Telling Stories

Previously on Herban Cowgirl Adventures

(The title of this post should be read in the clipped British accent of Giles from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”)

SO much happening here at the Green Goddess Gardens lately.  I just haven’t felt like actually writing about it.  So I’ll do a quick list.

1.  Our family bought a car.  After being without one for over 2 years.  And there was much rejoicing.

Tinted windows so we can pick our noses at red lights.

Tinted windows so we can pick our noses at red lights.

2.  I started running.  Barefoot.

So. Much. Fun.

So. Much. Fun.

3.  My Uncle Billy died.

Little Boy kept our spirits up in the hospital as family sat with Uncle Billy in his last days.  We will miss him.

Little Boy kept our spirits up in the hospital as family sat with Uncle Billy in his last days. We will miss him.

4.  We had the flu for 2 weeks.

We took lots of naps.

We took lots of naps.

5.  The Herban Cowboy built a fence for the chicken yard out of old pallets.

Ooo so fancy!

Ooo so fancy!

6.  One of our new chickens got sick and died.

The new girls.  Lucy is the redhead.  Ethel is the recently deceased.  RIP sweet girl.

The new girls. Lucy is the redhead. Ethel is the recently deceased. RIP sweet girl.

7.  We cut down and chopped up 4 trees in our backyard.

"He's a lumberjack and he's okay..."

“He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay…”

8.  I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and can’t stop thinking about fresh, local food.

Wild onions found while foraging.  Dirty and stinky and yummy!

Wild onions found while foraging. Dirty and stinky and yummy!

9.  I knit the Herban Cowboy a Doctor Who scarf for his birthday.

Replica of the 4th Doctor's scarf from the episode "The Ark in Space."  Because that's how we nerd.

Replica of the 4th Doctor’s scarf from the episode “The Ark in Space.” Because that’s how we nerd.

10. We got a new (to us) computer, compliments of one of my beautiful aunts.

So big and shiny.

So big and shiny.

11.  I got back on a horse for the first time in 6 years.

You will never be as happy as I am in this picture.

You will never be as happy as I am in this picture.

Categories: Cowgirl's Livestock, Fabulous Foraging, Green Goddess Garden, Just For Fun, Kitchen Witchery, Possum Living, Stitchin' Bitchin', Telling Stories, The Homestead, To DIY For | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Through the Looking Glass

So here’s what happened…

Every once in a while, I would have to pee so badly that I totally wet my pants.  Gross.  But, hey, who doesn’t misjudge that every once in a while, right?  And then sometimes when I’d cough, I’d shoot a little pee into my britches.  Dang it, I must be really sick.  And then, I started a new thing where I was leaking a few drops of pee right after I’d just finished peeing.  Wait a minute.  Wait just one fucking minute.  That’s a lot of pants wetting.  Holy shit, I’m incontinent at 40.

Oh, hell no.

I panicked for a minute.  Then I did nothing.  I went to bed.  I breathed.  I cried a little, and I let that be okay.  I napped.

When I was finished doing nothing, I started gathering information.  My herbal mentor Susun Weed has a new book, “Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way.”  I have all her other books (autographed of course, thankyouverymuch), but I hadn’t bought this one yet.  Pissing myself was a clear indication that I needed help “down there.”  I ordered the book.  I looked up some basic information on incontinence and bladder problems.

Gathering information also meant examining my lifestyle.  Here’s what it boiled down to, kids:

I began every day with 4-5 cups of strong coffee on an empty stomach.  Of course I never ate breakfast, because for some reason (sarcasm!) I wasn’t hungry.  When I finally ate something, even though it might be nutritious, I’d have to wash it down with tea or diet soda.  And then have lots more tea and/or diet soda throughout the afternoon.  By late afternoon, I was always tired and wired.  Clearly I needed a glass of wine.  Of course, what started out as a glass or two a night quickly escalated into an entire bottle.  Every night.  After which I would pass out until 2 or 3 am.  At which time I would wake up SO thirsty and have to go make myself a glass of ice water.

Every day.  And every night.  I don’t have to be a doctor to understand how unhealthy this is.  The Herban Cowboy, bless his heart, kept trying to find a reason for my incontinence besides me.

