Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I went to a party last night. !!!!!
Really. It was a cast party for the play we finished up two weekends ago. And I had a wonderful time. You know how sometimes you keep people you know in different categories? Well, the people I know through the Opera House in Monticello are in all of my categories. They know more of my secrets and strengths and weaknesses than anyone. They read my blog! And they still let me come and play with them.
Oh. I love them so.
Mr. Moon went too. And Kathleen and Herb were there so you know I had a good time. I made chicken enchiladas and wore my white linen Welcome-To-Cozumel dress which I've had for longer than I've had HoneyLuna, I do believe. Mr. Moon said, "I like that dress," when I put it on and I said, "We've had some good times in this dress."
We laughed.
We did.
The party was all about sitting around and eating delicious food and drinking a bit of beer or wine and our hostess gave us a tour of her beautiful yard with all the blooming flowers. Also, we watched a video of our daring, darling Colin bungy jumping in New Zealand. We were amazed and applauded. It was a sweet and gentle gathering on a gorgeous Saturday night.

Anyway, when we came home I wrote a rather sentimental blog about yearning but I am wise enough to know that although I may write under the influence, posting is not a good idea. I reread it this morning and you know? Ah. Not so much.
And today is Sunday and I slept late and when I got up, Mr. Moon was already in the coop. Here's what he looks like today:

Today may be THE DAY that the chickens get to run into their run. They have never had that much space to scratch around in and I cannot wait to see them explore their new home. Bring the champagne! Get out the noise-makers! This is going to be amazing!
Here are the chickens this morning in their little hallway run, attacking collard greens. They eat collard greens as if they'd never eaten before in their lives. They run at them and rip the leaves to shreds and gulp them down, making excited chirping noises.
"Look! Look!" I think they're saying. "Collard greens! We will eat until we burst!"

And here's a picture of what I worked on almost all day yesterday:

That whole area was thick with nutgrass and I pulled it all out by hand and then howed up two rows and planted soybeans and then mulched the shit out of it. Yes! Soybeans! Probably the most over-planted crop in the world. Do I care? No. These will be my edemames, my dried soybeans. I've never grown them before. I'll tell you how it goes.

Here's the first yellow squash we'll be eating from our garden:

Probably tonight.

Here's the first blooming zinnia in the garden. It's a volunteer from last year:

It's surrounded by volunteer marigolds. They're all taking up a lot of room but I don't care. Food for the body, food for the soul.

More soul food:

Blue hydrangea.

Impatiens in old ugly concrete swan.

Gathering of blooming begonias.

And now here's something I find interesting:

That, my dears, is the male cone of the sago palm. If you're interested in how sagos make seeds, please go here and you will know more than most. I am very excited to think I could cultivate sago palms the way this website suggests, in a child's plastic pool. A tiny grove of tiny sagos! Oh, be still my heart.
But first I have to have a female sago which blooms and as far as I can tell- nothing is happening on that front. I have checked all the sagos (I have a lot) and none of them seem to be producing that flower. I did, however, get the requisite picture of a lizard on one of them and here that is:

And last but not least, here is a picture of the pictures (artwork!) I bought in Sopchoppy last week. Aren't they wonderful? Well, they are to me. I have no idea where I'm going to hang them and this will probably require that I completely rearrange the entire house. You'd think with such a big house that I'd still have some wall-space but you'd be wrong.

And okay, here's one more. Zekie wanted to pose so I let him:

Say good morning, Zeke!

It's a beautiful morning in Lloyd. I'm going to plant green beans and then go pick blackberries. Well, that's the plan. We'll see.

And yearning? Oh. Right now I am yearning only for more of all of this.

Which was pretty much the whole gist of the post I wrote last night. Okay, mermaids were involved, but tell me this: When aren't mermaids involved? Huh?


Happy Sunday.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Holy Shit (For Billy and XBox)

As god is my witness I am grateful to have indoor plumbing. When I was a young hippie, my first husband and I moved with our six month old child into a house in the county of Jefferson which rented for seventy-five dollars a year.
A year.
It was called Aunt Bessie's House by the local folks and I never met her, although I feel as if I knew her. Aunt Bessie had probably long since moved into a double-wide trailer with indoor plumbing and wall outlets, which our house did not have. We did have electricity, as evidenced by a hanging light bulb in every room, naked and bare. The house was built of wood and you could see the outdoors through the boards in the walls and the floor, both. I'm sure that it was originally built as a tenant house. A place where black folks lived when they share-cropped a field and there was a field around us and a white farmer cultivated corn there, the summer after we moved in.
But that was months away from when we first took possession of the place. It was the coldest day of the coldest winter in many years when we moved in and it snowed. Yes. It snowed here in North Florida and we put in a woodstove and we improvised on wood and there were fireplaces in the bedrooms but if you lit a fire in them, they only drew the frigid air in from the places between the boards and the temperature in the rooms dropped like a rock.
Oh that place, Aunt Bessie's place.
We survived the winter and I'm not sure how. We drank pots and pots of dark coffee brewed in my grandmother's percolator, thickened and sweetened with Eagle Brand condensed milk.
Every morning I scrambled an egg and put my many-sweater-layered baby in his high chair and let him eat the egg with his fingers and the cat wove her body through the legs of it, waiting for what the baby did not want. We managed.
Spring finally came and the farmer showed up on his tractor and he planted the acres surrounding us in corn and it came a drought that year. The tiny sprigs came up and made plants but when it was time for them to fruit, they did not. He would show up, that farmer and shake his head and say, If it don't rain by Friday....
It did not.
The sun baked the earth and I had no running water and I pumped my water from a well out back. It took me approximately thirty two pumps to get a gallon of water and they were not easy pumps, either. We showered in town at friends' houses and I would spend half an hour filling my canning kettle up a fourth of the way to make a place for my year-old baby to play in. I would set the pot on the porch with its precious water in it and let my child squat in it, dipping water out with measuring cups, squealing in happiness at its coolness.
We had bulldogs then. It was a bad neighborhood and my husband was a guitar player, gone at night. My bulldogs kept me safe. They and the strong bolt-locks on the doors. We got a reputation, that husband and I, for taking in bulldogs and the shelter would call us when they got a new one that no one wanted. We did have a phone, finally, and that was our link to the world and animal shelter.
I don't know how many bulldogs we had for awhile. All I know is that at one point, we were over-run with fleas. They came up from the dirt under the house and I could not put my child on the floor or he would be covered. It was shameful and it was horrible. We went to town and spent the night with my friend Lynn, leaving a toxic bomb of poison behind and after we did that twice, the fleas disappeared. But the dogs' shit did not. I don't know if this is true or not, but it seems to me that bull dogs shit more than any dogs on the planet and I came to call our place Dogshit Palace
I got so angry one boiling hot summer day with the smell of dogshit and the flies upon it and the heat and the no-water-unless-I-pumped-it-from-the-ground and the stove that when I tried to light it blew up and burned my arm that I lost it completely. My shit, my mind, my soul.
I lost it.
And my husband stood back in stunned silence while I said, "Take me to Vero. Now."
And he did.
We packed up like normal people and we got in the car and drove to Vero Beach, the place which had always been my solace, my touchstone, my head and heart-home, and we got a motel room with air conditioning and beds and a TV and NO SHIT.

It was a strange time. I realize now that my husband had a lover at this time in his life and that he felt guilty for being with me- his wife and the mother of his child. I also realize that I was beautiful then, for all my living in a house that was surrounded by dogshit and flies and having to pump my own water and I found a shell on the beach with a hole in it and I bought a piece of leather thong at the hobby store in downtown Vero and I made a necklace and I was beautiful and my baby was beautiful and I showed him the Atlantic Ocean and splashed the salt water on his pale skin and he was baptized in holiness and he laughed. I think I may have conjured and seduced my husband back to me on that trip. To make him see me in my beauty, separated from the woman he was having an affair with long enough for him to appreciate what he had in his hand.

We went home when it was time- the money ran out, the people who were watching the dogs were surely worn out, and vacation was over.
I remember when we got home and the woman who had been feeding our dogs had left a note saying something like, "Please don't think I am heartless. The dogs got into the house through the windows and I have cleaned up a million dog shits and I know there are more."
And there were. Dog shits all over the house and those green/blue flies on everything, including in the outhouse where the flies fed on human shit.

It was still hot. It was still Dogshit Palace. But I had been given enough peace from the Atlantic and from the air conditioning and from the re-seducing of my husband to get me through it all and I was home. My philodendron was still alive, as were my fish in the organic apple juice jug.

