Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Life In The Time Of All This

 It's been...a day. 
I woke this morning to find a text from my GP's office telling me that I had an appointment at 11:40 tomorrow morning. 
I had absolutely no knowledge of this. What I remember about my last yearly appointment was that it was in June and that by the time it was over, the office staff had gone to lunch and I (whoops!) forgot to schedule my next one although of course I've been trying to make myself call and do that for months now but... 
I haven't. 
I immediately went into total panic mode after reading that text. It gave me the option to cancel, confirm, or reschedule. Of course I haven't had my bloodwork done and if you don't have that then there's really not much to discuss at an annual physical. I suppose I could have driven into town when I got the text, had blood drawn and then gone to the appointment tomorrow but hey! Probably wouldn't give it time enough for results, right? 
I am talking about this as if it's funny but to me it was the absolute opposite of funny. I adore my GP but that fact does nothing to make me less anxious when it comes to exams. 
Nothing. I can't even blame him for being so freaked out. As I have said recently, my fear of all things medical is only getting worse as I get older and that's saying a lot. I can literally remember having what I now know were panic attacks in doctors' offices when I was a child, even if the appointment was for my mother or my brother, not for me. 

I texted back "reschedule" and got a message to call the office to do just that. Listen: even texting to that office takes a hell of a lot of courage. Calling? 
Well, if I tell you right now that just writing about all of this is ramping up my anxiety to a very uncomfortable level, it is only the honest truth.
But I did it. And the lady was so very nice. I've rescheduled for sometime in August that I don't want to specifically name because I'm crazy as a loon and that's just the way it is. 
I knew I had to do something to calm my heart and soul and blood-pressure so I took a walk and that did help tremendously, especially with the physical stuff. With anxiety, the physical and mental connections are undeniable and it is no wonder that many, many people go to the ER every day, thinking they are dying to discover they are "only" having an anxiety attack. I am aware enough now to know what's going on with me and my body and anxiety but that doesn't always help a whole lot. I still feel what I feel but I do know that getting out and taking a good, hard walk can relieve some of it. 

So that was my morning. 

I spent a great deal of today looking for a few new dresses to wear in North Carolina as well as a new pair of Croc flip-flops, having blown out a pair yesterday at the beach. I did find two dresses online that I think will be okay and a pair of Crocs but instead of my usual black, I got bright teal blue because that appears to be the only color available in the entire world at this point. Whatever. 

I also picked vegetables. 

Here you have various varieties of tomatoes including the Berkley Tie-Dye. Also a gallon of green beans, three okra, two cucumbers, one Carmen pepper, one picnic pepper (I think), one banana pepper, and a bit of basil. I took No Man Lord some tomatoes and eggs this morning on my walk. He took the bag I handed him, said, "Thank-you," and that was that. I did ask him how he was and he said, "I'm here." 
What more is there to say? 

Have you seen that Bill Cosby is probably going to get out of prison and that he cannot be retried? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that his trial was "unfair" due to a former prosecutor's promise not to charge him. This prosecutor also worked as one of Trump's lawyers during one of his impeachment trials so I suppose I really do not need to wonder overmuch about how THAT happened. 
I am livid. 
And I cannot imagine how the women he assaulted, drugged and raped, must feel right now. 

The patriarchy has gone nowhere, no matter how many people are under the impression that "things are better." Just as with racism, things just change a little bit. And not for the better. 

That's all I have to say this evening. I am sorry. I am not very cheerful.

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

It's Mr. Moon's birthday and we drove down to the coast and met up with Lily, Lauren, Owen, Gibson, Maggie, and Pepper The Dog at Hamaknockers, a restaurant in Crawfordville where we ate barbecue on tables outside and it was delicious. 

And then we drove to Panacea where I lived one million years ago in a house by the bay or rather, I squatted in a house by the bay with about eight other people. We had no running water or electricity and some of the rooms were dangerous to walk through because of rotten floorboards but somehow it all worked out for a little while. Until it didn't. 
Still, I love Panacea in a way with its miles of grass rivers and cabbage palms, fishing boats and millionaire's houses where people never seem to live. There's a little beach at the end of a road just this side of a bay called Mashes Sands and right before you get there, there's another little road that goes to the beach where there used to be a fishing pier but most of it got destroyed by a hurricane and it still hasn't been rebuilt but you can make your way down to the water and there's a little tidal creek that flows with a good current and a little peninsula that makes a fine place to set chairs and watch the kids play in the water. It's the same place that Jessie and Vergil found and where the picture of Levon and me in the header was taken. That day was two years ago exactly because that's where we went on Mr. Moon's birthday in 2019. 

Mr. Moon brought his fishing gear and he set up on the other side of the little creek by the bay and he and Maggie sat in the water together for a long time. 

"I like being in your arms, Boppy," Maggie told him. And I think that's what he'll remember most about this birthday. He didn't catch any fish but he managed to catch a Maggie for a little while. 

The kids and Pepper had a great time. They swam and found hermit crabs and pretended the current was sweeping them away. Lauren and Lily and I sat on the shore and watched it all and talked and laughed. I got in the water too and let it wash over me like a tannin-colored dream and it was so nice to be sitting by the water, letting it all flow and be. 

When we finally packed up and hauled our chairs and the umbrella and our bags across the little creek back to the beach, it had begun to look dire to the east of us. We could hear very distant thunder for a while before that and suddenly, there was a squall line that was remarkable and then, just as we got back to the cars, the wind began whipping and it looked like this.

