Wednesday, October 16, 2019

I Am Here But Already Drifting Down To The Flowing River

The rain cleared today and now we're supposed to get the cooler temperatures tonight. Down into the fifties which for us is chilly weather.
Don't laugh. It'll be a reason to dig out the Goodwill cashmere.
For at least half an hour. Maybe.

Today's adventure took Lily and Jessie and me and the little ones to Monticello. There were some bar stools that I had seen last week and I wanted to buy them if they were still there. We stopped at the library first. All three of us women seemed to be low energy today. Jessie was awake with Levon in the night and then he was up at 5:45. Lily was tired from work and being a mother. And me? Oh, who knows? Still in my stagnant phase, I suppose. So the children played games on the computers and we mostly just sat and talked. I am so fortunate to have grown children who are my friends to talk to, to laugh with.
I am quite sure I'll never get over the wonder of that. And I most certainly never take it for granted. Besides that aspect of having grown children, I also love seeing how the sisters relate as mothers. They have different styles of mothering, for sure, but both styles absolutely have the best interests of their children at the base of them. Lily with her three children, her ten years of being a mama, is a bit more relaxed although Jessie is far from overly protective. And they effortlessly mother each other's children when the situation calls for it. Lily is like a mother bear, scooping babies up and loving them and Jessie is a relaxed and loving auntie to Maggie and Owen and Gibson. It's such a beautiful thing to see. When they were little, their relationship was difficult. Lily was almost four years older and had a very alpha personality if one can apply that term to an older sibling. She was, quite frankly, the boss of all of us, and they were discussing how much easier life was for Jessie after Lily moved out of their shared bedroom. But they don't discuss these things with animosity. They just admit that they were completely different in so many ways and that trying to share space with each other was a bit of a disaster.
I listen to them and think of how my brother who is closest in age to me and I simply cannot get along, even now. It's one of the saddest parts of my life that our childhood experiences still get in the way of us being friends. I know we love each other. There is no doubt about that. But no matter how much time passes between our visits and no matter how much we both (I am certain) vow to keep our tempers and our tongues, inevitably something will arise and the next thing you know there is more anger between us than I am sure either of us ever experiences with anyone else.
There is a sheer violence to it which scares the hell out of me. And my brother is not a violent man and god knows, I may have some anger issues but outward shows of them is absolutely not what I do.
I have my own theories about this, about why it happens but when I try to discuss those with him, he gets even angrier.
And I suppose we could say that my youngest brother and I are estranged (and he keeps a huge distance between himself and all of his siblings) and also that my relationship with my middle brother, although loving, is not what it could be. We do not see each other nearly enough. Our mother's death somehow precipitated a splitting apart of us all that is absolutely dreadful and painful and none of us are in close contact.
So seeing my children all being tender and sweet and funny with each other is a sort of miracle to me. In a way, I think it is a very good thing that all of my children are so different. Competition is simply impossible when differences are cherished and respected.
At least, that is how it has seemed to work out in our little family.

So. Back to our day in Monticello. Mr. Terez was happy to see us and we were happy to see him. After the library we went to the place where I'd seen the bar stools and they were still there and I bought them and Lily and I hauled them to her van.


Then we went to Wag the Dog but nothing was purchased today except for a few books. The scary Halloween bride out front gave Maggie and August an excellent photo opportunity though.




This is them acting scared. Which of course made them laugh. And made us laugh too. 

We had our lunch at the Rev and it was tasty as always. Our diets are so diverse now. We're like one of those new-age jokes about diet-obsessed customers in restaurants. 
"Does the meat have any soy-based products in it?" "I'd like the salad but please, no onions."
They accommodated us graciously. 
The children were happy with their kid meals with french fries. Maggie got her chicken, August and Levon had venison sliders. And I got a Greek salad with shrimp. 

And then home we came where I discovered that my bar stools are a bit too tall and so Mr. Moon is going to have to cut off the legs a little. Right now he's out taking a tire off the tractor. 
There is something so comforting about having a man about who can remove a tractor tire. Truthfully, I love having a husband who has a tractor. I'm not sure why. I guess because that represents something that I so primally need and am attracted to. 
I had a friend once who talked about "the changers of the oil and the tillers of the soil" and I suppose that is exactly who I married. On the other hand, he can tear apart a contract until an attorney weeps so there is that too. 
I can't believe that a week from right now, we'll be on the dock in Roseland, watching the last color from the sunset, hearing the plash of fish doing their twilight feedings in the shallow water, watching the current take the water from here to there and back again. The river of my heart. 
I dreamed this morning that developers were tearing up not only Roseland but the river. The islands were being dredged apart, the jungles growing on them torn up and the trees broken and twisted, the little strip of land between the white sand road and the water where there are pine trees and a few little houses, destroyed. 
I was trying to tell two people that I know what was changing, how horrible it was, and to explain to them what it had been like before. 
They didn't really care although they tried to be interested. 
"Do you want to go see the spitting lions?" I asked them. Somehow I knew they were still there.
"Uh, sure," they said, but I could tell it wasn't a priority. 
And then I found myself my in my grandfather and grandmother's old cottage and people were living there and it was horribly awkward and I saw amongst their things, things from my childhood. 
This is all so obvious and I suppose a response to Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again." 
Strangely, Roseland, sixty years later IS the place where I can go home again but there is always the fear that I will return to find that untrue. 

Well. We shall see, won't we? I have a feeling that the islands will be intact, the strip of land just as I left it. The little Community Center will still be sitting on the property that I just found out a few years ago that my grandparents had donated to the little village, the ospreys will nesting in the pines and the railroad trestle will  still be spanning the river as it has been since long, long before I was a child. 

And all of that is a joy I cannot even begin to express. 

Love...Ms. Moon


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Reasons To Live


I woke up this morning groggy and dream fogged. I've been sleeping too much lately. I do not know if I am
A. Dying, or
B. Depressed, or
C. Anxious, or
D. All of the above.

And please don't suggest I go see the doctor. There is no visible blood anywhere so there is obviously no need.

But I got some things done around here this morning. Booked us a place to stay near Mayo in Jacksonville. It's only a few blocks from the beach and maybe we'll spend some time by the ocean. It's a very nice option to have. After lunch I met Jessie at Costco. It had been picture day at August's school and he chose his overalls to wear. His teacher told Jessie, "He loves his overalls."
That makes me feel so good. I asked him what he likes about the overalls. He pointed to the beaded dinosaur and wrecking ball.
"These," he said.
Bless his heart.
Levon was happy to see me. He's comfortable with me now. And Boppy and Aunt Lily. He's still very shy around people he doesn't know well. He doesn't throw his affection around willy nilly as some children do. You have to gain that little boy's trust.
We had a good time at Costco as we always do. The boys wanted to look at all of the Christmas decorations and August wanted to buy them all. His mother pointed out that he only has about three dollars and so he asked the price of every reindeer and Christmas tree and Santa. Sadly, there was nothing in his price range.
Pumpkin pie was being sampled and both boys liked that. Next up was beets. Plain, cooked, organic beets. August liked his okay and Levon seemed to like his but about ten minutes later I noticed that he still had the beet in his mouth.
"Levon, do you want to spit that out?" I asked him. I held out a napkin for him.
He spit out the entire beet onto the napkin, drooling a little drop of beet juice. He reminded me of a baby vampire.
"Did you like it?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
Hmmm....
I love the way he studies everything so carefully and closely. I took him into the bathroom stall with me while Jessie took August into the stall next to us and I could tell that Levon was not quite sure what he was doing there. When I pointed out August's feet under the partition though, he laughed and laughed. What a great trick! And Mama's feet too!
Although he is a serious guy, he loves to laugh and does quite frequently. Especially with his Auga unless they are tussling. Those boys really do remind me of puppies. They love each other and love to be close but when they get to wrestling over something, there can be, if not blood, then at least a need to separate them. Jessie has a full time job and that's for sure.

