Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Embarrassment of Riches

Mr. Moon went out hunting this morning and I went out gathering.

Although it's seventy-something degrees here, it's overcast and the wind is blowing. The windchimes are playing music all over the place and the magnolia tree's stiff, glossy leaves are making a rattling music of their own.

And it's supposed to get back down into the twenties by tomorrow night.

Ah well.

Last night, when we went out on the front porch to have our Friday happy hour drink, I noticed that the Sea Foam Camellia, which I transplanted here from the last place I lived, was FULL of flowers. Unbelievable.

So this morning I went out and cut them all because they're going to be brown and dead and hanging from their bush-mother in forty-eight hours if I don't. Now they're gracing my hallway, along with a few pink ones from the back yard. I do not know their name and I feel shame at that. What kind of an old Southern Lady Gardener am I if I don't even know the names of my camellias?

Not a very good one. Not a BONA FIDE one, I'll tell you that. Did you know that bona fide is two words? I didn't either. But I see by the dictionary that it is, and it comes from the Latin meaning, "in good faith."

For my favorite useage ever of the word(s) bona fide please check out the following:

And, to get us back to camellias, I give you this:

It's Saturday, the wind is blowing a coldness our way, the camellias are posing in their petticoats in my house. A train is going by, scattering the birds with its sound, and I am happy.

Oh. Mr. Moon was as successful in his hunting as I was in my gathering and brought home meat.

Children, that man is bona fide.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Damn Those Men In The Basement

You know, I think of this blog as more of a place for me to put my writing than I do as an actual web log.

Sure. I write about my life and my family and what's going on with us but I like to imagine that what I'm mostly doing is writing essays. Little bitty tiny essays that might start out with the weather or the dogs and then end up being about something so much bigger.

Or sometimes, it goes the other way. I start out big and end up tiny.

But the truth is, when I sit down to write, I rarely have any idea what I'm going to say.
Stephen King, in his excellent book about writing (which is titled, remarkably, On Writing) says that it's the "men in the basement" who do all the work while we're sleeping or thinking about what to cook for dinner and then, when we sit down, all of their work spills out on the page.

Some days, those men in the basement have been down there sweatin' their manly asses off and those are the days when things just drop into my lap and I congratulate myself on having some sort of magic, some sort of juju to share.

Then there are other days when the men in the basement have obviously been lying in the hammock drinking beer and watching reruns of The Brady Bunch because there seems to be nothing in the hopper whatsoever and today, well, today is one of those days.

Blame the men in the basement and for god's sake, quit buying them beer and TURN OFF THAT DAMN TELEVISION!

I have neither personal stuff to talk about (or that I care to talk about) nor any great, grand things to say about the world or humankind.

I was thinking about doing a things-that-annoy-the-piss-out-of-me post but hell, with temperatures in the seventies, and the azaleas beginning to bloom, how much can you really get annoyed at?
Okay. Here's one thing: Packaging.
And that's enough about that.

And Lord knows I've already discussed spring enough and it's not even really spring yet so I need to save something for when it really is.

I would talk about the bar but there seems to be a Plan B going into effect and I don't want to discuss it quite yet because, well, it's not set in stone.

And so, since nothing is poking my brain or heart or soul enough right now to make me want to go into great poetic detail about it, I'll give you that photo above which is a picture of a type of clover that grows here all on its own which I think is actually called four-leafed pink sorrel. Little Harley came over this week and I introduced him to it because children love to eat the blossoms. My own kids did and called it "sour flower" because it has a slightly sour candy taste. Harley agreed that it was delicious and ate a handful. Sometimes I try to pull it up but sometimes I just let it go. They actually sell it down at the Native Nurseries so I guess it's a "legitimate" plant and besides, it's the only thing that'll grow under the magnolias.

Besides, it's pretty.

And here's an azalea from the front yard:

All the pink things seem to be blooming now. The white ones can't be far behind.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll take off all my clothes and go roll in the nice warm dirt in the sun because it's supposed to start storming with hail by tomorrow and then be down in the thirties again by Monday and I'd like to soak up some Vitamin D and happiness before it all disappears again.

The men in the basement and I will be back soon. Until then, happy Friday, y'all.

If I'd known you were coming, I'd have baked a cake.

But here- try some of these sour flowers. Tasty, huh?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Is Coming; I Might Need Chickens

I swear, the air is so soft this morning and the sky is so blue I just want to go plant MYSELF in the dirt. I can feel the buds forming, I can feel the dirt warming, I can feel the planet turning, heading towards spring.
This morning, when I was still in bed, contemplating getting up and starting my day, some bird was calling a show-off song that lasted so long I couldn't figure out how he did it without taking a breath. He was like one of those monks that can chant on the inhale as well as the exhale and even to me, a creature not of his species, the message was clear- I am a bird of unnatural and supernatural abilities. Do not mess with me unless you come to mate! And if you come to mate, I will give you the finest of babies, the strongest and most beautiful of babies and I will protect you and I will help you feed and nurture them and our nest will be the showplace of all the county!
Hey. I was impressed.
When I went over to Kathleen's house last week we went to visit her chickens. She has a tidy coop where they live and they all have names and it's a cozy world of a harem- one rooster and four or five hens and yes, a bunny rabbit lives with them, too.
But it was the chickens I adored. They were so glossy and proud and as we stood there, eggs started appearing in Kathleen's hand like magic. Such clean, brown eggs, one, two, three, and I came home and told Mr. Moon that I, too, would like chickens.
We know nothing about chickens. I had a hen once, and a rooster too but that damn hen never laid one egg and the rooster annoyed the snot out of me as his pen was right outside my bedroom window.
Nowadays I love the sound of chickens and roosters. Our next door neighbor has a coop-full and they peck and cluck and the roosters crow on and off all day long. It would be nice to have a few fat hens of our own and a rooster to protect them, I think. I could throw all my kitchen scraps out to them and also the weeds I pull. That darn Betony I spend my life pulling up should be good for something. And of course, I grew up watching Lassie where Timmy's mother was always to be found throwing feed to her chickens and I, too, would like to wear a nice gingham shirtdress and an apron, a bowl in my hands, scattering corn to a flock of happy birds.
Mr. Moon liked the idea a lot. He's wanted chickens for a long time and I've been the one that resisted the idea because- well- one more set of critters I would need to take care of. They need water and food, of course, and fresh hay in their coop and then the old hay has to be forked up and taken out. But I think I'm ready.
We don't even eat that many eggs, but I have four children and they all eat eggs. The egg is not only the perfect food, it is the perfect shape, and it was the image of those warm eggs appearing in Kathleen's hand that I keep going back to. A hand full of chicken eggs seems to me to be some sort of perfection and perfect symbiosis between bird and woman.
I am considering the proposition. I am wondering if it's only spring talking to me, trying to lull me into the idea that I need chickens to create eggs to fulfill some sort of pagan yearning.
Or is it the fact that as we grow older, we become more and more fascinated with birds in general? Or perhaps those black-and-white images of Timmy's mother, the birds clustering around her feet to get at the food she's scattering?
Or is it just the way Kathleen's palm looked as she cradled those eggs her hens seemed to give up so joyfully?
I don't know. We shall see. Mr. Moon has a lot on his plate, so to speak, already and although he says he could build a coop in a day (and I think he probably could), I'm sure it will end up being more work than I imagined.
But maybe not. Maybe it would be a lovely thing. I'd feed them scraps and chicken chow and they'd give me eggs and gentle clucking and their poop for the garden.
I can see the rooster in my mind, strutting and rutting, calling out like that bird I heard this morning to say, "This is mine, this is mine, all you fine girls get in line."
Spring. It'll do crazy things to your head whether you're a wild bird, a domestic bird, or a woman contemplating birds of her own.
I'll let you know.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Love Letter