Seagulls began being blown backwards, trying to wheel around like a sailboat tacking into the wind and we all said things like, "Whoa! Good timing!" and so forth and then we drove home and here we are and the rain is coming down again and I'm going to go make our supper. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, June 28, 2021

Half Of Summer Caught In Three Pint Jars

A few minutes ago the temperature dropped a little and great gallumphs of giant-boot thunder began to sound and now lightening is cracking and flashing to the south and the east of us. Leaves are stirring in a small, restless dance and the sun has closed its eyes to slits.

Come on, rain. Break this syrup-thick humidity, turn it into liquid that falls from the sky and cools the dirt. 

I took a small walk this morning, less than forty-five minutes, and it was miserable. I know that it seems that the whole country is suffering right now and I know that our heat and humidity is not as bad as it is elsewhere but that doesn't make it feel any better here. 

I spent most of the rest of the day in the kitchen, peeling and chopping tomatoes and cutting up onions and peppers and putting them in the food processor and then cooking all of that with vinegar, sugar, salt, spices. I started out with enough of the mixture to half-fill my biggest enameled cast-iron pot and simmered it down until this is what I got.

Not even three full pints of chili sauce. 
It's good but I can't help but feel that this may have been a waste of my time, considering the results. And it's not just the chopping and cooking and peeling, it's the bowls and utensils I have to wash and the kitchen counters that, no matter how carefully I work, end up covered with juice and seeds. 
I guess I need to look at as a way to preserve many of the tomatoes and peppers that we grow and that each of those jars holds an entire bounty of garden goodness. 
Or something like that. 

I also made cookies. Tomorrow is Mr. Moon's birthday and he doesn't want a party or even a lunch out and he doesn't want a cake. He just finished up the Father's Day dessert I made him and I think the idea of an entire cake is probably overwhelming. So I think we're going to go to the beach with Lily and her kids and we can take cookies for everyone to eat. He's spent all day today over at Lily's, mowing her vast yard and doing I-don't-know-what-all. She told me that she wouldn't let him get the leaves off her roof for which I am grateful. 

It's raining now. A slow, gentle rhythm. Not enough to do a whole lot but it is cooler and the air feels more like air should, rather than something you need a snorkel to breathe. I just looked up to see one of Darla's kids at least thirty feet from her, pecking at seeds underneath the bird feeder. He was brave for a minute or two and then rushed back to be with mama and the rest of the siblings. It won't be long before they're all wandering off on their own. I will miss watching that little family flock wander about the yard. One of the barred rocks, either Annie or Alice, was missing a few nights ago in the roost but she showed up again the next day. I have no idea where she was but I'm glad she's back.
The mystery and wonder of chickens. The mystery and wonder of rain. The mystery and wonder and alchemy of making sauce from tomatoes. The mystery and wonder of watching a cat watching the rain come down. The mystery and wonder of loving someone so long and discovering that you love them more every year. Hell, every day. 

The mystery and wonder of it all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, June 27, 2021


Well, there you have what I picked today. I think that tomorrow I'll make chili sauce because it's like ketchup in that you cook down the tomatoes to the purest, deepest essence of their flavor, and peppers and onions and spices are also involved. Garlic too. I might get crazy and add the roasted cherry tomatoes I made last week along with the pickled cherry tomatoes I made because their texture is just horrible but if they were cooked down with sauce that would not be a problem and their flavor is wonderful. 
We'll see.
I was thinking I'd do that today but by the time I'd quit procrastinating, it was too late. So I cleaned the hen house and then I was overcome with heat and humidity (not as bad as what you PNW people are experiencing) and had to lay down and almost fell asleep which is ridiculous in that I slept nine hours last night. 

Sleep has become not only my rest but my entertainment as well. I've been having fairly interesting dreams forever but the ones I'm having these days are taking new twists and turns although many of the same themes are represented. Not always though. 
A few nights ago I dreamed of Roseland, which I do, but the house that my grandfather built for my mother and brother and I was a prominent feature and that was a first. 
I have never, ever dreamed about that house in such detail. 
In real life the house is one of the worst looking places in Roseland now. There are houses that were shacks 60 years ago that are now tidy, sweet little cottages which I've talked about before because it just astounds me. But the house we lived in, built in the early sixties, is just a horror. You can't see too much of it for the trees and uncontrolled growth and it has been painted the most wretched shade of brown you can imagine. It was white stucco when we lived there with green trim, I think. It was a simple house. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, a small kitchen with a dining area, a pass through window onto the the living room. That was it. There was some nice pine paneling in the living room and the floors were terrazzo which was sort of an early fake marble type of material and which I still love. I can remember vividly the day they made it. They poured concrete and then literally threw the tiny stones that makes up the color and character onto it and mashed those down and then sealed and buffed it. Indestructible, cool, easy to clean. And if you dropped something on it, it broke. Not the floor. Whatever you dropped. 
As I recall, the entire house was built of concrete. Perhaps blocks. I don't remember. But whatever was cheapest, sturdiest, and practical I suppose. There was no air conditioning. In those days, this was common. There was, however, a screened in back porch which stretched the width of the house and I don't recall that we used it much but I can remember the giant land crabs who, once a year would come out of the muck and mire by the river to find love, would climb to the top of the screens. It was like a horror movie to those who had never witnessed it but we took it completely in stride. For those of you who are curious, just google "land crabs" and you can see for yourself what happens when they come out of hiding. 
Anyway, that was the house. There was also a small laundry room, a carport for my mother's 1960 Volkswagen Beetle (snot green) and an aerator tank which everyone down there had which supposedly helped improve the taste of the sulphur water that came out of the taps. 
It didn't. 
And strangely, I just very rarely dream of that house. There was a great deal of pain and suffering that went on in that house and I feel no need to go into details tonight but I'll just say that we were living in that house when my mother was courted by The Asshole and where we lived when they were first married. 
In my dream, the house did not look so bad inside. It was like I was watching a video that someone had taken, room by room. As it was about to move into the bedroom that my brother and I shared, I thought, "This is where the horror began," and that part of house, the video, never showed. 
It was unsettling. 
Granny and Granddaddy's house was in the dream too and it was beautiful. It was a beautiful house to me. A tiny, simple cabin, really, that Granddaddy had built an extra bedroom on, linked to the house by a short screened walkway. Just a few steps from the kitchen. When I dream of that house, I yearn for it to be mine. It is totemic in my life. In this dream, the river rose and climbed its bank and was flooding the house, which as far as I know has never happened. The house is across the street from the river and there is quite a bit of ground between them. But I've been told that water represents emotions in dreams and I can see how that could be true here. When I think of that house emotions do indeed wash over me, just as the waters of the river of my childhood washed over the floors of dream Granddaddy's house.

