Bella Rum

Let’s Talk Eye to Eye


It’s very early, still dark outside, and an aggressive downpour is pounding the roof. I don’t know how H can sleep through it.  He’s talented that way.

H brought some things down from the attic yesterday: wreaths, my old sled, garlands. We haven’t gotten to the tree yet, but I heard H telling Lilou that we’re going to put Dickens’ Village up this year. She won’t be able to keep her hands off of it. She won’t bother the houses, but she’ll love playing with the people. I learned a trick a few years ago. When the older two were about 5 or 6, I bought a bunch of figures at Dollar Tree (3 for $1) and stopped using my original figures. They can play with the imposters all they want. 

H hung the wreaths on the windows yesterday. It was a calm, cloudless, sunny day. As soon… and I mean AS SOON as he finished, a crazy wind started wildly blowing them to and fro until it finally flipped one of them completely backwards. We have eerie wind here. It comes over the pasture.

I went to a regular ophthalmologist last week. I haven’t been in years, but I thought it was about time for a regular checkup. I knew she wouldn’t be able to do much to improve my vision, but it’s past time for  the other things an ophthalmologist checks, even though I wasn’t really worried about glaucoma or macular degeneration. I figure anyone who has the retina issues that I have is not going to get struck by lightning twice. It’s only a theory, but it turned out to be true – nothing new here. Thankfully. When I told her I have Idiopathic Juxtafoveal Retinal Telangiectasis (IJRT), she said, “Boy, you didn’t win the lottery on retinas, did you?” Not exactly what you want to hear from an eye doc. I said, “It’s pretty rare.” She said she’d seen thousands of patients, and I was only the third one with IJRT. And you know what ‘rare’ means in the world of research. Rare disease or condition = little or no profits for pharmaceutical companies = no research. I have a couple of pedestrian cataracts. Not as sexy as IJRT, but preferable.

The Weekend After

I’m up in the middle of the night again. I put a load of whites in the washer a while ago. May as well be productive. I scooted around to read some of your blogs, too. You always help me through the night. I remember when I lived at Dad’s and the dogs across the creek would wake me in the middle of the night. Blogging saved my life when I lived there, both the reading and the writing and all the supportive comments.

Today was a stay-at-home day. I cannot face the crowds. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday, and I always try to keep my head down through the weekend following Thanksgiving. If I wanted a bargain, I could have gone online, but I didn’t. Yesterday, I heard that “they” are going to try to push the shopping frenzy of Black Friday all the way back to the day/days before Thanksgiving. What is happening? I’ll stop here. This is me pulling back, using restraint, and not forcing you to listen to a rant.

Yesterday was a quiet day, a drink water, do stuff around the house kind of day. I wrapped the birthday presents for the two grands’ December birthdays. I haven’t started on the Christmas presents, but that’s next. H cut the grass, more for the purpose of getting the leaves up and bagging them than cutting the grass. There will be a trip to the dump soon.

All of the fall decorations have been scooped up, placed in their containers and closeted away. The straw man has been relieved of his bib overalls and straw hat and dismantled, all of his straw bagged and ready for the dump. The bright yellow mum and Cinderella pumpkin… poof. All gone. As if it never happened. All signs of marking the season are gone. I really could have kept all of it for another week. I love fall decorations.

If I don’t start some of the decorating today, I’ll probably start wrapping Christmas presents. Oh, what about Christmas cards? I like to lie low, and start some of these things on the weekend after Thanksgiving. I usually have the lion’s share of my shopping done by now. I only have one more serious gift to get, but I have to wait until December 1. I have a $10 gift card that isn’t valid until then.  Except for that one gift, it’s all about stocking stuffers now.

H found some delicious lemon thins at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago. I went back and bought several more packages. I like to have an extra gift or two for the unexpected visitor that arrives with a bunt cake or cookies? One year, H’s cousins stopped by with a couple of bottles of wine. We don’t exchange gifts, and they did not expect anything in return, but I like to have a little something just in case. I’ll add a jar of jam and/or box of herbal tea. I just don’t bake like I used to.

So that’s how I spend the weekend after Thanksgiving. I’m a preparer. What do you do?

Wow, I started this post ages ago, but did laundry in-between. Now it’s time for coffee.


I’m in a pensive mood tonight. I was exhausted after the ride home, and fell asleep early. Now I’m awake in a quiet, cool house. I donned my soft, fluffy, stay-at-home socks before even getting out of the bed. I turned the fireplace on a few minutes ago, and it will be warm as toast in here soon.

I was happy to be with family yesterday. I always know that Aunt Ruby may not be with us on the next holiday, yet she keeps ticking. Endurance is her thing. There was talk of assisted living, though her resources are minimal. I don’t know what will happen on that front, and it’s on my mind.

