Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Night At The Moon Residence

I am not even kidding you.

Another Post About The Weather, But Not Really

You know what? I have posted 1053 posts since May of 2007.
One thousand and fifty three. Fifty-four, counting this one.
And I am frankly amazed. Whether I am amazed that it's so many or whether I am amazed that it's not even more, I am not sure.

When I started out with my very first post, I timidly discussed the weather.
And how many times have I discussed the weather since then?
Oh. Countless times.

I thought, when I began to blog, that I would quickly run out of things to say. Haha! I post more often now than I did a year ago and a lot more than I did two years ago. An entire day never passes that I don't post. A morning, maybe, but not an entire day. It's addictive behavior on my part, I am sure, not to mention my grand sense of needing to be heard, needing to be wanted, needing to communicate, needing to WRITE.

I write because I am selfish. Until I get a post up, I feel itchy and twitchy and mean, an addict needing her fix. The computer is the needle. The words are the drug. Weekends are hard for me because Mr. Moon is here and he quite reasonably expects some conversation out of his wife, his partner, if not an actual breakfast. This morning I made him bacon and pancakes. I learned something, too- buttermilk can go bad. But you can still cook with it. Unless we get sick later on- in which case I will acknowledge the fact that you can cook with it but you shouldn't.

After breakfast I told him I was going to go out to tend the chickens and asked if he wanted to go. Yes, he did, but hold on because he had other things to do outside and so he wanted to dress for those activities, to make the cup of coffee he was going to take with him. The microwaving of it (because it's never hot enough right out of the pot) and the stirring in of the sugar and then the putting of it in the thermal cup with a lid. I thought I might silently go mad, waiting for him. I had already made the breakfast while putting away last night's clean dishes, read a few blogs, read part of the newspaper, had a phone conversation with Jessie who wanted to know if she could wash a down comforter after a cat had peed on it, washed the dishes I had used to make the breakfast, etc. Talk about multi-tasking. Honey, I can DO that.

But I can't do more than one thing when I write. I have to sit down with no one around and do it. By myself. And although Mr. Moon never complains about the time I spend doing that- sitting by myself with my own words- and sometimes even delights in what I've written or the pictures I've posted, he doesn't get my need to do it.
Just as I don't get his need to hunt.
And hunting season is over, babies. Well, there are a few places he could still hunt and he'll suddenly say something like, "I could go up to Blah-Blah's, I suppose. Still two more weeks there," as if we'd been discussing hunting all along, as if hunting was something that I, too, think about approximately twenty-three and a half hours a day. But I know what he means. And I nod and say, "Uh-huh."

I'm used to it. Just as he's used to me whipping out the camera and taking pictures of everything from him ("Wait, wait, my hair is all fucked up") to whatever it is we're having for supper. He isn't thinking about the blog twenty-three and a half hours a day but he just finger-combs his hair or waits for me to take a picture of the egg pie before I cut it and give him some.

I'm thinking a lot about relationships lately. How different everyone's is and how no one knows what goes on in a home when the doors are closed to the world. Part of the story I have been talking about the last few days involves two people who, having been in love for a long time, finally made the decision to go public, to leave their spouses, to join together in the light of public scrutiny. And there is plenty of public scrutiny, believe you me.
There is judgement galore. I'm looking at it like this, though- before there were four people who were very unhappy. Now there are two people who are very happy and two people who can now try to find their own happiness in the light of the truth. Is that cold? Isn't that, too, judging in a way?

Of course. But I have been that other person. I have been in a relationship where I knew that my spouse was not only not faithful to me but that he was, indeed, probably in love with someone else. It is not a good way to live. But there were so many reasons not to face the truth. So many reasons to pretend that all was well. Until, finally, the reasons weren't good enough and the inevitable break-up was devastating and so hard that I never want to go through anything like that again but it led to me being where I am now and so, for that reason alone, was worth it.

But it's all a reminder that relationships cannot be ignored. Compromises have to be made. There is no perfect partner who understands every whim of the other's heart. Every need of the other's soul. But just being there and loving and saying, "I don't understand but here I am and thank-you for these pancakes and you have all day to write if you need to," is more important than anything I can imagine.

When I was having such a hard time the other day, Mr. Moon called me and asked if I needed him to come home and hold me. I told him no, I'd be okay, and I was. But I will never forget his offer. Never. He would have done it, too. And that was enough. And he has never once looked at me at this computer and said, "God damn! Do you know how much time you are wasting?" And I try very hard to encourage him to hunt and to fish and to do whatever it is that feeds his soul.

I just always want to be a part of that. To be a part of the feeding of his soul, just as I enjoy feeding him his supper. His breakfast. His lunch.

No one can take care of any other person's every needs but in taking care of some of them, we take care of ourselves, do we not? And when two people have found that- the person whom they want to take care of, whom they support when they do whatever it is that takes care of themselves (within reason, of course, and my reason may not be yours), they are lucky. They are so very lucky.

Well. There you have it. Post number 1,054 or something like that. Another rambling discussion that went from here to there. And the weather? Cold and gray.

But warm inside the doors that are closed because of the cold. The doors that keep out the world but that open to the world, as well, usually depending on the weather.

And this blog is a doorway, isn't it? Or at least a window. Peek in if you want, walk by, if you want. Nothing going on here that isn't happening in every house everywhere.
Perfect imperfection and generally, we are sweet to each other.

I am tap, tap, tapping away here on this keyboard, he is tap, tap, tapping away on a car he is fixing for one of our children. We will come back together again soon enough.

It's cold and gray but there is color if we have love in our hearts. Thankfully, we do and truthfully, I would wish that for everyone.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Long Does It Take

For one tiny hen to rejoin the flock after her tormentor is gone?

