Bless Our Hearts

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ephemera And Musings

It's been a pretty perfect day. I had so much fun with my boys. All three of them. And with Jessie, too. Before she got here, the boys and I walked down to the post office and of course I made them pose for the traditional picture.

Owen is enamored today with his Winnie The Pooh pillow. I think he's really revving up for his sister to be born. He was extremely interested today in playing with and holding August who is definitely not a skinny little newborn any more. 

He's very good with him. Protective and interactive and gentle. I think he's going to be actually helpful as a big brother with this coming-soon baby. Now Gibson? Well...I think maybe he's undergoing a little uncertainty about the whole deal. He's been the baby for quite a while. He'll come around, just as his mother did when Jessie was born. 

We took August out to the swing porch today for the very first time. It was an event! 

And then of course he decided that he needed to eat. Jessie and I were laughing at him later for fussing while she was getting ready to nurse him because he's probably never had to wait for longer than maybe an entire minute before getting what he wanted.

Would you look at all of those long legs? 

August is smiling quite reliably these days. His whole face opens up the like the sun and that pretty little cupid bow of a mouth makes the prettiest smile. He will also stick his tongue out at you if you stick your tongue out at him. And he has complete conversations now in that sweet baby-language, already learning the patterns of human verbal communication. I couldn't stop kissing him today. I would have a very serious little chat with him and then just dive in and kiss his face over and over. He's going to think I'm crazy. 
He will be right. 
I told him today how lucky he is to have the mama and daddy he has, the grandparents he has, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins. And then I told him that we are all so lucky to have him. 
He agreed. 
He is, in fact, a most agreeable child. 

So yes, it was a good day. We did a puzzle and read a short book. We took that walk. There was treasure-hunting in the driveway with a spoon to dig up glass and pottery, and tweezers to pull out the tiniest bits from the hard dirt. We played with the baby. 

We had deep and meaningful conversations. We laughed a lot. Owen drew a tattoo on my arm of a baby and then he added his mama so that the baby was in her tummy. He took a picture of it but it doesn't really show very well, due to the fact that he did the tattoo in orange highlighter pen. 

He did it on the inside of my arm so I can hug it to me any time I want to hug the baby. 
Let's face it- the child is pure sweet. 

The sun is down now and I have the house tidied up, laundry running. I'll eat some more leftovers here in a little while. I feel peaceful and at peace. Both. All of my chickens are put up in the roost and I keep thinking about spring when I'm going to get a few more biddies. Just a few. I can't wait. 
But I will. 

Let's all be warm tonight, let's all be at peace. 
Let us all have sweet dreams. 
Let us have sweethearts or soft cats or dreaming dogs to sleep with, or a book by our side. 
Or a Winnie The Pooh pillow. Whatever brings us comfort. 

Love...Ms. Moon

In Which I Use The Word Miracle More Than I Normally Do

Good morning from Lloyd where I am feeling a bit shaky in my boots today. I ain't gonna lie to you. But it is the most beautiful morning and Owen and Gibson are coming out soon and Jessie says she's bringing out August and it's going to be a good day. 

I keep going over things in my head from yesterday, of course, and I keep second-guessing myself. Did I do the right thing?
I have to honestly answer that I did the only thing I could.

I think of all of the positive and beautiful things in my life. I think of the visit I had from my friends yesterday and how they seemed more loving and less stressed than I've seen them in years and that makes my heart so happy. I think of these boys about to come out. I think of Lily offering to come over last night, another friend offering to come out with tequila and her pajamas. I think of the the way the light is painting the oak trees in my yard right this second, the chickens letting me know that they're ready to come out of the coop. I think of the love. The incredible amount of love and the miracle of it. The miracle of all the different types of love in my life and how, over the course of thirty-something years my husband has taught me, showed me, finally, how to love and trust love. To trust enough to love.
My babies came with their own love. That was the easy kind of love.
I think of all of these things and I realize that life is short and there is no reason to spend any more of it than I have to fighting my way towards accepting it, fully accepting the miracle of it.

Sometimes my life feels very small and yesterday my brother told me that I have become so insular that I do not know how to have true, heartfelt conversations. That may have been the thing that ripped it for me because heartfelt conversations are the only kind of conversations I'm interested in.
And my world is not small. It goes all the way up to the sky. It is as big as the human heart. It is as vast as whatever it is you could possibly use to measure love.

Which, I personally believe, would be the universe.

Thank all of you so much for your comments yesterday. It is an unfortunate truth that so many of us have had similar experiences. But here we are.

