Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hey! Grab That Branch And Keep Hanging On!

As you can see, Magnolia June is a little bit sick with a cold but that just gives her rosier cheeks. There she is with her handsome daddy who adores her.
And I adore him.

Yes, yes, we went out for lunch again. Hank and Rachel met us this time and Jason got to come too. Our waiter's face is becoming as familiar to me as a family member's.
"Are you just so thrilled to see us again?" I asked him as we were sitting down.
"Oh yes," he said.
Well, we do tip nicely, all of us having been servers at one point or another.

After lunch I went to the main library, the BIG library. I rarely go there anymore since they built the branch library on the east side of town but sometimes I do and when I do, I am amazed once again by how wonderful libraries are with their books and their internet and their magazines and audio books and DVD's and music CD's and newspapers and atlases and just all of it. Libraries are my favorite indoor space and as I have said so many times before, the absolute highest proof of civilization.
A building dedicated to knowledge where no one asks you for a penny.
Our libraries are handing out free vegetable seeds again. We are allowed to get three packets a month and today I got two packets of slow-bolting cilantro and one of arugula. They do this in the spring and in the summer and give out seeds which are seasonal.
Books AND seeds? For free?

I eavesdropped on a conversation between two men sitting at a table by the new fiction. One of them said, "There's something wrong with that woman," and I was so afraid they were talking about Hilary Clinton and that then they were going to go into some horrible racist tirade and I was going to have to search my conscience and heart to decide whether to say anything or not- and what would the ethics be there?- but as I kept listening I realized they were talking about celebrities like the Kardashians and other reality TV personalities and how these women freak out if they break a fingernail and other "bullshit like that," and I sort of wanted to sit down and chat with them about these issues but of course I did not. I did note that for people who are so disdainful of reality TV, they sure did know a lot about it. I mean, at least I ADMIT that the fact that Luann on the Real Housewives of NYC is getting a divorce from her husband of seven months is something I find endlessly entertaining.

And then I just came home. I did not go to Publix or Costco or anywhere else and I have spent the entire afternoon sewing and just loving it. I figured out the ruffle on the shoulder strap by completely eliminating it and I am not putting a zipper in (a zipper in a toddler dress? oh, fuck no) but have sewn little loops on the back and will go through my button box to find buttons to put there and maybe on the pockets as well. I'm down to the ruffle on the bottom but I think I may redo the attachment of the bodice to the skirt because I'm not happy with the way it's done now but we'll see. I am so grateful that I have rediscovered sewing because it's something I can do in the air conditioning which is still somewhat productive, a bit creative, meditative, and actually of some use. I just cannot bring myself to work outside right now, not even to go and pick up downed branches to drag to the burn pile. It's all I can do to walk to the hen house and check for eggs.

Speaking of which, I was looking at Dottie's babies today as they pecked at their scratch and suddenly it hit me that all three of them could be roosters. Why hasn't this occurred to me before? I already have three too many roosters.
Oh Lord.

Well, I think that's probably the down home equivalent of breaking a fingernail or some bullshit like that so I'll end this now.
I'm not going to talk about politics today. It is all too obvious what's going on. I will say that I heard part of an interview with Al Gore and he seems to be such an intelligent, hopeful, wise, and informed human being that it gave me the tiniest reassurance that perhaps this country will survive.

Carry on my wayward friends. I'm going to go heat up some leftovers.

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blessing Friend

Today just happens to be the birthday of one of those friends I made in the sixth grade. She became one of my best friends and in high school, we were those two who told each other everything (almost) and got in trouble together and got out of trouble together and were the first to ride bikes to school (in 1972 it was SO uncool to ride a bicycle to school in high school) and the first to go to the Army-Navy store to get backpacks for our books (unheard of) and bitched and moaned about Mr. Fink, our algebra teacher and then two years later, Miss Smith, our trig teacher and all of that time we were still in Girl Scouts and we did all sorts of awesome teenage things and bonded for life.
She went to Emory and met a med student and married him although her daddy was a doctor and she'd sworn up and down she'd never marry one herself. He turned, eventually, into a neurosurgeon and I married a guitar player.
She had two kids and I had four, two with the guitar player and two with Mr. Moon. She's got three grandchildren now and I have four, soon to be five.
And in all of these years, which is fifty-one now, to be exact, we've always stayed in touch. Always been, in fact, a sort of touchstone for each other. We can go six months without talking on the phone but we sure as shit don't need to tell each other who we are when we do talk.
She's been through some amazingly hard things, this friend of mine. Medical challenges both of her own and her husband's. Her beloved sister died a few years back and then one of her brothers died.
Her mama though, is still with us but her father died some time back. They used to travel all over the world, her mama and daddy. I remember when they went to London and went to Carnaby Street which was probably the hippest shopping street in the world at that time and bought one of their sons a pair of paisley pants which was EARTH SHAKING and when he wore them to school in the 9th grade, he got sent home.

It's really something to have a friend for this long a time. One of us can name a name and the other knows exactly who we're talking about. We share so many memories in common. It's odd to think of that, in a way. Things that no one else in this world remembers but one other person. Memories that can make you sigh or laugh or yearn or groan or blush or wonder at, still after all these years. Memories of things that were absolutely formative in your life. That are a major part of the reason you grew up to be who you are.

I got my first kiss leaning up against her mama's car at Cotillion. I was wearing blue velvet that night, she was wearing green velvet and she caught me kissing a boy everyone called Mafia because he wore sunglasses all the time.
"Mmmm..." she said. "We won't be able to say sweet sixteen and never been kissed about you now, will we?"

So of course I called her this evening and of course she knew it was me right away although yes, we do have caller ID now but we don't need it, not the two of us.
Her husband was making her dinner and her kids are coming to visit this weekend and are bringing the grandboys. We talked and talked and one of the things we talked about was damn! how can we be this old?
She said that she'd talked to her brother who's a year older than we our on his birthday and they'd agreed that back in the day when we'd all sung the lyrics of "When I'm Sixty Four" we had no idea how quickly that day would come for us.

I feel so lucky to be able to pick up the phone and call this woman.
"Hey," we say to each other, stretching that one syllable out into three. And with the sound of her voice, there's a part of me which feels completely at home. There's a part of me which is the other half of the puzzle to her.

I tend chickens and she works full time for the American Cancer Society. She lives in Maryland and I live in Florida. She had red hair and I had blonde.
She married a doctor and I definitely didn't.

None of that matters.

We are who we are, and we also are who we were and no one knows those people better than the two of us.

Happy birthday, my sweet friend.

I will always love you...Mary

My First Baby Love: Trigger Warning

So there we were in Winter Haven and eventually and at long last, my ground-itched foot healed and I made friends and I realized that I was pretty okay in the intellect department and I loved my Girl Scout meetings where we planned camping trips and did crafts and sang, and I was doing things like going to slumber parties and reading, reading, reading from an unlimited supply of library books and all of that was good.
But as Mother's time to deliver grew closer, she became more and more worried and anxious and I surely do understand that. She was thirty-nine, no spring chicken, and her baby was big and a few days before she went into labor she showed me the new sheets she had bought that were washed and folded in the linen closet in the bathroom and told me that if the baby lived, I was to make up her and C.'s bed with these new pink sheets before she got home from the hospital.
If the baby lived. 
I was twelve.