Our friend who's going to housesit came over this evening to get the lowdown on how we do things and where things are. She house and chicken sat for Jessie and Vergil this summer and she's going to be fine. I've known her since she was a child and she and Lily were good friends. She's all grown up now, has a boy of her own. Hank and Rachel are going to come and stay at the end of the week before we get home. They love Lloyd. I know the house will be in good hands, the cats and chickens too.

It's been raining on and off since last night. We got a mighty fine real pour-down earlier this afternoon. The kind that you'd have to pull over and wait out if you were driving. Luckily, I got home from town right before that happened. As much as I've yearned for the rain, it's not really bringing me a lot of joy. I don't think that there's any sort of weather that would have much of an effect on my mood right now. I'm not in a deep dark place nor am I in a panic place but I can tell I'm doing a lot of dissociation and that's certainly a signal that not all is well. I try to remember to breathe and to focus on what's happening right in front of me. It makes me a much less fun grandmother. I know that. And not much fun as a wife or mother either.
Things will change. They always do.
And just being around the children forces me to be as present as I can be. I am quite aware that one of the reasons I've survived all of these years is because I've had children and now grandchildren. One can't call it in when lives depend on you. One cannot simply crawl into a hole and wait it out. And children are so nonjudgemental about things like how you look or whether you are being merry or not. They take you as you are, as long as you are loving and they trust you. In some ways the children in our lives know us better than anyone. Perhaps not in conscious ways, but in the deepest, most profound ways. Mermer may not be as silly on some days as she is on others but because the children know I love them without reservation and because they know what I have in my heart and in my purse too, (gum and Chapstick), it's okay.
They know I love them and they know I love their mothers and those facts alone offer a safe place to be.
And sometimes, that is all I need to get me out of bed, to get me on my feet, to make me remember that no matter how low my own opinion of myself is, there truly is a purpose in my life. Every bit of love that I can offer my grandchildren is going to someday be of benefit in their lives.
I don't know much but I do know that.

Off now to tend the soup I've made with last night's roasted chicken shawarma and onions, greens and tomatoes and sweet potatoes and rice and carrots and corn. The loaf of bread I made doesn't thrill me. I have an awful lot to learn about using sourdough. But that's okay. I have an awful lot to learn about many things.
THAT never ends. And thank heavens.

Now. If I can just stay awake for three more hours, all will be well.

Love...Ms. Moon





Monday, October 14, 2019

The Sweet, Sweet Smells Of Rain And Fabuloso


My hired help showed up this morning around 10:30 and I put them straight to work. First I gave them each brooms and assigned half of the porch to Owen and half to Gibson. This job seemed somewhat daunting to the boys. There were a lot of leaves on it, blown in from the trees in the yard, many of them in hard-to-reach places behind flower pots.
"You have so many plants!" Owen said. "It adds to the awesomeness of your house but it's really hard to sweep around them!"
Well, he was correct on both counts. While they broom-bristled leaves about I scrubbed the glass top table and told them about my wild yeast. Owen thought that was really cool. We went into the kitchen to smell the starter and look at the bubbles. Neither one of them had ever heard about sourdough bread.
"Is it sour?" they asked.
I assured them that it was.
After several breaks and glasses of ice water, the porch was at least somewhat cleared of leaves.
We moved on to the windows in the doors in the hallway, front and back, and the panes beside them. This went somewhat better although they used up all of the glass cleaner and about half a roll of paper towels. I did the highest parts. I also determined that my all-purpose cleaning solution of Fabuloso, white vinegar and water works quite well on glass. The last chore was the sills on the back porch. I know I've said this before but the dirt in Lloyd is black as night. In fact, when I first wiped the table down and showed them what the rag looked like, Owen screeched.
I mean, it is BLACK. And sort of sticky. I think it's because of the over hundred years of trains rumbling by on the tracks behind my house.
But after the sills looked a lot better, cleared of at least some of their Lloyd dirt, I offered to make them toasted cheese sandwiches. I gave them samples of the sourdough bread to see if they wanted me to use that or regular bread.
They loved the sourdough.
And then it was time to head over to the Wakulla River. Since school was out today, there were quite a few people but it wasn't crazy. Jessie and her boys and Lily and Maggie all joined us and we set up our blankets and towels and chairs and snacks in the shade and the fun began. There was a bus from a church and it appeared that all of the little boys they'd transported were playing football. Owen, instead of jumping in the river started watching the game.
"Go ask if you can play," said Lily, but of course that's hard for a ten-year old boy. Finally when the bigger guys took a break, Owen did join them and by the time the older ones came back, he was fully invested in playing. And he played football with those boys for about two hours.
"Come get in the river and cool off," we'd tell him when he came over to slug down some water.
"No," he'd say, and then he'd jump back into the game instead of the water.
I think he had a great time.
Gibson and Maggie and August played together in the water and on the sand. Jessie had brought a big blow-up float and they enjoyed that a lot.


When I got in the water to cool off, all three of them pretended to be alligators and chomped me. "Don't chomp the mermaid, you alligators!" I kept telling them. They giggled and chomped some more. Levon mostly hung out on the sand although he was pretty interested in the snacks. Here he is sitting on Lily's lap. She did his hair for him. 


Jessie keeps saying it's time for him to get a haircut but I think he looks good with his little surfer-guy blond hair. 
And so it was a perfectly relaxing afternoon. We kept an eye on the kids and talked and people-watched. We handed out snacks. The kids can entertain themselves at the river forever although after about two hours, Levon walked up to this mama and said, "Back home now."
"Do you want to go back home?"
"Yes," he said. 
And eventually we all sighed and packed things up. Gibson had hip-hop dance class this evening and Jessie knew her boys were about worn out. 
So there were hugs and kisses and everything was stowed back into cars and off we all went to our various destinations. 
I tidied up where things had been cleaned and made up another batch of sourdough to rise. Last night I prepped a casserole made of rice and spinach and the getting-funky greens I hadn't finished during Mr. Moon's trip, so I added milk and egg and cheese and spices to the rice and cooked greens to get it ready for the oven. I watered the porch plants. The many, many porch plants which add to the awesomeness of my house. 

It's gotten warm here again today but the forecast says we're going to get rain tomorrow and the next day too. And just as I wrote that, I caught the whiff of ozone in the air and damn if it isn't sprinkling just the tiniest bit. With the rain cooler air is supposed to come and that will be tremendous. 

I've got house sitters and critter tenders lined up for the week we'll be gone. This takes some of the worry off my mind. I still haven't figured out a place for us to stay in Jacksonville. I need to do that. And look!


My bananas are getting ripe! 

It's still raining. 

