Monday, June 30, 2008

Just Wondering

As I have said before, I have written a novel. I've written lots of parts of other novels, but one which is complete and for which I found an agent who helped me edit it but she never sold it. The book is set in Apalachicola, Florida, and is about a waitress named Rose.

I had originally titled the book The Yearning Heart of Apalachicola Rose, but the agent advised me that that sounded too Romance Novelish, so she wanted me to change it to just plain old Apalachicola Rose so I'm not really sure what the title is.

I am thinking (seriously, just thinking) about putting it up in the form of a blog. Not this blog. It would be another. And it would possibly be serialized. A chapter at a time or so. Maybe just a certain number of pages a week.

I'm just tossing ideas around.

And I'd like to see if I could actually make a teeny bit of money in the process. Now, I'm not sure how that would work. Quite possibly, I'd just go with ads on the site. Yes, shameful, but hellfire, I spent years writing that novel and years rewriting it and why not?
So what I'm asking here is, does this sound crazy? Would anyone be interested in it?
Should I post a few pages, see what sort of feedback I get?
Any suggestions?

And who knows? I might get back into this book and just re-start the damn, excruciating process of trying to find a different agent.

I don't know what I'm doing, obviously, but right now I'm just throwing ideas in the air and seeing where they land.

And to give credit where credit is due, please click here to go to the web site of Richard Bickel who took that beautiful photograph.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Power Outage

It's eleven thirty in the morning and the afternoon storm is rolling in ahead of schedule. The sky is growing dark and the thunder is booming to the southwest. The breeze has gotten ahold of the leaves, fluttering them like a man thumbing the edge of a stack of thin paper.

The birds are quiet and here it comes, as I write this, the rain, soft velvet sound of it as it falls.

The cake is out of the oven, the birthday breakfast long made, eaten, and those dishes washed. There were bacon and biscuits and eggs and sliced tomatoes. We ate outside where now the tablecloth is getting soaked.

Here comes the rain, hard, no more velvet, and my big dog, Pearl, is trying to crawl up into my lap. She's always hated storms. I put my hand on her back and she is shaking like the leaves outside on the wisteria. The weather moves us all, one way or another.

Fifteen minutes later and the storm has almost passed, taking our electricity with it. Shit. I have a party to make, bread to mix up in the Kitchen Aid, okra to cut and fry, green tomatoes to do the same, an Afghani eggplant dish from last night to heat up, the bread to bake.

Here in Lloyd, our electricity goes out with great regularity. Sometimes it comes back on in an hour or so, sometimes it takes much longer. So many long lines of power, so many trees with branches ready to fall, ready to brush and interrupt our service. Jefferson County is big- the only county in the state that stretches from Georgia to the Gulf, and most of that big empty space, just trees and a few arteries of roads, paved to dirt, from heart to distant farm yard.

Another bolt of lightening, another deep powerful peal of thunder. The kind you feel in your chest. Pearl looks around, her old white eyebrows raised in worry and wonder.

I go plug in the old fashioned, non-electric phone that works miraculously, even without power. I call Progress Energy, who controls our power in this neck of the woods. I enter my phone number and of course, the first thing the human asks me for when she comes on the line is that same number.

Yes, the outage has been reported. Yes, they are working on it. A repair time is estimated for 2:30. The party is supposed to begin at three. Thank-you for using Progress Energy.

It's not her fault; I am resigned, not angry. Who could I be angry at? It is an act of God.
Which God, I am not sure.
Thor, perhaps.

Kurt Vonnegut would say, "And so it goes."
Annie Hall would say, "La-di-dah."

I think that sums it up.

La-di-dah, so it goes.
Life goes on.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Birthday Musings

Well, tomorrow's the man's birthday and so far I have prepared for this event by doing...squat.
Okay. That's not entirely true. I did order him some shirts and a pair of flip-flops off the internet but there's not a chance in hell they'll arrive before tomorrow. I have to get all his clothes off the internet because he's too tall for regular sizes or, in the case of his feet, too big.
And you know what they say about big feet? Oh. You don't? Well, here it is:
Big feet, big....flip-flops.
They aren't kidding either.
His flip-flops are huge. You could take the rubber from one of his flip-flops, melt it down and use that rubber to make a tire for a Yugo. Or maybe two tires.
So anyway, I guess I have to go to town here in a while and find something in a store that I can give to him as a birthday present which is extremely stressful for me to contemplate. First off, because I probably won't find him a present in Publix which means I'll have to go to some other store, which is not part of my comfort zone, and secondly, because I don't have the slightest idea what this would be, this present.
I gave him like THREE things for Father's Day which was only two weeks ago and that about does it for my ability to buy presents for this man.
Right now he's out in the garage doing something with his car. Before breakfast he'd already broken his floor jack and stabbed himself in the hand with a sharp tool of some sort so he's having a good day. Last night he asked me how many push-ups I can do because he's going to need me to do some sort of car-holding-up while he's putting an exhaust system in today and so I'm not really looking forward to that. I mean, really. I can only do about four push-ups. How long could I possibly hold up an entire CAR?
I don't really think he needs me to hold up the car, although since he's broken the floor jack, maybe he does. I'll have to get some clarity on this situation but I'm sort of afraid to ask.
I know I need to go get the ingredients for a German Chocolate cake which is what he wants this year. The first year we were together on his birthday I made him a German Chocolate cake and I like that cake a lot and I don't mind making it. One year I was going to make him one but the dog ate the bar of German Chocolate before I got to the task and I freaked out because isn't chocolate supposed to be lethal to dogs?
Well, we all wish.
I bought another bar of chocolate and made the cake and then the dog got to THAT and ate half of it and yet, she still didn't die.
Once a friend of mine's dog ate a whole bunch of chocolate chip cookies and she, in a panic, called their vet and asked what she should do.
"Pour him a nice cold glass of milk," was the vet's professional suggestion.
So there. Once my small dogs got into some dark-chocolate covered espresso beans and I will say that that combination will keep your dogs up all night long and the phrase bouncing off the walls is not just metaphorical.
But I am procrastinating here because I don't want to go to the store(s) OR hold up a car with my very strong arms but as I have said before, I love this man and I am more than happy and grateful to celebrate his birthday with him again. I have celebrated his birthday with him for twenty-five years now and I can't even believe that as I type it but yes, it's true.
And I remember when we met and we were both twenty-nine, how old and worn out I felt, having two children already and having been married and divorced and was halfway through nursing school. I think now I was more exhausted than old and not even started in the process of being worn-out.
Today I definitely feel old and worn-out but I am hoping that in another twenty-five years I'll look back at this year and think, "Jeez. I was a spring chicken, full of vim, vigor and really good-looks," and I'll be making this man a cake of some sort.
I still won't know what to get him for his birthday but maybe his car will be restored by then and we'll take a drive, our antique gasoline powered engined car a relic that we'll have to buy gasoline for on e-bay because all of our cars will be powered with grits at that point. Or water or fingernail peelings or German Chocolate cake crumbs.
We'll be wearing white scarfs and the top will be down and I'll sing him happy birthday in my wavery old-woman voice as we cruise over the highways in our powerful car and hopefully, if it breaks down, he'll have a jack that works and I won't have to hold it up for him because I'll probably only be able to do two push-ups at that point but if he asks me to I'll try.
Because I love him.
From the top of his head to the bottom of his huge feet, I love that man.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Paper Bag Full Of Assumptions

It's Friday and I'm still alive. It's been a strange week for me, being half-ill, half not. I feel as if I've had "Flu-Lite" which is far better than Flu For Real, but it's still been disconcerting and I don't know how to be sick.

I still don't feel quite great, but did take a walk this morning, a little slower than usual (but I was still passing young, strong men and that is the truth) and I saw something that might have been a fox, running through tall grass, or might have been a cardinal, flying straight through, and isn't that the way? We think our eyes are so honest and so truthful and maybe they are but the trouble begins when the brain kicks in to interpret what it is the eyes are reporting and I have learned in my years never to trust my eyes completely. The other night at dusk, I saw what I thought was a chicken in my back yard, shuffling around on the ground, until suddenly it took off with great whooshing wings to fly to the top of the Chinaberry tree and I realized it was an owl, which is a completely different sort of fowl indeed.

But my eyes saw large-bird-on-ground and my brain made the most reasonable assumption, which was that I was looking at a chicken and there you have it.

We should not make assumptions.