One week.

Betty is back in the coop with the other chickens of her own accord, unscathed and unpecked. So far, at least.
She is nervous as hell but she is a brave little hen and is holding her ground.

Now. If the other chickens can just grow back those Sam-scratched-tail feathers, I'll be perfectly happy.

This Day

A gray, drizzly day and once again, Elvis is trying to coax his hens out with his manly cries.
He's not having much success. They are huddled up on the roost, resting.

A perfect day for us to have our Owen. His Pop-Pop is home today and gave him his bottle.

He was still fussy so his grandmama had to take him ("here, give him to ME") and he snuggled up on my shoulder and we rocked and rocked and he flirted with his grandfather who was sitting behind us and eventually, I felt the full weight of him relax and he was asleep.
Such sweetness.

And I need to go out and tend to those chickens and I need to wash the dishes. I made Lily and her daddy egg sandwiches this morning. Speaking of chickens and eggs, I found the hen's outside laying-place. I knew they had to have one. It was tucked up between two bales of hay and I found a stash of five.

And beyond that, the tending of chickens and a grandson, washing the dishes, I don't have a thing planned for today, which is lovely. My dreams these days are so full that I don't need to do a damn thing during my waking hours to have led an exciting and busy life. Do you know how many people I entertain in my dreams? I cook and I clean and I clean-up and there are SO many folks in my house. The other night I was trying to bread fish for baking and make pecan pies at the same time. Did I have enough pecans? Did I have Caro Syrup for the pies? And oh, the number of dirty dishes I had acquired, doing the egg and milk soak for the fish and then the flour and corn meal. And people were waiting. They were hungry.

It's a relief sometimes to wake up from these dreams, realize that no, my house hasn't become the top party spot in the southern states. It's house.
Where the rain is running down the seam in the tin roof and where, in the bathroom, I can hear the rain beating down on the roof above me, so comforting, so lovely.
Where yes, there are dishes to wash, but not that many.
Where our boy sleeps in the hallway and will wake up with smiles for me and his grandfather.
Pearl stands guard as he sleeps. She finally has a baby to tend.

All is well. All is well.

And that story? Well, I can't tell it yet and don't ask me to. I will when I can. And I probably won't use names but it's a story of love and pain, unexpected romance, Romeo and Juliet without the Montagues or the Capulets but plenty of small-town, Bible Belt judgement.
Can I just say that people need to get their noses out of other people's business and get them back in their own asses where they belong?

Well. Enough of that.

I am appreciating what I have today. I am listening to the rain patter off the leaves. I have a sleeping grandson in my hallway, a beloved husband in his den.

I have much to appreciate at this very moment in time, much to recognize as blessings, and the time and space to do that.


Friday, January 29, 2010

What I Am Looking At Right Now

It's Friday

Well, I tell you. No. I can't. But boy, do I have a story to tell.
Can't tell it yet but I will say that things sure can happen in small towns. And that when those things happen, it's HUGE!


It's drizzling here and I'm going to town to go with Lily to get our hair trimmed. I'll keep Mr. Dolphin Zombie-Arms from harm while Lily gets her hair trimmed and then she will do the same for me. We were going to do this last week but there were tornado warnings, flash floods and so forth. Then I'm bringing Owen out here to keep so my day is full. And my heart is better.


I opened up a suitcase I was going to take to the Opera House for a prop and found inside of it a cache of Beanie Babies. This brought to mind the old days when Lily and Jessie were young young'uns and if they'd been good girls that week, I'd take them to the mall to pick out a new Beanie Baby. I laughed when I saw all those funny critters. I always knew that no one was going to get rich collecting them but I liked them just for themselves.
But the best part was that in the collection I found this:

A rooster! For Owen! Hurray! So see- those little critters DID turn out to be a good investment after all.

Well, Mr. Moon is talking to me about the Toyota recall. I better go eat some cereal and get dressed and get my ass to town.

Happy Friday, y'all.

Love....Ms. Moon

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Winter Walk

It was because I am struggling with the depression again that I had no words this morning. I still don't. Well, I do but they're all so familiar and who in the world needs to hear that shit again?

Sleeping too much, overwhelmed, always tired, guilty, guilty, guilty, etc.


It becomes such a physical thing, depression, to the point where you don't know if it's all in your mind or your body and where is the dividing line, anyway?
So I took a walk. It's such a beautiful day. I took my camera. So here are some pictures and I do feel some better although Jesus, I would love a nap. Since I slept for approximately 10 hours last night, I sincerely doubt I need one though.


This is proof I got up off my ass and walked out the door and into a small part of the world, a part I find always beautiful. I have done this before, taken pictures of my walk, one only last August but things are so different in January. Click here if you want to see the contrast.

I have written about this old, falling-down abandoned house several times. In fact, one of my favorite posts was about the wallpaper inside of it and now I can't find it to link to. Oh well.
One of these days I'm going to walk by it and find that it is no longer standing. I see it shifting and sinking and leaning upon itself more and more all the time.
But for now, here it is.

That wallpaper.

Are the wisteria vines pulling it down or holding it up? I can't tell.

A strong oak branch, host to Resurrection Fern. If it had not rained recently, the fern would be brown and dried up and I wouldn't even have seen it.

A particularly nice beard of Spanish Moss.

The receding lake which the creek has made. See those palmettos there in the center? They do NOT grow underwater. Normally. I saw two ducks rise up and squawk their way into the sky right before I took this.

Which reminds me that I saw two hawks mate on this walk today, too. I have never seen hawks mate. They do it with more elegance than chickens. Believe me.

The little hidden graveyard in the woods.