Have you heard about ACE's? Adverse Child Experiences? Scoring them? And also, resilience factors? 
Jessie and I listen to the podcast Armchair Expert made by Dax Shepard and on one of his most recent shows he interviewed Nadine Burke Harris, California's surgeon general which is where I first heard about the screening program based on ACE's. It was fascinating. 
Go HERE if you'd like to learn more. 
And go HERE if you'd like to learn about the podcast. 
Shepard is quite open about the childhood sexual abuse he experienced as well as his battle with addictions, his sobriety, and his increasing awareness about how the experiences of childhood affect us throughout our entire lives. Not all of the podcasts are life-changing by any means but they're interesting and I enjoy them. 
Mostly. 
But this one in particular was pretty darn enlightening and I wish that every child in the US was screened by this criteria in order to get help in learning healthy, positive ways to deal with trauma. 
That's my little soapbox moment for today. 

Still raining. 
Damn, it smells good. 

Love...Ms. Moon



Sunday, October 13, 2019

Watching The Wheels Go By

Well, things are almost back to normal here in Lloyd. Jessie brought the boys out this morning so they could see their Boppy, and Vergil could do his packing. He left this afternoon for two weeks in India. It sounds amazing and wonderful but in reality, almost every moment of his trip is going to be taken up in the work he's doing there. But, yes, it will be in India, not, oh, say Orlando, which is pretty cool.

The boys were so happy to see their grandfather and it was imperative that TV get watched IMMEDIATELY! Mr. Moon was taking a second too long to join them in the Glen Den and August raced in to the kitchen to tell him that he'd gotten his chair all ready for them. I'm not sure what that entailed but when I went in, this is what I saw.


"What am I going to do when you're too big to sit in my chair with me?" Boppy asked. 
"Oh, maybe I won't get too big and I'll still fit," said the boy. 
Can you just imagine a big old gangly teenager sitting with his grandfather in that chair one day? 
Levon likes to sit in his own chair. 


I made pancakes and bacon, and honestly there was not a whole lot of TV watching that went on. There were other things to do with Boppy outside which may have involved the tractor. I'm not sure. I was busy in the kitchen. 
We spent some time talking about what it's going to be like with Daddy gone. August asked Boppy if maybe he could help a little. 
"I think I can do that," said Mr. Moon. 
We're all going to pitch in and help. I feel so bad though that Glen and I are leaving a week from tomorrow, first to go to Mayo for his appointment and then, on Wednesday we'll be heading to Roseland to celebrate our thirty-fifth anniversary. Bad timing for sure. I know that Jessie will be fine. She's an extremely capable woman but she'll miss her husband. He's so good at getting the boys to bed and getting up with Levon who wakes up at what some might call an unreasonable hour.
It'll be okay but they sure are going to miss that good daddy. 

Owen and Gibson need to earn some money for the book fair and so they're coming over tomorrow (they don't have school) to do some work for me. I'm not sure what I'm going to have them doing but it may involve cleaning baseboards and the spindles on the stairs. And then we might all go to the river because soon it's going to be too cool for jumping in that icy water. 
Maybe. 
It'll be good to see the big boys. I miss them. "My boys," as Maggie calls them. 

I had to run to town this afternoon to get some groceries. I'd run out of vegetables, mostly. When Mr. Moon left I bought a huge bag of "super greens" that I threw into almost every meal I made and I ate almost the entire bag. What's left is getting sort of funky. Last night we finished up the last of the  cauliflower and asparagus in the house. Do you ever wish they'd invent some different vegetables? You have your broccoli and your cauliflower, of course, and your tomatoes and your cucumbers and peppers. There are plenty of different greens to eat both cooked and raw. Green beans. Squashes. 
Peas and carrots. Haha! 
We go through onions and garlic like nobody's business. I get in such ruts. Sometimes I like to steam a big combination of vegetables, salt them, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on them and grate a little cheese over them. Long, long ago there used to be a restaurant in Tallahassee that served steamed vegetables and they were so good. Squash and potatoes and carrots and I don't even remember what all. I add green beans or asparagus, maybe some broccoli, onions, red peppers. I've also really been enjoying roasting vegetables in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. That's how I did the cauliflower and asparagus last night and I threw some halved cherry tomatoes in with them. Delicious! Added garlic is always a bonus. Maybe a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar which reduces as the vegetables cook. Balsamic vinegar is one of the best inventions ever as far as I'm concerned. 

I must be hungry. 

I wish I had something more interesting to talk about but the honest truth is- I do not. It's going to be a busy week and the next week is going to be, well, interesting. I'm trying not to get too anxious about what's going to happen at Mayo. I wonder if the supposed "best doctors" there will have some answers. I am grateful that after we leave there we will have the peace and the serenity of the river, the sweetness of time alone in the little cabana of my childhood dreams, and the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean which has been a sustainer of my soul since I was a little girl. Not to mention the beautiful pool with the spitting lions guarding each corner and the bamboo surrounding it all to make its own percussive music when the breeze picks up and feels like playing. 

You gotta hold on to something. Love and Roseland do it for me. 

Love...Ms. Moon





Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Man Is Home


I was wrong about the time that Mr. Moon would be arriving home. He called me last night and said that it would be sometime around noon today and so it was.
As I had predicted he was exhausted. He first said that he wasn't going to worry about unpacking but just as I figured he would, he felt like he had to get it out of the way and so in came all of the uneaten snacks, the clothes, the equipment. I started in on laundry and by 2:30 the clotheslines were full of now-clean jeans and camo wear and jackets and socks. He took a shower and changed into his shorts (there's a sixty degree temperature difference between where he was and where he now is) and got into his chair and I made him a little lunch and after he ate it he fell asleep and I laid down on the bed and took a nap too.
It was just a lazy day.
He had a good time and said that on this trip "no one was an asshole" which is not a guarantee on these jaunts. I think he missed my cooking. Not only was he served peas but also cooked carrots, another one of his least-favorites, and said that the cook had not bothered with even salt or pepper. They took their breakfasts at the local hockey rink which was one of the main features of the tiny village where they were staying but the same woman did the cooking there as at the place where the hunters were staying.
I really had nothing of importance or excitement to relate. I showed him my sourdough starter and made him sniff it. He was hugely impressed.
Okay. Not really. But he did like the toasted cheese sandwich I made for him on a slice of it.

And that's been it.
The mystery of where the hens are laying is still unsolved. I am actually contemplating having to buy eggs which is ridiculous when you're feeding a dozen chickens. Of course, four of those are roosters but still.
We are parched and dry. The leaves crackle and crunch beneath my feet as I walk to hen house and clothesline. The next rain forecast is for Wednesday and I would not bet the ranch on that one. No matter what the weather feels like, it is time and past time to plant the fall garden. Hard to contemplate as the temperatures are still in the upper eighties. Watering will have to be involved.

Last night Lily sent a picture of Maggie pretending to be scared by zombies.


I'm sharing the picture because it shows the outfit she was wearing in all of its garden-boot accessorized glory. A friend of Lily's gave Maggie a bag of outgrown clothes that her own daughter wore and they are fancy. Should we call this ensemble the Sweetheart of the Garden Rodeo? 

And this morning, Jessie sent a picture of August wearing what he had picked out to wear today. 


He loves his overalls. That makes me so happy. 
So does his bedhead hairdo. 

