Friday, July 5, 2013

A Stew With Store-Bought Dumplings

I make Yankee dumplings. I guess they're Yankee dumplings. They're the kind my mother made and I like them. They are sort of like floaty biscuits only they don't have shortening in them, they're just self-rising flour and baking soda and buttermilk and I drop them by teaspoons into the bubbling chicken broth where they expand and pop up to the surface and cook.
Now southern dumplings are a different thing entirely. They are actually quite like pasta in that the dumpling dough is much stiffer and rolled out thin and cut before they are put into the broth to cook. They are flat dumplings and come out like big ol' noodles. And I ain't any good at those things. I have tried because Mr. Moon loves the flat dumplings and that's the way his mama made them but somehow, I never get it right so I always just go back to my old tried and true which are good, dammit, but not what some people would rightly call dumplings at all and Maw Maw would be one of those people.
And so I did what anyone in her right mind would do and I bought frozen dumplings.

This kind. I have no idea who Mary Hill is but if you look up there in the lefthand corner you will see that she is of the belief that we should all say "Yes to dumplings, No to drugs."
This may be true, although probably not for those of us for whom white flour IS a drug, but that's another matter. 
Anyway, I cooked my chicken and I made my broth and I put those dumplings in there and I cooked them and then, without shame I took them to Maw Maw's house. I also took her some eggs from our hens which she calls "real" eggs. She was just getting ready for a nap when I got there so I kissed her and left the dumplings and ran some errands and waited on Mr. Moon to get through with a title closing so that I could shuttle him home because of a complicated car issue and it was all okay. 
Okay. Okay. 
When I was in the library I felt as if maybe my head was floating up near the ceiling somewhere and out of nowhere I got some terrible heartburn and for a moment I thought maybe I was having an attack of some sort but then I realized that yes, I was, but it was merely (merely!) anxiety and I finished up and slid out of there and I was...okay. 

I got a text a little while ago from Billy saying that he'd gone over to see Maw Maw and eaten so much chicken and dumplings that he'd had to unbutton his pants and that Maw Maw ate a huge bowl of them too so I guess they were fittin', as we say. Hearing that his grandmother, who weighs about fourteen pounds now, ate a big bowl of something I made makes me happier than anything I can imagine. I swear, I could pick that woman up and carry her on my hip the way I carry Gibson. 

I think I am heartsore. Just purely and cleanly heartsore. If hearts can be overused, mine is. I'm no saint and no guru and it just doesn't take more than the sort of regular life I've been living lately to wear my heart out. And when Paw Paw died, it was just a big reminder that life is short, even if it's pretty much normal length and Maw Maw told me the other day that she was so glad that she had so many good memories of things she'd done with her husband over the years. The trips they'd taken, especially. I asked her if there had been a trip she remembered most fondly and she said that no, there really wasn't. They were just all so good. 
And isn't that the way it should be? That there are so many good memories that none of them is the best or the favorite, that they were just all good and each special in its own way and don't we all want that? And of course all of this made me think of my own husband, my own marriage, and yes, of the trips we've taken together and my favorite ones have been to Cozumel and no, I can't tell you which one was the best because each and every one of them had magic in it and beauty and so much laughing and love and when we're there together, twenty-four hours a day for however many days we get to stay, it's not too much, it's not even enough, and when we get home and come back to "normal" life, I miss him when he goes to work for awhile. I miss my buddy, my lover, my man, my partner in crime and love and dining and sleeping and swimming and snorkeling and mopeding and exploring and discovery and what-do-you-want-to-do-today? and sunset-watching and mango-and-yogurt-shopping and all of it. All of it. 
I don't even have any idea how many times we've been there since our first trip in 1987. No idea. I think I quit counting around seven. 
I'm not ready to give that up. I'm not ready to give up that feeling and sometimes when I get sad, I think of how much I miss it, living this "normal" life which is the most wonderful normal life and so filled with work and with grandkids an kids and lately with weddings and funerals which means life and which means death which IS life, and with love and even some amount of magic but can there be too much of that other sort of magic? Can there? 

