Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jose Marti International Airport, Black Lace Panty Hose, Heat, Havana, Keith Richards And Zipper Cream Peas

When I was a child, The Threat was Communism. Of course. The Russians, the Soviets, were going to take over the world and make it Communist. I had but a vague idea of what that meant and certainly no context for where Communism had come from except for...well, Russia!... and our job as Americans was to find and root out Communism wherever it was to be found, whether in Hollywood or Congress or eventually, a tiny country no one had ever heard of called Viet Nam. Anything that was evil or scary or threatening was Communist. And Communism was so bad. Everything in Communist countries was gray and all of the artwork was about the glory of the state and its leaders and there was no religion, no personal freedom, no sweet bounty of food or joy like we Americans had here in such abundance.
I grew up thinking that Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of Russia, the United Soviet Socialist Republic, was the devil. The first rooster I ever knew belonged to my best friend's family and he was a red rooster and he was mean as fuck and his name was Khrushchev.
Like that.
And then- somehow- Cuba, which I was only vaguely aware of even though I moved to Florida when I was five years old, became Communist and was aligned with that red, evil devil and there was a guy named Fidel Castro who wore green army stuff and had a beard and smoked a cigar and he was like Devil, Jr. but an even bigger threat because he was so close to us, geographically, and Khrushchev was going to use Fidel's country as a place from which to bomb us.

This is all overly and vastly simplified and told from a child's perspective and not to be taken as actual history and to be quite honest- I still don't understand how Cuba came to be under the protection of the USSR. And I actually asked that question of Ruben, our own personal historian on the trip. Ruben has two master's degrees and speaks very good English and took us on our tour of old Havana and to the art museum and answered questions one day over lunch right before all of the waitresses sang and danced for us and he got the phone number of one of them with whom he'd been flirting.

Best history lecture ever and that's Ruben on the right.

I now understand a little bit more about the Revolution. Cuba had become a complete money cow for America. American Fruit Company, AT&T, American sugar companies, etc., etc. Not to mention the mafia. And so a very, very few people were very, very rich and everyone else (the workers) were basically starving to death and being bled dry.
Again- vastly simplified, I am sure.
And so Fidel Castro and some other folks (Che Guevara being one of them, I am certain) started a revolution and kicked out the big fat American blood-suckers and ended capitalism entirely (Ruben's grandfather had a small milkshake business and after the Revolution, it was taken from him) and somehow, the USSR became Cuba's ally.
But I'm still very, very hazy about all of this.
And I never really got a good answer from Ruben.
I should read some damn history.

But the point of this story is, that any child growing up in the sixties had an impression of Cuba as being a Communist country (and hell- it may have been Socialist for all I know- how embarrassing to admit all of this) and as such, it had to be a sad, sorrowful, GRAY, serious, ungodly place completely without humor or joy where nobody had the courage to speak out against the government at all for fear of being thrown into a horrible prison and tortured. And of course, where all the Soviet bombs were waiting to be dropped on us.

And then over the years, I grew up and Fidel became old and more avuncular than demonic and the images which came back from that closed country were those of beautiful old buildings and cars from the forties and fifties and of a population which consisted of people of all colors and I read Cuban fiction and THEN, Ry Cooder came out with the amazing and brave and incredible album which he recorded in Cuba, Buena Vista Social Club. 
Which I listened to about five thousand times and cried to approximately four times per listening and then I saw the documentary and wept my way through that and I realized that I did not know shit about Cuba.

Hey. Guess what?
I still don't.

When we got to the airport in Havana (and the plane ride was like this: achieve elevation/prepare for landing) it reminded me greatly of Cozumel's airport back in the nineties. Very utilitarian. Very, very hot. We deplaned via steps and walked across the tarmac to the building and went in and got in line to get our passports and visas checked. In Cozumel this is all very open and the officials who stamp your passport are right there and you wait with all of the other tourists and when it becomes your turn to hand over your passport and documents, it's simply a matter of "Hola," a brief stare from the official and then stamp, stamp, here's your visa, off you go to collect your bag which may or may not be searched determined by some mysterious process I've never understood, but mostly not.
But in Cuba, we had been given all of these instructions of what to say if they asked why we were visiting Cuba (cultural exchange) and to not speak Spanish to the officials because they might think you are, well, something, something, and to just be ignorant Americans and if there were any questions AT ALL, to summon Yosi or Soledad. So. Waiting in line. To go into a tiny room. The door opens and you go in. To your left is a woman behind a counter at a desk. A stern looking woman. There is a scary camera hanging from the ceiling. You hand over your passport and your documents. She looks at them. She does some things on a computer.
"Have you been to Africa in the last three months?" she asks.
"No," you say.
She does a few more things on the computer.
"Take off your glasses and look into the camera."
You do this. A picture is taken. More computer stuff. Eventually, she hits a buzzer which unlocks the door in front of you. You are free to walk through it.
And this is what I saw- a huge, very, very gray room with horrible and inadequate florescent lighting and no seats and no amenities and two baggage claim conveyer belts.
No "Bienvenida a Cuba!" banners. No music. No one selling mojitos or cuba libres or trying to get you to rent a moped or buy a time share.
Just gray. Floor, ceiling, walls. And heat. Heat. Heat.
And I walked through that little door and I thought, "Jesus Christ. This IS what Communism looks like. Holy fuck."

But then I noticed something. All of the security guard women had obviously been issued a uniform shirt but whatever they wanted to wear below that was up to them. And that meant skirts barely longer than the shirts and often black lace patterned panty hose and high heels below those.
Well. This was definitely a different sort of Communism than what I'd been told about.
I took a breath. I felt much better.