My daughter assumed this morning that when she went into the bathroom at 5:45 a.m. to get ready for work that she would be alone in there but she was wrong. There was a baby bat and she freaked out, as would I, and her daddy had to get it out. The bat assumed that when he fell out of the chimney he would know where he was and what he was doing but he was wrong about that, too.

I am sighing, assuming that since there was one lost baby bat in the house, I will soon be finding more. I hope I am wrong.

When I started this blog, I assumed that no one would read it. This was based on the fact that no one seemed to be interested in most of the stuff I wrote and sent out for possible publication but I was wrong. Some people have read it. My (totally accurate, I assume) hit counter turned over to the 10,000 mark yesterday and I am amazed, even if half those hits came from this computer.

Of course the hottest new blogger in the world (I assume), Black Hockey Jesus, has gotten ten thousand hits in his first thirty days- he told us! so my pitiful ten thousand in a year is pretty pathetic, but you know what? I don't care. Ten thousand is ten thousand whether it takes you fifteen minutes (Dooce, I'm sure), or a month, or a year. Or ten years! Whatever!

I'm more than blown away.

I also assumed, when I started blogging, that I'd run out of things to talk about, which has proved to be untrue as well. It would seem that I have more things to say than I could possibly have imagined. Of course, most of them are trite or hardly worth saying and definitely not really worth reading, but the joy I get in saying them is worth it all to me.

Or maybe it's just an addiction and I just think it's a joy, but that's okay too.
It's keeping me out of the pool halls and the local psyche ward and for that I am grateful.

My daughter, Ms. Maybelle, has posted her first blog and I do not assume, I KNOW, that she is going to swiftly garner a large reading audience because this girl is good. She is springing forth, fully formed, as a writer because in all probability she has written more words in her life than I have because she has been journaling constantly and faithfully since she was a tiny girl, her pencil fisted in her hand, filling up one notebook after another (where do you KEEP all those journals, May?) with her words. Her blog site is called Roll Up The Rugs and I advise you to go there and dance on the bare floor with her. You won't regret it.

Of course my son passed me the crack pipe when he got me started in blogging. We are writers, all of us, in that we are compelled to write and then compelled to share it.

The picture above is of a summer plox blooming in my office yard. It is the daughter of a seedling I brought with me from my old yard and that was given to me by my then neighbor. Plants like this phlox are so adaptive and so prolific that they beg to be passed around and so it is with writers and their words which is why we are all adapting to this blog thing so beautifully. We're like the phlox on good days, or perhaps on bad days like the armadillos that got loose from their cages in the traveling circus and are now to be found on every road in the south, flattened and oozing or perhaps lying with all four little paws stretching straight up into the sky.

And on the good phlox days I can blog so prettily and tie everything up in pretty paper and finish it off with a bow but on the bad armadillo days I just hand you a paper bag full of stuff and say here, go through this, if there's anything you can use, take it, throw the rest out.

And that's me today with paper bag in hand, feeling guilty because I came to the party without wrapping my present but here's my crumpled up bag. I think Ms. Maybelle's blog might fit you and I'm pretty sure Downtown Guy has something to say that you can use.
Throw the rest out.

And try not to step on the armadillo. Do not assume he is dead. He may be only seriously napping.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Olden Times

I was reading the obits this morning, which is something I sometimes do. Not to see if anyone I know has died so much as to just acknowledge people's lives and passing and this morning I noticed that a woman had died whom I did not know, but I had known her father and reading her obituary brought back memories of him.
His name was McKinley Smith, Sr., although we all knew him as Smitty.
Smitty was a older black gentlemen who had a jook joint out in what used to be the boonies but which is now a high-dollar area of North Leon County, out on Bannerman Road. This was in the early 1970's and I'm not sure how Smitty and the local hippies formed an alliance but they did. One of the things about "those days" that I still don't quite understand is how all of a sudden (it seemed to me, anyway) black folks and white folks were interacting in ways that had previously been unheard of and by God, I'm claiming some of that action to be due to the hippies and our hippie ways. If there was anything hippies stood for besides good music and the right to go barefoot and smoke dope, it was that all the old societal rules should be kicked to the curb until further notice. And this included any bullshit about separation of the races. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that we were the first generation of kids who'd gone to integrated schools. Maybe it had something to do with all those rock bands playing old blues tunes and bringing the blues masters to the public eye. B.B. King, in his amazing autobiography which should be required reading in American high schools, gave credit to the hippies for making his career explode. Which goes back to kicking all the rules to the curb. Music was being made that had its roots everywhere and anywhere and there was an audience for it. Country, blues, folk, opera, soul- all these genres and more were mined and refined into newly minted music and along with all of that, I think people started paying attention and realizing that there was a lot of respect due where none had been given before and that differences were more interesting than something to fear.
Or something like that. I might be talking through my hat.
Anyway, Smitty had that jook joint out on Bannerman and he gladly let the local musicians make his club their home. There was even a band formed called Smitty's Band and I truly wish I could remember who all made it up.
The club itself was mostly one big room built on to a smaller section where Smitty himself lived and there was a kitchen in the back. There was a bar and there was a stage and there were tables. There was also a big wooden dance floor where hippies and hippie kids and black folks would dance but my favorite dancer was Smitty himself who would get his thin old bones in his neat buttoned-up shirt and his khaki pants out on the floor and do a sort of closed-eye shuffle that somehow hypnotized me. He loved the music. I don't know if he loved the hippies, but he tolerated us and we knew that if people were smoking dope in the parking lot, no one was going to call the cops.
The people who were developing Killearn at one point offered Smitty a million dollars to sell them his land. Now back in the seventies, a million dollars was an awful lot of money but he refused their offer.
"Where would I feed my pigs?" I distinctly remember him saying.
Nah. Smitty had everything he wanted. He had acres of beautiful land where his pigs could graze (and where several hippie weddings were performed) and he had his small, comfortable living quarters and he had his own club where bands would play music so he could dance. He always seemed to have a "niece" from up north living with him, too, and he seemed like a reasonably happy man to me.
My ex-husband and I used to drive out to see Smitty on Sunday's sometime. We'd buy a beer and sit and talk to him. Sometimes he'd get a watermelon out of the cooler and cut it up and we'd all sit around and eat that sweet cold fruit. I remember once we went out when our oldest was a little over a year old and he told us not to wait too long to have another. I forget what his reasoning was, but we must have listened to him because our next baby came along before the oldest was two.
I don't know if Smitty was wise or if he was just someone we thought was wise because he was old and black and had turned down an offer for a million dollars in order to maintain a relatively simple lifestyle that suited him but we respected him and he didn't treat hippies like they were second-class citizens, but just real people, like him, and it felt like we had a lot in common, despite all the glaring differences between us.
I remember when Smitty died. I went to his funeral, as many other hippies did. It was my first country funeral in a black church and there were indeed electric guitars and a lot of ladies in hats fanning themselves. I cried and a young man in a suit standing next to me handed me a starched white handkerchief and I'll never forget that.
They buried Smitty in the front yard of his club and the last time I was out that way, I stopped. The place had turned into some sort of restaurant and there was a little fence around Smitty's grave but no marker that I could see and that made me sad.
Thinking about a lot of things from those old days make me sad. We had such hope that things would change. Things like transcending differences between people based on race and age and upbringing and culture. Things like Smitty's club.
Maybe we're about to get our first black president and the ways of this world will take another halting jolt forward. God, I hope so. I wish Smitty were still around to see this possibility. I think he'd be proud.
I think he would have been proud of his daughter, too. She was too young to die- only 57- but I see by her obit that she'd done more than well by herself. She got a Master's Degree from FSU and was the budget director for the Department of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
My ex husband and I actually lived on Bannerman road for one long, hot summer before we ever had any children and Smitty's sister had a little jook of her own, two doors down from the house we rented and we used to go in there for fried chicken sandwiches. She was a sweet woman and I used to visit her now and then but I haven't for a long, long time. Still, the last time I went, it had been twenty years since I'd lived there and she knew who I was. She recognized me and hugged me hard. Other people in the club recognized me too. "You that white girl, used to be married to Jerry," they said.
Yep. That's me.
I'm that white girl, used to be married to Jerry. Used to dance at Smitty's Club. Used to think things were changing.
Maybe I still do. Not the way I used to when it seemed like all kinds of changes were happening overnight. Wars ending, presidents getting kicked out of office. Stuff like that.
Stuff that ought to be happening now, but isn't.
Anyway, I just wanted to say all of that. Pay a little tribute to people who have gone on, and to hippie ways and hippie hope and places like Smitty's club where people came together to make music and dance and laugh, despite differences.
Yeah. I just wanted to say that.
I wish I had a picture of Smitty or even his club to put here, but I don't. So this post is going pictureless. Just close your eyes and imagine a hot, small, smoky club, lit only by Christmas lights and neon beer signs, a thin old black man holding a beer, dancing with his eyes closed, little kids and their parents dancing around him, all sorts of folks sitting together at tables, drinking a little beer, getting a little buzz, happy to be alive in such good, colorful, musical, hopeful times while outside the crickets are buzzing and the moon is rising over fields where pigs are grazing, everyone happy.
Try to imagine that.
If you want to. If you can.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Plan To Keep The Tourist Industry At Bay

My beloved local NPR station has recently taken to including the "heat index" in its daily weather prognostications.
I wish they'd stop that.
We here in muggy, hot north Florida KNOW what 97 degrees with 99% humidity feels like. Please don't tell us that with the heat index it will feel like 108.
My prediction:
Keep this up and we'll all just kill ourselves.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And Speaking of Intelligence....

