Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Close-up of the stem.
Okay. I guess I've finally learned my lesson.
I think that my favorite hen, Shalayla, is gone. I haven't found any feathers but she's not around. Owen and I were on the front porch this afternoon and I saw Elvis standing in the corner of the front yard. Something about the way he was standing- as still as a statue- gave me a little frisson of fear. The other three hens were standing back in the bamboo, hidden, and I told myself, "Aw, nah. She's fine. She's on the nest." I'd just seen her a few hours earlier on the front porch.
But she wasn't on the nest and I haven't seen her since and it's getting on towards sunset and she's not with the other sister-wives and usually, by this time of night they're all together, getting their last bits of bugs and sips of water and letting Elvis have his good-night sex with them before they go to roost.
Mr. Moon told me not to let them out of the coop. And yet, I did.
Lord- how many times have I saved that hen's life? Our old rooster Sam couldn't get enough of her and he pecked an honest-to-god hole in her head and practically skinned her back when he fucked her and I treated her with a salve made of golden seal and antibiotic ointment and we killed Sam and ate him because he was mean and we couldn't tolerate that.
Life in the 'hood. What you gonna do? Keep those sweet hens and Elvis shut up, no matter how much they want out, no matter how much I love watching them scratch around the yard.
Besides that, it's been a good day. Owen kept me running, kept me busy.
Do you remember when Roseanne was Roseanne Barr and first started her career? Not unless you're of a certain age, but she did this bit where she talked about her husband coming home from work, looking around the house and saying, "What in hell do you DO all day?" and she said, "You get home and these kids are still alive, I've done my job."
I have to tell you, that line gave me a lot of comfort in the years when I had kids at home from the ages of thirteen-down-to-newborn. Four of them.
And with Owen, that's my job too. Keeping him alive. And every day he's learning things and doing things that are making that harder and harder.
Just today he learned to open the gate in the fence. He's been trying to figure this out for some time now and today, he did. He walked right through it and looked at me and raised his hands in the air in victory and jubilation and I just went, "Aw, Jeez."
I turned my back for one second when he was in the house and he was halfway up the stairs.
He handed me a knife that you could use to gut a pig. I don't even know how he got it.
And when I was fixing his lunch in the kitchen, which is about five feet away from the dining room, I said, "Go on in and get in your high chair."
He went in the dining room and slammed the door and I put his food on his plate and took it into the dining room and he wasn't there. The door into the Panther Room was shut. The dining room is not a big room, y'all. I wondered if he'd been transported, perhaps even Raptured.
"Owen, where ARE you?" I didn't panic but I was mystified and I know how fast he can get in trouble so yes, I was a bit worried. Finally I opened up the closet door, and there he was, giggling at having figured out how to add another dimension to Peek-A-Boo.
Again- Aw, Jeez.
And then this- we were in the garden and were picking green beans. He had one in each hand. "Two!" he announced.
Do you know how profound that is? He knows the concept of two. More than one. Two. We do count things around here. Mostly eggs. Now beans.
He put on my red cowboy boots and was walking around with them on. They come up to his hips so he's all straight-legged and he's falling over and getting up and taking pigeon steps and he's laughing and I'm laughing so hard that I had to sit on the floor. We laughed and laughed.
That's all one day. One day. And I had him yesterday so it's not like it's been a month.
And so it goes. Hawks get hens and boys learn new things. We went for a walk today and there was a train stopped behind the post office. We wheeled over and checked it out. Two giant engines and Owen was entranced. Finally the engineer (or the guy who sits next to him), slid his window open and waved at us. We waved back and watched him drink his coke, watched him check his notebook. Finally, the airbrakes let off and the engines revved and the whistle blew and slowly, slowly, the train moved away, the heartbeat rhythm chug, chug, chug and we were entranced. We saw puppies on our walk. "More and more" as Owen said. Lots of puppies. More than two.
It's been a good day except that Shalayla is gone. I weeded cucumbers, I found one ready to eat. The tomatoes are really coming in. The yard-long beans are at least nine inches long. I killed two yellow flies. Smack. Done. I'm going to eat curried vegetables again tonight.
Mr. Moon may be home tomorrow. He's flying out of Las Vegas late tonight and I miss him so. Whether he needs to stay at his sister's and finish up some painting there will determine his arrival here. I've almost forgotten what it's like to have a husband.
Yeah. Probably not.
I still know how to ride a bicycle and it's been quite some time. Longer than a week.
It's been a good week in Lloyd. Except...
I'm a bad chicken-mama, wanting to give them freedom and offering them death on the wing instead.
Well. I kept that boy alive.
I've done my job. For today at least, I've done my job.
Owen's been here since a little before six this morning but we went back to bed for quite some time.
We've let the chickens into their coop and fed them some bread and now we're having our smoothies.
Owen keeps wondering where Bop is. Me too. I miss that man.
Well, now the boy wants me to go outside with him.
Here I go.
Monday, May 30, 2011
And he did that thing where he throws himself against me and falls asleep again and then I do too, fitfully, though, his sweating head on my arm.
Summer. Naps. Sitting on the porch. Not moving much. You just can't imagine the heat unless you live in the south, so wet and thick. It's not quick-heat, not flash-fire, it's almost solid in its humidity, its denseness. You can't walk through it without feeling as if you might fall to your knees. And the bugs. Aw, Jesus, the bugs. The damn yellow flies are the worst. They are built like supersonic aircraft and they are more stealthy than anything the military has come up with. They land on you without you realizing it until you feel a horrible stinging, burning and then you go to slap them and they fly away with amazing slyness and if you do manage to get one, they splatter blood everywhere. Your blood.
And where they've bitten you- all fourteen places on your ankle, it swells and itches and those are sons of bitches, those damn things. And yet- they need our blood to live and even in my hatred for them, I have a bit of respect for the way they've evolved to get what they need. I can see a purpose there, even if it does not serve me.
Memorial Day in Lloyd.
I have such a hard time with these holidays. We are supposed to remember those who have sacrificed their lives in the wars and I can't get past the fact that if no one anywhere allowed themselves to be sent to war, no one would die but of course, that's not how it works. The old ones are smart. They know they can fire up the youth whose breasts burn with the need to prove their manhood and teach them to be killing machines and they'll go out and do their bidding. One more thing that fucks up my mind. It's almost like honoring those who have served and died is honoring the wars themselves and I cannot do that.
The endless miles of graves and crosses, stars of David and flags.
I hate that shit.
Don't make it glorious. It's just bad-death. Wrong-death.
Owen wanted me to put a necklace on him today. It was just a cheap thing, but simple and pretty, and I put it on his naked neck and I looked at the way it fell on his baby-boy chest, the pure skin, that miracle of human skin that covers the miracle of the human body which contains the miracle of human feelings and love and I wanted to weep with the beauty of it.
"Off," he said, and I took it off and hung it back up but that image will stick with me. When he is here, I love to let him go almost-or-entirely naked, his body so perfect that it seems a shame to cover it up.
How do women who have raised baby boys (and now girls, too!) allow them to go off to war to risk the tearing, the ripping of that skin?
They have no choice. They have to let them go.
What can they do? What in the world can a mother do to prevent a child from going to war?
But is it a glorious thing to sacrifice your child?