The baby lived. My baby brother Chuck and oh, how I adored him and every sweet baby thing about him. Redheaded and perfect and rosy and glorious.
Mother wanted to nurse him. She tried to nurse him. It didn't work and she felt awful. She always blamed the fact that she couldn't nurse on the drugs they gave her after her stillbirth to dry up the vast amounts of milk she had then. This could be true, I suppose, but I also blame the thinking on nursing when Chuck was born. A strict schedule had to be adhered to. The nipples had to be cleaned with alcohol before nursing. So many minutes (exactly) on one side, then that many minutes again on the other side. Done.
Soon I had learned to sterilize bottles and make formula.
Soylac. I remember that.
I was also washing diapers and cooking simple meals for the family.
Mother may have had postpartum depression. I don't know. But things weren't perfect around the house. That I know.
She was pregnant again in three months. She began to get headaches. Terrible, have-to-go-to-bed headaches. Her OB put her on a no-salt diet. It didn't help. She spent a lot of time in a darkened bedroom. C. had headaches too.
What fun!
I don't remember a lot from then.
I remember my birthday the summer I turned 13. C. took me on another date. Another steakhouse. He wrote me a poem.
I remember before 7th grade started C. took me clothes shopping. Again- Mother thought this was so ducky. He took me to Montgomery Wards. Fashion plus, oh yes.
He bought me bras.
I read the Bible. I watched Billy Graham on the TV telling us to take our sins and cares to Jesus on our knees. I knelt beside my bed and prayed and prayed.
Often, while I was praying, C. would come into my room to "tell me goodnight."

They found a house for us to buy. It was right around the corner, across the street from a lake. Everything in Winter Haven is on a lake. It is the City of One Hundred Lakes. This is what I remember from right before we moved:
Mother and C. and Granny M. were talking about who would sleep in each bedroom. There were three. Mother and Granny M. thought I should get the room the daughter of the former owners had had. It was at the front of the house, the farthest from the room that Mother and C. would sleep in because Chuck and the new baby's cribs would be in a sort of closed-in breezeway right next and connected to that one.
C. protested about this.
(And I was eavesdropping on this conversation AND it got loud.)
"What's she going to do?" he thundered? "Have boyfriends sneak into her room and have sex with them?"
I was twelve. Maybe thirteen. Had not even started my period. The idea of me having any sort of boyfriend whatsoever was far in the distant future. I spent my days going to school, doing homework, helping with baby care, cooking, laundry, reading, and playing with friends.
Mother and Mrs. M. were horrified, shocked, incredulous.
"What are you talking about?" they asked, their voices filled with disbelief.
He was so upset. So upset.
I think that's when Granny M. got a clue or at least was put on alert.
I have no idea what Mother thought. None at all.
And meanwhile, Chuck's crib had been put in my room and frankly, I was so happy to have him there.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I Think We Know What Side He's On

This picture has nothing to do with anything but I like it. So there you are- your nature picture of the day from Ms. Moon.

Now. So.
After reading that obviously not-written-by-him statement yesterday (I was amazed he knew how to say "egregious") as if he had a gun held to his back, DT showed his true colors today at a press conference saying once again that the violence in Charlottesville was the fault of not only the alt-right, but also the "alt-left and" we'd know that if the media had reported the truth of the matter.

How many times can this man fuck himself in the butt and still remain president? He's pissed off everyone BUT the white supremacists, Nazis, and KKK. Those guys are thrilled.

You know what I think? I think he knows that the result of Russia investigation is going to be that he goes down in flames and probably ends up in prison and this is all just a smokescreen.
Not that I don't think he's a white supremacist himself. I do.
Honestly, I don't know whether it's the smokescreen thing, that he's evil, that he's delusional, that he's insane, that he's dumb as a bag of hammers, or all of that.
Probably all of that.
And anyone who voted for him is at least delusional, dumb as a bag of hammers, and insane.
I'll leave "evil" up to the individual situation.

Well, as Hank said on Facebook today, "That happened."

He also posted a picture of me from when I was about six.

Actually, two pictures. Well, two prints, one picture.

The roaches have obviously been at it. 
As I said in my comment to the picture, "Who the hell was doing my hair?"
I think that the answer might be, "No one." 
I can remember jamming those plastic headbands on my head to push my hair back, the little teeth gripping my scalp in such a satisfactory way. 
And what a good look. 

What else is on the big wheel to talk about? Nothing at all compared to what's going on in DC. I mean, I shelled a bunch of peas and I picked more. I am running out of room for eggs. The roosters, as we speak, are calling in the hens and trying to fuck them all. I had to go to town again today to sign some papers. I went to the library and checked out a biography of Hemingway. I am making field peas and okra and tomatoes and cornbread for dinner. My thoughts are as scattered and unfocused as those crepe myrtle blossoms in that top picture but not nearly as pleasing. I want to cry and I want to laugh and I want desperately to wake up and find that Hillary Clinton is the president. 

I recommend that you go and read Angella's post from tonight if you haven't done so already. 

I want to say that this video may seem to have nothing, nothing at all to do with what's going on these days but I want to say that if you watch it you will see that it does. 

Love and respect. Coming together for the joy of art. Defining pride as that which is earned.
The blues. And maybe most of all- honesty.

Something like that.
I don't know.
I don't know shit.

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Just Life

Jesus god I'm dragging around like my dog died and I don't even know why although I'm sure writing down these memories and thoughts is having an effect and at this point, it's not a very happy effect but hell- how could it?
Also, I'm dragging around because my hips are screaming "help! help!" and I know if I lost some damn weight they'd quiet down to more of a polite, "help! help!" but that doesn't seem to be happening. I was almost hoping that my blood work would show that my thyroid isn't doing its job and I could take some medicine and miraculously, all would be better but it didn't.

But, you know, the day has held some good things. Here are some pictures Lily sent this morning.

Can you tell who's the most excited for school to start? Can you even handle Gibson? A cross between a super hero and Zoolander. Owen's best friend in school for the past two years is going to a different school this year and that makes him sad. Remember Chase? The sweet fella who ate with Owen in the classroom because eating in the lunchroom seemed to cause some seizure activity in him last year? 
And he has every right to be sad. He loves Chase. 
And by the way, it's been a seizure-free summer and like Elizabeth, I hate to tempt the fortunes but it's true and knock wood. 
I hope that Owen makes a new really good friend this year and at least all of the girls who have crushes on him will be able to see him again. I haven't asked about his girlfriend in quite some time and he hasn't mentioned her either so I don't know what's happening there. 

Anyway, I went to town today and had lunch with Lily and Lauren and Magnolia. 
Oh, that little girl. 
She is absolutely a Bessie Pease Guttman painting of a baby

as I have said before and when I take her in my arms, she leans her head up against mine and holds it there for so long. And I melt. 
And for a moment all of the memories and the dreams and the worries and the fears and the guilt and the shame and the grief melt away and I am holding life and it is so good. 

I saw Dearie today. I was afraid that he'd taken off with a few hens for Mexico like the hero in a romance novel. 
"We'll leave it all behind and we'll live our own true lives, our truth, our LOVE!" 

I wouldn't blame him. Not one bit. 