I just can't let the passing of George Carlin go unremarked.

In my idea of heaven, he and St. Richard Pryor are sitting at the right hand of god and god is cracking UP! He is laughing so hard his holy side is splitting. The angels are getting concerned because they haven't seen him laugh this hard since George W. Bush got elected as president. Well, the first time. By the second, god was only silently weeping.

But anyway, god is laughing now.

I only hope that somewhere an incredibly smart baby is being born who will grow up to be as irreverent, intelligent, courageous and fucking funny as these two men were because honey, this old world needs people like that.


How many times have I watched St. Carlin on film being completely blown away? Not only by his humor but by his incredibly unbelievable intelligence?

Too many to count.

I don't care if he was stoned or drugged up or sick or old- that man never lost it. He had the mind of a steel trap and the heart of a lion. He was a master word-smith and he used words like smart bombs. He dropped them and they did their work. They made us think, they made us laugh, they made us look at ourselves. He wasn't afraid to take on patriotism, the FCC, the pope or the president. He opened the doors and windows of the houses where all the sacred cows live and he said, "Come on in! Does this look as absurd to you as it does to me?"

And hell yes, it did.

In his honor, please let me say this:

Fuck, George! You scared the piss out of a lot of people but you were funny as shit when you did it. You weren't afraid to call a cunt a cunt or a cocksucker a cocksucker and you never, not once in your motherfucking life stopped believing that it was your job to point out all the stupid cocksucking, motherfucking shit that we crazy humans believe and do and continue to believe and do, no matter how obvious it is that it's all a big pile of shit.

You rocked, George. You were human and you made mistakes but you weren't afraid to tell us about them and you weren't afraid to show your humanity and thus allow us to honor our own. You inspired us all and you changed the world with your mind and that's fucking more than most of us ever will do.

And oh yes, you could charm the tits off us.

Love...Ms. Moon

P.S. Please give Richard our love if you and he have somehow managed to get tossed onto the same roof.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And Some Designs Are More Intelligent Than Others

I seem to be thinking about religion a lot lately and I know I write about it a lot, especially in the sense of I don't believe it, any of it but I do know that a lot of really fine people do, like Jimmy Carter or the lady who works in the post office here who is Jehovah's Witness. The Witnesses do not believe in celebrating Easter or Christmas but Miss M. will call you on Christmas Eve if a package has come in that she knows you've been hoping would arrive before Christmas because she's just sweet that way.

She came to my house once with two beautiful grandchildren to witness, and because she's Miss M. and so sweet and I know her, I couldn't blow her off the way I usually do these people but I said, "You know, M., I've got my own very strong feelings about religion and spirituality and maybe you should spend time with someone else who might be more open to your message," and she said, "Oh Mary. I love that about you. That you're so honest."

And you know what? I think she meant that. I don't think she was being snarky or sarcastic or anything but truthful and I love her too. I know her heart and it is good.

She doesn't need me to bless it.

And that's what I wonder about- why do we need religion?

This brings up Anne Lamott, an author I really do love. Not her fiction so much, but her essays. I just finished reading her book entitled Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith and I loved it, even though she's sort of eat up with the Jesus thing. She truly admits that her faith in Jesus is so simple that the five and six-year olds she teaches in Sunday School get everything she believes about Jesus. The first thing I read by her was her book Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year which was so honest and so heartbreakingly true for anyone who's ever had a child that I just fell in love with her. She's a recovering alcoholic who admits to every sort of bad behavior and bad thoughts and bad everything but who is constantly trying to do better with the help of god and the person she occasionally calls "Uncle Jesus" which sort of cracks me up and sort of makes me want to hurl something at her.

But how can I hate anyone who writes things like, "I am the piece of shit the world revolves around" or who admits to having had abortions and who believes passionately that every woman has the right to choose and who not only believes in euthanasia but who actually helped a dying friend choose the time and manner of his own death? And then wrote about it?

I mean really.

This is not the sort of Jesus Freak I've known and if she believes that Jesus is helping her (and she does!) every step of the way, who am I to try and pull that rug out from beneath her?

Not my job.

But it reminds me of a group I used to go to of sexual abuse survivors and so many of the women gave god the glory for their ability to heal and go on with their lives, making sure that the chain of abuse had been broken in their families and I always wanted to shout at them, "Give yourself the credit! You're the one who did it! You're the one doing it! Not god. And by the way, where was god when you were a little child being abused?"

But again, I never did.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wish with all my heart I had some sort of belief for when times get hard. I worry too much and I get anxious and I have problems and so do people I love. I wish I had a faith, not in what Anne Lamott calls God's Magic Wand (which she doesn't think he has) but in the sort of rightness of it all that she does believe in. That every bump in the road, every mistake we make, every wrong turn we take, every grief and hardship and sorrow will somehow lead us to a place of light if we just let go and trust in god.

As I've said before, I honestly think there's a gene that determines faith, whether in god, country, or even a team. And I don't have it.

What I do have is a belief that really, we all should try and help each other out as much as possible. That we should try and do the right thing because, well, I have no idea why. Probably because evolution has made me that way. Just as it has probably made it so that many people do have the gene to band together for many reasons because many are more powerful than an individual and all sorts of things can be accomplished if a lot of people come together for one purpose, whether it's to grow food or hunt or defend a territory or a gene pool.

That's what makes sense to me.

And to those people, like Anne Lamott, who protest that they alone without the grace of Jesus or Mohammad or Yahweh or whatever god it is they believe in, could never, ever have found the strength to pull themselves up and out of hate or addiction or affliction or whatever, I say, How do you know? How do you know it hasn't been you and your very own personal grace and strength and light all along? Because the fact of the matter is, no matter who you believe is running the show, you're the one up there saying the lines, you're the one up there doing the work. Not god. Not Jesus. You. You're the one who is acting in grace, making the choice to love and forgive and be strong. You.

Why is it so hard to take the credit for all the good you do when it's so easy to take the blame for all the bad?

I don't know. I have no answers and I'm not trying to be sarcastic or witty or a smart ass today. I'm being honestly bewildered.

I think I can be as amazed at the glories around me as any person of any faith and I don't need to praise a god to be so. On the other hand, I don't have to come up with excuses for that same god when things aren't so glorious, which is some small comfort, I guess.
I don't have to go to the Bible and pick out the parts I think are good and dismiss the parts I don't. I don't have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what god or Jesus REALLY meant when they said or did such-and-such.

And now I think I will go partake of the glory of the blackberries. And I will wonder why there are thorns and then I'll remember it's the way the plant has evolved to protect it from being picked by animals like me when birds, who are not bothered by the thorns, will spread its seeds so much farther and more efficiently.

Or at least that's my theory.