The big trial that I spoke of a few weeks ago has finally ended. One of the defendants was found guilty of murder and the jury deadlocked on the decision concerning his girlfriend. A mistrial was declared for her. The person we know who was on the jury is Lily and Jason's roommate and our friend, Lauren. I know she's glad for it to be over. The jury was actually sequestered for the deliberations. It's a strange case and most of us think (although I have not spoken to Lauren so I don't  have all the facts) that the victim's wife's family was responsible for hiring a hit on him but no one's been arrested for that yet. 
Divorce gone bad, people. It will be interesting to hear what Lauren has to say about the experience. 

And so it goes. The man is home, my red passion flower finally has a few blooms on it, the White House seems to be imploding but who knows? I'll tell you something I DO know- for some reason I am on the White House official FB page and it has become nothing more than absolute propaganda for Trump. For some reason, this scares me as much as anything. 
In my darkest moments I do believe that Orwell's "1984" is finally here. 
In my most hopeful moments, I try to believe that we shall overcome. 
If only one could harvest hope from thin air the way one can harvest yeast. Perhaps we can, believing that it is always there even if invisible to the naked eye. 
But it must be fed. Like the yeast, we must feed it. 
I'm going to try. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Friday, October 11, 2019

Another Ramble

I did laundry today for the first time in at least five days.
The last time I went five days without doing laundry I was in Mexico, I'm sure.
It was good to brush up on my skills (haha!) because Mr. Moon should be home some time early in the wee hours before the sun comes up. He is going to be so tired.
And he is going to have a lot of laundry.
Which is fine. I really don't mind doing laundry but it has been nice to have a break from it and to be honest- I've taken a break from a lot of household chores and instead spent a lot of time with kids and grandkids, making sourdough starter and eating peas.
No. Not really. I've eaten exactly one small can of Le Sueur peas but I surely have made myself some delicious meals. Tonight I'll be eating what was left from last night's salmon and braised greens and steamed vegetables. They were all so good. I've been trying very hard to eat more rationally and I think I've done well. Simple foods for the most part, but delicious, too. Stepping back and looking at each and every thing I eat is illuminating. The "just this once won't hurt" philosophy may stand up logically but it's always way more than once that I make choices that are not exactly eating all healthy and shit, as I've been known to say. Overall, my diet has never been horrible but I've been sliding down the slippery slope of being a bit too laissez faire about it all, reasoning that life is short and food is one of life's great pleasures. And this is true but it's not the entire truth and we all know that.
I'm not giving up anything although white sugar is easy for me to avoid for the most part and really- who needs that? But I'm not being weird about it. I refuse to slip down that other slope of disordered eating wherein a slice of cheese causes great guilt and consternation. Life IS too short for that shit.
Well, we shall see.

My sourdough bread does taste delicious and I love the texture. The crust is what crust should be and the insides are chewy but not too dense. It is satisfying bread. I am most pleased with it and it is easy to eat just a little of it. For anyone who is curious, I used this website as a guide to making my starter. I followed the directions closely but not obsessively. As someone in the notes for a sourdough bread recipe said- people have been making bread for thousands of years without the use of either weighing devices or measuring cups.
Or clocks, for that matter but still- following those guidelines certainly worked for me and I like the advice it gives about how it simply takes longer in some instances than in others for the yeast to start working but be patient- it will.

It was so lovely cool this morning and my walk was quite bearable. Jessie brought the boys out and we met Lily and Jason and Magnolia June at the Hilltop for our lunch. I've written about the Hilltop many times. It is the furthest thing in the world from either "fine" or "healthy" dining but one can make do there and it's always enjoyable. For one thing, it's not really a restaurant so the children aren't expected to sit at a table and behave while the food is prepared. We can go out back to the tables under shelter and the littles can find sticks to hit things with or do other things which are so pleasing and enjoyable to children. Today I read a few books to August and Maggie while we waited and also, I made a little video to send to Boppy. Here's a screen shot of August and Maggie from that video. Don't bother trying to play it. It won't play. It's just a picture.


Maggie looks forlorn but she was not. How could she be in that dress? You can't really tell but she was wearing hot pink garden boots too. When she walked in with her parents everyone in the place smiled. She is so full of sass, that one. August's message to Boppy was that he loved him and that he'd like to watch TV with him soon. I'm sure that Mr. Moon liked that. We all ate our very adequate lunches and talked and when it came time for good-byes, August and Maggie were happy to give kisses. Even to each other. August came up to me and reached for my face and I said, "What do you want, love?" and he said, "You," and I bent over and he kissed me right on the lips. 
I was delighted because his voluntary kisses are rare as emeralds. 
When Maggie was in her car seat, I went to kiss her again and she refused. "I already gave you my kiss," she said, majestic as a queen on her throne. 
As well she had. 
Jessie drove me home and I gave the boys tiny little ice cream cones that I had in my freezer because they'd been promised a treat and they sat on the back steps and were in heaven, licking the chocolate ice cream and crunching the cones. August knew that those things were in my freezer and he's been after me for days to give him one so he was finally satisfied. 
And there was some hallway dancing to a CD of Jessie's band, The Cicada Ladies, and then there was playing with toys and Lincoln Logs and trike riding in the hallway and the pushing of the stroller with babies in it. 
After they left I got the laundry off the line, folded it and put it away, made up the bed with the clean, sun-dried sheets and pillowcases and thought about how good that's going to feel to my husband when he gets home. 

It's been a fine week in Lloyd for me here on my own. I can't deny that. As I've so often said, I love solitude. It's not really about not having to take care of anyone but myself. It's about not constantly checking the clock to see where I should be in my day but letting the time flow as it will, filled with whatever it is I feel like doing. Of course, without the knowledge that my husband would indeed be coming home, this would all feel quite different. I am certain of that. And I seriously doubt that he feels guilty about wanting and needing to be out in the cold woods of Canada with guys and dogs and there should be no guilt on my part about wanting and needing to be here at home with only my cats and my chickens. 
But of course I am a woman so there is a little bit. Of guilt. But then I've always said that guilt is my default emotion so this is to be expected. 


The last of the zinnias, I think. Oh, how I have enjoyed them this year! How brave and hardy they are to have survived this summer's late heat, the lack of rain. Even under those circumstances they have bloomed and given succor to the butterflies and bees as well as brilliant color and sweet cheer to my hallway. 

Today is National Coming Out Day and I am humbled by all of the LGBTQ people I know and love who have done exactly that- come out- publicly and proudly. We who have never felt the need for any reason to declare our gender, our sexual preferences, or to have to defend our choices in who we love will never know what that's like. My hope and my belief is that one day no one will feel that need. That a child will no more have to tell their parents that they are gay or transgendered or bisexual or pan-sexual or gender fluid or whatever, than I had to tell my parents that I was, uh, straight. 
That such labels will be unnecessary and that lives will simply be lived and that loves will simply be loved. 
Of course, this is one more issue that we are having to deal with again as Trump and his minions fight to take back the rights of humans who do not fit into the cis-gender mold which have been so valiantly and often so bloodily fought for. 
It should not even be an issue in any way shape or form. But we are not nearly there yet. 

Well. 

It's Friday. The moon is almost full. My husband will be home by this time tomorrow and I will love the one I'm with, as we should all be able to. 

Love to YOU...Ms. Moon





Thursday, October 10, 2019

Lagniappe


Oh my stars. It is good.

