Thursday, September 24, 2020

Lloyd Culture: The Deep South

 I'd like to talk about what happened yesterday with Jacob's sons. A lot of you were so kind in defending me from what you perceived as rude behavior and although I appreciate that, it's more complicated than that. 

I live in a very mixed community. And when I say "mixed" I mean racially, divided mostly between white people and black people. But I also mean mixed in the sense that although none of us in this immediate area appear to be vastly affluent, some of us are comfortable and some are absolutely living in poverty. 
Now that line that is not entirely drawn in black and white. There are some very fine large houses with gorgeous lawns where some of my black neighbors live whereas one of the most junked-out, trashed-out, broken-down trailers in the area houses a white family. I cannot believe the trash in that yard. I mean literal trash. There are modular homes which are not junky in the least but very tidy, very well-kept, and black and white families live in them. Meanwhile, right here at the corner of Old Lloyd Road and Highway 59 where I live, there are several larger houses, some of which predate the Civil War (mine does) which were most likely built with the labor of human beings who were kept as property.
I have no doubt that the descendants of some of those people still live in this area. 

Jacob and his family live in one of the poorer-looking places that I walk past. As I said, there are several houses on the property and I can only imagine that they are hot as hell inside, even if there are window units, and that in winter they are cold. Not as bad as where No Man Lord lives which is in an old RV that has a tarp over it to keep the rain out. I imagine that everyone knows where I live. I may be of slight interest simply because I am the old white woman who walks. And have been walking here for over fifteen years. When I first moved to Lloyd, people stopped to ask if I needed a ride all the time. 
Now they know me and my habits. 
But here's the thing- I may be just an old woman who walks and whose chickens can be observed from the sidewalk and who wears tattered overalls daily and who works in the yard but I am also white and I also live in a rather large house, even if it does need spray washing and painting desperately and has paint peeling off the ceiling and mold on the walls and has a floor that tilts in the kitchen. And it doesn't matter to some people what my politics are or what my heart is like- I represent, by my color and my Prius, and my house- obvious privilege. 
And some folks just don't want to mess with that. 
And I don't blame them. 
Also? I haven't earned anyone's respect. 
Another aspect of the whole situation is the matter of privacy. I live behind a fence and a dense border of azaleas and palms and firespike. Just the fact that I have the time and leisure and also money to create this barrier between me and the world says more than you can imagine. No Man Lord's RV is on a bare piece of land. He sleeps often in a lounge chair under one of the few trees on his property just a few yards from the road. His only water source is a spigot right by the sidewalk. His "fence" is string which he's tied between posts where he sometimes hangs his drying laundry which he no doubt washed by hand. So if he is sitting in a chair reading his Bible and I walk by and say "Good morning" and he doesn't answer, I get it. Or at least I think I do. And if Jacob's sons do not care to waste the energy to say hello to me, I get that too. Their houses, the cars they work on- they're right there beside the road too.
And who knows? They might have been having a terrible day. You never know. And everything I've written here is just my own theory and are my own thoughts.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I do not live in a place where everyone is essentially very similar. Some of us here may as well come from different planets and my heart tells me that I have to respect the differences even as I am vastly aware that we are all the same in many ways.  

I hope I've done an adequate job of explaining this. It's extremely difficult and often uncomfortable to discuss race and financial disparity but they are part of reality. Certainly part of my reality. It's complex and so much of it is wrong and I have no answers for how to make it better. I just try to be friendly and respectful. Always respectful. 

And of course, there is always the possibility that Jacob's sons really are rude, but I don't think so. 

Here's what I'm cooking tonight. 

Soup with leftovers. In my new dutch oven which I have used several times now with very good results. I love the size of it which is so much smaller than my other soup-making pots. It limits the amount of soup I can make which is a good thing in that I am only cooking for two. I've got a huge loaf of sourdough ready to go into the oven and that will be our supper. 

Here's a last little bit of summer's bounty that I picked yesterday. 