We were home. There was still shit everywhere and there were flies- believe me. We were home in Aunt Bessie's house with the red and white handpainted sign above a door in the bedroom which said, "Jesus Save Me". That house where knives mysteriously showed up where knives should not be. The wooden shack home set in the middle of a field of baked and stunted corn with the outhouse out back, the cruel iron pump, the constant torment of heat where my first child took his first steps, said his first words, and where, one day when I was in the outhouse in the middle of a horrible hayfever attack I was stung by a wasp at the exact same second I saw a snake at my feet and that was the day we went to town and bought an old single-wide trailer and had it moved on a piece of property in Lloyd that we were planning on building a house on.
Forget the house. I wanted a bathroom and if it came wrapped in aluminum and red carpet, then fine.

We had a well dug and a real, electricity powered pump put in and I helped dig the lines to lay the pipe to connect the trailer to running water. It was while doing that I realized I was pregnant with my second child, and the running water was even more of a neccessity- time to hook up a washing machine.

I was in high cotton then, with my bathroom, my washing machine, my tiny kitchen with an electric stove which, although it had no thermostat in the oven, I still managed to cook in quite nicely.

The dogs came with us, of course, they they still shit in the yard but I had a hose then, and could spray the piles of shit into the dirt and I could wash my hands in the sink under running water and the flies were not so bad. I had a toilet like civilized human beings so that our shit was flushed away into the septic tank, gone and disappeared under the ground.

We humans do not like to see our own shit. We do not want to think about flies landing on it, feeding on it, and we do not like to think about flies landing and feeding on any thing's shit at all, those bottle green flies whose bodies are beautiful if you look at them in a certain light.
But we shit. We do. We must. We are animals. And our babies shit and our dogs shit and our cats and the spiders which live in our houses and the raccoons and possums and deer. I see the shit of these animals when I walk and yes, the flies are upon it and they are doing their job and in a way, it's a beautiful thing to realize that even shit has its purpose and I'm not even including the way chicken shit makes tomatoes grow.

It's all part of this cycle of life we are bound to live, even if we modern people manage to flush our shit away where we do not have to see it or think about it, down there under the earth. It's still there.

And I tell you what- if I found myself in some third-world country in a shack without a bathroom, I could survive and I think I would feel that I'd come home, in a way. Not in a happy way, so much, but it would feel familiar. Aunt Bessie's house was a third-world place and we dealt there with the things people have always dealt with- drought, the very real need to work for water, cold and heat and a house that did not always keep the outside out.
I would survive.
I would know to throw wood ashes down the latrine to keep the flies off the shit, the stink down to a manageable level.
As god is my witness, I would know how to do that.
And because I know that, I am more grateful than most, I think, to have toilets that flush, to have water that runs. To have hoses and faucets and sprinklers so that even when the rain doesn't come, I can use the water from the earth to grow my tomatoes, my flowers.
To stand under and rinse my body of the dirt of the earth.
To drink anytime I want it.
And the sight of flies on shit does not bother me. Not one iota. It may not be a beautiful sight, but it's as much a part of the reality of living on this earth as the wild passion flower, so alien and beautiful it makes your mind spin in disbelief.
There are even beautiful butterflies which feed on shit and I see them too. Their wings fluttering delicately as they hover above the steaming piles.
Part of life. Part of life.
Beauty and shit and pain and joy. We can't have one without the other.
I'm sorry but that's the way it is.
And I'm not offended by that, I am not shocked.

And In Our Eyes You Can See Our Madness

So here it is Friday afternoon already and the sun is out and perhaps I am discorporating, one resentful molecule at a time. Perhaps they rise up, these molecules and swim above my head for a moment, making such a tiny bit of steam above me that it is invisible to the naked eye.
The entire earth here is steaming like some vast savanna after a rainstorm, like a rain forest in the heat but in reality none of us discorporate. We merely steam and listen to the fierce song of the crickets, rising and falling according to some sheet music we do not know but which seems to be written by the sun. We humans are learning again to walk slowly, to take something with us when we're outside to wipe the sweat from our faces, to save and gird our strength for the trip to the clothes line, the chicken coop, the garden. We dream of naps even as we sleep. We, all of us, are weary and gravity tugs on us with almost irresistible force.
I think of the scene in Gone With The Wind where after the barbecue luncheon, Katie Scarlett and all the girls go upstairs to loosen their stays and lie upon the big feather filled beds covered with sheets made of the Georgia cotton to rest and recoup for the evening's coming events while the men, still in their coats and ties are downstairs, awake, going mad in the heat and committing to war. It always bothered me that they didn't get to have that evening's ball due to the stupid war. Yet another reason to hate war. Scarlett O'Hara did not get to dance at the ball with Ashley Wilkes and take him from that mealy-mouthed Melanie.
Oh Jesus, where am I going with this? It gets hot and I turn into a southern matron, still mourning over Scarlett's disappointment. It's like when I lived in Denver and after a while I started speaking as if I, too, were from Long Island where so many of my friends there were from. Until, that is, I got stoned and then my accent would turn true again and people would ask me to please fry them some chicken.
And laugh at me.
And try to mimic me, which they did poorly, the motherfucking yankees.
I wonder where they are now. Probably all rich CEO's or formerly rich CEO's, wondering what happened to all that fine green money, never taking the time to wonder where I am, that girl from the south who tried to talk like them.

See? This is what the heat does to you. It cooks your brains and takes your loving heart. I don't have the energy to love in this heat. I only have the energy to hate: the blackberry thorns, the mosquitoes with their whining warning and abdomens swelling with my blood and then the itch, itch, itch where they drank from me. I hate the drive to the grocery store, the aphids on my tomatoes, the need to cook anything. Anything at all. The need to eat.
Summer brings on these feelings and I am, as Kenneth said on a 30 Rock re-run last night, being the "c" word. A Cranky- Sue. Indeed I am.

So why don't I turn on the AC and cool off and dry out? I'll tell you why. Because I love to hate the things that summer brings. I admit it- I feel most myself when it's hot and humid. I was born in El Paso, Texas on July 28th in a military Quonset hut and don't you think I've been used to heat since the moment of my birth?
To be honest I love to be so hot and dirty, on my knees in the garden yanking out weeds and trying to avoid the red ants (my feet are covered in their bites, little pus pockets of red itchiness- I am not very good at avoiding them) and wiping my face with a rag from my pocket which is so dirty that I know I am black-faced. I love the cricket's song and I love the baking of the earth with the rain so fresh upon it, and I love the way my dogs find the coolest spots in the house to lie down in and pant, no need for them to move. I love the way the smell of the steaming trees reminds me of summers past and I love the way everything slows down and crawls on its belly like the beautiful blue indigo snake I saw a few years ago when I was picking berries.
I love the taste of a very cold beer when the weeding is done and I love the ceiling fan as it whirls above me and hums the windchimes.
I close my eyes and think of sinkholes and the time Bill Wharton tied his towel around his neck like Super Man and jumped in from a high place and forgot he was wearing his glasses and he lost them in that endlessly deep cold water. I think of Wakulla Springs and the icy chill of the water when I was forty-eight months pregnant with my daughter, Lily and the way I'd be cool for hours after I swam there.
I love thinking of that and knowing those places are still there.
I love succumbing to that nap yearning, laying down on top of the quilt on the bed, turning the fan on my face, sleeping so hard for an hour that when I wake up I have no idea if it's day or night, much less what month it is.
I love it.
I love it when we turn on the AC in the evening and being so thankful for it that I can hardly stand it, and I especially love walking out the back door onto the porch and feeling like I live on the banks of a bayou in deepest Louisiana, the air so thick with heat and water you could wring it out and make something dangerous to drink with it. Something dank and with a distant taste of rot and life, touching different parts of your tongue. Something you might think is nasty at first, but you find yourself wanting more of- like so many of the good things in life.