The dreams I had about those two houses have been with me since I woke up from them. Memories of those days have become sharper and arise frequently. There was no resolution in the dream. No Big Answers but I'm sure that there are quite possibly some interesting questions. It's funny. The older I get, the more I yearn to go back to Roseland. Not just to visit, but to live and I seriously doubt that's ever going to happen. I would be one of the old people there now, living their (my) last years on the banks of the Sebastian River where there are jungle islands and dolphins and sharks that swim in from the Atlantic via the Sebastian Inlet, manatees, mullet, mangroves, snakes, gators, catfish, tarpon, and so many of the memories of my heart. 

Love...Ms. Moon 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

One Fine Day

I believe that if you count carefully, you can see all of the chickens there except for four of the babies. So many chickens! I had thrown them some watermelon and they were gobbling it up. They love watermelon with all of their little dinosaur hearts. They are watermelon-eating machines. 

Today was just a very fine day. As I had said, Hank offered to go with me to pick out glasses and Rachel ended up coming too. We went to Costco and the lady pointed us to a wall and told us where the women's frames were and said, "Just help yourself. Feel free to try on whatever you want."
I had decided that maybe I wanted red glasses. I have had red glasses twice in the past and always enjoyed them so...I concentrated on those. Hank held the ones I tried on that were contenders, Rachel looked for ones she thought I'd like. And she was right, too. They were both fast and honest in their opinions of what looked best on me. And we all seemed to agree. So that made it so much easier. Within fifteen minutes I had found two frames, one for regular wear, one for sunglasses and I like them both. The ones I got for sunglasses have two tiny pearls on each of the stems. They are so fucking cute! The everyday ones are a bit more sturdy which is sensible. And then another lady did all the measurements and cracked jokes with us and asked me the questions that needed answering and it was just a breeze of an experience. And for less than the price of two pairs of just the frames I was looking at yesterday, I got two pairs of glasses with my crazy prescription. 
And I forgot to take one picture! 
Well, in a week to ten days, I'll have them. 

So that was done and dusted and we went to lunch and then to the Goodwill bookstore where I got another tractor book for Levon and three Babar books that I don't have and a crazy book that I think is a bit too scary for August and Levon but which Owen and/or Gibson might like and which I decided I just had to have in my library. 

It's educational!

It was just easiest, sweetest day. I enjoyed being with Hank and Rachel so much. I never got anxious, I never felt nervous. I didn't even feel ancient! It was just a laid-back, lovely few hours. And I am so grateful for the help they gave me. 
Dang but I'm a lucky mama. 

Mr. Moon's been working on his big boat all day long. I swear- that man can put in a day's work. It is truly a big boat and he scrubbed the whole thing, inside and out. He wants to take it down to the bay to run it to see if everything's working and he will not take it out of the yard unless it is in tip-top, ship-shape, shining condition. He just can't do it. I know that he'll be feeling a huge amount of satisfaction tonight. 

Two more pictures. This one, I took this morning to send to a friend far away and I texted it with the word "Florida."

The rain we've gotten lately has made everything so green and my wild phlox is a pure glory. I took this picture this afternoon from the other side of that little bed.

My next door neighbor at the last house we lived in before this one gave me the tiny phlox sproutlings. She was a true master gardener and I loved her tremendously. I transplanted a bunch into this yard when I moved here and they come back every year, strong and true, no matter what the winter has been like, no matter how much rain or drought we've gotten, no matter how much sun or shade they get. 
I wish I was half that resilient. And beautiful. 

Don't we all? 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, June 25, 2021

My Eyeballs Are Healthy

 Jessie sent this picture in a group text this morning and I think it may be my favorite picture of Levon ever. Or at least one of them. He was ready to help his Uncle Ben do some work on the porch. The only thing I don't like about it is that he looks about two years older there than he did when he left here about a month ago. 
Excuse me? Did anyone ask my permission for this to happen?
No. No they did not. 