No it is not and no wreath laid on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier (he was known to someone!) is going to make it so. No playing of Taps by a white-gloved soldier is going to make it so. No honoring, no gratefulness, no memorial is going to make it anything but death.
That's what I'm thinking right now and maybe I'm just addled by the heat, by the bugs, by the air, by the trees' leaves turning yellow and falling off.
Or maybe I don't have the gene.
All I know is that I am grateful beyond belief that I never had to send a child off to war. That that sacrifice was never asked of me. Look- life is tenuous enough, just in its living.
There ain't no glory in its dying.
I don't care how many flags you wrap it in.
And I wish that no mother ever had to accept a flag into her arms as her child is lowered into the ground because there is no flag ever made whose worth, even symbolically, is one tenth of a molecule of her child's living, perfect skin which covers that child's living, beating heart.
And so on Memorial Day, this year, at least, I am going to think not of the dead- they are gone from here and do not suffer- but I am going to think of the mothers and the fathers and the sisters and brothers and grandmothers and grandfathers and lovers and children left behind whose suffering will be with them until they draw their own last breath.
And I am going to wish that at some point our evolution will reveal the truth- that war is not and never will be holy nor glorious and that the thing we must do is to beat our swords into plowshares so that we can prove ourselves in the growing, in the nurturing, in the creation instead of in the death.
But that's what I think. And I'm not going to apologize for it, either. And I am not going to apologize for not believing for one second that any god- yours or mine or his or hers- would ask such a ridiculous thing in his or her name. If there's any damn one place in the Bible that will turn a thinking-person off of religion (or at least the God-Given-Truthfulness of that particular holy book) it is the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him.
Any god that would ask a father to kill his son in His name (even if it was just a test! even if He was just foolin' around!) is not a god I care to associate with. And any government who asks of a mother or a father to do the same is not one I am completely comfortable with. Or ever will be.
I honor those who have lost a loved one. I wish them peace. And I am fully aware that this is no more comforting than a piece of heavy cloth sewed in strips and stars of red and white and blue, which, cradled in arms, still leaves a vast emptiness where there was once a sleeping baby, a loving person, a human being who was alive.
Four years. Of this.
When I started the blog, the first post I wrote was about the weather, the drought we were experiencing. And here we are again- smack dab in the middle of another. Drybone, drybone, dry-leaves-turning-yellow, falling-off-the-tree drybone.
I remember that then, four years ago, I felt this need to do something, even knowing that I could not do much beyond water what was in my yard and that didn't even extend with any effectiveness past the smaller things. The giant oaks were on their own, although I do admit to taking a hose and hanging it over the railroad fence and letting it run on the biggest oak in this yard, one of the biggest I've ever seen anywhere.
I knew it would do no good but I couldn't help doing it.
This year I feel no compulsion to water the giant live oaks. Perhaps I have come 'round in my thinking to be less co-dependent, even as to applies to wildlife. I don't know.
Maybe I've just become resigned. This could be. I wake up every day and I'm resigned to what is and I've not got the energy to fight certain things.
I don't see this as a good thing.
I just see it as the way it is.
I am resigned.
A lot has changed in four years. Jessie has grown up, gone to nursing school, graduated, moved to Asheville. Lily has gotten married, had my first grandson. Perhaps Owen has something to do with this resigned inertness of mine. I see in him the inevitability of life and its continuing in one form or another and besides that, I am busy taking care of him, ensuring that continuation in my own grandmother way. I have chickens now. The garden is a good one this year. I have my chores to do, my little life is designed around them, the taking-care of what I can reasonably take care of and frankly, not much else.
In a way, I rail against my resignation. I see it as a personal failure on my part. Oh, not the fact that I don't put the hose on an oak tree which is probably four hundred years old. No, more like I'm not trying to change the world in any way. I am not doing research to cure cancer or even writing letters to the editor of my local paper. I am, as John Lennon said, "Sitting here watching the wheels go 'round and 'round." And then, as he also said, "How I love to see them roll. No longer riding on the merry-go-round. I just had to let it go."
Ironically, that was written when he was in the midst of a coming-back. He took the guitar off the wall and he and Yoko went back into the studio and together recorded one of the most beautiful albums ever made. To my mind, anyway.
Right before he died.
Owen is coming very soon and will be here today with me and in that way, I am on the merry-go-round. I race after him, he is always on the horse in front of me and there is no way to catch up with a 21-month old. And there are dishes to put away from last night before he gets here. Oh, what food we had!
And really, that's all I plan to do today. Take care of that boy, keep things tidy around here, move the hose around a bit.
The Serenity Prayer is one of the simplest pieces of advice ever. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
The hard part is, of course- the wisdom to know the difference.
And what is resignation and what is serenity? What is letting-go and what is being a fucking lazy ass?
I don't know. And even if I do, maybe I'm just tired.
Move the hose. Water the beans. Change the boy's diapers. Do the laundry. Tidy up the kitchen. Accept the fact that there is no rain in sight.
Toss around my thoughts here.
For now, today, that's enough.
What do you think? What is acceptance and serenity and what is giving-up?
What is choosing your battles and what is letting others fight them?
What is worth fighting for or against and what is just...not...worth it?
I don't know.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
I swear. Sometimes that is all you want.
Well. Too fucking bad. It's my blog. I write it for me. Come along if you want, click away if you don't.
Sorry. Didn't mean to be offensive there.
You know I've been listening to the audio version of Life for the past week and it's been so glorious. The first few chapters are read by Johnny Depp and I don't think I need to say anymore about that beyond the fact that not only is he Johnny Depp, but he's a good friend of Keith's and as such, has a fair inkling of what the man is saying in the pages. Lovely.
Then there's an actor/musician who reads named Joe Hurley. Joe has a terrific voice and he does justice to the words as well. And then suddenly, near the end of the book, Johnny comes back again. What? Okay. Love it.
And then after a few chapters, Johnny says, "And now for the maestro himself, Keith Richards," and there's Keith The Real, his cigarette and whiskey gummed voice ringing clear and he chuckles as he reads and you can hear the pages whisper as he turns them and sometimes he sounds a bit slurry but in a very sharp way if you know what I mean, and it's pure joy. Pure joy.
I've said it before and I'll say it again- I've never read an autobiography in my life with such good stories, written with such humbleness, such respect and honesty. He gives credit to everyone he's ever learned a lick from, everyone who ever influenced him at all from the greats to the unheard of. Yeah, he kicks Mick's ass, says he has a "tiny dodger," calls him "Brenda" but as he says, "He's my brother and if you say something bad about him, I'll slit your throat."
And he makes it quite clear that the greatest joy of his life has been writing and playing with that very man, that Brenda.
I'm almost through with the last CD. I swear to you- I'm about to cry. Now what? Will I go back and read the damn book again with my eyes?
Oh god. No. Of course not. That would be...obsessive.
Not now, anyway. In a year or two, maybe. Or maybe the whole Keith thing will fade for me. I don't know. I don't really think so and I'll tell you why- I think he's a fascinating human being. He's not only pushed the envelope, he's kicked it wide open and he's mailed himself naked across this world of ours and I see him soaring through space with whatever guitar of his is the favorite of the moment. I see him hit that first chord of Start Me Up, I hear that murky chuckle, I think of him with his kids and grandkids and dogs and wife around him, standing in the kitchen at 3 a.m., making himself some bangers and mash because he's hungry and that's what he loves to eat.