Oh hell. I don't even know what I'm saying. I guess just that I'm sad and I want some good magic for a little change and I don't want to regret anything when I go or he goes. I want our lives to have been packed with the goodness we have available to us if we only make room for it. Only make the effort of it. 

Last night I even thought about going back to Cozumel by myself. I know, I know, I do this sometimes. I think about how it would be, maybe going for a month and renting a little rooftop studio apartment downtown or staying for a few weeks at a cheap old hotel. Would it be good or would it make me even sadder to be there by myself? I don't know. Probably sadder. I have no idea if the magic would work just for me or if it's the kind of magic that only works for two. 
And fuck. I get anxiety in the damn LIBRARY these days. 
Agoraphobics aren't really very good at running away, you know. 

Well. It just rained again. For some damn reason I am not tired of it yet, this rain. It seems like a blessing, every drop of it. Every roll of thunder, every bit of the gray sky making every blade of grass and leaf as green as a Leprechaun's eyes. 

In the Yucatan, they do not have Leprechauns. They have the Alux instead. Another type of small being with magical powers. I have all but seen them. 

Well, you've heard all of this before. 

I think this is just a time for me to weep if I need to, to do whatever it is I need to do to let my heart rest. 
I was at the Target today and the woman checking me out was as beautiful a woman as I've ever seen. Young and whip-thin except for a blooming pregnant belly and I felt a compulsion I've been feeling lately which was to tell her how beautiful she was. She was harried and did not look entirely happy and when our transaction was finished I just came out and said it. I said, "Do you know how beautiful you are?"
She looked at me as if I might possibly be crazy and that's a distinct possibility but she said, "Thank-you."
"Well, you are," I said and tears rose in my eyes. "And you should know that." 
And I pulled my keys from my purse and went on out the door. 

I believe that whatever ails my heart, it can only help it to be what we here in the south call "sweet." And that includes being sweet to myself and so I shall be. If that means making chicken and dumplings, if that means shuttling my husband around, if that means telling a young pregnant woman that she is beautiful, if that means sitting in my office which is the most beautiful room of this house simply because it IS the most beautiful room in this house, that's what I'm going to do. Or at least, that's what I'm going to try and do. Because life IS all about marriage and birth and dying and cooking and eating and the rain falling and washing the dishes and doing the laundry and dreaming about magical places where the Alux live and where I have loved and been loved in the most profound ways. I think it may be acceptance of what is instead of what I wish it were, whether of weather or location or my own inadequacies. And that includes buying dumplings which will taste better than the ones I make myself. 

One more thing- I saw Miss Baby this morning and I haven't seen her for days and I was so relieved and so happy. She flew up onto the bird feeder and ate there and then disappeared again. I think she may be sitting on another clutch of infertile eggs and I have no idea where that may be but she is alive, my little banty hen. My sweet little banty hen. 

Happy Friday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. I get the heart sore. Mine has felt battered lately. I am hoping for closure after the service tomorrow. I need to feel less sad. Both of us have had a weight over the past few months.

  2. one time I was with my husband camping....sitting around a campfire...just me and him. I asked myself "If this was the last hour of your this where you would choose to be"? And the answer was yes. That was many many years long as the answer is yes to that question you will be ok.

  3. I am not accustomed to feeling sadness or depression, so when I do, I get alarmed and think maybe this is something requiring action on my part. Still I try to just let it be, and so it passes. But reading your experience and thoughts about it makes it seem as if there is a lot of richness to be gleaned from it. Thank you! You have a way of making IT seem beautiful!

  4. I bet that woman will never forget what you said to her. It's one of those things.

    Hope you get to feeling better.

  5. Your Yankee dumplings sound more like our dumplings we have in stew. Round balls of flour that expand in the broth. One of my favourites!

    Reading your blog always makes me want to pack up my stuff and go somewhere - I don't know where exactly, just anywhere. You always remind me of the important things in life. For that, I thank you!

