Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This Is What Happens When You Leave Your House

Jesus Lord God, y'all. I'm tired. It's six o'clock in the evening and I've got a chicken about to go into the oven, one of those nice little Greenwise ones that I'm sure was raised with loving tenderness and only the finest of non-hormonally treated, non-antibiotic infused, organic bugs and grains and that a Zen Buddhist Monk chanted over it as it was humanely put to death.

At least it better be for the price I paid for it.

Anyway, my fatigue has nothing to do with the chicken and the little bit of dressing I made to go into it. Ah no. That was a breeze of a thing to do, chop up some celery and onions and throw in a few pecans and saute them in all in a pan and then add chicken broth and some Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix.

Yeah. I used Pepperidge Farm. So what? It's Tuesday night, not Thanksgiving.

Anyway, no, it wasn't that which made me tired.

It was the walk I took this morning which wasn't my usual walk. It was straighter and on pavement and it was hot and I just wanted to get it over with so I walked really fast. No stopping for trash today, my friends.

And when I got home I started unloading and spreading the rest of that pine bark and did some weeding of the flower beds and I must have shoveled at least five thousand shovel-fulls of the pine bark which will add up, even if it doesn't weigh anything. And then I swept out the truck so carefully and was so proud of myself and I hopped down from the truck and decided to go pick up an abandoned cement planting pot I'd spied on the side of the road during my walk. I was already filthy, it was only about a quarter mile from the house and so I just jumped in the car wearing my shit-beat flip-flops, a pair of cargo shorts, a black tank top and NO BRA. I was not planning on seeing anyone. This would be a kamikaze planting pot gathering. Drive there, pull off the road, gather up the pot, toss it in the back of the car, and drive home.

Why would I need a bra?

The pot-retrieval went just fine. I got it in the back of the Mini Cooper and then I decided to go check out a "For Sale" sign I'd also seen on my walk and drove down another quarter of a mile to a dirt road that turned into a grass road. And then, before I actually realized what the hell I was doing, I ran over a large piece of pine log in the road which my car did not clear which means my car was stuck ON the pine log and would not go forward and would not go back.

Well shit, I said to myself. Why the hell did I do that?

In my defense, I will say that the size of the pine log was somewhat camouflaged by its position in the middle of some very tall grass. But still, it had been a stupid move and it was time to pay the price. I stepped out of the car and got down on my belly in the dirt to see what was what, and what was what was that the pine log was firmly jammed between the underside of my car and the dirt road. I tried, feebly, to dig the log out with my bare fingernails but after about ten seconds of that, I realized there was nothing to do but lock the car, walk home, and call Mr. Moon.

Which is what I did.

I walked home wearing the shit-beat flip flops, the cargo shorts, the tank top and NO BRA, thinking that surely someone would stop to ask if I wanted to buy any crack but no one did. Two bulldogs did bound out of a fence and bark at me but I think my raspy weird voice trying to yell "Go home!" scared them and they pretended they were interested in an old piece of tire and not me and left me alone and intact, but with a slightly elevated heart-rate.

I made it home, sweaty and pissed off at myself and called Mr. Moon who said he'd be there right away and he was.

He wasn't perturbed, he wasn't upset. He just went out to the garage and got his floor jack and loaded it up and down the road we went and he jacked up the Mini and pulled out the log (which turned out to be a fine piece of fat lighter) and we brought that home with us and it would appear that the underside of the Mini is fine.

Glory be and hallelujah.

But I have learned a few things and one of them is really, whenever I get in the car to go anywhere, I should be wearing a bra, and I should probably have a phone. What if I'd decided to go look at a house for sale that was five miles away? Hell. I'd still be walking home and Mr. Moon would be frantic.

And there would be no nice stuffed chicken to serve my knight in shining armor and I'd probably never go out of the house again and I'm wondering if maybe that wasn't the lesson I should have learned anyway.

But I suppose that all's well that ends well and I am grateful to have a husband who has things lying around the garage like floor jacks and who can use them with skill and proficiency.

And I have a fully-mulched yard and it's no wonder I'm tired and oh yes, I planted three papaya seedlings in the pot I brought home and I hope they're happy there, although as you can see, some of them are already looking a bit wilty.

It may just be one of those days when all my acts go for naught but at least I think the chicken will be tasty and I feel pretty sure that by the time I roll into bed (which will probably be around eight p.m.) I will sleep just fine.

Identity Crisis

Got that in the mail this morning and if still remembered how to laugh, I would have.
But damn- isn't that the question?
What to do about Mary Moon?
If I were the sort of crazy that sees conspiracy theories everywhere, I would be trembling.
If I were the sort of crazy that finds religious portents in every day objects, I would be worrying.
Well, I already am worrying and that's my problem. I can't seem to quit.
Oh, I'm not as anxious as I was. At least I don't feel as anxious but I seem to have lost my voice (quite literally- I can barely speak) which makes me, if at all possible, even less socially available than I was before. I'm sort of okay at home but get me out in the world and I can barely speak above a whisper. And frankly, I don't think there's anything physically wrong with me but that this is sort of a somatic response to my anxiety- another way to keep me home, keep me away from the troubling world and its responsibilities.
If so, it sure is working.
One of my daughters is depressed too. And thank goodness we can talk about our mutual depressedness and end up laughing, although I feel guilty that she's depressed and I can't do anything about it and I'm sure she feels guilty that I'm depressed and she can't do anything about it but we both know that fighting these black battles can really only be done alone.
My husband keeps trying to help and just knowing he's there and wants to help IS a help. Yesterday he sent me off to get a truck load of pine bark mulch, thinking it would get me out of the house and into the world to do something and he was right, although he had no idea how much anxiety it produced, driving down the road in a strange truck, finding the place, negotiating for the fill-up (done at a whisper) and driving home with bark chips flying everywhere.
It didn't end up being too bad at all and then I spent several hours spreading the stuff. That's been my latest big project- spreading pine bark mulch. I have a feeling that if I don't draw a line soon, my entire two acres will be covered with pine bark mulch. It's hard to know where to stop and it's an extremely pleasant task. Shoveling it is like shoveling air and I listen to a book on tape while I'm doing it so it's almost like I'm getting away with something and when I'm finished, you can definitely see the results, which is a huge difference in the sort of thing I usually do which is to clean things that get immediately dirty again or cook things that get eaten.
I suppose it is therapy, in a way and it may not be much but it's something I can control which is more than I can do about the world economy or national politics or even my own mood or voice.
I can spread pine bark.
And hey! It smells good.
So. What to do about Mary Moon because she can not spread pine bark mulch forever.
I do not know, but I suspect the answer lies in remembering that (thank you, Miss Maybelle), all things shall pass and that measuring the time in coffee cups as TS Elliot did or measuring it in wheelbarrow loads of pine bark is a way to get from here to there.
And also trying to remember just who Mary Moon is. I have a vague memory of who she used to be. She was a woman who managed to keep it together with four kids in the house. A woman who helped other women have their babies with patience and words and hands. A woman who was occasionally wild enough to dance up to the edge of the precipice, smile wickedly and dance back to safe sanity. A woman who could sit in front of her computer and create a character who had more sass and backbone and courage than I ever will. A woman fired up with piss and vinegar and estrogen and who had a voice and used it.
I used to be that woman.
I think.
I wish I could find her again because I sure as hell miss her.
Maybe she could tell me what to do about Mary Moon. I think she'd know.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Music Therapy

My son, Down Town Guy, brought his mama a mix CD yesterday when he came out for the Lily birthday celebration.
I consider this CD a rare and fine gift in that he considered my taste in music, my need for musical mental support and the songs that made me happy as a child.

The song list is as follows:

1. Grits Ain't Groceries - Lil Willie (and Mona Lisa was a man!?)
2. Coming Up Close - Valla, Turner, Williamson (my LIZZIE!)
3. Daniel and the Sacred Heart - The Band (Religious AND righteous)
4. Mary Don't Weep - The Boss (no translation needed)
5. Fixing a Hole - The Beatles (ditto)
6. Draft Board - Brennan Leigh (extremely interesting)
7. Diamonds - Carol Channing (not quite sure about that one but damn, I love it)
8. Case of You - Joni Mitchell (just try not to cry when you listen to this one)
9. Train Robbery - Levon Helm (his voice- oh, it breaks me)
10. I Know You Know - Lyle Lovett (thank you for assuming I'm that smart)
11. Cripple Creek - The Band (the stories I could tell...)
12. When I'm 64 - The Beatles (yes, I'll still feed you)
13. Richard - Joni Mitchell (we'll never see her like in this lifetime)
14. Skillet - Milkcrate Hustlers (new to me)
15. Katie Cruel - Oxford American (your mind will be shifted a space to the left of where it is and you may weep and not know why)
16. That Was - Paul Simon (Paul, where are you?)
17. Jolene - Dolly Parton (uh- this is not Dolly but she did write it and it's amazingly passionate)
18. Life's Been Hard (VTW again and it's Lis AND Lon and I love it so)
19. Diamonds - Paul Simon (try not singing along)
20. Day In The Life - The Beatles (best band in the history of the Universe)
21. When The President Talks to god - Bright Eyes (yes. Thank you)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dreaming A Life