A gopher tortoise hole where, when I am lucky, I see the turtle himself, sunning. He moves so quickly back into his hole that I am sure I will never get his picture. He is big.

A path made by animals. I have seen fox and deer both cross the trail from this path.

The railroad tracks and our post office which is the old train station.

Two of the amazing oaks in Ms. Petit Fleur's yard. She is my next door neighbor.

My yard from outside the fence.

New shoots coming up on the hydrangea.

It is nap time yet?

I guess I'll wash the dishes and try to put it off a little longer. Feed the chickens some grapes. I hear lots of clucking out there so perhaps there are eggs today.

Keep going, y'all. Keep moving. There are things to do. There are things to see.

Proof. I have proof.

God. I'm sleepy.

I Don't Have The Words Today

Except to say that I am grateful for each and every one of you who comes here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reaching Out To Accept Grace

It's interesting what happens when you take the camera out to play. I had been working outside, doing some trimming up of dead things and putting more plants in pots to give us a little more cheer here while winter is still upon us and I saw the moon coming up and decided to take her picture. I wanted to get something like this

with the moon rising up over the house and the dead branches of the pecan trees reaching out for it but when I downloaded (uploaded?) my pictures onto the computer I found that I'd taken one that made the moon and the branches look like a smile. That's the one at the top of the post. A happy little moon-face, right?
Life is funny.
And yeah, go ahead and quote me on that one.

I spent some great, good time with Pam today. I offered to go with her to get her mammogram because dammit, no one should go to those things alone. Not to go into the room with her, of course, but just to ride there with her so she could have someone to talk to and then to sit in the waiting room while she was getting smushed. Afterwards, we went back to her sweet, light-filled house and she made me lunch and I wondered when the last time it was that someone made me a meal that I didn't pay them for. She served me on her pretty blue and white plates and made mint tea in her pretty blue and white tea pot and we drank it out of pretty blue and white cups with matching saucers. There were real yellow tulips on the table and the house felt peaceful and she told me stories of raising her son on her own and of her mama and her daddy and we talked and talked. Pam is one of those people who says things like, "Once, when I was in Finland..."
I wonder what it's like to live a life like that. She has sung all over the world and yet, at heart, she is a woman who has found her sanctuary in her snug house now that her son is grown and she is retired from teaching. One of the ladies at the Women's Clinic recognized her from a class. "Hello, Ms. Laws," she said, and Pam said, "Were you one of my puppies?"
"Yes m'am," the girl answered and I thought about the fact that not only has Pam sung all over the world, she has touched the lives of thousands of kids in her classes. She taught English and Jazz History (I think) and I'm sure the people who took her classes came away knowing far more about far more subjects than just English and Jazz. She's that kind of person and I know she was that kind of teacher.

And even though I certainly have never taught a class or sung for anyone (okay, that's a lie but a long story that I may tell another day) we both agreed that our grandsons are the most important part of our lives. We nod in agreement when the other describes what it's like to have our grandsons put their arms around us or let their bodies sag against ours, seeking comfort.

I felt bad when I left her house because she wouldn't even let me take my plate into the kitchen, five steps away. I'm not used to that sort of thing. I am used to chopping and stirring and cooking and then cleaning up. I'm used to putting the plates on the table. It's hard for me to be a guest, to accept with grace another's grace to me.

I don't know how to do it. It's easier for me to muck out the chicken coop than it is for me to allow someone else to make me a lunch. Isn't that odd?

So after I came home I put on my overalls and went out and worked in the yard and I remembered how important it is for me to do that. I thought about how Pam and I had talked about Autism and Asberger's Syndrome and how, when I got into my car to leave there was, quite amazingly, an interview with Temple Grandin, perhaps the most noted of all American Asberger's Syndrome people on NPR and I wondered if that's what I have. It is, as she said on the interview, such a broad spectrum of a diagnosis and maybe, just maybe, I've had it all my life. It's possible.

And so what if I do have it? Blah-di-blah. Ain't nothing going to change. I'll still have a hard time with social interactions. I'll still find my greatest comfort in the dirt. And here I am, fifty-five years old and just starting to figure this shit out. Shit like how my brain works and how maybe I have a form of Autism.

Or maybe I'm just an old lady whose genes dictate that she gets her hands dirty and grows camellias and takes care of chickens and babies, who has a hard time accepting the grace of the people she loves.

I don't know.

The moon doesn't care. She rises and makes a smiley face above me or looks disdainful, depending on how I frame her.

Well. Whatever. I know I can't and do not want to give up interactions with people whom I love. Who make me think. Who care for me. I can't spend my entire life here, huddled in Lloyd with my yard and my chickens. Because not only do those people care for me. I care for them.
And I know they enrich my life.

It's hard, forcing myself beyond boundaries. I do it here on this blog.

And the moon shines down on us all, smiling as we try to figure it out.

I doubt I ever will figure it out. But I sure did enjoy that lunch. I surely did appreciate those tulips.

I may not understand myself but I know grace when I see it. And I saw and experienced it today.

I know that. I do.

Theory Of Something

I heard a great program on NPR a few weeks ago about the brain and how we actually make decisions. The author of a book on the subject said he got interested in the whole idea when he was sent to the grocery store to buy Cheerios and stood there in the cereal aisle for thirty minutes trying to figure out which Cheerios to buy- the Apple, the Cinnamon, the Regular, the store-brand, the name-brand, etc. and it freaked him out.

I have often been in that situation in the grocery store. Too much choice! I yell inside my own head where hopefully, no one but me can hear it. And I stand there reading labels, comparing price, and wishing that it didn't seem as if my very life hinged on what type of cereal I bought.