And I think it's as good as any and if you believe that god made those thorns on blackberries for us to prove our worthiness to eat them or something in that vein, well, that's not going to detract at all from the pleasure I get in eating the ones I've picked, all the while cursing the thorns but respecting the plant and the process of evolution, meanwhile slapping mosquitoes which, I have to say, are proof enough in my book that there is no such thing as intelligent design, but which are tasty indeed to the birds.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yes I Can Can (But I Choose Not To. Today, Anyway)

Well, here is Sunday, late afternoon and we've had a rain shower and Mr. Moon and the youngest child are off to the movies and I'm still a bit under the weather, although as you can see from the picture above I have been eating my fair share of tomatoes.
That was an eggplant and squash casserole with tomatoes on top. I made it last night because the garden will not stop making eggplant and squash. Or tomatoes, actually.
That's the thing about a garden. It's all or nothing.
All winter long you yearn for a real tomato, one just picked and still warm from the sun which has nurtured it into red tomato goodness and then finally it's spring and you plant your tomatoes and you water them and you give them yummy meals of chicken shit to encourage their growth and then at long last, the baby green tomatoes appear and your heart bursts with joy and you protect your baby tomatoes as they grow and finally! one is ready to pick and you pick it, you do! and it's so good and it's a celebration and a joy, that first tomato, dripping with its sweet, salty juices and life is so good.
And then, there are more tomatoes and you are even more joyful! Tomatoes! You will feast on tomatoes! You will eat them on sandwiches and in salads and you will eat them standing over the sink or in fresh tomato pasta or cut up on casseroles and no matter what you do, you cannot keep up with the tomatoes and before you know it, you are drowning in tomatoes and there is nowhere in the kitchen to put down a cutting board because every surface is drowning in ripe, red goodness.
And still, the garden calls- more tomatoes! ready for the picking! Bring your basket, your biggest basket! We are ready and ripe for you!
And you just think, Oh dear. Oh my. What have I done?
And the same is true for the squash and the eggplant and it was true for the snow peas, although they're done now.
But to be frank, the cucumbers and the green beans are doing nothing, nothing I tell you, just vining up and being green and not making vegetables to speak of, which is a disappointment.
There have been years when I got out the canning jars and the canning kettle and the jar lifter and the salt and the vinegar and the spices and I have made pickles, oh my lord, have I made pickles. The dill, the sweet, the ones so sweet it takes three weeks and an antique ceramic vessel to make them because it takes all of three weeks and antique vessel magic to exchange every cucumber molecule for sugar molecules and I am not kidding you.
There is no candy on earth with as much sugar in it as those pickles so of course they are the family favorite.
They would be yours, too, if you tried them.
And I have canned tomatoes in past years and I have made my own ketchup and I have made my own salsa, as well and there is nothing on earth so satisfying as lifting the steaming jars from the kettle and setting them down on the counter and hearing that lovely "pop" as the lids suck in and you know you've done it right and then seeing all those jewel-like jars of tomatoes or pickles there- evidence of your tender garden nurturings, your kitchen labor love.
I may have been a Mormon in a former lifetime.
But today, probably because I am sick, and possibly because I am old, just the thought of sterilizing all those jars and lids and boiling the tomatoes and removing their skins, and the heat and the work- well, it just sort of makes me want to go crawl up in the bed and fall asleep with the fan blowing on my head.
Which is what I think I will do right now until my former-lifetime Mormonism passes and leaves me as I am today, a slightly ill, hotflashing woman of no particular belief at all, unless it is a belief in the goodness of gardening, the righteousness of the Mason Jar, the gratefulness for the overabundance of the tomatoes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I am sick. I believe I have the hoopacoodis, which is what my mother called any illness involving cold or flu-like symptoms. There were four of us kids and we frequently had the hoopacoodis and when we did, we were always dosed with "red medicine" which I believe was some sort of cough syrup/decongestant and which was used so liberally in my household that it was bought by the quart in a brown industrial-strength looking bottle and was kept in a kitchen cabinet, the better to be handily available for instant dispensation.

Now this was in Winter Haven, Florida, which is right down the road from Lakeland, Florida, which is the location of some sort of big-ass revival going on called Florida Healing Outpouring. If you go to their website, which I just did, you will find a professional-looking movie that shows just how cool and amazing this revival is. You will also find plenty of ways to DONATE if God so moves you to do so.

This is not your run-of-the-mill revival, folks. No. They've got a fat, white, baldheaded, tattooed preacher who is regularly visited by angels. The dead are being raised. Twenty-four times so far! There's the case of the man who can now see through his glass eye! Which, they point out, is even more miraculous than if Jesus had given him a new, real eye. They also say they are miraculously giving people gold teeth via prayer and boy, do I wish I'd have gotten in on that one because my gold crowns cost a lot of money that I would much rather have spent on something else.

There are pages of testimony on the website, many of them offering heartfelt messages of healing like this actual one I just read:

i feel god is not only moving there, but i feel it has begun there!!! My mamaw has been miraculuosly healed!!!!! Praise GOD!!!!!!!!!!!

Well. Who could argue with that?

After spending several long moments perusing some of the many, many bits of film uploaded to YouTube from these revivals, I can only say that God obviously doesn't think obesity is a problem or he would be doing a bit more healing in that direction.

The website also offers a complete line of merch. You can buy books and music that will help you see the truth, understand the truth, and let you get lost in Jesus. I love that phrase, Lost in Jesus, don't you? I always thought you were supposed to get found in Jesus, but hey! lost, found, whatever. It's all about Jesus.

But you know, it's hard times. People can't afford health care and they're losing their houses, cars, jobs, and pensions. Every where we look, every where we turn, every thing we hear is about how things are bad and getting worse. The price of gas, the price of food, the cost of health care, the environment. So anyone with a message of hope and passion is bound to be popular.

Anyone who promises miracles is bound to get attention.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a cynical old woman. I wish I could believe in fat white preachers who are visited by angels and told what to cast out, what to cast in, and given the power to do it.
But I can't.

This is not to say I don't believe in miracles. I do.
I believe in miracles but they're more the down-home, everyday ones like love and birth and death and rain and the raising up of the watermelons.

And that'll have to do for me. They're the miracles I can see and touch and hear and wonder at.

But you know, if I weren't such a cynical old woman, I'll bet I could go to that website, DONATE, and then put my hand on the computer and pray for a healing from the hoopacoodis and I would be healed.

Maybe not right away. Sometimes, according to testimony, it might take a week or so. That's probably what would happen to me. I'd have this bug for about a week and then it would go away, Hallalujah! praise the Lord, pass the remote control because I'm not the sort of person who can pray with any sense of anything but foolishness and who will, instead, take it easy for a few days, hanging out, reading books, napping, eating tomato sandwiches and watching old movies on the TV while my immune system does its job.

I expect a healing in seven days.
Even without red medicine. Even without a fat white tattooed preacher being involved.
Even without DONATING.

It's a miracle.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

And The Horse You Were Hauling, Too

So this morning on my walk, I was at the part where I've been seeing the bear tracks but was bravely striding on, determined to work through my unreasonable bear-seeing anxiety when a truck pulling a horse-trailer came up the dirt road behind me.

I stepped aside so the truck could get by me and the woman driving stopped.

"Hey!" she said from the comfort of her air-conditioned truck with her cell phone to her ear. "You need a ride or are you just trying to get skinny?"

You know. I think I would have rather seen a bear.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hellz A Poppin'!

You know, some people say life is like a journey and some people say life is like a dream but I say life is like trying to hold a barrel-full of ping pong balls under water with one hand.

Just when you think you've got all those merry, bouncing balls under control, they start popping up to taunt you.

Not that I EVER think I have anything under control but at least sometimes I feel like maybe I have a clue as to how I will eventually get things under control which is hysterically funny and patently untrue.

Our water is turned off right now because there's a plumbing leak and although Mr. Moon can fix it because he can fix anything, he can't always fix things right this second and today is an example of that. Since he's the solo breadwinner, he has to be there winning bread at his real job in town and here I sit, helpless and useless, not even able to do the monkey-work I usually do which is washing dishes and doing laundry, making me feel even more useless and helpless.

Also, the ominous noise my car has been making turned downright ugly this morning so I've driven it to the village car repair place (yes! we do have one!) which inspired great interest on the part of the three guys who work there because they've never worked on my particular type of car before. Despite the fact that they didn't know how to open the hood, I know they'll be able to figure it out because these guys are good. You should see all the grease on the computer keyboard in that office! Whoa!

I went walking today but just as I got to the part where I have been seeing the bear tracks, I heard something in the bushes (a bird, probably) which made me jump and turn around and go back the way I'd come because I'm just all of a sudden freaked out about this whole bear thing. It's like the time I was using the outhouse and I saw a snake at my feet at the exact second that a wasp stung my shoulder. I KNEW a wasp had stung me but for a microsecond the threat of snake bite and the reality of wasp sting blended together in my mind and if there was an award for adrenalin output, I would have won it that day.

So thinking about bears and hearing a noise in the bushes had a similar effect on me and although I didn't exactly bolt or scream like a girl, I did get a hot flash.