I dreamed last night I was adopting a little girl from Cuba. She was the perfect child who behaved herself like no toddler ever could and who held her arms out to me whenever she saw me and who was tiny enough to fit into a baby sling and I was excited to think I'd have this perfect, loving little child to raise and love and feed and take care of.
Well, that was a dream, and I have no plans to take on so much as a kitten any time soon. I am living for the moment the dogs all die and I can reclaim my library which is where they live now, slowly eating and clawing their way through the chair and the chaise lounge, bringing magnolia cones into the room to destroy on the rug which reeks of dog and is thick with their hair.
Mr. Moon and I were going to go out to eat last night. I showered and got dressed, which took all the energy out of me. I have a closet full of clothes and not one thing made me feel pretty or proud or happy to be seen in. But I managed to find something that would DO and put my hair up and put on make-up and we had a small drink on the porch and he was wearing his white shirt and Levi's and I said, "Honey, let's just stay in."
And he said, "I wanted to take you for a ride in the convertible."
"Okay," I said. "Let's change into our overalls and go for a ride. Then I'll make us some eggs and we can watch the debate."
And that's what we did. We got out of our going-out clothes and put on our old, soft things and fired up the Cutlass and drove around in the misty gloaming as the sun was going down and the trees were heavy with summer's full growth and the air was cool and I waved at folks sitting on their porches and I started talking about things as Mr. Moon drove and we were as close as can be, me spilling my heart and him listening and telling me he loves me.
We came home in the full dark and I cooked up deer sausage and potatoes and eggs with tomatoes and onions and made biscuits and we ate them in front of the TV and the presidential hopefuls debated and it was so boring I couldn't stand it and finally said, "I'm going to bed."
I washed the dishes and set the coffee to go off in the morning and we went to bed where we slept so well with the windows open and I dreamed of that child. I'm writing this now with a dog's head in my lap and I need to get the house straightened up and make Lily a card and make the birthday dinner and get ready for all the babies to come out to eat and celebrate Lily's birthday.
It's like a dream and that little girl in my real dream last night was so clear to me that I almost feel like she's here, sitting quietly while I write, eating her little bowl of Cheerio's, just waiting for me to pick her up and put her in the baby sling and carry her around with me while I wash the table cloths and frost the cake.
It was like a dream last night, floating through the evening air in the Cutlass, my words floating from my heart to my mouth, saying things I needed to say, hearing things I needed to hear, then coming home to eat breakfast for dinner, a good sort of dream and I would believe I made it all up except that there are two biscuits, wrapped in plastic and sitting in the refrigerator, left over from last night's supper, just waiting to be warmed up, spread with butter and then have honey poured all over them, sweetness and light, transformed by bees into something almost too beautiful to eat, but which we do, and should never take for granted.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How A Girl Got Her Name

When my daughter, Lillian Rose Moon, was born, twenty-three years ago tomorrow, we had no name picked out. Since I hadn't had a sonogram and didn't know the sex of the baby, we'd thrown around a bunch of different names but hadn't decided on any one of them.

And then, after my shortest labor (a mere eighteen hours) and a very prolonged pushing stage, she was born. All ten pounds, two ounces of her.

"Mary," the midwife breathed, "that is a huge baby!"

And indeed she was. She was born slightly distressed because there'd been a small issue of shoulder dystocia (meaning that her shoulders were broader than her head- not the usual order of things) and the midwife had to do some fancy maneuverings to get her out and then get her to breathe. While she was working on my baby to get her to take that first important breath, she said to us, "Talk to her. She needs to hear her parents talk to her!"

And I determined right that second that she needed to know she was supposed to be here and that she needed a name to be called to tell her that. And the name Lily Rose came to me and I called her that and reached out and touched her and her daddy talked to her and touched her and the midwife breathed into her and Lily breathed back and started to turn from the dusky dark color she was to the peachy pink color she needed to be and we all cried tears of relief and joy.

And that's how Lily got her name. I sort of thought I was naming her for Jimmy Carter's mother, Miss Lillian, because she was such a strong and cool old woman, joining the Peace Corp at the age of a hundred or something like that and the Rose part just seemed to fit.

Lillian Rose.

Now, in what would seem to be a completely unrelated matter, a few years later I was at the flea market and found a copy of a book that I had been raised with. The book is huge, and it's called World Famous Paintings and it has gorgeous plates of, well, world famous paintings, with brief commentaries on the paintings which range from works by Giovanni Bellini (1429-1516) to Grant Wood who was born in 1892 and who was still alive when the book was published in 1939. There are hundreds of pictures in this book and as a child, even before I could read, I loved going through it, page by page, looking at the pictures and trying to figure out what in the world they could be about. Some of them were disturbing and some of them were slightly titillating and some were charming and some (mainly the landscapes) I found mostly boring.

I grew up and forgot about that book, hadn't even thought of it until I ran into another copy of it. Running my fingers down the beige cover of it, standing there at the flea market, I was instantly transported back to being a little girl, holding the massive weight of it on my lap, going through the pictures and wondering and learning and thinking deep, deep thoughts about images that had been created by people hundreds of years dead.

I bought the copy and brought it home and opened it up and it was like revisiting a childhood friend or perhaps some older relative whose stories had made up a good part of who and what I had become, even though I hadn't thought of her in years.
I got to the last few paintings in the book and there I found a picture which I had completely forgotten by John Singer Sargent. It is the picture you see above, of two young girls in a flower garden, dressed in white and preparing Chinese lanterns to hang.

The title of this painting?

Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose.


Again- another moment of wonder at how something so obvious could have completely escaped me.

Well, whether the roots of Lily's name had been forgotten by me or not, it is a good name, and one which suits the sweet woman she is now. There is no one in the world whose hugs feel as good to me, whose sense of humor makes me laugh harder, whose smile is brighter, whose face is more precious to me.

And I could have named her Mona Lisa or Sun Flower or Madame Sophie or Madonna or Venus Rising or Cupid or Beatrice, which all would have been fine names that were no doubt also lodged deep within the folds of my brain, but I didn't. I named her Lillian Rose and called her Lily and tomorrow is her birthday.

Happy birthday, my sweet flower child.
It has been joyful watching you bloom this year. You are married now and married well, and you are living in your own place with your husband and cats and you are happy.

You may thank John Singer Sargent for your name.

And I thank my lucky stars for you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cold Wave

So it's like fifty-five degrees and already- I'm done with winter.
I live in Florida for a reason.
I'm freezing.
Perhaps I should put on some long pants.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Not Quite A Rant, More Like A Theory