Ah yah, it's summer, babies and it's only going to get hotter. We're going to bitch and complain and we're going to pray for rain and we're going to huddle in our air-conditioning because it's not nearly as hot as it's going to get. But we stay here. We're all crazy down here and that's the truth. It's not a cliche or a stereotype- we are all crazy down here. We must be, to live here in this heat that we love to hate. This heat that is hot as blood. This heat that brings out the worst in everything and everybody. We sit on our porches and we watch the insanity happen and we tip our heads back and we laugh because we are insane too and we take another sip of our sweating drink and we reach over and scratch the dog's head and he chases rabbits in his sleep, his legs going like crazy, pitiful tiny yelps coming from his sleeping lips, and we laugh at that too.
Sometimes we look up at the icy burning moon and we howl like the dogs as we travel with the top down through night dark pine woods and the air becomes cooler as we drive and off to the west lightening crackles and we laugh at that too because it means rain is coming to wet down this mad, hot place and wash us of our sins as we drive through the night, as we sleep in our beds, as we stand in the yard, our joy complete as the first cold drops hit our faces, and we all receive our blessings. Our hot, summer blessings and we stand like the crazy people we are, loving every blessed minute of it even as we despair that we will survive.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Off Again. Heart-Errands.

It's still dripping this morning and I was thinking how much I like this gray rainy weather. I hear a lot of people say they wish the sun would come out but I don't. Maybe I've been bitten by a vampire of sorts because just thinking about the heat and full-on relentless sun gives me the willies, like I might discorporate into steam if that happened, not unlike the wicked witch of the West when Dorothy threw that pail of water on her.
I almost did, picking blackberries yesterday when the sun WAS out. So give me another gray, possibly rainy day and I'm happy.

I got at least nine hours of sleep last night and that was just a gift. I'm moving slowly this morning but I need to get my ass in gear. Call Ripley's because I'm leaving the property again today to drive down to Sopchoppy with my other Liz. We haven't had a day together in forever and we're overdue.

It's funny how each of our good friends is so different from all the others. When my friend Sue died, I realized that each of our friends knows and loves and cherishes different parts of us and that when one of them dies, that part of us goes unknown and unloved and uncherished. Does that make sense? It does to me.
And that we do the same for our friends. I have two Liz'es and I love such different things about each of them. And they love different things about me. It behooves me greatly to spend time with each of them. We need our friends because when we are with them, we are more fully who we are. Don't you think?

I met this Liz at the Birth Center a million years ago. I was there to "observe" after being hired as a midwife assistant and Liz was the nurse who was on call. She didn't make it to the birth and the birth turned out to be a bit complicated, and next thing I knew, I was gloved and doing what I could to help, no longer just an observer and then Liz got there and she was so cool and she showed me the ropes of the sterilizer and how the Birth Center charted and so forth and she also told me that after her first son had been born at home delivered by a granny midwife, the midwife had thrown her head back and shouted, "Thank-you, Jesus, for another healthy baby," and that she, Liz, did always went into the kitchen after a birth and whispered the same thing. I could tell that she was about as religious as me but that she gave due to whatever powers-that-be and well, I fell in love.

And we've been friends since then.
I could write an entire book about Liz. She's such an amazing woman. The kind of woman who can throw a high English tea and who can scare a bear off in the woods and who loves vintage hats and who can kayak from sunrise to sunset.

But now it's time for me to get to town to pick her up so we can go have a little adventure together. I've missed her. And although it's really hard for me to leave Lloyd again, I need to do this. For my heart, my soul.
I know I like to be by myself too much and I've come to accept that about myself. But I also know that I desperately need to stay in touch with the people I love.

And here I go, to do that.
To share pieces of myself with someone who cherishes them. To listen and to talk and to cherish the pieces of Liz that she shares with me.

A good day. A gray, drizzly day to drive down to Sopchoppy with a good friend.

I wish goodness and friends for you, too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Was Sleepin' When I Wrote This

My lord but I am tired tonight. I'm trying desperately to stay up until nine-thirty but I'm not sure I'm going to make it. I don't know why I'm so tired.
Well. There was the fact that I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. This has been happening rather frequently and I am developing a bad habit around it. I get up, grab my book and go to the kitchen where I eat a bowl of twiggy and fibery cereal with soymilk and that's not so bad but then I start in on other things that I would never think about eating during the day. Seriously. I find myself eating the smoked almonds which you can not get enough of while during the daytime, I eat only the raw almonds are pretty darn easy to limit. I mean twelve is about enough.
Not sure what's going on there or why I'm having problems getting to sleep. I don't think I'm any more worried than usual although actually, now that I think about it, I am sort of showing the signs of anxiety I was having last summer but I am convinced THIS IS TEMPORARY!
Okay? Got that?
Put your hand on the radio, hear the testimony.
I am having a lot of hot flashes and it never fails that right as I fall asleep, a big one will shake my brain awake with the message that the world is coming to an end and doom is at hand and then I realize I'm so thirsty I'm about to die and then I just go ahead and fling the covers off and let that motherfucker take me over and I lie there and sweat for awhile and finally, it goes away and I cover back up and I'll be falling asleep again and Mr. Moon will roll over (and when a six-foot, nine-inch man rolls over, it does create a bit of, uh, movement in the mattress) and then I'm awake again. Or else maybe Zeke, the tiny dog who sleeps with us, begins to scratch or else he wants up on the bed and I'm awake again, thinking I might as well get up and go eat the kitchen.
Ah lah.
So lack of enough sleep is one of the reasons I'm tired and another is that I didn't walk until almost noon when it was about ninety-five degrees or something. Plus, I had to stop and pick some blackberries, standing there in the briars getting skin-ripped and sunburned, all for about a cup of berries.
That made me tired.
And I'd gotten up seven and went to yoga, too.
Then I had to go to town and do a few things, one of which was to help HoneyLuna pick out some scrubs for her upcoming trip to Jamaica to do Medically Helpful Things with the folks there. That was sort of fun and thank goodness there was a chair in the dressing room area. I almost fell asleep a few times, waiting for her to try on the red pants with the black top. She's going to be a stylin' Medically Helpful Person. Trust me on this.
And the library had to be visited and also the New Leaf Market for (ta-da!) raw almonds and just when I thought I could go get gas and hit Publix like a meteor, Mr. Moon called and needed a ride back from the other side of town due to a vehicle which misperformed.
I finally got home and we checked the chickens and unloaded the car and then I had to do some laundry and cook supper and you know me- that does not involve ripping a piece of cellophane off a box and nuking it. No, it involved chopping all sorts of vegetables and cooking them and making muffins and, oh, blah, blah, blah.
And then I was so tired I thought I couldn't get up but I did and here I am. Mr. Moon, bless his heart, washed most of the dishes and I owe him a million dollars for that.
It's raining a little tiny bit, or dripping off the trees. I don't know. And those frogs are at it again, screeching their froggy screeches and I think I'm going to take a shower and get in bed.
If I brush my teeth long enough, it'll be nine-thirty before I get there.
Sweet dreams, y'all.

Now Tell Me Again Where God Is In All Of This?

I don't know. I'm having one of those mornings.
I open the paper and the headline is

779th Departs Amid
Pomp & Pride

A picture of our governor shaking hands with a man too old to go to war accompanies it. These soldiers are going to Iraq for a year. Fathers leaving families, mothers leaving families. "Our goal," one family member said, "Is for everyone to come home safe."

Well, you know they won't. They won't all come home safe.

I didn't say a word on Memorial Day. No flags here. No tributes to our soldiers. I should feel ashamed but really, what I feel ashamed about is that my country is still sending people off to fight a war that should never have been started for reasons no one believed to begin with. And yeah, I know that WW II was a "righteous war," but you know what? I happen to believe that we should be over war. All of us.
Isn't that naive? Isn't that ridiculous? Isn't that just a bunch of proper hippie liberal bleeding heart pacifistic tree hugging bullshit?
Yeah well. So what?
Like war is a good answer to stuff. "Let's go kill people."
And I know that soldiers do a lot of other things besides kill people. I am aware of this. But a war is about killing people. It's not about building hospitals or schools or roads or teaching people to grow soybeans instead of poppies. Those things may happen but that's not what war is about.

And moving on, the entire country of Ireland, from what I hear, is in an uproar over a recent report concerning six decades of every type of the most horrific abuse of children in state and church-run institutions anyone can imagine. Sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual abuses of the vilest sort- it all happened. Tens of thousands of victims while the government and the church looked the other way while their very own people were acting in such an evil manner to the children entrusted to them that if there is a hell they will be roasting for eternity. And instead of being in prison or hell, many of the perpetrators are still alive and still serving in the church.
Run over to Ten Lizard Tongues to view one of the most powerful videos I've ever seen. One of the boys-grown-up tells his story of abuse in language so powerful that to watch it is to be brought to ones knees with the knowledge of what cruelty people are capable of.
Cruelty to children.
CHILDREN! And babies.
And the eternally lasting effects of this sort of cruelty.