The author (and I'd look him up but do I have time? No. I do not) talked about how our brains can actually only hold a few things in them at one time and there is the logical part of the brain which we would THINK would be the decision-making part and there is also the emotional part of the brain which is far more important in deciding which sweater or cereal or baggies to buy. People who have had the emotional part of their brain destroyed or removed are paralyzed when it comes to decision-making. Completely paralyzed.

And he talked about another study in which people had been given a two-digit number to memorize and another group had been given a seven-digit number to memorize and then both groups had been offered a snack- which involved a choice. Either a nice, healthy fruit salad or some chocolate, gooey confection.
The people who had memorized the two-digit number were overwhelmingly apt to chose the fruit while the seven-digit number people chose the chocolate.

Which seems to indicate that the more shit we have going on in our brains, the less will-power we have.


And yet, think about it. When we're stressed, when we have too much on our minds, our will power goes to shit. Our decision-making becomes more and more emotional and difficult. We all know this.

And it was like seeing a book of knowledge open up to hear about these studies because it suddenly all made sense- our national problems with obesity and addictions, our life-styles, our inability to make and follow through on plans for healthier living.

And of course, our general insanity.

I think my brain is one of those which can hold only so much before the needle goes in the red zone and it is somehow reassuring to know that there is a reason for this. That I'm not alone. And that's what I'm thinking about this morning as I have a full day of things-to-do planned. Some of them things I really WANT to do, and yet, are out of my regular schedule and so, my brain is fussing with details and I have a sense of anxiety and I feel pressured, even though there is no logical reason.
Logic has nothing to do with it.

I've often said that humans are the result of some alien genetic experiment between themselves and the apes and some people are way more ape and some people are way more alien. Now THAT little scientific tidbit has not been proven, of course, but it sure does explain a lot.

And I think I have a strange mix of ape-alien inside of me. I want desperately to create, to experience, to reach-out, to DO, and yet, an even stronger desire to follow and pick the ripening berries, to make my nest comfortable and safe, to tend to the infants, to tend to my family-tribe.
And when things like lines for a play, plans for a day, jumble up in my head, my decision-making, my emotions go haywire and I feel paralyzed.

Well. That's it. I'm going to try and remember this as I go about my day. Try to breathe and be in the moment, clear the slate in my head of all those seven-digit numbers, and make good choices and dammit- enjoy what I can.

And please remember- I am not a doctor, I am not a scientist, I do not even play one on TV. I am just an ape-alien woman who has thoughts sometimes and hears things on the radio which, of course, adds to the clutter in her ape-alien brain and her theories are merely that and please- do not try this at home without consulting a professional.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not Batshit Crazy In This Case, Just Mouseshit Crazy. It's Not As Bad.

It wasn't a bat that I saw in the small refrigerator where I store grains and pastas IN ORDER TO KEEP THEM PROTECTED FROM BUGS AND RODENTS- YEAH, THAT'S REALLY WORKING OUT WELL, ISN'T IT? It was a mouse.

Now I swear to God that what I saw last night was black and had wings. Was I hallucinating? Was there really a bat in there which flew away when I turned my back to get a towel? Or had the bat just landed there and THEN flew away because the refrigerator was already inhabited by a mouse?

Ah. The eternal mysteries of my life.

Anyway, Mr. Moon got down there and tried to catch the mouse (whom he described as "just walking around the shelves," but the mouse was quick and scurried under the big refrigerator. Now how a mouse got into the damn kitchen appliance is a mystery but besides being fast, those creatures are wily. And that word always reminds me of the family doctor we had when I was a child whose name was- and I kid you not- Wiley Koon. There was also a funeral home in Winter Haven whose name was Crisp-Koon.
It's probably still there.

But I digress.

So. After Mr. Moon bravely scared the mouse under the refrigerator (where it still is, I presume), I cleaned out the tiny refrigerator and threw away a great deal of grains and pasta. Dammit. Also a mason jar labeled Do Not Drink! For Topical Use Only! which may or may not have contained illegal medicinal substances. But I've never used it for any purpose whatsoever so I threw it down the sink.

The fun never ends here, does it? Nor does the wildlife in the house.

Well. Sleep tight everyone.
Sweet dreams.
See you in the morning.


Been a big morning here at Casa de Pollo Loco.

We've studied dogs and what they do: sniff butts, play, nap.

We've had a bottle and a teeny-tiny nap. Just long enough for CCG (Crazy Chicken Grandma) to get the diapers in the dryer and take a shower. Dishes? Oh. Who cares?

The boy is full of smiles today. It's sunny and not too cold.

I think it's time for a walk-about in Lloyd.

Here's Owen demonstrating the Zombie Arm move as he attempts to take over the computer.

Not yet, my boy. Not yet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

He Is A Beautiful Boy

It was baby-world for me today. I had Owen for a few hours this morning after the Great Bat Escapade and Lily couldn't wait to show me his new trick. He can sit up. Sort of. He wobbles and leans but he is getting there.

So many muscles it takes to sit up straight! So much that boy has learned and accomplished in four months. And the amazing thing is- we all do this! I did it, you did it, your children do it and yet, even though that's what people do when they are babies, each and every new accomplishment is reason for celebration. As Lily said when Owen got those first two teeth, "I had nothing to do with it but I sure am proud." I had even less to do with it, but I was still proud too.

Owen was in a good mood today. We giggled and played and went to the post office and looked at the chickens and had happy-baby-time when I changed his diaper. Owen loves nothing more than having you right there in his face, chuckling and tickling, running his legs and making him patty-cake by holding his little arms. Actually, his not-so-little arms. The boy is beginning to chunk out. He is STURDY! And so strong. He is four-months old. He is not an infant by any means. He can scoot in his walker and today I had to remove some dried palm fronds because he got to them and began to pull them out of their vase.