I'm pretty sure I've written about cloth diapers before and God knows I've written about childbirth but I'm too lazy to go back to see what I said and if I don't remember, maybe you don't either.
The above picture is one of my favorites and yes, it's a lousy replication. Sorry.
But that's a shot of HoneyLuna when she was a tiny little blond thing waving at her beloved Paw-Paw who was surf fishing. She is wearing, as you can see, a soggy, saggy cloth diaper. It was probably wet from ocean water and I probably just took it off of her and let her run around naked after that picture was taken. I don't remember but that's something I would have done.
When my first child was born, the Pamper had just been invented and it was a nasty thing made of paper and plastic and there was no way I was going to put that sort of uncomfortable thing on my baby. I wouldn't have worn it so why should he?
I used cloth diapers then and I used cloth diapers for all four of my kids, although I will admit to using disposable at night when the kids got older and the products got better. But for the most part, I used the old fashioned cotton diaper, prefolded and fastened with diaper pins.
How barbaric!
And yet, it worked for me.
Of course, this meant I had to rinse out baby poop in the TOILET and I had to wash all those diapers and dry and fold them. For the first two children I had no dryer and depended on line drying and somehow, that worked too.
This was just what you did back then. There were plastic pants that went over the diaper to prevent leakage when the child was wearing something over the diaper (like corduroy overalls- the cutest thing in the world that a child can wear- trust me on this) or if we were going to be somewhere that if a leak occurred, it would be awkward, such as the store.
No big deal.
And no, the cloth diapers didn't prevent leakage the way disposables do.
And yes, I had to change them EVERY TIME THE CHILD PEED OR POOPED which meant that on many days, I probably changed at least a dozen, maybe more, diapers.
Nowadays, the way they make those disposables with that magical stuff in them that takes the pee and turns it into a gel or something, you can get away with probably three changes a day. Maybe a week. I don't know.
But I do know that every diaper change was a chance at a little face-to-face interaction, a hug, a tickle, a kiss, a running-of-the-chubby-little-legs-like-a-bicycle, a giggle, a belly raspberry. In short, what we might call mommy (or daddy)-baby quality time that beats the hell out of a Baby Einstein video. All in the name of a dry bottom.
I wonder if anyone's done a study to determine if the decrease in the number of these interactions are affecting our babies' development.
I doubt it.
The diaper companies certainly wouldn't pay for it.
And that is the main reason I think cloth diapers are superior to disposables. Is that crazy?
I mean, yes, I think cloth is better for the environment and it's got to be a hell of a lot cheaper. Of course it's more work and you have to actually deal with baby poop on a whole different level if you rinse out the diaper in the toilet and flush it, which is how poop should be handled, if you think about it, rather than just folding that little plastic package up and throwing it away.
Which is far yickier if you ask me than flushing. In the long run, at least. Think of all the baby poop in landfills.
Or don't.
But you know, this is how we are these days- we don't deal with things on the level that people used to. We don't raise our own food or butcher our own animals or pluck our own chickens or make our own clothes or chop our own wood. We don't like to get our hands dirty or deal with blood or poop or pee.
Or pain.
And I'm pretty much down with that.
But I wonder how it's affecting us. Technologically, we are so much farther advanced than we are biologically. It's one of the reasons obesity is so prevalent. We're still wired to need just a few more calories than we would expend in obtaining food energy. Think of how hard people used to have to work to get a meal on the table. Between the growing or raising of it, the hauling water, the chopping wood to cook it on, the hauling of the wood, etc., you were damn lucky if you could get enough to eat to offset what it took to get it from the ground to the body. Or from the woods to the body.
And now, we only have to walk from the closest parking space we can find to the door at Publix, into the store and around it to gather what we need to bring home and pop in the microwave and cook it. We can even buy prechopped vegetables, for God's sake! Who doesn't have the time to cut up an onion?
Well. That's another rant for another day.
But all of this is leading me up to childbirth which we now go through painlessly as a matter of course. I don't know who doesn't get an epidural these days.
And I just can't help but think that there's something wrong with being in heavy labor and watching television at the same time.
Not that I think that pain is absolutely a good thing- I do not.
But in the case of childbirth, I have come to believe it has a lot to do with the way a mother feels about her child, which is that as soon as the child is born, the pain is over, and the vast and amazing relief from that pain is associated with the child, making that baby all the more precious on some level that I'm sure our ape-mothers would understand, even if we don't.
Anything that takes THAT much effort to produce is worth watching out for and protecting.
But we don't honor that anymore and in doing so, we lose a lot, I think. We lose the knowledge we gain when we have gone through childbirth unmedicated about how strong and powerful our bodies are.
If there is anything more empowering than delivering a normal-sized infant without drugs, I have yet to experience it.
So. From cloth diapers to natural childbirth.
They are related. And breastfeeding is in there too. Because all three of these things take a hell of a lot more effort but somehow, some way, they all three help foster a connection between a mother and a baby that nothing else can.
We have evolved as mammals in such a way to ensure that babies get born and nurtured and raised to adulthood so that they can have their own babies.
And that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Things I Know As Well As Things I Don't

I don't know if fall is my favorite time of year but I do know that it's always a joy when the sky turns that washed-denim blue and the trees are still holding on to their green so that the contrast of colors is at its maximum and perhaps, that is what I love the most about it.

On my walks I see lots of blooming wild flowers this time of year, more actually, than in spring, as well as the beauty berries, the polk berries, and the dog fennel which brushes the air with its feathery leaves.

I am more apt to see deer as well, usually mothers and their offspring, frisking across the path in front of me, taking me by surprise so that I am always given a jolt of electricity down my spine. They disappear into the woods before I've quite focused on them and they make me wonder how many other animals I am missing, plodding along. I just learned this weekend at the Jr. Museum that foxes can climb trees. I have seen foxes, trotting along the path, but I never once thought to look up into the surrounding branches to see if one was napping there like the ones we saw on Sunday, comfortably snuggled into the fork of an oak, high above the ground.

There is so much I do not know.

I do not begin to understand this economic melt-down we seem to be experiencing and I don't know where it's going to leave us, from a world-view to a personal one. I do not think it's going to be good but I don't think there's one damn thing I can do about it except to take my garden even more seriously.

I've got the fall garden mostly in and I've planted quite a variety of green stuff. I put in the usual collards and mustards and mesclun greens, as well as the arugula and turnips. I also planted rainbow chard because wouldn't that be beautiful, growing, as well as on the plate? Beets, too, which Mr. Moon hates (they taste like dirt) because I want to pickle them and capture their ruby color in jars. I planted a half row of baby bok choi, too, and I hope they come up and thrive. Yesterday after I finished my planting, my tucking of the seeds into the ground and patting the dirt on top of them, it began to rain and I know I felt blessed.

I don't understand how the polls can be running so close on our presidential election and I don't know that I trust our voting process. I don't know what to think about this country that I am supposed to pledge allegiance to. I'm not even sure that I quite understand borders or why we are so intent on defending them, I don't understand "them" and "us" very well.

But I do know that I love to open my house up to this fall air and filtered light. I love the way they wash my walls. I love the way opening the house up is inviting the outside in with its sweet smells and the noises of the birds and the crickets, the frogs in the swamp, even the trains, shaking the house as they pass.

I know that I am surrounded by riches, no matter what the economy is doing. I know that the air I breathe and the water I drink and the thoughts I think are not constrained to borders or countries or theologies or philosophies or political theories. Nor are the birds or the butterflies which visit my yard to fuel up on seed and nuts and the nectar of the cardinal flowers before they take off to wherever it is they are going, which is another thing I do not know.

But they do, which is what matters.

I don't know what my brain and my heart are doing from one moment to the next.
But I do know that they are here, part of who I am, or perhaps precisely who I am.

I don't know exactly how I got here or where I'm going, but I know I am here. I know I am going to cook soybeans for dinner. I know I love my husband and my children.

I know I will die someday.

I doubt it will be today.

I know I'm glad of that because it's fall and they sky is so blue and the magnolia leaves are so green and the cardinal sitting on the feeder is so red. And because the clothes are hanging on the line and drying in the bright sun and the cool breeze. And because it's supposed to get down into the low sixties tonight which means we'll sleep so peacefully with the window above our heads open to the outside.

I know all of those things. The older I get, the more I realize I don't know, but the more I am sure of the things I do.

And I know it's fall and I know that's good.

And I know I'd like to hear what you know, for certain. If you'd like to tell me, I know I would.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Things That Make You Go...HUH?

The other day HoneyLuna and I were in the grocery story and we found ourselves in the baby food aisle, which is a place that even when I was the mother of weanlings I didn't spend much time on. In fact, here's something amazing:
I raised four children and never once bought a can of formula or a jar of baby food.

Whoa! Ms. Moon! How did you do that?

Uh. I breastfed and when my kids started eating "real" food, I fed them just that- real food.
You want to know the stupidest thing I've ever seen? The most ridiculous, anti-environmental, over-priced piece of hooey in the world?

A jar of baby food bananas.

What kind of simpleton would buy a JAR of mushed bananas?

When were those bananas grown? And what sort of energy was used to process and can them and transport them to your store and after you use them, what do you do with the jar?

It's so easy to take a piece of banana and smush it with a fork that a three-year old can do it.
Sweet potatoes, same thing. White potatoes.

But what about pears and peaches and apples and carrots and rice and beans and all that other stuff that comes in jars labeled as baby food?

Here's what you do: You cook the food. Same food that grown-ups eat, maybe a little less chili powder, okay? You take a small amount, you put it in that sweet little device in the picture there, you turn the tiny crank and out comes.....BABY FOOD!


That's how I fed all my young'un's. I wonder how much money I saved.

And here's another thing- my kids all grew up liking "real" food.

There's no magic they put in those jars of food. It's not like a jar of baby bananas has anything in it that you would want to feed your baby that doesn't come in a regular old banana.
If you've bought into the organic baby food thing- just buy regular organic food, cook it up, smush it up, and feed it to your child.
Let's face it- if it's not something your baby should eat, you shouldn't be eating it either.

Okay. This post is certainly not earth-shaking or philosophical and there's not one metaphor in it.

I guess it's a rant.

And I have ranted. I could go on and rant about breast versus bottle and baby juices. But I won't. And I won't even mention disposable diapers. Uh-oh. I just did. Sorry.

I will have to admit that I did buy those zwieback cookies for my kids to teeth on, and I'm not sure why. By the time the kid had gummed one of those babies to death, they were covered with a zwieback crust that, mixed with baby saliva, could be used to glue cars together.

They may all still have a bit of that stuff behind their ears. I don't know.

But people- please- a little sanity here. I know the world's going crazy- but jarred bananas?

Okay. I'm done.

Love ya.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

And The Winner Is.....

I wrote down all the names on slips of paper. I folded them up and put them in my Tilly hat and I pulled one out.
Fair and square.
Call me, boy, and I'll have the subscription sent your way. You know my name. Look up the number.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Youngest daughter, HoneyLuna, came home last night and she and her daddy and I trundled off to the Monticello Opera House for a performance of a play called Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music. It was a fine performance and we did the dinner thing before the performance, which is always fun.

It was bittersweet for me. For the last two years I've been part of the performance and I've missed it so much this year. I literally dream of the Opera House, quite frequently. I've wondered if I would have hit such a low spot this year if I'd been involved in the fall production. The people who get involved in these plays are such lovely people and the community that evolves as the show evolves is almost magical. It was great to see some of these folks last night. There is a connection there which is something I can't quite explain. It's based on the many inside jokes that arise as rehearsals take place, the joy that comes when things start to come together, the coming together of grown-up people to play. As much as I love the performances, they make me sad because they signal the end of that coming-together, that joy of creating.