Some pretty peppers, a few tiny yellow cherry tomatoes and a mix of basils that went into our salad. 

And here are pictures of August and Levon, almost home from North Carolina! 

Jessie said that they are making faces like their cousin Mayda who makes some awesomely scary faces. 

And tomorrow we will see them at the socially distanced birthday party. If it doesn't rain. 

One more picture.

Yeah. That's hanging on my wall. Isn't it pretty? 

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Life In The Slow Lane, Part MXI Or Something

 This may be a plant called Ozark Sundrops and it may not be. After a short bit of googling that's the very closest ID I've come to. If I could figure out a really good plant ID app for the phone, I'd even be willing to pay for it. Whatever those lemony yellow flowers are, they are blooming gloriously along Old Lloyd Road and the sulfur butterflies hovering and darting and dipping among them looked almost exactly like blossoms which had taken wing. Same color, similar size. 

I saw Jacob on my walk today. He's the man who sits outside his house, sometimes with his wife, sometimes alone. Their house is next to a few other buildings, some of which other people appear to live in. Probably like a family compound of some sort. There are always a plethora of cars waiting to be repaired along with big parts of machinery of all sorts and other assorted...stuff.
Today Jacob's sons were out in the yard, working on a car. After Jacob and I greeted each other he nodded to the men and said, "These are my sons." 
I said hello but neither one of them seemed in the least interested in even acknowledging my presence. Since I can think of at least ten good reasons why they wouldn't want to, it didn't bother me. I'm generally surprised when anyone does acknowledge me. Jacob and his wife do, Pinot certainly does. No Man Lord does sometimes and sometimes he doesn't. 
I respect that. 

Beyond that, my day has been completely uneventful. I actually dusted and polished the piano and cleaned the keys with alcohol as my mother taught me to do so long ago. I cleaned off and polished the hallway vanity that is a de facto altar of sorts and also the low cabinet where the TV sits in the Glen Den. And that was enough cleaning for me. 

Mr. Moon, on the other hand, was busy all day long stringing fishing line between posts he mounted on the garden fence to deter the chickens from flying into the garden. He even strung bright yellow plastic strips from the lines and before he was finished, the chickens demonstrated that they were not in the least disturbed by the lines and could easily manage to slip in between them. I could hear him yelling at them as the day progressed, his voice going from faintly amused to downright NOT IN THE LEAST AMUSED! 

When he finally gave it up for the day and came inside I said to him, "All that work!" which is a family saying. Once, when Mr. Moon took Hank and May fishing on a little pond, he had the fish they'd caught on a stringer in the water tied to the boat, and somehow, they all slipped off and May, who was probably about four years old cried out, "All that work!" 
To be polite, my husband smiled when I said that but again- he was not really amused. It was a lot of work, really and truly, and all for naught at this point. 

Here are two of the bad chickens. 

Eggy Tina and Pinto. Eggy Tina was enjoying a dust bath which is something that chickens not only love to do, but need to do. It helps clean their feathers of parasites and they love wallowing down into the warm dirt, letting it sift between their feathers, and sunning themselves. As I always say, they remind me of bathing beauties, perhaps Rita Hayworth sunning herself beside the pool at the Beverly Hills hotel. 
My lovely ladies. I am so glad that my chickens have free and ample access to places where they can enjoy this necessary ritual. Their favorite places to do this are right next to dense undergrowth where they can quickly hide if danger threatens. Chickens are quite aware of the many predators which are always about, be they dogs or hawks. Roosters have different calls for ground threats and sky threats and are always watching closely for both. 

And really, there's little more to say. Some days I seem to take an unconsciously planned day off of the horrible, terrible news. I did start to watch a video online this morning of Sarah Sanders defending Trump as if it were still her job and in the middle of it I thought to myself, "Why in hell am I watching this?" 
And I clicked it off. 
I already know how it ended. 

I would rather hang my clothes on the line or feed my sourdough, thank you very much.
And so I did that. 

