Saturday, February 29, 2020

What's It All Mean, Mr. Natural? Part XXCV

Well, I must be doing better because I've been pissy all day long and actually, I don't feel better. When I woke up I had a headache and my ears were stopped up so I guess that while I was sleeping the crud made its inevitable little journey up to my sinuses and all those connecting chambers and caves and underground tunnels that we have in our heads.
And I'm still coughing up crap and from what I've heard this could go on for weeks so I need to SNAP OUT OF IT and GET ON WITH IT and stop being A LITTLE WUSSY GIRL and so forth and so on.
Yeah, whatever.
The world seems to be going along just fine without me. Maybe that's what I'm pissy about. As Anne Lamott once said, "I am the piece of shit the world revolves around," and I related to that immediately. I swing from feeling as if the world will far apart without me, to feeling as if my disappearance would make no difference whatsoever and so far, the evidence seems to point to "no difference whatsoever."
I'm an insane person at the best of times and these are not the best of times although, to be honest, it's not been nearly as bad as I'm insinuating.
So one thing I did today that was fun was to plant a few things I've rooted in pots. I generally have bottles and jars and vases all over the house with things in them rooting. This brings me more pleasure than you can imagine. I have one plant that I've had since at least 1983 that I've taken so many cuttings off of and made so many new plants out of that I've taken to throwing the perfectly good trimmings on the burn pile. I think the plant is some sort of philodendron. But I did put some of one of the plants in an old blue Bombay Gin bottle and rooted that and today it went into a pot. I think I have at least five pots of it now. I'd also rooted three of my beloved giant begonia leaves and stuck them in a different pot. I started the mother plant of that from a few cuttings of leaves that I stole, with the permission of an employee, from a local nursery and now I believe I have, uh, let me count...just three pots of those. I have two different leaves rooting in another room though. The leaves are so gorgeous that just the sight of them in a vessel of water makes me happy.

The other day on Facebook, Lily posted this meme and tagged me and Jessie. 

It's so true. And yet, I rarely do it. I go through a whole philosophical discussion in my head about the morality of taking the merest slip of a snip from someone else's plant. There can be a pot of succulents with babies spilling over and falling on the ground and I'll still hesitate. Okay, if it's on the ground I'll take it. Otherwise...
But I have done it. I will admit that. 
And my very favorite plants, hands down, are the ones that I've dug up in the woods or started from seeds of fallen fruit or cuttings I've taken. And I swear- no plant was ever harmed in the process. 

I have one more thing I'd like to discuss a little bit and that's the Coronavirus. Are we all going to die and/or is the country going to shut down and/or are we all being ridiculous and/or WTF?
I'm rather confused. On the one hand, it's just a flu. So was the Spanish Flu that killed over fifty million people but that was a different time and a different flu. And I get that this flu is more deadly than the "regular" flu but it's still not like the Black Death. The thing that reassures me most is that it doesn't seem to affect children very much. 
People are stockpiling things like we're facing a nuclear holocaust or a hurricane. Is Publix going to be closed? Costco? Schools? Highways?
I just don't get it. I do get the fact that Trump has appointed Mike Pray-The-Gay-Away Pence to be in charge of things in the US concerning the flu. Is he the Flu Czar? This is troubling as is Trump's comment that "It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear."
Will that be before or after everyone dies? 

I better shut up now and go make supper. I've already made the soup which doesn't excite me very much but it's full of healthful goodness. And as I told Mr. Moon, it may not be that good but there's plenty of it! 

Take care. Stay calm. Wash your hands. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, February 28, 2020

Gettin' Better All The Time

I have felt so much better today that I determined to go to Publix as soon as the Ibuprofen kicked in, which I did. I needed a few things and it was good to get out of the house although by the time I got home I was most glad to be here.
I've spent most of the rest of the day watching more cult-TV. Actually, I just finished watching Gloriavale which is what I was watching yesterday. It's a three part docuseries. Gloriavale is a religious community in New Zealand which, when the documentary was made, had about five hundred people in it. If you want to see the official website of the community, not the film, go HERE. 
This is what the people look like.

In the documentary, it was claimed that blue has no spiritual significance, it's just easy if they all wear the same color and blue is it. All the women wear the same dresses. All the men wear the same pants, shirts, and ties. Same for the children. They wear these clothes for all occasions including swimming. And running. And biking. And working. Although the men do wear cover-ups when they're working with machinery or in the fields or in construction. And the women can wear either pink or powder-colored dresses when they marry and the groom gets to choose which color. Most of them choose pink. 
It was interesting how the film was made. It was narrated about like a wildlife film but with less dramatic flair. Very, very matter-of-fact. No judgements although differences between life in the community and life in the rest of New Zealand were sometimes pointed out. The community, as I said yesterday, is based on strict interpretation of the New Testament and is EXTREMELY patriarchal. God speaks to the men and tells them what to do. Men tell the women what to do. Everyone tells the children what to do. They all live in sort of dorm-like arrangements and mostly eat communally. The men do work as I described above and the women do all of the cooking, sewing, cleaning, laundry and teaching. No wages are paid to anyone and all serve for the greater good of the community and their god.Women have as many babies as "god gives them." They believe in using scientific methods including artificial insemination to keep their dairy herds top notch but don't believe in using any sort of birth control at all when it comes to their own breeding practices. Marriages are arranged. The "Shepherds," as the elder men advisors are called, keep records of who is related to whom and when a young man decides he's ready to marry and start a family, he goes to them and they select a bride for him from a pool of women who are not cousins of his and who their god tells them would be a good match. The man/boy then proposes to that woman/girl and she accepts because god has spoken and they court for six weeks WITHOUT TOUCHING and then they get married. The wedding is a big deal and everyone attends and the man promises to love God above all and to always instruct the woman on how he thinks she should act and to be a godly father. The woman promises the man to be a godly wife and mother and to be willing to be submissive to the man and promises to make him happy. 
And basically asks him to now fuck her.
No. Seriously. 
At this point, after they're declared married, the couple goes off to a specially prepared room where they "become as one flesh" and then they return to the wedding venue where everyone is waiting and dinner is served. 
Because the Lord told them to do this. 
And the divorce rate is zero. Because it's not allowed. 
Watching a twenty-two year old woman marry a seventeen-year old boy and then sing a song to him that she wrote about how she wants him to always instruct her on how to live and be a good wife is enough to make you feel ill. 