My brother was quiet and dealing with a painful back and probably feeling like I felt – there’s a lot of missing family. I did pretty well the year after Dad died and even the next, but this year I felt the absence of family: sisters (one passed and one who lives far away), nieces and nephews and kids who have their own families and traditions. It’s a natural progression, but traditions are the backbone of holidays. We make traditions, we break traditions, we modify traditions and we ultimately miss relinquished traditions – what ever the reason for their disappearance.

My cousin Sue, Aunt Ruby’s daughter, was there. I’ve rekindled a relationship with her over the past few years since she’s started coming to our Thanksgiving dinners. She’s younger than I am, about the age of some of my nieces. She lived next door, and I loved her to pieces when she was a little girl. Then I moved away when she was still a child and hardly ever saw her again. In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate how atrophied relationships can be revived, and how the old bond, if massaged the tiniest bit, can spring back to life in a more mature and even deeper way. It’s a wonderful thing. I’ve lost a lot of people in the past decade, but I’m beginning to see that I have new-old relationships all around me in the form of nieces, nephews and cousins.

My brother’s son is my favorite relative of all time. I could spend all day telling you how much I love him and why. His three little girls are growing up. What beauties they are and so smart. It’s fun to watch them interact. Sisters! What a special bond that is.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, but bittersweet. I’m glad for this holiday. I’m grateful for it. But it is a day of reflection and reflection does what it will with us. Still… the mashed potatoes and gravy helped a lot, and the bread pudding didn’t hurt.

Today’s agenda: drink lots of water, exercise, eat clean

Note: Only two mentions of politics. Once when Aunt Ruby mentioned President Obama’s pardoning of the turkeys, Tater and Tot, and another when H heard someone mention President-Elect Trump’s selection for Secretary of Education. Not sure what was said.

Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-horn-of-plentyI just wrote an obnoxious post about a run-in with a company about an online purchase, but I decided today, the day before Thanksgiving, is not the day to hit publish on an annoyance that has already been resolved. Besides, it’s out of my system now.

This morning I’m making my dishes to take to Thanksgiving dinner. H is prepping for the marinated vegetable salad for me, and I’m showing him how to make my pumpkin pie recipe. The oven will soon be making that wonderful holiday smell of pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon. I turned the television off the news, which is nigh on to driving me crazy, to the channel that plays seasonal tunes. I’m part of the population that likes Christmas carols.

I talked with my brother this morning. Thank goodness he loves to keep family gatherings a part of our lives. He is committed to it, and I love him for it. He reminded me to bring a big cooler for oysters, shrimp and venison. H enjoys venison, but I’ll take care of the shrimp, thank you very much. We both love oysters.

We plan to take Route 5 down to my brother’s. It’s a historic route, established in 1619. Its plantations and farms along the James River have survived the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the War Between the States. Years ago, we used to ride H’s motorcycle there. It’s a beautiful drive. It takes a little longer, but we decided to leave early and enjoy. There will be less traffic and no traffic lights. That’s a bonus even if it takes longer.

I commented on a blog yesterday that I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and it’s true. It’s been a good year, and I haven’t always been able to say that. Who among us has? Whatever your situation this year, I hope you can enjoy this day of thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Losing Your Bag and Your Hairstylist

img_1881Frosty Pasture at Sunrise

H is outside with the guy from our irrigation system company. Even though he called them one-and-a-half months ago, this was the earliest appointment he could get. The past three nights have fallen below freezing. Now we know; make the appointment in late August next year.

Even though our nights have gotten colder, our days have been pure splendor. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant a few days ago, and I could hardly believe it was warm enough to eat on their patio. After all, it is late November, but was a perfect day. While I was sitting there, I noticed a car pulling out of the parking lot. The driver’s purse was sitting on top of the car. I actually stood up and started to wave my arms, but it was too late. She was gone. Dollars to a donut that she had a couple of kids in the backseat. They can make you forget anything. When my son was little, I lost a diaper bag that way. It was a good bag, too. When I realized it was gone, I went back to look for it, but it was gone. C’est la vie.

We went to Williamsburg last Friday. After a very short time at the outlets, we opened the sunroof and drove down the Colonial Parkway. It’s a beautiful drive anytime of year, but it’s especially pretty in the fall. What a nice day it was.

We’re puzzling again. This one is “Tis the Season” by Cobble Hill. Now we’re working on “Snow Bird.”

