in there with her young'uns. 
First we went and bought the starter feed and when we got back Mr. Moon hauled the little coop out of the big coop and washed and scrubbed it down with bleach water and I raked the ground under where it had been sitting to clean up the old poop. We tugged and rolled and lifted the now pristine coop back to where it sits and I filled up the feeder and the waterer and added the vitamins and electrolytes and probiotics that I'd bought at the tractor supply, all combined in an orange powder that you mix into their water. I always wonder if it tastes like Tang. And then I carried Darla and Mr. Moon carried the babies to their new home. I was getting a little frantic by then because I knew those chicks needed to eat and so did Darla and indeed, she'd been on the perch by the nest trying to coax them out of the nest so she knew that too. 

Here they are, the precious little things. 
I also gathered up the unhatched eggs and brought them to the little coop and set them in some hay so that Darla can continue to sit on them if she wants. 

And she does seem to want to do that. 
I'll give her another day and then out those eggs go. Trust me- she'll barely notice. 
It's funny. I don't quite feel the faith in her as a mother as I did with Dearie. She doesn't seem as focused and grounded about it all as Dearie did. For one thing, when Darla was scratching in the dirt she didn't even notice that one of her babies was right there and back-kicked her into a tumble as she scratched. 
Luckily, baby chickens are incredibly sturdy. 

So that little project took up about half the day and I spent some of the rest of it dealing with things in the garden, pulling up the collards and kale which the bugs have attacked fiercely and giving some to the goats next door and then weeding that part of the garden. I also did laundry, hung it on the line. I'd do a chore outside and then come back in to drink water and cool back down. I cleaned up the hen house and discarded the shells that the chicks had broken free of and hauled the poopy hay to the garden. 
Same old, same old, same old. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Moon moved the dryer to the new laundry room and spent a lot of time dealing with electricity for the hook-up and at one point I thought we weren't going to have air conditioning tonight which I tried to take in stride but when he did get that figured out, I cheered. He's going to have to get some other parts or wires or something very mysterious to me in town tomorrow to successfully get the machine working but that's okay with me. Since the weather forecast seems to hold no rain in it for the next week or so at least, I imagine that a clothes dryer is not going to be of utmost importance. 
I got bit by two damn yellow flies today. I did manage to kill one of the fuckers. 
Jessie and Vergil are safely home with their boys. I haven't talked with Jessie but in a text she mentioned something about it all being very buggy and snaky. Glen talked to Vergil who said that quite possibly camping trips in Florida are best taken in the fall. 
Bless that North Carolina boy's heart! I know he's looking forward to getting back to the mountain where he grew up for a few months. They'll be leaving at the end of June, I think.  

It hasn't been a terrible Sunday but it hasn't been glorious, either. At least I got a few things done. I'm going to cook some grouper tonight- holy fish that it is- and I have a wild pig ham sitting in a sort of Yucatan marinade made with mojo criollo, orange and lime juice, achiote, tons of garlic and sliced red onions. I'm going to do something with that tomorrow although I am not sure what. Heat will be involved though, in one form or another. It's interesting having a husband who fishes and hunts and knows people who hunt and fish. Throw in stuff from the garden and it's never boring. I have no experience whatsoever cooking wild pig but I am interested in learning.

As usual, I have no real tidy ending for this. I wish I did but I just don't. 
Oh well, endings are probably highly overrated. 
Unless they are something like the ending of Donald Trump's presidency in which case they would be marvelous and the very definition of a happy ending. Or at least a huge relief. 
And on that note, I wish you good sleep tonight so that your loins can be sufficiently girded tomorrow morning to start another week. 

Love...Ms. Moon 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Life In Lloyd, Part Whatever

Well, well, well.
I was just sitting here on the porch with a very noisy fan on AND the AC unit right beside me rattling and roaring away and yet I could still hear something coming from the direction of the hen house that I immediately identified and so I walked out there and yes, I was right.