Dear President Obama,
I watched you make your speech on the television last night, curled up on the bed with my youngest daughter and several of the dogs and I just, well, I just want to say that I think I might actually be in love with you.
Now don't worry. I'm not a crazy stalker or anything like that woman in Fatal Attraction (just the idea of boiling a bunny makes me think about how much trouble it would be to clean all the fur out of a pot, you know?) so I don't want you to to report me or give my name to the FBI or the CIA or the Secret Service or any of those governmental departments. I am not insane (on most days, not since I started taking the medication) and I am the happily married mother of four and besides that, I am no match for your wife in the areas of beauty, age brains or any other area for that matter (although let me ask you- how good of a cook is she?) and really, I have a tiny crush on her too. Did you see the way she hugged that little girl who wrote the Congress a letter about her school? I about died when she did that and that little girl was so obviously scared and shy and her eyes were as wide as saucers- the big kind you serve cake on, not the tiny kind you put under a teacup- but Michelle just held her hand and then hugged her up tight, both of them wearing shades of purple (was that planned?) and it was the sweetest thing I ever saw.
And I can tell, even from far away and when you're on the TV and I'm here in my living room, that you and Michelle are one hot couple and that's another thing that I love about you both- you don't seem to have forgotten what's important which is each other and your darling girls and I could go on about them all day, but really, I think you know what I'm saying, which is that your love for your family seems real, real, real and not fake like some of those politicians whose wives and children appear to me to be part of their political ambitions and tools like, oh maybe a really good briefcase or a good head of white hair.
But enough about all of that.
What I really love about you is the way you talk. You speak English so beautifully. I'm not going to mention any names of any former presidents (okay, the initials would be GWB, I don't even want to write out his whole name) but some of them (and I think you know who I'm talking about, don't you? Do I need to draw a picture? I don't think so but if I did, he would look like a monkey, only not quite as smart) made me feel positively sick to my stomach when they opened their mouths like the way you feel when you've been to the fair and have eaten some fried dough with sugar on it and a barbecued sandwich and a Polish sausage and maybe a fried Twinkie too, and oh, yes, then some kettle corn and THEN someone asks you if you'd like an ice cream sundae.
Yes. That is how George Bush (whoops!) made me feel every time he opened his mouth but when you speak, President Obama (I just like saying that) I feel like I could fall into your eyes and your words and drown in them, so to speak. You pronounce your words correctly and you use words that don't insult the intelligence of a four-year old and I just beg you to say nuclear because you actually do know how to say it and that just thrills me.
I mean, nuclear is a word that represents a lot of really, really big stuff, whether you are talking about energy or bombs and it worries the heck out of me when the president can't even say the word right because if he can't, how can he possibly understand the concepts behind it?
This is going on for far longer than I had thought it would.
But I can't help it. There's just so much to love about you. That tie you wore last night, for instance. It was red and white striped, like the flag behind you, but on the diagonal like a candy cane and...okay. I won't say any more about that. Clothes do not make the man but the man does make the clothes and you make clothes look fine. As does your wife, might I add.
And it's not just how you say things, but what you say. For instance, you talked about how the cost of war should be known and how we HAVE to get this health care thing straightened out and how parents need to understand that education begins AT HOME and how we can't bow to despair (I don't know if you said that or I just made it up, but it sounds good, doesn't it? you might want to use that sometime and I give you my permission) and how education has to be important and how all kids should stay and graduate high school and how we are not going to torture people and that you want to close down that prison in Cuba and almost everything you said made me feel like "Golly. At last someone is in charge who knows what the fuck they're talking about." Excuse me for using that word, but really, sometimes it's the only one that will do.
I swear, you couldn't have made me any happier unless you'd looked directly at the camera and said, "And, Mary Moon, you will be able to eat all the bacon you want without any weight gain or adverse health effects."
Well, that and if you'd said something about how ridiculous it is that we don't allow gay people to get married or serve in the military. I mean, really, come on. It's time to get our heads out of our butts on that issue.
Well, that's just my opinion.
So I guess I'll wrap this up now. I know you're a busy man and you have lots of things to attend to and I don't want you taking up any family time with unimportant things like love letters from fifty-four year old housewives, but I just wanted you to know that so far, I think you're doing a great job and please keep it up and don't dye your hair because I like how that gray is coming in and oh yes, one more thing.
Dang. You're handsome.
All right.
And I won't end this with LOVE because that's a mighty powerful word, but I guess I started it with love and this is a love letter but I don't want you to get the wrong idea.
So I'll just end it like this and please know I mean it from the bottom of my heart:
Gratefully and sincerely yours....Ms. Mary Moon (Who is thinking she's sort of proud to be an American for the first time ever in her life and thank-you for that, too.)
P.S. If you ever want me to come up to Washington and help you in any way, such as planning a garden or cooking delicious food for you and your family, please do not hesitate to call me. I will even pay for my own gas to get up there.
P.P.S. Your mama and your grandmama would be so proud of you that if they were alive, they would probably just die. That didn't come out right but really, if there is a heaven, they are the proudest people there. I can just see them, dancing on golden high-heels and snapping their fingers and hugging each other and besides that, there are a lot of mothers and grandmothers and aunties right here on earth who are doing the same thing- you just make us all so proud.
P.P.P.S. I had a dream about you last night and you were just as cute in the dream as you are in real life. Don't worry. It was not a perverted dream in any way. We were just chatting. I swear.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Day I Saw Jesus

When I was a small child and lived in Roseland I saw Jesus Christ driving a tractor down the road one day, followed by children and dogs.
I swear.
He was a dark-haired man and his hair and beard were so long that the only thing I had to compare him to were pictures of Jesus Christ I'd seen in the Bible. This was in the early sixties and men did not have long hair. Never. Ever. I mean, when the Beatles arrived on the scene, years later, they almost brought the world to a complete stop with their collar-brushing locks, but this man on the tractor had hair down past his shoulders and his beard never stopped.
It had to be Jesus.
I ran screaming into the house for my mother. My religious knowledge was slim but I was quite certain that the appearance of Jesus was a sign of some great importance and I needed an adult to be aware of the situation.
Turned out it wasn't Jesus at all. It was a man named Chester who had lived in the woods in a shack he'd built since he'd been (as the story went) a child.
My fears were calmed but I remained fascinated with Chester. He lived alone with his dog and I saw him off and on throughout the years when he'd come to "town" to buy Cokes and Moonpies to supplement his diet which was probably heavily fish and squirrel-based. My grandfather hired him once to clean up the construction site after he'd had our house built and I watched Chester share his soda and Moonpie with his dog. A sip for him, a sip for the dog. A bite for him, a bite for the dog. I'd never seen a dog drink from a bottle. I didn't know they could.
Sometimes Chester would come to the door with a big bundle of turnip greens to sell. Granny always bought them and I always felt as if we'd been visited by a celebrity. He was just so odd, so different from anyone I'd ever seen, much less met. I don't think I ever talked to him. I was too afraid. I didn't really like the turnip greens so much, cooked with the peeled and diced white turnips, but I ate them because Chester had grown them. They were a sort of holy food, grown by a Jesus man who walked or drove a tractor down the dirt roads of the tiny village where I lived, trailed by dogs and children, always barefoot.
I still think about Chester now and then, especially when I cook turnips, which I now like a lot. I grow them myself and I wonder what ever happened to Chester. Joy Holtzclaw, the proprietor of the tiny story where Chester bought his Moonpies and we kids bought our popsickles, said that he'd moved to South America because Roseland had gotten too big with too many people and that he'd died of starvation.
This did not seem likely for a man who'd lived off the land his entire life, but perhaps it's true. Looking back, it seems likely he suffered from some mental illness, schizophrenia, perhaps. He did not need people and he did not like them, I think, preferring the company of his dog, the sounds of the woods and the wind to the sound of human voices.
To me, a child then, he was a most romantic figure, resembling someone who had lived long, long before. If not Jesus, then some contemporary of Jesus. I really had no real frame of reference besides what I saw in the Bible or the art book my mother had with famous paintings from the old masters.
And I'm not sure why I'm thinking of Chester today, but I am. Perhaps it's because I made some soup last night with turnips and their greens in it. It was good soup.
But perhaps I'm thinking about Chester because I, too, so often feel outside of society, a loner, someone who never has fit in and doesn't know whether she wants to or not, but who seems to have lost whatever skills she may have had in order to do that. To be a member of a club, a part of a cause, a regular human with a regular haircut, regular clothes, a job, a mission, a purpose beyond scratching something out of the dirt (or scratching words out of the air) always yearning for something...what?
I don't want to be Chester, as fascinating as he was.
I know I need to stay engaged. I need to be part of my community (what community is that?) and I need to step outside of myself and not to run away to parts unknown where I might find myself without the knowledge to keep myself alive. No man is an island; no woman is either and even Thoreau didn't hang out at that pond for too long.
And I wish I had something funny to end with here today, something that would say, "Hey! Just kidding! I'm not really crazy."
And I don't think I'm really crazy. I was last year for awhile but now I'm just a little bit crazy. I don't hear voices. I am not walking around in a panic.
I'm just wondering how to slip back into society now that I don't have children around to force me into it. Kids will keep you engaged whether it's with other mothers at karate or with the folks at the PTA.
I have play rehearsal tonight and that's good. I'm going to take Kathleen some turnips. I'm going to remember I do have friends and that occasionally I do leave my tiny circle of safeness to be a part of something else.
That will be good.
Because some days (today, for instance) I feel like I know a little too well what happened to Chester. He didn't die from a lack of food. He died, I think, starving for what we all need, which is to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to love others and to be loved by others.
Which is perhaps, what Jesus was saying, although if so, that message got a bit twisted over the years.
And that's it. I have no sweet ending, I have no wit or wisdom. Just that sometimes you think you see Jesus but really, it's just a crazy man who is afraid of people who eventually dies from loneliness.
Which is a message worth thinking about, even if it didn't come from Jesus but from Chester, who grew turnip greens and lived alone.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hmmm. From Shit To Shining Stars

So okay, it's Monday and when I got out of bed the first thing I did was to step in dogshit. Okay.