We waited and waited and waited for our flight's baggage to appear and hell- how many flights a day come in to that airport? And we were supposed to be at the club for a sound check so very soon and weren't we supposed to change our dollars into CUP's at the airport? Of course, my bag came in last and by the time I grabbed it and Lis had her guitar, her banjo and her luggage and Sole raced us out to the bus to meet Sobe and get our seats and get on the way to FAC, we were completely culture shocked, heat exhausted, hungry, and penniless in the sense that even being in possession of an American dollar is a punishable offense for Cubans.

But. Sole and Yosi were calm and cool and Sobe was awesome and uniformed and flirting with Sole and greeting each of us with a huge smile and the bus was air-conditioned and Sole just handed out 100 CUPS to everyone and said, "We'll tally it up later," and off we went, our eyes boggling and bugging out at everything and Sole on the mic trying to explain to us what we were seeing.

And then, we were at the club and Sobe opened the door and the heat poured in and everyone loaded out, instruments in hand, and ushered in to a place that used to be a peanut processing factory but which now is a huge government sponsored art club with stages for music and acting and dancing and film showings and art installations.
The musicians did their ancient and familiar musician rituals with the sound man and the stage and instruments of wood and strings and human voice

 and the rest of us wandered around. One of the first things I saw was this.

Art on walls. I zoomed in.

And further.

My spirit totem animal.

I knew all was well.
And so it was.

Do you realize that it's going to take me longer to share this story, this dream, this journey, than it did to live it?

Ah well. I am having the time of my life. And I've had a beautiful day, doing laundry and messing about with plants and in the garden and I got to have a long, long conversation with my oldest friend from childhood on the phone and this is what we're having for supper.

Zipper cream peas with a little ham and a lot of onions. I was going to make a fancy Jamaican recipe with coconut milk and so forth with them but then I decided that for our first picking (and Mr. Moon shelled most of these while I was gone) we would have them as god intended with some onions, a little pig meat, and salt and pepper. Rice is cooking and I'm about to make a salad.

More tomorrow.

Love...Ms. Moon

Wandering The Dream Streets Again

This is what it looks like at one end of my front porch in Lloyd, Florida today and I am, for the first time in over a week, alone. It is raining gently here and coolish and the chickens are pecking out in the rain and going about their chicken business and I had dreams like movies last night, one of them a sort of video-game science fiction thing where the only way to escape the evil was to make moves and figure out what my powers were and how to access them. It was frightening as hell and I had to protect Lis and I kept waking up and then falling back asleep and falling right into the dream again until I finally got up for awhile to shake it out of my mind.

Here is the end of the balcony at Casa Miranda where Lis and I stayed in Cuba.

You can see why I felt a bit at home on that tiny balcony overlooking the narrow street between the old beautiful buildings, now cut up for housing into tiny, hot apartments with fans mounted on the walls. So much life spent on those tiny balconies where people came out to try and catch a breeze, to hang laundry, 

to keep some plants to provide a bit of green in that huge city, to simply observe what is going on and there was always, always something going on at every moment of the hottest hour of the day or the coolest hour of the night. 

But wait. Let me go back. 
And here's the thing- where is the beginning? It's so much like thinking of Cuba itself where I kept finding myself asking, "But what came before this? How did this lead to this? Where will it go? What does this mean? How is this possible? Why is the answer to this question different each time I ask it of another person?"

But. My beginning in this journey of course came from that phone call that Lis made me two weeks ago where she said, "There's a spot opening up. Can you come?"
And of course I dithered and pondered but there was really no time for that and finally it hit me with the force of a ton of bricks that the only answer to that question was yes because I am a human being and as such, am filled with perhaps even more curiosity than I am of trepidation and I would never get this opportunity again and the next thing I knew I was talking to a man named Yosi McIntire on the phone with his wife in the background (and they were in Sicily!) and I was finding documents online to fill out and print and panicking and yet, determined. 
Yosi and his wife of forty-two years, Soledad Pagliuca, are absolutely some of the most amazing people I've ever met. They travel the world and they lead groups to some of the places they love. They speak several languages and as I ask myself another question- WHY AM I SO GLAD I WENT ON THIS TRIP?- one of the first answers to spring to my mind is that I got to meet and spent time with Yosi and Sole. 

Lis and I were the last to get to Miami and got to the hotel where we were all staying right after the initial meet-up had begun in the lobby. 
"You're buying the first mojitos!" said Soledad and I came to learn that whenever anyone was late, they were threatened with having to buy mojitos for all.
And then I noticed that Sole had...wait for it...a diamond in one of her front teeth.

I swooned.

Over the days we were with them, my respect for them and delight in their company only increased. 
Here they are, dancing at a restaurant where music was being played.

They had so many friends in Cuba. The first we met was our bus driver whom we called Sobe because when he wasn't wearing his official bus driver suit, he dressed like a guy from South Beach and he, like all of the men we met through them, is in love with Sole. They would flirt outrageously and Sole would curse in Spanish, rolling her r's, making him laugh. They not only kept up with the entire group, energy-wise, but when we'd all get back on the bus at one or two in the morning, one of them would crack a bottle of Havana Club rum and pass it around, continuing the merriment, the joy, the celebration of each evening. 
And then, when I'd get up in the morning and go out to the little balcony, there would be Sole, standing at her balcony across the way.