Yeah. So I'm not seeing the face of Buddha in every human being today. I'm not seeing the hand of god in every action.
I'm thinking of how countries on the brink of bankruptcy where people are jobless, people are homeless, where schools and medical care are being downgraded every day still has the money to send troops off to fight wars and I'm thinking of whatever happened to beating our swords into ploughshares and I'm thinking about suffering the little children to come unto me and I'm thinking of treating others as we would treat ourselves (and we don't torture ourselves, do we?).

I'm thinking of innocent people who find themselves on both sides of war.
I'm thinking of innocent people who suffer and die. I'm thinking we don't learn much, we humans. I'm thinking we have a long way to go as a species, even here in good old America, land of the free (unless you're gay) home of the brave (not me!), fliers of the flags, stickers of the heads in sand.
Senders off of the soldiers by the politicians. Weepers of the mothers, wives and children. Observers of the crimes against humanity, standing on the sides, shaking our heads and powerless to act if there is no oil involved.

Me too, I'm ashamed to admit.
Me too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Silliness On A Noisy Night

We've got some crazy lovers in our back yard. Noisy as cats, loud as bells. This is what they look like. They're hanging out in the little unfinished pond and on the rocks around it and every night the concert commences.
I am thinking the words of the songs go like this:

(Mr. Frog's Song)
"Honey come on down and swim with me
The water's fine as it can be
Just wear your skin
And I'll wear mine
Come on in, the water's fine.

Come on in and you will see
We will dance, you and me
We'll play that game that froggies play
To make a soup of DNA
Our babies will look fine I say

I'm waiting here in the pea green water
You'll be a mother, I'll be a father
But first you have to jump on in
So we can get real skin-to-skin
The future's ours so let's make kin
Honey, please, just jump on in."

(Ms. Frog's Song)
"The water's cold, don't lie to me
All your goosebumps I can see
And I am fine right where I sit.
So don't you try to give me shit.
You ain't that cool, you ain't Brad Pitt.

My mama told me to be sure and wait
For just the right kind of froggie mate
And I'm not sure at all you're he
And just because I am a she
Doesn't mean with you I'll dance.
Nope. I really can't take the chance.

Because that water's green and cool
And I am not any frog's fool
Your song is loud but it's too plain
I shouldn't even have to explain
A bull of a frog is for what I pray
I need a real he-man's juice to mix with my DNA.

So sing and croak just all you will
I'm waiting on the man who'll really thrill
My dainty girlie froggy bones
So get on, man
Go on home
Hop off to whatever rock you claim
I'm no cheap frog
I'm a classy dame."

Coop De Grace

When I say that Mr. Moon worked like a dog all weekend, I mean to say that he worked like a lone Australian shepherd personally responsible for a herd of thousands.

And what he worked on was the chicken run. The coop itself is done except for the fine detail of the nesting boxes and now he's working on the outside part where the chickens will be able to strut around all day in the fresh air and sunshine, pecking at anything which looks like a bug and doing whatever it is that chickens do. Pooping. Eating. Things we all do.

One part of the run, as you can see in the picture above, will be covered. Well, it is covered. And it is approximately fifteen feet tall because...well, I don't know. Are we going to raise giant man-eating chickens? Maybe. Maybe we are. And perhaps Suzie is one of them.
I am fairly certain that we have a boy named Sue here.

Anyway, there's the coop itself, the little hallway-run, then the covered run-room and then the plain, no-roof-but-fenced-in part.

My chickens will have more rooms than I had when I lived in a ten-by-fifty foot trailer with a husband and two kids. And take my word for this- the chicken's home is more well-built than that trailer was.

But I am not begrudging these chickens their fancy domicile. Nah. I love my chickens. Here they are today:

Well, some of them.

Although you can't really tell from the picture, Suzie is the biggest now and has a definite red comb thing going on. Mr. Moon calls it the Testostercomb. And it turns out that Mabel/Maynard is now the SMALLEST chicken after having ruled the kindergarten roost and I'm thinking that yes, she is a hen. And I could have SWORN she was going to be the alpha male. Just goes to show.

They're so funny, these chicks. They have personalities and some of them are far more aggro than the others. They do this thing now where they fly at each other for perceived injustices and bow up at the breast and maybe get in a totemic head-peck and then settle back down to bug hunting.
It reminds me of a mosh pit.

Besides bugs, the chickens' favorite thing to eat is collard greens and I bring them new ones every day. Some days the greens have bugs ON them and this is the ultimate treat. They peck and hunt and cluster up and then breast-bump and then cluster up again, friendly as old women on a bus tour of pie diners.

I've almost completely forgotten that they might actually provide us with eggs some day. That hardly seems the point at this point. They're just my funny birds. The ones I realize I've always wanted because instead of having to feel guilty about them being in a cage and not flying around in their native jungles, they're right where domesticated birds belong- in my back yard- and they're about to have access to the Coop Mahal with fresh greens, access to bugs, and even cozy nesting boxes should they ever choose to lay an egg.

Kathleen and Herb have added on to their coop and they're calling it Chickingham Palace.
Kathleen is the one who showed me how lovely chickens can be and I'm mighty grateful to her for that.

Such nice birds, soft and fluffy, funny and curious.

And none of this would have been possible without Mr. Moon working like an Australian Shepherd in the crazy heat with mosquitoes biting his ass through his jeans, his nail bag wrapped around his waist, his hands shredded from working with the wire.

I love those chickens. But not as much as I love Mr. Moon.
He makes all my dreams come true. Even the ones I didn't know I had. Like having chickens in the backyard, hunting for bugs and learning to cluck.

It's a good life here in Lloyd. With such interesting characters.

Happy Tuesday, y'all.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reinventing The Knob

You know what I miss?
Well, I miss a lot of things, the main one being my brain and also my ability to spell any word with more than one vowel in it but that's not what I came here to talk about.
What I came here to talk about today is the dial. Yes. The dial. And the knob. The beautiful knob.
A very plain, short word for a very simple small thing which worked like a charm.

You see that radio up there?
Believe it or not, I used to have one which looked a lot like it. I was maybe twelve, and I was given this radio because my family had gotten a more modern radio. A plastic one. I think it might even have been a clock-radio, which was high tech, baby. It probably looked something like this:

But what do you notice about that thing besides the fact that it's beige and very, very ugly?
It has dials and knobs. Yep. Right there.
Anyway, I used to lie on my bed and turn on that old wooden-cased radio and it took a while for it to start up because it actually ran on tubes but that was okay. I would turn the dial because there were two radio stations in town (AM of course) that played rock music and I could choose between them, depending on which one was coming in better that day. I would listen to the Rolling Stones playing Ruby Tuesday or the Beach Boys doing Little Surfer Girl or London Swings Like A Pendulum Do by Roger Miller or Don't Sleep On The Subway Darling by Petula Clark or As Time Goes By by Marianne Faithful or Eight Days A Week by the Beatles or Sunshine Superman by Donovan and all that lovely, groovy music would beam straight from that old box of tubes through the air and into my ears.
It was strange and wonderful and I loved that radio. I loved that music. I loved the way when I turned the knob to change the station the dial was connected directly to it and the long needle would point to the numbers and I could zone in to the correct place with that bakelite knob and there would be the Beatles singing to me, the Beach Boys crooning to me, Donovan getting down and getting funky talking about Mellow Yellow.

To adjust the volume I turned another knob up or down.
Oh, it was beautiful. It was elegant.

Now when I want to change the station on a radio I have to punch the fucking up or down thingee. It takes forever. It's insulting to the human brain and finger.

And the clock? Do you see this clock?

It was amazing. Every night you wound a little key on the back a few times and you were good to go for another twenty-four hours. The hands glowed in the dark. If the electricity went out, so what? That Baby Ben was still going to tick. And if it lost or gained a few minutes every week, you could just turn the little gold-colored knob on the back and get it right where it was supposed to be. You set the alarm by twisting another little knob until the needle was on the place you needed to get up. Then you pulled the knob out and you were set. When the alarm went off, you pushed it in. Done.