And as we all know, life will never be the same.

I am thinking I might have to buy a vacuum cleaner, which hurts my heart. Or perhaps I just need to sweep and mop more. I don't know. No matter what, the black dirt of Lloyd is going to make its way into my grandson's clothes and skin as yet another child crawls across the wide pine boards of these floors. If you put him on his belly, he desperately wants to move. He can get his butt up in the air and he can get his head up in the air, but not both at the same time. He will figure it out soon, though. This is a boy who wants to GO!

I took Owen back to his mama in the early afternoon as she was only working a short day. And I stayed because Billy was going to bring Waylon over for Lily to take care of for a few hours until Shayla got off work. Shayla has recently had to go back to school teaching which, up until Waylon was born, was the main reason that woman got up in the morning. She is THAT teacher. The one who changed your life. She works at school where the population is mostly what we might politically and correctly call something politically correct but which are, in fact, poor kids who may or may not have one parent raising them, and hardly any of them have two. And then when she had Waylon, every bit of that maternal, nurturing heart of hers turned inside out and she became one of those mothers who can't bear to be as far away as the next room from her baby. So going back to work has been devastatingly hard for her but the simple fact of the matter is, they cannot live on Billy's salary alone and so...
Back to work she has gone.
And it is killing her.

So anyway, Billy dropped off Waylon, taking him out of his car seat where he was sleeping to snuggle him before he left to go to his work, because he is one of those daddies who lives and breathes his baby and then Lily and I had such fun with those two boys. I held Waylon and Lily held Owen and Owen was almost desperate to get his hands on Waylon. He looked like a zombie, his little arms stretched out in front of him to touch Waylon, to see what he felt like, to rip his face off. I often feel like Owen wants to rip MY face off the way he grabs and pulls on my mouth, his fingers hooked into it. Oh. It was a fun baby-time with those two boys whom I love. Waylon laughed at me and talked to me and when he got fussy I gave him a bottle of his mama's milk, snuggled down next to me and I felt like I'd been given another gift, his big eyes studying my face while Lily nursed Owen.

When Shayla got to the house after work he was asleep in the swing. "Go ahead," I told her. "Pick him up. He's your baby." And she did, holding him close to her and I almost cried at the way she looked as she held him. Like a mama welcoming her Marine back from Iraq, like a mama holding the child she had missed all day so much that she thought she'd die.

Waylon is fine but I am worried about Shayla. Lily was the same way when she had to go back to work. She knew that her son would be okay in my care, in his daddy's care, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was- would the mama survive?

And so far, Lily has survived just fine. She leaves her boy with me and she knows he's going to be all right. "Have fun with your crazy chicken grandmaw," she says as leaves. And she's okay. And every day I tell her, "Thank-you for trusting your boy with me."
And every day, I mean that.
Every day I see him growing. Fatter, stronger, funnier, and more beautiful. I SEE that. I am her eyes when she is not there. I am her arms when she can not hold him. I am her mother and I love her son in ways that are as mysterious and important as anything on earth.

And I want that for Shayla, too. That peace which comes from knowing that her son is being loved and seen for who and what he is while she is earning a living. While she is tending to other children with her great, giant, loving heart.

All babies deserve this. Your babies, my babies, their babies.

To be held and loved and comforted and encouraged and laughed at and talked to and nurtured. And I am so grateful to be a part of Owen's life and be that for him. And for Waylon's, too, when I can.

"Do you know how much I love you?" I tell my boy when I change his diaper. And then he pees on me and I laugh and when I wash his diapers I am in complete and utter disbelief that yes, again, I am washing baby pee-pee diapers. My hands and fingers know how to put those diapers on like you wouldn't believe. Diaper-changing is a dance my hands know how to do. I imagine that on my dying bed, you could hand me a baby and my old, arthritic hands would know how to fold and wrap the diaper around that baby and would know how to tickle his tummy and make him laugh.

And I would laugh too. And I hope that Lily and Shayla know how much joy their babies bring me. How every time their babies smile at me, my heart beats with contentment.

Crazy chicken grandma.

I can't think of anything I'd rather be.

I can't think of anything else I was meant to be. Watching the wheels go round and round, as John Lennon said when his son was a baby. I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and I hold out my arms and grab a baby, pull him towards me, feel joy that I never knew I'd feel again.

Thank-you, Lily. Thank-you, Shayla. You loving mamas who have given this old mama something to do with her dancing hands. Babies to love with her beating heart.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Owen is coming soon, soon and I will be making his mama an egg sandwich to send her off to work with and then I'll be cuddling that boy and maybe I'll put him in the sling and we'll go out to check the chickens and inspect all the branches yesterday's storm slung into the yard. Can I just say that having one of the world's oldest water oaks in my yard is not something I appreciate? Those damn trees, unlike the live oaks, are generous with their branches, donating them like old men who give their cast-off ties and shit-beat shoes to Goodwill.
Pecans are pretty generous trees too, when it comes to branch donation.


There's a critter living above the ceiling on the porch which sounds as he weighs at least forty pounds. I heard his ponderous tread above my head this morning and worried that he would fall through the boards above me. Sometimes I wonder how many animals live in this house with me (and I am not talking about the dogs or Mr. Moon) but mostly I'd just rather not know. I am hoping that when spring comes, they'll pack all their bags and head back to the woods where they belong. If they don't, they'll roast up there. This will not smell good, oh my beloveds.