"Good morning, Mary!" she'd call. "Have you and Lis had breakfast yet?"
And so the day would begin and soon we'd all meet up again and get on the bus or go on a walking tour, always stopping for the best lunches. 

But wait. Again. I've gone off my path. I am wandering around like the day Lis and Jim Quine and I stopped to talk to an old friend of Jim's when we were on our walking tour and lost the group and spent forty-five minutes trying to find the Street of Barbers where we knew our people were eating lunch somewhere. 
Here is the friend.

I mean- wouldn't you stop? How could you not stop? They are old friends and he has taken her photo many times and so there was much talk and laughter and hugs and hugs and hugs. 
And then we were lost except that we knew we were going to the Street of Barbers and so we went from taxi driver to police officer to ordinary citizen asking, "Por favor, donde esta la Calle de Barberos?"
And no one knew but finally someone did and there was the street and there were our people, settled in to a beautiful little restaurant, just ordering drinks, and everyone was glad to see us but no one was worried although everyone was a bit worried about one of us whom no one had seen since the hotel where they sold cigars. We found him though, when we delivered the people back to the hotel where the non-musicians were staying. He was sitting at the bar, having a beer and again, all was well, and again, I have gotten so far off my train of thought that I'm going to have to take a break here, do a few domestic chores, enjoy this rain and solitude, collect myself and begin again soon.

I think I am not going to worry so much about the continuity of this story. Fuck continuity. Continuity may well be a human construct as everything is happening at the same time over and over again and will be and has been and it may all be a dream anyway. 

Thank you for coming along down these wandering paths with me, for letting me tell you about this particular dream which is a dream of Cuba that I had. Truly, it might as well have been a dream with all of the vivid images of dreams and the lack of logic of dreams and the eternal questions of dreams which are...what did that mean and where did that come from?

Quien sabe?

Not me. 

See you in a little while. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Birthday Gathering And A Video From Cuba

Despite my vow that I was not going to be leaving Lloyd for at least a week, I somehow managed to go to Tallahassee twice today. Once to go to the store and once to go out to supper for Boppy's birthday. Not all of us could be there. Jason and Hank are working and of course Jessie is in Asheville still (STILL!) with Vergil and August but May and Michael and Lily and her children came and we were a merry party despite our missing lovies.
There's a beautiful picture of May holding Magnolia June. Two beautiful girls.
I could not for the life of me get a picture of the boys and Maggie with their grandfather on his birthday. I took four pictures with them posing but they were all just about ridiculous and the one I liked okay, Mr. Moon insisted that I delete. The man is as vain as I am.

Here's a cropped picture though of Gibson and his sister in Boppy's lap.

I got the boys hats from Cuba and of course they really have no idea of the significance but I told Owen that they are very rare and that probably very, very few boys in the United States own one of these hats. He took that in stride and they both wore them with great panache if you ask me. 
Maggie wanted to chew on them. Of course. 

I am very, very tired tonight and aching in all parts of this old bad ass body but I did figure out how to upload a video to Youtube which I took of a song that Lis did at Fabrica de Arte Cubano on Sunday night. I took the video from a doorway and of course the sound is not what it could be. The room was like a bunker, all cement, but the sound guys did the very best they could and the bouncers shushed people if they were talking. The point was to listen. And so we did. 
So I give this to you and it sums up a whole lot of what the trip was about. Sharing art, sharing culture, sharing hearts. Some of the musicians which we'd seen perform while we were eating supper the night before came to hear the Americans. This is a thing I learned about Cubans- they don't say they'll "try" to do something. If they say they'll do it, they will, and these guys did. Lis had given one of them her CD and when he came to see her the next night, he gave her a tiny oil painting that he had done of her using her picture on the CD cover as a guide. 
Such beautiful people. 

Here's the video. Jim Quine (the photographer I linked before we left) and Elisabeth Williamson. 

My mind and heart are full of Cuba

even as I sit here on the back porch of my own sweet home in the south.

And now, time to rest, to sleep, to dream of it all.

Love...Ms. Moon

How To Begin? Breakfast?

Good morning from Lloyd where I do not feel like a bad ass at all any more, that is over, done, and here I am, just an old woman again with her chickens and her cats and her darling husband whose birthday it is today.
Lord. I'm tired.
I am trying very hard to decide how to write about my trip. I don't want to let it go. I want to make it something that I can look back on and use to remember. I am not sure where to start.
Right now I am eating some watermelon that Mr. Moon cut up and an egg that Camellia laid which I scrambled. I am thinking of the breakfast that our landlady and her daughter made for us every morning.

First, coffee. It came in a nice little pot whose sister pot held hot milk. There were sugar and honey to go with. There was always a plate for each of us with cut-up pineapple, banana, mango, guava, papaya and watermelon. And an egg with carrots and cucumbers on the side. And a basket with bread. And a plate with cheese, guava paste, and butter. And a liquado- a smoothie of sorts, every day a different fruit being the main ingredient. 
Every morning. 
I couldn't possibly eat it all and to even touch it seemed like a small desecration of an art work.
I couldn't possibly express to Miranda, our hostess, how much I appreciated and enjoyed that breakfast. She spoke no English and my Spanish was vastly too small and inadequate.

I kept finding myself crying at the oddest times in Cuba, once in the art museum with such intensity that our group leader, Soledad, asked me with great concern if I was all right. 
Lis, my knowing sister-woman, said, "She does this. She's fine."

And I was. But I couldn't stop crying. 
A friend we'd made who was with us, a beautiful young man named Feliz, put his arms around me and said, "No, don't cry. Don't cry, Mary."
"It's okay," I told him. "It's just my heart is too much right now." 
He nestled his head between my head and shoulder, and patted me. 