Let's hope for a sweet tomorrow. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Domestic Frustrations And Successes

If yesterday was filled with busy-ness, today has been filled with sitting in a chair and studying the directions for the sewing together of this dress, specifically the straps, strap ruffles and bodice and bodice lining. I have studied, pinned, basted, ripped out, studied, pinned, basted, ripped out over and over again.
This makes me feel so stupid. I mean- I can read. There are pictures.

I finally put it down and went and took a little nap, waking up when I thought I heard Mr. Moon coming in from Georgia but it was merely one of the cats, probably Jack, jumping from something to the ground. He is so big and so heavy that he sounds like a human. Or perhaps a rhinoceros. I got up anyway and drank some coffee and studied and pinned and basted and ripped out some more.
And now I've put it down for the day for sure and Mr. Moon is home and has made us martinis, both with a pickled okra in them and I have to say that these are the most delicious pickled okra I may ever have eaten and I wish I had about a bucketful of okra to pickle. They are crisp and they are spicy and they have just the slightest sweetness to them.
I mostly used the recipe which you can find HERE although I didn't have apple cider vinegar and so used white vinegar and didn't have mustard seeds so I didn't use mustard seeds and also I added dry dill weed and used more dried red pepper flakes and garlic than the recipe called for but besides that, I TOTALLY FOLLOWED THE RECIPE!
I am southern and as such, I need more heat and more garlic and that is that and cooking is one part science, one part recipe, and all the rest parts intuition and what-you-have-at-hand.

I think I am missing three chickens. I have not seen Dearie all day long and a few of the hens are missing too. There ain't much I can do about that and maybe they'll turn up tomorrow. Dottie and her little's were out again all day, scratching and pecking and they, at least, are safe and sound and Dottie has brought them to bed. I got six lovely eggs and I have noticed that Owl and Lucy are being courted and mated so they should start laying soon. I think their eggs will be colored some shade other than brown or white and I am excited to see what they will look like.

And so it goes.

Tomorrow Owen will be starting the second grade and Gibson will be starting kindergarten. Maggie will be missing her brothers so much but think of how happy they will all be when school is over and they are all back together again. Here's a picture I stole from FB of Gibson and Maggie from their family festivity today. Their last-day-before-school-starts fun.

My babies. My babies, my babies, my babies.

And that's probably my mantra.

Love...Ms. Moon

Another Sip From The Big Bowl Of Wrong: Trigger Warning

In writing about the sexual abuse which occurred specifically to me I have not followed a plan. It has been a fairly chronological accounting of how a pedophile can step into a situation and unleash his or her illness.
Mainly, there has to be dysfunction of some kind to allow the predator to go about his or her molestation. There are, let's face it, a million types of dysfunction and they can range from alcoholism and drug abuse to mental illness to poverty to narcissism on the part of a parent or caretaker to physical illness to divorce to domestic abuse to...
I can't even list them all.
But the situation almost always involves a child who because of one thing or another feels a lack of love and attention and a parent who, if not complicit in the abuse, is too blinded by a myriad of problems to notice or register what is going on.

My dreams lately have been about living in my mother's house. It's always her house. And she allows C. to live there too. They are both older by far than they were when I actually lived at home. I am being forced to live there by financial circumstances and I am always enraged that my mother is allowing C. to still live with her in this house of hers. C. does not molest me but his very presence makes me angry and sick and revolted and frightened. In last night's dream I was forced to pee in a dresser drawer because C. was in the bathroom, naked, and refused to come out.
Now this is something that never, as far as I know, happened. But it is very common for an abused child to feel as if he or she has nowhere safe to go, to hide, to feel protected and that the abuser is always watching her. In this light, the dream makes perfect sense.
In this dream I finally realized that I COULD move. I could figure out how to support myself and the idea of this was thrilling.

There is so much more to these dreams than can be read on the surface and I think the part I'd like to take up today is my anger at my mother.

I remember distinctly the moment I realized how angry I was at her. I had recently married Mr. Moon and I am certain that his unstinting love allowed me to finally let go of the illusion I had that I had no choice but to love my mother. I was raking the yard when the anger overcame me. And up until that moment I had actually had a decent relationship with her. She was still married to C. and my two youngest brothers were still at home but things were horrible there. C. had become notably crazy. My little brothers would tell me about incidents which had occurred which horrified me. They both hated him and even plotted, in their little boy minds, how to kill him and make it look like suicide.
I will admit that I often fantasized that C. and Mother both would die together in some accident and that I would be allowed to adopt my brothers and raise them. I loved them desperately and after I became a mother myself, my desire to protect and love them, to let them know they were cherished and safe became almost overwhelming.
Of course, no such accident occurred.
And the insanity only increased and it was apparent.
A friend of one of my brothers, when they were in high school, came over to see my brother one day and the door was open and the cars were there but he couldn't find anyone. I can't remember where everyone was but this friend told my brother that he had a horrible feeling that C. had killed the entire family and then himself.
The cracks in the facade of the perfect little American family were widening.
And yet...Mother stayed with him. I talked to her all the time about divorcing him. She wanted to but she was afraid and she also was "staying for the sake of the children." She was determined to hang on until they both graduated from high school.
And she did divorce him when they were both out of the house, to her credit.

But this moment of realization I had came before the divorce. And it shook me to my core.
I had never for a moment believed that Mother knew about the abuse but I did know for certain that she was quite aware of how he was abusing my brothers. Not sexually (perhaps, but that's another story) but emotionally. She, too, was abused by him emotionally. She had to know that the things going on in that house were terrifically damaging to her sons. She had to. She had a Master's degree in early childhood education. She had taught school on and off for most of her adult life. She was not ignorant nor was she uneducated.
But there was no way around the situation except to admit that she, in staying, was allowing her sons to be treated like shit by a crazy man.
And all of my life I had been given the role of caretaker to my mother and as such, her depressions, her verbal declarations of wanting to die, to kill herself, were like chains that a child could not possibly break, keeping me in my role, excusing her behavior, convincing myself that I loved her more than anything on earth.

And then, suddenly, the chains snapped.

This is not to say that I immediately began to treat her differently. I did not. I continued to communicate with her frequently. I even enjoyed times with her. But. I saw her through a different lens. And I began to list in my mind the ways in which she had not protected either me or my brothers and how her needs and the needs of others had always come before ours.
She was something of a martyr. When my grandmother had to be moved to a nursing home, Mother found one in Winter Haven, very close to our house and she visited her EVERY SINGLE DAY. After spending a full day of teaching. And she had two small sons at home.
Now of course it is noble and good that she visited her mother. And she was praised for it by nursing home administration, by neighbors, by friends.
And when Granddaddy needed a place to stay, having become frail and ill, she took him into her home and cared for him and still visited Granny every day.
She railed about this bitterly to me. She was angry at her brothers for not helping more although she no more would have told them this than she would have flown to the moon. She adored her big brothers as she adored her father. And I'm sure she loved her mother but it troubled her greatly that Granny managed to live long, long after her mind was mostly gone and she said on so many occasions that she never, ever wanted to live like that. She told me time and time again that she hoped I would never have to care for her the way she was caring/had cared for her parents.
Complex message there, folks.
I remember finally, one day long after they both died and she was getting up in age, she repeated this to me again and I said, "Don't worry, Mom. I won't. Chuck will do it."
Lord, but she was angry.
I still chuckle a little when I think of that.
Yes. I'm mean.