Be well. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Going Away, Coming Back

 The chickens were all out by the garden this afternoon and in the garden too, to be truthful, and also on the fence (there's always someone on the fence, isn't there?) and I was trying to take a picture of how adorable they were and I took about ten pictures but none of them was worth a damn. Here's one of the barred rocks (Alice?) peeping out from behind the field peas which is what they were all after. Mr. Moon is going to have to figure out a way to keep those bad birds out of the garden because we're about to plant their most favorite vegetables which are the winter greens and lettuces. But this afternoon I did not begrudge them the peas at all and I spent a few minutes listening to them talk to each other in their comforting, soothing hen-tongue which I never tire of.

So I went to town today. I mean, I WENT TO TOWN! I had two prescriptions to pick up at two different places and I went to two different nurseries for seeds and a few plants and I even went through a drive-through and bought myself a falafel gyro and sat in a parking lot and ate it, enjoying every bite. I masked, of course, as did most of the other people I saw, but not all of them even though it has been mandated in Leon County that if you're inside in a public space, you are supposed to wear a covering over your mouth and nose. 
As Mr. Moon said this morning before I left, it is surprising that there are not reports of masked people getting in altercations with unmasked fuckwads. Okay, he did not say "fuckwad" but I did. 
Anyway, here are the seeds I bought.

I have made a vow to myself that this fall I am going to space my plants out far more than I have done previously. I like to have some extra plants that I can thin for salads but as Lon has pointed out, I go a little overboard. And as I have pointed out, I CAN'T HELP IT! 
But as GOD is my witness, I'm going to do better this year. I really, truly am because Lon and everyone else is correct in that spacing the plants gives them far more of a chance to grow up. And out. 
Shall we say...bigger? 

I'm going to try spinach again although I never do very well with that. Also bok choy. And I'm going to try celery for the first time. I'm also going to see what happens when I plant cilantro in the fall. It bolts so damn fast when I plant it in the spring but maybe it'll have more of a chance in the late garden. 

That journey took me basically all day long and while I was gone, Mr. Moon accomplished this:

He ran a line from the garage to the hen house, trenched it up, laid pipe in it and hooked it up to a spigot. This will make filling up the chicken waterers so much easier. I appreciate this tremendously. I am sure that the chickens will too. Funny how when I was thirteen or fourteen and dreaming of what it would be like to fall in love and thinking of the things I thought a romantic man would be like, plumbing never really entered the picture. But I will say that I learned quickly and by the age of twenty-five, a man who could and would be able to make water more available to where I needed it had moved a lot closer up to the top of the list. 

Going to town and venturing into places that were neither Costco nor Publix was actually good for me, I think. It was probably beneficial just to get out of my yard, out of Lloyd, and into places where there are humans if only to make me appreciate my house and home even more. I feel more cheerful tonight although I didn't really talk to anyone beyond Hey, how're you today? and Thank you very much. 
Even the most dedicated of introverts are still human beings and as such, we need a reminder that we (and our partners, if applicable) are not the only people on earth. That we can still go out into the world and make decisions about purchases, to wander around in a nursery, enjoying the sight and smells of plants and trees and dirt, to order and pay for and eat something that we ourselves have not cooked. And then to drive home and pull into the place where we feel most comfortable, most safe, and most content. 
And where the man who can build and plumb and garden and love waits. 

I think I better go make him some supper. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, September 21, 2020

Ram On

 I had no excuse whatsoever not to take a walk this morning. It was cool and clear and although it was 11:30 by the time I hit the sidewalk, it was still fine outside. I don't think I broke a sweat until the 1.5 mile point which sure wouldn't have happened two weeks ago. The old house above is a few houses down from mine and I wonder about its history. It seemed some months ago as if someone was going to fix it up. A new fence appeared and No Trespassing signs went up and I saw a truck there sometimes but there's been no sign of any progress recently. That curtain in the upstairs window has been there, tied just like that ever since I've lived in Lloyd. 

Down at the ranch a mile and a half from my house I saw some lovely huge cows, laying in the shade and when I got to the gate I saw this guy. 