(This couple.)

But hey! They do really believe in home birth! And you know I love that part! But get this- if the birth has complications, it's up to the HUSBAND to decide whether or not to go to the hospital. Not the woman, not the midwife, the husband. 
Ooh boy. 
The woman are given two weeks off after a baby is born and then it's back to work and the baby goes into the creche. Or nursery. Children are taught that their god is always watching them and that hell is very real. And if they're not good, that's where they'll go. 
Needless to say, some people do leave. But when you're like second or third generation born there and you have very little access to the outside world via TV or internet or movies or news of any kind, it's easy to see how thorough the brainwashing can be. And from listening to the Mormon Stories podcast I know that one of the hallmarks of a cult is that they make it very, very difficult to leave. 

SPOILER ALERT:  They are waiting for the return of Jesus. It could happen in the next ten years. Or tomorrow. Or in twenty years. But SOON! And then they'll all go to heaven! It'll be awesome! 

So. The docuseries (three parts) is streamed on Amazon Prime if you're interested. 

And that's all I've done today. Go to Publix, watch TV. Crochet. I did do a little yard walk-about and took some pictures of spring coming. 

This pretty little bud is on one of the blueberry bushes. I never get any blueberries because they don't get enough sun to make more than a few of the fruits and the ones I do get are neatly snatched by jumping chickens. 

The Ashe Magnolia is putting on its velvet gloves. 

The Buckeye blooms are just about to color up.

And this is the blossom of the Bridal Wreath Spirea. Now, if you were a fairy bride, what could possibly be better to hold as you walk down the aisle? Unless you're a fairy bride in Gloriavale in which case you'd only be allowed to carry a Bible down the aisle. A teeny-tiny fairy Bible. 

Happy Friday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, February 27, 2020

I'm Okay. How Are You?

Today has been a another day of not-much. 
Some crocheting and more TV watching. I watched one documentary about the children who grew up in a cult called The Children of God and another part of a short series about a different cult that lives in New Zealand and follows the Old Testament (according to their interpretation) and allows their lives to be completely directed by a few leaders. One in particular. It's pretty much like the Handmaid's Tale except these women wear blue dresses instead of red. 
For someone who abhors much about religion in general and in most of its shades and colors and dictums and beliefs, I sure am fascinated by them. 
Mostly I think I'm fascinated by how they attract followers who blindly believe and obey whatever they're shoveling out. 

So that was the highlight of my day. 

I actually woke up from a nap this afternoon feeling better and so maybe tomorrow will be better still. I hope so because being sick around here doesn't pay. If I ever got a debilitating illness my husband would probably leave me. He doesn't handle illness well. For himself and for others his philosophy seems to be to refuse to acknowledge it as much as possible and it will go away. 
And he's right. 

With that I believe I'll go make supper. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I couldn't sleep for shit last night.
First off, I hurt.
Secondly, I kept being so mad because my hair was so dirty.
I must have some sort of early-illness psychosis. First I need to make a pie then I need to wash my hair.
But I tell you what- first thing I did when I got up was take a shower and wash my hair.

I had three goals today:
1. Wash hair.
2. Finish laundry.
3. Find crochet hook.

I managed all three things.
Hugely successful day.

For awhile, after I took some Ibuprofen I felt okay. Like I'm-not-dying okay. I crocheted and watched a movie. The movie wasn't very good.
Then I went back to bed and when I woke up I felt like shit again.

Okay. This is crazy. I was straightening up my bed to get it ready to get back in it when it occurred to me that it would be so sweet for August to send me one of the funny little emojis that he sometimes sends. Not very often. But sometimes.
I had a text.
It was a little bear and a heart that said "I love you." From August.
The thought had to have occurred to me just as he was picking it out.
Here's a picture of him that Jessie sent. He had to get blood drawn at a lab for allergy testing. He was very brave.

That's all I have to report. And don't worry. I am staying hydrated. And Maurice has been taking care of me. When she isn't spilling my blood. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

No Title

Last night when Mr. Moon was at the basketball game, I came across a startling (and for me, thrilling) fact while perusing Facebook. Guess who was at the FSU/Louisville game?
I mean, besides my husband.
Can you tell from that picture?
Here's a better one.

And then this one!

So I started texting Mr. Moon WITH the pictures and eventually, he checked his phone and saw them. And yep, he could see him too but he'd had no idea before he got my texts. 
Murray's son Luke is an assistant coach for Louisville and so there you go. Bill was there supporting his boy. 

I told Glen that if he ran into Bill to please ask him to come and spend the night. The sheets on the guest bed were clean. 
Can you imagine the fine breakfast I would have made him?
Lord, Lord. 
I could almost imagine this happening. 
Sadly, it didn't. 

Oh well. 

