Monday, October 18, 2021

Preciousness


 Lily texted this morning to tell me that Maggie was refusing to eat breakfast until she got to our house. I think she wanted our eggs although the eggs in her house come from my hen house too. But I understood and only laughed at that bit of sweet ritual for her. Before she ate she wanted to go out to check for eggs and she grabbed her little basket where I keep it on a low shelf and although we only found one egg, she was happy. It was warm and as fresh as an egg can be and her brother Gibson mixed it up with another for her breakfast. Owen peeled her apple and cooked the eggs and I toasted and buttered sourdough for us all. Everything was proclaimed delicious. 

I had such a good time with those children today. They were sweet and funny and played pretend games and Lincoln Logs and didn't fuss or fight. When it came time for meals they set the table without being asked. I was SO impressed. One of the main things they played was "Business." This was inspired by the old fashioned telephone they love to play with and although I am not sure what all "Business" entailed, it seemed to involve some Lincoln Log products, and the rating of various stuffed animals. I gave Maggie a pad and a pen to take notes and she was an excellent employee, I think. 



They also took turns being boss. 

Maggie and I got out the paper dolls that May gave me years ago and I cut out some of the dresses and Maggie dressed the dolls. 


This did not hold her attention for too long but it was fun while it lasted. 

The best thing, I do believe, was the Go-Kart rides. 



I did not, unfortunately, get a picture of Gibson on his ride but he loved it too. That little thing goes fast! 

There was also sitting-on-the-swing-porch and reading a few books and talking about memories. I apologized to Owen for once trying to get him to take a nap by letting him cry it out in the Pac'n'Play. I doubt I let him cry for more than three minutes but it still breaks my heart to think of it. I was never any good at letting a child cry it out. But I remember him, probably about eighteen months old, standing up in the little bed, crying and calling out, "Mer! B?" 
I always said, "BRB! Be Right Back!" when I had to leave the room for a second and I think he was asking why I wasn't being right back in the nap-incident. 
I almost cried, telling him the story. He laughed. Of course. 

Maggie made ME laugh with some of the things she said today. At one point, she noticed that Boppy had made the bed and I thanked my husband for doing that- I usually do it. "Boppy- you are so sweet to Mer!" she said. "You are doing her chores!" 
She gave us both pictures of hearts that she drew with her name on them. She told us at lunch that her name really is Magnolia but she likes Maggie better because she can't spell Magnolia. 
I understand. She also likes the fact that both Maggie and Mary start with the same letter. She's a smart little child. 

Lunch was a big hit. Maggie wanted cheesy noodles because she always wants cheesy noodles at my house. The desire for ritual is deep in children. I also baked the pizza I made last night for them and cut up cucumbers. 


The pizza I made for them was plain cheese pizza whereas the one I made for Mr. Moon and me last night had ALL the stuff on it. Both were good in their own ways. And there's not a bite left of either. 

When it was almost time for Lily to get off work I asked them to clean up their toys and they did. And then we played matching game and Battle until Mama got here. She got about fifty hugs and kisses or maybe more. I got a few hugs and kisses myself before they left. 
It really was just the sweetest time with them. 

Mr. Moon finished the mulching in the garden and now the sprinkler's on. In a few days the miracle of those tiny seedlings breaking ground will happen. 

The chickens have been very quiet all day. Although I know that there is no way that they understand the changes that have taken place in their world lately, I am sure that they recognize that there have been changes. And my math was wrong! I am down to thirteen chickens! Which is good. Jessie reports that they now have four roosters in the freezer and one in a pot and that all went well and painlessly. Mr. Moon has gotten his smoker out and is just now putting the duck sausage in it. 

Liberace has just brought the girls in to forage under the feeder and around the camellia bed. I've hardly heard him crow at all today. I so admire the way he stands tall and watches so vigilantly as his sister-wives go about their evening feeding. They are talking amongst themselves in their soothing cluck language, rustling through the fallen pecan leaves. 

For just this moment, at least, everything seems peaceful and as it should be. Even my very old hen, Little Violet, seems more at ease now that the other roosters are gone. I am hoping that Fancy Pants is enjoying his own very small flock of ladies with a sense of pride. He finally has an outlet for his rooster yearning to protect and defend, to tid-bit and, yes, love. By which I mean have sex with, of course.

I am a contented wife, grandmother, and chicken tender tonight. 
Hell. Maurice even let the children scratch her head today without biting them. The fact that she didn't leave her cozy nest on a soft blanket on the couch when they came in the room is a sort of miracle and I'll take it. 