What a fine black ram! But I instantly realized that it was not a real ram but some sort of ram statue. I like him, though. His horns and whimsy appeal to me. 
Oh, Lloyd!

The rest of the day has basically been shite except for talking to Jessie on the phone. We're trying to figure out a safe way to have a party for all of the September birthday people. Was it last year when we had the HUGE party with the giant bouncy castle and about fifty people over at Lily's? I think it was. 'Twas like a dream, right? 
Starting with Owen's birthday on Saturday, we have Lily, Vergil, and August's birthdays before the end of the month. Billy and Shayla's birthdays are in there too. 
This year though we're going to have to keep things a bit more low-key. Jessie and Vergil will be back on Thursday and I think we're going to have the party at their house. The presents I've ordered from Amazon are piling up here in my hallway. So Jessie and I were discussing the arrangements for a safe gathering. They're having a really nice time up in North Carolina and I'm so very, very glad they've had the opportunity to go visit. 

After I talked to Jessie I called the Saucony customer service number because after three weeks my shoes still haven't gotten here and the tracking history has been telling me that they were in transit back to the sender. They made it as close as Jacksonville before they started a journey across the country to San Fransisco. The woman I got on the phone was very nice but completely mystified. They are based in Kentucky, not California, so why the shoes were being sent there made no sense at all. She conferred with someone and told me that they had no idea what was going on (there was an actual "bless your heart" in there) and that they could either refund my money or else give me a discount if I wanted to wait for the shoes to try and make their way back to Lloyd where my feet await them. 
"I have no idea when that could happen," she said. 
I chose the refund and immediately went to order another pair because dammit, I NEED new shoes and I filled out all the information and promptly got a message saying, "Would you like to be notified when this item is back in stock?"

Fuck. Me. 

And this is a prime example of a first world problem and it's not that big a deal. I can order a different style and meanwhile, although worn and shitbeat, my old shoes still have laces and a sole so who cares? Not like I'm training for a marathon. 
It was just one more thing on the list of crap that's making me feel like life is meaningless, impersonal, and that the universe just does not care. 

A long, long time ago I posted this picture of R. Crumb's Mr. Natural. 

Mr. Natural has been my philosophic touchstone for many years. Our beliefs align. 
When I went to find that image by googling it, I also found this one. 

And guess what the source was? 

You can find it here. 

Where you can also find this timely reminder.

I believe this just about sums it up. 

Thanks, Mr. Natural! 
You're a wise old guy. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Pleasant Valley Sunday

Another row of baby bananas coming on. I am completely fascinated by this process. You would think that I had the first blooming banana plant in the universe. 

What a beautiful crown of flowers, marking the beginnings of more fruit. 

Y'all. I am wearing a sweater. Okay, it's not wool or cashmere. It's cotton but still. It's a sweater-like garment. And yes, we here in Florida have what is fondly known as "thin blood" which tells us that we need to bundle up if gets down into the low seventies but that's just the way it is and it is a remarkable relief not to be sweating, to actually feel cool. I have the doors open to the outside and I swept the porches this morning. The air conditioning is off. In a bit of perfect synchronicity, it is the second day of archery hunting and Mr. Moon is off in the woods with what he is calling his "old man hunting club" to kick off the season. He was so happy that his long-sleeved camo shirt would feel good and won't make him sweat in the deer stand. 
I am happy for him. The season of observing the woods and wildlife is upon him. His excitement this morning was almost palpable. As I always say- I do not understand his need to go into the woods to hunt but I understand fully that he does need to do it. And as I also always say, there is far more hunting involved than there is shooting. 
He'll be back around dark-thirty tonight unless by some bizarre chance he gets a deer. 
And he's getting vegetarian egg rolls for supper. With tofu. And he loves them. 