When I woke up this morning with no need to make a five star breakfast, I instead did some chores around here and took the trash and recycle and made a quiche with our eggs and kale and rainbow chard from the garden and baked a loaf of sourdough that was ready to go into the oven. 
One of my oldest, dearest friends was coming for a short visit. Less than a year ago her beloved, talented husband of many, many years died and I hadn't seen her since before he got sick. 
The last time we saw the two of them was in Apalachicola where her husband was playing at the Dixie Theater and we'd gone to see him and then met them the next morning for breakfast. 
They were the most handsome couple and like all long-married couples, they had experienced the joys and the sorrows together and their lives were entwined in every way. They raised four beautiful children and he played music all over the world and she traveled every mile of it with him that she could. 
I haven't been able to imagine how in the world she's managing to get on with her life. 
I'll just say that she is, and that she is grace-filled and I admire her more now than I ever have which was already a whole hell of a lot. 
Her visit meant a great deal to me. Far more than I can say. I love her tremendously. 

And...I'm getting sick. I believe I'm getting the crud that Mr. Moon has had despite the fact that I have been telling myself that no, I would not get it just as I have not gotten the strep or the flu that I have been exposed to. Nope, not me. 
I've been coughing up stuff that shouldn't be in a human body and if Mr. Moon is any indication, this is not going to disappear over night. It seems to be a virus that turns your body into a mucus-making organism for its own pleasure. He's still fighting it. Or succumbing to it. I don't think there's a whole lot of fighting one can do with this shit. 

So. There is that. 

Off to make our supper. Dessert is already done. I took the rest of the pie pastry left over from my quiche and made a lemon chess pie so no matter what happens, there will be pie in this house. 
That's sensible, right? 
I think so. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, February 24, 2020

Another Day, Another Batch Of Thoughts

On my walk this morning I came across a patch of purple violets. They were the first I've seen this year. The white ones always come out before their more passionate kin. I picked a few and brought them home and set them in that pretty little round vase.

I had not left Lloyd since last Thursday and today I felt like if I didn't get out into the world I might truly never be able to do it again and so I got my house-wifey stuff done, my walk done, and drove to town. First I went to the Coop where there was good news and bad news.
The good news was that I didn't run into anyone I didn't want to run into- i.e., almost anyone I know.
The bad news is that I also didn't get to see Billy because he was busy and on the phone and that made me sad.
After that trip I stopped at the apartment where May and Michael are moving today and dropped off a plant and a card at what I hoped was their back door. I have since found out that it was. I Sherlock Holmed it. Then I drove over to Jessie's house where I handed over some pajamas that I'd gotten for the boys. They came from Costco and were too perfect to leave there. The ones I got Levon had heavy equipment on them and the ones I got August had sloths. He sleeps with a sloth every night. I visited for a few minutes. Vergil is finally starting to feel better. It's been a rough recovery for the boy. And Jessie was getting ready to go to a job interview. She is thinking about working a day or two a week to keep her toe in the water which is wise because if you don't do that as a nurse, technology and changes can get way far ahead of you.
And then on I went to a plant nursery where I bought seed potatoes and seeds. The easy part of the spring garden. Buying them, I mean. Not the planting. I am late with both the potatoes and the peas and the onions. All of them. I need to get busy.
And finally- Publix. This time I did run into someone but she was working there and had her name tag on so it wasn't too hard to remember her and we had a little chat.

When I got home I was so tired that after I'd put everything away I laid down for small sleep and it was harder to pull myself out of that than it had been to get out of bed this morning. But I finally did. Mr. Moon was home but he left soon after to go to a basketball game. This has been a very good year for FSU basketball and he and our friend Tom have been faithful and enthusiastic attendees of all the games. They watch the ones that are not played here on our TV and as I go about my business I can hear them cheering and clapping. They are happy guys when they watch good basketball.

I have been thinking more about the whole childbirth thing and specifically the pain associated with it. I remembered when a friend of mine (the woman who ended up being my midwife for Lily and Jessie) had a baby at the hospital in 1974 or '75 without being medicated for pain. She had used Lamaze and this was such a crazy, unheard of thing here that the Tallahassee Democrat did an article about her!
This is the absolute truth.
That's how deeply ingrained it was in our culture that women absolutely needed drugs in order to do what women had been doing since the dawn of time. And we won't even get into what we were led to believe about our ability to breast feed.
But after my labor with Hank I tried very hard to come up with an explanation of how something so common and experienced by every mother on earth had to be so incredibly difficult.
Was the Bible right? Was Eve so sinful that all of her female descendants had to experience pain as punishment and judgement?
So what was it? Why was it?
The only answer I could come up with (and I have written about this theory before) is that when a woman is in labor it is quite common for her to be so overwhelmed by what she's going through that she can't focus on the baby inside of her. She can remember that the reason she's going through all of this in order to have her baby but the pain is intense and the baby is still a rather vague entity.
However, the second the baby is born, all of the mother's attention snaps to the child.
And the pain usually ceases as if a light switch had been flipped.
And so, in a way, the sight of her baby and the sudden cessation of pain create a feeling within that mother that it wasn't the baby that caused the pain but it was indeed the baby's arrival and presence which caused it to stop.
This makes sense to me.
And of course, not all women experience childbirth as pain or choose to have epidurals which cause the pain to disappear and there are Caesarian births which necessitate the use of an epidural and the mothers in these cases don't have that same pain-ceasing association with the baby. It's certainly not THE thing which makes a mother view her child as precious and miraculous but it may be one thing. One part of the many layers of brain-changes and body-changes which involve hormones and instinct and all of the things we experience that cause us to fall in love with our babies.
I've never seen any research about this at all. But it cannot be simply that human female pelvises are allow for the type of birth that we have almost all seen in pet dogs or cats.
I know that for me, knowing what I had been through to get these babies of mine delivered made me want to protect them all the more.

Well, that's my theory. I wonder what Ina May would say about it?