Let's say the electricity goes out these days. Your clock, your LED lit clock with the digital numbers goes out unless you have a battery back-up. Great. Now it's flashing 12! 12! 12! when the electricity comes back on and you, having slept through the power outage, have no idea if it's really 12:24 a.m. or 4:37 a.m. None! And you have to get up and find a watch or your phone and set the correct time by pushing those stupid buttons until you get the hour and the minutes set and since you're half asleep, you go by them six times and when you finally get that right, you have to reset the alarm with the same buttons but while holding down a different button from the set-time button and THEN, THEN, either the electricity goes back out or else in your dim and drowsy state you've set it at the correct time but for p.m. instead of a.m. and guess what?
You're late for work.
I fucking HATE those buttons.
Give me knobs! Give me dials!

Same thing with my stove. I love my stove. I do. But the stoves I grew up with had five knobs. Four for the burners, one for the oven. When you wanted to bake, you turned the oven knob until the correct temperature number was showing and that was that.

It looked something like this:

How fucking hard is that?
My new stove, which I do love, has a panel. Here it is:

So when you want to bake, you push the "bake" button, it flashes at 350 degrees, which I suppose is the most commonly used temperature for baking and if you want it to be higher or lower, you have to push those temp/hour buttons up and down. Five degree increments go by as you stand there with your finger on the sensor button. Da-da-da, datidah, etc. And then, because I always feel like THAT'S ENOUGH OF THIS FOOLISHNESS, I walk away and a little thing starts chiming because I did not push START.
Why is this better than a dial knob? Explain to me. And explain why I spend half my life setting the time on the coffee maker or the oven or the clock pushing little buttons, dit, dit, dit, dit, and then realizing I've gone too far and have to go all the way around again when if I had some damn knobs and dials, it would take half the time? And if things weren't so damn dependant on electricity which did not used to be- stoves, clocks, PHONES!- I wouldn't have to reset them all the time anyway.
Really. Who time-bakes? Are you going to put a tuna casserole in the oven before you go to work and set it to go off thirty minutes before you get home? No. Because you will die of salmonella if you do. Same with a pot roast.

I DON'T NEED TO SET MY OVEN SIX HOURS AHEAD OF TIME! I just want to turn it on to the correct temperature without having to stand there for five minutes with my finger on a button. I don't want to have to tell the oven that yes, I really do want to bake at this temperature after going through all that rigamorole by pushing the START button. Thank-you!
I want knobs! I want dials! Because those buttons are not making life any easier. They look more modern. They look fancy. The digital numbers are great if you're too lazy or stupid to learn to tell time! But I'm not. I can read a clock face. I can turn a knob so fast it'll make your head swim. I could turn fifteen dials to the correct temperature on fifteen old stoves before you could set the temperature for one new stove. Honestly.

Okay. I'm about done now.

But speaking as someone who has literally cried over the incomplete and incompetent directions on the written-in-Chinese-translated-to-English-by-someone-from-Mongolia booklet that comes with a coffee maker, I'm sick of this shit! I have a college degree! I can operate a computer! I can grow organic vegetables and I can use and ATM machine. Really! I do those things every day!
So why am I brought to my knees by a coffee maker?
Because in trying to make things easier, manufacturers have made things more difficult. There is no reason we are all wasting time pushing buttons to make things go up and down.
Can we start a movement? A bring-back-the-knobs-and-dials movement?
I admit it- I'm old. And I admit that some technology is GREAT! For instance, it's much easier to place a call using buttons than it was to use the rotary dial on old phones. Although I sort of miss that finger-in-the-correct-hole, traveling to the little hook and the click-click-click when you let it go. That was nice. But really, the buttons are easier.
And televisions would have to have a knob the size of Pluto to fit all the channels on it. But still, I have had to call my daughter in college to ask her how to get the remote off one function and on to another so I could watch a TV show. But look, I grew up with a TV like this:

Two knobs. One for the three channels we got and another for volume. That was it. There might have been another knob to try and control the flipping thing TV's used to do but that never worked anyway. And believe it or not, we had to get up and walk across the room to use these knobs! Of course, the screen was less than fifty-seven feet wide so we all sat within arm's length of it anyway so that wasn't a big deal.
Plus, we never lost the remote.

I really am done now with this rant.
But could we? Could we try and talk some sense into the designers of our sweet technological little machines? The ones we use every day? Could we bring back the knobs? Bring back the dials?

Oh. Wait a minute. I have an iPod. And it has...a dial. No pushing buttons to go up and down through a menu. A simple, lovely, elegant dial that you twirl around to get to where you want to go. And then you push the play button and next thing you know...
Ruby Tuesday. Sunshine Superman. Thunder Road. Wide Open Spaces. Lay Lady Lay.
Like that. Just turn the dial. Oh sure, they call it a wheel.
A wheel. They reinvented the wheel, those crazy, clever Apple people.
It's a start.
Do they make an iPod in wood? With tubes?
I'd buy it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It Was A Beautiful Birthday

A Birthday Filled With Her Light

It's Miss Maybelle's birthday today and I wrote about her birth-day last year and if you'd like to go back and read about a hippie home birth which occurred in Lloyd, Florida in 1978, you can find that story right here.

That was a good day, that one. The day my second child was born. All the days my children were born were the best days of my life. Those were the days the curtain parted and the "other" universe was revealed in a flash and a life safely slipped through from there to here and ended up in my arms, at my breast, and being a conduit for that sort of cosmic occurrence is something you neither forget nor take for granted.

And it's a heavy, heavy responsibility when we are given the honor of becoming the mother of a child. There are so many reasons to have a baby but none of them are good enough to actually explain why we do it. THAT'S how heavy the responsibility is. That's how heavy the potential for tragedy is because if we somehow lose that life, then there is no going back and every mother (and father, for that matter) who has lost a child has a certain look about them, a darkness of heart that never goes away. Ever.

When Miss Maybelle was fifteen years old she was hit by a car and when I got that call (Mrs. Moon, your daughter's been in an accident) one of the most immediate reactions I had was to wish I'd never had children because I could not bear it if she died. I could not bear it.

Thank every power that be she did not die and she is whole and she is healthy and she is so strong. So very strong. Although her bones hurt her every minute of the day and night, she is strong and whole. Probably stronger than she would have been had she never been hit by that car but I would gladly trade a little weakness for her never having to have gone through that.

Other things have threatened Miss Maybelle's life and if you've read her blog, you'll be able to figure out some of them. And I don't know why I'm thinking of those things today instead of merely (merely!) the glory of her birth, the first moment I held her, the way I studied her face in wonder, every bit as amazed at the miracle of her as I was at the miracle of my first born.
I'm thinking about that, of course, but I'm also thinking about what a hard road she's had to travel. She doesn't do anything the easy way. She wouldn't have been hit by the car if she'd taken the easy way to school- riding the bus instead of walking the miles to get there. Something I knew she shouldn't be doing but letting her do it because we were at that very hard place of mother and daughter and I was trying so hard to pick my battles wisely and in this case, I had chosen wrongly. I hadn't protected her and thus, her life was nearly ended and I would never have been able to live with the knowledge of that.

But you know- we can't hold our babies in our arms forever. We have to let them take those first tentative steps into the world and we have to let them run when they are able.
And no matter what we do or how hard we try to protect them and shield them and warn them and give them the information and skills they need to make it in the world as a fully-realized human adult, we can't prevent them from running down paths which are not safe, which are fraught with peril, which are lit incandescently with the promise of something worth the risk and they go and they have to explore and sometimes they go down the rabbit hole and if we're lucky, they remember to reach out a hand before the slip down entirely.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I want to talk about how incredibly proud I am of this child for pulling herself out of places that so many people never come out of. I want to talk about what strength and purpose she has. I want to talk about how I can't tell her that enough and how every day she becomes more beautiful. How smart she is, how full of wisdom and humor and talent. How if there were a fire in this house, I would grab the book she made me when she was still a child because it's the most valuable thing I own and then I would frantically reach for the dolls she's made me, the pictures she's painted me, the gourd she carved me, the Madonnas and mermaids she's made me. Those are the things I could hardly bear to lose.

But the thing I really couldn't bear to lose is her.
Her voice on the phone. "Hey Mama!" she always says. The long talks we have, the conversations about books and hopes and dreams, the way we tell each other jokes and the dirtier the better. The way our brains are so similar, the way her body feels when I hold her, as precious to me now as it was when I first held her.

We were talking yesterday and we were discussing a fella. "When he looks at me," she said, "I think he sees this beautiful and really smart girl and I'm just a regular girl."

Oh honey, I think.
Oh honey.