Clean it up. Shit happens.

Then I came out to the dining room to find more poop.
Then, oh dear god, THEN, I went into the hallway to find oh, about an apple bushel full of dog poop. Not in an apple bushel, mind you, but approximately that amount.
Last night our boxer dog had been obviously distressed, whining, crying, wanting to sit in our laps.

I think she feels better now.

Sometimes, you just gotta get it out.

Metaphorically as well as poopily.

But then, after I had cleaned up all the poop and life was again a clean slate smelling nicely of Fabuloso, I opened my laptop and what did I find in my google reader?
Not poop, I'll tell you that.
No. Miss Maybelle had posted a new piece on her blog and listen- it made my heart stop with pride. Whoa. That girl.
I am speechless. Once again she has rendered me speechless.

And Miss HoneyLuna has been posting poems which she is writing for a class but you know what? I am so glad she's taking this class because that girl- well, that girl can write a poem and really, what can't that girl do? When HoneyLuna was a little bitty child it became apparent that she had a severe reading disability which just shocked the hell out of me because for me and all the rest of the kids, reading had come to us as easily as breathing. DownTownGuy taught himself to read at the age of three. Miss Maybelle stressed herself out temendously because she didn't learn to read until kindergarten. And I don't remember when Lily learned to read but it mustn't have been too traumatic or I would have remembered. But HoneyLuna REALLY couldn't learn to read. And if she'd been another sort of person, she probably still wouldn't really be able to but because she IS the sort of person she is, she took advantage of the amazing teachers she had in school and despite the frustration and overwhelming difficulty of the task, she not only learned to read, but now she's one hell of a writer, too.

Then there's DownTownGuy who posts occasionally at Tallyhassle and he wrote recently about a passion of his which is coming to a sort of fruition and you might want to check that out. I think he blogs in about fifteen different places but this is the one he tells his mama about.
More, please, DTG.

And I should mention (for those of you who have no idea of what I'm talking about) that Miss Maybelle, Miss HoneyLuna and DownTownGuy are my kids. I have one more child and she does not blog. I don't know why.
But she is doing something rather important these days which is creating an entire human being in her uterus as we speak!

So. That's the news today from Lake Lloydbegone where all the men are good looking, all the women are strong, and almost all the children have their own blog.

And where all the dogs obviously need a change in diet.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Do You Think?

New breasts or amazing bra?
Curious minds want to know.

Things That Last

God, I hate them.
No real mystery here. Sunday was the day my stepfather would manage to creep his evil on me. Usually while my mother cooked breakfast. I was nine, he was her newly-wed groom. Tall, dark, handsome, smart as a whip. He married my mother whose sorrow had been clinical for years, he took her out of her darkness, briefly. He plunged me into mine, and so far, forty-something years later, it persists.
The touching, the breathing, the confusion and fear while Mother called out from the kitchen- How many eggs do you want?
Once, he called back from where he was holding me, A dozen, and she, not-knowing, maybe knowing something, grew angry and cooked him twelve eggs.
He ate them, too.
Then church, usually. And then a family outing to the beach, or out on the boat. Me and my little brother, my mother and her husband- ah, didn't we look happy? Didn't we look normal? The handsome, newly married couple, the cute dorky kids with their glasses and funny teeth? Didn't he look proud as he showed us how to fish (my brother and I almost laughed our asses off once when he get finned by a catfish- we'd known for years how not to let that happen), as he drove his boat through the briny waters of the river, a place which for me had been a sort of perfection, a twisting brown river with islands of jungle where I was certain Tarzan might still live, where pirates may have buried treasure, where I had played as an innocent child, learning about god from the sunsets, the trees, the wind, the river floating lazily beneath me as I laid on my belly on the sun-bleached wood of the dock, watching it flow from somewhere to the ocean and back again. Manatees slowly raising their giant heads and bodies, mullet jumping, the fins of sharks, the herons fishing patiently on one leg in the shallow low-tide.
All of that had been my savior and I had needed saving, my child-heart already bloodied from the loss of a father, the loss of a mother who, although physically present, had spent most of my life in some sort of nether world of such darkness that I knew, even then, I did not want to ever taste.
The river had been there, though. The jungle, too. And my great, open child-mind had risen like the egrets, flying high with the power of the water and the sky and the lovely, shadowy creatures above and below the water.
And then he came and tried to show me what I already knew and then he showed me things I should not have seen and my heart and soul plunged into a different reality, one that was a reality of lonely fear, of perfect panic.
Sundays. He ruined those, for sure.
But the jungle and the river- he didn't ruin those. He couldn't.
And here's the crazy thing- they're still there. Just as I remember and it is with something like religious fervor that I return to them when I can. Even crazier- I hardly think of him at all when I am there. The river was there before he came. It is still there and it is just as if he'd never even laid eyes on it, much less touched it in any way.
Oh, how I wish I could say the same about me.
Every day I wish that, but Sundays most of all.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It Froze Again Last Night (And The Wedding March Was Halted One More Time)

Spring is coming in this year like some crazy, clumsy bride
Who has not planned her wedding well at all
The music starts and all the guests stand and turn to gaze
To look into the face of joy and promise
Only to see the bride trip upon the hem of her gown
And tear her lace and retreat again to the back of the church
And everyone sits down with a tiny sigh
(And pulls their coats, their sweaters, their shawls back around their shoulders
Because all of a sudden, there is such a chill)
And patiently waits
Until again, the organist pumps those wheezy bellows
And the sharp clear notes of the wedding march
Sound again, ringing through the room
And again we stand and turn to look
Surely, this time, there will be a bride
And yes, there she is, her lace repaired
The prettiest purple toe of her satin slipper showing beneath
Her gown of green
But wait!
She trips and we all
Hold our breath
(Will she fall?)
And she catches herself but she has scuffed her pretty shoe

She retreats again and we all sit
And the organist goes into some blues thing
(While we turn up the heat and go through the seed catalog one more time)
Meanwhile the birds don't care. They are not discouraged
The woodpecker is knocking himself into dizziness
On the tree outside
And the doves and cardinals and sparrows and wrens
Fight for their rights at the feeder
And the squirrels do death-defying leaps
From bare pecan to bare cherry laurel

And here comes the wedding march again
And oh yes, this time, I can see the pink froth slip
Of the bride, silk and satin beneath her skirt
Come on, honey.
We're all so ready.
We want to take off our wrappings
We want to dance at your wedding
With wild abandon,
Our old, stiff legs twitch in anticipation
Of the steps they'll do
The twirls
They'll take
The groom is waiting
The caterers are having a hard time keeping the crab dip warm
The photographer is standing with his finger on the button
We all want to hear those age-old words
Pour from your lips
Like azalea buds
Like dogwood flowers
Like perfumed air
Warm and true
Sure and sweet and
The dark earth waits
To receive its seed
While the redbud blushes
And the green leaves stay curled and tight
Until you have made up your mind
You fickle girl
You fancy female
You springlike bride
We wait because you are new
Every year
And thus,
You make us new as well
And we yearn
(Oh how we yearn!)
To dance at your wedding.

Friday, February 20, 2009

She Writes, I Write, We're The Same!

God. I'm late.

Writing my daily blog post.

What else could I be late for?