To add a little more thought to this, it was when women began to ask for and receive unmedicated births that a lot of the changes in hospital practices occurred. When I was born, almost all mothers were given a drug called Scopolamine. It didn't exactly eliminate pain but it did erase the memory of it, along with the memory of the birth, from the mothers. They still felt the pain and reacted to it- thus the restraints that used to be on every delivery table.
But once women were no longer wiped of the memories of what they had endured in labor, they were more apt to want to be treated like human beings, not chunks of muscle and meat. And being able to remember the moment of birth rather than waking up from a dream-state with a nurse's reassurance that yes, they had indeed had a baby and that they would be allowed to see it when it was feeding time, changed everything.

All right. That is entirely enough.

Escorting chickens out of the garden.

See you tomorrow.

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Childbirth As I've Known It

Last night I dreamed that I was dancing. It was clunky dancing but it was dancing and within the dance there were fragments of the way I used to feel when I danced and also, I was able to do a little low-level rising and hovering over the floor which is my dream-way of flying. There was a woman in the room and she said, "You are a good dancer."
"Thank-you," I said.
"But why do you fall so much?"
"Because I have not danced in a long, long time."

The azaleas, as I said yesterday, are blooming nicely and a few bees are humming about them. The spirea have acquired a few tiny leaves and even fewer miniscule beginnings of what look like bridal bouquets which is where this plant gets its name. 
Bridal wreath spirea. 
My native Buck-Eye has leafed out and soon it will be giving me its own blossom. 

I did some weeding today in the yard. More crocosmia along with Florida betony. I will see betony roots when I close my eyes tonight. I have probably spent hundreds of hours of my life pulling this weed and I am not sure why. In the end, there will not be any less betony either in the world or in my yard and still, I pull it. 

Jessie told me today about a podcast called The Longest Shortest Time which is mostly about childbirth and parenting, I think. She said that when she had first started listening to it, there was an interview with Ina May Gaskin and the woman who does the podcast had some difficult questions for her. For any of you who may not know, Ina May is the woman who spearheaded the homebirth-with-midwives movement back in the seventies and who has gone on to study and teach midwifery all over the world and to deliver many, many babies. She was a huge influence in my life. When I was pregnant with Hank I read her book Spiritual Midwifery which was a beautiful book and a groundbreaking book in those times of the completely patriarchal system of hospital childbirth. Just as things were changing in women's rights and civil rights and so many were questioning not only authority but the very systems that the authority had, well, authority over, women were rebelling against being restrained during childbirth (yes, really), separation from their partners during labor and delivery, the use of drugs routinely, the always-given episiotomy, the enemas, the shaving, the inability to move around during labor and perhaps most of all, the separation of mother and child immediately after birth and for long, long periods of time afterwards. At least that's the one I had the most problems with thinking about. Why should I be in one room after I had delivered a child who had been literally a part of me for nine months while the baby was in another in a plastic box under bright lights? 
It seemed absolutely intrinsically and instinctively wrong. 
Reading Ina May's book gave me an entirely different perspective- that childbirth did not have to be that way. And there were pictures to prove it! And statistics! And she had laid out a basic guideline on how to manage childbirth and delivery and with that and three friends, I decided to have a home birth. 
I was a hippie. 
I was twenty-one years old.
I was brave. 
And I couldn't stand the OB who was doing my prenatal care. Of course I didn't tell him my plan to labor and birth at home. He would have kicked me out of his practice. Or had me arrested. Or something. 
And to make a long, long story short, I did labor at home for twenty-eight hours at which point I said, "I need to go to the hospital," and my husband took me and within an hour of being there I had given birth to Hank, been told that if I tried to touch my "sterile" body or my baby I'd be restrained, and yes, separated from my child. 
BUT, we left AMA after signing who knows how many documents and being lectured to sternly by both the head nursery nurse AND the OB and by that evening we were home and I was in bed with my baby, nursing him, and it was the most beautiful time of my life. 
However, back to Ina May- she had made childbirth sound like something that, if one was spiritual enough and prepared enough and not fearful enough, would not be very painful. Women back then had been sold the idea that childbirth was SO painful that no modern woman could endure it without drugs. This was the party line for sure. But Ina May had said to not interpret what was going on in the body as pain, but as "An interesting sensation that requires all of your attention."
Well. I had tried. For twenty-eight hours I had tried. But what I felt was pain. The kind of pain (and I've said this before) that you think, "Please dip me in boiling oil in order to distract me from this pain."
No. Seriously. 
And I was shocked and I was not prepared for that although I had taken a Lamaze class. Which did help. 
So I ended up feeling a bit betrayed by Ina May. And also I felt somewhat ashamed of myself for bailing and going to the hospital. All right, truth- not somewhat ashamed. VERY ashamed. And somehow lacking in spirituality. 
This was something that I struggled with for a long time. Of course I went on to have three more babies, all at home, all long and all painful labors but at least I knew what to expect. And I also got a nursing degree and went to work at a free-standing birth center assisting midwives. 
So. Back to the podcast. This woman had also read Ina May's books and she had wanted a natural birth. Unmedicated and with no interventions and she had ended up with an epidural and I don't know what all but it was a horrible situation including an episiotomy that had been so poorly stitched that it had to be redone days later. And she felt as if she had failed according to Ina May's standards and she, too struggled with that. So in her interview, she talked to Ina May about this and Ina May, because she is an evolved and sensible person, listened and responded so positively that the woman felt much better. Ina May also said that she needed to update her book Ina May's Guide To Childbirth to reflect changes and the feedback that she'd just gotten and that she would appreciate more feedback from listeners and by golly, she came back on the podcast recently, five years after her first interview, and her book has been rewritten and is now published. 
And I can't wait to read it. 