“I’ve heard that it can be triggered by a virus!”
“Seriously dude?  You think it’s a virus instead of the copious amounts of kidney poison I ingest on a daily basis?”

So now I was a little better organized, mentally.  I knew what I needed to stop putting into my body, and I knew what I needed to give my body to nourish it.  Now it was time to put it into practice.

At the beginning of October, I stopped drinking wine, coffee, soda, and tea.  Instead I drank strong herbal infusions of nettle, linden, and comfrey leaf.  I’d gotten into terrible habits of buying pre-packaged convenience food, fast food or other restaurant food.  So I stopped eating at restaurants, and made food at home, eliminated snack food, and stopped eating after 9pm.  I also started doing pelvic clenches (kegels) several times a day to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles.

Yay for me!  Oh wait no.  First there was withdrawal.  Horrible, horrible withdrawal.  Keep in mind, I have been a hardcore caffeine addict since 1987. Mountain Dew was my gateway drug, that evil temptress, and I have been chasing buzzes ever since.  So this was a BIG DEAL.  I tried to taper off gradually, but I still got slammed by headaches that seemed to SOAK my brain in pain.  For days.  Extreme fatigue, confusion, cloudy thoughts, nausea, shaking, sweating, anxiety, and never-before-seen levels of irritability.  The only thing that kept me from backsliding was knowing that it would only be a matter of time before I’d have to face this AGAIN.  No thank you.  As Winston Churchill once said, “When you’re going through hell, KEEP GOING.”

I worked through a lot of feelings.  Anger at myself for allowing my health to deteriorate to this level.  Shame at being caught in a preventable state of health.  Humiliated at having to face myself.  Grief at having to stop a lifestyle that felt so GOOD.  Jealous because others get to enjoy things that I have to STOP enjoying.  Facing selfish feelings of “It’s not fair!”  Wanting to scream and cry and hit things.

I didn’t feel “right” again for almost two weeks.  I thought I’d never make it.  But I did.  I have the Herban Cowboy to thank for most of it.  He made me my “witch’s brew” herbal infusions every night.  He did mountains of dishes and took out loads of trash.  He did laundry and made dinners and played with Little Boy.

Goofing off at the Piggly Wiggly. No more restaurant food. We get our food from grocery stores, farmers markets and backyard gardens.

Since the withdrawal has ended, I’ve found it easier to cope with the loss of habits that were destructive, but nevertheless I enjoyed immensely.  And even though it’s only been a month, I’m already starting to see HUGE differences.  I’m sleeping better than I have in years.  The pants wetting incidents have stopped altogether.  My family is eating better foods, and we’re eating more meals together.  We are saving incredible amounts of money on NOT buying wine, coffee, soda, tea, and restaurant food.  And I no longer have to take ibuprofen daily for lower back pain.

Olive oil, onion, garlic, sweet potatoes, kale, and sausage. Behind my “Haiti” mortar and pestle is the homemade bread we ate with it. I’m getting spoiled on homemade food.

I still have a long way to go in building optimal health.  I have to make my new habits as hard to break as my old habits.  I have to get more exercise, even though I bike and walk everywhere.  I have to wait for my goldenrod tincture (5 weeks until I can strain and use it) to support urinary health.  And I have to be patient with myself, and remember that healing is an action verb.

Wild goldenrod flowers chopped up in a mason jar. Add 100 proof vodka, let sit 6 weeks, then strain into a dropper bottle. Goldenrod tincture, taken by the dropperful.

Categories: Telling Stories, Wise Woman Way | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Room of Her Own

I have a confession.  I have my own bedroom.  It’s glorious.  And it saved my marriage.

My husband and I have VERY different styles of housekeeping, VERY different ideas of how to live in your personal space.  I must have the sheets tucked in at the foot of the bed, he needs them untucked.  I like my things organized in a very specific way, he throws everything around in piles.  We both snore.  Etc, etc.

I was going crazy trying to keep it clean and organized.  He was stressed about making tidiness a priority, which is just not natural for him.  Neither of us was sleeping well.

So we decided to try separate bedrooms.  And the most wonderful things started happening.