The Beauty Of Earthly Magic


I have done it! I have captured the wild yeast!
Today was Day 6 of the yeast-making project and just as was predicted, my starter did indeed begin to double in size after a few hours which means it's ready. It smells fruity and yeasty and sour. So I keep the starter in the refrigerator and every week I have to take some out and feed it and water it to keep it alive if I haven't used some for baking, at which point I'd use what I removed and give it more food and water. Its food is flour.
The success I've had in this process so far has been almost inappropriately thrilling to me. I mean- THIS is how risen bread was first made. Okay, not with store-bought flours from modern wheat and so forth, but the principles of capturing the yeast and the fermentation which causes the bubbling rising of the dough are the same. Have you read about this? 
In theory, this starter could be passed down for generations although I seriously doubt it will be. But I think about how it must have been not that long ago when packaged yeast wasn't a thing yet and I'm sure that when a woman got married she carried some of her mama's starter with her to her new home and that mama had probably gotten her starter from her mother and so on and so forth.
Like RNA- passed from one woman to another.
And if a woman lost her starter due to any number of things that could befall it, it would have been a major catastrophe, especially if she was isolated from other bakers of bread. I think of the women snowbound during the endless winters in the midwest or say...Alaska. It would have been nearly impossible, I think, to create another starter in such frigid conditions. The yeast needs not only food and water, it needs heat and that would have been hard to come by in a cabin heated by a wood fire where the temperatures probably never creeped above fifty or so.
Oh, I ramble.
But all of this reminds me of the first time that I was truly struck by the fact that cooking was in my blood. I'd been cooking for years already and was probably about fifteen years old and I knew I enjoyed it and I knew I could do it but at a primitive encampment on a mountain in North Carolina I was simmering vegetables in a cast iron dutch oven over a fire I had built myself to make into a stew and I had one of my few moments of perfect epiphany.
I was meant to do this.
So it makes perfect sense that fifty years later this little experiment has thrilled me so.

Last night, too impatient to wait for the finished product, I made a dough of some of the discarded stuff from the past two days' feedings, white flour, whole wheat flour, and oat bran, and set it to hopefully rise in a thick white crockery bowl with a red and white checked dish towel covering it and it did indeed rise beautifully overnight. I gave it a second rise today and baked it in a preheated and covered cast iron pot (you know how much I adore my cast iron) and this is what happened.


I have not yet cut into it but I will for my supper. I think it is beautiful. 

Speaking of the cast iron pot, I have a little story. 
Yesterday, on my way home from town, I stopped by the Bad-Girls-Get-Saved-By-Jesus Thrift store and they had a lovely, seemingly unused enamel-clad dutch oven. Not a Le Creuset but one made by Lodge, who makes quality cast iron ware. It cost ten dollars. And for some reason, I did not buy it. I picked it up, I set it down. I left and came home. 
And last night as I was mixing up that dough I thought about that pot and kicked myself for not buying it. Jeez! 
And so this morning Lily met me there after Maggie's dance lesson and guess what- it was gone. 
Someone was a lot smarter than me. 
Ah, sigh. When will I ever learn my lesson? 
But my own non-enameled cast iron small pot makes a pretty loaf too. 

Lily and I had a good time at the Children's and Maggie got a toy baby-carrier and a birthday teddy bear to go in it and I found Lily a pristine leather handbag for five bucks that retails for around a hundred and fifty so it was a good day anyway. 

Last night I turned off the air conditioner and opened the window above my bed and slept as sweetly as someone whose Baku has eaten all of her nightmares. I did dream about a house and there were many, many of the same elements in it of mess and so much stuff but at least in this one there was an attic filled with antiques, although none very valuable, and people were showing up to buy them with money in hand. Lis was there and she was advising me on the worth of things and so there was a positive element to it. I know the house represents my life, my mind, my spirit in these dreams, no matter which dream version of a house it is, and it is good to know that I recognize the value even in the clutter and disorder and confusion and sometimes filth of it all. The dream was more interesting than depressing, more hopeful than despairing. 
The air conditioner is still off. Has been all day. 

Mr. Moon is on his way home, I think. Tonight I will eat salmon with braised greens and steamed vegetables and some sourdough bread. Jack will sleep up against my hip, solid and comforting, and the sweet, yeasty air of Lloyd will fill my room. 
We shall see what I capture in my dreams. 

Take care, y'all. 

Love...Ms. Moon

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

No Title


That's the temperature on my back porch right now and you cannot believe how pleasant it feels. The difference between 83 degrees and 93 degrees is vast. Although the temperatures are still way higher than normal, there is a tangible feeling of fall. It's the way the light falls, the way the air sounds as it breezes through the dried and drying pecan leaves. Some would say that's crazy talk but it's true. I'm sure that the smells are different too but it's harder to define those although I think that heat has its own smell.
Mr. Moon went to a hemp-growing information thing before he left and as swag he picked up a rain gauge (which it would appear we're never going to need again), a bag of crushed crab shell fertilizer, and that thermometer. The fertilizer is by far the most valuable thing he got but I love that thermometer. It's exactly what I wanted, although if it were metal instead of plastic I'd like it even better. But plastic or not, it pleases me.


I've hung it at exactly my eye-level and I check it several times a day. 
Old technology but good technology. 
Of course Mr. Moon will have to bend over to read it. Sometimes I think of how very different our perspectives on everything are. He is almost a foot and a half taller and he sees things that I never do-such as the top of the refrigerator which I can go for years in blissful ignorance about its state of dustiness. Or shall we say...filth?
He sees the tops of almost everyone's head. Think about that! Can you imagine? Maybe some of you can but I'm almost exactly the average height for an American woman and I generally only see the tops of the heads of children. He sees spider webs that I never do. And once, when we were just getting together, I stood on a chair to reach for something and as such, was about the same height as he was and I realized that it is actually and indeed a lot warmer a foot and a half higher than at my height. Especially in winter with the heat on. No wonder we feel the ambient temperature in the house so differently although menopause helped even us out there. 
We quite literally live in two different worlds even as we live in the same world. 
And I have long had the opinion that if he sees dirt where I do not and if it bothers him, he should clean it up. 
Mostly it must not bother him. 

So I woke up this morning and everything hurt and felt so blah. Still, I joined Jessie and the boys at the library for babytime story hour and that always cheers me. I do love all of the little ones, the "big" kids like August, the toddlers, the real true babies in arms. There was a baby there today who was probably about six months old who had a full head of reddish hair and whom Jessie and I decided looked exactly like a baby should look. She was pudgy and darling and obviously the apple of her skinny red-headed mama's eye. August sat on his own feet in the most uncomfortable-looking position (I think he's double-jointed) the entire time, as close to the lady who led the songs and read the books as he could get. He was the only one who never did get up and wander around. He paid close attention to the stories and participated in all of the songs. Levon sat in his mama's lap and I pretended he was an apple and took bites out of him. He liked that and after I'd take a bite out of one foot, he'd move the other one to where I could chomp on it. 
There is nothing in this world I love more than making a baby or a child laugh. That may be my purpose in life. 
After the stories and songs and the stickers were given out Jessie picked out books for the kids and I read to August. He sat in my lap and we read a Curious George book about Hanukkah which he loved. We read another one about two scaredy-cat kids named Sam and Kerry. And then he picked out this one. 