Yes. I am sixty-five years old and I am most certainly never having another baby but pregnancy,  childbirth and early parenting have been and always will be passions for me. It is due, at least in part, to the home birth movement that changes in the ways hospitals deliver babies have slowly occurred although many of those changes are mostly cosmetic and we still have a horribly high Caesarian rate, even to the point that OB's are trying to educate themselves on ways to reduce it. But babies are not separated from their mothers until after skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding have been accomplished if at all possible. And "rooming-in" is a real thing. 
I got caught up in a discussion on Facebook yesterday about these subjects. A woman flat-out stated that the US doesn't train their midwives properly which means that home birth is not safe. I know that this is not true. That many states allow for and provide education and licensing for midwives to practice in homes. That there are master degree programs in midwifery. That women DO have safe options and that studies show that a low-risk mother who chooses a planned home birth with a qualified midwife are as safe as hospital births. 
This woman refused to believe me and I finally realized that she just doesn't want to for whatever reason. 

I remember when I was a young mother, attending home births myself, going to the capital when lawmakers were debating the legalization of midwifery and home births. The very doctor who had done my prenatal care with Hank and who had ended up delivering my baby was one of the people who was fighting the bill. 
"What's next?" he thundered. "Are there going to be chicken sacrifices during these births?"


Eventually, the doctors lost a tiny bit of their hold on the birth industry and women and babies have been the better for that. Women can choose to have a home birth or a birth in a free-standing birth center or in a hospital with a midwife. Or, of course, with a doctor. The important thing is that we get to have a choice- a safe choice. We can make our decisions based not on fear or lack of options. We can educate ourselves and make our choices based on real facts and real studies with confidence. 

One of the women who was with me in my labor with Hank went on to get her Master's degree as a  nurse midwife and then eventually to teach it. She delivered May before she got that degree. She was born to be a midwife. The last time I saw her, she had decided not to teach anymore but to go back to attending women in labor and to deliver their babies. 
"I just felt like this is what I was supposed to be doing," she said. 

The woman who delivered my last two babies, whom I saw last weekend, also went on to nursing school but never got certified as a midwife. Still, I trusted her and her skills and her knowledge so much that I had no doubt she could safely deliver my babies. 
And she did. 

Well. That's what I've been thinking about today as I've pulled weeds and gone about my chores. I've long since quit being ashamed that I chose to go to the hospital when Hank was born. In fact, I look back at that time and think that I was incredibly strong and brave. And plenty spiritual. And I am so grateful that I've had the opportunity to learn what my body is capable of. But mostly, I'm grateful for the fact that after my babies have been born, I could hold them and feed them in my own bed with my husband right beside me, my other children there too. To know the incredible and unreplicable experience of giving birth in the way I did. It is certainly not the only way. But it is a great way. 
And my daughters have had this experience too. 

Thank you, Ina May. Here's the Ted Talk she did about reducing fear in childbirth in US culture if you're interested. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Life And How It Goes

Well, the sleep-over went pretty darn well.
While I was cooking supper the boys played Wii with Boppy, and Maggie entertained herself with a few projects. One was washing Buddha who sits on my porch and was indeed, quite dusty. We drew a sink full of water and she soaped him up and scrubbed him good and then she dried him off with a nice clean towel.

We left him to finish drying on the towel on the bathroom hamper and she insisted that he needed a cover and so we got him another towel and he slept there peacefully, all night. 

She also played with old Zippy and the little sock monkey that her mama made for me many years ago. 

There was an entire scenario going on there. 

Our supper was very good and then baths and showers were taken and purple cows were consumed. Magnolia, especially, loved hers. She kept saying, "This is the very best ice cream ever!" Then we read books. Well, Gibson and I read books. Owen fell asleep and Magnolia said she wanted to read her own books in her bed which was made up on the floor. There was practically a fight over who got to sleep on that little fold-out and Maggie won. So she read her books down there and Gibson and I shared the reading of The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza which I am still not tired of after all these years and also, Banjo Granny which is a very sweet book and has a little boy by the name of Owen in it. Which reminds me that I read a book to August the other day that charmed me to my very soul.

Not only is Mr. Moon in the title, but the little girl in it says, "Call me Hank."
And it's just as sweet a book as you'll ever want to read. 

Anyway, the kids settled down quite easily last night. Maggie needed water and a snack and another kiss from Boppy but that was all taken care of and I tucked her in and yes, left the little light on for her and by the time I went to take my shower about twenty minutes later, she was in bed with "her boys," right in the middle, fast asleep. 
So no one slept in the bed on the floor. 

Mr. Moon got up early, early to go fishing this morning and blessedly, the children slept in until eight at which time they all presented themselves in my bedroom door. We had a few cuddles and then it was TIME FOR PANCAKES, of course. While I was making breakfast, Owen helped Maggie put on her shoes and her jacket and took her outside to let the chickens out and feed them their scratch. I was so impressed and proud of him! Finally, great quantities of sweet potato pancakes were consumed as well as some bacon and also, a few scrambled eggs. After breakfast there was a little more playing and Maggie put on some of the make-up she'd brought. 

This is actually nail polish for children but as far as I could tell, it's just like regular nail polish. I honestly thought that this was a very bad idea but she insisted that she would be careful ("It's all right, I be careful, Mer") and she was. I offered to help her over and over but she insisted that she could do it herself. Which she sort of could. And I just stood by and when she was done and not happy with the results and wanted the polish off, I found some remover and took it off for her and we moved on to glitter lip gloss. 