    And what a wonderful thing you did for that check out girl. She may have looked shocked and not said much but I bet that small comment had a huge impact on her day!

  6. I think those are Florida dumplings - not Yankee dumplings. That's how my momma made them and she was from Florida going waaaaaay back. She didn't cotton to no flat dumplings.

    Yes, be sweet to yourself. Be sweet to yourself every second. And this too shall pass.

  7. There's so much here that's right. Including that very funny line about agoraphobics.

  8. Happy Friday Ms. Moon. Hope whatever is ailing your heart gets sorted out soon. Take care and keep writing your beautiful posts because I enjoy them so much. Have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Heartsore. Sigh. That should have an ICD-9 code for us doctors to use. Because so much of what is going on is that. Heartsore-ness. At least that's what I think.

    I hope whatever is hurting stops. And I also hope that young woman knows how genuine you were because I know that you were. And I just bet you made her day.

    Thank you for writing even with a sore heart.

  10. I don't think you can have a sore heart without having a big heart. And with all the living and loving you do and how you do them, your heart is tremendous. Sweet Jo

  11. Yes, be sweet. And this post was just that - like I could feel that your hear is sore and you aren't going to rail against it, you're going to live and do it with sweetness. Love you Ms. Moon

  12. Syd- Maybe the service will help. I surely hope it does. Let all our hearts release their sadness.

    ain't for city gals- I think those moments are fairly rare and thus, precious.

    S. Gal- Well, really, there is not a whole lot that's really beautiful about depression but one can learn from it.

    Ms. Fleur- I hope so. I really do.

    Wayne- I wouldn't be surprised if those aren't the same type of dumplings. Maybe you SHOULD go somewhere. Could you and Adam plan a trip?

    KE- Nah. My mother wasn't from Florida originally. Her mother was from upstate NY. So maybe your mama learned to make dumplings from someone with a Yankee background. Who knows?
    Yep. All things must pass.

    A- I think I could have just written that line and that line alone and said everything I needed to say.

    Mr. Shife- Thank YOU for popping by. I do appreciate it.

    gradydoctor- Writing is my favorite way to be sweet to myself. I swear to you. It is. And why ISN'T heartsoreness a medical diagnosis? It surely should be.

    Sweet Jo- Sometimes I think my heart is just too leaky. But thank you. So much.

    Jill- I believe I'm too weary to rail against anything. Thank you. Love you, too.

  13. Once again, I admire how well you write about your emotional life. I always read your posts and aspire to try harder to be more open!

    There used to be a brand of canned chicken and dumplings called Sweet Sue, from Alabama. I have no idea whether it's even available anymore, but I used to buy that stuff when I was in college and I loved those flat dumplings. And they were in a can with all the most mysterious parts of a chicken, which I'm sure would offend Mary Hill. (Love her drugs advice. At least she offers an alternative! Nancy Reagan could only come up with "Just say no.")

    As for Cozumel, I suspect it wouldn't be the same if you went alone. I went to Key West by myself once years ago and it wasn't nearly as fun as being there with friends. But who knows? Maybe it's worth a try.

  14. I'm catching up, here, and the main thing I have to say at this most splendid post is that I am decidedly NOT an agoraphobic, and I'd be happy to run away and spend a bit of time in Cozumel. Just say the word.

  15. Steve Reed- I do believe that Sweet Sue is still in business. Check it out while you're here in Florida.

    Elizabeth- Don't make me call you. Damn, girl. You would love Cozumel.

  16. I wanted you to know that I read this late one night this weekend, laying in bed with my six year old nephew who was curled against me. I smiled when I read "sweet banty hen", right there in the dark. Love you!

  17. Do you know how beautiful YOU are, Ms Moon?
    x I love your writing too, and your brave and honest heart

  18. SJ- Ah. And what a sweet image, you with your nephew curled up against you.

    Sally- You are very kind. Thank you.


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