I like my hairstylist very much, not only because she does a good job, but she’s a very nice person. Even though it’s a bit of a drive, I enjoy the small, historical town where it’s located, and the entire experience of the shop with its friendly people, tall, original tin ceilings and antique furnishings and hardwood floors, but… On my last visit, when the woman at the check-out desk handed me my charge slip, I noticed a $14 increase. There have been increases over the few years I’ve gone there, but really? I thought there was a mistake. I asked if it was correct, and she said that the increase had taken place a few days before. I guess I’ll look for a new hairstylist who’s closer to my house. Losing your hairstylist is almost as bad as losing your purse.

Conversation with H

Bella: When you look at me, I think I’m beautiful. Then I look in the mirror.

H: Don’t look in the mirror.



H opened the front door the other night and a bird flew inside. The poor little thing (the bird, not H) was scared half to death. We opened all the doors and windows and waited for him to make his exit. He did and all ended well, but isn’t that an omen of some kind? I’ll have to look it up.

Last Saturday, I opened the door to find two men on my doorstep who wanted to come in and proselytize. Now you know that’s a sign of something or other.

We went to H’s cousin’s for dinner on Tuesday night. Boy, was that a long, dark drive in the country. They still get those old-fashioned nights out there where, when they say you can’t see your hand in front of your face, they mean it.

We’ve only kept in loose contact with her over the years. When I was at the hospital for tests before the ablation, we ran into her at the information desk. She volunteers there, and she invited us for dinner. It was a nice evening until she asked what church we attended. It’s never comfortable when that question is asked at a tableful of church goers and you’re not one. Even though no malice is intended, you feel a little like a bug under a microscope, nowhere to hide and all blemishes magnified.

We live in a church-going part of the country, and we’ve lapsed. It seems that every time we see someone we haven’t seen in a while or meet someone new, the question arises. H and I were both, as we say down here, raised in the church – Baptist. The question isn’t asked to make us squirm (maybe a little). It’s asked because it’s assumed that we attend somewhere. When we tell them that we don’t attend anywhere, they invite us to their church, which is exactly what she did. Then H leaves it to me to squirm out of it like the little worm that I am. She was not giving up easily. She still goes to H’s old church in his hometown, “There are a  lot of people there who want to see you.”

I believe people mean well. They seem a little burdened with the outcome of our souls. It’s all love, but a sticky love. Sometimes I think it would be better to bake some cookies, rent a hall, hold a meeting and tell everyone at one fell swoop that we’ve “fallen away.”

Still, it was nice to eat comforting food, catch up with family and see the new baby.

Then the conversation turned to the Tea Party movement.

On to  other things…

I threw myself out of bed again. It’s been a while. I was in a meadow with potentially dangerous horses, and I had to throw myself across a ditch to get away. When I woke, my bottom half was still in bed, but my top half was hanging on to the nightstand for dear life. I knocked everything off the tabletop and broke a small blue-and-white bowl and my onyx lamp. Only the light bulb broke and where the bulb attached to the base. H fixed it for me. I have a huge bruise on my left shoulder and breast. Lovely.

I searched the bird-flying-in-the-house thing. Superstition holds that a bird flying into a house means a death is likely to happen soon. Another superstition claims that it only means change is coming. No mention of church attendance.

Bella Rum is off to Williamsburg today where “The Anglican gentry in Virginia has long had a reputation for shallow faith and attendance at church born more of habit and a desire for social contact than piety or zeal.” — Colonial Williamsburg


The first thing we do, let’s kill all the pollsters. Isn’t that what Shakespeare really meant to say?

I wonder how FBI Director James Comey felt last night when President-elect Donald Trump said he wasn’t sure if he would or would not fire Comey. Heads-up, Director Comey.

I watched on Tuesday night. The whole event was made less painful by texting with my D-I-L. When the handwriting was on the wall, we both gave up and went to bed. Of course, acknowledging exactly when it was over was different for some of us than others. H kept telling me it was over long before my D-I-L and I gave up, threw in the towel, rang the bell… ding, ding, ding, ding. Game over. Please vacate the arena.

So we move on….

… to Thanksgiving where there will be relatives of all political stripes. That should be interesting for a lot of families this year. As always, we are going to my brother’s house. My aim is to get drunk… on carbs. My long-planned strategy involves an attack on all the beige foods I’ve avoided for the past few months: mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing/stuffing, bread, etc.  And when that one relative starts talking politics, I’ll head to the dessert table to find that incredible cranberry bread pudding with hard sauce that my cousin always makes. If all else fails, I’ll be sitting with Aunt Ruby. She loves me no matter who I vote for, and always talks enough to keep everyone else quiet. Of course, there was that one Thanksgiving she wanted to know how often I went to church.