Love...Ms. Moon


Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Only Sunday Blues Today Was The Shade Of The Sky


 Although my bread did not get as high and mighty as I had hoped, it still had a lovely crumb, as Paul Hollywood says on The British Baking Show. Plenty of nice airy little holes and the crust is good and crusty but not inedible as so many "artisan" bakers seem to be believe it should be. The video I watched even mentioned the "char" at the bottom as adding extra flavor and I was like, "Uh, that's burned, baby. Char as in charcoal."
But you know, each to his or her own. 

The Big News today was that when I woke up, it was in the fifties which practically shouts "Goodwill cashmere!" around here. We're not really that delicate but it was sincerely a shock. I had to change clothes! I'd put on my regulation T-shirt and overall shorts and exchanged those for a long-sleeved T-shirt with the turquoise flannel dress I made last year (the year before?) over it. And I've been comfortable all day long. It's such a glorious relief when the heat breaks and the humidity goes down. And it's been as bright and blue as a Norwegian saint's eyes today. So that has all done a good job of hacking away at the Sunday curtain of gray despair that usually falls and I have felt good. Good enough that I didn't feel as if I had to do a damn thing I didn't want to. Funny how that works. We opened up the hallway doors to the outside and let the air and light flood the house and the air conditioner is not heard in the land. 
Or anywhere else.
I did have to deal with my airpods because the left one was not working and I'm sorry (not sorry) but if I can't listen to an audio book or a podcast while I'm going about my day, I'd just as soon go back to bed. I do realize that this isn't exactly healthy but it's how I live my life these days. So I struggled along with only one airpod in, listening to mono audio while I made us some poached eggs on sourdough and then I tried to figure out how to get my other pod working and I won't go into details but I will say that I ended up calling Apple again and also again, was instructed to do a system update which took half the day and then I used a little brush to clean out the charging case and something worked because now I'm back in stereo. 

I swept and tidied my front porch because now we can sit on it without dying of the heat and also because it needed sweeping and tidying very badly and it brought me happiness to make it pretty again.


Now isn't that nice? 

While I was piddling around doing not much of anything, Mr. Moon was back out in the garden. Talk about nice. It looks so beautiful! I took this picture of one his rows with his handprints in it where he patted down the kale and chard seeds. 


He's such an intentional planter. 
I think I'm going to have to get in there and plant more arugula in a few weeks because that is my favorite green. 

Now he's at the house of one of the guys he went hunting with and I think they are making duck sausage. 
Do not ask me. I do not know. But talk about artisanal! 

Jessie says that the hens woke up excited and ready to explore their new surroundings which in this case meant that they flew over a fence and explored their neighbors' yards. Fancy Pants seemed very happy but could not get over the fence and so he was alone again. 
Naturally. 
Poor little man. 
They're going to keep the chickens in the coop for a few days to get them used to where home is. Meanwhile, Vergil and Mr. Moon got the rooster sons of Darla shut up in the coop this morning and Jessie's coming out this evening to try and catch them to take home for what we call "processing." I am pretty happy and excited myself at the thought of only having fifteen chickens instead of twenty-one. Perhaps I can now finally name them all. I do not like having so many that I don't feel a connection with all of them. And now Liberace will be the one and only rooster which will be a huge relief to him and an even greater relief to the sister-wives. 
Plus- less poop. 

So it's all pretty good today. I'm making pizzas tonight. Tomorrow Lily is bringing the Hartmann Trio over for me to watch for a few hours because she's working and it's a teacher planning day or something. I'm looking forward to that and it will be nice to have pizza for them to eat. I'm also looking forward to sleeping with the windows open. It's not quite time to un-bag the duck yet but soon maybe.
Soon. 

Meanwhile, here we are and I am grateful. 

Love...Ms. Moon

 


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Got No Title


 I think we can safely say that if my bread is not rising now, it is not the fault of the starter. Would you LOOK at that? It not only doubled in size, it quadrupled. I think this is the most active starter I've ever had. 
Yay, Lloyd wild yeast!

Oh god. What a day. I mean, it's been fine. I just haven't felt that well and have let Mr. Moon do all the outside work, meaning that he's been planting the garden all day. I just stayed out of his way. We have differing opinions on garden planting plus, as I have pointed out before, his rows are straight and true and mine are crooked and drive him crazy. So I've been playing around with another loaf of sourdough, trying to incorporate the methods found on this video. I mean- what else do I have to do all day besides fold sourdough dough? And I have to tell you that my dough does not look or handle like her dough. And I think she's about twelve years old so that doesn't make me feel very secure within myself concerning my hard-won skills and knowledge. BUT, my dough is actually looking beautiful in its own way and making bubbles even if it doesn't look exactly like hers and I am learning. I freely and joyfully admit that I still want and need to learn. 