Before too long, Mama Lily came to get them and it was clean-up time and get-dressed time. After they left I did some tidying up myself and it was such a gorgeous day that I did laundry, mostly just for the pleasure of hanging it on the line. It's silly how much I enjoy that. There's something about pinning the sheets and napkins and clothes and towels so neatly and watching the breeze catch and play with them in the brilliant sunshine. I swear, when I am on my deathbed I am going to remember hanging laundry on the line as some of the happiest moments of my life. 
I walked to the post office. I sewed up a pocket lining in a vest of Mr. Moon's and stitched a stuffed Teddy bear's neck where it had separated from the body. As I mended I watched a bit more of the Babies docuseries. I had been thinking about that brain-change thing since I'd seen it and I'm still pondering it. I wonder if the brains of other animals do the same thing. I imagine they do but who knows? Probably hard to do MRI's on birds and cats and lizards but maybe not. 
Today I watched researchers as they determined that babies are set up from birth for social interactions. I remember when I was in nursing school and in the child development part of our education they were still teaching Piaget's theory of Tabula Rasa in newborns. I'd had two babies by then myself and absolutely disagreed with the theory, described thusly:

Tabula rasa is a theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without any rules for processing data, that data is added and rules for processing it are formed solely by one's sensory experiences.

As far as I know they may still be teaching Piaget but more and more research seems to be showing that babies come from the womb with so much more than a blank slate. Which every mother in the world already knows. And has known. 
Another thing I learned is that the composition AND supply of a mother's breast milk varies according to whether she's given birth to a son or a daughter. This is not just true in humans but also in cows and in monkeys and one may assume in other mammals. 
How amazing is that?

And so it's been a full day. A beautiful day. I don't think it froze last night. The azaleas seem fine. But the cool temperatures and low humidity are heavenly and I am soaking as much of this weather into my bones as I can. 

I feel lucky. I feel grateful. I feel like I'm going to sleep very, very well tonight. 
I hope you do too.

Love...Ms. Moon 

Friday, February 21, 2020

This big guy and his brother and sister are here to spend the night.
I am indeed making barbecued chicken and macaroni and cheese and broccoli.
I got the box kind of macaroni and cheese. I told Mr. Moon about that. He's pretty excited.
I reminded him this morning about that. He said, "I know. I could hardly sleep for thinking about it."
I really have nothing else to say this evening. I had a most lazy day today.
I did start watching a docuseries on Netflix called "Babies."
If anything could make a sixty-five year old woman ovulate, that would be it.
I already learned that when a woman gives birth, her brain changes and one result of these changes is that she becomes incredibly concerned for her child's safety. This makes sense.
HOWEVER. That change never changes back.
Which explains a lot.
When a mother tells her forty-year old child, "You will always be my baby," she can't help it. It's her amygdala.
I told Lily this and she said, "There should be an eighteen year cut-off date for that shit."
Happy Friday, y'all.

Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, February 20, 2020

We Go To The Doctor

Another trip to town this morning, this time to go with Jessie and the boys to the doctor. They had an appointment for Levon to get his two-year old check-up and for both boys to get some vaccinations. There was a mix-up about the time and when we got to the office at ten, they told us to go away and come back at eleven.
So we drove over to a nearby coffee shop that has toys and books and Jessie and I got lattes and the boys got juice and we all shared a nice, toasty bagel with cream cheese. The boys played and soon it was time to go back to the doctor.
This doctor is so sweet. He never pushes anything.
"Would you like to discuss vaccinations?" he asked today after the check-up. Jessie's had her boys get their immunizations on schedule and she wanted to continue that but it was respectful of the doctor to not just assume. He also blew up an exam glove and put a face on it and gave it to Levon to play with while he and Jessie were talking.
Levon needed two shots and so did August. August had gotten a flu shot last fall and he was full of bravado because he claimed it had not hurt one bit. Being the honest mother that Jessie is, she told him that some shots hurt a little worse than others but it's never as bad as a bee sting because once it's done, it's done. Levon went first and it was as awful as it ever is. Not really awful but that sudden wail and that look that says, "You've betrayed me! Mother, you have betrayed me!"
She took him in her arms and gave him some mommy milk and it was August's turn so I held his hands. I knew he was nervous, despite his brave words because he kept saying, "Mer, I want to tell you something."
But the moment had come and they have three nurses to do the shots. One to hold legs, the other two to give the injections. August wanted to watch and so he did and he did not cry although afterwards he told me that it had hurt. More than a pinch. But he was fine.

And that was that.
We were supposed to meet Hank and Rachel for lunch at El Patron but Jessie decided that she would just take the boys to get a Wendy's kid meal to treat them for being brave and dropped me off at my car. I met my boy and his girl and another friend and we had a good lunch. Then on to Costco and Publix where Lily was working so I got to see her too. We discussed her kids coming to spend the night with us tomorrow and when I asked her what they would like for supper she said, "Barbecued chicken in the oven? Macaroni and cheese?"
And so that's what we will be having.
And broccoli. Which Maggie loves.

It is raining. The frogs are making their shrill whistle. The temperature is dropping. When I left the house this morning it was spring and by the time I was on my last stop at Publix this afternoon the weather had changed enough that I felt silly in my Croc flip-flops until I looked around and noticed that I was hardly the only woman wearing inadequate shoes. The forecast calls for it to be in the high thirties tonight, the low thirties tomorrow night.
Oh, Florida! Make up your mind!

I have bread "rising". Somehow I have lost my touch or else my starter needs some sort of rejuvenation. The last several loaves have been disappointing in their rise. I believe I may be making the dough up too far in advance of when I want to bake it. I shall experiment but meanwhile, tonight's loaf will be one of those but-it-tastes-good! offerings. Hell, what doesn't taste good with butter on it?
I better get back to that and there is also laundry to fold, a smoothie to make for tomorrow, a dishwasher to unload, the rest of the supper to make.

Let's all be brave. Let's all rest well tonight.