It was fun getting ready to go with my daughter, too. She ended up wearing a dress of mine that is beloved to me. I've had it for as least as long as she's been alive and she wore a pair of my shoes, too, that made her even taller than her own tall self and watching her as she moved across the floor last night tugged my heart fiercely. She's been in several Opera House productions, too, and the folks there love her. They hug her and kiss her and tell her how beautiful she is and it's always a different kind of joy to hear that sort of thing about your babies.

When we were in my room before we left, finishing up our hair and playing with eye-shadow, she said, "Mommy?"
And I said, "What baby?"
And she said, "Nothing. I just like saying Mommy."
And I thought, how I love hearing it.

It's funny- I am sending this girl out into the world joyfully because the world needs her and our little place here in Lloyd is way too small for her. But when she's back, when she's here at home with us, there is a completeness that I can't explain. The only thing better is when all the kids are here, as they sometimes are the night before Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Mr. Moon and I always go to bed before they do and it feels so fine to know that all of them are under one roof again. I don't think I worry about them when they're not here, but when they ARE, I realize that I do, some small part of my brain is always occupied with doing an eternal roll-call. This one is in that place, that one is in another place, are they all okay? Are they all safe and well?

It's not that I miss having them all at home. I love the way the house feels when Mr. Moon and I have it all to ourselves.

But having them home, whether singly or all together, is a different sort of thing entirely, a special, rare and wonderful event which makes my heart rest easy.

Lately my heart has been sore and my mind has been uneasy and I am working my way through it all. I am having to face truths about myself and the part of life I'm in. It's not easy.
It's not easy taking a script and a stage and a group of people and making a sort of reality out of flat words on pages and it's not easy making a family and then sending them all out into the world, one at a time, to find their places in it.

But it's all work worth doing. It's all work that makes the heart soar, even as the heart is sore, because there are no beginnings without endings. There are no arrivings without leavings.
There are no coming-togethers without splitting-aparts.

And that's what I'm thinking about on this beautiful, cool Saturday morning here in North Florida as the pecans let their leaves flutter to the ground in the breeze and the birds fuss about a hawk they've seen in the vicinity and the rooster crows next door telling me that day is here, day is here, day is here, yet again.

That things are created, families and plays and homes and hearts and they break apart and they come together again if the work is done, if the love is true, if the core is strong, if the time is right.

And that there are tiny miracles and joys if we let ourselves see them, if we accept them, if we don't shut ourselves off entirely, trying blindly to ward off pain.

There are.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Once In A Liftetime Offer

I have noticed that the Really Big Blogs all do giveaways. Frankly, I think this is a cheap way to bump readership.
But the other night as I was reading my favorite magazine, the Oxford American, it struck me that giving a subscription as a giveaway would be a mighty fine way to say thanks to someone who comes by here to read what I write and besides that, it would be one more subscription that I've paid for because I love to give this magazine as a gift and support what they do. They've gone out of business so many times that if they were the Phoenix, their wings would be burned off entirely by now.
But they're still here, singed wings and all and the next issue coming up (and there are only four a year) is the Southern Music edition and it's coming with TWO CD's this year and those CD's are bound to be worth far more than the subscription rate.
There's amazingly tasty writing in this magazine. Amazingly. And they do a Southern movie edition every year that comes with a DVD. And the pictures! Do not get me started on the artwork between the pages of every edition.
So here's what we're going to do: Anyone who is interested in receiving a year's subscription to the magazine needs to post a comment. You can say anything you want. Like, "Yoh! Here I am!" And I'll write out little slips of paper with everyone's names who commented and then I'll make a mint julep and while I'm drinking it, I'll put all the slips of paper in a hat and then I'll draw one out and I'll inform the winner. You'll send me an address and I'll gift you with a subscription of the Oxford American.
So go ahead and comment. If you're one of the many people I've already gifted with this magazine, I'll just extend your subscription.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Believe me. I'm cheap. And deep in my heart I believe blog giveaways are tacky.
And if you do too and are a righteous rocking lover of good literature and mind-blowing music collections, just go ahead and order a subscription for your own fine self.
You deserve it.
Love....Ms. Moon
P.S. I guess I need to make a cut-off time, right? Boy. I have no idea what I'm doing here, obviously. Let's say Sunday morning at six a.m., my time, which is EST. Sunday as in 9/21/08.
And no, I won't be drinking a mint julep at six in the morning.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Don't Care If She Does Love Jesus, She's A Damn Good Writer

The above picture is of an author named Anne Lamott whom I've written about. I like her because she's someone whose heart is fearless and true and open and searching, whose soul is obviously as tear-stained as any you'll ever meet, and whose writing is, despite being written with Jesus-colored ink, mighty fine.

She's written a piece about this upcoming election for Salon and if you'd like to read it, click here. It'll be worth your while.

Thank-you very much.

P.S. I'd just copy and paste but somehow that doesn't seem fair. Go read it where they paid her to write it. I think that's what Jesus would do.

And God Said, Let There Be Soup

I made soup yesterday. I made so much soup that if a family of fifteen bears had stopped by, there would have been enough for all.
There are two of us living here.
Why do I do that? When I'm making something, why do I go back to the refrigerator for two more carrots, three more stalks of celery? Why two onions, why four chicken breasts? Why an entire bunch of cilantro and two limes, a whole head of garlic and four tomatoes? Why two handfuls of brown rice and one of quinoa?
We ate soup until we could eat no more. I packed Mr. Moon a lunch for today with soup. Then I ladled soup into a restaurant-sized leftover container and put it into the refrigerator.
We love soup.
Soup is good.
But too much is too much.
It is as if by making so much soup, I could replace the demons in my heart with salty, garlicky broth. It is if I believed that the snakes in my brain would be seduced out with lime and cilantro bubbling in a pot. It is if I thought that the more chickens sacrificed and boned and bled the better the spell would work. It is as I assumed that the organic carrots could strengthen my blood against its weakness.
It is as if I imagined that soup could cure my ills and the more the better.
It as if I were crazy, I think, looking at all that soup in my refrigerator this morning, wondering just who in hell is going to eat all that soup.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Devolution Happens

Well, well.

It's baaaaaaack.

Whatever it is. The anxiety. The baseless fear. The unremitting nervous, adrenalin-fueled, snake-in-the-brain craziness is back. And I thought I'd put it behind me. I was so confident, so glad, to happy to be done with it. To feel normal. To wake up every day and think, ah, another day of feeling better, of getting better, of increasing health and better living through chemistry. To actually look forward to things. To have a bit of the old optimism, the old I-can-do-this! feeling of ability.

Yeah. That was great.

I have to figure this out.

Meanwhile, staying busy is the only thing I know to do. I have very clean floors right now. And that's a good thing, right?

Anyway, the old blogging game might be a little lackadaisical here for awhile here at Ms. Moon's house. I don't feel like I have much to say of any earth-shaking importance, anyway.

I'll just be right here, mopping floors and thinking about planting the fall garden and trying to keep all these snakes in my head from biting. I guess I should take comfort in the fact that the entire world seems to be going crazy too. Sarah Palin? Wall Street? Carl Rove saying that McCain's ads are going too far? Everyone in Tallahassee panicking and draining every gas station within a twenty mile radius dry?

Yeah. I better get that garden in. Between collard greens and squirrel meat, at least we won't starve if we can't get to a grocery store and cereal goes up to twenty dollars a box.

Good times.

I'll be reporting in when I can. You do too.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Have They No Shame?

All right. How many of us watched the Charles Gibson interviews with Sarah Palin?
I did. I stayed up until eleven o'clock to do so and I was so vocally involved that I kept waking up Mr. Moon who was in his chair, pre-sleeping, as he calls it.
Sarah would say something and I'd hoot or groan or scream out a baffled Whaaaa???
First off, let me say that if the women of American look at this woman and think to themselves, "Why, she's just like me," then they are beyond delusional. Did you see that house of hers? And just how many American women have a sea plane tied to the dock behind their beautiful house? And how many American women hunt wolves from just such a plane in winter? Oh, that must be so much fun, killing wolves from a plane. Golly.
I was surprised at how little slack Mr. Gibson gave Ms. Palin in the interviews. When she'd respond to a question with an inappropriate answer that really had nothing to do with what he'd asked, he'd just ask it again. And again. Until it was obvious that she had no idea what she was talking about and that everything she was saying was nothing but parroted, warmed-up tripe, force-fed to her by a team of tutors hoping to make her sound reasonably educated on things that a vice president might actually need to know.
He called her on her Bridge To Nowhere lie, he called her on her earmarks lie, he called her on Troopergate and on foreign policy. He asked her if she'd ever met a head of state and how much traveling in the world she's done. He asked her a lot of questions that she obviously had no answer for although she managed to spout off something to each and every one, most of the answers making no sense in relation to the question that had been asked.
And anyone who watched those interviews and thinks that this little gal sure has a lot of the ball is either (a) ignorant, or (b) fooling themselves.
I think my favorite part was when she stated that the great thing about her experience as being the governor of Alaska (for 20 whole months!) is that Alaska is just like a microcosm of the U.S.
Oh right. Alaska is just like Illinois and California and Florida and Alabama and Mississippi.
Without the inner cities, overpopulation, immigration issues and people who aren't white.
Although I did hear that Wasilla is the meth capital of Alaska. That may or may not be true.
It just seems to me so absurd that her biggest asset, according to her, is that she doesn't have any experience because that means she'll be able to get the job done there in Washington and bust up that good ol' boy network.
Which, according to what I hear, is headed by John McCain.
It's all double-talk, bullshit, and code-speak.
And if that's what the American voters want, then let 'em have it.
And in other interview news, if you want to spend a few moments watching Palin's running mate being grilled by some ladies who obviously will not tolerate double-talk, bullshit and code-speak, watch the women from The View have at McCain.
I almost felt sorry for the old dude.
But then I didn't.
If you can't take the heat, get out of the damn kitchen. Or at least quit throwing those big fat whopper mooseburgers on the grill.
Which brings to mind the question I've had since Palin's speech at the RNC. If she fired the executive chef at the Governor's home, who the hell is cooking her family's meals?
Oh. Yeah. She's just like all us other American women so I guess she just orders pizza every night. And when she's at home in that big beautiful house that she charges the the people of Alaska to stay in when she's there, I suppose it gets delivered by sea plane.
See? She's just like us.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Downtown Guy's Poem In Response To That Last Post