And in my prejudiced mind I thought, "Ooh boy. Another book of Japanese folk tales" because honestly, some of those books can be a bit dense and too sophisticated for a small child but I was so glad he chose it. It was a beautiful book and August loved it as much as I did. In it, a little boy has a terrible dream about a demon with three heads riding a dragon that was so scary that the boy could not sleep and he kept going to different adults to tell them about his dream and to get some comfort but they were all so obsessed with their own bad dreams and lack of sleep that they all told him to go away. Finally he went to the river because the river would listen to him and there he found a Baku, a creature who loves to eat bad dreams and the Baku followed him home and ate everyone's nightmares and the entire village could finally have sweet dreams and sleep in peace, including the little boy. 
This engendered a lot of conversation and later, at lunch when we were discussing it, August told me that when he was in North Carolina he'd had such a bad dream that he'd cried. I asked him what it was about and he said that his legs had been cut off! I told him that that was SO scary and that I'd had a dream where all of my teeth fell out and he agreed that this was scary too. 
"When I woke up," I said, "I was so glad that it had just been a dream!" 
"Did you look in the mirror to make sure?" he asked. 
Oh, that boy. 
We also talked about why the Baku found nightmares so delicious and I said that maybe it was like sour pickles- some people LOVE sour pickles but some people do not like them at all. 
"I don't like them," he said. 
"I do!" I said. "And if you had a sour pickle and you didn't like it, I could be like the Baku and eat it for you!" 
He contemplated this and I think he understood. 
How I love being privy to a child's heart and thoughts. And being a grandparent means that you can do this without having to focus on anything else. At least for a little while. It is such a gift. 

And so I had all of that to carry home with me and still, I've felt sad today. Perhaps because it is John Lennon's birthday. He would have been seventy-nine years old which is absolutely unbelievable. I wonder what the world would be like had he not been taken from us at such a young age. Would it be different? Would we be in this situation where we have a president who, when threatened with impeachment replies that no, no. He won't be participating in that particular event. 
As if subpoenas were invitations to garden parties. 
A president who can't speak or spell English. A president who has been accused by countless women of sexual harassment. 
A president who is a racist. 
A president who tweets about his "great and unmatched wisdom". 
And part of a country and a political party who think he's just the finest thing since toilet paper was invented? 

I don't know. I just know that I miss John Lennon and his truth. 
We all tend to think of John now as the soft-singing writer and performer of "Imagine" which is a beautiful song and one which, it turns out, Yoko had as much to do with as John did. 
But there was the other John. This John. 




No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of Tricky Dicky is gonna Mother Hubbard soft soap me. 

Timely, much?

Well. See you tomorrow.

Love...Ms. Moon

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Chitter Chatter


This is the sight right now that greets visitors or travelers-through when they get to the flashing light in Lloyd. The old store is crumbling and the windows have been broken and the roof is falling in. That store was open back in the 1970's when I lived in Lloyd before on a piece of land farther north right off the same road I live on now. Even then the store had an air of dissolution about it and I don't think I ever went through the doors. We did our local shopping at Ms. Ruby's which was across the street. Ms. Ruby's was in a beautiful old wooden building with a front porch and a tin roof and she sold a bit of everything from your standard beer and milk to hardware and cheap toys. She told me that she sold the toys because there were kids in Lloyd whose parents couldn't get to Tallahassee or Monticello and they needed something for birthdays and Christmas. She sold some produce, sausage, bread, grits. Things like that. Staples. Ms. Ruby was a nice woman and I liked talking to her. She had a sign on her beer cooler that said, "If you break a six-pack I'll break your arm."
She may have been nice but she didn't tolerate bullshit.
Her store burned down sometime after I left Lloyd and there was some sort of political motivation going on. It was a weird time in Lloyd and there was a highly debated issue concerning pipelines of some sort and whether or not they should go through Lloyd. How this involved Ms. Ruby I do not know but I do know that the main enemy of the pipeline people was a guy who lived in the house I live in now. He eventually got the move defeated.
But Ms. Ruby's store is no more and never will be again. She died not long after I moved back but not before I got to talk to her some. She told me that she'd lived in this house herself when she was a child and her mama had a quilting frame in the hallway and that she'd seen "something" supernatural happen that she would not describe no matter how much I gently pushed her.
She just didn't want to talk about it.
I've never seen or heard anything weird happen here except for a few things that very much alive humans have caused. Thank goodness.
Anyway, when I moved back to Lloyd fifteen years ago, an extremely nice gentleman named Israel Lawrence owned and ran that store in the picture above. He kept it tidy and neat and he and his wife were two of the most gracious people I've ever met. He had a picture of himself and Bill Clinton behind the counter. He was wearing a blue Polyester suit and Bill was holding a saxophone. He also had a shotgun behind the counter, or so I've heard (well, I heard it from him) because Lloyd had its wild-west days when the whole crack epidemic was happening.
Mr. Lawrence got sick though, and had to give the store up. It was so sad. Eventually it was sold to a couple from Tallahassee, according to the word on the street, who planned to make it into a shop where the wife could sell her arts and crafts.
Maybe the crack epidemic never truly ended.
However, that happened over a year ago and not one damn thing has been done and the building is falling into decay and is fast becoming not only an eyesore but a danger and as of yesterday, when I first saw that chair, obviously a place to dump your shit.
Great.

Hmmm...
Didn't mean to go into a History-of-Lloyd post but I guess I just did.
I took the picture of the chair this morning on my walk. I had thought I'd maybe just spend the whole day here again but then I thought that it would be sort of fun and crazy and daring to go get a pedicure and I needed a few things from Publix. There's a nail salon right next to Publix where I shop and where Lily works and although it's not the best, it's certainly convenient and extremely reasonable.
Well. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I took a shower after my walk and even shaved my legs! and scrubbed my feet the best I could without the use of bleach and got dressed and drove to the little strip mall where Publix and the nail salon are and went in and was immediately assigned to a guy for my pedicure. He was older. Probably not older than me but certainly older than the usual nail salon employee and I had a feeling from the beginning that this might not go well. It's so hard for me to rationalize getting a pedicure in the first place due to First World Beige Woman Guilt (just being honest) and I usually never get one unless it's when my daughters can all get together and go, making it a party. But you know- Mr. Moon's out of town, I'm on my own, it's sort of like I'm on a vacation...blah, blah, blah.
So.
First thing that happened is that I do believe my pedicurist and another employee were discussing the state of my feet. Look- I get bad calluses and also, I go barefoot a lot and when I'm not barefoot I'm usually just wearing flip flops and they don't exactly keep the black dirt of Lloyd from my soles. That's just the way it is and it's one of the reasons I like to get a pedicure sometimes. Face it- my feet need professional help. And honey, I tip real well. And yeah, maybe they were talking about the condition of my feet and I can understand that. But then the guy starts in with those fucking clippers to cut away my toenail cuticles. I hate those things. And this time, it HURT! I actually, for once, spoke up and said to the guy, "That hurts!"
His English, although better than my whatever-language-he-speaks-is, wasn't very good but I finally got the message across and he looked at me accusingly and said, "Too much skin!"
Oh. Well. Sorry. I grow cuticles.
He lightened up a little bit and I sucked it up and got through that experience and then, when he started in with the cheese grater and the pumice stone he said, "So dirty!"
Well. Yeah. But it was ingrained dirt that could only be removed with the tools of his trade.
The cheese grater. The pumice stone. Whatever that stuff all is.
But it made me feel, well, shamed. You know?
And his so-called massage was a joke. I swear he only did one leg.
I shaved my legs for this?
And to top it all off, the man somehow figured out how to hurt me applying the polish.
It was just a miserable experience.