And I don't know. These are all very small ping pong balls. Tiny. But it seems like the giant balls (no pun intended) that make up the world's problems are more out of control than usual too and I can't do a damn thing about them. Our governor (I wonder if his balls are as tanned as the rest of him), who impressed us all despite the fact that he's a Republican with his initial speeches about the environment and the need to support education has gone all I-might-be-McCain's-running-mate on us and is hollering to open up drilling off our coast and there's the whole no-gay-marriage-amendment thing going on here in Florida and by God, I'm tired of people in Bagdad getting killed with my tax dollars.

And so forth. Floods, levees being breached, world-wide food shortages, unspeakable horrors happening all over the place, our stupid idiot president (who is one big ugly testicle as far as I can see) being let off his leash to actually speak in foreign countries ("You're looking good, your holiness!" "Maybe my rhetoric has caused people to think I'm not a man of peace," etc.) and well, okay, maybe I've had too much coffee today and anyway, yes, I'm on to the manic phase of my mental disorder. I wish it was the sort of mania where I feel like I can do and accomplish anything and then go out and buy eighteen pairs of shoes, but no, Ms. Moon just types away at nothing and then sweeps the house.

All right. I'm done.

I'm tired of worrying about all this shit and it's not helping anyway.

I can't fix fix the plumbing, I can't fix my car, I can't fix George Bush's brain or the Christian Right's homophobia or the levees. I can't even fix it so there aren't any bears where I want to walk.

I can fix lunch though and I think I will.

You gotta start somewhere.

One ping pong ball at a time, right?

And if you'd like to tell me what the nature of your out-of-control ping pong balls are, I'd love to hear about it. I'm blessing your heart in advance.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's Not The Heat, It's The Humility

I think something's going around. Everyone seems crazy.
Or is it just me?
Yesterday was a day of just feeling damn good about being alive and feeling fine. No bipolar mania there, just the calm serenity and acceptance of a very good life.
Today I woke up, did basically the same things as yesterday, and yet I feel as if I have wasted my entire life.
What causes these changes in attitude?
Is it all just chemicals? Do the stars impel us, or perhaps even compel us? Is it the barometric pressure?
All I know is that I keep finding myself wishing I could be in Roseland, staying by myself at that little cabana house beside the mythical pool of my childhood dreams.
Oh! Just to sit on that dock with the Sebastian River flowing beneath me, the sun about to set, the water roiling as the fishes go about their frantic evening feeding, the great blue heron balanced regally on one leg on the sandbar, the clouds above me scudding across before a threatening storm, the bamboo playing a rattling, clattering music on the bank in the wind.
How can a place that's less than half-a-day's drive seem so far away? As unobtainable as a trip to the pyramids of Egypt?
I don't know, but if I were there, I would stand on that dock with my face to the wind and I would not stop watching until the night had swallowed all the light and I had somehow managed how to incorporate all of me into one piece of wholeness again.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Somebody's Got Some 'Splainin' To Do

So tell me Jock Girl- what's up with this:

I had a weekend. The sort of weekend where any sort of healthy consciousness I might have was so frightened by the amount of bad food and partying I did that it was forced into hiding under the bed, trembling in fear.

Honey, I consumed the holy trinity of badness:
Ice Cream

And you know what? I feel better today, both physically and mentally, than I've felt in weeks.

I'm serious.

And as a disclaimer I have to say the bacon was consumed in a sandwich on whole grain bread with tomatoes from the garden and the tequila was consumed in a very small amount but the ice cream?
Let's just say I've had my dairy for the week.

And I don't usually even care about ice cream that much.

But last night? I cared. Oh baby, I cared a lot.

And I did not sleep well last night. But I got up early and Jock Girl stood there with her hands on her hips and said, "Get your fat, lazy, ice-cream-eatin' ass out that door right this second, Ms. Chubette and I mean it!" and I did and it was a great walk.

Except for the part where I saw bear tracks. Big ones. Bigger than my foot, for sure. That was weird. I wasn't sure what they were at first but then I did a bit of cogitating and realized there was nothing they could be but bear and I have to tell you that even though I am quite aware that Florida black bears do not attack humans for no reason, if I saw one you'd hear me screaming all the way to Tallahassee. I mean, I'm sort of startled when I see a rabbit. Bears are one of those things I admire and think are really cool in theory, but in up-close reality I just can't handle. Not when I'm all by myself in the woods, carrying nothing to defend myself with but a nice linen napkin which I keep in my pocket and use to wipe the sweat out of my eyes.

But there you have it. I feel incredibly good, I didn't see a bear, I've got my clothes hanging on the line, I went to yoga, and life is strangely great.

And my son, Mr. Downtown Guy, has a lovely post up about Dog Island with a haiku by Billy and even a picture of Billy and if you haven't see it already, go there.

And Juancho has a picture of bacon! And if you click on the title, you will find bacon recipes!

It's such a good day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Mythological Good Man

I desperately want to write a post about my husband (whose name shall be revealed here now- it is- are you ready for this? Mr. Moon!) because it's Father's Day tomorrow, but for some reason I'm having a terribly hard time with it.
It's really no wonder that I am. I grew up with first a father who was a drunk of such persistence that after he threatened to kill my mother, my brother and I, my mother had to leave him, and then a step-father who was a child molester and a psychological terrorist.
So I never really had what you'd call a father (or at least what I'd call a father) and because of that, I was probably drawn to men who were, for the most part, charismatic bad boys whom I figured I could fix with my love, attention, and devotion.
Yeah. That didn't work out so well.
And when Mr. Moon came a courtin', he was so off the mark as to the sort of man I'd be attracted to (see above) that my immediate reaction was to show him the door but something inside of me, some wise and aware part of me, cautioned me not to do that, but instead to open it wide, let him come in and plight his troth.
Which he did. And then managed somehow to move in with me after about fifteen minutes.
The first thing I noticed about Mr. Moon and the first thing every one notices about him, is his height. He's almost seven feet tall.
Everywhere I go with him and everywhere I have ever gone with him, his height has attracted attention. Especially from women.
"How tall ARE you?" they ask him, eyes wide and head tilted to the side, the better to take in all of the glorified goodness which is Mr. Moon.
"Did you play basketball?" they ask.
And he treats every one as if they were the first person ever, ever to comment on his height. With courtesy and with humor, and that was one of the first things I ever noticed about him. That and the way he walked and held himself, which was as if he was taking advantage of every single bit of height he had, proud to be a giant among men, born happy to be born special, and smiling all the time.
He smiled so much I wondered if there was something wrong with him. Honestly. I did.
And then when he fell in love with me, I was certain there was something wrong with him, but I figured that if I married him quick he'd not have time to notice how crazy I was, how needy, how very ill prepared to be the wife of a man like him.
He says he fell in love with me because the sweater I was wearing kept falling off my shoulder and because I made biscuits the way his grandmother did. I say it's because of the way I could shovel horse shit off the back of a pick-up truck for the garden.
Whatever. Whichever.
We got married.
I've realized since then that the man has a need to take on a challenge and I suppose I presented a huge one. I was obviously "not right" as we say around here. I had so much pent-up anger and hurt and bad stuff in me that it's a wonder I didn't have a bio-hazard sign tattooed on my forehead. But because he's got a heart so big that God had to give him a body the size of a giant to fit it in, he ignored all that crazy stuff and just saw a woman who needed a good man and two kids who needed a good dad and figured he could make it all alright.
He went from being a fairly casual house-painter to being a business owner who worked twelve hours a day, six days a week in a matter of months after we were married because he knew that what a husband and a father does is support his family.
He supported us, he was there. He gave everything he had to being the father and the husband he was raised to think a man should be. Although he didn't tread on the boundaries of my oldest two's biodad, he did everything a daddy would do for them. He went to school conferences and concerts and plays and recitals and karate events and he supported them in every way possible.
And he took care of the mama.
He gave me such a net of safety and love that I was able to admit and get help for all the hurt and anger and fear the fathers had instilled in me and he supported me as I did that. Sometimes I raged at him, even though he was innocent, because I couldn't rage at the men who'd damaged me. And he let me. He let me cry, he let me scream, he let me go through all the shit I had to go through to become if not quite whole, at least a lot less broken.
He couldn't do it for me, but he made it possible for me to do it myself by always, always being there.
He gave me two more babies and I doubt any one of my children would say they could have a better father than Mr. Moon. My two oldest children have two dads- but both men are their fathers. And both have given them very special and distinct gifts but I don't think that in their minds they have any doubt that at any time, their stepfather wouldn't do anything in his power to help them if they needed that. No questions asked.
In fact, he's proven that more than once.
On the worst day of my life, when one of my children got hit by a car and was taken to the hospital, I called him, right after I hung up from that call that no parent wants to get. I was in hysterics, crying and he said, "I'll meet you at the hospital." I was about five blocks from that hospital. He was about five miles. He beat me there. And he was the one to put his head in the ambulance to see our girl because I could not do it out of fear, out of terror. He sat there in that tiny cubicle in the emergency room, right beside her, even though he passes out at the sight of blood. He was there.
He's been there. He's the daddy.
He's the husband.
We're so different, in so many ways I can't begin to list them, but when you get right down to it, when you get to the core of the heart of the matter, we agree. The family is what's important. The children are what's important.
Our love is what it's all based on.
We love the water, we love the porch. We love to travel together, we love to sit home and eat dinner in front of the TV. We love to garden.
We love each other.
Twenty-four years after meeting him, and after twenty-three years of marriage, I love him more than ever. That sounds like a cliche but it's just the damn truth. We're both getting deaf, we're growing more and more eccentric, we're not the spry and cute young chickens we once were, but dammit, all that stuff is just...stuff.
And he's still almost seven feet tall and his heart is as big as ever.
All I can say is that I sure am glad I was wearing that sweater that night. And that I can make good biscuits and don't mind shoveling horse shit.
And that he loves me.
And not just because he is my comfort and joy but because he loves our babies. Each and every one for who and what they are. No buts about it, no questions asked.
I may not have had a father, but I found one for my kids and I did a damn good job.
And in doing so, I achieved what I had never even dreamed I could ever do, which was to create the sort of family I never had, but always wanted.
So thank you, Mr. Moon for always being here.
Don't stop. Don't you ever stop.