He wrote it as a comment, but I'm using it for a post. It's too good. And oh yeah, he's my son so he knows me all too well.

When I am a grown woman I shall wear purple cargo shorts
With a red tank top which goes well enough for Lloyd and suits me fine.
And I shall spend our hard-earned cash on blue cheese olives and Macs
And second hand shoes, and say we've no money to give the government for a war we should have never started.
I shall sit down on one of my porches with my love when I'm tired
And go to lunch with my exhusband's wife and dance when my friends play music
And celebrate my children and nieces and nephews
And make up for the responsibilities I had to carry in my youth.
I shall go out barefoot in the garden I tend in rain and shine
And pick the greens and tomatoes we've grown our own selves.
And I don't need any practice,
Because people who know me can not be shocked and surprised
When I am a grown woman and start to wear purple.

Where Is My Inner Gypsy?

Above, you see a picture of Ms. Moon in her brand new shorts dancing with her poodle-mutt, Buster. Buster obviously needs to go see Miss Beverly, his adored groomer, and Ms. Moon obviously needs to have a chat with Mr. Blackwell or preferably, Tim Gunn.
I went shopping on Wednesday. I was already in town, having gone by Mr. Moon's place of employment to do some data entry for him, which is something I do about once a month and it's sort of enjoyable, being in an office situation and pretending I know what I'm doing. Of course, I always screw something up and come THIS close to storming out and saying, "Well why don't you do it yourself, then?!" when he tries to explain to me what it is I'm screwing up, but by the time the next month has rolled around, I've forgotten all of that and I put on a skirt and blouse and go pretend to be a secretary again.
Anyway, after a good two hours of hard, secretarial labor, I determined that I OWED it to myself to go buy something. It'd been a long time since I bought anything new for myself and I needed to go get the battery in my watch fixed anyway, so I trotted over to the local retail mall and found the battery man as soon as I walked into the mall. He was great and fixed my watch right up. I love my watch, even though I don't wear it very often. It's a Timex and it has that great Indiglo feature which is just about the coolest thing ever. You can use that Indiglo as a flashlight if you really need to see in the dark. So I was all happy and fired up, having my watch working again and I decided to go upstairs and check out the Gap, which I had just been to the week before with my daughter, Lily. We hadn't seen anything that day but blechy brown ugly clothes, but I was thinking I'd missed something and I'd try again. I love the Gap and I'll tell you why- the selection is limited. No thousands of racks of different styles and colors. Just a few racks of a few styles and a few colors, making selection so much easier. As I have said before, I basically live in men's cargo shorts and tank tops and I love to find the cargoes on sale at the Gap because you can get a pair of shorts that will last for eons for less than twenty dollars and that suits me just fine.
Well, they didn't have any men's cargoes on sale, but they did have women's and by golly, I bought a pair. Not only are they women's, but they are PURPLE! Sort of. Which just blew my whole wardrobe concept out of the water like A NOOKULAR (why can't politicians pronounce nuclear? huh?) BOMB. I mean, I have khaki cargoes and beige but I've never had purple, plus they were women's, so you can imagine how exciting this was for me.
I shopped around Dillards for awhile, in the women's section, hoping to find some t-shirts that I'd seen a few months ago that were gorgeous graphic prints but which cost like a hundred dollars, hoping I'd find them on sale for 75% off, which is almost like free, but I couldn't so I didn't buy anything there.
And then I went to Marshall's where I found two tank tops, one black and one GREEN, which is also a brand-new concept for me because all my tank tops are black. Plus, these weren't those tissue-thin ones (which means you have to wear at least two shirts which defeats the purpose of shirts and really doesn't work for women having hot flashes) that come down to your knees, but racer-back, regular thickness ones that come down to a normal place for a shirt.
So I was feeling pretty sassy and proud of myself for just pushing that wardrobe envelope until I realized that I'd just bought exactly the same things that I've been wearing for at least a decade, only in slightly different colors and I got a little bit depressed.
I thought that by this age I'd be one of those lovely eccentric women who wear great costumey, gypsy outfits, all velvets and colors and drapey and just....FUN! You know- hell, it's not like I'm trying to "fit in" anymore. Plus, I thought I'd be wearing terrific dramatic make-up like stark eye-liner and eye-shadow applied in layers of gold and purple and teal. AND, big chunky jewelry. Turquoise, amber, giant stones like Wilma Flintstone would wear. Sparkly and heavy and when I made an entrance, I'd make an entrance! I may not have youth and beauty on my side anymore, but by golly, I can have drama!
But here I am, still wearing my cargo shorts and my tank tops. I put on make-up approximately once every two weeks. My jewelry is still subdued and smallish. Except when I'm wearing my armful of silver bracelets which I've already been doing for most of my life and I hardly ever do that anymore anyway.
I keep thinking about that commercial with Diane Von Furstenburg and how she says that although she never knew exactly what she wanted to do, she always knew exactly the sort of woman she wanted to be. Which is why she's a card member, but that's beside the point.
I thought I knew the sort of woman I wanted to be, too, and I thought I'd be her by now.
But I'm not.
I'm just an aging old hippie in cargo shorts with no make-up on.
And just like with a lot of things I thought I'd be or that I'd be doing by this age, it hasn't happened yet, this transformation into a wild gray-haired gypsy woman who knows what she's doing and knows where she's going because she has the confidence and wisdom of her years.
But my hair is turning gray, slowly, and I did buy purple(ish) cargo shorts so maybe I'm heading there. Maybe I, too, will become the woman I always wanted to be.
I'm not giving up hope yet.
I'm going to really, really try to become the woman I want to be, the colorful butterfly who swirls and whirls her gypsy skirts around her and who flashes her psychedelic eyelids.
Maybe I need help.
Tim Gunn- where ARE you? I'd love to make that man some nice dinner and then sit around, letting him give me fashion advice while we sipped thimbles full of sherry.
"Make it work, dear," he'd say as he was leaving. He'd bend over and kiss me on the cheek and I would. I would MAKE IT WORK!
Meanwhile, I think I'll go put on some mascara. It'll be a start.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Being Reminded