I finished watching The Office a little while ago. All nine seasons. The finale was indeed grand. I love the way the characters developed over the years. The people who were originally background characters became as important and as richly portrayed and as multi-layered as the main characters to the point where, at the end, there was no real delineation. Everyone has a story. In life and on television too, if a series is given enough time, has the right actors and writers and directors in place. Entertainment becomes art. There are series we fall in love with because we fall in love with the characters. 
I think of Northern Exposure.
I still miss those people. With all of my heart. 
If Netflix streamed that, I'd be watching it over and over.  
And I'm going to sign up for Hulu so that I can now watch the British version, the original. But first, I need a little time to grieve. 

And so it has gone today. A little opening up of the house to fall. Another season which is a true demarkation of time unlike the hours of the clock or the pages of the calendar. The way the air feels, the way the sun slants, the way the green of all growing things changes, subtly sometimes, and sometimes dramatically, the smell of the earth as it goes from fecundity to rest. These are things that as I grow older I sense and recognize more and more fully, giving them my attention in ways that I did not when I was younger. 
Just as I give my attention to the bloom of that banana which is as fancy and fabulous as a fan dancer, fully made-up and dressed in the colors of the wildest birds, hiding her treasure until it is time, in the slowest of reveals. 

I better go start chopping up vegetables and pressing tofu. Egg rolls are not hard to make but the preparation is time-consuming. This is true for many things, isn't it? At least, for the really good things. 

Maybe we should take hope in that thought. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Saturday, September 19, 2020

How Do We Honor A Great Soul?

 The roses are putting out a fall bloom and I suppose when they're all done, I should prune them back. It would appear that we are about to get some cooler temperatures here. My weather widget says we're going to get down to 64 here tonight, 62 tomorrow. Any sort of change which is normal change, any sort of relief from any aspect of the past few months seems unbelievable somehow. 
And yet. 
Perhaps we'll open up the house. 
I don't know. That seems like such a huge decision. Everything does. 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death was a normal, natural event, strictly speaking. The most unbelievable thing about it being that she had held on for so very long when I am convinced that 999 people out of a thousand would have died long before from the complications of various types of cancer she had, from the stress, from the sheer weariness of hanging on. 
She was not a woman to give up, though, was she? She had a very specific and real reason to stay here as long as she possibly could and she pushed the envelope of that particular goal as far as anyone could. 
We owe her so much. We owe her memory so much. We owe her spirit so much. We owe her wishes so much. We owe her accomplishments so much. 
With her mind she changed the world. And always for the better. Justice was her super power and obviously, what she lived for.


Last night Lily and I made a plan to meet up at the Hilltop today to get lunch which we could eat outside. And so we did that. Mr. Moon was able to join us too and we ordered our shrimp sandwiches and hamburgers and onion rings and fried okra (Owen!) and then we waited and waited and waited at the covered tables. 

Maggie and Gibson were certain that they would die of hunger before our food was ready. And it did take a long time. But we chatted and the boys told me things that are going on in their lives with school and video games and the river that had run through their property when we got all that rain. It was so good to just talk to them. 
No one but us at the Hilltop was wearing masks. Not even the employees. And I suppose we should have just walked back on out when we saw that but we didn't. We merely sighed and accepted. 

The food did finally arrive and with it, the flies came around too. So many flies that Maggie, despite her state of near starvation, refused to eat and closed up her to-go box to take home where there were no flies. Just like with the non-mask wearers, I let the presence of the flies slide. At least flies aren't generally deadly. 
This all makes the experience sound rather dreadful but it wasn't. It was a lick, a taste of normalcy. No pun intended. The food was fine but it was the act of sitting down with family to take a meal that made it all so lovely. "Would you like some ketchup?" "Trade you an okra for an onion ring." The most prosaic of pleasures, fully appreciated. 

I don't have much else to talk about. We watched "My Octopus Teacher" on Netflix last night and it was astounding. The most beautiful underwater footage I've ever seen and a most unusual story. It was a balm after the news about Justice Ginsburg. 