But all of this is a theme- she wanted me to take care of her while she took care of everyone else in the world. I, like her, was the daughter. This was my role in life.
Remember Like Water For Chocolate? 
Oh, how that movie hit home when I saw it.

And the older I got and the more I realized, the less and less I cared to caretake for her.

When I did finally start going to therapy and at long, long last got up the courage to tell her about the abuse (in a letter) she went crazy. Her main reaction was to insist over and over and over again that she had had no knowledge of it, that she never knew, that this was destroying her life. That the one thing in life she had ever wanted to be was a good mother and she obviously WAS NOT!
I encouraged her to find a therapist, which she did. She started going to some church-related counselor who actually WROTE ME A LETTER telling me that for my mother's mental health, I really needed to discuss with her the issue of MY SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH C.
I had not been able to talk to her much about it after I wrote the letter. I simply couldn't. I heard what she had to say and my thoughts just cut off.
Defense mechanism, plain and simple.
And for once, I realized, this was not about her, it was about me. And I could not reassure her that I knew she was innocent in all regards.
And she never could bring herself to tell me she was sorry that it had happened to me.

I was able to write her counselor back. I am sure the letter was venomous. I educated her on the difference between having a sexual relationship with someone and being sexually abused by them. I told her that at the moment, my mother's mental health was not my priority. That mine was.

And it was. This was the time when it was all the hardest. The ripping off of the scab time. I was barely stable, barely functional. And I could not be responsible, for once in my life, for my mother's wellbeing.

There. That. 
This is what is on my mind this morning. Obviously, my thoughts jump and cross, skip and descend as I try to untangle some meaningful explanation of what happened. Of how it happened. Of how it felt then, later, and how it feels now. Of how it affected my entire family. Of how there is never just one type of abuse. Of how the abuse has affected every part of my life and always will. And how, in some ways, the grief I will always carry for the mother I did not have will be worse than the grief I carry for the loss of so many things that the abuse caused. 
Innocence, trust, faith in myself, a sense of deserving love and on and on. 


I have written myself into a bit of a mental mess here and have taken an Ativan because I fucking need it. But even this is valuable because it makes me realize how very close to the surface all of this still is, after all of these years, after all of that therapy, after all of this life of love and goodness and it reminds me that suffering from depression and anxiety is not a weakness but is, in fact, not only genetic but also a very normal and expected response to my childhood. 

And I'm still fucking here. 

So are you. 

Love...Ms. Moon

P.S. Please forgive tortured sentences, misspellings, bad punctuation and so forth. I'm sort of writing from the seat of my pants and sometimes I simply can't spend much time going back and rereading and editing the way I should. This is one of those times. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Staying Busy: Trigger Warning

I have stayed busy, busy, busy today. I did go out and pick in the garden and the way I picked the edamames was to just pull the vines and then bring them into the shade where I sat and took the pods from their tough stems and then gave the vines to the goats next door. I have read that soybeans all come ripe at approximately the same time and since I'd already picked quite a few, I figured that these were the last of them and they surely all did seem to be at about the same stage of maturity.
Then I picked a large basket of the field peas and some okra.
I came in and washed the edamames, then boiled them in salted water and put them in quart freezer bags and popped them into the freezer. I blanched the last field peas that Mr. Moon shucked- about a meal's worth- and froze those. And then I got out the canning kettle and found enough jars and spices and vinegar to put up four and a half pints of my okra. I refuse to let that okra go to waste and I hope it is good.
And then, because I felt like being productive, I cut out another dress for Ms. Magnolia. It is going to be of the dinosaur material with a red ruffle on the bottom and a red ruffle on the shoulders and red pockets.
This pleases me so much. Who knew I would fall in love with sewing again?
But I surely have.

I remember quite well learning to sew in Home Ec in the seventh grade and then sitting at my mother's old Singer (the replica of the one I have now which was my grandmother's) and teaching myself how to use that machine with the perfect handbook those machines came with.
This was in Winter Haven where we had indeed moved after that summer in Gainesville.
It was a rather bizarre time in my life in so many ways. One, of course, being that we were leaving Roseland which I was both sad and thrilled about. I wanted to join the Girl Scouts, I wanted to take dance, I wanted to be near a library. I wanted to be somewhere where everyone didn't know me as the fat, smarty pants/teacher's pet. I wanted to be in a place where there was more to do, more opportunities.
But I knew, in my heart, that I was going to miss Roseland and that river and the woods.
I just didn't now how much I would miss it.
And I suppose I also thought that maybe once we moved, the nightly visits by my stepfather would cease.
Well, I was right about the Girl Scouts but wrong about the nightly visits.
And on top of everything, I had gotten a horrible case of what we called "ground itch" which ain't nothing but a form of hook worm. Kids got it in Roseland all the time because we all went barefoot and the larva live in the intestines of dogs and cats and also, wild animals and god knows we stepped in some shit. A simple case of it could perhaps just involve a meandering line of red on the foot where the worm is making its way under the skin and was treated in those days by freezing the worm with Ethyl Chloride which involves spraying the skin long enough with the stuff to freeze the worm underneath it.
And yes, it is a gross and as horrible as it sounds.
But the very worst thing about ground itch, is that it itches to the point of insanity. As the worm crawls, the itching commences and nighttime was when the worm crawled.
My mother took me to the only doctor in the area of Roseland and Sebastian in those days, Dr. Kip Kelso. I remember him distinctly. He had one eye and an eye patch. He was gruff and he was plain spoken. He showed Mother how to spray the Ethyl Chloride on my skin, warning her that if she sprayed it too much, the skin would become burned.
Burned by cold.
So then we moved and the ground itch got worse and Mother took me to a pediatrician in Winter Haven and by then my foot was infected and nasty and the ground itch was still there and it was just a fucking mess. I ended up wearing bandages stained with pus around my foot, covered by a sock and had to either hop on one foot everywhere or walk using the one tiny part of my heel on the affected foot which was not involved.

This was how I started school in Winter Haven. I was in the sixth grade and there were more kids in the sixth grade classes than there were in all of the classes together at Sebastian Elementary.
And there I was, hopping and wearing a sock on my left foot which by the end of the day had also become pus-stained and I, having been a smart fish in a very small pond, was worried sick that not only would no one want to be my friend, but that I would prove to be not nearly as smart as I thought I was.

The good news? Turns out that hopping everywhere is an amazing weight-loss exercise. Stress may have played a part in that too.

Mother was pregnant again and of course, worried sick that this pregnancy would not come to term either. C. had begun his new job at the community college and I'm sure he was stressed out. He was also still grove-tending and would go to Orlando every chance he got to work there.
And OH! I had completely forgotten that before we left Roseland, my grandmother suddenly became demented. I don't know what other word to use. But it was the most bizarre and frightening thing imaginable as my sweet little granny started telling us we had to wait dinner because Jackie Kennedy was coming to eat with us and also, that she was God, and Granddaddy was Jesus. Or something like that. She also became obsessed with our pastor and I think she gave him a bunch of money. Meanwhile, I was wondering if maybe she wasn't God. I mean...people must have thought Jesus was crazy, right? And hell, maybe Jackie Kennedy would come for supper. Anything was possible.
She was diagnosed with "hardening of the arteries" and put in a mental institution for awhile and then she went home and Granddaddy tried to take care of her. The man had never cooked a meal in his life and suddenly, he was having to do all of the cooking and laundry (they had a "maid" who came in to clean) and was taking care of her.
Could things get any stranger or weirder?
I mean, you almost have to laugh.