Ms. Moon Puts On Her Silver

Since the cake-baker/sanity-maker was in town last night under the guise of her real profession which is being a kick-ass musician, the daughter and I went down to the Legion Hall to hear the music. The husband couldn't go because he's fishing a tournament so it was just me and the youngest.

We had a good time, lots of good music, and at one point she said, "Let's dance."

Well, there was no dancing going on and most of the dance floor was covered with chairs but the disco mirror ball was rotating gently and I remembered all the dancing I've done under that disco ball over the years and I bit the lime and said, "Okay."

And we did.

We were the only two people who danced the entire evening until the very last song whereupon maybe ten people got up and shook a little bootie.

Sometimes you just have to dance. You put on your silver jewelry and your shiny eyeshadow and your daughter says let's dance and all that music is going to waste with everyone just sitting there watching when in fact, music was invented so that people could dance. Throw in a disco ball and it's just going to happen.

If you have the DNA I do, anyway, which my daughter does.

It was a fine evening.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bloggoty, bloggoty, blog

Doesn't that make your mouth feel good when you say that title? Oh. It does mine. But that's not what I wanted to talk about.
What I wanted to talk about is that I'm having issues.
Blog issues.
Oh, not my own so much, but other people's.
I have spoken about blog addiction before and it's worth a revisit just for the picture. You don't need to read it because I'm going to tell you what I said in it right here. What I said was that I had become addicted (and not in a good way) to a certain blog which I refused to name, but now freely admit (and this is without therapy!) was the blog of the Dooce.
God Bless the Dooce, who is right this very second just a few counties over from me, vacationing in Destin, Florida. I know this from...her blog, which I still read although not obsessively.
And no, I am not going to go stalk her, although part of me wants to and I did discuss the issue with my daughter, May, who understands because she once went to LaConner, Washington to see if she could just "run into" Tom Robbins.
Unfortunately, she didn't run into him, or perhaps fortunately, but like I say, she understood.
But no, my stalking days are over.
But this has me thinking, isn't reading other people's blogs just a little bit stalkery?
(Feel free to read that line out loud doing your best Sarah-Jessica-Parker-playing-Carrie-Bradshaw voice.)
No matter how hard I try not to, I keep finding and bookmarking new-to-me blogs and putting them in my Google Reader. I can see how if this keeps up I will soon be either blogging or reading blogs approximately 22 hours a day.
And let's face it- there is nothing on earth worth doing 22 hours a day unless you're performing healing miracles on the dying. Or giving me free foot massages, but even then, that might be excessive. I can't imagine saying, oh, that's enough free foot massaging for me, thank-you, and really meaning it, but I suppose it could happen.
So why am I doing this? Reading these blogs? And how do I find them?
Sometimes I read them because the authors read and comment on my blog. And that feels like the polite thing to do, doesn't it? I mean, I'm southern. We're polite. If you bring us some cookies then we feel obligated to bake you a cake. Then you make us a roast suckling pig dinner and then we buy you a chain of restaurants.
That's how it works here.
So I read my commenters' blogs and then sometimes they talk about other people's blogs and so I go check that out and sometimes THOSE people have like THREE blogs and next damn thing you know, my eyes won't focus, the laundry needs taking off the line and all the okra in the garden has gotten as big and hard as the Jolly Green Giant's...wooden leg! and no matter how long you cook it, it's never going to be edible and you might as well fish it out of the pot and dry it off and paint it red and white and give it to someone for a Christmas ornament but I don't have time for that because I'm reading blogs!
So I don't know. I might just have to go cold turkey on this whole blog thing.
But darn it! I want to know what's going on in people's lives! I want to know what they're thinking and what their children are up to and what their dogs are getting into and what they're wearing and....
See what I mean about the stalkery thing?
It's like observing someone's every action without being really involved and it's a bit damn weird when you think about it, even though those people are standing in front of a metaphorical window with the lights on, taking their clothes off and begging you to watch.
Which really, when you think about it, is what blogging is.
So not only is reading other people's blogs weird, but writing one is too.
I'm doubly damned.
I think I better post this shit and go out and pick some okra. Or blackberries.
At least I'll have something to blog about besides blogs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One Good Reason (Out Of Thousands) It's A Good Idea To Be Friends With Your Ex

Last night after we had my son's birthday supper at a pizza place, my ex, the bio-dad, and I shared a really, really good hug and I said, "Well, that was some day, thirty-two years ago, wasn't it?"

And he allowed as how it had been. "It had its stressful moments," he said.

"Yeah. Longest day of my life," I said. "But we got 'er done."

He laughed. "Yep. We did. We got 'er done."

And then I said, "Do you remember how I had that stupid Martin Mull song stuck in my head the entire 28 hours?"

And we both laughed and recited together, "I've slept with thousands of girls, please be one of them./I remember all of their names and I don't make fun of them."

Which were the lyrics to that song, so incredibly inappropriate to have had in my head while in labor. I remember thinking what an IDIOT Martin Mull was and being tormented, thinking to myself that if anyone knew how horribly painful the end-results of sex could be, they would never, ever joke about sex. Ever. Again.

Or even have it, which I was definitely planning never to do.

And which I planned never to do again during each of my labors.

All four.


But it was just so sweet last night, that hug, that shared memory and I am so grateful that he and I have the sort of relationship now where we can have those moments because there's no one else in the world who shares those same exact memories with me.

And having that person to hug and share with, all these years later after all the Sturm und Drang and bitterness and anger of separation and divorce and custody and child support issues is just...well, a damn blessing.

Work that shit out, folks. Work it out. And not just for your kids, even though that's the best reason to do it, but for yourself because when you do you're left with a sort of joy that no amount of self-satisfied, smug righteous indignation could ever leave you with.

I promise.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The First Best Day Of My Life, Thirty-Two Years Ago

Keep your attention in the here-and-now. Don't past-trip. Putting your attention in the past means that here-and-now is continuing on without you.
Stephen Gaskin.

Every morning I wake up dissatisfied and at least slightly despairing. It is my way. On the best days I shake these feelings off quickly and move on but some days they linger, as if they'd taken root in my bones, my heart, my blood.

Today seems to be one of those days.

I keep thinking about how thirty-two years ago today I was holding my first just-born baby in my arms.

I was twenty-one years old, barely a woman, and a just-born mother, so frighteningly full of love for the baby I was holding that the universe was hardly big enough to contain it and indeed, as I looked into that baby's eyes, held that baby's body to mine, my thoughts did race outward to the celestial.

I thought of stars in space as I looked into the infinite depths of my baby's eyes.