This past year has been one of huge growth for Miss Maybelle and she's working her way down some paths which are hard. Hard, I tell you! And she's doing that joyfully and with her eyes open and instead of the promise of heady risk, those paths promise only more hard work and quiet sobriety. One step at a time, she's walking down them. Not running towards a gaudy false light, but walking towards a sincere and true place, her way lit by stars and candles and mostly by the light of her soul, the inextinguishable light of her soul.

How I wish I were the magical Maria Luna of her picture so that I could have prevented her from the pain she's gone through. The physical, the emotional, the spiritual.
But I am not.
I am merely her mama.
Greatest honor of my life.

And of these days she's going to let some fella look at her with those eyes that say, "You are the most beautiful woman in the world, and the smartest, too," and she's going to relax into that and think, "Hey. This is the way I'm supposed to be seen," and when she falls in love with herself, she'll fall in love with the fella who reflects that in his eyes.
When she knows herself and sees the light of her soul, then she'll let love in.

Mr. Moon says that we fall in love when we see the reflection of ourselves we want to be in the eyes of someone else. He is very wise, that Mr. Moon.
I've been looking into those eyes of his for all these years and even though I don't think I'm actually the person I see reflected there, I surely want to be and he gives me the strength to try to be and when he sees himself reflected in my eyes, I think he sees the person he is trying to be.
We are all striving, we are all trying.

Miss Maybelle more than anyone else I know.

I remember looking into her newborn eyes and seeing the entire universe. The deep place from which all life springs.

That's still what I see when I look into her eyes.

I see the reflection of my better self, I see the depths of her.

And what I wish for her in this next year of her life is that she continues on the paths she is taking. That she learns to run on them, that she is able to run up the highest hill and know the strength of her body, her spirit, her heart. Know the unlimitless power of her determination and breath. To know that there is nothing which can stop her because she is, well, she is my May.

That we are here behind her, beside her, around her. Her daddies, her mothers, her brother, her sister, and whoever else she chooses to hold her hand out to.

And we are blessed by her light. And that we are so grateful she is learning to appreciate that.

My May. My solid piece of starlight, made visible and born into my arms thirty-one years ago today.

Happy birthday, my darling.
I love you. Thank-you for being here.
Thank-you for being strong.
Thank-you for the heart you share with us and the light you shed on us.

Look into our eyes and let us reflect some of that back on to yourself. Your glorious, shining self.
Happy birthday. You are busy being born.
I stand in wonder. I have counted your toes, I have looked into your eyes.

I have found you perfect. I have declared you whole, you strong, beautiful woman. My friend forever, my child, my baby. My May.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's Really Not The Heat

I rarely speak of the humidity. I mean, what's the point? It's always over 80% and I'm used to it by now but this morning when I got up, it seemed like everything was just WET. I mean, the crumpled sheets, the floor, the rugs. Everything wet. Parts of one of my porch plants just keep dropping off and hitting the floor with a thunk. A huge piece of the chinaberry tree out back cracked and is hanging by a broken branch. It's THAT wet. I wouldn't be surprised if part of my hand just fell off or the chickens got moldy and one of their wings fell off. You know what I mean? If you live in Denver, you do not.

I checked the little device Mr. Moon has on his dresser which tells the humidity and temperature and sure enough, humidity- 98%.
Thankfully, it's not hot yet so it's bearable. It's just...interesting.

So was yesterday.

had spent the night and we rambled around slowly and then took off to Monticello where we had lunch and stopped by the Opera House and then we went to Tallahassee where Honey dropped me off where Mr. Moon works and then he and I ambled over to the lawyer's office to sign the contracts. I've never met this person who is intending to open a pool hall at Moon Plaza and Mr. Moon's been trying to tell me about him without sounding judgmental or critical. I mean, this man is taking a world of work onto his shoulders and it's going to benefit us if it works out so let's not look a gift horse in the mouth. Right?
And well, my first impression was mixed but we all signed on the solid lines and by the time the whole deal was done and we'd admired the lawyer's massive knife collection and gotten out of there, it was time to get to the Black Dog.

I had such mixed feelings about having this gathering. I love blogging so much because it means that I can communicate with others without having to actually go to the trouble of meeting anyone but after two years, I find I DO want to meet people whom I've come to know over the blogwaves and so off we went, me in a red skirt and Mr. Moon with his tall legs and Miss Maybelle was already there, which made me feel good. Bless Miss Maybelle in her Pat Benetar t-shirt.

And then Human Wrecking Ball showed up and by golly, he was just as cool as I knew he'd be and sweet? Oh honey, that boy is sweet. And Juancho showed up and I already know and adore Juancho, and Harley came with his daddy and then his mama, Ms. Petit Fleur came and Harley amused us all with his three-year old doin's and Downtown Guy kept calling, saying he had to go buy catfood and so forth and how long were we staying?

Then Kathleen and Herb came and there we all were on the deck of the Black Dog and unbeknownst to me, the Black Dog has quit selling beer! which was a bit of a disappointment. Coffee is great but on a Friday afternoon at five or six, you're just about ready for that first cold one of the weekend if that is your inclination.

But we muddled through, completely sober and caffeinated and in the case of Harley, hopped up on a popsickle and the ducks were doing their duck thing on the lake and the oak trees were lovely and it didn't rain, even though the humidity was about, yes, 98%.

And there was good talk but me? I'm the one who never has parties because I know everyone is thinking, Jeez, why am I here? I could be out riding my bike or hanging out with people somewhere you can get a beer and there isn't even cake and WTF???!!!!

Although everyone was gracious and we discussed bloggary and blogation and blog-related issues and other things, too.

Finally we got hungry and Kathleen and Herb and Mr. Moon and I decided to go to Kool Beanz for supper and Juancho said he was going to go home to eat a can of beans for his supper and Brother Wrecking Ball went on home to his wife and children and Petit Fleur and Harley came back to Lloyd and Miss Maybelle went home to get ready for a meeting and make herself a nutritional dinner and that was that.

It was nice. I wish I wasn't so anxious about things because I would have felt more relaxed about it all and not so foolish (a bloggaversary party? for me? come on! and not even beer?! please! Etc.) but that's the way I am and so it goes.

We had a wonderful supper at Kool Beanz and then we came on home and checked the chickens (they were fine) and went to bed in our damp sheets.

Mr. Moon is going to work on building the chicken run and it's Miss Maybelle's birthday party tomorrow and we're going to eat grouper and quinoa and salad and all the kids will be here and her other parents, too. The house is just...a mess. The dogs don't like to go outside to pee or poop when it's been raining and so they've stealth pottied everywhere and when they DO go outside they get muddy and bring that mud in and roll around on the rugs and everything is damp and muddy and there's a vague odor of poopiness lingering everywhere. So I have my work cut out for me right here.

Plus I have a lingering feeling of anxiety about why I decided to have a bloggaversary party in the first place although it was in its way, really very much fun for me and perfect. Watching the Juancho-Human Wrecking Ball Show was worth all the anxiety and more. So were the hugs. Yes. The hugs were fantastic!

And I didn't take any pictures. What's up with that? Oh. Who knows?
I was wearing a bra and everything. Even some mascara!

So that's my report and I better go take a walk. The rain seems to have drifted off somewhere else for a few minutes and I really need to go check on those blackberries.

And then I'll get busy with this house and try to replace the smell of poopiness with Fabuloso and white vinegar and maybe I'll even make something crafty for Miss Maybelle involving the Virgin of Guadalupe and glitter.

Also, for the first time in a month, I'll be able to listen to Prairie Home Companion tonight as I cook supper and I am looking forward to that! Phew! I've missed the Garrison. Suffered from lack of the Keillor. And! And! And! I have three new begonias to plant!

So alright. Third year of blogging now officially begun. Humidity, humility, poop and begonias. Yep. Right on track.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And take my advice: If you plan a bloggaversary party, make sure beer is available.
And cherish the hugs. And deal with the humidity. But mostly- the part about the beer.

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pictures and Words

The first blog post I ever wrote was two years ago today and I talked about how dry it was, how unseasonably cool. The weather. Good place to start, right? I didn't post a picture with my words. I didn't know how yet.
A week later I wrote about being a hippie and about how my children were born.
And it went from there.

A year ago today I wrote a blog birthday piece here.
I love the picture I used there. In fact, I love it so much I'm going to post it again.