A beautiful thing that happened today is that a very old friend of ours, a man with whom we have shared some extremely emotional and important experiences in our lives, came by for a visit. Our relationship with him became very complex for many years and our lives diverged sharply. I had honestly thought that we might never reconnect but...today we did. And it was like seeing and hugging a brother. Someday perhaps I will write some of the story of how our paths joined but it is a deeply emotional and complex story. Suffice it to say, it was terrific to see him, catch up. He and Mr. Moon and I sat in the kitchen and talked and laughed. We did no reminiscing and that's okay. It was not the time for that. It may never be. Some things do not need to be discussed because they are so deeply engrained in all which makes up the now. 

******************************

And now it's almost 9:00 pm and since I wrote that we have had supper with Jessie and Vergil and the boys who came over to get two hens and Fancy Pants to take home, which they did. I made a nice pot of chili and a good pan of cornbread which we ate with butter and cane syrup. 




The boys took their baths here so that if they fall asleep on the way home, they are ready to be transported directly to bed. When their parents had finally corralled them and somehow, miraculously, managed to get them into their pajamas and their teeth brushed and then taken to the truck, Jessie and Mr. Moon and I went out in the moonlight and each of us picked up a chicken to put in the box Jessie had brought for that purpose. Fancy Pants is going to have his own flock of ladies and two of our hens will have a new and wonderful home in Tallahassee. As we went about our chicken transfer, we heard and then saw pretty dang professional  fireworks going off right to the east of us and I have no idea what that was about although I suppose it may be someone's birthday. 

I baked my loaf of bread and it is rather disappointing. I thought it would rise much higher than it did. I'll cut it tomorrow to see what it looks like inside. 

Sigh. 

It's been that sort of day. One unexpected and unplanned event after another, ending in fireworks. 

But Mr. Moon got everything planted except for the kale and rainbow chard which is not exactly surprising as those two are not his favorites. But they will get planted and I am so damn glad to know that seeds are in the ground and have been watered in. 

It is so weird and so odd to think that three weeks ago, right now, I was being transported to the hospital to get surgery. Has anything been normal since that pain in my belly started? 
Is anything ever normal and if so, what does that mean?

I do not know. 
I don't know shit. 

As always...

Love...Ms. Moon


Friday, October 15, 2021

I Am Good Tired


Since I knew I was going to take a very short walk this morning, I decided to do a little loop light here in the burgeoning center of Lloyd. 
That's a joke. There is nothing burgeoning in Lloyd. There is also no true center in Lloyd because honestly, there is no true Lloyd. I mean, we can be found on a map but as I have said before, in the entire county of Jefferson, here in North Florida, there is only one real town and that is Monticello which lies somewhat northeast of here a few miles. This is what Jefferson County looks like. 


Geographically, it is a large county, its borders reaching up to Georgia and down to the Gulf of Mexico. 
As you can see, however, it is not a densely populated county. I mean- I've lived here forever and I'm not even exactly sure where Waukeenah is and quite frankly I don't know that I've ever even heard of Cody before. We have lots of farms and pasture land and wildlife areas. We have rivers and forests, lakes, swamp, and the cut-up remains of old plantations and the descendants of people who lived and worked on those plantations. There are a few incredibly wealthy people who live in Jefferson County and there are many, many people who live below the poverty line. 
Our tax base is for shit and the schools are so bad that young families who would naturally be attracted to the area to live in while working in Tallahassee, do not move here. 
That's just the facts. 
Amazon is building a huge, huge distribution center right off of I-10 in East Tallahassee and I wonder if that will affect our situation here in Lloyd. I do not know. 

Anyway, there's your little lesson about Jefferson County, Florida today. For old retired people who aren't raising children and who feel comfortable in a rambly place with a very mixed population with an extremely rural feel and who love giant live oaks, it's a great place to live. And when I say "mixed" I do not just mean by race or income, but also by political, artistic, educational, religious, and philosophical differences too. Some of the most raging liberals I've ever met live here and of course my next-door neighbors still have their Trump signs up. 

Somehow we all seem to be able to fit in and mostly the attitude I find is "I'll mind my business and you mind yours."
And yet, the people are friendly for the most part, polite when we meet up at the post office which is the only place to meet up in Lloyd except for the dump depot. 