Rehearsal last night went pretty darn well. As Larry David would say, pret-ty, pret-ty well. We are learning our lines, even me, and as we do, our characters take on shapes and lives of their own. I think it is a sign that this is a funny play in that we still crack up at certain lines. Either that or we are all old and easily amused. That, too, is fine because hopefully, our audiences will skew that way too.


Having just written about the critters in my house, a black object came swooping across the porch and at first I thought, logically, BIRD, because they do get in the house some times but NO! IT'S A FUCKING BAT AND GOD! I AM AFRAID OF BATS!
I have no idea why but it may be all those years of watching horror movies and it may be their little dog faces and their leather wings and black toenails and NEITHER JESSIE NOR HER FATHER ARE HERE TO USHER THE BAT OUT AND BESIDES THAT, WHERE THERE IS ONE BAT, THERE ARE MANY!
My heart is beating like a drum. But I did take a picture:

No. It's not a good picture but believe me, I had to put on my big girl panties to take that one.

I have the doors from the house to the porch closed and the screen door to the outside wide open and I am praying the little mammal finds his way outside.

Oh Jeez. What a morning and as Lily said one time and which Mr. Moon and I often quote when things around here get just a bit too wild:


I'll report in later and let you know how things have gone. Hopefully, I'll still be human and not a vampire.

Good Lord.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Color On A Gray Day

Well, it's gray as hell today and the wind is whipping in spurts and starts, pulling the magnolia leaves along in a sort of rusty-sounding dance. And the day before yesterday was like spring and I could smell the warm dirt and everything felt like a sweet, kind promise. And then the day before that we got so much rain that when I walked down to the creek two days ago to see how high it was, I couldn't even cross the open field after the path through the woods because it was all flooded and the trees were growing out of the lake the creek had made when it had abandoned its banks and spread with ferocious purpose as far as it could reach.

Crazy weather, here, y'all and if what I read and hear on NPR is true, it's crazy where you are too.

But in the midst of all of this, there is color, there is life. Even the creek has its own life, one day calm and trickling over the white sand bottom, polite and cheerful, chuckling as it swirls around fallen trees and branches, the next day it is no longer a creek but a flood plain, brown water covering formerly dry ground.

But it is Florida, after all, even if it is North Florida, which is not anything at all like South Florida (which is why we live here) and there is color. The freeze nipped the camellias but they have come back, their blossoms like treasures I find as I walk around the yard. Here are some:

They make my heart so happy.

I love the tiny violas. Can anything be more cheerful, more sweet? Such an old-fashioned, romantic flower:

Even in the house, there is blooming. A spider plant sends out shoots with blossoms:

It won't be long before the azaleas open up and gift us with their purples, their pinks, their lavenders. They are not subtle, those azaleas. I love to cut huge branches of them and bring them into the house but the best is when the azaleas and dogwoods bloom at the same time and I cut branches of those too to stand up in the vases with the azaleas. The whites against the purples- that is something to look forward too.

It's Sunday. We're eating oatmeal, I have rehearsal this afternoon and we're supposed to be off book. Ha! My brain is still sieve-like, the lines going in and falling out with a clunk on the floor beside me and there is a good chance I'll end up weeping on the old boards of the Opera House looking for them before the day is done.
I hope not.

The chickens are figuring out the new arrangement in the coop. Elvis is pacing nervously about, wishing his hens would come out to greet him but they, so traumatized in the past few weeks by Sam, show little signs of wanting to come out at all, but sit huddled inside on the roosts. I am hoping that with patience and time they will forget the pain and suffering they've been through and will become the happy, clucking girls they are meant to be and will begin again to lay me their beautiful eggs of brown and green and blue.

I think I will go out now and throw some corn into the coop, see if I can tempt them out of bed. The next time I go to the store, I am going to buy them grapes, no matter how much they cost. They miss their grapes and I miss the offering of them to the hens, their quick pecks of acceptance, their satisfied clucks of enjoyment.


And I did. I took them the kitchen scraps and everyone came out to eat except for Betty. I left her food and water in the hen house because it's going to storm and I don't want to let her outside and besides that, I want with all my heart for her to find her way back into the sisterhood.

All seems peaceful. I wish you could hear what Elvis sounds like when I give him treats. It's a low-throated Ahhh, ahhhh, ahhhhh. I hope he's a good rooster for me, now that Sam is gone. He is so pretty.

And the hens have given me this:

Peace in the coop, peace in the nest, peace to you all.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Winter Celebration Of Sorts

It sort of freaks me out how easy it was for me to quit thinking of Sam as a rooster I'd raised from a chick to meat. I had wondered if I could really do it. I had fretted about it, discussed it, pondered it and worried.
And then it happened so quickly and there was this chicken in a bowl, so clean and beautiful and I put him in the pot and I boiled him and it was no longer him, it was it.
And part of me thinks there's something wrong with me, something hard and mean.
But part of me thinks I'm just a realist. And let me tell you- that was good meat.
I took all the meat off the bones and the leg meat, the dark meat, was so moist, so beautiful. And all the while I was doing it, I was perfectly aware that this was the meat of the bird I'd had to chase away from my hens this morning. And you know what? It didn't really bother me at all.