I'll tell you something else: I think if he's your friend, whether you're Mick Jagger or Charlie Watts or Marianne Faithful or some guy he's met in a bar in Jamaica, he's your friend forever.
"I respond to kindness," he says.
So. Whatever. Keith, Keith, Keith.
Almost done. For now.
It's a beautiful hot day here in Lloyd. I survived town. I'm making potato salad. I've swept the house and put the clothes on the line and am watering blueberries and I'm listening to old Keith, and friends will be coming over and there's a watermelon on ice. I'll mix up the baked beans with brown sugar and onions and molasses and a little bit of ketchup and I'll bake them for awhile and man, that's good food. I've been a hermit for a few days now and it's been grand, just me and Keith but it's time to reach back out to humans who can converse with me, hug me, be hugged by me. The people I know who respond to kindness. As do most of us.
I hope you're having a good day. I hope that at the core of whatever it is you're doing, there is kindness. I mean honestly- isn't that just it? We should be kind to one another. It's so very little to ask and yet, kindness covers so much ground that it makes this life so much easier for all of us. So much better and richer and more comfortable.
I'm sure Keith would agree.
Amen and bless us all from the Church of the Batshit Crazy.
2. It's also a very long one.
3. Soy milk can do in a pinch if you don't have coconut milk and you want to make curried vegetables. Yum.
4. Staying up and reading until all hours is so ridiculous. But hey- I'm almost caught up on Vanity Fair! Now to attack the New Yorkers.
5. Dreams are just fucking weird. Add hormones to Lexapro and they get even weirder. And sexier. But damn. Even in my dreams nothing happens. Nothing. Shit. My moral boundaries are set in stone, bordered with concrete and razor wire. Even in my dreams.
6. I need to get to town if we're going to eat baked beans this evening. Town seems like a dream itself, as far away as a cinema in Paris, even though it's only ten miles down the road. I have become a hermit with Mr. Moon gone. It took one day. Suddenly my hair is completely nasty, my legs are those of a hairy beast, I have lost all my bras. I have to do some repair work before I go to the store or small children will scream at the sight of me, adults will avert their eyes and press their children's faces to their breasts.
7. That's not a lie.
8. Headline on the Tallahassee Democrat this morning:
FBI Seeks Public Aid In Outing Corruption
Bureau's Crackdown on Government Fraud Focuses on Tallahassee
10. In other words- situation normal, all fucked up. SNAFU
And as always, the birds in my yard neither know nor care and as such, all is well.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
And this late afternoon, after my nap, I spoke to dear Sarcastic Bastard Beloved and also her Mom, as they were having a drink on her deck in Buttfuck, Ohio and that was lovely. After I spoke with her (that sweet, sweet woman- you have no idea) I sat down and made a new phone list which was a task sorely overdue. Say what you like about the memory on your cell or home phone- there is nothing quite like the paper list on the side of the refrigerator and mine was so old that there were numbers on it of people I will never be able to reach with a phone, either via land-line or cell, again. After I'd made my list and printed it out I folded up the old one and put it in that stack of things beside the microwave where I keep old Virgin of Guadalupe calenders and records of my nursing license and stuff I have no idea where else to keep. How can I just throw away a list that still has the numbers of my Lynn, my Colin? I can't. Not yet. Maybe in a year or so.
And then, as I was watering the front porch plants, I started thinking that I would love to do a memory piece here. When Mr. Moon is out of town, my usual prolific posting schedule becomes even more ridiculous and I don't care. This is my joy and my heart, this place where I set things down in words, part essay, part family chronicle, part connection to the world.
And I flipped through the files in my head and I thought that I wanted to do a happy memory.
It's so hard to find one there.
I think that for some reason, I have stored mostly the sad ones and even the ones that start out happy, end up with darkness. There were wonderful times when my grandfather read books to me and my brother. And when he played checkers with me, teaching me to jump and collect the pieces I'd jumped on my side of the board. And when he'd take us fishing on his dock in Roseland and the time I caught a sting ray and landed it and he stood on its giant flapping wings with his rubber boots and removed the hook from its mouth and sent it back into the water to swim/fly away. My grandfather was a good man and a strong one, intensely sober and he took on the job of helping to raise my brother and me with as much seriousness and sense of responsibility as anyone could have but even all of those memories are tainted with the sadness I felt of missing my old drunk daddy, of my mother being away at school in Gainesville to work on her education in the summers. Having lost my father forever, losing Mother for even six or eight weeks in the summer was like having a pair of dark glasses on and viewing the world through that darkness.
So what, so what and where is my good memory? My pure and joyful one?
Well, there isn't one. There just isn't. There are good moments, for sure. Many of them based around food which was my first feel-good drug. And I sometimes work on a book I started years ago which is written around memories of childhood and food with recipes included. Unfortunately, despair is an ingredient in most of these recipes and frankly, it wasn't until I met Mr. Moon that my memories and my recipes became truly melded into good things.
A metaphor, of course, but a true one.
I always say that Mr. Moon fell in love with me, really and honestly, the first time he saw me shovel horseshit off the back of a truck for a garden and the first time I ever made him biscuits. He saw me measure by the palm of my hand, he saw me pour without use of a measuring cup, he smelled the rising fastbread in the oven, baking powder and soda, buttermilk and flour, and something got triggered in his soul and there we were. And here we are.
But I do have one memory of my real father and a night that he cooked steaks on a grill in the yard of our house in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It's written down in the mostly-abandoned manuscript I've been working on in such a desultory way for so many years and I thought hell, I might as well give it here. I thought of it as I laid a fire for tomorrow's cookout with my girls, Kathleen and Judy and Denise and also Rich and Boone and Kathleen's friend Bob. Judy had called to ask what they should bring, but mostly to tell me that no matter what anyone else is bringing, they are bringing hot dogs to cook.
I can't wait.
And I laid a fire in Mr. Moon's kettle grill in the back yard with paper and cardboard and twigs and sticks and then pieces of magnolia and chinaberry tree branches and it's all set to go, the logs which will make the embers to cook the hotdogs laying right next to the grill.
I often say that it's all about food and frankly, Proust, whom I admit I've never read, got it right with that madeleine, and after I post this, I am going to go cook a garden medley and I wish I had coconut milk to make curried vegetables but I don't. Can you substitute light soy milk for coconut milk? We may find out tonight.
Meanwhile, here's what I wrote about my old drunk daddy, cooking steak on a grill. I hope you enjoy it. It's a good memory, bracketed as it is with so many bad ones.
MY OLD DRUNK DADDY’S GRILLED T-BONE STEAK
Somehow, come upon enough cash money to buy three T-Bone steaks. Make sure they are plenty fat enough and thick enough so that when you get to the bone, there is a lot of good gnawing to be done.
Lay the steaks out on their butcher paper and salt and pepper them generously.
While they are sitting and receiving their salty, peppery goodness, go out into the backyard and with some sharp tool cut a swath in the overgrown grass which you, being an old, drunk daddy, have not cut in months. Make sure the swath is big enough to prevent the fire you are about to build from catching the grass on fire and thus, burning down the neighborhood.