I wrote yesterday about how I still yearn to be a writer and you know what? I do know that in some ways, I am. I mean, I write all the damn time. It's just that as I said in one of the comments I have this crazy notion that until I hold a book, a real physical book with bindings and pages and words and my name on it, I'm not really a writer.

Writing the blog is such a joy that it doesn't even seem legal. How can anything that has given me as much pleasure as this be legal? I mean, except for the joy I've experienced with my family and friends this is the most fun I've ever had in my life.

Well, except for maybe that time the bass player for the Neville Brothers sent me out a backstage pass but again, that's a whole other story.

Where was I?

Oh yes. Writing.
And of course it all boils down to this- even if you write, write, write your heart out in words made of blood and rainwater, of lightening bolts and riptides, does it count if you don't get paid?

(Ooh. I had a little Carrie Bradshaw moment there. Didn't you?)

I do not know. All I know is that there is nothing for me like the putting down of words and the sending of them out. Nothing.

And quite frankly, I spend hours every day doing just that.

Perhaps this IS my medium. I think of a favorite author of mine, one who just enchants and delights me with her essays (and if you haven't read Bailey Whites's Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Sleeping At The Starlight Motel then do it. Do it! Just fucking do it!) who, when she wrote a novel, made me sort of want to find her and pat her head and her hand and say, "It's okay, honey. You don't need to write fiction. You grew up in a crazy family in a crazy town and the way you write about them is so much better than fiction that you really don't need to make things up."

Because her novel wasn't so great. Well. I loved it because she wrote it but it couldn't hold a candle to her essays.

Maybe it's like how all comedians want to act in serious roles and how serious actors want to be directors or painters or musicians or how musicians want to be actors. Sometimes the crossovers work. Sometimes they don't.

So what's the fucking difference if people go out and buy a book that I wrote or if they come here, every day by their own volition to read what I wrote?

Money. Acclaim. Stature. A physical thing I can hold in my hand.

And of course, a husband who could quit wondering why I'm always on this computer. If there was a book people could buy...well. That would be- oh what's that popular, trendy word? Not verification. Oh yes, VALIDATION.

So for all you folks who took the time to reassure me yesterday that I am a writer, all I have to say to you is, "Where do I send your check?" Because thank-you from the very bottom of my heart because that was validation right there. And to the tens and tens of you who read but do not comment- I love you too! I swear! Let's date, okay? Let's have a slumber party and tell secrets and roll our hair and do the pony to the Monkees and eat pizza and drink Cokes or if you'd rather, eat sushi and drink sake. Whatever. I just want to hang out!

So. Just to get things straight and sum it all up, the differences between me and oh, say, Carrie Bradshaw (a famous author) are:
1. She seems to get paid a lot to write while I get paid nothing.
2. She writes about sex and I do not. Generally. Because...
3. I have children who read what I write and she does not.
4. She lives in New York City, New York and I live in Lloyd, Florida.
5. She wears wonderfully whimsical and expensive clothes while I wear, uh, other stuff.
6. She is single, although it looks like she may indeed marry Mr. Big while I have been married to Mr. Big for almost 25 years.
7. She wears a bra to bed and the night I wear a bra to bed is the day you need to get those papers signed to put me in the loony bin.
8. She has a tiny waist and I don't have a waist.
9. She uses her oven to store shoes in while I use my oven to cook deer in that my husband shot.
10. She is fiction. I am real.

But besides all of that- yep, me and Carrie, we're just alike.
We both worry about deadlines and boy, am I late on mine. It may be a self-imposed deadline, but I am serious about it.

Anyway, happy Friday, y'all. Go do something you love.

I just did.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me, Myself, My Own Worst Enemy

I'm sitting in my office, plugged into dial-up because the wireless is out because we had a storm last night and although they've brought the electricity back, the wireless, no, she is stubborn.
My office is a place I love so much that I hardly ever come in here.
Make sense?
Yeah, only if you're insane.
I've come to realize lately that I have about as much hope to be "a writer" when I grow up as I do to be Miss America. Like- uh, a little late for both.

God, it's a beautiful office.

I have so many of the things I love the best in here. Pictures of Frida and Tarzan and John and Yoko and my husband and my babies and Lynn and beautiful things my children have made for me or given me and mermaids and a garden gnome and candles and Cozumel and it's just...heaven.

It's sort of like when we had a house with a pool and I hardly ever went in the pool, except maybe on weekends because pools mean vacations and life is not, my friends, a vacation.
I only come out to the office when I have the courage and self-esteem to believe in my writing and that comes so rarely these days.

I can blog anywhere but writing? That needs to be done in the office and me? A writer?

Well, anyway, blah, blah, blah and that's how I feel today. Like I'll never be a writer and like I seem to not be anything else either and I'm lost, a swirling bellyful of emotions and wires that prick and pull and make a thousand tiny cuts in my insides even though it's the most beautiful day and the Japanese magnolia is blooming and so is the redbud and the azaleas are starting to show some purple petals as well.

Sorry this is what I have to offer today. It sure isn't much.

But I'll tell you what- I'm going to make myself come out here and write. Every day. EVERY DAY, dammit. I don't care how I feel or how lousy my prose is. Because look- this is the river I've been cast into- the rushing waters of words and I swear, I need to figure out how to let go and flow with it or else bash my head on the rocks trying to figure out how to keep myself from drowning.

No one can do this for me. No one can stop me, either.
Only me.

Only me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Story Time

Did you read about that chimp who mauled the woman and had to be killed?
Well, I saw the headline and just thought, "Oh boy. Bad chimp. Had to be killed."
Didn't think another thing about it until I actually read an article about the incident in the paper and then went back and clicked on the headline in the Huffpost because in the article it said that the chimp dressed himself, was toilet trained and essentially, lived like a human.

Here's what the Huffpost article said:
At the time of the 2003 incident, police said the Herolds told them the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control, police said.

Excuse me?

Oh hell. Forget that those dumb chimps in the wild who modify twigs to fish for termites or branches to spear bush pigs.

This crazy ape was using a computer!

The chimp's owner had noticed he was agitated the day he went postal and mauled a friend of hers and so she did what any normal woman would do- she put Xanax in his tea. Obviously not enough Xanax but still. She put it in HIS TEA! What sort of tea? Earl Gray? Lemon Zinger?


Yoko Ono said once that everyone has a story to tell.
I believe that.

In this play I'm in, one of my characters and her husband are extremely interested in everyone's story. "Everyone has a story!" I say about ten times during the course of her appearance.
And it's true. We all have a story to tell. Some of us have so many that we have to create blogs to tell them all.

Yesterday I mentioned in my post that my mother had, at one time, married my father-in-law. And hell, yes, that's a story. You better believe that's a story.

Not one I'm ready to tell yet, though, because if I do, I'll have to talk about some things that I don't generally talk about here. Okay. I've mentioned that I don't have a great relationship with my mother. It's common knowledge if you know me. But that story is so long and so involved and there are so many twisted fibers of my life and my mother's life which make it up that essentially, that one little story would be the entire story of my life.

Do you know what I mean?
Or at least one of the entire stories of my life.

Suffice it to say here for now that yes, my mother married my husband's father after his mother died and so, for awhile, my husband was my step-brother and my father-in-law was my stepfather and I don't even know what my relationship with my mother would have been called.
Too odd for words most likely and yes, possibly something that could only happen in the south. I don't know. Perhaps things like this happen in Michigan all the time.

This is why obituaries are so unsatisfying.

We all seem to die after battling some disease and we all were born somewhere and we are all predeceased by someone and we all leave someone behind and in each and every tiny detail there is, of course, another story which leads to another story and on into infinity, back to the very beginning of time and there is no way to tell all of those stories which make up even one of the one stories of the recently departed.

The chimp died after his owner, a woman who referred to him as her son, stabbed him and police shot him. His name was Travis. He knew how to drive a car. He was all that woman had in the world. Her husband had died, her daughter had died. Travis was her son.
She had to kill her son.
My mother married my father-in-law.
He died.
My mother and I do not have a good relationship.
I am a fifty-four year old woman.
I am the mother of four.
I have been married twice.

In each of those simple statements, there are stories within stories within stories. Most of us don't sit around a fire at night, telling those stories. We don't even sit on the front porch with a mason jar full of tea or moonshine telling those stories as the whippoorwills call and the lightening bugs dart and flicker.

But we sit at our computers sometimes and we write them out and then we send them out. No one has to read them. But sometimes they are so divinely interesting that we must.
Because it's as much in our nature to want to hear the stories as it is to tell them.