Can you guess I am crying now?

I bought a poster of the picture which made me cry and I still can't tell you exactly what it is about that picture that burst my heart in two.

And here is a link to a website about the artist, Thomas Sanchez.

That work is entitled "Relacion."

If I have ever seen anything which represents "all is one" better than that, I don't know what it is. Perhaps that is why it makes me cry. 

And now I think perhaps I should go start some laundry. 

More later. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I'm Home

I am home. I am in Lloyd. I have had three martinis, I ain't gonna lie to you.
I am exhausted beyond belief. My darling dear husband has let me start to tell my story. I have greeted my chickens and Jack. Maurice has yet to be seen. She is probably so pissed at me.
I feel as if I have been on another planet. My head truly is exploding.
I went to Cuba with very few conceived ideas about what it would be like. Hell. You know- I had one week to get ready.
And now I have one billion questions about what is going on in that place where I spent four nights, five days. I have seen so much. I have heard so much. I have observed so much. I have met some of the most beautiful people I have ever met in my life.

I have seen Communism, I have seen with my own eyes what the American embargo has done to an entire nation.
Like this:
Say you want a light bulb. Okay. So it can't have been made in the USA and if one tiny part of it was made in a country who does business with the USA, you can't export it to Cuba.
Like that.

If you ever go to Cuba, take toilet paper.

That's all I have to say tonight. There will be so much more.

And I will say this- I am changed.
I am a 61 year old woman who has been to Cuba.

I'm  a fucking Bad Ass.

So to speak.

Can you believe that?

I would normally say, "Yeah, me either." But in this case I say:

I'm a fucking Bad Ass.

So is Lis. Who may have been the first person ever to play banjo in Cuba.
No fucking shit.

Love...Ms. Moon

Culture Shock And More Travel

We are still in Boca Raton where we spent the night in a fabulous hotel that we got for cheap on Th e Priceline. We are going to skip the yoga class and the fancy breakfast and head out. I probably have at least eight more hours of travel today and I don't feel well. Believe it or not I may have gotten sick from the damn hamburger we ate at ten o'clock last night. Or- who knows? I may have picked up a bug in Old Havana or I may just be exhausted. 
I want to get home to Lloyd and stay there for a week. I'm definitely going through culture shock. Trust me on that. 
I've been trying like hell to figure out how I'm going to write about everything and feel a desperate need to do so. 
I've missed everyone so. Trust me on that too. 
Off to find a yogurt. 
All love...Ms. Moon

P.S. Here's the place we stayed in Boca. Our room is as big as the entire apartment where Lis and I had a room in Havana. 
Not kidding. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mind Blown


Well, y'all, we went to Cuba and we came back. I took that picture from the top of the old Bacardi Building in Havana. 

I have a lot of pictures, even more stories, and a thousand more questions about Cuba than I did before I went. 

Lis and I are getting our asses out of Miami. Our flight out of Havana was delayed for hours due to weather and anyway, I must help Lis drive now. 

Back in the USA and Cuba was amazing. 

All is well. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In Three Hours

We should be arriving in Havana. The flight only takes an hour but we have the two hour wait before the flight. 
I don't even know what to say. Am I excited, nervous, disassociating, happy, wishing with all my heart I'd never agreed to this?
Yes, yes, yes, and so forth. 

All the feelings. 

But it's like that time I climbed to the top of the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan and that wasn't so bad but when I looked down from the top I thought I'd die and there was no way I was going to be able to make my way down those thousands of tiny steep steps but there was no alternative but to do it and I did and it'll be all right and probably amazing. 

Also? I found out that where we'll be staying has air conditioning. 
So. You know. 

This seems like a great group of people I'm with and I'm just overall grateful. 

Shit. I'm gonna miss y'all. 

I'll be in touch when I can. 

All love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today's Agenda

Gator Bone to Miami. 
We are ready. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Legend In Her Own Mind

Maurice kept me company all night and I slept late and now I mostly need to take things out of my suitcase and get on the road for Gator Bone.

You know, it will be amazing to be somewhere for four days where I won't have to think about things like Republicans who have refused to make even the most sane and basic changes in the gun laws of this country.

I will miss my family and my little world and my chickens and my garden but I won't miss the insanity of the constant barrage of news I allow myself to be exposed to.

It's incredibly hard to believe that a week ago today I had no idea I'd be packing up to leave on a journey which was going to have Havana, Cuba as its destination. Right now all I need to do is take a shower, pack up my every-day toiletries, pick out what little jewelry and make-up I am taking, and load it all in the car.

I've filled up the chicken waterers and will make Mr. Moon a list of what needs to be done around here. Not much. He mostly just needs to feed himself, the cats, the chickens. Maybe water the porch plants next weekend. Pick the beans that need picking.
Remember how much I love him. Take care of himself.
Until I get back to do that for him.

The other day when Owen was here, I told him that in Cuba, Lis was going to be playing in a club where Mick Jagger had been a few months ago and that I would be going with her there. A little while later I was telling him about something from my childhood. I don't even remember. And he said, "You know, Mer, you're almost legendary."
"Do you mean that in the way that I've had a really cool life or do you mean that in the way that I talk too much?"
"No. No. Really legendary."

This made me laugh so much.

I remember another conversation that Lily and I had with him a week or so ago about bravery. About how bravery isn't not being afraid. It's about being afraid of doing something but doing it anyway.

