Wednesday, July 8, 2009
My soul is somewhat soothed today, even if the house is not entirely cleaned. This old house is so rambling. It goes on for days. There's the original four rooms downstairs with a hallway in the middle and upstairs (where I almost never go) and then another, newer room which is now my guest room which then leads to a sort of nothingness room which was once a laundry room (I can tell from the plumbing in it) and which we call the mud room, to Mr. Moon's bathroom which needs to be ripped out and done over and then into our bedroom and finally, it ends up in my bathroom which I call the Bathroom That Oprah Built.
That's because the woman who used to be married to the man whom we bought the house from is a rather famous writer who sold the rights to one of her books to Oprah to make a movie of. Figure it out and it's not Toni Morrison. Sometimes I wish Oprah had paid for some foundation work but that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, all I got cleaned yesterday was that bathroom, our bedroom and Mr. Moon's bathroom because that part of the house takes a long, long time to clean and also, I called a lady in Monticello who does hair to see if she could trim mine (it's been seven months) and give me a few highlights to help with the glamorization of Ms. Moon in Mexico.
She had a cancellation and could fit me in at one forty-five and so off to Monticello I sped and she has her shop in the back of her house and I don't know if my hair looks much better but I had a great time. She has something like fifty-five sons and they were all coming in to check on Mama and see if they could take a walk and that involved a lot of details and so there I was, hair foiled and looking like an alien, sitting under an alien light and one of the youngest boys looked into the little room where I was with eyes like saucers because honestly, I looked ridiculous.
I wasn't embarrassed though. God knows he's seen women in foil hair before.
I waved but he didn't wave back. I think the word to describe what he did would be "fled."
So anyway, I only got the three rooms cleaned and the dogs got a package of venison cube steak I'd set out on the counter to thaw and that's okay because by the time Mr. Moon got home from Orlando, I was too exhausted to cook cube steak and mash any potatoes anyway. Instead I made a salad and that was good enough.
But really what I sort of wanted to talk about was how weird modern life is. I was reading the paper and they're taking the phones out of the offices of the teachers in the history department of FSU as a cost-saving measure. That seems rather dire, doesn't it? But they still have their cell phones and their e-mails and Skype (I don't even know what that is. Wait. I just went and looked. It's an "internet-based teleconference program" but it sounds more like a budget-minded airline to me) so the students CAN get in touch with their professors if they need to.
Or, you know, I suppose they could walk over to the office during office hours and knock on the door.
I'm not saying that professors shouldn't have phones. This seems self-evident.
It's just that sometimes I wonder what would happen if all our modern conveniences were taken away by the push of a button and we were bombed back into the stone age.
Frankly, I think we'd all die. I could probably create a wheel out of something but could I make a battery? Hell no and I wouldn't know what to do with one if I did.
Mr. Moon could kill something for us to eat but we'd die of starvation before I could figure out how to get a fire lit without matches, a lighter or a butane torch to cook the animal on.
Sure, I can grow things but where would I get seeds? And honey, it takes a long time to grow some greens, much less corn which we'd have to grind into grits and there is no waterwheel around here.
Let's face it- the human race would look a lot different a thousand years after being bombed back into the stone age. The people who survived would probably be the people who were already living in the stone age like those Amazonian tribes who wear a string around their waists and know damn well how to start a fire without matches. Who can scrabble together decent meals out of the jungle and who can have their babies without the aid of technology.
When Lily went to get her ultrasound the other day, the tech was amazed that she's somehow managed to get to the point of being 29 weeks pregnant without getting an ultrasound.
"Why?" she asked.
And Lily, whom I am so proud of, said, "We didn't want to unless it was medically necessary."
The tech gave us a funny look as if she'd never heard of such foolishness. Obviously, she's drunk the Kool Aid.
We have all this technology and so we have to use it but the funny thing is- the more technology we have, the less we rely on the way things have worked out for eons and really, a lot of that technology isn't making our outcomes any bit better at all and some are causing a lot of problems but we continue to use them anyway.