I've been in sort of a slump here, the last few days. I attribute it to foolin' around with my medication. I was at a dose that was doing me quite well and then, because I'm an idiot, I decided to cut back and the little slimy monsters of depression and anxiety started poking their nasty green heads up again going, "Yeek, yeek, yeek!" and so forth.
So while I'm trying to get back to the blood level of the dosage that does work, I've been having some of those highly uncomfortable and fearful feelings of complete inadequacy and incompetence and general thoughts of why-the-hell-am-I-still-taking-up-space-on-the-planet-breathing-air-which-a-good-person-could-breathe?
But I am certain that things will turn around again and I will have another moment of happiness and contentment here soon. We ate the pinto beans I had my epiphany reaching for in the grocery store last Friday and I will say they were quite possibly the best pinto beans I've ever eaten. I made a pot of them and mixed them with brown rice and also made some squash croquettes of yellow squash and crackers and egg and onion, and a nice salad with grated carrot on top. When I grate a carrot on the salad, I always feel like I've really done my job, if you know what I mean, those bright orange shreds fairly screaming health and vitality, especially if eaten with tomatoes and baby spring greens and it's so pretty, too. The green and the red and the orange. It was a fine meal and I enjoyed eating it but even while I was enjoying it, I was thinking all sorts of dreadful thoughts, the kind that tell me my medication is not covering all the bases.
I grow quiet when these spells come upon me and I can't make phone calls and it's hard for me to blog and yet, I still need to hear the voices of others and I still need to try and say what I need to say to others.
Communication. It's such a human need. We all reach out in the many ways we have to communicate and I'd say it's a boomtime for human communication what with the internet and e-mail and blackberries and iPhones and regular old cell phones like mine and then you have the less traditional ways of attempting communication- some not so benign, such as flying planes into huge buildings.
I don't think we ever really gave much thought to what was being communicated that day, seven years ago. A lot of anger, I would say. A lot of insanity.
I wish we had spent more time trying to figure it out instead of just going off blindly into wars that will only serve (have only served) to make people who weren't angry before angry now and to be driven insane by all the death and destruction around them.
What do we communicate with war?
Nothing that anyone wants to hear. Nothing that seems to help push humans down a more loving, peaceful path.
And I myself feel so ridiculous, sometimes, trying to communicate with these words I send out into the world. But sometimes I know they resonate with someone, just as I know that other bloggers' words have resonated with me.
A few weeks ago Quiet Girl wrote a post about some things that were deeply personal and deeply heartfelt and I wrote her and told her I'd light her a candle, which I did. It was one of those candles that burn for a week and it just went out yesterday or the day before.
And this morning, when I went to check my box at the post office, I found in it a card that she had made me and sent. A card she'd made with her very own hands and addressed and put in an envelope and mailed to me and now it's pinned to the window right above the desk where I write and every time I look at it, I feel a little more serene, a little more like this whole writing thing isn't just a crazy idea but a real, true way for people to communicate and I am made joyful by that.
She wrote a message inside and signed her real name and now I know her in another way and I am just so grateful for that.
Thank-you, Quiet Girl, for sending me that lotus flower. Thank-you for the words you wrote inside.
A piece of you is here with me, actual and real, tangible and beautiful.
Thank-you for communicating something very precious in such a real, tangible and beautiful way.
And if there's anything good to be reminded of on this anniversary of that day seven years ago when humans and buildings were turned to dust by anger and hate and insanity, let it be that we are all just human beings, trying so hard to reach out, to touch each other, to hold close the ones we love as long as we can, to tell them what they mean to us.
There are so many ways to do that.
I was given such a sweet one today.
A red lotus flower with a sun-golden center, sending out the divine spark in Quiet Girl to the divine spark in me.
I send it on to you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quote Of The Day

Carrie Fisher, commenting on the affair her father, Eddie Fisher, had with Elizabeth Taylor:

"After Mike Todd died, my father consoled Elizabeth with his penis."

Monday, September 8, 2008

More Trashy Methaphors

Although I walk the same route almost every day here in Lloyd, it's always a different experience. Different things may be blooming, a tree may have fallen over, I might see a deer or a bunch of kids on horseback. One time I saw bear tracks and I have seen foxes and bobcats and there's the sweetest bulldog in the world who moseys down from her front porch to wiggle a greeting of affection some mornings and I stop and pet her and tell her she's the prettiest dog in Lloyd and really, that's not just cheap talk. Lucy is gorgeous.
As I've mentioned before, I frequently pick up trash on my walk. I have rules about this. I only pick up the trash on what we call Main Street here in Lloyd, which is a stretch of paved road about four blocks long. There are houses on it, some old and restored handsomely, some modular and tidy, some nothing but trashed out trailers. That old, old falling-down shack with the wallpaper in it is on the road and there are stretches that are nothing but woods, too. I don't discriminate. I pick up whatever I find whether its in someone's front yard or on the woody stretches with the exception of the stuff in the yard of the trailers where the trashy people live because they are young and as far as I can tell, don't do a damn thing but sit on their asses, smoke crack all day and throw their damn beer cans in their own damn yards.
So fuck them.
I have noticed that the main trash items I find are empty Steel Reserve Malt Liquor cans. I have never personally tried the beverage myself, but this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The manufacturer describes the taste as "exceptionally smooth," however it may be said that its appeal lies in its attractive price, high alcohol content, and stylish packaging.
Well, I don't know about that but I do know that some Lloyd resident finds their high alcohol content and attractive pricing to be something he relishes because I pick up at least a dozen of these tall-boy cans a week.
I have often wondered who it is throwing them from the window of his vehicle and today, my curiosity was satisfied. I met the man.
He and another man were on the road, talking, when I was headed out this morning at the end of Main Street and they were still there when I returned. We threw a few greetings back and forth and I said, "Well, now I'm going to pick up trash." I bent and picked up a Steel Reserve can at my feet and put it in the plastic bag I had stashed in my pocket for just that purpose.
"Someone," I said, as I put the can in the bag, "Sure does drink a lot of these."
"Oh, that's me," said one of the men.
"Really?" I asked. "Why do you throw your empties on the road?"
"'Cause I figured someone was picking them up and selling them. You can sell cans for money. Do you sell 'em?"
"No," I said. "I just pick 'em up and throw 'em away. I pick up the candy wrappers and other junk, too."
"Huh," he said. "Well, I don't throw those out. I just throw out things you can recycle and sell."
"Why don't you sell 'em?" I asked him.
"Ah, man. I don't wanna drive around with all those cans in my car. I live way up on Capitola Road." He was, let me say, driving a bicycle this morning. "There's more up that way," he said, pointing down the road as if doing me a favor.
He was completely unapologetic, this guy, about throwing his cans out the window and I certainly wasn't going to start any conversations about how it probably wasn't wise to be driving around drinking tall boys of Malt Liquor that are 8% alcohol so I just thanked him and then added that at least he was giving me something to do.
I suppose in his mind he is practicing a sort of environmental philanthropy which I am not prepared to try and dissuade him about. He can think and say what he wants and I'll continue to pick up his empties because really, who else is going to do it?
I was thinking about this in relation to all the speeches given at the Republican convention which were full of sentiments about throwing the liberal big-spending bums out of Washington and replacing them with...uh, those same (very questionably) liberal, big-spending bums there now and who have been there for the past eight years. In other words- themselves.
We humans are good at twisting things around to seem one way when in fact, they are honestly another.
The difference between these two situations, the guy on the bike who throws his beer cans and the Republicans is that the guy on the bike knew in his heart that he wasn't fooling me and that I was merely humoring him by accepting his explanation of his trashy behavior whereas the Republicans seem to be able to convince even themselves that they are speaking the truth and are whipping themselves up into a frenzy as they feed this bullshit to their constituents who instead of whipping out their plastic bags to empty this crap into, happily open their mouths, swallow, and then, fed on the lies they're being given, regurgitate it out in passionate chants to "Drill, baby, drill."
That takes some steel something. Not reserve, in this case.
I would say more like balls. Balls of steel.
I guess it's all about the stylish packaging.
It's sure not the smooth contents.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Yikes! Ike!

Here we go again.

Can I just ask one question? Why would they name a storm after some guy who beat the crap out of his wife?

I know, I know. That's just a terrible example of anthropomorphism. It's interesting, though, that they even name these storms. I wonder when that tradition started. I suppose I could look it up, but I'm too lazy. I remember when, in the interest of gender equality, they began to give male names to storms, as well as female.

I apologize, but that still seems wrong to me.

For example- which would be worse? A storm named Ike or one named Tina? Ike may have been a woman-beater, but Tina? A storm named after her would have incredible power, stamina, and would move with blurring swiftness on long churning legs of steel down its pathway of destruction. It would be accompanied by blinding flashes of lightening and the deafening percussion of thunder.

It would wear a wig.

It would leave us breathless, stunned and amazed.

Let's just hope they don't name a storm Tina.

If I were to name the hurricanes, I'd pick out names like Daisy, Bruce, and Sweet Pea and hope for the best.

I'm pretty sure we'll never seen a storm named Hitler.

Hurricane Hitler.

I'd evacuate for that one.

You bet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Letting In The Light

Six weeks ago today I was in terror. There was nothing going on in my life to cause such fright, such suffering. Which made it all the more disturbing.
I could find no moments of peace in my life. None. Every moment was a waking nightmare of anxiety and fear.
It came on slowly and grew and grew until I was filled with it. I did everything I knew to fight it. I exercised. I ate well. I got my sleep (and thank God, I could sleep) and I tried desperately to talk myself out of this irrational terror.
I tried being with people. I couldn't talk to them.
I tried going off alone.
That made it so much worse.
I couldn't make phone calls, I couldn't write. I could only try to keep my head above water and try to stay afloat. I was afraid. I was so afraid.
I finally had to admit that I had no choice but to go to a doctor and get help and I began taking Lexapro that day.

That was five weeks ago.

Today I was in the grocery store. I was reaching for a bag of pinto beans and I realized something- I was happy.

Again- there is no external reason. I have not won the lottery. I have not gotten my book sold. I haven't lost ten pounds and my dogs are still here.
I've done nothing today that is out of the ordinary. I went to yoga, I breathed, I stretched. I walked and I sweated. I went out in the garden and I dug up weeds and I sweated some more. I came in, took a shower, went to Publix.

And I realized I was happy.