And today I think back on myself, holding that baby and I am still in wonder at the magnificent way our hearts have evolved to love another that much. I still think that it is somehow the force that holds this whole thing together- that sort of love. It is that powerful. It can bend light, it can cause gravity to loosen its hold, it can affect the spin of the planets in their orbits.

And yet here I am today, thirty-two years later, looking back, and my heart is heavy.

I am, as Stephen Gaskin says, past-tripping.

I think of that girl, that just-born mother and how her heart trembled on the verge of jumping out of her chest with the jolting joy of her baby's new life. I remember how she pressed her mouth to her baby's ear and made every sort of promise to that baby in a breathy whisper. The moon, the stars, a life filled with more sweetness and light than any human being's life has ever held.

And of course, I was not able to fulfill those promises. I was only human, tethered to earth with all its myriad complications, its rules of physics, its laws of gravity, perhaps loosened for a moment with the hugeness of my love, but which soon settled back into its normal unyielding demands, its heaviness of reality.

And my heart fills now, thinking of this.

Perhaps it is a strange form of bi-polar disorder, stretched out over the course of three decades. Or perhaps it is just the complete and utterly disorienting realization that thirty-two years have passed since that day and where am I? What am I doing?

Young hippie mother in love with her first baby to old hippie mother still in love with that baby, but weary now. So weary some days of the millions of minutes made up of the minutiae of my life.

The dishes need washing.
The laundry needs doing.
The dogs need feeding.
We're out of cereal, the pump is broken, the garden needs watering, the books need writing, the floors need sweeping, the heart needs mending, the spirit needs tending, the thousand tiny cuts need binding.

How did I get from that holy room, holding that holy child, my holy heart so full of light that I'm sure it registered in the mind of God to being so old and worn out?

It has happened so fast. At the speed of unbent light. No. Faster than that.

And I can't go back. I can't whisper warnings in that young mother's ear about this choice, or that. I can't tell her to trust herself more, to stand up for what she knew was right, to open her eyes to blinding truths, to be wary, to be stronger, to be aware that time, even as she held that baby, her milk not even come in yet, was flowing so fast that it would drown her if she let it.

I can't go back and change anything, nor would I. It doesn't work that way, nor should it. I would not interfere with that woman's hopes and dreams and innocence for anything in the world. That was a perfect moment, just as it was.

I am here. That baby is here. He is grown up. He is a man. He is someone I am prouder of than I could ever have imagined thirty-two years ago. His path has been a hard one but he has strong shoulders and strong legs and he is confident as he walks.

He taught me about love, that first second of his life.

He teaches me about strength, every second of his life.

He is here, he is now, he is perfect.

And if there are regrets in my heart about anything, anything at all, none of it has to do with him. Or with his sisters, either, except for this:
I wish, oh babies, I wish- I could have done better by you sometimes. I do.

I wish I could have done better by me sometimes, too.

But here we are.

And it's time to pull myself away from the past and get on with the here-and-now. It needs my attention. While I am here, I have to give it. That's the deal we make when we're born, when we give birth.

There is the holy light of love and there are the diapers that need changing.
There is the magnificent tsunami of joy and there are the endless nights of colic and weeping.
There is the perfect plan of life and there are the regrets.
They are all part of it, aren't they?

We continue on.

We celebrate.

Happy birthday, Son.
Thank-you for the lessons. Thank-you for being my here-and-now for all these years.

I still think of the stars when I think of you.

And my heart lightens and rises up and I go on.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What's It All Mean, Mr. Natural, Part II (Or, Letting R. Crumb Do the Work For Me)

Some days are just big fat write-offs, aren't they? Today was one of those days for me. I couldn't even get a blog post out, no matter how hard I tried. In fact, the harder I tried, the more it got all weird and stupid and boring.
And so, in the spirit of what I think I was trying to write about, which was the old hippie days, I will just give you this, which sort of sums it all up perfectly.

For me, anyway. And which in any case, is good, solid wisdom from one of my favorite gurus.

Thanks, Mr. Natural!

P.S. I discovered, while doing a google-image search for this very cartoon, that if you search for What's It All Mean, Mr. Natural, you will find ME! Ms. Moon, on the very first line of the very first page of hits. This would explain why my What's It All Mean, Mr. Natural post is one of my most consistently hit pages. And I thought it was because it was so great and maybe making the rounds of word-of-mouthedness or something. Ha! But it was funny to find me on the World Wide InterWeb, I tell you. Shocking. Not quite as shocking as what I found on the THIRD page of hits (Oh Lord, child, cover your eyes!) but still shocking.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sucks In The City

It's hot here, y'all. Hotter than hot! hot! hot! Brangelina sex and you know that is some hot sex.
Because I have four dogs whom I have never trained very well, I choose to leave the air conditioner off during the day so I don't have to spend my entire waking hours opening the door for them to go in and out at their will. If the door is closed for the AC, they will scratch at it until it's a mere scraped-out thing instead of the one-hundred-and-fifty year old door it is, so I just do without artificial cooling during the days and leave the damn door open.
This means that the outside here is always part of the inside, including the occasional bird who flies in through the porch dog door. I am constantly finding bird poop in unexpected places like on the newel post or on the floor in the library.
But I like it like that. I have realized lately that for me, sanity lies in being where I can see what's going on outside and being outside as much as possible. I've spent a lot of time in the yard this weekend, planting some blueberry bushes and watering and weeding. I also went blackberry picking with daughter Lily, which was a bit premature in that they aren't really ripe, but we got enough for this morning's pancakes, which we ate outside under the Bradford pears.
Anyway, all of this is hot work. And for some reason, I don't mind that. I move slowly, I get whatever done that gets done and then when evening comes, we turn on the AC and shut the doors and try to convince the dogs to leave the damn door alone.
Twice this weekend, though, I went out. I ventured beyond the village limits on Friday night to go see Sex In The City and as God is my witness, I will never go to another Friday night movie in my life unless one of my books is made into a movie and there is a premier that I must attend.
And a red carpet better be involved.
I won't go into the many, many reasons that the movie going was such a painful experience but I will say this- it wasn't worth putting a bra on for. Between the unruly crowds and the fact that you have to watch TV commercials before a movie starts these days (when did THAT happen?) and the fact that the movie really wasn't that good, it was just not worth the effort. There were hardly even any movie star bosoms.
And then last night I went to a gathering of people whom I really like to the point of adoration and yet, I found myself so uncomfortable, being inside a very lovely home and chatting with a plate of yummy food on my lap that I almost wept with joy when the woman I'd come with said, "You ready to go?"
Oh yes. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.
I'd already been accused, in a humorous way, of being loaded when in fact, I'd had one beer. My behavior was a bit strange, I admit, but it was only through nervousness, not drunkenness.
The sad fact these days is that you can dress me up but you cannot take me out.
Don't even try it.
So my friend and I made our good-byes and everyone had to make a big deal about us leaving. The party really had sort of just begun, but we gathered our bowls and purses and took our leave and one man said, "You're going to be halfway home and wish you'd stayed!"
Ha, I thought. I'm just leaving and wish I was halfway home.
I took my friend to her house and when we got there, which is in a woodsy area, with its beautiful flowers and trees and vegetables and chickens and dogs and cats, I looked around and said, "Wow. Why wouldn't anyone rather be here than inside some place making polite conversation?"
And she knew exactly what I meant.
I drove the long way home through fields and woods and the sun was setting and when I got home I said to my husband, "Please don't make me go out again. Ever."
He laughed, but I was serious.
I took off the dreaded bra and put on my linen overalls and went outside to water my blueberries. An owl landed a few feet from me and scooped some unfortunate creature up and took him into a tree to leisurely enjoy while the night crickets and frogs started their singing and fiddling, their every-night jubilee. A white magnolia blossom, cupped and folded for the night gleamed in the twilight and I pulled it down to breathe in its holy fragrance as the night came in fully.
I looked back up at my house, its white walls rising in the darkness, light spilling from the windows, and I thought, no, really, why would I leave?
And of course, I did go to Publix today and that was fine but it's just been such a joy to work in the yard, hang the clothes outside, pick some peas from the garden, make a bean salad and herb bread for our supper of grilled eggplant sandwiches.

