Thursday, May 26, 2011


When Taylor was cooking our fish last Sunday, she said, "I like my tuna rare and my salmon done well."
Me too.
I'm cooking salmon right now for Jessie's last night at home before she leaves tomorrow for the North Florida Folk Festival and then her journey back to her home in North Carolina. I'm not cooking it the way Taylor did because Taylor is a chef. But I am cooking it the way I cook it and as such, that's the way Mama makes it, which is what Jessie wanted.

I have been so busy lately. And so many things have been out of my comfort zone. Jesus. Going and hanging with my mother for one. But this softening of her brain has created this huge softening of her heart and I'm good with that. Today when I was there, she started to tell the story of when I was in her third grade classroom (yes, she was my teacher in the third grade) and how I'd been in a spelling bee and misspelled the word "soap." "S-O-P-E, soap," I said. Because I wasn't interested in the spelling bee. It was boring. And I was reading a book. And if I had a buck for every time my mother has told this story I could buy a nice piece of jewelry. So today she started to tell it and I said, "Mom. We know the story. S-O-P-E, soap."
And she said, "Well, I just felt so bad for you."
And I said, "And we never need to bring it up again."

Which I would never have said before. But today, while I was filling out paper work for her, I felt completely comfortable saying.

Done. Never tell that story again in my presence. What purpose does it possibly serve? I was eight fucking years old. I misspelled a word. Let it go.

And I need to let it go and so does she.
And by god, if I need to remind her to do so, I fucking well will.

Oh, bless her heart.
Bless mine too.

As Gradydoctor pointed out today, Oprah has said that we are not our mistakes. There's an Oprah lesson I am trying to learn. We aren't our mistakes. And misspelling a word in a third grade spelling bee does not define who I am. And I can tell my mother that.

I did a lot today. I got the dogs groomed, I did the paper work for Mother, I went to her doctor and made an appointment to get an exam for her which must be done before she can move. I went to the store. I came home.

I dug potatoes. I am making a dinner for me and Jessie of potatoes and green beans and salmon and spinach and onions and mushrooms. I let the chickens out today. They brought me great joy as they scratched about the yard and came up on the kitchen porch.

Tomorrow Owen will be here and then an entire weekend to myself. I am having Kathleen and Judy and Denise and Rich and Boone over on Sunday for Memorial Day food. I am making the potato salad and the beans and I will provide the watermelon and I will build a fire with my Girl Scout skills in the big kettle grill if someone wants to cook on a grill. I am looking forward to that.

I am listening to Keith Richards tell his story and babies, he made a lot of mistakes. But he doesn't define himself around them. He lives on in joy and his children love him and his grandchildren too and so does his wife, or so it would seem. He seems to say, "Bless his heart," or "Bless her heart," more than would seem normal for an English guy. Maybe I can listen to Keith Richards where I cannot listen to Oprah because my soul is more aligned with his. I don't know. I do know that we find our teachers where we find them and without a doubt, it was a mistake for me to go to third grade with my mother as my teacher and I am truly realizing that and also realizing that her mistakes were her own. Mine were mine.

And here I am, in this place where I am at home and where my mistakes do not have to define me and where I can realize, as I dig potatoes from the earth, my hands black with it, that I am who I am and that is okay and when I am eighty-four years old there is hope that I will not remind my children of spelling mistakes which they made at the age of eight. I think that's a good possibility in that I can't remember any and don't care if they did.

And I am getting to a place where when my mother brings these things up, I can just say, "Mama. You don't need to tell that story again. We've heard it."

That's a volunteer sunflower that has grown up in my kitchen garden. Yes. It was a mistake that it came up there, the seed strewn by some bird, I am sure. And the chickens didn't eat it and it there it grew, planting itself in the dirt. But despite the fact that it may have been a mistake that it got there, it is perfectly suited to where it is and it has bloomed.

I don't think I need to say any more about that.


  1. no. we are not our mistakes.

    i love that.

    need to read me some keef


  2. If ever you are in the Pacific Northwest, I hope you'll allow me to cook some salmon for you. Right now I have two big ol' slabs caught from the Columbia River by my tiny and colorful friend Amy.

    And---when I was in elementary school, I was a real razzle-dazzle speller, but I got knocked out of the spelling bee over the word axle--which I spelled axel, due to the fact that I had been reading Pippi Longstocking and that's how the boy's name was spelled in that book. I was STUNNED to be wrong. I'm the only person who tells that story--my parents always want to tell ones that culminate in me getting spanked. Sheesh.