So. Saga of the eye exam.
It wasn't bad at all. And the terrific news is that my eyes showed nothing but good healthy eyeballishness. Blood vessels looked good. Retina fine. The macula appears normal. My mother had macular degeneration so I worry about that. 
They did not have to dilate my eyes. For the low, low cost of $34.99 (or something like that) they can take a high-tech picture of the eye which shows them just about everything they need to know. The doctor did use a special lens to look all around the periphery of my pupils and again, all looked well. 
Turns out that my eyesight problem is not that my vision has gotten worse. It's a problem I have with my eye muscles. They do not want to both focus in the same place which understandably, causes double vision at distance. This has been going on for years and the last doctor I went to figured that out and they included a prism something-something in the prescription to help resolve the issue which helped for a long time but lately it's been getting worse, making driving and watching TV across the room and things like dance recitals frustrating as hell because my poor eye muscles are trying like hell to work together to make the left and right eye's vision come together the way they should and they just can't. 
Poor eye muscles. 
So, the doctor made a change in my prescription and that should take care of that. 
I was so relieved when it was all over that I practically offered to have a baby for her if she needed that service (she doesn't, she has two children already- I always NEED to know about the lives of the doctors). But then of course it was time to pick out frames and I went into that with an open heart and open mind but the young woman helping me annoyed me so much that I finally said that I'd be back, paid up, got my prescription and left. 
I sort of liked one pair (although now I'm glad I didn't get them) and she almost wouldn't let me choose them saying, "When you put them on you didn't go Yes! I love these!"
"Honey," I said, "At this point in my life there is absolutely nothing that I am going to put on my face which is going to evoke that particular reaction." 
She just looked at me like, "Duh. You're about a hundred years old."
And she kept suggesting the highest dollar frames and I understand that. That is how she makes her living. But fuck me- even the lower-priced ones were not cheap by a long shot. 
Worst of all, I didn't have any of my children there to help me decide. Jessie has been doing that for me for years and years. Probably since she was about four which is when I started trusting her fashion-and-beauty advice. I tried sending her a few pictures but my reception there was terrible. And Mr. Moon had dropped me off and then gone to the office and wasn't back yet so I just couldn't do it alone. 
Maybe one of the kids will go to Costco with me tomorrow. I'll see what they have. I know that you can order very fine frames online for a lot less money but I can't figure out how you can really know how you'll look in a pair of glasses without trying them on. 
Anyway. That's my story.

When Mr. Moon picked me up it was almost two so we decided to go get lunch and we went to a very locally-owned place that serves seafood and he ordered a shrimp basket and I ordered a shrimp sandwich and for some reason it took them over forty minutes to get us our food and there were only two other occupied tables in the restaurant. The food was great but by the time we got it we were over the whole experience. 
I hate it when that happens. 

But all is well and I've picked some beans and tomatoes and I've got the bed made up with clean sheets and here are some chick pictures.

Look at all those little tail feathers growing in!

The possible barred rock baby. He/she has such a pleasant expression. 

And later on in the day, Jessie sent another picture. 

Carpenter Levon turned into Polar Bear Levon on the trampoline. 

Ah! If only all of us could be so flexible in our life styles. What glory to be three years old and open to the entire human range of possible personalities and dreams! 

Happy Friday, y'all.

Love...Ms. Moon

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Vegetables Galore

There you have a future field pea. Could be a white acre pea, could be a zipper pea, could be a black-eyed pea. I do not know for sure. But I know it will be a delicious pea. 
This morning when Mr. Moon and I went into the garden after we let the chickens out, I looked around and said, "Honey, maybe next year we shouldn't plant so much." 
I think I hurt his feelings. 
He just doesn't quite grasp the concept that sometimes too much is just too much. Especially for his old wife with her canning kettle and pint jars. But my lord, it is a beautiful garden. 

My husband is about six feet, eight inches tall so as you can see, some of those tomatoes that he is so gently tying up, are about seven feet tall. Some of the varieties have given us a lot of fruit already, some are just coming on. The banana peppers that you can see in front of him, are incredibly prolific. The other peppers, both hot and mild, are turning from green to red and are beautiful. The yellow squash is still coming forth and the cucumbers are just beginning to grow and ripen. The okra is somewhat disappointing this year in height but there are blooms (which look like hibiscus blooms) and a few tiny pods which look like nothing more than green baby boy penises. Or, alternatively, "penes" which I swear is also a form of the plural for the word. 
The Delicata squash we planted this year for the first time appears to be thriving. 

The field peas, all of the varieties we've planted, are making pods and I think that by this time next week, we'll be shelling them. 
And shelling them. 
And shelling them. 
Ah well, such a good excuse to sit on our asses and watch TV. It's a satisfying chore, watching the bowl slowly fill with the small firm beans, the bowl where the pods go filling ten times faster. Or more. Sometimes as we open the pods with our thumbnails, the peas fly out and there are probably many of them, dried now, hidden in the deepest recesses of the couch from who-knows-how-many-years ago? 
Knowing that we'll soon be overflowing with them, I took a package of the ones we froze from last year out of the freezer in the garage and they are simmering now on the stove with some sliced onion, a little olive oil, some salt and soy sauce. 
It's going to be a very hunter/gardener meal here in Lloyd this evening. I've made a gazpacho with tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers, onion, garlic, a kiss of salt, a splash of olive oil, another of balsamic vinegar. It would be perfect if I had realized BEFORE I put the peppers in that one of the types I was using was, ummm...a bit spicy. NOT the Red Flame, but another that I thought was a sweet pepper but which is obviously not. Luckily, I did not put too much of it in but next time I'll be more careful. 
We're also going to have some venison backstrap which is so tender that all I need to do is give it a very quick sear in a cast iron skillet. It's hard for me to cook it rare enough to make my husband happy so I have to remember that when it seems as if no one but Dracula would eat it, it is probably ready. Venison has almost NO fat in it at all so cooking it for too long does nothing but make it tough and chewy. If one is making a soup or a stew out of less tender cuts, it is quite acceptable to cook it in liquid for a long time but the truly tender cuts- backstrap and tenderloin- do not need that sort of time. 
And of course, there is a loaf of bread rising. 