And now my boys are here and I've cooked two eggs, made a bacon sandwich, and dispensed a giant dill pickle. And I realize I haven't eaten my own breakfast.

Life. The way I like it.

And I don't feel shaky at all anymore. I just feel good.

Friday, November 27, 2015

My Brother Helped Me Grow Up Some Today

I had to tell my brother to leave this evening.

It was hard and so weird but I had to and I did it. He told me I was fucking crazy but he packed up and left.

It's all okay. He's a grown man. I'm a grown woman. And I refused to participate in the conflagration that was set, dry wood piled to the sky with gasoline poured all over it. I would not toss that match.
There's nothing in that sort of bullshit for me any more. I have nothing to prove and no one I need to prove it to.

And I am fine. When I went out to shut the chickens up, Nicey ran to me and let me scoop her up and hold her close to my old bosom where she sagged in relaxation and I petted and stroked her and set her gently on the roost and here I am, alone again in this house that shelters and holds me as gently as I held Nicey. Owen claims that Nicey is as nice as she is because he gave her that name.

Have I told you what he's planning on calling his sister as his own, special name for her?


What the hell have I got to feel bad about?

Not much. In fact, not a damn thing that matters.

I got Keith on the box and I'm about to eat some leftovers. I stretch and breathe in and out, and my boys are coming to see me tomorrow. I ain't no martyr and I don't need to wah-wah about any of it. In fact, I'm just grateful that I finally understood that I was not put here on this earth to protect anyone I did not give birth to.

My brother loves to quote Keith as saying, "Know thyself."

I came to know myself a little bit better today. I have dried my tears and stemmed my fears and as my husband says, "I ain't afraid."

I may have had a horrendous childhood but I've got this life now. And I will not be cowered into believing that I have to believe one fucking part of the lies and deceit of any of that house of horrors of my upbringing any more.

I guess I have to say I'm grateful to my brother for bringing me this realization, finally and at last.

Know thyself. Keith is right. Trust that. Ain't no one on this earth who has your story, your heart, your history, your feelings, your unique and powerful and meaningful presence on this earth. Don't let anyone tell you different. And if they try, tell them to pack their shit and get the hell out.

And don't feel bad about it.

Love...Ms. Moon

These Miracles, Great And Small

The day after Thanksgiving and Mr. Moon has headed up to Tennessee to hunt and hang out with a guy he played baseball with in high school and some other old friends, which is pretty darn cool. He's taking up a bunch of Florida seafood and I think a lot of delicious eating will go on with the guys up there.

My brother has headed up to Thomasville, Georgia where a direct forefather of ours is buried. General Vaughn, and yes, of course, a Confederate general and my brother is obsessed with history and spent a part of this trip in Virginia with a man who's written a book about the general. I think White is going to travel down south either today or tomorrow to visit Roseland where we share so many memories from childhood. And perhaps to Winter Haven to see our brother, Russell.
We talked last night and for once, we did not come to blows. It was hard, though. Very hard, and I feel myself unwrapped and undone and vulnerable.
It is impossible for us to reconcile our memories and our feelings about our mother, our family. They could not be more different if we were discussing two completely separate human beings, two completely separate existences. And I do very much understand that both of our versions of reality are completely honest and true.
But as I said, the reconciling of them is probably never going to happen.
And he resents deeply that I have presented my version of things to "the world" here. It angers him. And it angers me that it angers him.
Oh god.

Things just feel strange. My Japanese magnolia is blooming and that should not happen until January, at the earliest.

The Bradford pears are still barely showing color. It is warm and cloudless and the plane that flies back and forth over the interstate to catch speeders is droning above. 

Some of my dearest friends in the world just stopped by and we drank coffee and chatted and that was wonderful. They live in Nashville and are here to visit family for Thanksgiving. The man part of the couple is the violinist we went to see the other night. He and my ex-husband have been friends since they were boys in strollers. We all went to the same high school. We have a lot of history and if there's anything better than knowing and loving people and maintaining relationships with them for years, I don't really know what it is. Karen, the wife, was with me when I had May and I was with her when she had her first child, Sarah. They kept getting texts that it was time to get back to the family because the ribs were ready and I kept saying, "Don't leave! Don't leave!" I could talk and laugh with them all day long. But I sure am grateful for the time we had today. 
They know me as well as anyone. 
And yet, they love me. 
Can't ask for better than that. Their visit restored my soul and that's the truth. 

And so it is quiet right now, even the droning plane has gone away. 

Jessie texted that August rolled from his back to his tummy today. That child is so obviously a genius. I am fairly sure he will be walking next week, reading by Christmas. 