That tiny little puff of hardly anything was on the ground, fallen out of the nest, I guess, and was making her MAMA COME GET ME! WHERE ARE YOU? SAVE ME! peeps which are about ten times louder than anything you could imagine coming out of a being that small. 

So. Here we go again. 
And what to do? 
Right now I can't do much because Darla's sitting on those eggs as they hatch and I can't move that process. She's already distressed because her baby fell on the ground and I picked it up and she almost attacked me but I quick, quick handed it back to her and Darla quick, quick flew back onto her eggs. One other has hatched but hasn't puffed out yet. Can you see it there, under Darla on the green egg?
But should I try to get them all into a baby coop tomorrow and thus, try to keep them safe or do I just let Darla take care of the whole situation the way Dearie did? She kept all ten of hers safe for a long time and it wasn't until she started sleeping in the tree with them instead of the nest that any of them died and then they all died except for Clara but I will admit that the rooster brothers did not die of natural causes. 

Oh Lord. 
And oh dear Kathleen! When you brought me those baby chicks and a bag of chick-starter feed all those years ago I had no idea how that simple little gift would change my life. 
But it surely has. 

Mr. Moon went fishing out on the gulf today and he came home exhausted. He wore his overalls and a long-sleeved shirt and a hat that covers everything AND he got up at four a.m. I don't know how he does it. Hell, I don't know WHY he does it. He must love fishing, I guess. 

I went down to the river this morning and met up with Lily and Jessie and all the grands. Jessie and Vergil had planned a paddling/camping trip with some friends and while Vergil had gone to leave the tent and camping gear at the camp site, Jessie and the boys stayed at the river. 

It was beautiful there today. The kids played and the mama's chatted and gave out snacks and I wish I was back there right now in that cold water. 
After awhile, Lily and her three had to leave and Vergil arrived and the kayak was loaded up and I waved them all off on their little ten-mile journey which was supposed to take about five hours. 
Those are some brave people. 

I love how they're giving August and Levon these adventuresome experiences. The boys were so excited. Levon cried when August got to get in the kayak before he did. He thought he wasn't going to get to go. 

I dunked my body in the water one more time before I left. I have a feeling we're going to be spending a lot of time at the river this summer. 

I'm going to make risotto for our supper which means I'll be standing at the stove stirring for about an hour but that's okay with me. I went to town earlier and bought fresh spinach and a bottle of cheap wine for the dish. In a minute, before I start cooking, my husband and I will go out and check the progress of the hatchlings. I still can't really believe I heard that tiny baby over the din of these rackety machines. 
I'll report in tomorrow as to how the hatching went and if all goes well, there will be pictures of baby chickens which are about the cutest things on earth. They're a pain in the damn neck but they sure are precious.  
This is the way of babies. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, May 17, 2019

If I Had A Hammer

I have quite a few of these caterpillars eating their way through the crinum lilies in the little bed by the kitchen porch. I am not worried about the lilies. They never bloom anyway. But what are these caterpillars? I thought that it would be so easy to ID them with the help of google but so far, not at all. Do any of y'all know?

Here's another nature picture.

This is a clerodendrum specisossimum which I dug up from the yard next door when no one was living there. It is related to the stupid shit clerodendrum bungei, aka glory flower, which has taken over my yard. I have been watching the yard next door for many years and have not seen any evidence of this version of the clerodendrum taking over so I hope I haven't done a very bad thing in introducing it here. 
I probably have. 

We shall no doubt be discussing this next year when it blooms again. 

So. Today. 

I really didn't get much done at all and mostly because I didn't feel like it. Once more I am either a little bit sick or suffering from mental illness. 
Virus or depression? 
Impending death or mostly functional insanity? 
Who knows? Not me. 