And did I complain? Did I say anything to the manager? Did I refuse to give him a tip?
No, no, and of course no. I gave him a very decent tip and he even said, "Thank you, lady!" as well he should have.
He was probably expecting me to stab him.
Lesson learned- don't go back to that place.

But shopping at Publix was a pleasure, as always. Although when the guy who weighed out my little piece of salmon asked me how I was doing and I said, "I'm good, how are YOU?" and he said, "Today is not my best day," I felt as if something very bad had happened to him. "Are you going to be okay?" I asked.
"I hope so," he said as he tore the piece of white paper from its roll to wrap my fish in. He did not sound like he had a LOT of hope though.
I didn't know what to say. Of course me being me I wanted to say, "Tell me about it. Let's talk. You'll feel better," but you just can't do that. So what I said was, "I hope so too and I'll be thinking of you today." He seemed to appreciate that and said three times, "You have a good day."
But god, I felt bad for him. One never knows. Did he just get a terrible diagnosis? Has his woman left him? Is one of his kids sick?
Well, obviously I am thinking about him and I do hope he'll be okay.

I've felt guilty all day long because I made the chickens stay in the coop. I've been getting about one egg a day and I know they're laying somewhere. But I really do hate keeping them, uh, cooped up, and although I should do the same tomorrow there is no chance that I will. Free range is free range and my chickens are. And the last time I checked I didn't even have one egg in there.
They're probably holding those eggs in for spite.
I don't blame them.

Okay. Here's something really funny. Remember the whole thing about peas and how I always buy canned peas when Mr. Moon goes out of town because he hates them and I love them? Well, I got this picture from him last night with the text message "I hope this made you laugh."


That was his supper last night! 
And it did make me laugh. And I sent him this picture and said, "This is what you didn't get."


Which was a chicken shawarma with onions and greens and baked tomato and eggplant. 

And tonight I'm going to be making this. 


Or something resembling that. 
We don't even need to discuss the naan bread I made last night with some of the discarded sourdough starter. No. No. We don't need to talk about that at all. 
(Delicious.)

And I finished watching all eight episodes of "Unbelievable." If any of y'all have watched that, please let me know. There's one scene I really want to discuss with someone who's seen it. 
Thanks. 

Love...Ms. Moon




Monday, October 7, 2019

A Place To Time Trip


Jessie sent out an APB text this morning asking if anyone wanted to go to the Jr.
The Jr. is what we call the Tallahassee Museum because it used to be called The Jr. and change is hard. I've written about this place many times because I've been there many times. I used to go with my own kids and with their classes, too, as a chaperone. I have no idea how many times I've been there. And yet, it never fails to make me happy to go.
I was the only one available to meet with Jessie and so it was just the four of us but that was okay although it would have been a lot of fun to have Maggie and Lily there too. And well, Hank and Rachel and May and Michael but you work with what you have.
I took the interstate to get there and I have to say that the interstate is the way to go if you're looking for speed. The Jr. is way, way on the west side of town and Lloyd is to the east of Tallahassee and if you don't get on the interstate you're going to have to drive straight through FSU and all that crap unless you go another back way which despite my tens of millions of years living here I'm never quite sure about. I have absolutely no sense of direction and navigate almost entirely by landmarks and the landmarks on this other back way have changed so much over the years that I'll be driving along, wondering if I've somehow shifted universes and WHERE THE HELL AM I?
But the interstate is fine if you don't get anxiety driving on it which I sometimes do and actually did today, a little bit, but not too bad. And like I said, it was fast.
I met Jessie and the boys at the old caboose and August was so excited to drive me and his mother to St. Augustine which is where I said I'd like to go when he asked. I think the caboose may be almost every kid's favorite part of the museum and I can totally understand why.
After the train ride we meandered over to the snakes and our timing was good because we got to listen to an educational talk about them. One of the employees or volunteers, I'm not sure which, brought out a lovely oak snake and she told us things I'd never known about snakes, one of which is that they have no breast bone. This makes sense, especially knowing that a snake a quarter of the width of an egg can swallow the egg. I knew about the jaw-dislocating abilities but not that they don't have a breast bone. That allows their ribs to expand.
Cool, huh?
August had several questions, mostly about how they climb. They were good questions, too.
After the talk everyone who wanted to could touch the snake and August and I did. We had to use only two fingers and stroke it in the correct direction, very gently, so as not to harm it.

After the snakes we went on to see the animals who live in enclosures which are quite large and a part of the natural landscape of the museum while the humans are separated with fences, sometimes on wooden walkways that rise above the ground and sometimes dirt paths. This mostly depends on the animals. It's one thing to walk on the same level as the rehabilitating birds of prey, but it would be another to walk right next to the bears.


This guy (or gal) had his own bed and was actually surrounded by trees and shallow parts of the lake which the museum borders. They make sure that all of the animals have plenty of places to hide from the humans if they are not in the mood to be observed. The bears don't seem to care. Jessie and I agreed that we would love to snuggle with that bear if his claws just weren't quite as daunting. 
Every time I'm at The Jr. I think so much of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling because so much of what she writes about in that book can be found there. From the bears and panthers to the old farm with its pig and cow and chickens and cabins and out-buildings. I look at those claws and think about the bear in her book that came onto the property at night and killed their milk cow. This was one particular bear who was old and wise in the way of humans and knew how to break into pens and shelters and who had terrorized the settlers for years, depriving them of the meat they so desperately needed and had so diligently raised. Yes, this is fiction but it represented the real lives of real people who for some insane reason thought it would be a good idea to try and live and raise families in the scrubs of Florida with little more than the sweat of their brow. They spent their lives trying just to keep the grits and grease on their tables with maybe a little pork and venison and chicken here and there, some sweet potatoes, cane to boil down and make syrup of, corn for the beasts and themselves, maybe some fish now and then. The nearest settlements might be a day's wagon-ride away, at least, and that is where they would buy what they could not raise or butcher, the coffee if times were good, the sugar if times were really good, cloth for their clothing, the hardware that they had to have to hold their cabins and plows and wagons together. 
So being at The Jr. makes all of that so real to me. It's sweet to see the pretty foxes, the shy deer, the silly white squirrels as they run and chase each other through the trees but the reality of the size of a panther's paws, the bear's claws, the wolf's slow, steady stare as he walks soundlessly across his enclosure, the triangular head of the rattler, of the cotton-mouthed moccasin, are true proof of how scrappy and strong and probably desperate the early settlers of Florida were and when I say "early settlers" I include the original people who lived here, the different tribes of indigenous people who knew the forests and waterways and plants and animals and seasons and storms like we know the names of fast food restaurants and the dates of when the fair comes to town. 

I respect all of those people. 

But besides all of that, it's just a joy to be there with children. There are rituals that must be observed such as measuring themselves against the sizes of the wolves and coyotes. 
There was this. 


And then there was this.


August came up with the idea of measuring himself on all fours and Levon joined in. 

After we looked at all of the animals we went to the playground and then we had some lunch in their little cafe which was blessedly air-conditioned. It wasn't quite as hot today but it was hot enough. And humid, too. 