We lived in a house in a neighborhood which was fine. Nothing fancy and my brother slept in a breezeway between the living room and the garage but I don't think he minded. I had my own room and it was just a few steps down the hallway from Mother and C.'s room. We all shared the same bathroom.

And so there we were and Mother was completely taken up with her own worries and not paying attention again and C. was coming into my bedroom every night and I had worms in my feet and was trying to balance all of this with trying to fit in and make new friends in school and doing my best to prove that I was not an ignorant country hick and my grandmother, who had half raised me, was insane and my granddaddy, who had also had a lot to do with my raising, was having to take care of her.

I look back on all of that and it's simply unimaginable. And yet, once again, I lived through it. I lived through it and my foot finally healed and I discovered I was pretty okay in the intellect department and I made friends and I joined the Girl Scouts and that troop was a blessing in my life.
And I was thinner.

Soon, my life was about to change again when Mother had my brother. In some ways, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. In other ways, it made my life even harder. But I have to say- and I will stand by this to the day I die- falling in love with that baby boy probably opened my heart to the possibility of what true, pure, uncomplicated, unconditional love was.
And damn, I needed that.


So it's been a good day and I got a lot done and after spending all day out in the world with her babies, Dottie has them all back, safe and sound in the coop. 
What a good, good mama! 
I am sure those chicks will sleep very well tonight and I am relieved to know they have survived their first day out. 

And I can't talk about what's going on in Virginia except to say that when DT got elected, I realized that I don't live in the country I thought I did and yet, I had no idea of the depths of that truth. 

What in the world could cause those people to be so filled with hate? 

I can't fathom it. And the well of hopelessness and helplessness feels as if there is no bottom, as if we are all drowning in the infinite depths of those dark, dark waters. 

Hang on, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Dottie Is Ranging Far Afield. I Am Not

Well, dang, Dottie!
Within an hour of me opening up the door to the coop, Dottie was leading her chicks to scratch all the way up by the house.

"Come along, children!" she clucked. "We are going to eat well today!"

And then she proceeded to take them into the little garden off the kitchen where they happily scratched around beneath the bananas where I throw kitchen scraps.

So much for my theory that she'd stay near the coop with the babes on their first day out. 
I think she's been desperate to get out and scratch. That coop is boring and does not offer much in the way of good foraging. I've tried to give them fresh fruit and greens every day but that's not real life in chicken world. That's just a poor substitute. 

Let us hope for the best. So far none of the other chickens seem to be paying them much attention and Jack observed them but made no moves toward them. 
He better not. She'll beak his eyeballs out. 

So. That's the excitement here in Lloyd today so far. I'm enjoying being thoroughly leisurely and have enjoyed some huevos rancheros made with leftover refried black beans. I may never need to eat again. 

I think I'll go pick edamames and peas if I can tolerate the heat. It's definitely the time of year for the garden to die down, die back. 
Meanwhile, in Charlottesville, there is an evil growing which challenges the devil himself. 
If there were ever any question about whether we have completely abandoned the garden of eden and planted the seeds of destruction, we can now see the proof in the fruits which are being harvested without shame. 

I am staying here with my chickens. I am hiding my head in the sand. I am afraid for us all and for this planet which, on its own, is so wild and so tender, so harsh and so hospitable, so blue and so green and so precious and unique. 

The mad men rage and are in charge. Men who do not have the sense or even the native intelligence of a mother hen have the power to destroy us and the planet. 

How have we let this happen? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

I'm Trying

I had a panic attack this morning. I think it was a panic attack. An anxiety attack?
I don't know. Just out of the blue came a whoosh through me and my mind went a bit out there and my heart raced and a few other physical things happened but I was able to continue with getting ready to go to Lily's and so I did.
I got dressed and put in earrings and kept taking deep breaths and remembered the last time this had happened after I went to an appointment at my former care provider's and how I'd had to call my husband to come and hold my hand but I didn't feel as if this whatever-it-was was really that bad and so I took an Ativan and carefully drove to Lily's and felt pretty fine.
By the time we got to Melissa's I felt normal and tried to entertain Magnolia while the boys got their school hair cuts.
Here's that little girl sitting on a bench in the little piece of garden next to Melissa's salon.

She was collecting rocks which she would then take inside to show her mommy. 

Owen went first in the chair. 

Here he is describing to Miss Melissa (which is what Gibson calls her) what he wanted. He still wanted the rat tail but he wanted his hair short on top with a stripe-design cut into the sides. And so Melissa gave him exactly what he wanted and he looks tidy and yet daring, Republican and yet oh-so-definitely not. 
He was happy with the results.
Then Gibson got in the chair. He wanted the rat tail off and oh, maybe a MOHAWK! 
Well, he did not end up with a Mohawk but he did get his rat tail cut off and everything cleaned up and trimmed and he was, as you can see, quite happy.

But Melissa was so sad. See? 

I can't even tell you how much we love that woman. Lauren, Lily's friend who came with us today has had her hair cut by Melissa and now won't even consider going to anyone else. To know Melissa is to love her whether you are five or sixty-three. 
She was happy about getting eggs from me. She's a country girl from Alabama and when I told Gibson that he looked so handsome I would marry him and he said, "You can't marry anyone in your family," Melissa said, "You can in Alabama! No problem!"

So that was all fun and we went on to Japanica! and we all ordered what we always order. The boys and Lily get sushi and I get the Bento Box with green curry tofu and Lauren, who had never been there before got sushi too. We ate our delicious soups and salads and for once I remembered to take a picture of what my meal looked like. 

It's always a little bit different, depending on who's doing the cooking and what vegetables they have most at hand. Today my tofu was only mildly spicy and I think I detected some coconut milk in there and there was broccoli and asparagus and onions and something else. Not sure. But it was SO good. Maggie helped me eat my rice and tofu but I ate all of my own sushi and my spring roll (is that a spring roll?) with no help and I loved every bite. The boys ate massive amounts of salad and miso soup and sushi and Lauren was amazed at how good it all was. 

Japanica! never disappoints us! And Owen did put the tablet away right after this picture was taken. 

After lunch we walked down to the Goodwill bookstore where books and a Play Dough Town Factory were purchased. Gibson was using his manners and whenever he had a question for an employee, he would say, "Excuse me sir!" or "Miss" as the case may be. We told him to use the word M'am instead of Miss but we also told him we were very proud of his good manners. 
Then we had to go to Publix and Owen shopped with me, helping me to make decisions and we discussed various foods as we went. He's growing up so very, very fast. He hugged me hard in the cheese aisle and it me both so proud I could have died with the sweetness at the same time I was grieving the little one he used to be. 

After we did our shopping and I left Lily's house, I came home and stopped at the Post Office to find that Owen's new Rolling Stones shirt that I ordered him had arrived. He's outgrown his old one. 

It's so fierce! I love it! I hope he likes it too. It's almost just like his old one so he probably will. 