I did do one thing that brings me a great deal of pleasure. 
Ever since I've lived in this house there has been a paper shade covering the windowed door from what used to be our bedroom (and hopefully will be again soon) into my bathroom. It's had a rip in it forever which came about when the door got swung open too wide and the shade got torn on a mirror which used to sit near it. A few weeks ago Jack got trapped in there for a few hours and ripped another piece out of the bottom of the shade and I've been pissed and depressed about how it's looked. It's like- I can't keep anything nice. 
You know? 
So today I finally pulled that shade down although I couldn't get all the hardware off the door and I made a temporary curtain to replace it out of a piece of fabric I bought quite awhile back. I didn't want to cut the cloth because I'll make a real curtain out of it eventually so I just did some machine basting and tacked it up and it looks about five million times better than the ripped paper did. 

It's definitely one of those "don't look too close" projects but still- a vast improvement and it makes me happy. I remember reading an Ann Tyler book a long time ago and I can't remember which one but there was a family in it (of course) and they were the sort of people who could not deal with fixing or replacing things but instead did ridiculous things like arrange everything in their pantry alphabetically while iron railings were rusting through and falling down and everyone would just sigh and walk past them because- WHAT COULD THEY DO? Their house was crumbling and falling apart and no one felt empowered enough to deal with any of it. Just keep alphabetizing that pantry! 
And man, I identified with that so much. 
I still do. 
Maybe more than ever. 
How I wish I was one of those people who, when they see a problem can go directly to the toolbox and get whatever they need to fix the problem and get to it! Who absolutely know their way around Lowe's. Who can saw and hammer and drill and so forth. 
Hell. I can't even paint. I'd probably be as good at painting a wall as I would be at painting the Mona Lisa. 
So just that small thing I did- ripping the paper shade down and figuring out a temporary solution until Mr. Moon deals with curtain-hanging hardware makes me feel incredibly accomplished. 

Meanwhile, I will just cook. My cabinets may not be very well organized but I can work around that. Tonight we are going to have some pork chops and also these:

Gjelina's Roasted Yams. 

Honey and red pepper and yogurt and lime juice are all involved in their preparation and it is one of my favorite recipes. I don't have any scallions but they'll be okay without. It's nice at the age of 64 for this old southern women to find a sweet potato recipe that does not involve cinnamon and brown sugar. And butter. 
Although there is nothing wrong with cinnamon and brown sugar and butter. 

Darla is still sitting on her eggs. I need to go back through my posts and see when we would reasonably expect those eggs to hatch if they aren't hard-boiled by now. 
Supposed to get really hot this weekend. Summer is here. 

Happy Friday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

You Can't Break His Heart

Here's August listening closely (literally on the edge of his seat) to one of the stories at Story Hour in Monticello today. There were only a few of us there but we carried on as if it were a crowd. He and Maggie both look to me like their arms and legs are suddenly just stretching out and they're losing all of their baby looks and becoming kids.
I mean, obviously, but still...

So we went to Story Hour and then we came back to my house and ate leftovers here because we do eat out a lot and I got to read books to my boys and mostly I just feel a bit crazy and not very functional today so I think I'd just rather briefly discuss Mick Jagger than anything else.
Have you seen the video of him dancing in a studio that's all over the internet?

Here he is along with a few words from the ABC (FAKE NEWS!) team.

I showed Jessie the video of him dancing and she said something along the lines of how usually, when you see a video on Facebook of a 75-year old man dancing it's like at a wedding and he looks like an old man dancing and you go, "Oh, that's so sweet!"
But this ain't that.
We don't even need to throw in the part about how he just had heart surgery.

Dear god.

So the Stones have rescheduled all of the concerts that had to be canceled due to the surgery and it looks to me like old Mick is going to be fine and that once again, the original Bad Boys of Rock and Roll will be hitting the road and doing what they love to do and what no one does like they do.
Here's a little lagniappe picture of my spirit totem animal.

And hey, just for the hell of it- I offer you this. 

Bless you, Mick. Dance with the devil, dance with yourself, dance with your band. Just don't stop.
Thank you.

Love...Ms. Moon