And then we walked to the little farm which is probably, for reasons stated above, my very favorite part. There's a blacksmith set-up and a place where they grind cane for the juice and then boil it down to make the syrup which was the pioneers' most reliable form of sweetening. There are barns and pens and then, there are the cabins that have been moved to the museum and which stand as displays. They sort of represent my dream house. 



I know that sounds crazy but there is something just so pure about such a basic dwelling. There's another cabin that houses the kitchen and I am sure that cooking in there over an open fire in the summer was a sort of hell that I could never do. The funny thing is is that these buildings are not as old as my own house is but my house was obviously built by rich folks and these were not. And yet- we have a little detached kitchen here too. That was very common because of the heat and the risk of fire. We do not use it as a kitchen, but it is there. 

Here are my boys, hanging out on the porch. 



When Hank was a baby, my then-husband and I lived in an old cabin that did have very basic and funky electricity but no running water. There was an iron pump in the backyard and that's where we got our water. We had an outhouse. And so in a small way, I have lived that life and I am so very grateful that I do not have to live that way out of necessity now. I am also so very grateful that I have done it and know what it's like and I will never take running water or air conditioning for granted in my life. 
And of course we could still get in our car and drive to Publix. I may have pumped my water but I didn't have to grow and grind my corn. 

Well, all of this is probably part of the reason I do love this old house I live in so much. Even if it's a rich-folks' house, it holds the history of times before when wood was used for heating and cooking, when the hallway was the source of a life-saving breeze, when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night (without a flashlight!) was not actually going to a bathroom but trekking across a yard to a stinky little shack with a wooden seat with a hole in it and hopefully, no snakes. 
And probably the reason I keep chickens, too. I am not and never will be a true Florida pioneer woman but I know the value of a flock. 


And if I WERE an old Florida pioneer woman, those two young roosters in the back would be on the menu and I wouldn't think twice about it. Meat for the pot and feathers for the pillows. 

It was a good day at The Jr. 
It always is. 

Love...Ms. Moon




Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sweet, Smart Boys


Vergil is leaving next week on a business trip to India and Jessie's new diet starts tomorrow. I think. Unless it started today. Not sure. Anyway, I knew that they could both use a little time to get things done that needed doing. With this diet Jessie cannot just have a day where she says, "Fuck it!" and eat a tomato sandwich and so she's trying to get things prepared that she can have on hand to make things easier. And going on a business trip to India?
That's got to require some preparation.
So I texted Jess this morning to ask if the boys would like to come over for awhile today and it turns out that yes, they would. So Vergil brought them out and we did all the fun things and they were very sweet boys. We started out doing something that I used to do with Owen and Gibson which is to play ball on the stairs. I'd asked Jessie to send over one of their very light plastic bouncy balls and she did and I took turns throwing it to first one boy and then another and they would throw it back. August sat higher up the stairs than Levon did and they are amazingly adept at catching and tossing back. So we did that for awhile and then we moved on to other things including necklace making with the new beads I'd bought.


They were perfect for August's hands although Levon isn't there yet. He handed me beads and I strung them for his necklace.


This all led, quite organically, to a contest to see who could collect the most beads off the floor into small bowls because there were a lot of beads on the floor. As one would expect. 
Although August collected the most beads, they both got prizes- a cookie after their lunch although neither one ate more than a bite or two of their gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 
They also played with the plastic cocktail glass mermaids and animals and helped me try to get a sliver of glass out of my foot. I allowed them to watch a tiny bit of TV. We read books and August brushed my hair as I read. I didn't even ask him to! He brought up the idea but I was all for it. We looked at a big book about mermaids that I have and August and I discussed the various mermaids from different cultures. It was a most sophisticated conversation. We enjoyed the porch swing for a little while although Levon didn't really like that. I do not know why. And do you know that he hardly said "truck" or "tractor" at all today? 
That's odd now that I think about it. 
At one point August pretended to talk to me on one of my old plug-in phones that I keep for emergencies and as toys and he told me he was in Canada and that he'd gotten there really fast because he wanted to see Boppy. He also informed me that they probably have TV in Canada. I agreed that this was true. 
We played the matching game and they rode the tricycles around and Levon pushed the babies in the stroller. 
And so the afternoon passed and Jack, who has been napping on my bed for the entire day got some attention and love. He tolerated it. 
We did have one small breakdown when Levon got his finger pinched in the step ladder. I felt terrible and got him an ice bag and took him to rock and cuddle and he asked for "Auga". 
"Do you want August to come and hug you?" I asked. 
He sniffed yes, that he did and I called to August and he came and hugged his brother and all was well, the tears immediately dried up and the boo-boo forgotten. My heart almost broke with the sweetness. I thought it was quite rational too. He didn't call for his mama but instead faced the reality of what his comfort options were and asked for his brother. Another logical, pragmatic boy, I think. 

Vergil came back out to get those boys and August didn't want to leave but he didn't fuss too much about it. Their other grandmother always gives her grandchildren a going-home treat which in her case is usually a piece of dried fruit and so the boys have come to expect a going-home treat from me too. Today's treat was a prune because when I opened the cabinet where the treats are kept, that's what he saw and wanted. You have to love that. Prunes are pretty delicious.

It was a good time with them but I will admit that I'm a bit exhausted. We didn't do anything physically taxing but it certainly wasn't another sedentary day. After they left I tidied up and found some more beads and a few luridly colored plastic mermaids on the floor. 

And suddenly it is raining! I've looked at the radar and this is not going to be much. A scattered shower indeed and the water is coming down in sharp, slender needles but there are a lot of them and I am grateful for each and every one. Oh, how heavenly it feels and sounds and smells! The air is cooling by the second. 

Two of the young roosters have been going at it this evening for so long that they can barely muster the energy to do more than jump over each other. Liberace and a hen finally took control of the situation and broke it up. Damn roosters! They can't help it. They're wired to try and be alpha and that requires a lot of posturing and fighting. Eventually it will include too much fucking and when the hens start getting the brunt of the hot mess that young roosters are, it'll be time to get rid of some or all of those young roosters. I'm starting to wonder if I'm really still up for chicken-tending. It's not that much work, to be honest, and we all know how happy it makes me to have chickens pecking and scratching and clucking about the yard all day. But when one wonders whether the keeping of sourdough starter might be more of a responsibility than one wants to take on, it does lead to other thoughts. 

And speaking of sourdough starter, August and Levon helped me mix mine up after I took out half and added more flour and water as you have to do. I tried to explain to August about how there is yeast in the air which will get into the flour and water and eat the flour and then it burps and farts and that's what makes the bubbles and will eventually make the bread rise. 
This charmed him of course. He wanted desperately to try and hear the teensy tiny toots of farting yeast and refused to believe that it simply could not be heard. This led me to wonder if there's a super-sonic listening device which can actually hear the gas-releasing little yeasty beasties. 
Who knows? 
Not me. 
But I do know that there is obviously yeast in the air in my kitchen because the starter is already starting to work. Whether or not I continue to the end with this project it will have been worth it, just to witness the funny little miracle of attracting yeast from seemingly nowhere, harnessing it and using it eventually to do the hard work of raising dough. 

That's enough. I'm going to fancy up a tiny frozen pizza for my supper. I think that's about all I'm capable of doing tonight. 
I'm looking forward to that. And the yeast is already included. 

Love...Ms. Moon