"Did I ever tell you the story of how I met your father?"
"Yes. But tell us again."

And again we open our mouths and the story within the story begins to form and out pour the words and it's the tiny details which create the interest that fuels the story-teller, that captures the listener.

We all have a story to tell.

If you had one story to tell, what would it be? What would the bare-bones statement be that would start it off?

I know you have one. I know it's special. It's yours.

Have you told it to anyone? Is it too scary, too crazy, too embarrassing, too precious, too magical, too sad, too convoluted, too personal to tell?

Lay out the bones and then think about them. Study them and ponder them.

What is your story?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Way Of The Moon

So here it is, February 17th and it's cold as hell out there and it's clear as a bell out there and the man is off to go tear down some more walls and yesterday I finally figured out what sort of license applications we need to begin on to get this whole ball rolling and rocking and legal. I downloaded them only to discover that we don't have a working printer in this house but we've got that figured out.
Mr. Moon has been down to the city numerous times already and listen- that man does not let anything get in his way. He came home last night with white sheet-rock dusting his head and was so tired he couldn't keep his eyes open while I got dinner ready.
It reminded me of years and years ago, I think about 1989, when his daddy was building a house for him and Mr. Moon's mother. He was about sixty-five then and had spent his whole life working hard. I mean, HARD. Farming and working construction and running a gas station and a seafood operation and never once stopping to take a breath because he was too busy, supporting his family but he was always there, you know? I never met a man as gentle and generous in spirit and I think I fell in love with him before I'd let myself fall in love with his son. He was tall, about six-four, and lean and handsome and had blue eyes like Paul Newman. He and Grammy wanted to move to Florida and Mr. Moon and I bought a piece of land where they could build a house, have a garden, live out their retirement years.
Paw-Paw went to work and it was summer and he'd be out there every day in the broiling heat with a crew of guys half his age and they'd work and then wilt and he'd urge them back to it. Paw-Paw was staying with us while he was building (Grammy was still up in Tennessee) and he'd come in every evening and sit on the edge of his bed, so spent he could barely move. He'd hold a cup of coffee in those big hands of his and stare off into space while I made supper, collecting himself enough to go take a shower, get ready to eat.
Pure, down-to-the-bone exhaustion.
The house took shape and Paw-Paw sweated his way through the building of it and when it was finally finished and ready to move in, it was a glorious day. It was a sweet little country home with an upstairs with two bedrooms and a downstairs with two bedrooms (they planned on all the grandkids coming to stay) and a big eat-in kitchen and a living room and windows to watch the birds out of and a rocking chair front porch and it was all handmade and Paw-Paw's hands had touched every part of it in the building.
Grammy and the furniture came down from Tennessee and they got everything moved in and then you'd think Paw-Paw would have rested but no. He started busting up the garden area and next thing you knew he was bringing over so many tomatoes for me to can that I finally told him that if he showed up with one more basket of tomatoes I was going to flee the country. And cantaloupes and mustard greens and oh, hell, I don't know what all that man grew.
And then Grammy, who'd never been really well, got sicker and she died.
And less than a year later, Paw Paw got sick, too. Liver cancer. And then... he was gone.
And oh yes, there was that short time in between where he married my mother but that's a whole other story (as you can only imagine) but part of the whole of Paw-Paw, Mr. Moon's daddy, because he was a man who looked at a situation and threw himself into it wearing those cotton/poly coveralls over his long bones, his strong bones, with those Paul Newman eyes twinkling at you, those arms always ready to reach out to enfold you whether you were a daughter-in-law, a grandchild, a friend.
And when I see Mr. Moon throw himself into things the way he's throwing himself into the building and starting up of a sports bar, it scares me. Not because I think we'll fail in the endeavor, but because I know how he is, which is just like his daddy. He walks like him, he talks like him, he hurtles himself towards goals like him, never stopping to question if something can be done but always moving towards here's how we do it.
From tearing down walls to buying pool tables, here's how we do it.
And me? I tremble at the idea of having to figure out what to cook for supper. I feel inadequate in every way.
Paw-Paw used to have a saying and it went like this: I've done all I'm big enough to do.
And my God but he was a big man. I never did figure out anything he wasn't big enough to do.
And his son is just like him, only maybe bigger. And I don't want to watch him kill himself with the building and opening and running of this place. I know he'll be down there until two, three in the morning. I already see him, leaving for work on the run, a roll of plans under one arm, a phone, a cup of coffee, a mug of water, his lunch, his tools in the back of the truck and he's got health insurance and building codes and licenses and bar stools and washing sinks and a million other things on his mind and I feel so helpless and unhelpful and I do the laundry and I try to plan a supper and I write a blog about babies and begonias and I dawdle with this government website and that one and I call an official here and ask for information and I call an official there and it just seems so pathetic.
I should be down there, tearing down walls. I should be making lists and filling out forms and going to get fingerprinted and no. I'm going to go to the library.
I'm not even sure what I'm saying here today.
Just that some people, when confronted with a harsh reality, make a plan and then make it work, no hesitation, no questioning, just full-on-focus using every part of their brains, their bodies, their sweat and every minute of the day to make it work.
And some people never even try because everything is daunting and overwhelming and even if they're on medication they can't see the goal for the sheet-rock dust and all the black doubt in their hearts.
I don't want my husband to kill himself and yet, there is nothing in the world I could do right now to slow him down. I know him. And in a way, he's happier than he's been in a long time. He's worried, he's concerned, he's overwhelmed. But he's got a goal and a plan and he's not slowing down and he's certainly not stopping.
He's his daddy's son and he's doing all he's big enough to do. He's six-foot ten (or close enough). I have to remember that. I have to remember that hard work and many challenges make him happy and alive.
And while I tremble and quake at the idea of all the work and craziness and hurdles to jump and all the change, the change, oh my god, the change, and the risk! I have to remember that this is how things get done.
Whether I'm scared or not, this is how things get done.
And I cannot be the rock that holds him back. I have to do all I can to help him go forward.
And I'm trying.
Listen- when I met Mr. Moon, I knew in my very soul that this was a man I needed to hitch my wagon to and I did, even though it was scary because he was completely and utterly different than any man I'd ever met before.
His name was Moon. I closed my eyes and made a wish and there was the Moon, hovering over me and I opened my eyes and said, "I do."
I still do.
And I think about his daddy and the way he'd sit there with that coffee cup until he could rise and walk his slow way to the bathroom for his shower and how he'd come out, all clean and ready for supper and then whatever else he had to do, never once complaining, never once losing that smile, the sweet twinkle in his eyes.
Same as his son, same as his son.
Mr. Moon, the man I married, a man big enough to do what has to be done. Not just for him, but for me and all the family.
Thank god he's a giant. Thank god he's big enough.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Well, Hell. I Tried.

So last week in a fit of some sort, I actually applied for a job at the local hospital. Yes. I did. Online.
It was for the "family unit" which is where they put the new mommies and babies and the years of experience required were ZERO.
I figured that even I could feel uteri and help with breastfeeding and check stitches (and why is it that doctors can't deliver a baby out of a vagina without doing an episiotomy and yet midwives can?) and oh, I don't know. I could do whatever they could train a monkey to do. Right?
So I filled out the online application and I admit my "work experience" was pretty lame and thin. I did work at a birth center years ago and I assisted the midwives during births and did postpartum care and did the three day postpartum check and I listed all of that stuff but I didn't list the part where I also cleaned out the hot tub, scrubbed the toilet, took out the trash, and did all the laundry afterwards.
Maybe I should have.
Because here's the answer I got back:
Thank you for applying to the position of RN/Family Care Unit FT 7a - 7p. This email is to notify you that another candidate will be chosen for the position. If you have an interview scheduled for this position please attend that interview as there may be multiple positions within the department that are still open.
Haha! As if I'd been scheduled for an interview. No way.
And I love that part where they say "another candidate will be chosen for this position."
Like, "Uh, we don't have anyone yet but we're certainly not going to choose you. Some poor schmuck will definitely walk in off the street who will be more qualified than you appear to be. But hey, thanks for trying."
And thank God because I don't think I could work for twelve hours in a row if my life depended on it.
Mr. Moon was beside himself with joy when I told him I'd applied for a job (although he tried mightily to restrain himself and hide that joy but hell, I've known the man for twenty-six years and I could tell) and he was sorely disappointed when I told him they'd rejected me without even an interview. I mean, the way they talk about the shortage of nurses, it sounds as if any old crone with a nursing license can make sixty thousand a year WITH benefits.
I guess not, though.
Oh well. Life goes on.
And probably more safely without me being responsible for any of it.
So instead of asking questions like, "Have you moved your bowels today?" and "Are you experiencing nipple pain?" and "And how's your bleeding today?" I'll be asking questions like, "Can I get you another beer?" and "Would you like chips with that?"
And I'd love to say that I'm thrilled about that and actually, I sort of am, but then again...babies.
Oh well. Lily's going to bring a new one into my life soon and HoneyLuna has a new baby, too. Sort of.
And I'm sure the entire planet would rock on its axis if I got paid for doing anything so in a way, we're all better off without me working in a hospital.
And I was feeling really, really depressed when I started writing this but now I feel better for some reason and I think I'll go out and dig up some border grass. It's hard work but no one's going to die if I do it wrong and I won't have to wear scrubs. Or even a bra.
Now if I could only get paid to do it....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And This Is How We Really Look

Or at least how we looked last night.