After I got home and unloaded everything and put all the groceries away, I put the clean sheets in the dryer and went out and filled up two chicken feeders and a waterer and spread a bit more feed on the ground for the baby chickens and Dottie and Trixie. By my HEY!-I-TOOK-TRIG calculations, it would appear that Rose and Pearl and Amethyst are four weeks and a few days old and I think I'm going to let them out of the coop tomorrow if they want to go. I know they're still little but they can fly if they have to and Dottie will do her best to keep them, quite literally, in line and will call them in if they are in any danger. I am not sure how a mother hen calculates the time she spends constantly watching over her chicks but if I know it's limited. One day she'll still be protecting them with every feather on her body, every claw on her feet, every beak on her beak and the next day she'll be like, "Buh-Bye! Love ya! Have a good life!"
And I want her to be able to teach them what they need to know in the big world outside the coop before that day happens. 
Mr. Moon will grumble and tell me it's too early and I'm not saying he's wrong. 
I'm just saying that I think it's time and I know from experience that for quite awhile, Mama won't lead them too far from the safety of the coop and will keep them in the spiny underbrush where it's doubtful that a hawk or an owl could get a clean path to snatch one. 
Well, let's hope I'm not mea-culpa-ing by this time tomorrow and that all is well. At least with four roosters around, all big strong guys seem to care about the flock, there's an excellent alarm system in place and I just need to pay attention. I don't plan to leave Lloyd again for the entire weekend. I have plenty to do in the garden and in the library where I did a little more sorting and arranging this afternoon and I am getting itchy to cut out a new dress for Magnolia. 
I am finding myself in the library not only willing but eager to get rid of a lot of books. Honestly, I think I could probably limit myself to less than a hundred and be happy. Of course I'll never get rid of certain books, some due to their ancient roles in my life, some due to the fact that I need to read them over and over, some due to memories and emotions I have attached to them. The books that I rub my fingers over, crack open and hold their faces up to mine and take a deep inhale and time trip back to other times, other places, other me's. 

The rest? Oh, Lord. I have books on gardening and birds and wildflowers and on sea life and on maternal/infant health care and on John and Yoko and on Cozumel and Belize and Costa Rica. I have books of poems and anthologies of great American writers and great Latin American writers and great Southern writers and probably all of Shakespeare. I have books of poems and I have books by MFK Fisher and about MFK Fisher. I have books on the history of Florida and various, specific towns in it. I have a typewriting manual from the 1940's and a book on childcare from the 1920s. I have the original printing of Spiritual Midwifery and and I have books on hippie homes, Key West Homes, communes, and hippies. I have science fiction and I have The Boxcar Children. I probably have three copies of A Kiss For Little Bear. I have books about how to write books. I have books of poetry and books of photography. I have books about how to eat, how to meditate, how to do yoga, how to breathe, how to see, how to crochet, knit, embroider and how to be mindful when one is doing all of these things. I have Mark Twain and Tom Robbins. I have Robert Heinlein and I have Ray Bradbury. I have The Wind In The Willows and the most beautiful edition of the Wizard of Oz you are ever likely to see. I have a family Bible which is bigger than some kitchen counters I have created Thanksgiving dinners for thirty on. I have a copy of an art book of famous paintings that fueled the fire of my imagination throughout my entire childhood. 
I have almost everything Larry McMurtry has ever written. 
I have books by the beats, about the Beatles, and Lord knows I have Life by Keith Richards. I have a book about Mick Jagger whose only worth is in the pictures. 
I have books I have read and reread my entire life. I have books I've never read. I have books that I've bought brand new at retail, books I've bought previously-read at thrift stores, and I have a book about animal-human communication. I have books that were autographed by the author who used to live in this house. I found a book that Lily wrote when she was in elementary school, dedicated to her sister, Jessie Moon. 
I have all of these and so much more. 
And to tell you the truth, I could give almost all of them up. 

Not, however, my original copy of Little Women which my grandmother gave me and which I still have and if it is tucked in beside me on my deathbed, that will be fine and lovely. 
Also, the book Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, which is the only thing I have of substance which belonged to my biological father. 

I have all of this and so much more. 

I'm doing the best I can. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday Follies

It's another day I definitely need to get out of the hood. Everything around me seems to be falling apart and dirty and dusty and spider-webbed and junky and in need of paint, repair, cleaning, weeding, culling, and/or attending to in some way and that's a sign to me that I am in a bit of a mental crash. Not that all of those things aren't true, it's just that when they get so overwhelming to me that it makes me cry, I need to step back and try to figure out what all is going on in my brain which is as big a mess as the stuff around me, probably even more so.

Luckily, Lily has plans to take the boys to get their hair cut and I'm going with them which means I'll get to see not only all of them but also, Melissa which is a blessing. I'm going to take her some eggs. My sweeties gave me seven eggs yesterday. SEVEN!
My favorite of all the new ones is Nicey's which is so dark cocoa brown. Just a lovely egg.
But. Back to haircuts. Gibson says he's going to get his rat tail cut off but Owen refuses to entertain the thought of getting his removed. It's about halfway down his back now. His own little freak flag, his own statement of self.
I am proud of them both. Gibson for getting his cut despite what big brother does and Owen for not getting his cut, despite what society does.

Then we're going to Japanica and probably the Goodwill bookstore and then Costco and Publix and then I'll come home and get to work in the library again, I suppose.

Ay-yi. And Lah-di-dah. Let's smooth it out. Let's shake the bad dreams and the mind clutter. Let's order the tofu Bento box and drink the miso soup. Let's deal with things one book, one album, one cobweb at a time.

And so forth.

Happy Friday or as reasonable a facsimile as you can manage.

Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Stuff Is The Real Beast Of Burden

It's been one of those days where nothing I had planned to do happened, for the most part, and nothing I did was what I had planned to do.
I had planned to make my husband a meat loaf to take to Georgia for him and his buddy to make sandwiches with this weekend and also, cookies.
Those things I did.
I got them done early because his ETD was noon.
Why did I actually base my plans on that? Why?
There is real time and there is Glen Time.
And I was completely aware that the chances of him leaving at noon were approximately the same as the chances that Donald Trump would start to speak in complete sentences containing words larger than two syllables.
As in, none.
But like Charley Brown and the football, I fall for it every time and figured that maybe, oh- he might be leaving around 1:00 or 1:30.
I think he pulled out of the driveway around 4:30.

Meanwhile I had put off my running to town to get a few errands done until after he left but after he left I said, fuck that, and decided to sort/rearrange/organize and clean the children's books in my library. This happened because Jason came over with the children after the boys' school orientation because my across-the-street neighbor had offered him two twin mattresses which he wanted to pick up. So the kids were over here and in the first ten minutes they were here, they'd had cookies, Maggie wanted a pickle, she spilled the contents of a Monopoly game out and she pooped. Then Mr. Moon got home and Jason finished loading the mattresses and Lily texted to see if I had three books that Owen needs to read before school starts on Monday. The books were: Blueberries for Sal, an Amelia Bedelia book and a Frog and Toad book.
Miraculously, I had all three but while I was searching for them I suddenly got the bright idea to do something about the disorder in the children's book section.
So after Mr. Moon left I started that little task by taking all of the kid books off the shelves and then sitting in the middle of them and trying to figure out at least a little bit of organization in reshelving them. At least to have the baby books in one place and the teen books in another place and the classics in another place and so on and so forth.
Which I have now sort of done. The hardest part was sitting on the ground for that long. Something has happened to my ligaments and tendons and joints which makes this almost impossible and please don't tell me to take yoga. I already know I should be doing that.