I saw a woman I know at the store whom I have heard from a relative is also going through anxious, hard times. She looked anxious today and worried. We're not close, but I had the urge to hug her. I remembered how it felt when I was so afraid and in the full force of the storm of that horrible illness (for what else could it have been?) and how much hugs had meant to me then. How much I had craved that touch of a another human. I needed it like I needed air or water. I hugged that woman and I could tell that she was expecting the sort of hug that we would usually give each other- perfunctory and short. Instead, I pulled her in tighter and for just a second, I tried with all my heart to transfer to her some energy, some pure feeling of being okay.

I have no idea if she felt it. It wasn't weird or anything. It only lasted a second. But I hope she did. I hope she felt what I was trying to give her.

I am grateful beyond belief that I had something to give her.

I am grateful beyond belief that the medicine has worked for me. I know I may wake up tomorrow morning back in a dark place. But even if I do, I will know that there is still light and I will be able to see it again.

I have to say thank-you to any and all of you reading this who were worried about me, who posted comments saying, hang in there, we're thinking of you, I've been there too, you'll come back.

You'll never know how much that meant, how much it helped. Without my family and without my friends and without you people who read these words, I think I would have slipped underwater and I am not sure I could have struggled my way back up to breathe.

So thank-you.

Back during the darkest times when I was on the island, I posted some pictures of sunsets that were so amazing and so wrenchingly beautiful that it would have seemed that witnessing them should have cured me. Or at least given me some sort of sense of relief. But I was so deeply disturbed that even the incredible majesty of those light-shot skies reflected in the water could not touch my soul. But I look at the pictures now and they do.
So I'm posting one more.

And I'm thanking you and I'm thanking every good thing in my life and I am aware of it all and I am grateful. I am peacefully and amazingly and happily grateful.

Every Picture Tells A Story

See the couple above? Do they look in love with that baby?
See the couple below? Do they look in love with that baby?

Something is not right here. Something is just not right.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Bath Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Do you see that woman in the picture? If you study her carefully, you will be able to ascertain certain things about her. There are hints there, some subtle and some less so.

First off, as you can see, she is wearing her big, white, comfortable linen shirt which is excellent at absorbing perspiration and is supposed to be wrinkled, thus negating the necessity for ironing. She wears this shirt when she needs to feel comforted and when she is afraid she might sweat profusely. This shirt has good connotations for the woman in the picture. Once she wore it to get coffee with her friend Billy and being a fool, she began to sip her coffee, not realizing the top was not on properly until Billy pointed out that the entire front of her shirt was drenched in dark, damp, caffeine goodness. And she loves Billy so much that her foolishness did not extend to embarrassment because Billy knows what a clumsy being she is and loves her anyway.

She had to wash the shirt at least five times with bleach and Oxyclean to completely remove the coffee stain and thus, it has become even more valuable to her. It is a shirt with a story, a history, and every time she wears it, she knows she is vulnerable, a goof, and yet loved.

So there is that.

Do you see the stringy flatness of her hair? That is because it is wet. She has just washed it and it is clean. What you can't see is that she has washed her entire body too, and shaved her legs. She has applied lotion (with SPF 15 because she is smart that way) and she has even put on lipstick.

Study the small details. The woman is wearing a necklace with a heart her husband gave her on their wedding day, as well as a Virgin of Guadalupe charm that her daughter gave her. She is also wearing, on the lapel of the big white shirt, a red rhinestone heart pin belonging to her dear Lis. These pieces of jewelry are totemic and they represent love and supernatural powers of protection.

Now. On to the body language and facial expression. The woman appears to be...perturbed. Her fingers are pointing to her temples as if she is miming shooting herself, or perhaps pointing out something that has gone wrong with her brain.

What is this woman's story?

Why is she wearing lipstick and her comforting garment and her totemic, protective jewelry? Why did she wash her hair and shave her legs and why is she so confused?

Because she thought she had a doctor's appointment this morning at ten. But no, upon checking the appointment card in her wallet before she left, she realized she has a doctor's appointment at ten on the first Thursday of the TENTH month, which means October here in the United States of America in 2008.

The woman feels at once foolish and relieved.
Also filled with the anxiety that has been rising in her blood and brain since yesterday when she realized that the comet would probably not be hitting the earth and destroying all life forms before the appointment time, meaning she would have to actually go to the doctor, get weighed, have her blood pressure checked, undress, put on the GOWN, wait on the paper-covered table for the nurse practitioner to come into the room, discuss current concerns, lie down upon the paper-covered table and allow the nurse practitioner to do rather unspeakable things to her person. Some of them involving metal instruments. Some of them involving little scrapey things. Some of them involving touching her in ways she'd rather not be touched by anyone except for perhaps Mr. Moon.

Is this too much information?

Not for you women. You know what I'm talking about.

When the woman saw the NP three weeks ago, she noted that it had been two years since her last Pap and Pelvic.

"NO!" the woman cried. "It's only been one year."
"It says right here," the nurse said, studying the woman's chart through her glasses, "it was in 2006."
"How can that be?" the woman wailed.

And the appointment was made to rectify this situation.

And the woman thought that appointment was for today.

So here is a woman. All clean from her head to her toes, from stem to stern. She is wearing her going-to-the-doctor clothes. She is wearing her help-me-get-through-this-with-grace jewelry.
She is all dressed up.
She has no where to go.
Her mind is failing her but she already knew that.
She is calming down.
She is thinking that comet has an entire month to hit the earth.

She is thinking she might go to the mall.

Why not? She is already wearing lipstick and she is very, very clean.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Change We Can Agree On

As I have said before, we do have seasons here in North Florida. Of course, they cannot compare in contrast to a place like Vermont or Minnesota, they are far more subtle, but we have them.

Yesterday was so hot and so humid I felt as if I might grow gills, or at least I would have wished to grow some as breathing underwater is not what humans do best and with the humidity up around the nineties, it feels like being underwater. Gravity pulls so much harder during my walks when the weather is like that. Each foot weighs a hundred pounds and the rest of me is like a sandbag I'm trying to drag around. One of the ways I deal with such heat and humidity is by just throwing myself into it. I walk, I pick up garbage, I go out into the garden and pull weeds which is back-breaking, sweaty, nasty work.

Add up the heat and the ants, the dirt, the work, and the mosquitoes (which after the storm are bigger and blacker and more persistent than I have ever seen), and yard work becomes a sort of hell but perhaps one I need. I feel cleansed afterwards, when I've washed the dirt and sweat from my body and drink a glass of water. Perhaps it goes beyond cleansing and into the realm of purifying, that sort of work in that sort of heat.

But really, how much purifying does one person need? My sins are not that great.

And then today, I woke up to find a slightly different world. It's far less humid and even though it's one-thirty in the afternoon, it's not even ninety degrees.

In other words, it feels like a hint of fall is in the air.

It's funny how the seasons' changes can bring memories to the fore, like Proust's bite of madeleine. Fall is the season my husband and I have often traveled to Cozumel, Mexico, and I believe I've talked about how this time of year I'll suddenly have a clear vision of being there. The way the sidewalk feels under my feet, the way the water looks and how I struggle to come up with the words to describe its blues, it's greens, its lavenders and teals. How the air feels, soft and warm, and how it smells of garlic and grilling meat at night. How the mopeds sound as they zip down the palm-lined streets, how lovers sit on the bench at the sea wall and talk quietly for hours, their arms around each other.

It amazes me how quickly and easily I am transported there simply by this most subtle change of air with a promise of fall on its breezy breath.

And here we are, in the first days of September, tropical storms lined up in the Atlantic in alphabetical order and yet, the air has a new quality today, the slightest shift in its temperature, a difference in the way it holds water.

We have plenty of holy-hot days ahead of us, but we have been given the sign that relief is on its way. It will come.

And our minds can go to wherever it is that this shift takes us, to Cozumel or out west where the trees reach so far into the sky that only the gods could imagine their tops, or to a wedding day in late October, 24 years ago, or to a birth in late September where the sky was so blue and clear and it was so cool that I could labor with all the windows open and there is relief in all of that, too.

Humans need change. All sorts.
And we are given them, bidden and unbidden.

Here in North Florida where we have sweated and dragged our sandbag-heavy bodies around for months, this change, no matter how temporary, no matter how understated, is something we can feel and most of us rejoice in it.