I found an outfit. It wasn't bad and it showed off my legs which let me tell you something you may not know- I have great legs! Really, I am not joking. Especially when they are encased in black stockings, which they were.
I may be old and Jesus, I show it, but my legs will be the last to go.

So we got ready and we went to Kool Beanz and we waited and waited and waited and finally we got our seats at the bar and we ate oysters and shrimp and tuna and it was a Mermaid's Feast if there ever was one.

And then, instead of going home and falling asleep which is what we would normally do, we started our Billiard Hall research.

Oh Jeez.

I realized several things during this research:
1. Billiard Halls are not my favorite places.
2. Amazingly, other people seem to like Billiard Halls a lot.
3. When we open one, there will be STRANGERS THERE. People I do not know. Yes, I should have realized this already but really, I'm dense. Did I think I know enough beer drinkers to support a bar? Well. Maybe.
4. I suck, suck, SUCK at pool.
5. Internet Juke Boxes are weird.

And last but not least:

6. Doing Billiard Hall research is not a very romantic date.

"Now make sure you check the ladies' room. I'll check the men's."
Uh-huh. Okay.
Why did I bother to wear stockings?

A barely-over-the-age-of-twenty-one year-old gal stopped Mr. Moon as we were leaving one place to ask him the question EVERYONE ASKS HIM which is, "How tall are you?" This is almost always asked by women who widen their eyes and cock their heads in the most flirtatious way you can imagine whether they are eighteen or eighty-seven. Trust me on this. I've seen it happen at least four hundred times.

"Six-ten" he always says and they sigh and flutter their eyelashes. I stand there like a five-foot-four potted cactus with a patient, bemused expression on my face.

Anyway, that girl insisted, I mean insisted that we were not leaving that bar without her buying us a shot of tequila! I mean it! That was the feistiest twenty-two year old girl I ever met and I wasn't arguing with her. We drank our tequila like the good little boy and girl we were. Whoop-ay-ai, motherfuckers! I'd already been tipsy enough to tell the bartender there that his mama must really love his dimples. Hell, I probably batted my own eyes.
Oh boy. Maybe Mr. Moon was right and I shouldn't tend bar although you can bet the ranch I won't be drinking if I do.

In my defense I will say that I'm sure that boy's mama does love his dimples.

We finally ended our rounds at Halligan's at approximately 1 a.m. This is where we actually shot a game of pool and I realized just how intensely bad at pool I am.

Anyway, that was that, and I'm sure that before the this evening is over I'll be enjoying the little Valentine's Day gift that Mr. Moon brought home last night. Here's what he brought me:
Veggie chips.
Bean dip.
Wasabi peas.
And oh yes, some Kona Coffee.

Who says romance is dead?

Me. Maybe. Possibly.

But still, it's been a nice day and I have some venison backstrap in the crockpot with spices and onions and apples and I hope it's good.
I'm still wearing my silver necklace because it's mine and I can.

And let me ask you something- What do you look for in a Billiard Hall/Sports Bar? Tell me, please. Tables, yes of course. We will not be seving hard liquor. We will be making sandwiches. We might have a few video games. We might, occasionally, have a bit of musical entertainment. An older lady wearing purple eye-shadow may or may not be serving drinks and making sandwiches. We will not have an internet jukebox if I have anything to say about it.

We need a name. So far we're thinking of a few including Shoot The Moon, Big Shots, Bank Shot, and my favorite, but the one Mr. Moon will not even consider- The Bad Girls Pool Hall.
Suggestions, please.

Because really, I can't go out and research the Billiard Halls myself anymore. I can't stay up that late, I can't drink a beer at every bar. And forget the tequila.
Please. Really. I insist.

And oh yes. A very happy Valentine's Day to your and yours and if yours is you and you alone, I have this to say: Buy yourself a gift. Don't let it be Wasabi peas. Eat ALL the chocolate. Because you can.

And bless our hearts, okay? Again, I insist.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Click On The Song And Joanie Will Sing My Valentine's Song To You

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I am feeling grumpy about it.
Oh, don't get me wrong. After several severe tongue-lashings (okay, not really- after one pitiful, weeping plea, to be exact), Mr. Moon did call down to Apalach to see if any rooms were available for the weekend but of course, it being Valentine's weekend, there were not.
So instead we're going to go out to eat tonight at my favorite restaurant and then we're going to go dancing and romancing.
After dinner we'll be going to various billiard halls and sports bars to do research for the new project.
Ay-yi-yi, as they say in places where ululation is practiced, and also, be still my heart.
Well, I suppose it's better than crawling under the house, although that may happen too before the weekend is up as there is something funky going on with the electricity in the far end of the house. Frankly, I think we should hire the skinniest electrician we can find but then again, why pay someone to do something that you can do yourself?
Which brings me back to the billiard halls because it looks like this is really going to happen and it's going to be a big ol' do-it-yourself project from tearing down walls in the building to laying the tile in the bathroom. At least two or three of the children are going to be involved as well because quite frankly, they have a lot of experience in the bar biz. Some of it from one side of the bar and some of it from the other. Me? Well, I'm not sure Mr. Moon wants me working down there because, as he put it last night, "Someone will piss you off and you'll get mad and that will lead to a problem."
Oh, Mr. Moon. You know me so well.
Plus, I think he has in mind to have younger, um, tastier people working at his bar, which is probably a good idea but come on! Who wouldn't want to be served their ice-cold beer by a motherly lady with purple eye shadow who will not only listen to problems but have many suggestions as to how to deal with them?
I imagine that kick the bastard out would be a bit of advice that would be serviceable in many situations.
Also, I can instruct love-struck ladies on how to get their man:
Make biscuits.
See? I am full of good advice and I have a writerly ear which means that I actually LOVE to hear about people's problems.
And if someone pisses me off, then obviously we don't need them in our bar. Right?
So what's the problem?
I don't know.
I imagine these and many other things will be discussed tonight on our date. I am planning on wearing my silver jewelry and just saying that makes me think of Joanie Mitchell and her song, Carey, and living in Denver in 1973 and how cold and lonely I was and listening to that album over and over again, wishing I was going to the Mermaid Cafe to have fun that night. I found two silver bracelets in a little shop there and I bought them because they gave me a feeling of having discovered some part of me which had been missing and I've been wearing silver bracelets ever since, an armful of them that clink and tingle and tangle as I dance or move through the velvet darkness of a night out.
I have a new piece of silver jewelry which came most fortuitously in the mail today, bought off of ebay in a transaction arranged and pulled off by Maxine and me which should qualify us to work in the CIA or maybe that other secret organization which we don't even know the initials of. It is perfect for a Valentine's Eve outing and you can be sure it will be part of my silver tonight.