Anyway, I am glad to be alone for this moment in the peaceful afternoon. The boys are going to come over tomorrow for awhile and it won't be peaceful then but it will be fun. 

We go on, we go on. We sometimes find ourselves in the murky bottom of rivers we had no intention of falling into and there is nothing for it but to trust that light and air are indeed still above us and that we will slowly but surely make our way back up into it. Others are here to help us up and sometimes we don't even have to reach out, they simply wade in and there they are. 

The simple miracles that happen all the damn time. 
Over and over again.


Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mostly Pictures

I just feel bereft of words tonight. But here are a few pictures. Jessie took that one. I didn't even know she was taking them with my phone until I started going through my photos.

Probably about a third of the food.

Our friend Joanna came and brought a hammock and the boys would hardly get out of it. I stole this picture from her FB. 

Pretty mama and her babe.

Three of my favorite fellas.

Beautiful May and her handsome Michael.

My Hank and the lovely Joanna. She and Owen gave each other tattoos. Jessie got one too. 

My good-looking brother. 

I suppose I did not get a picture of Lily because she was running all over being the hostess. Trust me- she is absolutely gorgeous and glowing and as full of life as, well, a woman who is about to give birth can be. Oh hell, I didn't get a picture of a lot of people. I'm sorry. Next year? 

It was truly a wonderful thing, having our dinner at Lily and Jason's house. I kept thinking of all the months of negotiations that they went through to get that house but Mr. Moon just never let them give up. He kept saying, "I can just see those boys running around that yard and we're going to make it happen."
And they did. 

What a joy. And we ate outside, as Thanksgiving should properly be eaten, the sun going down through the oaks and pines, the blooming camellias beside us, the sweet air around us. 

And as a lagniappe, another picture stolen from Facebook. If your Facebook was broken this morning, here's the reason why.

All love...Ms. Moon

That Night Of The Year

Last night was one of the best nights of the year.
I just oozed around the restaurant in a glob of love and happiness.
All my babies were there. All my grandbabies.

Boppy got to hold the baby for an hour, at least. Owen was incredibly sartorial. 
Old, old, old friends playing the songs that make us weep and make our feet dance.

Music made, quite frankly, with and from love. 

Holding people close, catching up, all of it, all of it. 
Watching Jessie holding her baby and swaying to songs played by people I've known since long, long before she herself was born. Telling Owen about the musicians, introducing him to people, watching him get to know my brother. Seeing my children so beautiful. 

A dream that comes once every year. 

And this morning, my brother and Mr. Moon, getting a fire ready to smoke the venison. Onions and celery on the stove. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 
No matter what else happens, it's already been perfect. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

And So...

This happens every day. One of the Chi-Cha's gains access to the porch through a hole in the screen to eat cat food and then acts as if I am chasing her with an axe in one hand and the stew pot in another. I wonder if it's at least partially a game, like Gibson and the train.
Faux fear.

If the gut tells all, I am a mess. But is it real? Or is it faux?
I don't know.

My brother will be arriving soon after traveling through the southland a bit, staying one night with a cousin of ours in Asheville. We haven't seen him in years and as some of you may know, our relationship can be...fraught.

I pray for peace. He is my closest blood relative. Our love for each other is not in question. Our history is...complicated.

Anyway, good morning from Lloyd where the sun is shining and it is cool but not cold. I will do a little more cooking and make lists of everything I am taking to Lily's in order not to forget tomorrow. Tonight we will be going to town to hear music at a restaurant where my first husband and a very, very dear old friend will be playing. This is a highlight of my year and that is not an exaggeration in the least. My kids will be there, the wives of the musicians who are both very special women-friends in my life will be there and I will not be cooking. I used to throw a huge wing-ding of a party every Thanksgiving Eve and it was always the best party but I am sort of grateful that I'm not going to spend my day cleaning and preparing and stressing. Over the party at least.

There is my required and much-needed daily picture of August. He is napping after his morning nursies. 

Blooming sasanqua. That color. 

That cat, who always seems to show up when I'm outside. The sun is bleaching her fur. 

And now I feel better. The soothing abilities of the baby, the flowers, the chickens, the cat. 

I better go see if that turkey is anywhere near thawed. And make angel biscuit dough. And go stay with the boys for a little while this afternoon.

And be thankful. For all and sundry, for every bit of this raggedy, magnificent quilt that is my life. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I have spent all day cooking with very little to show for it. I probably could have done everything I did in three hours instead of the eight it took me if I hadn't been so spaced out.
It's a real thing, y'all.
Anyway, that picture shows the pecan pie recipes I use every Thanksgiving, both of them recipes from Mrs. M, or Granny Matthews, to be more specific. I have spoken of her often on this blog so I will simply say that she was the first real cook I ever observed and at least 50% of my cooking skills come from watching her in the kitchen as she moved slowly from pot to pan, sprinkling this, adding that, usually wearing her nylon negligee set and with a cigarette ever-present, dangling from her lips.