We can feel our bodies lighten and with them, our spirits.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Well, I Agree On The End Times Part

I woke up this morning to find something so green and slimy on my back porch that it had to have been shat by a toad, which makes perfect sense as there is a toad who lives here. He likes the dogs' water bowl.
So I cleaned that up, the green slimy toad shit and then I took a walk and I picked up trash on Main Street, which I do at least a few times a month. I hadn't attended to this chore since before Tropical Storm Fay and there was a lot of garbage. Beer cans, of course, beer bottles, Gator-Aid bottles, water bottles, candy wrappers, coffee cups, McDonald's sacks. Etc. I am convinced that people drive around in their cars, drinking things they would be frowned upon at home for drinking and eating things they would be frowned upon for eating and then throwing the evidence out the window of their vehicles.
It's a nasty job but we live in a poor county and no one else seems to want to do it and it's satisfying, hauling all that trash off and leaving the road a cleaner, prettier place.
I took a break and found a video on the internet which is fourteen minutes of Sarah Palin and the minister of her church, which is an Assembly of God denomination. Sarah was there to address some sort of graduating class and she was full of cheer and said the word cool about fifty times and she was perky and she burbled as she asked the church to pray for an Alaskan pipeline to be put in place for natural gas because she thinks God and the businesses all have to come together over this and great things come from that church where she was saved and where her family was saved and she told one guy that he was so cool, like a redheaded Sasquatch for Jesus. Yeah.
She also asked everyone to pray that God has a plan for our war in Iraq because her son was about to go there.
She ended by giving a great thank-you to the kids for dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ.
Her pastor prayed and said that he believes that it's the end times and in these end times Alaska is going to be a state of refuge for many of us down here in the lower forty-eight. "Hundreds of thousands!" he proclaimed, "Will come here for refuge!"
I am not sure what that means because I am not a person of faith but if the end times requires me to move to Alaska for refuge I'll die anyway because I cannot take cold weather. But it was a thought that seemed to cheer the crowd and Ms. Palin, the idea of hundreds of thousands moving into Alaska for refuge during the end times. Or maybe they were cheered by the idea of the end times. I do not know.
And here we go- another potential leader of our country who believes that God gives the gift of his prophecy to people, who believes that even if we can't see it, there's a plan of God's that justifies war, that God really wants Alaska to have a natural gas pipeline.
Well, maybe God does.
But I don't think so. I don't believe in an Uncle Jesus God and I don't believe that prayer to him and a faith in him trumps actual knowledge of how things work and if McCain gets elected I don't think that all the prayer in the world is going to save us from a burbly, chirpy vice-president who doesn't know squat about foreign policy or even national policy should she (God forbid) be thrust into the position of leadership.
Frankly, watching that video horrified me but what horrifies me even more is that so many Americans believe that it would be just terrific to have a vice-president or even a president just like her, because she's just like them. She's a mother, her kids have problems, she likes to fish and hunt and she's been saved.
They think it's just fine that she believes that these are the end times which will be a good thing for the economy of Alaska, that global warming is not man-made and that abstinence-is-best sex education is what we should be teaching in our schools, along with a healthy dose of Creationism.
They think it's just fine that she went into this political campaign knowing that her daughter's pregnancy was going to be not just national but international news and that it would be discovered that the father-to-be, the groom-to-be has stated on his Facebook page that he's just a fucking redneck.
Hey! We've all been THERE, right?
So let's elect her and that old toad she's running with, the one who called his wife a cunt in public.
Yeah, maybe our country will continue on down the path its been going down for the past eight years and the trash resulting from the shredding of our constitution and our liberties and the shit created from the lack of respect the world has for our country because of its insane desire to force its will on other countries with military force will continue to be flung from the windows of the government and we can have the deeply earned satisfaction of walking down the road with our trash bags and picking it all up, one little main street, one little back porch at a time.
Works for me.
How about you?

Feels Like

It's raining.
And even though more water is the last thing we need right now, it still feels like a blessing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

So I just posted that last rant and checked the lastest news to find this:


Ooh boy.

Add another stick to the home fires of what all Ms. Palin has to deal with.

Perhaps I should say, "Bless their hearts."

Blood And Water, Toil and Breastmilk

You'd think that by the age of fifty-four, a woman would be sure about how she feels concerning certain things, but as I age, I realize, as did Bob Dylan a long time ago, that the concept of life being black and white is a lie.
Sometimes it is not clear whether a thing is good or bad and sometimes that isn't the point anyway.
And what has me muddling about in the word-pond here today is something I am sort of obsessively thinking about, which is this whole Sarah Palin thing. I do not think, no matter what anyone says, that she is by any stretch of the imagination the most qualified candidate for vice president John McCain could have found.
I'm imagining he and his cronies sat around with a computer, putting in data like, "Must be female, must be right-leaning, must be Christian, must be...hot!" and the name Sarah Palin came out.
"Boys! I think we've found our gal!" they said when her picture showed up on the screen.
"Yeah," I can hear McCain saying. "I think I met her once. Smart little filly! She'll be great!"
I'm hearing Republicans trying to rationalize the decision to choose her by saying things like, she's media savvy (well, so is Paris Hilton), she's real (and all the rest of us are imaginary?), she's had executive experience (so has the president of any business) and they really like the fact that she's such a strong pro-family supporter and right-to-lifer who not only talked-the-talk, but walked-the-walk when she decided not to abort her Down's syndrome baby.
And this is what's really shaking me up and making me wonder what I really do believe.
Because I have always truly believed that a women are as capable as men in almost any situation. We're hopeless when it comes to sperm donation and personally, when there's a dead or injured animal in the house I want a man around to deal with it, but that's because of my own personal weakness and not really a gender issue.
I even wrote a post last December saying I thought it would be a good thing to let the midwives of the world take charge and try to figure out the problems plaguing humanity here in the twenty-first century. And I meant it. I wasn't being facetious or sarcastic, I truly meant it.
So what's my problem with watching Sarah Palin running for vice-president?
It's the fact that she has a four-month old baby.
Does that make me incredibly politically incorrect?
I think it does and I shudder at the thought.
But dammit! She does. She has a four-month old baby and any woman who has given birth, whether she goes back to work or stays home with that child, can tell you that having a baby of that age (not to mention one with special needs) is a full time job. Throw in four other kids and the job of running the state of Alaska and frankly, I don't know how she does it.
And NOW she's on the campaign trail, 24/7?
I've read that she doesn't sleep much and I am sure that's true, whether she's wired not to need as much sleep as the rest of us or not.
But the woman is forty-four years old, which is young for a vice-presidential candidate but old for a mother. I had my first child at the age of 21 and the fourth at the age of 34 and let me tell you- there was a huge difference in the amount of time it took me to get my energy back, my mind together enough to get the laundry done and the kids all where they needed to be and dinner on the table.
Of course, I did it all by myself, which is what most women have to do. I suppose that if you have round-the-clock child care, which Ms. Palin ABSOLUTELY must have, then it's not quite as difficult to get back into the power suit and run the world.
But this is my point- it's so damn easy to be pro-family and pro-life (Ms. Palin doesn't even believe in abortion when the pregnancy is the product of rape or incest) when you have health insurance, child care, and someone else to run the house. Obviously, you can give birth, jump up, ignore the post-partum bleeding and breast milk leaks and get your ass back to work in three days. I suppose.
But if you're a single woman trying to support the kids you already have with a low-paying job that doesn't offer paid maternity care, or a very young woman with no ability to support yourself and your baby, it's a completely different situation when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy.
And, this is the part that's hard for me to admit, but I think that every baby deserves his or her mother's attention and care for at least a year. Even if the mother has to go back to work, she can be there at night for the child. She can be there on weekends. The child can be in childcare or home with Dad or a relative while Mom's at work, but a baby needs a mom and her love and her time and her attention.
I'm sorry. That's just how I see it.
And I know I feel this way because I was perhaps obsessively attached to my babies. When they were four months old, I never even went to the grocery store without them. I just could not let them out of my sight. When they were four months old, I was still nursing them approximately eighteen times a day. And six times a night. I was bleary-eyed, exhausted, still extremely chunky around the middle and my ass was as big as it was tired. But it was okay because I wanted those babies desperately and I loved being around them and I wanted to be the very best mother for them that I could be.
Bonded? You could not have separated me and one of my babies with a stick of dynamite.
Which is extreme. But not abnormal.
I think it is, however, abnormal to give birth to a baby and then go off to campaign for a job that you're not in any way, shape, or form, qualified for.
And maybe this isn't my business. I'm sure it isn't. But it strikes me as being...weird.
Just as it strikes me as weird that after Ms. Palin's amniotic fluid began to leak in her thirty-fifth week of pregnancy, she remained in Texas where she was, gave a speech, flew eight hours back to Alaska, and then drove fifty miles to the small hospital in her hometown to give birth when it would have been far more appropriate to give birth in a hospital more prepared for a premature delivery with the risk of infection from a ruptured amniotic sac.
Something is just not right about all of this.
And you can damn well believe that if Obama had chosen a female running mate with a four-month old baby the Republican Christian All-About-The-Family-Right would have been slicing into her with every knife at their disposal.
Instead, they're shaking their heads in private and in public are saying things like, "She's just like me!"
As if I, or even you, is qualified to run the country.
I know I'm not. And being a mother didn't make me one. Being a mother made me qualified to be...a mother.
One who did not leave her infant in the care of others, who made huge sacrifices in order not to do that, and whose family supported her in making that decision and making it possible.
I know that not every mother wants to be a stay-at-home mother. I understand that. And it's okay and not always even remotely possible anyway. But every mother worth her salt wants to do the very best for the children she's chosen to bring into the world.
But how in the world is it possible to do that AND run for the office of vice-president?
I don't know. Maybe I'm completely off base here.
Call me out if you want. Maybe I need educating on this point.
I, like Bob Dylan, have a pathway ruled by confusion boats.
Especially when it comes to mothering.
Tell me what you think.
Because maybe it would be insane for Ms. Palin to give up the chance to be vice president of the United States simply because she has an infant at home. That seems mighty unfair.
To her, yes.
But to the baby?
I don't know.
I just do not know.