I'm just praying it's not one of those nights where I can't figure out what to wear and finally end up, a hot-flashing pathetic mess on the bedroom floor in front of the closet, crying, "I can't go out! I'll just make porridge for supper!"
No. I hope it's a little bit magical, that we'll look into each others eyes and say, "Hey. This is going to be a new adventure. Let's work hard and make it work. And by the way, have I told you how much I love you?"
And then tuna will be eaten and yes, we'll go shoot some pool and maybe somewhere we'll find a jukebox that plays something that we can dance a little dance in a dark corner to, our eyes flashing, my silver too.
Honey, get out your cane. And I'll put on my finest silver. We'll go down to the Mermaid Cafe have fun tonight.
Oh, you're a mean old daddy but you're outasite.
Sing it, Joanie. Remind us of our yearning years while we're still firmly embedded in our earning years, trying out new adventures, working hard, remembering to wear our silver.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Start With The Weather And Go From There

Miss Maybelle and I were talking the other evening about the weather. Well, we were talking about talking about the weather and how really, it is the default human topic of conversation. She said she starts her morning journaling almost every day with a description of the weather and we agreed that the weather really is an important thing to consider every day and that our ancestors really did have to think about it because who wants to go out and hunt the woolly mammoth when there's a storm coming in? I mean, it's hard enough to hunt the woolly mammoth and you really can't get a grip on your spear if it's raining and everything is wet.
And I told her that many days I start out my blog post with a description of the weather and as I write, something else will occur to me and I go on from there and it's not unusual at all to go back and delete all the weather stuff and aren't you glad I do?

But golly, the weather here is beautiful today.
It's pre-spring. The trees are all still bare and the predominant colors are still brown and gray but oh, holy shit, the air is so soft and you can just smell spring coming. The birds are going crazy and there are always tiny little finches and cardinals at the feeder and let me ask a question here- what is about getting older that makes us become fascinated with birds? Because it happens. I can remember my grandparents sitting on their porch and watching the birds at the feeder and wondering why.

I still don't know.

Mr. Moon is more fascinated by them than I. He gets out the bird book and identifies them. Me? I just look up every now and then think, "Wow. There are a lot of birds." The robins come through this time of year and when I say come through, I mean, those guys travel in packs. I'll look out to wonder why my backyard is hopping up and down and then I'll realize it's not the ground, it's a massive influx of robins, pecking away at tender treats just under the fallen leaves.
Anyway, Miss Maybelle was talking about her daddy (not Mr. Moon who is her other daddy) and how his birthday is coming up and what should she get him. I said, "Well, you know how we old people are fascinated by birds. Why don't you get him a bird feeder or something?"
Thirty years ago her daddy had two interests in life and his guitar was one of them and I'm not going to discuss the other but it wasn't birds (unless you're speaking in the British sense of the word) but I'll bet you that he loves the birds now. I'll ask him next time we talk.

The older I get, the more I like to grow begonias. Yes. Now there's a segue. Not a very successful one, either, but still a segue.

See that picture there? That's my baby. Last July, JULY FOR GODSAKE! a woman at a nursery gave me one leaf of a giant begonia and I stuck it in that pot and I kept it watered and there are now three new fully-formed leaves and two new babies. See them? Now that is the miracle of birth and patience. When I was a younger woman, I never would have had the patience to keep that pot watered and wait for new babies to arrive. I was too busy being pregnant and waiting for my human babies to arrive. But those little begonia leaves are precious to me in my older age.


Yeah. We grow, we change.

Which brings me to Bruce Springsteen. Have you heard the new album? Working On A Dream?

I have. I ordered it from Amazon along with Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care for Lily. Dr. Spock is your go-to guy for things that occur in the middle of the night when your baby is two weeks old and you haven't gotten any sleep in a month and why he is making this sound, your baby? Is it normal? Is he it normal for a baby to breathe like this???!!!

You look it up in Dr. Spock and yes, it is normal and Dr. Spock said so, so go back to sleep. All is well.

But anyway, back to Bruce and one of these days I'm going to write an entire post about Bruce but I think today I'll just slip him in here in this little slot I've created about how some things are eternal in your life and some things only become interesting as you age and I'll tell you that my favorite line in the entire new album is this one:

I had my good eye to the dark and my blind eye to the sun.

How many of us go through life like that, our good eye towards the sun, not even realizing we have a blind eye, not even realizing we're turning out backs to the light?

Birds, begonias, Bruce. Babies. Always babies.

As always, I have no answers and today I don't even have any specific questions, I'm just pondering stuff but I do believe we should all rock on.

Rock on, babies, with whatever makes your feet want to move, your hips want to shake, your arms want to reach up to the sky, makes your head want to fall back in wonder and supplication to the light.
Rock on. Let's open our eyes and realize things are getting ready to be born all around us, we might as well pay attention. Might as well learn to love new things.

We might as well dance.
The weather's beautiful.
Might as well dance.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Is How We Look

Well it happened again last night.
Mr. Moon cut his hair.
See, in order to cut costs, Mr. Moon bought some clippers to cut his own hair. His hairstyle these days can best be described as....short. And why pay someone to do what he (with my help for the back) can do by himself? Really. Makes sense.
Well, there's a guard on these clippers. And you can set it to cut the hair at a certain length. I am sure many of you are aware of this. I wasn't, but then again, I'm clueless about so many things. And the first time he went to cut his hair, he set the guard on, oh, I don't know. Four? Whatever. But then when he went to clean out the hair and reset the guard, he mistakenly left it at the default setting which is ONE.
This means he had to cut all his hair off. As in, almost shaved. Not quite, but almost.
It was a bit devastating. To him and to me. I couldn't help it but it was. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. One moment I had a husband with a full head of hair and the next minute I had a husband who was, for all intents and purposes, bald.
Now the darn thing is, every time he cuts his hair, the same thing happens. Exactly. He forgets to reset the guard at a number which would not translate to shaving his head bald.
Once in awhile, HoneyLuna will cut his hair for him and when she does, it's all good and he's not bald and she does a great job. He asked her to do this for him on Sunday when she was here but she instead offered to give him ten bucks to go get someone else to do it.
So last night he went to cut his own hair (I swear to God, I offered to help) and the same thing happened. Which means once again I have a bald-headed husband.
Oh Lord.
It doesn't even bother me now. I just sighed and said, "You should have taken HoneyLuna's ten dollars." Then I shaved his neck for him.
I really, really wish I had a picture but I just couldn't figure out how to subtly get him to pose.
"Hey honey. Come here and sit in front of the computer and let me take a picture of your handsome head!"
Once, a long, long time ago before I ever met Mr. Moon, my friend Sue and I befriended a rock band. No, no, no. We did not get THAT friendly.
Anyway, we all went to Jerry's Restaurant (remember Jerry's?) for breakfast at two a.m. and a very beautiful girl walked by with very, very short hair. I said to one of the rock band guys, "You know, I've always wanted to get my hair cut like that."
He studied me for a minute, looked at the girl again, then said, "No. You don't have the face for it."
I guess he'd already figured out he wasn't coming home with me that night. You think?
But really, he did it in such a friendly and humorous way that I was not offended at all and I told Mr. Moon the story at some point in our life together and now, when he shaves all his hair off by accident he always says the same thing.
"At least I have the face for it."
And he does.
I love that beautiful face.
And the hair will grow back.
Until then, of course, he has to wear a hat to bed because I must have the window open right above us due to the hot flashes.
Oh yes. Getting old together is a hoot and there are so many things I never considered when I stood up there on my wedding day and promised to be with him for the rest of my life.
Which is probably a good thing.
All I knew is that his heart was big enough, his shoulders were broad enough, and his arms were strong enough to keep me safe and loved.
And luckily, he has the face for baldness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Youtubin' It In (Lucky For You)

I got nothin' for you today. Nothin'. My well has run dry. No water, no shimmering pool down there in the depths of sweet, clear goodness. Just dry old dust and perhaps a murky puddle of mud.
I wish I could figure out how to post an audio clip here. My dear friend, the incredibly talented songwriter/musician/cake-baker Lis Williamson sent me a clip of a song she wrote called Paint The Town. In it she sings about a woman asking her man to take her out of the sticks where they live and into town where they can drink a martini and dance. It's so lovely. And although I have gone to blogger help to try and figure this out, all I get is how to do a podcast and god knows I don't want to do a podcast. There's not even a little icon up there in the icon section which would indicate an audio dealieo.
Well, as the multi-talented Wrecking Ball would so succinctly put it:
Anyway, I just went and found a youtube of Lizzie singing another one of her songs called Deep which is also a lovely song and I am going to try and embed it here for you.

I may be dry as dust but Lis is always right there, on youtube and at a venue near you to sing you into in a better mood.

Enjoy. And wait until you hear that last note. Dang. That girl's an angel.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Make Me Paint My Face And Dance. Please.

Mr. Moon is focused.