Here are my pies.

Regular pecan and chocolate.

I did not go to Monticello but drove down to the intersection of Highway 27 and Chaires Crossroad where I had seen a guy set up selling collards earlier in the week. I figured that way I wouldn't have to put on a bra. Turned out to be a good decision.
Here, my friends, is what we might call "a mess of greens."

I also bought two sweet potatoes, both rather huge. I was only going to buy one to chop up into the bean and sausage soup I have been cooking all day in the crock pot but the greens man and another guy who was there laughed at me. 
"One?" they asked incredulously. 
"Okay. Two," I said. 
They laughed some more. 
For all of this I paid $3.50. 
It was the highlight of my day. 

Peace, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

A Mess, Both Definitions

Here is what Miss Camellia looks like today. As you can see, she hasn't gotten her tail feathers back but she doesn't look plucked anymore.

I think I've finally got my phone sorted out but am not quite sure. I've talked to tech help twice already but that had to do with messaging and activation. I've got beans cooking on the stove and laundry going. 

I am feeling eight thousand kinds of anxious. Like I've taken some bad speed for those of you who may ever have made that mistake back in the olden, olden days. And I'm sure that it's mostly about Thanksgiving. Not the meal itself. I could do my part of the cooking half asleep with one hand tied behind my back. 

But I don't feel like talking about it and I'm going to just get on with it. Make my cornbread for stuffing, make my pies, go buy greens at the farmer's market in Monticello because my collards aren't big enough to make a decent mess of yet. Not "mess" like messy but "mess" like, "Mama made a mess of greens for Thanksgiving." 

And so forth. I have two venison roasts brining in salt and brown sugar that Mr. Moon is going to smoke. I need to make my angel biscuit dough. Lily keeps offering to just buy rolls but I don't know- I like making the bread. I guess I'm just not ready to give up all of my Thanksgiving duties as of yet. Not ready to abdicate my matriarchal role entirely. 

So it goes and so it is. I'm trying to find my lotus flower as Lis says. 
This helps. 

Six more months, good lord willing and the creek don't rise. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, November 23, 2015

Transfer Complete. I Think

New phone. The camera works. My kitchen's a mess.

Love...Ms. Moon

I Told You I'd Bitch

Who said it could get cold? Wah-wah-wah. It's like forty-something here which is cold for us. Our blood is thin and not up to the rich salty levels of those of you who live in the more northern climes. It is infested and invested in mosquito toxins, it is cold blood, not warm blood. We are hot-blooded but only in the sense that the heat which usually surrounds us and sustains us causes us to be quick to anger and macho foolishness. When the temperature drops we are like the lizards who want nothing more than to find a warm place in the sun to lay. We crawl slowly and have a hard time doing the simplest things like opening a new bag of chicken scratch, our fingers stiff and useless, scrabbling at the little thread we need to pull to gain access to the corn, the chickens looking at us as if we were the ridiculous creatures that we are.

Ah well. It's not that bad.

Here's a picture of August who looks toasty warm, wrapped up next to his pretty mama.

I have much to do today including going to town and buying flour and Karo syrup and picking up my boys and I better take a walk. At least I won't sweat to death.

Stay warm, y'all.

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, November 22, 2015

We Shall Not Perish For Lack Of Apple Butter

There's my beautiful old Trixie. She hasn't laid an egg since late last spring but she still sings a most beautiful song as she goes about her day. I would like her to live forever, just so I can hear her voice which is a constant pleasure in my life.

On Friday while I was outside, I realized that I could smell the tea olives again. I went and checked and sure enough, their tiny blossoms were out.

May and Michael were here and I asked them, "How often does a tea olive bloom?"
No one knew. 
I looked it up and one source says they can bloom several times a year. I'm here to say that is true. Their scent is so strong and so spicy sweet that you can smell it all over the yard. 
Speaking of scent, my house does indeed smell like apples and cinnamon. I am not sure that my entire day's labor and a whole bunch of sugar has added up to anything fit to eat. I canned a few quarts of apple slices in cinnamon sugar syrup for pies but they may not be any damn good. I started the apple butter in the crock pot but soon became impatient and now the sugared and spiced pulp is in a regular pot on the stove, simmering its little heart out. I do not have a food mill and if I do, I don't know where it is so I processed the soft chopped apples in the food processor and to tell you the truth, the texture of the goop is now more like applesauce than apple butter but I refuse to do it all again. Okay. Maybe I'll put it through the blender. I am about to get tired of this project although I have enjoyed it and have been listening to an audio version of a John Grisham novel and don't you judge me. I love it. "Sycamore Row." The narrator is fine and does accents and voices well. Grisham has a rare grasp for the southern characters and the racism and dynamics that can be seen in any small southern town. This book is set in 1987 when things were even worse than they are today. At least in some ways. I don't know. But I do know that Mr. Grisham is good with twists and turns, with characters and plot. It's like watching a good movie in my mind for hours at a time while I chop and simmer and measure and boil and sterilize and wipe up the kitchen over and over again. My floors are sticky and I just redid the goop in the blender and NOW it looks like apple butter and I have no real idea how long I need to cook it and I don't have nearly enough jars sterilized for this batch and this could go on all night. 
Oh well. 
Remember when blogs used to do contests? Perhaps I should do a win-a-pint-of-apple-butter contest. Or maybe a gallon. 
Mr. Moon took an entire truckload of crap to the dump today and that makes me feel better. He said that if he did ten more just like it, the garage would be pretty nicely cleared out. 
One step at a time. 
And so this day has been like that. The temperature is dropping and before too long I'll have to bring all the plants in and somehow, they've gotten away from me this year. Where will we put them all? Why are so many of them so huge and in such heavy, heavy pots? Dear Lord. Why do I love to root plants and make more of them as much as I do? 
I guess it's because my ovaries no longer function or something like that. 
I am grateful that I have soup to heat up for tonight's supper and I am grateful that I have a dishwasher. It is on its second run of the day and I'll probably be able to fill it again before bed. 

Bed. Wonder what I'll dream of tonight? 
Please let it not involve dysentery. I feel certain I covered that one pretty well last night. 

Much love...Ms. Moon

A Dream And A Recipe

Well, you don't know what fun is until you've spent an entire night in a dreamworld where your task is to take care of JFK, Jr. in a third world country. Sounds okay until you realize that the reason you are taking care of him is because he has like the world's worst case of dysentery.
Pretty gnarly and bathrooms are hard to come by. At one point I almost told him that the was going to die in a plane crash in the future but I realized that would be cruel so I kept my big all-knowing mouth shut.
HOW do I come up with this shit? I am talking literal shit and a lot of it.
Also, I needed to do laundry for about fifty people and we were trying to check out of a huge hotel.
Why? Why? Why?
Anyway, I carried on dreaming, toiling tirelessly and finally woke up at 10:30! Mr. Moon had been worried that I was dead. But I was not and made him some pancakes and now I better get to some sort of apple preserving. I am, strangely enough, still in an excellent mood and it is going to get cold here tonight. Thanksgiving is barreling down the pike and I have a turkey thawing in the garage refrigerator. I am going to stuff that bird and take it to Lily's to cook. I'm also making angel biscuits and two pies and the greens.
My brother from Washington State is actually going to be here and I'm looking forward to that if we don't hit one of those places wherein we curse each other and go insane. I'm going to do my best to avoid this because when we're good we're very, very good but when we are bad, we are horrid.
"Lock up the guns!" I told Mr. Moon cheerfully this morning.
Actually, neither my brother nor I knows how to shoot a gun, or at least I don't.

And so, tra-la! I am off to gather apples from the refrigerator and do something with them. At least my house will smell good.

Oh! How to make pineapple chicken:

You can use any chicken pieces you want. Currently I am loving the thighs. A mix of thighs and breasts is good. You CAN use skinless but it isn't nearly as good as the kind with skin on.
So get you some nice chicken pieces (I cut the breasts in half) and brown them in a little oil. Olive, coconut, whatever kind of oil you have. Of course I use an iron skillet to make this. As the chicken browns, sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. When they are browned a little, slice up some fresh pineapple OR get a can of pineapple, either rings or chunks. The kind with the syrup works best. If you don't have that kind, or if you use fresh, you're going to need a little brown sugar. So, put the pineapple on the chicken. If you're using canned, pour some of the liquid in the pan too. If you're using unsweetened pineapple, sprinkle a little brown sugar on top. Like...less than a tablespoon but more than a teaspoon. Slice up an onion and put those slices on top of the pineapple. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top. Cover and let simmer. At one point, you may want to turn the chicken under all of that pineapple onion goodness. When the chicken is almost done, go ahead and take the lid off and let the liquid sort of reduce and thicken.
That's it.
I like it with rice.

There you go.

Love...Ms. Moon