First of all, both of us slept better.  We each had the freedom to stretch out, toss and turn, snore, fart, get up to pee, whatever, without disturbing the other.  The Herban Cowboy wakes in the wee hours occasionally, and he discovered that he’s now free to get up during those times and get some writing done, without fear of waking me.  He can also get up earlier in the morning and get to work earlier, increasing his productivity there and leaving me to sleep until Little Boy wakes me.

My summer bed (I’m not a bed maker). For the cooler months, I add a comforter and one more cat. Library book on the bedside table. Sewing machine at the foot of the bed.

We also have more sleeping options this way.  When Little Boy has a bad dream, there’s plenty of room for him to crawl in with me.  The Herban Cowboy and I like to sneak afternoon naps together.  When someone comes to visit, they get my room as guest room and I crawl in the Man Cave with my guy.

Dresser with yarn stash (and a Breyer horse from childhood), vanity with pile of Little Boy’s endless artwork.

In addition to enhancing our sleeping lives, there were other benefits to this arrangement that became clear after the change was made.  The house became easier to keep straightened up.  When we shared a bedroom, everyone’s stuff was all over the house.  I would put his stuff in the bedroom to be put away, but of course he never would.  Piles would form.  I would beg him to clean them.  Sometimes I cleaned the piles for him.  The extra bedroom was supposed to be a studio for art and exercise, but it always seemed to be too cluttered to work in.

My closet. I have no fashion sense, so everything is black. And I hate shoes, so I only own 3 pair.

Now that the rooms are separate, when I pick up, everyone’s stuff goes to their respective rooms.  The Herban Cowboy’s notebooks, papers, pens, cards, dirty socks, and other assorted random crap go directly into the black hole of his room and I no longer have to worry about it.  The stress of dealing with his crap is gone.  The stress he felt trying to conform to my lifestyle is gone.  He is happier to do things like dishes and laundry now that he’s not being hounded constantly to cleancleancleanCLEAN.

The Man Cave. I don’t often enter this room. I close the door and leave it alone. Just baaaack away slooowly…. Wait. Did- did the laundry pile just… MOVE? Holy shit RUN!! Just go, go, GOOOO!!!!!

There are folks who think this sort of living arrangement for married people is weird.  My mother and my sister both seemed confused by the decision.  What’s funny is they both wanted to know how we would…  well…  YOU know…  (awkward pause).  I assured them that that was one of the first things we figured out years ago when we first got together and that they shouldn’t worry about it too much.  It’s actually kind of funny to watch my mother blush and stutter and giggle when she tries to ask me about my sex life.

My maternal grandparents had separate bedrooms.  As a child I thought it was strange.  I thought married people were supposed to sleep in the same bed together.  That surely if they loved each other, they’d want to.  Thirty years later, I see it much differently.  I wonder if my Nannie loved having her own room as much as I do.

Categories: Telling Stories, The Homestead | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

I Lost My Mojo

My summer has been full of beach, birthday parties, family visits, new chickens, road trips, plays, puppets, writing, knitting, and watching the X-Files.  That last one was necessary.  I discovered that my husband had only ever seen 3 or 4 episodes of the X-Files and I nearly divorced him immediately in surprise and rage.  “What is the matter with you?”  I screamed.  “What college nerd in the 90s DIDN’T watch the X-Files?  What the hell were you DOING on Sunday nights?”  To which he sheepishly replied, “Sunday night was D&D with my friends.”  I almost blew a blood vessel laughing at how he out-nerded me.  Well played, sir.

As amazing as our summer has been, a dark cloud hangs over our family.  We lost our Mojo.


My cat Mojo, who has been my companion for 14 years, disappeared at the beginning of June without a trace.  We made posters, handed out flyers, talked to neighbors, walked the neighborhood.  For weeks we gathered information, called his name, and waited for the phone to ring.  I cried and cried.

Always the life of the party, that Mojo.

All summer long, the emptiness that used to be Mojo has been curled up in the corners of the house.

I still have my girl cat Tozi.  She’s feisty and funny, but she’s not a lap cat.  She’s Little Boy’s cat.  She follows him around and plays with him and bothers him.  He pets her and loves on her and plays with her, but she’s not interested in being my Sweet Cuddly Love Baby.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Not like my Mojo was.

He could still come home.

Seriously. Mojo.