Now let's talk about dumplings. I was raised on Yankee dumplings- the ones that are fluffy and more like biscuits than anything else. I just take some self-rising flour, add a bit of baking soda and enough buttermilk to make a moist batter that I can drop into the boiling broth off a spoon. But Mr. Moon was raised on southern dumplings. These are more like pasta and even though I have his mama's recipe, I have never made them properly. They turn out like thick wads of dough. But because he was the one to sacrifice the rooster, I made the southern dumplings. They weren't as wretched as the last ones I tried to make but they weren't that good. I think perhaps I don't roll them out thin enough. Shit. I don't know. Maybe I'm not as southern as I think I am. But here is Mr. Moon's mama's recipe for dumplings:

3 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. shortening
1 egg and enough milk to make very stiff dough

Mix this up and roll it out on a floured board. I would say to roll it out pretty thin. Thinner than I rolled it out tonight. Cut strips with a sharp knife and then cut dumplings in diamond (slanted) shapes from the strips. Place them carefully in the the simmering broth which has the chicken, carrots, onions, celery, and garlic in it. Also, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, celery seed, salt, and whatever sounds good to your taste.
Cover and let the dumplings simmer until they are cooked through. Serve in bowls with plenty of the chicken, vegetables and dumplings for each serving.

Jessie made a salad to go with this of arugula from the garden, avocados, tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella and a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, sesame seeds, lots of smashed garlic, and a dash or two of soy sauce.
This was an amazing salad.

I also made mashed potatoes, which is overkill but damnhell, they were good.

I have so many leftovers. I wish you could all come and stop by to eat some. You've certainly gone through a lot with me to get to this point and I, for one, have learned a lot about myself, my husband, chickens as animals, pets and meat. And you know what? I feel really good about all of it.

Isn't this how we're supposed to eat? Consciously and with gratefulness? I think so.

And now, in a completely unrelated topic, I would like to say that Heather and Mike Spohr, after having gone through the very worst that a parent could go through last year, have a new daughter, born last night. Her name is Annabel Violet Spohr and she is a beauty. Go here and see if you haven't already.

The Reign Of Terror Is Over (Bethany- You Might Want To Skip This One, Honey)

Well, it is done. Mr. Moon girded his loins this morning and went out and took care of business. I was talking to May on the phone while it was happening and I could sort of see what was going on but I sort of couldn't and Elvis crowed and I thought it was Sam, pleading for his life and I yelled, "Glen, wait!"

He looked up and said, "Too late."

And I was, I must admit, vastly relieved.

Sam was a fine-looking rooster. Absolutely.
But dammit, this is what my hens look like:

Now that ain't right. They're traumatized and not laying the way they should and that man bird was going to kill them all eventually and although it's one thing to make a pet of your chickens, it's another to be so stupid and sentimental that you can't use common sense.

So. It is done. And it was done well. Mr. Moon caught him easily without a struggle and cut his head off with one quick slash. Sam never knew what hit him and yesterday Sam spent the day in the yard, free as a...bird...eating whatever he wanted, going wherever he wanted and I'm sure he had a good night's rest and we should all have such a swift ending after such a good life. God knows he had plenty of sex.

And Mr. Moon scalded him and plucked his beautiful feathers (which I am saving for who-knows-what?) and cleaned him. And then I'm going to stew him all day and we'll have chicken and dumplings tonight. Jessie is coming out to join us and maybe Lily and Jason and Hank, too. And that's the way it should be. If you're going to eat meat, you need to know where it comes from.

I remember once my friend Liz was talking about how when we were all back-to-the-land hippies, trying to live off what we could grow in our gardens (mostly yellow squash) and soybeans we got at the Food Coop, that if we'd just had the gumption to go hunting or raise some meat, we'd probably have made it. We disdained the rednecks for hunting but they knew what they were doing.

Anyway, blah, blah, blah. We killed a chicken. Big fucking deal. People do that, you know? All over the world, people kill chickens and think nothing of it. We're so far removed from where our food comes from, both the vegetable and the animal, that it's a huge thing for us. Isn't that odd?
And look at this:

There he is, plucked and clean (my husband is amazing) and he looks sort of skinny, doesn't he? Well, that's what a real yard chicken looks like. He's never been pumped up on hormones and force fed and not allowed to move around. Thus- a not-very-fat bird. Think about that for awhile- how the chicken we buy from the store is nice and plump for a reason. An unnatural reason.

So Mr. Moon has done his part and now I'll do mine. I'm going to ease him into a pan with water and garlic and onions and herbs and stew him slowly all day long and when the meat is falling off the bone, I'll add celery and carrots and onions. Then I'll make dumpling dough and drop that into the broth. And we'll eat some and I'm thinking that this might be the best chicken I ever ate.

Rest in peace, Sam. You were a fine rooster, despite that fact that you were a Super Freak, and we will all be so grateful for the nourishment you provide.

And Elvis better watch his P's and Q's because now we know how to deal with recalcitrant roosters. The polygamous hens have a new husband, the coop has a new Cock. I hope he isn't inclined to use his cock as often.

The King is dead, long live the King.

I hope my hens' feathers grow back, I hope that Betty's head now finally and at last will heal and perhaps she can eventually rejoin her flock.

And that's what's happening in Lloyd, Florida, way out in the country on Saturday, January 23, 2010.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Night

We went on a date. It was really, really fun.
Sleep tight, y'all.
Count your blessings.
I am.
Ms. Moon

From The Past To The Plastic Present

Well, all I can say this morning is thank all the powers that be that dog vomit doesn't smell like human vomit or I'd be dead. I mean really- holy mother of God- what did that dog eat?

So okay, I have that to say and also that Cypress Gardens is about to become Legoland.

Legoland? Really? I can't even begin to process this information.

Cypress Gardens as I knew it has been gone a long time and that alone makes me sad. Begun in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope who planted the gardens themselves on a beautiful lake in Winter Haven, Florida, it was for many years one of the biggest tourist destinations in the state. Back in the simpler times I grew up, it was a fine place for a school to take a field trip, for a family to visit. I remember going there sometime in the early sixties before I lived in Winter Haven. We piled onto the school bus and Aunt Flonnie, our lunch room lady AND our bus driver drove us from Sebastian, Florida, to Winter Haven, our little grade-school bodies trembling with excitement and anticipation, our brown-bag lunches in our hands. We had been on two other field trips in our elementary school career- one to McKee Jungle Gardens which was pretty damn exciting and one to a local dairy where they gave us chocolate milk and led us out to the fields to see the cows. Even that was exciting to a bunch of kids, most of whom were dirt poor and never went anywhere but to school and the local corner store.