It's funny how quickly after I started posting that I learned to love the process of finding a picture to use with my words. I started off searching for appropriate ones in google images. And then slowly, I began using pictures I'd taken or ones my daughter had taken. She's got a natural eye and I do not. But still- it seemed more downhome and genuine to use images of my real world, a true reflection of what I was writing about. They may not be good pictures in the technical sense, but they are mine.
Just like my words. They are mine.
Here's a picture taken from a strip of four that lives on my refrigerator:

Mr. Moon and I had been dating for all of one month when we posed for it. We'd wrangled a way to get to go off together to New Orleans. He had a ticket to see Auburn play at the Sugar Bowl. And we, being in the newly-falling-in-love portion of life hopped in my car and drove to Louisiana where they were having the worst freeze in their history and there was no running water in the city and we had no place to stay and Mr. Moon never made it to the game and we ended up having the very best time of our lives.

Well, you know.

The picture was taken in a photo booth at Tipitina's. Honest to god, I think the Neville Brothers were playing but that's not what I remember. I remember being so tired and not really sure about why I was there or more specifically why I was there with this man who was six feet, ten inches tall, who I could already tell was going to ask me to marry him.
I remember walking into the bathroom and a woman was laying out lines on a mirror. She looked up at me and said, "You're not a cop, are you?"
"Oh hell no," I said, and went on into a stall.

Oh, my Voodoo Chillens- The stories I could tell about that trip. In fact, I've been trying for twenty-six years to figure out how to write the story of just one of the experiences we had and I simply cannot do it justice with my words. Suffice it to say that it involved marijuana, a deranged drug dealer, a giant dog, a true vision of future events, sheer terror, and professional wrestling. Also guns and a rug.
It was, as they say, a bonding experience for Mr. Moon and me. And could only have happened in New Orleans and I'm sure led to me sitting here today where I am.

So many stories.
Stories of how we got where we are today. Stories that put in a line make up a book that tells the story of a life or of lives together, like the pictures taken in a photo-booth strip tell the story of a moment in time.

When that picture was taken back on the last day of 1983, I was still the single mother of two children. I had no idea where the adventure I was on in New Orleans that night was going to lead me. To a life here in Lloyd where I live with that same man who gave me two more babies.
Four children in total, all grown up and one of them about to make me a grandmother.

The other night Mr. Moon and I were on the porch and we were talking about what it's going to be like to see our daughter Lily holding her own child in her arms that first time and we both wept. It seems like a few minutes since that picture above was taken. A few minutes and a thousand years ago. A few seconds since Lily was born and an eon ago.

It seems like yesterday that I started up telling my stories on this blog. I was so timid to begin with. I didn't put my picture on the blog. I didn't say I lived in Lloyd. I didn't know where I was going to go. I wrote about the weather, testing the waters, as it were, and then I plunged on in. That's what life is all about. I looked at that gorgeous man with that huge grin and he opened his arms and I snuggled on in. I had no idea what would happen. We never do, whether it's to get in the car and drive to the grocery store or accept a date with some guy who is way too tall. Whether it's to step out the front door for a walk or to read the homes-for-sale classifieds and then take a late-night drive down the interstate with the Beatles blasting on the stereo to drive slowly past one of the houses you've seen listed.

Whether it's to kiss a boy or to end up giving him your heart, your soul and your DNA to mix with his.

One thing will lead to another.
One word will do the same.
Since that day two years ago I have written five hundred and eighty seven posts, including this one.
How many words is that?
Too many, I'm sure.
But not enough, because I'm not done.
There is always another story.

We may start out timidly, discussing the drought but we might end up jumping in stark naked and swimming around in the starlit warm waters.

I feel as if I have done that.

In the past year I have definitely written about the weather. I've also written about the children, the coming-grandchild, the new president, the old president, going insane and trying to come back, the story of being sexually abused, flowers and chickens and tomatoes. I've written about stove repairmen, turtle feet and dogs and death. Again, always with death. And birth!

Music and friends and friends who play music.
Food and how to grow it, cook it, love it and hate it.
Aging and acting and birds and begonias and Christ and Crist and Cher and dates and daring to do new things and on through the alphabet to zinnias and then back again to aging.
I've abandoned all attempts at anonymity and ended up posting names, dates, locations and every damn thing except pictures of my own bare body.

Don't hold your breath for that one.

I've said all the bad words, I've lambasted religion, I've talked about sexual abuse, discussed politics until I was blue in the face. I've had the gall to post poems. I've not broken any rules because what rules are there to break? I have no paycheck and no editor. No one to answer to but myself.

And here's the amazing thing- people read this drivel, this dramatized doodlings of my brain. They've hung in here through it all and commented and by now, the blog is me and I am the blog and I've made friends from here to Ireland to the Netherlands to England.
I've got friends in Denver and Kentucky, California and oh hell. I have no idea where.
And you know what I wish? I wish I could meet every one of you. I wish I could see your real faces, hear your real voices, see how your legs work as you walk, feel how your body feels as I hug it to me, see how your heart reflects in your eyes, see your babies, your spouses, your dogs and your tomato plants.

But I can't. Not now. Maybe one day I'll have met some of you. I hope so.

And in the meantime, here we are, sharing all these things one word at a time. One blog post at a time.
They add up, don't they?
I know what you think or least what you tell me you think and I believe you know what I think.

Here's a picture from that same strip taken at Tipitina's.

In it, Mr. Moon is grinning that grin. What is he thinking? Is he thinking he has the world by the tail with this pretty woman he has in his arms? Is he seeing a future with her and does that future look like it's going to be all jumping for joy and adventures in magical places? I think he was.
And what was I thinking? Probably something like yes, there will be jumping for joy and adventures in magical places but there will no doubt be sorrow and death and hard, hard work and disappointment and redemption. But that maybe, just maybe, if we stuck together, it would be worth the jumping-in together.

And it has been.
Sometimes you just know.
Not everything but something.
And I am just so grateful (and rather amazed) there I have a physical snapshot of that evening, that night at the beginning of Mr. Moon's and my journey together.

I'm not happy with this post, this five hundred and eighty-seventh post. It's surely not my best one and I don't even know what that one would be but this one ain't it.
But it's the one I've got today.
The rain is still coming down for the fourth or fifth day in a row. Everything is SO green and the frogs are everywhere, so many that when we went out last night to look at the garden and check the chickens, we probably inadvertently mashed some babies who couldn't hop out of the way of our big, clumsy human feet fast enough.

I'm still in love with that man in the pictures. I don't know if he still thinks he has the world by the tail but he has me in his arms. I may not be the beauty I was then but I'm the beauty I am now.
I may not always get the words down I mean to say, but I get down the words.

Here I am. Today. Right now. No make-up, no jewelry. My hair hasn't even been brushed.

I still don't know what the future holds but I know I'll be writing about it, whatever it is.

And maybe I'll meet up with a few of you this afternoon at the Black Dog.

And look- I hate the word lurker. It sounds as if there was evil intent involved and I don't think that's the case here. But if you read and do not comment usually, I'd really love it if you left a word today. Think of it as a blogbirthday gift. The prodigal readers, as it were.
I'd slay the fatted calf for you. I promise. If I had one.
But since I don't, I'll just say thank-you to everyone who comes on this journey with me and who shares their journeys too.

Bless our hearts, babies. Bless our precious hearts as we string together words, as we pose for pictures, as we deliver them to the world to be weighed and measured.

Bless our hearts, our words, our dreams, our hopes, our sorrows, our fears, our comings and goings and our beings.

I'll raise a cup or a glass or a bottle to you tonight.
And then tomorrow I'll tell you about it.
And maybe there will be pictures.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Housekeeping (I Might Even Bake A Cake or Maybe Not)

When I was in nursing school, our anatomy teacher was a woman named Dr. Sparkman. She was also, at the time, the head of the entire nursing program at FSU. She ALSO had a PhD in music. And she was, to put it kindly, old and she looked it.

She had sparse gray hair she twisted up in a sort of bun, a false eye, and she was, well, lumpy.
But we adored that woman. She was sharp-tongued and funny. She demanded the best from us. If we complained about a test answer we'd gotten wrong with the words, "But I MEANT this..." she'd answer, "In nursing, you can kill someone by MEANING to do the right thing."

She taught us the liver, the heart, the electrical system of the body. She told us we should properly tell the people we love that we love them with all our kidneys because the kidney is the most amazing organ in the body while the heart is merely a pump.

She's the one who would stand in front of the class and say, with her fist in the air, "If you're going to sin, sin BOLDLY!"

And we would wonder what sins this old spinster had ever managed to eke out, while in our hearts we knew those sins might have indeed been quite interesting and probably bolder than we could imagine, back in the day when cars were called Horseless Carriages and she was a young thing with two good eyes and young, lithe body.