So I took my little stroll around this part of the county today, 



ending up at said Post Office and collecting my mail and coming home. After I'd cooled down a bit and done some laundry (sheet day!) I did what I said I'd do and got that garden almost 100% weed-free. It is now ready for planting and mulching. 


I left the still-bountiful pepper plants along with the volunteer sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. Also, a few volunteer zinnia plants which popped up from reseeding that I can't bear to pull. 

I had to work in two different time shifts today as it got up to almost 90 degrees. It hasn't rained in quite awhile and the dirt was as hot as asphalt in the sun. But. I did it. And it feels very, very good to have it done. It is now ready for planting and mulching and watering and watching the magic begin anew. This year I vow to thin my seedlings with more abandon and less personification or concern about the possible sentience of microscopic kale and carrots. 
We shall see how this goes. 

So. It is Friday. I have done some things and gotten some things accomplished. I am marinating a venison backstrap. I watched an actual cooking video today demonstrating one chef's method of making a loaf of sourdough bread as my bread has not risen worth shit lately. Thinking it was my starter, I rejuvenated it this week but I don't think it needed it. I am just not making my dough properly. The video I watched recommends a very labor-intensive method of having to tend to the dough every half hour or so for hours and hours and that just doesn't seem practical to me. I may, however, try it. One must know the rules in order to break them, as it were. Perhaps I have gotten way too laissez faire in my bread making out of a sense of an egoistic belief that I know what I am doing so shut up your bad self with your fancy techniques
Again- we shall see. 

Martinis have been made and are being sipped. Clean sheets are on the bed. Chickens are out by the hen house, eating their last tasty dirt treats before roosting. Oh wait! They heard Mr. Moon opening the bag of wild bird seed and are now rushing the feeder. They love routine but do not hesitate to take advantage of an opportunity. 
I wish I could say that about myself. 

Happy Friday, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Things That Are Good For The Body And The Soul


In my rather gentle attempt to feel better, I went for a walk today. As motivation, I thought about the lovely wildflowers I've seen blooming on the side of the road. Also, I am finally listening to a decent book which always helps. I decided a few days ago that life was too short to listen to crappy books and sent the Amanda Quick one back to the library and borrowed another one- a tome that I don't even remember the name of, some sort of historical novel involving a sixteenth-century  girl in London who was a scribe for a blind rabbi and after I'd listened to a few hours of that, I sent it back too. 
I just did not really feel any connection or sympathy with any of the characters. 

The one I'm listening to now is a very dear novel, "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine," a debut novel by a woman named Gail Honeyman. Hard to believe it's the author's first book. From the very beginning I had that lovely feeling of being in good hands. 

So I took off down the road to where I knew the wildflowers were and I was not disappointed in them. 


The yellow and purple flowers bloom profusely this time of year, a sign for sure of coming fall. 
I stopped to talk to Pinot who was sitting on the front porch of the man who ambulates in his motorized wheelchair. 
"How are you?" I asked Pinot.
"I'm tired," he said. 
I can so relate. 

I had planned my day so that when I got back from my walk, cooled off and had a shower, I would go do a little bit of grocery-store foraging and then shell the peas I picked yesterday. And that plan was indeed executed. 


They are simmering away on the stove with onions and will be part of tonight's supper, the last batch of fresh (not frozen) garden field peas for the year. I have noticed the chickens pecking over the vines that I pulled and put on the burn pile two days ago. There were plenty of over- and under-mature peas for them to eat and I had hope they would find and enjoy them and so they have. 

I'm tired but feeling okay. Tomorrow I plan to do a very short walk and then get back in the garden. I have things I absolutely have to get in the ground. They are just sitting here, radiating their guilt aura at me along with all of my unread copies of The New Yorker and other various magazine. But of course, the seeds and plants take precedence.



And Lord, do I want some baby salad greens. 

That's my Thursday. 

Love...Ms. Moon





Wednesday, October 13, 2021

I Didn't Die Trying


Well, sorry to have to say this but my advice about buttermilk-brined chicken is to save your buttermilk to make biscuits with. It was okay but it didn't rock my world. Sometimes the simplest things- like a roast chicken- should just be what they are in their simplest forms. 
Take a chicken. Salt it. Put it in an iron skillet or other baking dish. Put it in a 425 degree oven and cook it until it's done. 
You can do a lot of other fancy things to it but it's hard to improve on that. 

I have not been feeling that well. I don't know what's wrong with me. I just haven't had any energy and part of me wonders if it's because I've just let myself stagnate. I haven't been taking my walks or really working outside, mostly because of the heat but then there was the appendectomy and the less I do, the less I want to do. 
Big surprise there, eh?