Believe it or not, those words helped me to decide to go to Cuba. Not that I need to prove to myself that I'm brave. I'm pretty sure I'm not. I mean, I'm hardly the first person ever to go to Cuba, or even the first old lady from the US to go to Cuba but I would like my grandson to think I am brave.
You know?
When he gets older, he certainly won't think of me as being legendary, but maybe he'll at least remember me as being interesting. Hell, I'll just be happy if he remembers me as someone who had chickens who laid eggs and who grew things in her garden that we could all eat.

Having been to Cuba is lagniappe and when he's a grown-up, perhaps people will be going to Mars and having a winter home in Cuba will be the norm.

I don't know. I'm rambling. Again.

I better eat some breakfast. And then begin my journey to a place I've wondered about my entire life.
It may be legendary.

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, June 20, 2016

This Is Your Brain On Anxiety/Nervousness/Excitement

I should be packing. Am I packing? No. Not at this moment. I am not packing. I will be packing soon. It has been a full, full day. I had to go to town and pick up things. Things I need. Plus, take Mr. Moon to get his rental car. I keep thinking that packing is going to be a breeze. I am not taking much in the way of clothes. A few dresses. Two skirts. Maybe two shirts. Underwear. Etc.
Also (and here it gets a bit more silly): Imodium, sun screen, bug repellant (because ZIKA! which I probably already have), ear plugs, herbal sleep aid, Benadryl, band-aids, Neosporin, Ibuprofen, Alka-Seltzer.
Plus, some other stuff.
I will be the nurse. Haha!

So today I was getting out of my car at the Walgreens and a car went by and a guy yelled out the window, "Where's my crack?!"
And I was like, "Dude, I have no idea where your crack is. Whoa. Maybe I'm at the wrong Walgreens." While I was waiting on my prescription (for 10 Valiums) a man in a wheel chair came up to me, right in my personal space and demanded that I let him use my phone. I had just heard the pharmacist tell him that he could use their phone in a minute.
"The pharmacist just said you could use his phone," I told the guy.
Part of me was like, He's in a wheelchair. I should let him use my phone and part of me was like, I don't care if he's in a wheelchair. He's fucking rude.
Luckily, just then the pharmacist called out, "Miss Mary!" and then put the phone where the guy could use it.
Boy. I was grateful.
So. I was called "Miss Mary" three times today. Once by the much younger receptionist at the Nurse Practitioner's office. Once at the pharmacy where I get my hormones, by a woman about the same age as I am. The third time, yes, at the Walgreens by the pharmacist there and he was a younger Asian man with an accent. Asian accent. Don't ask me what kind. I'm an American. I don't know shit. I feel bad about that but I don't.
Lord. I must look so old these days. Here in the south, we often use the honorarium "Miss" in front of a woman's first name when she gets old. I do it myself.
Guess it's my time and my turn. I don't really mind it. It's sort of sweet. Better than being addressed as "Hey old lady!" I guess.
As in, "Hey old lady, WHERE'S MY CRACK?"
At least crack guy didn't say that. 

Okay. There's that story.

Mr. Moon has gone to auction. He did not seem nearly depressed enough about my leaving for a week if you ask me.
"Do you love me?" I asked him after I kissed him good-bye.
"Yes. I love you," he said. Not in an overly tender way, either.
"But do you REALLY love me?"
"Yes. I really, really love you." At this point, I could tell he did not want to be questioned further about the matter and was ready to get on the road to Orlando.
I'm pathetic. You'd think after thirty-three years of being with him, I'd be a little more sure of this sort of thing.

But I'm not.

Did you hear that interview on NPR with the guy who is an expert on fish sentience?
I give the fuck up.
Not only do fish feel pain (and did we really doubt that?) but farmed salmon often get so depressed that they "give up on life."
What does that mean? Do they drown themselves?
I don't mean to make a joke about this. It's not funny. And to be honest- meat eating is absolutely a deep moral issue. I know it. You know it.
I was discussing this with May a little while ago. She does eat some fish but hasn't eaten meat-meat since she was about twelve. We decided that the most guilt-free animal protein on the planet is the eggs my chickens lay. I do not ask them to lay eggs, I do not force them to lay eggs, I do not constrain or restrain them to lay eggs. They simply lay eggs and then get up and leave them. They don't seem to care a whit that I steal them. Not one bit.
Not a whit nor a bit.

The sun is going down. It's the Golden Hour.

It is the Summer Solstice. Is that right? And tonight is a full moon.

This is Calle Teniente Rey which is where the place is I'll be staying in Cuba. It is in "old Havana." I still have no idea what "the place" will be like. I'm not worried about that. Here's the main, main, MAIN thing I am worried about- that I will not be able to stay up until the early morning hours which seem to be required on this journey. As I have said, the musicians I am going with do not start their performances until 11:00 p.m. And I know musicians and I know clubs and I know that 11:00 p.m. could well mean 11:45 p.m. Or later. And that's just in the United States!
I talked to Lis this morning and we made a mutual vow not to allow each other to either eat or drink too much so that we will be alert and peppy and so forth.
I'll let you know how that goes. Of course Lis, being a musician, has no problem staying up until the wee hours. Her problem is going to sleep at a reasonable time.
"Reasonable," by my definition, being before midnight.
I, on the other hand, frequently take a two-hour nap in the afternoon so that I can stay awake until, oh, say 10:30.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration but not by much.

Laundry. Packing. Supper.

I should eat a damn salad for supper. Or leftover green beans and rice. Maybe an egg.