Tomorrow is my eye exam and I just want it to be over. I can remember when I loved getting my eyes checked. It meant new glasses, better vision, that strange but not entirely unpleasant closeness of the optometrist's voice and face in the near darkness as he quietly clicked lenses on the big circle in front of me asking, "A, or B? One, or two? Now which line can you read?"
How I wish I could go back in time to the days when going to the doctor (any doctor) didn't send me soaring into dissociation. Well. It is what it is. Remember when I tried hypnosis for the problem? The doctor (and he was a doctor) creeped me out so much I never went back. 

I got my grocery shopping done today so that tomorrow I won't have to do it with my eyes dilated. And it would appear that the sun is finally out, just as it is slowly, slowly sinking below the trees to the west. 

Peace be with us all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Rainy Day

I wonder how many purple cow pictures I have posted over the years? I have no idea but here is one more. 

Owen was so sweet. And so easy. We did not read The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza but we did joke about it. He liked his chicken enchiladas and of course he took his own shower and then he watched some basketball with his Boppy and when he got tired, he went to bed and I kissed him goodnight and that was that. He did not wake us before dawn, he did not need to be comforted in the night, he did not complain of monsters or being thirsty. He just slept. And this morning he was quite happy with the leftover pancakes from Sunday. 
It was another rainy day so we watched "My Octopus Teacher" again. We'd all seen it before but it was as terrific and magical the second time as it had been the first. And then Owen and I hung out on the porches, first the back porch where we watched the birds and the chickens and then the swing porch where we watched the rain and just talked. He is a talker and he is a listener, too. He listened to some of my stories and I thanked him before he left. 
"Anytime!" he said. "Well, that I'm here." 
We also played Battle, he and Mr. Moon and I. He won. 

He's just a fine boy and a smart boy and I am so proud to be his grandmother. 

The rain has made us lazy. Mr. Moon has done a little of this and of that and I have done even less. We spent some sweet time together and I was undone with love for him. It was as if some window had been opened in my soul and in my memory and suddenly I could see and feel the branch of the tree in Roseland that I used to perch on to read sometimes. An old cedar which is not there anymore but which I still dream of. I thought of Owen as a baby and I thought of myself as a child and wished I could remember being held by my mother. I do have one memory of her holding me but I was wracked with pain from an earache and so it is not a sweet memory. I could feel her worry and concern and somehow it seems as if I was already aware that causing her pain was something I did not ever want to do. As I remembered things I thought about how when we die, all of the memories we have die with us and how that renders everything we remember dead too. This is obvious, of course, but somehow I feel so emotional about that on this rainy day that has been so filled with love. Everyone has their own lives and their own memories, some of them so sharp and clear even after decades and decades that it would seem impossible that they will simply disappear. That there will be no trace of a little girl clutching a red Happy Hollisters book, walking down a dirt road towards the river and climbing up into the lap of a cedar tree, her heart filled with too much sorrow for anyone that young, the comfort of the book, the words, the pages, the grooved, dark bark of the branch, the spicy scent of the cedar, the funky smell of the river and the mangroves, the sounds of the birds, the blue of the sky, the peace of the place, the sense of the safety of being alone, all alone in a tree. 

Here's another memory- whenever my grandfather carved a roast, he would always say the same words: Tender as a widow's heart. 
Oh, James," my grandmother would say. 
And he would chuckle. 
That's how my heart feels today- tender as a widow's heart even though my husband is right here, able to take me in his arms and let me cry a little if I need to, to kiss me and tell me he loves me. 

Well. The frogs are singing and water that collected on leaves is dripping to the saturated ground. I am thinking now about how Owen asked me why I started planting things like gardens and trees. I told him that it seems like I just had to. He accepted that. We talked a lot about nature and how quickly and horribly humans are destroying it. We talked about the giant oak in my front yard and the little Buck-eye I planted. We talked about where birds go in the rain and also- where do they go during hurricanes? 

I do not know. I do not know, my love. But somehow, those tiny winged creatures manage to live through them. Manage to live through it all. They may be tiny and they may look so incredibly delicate, but my god, they are strong. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tomatoes Under Control. For A Day, At Least

If I was to sell that pint of salsa I think I would have to ask about fifty dollars for it. And that still probably would not compensate me or Mr. Moon fully for the labor we put into the growing of the vegetables, the preparation of the vegetables, the cooking, the jars, the jar sterilizing, and the first degree burns I seem to have on my left hand. 
Which is odd in that I am right-handed. 

Anyway, I have seven pints of homemade salsa now and if you asked me if it tastes better than commercial canned salsa, I'd have to, not really. But of course there is that sense of satisfaction I have from having done it and that's worth something. 
Right? Right? 
The first thing I did this morning was cut all my sun gold cherry tomatoes in half. This took approximately forty-eight hours. 
Not really. But an hour, probably. 
And then I salted them and squeezed some of the juice out of them and put sliced garlic in with them and roasted them for a few hours. 

I tried boiling down some of the juice that I collected and that was...interesting. I ended up putting a little bit into the salsa and tossing the rest. It was full of seeds but I'm not picky about tomato seeds. The tomatoes themselves ended up as sweet as candy but of course they all had their skins on them still. Didn't bother me, I added those to my salsa too along with peeled regular tomatoes, chopped peppers of various varieties including some jalapenos that Lily gave me and half of one of those Red Flame peppers and I'm pretty sure that's what burned my hand. Also onions, garlic, vinegar, and salt. I cooked that down for awhile, added a can of tomato paste to thicken it a little and make it a bit redder (all those sun golds gave it a yellow tinge) and then I water bathed it. 
And just like that...SALSA!