In other areas of forward movement…

I’ve started my Christmas/birthday shopping. Remember, we have two December birthdays. My grandson was born on the 21st and the littlest one on the 28th. Amazingly, in only a couple of days, I put a huge dent in it. I made one trip to brick-and-mortar stores and did the rest online. Except for one birthday gift, I’m down to stocking stuffers. I always try to finish before Thanksgiving. I hate shopping with the crowds or trying to find something that isn’t in stock.

Today, the repairman is returning to fix the fireplace. H finally called them. They’ve had the part for over a week but forgot about us.

There was severely serious frost on the pasture yesterday morning.

Bella Rum is dreaming about sweet potato casserole and corn pudding.

The Most Important Day of the Year

H and I are married 47 years today. We usually celebrate our anniversary quietly, and this year will be no different. He’s at the grocery store buying ingredients for a pot of chili. We’ll make it this afternoon. It isn’t exactly on our diet, but it’s our anniversary and election day. I figure that chili is versatile enough to work for celebration or consolation. You never know when you may need both.

I always love election day. I’ve decided to feel good about the process today. It’s taken a beating lately, but no matter eleventh-hour FBI announcements, accusations of “rigging” or attempts of an external entity to influence our election, the process will go forward. This evening, when the eyes of the world turn toward us, H and I will be settling down in front of the television with steaming bowls of chili. There’s nothing better than watching your vote be counted except believing that it counts.

The Home Stretch


Our Youngest on Halloween

I can hear H moving the ladder around and climbing up on the roof. If we ever divorce, it will not be about another woman, it will be about that ladder and his penchant for high places. He’s cleaning the leaves that gather in the many angles of this roof. It’s a handsome roof with lots of interest, but those angles are excellent leaf-catchers.

I’ve heard so many metaphors over this past year. Some of them were incredibly descriptive and accurate and even funny. I wish I’d written some of them down. I heard one this morning. It’s graphic but accurate. I’m paraphrasing. — This last week of the race is like one long, dry heave. We’ve vomited almost all the disgusting stuff up, and there’s nothing left but the heave.

Have you ever heard that we get the leaders we deserve? We choose them to represent us. They come from our ranks. We educate them, grow them, nurture them, foster their ideas, beliefs, and choices. They are us. God, I hate being one of those old people who talks about the decline of our national moral fiber. I’m not a negative person. Really. I only want you to be prepared for the water pressure to drop on November 9 when we all take that collective shower.

Now let me tell you something that isn’t tragic. I recently figured out that I’m allergic to kiwi fruit. My ears itch after I eat it. Is that the silliest thing? It’s only a few minutes and not bad enough that I would refuse to eat it under any circumstances, but I probably won’t put it in my fruit salad anymore.

The Grand Trio is coming this weekend. There’s nothing like innocence to make a body believe in possibility.


H put the flower beds to bed this week. He pulled up all the zinnias and stuffed them in Lilou’s bucket that usually keeps her bathtub toys. I thought they were perfect.

Life has been uneventful here on the horse farm. The days are getting shorter and the nights and mornings cooler, probably just like where you are. We close the blinds before 6:30 and turn on a couple of lamps with low-wattage lightbulbs. It always feels so comfortable in here.

The heat goes on at night. H called someone to look at the gas fireplace. We thought it might be nice to have use of it on these cool mornings. As is always true with our appliances and such, there was a faulty part. As always, the repairman did not have the part on the truck. So we wait. No problem. It isn’t necessary. Only a pleasant thing. 

I’m sixty-six years old. My mother died when I was twenty-three and I still think about her. I think about her more lately. I’m not sure why. I’ve long outlived her age. I was barely a woman when she died, and still I think about her. This tells me how much impact mothers have on their children – maybe even more on those who lose their mothers before they have a chance to know them well into adulthood. I didn’t have the time to work through my grief prior to her death like I did with Dad. She was there one day and gone the next. When you see someone slowly lose themselves, you are more ready when it ends. At least that was true for me. I suppose these things are different for each of us. 

I’m still eating healthfully. So is H. I’ve lost eighteen pounds, and I’m walking at least twenty minutes a day. I feel better. My doctor was thrilled. Okay. She was not thrilled. She was happy and congratulatory.  I’m thrilled.

I’m watching carbs but I’m not on the very low-carb diet that allows no more than 20 carbs a day or even 50. I think that’s too strict for me. I haven’t had a real dessert since I started and only two slices of bread and no pasta, but I would have them occasionally if I felt the draw. I still have a small potato now and then. I’ve fallen in love with fruit. It’s my dessert. I’m really into fruit salad. I make it with a couple of strawberries, for or five blue berries, one half of a kiwi fruit and walnuts. It is to die for. Ha! Fruit is so much sweeter when yo don’t eat rich desserts.