I culled some things, mostly Disney crap or abridged versions of books which had somehow snuck their way into my library. Those will be going to the dump, but not into the crusher thing. I'll set them on the side so that people can take them if they want them. I find this direct method of donating completely sensible. 

Then I decided to do something about the games and puzzles. I half-ass organized them and wish I had the temerity to cull a lot of them. Look- I'm sixty-three years old and in whatever time I have left on this earth, I doubt I'll ever be playing some of those games again and I'll never, ever put together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces smaller than my thumbnail. 
Still. I kept them all. 

Although that is the "after" picture, I realize it looks like a "before." 
Well, so be it. 

Anyway, this all led me to realize that I absolutely need to deal with ALL of the books on my shelves and ALL of the crap on my shelves and I started but was overwhelmed. I left it in its state of disarray and disorganization and disagreeableness and decided that, once again like Scarlett O'Hara, I will think about it tomorrow when I am stronger. 

When the kids were here, Owen put one of my old LP's on the record player. He chose it simply due to the cover but it turned out to be the Rolling Stones' album Some Girls whose cover was designed by Andy Warhol. 

"Mer, where did you get all of these records?" he asked me. 
"Well, back in the old days, they had record stores. That's where I got most of them," I said. 
This was so far from his reality that I don't think he even took it in. 
But I do have quite a collection of old albums. 
And guess where those live? 
Yeah. In the library. 

This project could take awhile. 

Wish me luck. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Alone Time

Mr. Moon is heading up to Georgia today to start getting the hunting camp ready for action.
I have no idea what this is going to entail but I do know that this means that I am about to get lots of alone time.
I am torn about this.
Because of my childhood, I love being alone. In some ways, I feel safest alone.
All of the years of my child-rearing I was hardly ever alone. From the very moment that spark of life happens in the belly, a mother is not alone. And if you're a mother the way I was, you don't leave that baby after it's born for...well. A good long time.
And then here comes another baby.
And then, and then. And so forth.

There were times during those days when I had four children at home that I would have given my little toes for a few days of solitude.

But. Here I am now and facing another hunting season and it will begin, unofficially, today. And my stomach is a bit tied up and I have a lump in my throat like the one I used to get whenever I'd read "Heidi" or "The Little Princess" and maybe I'm just getting old.

And here's the thing- he loves this time of year when he gets to spend time in the woods with a project that makes him so happy. And he is still strong and can do it and that is something I celebrate.

And I am still strong enough to keep the home fires burning.

And he always comes home.

Later, loves.

Ms. Moon

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Guess This Is Why They Call Us Survivors. Not Necessarily What You Would Think: Trigger Warning

Dear old Maurice. Believe it or not, her face is looking much better now than it has looked in quite a while. Mr. Moon and I have joked that we should make her wear a battle helmet every day but of course, we do not. It seems to me that she and Jack are not quite as apt to fight as they were, although trust me- they still get into it at times. Maurice just did not want another cat in the house and Jack just did not care. He was moving in and that was that, just as Maurice had done.
Our next door neighbor asked Mr. Moon this morning if Jack was okay. She hasn't seen him in awhile. He's known as Hobo over at her place. She feeds him canned food and also, we discovered just this morning, loves to brush his fur and he loves to be brushed.
Why in the world did he choose our house over hers?
I don't brush his damn fur nor do I give him canned food. It's Publix finest dry food for my cats and a flea collar and don't ask for anything else.
Oh, cats. Why do we love you so?
Maurice killed a mouse the other night in the fireplace of the dining room. Mr. Moon saw her do it but then she ran off with it and I found it yesterday under the kitchen island thing. It was just a small one, not one of the enormous rats she brings me. At least she tries to earn her keep. Jack does nothing but eat and sleep and cuddle with me a little before we turn out the light at night.
And I will admit that I do love that, stroking the especially soft fur of his white chest as he purrs and reaches out his paw to touch me.
Maurice still claws the shit out of me and frequently. And bites me. She thinks that means that she loves me. I understand. I tolerate it. But I don't walk by her in the kitchen when I can avoid it. She lies in wait on the kitchen island and has a reach which is far longer than you would imagine. Plus, like a Kung Fu Fighter, she moves faster than lightening.
One fast swipe before you know it and you're bleeding and all you wanted to do was put the soy sauce back in the refrigerator.

Oh well. As Hank says, cats domesticated us and not the other way around and I think it's still an ongoing process. At least in my house.

I've had a peaceful day and didn't do much but take a walk and do some ironing and a few house chores. I collected six eggs but the hens did all the work. If my calculations are correct, I may soon be getting up to ten eggs a day and another reason I'm glad that Jessie and Vergil are coming home soon is that I'll have yet another household to give them to.

I want to say that writing these posts about sexual abuse are not really upsetting me. Don't praise my bravery because I do not feel brave at all for writing them. I just feel like it's time. Now, I do definitely remember when every therapy session I went to, every meeting of the survivors' group I attended, made me feel like I was ripping the scab off a terrible, infected wound.
Honestly, that was quite possibly one of the very hardest times of my life. It was, quite frankly, horrible. A constant nightmare.
My oldest children were around nine and eleven when I realized that I had to get help and my therapist told me that it is not unusual at all for a person's defenses and crutches to cease being effective when their children reach the age they were when the abuse began. This was definitely true for me. And that therapist saved my life and those women in that group with their honesty and strength and courage and humor (yes! humor!) did too. I felt like I was being torn apart and put back together and I was crazy as a betsy bug (as my mother-in-law used to say) during those years. All of the anger and the sadness and the grief just poured out of me and I will admit, sadly, that I spilled it on everyone around me who would let me. Mr. Moon got the brunt of it and it's a miracle he's still around. I was hell to live with. And although I did not go into any details with my kids, they knew Mama wasn't right. There were many, many nights that getting a meal on the table and laundry done was tantamount to me running a marathon with one leg taped to my butt.
But I survived that. And in the midst of it, I had another baby- Jessie. So I had a thirteen year old, an eleven year old, a three year old and a newborn. I was dealing with all of those ages of children and volunteering in the classroom, and had been working at the birth center, taking call as a birth assistant. And on top of all of this, my husband was working twelve hour days.
THAT is the time when I was brave. THAT is the time when I was so much stronger than I ever knew I could be.

Now? Oh, honey. Having a whole day to myself where I can do what I want and sit down and write about something that happened over fifty years ago? That's just cake.
Okay. Maybe not cake, but it's so easy compared to those times. These are things I think about every day because they still impact my life every day. But they don't bend my days the way they used to. They do not cause me to scream and cry. They do not make me feel as if I am vomiting nails and tacks.

I still carry sorrow, I still carry grief. God help me, I still carry anger. But none of it is like it used to be. And I can usually put it all in perspective and I can usually understand where these things come from and why they surface although sometimes knowledge is not power and it doesn't help.
But eventually, it does.

I did not mean to write more about it all tonight but as with all of these posts, they seem to have just been waiting for a long, long time and will have their say, irregardless of my own plans.
Not unlike these cats of mine.

But I promise you, I am absolutely fine. And no braver than I am when I walk past Maurice in the kitchen to put the soy sauce back in the refrigerator.

Thank all of you for coming along with me. I just hope that some of this is helping others to know that they are not alone and not necessarily crazy, either.
Or any crazier than circumstances would warrant.