Does reading these posts cause anxiety in the reader?
I hope not. I have enough for all of us.
More than enough.

If I pack, I'm really going, right?

I better pack.

Love...Ms. Moon

Hello, Pen Pals!

Those are some hydrangea blossoms that Lily brought over last night for her daddy for Father's Day. They are growing in her yard and I think they are simply magnificent.

So. How are you? I am fine.
I just drank a smoothie and now I feel like I might puke. But hey- you know. So what?

I have talked to Lis this morning. Thank god she is so calm and collected. Tomorrow I'll be driving over to Gator Bone, spend the night there and then we'll drive to Miami, and on Thursday, we'll be flying to Havana.
Yes. I know. I've told you this before. I keep repeating it in a futile attempt to wrap my head around it.

One of the people going on this trip is a fellow musician and long-time friend of Lon and Lis's. His name is Jim Quine and he is also an amazing photographer and has been journeying to and photographing Cuba for many years.
Here's a link to his web site. His photos are stunning.
I'm so glad he's going.

So. I'm about to go to town to pick up my car because Mr. Moon took it in for an oil change, tire rotation, cleaning, etc. Mr. Moon IS the Car Guy, you know.
He takes such good care of me. It's very hard for me to believe I am leaving the country without him. Not to be all 50's housewife and shit, but he's my rock and my foundation and the one who always figures out the check when we're in Mexico.

Anyway, la-di-dah. I have a lot to do and need to get going.
I have been suffering from a lack of August (i.e. LOA) and here are two pictures that Jessie sent me this morning.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that he is growing up way too fast and that he is stinkin', darn cute. 
My heart yearns for him. I miss his mama and daddy too, to tell you the truth. 

So that's about it. 

Must run now. 

Yours truly...Ms. Moon

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Celebration

I am at about the point of true hysteria due to massive chaos and love and noise and energy all racketing around my kitchen, my house, my life, my heart in the last few hours.

Here are some pictures. 

Garden food.

Brotherly love.

 Pretty much sums it all up.

Boppy's cards.

Daddy's cards.

May and Michael and the homemade vanilla ice cream. 

At one point as we were eating, Gibson insisted that we all hold hands and repeat after him these words:
"Abacabooy. Abacazahm. I love you forever."

We did. 
We will. 

And why was Owen wearing his Christmas pajamas? 
Because his father said he could. 

Of course. 

Sleep. Now. Thank you. 

Love...Ms. Moon

And Another Thing

I wanted to add something to what I wrote earlier today which was inspired by a picture posted on Facebook of a man whom I knew when I was young. He was the father of friends of mine and one of his daughters posted the picture.
I looked at it and burst into tears because that man was the epitome of what I would have wanted in a daddy when I was young. He was kind, he was nonjudgemental, he was incredibly intelligent, he was loving towards his wife and all of his children AND he accepted the friends of his children unconditionally and with respect. Once, when we were teenagers and many of us were from homes that were far from perfect and our behavior was beginning to reflect that, he and his wife gathered all of us together one evening and told us in no uncertain terms that they loved us and that if any of us needed help any where in any way at any time, we were to call them and they would be there for us. That we were all amazing people and not to forget that.

This man was a Christian and when I think of the "good" and "real" Christians I have ever known, I think of him and his wife and of Jimmy Carter.

I will never forget that man's kindness nor his honesty nor his true caring. His wife, Ann, was just like him. And I would like to point out that you do not have to be someone's father to show fatherly love and care and concern for them. A man who will treat a child who is not his own the way this man did will never know the influence he can have on a life.

Here's the picture. His name was Carroll Teeter. He was holding his twin daughters who, no surprise, grew up to become amazing, loving, talented humans beings who also influenced my life far more than they will ever know.

I guess the point is, is that it does indeed take a village and that showing kindness towards children is one of the best things that anyone can do for the human race and that love offered without thought of reward is a gift that anyone can give and which will reach out into the universe in a way that hate and mistreatment and cruelty never, ever will.

The last time I saw Mr. and Mrs. Teeter, I had gone by to visit them in Winter Haven. I was all grown up and a mother by then and had changed considerably by that time of course, but when Mrs. Teeter saw me she immediately said, "Is that our MARY?" and I will never forget that either and I was welcomed into their arms and home as if I had never left, as if I was truly one of theirs.

And I will never forget and I will always be eternally grateful that I knew them and was loved by them and my memories of them inspire me to try and be a better person myself, to be accepting, to be respectful, to be loving. That love is the strongest thing of all.


I wish I could be half the humans they were. I wish I could tell them how much I loved them, how they found a place in my heart which was empty and so very dark and made their way into that place and filled it with a light I did not know existed and in doing that, they helped me to become a better person, a better parent, and a woman who could recognize and fall in love with a good and light-filled man myself.

And I carry all of that with me to this day and I just wanted to say that, to testify, to share a little of that light which still resides in my heart to this very moment so strongly that sometimes the mere thought of them and their kindness bursts out and I cry and that is the way it should be.

Father's Day Ambivalence, Weighted Heavily On The Side Of Gratefulness

Father's Day is tough for me and today is tough for me just on general principle. I mean, it's Sunday and I'm not ready in the least to leave on this trip and I basically leave on Tuesday to drive to Gator Bone and then to Miami the next day to fly to Havana which, no matter how many times I say it, doesn't make it real in my head but real enough that I'm a quaking mess right now and wish someone would talk me down. My husband is like Lis in that no matter what, they are optimistic and loving people who trust in the Universe in a way that I never can or will and I feel like saying to Lis right now, "This is a fine mess you've gotten me into," but of course I will end up thanking her a million times and I know that but logic and rationality have slipped away and may be hiding in a tiny child's coin purse that I lost about fifty-eight years ago.