Categories: Cowgirl's Livestock, Telling Stories, The Homestead | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Time Off

This whole past week and a half have been filled with visitors, both family and friends.  We’ve crammed about 6 months worth of fun into that time, too.  We’re pretty good at that.

First was Memorial Day weekend, when two old friends of mine from high school came to Savannah with families in tow.  We went to the beach, we played, we talked, we drank.  It was great.

Party responsibly kids.

Then I had a day to vacuum and change the sheets and my dad came for a visit.  We only get to see him once or twice a year, so we soaked up all the PaPa love we could.  More beach, movies, pizza, and presents.

It’s been amazing and fun, but I’ll be glad when I can get back to my routine of watering my garden, hanging out with the chickens, and riding my bike all over town in the summer heat.

Next up is a trip to visit my sister in Tennessee, where Little Boy will have a whole week to play with his 6 year old girl cousins (the Twinzillas!).  Summer vacation!

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Busy Week Is Busy

This whole past week has been much crazier and busier than I am willing to be on a regular basis.  I won’t go into detail on all the stories, but here’s the blog version….

Last Saturday, the day after our beach fun with friends, the whole family went down to River Street to see the Tall Ships.  The Herban Cowboy was performing two puppet shows with the Puppet People, and Little Boy and I tagged along for the pirates and the face painting.  It was a HOT day (sunburn for Mommy!), but SO much fun.  My mom came down and Herban Cowboy treated us all to lunch at the Boar’s Head (grilled fresh tilapia with cheese grits — I almost licked the plate).

Giant puppets!

Real pirates!


Halfway through the day, as Little Boy was getting his face painted, I noticed my wedding ring was gone.


I stared off into space and very quietly had a three minute panic attack while Morgann painted a shark on my kid’s face.  I didn’t tell the guys until later.  Why spoil their day, too?

Land shark!

Sunday, I shook off the blues and we took a family trip to Home Depot to order a new stove.  My old one was down to one working burner, and we desperately needed a new one.  We looked around at a few second hand options, but my mom really wanted me to have a new one, and offered to pay half.  Which came out to about the amount of the second hand ones we’d looked at.  So despite our Possum Living inclinations, we gave a fat wad of cash to a big box corporation for a new appliance.  To be delivered Wednesday.  So no, I don’t get to feel superior that I saved the planet by buying local and used, but I will get a shiny new stove.  So it’s still a win.

Later that afternoon, we all went mulberry picking.  Our friend D came over with a big sheet for catching fallen berries, we grabbed a bucket, and headed off to search for fruiting trees.  Most of them we found were either full of green berries, or past fruiting, with empty branches and purple stains on the ground below.  We finally hit pay dirt behind a grocery store in our neighborhood.  D put the sheet down, she and the Herban Cowboy shook the tree and gathered the fallen, I pulled them by hand from the branches, and Little Boy grazed happily on the low hanging fruit.

Little Boy and D, working hard and filling their bellies.

Purple jazz hands!


I love picking mulberries.  Reaching through the branches, sunlight filtering through the canopy, seeing the gleaming jewels of red and purple, feeling the scratching of the leaves on my arms and face, the earth and berry juice under my feet (yes, I was barefoot).  There’s something primally joyful about picking berries from tree branches.  All the pleasure centers of my brain were LIT.  High on berry picking.  I’m such a nature nerd.

Pictured: Nature Nerd Feet

I’m going to make mulberry jam, but 1) My new stove doesn’t arrive until Wednesday, 2) I need a 10 quart saucepan and 3) I need more mulberries.  So I froze what we collected on Sunday, and there in my freezer they await their jammy, jammy fate.

Shining purple jewels of treasure!

Monday morning, Little Boy and I lazed around the house, playing games, watching DVDs and reading books.  I was tired from the weekend, and still down about my lost wedding ring.  I kept NOT hearing and feeling the metallic “clink” when my finger taps against a hard surface.  I noticed its absence.  The weather seemed to mirror my mood, with thunderstorms forecast, and dark clouds and intermittent pattery showers.

We needed to go to the bank before the afternoon thunderstorms hit, so we hitched up the bike trailer and started off the half mile to the bank.  I figured we could make our deposit and still have time to hit someplace up for an easy lunch.  Once a week or so Little Boy and I like to have a “lunch date” somewhere.  Maybe we’ll beat the rain.