Love...Ms. Moon

The Summer I Turned Twelve: Trigger Warning

The summer after fifth grade, instead of caring for the baby which was not to be, my mother decided to finish her Master's Degree at University of Florida, in Gainesville. This summer, however, my brother and I would not be staying in Roseland with my grandparents but would be moving to Gainesville with Mother and C.
C. had recently gotten a job at the brand new Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Florida, and would start teaching there in the fall but until then, we would be living in an apartment in Gainesville- a completely new experience for me and my brother. Although Gainesville was still a sleepy town in those days, compared to Roseland it was a big city with probably more buildings in it than were in all of Indian River county at that time. Instead of being in a tiny village where we literally knew everyone and where we were allowed to roam anywhere we wanted on foot or on bicycle, we would be in a place where we knew no one at all but Mother and C. and were completely lost by the many roads, the college campus, and (to us) urban areas.
Fortunately, the apartment was bordered in back by a tiny stream which trickled and sang that all of us children played in endlessly that summer. We made dams, we laid in the water and looked up at the sky, we collected rocks, we dug clay from the banks and tried to make things with it, shaping it into cups and bowls with our hands. And we were enrolled in the summer program of a developmental school called P.K. Yonge which was associated with the university.
That was completely alien to me. I had only ever attended Sebastian elementary where again, everyone knew everyone. And instead of high-ceilinged, old-fashioned rooms with great windows which opened up to the breezes and heat and bugs and sometimes birds, P.K. Yonge was housed in a modern building with air conditioning and teaching centers and a two-way mirror in the back which students and teachers could stand behind, hidden, and observe us as we were taught. We all knew we were being observed, it wasn't a secret but it still felt odd. Everything that summer was odd, though, and being looked at all morning by strangers was definitely not the oddest.
It was all right. I don't remember a damn thing I learned at P.K. Yonge but I do remember juice and graham crackers at snack time. It seemed babyish to me and pretty boring but it was tolerable.
The best thing, the very best, miraculous, amazing, wonderful, unbelievable thing was that as students of P.K. Yonge we could check books out of a big library. For the very first time in my life I had all of the books I could read and I took every advantage of that I could.
That part was heaven.
The stream was lovely.
The fact that I was allowed to take my brother (I was eleven, turning twelve, and he was nine) down city streets through a fairly sketchy neighborhood to a five and dime store where we could buy amazing junkie treasures for cheap was thrilling.

So all of that was good.


Mother was in deep, deep depression. Times then were absolutely cruel when it came to things like mourning a baby who died before birth. The general thought was to forget it, get on with life, and try to have another.
And Mother was trying to do all of that. She went to classes, she spent massive amounts of time in the library studying, she was absent literally and figuratively, and I don't know how she did it.
Still though, she was stranger somehow, than even all of this would explain. She had begun to confide in me again. She showed me her newly-wed underwear, silky, sexy things. She pointed out that although the apartment had only twin beds, she and C. had pushed theirs together to make one for them to sleep on. I wonder where this came from. She had never, ever explained or discussed sex with me. I suppose she merely assumed that in all of my reading I had figured it out. Or...something? I have no idea. But it put me in a terrible position. She was obviously happy about her sex life with C. and was, in fact, bragging about it to me in this subtle way. And at the same time, he was still molesting me.
Two things happened that summer in Gainesville which I will never forget.
One was that one day when my brother and I got home from school, C. took me into the bathroom. By this time, I knew far better than to allow him to get me anywhere alone. But when your father-figure tells you to do something and you are as good a little girl as I was, you just do it.
And in the bathroom, he proceeded to show me several quite lurid porn magazines. His rationale for doing this was so that when other kids started showing these things around on the playground, I would know what they were and wouldn't be shocked.
This of course was the least convincing argument for showing a child porn that I can imagine.
I may have been relatively innocent but I was not stupid.
And I had never seen anything like that. At the time I still thought "Mad Magazine" was cutting edge racy.
I had no idea what to do and just tried to jabber my way out of that bathroom which, eventually, I did.
And as sordid and wrong as this episode was, the other one I recall was far more bizarre and perhaps a cry for help from C. although if that were true, no help showed up at all.
It was an early morning. Mother and my brother and I were in the kitchen of the little apartment, eating our cereal, getting ready for school, and suddenly, C. was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, leaning up against it like a model, wearing nothing but one of my mother's pairs of her sexy, sheer underpants which were stretched impossibly over his much larger body, the nylon fabric barely able to contain body parts which they had not been made to contain.
We all looked up. There was silence for a moment. C. had a look on his face which still gives me nightmares. Sheepish and defiant at the same time.
"C! What are you doing?" my mother finally shrilled.
I don't remember what he said but eventually, he turned around and went back to the bedroom.

That was never mentioned again.
And in later years, when I asked my brother if he remembered it, he denied that it ever happened.
More tellingly, I asked my mother the same once and she, too, denied it ever happened. Vehemently.

This is a common theme in the families of abuse. Some children are able to block things from their memories. Some adults are too. And then they accuse the one who does remember of making things up. Of remembering a dream, not a reality. Of...being crazy.

I have a lot of memories of that summer but those are the two that stand out. I do remember playing tennis with my brother and C. on the courts at UofF. In the same spirit of us laughing behind his back when he got finned by the catfish, we conspired to hit balls where he would have to run frantically to return them. It was one small way we could get back at him. And why did we want to get back at him? Well, for me, it was obvious but he had already started displaying behavior which can only be called cruel and selfish. He accused my brother and me (especially me, because I was older) of being thoughtless and bad because we caused our mother so much trouble when she was working so hard on her degree. I have no idea what it was we were doing or not doing but I remember feeling constantly observed and criticized along with being constantly observed in that sexual way. Also, he and mother seemed to be arguing a lot which made Mother even more unhappy than she was. There was a great deal of crying on her part. I was crying a lot too, but tried my best to hide it. I had also started biting myself in the fleshy part of my hands below the thumb which left marks. No one seemed to notice either the tear-stained face or the bite marks. I was obviously furiously angry in a way in which I could not express and I think I wanted desperately for someone to notice and force me to tell my secrets. But no one did.
It was not a happy summer.
It was not a happy family.

The other main memory I have of living in Gainesville was of C. taking me out for my birthday. Just the two of us, like a date. That's what we called it. A date. My mother, I am sure, was completely relieved not to have to deal with a birthday party and she was still under the delusion that C.'s interest in me was a very, very sweet thing, indicative of nothing more than how much he wanted to be a good daddy.

So. I dressed up in my best dress and he took me, just me, to one of the fancier restaurants in town. A steak house with candles on the table and it was just like a date. He gave me a piece of jewelry, albeit one that was fairly appropriate for a child- a silver pin of two Scottie dogs. I didn't really like it at all but I pretended that I did.
And I liked the steak and the baked potato with sour cream and the salad with roquefort dressing. I surely did. Food was still (and will always be) my comfort.
But the whole time we were alone together I was in a state of near terror, knowing that being alone with him was the most dangerous situation I could be in.

Ah, the mixed messages. The being chastised for being childish one moment, being treated like a grown-up the next, expected to help keep the apartment tidy, make my brother's lunches when we got back from school, help with the dishes. The obvious insanity going on all around me which no one but me seemed to note. And soon enough we would be packing up and going back to Roseland and packing up everything I knew in life from our house there and moving to Winter Haven.

Where the insanity definitely did not end.