Father's Day. Well, thanks, Dad, for being a hopeless drunk (not your fault, I'm sure) who disappeared from my life when I was five and really, thanks Mom for getting us the hell out of his life when he got that gun and almost set the house on fire.
I hear, Dad, that you tried to come and see us in Florida but when you were in Tallahassee on your way, you left the woman you were traveling with at a motel (just like you left my mother in a hotel on your honeymoon) to go on a binge and when you got back, that woman had hung herself, or something and you spent a few days in jail under suspicion of murder and this story may or may not be true.
Who knows?

One time you did get me a wallet with a cowboy wearing furry chaps on it.
Wonder where that went? Maybe that's where my optimism is, in that wallet, not a coin purse at all.

My grandfather became my father-figure and he was all the things that a boy scout should be but he wasn't exactly affectionate and he had no need to instill a sense of self-esteem in children and in fact, the very idea would have been completely mysterious to him but he was a good man and offered safety and read long books to me and played checkers with me and once, I remember him laughing at the Flintstones and honestly, he was a good, kind man and he never asked for the job of taking on two kids and their broken mother that late in his life and he handled it all with as much grace as he could and I am grateful for that.

I don't feel like talking about my stepfather.

So anyway, the best thing I've ever done was to provide my own children with a magnificent, splendid father who came with his own magnificent, splendid dad, and now my grandchildren have fathers who are the best, the Burrito Supremes, the Big Bens, the Pacific Oceans, the Holy Grails of daddies and so I rest easy on those thoughts.

It is a most beautiful day and the heat has been broken, at least for now, and I am going to make Mr. Moon some pancakes and then later on Lily and Jason and the kids are coming over for Father's Day supper and I'd just like to say to all of the good daddies out there that you have no idea whatsoever how important you are, not just in the lives of your own children, but in the lives of human beings who themselves will grow up as stellar humans, safe in the knowledge that they were loved and protected and provided for and a lifetime of therapy can't begin to replicate the results of that sort of love. Trust me. I know.

I did good. I married Mr. Moon. We had kids and he was and continues to be a wonderful father to them and to the ones I already had and those two had a daddy who was kind to them and still is and has given them a hell of a lot of good daddying and who also married a woman who was/is a wonderful step-mother whose own father was yet another amazing man who, like Mr. Moon's father, just loved and inspired all the children who came into his life.

There. Father's Day.

Gold rings on all the good ones.

Love...Ms. Moon

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Peace For Now

The rain pours down and twenty minutes ago I was in the garden with the chickens, pulling weeds as fast as I could because I knew the storm was coming. 

I didn't get a whole lot done but at least my bonsai okra is cleared out, the finished up cilantro pulled, and a few of the weeds pulled from around the cucumbers. I love to work with the chickens around me. They are so companionable, so busy scratching and bug snatching and pecking at whatever they can find. 

They neither ignore me nor pay attention to my presence unless I throw them a centipede. They know I'm there but I am of no more importance to them than the squirrels in the trees or the thunder beginning to rumble from the south. I wonder why I feel so soothed and comforted by this, by their mere uncaring company? Some people love the way dogs are so devoted to them, the way they listen to them, react to their every move, so obviously need them. Not me. I feel far more comfortable with the chickens and the cats who cannot be coaxed to do one damn thing they don't want to do but I will be honest with you- I feel honored when the cats do decide to keep company with me and like this morning when I woke up to find Maurice snuggled beside me in my bed, I am loathe to break that spell. 

But the chickens fled for shelter when I did when the rain began to pour down upon us. I came in to find shelter myself, stripping myself of my muddy clothes in the laundry room and I set the tomatoes and cucumbers I'd brought in on the towel beside the sink after I rinsed them off. We are not getting a great harvest of either but a few. A few. Enough to goad me gently on in my garden efforts. 

I did not do much today. I realized, a few hours after writing my earlier post, that my nervousness had bled into anxiety. I lived with it for quite a while and then took one of my precious hoarded Ativan and then got out my Old Navy dress and quite carefully and with unusual (for me) care, I measured and marked the hem where I wanted to cut it and did that and then got out the old, old Singer and hemmed it up. I am happy with it now, and even took in the seams a bit under my arms where it was a bit gappy. I will wear it with a sequined scarf that Lis gave me years ago when we go to the Fabrica de Arte Cuba which is where Lis and the other musicians will be playing which is supposedly the hottest place to be in Havana, where even Mick Jagger played and danced when he was there with the Stones. I found a video about it and watched it and I realized that it doesn't matter what I wear because like Asheville, it is way too cool for me and it doesn't matter, doesn't matter a bit.

And I tried on my incredibly glittery faux Birkenstocks and they pleased me with their golden hippie funk and I tried to imagine what it's going to be like to be there with Lis and with Sam Pacetti whom I've known forever, since he was eighteen and I gave him a shot of rum before he went onstage at the Gamble Rogers folk festival in St. Augustine and somehow I can't reconcile all of this but can you imagine what it's going to be like?
No. Nor can I.

I have been thinking about what my true role will be in this trip. Of course many, many Americans have visited Cuba already in the last few years and I have no music to offer, no charismatic musician glow or charm to shed. All I will have is my very own self. American, yes, but truthfully, I can be nothing more than a representative of what I am, which is a woman who is getting on in years, who has grandchildren and who grows things in the dirt and who cooks, loves, and keeps chickens.
Will this be of any value whatsoever?
Will I get to talk to anyone on a heart-to-heart basis?
I wish I could still dance the way I used to dance before I completely fucked up my hip (dancing). I wish I could speak Spanish beyond the merest tourist bullshit.
Por favor.
Muy rica. 
Buenos dias, buenos tardes, buenos noches. 
Gracious por tu hospitalidad.
Donde esta los banos? 
Perhaps all I need to know is this:
Mi nombre es Maria Luna. Como te llamas?Estoy tan feliz de estar en Cuba. Su pais es hermoso.
And perhaps, Si, uno mas Cuba Libre por favor. 
Or is that political?
I suppose I will find out.

The rain is still coming down. I swear, the very sky and air are green. Mr. Moon is off fishing for catfish. I am going to heat up last night's rice and green beans tangine.

Here is what I will supposedly be doing next Saturday:

Saturday June 25:
Morning: free
Afternoon: Walking tour of  turn-of-the-century Havana architecture ending with a guided tour of the National Museum of Cuban Art
Evening: dinner at private restaurant
9 pm watch the traditional canon shoot at Fort CabaƱos  + F.A.C. with Cuban musicians

Canon shoot? Really? Okay. Okay. But old Havana!
Why do I feel as if I have been there before?
Once again, I'll let you know when I return.

Love...Ms. Moon

Mental Health Awareness Memo Along With Pictures

I believe I may have received a document via Dropbox yesterday concerning what I'm supposed to be taking to Cuba.
If I could figure out how to open the fucker, all might be revealed. As it is, I am clueless.

So. Saturday morning. Have I told you that I have weaned myself off my anti-depressant? This happened almost by accident and I have hesitated to mention this because (a) I do not want to jinx things and, (b) what works for me might not work for you, and also, (c) this is early days and it may have been a bad idea.

I had no idea I was about to travel to Cuba when this weaning occurred. None.
But so far, I am doing quite well and seem to have less muscle and joint pain as well as improved dreams AND when I wake up, I do not feel as if I want to slash my wrists every morning. This may be a by-product of the better dreams. I would not be surprised.

Also, I do not seem to be any more anxious or depressed than I have been and in fact, my anxiousness could be more accurately described as "nervousness" which I think is entirely appropriate in my present situation.

What is the difference between anxiety and nervousness? Well, it's sort of hard to say. Nervousness seems uncomfortable but manageable and normal. Something you might feel before going onstage or before meeting someone for the first time whom you truly admire, or going to a job interview, or going on a first date. Your stomach may hurt. You may experience feelings of not being adequately prepared. There may even be a tinge of excitement coloring the feeling.
Anxiety, on the other hand, may have no basis whatsoever in logic. It is, by definition, irrational. It overtakes the mind and the body. It is the same feeling you would have if a large wild animal was threatening you with teeth and with claws. It is, in short, panic. Constant and unrelenting panic.
It is crippling for body and for mind. It is the constant coursing through of the body of all of the fight-or-flight hormones when there is no reason for them and nothing to do with them except to shake and fear and in my experience, there is no alternative but to seek help.

So yeah. I'm not feeling that way. Nervousness? Yes. Oh hell yes. Anxiety? Maybe a teeny bit but not so much.
I think my adrenals are perhaps working overtime. I find my focus is all over the place. My stomach is a mess. I can feel a flush of nerves rush from head to fingers and toes more than I would like. I become exhausted easily. My ability to cope with outside distraction is limited.
But I can live with this.
I can make lists. I can almost laugh at myself.

So I think I'm all right for the moment. But it's odd. I can feel my brain resetting itself into the new reality of being without the medication. This on top of everything else is somewhat unsettling but I am being patient with myself and recognizing it all for what it is.
But I tell you what- if the anxiety returns, OR the depression (which is a whole different monster), I will go back on the drugs.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures I took today of the beautiful kingdom where I am so fortunate to live.

The African violets entrusted into my care by Jessie. I have not yet killed them and in fact, they look pretty healthy. This is a first for me and African violets. My mother was a master at growing them. Hers grew to the size of dinner plates and bloomed constantly and profusely. She could start a new plant with a leaf and often did. Which of course is probably why I've killed every one I've ever tried to grow. I believe the success with these is probably due to the fact that I put them out on that new plant stand where they are almost completely ignored.

What is this plant? I'm sure someone has told me before but I can't remember. It's a beautiful bloom. You can get lost in it.

The figs are swelling. The branches are about to bend under their lovely weight.

The lady Golden Orb Weavers have selected their websites (haha!) and have begun to weave their strong strands to create their summer homes. They are still small but will grow to massive proportions as we all know. Their webs are already strong enough to make me bounce off of them if I inadvertently and inattentively run into one. 

The wild phlox which I transplanted here 12 years ago from my old yard is starting to bloom and in the places I've let it go untended, it is becoming jungle-like. 

I think I will do some inside work this afternoon and then later on, go out and do garden work. I crave it. This will require far more bug repellant than I'd like but it's either use the shit or don't go out. The mosquitoes are that bad. 
Mr. Moon is mowing the yard right now and later on he is going to a friend's house to help him with his dock in some way that I am unclear about and then do some catfish fishing. If he gets enough, perhaps we shall have a little catfish dinner tomorrow night for Father's Day.

I wish I could open that Dropbox and find out exactly what it is I need to know about this trip. It would sure make the list-making easier. 
But I am not freaking out about it. 

Love...Ms. Moon