I'm having a very hard time these days trying to maintain any hope whatsoever about the future of our country and of the world in general. People don't listen to scientists and would not, will not do what they say we must in order to save our planet. I'm as guilty as the next person. Religion obviously isn't going to save us. Chant, pray, prostrate and pretend all you want. Not going to change a thing, not going to save so much as a bumblebee. Most religions seem to have acceptance as one of their most basic tenets. 
And it has always been very hard for me to define, even for myself, the line between acceptance and denial. Which is which and why is one superior over the other? Neither one require much action to be taken. 

But then I think of RBG and her spirit for fighting the good fight. For doing, not just saying. For turning thought into deed. For refusing to lay down at the altar of acceptance. For using her voice for the masses of the voiceless. 
That helps a little. 

Sleep well tonight. In peace if possible. I am trying to remember that above all, kindness is something we can all express and it is, in the most gentle way possible, a powerful force, a power that we can all access. That's something, I guess. I try to remember.  

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, September 18, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 March 15, 1933- September 18, 2020

She gave us everything. 

Cookware And The Usual Stuff


When I was in Costco last week I saw this set of enameled cast iron dutch ovens. They had two on display that I could pick up and examine and I was impressed with how heavy they were, how nicely they seemed to be made. I got those two Le Creuset pans for Christmas and I have loved them and used them many times a week. But I wanted (needed!) a smaller dutch oven than the one I have which is probably about seven quarts. And a new Le Creuset one of those runs right around three hundred plus dollars. 
For this set of Tramontina (ever heard of them? I hadn't) enameled cast iron dutch ovens, Costco was asking the crazy price of $69.99. 
That is a big difference. 
But I didn't buy them. 

When I went back today though, I saw them again and this time I stood there and I fondled them and I hefted them and googled them and ended up buying them. If they crack or chip or displease me in any way, Costco will take 'em back so what's the downside here? The reviews I've read vary from "piece of garbage" to "love it just as much as I love my Le Creuset." 

You know what really got me? 
The color. 

That picture doesn't even do it justice. 
So. I'm going to cook our supper in it tonight and we shall see how it goes. 

And that's about the most exciting thing that's happened to me in days. Weeks? Months? 
I did the shopping and got to see Brenda whose eyes were a marvel of Mermaid Magical shine and shimmer. I told her, "You have the most beautiful eyes!" She's just a darling, that woman. I spent a completely inappropriate amount of time in Publix. I am not sure why but it was almost as if I'd entered some portal when I walked into the place and time lost its meaning and the day slowed and I moved as if in molasses or honey and had to find the mystical formula to escape. 
Not sure what the mystical formula was. Perhaps my debit card's PIN. Who knows? 
Not me. I did manage to get out though and am now home so I suppose I was just a slow shopper, trying to determine what sort of buttermilk I wanted and what other spice besides curry powder I wanted to buy to complete my McCormick's gourmet spice BOGO deal. These things take time, y'all. 

Here's what the bananas looked like yesterday. 

I love the way the sun is shining through the red petal. I guess it's a petal. 

And here's a picture of chickens eating ice cream. 

Mr. Moon bought some Bluebell ice cream a few weeks ago and after some dedicated sampling, we both decided it was not worth the calories. I'm not a huge ice-cream person but Mr. Moon is and even he was not happy with the stuff. A few nights ago he tried it once more and told me, "Get rid of it. I mean it."
So I did. And the chickens were happy. They also ate some stale cornbread today. It made me happy to think about eggs made of cornbread and ice cream. 

Speaking of eggs, it was suggested yesterday that I take No Man Lord some eggs on my way to town today which I did. He wasn't anywhere in sight and I sort of hated trespassing onto his property but I stepped over the string he has tied from posts in his yard and took the eggs to the little table by the chair where he spends a great deal of his time. I left a note saying, "Eggs from a neighbor. FRESH!!" 
I think he cooks on a fire. I hope he can eat them. 

I realize I haven't read or listened to any news today. Since the world still appears to be stable enough, at least in Lloyd, I guess that we're still spinning around the sun and that gravity still exists. For right this second, that's all I need to know. 

Happy Friday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon