Wednesday, January 30, 2008

But Really

I think that what's going on is not really bitterness or anger or even fascination with another woman's life.
It's the fact that I'm really, really sad.
Even though Lynn's and my brother-in-law's deaths were blessed releases from what had to be living hells, they are gone. They are totally gone and I will not see them again.
My friend Lynn will never show up here on Thanksgiving morning and make me drink a shot of rum and dance with her in the hallway and then take a plate of whatever foods I've finished making with her to eat later in the day, taking also a lot of the sun and joy from the house with her when she goes. She's never going to go to LeMoyne with me and the other gals and stand in the gazebo and talk about her year. She's never going to pole dance again. She's never going to stand on the deck of a sailboat and laugh at the sheer joy of being alive and on the water with the wind blowing on her face. She's never going to walk around Lake Ella with me and raise her arms up to catch the breeze, her face turned up towards the new-blooming dogwoods. She's never going to listen to my woes and tell me she loves me. I'm never going to hear her laugh again or walk on the beach with her again or swoon at the sight of Johnny Depp on the big screen with her again.
I'm never going to hear her tell the story of walking around a puddle with my son, Hank when he was a just a tiny thing again.
And that just makes me so sad.
And I'm never going to sit and laugh with Ron again, either, or enjoy his sweet and gentle presence. And I don't know what to say to his wife, my husband's sister because I have no idea how anyone can take in what they took in when the doctors told them that Ron had ALS and would, in fact, be dying soon. I don't know how she managed that year of his illness, the constant trying to keep up with the different failures of his body and going to work and staying sane. I don't know how she manages to wake up every day, her husband of thirty years not there in the bed right beside her, and somehow get up out of that bed and go to work as if the world hadn't ended.
I am so sad for her.
And I'm so sad for all of us somehow. The whole human race because we all die and we all go through that dying and the ones that are left behind have to miss us and we all have the consciousness to realize that very true fact.
And what do you do with this sadness?
I guess you just go on and do whatever it is you have to do. You read the blogs of strangers, you make dinner, you do the laundry, you go to yoga and you do the neck rolls.
Grief will take you down some strange paths and will make you feel some uncomfortable things and I guess and I hope that it all ends up in stretching our hearts out a little bit more, making them capable of letting in more.
Bless our hearts. Bless our sad little human hearts.

All Right

I'm feeling angry and bitter today for no apparent reason. I went to yoga and the whole time, instead of being on Namaste Vibe Cruise Control, I was having angry thoughts like, "I don't want to do neck rolls, okay? Seriously, I don't." All the while doing neck rolls, but not very effectively. My heart wasn't in it the way it usually is.

And I think this bitter anger (and I'm sure it's somehow related to grief but it's an ugly side, I have to say) has a lot to do with my resistance to giving you the web site of this woman's blog I've been obsessed with. She already has about one million readers a day.

Probably more importantly, though, I know in my bitter little heart (compounded by the fact that she and her husband support their family and multiple Mac-related purchases by the ads sold on their sites) that if you read her blog, you'll truly realize what an inferior blog-product you're getting here at blessourhearts.

But what the hell? Go, read, know the joy that is
Experience with Heather her life in LA and her national-media-covered expulsion from the company she worked for due to her blog. Gape in wonder at her goddess-like beauty. Laugh at her particular brand of former-Mormon dark humor. Worry about her depression and chronic constipation. See the pictures of her wedding. Read about her labor and delivery. Chuckle at the stories of her leopard-print-wearing Mormon granny and her insanely loved dogs. Be in awe at her honesty and the way she can use profanity. (I know I am.)

Go on. I know you want to.

Me? I think I'm almost over it. Phew.

I wonder what the next obsession will be. Hopefully, something I can blog about.

And soon, hopefully, I'll revert back to being the sweet little old wise woman I used to be who loves her life and home in North Florida.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Post Mortum Reaction

I think I may have mentioned in a former post that after my friend Sue died, I spent at least a month incapable of much more than lying in a fetal position on the couch watching infomercials on TV. Although I knew this was not a life nor was it an appropriate response to the death of a friend, I just could not help it. I suppose, looking back, it was better than simply lying in a fetal position in bed.
I feel now, after Lynn's death, that I am not as profoundly affected in such an incapacitating way. However, upon observing my latest major time-sucking activity, I think I may be in error in thinking that.
I found, by chance, a blog site that I have spent more hours reading than I would admit to anyone in the entire world. Thank God my dogs can't talk and report me to the authorities on this one. And you'd think, wouldn't you? that reading one person's blog would be a sort of self-limiting activity because there is an actual end to the entries. However, in this case, this person has been blogging since 2001 and has put up a new blog at least daily for most of the past seven years.
It's mind-boggling and I am nowhere near caught up to the present time, although of course I have been "cheating" by reading the newest ones too and let me add- this person's spouse has his own blog so I can read two different takes on the same situations and, well, I think I need to get to a meeting or something.
I am not going to mention the name or address of this site because although I think I am only doing this obsessive blog-reading in a weird sort of grief reaction, it may be that the site is actually crack you can consume without the use of a clumsy pipe.
I really don't want to contribute to anyone else's addictions. I'm sure we all have more than our share of THOSE.
I need to get out of the house and I am going to do that. Right now. I'm telling you the truth.
And let me also add that all the flowers that came into the house for Lynn's party have now died and I've taken them outside and dumped them in the woods and emptied their vases of the smelly ick-water and swept up the petals from the floor.
This seems profound somehow, although I'm sure it's not really.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ashes To Water

The first time I ever heard the word "cremains" it was coming from the lips of a funeral-home employee with stiff blond hair wearing a brown suit, tan hose and sensible heels.

Please dear God, I thought, let her have made that word up.

But no, she didn't. It's a real word.

Cremains: " The ashes that remain after cremation of a corpse."

Eck, right?

Not really. Have you ever seen any? They're like angel's dust (not angel dust) but heavier.

We scattered Lynn's today. Her cremains. I'd rather call them ashes, though. It was a beautiful day down at St. Marks and everyone took a handful and said something and flung them out into the water which was lapping the rocky little point where we stood, winter-clear and chuckling itself against the shore.

Each brother, her sister, her mama. Her son.

Here's what I said, "Lynn! I joyfully release you!" And I did.

Or at least that one handful of ashes I was holding, anyway.

I almost hated to let it go but it was beautiful, seeing it fly and fall into the clear salty water, salty water like we all come from, the salty water that bathes our planet, salty water that forms our tears, both of joy and of sorrow.

I could sort of hear Lynn giggle as she flew.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Southern, Hippie, Peasant Cooking

Call me an old hippie, call me a peasant, call me Southern gal. All part of the glorious mix of the mongrelness that is Ms. Moon.
I love long, colorful skirts, can't abide jeans that don't say Levi's, love to get my hands in the dirt and my favorite meal is made up of beans, greens, rice and some sort of bread.
This morning I told my husband that really, I didn't feel like making dinner. Morning might seem a bit early to be thinking of dinner but one of the first things I do every day is decide what our evening meal will be. Yes, I am food-obsessed and I know it.
Of course as soon as I said that, I decided that what we really needed to eat tonight was my favorite meal and I went out to the garden and picked some collards, some mustards and also pulled a few cabbage leaves to put in the pot together. I thought to make another pot of black-eyed peas, but could only find half a bag, which I'm sure would have been enough for me and the man's supper, but I cannot bring myself to cook only one half of a small bag of beans. What's the point?
I found some dried soybeans and started those in a pot with some Dale's Seasoning (I love this stuff- it's like soy sauce on steroids) and a bit of olive oil. Soy beans, being the king of all beans, need plenty of time to cook. Hours and hours and hours. So they've been simmering away for quite some time now and will be ready for tonight's meal. I make a goop (honestly, this is what I call it) to go on them which I base loosely on a recipe from a very old and very cherished cookbook I own called The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook and although it sounds weird, it is extremely yummy. You just mix up some mayonnaise (they use that vegan kind but I use regular-people kind, only low-fat), soy sauce, a little balsamic vinegar, and garlic powder. I usually use fresh garlic for all of my garlic needs, but for some reason, I use the powder in this recipe. Put this sauce on top of your soybeans and brown rice and you will have a delightful dish of goodness. Well, unless you use too much of the goop, in which case you've negated all the nutrition with fat.
But really, the beans are great with just some soy sauce and/or hot sauce of your choosing, as are all beans.
The greens I wash very carefully (mustard greens can TRAP some sand, folks), cut then into bite-sized pieces and put in a pot with water, a little olive oil (my oil of choice) and a cut-up onion. Today I also added a can of diced tomatoes. Sometimes I use fresh. I just like the flavor of the tomatoes and greens together and as a matter of fact, the vitamin C in the tomatoes actually makes the iron in the greens more available if consumed together. Did you know that? Cool, huh?
I also cook them with a bit of the Dale's and some balsamic vinegar and I'm sure I cook them too long but I do not like a crunchy green and think they're unnatural. Don't you remember your granny's greens? They were so good and she cooked them all day.
I am taking poetic license here. If my granny ever cooked a green in her life I don't know about it but if she did, it was probably spinach and no, that should not be overcooked. My granny believed in the goodness of the canned green bean and also the nutritional value of the iceberg lettuce leaf. But in my imagination, my granny simmered greens all day long on a big old woodstove in her country kitchen while she sat and made quilts.
I'll probably make a pot of brown rice to go with this meal and I have leftover bread from last night which I made from such an improbable mix of grains and other ingredients that you wouldn't believe it if I told you and it wouldn't sound good, either, but believe me- it was FINE bread and it will be tonight, too.
And that'll be our dinner.
What are you having?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Sight To See

Every time I woke up last night it was raining. That gentle, steady sort of rain that gets the job done, soaking the ground and going straight to the still-tight buds of the dogwoods and azaleas and the roots of the oak trees.
That same rain must have called up the bugs of the dirt, too, because when I got up this morning and went outside to feed the cats and get the newspaper I could barely believe what was going on in my side yard. There were hundreds of chirping birds: brilliant cardinals, fat robbins, doves, crows and even the guinea hens from next door, walking as they do in a line, chuckling in their rusty tongue as they marched along.
But it wasn't just birds I was seeing. There were squirrels perched on stumps who would suddenly leap down and run across the yard and skitter up the pecan trees like they were playing some sort of child's game of I-Dare-Ya.
The horses and chickens and goats next door were out, strutting around in their respective pens, looking sassy and glad to be alive and I swear it was like a damn Disney movie and I expected to see a lion and a lamb stroll by together any moment, or at the very least, Bambi and his mother, tentatively nosing their way into the midst of all this animal life, nibbling at the wild violets and Florida betony growing crazy-green here in the middle of winter in North Florida.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just As I Thought

Okay. I'll just haul my old butt down to the truck stop and see if they're hiring.
At least I'll be able to walk to work.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And Getting Even More Serious

I need to figure out what I'm doing for the rest of my life.

This is no joke. After thirty-one years of constant mothering duties, I seem to be out of work. The kids still need me, but on much more of a limited basis than when their diapers needed changing or their classrooms needed cupcakes. Know what I mean?

Frankly, I'm sort of happy just doing what I do now, which is taking care of a house and a husband and four dogs, but these days you get absolutely no respect for that plus the pay is abysmal. So I've been thinking a lot about maybe trying to enter the work force but I just can't figure out how to go about it. My resume would go something like this:

1970: Worked as a file clerk in doctor's office. Also ran errands and read charts of patients when no one was looking.

1972: Worked at MacDonald's. Worst part of job: Manager named Fat Steve. Also, having to wear puke yellow uniform made of polyester. Also, tourists from Michigan with seven children who all wanted to order separately. This was in the days when we added everything up in our heads.

1972-1974: Attended University of Denver for no apparent reason beyond learning how to smoke pot. Roomed at one time with Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Interior under George Bush.

1974-1976: Moved to Tallahassee and waitressed at various local restaurants.

1976-2007: Full time mother. During this time also spent four years at FSU getting a degree in nursing, passed nursing boards, got divorced, got married, had two more babies, worked at a birth center, worked for Weight Watchers, volunteered in classrooms, and was president of my daughter's high school PTSO for one year.

Special skills: Cooking. Helping women have babies. Breastfeeding. Diaper changing. Grocery shopping. Dish washing. Laundry. (My whites sing!) I type pretty fast, but not the numbers or symbols part. Just the letters. Am also good at decorating homes with things found at Goodwill and on the side of the road. Can garden and keep plants alive in pots. Very good at giving un-asked for advice which can sound wise and mean nothing. Excellent listening skills if you're talking about NPR. Also am good at officiating at weddings. And oh yes, going on vacation in Mexico. Do not speak Spanish, however.

Interests: Food. Books. Magazines. Blogs. Tim Gunn on
Project Runway. Caffeine. Sleep.

Weaknesses: Diplomacy and people skills. For example, just this morning I told two lovely women who had come out in the rain to stand on my doorstep and tell me about Jesus and how He would guarantee my place in heaven if I would just admit to being a sinner and join them in Bible Study that I am not religious because I HAVE read the Bible already. I used to be a fast learner but I am not anymore. Still have current nursing license but get physically ill at the thought of hospitals. I actually plan my driving routes so as not to pass one. Seriously.

So. What do you think? Think maybe potential employers are lining up to pay me the big bucks and offer me health insurance based on this information?

I can't even think of what I'd like to do. What I'd like to do is what I do now, which is hang out at my house and write only with the added bonus of getting paid and maybe getting to go on a book tour now and then. Maybe have someone buy me a lunch occasionally to celebrate Tom Hanks wanting to make a movie of my latest book.
Something like that.

Any suggestions? All offers will be considered.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Let's Get Serious

I'd like to discuss politics now.

Not in depth, you understand, but just some general thoughts I've had about the subject, seeing how it's the year we get to pick our new president. Are you as excited as I am about this prospect?

So what I've been wondering is What Kind Of A Crazy Person Would Want To Be President At This Point In History?

I mean, really. Bush has fucked up things so badly that it seems to me it's going to take at least four years just to get things vaguely back on track. Where's the fun or glory in that? Are there really people who have such a desperate need to perform public service that they're willing to spend millions and millions of dollars and all their time and energy to get elected to a job that they're completely bound to fail at?

And what kind of an egomaniac does it take to believe that straightening out the country is even within the realm of their capabilities?

The economy is now in world-wide panic mode, we're still in Iraq, the middle east is, as always, threatening to blow, we've forgotten all about our constitution, our schools suck, our bridges are falling down, our highways are crumbling, our health-care system is a joke unless you're rich, our reputation in the world is pathetic, we're torturing people in secret prisons and not-so-secret prisons, we're limiting basic human rights in our own country while threatening other countries with war because they're not protecting theirs, the entire planet is on the verge of major catastrophe due to global warming, we're in hock to our eyeballs to China and the countries that supply us with our lifeblood-oil, and people who believe that their Imaginary Friend created the universe in seven Earth-days are fighting to get science out of the classroom.

Barack- you ready to take that on?
Hillary- you want the job?
Huckabee- you think you the man?


So as I see it, anyone who wants to be president has go to be a little bit insane. At the very least.
And beyond that, I'm not believing a word I hear fall from any candidate's mouth. I've gotten to the point where I'm so cynical about the whole thing that I believe everything they say is the result of some focus group study and if I hear the word "change" one more time I'm going to puke.

I'm not saying that all the candidates are big liars, just up there parroting the words they think people want to say but...
Oh wait a minute. Yes. I am.

This is not to say that I wouldn't much rather see Hillary, Barack or John in the White House than Rudy, Mitt or Mike. Please. Don't even say the word Republican to me.

BUT, at this point in time, I'm ready to have a system for electing the president that involves a Oija Board or a telephone book. We're spending crazy money and we're all acting like monkeys, listening to these people make promises that we all know damn well they can't keep.

It's just not working for me.

Is it working for you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Time Out

Well, the inevitable has happened, I suppose. I have a cold. One of my daughters had it last week and a few of the people who came over on Saturday did too. Add in the emotional roller coaster I've been on for a week and the weather and you have the perfect equation for getting sick.
But it's not so bad. I'm here at home, the sun is shining outside, the big tub is waiting to be filled with hot water, epson salts and lavender oil. I've been doing a little laundry, watching some crazy daytime TV and crocheting a hat.
I'm a lousy crocheter, but I'd have to be on death's door to simply sit and watch TV, especially in the daytime.
It's strange how guilty I feel, not doing something I consider to be productive. I don't have soup simmering or bread rising and I'm not outside cutting back frozen plants or working in the garden or even going to the grocery store or library. I'm not walking or doing yoga.
I'm just sort of taking care of myself in a quiet and slow way, which in my world, is something that does not come easy.
But for today, or at least for right now, I am going to let the rest of the world take care of itself. And guess what? I have a strong feeling that it'll do just fine without me, which is a nice thought, and reassuring and yet, at the same time slightly scary.
Maybe I better make some bread.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What A Wonderful Life

Despite the rain and the cold and the pewter gray skies, they came.
I think perhaps a hundred people came to wake Lynn and I do not mean try and awaken her, but to celebrate who she was, to gather and remember. This old house took them in all in and gave us her hallways, her rooms, her ceilings and floors and porches as a place to gather, sheltered from the cold January rain- her sister and brothers, her mother, the relatives from Atlanta, the old hippie friends, the mother's church and bridge friends, the folks who'd worked with her back when she could work, her child, her stepson, their friends and posses. Later on in the evening when most of the crowd had gone home to their own houses, two of the people who'd tended her at the nursing home came and that's when we danced.
And sang karaoke, which Lynn would have loved and definitely would have done.
My daughter and Lynn's niece wore dresses that Lynn had kept from the old, old days, vaguely Indian, certainly hippie, and they looked beautiful, as young as Lynn had been at one time, as full of life as we had been when we met.
My ex came with his wife and their beautiful granddaughter and he and my daughter played some music. This time he didn't break down, this time he sang all the words without crying.
People looked at the pictures her sister had brought- Lynn as a baby, Lynn as a child, Lynn as a young, dancing woman, Lynn in the crazy sunglasses she used to make, Lynn with friends, Lynn when she was pregnant, Lynn as a new mother, Lynn with her four siblings at every age and every stage. Finally, Lynn in the nursing home, even as recently as a few weeks ago, smiling that gap-toothed smile that some say means sensuality.
I say it too.
Remember? Remember? Remember?
Everyone who came had one piece of the puzzle that was Lynn. We all remembered together, we put pieces together, another picture was formed, another dozen, a hundred, and yet, still, all together they weren't entirely Lynn.
Outside it was so cold and so wet. I went out to one of my porches for a few moments and watched the rain fall on the matriarch oak out front and thought how much we need rain. I was grateful for it and was grateful for the flowers and food and warmth and light everywhere in the house when I slipped back inside.
The first guests showed up before one p.m., the last left after one a.m.
She would have loved it and I wonder why we waited until she died to do this thing, to gather these people, to play this music, to eat this food, to dance, to drink, to praise, to laugh, to honor. Why didn't we do it as soon as we knew the day of her death was to come so much sooner than any of us would have believed? When she could still have eaten, heard and understood the praise and joined in the laughter, could have taken in the hugs and kisses, could have danced and drunk rum?
Well, that's not the way we do things. We get that diagnosis and somehow pretend that it's not real or that it doesn't mean anything and we put off the fun and we put of the honoring and celebrating until it's all too late to mean a damn thing to the one we've gathered for.
And don't tell me she knew it was happening. You can't prove that and neither can I.
But two years ago, I know she would have.
But we did it up as best we could without her. And even if she wasn't here, she was the reason all those people left their warm houses and drove all the way to Lloyd with covered dishes in their hands and memories in their hearts.
We did it.
And now we go on. The sun is shining today, the house is back to being just a home, the flowers are still beautiful, the glads and poppies and sunflowers and tuberoses and I'm all alone here and I think I'll go for a walk and it'll be quiet in the woods and because I'll think of her, Lynn will be there too.
As much as anywhere except for in the bones and face and blood and soul of her son.
And there I know she lives on, no faith needed to believe that.
Here's the funny thing about death- it brings with it more good than you can imagine. Peace and celebration and joy, too. For me it brings the knowledge that nothing and no one lasts forever. Not me, not you, not Lynn.
And it's okay.
Rain falls, the trees grow stronger, the sun comes out, it warms the ground, the flowers start to wake up in the wet earth.
We remember to live after death comes. I can't say more than that.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This is a picture called The Blue Door by someone named R. Wintz. Lynn had a print of that picture, framed and hung, everywhere she lived. It was hanging above her bed at the nursing home when she died.
A few weeks before Christmas, I found another print of it in an old pretty silver wooden frame at a antique store. I bought it and considered it a gift from Lynn to me. I'll put it on the altar we're making for Lynn.
Today's the day we're having the Memorial Party for Lynn, for lack of a better term. When I offered to do it here, I imagined somehow that the weather would be beautiful and we could all go from house to yard and the bluebirds of happiness would be flocking in the trees above us and the sweet, warm breeze would remind us of Lynn and how much she loved to feel it on her face and there would be so much joy.
Instead, it's supposed to rain all day, the sky is pewter, any birds in the area are huddling somewhere warmer than my backyard and it's cold.
So much for MY plan, huh?
I have no idea how many people are going to show up. There are enough plastic cups and styrofoam plates in the kitchen already, bought and delivered by Lynn's sister-in-law and oldest brother, to serve hundreds. Also two giant bags of tortilla chips, same for Chex Mix, and an industrial sized can of mixed nuts. I've made the worst looking cake I ever made. Seriously, I made better looking cakes in the third grade. Also some hummus and banana bread- all Lynn favorites. My shed is filled with beer and wine and sodas. Two of her brothers are supposed to be coming out to get those on ice.
Where we'll put all the food, the drinks, the chairs and tables is sort of beyond me at this point. My house is large, but there are many small rooms in it. Dancing will have to happen in the hallway, and dammit, it better happen, otherwise we might as well have just had a damn service at the Bevis Funeral Home.
I had wanted this party to be an event to honor Lynn's ability to always imagine herself, no matter what the circumstances of reality she might find herself in, standing there in front of a beautiful door, looking out at a turquoise sea with a blue vase of red flowers right there.
Sunshine required. Breezes necessary. Bluebirds optional, but a nice touch.
Instead, it's dark as the gloaming, I can't imagine where I'm going to put the food, my heart is sad, my husband is out of town with his grieving sister and my cake looks like a joke.
I don't know what I'm trying to say here, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Lynn never got a damn break, ever, and I don't think she's getting what she deserves today, either.
But you know what? I know she would have found the best in it. She would have managed to have a great time and there would have been dancing and she would have drunk rum and said, "Whoop-ai-ay!" as she tossed down a shot and she would not have worn black.
I better get working on this situation.
And by "situation" I mean my attitude which I can change, although the weather is beyond my pitiful ability to do anything about.
Candles. Flowers. Pictures. Shalimar. Music. Food. Friends. Family.
Whoop-ai-ay, Lynn, my always-joyful friend. I like to think that you're living in that house now and you know what every room in it looks like and that every one of the rooms looks out onto that sea and that the breeze is blowing into every window and you are standing there, smiling, the wind blowing your hair, your eyes closed, a huge smile on your face and your arms stretched up in joy and you are dancing, dancing, dancing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And Then....

Another good one died last night of another deadly neurological disease. My brother-in-law, my husband's sister's husband. He was less than one year from diagnosis to death, I think. ALS. Lou Gehrig's Disease. Let me tell you- it's not a good way to die.
Ron was a huge man, over six feet five and had two enormously tall sons and was as good a father and husband as anyone I ever met. Gentle and kind (as men of his size so often are), loving, funny, and just pure of heart.
He'd gotten to the feeding-tube/respirator stage of his disease and suddenly, last night, his blood pressure dropped and his respirations increased. They took him to the ER and he was dead within a few hours, leaving his wife in a S. Florida hospital, one moment a wife, the next a widow. They'd moved there recently and had no support system yet. Their sons were in other states, his sisters in Texas. He was retired, my sister-in-law had found a good job down there and planned to work for a few years before they settled into their long-dreamed of retirement in their nice home with a pool and a yard where they could grow citrus and palm trees.
She called my husband when Ron was admitted and so my man hit the road even before waiting to hear the outcome.
"Is it okay if I go?" he asked me and what could I say? Lynn's made the journey and he needed to be there for his sister. They're the only two left from his family and there was no decision to make except which shirts to pack.
I cried while I was making him some sandwiches and coffee, but I knew he had to go. He got the call that Ron had passed less than an hour after he left.
Death is taking no holidays around here.
But there sure are some beautiful souls adding their light to the universe. I'm trying hard to remember that.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking of Ron and how we sat on the beach at Dog Island a few years ago, watching the sunset and talking about the things that matter.
I would never have guessed. I would never have guessed.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What He Said


Gray Is The Color

Last night the words "Lynn died today" came into my mind and suddenly, all the gold dust and exuberance that Lynn's flying showered upon me is gone, or at least I'm not feeling it. I feel old and tired and sick myself, but I know it's just the grief.

After my friend Sue died, years ago, I probably spent a month in front of the TV watching infomercials. That seemed to be the only thing I was capable of. Couldn't even read and for me that's like saying I couldn't eat, which didn't come easy either, thinking back.

But I have to get off my ass. I'm having the memorial party here on Saturday and looking around, I realize my house is not fit for humans. And the weather is supposed to be cold and wet on Saturday so being outside won't really work, not that outside looks too good right now anyway. Things are brown. Brown and stick-like, which looks like I feel, but not appropriate to celebrating a joyful life. My youngest daughter did comment that perhaps this is a good thing because at least people won't be stepping in all the dog poop out there. She's a Pollyanna sort of girl and I don't know where she got that. Not from me and that's for sure.

So anway, I should be cleaning, tidying, and going out to buy flowers and candles and rum and making banana bread and carrot cake and creating altars and dancing to the Beatles.
Yeah. I should. But no, I'm not.

But I'm going to do what I can and forget the rest. I sort of hate to think about people coming to my house and thinking I didn't even try and that I'm a lousy housekeeper and so forth, but I also keep thinking about something one of my kids said she heard recently which was "It's not my business what others think of me," which is good advice in many a situation, this one included. It's not about the house or the yard but about the purpose of the party which is to celebrate a life which brings us back to my original thoughts- Lynn's life is gone and dammit, I'm just sad.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


My friend Lynn took off this morning at five-fifty-five a.m. and I have no idea what happens when we die, but my feelings about the matter in this case are that she is dancing in the light and she IS the light.
It was a beautiful and peaceful dying. She took her time but she got it done.
I am joyful and I am exhausted.
I'm sure there will be more words later but for now, I will just say that there are angels on this earth and there surely were some of them taking care of that girl at the end.
I'd say rest in peace, but I can't see Lynn resting at all. Now that she has no need for that body and mind which haven't worked right in a long, long time, she has a lot of dancing and kissing and hugging and smiling and talking and laughing and singing and cooking and sewing and sailing and hair-brushing to do.
The world is a poorer place. The heavens a more joyful one.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings

During my visit to Gatorbone, we were discussing memory, specifically as to how we are losing ours. We forget where we put our keys, our purses, and what we had for dinner the night before. Things like that.
"Did we always forget things like this?" I asked Lis.
"Yes, and so much more," she answered reassuringly.
"You're right." I said. "Like- we used to forget to use birth control."
This cracked us up and we continued to think of other things we used to forget such as to ask for last names and arrest records. Also, on occasion, we might have forgotten to hide the roaches.
Things such as that.
Forgetting where the keys are isn't such a big scary deal compared with memory lapses like the ones we had in the old days.

I'd also like to talk about women who pee on toilet seats. This is a warning: The next time I sit down on a toilet seat at Target and find that the woman who used it before me squatted over it in order to avoid butt-contamination and who, in doing so, contaminated the hell out of it, I am going to find that woman and I am going to kill her.
Ladies- if you sit on a toilet seat properly, and it is dry, your risk of disease is fairly nill but if you pee on a toilet seat that I unwittingly sit on, the risk of death or at least massive public embarrassment is huge.
You have been warned.

People who drive without their headlights are another thing that bother me to no end. When it is dusk or dawn or when it is raining or foggy, USE THOSE HEADLIGHTS. That is why we have them. It's not like you're going to use more gas if you turn your freaking headlights on. There's nothing like seeing, at the last moment, a gray car come out of the mist without its lights on to make me insanely angry. My grandfather always said that if you can't see the sun, you should use your lights.
He lived well into his nineties. Need I say more?

Chain letters are another thing that I cannot abide. Of course these days, that includes e-mail forwards that instruct you to send the mailing on to others. Sorry folks, nothing gets me to use that delete button quicker than a "send this message on to eight women whom you love" message.

On to things that delight me:
Small children and babies who grin and gurgle at you in the grocery store. I have to stop and flirt with all of these darlings. I promise I won't grab your baby up and run, I won't even touch the little darling. But I am going to stand there and make a fool out of myself. Can't be helped.

The dog who lives on my walking route who never fails to get up out of her patch of the sun and wiggle her way to me for a belly rub and ear-scratching. "Lucy," I croon. "You are the prettiest dog in Lloyd." And she is, but don't tell my dogs I said so.

Prairie Home Companion. There is nothing so soothing in the entire world as the words, "It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon," as spoken by Garrison Kieller. I know some people hate him and sometimes his stories loop and circle and go off into real tangents and never really make it home, but I don't care. It is one of the high points of my week, listening to the news from Lake Woebegon and dammit, I like the rest of the show, too. And his column.
And I loved the movie, although that Angel of Death was a little over the top and unnecessary in my opinion. Who knew Sue Scott was so cute?

Laundry additives. As my daughter said to me today, "Laundry additives are the condiments of the washing process." Or something like that. She's right. I love me some bleach. Whites should be white. I like to use Oxyclean, too, although I'm not sure it really does anything.
And this leads to hanging the clothes on the line which is another thing I love. I will never, ever, EVER live in a place that doesn't allow this basic human freedom.

Seeing wildlife on a walk. Foxes, rabbits, and deer, of course, but I also include bluebirds, hawks, and eagles in this catagory. Bluebirds are so damn blue. It's like the entire winter blue sky was condensed into the size of a small bird. As my friend Tommy pointed out to me once, they don't call them the bluebirds of happiness for no reason. Once I saw an alligator while walking the Miccosukee Greenway. The thing about this sighting that made it rare was the fact that the gator wasn't anywhere near a body of water. No, it was about three feet from the trail I was walking. Whoa! Scared me to death and I don't think he was too comfortable about it either.
And of course seeing dolphins, although we have none here in Lloyd. But no matter how often I see them in the Gulf or bay, it's always a very special moment when I spy one and I always stop and watch its progress for as long as I can.

New magazines that come in the mail. There is no better bang for your buck than a subscription to a magazine. I get Florida Gardener, Esquire, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and the Oxford American. If you do not have a subscription to this magazine, go here immediately and whip out your credit card. The Southern Music edition is going to come with TWO CD's this year and that alone is worth the price of admission.

And you know what? I guess that's all I want to talk about right now.
Hope you're having a nice weekend. I am. I think I'm going to hang my clothes on the line now. And then I'll take a walk. And I was going to do something else, but I can't really remember what it was.
I'm sure I'll think of it eventually and I'm certain that whatever it was, it will not result in an unplanned pregnancy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Love Your Local Artist

I'm back from the far-away mystical land of Gatorbone, Florida where I was treated as lovingly and as graciously as the proverbial Prodigal Son, although in this case, it would be the Prodigal Daughter and I am better for it.

The trip was just as good as I thought it would be, and the baby-kissing just as sweet. It had all the elements of a great get-away which are: wonderful food, a cozy bed, terrific music, big, black loving dogs to pet, and people whom you love to share perfect days and jovial nights with. The shopping was good (the Scratch and Dent food store in St. Augustine is NOT to be missed, my friends) and the weather couldn't have been better. There were several themes to the trip, one of which was "It only burns for a minute," and the other, "These martinis are not getting any colder!"

And I just can't tell you how fabulous the young grandson was. Perfect in every way, and amiable to letting me, a perfect stranger, feed, hold, burp and dandle him.

And the drive over and the drive back were uneventful and I could get NPR on the radio the entire way!

Did I tell you it was the perfect trip?

But now I'm home and glad to be. As much as I love my friends, I am at heart a hermit and I have the potential for an entire weekend to myself. The Man is off hunting in Georgia. I think it's the last weekend for does or something like that. I'd think that he had a girlfriend except for the fact that he asked me to go with him. Although it was a terrifically sweet offer, I had to turn him down. There is no electricity or bathroom up there at the hunting camp and really, I'd rather be here with my stove and my lights and my plumbing.

I'm old.

So this weekend I plan to write the Great American Novel and get it published and maybe do a little yardwork. Take some walks. Make some fish, create a soup, ponder what the hell I'm supposed to be doing on this planet.

Same as usual.

I'm thinking a lot of artists and how they have to work so hard and be so brave to do what they have so obviously been put on this planet to do. It's weird. Brittany Spears, who is famous for falling apart in a spectacular and often void-of-panties way is richer than hell while people who are actually talented and work their asses off have to scramble for day jobs and live with the worry of having no insurance or retirement plans or regular incomes and yet somehow manage to keep on believing in what they do to the betterment of us all.

Support your local musician, folks.

And artist and writer and actor and so forth. All the people who take the basic, common items of life like words, notes, threads, color, paper, wind, metal, glass, wood, corn meal and oysters and create the things out of them that make us stop and think and rejoice or get angry or cry or pray or smile or dance or swoon with sheer pleasure.

Good for the heart, good for the soul, good for the economy, good for the artist.
Buy a painting, go see a play, buy a t-shirt, CD, book or hand-crocheted shawl, eat at a restaurant that a local chef works her magic in.

It only burns for a minute, feels good forever.

And do I hear someone saying that this martini is not going to get any colder?

Here's to those who live the dream, which is much, much harder than you would think.
God bless them and I thank them, these people who make the art that makes our lives worth living.

Monday, January 7, 2008

With Friends Like This, Life Is Sweet

I have a very good woman friend who is one of those people you'd hate if she wasn't so joyfully wonderful. Her talents range from organizing and putting on a major folk festival every year to baking the most stunning and delicious wedding cakes you've ever seen or tasted. She also gardens, is incredibly smart, is wicked funny, dresses with a sense of style like no one else's, AND is beautiful. To top it all off, she's also a musician who plays what I guess we could call new grass, although recently she started writing her own songs which have sprung forth from her completely formed and amazing both lyrically and musically. In fact, she's already won several song-writing contests so I'm not just saying this because I'm blinded by love. She plays guitar, she plays banjo and fiddle and piano and probably about fifteen other instruments that I'm not naming here. But her true gift, in my opinion, is her voice.

She sings like an angel. I'm telling you, the woman can make you cry. Especially when she's singing one of her own songs.

Despite all her gifts, she's incredibly unassuming and modest. She certainly never says anything to the effect of I'm a musician and you're not, although if I were her, I definitely would.

But it's funny- no matter how close we are, when she goes onstage and begins to play, the fact that we share hearts, secrets, recipes, shoes, dresses, giggles, drinks, hopes and dreams- all of that fades away and suddenly, I am struck with awe and she is, for that time onstage, someone that I can barely look at. She is a creature of wonder and mystery to me.

Our joke is that when she goes on break, I can hardly speak to her. It's more truth than joke, however. I find myself tongue-tied and might as well be in the presence of Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan.

Anyway, I'm going to drive across the state tomorrow to see this friend and I'm really looking forward to it. She and her dear husband, who is also a fine musician and songwriter, live in a small house in the Florida scrub down near Gainesville and they are the perfect hosts. They are gracious and kind and go out of their way to make me feel at home and loved and I always do.

And now, to make it even more apparent how clearly superior this woman is to me, she's managed to have a grandchild and we'll be going to see him while I'm visiting.

So I'll be off in the great world, or at least a tiny corner of it, for a few days, visiting and being in awe and kissing a baby and listening to music, and I'm sure I'll come home a new woman, one determined and inspired to practice my own art and to strive to be the sort of person my friend is- one who brings light to the world and joy to the hearts of the people she loves.

Or at the very least, a woman who is even more intrigued with the idea of becoming a grandmother than ever. I'm certainly not about to develop any musical talent at this point in my life, nor am I about to start putting on folk festivals or baking wedding cakes and I'll never be, like my friend, beloved by thousands, but I'm lucky enough to have a friend who does and who is and with a little more luck, like her, one day I'll be a grandmama because all you need for that, thank God, is children.

You too can visit Lis, in the virtual sense anyway, by going to
It's a trip worth taking.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Where ARE Those Ducky Diaper Pins?

I am thinking that perhaps there is a biological clock for grandmothers just as there is one for mothers. Do you think that's possible?
I ask this because despite the fact that I'm not consciously craving grandchildren, I've been dreaming about babies lately. And in the dream I had this morning, besides the cutest, darlingest little dumpling of a babe you ever saw, there was an older woman wearing a T-shirt that said, "I can't get pregnant anymore."
Although that doesn't sound particularly clever or T-shirt-worthy, in my dream it was one hell of a chuckle-inducing bon mot.
I said in my dream. How funny!
What's funny, of course, is that my mind quite recognizes the fact that I am not about to have another baby but believes, dammit, that there must be one somewhere around that somehow belongs to me.
I have three daughters who are all of child-bearing age. They too, are reporting baby dreams. One of them is going to be married next April and I wouldn't be surprised at all if she didn't present me with my first grandchild within the following year.
Surprisingly, I am not exactly sure how I feel about this. Having just spent thirty-one years in fairly constant child-rearing, I'm not certain that I'm ready to be enlisted in baby-sitting at this point on a regular basis. But as a friend and I agreed recently, discussing just this topic, there is probably some switch that gets flipped when a grandchild is born similar to the one that gets flipped when one's own child is born and the heart is flooded with all sorts of lovely light and hormones that make you love that baby more than life itself and indeed, reveals the meaning of life in a way previously undreamed of.
I'm hoping.
And frankly, I think that all of this is beyond our control and has a lot to do with our evolution as humans and has deep roots in our ape ancestors and it's something we have no need to try and figure out or worry over because it just happens.
When I think of my ancestral mothers, I think of a long, long line of women, holding out a hand to the next one in line, all the way back to a woman who looked very much like Flo, one of the chimps that Jane Goodall studied so intensely in the Gombe. Flo was a mother of outstanding devotion who spent her life raising her many offspring up to become high-standing members of their community up until the day she died, and I have often asked myself in situations with my children where I was unsure how to act, "What would Flo do?"
It is a great comfort to me to think that somewhere deep inside of me there is a mother-wisdom that stretches all the way back to a mother like Flo and if I just relax and get out of my own overly intellectual internal meanderings and believe in what I know to be the truth, all will be well.
The human race still exists because women know, instinctively, a lot of things that they aren't aware of.
And I'm just becoming aware that all of this mother-wisdom might come in handy if a grand baby were to suddenly appear.
At least my dreams are leading me to believe that.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Finally. After weeks of holiday madness and cooking and cleaning and shopping and wrapping and following rules I don't even believe in and trying to be not the perfect wife and mother but the adequate wife and mother (and daughter and aunt and sister and friend)....
I got an entire afternoon to myself.
So what did I do?
I wrote. I opened the story that I've been working on for months and months and haven't looked at in weeks and just sat down and let the words flow.
It was as painful and ecstatic as it was going to yoga for the first time in two weeks was yesterday.
Okay. That's not true.
It was a hundred more times more painful and a hundred more times more ecstatic.
Now I'm gonna go cook me some salmon.
Oh yeah.