Leeches were high-tech at one point and someday we'll look back on the ultrasound with the same humorous disdain that we now look upon the medical use of leeches.
So the history department won't have landlines and neither will any of us in fifty years although they better improve cell phone reception if the people who live in this house want to communicate with others. Our cell phones don't work in this old house and it may be the tin room or it may be the spirits of the people who lived here back when it was built, playfully blocking the signal because they can.
Ha-ha-ha, they say, every time we bolt outside when our cell phones ring.
Well, we humans are clever monkeys. Too clever by half, I would think. I just hope all this stuff we need more and more of keeps working because without it, where would we be?
I'm in the process of making fourteen day pickles and let me tell you this- that is a low-tech operation. I'm taking pictures as I go and I'm sure I'll do a whole post with pictures and a recipe and I know you can't wait for that because sure, everyone has two gallons of cucumbers they don't know what to do with and a crock. I've been making pickles since the donkey was invented and when I started, there were no cell phones, no internet and the only computers in the world had to live in basements where the temperature with a controlled temperature and no dust. So I couldn't show the world how I made them but I gave a lot of them away and shared recipes with other hippie pickle-makers and that was fun.
I'd call people on my land-line (which we merely called The Phone) and say, "Hey! I made pickles. Come and get some!" and they would and we'd sit around and smoke dope and drink tea and eat pickles and go look at the garden and it was awesome.
I didn't have chickens then but I had children. They ran around naked and played in the Mr. Turtle Pool and made cities in the camellia bushes and somehow, they thought that was fun.
Well, life goes on and I planned on getting the rest of the house cleaned today but Mr. Moon needs me to come do data-entry, which is another thing no one had ever heard of thirty years ago. Well, I hadn't, anyway and sort of wish I hadn't now either.
Excuse me. I have to check on my chickens now.
Sometimes I get confused about what time-period I'm living in. I am just back from yoga now, which is a practice which goes back thousands of years and I was reminded as I breathed and stretched and concentrated on my body in such a slow, intense way of how we are all these corporal beings with something inside we like to call a soul or spirit and how funny it is that we keep pushing the boundaries of what we do to amuse ourselves and how far we've come from the days of having to spend most of our time hunting and gathering. How we have our cars to get us places and our cell phones and televisions and computers to connect and amuse us and there are entire magazines and industries devoted to the simplification of life but really? Who has time to read that stuff, to practice simplification?
I think that just as we all have within us all the ages we've been, the human race does too which is why we love chickens and homegrown food and why we get such pleasure out of the simplest things we do with our hands but we also love the newest gadgets and toys, integrating them into our lives until they seem as necessary as food and water and exercise and love.
But they are not.
And we'd do best to remember that, even as we enjoy them. I think we'd all be better off if we remembered and practiced a few of the things that make us humans, that make us part of this whole cycle of life. The growing of food, the fact that eating animal protein requires killing, birthing our babies in the simplest way possible, trusting all the processes that have gotten us here so far.
And then we can get on our computers and write about it.
As I have just done while somewhere, on another continent, a man leads his cattle out to a place where the grass is sweeter and he knows them all by name and he loves them because they sustain him and his family with their meat, their milk, their blood. I like to think about that. I like to think that as I battle traffic and worry about things like cell phone reception, there are still places on earth where people know how to live with what they can find in the place where they are, whether jungle or plains or desert or beside an ocean or on a mountain so far up that the mist never leaves, the trees never grow very tall and you can see so far that it is impossible to tell whether it is the past you are looking or the future, and the stones underneath the feet have been smoothed by the trodding of hundreds and thousands of generations but are not as smoothed as they will be after another thousand generations have passed.
Or at least, that is what I like to think as I sit in my old house which has seen a few generations itself and the sweet rain begins to trickle down from the sky on my garden, my flowers, my chickens, this ground I have been so blessed to live on in this month of July, this year of 2009, with the very most original communications of my foremothers in my RNA, passed on again and now again by nothing at all but love.