Find some wood somewhere. Perhaps you have a tree which has dropped some branches recently. That will do. Crack the branches on your knee until they are of the correct length. With these and some newspapers, build a small fire. Feed it until it is a nice bed of glowing embers. If it needs encouragement, get some lighter fluid (the kind you use to fuel your Zippo with which you light your Camel-straights) and squeeze a bit on the wood. Make sure to clear the area of children before you do this, especially toddlers or crawling babies.
When you have your bed of glowing embers, set four tin cans (empty!) upside down in a rectangular shape around the fire. If the cans are of varying heights, dig them into the dirt to adjust them so that your cooking surface will be level.
Find either an old oven rack or the grill of a rusted charcoal cooker or the metal shelf from an old refrigerator and place it on the tin cans, adjusting them as necessary.
Call for your woman to bring you the steaks and a beer (beer doesn’t count as alcohol in some forms of AA) and put the steaks on the grill.
While you drink the beer and smoke a few Camel Straights, let the meat cook. Drink that beer pretty fast because you do not want that meat to go beyond medium rare! Believe me!
Turn the meat once or twice while it cooks and spits onto the grill and makes the fire flame high. If you are feeling especially gourmet, splash the cooking meat generously with Worcestershire Sauce.
Call for your woman to bring you a plate and put the steaks on them when they are done. You want them to still bleed a bit when you poke them with the fork.
Serve the steaks with a baked potato, a salad made of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and Roquefort Dressing.
Eat until you must adjust your belt to a different hole.
Set the dishes by the sink and do not worry about them.
Get out the Candy Land board and proceed to make your way down the colorful path, stopping at the Peppermint Stick Forest, the Lollypop Woods and the Ice Cream Floats while trying to avoid the Molasses Swamp.
If you are celebrating a birthday, have some cake and ice cream to top the evening off.
This is a sure-fire family-pleaser which even a rambling, no-good drunk of a daddy can make into a real good memory for some lucky little girl.
In fact, fifty years later she will remember that night and how the unaccustomed richness of beef fat, charred on a wood fire, tasted and the way it greased her lips. She will remember how the pink meat at the bone looked and how it got stuck inbetween her baby teeth. She will remember how happy everyone at the table was and how amazing it was to her, so amazing that she can think back on it and see it as if she were watching the scene from above. A mommy, a daddy, a little girl, their tummies full of steak, all sitting around a kitchen table in a suburban house in Tennessee, moving their candy-colored pieces around a board game, their faces smiling.
There might have even been laughter.
In her memory, there surely is.
Well, for all the good they do for the earth, I'll give them a bit of a tithing.
Even if they do bite me.
And that is all the yard work I'm doing for now. It is too damn hot. I'm moving the hoses around. All of a sudden I realize that I'm going to lose plants if I don't. Like fig trees. I may already be too late. I talk all root-hog-or-die but there are certain plants that I really would hate to lose, my fig trees being a prime example.
Here's a skink on my porch which obviously needs sweeping in the corners. I believe it is a Broadhead Skink. God, I love the internet. Here's a fine page with some lizard information on it.
Here's what it has to say about the Broadhead, just in case you're not in the mood to click onto a page about skinks and anoles:
This is the Broadhead Skink, Eumeces laticeps, basking on a stone plain of some sort. Males have the facial flush and can get quite large for skinks. Skittish. Those big jaws can pinch.
Spellcheck doesn't seem to know beans about skinks and anoles.
I don't really either, even if I do live with them. All the anoles look pregnant right now. For all I know they are.
I think it may be nap time.
After I move the hose again. Hose-moving isn't yard work. It's just fun.
I slept 'til nine and boy, that's late for me but who cares? No one. Okay, maybe Elvis. Maybe he wanted out of the hen house. Zeke crawled under the covers to cuddle me last night and that's rare. I loved it. He curled up behind my curled-up legs and rested his head on my feet. Aw, man. As much grief as these dogs give me, it's all worthwhile when a tiny doglet, fairly fresh from the groomers, does that.
So last night I vowed not to take care of anything today that I didn't want to take care of. I guess I wanted to take care of the chicken water and the trash and recycle because I've done that. I want to take care of some leftovers and I'll throw them away. I want to take care of some old flowers in the hallway. Not really. I just want them gone. So I'll take care of them. I want to take care of that pile of CD's that falls over regularly, cases separated from discs. TWO identical Ella Fitzgerald Christmas CD's?
First off- Christmas?
Yeah. I want to take care of that.
I also want to take the laundry out to the line and hang it.
What kind of a damn day off is this?
Let's face it- I don't know how to take time off. I have no idea.
Damn, it's hot.
What are you doing today? What do you do when you take time off, time for yourself?
Nap? Mop the floor? Clean the toilets? Sit by the pool? Haha!
I guess I better eat something. Where is that damn waiter? I'd eat leftover pizza but there isn't any. Again- haha! Man it was good. I covered that sucker with onions and tomato and banana pepper and it already had spinach on it. It was a mountain-of-vegetable pizza.
If I was in Cozumel, this is what I'd eat for breakfast:
Eggs with bacon and refried beans and slices of pineapple and some delicious breads. And cup after cup of coffee and I'd be sitting dreamy watching the ferry dock, the crazy clear water. I'd say, "Gracious, gracious, gracious."
I'd be wondering where we'd be eating lunch and what I'd be having.
Maybe that's what I'll do today. Dream dreamy thoughts while I walk around and do things. Maybe I'll just walk around with a hose and give thirsty plants water and pretend I'm in Mexico and that the blue, indigo, violet, green water is lapping at my feet.
I need a mango.
And a waiter.
And blue and white bowls. And a banana and yogurt drinks.
Which is another of my favorite Cozumel breakfasts.
Oh hell. I don't need shit. I have it all.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Owen's gone home with his papa. Jessie's gone to the folk festival and then back to Asheville. Mr. Moon's in Bradenton and leaving early tomorrow morning on a big ol' jet plane to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Me? I'm sitting here in Lloyd. I'm watching the chickens parade down the back fence on their evening last walk-about. I ain't doing shit. Zeke is snoring at my feet.
The sense of relief I feel right now is almost unimaginable. For someone like me who has so many odd and strange neuroses and who had to do things which triggered so many of them this week, up to and including having to speak to an insurance underwriter on the phone not three hours ago answering a laundry list of questions a mile long to hopefully get some damn health insurance for me and the man while chasing Owen around the house and letting him do whatever he wanted which wasn't life-threatening (oh wait- that's what I do all day anyway when he's here), knowing that all of this stuff is, for right now, DONE, makes me want to lie on the floor of the hallway with the Dixie Chicks playing at high volume while I sob.
Hell. I don't know.
You know what? It's been a good week, despite and probably because of everything. And today was long, but it was great. I always have fun with Owen. I think my favorite part of the day, aside from getting him to go to sleep for his nap which is almost holy and is definitely a most precious ritual, was sitting on the kitchen steps with him, feeding the chickens strawberries and bread. Jesus. That kid is so funny. The faces he makes. The games he plays. The things he says.
At one point today he was sitting on the porch floor, spreading dog food kibbles everywhere and tasting one or two and I thought, "Gee. Maybe I should try to be more educational with him."
Then I thought, "Fuck no."
We talk about colors. We talk about going to the potty. We talk about gardens and seeds and flowers. We feed chickens. We pick beans and tomatoes. We discuss the books we're reading and how you shouldn't stand on the bar stool chairs because you can fall off and also that glass things can break and that everyone, including Mr. Peep, needs a nap after lunch.