When I say focused, I mean the man has that unocular thingee (oh yeah, monocle) stuck in his eye like Sherlock Holmes on meth. He is researching the new business. He is online, checking out equipment to buy. He's down at the permitting offices. He's lying awake in bed at night, thinking about all of it. He's talking about it. He's NOT TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE.
This is what happens every time Mr. Moon decides to go into a new business venture. Every time.

Which is why he's been successful.
Which is why I love him.
But which also DRIVES ME INSANE!

"What do you want for supper, Mr. Moon?"

"I don't know. How small a kitchen do you think we can get away with down there and can we use the same refrigerator for kegs as for the kitchen?"

This is my life now.

Everything I say somehow leads to something about this new business. Everything.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking that if SOMEONE doesn't take me away for a romantic weekend (Hey! I'll take a night!) somewhere where no cooking, dogs, or laundry are involved, I think I might die.

My mascara is drying up in the tube. My shimmery eye shadows are languishing in their pots. My going-out clothes are as useless to me as an extra blind eyeball would be.

I have forgotten how to be a girl. I have forgotten how to flirt, dance or order from a menu.

I might as well be the head matron at an all-women prison.

Please honey- for one second- let it go. Remind me of the man I met who would stop on the side of the road to pick me wildflowers. Remind me of the man who used to dance with me in the kitchen.

I mean yes, I am happy to pull up sod. I am happy to cook, do laundry and scrub toilets in this house that I love. I am thrilled to see you excited about something again and to watch you go into action mode.


I think.

Remind me.

And no, going down to Bradenton with you to pressure wash your sister's house is not a romantic weekend away.


And I need to quote a Lyle Lovett song here which I love in which he says, "If I were the man that you wanted, I would not be the man that I am."

Well. Mr. Moon is the man that I want. And he most definitely is the man that he is.

And no. I am not going to greet him at the door wearing Saran Wrap. So don't even suggest that.

That is not romance. That would be a darn waste of good Saran Wrap. And what if he was late getting home from work? What am I supposed to do while I'm waiting, all wrapped in Saran Wrap? What if a neighbor wanted to borrow a cup of sugar?
You see my point. You'd see a lot more than that if I dressed in Saran Wrap which possibly IS my point.

Sometimes I think that women need other women for romance. Not sex. Unless that's how you're wired. No, what I'm talking about is the hearts and flowers thing. Men start out all flowery and poetic but then, next thing you know, they're talking about one stall or two in the restrooms of the new business and also urinals. URINALS!
Women don't talk about urinals.
Women don't usually bring home dead animals for you to cook either, but that's another post and actually, I think men believe they ARE being romantic when they bring home dead animals for you to cook.

So perhaps it just all boils down to definition and semantics.

I don't know! I don't care! I just know I'm not getting any younger and I'm going to be a grandmother soon and dear God, just please- a cheap motel and a good dinner out.


I'll even wear high heels.
Oh wait. I gave them all to Goodwill.
But I will shave my legs. I promise.

If I can remember how.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Winter Poem

The wisteria is bare and brown
Twisted and turning, it waits
For more warmth and some mystic trick of
Before it will chance going green.
The sun is going down through
The naked pecans now and
I worked in the yard today
Digging up sod
Which had been placed there
Months ago
As part of a project for another piece of property we own
It had already put down roots and the weeds had
Thrust their green selves up through it
The betony and dollar weed, their thick white
Roots snap when you pull them
And I don't care how careful I was,
They are going to take themselves back to that other property
But leaving plenty living here, believe me.

I went and packed up my costumes at the Opera House
Sally, Marion, Nancy, Esther, Judith
Their clothes and their hair and jewelery and handbags and shoes
All in a bin I'll take with me when we do the play again.
"Are you having any after-effects?" inquired Jack as he was taking down the set
And I said,
"Well, I've felt like crying all day."
"But beyond that, all is well?" he asked, chuckling a little.
Kathleen washed the prop dishes and
We wrapped them in white paper and set them in a cooler
To carry with us to Milton next month where we'll do the play
In a high school auditorium.
And oh, how we are looking forward to that!
Last night's audience was insanely happy
Probably drunk, who cares?
They laughed at everything, they got all the jokes,
They applauded way too often.
We loved them and wanted to kiss them all good-night.
At the very least.

Yes, the wisteria is brown
But the magnolia is bright, glossy green
And I know that even as I sit here
Watching the sun go down
It is cooking up some amazing blossoms
That will open in April
Creamy white, bigger than my head
And will smell of lemon and are as precious as babies
To the mother tree, I can only imagine.
The wisteria, too, is thinking about the way
It will become green with tiny, twisting leaves
That open and unfold
And make way for the purple blossoms it will bear
Smelling of perfume which enchants and intoxicates the bees.

I wonder where the bees are.
Waiting for the stage manager to nod
And whisper
To make their appearance.
As we all do.

The timing and trick of light
The hefting of hunks of brown grass and dirt
The packing of wigs in their bag
The velvets and sequins in their bin
The subtle magnolia
The assertive, bawdy wisteria
Waiting for their cues

All waiting
And the birds sing
And tell me
Wait, wait, wait
It will all come around again.
Taste the air
And you can tell
It will all come around again.

And the setting sun shines gold
On the moss-bearded oaks
Another trick of light
Another magic light-streamed flight
Day pours itself into the night
And the silver moon will rise
The sight
Will give me patience
To wait

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Later Life For Later Life

Last night we performed the play for ninety-five people. That's a lot for a dinner theater at the Opera House where the play is performed not in the upstairs auditorium but downstairs in one of the big, open rooms.

We all agreed, during our time of waiting while the folks were finishing up their dinners, that none of us really felt as if we were actually going to do the play again. Like- we did this last week. Again? Really? Tonight?

And yet there we were, getting into our costumes, checking our make-up and props, waiting for the director to come in and tell us to get ourselves backstage.

And of course it ended up being the best performance we've done yet.
I finally feel as if I know my lines, inside and out, no problem.
(I shouldn't even say that. How far do I want to tempt fate? Huh?)
But still, it's a relaxing feeling, knowing that the lines will come, and then being able to adapt, move around in our characters, add this or that to make it a better performance.

The audience last night was odd. All of the usual lines that always get big laughs got nothing but a sort of restrained titter that scattered around the room like a short, fake-you-out rain shower which promises but does not deliver, a few drops of water on the windshield, nothing more.
One of my characters has a line describing a man she's met who wants to become a woman. I make it as full of drama as possible, setting the audience up for a bit I do when I deliver the line, "I know. But I mean, OUCH!" and I usually do a fake crotch grab and bend over a little bit but last night I GRABBED THAT CROTCH in my velvet skirt and I went for the gold.


Little raindrops of expressed appreciation. Nothing more.
But several times when my partner-in-crime and I left the stage, we got applause. So what was that about?

And then, and THEN, during one of the most dramatic and heart-rending parts of the play, they suddenly began to laugh. The huge, deep belly-laughs that we'd been hoping for all night finally came out.
"Sadistic fucks," whispered the guy who plays opposite me and all of us backstage looked at each other in disbelief.

So it was a strange night, but a very good one, and they applauded long and loud when it was over.

You just never know.

And we'll do it again tonight. Mr. Moon's sister is coming up from Sarasota to see the play and my daughter HoneyLuna will be there with a good friend of hers whom I love as one of my own and I haven't seen her in a long time so that will be fun. I think I'll be okay, knowing they're out there.

And that will be that until we perform in Milton on March 7 and then we're going to do it again on March 31 for a group of cyclists (?!) and then that really will be that. I'm glad we have these lagniappe performances because it means we'll have to get together between now and then to go over lines, make sure we still have it. Which means we won't have that sinking feeling after the performance tonight of, "Oh no! Our family is breaking up."

No. We get to go on for another month or so, still playing together, still saying these lines, grabbing our crotches and going for the gold, making each other laugh, which is far more important somehow than making the audience laugh, although we love it when they do.

And I suppose this is the joy of community theater. No one has invested big bucks in us and sets and costumes. We raid our own closets and lend each other wigs and glasses and build the sets of parts of old sets and black cloth and we're not going to have to shut down if the reviews aren't good, dimming the lights of the theater and finding ourselves out on the streets auditioning for another play, yet another chance at glory.

No. We get our glory cracking each other up and supporting each other and thanking each other and teasing each other and hugging each other and last night when one of the directors hugged me, I actually cried a little.

"Thank-you," I said. "Thank-you for letting me play."

And I felt like a pure, clean rain had washed down upon me as he hugged me back.