So...Cypress Gardens! That was just unimaginable. And it did not disappoint. The gardens were beautiful. Even a fifth-grader could recognize that.

But the water ski show! Women and men doing amazing things on two skies, on one ski! on NO SKIES! Jumping and twisting and turning and flying through the air! Oh my.

And the Southern Belles in their beautiful dresses posing under trees in front of banks of azaleas,

but I have to admit that the thing that stuck with me the longest was the gift shop.

Yes, the gift shop.

Shopping where I grew up was limited to the grocery store in nearby Sebastian and the little store in Roseland where Ralph and Joy Holtzclaw lived behind the store and when you came in with your six cents to buy a popsickle, Joy would come out from the mysterious world where she and Ralph lived and cut it in half for you and your best friend with the same knife she used to cut bologna with. For real shopping you had to go fifteen miles down the road to Vero where you could buy clothes and go to the A&P or the McClure Drugstore where you could also sit down and order a BLT and a coke. And that was it, babies.

So the gift shop at Cypress Gardens was a thing of wonder indeed. I don't even remember what they sold. Cream orange blossom perfume, I am sure because I bought some and wore a tiny bit every Sunday to church.

I actually lived in Winter Haven from the sixth grade through high school and C-Gardens, as we called it, was still very much a big part of the community. I knew people who worked there, we visited it occasionally, it was the backdrop for many of the group pictures in my high school album, but when Walt Disney came on the TV and told the world he was building a new Disney Land, right there in Orlando, the simple world as we knew it began to slowly die. And of course, eventually, the Mouse did eat Florida and that was that. The Snake-A-Toriums, the Parrot Jungles, the Monkey Jungles, the Alligator Farms, Weeki Watchee, Silver Springs- all of those beautiful old places faded as all the old tourist roads were abandoned for the one Big Highway that led directly to Walt Disney World with its monorails, it's huge hotels, its A-Ticket rides and its Cinderella's castle. Cinderella? I don't know. One of those damn princesses.

And Cypress Gardens lost its luster. The Southern Belles dresses grew more tattered. The water ski show looked silly and dated. And who wanted to see a real garden with plants and trees from all over the world when they could go to Disney World where the boxwoods had been tortured into Plutos and Goofies and there was an entire giant plastic tree with the Robinson's Tree House in it? Who wanted to hear the corny ballpark organ playing behind the ski show when Disney put on a real parade with a marching band and fireworks every night?

Who needed a junky gift shop when Disney offered a shopping opportunity on every corner of Downtown USA in the Magic Kingdom?

They tried to keep it open, Cypress Gardens. But there were no more Van Johnsons and Esther Williams to come and film movies there. The Magic Kingdom ripped all the enchantment of the Old Florida right off and sucked it into itself and left the old tourist destinations which had enchanted and delighted kids and their parents for decades looking decidedly dowdy. Real parrots shit and real monkeys do too, but there is no shit on the streets of Disney World. There is no litter at all. And who needs to see a genuine Seminole Indian fighting a genuine Florida Alligator

when you could get on a boat and ride around the fake and plastic jungles of Disney's Jungle Cruise where fake, plastic crocodile animatronics threatened you from the bank of the fake river

or when you could stand in line for hours to get on a little boat that took you through a Small World and where you could be reminded that yes, it's a small world after all, and here it all is, right here in the maddening world of constantly singing puppet dolls, dressed to represent all the peoples of the world?

Yeah. It's a small fucking world and you can see it all in one day at one location. Past and present, future and foreign. Pay your admission to Disney and you don't have to worry that you've missed a fucking thing.

Ah yah. So now Cypress Gardens is going to be Legoland and I can't even imagine how that's going to work. I guess it's going to look something like this:

I have nothing against Legos. I really don't. I think they're swell. But what in god's name do they have to do with Florida?

Well. I'm stuck in the old Florida, let's face it. I grieve for its passing. I live in in a house which has stood witness to that passing and yet remains.

And I suppose that right now there are children everywhere who cannot wait to go visit Legoland. I'm sure the gift shop will be mind-blowing.
But there will be no cream orange blossom perfume to be found. Not one tiny orange tube of it. I don't know if there will still be gardens and I seriously doubt there will be death-defying water skiers but there sure will be plastic.

And that's what the world wants now. Plastic and plenty of it and that's what we're going to get. I'm just glad I won't be around when that's ALL there is. When the planet is buried in plastic. Plastic trees, plastic jungles, plastic crocodiles, plastic titties, plastic houses, plastic flowers.

Well. Welcome, Legoland. God knows Winter Haven needs the jobs and tourist business you will bring. We move on, we move on.
And some of us are stuck in the past. Me being one of them.

Little girls will go to Legoland and beg their parents to buy them amazing Legos to build their dream worlds and that's not so bad. But I remember when little girls went to Cypress Gardens and wanted to become this:

Or this:

Or went to Weeki Watchee and wanted to grow up to be a mermaid.

Magic? Enchantment?
Yeah. There used to be some here.
There still is. You just have to know where to find it.

And right now I need to go take a walk in the woods of Lloyd while the woods are still here. And maybe I'll pick up some of the damn plastic on the side of the road on my way home.

I do what I can. It ain't much but it's what I can do.

Happy Friday, y'all.

Love....Ms. Moon