What more do we want?
I ain't no Baby Einstein instructor. I'm a grandmaw.
While we were napping a huge clap of thunder woke us both up. He sat up and said, "Dat?!"
"It's all right," I told him. "It's just thunder." And then he fell over on me and I held him tightly against me, arms around him, and we fell back asleep.
Ah. Heaven. That's my job.
I hear it rained on and off all day long in Tallahassee which is about ten miles east of us. If we got twelve drops of rain, I'd be surprised. How does this happen?
God, we're dry.
When Jessie left at noon I held my tears back. This time I'm not going to see her in five days. She's not planning on coming home for quite awhile. That girl is gone.
"Grandmother is sad," I told Owen after she left. He didn't care. That was when he was in the dogfood. I stood later, looking out the front door and I thought that how I felt was tenderly melancholy. Not terrible. Not even sad, really. Sad is a wet gray towel, tenderly melancholy is a crocheted, lacy blanket, settled around the shoulders.
My friend Liz just called and said she's getting a group of girls up tomorrow and they're going somewhere. They don't know where but just in case, they're taking toothbrushes and passports. Did I want to come?
Here's the beautiful thing- I could say, "No." I could say, "I'm hanging here. Sounds like fun and call me if you get into trouble and need a good lawyer's number. Otherwise, thanks so much for asking." I love her for asking.
It's so beautiful in Lloyd right now. The life I can see and hear from my back porch is amazing. The chickens are in the coop now, having their final sips of water and bites of chicken feed. Next they'll go into the hen house and sit on their roosts and when I go to shut them up, I might just hug all of 'em. I need to go turn the sprinkler on the garden but not before I pick some green onions, a banana pepper and a tomato to put on my frozen pizza. Yep. That's right. I'm having a frozen pizza for dinner and I'm looking forward to that with almost embarrassing and unseemly delight.
There are so many things I could and should be doing around here. That's the very essence of life. You're never done. Never. And then you die and somehow, some way, all the things that you did not get done from the laundry on up manage to get done without you.
And you never "get" a break. You have to take it. You have to take naps and you have to take vacations and you have to take some time to relax. You take time off. You take time for yourself.
I'm taking time off. Tonight. To walk around and check the growth of the beans, to admire the shiny, swelling tomatoes, to see the way the setting-sun light falls on the magnolia blossoms,
the blue hydrangea,
the oak leaf hydrangea,
to maybe do a little youtube watching of Cocksucker Blues while I eat my frozen pizza. And tomorrow I'll probably dig more potatoes, get more ant bites, weed the field peas and cucumbers and do some mulching.
And take a nap.
I'm going to let this planet revolve without me interfering. I'm going to let go and let someone else take care of everything except whatever it is I feel a strong desire to take care of. I am going to feel so damn lucky to be able to do this and also, I'm going to think about all those questions the insurance guy asked me and how very, very grateful I am that I could answer "no" to 99.9% of them for both me and my man, whom I miss but who I know is going to have a wonderful time with his sister on this trip which makes my heart happy.
Yep. That's what I'm going to do. Be mindfully grateful of what is right...here...in front of me. Which is my life.
And I have a strong feeling that the world is gonna get along just fine without me. One way or another, it surely will.
And that's me, checking out from Lloyd, Florida tonight.
Good morning and Owen is here and I overslept and I have already spilled a smoothie in the refrigerator and right now Owen and Jessie are upstairs and all I can think about is the dozens of ant bites I have on my hands and arms and I don't know if you've ever had a Florida ant bite but they make like this little pus pocket. An ant pimple. And you just want to pop them and at my age, they turn into little blood blisters if you do that.
Yeah. That's me today.
It's going to be a long, long day.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
When Taylor was cooking our fish last Sunday, she said, "I like my tuna rare and my salmon done well."
I'm cooking salmon right now for Jessie's last night at home before she leaves tomorrow for the North Florida Folk Festival and then her journey back to her home in North Carolina. I'm not cooking it the way Taylor did because Taylor is a chef. But I am cooking it the way I cook it and as such, that's the way Mama makes it, which is what Jessie wanted.
I have been so busy lately. And so many things have been out of my comfort zone. Jesus. Going and hanging with my mother for one. But this softening of her brain has created this huge softening of her heart and I'm good with that. Today when I was there, she started to tell the story of when I was in her third grade classroom (yes, she was my teacher in the third grade) and how I'd been in a spelling bee and misspelled the word "soap." "S-O-P-E, soap," I said. Because I wasn't interested in the spelling bee. It was boring. And I was reading a book. And if I had a buck for every time my mother has told this story I could buy a nice piece of jewelry. So today she started to tell it and I said, "Mom. We know the story. S-O-P-E, soap."
And she said, "Well, I just felt so bad for you."
And I said, "And we never need to bring it up again."
Which I would never have said before. But today, while I was filling out paper work for her, I felt completely comfortable saying.
Done. Never tell that story again in my presence. What purpose does it possibly serve? I was eight fucking years old. I misspelled a word. Let it go.
And I need to let it go and so does she.
And by god, if I need to remind her to do so, I fucking well will.
Oh, bless her heart.
Bless mine too.
As Gradydoctor pointed out today, Oprah has said that we are not our mistakes. There's an Oprah lesson I am trying to learn. We aren't our mistakes. And misspelling a word in a third grade spelling bee does not define who I am. And I can tell my mother that.
I did a lot today. I got the dogs groomed, I did the paper work for Mother, I went to her doctor and made an appointment to get an exam for her which must be done before she can move. I went to the store. I came home.
I dug potatoes. I am making a dinner for me and Jessie of potatoes and green beans and salmon and spinach and onions and mushrooms. I let the chickens out today. They brought me great joy as they scratched about the yard and came up on the kitchen porch.
Tomorrow Owen will be here and then an entire weekend to myself. I am having Kathleen and Judy and Denise and Rich and Boone over on Sunday for Memorial Day food. I am making the potato salad and the beans and I will provide the watermelon and I will build a fire with my Girl Scout skills in the big kettle grill if someone wants to cook on a grill. I am looking forward to that.
I am listening to Keith Richards tell his story and babies, he made a lot of mistakes. But he doesn't define himself around them. He lives on in joy and his children love him and his grandchildren too and so does his wife, or so it would seem. He seems to say, "Bless his heart," or "Bless her heart," more than would seem normal for an English guy. Maybe I can listen to Keith Richards where I cannot listen to Oprah because my soul is more aligned with his. I don't know. I do know that we find our teachers where we find them and without a doubt, it was a mistake for me to go to third grade with my mother as my teacher and I am truly realizing that and also realizing that her mistakes were her own. Mine were mine.
And here I am, in this place where I am at home and where my mistakes do not have to define me and where I can realize, as I dig potatoes from the earth, my hands black with it, that I am who I am and that is okay and when I am eighty-four years old there is hope that I will not remind my children of spelling mistakes which they made at the age of eight. I think that's a good possibility in that I can't remember any and don't care if they did.
And I am getting to a place where when my mother brings these things up, I can just say, "Mama. You don't need to tell that story again. We've heard it."
That's a volunteer sunflower that has grown up in my kitchen garden. Yes. It was a mistake that it came up there, the seed strewn by some bird, I am sure. And the chickens didn't eat it and it there it grew, planting itself in the dirt. But despite the fact that it may have been a mistake that it got there, it is perfectly suited to where it is and it has bloomed.
I don't think I need to say any more about that.
Meaning- he's out of work.
He works, okay, USED to work, for the Department of Children and Families which was already cut to the bone and just got cut even farther today. Into the bone. Into the marrow.
Children and Families.
It's not just our family which is going to be affected by this. Believe me.
Lots of children, lots of families.
The thing about working for the state here was never that it made you rich. Oh hell no. You work for the state on a lower-level job and you live paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes you get to the end of the month and can still make your phone payment. Sometimes you can't.
You had job security.
You had benefits.
You could go see a doctor if you got sick.
Speaking of sick, that's the way I feel.
Hank'll figure something out. He's a smart man. But my god, the hours he's put into that job, the promotions he was promised and never got as one position after another got simply eliminated.
And now- don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.
Thanks, Prick Scott!
Now go have lunch with some of your big business cronies and tell them how well you're doing at getting Florida all set up for them to move in and take over with no taxes to pay and plenty of grease to make things all easy.
Just pray that neither you nor them will even need the services of the Department of Children and Families.
Because chances are good, no one's going to answer the phone if you do.
Meanwhile, another five hundred people are going to be applying for unemployment. Real good economic sense.
That's all I have to say about that.
Partly cloudy and the frogs are croaking with hope and despair.
Twenty percent chance of rain tomorrow, thirty the next day. None today.
Jessie said that the new Pirates movie was good and that Keith is in it for a tiny bit, playing Jack Sparrow's old daddy. We all know that Johnny Depp based Jack Sparrow on Keith. Well, damn. You know I have to go see it now. I haven't been to see a movie in dog's age. I swear, the last time I saw a movie may have been...hell. I can't even remember.
Wes Anderson never got in touch with me. Damn him.
Since Pearl died, the dogs aren't peeing on every vertical surface in this house. They've stopped lifting their legs and marking. Do you know how happy that makes me?
I feel sort of bad for being so critical of Oprah last night. Let me say that she has done a world of good. She has. And she deserves expensive and beautiful things. We all deserve beautiful things. That may mean pajamas that cost a week's wages or it may mean clean cotton sheets, dried on the line. It may mean having one's own chef or it may mean making a perfect small dinner for oneself of one Japanese eggplant, one tomato, and fresh basil from the garden. And we all deserve and need a lifetime best friend. It's all a matter of relativity. I just sort of lost my love for her when she started promoting The Secret.
Refrigerator Repair Dude just called. He's on his way. Will I be available? Oh hell yes. He sounded convincingly intelligent. As if he might have some working knowledge of refrigerators.
Here: I'll tell you The Secret. This whole world would grind to a halt without the blue collar workers who build and fix our things. I once heard a guy refer to these people as the tillers of the soil, the changers of the oil. I have never forgotten that.
Let's drink to the hardworking people. Let's drink to the lowly of birth. Raise your glass to the good and the evil Let's drink to the salt of the earth. Say a prayer for the common foot soldier Spare a thought for his back-breaking work. Say a prayer for his wife and his children Who burn the fires and who still till the earth.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote that back in 1967 or '68. Good lyrics.
Refrigerator Dude is here now. He knows what the problem is. He's going to fix it. His girlfriend is a vegan and he eats healthy and he saw all the stuff in my freezer and said it looked like the stuff in his freezer. It's the timer on the defrost thingee. Or something like that. He has to order a new one but he can manually defrost with a hair dryer! and it'll work fine for a week and by that time, the new timer will have arrived and will be installed.
It's the little things, people. It's cold milk and cold butter and cold juice and a place to keep your leftovers and all your beloved condiments.
It's the people who know the secrets of the refrigerator, the washing machine, the ignition system, the phone lines, the power circuit, the IV machine, the heater, the air conditioner, the oven, the septic tank, the gas lines.
It's the people who get wet and dirty and who stick their hands and heads and bodies into improbable places.
That's The Secret.
Without them- hell, we'd be inventing the wheel over and over again.
That's what I say.
Good morning from Lloyd.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
This is how he responds to questions he does not really know the answer to.
I find it charming.
Of course, I find everything he does charming.
I didn't mean to start out writing about Owen. It's just that I had that picture and... well....
Hot. This is the way it is here, y'all. Fucking hot. And dry. Dry as bones in the desert in the desert sand. I leave the air conditioner off all day long which means that I don't feel like doing anything. Nothing. For lunch I made a lovely platter of crackers, sliced cheese and a sliced apple. That fed three of us. Even eating is a bit of a bother in this heat.
Mr. Moon just left for Bradenton. I cried. I cried because he's going to his Aunt Elizabeth's memorial service and I loved her so. And I cried because he's going to be gone a week. And I cried because people keep coming and then leaving me. And I cried because he's going to be with his sister and they're going to Las Vegas and although I just...can't....go to Las Vegas right now, I still sort of wish I was. Believe it or not, I do, in a way, love Las Vegas. It is where I met my Jodi-Girl for the first time and that trip, that meeting alone is worth a short story, at the very least. Limousines were involved and much luck on the gambling floor and blue velvet and denim and falling-in-love at first sight.
And there's just something about the encouragement of all and every sort of sin in Las Vegas that I love. Just love. And the constant ring-ching-ching of the slot machines and the way it feels when Black Jack falls my way. The people-watching is the best, not only the gamblers but the dealers. Oh, how I love to watch the dealers with their fast hands, their everywhere-seeing eyes, their shuffle, shuffle, snap, snap, stack and remove and stack and push and the little hand-dance they do at the beginning and end of each shift, hands flat facing down, hands flat facing up, and then "Good Luck."
You KNOW it's all the house's game and you know that if you win they'll somehow get it back and you know that to your very soul but it's Las Vegas.....
(and anything can happen)
So okay. I was crying a little bit about that but probably more because I am the sort of woman who, although she loves Las Vegas in a strange sort of way, can't get her ass off of her property.
Besides, I have so much to do here.
Wait tomorrow morning for the refrigerator repair guy and take the dogs to Ms. Beverly for grooming because they are hairy fur-balls and go to town and fill out forms for and with Mother and get all sorts of cards and ID's copied and take things to the doctor for him to fill out for her and of course there are the chickens, the dogs, the cat, the garden.
So here I am, left alone with Keith Richards. I'm listening to disc fourteen out of twenty and loving it as much as the first time I read it. I sent Mr. Moon off with the loaded iPod so that he can listen to it too and I have to say that I'm a bit jealous- Mr. Moon listening to MY Keith but that's silly and I wonder if he'll even like it at all. The parts about tunings and e-strings and listening to Robert Johnson and all of that- will he even care enough to finish listening? Who knows? I don't even know why I love it. I'm certainly not a musician. But I do. Oh yes. I do.
Jessie's leaving tomorrow to go to the Folk Festival and then I'll truly be alone. Oh wait. I have Owen on Friday from eight until five so not really. Kathleen wrote me today and asked what I was doing for Memorial Day and I had no idea. Maybe I should invite her and Judy and Denise over on Sunday for potato salad and baked beans and watermelon, which is what Kathleen said she planned to eat for Memorial Day. That would be fun. I miss my girls. I do.
And so that's me. Alone at last. Jessie's gone off to the movies with some of her siblings and so here I am, all by myself. I have a library book that is so overdue and I'd like to finish it tonight. Maybe I will.
And maybe I'll cut up that perfect ripe tomato I picked yesterday and put it between slices of bread and eat that for my dinner. Take my mayonnaise out of the ice chest and make tomato sandwiches.
Alone at last and not sure I'm liking that. Funny how much I used to love it. Funny how much I can't stand to sleep without Mr. Moon beside me all of a sudden. I reach over to feel for him so many times a night. Are you there? He is like a mountain, he is like the earth. I need him beside me.
And for a week, he won't be. But it's okay. I swear to you, it is. I love the idea of him being with his sister. I love the idea of him playing Black Jack and Texas Hold'em while his sister sits in front of the slot machines, her laser-sharp focus directed to the machine in front of her.
"Ring-ching-ching," say the singing slot machines.
"You're sweet, you're sweet, you're sweet," say the mockingbirds in my yard.
I tried to watch the last show of Oprah and I just couldn't. She desperately wants to believe that she's a sort of Jesus with God's message and meaning for all of us and yes, it's worked wonderfully well for her and maybe she is but not for me. I wish for her some peace now. I wonder if she can handle slipping back into the land of not being on magazine covers, not being the Messiah of Women, not being Oprah.
Nah. We've not heard the last of that woman. She said one thing that I totally believe which is that we all need validation.
Oh hell yes.
Why else do I sit here and write this account of my life, my thoughts, my beliefs, my joys and sorrows?
Oh yes. Because I HAVE to.
Me and Oprah. We need our validation. So do you.
And we gamble against the house and we're pretty sure we'll win even though we know we'll probably lose and it's okay because the dealer opens and closes her hands and says, "Good luck," and we want to think she means us and that it will happen.
Meanwhile, we gamble on almost-sure things. The love, the light, the blood, the soul, the mockingbird saying, "You're sweet, you're sweet, you're sweet," and the sun coming up in the morning and the sweet acid taste of the tomato.
We dream of the impossible, we plow the dirt for the probable, we live our lives and we seek validation.
Good-luck, Oprah. Good-luck, Mr. Moon. Good-luck to all of us.
I feel so discombobulated this morning. Owen did, in fact, go back to sleep with Bop and Mer-Mer and it was so sweet that I wondered if maybe just lying down with a baby is enough to bring on the progesterone, that good milky hormone that causes such a sense of well-being. I would not be surprised. He kept snaking his arm beneath my head and pulling me closer. Oh. That boy.
But then we all got up and Bop got ready for work, and our refrigerator, the one we bought LAST YEAR is not working. No. It is not. And dammit. Dammit. So he's going to find the warranty and call a repairman and get a little work done before he leaves for his sister's house in Bradenton and I made meal-meal for Aunt Jessie and Owen and we've fed chickens and I've unloaded the very important refrigerator items to ice chests and Jessie and Owen are off to the truck stop for ice.
Preparation for hurricane season, you could say.
I was awake and then I was not and I was up and then I was down and now that I'm up again I'm not really awake and this is what we call discombobulation....
And it's been so busy here and Mr. Moon is leaving today and will be gone a week and Jessie is leaving tomorrow and will be gone for who knows how long and here I am.
And if all fails and I don't get my refrigerator fixed I can dig potatoes from the garden and it'll be like it was when I was a little girl the age of the one in that picture above whose mother went to the hospital and the maid was left with the children and there was nothing in the house to eat except potatoes although now, that's not the case, of course.
But hell. I know I CAN live on potatoes, bless my Irish blood. I think I have some.
The beans have started making.
And there is squash and tomatoes and there are eggs.
Although Buster ate those particular eggs.
And oh yes...Publix is ten minutes down the road.
Discombobulated and I keep turning the corner and seeing that picture of me, as a child and I think of how damn cute I was and I am even more discombobulated and well, hell, it's just that sort of day and I need to put that picture somewhere where I can't see it every two seconds.
Tucked up in his car seat
Mer-Mer's up and waiting and the theory is always
That he'll come back to bed with her,
Settle down in the quiet dark, and
But the reality is
He'll probably become wide-eyed awake
And his Mer-Mer
Shall make it.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Over and over.
And let's say that besides this sort of mental slipping, there is also occurring a major dissolving of social filters.
And let's also say that this woman was taken to see the place where she was about to move and she had a bug up her butt that day. Major bug and hell, you can't blame her. The cogs may be slipping but who in this world wants to have to condense everything they own into just enough to fit into one 240 square foot room and who in this world wants to have to give up her freedom to come and go and sit and watch her birds and move into assisted living?
No one. Not even someone not in their right mind.
And so she had an attitude. She didn't like the living area of the floor, even though there were OTIS SPUNKMYER COOKIES BAKING IN A CLEVER LITTLE OVEN CREATING THE HOMEY AND COMFORTING SMELL OF FRESHLY-BAKED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE FLOOR, and she didn't like the room and she didn't like anything.
Because it was not going to be hers.
But then everything she brought up that she was not going to have- a kitchen area, a place to keep her ice cream bars, her coffee pot, a place to get ice- was shown to be not a real concern because within steps of her room was a lovely little dining area where all of these would be available twenty-four hours a day along with sandwiches and salads and canned peaches and yogurt and at meal times there would be hot entrees and if you didn't like that, you could go down a floor where even more delicious food would be available.
But then she saw a bowl of fruit in the hallway. A bowl of apples and bananas and oranges, just sitting there, waiting for her to come and take whatever she wanted and her heart softened a bit.
And everyone she talked to was lovely and welcoming and nowhere was there the least scent of oldness or pee or any of those nasty smells, just Otis Spunkmeyer and fresh fruit and new paint.
So she relaxed. Let's just say this woman relaxed.
She relaxed so much that when she got in her car with her daughter and her granddaughter, and her daughter pointed out that there had been men on her floor as well as women, she said, "I don't care about that. I've had all the men I care to have."
And then, and then, AND THEN! she said (or may have said), "I have my vibrator. That's all I need."
Let's just say that happened.
And then let's say that she giggled and said, "You didn't know your old granny knew about things like that, did you?" And she giggled again.
Let's just say that the daughter and granddaughter were rendered speechless.
Then let's say that over lunch, where her son-in-law may have been eating with them, she BROUGHT THE VIBRATOR UP AGAIN! which rendered the son-in-law not only speechless, but unable to look up from his Tandoori chicken.
And then let's say that someone (0h, maybe the daughter) wrestled with herself because JESUS CHRIST THIS IS BLOG GOLD! and so she maybe decided to write a little story.
You don't have to believe it. It might not even be true.
Let's just say that maybe Mother may request the nightly bed check to be omitted in her case.
I don't know.
All I know is that what I learned today is that there is no situation in which you cannot find something to laugh about. And that there is definitely hope for sex well into the eighties. Of one sort or another.
And that the place my mother is moving into is seriously one fine assisted living facility. That there are classes on everything from hula dancing to tai-chi to water aerobics and there are experts who come in and give lectures on all sorts of continuing learning topics and there is a beautiful auditorium where they have weekly concerts and there is transportation and there is...
Fruit in a bowl in the hallway.