  3. I have a small herd of sunflowers...or is it a stand of sunflowers, or maybe a passel of sunflowers...riht in the middle of my yard where the birds planted them.
    I'm pretty sure it's NOT a mistake...and I have forbidden the Irishman to mow them down.

    This was a great post, my dear girl. I really can relate to almost everything you write.

    Thank you

  4. I wonder if your mother returns to that story because of an internal narrative about her own skills (or failures) as teacher/mother. But, 'nuff said. And I just googled sope.

  5. Thank THELORDJESUS I am not my mistakes. Thank YOUMYIDOL for reminding me of that.

    Love you so goddamn much!


  6. What are seen as mistakes at first often turn out to not be. I think that's what you are saying here.

  7. So sorry to hear about Hank's job. May he find a much better one! And glad to hear that you are making the time with your mother suit Your needs, too, by being very frank with her. Your garden bounty is beautiful!
    Love to you, O and Jessie as she goes on her way.
    x0 N2

  8. I'm so many posts behind and overwhelmed right now, sorry for not commenting on all of them, especially the last one. Damn that governor and I hope Hank lands on his feet. This post, I could talk to you for an hour about this post alone. The issues with your mom so present in your life both then and now - mine was my everywhere - my substitute teacher and girl scout leader and she's never forgotten a single mistake I've made. I wish I could hug your 3rd grade self, and mine, because we both needed some unconditional love. I wish I didn't suspect that your mom's disappointment stemmed as much from her need for you to do well to reflect positively on her, because it's all about her, rather that feeling sorry for you or understanding how you felt. That's my story and the lens I see the mother daughter relationship through, because that's my truth. Third grade was traumatic for me and has resonated throughout my life in so many unwelcome ways. Oh well. Thank you. We are not our mistakes. I've done a lot of hard work to let it all go, the crap from the past, and I too said something similar to my mom just last year - it was 35 years ago, how much longer do we need to talk about this? Granted, it was way worse than misspelling Soap, but I have long since redeemed myself and moved on. Why can't she? But it felt really good to say it to her, so I felt really good for you being able to say it and rise above too.
    I am so glad your blog is out there to distract me, make me think, give me some clarity and some comfort that others lead the same sometimes tired and confusing lives, and still find time to notice the lovely sunflower growing outside and share it with the rest of the tired confused minions. Thanks once again, over and over. I'd hug the current you too right now if I could. XO

  9. love your sunflower mistake.
    sope is soap is sope.
    love your writing as always, your mind and rhythm and deep down soul.
    enjoy the weekend dear MM.

  10. Beautiful words. I just felt something soften in my own heart right now. Thank you.

  11. Hey mama, did y'all get any rain today?

  12. Michelle- If you do a lot of driving, I'd even recommend the audio version. It's a very fine production.

    X-Ray Iris- WHY do they do that? I would never drag up old crap like that for my children. Okay, there are a few stories...
    But they're sweet. To me, anyway.
    And I would LOVE to eat some salmon you cooked. Lord. I love salmon.

    Elizabeth- Only took me forty-eight years to realize I could say, "Yes, Mom. We've heard the story. Now. Enough."

    Akannie- Nope. Not a mistake. A lovely, lovely bit of serendipity.

    A- Mmmm. No. I think it was because I was a bit of a smart ass and that was her way of reminding me that I did not know everything. Who knows? And that bit about, "I just felt so bad for you?" That was a completely new element.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- You are my sister.

    Andrew- That and that even mistakes which turn out very badly do not define who we are. Unless we allow them to.

    N2- Thank-you, thank-you, and so much thanks.

    Mel- We're all the same, aren't we? In so many ways. I, too, wish I could go back and hug those third-graders. Damn. Someone should have. Sometimes I just feel like what I write is ridiculous babble and it makes me feel so good to hear that maybe I am talking about things which resonate with so many. We're all just trying to figure it out. And sometimes, it's so easy once you do. Ah-lah. That means I love you.

    Bethany- And I love your deep-down soul, you sweet girl. You have a great weekend too. E-mail me and catch me up if you want.

    Terena- It's okay to stand up for our old selves. I swear it is.


  13. That is one powerful lesson, Ms. Moon. We are not our mistakes. I will tell myself that every day.

  14. I know that my mother got tom the point where she would retell the same stories over and over. Some were about me and some were about other relatives.

  15. You are so right, we are not our mistakes and must remember it always.

    I'm glad you said that to your mother, I hope she listens this time.

    Dinner sounds lovely. I think I want some chickens now! Love you xx


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