We will try it tonight on the enchiladas I am making for Owen who is spending the night. He's such a sweet boy. He helped me pick vegetables earlier and he went with Mr. Moon to the dump to get rid of some more stuff from the garage that my husband is clearing out. He helped him unload it. It's such a trip having this boy here now. It's like he grew up in the Year of Covid. He'll be 12 in September and he's almost as tall as I am. When I kiss him on the cheek, there is no more bending down. He is precious to me. My first grandchild, the one who gave me my grandmother name. 

He half grew up in this house and I joke that he knows where everything is better than we do. That may be true. I always want him to feel as if he is home when he is here. 

I wonder if he'll let me read him The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza tonight. He's so sweet that he might. 

And I did one more thing today. Harder than making salsa by far. Something I've been putting off for literally years- I made an appointment for an eye exam. It's on Friday and I'm very, very glad that the process has begun for me to get new glasses. Not only do I need a new prescription but the glasses I have are so scratched up that it's a wonder I can see at all out of them. The only reason I've put it off for so long is my ridiculous but very real fear of doctors. I'm almost sixty-seven years old and I cannot for the life of me figure out where this fear comes from and it only seems to get worse with age. 
But. I did it. 
And I know this sounds absolutely absurd but I'm proud of myself. 

And on that note- off to make enchiladas for my boy and his grandfather. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, June 21, 2021

Back To The Garden

Yesterday Darla brought the bebes all the way up to the bird feeder which is just a few yards from the back porch. I was delighted to see them. I went in the house and got some leftover scrambled eggs from our brunch and sat on the back steps and scattered them and they all came running. They already recognize me as the vertical moving feeder and are not afraid of me in the least although our relationship does not extend to cuddles. Part of me would love that and part of me is afraid to because I know that some of these babies are going to turn out to be roosters and will probably go to No Man Lord for a chicken dinner and if I've named them and loved on them, it'll be just that much harder. Honestly, if roosters didn't cause so much trouble and consternation (and actual physical damage) among the hens and if they didn't challenge the alpha rooster, thus causing him to have to divide his attentions between watching the flock and watching out for sneak attacks, I would not mind at all just feeding them and having them around. But once the little roos start with the hormones and the crowing and the chasing of hens, there is just no kum-ba-ya energy strong enough to undo what eons of evolution have done. 
And for a good reason, I might add. 

Anyway, that was interesting. After a few minutes, Jack came out the cat door and sat beside me and Darla sensibly called her chicks to her side and they hustled underneath a table. I'm here to tell you that when a mama hen says, "Come here!" her babies don't stop to argue. 
Jack couldn't have cared less about the chicks. I'm so glad my cats are not a threat to my chickens. 

I had a very hard time getting out of bed this morning. It was gray and raining off and on and I was so sleepy. At least I felt sleepy. I finally crawled out of the covers and got my day started. I decided that I needed to attend to my produce preservation again and got out the pressure canner Lily loaned me after I picked another huge basket of beans. Turns out that there are two parts that were missing and so I sighed and got out the regular canner and pickled seven pints. 

Here's what my process looks like. 

I wash the beans and let them drip dry on a towel while I fill the canner with water, wash jars and set them in the canner to boil and sterilize. I put the lids and bands in another pot and bring that almost to a boil and take it off the heat. I snip the stem-end of the beans and then cut them into a good length for a pint jar and and put the leftover bits in another bowl. This takes awhile as we are obviously talking about hundreds of beans. When that's all done I make up the brine for the pickling. Vinegar, water, salt, and sugar for these. I bring that to a boil and by then all the jars have been boiled for at least ten minutes and I take them out of the canner and set them on a clean cloth and then fill them with the beans which is somewhat like doing a puzzle, fitting in as many as I can without squishing them or breaking them, leaving enough room at the top for a garlic clove and dill seeds and mustard seeds and whatever other spices I feel like using. Today I used some crushed red pepper flakes. We are growing a type of pepper I've never grown before called a Red Flame and I picked one the other day. They look like overgrown cayenne peppers- long, a bit wrinkled, skinny, red. I looked them up and dang if they're not hotter than habaneros on the Scoville scale which is a measurement of the hotness of peppers based on the amount of capsaicinoids they contain. In fact, they would appear to be almost as hot as ghost peppers which means- WHY THE FUCK DID WE PLANT THESE? I thought about making teeny tiny slices of the one I'd picked to add to the pickled beans but decided not to. For one thing, I don't have any cooking gloves and if you've ever cut up hot peppers and not used gloves you know what I'm talking about. Accidentally touch your eye and you could burn your retinas. Not to mention that your fingers can burn for hours no matter how many times you wash them. 

But. Moving on. After I pack the beans into the jars, using the snips I'd saved to fill up spaces which are too small for whole beans and filling a jar with the rest of the snips to can and use on salads, I pour the hot brine into the jars, making sure to cover the beans, put the clean lids and bands on them, and put them in the canner. 

I bring the water back to a boil and then let them boil for about another ten minutes, take them out, set them back on the towel to cool, and hope to hear them all pop, which means they have a good seal and can safely be stored on a shelf for at least a year or two. 

And all of the ones I have done today have indeed sealed. 

I've picked another huge basket of banana peppers and cherry tomatoes as well as a large pineapple tomato. This is a new one for us and they are quite pretty. 

Perhaps we will eat that with dinner. 
Tomorrow I absolutely must figure out something to do with all of my cherry tomatoes and the regular sized ones too. I am thinking salsa. I have read about roasting the cherries but that requires a lot of fussy prep and I'm not sure I'm up for that. I'll figure out something. 

Here's what else I picked in the garden. 

You have to love a man who plants zinnias in the garden for no other reason than that his wife loves them. 
And I do. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Father's Day

I took zero pictures today. I thought about it approximately 87 times but then immediately got distracted by something and just didn't. In my defense, there was a lot going on when the kids were here. There's ALWAYS a lot going on when the kids are here.