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Same-Same, So Good

Today was Self-Care Day Two and off I went to Monticello with Lily and the Princess Magnolia June where we met Jessie and the boys. It was story hour at the library and we were excited!
Well, at least I was.
Ms. Courtney read a few very nice stories. I think my favorite was Dino Duckling by Alison Murray.

It's a sweet story about how there is plenty of room and a place for everyone within a family. To me, one of the very best things about having grandchildren is the opportunity it presents for enjoying children's books once again. I loved them as a child, I loved them when my children were little and now I get to love them again. 
The rhythm sticks were passed around and we used them to sing The Wheels on the Bus.

The children took this very seriously, as you can see. 
There was one little girl there who had red curls and the expression on her face as this was going on was priceless. She looked as if she could not possibly believe that we were all participating in such a ridiculous exercise and I silently prophesied that her mother and father are not going to have an easy time of it when she hits puberty. 
Not that any of us do but this child has a good head start on the entire process of separating herself from her parents. 
She was just not having it. 
There was a baby there, probably about five or six months old who was just sitting up well and he was the absolute model of a happy baby. He squealed and beat his little hands on his knees and chortled and grinned. He gave me joy. 
Levon was fascinated with Terez and kept staring at him. He also did not want to leave his mama's lap. 

Which was fine. 
After the books and the singing it was time to do the arts and crafts and everyone made little flower bouquets which involved cutting and glueing. 
August's was the best because he did it all his own way. Don't tell anyone I said that but it's true. Also, he is a master with the glue stick. 

And then we proceeded to play in the kid computer room and the kid book room and Levon found his favorite books again and wanted to take them home AGAIN and of course, I checked them out. This will be the third time he's checked out one book about heavy equipment. I kept offering to read to him but he'd climb up on a chair clutching his books and say, "I read it myself."
Okay, Levon. 

Soon enough we were all hungry and we checked out and I felt like a rock star in that when I went to give Mr. Terez my card he said, "I got you, Ms. Moon." No card needed! 

I have to say that the Monticello library story hour is just about my idea of heaven. Babies, toddlers, books, nice people. 

Maggie wanted to go to the "block restaurant" and so we did. We went wild today and ordered fried pickles. They're not as good as fried onion rings but they're good. While we waited, the children played with the blocks. We always eat at the same table outside, right next to where the blocks are stacked and it works out wonderfully well. Levon can keep on eye on the traffic where the round-about goes right by around the courthouse and there are a myriad of different trucks for him to admire and comment on. 

Maggie made an ice cream store. Here she is presenting it to me.

She and Levon were working together on whatever this project is. They make roads and buildings and they create play around what they've built. It's a beautiful thing. 

And then the food came and we all shared bites and used hot sauce liberally and August even asked for some of the tomato on my grilled Mahi-Mahi sandwich. And then he ate some of my sandwich. He and Levon got fried fish and Maggie ate fried chicken. Everyone ate fried pickles and french fries. 
Yes. We can detect a theme here. 

Then off to home we all went. I gave Lily the baby carrots from yesterday's thinnings for the boys to eat after school and then...I took a nap. 
I may be completely restored now. 

Mr. Moon seems to be sick. Well, he is sick. Some sort of sinus-cold thing. He is prone to get one of those every year at this time. When he got home tonight and I was hugging him he said, "I wanted to come home today."
"Well why didn't you?" I asked him. 
"Because I had work to do," he sighed. 
That man. 

Another day in a life. So similar to so many others that I feel certain you could write one of these reports yourself. 
Writing Exercise: Describe a day in Monticello with Ms. Moon and two of her daughters. 

And yet. And yet. 
Each one precious to me. 

Time to put the chickens up. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

I Got Dirty Knees

I need to walk around my yard more. I almost missed those beauties which are the blossoms of the bromeliads growing in a rooster planter on our dearly departed Elvis's grave. Red and purple together are almost an embarrassment of richness, don't you think? 
Today was a day I needed to be outside and that's mostly where I was. I was going to get up and go to Maggie's first hair cut but I overslept and had been having the most godawful dreams and it occurred to me that it was a day for me to rest my soul. I had drained the well of social and human interaction. The dreams were full of much of the same old stuff- a huge house filled with foul garbage and dirty laundry and a filthy kitchen. Somehow it was three o'clock in the morning in this dream and I needed to write a poem for a college exam (about love) and I could not settle down to write until I'd at least tried to clean up some of the horror in the house and there were people everywhere, milling about, who seemed to live there and they were all obviously pigs and not concerned in the least about the state of the house.
The new thing there was the poem- I've never been given that particular dream before and also, my mother and real father were in the dream although neither one of them resembled my parents. My mother refused to listen to me about the state of the house but my father (and this was really weird) did.
"Daddy," I told him, snuggling up a bit to him, "This can't go on. This house is unlivable! And it's all...his...fault."
I meant my stepfather. And my father, who somewhat resembled Wilford Brimley, said, "I know honey, but we're not done with him yet. There are still things we need to get out of him."
And he meant that in some sort of financial way.
Another different part of the dream was that there was one woman there, a young woman, who not only seemed concerned about the state of the house but also managed to create a little order in the garage.
There was another part of the dream where I had to somehow get myself from deep in the woods to Monticello at night without a car and I have no idea where that came from. I don't think we need to consult Freud about much of these dreams but there are parts which mystify me.
But needless to say, I woke up exhausted and defeated and completely unable to drive to town.
So I called Lily and wept a little on the phone telling her that I wasn't coming and I talked to Maggie who was so sweet and she told me she loved me. Lily took pictures and here are a few of them.

Looking at Melissa with eyes of love.

Doesn't she look like a little nun or perhaps a miniature Amish wife?

And that, of course, is the way all of the children's haircuts with Melissa end. Smiles and lollypops. Lily said that she only got a tiny bit trimmed. I swear- if you pull one of those ringlets, the hair goes down past her waist. 

So I missed that and I just took it slow, slow. Eventually I went out to the garden. When Lon was here he suggested in the most gentle, kind way that if I thinned my plants more that they might get a little bigger.
"I know," I sighed. "I just have so much trouble doing that. It's painful. And honestly, this is the best I've ever done at thinning."
We looked at the stunted collards spaced approximately four inches apart (they're supposed to be eighteen inches apart) and busted out laughing. 
So today I determined to go out there and do some radical thinning. 
Well. Okay. I thinned a bit. 
Then I did the same for the mustards. And then the carrots and baby arugulas. 
Maurice helped me with that. 

That cat.
I discovered that my broccoli is actually making broccoli.

That is so pathetic but it's the best I've got. If I can just keep the worms off it, we will be able to get at least one meal's worth. I do have other plants but this one has the biggest crown on it. 

I trimmed all that I had pulled and washed everything. 

A sink full of collards.

Truly baby carrots. Aren't they adorable? 

So now my refrigerator is filled with fresh goodness including much of the lettuces that Lon brought us from his (decidedly NON-STUNTED) garden. I will cook the greens tomorrow and last night's supper of salad was so good

that I've decided to do it again tonight but with some sliced venison tenderloin that's only been in the freezer for a year and a half. 
It'll be fine. 

And although I'm tired, my soul feels like it's been recharged to at least one-third of a full battery. I used to get embarrassed about how much socializing exhausted me but now I just accept that that is part of who and how I am. Of course, in some ways, a weekend like last weekend is incredibly enriching and fills parts of my soul that no amount of house-nesting can do. There is no doubt about that. 
But then it's time to rest and settle. To untangle and unwind. To be quiet and perhaps kneel in the dirt. 

To top it all off, I washed our sheets and pillowcases today although Friday is my usual day. You know why I did that?
Because I could. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, February 17, 2020

I Was Like Mary Poppins Today But Without The Magic

Mr. Moon did indeed get himself out of the bed at 2:45 this morning which is unspeakably wrong but at this moment, he is home and safe and in his chair and there is a very large van in my yard.
Bless his heart. I am so glad he's home.

I got up at 7:15 which is early for me but I went to bed early so no problem. I got to Jessie's at nine and just a little while later Jessie and Vergil left for the hospital. The boys were happy to see me and we started in on a day of books and conversations and back-hoes and track-hoes and pretend and snacks and so forth. Lily brought over her kids to play for a little while as you can see above. The boys were out of school for President's Day and everyone had a good time. Laughter abounded.

When Owen saw Levon's pants, he said, "That cloth looks just like the back of my quilt!"
I told him that it WAS the same material. He was highly amused. 

It seemed unnaturally quiet when the Hartmann children left and the three of us still in the house ate our lunches and I knew that Levon was getting sleepy. Jessie told me, via text, that I could put him in his crib and see if he'd fall asleep. August told me that Levon needed his milk. "But you don't have any," he said. 
"True," I said. "But your daddy doesn't either and he can get Levon to sleep."
I changed his diaper and asked him what he wanted to take to bed with him. 
"The puppy? The soft monkey?"
"No!" he said. "Track-hoe!"
Well, of course. What was I thinking? 

I put him in his crib and he was quiet for a bit but then he started up crying and neither August nor I could handle that so we went into his room and I picked him up and sat down in the rocking chair and that little boy put his head on my shoulder and he fell asleep. While I was rocking, August was being very quiet, or at least trying to be, but there was a running conversation, albeit whispered. At one point he made a sad face and said, "This is how I look at my dying loved ones."
No. Really. He said that. 
Jessie says he's going through a worrying-about-death phase, asking the usual questions. Where do we go? Is there heaven? Etc. 
He didn't dwell on the dying loved ones theme for very long though. He noticed that I had a tiny boo-boo on one of my toes so he disappeared and came back with a bandaid. He unwrapped it and carefully bandaged me up. I thanked him. It's so nice to be tended to, isn't it?

And then Levon was well and truly asleep so I put him in his crib and sent a picture to his mama so she'd know that he was safe and fine. 

And then August and I went outside and he sat on the family's new fire pit

 and we had more conversations. He has a lot to talk about. Many of these start with the words, "Mer, I have to tell you something."
And then he does and we go from there. 
We read some more books and then we played a little of the "Monument" game on my phone which is the only game I have. It's very, very low key and you have to think and it plays ethereal music. Owen and I used to play it together. It's cool. Very problem-solving oriented. 
And then Levon woke up and then Mom and Dad came home. 
All was well. 
By the time I left, Vergil was walking about and getting hungry and Jessie was attending to two boys and one man and she seemed to have it all calmly in hand. 
I ran by Publix and got a few things, came home and unloaded my groceries, put them away. Then my husband came home. I know that when he gets off the road he's never very hungry and so I'd planned to just make a nice salad with some tuna on it, a sort of bastardized Nicoise salad and I told him that. He laughed. 
"Guess what I had for lunch?"
"Oh god. What?"
"A tuna sandwich and a Greek salad."

Of course. He claimed that it had all been so tasteless that he'd love to try it all again. 

He's a sweetie. 

Must be why our grandchildren are all so sweet. 
When I was changing Levon and August was helping me, I said, "Isn't it funny to think that I used to change your mommy's diaper?"
August agreed that it was. And I said, "Well, everyone starts out needing their diaper changed."
"Even Boppy," he said. "I wonder if he had a beard when he was a baby."

He's a cracky, that one. He's a cracky. 

Love...Ms. Moon