It's hot, y'all, but I have porches. I've sat on two of them so far today; I'm sitting on one of them right now. And perhaps my husband and I will go sit on the third in a little while. I can hear the birds, some traffic, a goat wailing from next door. The donkey starts his sequence of hee-haws. Thunder is rumbling off in the distance, although from where I sit I can't even see a cloud.
I have an entire Sunday New York Times to read, we're going to eat the veggie porn eggplant on my home-made bread soon, I am not wearing a bra, and if a magic genie appeared right this second and said, "I'll take you anywhere in the entire world you want to go," I'd have to say, "Thank you kindly, sir, but I'm fine right here."

Yes sir. I am fine. Right here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Things I've Learned This Week

A few random bits of wisdom, gleaned from my life right here in Lloyd, Florida, the land that time forgot but that I certainly never will:

According to Esquire Magazine, a poll done by the Pew Research Center says that Americans would be less likely to support a candidate if he or she were:
Black: 6%
Catholic: 7%
Jewish: 11%
A Woman: 12%
Hispanic: 15%
Evangelical Christian: 16%
Mormon: 25%
Muslim: 45%
and the highest percentage of all goes to
Atheist: 61%
To me, this says that Americans are far more apt to vote for a candidate who believes in magical underwear (Mormon) than one who does not believe in God. As are Americans far more apt to vote for someone who's faith decrees that their infant sons' penises must be mutilated right after birth to please God (Jewish) than one who doesn't believe in that God.
Thank you very much and we certainly know who will not ever be running for president.

Moving on.

It makes men very, very happy to have an old car to work on.

Men will happily eat tofu if it is an ingredient in an egg roll and served up with plenty of duck sauce.

Especially if they know they're going to go work on their old car as soon as supper is over.

Jock Girl? She knows what she's talking about. I got up early this morning and walked before yoga and I feel so much better in every way for having done that.

Writing fiction can surprise you even more than reading it. I am sure that some authors can control their characters but I am not one of them. Perhaps this is because I am not a real author.

Knocked Up may be a low-brow comedy that certainly doesn't pander to my demographic and it may not portray childbirth, life, or love in a very truthful way but DAMMIT! it's funny as shit.

The expression funny as shit is one that I don't quite understand but I use it a lot.

Bodies remember anniversaries of all sorts, even if minds don't.

The sins of the father are visited yea, unto at least the next generation.

Old rock and roll is the BEST rock and roll.

The high cost of fuel is going to change a lot of things for every single one of us. Not all of these things will be negative.

A husband who OFFERS to take you to see the Sex and the City movie is not a husband who is worried about his manhood.

And one who should not be taken for granted.

And who probably thinks he's going to get to see a few movie-star bosoms.

Eggplants can certainly grow themselves into some interesting shapes. I mean really. Please.

Don't even try to tell me that's a nose. Or a.. chin cleft?

One of the coolest things in the eat-UP-with-cool county of Wakulla is the XLERATOR hand dryer in the restroom of the Kangaroo convenience store. You have never seen anything like this. Go now. It's worth the gas money. They have decent coffee at the Kangaroo, too. And while you're rambling around the county, might as well check out the lighthouse, Ouzt's II, the River Side cafe, Just Fruits and Exotics nursery, and the woman who sells boiled peanuts who will show you pictures of her grandchildren. But don't skip the XLERATOR. Really. It's the best.

The person who instituted the policy at Old Navy wherein all employees must walk around the store with an Old Navy canvas bag slung over their shoulder should be taken out and shot. Not only does it look ridiculous, especially on the men because it just screams, "Big old dork!" but also because none of the employees can get their work done due to the fact that they have to keep adjusting the strap to keep the bag from falling off.
This is just wrong.
Not going-to-war-in-Iraq wrong, but wrong nonetheless.

And last but not least, it has come to my attention that many, many blog commenters use the phrase, "You made me pee in my pants a little," or "That story made me throw up in my mouth a little," or some other thing a little, which is getting to be annoying a little, and which makes the commenters who use these phrases sound ridiculous a lot.

And that's about all I've learned this week.

I am so happy to have intelligent commenters on my blog who leave intelligent comments which do not involve the phrase "I peed in my pants a little". And honored. I wish we could all meet up in Medart to dry our hands with the XLERATOR together and then go to Ouzt's for a beer and discuss these and many other things.

Wouldn't that be fun?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jock Girl VS Chubette.

I was a fat kid. I also wore glasses and and was a dorky nerd before the words "dork" and "nerd" had been invented. You can only imagine the teasing I got, although teasing is too tame a word. Unmercifully and cruelly taunted would be a better description for what happened.

Fatty, four eyes, teacher's pet.

These are but a few of the witty names thrown my way in grades one through five.

Good times, good times.

It wasn't until I reached the sixth grade that I lost a bunch of weight and no longer had to buy my clothes in the Chubette department. And yes, that is what they actually called it- The Chubette Department. The way I lost weight was somewhat unique. Being a southern child, I got a sort of hookworm parasite in my foot called ground itch, or, to be more medical about it, cutaneous larva migrans. I would show you a picture but you don't want to see it. For some reason, my ground itch did not get successfully treated and spread all over my foot causing agonizing itching, a bacterial infection which oozed pus and serum, and the need to get from one place to another by hopping on the unaffected foot.

The combination of these things resulted in a rather large weight loss, which of course made it all worthwhile.

I spent my high school years doing every thing I could not to become fat again and mostly, I succeeded. This involved flirting with (although never entirely falling into) eating disorders because in those days, that's what a girl had to work with. I don't think the concept of fitness had really been invented back in those days and only athletes were expected to play sports and girls were definitely not supposed to be athletes.

It wasn't until my twenties and I was trying to lose baby weight that I started independently doing anything physical beyond digging ditches and chopping down trees. I read Jim Fixx's book on running, which was a huge revolutionary book in those days, and began to force myself to run three miles a day. I hated it, so it was good for me.

After a while, though, I realized that hating something wasn't exactly a great reason to do it, so I started walking instead of running and I have been walking ever since. I walk fast and I do it regularly, which works for me.

It's harder to enjoy walking in the summer than it is in the winter, I have to admit. Summer has found us and it feels like she's squatting over us with her powerful hot thighs, so walking has become more of a test of my endurance than of anything else, but I am glad, at the age of fifty-three, to be able to endure it.

I am not, let's face it, an athlete, although besides walking I lift some weights, do some exercises, and go to yoga three times a week.

And I do these things religiously. Not only because if I didn't, I would be as big as, well, someone who has to shop in the Chubette Department, but also because when I was in my forties, I realized that inside of this body there lives a jock girl.

Yep. That's what I call her.

Jock Girl.

She looks a little like me and a lot like Jackie Warner (see above) and instead of groaning when it's time to lift those weights, she cheers. When it's time to go walk, she's so happy. And when I finally learned that I could do real, big boy push-ups, she was ecstatic. She wishes I could do more, but that's another story.

The funny thing is, is that I feel like Jock Girl has been inside of me my entire life. I've always known I had a strong body, especially after giving birth to my babies without the aid of drugs or medical interventions, even the one who weighed over ten pounds. And it feels right to appreciate it by pushing it some, by letting it be strong.

I will never have a body like Jackie Warner's and I grieve that.

But it's okay. I may not even look as good as I could, but I take Jock Girl out for exercise regularly and I know she's making sure I don't get osteoporosis, she's watching my cholesterol and weight, she's helping me keep on a more even keel, emotionally, and she's keeping me as strong and flexible as I need to be.

I think that I'm actually going to have to get up and go walk a lot earlier now that it's so hot and I hope I have the self-discipline to do that because it can't be healthy to turn as red and sweat as much as I do, walking in the heat of the mid-morning. Honestly, sometimes I'm so hot I'm not even aware of having a hot flash except for the fact that instead of the sweat dripping off my face, it begins to run in rivulets.

I don't really want to get up earlier and I really don't want to have to stop wasting a bunch of time before I walk by reading the paper and checking out any new blogs that might have appeared overnight, but Jock Girl says I must.

And what I've learned is that when Jock Girl makes demands, I should listen because her demands are far less cruel than being called fatty.

And because I never, ever want to have to buy my clothes in any department resembling the Chubette section again in my entire life. I'll always wear glasses, I'll always be a dorky nerd, but dammit, I refuse, I simply and absolutely refuse to be a Chubette.

Truth be told, there's still one of those who lives inside me too, right alongside Jock Girl. She tells me to eat more peanut better, she tells me to go lie on the couch and read, and she always tells me that I don't have to walk today; I can do it tomorrow.

I'll never entirely get rid of her, that Chubette Girl. But I don't have to listen to her. Not if I don't want to.

And I don't. It's as simple as that.

I don't.