Anyway, she would often start class with the words, "Let's take care of some housekeeping," which meant she had something to say about upcoming deadlines or program-related necessary information.

Then she would ask us if we ever figured out why the shower curtain blows IN when you have the water running and none of us ever figured that out but that's another story.

So in the memory of Dr. Sparkman let me say that I have some housekeeping to deal with and here we go:
Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of this blog, this land of blessourhearts, this little piece of cyber real estate that I own, this window into my world, my soul, my heart. And blah, blah, blah, I could go back and point out what it has come to mean to me but since I feel I'm teetering on the need to go to rehab for bloggers anyway (NO!NO!NO!) I'm not going to do that. Today, anyway. Who knows about tomorrow? I may get all weep-whipped up and tell the world how much I love my blog and the fact that it's given me a way to communicate which still, after two years, gets me out of bed in the morning and has gotten me through periods of insanity and fear and loneliness and horror and given me so much joy and well...

Stop the madness!

Okay. Breathe in. Breathe out.

So I mentioned last week that I was thinking about having a blogiversary gathering for me, myself, and blessourhearts on the day and tomorrow is the day and I've got to be in town to sign a contract (for the bar! the bar! the bar we'll be the landlords of, not the owners of! which means someone else will be cleaning the bathrooms!) and so I thought after that I might wander over to the Black Dog for some coffee and if anyone who lives in the area wants to meet me over there we can, as I said, become over-caffeinated (sort of like I am right now) and go crazy and scream in high-pitched voices and oh hell, I have no idea.

Therefore I'm asking- anyone out there think they'd like to meet up at the Black Dog around five tomorrow afternoon so we can put faces to names and names to blogs and so forth? Because I do NOT want to sit there all by myself with my little latte, pretending to read a book while my heart falls with each passing moment because no one is showing up, not even my children.

So let me know if you'd be interested in this little gathering. Okay?


And remember: if you're going to sin, sin BOLDLY and please, if you happen to know why the shower curtain blows IN when the water is running, tell me because I've been pondering this question for over twenty years now and still do not know.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Boy And A Chicken

Since I have been sorely remiss in the daily chicken update, here is a picture I took today of Harley holding Suzie. His mother is helping because Suzie is more than a three-year old's handful these days.
I think she may be a boy named Sue.
I still can't tell which of those chickens are roosters and which are hens.
But Harley said something today when he saw them which I feel certain is true:

They're going to be real birds!

Yes sir. They are.
And Harley is going to be real smart.

Okay. He already is. And cute, too, not to overstate the obvious.

I Heard It On NPR

My goodness but it's been the strangest weather here. Yesterday was downright chilly. For us, anyway, who had already succumbed to turning on the air conditioner at night to sleep. We don't expect temperatures in the fifties at the latter part of May but here we are, reaching for the down comforters we'd already packed away, the jackets we'd thought we were done with for the year.
And the wind, it just keeps on picking up, like the bands that come before a hurricane, calm, still and then suddenly, it's as if a dervish had flown in to spin and toss and twirl the leaves and bend the branches, down and then up, over and around.
I am watching them right now and they are nothing if not dancing. A big clot of old branch just freed itself from the pecan and hit the roof, then tumbled to the ground.
Strange weather and so easy to divine portents and omens from such winds and chilliness, gray sky, calm then power, back to calm.
I listened yesterday while I walked to an interview with a woman who has written a book about the neuroscience of religion. Barbara Bradley Hagerty and her book is Fingerprints of God. She discussed how scientists have pinpointed the part of the brain where intense spiritual experience seems to come from. Not the part of the brain that makes you go to church on Sunday and sing hymns, but the part that the mystical, feeling-another-presence sensation comes from. The part that is activated quite strongly when Buddhist Monks meditate and nuns pray. The part that is activated during temporal lobe epileptic events, which is why 2,500 years ago Hippocrates wrote of epilepsy as The Sacred Disease. It caused visions and voices in the sufferers of the disorder, visions and voices which many thought came from god. The ones who experienced it often did.
The burning bush of Moses.
The voice of god telling Abraham to sacrifice his son.
John The Baptist, preaching in the desert.
Were these men epileptics?
Who knows?
But what amazed me about the interview with Ms. Hagerty was not what she had to say about scientists being able with electrodes to stimulate these same sort of visions and sense-of-presence that people have sought for eons with meditation, chanting, prayer, dancing, fasting, self-mutilation and who-knows-what-all. No, it was the way you could tell that she was using this scientific evidence to support her belief in god.
Her reasoning was that we humans are hard-wired this way by our creator to experience the presence of him. She referred to god as "him."
I found this very interesting indeed. She could be right. I'm not saying she isn't, but I am saying that this just goes to show that if you believe in god, you believe no matter what. I suppose this is what we call "faith" and if you don't, don't.
To me the whole brain-thing proves that visions and voices come from right inside of our own brains and interpretation is all.
When I was seriously ill once, I had that very same feeling-of-presence. Raised in a Christian culture, I interpreted it as Jesus. It calmed me.
Was Jesus really sitting there in a rocking chair beside my bed in a hospital in Winter Haven, Florida?
I don't think so.
I think our brains are wonderful and amazing and when we are physically or mentally most challenged, they kick in with all sorts of good drugs and yes, even visions and voices that calm and reassure us. I mean, a scientist with an electrode-wired football helmet can recreate these things. This, to me, is not proof of god, but proof that we have evolved in strange and wonderful ways. I don't see the fingerprint of god, I see the firing of neurons of a stressed (or trained, in the matter of the meditators, the prayers, the chanters) brain to help us get through a dire situation, just as our bodies release adrenalin when we need to lift a car off a child.
But then, I don't have the god gene.
Which doesn't mean I don't find comfort and joy in the way things work. It doesn't mean that I don't feel the wind and see the rain and see the grandeur in them. It doesn't mean that I don't see the miracle in the seed, the beauty in the brain.
But here's the problem for me- if my brain doesn't work correctly and the wrong parts get over-stimulated or under-stimulated and instead of feeling the presence of god, I feel terror and anxiety when there is no reason to, would I then have to believe in the fingerprint of satan? Would I have to believe that I am possessed by an evil spirit?
Because if I am to believe that when the brain gives me this feeling of other-presence, this all-is-one, all-is-well message that this is god's fingerprint, when the opposite happens, how can that be just a brain dysfunction?
Have you ever injured yourself severely? Severely enough to feel that rush of morphine-like chemicals the brain floods the body with when it's hurt? If you have, you know that feeling of calmness which can overtake the anxiety and pain of the injury. I think this is a beautiful thing and a way the body takes care of itself but hardly proof of god.
Ah well. We all see the fingerprint of whatever we want to see. And I'm of the opinion that we really know so very little about how our brains work, how things relate and communicate from one quark to another, from one mind to another, from one plant to another. But I think we should be wary of interpreting what we do know to mean that god is involved.
Because for every person whose temporal lobe is activated who sees a loving god, who receives a message of peace and love, there is someone whose temporal lobe is activated who receives a message insisting that god wants him to spread the word that the infidels must die. Or that adulterers must be stoned to death. Or that women who were raped must be stoned to death.
Or that the world's end is at hand and we must all drink the Kool Aid.
We have to be careful with this stuff, this god-stuff. Your god might be loving and tell you to spread the word of peace, my god might be terrifying and spread the word of death.
And the wind could portend a coming storm or it could simply be the result of a weather disturbance down in the Keys which will blow itself out in a few days due to wind shears and water temperatures and other things I don't pretend to understand but trust that someone else does.
Which doesn't take away the ominous feeling the wind gives me.
I guess what I'm saying here is that the more information we have to help explain the things we feel as well as the things we see, the better off we are and that it's sort of ridiculous to me to try and use that information in rather twisted logic to explain that yes, there is a god, and in fact he left this place in our brain which can be activated to prove that.
Gotta be careful with this stuff. We still have all the lizard parts of our brains and we have all this more highly-evolved stuff too. It's all in there because we use it all and sometimes it tells us that god is with us and sometimes it tells us that the sky is falling.
And it can allow us to decide whether or not either of those things are true.
But not proof of god, at least for me.
You can read about the book and the author here.
Interesting stuff for our amazing brains to toss around and contemplate like the wind tosses the trees, like the sky contemplates the earth, like a soul contemplates the meaning of it all.