On the way to the bank, I spot one of the homeless men who lives in my neighborhood.  He and his mother? sister? — they’re definitely related, but sun and wind have made it difficult to determine their ages — anyway, they live in a tent in a little wooded patch behind a gas station.  We see them when we’re walking to the Dollar Store or riding the bus and we’ve spoken with them several times.  On different occasions I’ve offered them blankets, hand-knitted hats and scarves, and lunch.  They always refuse (though the Herban Cowboy has reported that the man has asked him for money).

The woman always has nice words to say to my boy, and he likes the two of them.  Because of his affection for them, we’ve had to have the conversation about friends vs. acquaintances vs. strangers and what the safety protocols are with each category.  I don’t think they’d hurt me or Little Boy, but I do have a feeling that the man is a petty criminal and con man.  Nothing to base that on but instinct, but nevertheless, I am friendly but cautious with them.

So on the way to the bank I see the man.  He’s alone, and I realize I haven’t seen HER in over a week.  My curiosity overcomes me and I stop and ask, “I’m sorry if this is personal, but where is K?  I haven’t seen her in a while.”

He tells me she has pneumonia, and is lying down in their tent in the woods.  He was trying to find something for her to eat.  I told him I’d see what I could find.

Little Boy and I continued to the bank, all the while talking about what was happening.  I explained to him that Miss K was very sick, and she only had R to take care of her.  I told him that she was hungry and needed food before the thunderstorms came, so I thought we could give her our lunch, since there’s still food at home for us to eat.  He didn’t like that idea at first.

“Mommy, I don’t WANT to go to Kroger I want to go to lunch with you.”

“Listen,” I said as I locked up the bike outside the grocery store, “I want to go to lunch with you, too, but we do that all the time.  I don’t want to go into Kroger either, but there’s a sick, old, hungry lady who’s all alone and needs our help.  And I just couldn’t live with myself if she got even sicker or even died just because we didn’t feel like going into the grocery store.”

He considered this as he took off his helmet and followed me into Kroger.  We got chicken, black eyed peas and turnip greens from the deli, some fresh fruit, and a jug of purified water.  Then we loaded up and headed back.  Rain drops fell here and there, threatening to open up at any moment, though no thunder yet.

We gave the food to R, and continued home, making it back just before the sky opened up and sent a big, fat shower.  The whole thing shook me up all day.  I’m all for living in the woods, but I’d like to have food and good shelter and help when I’m sick.  The piles of trash bothered me, too.  What if that was my mother?  What if that was me?

It put my lost wedding ring into perspective, that’s for sure.

And then to drive home the fact that all my problems really are First World Problems, my shiny new stove arrived yesterday.

So shiny. So pretty.


Categories: Fabulous Foraging, Kitchen Witchery, Telling Stories, The Homestead, Unschooling | Leave a comment

Taking Dictation

I’ve been meaning to blog about the last several days:  going to River Street to see the Tall Ships, losing my wedding ring, buying lunch for a sick homeless lady, and all the food coming out of my garden.

But right now I’m feverishly cleaning the kitchen in preparation for the delivery of our new stove (yay!), so all I have time to post is the story that Little Boy dictated to me this morning.

He told me he wanted to write a book, and he needed my help.  So I opened up another window and told him to let me have the story.  Here it is:


THE WOLF AND THE BUNNY as told to Daisy by Little Boy (age 4)

Once upon a time in a great jungle there was a wolf and a bunny.  And they lived forever and ever until they died.  And then the wolf wanted the bunny to do tricks like a dog.  And THEN the bunny did not do it.

And the wolf was like, “Hey do the tricks!  Do the tricks!  Hunch it!  Hunch it!  DO the tricks!  (Hunch it means Do it)”

Well, the bunny said, “Well, only if you say please.”

The wolf said “Please.”

And the bunny said “Yay!”, and then he did a somersault and a cartwheel.

And then the wolf sent a bear.  The bear said, “Why did you send me here?”

The wolf said, “’Cause I wanted you to see my bunny’s tricks.”

The bear said, “Oh I would love to see your bunny’s tricks.”

And the bunny started.  And then the bunny did the cartwheel and the somersault.

The bear said, “Yay!  That was great.”  And he clapped.

And then the bear dived into a pond for a cool bath after a nice, long day.  Then the next morning the bear found that the bunny stayed still.  And the bear thought “The other day the bunny said he would do the tricks every morning, but now it’s just standing there.”

And the bunny said, “Wow!”

Then the bunny found the pond where the bear jumped in.  He found the bear’s hairs that had come off.  And then the bunny had an idea.  He would make a straw house out of the hairs for him.  And the wolf, too.  Of course.

And then the wolf came over and said, “What did you make?”

And the bunny said, “I made a straw house for us.  Isn’t that nice?  And you can live next door to me and I’ll live next door to you.  And the bear can live across the street.”

And then he saw that the bunny made a sculpture, too.  The wolf was proud.  He said, “Oh holey moley golly geesh that is so amazing!”

And then the wolf sent the bunny to his house and then the wolf went into his house and then the bear went into his house and they lived happily ever after in the jungle where the griffins live.  And then they died while they were sleeping.  They didn’t know, they just did it.

The End.


I removed a few superfluous ands at the beginnings of sentences, but otherwise, this is the story as told to me.  He’s already done character sketches for the bear, the bunny, the wolf, and a griffin.  He’s also sketched a mouse and a fire-tailed dragon crocodile, but I’m not sure how they figure in to the story.

If I can get the scanner working today, pictures will be forthcoming…….

Categories: Telling Stories, Unschooling | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing to Beach About

We were all set to be lazy bums yesterday.  All.  Set.  Stack of DVDs to watch, books to read, yarn and knitting needles, snacks ready, jammies on.

Then my phone rang.

It was my friend A (whose daughter O is Little Boy’s bestest friend ever).  Her plans for the day fell through, and she was DYING to go to the beach with us.

Uh….  YES.  Yes PLEASE.

Okay everybody no time to nap get your suit on where’s my backpack put your shoes on do we have 2 clean towels make sure you pee before they get here put your shoes on I’ll get your car seat where’s my flip flops I said put your shoes on please……….

And so it came to pass that our crappy, grouchy, tired morning was magically transformed into an amazing afternoon full of sun and wind, running on the sand, swimming in the ocean pounded by the incoming tide, flying the robot kite, sipping frozen cocktails (virgin drinks for the little ones!), chasing the downed beach umbrella and flying the kite at the same time (that was me), and gossiping and joking and laughing and laughing and laughing.

We’re at the beach!

She never took her Little Mermaid wig off.  He never took the Spiderman goggles from the top of his head.

Dig a sand castle? Or play in the water?

Play in the water!

Um…. Ok… Now what?

I think I saw a sea monster! RUN!

I’ll save you!

Oh nevermind. You totally got this.

Categories: Just For Fun, Telling Stories | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A Special Perspective

Hanging out with Uncle Buddy.

My uncle is the R word (retarded).  I’ve also heard him referred to as special, handicapped, or disabled.  All these words are supposed to have some sort of negative stigma attached to them, so I’m never sure which term to use to describe my Uncle Buddy.  He’s an old man now, my mom’s twin brother.

He and my mother both seemed perfectly normal when they emerged from my grandmother 60-something years ago in rural Georgia.  But as the years passed, Buddy didn’t grow as tall as his twin Sissy.  He kept falling off his bike.  He couldn’t keep up in school.  Then he started having seizures.  By the time he was 11, he had to be sent to Gracewood Institute in Augusta, a One-Flew-Over-The-Cuckoo’s-Nest kind of state institution for the mentally and physically disabled.

There’s a lot about my Uncle Buddy’s life that I don’t know.  I don’t know what it was like to be separated from his family (there were 5 siblings), especially his twin, my mother.  I don’t know what life in Gracewood was like in the late 50s.  I don’t know what kind of medications or treatments he’s been subjected to.  I don’t know what his relationships to his minimum wage caregivers have been.  So much of his life will forever be a mystery, mostly because he can’t communicate very much.

I do know some things.  I know that my grandmother kept her family together.  On visiting weekends, she’d be up before dawn, preparing a picnic lunch, including fried chicken and a coconut cake (Buddy’s favorite).  The kids would be groomed, and crammed into the car with the picnic lunch and my grandfather.  They’d tootle on down the road to Augusta from Hinesville, check Buddy out of Gracewood, and spend the next few bittersweet hours playing and eating and being a real family.  Then Buddy would be left behind, the rest of the family would go back home, and everyone’s hearts would break again.  Buddy hated Gracewood.

I remember when Uncle Buddy could still walk around.  That was when I was little, in the 70s.  Buddy’s balance wasn’t the greatest, and he had massive scars on his body where he’d taken some nasty spills.  That’s why he wore the football helmet.  Yes, you read that right and I am not making that up.  The stereotypical “retard” joke is the guy wearing a football helmet who talks funny and falls down a lot.  Well, in the 70s, that was totally my Uncle Buddy.

His body has continued to deteriorate gradually, so that now, in his 60s, he is wheelchair bound and can’t move much except his head and hands.  Quite honestly, I don’t think anyone expected him to live this long.  And yet here he is.

And he IS here.  He is mentally retarded, but his mind hasn’t deteriorated at the same rate as his body.  Buddy is still here.  He laughs at my jokes and wants a hug and asks me about things we talked about in our previous visit.  He gets tickled to the point of tears when my sister and I “fight” over which one of us is his favorite.  He gets grouchy and doesn’t like some people.  Sometimes he finishes my mom’s sentences when she’s in another room and drifts off.  He talks about love all the time (it’s pretty groovy).

Just last year, Buddy was moved from Gracewood (where he’d lived for over 50 years) to a house near Savannah with 24 hour care and a wheelchair bound roommate named Philip.  My mother and her sisters worked and worried over the transition in his care, coordinating it all while traveling back and forth from Texas and South Carolina to Georgia.

During the day, he goes to the Coastal Center for Developmental Services.  He calls it his “work”.  So today, my mom came and got me and Little Boy.  I packed a picnic lunch:  tuna salad, homemade bread, spinach salad, carrot and red bell pepper strips, hummus, lentil dip and a banana.  We crammed into Grandma’s car and met Uncle Buddy at work for lunch.  It was 80 degrees and sunny.  We ate at a shaded table out back by the Center’s vegetable, herb, and flower garden.  A gorgeous day.  Smiling faces.  Happy bellies.  Lots of love.

Well, mostly lots of love.  Today Little Boy confessed that he gets “bored” when we visit Uncle Buddy.  I told him I do, too.  He gave me that look he does when he’s trying to figure out whether or not I’m messing with him.  “Seriously?” he asked.

“Seriously,” I said.  “It’s totally boring.  I mean, we just sit there mostly, right?.”

He looked puzzled.  “Then why do we go?”

“Because it’s not boring to Buddy.  This lunch is just a little boring to us, because there’s no cartoons or rides or magic tricks.  But to Buddy WE are the magic.  He loves his family more than anything.  We can fill his whole day with love and smiles with just a little bit of patience and some homemade bread.  It’s a pretty cool gift to be able to give, when you think about it.”

We rock the picnic lunch.

He considered this.  “Mommy,” he finally declared, “I want to go have lunch with Uncle Buddy.”

I grinned.  “Me, too.”

Then we pinkie swore that we would mind our manners and not use any rude words out in public today.

Categories: Telling Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Can you still say “Gypsy”?

I want to live in a gypsy caravan.  Little sleeping nook, some comfortable seating, a tiny kitchen and a dirty-hippie composting toilet.  Weather permitting I’d cook outside, poop outside, and even shower outside.  I’d keep some chickens, a little garden, and an apiary for honey.  I’d forage and fish.  In crappy weather we’d hunker down inside, playing games, reading, knitting, writing, making art, etc.

I would need some modern conveniences.  Internet and running water access are mandatory.  A small amount of electricity would be required.  Gotta update my Facebook status.

I’d need some groceries.  Salt, whole wheat flour, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and olive oil.

This is what I’m practicing for.

I suck at blogging.  That should have been a link.

Categories: Cowgirl's Livestock, Fabulous Foraging, Green Goddess Garden, Just For Fun, Possum Living, Telling Stories, The Homestead, Unschooling | Leave a comment

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