Brunch sort of turned into lunch as both Hank and Lily had a hard time getting out of the house. Hank was still trying to write trivia for tonight and Lily first had to get Maggie in the shower because instead of just playing in the rain the way she was supposed to be doing, she played in the mud too.
Now you can't blame a girl for that. 
And then they couldn't get Pepper the dog into the house. Maybe she wanted to play in the mud too. 
So by the time we actually all sat down at the table, it was noonish. 
Gibson gave everything I'd cooked a score. 
Bacon- ten out of ten. 
Sausage- ten out of ten.
Eggs- eight out of ten. 
Pancakes- nine out of ten.
And his mother's hashbrown casserole came in with a ten out of ten. So it was a pretty good breakfast. 
Nobody went hungry, I'll say that. 

And then there was playing and stuff. A little book reading. Owen listening in on the adult's conversation. He's at the age where he laps all of that up. And it can get interesting when Hank's around. We checked out the chicks. Maggie "drove" the go-cart with dolls beside her. It was all pretty fun. She wanted to go look in the garden and see what vegetables we had. I picked her some zinnias. She asked for a pink one for her mother because pink is her favorite color. 
When they left, we just sort of collapsed. I finished cleaning up the kitchen and then I finished making the Fat Man Pie. 
Hoo-boy. That thing could probably provide ten adult human's daily caloric needs for a week. Not their nutritional needs but their caloric ones. 

It's a bit odd that Father's Day isn't a bad day for me, considering my history with fathers. Fathers of mine, that is. First I had the one I call My Old Drunk Dead Daddy, and then the one I call The Asshole. 
The first one would disappear for weeks at a time, abandoning his wife and children with no idea where he was and no money for food; the second was a sexual abuser. 
I do not remember one Father's Day from my childhood although perhaps we did have a few celebrations for my grandfather who was a good man, and I'm sure we also had some for The Asshole but I've thankfully blocked those from memory. 
And I doubt there was anything in the world I wanted more than I daddy when I was growing up. My stepfather's ability to find a woman with a daughter who was so perfectly poised for grooming as a victim was impeccable. Hey! He was a smart man! 
Too bad he was a pedophile. 
The Impeccable Pedophile, aka, The Asshole. 

So you know- Father's Day does have the potential to be a triggering event for me but honestly, it's not so much. I think that's because I found the best daddy for my own children that I could have ever imagined. I posted this picture on Facebook.

It's one of my favorite pictures of Glen. It was taken in Cozumel on New Year's Eve a few years ago. And as I said on FB, "When I met this man in 1983, you can understand if my first thought wasn't...hmmm...he'd make a great daddy."
Which is true. 
But of course he turned out to be a spectacular daddy, a loving daddy, a daddy who provided in all ways for our kids. The ones we had together and the ones he got as bonus gifts when we were married. And as I also said on Facebook, he is legendary as a grandfather. 

I have no idea how I got so damn smart when it came to saying "yes" to a life with him but there was something in my heart that knew if I had one shot at happiness this was it. 
Perhaps it was because he was so far from "my type" of man that it was like he was a different species and maybe I'd finally grown up enough to realize that "my type" wasn't really the type I needed. 
Or even really wanted
And besides, I was already in love with him by then. 
Thirty-eight years later I realize that I didn't even really know the vaguest possibility of how much I would come to love him over the years nor did I even begin to know what a truly good man he was. 
What a truly good man he is. 

So. That's my Father's Day story for today. 

I distinctly remember back when I was probably about fourteen or so, as miserable and life-sick as a girl could be and I had a dream, a real dream, and in it there was a boy. He was just there but he radiated such love and goodness that he calmed my heart and my soul and I never forgot the comfort and peace I had felt in that dream. 

I guess I married the man of my dream. 

I am a woman of great fortune. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Saturday, June 19, 2021

No Title

 These ethereal blooms are garlic blossoms, believe it or not. A friend of ours brought me some yesterday just because they were too pretty to throw away after he cut them. He said not to put them in water because they'd rot so I put them in my tallest vase and I hope they last a few days, at least. 

I have them on the back porch because although I do love the smell of garlic, I'm not sure I want it to permeate the air in the house all day and all night. They seem happy out here. 

Today has been a mishmash of not much. Mr. Moon went to the Watermelon Festival in Monticello this morning but I did not. The weather has been threatening to rain all day- the tropical storm that came up through the Gulf has brought rain and winds all around us it would seem, but none have made it here except a drop now and then. But the air has been heavy with the sultry threat of it and at times it's been breezy. There were so many things I needed to do today but did almost none of them, perhaps weighed down by the barometric pressure, perhaps just lazy. I had absolutely no inclination to make and can salsa which is what I should have done. I did, however, start the dessert that makes my husband happiest. It will be his Father's Day present. 
I know I've told this story before but...when we met he had a cookbook that his former mother-in-law had self-published. She had a little tea room in Auburn, Alabama and I guess a lot of people wanted her recipes. Mr. Moon pointed one out to me and told me that he loved it. Here it is.

Now if you know one thing about me it's that there's no way in hell I would be making a recipe calling for instant chocolate pudding and Cool Whip. Or margarine either, for that matter. But the basic idea of the dessert is sound and so I make it my own way. Today I made the crust with butter, not margarine and not two sticks of butter either. Just one. And even that is somewhat sinful. 
I make my own chocolate pudding with cocoa and milk and half and half and cornstarch and egg yolks the way god intended for pudding to be made. And of course, I whip my own cream instead of using Cool Whip. 
Now all of this is not to say that I have not eaten my share of instant pudding and Cool Whip- I have. But not lately. decades. 
I've told my children that if I should die and my husband remarries, they should tell the new wife about the recipe. If they like her, they should tell her how I made it. If they do not like her, they should stay silent on those details. 
Sometimes I've been tempted to make it as written myself to see what it tastes like. 
But I think I can imagine it. 