And I have a feeling that within a few weeks of moving in, this lady is going to wonder why she waited so long. She's going to be too busy and too happy and too full of delicious available-at-all-hours snacks and meals and fruit to even begin to miss her drawers and drawers of old sweaters she never wore anyway.
Well. That was my day. Maybe.
How was yours?
Twenty years ago Loudon Wainwright III wrote a song called Talking New Bob Dylan. It never ceases to make me laugh and so in honor of Bob's birthday, I am passing it along to you. I fell in love with Loudon back in around 1971 when I was in high school and FM radio was new and they were playing all sorts of weird shit and it was there that I head this song. You have to listen to the whole thing to get the pure joy of it. Sorry.
Well, that it was it and I fell in love and these days Loudon's son Rufus is a big name and deservedly so but hell, he did not fall far from the tree. Plus, The Mama of Rufus is Kate McGarrigle who died last year.
And in one more the-music-world-is-a-small, small-world bit of trivia, Rufus and his partner are the proud co-parents of daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, along with the daughter of Leonard Cohen, making Loudon and Leonard grandparents-in-law or something.
All this to say, Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan. I love your guts.
P.S. If this Loudon music is just delighting you beyond belief, please do not hesitate to youtube search Loudon Wainwright, Acid Song.
I always count everything in segments of back home.
And it's May's true, real birthday. Oh my. That girl. Celebrate my May, my born-with-the-sun girl. My lives-life-on-her-own-terms girl. My beautiful, dancing daughter.
I will go wash, I will get dressed, I will go to town, I will come home.
I feel the world swirling around me too fast and I am holding on with my finger tips, trying to feel the ground below me, legs swinging for purchase.
'Til I'm back home, safely, soundly, back home.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Yeah, maybe I do. I don't know.
Tomorrow the dentist and take Mother to the place where she's going to be living for an interview with the dude who seems to be in charge of the floor where she'll be. That'll be fine.
And tomorrow is May's real birthday and maybe I'm just weary today because all those years ago I was in labor now, walking, walking, ten miles down the road from where I am right now, Hank not-quite two and off with his Aunt Lynn to let me labor with all my forces and neighbors dropping in with treats, the hippie grapevine in full service, I can hear you now.
Ya. I am just completely flat today. I have nothing. Don't care, either, but how odd I feel. Strangely anxious but maybe it's just this heat, so sudden after such unseasonable coolness, rushed in as if a late guest to a party, oh hello, traffic was awful, here I am now, don't worry, I'll make you sweat.
I gave the chickens fresh water and I gave them watermelon, too. I am kind to chickens. It's easy.
They say you don't remember childbirth but it seems to me as if lately I have been able to recapture that feeling of pushing a baby out. I wonder why. That whole this-is-impossible-and-impossible-not-to-do thing. That moment when your body becomes all portal, nothing else, an entry-way into life for life.
I remember it. Don't care what they say. They say a lot of shit. A lot of it? Ain't true.
Can't get going today. Nine hours of coma-sleep, one dream of insanity, up and half a pot of coffee and some floors swept and some laundry hanging and a bed made and three phone calls and the chickens fed and why do I always say, "I haven't done shit today?"
Feels like it. Not that I know what I'd be doing if I was really productive. Performing brain surgery? Plowing the lower forty? Building a potting shed?
I feel as if I've been beat with a stick. My brain, especially. Hips, too.
The heat is creeping in, the earth is so dry. The grass has gone brown and crisp and I take my little sprinkler around and water this patch of hydrangea, that patch of lilies and phlox. The other day I watched a squirrel lean over and drink from the little pond, just like a human but with such a bushy tail. It's already the season of mosquitoes and yellow flies, wasps, and big fat regular flies who find their way in and feast on the bowl where I keep kitchen scraps for compost and chickens.
Speaking of chickens, I don't know which is worse or more depressing- losing a hen to a hawk or keeping them in the coop all day. Why is it so important to me to have my chickens scratching about my yard? I don't know but it just gives my heart such joy to see them. Elvis seems so de-masculated, standing in the coop. He wants to be out, finding troves of goodies for his girls, keeping watch over his flock by day. He's just standing there, barely enthusiastic enough to crow a few times, peering out into the yard-world where he wants to be.
Well, at least I'm getting all my eggs.
My mother has called me at least twice to tell me how much she enjoyed yesterday. She sounds happy again, she sounds grateful and she sounds good. Who knew that dementia could make a person so sweet? Instead of clinging to all of her stuff, she is offering it away. She is taking pleasure in the fact that her grandchildren can find use for some of it. I can feel her spirit lifting as every bag leaves her house. When she's out of a room, I pluck old artificial flower arrangements, throw them in the garbage bag, old dresses I don't even remember and put them in the Goodwill bag. She doesn't care. She's just happy to see things go. We keep reassuring her that anything she gives us can be given back if she needs or wants it.
She is good with that.
Pray for rain, try to rest and restore. Hang on, hang in. Hang the clothes on the line, napkins like prayer flags, red and green and blue-checked, my own grandmother's bridge-table tablecloth, used last night in service for our May birthday supper. I think it was the first time ever that the amount of food we cooked was the amount of food that was eaten. Almost every morsel. A little okra and tomatoes left. That's about it.
And that's about it from Lloyd. Today.
This is my recording of this life in this place. There are things I could (should?) be doing but I am doing what I can, and today I am not asking of myself any more than that.
Keith Richards will be involved.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Last night Lis sat in my kitchen and played her father's old tenor guitar and sang me a song she'd written.
Today was filled with going to Mother's for cake and ice cream and going through a few things and we have begun and she actually enjoyed herself: Jessie trying on her African skirt and the dress she'd made for herself one Easter and cries of, "I remember this!" and it was sweet and it was good.
And then the birthday party.
We were all so tired and yet, possibly because of that, we had so much fun.
For some reason, a doll's wig which has been floating around ended up on everyone's head. I took pictures.
The birthday girl.
And then we got serious and Taylor, BLESS HER BELOVED HEART, cooked the fish for us. It was so good and there was such relief for me in just saying, "Here, Taylor. You do it." Oh Taylor. Thank-you a million times over.
Here's Melissa teaching Owen to fold napkins:
And here's Owen, decorating May's pie. We let him. We think he did a great job.
I didn't get the camera out in time to take the candle-blowing out picture but here's right afterwards:
Key lime pie.
It was such a good night. Sweet people here in our house, celebrating our sweet, sweet May. I told about how she was born at dawn and how that same night I dug potatoes from the garden, just as Taylor and I did today, and I cooked them with peas and made oven barbecued chicken and how my oven in that trailer had no thermostat and so I had to turn it on and off, on and off. And yet, I cooked some damn fine food in that thing.
What a day. What a twenty-four hours. All kind of sweet things to eat and sweet words and sweet times and some good old collards with pepper sauce and okra and tomatoes and the best salmon and tuna (yes, that's what I ended up buying) and salad too to balance out the sweetness and Owen following May around with wide-eyed adoration and then being a pill because he was so tired but at the end of the night he stood on the steps and sang Ooh-oohs with Jessie while she played her guitar and I swear, they were in harmony and their voices rose up to the ceiling of this old house and those notes will float around here forever with all the notes of all the voices of all the celebrations which have been held here.
I can't even begin to tell you how unbelievably blessed I feel tonight.
And now, to sleep.