So today I was determined to get outside and get some shit done. And I did. I picked all those peas and peppers you see and I weeded and pulled all the pea plants. I cleaned out maybe a quarter to a third of the garden but the rest of it isn't going to be that difficult. It's still hot and is going to be hotter the next two days but by Sunday it's supposed to cool down some. 

I did laundry and hung it on the line, folded it when it was dry and brought it in and put it away. 

I also swept and mopped the kitchen, pantry, and a bathroom which requires moving chairs and bins and baskets and so forth into the hallway so I can get underneath things. 

And now I can hardly walk. 
That was NOT that much work and don't try to convince me it was. I do, however, feel as if I've accomplished something for the first time in quite awhile. I have got to get moving more, and more regularly, too. 

Mr. Moon went to town again to work on a contract so he's been gone most of the day. I hope that when he gets home he'll recognize the smell of Fabuloso and vinegar and realize that I haven't been sitting on my fat ass ALL day long. It was so much easier when he was gone to simply say, "Well, I'm on vacation too and I don't give a damn about the cleanliness of the kitchen floor." And it's not that he's ever ONCE in all of our years suggested that perhaps I should mop a floor, there's a part of me (the part marinated in guilt and shame my entire childhood) that remembers he grew up in a house with a mother who did very much care about the cleanliness of her house, along with two older sisters whose every Saturday was spent in ensuring that the house was indeed very, very clean. 

Ah well. Obviously he's learned to accept the fact that his wife will always cook him good meals, make sure his clothes are cleaned and sometimes his shirts are ironed, and that the house is, well, at least tidy to a degree even if you wouldn't dare to eat off my floors.
Which leads me to ask- why would anyone want to eat off their floors? 

Okay. Here's a picture of a Georgia Thumper, aka Eastern Lubber Grasshopper.


See the knife there in the background? I know I've posted pictures of these insects before but here's another just in case you missed those. These motherfuckers will tear UP a garden and a yard. They love ornamental foliage and your collard greens too. They are, as we say around here, a damn mess. The most zen, kind, loving woman I know will smash one of those monsters in a heartbeat when she finds them on her beloved plants. When I saw this one though, I just didn't have the energy or the heart to smush him. I should have though. 
I remember the first time I saw one as a child and it scared the daylights out of me. All these years later they still sort of shock me with their size and alien-warrior armor. 

I hope I can get out of bed in the morning. There is plenty more to do around here.

Love...Ms. Moon





Tuesday, October 12, 2021

It's Good To Have Him Home


I'm not quite sure who was happier to see Mr. Moon pull up in the yard- me or Maurice. 
Okay. I probably was. But Maurice was happy too. She would not leave the room he was in and as soon as he sat down, she jumped up on his lap and told him all about the things she'd done while he'd been away. It was actually quite charming and sweet. She only bit him a little bit. She was carried away with love, I'm sure.

He and I caught up with lots of hugs and no biting. He was exhausted but also somewhat exhilarated by the long, long two days of driving after his days of tromping around the woods in Canada. I made him a corn chowder with sourdough bread for his supper and I think he was very happy. Our lights were out by eleven and he slept a good, long sleep. I woke up several times, just to make sure he was there, right beside me, and he was. 

This morning he started to unpack and get to the things he needed to do around here but when he heard that I was meeting Lily and Jessie and August and Levon for lunch he changed his plan and decided to do some of the chores he needed to do in town after eating with us. The boys and the mamas were happy to see Boppy and we ate outside at a barbecue place that was very good. And then the women and the little boys went to a local plant nursery where we walked around, both boys pulling carts even though the only things bought were two tiny plants and a bag of fertilizer. I made the boys pose by the dinosaur. 

August is going back to school tomorrow which will be like another first day, I think. And Levon will be going to his school tomorrow too. What WILL Jessie find to do in that three hours that she will be child-free? I have a feeling she'll figure it out. 

There's a greenhouse at this nursery which has the most beautiful indoor plants which make us all crazy with lust. There's also a little pond with koi in it and a bridge over it. Children, if they ask nicely, are given a little fish food to throw to the gorgeous fishes. 



Such a pretty place. 

And then I came home and finally cleaned the hen house and pulled the zinnias which is always a bit heartbreaking but it must be done, and a few weeds too. 

And that was my day. I'm making a buttermilk-brined roast chicken tonight, a recipe from the NYT's adapted from Samin Nosrat's series, "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat." I hear it was inspired by her observing how southern ladies soak their chicken in buttermilk overnight before frying it. I hope it's good.

May all be well with you and yours.

Love...Ms. Moon