So all I have to do tomorrow is whip cream and mix some of it with softened cream cheese and put it all together. 
That will be after our little brunch. Lily and her kids are coming over and possibly Hank and Rachel. May has to work. I'll make the traditional pancakes and bacon, and scramble some eggs. Lily said she'll bring a hash brown casserole. There is a watermelon to cut up. 
I will miss May and Michael and Jessie and Vergil and those wild boys of theirs. I told Jessie the other day that I was making THE dessert. 
"Damn," she said. "That's my favorite!"
"Well," I told her, "When you go to NORTH CAROLINA for the summer you miss a few things." 
We laughed. 
And then I told her I'd make some for her when we come visit if she wants me to. 
I'm so easy. 

I did work on the eternally-not-finished dress. I wanted to get it done because we'll be using the dining room tomorrow which is where I have everything set up for my sewing. You'd think in a house this big I'd have a dedicated sewing room but I do not. One of the upstairs rooms would be great but the idea of going up and down those stairs is NOT. I finished the bias strip trim on the neck and went to work on the trim for the armholes and mysteriously the strips I had cut and sewn have disappeared. Just...gone. 
So I cut and sewed more. Actually, better ones. And I got one armhole halfway done and pinned and ironed to finish it and as I started sewing I thought, "I bet I run out of bobbin."
And yes. I ran out of bobbin. 
On my old Singer, when you run out of bobbin, you have to unthread the machine, rethread it to go to the bobbin uptake thing, run the bobbin, put that back in its clever little case, and rethread the whole thing for sewing. 

And you don't usually realize you've run out of bobbin until you finish the part you were "sewing" but not sewing bobbin. 

This is not a third-world problem. 
I ran a bobbin, rethreaded, etc. And then put everything to the side for tomorrow. This is the cursed dress that never got made and if I DO ever get it made, I'll probably hate it. 

Oh well. 

Check this out. 

Can you have too much of a good thing? 
Yes. Yes you can. 


And suddenly it is pouring rain. It smells so good. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, June 18, 2021

Guitar Players. I've Known A Few

When you are a grandmother, sometimes you drive around doing your errands with a doll or two strapped into a camouflage child's seat in your car. This was the case for me today. I took Lily's car to her and traded it for my car and Maggie asked if I would mind driving her doll around. I said I would not mind at all and so she took the doll (Belle? Anna? Kim Kardashian?) out to my car and strapped her in. While I was getting bags out of the back of the car to do my shopping later, I found the other doll and put her safely next to the one Maggie had placed in the seat because- well, who wants to ride around in the hatchback?
I have been instructed to bring them in and put them with the other dolls in my house and when Maggie comes over on Sunday for Father's Day brunch, she can collect them. 

If I had just gone to the two places today that I meant to go to which were of course Costco and Publix, I could have been done in an hour and a half. But I realized as I was driving in that I was very hungry and so I decided to go to a Mexican place in a little strip mall near Costco and since I had nothing to read while I ate, I went to the Goodwill bookstore next to it first. This worked out well and I spent at least a half hour in the bookstore which is a very fine Goodwill bookstore, well organized and tidy as can be, perusing fiction and history, memoir and biography, books about Florida and children's books. I want to be able to take some new books (to us) up to North Carolina and also to share with the other grands. I only ended up getting three but I think they will be enjoyed. One is about heavy machinery. I hope that Levon has not read it. I ended up buying myself a chick-lit sort of novel which will easy to read and entertaining, too. I started it while I ate my enchiladas. 
Here's a funny thing- I was sitting there, feeling so old because I have been feeling so old recently and also because I am getting on up there in years (as in, if I died, people would not look at my age in my obituary and say, "Oh, and she was so young!) when a song came on the Muzak play list that I am almost certain was done by a band whose members I used to know. I wanted to grab the four-year old employee who was cleaning tables and say, "I know their guitar player!" 
But I didn't. 

That didn't actually make me feel any younger and what I did in Costco made me feel even older. I only had four things on my list and for once, I only got the things on my list and so that took me about five minutes and then I went to the self-check-out which I always seem to screw up in some way but today I was certain I had done it perfectly, zippity-doo-dah, off to the door to leave, when I realized I did not have my receipt and of course you cannot get out of Costco without your receipt so I had to wheel back to the self-check-out place where the attendant was holding my receipt as he helped someone else. He saw me, handed it to me, I said, "Thank-you!" and headed back to the door where I was allowed to leave seeing as I had proof that I'd paid for my groceries. 

Nothing dramatic happened in Publix although I did have to backtrack a few times. I didn't even run into anyone I know which was a huge relief. 

Got home, unloaded the car, put everything away, made up the bed with the sheets I'd washed and put in the dryer before I left, put the things I had in the washer into the dryer, made up a loaf of (not sourdough) bread and gave it firm instructions to rise, motherfucker!, checked on Darla and her chicks- all of them seem to be present and accounted for, collected eleven eggs, picked some basil and a handful of arugula for tonight's supper, and for some damn reason I'm far more exhausted this evening than I was any of the days I walked this week. 

I will enjoy my martini tonight. 

On the menu: squash soup and a sort of caprese  salad with chicken and bread. 

Possibly flat bread. 

Happy Friday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon